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It Might Just Come Back To Bite You

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The skies open just as Jungkook clocks off his nightshift.

His thin jacket provides little protection against the heavy downpour, and by the time he’s run the half-mile back home from the convenience store, he’s wet through and chilled to the bone, damp socks squelching unpleasantly in his water-logged shoes. He really needs to get a new pair (the soles are sporting more than one hole now) but he’ll just have to make do until his next pay cheque comes through. Food and rent come first, and he’s already been pulling extra shifts as it is just to make ends meet; he can’t afford to splurge on accessories until the bills have been paid.

Reaching his towering apartment complex and slowing to a jog, he pushes open the gate and heads up the short path towards the main entrance, blinking the fat raindrops from his eyes.

Jungkook’s foot suddenly catches on a shadow, sending him staggering forwards a few paces as he tries to regain his balance, hands reaching out to catch himself against the wall of the building.

“Ow,” mumbles the shadow behind him.

Jungkook startles, wheeling around to stare back out into the gloom, eyes honing in on the distinctly man-shaped silhouette who appears to be sitting in the tiny flowerbed by the path, propped up against the fake-marble statue of some ancient forest deity. A man-shaped silhouette whose legs Jungkook has apparently just kicked.

“Oh god,” he breathes, hurrying to crouch down at the stranger’s side, setting a careful hand on his shoulder. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you. Are you hurt? Sir?”

The man’s chin has been lowered towards his chest, but at Jungkook’s tentative touch he slowly raises his head, tilting it back to rest against the decorative statue as he surveys his attacker silently for a moment. The nearby streetlamp had been too dim to light the path a moment ago, but curiously the stranger’s face is perfectly visible despite the gloom; with his angular jaw and high cheekbones, his skin’s so pale it almost seems to glow in the darkness.

Jungkook feels his breath catch in his throat, his heart giving a funny little flutter beneath his breastbone because holy fuck, he’s never seen anyone so beautiful in his entire life.

"Hey there, handsome.” The man’s lips curl up in a tired but happy smile, apparently unbothered by the fat rain droplets that are dripping from his fringe and down his cheeks. “Where’d you come from?”

In any other situation, a line like that would make Jungkook so incredibly flustered that he’d barely be able to string a sentence together, but given the unusual circumstances that he already finds himself in, being hit on by a good-looking guy is really the least of his worries.

“I live here,” he answers simply, because honesty is easy enough to articulate. “Um…do you? Live here, I mean?”

“Nooo,” the stranger replies, shaking his head somewhat drunkenly, like he only has partial control of his musculature. “I'm kinda lost...my head got fuzzy, I must've used the wrong gate, wasn't s'posed to end up on this side of town. Should've been home ages ago. Jin-hyung’s gonna freak out, it'll be dawn soon..."

The man suddenly groans softly, tilting his head back and closing his eyes. "M’really tired. Gonna take a nap, okay? Don’t worry about me, beautiful.”

Jungkook takes in the man’s appearance at a glance. Other than being soaked through, he doesn’t seem unkempt and his clothes appear to be of a decent quality – fashionable, even. He certainly doesn’t look like someone who’s accustomed to sleeping rough. Jungkook can’t smell any alcohol on him, either, and he’s generally got a good nose for that kind of thing. He gets it from his grandfather’s side; dormant hybrid genes that occasionally give him heightened olfactory senses and super-sharp hearing. Although usually that just means in the dead of night he can hear everyone in their apartment complex having sex, and it reminds him just how woefully single he is.

There’s a reason he wears earplugs to bed nowadays.

So if the man isn’t drunk, why is he behaving so strangely? Maybe he’s sick. Or concussed? Yugyeom had ploughed headfirst into a tree last summer during the campus Moon Run, and all their friends had thought he was drunk as fuck until they’d seen the egg-sized lump starting to swell near his temple. Poor Gyeomie hadn’t been able to walk in a straight line for hours after that. Still, it hadn’t all been bad – the Omega’s injuries had triggered the protective instincts of Im Jaebum, a senior Alpha who’d attended the run to support his two youngest Betas. Yugyeom had gone into the forest a lone wolf and emerged as the maknae of Jaebum’s pack, the lucky pup. And now he’s sickeningly in love with all six of them.

Nothing like that ever happens to Jungkook. The universe hates him.

“You can’t sleep out here,” he insists, the squelching if his sodden socks reminding him why he’d been in such a hurry to get inside a few minutes ago. “If you live nearby, maybe I could help you get home? Or I can call a taxi if you’d like?”

The stranger shakes his head again, still with that dazed little half-smile that makes him look far prettier than a man who’s sitting in a flowerbed at 4:55am has any right being.

“Can’t...driver won’t be able to find it.”

Has he forgotten where he lives? Maybe the man really is sick. Perhaps Jungkook should phone for an ambulance or something?

“S’okay,” the man reassures, reaching up to pat Jungkook’s cheek with damp, icy-cold fingers. “I already called for help. They’ll come find me…just need to wait a little longer. Gonna take a nap until they get here.”

The man’s chin starts to dip down towards his chest again, his eyelids drooping. Alarmed, Jungkook gives the slim shoulder a gentle shake.

“Hey, no, you need to stay awake,” he urges, wincing as the man’s head lolls at the jostling. “What’s your name? I’m Jungkook, Jeon Jungkook.”

“Mmmhiii, Jeon Jungkook,” the stranger slurs, with a stupidly beautiful grin. “Kim Taehyung. Call me Tae…wait, no, call me hyung. You’re kinda young, huh, pretty-boy?”

“I’m twenty-one,” Jungkook tells him, trying his best not to sound defensive. He doubts Taehyung meant it offensively, but he knows he has a ‘baby face’ – he hears it all the time from his friends and co-workers, with people constantly mistaking him for a high school student.

Taehyung pats his cheek again with a clumsy hand. “So small. So cute.” The man winces suddenly, rubbing at his brow. “Fuck, my head…”

A gust of wind reminds Jungkook just how drenched he is, chilling him to the bone as he shivers, gritting his teeth against the urge to chatter. Taehyung is still giving him all kinds of weird vibes, but he doesn’t seem dangerous, and in his current state of uncoordination it’s unlikely he could successfully overpower anyone. Besides, he doesn’t want the man to die of hypothermia on his doorstep when he can easily do something to prevent it.

His mind made up, Jungkook abruptly pulls the man’s arm across his shoulders, heaving them both upright and grunting as he’s forced to take most of Taehyung’s weight.

“Easy, tiger,” the man slurs, listing sideways dangerously. “At least let me take you to dinner first.”

Jungkook feels his cheeks flush red and for once is grateful for the pre-dawn gloom.

“C’mon, we need to get you inside where it’s warm,” he says, helping Taehyung further along the path one wobbly step at a time. “You can stay in my apartment until your friends come to get you, okay?”

He leans the man against the wall of the building so that he can fish out his keys from the pocket of his backpack, using the fob to unlock the outer door and wedging it open with his foot as he reaches for Taehyung once more. The weird-but-beautiful stranger is giving him a puzzled sort of look, glancing between Jungkook’s face and the unlocked door.

“You…you’re inviting me into your home?” the man slurs confusedly.

“I’m not about to leave you outside in the rain,” Jungkook reasons. “Oh! We’re in luck, they finally fixed the elevator.”

Given that Jungkook lives on the fifth floor, he couldn’t be more relieved – he hadn’t been looking forward to dragging his uncoordinated guest up ten flights of stairs. Granted, the elevator will probably be broken again by tomorrow; the property managers put plenty of effort into making the apartment complex look pretty on the outside, but they’re a little less generous when it comes to fixing the electrics or making sure the hot water works in winter. Jungkook would’ve moved out months ago if he could afford anything better, but money’s tight at the moment. Besides, he needs to live within walking distance of both the university campus and his two part-time jobs, and his current residence (despite its many, many flaws) does have the one bonus of being perfectly situated right in the middle of those three locations. He can live with the dodgy plumbing and unreliable electrics if it saves him from commuting long distances.

“Here we go,” he says cheerfully, a little out of puff by the time they finally make it to his apartment door. Jungkook quickly keys in the passcode and helps his guest inside, body relaxing at the heat that immediately surrounds them. “See? Nice and warm.”

The apartment is dark and quiet, and Jungkook belatedly remembers that Moonbin had said something about spending the night with Eunwoo and his pack. He has a brief moment of doubt regarding his current plan of action - if it turns out Taehyung is actually a total psychopath who's faking weakness just to lull Jungkook into a false sense of security, he's in deep shit.

The stranger shivers against his side, and that thought vanishes in a split second, replaced by a wave of concern.

“God, you’re freezing,” he worries, eyeing the man’s deathly pallor with concern. “Here, stay put for sec, let me grab you a towel. Maybe you should take a shower to warm up? You’re about my size, I can lend you some dry clothes…”

Toeing off his sodden shoes, he leaves the stranger propped up against the inside of the front door and squelches along the short entrance hallway in his sodden socks, grimacing as he leans down to peel them off. Binnie will inevitably slip and fall as soon as he comes home if Jungkook leaves puddles of water all over the place (like him, his roommate is distressingly clumsy at times), and then he’ll have an injured and pouty Were-cat to contend with, which is never a fun experience for his guilty conscience.

Switching on the overhead lights in the small living room, he goes to the storage shelves along the far wall, pulling the curtain back to fetch down a couple of spare towels from the basket at the top, grimacing when his wet t-shirt unsticks itself from his skin with the motion. He feels gross, and a shower sounds heavenly right now, but he’ll wait until after his guest is done; his parents raised him to be a courteous host, even to the most baffling of visitors…

An echoing thud makes him jump, and Jungkook clutches the towels to his chest as he runs back out into the hallway, sucking in a sharp breath at the sight of Taehyung sitting huddled against the door with his knees drawn up to his chest, face buried in his arms that are wrapped around his legs tight enough that his hands have turned bone-white. He’s trembling violently, and it would almost look like some sort of seizure if not for the fact that Taehyung is clearly trying to suppress the shivers wracking his body.

“Ai, you’re sick,” Jungkook frets, hurrying to crouch down at the man’s side. “Hyung, I…I think maybe you should go to the hospital.”

“N-not sick. I’m just…”

“Just what?” the younger man presses, unfurling one of the dry towels to wrap it around his guest’s shuddering frame. “Please, tell me how to help you.”

“Thirsty,” Taehyung croaks, in a voice that sounds so desperate it makes something in Jungkook’s chest ache for a reason he can’t quite explain. “I’m so thirsty…”

Jungkook nods. Thirst is something he can fix easily enough, thank god. “I’ll get you a drink, just sit tight-”

“No.” The distressed visitor shakes his head, arms tightening around his knees. “You don’t understand, I can’t…I need…”

He lifts his gaze at last, and Jungkook’s breath catches in his throat at the bloody crimson of his irises.

“Tell me to leave,” Taehyung begs, sounding more coherent now than he has been these past ten minutes. “Please, just tell me I’m not welcome in your home anymore. I shouldn’t be here, I can’t...I don’t know how to control it yet, I'm not even supposed to leave the nest on my own. I don’t wanna hurt you, Jungkook, please. My nestmates are coming, I’ll be okay, just throw me out. Your scent…I can’t be around you right now.”

Jungkook swallows past the lump that fear has lodged in his in his throat, before taking a deep, calming breath.

“So you’re a vampire,” he murmurs. Then, a little frustrated, “Why didn’t you say so earlier? God, you must be starving. Wait here, I’ve got just the thing.”

Taehyung’s trembling is getting worse, but Jungkook ignores it in favour of hurrying down the hallway and into the little box-room of a kitchen at the far end. It isn’t much, just a metre-length worktop with a tiny stove, a microwave, an under-cabinet refrigerator and a couple of overhead cupboards, but it’s enough to meet their needs. Neither he nor Moonbin are particularly skilled when it comes to the culinary arts – ramen, rice and sandwiches are generally their usual fare when they’re not eating at the university campus - and since they can't afford a lot of fancy ingredients anyway, a big kitchen would be wasted on them.

Grabbing one of the plastic pouches from inside the door of the fridge and chucking it in the microwave for a brief thirty-second warming to remove the chill, he gives the bloodbag it a vigorous shake and tests the temperature against the inside of his wrist. It’s not exactly body temp the way he knows Eunwoo likes it, but it’s warm, and he doubts Taehyung’s feeling picky about the precise centigrade in his current state of hunger. For the vampire to have reached such a point of thirst that it's making him physically ill like this, he must've gone a hell of a long time without feeding...unless he's newly-turned? Tae had mentioned that he wasn't supposed to leave the nest on his own, which suggests there's still a level of close supervision there. And nestlings, he knows, need to feed a lot more regularly than fully-matured vampires. 

“Here,” he says, returning to the hallway and crouching down in front of the vampire, offering him the blood-pouch with a tentative smile. “I hope it’s warm enough.”

Taehyung stares at him, wide-eyed.

“Go ahead, take it,” Jungkook encourages softly. “Moonbin won’t mind. He always keeps a few on ice in case Eunwoo drops by. I don’t know much about blood brands, but this is one of his favourites, so I guess it must be okay. Um…we might have a dark chocolate pouch if you prefer the flavoured kind-?”

His words are cut off abruptly when Taehyung - making a soft, needy noise in the back of his throat – surges forwards quickly, one hand wrapping around Jungkook’s where it holds the pouch as the other curls tightly around the younger man's wrist, anchoring him in place.

Jungkook sees a brief flash of sharp, gleaming fangs right before they pierce the oval-shaped rubber seal on the feeding pouch, the quiet pop making him jolt a little, heart jumping in his chest. He watches with slightly parted lips as Taehyung takes several rapid gulps without seeming to pause for breath, clearly seeking to sate the worst of his hunger. After a few moments, the vampire exhales shakily through his nose and loosens his grip on Jungkook’s wrist, enough that the human could pull away if he wanted to.

He doesn’t.

“There you go,” Jungkook murmurs, watching as the vampire closes his eyes, throat bobbing in a steady rhythm as he feeds. “Take your time, okay? There’s another pouch in the refrigerator if you need it.”

He’s never seen a creature of the night looking so incredibly vulnerable before; truthfully, he didn’t even know it was possible. He isn’t exactly acquainted with a lot of vampires outside of Eunwoo and Hyungwon, and even then he’s only befriended them through a third party, so he’s no expert. Maybe this is something that happens regularly? He wonders if Eunwoo ever gets like this around JinJin-hyung or the rest of his pack - Moonbin's never mentioned it before, and honestly, he really can’t picture it; not with how calm and collected his roommate’s boyfriend always seems to be whenever he comes over for a movie night.

Taehyung appears calmer now, the tension gone from his face and his limbs looser as he adjusts his gentle grip on the human’s hand to squeeze the pouch a little, pushing more blood up from the bottom.

“Feeling better?” Jungkook asks tentatively.

The vampire nods, his eyes fading from their fiery crimson back to a burnt amber, his thumb gently stroking over the back of Jungkook’s hand in what could possibly be interpreted as silent gratitude. It feels good. Despite being soaked to the bone, Jungkook's body is thrumming with a cosy warmth, and he's content to sit and watch as Taehyung feeds, enjoying the comfortable silence. 

It’s only a pint-pouch, and it takes Taehyung less than five minutes to drain it dry, the vampire pulling his fangs free of the rubber seal and letting go of Jungkook’s hand to slump back against the front door again, loose-limbed and breathing heavily. His pale cheeks are looking distinctly more flushed now, and the amber hue of his eyes has faded further into a warm brown as he blinks slowly, dazedly. His fangs retract in a flash, disappearing back into his gums, tongue poking out to clean his red-stained lips, before he gives Jungkook a sleepy, sated smile. 

“Thank you.”

Jungkook gives a tiny shrug, suddenly feeling shy. “No worries. Do you need more bl-...uh, would you like another pouch?”

The vampire's smile turns a little apologetic. “Your boyfriend won’t mind?”

“Moonbin’s the one with the boyfriend,” Jungkook corrects, and he really ought to be embarrassed by how keen he is for Taehyung to understand his absolutely-single-and-ready-to-mingle status, but his brain will undoubtedly treasure this moment for the next insomnia-triggering 3am Mental Regret Party. “He won’t mind though, it’s cool.”

He peels out of his wet jacket while he’s waiting for the second pouch to heat up in the microwave. He’ll need to air it out over the clothes hanger if he wants it to be anywhere close to dry by the time he leaves for his afternoon shift at the café. Gods, he still needs to sleep before then – it’s gone 5:30am already, he’s normally showered and safely conked out in bed at this hour, dead to the world. Work isn’t going to be much fun later on if he doesn’t get at least six hours sleep; nightshifts always leave him feeling horribly hungover.

There’s a strange rustling sound from the hallway just as Jungkook removes the warmed blood pouch from the microwave, like a whispery gust of wind is blowing right past the kitchen door, and the lights in the hallway flicker.

“Hyung?” Jungkook calls hesitantly, and jumps when he hears the low murmur of an unfamiliar voice.

Poking his head out into the hallway, he’s startled to see a tall figure crowding over Taehyung, draped in a long dark coat that sweeps all the way down to the floor. As he watches, the newcomer sinks to his knees and cups Taehyung’s face between his hands, murmuring something too quiet for Jungkook to make out. But the tone he can discern easily enough; Mr Dark-and-Mysterious sounds worried – cross, even. Perhaps it’s one of Taehyung’s nestmates…but how the hell did he get inside? Jungkook understands the basic principles of vampire lore, he knows they shouldn’t really be able to enter someone’s home uninvited, not unless they’re something more.

Curiosity piqued even further, Jungkook inches closer to the pair.

“What were you thinking?" the newcomer presses, still cradling Taehyung’s face tenderly between his hands. “Slipping out like that without telling anyone. You were gone almost nine hours, Tae, for god’s sake. I’ve been worried sick.

To Jungkook’s surprise, the younger vampire’s eyes are glistening wetly, his gaze flickering downwards in shame.

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung murmurs, his voice a little unsteady as he tilts his cheek into the newcomer’s touch. “I didn’t mean to stay out so late. I went to the Fae Forest to visit Taemin-hyung, but I must've used the wrong gate, it dumped me in a park somewhere. And I was so hungry, I didn't know which way was home…”

“You need to feed, baby” the cloaked stranger frets, and tugs up the sleeve on his left arm, lifting his bared wrist to Taehyung’s mouth as he gently palms the back of the younger vampire's head, guiding him closer.

Remembering the warm blood pouch still in his possession, Jungkook clears his throat quietly, then regrets it almost immediately when the newcomer spins around in a flash to place himself like a physical barrier in front of Taehyung, red eyes glowing fiercely. The vampire's body doesn’t visibly grow any bigger than it already is, but Jungkook can feel his presence filling the hallway like a spreading shadow, and the tiny part of him that retains his mostly dormant bunny-hybrid instincts wants to run and hide until the danger has passed.

“No, don’t, he isn’t a threat,” Taehyung intercepts quickly, touching his companion on the shoulder. “Jungkook’s the one who rescued me, hyung. He invited me into his home and helped me to feed-”

“Helped you to what?”

Taehyung, wide-eyed, waves his hands in a frantic pacifying motion. “Not like that! Hyung. You know I’d never...”

The newcomer seems to calm at that, his alarmed frown softening into a smile as he reaches out to touch Taehyung’s cheek. “I know, treasure, I’m sorry.”

Turning back to face Jungkook (who gulps, because he’s fully aware that he’s in the presence of a very, very powerful creature right now), the stranger regards him silently for a moment with kind amber eyes before bestowing that same gentle smile upon him.

And all the fear in Jungkook’s chest just melts, his breath leaving him in a quiet whoosh, his knees going a little bit week. That overpowering presence from before has shifted into something tangibly warmer, and it’s like he’s getting hugged by the air.

“It’s lovely to meet you, Jungkook,” the man murmurs, offering him a hand to shake. “I’m Kim Seokjin. Thank you for taking care of Taehyungie for me.”

Jungkook fumbles to switch the blood-pouch over to his opposite hand so that he can grasp Seokjin’s palm, surprised to find the vampire's skin wonderfully warm beneath his grip. He’d always assumed vampires ran a lot cooler than humans, but apparently not.

“You’re cold, little one,” the older man remarks, that faint frown creasing his brow again as he lifts a hand to briefly touch Jungkook's cheek with the tips of his fingers. “And you’ll catch your death in those damp clothes, aish. What were you thinking?”

He takes the blood-pouch from Jungkook’s lax grip and passes it back to Taehyung without a second glance, instead taking both of the human’s hands between his own and leaning down to gently blow on them.

Ignoring the fact that he’s being scolded by a complete stranger in his own home, Jungkook blinks down at his hands as they begin to tingle, warmth fanning out from his fingertips and crawling up his arms. He shudders as the heat rolls through him, a little unnerved by the sensation but grateful to have the chill completely banished from his bones so quickly.

“You should drink something warm before you sleep,” Seokin advises gently. “Is it alright if I use your kitchen?”

“Um…sure?” Jungkook permits, still a little bemused by the events of the past half-hour. “Although there’s not much in there, I’m afraid.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll make do.” The older man gives him a little nudge towards the other end of the hallway. “Go and change into something dry, dear.”

Feeling his cheeks heat at the pet name but finding that he really doesn’t mind the coddling, Jungkook does as he’s bid, heading through the living room towards his bedroom and closing the door behind him. He leans against it for a moment, pinching himself just to make sure this isn’t just some fatigue-induced hallucination or something. Finding his nerves fully intact (ow), he strips out of his sodden clothing and dumps the wet garments on top of his washing basket to be dealt with later, pulling on a clean pair of sweatpants and a soft cotton polo shirt that Yugyeom's pack had bought him for his last birthday. It’s a size too big, but he likes the fact that there’s room in it, enough excess fabric that he can pull the sleeves down over his fingers - which was likely Jaebum's intention when he bought it; he's probably noticed how often Jungkook borrows Yugyeom's sweaters whenever he comes over. The werewolf is built a lot bigger than Jungkook, and wearing his clothes is like being wrapped up in warm blanket. Having a too-big sweater of his own to wear around the apartment also comes in handy whenever he and Binnie need to save money on utilities by turning down the thermostat, but Jaebum-hyung doesn't need to know that. The Alpha would only fuss, and Jungkook doesn't like to worry people - he and Moonbin get by just fine on their own.

He cracks open his bedroom door by just an inch to peek out, half expecting to see the two vampires waiting for him on the other side.  

Surprised to find the living room empty, he wraps his arms around himself, body still tingling a little with that peculiar heat Seokjin had used to warm his hands. He pads over to the hallway and into the kitchen, finding it similarly unoccupied, his gaze zeroing in on the steaming mug that’s waiting for him on the countertop.

It smells wonderful, and he takes a tentative sip, moaning softly when the warm chocolate milk soothes his parched throat. He has no idea where it came from; he and Binnie don’t even own any instant hot chocolate. Or milk. Or this mug, come to think of it. But stranger things have happened already this morning, and he’s honestly too tired to question it.

There’s a note pinned to the fridge with one of Binnie’s Nesquik magnets, written in a beautiful cursive handwriting that Jungkook doubts can be achieved using a generic ballpoint pen.

 

Sleep well, little one. Until we meet again,
Kim Seokjin

 

And beneath his elegant script is a second note, the penmanship far more lazily scrawled but still perfectly legible, and Jungkook’s lips curl up into a happy grin as he reads it.

 

Guess I owe you a couple of drinks, handsome.
See you around.
TaeTae xxx

 

Jungkook sure hopes that’s a promise.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Jungkook wakes to someone shaking him by the shoulder, and drags the duvet further over his head with a protesting groan, trying to sink back down into the warmth and comfort of a dreamless sleep.

“Hyung, you’ve already snoozed your alarm twice,” a familiar voice murmurs apologetically, preventing Jungkook from drifting off again. “Your shift stars in an hour, and you need to eat something first.”

Head emerging from the cosy cocoon of bedsheets just enough that he can squint towards his bedside table, Jungkook groans again, this time in resignation at the glowing 13:00 glaring back at him from his alarm clock. He hates switching between nightshifts and dayshifts like this – his body’s convinced that it’s still the middle of the night, and he’d give anything in the world to just roll over and go back to sleep if he could…but new shoes don’t grow on trees, and he’s got rent make by the end of next week. Plus his part-time job at Euphoria pays relatively well compared to some other food industry jobs, and he really can’t afford to get fired for showing up late.

“I know, nightshifts suck,” Moonbin commiserates, patting his shoulder sympathetically through the duvet. “I made kimchi stew, do you want some? Thanks for going shopping, by the way…at least let me pay half, though. You kinda splurged, hyung – especially on the rice cooker, it looks expensive. Are you sure we can afford that?”

Jungkook’s brow crinkles in a sleepy frown as he rubs his eyes groggily. “Hn?”

“I thought you were saving up for new boots,” the Werecat continues, promptly tugging away his duvet to help motivate Jungkook into wakefulness. “Organic veggies, fancy fruit, sirloin steak? Did a customer tip you bigtime, or something?”

Sitting up in bed, Jungkook huffs a tired laugh.

“That’ll be the day,” he quips around a yawn, stretching his arms above his head and feeling his stiffened joints pop satisfyingly. “Sorry, there wasn’t time to go shopping before my shift started yesterday; I’ll pick up a few things on my way home tonight. Pretty sure all we’ve got in the refrigerator is out-of-date yoghurt and ketchup.”

Moonbin looks amused as he crosses his arms over his chest. “What, and I’m supposed to believe that a full week’s haul of groceries just magically appeared in our kitchen without you knowing about it?”

Jungkook’s fatigue-foggy brain finally catches up with what the younger man has been saying, and he drops his arms quickly as the events of that morning come rushing back to him all at once; finding Taehyung outside in the rain, inviting him in, belatedly discovering he was a Vampire and feeding him that blood-pouch, encountering the mysterious and clearly very powerful Kim Seokjin…

“Stranger things have happened,” he tells his roommate faintly, climbing out of bed on slightly wobbly legs and making a beeline for the kitchen.

And just as Moonbin had described, there really is a week’s worth of high quality fresh produce filling every nook and cranny of his previously-empty refrigerator. There’s even a neat row of blood-pouches lining the little shelf on the inside of the fridge door; far more than had been there earlier that day, even before he’d given two to his unexpected houseguest.  

Not only that, but sitting out on the worktop is a brand new rice cooker (the super-modern kind, judging by the touchscreen interface), a stylish purple electric kettle, and an assortment of fancy packaged teas neatly stacked one on top of another.

“Okay, so it really wasn’t you,” Moonbin realises, having been silently gaging his stunned expression. “Your new boyfriend, then? Aigoo, he’s definitely a keeper.”

“My boyfriend?

The Werecat gives him an amused look, tilting his head to one side. “His scent’s literally all over you, hyung, I know a bond when I smell it.” The younger man thumps his shoulder playfully. “It’s not like you to be so secretive. How long have you two been together?”

A bond? That can’t be right. All he’d done was half-carry the weakened Vampire indoors and help to feed him the blood pouch, there hadn’t been anything remotely intimate or romantic about their brief interaction. Although having had said unexpected guest draped all over him as they rode the elevator upstairs, it’s no wonder he’s saturated in Taehyung’s scent – that’s probably what’s confused Binnie’s nose.

Jungkook regrets not taking a shower before he’d gone to bed, but after finishing his probably-magically-brewed hot chocolate (in retrospect, he really ought to have been a little more hesitant about downing a mysterious beverage of unknown origin), his eyes had been so heavy-lidded that he’d decided to forego washing up altogether. He’d anticipated that with the bizarre events of the early morning, sleep would prove to be frustratingly elusive, but he can barely even remember his head hitting the pillow.

“It’s…a fairly new development,” Jungkook answers vaguely, because going with Moonbin’s assumption that he’s found himself a generous boyfriend is way easier than trying to explain that there’s a magic-wielding Vampire out there who apparently feels seriously indebted to him.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you – there was a parcel sitting on our doormat when I got home,” Bin suddenly remembers, nudging Jungkook towards the doorway with his hip. “It had your name on, so I left it on the coffee table. Go sit down, hyung, I’ll reheat the stew.”

Jungkook’s feet carry him on auto-pilot towards the living room, but he slows his pace as soon as he lays eyes on the parcel. It must have been hand-delivered judging by the lack of address or postage markings, perfectly gift-wrapped in pale blue paper and secured neatly by a sparkly bow with matching gift-tag. He sinks down to take a seat on the worn leather couch, reaching out to ever-so-gently pull the box over to edge of the coffee table, half expecting it to suddenly burst open in a shower of sparkling fairy dust or burst into song, or something.

Like he’d said to Moonbin, stranger this have happened today.

With careful fingers, he turns over the gift tag.

Just a little something to say thank you, Handsome.
See you soon.
- TaeTae xxx

Smiling a little, warmed by the gesture despite all the questions whizzing around in his head (like how the hell had he not noticed someone sneaking in to stock up his kitchen), Jungkook tugs at the ends of the ribbon to unwrap the present, pulling the folds of the baby-blue paper aside, eyes going wide when he sees the familiar logo printed on the lid of the shoebox.

“Whoa,” Moonbin breathes directly over his shoulders, and the only reason Jungkook doesn’t startle is because by now he’s used to the silent-footed Werecat noiselessly sneaking up behind him on a daily basis. “Dude, your man got you Timberlands?”

Jungkook lifts the lid, breath catching in his throat at the jet-black Chukka boots sitting nestled in the white tissue paper within.

How? How could Taehyung possibly have known about his affinity for Timberland Chukkas? He’s been thirsting after this exact pair for months, checking the website every so often in case there’s a miracle flash-sale, but quietly resigning himself to the knowledge that branded shoes were always going to be 100K won outside of his realistic price range.

“First the rice cooker and all those groceries, now this,” Moonbin admires, his teasing smile audible. “Hyung, about this mystery boyfriend of yours…did you find yourself a sugar-daddy?”

Jungkook feels his cheeks flush with heat, and hides how flustered he really is by twisting around to yank Bin over the back of the couch and into a playfully retaliating headlock. The younger man gives a startled yelp as he flails, successfully squirming out of the human’s half-hearted grip after a moment, and darting away with a peel of bubbling laughter as the ping of the microwave echoes from the kitchen.

Bin returns a few minutes later with a bowl of steamed rice and hot stew, extending them towards the elder like a peace offering. Jungkook carefully moves the shoebox onto the floor to avoid spilling anything on his new shoes, accepting the proffered food with a grateful smile and scooting a little further up the couch so that Moonbin can curl up on the cushions beside him.

“Can I meet him?” the cat asks after a few minutes, nestling in close as is his usual habit whenever they’re at home together. “Your sug- uh, your boyfriend?”

Jungkook’s beginning to regret the whole ‘just go with it’ plan. Moonbin’s the sweetest guy he knows, but he’s a shifter, and Were-folk (particularly cats) can be a little possessive when it comes to their close friends and family members. Binnie’s not going to be satisfied until he’s met Jungkook’s new ‘boyfriend’ himself, and making multiple excuses to maintain the lie just isn’t going to work out in the long run.

Forestalling any further questions by feeding the Werecat a spoonful of rice-and-stew, Jungkook hums noncommittally. He can’t stomach openly lying to Bin, so it’s probably best to avoid making promises and keep his answers as vague as possible.

“How’s Eunwoo?” he asks instead, because if there’s anything that’s guaranteed to derail Moonbin from the current topic at hand, it’s any mention of the Werecat’s beloved boyfriend. “He’s doing that promo thing with Polham, right?”

As anticipated, Moonbin’s smile turns sappy the way it always does whenever he stars thinking about his mate, and Jungkook breathes an internal sigh of relief as his roomie cheerfully launches into an enthusiastic spiel about Eunwoo’s latest modelling project. That ought to keep Bin distracted long enough for him to finish his lunch and jump in the shower; he’ll be able to escape to work after that and avoid any further interrogation in regards to his non-existent boyfriend, at least for the time being.

Jungkook knows he’ll need to ‘fess up eventually and admit to Moonbin that he might have inadvertently given a total stranger open access to their home by extending an invitation of hospitality (with Vampires a simple ‘come on in’ can be considered a binding agreement in some cultures). And yes, technically Jungkook can rescind that invitation at any given moment if he truly wants to…but he doesn’t.

Man, he must be off his head, but he really doesn’t.

Not just because his new shoes are awesome and a refrigerator full of food is something he and Binnie both need, but because he can’t stop thinking about Kim Taehyung. His smile, his piercing gaze, his voice. And how the vampire had trusted him enough to be so openly vulnerable in his presence; the way he’d clung to Jungkook’s hand as he fed from the pouch, cool fingers holding him gently and pressing against the pulse point at his wrist…

 

Aw fuck.

 

He’s fallen hard.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Jungkook wears his new Chukkas on the walk to Euphoria and it feels like he’s walking on clouds every step of the way, they fit him so comfortably.

Unforuntately, since the café has a fairly strict dress code for wait-staff (black trousers, ‘respectable’ footwear, white button-down shirt, and a pale-pink apron sporting the eatery’s logo tied about the waist), he’s forced to tuck them away in his locker as soon as he gets there. The only upside to the enforced dress code is the fact that management will pay the full expenses for your first uniform with the expectation that it’s the employee’s responsibility to keep it clean and purchase any necessary replacements.

He’s been careful to take very good care of his Euphoria footwear because they’re super good quality dress shoes that he really can’t afford to replace; he always removes them before leaving the café to avoid water-damage or excessive wear and tear, so unlike the rest of his shoe collection at home, these ones are actually in a fairly good state of repair.

Still, they’re not half as awesome as Timberlands, and he can’t resist sneaking his new Chukkas out of his locker during break to snap a quick photo, sending it to Yugyeom as he munches on a few macaroons from the platter of delectable ‘kitchen rejects’ on the nearby coffee table (there are many perks to working at Euphoria, but free food is definitely up there near the top of the list).

‘OMG dude!! I thought you said they cost too much?’ Yugyeom texts back, after a spamming multiple hearts and shocked emojis. ‘Did the store give you a bonus this month or something?’

Jungkook’s lips twitch up in a grin, thumbs hovering over the touchscreen as he debates whether to tell his friend the truth or not. Like Binnie, the Werewolf tends to worry about him unnecessarily, and if Yugyeom thought that a potentially very powerful stranger had silently snuck into Jungkook’s apartment (even with good intentions) while he was asleep…yeah, that might not go down so well.

And oh god, he really can’t risk Jaebum finding out, not ever. Being Yugyeom’s best friend, Jungkook had been semi-adopted by the rest of the wolf’s pack within a matter of weeks, and although he really does appreciate all the skinship whenever he hangs out at Jaebum’s den (that dormant bunny-hybrid side of him loves a good cuddle, and Werewolves are super tactile creatures by nature), it’s hard to hide anything from them. They’re always very quick to pick up on his chronic lack of sleep, his insufficient dietary intake and his stress-levels (damn their sensitive noses). As a Pack they all have a tendency to fuss, but he knows it’s only because they see him as being the maknae right alongside Yugyeom. Jaebum won’t be happy if he hears about Jungkook’s recent home-invasion (or his willingness to let a total stranger into his house when nobody else was home), and it’s likely Yugyeom will be concerned enough by the news to share it with the older wolf without hesitation. That won’t end well for Kookie; Alphas can be very protective of their cubs, even a predominantly-human-and-not-really-a-Pack-member cub like Jungkook.

‘Long story,’ he answers vaguely, deciding to play it safe. ‘Tell you after work on Monday?’

At least that gives him another forty-eight hours to either think of a good excuse to explain why he’s suddenly acquired shoes that weren’t remotely affordable last week, or find the balls to tell Yugyeom the truth.

“Jungkookie?”

It’s Suyeon, the manager on duty this afternoon, smiling wincingly as she lingers in the doorway to the break room.

“I’m sorry, I know you’re on break,” she apologises, “but a customer just came in asking for you. I’m happy to assign him to someone else, but I figured he might be one of your regulars, and I know how possessive you get...”

Her tone is teasing, but Jungkook still feels his cheeks heat a little at the playful jab. It’s true, he prides himself on his customer service, and it’s always a nice pat on the back when someone returns to the café and recognises him from last time, or even better, asks after him specifically. Euphoria is one of Seoul’s first maid/butler-style cafés, which means his reputation as a waiter is everything (especially when it comes to tips), and he works hard to play the part well even when he’s bone-tired and aching after a nightshift. Working mostly weekends, his regulars are often businessmen or hardworking students who come to the café to relax, and if Kookie can help relieve their stress with a bright smile and a friendly conversation, he feels like his job’s actually worth something.

“Which table?” Jungkook pockets his phone and quickly slips his Chukkas back into his backpack, storing them in his locker for safekeeping.

“He wanted a booth in the back, so Yoojung set him up in number eight,” she answers. “He’s already placed an order at the desk, Sanha’s prepping it for you.”

Suyeon stops him at the door with a fond smile to carefully fix the lapels of his shirt and brush away a few lingering macaroon crumbs, ever dutiful in the upkeep of Euphoria’s spotless reputation as a visual café.

“You know, he’s pretty cute,” she adds innocently, and Jungkook groans internally. Suyeon’s an awesome manager, she really is, but she’s been trying to coax him into finding a date for six months now and it just makes Jungkook’s status as a sad-ass singleton feel even more obvious to the outside world.

Ignoring her teasing, he ducks out of the break room and makes his way back out onto the café floor, heading towards the serving counter that backs onto the main kitchen and smiling when he spots Sanha carefully piping chocolate love-hearts onto the customer’s dishes. The bunny hybrid’s white ears poke up out of his fluffy pastel-blue hair, twitching as the student tilts his head to one side and judges his decorative handiwork.

“Aw, cute,” Jungkook remarks, because that’s usually all it takes to make Sanha smile, and he likes seeing the bunny happy. Sanha’s the reason he managed to get a job at Euphoria in the first place, after all.

“Here, hyung,” the hybrid says cheerfully, turning the tray so that Jungkook can pick it up at a better angle. “One dark chocolate infusion and a slice of crimson velvet cake.”

Jungkook thanks him, setting off again towards the archway that leads to the second area of the ground floor café, where the air conditioning keeps the temperature a few degrees cooler than out front and the overhead lighting has been dimmed a little to make it seem like early evening. He smiles politely as he walks past several customers seated at the tables in the open area, heading towards the back wall where a row of cosy alcoves act as secluded booths, some surrounded by heavy curtains to help block out the overhead lighting even further.

“Good afternoon,” he greets pleasantly with a deep bow, drawing back the curtain with one hand as he balances the tray in the other. “Welcome back to Euphoria, sir. Thank you for inviting me to serve-”

Having straightened up from his bow and finally laid eyes on his mystery customer, Jungkook finds the rest of the sentence catching in his throat, eyes going wide for a moment as his heart does a peculiar little flutter in his chest.

It’s Taehyung.

Kim Taehyung, the vampire who’s been occupying his thoughts for the better part of the afternoon, is smiling back at him from the other side of the table.

By some miracle, he manages not to drop the tray in his state of shock, and after forcing his lungs to function as they ought to and sucking in a quick breath to compensate for how lightheaded he’s suddenly feeling, Jungkook draws on all of his previous experience as a Euphoria butler and manages to rally his courage to continue.

“Taehyung-ssi,” he starts again, letting the surprise seep into his voice a little even as he smiles. “I hadn’t expected to see you again quite so soon.”

The vampire returns the smile, amber gaze briefly travelling downwards to take in Jungkook’s uniform appreciatively.

“Please, call me hyung,” Tae corrects gently. “After what happened this morning it’s a little too late for formalities, don’t you think?”

Jungkook remembers what else had apparently happened this morning (while he was fast asleep), and sets the tray down on the table to bow again, feeling the heavy curtain swish closed behind him.

“Thank you for the gifts, hyung,” he says, with as much sincerity as possible because the groceries are amazing and they really did need a rice cooker, and those shoes are so fucking expensive. “They really aren't necessary, though. I'm just glad I was able to help you this morning. You don't owe me anything for it, really.”

Taehyung’s smile fades by just a fraction. “You don't like the shoes? I could buy you different ones…”

“Nonono, the Chukkas are amazing, thank you so much,” Jungkook rushes to reassure, because seeing that crestfallen look on the vampire’s face is doing things to his sensitive heart.

“Oh, thank god,” Taehyung breathes, looking genuinely relieved as he tips his head back against the booth’s padded bench. “I trusted Yoongi-hyung because he’s almost always right, but there was no way to know for sure and I wanted to buy you something you’d be able to wear all the time, y'know?”

“If Euphoria didn’t have a uniform policy, I’d be wearing them right now,” Jungkook divulges, carefully transferring the vampire’s plate and saucer from tray to table just to give himself something to do.

Honestly, if he hadn’t been quite so distracted beforehand (and a little less sleep-deprived, perhaps), he would’ve realised that the order Sanha had prepped would only really suit a vampire’s tastebuds. The dark chocolate infusion is essentially organic blood warmed to just above body temperature and blended with finally chopped bitter chocolate. Unpalatable to most species, but considered a delicacy among vampire-kind. Vampires can consume regular human food the way Weres and hybrids can, but you can’t just replace feeds with iron-dense foodstuffs; they need blood to survive the same way humans need calories. Although from what Jungkook understands, adult vampires can go a fairly significant length of time between feeds compared to the average human.

“Mmm, this looks amazing,” Taehyung enthuses, pulling the plate of crimson velvet cake towards him and eagerly picking up the little fork, moaning at the first mouthful. “OMG. I’m gonna live here from now on.”

Jungkook nearly has a heart attack when a tiny furry snout suddenly pokes out over the top of the table right in front of the plate, its shiny black nose twitching as it sniffs at the air. There’s a soft little boof of a bark and Taehyung laughs, setting down his cake fork and reaching into his lap to pick up the fluffiest little dog Jungkook’s ever seen.

It’s literally 90% fluff, the dark brown fur puffed out in a rounded sort of shape with only its cute little head and teeny-tiny feet poking out. Now Jungkook loves animals of any kind (it’s a part-hybrid thing), but he wants to steal Taehyung’s dog from right in front of him, it’s that fucking cute.

“You can’t eat that, it’s made of chocolate,” Taehyung tells the puffy pooch, who turns his head to stare towards the vampire with an expression that Kookie’s honestly never seen on a dog before. “Nope, you’re a dog – so be a dog. Ah, Jungkookie, this is Chim. Isn’t he cute?”

Hearing his name spoken like that (with such warmth and familiarity) affects him far more than it should, and Jungkook fights back a blush, nodding dumbly in agreement just in case he opens his mouth and says something horrifyingly embarrassing like “not as cute as you”.

“We keep some dog-friendly snacks in the kitchen,” he supplies after a moment, once he’s certain he won’t gush like a pre-teen in love. “Would you like me to get you some?”

Taehyung’s smile curls wider around his cake fork, and he glances down at the puppy in his lap, eyes filled with mirth. Chim’s tiny tail stops wagging.

“That’s so thoughtful,” Tae remarks after he's chewed and swallowed. “Isn’t that thoughtful, Chim? Would you like a treat?”

The dog seems to be giving his owner that same look from before, and Taehyung just laughs, kissing the pup on its tiny nose before plopping him gently back down in his lap again.

“Maybe another time,” the vampire declines, taking a careful sip of his hot chocolate infusion. “How about you, handsome? You’ve eaten already, right?”

Assuming the vampire must be alluding to the newly-filled refrigerator back in his apartment, Jungkook nods and gives another quick bow.

“Yes, thank you,” he murmurs, cheeks a little warm. “The Timberlands were really more than enough though, hyung, you didn’t have to buy the rice cooker and all those groceries. But I’m really grateful!”

Ugh, he’s fucking this up.

Taehyung blinks at him, perplexed. “Rice cooker?”

“That…wasn’t you?” Jungkook realises, and feels even more of an idiot now for blurting it all out.

The vampire shakes his head slowly. “I only asked Hobi-hyung to drop off the Timberlands on your doorstep for me. He left you a rice cooker too?”

“Mm,” the younger man confirms, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly, cheeks still burning. “It was in my kitchen, actually. Someone, um…when I woke up this afternoon my fridge was stocked and it was just sitting there inside my kitchen.”

The cake fork hits Taehyung’s plate as he sits up a little straighter, Chim letting out a quiet huff of protest as he hops from the man’s lap and pads along the semi-circular padded bench until he’s only a foot or so away from Kookie, head tilting to one side as he observes the human.

“Inside?” Taehyung echoes. “They came inside? But how did-”

Chim gives another tiny huff, head turned towards Taehyung with another of those very un-doglike expressions.

“Oh,” the vampire realises, and cringes. “Right. I forgot he’d seen…never mind. Kookie, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know anyone else would get involved like that. My nestmate, he....he likes to take care of people. I'm sorry if he crossed the line by breaking in like that. He didn't mean any harm by it though, I swear.”

Jungkook makes a polite gesture to forestall the other man’s apologises, shaking his head quickly.

“Don’t worry about it, really. I was…a little surprised, at first,” he admits, smiling shyly, “but it was super thoughtful. Will you thank him for me?”

Taehyung stares at him for a moment in silence, then his lips curl up in a gentler smile, one that makes his beautiful face look infinitely more attractive. Jungkook’s heart does that fluttery thing again, and Chim lets out another quiet huff that sounds suspiciously like a laugh (maybe vampire pets have heightened intelligence, like with fae spirit-guides?) and steps closer to the edge of the bench to press his wet little nose against the back of Jungkook’s hand.

The human jumps at the cold touch, breaking eye contact with Taehyung and blinking hard, suddenly feeling a bit disorientated.

“Fuck,” Taehyung croaks, and downs the rest of his hot chocolate infusion in several large gulps.

Chim trots back over to the vampire and climbs into his lap, standing on his hind legs to nuzzle and lick at his neck and jawline. The momentary line of tension in Taehyung’s shoulders seems to ease instantaneously, and he cuddles the pup close for a few seconds, closing his eyes. When he opens them again and glances back towards Jungkook, he looks embarrassed, maybe even a touch ashamed for a reason that he can’t quite fathom.

“I should go,” the vampire murmurs softly, apologetically. “Could I maybe see you again sometime? Only if you want to. Say the word and I’ll stop trying, I promise.”

Jungkook tries not to grin like a lovesick idiot.

“I’d like that,” he replies.

“Great!”  Taehyung beams, his confident boisterousness now fully returned at the human’s easy acceptance “What time do you get off work?”

“Oh.” Aigoo, Jungkook hadn’t realised Tae meant to see him again quite so soon. “Um, I finish at six-thirty...but-”

“I owe you a drink, remember?” the vampire reminds him cheerfully, tucking Chim into his over-the-shoulder bag as he stands. “My treat. Shall I meet you at the fountain in the park across the road?”

A little giddy with the realisation that he’s maybe just scored himself a date with the most beautiful individual on planet earth, Jungkook can only nod, unwilling to deter the vampire’s interest by explaining that he’ll only have two hours to spend with Taehyung before he’s due to start his shift at the convenience store. Two hours is still plenty of time.

“Perfect, it’s a date.” Taehyung steps up close, slipping a wad of won notes into the front pocket of Jungkook’s apron (he can already tell it’s way more than what the bill for Tae’s food and drink actually totals to). “I’ll see you soon, handsome.”

The vampire’s hand lingers there on his waist a moment, and Jungkook can’t tear his eyes away from him again, feeling his cheek growing hotter at the casually intimate contact.

Chim boofs chidingly from Taehyung’s bag, and with a put-upon sigh the vampire finally pulls away, blowing Jungkook a kiss before he slips out through the heavy fabric curtains and disappears from sight.

Kookie leans back against the table, clutching his empty tray to his chest.

Fuck. He’s got a date. An actual date, holy shit.

Oh god, he has no idea what vampires do on dates, is there a protocol? Are there sensitive cultural things he needs to know about? If you court a Fae incorrectly they take it as a personal insult, are there similar stipulations for vampire courtship? Fuck, he should’ve listened more during cultural studies class back in middle school…

 

Huh. Or he could just ring Moonbin and ask him how he wooed Cha Eunwoo.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 


Jungkook shifts in his seat on the edge of the park bench, gnawing on his bottom lip as his thumb hovers over the message icon on his phone screen, Taehyung’s newly-added contact details staring back at him.

The vampire had left more than just a generous tip in the front pocket of his Euphoria apron; a folded slip of paper sporting Taehyung’s number had been carefully hidden amongst the won bills, signed with a row of tiny kisses and a wonky little heart that had made Jungkook feel like he was walking on air for the rest of his shift. Although that giddiness has soured a bit as the day’s worn on. Bonus gift aside, normally a tip that big would put him in a good mood for the rest of the weekend, but currently his stomach’s so twisted up with nervous anticipation for his upcoming date that the he’s started to feel a bit nauseous.

And he may have acquired the vampire’s number, but it isn’t much use if he can’t actually summon the courage to send that first text.

It seems like the courteous thing to do (Taehyung had given it to him specifically, after all), but can he think of something meaningful to say this close to their promised ‘date’? Apparently not. Because he’s an idiot.

Truthfully, his brain has felt like total mush ever since his very first encounter with Taehyung that morning (and god, that seems like so long ago now even if it’s only been about thirteen hours), and being sleep-deprived on top of everything hasn’t exactly helped matters. Every message he’s thought up so far has sounded way too lame, but his sluggish mind seems to be incapable of thinking up a casual, friendly sort of greeting, unable to phrase it in a way that won’t come across as peculiar. Maybe he’s just being paranoid about the whole thing, but he can’t help it… he just doesn’t want Taehyung to think he’s stupid, or worse, completely inexperienced at this whole dating thing (even if it’s true). He needs to avoid doing anything weird or awkward that might deter the vampire’s advances.

“Hey, handsome.”

Jungkook startles so violently that the phone slips from his fumbling fingers, falling to land facedown on the ground with an ominous clack.

“Shit,” Taehyung curses, his dark coat fanning out around him as he crouches quickly to retrieve the device, looking absolutely mortified as he examines the cracked screen. “Oh my god, Kookie, I’m so sorry, I’ll buy you a new one-”

Jungkook’s shock fades quickly, replaced by a pleasantly warm sort of fluttering sensation in his chest at the vampire’s genuine remorse over such a tiny accident. Smiling a little, he reaches out to carefully take his phone back, noting absently that Taehyung is wearing dark gloves that cling tightly to his elegant hands, serving to elongate his fingers. It seems an unusual choice considering Vampires are usually pretty resilient to colder temperatures, and the weather’s actually been pretty mild of late (spring has already begun opening pale blossom buds on the trees near his university), but maybe Taehyung’s one of those people who feels the cold more than others. Moonbin’s a bit like that; the cat always insists on layering up before he heads out to work or school, especially when the full moon’s drawing near. Since they can’t always afford to have the heating running for hours on end, Binnie’s collection of thick knitted blankets has grown exponentially since they moved in together last year, taking up a full two shelves in their storage closet. Jungkook can’t complain, though – there’s nothing he enjoys more than hunkering down on the couch with Moonbin beneath layers of cosy blankets to watch a movie on his laptop, especially after a tiring shift or a gruelling day of classes.

“The screen was already cracked, hyung,” he reassures. “It’s been like that for months.”

Relief filters across Taehyung’s handsome features, before his brow crinkles faintly in a cute sort of puzzled frown.

“You haven’t gone to get it mended?”

Jungkook shrugs, sliding the phone back into his pocket to hide his momentary embarrassment.

“It still works just fine,” he answers simply, because admitting to Taehyung that he’s piss-poor and can’t afford basic maintenance on his phone would be in bad taste on their first date. “And, well, I kinda drop it a lot. Didn’t really see the point in getting a new screen if there’s a chance I might crack it again tomorrow.”

A blur of movement out of the corner of his eye has Jungkook glancing up, a smile curling at his lips when he sees a spherical cloud of brown fur bobbing along the ground towards them, the puppy’s paws barely visible beneath his excess of fluff.

“Hey, Chim,” Jungkook greets, falling immediately in love with the tiny animal all over again, and the little dog boofs a cheerful reply, his miniature blob of a tail wagging at the attention.

Taehyung twists around in his crouch, his expression of surprise giving way to exasperation as the puppy trots up to him and plops down in front of the bench, tail still wagging and tongue lolling happily.

“What? No,” the vampire groans. “Seriously?”

The pup sneezes cutely, and Jungkook’s heart melts a little more.

“Dude, c’mon,” Taehyung protests, a hint of a whine in his voice. “I get the whole chaperoning thing, but I thought maybe you’d stay in the car?”

The tiny dog tilts his head to one side, and although Jungkook can’t see clearly from this angle he has a sneaking suspicion Chim is giving Taehyung another one of those very-un-doglike looks.

“Just a little bit of space?” Taehyung wheedles, holding his gloved thumb and forefinger an inch apart. “Just a teeny-tiny bit for a couple of hours? Please, Min, just this once?”

The puppy appears unmoved, head turning as he’s briefly distracted by a bird flying past them to perch on one of the fountain’s many marble statues.

“I won’t tell Jin-hyung what happened to his Japanese peace lily,” the vampire bargains, and Chim’s tiny head snaps back around to look at Taehyung.

There’s a moment of silence (in which Jungkook observes the peculiar scene in bafflement) and then the tiny pooch huffs out what sounds suspiciously like a resigned sigh.

“Thank you!” Taehyung beams, scooping Chim up from the ground to press soft kisses to his fluffy head. “You’re the best, man, I owe you one.”

Chim just boofs as though in agreement as he’s set back down again, and gives a full-body shake that makes the little nametag on his pink collar jingle. Then with a brief, almost assessing glance towards Jungkook, he pads away from the bench and over to the nearby shrubbery, slipping through a gap between two bushes and disappearing from sight.

“Sorry about that,” Tae apologises, gaze still focused on the spot where Chim had disappeared. “He’s a little…overprotective.”

“Will he be alright on his own?” Jungkook can’t help but worry. “There’s a road nearby, and he’s so tiny.”

The vampire shoots him an easy grin, eyes sparkling. “Chim can hold his own, don’t worry. I wouldn’t recommend calling him tiny to his face, though. Sore subject.”

Jungkook’s previous spirit-guide theory is looking even more plausible now. Whatever the case, he’s ninety-nine percent positive that Chim is far more intelligent than the average domesticated dog – and if there isn’t some sort of magical bond between Taehyung and the pup, he’ll eat his new Chukkas. Jungkook makes a mental note to treat Chim carefully and with great respect the next time they’re together. Some spirit guides can be as playful and easy-to-please as the animal forms they mimic, but he knows for a fact that it isn’t wise to get on the wrong side of them. Yugyeom’s Alpha has a spirit-guide that takes the shape of a small bird, but it’s been known to dive-bomb and ruthlessly peck at anyone and everyone who threatens to bring harm to Im Jaebum or his pack.

“So, your phone,” Taehyung changes the subject smoothly before Jungkook can voice any of the questions swirling around in his head. The vampire rises from his crouch to take a seat on the bench beside Jungkook, that vaguely worried pinch returning to his handsome face. “Are you sure I didn’t break it? Maybe you should get it checked out…”

Seeing the vampire’s renewed concern, Jungkook feels himself smiling again. Without comment, he fetches the phone back out of his pocket and unlocks it, finally summoning the courage to tap the green icon next to Taehyung’s contact details, quickly typing out a message.

See? It works just fine. No harm done. :)

Taehyung seems surprised by the quiet chirping of his own phone, slipping it from the inner pocket of his dark coat to glance at the screen. His faint frown melts away in an instant, replaced by a wide smile so full of genuine happiness that Jungkook can’t help but return it.

“So you did get my note,” the vampire remarks, obviously pleased. “I was worried it might’ve ended up in the cash register or something.” He begins tapping at the screen (his gloves must be the touch-sensitive type). “Is it alright if I save you as ‘Kookie’? I kinda know a lot of Jungkooks; wouldn’t want to text the wrong number. Or I could pen you in as ‘Handsome’, if you’d prefer?”

His cheeks pulse hot again. “Kookie is fine, hyung,” he murmurs, secretly pleased by the nickname. His close friends tend to call him that a lot, but hearing it from Taehyung’s lips makes it sound like something new, something special. “Or Kook, whichever’s easier.”

“I like Kookie,” Taehyung tells him in that casually confident way of his, flashing him a quick smile. “It’s cute. Suits you.”

Fuck, if only there was an ‘off’ switch to the capillaries in his cheeks. Jungkook knows he’s gotta be bright pink by now, and he’s helpless to stop it. The sun hasn’t even started properly setting yet, which means there’s enough pale daylight left for Taehyung to see his blush in all its rosy glory.

Stop it. Be cool.

The vampire pockets his phone again and shoots him another disarming smile.

“Are you hungry?” he asks without preamble. “Let me buy you dinner, my treat. There’s this little food stall over on the other side of the park, and they sell the best dumplings…”

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

He’s is in love.

Like really, truly, totally in love.

Taehyung is just so…so beautifully amazingly brilliant, and so compatible in every possible way. Jungkook’s never been all that good at social mingling or introducing himself to strangers (he’s kinda shy, which hasn’t really helped with the whole finding-a-boyfriend thing up until now), but with Taehyung it’s all just so effortless. The vampire fills what might have been awkward pauses with cheerful chatter, and in no time at all Jungkook feels like he’s talking to Binnie or Yugyeom, the conversation flowing between them seamlessly without Jungkook second-guessing himself every other sentence.

And they have so much to talk about, too. It turns out they’re into the same music genre and idol groups, they both enjoy a similar taste in Japanese anime and classic Disney movies, and Taehyung had even launched into an enthusiastic spiel about why Spiderman should be considered the best male superhero in the Marvel universe (to which Kookie had readily agreed, because duh).

In fact they haven’t stopped talking since they first began their leisurely stroll around the park, shovelling down piping hot dumplings and fried seaweed as they trade Infinity War theories back and forth, the rest of the world falling away as Jungkook memorises the shape of Taehyung’s face and the sound of his voice, chest so full of fluttering warmth that he’s surprised his lungs can still function properly.

If this is what being high on love feels like, he never wants to come down.

Taehyung asks dozens of questions, seemingly eager to learn more about Kookie’s personal life and family situation, but he shares his own story just as willingly, a fond sort of look on his face as he talks about his older nestmates.

“I’m the youngest,” the vampire explains, offering Jungkook the last dumpling and smiling when it’s accepted. “Well, sort of. Jiminie’s roughly my age, give or take, but he was born a vampire so they don’t worry about him as much. I guess they all still see me as a fledgling, even after we became bonded.”

Bonded. So Taehyung’s nest isn’t familial, just as he’d suspected. There’d definitely been something more to the way Seokin had tenderly cradled the younger vampire’s face between his hands, but it hadn’t seemed polite to ask. Like Were-folk and hybrids (and most species other than humans, actually), vampires tended to be polyamorous by nature; Eunwoo, he knew, had bonded nestmates of his own, but he cherished Moonbin all the same. And now Binnie has four new brothers to fuss over, so the cat is happier than Jungkook’s ever known him to be (which is saying something, because Bin’s always happy).

Jungkook’s totally open to the idea himself (he’s not one of those narrow-minded bigots who believes in human supremacy and the archaic notion that a two-person marriage is what the gods intended), but he’s never had much luck securing one potential mate for himself, never mind an entire pack of them; whereas Yugyeom (the lucky bastard) had run headfirst into a tree and emerged with six doting boyfriends. He hadn't even had to try, how is that fair?

 “They don’t like it if I leave the nest without telling anyone,” Taehyung continues wryly, returning to Jungkook’s side after putting their containers in the nearby trashcan. “Hence the whole chaperoning thing. It’s not that they don’t trust me, they just…worry a lot, y’know?”

Remembering the way that Seokjin had quietly fussed over Taehyung, cradling his face like he was something precious…he can’t help but feel envious of the loving relationship they clearly share. Jungkook has his close friends, but aside from Yugyeom’s pack (which he only gets to see once a week at most because of work and other commitments), he doesn’t really have many hyungs to look out for him. Not that Jungkook isn’t totally capable of taking care of himself, because he is, but sometimes he envies Gyeomie and Moonbin for their easy access to doting boyfriend-hyungs. Jungkook wants that. Jungkook has always wanted that, he’s just very good at pretending that he’s cool with being single all the time.

“That must be nice,” he finds himself murmuring honestly.

Taehyung glances at him briefly, before peering away towards the treeline, his smile softening a little.

“Yeah,” the vampire agrees. “Yeah, it is.”

Eventually they end up back at the bench near the fountain where they’d first started, the shy awkwardness from before now a distant memory, shoulders brushing as they sit close to each other. The sky overhead has darkened to a deep sort of purplish-grey, tiny pinprick stars beginning to wink at them through the veil. With the sun gone, the wind has more of a chilly bite to it now, but Jungkook’s feeling so full and warm and happy that he barely notices it.

“There’s a café a few streets over that does amazing patbingsu,” Taehyung mentions after a beat of comfortable silence, pulling off one of his gloves to rotate the ring on his middle finger. “Or we could head to a bar if you’re not a dessert kinda guy. I still owe you a drink, remember?”

Jungkook really doesn’t want this night to end (not ever), but a quick glance at his watch serves as disappointing reminder that time flies when you’re having fun. They only have another fifteen minutes together before he has to leave to get to work on time, and he regrets not having mentioned something to Taehyung earlier that evening. He’s just been having such a good time, he hadn’t wanted to spoil it by bringing up his prior engagements.

“Hey. Why the long face, handsome?” Taehyung pries, gently nudging him with his shoulder.

Jungkook tries to smile at the nickname, but he probably isn’t entirely successful, not with the cold, hollow ache of disappointment that’s currently expanding in his gut.

“Hyung, I…I have to go to work,” he confesses softly, picking at a loose thread on the sleeve of his jacket. “I’m sorry, I should’ve said something earlier. I’d skip my nightshift and have dessert with you if I could, but I don’t think my boss is the forgiving type.”

Taehyung’s hand settles on his arm. “Dude, your shift only just finished,” the vampire murmurs, confused. “How late does Euphoria stay open?”

“No, it’s my second job,” Jungkook explains, and he doesn’t make any added effort to sound enthusiastic about the fact; seriously, he hates nightshifts so fucking much. “My shift’s due to start just after eight-thirty, so I need to leave soon.”

“Your second job?” Taehyung echoes, that teeny-tiny frown of concern creasing his brow again.

Jungkook nods. “You know that little convenience store right by the police station? The manager hires university students part-time. He won’t let me pick up short shifts during weekday afternoons, so working nightshifts is the only way to get any part-time hours in.”

“But…you only came home at like 5am,” Taehyung points out, and his concerned frown deepens. “That’s when you bumped into me, right? Just after you’d clocked off. So wait, you work nightshifts and dayshifts? Consecutively?”

“…yes?” Jungkook confirms hesitantly.

“You pulled a full shift last night, slept for a few hours before midday, worked a six hour stint at Euphoria, and now you’re heading back to work another nightshift?”

Well, when he puts it like that...it does sound pretty fucking crazy. And Jungkook’s body knows it too, it’s why he’s chronically exhausted from Friday through to Monday every week without fail, but it’s the only way to keep up with rent and utilities without sacrificing one of his evening classes during the week. He’s even looked into bar-work after his classes finish, but all the prospective establishments either require previous bartender experience or for employees to work shift patterns that wouldn’t suit Jungkook’s class schedule.

And dropping either dance or art is absolutely out of the question. He’s studying hard at Seoul’s most prestigious university because he knows it’ll make his parents happy, but he isn’t about to sacrifice the only two things in life that genuinely make him happy.

Rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously, Jungkook shrugs. “It’s not as bad as it sounds. And it’s not gonna be a longterm thing. My classes cut down next year, I’ll be able to work more weekdays and lose the nightshifts.”

Hopefully.

“But you’re human,” Taehyung reminds him, as though it might have escaped Jungkook’s notice. “You can’t just veto sleep for three days straight. You’ll make yourself sick, Kookie.”

He tries not to smile, because he doesn’t want to offend the vampire, but honestly Taehyung’s concern over his messed up human sleep-cycle is pretty cute.

“I don’t always work back-to-back shifts,” he placates. “Mostly just on Saturdays. And I can sleep in late tomorrow, it’ll be fine.”

Taehyung looks somewhat mollified by that.

“Well,” Jungkook amends after a pause, “until midday, I guess. I usually work an afternoon shift at Euphoria on Sundays.”

The vampire makes a quiet noise of discontent, his fingers sliding down Jungkook’s forearm to gently grasp his hand, and the sudden touch of shockingly warm skin against his own cool fingers makes him suck in a startled little breath. The vampire hasn’t put his glove back on, but rather than the comparatively-cool skin temperature Jungkook had been expecting, Taehyung seems to be running a couple of degrees hotter than him, his touch like a cosy heatpack against the human’s wind-chilled fingers. He knows Vampires can run hot, but he thought it was only supposed to be a post-feeding thing, right? Moonbin always jokes that he makes Eunwoo wear socks to bed because of his cold feet, unless he’s eaten late. But Tae can’t have consumed any blood products for a couple of hours, and he still feels like a furnace

“You should take better care of yourself,” Taehyung murmurs, and his voice sounds different somehow, perhaps deeper than before. Or maybe that’s just the blood pulsing in Jungkook’s ears all of a sudden.

He feels…strange. Not necessarily a bad sort of strange, just…different. The heat from Taehyung’s touch is slowly creeping up his arm, helping his sore muscles (overtired from a long day of work and minimal sleep) to relax even further, and he finds himself leaning into the vampire’s side a little more.

“Sleep’s important, Kookie,” Taehyung continues, his thumb gently caressing the back of Jungkook’s hand as he leans in closer. “You can’t keep pushing yourself like this.”

Taehyung’s faint worried frown makes him look so fucking pretty. Jungkook had noticed it earlier, of course, but now he can’t seem to shift his focus from the tiny pinch at the corners of the vampire’s pale amber eyes, or the small pout formed by his perfect rosebud lips.

The air feels strangely thicker as he sucks in slow, somewhat shaky breaths, the sound of his own rapid heartbeat a thrumming echo in his ears, and Jungkook swallows, his mouth suddenly dry.

He really, really wants to kiss Taehyung. Or be kissed by him, either option is good.

“Tae,” a new voice warns quietly from somewhere nearby.

Taehyung suddenly glances down at their conjoined hands and in the blink of an eye he’s moved back to the far side of the bench, putting a good twelve inches between them.

The tingling warmth fades within a matter of seconds, the fog in Jungkook’s mind clearing significantly as he sucks in a deeper breath and straightens up from his boneless slump, gaze shifting towards the newcomer who’s standing silently nearby.

The man appears shorter in stature than Taehyung, but as with Seokjin his presence feels bigger somehow, Jungkook’s semi-dormant hybrid genes sensing what his human eyes can’t see. He’s dressed simply but stylishly in a white shirt and dark blazer with black skinny jeans, blond hair appearing almost silver in the glow from the nearby streetlamp. He’s…ethereal. And Jungkook can’t help but stare.

“Sorry,” Taehyung breathes across from him, the vampire quickly tugging his glove back on again, looking every bit as embarrassed as Jungkook had been feeling. “That was…I shouldn’t have done that. I just…fuck.

“You’re fine,” the newcomer murmurs, crossing over to them in a few languid strides, leaning against the side of the bench to settle a hand over Tae’s nape.

As he moves, something shiny at the stranger’s throat catches the light of the overhead streetlamp, and Jungkook’s eyes widen as he recognises the pale-pink collar and circular nametag from before.

“Chim?” he realises faintly.

The puppy-turned-man glances towards him, the faint line of concern in his brow smoothing out as he smiles, a gentle curl of his pale pink lips.

“Park Jimin,” the definitely-more-than-a-spirit-guide corrects. “It’s nice to finally meet you properly, Jungkookie. I’m sorry for the deception, but Taehyungie here really wanted to see you.” 

“Sorry,” Taehyung echoes, visibly embarrassed. “I’m not supposed to go anywhere without a chaperone, but I thought maybe you wouldn’t be comfortable with another vampire third-wheeling our first date. Jiminie was supposed to be giving us space, but-”

“But you took your glove off,” Jimin interjects, low enough that Jungkook probably isn’t supposed to hear it (dormant bunny genes be praised). “Jin-hyung warned you what could happen, Tae.”

The younger vampire flexes his gloved fingers and shoots Jungkook another apologetic glance.

“I really like you, Kookie,” he confesses softly. “Vampires, we…sometimes, in special cases when our feelings are strong enough, we can…emote. Skin contact aids the transference, so I’ve been wearing gloves to prevent that from happening. I didn’t want my own feelings to influence you in any way, I had to be sure it wasn’t all one-sided and that your interest in me wasn’t just an echo of my own desires. But I should never have taken the glove off, I’m sorry. Are you alright?”

Jungkook finds himself smiling a little despite the bizarreness of the situation. He almost got put into a trance by Taehyung and Chim just turned from a fluffy pooch into a full-sized smoking hot vampire, but apparently Taehyung really likes him back, so everything’s fine.

“I’m good,” he promises, and dips his head towards the blond-haired vampire who’s now perching on the arm of the bench. “It’s nice to meet you, Jimin-ssi.”

The other man regards him with the same sort of fondness as Seokjin had done earlier that day, like he’s something small and cute, and it makes warmth bloom pleasantly in his chest.

“Call me hyung,” the vampire corrects gently, before standing suddenly, tugging Taehyung up with him and extending a hand towards Jungkook. “Can we walk you to work?”

Jungkook doesn’t even think it over before agreeing, letting Jimin loop an arm through his as they set off towards the nearest exit. And it’s almost as though Taehyung’s brief lapse in control never happened, the young vampire chatting away cheerfully about the dessert café he wants to take Kookie to, and the various patbingsu it has to offer, with Jimin humming in interest whenever his nestmate pauses for breath.

“What time do you clock out?” Taehyung queries, segueing the conversation without warning.

“Around five-thirty again,” Kookie answers.

“Can I walk you home in the morning?”

Jungkook’s touched by the offer, truly he is, but he’ll feel hella guilty if Taehyung stands around all night waiting for him to finish work. Especially since the manager sometimes requires him to stay half an hour late to help restock the perishables.

“Thank you, but I’ll be alright,” he declines, as graciously as he can. “The store’s right by a police station and it isn’t all that far from where I live. I’m perfectly safe.”

Not to mention he’s going to look even more red-eyed and sleep deprived in another ten hours’ time. He’d rather Taehyung not see him looking all gross and zombified.

He has a vampire to woo, after all.  

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

.

Saturday nightshifts really fucking suck.

It isn’t just the lingering exhaustion from working multiple consecutive shifts in a thirty-six hour period on minimal sleep, or the way the minutes seems to crawl by painfully slowly after about 2am, or the niggling headache that creeps in to pulse behind his eyes as the night wears on – undoubtedly his brain’s way of telling him that he’s reached a critical point of exhaustion and needs to go the fuck to sleep.

No, the worst thing about Saturday nightshifts are the kinds of god-awful customers he inevitably has to deal with.

Okay, so not all of them are bad. There’s always the usual groups of university students stocking up on beer and soju for a night of partying (the lucky bastards actually have time to socialise at the weekend, not that Jungkook’s jealous or anything), and to be fair they don’t typically cause him too much grief; but he kinda hates seeing them all the same, because it reminds him of the sort of carefree student life that most of his financially-stable peers get to experience on a regular basis. Jungkook hasn’t been to a party since Yugyeom’s birthday last November, and he’d only managed that because Jaebum (bless the Alpha’s kind heart) had very carefully scheduled it around Kookie’s existing shifts so that he’d definitely be able to come. Hell, Jungkook had even been forced to work a double shift on his own birthday back in September because there had been too many student fees to pay off at the start of term. Socialising regularly just isn’t realistically compatible with his tight budget or his crammed work schedule.

On the other hand, he does host self-pity parties at least two or three times a nightshift, but those are pretty lonely affairs so they probably don’t count.

Another regular type of customer he comes across most Saturdays is the surly-looking, middle-aged businessman; someone who’s clearly had a bad week and intends to drown his sorrows in cheap liquor.

They tend to show up sometime after ten, still dressed in their work uniform or business suit (and Jungkook gets it, working on Saturdays really sucks), invariably heading straight for the alcohol aisle, plus or minus a brief detour via the savoury snack section. They rarely want to interact with him beyond the occasional grunt (which is absolutely fine, because he isn’t exactly keen to talk to them either), but if Jungkook’s lucky he might simply get a ‘hello’ or a ‘thank you’ out of them at the till. If he’s particularly unlucky, however, the customer might choose to offer him a few unwanted and unnecessary words of advice at the checkout.

Tonight happens to be one of those really unlucky ones.

“Being nice will get your nowhere in life,” the sullen gentlemen informs him gruffly, as Jungkook dutifully scans and bags the bottles of soju and packaged bar snacks. “Some rich fucker will exploit you for it, and suddenly you’ll find yourself stuck under his feet for the rest of your miserable career, working twice as many hours as he does for less than half the pay. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, kid.”

“Mm,” Jungkook hums politely, because he’s learned from previous experience that demonstrating any real opinion on the matter never ends well.

“Be vicious about building your future,” the ahjussi continues, with a sharp gesture of his hand that successfully topples over the small on-sale rack beside Jungkook’s till, the tiny bottles of strawberry-scented hand sanitizer spilling out over the worktop. The customer doesn’t seem to notice.

With a smile so fake it makes the muscles in his cheeks ache, Jungkook finishes bagging the groceries.

“Will that be cash or card, sir?”

Thankfully that puts an end to their little heart-to-heart, the man paying by contactless transaction and taking his purchases with a mumbled thank you, leaving Jungkook to tidy up the scattered anti-bac bottles. The only positive thing to note about the surly kind of customers is that he can usually count on them leaving fairly quickly, since they’re always keen to go home and drink themselves into oblivion.  

The slew of happy drunks he gets most Saturday nights, on the other hand…well, they’re another kettle of fish entirely.

They crop up in dribs and drabs at periodic intervals throughout his shift (with decreasing sobriety as the night wears on), and their behaviour is so sporadic and unpredictable that Jungkook can’t help but feel tense and on-edge every time one of them staggers in through the door. He’s usually fine if they come as a group (sometimes regular customers return to restock midway through their evening or to sober up with snacks and sodas); they tend to be loud and a bit intrusive, but other than knocking a few things off the shelves by accident they’re generally harmless.

It’s the loner guys who come in fresh out of the nightclubs that usually cause the most trouble – be it throwing up in the snack aisle, singing and/or yelling their drunken exuberance right in Jungkook’s face, or trying unsuccessfully to charm their way into his pants.

