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Handbook for the Recently Deceased

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It’s a perfectly normal day until Min Yoongi’s boyfriend is possessed by a demon.

He thinks he must have been showering when it happens, blissfully distracted by the alternating jets of boiling hot and freezing cold water -- blame the faulty showerhead. There’s a spider by the drain, which he kind of half heartedly keeps an eye on, but ultimately decides it’s not coming near his bare feet, and so chooses to ignore it.

When he's done being subjected to temperature play by the shitty plumbing, he reaches up and shuts the water off with all the enthusiasm of a whole Min Yoongi before noon. Which is, admittedly, not much.

And that's when he realises the apartment has gone strangely quiet.

Now, it’s a common misconception that possessions take place slowly, but this is Yoongi’s life’s work and he knows it doesn’t always go like that. After all, the slower the demonic entity is, the more time everyone has to notice it, and that’s just illogical. So nowadays, it’s perfectly common for the hauntings to be sudden, which in hindsight is why he’s immediately cautious.

With a towel tucked under his arms, he traipses out of the bathroom, the ends of his hair still dripping onto the tiled floor of his kitchen. And yes, after the two summers he’s spent living here, he still doesn't know why the shower is connected to the kitchen. He has one of those roundabout kinds of apartments, where it’s too small to really form solid rooms and instead sort of merges into one vaguely apartment shaped mess of a conglomeration. Actually, he’s thought about it from time to time, and concluded that the whole building feels like a bit of a mistake, much like the strange area of the suburbs he resides in.

Yoongi has always had strange abilities. He knows the atmosphere in the apartment isn’t normal, knows the air shouldn’t be this charged and waver when he exhales. The dust motes swirl far too quickly, as if in a frenzy. He knows they’re supposed to glide around and all, but it almost seems like someone’s turned gravity off and now they’re stirring everything about in the room with a giant mixing spoon.

He sighs. “I really don’t have time to deal with this today,” he says to the apartment, mainly because he’s running on too little sleep and he could probably sort whatever it is out on a better day. “Reveal yourself.”

There’s a movement from the doorway to his bedroom. He’s beginning to feel far too exposed in the thin towel, considering he’s not sure what’s causing the subtle shift in the atmosphere. Sure, more often than not he deals with lost souls and ghosts and the like, but he doesn’t even know what’s in his apartment. Beelzebub himself could be standing in his room, and here he is, naked and dripping wet. Not in a good way, either.

His boyfriend steps through the doorway.

Yoongi doesn’t slump in relief as one might be expected to do in such anticlimactic circumstances.

“Who are you?” He asks, fairly calm all things considered. It might seem like a strange question to anyone without Yoongi’s supernatural abilities, sure. His senses pick out the disturbance in the air, the dark cloud over Minjun’s head which probably shouldn’t be there.

“I- I’m Minjun?” Is the reply. He seems unsure of his answer, brows furrowing like he’s confused. Or disorientated.

Now, Yoongi’s not a demon and hasn’t possessed any humans in his time, but he thinks it would be a good idea to at least try and hide you’re an intruder.

“Yes, you appear to have taken his body. What’s your name?” Yoongi says, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow. The towel threatens to drop and he shivers as the cold air presses uncomfortably against his skin.

Minjun, or whatever’s possessing him, crumples a little, like Yoongi’s thrown a bucket of water over his head. “But you’re not supposed to be able to tell. How do you know?”

Yoongi shrugs noncommittally. “Obvious.” He clings to the towel still, the ends of his hair dripping onto the floor slowly now it’s dried a bit. He walks towards the demon, observing the peculiar way in which he tenses up when Yoongi passes him. He continues into his bedroom, beelines for the closet because his apartment is freezing and he wants to dress immediately.

“It’s Namjoon,” the demon says.

“Your name?’ Yoongi’s pulling a big hoodie with holes in it from his cupboard. It smells faintly of laundry detergent, but it’s overpowered by the scent of musty shelves and swirling dust. Yoongi pouts to himself, back turned to Namjoon -- he remembers washing the hoodie just a week ago, and it already smells like moths. Typical.

“Mmmmm.” Namjoon is still watching him, Yoongi can feel his gaze on his back. He doesn’t bother telling him to turn away.

Yoongi shrugs when the hoodie is comfortable on his shoulders. “Cool. I’m Yoongi. You probably already knew that though.”

“Yep.”

They stare at each other for a few seconds. The light flickers as moths dart around the exposed bulbs. A paint smell permeates the room and lights an image of old plaster and peeling paper in Yoongi’s head, rotting floorboards and mice in the corners. He wonders, briefly, how long it’ll take before the grime spreads to the rest of the building and tosses it into patchwork, too.

A droplet of water breaks free from the damp patch on the ceiling and breaks on Yoongi’s head. Namjoon watches impassively as he steps away from it.

“Well,” Yoongi says once he’s finished staring daggers at the ceiling. “You can stay here, alright? I don’t want a demon on the loose. That would bring all sorts of trouble, I’m sure.”

“Wait-” Namjoon’s mouth is popped open in confusion. “Aren’t you more scared I’m going to...I don’t know, kill you in your sleep? Maim your body? Steal everything you own?”

“Well. Are you going to kill me?” Yoongi deadpans.

“No-”

Yoongi shushes him gently. “Then I don’t see any reason to worry about it. If you’re gonna try anything, I have a nice draw full of all things demons like you hate.” He points to the draw, the one with the flimsy little padlock clipped to the front of it. The kind of lock you might get with a diary, not for a drawer of demon hunting memorabilia.

Namjoon’s face pales a little. “I see.” He doesn’t ask what’s inside. Yoongi watches the way he scuffs his feet and decides he might even be scared of the drawer. Like Yoongi might whirl around and torch his face off, or something.

He turns back to the bedroom and pretends to check the corners for cobwebs. Waves a hand around the back of shelves as though he’s cleansing the place. Namjoon’s still shuffling around behind him, like he’s uncertain about something. For a demon, he’s awfully polite, doesn’t even help himself to Yoongi’s couch and instead remains standing in the middle of the room, his arms held out awkwardly as though he isn’t sure what to do with them. Yoongi thinks it’s kind of sweet.

“So, you’re like an exorcist then?”

Yoongi hums under his breath. “Actually, I deal with more than just exorcism. Anything supernatural fits the job description, really.”

“Oh. Is that normal?” Namjoon says.

“I guess not,” Yoongi says. He doesn’t feel like explaining the strange mass in his head, the extra sense he has for this sort of thing. Other people usually think it’s rather odd, and although Namjoon isn’t ordinary himself...Yoongi decides he’ll come back to it another time. “Sometimes I scare people away because of it,” he tacks on, disliking the way his tone droops.

“But you’re not scary?”

Yoongi turns around to see Namjoon seated on the couch, picking at the holes where stuffing is bursting out. He isn’t sure when he got there. His chin is tucked over the back, and it’s still disconcerting to see Minjun’s face staring up at him when his boyfriend normally acts so very, very differently.

He purses his lips. “You don’t know a lot about people yet, do you?” When Namjoon shakes his head and tips his chin forwards inquisitively, Yoongi smiles down at him. It’s nice, having someone to talk to -- he’s not used to this. “Well, I’ll have to exorcise you eventually, you know. But maybe you could stick around for a little while first.”

And now Namjoon laughs, or rather, uses Minjun’s abdicated face to laugh. “Yes, please. If you don’t mind housing a demon. Oh, and is exorcism painful?”

Yoongi shrugs -- he wouldn’t know. “I imagine it’s not pleasant.”

He starts to drift towards the bedroom, fingers twitching in search of clean sheets and bedding. Namjoon might not need to sleep, but Minjun’s body definitely does, and there’s no way he’s offering his bed to a demon he just met. He’s a nice guy and all, but that’s one sacrifice he’s just not willing to make.

He’s bundling the sheets into his arms when he notices Namjoon hovering behind him, eyes widened as he looks around the room. His nature is weirdly skittish, for a demon, hands held out in front of him like he wants to touch everything and see if it’s actually real. It seems like he’s young, like this is the first time he’s ever possessed a vessel. Yoongi files the information away and makes a mental note to show him at least his small chunk of the world.

