The email arrives on a cold morning a month and a week before All Hallows’ Eve. It’s short and elegant, nothing like the babbling messes Jimin gets on the regular, and yet he gapes at the words on his computer, completely baffled. His workload gets increasingly heavier the closer it gets to October, and it isn’t surprising to get inundated in emails around the end of September, particularly the ones that are requesting a ritual of some kind for that one night where spirits and energy are abound.
He’d expected a full inbox, but he’d never expected an email from him.
He thinks back to the last time he and Jeongguk had spoken. Vienna, somewhere in the late 1910s, maybe? Jimin had tried to fool his mind into forgetting the exact date, and had failed. Definitely after the first war… 1920, then. There had been a park and snow and Jeongguk had kissed Jimin against the cold railings of a bridge; small, wet kisses that left Jimin trembling in his arms like a fluttering leaf. He remembers Jeongguk’s gloved hands around his waist, steady on the curves of his torso, holding onto Jimin as he dipped him like a Victorian hero on his way to war.
And there had been the sad goodbyes before they left that day, each their own way. Jimin’s pearly tears on Jeongguk’s expensive coat and Jeongguk’s whispers against Jimin’s warm skin—a kiss on his neck, where he’d never failed to mark Jimin in the three months they’d spent away from the world, away from their responsibilities.
“I don’t want to leave you,” He’d said that dark night, sharp teeth grazing Jimin’s skin like tiny daggers, right over his pulse point. “I’m leaving my heart with you, and I’ll come for it again. Keep it safe.”
“I feel like you stole that line from somewhere,” Jimin had whispered back, eyes closed. He hand’t wanted to meet Jeongguk’s eyes in case they rendered him weak. “But I don’t care. I wish you’d press those cheesy words all over me until you’re out of breath.”
Jeongguk, dark eyes shining red in the moonlight, sad smile in place. “You know that can’t happen, hyung.”
It had hurt to leave Jeongguk on the bridge, pale and strong and beautiful (arrogant at times, funny all the time)… everything Jimin wanted. Jimin had travelled to Australia for research and Jeongguk had left for his new position in England, still chagrined that he’d been ushered into it without his consent, but following his innate sense of duty to his clan.
And Jimin. He’d been so stupid, so naive that he’d believed Jeongguk’s lies all over again, as if those words hadn’t passed Jeongguk’s sinful mouth about ten times in the three hundred years they’ve known each other. Hyung, it’ll only be for a few months, I promise, uttered against Jimin’s lips about fifty years into their relationship. Seokjin is making me go but I’ll come back, I swear, whispered into Jimin’s ear a few years later.
And that day a week before their separation, well into the third month of their little escapade away from everything that kept them busy back home, when Jeongguk had received a letter from his clan, calling him back for immediate duty.
“Jiminie hyung,” he’d said, mouth at Jimin’s temple. “I have to go but I will look for you again. I will find you like I always do.”
Jimin had waited—stupid, so stupid—and nothing had happened. By the time the new millennium had come along, he’d been too swarmed with work to even remember Jeongguk’s name on the daily.
He’d forgotten about him—really, he had—until now.
Dear Jimin, the email starts. Jimin can’t imagine Jeongguk sitting at a computer to write this. He’d always seemed so above technology, he’d refused to use phones for the first ten years after they were invented because he said they cheapened his words, made them less heartfelt. He’s so pretentious (and Jimin had loved him for it).
I’m writing to you from a small cybercafé in London called Cups & Circuits—a terrible name if you ask me, just as detestable as their coffee. If you ever find yourself in London, please hesitate multiple times before coming here. The Internet speed isn’t worth it.
You must be surprised by my email, after all, we haven’t communicated in close to a century at this point, long years that have separated us in every way. Nevertheless, I require a witch’s services and couldn’t think of anyone better for such a high profile job than the High Warlock of Busan.
I’ll be arriving in Korea next week and would appreciate an urgent meeting to discuss the situation and the according payment.
Jeon Jeongguk of the Clan of Shadows
He still writes like the eighteenth century gentleman he had been when Jimin had met him for the first time. It would be endearing if Jimin wasn’t in shock and also still pissed at him for leaving him all these years with Jeongguk’s cold, still heart hanging from his hands, waiting for its forgetful owner.
Jimin has a short debate with his brain. He could delete the email, therefore erasing Jeongguk from his life again at least for a couple of decades, or he could reply and fall into Jeongguk’s arms again like the idiot he’s always been. There’s no doubt that if he sees Jeongguk again they’ll fall into old habits, and theirs include lots of kissing and romantic dinners and rolling naked all over the place.
Jimin is four hundred years old, he is the High Warlock of Busan. He can do this.
He rests his shaking fingers on the keyboard and begins to type. Jeongguk, he writes—no adorations, nothing that could give away the weakness of his knees when he writes the two syllables of his name.
Set the date and place.
Jeongguk chooses a BBQ restaurant of all places, a small venue in Gangnam that Jimin has heard of before but never visited.
It’s suspiciously empty and quiet when Jimin pushes one of the big glass doors open and takes a careful step inside. The dim lights bathe the room in an ethereal glow Jimin knows quite well—the intimate setting for one of Jeongguk’s carefully planned dinners. He used to prefer candlelit little bistros, but it seems he’s finally decided to modernize. First the cybercafé and now a Korean BBQ place… de doesn’t know what that says about him, now.
“Park Jimin ssi,” A voice to his right startles him out of his thoughts. The waiter peers at him patiently, waiting for Jimin’s brain to catch up. His eyes are red. “Your table is this way, if you could accompany me…”
“Ah, yeah.” Jimin clears his throat, slightly embarrassed. “Of course.”
He follows the waiter into a more secluded part of the restaurant to a small table for two hidden behind a screen. The red-eyed waiter flashes him a mouthful of sharp teeth and leaves Jimin to take a seat. Ah, so that’s why Jeongguk had asked to meet here. His clan probably either owns or has business with the restaurant. That explains a lot, actually.
Seeing as Jeongguk hasn’t arrived yet (unusual, Jeongguk is as punctual as anyone can be), Jimin sets on replying to the few emails he still has on his inbox. There’s a long essay from a lycan asking for temporary immunity to silver, a coded little message from a fellow witch in need of advice, and a short, almost unintelligible mess from what Jimin assumes to be a fairy stuck in its small form. They probably jumped from key to key to type the entire thing. He chuckles at the image.
“I missed that.” Jeongguk says. “Your laugh like twinkling bells, your eyes like half-moons.”
Jimin almost jumps out of the chair in surprise, eyes focusing on the man suddenly seated on the chair in front of him. Eyes and hair, dark; lips and skin, fair—Jeongguk never fails to send Jimin’s senses haywire. And Jimin looks at him, observes every single detail and categorizes them pre-Vienna and post-Vienna, the latter with a wince of sorrow.
Before: his eyes (Jimin’s favourite thing about Jeongguk), his thin lips (sweeter than they look).
Jeongguk never looks the same every time they find each other after a long period of time, but his aura is always the same: a dull grey floating around his inky, slicked back hair like a halo of light. It weighs heavy on his leather-clad shoulders, wisps around his slim, long fingers as he threads them together and rests his elbows on the table. And oh, there are black lines adorning them now, like vines climbing up sturdy branches. That he hadn’t expected at all, how those fingers that Jeongguk had buried in Jimin’s hair, pressed into his skin, pressed inside him, slow and deliberate and knowing, are now adorned with pretty strokes depicting the moon and the stars.
Jimin’s tongue feels heavy inside his cottony mouth.
Jeongguk grins, lovely doe eyes glittering with hidden stars. “Hello, hyung.”
Jimin feels his cheeks heat up. “Are we going to have this conversation again? You’re older than me by a good century and a half.”
The dreary smoke around Jeongguk turns silver and his smile turns kinder, fond. “You were older than me when you descended.”
“I was born a hundred and fifty years after you, Jeongguk.” Jimin rolls his eyes. It’s too damn easy to fall back into this banter, as if neither ever left. “If anything, you’re my hyung.”
Jeongguk grimaces: a soft dip on the corner of his mouth, a small scrunch of the nose. He hates being reminded of how old he is, as if he doesn’t use his seniority over everyone else whenever he can. Never Jimin, though. For some reason he likes pretending he is the younger one, the less experienced one. Jimin figures it’s his way of letting go of the pressures of being an important figure in his clan.
The waiter from before approaches them with another smile—much politer this time, probably because of Jeongguk’s presence—and offers them a bottle of liquor and two tall glasses. Jimin’s first thought is that it’s an overly large bottle of soju, after all, they’re sitting at a Korean BBQ restaurant. Turns out he should’ve remembered that Jeongguk likes his champagne.
“Dom Pérignon, 1996.”
Jimin’s eyes go wide, mouth slack. “I—You remembered.”
Jeongguk gazes at him, one hand out to receive the bottle. “How could I not? You kept mumbling about it all night. Jeongguk-ah, I saw it in the cards! In exactly a hundred years, buy me a Dom Pérignon, vintage. It’ll be worth thousands by 2020.”
“Paris, 1896.” Jimin murmurs.
“Our twentieth date.” Jeongguk adds gently, and Jimin wants to throw himself over the table so he can catch his lips with his own. “I rented out the Eiffel Tower for you and all you wanted to talk about was your breakthrough on fortune telling. Wise of you to check on the odds of champagne as profitable investment, hyung. I’m fifty thousand dollars richer now.”
Jimin receives the glass, trying to rein himself in. Jeongguk hasn’t even mentioned the reason for their meeting. He can’t give in that easily.
He takes a small sip of the champagne. It’s as wonderful as he’d predicted it would be. “Well, not anymore, you’re not.”
What he finds in Jeongguk’s eyes is too soft, too vulnerable. I still am, they say, straying to Jimin’s mouth.
Jimin needs to steer the conversation to business, otherwise he’s going to burst into tears.
“It’s good.” He says with a short smile that he hopes gives nothing away. “So, how about you tell me why we’re here.”
Jeongguk blinks. “We’re having dinner.”
“You don’t eat, Jeongguk. And this isn’t a friendly hangout between colleagues.”
“It could be.”
That makes Jimin pause. His eyes narrow, focusing once again on Jeongguk’s fluttering aura. The shiny silver from before has dimmed anew, none of its glowing tendrils in sight. And it’s turning darker and darker the more they stall, silence brewing between them.
“I’ll tell them to bring you the menu,” Jeongguk says, straightening up, suddenly nervous. “Order anything you want.”
Jimin squints at him, trying to understand the change. “The champagne’s fine. Just tell me what this is about.”
“Given that this… whatever it is you called me for, is the reason you felt compelled to email me, yeah, you bet I’m damn curious.”
Finally, Jeongguk sighs. “I—please, hyung. Please. I’ll pay you anything you want… for a soul binding ceremony.”
The glass in Jimin’s hand almost meets the cold, hard floor. Is Jimin hallucinating? Did Jeongguk just ask—almost beg—for a soul binding ceremony, a concept he’s expressed his disdain for multiple times over the years? No, Jimin must’ve heard wrong, he’s still shaken by seeing Jeongguk after so long that he’s hearing things.
(Maybe an aching, hopeful part of his is trying to trick him. It wouldn’t be the first time.)
Except… Jeongguk looks strangely anxious, almost… guilty? His aura, now a dark charcoal shade, has started to give off a slightly burned smell, an appalling departure from Jeongguk’s usual sandalwood scent and a clear sign of distress.
So maybe Jimin isn’t crazy or hearing impaired.
Still unsure of how to reply, he takes a long sip of the champagne and decides to start small. “For whom?”
Jeongguk’s eyes are a penetrating dark red now, gone is the sweet brown in Jimin’s dreams. “So you will do it?”
“I’m not saying yes, yet.” Jimin tells him. “Just answer my question.”
Jeongguk bites his lip, apprehensive. “Me.”
Dammit. Of course it is.
“You chose a poor time to ask for something like this, Jeongguk. You must know that this process takes over three months to prepare for and it must be done on All Hallows’ Eve.” Jimin says, setting his glass on the table parallel to Jeongguk’s untouched one. Another endearing thing about Jeongguk: even if he doesn’t want to drink, he’ll still accompany Jimin with his own glass. It makes Jimin’s heart squeeze painfully.
Jeongguk looks away. “I know this is terribly short notice. But I need it to happen this year, Jimin.” Jimin watches his fingers tighten, nails digging into his porcelain hands. “I can’t—It has to happen next month.”
“You do realize that would give me a month and a couple of days.”
“Yes.” Jeongguk replies, eyes on Jimin. “And I know that’s more than enough for you. It has to be you, hyung.”
It has to be you. That’s not what you said the last time, Jimin wants to tell him, that’s not what you said when I offered with my heart and body bared for you.
He struggles trying to find a reason why he shouldn’t do it with Jeongguk asking so solemnly, so seriously. Objectively, this is huge job and a big opportunity for Jimin to tune his powers and push them further. The problem is that it’s Jeongguk asking him for this, when he’d refused Jimin so vehemently, so forcefully, before.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to separate himself from his feelings for Jeongguk. Perhaps he should seize this moment fate is gifting him to maybe, just maybe… truly forget? There’s a sting in his chest that thinks otherwise.
“Fine.” Jimin says, mouth dry. He feels a little dizzy. “I’ll, ah—I’ll send you the list of things I need. I’ll look for a couple of them myself, but I know you have way more pull that I do here in Seoul. You’ll probably get them quicker.”
Jeongguk nods enthusiastically, dark hair bouncing with every movement. His aura is lightening, as is the glimmer in his eyes. He looks so young all of a sudden, and Jimin is reminded that he’d been turned on the eve of his twenty third birthday. A young English-Korean, the illegitimate son of a powerful British lord and a wealthy Korean woman, daughter of a merchant. And he’d been a mere twenty three years old when he had been left to die and that guy had saved him.
Jimin downs the few last droplets of champagne and sighs. He should leave now.
Probably getting an impression of Jimin’s thoughts (one of the many gifts that came with his nature), Jeongguk’s right hand shoots across the table to close itself around Jimin’s left. Though the gesture had been forceful, his touch is gentle and soft, as if he were holding the most precious piece of jade. It sends a wave of goosebumps all over Jimin’s arm.
“Jiminie hyung,” Please don’t do this to me, not in that voice. “We haven’t discussed payment.”
“If it works,” Jimin tells him, sliding his hand free. “We’ll talk about it, then.”
That night he gets back and he lays on the floor of his living room and looks at the ceiling.
It has to be you.
Jimin had been barely a hundred years old, a child by the undead’s standards, when he’d met a dashing, enigmatic vampire on a warm Busan night in 1745 during the Joseon Dynasty.
Though young, Jimin had already garnered a reputation within the underworldians of Busan as a reliable, talented witch on his way to bigger things, which is why Jeongguk had sought him out during one of his tours of Korea after a particularly indulgent blood party.
He’d knocked on Jimin’s door on the wee hours of the night, unstable on his feet, eyes barely open and blood-drunk out of his mind. Jimin hadn’t recognized him then, of course, he’d merely been a mystery and a contradiction: a Korean man wearing winter western clothes in the humid Busan night. If the acrid smell of blood and the greyish aura surrounding him hadn’t been enough proof of Jeongguk’s vampirism, his choice of attire had certainly been so.
“Tonic. Please.” Jeongguk had whispered through numb lips, and Jimin, feeling a sudden bout of energy, had rushed forward to catch him right before Jeongguk’s knees had failed him.
He doesn’t like admitting it even now, but Jimin had nursed him to health with a strange, somewhat desperate instinct uncharacteristic of him. Even before falling in love with him, Jeongguk had inspired a strange tenderness in Jimin, a strong sense of affinity with him, a need to protect. The slope of his marble nose, his thin, red lips, the gentle curve of his eyebrows… and his wandering, wide eyes, a beautiful brown rather than the standard red—they’d made him look so human and vulnerable.
Jimin had prepared the tonic as efficiently as possible and had made him drink it, one hand supporting Jeongguk’s head and the other dangerously close to his lips. Jeongguk had struggled to gulp down the peppery tonic, but he’d done it. Never one to give up at first try, never one to give up at all.
He’d fallen asleep right after and they’d had to spend the night together in Jimin’s tiny house, laying side by side on the washed out wood of the floor, a breath’s space between them.
The following day Jimin had woken up to a headache and a blank space where Jeongguk had lain. In his place, right by Jimin’s nose, laid a piece of parchment with a couple of sentences written with a surprisingly messy scrawl.
You have my thanks.
Come by the Dalbit Inn in Haeundae at your earliest convenience to receive payment for your services.
Jeon Jeongguk of the Clan of Shadows
Yoongi hops into Jimin’s bed early the next morning.
“You’re back.” Jimin says, holding a yawn. He rolls onto his back with a soft hum and finally lets out a long yawn until his jaw is cracking with the effort. He’s starting to feel the extra champagne he had the night before after his rendezvous with Jeongguk. The bottle is still somewhere in the bedroom, empty. “We need to talk.”
He feels Yoongi curl himself into a tight, black ball of fur on Jimin’s chest. “Can we not do that right now?” Yoongi groans. “I just came back and I had a terrible night.”
He sounds upset, far crankier that usual. Hoseok, then.
“That bad?” Jimin asks, still refusing to open his eyes. “Did you guys fight again?”
“He’s just being an idiot,” Yoongi mumbles, voice muffled against Jimin’s shirt. “He knows we can’t meet on Halloween cause you always have work.”
“It’s an important date for him.”
“I know that.” Yoongi groans again. “Can’t do anything, though. There’s work, right? That’s what you wanna talk about.”
Jimin swallows. He wants to go back to sleep, he wants to burrow himself deeper in the mess of blankets on his bed until he’s too deep under the mountain of fabric that he forgets he exists.
“Yeah.” He says instead. He needs to get it over with. “Jeongguk asked for a soul binding.”
Yoongi’s claws pinch him through his shirt.
“Hyung! What the fuck!” Jimin straightens up until he’s seated on the bed, hand over the small holes Yoongi had left in his shirt. He glares at Yoongi in his feline form, his usually rich red aura now a dark maroon reflecting his anger.
Hair almost rising up in fury, Yoongi hisses at him. “Jeon Jeongguk? You met that asshole again?”
