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The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

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It's happened more than Jeongguk cares to remember. Facing the angry faces of his teammates; Namjoon scolding him with a sad tone like he doesn't really want to do it but has to. It feels like he's reliving a moment he's lived a thousand times before and it makes it too easy to cool down the desire to defend himself and let Namjoon's disappointed words transform into a far away noise.

Yoongi is sitting in the corner, directly on the wooden floor; his head supported against the wall and his eyes closed as he takes a side role to the conversation.

"Do you realize the gravity of your behavior? Yoongi-hyung could've died." Namjoon says, anger seeping into his voice.

Jeongguk looks at the ceiling and takes a long breath "That demon was bluffing, he was too scared to do it." Jeongguk wouldn't have ignored the order to wait otherwise. He doesn't actually want to compromise the team.

"You didn't know that!" It's Hoseok who speaks this time, stepping nearer to Jeongguk "And that's what we're trying to tell you. You took an action based on your hunch, again , after you received a direct order."

"But I was right," Jeongguk feels the need to remind "the demon didn't hurt Yoongi-hyung. When I lunged at him, he simply turned tail and ran. I could've got him if you all didn't freak out and act like Yoongi-hyung was some fair maiden in need of rescue."

Namjoon's nose flairs, his chest rises in obvious anger. Seokjin shakes his head and Hoseok rubs at his eyes with his index and thumb, Taehyung keeps silence.

"This is not the point," Namjoon starts again after a while "it's not about you being right or wrong, it's about you acting on your own when you're a part of the team."

Jeongguk just wants this to be over already. It's taking longer than it should and it's not worth it. He should be out there following the demon's trail, not here getting a lecture he's heard almost every week for the past five years.

"I'm sorry, hyung," he tells Namjoon. Namjoon's shoulders slump and he nods at him. Jeongguk walks to Yoongi, stands in front of him and bows deeply "I'm sorry, Yoongi-hyung. I endangered you."

Yoongi waves his hand at him, not bothering to open his eyes. Jeongguk doesn't have the energy to give more than that so he straightens his back and walks out of the room, Hoseok's voice asking if Yoongi is truly alright the last he hears before he slides the door shut behind him.

He puts his shoes back on and walks out, the sound of his steps heavy on the rocky stairs of the temple. The night is cool; the full moon casting blue light over trees and grounds, making everything look darker in colour. The cherry blossoms that opened with the first days of spring appearing near purple, trunks of the trees more navy than brown. The breeze scatters the petals down in a shower, spreading the fresh scent of cherry flowers and making Jeongguk inhale deeply.

He reaches the edge of the large lake that's a part of the temple ground, its surface reflecting the moon, shining under its light. Everything is calm.

Too calm.

Jeongguk stills, closes his eyes to listen better. The silence around him is heavy, the presence of something inhuman disturbing the night. Jeongguk opens his eyes and jumps high, landing on a thick branch of a cherry tree, his eyes wide and unblinking as he strains to catch sight of what he's feeling.

The aura is malevolent but decidedly weak. It takes him less than a second to localize the source. Just outside of the temple's holy grounds. He lunges in that direction, leaping from a tree to another and finally over the great wall of the temple. Once he's out of the protection's range, the demon's aura is clearer and he runs faster.

It's the same demon that got away from them not half a day ago, and Jeongguk's blood boils. This lowly thing has mocked him, slipped right through his fingers. With the taste of losing their last encounter bitter on his tongue, Jeongguk unsheathes his sword with one fluid motion; ready for the fight.

The demon's human face elongates, skin peeling off to reveal black leather and sharp teeth, his eyes seeming to rip at the corner to turn into gaping circles of bleeding red. Claws make their way out of his hands, sharp and menacing. He opens his mouth and lets out an inhuman growl, spit frothing at the corners as he snarls at Jeongguk.

Jeongguk surges forward, slashing with his sword and the demon jumps back and retaliates with a hit of his vicious claws. Jeongguk ducks and swings his weapon once more, the peak of it catching the demon near his stomach; making him roar in pain. Jeongguk advances, lifting the sword to attack again but the creature retreats with big bounces backwards. He turns his back to Jeongguk and sprints, splitting the air as he escapes.

Jeongguk takes off in his trail, refusing to let him get away this time. The demon raises a clawed hand and slices at the air, the seams of reality splay and blinding light shines through. The tear floats in the air, a thin golden thread where the demon tore a door to another realm; he disappears into it. Jeongguk grits his teeth, hesitates for only a second before he follows him.

He lands in shallow water, the coolness seeping into the cloth of his trousers and clinging to his skin. He grimaces as he feels the wetness in his shoes but he waddles forward. The place around him has changed to a lush forest, and it's unmistakably morning. The sun rays sneaking from between thick branches, casting gold on the surface of the water. The birds are chirping, and it smells like flowers.

From not so far, the sound of joyous music reaches his ears and he changes his path to follow it. There's no sign of the demon, only the ghost of his trace that's grating on Jeongguk's nerves. As he gets closer, the music stops, frightened shouts take its place and rings in his ears and the energy of the bastard bursts against him. He's running with his sword ready, heart beating fast and sweat cascading down his neck, his fingers clutching the handle harder and he can't wait to drive his sword into that demon.

There are people clearing away from the demon's path, their fear tangible as they stumble in a hurry to move farther. Jeongguk doesn't pay them mind as he pursues his target. The buildings around them grow bigger and more ravish, all made of white almost shining ivory shaped to what he guesses are houses. The most grand one of them is unlike anything he's seen before, higher than the rest and more extravagant, a castle by every right. The demon runs towards it, one jump over a balcony and he's inside and Jeongguk chases after; his legs hitting the ground and sending him flying in an arch, landing on the balcony. He makes his way inside, sparing a second to take in the room. A boy with long pink hair is lying on the ground, his robe disheveled revealing one pale shoulder and both thighs. He's trembling and Jeongguk doesn't need the shaky, pointing finger to know the demon has passed through. He runs out and into a long wide corridor, the demon in his sight and Jeongguk grits his teeth and lunges.

The demon swerves back, blocking the hit with both arms and Jeongguk shoves forward and brings his foot up; kicking with full strength; sending the demon back outside through the wall. He leaps out through the opening he made with the demon’s body and lands in front of the demon, feels the pressure of many eyes following their fight. He stands straight and lets his energy flow, feeling it as it seeps through his flesh and out, coating him and his sword. The demon freezes for less than a blink but it's enough for Jeongguk. He cuts with one fluid motion of his sword, relishing the distinctive resistance of muscle against iron and closing his eyes as it gives, listening to the thud of the demon's head on the grass and then the sizzling sound of it all disappearing, leaving nothing but thin air where the demon once was.

He takes a breath, opens his eyes and looks around him. Now that his attention isn't held, he can see how unnatural the people staring at him are, and most importantly how their expressions are mixed between fearful and weary. He reigns in the energy pouring out of him and sheathes his sword, offering a small smile that he hopes reassuring.

The crowd breaks to cheers and applause, joy taking over the beautiful faces and he takes a step back as his mind finally catches up. He's followed the demon into another realm, and judging by the beauty of everyone, the unnatural hair and eyes and pointed ears; he's in Upalion; the land of fairies.

A handsome man that appears to be in his mid fifties makes his way over to Jeongguk, expensive clothes draped over him and jewels adorning his belt. He nods his head and smiles, extending his hand to Jeongguk. Not knowing what to do he offers his own hand, and the man takes it in both his and bows his head again.

"I would like to offer our thanks," the  man begins "this demon has been a threat to us for a while now," He lets go of Jeongguk's hand and ushers him in the direction of the castle. "Come," he invites "we must show our gratitude properly."

He thinks the man will offer him food, and he's never been able to refuse that so he agrees and walks after him. Whispers from the crowd following in their wake.

The dinner that's prepared in his honour is bigger than any feast he's dreamed of and his mouth waters at the delicious looking food and the enticing aroma of grilled meat. The servants has swirled in and placed rows of mats and pillows on the ground in the shape of a rectangle, the king, as the man who approached him has introduced himself, was seated on the end with Jeongguk on his right. The food is set in front of them, served in golden plates. Drinks fly freely and music plays. From the entrance, beautiful girls and boys walk in; clad in provocative clothing that reveals more than it covers. They start dancing and singing, their voices charming and melodic, fitting perfectly with the flutes and soft lyrics that are playing. Jeongguk forgets all about them when he starts eating, the food tastes better than it looks and that's no small feat.

"We'd like to gift you with one of our own," the king says. Jeongguk has heard about these kind of things, how the fairies were all too willing to offer one of them in a gift or out of fear but he isn't interested in owning a fairy so he shakes his head.

The king seemingly ignorant of Jeongguk's refusal extends his hand, palm up in a gesture of generosity and points in the direction of the dancers "Choose whomever you like."

A soft beating of feet makes Jeongguk turn his head, the boy he saw when he broke into the castle makes his way into the hall with measured steps. Jeongguk was too preoccupied to notice but now he can't seem to stop looking at the boy; if one person was chosen to define the word breathtaking, it would be him. Pale skin, soft features, cheeks filled like the most delicious of apples and almost as red. His strikingly gray eyes are shaded by thick lashes, the curve of his small nose ending in a perfectly round tip and his full lips are pink and inviting. What stands out about him most is his long hair, draped gently over his shoulders in a smooth waterfall of pink.

The king turns around to see what's holding his attention and a genuine smile breaks over his face "Son, come."

Jeongguk turns back to look at the boy as he glides his way over to them. Jeongguk blinks at him multiple times, his mouth opening without his permission and what comes out is a less than eloquent "You,"

The boy freezes in his spot and every sound in the hall hushes out. The king clears his throat and Jeongguk finally manages to tear his eyes away from the beautiful creature.

"Jimin?" The king asks, his hand ushering the gorgeous boy over. At a loss Jeongguk repeats the name.

"Jimin," he says, and the name fits him somehow; musical and soft.

The king's face loses all signs of happiness, his smile turning into a thin line and he closes his eyes like he's hurt. It takes a second before he faces Jeongguk again, his smile now forced.

"Alright," the king announces "he is yours!"

"Father!" A soft voice calls in shock.

Jeongguk glances at Jimin then back at the king, slowly catching up to what it all looked like. The king offered him a fairy and Jeongguk said Jimin. "Oh, you don't need to do this," he refuses the king "just open a portal for me. I don't know how to get back."

The king nods, informing Jeongguk that it'll be opened shortly. Jeongguk eyes the hall again but Jimin isn't there anymore so he refocuses on the men moving out to light candles and draw symbols on the floor.

"Aren't those symbols for the demons' realm?"

The man drawing stops and gives him a confused look, eyes darting between the symbol and Jeongguk "Isn't that where you're from?" he asks hesitantly. Jeongguk shakes his head.

"Human," he says "I'm a knight of the Eastern temple."

The man's eyes widen slightly, whether from recognition at the name of the temple or the fact that Jeongguk is claiming to be a human remains a mystery. It's not the first time people mistook him for a demon, so he doesn't take offense.

"I'd appreciate it if you can open a portal near the temple,"

The man nods, setting to correct his spell and Jeongguk waits.

It takes less than he thought it would but long enough for him to start feeling impatient. The king thanks him once again and Jeongguk brushes him off as politely as he can. He's not fighting for them, he didn't kill the demon to protect them. He did it because it's his fight, would've done it regardless of what the fairy folk wanted and so their gratitude feels misplaced.

He nods at them then walks towards the shining tear in reality, the portal that will take him back home where he can tell Namjoon about his day and maybe gloat a bit about his kill. The light forces him to close his eyes, a whooshing noise fills his ears then the smell of cherry blossoms makes its way to his nostrils and he opens his eyes and smiles. He's just outside the walls of the temple.

"So this is it?"

Jeongguk jumps around at the soft query, eyes almost leaving their sockets as he takes in the owner of the voice.

Jimin is standing in front of him, a small smile on his lips and a glint in his silver eyes. He's dressed in fine robes, his long, pink hair arranged around his face, a golden band over his head. His eyes are lined with black, his lids colored gentle pink at the end and his lashes thicker than he last saw them; the pink on his mouth is glossy. Jeongguk shakes his head violently, opens his eyes to the same sight.

"What are you doing here?" he exclaims, doesn't give a chance for Jimin to answer "I told your father he didn't need to do this. I can't keep you here. Go back." he makes a shooing motion with both hands but Jimin makes no move.

"I'm yours now," he states "I can't go back,"

"Yes you can!" Jeongguk hisses, hand catching Jimin around an elbow and shoving him away "I don't want you."

Jimin's eyes water and his lips form a pout "I can't go back," he repeats.

"I can't keep you here. Anything that isn't human is strictly prohibited from entering these grounds." Jeongguk says. Jimin stays rooted to the place, staring up at Jeongguk with a doubtful gaze.

"What about you?"

"I'm not a demon," Jeongguk sighs, irritated.

Jimin arches a fine brow at him as if unconvinced "What are you then?"

"Jeon Jeongguk," Jeongguk replies and Jimin grimaces at him but says nothing.

Jimin seems adamant on not going back, which leaves Jeongguk with no choice but to accept his fate and deal. Namjoon would probably tell him that it's what he deserves for acting without the team.

"I can't get you in, the temple is protected by a seal. Anything inhuman enters and we'll have everyone attacking us." Jeongguk says, part of him wishes it'll scare Jimin off but Jimin only blinks at him.

"Stay here," he points at a tree and obediently Jimin walks to the spot Jeongguk pointed at and places the bag he's carrying on the ground, standing beside it. Jeongguk nods to himself and walks up the stairs leading to the grand door of the temple. The door is kept open in the morning, Jeongguk lost track of what time is it since the time in the fairy realm was different but if he's counting right he thinks it might be close to dawn. He decides to jump over the wall and be done with it.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The place feels colder once he's standing alone and he half wishes Jeongguk won't come back for him, half dreads it. He's out of his world, knows nothing and no one here; completely on his own. It fills him with something like fire, but it's freezing him instead of burning and his eyes sting with the desire to shed tears.

He doesn't want to be here and yet he has to be.

His heart pounds in his chest, and he can hear the blood rushing in his ears. The urge to run chokes him, so tempting and terrifying. He wants to move but his legs, shaky as they are, have never felt so heavy. He closes his eyes and wishes with everything he's got to just move, but he's so scared of being alone, so utterly petrified it's taking over everything in him.

The sound of Jeongguk's voice talking to someone just behind the wall in a hushed tone reaches his ears and a wave of relief washes over him.

Jeongguk lands in front of him; carrying someone on his back. It's scary how he can almost fly, to do it with someone on his back is even more impressive. Jimin doesn't know if all the knights of the temple can do this or if it's just Jeongguk, but the fact that Jeongguk is carrying the other man is telling.

The man complains about being treated roughly and Jimin takes the chance to stare at him while he's distracted grumbling at Jeongguk. He's tall, taller than Jeongguk, which means he's massive compared to Jimin, his skin is tanned and his eyes are narrow and when he purses  his mouth, two dimples soften the no doubt tough look he's trying for. The man finally turns to him, his eyes going wider as they settle on Jimin, mouth going slightly agape.

"He really has pink hair," he says in wonder.

"And pointy ears," Jeongguk chimes in.

"Hello, my name is Kim Namjoon." he introduces.

Jimin bows down dutifully "Park Jimin, the prince of Upalion. It's a pleasure to meet you, Kim Namjoon."

Namjoon turns to Jeongguk and pins him with a glare that Jeongguk responds to with a shrug. "Yeah, he's the prince." he confirms.

"I think you should take him back," Namjoon says. Jimin's blood runs cold and he whips his head in Jeongguk's direction, fearing his answer.

"He doesn't want to go," Jeongguk says.

"Well, he can't really prefer living with you, he's the prince!" Namjoon hisses like he wants to shout but is being mindful of time and place. Jeongguk shrugs again, like he couldn't care less.

"Open a portal, I'll take him back." Jeongguk replies.

"No!" Jimin's voice comes out desperate and shaky "Please don't send me back, I'll be good. I'll do whatever you want."

Namjoon looks taken aback but Jeongguk's apathetic eyes stay icy cold "You heard him, we can't keep you."

"Jeongguk wait-" Namjoon starts but Jeongguk doesn't let him finish, he moves to carry Jimin's bag, his other hand wrapping around Jimin's elbow and yanking him closer and Jimin's eyes fill with tears.

He's going to be returned. He's going to bring shame and dishonor to his father. He can already feel the judgmental looks burning along his skin, can hear people whispering behind his back. The prince, undesirable and unwanted, being sent back like a broken thing.

He can't go back.

He frees himself from Jeongguk's grip and falls to his knees, gritting his teeth so his tears stay in the corners of his eyes and won't slide down. Grits his teeth so he won't shout at the world, he grits his teeth and bows his head, folding his hands on the dirt, placing his forehead on top. Humiliation burns red on his cheeks and everything in him trembles.

"Please," he says, the one word costing him more than anything else and he can't speak more than that single damn word. He closes his eyes, feels the shame and the desire to disappear. Before he left, his servants bathed him and dressed him in his finest clothes, he's covered with jewels and gold and he's never felt so cheap, kneeling down and begging to be kept.

He doesn't dare lift his head, but hands on his arms pull him into a sitting position and he finds himself face to face with Jeongguk. Jeongguk's eyes are round and glittering and his mouth is parted like he wants to say something but words are escaping him. He blinks at Jimin multiple times then closes his eyes and nods.

"Get up," he says, and he doesn't wait for Jimin to comply but rather he lifts him up as he himself stands. He keeps his hands on Jimin's arms, squeezing before he lets go.

"Hyung?"

"Seems like we have no choice."

 


 

Jeongguk leads him to a small room. The place is horrible, stuffy and unkempt; clothes articles thrown all over the wooden floor, unmade futon in the center and dust covering every flat surface. There's a tall mirror at one corner, beside it a closet that Jimin suspects is empty, what with all of Jeongguk's clothes out of it. He gets inside and tentatively sets his bag in front of the closet, not sure what to do with himself; he looks at Jeongguk for direction but Jeongguk is already stripping.

Jimin blushes and ducks his head.

"Why are you standing over there?" Jeongguk asks "Put your things in the closet, right side is empty."

Jimin nods and sets to arrange his belongings in. Jeongguk shuffles behind him, and Jimin chances a glance to see Jeongguk settled in and covered, back to the door and eyes closed.

He turns back to stack his clothes, trying to calm his thundering heart. He knows he's Jeongguk's to do whatever he wants to him now, remembers promising that he would do anything not so long ago but he can't help being scared. He's never bedded anyone, man or woman, and he's not ready. He'll never be ready for this.

He stalls as much as he can, but eventually, the bag is empty and everything is tucked neatly inside the closet and he has nothing to do but face his reality. He draws in a slow breath and retrieves the bottle of oil that his servant had placed in his bag then faces Jeongguk's futon and starts undressing, layer after the other until he's wearing nothing but the gold band on his head and his bracelets. He lowers his head, his hair falling over his shoulders and he clears his throat.

"I'm ready," he says. His servants had given him a quick lesson when they were packing his things, and he was embarrassed but now he's thankful to them.

Jeongguk makes a confused noise in the back of his throat then he turns over. He drags his eyes over Jimin’s form and lifts a brow.

"What are you doing?" He asks.

"Aren't you going to..." Jimin trails off, feeling the heat in his face.

"What? Fuck you? No."

Jimin flinches at the crude word, and he feels humiliated and rejected and relieved all at once. He hurriedly picks out a white gown and underwear, and puts them on, his heart calming down as soon as his skin is no longer on display. He stares helplessly at Jeongguk's covered form and stays where he is, clueless as what to do.

"You done?"

"Yes,"

At his answer, Jeongguk pushes the covers back and scoots, making room for Jimin. Try as he might, he can't get his legs to move. Jeongguk sits up, appearing exasperated.

"You were fine with sex, but not sharing the bed?"

"No! That's not it... I'm just..." he doesn't really know. Scared, ashamed, nervous.

"It's just this futon, I'm not sleeping on the wood and I'm not allowing you to freeze, now get in." Jeongguk orders. Jimin swallows and nods, taking small, hesitant steps. The mattress is soft, and big but not enough to accommodate two people. Jimin crowls in, gets on his side and his face burns as he gets too close to Jeongguk.

They look at each other for a while, Jeongguk nods then closes his eyes but Jimin doesn't. This close, Jeongguk looks more real than he does when he's standing two feet away. His body is warm even though they aren't touching and his gentle breaths fan over Jimin's nose.

Jeongguk is what Jimin would call devilishly handsome. Made of sharp lines and angular edges, apart of his pale skin he’s painted in dark colours. His hair parted to the side and pitch black, and his eyes the darkest brown they can be without being black too. His mouth is thin but still full, and there's a mole right under his bottom lip, Jimin counts three others scattered on his face before Jeongguk's eyes snap open and nearly scare him out of his skin.

"Sleep." he says. It's a whisper, the air of it moves the now loose bangs around Jimin’s face. Jimin's lids fall, and he hears rustling, feels Jeongguk turning to the other side. He does the same.

He falls asleep to the heat of Jeongguk's body, a line along his back.

 


 

He wouldn't say he's completely settled, but he's started to get used to the dorms in the two days and nights he spent here, despite the awkwardness of sharing Jeongguk's bed. Jeongguk has absolutely forbade him from being seen, empathizing that he cannot leave the room during the day. Jimin stays there for most of the time, alone and bored out of his mind. On the first day he stayed, he asked Jeongguk to teach him how to clean, finding the task surprisingly easier than he thought it would be. So he spent his first day cleaning and tidying up Jeongguk's room. Jeongguk didn't thank him, but Namjoon, who is way nicer to Jimin than Jeongguk, told him that he's never seen Jeongguk's room so clean.

He tries to be as useful as possible, he doesn't want a repeat of his first night in the human realm. So he gathers Jeongguk's dirty clothes in a basket and sneaks out to the stream. The night is cool, the waxing moon surrounded by brilliant starts and the air smells of cherry blossoms. Jimin allows himself a moment of calm, taking in the beautiful scenery of the temple.

The place is magnificent in its construction, tall walls and grand gates. Statues carved of wood are placed near the outer gate, big and imposing. They're standing like warriors from an older time, protecting the temple. The gate opens to a widening path and a stream runs through the land of the temple, forcing the walls to be built with openings in them to accommodate its path. There are three bridges over the stream, each one of them a beautiful arch of red wood, and all along the stream, rocks and flowers arranged in a lovely design. There are cherry trees near the walls, reaching high, and the place is surrounded by a gorgeous forest that the same stream runs across.

The temple itself is bigger than any building he's seen but isn't as high as the castles he's used to. There's one level. The eastern side is devoted to rituals, a great hall with a high ceiling where religious gatherings are held, beside it a big room set for the purpose of meetings. In the center of the huge space that’s in front of the hall they’ve built a statue to honor Noah: the only demon who was loved and respected by all. The demon who rushed to save the world when it tried to fall apart. Jimin lived that disaster, and grew up on stories of his greatness and bravery, remembers the revenant looks every time his name was mentioned, feels the same respect in the humans’ choice to keep his memory alive in their temple.

The west wing is the dorm where all the knights reside. Jeongguk's room is the last in a long row of other rooms, all of them set along a wooden path, about two feet higher than the ground. Jeongguk lives alone in his room, Jimin doesn't know a lot about the temple's regulations yet, but he hears voices from the rooms beside them and he thinks it's only Jeongguk who doesn't have a roommate.

He makes sure no one is around when he walks out of the room, and instantly takes a turn to the backyard where the stream curves and goes out. In the morning, the knights use the space as a training area and Jimin can see the wooden pillars standing far as targets for archery and some discarded weapons.

Once he's near the water, he sets the basket aside and dips his hand in, shivering slightly at the cool temperature. He starts working, methodically rubbing at every spot until it disappears. His fingers near freeze but he goes on, this task would be so much easier if he can do it at noon when the sun has warmed the water, but he has to hide so he makes ado.

He doesn't know how much time he spends there, but the moon is higher than it was when he glances up. With his basket full of clean clothes he sets about hanging them on the lines to dry, he's humming under his breath as he works, too low because he doesn't dare raise his voice above a whisper but it must be louder than he thinks because someone walks near.

"Who's there?" A deep yet sweet voice calls and Jimin freezes in spot. He clings to the sheet he's hanging with both hands, gripping at its edges like the cloth can hide him forever. A shadow appears from behind it; then a tall, young man stands in front of him. He looks younger than Namjoon, his features soft and his hair appears silky, his light brown bangs are parted in the middle, framing the sides of his face, ends of them touching his cheekbones. From the back, the locks curl just under his ears. The man's eyes are big and up slanted, Jimin can't tell the exact colour in the dim light but he thinks they're honey brown. The man blinks at him, his small nose scrunching up and he points at the basket near Jimin's feet with his index:

"Are these Jeongguk's clothes?" His deep voice is smooth; soothing. Dumbly, Jimin nods. The man's eyes widen "How did he get you here?" he asks, a bit of alarm seeping into his tone "Fairies aren't allowed here," he recites like he'd memorized the line from a rules’ book.

"I...I'm," words don't come, and he stands there and stares at the man as his legs start to shake. Jeongguk will be furious.

"Come on, you can't be here." The man says, he takes hold of one of Jimin's hands and drags him back, his wide steps forcing Jimin to stumble behind. The man slides the door to Jeongguk's room open and all but shoves Jimin inside, Jeongguk stares at them both as the man enters and shuts the door behind him.

"Taehyung-hyung!" Jeongguk breathes, taken aback.

"What the hell?" The man, Taehyung, says in answer.

"It's a long story," Jeongguk sighs "just don't tell anyone about this?"

"But I tell Seokjin everything," Taehyung pouts.

"Make an exception!" Jeongguk throws his hands in the air, exasperated. It's been a short while knowing him, but Jimin has noticed this right away; Jeongguk got a temper and it's about the only emotion he shows. Taehyung nods mutely and leaves and that's that.

"Can you be more careful?" Jeongguk snaps at him.

"I am careful! It's almost dawn, no one is awake,"

"Well obviously someone is ." Jeongguk huffs. He then looks Jimin up and down his lips forming a thin line "He will tell Seokjin-hyung," Jeongguk adds, shaking his head.

 


 

Namjoon has come to explain some of the temple's rules to Jimin. Jeongguk hasn’t left this morning, instead he's lounging on his futon, propping himself up with an elbow and his cheek in his hand. He has a disinterested look as Namjoon talks, yawning once in awhile.

"The lines between realms are blurring, and it's getting easier for the demons to cross over," Namjoon says, Jimin nods. It's been happening slowly for the past hundred years, and the world was almost destroyed when the veil between the realms broke, twelve years ago if it weren’t for The great Noah. "After what happened twelve years ago, humans decided to take action and this temple and three others were built."

The knights work in teams, each member with different ability, Jeongguk is a part of a six members team led by Namjoon. Namjoon opens his mouth to say more but he's interrupted by the door sliding open violently and a frantic man rushes in followed by Taehyung.

"So it's true!" The man exclaims; both Jeongguk and Namjoon sigh in response.  The newcomer is a good looking man with a strong build; tall and wide in the shoulders. His face is cut in sharp lines, chiseled jaw and high cheekbones and big, brown eyes. His lips are full and his hair is dark brown, almost black and parted from the side. He's dressed in the same clothes Namjoon and Jeongguk are wearing, but somehow they look more expensive and fitting on him. He points at Jimin and turns from Jeongguk to Namjoon and back to Jeongguk.

"Are you crazy? You stole a fairy! Where did you steal him from? Who did you steal him from? Why did you bring him here? How did you get him inside! Oh man this is a disaster!" He's talking too fast, empathizing the first word of every question and moving his head as he speaks. He shapes the words with exaggerated movement, and flails with his arms and bounces on his feet.

"I told you not to tell him!" Jeongguk says, glaring at Taehyung "He's too loud, everyone will know about this!"

As if on cue the door opens, less dramatically this time, and two other people enter the room. They stand side by side, bewildered as they take in everyone in the small space.

"Hoseok, I think I drank too much," the shorter of the two says "because I'm seeing a fairy here. Is that a fairy?" He turns to his companion who lifts an eyebrow at him.

"You drink? It's prohibited outside festivals." This one has brown hair and skinny looking face that's a bit too angular, his nose is pointy and his mouth thin.

"If you think I can deal with you guys without drinking you have other news coming," the shorter man replies. He has black hair that's cut like a bowl, his cheeks full and his complexion pale. His mouth is set in a scowl as he stares at Jimin, one hand on his hip.

"No really what the hell?" He asks.

The loud man -who Jimin thinks must be Seokjin based on last night's encounter with Taehyung- gestures with both hands at Jeongguk and shrieks:

"He stole a fairy!"

"I didn't steal him!" Jeongguk protests "He was given to me and I tried to return him-"

"You can't return a gift fairy, are you stupid?" Seokjin says.

