“this is not the library,” yoongi deadpans, turning his key in the ignition. the engine of his beloved, bashed up minivan stutters to a stop. he pats the steering wheel gratefully.
namjoon turn to face him with an excited grin. “took you awhile to notice.”
“oh, i noticed,” yoongi argues, staring into the line of woods they’re parked in front of. he reads the sign stuck into the ground at the mouth of the hiking trail. a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, it says. the phrase alone makes yoongi’s body ache.
he turns to namjoon, clicking his tongue in disapproval. “i was hoping my eyes were deceiving me. that’d we’d just taken an unnecessarily long route, and somehow the gps would lead us back to town.”
namjoon hums, pursing his lips in fake sympathy as he coos, “maybe you should’ve given up on that when we turned onto a dirt road in the very obvious middle of nowhere. so!” he claps his hands and ducks down to dig around in the backpack at his feet, which is obviously not filled with books, yoongi now realizes.
he pulls out a pair of walkie-talkies, a pair of flashlights, and… two hard-hats. namjoon stacks the hats together, turns them over, and rests the flashlights and walkie-talkies inside them. he unbuckles his seatbelt.
yoongi gives up on banter and resorts to whining. “namjoon, you know i have a paper due next week and an exam to study for! i don’t have time to run chase myths with you.”
namjoon looks up at yoongi, incredulous. “you said you would, remember? on the next full moon, you said. that’s tonight.”
yoongi does remember that. he stares down at his lap as namjoon jumps out of the car and mutters to himself, “how has a month already passed… what the hell?”
there’s a knock on his window.
“c’mon, the sun is gonna set soon!” namjoon’s muffled voice tells him. yoongi turns to look at him and finds a camera pointed at him through the glass. there’s a little red light indicating that the camera is recording.
yoongi sighs and pops open the door of his van, pressing the lock button before he climbs out and shuts it behind him. he slips his car keys into his back pocket.
“i’m glad your youtube channel is going well,” yoongi says, rounding to the front of the van, where namjoon has laid out his equipment on the hood.
he stands complacent as namjoon uses one hand to smooth his hair and place the bright yellow hard hat on his head for him, “really. such success at only 18; that’s impressive. but is it really necessary to run around the woods every month?”
“gotta keep things fresh and exciting, yoon.”
“okay, but is the construction worker attire necessary?”
“safety first, yoongi. one day we really will find sasquatch, and he’ll try to smash a rock over your head, but your helmet will save you, and you’ll thank me.”
“that is way too specific for my liking,” yoongi mutters. he snatches one of the walkie-talkies. he presses the button and speaks into it, his voice echoing from where namjoon’s walkie-talkie rests on the hood of the van, in a crackled static, “doesn’t sasquatch live in washington? you know, washington, usa?”
“he’s a man, er, creature of travel. he could be anywhere.” namjoon pouts the way yoongi expects him to. “and, well, good thing today’s episode isn’t about him, then. look, i promise i’ll help you study when we get home, okay? this’ll take like, two hours at most.”
yoongi purses his lips and debates about it. he’d be perfectly fine studying on his own, but namjoon is wicked smart and has a way with words that makes things make sense. it’s a fair offer, one worth taking him up on, and it’s not like yoongi would let him go into the woods alone anyhow. might as well get a guaranteed a-plus from it.
“alright,” yoongi agrees finally, “what are we looking for this time then?”
“namjoon,” yoongi groans. “we live in west virginia, not new jersey! why aren’t we just looking for mothman?”
“the jersey devil has wings, yoongi, he could fly anywhere.”
“and he’d choose west virginia of all places?” yoongi counters, voice heavy with doubt. it’s hard enough to find fellow koreans here, much less the cryptid creatures that namjoon’s obsessed with.
“hey, don’t be a hater,” namjoon says pleasantly, placing his hard hat on his head. “i’ve already done an episode on mothman. with jin, remember? doing another would be overkill.”
yoongi does remember. he hadn’t heard the end of it afterwards, either, even though the most suspenseful thing that happened to the pair was when namjoon almost fell in a creek. jin refuses to go on any more of namjoon’s late night adventures, which is a shame. his humor paired with namjoon’s worked really well for the show.
not that yoongi isn’t funny. he thinks he is, and it’s always easier to be silly when there’s someone to work with, and he and namjoon have a good, long lasting chemistry, but yoongi is camera shy, and when he says namjoon’s channel is doing well, he means it’s doing well. the high thousands, nearly millions kind of well, and that kind of publicity makes yoongi nervous.
“wouldn’t it make sense to save the jersey devil until we go to new york? then, we could actually travel to jersey,” yoongi grumbles as he follows namjoon to the mouth of the trail.
namjoon pauses just before the line of trees. he sounds put off when he mumbles, “oh. i didn’t even realize…”
yoongi rolls his eyes, albeit fondly. he pats namjoon on the shoulder. “okay, joon. let’s get on with it, yeah?”
namjoon huffs, but he holds out a flashlight to yoongi.
“do not turn this on unless there’s an emergency,” namjoon says sternly. “and for the love of all things good, if anything happens, turn it off.”
yoongi blinks down at the flashlight and takes it gingerly. “that makes… no sense.”
“just follow my lead,” namjoon assures him, heading down the trail.
“can do, captain,” yoongi salutes, following close behind him. “you so owe me a milkshake for this.”
predictably, namjoon’s investigation is mindless minutes of chatting and wandering around the woods. as much as yoongi gripes about it—he hates bugs and sweating—it’s nice to walk around with namjoon, talking and joking. it would be pretty therapeutic, really, if it weren’t past sunset and the dark didn’t make everything seem that much more intimidating.
there’s just enough moonlight seeping in past the trees to see. yoongi takes over filming for namjoon, following him around as he poses amongst nature and tells the audience the basics of the jersey devil. yoongi listens idly, not really paying attention, and tries not to jump every time an animal scurries away from them in the distance.
he won’t admit it, but he’s not as skeptical of this paranormal stuff as he lets on. his mind is rational, tries to find reason, but he can’t help the pounding of his heart when unexplained things happen. personally, he’s never experienced anything paranormal or supernatural, but he can’t deny that sometimes unexplained things do happen.
he can’t even watch horror movies without tossing and turning in bed, feeling like he’s being watched from the shadows. he has a special plug-in light for those nights.
at the very least, he believes in aliens. the universe is too big for other life to be nonexistent, right? but whether or not those aliens are the way society believes them to be—high level technology, oval shaped heads, obsessed with corn fields—well. there’s no way to be certain.
and yoongi doesn’t even know where to start with cryptids, strange creatures living in the most isolated parts of the world… those are different. less believable, but not as easy to explain. namjoon’s roped him into watching a lot of paranormal shows, and some of the videos he’s seen are just… there’s just no easy way to write them off.
yoongi is not gullible by any means, but he’s not close minded, either.
namjoon makes good on his promise. they don’t delve very deep into the woods, just far enough for yoongi’s calves to begin to burn from the uphill climb. they don’t stray from the path, and it’s only two hours before namjoon calls for cut. yoongi stops filming and hands the camera to namjoon, who nods his head in thanks. he looks a bit disappointed, as he always does at the end of an investigation.