“Jimin!” Yoongi’s pupils have turned to slits in his amber eyes. “Please, not again. You promised me to not do this, especially after he fucking abandoned you after the Vienna thing.”
“We’ve been through this already. No one abandoned me. He had to go to England for work and I had to leave for Australia for research.”
“And he said he’d come back, and what? It’s been almost exactly a century.”
Jimin sighs. It’ll be a century on November 16th. “Hyung, I know. He contacted me on a professional matter and I’ve decided to take the job.”
Yoongi scoffs. “Please. You two stopped being professional when you fucked him back in Versailles. I bet you didn’t even give him a rate.”
Shame falls on Jimin like a bucket of freezing water. There’s a faint buzz on the back of his mind that he doesn’t want to decipher. He knows it’s yelling that Yoongi is right, that Jimin had been stupid enough to find himself trapped by Jeongguk’s pretty words, how considerate he had been, the way he’d wooed Jimin like he’s done so many times before. He’s an expert in Jimin, he knows what makes him tick, what makes him melt like chocolate on hot skin.
But this is also an exercise in restraint. If Jimin can get this done without involving himself with Jeongguk again it will feel like a new chapter is opening up in front of him. He can finally give up on the frankly absurd dreams of a future with Jeongguk that he’d been harbouring in secret for centuries. He can move on.
He reaches for Yoongi, somewhat scared he will be rejected, but is relieved when Yoongi allows him to pull his soft body into Jimin’s arms. He hugs Yoongi towards him like he never allows Jimin to do when he’s in his human form. Yoongi nuzzles him and Jimin nuzzles back, looking for comfort.
“I’m doing this, hyung.” Jimin tells him. “It has to be me, anyway. I don’t think any other living witch has successfully done it in the past three hundred years.”
“Why does he want this now.” Yoongi says, still on edge. “You asked him if he wanted it years ago and he threw a tantrum over it. How dare you, someone who’s loved him for ages, want his soul to be saved from hell, huh? Fucking idiot.”
A memory in the dark places of his mind: he and Jeongguk on a luxurious bed at Jeongguk’s state in England, wonderfully naked. Jimin laying on Jeongguk’s chest, a kiss on his clavicles. Jeongguk’s laugh against his hair, a kiss on his forehead. And Jimin—again, so stupid— recounting the ceremony from a week before, his first successful soul binding ever.
“Would you ever consider it?” Jimin had asked, nose full of Jeongguk’s happy scent: sandalwood. “The ceremony?”
Jeongguk had gone rigid, had shouted and scared Jimin half to death. “Never!” He had screamed, eyes red and wild, skin turning greyish and aura black as the pits of hell. He’d looked like a monster, so unlike the man Jimin had embraced just an hour ago, the man Jimin loved. “And please never ask that again!”
Angry and distraught, and he’d still said please.
They hadn’t spoken for a good ten years after the incident, and then Jeongguk had come back with apologies and tears and Jimin had forgiven him because of that little word he’d uttered in his panic. They’d silently agreed to never speak of it again.
Yoongi’s eyes are wide and all-knowing. He’d comforted Jimin back then and he’s been doing it for years now. He observes Jimin for a minute and then places his soft paw on Jimin’s cheek, catches the wetness that Jimin had failed to notice.
“Okay,” He says. “If this is what you need.”
Things we will need for the ceremony (I have marked the things I already have (*), the things I need to get (**) and the ones you must procure yourself (***), accordingly):
- Athame *
- Chalice *
- Wand *
- Fairy tears **
- Wormwood **
- Hyssop **
- Devil’s Claw **
- Live three-eyed chicken **
- Exactly 1 pint of blood from your sire ***
- Exactly 1 pint of blood from you ***
- The horns of an adult male goat ***
Let me know if there’s any trouble acquiring them.
He hasn’t performed a soul binding in a long time, not since Hoseok on All Hallows’ Eve 1864.
Hoseok had insisted on becoming Jimin’s lab rat, basically. He had been a relatively new vampire, barely a hundred and fifty years old, and too much of a romantic for his own good.
“If it works it means my soul will be able to meet Yoongi hyung’s soul,” He’d said the night he’d asked Jimin for the opportunity. He’d smiled that bright, open-mouthed grin of his, his easy-going nature pushing him to bring Jimin some comfort, to make him feel okay with his decision. “That’s worth possibly dying to me, Jiminie. I’m sure you understand.”
They’d decided to tell Yoongi in case something went wrong, and to not tell Jeongguk for the exact same reason. As a new member of Jeongguk’s clan, Hoseok would’ve had to ask for a permission that would get vehemently denied, anyway.
The ceremony had taken place on a dark night full of icy fog and fallen leaves, and Hoseok had laid on the pentagram fully naked and pretending he wasn’t blushing from the tip of his ears to his toes as Jimin painted blood around him. He’d cracked jokes here and there, tried to ease the atmosphere by flirting with Yoongi whenever he could, expression of complete wonder overtaking his face.
It hadn’t been the first time he’d seen Yoongi’s human form, of course. But they’d gone for over ten years without seeing each other at all and the feeling of peace and belonging was written all over him in big, shining letters. They said: I’m home and with you.
“I missed your pretty face, hyung.” Hoseok had whispered, eyes on Yoongi who knelt with Hoseok’s head in his lap, lithe fingers caressing Hoseok’s sweaty hair. “Your eyes, your nose… your lips.”
Jimin had coughed, uncomfortable. “Hoseok hyung, I know this is very overwhelming, but I really don’t wanna see you with an erection so please, if you could…”
“Behave.” Yoongi had told both of them, a blush on the high points of his cheeks. He’d been shaking and Jimin had noticed.
Hoseok had recovered his soul after an arduous ceremony, and the look of complete yearning (love, fondness, disbelief) in his face when he’d set eyes on Yoongi had been ten times more intense than before, when he’d been soulless. It had been enough to fill Jimin with warmth, with longing.
He’d wondered, for a fleeting moment, if Jeongguk would ever look at him like that, like he was worth losing his immortality for.
Jimin spends the entirety of the next two days digging through mountains of his old journals in search of his notes on soul binding. He sits in between large piles of books and old scriptures placed around him like a crown, and tries to remember the exact process he’d followed for three months in preparation for Hoseok’s ceremony. He looks up the lunar calendar for the current year and tries to adjust the ritual.
He hadn’t lied to Jeongguk. If he’d wanted to have this done, then he should’ve contacted Jimin earlier. Years ago, before Jimin had succeeded, the standard ritual for a soul binding took six months. Jimin had been able to shorten it to three months because he was possessed by a highly ranked demon and therefore dealt with immense levels of power.
Now he had a month—a fucking month.
The last time, after Hoseok had reclaimed his soul and he and Yoongi had left to celebrate somewhere more private, Jimin had slept for a week straight. Gaining back his energy was a pain better spent unconscious, and so he had practiced a simple spell on himself, and he’d slept exhaustion away until Jeongguk had kissed him awake.
Jimin had blinked owlishly and seen that Jeongguk’s eyes and cheeks had been wet, his hands had trembled faintly as they held Jimin’s face, thumbs caressing his jaw soothingly, lovingly. There was panic in those starry, brown eyes, but Jimin had been far too tired to decipher what they meant.
“I thought… Jimin, I thought…” Jeongguk had whispered, and Jimin had been too groggy to hear the rest. He’d slowly come back to his senses, and by then Jeongguk had been back to his usual self: playful and cocky, eyes and hands steady.
They’d spent the night together wrapped up in each others arms, panting against silken sheets, whispering words of love and endearment. And then Jimin had opened his mouth and ruined it by asking about Jeongguk’s thoughts on a possible ceremony for himself.
Jimin shakes his head. Enough. He needs to leave that in the past.
He picks up his iPad and stares at the lunar chart. He would have to travel Jeju before the New Moon on October 16 for a moonlight ritual, to ask for enough power for the ceremony. He writes a reminder on his phone: get a ferry ticket and ask Taehyung about his contact in Jeju. He could always rent a hotel room if the Jeju fairies prove to be difficult, since they’re known for being quite territorial and not allowing people to stay on their area without supervision but he still needs permission to access their sacred lakes and waterfalls.
There’s a short knock on the door, and Jimin looks up to find Yoongi looking at him. For once, he’s in his human form.
Yoongi raises his arm and shows Jimin the bag in his hand. “Got the fried chicken.”
“Great. Thank you, hyung.”
“Come out soon, okay?”
Dear Jiminie hyung,
I shall take care of the fairy tears and herbs. Do not contact Taehyung.
Jeon Jeongguk of the Clan of Shadows
Jimin calls Taehyung eleven times. He doesn’t pick up.
He stands in the middle of Seoul Forest and tries to remember the way to Taehyung’s tree. He at least remembers what the tree looks like—a particularly tall ginkgo with a dark brown bench right under it.
The first time Jimin had met him, Taehyung had bragged for five minutes straight about having his own bench. According to him, the other fairies had constantly bullied him before the bench had been installed, calling his tree ugly and unremarkable, boasting about their own trees’ carvings from desperate lovers or their colourful graffiti from street artists. And Taehyung had had nothing for years until the workers had placed the bench right in front of his trunk and suddenly he’d become Mr. Popular. That was probably when the park was being constructed, but Jimin refuses to shatter his friend’s illusion like that.
He finally finds it at the end of a lonely path, vibrant yellow leaves waving in the wind like a welcome. He places a hand on the robust trunk and closes his eyes, summoning his magic onto the palm of his hand.
“Taehyung,” Jimin says, closing his eyes. “Is your phone fucking dead?”
“Why is that the first thing you thought?” Taehyung replies, nonchalant. His deep voice floats around Jimin like in a dream, hazy and soft. “Maybe I didn’t wanna talk to you.”
His feet are off the floor, he feels like he’s soaring somewhere in the sky, weightless, like a feather suspended in mid-air. It’s a strangely satisfying sensation, but Jimin has never fully enjoyed it. It’s too unsettling.
“Let me in.” He whispers with intent.
“You are in.”
Jimin frowns, confused. “No, I’m not.”
“Uh… yes, you are, Jiminie. Look at me.”
Jimin’s eyes fly open.
He’s standing in the middle of a circular room with a wooden floor and wooden walls. It has no windows; its only source of light is a bright green mushroom as tall as Jimin is now, its glow bathing the inside of the ginkgo in a surreal emerald hue. Sitting atop the mushroom, Taehyung rolls his eyes.
Jimin lets out a groan. “Why do I never notice?”
Taehyung raises his eyebrows. “Because I don’t want you to. It’s fun for me.”
His hair has turned an ashy orange now that it’s Autumn, and his wings have dimmed into a pale, almost translucent yellow. He’s barefoot and crosslegged as he examines Jimin over his glasses, rumpled clothes dirty with what seems to be oil paint and thinner, judging by the pungent smell wafting Jimin’s way. He looks like a weird mix between his human and natural forms—Jimin must’ve interrupted his time at the studio.
“So,” Taehyung says, jumping off the mushroom and landing gracefully on his feet right in front of Jimin. He crosses his arms. “Is this about Jeongguk?”
Jimin clenches his jaw. “Why did he tell me to not contact you?”
“Because he knows I’m your primary dealer and he knows that if I know that you’re getting stuff for him, I won’t help.” Taehyung pauses. “That was too many ‘knows’.”
“Wait, wait, what do you mean?” Jimin asks him, hands on his waist. He doesn’t understand. “Why wouldn’t you help Jeongguk, he’s your friend too!”
“He was my friend. Now he’s just my best friend’s annoying and stupid ex who continuously hurts my best friend even he isn’t here.”
“You haven’t complained about him all these years, why are you pissed now?” Jimin asks. “And you were his friend long before you were mine. We—we weren’t even together when you and I met.”
“Time doesn’t matter, Jiminie.” Taehyung’s eyes are softer now. “You and I could’ve met yesterday and we’d still be best friends. You know that.”
Of course Taehyung is right, but Jimin doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction when he’s being particularly annoying.
“I took the job.” Jimin tells him, hands clasped together in an effort to stop their trembling. “He offered and I could’ve said no, Tae. There’s a reason I—I just have to do this. I can’t live the rest of eternity pining over someone who clearly doesn’t want me back.”
The words, spoken and in the open, hurt far more than Jimin had initially expected. They let his heart fall to pieces on the floor of Taehyung’s home, exposed, with edges as sharp as broken glass waiting to cut whoever dares pick them up. He feels infuriating tears threatening to spill over the corners of his eyes and he swallows, an attempt to steady his emotions before they burst in flames.
There’s a flutter of wings and Jimin finds himself enveloped by Taehyung’s long arms, encasing him like a butterfly in its cocoon. His own arms come up to return the hug, small fingers clutching at Taehyung’s dirty shirt, grounding himself.
“Okay, fine.” Taehyung exhales against Jimin’s cheek, breath warm and smelling of tea leaves. “Whatever you need. Just… promise me you’ll come back here if Jeongguk hurts you again. We can finally kill him this time, I have a contact in Gwanju that sells sacred stakes, the kind the hunters use.”
Jimin’s laughter surprises them both. They part, hands still on each other.
“Jeongguk’s demon is one half of the scale of binary,” Jimin reminds him. “A stake is like a toothpick to him. Killing him would require an entire ceremony and a couple of human sacrifices, and I really don’t wanna do that. It’s so 1648.”
“Should I be scared that you know this?” Taehyung asks, a mischievous smile taking over his lips. “Is this your plan? Are you just gonna kill him?”
Jimin rolls his eyes. “Every respectable witch knows this, Tae. Killing cold ones is part of our apprenticeship. When I descended, Jeongguk was already a known name across continents. Of course we all talked about how to kill him, there was a race for it before I even met him.”
“But you never even tried it, not even after you found out who he was.” Taehyung adds, eyebrows disappearing under his overgrown fringe. His eyes are like dark honey as he looks at Jimin, worry evident behind the lighthearted banter.
“Well,” Jimin grimaces. “I wasn’t about to murder the man I loved, was I?”
Yoongi comes back from Hoseok’s place with a pleased hum.
“So you’re good?” Jimin asks him, one hand over the pot of ramyun on the stove. The water starts boiling immediately.
Yoongi jumps onto the couch, transforming into his feline self as he does so. He lands with a soft thump and then stretches his entire body until he’s a long, black shadow on the brown leather.
“Hmm. Define ‘good’.” He replies, amber eyes shining.
Jimin lifts his hand off the ramyun. “Did he kiss you and tell you he loves you?”
Yoongi gives him a knowing look. “Are you and Jeongguk ‘good’?”
There are a few things to discuss. Please, set the time and place.
This time Jeongguk chooses a small café near the Han river. It’s as deserted as the BBQ restaurant, and the workers are just as red-eyed and sharp-toothed as the ones from the other night. A slender lady meets Jimin at the door and insists on taking his coat so he can ‘feel at home’. This little gesture has Jeongguk scribbled all over it in huge, bold letters. Did he think holding Jimin’s coat hostage would be a good way to stop him from leaving abruptly like the last time?
He searches for Jeongguk, finds him already looking at him with a soft smile adorning his lips. He’s dressed far more formal than a week ago—a clean cut, black suit (definitely designer) hugging his body, a crisp white shirt peeking at the collar, no tie—and he’s assessing Jimin’s anger levels with dark, unreadable eyes.
A silent conversation seems to pass between them.
Jeongguk (sitting down, waiting for his beloved): Give her the coat, hyung.
Jimin (standing by the door, about to explode): I don’t wanna give you the satisfaction.
Jeongguk (fond): Must you do this? It’s but a politeness on the staff’s part. Don’t read much into it.
The roomful of vampires (tired of their bullshit): They don’t pay us enough for this.
A sigh escaping his lips, Jimin shrugs the coat off and hands it over. The woman nods at him and disappears towards the back of the café at top speed.
Having decided to stop lingering by the door, Jimin makes a beeline to Jeongguk’s table. He takes a seat before his nerves get the best of him and they insist he flee back home where he’s safe from Jeongguk’s charming smiles and dazzling words.
Jeongguk doesn’t waste any time either. He promptly hands him a cup of steaming coffee as Jimin opens his mouth. “I bought a bag of Barbera on my last visit to Italy.” He says, and Jimin’s mouth remains open, this time in surprise. There’s an identical cup in front of Jeongguk. “You liked to take it with one sugar and no milk. Hopefully it’s as good as back then.”
Why does he keep doing this? He just keeps reminding Jimin of their times together as if that’s somehow relevant to the job he’s paying Jimin to do. The terrible, truth-spitting voice at the back of his mind reminds him that he is currently not being paid, and that it’s all his fault. Jimin is beginning to regret not having the money between them like a heavy reminder, it would’ve been a good way to keep this whole thing professional.
“Thank you.” He replies, receiving the cup and saucer and placing it on the table in front of him. The aroma evokes many memories of their short trip to Italy in the late 1800s, when Jeongguk had been sent to a conference as a representative of his clan and he’d taken Jimin with him. Florence had looked beautiful in the spring, green and fresh, air free of the contaminants of the city.
Jimin had spent most of his mornings drinking coffee and visiting other witches while Jeongguk slept, and most of his afternoons rolling in bed with Jeongguk before the latter had to leave for what he said were ‘boring formalities that Seokjin wants me to attend to’.
“Why isn’t he here, then?” Jimin had asked, laying on top of Jeongguk’s chest, breathless.
Jeongguk had kissed him on the lips, a hand stroking down Jimin’s sweaty back and settling on the curve of his ass. “I hope you don’t mean here as in, this bed.”
A roll of the eyes. “You know what I mean. Seokjin likes socializing, you’d think he’d be fighting with teeth and nails to spend his nights mingling with Italian cold families.”
“Seokjin had something to do, as always. And he likes sending me all over Europe like I’m some kind of pet he wants to show off.” Jeongguk had said against Jimin’s lips. A bite on Jimin’s lower lip, a bruise. “Lucky for me, I have you to drag long.”
They’d been effortlessly wonderful days.
Anyway, probably not the best time to reminisce about their sexcapades with Jeongguk sitting right in front of him looking so deliciously untouchable.
Jimin finally finds his bearings. He clears his throat. “I needed to talk to you. About the preparations for the ritual.”