“Hey there, sexy,” a well-built cat hybrid drawls flirtatiously, leaning against the till (more for support than anything, Jungkook guesses, given the way he’d staggered around the store a few minutes ago). “Working nights, huh? That’s a bummer. Pretty thing like you should be tucked up in bed.”

It’s just gone 3am, and Jungkook’s tolerance for unsolicited advances has dwindled almost into nonexistence, but unfortunately he’s still on duty; since he’s wearing the store’s branded jacket and a nametag, he’s sort of obligated to put up with this kind of bullshit – the CEO is a big fan of that ‘the customer is always right’ crap, and employees have previously been terminated for ‘attitude problems’ if they’ve put their foot down about a customer’s unsavoury conduct. If someone lays a hand on him it’s a different story, but until then he has to just grin and bear it for the sake of a steady salary.

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” Jungkook lies with a neutral tone. “And I’ll be off work in a couple of hours, so…”

The customer’s grin curls wider. “Yeah? You needin’ a ride, hotshot?”

Jungkook’s lips thin but he keeps his professional smile in place as he continues scanning the packets of instant ramen and microwavable fishcakes.

“I’m fine, thank you.” He hesitates a moment before adding, “Uh…you really shouldn’t be driving anywhere until you’ve sobered up, sir.”

The man winks at him. “I didn’t mean that kind of ride,” he drawls, leaning in a little closer, hands planted on the countertop. “How about it? Think you can handle a stud like me, pretty boy?”

The scent of stale alcohol is ten times more pronounced at close proximity, making Jungkook’s sensitive nose sting (having heightened olfactory senses really sucks when he’s at work).

It bothers him tonight more than it usually would – generally drunken flirting is like water of a duck’s back these days, he’s so used to it on nightshifts. Any customer with heightened senses can tell that he’s unbonded, so there’s always one or two cocky Alpha-wannabes that try to hit on him, the alcohol serving to boost their confidence and inflate their ego even bigger than it probably already is.

Professional smile wavering as irritation bubbles up inside of him, Jungkook is about to ever-so-politely tell Mr Romeo to fuck right off, when the guy’s nostrils flare and he withdraws in the blink of an eye, retreating by a good three feet, wobbling as he takes a physical step away from the checkout, black ears pressing back against his gel-slicked hair briefly.

“Hey, I was just teasin’ you,” the cat tells him, but his casual demeanour is clearly a front to cover up his sudden nervousness, his laugh just a little too forced as he waves a dismissive hand. “You’re not offended, right? I’m drunk as fuck, and your scent wasn’t…you know. Look, I’m not dumb enough to mess around with nestlings, that’d be fucking crazy.” Another forced laugh, and the man’s gaze darts fleetingly towards the exit. “So…we’re cool, right?”

Bemused by the customer’s sudden behavioural one-eighty and not fully understanding the meaning behind it all, Jungkook doesn’t say anything in reply, his hands moving on auto-pilot to finish packing the man’s bag as he rings up the total, his “cash or card, sir” a little cooler than his usual professional cheer.

The dude shoves some money across the counter, dips in a clumsy bow of apology, grabs his bag of groceries and books it out of the store as quick as his questionable sobriety allows him to.

Jungkook breathes a sigh of relief, tensed muscles relaxing.

“Jeon! The fuck was that all about?” his night-manager grumbles, finally emerging from the back office with an armload of files (he’s about as useful as a wet paper bag when it comes to customer confrontations, so Kook hadn’t thought to call for backup).

Still dumbfounded, Jungkook can only shrug, counting out the bills and coins and breathing another relieved sigh when it’s the exact amount required on the receipt. If a customer short-changes the store by more than a few won, he usually has to follow them outside to ask for the rest (which he hates doing, because either it’s a genuine mistake and he dislikes seeing people get flustered and embarrassed because of him, or occasionally they’re just assholes who tell him to go fuck himself). And really, if Jungkook owned a chain of popular convenience stores he wouldn’t get so cut up about a few pennies here and there, but his manager is a bit of a bastard and enjoys making life difficult for him.

“Oh, by the way,” the senior store employee calls over his shoulder as he heads towards the break room, “someone puked up by the freezers again. You can handle it, yeah?”

Having singlehandedly done all of the cleaning, re-stocking and customer service for the past eight hours, Jungkook isn’t even a little bit surprised by the request. The night manager likes to do paperwork and ‘supervise’ him from a distance most of the time, and Jungkook knows it’s really fucking unfair (they definitely need two people on the shop floor, it can be super busy at times and he feels physically and emotionally drained by it all) but his manager’s the cousin of someone who works in corporate so complaining to the higher-ups isn’t really an option if he values his job.

Well, he doesn’t exactly value his job (he fucking hates it, and he’d give it up in a heartbeat if he could), but he does need the money.

By the time five o’clock rolls around, the niggling ache behind his eyes has become a persistent throbbing. His eyelids feel heavy, a scratchy dryness to every slow blink as he leans against the checkout to take the weight off his sore feet for a few minutes. Other than his ‘complementary’ 15-minute coffee break just after midnight, he’s been on his feet for the duration of the shift, and having worked a full afternoon at Euphoria and followed that up with a stroll around the park for the better part of two hours before starting his nightshift, he hasn’t really given himself chance to rest for almost 18 hours. And boy does he feel it now.

At least it isn’t raining tonight.

He begins the walk home on autopilot, practically asleep on his feet as he heads down the mostly-deserted streets back towards his apartment complex. There’s hardly any traffic at this time in the morning, just the occasional early bus or taxi, and most of the drunken stragglers have stumbled their way home from the bars and nightclubs by now, so at least he doesn’t have to contend with them.

Despite feeling utterly braindead, he finds his thoughts wandering back to what that one douchebag customer had said to him a couple of hours ago.

A “nestling”, that’s what he’d called Jungkook. The slip could easily be blamed on the man’s acute inebriation, but why had he reacted to Jungkook’s scent like that? To flip so suddenly from leering flirtation to nervously apologetic, like he’d just been caught chatting up a wolf pack’s Omega pup or something.

And Jungkook can’t help but recall Moonbin’s comment about his scent from the day before. He’d shrugged it off as being a mistake on the Were-cat’s part back then, assuming that he carried Taehyung’s scent simply from the time he’d spent in contact with the weakened, rain-soaked vampire, but he’s taken a shower since then and come into contact with dozens of people, that temporary scent transference should be gone. Maybe he just smells like Tae and Jimin from their time together last night. .

But what if there’s more to it than that? What if something in his scent, in his body chemistry, had fundamentally changed since that first encounter with Taehyung? They’ve only had one official ‘date’ since then, surely Jungkook’s scent doesn’t scream “I’m bonded!” already, they’ve barely done more than hold hands and flirt a bit. That isn’t how scent these things generally worked, right? Moonbin never mentioned anything about him smelling like nestling after just one date, but-

“Ya!”

The shout snaps him sharply out of his thoughts, bringing his gaze into focus just in time for him to see a pair of bright yellow headlights come speeding towards him around the corner. His reflexes kick in and he jumps back, stumbling as the heel of his worn shoes catches against the asphalt (fuck, he should’ve worn his new Chukkas instead, but he’d been worried about them getting damaged if it rained again), ice-cold dread flooding his veins as he feels himself start to fall backwards…

…only to be caught suddenly by a pair of strong arms and yanked back to the safety of the curb, watching wide-eyed as the taxi goes whizzing past with an angry blare of its horn.

Jungkook’s legs are like jelly beneath his weight, exhaustion and adrenaline making him feel shaky all over, and if it wasn’t for his saviour’s strong hold he definitely would’ve ended up on his ass.

“You’re okay,” the stranger murmurs, a little out of breath but otherwise composed, his voice low and soothing. “You’re fine, I’ve got you.”

He can’t even remember the moment that he’d started crossing the road. Had he even looked before he’d stepped out? He’d been so lost in his thoughts, basic road safety hadn’t even registered. If the man hadn’t saved him, there’s no way the taxi would’ve been able to brake in time, it would’ve hit him for sure.

He could’ve died.

Oh fuck.

The next time Jungkook’s able to focus on the here and now he’s sitting on a low stone wall with his head between his knees, a gentle hand resting on the nape of his neck. At some point his rescuer must have steered (or carried) him away from the roadside, but apparently Jungkook had been too busy hyperventilating to notice.

“Breathe,” the velvety voice soothes, another hand coming to rest on Jungkook’s knee as the man sinks down to crouch in front of him. “Nice and slow, Kookie, that’s it.”

He’s so disorientated that it takes a moment for his namee to register, but when it does his head comes up sharply, and he blinks at the apparently-not-a-stranger-after-all in surprise.

“How do you know my-” the questions dies on his lips the moment he lifts his head, cataloguing the vaguely familiar features and feeling his heart flutter in his chest when the face finally clicks. “You…you’re...”

“Min Yoongi,” the vampire supplies calmly, his smile soft. “Hi. I’m one of Tae’s nestmates.”

Jungkook nods, remembering Yoongi from the photos Taehyung had shown him last night during their walk. Granted, that Min Yoongi had been sporting pale-blue hair and a fond grin, Taehyung draped over him from behind with their cheeks squished together as the laughing younger vampire took a selfie. And this Yoongi before him may have silver-grey hair, but that gentle warmth in his gaze is the same. Jungkook feels his panic receding quickly, grounded by the vampire’s gentle touch, and gradually the cold, sickly sense of dread fades into nothingness.

“Thank you for saving me,” he managers, his voice coming out a bit wobbly. “If you hadn’t…fuck, I didn’t even see it coming. Thank you, sir.”

Yoongi’s hand has shifted from his nape to cup the juncture between neck and shoulder, a comforting sort of weight.

“Hyung,” the vampire corrects gently. “And you’re more than welcome. Aigoo, you look exhausted. Did you hurt yourself at all?”

Now that the adrenaline-fuelled numbness has faded, Jungkook can actually feel his outer extremities enough to confirm that nothing aches (other than his tired feet), and gives a little shake of his head.

The slight pinch in the vampire’s brow smooths over, his relief visible, and he releases his gentle grip on Jungkook’s shoulder to instead take the youth’s cold hands between his own, rubbing them to return warmth to the chilled skin. It’s all kind of surreal; he’d never anticipated his nightshift ending in a near-death experience, and he definitely hadn’t expected to meet another one of Tae’s hyungs so soon. Not that he’s complaining, because Yoongi literally just saved his life and Jungkook kinda wants to hug him forever now, but even so, the odds of running into one of his sort-of-boyfriend’s nestmates out of the blue like this...

“You’re probably wondering what I’m doing out here at this hour,” Yoongi acknowledges perceptively, slowly straightening up from his crouch, using his gentle grip on Jungkook’s hands to help the younger man to his feet.

“Yeah…kinda,” Kookie admits, grateful for the vampire’s steadying hand on his forearm as his legs take a moment to adjust to bearing his weight again. “I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m super grateful, but Jimin-hyung said you guys all lived near the border of the Fae forest?”

Yoongi gives a small, casual shrug. “I just had a bad feeling about your shift tonight; figured I’d come check up on you.”

Staring at him blankly for a moment, Jungkook feels the pieces of the puzzle begin to slot together despite the fogginess of his fatigued mind.

“You’re a Seer,” he realises, slightly awed.

The vampire’s smile turns secretive as he lifts a finger to his lips. “Not according to any traceable legal documents. If anyone asks, I just have remarkably good gut-instincts.”

That explains so much (the vampire’s ability to rescue him from almost certain injury, how Taehyung had known to get him that specific pair of Timberlands)¸but also fills his head with a thousand more question. Seers were rare. Only a handful of magic-born species carried the gift of foresight to this extent – and those that did were typically given high-up jobs alongside the nation's leaders, like military advisers or government aids, so that their talents could be used to the betterment of the country. To a much lesser extent, Alphas possess heightened gut-instincts along existing bonds with friends and packmates (Jaebum always seems to know where his mates are at any given moment), and Fae can predict natural disasters or imminent weather phenomena, but they can't actually foresee specific events taking place like this.

“Come on,” Yoongi murmurs, pulling Jungkook from his thoughts with a light hand settling on the small of his back to guide him forwards. “You’re exhausted, kiddo. Is it alright if I walk you back to your apartment?”

Jungkook nods, too tired to even think of verbalising his usual ‘oh, but I don’t want to be an inconvenience’ spiel. So sue him, he almost died like fifteen minutes ago and one of Tae’s kind-looking, doting hyungs is offering to escort him home, how's he supposed to say no to that?

Also there’s still like a 20% chance he might actually get hit by another taxi if he’s left to cross the main road on his own.

He’d be an idiot to refuse.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Hyung? You don’t look so good.”

Jungkook tries to muster up a reassuring smile for his co-worker, but it probably doesn’t look all that convincing given the way he’s squinting up at the youth wincingly. It’s hard not to wince when the overhead lighting seems a thousand times brighter than usual, aggravating the sharp throbbing behind his eyes.

“I’m just tired,” he reassures, and in his defence it isn’t technically a lie (his current migraine is definitely the result of his ongoing sleep deprivation). “I had a late night, that’s all.”

Sanha’s pale bunny-ears twitch in concern, clearly unconvinced by Jungkook’s calm dismissal.

“Why don’t you stay on break a little longer?” the hybrid suggests, twisting his pale pink Euphoria apron between his hands as he regards Kookie worriedly. “I can cover your tables, Suyeon-noona won’t mind.”

Shaking his head (and regretting it immediately when a sharp pain lances through his left temple), Jungkook pushes himself to his feet, ignoring the wave of dizziness that hits him once he’s upright.

“You’ve been on your feet all afternoon, you need a break more than I do,” he argues fondly, reaching out to playfully ruffle the rabbit hybrid’s pastel-blue hair. “I appreciate the offer, though. Hey look, I even saved you a cupcake.”

He gestures towards the tray of ‘rejects’ Minho had brought in from the kitchen a little while ago, pointing at the much-coveted carrot cupcake that sits there amidst the misshapen cookies and cracked macaroons. The piped cream cheese frosting has been compressed on one side (probably got squashed up against the loading tray as it was being slid into the display counter at the front of the café), but it’ll taste amazing just the same, and Jungkook knows that this particular flavour is Sanha’s favourite. A fact which he intends to use to his advantage

As predicted, Sanha’s fretful expression vanishes the moment he spies the cupcake, replaced by a beaming smile as he dives for the sweet treat.

“Ooh! Thanks, hyung!”

With the younger bunny hybrid suitably distracted from Jungkook’s questionably ill health for the time being, he quietly slips out of the break room and heads back towards the front of the café, carefully schooling his expression into something a little less pained.

“Any outstanding orders?” he asks with forced cheer.

Suyeon checks her iPad screen briefly and hums. “Your cute guest from yesterday is back in booth eight – and he’s brought a couple of friends. Sanha went to take their order a while ago, but apparently they needed a little more time. I have a feeling they were waiting for your break to end.”

The pulse of excitement at the knowledge that Taehyung has come to see him again so soon after their date last night momentarily distracts him from the pounding in his skull, and he feels a delighted smile tugging at his lips despite his bone-deep exhaustion. Taehyung’s brought friends with him, too? He knows the young vampire is supposed to have an escort when he leaves the nest, so perhaps it’s one of his mates? Jungkook wonders whether Jimin has tagged along in his true form this time, since Tae hadn’t let him try the chocolate cake in dog-form yesterday. Or maybe it’s Yoongi come to check up on him after the near-miss incident this morning? Or Jin, with his thoroughly disarming smile and gentle warmth? Or maybe it’s a nestmate that Jungkook hasn’t met before?

So many possibilities; his heart’s already racing in anticipation. How do Taehyung and his mates do that to him so easily? Even just the thought of them being here leaves him feeling so goddamn flustered, aigoo.

Automatically his hands move to fix his hair and smooth down his Euphoria apron, and Suyeon looks at him in that ultra-perceptive way of hers, clearly trying not to smirk.

“You look fine, Jungkook-ah.” She pats his arm encouragingly. “Go get ‘em, tiger.”

The rhythmic pulsing of his headache threatens to rev back up again as soon as he starts walking, but he breathes a quiet sigh of relief as he steps through the walkway and enters the ‘twilight’ area in the back section of the café. Without the bright overhead lighting, he won’t need to squint or blink back floaty spots every few seconds, which will make hiding his persistent migraine from Taehyung a whole lot easier. It’s also significantly less busy in this section (most of the folk who prefer dimmer lighting tend to visit the café later in the afternoon or in the evening), with only a couple of tables occupied in the open floor, and Jungkook’s sensitive ears appreciate the lack of background noise.

It also means his acute sense of hearing is able to pick up on a familiar voice as he approaches the curtain-shrouded booth eight.

“-felt fine until a few minutes ago,” he overhears Taehyung saying, a nervous edge to his voice. “It just came on all of a sudden. You don’t think…?”

“No, baby,” an unfamiliar speaker reassures gently. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious. But we’ll drop by Joonie’s clinic on the way home, alright? Just in case. You’re probably just tired after the past few days; maybe he can give you something to help you sleep.”

Concern stirs in his gut at the topic of conversation. Is Taehyung sick? He didn’t think vampires could get sick, at least not with common illnesses? But then Tae said he’d only been a vampire for a little while, maybe it was different with fledglings?

Schooling his features into a pleasant smile to hide his worry, Jungkook sweeps the curtain back and dips into his customary deep bow, gritting his teeth briefly against the pain that lances through his temples as the pressure in his head increases.

“Welcome back to Euphoria,” he greets politely, rising slowly and quickly blinking his fuzzy vision back into focus. “Thank you for inviting me to serve you.”

His gaze zeroes in on Taehyung immediately where the vampire is seated directly opposite in the middle of the booth’s semi-circular padded bench, tucked up between Jimin and another man with fluffy brown hair whose face is instantly familiar.

“That’s Hobi-hyung,” Taehyung had told him last night, showing Jungkook a photo of himself and a red-haired man sitting curled up in an armchair together, ‘Hobi’ grinning as he balanced a can of soda on Tae’s head. “He’s, like, the happiest guy I’ve ever met. And he’s an empath, so he knows when you’re feeling sad and he always tries to cheer you up. You’re gonna love him so much, Kookie. Oh! And he’s a dancer like Jimin, they make YouTube videos together, look…”

“Jungkookie!” Taehyung smiles brightly, but there’s a noticeable pinch around his eyes that Jungkook knows all too well. “I hope you don’t mind me crashing your workplace again, but I really wanted you to meet Hobi-hyung.”

“Jung Hoseok,” the dark-haired vampire introduces himself with a friendly grin, still keeping his arm draped around Taehyung’s shoulders. “But Hobi-hyung is fine. It’s great to meet you, Jungkookie, I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Jungkook’s about to reciprocate the introduction (probably in a really embarrassingly gushy way because hearing that Tae’s been talking to his nestmates about him is just, wow, feelings), but a soft noise from Taehyung distracts him, his own smile dimming a little when he witnesses the youngest vampire flinch, one palm coming up to press against his eye socket.

“Hyung?” Jungkook pries, letting the usual Euphoria formalities slip as concern bubbles up inside of him. “Are you alright?”

“Mm, just a headache,” Taehyung reassures him without missing a beat, sending Kookie a convincingly cheerful grin. “I didn’t sleep much this morning. Guess I was too excited to come here and see you.”

The words might’ve made Jungkook feel flustered all over again if he wasn’t so worried about the truth behind Tae’s obvious deception.

“Aish,” Jimin frets, gently cupping his nestmate’s cheek and turning Tae’s head towards him, brow creasing in concern as he leans in closer to murmur to the maknae (quietly enough that Jungkook wouldn’t have been able to eavesdrop if not for his bunny hybrid genes – thanks, great-grandpa Jeon). “So that’s why Jin-hyung wanted you to sleep this afternoon? You should’ve said something earlier, dumb-dumb. You’re too young to be going days without sleep.”

Taehyung pouts, dropping the hand from his eye. “But you said you wanted to try the crimson velvet cake. And look? I’m feeling better already. Guess I just needed to see Kookie’s cute smile again.”

That does succeed in making Jungkook blush, and apparently Taehyung notices his reaction, if the man’s growing smile is any indication.

“You’d like a slice of the crimson velvet cake?” he asks politely instead, turning his attention towards Jimin.

The vampire seems a little distracted by his ailing nestmate, but he still flashes a quick, warm smile in Jungkook’s direction.

“Please. And the blood-orange sunrise looks good, if it’s not too much trouble.”

“Ooh, I wanna try that too,” Taehyung enthuses, apparently forgetting about his headache as he peers at the little cocktail menu.

Hoseok plucks it delicately from the younger vampire’s fingers. “You need to feed and hydrate, hon, infused alcohol’s probably not a good idea right now.” Glancing towards Jungkook, he smiles charmingly. “Do you have any organic pouches?”

Jungkook nods, polite smile freezing in place when his migraine angrily reminds him why any sort of movement is a bad idea.

“Any specific brand?” he asks, because he can’t remember all the different fancy-ass pouches off the top of his head but he knows they keep a stock of them locked in a secure fridge in the cellar.

“O-neg if you have it,” Hoseok answers, “but anything organic is great. And I’ll take a black tea, thank you.”

Human blood isn’t commercially sold in most stores simply due to the high procurement cost (and short shelf life) compared to animal and synthetic blood products. Most pouches contained a mixture of the two, but establishments that were frequented by vampires (certain clubs, bars and restaurants) usually kept a few of the pricier human-sourced blood pouches onsite in case a customer wanted to pay for the high quality stuff. Jungkook knows for a fact that even one of the O-neg feeder pouches in their storage fridge is at least three times the price of their most expensive cocktail. If he hadn’t already guessed by now that Taehyung and his nestmates were rolling in it, this would certainly confirm it.

Tae whines, a soft complaint. “But hyung, organic’s so boring, can’t I have an infusion too?”

“You can have a sip of mine,” Jimin promises, bumping his nestmate’s shoulder gently. “And what about that blood-chocolate lava cake, you said that looked good, right?”

The maknae vampire’s pout vanishes at the promise of Euphoria’s melt-in-the-middle dessert. The cake came in two variations, one designed to cater to the vast majority of their customers and one specifically for those who required a more iron-rich diet. They looked the same from the outside, but Euphoria’s pastry chefs have won national awards for their creativity and unique menu ideas, so he knows the blood products they use in their blended recipes are the real deal. Jungkook’s never tried the blood-chocolate lava cake himself for obvious reasons (his recessive bunny genes make digesting blood products almost impossible), but Binnie’s boyfriend has sworn up and down that it’s his favourite food, and Eunwoo isn’t the sort to exaggerate.

“Make that two lava cakes,” Hoseok requests, flashing him another disarming grin. “I’ve been dying to try it for weeks, everyone on Instagram keeps raving on about them.”

“Pretty sure Ravi-hyung’s started a trend,” Jimin mentions absently, perusing the drinks menu as his fingers idly play with Taehyung’s hair. “Kookie, could I get a crimson boba too? With extra tapioca?”

“Of course,” Jungkook agrees cheerfully, trying not to make it too obvious just how much he loves the vampire using his nickname so casually.

He covers up his flustered state by pretending to write it all down on the little love-shaped notepad from the front pocket of his apron, although most of his letters end up too illegible to be of much use to anyone (and he usually relies on memory anyway).

“If there’s anything else you’d like, please ring for me,” Jungkook recites, falling back on the safety net of his usual Euphoria serving script as he gestures to the tiny bell in the centre of the table. “I’ll be back with your refreshments shortly.”

He bows again as he backs out of the booth, gritting his teeth against the renewed pounding in his skull and catching himself against the curtain as it swishes back into place. He takes a moment to regain his balance, grateful that Taehyung and the others hadn’t witnessed his momentary disorientation and that the other patrons seated in the open-plan area don’t appear to have noticed that anything’s amiss. He’d hate to make a scene in front of strangers by keeling over or something, that’s literally his worst nightmare; inconveniencing other people or looking all weak and pathetic in front of them and attracting their attention. He doesn’t mind opening up in front of people he knows and trusts, but to be exposed like that in front of total strangers, or worse, valued customers who he’ll probably have to serve at some point in the future? Aigoo.

“Jungkook-ah?”

He blinks, realising belatedly that he’s walked back through into the main café area on autopilot and has been standing by the serving counter as though in a trance for god knows how long.

Suyeon’s regarding him closely, her gaze assessing. “Are you alright?”

“Fine, sorry, I’m good,” he fumbles with his notepad, pretending to check the illegibly-scrawled order. “Just spaced out for sec. Do we still have any O-negs in the back?”

His manager arches an eyebrow, clearly surprised by the request. To be fair, it isn’t often that customers ask for such expensive beverages. Euphoria’s a popular café because it’s pretty affordable while still delivering high quality service (and aish, he’s read the employee service guide way too many times), and although they get the occasional celebrity visitor (VIXX had filmed a midnight mukbang VLive here just a few weeks ago) people generally don’t come here to fork out a small fortune on pricey blood pouches.

“A new order came in from HaemoGlobal last night,” she answers, pulling the fridge keys from her apron pocket. “Pretty sure we’re fully stocked. Just the one pouch?”

Jungkook nods – shit, he really needs to stop doing that – and activates the touchscreen behind the serving counter to contact the kitchens, requesting two blood-lava desserts, and busies himself carefully arranging a slice of crimson velvet cake on a plate, decorating the edges with delicate swirls of melted chocolate and sliced strawberries. It’s not his best work – Jungkook usually prides himself on artistic plate designs, especially when his customers have ordered cute desserts – but his hand feels shaky today and every second he spends leaning down over the plate is worsening the throbbing behind his eyes.

He straightens up again and has to catch himself against the edge of the serving counter, flashing dots obscuring his vision for a few moments. Fuck, his head hurts. It’s getting difficult to even function normally. All he really wants to do is turn off all the lights and just curl up on the floor and maybe cry a little, but none of the above is feasible right now.

Two hours until he shift ends. He can manage that, right? Then he can finally crawl back home and pass out for a solid twelve hours before he needs to get up for school in the morning. He’s worked longer shifts than this feeling even shittier than he does now, and he knows his body can handle it for a short period. He just has to hold on a little while longer.

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

It’s a fucking cake fork that does it.

He’s managed to smile and charm his way through the afternoon without alerting any of the customers to his poor condition, keeping up his bubbly persona through sheer determination in an effort to convince his Euphoria colleagues that nothing’s out of the ordinary. Although he spies Sanha watching him with big, worried eyes more than once and catches the bunny tapping away on his phone beneath the serving counter, so the kid’s probably already tattled on him to Moonbin. All that means is that he’ll go home and get extra cuddles from his worried Were-cat roommate, so that’s not exactly a bad thing, but Binnie will want to lecture him about it tomorrow if he shows up at the apartment looking like death warmed up.

Still, the end is finally in sight when he makes his way back into the darkened area at the rear of the café to check up on Taehyung and his nestmates. Just a few more cleared tables and maybe a couple of takeout orders, and it’ll be time to leave. He can practically feel his pillow already.

“Can I get you anything else?” he asks, as cheerfully as he can muster. He might feel like shit, but he still wants to make a good impression.

“We’re fine, thank you,” Jimin replies, nursing his fourth drink. All three vampires had ordered multiple desserts and beverages over the past couple of hours, and Jungkook gets the feeling they intend to stay until his shift is over, but he’s too shy to ask if they want the bill or not.

“You look tired,” Taehyung comments sleepily from where he’s slouched on the padded bench, his head pillowed on Jimin’s shoulder. “You should sleep more, Kookie.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got a date with my bed in like thirty minutes,” Jungkook quips, secretly pleased when it makes Tae’s smile curl wider.

“An early night sounds like a good idea,” Hoseok agrees, and there’s something in his gaze that’s all too knowing, like he can see right through Jungkook’s forced enthusiasm. “Can we offer you a ride home, Kookie?”

“That’s really kind of you, but I’m sure it’s out of your way,” Jungkook declines, busying himself with loading a couple of empty dessert plates onto the tray he’s balanced on the edge of the table.

“Actually we’ll be driving right past the end of your street,” Jimin tells him, sliding the empty mug from in front of Taehyung so that Jungkook doesn’t have to lean too far across the table. “We’re dropping by to see Namjoon-hyung before we go home, and his clinic’s not far from the station.”

Hoseok leans in a little, and Jungkook can read the concern in his gaze despite the dim lighting.

“One of our nestmates, Yoongi….he suggested you might need an escort home after your shift,” the vampire explains haltingly, then flashes Jungkook a wry grin. “Which I know probably sounds a little weird, but you just have to trust us on this one. Yoongi-hyung’s hunches are usually pretty on-point, so we’d all feel a lot happier if we saw you safely home.”

Jungkook’s surprised to realise that Yoongi apparently hasn’t told the rest of his clutch about what happened earlier that morning – Tae and the others seem to believe he hasn’t met Yoongi yet and doesn’t know that the vampire’s a powerful Seer. Still, he’s grateful that the elder’s kept things under wraps; he has a feeling Taehyung might never let him walk to or from work ever again if he knew that Jungkook had almost been run over by a taxi twelve hours ago.

“Are you sure it won’t be an inconvenience?” he asks after a beat, reaching for another plate. It’s not that he’s against the idea, he just doesn’t want to be a burden to people who barely know him, but if Yoongi thinks something might happen to him on the way home…

“You’ll never be an inconvenience,” Taehyung answers, with such gentle sincerity that Jungkook’s heart flutters in his chest, his hands fumbling a little in their task.

A cake fork misses the edge of the tray and goes tumbling over to clatter to the floor of the booth just beneath the table.

“Sorry,” he murmurs, cheeks heating, and bends down to pick it up.

Bad idea.

The blood rushes to his head immediately, the pressure building up behind his eyes until he can practically feel the veins pulsing at his temples, muscles going taut like something’s being wrapped around his head far too tightly. His vision blacks out momentarily and his hands begin to tingle, and he has approximately two and a half seconds of lingering consciousness to realise with perfect clarity that he’s about to pass out.

He doesn’t actually remember hitting the floor, but he’s aware of a dull ache in his shoulder and the sensation of the world turning upside down suddenly, but his head’s spinning so bad it’s hard to keep track of anything else. Sounds fade in and out, like someone’s cranking the volume in his ears from mute to full blast and back down again.

“…-call for help?”

“No, let’s give him a minute to…worn himself out…”

“…so pale, does he have a fever?”

“He’s been working too many…barely had a chance to sleep…”

“…get him some water?”

“Maybe something with a little sugar in it? Fruit juice would work.”

The words are coming in clearer now, and the heavy feeling is lifting from the rest of his body. He can feel the floor beneath his back, but his head’s pillowed on something soft and there’s a hand resting across his aching forehead. He feels awful, like literally everything aches so fucking much and it’s the worst. Everything sounds ten times too loud now, and there’s a broken whimpering noise coming from nearby which he relates to so much.

“Shh, you’re okay,” a voice above him murmurs, and Jungkook realises with a twinge of mortification that the miserable whimpering sound must’ve come from his own throat. “Just relax, Jungkookie, you’re fine. You just blacked out for a minute.”

His eyelids are so fucking heavy, but he has to know who else is here to witness his embarrassing display (he can hear other people in the near vicinity), and he wrenches them open with a great deal of effort to blink up at Hoseok’s handsome face hovering over him.

“Hi there,” the vampire greets, his smile calm and reassuring. “How’s your head feeling?”

Jungkook wets his lips, his tongue feeling strange and thick. “Fuzzy.”

“Mm, that tends to happen when you pass out,” Taehyung sympathises, and Jungkook realises his head’s pillowed in the younger vampire’s lap, gloved fingers stroking through his hair soothingly.

He glances up as Hoseok leans back, Tae’s worried face coming into view. The vampire’s expression smooths out into an easy smile almost immediately, although the look of concern doesn’t leave his eyes.

“Hey, Kookie,” Taehyung murmurs. “Jiminie’s gonna talk with your manager and grab you some juice before we take you home, okay? Just take it easy for a few minutes. You hit the ground pretty hard.”

Shit. If Suyeon finds out she’ll definitely insist that he go home early, which means that all the rest of his colleagues will inevitably find out why he’s clocking off before the shift’s over, and by the time he goes back to work next weekend everyone from the overnight cleaning staff to the company CEO will know that he passed out in front of customers like a big dramatic baby.

Oh god no, don’t cry. Don’t cry, don’t cry, nononono…

He sees Taehyung’s smile fall as Jungkook’s traitorous eyes fill with miserable, exhausted, mortified tears. He quickly lifts an arm to cover up the evidence, but it’s too late, Tae’s already seen them.

“Fuck, are you hurt? Kookie?” the vampire frets, and Jungkook feels the gloved fingers gently trying to tug his arm away, but he keeps it locked firmly in place. “You gotta talk to me, baby, c’mon.”

“Tae,” Hoseok murmurs, and that single word is enough to stop the younger vampire’s fussing in its tracks.

A warm hand cups his cheek. “I told Jimin to be discreet, don’t worry. And nobody else noticed when you passed out, the curtain was still closed. I figured you might not appreciate the extra attention, so he’s only going to tell your manager enough that she can clear you for going home ahead of schedule.”

Whether due to Hobi’s touch or his calming words (or a combination of the two), the churning ball of bad feelings in Jungkook’s chest immediately dissipates, the tension leaving him in a quiet, shaky sigh.

“I know you’re feeling pretty rough right now,” Hoseok commiserates, thumb stroking his cheek gently. “You’re hurting and embarrassed you don’t want to be a bother, but it’s okay to need a little help sometimes. You can’t always be a tough guy.”

Hobi-hyung’s an empath, Tae had told him. No shit.

“You’ll feel so much better after a good night’s sleep,” the vampire continues, gently coaxing Jungkook’s arm from his face at last and thumbing away any evidence of tears with a tender touch. “But I want to get you checked out real quick first, okay?”

Jungkook immediately starts to shake his head. “N-no, I’m fine, I just bent over to quickly-”

“Please, Kookie?” Taehyung presses, smoothing his fringe back. “Just a check-up. We can text Joon-hyung before we leave, you won’t even have to wait for an appointment. He’ll be super quick, I promise. He’s the best Healer in Seoul.”

The curtain shifts as Jimin reappears, bottle of pineapple juice in hand. The lines of worry in his expression smooth over the moment he locks eyes with Jungkook, and he sinks smoothly to his knees beside Taehyung.

“You wanna try sitting up a little?” Hoseok prompts encouragingly, and with Jimin and Tae’s help Jungkook is able to level himself a little more upright.

The juice is cold and sweet, and although it does nothing to alleviate the pounding in his head, it does banish the last of the lingering grogginess from his overtired mind.

“Jungkook-ah?”

It’s Suyeon, peering down at him from between the curtains with that familiar assessing look. Her gaze flits briefly to Taehyung, Jimin and Hoseok, and for once she doesn’t summon her usual floor-manager smile that she uses to greet all the guests. Instead she seems almost…suspicious?

“Would you like me to phone you a taxi?” she offers carefully, returning her gaze to Jungkook. “You could come and rest in the break room for a little while…”

And Jungkook appreciates what she’s trying to do. If he’d passed out in front of any other customers, he definitely would jump at the first chance to excuse himself from their company and wallow in his own misery elsewhere. But Taehyung’s anything but a stranger to him even after just forty-eight hours, and he finds himself trusting the vampire’s nestmates instinctively. They just have this aura about them, this calming presence that makes him feel so fucking safe even though he knows next to nothing about them beyond what Tae had told him last night.

“That’s okay, but thank you,” he replies after a short pause, and settles his hand over the arm that Taehyung’s got wrapped around his waist to help support him. “I’ve already got a ride home.”

Taehyung hugs him even tighter from behind, and it almost makes the whole passing-out-in-exhaustion thing worth it just to know how it feels to be held close like this.

Ugh, he’s so fucking in love.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Strangely enough, even though his skull is trying to split itself in two with every pulsing heartbeat, Jungkook has never felt more content in his entire life.

Granted, it probably has a whole lot to do with the fact that he’s currently tucked up cosily between Taehyung and Jimin in the backseat of the vampires’ car, his aching head pillowed on Tae’s shoulder and their fingers snugly intertwined beneath the light jacket that Hoseok had draped over his upper torso to keep him warm. The car windows are heavily tinted (as is generally the preference for most nocturnal species), and the significantly dimmed lighting is so fucking amazing after the hours he’s spent enduring Euphoria’s cheery pastel decor. Jungkook wants to live in this car forever.

“His heartbeat’s settled down,” Jimin whispers to the left of him, a feather-light touch brushing aside a few strands of Jungkook’s fringe. “I think he’s finally drifted off.”

Well…to be fair, that’s almost the case. He may not be asleep just yet, but he definitely isn’t fully awake either. He’s kinda hovering somewhere between the two, a level of semi-consciousness where he’s still mostly aware of what’s happening whilst being weirdly disconnected from it all; like, he can still feel how much everything aches, and he’s so physically exhausted that it’s like having ten-kilo weights strapped to every inch of him, but he can acknowledge the existence of those sensations without them totally overwhelming him like they had done earlier. Physical contact is definitely helping with that – it’s probably his bunny hybrid genes coming into play again, that deep yearning for tactile comfort he’d usually have to sate by visiting Yugyeom’s pack or snuggling up with Moonbin on the couch back home. He doesn’t often get sick (again, thanks in part to his mixed genetics), but on the rare occasions that he is, he gets cuddly as fuck, and no amount of painkillers or junk-food can substitute for the sweet relief of being wrapped up tightly in the arms of someone he cares about.

Honestly, its’s the first time he’s felt that same level of comfort and security in the company people he barely knows. Aside from Binne and the Im-pack, he tends to be pretty guarded around other people, reluctant to burden anyone else with his own problems. But passing out in front of Tae and the others had officially broken the ice, so to speak, and there’s really no going back from that. They already know he’s not ‘fine’, so keeping up his earlier deception would’ve been a waste of precious energy.

Also he’d been in desperate need of a hug, and boy do these vampires deliver.

“He still looks so pale,” Tae remarks, his tone hushed but full of concern. The hand that isn’t intertwined with Jungkook’s carefully tugs up Hoseok’s jacket a little higher, blanketing Kookie further in its cosy warmth. “What if it’s something serious?”

“Namjoon-hyung can handle it,” Jimin reassures calmly. “But I don’t think he’s sick – at least he doesn’t smell sick. I think he’s just totally worn himself out,”

“I shouldn’t have asked him out on that date last night,” the younger vampire frets quietly, gloved fingers squeezing Jungkook’s. “He could’ve gone home and taken a nap before his nightshift if I hadn’t-”

“Hey.” There’s a soft rustle of fabric, and Jungkook feels something light brush against the side of his head (Jimin’s sleeve, maybe), presumably as the shifter reaches out to comfort Taehyung. “Don’t blame yourself, hon, none of this is your fault. You couldn’t have known about his crazy schedule – kid managed to hide his exhaustion from all of us with that cute smile of his. I imagine he’s been pushing himself to the limit for a while now.”

“You think so?”

“Mm,” Jimin hums quietly. “You said he takes business studies at SNU, right? Assuming that his classes run on a fixed schedule, he’s probably in school Monday through Friday. Then he works, what, roughly thirty-six hours between Friday night and Sunday evening? And presumably he’s juggling coursework and exam prep on top of all. Tae, the kid’s working seven days a week with no downtime and running on minimal sleep, it’s no wonder he’s dead on his feet.”

Taehyung’s fingers tighten a little around his own. “That’s way too much,” the vampire breathes. “He can’t function without sleep like that, he’s gonna make himself sick-”

“Guys,” Hoseok murmurs from the front seat of the car, his voice soft but full of quiet authority. “Let’s talk about this later, okay? Let him rest.”

Jungkook wonders for a moment if the empath maybe knows he’s not truly asleep. It’s possible, but then…empaths read emotions, not minds, right? And since the only thing he’s feeling right now is tired-and-achy-but-thank-god-there’s-cuddles, he hopes that doesn’t translate across as anything that might make his state of awareness too obvious. It’s not like he’s deliberately eavesdropping or anything (to be honest, falling asleep would be fucking awesome – his head hurts too much to permit him that painless reprieve), but he doesn’t want Hoseok to think he’s faking his state of semi-consciousness either. He’s genuinely too exhausted to lift his head or even open his eyes by this point, so all he can do is drift dazedly and listen to their quiet conversation, and count the occasional thuddunk of Tae’s slow vampire heartbeat.

Most of the journey passes by in a bit of a blur after that, sounds and sensations flitting in and out of Jungkook’s overtired consciousness like he’s tuned into radio station with bad signal. It’s hard to keep track of where they’re going or how many minutes have passed, and after a while he stops trying to concentrate (because even thinking hurts), and just lets himself float.

The car must take a sharp turn at some point, because the sudden movement jostles him enough that a quiet, pained noise emerges from the back of his throat (quite without his permission) as the pulsing ache flares white-hot for a moment. He feels Jimin and Taehyung press in closer almost immediately.

“Shh,” Jimin hushes softly, and a hand squeezes Jungkook’s thigh in reassurance. “You’re fine, honey; you’re safe. Go back to sleep.”

Honey? Ohh, he likes that. He likes that very much, please and thank you.

Cuddled up so closely to Tae, his nose is full of the vampire’s scent – something almost like brown sugar, rich and sweet in a way that soothes his heightened olfactory senses. He doesn’t know whether it’s unique to Taehyung or if it’s carried by the vampire’s nestmates as a clutch-scent, the way it works with Were-packs. Jungkook had known Yugyeom as a lone Omega, so when he’d joined Jaebum’s pack and his scent had naturally changed to reflect that bond, Kookie had been there to notice it. But he isn’t sure if vampire physiology works on the same principles, and truthfully, his head hurts too much to really think about it too deeply. All that matters is that Tae smells nice and Jungkook wants to drown himself in that scent forever.

He must finally drift off for a short while, and when he stirs into semi-wakefulness again it’s because the car door is being opened and there’s a cool breeze wafting in.

“-sure my colleagues can handle the clinic appointments without me,” a new, deeper voice is saying from somewhere nearby. “Provided there aren’t any emergency cases, he can rest up in my office until he’s feeling well enough to go home. Tae, honey, scoot over for me…”

Jimin’s arm slips behind his shoulders to hold him up as Tae’s solid warmth disappears, and Jungkook can’t quite suppress the noise of protest at the vampire’s sudden absence, his head throbbing as he tries to lift it up himself (fuck, why does everything require so much effort, he can’t even open his eyes properly).

“Hey, Jungkookie.” A warm palm settled gently across his brow, and the newcomer makes a low noise of sympathy. “Aish, that’s one helluva migraine you’ve got there. Let’s get you inside, buddy.”

A thick pair of arms come around him as he slowly surfaces from his semi-doze, and almost before it clicks in Jungkook’s foggy brain that they must have arrived at Kim Namjoon’s clinic, he’s being scooped up as if he weighs nothing at all and lifted carefully from the car. The sudden temperature change wakes him up enough that he can briefly squint his eyes open, but he immediately regrets that decision when the late afternoon sunshine triggers a fresh set of sharp skewers piercing through his temples.

Fucking ow.

Jungkook keeps his eyes closed thereafter as he’s taken inside somewhere warm and well-lit, unwilling to risk aggravating his migraine further. There’s a lot of background noise in here – multiple voices at varying pitches, the whirr of a printer, a persistently buzzing overhead light, a baby crying some distance away, a cell phone ringing – and it’s a lot to cope with all at once. Jungkook sometimes wishes his ears had an off-switch, because too often is heightened sense of hearing makes him prone to a sensory overload, especially when he’s already tired or feeling sick.

He must make some sort of pained noise, because Namjoon hushes him softly and starts murmuring under his breath; soothing, lilting words that flow into one another so seamlessly that Jungkook can’t actually make out what he’s saying. The healer’s low, intonating voice has an immediate calming effect on Kookie’s overwhelmed senses, enough that he’s able to breathe again without feeling like he’s about to throw up.

They pass through a short corridor (Jungkook can tell by the slight echo to their footsteps), and then he hears a door close behind them, shutting out the background noise from that other area entirely.

“Hobi, could you get the lights?”

Jungkook feels himself being lowered down onto a padded surface in a semi-recline, almost sighing in relief when his head sinks into the squishy embrace of a pillow. The light against the back of his eyelids dims significantly, presumably as Hoseok dials down the switches, enough that Jungkook tentatively peeks one eyelid open.

A semi-familiar face swims into view above him, the man’s expression full of such tender warmth that it makes something in Jungkook’s chest flutter.

“Hey there,” the healer murmurs, perching on the edge of the padded examination bed, the pads of his fingers sweeping across Jungkook’s forehead in a slow, swirling sort of pattern. “I’m Kim Namjoon, Tae’s nestmate – call me hyung. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you, but I’m sorry it couldn’t be under better circumstances.”

Jungkook wets his lips. “S’okay,” he slurs, finding articulating his words even more difficult than he’d anticipated. “Nice t’meet you too, hyung.”

Namjoon smiles – and oh, dimples – exerting gentle pressure against Jungkook’s temples using the pad of both middle fingers, and just like that the invisible band of iron that’s been wrapped tightly around his head all afternoon vanishes. Jungkook’s breath leaves him in a rush, surprised by just how tense he’s been holding his neck and shoulders without even realising it, feeling everything start to unlock now that the pressure in his head has gone.

“That’s it,” Namjoon coaxes, thumbs sweeping gently down the bridge of his nose and along his cheekbones, middle fingers still maintaining that pressure on Jungkook’s temples. “Nice, deep breaths for me, Kookie.”

It’s getting harder and harder to keep his eyes open (even though he wants to stare into the healer’s warm brown eyes for all eternity, holy fuck), heavy eyelids drooping progressively more with every slow blink. He’s still aware of the pain in his head, but it’s more of a background hum now instead of an all-consuming throb, and relatively easy to ignore in light of his growing exhaustion.

“It’s alright,” the healer soothes. “You’re safe, sweetheart, you can let go. Taehyungie and I will be right here when you wake up. Don’t fight it.”

He doesn’t actually need any reassurance about being in a safe place – he’s genuinely never felt so secure in his entire life. Namjoon’s touch, his gentle smile, his tender gaze, his voice…aigoo, Jungkook almost feels drunk on it. Which is quite possibly down to whatever healer-mojo the man’s using to obliterate the fuck out of Kookie’s migraine, but that’s beside the point. It feels damn good.

After another few moments, he gives up the fight, and finally succumbs to that rush of sleepy-cosy-contentment. Namjoon’s voice is the last thing his conscious mind registers before he slips into a deep, dreamless slumber.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

When Jungkook next opens his eyes, there’s no trace of the debilitating migraine that had plagued him since the early hours of the morning. He still feels tired, but the bone-deep exhaustion has lessened significantly and the fogginess in his brain has receded, leaving him free to think clearly for the first time in what seems like decades.

His eyelids feel a little sticky, and he blinks a few times, trying to get his vision to focus properly. There’s an unfamiliar ceiling above him (covered in…green moss and tiny white flowers, for some reason), and it takes him a moment to recall the events of the afternoon, feeling a twinge of belated embarrassment as he remembers the whole fainting-in-front-of-Tae’s-nestmates thing. It’s only a little twinge, though, because the memory of how gently they’d all cared for him in the aftermath fills his chest with fluttering warmth all over again.

Jungkook turns his head, enjoying how pain-free the movement is now that his migraine has finally gone, eyes scanning his surroundings. Even though his headache has abated, he’s grateful for the dim lighting – his eyes still feel tired and scratchy, despite his recent catnap. There aren’t any ceiling lights (although to be honest, it’s a little hard to tell with all that moss), the spacious area illuminated by a single standing lamp over in the far corner. He seems to be in some sort of examination room, similar in style to a couple of the healer-clinics that Jungkook’s grandparents had taken him to as a kid. There’s modern medical technology dotted around here and there (a wall-mounted computer, an ECG machine, something that might be a blood gas analyser) but there are also multiple bookshelves lined with leather-bound tomes, dozens of little glass jars filled with various herbs and tinctures, and bunches of dried plants strung up in a neat row along the far wall. The room smells faintly sweet - lemon grass, mint, lavender, and a dozen other barely-perceptible scents that soothe his nose - and Jungkook breathes it in deeply, feeling his strength return with every fragrant inhale.

It’s been years since he last went to a healer. Being mostly human, he tends to use the nearby hospital on the rare occasions that he does get sick or needs a check-up. Healer clinics are usually catered more towards Faes and Were-folk and Shifters, basically all non-human races. Not that regular hospitals can’t handle any and all medical emergencies regardless of species, but often the illnesses that affect humans differ greatly to that of other beings, and each species’ unique physiology means that the method of treatment can’t simply be a blanket protocol for everyone. Where regular doctors rely predominantly on science and technology to guide their treatment, healers use these tools in conjunction with their own individual talents; specifically, their ability to connect with the earth and its elements, and their innate understanding of herb lore and natural remedies. In many ways, the art of healing is still something of a mystery to those who don’t possess the gift, but like all forms of natural magic it’s deeply respected by both human and supernatural communities alike.

“Kookie?”

There’s movement from a shadowy corner near the door, and Jungkook’s gaze flickers over to where Taehyung is unfolding himself from his curled-up position in a small leather armchair. The vampire’s eyes meet his gaze, and a relieved smile blooms quickly as he crosses the room in a few brisk strides to perch on the edge of Jungkook’s examination bed, a hand splaying gently over the younger man’s sternum.

“Hey there, sleepyhead,” Tae says, hushed, likely worried that Jungkook’s migraine might still be bothering him. “How are you feeling?”

Jungkook returns the smile tiredly. “Better,” he croaks, his voice a little hoarse from disuse. “So much better. Sorry for passing out on you like that, I didn’t mean to spoil your afternoon.”

Taehyung’s cheery smile falters a little.

“Hey,” the vampire murmurs, gloved hand moving down to squeeze Jungkook’s own. “You don’t ever have to apologise for needing help, beautiful. Happens to the best of us.” Another gentle squeeze, and then that cheery smile returns. “Besides, it gave me a good excuse to introduce you to Namjoonie-hyung; I knew he'd make you feel better.” Tae leans in keenly. “Isn’t he the best?”

Jungkook’s nod of agreement comes without hesitation, because hell yes. Even discounting Namjoon’s powerful healing-touch, the man just has this aura about him that had made Jungkook feel so safe and content, even in the midst of quite possibly the worst migraine of his life. And when the healer had smiled down and him and revealed those freaking dimples, aigoo, it felt as though nothing in the world could hurt him ever again. It was like being hugged without the physical contact, a sense of absolute comfort and security settling over him like a blanket as he basked in Namjoon’s tender gaze. Maybe there’s some magic healing-mojo in his smile too, who knows? Whatever the case, it’s probably the best thing he’s ever experienced.

“Hyung didn’t want to leave you, but he had to go check on the clinic real quick,” Taehyung adds, thumb stroking idly over Kookie’s knuckles. “I’m sure he won’t be long. Would you like something to drink? Or maybe a snack? You’ll need a little sugar to keep your strength up. Unless you feel nauseous? My headaches used to make me so sick back before the Bite; I couldn’t touch anything for hours afterwards. I’m sure Namjoon-hyung’s got something to help settle your stomach if you’re feeling queasy?”

“I’m okay,” Jungkook replies shyly – he really isn’t used to being fussed over like this (not that he’s complaining, it’s a good feeling). “A drink would be great, actually. Thanks, hyung.”

Taehyung’s smile widens. “There’s a vending machine out in the foyer,” he says cheerfully. “Sit tight, I’ll be right back.”

Casual as anything, the vampire leans in to peck a chaste kiss against the younger man’s brow, a gentle press of soft lips against Jungkook’s skin – then he freezes, and pulls back sharply to stare down at the younger man wide-eyed, looking faintly mortified.

“Fuck,” the vampire blurts, visibly flustered. “Sorry. That was…I shouldn’t have…shit.”

It had clearly been a purely instinctive action, a casual gesture of affection that Taehyung likely shares with his nestmates all the time – Werewolf packs are like that too, frequently exchanging nuzzles and platonic little kisses the way humans would a pat on the back. And Moonbin does that to him all the time, especially when he’s sleepy, usually draping himself over Jungkook with a tired whine at the end of a long day, seeking out some snuggle-time. It doesn’t mean anything significant romantically-speaking, but it does suggest that Tae’s grown comfortable enough in his presence (subconsciously or otherwise) to treat him with the same casual affection as he would his own nestmates. And honestly, Jungkook couldn’t be more thrilled.

Oh boy, he’s definitely blushing three different shades of tomato right now, and even with the dim lighting he suspects Taehyung will be able to see it, heightened vampire senses and whatnot.

“No, it’s…it’s fine,” he manages, grateful that his voice doesn’t come out all high and breathy and gushy despite his fluttering heart. “Totally fine. Thank you.”

Oh god, shut up shut up shut-

“Are you sure?” Taehyung checks, but he looks tentatively hopeful at the lack of immediate rejection. “I mean, if I’m moving too fast you gotta let me know, okay? I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, not even a little bit, and I promise I’ll back off if you ever need me to turn it down a notch-”

“Hyung.” Jungkook is smiling again, because fuck, he definitely hasn’t done anything good enough in life to deserve someone so goddamn sweet. “I’m sure. It’s okay.”

Taehyung stares at him for a moment longer, then his eyes crinkle in another beaming smile and he leans in again to press a feather-light kiss to both Jungkook’s cheeks and the tip of his nose for good measure, giving his hand another squeeze.

“Okay,” Tae echoes, hushed, their noses only centimetres apart and ohh fuck, Jungkook’s heart is about ready to beat its way out of his chest.

“So, I never did get a chance to buy you that drink last night,” the vampire remarks, pulling back again just as quickly and hopping up from the bed, his casual cheeriness back in full force (apparently oblivious to Jungkook’s imminent cardiac arrest).  “Might not be as fancy as a cocktail, but the vending machine does a mean grape soda.”

Jungkook breathes a happy, bubbling laugh, wondering if it’s possible for his abdomen to explode with how many warm, fluttering butterflies are building up inside of him. He watches as the vampire practically skips out of the room, waiting until the door has safely closed again before pressing both his hands against his flaming cheeks and dropping his head back against the pillow.

Fuck, he’s smitten. Absolutely, helplessly head over heels for Kim Taehyung.

He fans himself frantically for a minute or so until he feels like the heat in his face has cooled down a little – what will Tae’s nestmates think of him if he turns into a blushing mess every time the vampire touches him? Aigoo. They’re sort of dating now, he needs to be less reactive to things like this.

Slowly pushing himself upright on the padded examination bed, he swings his legs over the side and grunts as a wave of dizziness hits him, closing his eyes briefly.

The door opens again at that precise moment, and he doesn’t have time to wipe the grimace off his face in time – he hears Taehyung swearing softly, and the sound of hurried footsteps as the vampire rushes back over to the bedside to cup his cheek gently.

“Kookie? What is it, what’s wrong? Does something hurt?”

Jungkook shakes his head, and manages a mostly-genuine smile, opening his eyes again as the room slowly stops spinning.

“Just a little dizzy,” he reassures. “M’okay. Sat up too quickly.”

Taehyung gives a soft little hum of concern, his worried gaze scanning Jungkook’s face for a few moments more, clearly looking for signs of discomfort. Apparently finding none, the vampire visibly relaxes again, gloved fingers dropping from Jungkook’s cheek to rest on his thigh.

“Here,” Taehyung presses a cold can of soda into his palm, “drink this. You’re probably a little dehydrated after your nap.”

With a murmur of thanks and a shy, grateful smile, Jungkook pops open the tab and takes a gulp of the sweet, ice-cold beverage, feeling himself wake up a little more right from the first sip.

“How long was I out?” he asks after a moment, glancing around in the hopes of finding a clock. No such luck, but then given that 90% of the clinic’s patients likely possess heightened hearing abilities, having something constantly ticking in the background during a healing session probably wouldn’t be a good idea.

Tae pulls up a chair beside him and plops down into it. “Just over an hour, give or take. Joon-hyung hoped you might sleep for longer, but he said the settling charm sometimes only lasts for a little while, especially if your metabolism’s fast. It’s only just gone seven.”

Seven? Aigoo, has it really been that long since he passed out? No wonder his head’s feeling so much better.

Jungkook’s never been good at napping outside of his own apartment (he never feels safe enough to let his guard down unless he’s at home), with the exception of Yugyeom’s pack-house. Sometimes his best friend drags him to the den between their final class of the day and their evening dance practice just so the werewolf can cuddle Jungkook into a sleepy semi-doze and force him to rest for an hour or two. He usually protests for all of ten seconds (the temptation to work a couple of overtime hours at Euphoria is always nagging at him, especially towards the end of the month when rent’s almost due) before his biological need for tactile comfort eventually outweighs everything else and he lets himself be snuggled. But even then, he never truly sleeps – at least not deeply. There’s always a part of him that’s aware of what’s going on, his waking consciousness on a hair-trigger, eyes opening at the slightest of sounds from elsewhere in the house.

So to hear that he’d been fully dead to the world for a solid hour in a completely unfamiliar environment? That’s definitely something.

“I’m sorry,” he apologises, realising with a twinge of guilt just how much of a bother he’s been to everyone after keeling over back at Euphoia. “You really didn’t have to wait for me all this time, hyung.”

“I wanted to,” Tae murmurs, squeezing his hand again. “I didn’t like the thought of you waking up in a strange place all on your own.”

“But you needed to rest, too,” Jungkook insists softly, setting his drink aside and wrapping his fingers around Tae’s so that he’s holding the vampire’s gloved hand between both his own. “You said you had a headache back at the café.”

Taehyung’s smile falters again, his gaze flitting down to their conjoined hands, and Jungkook sees the elder’s throat move as he swallows.

“About that…” The vampire takes a slow, steeling sort of breath as he glances up again, something hesitant in his gaze. “It wasn’t really my headache I was feeling, Kookie. It was yours.”

Jungkook blinks at him uncomprehendingly.

“I didn’t realise it could happen just like that,” Tae ploughs on, his words coming out in a hurry now. “At least not so soon. That isn’t how it happened for me when I met Jiminie, it took weeks for us to form a transference bond, and even then it wasn’t half as strong. Namjoon-hyung says it might have something to do with your bunny hybrid genes, and the condition I was in when I first met you – my emotions weren’t exactly…guarded. Hyung thinks I might’ve subconsciously initiated the bond when you were helping me feed, and I guess you were receptive so it just kept growing every time we saw each other.” Tae glances down at his gloved hands again. “That’s why I’ve been finding it so hard to keep a rein on my emotions when I’m around you; my instincts kept telling me to just share everything, even when my brain couldn’t figure out why.”

Ah. Well, that at least that answers the all the niggling questions that have been flitting around at the back of his mind ever since Moonbin first made an offhand comment about his scent being different. Binnie knows him best, and his nose is never wrong, Jungkook really should’ve trusted the were-cat’s senses from the start.

“A transference bond,” Jungkook echoes, feeling his brain getting very firmly stuck on that one very big word. “So we…we’re bonded?”

Taehyung winces and looks up at him again. “It’s a lot to take in, I know. I’m sorry, Kook, I never meant for it to happen like this. I swear I had no idea the bond even existed until Joonie-hyung checked me over this afternoon. He…he has a way of sensing these kinda things, I guess. And I think Jin-hyung’s known right from the start, because he’s the one who made me these gloves, but he never really told me why or said anything about a bond. I knew something was happening between us because your scent seemed a little different today, but I thought it was just me being stupidly in love with you and feeling a connection that wasn’t really there.”

Stupidly in love.

In love.

Love.

Oh.

Jungkook temporarily forgets how to breathe. Tae had said it so casually, like it was obvious, like it’s normal for someone to fall in love with him. But that’s not how things usually work, in Jungkook’s experience. A profession of love from someone he’s interested in is…entirely unexpected.

For real, this kind of thing just doesn’t happen to him, like, ever. He never gets the guy, he definitely never gets someone as beautiful and gentle and kind and perfect as Kim Taehyung. The whole transference bond thing suddenly seems to pale in comparison to Tae’s honest confession, and if Jungkook was a braver man he’d pluck up the courage to kiss the vampire right here and now.

“If it’s too much, I’ll…I can go,” Taehyung tells him, looking down at his lap; subdued, resigned even. “Give you time to think about it. And if you want to call it off before things go any further and just stay friends, I’ll understand. I just…I need to see you happy, Kook. That’s all I want.”

Aigoo, this man. This impossibly sweet man will definitely be the death of him; Jungkook’s chest feels so swollen he swears his heart’s about to pop.

He swallows to clear his throat, wets his lips, and takes a steadying breath.

“Well, I’m kinda stupidly in love with you, too,” he confesses, in a voice that only wavers a little bit (thank fuck), feeling his cheeks bloom with heat when Taehyung’s gaze immediately snaps up to look at him, wide-eyed. “Just…just FYI.”

Taehyung stares at him, relief and delight welling up in his expression for a split second before he surges forwards to wrap his arms around Kookie in a tight embrace. A breathless laugh is pushed from Jungkook’s throat as he’s cosily squished against the vampire’s chest, his own arms coming up to return the hug as he closes his eyes.

Taehyung smells so good, and his cashmere sweater is the perfect sort of material to nuzzle into. So he does just that, with a happy sigh and a dopey smile.

Fuck yeah, he could get used to this.

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

“Look up for me,” Namjoon coaxes, and Jungkook tries not to blink as the healer flashes a penlight in his eyes. “Perfect. Looks like your photosensitivity’s improved. Any numbness or tingling in your facial muscles?”

Jungkook shakes his head, then stills obligingly as the healer’s large hands come up to cradle his face, thumbs gently sweeping over the bridge of his nose and along his cheekbones. It’s almost impossible to keep his eyelids from fluttering shut at the soothing touch, but he fights the urge as much as he can, seeing Namjoon’s lips curl up in a fond little smile at his efforts.

“Still feeling sleepy?” the healer guesses, middle finger tips pressing against Jungkook’s temples, applying gentle pressure.

“Mm,” Kookie manages with a slow blink, about ready to doze off right where he’s sitting.

“You’ve had a rough afternoon, bud. You’ll need to take it easy for the next couple of days,” Namjoon cautions kindly, lowering his hands and leaning back in the chair at the bedside – he’s adjusted the height so that it’s level with the examination bed, which makes him seem even bigger than before. “I eased the muscle tension and put a temporary block on your primary pain receptors to help you sleep off the migraine, but I’m afraid there isn’t a miracle cure to fatigue. I’d recommend plenty of rest and hydration, two of the best self-help remedies out there. And you might want to consider taking the day off tomorrow.”

A day off sounds wonderful, but Jungkook’s university schedule is always packed on a Monday, and the thought of having multiple different classes to catch up on is already filling him with dread. He struggles with his business studies course enough already, he can’t risk missing out on the professors’ explanation behind the module materials, especially with the first wave of exams only a month away. It’s something he’s trying very hard not to think about too much, because it tends to make him feel physically sick when he lets himself dwell on academic things. If he had it his way, he’d quit school and take up art and dancing full-time as a dual degree, but he’s pretty sure his parents would never speak to him again if he threw away his future business career for the sake of his hobbies, so he’s stuck at university for another three years at least. Which, again, he tries very hard not to think about.

Namjoon apparently sees the conflict in his expression, because the healer gives his knee a gentle squeeze, his gaze full of understanding.

“I’m not saying you have to stay home,” the healer reassures. “It’s your choice, Jungkook-ah. But I’ll write you the sicknote all the same. Maybe see how you’re feeling in the morning and go from there, okay?”

Jungkook nods. He doesn’t want to make any he promises that he won’t be able to keep – he just can’t skip a full day of classes, no matter how shitty he feels. It isn’t worth the stress of trying to catch up with the rest of his peers later down the line.

Namjoon’s fingers curl gently around his wrist, settling over his pulse-point as the healer glances down at his watch. “Tell me, how often do you get headaches?”

“Like, little ones?” the youth hedges. “A few times a week, I guess.”

“And how about migraines?”

Every Sunday, Jungkook muses wryly. Typically he’ll go home after his Saturday nightshift with a niggling ache and wake up feeling like death, but he’s always been able to push through it and pull off his afternoon shift at Euphoria without any major issues. He’ll crawl into bed as soon as the day’s over and sleep for a solid ten hours, and by Monday he’s usually only feeling mildly shitty.

“Not as often,” he replies vaguely. “And they’ve never been as bad as this before. The whole passing out thing, that’s definitely new. I don’t know what made today so different…”

Namjoon sighs softly, gently taking Jungkook’s other hand and turning them both over so that they’re resting palm-up on his thighs. The healer reaches over to pull a few green leaves off the blooming wall-crawler near the bed, cupping them in his hands and blowing on them before laying them across Jungkook’s palms, covering them with his own.

“I see a lot of tired people walk through my door,” the healer comments quietly, keeping his gaze focused on their joined hands. “Sickness and injury take a toll on the body; cure the sickness, the fatigue will dissipate. But I can’t fix circumstantial exhaustion – I can only caution you that functioning on minimal sleep for weeks or months at a time is dangerous. What happened today was your body letting you know that it’s running on fumes.”

The leaves feel hot against his skin, the room suddenly smelling sweeter and faintly like eucalyptus. The residual stiffness in Jungkook’s tired joints eases, heat trickling down from his shoulders and elbows, flowing into his palms – it’s a weird sensation, but oddly calming. Namjoon glances up again after a moment to look at him, his expression serious but still full of that same gentle warmth, the kind that makes Jungkook want to melt into a puddle of contented goo.

“You need to start prioritising sleep, Jungkookie,” Namjoon tells him. “Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences – on your heart, your metabolism, your immune system, your higher brain functions…there’s only so much your body can tolerate. TaeTae’s been telling me you’ve got a lot on your plate at the moment between two part-time jobs and your studies; I think maybe you need to consider cutting down your working hours, bud. Especially at night. The quickest way to help your body recover is to establish a consistent sleeping schedule, and you can’t do that if you’re working consecutive dayshifts and nightshits every weekend.”

Jungkook bites his lip and averts his gaze. Boy, would he love to give up those awful weekend nights at the convenience store and sleep in late, but there’s no way he’d be able to work enough hours at Euphoria to make up for that second wage slip. The cost of his half of the monthly rent and food and utilities is barely covered as it is, and the only alternative to working nightshifts is to give up his Wednesday afternoon art class or quit the dance troop and pick up extra shifts after school at Euphoria which…no. That’s definitely a no. They're the only things that keep him sane during the semester, he'll lose all motivation for his studies without those two hobbies to fall back on.

“I know it’s a lot to think about,” Namjoon murmurs, and Jungkook watches as the healer lets go of his hands and removes the leaves from his palms – the mint green has turned a murky brown, and Jungkook gets the distinct impression that it isn't a good sign. “But it’s important that you start putting yourself first, Kookie. If it’s a financial issue, you don't need to worry about that – it’ll be taken care of, I promise. Just focus on your health for the time being, okay? Everything will work out.”

Jungkook stares at him, running that last part over in his mind, wondering if he’s misunderstood something. Surely Namjoon can’t be offering to…but he barely even knows Jungkook.

“You’re important to Taehyungie,” the healer tells him, reaching out to gently tilt his chin up, that gentle smile returning. “Which means you’re important to me. You’re under my protection now, little one. I won’t directly interfere in your affairs without your permission, but I’d like to help you out. Tell me honestly, if finances weren’t a concern for you, would you quit your night job?”

Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Jungkook nods slowly, willing himself not to do anything embarrassing like burst into tears in front of Taehyung’s nestmate. He doesn’t like being a burden to people, and Namjoon seems so worried about him, and it’s making him feel ten different kinds of guilty. But at the same time it feels as though a fifty-kilo weight has been lifted from his shoulders, because a part of him knows how desperately he needs help but he’s always been too damn stubborn to ask for it, too afraid of burdening the people he cares about with his own struggles. But sometimes it all feels so big and overwhelming that he’s drowning in it, and the prospect of having even a small part of that removed from his long list of responsibilities is just…liberating.

Ten minutes ago, when Namjoon had asked Tae to step out for a little while to give them some privacy, Jungkook had never anticipated that they’d end up talking about finances. The healer had taken a few minutes to check that he fully understood the implications of his new bond with Taehyung (which was super sweet, and also a welcome reassurance that the nest leader was 100% okay with Jungkook becoming part of his family), and Jungkook had assumed that after a quick health check he’d be heading home. But now he’s talking about things that he’s never spoken to anyone about, not even Yugyeom. Finances have always seemed like such a private thing, and other than Binnie (who only knows because he’s in the same dire straits as Jungkook), none of his friends are aware of his situation.

And he’d been okay with doing it alone, he’d been coping – or so he’d thought. But passing out like that earlier today…the idea of that maybe happening again scares him, like really scares him. And now he doesn’t know what to do. Seeking financial aid from other people doesn’t feel right, but Namjoon’s the one who offered – insisted, really – so wouldn’t it be rude to say no? He doesn’t want to refuse the offer and offend Tae’s nestmate, but he doesn’t want to accept something that he has no hope of being able to pay back in the immediate future. Aigoo, what’s he supposed to do, this is exactly the kind of internal crisis he dreads the most…

Namjoon’s hand settles on his shoulder, squeezing gently. “Don't overthink it, kiddo. Just leave it with me, I’ll take care of everything.”

Fuck, he’s going to cry, he’s going to-

“Is it alright if I hug you?”

Another quick nod, and then he’s being wrapped up in a warm embrace, a hand splaying over the back of his head to tuck it down against Namjoon’s shoulder. Jungkook exhales a shaky sigh, closing his eyes against the sting of tears. So much for making a good impression. All he ever seems to do around Tae’s nestmates is blush, cry, keel over and almost get hit by a car. No wonder they think he needs help.

“You’re exhausted, little one,” Namjoon murmurs after a few minutes, stroking his hair a little – and ohh, that feels nice. “Let me drive you home. We can talk about this again when you’re feeling better.”

There’s a quiet tap on the door, and Namjoon pulls back, moving to perch on the edge of the bed beside Jungkook, keeping an arm wrapped around the youth’s shoulders. Kookie’s tears have dried up, but he’s feeling even more drained than before (both physically and emotionally), so he leans into the healer’s solid form tiredly.

“It’s alright, Tae, you can come in.”

The younger vampire pokes his head into the room, gaze immediately flitting towards Jungkook, the look of concern smoothing over into a pleased smile when he sees his bondmate tucked up against Namjoon’s side.

“Sorry to interrupt,” he says, closing the door behind him, Jungkook’s backpack slung over one of his shoulders. “Kookie’s phone kept buzzing every thirty seconds so I thought I’d better check to make sure if it wasn’t an emergency or something. And, uh, you’ve got like 49 missed calls and a helluva lot of messages from someone called ‘Bin’, who seems to be about ready to call the police to file a missing person’s report. I figured maybe you need to let him know that you haven’t been kidnapped.”

Jungkook’s heart drops into his stomach; he knew there was something important he’d forgotten to do.

Oh shit. Moonbin.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Moonbin is sulking.

Not that Jungkook can blame him – he knows how much he’d scared the werecat today by going MIA for so long and totally failing to reply to any of Moonbin’s panicked texts.

“I called Sanha, I called Rocky, I messaged everyone on the dance team,” his roommate had ranted to him over the phone as he sat in the back of Namjoon’s car, wincing guiltily at the residual distress in Binnie’s voice. “Nobody knew where you were! Sanha said you hadn’t looked too good at work, and he saw you leaving early with some customers, so I figured hey, that’s nice, maybe someone was giving you a ride back to the apartment…but then you never came home, hyung, and I started to freak out. Like, what if you’d been kidnapped or something?”

“Bin, I’m fine, I’m okay-” Jungkook had tried to interject reassuringly, but that had gone down like a lead balloon.

“You literally just told me you fainted! That’s not okay! Healthy people don’t pass out at work, hyung!”

Jungkook had spied both Taehyung and Namjoon hiding a smile or two during Moonbin’s spiel, and he kinda got the impression that they approved of the werecat’s reaction. Which is great (because he loves Binnie like the younger brother he never had, and Jungkook wants his new hyungs to like him too), but it’s also super embarrassing; having his boyfriend and his new vampire-guardian-angel-who-he-desperately-wants-to-impress hearing him being scolded by a dongsaeng over the phone doesn’t exactly do much to improve his image.

Still, he’d deserved it. Moonbin had every right to be angry and upset and worried, so Jungkook had borne the scolding with as much dignity as he could muster (despite his red cheeks).

He’d tried to calm his roommate down as best he could during the short ride home, but Binnie’s fretful lecturing hadn’t ceased until Kookie had actually made it back to their apartment complex. The cat had taken one look at his face (pale and haggard, if what Kookie had seen in the clinic’s bathroom mirror still held true) and abruptly swept him up into a tight embrace, his previous annoyance vanishing in a split second.

Apparently determining that he was in good hands, Taehyung and Namjoon had waved goodbye over Moonbin’s shoulder (Tae blowing kisses to him out of the window for good measure) and driven off, leaving him to Binnie’s tender mercies. The werecat had barely spared them a second glance as he ushered Jungkook inside, brow still wrinkled in concern.

“Does anything hurt? Have you eaten yet? Aigoo, you’re so pale, maybe you should sit down…”

It had taken a lot of persuading to convince the younger man that he was truly alright (and feeling a whole lot better than he had been in a while, actually), but his roommate still hadn’t been happy when Jungkook finally revealed the specific details about the whole passing-out-at-Euphoria thing. He’d fretted and fussed for a bit, stubbornly insisting that Jungkook keep the bathroom door open while he showered just in case he got dizzy again, but by the time they were both ready for bed twenty minutes later, the werecat finally seemed content that Kookie wasn’t about to keel over and die.

And that’s when the sulking had started.

“You always push yourself too hard,” the cat gripes, dragging his single bed over from the far side of the room to nudge it up against Kookie’s to make it a double, as they often do on nights when one or both of them is craving tactile comfort. “And I know we’ve got bills to pay, but we could’ve worked something out, hyung. I’ve been saying for months that one day it’d all catch up to you.”

Jungkook’s only just finished scrolling through the last of his friends’ worried text messages, relieved that he doesn’t need to formulate any replies tonight; Binnie had handled that for him while he was in the shower, bless his heart, so everyone at least knows that he’s safe and well. But he definitely owes them all a proper apology tomorrow, once his brain’s able to form a coherent sentence again. Right now he’s way too tired.

His roommate turns off the bedside lamp and slips under the blankets, scooting over to snuggle up behind Jungkook and wrap his arms and legs around the bunny like an octopus. Kookie’s more than happy to be the little spoon after the mildly traumatic day that he’s had; cuddles always make everything feel better, and Binnie happens to give the best hugs, even when he’s miffed.