“that bit where the bushes were shaking was nice,” yoongi tells him as they make their way down the winding path, back to the van.
“it was just a rabbit,” namjoon shakes his head slowly.
yoongi chews his lip, following silently behind him. “we didn’t find anything, but it’s not because the jersey devil isn’t real.” yoongi glances at namjoon. “he’s just in new jersey, like i told you.”
namjoon snorts. he slows down until he and yoongi walk side by side and throws an arm over yoongi's shoulder. “don’t worry, i’m not like… hurt. yeah, it’s a little disappointing, but sightings are rare. i doubt the jersey devil is gonna come say hi to two guys with a video camera.”
“i would hope not,” yoongi quips, and he smiles when it makes namjoon grin.
they reach the van, and yoongi hops a little in excitement to leave. the night is humid, making everything cling uncomfortably. yoongi looks forward to the van’s air conditioning; he’s sticky from a light sheen of sweat. his stomach is grumbling, too. yoongi reaches into his pocket for the keys.
“what...” yoongi mutters, patting over his back pockets. “shit… joon, i think i dropped the keys…”
namjoon blinks. he peels off his helmet and (carefully) dumps it onto the hood of the van, along with the shut off camera and his flashlight. he glances back into the woods. “they have to be somewhere along the trail. we didn’t go too far.”
“yeah,” yoongi huffs in annoyance. he knows he put the keys in his back pocket, but he checks his front pockets and his jacket pockets just in case. nothing. “ugh. just... stay here, joon. i’ll go look.”
yoongi switches on his flashlight and makes for the woods, and namjoon jogs to catch up with him. “what? no, i’ll come with you. it shouldn’t take long to find them. we just have to check where we were.”
yoongi nods, using his flashlight to scope the ground. slowly, they make they’re way up the trail. yoongi curses his clumsiness; his legs are really starting to ache now. he searches along the path, listening to the sound of namjoon’s steps behind him. his brows furrow when he doesn’t find anything.
“namjoon, have you found them?”
namjoon hums flatly in denial. “not yet.”
yoongi sighs, lets out a confused noise. he comes to a stop, glancing around. he spots a familiar tree. “this is as far as we went.” he rubs his neck, biting back a groan of frustration. “i don’t know how they fell out. i didn’t even touch my pocket.”
namjoon is silent. yoong glances back at him curiously and wants to sob when he sees that excited sparkle in namjoon’s eyes. nothing makes him as ecstatic as a mystery. even if it’s just yoongi’s lost car keys. a mystery all the same.
yoongi really doesn’t want to record more. “namjoon…”
but namjoon makes a little noise, pressing his lips together. his eyes widen pleadingly. yoongi sighs. he can’t say no. if this makes up for the disappointment of the investigation, yoongi will let namjoon have it.
“fine,” he relents, waving a hand. “go get the camera, but be quick please.”
namjoon nods, already turning away and rushing down the trail so fast that yoongi’s chest seizes in panic.
“don’t run!” yoongi calls after him, just in case.
namjoon slows down considerably, and yoongi can breathe again. but then namjoon disappears from sight and yoongi stands alone in the woods, surrounded by trees and the dark.
namjoon is close enough that he would probably hear yoongi if he screamed, but yoongi still shifts in place anxiously, a heavy feeling sitting low in his gut.
yoongi distracts himself by checking the trail again. he walks a bit further, just in case, but his car keys are nowhere to be found. it makes no sense; they’d been tucked into his pocket securely, and he hadn’t touched them at all. maybe if he had squatted down, they’d have fallen, but he didn’t.
he squats now, using his hand to carefully ruffle through a pile of leaves.
yoongi spins around, glancing down the path. “namjoon?”
there’s nothing there. yoongi frowns, bites back his worry, and tells himself it was just an animal. there’s plenty of wildlife around him. crickets and cicadas, rabbits and raccoons. birds. he saw nearly twenty squirrels while they were recording earlier. even in the night, the last thing he is, is alone. it’s nothing.
but the sudden rustling of leaves that comes from behind him sounds like something.
yoongi shoots up to his feet, panting a bit from stress. that was too loud, too heavy with weight to be just a small woodland creature. yoongi peers into the woods. his heart begins to pelapatate.
the rustling moves closer, circling him. yoongi spins slowly, following the noise, and shines his flashlight over the line of bushes, his breathing coming in rapid pants, and he’s nearly hyperventilating now. he swears the light passes over something—a shape, a shadow, maybe—but when he jerks the flashlight back to the break in the bushes, there’s nothing there.
“n-namjoon? this isn’t funny,” yoongi pleads quietly, backing a few steps away. leaves and twigs crunch noisily under his feet. “come out.”
but the noise comes closer—a constant now, shaking the tree branches above, sounding from somewhere further up the path—and yoongi swings his flashlight around, trying to find the source as he stumbles backwards. nothing is there.
suddenly, just as rustling of the trees reaches him, everything goes silent. yoongi sucks in a sharp breath and holds it, his blood rushing in his ears. a slow, quiet sound of creaking wood startles him, and with a loud crack, a branch falls from a tree behind him.
yoongi yelps and jerks around, and he uses the flashlight to search the darkness. he finds the fallen branch, its leaves still shaking from the drop, and with his heart pounding hard in his chest, he lifts the flashlight up, along the tree, and—
bright red eyes.
yoongi doesn’t think. he runs.
with the path blocked by—by the red eyes—yoongi is forced to run further into the woods. bushes and branches whip at his body as he forces past them, the adrenaline shooting through his veins not allowing him to stop and think. he runs and hears the sound of shaking leaves following after him.
this is so backwards, he thinks somewhere deep in the part of his mind that’s still working. isn’t he meant to be chasing cryptids, not the other way around?
yoongi stumbles through the woods blindly, his mind so focused on simply running that he doesn’t realize where he’s going. he doesn’t stop before it’s too late.
there’s a dip in the earth. a ditch. before he can drag himself to a stop, yoongi steps into it, his ankle giving way with a sharp stab of pain, and he trips, falling and rolling down the slight slope with pained gasps and grunts. when he hits the ground, he has no time to think about pain or hurt. he grabs his flashlight and tries to keep running, but after only a few steps, the pain in his ankle is too much. with a curse, yoongi drops to the ground.
something heavy lands on a tree above him, making the branches lean with a nasty creak. yoongi gasps, rolling onto his back and sitting up, leaning back onto is arms. in the dark, yoongi can see the tree bending a bit with the weight of the creature. yoongi raises a shaky hand and shines the flashlight into the treetops.
the thing—a man-like figure—with pale-greyish skin, black horns nestled in blacker hair, and bright, blood red eyes stares down at him from the tree. the dark shadow looming around the man flutters and shifts. wings.
yoongi’s hands shake violently as he realizes what—who—he’s found.
“you… you should turn that off,” a soft voice of floats down to him. the man grips onto the tree tightly, visibly restraining himself. “you should really turn that off. right now. please.”
and maybe yoongi is stupid, or maybe the politeness of the request has completely thrown him off, or maybe he’s just desperate to do whatever it takes to not die at the hands of the creature, that he goes and switches off the flashlight. instantly, he’s cloaked in darkness.