Jeongguk looks solemn. “Of course. Whatever you need, hyung.”
“Before that, um.” Jimin shifts his feet under the table, not really knowing how else to bring Taehyung up. He’d practiced with an amused Yoongi earlier in the day, but the only feedback he’d received had been a bored yawn.
For the first time in a long time, he’s grateful for Jeongguk’s mind-reading skills.
“Is this about Taehyung?” He asks, eyebrows arched. His eyes narrow for a second before widening. “You spoke with him.”
“I did, yeah. And you’ll be glad to know, I hope, that he’s decided to help. You don’t need to worry about the herbs and the tears, he’ll provide them.”
The corner of Jeongguk’s mouth curls up, amused. “That’s not what he said.”
For a moment Jimin thinks he means he’d also spoken to Taehyung, but that seems unlikely given Taehyung’s current adversity to Jeongguk. So mind-reading again.
“Do I even have to tell you what we talked about?” Jimin asks, exasperated. “You can probably see it all happening in my head.”
“You know that’s not how this works. I only get impressions, sometimes memories or words, at best.” The sigh Jeongguk lets out is long, but endearing. He’s already explained how it works multiple times over the years.
Jimin relents. “Okay, fine.” He curls his finger around the cup’s handle. “He said he’ll provide the tears, they just won’t be his.”
Jeongguk scoffs, arms crossing over his chest. “I don’t want his tears anyway.”
The way he clenches his jaw and looks down at the table, all defiant and hostile, contrasts with the defeated slope of his shoulders so adorably that Jimin is tempted to hug him. For all that Jeongguk likes pretending he’s this old, powerful vampire, he’s weak when it comes to his friends. The dispute between him and Taehyung must’ve hurt him.
Jimin settles for a less tactile reassurance. He takes a sip of the coffee and hums with satisfaction, partly because of the flavour, but mostly because of the way Jeongguk turns to look at him, displeasure turning to quiet delight. His silvery aura makes him look like he’s glowing from within.
“It’s good.” Jimin tells him. And it is.
Jeongguk grins. “I’m glad. So, the ritual preparations.”
“Right.” Jimin takes a last sip and lays the back in its saucer. “You need to abstain from blood for a week before the ceremony, which shouldn’t be difficult for you. You went without feeding for a month when we were in Hong Kong.”
“That was an emergency, hyung. Your blood was poisoned so I couldn’t feed from you and the local group wouldn’t allow me entrance to the blood banks.”
“You’ll be fine.” Jimin tells him, waving a dismissive hand. “You also need to be well-rested, so no more staying up until early morning, sleep at least ten hours a day.”
“What about you?” Jeongguk interrupts him.
“What about me?”
Jeongguk gives him a look. That one condescending look that infuriates Jimin every single time. He leans forward slightly, head tilted. “You have to prepare too. I remember…” He pauses, a small wrinkle appearing in between his eyebrows. “Years ago, when Hoseok had his ceremony. About two weeks before the 31st, you went to Japan.”
Jimin blinks in surprise. He didn’t know Jeongguk had made the connection. He’d never told him the reason for the short trip to Kyoto because Jimin knew Jeongguk would object to him doing the ceremony in the first place. Hoseok was part of his clan, Jimin figured he’d been worried about him.
He presses his lips together for a moment. He should be honest.
“Yes. I’m going to Jeju next week.”
Jeongguk’s eyes narrow. “When?”
“Yeah, no. I’m not telling you that.”
“Next week… for the New Moon.”
Jeongguk knows the lunar charts as well as Jimin does. Well, there was an attempt.
“Oh, well done.” Jimin throws his hands in front of him. “Well done, you. And that didn’t even require mind-reading.”
“Hyung, don’t leave me in the dark about things like this. Please.” Jeongguk closes a hand over Jimin’s, but this time his hold isn’t gentle. His frosty fingers tremble as they press against the back of Jimin’s hand, holding it in place, searching.
Their eyes meet and hold.
“The last time, when Hoseok… you know.” Jeongguk sniffs. “You didn’t tell me anything. You just disappeared for an entire week and I had to find out you were in some comatose state from Yoongi of all people. And he hates me.”
“He doesn’t.” Jimin assures him, turning his hand palm up, still under Jeongguk’s.
Jeongguk’s fingertips caress his palm. “He does. He’s made it pretty clear for years.”
“He worries about us, Jeongguk. You know how he is when he cares.”
“He always yells at me.”
“Because he likes you.” Jimin gives him a genuine smile. “If he didn’t, he would’ve just killed you.”
Jeongguk shakes his head, index and middle fingers now posed on Jimin’s wrist, right over his pulse point. It’s like Jimin can’t feel his body anymore, every nerve has stopped working to allow that small part that Jeongguk is touching to burn despite the ice of his skin.
The scent of Italian coffee hits his nose and Jimin stops breathing.
Jeongguk watches him from under his long, dark eyelashes; aura now swirling around their joined hands. “Does that apply to you too?”
“Jeongguk.” I love you.
“I missed you.” Jeongguk tells him, and the heart he left with Jimin beats rabbit fast against Jimin’s own with such strength that he can’t speak. “Every night since Vienna. Every night that I’ve spent in London doing a job that I can’t wait to pass on to someone else. Every night since we met, hyung. I missed you.”
This is why Yoongi and Taehyung are the reasonable ones and Jimin should’ve said no when Jeongguk contacted him. No, no. This is why Jimin should’ve sent that fucking email straight into the trash can where it would’ve disappeared, leaving Jimin hurt but still mending his wounds one day at a time, even if it takes the rest of a lifetime.
He’s on a precipice with no way back. Whatever he says or does, he’s still gonna fall.
Just like last time, he pulls his hand out of Jeongguk’s lax grip without looking at his face, afraid of what he’ll see if he does.
“I’ll email you when I’m back.” His voice shakes the entire sentence.
He’s considering just leaving without retrieving his coat when the tall lady from before reappears by his side. She’s holding the coat out for him, her eyes diverted from the people seated at the table.
Jimin takes it with a quick thank you, stands up and leaves.
Standing in the chilly night outside the café, he sees Jeongguk bury his face in his hands.
That night he curls into a ball in the middle of his bed and wonders if maybe giving in to Jeongguk and reliving their whirlwind, centuries-long romance once again would’ve been easier.
Certainly not as painful as denying himself this much, he thinks. It’s happened multiple times before—Jeongguk strides back into Jimin’s life, or Jimin happens into Jeongguk’s, and they smile and laugh and have a good time together. It happened in Korea and in Hong Kong, and all over Europe.
He imagines a different reply to Jeongguk’s email, a more loving, forgiving one. Just unabashedly in love.
My love, Jimin would’ve started, because Dear Jeongguk doesn’t sound sappy enough.
So yes, he would’ve typed the words even if they pained him. My love, the letter would say, you don’t know how happy it makes me to hear from you after so long without meeting you.
And he would write long paragraphs about everything he missed about Jeongguk. His voice (his smooth tone, the warmth of his words), his hands (large and pretty, nails always tidy, blank when Jimin had seen them last, tattooed now), his eyes (a galaxy), his hugs and his kisses (always at the same time, always plenty of them whenever Jimin wanted them).
So much that Jimin has never said because now that he’s honest with himself, he’d lived his time with Jeongguk afraid of being left behind. And then it had actually happened.
He wakes up at five am the next day and makes a call.
“Hyung,” He says, swollen eyes closed, head pounding. “Can I go see you tomorrow?”
Namjoon lives in a heavily guarded penthouse in Ilsan that Jimin has only visited a handful of times before. It has been modernized throughout the years from a large, traditionally Korean state back in the 15th century when Namjoon had bought it, into a tall skyscraper that Namjoon rents out to travelling immortals and creatures of the night in need of a place to stay.
In short—it’s a hotel with a very exclusive clientele.
He’s escorted up twenty four floors by Namjoon’s bodyguards, two lycans of the Ilsan clan that act far more polite than any other of their kind that Jimin’s ever met. Namjoon had successfully mediated a territorial dispute between them and the clan of Seoul in the 80s, and they’ve sworn allegiance to him ever since. Jimin’s used to seeing them around Namjoon by now.
They guide Jimin out of the elevator and towards the entrance to Namjoon’s apartment at the end of a long, dimly illuminated hallway. They bow politely at Jimin and disappear back the way they came from, leaving Jimin in front of a gigantic, ornate door that’s heavily protected by talismans sticking to the dark mahogany.
With a smile, Jimin recognizes a couple of his own spells, shining a faint pink when he sets eyes on them.
A deep voice interrupts his thoughts. “Come in!”
Immediately after, there’s a soft creaking and the door swings open slowly, letting Jimin inside Namjoon’s sanctuary.
The place is more of a greenhouse than an apartment, with a plethora of glass panels for walls and roof, and a wide variety of plants surrounding a couple of sofas and chairs in the middle. The moon and the stars are the only sources of light in the room, and Jimin feels an unusual sting of longing somewhere in his chest. His place is quite unimpressive in comparison, small and plain, boring. He figures that’s what happens when you’re constantly on the move like he is, unlike Namjoon, who’s only left Ilsan twice in all his years as High Warlock of his city.
“Jiminie!” Namjoon says, those dimples of his flashing bright and comforting. His warm, yellowy aura shines like starlight. “I wasn’t expecting you until later tonight.”
“I hope I didn’t interrupt anything.” Jimin tells him, pointedly looking around the place. The floor has been taken over by multiple pieces of parchment depicting pentagrams of different variations and purposes. They are strewn haphazardly over tables and chairs, covering everything but Namjoon, who stands awkwardly in the middle of his mess dressed in pyjamas.
“What’s going on?”
“Oh,” Namjoon says. He takes a long stride over a particularly large parchment and then skips over smaller ones until he’s in front of Jimin. “It’s for work. I got an, er, interesting client with an impossible request the other day.”
He looks away. The sheepish smile on his face, the way he scratches the back of his head…his words. Jimin feels something twist in his gut. Was it a coincidence? No, Jimin has studied fate for far too long to even consider their existence.
He peeks at a couple of the pentagrams on the floor. There’s one for resurrection by his feet, and another for demon stabilization by Namjoon’s. He knows the strokes and the incantations, he knows the level of magic needed for each of them, the exact amount of energy they require. He knows because he’s been studying them every night since Jeongguk said the words soul binding on that fucking BBQ restaurant.
“Hyung.” He starts, unsure of what he’s really asking. He could be reading a bit too much into it. “Are you doing research for them or are you holding a ceremony?”
Bingo. Namjoon’s warm eyes turn slightly colder in shock, his aura dimming into a dull mustard. Whatever he sees in Jimin’s own aura seems to alarm him, because takes a step back, almost toppling over a stray chair.
“Ah, Jiminie…” Namjoon says, hands up as if in surrender. He sighs, eyes closing, defeated. “I know I promised to not meet him anymore. But you know how it always is, he speaks and I just nod along. I don’t even try anymore.”
Of course this isn’t about Jeongguk, Namjoon isn’t as vulnerable to him as Jimin is. No, this is about a bigger fish, an older, far more calculating and dangerous one. Someone Namjoon is as weak to as Jimin is to Jeongguk.
This is about Seokjin.
“Of course. Of course, he’s here too.” Jimin mumbles under his breath. Jeongguk must’ve already contacted him asking for the pint of blood he needs from him. Seokjin doesn’t do things by halves, he would’ve dropped whatever he was doing and bought a ticket to Korea as soon as Jeongguk requested it—out of his numerous children, Jeongguk is his favourite after all.
Namjoon is peering at him guiltily. “I figured Jeongguk was here too. I didn’t want to bring him up.”
“It’s fine, I already knew he was in Seoul.”
Namjoon straightens up, eyebrows meeting in a frown. “You’ve seen him?”
Jimin looks away, down towards the pentagrams. “Er, yeah. That’s why I’m here actually,” He leans down to pick up the two parchments staring at him from the floor. He studies the perfect, careful strokes, not a single ink droplet in sight. “How about we clean this place up a little and we talk about those irritating exes of ours.”
Namjoon is extremely brief. A message from his bodyguards at the front door: Lord Kim Seokjin of the Clan of Shadows here to see you, sir. Minutes later, Seokjin had been in the apartment, requesting a late October favour, something he couldn’t ask anyone else, something he desperately, wholeheartedly needed done.
(Jimin can imagine it:
Seokjin on the sofa. Legs and arms: crossed. Full lips in a pout, hair tousled. Those ridiculously extravagant rings he loves on his slender fingers, the gold glinting under the moon, an invitation in itself. His words would’ve been polite and careful, escalating into flirty… loving… s o f t… right into Namjoon’s ear like honey dripping down, taking over everything it touches.
And Namjoon. Standing in front of him, defiant. Refusing to sit down. Looking at the floor as Seokjin spoke, feeling the honey of Seokjin’s voice on his neck—Namjoon-ah, please—holding his wrists captive—It has to be you—his heart, bitter over the ugly words they’d shared on their last breakup, becoming sweeter, syrupy—Please, do it for me.)
Jeongguk had learned well, goddammit.
“Fucking cold ones,” Jimin says, wanting to see Jeongguk, wanting to kiss him, maybe yell at him a little. “Can’t they leave us alone? They’ve hurt us enough.”
“I told him it was very unlikely the ceremony would work. I’ve never even tried doing a soul binding before. I told him to go see you but, well.” Namjoon shrugs, eyes far away, maybe meeting Seokjin’s dark red ones in his memory. Well, indeed.
“He knows I would’ve told him to fuck off.” Jimin plops down onto a now parchment-free chair, dropping his pounding head into his hands. He almost wants to see Seokjin, if only to scream at him and ask him why, why out of all people did he have to select Jeongguk for that stupid position that had separated them in Vienna.
Vienna. Lovely, lovely Vienna.
“Seokjin hyung isn’t scared of you, Jiminie.” Namjoon reminds him. “Jeonggukie probably threatened to off himself or something like that to stop him from going. You know how Seokjin cares for him. He wouldn’t have risked it at all.”
“I’ve wondered a couple of times if Seokjin is Jeongguk’s actual father.”
“We all have. But you know the story as well as I do.”
Oh does Jimin know it. Not from Jeongguk, though, but straight from Seokjin, who upon hearing of his favourite child’s new lover, had basically kidnapped Jimin to interrogate him. After an hour of what are your intentions with Jeongguk and you’re not planning to kill us, are you, Seokjin had told him Jeongguk’s backstory, unprompted.
“I saved Jeongguk when he was dying in some ditch in London. He’d been beaten bloody and left to die in an alleyway. You could smell him from streets away.” Seokjin had said, pacing in front of Jimin like a moustache-twirling villain. “You should have seen him when he noticed me lurking over him. He looked so scared. It was very cute, cute enough that I took him with me.”
“So you turned him because he was cute.” The disbelief in Jimin’s voice had been thick and foggy, verging on sarcastic.
“I needed an heir and none of my children were good enough.” Seokjin had stated, bluntly. “I wasn’t about to let a handsome man die, was I?”
A pretty selfish reason, but it had saved Jeongguk’s life. Jimin shudders to think what would’ve happened if Seokjin hadn’t seen Jeongguk that night or decided he just wasn’t worth turning.
“I’m surprised though,” Namjoon tilts his head, curious. “I wasn’t expecting you to come here asking for advice on this. You’re my sunbae in that respect.”
“I need a three-eyed chicken.” Jimin blurts out. He’d almost forgotten why he’d called Namjoon the night before. “They’re pretty rare around this time and I know you know a guy.”
“I know many guys.”
“And… now that I know that Seokjin came asking for a ceremony… I can help you.” Jimin adds, making the decision on the spot. “But for the record, I’m doing this for you, not for Seokjin. He can rot in hell for all I care, no offence, hyung.”
Namjoon shrugs. “None taken. I know you haven’t forgiven him for taking Jeongguk back to London. He mentioned it yesterday.”
So Seokjin knows he’d ruined Jimin’s life, huh. Good to know.
Jimin forces a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “You get me the chicken, I give you a successful way to get his soul back, and then the two of us forget about them. We’ll make a fucking blood pact if that’s what it takes.”
Namjoon’s answering smile is sad. “I don’t even remember why I fought with him all those years ago. I don’t even know why we broke up.”
Jimin swallows. “That’s the curse of longevity, isn’t it?”
Taehyung 8:24 pm
He came by
Taehyung 8:25 pm
Just wanted to let you know
that we’re okay again
Jimin 8:30 pm
Taehyung 8:31 pm
He explained a lot of things
that he made me swear under
a fae brethren oath NOT to tell you
Jimin 8:33 pm
Taehyung 8:34 pm
I really really REALLY wanna
tell you Jimin, I swear he’s just
being so fucking stupid on purpose
Taehyung 8:35 pm
But I know you, so this
will be worth it in the end
Jimin 8:37 pm
Tae you’re not making any sense
Either spill it or zip it
Taehyung 8:39 pm
BTW, I talked to my contact in Jeju!
They’ll have a room for you :)
Jimin steps aboard the ferry feeling optimistic. This trip to Jeju is the closest thing to a vacation he’s had in a while, and between the heavy workload he’d had on September and the stress the mere thought of Jeongguk has been causing him, he feels this is truly deserved.
He takes a seat at one of the benches on the deck, leaves his luggage at his feet, and breathes in the salty, marine air. The moonlight ceremony should go by without trouble—he’s done it a couple of times before for other rites—his real concern is interacting with the fairies. He hasn’t been to Jeju in almost a hundred years, and he’s forgotten how to properly interact with them. He’s used to Taehyung, who behaves so much like a human, that Jimin often forgets he’s not even a halfling, but a fairy through and through.
It’s the soul burning inside him, Jimin thinks, nose in the air, feeling the icy wind comb his hair away from his forehead. The only one of Jimin’s friends with a demon-free soul, the only creature with longevity that aged and changed unlike Jimin and Jeongguk and the others, who remained stuck in the moment they’d sold their souls for power. It’s why Taehyung seems so human, why he longs for humanity through his art, like a child grasping at smoke.
Jimin sighs. Humanity seems like a lie now, after four hundred years of this constant stagnation. He wishes he’d been born a fairy like Taehyung, he thinks he would’ve been good at fairy magic, at their seasonal duties like spreading pollen on flowers or whatever fairies did in Spring.