“You don’t mind sleeping on the couch? There might be some spiders living in it,” Yoongi says. He points to it with the sheets in warning, as though Namjoon’s going to be bothered by such a thing.

“It’s fine.” Namjoon is over by the old TV set now, twisting the dials and muttering to himself under his breath, and Yoongi realises he’s reading what each of them says out loud. He seems suitably distracted, so Yoongi throws one of the sheets over the couch cushions and tries not to wince when a moth dives off the surface to avoid him.

Yoongi’s used to moths and spiders and cockroaches living under his floorboards. He’s used to bugs hiding behind his books and cupboards and he’s used to the cobwebs gathering in the corners of his apartment. Even when he stays at his parents’ comparatively modern house with triple glazing and decent sealant, the dust seems to follow him regardless, coating every surface to the point it’s difficult to even begin to clean. Likewise, if he buys flowers they turn within a few hours, if he keeps fruit for too long it rots. Oh, and he knows it’s because of his abilities. Something about being able to see the dead or talk to ghosts seems to attract far too much unwanted attention from the strange matter that makes up death.

Minjun has always hated it.

Anyway, he finishes tucking in the sheets with a flourish, stepping back to observe his handiwork. “Sorry,” he says when he notices Namjoon is watching him again, the TV forgotten. “I can’t afford a bigger apartment-”

“I’ve never slept before,” Namjoon exclaims, hands clasped like he’s discovered something terribly exciting. “What’s it like?”

Yoongi blanches. He even thinks Namjoon might be joking, until he realises how he’s staring up at him in earnest from where he’s crouched on the floor. “Uh. Kinda hard to describe when I’ve been doing it my whole life. I guess it’s dark. Except for when you dream.”

“Dreams.” Namjoon flips the word over on his tongue.

Yoongi’s still staring at him in disbelief. “You really are a harmless demon, aren’t you?”

“I would probably try harder if you weren’t an exorcist,” Namjoon admits. He’s changing into the pyjamas Yoongi set out for him, and perhaps he should look away, but it’s Minjun’s body and he figures he’s seen it plenty of times before. “And I’m trying to get used to all this. It’s quite disconcerting.”

“Right.” He leans into the doorframe, watching as Namjoon crawls onto the sofa and continues to mutter to himself. “You don’t need anything else?”

“No.”

“Okay. Scream if you wake up and there’s a spider on your face.” Yoongi’s turning away, fingers absently trailing down the wall until they connect with the lightswitch. He flicks it off and waits for his vision to adjust to the lack of light.

“I will,” Namjoon’s voice emerges from the darkness, light and jovial in a way Minjun’s isn’t. “Sweet dreams, Yoongi.”

He’s shutting the door when he bites out a ‘you too.’ Twists the lock because he knows better than to totally trust Namjoon just yet. Leans back against the door and breathes -- “what the fuck,” because honestly, in all his years of supernatural encounters, none have been quite so friendly as Namjoon. He thinks he’s almost tempted to keep him around.

Yoongi falls asleep feeling like champagne has been poured into his chest.

 

 

 

 

 

Yoongi has a desk in his room, crammed right up against the wall and bending under the weight of the books he keeps on it. There’s a pot of ink in the middle of the empty space, papers overflowing with tacked-on notes and covered in his messy scrawl. Behind the desk, the wall is marked from all the times he’s accidentally jammed his hip into it and banged it against the wall. This is where Yoongi sits now, bare feet up on the chair and tucked under him peacefully. He stares out the window, watching as it darkens even though it’s only early morning.

He has an old landline, the kind of phone which still has a dial instead of buttons and real bells and a cord on the receiver. Maybe it’s just because he prefers it, maybe it’s because he’s moved into the area of town where the roads don’t always match up and the forest stretches into the gaping mouth of the abyss. At night, it’s full of strange howling and the sound of fairy wings flitting between the trees. And most importantly, his electronics seem to go a little haywire if he uses them too long.

This part of town is nice and tucked away where the real world can’t see it. And his neighbours seem perfectly ordinary, except for when he sees crimson smoke pouring from the third floor or death lilies blooming across the street.

Anyway, it’s autumn and he’s quite enjoying the air as it sharpens.

Namjoon is still asleep in the main living area -- he’s kept his bedroom door propped open so he can keep an eye on him. He finds himself spinning the chair so he’s not facing out the window anymore, and instead allowing his gaze to wander over Minjun, or rather Namjoon’s face. He cups his chin with his palm, really at a loss with what to do with the demon.

Minjun’s never really done anything wrong.

After the years they were together, they ran out of conversations to have, places to visit, but Minjun wasn’t exactly a bad person, not really. Okay, he was a little weirded out by Yoongi’s strange abilities, but Yoongi can’t really blame him for that.

He’s just wondering why Namjoon chose Minjun of all people when the phone behind him bursts to life. Yoongi startles, watching as Namjoon blinks his eyes open and squints to avoid the light. He turns around so Namjoon won’t notice he’s being watched.

“Hello?” He says into the receiver.

There's a burst of static, a result of the old phone lines that criss cross about the area, cutting the sky into jagged sections. Yoongi's often struggled to put a finger on what exactly this piece of city is, hidden away and so ramshackle in nature. Although it's sitting on the edge of the suburbs, the sound of traffic presses against the windows during the night, the faint hum of modern trains unsettling his brain as he chases sleep.

"Yoongi!" The voice is warm and sweet, lifting around the edges in a way that's familiar to Yoongi. "I've missed you," and Yoongi can practically see the way Jimin is winding the phone cord around his peach-painted nails.

"Hi," he says, relaxing as Namjoon yawns. The creaking of the sofa against the decaying floorboards suggests he's stretching his arms up and over his head. The flesh of Yoongi's tongue turns acidic as he remembers it's one of Minjun's mannerisms. He rushes on in an attempt to clear his head -- "what's up?"

Jimin's tone is lilting like he's trying to hide something. "You know I've been playing around with summoning circles recently..."

Yoongi exhales sharply and pinches the bridge of his nose with two fingers. "You better not have summoned anything, Park, I swear to God I don't want to clean up your mess again."

"Haha...Well."

Yoongi slams the phone down.

He sees Namjoon eyeing him in the reflection of the window, so covered in grime it looks like the sky is full of ash. They sit there for a moment, Yoongi's back still turned to the living area. His radio crackles away in the corner, a sleepy newsreader switching between languages in a way that only happens in this strange little suburban pocket. The voice slows and warps, drips like honey as Yoongi counts down on his fingers. Three.

Two.

One.

He picks the phone up just as it begins to vibrate the desk with the shrill of metal on metal. "Okay,” he says, resigned. His weariness filters through into his tone and lengthens as it travels through fizzled out wires. “What exactly have you summoned, and what do you want me to do about it?"

Which is how he ends up grinding agrimony half an hour later. He hums peacefully under his breath, socked feet slipping over the cracked tiles as though he's locked in a clumsy dance. Now he reaches over and flicks the kitchen radio on instead, ignoring the way the one in his bedroom is still faintly buzzing with static.

Namjoon coughs. "I assume this means your friend has a demon situation also?" He says. There's a book in his hands -- upon closer inspection Yoongi discovers it's the one on dokkaebi. A shiver runs down his spine and he grabs another cracked jar of herbs from the cupboard.

"It's a ghost," Yoongi sighs. "Nothing too serious. But it's been wailing for a while and that's got to be annoying. Jimin could get rid of it himself but it's easier for me to do it."

"Ghost?" Namjoon almost seems...wary of this information. He shuts the book and places it down on the floor. A cloud of dust kicks up around where he's put it. He pulls the blanket around his shoulders tighter until he's swamped by it and looks rather small despite his height.

Yoongi snorts. "You're scared of ghosts?" He pulls on gloves and tosses mandrake root into the bowl. Namjoon's expression is defensive now, lips pulled down into a frown. Yoongi can't help but laugh at the sight of him, curled up and looking quite tiny in relation to the lumpiness of the couch cushions. "Come on. That's pretty ridiculous, all things considered."

"No it's not," Namjoon retorts. "This is my first host. How am I supposed to know the ghost isn't stronger than me?"