“thank you…” comes the soft, whispery voice. there’s the sound of a body thumping against the ground as the man jumps from the tree, and slow steps begin to make their way towards yoongi.
yoongi’s entire body aches. he’s got nicks and scratches all over his skin, and his ankle is most definitely sprained, if not broken. namjoon is nowhere near, and yoongi is isolated in the woods in the dark with mothman.
it all comes bearing down on him at once, and he is so terribly terrified that a sob slips past his pressed together lips against his will.
the steps pause.
the silence stretches on, and it's so damn nerve wracking that yoongi can no longer hold his tears back, his anxiety and fear and adrenaline rush crashing down on him. he can’t flee, and he can’t fight. he’s done for.
he’s going to die at age eighteen, only weeks away from his high school graduation—before he gets to go to university, to see more of the world—and the most impressive thing he’s ever done is to guess the exact amount of coffee beans in a jar at his favorite diner and win a half-price discount for six months. that’s his peak.
yoongi promptly breaks down into tears, hiccuping wetly. his voice gives out, is completely gone, so he can do no more than whisper brokenly.
“d-don’t—please don’t kill m-me.”
“i won’t hurt you,” mothman tells him softly as he slowly approaches, and yoongi is as likely to believe that as he is to sprout wings and fly.
yoongi’s arms give out. he collapses into the dirt, curls up into a ball, and cries harder.
“i won’t,” the creature tells him sincerely, finally stood just in front of yoongi. he crouches down carefully, and yoongi shudders, as his voice is now much closer than before. “i won’t eat you, either, so mark that off your list. please don’t cry. i’m sorry i chased you. i couldn’t help it. but i’m not… i’m not a monster, okay? i won’t hurt you.”
yoongi pauses at the sad tone seeping into the words. confusion slowly begins to overtake his panic. “i thought m-mothman sucked people’s blood…”
there’s a burst of laughter, a nice laugh, that catches yoongi off guard. “i believe you’re thinking of dracula. he’s a pretty cool dude. sorry to disappoint, but i’m not a vampire. i’m not exactly a moth, either.”
yoongi’s brows furrow as he wracks his brain, trying to remember everything namjoon’s told him about mothman. he comes up blank and regrets not paying closer attention. “no… no, i’m pretty sure…”
“i don’t eat,” mothman says, matter of fact. “or i don’t need to, at least. pizza is pretty good, though.”
“you… you know what pizza is?”
“um, yeah? who doesn’t know what pizza is? it’s pizza.” mothman sounds incredulous, as if yoongi is the weird one. this is crazy. maybe yoongi hit his head on a rock when he fell and he’s hallucinating everything. that makes sense.
but then he remembers that he’s wearing namjoon’s stupid helmet and almost bursts into tears again.
“mothman eats pizza,” yoongi whispers to himself. not people.
a tired sigh. “i’m not a moth. that’s what they call me, because that’s what it’s easiest to describe me as…”
yoongi slowly, slowly uncurls himself, tilting his head up to meet moth—the creature’s eyes. the red color of them is unsettling. there’s no iris, or pupil. there’s only red. yoongi lets out a shuddered breath.
this close, with the moonlight streaming past the treetops and his eyes adjusted to the darkness, yoongi can see his face clearly. and the rest of the man’s face is… is strangely beautiful.
yoongi wonders what the creature’s ratio between man and moth is—wonders if the man’s words are really true and he’s not moth at all—because he has a normal face structure and normal skin, save for a slightly unnatural hue to its color. thank god, if he had a giant moth head like mothman supposedly does, yoongi would actually throw up.
he’s got human hair, and a nose, and lips. his hands are like yoongi’s, except his nails are painted (or naturally) black. the shape of his body is seemingly normal for a man.
he doesn’t look old, not at all. his skin is smooth and his physique is fit. in all truth, he looks as young as yoongi, give or take a couple of years. he’s wearing what looks like a worn and torn, oversized hoodie, black jeans with rips at the knees, and timberlands. yoongi probably owns the exact same attire, tucked away in his closet. the look screams college student.
the only thing that’s… different about him, for lack of better words, are his short, curved, black horns, his red eyes, and the dark wings hanging over his shoulders. his wings don’t seem to be made of feathers, or… anything, really. they look like fluff in the vague shape of wings.
and then the expression on the creature’s face registers and yoongi’s chest kind of clenches. not-a-moth-man looks… sad, and yoongi always was too damn sympathetic for his own good. he justifies it by telling himself he has to play nice if he doesn’t want to die. yoongi sits up, careful with his hurt leg, and kneels facing the man. he rubs his cheeks with his sleeves, wiping his tears away.
“what… what are you then?”
the man smiles, and despite its sad undertones, yoongi is struck with the sudden thought that it’s a rather pretty sight. which. what the fuck.
“i don’t know.”
yoongi frowns at the response. “you know what pizza is, but you don’t know what you are?”
“i don’t exactly have a family—or anyone—to explain it to me,” the man hums. “all i know is i was weak in the beginning, and the more people believed in me, the stronger i got.”
“so you are mothman,” yoongi argues.
“i’m not!” the man exclaims, and the way he says it is a bit petulant, a bit whiny, and it makes yoongi feel strangely relaxed. he’s bickering with mothman. okay. bickering is better than dying.
“you live in the forests of west virginia. you have wings and glowing, red eyes. i think you might be mothman,” yoongi deadpans, crossing his arms over his chest defensively.
“no, i mean—” the man lets out a frustrated noise, running a hand through his hair, and yoongi does not think it’s cute. “i am mothman, but i’m not a moth man.”
“you chased me because i had a flashlight.”
“i told you i couldn’t help it,” the man pouts.
“neither can moths,” yoongi points an accusing finger at the man. “haven’t you ever heard of the saying like a moth to a flame?”
the man sighs helplessly, shrugging his shoulders in defeat. he looks up to the sky, but the branches here are thick, and it can hardly be seen. “lights are…” his voice takes on a wistful, melancholic tone. “they’re pretty. the only light i ever see is the moon…”
something morose and somber hangs in the air. yoongi blinks, shifting uncomfortably in the heavy atmosphere. he doesn’t know what to say to that.
yoongi leans forward curiously, glancing over the man’s face. he hasn’t been attacked; despite what common sense would tell him, he lowers his defenses. “your eyes... can you see at all?”
the man looks down at yoongi, and their faces are closer than yoongi would expect, just mere inches away. it startles yoongi, and he jerks back silently. if the man notices, he doesn’t say anything, but still there’s a sad pinch to the corner of his mouth that wasn’t there before.
“i can see just fine, in color and all. i’m nocturnal, so my sight is better in the dark, but i can still see in the day. i’m drawn to light. it’s… hypnotizing, i suppose. but as the years have passed, i’ve become better at resisting it. but it’s been a while, and you caught me off guard, and…”
then, yoongi remembers namjoon’s strange warning. if anything happens, turn it off. because of course mothman would be attracted to the shine of a flashlight. yoongi curls his hands into fists and bites back the urge to scream. if namjoon had been more specific…
but yoongi isn’t mad long. there’s no way namjoon could’ve known.