"We gathered," Namjoon tells him "we don't know why though,"

"It's considered a stigma in their culture." Seokjin explains and everyone turns to look at Jimin then, seeking his confirmation. Jimin nods, a part of him thankful that at least someone here knows about his people.

Namjoon hums "Say, hypothetically, if I kill Jeongguk-"

"Hey!"

"-what then?" Namjoon finishes like Jeongguk hasn’t spoken. Jeongguk huffs and crosses his arms over his chest.

"Then you'll become his master," Seokjin answers.

"You're weirdly knowledgeable about this," Namjoon notes.

"We studied this back at home," Seokjin points at himself and Taehyung.

"Ah, as to be expected from the royal family, you're something else."

Jimin almost chokes "He's a prince?" The surprise must be too obvious in his voice because everyone laughs, except Seokjin who takes offense and protests loudly.

"Yah! Why are you so astonished?"

Jimin can't answer, but the man with black hair and full cheeks snorts and Seokjin's attention is shifted to him immediately "How dare you!"

Taehyung smiles fondly and pats Seokjin's shoulder, Seokjin is momentarily mollified.

"Jimin, let's officially introduce you to the team, since everyone is here. You already know Taehyung," Namjoon starts "This is Min Yoongi," the man with black hair waves "this is Hoseok," Jimin caught his name as they entered, he smiles wide at Jimin "and you have his royal highness," Namjoon says sarcastically "Kim Seokjin. The man who can't keep a secret."

"I can't keep a secret?" Seokjin exclaims "You do realize that your secret fairy isn't a secret anymore? That in what? Five days? Six people already know, that's more than a person per day." Before anyone could open their mouth, Seokjin goes on, voice growing more agitated "I'm the prince and thus expected to be a role model knight, I abide by the rules. I don't hide fairies in the dorms, I especially don't hide fairies in the dorms-" he takes a breath "and if something happens I'm gonna tell on you and say that Jeongguk threatened me!" He pants dramatically after he's done talking and there's a collective sigh, like everyone is used to his mannerisms.

"Did you have to tell him?" Jeongguk wails.

Taehyung looks sheepish as he answers "I didn't think he'd react like this. And I thought he might know a spell that can hide Jimin,"

"Can you do that, hyung?" Namjoon asks, sounding hopeful. Seokjin sighs, when he looks at Jimin his eyes are a bit dim, Jimin blinks and it's gone and he thinks he might have imagined it.

"I can, but meanwhile you might want to seal his presence. Write something on the floor or whatever," he waves his hand at Yoongi who nods and unties a long, narrow pouch from his belt, he retrieves a brush and an inkwell and starts writing symbols on the walls. Seokjin seemingly satisfied, leaves and Taehyung follows him out.

"Even if Seokjin-hyung can stew a potion to hide his features, we still have to hide him." Hoseok says. Namjoon nods, his eyes narrowing and his brows knitting closer in a thoughtful expression.

"Maybe as a new knight?" Jeongguk says, a bit hopeful.

Yoongi hums, puts his brush down and starts blowing on the last sigil he painted on the wall "Can you do anything special?" he asks, and Jimin takes a moment before he realizes the question is directed at him.

"I dance and sing," he offers, even though he doesn't know what Yoongi means by something special.

"That could work," Yoongi nods to himself "Hoseok uses dance magic, he can teach you some spells," then turning to Namjoon he continues "I can say he's an apprentice from my family to get the council to consider him, but until we know for sure that Seokjin-hyung can in fact get a spell to make him look like a human, we can't do much."

"Why do I have to hide?"

Every set of eyes turn to look at him, and he suddenly regrets forsaking silence. He's spoken though, and he has a point, "I'm not stolen, my master is here. It's not uncommon for humans to own a fairy, why do I have to hide?"

"I told you," Jeongguk snaps "anything inhuman isn't allowed in here,"

Jimin purses his lips against the urge to ask again. Jeongguk isn't a human, Jimin can feel it, and yet he acts like one and everyone so far seems to accept Jeongguk as such. Jeongguk didn't answer when Jimin first inquired, so he doesn't bother to waste his breath on more arguing. He nods and lets the conversation drift, lets them decide and discuss his fate like he isn't in the room with them. What good would it make anyway, if he were to question and protest? He's begged to be here hasn't he? Too afraid to fight or run. Jimin is a coward and cowards don't get to decide.

It takes them some time to settle, but eventually they stick with what Yoongi has suggested. He'll be introduced as an acquaintance of Yoongi's and the council will be told that he has high spiritual energy and that he can do dance magic. Jimin can't but Hoseok tells him if he works hard enough he'll get some basic knowledge to get him through in three days.

 


 

 

In the night Jeongguk comes carrying a small brown pouch and hands it over to Jimin.

"Seokjin-hyung said you need one pill every day or so,"

Jimin opens the bag and places some of the pills on the palm of his hand, examining them. They're spherical, green and small; nothing about them makes them appealing so Jimin puts them back save one and swallows it. It gets stuck in his throat and he coughs a bit before it goes down. Surprisingly it doesn't taste bad, it doesn't taste like anything.

"It's happening!" Jeongguk says, pointing at Jimin with his finger. Jimin turns to look at himself in the mirror and he watches, wide-eyed, as the pink in his hair bleeds out to black. His gray eyes murk until they're brown and his ears round at the ends. He walks nearer, places his palm on the mirror and leans close, examining himself.

His features are the same, but the colours are diluted. He looks different. Human.

"All knights have short hair, we need to cut yours," Jeongguk says and Jimin swirls around to face him.

"No."

He doesn't want to cut his hair, it feels like the last bit of himself left unchanged and he desperately wants to keep it. So afraid if he does cut it, he won't recognize himself anymore. Jeongguk isn't paying him mind, retrieving a sharp knife and pointing at the floor with it.  

"Sit down, let's get this over with."

"No!" He repeats, more firm this time. Jeongguk looks at him with an impatient expression and walks towards him. Jimin takes a step back, hand going to grip his hair protectively. Jeongguk lunges, and he runs to the other direction.

"I said no!" he shouts, the hand he isn't using to hold his hair reaches up and connects with Jeongguk's cheek with a resonating slap. Jeongguk growls, his eyes flickering red for less than a second before he's a blur of colour, then he's standing behind Jimin. Jimin yelps, tries to escape but Jeongguk gets a fist in his long hair and pulls causing Jimin to cry out as pain flairs in his scalp. He feels the knife as it cuts through his locks, feels the hold giving as the hair is no longer connected to his head. He falls to his knees, his eyes burning and doesn't dare look up.

"Here," Jeongguk says, throwing the black hair he has in his fist on the floor in front of Jimin. He huffs then throws the knife near it, the tip of it planting itself in the wood between the fallen tresses. Jimin's tears flow as the door slides shut after Jeongguk.

He sniffles pitifully, hand shaking as he gathers his hair, his tears falling down on it as he holds it in both hands. It's ridiculous, and he shouldn't be so torn up over it but he is. It's a reminder that he can't do anything but what Jeongguk wants and he cries bitterly, wailing and sobbing; wishing he could leave, wishing he'd never met Jeongguk.

An indefinable amount of time passes and he crawls onto the futon he’s shared with Jeongguk for the past nights he's been here. He shudders at the idea of being so close to Jeongguk after what happened, but he still curls himself up on the futon. He'll get up when Jeongguk is here, for now he will close his eyes and rest.

Next time he wakes he's alone, but he's under the covers. The oblique slant of the light pouring through the window tells him it's close to the afternoon, and there's no sight of Jeongguk. The door slides and Jimin jumps, but the voice that speaks to him isn't Jeongguk's.

"Good morning, Jimin. I brought you breakfast." Taehyung smiles at him, his face kind. Jimin turns to the mirror and almost cries again at his reflection, his hair is cut unevenly, some of the locks still long. His eyes are puffy and red half from the crying he did, half from sleep. He rubs at his eyes then faces Taehyung who smiles at him sadly but doesn't ask.

He places the tray he's holding in front of Jimin and sits beside him, silent and unobtrusive. It's the fact that he didn't ask that makes Jimin talk.

"He forced me to cut it," his voice is still raspy, his hand comes up to smooth through his hair almost like a reflex. He stares at the food in the tray, bread and a bowl of soup, a small piece of chicken and half an apple.

"This is lunch," Jimin comments, sees Taehyung's nod from the corner of his eye. 

"Jeongguk said you were asleep when he brought you breakfast, he didn’t want to wake you up," he trails off a bit then "he told me what happened, and I just assumed you would rather have someone else for company, is that alright?"

A lump forms in his throat at how thoughtful Taehyung is. He didn't have to, but he came to check on him, bringing him food and offering him company.

"Jeongguk is awful," Jimin says, he half expects Taehyung to turn on him but Taehyung only shrugs.

"He can be sometimes," he smiles conspiringly and Jimin smiles back at him. They sit in silence as Jimin eats, and it's not uncomfortable but it's not easy either. Jimin feels the urge to keep talking but Taehyung seems content to simply be there with him so he lets himself relax and enjoy the meal.

"Can you fix it?" Jimin asks at last and he doesn't need to say more for Taehyung to understand and comply. He gets up and takes the knife on the floor, waits for Jimin to set the tray aside before settling back behind him and slowly cutting away at his hair, evening out the ends.

"It's really unfair," Jimin says, it's not Taehyung's problem and giving voice to it won't change a thing but it's been bubbling up in his chest and he needs to let it out so he talks "I didn't want this, it wasn't supposed to happen to me." 

Jimin tells Taehyung about his people, about how some of them are raised to be given away, about how he isn't one of those and that Jeongguk chose him nonetheless. He tells Taehyung about his first night, how Jeongguk didn't want him, how he had to lower his head and beg.

He ends up crying again, and it's only Taehyung's silence and gentle fingers in his hair that get him to continue. Taehyung's silence doesn't feel like apathy, but more like an understanding so deep it can't be put into words. Taehyung doesn't mock him by saying he gets it, he doesn't say he's sorry because both of them know how useless the words are.

He stays though. He listens, he fixes Jimin's hair and allows Jimin to rest his head on his lap and pets him.

"I wish I could choose my master," Jimin says, sleepy "It's so unfair that I’m denied that,"

Taehyung hums "I know,"

Jimin smiles. Life hasn't worked out for him lately, but at least he got to meet someone as compassionate as Taehyung. He turns and buries his face in Taehyung's stomach, curling around him.

"Thank you," he whispers.

Chapter Text

 

It takes less than Jimin thought it would to settle him into the temple and in the matter of two days he's invited to be seen by the council. The council members ask him a few questions and then he's listed into the same team as Yoongi. They're of the logic that since Yoongi recommended him he should be the one overseeing his training. Jimin supposes it's easier to be on the same team as Jeongguk, even if he doesn't exactly like him.

He still doesn't talk to Jeongguk. Jeongguk brings him food and doesn't start conversations, keeps to his side of the bed when they sleep. Jimin is equally relieved and annoyed at being ignored, and sometimes it feels like Jeongguk sees him as a pet. He realizes that cutting his hair was something that had to be done but Jeongguk didn't need to be as savage as he was about it.

He's not expecting an apology, but at the same time he feels unsettled, like he's hanging on, waiting for something to happen.

Jimin spends most of his days following Hoseok around, training and learning spells. What time he doesn't spend training he spends with Taehyung. Or being fawned over by everyone at the temple which is surprising to say the least.

At the beginning, Jimin thought the attention he's getting is the novelty of his presence, that everyone was simply curious and once that shine wears off they would let him be. He's standing in the yard of the temple, surrounded by other knights who keep offering to help him train or wash his clothes or even do his chores. He smiles, enamored by how nice they all are and confused at the strangely dotting side he seems to bring out of them.

From the corner of his eye he catches sight of Jeongguk talking to the rest of the team members, he can't hear what they're saying but he can see Seokjin moving about in the way he does when he's particularly not happy with something. He gets too close and Jeongguk places a hand on his shoulder to push him back, slight as the motion is and standing at least twenty feet apart, Jimin thinks he can see the muscles in Jeongguk's arm bulging under his clothes and he huffs, bothered by Jeongguk's show of strength.

"Jimin? Where are you looking?" One of the guys around him asks, and follows Jimin's line of vision only to scowl "Jeongguk again, huh."

Jimin's face burns hot. What do they mean by again? He doesn't really stare at Jeongguk that often. 

"Jimin-ssiieeeee!" Jimin's shoulders jump and he turns his head to look at Jeongguk. Jeongguk waves him over and he nods. He can't say he likes this new thing Jeongguk does, but he didn't protest the first time Jeongguk called him Jimin-ssi and so Jeongguk went on with it.

"I have to go," he says.

"How come you're so close already, you've been here only a week!" One of the knights complains. Jimin smiles and tells him it's because he's a part of Jeongguk's team now, so of course they are close, then he makes his way over to where the others are standing. He knows that he looks close to Jeongguk, he washes his clothes and runs over to him any time Jeongguk calls but he can't help feeling a spark of irritation when someone points it out like Jimin is enjoying it.

"Why are you like this?" Seokjin says, soon as Jimin is in hearing range "Are you trying to get exposed?"

Jimin tilts his head to the side, confused.

"You," Seokjin says motioning with his hands at Jimin then at the other knights in the yard "they're all over you, can you be more fairy? You might as well write it on your clothes."

Jimin rolls his eyes, by now he's grown accustomed to Seokjin's very frequent meltdowns about him being a fairy, about hiding him being against the temple's regulations.

"When people see him they'd think he has a charming personality, not that-" Jeongguk replies, then pitching his voice a bit lower, opening his eyes wide and prodding his lips in an exaggerated imitation of Seokjin, he says "-he's a fairy and Seokjin-hyung is hiding him."

Everyone laughs except Seokjin who is ready to protest but Taehyung beats him to it:

"When I first applied, they said I'm too pretty, thought I was a fairy and sprayed me with this special water to test me."

"Oh Taehyung! I didn't know that," Namjoon says.

"It's true," Seokjin confirms "so the first thought about charming, pretty people is Fairy," he turns to Jimin "so you...act less charming." He says it with a bit more warning, just a tad more serious, and it sounds cruel like this, makes Jimin feel more unwanted than he is. He only nods at Seokjin, doesn't miss the way Taehyung squeezes Seokjin's elbow as if telling him he was too much. Seokjin huffs and turns to leave.

"I'm sorry," Taehyung tells Jimin.

Jimin shakes his head. He can understand that Seokjin is already doing more than he ought to, he's helping Jimin hide with his own spell. If something does happen and he gets exposed, Seokjin would get most of the burn after Jeongguk. As a prince himself, Jimin gets it. There's a certain image to maintain, a burden to always be perfect. And so many people waiting for him to slip. It's the reason Jimin didn't want Jeongguk to return him, what pushed him to beg to stay. Seokjin isn't the first heir to the throne, but even being the fourth in line, just the fact that he's the king's direct descendant is enough to pressure him.

"You're assigned to do the cleansing ritual tonight, Jimin." Jeongguk informs him. "It's a bit of a tradition that the new knights do it as soon as it's due. A part of evaluating them."

Jimin nods without looking at Jeongguk. He hears Jeongguk's indignant sigh, and glances at him from the corner of his eye; Jeongguk is glaring at his feet, lips set in a petulant pout. Serves him right, let him be annoyed.

"Ah shame!" Yoongi laments "It was supposed to be Namjoon's turn tonight,"

Namjoon sputters, Yoongi points at him with a thumb "The only two performances that everyone attends is his and Hoseok's."

"He's that good?" Jimin asks. He's seen Hoseok dancing and it's phenomenal.

"He's that bad, actually. We attend his ritual because it's hilarious and always ends in disaster. Hoseok had to take over so many times. Why do you think Namjoon always does Hoseok's laundry?" They all laugh as Namjoon wails and points fingers.

"Jimin-ah, you're on cleaning duty today. The rest of us were assigned dishes." Namjoon announces and he's answered by a collective groan. They scatter to get to their jobs, Jeongguk hurrying in front of them, and Jimin watches him walk until he takes a turn and he can't see him anymore.

 


 

Cleaning has to be the worst part of their daily chores, Jimin had been lucky enough to avoid it for the few days he stayed at the temple. The big halls need too much water to clean, and they all have to fill the big barrels they place near the hall's door by going back and forth, all the way to the lake with full buckets. They were assigned tasks by means of drawing sticks, those with shorter ones will be carrying water. Jimin is exhausted just thinking about it. He takes the empty bucket and makes to the lake, along with Jackson and another guy he fails to remember the name of.

Jeongguk is standing on the bank, his back to them. When they approach, he turns his head and his eyes land on Jimin. Jimin halts in his track, blinks twice as Jeongguk comes to meet him halfway. Wordlessly, he takes the bucket from Jimin's hand and walks past him, going back in the direction of the great hall.

"Hey!" Jimin says belatedly, Jeongguk ignores him. He shares confused looks with his two companions and makes to follow Jeongguk resolved to retrieve his bucket, but one of the huge barrels appears in sight, being rolled over in their direction. Jeongguk is walking after it, giving it gentle kicks to keep it moving.

"What are you doing?" Jackson asks.

"I'm filling this for Jimin," Jeongguk answers. He doesn't speak further, and Jimin watches astounded as Jeongguk dips the barrel into the lake and pulls it out. He hugs it with his arms, and the sight would’ve made him laugh if he weren't so caught off guard. The barrel reaches to Jeongguk's sternum, and Jeongguk's arms don't even reach mid part around it, but Jeongguk still manages to lift it, full of water to the brim, and walks with it like he's carrying a big pillow instead.

"You never agreed to do that before!" Jackson whines, clearly annoyed. He looks at Jimin and says "We asked him to carry it like this for us before because he's crazy strong," he points at the direction Jeongguk went in "but he'd always snorted and walked away!"

The other guy, the one Jimin is still ignorant of his name says: "How did you convince him to do this?"

Jimin honestly has no idea, guilt is the most obvious option but Jimin can't say that without explaining the rest of it. He shakes his head, ignores the questions and runs back just in time to see Jeongguk setting the barrel down amidst everyone's amazement. Jeongguk looks at him expectantly, as if he's waiting for Jimin to praise him. Something hot builds in Jimin's chest, and suddenly he wants Jeongguk to not be nice to him, to snap and act like he did that night.

He steels himself and steps around Jeongguk, wrapping his fingers around a bucket's handle, making a show of how he's going to help fill the other barrels. Jeongguk sighs, but when Jimin looks at him there's a small smile playing at the edge of his lips and he stands up from where he was crouching on the ground and hooks his hand on the brim of another barrel, carrying it and sprinting off to the lake. Jimin runs after him, determined to get at least one barrel filled himself.

Jeongguk hurries when he sees him, moving at an impossible pace, he cuts his way to the lake and back before Jimin can arrive and when he's got his bucket full, Jeongguk is already carrying another empty barrel into the lake. Jimin doesn't give up, manages to get one bucket in before Jeongguk beats him to the last barrel.

By the end of it, Jimin is panting, and Jeongguk, the bastard, didn't even break a sweat, he's grinning from ear to ear, and despite the urge to slap him, Jimin feels like laughing. Without meaning to, he smiles and Jeongguk's grin somehow manages to get bigger and softer at the same time. He waves a hand at Jimin before he leaves, and Jimin finishes his tasks with a light, warm feeling nestled in his ribcage.

After training, most of the knights go to bathe, and Jimin wanders off to the stream side instead; waiting for the bathroom to get less busy. He's not the only one with that idea, it seems. Taehyung is seated with his back to a tree, in his lap a fine cloth, and he's sewing it, his eyes fixed on what his hands are doing. On closer inspection Jimin realizes that the cloth is in fact a white tunic, embroidered with golden threads. Taehyung is meticulously fixing a ripped part of the embroidery. Jimin knows the shape of the cloth, he's been handed one that's identical to it when he joined the temple, it's part of their official gear if they were to leave on a mission. He watches Taehyung works for a while, then something catches his attention and the words escape his mouth before he can stop them:

"This isn't yours, is it?"

Taehyung nods and it becomes obvious who the owner of the tunic is "This is Seokjin- hyung's?" he says it like a question but he's almost sure even before Taehyung confirms it.

He keeps silent for a few more moments, Taehyung throws him several glances then he sighs long, momentarily discarding his work to give Jimin his full attention.

"What?" Taehyung says.

Jimin hesitates, he hasn't been here long enough to feel comfortable with any of the team members, but he'd always been curious and it often caused him trouble in the past. "You and Seokjin-hyung," he starts. Taehyung blinks then looks down at his lap, the expression on his face unreadable. It's not necessarily sad or upset but it isn't happy either.

"I'm sorry, it's none of my business."

"We came here together a year ago, took the entrance exam together. I work for his family." Taehyung says in a monotonous voice.

"You don't call him hyung."

Taehyung freezes, like he's caught doing something he shouldn't be and Jimin feels guilty for asking.

"We're not," Taehyung begins awkwardly "together...like that, he..."

"You don't have to tell me," Jimin hurries to reassure but Taehyung shakes his head, purses his lips and furrows his brows like he's in pain. Jimin smiles and pats his shoulder.

Perhaps they aren't together, but Jimin thinks Taehyung wants them to be.

"So what is your thing?" Jimin changes the subject "Yoongi-hyung can do written magic, Namjoon-hyung is good with auras and lore and Hoseok-hyung dances. What about you?"

"I can open portals," Taehyung says, resuming his work on the tunic. Jimin's eyes follow his deft fingers.

"Without a spell?” He asks.

Taehyung nods. Jimin tries and fails to whistle and it achieves the purpose as Taehyung laughs at him.

"You're extremely good at this," he comments. Taehyung hums.

"I was taught at an early age."

"You worked for Seokjin's family that long?" Jimin curses himself as the question leaves him, steering them back to personal again. Taehyung doesn't answer for a long time and when he does there's melancholy to his voice that Jimin can't comprehend.

"I didn't know Seokjin when I was a kid,"

They leave it at that, Jimin bites his lips as Taehyung's eyes turn glassy and unfocused even as his hands keep moving the needle in and out of the cloth. He looks like he was put under a spell, somewhere too far away for Jimin to reach, a place in the past perhaps. Jimin folds his knees to his chest and places his head on them, his lids dropping as he continues to watch Taehyung work. Around them the sparrows start to crowd, their songs turning loud in preparing for the night, up in the sky the sun bleeds orange and red, mixing it with inky blue until all is swallowed up by the navy and the stars appear.

 


 

Taehyung helps him to put the costume on and promises to be back to help him out of it once his dance is over. It's heavier than the clothes Jimin is used to, made of three layers. His undergarments are covered with a small white robe, another robe is then placed over it, it's also white but cut wider from the waist down and leaving the first layer to show at the front.  The look is completed with a last robe, red that's ornamented with elegant designs of flowers and birds and dragons, the sleeves were made to fall off the shoulders and they widen along the arms, covering his hands down to the knuckles and draping over the sides. It's tied on the waist with a bright red, silky belt, wrapped around him twice, the rest of the cloth is left to dangle at the side, reaching his mid thigh.

He stares at himself in the mirror, moving in a circle, the cloth flies around him, settling back in like gentle ripples in the surface of a lake. His hair falls black and shiny over his forehead, and his cheeks are almost as red as the last article of his costume. He eyes the fan Taehyung has left him, and makes to go and fetch it.

He turns around just as the door slides open, Jeongguk looking caught as he stares at Jimin with wide eyes. He blinks at Jimin.

"It suits you,"

Jimin gives his back to Jeongguk. He's perhaps not as angry as he wants to be, but he feels awkward in his extravagant clothing, like he's dressed for Jeongguk and waiting for his opinion. He hears Jeongguk walking towards him and before he can move, two strong arms encircle him and bring him flush against Jeongguk's chest.

Jimin is stunned. His heart hammers in his chest, and he can feel the calm thump of Jeongguk's against him.

"What are you doing?" He squeaks, flushing.

"Back hug," Jeongguk says.

Jimin squirms in the hold but it's no use, Jeongguk's arms are carved of stone "I know that! I meant why?" Jeongguk pulls him closer.

"It suits you," he repeats. Jimin gives up on fighting and relaxes, his face burning hot. Jeongguk rests his forehead on Jimin's shoulder and holds on, releasing a sigh. Like he's been exhausted all this time and this is the thing that's giving him rest. Jimin's heart settles into a regular thudding, and his body hums, he closes his eyes and melts into the hold; finding himself incapable of holding on to the last traces of his anger.

 

The ghost of Jeongguk's warmth clings to Jimin as he walks his way to the rituals' hall, and despite being followed by his other team members he can't seem to focus on what they're saying.

He stands in the middle of the hall, the others sitting on the ground around him and the music starts playing. He moves with the first swell of flutes, spins with the drums and swings his fan. Feels the air in his hair as his body carries him with the music. The sound of his feet echoes in the hall alongside the drums, the ripples of his clothes following after. He catches Jeongguk's eyes in one of his spins and his skin flushes hot, Jeongguk's eyes are intense and he can feel the stare like a physical touch pushing him through the performance. His body becomes lighter at the same time his blood burns in his veins, and he holds eye contact with Jeongguk for a few seconds that drag on and leave him breathless even as he turns.

He throws his head back and bends, his fan cutting in front of him, and he can still feel Jeongguk's gaze on him. It makes him think they're the only two people left, that he's dancing to please Jeongguk and the thought burns in his cheeks and makes his chest tight. But it feels good, the way Jeongguk is focused on him, like he's hypnotized by Jimin's dance, like he can't help it. Jeongguk's mouth falls slightly open, his eyes turn glassy and he licks his lips and swallows like he's thirsty.

The clapping snaps him out of it, and he can barely catch his breath. His muscles are burning but he feels more alive than he's ever felt; he feels powerful. His team members come along to congratulate him on a job well done, slaps on the back and pats on the head.

Jeongguk's hand starts on his shoulder blades and slides down to his waist, squeezing his side before it leaves.

 

As promised, Taehyung is waiting for him in his room when Jimin goes back, he gives Jimin a big smile and then gets up and to work. Between the two of them, it doesn't take long to get Jimin out of his costume and into his regular clothes.

"You have to keep this," Taehyung tells him as he starts carefully folding the robes. Jimin nods, he knows each of them gets a different costume for the cleansing ritual.

"What does yours look like?" He asks Taehyung. Taking the cloth from him and opening the closet to set it inside.

"Almost like yours, but it's golden robes underside and deep purple out."

 Jimin hums, closing his eyes to imagine Taehyung. He can't help but agree with the choice of colour, dark purple and gold would complement Taehyung's skin tone perfectly.

Accidently, Jimin knocks one of the bottles he keeps in the closet off and Taehyung catches it before it hits the ground and shatters. He stares at the clear liquid inside and his cheeks turn red. Jimin's cheeks mirror his and he stutters as he takes the bottle from Taehyung.

"I didn't use it!" He squeals. Taehyung's shoulders shake and then his deep voice booms in laughter. "Taehyung! Shut up!" Jimin's face burns hotter if possible and Taehyung clutches at his sides and keeps laughing until Jimin kicks him on the thigh.

"Ouch!" He complains.

Jimin tucks the bottle under the layers of folded clothes and glares at Taehyung, who's still giggling a bit.

"Sorry, I couldn't help it."

Jimin huffs and decides if Taehyung is going to laugh at his expense then Jimin shouldn't feel too bad about cornering him.

"I have cosmetics too, perhaps you'd want me to lend you some?"

Taehyung lifts a brow at him and Jimin grins "I just thought it might help with a certain someone."

Taehyung blushes furiously and ducks his head, hiding behind his hair and Jimin laughs.

"I'm not joking, you might as well. I don't need them anyway."

Taehyung looks hesitant for a bit then he nods at Jimin and Jimin claps his hands in excitement. He helps Taehyung brush his hair, then parts it to the side and pulls the smaller portion to the back, fixing it with a hairpin. It has flowers dangling at the end of it, and it makes Taehyung look more delicate. 

The colours he chooses for Taehyung's eye shadow are white and light purple, he adds just a little darker shade at the end, then lines his eyes with a fine line of black. Not trying to change the shape just to accentuate it. Taehyung's eyes are catlike, slanted up at the end and rounded at the middle, and his nose is a beautifully curved line. His lips are full and his mouth is small and he has a mole on his cheek. Jimin paints his lips pink and blinks at the result.

"Wow Taehyung, you're really pretty."

Taehyung gives a small smile and looks down, whispers a thank you. He must be used to hearing that, Jimin muses. He is beautiful .

"All done!" Jimin announces. Taehyung turns his face to look at the mirror just as the door opens, revealing Jeongguk. Jeongguk stares at Taehyung for a few seconds then he shakes his head and steps aside, like he's expecting Taehyung to leave. Taehyung gifts Jimin with another grin and a wave before he's out of the room.

"You shouldn't have done that," Jeongguk says "you're only setting him up for heartbreak."

"Jeongguk! Don't be so cruel," Jimin says sternly. Jeongguk scoffs.