Yoongi grins, just a little and angled so Namjoon can't see it. He takes the gloves off, sets them down on the counter and walks over to where Namjoon is curled, then perches beside him so his legs are tucked up. They're facing each other now, the rain-tainted light falling over the scene so it's easy and soft. The apartment smells like mould, sure, but the stench of earth curls through the window, which is ajar. If there's one thing Yoongi loves about the area, it's the trees crammed into the gaps between houses, the gardens covering every spare inch of land. The honeysuckle plant from the floor below stretches up to the window.

"If you hadn't noticed already, there's much worse on this side of town," Yoongi says. He reaches out to take Namjoon's hand because he still looks like Minjun and it's habitual. As soon as he realises what he was doing, he pulls back, allowing his hands to drop into his lap once more.

Namjoon holds his gaze without blinking. "Worse than the ghost?"

"Yes. And has any of it killed you yet?"

"Well...I suppose not-"

"Exactly," he says. He adjusts himself to sit on his ass when his knees begin to complain. He reaches out for Namjoon's hands again, this time actually takes them because he looks scared and Yoongi can't help the spiked ball of protectiveness welling up in his chest. "Considering I'm, you know, an exorcist, maybe you should be scared of me instead."

Namjoon shuffles uncomfortably, his nose wrinkling with distaste. His hair looks weirdly grey from the dust that's accumulated in it during the night. "But you're just a human."

"Wow," he says. He's not sure if it's supposed to be an insult or not. Either way, Namjoon is smiling at him and he's reminded why he was attracted to Minjun in the first place because he has dimples and his eyes close and it's kind of adorable. But this isn't Minjun -- Yoongi can tell because Namjoon smiles just a little wider, squeezes his hands so he can feel his skin is warmer. His breath becomes suspiciously stuck in his throat.

"Can I come with you?" Namjoon pipes up, eyes big like he thinks he's going to be met with any resistance.

Yoongi almost laughs. "Yeah. Not like I can leave a demon alone in my apartment anyway."

 

 

 

 

 

Jimin's house sits on the hill at the edge of the pocket, all surrounded by tiny apple trees and the grotty walls draped with wisteria. The wind moans as it blows through the small gaps in the houses, leaving Yoongi covered in goosebumps as a result of the thin hoodie he's wearing. Namjoon is dressed decently, Minjun's coat wrapped around his shoulders and zipped down to his knees.

It's amazing Jimin's got a house in the first place, really -- Yoongi can barely afford the apartment he's holed up in. Here Jimin is, with a real house which has two floors, functioning plumbing and a garden full of herbs with magical properties. And the cute guy living next door, although Yoongi has yet to actually see him.

Anyway, Namjoon tenses when the sound of glass shattering rings out and onto the street. Then, a series of giggles follows it, streaming out of the open window. Yoongi puts his umbrella down, allowing himself to fall under the force of the rain before he traipses through the garden and up to the house.

He winces when he puts his foot down in what looks like a pink onion plant. A scarab beetle clings to his shoe when he proceeds, before disappearing into the hedgerows.

Before Yoongi can lift his fist to knock on the tall door, it swings open, and with it comes a blast of dusty air. He senses Namjoon recoil a little because the entryway is tiled with geometric snakes that twist and turn and snap at feet as they pass over it. The tiles rearrange themselves into a neutral checkerboard pattern when Yoongi glares down at the vines.

Jimin stands behind the door, nails tapping on the wood where his hands are wrapped around the edge. A pair of big, circular glasses perch on the end of his nose, to the point where Yoongi has to wonder if he's perhaps using magic to keep them in place. And his hair is bleached and wispy, falling over to obscure his forehead so he looks sleepy, dishevelled, and Yoongi thinks it's a little early for witching hour, after all.

"Thank you for coming," Jimin says, smiling as his gaze slips over to Namjoon. "Hi Minjun."

"Ah-" Namjoon begins to say, fingers twisting together as he fidgets.

Yoongi coughs into his fist. "So where's the ghost?" He hurries on, smiling so Jimin won't notice the way he steps in front of Namjoon, subtly shielding the way his face has more light to it than Minjun's ever did.

"Oh. It's in the attic. And sorry about the baking smell, I’m expecting a guest in just a bit."

He nods in understanding and allows himself to be guided into the rest of the house.

Jimin's house is dusty like Yoongi's, cobwebs draping over the corners and behind the heaters just like his own apartment. However, he keeps the kitchen clean, full of bursting fruit and pastries and icing sugar dusting the floor. The food doesn't rot here like it would if Yoongi were living in the house, but stays ripe and sweet for longer than is natural. Yoongi knows the thin coating of dust covering the rest of the house is more due to Jimin's forgetfulness -- more than once he's seen him jab a broom at the ceilings half heartedly before going back to his spellbooks, suitably distracted.

Jimin is humming under his breath, which soon becomes lost to the noisy creaking of the stairs. The wind sways the house, and Namjoon takes Yoongi's hand when they begin to climb to the attic. He turns and raises an eyebrow at him, to which Namjoon mouths, 'like Minjun,' and oh. Yoongi forgets they have to play up the boyfriend facade. Something about the way Namjoon grips his hand like a lifeline suggests he's scared of the ghost in the attic, though, which makes a smile break across Yoongi's cheeks.

The pipes thrum, the wind smacks against the window and it all feels very comfortable in this house at the edge of the city. Trees line the back of Jimin's garden, bent over the house like guardians.

Now Jimin pulls a retractable ladder down from the hatch at the top of the stairs, hands glowing with something magic, although Yoongi isn't sure what it's for. Whilst he can see these sorts of things, it doesn't mean he can use it. He's okay with his senses, his books and his basic remedies to removing the dead. What Jimin has is different, more raw energy and runes. He watches as Jimin finishes extending the ladder and lights a few candles somewhere within the attic. There are strips of fluorescent lighting up here, but they buzz annoyingly and he knows it puts Yoongi off his work.

The step ladder creaks to the point where Yoongi's worried it'll break, but he makes it through the hatch just fine.

And stops.

Namjoon faceplants into the back of his thighs, but Yoongi's jaw has unhinged itself because Jimin really wasn't kidding about the ghost.

She sits in the far corner, knees bunched up to her chin and tears slipping down her cheeks. There are no whites in her eyes, just black masses that leer even in the darkness of the candlelight. And she's just sitting there, sort of vacantly watching as Jimin sits across from her and sighs like she's the most troublesome entity in the world. Like he hasn't summoned an actual, real ghost and trapped her in his attic.

There is a book on the floor in front of her bare feet, held open by paperweights with legs that get up, turn the pages and rearrange themselves periodically. It seems kind of useful -- he'll ask Jimin to enchant some for him. It would be even better if they can hold the book above his head when he's in bed.

"I had to give her something to do," Jimin says as an explanation. "Imagine being stuck in a stranger's house with nothing."

"Yeah, I get it," he says, reaching into his bag for the remedies he's brought. She seems to know what he's doing, because she withdraws further into the corner when he takes out a corked jar. The paper rustles as the paperweights turn the page and the ghost watches them in disinterest.

Yoongi is halfway through his setup when someone rings the doorbell, sending a cascade of chirpy bell music to echo through the house.

"Shit, I should probably get that. I did mention I was expecting someone, right?" Jimin says, already standing like he's about to abandon them. His eyes are lit up for some reason unbeknownst to Yoongi, little hearts swelling and bursting within his pupils. He acts jittery, too, and it’s only now Yoongi notices he’s dressed in slightly better clothes than usual, a peach half-apron still hugging his hips nonetheless. Jimin seems to realise this, and reaches down to pull the apron off so he’s left in leggings which look far too cold for autumn.

“Uhuh,” he comments, already focused on ordering his scrawled sheets of latin and formula.

Jimin beams at the two of them and skips over to the hatch, proving once again he’s going to be no use in the solution to the problem he caused in the first place.

Yoongi just rolls his eyes, then watches him descend back down the ladder and out of sight, so it's just him, Namjoon, and the ghost. He exchanges a look with the former, fingers flipping through his notebook until he reaches the section he's dedicated to ghosts. They're fairly straightforward to get rid of, only because they're fickle and easy to summon in the first place. He hasn't mentioned this particular detail to Jimin, of course, who would surely be offended.