“okay…” yoongi sucks in a deep breath. he tries his best to seem nonchalant, and not as if he were running for his life half an hour ago, not as if he had cried for the man to spare him. “so… you’re mothman, except you’re not a moth man, but you like lights the way moths do, so that’s debatable. cool.”
the man snorts in amusement. it’s such a casual, informal sound that yoongi feels a bit like he’s floating. he tries to ground himself, tries to drag himself back into reality, but the fact that his reality is him sitting in the woods chatting with mothman doesn’t really help.
“you haven’t happened to find any car keys, have you?” yoongi finds himself asking weakly.
a sheepish smile. yoongi’s lips part in surprise. “did you?”
still looking bashful, the man reaches into his hoodie pocket and pulls out a fist. he holds his hand out to yoongi. yoongi notices faint lines of ink in the skin of the back of his hand, but the man flips his palm upwards before he can process what the tattoos were. there, in his open palm, are yoongi’s car keys.
“people come here to search for me a lot,” he explains shyly. “i pick up the things they drop. i didn’t know you’d come back for them, otherwise i would’ve left them where they were. i’m sorry.”
yoongi holds out his palm, and the man drops the keys into it. “you were… watching us the whole time?”
the man nods. “your friend is very good at speaking. he almost had me wanting to go out and search for the jersey devil too, and i know the dude.”
yoongi laughs in agreement, nodding. then, the words sink in and he snaps his head up to look at the man in shock. “wait, the jersey devil is real?”
the man just smiles, arching a brow.
yoongi deflates. he thinks of what this means; if mothman is real, then the other legends and myths are probably real too, right? and come to think of it, earlier he implied that he knew dracula. yoongi chews his lower lip. “i’m guessing you don’t want me to tell my friend about this…”
the man’s smile slips off his face. “i can’t control what you do. though i would appreciate it if you didn’t.”
“i wonder if… if he’d even believe me.” yoongi mumbles, staring down at his flashlight.
“doesn’t he believe in my kind?” and by my kind yoongi supposes the man means the paranormal. the supernatural. the unordinary. vampires and jersey devils and winged men mistaken for moths, amongst other things.
“no, he does.” yoongi purses his lips and shakes his head. “but believing in something and actually discovering that those beliefs are true… those are different things. even if you believe, it can still feel unreal. sometimes things that are real are harder to believe.”
“what about you?” the man whispers, his red eyes wide and focused on yoongi as he speaks.
“what do you believe in?”
yoongi blinks. he opens his mouth to speak, but then the sounds of distant shouting interrupt him. the man’s head snaps up towards the path. he tilts his head, seems to listen, and then he stands hurriedly, backing away a few steps. behind him, his wings shift and flutter nervously.
“you were gone for too long,” he explains tensely. “your friend called the police.”
“oh my god,” yoongi gasps. he can’t have been gone too long—it feels like this happened all too quickly—but he completely disappeared from the trail, which in itself is a highly dangerous thing, especially at night, as well as very unlike yoongi. of course namjoon would be panicking.
yoongi tries to stand, but his leg is hurting too much. he sways and leans onto a nearby tree. the man jumps forward, hovers around him worriedly, his hands half-raised as if he’s ready to catch yoongi at a moment’s notice. the thought makes yoongi smile. he forces it down.
“i should go,” the man whispers.
yoongi nods in agreement, but the man seems to hesitate, shifting in place and biting his lower lip. he looks down at yoongi’s limp leg and winces. “you’re hurt…”
“it’s okay,” yoongi assures him, smiling kindly. “i’m fine. they’ll find me soon. you should go before they get too close.”
the man nods, but he doesn’t leave just yet. instead, he lifts a hesitant hand, and he slowly reaches forward. yoongi stiffens and bites back a gasp when he feels a featherlight touch against his cheek. the man lets his fingers ghost across yoongi’s skin, the tips of them barely touching him.
“thank you for talking with me.” he says in a gentle tone, in a voice that feels intimate. he runs his fingers over yoongi’s hair, petting him practically, and yoongi stands there and lets him. “i—i don’t get the chance to interact with the common people often.”
“thanks for not killing me,” yoongi tells him, his voice a bit shaky, and the man breathes out a laugh, though it sounds sad. yoongi frowns at that.
the shouts of his name are getting closer; they don’t have much time.
yoongi clears his throat. “hey… my name is yoongi. min yoongi—or well—here, it’s yoongi min.”
it earns him a genuine smile. “that’s a pretty name.”
“t-thank you,” yoongi stutters, feeling himself flush. “do… do you have a name?”
the smile on the man’s face freezes. it slowly melds into something troubled and sad, and something sits uneasy in yoongi. he likes the man’s smile better; he doesn’t want to man to be sad. it’s—it’s almost making it difficult to leave, knowing he’d be leaving the man alone and upset.
despite yoongi’s… first impression of the man, he thinks there’s a kind-hearted, lonely soul behind those blood red eyes.
“no, not really…” the man tells him quietly. “if i did have a name, i don’t remember it. everyone just calls me mothman,” he spits the name out as if it tastes sour on his tongue. “even the ones who aren’t human, like me. it kind of sucks, but i’m alone most of the time, so it’s not like i need one. ”
yoongi’s brows furrow. he’s been trying to avoid thinking of the man as mothman, seeing as how he feels so strongly against it, and if the man doesn’t have a name, yoongi’s not sure how to refer to him.
then, yoongi thinks about the fact that he doesn’t have a name, that he doesn’t “need” one. yoongi tries to picture himself in that situation, and it’s a lonely, lonely thing.
“names don’t have to be for other people,” yoongi tells him, trying to pour all of his sincerity in his words, in the gentle tone of his voice. “you can have a name for yourself.”
the man looks genuinely confused, tilting his head. “why would i?”
“so you know who you are. so you have a word that isn’t mothman.” yoongi emphasizes. “so when someone asks who—or what—are you, you have a response you feel is true to you.”
the man stares at him silently, his eyes wide and his lips parted. yoongi shifts his weight uneasily, wincing at the ache all over his body.
“well… anyways, i think you might need one now,” yoongi speaks up as he ducks his head, flustered by the silent stare the man is giving him. “after all, what am i meant to call you, if not mothman?”
the man’s face scrunches in confusion. “i don’t—i don’t know what…”
yoongi sees a flash of light over the hill he’s fallen down. the police are getting close now, and their time has come to an end.
urgency making him feel brave, yoongi reaches out and pushes at the man’s chest. it’s firm and muscled under his palm. yoongi shuts down that part of his brain and tries not to blush. “think about it, okay? but you need to go. now.”
there’s a sharp intake of breath. “will you—d-does this mean you’ll come back?”
“i will,” yoongi says, and there’s a conviction in his own voices that surprises him.
it’s worth it, he thinks, when he can see the happiness overtaking the man’s features, can practically feel his excitement vibrating in the man’s chest under his palm. however, there’s no time for him to marvel at it. (or for him to question how warm his cheeks feel.) yoongi pushes at him more frantically, though it doesn’t do much.