“That’s not usually what they do, you know.”
Jimin isn’t even surprised. Still, he groans into his hands and bites his tongue so he doesn’t yell and get thrown off the ferry. He can’t afford to be sent back, the Jeju fairies will ban him forever, and forever is a long time.
“I wanna push you off this deck so badly.” He replies, hands clenching into fists on his lap. “You’re so fucking stupid! It’s still light out!”
Jeongguk sits next to him, his cold thigh freezing Jimin’s even through the fabric of his pants. “You knew I was coming.”
“I was hoping you’d take a hint and not come.”
“I did take the hint. That’s why I’m here. And don’t worry about it, Namjoon hyung makes a wonderful Daywalker potion. I have enough for the three days of our trip.”
Lips pursed, Jimin finally (very, very reluctantly) turns to the side to look at him. This is the closest they’ve been since they saw each other again, and it fills Jimin with such an immense longing as he counts the moles on Jeongguk’s neck that he almost gives in for the thousandth time.
Jeongguk is dressed casually, a simple white shirt, black cotton pants and sandals. There’s a large black duffle bag (Balenciaga, Jimin notices) on his lap. He looks like every other college guy that Jimin has seen at Taehyung’s studio whenever his friend offers classes. He figures Jeongguk would study something in the arts if he were human, he certainly looks the part anyway, what with the tattoos and earrings and whatnot.
“Taehyung told me you guys talked.” Jimin says.
He watches with immense satisfaction as Jeongguk stiffens. “He didn’t tell you anything else.”
“No, he didn’t. Because if he did he would die, Jeongguk.”
“Don’t look at me like that,” Jeongguk says, and Jimin looks at him like that even harder. “We all play with our immortality all the time. And Taehyung offered.”
“That’s not what it sounded like.”
“He said, I won’t tell Jimin! Look, I’ll even make a fae brethren vow!”
Kim Taehyuuuuuuuunggggggg. “I hate him. I swear I’m gonna curse him.”
He just—he laughs, head thrown back, crinkles around his eyes and scrunched nose. And Jimin stares at him, like a mesmerized idiot.
“If you do, please make him go sing to the sleeping trolls. He hates doing that.”
“Obviously. Who even wants to do that?”
Jeongguk grins. “It’s what the fairies do every Spring.”
There’s a petite, red-haired girl waving a huge sign that reads Park Jimin ssi ♡ Jeon Jeongguk ssi waiting for them (them?!) on the platform.
“Did Taehyung know you were coming along?”
Jeongguk raises his eyebrows. “Of course. Who do you think got me the ticket?”
Taehyung would be singing to the sleeping trolls for the rest of his life.
“Mage Jimin, Vampyr Jeongguk.” The girl says, hands together in the fairy greeting: fingertips of both hands touching together into a triangle shape. “The Kingdom of Doi welcomes you. The one speaking is called Eunha.”
Jimin and Jeongguk imitate her greeting. Jeju fairies are so polite, it’s almost comical imagining Taehyung talking to them, mingling.
“Please follow closely, we will walk to the closest circle.” Eunha tells them before turning around and leading the way.
Jimin hasn’t been out during the day in quite some time, and the Jeju sunset is breathtakingly beautiful as they step outside, reddish sun setting over the horizon. He’s hyperaware of Jeongguk walking next to him, his presence heavy but not entirely unwanted. Jimin may have protested a lot on the ferry, but the secret romantic that lives inside his heart and that has been asleep for almost a century, is rejoicing at getting to see Jeongguk for the third time in less than a month.
They dog Eunha’s steps away from the port and the immediate town, and follow her down a dirt path on the side of the road. They make their way into a thick forest, with hundreds of willowy, thin trees lining their route. When they finally arrive at their destination—a small, grassy clearing in the middle of the forest—the sky has turned lavender and dark blue.
“We have arrived.” Eunha announces, probably for dramatic effect. “The circle will grant Mage Jimin and Vampyr Jeongguk permission.”
Jimin nods. The circle in question appears to be fairly standard at first glance, a large ring of white Scotch bonnet mushrooms right in the middle of the clearing, but upon taking a closer step, Jimin recognizes the tiny, star-shaped buds of Belladonna growing near the base of the mushrooms.
He turns to Eunha, a frown between his eyebrows. “Are you sure we’ll be welcome? The Belladonna was put there to keep non-fae out.”
Eunha’s carefully composed face betrays nothing. She merely blinks. “It’s power has been rendered useless by our Elders on this occasion.”
“So you’re saying it won’t burn Jeongguk to death if we go through.”
Jeongguk, the annoying idiot, groans as if in disappointment. Jimin doesn’t know whether to laugh or hit him.
Eunha puts her hands together in the fairy greeting. “The one speaking promises no harm will come to Vampyr Jeongguk.”
“What about Jimin? Will he be okay?” Jeongguk asks, chin raised arrogantly.
A muscle twitches on Eunha’s face, the only sign of her irritation. “Mage Jimin’s wellbeing is guaranteed. Now, please stand in the middle of the circle and close your eyes. You will be welcomed by our representative.”
Jimin and Jeongguk do as she says, prudently stepping over the mushrooms and the Belladonna flowers, and facing each other in the middle. Right before Jimin closes his eyes, he sees Jeongguk nod at him in encouragement. It makes something giddy and warm bloom in the pit of his stomach.
A melody breaks out of Eunha’s mouth, an enthralling song in a strange fairy language Jimin doesn’t understand. It’s different from the rounded, much easier to decode fairy speech Taehyung uses, it’s much more gruff, with hard Rs and hissed Ss.
It feels like ages before Eunha’s back to speaking Korean, her voice a whisper in Jimin’s head.
“Please open your eyes.”
They’re standing in the same circle as before, but this time it’s not surrounded by trees and vegetation, but by a group of curious fairies. Some of them are in their natural forms, keeping themselves in the air by their rapidly flapping wings, and some of them are in their bigger, human-like appearance. They’re all regarding Jimin and Jeongguk with the same aloof air as Eunha, all except for a tall male fairy grinning at them from in between the others.
Definitely Taehyung’s contact.
“Welcome, welcome!” He says taking a step forward to shake Jimin’s hand. It’s such a human action, undeniably something Taehyung taught him. The other fairies around them look at him in alarm and storm off, obviously put off by this display of humanity. “I’m glad to finally meet you! You may call me Bogum. Taehyung has spoken of you two quite a bit over the past century or so.”
“Hopefully good things.” Jeongguk says offering his own hand with a polite smile. The fairy takes it.
“The best. Don’t worry about it, we have everything ready for your honeymoon.”
The sleeping trolls are difficult to wake up, hence their name. Waking them up requires the singing of at least thirty fairies, all chanting in unison, all using their magic to enhance their voices so the lazy trolls open their eyes and get moving with their Spring tasks.
Jimin wonders if maybe cursing Taehyung to do it alone would be enough of a revenge for his friend’s idiotic, infuriating prank.
He glances at Jeongguk and sees the smug expression on his face turn neutral when he notices Jimin’s eyes on him.
Bogum looks between them, grin waning. “That’s not why you’re here, is it?”
Jimin’s smile is tight. “Nope.”
“Park Jimin ssi would like to perform a moonlight ritual,” Jeongguk informs him, entering professional, Lord of the Clan of Shadows mode. “He will need permission to access Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls tomorrow when the New Moon rises.”
Jimin’s eyebrows fly underneath his fringe. Jeongguk had done his research.
Bogum looks between them, clearly sensing the tension coming off them in waves. “Ah, yes. Many mainland witches come here for this purpose, it will be no trouble.” He smiles. “I will take you there tomorrow, but for now, I must take you to your room.”
Taehyung, Jimin thinks, refusing to look at Jeongguk, you’re so fucking dead.
Bogum takes them to a hut about a hundred feet from the circle.
The place is small but clearly made for human-sized travellers. There’s enough space for a cramped twin bed, a table with two chairs, and a bathroom in the corner.
What makes Jimin want to melt into the floor so he can escape this predicament isn’t the bed, however, it’s the alarming amount of fairy lights floating around it like tiny fireflies. Once again, this is Taehyung’s work. He probably made a suggestion along with that ‘honeymoon’ lie of his, please make it romantic, it’s their wedding night!
Right, well. Fuck that.
“It will do perfectly, thank you, Bogum.” He tells Taehyung’s friend, who nods and leaves them to get comfortable.
Jimin doesn’t even look at Jeongguk, he acts like he’s not even there. He pulls his suitcase up on the bed and starts taking out his herbs and other ingredients, not willing to waste any time worrying about this. He’s spent multiple times alone in bedrooms with Jeongguk, this is nothing new, he can handle this mishap, no problem.
He has to drink two tonics before the moonlight ritual, but they’re fairly easy to make. He starts with the Draught of Fortitude, an Agrimony based potion meant for protection and strength.
He takes out a parchment containing a pentagram for potion making and lays it open on the floor, legs folding under him until he’s sitting on the floor, cross-legged. He lines up the herbs, pre-made tonics and a bottle of water next to a small cauldron he brought along, and reaches for a candle inside his luggage.
“What are you making?” Jeongguk asks, seemingly refusing to be ignored. Jimin hears him take a seat on the bed.
Jimin sighs, lighting the candle with his fingertip so he can burn the Agrimony. He places the leaves over the flame, other hand waiting for the ashes. “Draught of Fortitude.” He replies.
“You’ve made that for me before.” Jeongguk says, somewhat fondly. “When we were in Hong Kong.”
“You couldn’t drink any blood for weeks. I had to help you somehow or Seokjin would’ve had my head on a stick.”
“So you did it for Seokjin?”
“I did it for my life, so I wouldn’t die after paying for it with my soul.”
Jimin almost drops the Agrimony in surprise. He’s never heard Jeongguk say that word before, it sounds too juvenile for him, too out of his cursing comfort zone, which as far as Jimin knew, only included the word ‘fuck’. He’s so distracted by it, that his brain takes a little longer to process what Jeongguk had just implied.
Teeth clenched, Jimin raises his eyes to meet Jeongguk’s poignant gaze.
“Finally deigned to curse like us lower beings, have you?”
“That’s not—Jimin hyung. I’m truly sorry if that offended you, but you know what I mean.” He does, indeed, look quite apologetic. His hands are awkwardly laying on his lap, his head is bowed.
“I really don’t.”
“Hyung,” Jeongguk starts, dark fringe falling over his eyes as he leans forward, peering at Jimin with wide eyes. “I know you and I… I know we’re not—I know we’re not on the best of terms right now.”
“You’re my employer.” Jimin drops the ashes on the small cauldron and then reaches for the bottle of water. The ugliness of that word in relation to Jeongguk burns on his tongue like acid.
“Employers don’t come along on trips.” Jeongguk’s voice is so small Jimin almost misses it entirely.
And it hurts, goddammit, it does.
“I know.” He says, and a long, ringing silence follows those two words.
Jeongguk doesn’t say anything else as Jimin finishes the first potion and then moves on to the next, but Jimin can feel his eyes following his every move. It’s like he’s touching Jimin, a phantom contact like the softest silk wherever he looks. By the time he’s done with the Elixir of Temperance, Jimin wishes he could jump into a cold shower for hours.
He leaves the two miniature potion flasks on the table and then stands in the middle of the room, not knowing what to do.
Jeongguk, always so perceptive, jumps to his feet and moves towards the door.
“I’ll leave you to rest.” He mumbles, and without waiting for a reply, he leaves the hut, oak door closing with a soft thump.
Jimin barely sleeps. He’s plagued by Vienna.
It’s not a cold night this time but a warm summer day and Jeongguk is hugging him under the blazing sun. He’s leaving his heart with Jimin.
But Jimin doesn’t want to receive it, he doesn’t, he doesn’t.
In the dream he holds on to Jeongguk’s coat with frantic claws that tear into the fancy material like daggers. “No,” He says. “Fuck that. Keep that dead heart of yours and stay here instead. Don’t go.”
Jeongguk laughs. “I’m here.”
“But you’re leaving.” Jimin yells, those traitorous tears flowing down. “You left me!”
Jeongguk is holding his hands now, and his touch is so vivid. For once his hands are warm, there’s a flush of red on his cheeks. He’s alive. ALIVE.
“But I’m here now.” Jeongguk says, and though he’s smiling placidly, what comes out of his mouth sounds so sad, so desperate. “I came back for you. I came back, hyung. Please, let me in for one last time.”
A cold touch on Jimin’s hand. “Please.”
Jeongguk is sitting at the table when Jimin wakes up.
“Did you just come back?” He asks him, struggling to see in the darkness of the room. He reaches for his phone to check the time: barely six am.
“Well, you take the bed now,” Jimin mumbles as he rolls into a sitting position on the right side of the bed. He rubs at his eyes, still groggy. “You need to sleep. I’ll go do the ritual later in the day and come back around the time you’re waking up.”
“Are you only replying in yeses or noes now?”
“I’m going with you.” Jeongguk says, and Jimin has to squint in order to read his face. He’s dressed similarly to the previous day, with a pale grey shirt and soft cotton pants, looking so, so young Jimin can’t help but burn the image into his memory. He’s also turned his whole body towards Jimin, and the lines of his shoulders are straight and severe, a mirror of the expression on his face.
He looks like an overgrown child getting ready for a row with his parents. And a row he’s about to get.
“Ah, no, you’re not.” Jimin tells him. “You haven’t slept at all and I don’t need you there with me. This is a solo thing.”
“You know I don’t need to sleep every day.”
“What I know is that this was meant to be a trip for one because only one person is needed for the ritual, and that’s me.” Jimin tells him, jumping to his feet. He rummages inside his bag for clean clothes and disappears into the bathroom, changing as fast as he can.
When he comes out, he finds Jeongguk with two cups of coffees and a couple of slices of bread on the table. Damn, he can be fast when he wants to.
“Eat.” He says when Jimin rolls his eyes.
So Jimin eats because fuck it, he’s hungry. They stay silent as Jimin drinks the coffee—Barbera, again—and munches at the bread. He knows that Jeongguk is right, that vampires can safely go without sleeping for about five days without any trouble, but Jimin doesn’t want to tell him the real reason why he’s so against it. It’s embarrassingly stupid, and he doesn’t want to have that conversation with Jeongguk of all people.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) for Jimin, they get interrupted before hell breaks loose between them. Bogum knocks at the door at exactly seven am, grinning like only a fairy could this early in the fucking morning.
“I’ve come to check on you!” He says brightly, handing Jimin a tray of Tteokbokki that he assures Jimin is perfectly safe for non-fae folk. “The New Moon will be at its peak at seven thirty this afternoon. How much time will you require before then?”
“Two hours should do it.”
“I’ll be back at four o’clock, then.” Bogum says. He shakes both their hands and leaves them to their silent war of stares and eye rolls.
Jimin spends the morning and early afternoon making sure he has everything he needs: the two flasks of potions; his Athame, wand and chalice; and his trusty, waterproof sharpie. He pulls his pile of journals out and ignores Jeongguk as he very annoyingly doesn’t sleep. Jeongguk constantly moves around the hut, sitting at the table, laying on the bed, going to the bathroom even though he doesn’t need to use one—he’s just obnoxious and contrary for hours. At some point around the brightest point of the day, Jimin sees him produce a flask out of his own bag and take a long drink out of it. The aroma is sour—definitely Namjoon’s Daywalker potion.
When it starts getting dark in the room again, and the hues of orange are coming through the window, Jeongguk kneels on the floor right in front of Jimin and makes his case.
“I promise I will sleep for two days after we go back.”
“I promise I will sleep for two days and I will sleep ten hours a day until the ceremony.”
“You should be doing that either way, you know?”
“You’re treating me like a kid.” Jeongguk says. “Like Seokjin.”
“Well fuck, I’m definitely not saying yes now.”
In the end, Jeongguk comes along because Jimin is weak and can’t refute him when he wraps his large hand around Jimin’s and looks at him with those doe eyes of his.
Jimin throws everything he needs inside a bad and mentally prepares himself for the best worst.
At precisely four pm, Bogum is back and so is his cheerful smile. He guides them out of the hut, past the circle of mushrooms and into a forest area full of leafy trees with wide trunks and curvy branches. As they walk by, Jimin makes sure to not step on any mushroom or fruit near his feet, hating the idea of stepping on any fairy home that might be scattered away from the town area closer to the hut. He’s already committed that mistake years ago, and he only got away unscathed because of Taehyung’s interference.
Just to pass the time, Jimin asks Bogum about the type of fairy he is, and upon replying (he’s a water fairy), he launches into a long, mostly anecdote-based explanation about the fairies of the Kingdom of Doi and their history. Though he tends to babble, Jimin is grateful for the distraction.
Half an hour into their trek, Jimin starts sweating. He glances at Jeongguk who has remained silent since they left, probably in an attempt to not bother Jimin into sending him back, and finds him looking as fresh and beautiful as ever. He smiles at Jimin when he catches him looking, that pretty, innocent smile of his that has won over thousands of people. Fucking vampires. Couldn’t Jimin also get a sweat-free superpower when he made the pact with his demon? He shakes his head and feels an irritating bead of sweat slide down his face.
An hour later, they arrive at the waterfalls.
It’s a gorgeous sight: a cave at the top of a rocky mountain, and out of it, the first of three waterfalls flows into a pond of crystalline water nestled between large river rocks at the bottom. Jimin immediately feels the clean energy falling into the pond alongside the water, rejuvenating the pond and giving it the magical properties Cheonjeyeon is known for. This is a scared place to fairies everywhere, and Jimin feels honoured to be there.
He stares, breathless, taking it all in.
“Welcome to Cheonjeyeon!” Bogum says. He puts his hands together in the fairy greeting and bows towards the waterfall three times, the utmost sign of respect. Jimin and Jeongguk imitate him. “The waters of our sanctuary are well-known to all magical creatures. I’m sure your moonlight ritual will go according to plan, Park Jimin ssi.”
“Thank you.” Jimin tells him, genuinely touched by his well wishes.
“I’ll take my leave now.” Bogum says. He hands Jimin two small acorns. “When you’re ready to return, please crush these into pieces and you should be transported into the hut.”
“Understood.” Jeongguk says, speaking for the first time in over an hour.