So he sets about scattering the remedy and chanting in a language he's never actually learnt -- although he thinks it must be something close to Latin, at least. The ghost only stares blankly at him as he paces back and forth, page dimly lit by the candles where it's held up in front of his face.

"I don't think it's working," Namjoon says after a few moments, a fearful tinge to his voice which Yoongi pretends not to notice. He says it after Yoongi has gone through a few loops of the recitation, and in fairness, the ghost has only shown mild discomfort so far.

Yoongi drops the agrimony a little closer to where she's sitting. "It takes time. Why are you so impatient, hmm?" He turns to look at Namjoon, and sure enough, he's wrapped his arms around his own chest.

"I- I'm not." Namjoon says. Yoongi hides a smile and breathes out through his nose sharply.

He turns back to the ghost to find her convulsing slightly, scrambling backwards as she tries to escape the remedies Yoongi is scattering over the floor. It hurts his heart a little, to know he's the one doing this to her. He supposes that makes him a bad exorcist, really. And maybe that's the real reason he doesn't want to exorcise Namjoon. Maybe.

There's a wailing sound as the ghost rises up, her form pressing against the ceiling as she glares down at him with renewed anger. Namjoon screams, before clamping a hand over his mouth to stifle it. Yoongi, again, finds himself resisting the urge to laugh, but he succeeds and continues the exorcism.

It becomes a little pear-shaped when the ghost screams and collapses to the floor, crawling erratically towards the hatch out of the attic. Realistically, Yoongi knows that means she's weakened, if she has to use the hatch, but he still jumps back as though he's been burned. "Shit shit shit," he grumbles, frantically trying to swing his legs out and onto the ladder, even as all his joints protest in uncanny synchronisation.

Namjoon follows him, eyes darting everywhere as he watches the ghost float down the hall. He chokes on his breath a little so he produces strangled noises instead of words. For a demon, Namjoon really scares easily.

He follows the ghost slowly, watching as she begins to fade ever so slightly around the edges. Her form flickers as she continues to wail, fingers pushing into her eye sockets like she's trying to resist expulsion.

Now she goes into Jimin's kitchen, head bumping against the top of the doorway as if she's on the same plane of existence as the rest of them. There's an overpowering smell of cinnamon emanating from the kitchen, as though Jimin's left something in the oven.

Speaking of Jimin, Yoongi isn't entirely sure where exactly he's gone. The kitchen is too far into the house for him to glimpse whether or not the front door propped open, but he decides he should probably be worrying about the ghost and not Jimin's whereabouts.

So he crosses into the kitchen, tugging a very frightened Namjoon along with him, and tosses salt from the pouch on his belt over the threshold in order to seal the ghost inside. She's banging against the pots and pans suspended from the cooking rack and staring down at her left foot, which is slowly beginning to disappear like it's eroding in the rain. Yoongi just continues to read from his notes as Namjoon props himself against Jimin's spotless counters. It's sort of amusing how his face is drained of blood.

As it turns out, Yoongi only needs to chant twice more before the ghost takes the hint and leaves.

She gapes at him, soulless eyes wide and full of betrayal like he's supposed to empathise with her. Now her other foot is pretty much gone, so she's flailing about as a head and a torso. He hears Namjoon giggle as he watches the display. And if Yoongi thinks it's cute that this is what it takes to ease his nerves, he doesn't say anything.

Less pleasantly, the torso-head combo erupts outwards in a burst of sticky blue substance which smells something like the carrion flowers Yoongi grew experimentally for a few days several years ago. That is to say -- it's not good. He wrinkles his nose immediately, holding his arms out to see the blue-black coating his clothes and embedded under his nails. It's also all over Jimin's floor, but he knows the witch is probably adept enough at cleaning magic to at least attempt to clear the mess.

And of course, Jimin chooses this stellar moment to reappear and stick his head through the door.

"What the shit is that smell- oh god."

His face jitters through an impressive array of expressions before it settles on disgust. He takes in the mess they've made of his kitchen, eyes sweeping over the counters, cupboards and all the trimmings with a look of resignation. "Did it get in the oven? Oh god, please tell me it didn't get in the damn oven," he manages to say, lips pulled down into a pout.

Yoongi complies and pulls the oven door open to a blast of warmth which settles over the gauntness of his cheeks. Unfortunately, what Yoongi thinks is a cake tin is completely masked by the blue substance, and he cringes because it really did get everywhere .

"Sorry?"

"It's okay. At least the ghost is gone," and now Jimin is smiling instead, although still remaining firmly outside the room.

There's a movement behind Jimin, which immediately makes Yoongi raise his guard, but it just appears to be a tall boy with golden hair and eyes which have widened to the size of saucers. Or the Copenhagen roundtower, whichever is closer.

Yoongi raises an eyebrow. "Oh?"

Jimin chokes when he realises Yoongi has seen the boy, and immediately steps in front of him. "Just my neighbour!" He glares at Yoongi and mouths something which looks like non magic. Now he turns back to the tall guy. "I- hah, I would offer you my cake but it...it burned. In the oven."

"I didn't expect-"

Jimin cuts him off with some more babbling, tripping over his words as he pushes the guy towards the front of the house so he doesn't look too closely at the kitchen. It's strange, ordinary people living in this odd area, but Yoongi figures the rent is cheaper here, where people go missing for months on end and the forest makes strange noises at night.

Anyway, Jimin is frantically gesturing at the back door, which leads out into his garden. Yoongi takes it as a cue to push himself into a standing position, and cringes at the feeling of the substance rolling down the back of his neck. Namjoon does the same, stretching Minjun's face into unadulterated distaste, and Yoongi really doesn't blame him.

The relief he gets from opening the door is immense, the fresh air rolling over them and clearing their nostrils of the rotting flesh smell.

"Fuck," is all Namjoon says once they're a safe distance from the house, Jimin, and his cute neighbour.

"Indeed," Yoongi agrees.

 

 

 

 

Once they've hurried through the autumn cold and stumbled over the threshold, Yoongi immediately peels his clothes from his skin and throws them in the washing machine. He has no idea whether or not the pipes are going to clog, but he figures it's worth a shot. He grabs a towel from the hamper and sets the shower on the highest heat it will go, soap frothing up in his hands as he tips well in excess of what he needs over his skin.

Namjoon wanders in whilst he's showering, wearing some shorts and nothing else. They seem too small, judging by the way they have to stretch over his thighs. Yoongi almost chokes, but he manages to relax because Namjoon looks exactly like Minjun right now, and they've done worse in the past. Still, he's grateful for the condensation on the shower screen and the steam which hides his nakedness at least a little.

Namjoon is sort of prodding at his face in the mirror like it's the first time he's seen it. He runs his fingertips over his lips and nose, and Yoongi watches him in curiosity for a moment. At least until a helping of soap runs into his eye and stains it a painful red.

When he's finished scooping water into his eye, he quietly says, "like what you see?"

"I think so," Namjoon replies. He's pulling faces at himself in the mirror, testing this muscle or that muscle, and giggling when he manages to make himself look particularly stupid. "Don't humans choose partners somewhat based on physical attraction?"

Oh. Yoongi knows where this is going. "What? No...I mean, I guess some people might."

Namjoon has turned around to smile at him gently through the shower glass. He doesn't seem as bratty as Jeongguk would be in this situation, Yoongi's university friend. Instead he seems sort of contemplative, and there's nothing nasty about his tone. He just sounds calm, which juxtaposes the mini crisis Yoongi is currently undergoing, his head noisy as the gears click clack away. Perhaps because Minjun happens to be very physically attractive, and what he lacks in personality, Namjoon seems to make up for. It's not really fair, for him to fill in the gaps like this.

They stare at each other through the marred glass for a second longer before Yoongi clears his throat to banish the building silence. "You know, it's not really in societal convention to stare at people when they're showering."

"Isn't it?" Namjoon seems genuinely surprised, if the way his eyebrows raise is any indication. He leans away from the counter and begins to shuffle from the bathroom. "I see. Perhaps I'll see you in just a bit then," his sentence tilts up at the end like it's a cautious question.

"Well...you kinda smell. I mean, not you. The ghost smells. You have to shower."