“please go,” yoongi pleads. it registers in his mind that he—he feels a bit protective. he doesn’t want to see this man get hurt.
the man gives him one gentle, final pat on the head and turns away.
“hey,” yoongi calls out before he can get too far. “if the jersey devil is real, where is he?”
the man pauses. he turns to face yoongi, and he’s wearing a wide, beaming grin that scrunches his nose and squints his eyes, and it catches yoongi off guard, has his breath stuck in his throat. the man laughs out—pretty laugh that he has—
“in new jersey. duh.”
with a flap of his wings, mothman disappears into the woods.
a paramedic shines a light into his eyes. yoongi stares blankly into the brightness and tries not to let his mind wander. he tries to stay focused on where he is, on the now, which is sat on the back of the ambulance that the police called for once they found yoongi sitting at the bottom of the ditch, unable to walk.
namjoon had been with them; he must’ve argued with the officers about coming along and then did so anyways. his eyes were blown wide, frantic and worried, and he had his phone pressed to his ear, which yoongi knew connected him to jin, who was probably working himself into a panicked tizzy.
with a noise that sounded a lot like a wheeze of relief, namjoon had wrapped himself around yoongi like a koala once one of the officers helped him climb up the slope, and yoongi finally—finally—let himself relax in the comforting hold of his best friend.
namjoon helped him walk back to the van—yoongi consoling jin on the phone the entire way—where a police cruiser and ambulance were parked. their red and blue lights flashed violently, making yoongi’s head spin. before he could even speak, a paramedic rushed him towards the ambulance.
“no concussion,” the medic tells him, pocketing the little flashlight. “you’re a bit battered and bruised, but it’s nothing that’ll cause long lasting damage. that ankle definitely needs to be looked at, though. it’s not broken, but it is badly sprained.”
“i can’t afford a hospital bill,” yoongi denies.
he knows for a fact that if he hops into this vehicle and it drives, he will be charged, and he’s weeks away from graduating; he doesn’t want to dump a hefty hospital debt onto his parents just before he leaves for university, because if one thing is for certain, he definitely can’t pay for a hospital visit himself.
“it’s just sprained… can’t i go home, ice it, and see a doctor tomorrow instead?”
the paramedic levels him a flat stare, but there’s not much that can be done if yoongi refuses to get in the ambulance. the paramedic makes yoongi promise he’ll get his leg checked out as soon as possible tomorrow, and yoongi does so easily. his ankle hurts too much for him to let it be without medical attention.
after that, the police question him about what happened. it’s easy to come up with a story to tell them; yoongi talks about how he simply tripped and rolled off the path, and yes, he knows he shouldn’t be hiking at night, and yes, he’ll do better, and sorry for the trouble he caused, officer.
yoongi is eighteen, an adult to the eyes of the law, so they don’t bother calling his parents, not that it really helps. it only prolongs the inevitable. the officers don’t do so much as just chide them and tell them to be responsible, and then they’re walking back to their vehicle, one of them striding away with a mutter of “kids.”
all within an hour the ambulance and police car roll away, and namjoon and yoongi sit inside the elder’s van, silent.
there’s a whole lot of words on the tip of yoongi’s tongue, the entire story stuck in his throat. if anyone should know—deserves to know—what had actually happened, about the man with red eyes and dark wings, it’s namjoon, and yoongi trusts him more than anyone.
but yoongi opens his mouth, and he just can’t do it. he hates lying to namjoon, but he can’t tell him the truth. yoongi closes his mouth and sits there, until namjoon breaks the silence.
“i’m so sorry,” namjoon croaks. he’s sat in the driver’s seat, staring down at the steering wheel.
(namjoon can drive enough to get them home, though he doesn’t have a driving license—something the police officers blissfully missed.) his eyes are red rimmed, but yoongi doesn’t point it out to him. “i shouldn’t have left you alone.”
yoongi shakes his head slowly. “it’s not your fault, joon. i told you to go…”
“still,” namjoon argues stubbornly. “i shouldn’t have.”
“it’s completely my fault, okay?” yoongi tries. “i shouldn’t have gone further down the trail. the ground was there, and then it just… wasn’t. i should’ve been more careful.”
namjoon doesn’t say anything. yoongi hates that he’s beating himself up for something that yoongi would never blame him for, and that he can’t do a thing about it.
“hey… at least i found the keys, right?” yoongi tries weakly.
namjoon clears his throat, turning his head to look out the window. “i was… really worried, yoongi. i came back, and you were nowhere to be found. i couldn’t find you.”
yoongi reaches out and curls his hand around namjoon’s elbow, a silent gesture for the words trapped in his chest. i’m here. “it was just—just a freak accident. they happen, sometimes.”
“i’m glad you’re okay,” namjoon sighs, the heavy tension he’s been holding in his body slowly beginning to melt away. he holds out his hand for the keys and starts the car when yoongi hands them over to him. “and i know you told me it’s not my fault, but i can’t help but feel partially responsible, so how about i buy us dinner for the next week, so i can feel like i made up for it at least a bit?
“i won’t say no to that,” yoongi sighs, melting into the passenger seat. he stares into the woods as they drive away, feeling… heavy. he’s safe now, but his mind still reels.
he wonders if red, glowing eyes are watching them leave.
as the days pass, that night starts to feel more and more like a dream, distant and hazy. to say life goes back to normal is an understatement. yoongi’s life is so unbearably normal, so terribly ordinary that he can’t help but question whether something so intense and dramatic actually happened to him. but yoongi walks down the street, sees an advertisement for mothman bug spray, and he remembers.
this town won’t allow him to forget.
see, it’s not like they live in a very interesting place. their town is small, tucked between a vast expanse of forest and a wide, high current river, and life in a small town like this can only be so exciting.
there’s the fall carnival the town always hosts—which has a ferris wheel, even—and the summer months bring the sun, making it warm enough to head for the closest lake, but other than that, they pretty much make up for the lack of recreational activities with needless parties and festivals.
(just last week was their balloon festival. that’s right. an entire weekend dedicated to the glory of balloons.)
mothman is probably the biggest point of interest for the town, even if it’s not the “official” town known for the cryptid, point pleasant, which is only a few miles over. they live close to point pleasant and have a healthy history of mothman sightings—as do most towns neighboring point pleasant—so they get away with it.
there’s at least three mothman merchandise shops, every diner in town has at least one mothman themed dish, and though they don’t all have that metal statue of mothman, they still get plenty of tourists passing through.
every gas station in town sell mothman magnets and keychains, too.
it used to be amusing, how obsessed everyone is with the legend. yoongi could never get behind the hype personally, but namjoon was enthusiastic enough for the both of them. and when he thinks about it, yoongi can understand why the people around here are fixated on mothman. it’s pretty obvious, really.
it’s not like much else goes on here.
but it’s a bit... too much, now. everywhere he goes, he sees cheesy, over the top mothman stickers, ads, and posters, and he can’t help but think of how… cartoonish they are. how wrong they are. he can’t help but think about that night. it’s all that he thinks about.