“Just…just don’t do that again, okay?” Moonbin murmurs after half a minute of sulky silence, the words muffled against Jungkook’s shoulder. “You really scared me, man.”

Jungkook squeezes the arm that’s wrapped around his torso, feeling his guilt resurface a little at the tiny wobble in the cat’s voice.

“I’m sorry,” he apologises for the hundredth time that evening, hugging Moonbin’s arm against his chest. “Everything just happened so fast, and my head hurt so bad, dude, it was like ten times worse than my usual Sunday migraines. I couldn’t even open my eyes by the time we got to the clinic. I’ve never felt pain like that before, it…I really hope it doesn’t happen again.”

Moonbin hugs him tighter with a quite noise of concern, nuzzling against the back of his neck. “You gotta stop working nightshifts, hyung,” the cat beseeches softly. “They’re making you sick.”

A week ago, Jungkook would’ve dismissed the statement as nothing more than Binnie’s usual fussing, but after his little chat with Namjoon back at the clinic he isn’t so sure if it’s an exaggeration any more. Chronic sleep deprivation is dangerous. If today’s migraine and fainting episode were just the initial symptoms of prolonged fatigue, he definitely doesn’t want to experience the later stages.

He sighs, closing his tired, itchy eyelids.

“I know, bud,” he murmurs. “I’m…I’ve already decided to hand in my notice at the store later this week.”

“Oh my god, really?” Moonbin sounds startled but delighted. “You mean it?”

Jungkook nods, lips twitching at the cat’s enthusiasm. “I’m thinking of getting a short-term loan,” he explains, because saying ‘my new boyfriend’s overprotective nestmate wants to give me money’ would be far more difficult to explain. “You’re right, the nightshifts aren’t working out for me. Namjoon-hyung…the healer I spoke to recommended I try to keep to a more consistent sleeping pattern.”

Moonbin makes a happy noise, pressing a kiss to Jungkook’s shoulder. “Finally. I swear JinJin-hyung was almost ready to stage an intervention.”

Now that does come as a surprise. As far as pack-leaders go, Park Jinwoo’s probably the most laidback person he’s ever met; as playful and carefree as they come (but then you’d have to be if you were married to a hyperactive Fae like Myungjun), and although he’s always quick to offer a word of advice or a helping hand, he just doesn’t seem like the intervention-instigating type. He’s so…small and soft. Not that Jungkook would ever say that to JinJin’s face, of course, because he has a hell of a lot of respect for the dog hybrid – it takes a special type of person to form close bonds with four different species and bring them all together to coexist as one pack. It’s really no surprise that Binnie was smitten from the moment Eunwoo first took him home to spend the night last month; the only real wonder is why the werecat hasn’t moved in already, although Jungkook half suspects it’s because his sweet-natured roommate is an overprotective worrywart who can’t bear to leave Jungkook on his own.

And oh, there it is again, his friendly neighbourhood guilty conscience.

Honestly though, he hadn’t even realised that JinJin knew about his unhealthy sleep/work balance. Is it really that obvious to everyone else? Or has Binnie been confiding in his new pack-leader more than Jungkook had initially thought?

“You smell different,” Moonbin comments drowsily, pressing his nose against the older man’s nape. “Not bad-different, just…different. I think your bond’s settling.”

“Mm,” Jungkook acknowledge, a sleepy hum that he hopes comes across as casual and unaffected, despite the warm flutter of lovey-dovey butterflies in his stomach when he recalls his earlier conversation with Taehyung.

“Those two guys who dropped you off,” Moonbin hedges, “…they’re your new sugar daddies, right?”

Jungkook feels heat immediately pool in his cheeks. “Binnie!”

“Hah, I knew it! Which one are you bonded to?” the werecat presses, a knowing grin in his voice. “C’mon, hyung, you’ve got his scent all over you. Was it the hunky driver or the cutie in the passenger seat? Either way, nice one.”

“Oh my god.” Jungkook makes a half-assed attempt to reach behind him and smack Binnie’s thigh. “You’re the worst, dude. I’m telling Eunwoo.”

“He’ll want to hear all about your new hyungs, too,” Moonbin rebuts, unaffected. “Also I’m like ninety-nine percent sure he’ll know them personally – the Seoul vampire community isn’t exactly huge, and I swear Dongminnie knows everyone. So if you won’t tell me, I’ll just get the inside scoop from him. I need to make sure they’re good enough for you.”

Jungkook’s a little touched. Or at least he would be if he wasn’t already dreading the well-meaning snooping that’s apparently going to go down if he doesn’t arrange for Binnie to meet up with Tae and the others ASAP. Werecats are protective like that, and with the full moon only a few days away, he really should’ve anticipated this happening.

“They’re the best,” he reassures, and okay yeah, maybe his voice just went a little bit gushy – he’ll blame it on the exhaustion. “You’re gonna love them, I promise”

“Good.” Moonbin kisses his shoulder again and snuggles closer. “Cause if they break your heart, I’ll give ‘em hell.”

Smiling more genuinely this time, Jungkook reaches back to pat the werecat’s hip. “Thanks, Binnie.”

They lapse into silence after that, and Jungkook’s exhaustion quickly catches up to him again, weighing down his limbs and making it all too easy for his mind to wander towards dreamland. Just as he can feel himself starting to drift, Moonbin clears his throat softly behind him.

“Um,” the cat murmurs, disconcertingly nervous all of a sudden. “So I probably should’ve said something sooner, but, uh…JB-hyung’s coming over in the morning for a ‘talk’.”

Jungkook winces, and even though Binnie can’t see him, the werecat can probably feel the way he tenses up a little at the news.

“Look, I’m sorry for getting him involved,” his roommate apologises quickly, smushing his face between Jungkook’s shoulders again. “I thought maybe you’d gone to see Yugyeom-hyung and the others, I was only messaging him to check…I didn’t mean to make it sound like you’d gone missing or anything. Even though technically you had.

That adorably sulky tone is back again, and Jungkook sighs, patting Moonbin’s forearm as it hugs him tighter.

“Wasn’t your fault,” he mumbles sleepily. “You were worried about me. Probably would’ve done the same thing if you suddenly disappeared on me. Does everyone know? The whole pack, I mean.”

“Maybe? I mean, JB-hyung was getting ready to organise a search party before I gave the all-clear, sooo…yeah. I’d say it’s a definite possibility.” Moonbin sighs against the back of his neck. “He asked me where you’d been, and you know I suck at making up excuses on the spot, so I kinda just…mentioned the whole Sunday migraine thing you’ve been going through these past couple of months. I didn’t realise you hadn’t actually told him about those yet – does that mean Gyeomie-hyung doesn’t know, either? Anyway, he…I don’t think he’s too happy about it, hyung.”

Jungkook has a fleeting urge to climb out of the window in his pyjamas and make a run for it, but that would require a lot more energy than he’s willing to expend right now. And also it’d be maybe a little bit overdramatic – JB’s a little scary when he’s mad, but he does care about Jungkook, and he’s always known that one day the Alpha would find out about his frequent headaches and chronic exhaustion. This ‘talk’ has been looming on the horizon for a while now.

Doesn’t stop him from dreading it, though.

With running away no longer a viable option, he settles for burying his face in the pillow with an aggrieved whine instead, inwardly cursing past-Jungkook’s stupidity. If he’d just sent Binnie a text before he left Euphoria saying he’d be late coming home, none of this fuss would’ve happened and there wouldn’t be any need for a ‘talk’ with JB. Jungkook usually loves it when the Alpha drops by unexpectedly before school (the werewolf’s fond grin and warm hugs are the best kind of pick-me-up on a Monday morning), but when he’s in trouble? That’s a different story. Jaebum only has to look at him and say “Jungkook-ah” in that particular tone of voice, and he’s hit by the worst kind of bad-guilty-squirmy feelings ever. Jungkook hates disappointing the Alpha or causing a fuss, and he has a feeling he managed to achieve both quite spectacularly today, so that doesn’t bode well for their conversation tomorrow.

Moonbin gives his chest a few sympathetic pats. “He’ll be here just before eight.”

“He’s gonna drive us to school?” Jungkook guesses. It isn’t unusual for the Alpha to give them a ride to the university once or twice a week, when his work commitments allow, even though they’ve tried to reassure the werewolf that they’re perfectly capable of walking.

“Uh, he’s gonna drive you to school,” Binnie corrects faux-casually. “I promised Rocky and Sanha I’d meet them off the bus, soo…”

“Oh, I see how it is.” Jungkook pinches the cat’s forearm gently, not hard enough to actually hurt. “Traitor.”

“Shh,” Moonbin hushes, snuggling up closer against his back and pointedly ignoring his comment. “It’s late, hyung. We should sleep.”

Jungkook huffs a quiet laugh, but allows himself to be used as a human teddy-bear and settles back into the hug with a sigh, letting the nervous anticipation for tomorrow’s conversation with JB slip away. He’s too tired to fret over it tonight; that’s a problem for future Jungkook.

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

Future Jungkook is not ready.

His palms feel sweaty and there’s a nervous sort of churning in the pit of his stomach as he pulls the door to the apartment building closed behind him, wondering if his altered scent will be immediately noticeable to the Alpha. Maybe if he avoids direct physical contact? Which is going to be hard, because JB’s always so generous when it comes to tactile affection, but Jungkook’s just going to have to suck it up and resist the urge to snuggle for the duration of their conversation.

“Morning, hyung!” Moonbin chirps as he jogs ahead of Jungkook, hopping over the gate with his usual effortless agility (aigoo, how is he always so energetic at this hour?) and skipping over to the silver car that’s parked outside their apartment complex.

Jaebum grins warmly, rolling down the window so that he can lean out and pull Binnie closer once the werecat draws near.

“Hey, kitten.” The Alpha cups a hand over the back of Moonbin’s neck gently and tugs him down a little, bumping his nose against the cat’s cheek in a greeting nuzzle. “You sure I can’t offer you a ride? Gyeomie and BamBam wheedled Mark into driving them to school in the Jag, so there’s plenty of room for one more.”

“I’m okay, but thanks anyway.” Moonbin adjusts the straps of his backpack and glances down at his watch. “I gotta go meet Rocky and Sanha in ten.”

“Mm,” Jaebum hums, a smile twitching at his lips like he knows an excuse when he hears one. The Alpha leans across to the passenger seat of the car briefly before re-emerging with a brown paper bag, passing it to the werecat. “Here, kid – Jinyoungie packed you a breakfast bagel and some chocolate milk.”

Moonbin’s expression brightens (as it invariably does when someone presents him with food), and he gives JB a quick hug of gratitude as he takes the bag.

“Cool, thanks hyung! I’ll see you at dance practice.”

Jungkook carefully closes the gate behind him, and takes his time heading over to the car. He’s not dragging his feet, but he can’t deny that he’s maybe trying to delay his inevitable scolding for as long as possible, even if Jaebum seems to be in a cheerful mood. Moonbin gives him a tight hug as they pass each other (he doesn’t whisper ‘good luck’, but Jungkook hears it all the same), and with a parting wave to JB the youth darts off down the road, paper bag clutched to his chest.

“Have fun at school!” Jaebum hollers cheerfully after the werecat, and pauses for a moment until Binnie is a suitable distance away before leaning back in his seat, his gaze settling on Jungkook. “Morning, cub.”

Before he has a chance to remember that he’s supposed to be avoiding skin contact, Jaebum’s palm is cupping his jawline and the side of his neck, and Jungkook’s leaning into the warm touch instinctively, the part-hybrid side of his physiology immediately comforted by the tactile contact.

JB’s nostrils flare briefly, but his only visible reaction is a singular arched eyebrow.

“Someone’s had a busy weekend, I see,” the Alpha drawls, and Jungkook knows the secret’s out – JB’s definitely noticed his altered scent.

He fiddles with the shoulder-strap of his bag, toes curling inside his new Timberlands as he wishes fervently that he were anywhere else but here. Despite sleeping relatively well last night, he still feels physically and emotionally drained today after the events of the weekend, and if the Alpha gets cross with him during their conversation, there’s a good chance Jungkook’s going to burst into tears. Which won’t be much fun for anybody involved.

Jaebum indicates the passenger seat with a casual tilt of his head.

“Hop in, bunny boy,” the Alpha invites, unnervingly calm. “You’ve got, what, at least an hour until your first class starts?” At Jungkook’s answering nod, he smiles. “Great. Let’s go for a drive.”

Welp. He’s dead.

Jungkook climbs into the car beside JB and fastens his seatbelt, leaning down to set his schoolbag between his feet. When he sits back again, there’s a brown paper bag hovering right by his face.

“Breakfast,” Jaebum tells him, starting up the engine as soon as Kookie’s taken the bag from him. “Eat up, pup, you’re way too skinny.”

That’s another thing the Alpha and his pack seem to do whenever they’re with Jungkook – feed him. If Mark or Jinyoung aren’t ‘accidentally’ making too much stew and dropping off the ‘leftovers’ at the apartment (more frequently at the end of the month, when rent’s due and their kitchen is pretty barren), then Jackson or JB or one of the others will just randomly thrust food at him with the expectation that he’ll eat it. Which, naturally, he always does – he’s not dumb enough to reject free food, and his fast metabolism means that he’s almost always hungry. And he’s not exactly skin and bones, but he’s pretty slender compared to the average werewolf physique (standing next to Yugyeom or Jackson, he looks pretty tiny), so he can understand their desire to ‘feed him up’, so to speak.

Having said that, this morning he and Binnie had actually eaten a pretty hearty breakfast, thanks to all the groceries Tae’s nestmates had snuck into their kitchen on Saturday, but that still doesn’t mean he’s going to turn down one of Jinyoung’s breakfast bagels.

“So,” the Alpha begins after a few minutes, once Kookie’s already two-thirds of the way through his food, “you passed out at work yesterday.”

Still chewing his mouthful, Jungkook’s spared the pressure of giving an immediate verbal answer, nodding slowly as he hums the affirmative.

“Binnie mentioned you’ve been having a lot of headaches recently,” JB continues neutrally, tapping his index fingers against the steering wheel as they slow to a halt behind a lane of traffic. “Is that what happened yesterday afternoon?”

“Mm,” Jungkook confirms, shoving the last of his bagel in his mouth and looking anywhere but at Jaebum.

The Alpha sighs softly, and a moment of silence passes between the two of them before JB reaches over to settle a hand on his knee, squeezing gently.

“Why didn’t you tell me, cub?” the werewolf murmurs, and there it is; that low, sombre tone of disappoint that Kookie’s been dreading. “I know I’m not technically your Alpha and you’re not bound to me in any physical way, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still one of my cubs. I hadn’t previously intervened with your work schedule because you’d told Gyeomie it was only temporary and you’d promised me you were coping, but now I hear you’ve been getting headaches multiple times a week since the start of the semester? And you hadn’t gone to see a healer about it until someone else took you there yesterday?”

Jungkook takes a sip of his smoothie to help push the last bite of food past the lump that’s growing in his throat.

“It wasn’t always so bad,” he tries to explain, but his voice sounds unconvincing even to his own ears. “The migraines only really started bothering me this past month.”

“Then you should’ve come to me a month ago, Jungkook-ah,” Jaebum insists, his tone still controlled but with a slightly firmer edge now.

The youth winces. “I’m sorry,” he murmurs. “I didn’t think it was anything serious, I thought it’d just go away on its own. And I didn’t wanna worry you about something so small.”

“I worry when Youngjae gets a papercut,” the wolf counters. “I’m his Alpha, kiddo, worrying is my job. I don’t need you sugar-coating the truth for my sake, okay? I’d much rather you were honest with me about your feelings, even if that means calling me to drive you to the emergency clinic at two in the morning next time you’re hit with a migraine. I want to be there when you need me, Kook.”

Blinking hard, his eyes stinging traitorously, Jungkook takes another sip of his drink in an effort to swallow back the brimming emotions. He doesn’t want to cry – he’s done enough of that recently, it’s always so exhausting.

“You know I don’t like scolding you, cub,” Jaebum sighs, and the hand on his knee moves up to settle over his nape instead, a comforting weight. “You’re special to me, and I hate seeing you upset. But if you were truly mine, we’d be having a very different conversation right now, as I’m sure you’re aware. But if being a big-bad-Alpha makes you think twice about keeping secrets from me, then we’ll keep having these little talks as often as we need to. Understood?”

Jungkook gives a jerking little nod, dashing at his watery eyes with the sleeve of his hoodie. He hears Jaebum sigh again, and a moment later they’re turning into the parking lot of a cinema complex, the Alpha pulling up in the first available space they come across and killing the engine.

“Okay, talk over.” JB abruptly unfastens his seatbelt and turns towards him, opening his arms invitingly. “C’mere, bunny.”

He falls into the embrace gratefully, smushing his face against the Alpha’s broad chest and letting his lingering guilt and distress ebb away with every shaky exhale. Jaebum’s scent is comfortingly familiar (it’s the same one Yugyeom carries, just without the maknae’s almond sweetness layered over it), and he breathes it in deeply, feeling himself beginning to relax as he’s held close and comforted.

“On the topic of secrets,” the Alpha murmurs, a slight smile in his voice, fingers still carding slowly through Jungkook’s hair. “Are you planning on telling me about your mystery bondmate, or do I need to start interrogating your friends?”

Jungkook pulls a face against Jaebum’s hoodie, then sighs resignedly. He had been expecting this line of questioning, after all. A werewolf as perceptive as Jaebum would never miss something so obvious.

“It’s an unusual story,” he forewarns the Alpha, keeping his face hidden against the man’s chest so that Jaebum can’t see his blush. “It all started Saturday morning, on my way home after my nightshift…”

 

 

 

 

 


 

For your own viewing pleasure (because this soft boy gives me so many FEELS), here's a 4 minute compilation video of Moonbin being a clingy/needy cutiepie.

You're welcome. ;D

 

Chapter Text

 

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Jungkook usually hates Mondays.

It’s not that his class schedule is any worse than the rest of the week, but he’s generally still suffering from that post-nightshift hangover for the better part of the morning; feeling like death warmed up during his first double-period lecture hall, desperately struggling keep himself awake and pay attention. Which usually means his study notes are practically incomprehensible by the end of it, and then he feels anxiously compelled to fill in the gaps as best he can with extra study-time over his lunch break while the topic’s still fresh in his mind, pouring over books and study materials in one of the library booths, shovelling down bites of cheap gimbap whenever he’s sure the librarian isn’t looking. Thankfully both the cafeteria and snack shop on campus come with huge student discounts which makes the food super affordable compared to most other places, so at least he can buy something decent and filling for lunch most days. It’s a small consolation for not being able to hang out with friends during his free time, though.

But today? Today Jungkook feels amazing.

He’s still a little tired and achy, granted, but compared to previous Mondays it’s almost like he’s had a total brain transplant. His three-hour class on investments and e-business infrastructure actually makes sense (although it’s still the most soul-crushingly dull thing he’s ever learned), and he leaves the lecture hall with five full pages of notes that he can actually use for their upcoming exam. Feeling liberated, he deviates from his usual route to the library and heads out into the sunny campus grounds, pulling his phone from his backpack to check for messages.

Yugy: Hey! Hope JB-hyung didn’t murder you too hard this morning. Need a hug? x
Yugy: Dumb question. I wanna hug you anyway so text me when you’re done at the library, k? You really scared me yesterday. Oh, and I wanna hear all about where you suddenly got the money for those new Timberlands! You promised you’d spill after class, so no take-backs. x

Jungkook grins, rolling his eyes fondly. He should’ve guessed that Yugyeom wouldn’t forget about a promise – he never has, not in the eight years they’ve known each other, although back in middle school it had been a much cuter and scrawnier werewolf who’d made him pinky-swear on everything and proclaimed “no take-backs” at every available opportunity thereafter. If Jungkook didn’t love him so much, he definitely would’ve thumped the idiot by now.

‘I didn’t buy them, they were a gift,’ he texts back, pausing to lean against the support strut of one of the many ‘shade-shelters’ that are scattered about the campus to cater to species who might need a reprieve from daylight every now and then. ‘You free for lunch? I’m ditching the library today.’

His phone buzzes within a few seconds, then again, and again – a flurry of short messages sent one after the other.

OMG
Who are you?
What happened to my BFF?
My Kookie lives in that fucking library.

Jungkook sends him frowny-emoji, and Yugyeom replies with a kissy face.

Yugy: Gonna grab us something from the cafeteria. Meet you by the picnic tables near the oak grove in like 10 minutes?

And another text before Jungkook can finish typing an automatic protest that Yugyeom doesn’t need to buy him lunch again:

Yugy: Yo, I bumped into Binnie so I’m dragging him along too. Also wtf does he mean you have a sugar daddy??? BITCH I NEED DETAILS.

Groaning internally, Jungkook closes the conversation and resists the urge to bang his head against the screen (it’s already cracked, so he probably shouldn’t risk causing any further damage). He really doesn’t have an easy reply to Yugyeom’s question – it’s definitely something they need to talk about in person. And hey, he’d totally been mentally prepared to tell Yugyeom all about Taehyung and their new bond, about Tae’s nestmates and how they’d all been going out of their way to help him…but Jungkook had rather been hoping to have this conversation without the whole ‘sugar daddy’ thing coming up.

It’s not like he can easily refute the claim, given the evidence that’s stacked against him – in the short period of time Tae and his hyungs have known him, they’ve bought him a week’s haul of groceries, a new rice cooker, an expensive pair of Timberlands, given him two very generous tips at the café, provided free medical care, and offered to settle his finances just because they like him. It really does sound like a sugar daddy scenario, and he doubts Yugyeom will be willing to drop the subject now that Moonbin’s phrased it to him that way. Damn. Jungkook’s going to have words with his roommate when they get home. (And by that he means throwing pillows at Binnie’s face and acting affronted all evening, at least until the werecat inevitably cuddles him into forgiveness.)

Seeing that he still has several unread messages in his inbox, he opens the app again, heart stuttering in his chest with something a little like nervous excitement when he sees who they’re all from. He taps the name, eyes scanning over the texts eagerly.

TaeTae: Hey Kookie, just checking in. Feeling any better? Did you go to SNU today? How’s your head? Xxx

TaeTae: Oh duh, you’re probably in class by now. Maybe text me when you get out? Love you. Xxx

Jungkook grins, clutching the phone in both hands, re-reading those two words over and over before reluctantly forcing himself to scroll down to the next message.

TaeTae: So where abouts on campus would you be if I maybe wanted to come visit you? I’m not really familiar with SNU, and the map’s hella confusing. Maybe I could meet you after class? You get a lunch break, right? Xxx

TaeTae: Hey Kookie, nothing to worry about. Just call me as soon as you’re out of class, ok? Xxx

By the last text, Jungkook’s dopey smile has slackened a little, a teeny-tiny slither of worry gnawing at his stomach. The tone of Taehyung’s texts…he can’t put his finger on it, but something just seems off.

Swiping on Tae’s name and hitting ‘call’, Jungkook starts to head off down the path that leads to the small woodland area that runs along one side of the campus. Although the weather’s still cool enough to need a jacket, it’s dry and sunny today, so most of the students are lazing about on the open grassy area in front of the main university building during their lunch break (or taking shelter in the shaded alcoves, if that’s their preference), so the picnic benches near the border of the wood will probably offer them a little more privacy than usual, which will come in handy when Yugyeom inevitably freaks the fuck out over the whole ‘transference bond’ thing.

Taehyung picks up on the third ring.

“Kookie? Are you alright?”

“Hi, hyung,” Jungkook chirps, back to grinning dopily like a lovesick idiot just at the sound of Tae’s voice. “I’m good. Is something wrong? Your texts sounded kinda…urgent. You and the hyungs are okay, right?”

“We’re all fine,” Taehyung replies, sounding a little breathless, but his relief is audible. “I just…I really needed to check in with you, that’s all. Are you free to meet up? I’m at your campus.”

“Really?” Jungkook beams, heart soaring at the prospect of seeing his boyfriend imminently; but then he rethinks the whole situation and winces. “Aw, hyung…is this because I didn’t answer your texts? I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you. I only just got out of class. You didn’t have to come all this way-”

“Hey, no, it’s not your fault,” Taehyung hurries to reassure. “I was already on my way over when I sent you those.”

Jungkook glances down at his watch as he nears the end of the path, where a set a of wide stone steps lead down into the wooded area along the east side of the campus.

“It’s only just gone midday, hyung,” he points out softly. “Shouldn’t you still be asleep?”

From what he’s gathered through being a Kdrama junkie (which is entirely Moonbin’s fault - the werecat likes to put something on in the background while they eat dinner), younger vampires like Taehyung (especially newly-turned nestlings) tended to sleep predominantly during the day because they’re more photosensitive than their elders. It’s why universities run a nocturnal schedule for most of their core academic subjects, so that students can study at a time of day that suits their natural body clock best. Jungkook had even briefly contemplated taking the overnight business course so that he didn’t have to switch between weekend nightshifts and weekday studying, but the evening lecture slot would’ve clashed with dance practice or art classes most days, so that option had been ruled out pretty quickly.

“Namjoon-hyung made me go to sleep early last night, so I woke up at like ten,” the vampire explains, and Jungkook can hear people chatting away in the background. “Geez, Kookie, your campus is huge. Anyway, is it okay if we maybe meet up real quick? I don’t wanna infringe on your free-time with your friends, so I won’t stay long, I just really need to see you.”

Jungkook’s touched that Tae seems so invested in his wellbeing, and he feels a twinge of guilt about the texts he’d inadvertently ignored during class. If only he’d replied sooner, maybe the vampire wouldn’t be so worried about him now. Perhaps he could send Tae a copy of his class schedule, so that next time he won’t immediately assume the worst if his text messages go unread.

“I’m heading down to the old oak grove,” he tells his new bondmate, beginning to descend the stone staircase to the forest path. “It’s down by the law building, right on the far side of campus. I’m meeting a couple friends for lunch, but you’re more than welcome to join us if you’d like? I’m sure they both wanna get to know you.”

And that’s probably the understatement of the century - Moonbin’s been pestering him for a proper introduction since he first caught a whiff of Tae’s scent on Saturday.

“You’re sure I won’t be intruding?”

“Nah, it’s cool. I’d really like you to meet them,” Jungkook insists, and it’s an honest statement. He loves his friends, because they’re the best people on earth, and he wants Taehyung to love them too. “I think maybe you saw Binnie yesterday when you dropped me off at home? He was a little distracted, otherwise he probably would’ve said hi, but-”

Jungkook’s so wrapped up in the conversation that his body temporarily forgets how to use stairs like a normal person, and his foot completely misses the second to last step. His stomach gives a sickening lurch as he slips, yelping in surprise, ankle turning beneath him as he lands too hard, sending him crashing to the ground in an inelegant sprawl. His phone flies out of his hand and goes skittering across the path, disappearing under a nearby bush.

Fucking. Ow.

On the bright side, there’s nobody else presently on the stairs to witness his embarrassment.

On the downside, his ankle hurts like hell, and he’s gone and scuffed up his palms against the path (he can feel the tell-tale burn of freshly grated skin). He grits his teeth, sitting up to take stock of his injuries, already knowing that his ankle’s not going to hold up well enough for him to dance on it during practice tonight, even if it’s just a mild twist.

He carefully flexes his foot, grimacing at the dull throb. Yep, definitely a sprain. It’s his own stupid fault for letting himself get distracted by his mega crush on Taehyung, instead of concentrating on making it down the stairs safely; but then hindsight is always 20/20. He’ll add that to the growing list of ‘things future Jungkook needs to do better next time’.

Fuck, and he’d been having such a good Monday, too.

“Kookie!”

Startling at the shout, Jungkook’s head shoots up in time to see a very familiar figure hurtling down the steps towards him.

Taehyung’s dressed in a long-sleeved sweater and dark pants, sunhat pulled low to shield his face from the daylight and oval-shaped sunglasses perched on his nose, but the fear in his expression is still very much evident as he hurries to Jungkook’s side.

“Ohmygod, okay, don’t move,” the vampire frets, a little breathless from his run as he sinks to his knees beside Jungkook. “Is anything broken? Please tell me nothing’s broken.”

Jungkook’s still a little too stunned by Tae’s sudden arrival to reply straight away, staring up at his boyfriend dumbly, which seems to worry him further.

“Did you hit your head, baby?” A gloved hand gently cups his chin, Taehyung pulling off his sunglasses so that he can peer into Jungkook’s eyes concernedly.

It’s the site of those familiar amber irises that finally snaps Jungkook out of his shocked inertia, and he quickly shakes his head, smiling as he reaches up to touch the vampire’s hand where it still rests against his cheek.

“I’m fine, I’m okay,” he reassures, although the slight wobble in his voice (residual adrenaline from the fall, he tells himself) doesn’t make for a convincing argument. “It just…knocked the wind from me for a sec. And I’m kinda surprised to see you, didn’t expect you to make it here so fast.”

Taehyung seems to relax marginally at Jungkook’s apparent lucidity, tense shoulders sagging a little as he leans in to brush his lips against Kookie’s brow in a tender kiss.

“Fuck, I’m sorry,” Tae groans, still breathing heavily as he rests their foreheads together. “I was just trying to make sure you were okay. God, this is all my fault. Yoongi-hyung said not to contact you about it, but I needed to…shit. I’m so sorry, Kookie, I only wanted to keep you safe, and now look what's happened.”

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to Jungkook, but whatever the issue, Taehyung seems genuinely upset about it. Not just in his voice and expression…Jungkook feels it, the guilt and anguish, like a phantom tightness in his own chest that he somehow knows doesn’t belong to him. Taehyung’s still wearing his gloves, but with their brows touching like this…

As though realising their connection at the same moment, Taehyung pulls back with a sharp little gasp, another breathless apology falling from his lips as his gloved fingertips come up to stroke over the spot where their foreheads had been touching. The tightness in Jungkook’s chest vanishes instantly.

“That was, you,” Tae stutters, wide-eyed. “Ohmygod, Kook, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”

“Hey,” Jungkook murmurs, fingers curling in Taehyung’s sleeve, holding the vampire’s worried gaze calmly. “It’s okay. We’re good.”

Taehyung’s brow is still creased with worry, gloved fingertips gently stroking down the human’s cheek.

Jungkook gives Tae’s sleeve another little tug. “Hyung, I’m fine. I just tripped. It wasn’t your fault, I should’ve been looking where I was going. And I only fell down the last couple of steps, it’s not a big deal.”

It’s not the first time he’s fallen down the stairs and busted his ankle, and it certainly won’t be the last. Taehyung doesn’t need to hear that right now, though – the vampire might never let him walk on his own again.

“When you sounded okay on the phone, I thought maybe I’d made it here in time,” Tae mutters, glancing away. “I thought I could stop you from…ugh, I’m so stupid.

“No you’re not,” Jungkook immediately rebuts, leaning in to try and catch Taehyung’s eye, smiling wryly. “Pretty sure that title goes to me, hyung – I’m the guy who just fell on his face.”

The vampire’s lips kick up at the corner, huffing out what sounds like a reluctantly amused sigh.

“Did Yoongi-hyung see something?” Jungkook tacks on curiously, subtly brushing some grit from his scraped palms and expertly hiding his wince. “Is that why you wanted to check up on me?”

It’s Taehyung’s turn to blink at him in surprise.

“Wait. You know about Yoongi-hyung?”

Shit.

He’d forgotten that his previous encounter with the Seer had become a sort-of secret between himself and Yoongi. Well, not that the vampire had indicated that he wanted it to be kept a secret, but since Yoongi hadn’t shared the events of Sunday morning with his nestmates immediately after it had happened (as Kookie had initially expected him to do), Jungkook just figured it maybe wasn’t necessary to bring it up again – especially since he knew it would probably upset Tae and the others to know that he’d almost been run over by a taxi because he’d been too fucking tired to remember basic road safety.

 “I…we’ve met before, actually,” he confesses haltingly. “Yesterday morning, after my nightshift. He walked me home.”

Taehyung’s brow creases again in a faint frown. “Why would…but he never said anything to the rest of us. He just walked you home, that was it? Nothing happened? Because hyung doesn’t really leave the nest unless he has a bad feeling about something.”

Jungkook rubs the back of his neck, then grimaces, belatedly remembering the grazes on his palms.

“I guess something did happen? But it wasn’t a big deal. Yoongi-hyung stepped in to help, so everything was fine.”

It’s definitely as vague an explanation as he can possibly make it, but unfortunately it’s not enough to satisfy Taehyung, who’s clearly looking for details.

“Helped you how? Were you in trouble? Was someone bothering you? You finish work so late, and drunk people can be assholes…baby, did someone try to hurt you?”

Oh, fuck it.

“There was a taxi,” he elaborates, trying to sound as casually dismissive as possible to downplay the whole ‘nearly died in a traffic collision’ thing. “Guess I was pretty tired, so I wasn’t looking where I was going when I started crossing the road. Hyung pulled me back before anything could happen, though.”

Taehyung’s eyes have gone wide, and Jungkook winces internally, knowing that the vampire understands the implications of what he deliberately hadn’t said.

“You almost got run over by a taxi?”

“But I didn’t,” Jungkook hurries to reassure, his smile cheerful. “And I’m totally fine, see? And I got to meet Yoongi-hyung, so that’s good, right?”

“What? No, none of that is good, everything about you almost getting hit by a moving vehicle is definitely not-good, oh my god.” Taehyung clutches a hand to his chest like Kookie’s propensity for life-endangerment is giving him palpitations. “I can’t believe Yoongi-hyung didn’t tell me.

Jungkook reaches out to squeeze Tae’s arm, feeling another twinge of guilt for making the vampire panic over something that happened because of his own stupidity.

“He probably just didn’t want to worry you,” Kookie reasons softly. “Neither did I, hyung. Since I wasn’t hurt, I didn’t see the point in stressing you out by talking about it.”

Taehyung pulls a face, like he wants to be upset but is struggling to commit, before heaving a sigh and cupping Jungkook’s cheeks in both gloved hands, leaning in to kiss him softly on the lips.

“What am I gonna do with you?” the vampire murmurs, fondly exasperated. “I wanna put you in a fucking bubble, swear to god.”

Jungkook huffs a surprised laugh, cheeks flushing at the kiss, but he leans into his boyfriend’s touch eagerly. Maybe Mondays aren’t so bad after all…

Boof!

At the yipped interruption, Tae’s expression freezes, and Jungkook glances up to see a familiar orb of tan fur bounding down the steps towards them, the nametag on Chim’s pink collar jingling as he runs.

“Uh oh,” Taehyung intones, leaning away from Jungkook with a wince as Chim launches himself from the bottommost step.

The vampire shifter ignores his nestmate and barrels straight into Jungkook’s lap, standing up on his tiny hind legs with his front paws resting on Kookie’s chest as he stares up at the human with un-doglike intensity, black nose twitching.

“Hi,” Jungkook reacts with soft, nervous laugh (because man, that stare is powerful).

Chim seems to scrutinise him for a long moment before letting out a softer boof, apparently satisfied that Kookie isn’t too badly injured, short tail wagging as his tiny wet nose pokes the younger man in the throat, snuffling. It makes him jump (it’s cold, he can’t help it) and Chim’s answering huff sounds almost amused this time. The puppy gives the underside of his chin a single tender lick in greeting, then turns around in his lap, shifting his attention towards Taehyung.

“Okay, so I know you told me to wait in the car,” the younger vampire acknowledges, raising a placating hand, “but you’d been gone for like twenty minutes, so I thought maybe you’d gotten lost-”

The tiny pooch gives a short, rumbling sort of growl.

“-and it’s not exactly like I can just text you when you’re all fluffy,” Tae ploughs on, completely unaffected by the pup’s hard stare. He gestures to his wide-brimmed sunhat. “And look, see? I even put this fucking insult to fashion on my head because I knew you’d fuss about prolonged daylight exposure.”

Chim glares at the vampire for another long beat, then lets out a sneezy huff that even to Kookie’s ears sounds fondly exasperated, and hops down from the youth’s lap to start sniffing around at Jungkook’s limbs, pausing when his tiny twitching snout reaches Kookie’s hands where they’ve come to rest on his thighs.

The dog paws at his sleeve demandingly until Jungkook obligingly turns his hands over to reveal his palms, and Chim’s answering boof is one of quiet disapproval as he studies the scuffed skin.

“Oh, you’re hurt,” Tae reacts, gently taking hold of Kookie’s wrists to draw his hands closer for inspection, face pinched in worry.

“It’s fine, I only grazed ‘em a little,” Jungkook tries to reassure, both touched by his concern and amused by the minor overreaction to what’s realistically a very small injury.

As someone with the balance and poise of a new-born deer (outside of the dance studio, at least), Jungkook’s no stranger to cuts and bruises. He’s sprained his ankle more times than he can count, and thanks his lucky stars on a regular basis that one of the few non-dormant genetic factors he’s inherited from the hybrid side of his family is accelerated healing. He’d never cope with being laid up for days or weeks at a time with a busted ankle – usually, if he’s careful not to push himself too hard and ices it overnight, the pain and swelling is almost fully gone by the next day, and practically non-existent within 48 hours. The cuts on his hands will have healed over by tomorrow evening too, he’ll just be left with a layer of new skin that looks and feels like mild sunburn for a day or two.

“Really, it doesn’t even hurt anymore,” he tries to insist (which, to be fair, isn’t a total lie - it’s only a slight sting now that the burning from before has settled). “Guess I tried to catch myself when I fell. I think my phone got knocked away somewhere over there.”

He points towards the tall bushes that line the path, and Chim follows his finger, padding around Jungkook and over to the hedgerow, disappearing from sight. There’s a loud rustle, a low grunt, and then Jimin emerges from the bush in human form, phone in hand. The blond’s dressed in casual clothes like Taehyung – a pair of skinny jeans, white shirt and a dark leather jacket – but he still looks every bit as handsome as the first time Kookie met him.

“I think your screen’s cracked,” Jimin says apologetically, dropping into a crouch beside him as he passes it over, one hand coming up to rest on the back of Kookie’s neck in a casual gesture of tactile comfort. “Sorry, honey.”

The petname has the same effect on Jungkook as it did last time, a fluttering warmth igniting in his chest as fights a smile, cheeks heating. He distracts himself momentarily with his phone, making sure it still turns on after the fall (it does!), shooting Jimin a more confident smile as he shoves it back into the front pocket of his hoodie.

“Don’t worry, it’s been cracked like that for months. I drop it a lot.”

Jimin hums in acknowledgement, gaze shifting briefly towards his nestmate again, and he reaches out to pull Taehyung’s sunglasses from the rim of his hat.

“Shades, Tae,” the vampire-shifter chides gently, slotting them carefully back onto the bride of the nestling’s nose. “It’s too bright, you’ll give yourself a headache.”

A startled yelp from nearby has all three of them glancing up, Jungkook wincing anew at the sight of Moonbin’s worried expression as the werecat comes running down the steps towards them.

“Hyung!” his roommate shouts. “What happened? Did you pass out?”

Jungkook resists the urge to groan.

“I’m fine,” he reassures for the nth time, flashing the younger man a smile as Moonbin skids to a halt beside him. “I just slipped. Help me up?”

Taehyung opens his mouth to protest (likely still worried that something’s broken or bent), but Binnie’s known him long enough that seeing Jungkook sprawled on the floor is a fairly regular occurrence. The werecat’s already leaning down to offer his aid, gripping Jungkook by the forearms to help lever him upright.

The ache in his right ankle flares to life the moment he puts weight on it, and although he quickly switches to balance on his left foot instead, he can’t quite hide his wince in time.

“Kookie?” Taehyung frets, reaching for him.

“Is it your ankle?” Moonbin asks, glancing down at the offending joint. “Aw hyung, not again.”

“Again?” Jimin echoes, arching an eyebrow at the werecat.

“Mm, this happens a lot,” Binnie elaborates (the absolute traitor), and offers the two vampires a wry smile.

Jungkook decides to try and divert the conversation away from the topic of his chronic clumsiness by initiating appropriate introductions.

“Hyungs, this is Moonbin, my roommate,” he interjects brightly, arm draped over his younger friend’s shoulders. “Binnie, this is Park Jimin and Kim Taehyung.”

“Nice to meet you, Moonbin-ah,” Jimin greets, offering the werecat his hand with a friendly smile. “I’ve heard a lot about you from Eunwoo.”

“Oh, so you’re the ‘Binnie’ that Dongmin’s always going on about,” Taehyung realises, apparently momentarily distracted from his concern over Kookie’s ankle (success!) as his eyes light up in recognition, a smile curling at his lips. “Hi! It’s great to finally meet you in person.”

“Likewise.” Moonbin’s gaze studies Taehyung for a beat, and his arm curls a little tighter around Jungkook’s waist – ostensibly to help support him, but mostly because he’s an adorably possessive kitten. “You must be Kookie-hyung’s new bondmate?”

“Guilty as charged,” Tae confirms, offering the werecat his hand with a handsome grin, the one that always makes Jungkook feel a little weak at the knees. “Call me hyung. And sorry, just to clarify…exactly how often does Kookie fall over like this?”

Jungkook tries to communicate an urgent halt-stop-desist message to his roommate using only his eyebrows, but Moonbin’s deliberately keeping his attention focused elsewhere, the brat.

“Oh, at least once every couple of weeks,” the werecat supplies helpfully, and that’s it, Jungkook’s going to drink all of Bin’s chocolate milk when he gets home.

Taehyung sighs and rubs his forehead. “Bubble,” he groans. “Kookie, I’m gonna put you in a giant, inflatable bubble with an inbuilt tracking chip, I swear to god.”

Jimin chuckles, coming up on Jungkook’s other side, resting a hand on his shoulder.

“We need to get that ankle checked out,” the vampire reminds him. “Let me drive you over to Namjoon-hyung’s clinic, I’m sure you won’t have to wait long to see him.”

Jungkook pulls a face, torn. He definitely wants to see the healer again, but not under these circumstances – it’s just so embarrassing, especially since it’s been less than twenty-four hours since their last consultation. And he knows what a sprain feels like, it’s nothing serious. It’d be even more humiliating to take advantage of the healer’s clinic time with something so minor, although he doubts Jimin and Taehyung will see it that way.

“I can’t, hyung, I have a class in like forty-five minutes,” he replies, because that’s definitely a more concrete excuse.

“You can’t walk around on a busted ankle,” Taehyung reasons softly, and offers Jungkook an encouraging smile. “Joonie-hyung can write you an absence note if you can’t make it to your next class, it’s no big deal.”

But it is. Maybe not in the grand scheme of things (you have to miss a significant chunk of your course before it starts impacting on your overall grade), but academic-related stuff is always a constant source of stress for Jungkook, and just the thought of missing even one important lecture makes him nervous – what if he isn’t able to understand the material without the professor’s explanation? What if that impacts on his performance in their final exams? What if his grades start to slip and he gets dropped from his scholarship programme? He can’t afford to pay full student fees and his evening art course, which means he’d have to quit art to keep up with the bills and…no. Absolutely not.

“Hyung doesn’t like skipping school,” Moonbin explains casually (and unfortunately Binnie knows that better than anyone – despite his best efforts to remain outwardly composed, Jungkook’s had several minor breakdowns in front of the werecat when big essays have been due and he’s gone without sleep for three days straight). “Don’t worry, I can piggy-back him between classes, that’s what I usually do. He’s seriously lighter than my backpack.”

Jungkook’s cheeks flush hot again when Tae and Jimin fix him with an assessing look.

“Have you eaten yet?” Taehyung queries.

“Yugy-hyung’s just grabbing us some food,” Moonbin answers for him, jerking his thumb casually in the direction of the stairs. “The queue in the cafeteria was pretty long, so he sent me on ahead to make sure Kookie-hyung didn’t wander off back to the library. Hyung’s always studying during lunch break, so we have to sit on him sometimes to make sure he doesn’t crawl back to his books.” He tilts his head, cat-like, and smiles warmly. “Would you like to join us? I’m sure Yugy-hyung won’t mind.”

Taehyung visibly brightens and opens his mouth to reply, but Jimin sets a hand on his arm, his own smile regretful.

“Tae’s already been outside a little too long,” he apologises. “And we wouldn’t want to intrude on your time together, especially if it’s a rare thing. Maybe some other time.”

Jungkook’s both disappointed and relieved. He’d wanted Tae and Jimin to meet Yugyeom in person, and stay long enough to get to know his friends a little better, but he’s also aware of how many questions the werewolf is bound to have (about the weekend and everything that’s happened since he last saw Jungkook on Friday), questions which he doesn’t really want to answer in front of his new hyungs. Especially when the whole ‘sugar daddy’ thing inevitably gets brought up.

“I’d still like someone to take a look at that ankle before you go home, if that’s alright?” Jimin asks him, his hand sliding up to settle over Jungkook’s nape. At the youth’s slight nod, he presses, “What time do you finish class this afternoon?”

“Um,” Oh god, why does his touch feel so nice? “Usually I’m out by three-thirty, give or take a few minutes.”

“Great.” The vampire shoots him another easy smile. “I’ll make sure someone’s waiting to pick you up from the drop-off point down by the bicycle racks.”

Jungkook nods again, and Jimin rewards him with a gentle squeeze to his nape.

“Then I’ll leave you in Bin-ah’s capable hands.” The vampire’s fingers linger there a beat longer before he steps away, flashing Moonbin a quick grin. “Good luck with that one, kid.”

“Thanks, hyung,” the werecat chirps without missing a beat.

Jungkook would be put-out by the teasing if he wasn’t so thrilled by how easily Moonbin seems to have accepted both Tae and Jimin into their fold. Apparently despairing over Kookie’s propensity to injure himself has given them common ground – maybe this Monday isn’t going to shit after all.

“Hey,” Taehyung murmurs, lifting his sunglasses back up onto the rim of his hat (and ignoring Jimin’s exasperated sigh) as he steps closer to Jungkook, cupping his cheek again. “You’ll call me if your ankle gets any worse, right?”

Nodding, Jungkook smiles, tilting his cheek into the touch. “Yeah. I promise.”

Tae leans in to brush a quick, chaste kiss against his lips, before stepping back again and letting Jimin slot his shades back onto the bridge of his nose and turn him towards the steps.

“I’ll see you in a few hours!” the younger vampire calls back over his shoulder as he’s ushered away. “Try not to fall down any more staircases, beautiful!”

Moonbin laughs beside him, squeezing his waist in a cosy side-hug as he watches Jimin an Tae’s retreating backs. Then his face splits into a wide grin as a familiar figure passes by the vampires at the top of the stairs, arms piled high with wrapped gimbap and sandwiches and a huge bag of shrimp-snacks, glass bottles of grape soda tucked under each arm. Yugyeom doesn’t even spare the two vampires a glance as he descends the steps, his attention clearly focused on not dropping any of the precious foodstuffs in his hold.

“Hey!” the werewolf greets energetically, his smile full of cheer. “Hope you guys are hungry – I couldn’t decide if we wanted kimchi gimbap or spicy chicken sandwiches, so I got us a ton of both…”

He must read something in Jungkook’s expression, because he pauses in his rambling, cocking his head to one side.

“What? Did I miss something?”

Yugyeom’s gaze flickers from Moonbin’s grinning face to the way the werecat’s supporting Jungkook, then down to the foot that Kookie’s keeping a good inch off the ground.

“Oh my god, dude, what happened to your ankle?”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

.

“Hey…you’re not still mad at me, right?” Jungkook murmurs, cheek pressed against the side of Yugyeom’s head as his best friend piggy-backs him down the main path towards the drop-off zone.

The whole “hey, so I met a stranger on Saturday morning and now we’re bonded” conversation at lunch had gone over pretty well, all things considered…but just like with Jaebum, his best friend hadn’t exactly been thrilled to find out how many health-related secrets Jungkook’s been keeping from him these past five or six weeks. Moonbin had clearly seen the warning signs ahead of time and ducked out before the two of them actually started arguing (ostensibly to meet up with Minhyuk and Sanha, but Jungkook knows how much his roommate hates conflict, so he can’t really blame the werecat for wanting to escape). And it really had been an argument, at least by their standards – in the eight years he and Yugyeom have known each other, they’ve only come to blows (verbally, that is) on a handful of occasions, so anything involving genuine anger always feels like a Big Deal.

Still, Jungkook knows he’d kinda had it coming, what with keeping his chronic sleeplessness and daily headaches (and those awful recurrent migraines) a secret for so long. Were he in Yugyeom’s shoes, he probably would’ve been pissed too.

“But they weren’t always as bad as yesterday,” he’d tried to explain, a cold sort of nausea churning in his gut and a lump lodged in his throat at seeing Yugyeom so visibly upset with him. “It wasn’t even an issue until this past weekend – if they’d been like that right from the start, I would’ve gone to see a doctor weeks ago, I promise. But I was coping just fine…at least, I thought I was. Look, I know it sounds like a big deal, but I wasn’t really keeping it a secret on purpose, I just didn’t wanna worry you over nothing. I didn’t think it would get worse all of a sudden. Yesterday was just…really, really bad.”

“Of course it got fucking worse, Kookie,” Yugyeom had fumed, throwing his hands in the air in an agitated gesture as he paced back and forth on the other side of the picnic bench. “It got worse because you ignored all those migraines for over a month and didn’t fucking tell anyone how shitty you were feeling!”

“But it wasn’t like that all the time,” Jungkook had insisted plaintively, regretting how much food he’d eaten because now it felt like it could come back up again at any moment. “The headaches always went away so fast, and I mostly felt okay when I was at school. If I’d known things were gonna keep getting worse, I would’ve told you, honest. I’m sorry, Gyeomie…”

He could tell his best friend hadn’t been entirely happy with that flimsy excuse, but it was also obvious that Yugyeom hated fighting as much as Jungkook did. So, with a muttered threat about dragging Kookie’s ass to a healer himself the next time he so much as sneezed, the werewolf had dropped down onto the bench beside him and pulled him into a firm and much-needed hug, nuzzling the crown of his head with a soothing rumble. Just in time, too – Jungkook had probably been about five seconds away from actual tears, and one more firm rebuke would’ve pushed him over the edge.

He really, really hates arguing with his friends.

But before they could properly talk things over and make amends, they’d both realised the time, and Yugyeom had been forced to make a mad-dash up the path towards the business and economics building so that Jungkook wouldn’t be late for class, the human-hybrid clinging onto his back for dear life. The werewolf had dropped him off right at the door to his study hall with about thirty seconds to spare – Yugyeom had wanted to go further inside, but Jungkook had point-blank refused to be carried over to his seat in front of everyone. Hell no. He’d been humiliated enough for one day, thank you.

However, the abrupt, unresolved ending to their earlier conversation hadn’t sat comfortably with Jungkook. They’d hugged it out, sure, but he knew there was more that Yugyeom had wanted to say; a whole world of pain and frustration the wolf had elected to hold back for Kookie’s sake. Knowing they were still at odds had been fucking unbearable.

So Jungkook had continuously glanced at the clock throughout his two-hour lecture on competitive business models in land revenue, a knot of guilt and uncertainty gnawing away at his insides the whole time, the throbbing pain in his ankle almost an afterthought compared to the hollow ache in his chest. By the end of class (what felt like several decades later), Kookie had managed to thoroughly convince himself that his worst fears had finally come true; that their friendship was over, their bond would never truly recover from this day, and it was entirely his fault.

But then Yugyeom had been waiting for him in the corridor outside his classroom with a cheerful smile, nuzzling Jungkook’s temple in his usual tender greeting and turning around so that the human-hybrid could hop up onto his back. As they stepped out into the sunny campus grounds, the wolf was already musing aloud about potential dates for their next sleepover at the Den, listing off all the new horror movies he and Binnie wanted to marathon. It was as if their argument had never happened at all.

Jungkook honestly hadn’t intended to bring the topic up again until Yugyeom did, but his fears and doubts have been slowly building up over the past two hours and by now they’ve reached a boiling point.

He just has to make sure there’s no lingering bad blood between them. He’ll never sleep tonight if there’s even the faintest sliver of doubt left in his mind about the status of their friendship; the thought of Yugyeom still being angry with him is making Jungkook feel physically sick.

“Kookie…” The werewolf huffs a quiet sigh and carefully bumps Jungkook a little higher onto his back when he starts to slip. “C’mon, bun, like I could ever stay mad at you. I won’t apologise for getting upset back there, because I kinda feel like my reaction was justified, you know? But I’m sorry I yelled. You know it’s only ‘cause I worry about you, dude.”

Jungkook’s lips curl into a relieved smile, that hollow ache in his chest finally easing as he presses his face into Yugyeom’s shoulder, arms curling around the werewolf’s necks in a tighter sort of back-hug, a little too emotional to speak for a moment. He’d seriously been so worried about losing the trust of his oldest and dearest friend because of his own stupidity, but now he feels dumb for overthinking things (again) and assuming the worst. Of course Yugyeom would never throw their friendship aside over a little argument – he’s way too sweet and forgiving.

“Love you,” he mumbles into the wolf’s shoulder, once the threat of actual tears has safely passed.

Yugyeom tilts his head back and to the side, a sort of backwards nuzzle against Jungkook’s hair. “Love you too, stupid.”

“You’re stupid,” Jungkook retorts without missing a beat.

Yugyeom bumps him up a little higher again. “Only ‘cause I’m copying you, dumb-bun.”

And just like that, everything’s back to how it should be. Jungkook sniffs a grin and rests his cheek against the side of Yugyeom’s head again, gaze focusing back on the path ahead of them as it opens up into the circular drop-off zone. Most of the university students tend to walk, cycle or take the bus to campus (since Seoul’s transport network is fairly cheap and has a regular timetable, and who the fuck can afford a car on top of tuition anyways), so there’s only one vehicle waiting in the designated zone; a long, black, expensive-looking car with fully tinted windows both front and back (modifications that are only licenced for certain sunlight-sensitive species). Jungkook suspects he knows who it belongs to, but then there are probably a few vampire students who attend the university during daylight hours, so he can’t be certain.

Yugyeom comes to a sudden halt, still about thirty feet away from the vehicle, and Jungkook feels his friend grow tense beneath him.

“Hey,” he murmurs, giving Yugyeom a squeeze where his arms are still draped over the wolf’s shoulders. “Am I getting too heavy? Here, let me down, it’s not far – I can just hop the rest of the way.”

The wolf doesn’t acquiesce to his request – doesn’t seem to register his words at all, actually – his gaze still fixed on the immobile car as he slowly cocks his head to one side.

“You don’t feel that?” the werewolf asks, his voice so hushed that Jungkook wouldn’t have heard it at all were it not for his hybrid genes.

“Feel what?”

Yugyeom sucks in a slow, shuddering breath. “That,” he articulates. “You don’t…the air doesn’t feel different to you?”

Jungkook breathes in deeply, but all he can smell are the late spring blossoms on the nearby cherry trees and Yugyeom’s comforting pack-scent.

“…no?”

The werewolf takes a careful step backwards, and then another, moving them several paces further away from the drop-off zone, his grip on Jungkook shifting as he glances around.

“It’s…ugh, fuck, I feel weird,” Yugyeom mutters, and shakes his head like there’s water in his ears or something. “Kook, I don’t think we should go this way. Maybe you could ask you boyfriend to meet us at the bus stop?”

Jungkook’s genuinely concerned now. Yugyeom’s not easily spooked, and like all werewolves he’s got good gut-instincts (and an enviable ability to know when it’s about to rain). But they’ve never been in a perilous situation together that would allow Yugyeom to test out his sixth sense for danger, so Jungkook can’t be certain it isn’t just the pollen making his friend’s nose feel itchy or something.

Still, if Yugyeom’s uncomfortable being here, he doesn’t want to force the werewolf to ignore those instincts either, even if their surroundings seem to be perfectly safe.

“Okay,” he agrees, giving his friend another squeeze, lowering his head to press his face against the side of Yugyeom’s neck, seeking to comfort the wolf with the tactile contact. “I’ll give Tae-hyung a call. You wanna get outta here?”

Yugyeom nods, visibly relaxing, and bumps up Jungkook a little higher on his back as he turns around to head back the way they came…

Only to stop short with a sharp inhale, immediately tensing again.

Jungkook startles and lifts his head from Yugyeom’s shoulder, blinking a few times when the sunshine blinds him for a second. His vision adjusts after a moment, and his eyes go wide in surprise at the tall figure standing less than a foot away.

“Oh, Seokjin-ssi,” he reacts, trying to dip his head in a polite bow as best he can.

“Jin-hyung,” the vampire corrects, his lips curling up in a soft, fond smile. “Hello, little one. It’s good to see you again.”

Jin isn’t wearing a sunhat or shades despite the clear skies overhead, and appears unbothered even though he's standing directly in a ray sunlight, the pale, unblemished skin of his handsome face fully exposed. Jungkook knows that a vampire’s tolerance for sunlight is supposed to improve with age, but he’s never seen a vampire willingly bask in the sun like this before with no added protection. The barrier creams and skincare products specifically designed for creatures of the night will only do so much to prevent daylight damage – Eunwoo tends to slather himself with the stuff (being a model and an actor, he generally has to work during daytime hours), but even he rarely steps outside without a sunhat and shades.

Still, if it’s bothering him, Jin isn’t showing any obvious signs of discomfort; his easy smile and relaxed countenance give nothing away. The vampire’s warm amber gaze moves from Jungkook’s face to Yugyeom’s, his expression softening as he takes in the werewolf’s tense posture.

“I’m sorry if my presence frightened you,” he apologises gently, the lapels of his dark coat fluttering in the cool spring breeze. “I understand it can sometimes feel a little disconcerting to those with heightened senses. You must be one of Jungkookie’s friends?”

Yugyeom seems temporarily unable to speak, so Jungkook answers for him, giving the werewolf’s temple a reassuring nuzzle. He remembers how big and powerful Jin had felt the first time they’d met on Saturday, his presence seeming to fill the whole apartment, and even with his hybrid instincts mostly dormant, Jungkook had still wanted to run and hide. But he doesn’t feel that now, not even a little bit. He just feels…safe.

During lunch, he’d briefly described his interactions with all of Tae’s nestmates, but he’d left out the details about their individual enhancements – he hadn’t wanted to betray his new hyungs’ confidence by revealing such private information, especially when it came to Yoongi’s gift of foresight and Jin’s...whatever. But now he regrets not warning Yugyeom ahead of time about the eldest vampire’s tangible authority, especially given that the wolf’s senses are dialled up way higher than his own. Kookie can only imagine how unsettling it must feel.

“This is Kim Yugyeom, my best friend,” he supplies cheerfully. “Gyeomie, this is Seokjin-hyung, one of Tae’s nestmates.”

Yugyeom’s breath leaves him in a shaky whoosh, clearly relieved by the familiarity between Jungkook and the powerful newcomer, his tense posture relaxing a little. He recovers enough to dip forward in a quick bow, very nearly dumping Jungkook headfirst onto the ground in the process; the hybrid clings tighter to his best friend’s shoulders with a startled yelp.

Large, strong hands steady them both, Jin’s laughter a delighted, musical sound that seems to make the world around them glow even brighter for a moment.

“Here, pup, let me help you with that,” the vampire murmurs, still smiling, hands shifting to form a surer grip on Jungkook. “If I may?”

In an effortless show of strength that suggests he’s done this many times before, Jin plucks Jungkook from the werewolf’s back and swings him up into his arms as though he weighs nothing at all, holding him as Namjoon had done the previous day with one arm wrapped around his back and another beneath his knees.

Jungkook feels his cheeks tinge pink as he automatically clutches at the vampire’s shoulders, heart beating a little faster. It’s not that he particularly dislikes the position (not at all, actually), but yesterday he’d barely been able to lift his head, let alone walk on his own, so the whole carrying-him-around thing had been something of a necessity at the time. The only thing wrong with him today is a mildly sprained ankle, so being cradled like this in Jin’s arms seems a little excessive. He swears Tae and his nestmates all think he’s made of glass or something.

“Hyung, it’s alright, I can walk-” he tries to insist.

“No he can’t,” Yugyeom refutes, far too cheerfully (aish, every bit the traitor Moonbin had been earlier that day).

“No you can’t, dearheart,” Jin echoes, with a look of sympathy. “Not on that poor ankle. We’ll have Joonie take a look at it, I’m sure you’ll be back on your feet in no time. Yugyeom-ah, would you care to join us? There’s plenty of room in the car. Or is your Alpha expecting you home?”

The werewolf’s hands fiddle with the strap of his satchel, gaze flitting to Jungkook’s face quickly, their eyes locking for a brief moment. They’ve known each other long enough that Jungkook can see the unspoken question there, the silent “do you need me to stay?” that they’ve communicated to each other numerous times over the years. As always, Jungkook’s touched by his friend’s loyalty and protectiveness, but despite his mild embarrassment at being carried around like a helpless child, he’s never felt more comfortable or content than he is right now, cradled safely in Jin’s arms. There’s something about the gentle vampire, about all of Tae’s nestmates come to think of it, that drastically lowers his guard in a way he’s never experienced with anyone else before. Despite his mind telling him that he’s only met Jin once before, his instincts are saying family, and all his usual inhibitions have faded away into the background. There’s a level of trust there that he can’t quite explain, an absolute bone-deep surety that Tae and his nestmates won’t ever hurt him.

He doesn’t fully understand how or why he feels that way, but he imagines it probably has something to do with his newly-established bond. That’s something for future-Jungkook to puzzle out whenever he finally gets a moment to think straight between all these unexpected meet-ups.

At the slight shake of his head, a silent reassurance that he’ll be fine on his own, Yugyeom’s gaze shifts back to the vampire, a more confident smile curling at his lips.

“Thank you, but Jaebum-hyung’s probably waiting for me,” the werewolf answers, fixing his satchel-strap more comfortably across his chest. “It was nice meeting you, though. And thank you for taking care of Jungkookie.”

“Jaebum? As in, Im Jaebum?” Jin asks curiously, and Jungkook glances up at him, matching Yugyeom’s look of surprise. Taking their reactions as confirmation, the vampire grins delightedly. “Oh! I knew he’d recently taken in another cub, but I never had the chance to meet you in person. Do give my love to the pack, won’t you? And tell Mark I’ve managed to source that book on Dheigi water spirits he’s been looking for.”

Still looking vaguely stunned, Yugyeom nods jerkily.

Jin’s smile softens further. “Thank you. I’ll let you go before the rain comes, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again soon.” He takes a small step closer. “May your feet carry you safely home, lupellus.”

The vampire blows gently, as he had on Jungkook’s hands a couple of days ago, and the breeze picks up around them (warmer than it had been moments before), Yugyeom’s eyes closing as it briefly ruffles at his fringe. Then the werewolf blinks, looking dazed but happy, ducking his head in a quick bow as his cheeks flush faintly pink.

“I…thank you.” Yugyeom gaze flickers upwards, shifting to meet Jungkook’s, his smile more genuine than it had been before, something a little bit like excitement brimming behind his eyes. “Hope your ankle feels better soon, Kook. Message me later, okay?”

“I will,” Kookie promises, somewhat baffled by what’s just happened but glad to see his friend looking so relaxed again. “I’ll text you as soon as I’m home. Say sorry to the team at practice tonight, won’t you? Tell everyone I’ll be back by Wednesday.”

“Sure thing,” the wolf agrees as he waves, already turning to leave, apparently very eager to get home all of a sudden. “Bye, love you!”

Well. That was weird.

As Jin turns to head back down the path towards the parked car, Jungkook casts him a tentative glance, a thousand questions tumbling around in his head. Jin catches him looking and smiles fondly.

“Something you’d like to ask me? Go ahead, little one.”

Jungkook feels his cheeks flush hot again at the term of endearment (god help him, he really likes the way Jin says it), but as always his insatiable curiosity outweighs his shyness.

“What was that?” he asks hesitantly. “The…blowing thing?”

Jin’s smile curls a little wider, and he chuckles softly, shaking his head like Jungkook’s just said something particularly cute.

“A blessing,” the vampire answers after a beat. “A rather traditional one, I’ll admit, but it’s the sentiment that counts. It’ll keep your friend safe from harm on his journey home…unless he has the misfortune of being as clumsy as you are, my dear.”

That last part is said teasingly, and Jungkook finds he’s comfortable enough in the elder’s presence to drop his head against Jin’s shoulder with a soft whine of complaint, but he’s unable to hide his smile at the vampire’s answering chuckle. Man, that’s a sound he could listen to forever. It makes him feel so warm and fuzzy and happy inside.

“Where’s Tae-hyung?” Jungkook asks after a beat, belatedly remembering his boyfriend’s absence. Not that he’s complaining about Seokjin being here to collect him, but he isn’t the vampire Jungkook had been expecting.

“Waiting in the car,” Jin answers, and shoots a look of fond exasperation towards the vehicle. “I’m afraid he caught the sun earlier today, so I made him stay inside while I came to fetch you. Naturally he wasn’t too happy about that, but Jiminie’s been keeping him company. Or sitting on him, most likely – TaeTae can be rather stubborn, as I’m sure you’ve already gathered. Quite the fighting spirit. It’s little wonder he was drawn to you, bunny – the two of you are very much alike.”

They’ve reached the car, and Jin pauses briefly to stare at it for a moment, before the back door pops open seemingly of its own accord. It’s probably the least surprising thing that’s happened so far today, so Jungkook decides not to question it at this point (he’ll probably just end up even more befuddled), allowing the vampire to lean down and ease him inside.

“Kookie!” Taehyung chirps, from the far side of the backseat, where Jimin actually does appear to be sitting on him. “Dude, get off, I’m not gonna bolt anymore.”

As soon as Jimin has slid gracefully from the younger vampire’s lap, Tae’s scooting across the seats to wrap his arms around Jungkook in a tight embrace.

“Hi, baby,” his bondmate murmurs, pulling back after a beat to cup Jungkook’s face between his ungloved hands. “How’s your ankle?”

“S’okay,” he replies, eyes closing as he takes a moment to just enjoy the skin contact – aigoo, his touch feels so much more intimate without the gloves. Smiling, he breathes in Tae’s now-familiar scent and feels the residual stress of the day just melt away.

Gentle hands lift his foot and carefully work off his new Timberlands. It hurts a little, but no more than usual when he's taken a tumble; he grits his teeth and bears it so as not to unduly alarm anyone.

“Aw hon, it’s looking pretty swollen,” Jimin comments, and Jungkook glances down to see the blond kneeling at his feet, carefully examining his injured ankle.

And then Jungkook blinks, dumbfounded, because holy shit when the fuck did the car get so big?

He could’ve sworn it looked like an average-sized car on the outside – fancy and expensive, sure, but not as big as a fucking limousine. There definitely hadn’t been this much distance between the back and front doors – aigoo, there’s at least a full two metres’ leg room between himself and the driver’s seat, and the backseat’s definitely a fuckton wider than the width of the car had suggested from the outside.

“Here, sweetheart.” A stool is suddenly positioned under his leg to support his sprained ankle, Jin smiling up at him gently as he crouches down next to Jimin. “Is that better?”

What.

Where…where had that stool come from?

Holy fuck, holy fuck, holy fuck…

Taehyung chuckles beside him, slipping an arm around his waist and brushing a kiss against his cheek.

“It’s Jin-hyung’s car, Kookie,” the vampire says, as though this explains everything. “It tends to be a little more…adaptable, compared to your average commercial model.”

Seokjin reaches up to brush the backs of his fingers down Jungkook’s cheek in the gentlest of caresses, his smile softening.

“I know this must all seem rather overwhelming, but it’s perfectly safe,” he reassures. “I just thought a little extra leg-room might be of benefit – you really ought to have elevated that ankle during your afternoon class, Kookie.”

Jungkook feels himself blushing again (fuck, one day his capillaries will stop being so fucking trigger-happy, but today is not that day), a tiny wry smile tugging at his lips.

“Sorry,” he apologises, because that’s something else he seems to do a lot around his new hyungs. “Guess it slipped my mind.”

Jimin rubs his shin above his injured (and admittedly quite impressively swollen) ankle. “I’m sure Namjoon-hyung will have something to get rid of the swelling,” the blond says with cheery confidence. “And something to heal up TaeTae’s sunburn while he’s at it.”

“Shut up,” the younger vampire gripes, but it lacks any real heat.

Remembering Jin’s comment about Taehyung catching the sun earlier, Jungkook turns to take a closer look at his bondmate. The fully-tinted windows make the lighting in the back of the car dim enough that the discolouration is less obvious than it might otherwise have been, but there’s definitely a pinkish tinge to the vampire’s cheeks, darker along the top of his cheekbones and the bridge of his nose.

Jungkook makes a quiet, displeased noise in the back of his throat, reaching out to ghost his fingertips against the sun-warmed skin.

Gently catching his hand, Taehyung smiles and kisses his fingers.

“It’s fine, baby, it’ll be gone in a few hours,” Tae reassures. “Happens all the time.”

Jimin grunts in sardonic agreement, and Jin exhales a somewhat exasperated sigh.

“Far more often than it should, my love,” the older vampire agrees, his tone caught somewhere between fondly amused and gently chiding as he reaches up to cluck Taehyung beneath the chin. “One of these days, I’m going to charm those sunglasses permanently onto your face.”

Taehyung just smiles beatifically.

Jin sighs again with an indulgent look, nudging Jimin up from the floor and rechecking the stability of the stool beneath Jungkook’s ankle before scooting backwards out of the car.

“Seatbelts, darlings,” he reminds them, before closing the backseat door.

Tae reaches over to fasten Jungkook in before he even has chance to look for the belt himself, and again he’s caught between giving into that mild twinge of embarrassment (because he actually can look after himself in the most basic sense, honest to god) and a warm flutter of satisfaction at the vampire’s attentiveness. A cool hand slips into his own, and Jungkook glances down to see Taehyung intertwining their fingers, feeling the resultant burst of happy-love-contentment that pulses warmly in his chest. He’s slowly starting to understand what their bond feels like after a few brief experiences, and there’s genuinely nothing better than being able to sense the vampire’s happiness as though it’s his own.

“Is this okay?” Taehyung asks tentatively, giving his hand a squeeze. “Jin-hyung said I didn’t need to use the gloves anymore, since you already know about the bond – not unless I get upset about something, anyway. But if it’s too much-”

“No,” Jungkook interrupts, unintentionally gripping Tae’s hand tighter for a second, before forcing himself to relax again. “No, you’re fine. I like it.”

Taehyung’s smile softens, and he leans in to kiss the corner of Jungkook’s mouth tenderly.

“Okay. But if you need me to let go, just say so.”

On the other side of Taehyung, Jimin makes a quiet noise of adoration, hands pressed against his cheeks.

“You two are so fucking cute,” the older vampire coos, regarding them both with a tender gaze. Then his expression brightens anew, and he turns to open a concealed compartment next to his seat. “Hey, are you thirsty? We’ve got…pretty much everything, to be honest. Geez, hyung really keeps this thing stocked up.”

“Kookie likes melon soda,” Taehyung supplies helpfully.

Jungkook’s touched that the vampire remembers that one offhand comment he’d made during their first proper date two days ago. They’d talked about so much that evening, he’s surprised Tae managed to recollect such a small detail.

“One melon soda coming right up,” Jimin promises, and moment later he’s reaching over Taehyung to pass him the ice-cold can. “Tae, hon, you want anything?”

The younger vampire shakes his head. “I’m good. Here, baby let me get that for you.”

Jungkook had been trying to open the can one-handed, unwilling to relinquish his comforting grip on Taehyung, the can wedged between his knees as he tries to get a thumbnail beneath the tab. Taehyung reaches over with his free hand and effortlessly pops the tab open with his little finger.

Right. Enhanced strength. That’s something he keeps forgetting about.

“Oh! Did you see that news article from this morning?” Tae suddenly asks, pulling out his phone. “About the new tribe of merfolk they just found near the Bermuda Triangle? Apparently there’s like hundreds of them, a whole colony, they’ve been living in this giant sea cavern below the surface…”

Jungkook rests his head against Taehyung’s shoulder as the vampire angles the phone towards him, smiling as he lets his bondmate blabber on enthusiastically about the once-thought-extinct species and the lost city of Atlantis and how Tae had always dreamed of meeting a living merman, how he knows there has to be more of them out there.

“I mean we’ve only explored, what, ninety percent of the ocean so far?” the vampire continues passionately. “And that area near the Bermuda Triangle has been surveyed so many times because of all the shipwrecks and stuff in the past – if they didn’t notice a whole colony of merfolk right under their radar, who’s to say there aren’t more cities scattered across our coastline, hidden from sight?”

“Tae’s a nature-documentary addict,” Jimin reveals in a stage-whisper, glancing over at Jungkook with a fond grin. “Once he gets started, there’s really no stopping him. He’ll be researching merfolk for the rest of the month.”

“But it’s so cool,” Tae enthuses, turning the phone to show Jimin. “Look at their architecture!”

“You’ve already shown me, hon,” the older vampire reminds him, amused.

“Their history is pretty interesting, though,” Jungkook acknowledges. “I did a project on merfolk for my art class last year; spent hours researching their culture and studying old paintings. Filled like three whole sketchbooks full of drawings – even tried my hand at sculpting, although that didn’t go so well. I’m definitely more of a sketcher.”

“You draw?” Jimin asks curiously, putting away his own phone and giving Jungkook his full attention.

“Oooh, can I see? Do you have photos?” Tae presses keenly.

Jungkook’s usually a lot more reserved about showing people his artwork outside of the classroom, with the exception of Binnie and Yugyeom. He kinda sees his drawings as something private, almost like an extension of himself, and the fear of someone rejecting his work or critiquing it too harshly often makes him too paranoid to share the finished product with his wider friends group.

But he finds himself wanting to share that secret part of him with Jimin and Tae, his usual inhibitions falling away so easily yet again as he pulls his phone out and opens up his gallery, scrolling through his albums until he reaches the one specifically reserved for his art class sketches.

“They’re nothing special,” he forewarns. “Sometimes I just wanna doodle but it always kinda turns into a full-page sketch, you know?”

“Ohmygod,” Jimin breathes, leaning over Tae to adjust the angle of his phone, studying the image more closely. “You drew that? Kookie, babe, holy fuck…”

Jungkook feels his cheeks heat up again, unable to keep his lips from curling into a pleased little smile, satisfaction blooming in his chest at their positive reactions. It’s not like he needed anyone’s validation, not really – he’s proud of his artwork, that’s why he stubbornly refuses to give up on his evening classes even though they’re not covered by his scholarship and it invariably ends up costing him a third of his annual wages. It’s so fucking worth it, though – the quality of his recent work compared to the sketches he’d submitted just over a year ago, aish...it’s like he used to draw blindfolded or something. Maybe he won’t ever be able to pursue art as a full-time career like he wants to (his parents would be so fucking disappointed if he dropped out of university for the sake of his ‘hobby’), but being able to dabble in sketching and painting on the side will be a huge stress-relief if nothing else. Besides, if he keeps working hard at it, he might even be able to sell a few pieces one day. Yugyeom’s been begging Jungkook to draw him a tattoo for his twenty-first birthday (he’s got several pages of ideas sketched out already), and if it turns out okay then that’s always an option for a little extra on-the-side while he’s finishing his business degree.