Namjoon stops and looks back at him incredulously. "With you?"

"No...well, do you know how to do it by yourself?" He's very conscious of the way blood is starting to burst across his cheeks like bruising. The ends of his hair drip into his eyes, still stinging from the shampoo catastrophe.

"I don't."

Yoongi swallows his pride and slides the shower screen open. He tries to remind himself Namjoon is just a demon, and it doesn't matter because he doesn't look at humans like another person would. Just a demon. Whom he should probably get around to exorcising, in all honesty.

Namjoon doesn't hesitate before he crams himself into the shower with Yoongi, shorts still clinging to his ass to the point it's distracting. Except Yoongi has seen Minjun's ass many a time and this is really all irrational. But he coughs, points at the shorts and mumbles, "you have to take those off."

"Thank you," Namjoon slides them off and remains blissfully unaware of how much Yoongi is overheating right now. He tries to look anywhere else that's not Namjoon, but it's difficult because he also wants to ignore the big spider which is flailing its spindly legs in the top corner of the cubicle. So he looks directly at Namjoon's chest, which just makes his breath catch in his throat where it's most prickly all over again.

Now they're just stood there, and Yoongi's forced to look straight ahead at Namjoon's collarbones, which are dripping with water, and it makes everything sort of difficult. He grabs the soap, and he doesn't know whether he's itching to massage it into Namjoon's skin, or if he'd rather avoid that task like the plague. "I..um. Do you want to do this?" He offers the soap bottle out -- it's glass and doesn't have any labelling because Jimin made it for him last week.

"But this is my first vessel. I'm not sure I know how." There's a light in Namjoon's eyes, more of a glint really, that looks like it's bouncing off a knife edge. He definitely knows, and now he's making it his duty to fuck with Yoongi, it seems. At least he's finally showing signs of his demonic nature.

Yoongi swallows the lump in his throat and refuses to back down.

He upends the bottle and squeezes it so he has excess soap in his hands, and it swirls and glows with strange ultraviolet. He’ll remember to ask Jimin what he added to it next time he’s not preoccupied with Mr Cute Neighbour. While Yoongi can make his remedies for assorted supernatural nuisances, as he likes to call them, Jimin can use magic ingredients because he’s a kitchen witch and he’s good at things like that. Overall, Yoongi is probably one of the more unremarkable types in the area -- he’s human, and even though he has some abilities himself, they’re nothing like magic. Real magic, like he thought only existed in fairy tales.

Anyway, he snaps back to reality with a handful of soap and a gleeful looking Namjoon staring down at him. Then, with intense caution, he lifts his palms and presses them to Namjoon’s shoulders. When his skin doesn’t immediately burn Yoongi, he rubs in small circles over Namjoon’s back, over his neck, and what he can reach of his arms. He’s pretty sure his face has turned a ridiculous shade of red, and the steam rising around them definitely isn’t helping -- it feels too much like a shroud of intimacy.

Then he digs his fingers into where there's a hard knot of muscle, bunched up in the middle of Namjoon's back. He moans softly, causing Yoongi's ears to flare bright red also, although the satisfied little noises he's making would be much worse if there weren't dulled by the gentle lull of the shower. Miraculously, it's maintaining a consistent temperature for once, if teetering on the brink of becoming too-hot. Although everything feels stifling at the moment, and Namjoon's skin burns under his palms and fingers as he works.

"I really think you could have figured this out," Yoongi says. He pushes Namjoon under the spray so the soap suds can roll off him. He shivers at the lack of warmth and fights the urge to cram back in under the water because that would press all of his naked skin up against Namjoon.

Namjoon shrugs. "Maybe. And can you go back here?" He points at the knotted muscles over his back. "I didn't know being human was so painful."

Yoongi grits his teeth. "It's probably just because you were sleeping on the shitty couch," he says. Namjoon is smirking at him because he knows exactly what he's doing, even if he's pretty inexperienced, as demons go. "No. Absolutely not."

"But Yoongi. Your bed's big enough for two people, isn't it? Not like you haven't slept in it with Minjun before anyway..."

Yoongi sighs in exasperation. "Fine. But I'm going to sleep on the couch."

"No, that won't do. Your back is gonna hurt if you do that."

He stares up at Namjoon, who still has a ridiculous grin across his face, dimples popping out like they're intent on ruining Yoongi's life. They keep this up for a few moments, to the point where Yoongi's just looking into Namjoon's eyes and he forgets he's holding the shampoo bottle. He coughs and sets it down on the cracked floor of the shower cubicle. A bug runs away from the movement and skitters its way into the corner, where the sealant is peeling. Yoongi doesn't want to think about what else is behind there.

"Okay," he sighs after a small while. "But if you steal the blankets I'll kick your ass."

And this is how Yoongi and Namjoon end up sharing the bed, shuffling uncomfortably on creaky springs as they hold their bodies awkwardly so as not to touch each other. The consistency of his breathing is pleasant, although Yoongi will never admit this particular fact. It softens the eerie noises the trees make, the screaming of the alley cats as they tussle in the street.

When morning comes, Yoongi gets out of bed and doesn't comment on the way their limbs have become entangled during the night. Namjoon doesn't need to know.

So he does what he always does when he's in the middle of a crisis, and puts on his coat to brave the outside.

 

 

 

 

Yoongi finds himself in the graveyard a lot that week.

He’s sitting with his legs crossed, back pressed uncomfortably against the aged elm tree. A book rests in his open palms, although the pages frequently flick past with the force of the howling wind. He often comes here when he needs somewhere quiet to think, just him and the shadowy people walking between the headstones.

Today, and all of the days this past week now he thinks about it, he’s thinking about Namjoon. The wind turns the pages but he doesn’t move to fix it, casting his eyes down at the diagrams on the page and observing the way the air makes them move around like stop motion. The air is stiff with the dead, dusty and invasive as he fights back what must be the third or fourth time he's sneezed in the last ten minutes.

He shuts his book when the pages flick over a few times too many. It's heavy in his hands, the silver of his rings casting tiny moonbeams on the leather binding of the cover, which cracks every time he breathes too suddenly. He pulls out his cigarettes, sticking one between his lips and pressing his good-luck lighter to the end of it. The smoke delicately surrounds him, and it's terribly reminiscent of that time he and Namjoon were crammed into the tiny shower together. He thinks he can still smell the Oudh Namjoon uses on his skin. It's rich and intoxicating.

See, he still can't decide whether or not he's going to exorcise Namjoon, even after countless hours of deliberation.

He thought he was definitely going to at one point, just a couple of decisions away from reaching into his demon-hunter drawer and pulling out the crucibles, the remedies, the hastily scrawled latin. And then he'll have his boyfriend back.

The only problem is this: Yoongi isn't really sure whether he wants to have Minjun back in Namjoon's place.

He's been mulling it over for some time, and sure, if Namjoon had been less amicable, more evil, perhaps he would have done it by now. But Namjoon wraps his arms around him when he sleeps and showers with Yoongi because he's convinced he still doesn't know how to do it properly. He's scared of ghosts and dances with Yoongi when there's blues on the radio because that's his favourite.

Here is Yoongi's answer. He could definitely exorcise Namjoon, in theory, but he just doesn't want to. In fact, he thinks he might be falling for him a little. Minjun is physically attractive, but Namjoon takes the shell and brings it to life. His eyes sparkle and his dimples are more frequent now. It leaves Yoongi breathless and replaces his thoughts with saccharine incense.

He takes a slow drag from his cigarette and narrows his eyes at the familiar figure vaulting over the cemetery wall.

"Someone's lonely," Namjoon says, hands tucked deep into Minjun's coat pockets. He seems all too pleased with himself considering he nearly faceplanted on a weathered gravestone about four seconds ago. The autumn cold has tinted the tip of his nose cherry red, and Yoongi realises he sort of wants to kiss it. "What're you reading about?" He walks the last few metres and sits down next to Yoongi in an ungraceful manner, considering he's a demon and all. He doesn't remember Minjun being this clumsy, but perhaps Namjoon's unfamiliarity with his vessel is the problem.

"Vampires," he replied, somehow finding the book has miraculously reopened and buried his face inside it. Useful for disguising his red, red cheeks.

