Deep in the forest there is a hole.
No one’s ever seen the hole, but it’s there; filled with chlorophyll and blood and wine, the thin
traces of a pact, a ritual gone wrong. All the signs of an old and dangerous magic.
The blood is drying up, has been for hundreds of years.
No one living has ever seen the hole.
But the dead certainly have.
Some nights Jimin can’t sleep. It’s not the fault of any one thing in particular, at least Jimin doesn’t think so.
Perhaps it’s the poppies by his bed, whispering late into the night, telling him about the future, about the past, about how he has lived a million lives and this might be the final one.
A lot of bullshit, for sure.
Perhaps it’s the constant static ringing in his ears, like someone with a radio is trying desperately to connect with another living being. It gets louder, sometimes, when he’s closing in on the forest.
Probably just the trees.
Perhaps it’s his fucking roommate, chattering away to himself into the wee hours of the morning. Hoseok mumbles loudly about holes and dirt and the little men like he thinks Jimin is asleep. Jimin is never asleep.
“They don’t let me sleep, some nights,” Hoseok sighs wistfully. “Too busy. They want me to help them.”
Jimin laughs bitterly at the parallel.
“Telling them no wouldn’t be so hard if you, I don’t know, weren’t a giant fucking push over.” Jimin sips at a pink liquid and shudders as it takes effect; brightening his disposition and making his fingers tingle with the remnants of a new and exciting magic.
“I’m saying they’re planning something and they need my help.” Hoseok taps his clawed nails against the table loudly. A sign he’s thinking.
“So, you just… reanimate them whenever they run out of energy?” Jimin is unimpressed at Hoseok’s carelessness.
“I mean, yeah.” Hoseok looks at him as if this is the obvious answer.
“Doesn’t that take a lot out of you?”
“Sure, but that’s why I have you.” Hoseok smiles a cheeky smile that earns him a flick to the forehead.
“I can’t keep growing poppies in the same place for you forever, Hoseok. I have other things to do.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
Jimin doesn’t answer that question.
“Anyway,” Jimin says, dodging the counter of Hoseok’s apartment as he shimmies his way between rows of boxes. “You need to clean this place out. It’s getting gross.”
And it really is. Books line the walls, but most of them are so old Jimin doubts Hoseok knows where they came from anymore. Jimin can’t tell if Hoseok’s moving in or moving out, the boxes have all been there so long. They’re filled with a variety of oddities and Hoseok would never call himself a hoarder but… Jimin knows one when he sees one.
A box of dried herbs sits far too close to the edge of a table for Jimin’s liking, so he scoots it closer to the first flower of spring, a wonderful pink tulip he had picked up a few Sundays back. It sits atop his small altar, an offering to the god he draws his powers from. He likes to think of himself as a good devotee. And Hoseok agrees, which is maybe why he keeps everything he finds in Jimin’s coat pockets and stashes it all away.
Hoseok keeps everything. He usually says he’s doing it all for Jimin, to give him the ingredients for his spells and rituals, small offerings to Demeter. But Jimin doesn’t know how he’s going to make a pile of moth wings into anything he could ever give Demeter. He doesn’t offer his god garbage.
“It’s been gross,” Hoseok fires back. He taps his fingers louder and the little men come to take a box away.
“You’re not supposed to use them for that, y’know,” Jimin comments offhandedly, grabbing his jacket off the overflowing coat rack and picking up his feet to avoid the little men scampering about the floor. “Fuck, when’d you get so many?”
“When I asked for them,” Hoseok says, breaking out a nail file and eyeing the little men as they stack boxes to clear a better path to and from the kitchen. “Speaking of, I’m feeling really low today. Could you…”
Hoseok motions toward the poppy flowers that grow out of the wall to his left. They’re Jimin’s favorites. He thinks the red really suits Hoseok, too.
“Ah, sure,” Jimin replies as he walks over to the wall and places his hand at the base of a flower. He reaches inside himself, into the recesses of his mind, to find enough energy to keep Hoseok’s poppies alive. The energy is there, yes, it’s always there, but lately it’s been taking more and more out of Jimin. Taking longer than it should. But Jimin perseveres, he always does, he finds it because he knows that without these poppies Hoseok would be nothing but salt
Jimin’s only a little mad he’s been doing this more and more often for Hoseok. The little men really are taking a lot out of him.
Usually, he would have ten. At most. But he’d been getting lazier, letting them pick up on household chores. And in return, he’s been sleeping less. Spending more hours in the garden. Because the little men are planning something, and they need help.
