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Wide Awake (Don't Cry)

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When Seokjin woke up, the first thing he realised was that it was not going to be a great day.

The room was still quiet, filled with the soft breathing of six young men, with Namjoon’s peaceful snores going over it. It was like every other morning on which Seokjin rolled out of bed first, Jimin and Taehyung curled up together, Jungkook in his little single bed in the corner. Seokjin sighed, rubbed his temples to ease some of the ache, and stumbled off to the bathroom to wash up.

The shower helped a little, and so did putting on some nice clean clothes. He stood on his tiptoes to check if Yoongi made it to bed last night, smiling as he spotted the smaller boy curled up on his side in his bunk, his hands probably tucked between his thighs under the blankets. He passed by Jungkook’s single, squatting down and brushing gentle fingers through his hair.

“Jungkook-ah? Time to wake up. Gotta get to school.” He hummed, voice carefully pitched low so the others wouldn’t wake up. He was an expert at this by now, really. “Come on, brat.”

He tugged at one of the nipples poking through Jungkook’s threadbare sleep shirt, satisfied when he yelped and opened his eyes. Seokjin left the tiny bedroom, giving Jungkook time to wake up in peace. He wasn’t going to fight him, not today, not with the pressure building behind his eyes.

Seokjin stepped into the kitchen, getting started on breakfast. The kitchen in their little dorm was tiny, but it felt like home to him more than any other place in the world. Even if the boys put everything back wrong, even if Yoongi kept scowling at him when he started messing with potions, the kitchen was his. He could always find what he needed, and he always knew just what he needed.

Within half an hour, Seokjin had a decent breakfast whipped up and a potion for his headache bubbling on the stove. He went back to the bedroom to find Jungkook fast asleep, shaking his shoulder a little more harshly now.

“Up, kid. I have to get you to school. Don’t make it difficult for me, please.” He said, sighing softly. Jungkook let out a confused little noise, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

“I’m up.” Jungkook mumbled, sitting up in bed slowly. Behind him, Seokjin heard someone slip out of one of the top bunks, hitting the floor on light feet. Hoseok, probably. He trusted the other to get Jungkook up, washed, and dressed, and went back to the kitchen. His potion needed the next ingredient, and maybe some stirring. He didn’t question how he knew that. He always just knew.

As he worked, a few of the boys stumbled into his kitchen. They piled food onto their plates, went to sit around the little coffee table to eat. Seokjin didn’t feel up to eating, so he stayed by the stove, watching the little potion bubble.

“Is that soup?” Taehyung asked, popping up next to him. Seokjin took a deep breath, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment.

“It’s potion. Don’t touch it.” He said, because Taehyung needed those kinds of warnings.

“Okay. What’s it for?” Taehyung asked, resting his chin on Seokjin’s shoulder. Seokjin wondered when he’d become tall enough to do that.

“It’s for getting rid of fungi.” Seokjin said, although his pun and meaning would be lost on the younger boy. He really wanted to be left alone. Was it time to drive Jungkook to school yet?

Seokjin reached out without thinking, opening a drawer and throwing something green into the potion. He didn’t really know what, but it smelled right. Was that supposed to go in there? He was glad Yoongi was still in bed.

“Does Jungkook have his uniform on?” He asked, but when he looked up Taehyung was long gone. He sighed, stirring the potion with the ladle, putting a healthy portion in a bowl. Today was not going to be a great day.

By the time he finished his bowl, everything seemed a little clearer. The headache had faded to a minor nuisance, and for once the potion hadn’t tasted too bad. Usually it came with a horrid aftertaste, but today it was almost like eating a kind of bland soup. Jungkook showed up at his side, schoolbag already slung around his shoulders, uniform on. For all that he could be a brat, the boy was pretty harmless. He always wanted to be helpful, do a good job, and make them proud. It was cute, really, and any other day it would have made Seokjin smile.