he… he met mothman. he was chased by the creature (which, that’s a trauma he’ll definitely have to deal with later), talked to him, and even sympathized with him. he did. but with each day that passes, he starts to doubt himself, starts to feel like he’s going mad, starts to question if he’d actually experienced what he did or if he just… made it all up, and it doesn’t help that mothman is lingering all over town, haunting him.
he only has so much time—what, with his graduation looming near and a scholarship for university in new york awaiting him—and yoongi can’t—can’t just leave things like this, human curiosity that he has—this niggling urge to know and understand that keeps him up at night—and the hundreds of questions floating around his head will eat him alive if he ignores this. besides, he said to the man that he’d go back. and yoongi doesn’t say things he doesn’t mean.
so a week passes, and yoongi is sitting alone in his van, parked at the edge of the woods, waiting until the sun slowly sinks below the horizon.
when dusk falls, yoongi turns the key in the ignition, cutting off the engine. with one hand, he unbuckles his seatbelt, and with the other, he grabs the flashlight placed in the cup holder. moving in quick, thoughtless motions, he reaches for the backpack sitting in the passenger seat, slings it over his shoulder, and before he can second guess himself, he exits the car.
once his van is closed and locked, he zips his car keys safely in the front pocket of his backpack. he makes sure it’s closed completely and pats over it twice, just in case.
yoongi pauses briefly at the mouth of the trail. he stares up at the darkening sky and slips his hand into his jacket pocket, curls it around the pepper spray hidden there. just in case.
with one final glance at his van, yoongi sucks in a deep breath and begins to walk into the woods.
the woods are much more menacing when yoongi is on his own. namjoon isn’t around to distract him from the dark, or to cover unidentifiable noises with his poetics about the supernatural. on his own, yoongi walks through the woods hunched into himself and nearly holding his breath, because even the sound of his breathing sounds too loud to his paranoid ears.
part of him wishes he brought his phone, instead of leaving it back in his van; the reception here is nonexistent, making the device absolutely useless in case of an emergency, but he could’ve played some music to help him relax, at the very least.
he doesn’t stray from the path, doesn’t want to risk getting lost even though he might have better luck if he were to step away from it and enter the brush, but he does walk deeper into the woods than he had that night. his flashlight is on, pointed at the ground ahead of him, and yoongi walks with slow, calculated steps, glancing around nervously.
after what feels like almost an hour of walking, yoongi comes to a stop when he reaches a spot where the trees aren’t as thick, a break in the branches above him. here, he can see the sky, can see countless stars glittering in the night. moonlight surrounds him, and yoongi is comforted by the fact that he won’t have to strain to see. he looks around. his heart beats hard against his ribs.
“h—” yoongi clears his throat when his attempt to speak comes out as a croak. “hello?”
there’s a single, split second of suspense. then, a response comes.
“you came back…”
yoongi jumps and quickly switches off his flashlight, searching for the source of the voice. he finds it, red eyes fixated on him from the bushes. branches push apart with a loud rustle as the winged man steps forward, into the light of the moon.
yoongi sucks in a surprised breath and holds it for a second, his eyes roving over the man before him, the man who looks 100% real.
his clothes are different. the man still wears tight fitting, ripped up jeans, but instead of a hoodie, an oversized, warm looking turtleneck covers his upper body. on his feet are worn hiking boots, rather than converse. his hair hangs low over his eyes. it’s wavy, yoongi notices.
he’s still impossibly beautiful, despite the things that make him a bit scary (e.g. his horns, red eyes, and dark wings).
the man’s black wings shift behind him. it snaps yoongi out of his daze.
yoongi exhales in an airy rush, “i said i would.”
it earns him a slight, hesitant smile and thinly veiled suspicion. “but why?”
yoongi fumbles, fiddling with the straps of his backpack. he wants to let his head drop and break the intense eye contact, but he’s kind of frozen. “i… i don’t know.”
red eyes flicker to the bag over his shoulder. “what’s in the backpack?”
“oh.” yoongi blinks at the sudden change of topic. he slips his backpack off and glances around. his eyes find a rock big enough to comfortably rest against, just a bit off the path, and he takes careful steps towards it, conscious of the man in his peripheral vision.
yoongi sits in front of the rock and unzips the backpack, leaning back against it. he sighs with relief of being off his feet. his ankle is mostly healed, but waking so long took a bit of a toll on it.
he pulls out a few packages, laying them out on the ground before him. he glances up at the man with wide eyes and an open posture, trying his best to seem unthreatening. it’s sort of funny, him trying to assure the man that he’s not dangerous, when it probably ought to be the other way around.
“i brought snacks,” yoongi tells him softly, picking up a bag of puffs. he stares at it for a second before placing it back down. “um, i brought a few things because i wasn’t sure what you’d like. and, also…”
yoongi digs into his backpack, taking longer than he really needs to, because the man begins to approach him slowly. when the man is sat on the ground about a meter away, with his wings stretched out behind him, yoongi turns back to him with a book in his hands.
the man eyes it curiously. he looks at the front cover, reads the title, and his eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “a baby naming book…?”
“it’s my mom’s,” yoongi explains, flushing a bit in embarrassment. he looks down at the smiling baby on the cover. “i thought maybe you’d find something you like? but, ah… it’s in korean.” yoongi’s brows furrow in confusion. “wait, you could understand the title?”
“when you’ve been alive as long as i have, you learn lots of things,” the man says simply, reaching for the book. yoongi hands it to him gingerly, biting his lips when their fingers brush. the man’s hands are surprisingly warm. “plus, the baby on the cover is pretty telling.”
“how long have you been alive…?”
“oh…” it’s not as long as yoongi expected—which was honestly some exaggerated number—but it’s still quite some time. “well, i’m sorry i don’t have something more… diverse?” yoongi fiddles with the sleeves of his jacket. “these are all korean names.”
the man slides a finger along the spine. he opens to a random page and flips through the book. “no, that’s okay. i… well, coincidentally…when i’m glamoured, my human form is korean. or at least, i’m pretty sure it is.”
yoongi nods like that makes sense. then, he realizes it doesn’t. glamoured? “wait, human?”
the man looks up at him, his red eyes wide in confusion. “yes? what—oh!” he blinks, understanding the bewildered look on yoongi’s face. “oh, yeah. um. well, it’s magic? i can't walk around town like this, obviously, so i buy glamours, which are… well, it can come in different forms, depending on the witch. it’s how… those like me survive amongst humans. it’s pretty cool! it makes me look human if i ever want to leave the woods. i don’t very often, though. i start to feel a bit suffocated when i can’t stretch my wings out.”
yoongi stares at the man throughout his entire spiel, trying to process the words coming out of his mouth. “did you—did you just say witch?”
the man snaps his mouth shut. he ducks his head. “i shouldn’t have,” he whispers, face grim.
it’s silent between them as yoongi’s brain catches up. it’s hard to wrap his mind around the concept of magic, of it being real, but he’s quite literally sitting in front of an urban legend, and there’s not much he can doubt at this point.
the facts check out, and they make sense. there has to be a way the man leaves the woods. how else would he learn korean, amongst other things? because it’s not possible here. the man clearly isn’t some primitive creature with no knowledge about the world. he knows what pizza is, after all.
still, it leaves yoongi shell-shocked.