"There are vampires in Korea?" The way Namjoon sounds so genuinely terrified makes Yoongi want to laugh, and perhaps kiss him right on the mouth. But he doesn't, because that's surely too bold and Namjoon might not even know what romance is.

"No. In Romania."

Namjoon visibly relaxes. "That's alright then. Are you planning a trip or something?"

"No," Yoongi says, picking at a mark on the page. It's probably just ash from his cigarette, which is right at the back of his mind. He takes a drag and blows smoke at Namjoon as though he's a child, then goes back to acting disinterested.

Namjoon, as he's learnt, is very persistent, because he hooks his chin over Yoongi's shoulder and wraps his arms around his waist like it's nothing out of the ordinary. "Then why are you reading about them, hmmm?" His voice is too close to Yoongi's ear and it causes tiny bumps to erupt along his arms. With every second Namjoon remains pressed against his back, his face becomes just a few shades redder. Namjoon still smells like the Oudh oil, but there's a pretty undertone of orange and pine too which he hasn't noticed before. Yoongi is hyper aware of everything now.

"B-because it's interesting. And this is literally my job." Namjoon has started to press his cheek against Yoongi's and he's pretty sure he's about to pass out because of how the fast oxygen is pushed out of his lungs. He feels the dust coating his throat and wheezes before stubbing his cigarette out in the dirt.

"Aw. You didn't even offer it to me."

"Sorry," Yoongi says, and sure enough, he can feel Namjoon smiling as he reaches for another. When he's got the second cigarette clasped between his lips, Namjoon slides the lighter from his inner pocket and lights the end. Then he puts it back so his hand is inside Yoongi's coat and it's really an awful lot to think about. His skin is warm through Yoongi's shirt so he finds himself subconsciously pressing himself closer.

It begins to rain, slowly at first. Just enough so they're not sure if it's raining at all, just the faint needle prick of ice against their exposed skin. He leans back closer to Namjoon and shivers. When he's satisfied, he takes the cigarette from his mouth and puts it between Namjoon's lips instead, blushing when he realises it's an indirect kiss.

They stare at each other for a few moments while the rain picks up, until they can't deny a storm is brewing and the sky has gone from overcast to deep grey. And by the time they've cumulatively finished the cigarette, the rain is cold against Yoongi's scalp and it rolls to the apex of his chin. Namjoon's thumb swipes over the droplet to clear it, and it seems intimate so Yoongi avoids eye contact.

"If we don't get back you'll whine about your clothes being damp," Namjoon mutters, his expression completely sincere in that way he looks sometimes, when his eyes are wide and searching and his lips aren't pulled up into a playful smile. Like he's really worrying about Yoongi right now.

He stretches out his legs to listen to the creaking of his bones, as it always gets worse when it's raining.

"Alright," he says, his mind already set on the two of them pushed up together in the shower and then bundled in blankets as they watch even more films about exorcisms -- they're Namjoon's favourites. "But we should dance first."

"Dance?" Namjoon asks, finding himself being pulled into Yoongi's arms.

The wind blows around them, so it's raining sideways and Yoongi can't see more than a few feet in front of his face. The elm trees are eerie in these conditions, their wise branches bending under the weight of the elements. "Yeah. Haven't you ever danced in the rain?"

"No, obviously not."

"I'll show you how," Yoongi says, before holding Namjoon close and allowing the rain to push and pull them as it pleases. He hasn't been to the seaside often, but Yoongi imagines this might be what sitting in the tide is like, lazy but commanding.

As they laugh and dance in the rain, everything falls into place, and he realises he can't possibly exorcise Namjoon. Maybe he'll feel bad about it later, but for now he allows the warmth to spread between them both and his heart to bubble like he's young and stupid-in-love.

 

 

 

 

 

Namjoon gets his first hangover when the trees are bright orange and still hold fiery signs of life. He berates Yoongi to death about it because he doesn't understand why his head hurts and why his stomach feels funny- oh.

Yoongi rubs his back once he's finished throwing up in the toilet and wonders if perhaps this was a bad idea. After all, Namjoon likely doesn't remember a single thing about the night before. Especially not when they kissed, just for an instant.

His memory of last night is a little fuzzy, of course, but Minjun's alcohol tolerance has always been abysmal and he doesn't know why he thought Namjoon would be any different. Namjoon's off again now, watery coughing because there are tears streaming down his cheeks and he looks ever so miserable. Yoongi presses his lips to the space between his shoulder blades against his better judgement, before shakily standing up to fetch a homemade hangover cure from his cupboard. It's not as effective as Jimin's because he can't use magical ingredients but it's all he's got and he doesn't want to watch Namjoon cry for too much longer.

He can't quite reach the top cupboard, and has to stand on his toes and stretch as much as he can to reach the medicine. It's so, so close to his fingertips, just a little more and he'll reach it. Yoongi huffs in frustration when he realises the bottle is just a few centimetres too far for him to retrieve.

He shuffles over to his expansive bookshelf, where he pulls out a couple of books on magical fungi and stacks them on the floor under the cabinet.

And it's all going so well as he stretches that little bit more, reaching up for the medicine vial and willing it into his hands because Namjoon is dry heaving now and it sounds like his soul might be coming out of his lungs. Yoongi turns, stretches a little to see the black-blue substance pouring out of his mouth, just the same as the ghost in Jimin's attic.

He startles, swipes wildly at the cupboard, and then he's falling into a black hole edged with shattered glass and the smell of herbs.

 

Last night. This is where Yoongi's thoughts decide to lead him, as though he's driving down a twisting lane in the dark and everything's the unknown except the narrow beam of his headlights.

Yoongi's reaching into the cabinet, pouring soju because Namjoon wants to try it and everything seems like a fucking splendid idea when you're giddy with the feel of falling. The square glasses are oddly warm, vibrating with the pressure of evil particles in the air and fracturing under dark matter. So it's heady, to say the least.

And they're smoking at the same time, even though it's going to stain the ceiling eventually and piss off all their neighbours. Yoongi watches as Namjoon giggles and nearly misses his mouth with the cigarette. There's lip gloss smudged on it, faint shimmery pink because Namjoon found out what a convenience store is and Yoongi enables him too much for his own good.

Somehow it's back in his lips now, still tastes like strawberry and soju but Yoongi loves it.

The radio garbles something vintage, garbled with interference to the point Yoongi can't really tell what it is anymore. And it's in english, which doesn't help. He thinks he catches some words about love and glamour but he can't really be sure. Namjoon seems to know what he's doing -- mouthing the words when he's not smoking or drinking or both. Yoongi giggles and stares up at him because the alcohol makes it easier.

"Namjoon?" He says, whispers it quietly because this moment feels sacred.

Namjoon tips his head back against the couch and hums to show he's listening. Somehow his hand is in Yoongi's, the stark contrast between their skin tones making his cheeks feel all warm and his chest bubbly. Chest hiccups. "I decided something recently."

"And what's that?" Namjoon looks nice like this, lamplight tainted by dust and cobwebs, the streetlights filtering in through the window just to make him seem softer.

"I'm keeping you," he says, eyes welling up slightly. The room is so quiet, just the faint pinging of the bulbs and the plumbing creaking overhead. The boiler is making a weird noise but Yoongi'll fix it when he's sober.

"Aww, baby. That's nice," and Yoongi can see Namjoon is being a little sarcastic, but it isn't fair because he really means it.

He tells Namjoon so. "I could have exorcised you a long time ago, but I'm not going to because I think I like you more than I liked Minjun."

Namjoon is looking at him with a strange softness to his eyes. It doesn't start making sense, even when he lifts his hands up to cup Yoongi's cheeks and rubs his thumb across Yoongi's jawline. Gently, like he's afraid Yoongi's human bones will shatter. It's a bit late for that because his heart is melting a little.

When he was young, his mother told him demons were bad. He'd check under his bed every night because he was absolutely certain he'd see teeth and glowing yellow eyes, perhaps a few corpses to match. When the lights were off, Yoongi saw shadows and silhouettes where there was nothing, he knew that really. He grew older and realised perhaps there was something there after all, but it would've been a lost soul, not a demon. He remembers one night when there was scratching on the inside of his closet and thought for sure it was a demon. He opened the door and a lone spider glittered in the dark.