“Fuck, I wanna get that one on a t-shirt,” Taehyung admires, leaning over the phone as he zooms in on the watercolour merman sketch. “This is a fucking masterpiece, dude, how are you even real?”

Aigoo. Being praised feels really fucking nice.

Jungkook could get used to this.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

.

“Namjoon-hyung won’t be long,” Jimin announces cheerfully as he slips back inside the healer’s clinic room, closing the door behind him and tossing a bag-like object over to Seokjin with a quick flick of his wrist. “The receptionist said he’s helping one of the apprentices set up something in the hydro-suite, but they’re almost done.”

Jungkook sends the vampire a grateful smile, then sucks in a sharp little startled breath when his ankle throbs in protest as it’s suddenly lifted up onto the pillows that have materialised at the foot of the examination bed.

“Sorry, little one,” Jin murmurs, and settles the gel-pack that Jimin had thrown to him over the swollen joint (fuck, cold, freezing, ow). “There now, that ought to help keep the swelling down in the meantime.”

Although Jungkook knows it’s for his own good, he can’t help but grimace internally as the harsh chill of the icepack temporarily intensifies the ache in his ankle, the biting cold seeping in bone-deep. He grits his teeth against the urge to pull his ankle away, muscles growing tense with the strain of holding himself still. He hates ice. For as long as he can remember, Jungkook’s skin has always been ridiculously sensitive to extreme temperature changes (although he can shovel down both frozen bingsu and scalding-hot noodles no problem – his mouth seems to be the one exception to that rule), and it’s probably got a lot to do with his dormant hybrid genes. Full-blooded bunny hybrids have the ability to develop a very fine insulating coat during the winter months (barely thicker than peach fuzz) that helps them to conserve body heat, but Jungkook’s never been able to do that. He sometimes gets a tingling sensation all over his skin when the temperature drops, something a little like goosebumps but worse, which he knows is his body’s way of trying to trigger the emergence of that insulating layer, but it’s no good; his very-definitely-human hair follicles apparently don’t give a shit how freezing it is. It’s nothing a few extra layers won’t fix, but sometimes in the depth of winter he wishes he could swap his irritatingly heightened olfactory senses for a soft coat of fur.

Still, it does mean that he and Binnie have amassed an impressive collection of thick, fluffy blankets to cocoon themselves in during movie nights, so he can’t really complain.

“It is too cold, darling?” Jin asks, studying his face with gentle concern. “Would you like me to wrap it in something first?”

Jungkook forces a smile to hide his grimace and shakes his head. “No thanks, I’m good. Totally okay. Feels great.”

Oh sure, that sounded convincing.

The vampire regards him for another beat before decisively lifting the freezing compress away again.

“I’m going to wrap it.”

Despite feeling a little embarrassed that he can’t even tolerate an icepack (aigoo, could he look any more pathetic in front of Tae’s nestmates?), Jungkook’s grateful for the vampire’s perceptiveness, tensed muscles relaxing now that the frozen-torture-pack has been removed, a faint blush heating his cheeks as he leans into his bondmate’s side.

Taehyung sits perched on the edge of the bed beside him, an arm draped loosely over Jungkook’s shoulders in a casual side-hug, bare fingers just barely grazing against the skin above the collar of Kookie’s hoodie. The maknae vampire hasn’t stopped touching him since they first held hands in the backseat of Jin’s car, and Jungkook feels more than a little drunk on the cosy-contentedness that’s settled snugly beneath his breastbone, especially since he knows half of those fuzzy feelings are coming from Taehyung himself through their growing bond. His ankle might be sore as heck, but the tenderness Tae and Jimin had shown him on the journey over from SNU has left him feeling warm and happy and floaty, and he hadn’t even felt inclined to voice a token protest when Jin had insisted on carrying him inside.

Honestly, being doted on feels pretty fucking awesome.

Now that he’s not weighed down by exhaustion or suffering from that horrible all-consuming grogginess he’d been experiencing yesterday afternoon, he actually has the brain power to pay close attention to his surroundings this time around. And man had post-migraine Jungkook overlooked a whole fuckton of awesome shit.

Because Namjoon’s office? It’s fucking beautiful.

The deep green moss that covers the ceiling is speckled with tiny flowers, their white-and-blue petals so bright they almost appear to give off a light of their own. Numerous species of vine-like plants crisscross their way over each of the room’s four walls, curling around lampstands and climbing up bookshelves, clinging to almost every available surface. Their leaves vary in size and colour, from bright chartreuse to a deep juniper, intermingling in places where the wall-crawlers have grown over and around each other. Large yellow flowers bloom on the ivy-green vines that cling to one of the tall cabinets of assorted glass jars (filled with dried herbs and tinctures and colourful powders), and pale pink blossoms light up the archway above the door, forming a decorative border around the ancient runes carved into the wood there. Wherever he looks there’s just so much colour, so much life. Compared to the white, sterile examination rooms he’s visited on occasion at Seoul General Hospital, this place almost feels like a botanic garden.

Despite his diluted genes, like most hybrids he finds himself far more comfortable and at-ease in such a nature-dense environment. Which, he guesses, is probably one of the main reasons Namjoon has nurtured the plants to grow wild and free across his walls like this; forest-folk (Fae and Nymphs in particular) have such a strong connection with the woodland they’re born into that a bare, sterile room like the ones at Seoul General Hospital would probably feel horribly stifling. 

“Aish, Tae,” Jimin suddenly sighs, stepping up to the bedside and gently pinching the younger vampire’s chin to turn his head towards him. “Your face looks even redder in this light. Hyung’s not gonna be happy when he sees how bad it is.”

Taehyung pouts, but doesn’t pull away from his nestmate’s grip. “I was only outside for half an hour,” he gripes. “Forty minutes, tops. And I even wore that dumb hat!”

“You shouldn’t have been outside at all, stupid,” Jimin grumbles, but there’s no real heat to his scolding as he tilts Tae’s head this way and that, studying his reddened skin. “Especially on a day like this. You know how easy your skin burns.”

“But Joon-hyung said my tolerance was getting better last month,” the younger vampire protests, the plaintive whine in his voice making Jungkook smile a little, because oh fuck he’s cute.

Jimin leans in to kiss the pout from Tae’s lips, clucking him beneath the chin as he pulls away again. “Building up daylight tolerance takes years, honey. You’re still just a fledgling – give it time.”

“Spring’s coming to an end,” Jin adds softly, carefully settling the towel-wrapped compress on top of Jungkook’s swollen ankle (holy- where had the towel come from? Kookie swears the vampire never left the room) and moving over to stand behind Jimin, reaching around him to cup Taehyung’s burnt cheek in a tender palm. “It’s your first summer as a fledgling, which means you’ll need be careful outside – the sun will seem to burn far brighter and hotter than it ever used to, and your body isn’t ready for that yet. A few weeks ago, an hour or two walking under cloud-cover wouldn’t have hurt you, but in the coming months I’m afraid ten minutes in direct sunlight will be more than enough to irritate your skin. You won’t be able to tolerate periods of daylight as you once did, not without additional protection.”

Taehyung sighs, still pouting even as he nods. “I know,” he acknowledges, defeated. “That’s what Namjoon-hyung keeps telling me. But I just get so frustrated sometimes, staying indoors when it looks so nice out.”

“How about we go hunting for parasols tomorrow evening?” Jin offers, fingertips gently styling Tae’s fringe. “And I’ve noticed that Eclipse have been advertising a new summer range on Instagram, it all looks exquisite.”

Taehyung visibly brightens. “Ooh, shopping spree?”

Seokjin hums a quiet affirmative, gently tapping the nestling’s nose, but Tae’s answering cheer is cut short as a quiet knock on the door echoes through the clinic room.

“Ah, there he is,” Jin says brightly, turning towards the entrance as Taehyung gives Jungkook’s shoulders a brief sideways squeeze and hops down from the examination bed. “Come in, dear. I doubt you need permission to enter your own office.”

The door swings open as Namjoon steps over the threshold with a quiet laugh, cheeks dimpling as he smiles towards his mate.

“Seemed like the polite thing to do,” the healer reasons cheerfully, lifting a hand to caress Jin’s cheek as the elder vampire steps up to greet him with a chaste kiss. “Sorry for keeping you waiting.”

Namjoon’s white shirt is damp in places, like he’s been splashed with water, the patches of sheer fabric clinging to torso in a way that accentuates his built physique. He’s got his shirtsleeves rolled all the way up above his elbows, the dark outlines of intricate tattoos peeking out beneath the edges of the bunched-up cuffs, and Jungkook finds himself very interested in seeing those in more detail – he knows healer tattoos aren’t just about body art, they’re used to mark specific gifts that the wearer has mastered, often interspersed with ancient runes thought to help enhance a healer’s powers. He wonders how many Namjoon has earned during his years of practice, and whether the ink is confined to just his biceps or if he’s hiding more beneath his shirt than just impressive muscle definition.

The thought makes his skin prickle with heat, and for a second he feels tiny bit ashamed, because mentally ogling Tae’s hyung seems a lot like cheating. But it’s not like he’s thirsting after Namjoon or anything, he’s just…appreciating the aesthetics.

“Hey, hyung!”

Jimin skips across the room and launches himself at his nest-leader, displaying more youthful energy than Jungkook’s seen in him previously. The dancer isn’t particularly stoic or anything (on the contrary, he’s always quick to smile and laugh), but around Tae and Jungkook there’s a definite edge of hyung-appropriate authority…something that Jimin is showing no sign of at the moment as he lets Namjoon wrap him up in a tight embrace, laughing when the healer lifts him up off the floor.

A part of Jungkook feels like he’s intruding on a private moment here. It’s not that vampires aren’t affectionate with each other in public (because Kookie knows first-hand that they’re every bit as tactile as hybrids and werefolk, sometimes even more so in Eunwoo’s case), but he’s never really seen Namjoon interact with anyone other than Taehyung before, and yesterday he’d been so caught up in his own post-migraine oversensitive emotions that he hadn’t really been paying a lot of attention to everything else going on in the background.

There’s something breathtakingly intimate about the way Namjoon looks at Jimin as he sets him back down on his feet, the possessive manner in which his fingers linger in the dancer’s throat as he strokes along his jawline, such a wealth of tenderness in his greeting kiss that it leaves Jungkook a little flustered, torn between feeling obliged to look away to give the two vampires some privacy, and trying not to blink so that he doesn’t miss anything. Namjoon’s lips have curled into an affectionate smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he clucks Jimin beneath the chin, gaze resting on the dancer’s upturned face for a long moment.

And then those warm amber eyes are turning towards Jungkook, and oh, how had he managed to forget how incredible it felt to be pinned beneath Namjoon’s tender gaze? The depth of affection he sees there both surprises and thrills him, and he finds himself returning the healer’s smile, suddenly feeling shy.

“Hi, hyung,” Jungkook greets, dipping his head in a brief, polite bow as best he can from his semi-reclined position.

“Hey, kiddo,” the healer returns warmly, moving to perch on the edge of the bed. “I hear you got into an argument with some stairs?”

“Yeah…” His expression turning wry, Jungkook glances towards his elevated foot. “I think the stairs might’ve won.”

Namjoon blesses him with another dimpled smile.

“Mm,” the vampire agrees, reaching out to brush Kookie’s fringe back from his forehead, briefly pressing the flat of his hand to the youth’s brow as he searches his eyes. “At least you managed to avoid landing on your head. Oh! Your energy feels so much brighter today. Did you sleep well?”

“I turned in early last night,” the youth admits, savouring that cosy feeling of security as Namjoon’s magic touch puts his whole body immediately at ease. “Figured my body needed the downtime after everything that happened yesterday.”

The healer seems pleased by his answer, dimpled smile softening.

“Good boy.”

Jungkook’s heart gives a weak flutter, heat flooding his cheeks, and if he was standing he’s pretty sure his legs would’ve turned to jelly.

Ohh shit, he likes that. He likes that a lot.

It isn’t the first time he’s been praised offhandedly; Jaebum and Mark and the other hyungs casually drop those kind of phrases all the time in everyday conversations – ‘good pup’ and ‘well done, cub’ and a dozen similar remarks. It’s natural for wolves to praise their dongsaengs, as much an intrinsic part of pack-culture as scenting and tactile affection. Jungkook’s always appreciated those little words of encouragement, each acting like a verbal backhug to remind him that he’s considered part of the Im-pack right alongside Yugyeom.

But hearing it from Namjoon’s lips is totally different. It’s so much more, and fuck, Kookie really hadn’t been prepared for the immediate effect those words would have on him.

Either not noticing Jungkook’s fierce blush or choosing not to draw attention to it, Namjoon’s hands move to gently cradle Jungkook’s face, long cool fingers cupping his flushed cheeks.

“How’s your head been today?”

“Much better,” Jungkook manages, sounding miraculously composed all things considered (thank fuck for small mercies), closing his eyes briefly as Namjoon’s thumb sweeps down the bridge of his nose. The touch feels so soothing, even if he doesn’t have a migraine. “Honestly, I haven’t felt this awake on a Monday in months.

“It’s amazing what happens when you actually let your body recharge its batteries,” Namjoon agrees, his tone both teasing and gently chiding. Then the healer suddenly sits back a little, glancing around with a faintly furrowed brow. “Wait. Where’s Tae?”

Jungkook blinks, his own gaze darting around the room. “Uh. He was here a second ago…”

Jin sighs softly, fondly, attracting their attention. Arms crossed casually over his chest as he leans against the wall nearby (the leafy-green vines almost seem to be petting him, but maybe it’s just a trick of the light), the vampire tilts his head towards the door that’s still ajar.

“Tae’s safe,” Jin reassures. “Slipped out while Jimin had you distracted, the little brat, but he hasn’t gone far.” The vampire closes his eyes briefly, lips twitching up. “He’s hiding out by the vending machines, playing Candy Crush.”

Namjoon arches an eyebrow curiously. “And he’s hiding because…?”

“He probably doesn’t want you seeing his face,” Jimin supplies, having pushed himself up to sit on the edge of Namjoon’s desk, legs swinging. “TaeTae caught the sun this afternoon.”

“Again?” Namjoon sighs, faintly exasperated. “Aish, that boy. How bad is it?”

Jimin shrugs. “Not great, but he’s had worse. And a least he wore the hat this time. I tried to make him wait in the car, but he was worried about Kookie, and you know how stubborn he can be once he’s got his heart set on something.”

“Mm,” the healer acknowledges, gaze shifting back towards the door, brow still faintly furrowed like he’s thinking of heading out to fetch his errant nestling himself.

“I’ll go talk to him, hyung,” Jimin offers, hopping down from the desk. “But…maybe save the scolding for when we get home? He’s had a pretty stressful day. Yoongi-hyung kinda freaked him out a little bit first thing this morning; not on purpose, but you know how vague his predictions can be sometimes. And then Tae was on the phone to Kookie when the accident happened, so he’s been kicking himself about it all afternoon…”

Understanding dawns in Namjoon’s eyes, shoulders drooping a little. “A self-fulfilling prophecy? Yeah, those are never fun.” The healer sighs, then smiles wryly. “Tell him he isn’t in trouble – this time. Given that his bond’s still fairly new, I’ll chalk it up to extenuating circumstances. But I’d like to look at those burns all the same.”

Jimin nods, leaning in to peck Namjoon on the cheek and ruffle Jungkook’s hair before he strides out of the room, closing the door behind him.

Being left alone with two of Tae’s eldest nestmates probably ought to feel a lot more intimidating than it does, but Jungkook finds himself perfectly at ease in their company. Maybe it’s the tenderness and affection they’ve shown in their treatment of him so far, the gentleness in their touch, the way they both seem to look at him like he’s something precious and fragile. And honestly? A small part of him really likes suddenly being the sole focus of their attention.

“So,” Namjoon prompts, turning back towards him, “want to tell me happened with the stairs?”

“Uh…” Jungkook gives an embarrassed little shrug. “Guess I missed one?”

The healer laughs at that, soft and warm and fond, and Jungkook decides that it’s probably the most beautiful sound he’s ever heard in his whole life, and vows to do everything in his power to make Namjoon laugh like that on a daily basis for the foreseeable future.

Oh. Yikes, he’s got it bad.

“Is it alright if I examine you?” Namjoon asks. At Jungkook’s easy nod, he smiles again and adds, “If you feel uncomfortable at any point, just let me know and I’ll stop, okay?”

After waiting for another nod of affirmation, Namjoon’s hands move up to settle either side of his neck, before smoothing over his shoulders and slowly trailing down his arms, leaving a tingling warmth in their wake. When the healer’s touch reaches his wrists (hidden beneath the baggy sleeves of his hoodie), Namjoon grips them gently to turn his hands over, bringing them up to study the scuffed skin of his palms. The cuts are already starting to knit over, thick scabs and purpling bruises littering the area that had been red-raw and swollen only a few hours earlier. By tomorrow evening it’ll mostly be gone thanks to his enhanced healing, but it still feels pretty tender to touch, and Jungkook winces as Namjoon gently presses against the surrounding tissue and manipulates his wrists and fingers to check for fractures.

“It’s just a scrape, hyung,” he reassures, but doesn’t try to pull his hands away, letting the healer finish his examination.

The vampire guides his wrists back down again after a moment, and gently skims his hands down Jungkook’s torso, palm flattening against his abdomen as the healer closes his eyes. A tingling sort of heat seems to emanate from that single point of contact, rolling outwards in pulsing waves from head to toe. Jungkook’s throbbing ankle suddenly feels hot beneath the icepack.

“That’s quite a nasty sprain you’ve got there, Kookie,” Namjoon murmurs, opening his eyes again and patting the youth’s waist in sympathy, gaze travelling down to his elevated foot. “But it isn’t broken. Let me check for ligament damage, and then I’ll see what I can do to help with the swelling.”

Moving to the foot of the bed, Namjoon removes the cold compress and cups his hands around the injured joint, closing his eyes again for a moment. He makes a quiet noise of displeasure in the back of his throat, brow creasing faintly as he tilts his head to one side.

“You’ve sprained it before – quite recently, as a matter of fact,” he comments, and tsks softly. “And you didn’t give it nearly enough time to heal before you started walking on it again. Let’s not have a repeat of that mistake, hm?”

Just when Jungkook thinks he’s witnessed the extent of Namjoon’s abilities, the vampire does something else to demonstrate just how skilled he is in the art of healing. How the hell is he able to sense the mild sprain Jungkook had suffered three weeks ago? It had totally healed up within a couple of days, surely there can’t be any residual damage left over after all this time that could give him away?

Namjoon opens his eyes, his expression both fond and gently chiding. “Is taking a tumble down a flight of stairs a habit of yours?”

Jungkook feels his cheeks grow hot again. “Well…not intentionally.”

“Poor love,” Jin chuckles, stepping up behind the raised head of the examination bed to smooth down Jungkook’s hair with gentle fingers. “I’d wager you’re every bit as clumsy as Namjoonie here.”

Now that revelation comes as a surprise. Namjoon seems so outwardly calm and controlled, Jungkook honestly can’t picture him being anything close to clumsy. But the healer’s smile has curled into a lopsided, self-deprecating grin, and he spreads his hands with an easy shrug.

“What can I say? I’m easily distracted.”

“And tragically unaware of your immediate surroundings,” Jin tacks on, but there’s a great deal of affection in his voice as he regards the healer fondly.

“Mm, that too,” Namjoon agrees, flashing the elder vampire a dimpled smile before shifting his gaze to Jungkook. “I was out collecting sapphire moss the first time we met,” he confesses. “It grows best on the upper branches of silver larch trees. Unfortunately, I’m not the most…graceful climber, but I was pretty determined in my apprentice years.”

Seokjin muffles a derisive snort at that. “Young and impetuous, you mean.”

Jungkook flinches as the healer’s thumb brushes against a particularly tender spot, and Namjoon glances up at him, shifting his grip carefully to lay a single palm over the top of his ankle, free hand moving up to trace a swirling pattern along the youth’s shin with his index finger.

“Anyway, I succeeded in reaching a healthy growth of moss on one of the taller trees,” the healer continues cheerfully, his chatter offering an appreciated distraction as Jungkook’s lower leg begins to tingle strangely. “Filled up my pouch to the brim, and boy was I pleased with myself. And then I saw him - the most beautiful being I’d ever laid eyes on, walking through the forest a little ways ahead of me. It was like the world stopped turning for a moment; I was mesmerised. And when he glanced up, our eyes met, our souls connected-”

“-and you toppled backwards out of the tree,” Jin finishes blandly.

“Well, you know…” Namjoon shoots his mate another dimpled smile. “One could almost say I fell for you.”

A surprised laugh escapes Jungkook’s lips, which he quickly tries to muffle behind his hand, and Namjoon grins at him, clearly satisfied at the reaction. Jin groans, fondly exasperated.

“Don’t encourage him, darling,” the elder of the two vampires beseeches in a longsuffering tone. “He’s been telling that joke for decades. There are times I regret catching him all those years ago.”

The fondness in Jin’s gaze belies his words, and Jungkook’s own smile softens as he glances between the two vampires, warmth swelling in his chest at the tender way they regard each other. They’re so fucking sweet. He hopes that years in the future, he and Taehyung will still be that deeply in love with one another.

“There.” Namjoon finally breaks his gaze away from Jin to trace one last rune against Jungkook’s shin. “How does that feel, sweetheart?”

Honestly? A little bit like his leg’s gone dead – like he’s been sitting cross-legged for too long and cut off the circulation, only without the painful tingling he normally experiences as the blood flow begins to return. It’s just…numb.

“Whoa,” he breathes, wiggling his toes experimentally and flexing his foot, delighted when his ankle doesn’t give so much as a twinge. “The pain’s totally gone, that’s amazing…

“Careful!” Namjoon chides with a laugh, hands quickly moving to immobilise the joint. “You’ll aggravate the sprain, kiddo. I’ve put a temporary nerve-block in place while the injury’s healing, but you’ll need to go easy on it for the next couple of days. I’ll whip up a poultice that should help speed things along and reduce the inflammation, but it’ll still need time to heal. No weight-bearing on that foot for the next twenty-four hours, okay?”

Jungkook nods, mentally thanking his lucky stars that he has an art class scheduled for tomorrow evening and not another dance practice. All being well, his ankle should’ve healed up nicely by Wednesday and he can join the rest of his team at the studio as planned.

“Have you still got a pair of crutches from the last time you sprained it?” the healer asks, moving over to the workspace near the sink, pulling a large marble mortar and pestle towards him and plucking a few green leaves from the nearest wall-crawler. “Or do you need new ones?”

“Um…” Jungkook fidgets, unsure whether or not it’s wise to admit that he’s never really used crutches for any of his previous sprains. “I think I’ll be okay, thanks.”

Jin fixes him with a searching look as Namjoon drops the leaves into the mortar and moves to fetch a few jars down from his cabinet of tinctures.

“That wasn’t quite the answer Joonie was looking for, dear,” the vampire murmurs, a long-fingered hand settling gently over the back of his neck, and oh shit, it’s like Jin’s looking straight into his soul – look away, look away! “Do you have a set of crutches at home?”

Fuck.

Jungkook’s cheeks prickle with heat again. “I…no, hyung.” He sees Namjoon pause in his ingredient-gathering, and quickly adds, “But I’ll be totally fine without them, honest. I can just hop around the apartment, and Binnie can help me go down the stairs if the elevator breaks again.”

“Jungkookie.” Namjoon’s turned around to face him again, hands on his hips, and with his sleeves still rolled up above his elbows it gives the stance an additional edge of sternness, one that leaves Jungkook feeling more than a little cowed. “Bunny hybrid or not, you can’t just hop around on one foot for the next two days, you’ll end up straining your other leg, or toppling over and breaking something. We talked about the importance of prioritising your health yesterday, and properly taking care of your injuries is a big part of that. I’d like you to use the crutches, please.”

The youth nods, subdued. “Yes, hyung.”

Namjoon’s stance relaxes, his expression softening. “Good boy,” he murmurs, and turns back towards his workstation.

Fuckfuckfuck.

“Joon-ah was telling me about another conversation the two of you had yesterday evening,” Jin mentions, perching on the edge of the examination bed, gently taking one of Jungkook’s hands in his. “Regarding your work-life balance and financial situation. Have you managed to get in touch with your employers yet?”

Shaking his head, Jungkook lowers his gaze to where their hands are touching, a little mesmerised by the vampire’s long fingers and perfectly manicured nails, watching as Jin’s thumb strokes back and forth over his knuckles.

“I’m gonna quit my night job,” he promises. “It’s just…my boss isn’t the easiest guy to talk to over the phone, and he never checks his emails, so I’ll need to go to the store in person to hand in my notice. I was gonna do it after school today but…well, things didn’t quite go as planned. I think I’ll probably need to work another few weekends anyway, I’m pretty sure the contract asks for a minimum of two weeks’ notice.”

Namjoon pauses again, midway through grinding up an assortment of herbs and powders and dark-coloured tinctures in his marble mortar.

“You don’t have to work your notice, bunny,” the healer reassures, glancing back towards him. “Those nightshifts are putting your health at risk. I can write you a formal note of medical exemption; that should overrule any clauses in your contract.”

“Perhaps we can go to your workplace after Joonie’s finished fixing you up?” Jin suggests, squeezing his hand. “Get it over and done with. I’ll be right there with you in case your employer decides to make things difficult.”

Jungkook nods again, seeing the logic in getting it over with sooner rather than later, and appreciating the vampire’s offer to accompany him. He’d initially intended to go with Yugyeom and Binnie (for moral support) before they headed to dance class, but he figures a badass super-powerful vampire is a pretty decent backup option.

“Oh, and I spoke with your landlord this morning,” Jin tacks on casually. “He was more than happy to let me pay upfront for the next six months, so be sure to cancel your monthly bank transfers before the end of next week.”

Jungkook freezes, his gaze shooting up to stare at the vampire, wide-eyed.

“I wasn’t certain which company handled your electricity and water bills,” the elder continues calmly. “So I’ve given you a little extra allowance to cover any domestic utilities.”

“Allowance?” Jungkook echoes, his mind reeling. “Hyung…”

The vampire’s lips curl up slowly into a fond smile as he reaches out to gently card his fingers through Jungkook’s hair.

“As Joonie told you yesterday, you’re a part of our nest now, little one,” Jin murmurs. “Which means I’m well within my rights to spoil you every bit as much as I do TaeTae and Jimin. Your allowance should cover anything you might need in the immediate future, but if there’s something in particular that you’d like, you need only ask.”

He’s rendered speechless for a moment by the sheer generosity of the offer, emotions welling up inside him thick and fast until his throat feels clogged with it and his eyes sting traitorously.

“Thank you,” he manages after a beat, hoarse and just a tad wobbly but as sincere as he can possibly make it because holy fuck, Jin and Namjoon have literally just solved a two-year-long financial crisis like it’s nothing at all. “But you don’t have to…it’s too much, hyung, you can’t-”

“I can, and I have,” the vampire reaffirms gently, leaning in to press a gentle kiss to his hairline, the way Jaebum often does when Jungkook arrives at the Den bone-tired and in need of a cuddle. It’s a very hyung thing to do, and Jungkook melts instantly. “Because you’re a sweetheart who deserves nice things, Jeon Jungkook.”

Oh.

Don’t cry, Kookie. Don’t.

“Aw, baby,” Jin murmurs, concerned, and opens his arms to Jungkook, who falls into the hug without a moment’s hesitation, grateful to hide his tears against the vampire’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Jungkook shakes his head a little, unable to speak but wanting to communicate that he isn’t upset, he’s not, he’s just so fucking overwhelmed by everything and he’s really not good with emotions.

“Ah,” the vampire acknowledges, hand smoothing down the hair at the back of his head. “Happy tears?”

A tiny nod, and Jin hums, hugging him tighter.

“Me too, sweetheart.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Jungkook’s glad he had the forethought to sit down before finally logging into his mobile banking app, because holy shit.

Holy. Freaking. Shit.

His breath leaves him in a shaky whoosh, hands suddenly clammy as the bottom drops out of his stomach, staring wide-eyed at the figure on the screen. There are so many digits that at first glance he misreads the number, but when his jittery gaze finally locates the point-zero-one at the very end of that long line of numbers, he takes a closer look at the preceding row of digits, and promptly drops his phone.

“Oh my god,” he breathes, fumbling to pick it up again, this time using a shaky finger to manually count how many numbers precede that tiny (but oh so significant) decimal point. “Oh my god!”

Almost on reflex he flings the device away from him again, body suddenly thrumming with such restless energy that he can barely contain himself, hands clenching and unclenching as he watches his phone land with bounce against the pink poop-emoji cushion Sanha had bought Binnie for his last birthday. Both of his hands come up to fist his hair as he sucks in several deep, ragged breaths. He’s borderline hyperventilating, and he’s probably crying a little, and the strangled laugh that escapes his tight throat is definitely verging on hysterical, but he can’t help it.

Because it’s so much money. Oh god, it’s so much money.

And Seokjin-hyung had called it an allowance? Holy fuck.

He pulls his knees up to his chest, only belatedly remembering his injured ankle when it twinges dully, still half-numbed by whatever magic-healing-mojo Namjoon had used on him back at the clinic a couple of hours ago. Recalling the healer’s cautionary words, he dutifully straightens that leg out to rest across the couch, propping up his bandaged heel on the edge of the poop emoji cushion. His phone slides sideways as the cushion dips, lighting up again at the motion (having dimmed briefly), and even upside-down the long row of digits still displayed across the screen makes his stomach give a fluttering swoop.

God, how’s he ever supposed to spend that much money on himself? Even after he’s paid for night classes at the art studio and deducted all the utility bills for the next six months, that’ll barely have put a dent in his new ‘allowance’. What else could he possibly use it for?

Well, he does need to buy a new rucksack for uni (the shoulder strap is starting to frey), and some basic school supplies like study books and stationary…oh, and maybe he could splurge on some new watercolours from that art shop near the station. It sells such beautiful pallets, and he’s been wanting a good quality set for years. But no, wouldn’t that be too greedy? Namjoon and Seokjin hadn’t really told him what he could and couldn’t use the money for, but he doesn’t want to take advantage of their generosity and spend it all on frivolous materialistic stuff for himself. Maybe he should open up a savings account and only take it out when he really needs it.

On the other hand, he doesn’t want to seem ungrateful for their financial assistance either, especially since he imagines his new hyungs probably gave him the money because they wanted to help his daily living situation. Thing is, Jin-hyung’s already taken care of his rent, and other than groceries and toiletries, there isn’t much else he and Binnie have to buy in order to sustain themselves comfortably.

Aigoo, who could possible need this much money as their allowance? Jungkook could buy a car, hell, he could buy several fairly decent cars and still have enough left over to pay for his art classes and a year’s worth of bills. It’s too much, it’s way too much, fuck, maybe Seokjin had made a mistake and put the decimal point in the wrong place when he transferred the money earlier today…

 

His phone pings suddenly, the screen lighting up again to reveal a WhatsApp message from the Roomies groupchat, and Jungkook reaches for it eagerly, welcoming the distraction from his current internal crisis.

BinBin: hyung! ❤️ Fire alarm went off at the studio 😌 it’s a false alarm but we can’t go back in until they’ve checked out the building so I’m quitting practice early. Are you home yet? How’s your ankle? Did you call your boss? Want me to back you up? I can look intimidating if you need me to. 😠

Jungkook smiles, instantly calming as he reads the message in Moonbin’s cheerful tone, immediately forgetting about his previous stresses (and aigoo, he definitely never thought he’d be in a position to be stressing out over having too much money).

Kookie: hey dude! 💜 Aw, sucks that practice got cut short. 😐 But I guess that means I won’t miss out on learning the new choreo, so yay!
Kookie: My ankle feels great, just have to use these dumb crutches until it’s better. 😐 I got home a little while ago, Seokjin-hyung drove me. And I already went into work to speak to my boss, it’s all sorted out. No more nightshifts, wooo!! 🙌🙌🙌

The messages are ticked as viewed immediately, and within seconds he gets a reply in the form of multiple celebratory emojis, interspersed with a few crying and praying ones. Jungkook laughs, adding a few of his own, because hell yeah, it feels fucking awesome to finally be free of his crappy night job.

BinBin: OMG hyung I’m legit gonna cry, so happy for you! Fucking nightshifts.❤️ I can’t believe your asshole boss actually let you quit tho? Did he feel bad because you busted you ankle or smth?

Jungkook laughs.

Kookie: Jin-hyung came with me for moral support. I think he made Mr Yan feel nervous. 😌

Understatement of the century right there.

It had all been pretty fucking surreal, actually. In his head he’d built it up to be this big, scary confrontation where he’d inevitably stammer his way through a list of pre-scripted excuses and have them thrown back in his face, but in reality he’d barely had to say anything at all. Admittedly, that probably had a lot to do with the private conversation Seokjin had insisted on having with his boss beforehand.

“Wait here, sweetness,” the vampire had murmured as he smoothly pulled into a parking space that seemed far too small (for a car as big as Jin’s), killing the engine with light rap of his knuckles against the steering wheel. “Mr Yan and I are going to have a little chat about your contract first. I’ll come and fetch you in a couple of minutes, okay?”

And it hadn’t really been up for negotiation. Jungkook had opened his mouth to voice a token protest all the same, but Jin had raised a finger to his lips in a gentle hushing motion, reaching out to cluck Jungkook gently beneath the chin before sliding gracefully out of the car. Then the vampire had smiled at him reassuringly as he stepped back, nudging the door closed with his hip and wiggling his fingers in a dainty wave, before gliding in through the convenience store’s automatic doors and out of sight.

Less than ten minutes later, Jungkook had found himself shaking hands with his now ex-employer, trying to bow as best he could with both crutches wedged under his armpits, balancing on his uninjured foot as Mr Yan thanked him for his many months of hard work and loyal service, and praised his scrupulously clean employee record – which were words Jungkook hadn’t ever expected Mr Yan to use about anyone, let alone a part-time student employee upon whom he had unapologetically dumped all the double weekend nightshifts. Were it not for the very real sensation of the man’s sweaty palms clasping his own a little too tightly, Jungkook might’ve thought he was dreaming.

“There now, little one, I told you everything would work out,” Jin had remarked cheerfully once they were settled back inside the car, Kookie’s leg fully extend in front of him because the laws of physics apparently didn’t apply to the vampire’s semi-sentient vehicle (it just kept elongating to suit his needs in the blink of an eye). “I knew your employer would see reason. And you were wonderfully articulate, my dear.”

Despite the fact that Jungkook hadn’t actually said more than two heavily-rehearsed sentences to his unusually-tense employer (“I’ve come to hand in my letter of resignation” and “I’m really sorry, but I won’t be able to work my twenty days’ notice – but here’s my letter of exemption from a registered Healer”), he’d accepted the praise all the same, because it felt really nice to be complimented by one of his new vampire-hyungs, especially when Seokjin was smiling at him so warmly.

Still, he hadn’t been able to keep his curiosity in check for long.

“What did you say to Mr Yan before I came in?” he’d asked after a short period of comfortable silence, shooting the vampire a tentative sideways glance. “He isn’t usually so…agreeable.”

Seokjin mouth had quirked up at the corners, eyes still focused on the road. “I merely reminded him that his retail licence will likely need renewing within the next few months, and it would be terribly unfortunate if the Seoul Workers Union found out he’d been allocating his student workforce unfair antisocial hours when his part-time contracts clearly stipulate shift flexibility. And since you’d been such a loyal employee to work all those weekend nightshifts without the full overtime pay, I simply suggested he accept your resignation graciously.”

And oh, how Jungkook wishes he’d been a fly on the wall during that conversation; Mr Yan had been the sort of employer who truly revelled in his position of authority (scolding his part-time staff for mistakes that happened when they weren’t even on shift, allocating them impossible tasks and losing his temper when they weren’t completed on time), and it really would’ve been something to see him taken down a peg by the polite-but-somewhat-intimidating Kim Seokjin.

“Now darling, before I take you home,” the vampire had continued brightly as the slowed to a stop at a red light, reaching across the space between the front seats to squirt a cold dollop of grapefruit-scented antibacterial gel into Kookie’s palm (bless Jin’s perceptiveness – he’d still been able to feel Mr Yan’s sweat clinging to his pores, and it wasn’t a pleasant sensation). “There’s a family-owned bakery down by the river that does the most exquisite pastries. Why don’t we choose a selection for you to share with your friends?”

Damn, but Jungkook was a weak, weak man.

Ever since he first laid eyes on them, Jungkook’s been trying his best not to pine after Taehyung’s older nestmates. He knows all six of the vampires are intimately bonded (Tae had been very open and honest about the nature of their nest), but since none of the hyungs have yet to make overtly romantic advances on Jungkook, he doesn’t want to assume that those feelings will ever be extended to him). But Kim Seokjin…aigoo, Jungkook is fucking weak in the face of his easy gentleness and doting nature.

And the pastries he recommended are fucking delicious, and there’s still another dozen or so in the truly enormous take-out selection box Jin had insisted on buying for him, but Jungkook’s been resisting temptation because Moonbin will love the custard tarts even more than he does. Although the box has been staring at him these past few minutes, and he is starting to feel a little peckish again, so maybe he’ll nibble on one of the apple turnovers…

His phone buzzes in his hand, distracting him from his reawakened appetite.

BinBin: Ok, your new hyung sounds pretty badass, I approve. Is he the guy Gyeomie met this afternoon? Because our wolfboy is SHOOK.

Kookie: Yeah lol, I guess he kinda has that effect on people. But he’s super nice! He even bought us pastries to share, and there’s custard tarts.

BinBin: !!!!

BinBin: JIN-HYUNG IS MY NEW FAVOURITE PERSON PLEASE MARRY HIM ASAP ❤️❤️❤️

BinBin: I could actually eat a house right now, I’m so hungry. Why does the studio have to be near so many takeout places? Ugh.

Suddenly remembering that he’s recently acquired a heck of a lot of money, Jungkook realises exactly who he wants to spend it on first.

Kookie: Hey, let’s get delivery. Hyung’s treat.

BinBin: Nonono its fine, I didn’t mean it like that. I can cook us something when I get home. ❤️  You’re the one with the busted ankle, I should be taking care of you today. And with rent coming up we probably shouldn’t splurge too much on food y’know? Besides, you already bought me hotteok last week. ❤️  x

Jungkook bites his lip, momentarily at war with himself. He and Moonbin rarely keep secrets from each other (not big ones, at least), especially when it comes to finances. Up until recently, Binnie had been the only person in the world who knew how often Jungkook’s had to figuratively scrape the bottom of the barrel after paying rent and utilities, and his roommate’s been in a similar position himself – neither of them have opened up about their ongoing financial situation to the rest of their friends, and definitely not to their families (being the only sons of hardworking fathers made them both a little too proud to go asking for help), so being able to confide in each other without judgement has been a huge relief at times.

It won’t be easy to explain (and he already knows the ‘sugar daddy’ jokes are going to be unbearable from this day forth), but Jungkook realises he doesn’t want to keep the truth to himself anymore. Even if Binnie’s the only one he’ll ever have the courage to confess the whole truth to (and maybe Yugyeom, because they’re besties), it’ll ease the burden of carrying around such a big secret. And more importantly, it’ll mean he won’t have to keep thinking of on-the-spot excuses to explain why they don’t need to stick to such a tight food budget anymore.

Kookie: A lot of stuff happened today, it’ll be easier to talk about it in person. So I’m gonna order pizza and chimaek and we’re gonna have chat when you get home. Sound good?

BinBin: pizza AND chimaek?

BinBin: Is it that serious? Are you dying?

BinBin: can I have your new Timberlands?

Jungkook laughs so hard he almost gives himself a stitch, but manages to hold his phone still long enough to send a reply.

Kookie: you’re such a brat

BinBin: love you too hyung! ❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They haven’t ordered delivery since Moonbin’s birthday back in January.

It’s not that they’ve totally deprived themselves of takeout food – every so often they’ll share a tub of tteokbokki from the street stall near the studio, because the owner offers generous student discounts and big portions. And Jaebum always makes a point of inviting them round for dinner whenever the Im-pack are having pizza (although invariably Jungkook’s busy work schedule requires him to turn down the offer). But to really splurge like this on several different kinds of delivery, and from fancy places that aren’t at all cheap – eateries that have raving five-star online reviews and have even been featured in TV food shows because they’re that popular? It’s an indulgence neither of them have previously been able to afford.

Jungkook still feels a little shaken up, knowing how much all of this had cost. It seems wrong somehow – wasteful even – to have spent so much on food in a single sitting, but one look at his roommate’s awed expression banishes those tentative regrets immediately. Binnie deserves a good meal.

“Whoa,” Moonbin breathes, frozen in his spot at the foot of the coffee table, staring wide-eyed as Jungkook continues pulling containers of food out of several giant paper carrier bags. “You really went all-out, hyung. Ai! You shouldn’t be putting weight on your ankle like that – here, sit down, let me do it…”

The cat nudges him gently out of the way, gaze flickering down to Jungkook’s bandaged foot as he kneels beside the paper bags, brow creasing for a moment as his nose wrinkles cutely.

“Why do you smell like lemongrass?”

Jungkook laughs softly as he regains his seat on the couch, reaching out to take the towel draped around Moonbin’s neck, using it to gently scrub at the younger boy’s still-dripping hair (clearly his roommate had heard the delivery guys arriving and decided to skip the drying stage of the whole showering process).

“Namjoon-hyung made this paste out of plants and stuff,” he replies, carefully rubbing at the sodden locks. “It’s supposed to help with the swelling or something.”

“Cool.” Moonbin lifts up the lid of the pizza box and sucks in an adorably delighted gasp. “Oh! You got the fancy Bulgogi set? With potatoes?”

A fond grin curls at his mouth. “That’s your favourite, right?”

Moonbin turns a little in his kneeling position on the floor and glances back and forth between Jungkook and the pizza box several times, looking torn between excitement and concern.

“But hyung,” he quietly frets after a long pause. “It’s so expensive. The premium set costs, like, a whole week’s worth of groceries. And you bought so much chimaek too…”

Jungkook knows how it must look to Moonbin – it is a lot of food, after all, and all from brands they’ve never been able to afford previously. He’d maybe gone a teeny tiny bit overboard ordering from that second fried chicken place, but Binnie loves chimaek, and they still haven’t tried all the flavours despite living within walking distance of one of Seoul’s most popular takeout restaurants. It hadn’t made ordering it any easier, though – every time Jungkook added a new item to the basket on the delivery app, his stomach had twisted a little, alarmed to see the total figure climbing up and up way beyond what he ever would’ve considered paying before today. He’d even exited the app briefly to double-check his bank balance again, just to make sure the money was still there (in case the whole thing had been a figment of his imagination), before he’d finally summoned the courage to confirm the order.

And then, spurred on by how empowering it felt to splurge a little on food for the first time in forever, and because apparently he had no self-restraint anymore when it came to buying stuff that he knew Binnie would love to eat, he’d ordered the Premium Bulgogi set from Pizza Hut too. He’d felt more than a little bit greedy once the order was placed (because the chicken was definitely enough for the two of them, and they didn’t need the pizza), but he knew it would all be worth it when he saw Binnie enjoying the meal and eating his fill.

Jungkook tosses the damp towel aside to comb his fingers through Moonbin’s messy hair, neatening it a little.

“Don’t worry about how much it cost, we’re alright,” he reassures the youth, and boy is that a new and wonderful feeling – being able to say with absolute certainty that things are alright in reference to their current financial situation. “We can afford it, Bin.”

Moonbin tilts his head a little, both a gesture of curiosity and his usual oh-that-feels-nice nuzzle in response to the way Jungkook’s kneading at his scalp.

“I’ll explain everything after we’ve eaten,” Kookie promises, smiling confidently despite the slight nervous fluttering in his stomach at the prospect of needing to find a way to explain everything that’s happened today. “Why don’t you grab us some chopsticks? I ordered that sticky sesame chicken you like. And I got us a box of half-and-half because all the reviews said the classic set is really good. Oh, and the spicy set Sanha’s been wanting us to try, that’s been on your bucket list for a while now.”

The youth’s expression brightens in an instant, and he leans in to plant an exaggerated ‘mwah’ of a kiss against Jungkook’s cheek before dashing off to the kitchen for plates and cups and cutlery.

As anticipated, the food is incredible.

It’s known that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Jungkook’s pretty sure whoever first said that must’ve been talking about fried chicken because holy shit, chimaek’s never tasted so fucking good. He’d somehow managed to forget just how much he loved delivery food, especially when it’s paired with good beer, and for a time neither of them has the inclination to talk beyond the occasional “oh my god that’s so good” and “try this one” amid frequent moans of approval. It’s pure, unadulterated gluttony, and Jungkook enjoys every second of it.

Despite the veritable banquet of food, they’re both hungry students with big appetites and enhanced metabolisms, so they make their way through more than half the pizza and two-thirds of the chicken before Moonbin finally pauses in his eating, setting his chopsticks aside and slumping back on the couch with a satisfied hum, eyes closed and hands resting on his belly.

“Hyung? I don’t even care if we go bankrupt because of this,” the werecat sighs happily, listing sideways a little to lean his head against Jungkook’s shoulder. “S’totally worth it.”

Jungkook breathes an amused huff into his beer, nudging Moonbin in the side. “We’re not gonna go bankrupt, kitcat. Like, ever.”

“That’s the spirit, hyung.” Eyes still closed, Moonbin lifts a clenched fist in a lazy cheer. “Fighting!”

“No, I mean it,” Jungkook laughs, nudging him again. “Financially speaking, we’re…actually doing pretty good.”

“Oh?” Moonbin cracks on eyelid open. “Did the bank approve that loan you were talking about?”

Shit, he’d forgotten about the spur-of-the-moment lie he’d used last night to try and explain the lack of financial ramifications for him quitting his nightshift job so suddenly.

“I…I never actually applied for one,” he admits, rolling the cold glass between his fingers and avoiding Moonbin’s gaze. “I’m sorry, dude, I honestly didn’t mean to lie to you, but I wasn’t sure how to explain it all – a lot happened yesterday.”

Moonbin straightens up from his slouch and turns to face him, sitting cross-legged sideways on the couch, a hand settling gently on Jungkook’s knee.

“Has it got something to do with your new hyungs?” the cat asks, his voice soft and completely lacking even a trace of judgment for Kookie’s earlier deception.

Jungkook nods slowly. “Yesterday, Namjoon-hyung told me I was a part of his nest now…I guess because I’m bonded with Tae? He thought maybe my night job had been making me sick-”

“Because it was,” Moonbin interrupts flatly.

“I know, Binnie,” Jungkook sighs, leaning forwards to set down his beer glass. When he leans back again, Moonbin’s hands curl around his own, squeezing gently in apology. “That’s why Namjoon-hyung wanted me to quit. I was resistant at first, because I knew we couldn’t afford it, but he promised to help settle my finances if I cut down my hours, so I agreed.”

Moonbin squeezes his hands again. “That’s really nice of him, hyung. You and Taehyung-ssi have only been bonded for a little while, right? It’s great that he’s already treating you like nestmate.” The werecat’s smile in encouraging. “So when you said you were getting a loan, were you talking about Namjoon-ssi?”

“Mm.” Jungkook smiles a little, then shrugs. “At least, that’s what I thought would happen.” He takes a steadying breath and lifts his eyes to meet Moonbin’s attentive gaze. “After school today, Jin-hyung told me he’d spoken with our landlord this morning. He…he’s settled our rent for the next six months, Bin.”

The werecat’s mouth falls open, eyes widening almost comically.

“I thought at first he only meant my half of the rent,” Jungkook ploughs on before he can lose confidence. “But I checked my emails when I got home; Mr Choi had sent us a copy of the new joint-tenancy agreement, and it looks like the full rent’s been paid for both of us, six months upfront.”

“Holy shit,” Moonbin breathes, letting go of Jungkook’s hands to drag his fingers through his still-drying hair. “Kookie! That’s gotta be like…four and a half million won, at least.”

Jungkook nods (because he’d done the math too, and holy shit is right), fishing his cell phone out from the front pocket of his hoodie.

“And he gave me an allowance to help us pay for groceries and council tax and utility bills,” he adds, quickly logging into his mobile banking app and turning the screen to show Moonbin the figure. “Just look, dude…it’s way too much, I don’t even know what I’m gonna do with it all…”

Moonbin makes a strangled noise of surprise and alarm, gripping the older boy’s wrist and pulling the phone closer, likely counting the digits preceding the decimal point just like Jungkook had done earlier that evening.

“Hyung, your sugar daddies are loaded,” Binnie reacts, giving Jungkook’s shoulder an excited little shake. “Ohmygod, how much do they think utilities are gonna cost? Their house must be fucking huge.

Jungkook hadn’t given it much thought actually, but his roommate’s probably right – if Namjoon and Seokjin can pay his rent six months in advance and transfer a huge sum of money into his bank account like it’s nothing, they must be living pretty comfortably. Seoul has some very expensive high-rise apartment buildings (where the monthly rent starts at six million won), but he remembers Tae and Jimin mentioning something about living near the border of the Old Forest, so that doesn’t seem likely. There are a lot of grand old houses along the edges of the city, huge mansions owned by wealthy families who’d first settled here when Seoul was still mostly forest and farmland. With Jin’s apparent control over natural elements, and Namjoon’s obvious connection with plant-life, he can definitely picture them living somewhere surrounded by things that blossom and grow.

The more he thinks about it, the more curious he becomes, his imagination running wild as he remembers all the fancy properties he’s spotted during his travels around the outer rim of the city.

“Hyung, you could even quit your job at Euphoria,” Moonbin points out, handing the phone back to him. “Concentrate on your artwork like you’ve always wanted to.”

The thought had crossed his mind. But there’s a part of him that truly enjoys his role as a butler at the visual café, and he’s made so many friends there that he’ll never get to see outside of work – plus all his loyal customers who come in specifically to see him on weekend afternoons, their generous tips have often been the only reason he could afford to buy lunch at uni on the last week of the month. And not only that, but the managers at Euphoria have really gone out of their way to accommodate his busy schedule, letting him work odd hours and random half-shifts here and there, offering him overtime towards the end of the month without actually acknowledging that they were aware of his tight financial situation. Jungkook feels like he owes it to his colleagues not to quit out of the blue.

“I’ll cut down my hours,” he says decisively. “Drop my weekday afternoons and stop working overtime shifts so that I’m only in for a half-day or two at the weekends. I don’t wanna quit completely; Euphoria’s done a lot for me, and I like the work. Besides, if I bomb in the exams this term and get dropped from my scholarship programme, I’m gonna need a backup option.”

Moonbin winces at the sudden glumness in his tone, reaching out to comfort him in the way he always does when Jungkook’s constant fear of failing his business course manages to claw its way to the surface.

“The exams are still a month away, hyung,” his roommate reassures him, providing a welcome distraction from Jungkook’s reawakened stresses in the form of a cosy sideways snuggle. “And your new ‘allowance’ can basically cover all your school fees for next year, if you spend it right. So screw the scholarship.”

He’s not wrong. Jin and Namjoon have given him enough that he’ll be able to sustain himself even without the government bursary subsidising his university fees. But maintaining his exam scores within the top five percent isn’t just about keeping himself enrolled in the scholarship programme – his parents’ high expectations are a far greater motivator. He loves them both, and he wants to make them proud of him, but sometimes he just feels like there’s so much pressure bearing down on him that he can barely breathe. His father’s lifelong mantra (“if you aren’t willing to give it your all, you’ve already failed”) has been haunting his every step ever since he finished middle school, when his passion for art and dance were suddenly classed as distractions and both his parents had started encouraging him to pursue a more ‘reliable’ profession. When his lack of talent for sciences immediately ruled out the possibility of being a doctor or an engineer, his father had started taking him along to company conventions, hoping Jungkook would discover a new passion for business. It hadn’t worked, but he’d adhered to his parent’s wishes all the same, because he knew they really only wanted the best for him – even if they didn’t understand how miserable academic pressure made him feel. His father had been the one to source the scholarship application, hiring a private tutor to help Kookie improve his average math and science grades so that he’d make the cut. The only real choice he’d had in the matter was which universities he eventually applied for, and one of the many reasons he’d chosen Seoul (other than the fact that Yugyeom would be going with him) was that it took him far, far away from home and his parents constant reminders to study, study, study.

He loves his family, he really does, but he hates this goddamn business course more than he’s ever hated anything else in his life (including the braces he’d worn for three years as a teenager to correct his mild case of rabbit-hybrid buck teeth).

“Did I break you?” Moonbin asks, when he’s remained silent a few minutes too long.

Jungkook breathes a shaky laugh, but his eyes are damp, and he’s not fooling anybody. Moonbin palms his cheek to turn his head a little, pressing their brows together and closing his eyes.

“I’m happy for you,” the werecat murmurs. “Seriously, Kookie. You always put everyone else first, and you’ve sacrificed so much to help other people, especially me, but now you’ve finally found someone who wants to do all that for you. I hope your new sugar daddies buy you stupidly expensive shit and take you out to all the fancy restaurants and give you more money than you’ll ever be able to spend. Nobody deserves that more than you do, hyung.”

The whole rollercoaster of emotions he’s been on today had left him feeling pretty dazed by the time Moonbin got home, but now that familiar trembling warmth is blooming in his chest again, swelling so big it feels like he could just burst with it. His financial situation had always weighed heavily on his mind, but he hadn’t quite realised just how huge that burden had grown until this afternoon, when he’d counted that long line of digits and realised that all his troubles were finally over. He doesn’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay for groceries next week, or if they’ll have enough money to cover the electricity bulls at the end of the month, or whether they’ll need to terminate their cheap (and fairly unreliable) wifi service in order to afford the quarterly council tax bill.

And now all of that responsibility has been completely lifted from his shoulders.

“Don’t overthink it, kiddo,” Namjoon had said to him yesterday afternoon, what feels like a lifetime ago now. “Just leave it with me. I’ll take care of everything.”

And the vampire had. He really had. Namjoon and Jin had swooped in and settled his finances for the foreseeable future and fuck, how is he ever supposed to thank them enough?

Moonbin rubs their noses together in a tender nuzzle, then ducks down to brush a kiss against his cheek.

“C’mon,” the werecat encourages, turning back towards the food-laden coffee table and reaching for his chopsticks. “Bet I can fit more pieces of chicken in my mouth than you.”

It’s such a dumb bet, but that’s the kind Jungkook enjoys the most, and he drags his sleeve across his eyes with a more genuine laugh, elbowing Moonbin playfully in the side.

“Like hell you can, kitcat. Pass me that box of yangnyeom.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

As it turns out, dropping his weekday shifts at Euphoria is even easier than quitting his night job, despite Seokjin being absent this time around.

Truthfully, Jungkook hadn’t actually anticipated coming up against any serious resistance, not with his Euphoria employers – the executive managerial team have always been super nice to him, allowing Kookie to work odd shifts patterns around his weirdly disjointed schedule, and giving him all the overtime hours he could want. So he already knew they wouldn’t make things difficult for him when he asked to drop his hours. Still, he hadn’t expected his senior manager to react to his request with quite so much enthusiasm.

“That’s wonderful!” Wonho had enthused, clapping him on the shoulder as he ushered Jungkook into a chair in his office, taking the crutches from him once he was seated and propping them up against the desk.

Kookie hadn’t been sure how to take that response at first (his boss being super happy that Jungkook wouldn’t be around anymore during weekdays didn’t really seem like a positive sign), and that sliver of uncertainty must have shown in his expression, because Wonho had been quick to flash him a warm smile.

“You’re an exceptional employee, Jungkook-ah,” the werewolf had reassured, offering him a macaroon from the plate on his desk. “Polite, well-mannered, hardworking, and a great team player – I’ve heard nothing but praise from the junior managers, and in terms of customer feedback, you’re a regular favourite. But after what happened on Sunday afternoon, I’ll admit I’m relieved to hear that you’ve decided to prioritise your health and wellbeing for once. There’s such a thing as working too hard, kid.”

A little embarrassed at the reminder that all of his senior managers probably knew about his fainting episode from the other day (because presumably Suyeon would’ve had to fill in an sickness/accident form to excuse his absence), Jungkook had taken one of the macaroons simply as a distraction, nibbling on it to give him an excuse not to reply to that particular statement. By the time he’d finished the sweet treat, Wonho had fetched a handful of documents from one of the filing cabinets behind him, spreading them out across the desk in front of them.

“Right, new contract. Don’t worry, this isn’t necessarily a permanent change – if you want to up your hours again once school’s out, that’s an option we’ll keep open for you; summer’s always our busiest season. But no pressure, man. Okay, let’s go through the initial agreement…”

Over the course of the past ten minutes, they’ve gone through the form paragraph by paragraph, his boss helpfully highlighting the relevant stipulations.

“Having a fixed weekend contract is more of safeguard for yourself,” the wolf explains, nudging the plate of macaroons towards Kookie again. “If, for whatever reason, the whole exec team gets fired and someone else steps in who doesn’t know your preferences, they won’t be able to allocate you weekday shifts without getting you to sign another contract first – not unless it’s voluntary overtime.”

Jungkook nods as he takes another biscuit, beyond grateful once again to have a boss who actually gives a fuck about his part-time employees (compared to Mr Yan, Wonho and Kihyun and the others are absolute saints). Having been faced with potentially being unable to afford his art classes last winter, he’d been so desperate for a job to help make ends meet that he’d signed the contract for Mr Yan’s convenience store without really taking the time to read through all the details (hence why he hadn’t known about the stipulation regarding flexible working hours – thank god for Kim Seokjin). For someone taking a business and economics major, it’s almost embarrassing how clueless he is about employment contracts.

Fuck, he’s never going to pass his exams at this rate.

At least I’ll be able to study more once I’ve dropped my hours.   

“Okay, sign here for me,” Wonho finally indicates, lightly tapping a line at the bottom of his amended contract. “And right here…perfect. All done.”

“Are you sure it won’t be too much trouble to call someone in last-minute?” Jungkook asks again, passing the contracts back over to his boss. “I don’t want to inconvenience the rest of the team, hyung – if you can’t cover my hours this week, I’m more than happy to fill in. And I can definitely work my shift this afternoon, I know it’s pretty short notice-”

Wonho smiles, raising a hand to forestall his rambling. “It’s fine, Kookie. We’ve got a couple of trainees starting this week as supernumerary staff, and Sanha’s been asking for extra overtime hours anyway – you know what he’s like, the kid would probably live here if we let him. We’ll definitely have the manpower, don’t you worry. And besides, I wouldn’t be expecting you to work at all while you’re still using those crutches – give that ankle of yours a chance to heal properly this time, okay?”

“Okay,” the younger man agrees, his cheeks flushing again at the werewolf’s teasing note of censure. Wonho’s had to quietly pull him aside during shifts more than once because Jungkook’s worried colleagues had caught sight of him limping between the tables following one of his previous stair-related accidents.

“Is it alright with you if I let the other managers know?” Wonho asks, adding his own signature to the bottom of the documents. “I don’t want anyone phoning you in a panic thinking you’ve keeled over at home because you haven’t shown up for one of your usual shifts.”

Jungkook nods, cracking a smile. “Sure hyung, it’s not a secret.”

“Awesome.” Stapling two of the documents together, he hands the final pink-tinted copy to Jungkook, which the youth quickly slips into his brand new backpack for safekeeping. “Kihyun and Suyeon are going to be thrilled when they find out – they’ve been asking me for weeks to have a little chat with you about cutting down your overtime hours.”

What.

Oh god, that’s mortifying.

Has his exhaustion really been that obvious to everyone else? Jungkook’s always been so confident with his ‘cheerful butler’ persona, slipping into the role pretty much as soon as he ties his pink Euphoria apron about his waist, polite smile already in place to greet his first customer. Although…admittedly, ever since he started working double nightshifts, he does have a tendency to sprawl across the chairs in the staffroom during his mid-shift break at the weekend, grateful to rest his weary bones for ten minutes or so. One of the managers (invariably Suyeon or Kihyun, come to think of it) will pop in to let him know what’s happening with his tables before he goes back out again, and he isn’t always able to pull that ‘cheerful butler’ mask back on again in time to fool them.

So, in hindsight, their recent concern for his health has probably been well-founded.

“Anyway, I’m glad you came to that decision yourself,” Wonho adds, standing up from behind his desk and coming around to offer Jungkook a hand up, clapping another on his shoulder. “Get some rest, kid. We’ll see you on Saturday”

Jungkook smiles, shaking the werewolf’s hand and dipping forward in a quick bow, carefully balancing on his uninjured foot.

“Thank you,” he murmurs, accepting the crutches his boss helpfully passes over to him. “I’ll see you then, hyung.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having a whole afternoon entirely free of responsibilities is a truly foreign concept to Jungkook.

With his afternoon lectures at university unexpectedly cancelled, he’d been able to head to Euphoria several hours earlier than planned (using his newly-purchased travel pass to take the bus directly from SNU, which felt like a true luxury with these cumbersome crutches), and Wonho had handled his request so quickly and efficiently that he’d been in and out of the café in less than half an hour. So now it’s barely two-thirty in the afternoon, and he’s got six solid hours to kill doing whatever the fuck he wants.

Time to consult the list.

Dropping his working hours had been the first item on the ‘Kookie Deserves Nice Things’ list that Moonbin and Yugyeom had helped him write during their lunch break a couple of hours ago (the title had definitely been Binnie’s idea, not his), and he’s already been able to cross a line through that one. Another three goals – ‘new backpack’, ‘buy school supplies’, ‘get a bus pass’ – had been successfully achieved before he’d even left SNU, thanks to the student store located on campus. Despite the generous student discounts, he’d still spent more money on stationary and study materials than he felt entirely comfortable with, but Moonbin had kept finding cute and quirky stationary to add to his basket, and damn the werecat for knowing him so well, because Jungkook had loved all of it.

Besides, he’d checked his online bank account again only a short while ago, and he genuinely couldn’t even tell if the balance had changed or not. The number was just so big.

Jungkook’s phone buzzes in his jacket, and he tucks the list safely away (aish, did Binnie really have to write Kookie Deserves Nice Things in sparkly pink gel pen?), fishing the device from his pocket and taking another bite of his Nutella-filled hotteok as he shifts in his seat on the park bench, his bum a little numb from staying in the same position for too long. A smile curls at his lips when he sees a familiar name on the screen.

TaeTae: hey handsome! 💜 How’s your ankle feeling today? I know you’re probably still in class, but I hope school’s been okay so far. Can I give you a ride home later? Missing you. 😗 xxx

How does the vampire make him feel so fucking giddy with just a simple text message? Aigoo. He’s probably grinning like a lovesick idiot right now.

Kookie: hi hyung! 😃 My ankle feels 100% better now, but Namjoon-hyung said he wanted me to use the crutches and keep the support bandages on until tomorrow morning just to make sure it heals up properly.
Kookie: And my 2pm lecture got cancelled today, yay! So I managed to escape earlier than usual. I’m sitting in the park near Euphoria eating chocolate hotteok 😋 Missing you too. ❤️ xxx

He’s also been happily daydreaming about Taehyung being right here with him, fondly remembering how they’d spent hours walking around the park together on Saturday, eating good food and talking about anything and everything that came to mind, enjoying each other’s company.

But he’ll keep that to himself – the vampire doesn’t need to know how much of a sap his new bondmate is.

TaeTae: oooh yum! 😋
TaeTae: hey, if you’re not at work this afternoon, are you maybe free?

Jungkook smiles, a tentative sort of hope fluttering to life in his chest. Is Taehyung asking about his availability because he wants to hang out?

Kookie: Yep, totally free! 🙌
Kookie: at least until my art class at 8:30pm. 🙌

The messages are marked as read straight away, but there’s a longer pause this time before the messenger app indicates that Taehyung is typing. Jungkook finds himself waiting with baited breath, his Nutella snack entirely forgotten in its little paper cup on the bench beside him as he grips the phone in both hands, gnawing on his bottom lip. Finally, after what feels like an age but is probably only a couple of minutes, the vampire’s reply pops up on his screen.

TaeTae: The hyungs won’t let me go outside for more than a few minutes because it’s too sunny. 😞 But we can maybe do something indoors? You wanna go watch a movie? Yoongi-hyung says he’ll drive us anywhere we want to go as long as I’m not out in daylight. 💜
TaeTae: no worries if you wanna just have some chill-time on your own though, you deserve it. 💜x

Jungkook hurries to reply, inadvertently misspelling every single word the first time around, and huffing an exasperated breath when he has to delete the sentence and try again.

Kookie: a movie sounds great! 😃 I’ll meet you at the cinema, which one did you have in mind?

TaeTae: OMG no, 😲 please don’t walk halfway across town on crutches! We’ll come pick you up from the park in like 15 mins, just sit tight.
TaeTae: And I mean that literally, boo. Please stay seated and rest your ankle. For me? 😗

With a grin so dopey it probably makes him look half-drunk, Jungkook replies with a thumbs-up and a kissy face, that warm fluttery feeling from earlier now expanding to fill his whole chest and most of his abdomen.

He’s going on another date. Booyah.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I can walk, you know,” Jungkook laughs, clinging to Taehyung as the vampire piggybacks him up the stairs towards the cinema complex, his bouncing steps jostling the younger man around.

“Mm,” Taehyung hums, a cheerful noise of acknowledgement. “But I can’t hold your hand when you’re using crutches. This way we get to cuddle.

Beside them, Hoseok huffs a fond laugh, one arm extended towards Taehyung to keep the younger vampire shaded beneath his large parasol, Jungkook’s crutches tucked beneath the other.

“Baby, slow down,” the older vampire chides amusedly. “You might fall.”

Taehyung obligingly slows his pace, bumping Jungkook up a little higher on his back as they step through the automatic doors and into the large foyer, Hoseok deftly folding the parasol down without dropping the crutches (an impressive feat) as he leads the way towards one of the display screens that lists the afternoon’s movie schedule.

“What do you wanna watch, Kookie?” Taehyung asks, briefly letting go of one of Jungkook’s legs to push his sunglasses up onto his forehead, peering at the screen thoughtfully.

Jungkook shoots a quick glance back towards the entrance. “Shouldn’t we wait for Yoongi-hyung? I wouldn’t wanna pick something he doesn’t like.”

The older vampire had dropped the three of them off directly outside the multi-story cinema complex and gone to park the car further up the road, having been adamant that Taehyung be exposed to as little direct sunlight as possible, reminding the fledgling that his newly-healed skin would be even more sensitive than normal.

“I’ll be five minutes,” the Seer had promised, rolling down the tinted window to shoot them an easy smile. “Eight, if the old lady drops her handbag at the crossing. Don’t get the cheese popcorn, they’ve added too much salt today. Avoid the peanut M&Ms, people have allergies. And save me a seat next to Tae.”

Both Hoseok and Taehyung had taken their nestmate’s seemingly random predictions without batting an eyelid, but Jungkook had been a little awed by it all. Apparently Yoongi’s gift of foresight doesn’t just extend to life-and-death situations and ominous feelings, like he’d originally thought. He wonders if the vampire has a way of switching it off when he’s out in public – because otherwise it must get super exhausting to see so many possible futures all the time. If it were Jungkook, he’d just be incredibly paranoid about everything and probably never leave the house.

Which, come to think of it, is something Taehyung had mentioned to him before – that Yoongi didn’t like going outside unless he felt it was strictly necessary. He wonders what had motivated the Seer into leaving the safety of the nest this afternoon; Yoongi hadn’t seemed particularly concerned about any impending danger, so it clearly isn’t an emergency. Huh. Maybe the guy just likes movies.

“Yoongi’s happy to watch anything,” Hoseok supplies, reaching up to fix Jungkook’s fringe with gentle fingers. “You go ahead and choose, sweetheart, he won’t mind.”

Jungkook’s stomach flutters pleasantly at the empath’s tenderness, and he quickly distracts himself from the impending wave of squishy feelings by refocusing his gaze on the list of movies.

Man, he hasn’t been to the cinema in forever. Movie tickets are fairly pricey even off-peak, and it had always seemed like such a waste of money, especially when he and Binnie could forego seeing something on the big screen and buy half a week’s worth of groceries instead. Besides, Binnie happened to be close friends (and pseudo-packmates) with a certain Park Minhyuk, and Rocky had been more than willing to share reliable links to movie sites online (on the understanding that JinJin would never, ever hear about it, because then he’d fix them all with that disappointed-hyung look and it’d make them feel like actual criminals).

“That new movie by Na Hong-Jin is supposed to be good,” he remarks after a long moment of contemplation, pointing towards the haunting black-and-white 3D display nearby. “Gyeomie said it’s even better than The Wailing, if you guys are into scary movies?”

“Sure, that sounds fun,” Taehyung agrees brightly. “And look, there’s a showing in ten minutes. Let’s go get snacks.”

“Tae, honey,” Hoseok murmurs, keeping pace as the younger vampire sets off towards the service counter. “Na Hong-Jin is a horror director.”

“Yup,” the fledgling acknowledges, stepping into line behind another couple and surveying the snack combos on the overhead displays. “Kookie loves horror movies.”

For some reason, Hoseok’s expression turns fond and amused, something a little like exasperation flickering there for a moment before the older vampire sighs and shakes his head.

“Ooh, look hyung! They sell Haemogummies.”

Jungkook had tried one of those once as a dare, when Yugyeom and Eunwoo had come over to spend the evening with them one weekend, before the double nightshifts had eaten up all his free time. The outer gummy layer itself hadn’t tasted too bad (faintly like strawberry and liquorice), but he hadn’t been expecting the iron-rich liquid centre, and when it burst suddenly on his tongue he’d almost spat it out right in Yugyeom’s laughing face, but Moonbin had been ready and waiting with a tissue and a sympathetic smile, apparently knowing from experience that the candies wouldn’t suit Kookie’s hybrid palate.

“You want popcorn, baby?” Tae continues, bumping Jungkook up on his back again. “Just remember we can’t get the cheese one…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It becomes abundantly clear approximately six minutes into the movie that Jungkook has made a huge mistake.

Taehyung’s clutching tightly onto his right hand, their fingers threaded snugly together, and he’s sunk down so far in his seat that it’s a miracle he can even see over the top of the person sitting in front of them. He’s wide-eyed, tight-lipped and more notably he seems to have completely forgotten about his half-eaten bag of Haemogummies.

There’s a tingling of nervous excitement in Jungkook’s stomach, the way there always is when he’s watching a horror movie for the first time, but today it’s a lot heavier on the nervous side and there’s definitely a lot less excitement. And glancing at Tae’s ungloved hand entwined with his own, he doesn’t really have to guess where those feelings are coming from.

On the screen, a warped shadow moves quickly across the hallway behind the unfortunate protagonist, and while there’s a smattering of quiet gasps from the audience, Tae’s sharp inhale draws Jungkook’s attention away from the movie, his gaze flitting sideways to see his bondmate with a hand pressed over the lower half of his face, as though to silence any further noises of surprise.

Aigoo, this was a bad idea.

There’s movement from the other side of Taehyung, Yoongi’s hand settling gently on the younger vampire’s jean-clad thigh, index finger tapping there three times. Taehyung immediately screws his eyes tight shut, and before Jungkook can lean over to check that he’s okay, a loud jump-scare on the screen has him jolting in his seat.

Hoseok breathes a quiet laugh beside him, patting Jungkook’s knee and offering him some more popcorn, which the youth accepts with an embarrassed little smile. He doesn’t usually startle at cheap jump-scares anymore, but he’d been so focused on Taehyung that he hadn’t sensed the tense atmosphere of the scene reaching its crescendo.

Beside him, Taehyng has relaxed marginally, his free hand now laying palm-upwards on his thigh, Yoongi loosely clasping the younger vampire’s wrist with his index finger resting in Tae’s palm. Although his grip on Jungkook’s hand hasn’t shifted, the fledgling seems to be leaning a lot more towards Yoongi now, his head resting on the Seer’s shoulder. At least he seems less tense than before, but he still doesn’t appear to be enjoying the experience – this isn’t exactly how Jungkook wanted their first ever cinema date to go down. Fuck, why had he picked a horror movie? And why hadn’t Tae just told him that he didn’t like them in the first place?

He hesitates for a moment, debating whether or not to ask his bondmate if he wants to leave. Jungkook can tell the vampire’s trying his best to hide just how freaked out he really is, so he doesn’t want to embarrass him by bringing it up, but he also doesn’t like the idea of letting Taehyung sit in terror for two hours when they could be enjoying each other’s company elsewhere.

Just as he’s about to lean over to whisper in Tae’s ear, there’s light tap on his left wrist. He glances at Hoseok quickly, finding the dancer watching him with that same fond smile he’d worn earlier, holding out his phone. The backlight’s been turned down low, but Jungkook still angles it downwards to avoid bothering the people on the row behind him, squinting at the screen. Hobi appears to have opened up the Notes app, and he briefly scans the few short sentences left there.

Hey doll. As you might’ve guessed, Tae isn’t a fan of horror
stuff, but he doesn’t want you to know that. He knew what
he was getting himself into when he agreed to watch this,
so you don’t need to bail him out. I’m guessing Yoongi
saw this coming, which is why he wanted to sit next to Tae.

Jungkook re-reads the message again, then deletes it and quickly types back a reply, keeping the phone low to avoid drawing attention to himself.

I don’t mind leaving tho. Are you sure he’s okay?

Hoseok breathes another one of those barely-audible laughs, his expression soft as he glances from the screen to Jungkook’s face, hand gently squeezing his knee before the vampire taps out an answer.

I can sense his fear from over here, but he’ll be
fine. Yoongi can give him a heads-up about the
jump-scares. I think he’d be more upset if we
left before the movie was over, he’s pretty keen
to make a good impression. Let him be the big,
brave boyfriend he’s trying to be, we can take
him out for ice cream afterwards to cheer him up.

That…actually sounds like a really sweet idea. Jungkook glances back up at Hoseok and nods, his own lips twitching up into a smile, before startling when something jumps out onscreen with a bang. Hoseok grins, pocketing his phone and giving Jungkook’s free hand a gentle squeeze before offering him the popcorn again

Jungkook tries to focus on the rest of the movie (because Yugyeom’s right, it’s really good), but he finds his gaze flickering sideways more often than not to observe Tae and Yoongi together. The youngest vampire has all but curled up against the Seer’s side by this point, one of Yoongi’s arms wrapped snugly around his shoulders, his other hand still resting loosely on Tae’s wrist. Every once in a his index finger will tap the fledgling’s open palm three times, and Taehyung will immediately shut his eyes and tense up, seconds before something scary happens onscreen to make the rest of the audience jump and gasp in surprise.