(it also leaves a lingering desire; yoongi wants to see what he looks like when he’s human.)
part of yoongi wants to press—his curiosity is definitely piqued, and he hates feeling confused—but the larger part of him is hesitant and wary. it feels a lot like he’s dipping his toe into what he thinks is a puddle, but is actually a very deep sinkhole. he thinks it’s best to let things be for now.
without a word, yoongi grabs a bag of puffs—the one he’d picked up earlier—and holds it out to the man.
“try these. they’re my favorite. do you want to pick a name now?” he offers with a soft smile, providing an out.
the man takes the bag with a grateful grin. in exchange, he places the book of names into yoongi’s lap. “will you do me a favor?”
yoongi glances down at the book in confusion. “what?”
“will you decide for me?” the man says, smiling and squirming in place excitedly. “just flip to a random page, and read me the first name you see.”
yoongi gapes, quickly picking up the book and attempting to shove it back at him. “i can’t pick your name! it’s something you should do!”
the man falters, his lower lip jutting out as he wonders, “why?”
“because it’s yours,” yoongi tells him adamantly. “wouldn’t you rather pick a name that you know you’ll like? that means something to you?”
the man hums, pursing his lips, mulling over his words. he explains, wistful and eager, “i don’t want to pick one myself. i want it to be given to me, like how you didn’t pick your own name, you know? even if i don’t necessarily like it, even if i wouldn’t have picked it myself… it’ll be special to me, because it’s from you.”
the man ends with a gentle smile, and it amazes yoongi how his red eyes can convey emotion as well as they do.
“i want to leave it up to fate,” the man goes on. “it’ll feel nicer if it comes from you. i’d just pick randomly, anyways.”
“i-i just don’t want you to be stuck with a name you’re not happy with,” yoongi tries weakly, but he stops trying to push the book onto the other. it feels heavy in his hands.
“i could always change it later,” the man assures him, shaking his head. “i don’t have a preference, and besides, i don’t really have… you’re the only one who’d use it.”
“i thought there were others like you,” yoongi recalls. “what about them?”
“we know each other, but we’re not all, like… friends,” the man says, a bit sadly. “there’s not a yearly mythical creature convention, or something. i’m on my own most of the time. you’re the first person i’ve talked to in… a couple of years?”
yoongi’s lips part in shock. he snaps them shut with a frown. “what about when you go into town…?”
the man chuckles. “of course, there’s small talk, with cashiers most of the time, but no one knows me there, either. especially not there. even if i look human, i can’t allow myself to stand out.”
yoongi feels an ache deep in his chest. “that seems… lonely.”
the man shrugs with a slight smile. “it is what it is.” he moves on to focus on the bag of puffs yoongi have him, popping it open and digging in with a hum. his eyes widen at the flavor, and he begins to snack on them more fervently.
yoongi stares down at the book of names in his hands, and in that moment, he understands the appeal of being given a name by another person, the significance of it for the man, who walked the earth alone for decades, nameless.
silently, yoongi flips through the pages, back and forth, over and over again. he closes his eyes and waits until it feels right—there. yoongi stops, and with a nervous, fluttery feeling, he slowly opens his eyes and reads aloud the first name his eyes land upon.
across from him, the sounds of wrinkling plastic and crunching of puffs freezes. yoongi traces his finger over the print, whispers out the name once more. he likes the way it feels on his tongue. nervous, yoongi glances up.
and jeongguk stares back at him, a smile spreading so wide across his lips that his cheeks bunch and his pretty, red eyes crinkle.
then, the most surprising, painstaking, bittersweet thing happens.
the spring passes quickly, melding into the summer months. freshly graduated from high school and three weeks from moving to new york with his best friends for university, yoongi stares out the window of his bedroom, tapping the eraser end of his pencil against his desk, lost in thought.
every week since the accident, he’s spent friday night in the woods with jeongguk. his parents think he stays at namjoon’s house. namjoon thinks he’s grounded from filming his show with him because of nearly breaking his ankle that fateful night.
they speak about themselves—yoongi more so than jeongguk, seeing as jeongguk’s life revolves in the woods, which never change very often, though it’s fun to hear his stories of encounters with humans. yoongi even brings some of his old gaming devices and shows jeongguk how to play kirby superstar ultra, and jeongguk takes to it amazingly, quickly surpassing all of yoongi’s old high scores.
jeongguk takes him by the hand and leads him deeper into the woods, shows him pretty spots where the moon shines especially bright and where patches of wildflowers grow. and when yoongi complains that his feet hurt, he slowly holds out his arms to the human and offers to carry him back to the edge of the woods.
yoongi never refuses, lets jeongguk reverse piggy-back him and tries to pretend like the press of jeongguk’s chest against his doesn’t make his heart pound.
flying with jeongguk is exhilarating.
they quickly forge a companionship in the dark of the woods. a bond. and the more yoongi spends time with him, the more he feels as if he’s drawn to jeongguk, unable to resist the pull of his charm.
jeongguk is… he’s sweet. yoongi thinks of the night he’d given jeongguk his name, the way he cried, and his heart twists in his chest. jeongguk, for all his intimidating physique, is good. he’s kind. a gentle giant with a heart of gold.
it’s doing strange things to yoongi. he thinks about jeongguk all the time, closes his eyes and sees jeongguk’s face, his gentle smile, and his bright, beaming one.
but the weeks are passing quickly—quicker than yoongi wants them to—and summer is coming to an end, which means yoongi only has three weeks left with jeongguk until he leaves.
and he’s yet to say anything about it.
he feels terrible about it, about keeping his departure from jeongguk, but he’s... scared. his nights with jeongguk feel like a dream, like a fairy tale, and he doesn’t want to shatter the illusion.
there’s nothing that can be done about it. yoongi can’t stay here; he has endless possibilities, an entire future awaiting him, and he just can’t stay here. he’ll suffocate if he does. but the day of his departure is creeping up on the horizon, and yoongi finds that, as ready as he is to get out of this place, he doesn’t want to leave jeongguk. the last thing he wants is to leave jeongguk.
it’ll hurt, he knows. it already hurts, and he doesn’t want to think about the pain of leaving jeongguk alone, so he holds off telling jeongguk that he’s moving to new york, but it’s impossible to keep it from him now.
his bedroom is bare, all of his things packed away, save for a few essentials like clothes and his hairbrush. all the posters and photo frames on his walls have been taken down and packed in boxes. everything he’s not taking to new york is finding a new home in his parents’ basement.
his room even smells different, smells less like his favorite scented candles and more like the cleaning solution his mother used to disinfect every corner of the room. his parents are turning it into a guest bedroom, he knows.
he’s leaving home. it feels more real now, more than ever.
he has to tell jeongguk.
that friday, yoongi finds jeongguk sitting at the base of a tree—in the same place where they’d met for the second time, now their designated spot. his wings are wrapped around himself like a blanket, and he leans over a flashlight yoongi had left with him a few weeks ago, clicking the switch on and off. the light is directed right into his eyes.
yoongi snorts in amusement. “what are you doing?”
jeongguk glances up at him. he smiles with happiness to see yoongi. “i was getting bored without you.”
yoongi sits beside him, and jeongguk leans into his side with a pleased sigh. they sit together quietly for a moment.
they both snap their mouths shut. jeongguk giggles, and it makes yoongi smile, even as his heart clenches. and he knows his news will be a real mood killer, and he doesn’t want to ruin the night just yet, so he gestures for jeongguk to go on.
jeongguk sits up straight with a hesitant grin, his wings fluttering in excitement or nervousness, yoongi isn’t sure. “i have something i want to show you.”
yoongi tilts his head, a confused noise slipping out of him as jeongguk leaps to his feet and reaches for his hands, pulling yoongi up with him. jeongguk leads him into the brush, yoongi sticking close to his side as they walk.
after a while of maneuvering over roots and under branches, they reach a small clearing, one that jeongguk has brought yoongi to before, where a small creek bubbles gently, reflecting the light of the moon off its surface.
jeongguk moves to stand in front of him and shifts his weight nervously. “yoongi.”