Bogum shakes both their hands again, smiles, and with a puff of smoke, turns into his natural form. Jimin can barely see him as he flies away, but he thinks he sees Bogum waving goodbye.
“Right,” Jimin says, checking the time. It’s five pm. He looks up and sees the round shadow of the moon already high in the sky. “I should probably get started.”
“Do you need any help?” Jeongguk asks almost shyly. He stands a couple feet away from Jimin, giving him enough space without straying far. It makes the muscles of Jimin’s cheeks hurt when he tries not to smile.
“I’m fine. Just…” Jimin tries to will his heart into beating slower, into calming down. “Can you do me a favour?”
Jeongguk’s eyes widen, thin, rosy lips parting in surprise. He takes an aborted step forward and stares at Jimin with intensity. “Whatever you need, hyung.”
Jimin nods to himself, blatantly ignoring the warmth creeping up his neck and seeping into his cheeks. This is why he didn’t want Jeongguk to come. “I need you to… turn around and not look at me while I perform the ritual.”
He knows Jeongguk must’ve noticed the redness of his face, he must be hearing Jimin’s fast breathing and rapid heartbeat. He knows the question on the tip of Jeongguk’s tongue, the why that he wants to put out there.
And yet—it never comes.
“Alright.” Jeongguk says, barely loud enough to be heard over the deafening waterfall at their backs.
Jimin bites his lip. “Just like that?”
Jeongguk smirks. “Do you want me to put up a fight? You know I will if that’s what you want.”
“No, that’s… fine. Um, thank you, yeah.”
“Okay. Then, I’ll go take a seat over there.” Jeongguk points towards a large rock on the right side of the pond. “I promise I won’t look at you, but can I, I don’t know, talk to you at least?”
“I might not be able to hear you.”
“Will you be able to hear me over the sound of the water?” Jimin asks him, burying his phone back into his bag.
“I’ve got good hearing.”
He can’t help it. Jimin smiles. “Okay, fine. We can talk, just, you know.”
“I know. I’ll go first.”
Jimin watches him take long strides towards the rock he pointed out, watches him sit down facing the trees, eyes away from Jimin. He looks up at the sky and sighs, looking so unlike the Jeongguk Jimin knows that Jimin wants to run towards him, to kiss him until he’s melting under Jimin’s touch, becoming his once again. He probably feels Jimin’s earnest gaze on him, but Jeongguk refuses to go back on his word. He doesn’t look back.
Feeling slightly less on edge, Jimin finally gets to work.
He finds a large, mostly flat rock formation on the left edge of the pond—a perfect place to draw the pentagram. The moonlight ritual is a fairly standard hydro-lunar ceremony for all witches. It’s neither difficult nor dangerous, but it does require a good amount of magic.
It also requires Jimin to be ‘bare as he came into the world’ or ‘fucking naked’ for the not-pretentious.
He anxiously chances a glance Jeongguk’s way before slipping his shirt over his head. There’s nothing to fear, he thinks to himself, Jeongguk won’t break his promise.
He doesn’t have the best track record with promises, an ugly, twisted version of his voice reminds him mockingly as he unbuttons his jeans and steps out of them. He leaves his clothes in a corner and hesitates one last time before taking off his underwear, standing nude on top of the rock and shivering.
He rummages inside his bag for his Athame and chalice, and then leaves his bag on top of his clothes. In retrospect, he should’ve written the pentagram before taking his clothes off. Idiot, idiot! He berates himself, get it together!
His magical instruments are made of fine silver that shines under the dim afternoon light. His beloved Athame, his ceremonial dagger, has an ornate design of a fury showing its talons in its sheath. His chalice follows the same theme. Both are ancient, secondhand artifacts that Jimin holds very close to his own heart.
He places the chalice on top of the rock, holds his left hand over it, and without much ado, slices his hand open with his Athame. He closes his hand in a fist, ignoring the slight twinge of pain as his dark red blood flows into the chalice like an open faucet.
Jimin almost topples his chalice over with his bloody hand.
“What?” He asks, heart on his throat.
Jeongguk sounds slightly panicked. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Fine.” Jimin replies. “Why?”
“Well, your blood…” He pauses. “I smelled it so I thought, maybe…”
Jimin reaches for his bag again, searching for his wand. “I’m fine. You know witches draw pentagrams with blood.”
“I know that.” An exasperated tint to his voice.
“I’m okay.” Jimin places the tip of his wand to the gash on his hand. “Sana.” The wound closes up as if stitched and then disappears completely, as if he hadn’t cut his hand in the first place.
He dips his index and middle finger into his own blood in the chalice, still warm to the touch, and begins mapping out the pentagram. First he draws the five-pointed star with two of its points projecting upwards, the sign of witchcraft. He’s had enough practice for four hundred years that he gets it perfect on the first try. Then come the runes between its points, the signs for the elements and the soul, and lastly, an impeccable circle surrounding the symbols to signify the flow of energy between them.
Once done, the pentagram glows a bright red and then settles, black lines temporarily etched into the rock instead of Jimin’s red blood.
“Okay, next step.”
“What are you doing?” Jeongguk yells.
“I just finished the pentagram, now I have to draw runes on my body.”
Now the waterproof sharpie. He opens it with his mouth and then proceeds to do just as he’d said. The runes are burned into his skin as he goes, six down each of his arms, one in each hand and feet, and one on his forehead and chest. When he’s done, he takes a seat in the middle of the pentagram and downs the two potions like shots of soju.
Now comes the lengthy, boring part.
“Jeongguk,” He says, and he sees Jeongguk tilt his head his way, eyes still looking into the forest. “I’m gonna be silent for about two hours, meditating. Don’t distract me or this won’t work.”
Jimin closes his eyes.
When he becomes aware again, he’s standing knee-deep in water. He remembers this confusion, the uncertainty of not knowing how he got there, from the first time he did this in Japan. He takes slow, even steps deeper into the pond, its crystal clear water reaching past his thighs, his stomach, his chest. His head.
There’s light. There’s a winged shadow glaring at Jimin.
You have come here asking for more power.
What will you give in return?
Years of service.
A scoff from his demon. That is a price you are already paying from our last agreement.
Three hundred years added to our pact.
The demon goes silent, considering. That is a far more generous offer than the last time.
This time it is for personal matters.
Five hundred years.
Three hundred and fifty. And the sacrifice of a three-eyed chicken.
A pause, considering again. Jimin doubts it will say no after being presented with such a gift. He’s going to have to ask Namjoon for another chicken.
The winged figure turns into black mist and disappears. The light floating in front of Jimin blurs.
It changes, becomes darker and bigger. It takes shape, two arms, two legs, a head. Oh, he knows those eyes. But why is he here, Jimin is having a conversation—
His head surges out of the water and he wheezes as he tries to breathe. Jeongguk is holding him against his chest, clothes drenched, eyes so wide they look about to escape out of their sockets. He’s speaking rather loudly, but Jimin’s hearing is still coming back to him, returning from the in between.
What, Jeongguk-ah, Jimin wants to say, I was discussing selling my soul again for you, you know? Don’t interrupt!
“Fuck, hyung! Look at me, come on, Jimin, focus on my face!”
Jimin closes his eyes. Why is Jeongguk being so damn loud? Can’t he see Jimin wants to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
“Hyung, you have to breathe! Breathe—“
He’s dreaming now. There are soft, familiar lips against his own and there’s air down his lungs, waking him up. His eyes fly open, his hands grab at Jeongguk’s wet shirt. It’s real.
He turns Jeongguk’s pathetic attempt at CPR into a kiss, tilting his head to the right, back into that angle that they know so well. And Jeongguk just follows him along like he’s been trained to do it. His big hands clutch at Jimin’s bare shoulder blades as he tastes his lips, fingertips dancing down his body and settling around Jimin’s waist where they belong.
Jeongguk’s fingers dig love bruises into Jimin’s skin as he tries to pull away, his lips seem to be trying to do some talking rather than kissing, and Jimin doesn’t want that at all.
“Hnng!” Hyung! Jeongguk says against Jimin’s plush lips.
Maybe he needs to breathe, Jimin’s drunken mind whispers, he can’t kiss you if he stops breathing. Jimin internally nods along, quite logical indeed.
He leaves Jeongguk’s mouth in favour of the skin of his neck.
“Jimin, are you okay?”
Jimin licks a tiny mole under Jeongguk’s jaw. He smells like sandalwood.
“Yeah.” He says, humming under his breath. “I told you I was fine.”
“You were drowning!”
“No, I wasn’t, Jeonggukie,” Jimin kisses the corner of his mouth. “I was having a conversation.”
He kisses Jeongguk full in the mouth again, arms around his neck as he pulls at him, dragging him along until they hit the rocky wall of the pond. Jeongguk’s pressed up against Jimin’s front like they’re molten into one, erections rubbing together for the first time in so long.
Jeongguk grunts into Jimin’s mouth as he ruts forward, his clothed cock between Jimin’s length and the vee of his hip. Not even the thunderous sound of the waterfall pouring into the pond is able to mask Jimin’s high pitched moan when Jeongguk nips at his mouth.
There’s a coppery taste on his lip, and the small sting of blissful pain is enough to bring Jimin back to his senses. His head clears instantly, feeling an immense amount of shame over several things at once: the fact that Jeongguk had jumped into the water to save him, the fact that they’re doing very sinful things in a sacred place, the fact that Jimin had initiated a kiss he’d been lusting after for centuries despite how well he’d been able to rein himself in for the last few weeks.
All that willpower, down the drain in one second of weakness.
Jeongguk is panting against his cheek now, nose outlining the side of Jimin’s neck, something he always did whenever he wanted to bite Jimin during sex. It doesn’t even matter that this is the last thing they should be doing in a place like this, he doesn’t even care that he just fell for Jeongguk all over again—Jimin can’t stop himself when he’s feeling Jeongguk this close to him.
His hand slips from around Jeongguk’s neck, explores the expanse of his chest, his abdominal muscles, the sharpness of his hips, and finally, the hardness of his cock. He slips Jeongguk out of the confines of his wet pants and underwear and tugs, nimble fingers over his smooth skin.
“Oh fuck,” Jeongguk groans, one his hands clutching at the rock behind Jimin’s head, the other joining Jimin between their bodies. Their hands wrap around their pulsating cocks.
“You don’t know—Jeongguk—“ You don’t know how much I missed you, how much I love you, how much I want you.
Jimin kisses him as their hands move in tandem to bring them pleasure. Jeongguk’s lips are so pliant, they open for Jimin’s tongue so easily as they fuck against the rock. It digs painfully into Jimin’s sensitive, naked body, but the bruises will be worth it in the end, they will be worth allowing himself this one moment of madness in Jeongguk’s arms.
Their kisses turn to pants into each other’s mouths as their pleasure escalates, climbing on every nerve-ending on their bodies, making them shake with the strength of their desire as they release. Jeongguk groans so loud as Jimin takes his lips and tongue again, united in a furious kiss as they cum, heads and bodies buzzing from their bliss.
Then it happens as quickly as it started—the descent.
Jimin wants to bang his head against the rock until he passes out. How could he have been so fucking stupid? How could he just allow himself this selfish moment of satisfaction, after everything, after all that pain? He thinks back to Yoongi’s harsh words, he abandoned you. Jimin had defended Jeongguk then, but that had been just a shield, put there to protect his heart over the century-long draught he’d been living in.
Jeongguk is speaking, his lips curving into a smile, parting as he forms words Jimin can’t hear. There’s an unpleasant ringing in his ears. He closes his eyes.
“Hyung, are you okay?” It sounds so far away.
A hand touches his jaw, and Jimin slaps it away.
He needs to get out of here. He can’t—he can’t breathe. The humiliation is making him sick.
“Jeongguk, please don’t. Don’t touch me.”
Jeongguk recoils away from him, looking utterly devastated. The smile that had been adorning his face, nowhere to be seen. Two beads of water fall from his wet hair, from his forehead all the way over his eyes and down to his cheeks. It’s too much.
Jimin is going insane.
He turns away and starts wading through the water towards the rock where he’d left his things, lifting himself out of the pond as soon as he reaches it. He throws his clothes over his body in complete silence, trying to keep breathing in and out at a regular rate. He had allowed himself one stupid mishap, but he can’t allow another. He can’t have a panic attack in front of Jeongguk, not now.
He hears Jeongguk come out of the water and walk towards him. He’s quietly observing Jimin as Jimin haphazardly shoves everything he brought back into his bag. Jimin then steps aside to erase the pentagram. His hand shakes as it vanishes off the rock.
Don’t look at him. Don’t.
Jimin holds the acorn in his hand, makes sure that Jeongguk can see see what he’s doing and uses his magic to crush it into tiny pieces.
Jimin takes the bed that night but doesn’t sleep. Jeongguk doesn’t come back until early the next morning.
They don’t say a single word to each other and Jimin is grateful.
They go through the motions of saying goodbye to Bogum, of being led back to the circle by Eunha and then towards the port. They step into the ferry, sit side by side with a physical, human-sized gap between them and a hundred emotional miles keeping them apart.
They don’t speak at all the entire ride and Jimin hates it.
When they arrive, they pick up their bags and walk outside. Out of the ferry, then out of the port.
They stand in the chilly Autumnal night as the cars go by.
And then Jimin can’t stand it anymore. Jeongguk is fast, hand shooting forward to touch Jimin’s pinky finger as Jimin turns away, ready to end this painful trip.
“I’m sorry.” It sounds wet and shattered, and Jimin can’t bear it. “I’m sorry, hyung.”
Jimin is immensely grateful for Yoongi’s perceptiveness when he gets home that night. He takes one long, strikingly amber look at Jimin from the couch and doesn’t say anything, lets Jimin walk into his room and throw the door closed.
Jimin lays on the bed in the darkness and stares at the ceiling. He feels thoroughly loved and kissed and desired, and it’s never felt so awful and underserved. He can still hear Jeongguk’s pleading voice ringing in his ears, the way he’d softly held onto Jimin’s finger before they’d parted. He can still hear Jeongguk’s low moans, he can still feel his body like the perfect puzzle piece against Jimin’s own.
He’d been such an asshole to Jeongguk. He’d lashed out, his anger had taken over him completely.
He spends close to six hours pushing those memories down.
When the light goes out in the living room, Jimin realizes Yoongi must’ve finally gotten tired of waiting for Jimin to come out in case he wanted to talk about it. His friend’s generosity brings tears to Jimin’s eyes, and then he just can’t stop himself.
Eyes swollen, Jimin reaches for a sleeping potion under his bed and takes a tiny sip, enough that it’ll help him sleep for a couple days. They should be enough to repair his heart.
Before he succumbs to its effects, he thinks of Jeongguk’s smile.
He sends an email as soon as he wakes up.
I’ve attached a list of possible ‘venues’ for the ceremony. Please choose one and let me know. We need someone to supervise the ritual in case it goes wrong, so I would like to suggest Yoongi hyung. He’s already been through one, after all.
And then he falls asleep again.
The vigorous hammering on Jimin’s door wakes him up from his deep slumber.
It all comes back to him when he opens his eyes: Jeongguk’s lips on his, his hands mapping Jimin’s body after their long separation like he was trying to relearn him, their gasps, mixing between their open, panting mouths as they chased their orgasms together in the cold water. Jeongguk inside him, Jeongguk around him, Jeongguk everywhere under his fluttering hands, all solid muscle and pale skin dotted with moles and freckles.
His Jeongguk. And Jimin had screamed at him.
All this sleeping isn’t doing anything for him.
“Jimin!” Taehyung yells, still knocking on the door as hard as he fucking can. Jimin groans into his pillow, wishing he could go back to sleep. “If you don’t open the door I’m gonna kick it down!”
“No, you won’t, Kim Taehyung. We’re not all rich artists that can afford to replace a damn door.” Yoongi threatens from the other side of the door, his voice dangerous.
Jimin hears Hoseok’s quiet, “calm down, hyung,” and then Taehyung’s scream of “Yes. I. will. Jimin! Open the door! You’ve been doing this for a week now, dude!”
“He brought you the herbs and tears for the ceremony.” Yoongi says, a last attempt to coax him out.
“Yeah, so come out or I’ll throw them into the toilet!”
Any other day Jimin would’ve indulged Taehyung’s childish antics, but he’s tired and sad, and his skull is about to explode. Anything to stop that awful pounding against his door and inside his head.
“Fine. Go sit down and I’ll come out in a minute.” He says, and Taehyung immediately stops. Jimin hears his friends shuffling about in the living room, speaking in quiet voices, probably trying to decide how to approach a susceptible Jimin without letting him shut down completely. Having being friends with them for decades (Taehyung) and centuries (Yoongi and Hoseok), Jimin knows their M.O. when it comes to dealing with Jeongguk-related situations, and as he steps into the living room and out of his dark, moody bedroom, he silently praises himself on his correct assumptions.
There’s food and soju on the coffee table, and Jimin’s best friends are on the couch and chairs. Only Taehyung looks up when Jimin appears in his field of vision and offers him a bright smile.
“Where are the things I asked for?” Jimin asks.
“In the kitchen, now come sit down,” Taehyung says patting a cushion near the coffee table with his foot. “We brought kimchi jjigae and bibimbap. Oh, and there’s ice cream for dessert.”
Jimin snorts. “It’s like, three am.” He says, passing a hand through his greasy hair. Gross.
“Well, not like we can have lunch at three pm when I’m here.” Hoseok tells him, pointing towards himself with both index fingers. His orangey aura is bright and glowy, and it reminds Jimin of the upcoming soul binding for Jeongguk. It hurts.
Yoongi slaps Hoseok on the leg. “You don’t eat anyway.”
Jimin shakes his head. Just the usual monthly gathering with a touch of despair and hurt on Jimin’s part, it seems.
They dig in, sharing the food between them and fighting whenever Taehyung tries to steal from Jimin’s portion. Yoongi and Hoseok yell at him and Jimin just lets him, because even though he hasn’t eaten since he came back from Jeju, he doesn’t feel hungry in the least.
His friends wait until Jimin is sitting with a pint of ice cream in his hand and a table spoon in the other before they start their questions. Jimin notices them giving each other subtle looks for about five minutes before Hoseok clears his throat.