Honestly the movie’s not half as interesting as observing their unique interaction. Jungkook could watch them like this all day.

More than once, he thinks he sees Yoongi’s gaze stray from the screen to glance towards him, but every time he looks up the vampire’s focused on the movie, so perhaps it’s just a figment of his imagination.

 

“That was scary!” Taehyung exclaims cheerfully as he exits the cinema complex later that afternoon, carrying Jungkook in a piggyback like before. “Did you have fun, Kook?”

“Mm, it was great,” the younger man confirms, giving Tae a squeeze where his arms are draped over the vampire’s shoulders. “But maybe next time we should see something different. I’m not sure Hobi-hyung enjoyed the movie as much as we did.”

Walking beside them with his arm looped through Yoongi’s, the vampire shoots him an amused look, but hums in agreement.

“I’m more of a romcom fan myself,” the empath comments blithely, opening the parasol one-handed and holding it out to shade Taehyung. “Sitting in a movie theatre full of scared people isn’t good for the nerves, yknow?”

Taehyung stops walking, making an aggrieved noise in the back of his throat.

“Aw hyung, I’m sorry, I didn’t even think of that,” the younger vampire apologises, looking genuinely regretful. “Are you okay?”

Hoseok’s expression softens, and he leans over to brush a kiss against Taehyung’s cheek.

“I’m fine now, baby, thank you. But I was thinking of treating myself to ice cream on the way home. You boys up for that?”

Immediately brightening, Taehyung resumes walking. “I never got a chance to show Kookie that bingsu place the other night, the one Jiminie likes. Can we go there?” He leans forward to glance at his other nestmate. “Yoongi-hyung? Can we?”

The Seer smiles, adjusting his hold on the crutches tucked under his arm. “It’s almost time for dinner. Why don’t we go for sushi first and bingsu second? If we leave now and avoid getting stuck behind the recycling truck, we’ll be able to do it all in plenty of time to drop Kookie off at the studio for his art class.”

“Is that alright with you, sweetheart?” Hoseok checks, glancing up at Jungkook.

It all sounds fucking wonderful, and Jungkook feels so thrilled to be included in their group plans that he might just burst from happiness, but he manages to limit his reaction to a beaming smile and an eager nod. Hoseok and Yoongi clearly sense his enthusiasm all the same, because their smiles grow fonder. He likes it when they look at him like that – he really, really likes it – and Jungkook finds himself smushing his face against Taehyung’s shoulder to hide his resultant blush.

He can’t help but wonder, since Hoseok’s an empath and Yoongi has the gift of foresight, if both vampires are already perfectly aware of his current situation. And if they are, and they’re smiling at him like that on purpose

Oh, god help his weak, weak heart.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Usually when Jungkook first wakes up, it’s to the sound of his bedside alarm clock blaring at him angrily. Nine times out of ten his aching, sleep-deprived body will be so thoroughly perturbed by the prospect of leaving the cosy warmth of his bed that he’ll end up rolling over and hitting the snooze button. It’s only a two-minute snooze, which means his reprieve from the waking world never lasts very long, but on really bad mornings (most school days, come to think of it) he finds himself compelled to hit snooze more than once, determinedly burying himself further beneath the blankets to rest his exhausted mind for just a few more stress-free minutes.

Consequently, it tends to be Moonbin who eventually pries him from the land of nod, the werecat perching on the edge of the bed behind him and leaning down to gently shake Jungkook awake with an apologetic smile, always smelling faintly of eggs or toast or rice porridge or whatever he’s chosen to cook for them that morning. Jungkook will groan, putting up a half-assed protest at the manhandling and trying to hide back under his bedcovers, which generally results in Moonbin flopping down on top of him for an early-morning glomp to bother him awake with affection. And he loves Binnie’s cuddles more than anything, but being woken up always sucks no matter how sweetly it’s done; with Jungkook’s frequent self-inflicted late night study sessions, he’s rarely been asleep for more than a few hours before it’s time to rise and shine, and he always wakes up regretting his life choices.

Today, however, Jungkook finds himself wide awake and feeling refreshed a full half-hour before his alarm clock is supposedly due to go off.

Blinking at the glowing numbers in surprise, he snakes a hand out from under the blankets to grab his phone from the nightstand, double-checking the time just in case the digital clock’s not working properly.

06:32.

Huh.

Rolling over slowly, he glances across the room towards Moonbin’s bed, a smile curling at his lips when he sees the werecat cocooned in his self-made nest of blankets, fast asleep. Jungkook genuinely can’t remember the last time he woke up before his roommate (pulling all-nighters doesn’t count, although he’s done plenty of those this past year or so in order to meet essay deadlines between his part-time work). Moonbin’s always been more of a morning person than he is, rising at the first beep of his phone’s alarm, already showered and dressed and ready for the day long before Kookie’s resigned himself to dragging his weary body out of bed. So to see the youth still snoozing peacefully like this is a novelty.

Granted, Binnie had worked another double shift at the coffee shop after school yesterday, stumbling in through the door long after Jungkook had returned from his evening art class. Yawning, the werecat had climbed over the arm of the couch Kookie was laying across and flopped down on top of him for a sleepy cuddle, his hair tickling Jungkook’s nose.

“I thought we talked about this, Binnie,” Jungkook had sighed, running a hand down Moonbin’s spine and relaxing back against the couch cushions, content to be squashed by his needy, tactile roommate. “Money isn’t tight anymore, you don’t need to keep working doubles.”

“S’your money, hyung,” had been Moonbin’s muffled reply from where his face was smushed against Jungkook’s chest. “I can work, m’not just gonna leech off you. M’still gonna pay my half of the bills.”

Jungkook had rolled his eyes, very lightly cuffing the back of the werecat’s head. “Yah, you’re not leeching off anyone. I have way more money than I know what to do with, and it’s not like we use a lot of electricity anyway. I can pay for utilities, Bin.”

Lifting his head to frown at Jungkook stubbornly (although the tired pout rendered his hard stare ineffective), Moonbin had argued:

“Your hyungs gave you that money to spend on yourself, not on me. And besides, they’ve already covered my rent for the next six months just because we happen to live together; you gotta let me pull my weight somehow. And I’m definitely gonna buy the groceries from now on – I eat way more than you anyways. It’s not fair if I make you pay for everything.”

“You’re not making me do anything, kitcat,” Jungkook had refuted, lifting a hand again, this time to muss up Binnie’s hair affectionately. “And if you try to give me money for groceries, you know I can just transfer it straight back into your account, right?”

“But-”

“Nuh-uh. I’m the hyung, I get to treat you,” the elder insisted. “It’s no use trying to fight me on this one, Bin, I’m not gonna change my mind.”

Moonbin had frowned at him a moment longer, then dropped his head back down against Jungkook’s chest with a sigh.

“Ugh. I hate it when you pull the ‘hyung’ card,” the cat had grumbled, but snuggled closer willingly enough when Jungkook wrapped his arms around him. “Fine, you win. No more double shifts.”

Honestly, if Jungkook had his way, Binnie wouldn’t be working at all – but he already knows he’d never be able to convince the werecat to quit his job altogether. Moonbin’s pretty independent (and very stubborn when he wants to be), and although Jungkook doesn’t plan on letting his roommate pay for anything for the foreseeable future, he can at least acknowledge the benefits of Bin working maybe a couple of shifts a week to build up some savings. Not that he thinks Moonbin will actually need to pay rent in six months’ time – Jungkook has a sneaking suspicion that JinJin will have invited the werecat to join his pack before the start of summer vacation; he’s seen that soft, fond look in the dog-hybrid’s eyes whenever he’s watching Bin interact with the rest of the pack. And although Jungkook will miss him terribly, seeing his friend happy and in love is everything he could’ve hoped for – Binnie deserves kind hyungs to dote on him and sweet dongsaengs to spoil.

Jungkook’s sort of been mentally preparing himself for the day Moonbin will eventually move out of the apartment – planning things way ahead of time is how he’s learned to cope with potentially stressful situations – and he’d previously kept a mental list of possible friends and acquaintances who might want to become his roommate when Binnie left (since there’s no way he ever would’ve been able to afford the rent on his own previously). But things are different now, in light of the very significant changes to his own financial situation…not to mention the fact that he’s recently become bonded. Like seriously, that changes everything.

It’s exciting, but also a little nerve-wracking, knowing that all manner of changes (both big and small) are probably in store for him in the not-too-distant future. Jungkook usually doesn’t like situations where he can’t problem-solve ahead of time, but there’s a part of him that instinctively knows everything is going to work out in the end, no matter what. Even if he tries to solve situations on his own, he has an inkling that there’ll be six hyungs at his back holding him up every step of the way. And man is that a good feeling.

“You’re part of our nest now, little one. And that makes you ours to protect.”

Jungkook rolls over onto his back and grins up at the ceiling, warm butterflies filling his stomach and fluttering higher up into his chest. Aigoo, he feels so fucking good this morning. Awake, alive, energetic.

He’s honestly never woken up this happy before.

And those contented, fuzzy feelings only grow warmer as he thinks back on his date with Taehyung yesterday. Although the horror movie situation had been a bit of a booboo on his part (emotionally scarring his bondmate really wasn’t the optimal second date he’d been hoping for), the hours they’d spent together afterwards at the sushi restaurant and bingsu parlour had more than made up for it. And the company of Hoseok and Yoongi had been an added bonus – despite only having met the two elder vampires briefly before, there hadn’t been even a hint of awkwardness during their time together. The conversation had flowed easily between the four of them as they ate and drank, the two hyungs regularly leaning across from the opposite side of the private booth to offer Jungkook and Tae bites of food from their own plates, and the whole experience had felt so wonderfully domestic that Jungkook’s half convinced he’d spent the entire evening smiling stupidly at all three of them.

He’d enjoyed himself so much that it had actually been a bit of a disappointment when the time finally came to leave for his art class – and usually that’s the highlight of his entire week.

“You’re sure we can’t offer you a ride home?” Hoseok had pressed, carrying Jungkook’s backpack over his shoulder as Taehyung piggy-backed the youth towards the studio entrance. “We don’t mind waiting for your class to finish.”

“It’s going to rain in an hour or two,” Yoongi had forewarned, glancing up at the darkened sky, Jungkook’s crutches tucked under one arm as he walked hand-in-hand with Hoseok. “You don’t even have a coat, hon.”

Jungkook had smiled, touched by their concern and oh so tempted to say yes, but also stubbornly determined not to be any more of an inconvenience to them than he already had been that week.

“I’ll be okay – the bus stop’s right over there, see?” he’d reassured them, nodding towards the illuminated shelter on the opposite side of the road. “And it’ll drop me off just around the corner from my apartment building, so I won’t have to walk far. Thanks though, I really appreciate the offer.”

They’d accepted his decision, which Jungkook had been grateful for (because if they’d asked him again, or if Yoongi had called him “hon” just one more time, he definitely would’ve caved), and they’d all said reluctant goodbyes at the door to the studio, Taehyung setting him down carefully and cradling Jungkook’s face in his hands, drawing him in for a tender, lingering kiss that still made his heart flutter now just thinking about it. Both Hoseok and Yoongi had squeezed him between them in a hug-sandwich moments later (and oh man, had that been something), only letting go once they’d extracted a promise from Jungkook to message them once he was safely on the bus journey home.

He hadn’t been able to concentrate at all during art class – no surprise there, all things considered – too distracted by the memory of his recent date to focus on what the professor was saying. Even his dreams last night had been full of tender hugs and happy-crinkling eyes, gummy smiles and dimples.

Aigoo, no wonder he feels so well-rested this morning.

Quietly scooting out of bed, he rolls to his feet, ignoring his crutches where they’re propped up against the wall by his bed and putting weight on his injured ankle for the first time since the accident two days ago, grinning when he doesn’t even feel so much as a twinge. The crutches have been annoying, but giving his ankle time to heal properly has clearly done its job. Careful not to wake Moonbin, he pads from the room with far more speed and energy than he usually possesses at this hour of the morning, heading for the bathroom.

Twenty minutes later, he’s showered and dressed with breakfast prepared for the both of them before his rommate has even started stirring, and when he slips back into their shared bedroom with three minutes to spare before the werecat’s alarm is due to go off, he has the rare pleasure of getting to wake Moonbin up himself.

“Binnie,” he murmurs, leaning down to nuzzle the youth’s temple. “Hey.”

The younger man stirs with a sleepy hum, one hand snaking out from beneath the blankets to curl in the front of Kookie’s hoodie, tugging him down for a snuggle. Breathing a fond laugh, Jungkook allows himself to be pulled in close, draping himself on top of Bin and squeezing the blanketed cat in a tight hug. Early-morning, barely-awake Moonbin is apparently even more tactile than regular Moonbin, but Jungkook’s not complaining. Cuddles are awesome.

After a minute or so, he presses a kiss to the werecat’s temple and pulls away, carefully extricating himself from Moonbin’s grasp.

“Binnie,” he says again, a little louder, and gives his roommate’s shoulder a very gentle shake. “C’mon. It’s time to wake up, kitcat.”

The werecat’s eyes blink open to squint up at him groggily, gaze settling on his face for a short beat. Then his eyes widen in almost comical alarm.

“Oh fuck,” Moonbin breathes, pushing himself up on one arm and fumbling to grab his phone out from underneath his pillow. “How late am I?”

Borderline panic is immediately replaced by sleepy confusion as the younger man stares dumbly at the time displayed on the screen. Jungkook laughs.

“You’re fine,” he soothes, ruffling the youth’s impressive bedhead, before smoothing it back down again into something that resembles his usual style. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. Since your alarm was about to go off in a couple of minutes anyway, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to wake you.”

Moonbin glances quickly between his phone screen, the alarm clock on the other side of the room and Jungkook’s smiling face, clearly perplexed.

“You’re awake,” his roommate remarks, bemused. “Why are you awake?” Then his sleepy befuddlement shifts into wary suspicion. “Hyung. Please tell me you didn’t pull another all-nighter.”

The elder rolls his eyes and huffs an exasperated sigh. “No, sleepyhead, I didn’t pull another all-nighter. Now c’mon, breakfast’s ready. The eggs are getting cold.”

Moonbin pliantly allows himself to be tugged out of bed and steered towards the door, still looking vaguely shocked by everything.

“But you’re never up this early…”

Jungkook just laughs again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cornerstone Healing Centre is a lot brighter than Jungkook remembers from his last two visits.

Granted, he hadn’t really been paying a lot of attention the first time (he’d mostly tried to focus on not throwing up or passing out in Namjoon’s arms), and on Monday afternoon Seokjin had carried him in and out again through some hidden side-entrance to avoid the hustle and bustle of the waiting room. For all Jungkook knows, that entrance might not even exist anymore – Jin seems like the sort of person who can just conjures up doors out of thin air for the sake of convenience.

It’s a whole lot bigger than Jungkook had anticipated, but then Seoul’s a big place and skilled healers are always in high demand. Just like in Namjoon’s office, the waiting room is full of life, flowering plants climbing up the walls and hanging from the ceiling, their multi-coloured blossoms filling the air with a pleasantly sweet aroma. And over in the far corner near the very natural-looking water feature is an actual willow tree, a couple of toddler-aged hybrids dozing on the bed of grass beneath its curtain-like canopy.

It’s certainly nothing like the clean, clinical waiting rooms he’s visited on occasion at Seoul General Hospital.

“Can I help you, sir?”

Turning towards the reception desk, Jungkook smiles apologetically and hurries forwards, realising he’s probably been standing there and staring dumbly at his surroundings for quite some time.

“Hi, sorry, I just came to return these,” he tells the red-haired mouse hybrid, nodding to indicate his crutches. “Healer Kim said I wouldn’t need to use them anymore, so I thought-”

“Kookie?”

His heart gives a delighted little flutter as he turns towards the voice, stomach swooping the way it always seems to do whenever he’s in the near vicinity of Kim Namjoon. The vampire strides towards him, a faint look of concern creasing his brow, reaching out to settle a gentle hand over Jungkook’s nape as soon as he’s close enough.

“What’s wrong, are you hurt?”

Jungkook shakes his head quickly, smiling. “No, I’m fine. I just wanted to bring back your crutches, since my ankle’s all better now.”

Namjoon visibly relaxes, his expression smoothing over in an instant as his mouth curls upwards in a soft smile. The healer casually slides an arm around Jungkook’s shoulders to tuck him close against his side.

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” he suggests warmly, and glances at the receptionist. “Are there any urgent cases that need my attention, or do you think I can duck out for half an hour?”

The mouse hybrid quickly taps at her keyboard. “You’re good,” she confirms cheerfully. “Hana can take your four o’clock antenatal checkup, and Junho’s pretty much up to speed in the minor injuries unit. I think we can spare you for a little while.”

“Thanks, Yuju,” the healer returns, and begins guiding Jungkook away towards the nearby corridor. “Just shout if you need me.”

Being here on his own is a new and slightly nerve-wracking experience. Not that Jungkook necessarily needs the support of Tae and the others, because he’s perfectly capable of returning a pair of crutches on his own (he’s an adult, damn it), but he hadn’t been expecting to actually speak to the healer in person; that had never been part of the plan, and he definitely hadn’t mentally prepared himself for any one-to-one time. It feels like the vampire’s occupied his thoughts so predominantly these last few days…Jungkook’s past the point of denying that he really, really likes Kim Namjoon.

“How was school?” Namjoon asks conversationally, leading Jungkook into his office and closing the door behind them. “No more altercations with staircases, I hope?”

Jungkook sniffs a grin at the man’s teasing, shaking his head. “Not today, hyung. Although I almost died of boredom learning about subsidised investment models this afternoon.”

“Sounds pretty rough,” Namjoon agrees amusedly, reaching out to take the crutches from him and prop them up against the nearby wall.

Then, before Jungkook can utter so much as an eep of surprise, the healer’s lifting him up gently by the waist to settle him on the raised examination bed, and dropping down smoothly into a crouch in front of him. Namjoon wraps both hands gently around the youth’s ankle, closing his eyes for a brief moment in concentration, which thankfully means he doesn’t see Jungkook’s flaming red cheeks (fuck, will he ever get used to being picked up or carried about by his new hyungs…because aigoo, they seem to do that a lot).

“Ohh, much better,” the healer remarks, sounding pleased. “There’s hardly any residual inflammation, it all seems to be healing nicely. I’m glad to see you’ve been using the crutches so diligently. You should be fine to fully weight-bear without them, as long as you keep strenuous exercise to a minimum for a few more days. And I’d probably avoid jumping-jacks or anything that’ll require the joint to act as a shock-absorber.”

Immediately thinking about his dance class this evening, Jungkook squirms internally, trying not to let it show in his expression. But clearly Namjoon has a sixth sense when it comes to secret-keeping dongsaengs, because the healer opens his eyes again to glance up at him with a kind smile.

“Not quite the news you were hoping to hear?”

Jungkook winces guiltily, fingers twisting at a stray thread on the sleeve of his hoodie as he averts his eyes from Namjoon’s all-too-knowing gaze.

“It’s just...” the youth starts falteringly, then gives a little shrug. “I’m supposed to be at dance practice tonight. I missed one session this week already right after I bust my ankle, so I was kinda hoping…”

Namjoon’s gaze turns sympathetic as he rubs Jungkook’s lower leg comfortingly. “It’s frustrating, sweetheart, I get that. And I know it’s gotta be pretty tempting to risk it anyway, since your ankle’s feeling so much better – but if you push yourself too hard before it’s done healing, the joint’s just gonna flare up again, and you’ll be back on the crutches for another couple of days. Better to be safe than sorry, right?”

Jungkook sighs resignedly, posture slumping a little. “Right.”

Namjoon stands, reaching out to smooth a hand over the youth’s hair in a tactile caress.

“Hey.” The healer clucks Jungkook gently beneath the chin, his smile warm and full of affection. “Since you can’t go to dance practice this evening, how about dinner instead?”

Jungkook’s heart does that fluttery, twisty thing inside his chest again, gaze darting back up quickly, eyes blown wide.

“Dinner?” he echoes, trying not to sound too hopeful.

Namjoon nods, fingertips carefully tracing over a faint red mark on Jungkook’s cheek (he’d bumped his face against the picnic bench at lunchtime trying to catch his fallen shrimp snack before it hit the ground, but it hadn’t been a hard knock so he’d forgotten about it completely until now).

“Tae’s been begging me constantly these past few days to invite you over to the nest,” the healer elaborates, leaning in closer to inspect the faint bruise. “He would’ve done it himself already, but it’s something of a tradition in our culture that the nest leader has to be the first to extend the invitation to a newcomer. And I didn’t want to rush you into things – I know a lot’s happened already this week, and I wanted to give you time to adjust. But I’ll admit I’m a little envious that Hobi and Yoongi got to enjoy the pleasure of your company yesterday evening. I would’ve joined you in a heartbeat, but we were down a healer last night and I couldn’t leave my post.” The vampire’s brow suddenly creases a little, and he leans in closer to the bruise. “Honey, what happened to your cheek?”

Already a little flustered by the vampire’s easy confession, Jungkook feels his cheeks flush even hotter at the petname and how natural it sounds coming from the healer’s lips.  

“I just had a little clumsy moment,” he answers vaguely. “It’s fine though, it doesn’t even hurt.”

Namjoon studies him for a moment with something a little like fond exasperation, before stepping away to fetch an item down from one of the tall, vine-covered cabinets of tinctures. He returns with a small jar of pale-coloured cream, setting it on the bed beside Jungkook’s hip and gently pinching the youth’s chin to tilt his head up.

“So,” the vampire murmurs, carefully massaging the sweet-smelling cream along Jungkook’s cheekbone with his fingertips. “Was that a yes or no to dinner?”

Jungkook swallows, acutely aware of how close they are (and how fucking fast his heart is beating).

“Yes please,” he manages. “If you’re sure it’s not an inconvenience?”

Namjoon smiles, gaze flickering up from the task at hand, warmth and amusement shining in his eyes.

“You’ll never be an inconvenience, Kookie,” the vampire reassures. “Like I told you the other day, you’re a part of our nest now, if you’d like to be. Which means we want to spend quality time with you, get to know you better.”

Jungkook can’t help but return the smile, happiness bubbling up in his chest again so thick and fast that it feels like it’ll start gushing from every orifice at any moment.

“I’d like that,” he reaffirms softly, and is rewarded with a flash of those beautiful dimples, Namjoon’s hand dropping from his cheek to cup the side of his neck beneath his jawline.

“I’ll let Jin know you’ll be joining us,” the healer murmurs. “Since it’s your first time visiting the nest, I’m afraid you won’t be able to find it on your own, even with directions – I’ll ask Jiminie to stop by and pick you up so you don’t have to wait around until the end of my shift.”

The vampire moves to return the jar of salve to its rightful shelf, then quickly traces a swirling pattern on the palm of each hand – a symbol Jungkook vaguely recognises (from his nerdy 3am insomnia-driven internet search engine parties) as a cleansing rune.

“Now, onto a more serious question,” Namjoon continues, crossing over to his desk and lifting the lid on a beautifully painted mason jar. He reaches inside and pulls out two suckers, holding them up for Kookie to see. “Grape or strawberry, kiddo?”

Jungkook can’t quite smother the startled laugh that escapes his lips, but Namjoon’s grin looks distinctly pleased, so he doesn’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

.

Jungkook’s never visited the Old Forest on the outskirts of Seoul.

There hadn’t previously been any real need for him to venture this far out, what with Euphoria and SNU both located in the heart of the city, and all his friends living relatively nearby. Yugyeom’s tried on several occasions over the past eighteen months to drag him out hill-walking on weekends, but there had always been other commitments holding him back (papers to write, books to read, shifts to work), so he’s only really caught fleeting glances of the outer suburbs of the city on a couple of occasions, when he’d fallen asleep on the bus ride home after a long shift at the convenience store and woken up in the middle of nowhere. That’s another reason why he’d stopped buying travel cards and started walking home instead after nightshifts – back when money was still tight, the risk of massively overspending on unnecessary journeys due to his inability to stay awake was a very real threat to his already-precarious financial situation.

Coincidentally, ‘visiting new places’ happens to be number eight on the ‘Kookie Deserves Nice Things’ list, underlined twice (first by Yugyeom, and then by Binnie in that garish sparkly gel pen for added emphasis), and he has a sneaking suspicion that both of his best friends are making secret plans to drag him out to all of their favourite hiking spots around the various hills and forests that surround Seoul.

He’s been trying to keep a mental log of the journey so far, but the outer suburbs are almost completely unfamiliar to him, street names and signposts all blurring into one, and even the fancy apartment buildings are becoming less prominent the closer they get to the border of the forest.

Finally, Jimin makes a sharp right-turn at the end of a long, winding road full of expensive-looking detached houses, slowing the car to a standstill in the middle of a short lane that comes to a dead-end right at the edge of the forest. Jimin turns towards him with an easy smile.

“The nest’s not far from here,” the vampire tells him, then hesitates a moment before asking, “Did Namjoon-hyung happen to tell you anything about the gates?”

It had been hard to concentrate on words when Namjoon’s dimples were so damn distracting, but the conversation between them hadn’t been anything more than comfortable chitchat while they waited for Jimin to arrive; he certainly can’t remember ‘gates’ coming up, at least not in any significant way. So Jungkook shakes his head, watching as Jimin winces ever-so-subtly, before the vampire cranks up his reassuring smile by a few more notches.

“He probably just didn’t want you overthinking it. There’s nothing to be afraid of, but it can be a little…aigoo, how can I put this?”

The vampire takes a deep breath and huffs it out again in a sigh, before letting go of the steering wheel to reach across and gently squeeze Jungkook’s hand where it’s resting on his thigh.

“You’re gonna start to feel kinda weird when we head inside,” Jimin warns him softly. “But it’s totally safe, I promise. The disorientation usually only lasts for a minute or so, you just gotta grit your teeth and wait for it to pass, okay?”

Jungkook’s gaze flits between Jimin’s reassuring smile and the towering treeline of the Old Forest that sits about twenty feet ahead of them at the end of the lane. He feels like he’s missing something obvious here, but he’s reluctant to make himself look stupid by asking dumb questions like inside where exactly?

“You can close your eyes if you want to,” Jimin continues calmly, thumb brushing over the back of Kookie’s knuckles. “Tae used to do that when he first started coming over, otherwise the wards made him feel kinda nauseous. I’ll drive slowly in case you need me to reverse, alright?”

The vampire gives his hand another squeeze, and keeps hold of it as he returns his attention to the short stretch of road in front of them, slowly edging the car closer to the forest. It’s an impenetrable wall of trees and bushes, so Jungkook isn’t entirely sure what Jimin’s planning on doing once he runs out of tarmac, but it feels nice to hold the dancer’s hand like this so he’s not as worried about it as he probably ought to be.

Still…they’re getting a little too close to that giant oak tree for comfort.

“Hyung?” he hedges uncertainly, when Jimin shows no signs of stopping.

“You’re safe, hon,” the vampire reassures without missing a beat, fingers interlocking with Jungkook’s for added comfort. “Whatever you’re seeing, it’s not real.”

Well it sure as hell looks pretty fucking real, and although he trusts Jimin every bit as much as he does Taehyung, he can’t help his body’s natural instinct to tense up and brace himself for impact, sucking in a sharp breath and holding it as the front bonnet of the car ploughs directly into the centre of the oak’s gnarly bough….

…and passes straight through without so much as a bump.

Jungkook’s pressed himself back against the passenger seat, still braced for a crash that hasn’t come, watching wide-eyed as leafy greens and woody browns in a hundred different hues ripple over the windshield like running water, a faint humming sound making air around them vibrate and turning Jungkook’s skin to gooseflesh, his stomach twisting uncomfortably.

I should turn back. This place is dangerous. I need to leave, I shouldn’t be here, it isn’t safe, turn around, leave, go-

“Stay with me,” Jimin murmurs, and Jungkook startles when he realises his free hand has strayed to the passenger side door, fingers fumbling for the handle. “It’s just the gate messing with your head, baby, you’re fine. It’ll pass. You’re safe, Kookie, I promise…”

The rippling colours suddenly vanish as quickly as they’d come, and Jungkook blinks again, staring ahead at the remarkably normal-looking road that’s suddenly appeared directly in front of them. The lane is bordered on either side by a row of tall trees, their boughs curved elegantly inwards towards the road, the uppermost branches interlocking to create a sort of natural tunnel that shades them from the afternoon sunlight.

His heart’s hammering away in his chest and his head’s a little fuzzy (whether it’s from the adrenaline rush of his almost-crash or due to the effects of the ‘gate’, Jungkook can’t be sure), and he startles again when warm fingers cup his jaw, turning his head gently. Jimin’s leaning over from the driver’s seat, his expression faintly concerned.

“Do you feel sick, honey?” the vampire presses, thumb tenderly caressing his cheek.

Jungkook’s still trying to get his head around what the hell just happened with the treeline-that-wasn’t-a-treeline, but he finds Jimin’s touch wonderfully soothing, tensed muscles relaxing instinctively as he tilts his cheek into the vampire’s palm, panic receding as his heartbeat begins to slow down again.

“I’m okay,” he manages, a little shaky just from the rush of it all. “That was…whoa.”

A fond little smile curls at Jimin’s mouth, but his gaze is full of gentle understanding.

“The first time’s always a bit of a shock to the system,” he sympathises softly. “But it’ll get easier, hon. The gates don’t recognise you as part of our coven yet – they were probably telling you to get the hell outta here, right?”

Jungkook nods, remembering that almost irresistible urge to turn tail and run, to jump out of the car and head back towards the main road. Something had tapped into his most basic survival instincts to try and convince him to leave…and honestly, in a little while, he’ll be really fucking impressed with how incredibly efficient an anti-burglary system that is; just as soon as he’s recovered enough for his befuddled brain to fully comprehend the enormity of it all.

“What did it look like?” the vampire asks curiously. “The barrier? Everyone sees it a little differently. Sometimes it’s a wall, a giant rock, a wire fence-”

“Trees,” Jungkook interrupts, still a little in awe at how realistic everything had seemed. “It looked just like the rest of the forest, with this big old oak-tree right in the middle.”

“Huh.” Jimin seems almost impressed by his answer. “Must be a new upgrade.”

The passenger-side window rolls down with a soft whirr at the click of a button, and Jimin nods towards it, letting go of Jungkook’s hand after one final squeeze.

“Why don’t you take another look?”

Hesitating only for a brief moment, Jungkook unclasps his seatbelt to lean out of the window a little, glancing back the way they came in. He sucks in another sharp breath at the sight of a shimmering wall of light hovering suspended in the air at the end of the tree-tunnel a little ways behind them. It almost looks like a veil fluttering in the wind, colours rippling across the surface with every little movement as it hangs like a curtain at the mouth of the tunnel, hiding them from the world beyond.

“Holy fuck,” he breathes, leaning back inside the car again and glancing towards Jimin, wide-eyed. “I mean…how?”

“Jin-hyung,” the vampire answers simply, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. “He wanted to keep the nest protected even when he wasn’t home, so he put up a whole ton of wards along the border to keep people out. Hyung says it’s basically like camouflage, but with a little extra something thrown in so that anyone who accidentally stumbles across the opening will feel compelled to turn around and walk back out again before they actually see anything. The gates aren’t really a physical barrier so much as a mental one, I guess, but if the wards are triggered by an outsider then the whole coven feels it; like an internal burglar-alarm, or something. I’ve heard that some older covens still use traditional iron gates and gargoyles as an intimidation tactic to keep out trespassers, but hyung didn’t want to draw attention to the nest; he doesn’t like people knowing where we live. Also a real gate would look ugly as fuck, and Jin-hyung’s picky about décor.”

It’s a lot to take in, so Jungkook just nods dumbly. Jimin has definitely confirmed Jungkook’s previous theory about just how powerful Kim Seokjin is, but as far as who or rather what he really is, well, now Kookie’s got just about a hundred new questions in need of answering.

Suddenly Jimin’s brow furrows, his head snapping to the side to stare out of the windshield towards winding driveway ahead of them. Jungkook follows his line of sight, spotting a lone figure sprinting down the lane towards the car, and his heart flutters pleasantly in his chest when he realises who it is.

Beside him, Jimin lets out an exasperated sigh and moves to open the car door.

“Aish, Taehyungie…”

Jungkook follows suit and clambers out the passenger-side door on slightly unsteady legs (his recent adrenaline rush is still affecting him, clearly), but his smile is genuine as Taehyung makes a beeline straight for him and sweeps Kookie up in a tight hug. The human-hybrid laughs, wrapping his arms around Taehyung in return, a dozen happy emotions bubbling up inside of him, although whether they’re his or Tae’s he can’t quite tell. It doesn’t matter anyway, because it feels awesome.

“You didn’t tell me you were coming to visit!” his bondmate exclaims, pulling back after a beat to pout at Jungkook. Then he shoots a faux-affronted look towards Jimin. “I wanted to be with him the first time he went through the gates.”

“Joon-hyung said you’d get too excited if I called ahead,” the older vampire answers, leaning his hip against the car and crossing his arms over his chest as he arches an eyebrow at Taehyung. “He was worried you might do something dumb like go outside without protection.”

Jimin has a point. It isn’t half as sunny now that it’s late afternoon, but it’s still daylight, and Tae’s not even wearing a hat. Jungkook feels his own brow crease a little in concern.

Taehyung sees his expression and groans softly, slipping his hand into Jungkook’s. “The trees are protection enough, babydoll, don’t look so worried. Minnie’s just being a fusspot. I was only out in the open for like, half a minute.”

“Uh-huh.” Jimin sends the nestling an amused look. “Is that what you’re gonna tell Jin-hyung when he realises you ran outside in a t-shirt? Because that’s a whole lot of exposed skin there, Tae.”

The younger vampire winces. “Hyung’s busy in the kitchen, maybe he won’t notice.”

“Sure, honey,” Jimin agrees, in a tone that suggests he suspects the opposite. He shrugs out of his jacket and unceremoniously throws it over Tae’s head. “There. If you’re lucky, he’ll think that’s yours. C’mon, Kook, the nest’s just around the corner, we’ll give you the guided tour…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The house is beautiful.

Jungkook isn’t sure what he’d been expecting (his imagination hadn’t been able to decide whether Tae’s nestmates would prefer modern-but-fancy architecture or a more traditional castle-like abode), but the modest and homey-looking manor house with its wooden-panelled balconies and slate-roofed turrets is a definite surprise.

And yet, somehow, it suits the Kim coven perfectly.

Although there’s a fairly sizeable clearing that separates the large house from the surrounding woodland, the forest is still growing everywhere he looks – green vines crawling up the brickwork and hanging like drapes along the balconies, undoubtedly providing shade from the daylight to those within. Colour blooms here and there along the roof where wild flowers have taken root and grown between the slates, and some sort of blossoming vine has weaved itself around and around the pillars either side of the front door like a decorative garland. Knowing the influence both Jin and Namjoon seem to have over all things that grow, it’s entirely possible that they coaxed the vines to grow that way deliberately.

Jungkook stops gaping at his surroundings when Taehyung suddenly eeps and lets go of his hand to dart behind Jimin.

“Hide me.”

The dancer sighs fondly and reaches for Kookie’s hand himself, continuing on up the pavestone path towards the house and dragging a reluctant Taehyung behind him. The reason for the nestling’s sudden nervousness becomes clear when the heavy-looking front door swings open to reveal Kim Seokjin standing on the other side; the elder vampire is dressed in black slacks and a silver-grey shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and a dark maroon apron tied about his waist.

“Kookie.” Jin’s lips curl into a warm smile the moment his gaze settles on Jungkook, and he opens his arms invitingly.

“Welcome home, little one.”

Happiness and excitement bubble up inside of him, and something a little bit like hope swells in his chest at the word home.

He can’t quite explain it, but there’s something in the air here, a rich warmth that’s surrounded him like a soft blanket ever since he first stepped out of the car. Maybe it’s just his bunny-hybrid genes feeling really fucking relieved to be away from the city and surrounded by nature for the first time in forever, but secretly he already knows it runs a lot deeper than that. There’s part of him that’s always been quietly yearning for the comfort and security that Yugyeom had found with the Im-pack, and that Binnie’s been discovering with Eunwoo’s mates; an instinctive, primal need to be loved and wanted in a romantic sense and not just an honorary platonic member of his best friends’ packs. With Taehyung and the Kim coven, that part of him tentatively hopes that he’s found somewhere he truly belongs.

If he gives it too much thought, there’s a danger he’ll open up a whole well of insecurities that he’s kept firmly on lock-down for the duration of his young adult life, so he pushes it to the back of his mind with practiced ease and focuses instead on enjoying every nanosecond of Seokjin’s warm embrace.

Oh, but he’d forgotten how good it felt to be in Jin’s arms like this. Seriously, his hugs are so…so everything. He’s strong, but he doesn’t squeeze too tight. He’s tall, which means Kookie fits perfectly under his chin, and pressed together like this he can sense the love and affection literally seeping into every pore and filling him with this wonderful feeling of safe-cosy-contentedness.

“It’s good to see you off your crutches,” Jin murmurs, pulling away just enough to peer down at him with open tenderness. “When Joonie called to say you were at the clinic, I honestly feared the worst. But he told me everything’s healing up nicely. Does it hurt at all?”

Jungkook shakes his head, face warming at the vampire’s close attention, but content to be held close like this for the rest of his goddamn life, please and thank you.

“I felt you pass through the gates,” Jin continues, his voice hushed, stroking the backs of his fingers down Jungkook’s cheek. “I imagine that was a rather disconcerting experience. I’m sorry if it unsettled you, dearheart, but I have something that ought to help you next time.”

The vampire pulls a pendant from the front pocket of his apron – a smooth, amber-coloured oval gemstone etched with tiny runes in an intricate spiralling pattern – slipping the necklace over Jungkook’s head and then carefully tucking the stone beneath the fabric of his shirt.

“The gates will learn to recognise you as one of us soon enough,” Jin tells him, hand resting over the gemstone through Jungkook’s shirt. “But this will grant you safe passage through my territory in the meantime. The doorway won’t be hidden from you as long as you’re wearing it, and the protection charm it carries should nullify the border’s defensive wards. It won’t feel quite so unsettling the next time you visit us.”

Jungkook blinks, stunned and a little speechless.

Wait….had Seokjin basically just given him his own personal key to the nest? No questions asked, no fealty sworn, just granted him completely unfettered access to the vampire’s heavily-warded and carefully protected territory? That level of trust though, holy fuck, Jungkook hasn’t even done anything to earn it yet.

“Hyung, you…” he murmurs, struggling to articulate with all these feelings welling up inside of him. “I…thank you.”

And although it doesn’t seem anywhere near adequate enough in light of enormity of what Jin is offering him, the vampire appears to understand the depth of the sentiment behind it all the same, his smile softening as his hands move to gently frame Jungkook’s face, leaning in to press a tender kiss to the youth’s brow.

“Now,” Jin says brightly after a beat, finally pulling away again. “Jiminie, darling, why don’t you show Jungkook around? TaeTae and I need to have a lengthy conversation about unnecessary sunlight exposure.”

Taehyung whines softly, but he sounds more petulant than upset, a little like Moonbin whenever Jungkook refuses to let him go outside for a run in the pouring rain (“but hyung, it’s so refreshing!”), and he feels his own lips curl up in a fond smile that matches Jimin’s as the dancer steps forward to loop an arm around Jungkook’s waist.

“C’mon, beautiful,” Jimin coaxes, steering him inside. “Yoongi’s probably waiting for us. I hope you like tea…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Tea’, as it turns out, involves a whole lot more than just dumping a teabag into a mug and adding hot water.

Considering he works in a butler café, Jungkook feels like he really ought to understand the art of tea-brewing by now, but they have such an extensive menu of unique drinks and foodstuffs that nobody really visits Euphoria just to order tea unless it’s part of a themed afternoon cream-tea set. And to be fair, ninety percent of the food and drink prep happens in the kitchens, Kookie just knows how to add the finishing touches and serve it with a smile.

“I used to run a tea shop in Daegu,” Yoongi confesses, kneeling carefully amid the array of plump cushions that surround the low mahogany table and leaning over to refill Jungkook’s dainty, hand-painted china cup. “With a little palm-reading on the side, of course.”

Hoseok chuckles, cradling his own cup between his hands. “Of course.”

“The shop’s still registered under my name,” Yoongi continues, setting the beautiful teapot back down again and removing the wire strainer from Jungkook’s cup. “Although I haven’t been back there in a very long time. I have a branch here in Seoul that I oversee from a distance, but mostly I experiment with herbal blends – creating new teas is something of a hobby of mine. And I’m lucky enough to live with willing test subjects; haven’t poisoned anyone yet, so I must be doing something right.”

“You’ve never made a bad tea, hyung,” Jimin proclaims loyally, and tilts his cheek up to accept Yoongi’s kiss with a smile. Using a pair of small tongs to select a sweet from the multi-tiered cake stand in the centre of the table, the dancer offers it to Jungkook on a tiny china plate. “Here, Kookie, try this one next.”

Jungkook’s grateful that his increased metabolism has gifted him with a bigger-than-average appetite, because otherwise there’s no way he’d feasibly be able to eat dinner after all this. It’s like Jimin and the others are trying to fatten him up or something, given the number of cakes and pastries they’ve insisted he try over the course of the past twenty minutes.

He’s not full exactly, but he’s comfortably well-fed and just a little bit sleepy, probably a side-effect of drinking several cups of the warm, soothing herbal tea. It really is delicious; Jungkook’s never really been a huge tea-drinker, but Yoongi’s well on his way to converting him already, and he’s only tried one of the seemingly limitless varieties the vampire has to offer.

They’re taking tea in Yoongi’s study; a spacious room lined with bookshelves and knickknacks, an antique writing bureau tucked away in one corner, a padded alcove in the other (clearly used as a quiet reading nook, if the blanket and bookmarked novel are any indication). On the far side of the room there’s a wall of cabinets similar to the ones back in Namjoon’s clinic, although instead of glass jars full of tinctures and balms, there’s just row upon row of carefully-labelled tea tins. And while the teas are all sealed and stored away behind the glass door of the cabinet, the room still smells wonderful, an amalgamation of a hundred different faintly sweet scents blending together with that wonderfully unique smell of old, well-loved books. Jungkook wants to roll in it and carry that scent around everywhere he goes, it’s so comforting.

The balcony doors have been thrown open so that the cool afternoon breeze wafts in lazily. Thick green vines hang like curtains above the balcony railing outside, helpfully intercepting any direct sunbeams, but still allowing enough light to permeate the room that they needn’t switch on the overhead lamps, the study dimly but comfortably lit to create a calm, cosy atmosphere as they sit and drink tea together.

And man, Jungkook had thought Moonbin had a hoarding problem when it comes to cushions and pillows, but Binnie’s collection isn’t a patch on Yoongi’s. The hardwood floor is barely visible beneath the layers of multi-coloured padding, but it’s comfy as fuck, and Jungkook can’t help but imagine how nice it would be to stretch out here for a nap before dinner.

“Tired, sweetheart?” Hoseok murmurs, leaning around the edge of the table to smooth Jungkook’s hair down at the back, hand coming to rest on the youth’s nape. “Joonie won’t be home until seven-thirty, so we tend to eat late. Why don’t you close your eyes for a little while? We’ll wake you in time for dinner.”

Jungkook wants to protest (he still hasn’t seen the rest of the house and he’s insatiably curious about everything), but a yawn stoppers his argument before it’s even begun, and he smiles bashfully when Hoseok’s eyes crinkle fondly at the corners.

“Here, Kookie,” Jimin coaxes, pulling two enticingly squishy-looking pillows into his lap and patting the space between them. “You don’t have to sleep, maybe you can just lay down for a little while.”

It’s almost embarrassing how little persuasion it takes before his resolve crumbles entirely, and he’s setting his empty teacup back in its saucer to shift out of his cross-legged position and list sideways against the veritable mound of cushions, head pillowed in Jimin’s lap as he stretches out comfortably. The mahogany table is low enough that he can stills see Hoseok and Yoongi’s fond smiles even from this angle, and he averts his gaze, heart fluttering pleasantly in his chest.

Aigoo, why do they all have to be so nice?

Jimin’s fingers card through his hair soothingly, and Jungkook’s eyelids begin to grow heavier as the minutes pass, although a niggling concern about his bondmate keeps him from slipping under entirely. Taehyung’s been gone a while now, and if Seokjin’s conversations are anything like Jaebum’s whenever Yugyeom is in trouble, he can only sympathise.

Yoongi suddenly rises from the nest of cushions without a word, moving to fetch another cup and saucer from one of the display cabinets, setting it down beside Hoseok’s place and dragging his fingers through the empath’s hair in a casual caress, gaze lingering on the door.

“Taehyungie?” Hoseok asks quietly.

“Mm,” Yoongi confirms, gaze flitting towards the tea set for a moment before he shakes his head, reaching down to remove the cup again abruptly. “I don’t think he’s in the mood for tea.”

“Ah,” Hoseok acknowledges, tugging up the right sleeve of his dark cashmere sweater and leaning back more comfortably against the side of the padded armchair. “Cuddles it is.”

Jungkook blinks sleepily at the mention of his bondmate, determined to stay awake if Tae’s about to join them. As it happens, only matter of seconds later, there’s a quiet tap on the door, and Taehyung pokes his head inside. The nestling’s gaze immediately finds Jungkook, a faint crease of concern pinching his brow.

“Kookie?”

“He’s fine, baby,” Yoongi soothes, closing the display cabinet (having returned the cup and saucer to their rightful shelf) and holding out a hand towards the younger vampire. “Just a little tired. Why don’t you come sit with us?”

Taehyung pads closer, slipping his hand into Yoongi’s and letting the Seer lead him over to the nest of cushions. His bubbly, youthful energy seems a little dampened, and as he nears the table, Jungkook’s able to make out his faintly red-rimmed eyes. His heart clenches a little at the sight (Tae looking anything other than happy just doesn’t seem right), and he’s about to sit up and reach for his bondmate instinctively when Hoseok beats him to it, the empath snagging hold of Taehyung’s wrist and pulling the nestling down into his lap for a cuddle.

“Jin-hyung doesn’t like scolding you, sweetheart,” Hoseok murmurs, cradling Tae’s face between his hands and rubbing their noses together in a tender nuzzle. “None of us do. But we can’t have you running off and getting sunburnt every other day, it’s not good for your health.”

Taehyung sighs, pouting cutely, but nodding all the same. “I know. And I’m sorry, I don’t mean to keep worrying everybody all the time.”

“You’re our nestling, treasure,” Yoongi interrupts softly, kneeling beside Hoseok to gently cup Tae’s nape and press a kiss to the side of his head. “We want to keep you safe. Worrying’s part of the job description.”

It sounds remarkably like the sort of phrase Jaebum will murmur to him after a firm talking-to, when Jungkook’s still feeling small and sorry and more than a little vulnerable. He always figured it was an Alpha-comfort thing, but maybe there’s a universal protective-hyung guidebook he doesn’t know about.

“You want some tea, honey?” Jimin asks, fingers continuing their soothing ministrations against Jungkook’s scalp. “It’s blackberry and elderflower.”

Taehyung shakes his head, swiping at his eyes with a quiet sniff.

Hoseok kisses him softly, then tucks him in closer for a snuggle, offering Taehyung his bared wrist with a gentle smile.

“Hungry?”

The younger vampire hesitates, his gaze flickering briefly towards Jungkook, who’s been watching it all sleepily from his curled-up position nearby.

“I’m sure Kookie doesn’t mind,” Hoseok reassures. “Right, sweetheart?”

Jungkook shakes his head immediately, not wanting Tae to think for a second that seeing him feed will make him feel uncomfortable. It’s not like it’s inappropriate or anything, but he’s well aware that it’s not really something vampire’s do outside their own homes. They’ll consume blood products in public cafes and restaurants, but drinking from a glass isn’t quite the same as feeding. Blood is usually drunk in a manner that doesn’t requires them to use their fangs, since the endorphins released by the process of feeding significantly impacts on a vampire’s ability to adequately protect themselves from potential threats. It’s a well-known fact that vampires are at their most vulnerable when they’re feeding, with limited awareness of their surroundings and any dangers that might arise. That’s why the vast majority of vampires will only bare their fangs in private, within the safety of their own nest or in the company of other vampires who can protect them if necessary.

That’s why Jungkook knows Taehyung had been beyond starving the first time they’d met. He hadn’t really acknowledged it at the time, too focused on helping his sickly-looking friend, but must’ve gone against every single one of Tae’s self-preservation instincts to let Jungkook help him feed from the blood pouch like that; to bare his fangs and drink so deeply that he was boneless and blood-drunk and smiling up at Jungkook, all sated and sleepy. Tae had really put his trust in Jungkook that night. No wonder Jin had been so quick to shift into a defensive stance when he’d found his nestling in a stranger’s home.

“C’mon, Tae,” Hoseok murmurs, drawing the nestling in closer and lifting his wrist again. “I know you’re thirsty, baby.”

Taehyung’s hands come up to loosely grip Hoseok’s forearm, and Jungkook catches a brief glimpse of sharp fangs before his mouth seals around the elder vampire’s wrist. The empath smiles warmly, free arm curling further around Taehyung, coaxing the nestling to tuck his head down against Hoseok’s chest as he feeds.

“There you go,” the empath breathes, resting his cheek against Tae’s chestnut-brown hair, looking utterly content. “Good boy.”

It’s so fucking tender, Jungkook’s gonna melt into a pile of goo right here and now. Honestly, the media portrays vampire covens so apathetically, he feels like someone should sue. He had no idea feeding could be like this – used as a way to soothe and comfort an upset nestmate. It’s an intimate act, for sure, but he’d always assumed its primary purpose was just to sate a vampire’s hunger, with the intimacy as an added kinky-bonus. Hoseok, however, seems to be using it as a way to enhance some quality cuddle time, almost like the feeding’s an afterthought to the tactile comfort. Jungkook can tell by the small, infrequent movements of Tae’s throat that the nestling isn’t really drinking a lot, but he already looks a whole lot happier, snuggling into Hoseok’s embrace with a contented sigh.

And Jungkook can’t help it – his imagination automatically going to picture himself in Hoseok’s position, cuddled up with Taehyung someplace cosy and secure, comforting and soothing his bondmate just like that. He wonders what it feels like. Moonbin’s come home from a night at Eunwoo’s place with feeding-marks before (tiny pinprick puncture wounds on his wrist or neck), but Jungkook’s always been too polite to ask about them. Maybe he needs to sit his roommate down and have a proper chat. For scientific purposes, of course.

The metal strainer chinks softly against china as Yoongi refills his cup, the sound of tea being poured filling the room for a moment before a comfortable hush descends again. Jungkook’s eyelids are getting heavier, but that might have something to do with the way Jimin fingers have moved to start gently massaging his neck.

He swears his eyes only drift shut for a few seconds, but when he opens them again Taehyung has shifted in Hoseok’s hold, apparently done feeding, snuggled up against the empath and sleeping soundly. The mahogany table has been pushed further out of the way, and Yoongi has moved to sit beside Hoseok, an arm curled comfortably around his nestmate’s shoulders as they whisper together softly.

Jungkook shifts a little, wondering how long he’s been out and what time it is, but he stills when Jimin’s fingers sink back into his hair again (at some point the petting had stopped, but he can’t recall when). Both Yoongi and Hoseok glance towards him at his quiet shuffling, their matching smiles full of gentle affection.

“Hey, sweetheart,” Hoseok murmurs, both arms wrapped snugly around the snoozing nestling in his lap.  “You’re fine, it’s still the afternoon.”

“We’ve got a couple more hours until Joonie gets home,” Yoongi adds softly, tilting his head to lean it against Hoseok’s. “Two and a half if he stays late to reset that werecat’s arm. Go ahead and take another nap, I know you’re tired.”

He isn’t wrong. Jungkook’s so damn sleepy, even though he’d slept like a log last night. It’s weird. If he wasn’t so fucking contented, all curled up in Jimin’s lap like this, he’d probably be worried.

“It’s the protection charm, baby,” Jimin pipes up quietly, sounding faintly apologetic. “It really drains you the first time. Best thing to do is sleep it off, trust me. You’ll feel better after a nap.”

Jungkook already feels pretty fucking good, but he can’t deny that another nap sounds like a fantastic idea. He has questions (so many questions), but meh, they can all wait until he’s a little more coherent.

 

 

 


 

The Kim Coven Manor House

This is the closest thing I could find to the style of manor-house I picture them living in. Imagine it about 3 times wider with a vegetable garden and a huge greenhouse out the back, and you've got it just about right.

Chapter Text

 

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Gentle fingers smooth Jungkook’s fringe back from his forehead, and he stirs with a quiet hum, still floating on the brink of sleep, body lax with the contented cosiness of a nice long nap. He feels so warm and safe right now, he wishes he could just stay snuggled up like this forever. And he really, really doesn’t want to go to work tonight.

Just five more minutes, Binnie…

“Hey there, sleepyhead,” someone murmurs, far too deep and rumbly to be Moonbin, their feather-light touch trailing down over his temple to softly stroke his cheek. “I’m sorry to wake you, but dinner’s almost ready.”

Recognising both the voice and the gentle caress as Namjoon’s, Jungkook opens his eyes, blinking sleepily up at the healer and immediately feeling his stomach swoop when he encounters a familiar dimpled smile. Jungkook finds himself returning it shyly, tilting his cheek into the vampire’s touch, body thrumming with warmth at the gentle, tactile affection.

Something indescribably fond flits across Namjoon’s expression, the corners of the healer’s eyes crinkling as he leans down to press a soft kiss to Kookie’s brow, his warm palm gently cradling the youth’s cheek. Jungkook closes his eyes as his breath catches in his throat, heart fluttering at the tenderness of it all.

“Is he awake?” another voice whispers loudly from somewhere nearby, and Jungkook opens his eyes again to glance across to where Jimin’s leaning in the doorway to Yoongi’s study. The vampire visibly brightens when their eyes meet, stepping further into the room. “Hey, bunny. Feeling better?”

Jungkook nods, allowing Namjoon to help him sit up amid the nest of faintly tea-scented cushions, rolling his shoulders and flexing his fingers and toes to shake off the residual heaviness of his prolonged nap. He feels wonderfully well-rested, and a quick glance towards the open balcony doors reveals that the sun is already setting, the slivers of sky he can see between the drape-like vines tinged lilac and dark orange as daylight wanes.

Holy…he’s never napped so comfortably outside of his own bedroom before; not even at the Im-pack’s den, which has practically become a second home to him thanks to Yugyeom. Although he trusts Jaebum and the other wolves with his life, there’s still a part of him that’s always too hyper-aware of his surroundings whenever he leaves the apartment. He’ll maybe manage a light doze if he’s snuggled up with Yugyeom and the other makanes in front of a movie after a good meal, but Jungkook’s never been able to fully switch off his heightened senses enough to actually sleep, not unless he’s cosied up in the safety of his own bed back home.

On Sunday, after he’d passed out at work, he’d chalked up the lengthy nap he’d taken in Namjoon’s clinic to being a symptom of his poor state of health post-migraine, but he doesn’t have that excuse today; he’d slept just fine last night, and he’s been headache-free for a record breaking three days now thanks to Namjoon’s healing touch, so there’s really no reason for him to have conked out like that for two solid hour in a house he’s never even visited before today.

It’s almost as if, in the space of a single afternoon, he’s subconsciously accepted the Kim-coven nest as his new home; like his inner hybrid actually feels deeply, truly safe here, enough to completely switch off his usual self-preservation instincts. And that’s…

Fuck, that’s big.

“This is looking better,” Namjoon murmurs, apparently unaware of Jungkook’s internal life-changing epiphany, fingertips gently tracing over the faint bruise on his cheek. “Does it still hurt?”

It takes a moment for the question to register (he’s still trying to wrap his head around the whole napping situation), so a beat of silence passes before Jungkook realises he’s supposed to be giving an answer, fringe flopping over his brow as he shakes his head quickly. The healer breathes a quiet laugh, reaching out to smooth Kookie’s fringe back from his forehead as he regards him fondly.

Jimin wanders over from the doorway to drape himself over Namjoon’s back, smiling down at Kookie with his chin resting on his mate’s shoulder.

“You looked so cute when you were sleeping,” the vampire-shifter tells him affectionately. “I didn’t have the heart to wake you, so I had to get reinforcements. Joonie-hyung came home just in time.”

“Always happy to help,” Namjoon returns warmly, turning his head to press a kiss to Jimin’s cheek as he lifts a hand to gently card his fingers through the dancer’s blond hair. “Although I’m a little surprised to see you alone. Where’s Taehyungie?”

“He’s sleeping upstairs,” Jimin answers distractedly, tilting his head into the elder’s petting with a happy sigh. “I was gonna wake him a little while ago, but Yoongi-hyung wanted you to do it. Tae got scolded again this afternoon, so I guess he’s probably feeling a little...”

“Ah,” Namjoon acknowledges with apparent understanding. He glances back down at Jungkook, clucks him gently beneath the chin with one last fond look, and pushes himself to his feet.

Jimin makes a quiet noise of protest, clinging onto the healer’s shoulders for a long moment, socked feet dangling several inches above the floor. Namjoon sniffs a grin, hands coming up to settle over the arms wrapped around his neck.

“Angel…”

With a reluctant sigh, Jimin relinquishes his hold on Namjoon and slips down from the healer’s back. Chuckling, the elder vampire turns to tug Jimin closer, using a finger to gently tilt his younger mate’s chin up as he leans in for a kiss.

“Why don’t you show Kookie down to the dining room?” Namjoon suggests quietly as they break apart. “I’ll go wake Tae. We won’t be long.”

The younger vampire nods, leaning up on his tiptoes to nuzzle Namjoon’s cheek one last time before stepping out of his arms and turning to offer both hands to Jungkook with a cheerful smile.

“C’mon, beautiful,” Jimin encourages, helping the youth to his feet. “You must be getting hungry. Let’s go join the others.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to being perhaps the most powerful individual that Jungkook has ever encountered, Seokjin is apparently a master of culinary arts.

Dinner is incredible.

The main course is rack of lamb, cooked soft and tender and drizzled with a rich sauce that Jungkook could honestly drink by the ladleful like soup if he was home alone and nobody was looking. He can’t even begin to guess the ingredients, it’s like nothing he’s ever tried before, somehow both savoury and sweet at the same time. And then there’s all the accompaniments – creamy dauphinoise potatoes, buttered carrots and honey-glazed parsnips, tureens of sweet mangetout and green beans, baskets of fresh bread rolls still warm from the oven. Every inch of the large mahogany dining table is occupied by a platter or dish of some kind, and it’s a truly impressive spread. Jungkook almost wishes he were incapable of feeling full (like Yugyeom, who could literally eat as a competitive sport if he wanted to), because every bite he takes just leaves him wanting more.

“Jin-hyung and Joonie travelled across Europe together before they met the rest of us,” Hoseok explains, leaning over on Jungkook’s left to slide another serving of lamb onto the youth’s plate. “Hyung took up cooking as a hobby while they were living in Paris, which is why everything tastes so wonderful.”

“Why thank you, beloved,” Jin tilts his wine glass towards the empath with a smile.

Jimin stands up to lean across the table and refill Jungkook’s water glass. “He’s even better at desserts,” the dancer offers keenly. “He made most of the cakes you tried earlier in Yoongi-hyung’s study. Good thing you’ve got a sweet tooth, Kookie.”

“Hyung makes the best crepes,” Taehyung adds from Jungkook’s other side, not seeming to notice as Namjoon slips him a pinker cut of meat from the healer’s own plate.  

Jungkook has observed Tae’s nestmates doing that on numerous occasions throughout the meal. His own meat is cooked to perfection, ideal for a bunny-hybrid palate, but some of the meat further down the table does appear to be significantly rarer than his own, the juices running more red than pink. And he knows undercooked and rare meats tend to be a vampire’s preference – Binnie’s bemoaned to him on more than one occasion about Eunwoo eating steak so undercooked that the outside is barely seared, but the fact of the matter is, a vampire’s tastebuds are simply wired a little differently when it comes to meat.

He doesn’t mind a medium-rare steak on occasion, but even though he’s only one-quarter bunny hybrid, Jungkook’s never really been able to stomach anything rarer than that. The one and only time he’d tried yukhoe as a teenager (on Yugyeom’s insistence that raw beef was the best thing in the world), he’d thrown up in an alley on the way home not twenty minutes later. Never again.

Considering just how many sweet pastries and cakes he’d consumed up in Yoongi’s study only a few hours ago, he’s actually managed to eat an impressive amount of dinner. It helps that Hoseok keeps topping up his plate with more side-dishes every five minutes, and the fact that it’s all so delicious makes it difficult for him to decline the offer, even though he already knows he’s going to regret having eyes too big for his stomach later tonight when he struggles to climb up the stairs to his apartment. He really, really hopes the elevators are still working by the time he gets home.

“Aigoo, you eat so well,” Jin keeps praising him, looking inordinately pleased every time Jungkook manages to clear a portion of his plate.

That’s something he’s used to hearing from the Im-pack hyungs, too. And just like Hoseok, Jaebum and Jinyoung (often assisted by Mark and Jackson) are constantly trying to sneak extra food onto his plate whenever he manages to make it over to the den for dinner, watching him eat with open satisfaction when they think he isn’t looking. And they’re always slipping Tupperware boxes into his backpack on his way out the door – or, in Jackson’s case, thrusting them into his arms and making him pinky-swear to come back for more as soon as they’re empty.

“Aigoo, you’re so tiny,” the werewolf always bemoans, typically with a hand clutched to his chest for dramatic emphasis. “One of these days you’re just gonna disappear on me, Bunbun. You’ll come over for dinner this Saturday, right?”

And Jungkook will fidget, apologetic. “Hyung…you know I can’t. I gotta go to work…”

“Jinyoung-ah!” Jackson invariably responds, tugging Jungkook by the wrist back through the house towards the kitchen. “Get another box!”

So to some extent, Jungkook is fully accustomed to being ‘fattened up’ like this, but previously there’s always been someone else (like Moonbin or Yugyeom) to share in that close attention and lessen the impact a little. Being the sole focus of six doting hyungs who all seem intent on making sure he eats his fill is a very different experience indeed.

Still…Jungkook would be lying if he said he didn’t like it.

From his seat at end of the table on the other side of Hoseok, Yoongi suddenly drops his fork with a clatter against his plate and sits bolt-upright.

“Kookie,” the Seer cautions, a faint note of urgency in his voice. “You might wanna swallow, sweetheart.”

“Mm?” Jungkook hums confusedly, still chewing his mouthful, but he’s distracted from Yoongi’s warning by a sudden sharp tapping noise on the dining room window.

Jungkook takes one look at the giant winged creature looming in the shadows outside and promptly chokes on his food.

“Odengie!” Jin scolds, but Jungkook’s too busy trying not to die to pay him much attention.

Hoseok thumps him on the back as he hacks grossly into a napkin, and over his own coughing he hears the scraping of chair legs against the floorboards and the sound of footsteps swiftly approaching. Then his chair is being pulled back sharply, a large hand coming around to gently cup over the apple of his throat as a finger quickly traces a swirling pattern across his back.

A strange, buzzing sort of pressure builds Jungkook’s chest until it feels ready to pop, before a firm hand smacks him solidly between the shoulder blades, and just like that the coughing fit subsides, his airways completely cleared without even a trace of the irritation that would usually linger after a near-choking episode.

“Sorry I had to thump you like that,” Namjoon murmurs from behind him, his touch on Jungkook’s throat now a gentle caress as he rubs slow circles between his shoulders, soothing the ache there. “Are you alright?”

Nodding, Jungkook swipes at his streaming eyes, cheeks red both from embarrassment and from almost coughing his lungs up, turning a little in his seat to glance back at the healer.

“Thank you,” he rasps, and cracks a wincing smile. “Guess I should’ve listened to Yoongi-hyung.”

Smiling softly, Namjoon smooths his fingertips over one of Jungkook’s burning cheeks, the skin there tingling for a moment before the heat in his face blessedly cools by several degrees.

“I’m sorry, sweetheat,” Yoongi apologises, his expression pinched as he rubs at his temples. “I’d been looking too far ahead, I wasn’t focused enough to see…aish, if I’d warned you sooner-”

Wordlessly, Hoseok lifts a hand to cup the side of Yoongi’s neck, and the Seer cuts himself off mid-sentence, closing his eyes briefly and taking a steadying breath, the tension easing from his posture.

“It wasn’t your fault, hyung,” Jungkook insists in the beat of silence that follows, watching as Jimin scoots his chair closer to Yoongi’s to curl around the elder vampire in a sideways hug. “It probably would’ve happened even if you’d warned me about it hours ago. I choke on my food all the time at home, it’s no biggie.”

Taehyung and Jimin both make matching sounds of alarm at the confession, and Jungkook smiles at them self-deprecatingly. It’s not like he chokes on purpose…Binnie just has a habit of doing hilariously adorable walrus impressions whenever they eat anything that even vaguely resembles tusks, and Jungkook always ends up laughing with his mouth full. Moonbin’s never had to do the Heimlich manoeuvre on him before, but he’s come pretty close on a couple of occasions.

Remembering the looming shadow that had caused him to choke in the first place, Jungkook’s eyes dart back towards the tall dining room windows…but the creature from before has vanished, and all he sees is grass and trees dimly lit by the fast-waning daylight.

Jin catches his gaze and smiles sympathetically.

“I’m sorry if Odengie startled you, little one,” he says quietly. “The cubs know better than to make an unexpected appearance when we have guests over, but given your bond with Tae, I imagine they were more than a little excited to meet you in person. I’ll introduce you properly after dinner.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I can’t believe you have pet griffins,” Jungkook enthuses, falling back against the soft grassy embankment beside Tae to stare up at the glass panels of the greenhouse’s tall domed ceiling. “Like holy fuck, hyung.”

His bondmate laughs, rolling over onto his side to regard Jungkook with a soft smile, head propped up on one hand. The lamp-like orbs that hover suspended in the air far above them cast the spacious greenhouse in a pale blue light (the only explanation Jungkook had been given regarding their origin was an casual “oh, Jin-hyung made them”, no surprise there), and Taehyung’s skin almost seems to glow beneath it.

For a moment all the wonders that Jungkook has beheld this evening fade away; Hoseok’s full-sized dance studio in the house’s basement, Tae’s fully-equipped arcade in what had apparently once been the nestling’s bedroom, Namjoon’s vast greenhouse filled to the brim with lush plantlife in a thousand vibrant colours, Seokjin’s pet griffins. All of those details recede to the far corners of his mind as he stares at his bondmate for a long moment, utterly captivated by Taehyung’s beauty.

“What?” Tae’s lips curl slowly into a wider smile, amusement shining in his amber eyes. “What’s that look for?”

Unable to adequately articulate the sentiment through words, Jungkook pushes himself up on one arm to kiss the vampire by way of an answer, fingers curling in the front of Taehyung’s shirt as his bondmate’s hand settles on the side of his jaw. The kiss deepens after a moment, Tae leaning further over him so that Jungkook ends up sinking back down against the soft, sweet-smelling grass.

Aigoo, who knew kissing could feel so heavenly?

There’s a heated sort of energy building beneath the surface of his skin, and Jungkook knows it isn’t just his own increasing desires that he’s feeling welling up inside; with Taehyung pressed so close to him, the vampire’s emotions are interweaving with his own, adding fuel to the fire in his veins. He wants to lose himself in Taehyung’s touch, in the press of his lips and the sweetness of his scent. It feels like he could drown (and probably die happy) in the overwhelming surge of need that’s bubbling rapidly to the surface.

Suddenly Taehyung pulls back, slightly breathless, eyes notably more crimson than amber. The vampire shakes his head a little as though to clear it.

“We should stop,” Tae tells him, with obvious reluctance. “I promised Jin-hyung I wouldn’t…it’s not fair to overwhelm you on your first visit, I don’t want you to do anything you might regret later on.”

Jungkook’s ninety-nine percent sure he’ll have absolutely no regrets if they were to continue their previous intimacies, but he doesn’t want to push his luck. Doesn’t mean he has to be happy about it though.

“I’m serious,” Taehyung insists, although he’s smiling again now as he regards Jungkook fondly. “Yah, stop pouting like that, you’re killin’ me here.”

He hadn’t even realised his bottom lip had begun jutting out like that, but since it had elicited a sympathetic response from Taehyung, Jungkook puts a little more effort into it this time, really pouting the way Binnie always does when Jungkook won’t let him go for a run in the pouring rain.

Taehyung makes a strangled noise. “Dude, that’s not fair. Aish, c’mere.”

Giggling in victory, Jungkook lets Taehyung tug him into a cuddle and gladly accepts the softer, sweeter kiss that his bondmate presses to his lips. He eventually ends up settled on his side, one arm thrown over Taehyung’s waist, the vampire’s arms wrapped around him in turn and his head resting comfortably on Tae’s shoulder as they enjoy the peaceful serenity of Namjoon’s garden. Other than the soft chirping of crickets, the whispering of the willow trees leaves as they brush against each other (Jungkook swears the drape-like branches are moving of their own accord, because there isn’t any wind in here), the trickling sound of water running into the giant koi pond and Taehyung’s slow but rhythmic heartbeat, it’s wonderfully silent. Jungkook’s grown accustomed to hearing background traffic at all hours of the day and night (even his expanding-foam earplugs can’t block it out entirely) but it isn’t until its absence that he realises how loud it can be sometimes.

“You do like it here, right?” Taehyung asks him quietly, fingers combing through Jungkook’s hair. “The nest, I mean.”

Jungkook hums, smiling contently. “I love it.”

His bondmate hugs him tighter, and Jungkook feels a pulse of satisfaction in his chest that he knows belongs to Taehyung.

“I know you said you can’t stay the night,” the vampire murmurs. “But since you’ve quit your Thursday shift at Euphoria, maybe you could drop by after school tomorrow? There’s so much more I wanna show you.”

He finds himself nodding without hesitation. “I’d like that. I can catch the bus from SNU, I’m sure there’s an outer-zone route that’ll drop me off near the forest.”

“You don’t have to get the bus,” Taehyung insists. “Jiminie’s picking up his baby from the workshop tomorrow, I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to give you a ride. You like motorbikes, right?”

Jungkook’s brain comes to a screeching halt, images of Jimin in dark, skin-tight leathers sitting astride a Harley Davidson bursting to the forefront of his mind, cheeks warming.

Oh, hell yes.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Namjoon's greenhouse is heavily inspired by this beautiful garden (also THIS) from Astro's "All Night" MV, which you can watch here ...for research purposes, of course. :P

 

💜 💜 💜 BONUS CUTE MOONBIN/SANHA PIC! 💜 💜 💜

Chapter Text

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Jungkook checks his reflection in the camera app on his phone, tilting his head this way and that.

“Are you sure about the eyeliner?”

“Yes,” Yugyeom and Moonbin answer as one, the latter reaching down to fix the collar of Jungkook’s shirt just-so, probably showing off more collarbone than is strictly necessary.

“It suits you, Kook,” Eunwoo reassures, gently pinching his chin to tilt Jungkook’s head back towards him. “I won’t make it too heavy, just enough to draw attention to your eyes. Another minute and I’ll be done, okay?”

With an internal sigh of resignation, Jungkook fidgets in his seat on the wooden bench of the sheltered picnic table, allowing his friends to continue their primping. He’s secretly really fucking grateful for all their help – he’s hardly an expert when it comes to fashion, and aside from a general preference for soft sweaters, comfy jeans and Timberland footwear, for the past few years he hasn’t given a lot of thought to his image beyond looking clean and presentable. In his defence, it’s not as though he’d been able to afford a stylish wardrobe up until very recently – fashion comes at a price, and he’s spent most of the past year needing to choose between buying chocolate milk for Binnie and replacing his threadbare socks with new ones from the 100-yen store. Indulging in a little retail therapy had never been on the cards until now.

His visit to the nest yesterday afternoon had been entirely unplanned, so he’d ended up going dressed in casual school clothes (and sporting a mayo stain from lunch on the lapel of his shirt that he hadn’t even noticed until Moonbin had pointed it out to him that evening as they were getting ready for bed), so…yeah. Not exactly his best look. Today, however, he has the chance to actually prepare an outfit, and the second Moonbin had heard the word ‘motorbike’, he’d called in the cavalry to help touch up Jungkook’s image.

When it comes to makeup, Jungkook has absolutely no idea what he’s doing; his bunny hybrid genes have afforded him a generally blemish-free complexion (seriously, not having to contend with acne more than makes up for his lifelong inability to digest yukhoe and rare meats), so beyond soap and water and the occasional application of cheap moisturiser during the winter months, he’s never bothered to put anything on his face before. His best friends are just as clueless as he is, which is probably why Binnie had decided to seek professional advice.

Or rather, send out an SOS to his boyfriend.

 

Cha Eunwoo is fast becoming one of the Korea’s top models, continuing to gain fame for his Instagram selfies and YouTube skincare tutorials in addition to the various brand promotion deals he’s bagged since the start of the year. If there’s any one person that Jungkook would trust to do his makeup without making him look like a clown, it’s Eunwoo.

“There,” the model says confidently, stepping back beside Moonbin to admire his handiwork. “That looks pretty natural, right?”

The werecat gives his boyfriend two thumbs-up, smiling at him adoringly, and Jungkook suppresses an amused eye-roll. Eunwoo could’ve drawn on a fake moustache and a mono-brow, and Moonbin would still react with positive enthusiasm – the cat’s so fucking besotted, it’s adorable. Jungkook would normally trust Binnie’s judgement above all others (even Yugyeom’s, because the wolf’s always been a bit of a prankster at heart), but whenever Eunwoo’s involved in the equation, it’s best to get a second opinion.

And Eunwoo clearly thinks so too; although he returns Moonbin’s smile and reaches out to squeeze his hand, his gaze still flickers towards Yugyeom, brow arched in a silent query. The werewolf obligingly comes around the side of the picnic bench to pass verdict, whistling appreciatively as his eyes widen a little.

“Okay, wow, you’re hot,” Yugyeom reacts, leaning into Jungkook’s field of vision before squatting down a bit to assess him from a different angle. “Why have you never worn eyeliner before? You’re gonna knock ‘em dead, boo.”