“I’ll be back later, okay?” Jimin calls to Hoseok after he lets the roots of the flowers grow a few more inches into the wall, because he can’t see his face anymore, obscured as it is by moving boxes.
“Where are you headed to?” Hoseok yells back, startles a group of little men and a box full of beans falls to the floor. “Ah, shit.”
That’s Jimin’s cue to leave. He’s not a demon, so he isn’t obligated biologically to count everything spilled to the floor within his line of sight, but he would rather not be present for Hoseok’s bitching and groaning and counting.
“I’ll be safe, don’t worry!” Jimin exits swiftly so he isn’t roped into the cleanup effort.
He can still hear Hoseok counting the beans angrily all the way down the hallway. Jimin supposes that’ll keep him distracted until morning. Possibly longer. One of the pitfalls of being a demon, Jimin chuckles.
Jimin is so busy laughing to himself that he does not notice the little men in his pockets.
They whisper to each other. Things like “too tired” and “need more energy” and “can’t keep on forever.”
See, the little men are planning something. And they need Jimin’s help.
Jimin makes his way to the usual spot, deep in the forest, a place time seems to stop. He can grow anything he wants here, without a cost. He hasn’t told anyone else about it, wants to keep it to himself. He enjoys the way the sun seems to shine only for him, the way he can grow his mushrooms and tend to his garden and it seems to sap no energy from him at all.
He knows this place is too good to be true, to be safe. But he keeps going anyway.
The walk from Hoseok’s hole in the ground apartment to the magic circle is a short one. So short Jimin’s surprised Hoseok hasn’t found it yet. But Hoseok’s never been one for forests. Or the outdoors.
He’s one of the few demons Jimin’s met that he’s actually liked. The other being Yoongi, but Yoongi prefers to spend most of his time making short term deals with short term people. Conversely, Hoseok makes deals with no one, feeds instead on the energy of growth, the kind Jimin can provide. Otherwise, he’d be feeding on kids. And no one wants that.
Well, maybe most demons do, but Hoseok’s always been different.
It’s too late at night to be walking by himself in a dark forest, but Jimin counts on the trees to protect him. And they really do, most of the time. But lately they’ve been speaking to him less, telling him fewer secrets. It’s almost as though their voices are getting quieter, like they’re trying to speak but nothing’s coming out. What Jimin does hear is rasped right up against his ear, and even then he can barely discern what they’re saying. He’s not worried. He should be.
He trusts that they’ll be able to tell him if there’s danger approaching.
Jimin walks into his usual clearing to a circle of pyramid crystals. Strange, but not alarming. The clearing has been filled with many odd things before, this is just the first time any of them have taken shape.
The crystals whisper to each other, a sort of energy that they echo back and forth, that reverberates around the clearing. They know that Jimin is there and they know what is about to happen.
It’s too bad Jimin has no idea.
The little men are counting on Jimin to step inside the circle. They are counting on Jimin being too mystified by the arrangement they’ve put together to notice that anything strange is happening at all. To notice the way the air is dangerously still, to notice the hole in the ground and all the magic in the air, the humidity that comes with a spell so old it’s lived hundreds of human lives.
He's two steps inside when he realizes that he's made a mistake.
The grass screams at him, the loudest it’s been in a while. It’s saying something, Jimin stills to try and make it all out, but he can’t because now he has a bigger problem to worry about.
The little men jump out of his pockets in droves and scamper out of the circle like they’ve been burned, all the while Jimin stands glued to the ground.
He knows there’s no point in running because the grass is holding onto him firmly anyway.
Smoke starts seeping out of the trees, and everything goes as silent as Jimin thinks it ever has. He attempts to widen his stance, feel the earth beneath his feet, prepare for a fight that he thinks might be coming. He’s only a nature witch, a fertility witch; there’s only so much he can do to protect himself. He tries to bring the power of the earth up from the ground, through his feet and up into his bones, but nothing happens. Like someone is blocking it.
In front of him, the smoke begins to take a shape, turns green and Jimin can hear a laugh.
It begins with moss. A pile of it that looks like it’s bubbling up from the ground, fluid and moving. Fingers next, ones made of thin tendrils of spores and smoke, fingernails as green as ivy and knuckles bent and grasping. Jimin shudders, tries to think of anything that could do this, that could spur something so abhorrent, so mystifying and absolutely taboo; the creation of a human body through any means other than birth. Alchemy? Dark magic? Jimin isn’t sure. But he can’t move, so he supposes he’ll have to watch as limbs spring from moss and as poppy flowers
bloom to reveal a head.