The drive to Jungkook’s school wasn’t too long, and the boy jumped out of the car with only a quick thank you and goodbye. Seokjin watched him run up the steps of his high school, then pulled away from the curb again. He had things to do, and soon enough he’d have to pick the kid up again. He’d feel like a tired soccer mom if his five other kids didn’t baby Jungkook just as much. Maybe he’d be able to convince Yoongi to pick him up later.

He took his time climbing the steps up to their dorm, stepping inside quietly. The living space had become quiet, Hoseok and Taehyung disappeared, Yoongi and Namjoon likely still asleep. Jimin was doing dishes, looking up as Seokjin stepped back into the kitchen.

“I didn’t clean your soup, hyung. Taehyung said we shouldn’t eat it. Something about mushrooms?” He said, his eyes so kind. He’d only been here for just over a month, but they were all so endeared to him. Jungkook had latched onto him and his Busan accent immediately, and Taehyung drew him out of his shell within a few days. Jimin was soft and caring, even with the strange, manly front he liked to put up, pretending to be taller and bigger than he was.

“It’s a potion. It’s only for me. Don’t touch it, yeah?” Seokjin said, giving the younger boy a small smile. He started drying the dishes, putting them away even as Jimin tried to tell him he’d do it. “Can you leave me alone for a bit while I do inventory? You still have reading to do, right?” He asked, relaxing at Jimin’s soft hum of confirmation.

“I’ll leave you for a bit, hyung. Are you okay?” Jimin asked, looking at him. He seemed so innocent, with his cute round cheeks and puffy lips, but Seokjin could see that perceptive look in his eyes telling him that Jimin had already sensed how he was feeling.

“I’m fine. Just tired, Jimin-ah.”

“Okay.” Jimin said, still too new, too careful around them to push the issue. Jimin left the kitchen after finishing up the dishes, settling at the coffee table with books and his notebook, studying. Jimin always worked hard, something all of them admired in him. He fit in well with them.

Seokjin went through the cabinets and drawers of their tiny kitchen meticulously, writing down what they had in storage and what was running low. If they were lucky, Magister Bang would cover some of their groceries along with the magical ingredients needed for their apprenticeship. If not, Seokjin might have to beg his mom for a little extra allowance. His parents could miss it, and she was happy enough Seokjin had finally settled down somewhere that vaguely resembled a home. She never complained that his expenses were a little too high for one person, never mentioned who he might be covering for. She gave him vague compliments about being a good hyung, sometimes.

It didn’t take long for Seokjin to finish the list. He typed it into his old little laptop, sending it off to the Magister’s office. He’d been using that laptop since he started college, but he couldn’t afford to replace it right now. He prayed it wouldn’t give out. They’d be a coven before next year, hopefully. They’d have more resources then, their assignments actually turning a profit instead of endlessly completed in the name of practice. He sighed, plopping down at their tiny table with Jimin, and got to work on his own assignments.

Seokjin’s headache build steadily over the rest of the morning. Yoongi and Namjoon stumbled out of bed at some point, eating the leftovers from breakfast they found in the fridge before heading out. Up to the roof, most likely, or down to the river to collect stones. Seokjin had tried to understand, at times, let them patiently explain the process to him, but all he knew was that once the process was done the glowing stones and pebbles were comforting and warm. Namjoon’s made moonbroth stronger. Seokjin didn’t bother questioning his dongsaengs’ magic much more than that. It was beyond his reach.

He shared lunch with Jimin. They were the only ones left at home, usually, since Jimin’s assignments as a kitchen witch didn’t take him much further than the tiny kitchen or occasionally to the local community greenhouses, and Seokjin’s were mostly focused on potions as well. It was what he was best at, even if they weren’t quite sure what he was, or how he was grounded. His magic came from something ancient settled deep inside himself, something his father didn’t understand and his mother couldn’t quite explain. It was a family thing, and Seokjin didn’t waste energy questioning something generations of smarter people hadn’t figured out before him. He was a little supernatural, a little other-worldly, and he would just have to deal with that.