“It isn’t too much?” Jungkook’s gaze darts to the item of clothing draped over the werewolf’s arm. “Maybe I should ditch the jacket…”

Yugyeom shakes his head immediately.

“Dude no, that’d be like kimchi without rice,” his friend protests. “Right now you’re a tasty snack, but with the jacket you’re a whole meal. Besides, you’re gonna be riding a motorbike – leather’s totally appropriate. And it’ll protect your arms in case you accidentally fall off or something.”

“Safety first,” Eunwoo agrees cheerfully, leaning back into Moonbin’s embrace as the werecat glomps him from behind like the needy cuddle-bug he always is at this time of the month.

Yugyeom tugs on Jungkook’s wrist to haul him up from the bench and help him into the jacket, pulling Kookie’s arms through the sleeves like he’s a sleepy five-year-old who doesn’t know how to dress himself yet. Jungkook breathes a quiet sigh at the coddling but allows it all the same. His friend can’t help it; it’ll be a full moon tonight, so the werewolf’s attentiveness is just an offset of his heightened instincts – Moonbin has likewise been clingier and fussier than usual today. Thankfully Eunwoo had decided to take the afternoon off from his usual busy schedule to keep the werecat company in Jungkook’s absence, and Binnie hasn’t allowed the vampire to stray more than three feet away from him since he arrived on campus half an hour ago.

“Thanks for your help, guys,” Jungkook murmurs, casting his gaze about to include all three of them. “And I’m sorry for ditching the Campus Run last-minute like this. I’ll be there next month, I promise.”

Moonbin waves away the apology, reaching around Eunwoo to lightly thump his roommate in the shoulder. “You’re allowed to have other plans, you know. Especially if those plans involve you getting wooed by multiple sugar-daddies.”

Jungkook send the werecat a disparaging look, but it’s entirely ineffective, because even Eunwoo’s nodding in agreement.

“I still can’t believe you’re being courted by the Kims,” the vampire says, a handsome grin curling at his rosebud lips.  “Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier for you, and you genuinely won’t find a better Primus, but…wow, Kookie.”

Eunwoo had been in the apartment with Moonbin when Jungkook had arrived home from the nest last night, the two lovebirds sharing spicy ramen and chocolate milk as they cuddled up on the couch. As he bent down to remove his shoes, the pendant around his neck had slipped free of his shirt, and Eunwoo had almost choked on his mouthful of noodles. After some prying, Jungkook had eventually ‘fessed up about the nature of his newfound bond with Taehyung and his developing closeness with the fledgling’s nestmates.

As it turned out, Eunwoo wasn’t casually acquainted with Jimin and Taehyung in the way that all Seoul-based vampires seemed to know each other, but in fact was close with the Kim coven as a whole.

“Even if Jin-hyung wasn’t acting as my temporary Primus, I’d still know about his nest,” Eunwoo had insisted, reaching out without looking to save Moonbin’s cartoon of chocolate milk from toppling onto the floor. “All vampires do, he’s Kim Seokjin.”

Yes. Because apparently, unbeknownst to Jungkook (and he was noticing a commend trend here), Kim Seokjin is someone that every vampire in Korea apparently just knew about.

“As a hybrid, you probably would’ve heard about him already if you were born here in Seoul,” Eunwoo had continued. “Seokjin-hyung gifted the land back to the elder clans a long time ago, decades before the city was even built. Most supernatural communities still honour him as a benefactor – they respect his privacy enough not to bother him, but I imagine every clan-leader still knows his name. And it’s kind of an unspoken rule in Seoul to ask for his blessing before establishing a pack here. I’ve heard he still visits the larger families and mediates territorial discussions between Fae-clans. Technically he still has jurisdiction over the forest folk, but I think he leaves them be for the most part.”

“How did you first meet him?” Jungkook had asked, once he’d remembered how to talk, eyes still blown wide as he absorbed all this new information. “You’re from Busan, right?”

With a nod and a soft smile, Eunwoo had elaborated, “By my coven’s reckoning, I was still very young when I first left for Seoul; fresh out of high school and barely considered fully-grown. My parents didn’t want me to leave so soon, but I knew modelling and acting was something I wanted to pursue, and moving to Seoul was my best chance of getting a good contract. So my Primus contacted Seokjin-hyung to ask if he and Namjoon-hyung would watch over me until I found my feet. Jiminie-hyung isn’t that much older than me, and Tae was barely a fledgling himself when I moved here, so the three of us used to hang out sometimes. Taehyungie was actually the one who introduced me to JinJin-hyung – they took the same photography course at SNU for a little while before Tae had to drop out, but he knew about hyung’s studio and hooked me up for a photoshoot. That’s how I got my first brand deal with Shara.”

During their date the other night, Taehyung had briefly mentioned his passion for modelling and photography, but Jungkook hadn’t realised he’d studied the subject at university level. It’s definitely something he’ll be asking Tae about at a later point.

And regarding Seokin…well, clearly Jungkook’s previous estimation of him being a ‘vampire wizard’ still falls short of the truth – even though Eunwoo had given him a fairly blasé account of the situation, Jungkook had been able to surmise as much from what he wasn’t saying. Like, he’s struggling to digest the fact that the land and the forests that make up Seoul had once belonged to Jin. How powerful did someone have to be to own that much land? Aigoo, he can barely comprehend it.

All he really knows now is that Jin is both a helluva lot older and infinitely more powerful than Jungkook had initially surmised.

“Hyung,” Moonbin murmurs suddenly, drawing Jungkook out of his thoughts. The werecat’s eyes are fixed in the middle-distance beyond the shade of the sun-shelter, head tilted a little to one side as he listens carefully. “I think I just heard a motorbike pull into the drop-off zone.”

Jungkook’s heart picks up speed, nervous excitement fluttering in his stomach as he checks his reflection in his phone quickly. The eyeliner really does make his eyes pop, but he really hopes it’s not too noticeable. He’d wanted to make an effort to look good, but he also doesn’t want his efforts to be obvious.

“Well, we’ve done all we can.” Yugyeom claps him on the shoulder and makes a grandiose gesture towards the nearby footpath. “Go forth and woo, my son. Remember the lessons I’ve taught you.”

Jungkook pulls a face at him as he shoulders his new backpack. “Says the wolf who bagged himself an Alpha by running headfirst into a tree.”

Yugyeom flips him off with an unapologetic grin.

“You’ll do fine, Kookie,” Eunwoo reassures, ever the supportive hyung in any given situation. “Just be yourself, I’m sure they already love you.”

Fuck, he hopes so. He really, really hopes so.

“Good luck!” Moonbin crows, and detaches himself from Eunwoo long enough to lift Jungkook almost off his feet in a tight hug, nuzzling into his neck for a long moment and planting the briefest of kitten-licks there before putting him down again.

Jungkook has lived with the werecat long enough to recognise the semi-possessive scenting behaviour. Although Binnie is enthusiastically supportive of his rommate’s new romantic attachments, he’s also adorably protective by nature, and Jungkook’s been away from home long enough now that his birth family’s scent has long since faded; Moonbin is leaving a signature of his own, so to speak. He’s not staking a claim or anything old-fashioned like that, he’s simply reminding Kookie’s new bondmates that he has a family and a pack who loves him and who will protect him accordingly. It’s actually kinda sweet, especially since Moonbin’s probably doing it completely instinctively.

He’s surprised Yugyeom hasn’t tried to leave a scentmark of his own, but then again, the leather jacket he’s wearing smells wonderfully like the Im-pack.

“Does JB-hyung know you lent me this?” Jungkook checks, finally realising why the design looks so familiar.

“Duh,” Yugyeom scoffs and nudges him towards the path. “The jacket was his idea.”

Of course it was. Full moon, protective Alpha-wolf…how else would Jaebum adequately convey to the Kim coven that Jungkook is still his cub? Nothing screams “break his heart and I’ll break your face” like an Alpha-scented leather jacket.

Jungkook resists the urge to facepalm.

“You’re gonna miss your man if you don’t skedaddle,” Yugyeom urges, grunting as Moonbin pulls him into a three-way hug with Eunwoo. He makes a shooing motion with his free hand. “And if you don’t take an awesome selfie with his motorbike, I’m disowning you, dumb-bun.”

“He means we love you!” Moonbin translates, waving at Jungkook from where he’s squished comfortably between his favourite vampire and werewolf. “But also yes please to selfies!”

And all Jungkook can do is laugh and wave back at the three of them, finally stepping out from under the sun-shelter and setting off down the footpath as instructed, butterflies still fluttering away in his stomach as he walks. He doesn’t know why he’s so much more nervous today than he had been last time – it’s probably because Namjoon’s invitation yesterday afternoon had been so unexpected that he hadn’t really been able to think about it beforehand, but Tae had invited him back again almost eighteen hours ago, so the anticipation is really getting to him now. And he’s not nervous-nervous, more like…excited-nervous. Yesterday’s visit had been so indescribably wonderful, he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the nest all day.

Jungkook pauses as he reaches the crest of the gentle slope that leads down to the drop-off zone, his gaze immediately zoning in on the sleek motorbike parked against the curb there, its red and silver panelling glinting in the afternoon sun. Almost immediately, it’s the coolest bike that Jungkook has ever seen in his life (he’s probably biased because it’s Jimin’s, but who cares), and his footsteps quicken as he heads down the path towards it, already glancing around for its absent rider. Maybe Jimin had taken the side-path back up towards campus in search of him?

Shrugging off his backpack, Jungkook fishes out his phone, cursing under his breath at the missed notifications – in his eagerness to get ready for his afternoon at the nest, apparently he’d completely forgotten to turn his phone off silent. But his panic is short-lived, and Jungkook breathes a sigh of relief when he realises that the messages had only been sent a few minutes ago.

Chim: Hey honey, that’s me at the drop-off point.

Chim: You’re done with class for today, right? Tae told me you had an early finish this afternoon. Do you want me to meet you outside the business and economics building? I think I still remember which one that is.

Jungkook’s thumbs move across the screen quickly as he types a hurried reply.

BunBun: Hyung! Sorry, my phone was still on silent. I just made it to the drop-off zone, and OMG YOU BIKE IS BEAUTIFUL.

There’s a pause of perhaps eight seconds before a heart and a laughing emoji pop up on his screen, followed quickly by another message.

Chim: Thanks cutie! I’ll be there in 2 mins, don’t go away.

 

Smiling down at the screen, Jungkook automatically replies with several smiley-heart-eyes emojis, as he would were he texting Binnie or Yugyeom. Then the butterflies in his stomach explode into a nervous swarm, because oh, maybe that was a bit too obvious. Yes, he’s helplessly in love with all of Taehyung’s nestmates, but does he want Jimin to know that so soon? No.

Fuck. He’s supposed to be keeping his infatuation to himself for the time being, at least until he can be certain it won’t make the rest of the hyungs uncomfortable.

“Jungkook-ssi? Is that you?”

Turning quickly, startled by the address, Jungkook takes in the newcomer at a glance – tall, handsome, human, and familiar somehow – dipping his head in a polite bow of acknowledgment.

“Yes? Can I help you?”

The taller man smiles and holds out his hand. “Min Junho,” he clasps Jungkook’s hand with a sure, firm grip, dipping his own head in a bow. “We were in an accountancy seminar together last month, but I never got a chance to properly introduce myself. You’re looking well.”

“Thank you,” Jungkook returns politely, if somewhat awkwardly as the handshake lingers on a little longer than required. “Uh, so do you.”

Smooth

Jungkook only vaguely recognises the man’s face, but his name is more familiar. After all, the business and economic studies cohort isn’t all that big, so if someone is worth knowing that means everyone hears about them on the grapevine at some point. Junho is from the academic year above Jungkook’s, but still attends the occasional non-compulsory seminar with the second and third-year students despite the fact that he definitely doesn’t need to fluff up his professional portfolio the way the rest of them do. As the son of a very prominent (and successful) retail CEO, Junho’s future on the board of directors is pretty much set in stone already and his degree in business studies is probably just for show. Some people in Jungkook’s class have speculated that he uses the monthly seminars as a way to scope out the younger students, and if the rumour-mill is to be trusted, Junho’s already left a trail of broken hearts in his wake during the three and half years he’s been at SNU.

 “Are you waiting on a taxi?” Junho asks, glancing around the otherwise deserted area. “I’d be happy to give you a ride home, my driver’s almost here.”

“I’ve actually arranged to meet someone this afternoon,” Jungkook dips his head in another polite bow. “But thank you.”

Junho’s smile doesn’t waver, his shrug casual and easy. “Another time, then? How about I give you my number, that way you can call me if you ever need a ride-”

“Kookie! There you are,” Jimin suddenly interrupts, smoothly inserting himself between the two of them and winding a casual arm around Jungkook’s waist, brushing a kiss against his cheek. “Hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long?”

Jungkook shakes his head, a little lost for words.

Jimin looks…wow. He’s wearing dark jeans that are cinched securely at his waist by a thick suede belt, and beneath his fashionable leather jacket he’s wearing a form-fitting black undershirt that gives Jungkook a very helpful insight into the vampire’s impressive muscle definition.

Jimin smiles and squeezes him closer in a sideways hug, before his gaze flickers over to Junho almost as an afterthought, although Jungkook can tell his dismissiveness is at least partially deliberate.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” The vampire-shifter’s smile is innocent and charming all at once. “Is this a friend of yours, sweetheart?” He extends his hand. “Kim Jimin, delighted to meet you.”

It surprises Jungkook to hear the vampire introduce himself using his coven’s name rather than his family title. It’s not uncommon for vampires to take the surname of their Primus, especially in bonded nests, but Jungkook could’ve sworn his social media still says Park Jimin.

Junho accepts the handshake, his smile now visibly forced. “Min Junho, and likewise. It was nice seeing you again, Jungkook-ssi, but I should really get going. Have a good afternoon.”

Despite having told Jungkook that his driver was due to arrive shortly, the man turns on his heel and quickly heads back up the path towards the university. The polite thing for Jungkook to do would be to return the sentiment and say goodbye, but honestly, he’s too busy biting his lip and trying not to laugh.

Jimin is looking distinctly pleased with himself.

“I think you scared him off, hyung,” he comments wryly.

“Did I?” The vampire flashes him an innocent look. “I was only saying hello.”

Jungkook laughs, and Jimin’s façade cracks, a grin curling handsomely at the corner of his mouth.

“So,” the vampire steps back towards his motorbike, tugging Jungkook along by the hand. “What do you think of my baby?”

“It’s awesome, hyung,” he enthuses. “What kind of bike is it?”

Jimin runs his fingers lovingly over the seat. “She’s a Honda NC750X.”

“Ooh,” Jungkook reacts with what he hopes is a suitably impressed tone (fuck, he just realised he knows absolutely nothing about motorbikes).

Jimin laughs, squeezing his hand. “It’s okay, hon. None of the others know what that means either. Tae tries to pay attention because he’s an angel who likes to please everyone, but he still doesn’t know the difference between a TX-27 and a Suzuki.”

The vampire reaches for one of the two helmets perched on the tail of the bike, carefully helping Jungkook put it on and grinning as he flicks up the visor to look into his eyes.

“There, now you really look the part. Nice jacket, by the way.”

Jungkook flushes hot beneath the helmet. “Bin and Gyeomie made me wear it. And I had to promise them a motorbike selfie or risk disownment, I hope that’s okay?”

Jimin’s smile widens, challenge clearly accepted. “Oh, we can definitely do selfies. Here, hotshot, pass me your phone...”

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Here's a link to Jimin's motorbike

Also JIMIN IN LEATHER looking particularly edible, Lord have mercy.  

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Jungkook’s cheeks are aching from smiling so much by the time they reach the border of the old forest.

He’s never been on a motorbike before, and man has he been missing out. Even though Jimin hadn’t done any of the cool (albeit potentially illegal) manoeuvring that Jungkook’s seen other bikers do before – like weaving in and out of traffic at breakneck speeds – the whole experience had still been such a thrill. Having a valid excuse to backhug Jimin for a solid twenty minutes had been pretty great too.

Jimin slows the motorbike to a halt, dropping his gloved hand from the throttle to squeeze one of Jungkook’s arms where it’s wrapped snugly around the dancer’s waist.

“How’s it going back there, bun?”

“Awesome,” Jungkook enthuses, unable to contain his enthusiasm. “So, so awesome, oh my god. You’re the coolest, hyung.”

Jimin laughs, the sound muffled a little behind his tinted visor.

“I’m glad you approve,” the vampire returns, his smile audible. “Although I have a feeling that title belongs to Jin-hyung – I ride motorbikes, he rides griffins.”

Jungkook flails internally, because hold the phone. “He does what?”

“I mean, we all do sometimes,” Jimin muses casually, as if they’re merely talking about taking the bus. “But griffins are like cats in more than just appearance, so they have to be in the mood – nine times out of ten they’ll just dump you on your ass. On a good day Odengie lets me ride him through the forest, though. They all love Namjoon-hyung, but apparently he had a few too many riding accidents so they won’t carry him around anymore. Still, Jin-hyung’s their favourite, for sure – he’s the only one who gets to fly with them. I guess the griffins are probably just worried about the rest of us dying if we fall off mid-flight.”

Jungkook has so many questions.

Griffins are considered to be practically extinct due to how rarely they’ve been sighted in recent decades, although it’s been speculated that the creatures have simply found a way to hide their existence from mankind by retreating deep into the mountains and ancient druid forests where their species had first originated. But the Kim nest is only on the outskirts of the city; the forest is easily within visual range of the suburban population, so how come nobody’s ever seen a bunch of griffins flying around above the treetops? He knows they’re probably good at hiding themselves if they don’t want to be seen, but he’s never heard of a griffin who could actually turn invisible.

Jungkook’s guessing some sort of magic is at work here, maybe something similar to the wards that Jin has in place along the borders of his nest; a spell that can cloak the griffins and protect them from being seen by anyone outside of the coven. That certainly seems like something Jin would be capable of doing; the vampire continues to go above and beyond all of Jungkook’s preconceived expectations, and by this point he’s almost given up trying to set the bar any higher. Seokjin is just a walking impossibility.

Case in point, why wouldn’t the griffins be worried about Jin dying if he fell out of the sky? Sure, vampires are physically more resilient than most species, quick to heal and basically immune to the vast majority of commonplace ailments, but they aren’t indestructible. A fall from such a height would definitely be fatal…

Unless, of course, defying gravity is just another ‘one of those things’ that Kim Seokjin seems to be able to do. Magic in the modern world tends to manifest itself as elemental powers, like Namjoon’s ability to manipulate living matter (humanoids and plants alike) to heal and nurture, or Yoongi’s gift of foresight, or Hoseok’s empathic abilities – but Jin’s powers are so much more than that. His is the kind of magic that you only really encounter in movies and storybooks. A few centuries ago, people probably would’ve called him a warlock. Hell, maybe they did – Jungkook still has no idea how old the vampire really is.

“So, the gate’s gonna feel a little different this time,” Jimin warns him, drawing Jungkook out of his thoughts again. “Now that you’re carrying hyung’s seal, the wards shouldn’t affect your thoughts the way they did yesterday, but without the car shielding us our bodies are gonna pass directly through the barrier. It’ll be pretty weird for a moment, but it’s perfectly safe, trust me. Just hold on tight, okay? I won’t let anything bad happen to you, I promise.”

Smiling, warmth blooming in his chest, Jungkook nods and presses even closer to Jimin’s back, tightening his hold around the dancer’s slender waist.

 “I know,” he murmurs. “I trust you.”

Jimin squeezes his forearm one last time, then returns his hand to the throttle and revs the motorbike back into gear, heading up the road and smoothly rounding the corner into the short lane that leads directly up to the forest’s edge.

Even through the tinted visor of his helmet, Jungkook can already tell that something is different today. The treeline at the end of the road appears semi-translucent, like a fading watercolour painting, and almost seems to ripple in anticipation as they approach. The giant oak tree in the centre is transparent enough that Jungkook is able to faintly make out the hidden path that lies beyond the illusion. As the motorbike draws nearer, the tree’s outline suddenly splinters into a thousand colourful fractals, the warded gate revealing its true form at the very last second. Jungkook only has a moment to stare in slack-jawed wonder at the shimmering veil that hangs suspended mid-air across opening between the treeline before they’re passing straight through it, goosebumps breaking out all over is body as the breath is knocked from his lungs.

Fuck, that’s cold.

As promised, the immediate compulsion to turn around and leave never comes, and although the physical repercussions are momentarily unsettling (like tiny ants crawling all over his skin), the sensation fades within a matter of seconds and he’s able to breathe easy again, sagging against Jimin as his tensed muscles begin to relax.

And then he feels it – a thrumming warmth spreading out from the centre of his chest, right where the pendant rests against his skin beneath the fabric of his shirt. It hums through him pleasantly, fanning out all the way to his fingers and toes, and a surprised smile curls at his lips.

“Hyung,” he breathes, unable to hide the wonder in his voice. “I…I feel…”

“Good, right?” Jimin laughs softly, slowing their speed now that they’ve passed through the gate. “It’s because you’re home, bun.”

Home. The warm-happy bubble in Jungkook’s chest swells bigger and brighter at the word, and his smile curls wider, helmeted head resting between Jimin’s shoulders as he closes his eyes for a moment to savour that growing feeling of contentedness.

“I know it’s a lot,” Jimin acknowledges gently. “Especially with your bond being so new. You’re always gonna feel something when you come home to the nest, but it’ll get less intense after a while.”

Oh, that’s a shame. Jungkook honestly wouldn’t mind feeling this way forever.

The road beneath them suddenly seems to dip, and Jungkook’s arms tighten around Jimin’s waist again as he’s tilted forward a bit, eyes snapping open to peer at his surroundings. He’s surprised to see them heading down an asphalt ramp into a subterranean tunnel, the forest floor rising up on either side of them as they descend.

Jungkook’s mouth falls open again in awe as the short tunnel opens up into a huge underground garage. 

“Yoongi-hyung told me it would start raining by four,” Jimin explains, “so I wanna get her parked someplace dry.”

He pulls into a wide space between two vehicles that Jungkook quickly recognises as Yoongi’s modest Corsa and Seokjin’s magical-mystery-car-of-unknown-origin (Binnie came up with the nickname, but Jungkook’s found himself mentally referring to it as that because it really fits), and there are at least another half-dozen flashy cars parked elsewhere in the garage that Jungkook’s never even seen before.

Oh. He somehow keeps forgetting that the Kim coven are basically billionaires.

And now he’s a part of the nest. Holy fuck, his life is unreal.

The motorbike’s rumbling purr cuts off as Jimin kills the engine, his foot braced against the ground as he holds the weight of the bike on a tilt with apparently minimal effort.

“You alright to hop down, bun?”

Flushing beneath his helmet at his new nickname (well, new for Jimin, that is – the Im-pack call him ‘bun’ all the time, but coming from the vampire it feels totally different), Jungkook tries to get down from the bike as gracefully as he possibly can, finding his legs frustratingly uncooperative as he attempts to walk away in a straight line.

Jimin laughs softly at his undignified waddling, knocking out the kickstand with his heel to keep the bike propped up as he pulls off his helmet and swings his leg smoothly over the chassis in a fluid dismount

“Easy there, jelly-legs,” the dancer teases fondly, jogging over to wrap a supportive arm around Jungkook’s waist, using his index finger to flip up the youth’s visor. “First time on a bike, huh?”

Jungkook smiles wincingly. “Is it that obvious?”

The vampire’s answering grin is fond and full of warmth. “Nah, you did great. Tae screamed for a solid ten minutes the first time I took him for a ride, he even gave himself a nosebleed. Although I guess that last part wasn’t entirely his fault.” Jimin helps Kookie out of the helmet, gloved fingers smoothing down his rumpled hair. “But do me a favour and don’t tell him I said anything, ‘kay?”

Returning the elder’s grin, Jungkook obligingly mimes sealing his lips shut.

“Awesome.” Jimin moves away to hook the spare helmet off bike’s handlebar, tugging off his gloves and tucking them inside, before beckoning the younger man towards him. “C’mon, I’ll show you a shortcut back up to the house.”

“Shortcut?” Jungkook echoes curiously, his eyes on Jimin as he steps around the bike. But with his attention focused elsewhere, he completely misjudges the position of the bike’s kickstand, his foot catching on the metal bar and sending him stumbling forwards.

He is, alas, no stranger to falling flat on his face – in the split second he feels himself beginning to overbalance, his mind has already come to the conclusion that he’ll be hitting the floor imminently, a part of him almost resigned to the fact, even as his reflexes belatedly kick in to bring his hands up in an attempt to cushion his landing.

But just as he starts his downwards descent, a pair of arms catch him mid-fall.

“Aigoo, be careful,” Jimin cautions, holding him steady as Jungkook regains his footing. “It’s dark down here, bun, you gotta watch your step.”

They’re pressed close together, and Jungkook’s gaze automatically goes to Jimin’s lips as they form the words, before flickering up to meet his gaze instead, cheeks burning in embarrassment. But Jimin doesn’t seem to notice his momentary distraction, regarding him with fond amusement and gentle concern, the vampire lifting a hand to carefully brush Jungkook’s fringe back from his forehead.

“Did you hurt yourself at all?”

Jungkook shakes his head wordlessly, heart still beating a little too fast beneath his breastbone, blood pulsing in his ears. A vampire’s hearing isn’t as enhanced as a hybrid’s, but a vampire-shifter like Jimin can probably hear every irregular flutter of Jungkook’s traitorous organ, and fuck, it’s embarrassing. He’s genuinely trying his best not to be completely obvious about the giant, pathetic crush he has on all of Tae’s nestmates, but Jimin with all his casual charm is making it really fucking difficult, damn him.

The vampire watches Jungkook a moment longer, his expression softening as his concern fades, before he carefully slips his hand into Kookie’s and gives it a tender squeeze.

“Come on,” Jimin murmurs, gently tugging Jungkook towards a door at the rear of the garage. “We’ll take the tunnels back up to the house. Jin-hyung won’t be happy if we get caught out in the rain.”

Jungkook almost trips over his feet again.

Tunnels?

 

 

 

 

...

 

 

 

 

 

“Jin-hyung built them for me when I first joined the nest,” Tae explains, leaning out alarmingly far over the koi pond to poke at the water with the reed he’s holding, smiling when it attracts the attention of several large fish. “I’d only been a vampire for a few days, so I was super light-sensitive, and since I still had a lot of follow-up appointments to go to, hyung wanted to create a safe way for me to get to the garage without stepping outside. But now he makes Jiminie and the hyungs use it too, even though their light tolerance is pretty good. And the tunnels do come in handy when the weather’s bad.”

“Jin-hyung used to fuss whenever one of us got caught out in the rain,” Jimin adds, curling an arm loosely around Taehyung’s waist as he perches on the embankment of the pond, likely in an attempt to keep the younger vampire from falling in. “Namjoonie-hyung’s told him a thousand times that getting wet and cold won’t actually make us sick, but I don’t think he’s convinced. TaeTae becoming a fledgling just gave him a more valid excuse to build an underground link between the house and the garage so that none of us could get wet anymore.”

Taehyung glances across the pond towards Jungkook with a wry grin, allowing Jimin to ease him back from the edge of the water.

“Remember how he fussed over you back when we first met, because you hadn’t changed out of your damp clothes? That was Jin-hyung on a mild day.”

Jimin nods sagely. “You’re our maknae now, bun – it’s only gonna get worse.”

Honestly? That doesn’t sound like too much of a hardship. Jungkook kinda likes being fussed over. He hates stressing people out, and if that means letting the Im-pack and Tae’s nestmates coddle him a bit, he’s happy with that compromise. Besides, Seokjin’s presence is always so calming, even when he’s fussing over Jungkook’s wellbeing; he doubts it’ll ever truly bother him.

A tickling sensation on his neck has Jungkook turning, glancing up to see that the low-hanging branches of the nearby weeping willow have shifted to drape themselves along his back and over his shoulder like a leafy blanket.

“Oh,” he reacts, blinking in surprise. “Hello.”

On the other side of the pond, Tae and Jimin laugh softly, the latter rolling smoothly to his feet and coming around to drop into a crouch beside Jungkook, casually brushing the unusually friendly leaves away.

“It can sense that you’re a part of the nest,” Jimin explains, letting his own arm settled around the youth’s shoulders instead. “The garden likes to take care of us. Namjoon-hyung’s poured a lot of love and energy into this place, and he’s been nurturing the plants for years, so everything’s a little more…alive than your average house-plant.”

Jungkook glances around at the vast greenhouse with a new kind of appreciation. He already feels like he’s entered Narnia with how vibrant the place is, the colours brighter and more brilliant than anything he’s ever seen before. It makes him want to pull out the sketchbook from his backpack and draw everything. And to know that the plant life is also semi-sentient…aigoo, that’s so cool.

And then there’s the mystery of the glass panels that make up the walls and ceiling of the giant greenhouse – the moment they’d stepped through the greenhouse doors, a portion of glass roof high above them had immediately tinted to block out the sun. Seemingly it can sense their every movement, because the auto-tint had followed them as they made their way through the greenhouse, shielding Jimin and Taehyung from the sun every step of the way. The rest of the garden is still bathed in golden sunlight, but the glass panels directly above the koi pond and the grassy embankment beside it remain fully-tinted. Jungkook almost wants to sprint through the greenhouse as quickly as he can just to see if the panelling can keep up. Whatever it is – either another product of Seokjin’s seemingly limitless magic, or perhaps some sort of highly advanced sensor technology – Jungkook finds it fascinating.

“Hey, are you hungry?” Jimin asks him, fingers stroking idly at the fine hairs on the back of Jungkook’s neck. “The apples in here are always ripe. You want one?”

Jungkook nods keenly, his hunger pangs suddenly making themselves known.

Honestly, with his enhanced bunny-hybrid metabolism, he’s rarely not hungry. That had been one of the main bonuses of working in Euphoria almost every day – open access to tasty snacks free of charge. The plate of ‘kitchen rejects’ in the staffroom is always kept regularly topped up by the duty manager, and on those financially-tight days towards the end of the month when Jungkook didn’t have the means to buy a proper dinner on the way home, those misshapen cookies and squished cupcakes were a godsend.

Jimin sniffs a grin at Jungkook’s audibly rumbling stomach, gently ruffling the youth’s hair as he rises from the grass.

“Can’t have you wasting away on my watch, Jin-hyung would kill me,” he teases, tapping Jungkook’s nose playfully before turning to head back towards the main path. “Tae, baby, you want one?”

“Nah, I’m good,” the younger calls back, brushing a few blades of grass from his jeans as he stands. “Maybe grab a few berries while you’re there? Kookie’s got a sweet tooth.”

Jimin replies with a casual thumbs-up as he heads across the grass, hopping over the low stone wall to reach the main path. Jungkook watches him go with a soft smile until the vampire rounds a corner and disappears from sight behind a row of flowering rosebushes.  

Taehyung suddenly plops himself down on the grass beside him, positively grinning from ear to ear.

“You like him, don’t you?”

Jungkook manages not to flail (externally), but there’s no stopping the traitorous heat that immediately floods his cheeks, and fuck, that’s as good a confession as any right there.

“Ha!” Taehyung laughs, throws his arms around Jungkook in a crushing hug and presses an exaggeratedly loud smooch to his cheek. “I knew it wouldn’t take long! Jiminie’s just the sweetest, right? And he already loves you so much, ohmygod, you’re gonna be so cute together.”

The vampire leans back to clutch both hands to his chest with a high noise of elation, and it’s fucking adorable, but Jungkook can’t fully appreciate the aegyo because his brain is a little bit stuck on a certain l-word.

“He…he really likes me? Like that?”  

Taehyung’s grin softens and turns fond at Jungkook’s dumbfounded expression, reaching out to gently frame the youth’s face between his hands as he leans in for a soft, chaste kiss.

“Of course, silly.” Tae rubs their noses together. “How could he not? You’re so sweet and kind and thoughtful and amazing…not to mention you look fucking edible in leather.” He nips playfully at Jungkook’s bottom lip just to make the younger man laugh, then slowly leans back again to regard him steadily, thumb stroking along Jungkook’s cheekbone. “He wanted to give you a little more time settle in without overwhelming you with his own advances, but it’s obvious he really cares about you, Kookie. And I’ve seen the way you look at him.”

Jungkook reaches up, fingers curling loosely around Tae’s wrist as he leans into the touch, an embarrassed smile tugs at his lips.

“I was trying not to make it obvious,” he sighs resignedly. “How long have you known?”

Taehyung gives a casual one-shouldered shrug. “Since the first time we came to see you at SNU; you blushed so cutely when he called you honey. Jimin noticed that too, by the way – he doesn’t really use petnames with anyone except me, but I think he knows how much you like them.”

Oh. So the ‘baby’ and ‘honey’ and ‘bun’ from the past few days had actually been for Jungkook’s benefit all along?

That’s…that’s really fucking sweet.

Grinning at Jungkook’s reddening cheeks, Taehyung leans in again to kiss him.

“Aigoo, you’re adorable,” Tae murmurs. Jungkook wrinkles his nose at him playfully, smiling all the while.

Another kiss, and then the vampire’s hands are sliding down to his shoulders, just resting there for a moment before gently pushing him to fall back against the soft grass. Jungkook’s expecting a repeat of yesterday evening – lingering touches and some quality smooching – so when Taehyung’s fingers suddenly tickle down his sides, it startles an undignified shriek out of him.

“Hyung!”

“Aw,” the vampire coos teasingly, fingers dancing across Jungkook’s stomach as the younger man squirms and laughs. “So cute. So small.”

After a few moments of listening to the youth’s wheezing pleas, Taehyung decides to have mercy on him (he’s way more lenient than Jackson or Youngjae, Kookie’s usual tickle-torturers), leaning back to grin down at Jungkook as he catches his breath.  

“Hey, no bullying the baby,” Jimin chides fondly, heading back across the grass towards them, dutifully shielded by the tinted glass roof. “Here, bun, I brought a few things for you to try.”

Jimin has several apples tucked into the crook of his arm, and a variety of smaller fruits are piled up high on a large palm-like leaf that he’s holding in both hands like a tray. Taehyung reaches up to take the apples from him so that they won’t fall as Jimin sinks down to sit beside them, balancing the leaf-tray on his thigh and selecting a particularly juicy-looking strawberry.

“You’re gonna love these,” he promises, offering it to Jungkook. “They’re my favourite. Joon-hyung had to cultivate another flowerbed just for berries because I ate so many, the original plants couldn’t keep up. Now there’s always fresh strawberries. And when I don’t eat them, Jin-hyung makes the best preserves. He does a strawberry cream tea set for Yoongi-hyung sometimes, it’s so good.”

Jungkook accepts the proffered fruit with a smile, heart fluttering nervously in his chest as he hesitates for a few seconds before leaning in to peck a soft, chaste kiss against Jimin’s cheek.

“Thank you,” he murmurs, and bites into the strawberry to hide his embarrassment, trying to ignore the way that Taehyung’s openly beaming at the two of them in unreserved delight.

Jimin blinks at him for a moment, clearly surprised, before a smile curls slowly at the corner of his mouth, a hand coming up to gently ruffle Jungkook’s hair.

“You’re welcome, baby. Is it good?”

Jungkook nods, finishing the berry in two bites. It’s sweet and juicy and delicious, and he can definitely see why they’re Jimin’s favourite.

The rest of the fruit is just as tasty, bright orange persimmons, sweet raspberries, plump purple plums, and wonderfully tart blackberries. These are the sort of fruits Jungkook rarely gets to eat (because quality fresh produce is expensive, and instant ramen fills you up a whole lot more than an overpriced fruit salad), so it’s already an indulgence, but the fact that they’re home-grown and perfectly ripe just adds to the experience.

Jimin takes one of the apples, neatly breaking it in two, casually offering one of the perfect halves to Jungkook as though he hasn’t just torn an apple right down the middle with his bare hands.

That shouldn’t be hot. It is.

“We should take some blackberries up to Yoongi-hyung,” Tae suggests cheerfully, leaning over to take a bite out of Jimin’s apple half.

Jimin tugs the fledgling closer, arm curling around Tae's waist as he passes him the rest of the apple. “I thought hyung was working today?”

“He’s perfecting a new herbal blend for the tea shop,” the younger vampire acknowledges around his mouthful. “But I’m sure he won’t mind the intrusion, especially if we come bearing gifts. And Kookie.”

“Point,” Jimin agrees, pressing a quick kiss to Tae’s cheek before leaning over to do the same to Jungkook. He sets down the leaf-tray of fruits before climbing to his feet. “I’ll go pick some more blackberries.”

Jungkook’s cheek tingles pleasantly, and this time he doesn’t even try to hide his pleased smile, even as he feels his face heat up again. As he watches Jimin saunter off towards the path, he shrugs out of his leather jacket, fanning himself with his hands and pointedly ignoring Taehyung’s knowing smirk.

“It’s just warm in here, that’s all,” he insists, and Tae snorts, scooting closer to feed him another berry.

“Sure, cutiepie. Whatever you say.” The vampire pulls a cell phone from the front pocket of his hoodie. “Hey, you wanna see Jiminie’s UBA graduation performance? He still had dark hair back then.”

Eagerly nodding (because he’s seen a bunch of Jimin’s hiphop choreography videos on YouTube, but ballet is a whole different world of awesome), Jungkook squishes himself as close to Taehyung as physically possible so that he can get a good look at the screen.

He isn’t sure how much time passes, but they’re on their third ballet performance before Jungkook hears the sound of footsteps rapidly approaching. Glancing up from the screen, he sees Jimin emerge from behind the rosebushes, jogging up the path towards them, cell phone pressed to his ear and no blackberries in sight.

“…bring the guys and meet you in the garage,” the vampire’s saying, his tone uncharacteristically serious. “Do we know what hospital they’re taking him to? Right. Okay, we’ll be with you in like two minutes.”

Beside him, Taehyung has shifted up onto his knees, brow creased in worry, clearly as alarmed as Jungkook by the snippet of the conversation they had just overheard.

Jimin closes the distance between them swiftly, slipping his phone back into his pocket and sinking to his knees in front of the pair of them, reaching for Jungkook’s leather jacket.

“We need to go, hon,” the elder murmurs, helping him into the garment, his level of composure now slightly unnerving. “Tae, baby, grab your shoes.”

The younger vampire obeys wordless, slipping his loafers back on, the crease in his brow only deepening. A cold sort of dread trickles down to pool in Jungkook’s stomach.

“Hyung?” he presses tentatively. “What is it? What’s happened?”

Jimin closes his eyes for a moment as though grounding himself, before opening them again to fix Jungkook with a calm but grave look. He reaches up to frame Jungkook’s face between his hands.

“Yoongi-hyung just called me,” he explains softly. “It’s about Eunwoo, sweetheart. He...there’s been an accident.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

.

 

Tucked snugly between Jimin and Taehyung in the backseat of Yoongi’s silver Corsa, Jungkook grips his phone tightly to keep his hands from trembling. There’s a tense sort of silence in the car, and it just makes the journey feel even longer, painfully so – if it weren’t for the drumming of the rain on the hood, and the rhythmic swish-swish of the windscreen wipers, Jungkook would be inclined to believe that time wasn’t passing at all.

He feels so fucking powerless, and he hates it.

“Hey,” Jimin murmurs, his arm tightening around the youth’s shoulders in a comforting sideways hug. “It’ll be okay, hon. You heard Yoongi-hyung, he doesn’t think Eunwoo’s badly hurt.”

Jungkook appreciates the dancer’s attempts to soothe him, but neither his words nor his touch really help to alleviate the cold dread curdling in his stomach. He trusts Yoongi’s foresight, truly he does, but he also knows the Seer’s future-vision is primarily focused on the coven, or people and events in his immediate vicinity whenever he leaves the nest. So yes, Yoongi’s gut feeling about Eunwoo being okay is probably true, but…what if other people had been involved in the accident too? People Yoongi hasn’t met in person yet, whose futures he simply can’t see?

Hitting speed-dial again, Jungkook lifts the phone to his ear, lips pressed into a thin line as he listens to it ringing. Pick up, pick up, pick up…

“Hi, this is Binnie,” the automated message greets him. “Sorry, I’m not able to answer the phone right now, but leave me a message and I’ll get back to you-”

The plastic casing creaks beneath his grip as Jungkook ends the call abruptly. His chest feels tight, his breathing growing shallow and painful, and Jimin’s hand moves from his shoulder to rub gently up and down his back.

“Kookie,” the dancer murmurs, but the youth shakes his head, throat too tight to speak, his gaze starting to blur as he selects speed-dial option two and hits call.

Pick up. God, please just pick up.

“Hey, Yugyeom here! Sorry, looks like you just missed me. Feel free to leave me a message, or if it’s urgent you can contact my Alpha on 0-1-1-”

Jungkook wants to cry.

“It’s the full moon tonight,” Tae reminds him softly, cool hands gently closing around one of his clenched fists. “Your friends were gonna go running with their packs, right? Bin and Yugyeom probably just switched their phones off before the Campus Run.”

That’s a definite possibility.

It’s always a mandatory rule that cell phones are either turned off or switched to silent mode during the monthly SNU moon-run, as a courtesy to any students (typically werewolves and dog hybrids) whose acute hearing enhances exponentially during the lunar ascension, to the point where someone’s annoying ringtone could actually become physically painful. And a lot of folk choose to leave all of their belongings behind before entering the forest – it’s something of a tradition, among wolves in particular, that by shedding the tokens of modern society they’ll be able to form a closer connection with their primal roots during the run; SNU even provide lockers free of charge to packs who wish to store their personal effects more securely.

Then again…Yugyeom almost always sends him photos during the moon-run. He’d started doing it when Jungkook began working all those extra nightshifts and hadn’t been able to join the Im-pack on the full moon anymore. Yugyeom would send him a ton of selfies pulling dumb faces at the camera, or an action-shot of him smearing mud on one of his hyung’s cheeks or doing bunny-ears behind unsuspecting friends – anything to make Kookie laugh and alleviate the monotony of his long shift at the convenience store.

Even if the rest of the Im-pack might choose to have their phones switched off, he knows Yugyeom won’t. So damn it, why isn’t he answering?

And as for Moonbin…Binnie’s never missed a call from him before. Like, ever.

“I should call Jinwoo-hyung,” Jungkook intones, swallowing past the aching lump in his throat and stubbornly blinking back tears. “Someone needs to tell him about Eunwoo.”

And maybe JinJin knows where Bin is. Oh god please, he’s gotta know.

“I’m sure Seokjin-hyung’s already on it, sweetheart,” Yoongi offers from the front seat, his voice full of quiet reassurance. “He left for the hospital the moment I called – hell, knowing hyung, he probably got there ahead of the ambulance. And Namjoonie’s driving straight over from his clinic to help out. They’ll take care of everything, baby, I promise. Trust hyung.”

Jungkook nods wordlessly, cradling his phone against the front of his leather jacket. Even after wearing the jacket for most of the afternoon, it still carries a faint undertone of Jaebum’s cinnamon scent, and he takes comfort in its presence as best he can. It’s the scent all members of the Im-pack carry, himself included if he’s spent more than a couple of hours in Jaebum’s company, and if he closes his eyes he can almost pretend that Yugyeom’s right here in the car with him, safe and sound, and that makes it a little easier to breathe. Maybe Taehyung’s right, maybe Moonbin and Yugyeom both decided to switch off their phones today. In a few hours’ time, he and Binnie will be snuggled up on the couch back in their apartment, the cat hybrid nestling closer with a sleepy hum to offer him a sip of his chocolate milk.

Everything’s gonna be fine, everything’s gonna be fine…

Don’t cry. Stop it.

Jimin gently palms the side of Jungkook’s head and guides it down to rest against his shoulder, the dancer’s fingers stroking through his hair comfortingly. And it works, at least a little, enough that he can close his eyes against the stinging threat of tears and concentrate on the vampire’s tender ministrations instead of the feeling of sickly fear that’s threatening to overwhelm him.

Because despite their reassurances, despite Tae’s calm reasoning and Yoongi’s gift of foresight, deep down – almost on an instinctive level – Jungkook knows that something is very, very wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They don’t even stop to ask for directions once they reach the hospital – Yoongi seems to know exactly where he’s going.

The Seer leads Jungkook by the hand, guiding him quickly through the emergency department, past private rooms and curtained cubicles, moving with a level of confidence and assertiveness that allows them to walk by uniformed medical staff and security guards without once being questioned. Honestly, it’s impressive. Jungkook wonders if the vampire’s been here before or if he’s just relying on his Sight – the only times Yoongi seems to pause is in anticipation of a trolley or a wheelchair intercepting their path, halting abruptly and pulling Jungkook safely out of the way on more than one occasion.

There’s a slight pinch in the vampire’s brow that looks almost pained, his gaze occasionally drifting to follow a specific patient as they’re whisked away down the corridor by medical porters, and Jungkook wonders just how much information the Seer is being bombarded with in a busy environment like this. Hospitals are havens of healing, but they’re also places of death and heartbreak and life-altering diagnoses; if Yoongi has the ability to see even a tenth of all that whilst it’s happening...aigoo, it must be unbearable.

The crease in Yoongi’s forehead eases once they leave the emergency department. The vampire takes the back exit out of the triage centre and leads Jungkook along a short hallway at the rear of the building, lined with tinted circular windows that overlook one of the hospital’s many sensory gardens. They head through another set of double doors, followed by a third, and then Yoongi’s taking a sharp left and leading him up two flights of stairs (which Jungkook swears are labelled as ‘Fire Exit Only’, but he isn’t about to question it).

Jimin and Taehyung have been following close behind them, but the Seer is moving so quickly that the younger pair are barely at the foot of the stairs by the time Yoongi exits the stairwell onto an upper floor and sets off at a fast walk again.

“Shouldn’t we wait for the others?” Jungkook asks, glancing back over his shoulder even as his feet keep moving to match Yoongi’s pace.

“Jimin-ah’s got a good nose, he can trace our steps,” the vampire reassures, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. “And Tae’s gonna need a minute before he’s ready to join us; he’s not overly fond of hospitals.”

Jungkook’s footsteps falter at that, a sliver of concern for his bondmate momentarily pushing its way past the knot of fear already gnawing at his insides.

“Is he okay?”

Yoongi nods with a calm sort of certainty. “He will be. The two of you have a lot to talk about, doll. He likes the crunchy M&Ms.”

It’s such an odd and cryptic statement that Jungkook can’t quite think of a suitable reply, but Yoongi doesn’t seem to notice his confusion, grip shifting to carefully interlock their fingers as he leads him further along the maze of corridors.

“We’re almost there, bun,” the vampire promises. “Stay close.”

They reach an adjoining corridor that appears to be staff-only, if the red lettering along the walls and beige vinyl flooring is any indication; Yoongi doesn’t falter, his grip tightening on Jungkook’s hand as he hurries them down the hallway, past a sign that reads ‘Trauma Theatre 2’. Jungkook’s stomach gives a sickening twist at the sight of it, but thankfully Yoongi’s quick pace doesn’t give him enough time to work himself up over the multitude of terrifying what-ifs that threaten to cripple his mind.

At the next bend in the corridor, they come across a set of double-doors with a sign that reads ‘Family Waiting Room – Please Knock Before Entering’, but Yoongi doesn’t show even a moment’s hesitation before he’s pulling one of the doors open, dropping his grip on Jungkook’s hand so that he can move his own to the small of the youth’s back, gently guiding him in front.

Up until now, Jungkook had still been able to hear Jimin and Taehyung’s distant footsteps following along a short way behind them, but all external sounds are suddenly muted by the high-pitched ringing in his ears as his gaze zeroes in on a dark-haired figure sitting on the couch to his immediate left.

“Oh, thank god,” he reacts, relief washing over him like a tidal wave as he surges forward, perching on the edge of the couch and reaching out to grip his friend’s shoulder. “Eunwoo…”

The model’s sitting right there, alive and wonderfully whole, tucked beneath one of Seokjin’s arms as the elder vampire rests his cheek against the youth’s dark hair. Eunwoo appears mostly uninjured, aside from a slight graze Jungkook can see near his hairline, but the vampire’s head is bowed, face hidden in his hands, shoulders shaking ever so slightly. It takes a moment for Jungkook to realise that Eunwoo is crying

Oh god.

He’s never seen the vampire cry before, and it alarms him ten times more than anything else has so far this afternoon, that sickly feeling of dread beginning to curdle in his stomach again.

“It’s alright, darling,” Jin murmurs, perhaps intended for Eunwoo given his hushed tone, but his attention shifts to study Jungkook’s face with open sympathy. Keeping one arm around the crying vampire, he reaches out to gently brush his fingers against Jungkook’s cheek. “Everything’s going to be alright.”

His chest hurts.

It’s not alright, it’s not, they both know that. Why would Eunwoo be crying if-

“Kookie?”

Startling at the voice, Jungkook’s gaze flickers over to the far corner of the room, where a blanket-swathed figure is rising up from his seat beside Hoseok and climbing shakily to his feet. Recognition hits him immediately, and Jungkook’s heart shoots up into his throat.

“Gyeomie,” he breathes, relief rippling through him again for the second time in as many minutes. Before his brain even registers the movement, he’s crossing the waiting room at a flat-out sprint, throwing his arms around the werewolf in a tight hug. “Oh my god, are you okay? What happened? Where’s Moonbin?”

Yugyeom makes a choked sound against Jungkook’s shoulder, clinging to his jacket with one hand, and just like that the whole world comes to a screeching halt around him.

No.

The sickly feeling in his stomach fans out, cold and heavy as it seeps into the surrounding organs and crawls up into his chest to wrap its icy tendrils around his lungs, pushing up bile to form an aching lump in his throat.

“Yugyeom,” he manages, his voice quaking. “Where is he? Where’s Binnie?”

His best friend shudders, swaying a little in his hold, and suddenly a strong pair of arms are steadying the both of them, lips pressing a gentle kiss to Jungkook’s temple.

“Let’s sit down, okay?” Hoseok encourages softly, carefully guiding them both into chairs beside each other. “Easy, there you go.” The empath’s hand settles in his hair, fingers carding through the locks soothingly. “Binnie’s okay. He got hurt in the accident, but he’s gonna be fine, sweetheart. Joonie’s with him now, he’ll be back on his feet in no time.”

Accident. Hurt. Binnie.

Oh god.

One of Yugyeom’s hands snakes out from beneath the blanket again to cling onto his leather jacket, and Jungkook crowds in closer to the beta immediately, reaching up to wipe away the wolf’s tears.

“Gyeomie, what happened?” Jungkook presses softly as he cradles the other man’s face between his hands, trying not to let the panic take over. The thought of Binnie being hurt is killing him inside, but he has to know.

The werewolf leans into the contact like he’s touch-starved (recovering from a very recent trauma and separated from his pack on a full moon, he probably feels that way), sucking in a hitching breath.

“There…there was a car,” Yugyeom explains haltingly, his voice thick with tears. “We weren’t even crossing the road, it just came out of nowhere and swerved right in front of us. Binnie saw it coming first. He…he shoved us both out of the way, but the car was moving so fast, he didn’t have time to-”

No. No.

Yugyeom ducks his head with another choked noise of anguish. “It struck him head-on, Kook…he went right over the top and then he wasn’t moving and there was so much blood-”

Oh god. Not Binnie, not his Binnie.

Fuck, he’s going to be sick.

“Baby.” Warm hands cradle his face, turning his head gently, and through his blurred vision he finds Hoseok kneeling down on the floor in front of his chair, regarding him with quiet intensity. "Binnie bumped his head pretty hard when he hit the pavement. Head injuries can look pretty horrific even if the damage is only superficial, and Joonie said his scans are looking good so far.”

The tightness in Jungkook’s chest eases, but only a little. He’s given up trying to blink back his tears, sucking in a tremulous breath as Hoseok tenderly thumbs them away.

“Can I see him?” he asks, voice raspy and uneven.

Hoseok shakes his head sympathetically. “Not just yet, bunny. He broke his leg in the accident, so right now he’s in theatre getting patched up.” Panic wells up inside him again, and it must show in his expression because Hoseok leans in immediately to press their forehead’s together, and some of that icy fear is snuffed out by a wave of warmth and love that he immediately knows is coming from the empath. “Shhh. Binnie’s stable, sweetheart. He’s going to be okay. Joonie won’t let anything happen to him.”

“I’ve spoken to Park Jinwoo,” Seokjin adds softly, appearing beside them in the blink of an eyes, smoothing a settling hand over Jungkook’s hair as the youth tries to control his tears. “He and his pack are stuck in traffic, but they’re on their way.” His gaze shifts to Yugyeom, eyes full of gentle warmth. “I’m sure your Alpha will be here soon, little one.”

Yugyeom manages a shaky, tearful smile of gratitude, and Jin leans over to drop a kiss against the crown of the wolf’s head, hand settling over his nape comfortingly. Jungkook feels a little of the tension ease from his best friend’s posture at the contact, and squeezes Yugyeom’s hand in solidarity, before his gaze flickers across the waiting room in search of Eunwoo.

Yoongi has claimed Jin’s previous seat, but he’s pulled the model into his lap for a cuddle. Jimin and Taehyung have arrived and are seated either side of the pair, all three hyungs whispering quietly to the distraught younger vampire in a clear effort to soothe him. From the way Eunwoo’s shoulders continue to shake, it doesn’t seem to be working. Jungkook’s heart aches to go and comfort his friend, but honestly, he doesn’t know what to do to make this better. He can only imagine how horrifying it must be to see your bondmate involved in such a serious accident; to be forced to stand by and wait helplessly as the medics work on him…and honestly, Jungkook’s so close to bursting into tears again himself, he doubts he’ll be of any comfort to Eunwoo in his present state.

“Hot chocolate,” Jimin announces to the room decisively. “That’s what everyone needs right now.” He presses another soft kiss to Eunwoo’s temple and peels himself away from the model’s side. “And snacks. Lots of snacks.”

Jin sends the dancer a warm smile. “Thank you. Here, angel, take my card.”

As Jimin slips the proffered black card into his back pocket and turns to leave, Yoongi’s arm suddenly snaps out, reaching around Eunwoo to snag Jimin by the wrist and tug him away from the exit. The dancer steadies himself against Yoongi’s shoulder with a startled grunt, looking confused.

“Careful,” the Seer warns quietly, head tilted to one side. “We have incoming.”

At that very moment, Jungkook’s acute hearing picks up on the distant thunder of rapidly approaching footsteps along the theatre corridor. Beside him, Yugyeom straightens up in his chair, red-rimmed eyes widening a little as his hand tightens in Jungkook’s.

“Alpha,” he whispers.

And then the waiting room doors fly open with a resounding bang as the newcomer all but ploughs straight through them, stumbling to a halt just over the threshold, breathing heavily as his faintly crimson-tinted gaze scans the room’s occupants and quickly zeroes in on Jungkook and Yugyeom.

The moment of stillness shatters a heartbeat later as Jaebum closes the distance between them in long, rapid strides, both Hoseok and Seokjin smoothly stepping out of his way as he crosses the room with an air of singular determination to throw an arm around each of his cubs, leaning down to draw them tightly against his chest.

Jungkook buries his face in the wolf’s jacket, breathing in that familiar cinnamon spice that smells like family, clutching onto JB in return as the Alpha holds them close.

“Thank god you’re okay,” the Alpha breathes, his shaky relief audible. “I just knew something had happened to you, I could feel it, and when I got that phone call…aigoo. I'm never letting you walk home by yourself again."

Eventually he releases them from his crushing embrace, sinking down into a crouch in front of their seats, looking significantly more composed than he had been just a few minutes prior. JB has finally caught his breath, and the pale crimson has faded from his eyes, his expression concerned but controlled as he cups Jungkook’s cheek in one hand and Yugyeom’s in the other.

“Hyung,” Yugyeom utters, his voice wrecked. “Binnie…he-”

“I know, baby.” Jaebum leans in again to press their foreheads together, closing his eyes, a telling tightness to his jaw that belies his calm tone. “I know.”

It’s clear the Alpha’s keeping his own worry in check for their sake. Jungkook knows he and Moonbin don’t technically belong to the Im-pack, but JB has always treated them as part of the family, and there’s no disputing the fact that they’re Jaebum’s cubs. To have one of his maknaes injured and undergoing surgery, it must be absolute torture for the Alpha wolf.

“Are you both alright?” Jaebum presses softly, pulling back to sweep his gaze over Jungkook now. “You’re not hurt?”

Jungkook doesn’t know for sure just how terrible he looks, but he imagines it isn’t a whole lot better than Yugyeom’s puffy, red-rimmed eyes and flushed cheeks. And if the deepening crease of concern in JB’s brow is any indication, it isn’t a good look.

The squeak of shoes against the vinyl flooring of the corridor distracts Jungkook from the Alpha’s gaze, and he glances up in time to see a familiar broad-shouldered figure tripping over his own feet as he bursts through the doors, stumbling forwards a few steps before being caught neatly by Hoseok.

“Oh, hey,” Jackson reacts, breathing hard from his apparent sprint. “Thanks for the save.”

Then the beta-wolf’s gaze snaps up towards the far side of the room, taking in Yugyeom and Jungkook at a glance, and in the next breath he’s darting across the room to crowd over them as JB had done (the Alpha smoothly ducking to one side so that he doesn’t get trampled), throwing his arms around them in a wonderfully tight embrace.

“Aigoo, you scared the shit out of me,” he murmurs against Yugyeom’s hair. “When hyung called to say there’d been an accident, fuck. Thank god you’re both okay.”

He presses a kiss to each of their brows, before pulling back a few inches to glance away from them briefly, gaze flitting over to where Jin is standing quietly a respectful distance away.

“How’s Binnie?” Jackson presses. “Is he still in surgery?”

Seokjin stares into the middle-distance for a moment before nodding, his gaze refocusing. “At present, yes, but he’ll be out shortly. Namjoon-ah says the fracture wasn’t as complex as scans first indicated, so it didn’t require extensive reconstruction. Joonie’s just cleaning up before he joins us – he’s much better equipped to explain the recovery process that I am. And he can take a look at that wrist of yours, cub.”

Jungkook, Jackson and Jaebum immediately refocus their attention on a clearly startled-to-have-been-called-out-like-that Yugyeom, the pup quickly ducking his head, shamefaced.

“Wait, you’re hurt?” Jungkook frets, turning fully towards his friend. “Dude, why didn’t you tell me?”

Jaebum’s already tugging the folds of the blanket aside to get at the arm that Yugyeom has apparently been cradling to his chest all this time.

“It’s only a little sprain,” the youth tries to insist, but he leans back into Jackson’s arms happily enough when the older beta moves to claim the seat beside his own. “I can barely feel it, honest.”

“Shock can do that to you, buddy,” Hoseok sympathises, carefully taking the seat on the other side of Jungkook now that his protective pack-hyungs have focused their attention elsewhere temporarily. “Don’t worry, Joonie will have you fixed up in no time.”

Jaebum’s gaze briefly flickers up from Yugyeom’s swollen wrist to assess the empath’s proximity to his bunny-cub, clearly still a little keyed up on protective Alpha instincts (honestly, a full moon was probably the worst possible night for something like this to happen, Alpha’s are overprotective at the best of times but add in lunar-drawn primal instincts and yeesh). Jungkook sends the wolf a reassuring smile, leaning into Hoseok’s side as the vampire loops an arm around his waist, relaxing into the embrace with a feeling of relief. Cuddles are exactly what he needs right now.

The Alpha holds his gaze a moment longer before returning his attention to Yugyeom’s injury. And although he says nothing, Jaebum’s willingness to back down and allow Hoseok to be tactile is basically as good as a framed certificate of approval for Jungkook’s new hyungs.

Hoseok seems to recognise that too, dropping a kiss against Jungkook’s hair and pulling him closer until he’s sitting sideways in the empath’s lap, both the vampire’s arms wrapping snugly around him. That feeling of warmth, love, reassurance pulses through his chest again, and he smiles a little despite the worry that’s still gnawing at his gut, because it’s just so nice.

“Introductions,” Jackson chirps with clearly forced cheer, his lap still full of Yugyeom. “We should probably do those, right? I mean, I already know who you all are, obviously, because you’re Kims, but werewolf tradition and all that jazz. Hyung gets his panties in a twist about pack-formality stuff.”

“Jackson,” Jaebum sighs, but he sounds more fond than annoyed, and it manages to coax a small but genuine smile out of Yugyeom, which was likely the elder beta’s intention all along.

The Alpha presses a gentle kiss to Yugyeom’s injured wrist, lowering it again gently before pushing himself to his feet and turning to face the other occupants of the room. He inclines his head politely to the trio over on the couch, before stepping closer to Seokjin and bowing ninety degrees at the waist.

“Alpha Im Jaebum,” he greets formally. “Thank you for protecting my cubs, Primus. I'm indebted to you.”

Jin offers the wolf his hand with a warm smile as JB straightens.

“There are no debts between friends,” the vampire reassures him, shaking hands amiably. “And I feel it would be wise to serve as a united front when it comes to protecting one of your cubs in particular. So please, call me Jin-hyung.”

Warmth blooms in Jungkook’s chest, and this time it doesn’t come from Hoseok. He sees the line of tension in the Alpha’s shoulders drain away at Seokjin’s easy acceptance of JB’s role in Jungkook’s life – that the vampire had openly acknowledged Kookie as the Alpha’s cub without prompting was definitely a point in his favour. Jaebum’s calm formality is already melting into something easier and friendlier, his polite smile notably more genuine as he nods in agreement.

“Well, I’ll be honest with you,” the Alpha sighs, and when he looks over at Jungkook there’s a familiar twinkle in his eye. “He’s really quite a handful. I could use all the help I can get.”

Jungkook tries to pout at the obvious teasing, but truthfully he’s just so fucking relieved to see his two favourite pseudo-guardians getting along so well, and all he can manage is playful nose-wrinkle and a longsuffering eye-roll.

Seokjin chuckles fondly at his response, reaching out to fluff up Jungkook’s fringe with gentle fingers. Hoseok gives his waist another gentle squeeze, and that happy, warm feeling is flowing two ways now. It seems to amplify itself as a result, like how his emotions always feel so much bigger and brighter when he’s holding hands with Taehyung. He had previously assumed that emotional transference only happened along an established bond like the one he and Tae share, but maybe things work a little differently because of Hobi’s empathic abilities. It hadn’t felt like this when Hoseok had hugged him the other day, though…

The swish of the waiting room doors being pushed open shatters his brief moment of contentedness. Namjoon steps into the room, dressed in the familiar beige uniform tunic and dark brown pants worn by all healers at SGH. The sleeves are shorter than the tunics he wears at Cornerstone Healing Clinic, and his bilateral tattoos are more prominent as a result, intricate spirals that curl around his biceps and down to his elbows, the black ink dark against the pale tan of his skin.

The vampire looks tired, more tired than Jungkook’s ever seen him, and just like that all of his previous worries and fears come bubbling back up to the surface.

Hoseok draws him in closer almost immediately and brushes a settling kiss against the side of his head, clearly aware of Jungkook’s inner torment, seeking to comfort him.

“Hyung!”

It’s the first time Eunwoo’s spoken since Jungkook arrived, and the raw emotion in his voice hits Jungkook right in the solar plexus. His friend sounds absolutely wrecked.

Namjoon opens his arms towards the younger vampire, Eunwoo making a choked sound as he practically launches out of Yoongi’s lap and throws himself against the healer’s chest

“He’s alright, kiddo,” Namjoon murmurs, one arm wrapped securely around Eunwoo’s shaking shoulders, his free hand stroking the model’s hair. The healer glances up to take in the rest of the room and raises his voice a little to reiterate. “Binnie’s gonna be just fine. He’s got a few days of bedrest ahead of him, but the fracture should heal cleanly within a week or so, and his concussion turned out to be a lot milder than we’d feared. He’s sleeping now, but he did wake up briefly a few minutes ago, which is a good sign.”

Jungkook relaxes back against Hoseok with a tremulous exhale, the enormity of his relief so intense that it leaves him feel a little shaky.

“He’s still got a lot of meds in his system,” Namjoon continues, “and his metabolism’s working overtime to try and burn them all off, so he’s a little confused just now. He might not make a lot of sense for another hour or two. He kept asking for chocolate milk.”

That surprises a startled, slightly tearful laugh from Jungkook, the sound echoed by Jaebum as the Alpha drags a hand through his hair, looking as emotionally drained as Jungkook feels.

Eunwoo pulls away from Namjoon just enough to swipe a sleeve across his eyes.

“Can I see him?” the younger vampire asks. “Please, hyung, I need to-”

Namjoon hushes him with a gentle finger to his lips, leaning in to kiss the youth’s forehead. “They don’t normally allow family members into PACU so soon after surgery, but I’ve pre-warned the nurses to expect you. I’m sure Binnie will feel better if he can sense that you’re close.”

The healer kisses Eunwoo’s brow again, then guides him towards the door with a hand at the small of his back.

“First left as you turn the corner,” Namjoon instructs. “I’ll come join you in a few minutes, alright?”

Eunwoo nods, turns to throw his arms around Namjoon’s neck one last time in a crushing hug of gratitude, and then slips quietly from the room, his footsteps rapidly fading as he leaves in search of his injured bondmate.

Closing his eyes for a moment, Jungkook takes several deep breaths, the fear and panic and distress bleeding out of him with every shaky exhale. Fuck, he’s just so relieved that Binnie’s going to be okay. The past hour has singlehandedly been the worst of his entire life, and that includes the time during his elementary school years when he got himself locked in a storage closet with a giant cicada.

“Hey.” Gentle fingers touch his cheek, and he opens his eyes again to find Namjoon kneeling in front of him, his expression gentle. “Rough day, bun?”

Jungkook’s answering smile is far too wobbly to be convincing, and he blinks hard to keep his eyes from welling up again. Binnie’s going to be okay, so he’s not gonna cry any more. He’s fine.

“Hot chocolate time,” Jimin announces, clapping his hands together decisively as he moves forward again. “Jaebum-ssi, Jackson-ssi, would you like some?”

“I’ll help carry,” Taehyung offers, slipping his arm into Jimin’s. Then he hesitates, glancing back towards Jungkook, clearly torn.

Jungkook manages a more convincing smile. “I’m okay,” he promises, wiping at his eyes. “I’m just being dumb.”

“No you’re not,” Jaebum and Seokjin chide gently in unison, and it makes something warm flutter in Jungkook’s stomach.

Namjoon has shifted his focus to Yugyeom, carefully cradling the pup’s injured wrist between his large hands.

“Well, you’ve managed to avoid breaking it,” the healer reassures him. “But it’s a bad sprain, cub. Did it take the brunt of your fall?”

Yugyeom nods, wincing. “I landed on it when Binnie pushed me out of the way. Didn’t really feel it at the time, but it’s kinda starting to ache now.”

“Adrenaline can be both a blessing and curse,” Namjoon acknowledges, gently tracing swirling runes against the wolf’s forearm with the pad of his index finger. “If the EMTs had known about it sooner, someone would’ve splinted it for you. I’m gonna get you some ice and a poultice wrap, okay? We’ll have that swelling down soon enough.”

As the healer straightens up again, Jungkook reaches out to catch his hand, meeting Namjoon’s soft gaze as the vampire glances down at him.

“Hyung,” he presses. “Can I go and see Binnie? Please?”

Namjoon’s free hand comes up to smooth Jungkook's fringe back from his forehead in a tender caress, his expression apologetic.

“Soon,” he promises gently. “Once Binnie's out of PACU, I’ll have him moved to a private recovery suite upstairs. I’ll let you know as soon as he’s been transferred, okay?”

It isn’t quite the answer Jungkook had been hoping for (he wants to see Binnie now), but he knows arguing is unlikely to get him anywhere. From what he understands, Namjoon’s already breaking hospital policy by allowing Eunwoo to be in PACU right after surgery, so he doesn’t want to put the healer in a difficult position by asking to join them.

So he sighs softly, but nods, resigned to wait a little longer.

“Okay.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

.

 

Fuck. He can’t do this.

Jungkook’s spent the past twenty minutes trying to mentally prepare himself for the potentially distressing sight of his injured roommate. He’s not squeamish in the slightest, probably wouldn’t even in blink if he accidentally sliced through his own thumb, but it’s totally different when Binnie is the one who’s hurt…it’s quite literally the stuff of nightmares.

Nevertheless, he’d been determined to keep his cool when the time came – to be the calm, reassuring hyung that the younger boy needed him to be – and preferably not to burst into tears the moment he saw Binnie’s broken leg.

Hoseok’s warm embrace and a cup of hot chocolate had certainly helped to settle his nerves a little, and the Im-pack showing up en masse (loud and fraught but wonderfully tactile) had been a welcome distraction from his inner turmoil. He and Yugyeom had found themselves hugged within an inch of their lives by a hoard of worried hyungs, but there had been a great deal of comfort in that oh-so-familiar fussing, and at least it had helped to pass the time while Jungkook anxiously waited for Namjoon to return with news of Moonbin being moved out of PACU.

And as it happens, Jungkook isn’t anywhere near ready to see the fallout of Moonbin’s accident with his own two eyes.

“I know it looks pretty bad, sweetheart,” Namjoon acknowledges quietly, wrapping a comforting arm around Jungkook’s shoulders as the youth stands frozen in the doorway to Moonbin’s private recovery suite, staring at his bedridden best friend numbly. “But most of the tissue damage is superficial. He’s only got a mild concussion.”

Mild? Aigoo, it looks like Binnie’s gone ten rounds with a slab of concrete – the abrasions and discolouration running down the right side of his face must be so painful, and his right eye is bruised and swollen, a darkening ring already forming around the socket. There’s a neat row of stitches running from the corner of his eyebrow and along his temple, the skin there looking raw and puffy.

It’s just awful.

Jungkook swallows past the lump that’s lodged itself in his throat, blinking hard to force back the tears threatening to well in his eyes, feeling Namjoon’s arm tightening around him in a sideways hug.

He’s not gonna cry again. He’s not.

“Is he unconscious?” Yugyeom asks faintly from Jungkook’s other side, a very slight wobble in his voice, and Kookie reaches blindly for his friend’s hand to grip it in solidarity.

Namjoon lifts his arm from Jungkook’s shoulders to squeeze the wolf’s nape, his smile kind as he shakes his head. “He’s only sleeping, cub. He was awake and talking before I left, but the meds we’ve got him are gonna make him a little drowsy.”

Jungkook finds comfort in the knowledge, finally tearing his gaze away from Binnie’s injured face to take in the rest of him. Both of the werecat’s arms are grazed in several places, especially at the elbows where they peek out from beneath the short sleeves of his pale blue hospital gown. There’s a blanket draped over his torso and left side, but his right leg is elevated on a padded frame several inches above the mattress, the limb heavily bandaged and secured by a splint. Jungkook wonders why it isn’t in a standard plaster-cast if the fracture wasn’t serious, but Binnie’s toes look pink and healthy where they poke out of the bottom of the bandages, so he isn’t going to question it.

The werecat’s alive, relatively whole and breathing on his own – that’s what Jungkook needs to focus on. Because aigoo, it could’ve been so much worse.

Fuck, don’t cry. Don’t.

“Joon-hyung?” Eunwoo emerges from what appears to be the ensuite bathroom, drying his hands on some paper towels. He definitely seems a lot less distressed than he had been an hour ago, although his eyes still look a little red and puffy from crying even as he gives the elder vampire a tired smile. “Binnie managed to finish all the water you left him, and it seems to be staying down this time. He’s still got his heart set on Nesquik, though.”

“Kitten really likes his chocolate milk, huh?” Namjoon gives Jungkook one last sideways squeeze before pulling away to cross over to the bedside. Leaning down, he gently smooths Moonbin’s fringe back from his forehead. “Bin-ah? Can you open your eyes for me?”

Jungkook finds himself drawn further into the room despite the continuing urge to either upchuck everywhere or burst into tears. He takes a few steadying breaths as he inches closer, still gripping onto Yugyeom’s uninjured hand tightly, neither of them saying a word as they near the werecat’s bedside. Moonbin’s expression twitches ever so slightly, his eyelids fluttering for a brief moment before he groans, face scrunching up into a pained grimace.

In the blink of an eye, Eunwoo’s half-kneeling on the bed beside him, one of the cat’s hands cradled between both his own, his worried gaze flickering up to look at Namjoon helplessly.

“Shhh. Easy, kiddo,” the healer murmurs – a deep, soothing rumble that seems to resonate at Jungkook’s very core – settling a gentle palm across Moonbin’s forehead and closing his eyes for a moment.

The healer’s lips move silently, forming words in a language Jungkook doesn’t recognise, and within seconds the werecat’s expression is slackening again in relief as the discomfort passes. Namjoon shifts his hand lower, his touch lightly ghosting over Moonbin’s torso and abdomen, and the healer’s breathing stutters slightly on a deep inhale, his own brow creasing for a split second, the briefest flicker of discomfort at whatever pain he senses there. Opening his eyes again, the vampire quickly reaches towards the IV pumps hooked up to the drip-stand at the headboard, tapping at a few keys on two of the syringe drivers.

“There, kitten, that should keep you comfortable,” he soothes, gently stroking down Moonbin’s cheek before shifting to caress the back of Eunwoo’s head. “Breathe, baby.”

Eunwoo exhales in a shuddering whoosh, Moonbin’s hand still clasped between his own and held to his cheek, eyes looking suspiciously damp again.

“Is Binnie okay?” Yugyeom hedges worriedly, gripping Jungkook’s hand so tight that he’s sort of lost the feeling in his fingers.

“He’s gonna be just fine,” Namjoon reassures them confidently, briefly checking that the drip’s cannula is still securely taped to the crook of Moonbin’s arm. “He bruised his ribs in the accident, but I’m afraid that’s not something I can easily charm away. And it’s always a little tricky to find the right dosage for werefolk during a full moon, their metabolic rate can be so variable. I’d rather not dope him up like this, but he keeps burning through the milder analgesics so quickly. Don’t you, Binnie?”

Moonbin’s nose wrinkles as he gives a sleepy hum, stirring beneath the blanket.

Jungkook holds his breath for a long moment, only to let it out again in shaky relief when Moonbin’s eyelids suddenly flutter open to blink up at the healer, squinting even in the room’s dim lighting.

“N’mjoon-hyung?” the werecat croaks.

“Hi, kitten,” Regarding him with a fond expression, Namjoon carefully smooths the cat’s fringe back from his bruised forehead again. “How are you feeling?”

The youth is silent for a long moment as he processes the question, tongue darting out to wet his lips as he blinks slowly, sluggishly.

“M’kinda floaty.”

Namjoon’s smile is dimpled and full of gentle warmth. “Mm. You’re on the good stuff, kiddo. Does anything hurt at all?”