“So, how were the Jeju fairies?” He asks, smiling from his place in the couch, head lying on Yoongi’s lap. “Heard they’re a handful.”
Jimin shrugs, grateful that they’ve started on a safer topic. “Didn’t see much of them, to be honest. We—I mostly dealt with Bogum, who’s as far from a traditional fairy as Taehyung is.”
“So what you’re trying to say is that he’s annoyingly human.” Yoongi translates.
“What I’m trying to say is that he tries to be humanlike, but there were far too many awkward hand shakes.”
Taehyung groans. “And I told him not to do it that often! I’m gonna call him later.”
“Yoongi hyung says you took an uninvited guest to Jeju,” Hoseok says, each word carefully enunciated as he examines Jimin’s reaction. “How did that happen.”
Jimin stabs the spoon into the ice cream. “Ask Kim Taehyung.” He says through gritted teeth.
“I was just trying to give you guys some space away from everyone.” Taehyung tells the room, and his voice, though small, is steady and defiant.
Jimin drops the tub of ice cream on the coffee table with a bang. “And who gave you the right to interfere, Taehyung?”
Here comes Taehyung’s temper rushing in. “I did. I gave myself the right to stop my friends from being irrational idiots. You two are in love, you’ve been for so damn long!”
“Jeongguk doesn’t love me, Taehyung.”
Taehyung reels back as if slapped. “Excuse me, what now?”
Jimin sighs. Damn it, he wishes he could take back what he just said, if only to escape the myriad of questions that are about to come his way. He turns vulnerable, watery eyes to Yoongi and Hoseok, who’re staring at him as if he just sprouted a second head. His three friends are looking at him like he just said something outrageous, and it pisses Jimin off.
“Look,” He starts, gaze shifting between the three of them. “He’s never said it, okay? I don’t—What if—“
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” Taehyung throws his head back, eyes closing under a frown.
“So what,” Yoongi says, leaning forward, arms crossed. “You need him to say it out loud? Jimin, you haven’t even said it before.”
“But he knows I do! I don’t need to tell him—“
“I don’t know, Jiminie,” Hoseok interrupts, raising his head from Yoongi’s lap until he’s sitting. “You don’t seem to know for sure, so how are you expecting him to know?”
“I’m pretty obvious, aren’t I?”
“Well so is he!” Taehyung yells. “He took you on so many trips when he was supposed to be working, Jimin. He risked Seokjin’s terrible temper for you!”
Jimin feels a tight ball of outrage make its home at the pit of his stomach. It’s nasty and somber, filling the emptiness the experience at Jeju had left behind.
“Why are you defending him so much?” Jimin’s eyes narrow, voice darkening. “I thought you were on my side with this. What happened to let’s kill him if he gets annoying, Jimin?”
Taehyung stares at him, eyes an intense maple orange. He’s finding the correct words, Jimin thinks, he’s going to tell me he’s decided to become Switzerland in this war.
When Taehyung finally speaks, he seems to have reined in his anger. Instead he raises his chin and looks at Jimin through his glasses, strangely at peace.
“You know Jeongguk came by.”
Jimin doesn’t say anything.
“He explained some things that you know I can’t repeat because I’m under oath.” Taehyung tilts his head, corner of his mouth curling up, eyes glinting. “But there’s someone here who can.”
And then he turns to Hoseok and gives him finger guns.
Jimin’s eyes widen in shock. What the fuck is Taehyung talking about?
“Wait, wait, wait,” Yoongi says, raising his hands up turning to look at Hoseok, incredulity written all over his soft features. “What do you know that we don’t?”
The way he says ‘we’ seems to replace a very obvious ‘I’.
Hoseok looks so apologetic that for a moment he resembles a kicked puppy waiting for a praise from its owner, his aura flaring around him in panic. It would’ve been funny if Jimin hadn’t been so intrigued by the meaning behind Taehyung’s words.
“I..” Hoseok bites his lip and reaches for Yoongi’s hand. He clutches it in his palm. “Hyung, you have to understand that Lord Seokjin forbid us from speaking about this. But I just—Jeongguk’s been a good hyung to me too, and this has been hurting him for a long time.”
And again Seokjin. Can’t he disappear from everyone’s minds for the rest of eternity?
“Speak, Hoseok.” Yoongi tells him, severe. Contrary to his harsh manner, he places his other hand on top of Hoseok’s and squeezes.
Somewhat relieved by Yoongi’s gesture, Hoseok takes a deep breath and faces Jimin who’s still gaping at him from the floor.
“What happened?” Jimin whispers.
Hoseok swallows. “When Jeongguk hyung came back from Vienna… he was a fucking storm, Jimin. He basically broke into Lord Seokjin’s office and started screaming at him while a couple of other clan members and I watched in shock. He said—He said he was done.”
Hoseok grimaces. “He said a lot of things, but in short, he threatened to leave the clan. He told Lord Seokjin that he wanted to be with you and that no amount of stupid duties would tie him down in London forever.”
That breaks Jimin completely, leaves him wounded and open, bleeding love all over the apartment. Jeongguk had actually defied Seokjin like that for him.
Yoongi squeezes Hoseok’s hand again. “Go on.”
Hoseok looks at Taehyung, and Taehyung nods.
“At some point Lord Seokjin threw all of us out, but I just couldn’t leave when Jeongguk hyung was so agitated. So I stalled outside, you know I’m good at hiding. Their fight went on for a while and then Jeongguk hyung told Lord Seokjin… he said… that he’d been considering it for a few years.”
Jimin’s heart starts beating faster, hammering against his ribcage as strong as Taehyung had been earlier at his door. “It.” He repeats.
“The soul binding ceremony.”
But that couldn’t be right, could it? Jeongguk had only recently reached out to Jimin with the request, and before that he’d always seemed so against it, almost like he was disgusted by the mere idea of it. There’s no way that he’s thinking about it since Vienna, since… before.
“Are you sure that’s what he said?”
“Of course, I am. I have heightened hearing, y’know.”
Taehyung huffs exasperated. “Hoseok hyung! Hurry up, I swear this is taking way too long!”
“I’m getting to it!” Hoseok assures him, also agitated. “So after that Jeongguk hyung left London again. He was gone for a couple of years before Lord Seokjin found him somewhere in India and dragged him back. And then it just kept happening.” Hoseok pauses here, eyes intense as Jimin stares. “He kept escaping Lord Seokjin and going to different places: China, Russia, South America. But he was always found, eventually.”
“What was he doing there?” Jimin feels numb.
He asks though he already knows in the deepest part of his heart. Because Jeongguk never gives up, he never does, not even if a hundred years went by, a whole century apart from Jimin, if that’s what it took to get what he wanted.
Hoseok looks at his hands. “He was looking for a witch who’d also succeeded before.”
The truth is bittersweet.
Major questions had been answered for Jimin, but others remained in glowing letters, floating over Jimin’s head like annoying, buzzing mosquitoes.
So Jeongguk had been considering getting his soul back for some time, but for how long? Had he been acting like he was against it? No, Jimin thinks as he walks down the street, having escaped the apartment in need of some urgent fresh air. Jeongguk had seemed angry when Jimin had suggested it, truly, irrevocably furious. So furious in fact that he’d slipped up and let Jimin see the demon he’d always kept hidden behind his handsome human features.
And why, oh why had he gone to other witches when Jimin was there, perfectly disposed to do it? China, Russia and South America, Hoseok had said, so that means he must’ve scouted Europe before that fight with Seokjin, probably long before Vienna. The thought saddens and confuses Jimin, but it also fills him with immense warmth, just like the heat he’d always felt when in Jeongguk’s arms.
It feels so stupid now that he’d even dared doubt Jeongguk’s feelings for him just because he’s never uttered those three words. Jimin knows how heavy they are, after all, they haunt his every thought and yet he can’t shape his lips around them.
He looks up at the starry sky now dissolving into the pinkish tones of dawn and sighs.
He wonders if Jeongguk is looking at the sky too.
The Seoul National Cemetery looks particularly beautiful around this time of the year.
Yoongi is a perfectly sound option.
Jimin notices something’s wrong before he even steps inside his building. He goes up the elevator trying to balance his options, thinking of every attacking hex he’s ever learned over the years and ranking them by effectiveness if only to calm down and stay level-headed.
Transferring the large bag of groceries to his left hand, Jimin enters the password at his front door, and pushes it open.
He almost drops the food on the floor.
“How did you get in?”
Seokjin scoffs. “Please. You cannot seriously believe those spells can keep me out for long. They were easy enough to break through after a couple of hours. Maybe it’s time you reinforced your shields, Jiminie.”
Jeongguk never looks the same as the last time Jimin saw him, but Seokjin always does. He still has that bleached blond hair, almost silver under the cool lighting of the room. That overly polite, calculating smile on his face is the same one he’d given Jimin years ago during their first meeting; that condescending up and down movement of his eyes as he scans Jimin from top to bottom is just as infuriating as it had been a hundred years ago.
He sits there in Jimin’s couch wearing a dark blue three-piece, shiny leather shoes and glossy rings, looking like he owns the small apartment and like he’s incredibly out of place at the same time. A contradiction, just like Jeongguk.
Jimin closes the door behind him and walks into the kitchen area, reeling from Seokjin’s provocations. He places the bag of groceries on the counter, and slowly, very slowly, turns to face Seokjin.
“I thought cold ones can’t enter uninvited.”
Seokjin grins. “I’m not just anyone, Jimin. I could probably break through Namjoon’s spells if I wanted to, but I would rather not upset him.” That patronizing smile turns softer around the edges; his eyes, kinder. “I have done too much of that over the years and I have decided to stop.”
“Is that why you’re here?” Jimin asks, crossing his arms. “To talk about Namjoon hyung?”
Seokjin sneers at the word hyung, and Jimin smiles at him, smug. Seokjin and his jealousy, probably the reason he and Namjoon fought the last time, now that he thinks about it.
“If you must know, yes, at least in part. He has mentioned that you have been gracious enough to… help in my upcoming ritual.”
“I’m not gonna perform it, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Of course not. Jeongguk would not forgive me if I interrupted this time.” Seokjin says. There’s a slight frown on his forehead. He looks at his hands, as if at a loss. “He has warned me enough times that I’m willing to let him do as he likes from now on.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means,” Seokjin flashes red eyes at Jimin. “I’m not getting between you two anymore. He’s free to come live in this wonderfully stale apartment with you if he so desires.”
Anger spreads through Jimin like wildfire chasing gasoline. It ignites his veins with such rage that for a fleeting moment he thinks his magic might break out and cause some accident like it used to do back when he was new to witchcraft.
Finally, after a century, the confirmation straight from the horse’s mouth that he’d been waiting for. Seokjin had directly interfered that time in Vienna. Jeongguk’s new position in the clan hadn’t happened spontaneously, Seokjin had forced it on him.
“So you did take him away from me all those years ago?” He asks, fingernails digging into his palms.
Seokjin’s beautiful face turns malicious and dark. His eyes glow a fiery red, skin darkening grey. “Jeongguk isn’t yours.”
“What, are you trying to say he’s yours, now? Don’t give me that bullshit, Seokjin. If you truly loved him you wouldn’t have made him so miserable by forcing those duties on him. We went to Vienna in the first place because he wanted a breath of fresh air away from you and everyone in the clan. He was so tired of you sending him everywhere as an ambassador that he had to leave London.”
“He still took you everywhere, didn’t he?” His words are spat out like venom, bitter and burning. “Versailles, Florence, Paris. I sent him there for his own good, so he’d meet others like us, and he just took you with him without consulting me first. He’s still so disobedient.”
“He’s not a child!”
“He’s my child!” Seokjin bellows. “I saved him. I gave him a second chance at life.”
“He doesn’t owe you anything. He didn’t ask to be a vampire.” Jimin really wants to punch that hard head of his until he understands, until it penetrates his thick skull that Jeongguk isn’t a kid. “You took that choice away from him, just like you’ve tried to do with everything else.”
“It doesn’t matter what I want, anymore.” Seokjin says, hands tugging at his hair. He sounds broken. “He has made it quite clear that he will kill h—that he will leave if I interfere again. I got yelled at quite strongly when I first refused to help him with the soul binding a few weeks ago. I swear I’m not—I will not force him to do anything ever again.”
Jimin stares at him, trying to understand his obsession with keeping Jeongguk by his side for so long. Seokjin doesn’t just want to fuck their lives over, he truly sees Jeongguk as part of his family. And Jimin knows how kind and easy to love Jeongguk is, not even someone as pompous as Seokjin would be able to resist him when he’s putting on the charm.
He feels a sudden kinship with Seokjin. The thought makes him slightly sick.
“Why?” He asks. “Why did you suddenly want to get your soul back? You’ve always been the main reason Jeongguk’s been opposed to it, I know it.”
Seokjin glares at him, but there’s no malice behind it. He seems vulnerable and exposed, nothing like the man Jimin is used to seeing at parties and underworldian events. He lets out a short, shuddering sigh, and parts his lips.
“I had a long talk with Jeongguk.” He starts, putting his hands together as if in prayer, the tips of his fingers touching his plush lower lip. “We shouted a lot. He cursed a lot. I thought it was the usual kind of discussion we’ve been having for centuries now. He spent almost a hundred years trying to find a witch other than you that could perform the soul binding. I thought it was a waste of time and effort, and I let him know it every time I could. But this time he—he asked me…” He pauses there, eyes looking through Jimin, as if he weren’t there. “He demanded that I swear on Namjoon’s life that I did not try to separate you two on purpose.”
“And you couldn’t do that.”
“Of course not!” Seokjin exclaims, eyes widening. “It was Namjoon’s life on the line. And Jeongguk—he obviously knew I could not go through with it. He probably only wanted to confirm his suspicions, anyway.”
“And so what? That reminded you of how much you love and missed Namjoon hyung?”
“Yes.” Seokjin replies immediately. It’s a simple affirmative, but there’s so much emotion behind it that Jimin blinks in surprise.
They stare at each other, one sitting on an old couch, the other standing by the kitchen—both holding their ground. Seokjin’s aura is also grey, a mark of the soulless, and it flies around him like a warm blanket trying to protect him from the frost of their words. The revelations hang between them, floating evidence of how deeply they feel despite housing demons inside them.
Seokjin’s not done.
“You asked me why I came here.” He says, standing up to his full height. He passes his hands over his suit as if shaking lint off himself, back to being Lord Kim Seokjin. “Here’s my reply: I came here to tell you the truth. You may do with it as you please, but, if I may be so bold—“
“Seokjin, you broke into my home,” Jimin points out. “‘Bold’ doesn’t begin to cover it.”
Seokjin presses his lips together for a moment. “Just…” He whispers. “Do not hurt Jeongguk.”
“Then I’m gonna be bolder.” Jimin says. “Don’t hurt anyone anymore. Yourself included.”
Yes, Seokjin always looks the same every time Jimin sees him again, but the soft, wistful smile curving on his lips is something new, something unexpected.
“I’m trying now, aren’t I?”
Jimin had been a sixteen year old orphan with no prospects, no food and no job when he’d met Wilhelmina. She’d picked him off the road where he’d been lying drenched in sweat thanks to a fever, and had taken him in.
He had been surprised to find strange, wide blue eyes staring at him when he’d woken up, a colour he’d never seen on anyone’s eyes before. She’d been as European as any woman could be, with fair skin, hair and eyes, and an air of superiority that she never truly shook off until the moment of her death.
Her Korean had been perfect. “I’m teaching you to live.” She’d said before explaining to Jimin the intricacies of witchcraft.
Jimin had learned enthusiastically, putting long hours of work into learning spells, potion-making, pentagram-drawing and everything else about the demon world. However years passed by, and despite gaining the knowledge to become a witch, Wilhelmina hadn’t allowed him to perform the pact that would grant him the power.
On a cold night in January, probably anticipating her upcoming death, Wilhelmina had finally tugged Jimin into the forest, and told him the time had arrived. She’d instructed him to draw the bloodied star and runes on the floor and to crown them with a perfect circle. It’d taken Jimin three and a half hours to get it up to her standards, and then she’d explained the process.
She’d gifted him the Athame, chalice and wand Jimin uses to this day, and coached him through the entire thing.
“The demon will appear before you and ask for the price,” she’d said, fingers trembling on Jimin’s forearms. She’d carved the rune for protection into Jimin’s skin with her own dagger. “They will choose you. And you must swear to serve under them for the rest of your lifetime.”
Though Jimin already knew how this went like the back of his hand, he’d still shaken in fear, the severity of the situation, the reality of it finally landing on him like a ton of bricks. “So I’ll be soulless?” He’d asked in his desperation, seeking reassurance, not knowledge. He’d already known the answer.
“Of course not, boy.” Wilhelmina had replied. “But the demon will rule over it. You’re selling a lifetime of sacrifices and ceremonies in the name of the demon. You’re not selling yourself.”
Jimin had been bleeding in the middle of the pentagram when It had appeared before him in a cloud of black smoke—the winged, horned beast.
Nine pm sharp.
And I’m sorry, so, so sorry for how I treated you.
We’ll talk after.
All Hallows’ Eve dawns dreary and wet, and yet Jimin feels invigorated, his magic buzzing at his fingertips.
Namjoon pops in around eight am with the rare three-eyed chicken in tow and a softness on his eyes and aura than makes Jimin smile. He hopes he and Seokjin have resolved their issues, whatever they were.
After Namjoon leaves, Jimin spends the rest of the morning and the entire afternoon obsessing over Jeongguk and the ceremony, and Jeongguk all over again. He knows he wants to talk to him, to sort out the misunderstandings on both their parts, but Jimin can’t afford to do so before the ceremony takes place. So he sits in bed with his journals and spends hours checking every detail until it’s already dark outside and his phone’s alarm is going off.
Large bag of supplies in one hand and three-eyed chicken in the other, Jimin leaves the apartment feeling ten times more anxious than the time he went through the blood rite to achieve immortality. Not even feeling a demon taking over him, selling his soul to said demon for the power he possesses now, had been as nerve-racking as stepping into the night with a demonic chicken clucking inside the cage in Jimin’s hand.
Yoongi had told him to go ahead, seemingly in an attempt to give Jimin and Jeongguk some privacy in case they required it. Jimin, however, has made up his mind already. He doesn’t know if they’ll be able to fall back into their relationship like they used to, but at least Jimin is going to give a Jeongguk a chance to explain himself.