"He's been following Seokjin-hyung around like a love sick puppy for the whole time they were here, everyone can see it. And everyone can see that Seokjin-hyung doesn't feel the same." Jeongguk adds the last part like it’s a matter of fact and Jimin feels guilty. Perhaps he shouldn't have interfered.

 


 

Seokjin's back is hurting, but that's nothing new. He's spent the day after training hunched over a spell book, the creak in his neck is probably permanent. He can't wait to get to his bed and sleep it all away.

Once the door is in his sight he notices the light, and Taehyung's silhouette from behind the thin material between the wood of the door. He opens the door and his greeting dies on his lips as he takes in Taehyung, sitting on his futon.

Taehyung doesn't say anything but he gets up to stand in front of Seokjin and Seokjin can't feel himself shutting the door despite hearing the slide of the wood. His mouth is dry and his heart is beating like a war drum. Taehyung's eyes are shaded, the black line makes them look more dangerous and seductive than ever and his lips . His lips are shining pink, like he's already been kissed.

Seokjin can't help but imagine messing him up, smearing the paint on his lips and ruining his perfectly styled hair. Without conscious thought, his hand settles on the side of Taehyung's face and Seokjin's heart skips a beat when Taehyung leans into it.

"What are you doing?" He asks, his voice hoarse. He doesn't know if the question is for Taehyung or for himself. He swallows, licks his lips and Taehyung mimics the movement; tip of his tongue ghosting against Seokjin's hand where he's cupping Taehyung's face.

Seokjin's breath comes out shaky, he moves his thumb over Taehyung's bottom lip in a gentle sweep and Taehyung's breath hitches, his mouth falls open. He tips his head back so Seokjin's thumb is brushing the lower row of his teeth and Seokjin can't resist dipping it further inside.

Taehyung opens his mouth wider and closes his eyes and the moment those eyes aren't on him Seokjin snaps out of it. He yanks his hand away and takes a step back. Breath coming fast and harsh. What is he doing? He's not supposed to do this to Taehyung.

"Jin?" Taehyung asks in a whisper.

"You can't do this, Taehyung!" He says harsher than he means to, but he's afraid, so afraid of doing wrong by Taehyung. Taehyung who has no one but him to depend on.

"Jin, it's okay."

"It's not, you know it's not."

Taehyung steps closer, reaches out to touch him but Seokjin recoils. He can see the hurt in Taehyung's eyes, the surrender in the way his arm falls to his side like its string was cut.

"I'm sleeping elsewhere tonight." He turns to leave but Taehyung catches his sleeve. When he turns around Taehyung is hiding his eyes behind his bangs, and Seokjin can't see them but he wagers they're shimmering with tears.

"You don't have to," Taehyung says at last, his voice wet. "Please, I'll just wash my face and then we can go to sleep like nothing’s happened,"

Seokjin lets out a breath, half relieved half angry. With himself more than with Taehyung. "Okay, I'll stay."

Taehyung blows the candle and silence settles in with the dark. Seokjin listens to Taehyung's uneven breaths, biting his lips because he's the reason for this and he still can't do anything about it. The night's sounds grow louder, cicadas and owls. Seokjin can hear the covers rustling as Taehyung turns over under them.

"Seokjin?"

"Yes?" He holds his breath, not sure what he's hoping for. If he wants Taehyung to push or just give up already. Seokjin doesn't think he can survive either. Luckily for him, Taehyung does neither, like he understands.

Taehyung says nothing, and Seokjin isn't brave enough to ask.

 


 

Jimin's heart break as he takes in Taehyung during breakfast. For once Seokjin isn't sitting beside him and both of them are grim and silent. Taehyung looks at Seokjin the whole meal, but his eyes are unfocused, like he isn't really seeing. Jimin feels a pang of regret, he shouldn't have meddled. Taehyung has never not smiled and now he looks two blinks away from breaking down and crying. Jimin glances at Jeongguk who purses his lips and shrugs a shoulder, expressing the helplessness Jimin feels right now.

He sits beside Taehyung, notices as Taehyung's eyes widen as if afraid. Jimin smiles at him and starts a meaningless chatter about nothing in particular, inwardly sighing in relief as Taehyung relaxes. He seems grateful that Jimin doesn't ask about how last night went, and despite wanting to know and to comfort Taehyung, Jimin keeps the conversation light and away from that, trying his best to act silly.

Taehyung's smile doesn't reach his eyes but it's a smile and Jimin will take it.

"Guys!" Namjoon calls as he joins their table "We have a mission."

"Yeah?" Hoseok asks, beside him Yoongi sets his food aside to pay attention to the conversation.

"A village is being terrorized by a demon and they want a team on it. Be prepared, we leave at dawn."

Chapter Text

 

"Jimin-ssiiieee," Jeongguk calls, over and over in the most obnoxious way he can manage. He exaggerates the syllables, making the word seem bigger and rougher and it grates on Jimin's nerves like nothing else. He pulls the covers up, hiding beneath them in hopes it will deter Jeongguk but it, of course, doesn't work. Jeongguk rips them off and clicks his tongue at Jimin.

"Come on, up you go." Jimin is then yanked into a sitting position, his head rolls back for a second before he rights it and blinks bleary eyes at Jeongguk. Jeongguk is too close, seeming too awake for the fact that there isn't light outside yet. Jimin's sleep hazy brain takes a few more seconds before it registers that Jeongguk is in full mission gear.

The costume suits him perfectly. The way his black hair is parted to the side makes him look devilish in a good way. The clothes fitting him too well. They're formed of three pieces, black trousers and black fitting top, over it a white tunic settles, its sleeves long and slim but ends wider near the hands. The tunic is tied at the waist with a golden belt and from waist to hip it's cut on both sides, its chest and shoulders are embroidered with elegant curves in the same colour of the belt. There are slits over the shoulders, the black is showing from underneath them, and the look is complete with black gloves.

Jeongguk lifts a brow at him and Jimin realizes that he's staring.

"We're going to be late, get up and change."

Jimin yawns, shakes his head then crawls on lead limbs to the closet. He fumbles with the door, hears Jeongguk sighs behind him, then he's being lifted up and made to stand. Jeongguk gets the clothes out of the closet, and sets them over Jimin's shoulder.

"Meet us near the gate, change quickly."

Only after he leaves does Jimin remember that they're supposed to set out for a village.

The new clothes look good on him, he decides when he sees his reflection. They don't make him look powerful like they do Jeongguk, rather he looks small and delicate. He can't help but pout at the thought.

He collects the sack he's already packed and throws it over his shoulder, and goes to meet the rest of the team.

The breeze is colder than one would expect for late spring, the sun hasn't come out to warm the earth yet, but its light is a thin line on the horizon and Jimin hopes it won't be as harsh once the sun is up.

The members are getting ready to leave, all of them are dressed in similar clothes and over them they're wearing thick, black cloaks obviously meant to keep them warm while traveling in the colder hours. Jimin didn't get one with his costume and he wonders if it's something they chose to wear individually rather than got from the temple.

Seokjin is already astride his horse, looking like he stepped out of a painting, by his side Taehyung is no less beautiful as he fixes his bag to the horseback. The others are securing the saddles and tying their luggage up and Jimin notes that there's a horse left without a saddle; the one meant for him.

"I can't ride a horse," he says in lieu of greeting. Namjoon is the first to turn to him but Yoongi answers him:

"Why haven't you said earlier?"

He doesn't answer, he hasn't thought about how they're going to make the journey to the village until now. He used to ride in a carriage and never for longer than a short trip, and he never saw the need to learn. He regrets it, now.

"You can ride with me," Taehyung offers with a smile. Jimin is about to accept when his bag is suddenly taken from him and put onto a black horse. Jeongguk wordlessly walks back to him after he's done fixing the bag up, he takes off his cape and drapes it over Jimin's shoulder, then he places his hands on Jimin's waist. With ease he lifts Jimin and sets him sideways on the back of the black horse, only glancing at Taehyung before he mounts in front of Jimin. No one says anything, Taehyung winks at Jimin before facing forward and Jimin feels his cheeks reddening as he wraps his arms around Jeongguk's waist to secure himself, feeling the muscles flexing under his hold as Jeongguk straightens his back. His cheeks burn hotter.

"Alright, we ride until we clear the forest. We need to get to the mountains as fast as possible, no need to waste time on easy land." Namjoon says, he pulls the reins, pivoting the horse forward and he takes off, the others on his heels.

Jimin hides his face between Jeongguk's shoulder blades and thinks about how much colder it would've been if Jeongguk had placed him in front rather than like this, if he wasn't surrounded by Jeongguk's warmth. He never expected Jeongguk to care but somehow Jeongguk keeps proving him wrong.

 


 

The main road curves around the forest, and according to Namjoon would take them twice as much time to get to the mountains than if they were to cut through the forest directly. So, naturally, they decide to discard it and venture head on into the forest in hopes of saving time. The forest is all tall trees and thick branches, preventing the sun from reaching the ground. Some of the stubborn beams do break through, and wherever they touch the ground, green blooms in circles. The oaks are old, their bark is broken in places, and covered in moss in others, on their roots mushrooms grow, some of them have hollow trunks even when they’re green. The air is heavy with humidity, clinging to the skin uncomfortably despite the weather not being cold, it smells like decaying leaves and wet soil.

Their time in the forest is spent in silence, riding in rows of two with Namjoon leading and Jeongguk and Jimin behind. He can see the others in front of them whispering to the one beside them, Hoseok and Yoongi followed by Taehyung and Seokjin. 

Jimin tries to fill the silence, the dragging, awkward time of him simply holding on to Jeongguk. His eyes drift to Seokjin and Taehyung in front of them, a smile stretches his lips when he sees Taehyung’s muted laugh. He can’t hear them from here, nearly ten feet behind and sound of hooves that raises washes over their conversation, but he’s glad Taehyung is laughing. They’re different from how Hoseok and Yoongi are, Hoseok only turns minimally when he converses with Yoongi while Seokjin has his horse as near to Taehyung’s as it could be, and he leans over when he talks, just like Taehyung leans closer to hear him. 

"Don’t you find it a bit strange?" He asks "How they’re with each other? When I first saw them, I thought Seokjin felt the same."

Jimin can’t see Jeongguk’s face, and for a long time he doesn’t get a reply. He keeps looking at Taehyung, and he understands what Jeongguk meant when he described him as love sick, but he wouldn’t use the same words. It’s almost as if Taehyung glows when he’s having Seokjin’s attention on him, when they’re smiling together. And even when it breaks his heart seeing how much Taehyung cares, he can’t bring himself to call the shine in his eyes a sickness. Jeongguk can say what he wants.

"I think they’re good as they are," Jeongguk says at last. Jimin waits for him to elaborate but of course, Jeongguk doesn’t and Jimin gives up on having a conversation. 

They eat lunch when they get out of the forest. By the sun’s place in the sky, which they couldn’t see from below the trees, it’s high past time for lunch. Jimin thinks it wouldn’t be too long before they lose the light, no wonder his stomach was gurgling. 

In front of them, the road on the mountains looks like a sleeping serpent, curving up and around. It’s too narrow, and too steep but it’s the only way and so they take it. The map promises an easier, wider path once they arrive to the top, where the mountains meet and trees grow. They find a cave to spend the night in a while after the sun sets, and Jeongguk leaves to get them wood for the fire. The weather gets colder the higher up they go, and inside the cave it’s even colder, so Jimin unfolds their sleeping package as soon as they’re inside and once he’s got the rags that will be serving as their futons for the night, he wraps himself in the blanket. When the fire is lit, they agree on who’s staying up guard, two for tonight. Yoongi takes the first round, and Seokjin agrees to follow.

 

The second day of their journey, goes much the same as the first. Rocky roads give way to easier paths eventually, as they reach near the top. It’s another forest, much colder than the one they walked through on the first day, and much less crowded with trees. Here, the sun shines freely, and the light makes for a more pleasant travel. At night, they stop in a clearing. They don’t exactly set camp, Jimin and Namjoon merely spreading their rags around a fire that Jeongguk gathers the wood for and Yoongi lits by a written spell. Seokjin and Hoseok catch them rabbits, and Taehyung turns them into a stew for dinner. They share stories around the fire, their laughter drifting softly, mixing with the forest that comes alive under the moonlight, owls and cicadas and occasionally the cries of wolves. 

Jimin opens his bag, looking for the small sack in which he keeps the round pills Seokjin has given him. Worry sneaks in when he can’t find them, but after he empties the bag’s contents on the ground and still can’t see them he panics.

"Jeongguk! I can’t find my pills," His distressed cry alerts all the team.

"Are you sure you packed them? If they’re in the temple I can-" 

"No, no," he interrupts Jeongguk "I had them yesterday, I took one when we were in the cave. I remember placing them back in." 

"Jeongguk’s bag was beside yours, perhaps you mistook the two and put the pills in his," Namjoon suggests. On that logic, Hoseok asks everyone to check their bags, just in case but their efforts prove fruitless. 

"Seokjin- hyung, can you make some now?" Jeongguk asks. Seokjin shakes his head. Namjoon covers his face with both hands, Hoseok and Yoongi share worried glances. Taehyung makes to put his hand in his left pocket but Seokjin catches it before he can, Jimin can see how hard he’s squeezing Taehyung’s wrist before he lets it go. 

"When is the spell wearing off?" Namjoon asks finally.

"I believe before sunrise," Seokjin answers, a grim expression on his face. Beside him, Taehyung keeps looking at his feet.

"We can’t leave him," Jeongguk says "not unless I stay behind, too."

"No, that’s too much. Our formation would be compromised without you," Hoseok tells them, turning his eyes to Namjoon.

"I think it’s best if we all go, and if the villagers ask, which they certainly will, we’re going to say he’s a part of another mission and we’re just delivering him somewhere after we’re done in the village." Namjoon reasons "It’s highly unlikely that the villagers would tell anyone of it after we kill the demon." 

Jimin stands silent as they decide his fate for the umpteenth time. He remembers placing the pouch with the rest of his belongings, but perhaps he should’ve been more careful. He would’ve saved them the trouble.

Hoseok wakes them up with the sky still dark but with a promise of the sun rising soon sang by the sparrows. Jimin can’t see himself, but the sharp intake of air that Jeongguk pulls in and the way he stares tells him the spell has worn off, and he’s got his pink hair and gray eyes back. 

They scatter around, extinguishing the fire, getting their things ready. In the far end, near the trees; Taehyung and Seokjin are sharing hushed whispers, both of them seemingly distressed. Taehyung’s expression is imploring, and even though Jimin can’t hear them from where he’s standing, he can tell that Seokjin is refusing whatever it is Taehyung is asking for from the firm set of his shoulders and the furrow between his brows. Taehyung lowers his head, closes his eyes and seemingly deflating, he offers Seokjin a subded smile that disappears as soon as he turns away. Seokjin stays where he is, eyes on Taehyung as he walks back to their campsite and starts packing his blankets. 

Something stirs at the back of Jimin’s mind, but it’s so vague he can’t put a name on it. He ignores it in favour of packing his and Jeongguk’s things, passing them over to Jeongguk so he can secure them on the horse. Without waiting for Jeongguk to offer again, Jimin drapes the cloak over his shoulders and starts to tie it around his neck. Seeing this, Jeongguk steps in front of him and takes over; his long, deft fingers accomplishing the task much faster. Instead of stepping away, Jeongguk reaches out and pulls the hood over Jimin’s head, fixing it in place and then brushing Jimin’s hair behind his ears. Jimin lowers his eyes, feeling restless again. 

He yelps when suddenly, he’s pulled too close to Jeongguk by the hold Jeongguk has on his hood.

"Don’t pout," Jeongguk says, too close Jimin can feel his breath.

"Not pouting," he murmurs, feeling heat climbing up his neck. Jeongguk’s eyes dart between his then he lets go and steps back and Jimin feels like he can breathe again.

"Don’t worry," Jimin’s eyes snap up to Jeongguk at the tone of comfort "Namjoon-hyung’s plan is good, it’ll be alright." 

He nods at Jeongguk, a smile on his face despite the suddenly violent thump of his heart. Jeongguk offers him a hand, and Jimin takes it. Lets himself be carried and placed over the horse again. When Jeongguk’s astride too, Jimin finds it easier to wrap his arms around his waist and hold on. 

 


 

The village is just a few scattered, small identical houses and stables. They have a big hall in the center, where they hold their weddings and one big house, that belongs to the man in charge, who turns out to be a short, forty something man with too small eyes and too big nose.

Everywhere, animals roam; mostly goats, chickens and ducks are there too. The place is not suitable for the agriculture of large amounts, so each family cultivate their own vegetables but they don’t sell it. Rather; their main income is from cutting wood and animal products. Jeongguk is ready for questions to rain down over their heads the second the villagers take note of Jimin, but they’re nothing but respectful and obedient. They welcome them and offer them food and drinks, and many thanks for having come to aid them.

The chief invites them to his house, where six futons are set for them in the big hall. Jeongguk looks at Namjoon, confused at the number.

"They set a different room for Jimin,"

They’re being very considerate, and Jeongguk should appreciate it, but the idea of sleeping so far away from Jimin doesn’t sit well with him. Jimin doesn’t protest, he wishes them a goodnight before he follows one of the women who served them food out. 

They take their places, taking off their shoes and gloves and settling in to sleep. They’ve learnt some time in their missions, to never fully take their gear off. The embroidery on their chests are protective magic, and very valuable during battle. It can ward off simple spells, moreover they can’t risk losing precious time putting clothes on if there was a sudden attack.  

Jeongguk looks at the ceiling, closes his eyes and releases a sigh. He forces himself to hold still, counts his breaths in hopes of making himself more sleepy but his lids refuse to fall shut, his body thrums with jittery energy. He turns to the side, seeing the forms of his team members in the darkness of the room, their bodies moving with every breath they take. He flips to the other side, Jimin’s side of the bed, and he can’t help the wrongness he feels at the empty space on his right. 

"Dammit," he mutters, moving up. He puts on his gloves and shoes, and slips out of the room, heading in the direction of Jimin’s. It’s only reasonable to check on Jimin, after all his true identity is revealed and a fairy is never safe. A lot of humans choose to steal them and sell them away to demons, or worse, and while none of the villagers seemed like a hunter, he can’t leave Jimin alone. 

He opens the door to Jimin’s room, his lips moving to shape the name but the breath halts in his chest.

The room is empty. 

A frantic feeling builds in the pit of his stomach and climbs up, chills running down his spine. There’s a malicious aura leaving trails all over the room. Jeongguk sprints back to where he came from, towards the exist.

"Wake up! It’s a demon!" Namjoon calls from somewhere near but Jeongguk doesn’t stop to wait for the others to move. He needs to get to Jimin.

The cold air hits his face soon as he’s out and he cuts through it, following the demon’s trail. It’s only a glimpse, a large black figure, moving fast and he has Jimin. Jimin is thrown over the thing’s shoulder, thrashing and hitting it with his fists, but Jeongguk knows it’s no use. He forces his legs faster, his heart beating wildly as he spies the opening through reality. The demon jumps in and takes Jimin with him and Jeongguk dives after them but he’s a split second too slow, and the portal closes, sending him head first to the ground. He stops the fall with his hands, using the momentum to instantly flip and stand on his feet. Behind him the rest are standing, Namjoon cursing a streak and Yoongi looking around with an angry expression. They’re talking, all of them and he can’t hear them, doesn’t care one bit.

The demon has Jimin and he must get him back.

"Open a portal," he says, his level voice a contrast to the storm raging inside him. Every eye turns to him and this time he raises his head and looks Taehyung right in the eyes "Now."

"Jeongguk, we can’t venture into the demons’ realm without a protective spell, the energy there would weaken us, perhaps even kill us."

"I can."

"But-"

"We don’t have time for this!" He yells, around them lights from the small houses appear. Villagers opening their doors to see what the noise is about. 

"We don’t know how high that demon ranks, you could get killed." Namjoon argues, but Jeongguk’s patience is running thin and he can’t afford this stupid talk when Jimin could be hurting.

"I have to get him back." He can feel the urgency in his own words, something that’s never been there before. Something cold gripping his heart and squeezing. Jimin is his teammate, his responsibility, his fairy. And he has to get him back, he has to, he can’t…

"Taehyung!" He shouts "Every second wasted here is one Jimin spends alone and in danger. Now open the damn portal!" He’s trembling now, hot rage burning along the ice in his veins and he grabs the handle of the sword, doesn’t know if he would actually pull it and fight his friends on this. 

"Alright," Taehyung says, he’s looking at Seokjin who nods once then Taehyung is stepping forward. "I can send you to the same place he went when he used the portal. From there it’s up to you to find him," 

Jeongguk nods.  

Light starts to shimmer under Taehyung’s skin, then energy bursts out of him in pulsating waves. The light dims and swells with each pulse, until Taehyung is glowing white, his locks and the loose ends of his clothes moving with the flow of energy now seeping through him. His eyes glow blue, and he extends his hands. From thin air threads made of light appear, dozens of them, each one a golden line fixed into nothing. Taehyung chooses one of them and pulls, seemingly breaking reality at the seams, the thread gets loose and then the air tears open and Jeongguk can see the other side.

"We’ll follow you as soon as we can," Namjoon promises. He nods at them, then jumps into the portal, catching a last glimpse of Taehyung letting go of the thread and then the gate is closed and he’s alone in the demons’ realm. 

 


 

He’s asleep and it’s silent, behind his closed lids a dim light shines, and Jimin squeezes his eyes, doesn’t want to wake up yet. Reality plays at the edges of his mind like whisks of smoke, tingling, caressing then slipping past. He needs to wake up, it tells him; urgent. Dread climbs up his throat, but he still doesn't know why. 

Jeongguk’s face flashes through his memory and he jumps up. He’s in a bed, big but hard and he turns panicked eyes around the room, taking in the thick fur covering the floors and walls made of rock. On them hangs heads of animals, displayed in pride, oxen and gazals and even the head of a bear. It sends a chill down his spine, bile rising up his throat at the idea that he’s one of these tokens. A prey that got hunted. 

He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, trying to think about his predicament calmly. Getting out of here is his first concern. On the wall opposite from the bed he’s sitting on is a big, bare window, nothing appears from where he is but the silhouette of dead trees. He crosses the room and peeks down, finding an endless, gloomy forest. The trees are coiling unnaturally, white bark covered at places with black moss and vines. There are no leaves on the branches, and no sight of animals or birds. When he lifts his eyes up, the sky is deep red, and there’s no sun or moon or stars but it’s not dark, it’s not light either. The place is soundless and still. 

No life.

Jimin steps backward and away from the window, his heart drumming in his ears. The window is too high, and despite the trees being close and snake like and therefore easy to climb he can’t bring himself to consider going outside. 

Hoseok has told him about this in one of their training sessions. Back then he was still angry at Jeongguk, but Jeongguk came to watch nevertheless. 

Hoseok was talking about how being able to fight isn’t the only ability you need to survive in some situations.

"One of the most important things that you need to learn," he said, "is how to act when you’re separated from the group. You’ll be alone and alone is weak." 

"Weak is not the problem," Jeongguk chimed in, "scared is." Jimin flinched at the sound, not realizing before he spoke that Jeongguk was there.

Hoseok nodded "We all get scared, and it’s the thing that can get you killed." 

"Fear is a funny thing," Jeongguk whispered, walking close so he was standing directly behind Jimin. Something felt wrong, goosebumps rose over Jimin’s skin. Despite Jeongguk not touching him, Jimin could feel him, feel his energy along his back and it clogged his throat and sent his heart into a frenzy. 

"Fear," Jeongguk’s breath hit the back of Jimin’s neck, and it wasn’t warm but icy, making the hair on Jimin’s nape stand on end. Tendrils of something he couldn’t see gripped him, then Jeongguk’s hands closed tight around his arms, making him almost jump out of his skin "fear paralyzes you," Jeongguk went on "makes you useless. An easy prey."

Scared, Jimin was scared. His breath got irregular and his heart beat out of rhythm. He swallowed thickly, trying to gather the courage to turn around and face Jeongguk or snap at him to cut it out but all he wanted to do was run and yet he couldn’t move. 

"Jeongguk," Hoseok scolded, but the energy holding Jimin captive only got colder and colder, seemingly suffocating. Out of sheer stubbornness he got out a few strangled words:

"What do I do?"  

The memory of Jeongguk creating that false danger, the trace of his touch as he gripped Jimin’s arms is a comfort. Something that makes him more prepared to deal with this. He closes his eyes and recalls Jeongguk’s words. 

"Count to ten,"

Jimin nods, even though Jeongguk is only in his head. He counts to ten, feeling his breath going back to normal. 

"Remember that it’s okay to be afraid, but take hold of the fear. You are stronger than your feelings,"

Stronger. Jimin is stronger than his fear. His heart rate comes down, still fast but no longer thumping.

"Think rationally, don’t get yourself hurt." 

Jimin looks around the room, then down at himself. He’s still wearing his mission gear but he’s barefoot and gloveless. He doesn’t know what’s waiting for him in the forest if he does climb down, but he knows that he can’t afford his feet getting cut. He searches the room and finds nothing remotely helpful. Then he looks up at the heads on the walls. The ox’s horns are gleaming, their ends like a piercing knife, like someone has been sharpening them. 

Jimin slowly and carefully, takes one of them down. It’s heavy, heavier than the water buckets Jeongguk wouldn’t let him carry, but Jimin manages, placing it on the ground. He strips the bed sheet and uses the horn to cut it up to wide ribbons. He ties the material in thick layers around his feet, then in one layer on his hands. He takes a deep breath before he opens the window. 

"Keep faith that the others are on their way to help. We will always come for you." 

Outside it’s cold. Jimin’s breath turns to smoke before it dissipates, his hair’s ends frost, and his nose loses sensation. It’s freezing. The roots of the trees are covered with a fine layer of ice, the dirt is too; the wetness seeps through Jimin’s makeshift shoes, making him feel colder. He starts to walk, quickening his pace as much as the entangled trees will let him. The stillness around him is oppressing, like everything is closing down on him and he pushes forward, trying to fight the panic that expands in his chest. 

Keep faith

From behind him, the first sound he hears is a shout, then something thudding on the ground. He doesn’t dare turn around for he knows what it is. The demon is coming after him. 

He discards his caution and dashes into a mad run, jumping over raised roots and pivoting around trees. The forest comes to an abrupt end, leaving him in a great bare circle. The trees on the other side seem too far away, but he needs to get there, hide. He needs to hide.

A blur races, then the demon is standing in front of him, looking like a middle aged, well dressed man. His smirk gives him away, its edges too sharp and his teeth too long.

"My my, you’re a feisty one," 

Jimin takes several steps back, then he turns and takes off running back to the forest. A scream tears out of his throat as the demon grips his hair, pulls him back flush against him. 

"Fairies are usually more docile," he breathes against Jimin’s ear. Jimin thrashes in his hold, kicking and pushing but the hold around him only tightens "I think I like you more," he licks over Jimin’s neck, a wet disgusting trail and the feeling seems to travel through him, makes him shudder.

"Get off!" He jams his elbow into the demon’s stomach and the demon hisses, then yanks harder on Jimin’s hair. 

He clicks his tongue disapprovingly "I don’t think so," 

Keep faith. Jeongguk’s voice whispers in his mind, but it’s so hard to listen to it as the demon turns him around and pushes him to the ground. Jimin’s struggle is useless, he gets pinned down easily, like a butterfly that got its wings tangled in a spider’s web. The demon leans in, his breath hits Jimin’s lips. No.

No, no, nonono, please. He turns his head to the side, tears trailing down his face. No one is coming to help him, he’s alone and he can’t do anything. He closes his eyes, his body goes lax, his mind turning hazy. Shutting off. 

Chapter Text

 

The weight on his chest is lifted with a whoosh of air and a pained scream. Jimin opens his eyes to see Jeongguk standing between him and the demon. Jeongguk is too rigid, the line of his shoulders drawn tight. The white tunic of his costume, the one meant to purify and protect, is flaking off, pieces separating and dissipating in puffs of black smoke; revealing Jeongguk’s forearms and undershirt. Energy seems to pour out of him, and for the first time ever, Jimin can see it, curling around Jeongguk like black snakes, seeping through his skin and dancing around the blade of his sword. 

Jimin swallows, feels a different type of chill settling over the place. Jeongguk moves towards the demon, below his feet the earth cracks, the rifts extending with every step he takes. 

The demon looks terrified. 

He growls at Jeongguk and in a blink he transforms and jumps high over Jeongguk, standing so Jimin is between them. His human facade no longer in place, he appears like a great beast, his head wolf-like and his jaw open, drooling. He throws his head back and howls, the sound making Jimin shiver. 

Jeongguk turns to look at the demon and Jimin flinches at the sight of him. His eyes are fiery red, and his mouth is open to reveal sharp canines. His hair seems somehow bigger, like it’s standing in an attempt to make him take more space, his skin is surrounded by a dark hue and the terrifying black energy pulsates out of him like gushes of icy wind. Jimin can feel it moving his hair and clothes, it’s cold like nothing else is, like it’s going right into his bones and freezing him from the inside out. 