Their routine had become familiar, even after so little time. His broad shoulders taking up so much of their tiny kitchen, Jimin’s small frame flitting around him with a natural grace. Jimin was both clumsy and light on his feet, they’d learned, a strange combination that was naturally endearing. Jimin often seemed like an endless paradox. A kind heart and a terrible temper wrapped in hard muscle and soft curves. He could sense Yoongi’s shoulder pain and Taehyung’s sudden cold before any of them realised they were struggling, but he was still helpless in putting together cures. Seokjin very proudly watched as Jimin cut up a mandrake root neatly. They’d come a long way in the short few weeks Jimin had been with them. He learned fast.

If the promises were fulfilled this time, they’d be a coven in less than two months. They’d been promised a little magic shop, something for them to operate independently, and Jimin would be behind the counter most of the time. He was a kitchen witch, and he had the empath magic needed, but it was so much pressure for the young boy. He’d have less than three months of formal training.

The worry made Seokjin’s temple throb. He ignored it.

When he looked up from his cutting board again, Jimin was frowning. He was stirring the potion, in that meticulous way most potion makers outside Seokjin’s family did, and that seemed a little absurd and unnatural to him. He leaned over, taking the wooden spoon from Jimin’s hands, giving him a soft smile. The younger boy huffed in frustration, but Seokjin ignored it. His temple was throbbing, and it wasn’t the first time Jimin got frustrated trying to learn what everyone was telling him he should excel at. The potion slowly faded into the right shade of green (don’t ask Seokjin why it was right, okay, he just knew) and Seokjin put down the spoon, letting it rest. He looked up, trying to ignore the pulsing headache and the way it made him almost nauseous, only to find Jimin standing there with tears in his eyes.

“Oh, Jimin-ah… It’s okay. You’re still learning.” He said softly, doing his best to comfort the younger despite his own pain. He held out his arms, because Jimin liked physical comfort, and held the boy close as he started to cry.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I-I just feel so bad.” Jimin said between wet sobs, clinging to his hyung. There had been a lot of crying in this house, over the past years, and Seokjin wasn’t perturbed anymore. There had been a lot of stress, a lot of holding on to each other for support, desperately trying to hold on. There was light on the horizon, now, but even that didn’t always help. The promised ritual to form their own coven had been pushed off so many times before. Seokjin wasn’t sure how many more times they could bear Namjoon returning from the Magister’s office with tensed shoulders and bad news.

But that was for another time. Jimin needed him now.

He held the younger close, rubbing his back and letting him cry. He murmured soft reassurances, although he wasn’t even sure what he was saying anymore. His head throbbed. The kitchen was full of magic, and it pushed at his senses. The potion needed stirring again. Jimin’s magic was tugging at his senses, and just as Seokjin started to pass out, he wondered if Jimin’s magic could make him feel the unbearable pain that was pulling Seokjin under.

 

-*-

 

When Seokjin woke, his first thought was that he’d rather be asleep again. His temple was still throbbing, and he could hear voices in the living room, squabbling over something or other. He turned over onto his side, deciding to let his dongsaengs figure it out on their own for once.

His second thought was that it was the middle of the day, and he really ought not to be in bed. He’d been making potions with Jimin, last he remembered, and he wondered if there had been an accident with some of the magical ingredients again. Had Jimin accidentally put him to sleep?

This second thought was slightly worrisome, seeing as he was supposed to be supervising so Jimin’s training happened safely. Could he have missed the younger grabbing the wrong ingredient? Had his headache made him so unaware of his surroundings?

With the current throbbing in his head, he really wouldn’t be surprised. He could barely distinguish the voices from the living room, even though he was sure they were yelling now. He wondered what time it was. Would he have to go get Jungkook from school soon? Was he already too late?

Someone had closed the blinds in the small room, but a sliver of sunlight still peeped through. Seokjin tried to gauge the position of the sun, but the light burned his eyes. He curled up with his back towards the window, swallowing down the nausea. Maybe he shouldn’t be driving today, he thought drowsily. Yoongi wasn’t home, though, and there was no one else to pick up Jungkook.

Seokjin drifted off again, Jungkook’s voice echoing from the living room.

-*-

 

When Seokjin woke up the second time, someone was carding gentle fingers through his hair.