Now Yoongi is confused because Namjoon doesn’t have slits for pupils or horns or really anything scary about his appearance. He knows he was wrong to be afraid of demons when they smile at him with soft eyes and dimples and rounded teeth on show. Or perhaps it's all the more reason to turn and run as fast as he can in the other direction, Yoongi's not quite sure.

Anyway, Namjoon smells so much better when he's this close, arms holding Yoongi close like he'll never let him go. His lips taste like strawberry lip gloss when they meet, edged with soju and cigarette smoke. He smells like mandarin and woodsmoke today, and he would describe what Namjoon looks like when he kisses, but his eyes have slipped shut and all he can see are dark galaxies projected onto his eyelids. Galaxies where Namjoon is important, where he can't possibly get rid of him and return to his old life.

Yoongi tries to forget about it, squeezes them shut hard, and kisses Namjoon like he's his oxygen.

 

He regains consciousness and he's strangely comfortable, considering he's passed out on the floor. Last time he checked, his kitchen was tiled, so he doesn't know why it suddenly seems springy. Maybe he's hit his head and his brain has gone loopy, Yoongi thinks absently. His fingers sting as though he's sliced them with glass shards, which he probably has.

Then he opens his eyes and sees that he isn't on his kitchen floor at all. Namjoon is sat at the end of his bed, still pale, but now wearing a loose shirt of Yoongi's and with his head cupped in his palms.

"Whu- what happened?" Yoongi's voice comes out as more of a croak. It feels like he's tried to deepthroat a chunk of wood and it's left splinters in his throat and sawdust in his mouth. His mouth tastes metallic so he wonders if he's been sucking on his cuts or something. His teeth ache as if they're about to drop out like pearls.

"You fell. Broke the glass," Namjoon says, then scoots over so his fingers are messing with the ends of Yoongi's hair. He smiles down at him a little sadly. "I'm feeling better now. I think we shouldn't drink for a while."

Yoongi laughs and regrets it immediately because it makes his head ring. "No drinking. How long was I out?"

"Not so long." Namjoon's still smiling down at his hands like he's holding the world. He pushes Yoongi's overgrown hair behind his ear, so gentle it makes him want to shed a couple of tears. Namjoon reaches down to play with the rings in Yoongi's ear, tongue poking out in concentration because too much force would end in more blood and his ear torn in half.

"Do you...do you remember last night?"

"Uhuh." Namjoon hums under his breath, and Yoongi recognises it as the english song playing when they kissed. Namjoon only gives occasional reminders he's a demon, and the way he knew the whole song is certainly one of them. "When we kissed. You can say it."

Now Yoongi feels like he's the one who needs to throw up. His stomach turns uncomfortably with excess alcohol and the moths clamouring over each other to fly up into his throat and make him nervous all over again. Namjoon doesn't seem annoyed, if the way he continues to play with Yoongi's hair is anything to go by. "Right," he says intelligently. Swallows past the lump in his throat. He almost wishes he had Minjun back -- at least he was less intimidating and nothing felt so special.

"Yoongi," Namjoon starts, noticing him begin to panic. Yoongi thinks his eyes must be hazy or something, glittering with tears because the cuts in his hands are painful and he can still feel glass tearing through skin.

"Muh- my head hurts," he mumbles. He's not lying -- it really does feel like he's got something caged in his skull, beating and thrumming against bone in the most unpleasant manner. It's worse than a headache because his thoughts are so noisy and so sickly sweet it's tiring to sort them. "Wanna sleep now."

Namjoon's mouth is twisted like he's fighting the urge to say something. He doesn't leave, just remains seated next to Yoongi's head and sifts his fingers through his hair. It helps dull the throbbing a little, so he feels gratitude seep through him. "Talk later," Namjoon says, and it rings clear like a promise.

Yoongi agrees even though he doesn't think about it coherently and the walls have started to melt in towering pillars of dust. He can hear a piano playing somewhere in the town, just soft and crackly enough that it's most likely coming through a speaker. Namjoon looks so nice like this, when he's holding Yoongi's head in his hands and his face is lit by the late morning. Yoongi keeps searching for something that'll change his mind, perhaps a hint of malice or if his irises flicker yellow.

But there's nothing, and he feels himself slip further into the hole.

 

 

 

 

Yoongi watches Namjoon with intent these days, biting his nails as he watches him work in the kitchen. Although Yoongi can concoct his remedies and medicines just fine, he struggles a little with cooking. Don't get him wrong, Namjoon is much, much worse, but they've made a system wherein they take it in turns to suffer.

So he's watching as Namjoon struggles to cut herbs, his knife sliding all over the board even though he's taking an excruciating amount of time to position it right. The apartment is just as quiet as it always is, only the blowing of the wind and the thunk-thunk-thunk of the knife as Namjoon chops potatoes, which he says are much easier. And Yoongi is bundled up in a thick blanket, the kind of thing he probably got from his grandma a decade or two ago. The autumn has really set in now and it tastes suspiciously like winter. He's always cold this time of year because the boiler is faulty and makes clunky noises in the night.

Namjoon has to hold onto him tight during the night because his body temperature is so high it should be considered a sin.

Anyway, he's watching Namjoon a lot because Yoongi's heart hurts and he misses the feeling of having someone to hold. The night they kissed still haunts him, although he makes every effort to avoid it in conversation and becomes skittish if it seems as though the topic will arise. It's taking every ounce of his willpower to not get up and pull Namjoon down into his little blanket haven.

Jimin had shrieked about it on the phone earlier when he finally told him what had happened.

"I know it's crazy to believe he's a demon and all.." Yoongi had his legs tucked under him and his feet were absolutely freezing. Namjoon likes to walk around at night so he'd taken the opportunity to call the kitchen witch and unload his emotional baggage onto him.

"No hyung, you don't understand, " Jimin said with glee. "This is possibly the best news you've ever told me. It's so good you've got rid of Minjun!"

"Hey!" Yoongi's eyes prickled for some reason. Was his taste in men really that poor? "Minjun was...fine."

He could practically feel Jimin roll his eyes down the phone. "But that was it, wasn't it? He was just fine, and you obviously deserved a little more than a wet rag. Shit, Minjun was non magic too. I really don't know how you put up with him for so long."

"No magic hasn't put you off," he remarked, twisting the phone cord around his fingers while Jimin stuttered and tried to make up excuses.

"Taetae's different, you should see how interested he is in my recipes..."

Yoongi had settled back and prepared himself for a few minutes or fifty of Jimin gushing about Mr Cute Neighbour.

Namjoon is struggling to balance the pot of stew and the ingredients which still need to be cut. He can't move fast enough between the two, muttering soft curses when the stew starts to bubble over and smoke. Yoongi would be worried about the smoke alarm going off if it weren't broken with its batteries taken out.

His joints click when he stands up, keeping the blanket securely fastened around his shoulders with one knotted fist holding the front of it together. He has thick socks on as he quickly tired of freezing toes and dirty soles. So he shuffles over to the kitchen like this, hair sticking up in every direction and his eyes still squinting because it's much brighter in here. Namjoon smiles at him when he walks in and he swears he feels his chest dissolve and drip through the gaps in his ribcage, down and down like he's standing on a ledge.

He takes the spoon and stirs the soup, humming under his breath and turning the gas down because Namjoon still hasn't grasped how to do it yet. Thinking about it, there's a lot Namjoon still hasn't 'grasped', like how to take showers and how to dress himself properly. Yoongi just goes along with it because he doesn't mind the prolonged contact.

"Thank you," Namjoon says without making it sound sarcastic so it's simple and nice. Yoongi's filled with the realisation of how grossly domestic this is, and when they find themselves crammed together on the couch later with their hands cupped around bowls of stew, his cheeks heat and so does his body.

If he was looking for anything in the first place, he's found it now. Namjoon's eyes are so unfairly warm in lowlight, to the point where Yoongi thinks this is how he's supposed to be viewed, his soft edges softened even more and his eyes gooey and expansive.

When he kisses Namjoon on the cheek, he watches red blossom underneath where his lips were.

 

 

 

 

It’s almost Halloween when Yoongi summons the courage to ask.