"Jimin, down." Jeongguk orders, his voice so deep and gravelly Jimin almost can’t recognize it. He does as told, covering his head with both arms and he feels the cut through the air, like a great sword swaying through everything. Jimin opens his eyes, the demon had bounced over the wave, but the forest behind him didn't survive. The trees in the front are cut completely clear from the roots and the ones which weren’t in immediate line of the hit are broken and deformed. 

Jeongguk advances, his steps slow, the ground shattering underneath him; pieces of it start to break off, fly around Jeongguk like they’re trapped in his aura. His skin where the energy is seeping out splinters and bleeds, the blood dripping down his forearm and sword. The demon runs to meet him, his claws lifted and he puts it through Jeongguk’s middle and out of his back. Jimin screams in horror, Jeongguk doesn’t react. He grips the demon’s neck and squeezes and like an eggshell the demon’s neck breaks into blood and bone pieces, some of it catching on Jeongguk’s face before it evaporates like nothing was there. 

Blood pours out of Jeongguk, and he turns to face new two demons who came to answer their friend’s call. They both seem petrified, and as soon as Jeongguk faces them fully they both take several steps back. Jeongguk lifts his sword, more blood gushing out of his wound and Jimin moves. Rushes to him in stumbling steps and hugs him, fits himself to Jeongguk’s back and holds on.

Jeongguk is repeating something under his breath, something that makes Jimin’s own breath leave him in a choked off sob. How dare you hurt Jimin.

"I’m alright, Jeongguk. Enough, please." He can feel Jeongguk’s blood seeping through his own clothes, warm and thick and devastating. Jeongguk doesn’t move, his voice comes hoarse.

"Don’t cry," 

It’s only then that Jimin notices the tears he’s shedding onto Jeongguk’s back, the way his breath is shuddering in halted sobs. He nods against Jeongguk. "Alright, I’m alright."

Everything comes to a standstill, Jeongguk’s energy disappears like it never was. The air is cold but it’s the normal cold, and Jeongguk’s hand, warm and big, covers Jimin’s. When he speaks next, Jeongguk sounds like his usual self, only tired.

"Open us a portal." 

The demons nearly fall over their feet in their hurry to carry out the order, perhaps too relieved that they aren’t dying. Jimin moves so he’s standing to the side, his arms still around Jeongguk’s middle, and Jeongguk places his own arm over Jimin’s shoulders, allowing Jimin to take some of his weight.

"You’re hurt." Jimin’s voice trembles and he realizes he is more afraid now than he was when the demon had him pinned down.

"Are you sure you’re alright?" Jeongguk asks, eyes too intense as they scan Jimin, like he’s looking for any signs of damage. 

"I am,"

Jeongguk releases a breath then his knees buckle and he falls down, taking Jimin with him. He ends up sitting on the dirt, Jimin still holding him and Jeongguk’s head over Jimin’s shoulder. The blood has stopped, and Jeongguk insists that he’ll be up in no time but Jimin can’t help the pounding of his heart, the trembling of his hands. It takes too long for the spell to be complete, too long until the portal is open and they finally go back.

 


 

The portal takes them to the yard of the chief’s house, where the sky is still dark and the stars twinkle around the half waxing moon. Jimin is supporting Jeongguk, both of them taking slow, cautious steps when the others run to them. Namjoon and Hoseok in the front.

"Oh thank God you’re back," Namjoon says, Hoseok and Yoongi mimic his sentiment. The three of them gathering around Jimin and Jeongguk. Taehyung lingers in the back, Seokjin supporting him with a hand on his arm, his face is pale, and he looks surprised and perhaps afraid.

Jeongguk groans and Jimin instantly turns to him "Are you alright?" He asks urgently.

"I’m fine, I just need to sit down. There’s no bleeding and the pain is all but gone, stop fretting," he points his eyes to Namjoon as he says the words and Namjoon steps back and smiles, though it doesn’t reach his eyes.

"I am glad you’re both safe. Go rest, we have a lot to discuss in the morning." Everyone’s expression turns gloomy, their smiles pinching to something between worried and exasperated. Jimin shares a confused look with Jeongguk. 

"Help me take him to my room, please." Jimin says, to which Jeongguk immediately protests.

"I don’t need help, I can walk on my own." To prove his point, he moves away from Jimin, swaying mildly before he straightens himself and glares at Hoseok who extended his arms to help. Jimin takes a calming breath before he steps right back into Jeongguk’s space, ignoring the look he gets as he plasters himself to his side. He’s never going to forgive himself if something happens to Jeongguk. 

He feels frayed around the edges, cracks extending through the strong front he’s barely maintaining and he neither can be with others nor away from Jeongguk. The closer he gets to the room the more relieved and the more agitated he gets. 

He settles Jeongguk on the futon and then opens the closet to retrieve the sleeping robes the village woman who led him here when they arrived first had promised. He finds a few of them folded neatly and he takes two out. They’re gray and thin, very simple and wouldn’t be enough to keep them warm but they’re better than the blood soaked clothes they’re currently wearing. 

A knock on the door then it slides open only a crack, Namjoon and Hoseok wordlessly give him bandages, clean towels, a basin and a big clay pitcher filled with hot water. Jimin thanks them profusely and turns to Jeongguk.

"Don’t peek,"   

Jeongguk dutifully keeps his back turned as Jimin strips down his blood stained clothes and puts the robe on. Once he’s done, Jimin helps Jeongguk out of his ruined shirt and pants. The shirt is beyond saving, so Jimin doesn’t cost Jeongguk the effort of shrugging it off, instead he uses a knife to cut it away. Jeongguk throws his pants away and sits with his legs crossed, his middle, arms and forearms and even his hands have dried blood on them and Jimin forces his breath to stay regular. He has to be strong for Jeongguk, has to do this small thing for him in return. He pours water in the basin and wets one of the towels, starts to scrub on Jeongguk’s arms. Jeongguk doesn’t complain, being almost obedient, lifting his arm or turning this way or that on Jimin’s whispered requests. 

The water in the basin turns red soon enough, and Jimin has to replace it twice before all the blood is gone. He inspects Jeongguk’s wounds, now with no blood in the way he realizes Jeongguk was right, they’ve already started to heal. Edges raised and pink and no blood seeping through, and it makes him wonder, not for the first time, what Jeongguk is. Jimin releases a breath, starts to wrap the wounds with bandage, first the big one on Jeongguk’s abdomen, for that one he sits behind Jeongguk, his arms going around him everytime he loops the bandage. 

The tears come then, silent tears that flow down and fall on his hands as he ties the material around Jeongguk because in the end this is all he could do. In the end Jeongguk was hurt because of him and he didn’t even believe Jeongguk was coming to save him, he’d doubted Jeongguk and he regrets it more than anything else.

"Jimin-ssiee!" Jeongguk calls out of the blue, then he starts to fuss, trying to turn around.

"Stay still, ‘m not done yet,"

"Jimin-ssiiieee, ah Jimin-ssiiiee." Jeongguk wiggles, and calls over and over and against it all Jimin starts giggling, even with tears in his eyes.

"Stay still!" He says between laughter. Jeongguk’s voice gentles then.

"Don’t cry, Jimin-ssie." 

"Mm," is all he can get. He faces Jeongguk again, begins wrapping the wound on his left arm, he secures the dressing in place and before he knows what he’s doing he touches his lips over the material. He does the same for every wound, wraps it as gently as he can, kisses it better. It’s a childish idea, something that his mother used to do for him when he was small enough to believe her love can heal him, but it’s the best he can offer. 

The last bandage was supposed to go over Jeongguk’s knuckles, but the wound there is completely gone now. Jimin stares at the smooth skin, not even a scar. The other ones, perhaps not the one in Jeongguk’s middle, are probably gone too.

"You’re a demon."

Jeongguk’s hand, soft as a feather on his jaw, lifts his face up. He takes his hand from Jimin and places it on the back of his head, eyes looking directly into Jimin’s, asking for something Jimin is all too ready to give. 

"Are you scared?" Jeongguk wets his lips. 

Jimin throws himself forward, closing his eyes and letting go. The kiss is sloppy and uncoordinated but it sets fire to Jimin’s body and he pushes closer, whimpering, needing more. Jeongguk flips them over, pinning Jimin under him, the sudden movement causing one side of Jimin’s robe to fall off of his shoulder, half his chest on display. 

Jeongguk stares down at him with hunger, starving and Jimin understands. He spreads his legs, hooks one of them over Jeongguk’s hip to bring him closer, and Jeongguk falls against him eagerly, attaching their lips together again. Their heated erections cram together, both of them hissing at the contact but they don't stop. Jeongguk thrusts down, grinding against him and Jimin throws his head back and moans, lets out another choked off sound when Jeongguk’s teeth find his collarbone and bite down. He blabbers, incoherent sounds and broken syllables of Jeongguk’s name and it doesn’t even matter. 

He feels maddened with need and lust, and he fists both hands in Jeongguk’s black, sweaty locks and pulls him into another kiss, letting his mouth fall open, sucking Jeongguk’s tongue inside and groaning at the taste. Jeongguk pants into their kisses, his hips going clumsy and off rhythm but it still feels so good. Too good. Jimin’s hazy brain tells him they shouldn’t be doing this with Jeongguk so recently hurt, but the way Jeongguk is moving on top of him, his perfect weight and heat makes him helpless to anything but surrendering and asking for more. 

More more more until it’s all over in hot, blinding white and liquid heat under his robe where Jeongguk is still thrusting against him. He kisses Jeongguk again, feels him going rigid above him and then he shudders, his breath hitching before it releases in a long sigh and he falls on Jimin.

Jimin doesn’t ask him to move, he simply circles his arms around him and closes his eyes. They can deal with everything later.   

 


 

Jimin wakes up to the sound of soft steps going around the room, he opens his eyes, blinking multiple times. Jeongguk is removing the bandages from around his left forearm, his right arm is bare and completely healed. Jimin sits up, the cover falling down revealing his naked chest and his cheeks go hot. He remembers clearly that he was wearing the robe when he went to sleep last night.

And he definitely didn’t clean himself. 

"Good morning," Jeongguk says, now opening the dressing on his middle. He nods and removes that one as well, the wound isn’t healed, but it looks like it’s two weeks old. 

" ‘morning," 

A bit of awkward silence then Jeongguk cleans his throat "Someone called us for breakfast. I was going to wake you." 

Jimin nods, staring at Jeongguk’s exposed torso before Jeongguk pulls the robe back up. "You can wear these for now," Jeongguk tells him, pointing at folded clothes that he’d placed on the floor near Jimin’s bed. 

He feels like asking Jeongguk to look away, but after everything that’s happened the night before it seems a bit out of place so he stands up, naked and starts putting the clothes on; insistently ignoring his blush and the gaze he can feel along his back. His clothes are like the villagers’, thick pants and a wool tunic, both brown and a bit faded. They’re scratchy against his skin, but they’re warm and he can’t complain. 

"You’re going to stay in that?" He asks. Jeongguk looks down at his thin robe and shrugs. 

"I will change after we eat and talk," 

The others are waiting for them in the same hall they slept in, their futons has been removed and small, low tables has been placed in front of every member. Jeongguk takes his place next to Namjoon and Jimin sits beside him. Hoseok is sitting on the other side of Namjoon and opposite to them, Yoongi, Seokjin and Taehyung have settled. 

"How are you Jeongguk?" Namjoon asks.

"Good as new,"

They all nod, seemingly satisfied with the answer. Jimin is still trying to wrap his head around how out of normal Jeongguk’s power is, even for a demon, he's just too powerful. 

"After you’d followed Jimin to the demons’ realm," Namjoon begins, his expression turning serious "we asked the villagers to provide the ingredients we needed for the protection spell, so we could come help you. They were confused as to why we wanted to get Jimin back,"

Namjoon pauses, as if taking in the impact of his words. Jimin feels like this isn’t all, there is something bigger than just prejudice or wonder at saving a fairy.

"They were convinced that our mission was to deliver the fairy to the demon so he’d leave them alone."

"What the hell!" Jeongguk booms. 

"That’s not all," Yoongi adds, face grim "the idea wasn’t their own. Apparently, when they’d sent for help the temple had sent back a letter for the demon-"

"What?" Jeongguk says again.

"The villagers don’t know what the content of the letter was, as it was sealed but the instructions they got was to help the demon get the fairy when the team from the temple arrived." 

"But that means…" Jimin starts.

"They know. Whoever sent the letter to the demon, they know about Jimin and they wanted to get rid of him." Jeongguk finishes for him. 

"The villagers weren’t sure that we should interfere and get Jimin back, they said…" Hoseok stops dramatically, like he knows the next words will have a big effect on them "that the letter had the Kim family seal on it." 

Jimin’s eyes turn to Seokjin who is unaffected, beside him Taehyung’s face looks ashen; like he’s more scared than Jimin is. 

"I’ve thought about this," Seokjin begins "there’s only one explanation for the fact that they sent us here and that is they still want Jeongguk in the temple and so they were looking to get rid of Jimin without a fuss. Outside where Jeongguk wouldn’t be exposed breaking the temple’s regulations. Now that obviously isn’t how this went,"

"Meaning?" Jeongguk says impatiently.

"Meaning if we acted like nothing happened, we wouldn’t expose you and they won’t either because if that was their plan they wouldn’t have bothered with sending a letter to the demon." 

"Sounds logical," Namjoon says. 

"But then what?" Jeongguk asks "We just go on pretending that nothing is amess when someone there knows the truth?"

"Until we know for sure who the person is, we have no other choice. Just be more careful, don’t wander alone." The last words, Seokjin says while looking at Jimin. 

Jeongguk huffs and crosses his arms, but he seems convinced and ready to go with it despite the annoyance. The team members agree and the rest of the meal goes on in silence. Jimin can’t help but notice how Seokjin completely glossed over the fact that the letter carried his family seal, that whoever the high monk is, he’s a Kim and no one else seems to be bothered by this. 

Jimin keeps stealing glances at Seokjin but he’s as calm and collected as a prince should be. Taehyung however, is a different story, he still looks sick, and the food on his plate is untouched. No, not sick, but more like he’s hiding something. Guilty. 

"Get ready to leave, we stayed longer than we ought to." 

Jimin doesn’t mean to follow them, it happens like that and he catches the last of their conversation. Taehyung and Seokjin are whispering again, Taehyung’s question urgent.

"What are we going to do now?"

"It’s alright, I have a plan." Seokjin answers.

Jimin loses sight of them as they get out of the house and he has to continue up to his temporary room, heart pounding loud in his chest. Taehyung wouldn’t do anything to hurt Jimin, he’s his friend, the one who welcomed him when no one else did. As for Seokjin...

Jimin doesn't know what to think. 

 


 

It’s their last night camping out, Jeongguk has told him they would be in the temple some time around sunset tomorrow, and thus finally have comfortable sleeping arrangements. Seokjin is taking the first watch, sitting near the opening of the cave they’re using as a camp for the second time on this journey. Taehyung joins him, and Seokjin seems disapproving at this but he sighs and moves to make room for Taehyung to sit next to him. They don’t talk, Seokjin is looking outside and Taehyung is looking at his hands, Jimin feels awkward just looking at them. 

A line of heat plasters itself to Jimin’s back, and he instantly recognizes it as Jeongguk. Jeongguk’s arms come around his waist, pulling him closer. He’s been more handsy ever since what happened in the village, even though he hasn’t addressed it or taken a direct action, like kissing Jimin again. Jimin waits a bit, eyes still on Seokjin.

"They’ve been acting weird," Jimin whispers. Jeongguk’s breath hits his ear as Jeongguk answers him, his voice just as low and careful.

"Who?"

"Seokjin-hyung and Taehyung."

"What do you mean?"

Jimin turns in the hold, pushing back just a bit so he can look at Jeongguk "I think Seokjin knows something about what happened in the village,"

"That’s impossible."

"Why? The letter was sealed with the Kim seal, and he was so calm about it. I thought he would freak out like he usually does. And Taehyung looked worried and he hasn’t been eating well, Seokjin had to force him into eating his dinner tonight."

"You’re overthinking." Jeongguk dismisses. 

"I really don’t think I am."

"Jimin," Jeongguk starts, exasperation in his tone "They are the ones who helped us the most. Hyung gave us the spell to hide you, and Taehyung was the one who opened the portal for me. If they wanted to hurt you, they wouldn’t have bothered in the first place. And about the freak out, that’s just how Seokjin-hyung is, he’ll make a fuss when it’s not a big deal but he’s always efficient when it counts." 

Jimin hums, deciding not to push further. Jeongguk has a point, but something isn’t sitting well with him about the whole deal. If someone of the higher ups has noticed him, then when? He hasn’t been in the temple for more than a month and if they’d known from the start then why accept him as a knight. It doesn't make sense. 

"Jimin-ssi," Jeongguk whisper-shouts and Jimin’s giggle is an instant reaction to the name at this point. He looks up at Jeongguk, who’s smiling at him, the fire reflected in his eyes and casting shadows on his face, making him look older, alluring. He wants to kiss him, but instead averts his eyes and borrows closer, tucking his head under Jeongguk’s chin and sighing. Sleep calls to him sweetly, and Jimin follows, lets his lids fall shut. 

Chapter Text

They can see the temple from where they are, everyone has dismounted and decided to walk the rest of the way, chattering easily. Jimin is walking beside Jeongguk when he notices Taehyung stopping, allowing them to gain on him. He turns to check on him, and Taehyung waves him over, a hesitant smile on his face. 

Jimin approaches him, and Taehyung’s hand goes to his left pocket, a move so similar to the one Seokjin had stopped on that night seemingly ages ago, but Seokjin isn’t here now. Taehyung pulls out a small pouch, it’s white and embroidered, tied with a pink ribbon, the most threatening thing in the world. Taehyung offers it to him, and Jimin accepts it; confused.

"Pills, like the ones you’ve got. For the," Taehyung gestures with his hand to indicate Jimin as a whole. Jimin looks down at the pouch in his hand, so much heavier than the one he had, has more than he used to have. Not the same one, then. "Seokjin made more, when we were in the village. I want the pouch back, though." He smiles like the sun coming out, so pure and beautiful that Jimin has to stare. Taehyung walks in front of him and Jimin can’t move.

Can it be? How didn’t he notice. No, he did notice but he dismissed it because what are the odds.

" Wow Taehyung, you're really pretty."

He is, Taehyung is beautiful. So much it’s inhuman.

"When I first applied, they said I'm too beautiful, thought I'm a fairy and sprayed me with this special water to test me."

When Jimin complained about how unfair it was that he couldn’t choose his master, Taehyung said  I know. 

Jimin stares at Taehyung’s back and he knows it to be real.

"It’s you, isn’t it. The fairy the demon was supposed to take. Me losing the pills was just a coincidence." It’s not even a question, and the way Taehyung freezes is all the confirmation Jimin needs. Taehyung turns to him, marches the few feet between them and grips Jimin’s arms.

"Please don’t tell anyone." 

"I won’t, Taehyung." Jimin smiles what he hopes is a reassuring smile, and nods. Taehyung releases a breath and lets go. 

"I’m sorry I couldn’t give them to you earlier, if I had known-"

"No," Jimin shakes his head "it was better this way, if you did help me everyone was going to know about you." 

Taehyung nods "I don’t think the others would tell, I trust them but Seokjin..."

"He doesn't like to share now, does he?" Jimin jokes. Taehyung grins.

"He says a secret between more than two isn’t a secret." 

"So does he know who’s the one that’s been talking to the demon?" Jimin asks. He takes the pill, then falls in line with Taehyung, walking side by side and a bit behind the others so they won’t be heard. 

"He does. He said he’ll take care of it." 

Jimin lets it rest for a while, in his mind everything starts to make sense; how worried Seokjin was when he first met Jimin, the extent of his knowledge about fairies and the ease in which he made a spell, and the fact that he stopped Taehyung from helping when Jimin lost his share. He was only protecting Taehyung and Jimin can never fault him for it. 

Seokjin in the end, turned out to be way more clever than any of them gave him credit for. 

It’s too bad Jimin can’t tell Jeongguk, he’d sure like to be smug about being right. Seokjin was hiding something, and how ironic is it that that something turned out to be a fairy?

 


 

"Jimin knows," Taehyung whispers, his voice soft despite how he’s rushed to say the words as soon as they were alone. Seokjin pauses.

They just got back, both are still wearing their mission gear, and they are still unpacking their things when Taehyung speaks. He stops what he’s doing, waiting for Seokjin to answer him; the furrow between his brows showing his distress.

"I expected he would notice, especially after you insisted on giving him the pills,"

"I wish I gave them to him from the start," Taehyung lowers his head "he could’ve gotten hurt."

"If it wasn’t him, then the demon might’ve gotten you, and how would we save you when you’re the only one who can open a portal without a time consuming spell? We’ve been lucky it went as it did."

"If I’d given him the pill, the villagers wouldn’t have known who’s the fairy, and I wouldn’t have been in a different room. The whole thing might’ve never happened."

"And then we wouldn’t have known someone is trying to get rid of you,"

Taehyung huffs but he doesn’t argue. Seokjin gets it, he’s sorry that Jimin had to be taken, he regrets that he couldn’t do more to help but he won’t apologize for placing Taehyung first.

"As long as he doesn’t tell Jeongguk," Seokjin says, smiling, then in a higher pitch he adds "he's too loud, everyone will know about this!"

Taehyung grins, recognizing the words to be Jeongguk’s own description of Seokjin "You sure hold a grudge."

Seokjin shrugs.

"So who do you think it is?"

"Kim Byungwoo," Seokjin replies. There isn’t a doubt in his mind. The monk is the only one who worked in his family long enough to know that Taehyung wasn’t really there from the start. He’d been Seokjin’s instructor when he was a small boy and he knew everyone who lived in the palace.

"What are you going to do?" The furrow between his brows is back, and despite how beautiful Taehyung looks in every expression, Seokjin doesn’t like to see him anxious.

"You go to sleep, and it’ll all be good in the morning." With that he leaves, heading straight for the monk’s quarters.

The halls are empty and dark, making them look bigger than they are during the morning. Seokjin’s feet tap gently on the wooden floor, the sound echoing off the walls. It’s too melodical; the steps measured like he was taught so many years ago, to walk gracefully and without rush and it’s as far away from the beating of his heart and the storm raging in his veins.

They’ve taught him so many things, but they never told him how to act in a situation like this, where he has so much to lose if things went wrong. Byungwoo could refuse to cooperate, he could choose to tell the others and what will become of him? If Jeongguk was discovered the worst they could do is force Jeongguk to leave, but he’d still have Jimin. Seokjin wouldn’t. Taehyung doesn’t belong to him, he isn’t Taehyung’s master. If they were discovered, Seokjin would have to give him up. He doesn’t think he could, and what would be his other choice? Run away? To where? Would Taehyung even want that if it happened, if Seokjin turned useless and couldn’t protect him anymore?

But then he remembers, Byungwoo wanted to sell Taehyung off to a demon, uncaring of his fate and all the fear in him turns into rage. He has another choice, he just hopes it doesn’t come to it.

The door to Byungwoo’s room looms in front of him, and Seokjin has to brave through it. His heart is still burning with how much he wants to snap the bastard’s neck and his mind keeps supplying him with horrible things that could’ve happened to Taehyung, but Seokjin knows he looks calm on the outside and right now it’s what he’s betting on. Letting his anger get the best of him is as good as losing already, and this is not something he can afford to lose. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, recalling all his lessons about negotiation and being in control. He summons up the mask of nonchalant confidence that he uses when he stands in his father’s presence and he can feel the ice in his eyes even without seeing it.

He knocks on the door, and without waiting he announces himself "It’s Kim Seokjin,"

He hears hurried steps on the other side then the door slides open almost violently, Byungwoo bows to him deeply, moving to make room for him to come inside. He keeps his head down until Seokjin motions for him to raise it up.

"Your highness, to what do I owe this honor?"

Seokjin narrows his eyes and Byungwoo swallows "You know why I’m here," he says.

"Your hig-" Seokjin stops him with a gesture of his hand, hardening his voice for his next words:

"Don’t even think about giving me excuses. You had no right."

"I only wanted to do what’s best for you!" Byungwoo rushes to say, bowing again but he doesn’t shut up "I didn’t want the dishonor of keeping a stolen fairy to befall the prince."

Seokjin lets out a long breath "What’s best for me is no one’s concern but my own,"

"What you’re risking for him is too much, my prince. He isn’t worth-"

"Don’t," Seokjin warns, feeling the fire in his chest rise up again. "You knew something about me that no one else did and instead of helping me you went and acted on your own,"

"I apologize," Byungwoo bows once more.

"You were my teacher, and I respected you. I trusted you," Seokjin emphasizes the past tense and feels a small bit of relief at the flinch his words cause Byungwoo, so he goes on "and you, you betrayed me." He says the words with disappointment and Byungwoo falls to his knees, hands and forehead on the floor.

"Your highness, I would never betray you like this again. I would give my life for you if you asked. I would do anything for your forgiveness."

"Did you tell anyone else about Taehyung?"

"I didn’t, I swear to you. I want it to stay a secret as much as you do."

"Leave," he says, "I don’t want you to stay in the temple."

"I will leave at once, I’ll do anything."

Seokjin feels a pang of regret, he knows that anything this man does is out of some obsessive love for him and his family. This blind idolization for his position, and he feels bad about exploiting it but he has no other choice. This man would’ve killed Taehyung, and Seokjin has to remove him, he has to keep Taehyung safe.

"I don’t want you here when the sun rises."   

Byungwoo keeps his head down, "As you wish, Your highness."

"This is the last request I’ll make, so take it to heart, would you?"

"I promise you."

"Take care of yourself, teacher."

He turns his back and leaves, hoping that it’s the last he sees of Byungwoo.

Taehyung is already asleep when Seokjin gets back, curled so he’s facing Seokjin’s futon. His hair falling on the pillow like a halo, his long lashes resting like butterfly wings on the pink apples of his cheeks and his lips are parted to let in soft breaths. Seokjin is so thankful for every precious one.

He doesn’t want to linger, but somewhere in his time of knowing Taehyung he has developed this unhealthy habit of staring at him. Taehyung is mesmerizing when he’s awake, beautiful and radiant to the point that Seokjin can’t look at him directly sometimes. Sleep softens him, adds a gentle allure to him, a hint of vulnerability that makes Seokjin’s heart ache, that compels him to reach out and touch. He doesn’t dare to, not when Taehyung is awake and never when he’s sleeping, it’s too much of a boundary to cross, feels like he’s taking something that never belonged to him.

His fingers trace the air just above Taehyung’s lips, just a hair over his jaw line, and he wishes he has the right to close this small gap that feels miles big.

"Jin?" Taehyung blinks at him, gives him a heart stopping, sleepy smile and Seokjin can’t help his answering grin.

"It’s alright, go back to sleep."

Taehyung nuzzles back into his pillow, letting out a soft sigh " ‘night, Jin."

"Goodnight, Taehyung."

More than a fairy, he looks like an angel.

 


 

Jimin misses his step again, and he stops and looks at Hoseok who offers him an encouraging smile.

"Do you want to take a break?"

Jimin nods. He’s not tired, but he’s not focused and training with half of his mind on something else is only a waste of time and energy. Hoseok catches on, and he lifts both his brows:

"Something is distracting you," Hoseok says "you can ask, I don’t mind."

Jimin smiles, thankful for how easy talking to Hoseok is.

"It’s about Jeongguk," Jimin starts.

"Ohhh, lovers' quarrel?" Hoseok grins.

"No!" Jimin replies, indignant. He can feel the heat rushing to his cheeks but he ignores it "I’m just...he’s a demon."

"You don’t seem convinced." There’s a hint of teasing in Hoseok’s words but it’s somehow still encouraging.

"He’s too strong, even for a demon." Jimin’s mind brings all of his memories of Jeongguk’s strength, the black energy, the wounds disappearing. He’s never heard of a demon that’s capable of healing so fast.

"Surprisingly, Jeongguk isn’t a whole demon. His mother is human,"

Jimin blinks multiple times, trying to take in the information. Half demon, half human. "Is that even possible? A demon father and a human mother?"

"He’s real, isn’t he?" Hoseok answers.

Jimin takes a few more moments to absorb it then he looks up at Hoseok again, taking it as a cue Hoseok goes on "He’s Noah's son."

" The Noah? The demon who stopped the disaster twelve years ago?" Jimin asks, the surprise evident in his voice.

"The one and only."

"That’s...that’s a lot to live with." Hoseok nods and wordlessly, Jimin gets back up to continue from where they left off. It is a lot to live with, being the son of someone like Noah. It must’ve come with a whole baggage of expectations and comparison. Jimin can’t imagine what Jeongguk’s childhood was like, he should’ve been around eight when he lost his father.

"What about his mother?" Jimin asks as he starts the dance.

"She’s alive if that’s what you’re asking about."