Binnie begins to shake his head, but Namjoon’s hand on his uninjured cheek quickly stills the motion.

“Ah-ah,” the healer cautions softly. “Easy does it, or you’ll make yourself sick again. No shaking that head around for a little while, okay?”

Moonbin proceeds to nod, and Eunwoo makes a soft noise somewhere between amusement and concern, reaching out to hold his boyfriend’s chin to halt the movement. Moonbin’s sleepy expression immediately dissolves into a dopey smile.

“Nunu,” the werecat coos. “You’re so pretty.”

Oh.

Oh boy.

Jungkook’s only ever seen Moonbin drunk once in the entirety of their acquaintance, mostly because the whole ‘dire financial straights’ thing has limited their liquor consumption somewhat – drinks are fucking expensive after all, so the only time he and Bin ever really indulged had been at university functions and events where the booze was either dirt cheap or free. At Seungkwang’s 20th birthday party earlier in the year, the man’s father had hired an open bar for the evening with unlimited drinks, so naturally almost the whole dance team (all those of legal drinking age, anyway) ended up getting halfway wasted. Yugyeom had challenged Moonbin to a drinking competition, and after a few hours neither of them could speak coherently or walk in a straight line. Stuck being one of the few sober attendees that night due to being on an early shift at the café the following morning, Jungkook had eventually been forced to call Jaebum for aid when it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to carry both of his friends home, and the Alpha had arrived in his SUV to cart all three of them back to the Den. Jungkook’s sobriety had thankfully spared him from Jaebum’s wrath, but he knows the lecture on drinking responsibly that Bin and Yugyeom had received the following day (once they’d both recovered from their brief but terrible hangovers) had been truly memorable. Binnie’s certainly never gotten blind-drunk again.

Although he sure as hell sounds like it now.

And it shouldn’t be funny, because the werecat’s pumped chock full of pain meds and has a minor brain injury from being hit by a car, but a surprised snort of laughter escapes Jungkook’s lips all the same. He can’t help it. Binnie’s just too fucking cute.

Moonbin’s gaze immediately shifts to glace over at his new visitors, eyes widening in surprise and delight.

“Hyuuuung,” his injured roommate greets, arm lethargically fumbling to escape the blankets so that he can make clumsy grabby-hands in their general direction. “Look, I’m in hospital!”

Jungkook chokes on another surprised laugh despite the moist stinging in his eyes, closing the distance between them quickly, relief making his limbs feel shaky as he gently grasps Moonbin’s extended hand between his own, sinking down to perch on the edge of the bed.

“Yeah, Kitkat, I can see that,” he agrees, and leans in to briefly rest his forehead against Moonbin’s shoulder, desperate to hug him properly but a little scared to jostle him around too much and risk aggravating his bruised ribs. “Do me a big favour and don’t make a habit out of this, okay? You’re gonna give me grey hairs.”

“You could still make it work,” Moonbin insists loyally, sounding increasingly more lucid by the minute. Perhaps that burst of morphine is wearing off already? Bin’s definitely got a quicker metabolism than anyone Jungkook’s ever met, so it wouldn’t surprise him. “Ooh! You should dye your hair all silver, it’d be super cute. Right, Yug-?”

Then werecat suddenly sucks in a sharp gasp, and Jungkook pulls back quickly, worried that he’s pressed down on something tender. But Binnie’s staring at Yugyeom instead, his eyes widened in horror.

“Hyung, you’re hurt,” Moonbin frets, looking distraught. “What happened?”

“It’s nothing, bud,” Yugyeom soothes quickly, sliding onto the edge of the bed beside Jungkook to show the cat his splinted wrist. “I just tripped, that’s all.”

“But you’re hurt,” the cat laments, fingers gently petting the injured limb, a familiar pout quickly forming.

And oh, if Jungkook had been a fucking pushover when it came to Binnie’s pouts before the accident, it’s ten times worse now that the werecat’s all roughed up and fragile-looking.

“C’mon, Kitkat, you know how quickly he heals,” Jungkook reasons, his smile reassuring. “It’ll probably be better by the morning.”

“Right,” Yugyeom agrees cheerfully, very gently ruffling the werecat’s hair. “It doesn’t even hurt anymore. Promise.”

“Oh. Okay.” Moonbin pats the wolf’s forearm one last time, his pout easing off. Then he falls silent for a moment, contemplative. His brow creases a little. “Hyung? I can’t feel my leg.”

A sudden jolt of fear turns Jungkook’s stomach to ice, his mind throwing up half a dozen possible explanations in a split second, each more terrifying than the last – internal bleeding, nerve damage, paralysis…

“That’s my fault, kitten,” Namjoon interjects calmly, before Jungkook has time to properly freak the fuck out. “I’ve put a temporary nerve-block directly above your fracture to keep you comfortable for the next twenty-four hours; your bones are gonna do a lot of healing overnight, it wouldn’t be much fun for you if you could feel it. If things are looking better, I can remove the block tomorrow.”

“Fracture?” Moonbin blinks, faintly confused. “I broke it?”

“You had an accident,” Eunwoo reminds him gently, flashing Namjoon a brief, worried look. “We talked about it a little while ago, remember? You got hit by a car, baby.”

“Oh,” Moonbin reacts, wincing. “Sorry. Wait, is the driver okay?”

Aigoo, Jungkook really wants to hug the stuffing out of his soft-hearted roommate. Binnie finds out he’s the unfortunate victim of an RTA, and his first concern is still for the bastard who almost killed him.

“He didn’t stick around long enough for us to ask,” Yugyeom answers dryly, and Jungkook can hear the thinly veiled anger in the wolf’s voice that echoes his own sentiments.

He’s not the violent type, but after seeing Moonbin’s injuries with his own eyes, Jungkook wants to hunt down that reckless driver and throttle him. And he imagines the urge must be even more pronounced for a werewolf, particularly an Alpha like Jaebum. And especially given that it’s the full moon – not only had someone seriously injured JB’s youngest cub, but they’d driven off in a heartbeat and just left the werecat lying there by the wayside, unconscious and bleeding. The only reason Jaebum probably hasn’t gone out himself to hunt the perpetrator down is because he’s reluctant to stray far from his babies.

“Don’t worry about the driver,” Namjoon tells them calmly, plucking a couple of leaves from the flowering vine-like plant that Jungkook hadn’t even noticed growing along the far wall of the spacious recovery suite. The vampire crushes them between his palms in a circular motion as he heads back over to the bed. “He’ll be in police custody soon enough.”

Eunwoo perks up at that, looking hopeful. “Is Jin-hyung gonna track him?”

“Mm,” Namjoon confirms, leaning down to gently dab the crushed, sweet-smelling greenery against Moonbin’s stitches. “He contacted traffic control to pull up the CCTV footage from either side of that junction; they managed to read the plates. The driver wasn’t at his registered address, but Jinnie’s pretty good at finding people who don’t want to be found.” He glances over at Eunwoo fondly. “We protect our own, kiddo, you know that.”

The younger vampire smiles in return, looking relieved.

Aigoo, Jungkook had wondered where Seokjin had disappeared off to. Once the Im-pack had arrived, the vampire had slipped quietly from the room with Mark in tow, and neither of them had returned by the time Namjoon came to escort him to Binnie’s recovery suite. With Mark working as a supernatural specialist with the Seoul Police Force, Jungkook had assumed that Jin merely wanted to pass on the details that Eunwoo had shared about the make and colour of the vehicle that had struck them. Perhaps instead, Jin had invited Mark to join him in tracking down the driver rather than doing it singlehandedly. After all, it made sense to have a police officer present if he intended to make an arrest. Although it wouldn’t surprise Jungkook if the vampire secretly had the legal authority to arrest suspects all by himself. Not a lot of things would surprise him these days when it comes to Kim Seokjin.

“I’m gonna have to skip dance for a little while, huh?” Moonbin realises, the very picture of disappointment as his pout threatens to return.

“It’ll only be for a few weeks, baby,” Eunwoo reassures, leaning in to kiss his boyfriend’s uninjured cheek before glancing up towards Namjoon for validation. “Right, hyung?”

The healer nods, smiling as he discards the crushed leaves and traces a quick cleansing rune over the back of each hand.

“I’ve already jumpstarted the healing process,” he tells the pouting cat. “You’ll only have to wear the cast for ten days – two weeks tops. But you’ll need to stay in bed for the next forty-eight hours to allow the binding runes work their magic, or the fracture might destabilise.”

Moonbin glances between Eunwoo and Namjoon, looking crestfallen. “I can’t go home tonight?”

Jungkook’s heart aches. The doting hyung in him wants to give Moonbin everything he wants on a silver platter; to take him back to their apartment, get him all cosied up on the couch and feed him nothing but expensive take-out for the next two weeks. However, the worried and still-slightly-traumatised side of him wants to duct-tape Moonbin to this hospital bed and never let him within ten feet of a car ever again.

Unfortunately, forced imprisonment is generally frowned upon in modern society.

“Joonie-hyung said I can stay the night,” Eunwoo placates with a gentle smile, kissing the back of Moonbin’s hand. “The rest of the pack too, if you like. JinJin-hyung’s still stuck in traffic, but I’m sure they’ll be here soon. There’s enough room for us all to stay.”

That certainly seems true. The recovery suite really is huge, far bigger than any standard hospital room Jungkook’s ever seen. There are a couple of couches on the other side of the suite, a small table and chairs near the curtained windows, and a huge HD plasma-screen TV mounted on the far wall, the green vine growing around it to form a sort of leafy frame. Clearly this is the sort of recovery suite that you need to pay big bucks for, and Jungkook has a sneaking suspicion who might’ve signed the papers for the unexpected upgrade.

There’s a quiet tap on the door, and Namjoon’s cheeks dimple, fingers combing gently through Moonbin’s hair again.

“Feeling up to a couple more visitors, kitten?” the healer asks. At the werecat’s answering smile, Namjoon turns towards the entrance. “Come on in, angel.”

The door swings open, a cheerful Jimin holding two bulging plastic bags aloft by way of an offering. “Did someone order room service?”

“We got sandwiches and kimbap,” Taehyung adds, following the vampire-shifter into the room and nudging the door closed behind him with his hip, both of his hands also occupied by large plastic bags. “And I heard on the grapevine that someone’s craving chocolate milk.”

“Me!” Binnie chimes in keenly, raising a hand in the air. Eunwoo makes a noise of concern at the sudden movement, catching the cat’s arm and gently lowering it back down again.

“Careful, baby,” the vampire fusses. “Your ribs are still healing.”

“Hyung’s got you on the good stuff, I see,” Jimin comments, smiling down at the injured werecat indulgently. “We weren’t sure what kinda snacks you like best, so we just bought one of everything.”

“I love you,” Moonbin sighs happily, then pats Eunwoo’s hand as though to reassure him and amends, “Not the same way Kookie-hyung does, obviously. He’s totally into you. He’s got you down on his phone as-”

“Binnie!” Jungkook interrupts, feeling his cheeks flush hot in mortification as Yugyeom and Eunwoo both make a poor attempt at muffling their amused response.

“Maybe we should shelve that conversation for a time when you aren’t high on pain meds, kitten,” Jimin suggests with a fond laugh, having set down his bags on the little tray-table so that he can curl an arm around Jungkook’s shoulders comfortably.

“Okay,” Moonbin agrees cheerfully, gaze trained on the food that Taehyung is unloading from his own bags.

“Let’s take it easy on the snacks, Binnie,” Namjoon cautions, eyes crinkling at the corners when the werecat turns a beseeching glance his way. The healer chuckles, reaching for one of the Nesquik cartons. “We’ll see if you can keep this down first. Here, let’s sit you up a little more.”

Pressing one of the buttons on the bed’s remote control, Namjoon elevates the head of the bed by a few more inches so that Moonbin is at a higher recline, not quite sitting upright but close enough. The werecat fidgets a little, hands bracing against the mattress as he shifts to adjust his position with a wince.

Suddenly the overhead cardiac monitor begins to alarm, and Jungkook startles, glancing up sharply at the digital screen as cold fear lodges itself behind his breastbone again. The once-steady wavy lines are a mess of erratic, uneven wiggles, and Jungkook sure as hell hopes that number isn’t denoting Moonin’s true heartbeat, because it’s got one too many digits for his liking.

“Oh, sorry.” Moonbin glances down at his chest. “I think one of the stickers fell off.”

“Don’t worry, it happens all the time,” Namjoon reassures, silencing the wailing alarms with a quick tap to the touchscreen and leaning down to reach for the neckline of the werecat’s hospital gown. “May I?”

At Moonbin’s nod, the healer quickly loosens the tie at the back of the gown to tug it forward a little, enough that he can ease the garment aside and re-attach the circular cardiac sensor to the right side of the werecat’s chest. Jungkook sees a brief flash of mottled bruises before Namjoon rights Moonbin’s gown again and deftly fastens it back in place.

When Jungkook glances back up at the monitor, the wavy lines have resumed their steady movements and the numbers look far healthier than they had done a few moments ago. He breathes a sigh of relief, feeling Jimin’s arm slip from around his shoulders as the vampire steps away.

Eunwoo stabs the plastic straw into the carton of chocolate milk and holds it out towards Moonbin, the werecat reaching for it eagerly.

“Small sips,” Namjoon reminds him kindly. “And I mean small, kitten. Too fast and it’ll upset your stomach.”

The cat pouts around the straw, but obligingly relinquishes the carton back to Eunwoo’s safekeeping after only one gulp. Given that Moonbin usually downs a half-pint bottle in a few glugs on any given time of day, it shows remarkable restraint.

“Yah, you need to drink something too,” Yugyeom pipes up, reaching for one of the fancy-looking organic blood pouches and holding it out to Eunwoo. “You missed the hot chocolate run earlier. Gimme the milk, I can help Binnie.”

“Binnie can help himself,” the werecat tries to insist, but Yugyeom just snorts and holds the Nesquik further out of reach.

“Binnie has minimal self-control around dairy products at the best of times,” the wolf reminds him amusedly. “And currently Binnie is high as fuck. Hyung’s keeping hold of the milk for now, boo-bear.”

The werecat sticks his tongue out in retribution.

Smiling at the familiar playful bickering, Jungkook rubs his chest slowly where that icy fear from a few moments ago seems reluctant to thaw. Binnie’s fine, the cardiac arrhythmia had been an obvious false alarm, so why does it still feel like he’s freaking out? It’s weird, because he knows the rest of him isn’t even a little bit on edge, but that sickly cloying panic is still there, at odds with how the rest of him is feeling. It doesn’t make any sense…

“C’mon, baby, let’s step out for a minute,” a voice whispers a short distance behind him, and Jungkook wouldn’t have heard it at all if he’d been fully paying attention to his best friends’ back-and-forth teasing.

Turning a little in his perch on the bedside, he glances back towards the entrance, where Taehyung seems to have retreated into the corner of the room by the door, face pale and posture tense. Jimin’s got a hand on the younger vampire’s cheek, whispering to him soothingly, but Tae’s gaze is fixed somewhere in the middle-distance, chest rising and falling in rapid, shallow breaths…

And Jungkook suddenly realises where that feeling of panic is coming from. It feels so disjointed from his own emotions because it doesn’t belong to him. He’s sensing it from Taehyung despite the lack of physical contact, despite the distance between the two of them. Aigoo, how much more intense must that feeling be for Tae, if the mere echo of it is making Jungkook feel so unsettled?

As he watches, Namjoon steps forward to cup a hand over the side of Tae’s neck, thumb stroking along his throat as he ducks down a little to try and catch the fledgling’s gaze. Taehyung blinks, sucks in a ragged breath, and seems to immediately sag in the healer’s hold, looking shaky and more fragile than Jungkook has ever seen him (and that includes the first night they’d met, when the vampire had literally been blood-starved).

“Hyung?” Moonbin’s hand gently tugging on his wrist distracts him from his growing concern from Taehyung, and he turns back towards his roommate quickly. “You should eat something too.”

“Maybe later,” he declines softly. “I’m not all that hungry.”

Moonbin doesn’t look entirely pleased with his answer. “You gotta at least eat a snack or something. Yugi, tell him he has to.”

“Kook, you have to,” Yugyeom echoes obligingly, offering the kitten another sip of chocolate milk.

Jungkook rolls his eyes at their fussing. “Really, guys, I’m fine. I had a hot chocolate like half an hour ago-”

“Please?” Moonbin wheedles, and fuck, he’s using the eyes again. “For me? Look, they even bought M&Ms.”

Jungkook’s gaze flickers towards the mound of snacks piled high on the bedside table, a familiar blue packet immediately catching his eye.

Tae likes the crunchy M&Ms…

Yoongi’s words suddenly seem far less cryptic than they had over an hour ago, and he glances back over his shoulder towards the corner of the room, frowning a little to find the space empty, the vampires apparently having slipped out quietly while his attention was focused on Moonbin.

Damn.

Jungkook hesitates, torn between wanting to follow after them to check on Taehyung, and his instinctive need to stay near his injured kitten to protect him and care for him.

“Go,” Eunwoo urges quietly, licking his reddened lips clean as he sets the emptied blood pouch aside, shooting a worried look towards the door. “He’s probably gone down to one of the meditation gardens. Tae, he…hospitals aren’t really his thing.”

“Why?” Jungkook pries tentatively. “Did something happen?”

The model shakes his head apologetically. “Go after him,” he encourages. “It’s not my story to tell, but I think he’ll open up to you, if you ask him. Give him a hug from me, okay?”

Jungkook nods, reaching for the share-bag of crunchy M&Ms and stuffing them into the pocket of his leather jacket before leaning in to peck a soft kiss against Moonbin’s cheek. The werecat seems to be tiring again quickly, his eyelids starting to droop as he blinks slowly.

“I’ll be back soon,” he promises. “Be good. Don’t go breaking anything else while I’m gone.”

Moonbin’s lips curl up in a sleepy grin. “M’kay. Love you.”

Nodding to Eunwoo, Jungkook brushes a hand over the back of Yugyeom’s neck in a parting caress as he moves away from the bedside, heading out of the recovery suite and quietly shutting the door behind him.

He has absolutely no idea where he might be able to find these ‘meditation gardens’, but he’s hoping if he walks far enough he’ll stumble across a signpost or a hospital map that’ll give him some indication. Presumably it’ll be on the ground floor, so the first step is probably to find an elevator – Moonbin’s recovery suite is on the fifth floor, so he doesn’t really fancy taking the stairs all the way down.

Rounding the corner with a determined stride, he almost ploughs straight into Namjoon’s chest, the healer catching him carefully by the shoulders with a quiet noise of surprise and helping him regain his footing as he stumbles.

“You’re back,” Jungkook says dumbly, surprised by the vampire’s sudden appearance. He glances around the empty hallway, his brow creasing a little. “Where’s Tae-hyung?”

“He’s with Hobi and Jiminie,” the healer answers, fingers gently fixing the youth’s fringe just-so. “What’s wrong, sweetheart? Is Binnie alright?”

Jungkook nods, warmed by the vampire’s concern. If he wasn’t already in love with Namjoon before today, seeing the healer tenderly care for the injured werecat has thoroughly won him over. Binnie’s the second most important person in Jungkook’s life, and Namjoon had treated him with such warmth and kindness, he really can’t express how grateful he is.

“He’s fine,” Jungkook reassures. “I just…I was worried about Tae-hyung, he seemed kinda upset back there in Binnie’s room.”

Namjoon hums softly, expression falling a little. “Tae’s not the biggest fan of hospitals, he’s gonna need a little time away from the medical side of things. Although I’m sure he’d welcome your company.” The healer brushes the youth’s fringe back to drop a gentle kiss against the centre of Jungkook’s brow. “Turn left at the end of the corridor, and you’ll find the elevator straight ahead of you. TaeTae’s favourite garden is in Zone C on the ground floor.”

“Thank you,” Jungkook chirps, throwing his arms around Namjoon in a tight hug, hoping it conveys just how grateful he is for everything the healer’s done for him so far today. “You’re the best.”

Chuckling warmly, Namjoon rubs his back for a moment, returning the hug and showing no inclination to pull away until Jungkook is ready. Eventually the youth drops his arms and steps back again, feeling a blush rising in his cheeks to find himself graced by one of Namjoon’s dimpled smiles.

“Go on, sweetheart,” the healer encourages, squeezing his shoulder. “I’ll see you in a little while.”

With a tiny smile, Jungkook ducks away and hurries along the corridor, heart feeling ten times lighter. There’s something about being cuddled by the Kim coven that just makes him feel so content, even when there are other concerns weighing on his mind. It’s hard to truly feel stressed about anything when they’re doting on him so much.

Aigoo, he hopes that sentiment still holds true when exam season comes around.

As he turns left at the end of the corridor, he spots a figure lingering outside the elevators a little ways ahead of him, and it only takes a moment to place the familiar hair colour and jacket.

“Yoongi-hyung?”

The vampire turns, flashing him a calm smile. “Hey, doll. Oh, you remembered the M&Ms, good job.”

The Seer leans over to hit the downwards arrow on the elevator controls, although Jungkook can see by the digital panel above the closed doors that the car is already ascending from the ground floor.

He glances at the large towel tucked under Yoongi’s arm and feels his brow crinkle in confusion. The Seer catches his eye, lips curling wider in gentle amusement.

“It’s still bucketing it down out there,” Yoongi explains, unfurling the towel and shaking it out. “Poor love’s soaked to the bone.”

Jungkook opens his mouth to voice the befuddled “who?” that’s on the tip of his tongue, but the elevator doors open at that very moment and a familiar floppy-eared figure rushes out, wet shoes squeaking against the floor as he skids to avoid colliding with the two of them.

“Sanha?” Jungkook reacts in surprise, immediately reaching for the bedraggled-looking bunny hybrid. The younger boy is absolutely drenched, his pale pink hair plastered against his head, velvety ears dripping.

The youth’s eyes widen. “Hyung! Have you seen Binnie-hyung? Is he okay? I tried calling Eunwoo-hyung but my phone died, is he out of surgery yet?”

“He’s okay, he’s awake, he’s gonna be just fine,” Jungkook is quick to soothe, adjusting his grip on Sanha as Yoongi steps forward to wrap the large towel around the bunny’s shivering frame. He rubs Sanha’s arms through the soft material, worried by the kid’s chattering teeth. “Aigoo, you’re freezing. Didn’t JinJin-hyung park close enough to the hospital?”

Sanha shakes his head, burrowing a little into Jungkook’s embrace, clearly needing the physical contact. “D-dunno. I was still at work when hyung called me about the accident. I got a taxi from Euphoria, but there was a truck turned over on the dual carriageway, all the roads were gridlocked. So I ditched the cab just past the dance school and made my own way here.”

Jungkook pushes the bunny back a couple of inches. “On foot?” he asks incredulously. “The dance academy’s almost two miles away, Sanha. Aigoo, no wonder you’re half-drowned.” He pulls the rabbit back into a tighter hug, rubbing harder to try and warm him up. “Why didn’t you just wait in the cab?”

“Binnie-hyung was hurt,” Sanha answers plaintively, and Jungkook can’t really argue with that, because in the bunny’s shoes he probably would’ve done exactly the same thing.

“Could…could you maybe not tell JinJin-hyung?” the younger hybrid hedges, tentatively hopeful. “He’s got enough to worry about, and he doesn’t like me being out on my own after dark.”

Jungkook smiles fondly. “Your secret’s safe with hyung. Now c’mon, we need to get you into some dry clothes.”

“I’m sure Joonie can hunt down a spare set of scrubs,” Yoongi reasons, stepping closer to fix the newcomer with a friendly smile. “Sanha, right? I’m Yoongi-hyung. Why don’t you come with me and we’ll go find Eunwoo and Moonbinnie?”

Sanha nods keenly, slipping out of Jungkook’s hold. “Yes please.”

Wrapping an arm around the youth’s shoulders, Yoongi shifts his attention back towards Jungkook briefly, his smile softening.

“Take a right turn on the ground floor,” he instructs. “Head through the blue double doors into Zone C, and follow the green line along the wall until you reach the garden.”

Jungkook nods gratefully, sparing one last glance for the bunny who seems quite content to be tucked up against Yoongi’s side. Sanha’s always been so sweetly trusting – one of the many reasons why he and Moonbin are so protective of the youth – and although he’s keen to find Taehyung, he doesn’t want to abandon his dongsaeng either.

Sanha notices his gaze and offers him a small but genuine smile, and that’s enough to convince Jungkook to finally step into the elevator. He trusts Yoongi to take care of Sanha the same way he trusts Namjoon to take care of Moonbin. And although there are a few niggling worries at the back of his mind (those protective instincts are still there, albeit placated somewhat by the knowledge that his new hyungs have everything in hand), he’s able to set his fears aside for the time being and turn his thoughts towards Taehyung.

He just hopes the crunchy M&Ms live up to all the hype.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

.

 

He finds Taehyung on a bench beneath a flowering cherry tree, tucked up against Hoseok’s side as the empath combs gentle fingers through his hair. There’s a fluffy ball of chestnut-brown fur curled up in the fledgling vampire’s lap, and Jungkook recognises the mass of fluff as Chim when the tiny pooch’s head comes up to track his approach.

The meditation garden is so quiet and peaceful that Jungkook’s footsteps on the winding pavestone path sound far too loud and intrusive. He slows his pace a little, trying his best to soften his tread as he crosses the small bridge over the koi pond, wincing when the wooden boards still creak beneath his weight.

Regardless, Taehyung doesn’t seem to notice his presence, the vampire’s gaze fixed somewhere in the middle-distance as he absently pets Chim’s fur.

Jungkook hesitates when he reaches the foot of the bridge, feeling like he’s intruding on something private despite Namjoon and Yoongi’s earlier encouragement, but that uncertainty dissipates a moment later when he sees Chim’s tiny bauble of a tail start to wag happily. At the motion, Hoseok glances up from Taehyung to send Jungkook a welcoming smile, beckoning the youth closer.

“Sweetheart,” the empath murmurs, nudging Tae gently. “It’s Kookie.”

The younger vampire finally stirs at that, shifting in Hoseok’s arms and lifting his head from the dancer’s chest.

“Kookie?” Taehyung echoes, sitting up from his slumped position and blinking rapidly as his gaze refocuses on his youngest bondmate. His eyes are glossy and red-rimmed, and Tae surreptitiously swipes at them with the sleeve of his jacket, offering Jungkook a strained smile. “Hey. Sorry for bailing on you like that, I kinda just needed a minute to clear my head. But I’m totally fine now, you wanna head upstairs-”

“Tae,” Hoseok interrupts softly, arm sliding from around the fledgling so that he can stroke the back of Taehyung’s neck. “You’re not ready. Don’t push yourself, baby.”

“It’s about to get super crowded up there anyways,” Jungkook discloses, moving to perch on the bench beside the trio and smiling as Chim scoots to the edge of Taeyung’s lap to nuzzle the back of his hand in greeting. “JinJin-hyung’s gonna be here soon with the rest of the guys, and I doubt the Im-pack are gonna sit and wait much longer ‘cause they’re all itching to see Binnie. Everyone’s emotions are gonna be running high, and it’ll just be a lot, you know? Kinda needed a little break myself.”

Well, that’s not entirely true. While having two packs and the coven all there at the same time definitely has the potential to become overwhelming, it isn’t really something that’ll phase him much. As far as Jungkook’s concerned, when it comes to pack-cuddles, the more the merrier; he has absolutely no qualms about being squashed in on all sides by people who care about him and Binnie.

But Tae doesn’t need to know that; he just figured the vampire might be more willing to stay here and rest a little while longer if he thought it was for Jungkook’s benefit.

And the little white lie seems to work – Tae’s expression immediately softens in concern and understanding as he pulls himself away from Hoseok’s hold to wrap his arms around Jungkook instead.

“The past couple of hours have been pretty rough, huh?” Tae sympathises, smushing his face against Jungkook’s shoulder with a quiet sigh.

“Mm,” the youth agrees, closing his eyes as he returns the tight embrace, his residual worry for Taehyung finally abating when all he senses from the vampire along their growing bond is love and warmth.

He feels a gentle touch to his head, and opens his eyes again to see Hoseok standing over him, smiling down at Jungkook with a look of gratitude as he smooths the youth’s fringe back from his forehead. The empath leans down to brush a chaste peck against his brow, and Jungkook recognises the silent gesture of thanks for what it is, returning the elder’s smile shyly. Hoseok’s fingers trail down the side of his face to linger on his cheek for a moment, the dancer regarding him with a tenderness that fills Jungkook’s stomach with pleasant warmth. After another beat, Hoseok leans in again to press a chaste kiss to the tip of Jungkook’s nose, before pulling away to scoop up Chim from Taehyung’s lap, cradling the tiny pooch against his chest and using one fluffy paw to give Jungkook an adorable wave goodbye. Chim immediately swivels his head around to give the elder vampire a very cute frown, but Hoseok just grins and kisses his tiny snout, heading back across the wooden bridge and along the winding pavestone path towards the exit.

Once the pair is out of sight, Jungkook relaxes further into Taehyung’s hold, allowing the comfortable silence to linger on a few more minutes. It’s super nice, especially after the chaos of the past few hours; the fear, the guilt, the grief and anger – the tranquillity of the garden allows him to finally let go of it all.

Perhaps sensing that shift in him, Taehyung breathes a happier-sounding sigh into his shoulder, nuzzling against him a little.

“Has anyone ever told you how amazing your hugs are?” the vampire murmurs. “Because dude, top-quality cuddle right here.” Taehyung turns his head to press a kiss to the side of Jungkook’s neck. “Thanks for coming to find me, Kook.”

The younger man smiles, the warmth in his chest spilling into his cheeks.

“I’m just really glad you’re here,” Jungkook returns softly, hugging the vampire a little tighter. “Seriously. I would’ve been such a fucking mess without you and the other hyungs. Binnie…he really means the world to me, and I hate seeing him injured like this, but at least with you guys here I know he’s safe. Namjoon-hyung won’t let anything bad happen to him, and Jin-hyung’s already gone after the driver to make sure he doesn’t get away with it. I know you guys kinda came here because of Eunwoo, but you’ve all done so much for Binnie too. I just…I can’t thank you enough for that.”

Taehyung pulls away just enough to cup Jungkook’s face between his hands, smiling at him warmly. The vampire’s eyes have lost their post-crying puffiness, and Tae looks far more like his usual carefree self as he leans in to kiss Jungkook gently. The younger man melts into the contact with a sigh, fingers curling loosely in the fabric of Taehyung’s jacket as he reciprocates. Much like the hug, the kiss is gentle and comforting, lacking the fire and passion they’d shared earlier that day in Namjoon’s glasshouse, and it’s exactly what Jungkook needs right now.

Eventually his somewhat-askew position on the bench starts giving him backache, and he’s forced to adjust his posture to something a little more comfortable. The resultant rustle of M&Ms in his pocket reminds him of the initial purpose of his visit, and Jungkook leans back from the kiss to pull out the snack.

“Oh, I forgot…here,” he says, offering Taehyung the share-bag with a smile. “I thought you might be hungry.”

The vampire stares at the proffered treats for a long moment, the light in his eyes slowly dimming as an odd sort of expression takes over his features.

“They’re your favourite…right?” Jungkook hedges, suddenly unsure of himself.

“Yeah. Thanks.” Slowly, Taehyung reaches out to take them, a ghost of smile flickering at his lips without reaching his eyes. He turns the bag over in his hands, staring at it for another long beat before glancing back up towards Jungkook with a more genuine, albeit wry smile. “Let me guess…Yoongi-hyung told you to bring them?”

Jungkook nods hesitantly. “Kinda. Should he not have? Did you want a different snack?”

Taehyung finally breathes a quiet laugh at that, shaking his head and leaning in to brush another kiss against Jungkook’s lips

“No, they’re perfect, thank you,” the vampire promises. “I’d eat my own weight in M&Ms if Jin-hyung let me. He’s got a secret stash somewhere for Bad Days, but I’ve never been able to find it. Knowing hyung, he’s probably hidden it inside a bubble universe or something.”

Before Jungkook can overthink that entirely plausible theory (because if Seokjin can appear inside his apartment in the blink of an eye, it’s not completely outrageous to suggest that he has access to a different plain of reality the way that Fae folk do), he’s distracted by Taehyung tearing the bag open and tipping his head bag to pour a bunch of the M&M’s directly into his mouth. Honestly, it’s a miracle he doesn’t choke. Cheeks bulging, the vampire passes the bag over to Jungkook without comment, and the younger man carefully tips a small handful into his palm because he isn’t a total heathen.

They munch in silence for a moment, Taehyung eventually reaching for the bag again but only taking out a single M&M this time, turning it over between his fingertips almost contemplatively as he finishes swallowing his first mouthful.

“Jiminie used to bring me a bag of these every day,” the vampire comments quietly, another smile ghosting briefly at his lips. “I never really liked chocolate all that much before I got sick, but after my surgery, I didn’t really have an appetite for anything except snacks.”

Jungkook waits patiently when Taehyung falls silent again, unwilling to say anything that might derail the current train of conversation, even though he’s insatiably curious. If Tae’s choosing to confide in him about his past, about the potential trauma that’s clearly resulted in some sort of hospital-related anxiety, the least he can do is keep quiet and try not to ask any probing questions.

The vampire pops the M&M into his mouth, chewing as he draws his knees up closer to his chest, feet braced on the edge of the bench. Taehyung’s eyes have that faraway look again, his expression now shifting to a weary sort of melancholy that Jungkook’s never seen on him before.

“I used to get these headaches,” Taehyung confesses after a long pause, arms wrapped around his knees. “They started just before I turned eighteen, not long after I’d met Jiminie. My parents were going through a rough patch before the divorce, and they both thought the headaches were stress-related, so they’d sent me to live with my grandmother for a little while in the next village over. The commute to school took a little longer, but it kept me away from all the family drama back home, so I didn’t mind it so much. Plus Grammy lived next door to the Park family,  and they were all so nice – naturally, Jiminie and I hit it off right away. He attended the local Night School, but we would always hang out together during the afternoon under the shade of Grammy’s tree grove. We were best friends by the end of the first week, and bondmates by the end of the summer, so we both made a pact to graduate from school with good grades so that we could move to Seoul together and pursue our dream careers.”

The vampire’s smile softens to something fond at the memory. “We had our entire futures planned out, right from day one. He was gonna become the greatest choreographer the world had ever seen, and I was gonna make a name for myself as a fashion photographer – we’d be married by twenty-five, maybe a couple of kids by thirty, the whole shebang. Back then, I was so focused on that future that I didn’t really stop to think about my infrequent but persistent headaches, and what they might mean. I was stupid; ignored a lot of early warning signs because I thought it was just a temporary thing, kept all the newer developing symptoms a secret because I didn’t want anyone telling me to slow down. I convinced myself the headaches were just a side-effect of studying too hard and worrying about my parents – I even managed to persuade Jiminie that they weren’t a chronic thing. I was fully human back then, and since Minnie is only half-vampire, our transference bond wasn’t quite as strong as it is now that I’m reborn. The migraines didn’t start until much later, so the little headaches were easy enough to hide once we started living together. I figured they’d just go away on their own eventually.”

Jungkook already has a horrible feeling where this might be going, but he tries not to give into that knot of fear threatening to form in his gut. Sitting this close to Taehyung, he knows there’s a chance the vampire might be able to sense his emotions, and he doesn’t want to react in a way that might dissuade Tae from opening up further.

The pregnant pause lasts a minute longer this time, and eventually Jungkook offers Taehyung the bag of M&Ms again.

“But the headache’s didn’t stop?” he hedges quietly.

Taehyung shakes his head, taking another chocolate but this time leaning across to feed it to Jungkook.

“Those first six months in Seoul were hectic,” the vampire admits. “We rented an apartment in the city, close enough that we could both commute to school, but I’d decided to take up part-time modelling on top of my photography degree, and Jiminie had opted for night classes at the dance academy, so we hardly ever got to see each other. My headaches were becoming more frequent. I’d get this weird tingling sensation in my hands sometimes, kinda like when your foot goes to sleep? And I’d started having these awful nosebleeds that’d come on out of nowhere and took forever to stop. I should’ve gone to see a doctor that second semester, but I guess I was too focused on my studies, and I didn’t want Jiminie to think it was anything worth worrying about. So I told him the nosebleeds were just allergies, and dosed myself up on over-the-counter painkillers to get rid of the headaches. The meds worked pretty well, and I didn’t really think twice about popping pills every morning if it meant getting through another busy day pain-free.”

It makes sense now, why Tae and the other hyungs had taken Jungkook’s chronic exhaustion and migraines so seriously right from the get-go. He’d thought it was just the coven being worry-warts, but if this was something they’d seen before with Tae, something that had actually turned out to be an underlying health issue…no wonder they’d all been so fretful. Namjoon’s careful examinations and firm insistence that he rest seems even more meaningful now. 

Taehyung feeds Jungkook another M&M. “And then we met Hobi-hyung during Spring break,” the vampire continues, taking a chocolate for himself. “Jiminie had volunteered to help out at this charity dance workshop thing that hyung was organising, and of course the two of them clicked right away. Jiminie knew I was open to extending our bond, and he could tell that Hoseokie-hyung was the perfect match for us both, so we decided to go on a date together.”

The vampire’s smile is full of remembered warmth.

“It took me all of five minutes to fall head over heels in love with him…well, you know how sweet he is, how could I not? Anyway, he started courting us properly after that. Hobi-hyung was always super upfront about being part of a bonded nest, and he was really keen to introduce us to the rest of his mates; he made the coven sound so amazing, I couldn’t wait to meet them.”

Taehyung tips his head back with a sigh, staring up at the cherry blossoms that hang above their bench.

“My schedule got crazy busy after that, so Jiminie got to meet the other hyungs first,” he admits. “It ended up being a few weeks until I finally managed to free up an evening to have dinner with them. By this point I wasn’t sleeping well, and the pain meds weren’t really dulling the headaches effectively anymore, but being in love made it easy to overlook all the warning signs. I was so excited to meet the coven. The way Jiminie had gushed about all the hyungs, I just knew it was meant to be.”

The vampire breathes a self-deprecating laugh, shaking his head.

“It took Namjoon-hyung less than a minute to realise I was sick,” Tae admits wryly. “Apparently Jiminie had already voiced his concerns about me losing weight and looking so tired all the time, and I guess Yoongi-hyung had warned him that something might be wrong with me that day, so Joon-hyung was already on the lookout for any tell-tale signs before I’d even said hello. He didn’t make a big thing of it, just quietly took me aside before dinner and asked if he could help relieve my headache. I didn’t think twice before saying yes – he was so big and gentle and nice, I probably would’ve agreed to just about anything. But when he reached out to touch my temple…" The vampire gives a barely perceptible shudder. "I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. It made me feel sick to my stomach.”

Sucking in a slow, steadying breath, Taehyung ploughs on, “Everything kinda happened in a blur after that. The drive to hospital, getting wired up to what felt like a hundred different machines, the whole battery of tests the doctors ran that first night. I hated the CT-scan, but the MRI was just ten kinds of hell. I get claustrophobic in tight spaces, you know? And it’s so fucking noisy in there. The hyungs sat with me all night while the medical team worked, but nobody would tell me anything, not even Joonie-hyung…he kept saying it was too soon to make a diagnoses, telling me he had to wait on the imaging results, but I knew it couldn’t be good news. Hobi-hyung and Jiminie both looked so upset, even though I could tell they were trying their best to hide it. And that probably scared me more than anything else.”

The vampire tosses back a handful of M&Ms, chewing and swallowing slowly before he reaches behind Jungkook’s head without looking to gently tap the base of the youth’s skull.

“I had a two-inch tumour sitting right here,” Taehyung divulges flatly. “The bastard had probably been growing there for well over a year by that point, maybe even before I started getting those headaches in high school. The intermittent numbness and tingling in my hands was actually a symptom of nerve damage caused by the pressure of the tumour against my spinal cord. The nosebleeds were a sign that my blood pressure would sometimes spike dangerously high because of the fluid build-up around the tumour. Basically, I was a month or two shy of irreversible brain and spinal damage.”

Jungkook had been expecting something awful, but holy fuck, the revelation still hits him like a freight train to the gut. Modern medicine and powerful healing practices have advanced to a point where chronic illnesses and debilitating injuries are almost a thing of the past, but he knows the brain is one of those tricky organs that sometimes can’t be mended by any means. Magic can’t rewire neurons any more than medicine can regenerate damaged brain cells; Jungkook’s father had told him that a week after his grandfather had passed away from a stroke, and it’s stuck with him ever since. Brains are fucking delicate.

“There was no way to tell if it was cancerous or benign without a biopsy,” Tae continues, fingers now playing with the short hairs at the base of Jungkook’s skull. “But the size and location of the tumour was enough to put me at serious risk of a brain haemorrhage, or permanent nerve damage if it continued to grow, so the neurology team felt it was in my best interest to have it surgically removed as soon as possible.” He grimaces faintly. “That first week as an inpatient was just horrible; at the start I guess I was still kinda numb with shock, but after that wore off and the implications of undergoing brain surgery really began to sink in, I felt like a prisoner in that ward. There were dozens of tests, and so many doctors, and I hated being stuck in bed all day. I was still a human and didn’t have a pack dependency, so the staff wouldn’t let Jiminie stay with me overnight after visiting time was over, which meant I didn’t sleep for days; all I could think about was the tumour in my head that was slowly trying to kill me, and I’d lie awake for hours listening to the cardiac monitors alarming from other patients’ rooms, wondering if they’d make it through the night. I hated it. I hated being there, and I hated those awful monitors.”

Taehyung’s voice catches, and Jungkook shifts closer instinctively, arm curling around the vampire’s tense shoulders. His bondmate keeps his knees tucked up to his chest even as he leans into the younger man’s sideways-cuddle, swiping at his eyes again as he heaves a ragged breath.

“They couldn’t remove the whole tumour without cutting into my brain,” Taehyung murmurs. “That's why they spent so long planning the procedure and consulting with specialists. It took almost twelve hours, but they got most of it out, so in the end the surgery was a success. I had a pretty long road to recovery ahead of me, and Namjoon-hyung knew I couldn’t stand being in hospital, so once I was out of intensive care he signed my discharge papers three weeks ahead of schedule and set up a recovery suite back at the nest where he and the hyungs could look after me instead. I was so fucking relieved to be out of there, I think that was the first time I’d actually cried since my diagnosis.”

Then his lips twitch up in a more genuine smile. “Joonie-hyung stayed home with me around the clock those first few weeks. The meds made me feel pretty fuzzy, but his voice was soothing, so he’d read to me for hours on end to help me sleep. When I was able to keep my eyes open for longer periods, we started binge-watching Disney and Studio Ghibli, anything animated and easy to follow, and he let me eat all the M&Ms I wanted. I still needed help to walk and had to take showers sitting down, but I could feel my strength returning a little more with each passing day, and my appetite was gradually starting to come back thanks to Jin-hyung’s cooking. I swear he made me a three-course menu for every meal, so even on the days when I was feeling pretty nauseous, something always tempted me. I'd lost a lot of weight, but after a month of eating hyung's food, I was looking more like my old self again. It was hard to say no to second helpings once my appetite came back.”

Jungkook can definitely understand the sentiment. He’d probably have to be comatose to turn down Seokjin’s cooking, it’s that good.

“I had a follow-up MRI scan about three months after my surgery,” Taehyung continues, tucking his hands inside the sleeves of his sweater and hugging his knees closer. “I was basically fully recovered by that point, so it was just gonna be a routine check-up to make sure everything was okay before I resumed normal life. I’d even started making plans to take summer classes so that I could catch up on the semester I’d missed and rejoin my photography cohort after the break.”

The vampire huffs a humourless laugh.

“Guess I kinda jinxed myself, being so optimistic.” His gaze finally flickers over to meet Jungkook’s, flashing him a faint, wan smile. “The scan showed that another tumour had started growing from the stem the surgeons had left in. They said it was still tiny, smaller than a pea, so the symptoms hadn’t started showing yet, but it had regrown that much in only three months, which meant given time it had the potential to swell to the size of the previous one. And that…the thought of going through the whole surgical process again, it fucking terrified me. Especially since there was apparently no guarantee that the tumour wouldn’t just grow back a third time. My whole world felt like it was shattering around me.”

Taehyung reaches up to touch the side of his own throat, just below his jawline. “Namjoonie-hyung and Jin-hyung offered me the Bite that same day. Jiminie and I were already a part of the coven by this point, and the hyungs were even more devastated by the MRI results than I was. It had even come as a surprise to Yoongi-hyung; he said he’d been looking too far ahead, where everything was okay, and hadn’t thought to focus on my checkup date. Anyway, none of the hyungs wanted to see me suffering through another three months of medical recovery, and Jiminie knew I’d hate every minute of being an inpatient again. So I could tell they were keen for me to avoid all that by being reborn. Jin-hyung told me to think it over for a couple of days before I made up my mind about the Bite, but to be honest, it wasn’t a difficult decision. I loved them with all my heart even then, and I knew I wanted to stay with them forever. So of course I said yes.”

The vampire’s smile is more genuine now, the light returning to his eyes, and Jungkook finds relief in the sight of it, leaning in to kiss Taehyung’s temple.

“And everything was okay after that?” he probes, because he desperately needs to make sure that Tae isn’t at risk of a relapse or something. The thought that the vampire could’ve died if not for Namjoon’s quick diagnosis is fucking chilling.

“Things were…different,” Taehyung admits hesitantly. “Being reborn isn’t a walk in the park. It was a huge transition, both mentally and physically, and there were days when I felt as rough as I had done after my surgery. But the Bite saved my life, no question about it. And I had the chance to discover what a real bond feels like, something I never could've known if I'd stayed fully human.”

Tae’s hand moves around to rub the back of his own neck. “The tumour’s still there,” he admits softly. “It’s barely the size of a pea, but…it’ll never go away. A second surgery carries its own risks, even as a vampire, and the doctors were worried about vascular scarring if they went in to remove it; they decided it was safer to just leave it be, since it won’t ever grow any bigger now that I have vampire physiology. But it’s still there, you know? I guess that’s why I still kinda freak out over little headaches, even when there’s a reasonable explanation. A part of me is always going to assume the worst-case scenario. And I don’t think I’m ever going to be totally comfortable around hospitals. There's just...too many bad memories connected with this place.”

Jungkook leans in again, this time to rest his head against Taehyung’s shoulder, now a hundred times more grateful for the vampire’s miraculous existence.

“We don’t have to go back upstairs,” he murmurs sincerely. “Not if it makes you uncomfortable. We can stay here as long as you need to.”

Taehyung breathes another quiet laugh, arm wrapping around Jungkook as he drops a kiss against his hair.

“I’ll be alright,” the vampire promises. “I honestly hadn’t expected the cardiac alarms to set me off like that – hearing them after all this time just brought it all rushing back to me, I needed to clear my head. I’m sorry if I kinda dumped a ton of emotional baggage on you there.”

"What? No, not at all." Jungkook shakes his head quickly. “I’m really glad you told me, hyung. I wanna be here for you if you need me.”

Taehyung makes a soft noise in the back of his throat and hugs the younger man tighter against him.

“I don’t deserve someone as sweet as you,” the vampire sighs happily, rubbing his cheek against Jungkook’s hair. “But I’m gonna keep you anyway.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time they return to Moonbin’s recovery suite, the expected chaos of two packs and one coven combined has receded a little, at least in terms of decibels. The room actually seems relatively peaceful, even if it no longer feels spacious with so many people packed into it.

Not to mention all the flowers that seem to have sprung up out of nowhere.

“Kookie-hyung!” Moonbin croaks, looking rather sleepy but very happy from where he’s cuddled up in bed between Jaebum and Park Jinwoo, a colourfully woven flower-crown perched carefully on his head. “Look at all the flowers, aren’t they beautiful?”

They certainly are. There doesn’t seem to be a single inch of space that isn’t hosting some sort of flowering leafy plant, the petals gleaming in pinks and blues and yellows and reds in a dozen different vibrant shades. In fact, the only part of the room that isn’t obscured by plant life is the medical equipment adjacent to the bed, the flowering vines stopping just short of the drip stand and cardiac monitor that Binnie is still hooked up to.

“Wow, looks like MJ-hyung’s been busy while I was gone,” Jungkook remarks with a smile as he heads over to the bedside, letting go of Taehyung’s hand as Jaebum rises to pull him into a quick hug, thereby freeing up the space next to Moonbin for him.

“It smells so much nicer in here now,” Binnie enthuses, only wincing a little as he reaches for Jungkook, who quickly slips into JB’s vacated spot to offer his roommate a gentle hug. “It’s like being in the woods.”

Which, realistically, was probably Myungjun’s intention. As a woodland Fae, MJ has a particular skill when it comes to making things grow, and while Jungkook had heard about MJ’s passion for flowers in particular (the Fae owns his own flower shop here in the city), he’s still really fucking impressed by how quickly the elder has managed to grow an actual garden in his absence. He and Taehyung can’t have been gone longer than an hour or so, but the recovery suite is already looking like a veritable Eden.

“It’s still the full moon for another twelve hours, kitten,” JinJin reminds him from the werecat’s other side, where he’s carefully cutting up a peach into tiny bitesize pieces. “Hyung knew you’d get restless stuck inside like this, so he brought the forest to you.”

Moonbin opens his mouth to accept a bite of peach and smiles contentedly, tilting his head to rest it against Jungkook’s shoulder with a happy sigh.

“Where is MJ-hyung?” Jungkook asks, after a quick glance around the room reveals the absence of the small but lively Fae.

“He went to get more flowers,” Jackson responds wryly from the cosy-looking cuddle-pile he’s formed with Rocky and the rest of the Im-pack over by the couch. “Y’know, because we don’t have enough of those already.”

Jinyoung thwacks the younger wolf’s shoulder gently to get him to stop moving, busy threading delicate pink blossoms through the blue flower crown perched on Jackson’s dark hair.

“You can never have too many flowers,” Sanha pipes up loyally, lifting his head from Eunwoo shoulder where he’s squashed snugly between the vampire and Hoseok on the couch, Chim now snoozing quietly in the empath’s lap. “They make the world a better place.”

Eunwoo smiles at the bunny hybrid tenderly and guides his head back down again. The vampire is looking very much like his old self now that his packmates are here, all signs of tension and stress gone without a trace. Namjoon is perched on the arm of the couch beside him, fingers slowly combing through the younger vampire’s hair, surveying the room with warm eyes.

“It’s getting late,” the healer says after a few minutes, sounding apologetic. “And while I’d be more than happy for you all to stay, unfortunately the hospital has a strict policy about overnight visitors, even for the premier suites. I’m afraid it’s pack-only.”

Yugyeom lifts his head from BamBam’s lap, sitting up quickly with a soft, aggrieved whine. “But hyung-”

“Binnie needs his rest, pup,” Jaebum reasons gently, crossing over to crouch down in front of his youngest cub as Youngjae and BamBam both curl around the pouting maknae from either side. “You can come back and see him tomorrow before school. We’ll drop off some breakfast for everyone, okay?”

“Breakfast bagel?” Moonbin asks hopefully, interest piqued as it ever is when the subject of food is brought up.

Jinyoung laughs, resting his chin on Jackson’s shoulder as he smiles over towards the bed at the werecat. “Sure, kitten, whatever you like. Chocolate milk and cream puff bread, too?”

“Yaaaas,” Moonbin crows, albeit sleepily. “You’re the best, hyung.”

Yugyeom reluctantly lets Jaebum help him up from the nest of pilfered pillows and hospital bedding, splinted wrist cradled carefully against his chest. He crosses to the bedside and leans over Jungkook to give Moonbin a gentle one-armed hug goodbye.

“I’ll download some movies for you to watch while you’re recovering,” the werewolf promises, nuzzling the cat's uninjured cheek. “I’ll see if I can find a copy of that new Terminator movie,” Yugyeom’s gaze flickers for a brief moment towards JinJin. “…the one that definitely came out on DVD already.”

Jungkook bites back an exasperated sigh at his friend’s lack of subtlety. Yugyeom might as well have just announced to all the hyungs that they frequently watch pirated movies online.

Thankfully JinJin doesn’t seem to be paying attention, the dog hybrid busy peeling Moonbin another peach, 

“Stay out of trouble, dude,” BamBam pipes up, as he and Youngjae nudge Yugyeom out of the way to bestow their own goodbye nuzzles.

“Yeah, you gotta be more careful,” Youngjae agrees teasingly, “or you'll turn JB-hyung even more grey than he already is.”

“Ooooh,” Yugyeom crows, grinning over at the Alpha in delight.

Jaebum arches an eyebrow, pulling away from the double-hug he’s giving Rocky and Sanha to glance back towards his trio of maknaes.

“Would you care to repeat that?”

Yugyeom ducks down to press a quick kiss to Jungkook’s cheek. “Love you, gotta go, bye!”

Youngjae and BamBam linger a microsecond longer, just long enough to ruffle Jungkook’s hair beyond redemption, before following after Yugyeom and beating a hasty retreat. Jungkook shakes his head as he watches them go, although his attention quickly drifts to the figures standing near the door, his grin softening into a relieved smile when he sees Taehyung laughing at the Im-pack’s antics. The vampire’s leaning back against Yoongi's chest, the elder’s arms wrapped around his waist snugly, the Seer wearing a contented smile as he rests his chin on Tae’s shoulder.

As Jungkook watches, Yoongi’s gaze flickers towards him almost knowingly, perhaps having sensed his focus, and there’s something in the vampire’s expression that warms Jungkook right to the bone. Maybe it’s just a figment of his imagination, but the Seer almost looks proud of him.

“Kookie,” Jaebum calls suddenly, diverting his attention. The Alpha is beckoning him closer with a warm smile, and Jungkook gives Moonbin a gentle squeeze before retracting his arm from around his roommate’s shoulder to slip from his perch on the bed, allowing Jinyoung and Jackson to come and say their own goodbyes to the werecat.

Jaebum reaches out to pull him into another gentle hug when he draws near enough, and Jungkook burrows into it with a happy sigh. After several hours of cuddling with doting hyungs, he’s feeling very tactile right now, and JB’s hugs are always so comforting.

“Would you like to sleep at the Den tonight?” Jaebum asks, warm hand stroking over the back of his neck. “I don’t like the thought of you staying in that apartment all on your own.”

Jungkook smiles at the Alpha’s protectiveness, but shakes his head all the same. “I’ll be okay, hyung,” he promises. “It's only for tonight, and I need to pick up some stuff for Binnie anyway.”

Besides, he isn’t anywhere near ready to leave the werecat’s side just yet. He knows he can’t stay the night (which is dumb, because what if Binnie needs him?) but he feels compelled to stay here as long as he can. That ball of fretful worry has already returned to his stomach just at the thought of leaving.

“Are you sure?” Jaebum pulls back to frame his face, thumbs caressing his cheeks as he searches Jungkook’s face, protective Alpha-instincts clearly in full swing. “It’s been a rough evening, cub. You might need someone to talk to.”

“Your Alpha’s right, Kookie,” Namjoon interjects calmly, appearing at Jaebum’s shoulder. He passes a gentle hand over Jungkook’s hair. “You shouldn’t be on your own tonight. Sometimes it can take a few hours for the shock of it all to wear off, and you don't want to be alone when that happens."

Oh, that’s not fair. He’s not strong enough to stand up to both of them being all worried and hyung-ish like this. Jungkook can already feel his confidence beginning to waver.

“But…but Binnie,” he protests quietly, glancing over to where his roommate is giggling as Rocky and Sanha slide flower stems between his toes where they poke out of his bandaged and splinted broken leg.

“We’ll come and see Moonbinnie first thing tomorrow morning,” Jaebum promises, still using that deep, lilting tone of his that makes Jungkook really want to agree with whatever he says. “You know you can’t stay here, bun. The hospital has visitation rules, and it’s pack-only.”

“But I’m pack,” Jungkook insists, startled by the wave of emotion that suddenly hits him, his eyes stinging wetly. “He was mine first.”

Both Namjoon and Jaebum blink in surprise at the vehemence in his voice, and Jungkook feels heat flood his cheeks, quickly ducking his gaze. Fuck, he hadn’t meant to say that. Even if he feels that way about his bond with Binnie, it sounds so fucking childish to voice it out loud.

"Cub..." his Alpha murmurs, clearly concerned. 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” a new voice pipes up. “Of course Kookie’s staying, Binnie needs him.”

Jungkook lifts his blurry gaze from the floor to see Myungjun quite literally skipping back into the room, two satchels bulging with plants slung over his shoulders. He blows a kiss towards his packmates where they’re currently crowded around Moonbin’s bed, drops the bags unceremoniously to the floor and then neatly ducks between Jaebum and Jungkook with the lithe grace of his ethereal species, wrapping both arms around the youth in a friendly cuddle.

The Fae is significantly shorter than Jungkook, but the hug still feels comforting. MJ's energy and enthusiasm by far make up for what he lacks in height. 

“Yah, you missed the flower-crown party,” the botanist laments, and heaves a dramatic sigh. “You and Binnie need to match, since you're family. Buttercup, tell Kookie he isn’t allowed to leave, we need him.”

JinJin smiles at his mate indulgently before shifting his focus to Jungkook to offer him an apologetic grin. “Sorry, bun, it looks like you’re stuck with us for the night."

Jungkook manages a tremulous smile, relieved by their easy acceptance of his need to stay close by, but he's still feeling a little stupid for being so unreasonably emotional. He knows it’s dumb to be fretful about leaving Moonbin when the werecat is clearly stable and comfortable, but he can’t help it – the hybrid part of him is quite literally screaming in protest at the prospect of abandoning his kitten, and even though Jungkook considers himself to be mostly human, there are some instincts that are just too intrinsically tied into his emotional core. If he leaves Binnie now he’ll lie awake all night worrying about the werecat, no matter how many hyungs are there to comfort him.

“Family-pack counts as pack,” Taehyung voices, stepping up behind Namjoon to hug the healer from behind, sending Jungkook a confident smile of solidarity. “The hospital can’t argue with that, right hyung?”

Namjoon’s fingers cluck Jungkook beneath the chin, his expression reassuring. “Of course not, sweetheart. I'll make sure they know that Kookie can stay.”

Oh, thank fuck.

“Yah, Jungkookie!” MJ hollers, having moved to perch on the bottom rail of Moonbin’s bed, offering stylistic input to the bouquet that Sanha and Rocky are assembling in Binnie’s bandaged foot. “Come sit for me, bunny boy, I gotta make you look like a queen.”

Jungkook laughs, ducking forward to give Namjoon and JB a quick hug and kiss Tae in thanks, before hurrying to join JinJin’s pack, his heart feeling a thousand times lighter than it has all evening.

 

 

 


 

Astro's Moonbin is sadly still on hiatus while his health recovers, but he absolutely SLAYED in the MV for Astro's latest comeback, 'Blue Flame', which you can watch here. 💜

It's legitimately my favourite song of 2019, and as a bonus the visuals are incredible! 

Chapter Text

 

.

“Ready to go?” Yugyeom asks cheerfully, a box of books tucked under one arm as he pauses in the doorway to the bedroom. “I’ve got all your school stuff, Bin. That was everything we needed from the living room, right?”

Jungkook hums an affirmative, quickly glancing around the room for any important knickknacks he might have missed in his hasty packing session, before peering back down into the duffel bag he’s left open on Moonbin’s bed, double checking that all of the werecat’s toiletries are present and accounted for.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to pack your shampoo?” Jungkook asks, glancing towards his roommate. “You know how sensitive your skin gets whenever you switch to a different product.”

Moonbin shakes his head, shifting to a more comfortable position in his seat on the edge of Jungkook’s bed, hugging the elder’s pillow to his chest. His crutches are propped up against the headboard a few feet away, right leg resting on a stool in front of him, encased in a cast from mid-thigh to toes.

It had taken several hours and a full pack of multi-coloured permanent markers (curtesy of MJ, because apparently the Fae could pull both flowers and craft supplies out of thin air as required) for Jungkook to turn the white plaster cast into a work of art, but it had all been worth it to see the delighted grin on Moonbin’s face once the project was complete. Bin has already voiced a desire to get the cast framed after its removal…Jungkook doesn’t have the heart to tell him that the hospital might not let him keep it for health and safety reasons. Although he imagines Namjoon could probably pull a few strings to make that happen; the healer had been pretty laidback about a lot of the hospital’s rules and regulations (particularly visiting hours), and he’s clearly developed a fondness for the werecat over the past couple of days (much to Jungkook’s satisfaction). He’s confident that the vampire will be able to find a way to ensure that Binnie gets to keep his cast.

“Sanha uses the same shampoo as me,” the werecat explains, idly rubbing his cheek against the pillow in his arms. “He said it’d be easier if we just shared while I’m staying over.”

“Makes sense,” Eunwoo agrees as he appears in the doorway beside Yugyeom, arms laden with several multipacks of Nesquik cartons (from the crate of chocolate milk that Jungkook had bought for Bin earlier in the week, right after his financial situation had radically improved). “Both of the bathrooms have plenty of shelf space, but MJ-hyung’s plants have a tendency to take up most of it. The vines are good at holding stuff though, if you ask nicely.”

Moonbin cracks a smile, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes, and Jungkook feels a familiar pang of worry in his chest when he sees it. The werecat has recovered remarkably well from his injuries over the past two days, the awful bruising and swelling around his eye socket and down the side of his face having faded almost to nothingness, and Namjoon had promised that the stitches along his temple and above his eyebrow could be removed tomorrow during his home visit. Visibly, Moonbin his looking a hundred times better than he had done that first night in the hospital, but his broken leg and cracked ribs are undoubtedly still causing him discomfort, especially now that he’s stopped taking the stronger painkillers.

To be honest, the kitten really hasn’t been himself all morning, unusually quiet and subdued from the moment he was discharged from the hospital.

“Anything else you wanna take, Binnie?” Jungkook asks, keeping his voice light despite his troubled thoughts. He shoots the cat a fond, teasing smile. “My pillow, maybe?”

The younger man glances down at the pillow he’s been subconsciously nuzzling against, expression uncharacteristically pensive.

“No,” his roommate mumbles, his shoulders drooping visibly as he hugs the pillow tighter. “I wanna take you with me…”

Jungkook’s heart clenches. He silently regards the pouting werecat for a moment, before glancing towards the two figures still lingering in the doorway, offering them a wincing smile.

“Could you guys maybe give us a minute?”

Yugyeom nods without question and turns to leave, casually tugging a concerned-looking Eunwoo by the hood of his jacket to urge the vampire to follow. Eunwoo has been particularly attentive to Moonbin’s needs while the cat has been bedridden in hospital, clearly still keyed up after seeing his bondmate involved in a hit-and-run, so it’s little wonder he’s so reactive to Moonbin’s sudden despondency. It is very out of character for the werecat to be sullen like this.

“We’ll be in the car if you want anything,” Yugyeom assures him, ushering Eunwoo out into the hallway. “Take as long as you need, I’m sure JB-hyung won’t mind the wait.”

The bedroom door shuts behind them quietly, but Jungkook waits until he hears the soft click of the front door closing before moving to sit on the edge of his bed beside Moonbin, sliding an arm around the werecat’s shoulders in a comforting side-hug.

“Binnie-” he begins gently.

“Why can’t I just stay here with you?” the werecat interrupts, voice a soft, imploring sort of whine. “I’m really tired, hyung. I just wanna be home.”

Chest aching with both guilt and sympathy, Jungkook rests his cheek against Moonbin’s soft hair and cuddles him closer, letting the younger man lean into him.

“You know why, kitkat,” he murmurs. “The apartment’s too small, it’ll be super difficult to navigate on crutches. And the elevator might be working today, but we both know it’ll be broken again before the end of the week, and then what? We live on the fourth floor, Bin. You can’t hop up and down all those stairs every day – it isn’t safe.”

“I could do it,” Moonbin argues plaintively. “I’m really good with stairs, the physio said so.”

“Yeah, you’re pretty capable on those crutches,” Jungkook acknowledges warmly, giving the werecat a gentle squeeze. “But it takes a lot of effort, and you’re supposed to be resting. Namjoon-hyung said your rib fractures and all the deep-tissue bruising would take a little longer to heal. You shouldn’t push yourself.”

“But I feel fine,” the younger man gripes, although his tone sounds more petulant than angry as he pulls back from the hug to fix the elder with his most sincere expression. “My leg doesn’t even hurt all that much anymore, and my ribs only twinge if I move too fast. What if I promised to be super careful on the stairs?”

Jungkook sighs, reaching up with his free hand to carefully fix the werecat’s fringe.

“There’s a lot of stairs,” he reiterates, trying not to be swayed by the younger man’s doe-eyed look. “It just isn’t a good idea, kitten. None of us want to run the risk of you tripping up and hurting yourself, not when we’ve only just got you out of hospital. All the doctors wanted to keep you in another night as it is, but Joonie-hyung talked them round…on the condition that you spend the next couple of days recuperating.”

The werecat wilts in defeat.

“JinJin-hyung’s got that big, open-plan apartment on the ground floor,” Jungkook continues softly. “It’s perfect, you won’t have to use the stairs at all. He’s setting up a bed for you in the living room, so you’ll be able to hang out with the pack and watch TV without moving a muscle.”

Moonbin continues to sulk, lips downturned as he leans back into the elder’s side-hug with a despondent sigh.

Jungkook frets internally at his roommate’s unhappiness, dropping a kiss against the cat’s hair as he hugs him as tightly as he dares, mindful of Binnie’s still-healing injuries.

“You’re gonna be able to spend more time with the pack,” he murmurs softly. “I know you don’t get to see them as often as you’d like. I know for a fact that Rocky’s already got a whole week of meals planned out for you, man – you’re gonna eat like a king. And Sanha’s even taking time off work to stay home with you, which he never does – I swear the kid lives at Euphoria most days. You’ll have the whole pack there to keep you company and wait on you hand and foot, it’ll be awesome.” He rubs his cheek against the werecat’s hair. “I thought you’d be excited.”

If there was one thing Jungkook has learned over the past couple of days, it’s that Moonbin is very much in love with all of Eunwoo’s packmates. Under their care and attention at the hospital, the werecat had preened with satisfaction, and seeing JinJin and MJ dote on Moonbin so tenderly had completely reassured Jungkook that his kitten would be well looked after whenever he finally chose to leave the proverbial nest. And honestly? He’s glad. Binnie deserves the best, and JinJin’s pack certainly seems to qualify.

“I am excited,” Moonbin answers, sounding anything but. “It’s just…I don’t like leaving you here all on your own. I wish you could come with me, hyung. I’m sure the guys wouldn’t mind, honest.”

Jungkook winces at that. In truth, Jinwoo had extended an invitation for him to stay over at the Park-den while Binnie was still recuperating, but Jungkook had politely declined. It’s not that he doesn’t want to watch over his kitten for the duration of his recovery, and it’s not that he doesn’t get along with JinJin’s pack (they’re all lovely), but despite their cheery warmth and welcoming nature, during these past two days he’s sometimes felt as though he’s been getting in the way of them forming a closer relationship with Moonbin. The werecat legitimately needs quality time away from Jungkook, time to spend in private with his future packmates so that those bonds can properly develop. Binnie might not enjoy the thought of being away from home without him, but Jungkook knows his roommate – as soon as Bin arrives at JinJin’s den and finds himself surrounded by the dog hybrid’s sweet-natured, cuddly packmates, he’ll forget all about being homesick.

Not to mention, Jungkook isn’t sure how much longer he can last on minimal sleep. He’s managed to get an hour or two of shut-eye in sporadic bursts over the past couple of days, but as often tends to be the case in unfamiliar environments, his brain just hadn’t been able to switch off enough for him to sleep properly. He’d seriously envied JinJin’s pack and their effortless ability to just curl up around each other and doze off in the blink of an eye.

Seokjin had definitely noticed Jungkook’s fatigue earlier that morning, tugging him aside after breakfast to frame his face between gentle hands, thumbs carefully tracing the bags under his eyes. If Namjoon hadn’t appeared at that very moment with Moonbin’s discharge papers, Jungkook has a feeling he would’ve been in for an interrogation.

So to some extent, choosing to stay home rather than go to JinJin’s den with Binnie (however much the separation pains him) is partly for his own good, too.

And it’s not like they won’t be seeing each other every day. Jungkook plans to visit the pack tomorrow for dinner (at Rocky’s insistence), and Binnie should be well enough to resume his university classes on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest, so they can still eat lunch together with Yugyeom as per tradition. And Namjoon has signed Binnie off on sick-leave from his job at the coffee shop, so with Jungkook having drastically cut down his own part-time hours already, they’ll be able to spend the afternoons together too – at least for a little while, if he isn’t knee-deep in study material.

He’s certainly not abandoning his kitten, he’s just…reluctantly relinquishing custody of him to JinJin for a little while, until there’s a slightly smaller risk of Binnie injuring himself going up and down the stairs.

“It’s only for a week or so,” he cajoles, mussing up the werecat’s hair, mindful of the stitches near his temple. “Joonie-hyung said the cast wouldn’t need to stay on any longer than that. You’ll be back home before you know it.”

Moonbin’s pout morphs into a faintly worried frown. “But who’s gonna look after you while I’m gone? I know you, hyung. You never go to bed on time, you work way too much, you’ll sleep through your alarm, you’ll forget to eat-”

“Yah,” Jungkook protests with a laugh. “I’m not that hopeless.”

His roommate gives him a look.

“I promise I’ll eat three square meals a day,” Jungkook reassures him. “And aside from my shift this afternoon, I won’t be back at Euphoria until next weekend. Wonho-hyung even offered to cancel today’s shift, but I didn’t wanna leave the team short. Six hours at work and that’s it, okay? I’m not gonna pick up any extras. You don’t need to worry about me.”

Moonbin still doesn’t look convinced. “That big paper’s due soon, right? Assignments always stress you out so much, and you won’t have me at home to drag you to bed when you lose track of time.”

Jungkook feels that familiar sickly lurch in his stomach at the reminder of the unwritten essay he’s supposed to be submitting in eight days. That’s another reason he’d been unable to sleep in the hospital – knowing that every hour he spent there brought him closer and closer to that deadline. With everything that’s happened lately (meeting the coven, falling in love, going out on dates, spending time at the nest, and most recently Binnie’s accident), his study schedule had fallen by the wayside, and now he’s all too aware of just how screwed he is. Other than setting out a rough plan for his essay and listing down a few sources, he’s done absolutely nothing; he hasn’t even written the goddamn introduction. And that reality is fucking terrifying.

He normally likes to have assignments completed well in advance (previously a necessity, because his sporadic dayshift/nightshift schedule just wasn’t conducive to last-minute cramming), so to be this close to the deadline with nothing to show for it is already making him anxious. Yet another reason why he’d politely declined JinJin’s offer; he genuinely can’t spare the time – he’s got a paper to write.

“Do I look stressed to you?” he returns with an easy grin, determined to convince his roommate that all is well. Moonbin’s still recovering from his injuries, the last thing Jungkook wants is for the werecat to be worrying about him when he’s supposed to be resting. “Now that I’ve cut my hours at Euphoria, I feel a hundred percent calmer about getting schoolwork finished on time. I don’t have to pull all-nighters like I used to.”

It isn’t a total lie. He does feel less stressed than he used to do when he was still juggling two jobs on minimal sleep and trying to stay on top of his studies.

But only marginally less stressed.

He just hates everything about his business and economics degree with a passion, and knowing that every assignment and exam and presentation poses a threat to his overall grade (and university scholarship) just terrifies him. It always has, and probably always will. Seriously, fuck his life.

“I guess…if you’re sure,” Moonbin murmurs hesitantly, still looking a little doubtful despite Jungkook’s forced cheer. “But you’ll tell me, right? If it gets too much again? You’ll call me, or call one of the hyungs?”

Jungkook nods, already knowing in his heart of hearts that he probably won’t.

“Pinky romise?” Moonbin holds up his pinky finger.

Huffing a fond laugh, Jungkook curls his own around the digit. “Pinky promise.”

And just like that, the werecat brightens visibly, leaning in to plant a noisy mwah of a smooch against Jungkook’s cheek.

“I’m hungry,” Moonbin announces, back to his usual self again, leaning over with only a very slight wince to grab his crutches from their resting place by the headboard. “Gyeomie said Jinyoung-hyung hid some snacks in the car, let’s go before he eats them all.”

Jungkook helps him up with a laugh. “Whatever you want, kitten.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Jungkook’s always been so good at turning down invitations.

Back when he was still juggling two part-time jobs, uni work, his art classes and dance practice, there genuinely hadn’t been enough time for anything else in his weekly calendar, so excusing himself from social events had been a necessity simply because he couldn’t be in two places at once. Sure, he’d often felt guilty for saying no (because if there was one thing in the world Jungkook truly hated, it was disappointing his friends), but with no other feasible option, it had always been a relatively easy answer to give.

Now that Jungkook has drastically cut down his working hours and does have ample free time after school, saying no has suddenly become a whole lot harder…even with a big essay deadline looming on the horizon.

“You wanna come over for dinner after practice tomorrow?” Rocky asks him on Sunday evening, shoulder braced against the wall in a casual slouch as he watches Jungkook lace up his new Magnanni boots (a surprise gift from Hoseok earlier that day – the vampire has impeccable taste in footwear). “I’m gonna make tteokbokki.”

“With cheese?” Moonbin asks hopefully from his semi-reclined position in the centre of makeshift sickbed that’s been set up in the living room (essentially a giant nest of roll-out mattresses, pillows and blankets).

Bin’s gaze is still fixed on the giant flatscreen TV as his Mario Kart character races towards the finish line, the werecat playfully bumping elbows with Eunwoo and giggling when the sneaky act of sabotage makes the vampire’s character swerve off-road sharply.

Lots of cheese,” Sanha seconds. A second later, the bunny throws both arms up in the air with a cheer as his own character zooms over the finish line in first place. MJ gives an exaggerated cry of dismay and lobs a pillow at the hybrid in retaliation, Sanha laughing as he ducks away to hide behind Moonbin.

Rocky rolls his eyes at his packmates with an indulgent grin.

“I guess we’re having it with cheese,” the dancer confirms wryly, turning back to Jungkook as the elder straightens up from tying his laces. “You in, hyung?”

Say no. Say no.

“Thanks, but I wouldn’t want to intrude,” Jungkook tries to decline, although it lacks conviction.

“You won’t be,” Rocky reassures him. “We all love having you over. Yugyeom-hyung’s coming too, if that makes you feel any better – he’s been badgering me to cook for him all semester, and now’s as good a time as any with Bin-hyung staying over.”