He’s fallen into a soothing rhythm with Namjoon, to the point where they work around each other and their days line up as perfectly as the cycles of the sun and moon -- an eclipse. It’s as natural as breathing now, and the drawer to his exorcism supplies stays firmly padlocked, pages of rituals untouched and remedies unspilled. He’s accepted Minjun’s fate now, and wonders if it makes him a bad person for feeling relieved about it.

Namjoon is brushing his teeth when he asks, because that’s really romantic. He’s amazed that he doesn’t need to be there, holding the toothbrush for him at this point. And Yoongi’s still dressed in his pyjamas, having just brushed his own teeth and washed the dust from his eyes. He walks back towards the bathroom because Namjoon’s tall frame is still bent over the sink, Yoongi’s shirt stretched across his shoulders.

He clears his throat to announce his presence. In his head, perhaps he would’ve said something more meaningful, but all he can manage to get out goes along the lines of this: “You wanna...go out some time?” Yoongi says, leaning back against the door and hoping he looks as cool as he thinks he does. He checks the bathroom mirror over Namjoon’s shoulder. Shirt untucked, dark circles, toothpaste stuck to his chin -- he’s got this.

Namjoon sighs like he’s been expecting it, tongue poking out at his cheek. “So we’re trying this, huh? It’s really taken you long enough.”

“Well, I was just nervous and I’ve had to think about it a lot recently. Especially after we kissed. If you still remember it.”

Namjoon grunts. “Of course. I just expected you to ask sooner -- not like I’ve been very subtle about any of this. What decision have you reached, oh wise one?”

He steps forward and scrubs the toothpaste off. It leaves a trail behind it but he can’t be bothered to wash his face again for now and so he leaves it. Namjoon doesn’t care. “I have decided that this goes against all of my morals,” he announces. “And I love it. So, about the date?”

“Are you going to take me to the graveyard again?” Namjoon’s smiling down at his hands, his cool facade finally cracking. He looks so human it’s nearly believable, the look of someone who’s just woken up and smells of sleepy lavender.

“Absolutely.” The rain presses against the window and urges him to walk out and embrace it. Yoongi doesn’t think he’ll change, although they’re both in pyjamas and they’re going to get soaked.

“You know what,” Namjoon says and puts the toothbrush back in its holder. His eyes dance when he looks out at the storm, presumably thinking of that same day when they danced in the graveyard and let the rain push them together. “I’m several thousand years old and you’re the first person to have ever asked. That makes me very interested in you, Yoongi.”

“More interested than you were before?”

Namjoon nods and shuffles past Yoongi into the cold air of the kitchen. He takes Minjun’s coat (Namjoon’s now, he subconsciously corrects) and slings it over his shoulders so it falls to his knees. He looks a bit silly because he’s still wearing boxers and a moth-eaten shirt, but Yoongi doesn’t look any better in his matching pyjama set. He leans up and wraps a scarf around Namjoon’s neck, one that’s knitted and navy blue. Just because he’s allowed, he presses a tiny kiss to the bottom of Namjoon’s chin, which makes him blush slightly. He finds it satisfying.

 

As expected, the rain soaks them through in about thirty seconds, and Yoongi’s shivering but it’s okay because Namjoon wraps his arms around his torso and his demon body temperature does the rest of the work.

They laugh as the wind pushes them between the grave markers, the only music is what’s in their heads and the eerie hum of the cemetery. Yoongi points out the most active ones just to watch Namjoon’s eyes widen in terror and his arms tighten around Yoongi’s waist. It’s sort of difficult to see in the rain, but they can both tell when thunder rolls across the sky. They stretch up to it instinctively and laugh, although Yoongi has to be careful the cigarette doesn’t fall from his lips.

“Yoongi,” Namjoon mutters some minutes later. “Thank you for not exorcising me.”

Yoongi laughs shortly and slides his arms further into Namjoon’s coat. He smells so enticing, the wood and orange mixing with petrichor and Yoongi’s own stench of decay and death. It’s almost overwhelming, but he’s dealt with far worse. “No problem.”

“I’m going to kiss you now.”

“Okay,” Yoongi says, although it gets a little lost in the storm and Namjoon’s leaning in already, coming closer until their lips meet and he melts a little in his arms.

He thinks it might be the first time he doesn’t think of Namjoon as a soul trapped in a jar, doesn’t think of his body like a ship with the wrong captain. This is just Namjoon now, he realises as their lips slide together in the rain. He can’t help but smile into it, Namjoon’s hands knotting in his hair but it’s gentle, like he treasures Yoongi.

When they pull apart, he can’t help but lean in for more, just innocent closed mouth kisses which make Namjoon giggle quietly. Yoongi leans their foreheads together and appreciates the view like this, even though it’s blurry and he can’t quite make out Namjoon’s features. “You’re the worst demon in the world,” he groans, even as he kisses Namjoon once more.

“I know. But I’m quite a good human, aren’t I?”

“You are,” Yoongi says, and he pulls Namjoon close one last time and kisses him until his mind is full to the brim with rain and smoke and Namjoon’s shimmery lip gloss.

He thinks he sees a dark figure walking away from them between the headstones, and it turns back to smile at them just once before vanishing from existence.

 

 

 

 

 

“Are you serious?” Jimin can hardly contain himself, the clip-on witch hat he’s attached to his hair wobbling precariously as he threatens to fall right out of Mr Cute Neighbour’s lap.

They’re gathered in his living room because it’s bigger than Yoongi’s and isn’t so full of dust. He’s set out far too many cakes for four people, all adorned with glittery moonflower petals and candied apple. Yoongi is beginning to feel a little bloated and he wonders when Jimin turned into an actual grandma.

“I should think so,” Namjoon says, eyebrows furrowing. “Demons are a lot of things, but we’re not liars.”

Jimin claps his hands together and his rings jingle metallically. “That’s so cliche! Like you stepped out of a horror movie! Taetae hates those, don’t you sweetheart?”

Taehyung shrugs. “Least they’re not real.” He’s been staring at Namjoon warily as most non magical people would be expected to do.

Jimin ignores him for the time being. “I can’t believe you got a real boyfriend, and it was all my fault, right? I mean, if you hadn’t come over to get rid of that ghost then....you’d never have built up all this romantic tension,” he says, looking very pleased with himself. Yoongi doesn’t want to deny it, so he nods and lets Jimin have his way.

Taehyung still looks petrified, hands white where he’s hanging onto Jimin’s thighs. “Y-you’re not going to replace me with a demon, are you?” And Yoongi does feel slightly sympathetic with the way his eyes fill up in terror.

“No. You’re not boring like Minjun,” and Jimin presses their cheeks together so all is peaceful.

Yoongi turns away from the two of them and reaches out for Namjoon’s hand, his chest full of bubbly happiness. It’s almost evening and Namjoon has a tacky hairband with red demon horns attached to it. Yoongi’s just dressed as himself because exorcists look perfectly ordinary and he already wears long black coats everywhere.

Everything’s more exciting now, especially because Namjoon eats spiders when he thinks Yoongi’s not looking. Now he’s sure Yoongi isn’t getting rid of him, he seems to be letting his demonly tendencies shine through more, although Yoongi can’t say he’s overjoyed about the sharper teeth or the red eyes which he wakes up to every morning. He doesn’t mind because Namjoon’s still adorable and his smile’s just the same as it was when he was trying to look human.

Yoongi doesn’t like Namjoon’s eating habits, but at least his apartment is cleaner now.

He leans forward and kisses him gently on the lips so some of the shimmery pink gloss gets transferred between them. He decides it’s sort of fitting that Namjoon has started to act like a demon now, because Yoongi is an exorcist and he doesn’t really want to have a completely human boyfriend anyway. He’s got to accept Namjoon for who he is, idiosyncrasies and all.

“I think I’m starting to love you,” Namjoon says, their fingers intertwined atop Jimin’s peach coloured sofa.

“That’s funny,” Yoongi replies. They’re close together so it feels like they’ve been separated from the rest of the world. “I was just gonna say the same thing.”

“Guess you’ll have to show me, instead,” and they kiss for a while until Jimin’s clock chimes to introduce evening and they run off into the woods together.