He’s also going to apologize to Jeongguk for being such a meathead the entire month, particularly after what happened in Jeju. But that would have to wait until after the ceremony. Jimin doesn’t think he’ll be be able to concentrate if they talk beforehand, whatever Jeongguk’s reply might be.
Seoul National Cemetery is a large green area separated into a park, a museum and a graveyard. Jeongguk had been right to point out its beauty during this time of the year, the trees are a lovely shade of orange, and the lights the hanging light decorating the place for the public glitter in the night. He silently presses a repelling spell into the trees as he goes by, a preventive measure in case a roaming human decides to follow his steps.
Jimin walks through the park section already aware of the wandering spirits of the place taking an interest in his aura. They swirl around him, poking him curiously, wanting a taste of his magic but Jimin ignores them. He crosses into the graveyard and feels it instantly. The energy levels make him gasp slightly, suddenly overcome by the amplified spiritual residue taking over the area like fog—All Hallows’ Eve’s doing.
He walks past the numerous identical graves towards an empty grassy patch, settles the chicken’s cage on the floor, and waits.
Not long after, he sees Yoongi’s small, shadowy figure trotting towards him, tail raised in alert. Just as he’s reaching Jimin’s side, Jimin notices a tall figure stepping through the gates of the graveyard. Jeongguk is dressed in a similar suit to the one he’d worn at the café and is carrying a large travelling trunk that Jimin guesses must contain the remaining ingredients. He looks paler than usual as he raises his head looking for Jimin, hands fidgeting at his sides as he steps closer.
He stops when he notices Jimin looking at him and their eyes meet, so many things held in their gazes that Jimin wants to scream. But no, he’d decided to wait just a little more for both their sanities and the success of the ceremony. That doesn’t stop him from wanting to run to Jeongguk and greet him with a kiss, though. He has to bite his tongue to keep himself from actually doing it.
“Hyung,” Jeongguk says when he’s close enough, breathy, like he’d holding it in since he saw Jimin. He probably did. “Hi.”
Yoongi, always a sucker for teasing Jeongguk, immediately jumps at the opportunity.
“Hello Jeongguk,” He says, amber eyes wide. “How nice of you to greet me first.”
Jeongguk glares at him. “Yoongi hyung. Hello.”
Jimin wants to slap them both. He rolls his eyes. “Hello, hi. Now that we’ve all greeted each other, stay here while I build a shield around us. You can glare at each other all you want while I do that.”
He takes his wand out of his pocket and begins reciting spells as he walks in a circle, marking the periphery and building a shield that will act as both protection and concealment. Jeongguk and Yoongi stay silent the entire time, pretending the other is nothing more than an insect in the moist grass underneath them. Jimin glances at them a couple of times as he goes, and finds them staring in opposite directions, refusing to accidentally meet each other’s gazes. The fact that Yoongi is in his cat form makes it even funnier.
When he’s done, he pockets his wand once again and walks towards Jeongguk.
“Did you follow my instructions this past week?” He asks.
“Slept for way too many hours every day. Didn’t feed for an entire week.”
“Is everything in the trunk?” He nods towards it still held in Jeongguk’s hand.
Jeongguk nods. He sets it on the ground and unlocks it with a small key he produces out of his pocket. The trunk’s heavy lid opens to reveal two large glass jars, both full of dark, almost black blood, and the pair of goat horns Jimin had asked for weeks ago. It seems like such a long time ago now.
“Okay, here’s what I’m gonna do.” He says, feeling strangely like a lecturer as Jeongguk stares at him, eyes wide. “I think that… after last um, that after last time it’s better if I tell you everything just in case you er, panic.”
If Jeongguk could blush, he’d be as red as an apple. “That’s… yeah, probably for the best.”
Yoongi eyes them quietly but doesn’t say anything.
“I’m going to mix half of Seokjin’s blood with half of yours in my chalice. I’ll add some of mine so the pentagram will be activated. I’ll then draw the pentagram on the grass and move on to mixing the rest of the ingredients in my cauldron.”
Jimin raises at eyebrow at him. “You’ve probably asked Hoseok about this.” Jeongguk nods slowly. “And I’ve told you about it before, years ago.”
Jeongguk gives him a sad smile. “You did.”
Jimin wishes he could time travel to after the soul binding. He sighs. “So you remember you have to be naked for this.”
Yoongi groans. “Oh, this is not going to be fun, not at all.”
Jeongguk looks down at him like he wants to kick him across the graveyard. “It’s fine. It’s not like you haven’t seen me naked before, Yoongi. I’m sure you’ll love a reminder.”
He’s talking about Versailles, their first time. Yoongi had caught them at it in one of the many guest rooms in the palace and had made such a comical expression of disgust that Jeongguk and Jimin had spent fifteen minutes just crying in laughter as they lay naked on the bed.
“Good to know that’s not going to be a problem, then.” Jimin whispers, averting his eyes and getting to work on what he’d explained. Once the chalice is full, Jimin paints the pentagram, and then urges Jeongguk to strip as he busies himself with taking out the rest of the ingredients and his cauldron.
He hears Jeongguk’s clothes fall to the floor as he’s burning Wormwood and Hyssop into the cauldron, pretending that he doesn’t want to turn around and talk to him. He pours the remaining blood alongside the ashes and stirs the potion with a wave of his hand.
“Should I lay in the middle?” Jeongguk asks, his voice closer than Jimin had expected. He winces a little, willing his voice to steady as he replies.
“Lay your head on the lower point and spread you legs and arms over the others.” Jimin says. “Yoongi hyung can guide you.”
“How well do you know your art, Jeongguk?” Yoongi asks somewhere behind Jimin.
Jeongguk doesn’t even hesitate. “Very well.”
“Familiar with Da Vinci?”
Jimin has to bite his lip to stop the smile curving his lips.
“Just like the Vitruvian Man, then. Or Patrick Star, whichever reference you prefer.” Yoongi tells him as Jimin uncaps the tiny bottle of Taehyung’s fairy tears and drops its contents into the cauldron. A faint, purplish smoke rises up as everything mixes together. Almost done, now on to the Devil’s Claw and horns.
He places a piece of charcoal on the ground, ignites magical fire with his wand, and then places the cauldron over it until it’s floating over the fire. His last two ingredients are carefully thrown inside the cauldron until the murky potion inside it boils and changes, turning into the dark mauve of the Draught of Restoration.
Yoongi appears by his side, nose in the air as he inspects the potion’s odour. “How’s everything going, Jiminie?” He asks. “It smells disgustingly ready to me.”
“It is.” Jimin replies, reaching for his chalice. He dips the cauldron onto its side, pouring the potion into the chalice until it’s full, almost to the brim. “Is he in the correct position?”
Yoongi lets out a scoff. “You tell me.”
Alright, Jimin is an adult man. Come on, now. Get it together. Hating the way his pulse picks up, Jimin turns around.
Jeongguk is, indeed, perfectly in place. His arms and legs are stretched outwards, fingers almost grazing the pointed tips of the star. He’s also deliciously, wonderfully naked. Jimin hasn’t seen that body so bare for so long, he itches to run his hand down Jeongguk’s hard chest, to caress his softer thighs, to hold his hand. The time at Jeju hadn’t been enough for either of them.
Jimin makes it a point to avoid looking at Jeongguk’s groin area as he steps into the pentagram and leans down, presenting him with the chalice. Jeongguk looks up at him enthralled, eyes dark and lips parted just the tiniest bit.
“You have to drink this,” Jimin tells him softly, heartbeat in his ears. “It tastes awful, but it’s part of the ceremony.”
Jeongguk takes the chalice, raising himself up onto his elbows. “I’m sure I’ve tasted worse before."
Jimin watches him down the entire thing in one go, endeared by Jeongguk’s willingness to follow Jimin’s instructions without complaint. Feeling bold, Jimin leans down slightly, and wipes the remnants of the potion off Jeongguk’s lips with his sleeve.
Jeongguk blinks at him, owlishly.
“No erections!” Yoongi yells.
It’s enough to send both of them into a fit of quiet giggles. And damn if it feels good to be laughing with Jeongguk after the tension of the past month. It ignites a firework in Jimin’s heart and gives him hope that this—him and Jeongguk the ceremony—might work out fine.
“Okay then, here we go.” He looks into Jeongguk’s eyes and nods.
Before he can stand up, Jeongguk curls his hand around Jimin’s wrist and holds on, brings his hand towards his lips and leaves a cold as ice kiss right there.
“After everything is over,” He starts with pleading eyes and voice. “Please, please hyung. Give me one more chance to explain. One last time, just one and I’ll leave you alone… if that’s what you want.”
There have been many times when Jimin had wondered why fate had put Jeongguk on his doorstep that night, why he’d gone to Jimin when someone of his status could’ve easily asked for the High Warlock of Busan of the time. Coincidences are a human concept created to interpret events with no natural explanation, but neither of them is human, and neither of them believe in their existence.
He’s giving Jeongguk all the chances in the world if that is what he wants. Jimin doesn’t care about his insecurities and doubts. Whatever Jeongguk wants, he’ll get, because Jimin wants to give it to him, because Jimin loves—
“I love you.” Jimin blurts out, surprising himself in the process.
“Jimin, oh my god, not the time!” Yoongi sounds like he’d rather drown himself that stand there, listening to them.
“Hyung.” Jeongguk exhales, shocked. For fuck’s sake, he’s laying naked on the floor in the middle of a pentagram, and Jimin still finds him so adorable he wants to lean down and kiss him.
But they can’t waste any more time, they have to start the actual ritual before midnight or they’ll loose momentum with the spirit world. Demons are usually most active around midnight on All Hallows’ Eve, and they need as much spiritual power as they can get to boost the success rate of the soul binding.
Jimin doesn’t move though, he stays by Jeongguk’s side as if frozen in place. Jeongguk is staring at him like he’s waiting for Jimin to elaborate, to continue whatever thread of thought made him confess in such an anticlimactic way.
“I’m sorry,” Jimin rushes out, eyes wild. “I’m sorry about Jeju. I’m sorry I pushed you away and acted like such a jerk when you’ve been trying so hard since we last saw each other—“
There’s a glint of surprise in Jeongguk’s eyes. “You know? How—Who—Taehyung didn’t—“
“Hoseok told me.” Jimin tells him, and the hand around his wrist tightens. “You—You should’ve told me from the start.”
Jimin wants to cry. “Jeongguk—“
Yoongi is definitely the more sensible of the three. He jumps on top of Jeongguk’s stomach and without further ado, scratches at Jimin’s hand with his claws.
“Ow, hyung!” Jimin reels back, holding his injured hand towards his chest.
“This is really romantic and everything, but if you don’t want Jeongguk to go another year without his soul, you better get moving, Jimin!”
He has a job to do. Only he can do it, and it has to happen now.
Jimin nods to himself and almost forcefully has to remove Jeongguk’s hand from around his wrist. He holds it for a moment as he stands up on shaky legs, and then lets go. He can’t bear to look at Jeongguk as he steps away, ignoring his loud pleas to come back, to finish this conversation. He hears Yoongi saying something to Jeongguk and his voice sounds more human, lower. He must’ve transformed to hold Jeongguk in place, the raw strength of a shape shifter versus the rock hard determination of a vampire.
The chicken is clucking faintly inside its cage as Jimin approaches and opens the small gate, its three small, red eyes blinking at Jimin. He reaches inside, hand closing around the chicken’s yellow feet, and carefully pulls it out of the cage, upside down. He gets a couple of well deserved angry pecks all over his arm as he takes it back towards the pentagram.
“Jimin hyung!” Jeongguk’s still trying to get his attention, still under Yoongi’s weight.
“I promise we’ll talk after this,” Jimin tells him, distracting himself with sacrificing the chicken in a swift slash of his Athame. His hands are wobbly and so are his legs. “I promise.”
“Jimin, hurry up!” Yoongi yells through gritted teeth.
He draws the runes on himself with the chicken’s blood, sits at the edge of the pentagram, and places the chicken’s body between Jeongguk’s legs.
A deep sigh. His magic flows around him, bright pink.
It’s show time.
The demon that stands in front of Jimin is a dark, serpent-shaped figure surrounded by a black mist of demonic power. It regards him with curious, shrew eyes, as if trying to figure out the puzzle of Jimin’s sudden summoning, clearly slightly offended if the way his eyes narrow is to be interpreted.
Name, it hisses. Demons never waste any time.
Park Jimin, humble worshipper of Abaddon.
I have heard of you. What is the purpose of this rude awakening?
Jeon Jeongguk’s soul.
The demon stays silent for a while, just like Hoseok’s demon had done in the face of Jimin’s disrespectful request.
A small ball of light floats in front of the demon. It has a colour, but for some reason Jimin can’t seem to name it. It’s the colour of the sky in the day and the waves of Busan in the Summer, and Jimin knows what it’s called, doesn’t he? Then why can’t he even think of it?
You brought a rare sacrifice.
My request is improper, Jimin tells It. I brought along an appreciative gift in hopes of swaying the verdict.
The demon quiets again, considering the value of the three-eyed chicken. They are rare creatures in this day and age, with a high enough amount of demonic energy that one specimen can satisfy even Leviathan for a few years. For Hoseok’s ceremony, they’d offered up a regular goat that Hoseok’s lower rank demon had accepted in a heartbeat.
Leviathan isn’t that generous.
It feels like he waits forever for Its reply. He doesn’t know how much time goes by, it could be days, months, years for all he knows. Leviathan never takes his eyes off him, but they’re not focused on Jimin’s insignificant form.
He can feel his magic fading around him, slowly falling dormant in much needed rest, but Jimin doesn’t allow it. He closes his eyes and concentrates, using the reserve magic he’d obtained in Jeju to keep him going.
His eyes are closing, his mind is wandering. He’s not quite there anymore, but Leviathan still doesn’t speak.
Jimin is losing hope. He watches the sky-and-sea-coloured ball of light dance between them, like it’s trying to decide where to go.
It dances for a long time.
The ball of light settles in Jimin’s palm, so unexpectedly warm.
Jimin just wants to die, he wants to lie down and die. Anything other than this feeling of emptiness. He doesn’t feel his body or his magic. He’s drained.
Leviathan disappears, leaving Jimin with the fluttering soul in his hand.
“Jimin!” Yoongi sounds so far away, but he’s right there by Jimin’s side.
Jimin doesn’t reply. He’s staring at the cloud of smoke that settles over the three-eyed chicken and takes it away.
Well paid. A cold voice whispers in his ear.
Jimin feels like he’s dying.
“Jimin!” Yoongi hyung.
Jeongguk is looking at him through hooded, blank eyes. He’s sitting in the middle of the pentagram holding the ball of light in his hands. It’s the colour of Jimin’s toothbrush, the colour of Taehyung’s hair when it’s summer. It’s the colour of those little berries Jimin likes eating, the colour of hydrangeas and Emperor butterflies.
What is it? What is it?
He doesn’t get to figure it out. Jeongguk lifts the ball of light towards his lips, opens his mouth and allows it to float into his mouth, it’s light taking over Jeongguk’s entire body, bathing it in a vibrant glow.
Jeongguk’s eyes reclaim their usual brightness. They’re two cups of Barbera coffee with one sugar and no milk, like Jimin likes it. They looks around, unfocused, until they notice Jimin in front of him, probably looking like a mess.
“Hyung!” He yells.
Everyone is yelling and Jimin is falling. He’s so thirsty, he’s so hungry. He’s so damn tired.
He wants to sleep.
Jeongguk is on his feet now, and Yoongi is shaking Jimin, asking him questions.
Jimin closes his eyes.
Jimin wakes up like he did after his first soul binding: with a kiss pressed against the corner of his lips.
He grunts as he awakens, keeps his eyes tightly closed against the blinding light hanging over him, and slowly starts gaining feeling in his limbs. He moves his fingers over the soft sheets of his bed—his bed? How did he even get there?—wiggles his toes and stretches his arms and legs, letting out a soft moan of displeasure.
He feels completely wrecked.
“Hyung?” Jeongguk is extremely quiet, voice only slightly louder than a whisper. He’s somewhere by Jimin’s left side, and Jimin can feel his hesitation and anxiety as if they were his own. “Hyung.”
There are careful hands framing his face, soft, long fingers caressing his skin as Jimin finally opens his eyes.
Blue. There’s a bright, beautiful blue all around Jeongguk. It glitters when Jeongguk’s brown eyes meet Jimin’s, like a fanned flame dancing in delight. Jeongguk leans closer, hands still so infinitely tender on Jimin’s face, thumbs lovingly caressing the corners of Jimin’s lips, where he’d laid his kiss.
It had worked. It had worked. All the desperation of those last few seconds when they’d looked at each other before everything had gone to black dissolves inside Jimin like dust in the wind. He sighs, his tired eyes demanding he close them but not wanting to take his gaze of Jeongguk and his aura, the proof that this exhaustion is worth it.
Jeongguk… His lips form around his name, but his voice fails him.
“Don’t speak yet, hyung.” Jeongguk says, worry still painted over his pretty face. “You’re still weak. Namjoon hyung said you might need to sleep for a couple more days.”
Namjoon? Shouldn’t he be in the same position Jimin is right now, trying to recuperate from the ceremony he performed for Seokjin?
“What…” He tries to project his question as strongly as he can and is successful. Jeongguk immediately gives him his answer.
“He and Seokjin hyung spoke,” He says, voice still shaking. “They decided… to give each other some time. A year.”
So Namjoon didn’t perform the soul binding?
“They opted to try next Halloween.” Jeongguk smiles. “Which was just fate playing in our favour again. If Namjoon hyung had been busy, Yoongi wouldn’t have been able to call him for help.”
At Jimin’s questioning frown, Jeongguk rushes to explain what had happened. Jeongguk had passed out mere seconds after Jimin, and Yoongi had called Namjoon almost in hysterics. Namjoon and Seokjin had hurried over and helped to take them back to Jimin’s apartment, where both of them had been nursed back to health by Namjoon’s attentions. Jeongguk had woken up two days earlier, and had been sitting at Jimin’s bedside since then.