Jimin opens his fan and starts the sequence of movements from the start, spinning and bending. He can feel the energy flowing out of him, and he focuses on making it move the way he wants it to. He keeps dancing, doesn’t ask again but his mind refuses to leave the subject. He tries to imagine what Jeongguk’s mother looks like, she must be beautiful. How is she with Jeongguk, he wonders, is she kind like Jimin’s own mother was? His imagination runs, and he tries to picture Jeongguk as a kid, the thought brings a smile to his face. Jeongguk as a grumpy six years old, who refuses to eat or sleep on time and replies only with grunts and perhaps scare the other kids away with the way he glares. Adorable.

"I think the decision to learn this type of spells is a good one, you’re definitely more motivated," Hoseok’s voice breaks him out of his daydreaming.

"Thank you!"

"Now go back to the start, you missed a lot of steps."

 


 

It’s been one of his complaints from early on in the temple, now nearly two months later, he’s still not used to it. Sharing the bath. So of course, he’s taken to wait until it’s night time, and go bathe when no one else was around, and it has worked for him perfectly until now. After his kidnapping, and Seokjin’s warning not to wander alone, Jeongguk has stuck to him like glue, following him around and never letting him out of his sight. Seokjin was trying to cover his tracks, and according to Taehyung the whole thing has been dealt with. No one knew about him from the start, but Jeongguk doesn’t know that and Jimin can’t tell him the truth so he deals.

The bathroom is big, and empty as it is; it exaggerates every sound, the slap of their bare feet on the tiles and the splashing of the water. Jimin sets his towel and clean clothes aside then places his soaps and body oils in a row to the side.

"You’re so picky," Jeongguk says, eyeing the scented soap. A smile spreads across his face then "You do realize that eventually your fairy things will run out and then you’ll have to use my soap?"

Jimin rolls his eyes. Possessiveness over a person is a concept Jimin heard of but never encountered, nor he’s expected to be on the receiving end of, but if Jeongguk could be one thing then it’s possessive. He’s shown hints of it from the very start, back then it was more subtle; just a hand on the small of Jimin’s back or a glare at the people he’s talking to. But it grew, and Jimin would have to be blind to miss the satisfied smile Jeongguk wore every time Jimin had to wear something that belongs to Jeongguk, or the way his eyes would harden and how he’d be snappy and childish when he isn’t having all of Jimin’s attention. This soap thing isn’t new either, Jeongguk probably wants Jimin to smell like him.

"Hoseok-hyung said that we’re free to leave every once in a while, and that there’s a festival soon. He mentioned that they sell fairy merchandise there, I’m sure I can buy more then."

Jeongguk’s smile turns smug "Yeah, with what money?"

"Hoseok-hyung promised he’d pay for it." Jimin answers, pretending not to know the effect his words are having on Jeongguk. He bites his lips to hold his smile when Jeongguk’s smug expression turns sour.

"I’ll buy it for you," he says intensely.

"Thanks!"

Jeongguk smiles again and this time it’s a happy one. Jimin doesn't bother hiding his own.

He stands up and loosens the belt holding his robe when Jeongguk’s voice stops him

"What? No ‘don’t peek’ this time?" He’s staring directly into Jimin’s eyes, a challenge glinting in his. A delicious chill runs down Jimin’s spine and he feels his skin going hot but he doesn’t back down, keeps looking at Jeongguk as he undoes the belt and lets the rope fall down. Jeongguk’s breath goes shallow, his pupils dilating as he stares. Jimin smiles at him, trying to seem more confident than he feels. He gives his back to Jeongguk and walks to one of the many built in tubs, the water splashes as he settles in, and how hot it is does nothing to soothe his wildly beating heart. The sound of cloth hitting the floor reaches his ears, but he doesn’t turn to look.

Jeongguk’s steps echo and then he’s in beside Jimin. Jimin faces him, opening his mouth to give a mocking comment, but his lips are taken by a furious kiss and his mind goes blank. His hands go to Jeongguk’s shoulders, holding on to wet, hot skin and he whimpers as Jeongguk licks at the seams of his mouth, opens up and lets him lick inside.

Jeongguk’s hands find his thighs under the water, and he grips them and lifts Jimin up, settling him over his lap. Jimin gasps at the feeling of Jeongguk’s hard cock against his ass, can’t help the sound he lets out as Jeongguk grinds up against him.

Jimin fists both hands in Jeongguk’s hair and kisses him harder, his hips moving forward of their own accord, pushing his cock on Jeongguk’s abs. Jeongguk is all hard plains under him, a contrast to the way Jimin is soft and easily bruised and the difference, the idea that Jeongguk can break him apart if he wanted to but choosing to mold his hands to Jimin’s shoulder blades, choosing to grope and caress and hold, makes Jimin wants more of him. Jeongguk’s hands trail down his back and settle on the globes of his ass, gripping and massaging, opening him up. He can feel the water against his hole, and then the hot feel of Jeongguk’s length and he breaks the kiss to moan, hides his face in Jeongguk’s neck and licks the water drops that taste like Jeongguk.

"Jeongguk," he moans "Jeongguk,"

"Jimin, can I?" Jeongguk says, breathless. Jimin doesn't know what he’s asking permission for but he nods frantically because right now Jeongguk can have whatever he wants. Jeongguk brushes his fingers along Jimin’s crack, over his sensitive entrance and Jimin’s hold around Jeongguk’s neck tightens.

"Yes, yes, yes." he babbles, opens his blurry eyes and catches sight of one of the bottles of oil he uses after the bath. He grabs at it and gives it to Jeongguk. Jeongguk’s arms come around his waist and he locks eyes with Jimin. Jimin nods, closes his eyes and falls into another kiss, sloppy and wet. Jeongguk growls into his mouth, and then his fingers, slick with lube prods at Jimin’s hole. One finger goes in to the end, and Jimin’s mouth opens in a gasp. Jeongguk shushes him, kisses his jaw and ear then sucks his earlobe and bites on it. His finger inside Jimin feels weird, but the idea that Jimin is taking a part of Jeongguk inside him makes him push back, the rim catches on the tip of the other finger, and the sudden jerk of sensation makes Jimin spasm.

"More," he slurs, and Jeongguk adds another finger. The stretch is more prominent, but it’s better, and Jimin instantly rocks back, gasping at the feeling of Jeongguk’s fingers reaching so deep inside him. Jeongguk moves them in and out in a rhythmic motion, slow and careful, then he changes the angle and fire is spreading through Jimin.

"Jeongguk!" he moans, Jeongguk does it again and again until Jimin can’t do anything but move his hips back and pant and ask for more. Jeongguk has three fingers up his ass and he’s breathing harshly, kissing along Jimin’s neck, his voice has gone raspy when he talks.

"Are you ready? Jimin is it okay now?"

Jimin doesn’t know, he’s as clueless as Jeongguk, experiencing this for the first time. He opens his eyes to look at Jeongguk and wonders if he looks as wrecked. Jeongguk’s cheeks are red, his lips even more so, wet all over and panting. His eyes round and big, glittering like they hold all the stars in them and he’s looking at Jimin with a desperation that Jimin can feel to his soul.

"Yes," he whispers against Jeongguk’s cheek, planting a kiss there.

Jeongguk moves one hand to Jimin’s hip, the other he uses to guide his cock inside. The head catches on Jimin’s rim, so much thicker than Jeongguk’s fingers, and the pressure builds impossibly more. He closes his eyes and breathes through the burn of stretch, his nails digging into Jeongguk’s shoulders. Jeongguk’s hands massage up and down his flanks and over his thighs and Jimin lowers himself down. They both stop when Jeongguk’s all the way in, Jimin feeling so full he might burst and Jeongguk is looking at him with awe.

"You alright? Am I hurting you?"

Jimin shakes his head, places his arms around Jeongguk’s neck and holds on, feeling something inside him shift when Jeongguk’s arms loop below his own to hold him back. Slowly, Jimin pushes himself up, all the way until only the tip of Jeongguk’s cock is inside him then back down again. They both moan, and Jimin does it again and again, bouncing on Jeongguk’s cock until his thighs start trembling. Jeongguk’s hands settle on his hips then he takes over, thrusting up into Jimin faster and harder, hitting just the right places inside to make him throw his head back and cry out.

Their moans and grunts and heavy breathing resonate in the empty bathroom, mix with the splatter of water, with the smacking of their lips, too loud and too obscene. Someone could hear them, could walk in on them like this and Jimin’s skin goes hotter. He grinds his cock onto Jeongguk, and the friction alongside the way Jeongguk’s moving in him makes him tighten. His muscles go rigid as the coiling in his belly turns to warmth, and then he closes his eyes and loses it, calling out to Jeongguk.

He misses a few seconds in which Jeongguk must’ve come too, because Jimin can feel him softening inside and he feels a pang of regret at the fact that they’re in water. He can’t feel Jeongguk’s come in him.

He blinks sleepily, nuzzles into Jeongguk’s hair, enjoys the way Jeongguk is still holding him.

"We should probably bathe for real now," he says, not recognizing his voice from how hoarse it is. He really is loud during this. He blushes at the thought, making a mental note to try and keep it down next time.

Next time.

"Yeah, alright." Jeongguk says "but you gotta wash my back,"

"Only if you carry me back to the room when we’re done."

He feel’s Jeongguk’s laugh more than hears it, Jeongguk’s shoulder moving under his cheek.

"Deal."

 


 

 Jimin is standing in the middle of the yard, every other team is done with their training but some of them had lingered behind to watch and it’s making Jimin more nervous. Today he’s showing them what he’s been training for with Hoseok for the past two weeks. He’s honestly thought it would take longer, and admittedly he does need more work to perfect it but he’s ready to tell the others about it.

"Okay guys, stand in formation." Hoseok calls. He’s the one responsible for their fighting plans and formations, being the fastest after Jeongguk and capable of offense and defense he works as a connection between the other team members. Jimin has seen some of their battle formations but they’ve never needed it in a fight yet, the only mission he went to didn’t go as planned.

"Jeongguk, you stand alone facing them."

Jeongguk, hesitates for a moment before he does as told, Jimin stands behind him. He gives Jeongguk a reassuring smile and a nod when Jeongguk turns back to look at him. Jeongguk returns his smile and stands a bit straighter.

"Okay, so Jimin has been studying defense arts," Hoseok starts "and he thinks he can manipulate his energy fast and fluidly enough to cover Jeongguk in a battle, which we’ve been failing to do."

Jeongguk while obviously the strongest member in the group is seriously lacking when it comes to defense, he chooses to charge and get a damage that could be avoidable. Tending to over trust his ability to heal. Jimin has nightmares about it, about what would’ve happened if that demon had aimed for Jeongguk’s heart instead of his abdomen and so he offered the idea to Hoseok.

Hoseok has told him that the idea was discussed before but got dismissed because following Jeongguk would take someone’s full attention and Hoseok, who is the one most suitable for the job is needed more to aid in attack and help in defense with the other members. Now with Jimin around, they have more leeway with the formation and Hoseok fully supported his idea. If Jimin and Jeongguk succeeded in working a complete unit the rest of the team would be more free.

"The idea is to test how well this works, so Jimin and Jeongguk would be fighting against the rest of us."  

Jeongguk pulls out his sword, seemingly happy to try this out "Oh this is ought to be fun."

Jimin lets out a breath, and watches as Hoseok walks and gives them instructions and then they stand so they’re in the shape of a rhombus, the far end is Yoongi, Hoseok in front and Namjoon and Seokjin on both sides; just behind them and to the middle Taehyung readies his bow, pointing right at Jeongguk. Seokjin and Namjoon has their swords out, and Yoongi is carrying a number of written spells. Hoseok fights barehanded.

"Just a reminder," Hoseok starts "we’re going all out, so you people watching might want to take a step back."

Jimin looks around to find that their audience has increased, all the teams gathering up to witness the strongest team training. Jimin swallows. All out. He needs to be careful or Jeongguk might get hurt for real.

"And go!"

The moment the words are out, everyone moves. Jeongguk clashes swords with Seokjin, and they tangle for a bit before Seokjin suddenly Jumps out of the way and an arrow comes right for Jeongguk. It takes less than a blink, the arrow breaks as Jimin hits it with energy, swinging his fan to control the flow. He blocks two hits from Hoseok and Namjoon, then another one from Seokjin.

They can’t hit Jeongguk but Jeongguk can hit them. In theory. Each strike of his sword is met with one of their own, the sound of iron clacking fills the place. Jeongguk retreats, lets his energy flow then swings his sword, sending the energy in a wave. Hoseok stands in its path, and bends his body in a fluid motion, his energy walking alongside Jeongguk’s and redirecting it. He spins and sends it back and Jeongguk keeps charging forward, but the hit never reaches him as Jimin disintegrates it with a burst of his own energy. It’s exhausting, and he doesn’t know how long he can maintain it but it’s working. Jeongguk is untouchable.

Blinding light suddenly hits him and he falls back on the ground and grunting in pain.

"Hey! That’s cheating!" Jeongguk shouts, stomping his foot.

"No, it’s not." Taehyung answers. Jimin looks down at himself to see what hit him. It’s one of Taehyung’s arrows wrapped with one of Yoongi’s papers, to make it safe no doubt or else Jimin would be dead by now "we’re fighting in two teams, he’s in your team so he’s fair game." Taehyung continues. Jeongguk huffs.

"Fine!"

"What Taehyung is trying to tell you," Hoseok says "is that we can’t use this in a battle unless both of you are protecting both of you."

"He’s right. This is great if it was perfected, but with Jimin protecting you, you’re acting more reckless while you," Namjoon turns to Jimin "are forgetting that you’re a target too. You’re too focused on Jeongguk."

Yoongi claps his hands "I’d say this is a success, but we need more work on it."

Jimin nods. He’ll have to be at least twice as fast to be able to block attacks for both of them. Jeongguk runs to him, sheathes his sword then ruffles Jimin’s hair.

"You were amazing, Jimin-ssi."

Jimin tries to put his hair back together only for Jeongguk to mess it up again "I don’t think I was. Taehyung fake killed me,"

"This is why we train before going to battle. We’re supposed to learn from it. We should both train with Hoseok instead of just you training, so we can get used to each other’s moves."

Jimin smiles "Alright," he then leans in and whispers so only Jeongguk can hear him "I’m going to take a bath."

The effect of his words on Jeongguk is instantaneous, Jeongguk straightens, his back going rigid and his eyes turn heated. He licks his lips and nods and when Jimin moves Jeongguk follows him.  

Chapter Text

 

It’s a beautiful morning and for once, they’re not training. The council has sent for leaders of the teams for a meeting and the rest were left waiting. Jeongguk was called too, and so Jimin has left the room in search for Taehyung.

From afar, he spies Taehyung sitting under one of the cherry trees, the blooming season is over leaving the branches bare from the flowers, but the trees are no less beautiful. He’s feeding the birds, and he’s got quite the number around him, the sun is bathing him in gold making him look unreal.

"I never thought people wouldn’t notice," Seokjin’s voice startles Jimin, he hasn’t sensed him approaching.

"Hmm?" Jimin asks, turning around to look at Seokjin. Seokjin’s eyes are fixed on Taehyung, an impossibly fond expression on his face. There’s a brave bird moving closer to Taehyung now, and instead of throwing more crumbs for him Taehyung places them on his palm and waits. The bird jumps on, and the grin that lights Taehyung’s face makes Jimin smile despite himself. When he glances at Seokjin again he sees a mirror dumb smile on Seokjin’s face. 

"Him. He’s so beautiful I thought no one would believe he’s a human." Seokjin elaborates. Jimin gets it, even for fairies, Taehyung is beautiful. He wonders how Taehyung looks with his real hair and eyes; must be a sight to behold. 

"It’s just you," Jimin tells him. It’s Seokjin’s turn to give a humming question and Jimin goes on, "he’s very beautiful, it’s true, but I think he looks more beautiful to you specifically." 

For the first time in their conversation, Seokjin looks at him. He appears bewildered, but then he smiles and nods, goes back to staring at Taehyung.

Jimin had mostly become good friends with all of the other members, but this is the first time he’s talking to Seokjin alone. They’ve always been the two of the group who share an awkward silence when the others leave. 

"I didn’t like you at all when I met you," Jimin blurts, feels his cheeks getting hot at the needless confession.

"Yeah, I made quite the fuss about you. I apologize, it has not been my intention to make you feel unwelcome,"

Jimin shakes his head, "It’s not why I didn’t like you. At the beginning, I thought it was your position as a prince that made you so worried, and I got it. It’s a lot of pressure and a lot of people waiting for you to slip,"

"But I hated you for hurting him," Jimin says "maybe hate is a stronger word than what I felt, but the morning when I saw Taehyung after what I assumed was you rejecting him I wanted to punch you."

Seokjin laughs, but it’s not a happy sound. It’s resigned and hollow "I wouldn’t stop you if you still want to, I earned that."

"No, you didn’t." Jimin says. He feels like a weight has been moved from his chest, like he’s breathing easily because he’s not worried about Taehyung anymore, because he’s reconciling with Seokjin and moving forward. He doesn’t want any bad feelings between them, wants all the team members to trust him so he can trust them back. 

"In the village," Seokjin starts, then he purses his lips and takes a breath like he’s bracing himself "I stopped him from giving you the pills, Jimin. I’m sorry you got hurt there."

"But you’re not sorry it was me ," Jimin doesn’t wait for an answer but the way Seokjin looks down is confirmation enough "and I get that too, I’m glad it wasn’t him."

"Thank you, Jimin." Seokjin says after a bit of silence "He’s been happier with you around."

"He’s the happiest around you," 

"I’m not the best choice for him," 

"I used to think that you didn’t love him, so you chose to turn him down gently,"

"And now?"

"Now I know that you’re pushing him away because you do love him. He had no one but you for so long, so you thought getting into a relationship with him would make him more vulnerable for you to hurt him," 

"I have too much power over him, I don’t want him in a relationship that’s unbalanced,"

Jimin stops for a second and glares at Seokjin "And you think you would use that to hurt him?"

"Not on purpose. But Jimin, if I try and it doesn’t work out or he changes his mind he’d still be trapped. And he’s stolen, if he were to be discovered I…"

Seokjin looks terrified at the prospect of Taehyung being taken away from him, and perhaps this insecurity is the biggest obstacle in their way. Jimin doesn’t know how to elevate that particular worry but the rest he can help with.

"He deserves to be happy," Jimin had a lot of regrets, after he discovered the truth about Taehyung, after Taehyung told him what had happened to him before he met Seokjin. He felt so guilty about that first night when he cried and told Taehyung that he wasn’t meant to be given away, like he’s somehow better than the ones who were raised to be. Taehyung lived all his life knowing he was going to be given away to someone he doesn’t want, and for a long time he lived with a cruel demon master. He went through so much, and he still had a place in his heart to feel compassion for Jimin.

He locks eyes with Seokjin "He deserves someone who would put him before others, someone who would protect him despite it being against the rules. Someone who loves him,"

"…"

"You’re afraid he’s got nowhere to go if it’s not with you, you think he has no other choice, but hyung can’t you see? He has all of the team and not only you. I think Yoongi-hyung would personally punch you in the face if you hurt him." 

Seokjin’s laugh this time is genuine "Yeah, Yoongi is very fond of him."

"I would too, just so you know." 

Seokjin smiles at him and nods "I’ll hold you up to that," he turns to look at Taehyung again, who’s now getting up and dusting himself, he looks over and waves at Seokjin and without another word Seokjin goes to join him.

Jimin smiles. 

 


 

Jimin’s cheeks burn hot as he looks at his reflection. He doesn’t know where this idea came from, and perhaps he shouldn’t be left alone for long amounts of time. He’s wearing a white, almost see through gown, the collar so wide it’s barely holding on to his shoulders, tapering down to shape his waist and hips, it ends perfectly mid thigh and he’s sure he’d look more decent naked. He’s wearing dangling earrings and lip gloss, and he can’t believe he’s actually doing this. 

He should take it off before Jeongguk comes back and sees him. But the thrill he gets when he thinks about what he hopes Jeongguk would do to him if he were to see him makes him stop. When the servants had packed him these get ups, he honestly didn’t think he’d actually wear them. Now the oil he’s got with him is all gone and Jeongguk had to sneak out and buy them more. 

He covers his face with both hands and giggles. Can’t help the fluttering in his stomach and the beating of his heart as he hears steps in the corridor. He takes a breath and faces the door. 

The door slides open and Jeongguk halts in his tracks at the sight of Jimin, mouth falling slightly open. Jimin smiles, ready to walk to him…

"Oh my God!" Hoseok who’s just stepped into the room shrieks and Jimin squeals and scrambles to the futon, hiding underneath the quilt. From his hiding place he hears Hoseok's horrified exclaimition.

"Jeongguk! How dare you do this to our pure Jiminnie!" 

And by everything holy, he wants to die right now.

"Trust me, he’s as far from pure as I could get him." Jeongguk answers.

Hoseok whistles, and then with a bit of an evil tone he says: "Oh Jiminnie~"

Yes, death would be great, thank you.  

The door slides shut and Jeongguk walks towards him, Jimin tentatively lets his head out "Is he gone?" He can feel his face burning. 

Jeongguk nods, looking at him like he doesn’t really care about Hosoek’s discovery of them one bit "Is this for me?" He asks, fingers caressing Jimin’s earring. 

As if it could be anyone else.

"Yes," Jimin answers anyway.

"Get up, show me."  

Jimin does. He’s shaking all over, body feeling on fire as he stands there and allows Jeongguk to look at him. Jeongguk’s stare feels like a physical touch, like a brand and Jimin’s heart starts beating in frenzy. 

Jeongguk doesn't say anything for the longest time and Jimin opens his mouth about to ask but before he can let anything out his lips are captured in a heated kiss and Jeongguk is pushing him back until he’s against the wall. 

Jeongguk’s hands grips his waist, then slides down and squeeze his ass and Jimin breaks the kiss to let out a moan. Jeongguk takes the chance to bite on where his neck meets shoulder, the pain of his bite makes Jimin’s head go fuzzy. They lock eyes for a second and the heat of it leaves Jimin’s knees so weak he’s afraid he’ll fall down. His hands find a place on Jeongguk’s shoulders, gripping the cloth there tightly. Jeongguk hooks his thumb in Jimin’s mouth and pulls down, forcing him to open up and then he licks inside, like he’s trying to devour Jimin.

His legs tremble again, and Jeongguk presses him harder against the wall, hums as he sucks on Jimin’s bottom lip. His hands trail down, going under one thigh then the other and he lifts, forcing Jimin’s legs around his waist. Jimin arches into him, rubbing his erection on Jeongguk and Jeongguk moans in his ear. 

"Oh my God!" 

Jimin’s eyes snap open at the scandalized exclamation. Jeongguk thuds his head against Jimin’s shoulder letting out an almost pained groan. Jimin can’t believe he’s been caught half naked and pinned to the wall, but at least Jeongguk is big enough to cover all of him.

He chances a peek over Jeongguk’s shoulder and he almost laughs at Taehyung’s face, eyes shut so tight he must be getting dizzy and the reddest Jimin’s ever seen anyone get. 

"I’m so sorry!" Taehyung says, hand flailing about until he finds the edge of the door, "We were called to the yard, get ready to leave," He closes the door behind him and stumps away like the hounds are on his feet, Jimin just now catching up to the fact that Taehyung was in his mission gear.

Jeongguk moves away from the wall, still carrying Jimin and Jimin holds on to his neck. His breaths are harsh against Jimin’s neck, like he’s barely holding it in and then he lifts his eyes and looks at Jimin. Slowly he lets him slide down and onto his feet and Jimin keeps his arms around Jeongguk’s neck, keeps staring at him. It’s physically painful when Jeongguk gently disentangles them, planting a sweet kiss on Jimin’s forehead, then one not so innocent on his lips. He groans at the taste, whispers:

"You taste like peaches," then he kisses him again. 

"Jeongguk," he breathes between kisses "We should go." 

"Yeah," Jeongguk says. Leaves him with a last kiss then heads to the closet to get their clothes "But this isn’t over, you’re wearing this again when we get back." 

Jimin’s blood turns into liquid fire and he nods, heart thumping loud and fast in his chest.

He can’t wait to get back.

 


 

Thankfully, they’re not the last to arrive, even though they’re the last from their team. Taehyung’s face turns maroon when he sees them, and Hoseok gives them a grin and wiggles his eyebrows while Namjoon glares disapprovingly. Jimin supposes they had to know about Jeongguk and him at some point, he’d just hoped it wouldn’t be this way. Or that he’d had time to talk to Jeongguk about what they are doing first. 

Jeongguk for his part seems completely unaffected, rolling his eyes at Hoseok and whispering something to Taehyung that if possible makes him redder and makes Seokjin smacks Jeongguk’s arm. 

If Jeongguk is alright and natural about it, Jimin can be too. When their eyes meet Jeongguk winks at him and Jimin doesn’t remember ever being this happy.  

"Now that we’re all here," Namjoon starts "Our mission is to take back a village that was swarmed with demons."

"Swarmed?" Yoongi says. 

Namjoon nods, face serious, "They said more than thirty demons were witnessened and that’s only the ones we know about. There are about three villages in that area and we have to get to them before it’s too late."

He then locks eyes with Jeongguk, his expression turning grim "They said it could be happening now, what we’re all afraid of and were trained for."

Jeongguk purses his lips "I was there with you, no need to repeat it." He says with clipped words. Namjoon sighs, when he ducks his head, he looks endlessly sad. 

"Saddle the horses, we’re heading there immediately." 

 

Chapter Text

The situation turns out to be much worse than any of them expected. Demons had come in great numbers, terrifying and vicious. They spend the next two weeks trying to control the damage, and after a battle in which they lose five knights they manage to retrieve the village. 

The destruction is unparalleled, all the teams are feeling somewhat responsible for the deaths and loss despite them all giving their best. Jimin watches with confusion as more and more of them start throwing Jeongguk hateful glances like this is his fault, some of them even curse at him. 

Namjoon and Taehyung assess the state of the veil that separates the realms and just like many expected, the disaster from twelve years ago is about to repeat itself. The veil is falling apart. 

"There’s not too many of them left here," Namjoon says "we ought to seperate, scope the area, get rid of the demons still around." 

Hoseok, covered with dirt and blood that thankfully isn’t his, gets up and starts shouting orders. He’s the best there is when it comes to battle formations, Jimin has learnt, so all the teams follow his orders without hesitation. "Yoongi and I, are going north. Jimin you go with Seokjin and Taehyung. Jeongguk with Namjoon. One round to the edge of the forest, don’t chase them farther until we get more orders from the higher ups." 

They nod and each goes in a direction. The horses are jittery and restless as they ride away from the camp with Seokjin leading their small party and Jimin can’t help but look back at Jeongguk heading in the other direction. He has a bad feeling about this, his stomach churning with nerves, the cold, thick air that fell on them with the last attack of the demons making it harder for them to proceed. Jimin knows it’s only a small taste of what would happen if the worlds were to merge, the atmosphere of the demons’ world would affect the humans immensely, and many suspects that elderlies and children will die. 

The night gets darker, the weather getting cold, but the atmosphere is improving the more demons they kill and the longer portals stay closed. 

"We’re done," Seokjin announces. They turn towards the camp, having lost their horses in the middle of the last battle, all of them are on their feet. The horses were spooked and they ran away the second they could. 

Their path is cut by a menacing aura, and all of them stand their guard. 

The demon appears and Seokjin lunches at him. The demon is so much faster and Jimin backs Seokjin up with defence magic so he’s more free to focus on attacking. 

"Taehyung, shoot him!" Jimin shouts, but Taehyung isn’t moving, not even readying his bow. Jimin turns to look at him, worry mounting in his chest as he takes in Taehyung’s state. 

He’s standing completely still, shaking from head to toe. His face is pale and his eyes are wide and fixed forward. Fixed on the demon. 

"Amos," he whispers, and he seems to be hypnotized.  

Taehyung had never mentioned the name of his demon master before, only said that he ran away from him but it takes less than a second for Jimin to get it, and in that second the demon manages to throw Seokjin on the ground. The demon turns then, his sight settling on Taehyung.

"You," he says, voice raspy, like the hiss of a snake "You’re one of mine, aren’t you?"

Taehyung’s knees buckle, and Jimin runs to his side, crouches down beside him and holds him around the waist.  

"No," Taehyung is whispering, over and over again. Jimin looks up in time to see Seokjin lunging at the demon again. His sword doesn’t connect, as the demon jumps back and out of his range. A shout of Jimin’s name makes relief course through him and then Jeongguk is standing in front of them. The demon takes one look at Jeongguk and turns tail, knowing that it’s a losing battle. 

Seokjin makes to follow, but Namjoon’s voice stops him.

"We’re heading back!" He says, riding to them. Jimin is still holding Taehyung on the ground. Taehyung looks up and around, seemingly dazed.

"You alright?" Yoongi asks Taehyung. Hoseok appears, holding the reigns of two horses. One of them his, the other is Seokjin’s, and Yoongi has found the other two horses.