He sighed softly, burying his cheek a little further into his pillow. His head still hurt, but a little less now. He refused to open his eyes, refused to move. He didn’t want to exist right now, wanted to go right back to sleep until this thing passed. He’d been pushing himself through his spells of magic sickness ever since he moved into the dorm, and it felt kind of nice to take the rest he needed, just this once.

He wondered if Jungkook had gotten home okay.

Seokjin rolled onto his back slowly, blinking his eyes open with a sort of resigned unwillingness. He was the eldest, and he’d promised himself to take care of the others. He had to take care of his idiots. He had to be responsible.

“Hey, hyungie.” Jimin said softly, sitting next to him on the narrow bed, short fingers still in Seokjin’s hair. “You’ve been asleep a while. Are you feeling okay?”

“Hmm,” was all Seokjin could muster, the sound just a wrangled hum in the back of his throat. He cleared his throat, ignoring the way his head felt like it was filled with cotton. “What time is it? Jungkook-“

“Jungkook is home. Yoongi hyung picked him up hours ago.” Jimin said softly, cutting him off. He seemed calm, and that mood seemed to drape itself over Seokjin like a warm, heavy blanket. He let himself melt into the mattress pliantly. “You passed out on me, hyungie. Made me cry, even. Why didn’t you say you were feeling so bad?” Jimin continued, his fingers still carding through Seokjin’s hair. Seokjin felt like Jimin was maybe cheating a little, here, asking all these questions when Seokjin was under his influence.

“I never- It can’t be helped. When I feel bad. Don’t tell the others.” He murmured, voice a little slurred. Jimin huffed softly, and it made Seokjin smile.

“I called them when you passed out on me. What do you mean, it can’t be helped? It felt strange, the way you felt… Negative, but not in way I can pinpoint, like Yoongi hyung’s shoulder or stuff like that.”

“It’s complicated. Family stuff. My magic is weird, and sometimes it’s… allergic, in a way, to other magics. Reacts badly. ‘S why I don’t have a coven, even with the potions.” Seokjin murmured.

“Will you be okay with us? If we become a coven?” Jimin asked, and Seokjin could hear the effort he put in to keep the worry out of his voice, out of the air. “If you’re bound to our magic… You won’t get sick?”

“It’ll ground me, too. Ground me and Jungkookie. Might even stave off the headaches, make them less bad.” Seokjin said softly, blinking open his eyes to look at Jimin. “I like your magics… My body will adjust to them. We’re only seven… not too big for a coven.”

“No… We’re not too big.” Jimin agreed, fingers moving to pet Seokjin’s hair again. Voices drifted over from the living room, softer than before. A few moments later, Namjoon peeked into the room.

“Is he- Oh! Hyung, you’re awake.” He said, clearly relieved. He stepped inside, approaching the bed. “Are you okay?”

“Tired.” Seokjin said, glancing at Jimin. “Jimin can explain.” He added, pleased with the proud little smile it produced on Jimin’s face. Their newest member was always pleased to be entrusted with new, important tasks.

“You should sleep, then.” Namjoon said softly, taking a stone out of his pocket. It wasn’t too big, about the size of his palm, and a little flat. It glowed softly, like the moonlight, comforting but not very bright. He placed it on Seokjin’s chest carefully, and the elder could feel warmth spread to his limps.

“This might help a little. I think it brings peaceful dreams. I’m not sure yet.” Namjoon said, stroking the runes carved into the stone. “Call when you need anything, okay?”

“Okay.” Seokjin said softly, reaching up to give Jimin’s hand a gentle squeeze. Namjoon was already leaving, but Jimin lingered, watchful eyes taking in how drowsy their eldest was getting under the smooth stone. “Jimin-ah. Don’t tell them it’s their magic. Not yours.” Seokjin slurred, blinking slowly as he fought sleep. “There’s no where I’d rather be.” He promised, hand slowly loosening its grip.

“Okay, hyung. Sleep well, yeah?” Jimin whispered, hesitating a moment before leaning in to kiss Seokjin’s temple. It didn’t throb anymore.

Seokjin had fallen fast asleep.