“You gave me my soul back, hyung. I can feel it, somehow.” Jeongguk tries to explain. “It’s like I feel like myself for the first time in centuries. It’s a strange feeling, but not entirely unwelcome.” He swallows, eyes full of emotion. “Thank you, hyung.”
Jimin’s voice is barely there when he speaks. “You’re welcome, Jeongguk-ah.” He gazes at him, finally able to say what he’s been holding for a week and a half. “And I’m sorry. For Jeju.”
“You are forgiven,” Jeongguk tells him. “Of course you are. I understand why you acted the way you did.”
“It was still shitty of me.”
“That, I can agree with.”
Identical grins take over their lips. A moment later, Jeongguk’s falls, curling into a grimace as he looks at Jimin.
“I was so—hyung, I was so afraid you’d die.” Jeongguk confesses. He swallows nervously. “When you brought Hoseok’s soul back… you looked dead when I saw you after, lying on the bed, pale and drained… I really thought you wouldn’t wake up, I thought I’d lost you. That’s why when you asked me if I wanted a soul binding I had to refuse. I didn’t want to cause you that much pain over something so selfish.”
Jimin raises an eyebrow and Jeongguk bites his lip.
“I know,” He continues with a grimace. “But I did try to find an alternative. I should’ve known I wouldn’t be able to find anyone who could do it as well as you.”
“Stop trying to charm me.” Jimin tells him, flushing red. He examines Jeongguk’s face again and it feels like he’s truly seeing him for the first time, as if he’d always been trapped behind a filter that wouldn’t let Jimin see him as he is. He looks whole and alive, like he’d been in Jimin’s strange dream in Jeju.
Jeongguk gives him a coy look from under his lashes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“So you came to me because you couldn’t find anyone else who could do it.”
“I knew the process took three months,” Jeongguk starts. “But I spent the entirety of August and September still looking for someone who could do it this year, and no one could. I had no other option but to come to Korea. I came to you because I couldn’t bear to go another hundred years without you.”
Jimin gasps softly, heart trying to escape out of his ribcage. He’s feeling too much all at once.
“Then…”He says, voice shaky. “You’ve really been here for two whole days?”
“I could see Seokjin wanted to order me to go to sleep, but he didn’t.” Jeongguk says this with an affectionate shake of his head. The blue cloud over his head swirls happily around his body. “I guess… he’s truly upholding the promise he made me.”
Jimin remembers Seokjin’s voice, the way he’d screamed he’s my child! He’s glad Seokjin is on the road to changing for the better, specially because Namjoon and Jeongguk love him and they all deserve better.
“Namjoon hyung and Yoongi have been coming in to check on the two us, don’t worry. They just left to get some food,” Jeongguk tells him, threading his fingers through Jimin’s hair soothingly. “I should probably go get—“
Jimin’s eyes widen. He struggles to sit up but Jeongguk’s reliable hands are suddenly right there on his upper arms, holding him up and placing a pillow against his back so he can lay against the headboard.
Jimin wraps both hands around Jeongguk’s wrists to keep him there. “Don’t—Don’t go!” He lets out, breathing quickly through his mouth. “Don’t—Jeongguk!”
Jeongguk shushes him with quiet reassurances. “Okay, hyung, of course not. I’m not going anywhere if you don’t want me to. I promise—“
“Don’t promise me anything,” Jimin says, still holding onto Jeongguk with a vice grip. His eyes bore into Jeongguk’s, needing him to understand. “Just don’t. Just fucking stay here, for once. Stop trying to leave me!”
Jimin’s hard breaths are the only sound in the room, like white noise before an explosion. He holds Jeongguk’s gaze with as much as strength as he can, watches his need mirrored in Jeongguk’s expression.
Three hundred years of kisses and dates around the world flash between them, three hundred years of being in love, of being sad whenever they weren’t together and bursting in joy whenever they met again. So many promises that neither honoured, so much stupidity that kept them from sitting down and talking about it like the adults they are. They had all led to this moment in Jimin’s bedroom where he’d cried so much over the aspects of their relationship that he felt he couldn’t control.
Which was just fate playing in our favour again, Jeongguk had said. And how true. Maybe they were never meant to get it right all those times they spent together, maybe it was always on this year, at this time.
And Jeongguk proves it to him.
“I won’t leave you,” Jeongguk tells him, and Jimin believes him with his entire body and soul this time. There are no more doubts, no more of that shrill voice telling him there’s no hope for them. “Jimin, I won’t leave you. Not even if Seokjin changes his mind and goes back to his manipulative ways, not even if Yoongi bans me from this apartment—“
Jimin starts crying. “I pay most of the rent here!”
And Jeongguk hugs him tight against his chest, his entire body trembling as he hides his face in Jimin’s neck, letting his tears fall on the collar of Jimin’s white t-shirt.
“You left your heart here with me the last time and I’m giving it back to you,” Jimin says through his tears, fingers clutching at Jeongguk’s shirt. “This time you keep it safe and don’t go anywhere. Is that so difficult to do, Jeon Jeongguk?”
Jeongguk laughs against Jimin’s skin, a beautiful sound cutting through Jimin’s unabashed bawling. “I’ll stay here with you, hyung. For the rest of our lives, if that’s what you want. Fuck Seokjin and his duties, I’m coming back to Seoul for you. Permanently.”
But Jimin has other plans and he lets him know. He shakes his head, leaning back until he can press their foreheads together. “Fuck Seoul. If we stay here we’ll have to socialize with Seokjin when he eventually moves in with Namjoon hyung and I don’t wanna see him for at least another hundred years. Let’s go back to Busan. Let’s get a huge, gorgeous place like Namjoon hyung’s. I’m tired of this ugly apartment and I wanna go back home with you.”
Jeongguk kisses him in response, a soft touch of lips that’s meant to convey an array of things: an apology, an affirmative to Jimin’s idea, and his feelings, so obviously worn on his sleeve that Jimin silently reprimands himself for believing otherwise.
He kisses Jeongguk back, taking his time to slowly escalate the kiss into a more passionate territory, feeling the need to have Jeongguk naked and blissful on top of him. Jimin presses his tongue against Jeongguk’s cold lips, sharing his wet warmth with Jeongguk as he deepens the kiss, leaning further into Jimin’s space.
It’s only when Jimin’s adventurous hand slips under his shirt, that Jeongguk gasps against him and separates their lips slightly. They pant into each other’s mouths, feeling each other’s breaths on their lips.
“Hyung, you need to rest.” Jeongguk mumbles. Contrary to what he says, his own hand finds its favourite place on the curve of Jimin’s waist under his shirt, rests there with intention.
“Jeongguk please, I’m always giving in to you.” Jimin kisses his earlobe, sinks his teeth in the soft flesh to hear Jeongguk sigh. “Give in to me once in a while.”
“I don’t give in? Hyung, that’s a blatant lie—“
Jeongguk nips his lower lip with a sharp fang. “Fine.” He licks the tiny bead of blood that sprouts out of the wound. “You win. You always win.”
Unlike their frenzied fucking in Jeju, they take their time. They peel each other’s clothes slowly and delicately, making sure neither of them winces in pain as they undress each other. Jeongguk lays Jimin on the bed as carefully as possible and gets thoroughly kissed as a thank you.
“You’re so beautiful, love,” Jeongguk says, that endearment rolling off his tongue so easily it makes Jimin’s cock throb in response. “So pretty everywhere, my Jimin.”
“Jeongguk.” Jimin moans as Jeongguk kisses down his neck, licking at Jimin’s nipples as he goes down, down, down. He leaves a particularly dark love bite right above Jimin’s bellybutton.
Jimin looks towards the ceiling, feeling Jeongguk’s dextrous fingers wrapping around both their erections now. “I—“ He starts, feeling silly for being afraid of saying those words again, of baring himself even further. “I just—“
Jeongguk seems to have turned his mind-reading off. He looks at Jimin in alarm. “What is it? Are you okay?”
“We can stop if you don’t feel good.”
“No, just let me—”
“We have the rest of our lives, hyung. It doesn’t have to be now—“
“Yes, it does!” Jimin yells at him. He wraps his arms around his neck and brings him down to kiss him until Jeongguk stops fighting him on it. “I’m trying to tell you I love you, goddammit! Let me finish!”
The world didn’t end, nobody died, there’s only Jeongguk staring at Jimin like Jimin just revealed he’s been a vampire the entire time. He sputters, his jaw dropping as he gapes like a goldfish. Jimin really left him speechless.
Despite the shock, Jeongguk’s dick twitches against Jimin’s belly, still interested.
After what seems like ages, Jeongguk finally seems to grasp what Jimin had said. “Again.” His voice is deep as he leans down, nose grazing Jimin’s jawline.
Jimin takes a deep breath, “I love you.”
Jeongguk’s hand is back on their cocks, tugging at them rhythmically, making Jimin gasp.
“Jimin,” Jeongguk ruts against him, mouth over Jimin’s pulse point on his neck. “Jimin, I love you. I love you.”
Those words sound so sweet coming out of his mouth, like a balm to the numerous wounds his every departure had left on Jimin’s heart. They soothe his pain, they make Jimin feel like he’s flying high, like everything is finally right, as it should be.
He wraps his strong thighs around Jeongguk’s waist and ruts upwards, wanting to chase the feeling alongside Jeongguk, but it’s not enough. Jeongguk thumbs over the heads of the their cocks with a moan into Jimin’s collarbone, a soft, breathy little thing that Jimin responds with one of his own.
They clearly want more.
“You want me,” Jimin says, in wonder. “You really do.”
Jeongguk lifts his head away from Jimin’s shoulder to kiss him softly, far more sentimental than the lazy thrusts of his hips. “Always, hyung. I’ve loved you for so long.”
And because Jimin can’t get enough of his sweet words, he prods further, one hand on the small of Jeongguk’s back. “How long?”
“You’ll hate me if I say ‘our first meeting’, won’t you?” Jeongguk chuckles.
“No,” Jimin says, other hand snaking down between their bodies to wrap around Jeongguk’s, stopping him. “Because it’s the same for me.”
Jeongguk’s eyes are glittering galaxies, his lips, a ring of fire. He gasps as Jimin guides his hand lower, past Jimin’s balls, and towards his most intimate part, a place he’s only ever shared with Jeongguk over the years, never wanting anyone else.
“Please,” Jimin tells him, capturing his lips and his tongue. “I need you.”
Jeongguk doesn’t need to be told twice. Jimin uses his magic to float a bottle of lube from under the bed—they can’t help but giggle when it falls on Jimin’s head—and Jeongguk gets to work. He coats his fingers in the clear, vanilla scented gel and presses against Jimin’s hole to hear him gasp his name.
“Jeongguk.” Jimin says, and it means more that just Jeongguk’s given name. It means, please and hurry up and I love you. He throws his head back when one of Jeongguk’s slender fingers presses inside the tight ring of muscle gently, eyes on Jimin’s face, checking for any sign of discomfort.
“Let me know if it hurts, love,” Jeongguk says, and Jimin can’t stop the frankly embarrassing high pitched moan that follows that endearment. He loves it a little too much, and he can already tell Jeongguk is going to use it all the time.
He covers his face with his hands. “You’re enjoying watching me make a fool of myself.”
“Why?” Jeongguk asks, a second finger joining the first, just massaging the rim. “You’re enjoying it too, I can tell. I’m going to call you all sorts of pretty names from now on, sweetheart. I’m gonna kiss you every night and call you my love, my everything. I’m gonna fuck you everyday and whisper all those words I stole from poets and writers that you’ve always loved hearing in my voice.”
It sounds so perfect that Jimin can’t help but sob, overcome by Jeongguk’s charm. He has to swallow down a myriad of endearments that would make him evaporate into nothing from the mere embarrassment.
“So you deliberately tried to be suave—ah—for me?”
Jeongguk kisses him as a third finger joins the other two. Together, they find that little spot inside Jimin that makes his blood sing and his heart go crazy.
“If not for you, then who, hyung? Certainly not for Seokjin.”
“Can we not talk about him when you’re about to fuck me?”
Jeongguk rolls his tongue around his nipple. “I can do that.”
Jimin reaches for the bottle of lube, squirts a large amount into the palm of his hand and then seizes Jeongguk’s cock, desperate to be fucked as quickly as possible. It’s been a terribly long wait that he wants Jeongguk to erase from his mind.
“Impatient.” Jeongguk barely manages to get out. Jimin jerks him off rhythmically, bringing Jeongguk to full hardness under his knowing palm. He’s touched him hundreds of times before, he knows what makes Jeongguk tick like a bomb expecting release. “Hyung—fuck—if you—dammit—if you keep going I’m gonna cum before we even get to the good part.”
“Everything with you is good, Jeonggukie,” Jimin tells him, throwing his head back against the pillow, the back of his hand also rubbing against his own straining cock. “My Jeonggukie. Mine.”
Jeongguk growls—he actually fucking growls—and leans away until he’s on his knees, his pale torso, muscled arms and rock hard cock making him look like an ancient statue, a better, well-endowed David. He stares at Jimin for breathless second and then slips both hands under Jimin’s legs, folding them at the knee, and pushing them up so his twitching hole is exposed for him to see. Perhaps Jimin has found the word that makes Jeongguk a mess, just like ‘love’ had been for Jimin.
“I’m ready for you,” Jimin tells him, batting his hands away to replace them with his own. He spreads himself open and lets Jeongguk watch as much as he wants. It feels good to be the subject of admiration of those gentle brown eyes, now dark pools of lustful black.
Jeongguk takes himself in hard and guides the tip of his cock to Jimin’s waiting entrance.
There’s a short moment where they both hold their breaths, eyes on their only point of contact, like waiting for something to interrupt the moment.
But Jeongguk is right—Jimin is damn impatient, and he wants Jeongguk now. He rocks closer until Jeongguk slips inside the tiniest bit and they both moan. The stretch hurts a little, but Jimin wants more of it, wants the pain to turn to pleasure faster.
Jeongguk curses under his breath as he slowly, irritatingly slowly, pushes inside Jimin all the way. Once he’s buried completely inside him, he closes his eyes as Jimin wraps his legs around him and keeps him there, right where they both want to be.
“Okay?” He asks Jimin, hair falling over his eyes as he holds himself up by leaning on his elbows. He kisses Jimin on the lips and waits, ever the more patient of the two.
Jimin caresses his cheek, his ear, his nape. Buries his fingers in his short brunet hair. “More than okay.”
“Let me know when you’re comfortable enough for me to move.”
“Are you sure?”
“Alright.” Jeongguk says, leaving a wet kiss on Jimin’s throat that sends a rush of excitement everywhere. “Hold on, love.”
Jimin does. He holds onto him with hungry legs and arms, with a hungry heart that will never let him go ever again.
His thrusts start small, more of a rocking of hips that anything else, but holy shit, Jimin almost comes right there and then. He hides his face in Jeongguk’s neck and pants as Jeongguk increases the tempo, as his cock slips almost fully out of Jimin before driving back inside and hitting Jimin’s prostrate.
It’s wonderfully familiar—them on the bed, letting their bodies say everything they’ve been keeping under lock and key in the deepest parts of their minds—and yet it’s also new and comforting—their movements now matching their words of love and encouragement, whispered against shoulders and necks, into ears and souls. It’s something Jimin had only ever dreamed of.
At one point, Jimin lets out a particularly loud moan that has Jeongguk’s hand rushing to touch Jimin’s swollen lips. His little ahs and ohs hit Jeongguk’s fingertips as they trace his mouth and it’s not enough. His tongue slips through his lips and finds the salty pads of Jeongguk’s fingers, the wet muscle pulling them inside his mouth as Jeongguk fucks him harder.
“Fuck, hyung.” Jeongguk says. “You like my tattoos.”
Jimin moans and replies by thinking loudly. Dammit, I do, he projects, I really fucking do.
Those same fingers Jimin had been reverently sucking on, envelop Jimin’s neglected cock from base to tip and he chokes on a groan.
They’re both close. Jeongguk is panting hard and quick, hip movements erratic. He noses down the side of Jimin’s neck right over his pulse point, scenting Jimin’s rushing blood under his skin.
Jimin knows what he wants to do.
“Come on, baby,” He says, the pet name escaping his lips so naturally even though he’s never said it before. “Come on, take what you need.”
“Ah, Jimin hyung.”
“Do it, Jeongguk.” Jimin pushes his head down gently until he feels teeth nipping at his skin. “My Jeonggukie, come on, you can do it.”
Jeongguk’s other hand cups Jimin’s ass as he sinks his teeth into Jimin’s jugular vein and sucks.
They’ve done this so many times before, and yet the pleasurable waves of sensation that spread from his neck throughout the entirety of Jimin’s body, are almost enough to make him orgasm. Still, grasping at Jeongguk with as much strength as he can muster, he makes himself wait. Not yet, he tells himself, not yet, come on, hold on, let Jeongguk get his fill, let him get there with you.
Their climax takes them by surprise. Jeongguk gives Jimin’s skin a last, hard suck, and then they’re falling together off the brink of euphoria. They clutch at each other as they orgasm, Jimin’s unfocused eyes blinded by Jeongguk’s vibrant aura, his nails holding onto Jeongguk’s shoulder blades as if his life depends on it.
There’s a multitude of pants against sensitive body parts, phantom trembling in their legs and spent cocks, and Jimin’s ass is still fluttering lazily around Jeongguk’s cock. There’s a beating, jubilant heart pounding between their bodies and ricocheting against Jeongguk’s chest. For a moment, it feels like Jeongguk’s heart has come back to life.
Jeongguk moves the slightest bit so he can kiss Jimin gently on the lips. “Yoongi and Namjoon came back about ten minutes ago, turned around and left.”
“We need to have a lengthy talk about you mentioning other men, who also happen to be our friends, by the way, when you still have your cock up my ass.”
“Hmm.” Jeongguk kisses him again and Jimin smiles. “We have a long, long time to have that long, long talk, love.”
And they do, don’t they?
“What day is it?” Jimin asks an hour later, still dazed.
Jeongguk hugs him from behind, their forms fitted together perfectly. “November 16th.” He whispers, leaving a kiss on Jimin’s neck.
A full century. Jimin hides a smile in the pillow.
“So, about the payment?” Jeongguk asks, amused.
“I don’t know,” Jimin says, gaze on their linked fingers. “How about your soul?”