"I’m going after that one," Seokjin announces. Taehyung flinches and whatever spell he’s been under breaks. he gets up immediately and clings to Seokjin. 

"Don’t go," he says, and he sounds so small and scared Jimin feels his heart breaking.

"No one is going." Namjoon says "We’ve been ordered to fall back. The forest is under another temple’s protection."

"I’m going!" Seokjin shouts, desperation ringing clear in his voice. Taehyung starts pulling at the clothes on his waist and Seokjin grips both of his arms and shakes him "I have to kill him, Taehyung."

"Seokjin-hyung!" Namjoon interferes again "We’re not following him, another team from another temple is going to kill him for sur-"

"It must be me!" Seokjin cries "It must be me." He says again, more frantically. Namjoon’s face drops, and he’s now looking between Seokjin and Taehyung. His eyes widen and Jimin can see the moment it clicks, Namjoon gets it. He knows.

"Oh dear," Namjoon breathes. 

Seokjin doesn’t stop, he takes his horse from Hoseok and mounts it, facing the direction the demon went.

"I’m coming with you," Namjoon says finally. Hoseok and Yoongi exchange confused looks but then both of them are getting ready to leave too, climbing their saddles and standing near Seokjin. 

"I’m coming as well," Jeongguk says "I don’t want another team finishing our job." 

"Guys..." Seokjin starts, locks eyes with Namjoon and Namjoon gives him a nod and a smile.

"This will get us in trouble," Namjoon says "You don’t need to come," he’s directing his words at Hoseok and Yoongi, who are the most sensible in the team but they both shake their heads.

"If this idiot wants to go this badly," Yoongi points at Seokjin "then there’s a good reason for it."

"This is what team spirit is about," Hoseok adds. 

Taehyung goes to his horse but Seokjin stops him, "Stay here." 

"But Seokjin-"

"No Taehyung. Just... just stay, please." 

"I’m staying with you." Jimin says. He moves to stand besides Taehyung, placing an arm around his shoulders. Jeongguk nods to show that he approves and then they ride away and into the forest. Taehyung covers his face with his hands and starts sobbing.

"Amos," he chokes up "That’s him, Jimin. That’s my master." 

As if Jimin needed the confirmation. He’s sure Namjoon got that too. Taehyung’s secret is no longer a secret.

"It’s alright, Tae. You’re going to be just fine." Taehyung turns in his hold, hides his face in Jimin’s shoulder and cries. Jimin can’t do anything but pull him tighter and hope that Seokjin succeeds in killing the bastard. 

Chapter Text

 

The hooves of the horses beat on the hard ground, not unlike Seokjin’s galloping heart. He can feel the rush of blood in his veins, the painful, throbbing desire to kill that demon. 

"He’s near!" Namjoon shouts and Seokjin kicks the side of his horse, urging him faster on. Jeongguk is in front of them leaping from tree to tree and Seokjin knows he should be thankful for his presence but he wishes that Jeongguk remained back. Back with Taehyung. 

"No one kills him," Seokjin has never heard himself sounding more desperate, and they glance at him as they twirl their horses around trees and rocks.

"Do as he says!" Namjoon orders. Jeongguk catches up to the demon first and Seokjin shouts his name. It’s less than a second but it distracts Jeongguk enough that Amos escapes his sword.

"Surround him, trap him in!" Namjoon advances, Yoongi on his heels trying to gain on the demon to cut his way and Seokjin can see that it won’t work. Jeongguk is the only one fast enough to run in front of him.

"Jeongguk! Cut his way!" 

Jeongguk nods, pushes himself faster, and jumps over the demon, effectively halting his escape. Yoongi makes it around, stamps the trees with his spells "Got him!"

The way forward is cut. Seokjin jumps from his horse and attacks, his sword slicing through the air as the demon ducks. Jeongguk is right behind him, and he lifts his sword, ready to land a killing strike.

"Don’t!" Seokjin shouts. Winces as the demon gains the upper hand because of Jeongguk’s distraction and manages to hit him in the arm. Jeongguk looks angry and his eyes flash red "Jeongguk don’t kill him!" Seokjin repeats, running after the demon. Jeongguk curses.

"Cage him in!" Namjoon shouts and the rest comply, they round and stand in their places, and Amos can’t escape now, not unless he gets through one of them. 

He locks eyes with Seokjin and grins, then turns and lunges right at Namjoon, Namjoon dodges instead of hitting him and Amos lets out a laugh as he runs in front of them again. He must’ve caught up to the fact that they don’t want to kill him and he’s taking advantage of it. 

"What the fuck!" Jeongguk screams "Why did you stop me from killing him?" 

They’re chasing him in circles, trying to trap him in again "I’ll explain later, just please let me kill him." Seokjin answers. Jeongguk curses again, but he nods and increases his speed, gaining on Amos again. He throws his sword to the ground, and once he catches up he punches Amos so hard he falls right at Seokjin’s feet. The bastard isn’t done yet though, he dodges Seokjin’s sword again.

Seokjin’s angry, his heart thudding in his chest and he’s grinding his teeth together. He throws caution to the wind and lunges himself forward, Amos blocks his sword with his claws, manages to push him back. Seokjin plants his feet in, refuses to back down. He swings his sword, gets a little satisfaction as he slashes through Amos’ abdomen. Amos growls at him, advances, his claw hits and Seokjin moves just so; trapping Amos’ arm below his and holding on.

He drives his sword through the bastard’s heart right to the helt, their faces inches apart. He sees the life leaving Amos’ eyes, and he twists his sword, relishing the feel of flesh giving. Blood gushes out, over his hand and clothes and it’s warm and thick, makes him nauseated but assures him that he did it. 

It all evaporates to nothing. 

He stares down at his hand as the blood steams off and disappears like it never was. He did it.

He killed Amos.

Taehyung.

His knees give out, his eyes sting but he doesn’t cry. He’s finally done it, it’s over. Taehyung is his now and no one can take him away. 

"What the hell was that about?" Jeongguk demands, his feet appearing in Seokjin’s line of vision. Seokjin lets out a long exhale and he looks up at Jeongguk who has a scowl on his face. 

"Amos i- was Taehyung’s master," Seokjin says, getting up. He watches as the realization downs on Jeongguk’s face.

"Taehyung is a fairy?" Hoseok shrieks. 

"Huh," Yoongi says "and you knew?" He’s looking at Namjoon who shakes his head.

"I only got it because of Taehyung’s fear and Seokjin’s insistence to follow the demon,"

"Damn, hyung." Hoseok says. 

"A fairy! Are you crazy? Where did you get him from? Who did you steal him from? How did you get him here!" Jeongguk asks in an imitation so perfect of him that it’s a bit scary. Namjoon laughs and so does Hoseok but Yoongi is still looking at him.

"Well?" He says "We know who you stole him from, but how did all of this happen in the first place?" 

Seokjin thinks, it’s a good time as any to finally tell them the truth. So he does.

 


 

Seokjin closed his eyes and listened to the wind blowing outside, rattling the windows of the palace and preventing him from sleep. It was warm inside, his servants had tended to the fire and heated his bed before it was time for him to retire, but the sound of the wind made him feel cold despite the blankets he was covered with. 

He turned on his side and pulled the covers over his head, trying to ignore the noise. Just as he succeeded he felt something else. An energy the likes of which he’d never encountered before; it wasn’t strong or menacing, but something gentle. Different. It compelled him to leave the comfort of his bed, wear his shoes and throw a thick fur coat over his shoulders before heading outside. 

The second he opened the door, the chilling air breezed over him, making him remember why it was a bad idea to go outside in late december. The ground was covered with a thick layer of crystal snow, reflecting the light of the full moon. The stars were shining like precious jewels, and everything looked a bit unreal, as his nose was getting frozen no doubt he smelled nothing but cold, dry air. He walked forward.

The energy he felt was no longer there, its presence had been like a pulse that disappeared as quickly as it appeared but something else lingered. Something that Seokjin was sure inhuman, even if it wasn’t necessarily evil. So he went.

Near the frozen lake, where all the dead trees stood guard, Seokjin saw a hunched silhouette, he squinted, trying to make out more details. Long hair, a dress. A girl?

He walked closer, and when light shone on Seokjin realized that no, it was a boy, and he was definitely not human.

He was dressed in white from head to toe, the material soft and flowing like a waterfall, barely holding on to the shoulders, long sleeves that were cut wider and hiding his hands, a narrow waist and a long train that fell only behind. His legs were covered with a properly fitted trousers, also in white. And he was wearing silver jewelry. Necklaces around a slender, long neck, earrings on pointed ears. But all the extravagance was lost as the clothes were dirty and slightly torn in places. And most of all, the boy didn’t need any of it for he was the most beautiful creature that Seokjin had ever beheld.

Features so fine they had to be drawn by the best artist, delicate jawline, and high cheekbones. The curve of his nose was a perfect line, and his lips were pink and full and looking more delicious than the most inviting fruits. He was glowing under the moon, his long hair unnaturally colored, like water, aqua and flowing soft, gentle waves curled at its end. And his eyes, his eyes had to be the most stunning thing, appearing clear blue even in the dim light.

"Angel," he whispered underneath his breath. He couldn’t tear his eyes away, and the boy was so stunned by being found that he didn’t move. Seokjin stepped towards him and the boy flinched, falling down and covering his head with his arms. 

"Please don’t hurt me," he pleaded. His voice was deep but it shook with apparent fear. Seokjin held both hands up, showing that he had no intention of doing any harm.

"I’m not going to. Are you alright?" 

The boy removed his arms away tentatively and nodded once. Seokjin extended his hand to him; offering his help and the boy regarded it with a weary expression before he placed his hand on it. His hand was freezing, the tips of his long fingers red from the cold and Seokjin hurried to pull him up. He almost ran the way back to his room, dragging the boy behind by his hand. 

Inside, Seokjin lit a few candles. The boy remained standing by the door, looking at his feet. He was too thin but it didn’t dim his beauty one bit, instead it made Seokjin’s heart ache with something akin to protectiveness. 

"Take a seat," Seokjin gestured to the bed. The boy shook his head vigorously, messing up his hair as more bangs fell out of place.

"My name is Kim Seokjin and you are?" 

"Taehyung."

"Well Taehyung, you don’t need to be scared of me. I won’t hurt you, I promise."  Seokjin was curious to how the boy managed to get passed the guards and into the garden of his wing, but seeing how weary and caged Taehyung appeared, Seokjin withheld questions.

That night was a long, weird one. Taehyung refused to come any closer to Seokjin, but he soon couldn’t stand anymore, and later he fell asleep sitting with his back to the wall. Seokjin gave himself permission to place Taehyung on the bed, and like Seokjin expected he weighed near to nothing as he carried him the short distance to his bed. Seokjin didn’t get any sleep that night.  

In the morning Seokjin learnt that Taehyung was a fairy, and that he shouldn’t be hiding him. Taehyung told him with a resigned tone that he was more trouble than he’s worth.

"I ran away from my master. That’s considered a sin in my world." He was looking down at his hands, "I chose this place because it’s warded, thought it would conceal my presence in case my master decided to look for me. I will leave soon, I know they won’t bother for long." 

"If it is such a bad thing, why would you do it? Why run away?" 

Taehyung didn’t answer but the pained expression on his face told Seokjin what he needed to do. "You can stay. I’ll help you."

 


 

A week or so after that, and many too close calls of being almost discovered, Taehyung was a secret resident in one of Seokjin’s family storage rooms. There was an empty backroom there, and Seokjin had asked for its key and claimed that he wanted to use it to train and perfect his spell work. It was easier to hide him here, were Seokjin had written as much of presence concealing spells as he could learn in the short period. He’d railed the palace’s library, reading everything that mentioned fairies. 

Taehyung was silent and obedient, going along with whatever Seokjin wanted and never spoke unless spoken to first. He stayed in the room all the time and only went out during the nights when Seokjin came to take him to take a bath. Him being a runaway fairy meant that no one could see him, Seokjin choosing to keep him made him a stolen fairy and made matters even more complicated. Humans often stole fairies, hunters chased them and sold them, but it was that. Stealing, and if a prince were found to be hiding one, things wouldn’t end well. 

"I will be leaving in the spring," Seokjin told him one day. Taehyung’s head lifted up, fear written all over his face as he looked at Seokjin with wide eyes.

"There’s a temple. They’re gathering men with high spiritual energy and who are capable of spell work, my family offered to send me and I’m supposed to go in the spring." The explanation didn’t seem to ease Taehyung’s fear, but he only nodded.

"I was thinking, maybe we can hide you as a human. So you can stay here as a servant or something. I found a spell book that’s all about changing nature, I think I can make a spell to turn you into a human temporarily,"

Taehyung looked grateful and nodded again.  

 


 

Taehyung choked and coughed, grimacing at the taste. Seokjin waited, hoping that this time the spell would work.

"Something is happening," Taehyung said and Seokjin leaned closer. Then Taehyung clutched at his stomach, turned around and vomited.

"I’m sorry," Seokjin told him as he helped him sit down "I’ll try to make it better, with gentler ingredients," 

"Please," Taehyung replied, scrunching his nose up. Seokjin hurried to get him water, and then something happened. 

Taehyung looked up and smiled at him, small and subdued as it might’ve been,  Seokjin’s heart melted all the same. 

It took another eleven trials for the spell to work, and then three more for it to taste acceptable. Taehyung’s sky blue locks turned light brown and his eyes honey colored. He was still the most beautiful thing ever, but he was less unreal than he used to be. 

"You still look...like a fairy." Seokjin said. Taehyung squinted at his reflection.

"I think I look human," 

Seokjin bit his lips. Too gorgeous to be human, he wanted to say but he didn’t. 

 


 

Seokjin introduced him as a personal servant, and his mother while she lifted a brow at him didn’t argue much when he told her he needed someone to help with his spells. Taehyung was good at everything too. Made it so easy to believe that he was a competent servant and everyone accepted his presence easily. He still slept in the storage room where Seokjin had sneaked him a futon but he got some clothes now and he could wander around freely. By the time February rolled in, Seokjin was so used to Taehyung trailing behind him he didn’t feel right when he turned around and didn’t find him.

Taehyung remained silent most of the time, but Seokjin enjoyed his presence. He took to reading in Taehyung’s room, staying there until it was time for him to retire, and going back as soon as he could. Each time Taehyung welcomed him with a few words and threw a blanket over his shoulders once he settled in to read.

"Aren’t you going to sleep?" Seokjin asked. It was a little later than the usual time he came in. Taehyung shook his head.

"You’re not sleeping well," Seokjin remarked. He’d been worrying about it increasingly in the past few days, as dark circles started to form under Taehyung’s eyes.

Taehyung didn’t answer, and Seokjin took it as a cue to stop prying. A while passed and Seokjin started to feel tired so he closed his book and got up, making to leave. Taehyung’s hand caught his sleeve. He looked at Taehyung who had his eyes cast down, his hair covering his face from view. 

"Taehyung?"

"It’s cold in here," Taehyung said at last, when he looked up his eyes had a sheen of tears on them. 

"I’ll ask someone to bring you more blankets,"

Taehyung shook his head "It’s always cold when I’m alone." 

Seokjin swallowed, feeling his heart beating like a drum inside his chest. Taehyung was asking him to stay and Seokjin wanted to. 

They laid back to back, and that night Taehyung told him about being given away to Amos when he was seventeen, three years ago. 

Amos had wanted Taehyung’s sister, but she was too young and his mother offered him instead. As Amos had no desire for boys, Taehyung was assigned some chores and that was then. But as time went by, Amos started to notice him, and he hated it. He hated that he was feeling attracted to a guy, so he hit Taehyung and gave him more work than the others. It went on like that for three years, until Amos decided that Taehyung looked delicate enough to pass, he forbade him from talking because his voice was too male- like and ordered the others to get him ready that night.

Ready for Amos to bed him.

Taehyung escaped that same night, dressed in his fine clothes and jewelry and carrying nothing. He used the power he knew he had but hid from everyone to open a portal to the human world, slipping quietly. 

"I didn’t think I would make it," Taehyung said, his voice so low Seokjin barely heard him "I thought they would find me, take me back to him." He choked on a sob and Seokjin turned around, his heart bleeding for the boy. He pulled Taehyung into him, curling himself around him.

"He won’t get you," he whispered in Taehyung’s ear, a promise he intended to keep "I won’t let him hurt you. I won’t let anyone hurt you." 

They slept like that many nights after, and Seokjin knew then that he fell in love and that he couldn’t do anything about it.

Chapter Text

 

As spring drew closer, Taehyung grew more restless. It was hard for Seokjin not to notice, when Taehyung became clingy and asked him to stay every night. It wasn’t cold anymore, or at least not cold enough to warrant they sleep in the same bed. But Taehyung pretended and Seokjin took the excuse. Two things were becoming clear though, one: this thing of theirs couldn’t go on. Seokjin had to stop it before it got out of hand. And second:

There was no way in hell he was leaving Taehyung alone. The temple would be the safest from demons he could get him, once he succeeds in passing him in as a human. 

"We need to cut your hair,"  

Taehyung nodded. He moved to retrieve a knife and sat quietly before Seokjin, giving him free reach to his long tresses. Seokjin passed his fingers through them, gently holding a lock in his hand. He leaned down and kissed it, feeling the softness of it on his lips and smelling Taehyung’s sent. Orange blossoms, spring. Taehyung smelt like spring. 

Taehyung looked no less beautiful with his hair short, more boyish and more adorable with all of his bangs falling in his eyes and not being long enough to tuck behind his ear. They cleaned up together and Taehyung thanked him.

A few days after, they both got accepted into the temple, and that day they slept in the same room but in separate futons, Seokjin hardening his heart against the confused look Taehyung gave him.

 


 

In the year that followed, Taehyung opened up to others too, his smiles came easier and his eyes were no longer dim and sad. He looked like he’d started to believe that he was safe. 

And while they got more friends now, their secret remained between only the two of them, even when Seokjin knew that the others would never tell on them. Their shared secret made them grow closer, and Seokjin fell more in love with Taehyung, steadily and surely. Taehyung who woke him up because Seokjin couldn’t force his body to adjust to their new schedule as easily as Taehyung did. Taehyung who fixed his clothes and taught him how to do chores and saved the meat for him because he knew Seokjin liked it. Taehyung who never complained or cried no matter what, and who gave Seokjin shoulders’ massages even when he himself was training too. Taehyung who was endlessly patient with him, who called him Jin when they were alone with a soft smile like he couldn’t believe he was allowed to when no one else was. 

Taehyung. Just Taehyung. 

Seokjin swore that he would protect him no matter what, and he was going to do it. Even if it killed him.

 


 

The camp appears in their line of vision, and before Seokjin knows what he’s doing he’s galloping forward, not waiting for the others to catch up to him and not caring about Namjoon asking what’s gotten into him. 

It feels like he’s been living in limbo for the past fourteen months, like he was stuck waiting for this moment. Now that he’s finally here, he can’t wait to see Taehyung. Tell him he no longer needs to be afraid, hold him. Kiss him. 

From afar he can see Taehyung pacing back and forth with Jimin standing a few feet away from him, just watching him and Seokjin’s heart gives a pang when he realizes that Taehyung is waiting for him.

"Taehyung!" He calls, and the horse has not even fully stopped when he stumbles off of it and runs to Taehyung. 

Taehyung throws himself at him and Seokjin flounders a few steps back but he’s holding on to Taehyung so hard he must be hurting him. One arm wrapped around his waist and the other clutching his shoulder, bringing him as close as he can.

"I did it," he whispers into Taehyung’s neck, feels it as Taehyung starts to shake in his arms "I did it, Taehyung. You’re mine."

Taehyung presses closer, clings harder "Always been yours, Jin."

They pull apart just enough to look at each other and Seokjin’s breath gets knocked out of him as Taehyung smiles fully with glittering eyes and the happiest Seokjin’s ever seen him. He’s glowing, so beautiful and stunning Seokjin can’t help it. 

He kisses him for the first time, swallows the surprised hitch of breath, tastes the same need he feels on his tongue. His heart stops and starts a new, and it’s devastating but the way Taehyung opens up to him, whimpers into his mouth and tries to get closer makes Seokjin feel like the most powerful man in the world. 

They break the kiss as Seokjin hears the others coming and when he turns around Jimin is trying to look away. Taehyung is blushing, and he hides his face in Seokjin’s shoulder, still not letting go. 

It’s a good thing, because Seokjin doesn’t know if he can let go either. 

 


 

Jeongguk wakes up to the sound of sparrows just before dawn. There’s no light yet, but the promise of rising sun can be heard and thus he concludes that he has to be up in a short while. Jimin’s warmth and weight a familiar thing against him, he sighs and brings his hand up, brushing along Jimin’s back, starting from the dip of the small of his back and up to between his shoulder blades. Over and over again until Jimin stirs.

"Mmm," Jimin lets out a soft noise, then he stretches where he is pressed to Jeongguk, rubbing himself against him like a big, lazy cat. Jimin feels good in his arms, sleep warm and pliant. 

"We have training today," Jeongguk says. Jimin moves closer, enough so that Jeongguk can feel his lashes moving against the skin of his neck when they flutter, and open. 

"We have training every day," Jimin almost whines. Jeongguk grins, feeling something in his chest expanding, it makes him want to squeeze Jimin, so he does. He turns around so they’re flushed from chest to hip, and he wraps his arms around Jimin and pulls him close, tangles their legs together. Jimin lets out a huffing sound, like the air is escaping him. 

"Jeongguk," he says breathlessly "can’t breath," 

Jeongguk squeezes harder for just a blink then he loosens his hold, enjoying the warmth of Jimin’s breath as he lets it out in a long exhale. 

"We should get up now," he says. Jimin hums, tucks his head under Jeongguk’s chin and folds his arms between them.

"Yeah. In a minute." 

 


 

Their breakfast is a boring, uneventful thing. Passing in whispers between any two seated close together, Jeongguk nods along to Jimin’s remarks even though he isn’t really listening. After they eat they seperate to do chores, and Seokjin follows Yoongi around until Yoongi changes places with him. Jeongguk frowns, that’s never happened before. 

When he’s cleaning, he passes by Seokjin and Taehyung working together and that uneasy feeling from a week ago settles under his ribs, ready to nudge around and make breathing harder. He follows them with his eyes as they laugh and trip and touch and he scowls. 

He remembers seeing Seokjin hugging Taehyung when they got back from killing the demon, the one that Seokjin insisted on killing himself and he’d thought then that it wasn’t a hug but they were kissing. He couldn’t be so sure since Seokjin’s back was to him but now that he’s looking, he thinks it might have been. He purses his lips and doesn’t comment on it, it’s nothing. Seokjin has always been sensible, avoided Taehyung’s affection for the benefit of them all, and he shouldn’t be failing now. 

Namjoon assembles them right after they’re done with their respective chores, and starts giving them instructions on the upcoming days. With the annoying fact that the demons have been doubling their efforts in breaking down the veil, Namjoon and many others are expecting a lot of missions. It’s now more than ever that they need to work on their team’s weak points. Jeongguk rolls his eyes as they give him a look, like he’s the weak one between them. What a load of crap. 

He thinks the obvious weakling in their group is either Jimin or Taehyung and the thought makes him turn around to look at them. Jimin is listening intently, like someone might ask him to recite Namjoon’s words later. Taehyung is another story, he’s standing so close to Seokjin their arms are lined up, Jeongguk looks down and narrows his eyes at the brush of their fingers, they keep moving the backs of their hands against each other and they both look distracted. Taehyung’s blushing, Seokjin has a small, extremely stupid smile on his face and Jeongguk wants to gag. 

"Would you pay attention?" He snaps. Namjoon stops talking and furrows his brows, looking around to see who’s the one meant by this.

Seokjin startles and looks at Jeongguk, somehow surprised, like he wasn’t even aware of his spacing out. Just wonderful. 

"What are you two think you’re doing, exactly?" Jeongguk asks, because really, what the hell. It’s not the time. 

Seokjin opens his mouth and closes it, everyone else seems confused about what Jeongguk is asking about. 

"I really thought you were sensible, Seokjin-hyung, turns out you were just waiting for the time when no one would accuse Your highness of shagging up with a stolen fairy." 

Seokjin flinches, like he was physically attacked and takes a step back.

"Jeongguk!" Jimin cries "what’s gotten into you?" 

Jeongguk turns to Jimin because obviously Jimin hasn’t got it yet "Can’t you see, Jimin? This thing between them is going to compromise the whole team!" 

"That’s not-" Seokjin starts but Jeongguk has had it.

"Not true? Have you forgotten that you put the whole team in danger so you could be the one to kill Amos? I got hurt, Namjoon-hyung could have, too."

"I was just trying to protect Taehyung!" Seokjin answers.

"No you were not! If you’d only thought of him as a team member then it wouldn’t have made a difference who killed Amos, and we’d still be protecting him but you, you wanted to own Taehyung, you were selfish and put us all in danger!"

Seokjin seems shocked, like the thought has never occurred to him before "What are you staring at me for? You didn’t even give Taehyung the choice, just went up and killed Amos and now he’s stuck with you instead! Is that why you waited until now?" 

Seokjin leaves, more like runs away. Jeongguk scoffs.

He hears the sound before he registers the sting. The slap isn’t painful as much as it caught him off guard and he looks forward again, eyes widening at the sight of Taehyung, angry and teary eyed. 

"Don’t you dare," Taehyung says, he hits Jeongguk on the chest with the flat of his hands, barely moving him but he doesn’t back down. Jeongguk honestly didn’t think he had it in him. "Loving Seokjin is the only choice I ever got to make, and I won’t let you or anyone else take that away from me!" 

Jeongguk has never seen Taehyung looking more ready for a fight, a fight for the wrong reasons. Which only strengthens his idea about how love works. "Love is a useless emotion that serves nothing but to make you weak and stupid, case in point you are attacking me. The most stupid move anyone could make," he steps closer to Taehyung staring him down.

"Jeongguk!" Jimin interferes again, pulling at his arm in an attempt to put some distance between him and Taehyung "Why are you saying such awful things?" Jimin has a sheen of tears in his eyes that, like usual, makes Jeongguk uncomfortable. He hates it when Jimin cries. 

"Because it’s true," he tries to explain "love is nothing but a burden." 

"Is that what I am to you? A burden?"

Jimin seems to be missing the point. "Jimin, I don’t love you."

Like he’s been burned, Jimin lets go of his arm, takes several steps away. His eyes are wide and his bottom lip trembles. Jeongguk looks at Taehyung to see him even angrier. He gets another weak push.

"You’re the stupid one," Taehyung says.

"Hey now," Namjoon tries to break them apart.

"You’re nothing but a cruel, insensitive bastard and I feel sorry that Jimin is stuck with you!" 

This one stings, for a reason Jeongguk doesn’t comprehend. He turns around to seek something, not sure what, from Jimin but Jimin averts his eyes. Like he’s agreeing with Taehyung. 

Jeongguk nods twice and leaves, something heavy settling in his chest.

Chapter Text


Seokjin had forgotten. He was so relieved that he’d finally became Taehyung’s master that it just slipped his mind.

Nothing about them has changed. If anything, Seokjin now holds even more power over Taehyung. What had he done?

"Whatever you’re thinking, stop." Taehyung says as soon as he sets foot into the room. He marches to Seokjin and places both hands on his shoulders, fisting the cloth there. He leans in and Seokjin grips his arms and pushes him, not roughly, god he can never be rough with Taehyung, but just enough to put some space between them.

"Jin,"

"He’s right, Taehyung. Jeongguk is right, I went and did that and I didn’t even ask you."

"Jeongguk doesn’t know anything. Seokjin, I never cared if you were my master or not, I don’t care now. When I say I’m yours, I don’t mean it in the sense of masters and ownership, I just...I love you."

Seokjin closes his eyes at the sound of these words. Simple words and yet he feels like sobbing, can’t believe he has that.

"I want you, I trust you. I know, Seokjin, I know you would never hurt me so please, if this is something you want too," he trails off, looks unsure before he ducks his head and hides from Seokjin’s gaze "don’t take it away from us." 

Seokjin realizes as he cups Taehyung’s face and forces him to meet his eyes that all he wanted was to hear this. To know that Taehyung wants him back, not because he feels obligated, not because he feels like he has to repay Seokjin but because he loves him. 

"Me too," he whispers, his voice getting shaky. "I love you," Taehyung lets out half a sob, half a laugh, his eyes glittering like he trapped stars in them, "and I promise I will always put you first, I’ll do everything I can to protect you and make you happy."

Taehyung’s laugh is wet, but genuine. He touches their foreheads together "Sounds like a wedding vow," he breathes against Seokjin’s lips. The air between them damp with sweat and their mixed scents and Seokjin wants them to stay like this forever, never lose this precious thing he found in Taehyung.

"Shall we seal it with a kiss?" he whispers back and locks their lips together. Taehyung lets him take over it completely, presses back against him and kisses him just as desperately. 