“Binnie won’t be in school tomorrow,” JinJin adds quietly, appearing at Jungkook’s elbow to help him into his jacket. The dog hybrid has been particularly attentive towards him these past few days, probably an offset of having an injured packmate to nurture around the clock. “We figured the two of you might wanna hang out for a while, even if it’s only for dinner. No pressure, though.”

He really should decline. Jungkook’s already made arrangements with Taehyung and Jimin to check out the new 3D art exhibition in town tomorrow afternoon, which will inevitably eat up all of his free time between school and dance practice. Monday evening was supposed to be his first real chance to start working on his essay (because so far this weekend he’s done fuck all, too busy worrying about his absent roommate to concentrate on anything for more than  a few minutes), but how is he supposed to turn down an invitation to spend more time with Binnie? Especially since he otherwise won’t get to see his roommate at all tomorrow.

“It’s okay if you’re busy, hyung,” Moonbin pipes up, interrupting Jungkook’s internal crisis of conscience. “We can still see each other on Tuesday, right?”

And although Bin’s smile is easy and nonplussed and probably convinces the rest of the pack, Jungkook can tell that the werecat is trying to hide his disappointment. They haven’t been separated for more than twelve hours since the day they first moved in together, and two days is going to feel like forever – Binnie clearly isn’t a fan of the idea. Which, to be honest, is all the motivation Jungkook needs to shove his worries about schoolwork aside and simply focus on what will make his kitten happy.

“I should be free tomorrow night,” he says in as casual a tone as he can muster, trying to ignore the immediate stab of regret that punches him in the gut (he’s essentially just doomed himself to a late-night panic session tomorrow evening when he returns home and realises how much work he still has left to do, but hey, that’s a problem for future Jungkook). “Sure, I’d love to come.”

Moonbin gives a whoop in celebration, punching the air enthusiastically, only to grimace in discomfort a microsecond later when the sudden movement pulls on his injuries.

Before Jungkook can even take a step towards him, the rest of the pack have clustered around Bin, Eunwoo’s hands fluttering over the werecat’s torso fretfully as MJ and JinJin fuss over him with gentle reproofs. Rocky slips behind the werecat to plump up his pillows and rub Moonbin’s shoulders as Sanha hugs the offending arm to his chest, clearly determined to prevent him from moving it again so suddenly.

“Guys, I’m fine, it’s nothing,” Moonbin protests with a laugh, but he nestles into the impromptu pack-cuddle all the same, a teeny-tiny pleased grin curling at his lips.

And Jungkook smiles warmly at the sight, that slither of regret quickly vanishing.

Seeing Binnie happy tomorrow will definitely be worth the added essay-stress. Besides, it’s only dinner – it’s not like he’s staying the night. Dance practice is usually over by seven-thirty, so he can stop by at the Parks for a quick bite to eat and a cuddle with Bin, and still be home in plenty of time to work on his paper for a few hours. No sweat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You look tired, hon,” Jimin murmurs, catching him off-guard. “You having trouble sleeping?”

Jungkook glances away from the intricate glass sculpture he’s been staring at for god knows how long (fuck, he needs to stop spacing out like this), gaze seeking out Taehyung to make sure he isn’t close enough to overhear their conversation. Ever since the fledgling vampire’s panic attack at the hospital last week, Jungkook has felt increasingly more protective of his bondmate. Tae already worries about him more than he needs to, and the last thing Jungkook wants to do is add to that.

“It’s just a little weird being home without Binnie,” he admits, matching Jimin’s quiet tone when he spots Taehyung admiring a light refraction piece on the other side of the showroom, out of earshot. “I’m not used to it being so quiet, y’know?”

It isn’t a complete lie.

Sure, he’d stayed up well into the early hours of the morning desperately trying to find relevant source material to support his essay (after finally deciding on a suitable framework for his analysis), but he’d gone to bed eventually. It’s hard to sleep, though, in the stillness of his bedroom with only his thoughts for company. It had taken him forever to fall asleep, but whether that was because he misses Binnie’s familiar presence or because his brain won’t shut up about all the research he still needs to do, he can’t say for sure.

Waking up when his alarm went off for school this morning had been tough, though. Especially since it no longer comes with a side-order of sleepy werecat snuggles. God, he really misses morning cuddles.

Jimin’s soft hand slips into his own, squeezing gently. “You’re more than welcome to crash at the nest if you’re feeling lonely, bun. Hell, Jin-hyung would love that, he already has a room set up for you and everything.”

Jungkook feels his face warm a little, a pleased flush rising to his cheeks at the thought of Seokjin setting up a space in the nest just for him on the off-chance that he might decide to stay over.

And god, the offer’s tempting. It’s so fucking tempting.

Living without Binnie these past few days has really made him realise just how dependent he is on the tactile affection and casual intimacy they share with each other. Not just the cuddling, but the tiny caresses, the playful pokes, the sleepy nuzzles, the tickle-attacks…bumping elbows and touching hands as they wash and dry dishes together, curling up practically in each other’s laps on their tiny couch while they eat dinner. God, he misses those little moments so much it hurts. And he knows he can’t help feeling that way – human needs aside, his hybrid physiology makes him crave companionship and the closeness of others. But he still feels a little pathetic knowing just how quickly that homesickness has taken root. Like seriously, it hasn’t even been three days yet, why can’t he just pull himself together? Ugh.

Staying overnight at the nest sounds like an absolute dream, but right now it really isn’t an option, not with an unwritten essay and several long hours of research waiting for him at home. He’d never be able to concentrate on his studies with the coven nearby, and he very much doubts any of the hyungs would allow him to stay up as late as he needs to; especially Jin and Namjoon. He’d never be able to do the work sneakily either, not with Yoongi around.

And the last thing he wants to do is let slip just how fucking stressed he gets over his studies – it really isn’t something they need to be made aware of, they worry about him enough as it is. He knows Eunwoo’s told the coven that he’s a straight-A student (which he is, just with massive anxiety issues and a deep-set loathing for the business degree he’s studying), and he’d much rather maintain that sparkling image of a Good Student than have Tae and the others worrying about his mental health as he inevitably falls apart over another stupid essay.

“It’s not so bad,” he reassures the vampire, trying his best to feel the easy confidence he’s projecting in his voice so that it transmits across the bond. “And it’s only for another week or so. Besides, I don’t really sleep all that well in new places, I’m probably better off staying home.”

Jimin squeezes his hand again. “Whatever works best for you, hon. But if you want, one of us could always come and stay the night with you. TaeTae needs his sleep, but the rest of us are available. Hobi-hyung and Yoongi-hyung sleep on alternate days, Joon-hyung only sleeps at the weekend, Jin-hyung closes his eyes maybe twice a month, and I only need a couple of hours a night, so we’d all be happy to keep you company if it gets too quiet. Fair warning though, Jin-hyung will probably end up alphabetising all your cupboards and building you a balcony or something.”

Laughing, mostly because he can easily picture that happening, Jungkook shakes his head. “I’ll be fine, hyung,” he promises. “Gyeomie and I are gonna head to the Parks tonight after dance practice, so I won’t be short on company. And if the apartment gets too quiet, I can just put on some music or something. Yoongi-hyung sent me this ten-hour nature ambience track, he’s got me covered.”

The Seer hasn’t made it obvious that he’s aware of Jungkook’s current insomnia troubles, but the link to the audio file had been messaged to him with a nondescript “just in case you need it, bun”, so he probably knows everything.

“Okay,” Jimin relents easily, leaning in to brush tender a kiss against his cheek, and Jungkook smiles shyly at the gentle peck.  

The one and only positive thing to have risen from the ashes of the whole car accident/hospitalisation nightmare is his developing relationship with Taehyung’s nestmates. The coven had spent a lot of time with him during Binnie’s stay in the recovery suite, seeming to take it in turns to coax him out of the room whenever Bin was napping, inviting him for a stroll in the meditation gardens or coaxing him into eating something. And when Bin was awake, one or more of them was always nearby, giving the Park and Im packs space but still present, always ready with a warm smile and a gentle look whenever Jungkook glanced their way.

Sharing physical affection with the coven certainly comes a lot easier to him now, and thankfully with a lot less blushing on his part. It’s still a fairly new and tentative development with Hoseok (they haven’t kissed properly yet, although Jungkook’s been thinking about it a lot these past few days), and with Yoongi he feels like things remain more platonic than romantic. He’s hopeful that might change in the future, though.

Yoongi had softly booped him on the nose when they said goodbye yesterday afternoon, and reassured Jungkook that he didn’t need to rush into anything until he felt comfortable (thus confirming that the Seer was perhaps the most patient and unhurried person that Jungkook has ever met in his entire life). It’s nice, though – knowing that Yoongi is aware of his feelings, reciprocates them, and is still willing to wait until Jungkook is ready before initiating anything.

Not that he’s complaining about being courted by Taehyung, Jimin and Hoseok all at once…even if the thought of their combined affection sometimes makes him feel a little weak-kneed. Seriously, two weeks ago he was single and longing to mingle, and now he has a ton of doting boyfriends, like what the fuck?

“Kookie!” Taehyung comes skipping back over to them with a bright smile, wrapping an arm around Jungkook’s waist as he holds up his phone to show them. “Hobi-hyung wants to know if you’d like to go on a date to the aquarium with us tomorrow afternoon.”

“Should’ve guessed that’d be his first choice,” Jimin laughs, squeezing Jungkook’s hand again as he elaborates, “Hyung loves the aquarium, he’s there at least once a week…usually overnight when it’s closed to the public. He’s one of the primary sponsors of their marine conservation programme, so he gets to be a little more flexible when it comes to visiting hours. He says fish are…what was it again?”

“Emotionally uncomplicated,” Taehyung supplies with a smile. “Hobi-hyung mostly goes there to meditate, but he’s also super nerdy about marine biology, he’s like a walking textbook. And he’s given a name to just about every damn fish in the aquarium, it’s so cute.”

Oh, that does sound cute. That sounds super cute. And Jungkook wants nothing more than to watch Hoseok coo over tropical fish, but fuck, if he doesn’t say no then he’ll lose out on another afternoon of study-time.

“We can go for dinner afterwards and drop you off at your art class,” Jimin suggests temptingly. “You like Italian, right? There’s this great place near your art school.”

“Ooh, that little restaurant Jin-hyung likes, down by the cat café?” Taehyung chips in. “Kookie, you’re gonna love it there, the décor is so cute and they play live music during dinner service. Oh, and the gelato, holy shit, you’ll definitely wanna leave room for dessert.” He leans in to kiss Jungkook’s cheek, smiling keenly. “Can we take you out, babe? Please?”

Fuck.

Fuckity fuck, damn his weak-ass heart.

“Sure,” he agrees, resigned to forever being a total pushover when it comes to the Kim coven and cute dates. “Sounds awesome.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honestly, his study plans for Monday evening would’ve worked out just fine if he had stayed at the Parks only for dinner.

Unfortunately, someone had made the mistake of suggesting that they watch something on TV while they ate, and one horror movie had then become two, and Jungkook was having such a good time stuffing himself with tteokbokki (or ‘Rocky-bokki’ as MJ had dubbed it, much to the chef’s chagrin) and laughing at the adorable way Sanha would burrow into his side with a startled squeak at every jump-scare, he hadn’t even noticed the hours slipping by until his phone started lighting up with worried texts from Jaebum.

Alpha: Cub, Yugyeom isn’t answering his phone.

Alpha: Please tell me he’s with you.

Alpha: You two were having dinner at the Parks, right? Is he still there? Or did he come home with you?

“Gyeomie, is your phone turned off?” he asks, shooting JB a quick text to reassure him that Yugyeom is safe and sound. It’s only then that he notices the time, swearing hoarsely and almost dropping his phone in surprise.

“Language,” JinJin chides automatically, fingers carding through Rocky’s hair where the younger man reclines against his chest, half-asleep. The pack-leader rolls his head to the side to glance over at Jungkook. “What’s wrong, bun?”

“It’s already gone midnight,” Jungkook half-laughs (because it’s a much better option than giving into that feeling of oh-fuck-I-should-be-studying-right-now that’s threatening to close his throat up). His phone buzzes again, and he glances down at it briefly before wincing. “Uh, Yugy? It’s JB-hyung. I think you might be in trouble, dude.”

The look of sheer panic on Yugyeom’s face would be hilarious in any other situation, but Jungkook’s already feeling his own stress-levels creeping up (a whole evening of essay-writing lost, fuck). He watches somewhat numbly as the werewolf almost trips over his own feet clambering out of Bin’s makeshift nest to stumble across the room to his backpack. He pulls out his cell phone, pausing a few seconds as he switches it on, before blanching a moment later at however many messages and missed calls he apparently discovers there.

“Oh god,” Yugyeom bemoans. “I forgot to switch it on after we left the studio. Fuck, hyung’s gonna kill me. Kookie, c’mon, we gotta run.”

“Are you planning on leaving the country?” Eunwoo teases, an amused smile curling at his lips. “Not sure if that’s gonna work out for you, hon; Mark-hyung has connections oversees.”

Yugyeom pulls a face at the vampire, but his expression transitions right back to dread again when his phone suddenly dings. Jungkook’s own device buzzes a few moments later and he glances down at it to read the message.

Alpha: We’re on our way. Hang tight and we’ll give you a ride home, I don’t want you taking the bus at this hour.

Alpha: And if Yuygeom tries to leave, sit on him.

The werewolf in question has sulked back over to the nest, dropping down onto the pillows beside Jinwoo with an aggrieved whine. The elder valiantly trying to suppress a smile as he wraps a comforting arm around the pup’s shoulders.

“Your Alpha’s on his way, huh?” JinJin sympathises. “Sorry we kept you so late, pup. If I’d known you had a curfew, I would’ve set an alarm to get you home on time.”

Yugyeom sighs in defeat. “Hyung’s pretty flexible about my curfew, but I’m supposed to warn him if I’m running late. I should’ve messaged him after dinner, I totally lost track of time.”

“Me too,” Jungkook shifts his position carefully, not wanting to disturb Sanha who seems to have fallen asleep against him, fluffy bunny ears tucked into the hood of his cute bumblebee onesie. “I’m sure JB-hyung will understand. He’s probably more worried than mad.”

“But you did forget to turn your phone back on,” Moonbin adds wincingly. “Can’t imagine he’s too happy about that, dude. Isn’t that, like, pack safety rule number one?”

“Shit,” Yugyeom groans and buries his head in JinJin’s shoulder. “My ass is history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You know I don’t mind you coming home late, cub,” Jaebum lectures from the front passenger seat, watching Yugyeom in the rear-view mirror. The Alpha’s spirit-guide is perched on his shoulder, the tiny white bird silently supervising the two maknaes in the backseat. “Your curfew’s always been negotiable within reason. But you need to tell me in advance, both for your safety and my sanity. You can’t just drop off the radar without a word.”

Yugyeom is slouching in his seat, arms crossed over his chest and bottom lip jutting out ever so slightly.

Even though Jungkook sympathises with him (because he’s been in Yugyeom’s shoes more times than he can count, and getting scolded by JB isn’t fun at all), it’s hard to fight back a smile at the sight of his tall, broad-shouldered hunk of muscle of a best friend quietly sulking beside him. The wolf’s so fucking cute sometimes.

“We’ve gone over cell phone rules at least hundred times, kiddo,” Mark adds from the driver’s seat, his gaze still fixed on the road. “If you have to turn it off for class, you turn it back on again as soon as you’re out. We need to be able to contact you if something happens.”

“Geez, you make it sound like I did it on purpose,” Yugyeom gripes, and Jungkook winces at the petulant defensiveness in his voice. Ahgase’s pale white feathers puff up, and he can tell without looking that JB’s probably doing the jaw thing.

Ohh, bad move.

And there it is – The Pause. Jungkook hates The Pause, and even though he’s not the one in trouble, it’s still powerful enough to give him second-hand butterflies, the uncomfortable squirmy feeling making him want to apologise on his idiot best friend’s behalf, because seriously, back-talking Mark and JB when they’re already displeased is just ten kinds of dumb.

“You wanna try that again, pup?” Jaebum asks calmly. Far too calmly.

Yugyeom wisely hunkers down in his seat, keeping his mouth shut.

“We know you didn’t mean to leave your phone switched off,” the Alpha continues sternly after another squirm-inducing pause. “We’re not suggesting you did it deliberately, cub. But you got out of dance practice over four hours ago – if you’d already decided to stay with the Parks for a little while after dinner, you should’ve touched base with one of us first. You know that, we’ve been over this before. You don’t need my permission to spend time with your friends, but I need to know that you’re safe.”

Mark nods in agreement, his fingers clenching tighter around the steering wheel. “Especially after what happened the other day, kid. The last time our calls went through to voicemail, it was because you and Binnie had been in a hit-and-run. We can’t…you…“ The waver in his voice is faint, but noticeable. “Damnit, pup, you really scared us tonight.”

Jaebum reaches over to settle his hand over Mark’s nape comfortingly, Ahgase using his arm as a bridge to hop across and settle herself on the the Beta's shoulder instead, bumping up against his cheek. 

“Hyung, I…I’m really sorry,” Yugyeom murmurs, now emanating guilt as he leans forward as far as the seatbelt will allow. “I should’ve messaged you guys sooner, I was being dumb, I just…I didn’t think-”

“You didn’t think,” JB agrees, his tone softening again, clearly sensing his cub’s remorsefulness. “That’s something we’re gonna have to work on, puppy. But thank you for apologising.”

Ahgase swoops down from Mark’s shoulder with a flutter of her small wings, the spirit guide landing on Yugyeom’s knee and giving a demanding peep. The maknae opens his palm for her to hop into, lifting the teeny-tiny bird to eye-level.

“Sorry,” he repeats quietly. “Don’t be mad at me. Please?”

“We’re not mad at you, baby,” Mark reassures, his voice stable again. “We just want you safe. Well, maybe Ahgase’s a little mad, but you know she hates it when you miss curfew.”

The Im-pack’s spirit guide is every bit as protective as their Alpha – Jungkook’s been pecked sharply on the head more than once for some minor mischief or other. But like JB, she has a soft spot for the pack’s youngest members, and she never seems to hold grudges for long.

After staring at Yugyeom for another long moment, Ahgase jabs her beak against the pad of Yugyeom’s thumb (far more lightly than he probably deserves, in all honesty, but then Gyeomie’s always been her favourite) before turning to flutter back over to her previous perch on JB’s shoulder, nestling into the hood of his jacket.

“Am I still in trouble?” Yugyeom asks tentatively.

“Mm-hm,” Jaebum hums, but he sends his maknae a gentle smile in the rear-view mirror. “But we’ll talk about it more when we get home, okay?”

Yugyeom nods, subdued.

The car slows to a stop, and Jungkook blinks when he recognises the apartment block outside the window as his own. Unfastening his safety belt, he scoots across the backseat to wrap himself around Yugyeom in a tight, comforting hug. The wolf melts into it immediately, returning the hybrid’s affectionate nuzzle.

“See you tomorrow,” Jungkook murmurs, rubbing noses with the wolf and gripping his hand in solidarity. “Hang in there, dude.”

Then he squeezes himself between the two front seats to receive his obligatory goodbye nuzzles from JB and Mark (and a parting chirp from Ahgase), giving the Alpha his sweetest smile as he pulls away from the elder’s hug.

“You’re not gonna kill him, right?”

Jaebum’s lips curl into a fondly amused smile, his gaze flickering up to check on his errant maknae in the rear-view mirror.

“Only a little bit,” the Alpha replies, holding his thumb and index finger scarcely a centimetre apart. “Can’t make any promises for the others, though. You know how Jinyoungie gets when he’s worried.”

Indeed he does. Poor Yugyeom.

“Do you need a ride to campus tomorrow?” Mark asks, as Jungkook shoots his best friend a final sympathetic wince and turns to exit the car. “I’m not due at the station until mid-morning, want me to swing by and pick you up?”

A lift to school isn’t usually something he’d turn down, but Jungkook’s very much aware of the long, long night of essay research he has ahead of him, and knows that come morning (before his first cup of coffee) he’s probably going to look like shit. If Mark or any of the Im-pack see him like that, it’ll raise far too many red flags, and he doesn’t know if he’ll have the heart to lie to their faces about his imminent essay crisis. Hiding it from the Kim coven is going to be hard enough already, he’d rather just avoid any situation where his wellbeing might be called into question.

“I actually have a couple of errands to run before my first class,” he lies, and fuck, he hates how easily it comes. He doesn’t like being dishonest with the pack, but it’s a necessary evil. “Thanks anyway, hyung.”

Mark waves away the gratitude. “No worries. Text me if you change your mind, okay?”

“Sleep well, bun,” JB calls after him, and Jungkook winces as he shuts the car door, a strained smile in place as he waves after the departing vehicle.

Right. Sleep.

Not gonna happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jungkook’s never been to Seoul Aquarium before.

“It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be,” he admits, as they step through a walkway into another spacious room full of beautiful aquatic exhibits.

“We’ve been working on expanding our marine conservation program,” Hoseok tells him cheerfully, lightly swinging their joined hands. “Public education is a big part of that, so the aquarium’s basically quadrupled in size over the past decade or so. We do a lot of youth outreach programs too – trying to get kids more actively involved in the conservation effort. The education suite on the top floor hosts a marine biology club for students, and we offer work experience to high schoolers who are interested in studying the field at degree-level.”

Jimin steps up beside them suddenly to nudge his hip against Jungkook’s, smiling cheekily.

“You need rescuing yet, honey?” he teases. “If the fish-trivia is getting to you, just holler for me, okay?”

Hoseok laughs and shoos him away. “Brat. Go keep an eye on TaeTae, you know he’s liable to wonder off.”

The younger dancer's head whips around to glance at their immediate surroundings, and he swears softly under his breath, darting off back down the tunnel towards the previous exhibit in search of the wayward fledgling.

“Don’t worry, Tae’s still with Vinnie,” Hoseok confides, referring to the giant octopus in the previous room. “He’s totally fine. I just needed a minute alone with you.”

They’ve wandered over to a large, colourful tank full of long, hair-like seaweed, where shimmering silver fish are weaving in and out of the thin, green strands. Hoseok has moved to stand behind him, arms encircling Jungkook from behind, the youth’s back pressed against his chest. It’s the cosiest backhug ever, and Jungkook melts into it with a happy little smile, glad that vampire can’t see his blush.

They stand that way for a long moment, and Jungkook can feel his tired mind zoning out again, body relaxing further against the empath as he blinks groggily, struggling to focus on the tiny fish in front of him.

“Sweetheart, I need you to be honest with me,” Hoseok murmurs softly against Jungkook’s ear. “Is everything alright? You seem a little…preoccupied today. Something’s bothering you.”

Shit. And he’s being trying so hard to only think about positive, healthy things too – even when he’s making a concerted effort to compartmentalise the stress of his unfinished essay, Hoseok can still sense that something's wrong. 

“I’m just tired, hyung,” he tries to reassure. “I didn’t really sleep last night.”

It had been four o’clock this morning before he’d finally shut his laptop and crawled into bed, but the late night had been worth it; he's amassed enough valid research to support his essay narrative, which means tonight after art class he can actually start to write the damn thing. Finally.

Hoseok says nothing, just keeps hugging him close. Jungkook fidgets, unsure if the empath can tell that he’s withholding information. It isn’t exactly a lie, he really hadn’t slept last night. But admittedly, that doesn’t adequately explain why he might be feeling stressed, so he’ll probably have to give Hoseok something else.

“And I guess I’ve been worrying about Bin a lot,” he admits, and again, it’s not technically a lie. Binnie’s wellbeing is always on his mind. “He’s probably gonna push himself too fast, he’s kinda stubborn.”

“Sounds like someone else I know,” Hoseok murmurs, a teasing note in his voice as he hugs Jungkook tighter, kissing the side of his head. “I hear Joonie gave him the all-clear for school. At least you’ll be able to keep an eye on him between classes, right?”

“Mm,” Jungkook agrees, smiling a little, touched to know that the empath has apparently been keeping tabs on his roommate’s recovery all this time.

“Why don’t I pick you and Binnie up after school tomorrow?” the vampire suggests warmly. “We can go see a movie or something. Yugyeom too, if he wants to join us. Bin can’t overexert himself at the cinema, right? That way the two of you can spend more time together, it might help you sleep better.”

Oh god, he can’t. He really can’t. He’s so behind with his essay, there’s already a chance he’ll have to back out of dance practice tomorrow evening if he doesn’t make adequate progress tonight.

“I…” he hesitates, feeling torn. He wants to, more than anything he wants to. Fuck, he hates turning people down though, especially his new hyungs.

One of Hoseok’s hands slides up to settle over his sternum. “You’re worried about something,” the empath murmurs softly. “What is it, sweetheart? You can tell me.”

Fuck it.

“It’s so dumb,” he confesses, frustrated with himself. “I wanna go out with you all the time, but I was an idiot and forgot about my stupid essay, and it’s due in by midnight on Sunday and I haven’t even started writing it yet. And I keep agreeing to hang out with everyone because I really wanna, but tomorrow…I just can’t. I gotta work on my paper. I'm really sorry.”

Hoseok turns him around slowly, his gaze sympathetic but his smile fond as he cradles the youth’s face between his hands.

“No wonder you’re so distracted,” the empath murmurs. “Baby, why didn’t you say something sooner? We’d never dream of using up all your free time like this if we knew you had a paper due. C’mon, let’s get you home. You’ve still got a few hours to work on it before your art class, right?”

Before Jungkook can even think to protest, the empath is reaching for his hand again, tugging him along towards the tunnel leading back to the previous room. Jimin and Tae are waiting there, the fledgling vampire smiling at him indulgently, his arm looped through Jimin’s.

“You guys are so cute together,” Taehyung coos, and Jungkook feels himself blush at the realisation that his bondmate had deliberately hung back to allow him time alone with Hoseok.

Jimin’s matching smile fades a little as he glances between them. “Hyung? Is everything alright?”

Oh no. Jungkook never should’ve opened his dumb mouth. Now Hoseok’s going to cut the date short, and they aren’t even halfway through the aquarium yet. Tae and Jimin are gonna be so disappointed that they never got to show Jungkook that Italian restaurant they’ve been hyping up all afternoon. And it’s all his fault. Fuck.

“Everything’s fine,” he interjects brightly. “We were just coming to look for you.”

Hoseok squeezes his hand. “Kookie-”

“I didn’t mean to make it sound like an emergency,” he insists, turning to look up at the vampire guiltily. “I still wanna hang out with you guys today, I just don’t know if I can do it every day, that’s all.”

The empath doesn’t look convinced.

“What’s wrong?” Taehyung asks, coming up beside Jungkook to wrap an arm around him. “You’re upset.”

Jungkook shakes his head with a smile he hopes looks convincing. “I was just telling hyung about this essay I need to write for school,” he elaborates. “But it’s not super urgent, I still have the rest of the week to finish it. We don’t have to cut the date short, honest.”

“Are you sure, honey?” Jimin asks, leaning against Taehyung as he studies Jungkook’s face. “You’re still looking pretty tired. I promise we won’t mind if you wanna leave early, we can take you out for dinner another day.”

Tugging on Hoseok’s hand, Jungkook decides to make use of the doe-eyes he’s been gifted with.

“I don’t wanna leave,” he insists plaintively. “I wanna see the rest of the aquarium.” He glances over at Jimin and Tae, affecting his most hopeful expression. “You promised we’d get gelato for dessert, right?”

Taehyung makes a strangled sound of adoration and wraps himself around Jungkook like an overly affectionate barnacle.

“You’re too fucking adorable,” the vampire complains. “Ugh, my heart. You can have all the gelato you want, baby.”

“I second that,” Jimin agrees, smiling at Jungkook indulgently. “C’mon, cutie, let’s go find those sharks.”

Hoseok seems to have relented the topic easily enough, allowing himself to be pulled along by his younger mates without protest. However, he does seem to keep a closer watch on Jungkook for the remainder of the date, never straying more than an arm’s length away from him, and more than once the younger man catches Hoseok watching him with a faintly furrowed brow.

Fuck. He knows.

 

 

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Did ya'll see Jimin HUGGING EUNWOO THIS WEEK because that was the cutest shit ever, FINALLY some wholesome BTS/Astro skinship. I recommend watching the fancams on twitter, our smol Min literally RUNS to go hug Eunwoo, I'm so soft. 

Chapter Text

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“-how about you, Kook?”

Startling a little, having been drifting in his own thoughts for god knows how long, Jungkook glances across the picnic table to find Yugyeom watching him expectantly.

“Sorry.” Smiling in apology, he gives himself a mental shake, trying to draw his focus back to the conversation at hand. “I kinda spaced out for a minute there. What was the question?”

Moonbin gently nudges him in the side. “Never mind a minute, hyung – your head’s been someplace else the whole time we’ve been out here.”

“Yeah, man, you feeling okay?” Yugyeom probes, tilting his head a little to one side as he studies Kook more closely. “You’ve barely touched your food.”

Jungkook glances down at his uneaten lunch, quickly stuffing a piece of kimbap into his mouth to assuage his friends’ concerns.

“M’just tired,” he reassures thickly, still chewing. “Class was so fucking dull this morning. I swear Professor Lee speaks in a monotone on purpose just to test our endurance.”

Yugyeom hums in sympathy, sliding the open share-bag of shrimp snacks across the table towards him. “I’ll go grab us a coffee, that’ll perk you up. Binnie, you want anything?”

“Choco frap?” the werecat requests hopefully.

“You and your chocolate milk,” Yugyeom teases with a smile, flicking a bottle cap at him. “Sure, kitten. Back in five.”

Jungkook shovels down another bite of kimbap and a handful of shrimp puffs as he watches the wolf weave his way between the picnic tables dotted around the grassy plateau, pace quickening into a jog when he reaches the path and turns to head back towards the campus food court nearby.

He probably should’ve decline Yugyeom’s offer, but to be honest, he could really use the pick-me-up. Jungkook’s already had three coffees today, but due to his bunny hybrid genes he metabolises caffeine frustratingly fast, so the wakeful post-coffee buzz only tends to last an hour or so; after Mr Lee’s mind-numbing lecture on European trade laws, he feels like he’s beginning to lose the basic ability to function. Normally he tries not to exceed two cups of coffee a day, but sometimes exceptions have to be made for survival’s sake, and today is definitely one of those days.

Back when he was still working crazy part-time hours, caffeine boosts had been a frequent necessity, but Jungkook’s also ninety percent sure his previous coffee habit was partly to blame for the frequent migraines and intermittent insomnia that had plagued him for months on end. Namjoon had asked him a lot of gently probing questions about his daily caffeine intake after his fainting spell the other week, so Jungkook assumes the healer had also come to that same conclusion. He knows he should try to curb the habit, especially now that he isn’t working weekdays at Euphoria anymore – it was the café’s generous policy of providing free hot and cold drinks to staff during their designated breaks that had really kick-started his coffee dependency in the first place, since that was generally where Kook used to get his caffeine fix for the whole day. He otherwise relied on crappy instant coffee granules from the one-hundred yen store, since most local coffee shops try to charge a small fortune for even a basic Americano – seriously, prior to his recent boost in finances, he could still count on one hand the number of times he’d bought himself a Starbucks. It’s not like he missed out on it entirely – he never says no if Yugyeom or one of the Im-pack hyungs offer to buy something for him (it’s coffee, and realistically he’ll never be able say no to coffee), and on a few occasions where customer tips had been super generous, he’s treated himself to an iced mocha on the way home from work.

He’s a little stunned to realise that his previous Starbucks tally has literally quadrupled over the course of the past few days – the nearest chain is only a five minute brisk walk from his apartment complex, and it stays open well into the early hours of the morning, which has been an absolute blessing this past week in some respects while he’s been burning the midnight oil, but probably super detrimental to his health overall. Not to mention expensive.

The more he thinks about it…god, it’s shameful. Two weeks ago he never would’ve dreamed of throwing away his salary like that, and it almost scares him just how easy it is to spend money nowadays. The hyungs keep encouraging him to treat himself, but there’s still a part of him that feels like the money isn’t entirely his, not really. He still hasn’t quite plucked up the courage to purchase anything more indulgent than a set of fancy watercolours for his art class, but since Tae and Jimin keep insisting they all go clothes shopping together for their next date, he has a feeling that might change very soon. He’s seen the designer labels they wear, so he knows what kind of stores they’ll end up dragging him along to, and he’s already internally wincing at the dent it’ll put in his bank account.

“You haven’t been sleeping, have you?” Moonbin surmises quietly, startling him out of his thoughts again.

Jungkook stuffs another couple of bites of kimbap into his mouth to avoid needing to answer that one verbally.

“Mm?” he points to his chest as though to say who, me? His cheeks are still bulging with food, so he makes a concerted effort to widen his eyes just a little and look perfectly awake. 

Moonbin shuffles closer to his side (having opted to straddle the bench to avoid needing to lift his bulky cast up and over the seat), clearly taking great care not to brace himself against his injured leg. When Namjoon had given the werecat a fitted boot to cover the open toes of his cast, it had been with strict instructions that he still wasn’t allowed to put any weight on it, and so far Binnie’s been a model patient. It probably helps that none of them have actually given the werecat the opportunity to mobilise on his own yet; if Yugyeom and Jungkook aren’t available to piggy-back him around campus, Sanha and Rocky are doing it for them, and JinJin has temporarily adjusted his schedule at the photography studio so that he can drive Bin to and from school every day, despite the cat’s insistence that he’s perfectly capable of using his crutches. Moonbin tries to act like their fussing is unnecessary, but Jungkook can tell that he’s secretly enjoying being the centre of the pack’s attention – at least for the time being. Give it another week and he’ll probably be trying sneak away from them to play basketball or something, stubborn kitten.

“You haven’t been yourself these past few days,” Moonbin continues softly, brow creased a little in concern as he studies Jungkook’s face. “Is it your essay? I know you hate midterm deadlines.”

Even the mere mention of his half-finished disaster of a paper makes Jungkook’s stomach churn, chest tightening for a brief moment as the panic wells back up again. He’s been trying so hard not to think about it all day (and other than a two-minute freakout in the bathroom earlier, he’s coped just fine, thank you), but those anxious feelings have still been present, simmering just below the surface, threatening to clog up his throat at any moment. He takes a careful, steadying breath, pretending to need another few seconds to swallow his non-existent mouthful of food, and uses the brief pause to firmly push the wave anxiety back down again.

“I’m like halfway done already, it’s cool,” he reassures, trying to sound blasé about it despite feeling anything but. “And I’ve still got another three days before it’s due, I’ll be finished in plenty of time. I guess it’s a lot easier now that I’m not working so many hours at Euphoria.

Except previously, he would’ve written a big essay like this well in advance, making sure that a rough draft was finished several days before the deadline so that he had ample time for redrafts and touch-ups. Jungkook’s never been in the habit of procrastinating, and he’s definitely never had to scramble to find data and resources last-minute, because he knows how stressed he gets over stuff like this…but meeting Tae and the others had really knocked his carefully-maintained schedule out of whack. He’d gone a whole week without studying, without even thinking about his paper, and now reality’s giving him a good, hard slap in the face.

“But you’re not getting enough sleep,” Moonbin reiterates, arms wrapping around him in a side-on cuddle, a soft pout audible in his voice. “You promised me you’d call if the stress started getting bad again.”

“It’s not that bad,” Jungkook tries to deny, but after finding himself fixed with one of Binnie’s most unimpressed looks, he quietly amends, “It’s definitely been worse.”

He’s not technically lying. He hasn’t thrown up yet or had a full-blown panic attack like he did before last month’s module exam, so that’s a plus. Although admittedly, it’s early days yet – he has a feeling things won’t be quite so peachy on Sunday evening when the deadline’s only hours away.

Don’t think about it, don’t think about it…

“That’s not the point, hyung,” Bin sighs against Kookie’s throat, nuzzling the skin there the way he often does when he’s worried. “You’re still eating enough, right?”

Jungkook nods, lips quirking up in a more genuine smile. “Like a king. Seriously, if the hyungs keep bringing me dinner and snacks after school, I’m gonna put on so much weight this semester.”

He has a feeling all the extra feeding-up is Hoseok’s doing. Ever since his confession at the aquarium the other day, the vampire has definitely been keeping closer tabs on him – yesterday morning, he’d stepped outside his apartment to find the empath leaning against a lamppost under a stylish parasol, waiting for Jungkook with breakfast and a sunny smile. Despite Jungkook’s fatigue (having slept for barely a couple of hours after a woefully unproductive night of essay writing), seeing Hoseok had been a wonderful pick-me-up. And the food had been really good – Seokjin’s home-baking is seriously second to none, especially paired with the perfect hot beverage.

“Can’t have fruit scones without tea,” Hobi had insisted, passing Jungkook a beautifully-patterned thermos flask once they were settled in the car. “It’s a new herbal blend Yoongi’s been working on, he said it’d help with your day. Oh, and Joon wanted you to take these vitamin supplements, here...”

The tea really had helped with his day, actually. Jungkook still isn’t sure what the herbal blend consisted of, but it had been sweet and light, refreshing and warming all at once, and for a little while his aching muscles had felt a reprieve from their previous tension.

Clearly the coven are all in cahoots, because Jimin had been waiting for him after class yesterday afternoon, the dancer ditching his motorbike in favour of a sensible car because, in his words, “Jin-hyung packed way too many snacks”. And the vampire hadn’t been exaggerating – the bags of colourful Tupperware boxes had taken up most of the backseat. There had been assorted baked goods, several different pre-prepped dinners with detailed heating instructions, savoury rice balls wrapped in seaweed, various sliced fruits and fresh berries (likely from Namjoon’s greenhouse), little pots of lightly spiced nuts, and even a few small tubs of M&Ms that Jungkook has a suspicion were Taehyung’s doing.

So yeah, he definitely isn’t short on food.

Granted, actually remembering to eat is still something of a challenge whenever he gets super absorbed in essay-writing (he doesn’t do it on purpose, but that simmering anxiety completely eradicates his usually irrepressible appetite, and if he isn’t feeling hungry at the time then he just doesn’t think about food). Although he’s been periodically getting text messages from Yoongi, a casual “How was dinner, bun?” or “Have you tried the strawberry tarts? Tae helped make them”, and Jungkook always feels obligated to go grab something from the kitchen so that he can answer the Seer truthfully – which, in hindsight, was probably Yoongi’s intention all along.

Also? Turns out the strawberry tarts are amazing.

“And you went to bed at a reasonable time?” Moonbin persists doubtfully. Fuck, the cat really does know him far too well. “You didn’t stay up all night working on your essay?”

Jungkook opens his mouth, ready with an easy dismissal of his roommate’s concerns, but the words get stuck in his throat. Damnit. He’s never been good at straight-up lying to Bin’s face.

“I slept,” he answers, somewhat vaguely.

“Uh-huh.” Bin pulls back a little, eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Before or after three?”

Jungkook winces, definitely caught. “…after?”

The werecat thumps him in the shoulder, not hard enough to actually hurt, but Jungkook makes a noise of protest all the same.

“It wasn’t intentional! I just hit a really good flow and didn’t wanna stop,” he pacifies, with his most convincing smile. By good flow, he means that it had only taken him nine hours, two cups of coffee, a lot of pacing and a couple of brief crying spells to write the first few pages of his essay, instead of just staring at the open document in despair like he had done all Tuesday night – but Binnie doesn’t need to know that. “And tomorrow’s Friday – my first class isn’t until ten-thirty so I can sleep in late. C’mon, Bin, don’t look at me like that…”

Moonbin stares at him intently a few moments longer, then sighs and leans in for another cuddle.

“I just don’t want you to get sick again, hyung,” the werecat murmurs softly, rubbing his cheek against Jungkook’s shoulder. “Everything’s been going great since you met your new hyungs and quit your nightshift job – you’ve been sleeping better and eating more and smiling all the time. But today you look awful again, and I know it’s because of your essay. Maybe…maybe I should come home with you tonight? Just to keep you company.”

“Binnie, we’ve been over this,” Jungkook sighs, fingers carding through the werecat’s hair. “The elevator’s out again, and you can’t climb all those the stairs with a broken leg. I’m fine, okay? You don’t need to worry about me so much.”

His roommate just hugs him tighter.

Jungkook feels a pang of guilt for having made the werecat so concerned, wishing he was a better actor or as good at doing makeup as Eunwoo so that he could hide the evidence of his recent insomnia. Thing is, he knows Bin’s right – his physical health and sleeping pattern had been at a constant peak last week after he dropped all his part-time hours and began hanging out with Tae and the others, but ever since he started making his body work academic double-shifts hunched over his laptop at home, things have gone rapidly downhill. He knows he looks like shit, and no amount of concealer under his eyes or caffeine in his system can really compensate for multiple consecutive sleepless nights and his current state of near-constant anxiety.

He hates that uni work always has to come with so much emotional baggage. Moonbin and Yugyeom both have projects to complete for their own degrees, but neither of them get stupidly upset and anxious over deadlines, not in the same way that he does. It’s honestly ridiculous. He wishes there was an easy way to just switch off the part of him that actually gives a fuck about his academic performance; to silence the little voice in his head that’s constantly second-guessing every sentence he writes and picking holes in his essay narrative, reminding him how much of a failure he is.

Thing is, deep down, Jungkook knows he’s got the brains to succeed. He’s a straight-A student (has been since high school, because that’s what his parents expected of him) and even if he always had to work really fucking hard to make the grade, he’s never fallen short of the mark. Surely after all those years of being a swot, writing an essay should come easy to him. It frustrates him to no end that every paper and quiz and mock-exam has to become such a huge challenge in his mind. Why can’t he just roll with it like the rest of his cohort? He knows at least three students in his class who haven’t even started their essays yet, and none of them seem even a little bit bothered by the impending deadline. He wishes he had their easy indifference. Why does coursework always seem so impossible?

Deep down, he knows the answer to that one, too.

It’s because he hates this fucking degree. It’s because failure isn’t a viable option with his scholarship on the line, and with literally everyone (his professors, his classmates, his parents) expecting him to come out on top like the good student he is. It’s because every single test, essay and presentation that he has to work so fucking hard to complete is a stark reminder that he’s trapped in this academic nightmare for at least another two years with no chance of escape. And on top of all that, there’s the overarching knowledge that all this effort – all the sacrifices he’s making now, all the student-life experiences he’s losing out on – and all the stress he’s going through, everything will eventually just channel him straight into a soul-sucking business career that he’ll hate even more.

It’s hell, and he’s stuck here.

“Kookie,” Moonbin says firmly, giving him a little shake.

Jungkook startles back to reality, hands aching where he’s clenched them into fists beneath the table, and sucks in a shaky breath. His face feels flushed, but there’s a chill tingling down his spine, and he resists the urge to wrap his arms around himself.

Shit. Has his heart always been beating this fast?

“Hey,” Bin’s hand slides up to cup his cheek, worry in his eyes. “You don’t look so good-”

“I come bearing gifts!” Yugyeom calls jovially as he jogs back up the path towards them, a cardboard takeout tray of drinks held aloft, and Jungkook gently nudges Bin’s hand back down into his lap to force a wan smile as the werewolf sets his tray down with a flourish, dropping into his seat on the opposite side of the picnic table and distributing the cold beverages among them. “Here we go – chocolate milk for the dairy-addict, and caffeine for the sleepyhead.”

“Thanks, man,” Jungkook manages in a voice that by some miracle doesn’t wobble, grateful for the distraction as he takes several large gulps of his iced Americano, grounding himself in the familiar taste, posture relaxing a little as the pain in his chest is soothed by the chilled liquid caressing his throat. He smiles at Yugyeom around his straw. “S’good.”

“Anything for you, bae,” the wolf returns, blowing him a kiss as he reaches for his own drink. Then Yugyeom pauses, straw to his lips, observing the third person at their table. “What’s with the frown, kitten?” He glances between Jungkook and Moonbin, his nose crinkling a little. “Did something happen?”

Don’t bring it up. Please don’t bring it up.

“We’re good,” Jungkook tries to deny, and drops a hand to squeeze Moonbin’s fingers where they rest on his waist, hoping to reassure his roommate that he really is okay because the cat’s still looking at him with a faintly furrowed brow and it’s going to make Yugyeom suspicious if he keeps it up. “Bin’s just fussing ‘cause I look tired.”

“No, it’s something more than that,” the werewolf insists perceptively, putting his drink back down again to lean forwards a little, elbows on the table as he scrutinises Jungkook for a moment. “I can tell you’re upset, your scent’s off.”

The air is starting to feel thick and hot, and the background chatter from the tables nearby is clamouring in Jungkook’s ears, the world around him feeling very small all of a sudden despite being out in the open.

“Is it your paper?” Yugyeom asks quietly, sympathetically. “It’s due this weekend, right?”

Fuck. Don’t think about it, don’t think about it-

“Sunday,” Moonbin confirms distractedly, fingers lightly tugging on Jungkook’s shirt to try and get his attention. “Hyung, your heart’s going crazy. Is it too loud out here?”

“Maybe we should head indoors,” Yugyeom agrees. “You wanna go to the library? Bin and I won’t mind if you need to work on your paper, Kook.”

Moonbin pats his waist again. “You should try to finish your lunch first,” he murmurs. “You’ve only had like three mouthfuls. Aren’t you hungry?”

It’s too much, too loud, too close, and his friends’ voices seem to overlap in his ears above the rapid beating of his own heart. That sickly churning from before twists in his stomach as a surge of panic bubbles up, skewering Jungkook straight through the sternum with a suddenness that knocks the breath out of him. The frightening pressure builds in his chest within a matter of seconds until he feels ready to explode, and before Jungkook even registers the movement, his hand is slamming down on the surface of the picnic table with a resounding bang.

“Would you both just stop?!”

The silence that follows seems to last an eternity, lingering torturously in Jungkook’s ringing ears. Just as quickly as that all-consuming panic had risen up, it ebbs away again, leaving him feeling shaky and sick to his stomach as he’s bombarded with an onslaught of guilt, shame, regret, regret, regret…

“I…” Kookie croaks, his chest still far too tight, his breathing shallow and rapid, overwhelmed with remorse at the sight of his friends’ stunned faces.

Yugyeom’s shock shifts to concern, the wolf half-rising from his seat as he reaches across the table towards him. “Kookie-”

Jungkook’s vision blurs, his eyes burning wetly.

Oh god. He can’t break down. Not now, not here, not in public.

He feels Yugyeom’s gentle fingers brush against his cheek, and his body moves of its own accord, sending him stumbling back from the bench on shaky legs. There’s a painful lump in his throat now, and Jungkook’s so close to crying, he knows the slightest show of tactile affection from either one of them is going to be his undoing.

“I’m sorry,” he manages. “I…I’ll see you later.”

He snatches up his backpack from the grass, slinging it over his shoulder as he quickly turns to leave.

“Hyung,” Moonbin voices, alarmed and upset, already pushing himself up from the bench.

Jungkook freezes because oh god, why isn’t he using his crutches, instinctively moving to intercept Binnie and prevent him from putting any more weight on his injured leg, but thankfully Yugyeom has already noticed the cat’s oversight, jumping up from his own seat with a quiet curse to dart around the table and wrap a strong arm around Moonbin’s waist, propping him up a little as he threatens to overbalance. Seeing that his roommate is no longer at risk of injuring himself further, Jungkook turns around again and resumes his hasty retreat, determinedly blocking out the concerned calls of his best friends and ignoring the curious looks being sent his way from other tables nearby.

With Binnie to look after, Yugyeom won’t be able to follow him, at least not quickly enough to see which building he slips into. And the wolf is good at tracking, but the campus is a veritable mixing pot of hybrid scents, there’s no way he’ll be able to find him before class resumes, not if Jungkook hides in a bathroom that he never usually goes to.

Thankfully nobody stops him or even looks at him twice as he sprints through the campus and into the science building, ducking past a hoard of chemistry students who are hanging up banners and posters for their department’s annual charity event, making a beeline for the familiar sign at the end of the hallway.

His vision is so blurry it’s a miracle he doesn’t run into anyone, but he manages not to let the tears fall until the stall door is securely locked behind him and he’s dropped down onto the closed lid of the toilet, chest heaving and body shaking. Jungkook’s ears are still ringing, his breathing ragged, heart pounding in his chest.

Yugyeom and Moonbin’s shocked, hurt expressions flicker to the forefront of his mind, and that’s all it takes for the last vestiges of his self-control to crumble away.

Scrunching up the sleeves of his baggy hoodie in clenched fists, Jungkook presses both hands to his mouth to muffle the sound as he finally breaks down, hot tears leaving burning trails down his cheeks and dripping silently to the tiled floor beneath his feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Are you sure you’re okay to go home?” Yugyeom asks him gently, arms tightening around Jungkook. “Maybe you shouldn’t be on your own tonight. JB-hyung won’t mind if I crash at your place, you want me to ask him?”

The three of them are cuddled up on a bench beneath one of the old lyra trees near the drop-off zone, Moonbin and Yugyeom pressing in close on either side of him in the best three-way cuddle ever.

“I’ll be fine,” Jungkook reassures, and finds he actually means it this time. “I just wanna get this stupid essay over and done with so I can go back to having a social life, y’know? As soon as it’s finished, I’ll come hang out with the pack for a movie night or something, I promise.”

Crying his heart out in the chemistry department’s bathroom had done wonders for Jungkook’s stress levels, even if it’s managed to further deplete his energy reserves. Clearly he’d been needing that outlet for some time. He’s fucking exhausted, sure, but in terms of mental stability he genuinely feels like a new man, the tightness in his chest all but gone now, the tension in his muscles significantly eased. That ever-present feeling of anxiety is still bubbling away beneath the surface, but it’s a very low simmer now, and he no longer feels like the slightest mention of essays or deadlines will push him into a full-blown panic attack.

Jungkook still feels pretty shit about the way he’d reacted to Yugyeom and Binnie’s concerns, though. He’d been too ashamed to seek them out or return all the missed calls at the end of lunch (he hadn’t wanted to worry them further, what with his eyes still red-rimmed and his face all blotchy from crying), but he’d written a heartfelt message of apology in their groupchat, and that had eased his conscience enough that he was able to sit through his afternoon lecture without too much discomfort.

And because his friends are literally the best people in the whole wide world, he’d found them waiting for him outside the business and economics department at the end of class, Yugyeom opening his arms invitingly with a sympathetic smile the moment their eyes met.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook had gushed, throwing himself against the werewolf’s chest for a tight hug before reaching out to carefully draw Moonbin in too, mindful not to overbalance the werecat on his crutches. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that. I was just super tense and kinda freaking out, I didn’t mean to…”

They’d both forgiven him in a heartbeat, clinging to him as tightly as he had to them, before pulling back to study his face carefully. Apparently satisfied that he wasn’t on the verge of breaking down again (the redness had thankfully dissipated during class), they’d coaxed him into relocating to the drop-off zone to await their respective hyungs, and Yugyeom and Bin have since made it their objective to cuddle Jungkook within an inch of his life and give him the tactile affection he’s been craving these past few days all in one sitting.

“Will you at least take a nap before you start working?” Moonbin requests, his cheek smushed against Jungkook’s shoulder. “You look exhausted, hyung.”

Jungkook winces. Unfortunately, there’s no hiding the bags under his eyes now that his tears have washed away the thick layer of concealer he’d applied that morning. He’d seen himself in the bathroom mirror after his crying fit, he knows he looks awful.

“I’ll try,” he answers, and it’s the best he can offer. He wants to try, for Bin’s sake if not for his own, but there’s really no telling if his brain will actually allow him to rest when there’s still so much work to be done.

Clearly appeased, Moonbin presses a kiss to the side of throat and snuggles in closer. “Thank you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hyung,” Jungkook tries to protest, although it definitely comes out more like a whine. “This really isn’t necessary.”

Hosoeok ignores him and continues on up the stairs at a steady pace, apparently unhindered by Jungkook’s weight.

“You’re tired, sweetheart,” the empath had insisted when he first suggested the piggy-back. “And the elevator’s still broken, isn’t it? Come on, let hyung carry you.”

Even though it makes him feel a little bit pathetic, Jungkook’s still grateful that he doesn’t have to trudge up eight flights on his weary, shaky legs. And the piggy-back is nice. Hoseok moves slowly so as not to jostle him, and Jungkook can’t resist letting his head sink down and closing his eyes briefly as another wave of fatigue rolls through him.

Maybe he’ll be able to keep his promise to Binnie about taking a nap after all.

“I’ve got a dance workshop tomorrow morning,” Hoseok murmurs to him, soft footfalls echoing around the stairwell as he continues his ascent. “I know your classes start later on a Friday, and you really ought to sleep in as much as you can, so Jiminie’s going to pick you up at nine-thirty, okay? I’ll be there in the afternoon to take you home again.”

Jungkook smiles and nods against the vampire’s shoulder. He really ought to insist that he’s capable of getting to school on his own, but having the hyungs checking up on him like this feels good. Although he’s glad that his prolonged (and very much overdue) crying session earlier has effectively drained the stress out of him, otherwise god knows what Hoseok would’ve thought when he picked him up at the drop-off zone.

“You falling asleep back there?” the empath queries, a fond smile in his voice.

“Mm,” Jungkook hums, eyes still closed.

Hoseok laughs quietly as he slows to a halt. “Stay awake just one more minute, baby, I need you to open your door for me. Here, I’ve got your keys, there we go…now if I bend down, can you punch in your code – atta boy.”

The quietness of the apartment is still a little jarring (even now, he expects to hear Moonbin shuffling around in the bedroom or fixing himself a snack in the kitchen), but with Hoseok humming a cheerful tune under his breath, that hollow feeling quickly abates.

Instead of setting him down near the door, the vampire nudges it closed behind them and carries him through the apartment to the bedroom. With the utmost care, he crouches down to gently deposit Jungkook on the edge his bed, then turns to help relieve him of his backpack, shoes and jacket.

Honestly, the mere sight of his pillow is enough to trigger a resurgence of Jungkook’s exhaustion, and he blinks a few times to keep his gaze focused even as he sways a little.

“Okay…bedtime, sleepyhead,” Hoseok murmurs fondly, taking him by the shoulders to gently coax him into lying down, tugging the covers out from underneath him and tucking him in. “Your phone’s right here on your nightstand, bun. I’ve set an alarm for six-thirty because you’ll need wake up and eat something, even if you go right back to bed afterwards. You still have one of Jinnie-hyung’s dinners left, right?”

Jungkook nods sleepily. He’s pretty sure there’s at least three meals’ worth of pre-prepped food all neatly boxed up in his fridge, more than enough for dinner and a couple of late-night snacks to keep his energy levels up while he’s working. Thank god for Seokjin.

The empath takes a seat on the edge of the mattress, fingers gently smoothing Jungkook’s fringe back from his forehead.

“You want me to stay?” Hoseok offers quietly.

Yes, his hearts insists.

“No, I’ll be okay,” his traitorous mouth replies. “But thank you.”

Hoseok regards him silently for a moment, still stroking his forehead, clearly debating whether or not to believe him.

Jungkook sends the empath a reassuring, if somewhat sleepy smile, blinking up at him hazily. While he’d love the vampire to stay and snuggle with him, he does need to crack on with his essay eventually, and he doesn’t know if he’ll have the emotional strength to ask Hoseok to leave when the time comes. And letting the empath see him get all worked up over his studies definitely isn’t an option. He already knows Hoseok suspects that this essay is a huge source of stress for him (why else would he be keeping such close tabs on Kookie this week?) but it’s unlikely that he understands the true extent of Jungkook’s anxieties. And it needs to stay that way.

After another beat, Hoseok seems to relent, his face full of warmth and affection as he leans in to press his lips to Jungkook’s brow in a lingering kiss. Then he feathers another soft peck against each cheek and the tip of Jungkook’s nose, before finally dipping down to softly capture his lips.

It feels so natural, so right, that Jungkook doesn’t experience that same whoosh of excitement in his stomach that he had done with Tae and Jimin during their first kiss. Instead, it’s all blooming warmth and rippling contentment, a cosy sensation that fans out from his chest all the way down to his toes, making his whole body hum.

Despite his fatigue, Jungkook still presses up a little to return the kiss, feeling Hoseok smile against his lips even as the empath gently eases him back down again.

“Sleep,” the vampire whispers, pressing their foreheads together for a moment, a hand gently cradling his cheek. “I’ll see you tomorrow, beautiful.”

Maybe it’s because he’s so tired, or maybe it’s the empath’s ability to calm him down so completely with little more than a tender touch, but Jungkook feels himself drifting off before Hoseok has even turned away from the bedside, a teeny-tiny smile of contentment on his lips as he slips into a cosy slumber.

 

 

(He wakes up scarcely two hours later with his heart in his throat and his unfinished essay at the forefront of his mind, but that’s okay, because nobody’s there to witness his ensuing meltdown.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

00:03

Fuck, it’s Sunday.

He has less than twenty-four hours until his essay needs to be submitted electronically, and he still has so much editing to do. He’s four hundred words over the upper limit, he hasn’t even written his final concluding statement yet, and he can’t find anything substantial to cut from the main body of his narrative without unbalancing the neutrality of his argument.

God, he’s just about ready to pull his own hair out in frustration.

Knuckling at his tired, burning eyes, Jungkook huffs out a tense sigh, rolling his shoulders to ease the ache that’s built up in his spine after hours sitting hunched over his laptop. He reaches over without looking for his bowl of beef stew on the edge of the coffee table (the last of Jin’s pre-prepped dinners), savouring the mouthful of tender meat and potato and rich gravy. He’s already had to reheat it twice, and it’s gone a little cold again while he’s been lost in thought, but it still tastes really fucking good. He isn’t particularly hungry any more (hasn’t been all day, to be honest), but he knows his body needs the fuel right now, and he isn’t sure it’s a good idea to drink any more caffeine. Fast metabolism or not, there’s probably a limit to how much his body can take, and he’s fairly sure he might have exceeded it already.

He glances briefly towards the row of empty Starbucks coffee cups and miniature cans of LunarBoost energy drink lined up along the far side of the coffee table, a testament to how brutal his battle with sleep has been for the past six hours since he returned from his shift at Euphoria. Wonho had nearly sent him home early, despite Jungkook’s liberal use of concealer to cover up the worst of the eye-bags, because there’s really no hiding the pallor to his skin or the bloodshot whites of his eyes. Thank god Sanha had decided to take the full week off to spend more time with Binnie during his recovery, or the Park pack would definitely be onto him by now – the younger bunny is a loyal friend, but he’d rat Kook out to JinJin or JB in a heartbeat if he thought the elder was coming down with something.

As it is, neither Alpha seems aware of Jungkook’s current state of crisis, so for the time being he’s been left relatively undisturbed by both packs. The Kim coven, on the other hand…

Well, Yoongi and Hoseok have already sent him a dozen messages apiece over the course of the evening, most of them variations of “don’t forget to eat”, “remember to take a break when you can” and “don’t push yourself too hard, baby”. Jungkook appreciates the sentiment, and feels touched by their concern, even if there’s a part of him that feels guilty and ashamed for basically outright ignoring most of their advice. There just isn’t time to take a break, and if he doesn’t push himself…

Deep breath. Move on. Don’t think about the deadline.

Clearly seeking to cheer him up, Jimin and Tae had sent him a bunch of adorable selfies earlier in the evening – one with the two of them blowing kisses towards the camera, another with them both holding a clenched fist aloft and grinning at him cheerfully with a little animated “Fighting!” banner flashing underneath, and a photo of Tae with his arms wrapped around Odengie’s broad neck and laughing as another griffin tugged on the back of his shirt with its beak.

Then there had been a couple of photos of Jimin dangling upside-down from a tree in what looked like Namjoon’s greenhouse, with Yoongi clearly visible in the background as he hurried towards the dancer with his arms outstretched, getting steadily closer in each photo. And the selfie that had followed soon after had been of Jimin looking a little shamefaced as he sat cuddled up on a plush couch with Namjoon, a compress in the healer’s hand and a faint bruise clearly blossoming near the dancer’s temple – Jungkook had been worried enough by that obvious series of events to break away from his essay-writing and send a concerned text to Taehyung, but the vampire had reassured him that Jimin’s pride was far more bruised than his head, and he was only sulking because of the scolding Jin had just given him.

That, at last, had made Jungkook smile. Jimin was handsome and confident and super hot, but he was also ridiculously cute sometimes, and Kook loved getting a brief glimpse of that side of him.

The final selfie, sent by Namjoon a little over an hour ago, was of the healer propped up against the dark satin pillows of someone’s four-poster bed and smiling up at the camera warmly as Taehyung dozed against his shoulder and Chim lay curled up on his chest, fast asleep.

“Goodnight, Jungkookie,” the accompanying caption had read. “Sweet dreams.”

The sight had been downright adorable, and Jungkook’s essay-crisis had abated for a brief moment as he cooed over the image and sent the healer smiling heart emojis in response.

The only recent text message that he hasn’t replied to yet is from Seokjin. He doesn’t want to deliberately ignore the vampire, but Jin is asking what time he can stop by in the morning to drop off breakfast and snacks…and Jungkook’s all too aware of the fact that he looks like death warmed over right now, and knows there’s absolutely no way in hell that Jin will just drop off the food and leave when he finally sees him.

The hyungs already worry about him over minor things, and if they find out how anxious and stressed he gets over basic uni work, they’re going to start asking questions, and Jungkook carefully-maintained image as a perfect student who doesn’t need help will very quickly crumble into dust.

Seokjin can’t see him like this. He just can’t. 

The vampire only texted him about twenty minutes ago, so he’s hoping Jin will just assume that Jungkook has finally gone to bed, and won’t take his silence as the guilty avoidance tactic that it is. There’s probably nothing he can do to stop Jin from coming over to visit him eventually, but he just has to hope that another cold shower and half a bottle of concealer is enough to make him look slightly less awful.

But that’s a problem for future Jungkook.

Finishing the bowl of stew in three large bites, he sets the empty bowl aside and hunches back over his laptop, scrubbing a hand down his face again. At least the end is in sight; it’s the final stretch now. He needs to write the conclusion, syphon out four-hundred words from somewhere, alphabetise his reference list, and then it’ll be all be over.

He can do this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuck, he can’t even think straight any more.

His head hurts, his back hurts, his chest hurts, and his eyes feels like they’re fully of sand, gritty and dry as he knuckles at them in frustration.

Pushing himself up from the couch, Jungkook paces the length of the small living room on unsteady legs, hands clenching and unclenching as his quickening pulse thrums in his ears. He’s been working on his paper’s conclusion for hours now, but he just can’t get it right, and the panic is really starting to get serious. Every sentence comes out wrong, disjointed, and he can’t seem to come up with the words he needs to even make it read coherently. His word count hasn’t changed at all in the past three hours, and his fuzzy head is getting worse, not better.

The freezing shower he’d taken a few minutes ago had definitely been enough of a shock to the system to wake him up, but now he can’t get warm again, Binnie’s fluffiest blanket wrapped around him like a cape as he paces to a fro, checking and re-checking the time on his phone every so often just in case he’s wasting precious minutes.

03:17

The night’s slipping away far too quickly. There’s no way he can go to bed, not yet, not until he’s completed the first draft and done a couple of read-throughs. And given his current rate of progress, god knows when that’s going to be.

He feels shaky. Sick to his stomach. Cold.

Dropping back down onto the couch, he wraps the blanket around himself a little tighter, alarmed at how badly his hands are trembling. He’s felt a little jittery all night, but after that last LunarBoost energy drink ten minutes ago, it’s like something inside of him is trying to shake its way out. And it hurts. His muscles ache like he’s been at the gym all day instead of hunkered down on the couch over his laptop, and no amount of pacing has eased the cramping in his calves.

Absently, his fingers slip beneath the collar of his t-shirt to wrap around the pendant Jin had given him last week. It’s become something of a self-soothing habit to run the pad of his thumb over the runes there and feel the gemstone warm up in his palm – it makes him feel like the coven is close, like they’re here with him, and even though it makes something inside of him ache with longing, it’s comforting, too.

God, he really wants a hug.

His eyes burn wetly again and he swears, scrubbing at them harshly with the corner of the blanket. That’s another thing that keeps happening periodically – he can’t seem to stop crying. And it’s so fucking frustrating, because he doesn’t have time for this shit, he needs to pull himself together-

But it’s too late. That tight band is wrapping cruelly around his chest again, and he leans forward with a choked noise of misery, trying to breathe through the mounting surge of anxiety, trying to push the panic back down again. He hates this, he hates it, he’s losing his fucking mind…

Jungkook lets go of the pendant to pinch the soft skin of his inner arm sharply, directly over the bruise that’s formed from previous pinches through the night, squeezing until it makes the whole area throb. Just like before, the pain is enough to yank him out of the dark haze again, and he sucks in several deep, ragged breaths, head spinning.

Bzzzzt.

Jungkook’s blurry gaze darts towards his phone where it rests on the edge of the coffee table, something in his stomach fluttering nervously when he sees the caller ID.

Why would Yoongi be phoning him at this hour?

None of the hyungs have messaged him since midnight, and he’d hoped they’d all assumed by his lack of reply to Seokjin that he’d gone to bed. But did Yoongi know otherwise? He knows the Seer’s gift of foresight can’t always accurately pinpoint the actions or whereabouts of an individual at any given moment, but he might be having one of his ‘hunches’, and if Yoongi suspects that Jungkook’s still awake and working on his essay at this hour…

The call ends, the screen of his phone dimming again, and Jungkook breathes a shaky sigh of relief, massaging his chest where his thundering heart feels like it’s ready to burst through his ribcage.

That last LunarBoost had definitely been a bad idea.

He tries to concentrate on his laptop again, squinting at the word document as the twinge in his temples transitions to a steady, all-too-familiar throb. Fuck, now really isn’t a good time to get migraine, he still has so much work to do. If his vision goes wonky, he won’t be able to proof-read with any kind of accuracy, and no amount of pain relief or cold compresses will alleviate that stabbing pain until he’s slept it off. But he doesn’t have time to sleep. It’s an absolute nightmare.

With a hoarse, frustrated groan, he presses his face into the fisted-up corners of his blanket to try and force his tears back, but the presence of Bin’s faint scent only serves to make him feel even shittier. If the werecat was here, he’d be making stupid jokes to distract Jungkook from his anxiety, curling around him for a comforting snuggle while he worked, dragging him off to bed for a nap and hiding the instant coffee when the elder reached his limit. Jungkook misses him more than ever. The apartment seems horribly empty tonight without Bin, and he feels so fucking lonely.

Stop crying, stop crying, stop crying-

Above the roar of his own heartbeat pulsing frantically in his ears, he hears a rustling sort of sound, like a whispery gust of wind, familiar somehow although he can’t quite place it.

Then he startles to hear footsteps rapidly approaching, and his head shoots up in the direction of the hallway, heart in his throat. His vision is blurry with tears, but he still recognises the tall figure hurrying towards him around the corner, his mouth falling open in shock as he sits up a little straighter.

“Hyung?”

Seokjin’s long, dark coat swishes behind him with the speed of his approach, his handsome features tense with concern as his crimson eyes flicker briefly around the living room before settling again on Jungkook as he sinks down to kneel directly in front of the couch, the legs of the coffee table squeaking against the floor as it seemingly moves away of its own accord to make room for the vampire.

“I’m here, you’re safe,” Jin soothes, reaching up to cradle his face between gentle hands, worried eyes scanning his features. “Are you hurt, little one?”

Jungkook’s still too stunned at the vampire’s sudden arrival to form a verbal response, but he gives a tiny shake of his head, one hand coming up instinctively to cling to Jin’s wrist.

Jin looks marginally relieved by his answer, leaning in to press his forehead against Jungkook’s.

“Yoongi said you were in danger,” the vampire breathes, and Jungkook is startled by how shaken he appears. “We tried calling you, but when you didn’t answer…”

The elder pauses. Silence lingers between them for a beat before he slowly pulls away to regard Jungkook more closely, brow furrowing anew as his thumbs tenderly wipe away the younger man’s tears.

“You look flushed, baby,” Jin murmurs, concerned, lifting a hand to feel Jungkook’s forehead. “Are you sick?” His fingers drop to settle over the hybrid’s throat, that look of concern deepening. “Your pulse is racing.”

Honestly, by this point, Jungkook can’t tell if it’s the shock, the caffeine or the mounting panic that’s making his heartbeat thunder away like that. His gaze briefly flickers towards the assortment of empty takeout coffee cups and LunarBoost cans, many of which had toppled over when Jin had used his magic-warlock powers to move the furniture aside.

Jin notices his eyes drifting, and turns his head a little to follow Jungkook’s line of sight before the younger can think to distract him, taking in the open laptop and the shameful evidence of Kookie’s caffeine binge at a quick glance.

“Kookie,” the vampire murmurs as he stares at the mess, his voice low and serious, a sudden tension in his posture that hadn’t been there before. “How many of those did you drink?”

The youth’s stomach is churning, the tightness in his chest that had abated at Jin’s tender touch suddenly returns with full force to knock the breath from Junglook, his eyes burning wetly with shame as the vampire turns back towards him. He can’t bring himself to answer – the lump in his throat hurts too much, and Jin’s going to be so disappointed,

Jin leans in again, hands now settling on Jungkook’s shoulders. “Are they all from tonight?” he presses, something faintly urgent underlying his tone. “Yes or no, baby.”

Knowing he’s been caught, knowing it’ll be impossible to lie and smile his way out of this one, Jungkook feels his resolve crumble, fresh tears spilling over as he nods. He’s so ashamed. Nobody was supposed to see him like this, broken and weak and pathetic, reduced to tears over a goddamn essay.

Hands cradle his face again, Jin pressing chaste, tender kisses over his cheeks and nose, even though Jungkook’s face probably looks all gross and tear-streaked.

“Okay,” the vampire breathes, resting their brows together again. “Okay.”

Jungkook isn’t sure if anything can be okay again ever, but it sounds reassuring coming from Seokjin’s lips, and he closes his eyes and tries to stop crying for the vampire’s sake.

“You’re going to be fine, treasure,” Jin soothes, fingers combing through Jungkook’s hair even though it’s probably still cold and damp from his most recent icy shower. “Hyung’s here, hyung’s got you. Let’s go home, Namjoonie’s waiting for us.”

Home?

Jungkook’s already shaking his head as the vampire pulls away to smile at him, nausea welling up again. His gaze flickers towards his laptop, the blurry paragraphs of his unfinished essay taunting him from the open word document.

“I can’t,” he says plaintively, voice rough and strained from crying. “G-gotta finish-”

“Kookie.” Jin’s expression is calm but serious, his sombre gaze arresting. And although his eyes have faded from a bright crimson to a burning amber, Jungkook still feels the words die in his throat at the intensity of them. “We’re going home to the nest, little one. You’re not well. You need Namjoon.”

The pressure in his chest is blooming hot again, and Jungkook can feel himself trembling even harder.

“I can’t,” he reiterates desperately, clutching onto Seokjin’s coat-sleeve, willing him to understand. “I’m not done yet, I…I need to finish it, hyung, it’s due tonight and I…there’s so much left to do-”

His words are coming out stuttered and disjointed between gasping breaths, and he can’t seem to suck in enough air to sustain himself, the room growing hot as his fingers start to tingle.

He can’t breathe. He can’t breathe.

Jungkook hears the vampire swear under his breath, and then he’s being swept up by a strong pair of arms, blanket and all. Jungkook’s own arms come up to wrap around Jin’s neck instinctively, even as he shakes his head again and tries to catch his breath enough to protest.

“Hyung, please,” he manages, his voice thick with tears. “I can’t, I need to…I have to finish it, I have to, don’t-”

The vampire turns his head to press gentle lips to Jungkook’s temple.

“I’ll come back for your computer, darling,” Jin murmurs against the youth’s hairline. “I promise.”

His blind panic recedes by a fraction, although it appears to be too little too late, because Jungkook just can’t seem to catch his breath. And he’s entirely given up on trying to stop crying, the brake pedal to his tear-ducts failed a long time ago.

“Close your eyes, dearheart,” Jin cautions, tucking Jungkook’s head down against his neck, and the youth obeys without question, still clinging onto the vampire as though his life depends on it. It’s entirely plausible that it does; he sure feels like he’s dying right now

That rustling, whispering wind picks up again, and this time Jungkook feels it, cold and fluttering as it bats against him, pulling at his hair and clothes. There’s a moment of complete disorientation, where his ears pop and his stomach lurches as the world around him grows completely silent, before bursting into sound again as the wind whips through his hair a second time.

Then Seokjin’s moving forward quickly, footsteps sounding muffled in Jungkook’s ringing ears, and the youth lifts his head from the vampire’s shoulder to peak at his surroundings, eyes widening at the sight of the manor house looming up in front of them as Jin swiftly carries him up the shadowy pavestone path towards the front door.

How the fuck-?

The wooden door swings open a split second later, casting the path in golden light, and Jungkook barely has time to blink before Namjoon is hurrying down the steps towards them. The healer’s still wearing the same plain back tee that Jungkook had seen in his selfie earlier that evening, and either the sleep deprivation is getting to him or the tattoos on Namjoon’s biceps are glowing faintly in the moonlight.

The healer reaches for him immediately, and although his smile is as calm and reassuring as ever, his gaze is intense as his fingers flutter to feel Jungkook’s brow, his pulse, his stuttering chest.

“Is he alright?” Yoongi comes careening out of the open front door behind Namjoon, looking faintly panicked.

“I need to get the caffeine out of his system,” the healer replies gravely, free hand tracing an irregular pattern over Jungkook’s chest, before tapping twice against his sternum. “There we go, sweetheart. Breathe for me.”

The tightness in Jungkook’s chest loosens immediately, but he’s so lightheaded by this point that all he can do is sag against Jin and suck in deep, shaky, ragged breaths.

“Go find Hobi, we need to calm him down,” Namjoon instructs, although Jungkook isn’t sure which nestmate he’s talking to now, because keeping his eyes open is making him feel really fucking dizzy. “I’ll grab what I need from the garden and meet you upstairs.” Lips press against Jungkook’s cheek, lingering there for a brief moment. “Don’t be scared, sweetheart. You're gonna be just fine.”

The churning in Jungkook’s stomach suddenly reaches a crescendo, and he tenses with a choked noise of alarm, trying to push himself away from Jin. He opens his eyes to find a clear spot to aim, but that just makes the nausea even worse, and oh god, it’s coming-

“He’s going to be sick,” Yoongi warns, his voice sounding very far away even though Jungkook’s certain he’s standing behind Namjoon. “Watch your shoes, Joon.”

Like many of the Seer’s predictions, that one comes to fruition with startling accuracy...

All over Namjoon’s fancy-ass loafers.

 

 

.