“what is it?” yoongi asks, slightly uneasy, but curious.
jeongguk doesn’t say anything more. he turns away, and yoongi tries to peer around at the side of his head, but jeongguk’s wings block his view. then, he begins to glow.
the glow increases to a flash—yoongi squints his eyes shut—bright but gone within a second. yoongi opens his squinted eyes and gasps. he stands stock still, gaping at the back of jeongguk’s head.
the wide, accommodating rip in the back of jeongguk’s shirt is still there, but his wings are gone.
jeongguk doesn’t face him yet. he speaks, soft and sincere, but nervous, “yoongi… i was thinking the other night… that i really enjoy your company. more than anything or anyone. i want to spend more time with you, a lot of time with you, outside of these woods. i want to spend time with you in your world. i—i want to be with you. as much as i can.”
yoongi’s lower lip quivers. “jeongguk…”
“and so i thought i should show you… another form of myself.”
jeongguk slowly turns then, and steals the breath out of yoongi’s chest.
he looks similar to his true form. his facial structure is the same, but his horns and wings are gone. instead of pale grey, his skin his a healthy, glowing tan. instead of red, yoongi is met with warm, brown eyes, wide and glittering in the moonlight.
he’s beautiful. jeongguk is always beautiful.
yoongi buries his face into his hands.
sensing yoongi’s distress, jeongguk jumps forward in concern, and his palms are so warm around the thin of yoongi’s wrists as he tugs at them, trying to pull them away from his face. yoongi sniffs loudly, and it tears a wounded sound out of jeongguk’s chest.
“yoongi? what’s wrong? i’m—did i do something? please, look at me. yoongi.”
jeongguk’s frantic, yet still so gentle voice speaks close to yoongi’s ear. not satisfied with yoongi’s lack of response, nor with the tremble of his shoulders, jeongguk tugs yoongi into a hug, wrapping his limbs securely around the human, as if protecting him. yoongi feels safe in the cradle of his arms. jeongguk combs his fingers through yoongi’s hair, and it’s a sweet gesture that hurts as much as it feels good.
it makes it so much harder to mumble out the words, but yoongi does. he has to. “i’m leaving, jeongguk.”
jeongguk’s body tenses against his, but he quickly forces himself to relax, trying to understand. “you’re… leaving?”
yoongi nods against his shoulder.
“to new york. for university.”
“oh,” jungkook breathes.
“yeah,” yoongi sniffles, pressing his face into the crook of jeongguk’s neck. “i’m sorry i didn’t say anything sooner, i just…”
“i wanted to enjoy my time with you,” yoongi tells him weakly.
jeongguk holds him closer, digging his nose into yoongi’s hair and breathing him in. “this is… this isn’t going how i thought it would.”
jeongguk huffs out a sad laugh. “confessing to you.”
yoongi’s breathing stutters. confessing to you. the phrase is so like jeongguk, sweet and simple. yoongi’s eyes well up, and his heart thuds heavy in his chest. this isn’t how he wanted this to go, either. not at all.
“i’m sorry,” yoongi whispers regretfully. “i didn’t want to make you sad. i don’t want to leave you.”
“i don’t want you to go, either,” jungkook murmurs sadly. “i… yoongi, i really... really like you.”
yoongi sinks against him, hugs him tight. “jeongguk...”
“you don’t have to say anything,” jeongguk interrupts steadily, though yoongi hears the crack in his voice. “i know you’re young, just barely taking off on your own, and i…” a weak chuckle. “i’m an immortal mythical creature. i’m patient, and i have more than a few years to spare. i’ll wait for you. if you… if that’s what you want?”
“i don’t want you to be sad,” yoongi mumbles, curling his fingers through the hair at the nape of jeongguk’s neck. it’s soft to the touch. “i don’t want you to be alone again. i want to be with you, too.”
jeongguk sighs, a heavy sound that digs at yoongi’s heart. he drops his head, nuzzling at the line of yoongi’s shoulder. “i… i would go with you if i could.”
yoongi sucks in a sharp breath. “can’t you?”
jeongguk stiffens. he leans back to meet yoongi’s gaze. there’s a muted glimmer of hope, there in his eyes, though yoongi can tell he’s trying to shut it down. “w-what?”
yoongi hesitates. “come with me? i—i know you don’t like being in this form for too long, that you like your freedom, but i have a dorm to myself, so you can be—u-um—natural when it’s just us. and i’m sure there are some woods nearby for you, or—i don’t know… a park, at least?”
“you’d want me to… go with you?” jeongguk blinks. his eyes look wet.
yoongi nods, curling his fingers into jeongguk’s shirt.
“what about your friends? yoongi, it’s risky for them to know about what i am. what will we tell them?”
yoongi shrugs. “i don’t know. maybe we can say you’re the son of an old family friend, whom my parents asked to keep an eye on me while i’m in the city?”
jeongguk lets out a breath. “that… could work. and, actually…”
“there’s a witch i know… who lives in the city. we’re not close, but we get along well. he owns an apartment building—rents it out to people like me. i wonder if he'd let me stay with there if i offer to work for him.”
“what’s his name?” yoongi asks.
“jimin, and his familiar goes by v.”
yoongi chews on his lip. “that might be more comfortable than hiding in my dorm… listen, jeongguk, i don’t want you to feel like you have to do this. i just want you to be happy.”
jeongguk presses their foreheads together. “i’m happy when i’m with you.”
their noses bump softly. yoongi runs his fingertips across the swell of jeongguk’s cheek. his stomach flutters when jeongguk sighs at his touch.
“me too,” yoongi whispers, his breath fanning over jeongguk’s lips. they part, and he’s hypnotized. “i’m happy with you. i… i really, really like you, too.”
jeongguk beams. when he leans forward, yoongi meets him halfway. their lips press together gently, chaste and sweet. after a few minutes of soft kissing and softer touches, they pull apart.
“we’ll figure it out, okay?” jeongguk whispers against yoongi’s mouth.
yoongi nods. “we will. i promise.”
jeongguk kisses him again. and again. and again. yoongi isn’t able to resist the soft swell of his lips, drawn in over and over.
like a moth to a flame. except, it’s not destruction and pain awaiting him. it’s only good things, and yoongi is ready for them.