Taehyung gives it all up, surrenders himself as they fall down onto the futon, allows Seokjin to claim him fully. And when they’re both sweaty and sated and tangled up in each other, their hearts beating in sync, when Taehyung plants a kiss right over his heart then places his palm there like he knows it belongs to him, Seokjin can’t help but let all his worries die. 

He understands where Jeongguk is coming from, he knows the reasons why Jeongguk is so afraid to feel and all of them are justified, but next time -if there were a next- Jeongguk talks about this Seokjin will have the words to answer him. Because while love did turn him into a selfish man, he definitely isn’t weaker for it. 

Jeongguk is wrong. 




Jimin stops talking to Jeongguk. 

For two days, he ignores him completely. For the most part, Jeongguk acts confused, like he has no idea what happened. He even asks Jimin what’s wrong multiple times. Jimin can’t bring himself to talk to him. The worst part of it is that he was so sure they had something, so sure all of it was meaningful and big and important and Jeongguk has dismissed it so easily like it was never even a thought in the back of his mind. 

Jimin blames himself. 

They never talked about it, they wanted each other and that’s that. Jeongguk never promised him anything, and was always respectful of him, full consent and all. 

Jimin is still angry. 

What confuses him the most, however, is how everyone else is dealing with this. Taehyung falls over himself to apologize to Jeongguk, bowing his head and telling him that he didn’t mean it. Didn’t mean to call him cruel and insensitive because Jeongguk is neither. Jimin believes that Taehyung had all the right to lash out, if anything Jeongguk was over the line with the way he treated both Taehyung and Seokjin. 

The team members shake their heads at him when he huffs or turns his face away from Jeongguk. Namjoon sends Jeongguk sad looks like Jimin is the one who hurt him. While the rest of the knights grow more hateful of Jeongguk the more missions they get and the more vicious the demons are. 

"Jimin! Wait," Jeongguk calls, jogging the few feet between them. Jimin hastens his steps.

"Go away," 

Jeongguk catches his arm around the elbow and halts his escape attempt "Jimin," he says, and he sounds sad and confused. When Jimin looks at him, Jeongguk’s expression is a mix of hurt and bewilderment. 

Damn it all to hell.

He yanks his arm and marches away, trying to get his tears to stop.

He hates it, he hates it all because he didn’t realize that he’s in love with Jeongguk until Jeongguk told him he doesn’t feel the same. And how is that fair?

Jimin had everything, a few words and his world fell apart and he doesn’t know what to do anymore. He’s not even sure why he’s angry with Jeongguk. Because Jeongguk doesn’t love him back? Can he even be angry about that?

He sits down under the shade of one of the trees, resting his back against its trunk. He feels drained despite the fact that the day barely started.

"Can you spare a minute?"  

He looks up at Namjoon, and Namjoon offers him a small smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. Jimin nods and moves to the side, leaving a spot for Namjoon to sit beside him. 

For a long while Namjoon doesn’t speak. He mimics Jimin’s position, back to the trunk and legs extended forward. He looks at the moving clouds, like white wool floating in the sky.

"I don’t know where to start with this," Namjoon says "perhaps I should first apologize for keeping this from you all this time, perhaps I should apologize I’m telling you now."

Namjoon had always had his way with words, philosophical questions and poetic metaphors. Jimin doesn't like this conversation starter. He knows his friend is about to tell him something that might weigh him down, and yet he knows that he has to hear whatever it is. He shifts, nervous despite himself and the inevitable spark of curiosity that lights up inside his brain.

"Twelve years ago, the world fell apart." 

Everyone starts this story the same. Jimin had lived through it, listened to it many times, grew up on it. Twelve years isn’t long by any means, but this one story didn’t take long to turn into a legend.

Twelve years ago the world fell apart. It took only a few weeks, or perhaps it started much longer, the change insidious but the same nonetheless as if it were to happen overnight. The demons, vicious cruel creatures that they were, broke through the veil for centuries, but twelve years ago was when they’d just discovered what effect this had on the veil.  If they went on hitting it, it would fall. And fall it did. 

The demonic atmosphere seeped in, mixed worlds fell into chaos, many died and the ones who lived were forced to battle in an environment that weakened them and benefited their enemy. 

One person stepped up. 

The demon known as Noah. The saviour of all. 

Noah used a spell to create a new veil, to push the demons back to their world. The cost of a spell so powerful was his own life and so he paid with it. He died, but he went a hero and people -humans and fairies alike- honored him to this day. 

"What people don’t mention in this story," Namjoon says "is his son: Jeongguk." 

Jimin turns his whole body towards Namjoon, folding his legs close and resting his chin over his knees; he nods to Namjoon. He already knew about this. Half a demon, Noah’s son.

"Like you would expect, he was put under a lot of pressure but not only because of who his father was. Jeongguk is immensely powerful, even more so than Noah himself, and his power was sealed by Noah when he was born." Namjoon stops for a breath "When Noah died, the seal on Jeongguk’s power was no more. It was too great for Jeongguk to control, and emotions...emotions made it worse. When he cried over the death of his father, nearly a second disaster happened. He brought on thunder and rain, and the earth shook and rattled. People died ."  

Jimin flinches. Realization starting to dawn on him as Namjoon’s words catch up to him. 

"And so he was told not to cry, and by that he was also ordered not to feel." 

A small, eight years old had been forbidden from showing emotions. Jimin’s eyes water. 

"I know it’s not fair to you," Namjoon says "but I’m begging you to cut him some slack. Don’t ask him to love you back," 

He bursts into tears, burying his face into his knees and sobs. It really isn’t fair, it’s not fair at all. But to whom? To Jimin who can’t even try to make his love feel the same for him, or to Jeongguk, who isn’t allowed to love?

Namjoon stays beside him for a while, until his shoulders stop shaking and the sobs die down. Jimin pulls himself up, takes a long breath. 

"Does everyone here know about that?"

Namjoon nods.

"Then why are they so cruel to him? They look at him like they blame him for this."

"That…" Namjoon hesitates, but then seeming to give up he locks eyes with Jimin and talks, "He’s meant to perform the same spell, to redo the veil when it breaks."

" No ,"

The word is barely a breath, there’s no sound to accompany it. The world tilts over, bends and Jimin is looking at his hands on the dirt and it’s raining with the sun out. His harsh breathing fills his ears and he can’t feel. His lips are moving, but he doesn't know what he’s saying. He hears someone weeping, ugly crying sounds and choked off sobs. 

"No, no, no. Please no, Jeongguk. Jeongguk," 

"Jimin, calm down. Look at me."

That’s him, he’s crying. These are his tears falling on the back of his hands, on the ground. 

"Jimin!"

"Hyung," he gets out, and his voice isn’t right, foregin. Like it’s not his. He clings to Namjoon’s shoulders, "He can’t, he’ll die. The veil, it’s breaking now. You have to stop him, you have-"

"Shhh, hey. Jimin, breathe."

But he can’t breathe. Jeongguk will die. Jeongguk. He can’t deal with it, he can’t.

"He won’t do it, listen to me. The reason why everyone hates him is that he proclaimed many times that he won’t do it." 

"He...he won’t?" He sounds like a child, a scared child who’s lost and seeking reassurance even if it’s a lie.

"He refuses to," 

He’s panting, his heart unsettled. He’s still shaking, the idea of living without Jeongguk like an earthquake hitting his soul. 

Not being loved back seems so easy in comparison. He’s ready to live with it, anything. God, anything if it means Jeongguk would live and be safe.

What about the rest of the world?

A voice whispers to him, and he thinks for a selfish second that he doesn’t care. 

Can Jeongguk live with that amount of guilt?

Yes, Jeongguk can. 

No, he can’t. 

Jimin doesn’t want to know the answer. Doesn’t know which one is worse.

"Excuse me," he says, and can’t get up fast enough. He’s wasting time, been wasting time. Holding on to anger and petty emotions, and the pain of being rejected when it all won’t matter if Jeongguk dies.  

He goes back to their room, extends his hand to open the door but the door slides all the way, Jeongguk instantly facing him. 

"Jim-"

Jeongguk lets out a surprised sound, stumbles back as Jimin throws himself at him, kissing him with everything he’s got. The kiss breaks something inside of him, tears him wide open and he bleeds and bleeds and knows it will hurt so much more. To kiss Jeongguk with this much love, to get nothing in return. 

It’ll burn him alive. 

"Jeongguk," he breathes between their mouths, their lips catching on every word "take me to bed," 

Jeongguk doesn’t make him repeat it. He lifts him off his feet, takes two steps and lowers him onto the futon gently, placing himself between Jimin’s legs like he belongs there. He’s looking at Jimin with wonder, disbelief and when he leans down and touches their lips, the kiss is infinitely gentle. So unbearably sweet, like Jeongguk is thankful, happy and scared all at once. 

Jimin feels the tears again, and he fights them. He fights them as Jeongguk kisses down his neck and collar bones, as Jeongguk sucks marks onto the skin on the inside of his thighs and kisses down his legs and feet. He fights them as Jeongguk opens him up with patient tongue and careful fingers, takes so long Jimin whimpers and begs him to hurry up. He fights them as Jeongguk runs his hands up and down his flanks and kisses his hip bones.

He loses when Jeongguk enters him. 

Jeongguk does it slowly but insistently, the stretch of his cock a gentle ache that makes Jimin feels overwhelmed in the best way possible. He doesn’t care anymore, lets the tears flow. Jeongguk’s hips move in deep thrusts, fucking him so slowly Jimin feels the drag of his cock all the way in and out. The heat coiling in his body is too much and he almost wants Jeongguk to fuck him hard and fast but he also wants this to last forever. 

He wraps his legs around Jeongguk’s waist and his arms around his shoulders, digging his nails into the skin right over Jeongguk’s shoulder blades. Jeongguk huffs, a small pained sound directly over Jimin’s ear, then turns his face and starts kissing over Jimin’s falling tears. 

In that moment, he can’t believe Jeongguk doesn't feel the same. Can’t believe that this fire is burning him alone. Jeongguk is too gentle, gentle enough to break Jimin’s heart all over again because how can he not feel this, and how can Jimin be selfish enough to still want him to feel it. 

This endless aching need, this urge to cry and cry but only because it feels so good to be here. 

"Jeongguk," he moans, a broken sound that’s a love confession and a prayer and a plea all rolled into one name. He wants to tell him, say these three words that shouldn’t hold so much power, but he doesn’t. It’s too much as it is, and he can’t take another hit today.

They reach the end together, Jimin whiting out with pleasure. He sighs at the warm feeling of Jeongguk filling him up, clenches his muscles just to feel more of it. Jeongguk hisses and tries to move, but Jimin strengthens his hold, keeps him right where he is.

Just for a few more moments, Jimin can hold on and pretend that Jeongguk is his as much as he is Jeongguk’s.

Chapter Text

 

Something is wrong.

Jimin is acting like he always does, he smiles but it doesn't look real. He sighs a lot. 

He looks at Jeongguk with sad eyes but he spends time with Taehyung and trains with Hoseok. And when night falls, he drags Jeongguk to bed and lets him do whatever he wants. 

It’s the after that confuses Jeongguk the most. The moment they’re done, Jimin hurries up and away from Jeongguk, falling over himself in his haste to clean Jeongguk’s trails off of himself. He bundles himself up in layers despite the weather not being cold, and he sleeps with his back to Jeongguk, curled in on himself like the idea of skin contact is repelling. It doesn’t stop Jeongguk from holding him, but it doesn’t feel right. 

It makes Jeongguk crazy. Makes him crave the touches more than he craves the sex. He gets clingier the more aloof Jimin acts and he’s lost as how to solve it. Doesn't know where to start asking Jimin if he wants to ask. 

Tonight when both of them are sated and sweaty, Jeongguk doesn’t pull out. He cages Jimin with his body and kisses him, keeps kissing him until they’re both hard again and then fucks him even harder than the first time. Jimin collapses after he comes for a third time, he blinks at Jeongguk but he can’t seem to keep his eyes open. He falls asleep. 

Jeongguk cleans him up and settles besides him.

Even in his sleep, Jimin turns his back to Jeongguk, tries to put distance between them but it’s at least better, with him naked and warm and here for Jeongguk to touch him. Jeongguk pulls him closer, until their skin is fused together and there’s not even air between them. 

 


 

He blinks his eyes open in the middle of the night. There’s nothing that he can blame for his sudden awakening, he’s comfortable, warm but not unplesently so and Jimin is nestled in his arms.

Jeongguk doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t wake up to this, to them holding on to each other, and he never gave it a thought. Seemed like too much trouble to question something that feels good and natural and easy. Jimin’s back is pressed to his chest, so close Jeongguk’s cock is between his ass cheeks, and he’s holding Jimin with the arm Jimin is using as a pillow. His other arm is lined with Jimin’s, their fingers entwined over Jimin’s stomach. In moments like these, when Jeongguk is still sleep hazy, he finds himself unable to tell which limb belongs to whom. Like Jimin is simply an extension of himself, or that he is Jimin and Jimin is him. 

It’s a ridiculous notion, because his hand is so much bigger than Jimin’s, Jimin’s fingers shorter and thinner. Jeongguk’s arm where it’s lined over Jimin’s is almost twice as thick. Jimin, small and breakable, even his breaths aren’t as loud as Jeongguk’s.

Normally, Jeongguk hates feeling someone’s vulnerability, it makes him calculate how fast that person will bring down the whole team, he still doesn’t feel right when Taehyung fights, even with how much better Taehyung is compared to the past. 

With Jimin, it’s different. Instead of burdened he feels protective. Instead of worried he’s afraid, and instead of uncomfortable he’s tenderly aching.  

Jeongguk closes his eyes, buries his nose in the fine hair on Jimin’s nape and inhales deeply. 

He nuzzles his nose into the hair and then takes Jimin’s ear lobe into his mouth, gnawing at it gently. Jimin stirs, wiggles in his hold then settles again, Jeongguk bites just a bit harder.

"Go back to sleep," Jimin says, voice sleep raspy.

Jeongguk lets the lobe out, only to lick at the hillar. Jimin squeezes his hand. Jeongguk scraps his teeth over the curve of Jimin’s neck.

"Jeongguk," Jimin whines, "sleep." 

Jeongguk bites down over his shoulder, and Jimin moans and arches back into him. He disentangles his hand from Jimin’s, slide it down between his legs where Jimin is already half hard. Jimin starts squirming, breath coming out in gasping huffs. 

"Jeongguk," he gasps out, pushing his ass back onto Jeongguk’s erection. The head of his cock catches on Jimin’s rim, and it’s so very tempting to fuck into him, but he has to move away to get the lube and Jeongguk doesn’t have the patience for it. He thrusts shallowly into the warmth between Jimin’s thighs, makes his strokes in tandem with the movement of his hips. Jimin whimpers, tightens the hold of his supple thighs, and bucks up, fucking into Jeongguk’s hand, uncoordinated and desparate.  Jimin turns his head a bit, takes two of Jeongguk’s fingers into his mouth and starts sucking on them, whimpering around the flesh like he’s losing it and gagging as he takes them down to the knuckles. It doesn’t deter him one bit, he keeps licking and swallowing around them, and that’s enough to tip Jeongguk off the edge, Jimin following not far later.

Jimin shakes in his arms, then he makes to get up. Jeongguk holds on.

"You’ve been doing this a lot," he says. Jimin stills for a heartbeat then goes right back to trying to get up.

"Just want to clean up." 

"You didn’t care before," 

"Let me go." Jimin says, his voice wet.

"Not until you tell me why. You liked this before. Do you not now?"

"Jeongguk, I like it. I came." 

"I’m not talking about the sex!" He snaps. Jimin flinches then goes limp in his arms. Jeongguk waits for an answer. 

He doesn't get one, Jimin’s shaking gets worse and worse and then Jeongguk realizes that he’s crying. 

"Did I hurt you?"

"No," 

"Then what? Why are you…"

Why are you so sad. Why won’t you tolerate my touch unless we’re having sex. Why do you seem like you’re barely holding on. 

"What do you want me to say Jeongguk?" Jimin sounds so tired, so small. "I love you so much I’m going crazy, and you don’t feel the same and I can’t...I can’t do anything about it. I can’t even be upset." 

You are upset . Jeongguk wants to say.

Because it’s easier than trying to reply to the other statement in that line. 

Jimin loves him. 

He moves, turns Jimin so that he’s on his back and looking up at Jeongguk. Jimin’s eyes are filled with tears, the tracks so clear on his cheeks despite the dim light. He looks wrecked, hair messed up, eyes teary and his body covered with come. 

He’s the most beautiful thing Jeongguk’s ever seen. 

"I hate seeing you cry," he says, but it’s the wrong thing to say because Jimin covers his eyes with his forearm, turns his face away.

"Then don’t look at me." 

Jeongguk tries to be as gentle as he can, prying Jimin’s arm away from his face. He cups Jimin’s cheek, pressing until Jimin is looking into his eyes again. 

"Really?" 

He sounds like he did so many years ago, when his mother promised to cook his favourite meal; he sounds childish and stupid and a lot hopeful. 

Jimin is confused for a second, then he nods, a blush high on his cheeks. 

"Tell me again." Jeongguk is searching for something, doesn’t know what but hopes that if he hears the words again he would know. Maybe he’d be able to name this thing pushing against his ribs, trying to get out of his chest. 

"I love you." Jimin says. Soft, real. Easy as breathing. And Jeongguk wants to ask why. Why him? The insensitive, cruel bastard. The monster, the selfish demon who doesn't want to die to protect everyone else. Why, Jimin, why do you love me ? But he doesn't want to remind Jimin of all the reasons that Joengguk is something to be feared instead of loved, he doesn’t want Jimin to change his mind.

He wants to keep this fluttering warmth that feels vaguely like happiness inside of him.

"Again."

"Jeongguk-"

"I’m just making sure," 

Jimin cocks his head to the side and considers him for a long while, then he smiles. Jeongguk only then notices that Jimin hasn’t smiled like this since that day in the yard when he argued with Seokjin and Taehyung. 

This smile is so much prettier, transforming Jimin’s eyes into half moons. 

"I love you, Jeongguk." 

Jeongguk lowers himself down, hides his smile in Jimin’s neck, and wraps him in his arms. 

He thought that something like this would make him angry. He should be angry, he was angry when he saw Taehyung and Seokjin. 

But he isn’t now.

He’s happy. 

He doesn’t know what it means.  

Chapter Text

 

"How did you realize that you were in love with Seokjin-hyung?"

Taehyung looks surprised, his eyes wide and blinking at Jeongguk before he frowns and averts his gaze.

Jeongguk had been following him around for a while now, looking for an answer for this very same question the only way he knows how, by observing someone he knew was in love. If it made Taehyung uncomfortable he didn’t say, he allowed Jeongguk to walk behind him and sit down by his side as he worked or fed the birds. 

Taehyung had never been interesting to Jeongguk, silent and always standing a step behind the rest, never speaking unless addressed directly. He nodded and smiled mostly and he didn’t even voice complaints. For some reason, it has always made him a bit uncomfortable.

It feels like Jeongguk is invading a ground he has no business stepping in, but he has no other template of comparison and so he lists these small facts about Taehyung in his head, one by one until he grows more and more confused. 

"I-" Taehyung starts, licks his lips and then looks at Jeongguk again "I just wanted to be with him all the time?"

"Why are you saying it like a question." Jeongguk says and Taehyung smiles shyly.

"I don’t know how to answer this question."

Jeongguk huffs and crosses his arms above his chest. 

"What would you gain from the answer?" Taehyung asks, in a rare show of curiosity.

"I’m just making sure,"

Taehyung tilts his head to the side and lifts a brow. Jeongguk huffs again.

"That Jimin really loves me,"

Taehyung frowns "It seems like," he hesitates but then he braves on, "like you’re trying to understand your own feelings, not Jimin’s," 

"I do understand my own feelings," he says, but as soon as the words come out he isn’t sure they’re true. 

Taehyung’s answer is a clear laugh and a head shake "I think it's better if you ask Seokjin." 

Jeongguk scrunches his nose, shrugs his shoulders and goes to look for Seokjin. 

***

"How did you know you were in love with Taehyung?" 

Seokjin jumps, the potion in his hand slipping from him and Jeongguk moves, catching the container before it hits the ground. Seokjin places his hand over his chest and lets out a long exhale.

"You scared me," he says. 

"How did-"

"Would you just give me a second," Seokjin snaps. He retrieves the glass container from him and places it on the table. He then sits on the futon and pats the space next to him in invitation. Jeongguk takes it, sits with his legs crossed, facing Seokjin.

"Now what were you saying?"

"How did you know you were in love with Taehyung?" Jeongguk repeats.

 


 

The next few days come ominous and gray, despite the sunny weather; the gloom clouds over the heads of everyone in the temple. 

News come from east and west, about more demons leaking in like a disease that can’t be cured, and with it comes the inevitable blame that’s lived and grew with Jeongguk. 

Half the time, the stares ricochet off him like nothing can touch him, the other half is what keeps him up at night and makes his insides tremble. The days drag on like hot molasses, summer heat and guilt and insignificant whispers. 

They cling to Jeongguk’s skin, those trivial comments, like particles of dust that cannot be seen until everything is covered by them, and then the twisting starts. Something pulls at his innards, an unidentifiable power that works independently. 

It comes to a shape in the hunter that arrives in the last days of July, a bulky man with keen eyes who the council refuses to offer shelter. He claims that he’s been following a trail of magic. 

"A fairy," one of the council elders says, seemingly amused by the notion, "there is no such thing as that inside these walls," 

The hunter for his part, looks uncaring as he stares around the grounds of the temple. Jeongguk feels the urge to attack boiling in his bones, to silence him forever before he starts the disaster he can see all of his teammates expecting. 

To his relief, the man gets no sympathy or answer. He gets chased off by scowling elders, and just then Jeongguk lets himself breath a relieved sigh. 

"Gather in the yard," Choi Bang barks. He’s one of the younger members of the council, a tall, broad man with hard facial features, his frown ever present as he directs the knights to stand in lines in the training yard. 

"We cannot afford such claims," he shouts "we’re here to end this before it starts."

Jeongguk’s heart climbs up his throat and takes a residence there as two men start drawing a huge sigil in front of them. A circle around a smaller triangle then another circle, swirls of elegant writing in the places where they cross and Jeongguk doesn’t need to be an expert to recognize it.

A revealing spell. 

He remembers a similar one, from the time he first came to the temple and half of the council was convinced he was a demon. The work of the spell is easy, inhuman things can step in but they’re trapped in the circle until the caster chooses to release them. Back then, Jeongguk had thought he wouldn't be able to get out, his demon half much stronger than his human half, or so he believed. Neither won, the lines evaporated the second his feet touched them, and that was that. 

They mean to let everyone walk through it. 

"Everyone walks in except Jeongguk," Choi Bang orders.

"I beg your pardon, master Choi," Seokjin steps out "why are we placing so much trust in the words of a passing hunter? They’re vile humans with no morals."

Jeongguk can see the fine tremor going through Seokjin’s body, can feel the disturbance in the rhythm of his heartbeats. Seokjin’s voice and stance betray neither as he calmly tries to negotiate their way out of this predicament. 

"We don’t believe him, of course." Choi Bang answers "but a seed of doubt has been planted and it’s wiser to kill it before it blooms."

"It is my belief that by going through all of this, you are showing distrust in the temple’s initial protection spells, I see no benefits in giving the people a reason to doubt us. Granted, fairies aren’t dangerous by any means, but the idea stays that if one passed anything else could." Seokjin takes a breath, and Jeongguk has seen him do this before. Stopping to give time for his words to sink, stopping so he doesn’t seem anything but calm and offering instead of desperate. 

"Let’s say for argument sake that a fairy is indeed here, the reveal of it shall cause us nothing but bad reputation while the opposite will do no harm."

"We’re not looking to advertise, Seokjin." Choi Bang says "we shall not let whatever results from this out of these walls,"

Seokjin opens his mouth to argue further but Choi Bang cuts him off "I appreciate your... opinion , but it’s unneeded. You are not in a position to offer it. Remember that here you are merely Seokjin , another knight and you are to follow orders. Now step into the circle,"  

Seokjin huffs, lifts his head high and walks with sure steps in and then out of the sigil. No one is surprised that he passed, the other knights follow behind him as Jeongguk lingers beside his team members. Taehyung is staring at the sigil like it’s his death sentence, and perhaps to him thats what it seems like. He’s going to be sent away.

Jimin.

Jimin too, will be taken away. 

Something builds up in him, hot like liquid fire but bone chilling at the same time. A wave of helplessness crashes over him as he realizes that short of destroying everything, there’s nothing he can do about this. 

"There’s no need for this," Jimin says, stepping in front of Taehyung. Jeongguk knows what he’s planning to do, and he grips his wrist. It’s all in vain, what Jimin is trying to do is smarter, there’s no need to expose them both when only one of them would appease the situation. 

"The hunter was right," Jimin proclaims loudly. Every eye turns to him as he takes slow measured steps towards the circle, each of them making Jeongguk’s breath more labored. 

The sigil shines with white light as Jimin steps into it, the lines turning into brilliant strokes of power that pulsates through the air. Jimin’s hair colour bleeds down, like the black is a blanket that’s being pulled, the pink appears from underneath; jarring and real and undeniable. Jimin opens his striking gray eyes, pulling gasps from those in attendance. 

Jeongguk’s heart lurches, beating like it’s going to collapse into itself and stop permanently. Fear seizes him, the prospect of living without Jimin by his side an incapacitating force that rocks through him and leaves him breathless.

Jimin locks eyes with him and smiles, something small and sad and nowhere near how bright his smile can be. 

 

"How did you know you were in love with Taehyung?"

"He smiled at me and I thought: I would damn the whole world to keep this smile."

 

It’s a flash of memory, but it’s also a conviction. A revelation. 

Jeongguk stares as Choi Bang removes the spell and declares it all over. He walks to Jimin and informs him with a clipped voice that he has until dawn to leave the temple ground. 

“Who is your master, fairy?” Choi Bang asks. Jimin turns his head to the side.

"No," Jeongguk says.

It’s not a shout nor an order, but it’s infused with so much power every soul freezes in its standing place. Jeongguk can feel Jimin’s heartbeats from where he stands, like the hooves of a galloping mere, mimicking the uneven rhythm of his own unsettled heart. 

“Of course it’s you,” Choi Bang nearly hisses, “should have known.”

“Don’t take him away,” Jeongguk says, but unlike the first time he spoke, this is a plea. It’s scared and vulnerable like he’s never been before. 

The earth shakes underneath this feet, cracking and undulating like the waves of a stormy ocean, and he can’t control the surges of energy that seeps out of him. The sky turns angry and black, lightning strikes and thunder roars and it pours down. 

Jeongguk’s steps shatter the ground, and from around him trees start to rise and grow, their shape unnatural as they swell and tangle. He can feel the fear in the air, so thick he’s breathing in it, the sounds of the knight’s upheaval, shouting, backing away, pleading. 

"If you take him away," Jeongguk hears himself say "I’ll cry."

Probably the most childish statement, something that should be insignificant. Tears, he can feel their sting, can feel one of them escaping from the corner of his eye. Can hear the walls behind him crumbling, can feel the earth move where he walks. 

Jimin runs to him, clings to his neck and shushes him gently, "Don’t cry, Jeongguk. It’s alright, they said it’s alright. Stop, Jeongguk."

He wraps his arms around Jimin’s waist and hides his face in Jimin’s neck, inhaling the flowery scent that he came to love and relishing in Jimin’s warmth. They’re both soaked through, but the sky starts to let up, sun sneaks in from between the dark clouds and the earth settles. 

"I love you," he whispers into the damp cloth on Jimin’s shoulder. Jimin’s breath hitches, and his hold tightens. He nods, presses closer.

"Me too,"

"I hope you realize," Choi Bang, wet hair sticking to his forehead, starts with a shaky voice, "that while we will allow him to stay, you will receive a punishment for breaking the rules."

Jeongguk disentangles himself from Jimin, fully prepared to accept whatever it is they want to do. 

Seokjin has other thoughts, apparently "Why?" He asks, making it as if he’s genuinely confused. 

"Seokjin," Choi Bang warns, "you seem to have a lot of opinions today."

"This is a question, Master Choi." Seokjin says, managing to somehow show both, sarcasm and confusion. It’s clear that it’s riling Choi Bang up, and he can see worry blooming on the other members’ faces. 

"Because he broke the rules." Choi says, deliberately. Like Seokjin is a slow person.

"Is that your way of convincing him to protect us? You’re asking him to die for us and this is how you’re treating him?"

"Kim Seokjin!" Choi snaps "That’s quite enough from you!"

"All due respect, Master Choi, but I genuinely cannot see the benefit of making him hate this temple more than he already does!" 

“He invited an inhuma-”

“A fairy! By no means a malicious being and especially not Jimin. Has he not been a member of this temple’s knights? Has he not fought and risked his life for our cause? Isn’t this world’s dismay a concern of all? Why are you excluding him, like he’s something for us to reject? You know how vital this upcoming war is, that everyone who is able and willing to fight should not be stopped from doing so, and yet here you are compromising us because of prejudice.”

Choi is fuming, Jeongguk can sense it but he does not reply, pinching his face into a scowl and turning to face other knights. The others seem to be torn between their constant hate for Jeongguk and the logic in Seokjin’s words. None of them offers an opinion, but other elders interfere.

“We can see the logic in your words, Prince Seokjin.” At the mention of his title Seokjin’s expression turns sour. It’s obvious what the council members are attempting to achieve; by bringing Seokjin’s status they’re making less of his words, bringing back the argument that he’s not a Prince here and as such not in the right to question orders.

“Am I to stay silent when I see injustice unless I’m a prince?” Seokjin asks. He points at the crowd and goes on “Are you suggesting that none of them is entitled to think for themselves?”

The elder seethes but relents.”Shall we take a vote then?”

“Of course,” Seokjin says but he doesn’t stop at that, he raises his voice “All of you who think fairies shouldn’t fight with us step out!”

In that moment, Jeongguk recognizes, not for the first time how smart Seokjin is. He can tell by Seokjin’s smile and the fact that no one objects that the council would have worded that question differently. They would’ve asked them about delivering punishment for the breaking of rules, playing on their dislike for Jeongguk. Seokjin wagered on their fear from the future, on the fact that he is right.

Anyone should be allowed to fight.

When few tense moments pass without protest. Choi Bang simply walks away, the others whispering amongst themselves before they also follow him. 

Seokjin deflates in apparent relief.

“Damn, hyung.” Yoongi says, sounding impressed. Namjoon claps him on the shoulder as Hoseok sings him praises, Seokjin offers them a small smile. Jeongguk nods at him in thanks. While Taehyung runs up to him and pulls him into a hug. 

“Let’s get to our room,” Jimin says “I feel like I can sleep forever,”

They all agree to the sentiment. It has been a long day.  

Chapter Text

 

The stacks of books are covered with a fine layer of dust, indicating that no one has been here for a long time. It’s not surprising that the library is the least visited part of the temple, the knights being more oriented towards the fighting. Jeongguk is certain no one but Namjoon, Yoongi and perhaps Seokjin come here. 

He stares at the tall shelves, taking in every row and every thickly wrapped book. All the spines are made from leather, some worn off at the edges and some so new they appear untouched. Jeongguk’s eyes sweep over them, trying to delay what he’s here for. Despite the dark and the late hour, the place is warm, summer has seeped into every corner and forced the heat into wood and papers. The scent of the air is stale, the dust scratches his nose as he inhales deeply and he casts his eyes down and around, at the big tables and the long corridors. 

Steps measured and slow, Jeongguk walks all the way to the back, makes a turn, easier than he thought it would be. He hasn’t been here since he was fifteen, and yet he navigates the way like he was born with the knowledge of them carved into his bones. 

There, sitting undisturbed and ignored, an innocent looking leather notebook. He takes it out, wipes the cover with the palm of his left hand and reads the neat little lines making up the name of the owner.

Noah.

There was a time when Jeongguk thought of the demon as his father, but then he was left behind, forbidden to even mourn and so Jeongguk had forced himself to think of him as simply Noah, someone who left him a legacy that he’s never asked for. Someone who was there at a point in time to take care of him. The memory of him makes Jeongguk think of his mother, and how he chose to cut her off too in fear that he would feel too much and hurt her. 

He settles down, sets the notebook in front of him and steels himself. He chose this, he reminds himself. No one forced him to, he’s not doing this because he has to, he wants to do it. 

Closing his eyes, he summons up all the reasons he’s doing this. 

Jimin’s face appears behind his closed lids and he smiles. The warmth of Jimin’s body still clings to him, the subtle smell of flowers from his hair, the confused, sleepy rasp of Jeongguk’s name as he moved out of the futon. 

Jimin has been the lightning that destroyed the dam, but the flood was all Jeongguk. 

He’s been pushing down his feelings, denying their existence until Jimin came around and made them strong enough to break through Jeongguk’s wall of willful ignorance. Now he can’t help but face them head on. The one truth is that Jeongguk has been surrounded by love and acceptance, and he’d loved in return, only he’s been too stubborn to see it. 

Perhaps the more accurate word would be afraid. He was too afraid to admit it, because if he cared about too many people, where would that put him?

Right here in front of this notebook, it appears. 

He’s making an active choice to learn the spell, to save this world. Not for anything but for his team. His mother.

Namjoon, who was the first person to treat Jeongguk like a normal kid, the first one to see him as someone who had feelings and needs, didn’t treat him as a means to an end. He’s the reason why Jeongguk had agreed to join the temple, his only condition was to be in a team with Namjoon-hyung.

Then came Yoongi, and Hoseok. Both showed easy acceptance and love, both taught him so much. Yoongi who stayed up with him, teaching him basic spells and how to break free from some traps. Hoseok who taught him to cast dancing spells, correcting his clumsy steps until he was good enough to take on his ritual duties. 

Taehyung, who showed him nothing but care and patience, and Seokjin who was loud and weird but stood up for him and helped when it counted. 

And Jimin. Jimin who loved him, wanting nothing in return, who dressed his wounds and kissed them better. Jimin with the brightest smile and the adorable cheeks and the most beautiful eyes. 

Jeongguk wants to protect them all, keep them safe as long as he can, and no matter the cost.

If that cost is his life then so be it. 

With his resolve stronger than ever, he turns the pages until he reaches the instructions for the veil spell and pours over it. The sigils and words are long and more complicated than anything else he knows how to cast but that’s alright. He’s sure all the council members will be more than happy to help him learn it. 

 


 

He keeps sneaking out during the night. Not wanting his team members to know he’s learning the spell. 

It’s a weird selfish thing, but he cannot share it with them in fear that they would try to stop him. Or worse, encourage him. 

He’s not sure which one would be harder on him to endure and so he sneaks out from the room, regretting the minutes he’s not going to spend with Jimin, and heads to the library. 

Taehyung is waiting for him there, sitting on the chair Jeongguk usually sits on and reading Noah’s notes. Jeongguk blinks at him and then Taehyung looks up and smiles shyly.

“I’m sorry,” he says. Then he folds the notebook and puts it aside.  

Jeongguk feels unsettled, and weary. He stares at Taehyung and shakes his head. He’s been maybe not so subtly, avoiding Taehyung. After he figured all of the emotions business out, he felt nothing but shame about that day in the backyard, and he almost wants Taehyung to slap him again. Seokjin standing up for him when Choi Bang had wanted to punish him didn’t help how he felt about himself. He stands there for a long while, until Taehyung gestures for him to sit down; lost, Jeongguk does that.

“How did you know I was here?” Jeongguk asks.

“Namjoon-hyung. He told me he sensed you moving around the temple at night,” Taehyung trails off, glances at the notebook, “I thought you were doing exactly this; learning the spell.”

Jeongguk hums but he doesn’t speak. 

“Namjoon-hyung and Yoongi-hyung should be here in a short while,” Taehyung announces. Jeongguk turns to him, eyes wide. Taehyung ducks his head, remains silent. Few moments pass drenched in silence, and Jeongguk counts the beats then decides it’s been all first times for him these past few days, he might as well go for another one. 

“I’m sorry for the other day, I shouldn’t have said that to Seokjin or interfered. I made light of your decision, and for that I apologize.” 

Taehyung considers him, a small smile on his lips, "Jimin is really something else, huh.” He says. Jeongguk feels his cheeks reddening. 

“Shut up,” he says. Taehyung grins. 

“Evening,” Namjoon greets, casually taking a seat in front of them. Yoongi follows behind, waving at them as he saunters to the last empty seat. He pulls the chair farther back, drapes himself over it and props his feet on the table, crossing his ankles. 

“So Taehyung, you had an idea. I’m all ears,” he says. Jeongguk looks around in confusion, from face to face then finally back to Taehyung, who gives him another shy smile but boldly reaches out to Noah’s notebook and opens it in front of him. 

“We’re here to help,” Namjoon explains. Then nods at Taehyung who starts talking:

“I can see the veil,” he says “when I open a portal, I see the threads that make it up and hold it together. It’s frayed, and tearing apart but it’s not evanescing,” he takes a breath, like he’s mentally bracing himself “I can also see the old one,” 

“What?” Namjoon and Yoongi ask in one voice. “The old one was destroyed, that’s why Noah…” Namjoon trails of, glancing at Jeongguk.

“Yes, it is in shambles, but it exists. That’s why I wanted to talk to you about it. Maybe if we can modify the spell to fix it instead of building a new one,”

“It wouldn’t take as much energy and Jeongguk has a chance of surviving it!” Namjoon says loudly, standing up and knocking his chair down. Yoongi looks at the chair pointedly until Namjoon blushes and straightens it, taking his seat back. 

Jeongguk now knows why it’s these three, Taehyung with his idea and his ability to feel and see and touch the veil, Namjoon with the most knowledge about powers and energy and how to channel them and transform them and Yoongi, the one who knows most about creating sigils and spells. 

“Is it possible?” Jeongguk risks to ask, but daren’t hope. 

Yoongi gestures with his hand and Taehyung gives him the notebook. Namjoon and Yoongi examine it for some time then Yoongi nods.

“It’s doable in theory,” he announces “this spell can be altered to bring together the articles of the veil instead of forming new ones, but it’s gonna take some time.”

“That settles it then,” Namjoon says. 

“What if it doesn’t work?” Jeongguk asks, hates himself for it.

“It will.” Taehyung says with vehemence. 

“It has to,” Namjoon affirms, “you’ve got the best team working on it and we can’t afford to mess up.”

“Hyung,” Jeongguk hates how the word comes out choked up, it’d be really stupid if he cried now. He lets out a shaky breath and then looks at Taehyung “Thank you,” then at them all “thank you.”

“We should thank you,” Namjoon replies.

“Still,” Jeongguk argues. They’re doing what no one else even bothered to consider, trying to save him when everyone else treated his death as an acceptable loss.

“We refuse to live in a world built on your misery.” Namjoon tells him and Jeongguk hugs him. This is exactly why he will not be sorry even if the spell they make doesn’t work. He would lay his life for them and he would be happy for it.  

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s been three days since Taehyung, Namjoon and Yoongi started working on the spell, but until now they showed no tangible progress. Taehyung protests to almost all the sigils Yoongi draws and when Taehyung thinks they’ll work Namjoon says they won’t and they start all over again.

Jeongguk trusts them with his life, but he’s not a patient person by nature and the fact that he’s basically useless until they finish makes him even more frustrated. 

“I brought you food,” Jimin says, setting a basket on the ground near Yoongi. They are gathered in Namjoon’s room; Yoongi, Namjoon and Taehyung are sitting on the floor with notes and books open between them. Jeongguk is standing with his back to the wall, just looking at them. Hoseok has been sent to the library to get more books, and Seokjin has gone to answer the council’s summoning in Namjoon’s stead. 

By far, the most hopeful about the new spell is Jimin, and while everyone has been helpful, Jimin has been extra invested. Taking up as much of their chores as he can to free up time, dancing in Namjoon’s ritual day, and in Yoongi’s too. He also takes time to bring food and books when he isn’t otherwise occupied, and Jeongguk is starting to worry that he might be over working himself. Jimin brushes him off when he shows any concern, so he’s retreated to hovering. He’s been inclined to hover either way, ever since Jimin’s true identity has been revealed, he’s been getting more attention than he used to, turning eyes wherever he walks and attracting more knights. If they were interested in him before, and that irritated Jeongguk more than anything, they’re twice as taken by him now, which as a result bothers Jeongguk even more. 

“How is it going?” Jimin asks. Yoongi huffs and shakes his head.

“You asked this morning, Jimin. These things take time.” Yoongi says.

“Sorry, I just...sorry.” Jimin shuffles his feet, looks around and then slumps his shoulders. He seems lost, standing in the middle of the room with nothing but fidgety hands.

“Problems!” Seokjin announces as soon as he opens the door.

Namjoon groans “What?”

“We need to leave. Demons. They started attacking temples. We were ordered to meet them halfway before they arrive here. We have too many injured, battling here would be unwise.” Seokjin glances at the books between them, and then rubs his face with one hand, “You need more time for this,”

Taehyung nods at him, Seokjin goes on “I believe it’s best if the three of you stay here.”

“Seokjin-” Taehyung goes to protest but Seokjin cuts him off.

“No, Tae, listen. This is important, and you need a few more days to finish. The veil might crumble at any day now, we cannot afford to lose time. We go, you stay and follow us when you’re done. We shall be fighting at the western side, near the forest.”

“But…” Taehyung looks frustrated, but he has nothing to say. Jeongguk feels sorry, imagines himself being forced to stay back when Jimin is out there fighting and thinks that he can’t. He would completely understand if Taehyung decided to leave with them. 

“Alright,” Taehyung concedes. Namjoon agrees.

“Now that’s decided, tell Hoseok. We’ll meet you outside the western forest,”

Jeongguk straightens, locks eyes with Namjoon and Namjoon gives him a reassuring smile. 

“Let’s go,” Seokjin says. 

Taehyung purses his lips and ducks his head, “Be safe,” he whispers. Seokjin places his hand on Taehyung’s head, doesn’t say anything. He leaves the room and Jeongguk follows behind, Jimin in his trail. 

 


 

The trip through the forest is far from pleasant, the weather changes at the drop of a hat, disturbances of air and light. The dark lasts longer than it should for the time of the year, the wind too harsh and cold for August. The trees are decaying where they stand. Jeongguk urges his horse faster, and hopes that the three back home can make it before the veil falls. 

“Jimin! Cover!” Hoseok shouts, and a wave of dark energy hits them. Jimin stops it before it reaches, but his horse gets spooked, he jumps up on hind legs, kicking with its front ones until he throws Jimin over and then it takes off in a mad dash, away from the forest. 

“Damn it,” Jeongguk curses, leaving his own animal and rushing to Jimin’s side. 

The demons seem to pour from thin air, the reality tearing up in multiple spots, and they leak out, numerous and vicious. 

“Take places!” Hoseok orders, and then they clash. Fighting on, Jimin stands far back to divert as many attacks with his magic, Hoseok close to him to protect him and Jeongguk and Seokjin as a main force. 

Jeongguk loses himself in screams and growls and the smell of blood as it sizzles off of him, his sword tearing through flesh and breaking into bone. The world narrows down to the moments where his weapon connects with the bodies of his enemies, and the rush of cutting off heads and piercing hearts. 

When they’re done, Jeongguk turns to find all of his friends drained and panting. 

“This is a disaster,” Seokjin says, and unceremoniously collapses to the ground. Hoseok follows him, throws himself into a sitting position. Jimin walks to Jeongguk.

“Are you hurt?” He asks through labored breaths. Jeongguk pulls him close, hugging him tight.

“Don’t worry about me.” 

They make slow progress cleaning up the forest, the sun rises and sets on them with no sleep or food. Finally, Seokjin tells them to find shelter, they need to rest if they plan to survive. Other teams were meant to be sent as a backup, but none has come, Seokjin theorizes that they were held up by more demons arriving anew. Or worse; eliminated.

Under a thick cover of trees, they light a fire and sit to eat, each of them exhausted. Jeongguk isn’t feeling it, but he can see them falling. 

“Sleep,” he tells them once they finish their modest supper, “I will stand guard.” 

They seem like they want to argue, but they know they can’t last longer without proper rest, so they give up and huddle to sleep. Jeongguk stays up until the first light appears, and then when Seokjin wakes up, he too gets some sleep. 

Many days pass like this, minimal rest and continuous battles. Two other teams catch up to them in the meantime, and they fight side by side. The demons that cross get more persistent, and some of them manage to escape and advance toward the temple. 

“We should head back,” Jeongguk says, “we can’t let them reach the temple.”

It is obvious that the demons have discovered that the only resistance they face is from the temples, and so they’re gathering up to destroy them. 

Another day passes much in the same way before Jeongguk hears Namjoon’s voice coming towards them. Finally.

“Jeongguk!” Yoongi shouts, then he stops his horse right beside Jeongguk. He dismounts and thrusts a notebook into his hands, “Start studying, now.” Jeongguk complies.

The battle goes on with no regard to Jeongguk, and he hides away with Jimin and the notebook, trying to memorize the strokes and words as fast as he can so he’d be able to go out and help. An agonized shout sounds and Jimin freezes beside him.

“That’s Taehyung!” He cries, and runs. Jeongguk curses, closing the notebook and following Jimin. 

Seokjin’s shoulder is torn, he’s kneeling on the dirt with Taehyung pale as a sheet beside him. Bleeding, and gritting his teeth, Seokjin is leaning on his sword. The rest of the team gathered in a circle around them. 

“Tie it up, stop the bleeding!” Hoseok says, alarm clear in his tone. Taehyung is pulling Seokjin’s tunic off, shredding it into long pieces, Jimin joins him. They’re battered up, Seokjin can’t fight anymore if he wants to stay alive, and Taehyung won’t leave his side. 

“Sit him against this tree!” Namjoon instructs. Seokjin grunts, getting to his feet and walking until he’s resting where Namjoon has pointed him, Taehyung readies his bow and stands in front of him. Yoongi places protecting spells around the two of them and orders them to stay inside. 

“We have to retreat to the temple!” Someone shouts. Namjoon examines the area. There are a few demons fighting them off, keeping them from following the ones who marched ahead. 

“Go! We’ll hold the rest of them.” 

Seokjin can’t travel fast, and they can’t leave him. This is what it comes to. 

“Into formation!” Hoseok commands, and they stand in the shape of an open triangle, the base is where Seokjin and Taehyung are. 

Jeongguk charges, feeling Jimin’s protective energy enveloping him, deferring attacks and keeping him safe. He rushes further, cuts through two demons and crosses his sword with one and then he hears it. Jimin’s sharp, pained cry. 

Jimin falls down. 

Jeongguk feels the world shattering. The veil breaks, demons chant in victory, circle around them like insects around a fallen piece of sugar. 

He runs to Jimin.

Chapter Text

 

There’s too much blood.

Blood on Jimin’s white clothes, seeping into the dirt. On Jeongguk’s hands. It’s warm and sticky, its sharp smell suffocating and making Jeongguk’s eyes sting. Jimin’s blinking up at him in confusion, his breath shallow, and too fast. Jeongguk can see the pulse in his neck, thready and fast. 

“Jeongguk,” he says, his voice too low; weak. Jeongguk is frozen, can’t feel anything besides incapacitating fear. “It’s alright, Jeongguk.” 

It’s not alright, Jimin is bleeding. He’s bleeding and where’s everyone? Why isn’t anyone helping.

He looks up and catches the world, unrecognizably dark and malicious, demons fighting his friends who are trapped. Taehyung has no arrows left, surrounded inside the circle of protection with Seokjin barely standing at his back, he’s clutching Seokjin’s sword and he’s shaking. Hoseok and Namjoon are back to back, caged by the enemy. He can’t find Yoongi. 

“Help…” he rasps anyway, he wants someone to help. He doesn't know what to do. Jimin looks dazed, his eyes are glassy and his breath is coming faster. Jeongguk cradles him into his body, touches his hand that has gone cold, his cheeks have lost all colour. “Help him, please.”

“Jeongguk, you have to fight. The spell...they need you.” Jimin lets out, hisses in pain as he tries to move. His side is torn badly, he’s going to…

“No, no. Jimin, no.”

“Jeongguk, the veil. Jeongu…” It gets stuck in his throat. The breath seems to swoop into him and then he’s limp. 

“Jimin? Jimin!” He shakes him and screams but to no avail, Jimin isn’t moving, isn’t breathing. 

Dead. 

Jeongguk’s mind refuses the idea. Because Jimin can’t be dead, Jimin is bright and good and necessary. The world needs him... Jeongguk, Jeongguk needs him, he can’t die.

“Jimin, wake up! Please? Please. Jimin, Jimin!” 

It hurts. Not his body, but something deeper in him, stinging like it was set on fire; slow, malicious fire. He wonders how much his soul can hurt before his body dies. The edges of his vision dim, black taking over, he can see nothing but Jimin’s closed eyes, the sweep of dark lashes against the swell of his cheeks. 

He lets the cold seep into him, his consciousness bleeding through, draining. He’s being emptied, his very soul leaving him and that’s good, he should leave, go to Jimin. 

The memory of inky swirls tugs at his mind and he opens his eyes. 

No, he can’t give in now, can’t let Jimin down. Can’t let the others down. He has to fight. He pulls Jimin’s body into his arms, and sits straighter. Inside of him dwells something that he flirts with but never fully touches, never sets free and he reaches down, deep into his very core and pulls.

The power courses through him, sinister and ruinous but he grips hard and forces it to follow his will. The black oozes from him, forming pillars high as the sky, then they move, engraving the rock and dirt. Circles and sigils, big around him, more lines and streaks, more magic more, more more.

He seals it over, then allows his power to burst. The world lights up, inscriptions shining gold and he can see it. The worlds colliding, the shreds of what once was separating them. The threads of reality, breaking farther away, but he’s here now. He infuses more energy into the spell, orders the remains, the pieces of brilliance scattered throughout and they bend and move, follow his will and bread together. Ribbons, entwining, turning thicker, knitting together until they cover what’s beyond them. They suck everything back, atmospheres and creatures. Jeongguk sees it, stands witness to how the world’s particles fall into the right places. Demons forced back into their world, the reality closing the tears that brought them. 

It all stops in a second. And the sigil he’s standing inside evaporates like it never was. 

He hears them then, voices around him. It’s Namjoon, he’s talking, getting closer. He sounds sad, endlessly tired. Jeongguk can’t feel anything. He’s still holding on to Jimin.

Taehyung is frantically searching over Jimin’s body, settling his fingers on Jimin’s neck. Jeongguk pulls him closer, grits his teeth against the pained wail Taehyung lets out.  

He reaches down, and brushes the hair back from the gentle, upward curve of Jimin’s cheek, the skin is still warm but it’s so unnaturally pale that there’s no way for Jeongguk to delude himself that Jimin is merely resting. Jimin’s eyes are never going to open again, no gorgeous, twinkling gray irises, no mischievous glint. Jimin’s lips are no longer pink and full, they’re dill and ashen. His pretty complexion appears waxy, unreal.

Dead.

He’s dead.

Jeongguk feels it like a stab, like a rattling in his bones, and it boils over and floods and he can’t breath. He’s sobbing, weeping out, his tears invites rain and ruin. His anguish sending the earth into a frenzy. It falls down, breaking. Everything around him turning into something else, shaping anew. With every scream he lets out, things die and live. Trees decay where they stand, and trees grow from around them, coiling and twisting. Lightning hits, burning the forest, the fire spreading despite the pouring rain.

Perhaps it was always meant for it to end like this. Jeongguk destroying the world he’s just saved. It’s too much an echo of that night twelve years ago, veil put in place only for Jeongguk to break. 

They’re talking around him, shouting, begging him to stop. But he can’t seem to care, what’s the world for if Jimin isn’t in it? 

He’s soaked through, he’s raging fire and he’s shaking like the earth underneath him, he’s aching and furious and he’s eight years old and lost. He tightens his hold on the body in his arms, and then he feels it; the gentle flicker of a soul, a flutter of a heartbeat.

“Jeongguk,” Jimin whines. “I can’t breathe.” 

He’s dreaming. No, he ended the world, he died and this is heaven. He buries his face into Jimin’s neck, smells the flowery scent that’s always ghosting around Jimin. Jimin’s warming up in his arms, struggling. Moving. Alive.

He lifts his head, the first thing he sees is Taehyung’s stunned, teary eyes as he stares and stares at Jeongguk. No, not Jeongguk.

Jimin.

“Jeongguk, you’re holding too strong.” His feeble hand pushes at Jeongguk’s shoulder, and Jeongguk lets his hold go lax. Just looks at Jimin. 

“What happened?” Jimin rasps. Jeongguk trails his eyes over him, the blood is still there, flaking off, dried and brown. The clothes are torn, but under them, Jimin’s skin is flawless, smooth and healthy.

“I don’t know,” Jeongguk answers him then he attaches their lips together and kisses him. Jimin lets out a surprised noise but he kisses back just as enthusiastically, wrapping his arms around Jeongguk’s neck as Jeongguk clutches at his sides. 

They pull apart, smiling at each other, and then they’re toppled over as Taehyung throws himself at them, hugging them both while crying like a child.

“Oh thank God, thank God,” 

Jeongguk doesn’t get the chance to right their position, everyone else joins the embrace, and they end up as a crying, laughing pile with Jimin in Jeongguk’s lap and everybody else clinging to them.  

The sun shines over them, a welcome light after a darkness that seemed to last forever, the warm breeze of summer rattles the leaves, brings a fresh smell of recent rain. They stand up and look at each other, bewildered but happy. Relieved. 

“My shoulder is healed,” Seokjin says casually as they walk forward. 

“Really?” Taehyung asks, turning over and removing the cloth over Seokjin’s wound. True to his word, there’s no trace of the cut, only unblemished skin.

Yoongi hums “I have a theory.”

“I think it’s Jeongguk’s power,” Namjoon says.

“Yah! That’s my theory!” 

Namjoon shrugs, Yoongi huffs “No respect,” he complains, “Anyway. I think he has the power to fix things as much as ruin them. He’s always managed to grow trees and bring rain. That’s not bad, yes? So when he was focused on Jimin’s death-”

“I died?” Jimin shrieks. 

“His powers were directed towards giving life more so than destroying, even without him knowing.”  Yoongi says as though Jimin hasn’t interrupted.

“I do remember getting hit with a claw!” Jimin says in wonder, touching at his side. The cloth is threaded over his flank and Jimin’s eyes widen as he turns to look at Jeongguk. Jeongguk places an arm around his waist and pulls him closer.

“I don’t care how it happened. I’m just glad it’s all over.”

“Holy shit!” Hoseok shouts, pointing at Taehyung. Jeongguk turns and he feels his eyebrows climbing up. 

Taehyung’s hair is shiny blue, like the surface of a clear lake and his eyes are ocean deep. He looks confused as everyone stares at him.

“What?” 

Seokjin smiles and ruffles his hair, “It’s blue,” he says as an explanation. 

“Oh,”

It seems like amidst the fight and chaos, Taehyung had finished the pills he had and with Seokjin being away, no one made more of them. Jimin chatters, endlessly fascinated by Taehyung’s real appearance. Seokjin is more relaxed about it than Jeongguk had expected him to be, not freaking out but walking closer, with his arm around Taehyung’s shoulders. 

“That’s it, I’ve decided to tell you guys, since all the truths are being revealed.” Yoongi says, then walks to Hoseok and puts his hand over Hoseok’s hip, pulling him close. “Hoseok is my fairy,” 

Hoseok rolls his eyes and tries to push Yoongi away; Yoongi, it seems, is more persistent than Hoseok thought. 

“Yoongi-hyung, leave him be,” Namjoon says. 

“You’re just jealous you’re the only one without a fairy.” 

Seokjin’s laugh fills the air, and they all follow, laughing at the weird sound of it more than at Yoongi’s joke. They are all battered up, their clothes in shreds and soiled beyond fixing but Jeongguk’s heart is light, perhaps for the first time in his entire life. 

 

Epilogue

Jeongguk is welcomed like a hero when they arrive, the knights run to meet him and they carry him up and throw him in the air and cheer. Jeongguk’s smile is so bright Jimin can’t help but mirror it. 

The chores and training are canceled in celebration, and the knights leave and indulge in -what Hoseok claims to be- the biggest festival in the history of their area. Candles are lit everywhere, lanterns get hung up in lines over the roads, and the night turns so bright it’s hard to believe the sun has set. Food and drink fly around, songs and dancing and music. The whole land is merry. The joyous melodies inspire everyone to join the dancing pairs in the yards, and Jimin watches with amusement as Seokjn and Taehyung dance together. 

Taehyung’s identity is no longer a secret, and despite the gaping that had happened initially, everyone was over it by the time Choi Bang had appeared to rage about it. Seokjin had smiled, rather coldly, and said that it’s all over. The temple is no more, and as such Choi Bang should just back down least he said something he regretted. Choi Bang, ever the problem lover, asked where he’d gotten him from and Seokjin had answered, proudly -and threateningly if Jimin knew anything- with:

“I killed his master.”

The temples’ fate is yet to be decided, but Jimin thinks they will keep them, maybe not as intensely as they are but in some shape of being prepared. Namjoon had mentioned that the spell can be used by a number of people if it was modified enough and there was talking about training people to repeat it every while, to strengthen the veil and prevent future wars. 

He hears laughter and he turns, only to see Hoseok trying to dance with Namjoon. The difference between the endless grace that is Hoseok and the absolute inelegance of Namjoon’s movements makes for a ludicrous contrast. Jimin laughs. 

“Join me?” Jeongguk asks, his hand offered palm up.

It’s never been easier for Jimin to take an invitation. 

 

-End.