With the bloom of a hundred new flowers, the moss takes its final shape: a human body huddled close to the ground, fetal position.
The moss breathes in deeply.
It looks up at Jimin and smiles and its teeth are leaves and it’s spitting up blood.
It’s fucking Demeter. In the flesh (moss?), all green and smoky.
Jimin knows it must be Demeter, now that he’s fully formed. He’s been a devotee for long enough to know exactly what Demeter’s energy feels like. And this is it. Except it’s weak, it’s waning, Jimin can feel it waning.
“Uh,” Jimin says, looking down at his entangled feet, at the grass that won’t let him move.
Not that he would ever run away from Demeter, but this is super disconcerting.
“Hi,” Demeter says, shaking moss off himself and struggling to stand, smiling boxy and wide like none of what has just happened is weird at all. “It’s nice to see you, Jimin.”
The most anti-climactic confrontation of Jimin’s life. He relaxes imperceptibly, letting his heels sink back to the ground, letting the tension flow out of his shoulders. He knows he is no longer in danger. The reason for his power is here and he is real and he is wonderful.
“Uh,” Jimin says again, lacking better words, a more eloquent response. Perhaps he’s a little star struck.
It’s not that he’s not excited to finally meet the god that’s responsible for all his power, it’s just that this is the strangest thing that’s ever happened to him.
“Oh!” Demeter uses his newly formed hands to reach behind his back and grab for something there. “Thank you for the tulip. It was lovely. You’re one, uh, of my best devotees! It’s wonderful that you live so close.”
Demeter pulls out the tulip that Jimin swears he had left by his altar in Hoseok’s apartment.
“Demeter…” Jimin starts, looks down at his feet again pointedly.
“Ah, don’t call me that,” Demeter waves his shockingly green hands frantically in front of him, the tulip disappearing into thin air. Jimin wonders how he’s speaking when his teeth are tiny leaves and his tongue is chlorophyll. “Call me what you used to call me.”
And suddenly Jimin is young again. He has the vaguest memory of looking down at the ground and having a whole conversation with flowers growing at the foothills of a snowy mountain. He was small and cold and growing weak, but the flowers were there for him, he knows that they were. The flowers never spoke back, not out loud, but Jimin could hear what they were saying to him, easily. Telling him what the weather would be like, how long until the next harvest. He always asked before he picked them, and they usually said yes.
All that Jimin has is thanks to Demeter.
He knows that one day the name didn’t seem like enough, seemed so impersonal and mythological that it no longer fit. He asked the flowers if this was normal.
Call him whatever you want to call him, the flowers had whispered lovingly to Jimin under the midday sun. He will be so pleased.
Jimin gives him a name that means prosperity, because that is all Demeter has ever brought him.
Taehyung, he prays. I think it’s a nice name. The flowers said you’d like it. I hope I’m doing right by you.
Silly. Jimin had never said the name aloud, thinking himself far too presumptuous to be giving a god a new name. Taehyung feels right, though. Something about it feels familiar, like he should have been saying it this whole time.
He’d stopped, one year, filled with a bitterness and resentment. He’d never picked it back up. He doesn’t quite remember why. It’s often that his memories come out all fuzzy, blurred together. Jimin blames it on the poppies.
“What, you know about that?” if Jimin had full control over his feet right now, he would be staggering backwards, embarrassed and shocked.
“Of course,” Demeter stands up a little straighter. “I hear every prayer made to me. Especially yours. Uh, since you live so close! You always used to call me Taehyung. I like that better. It’s more personal that way.”
“Is that why you brought me here?” Jimin asks incredulously, hoping Demeter doesn’t take his tone for insolence.
“No, no, it’s more important than that,” Demeter (Taehyung, Jimin corrects himself) says seriously. He motions for Jimin to sit down. The grass pulls him downwards and he hits the ground with a soft oof. “I’m gonna cut straight to the chase.”
Taehyung sits cross-legged, rocks back and forth like a child.
“I’m dying,” Taehyung says, but he’s still smiling. And, wow, fuck, okay his teeth are still leaves, that’s for sure. “And I need your help.”
Jimin’s vision tunnels. His blood runs all cold and he feels the vaguest hints of panic tugging at his psyche.
“What?” Jimin blinks a few times. Pinches himself to make sure he’s not dreaming.
He’s not dreaming.
“This is…” Taehyung lays his hand down on the grass and Jimin can see tendrils weakly crawling their way over his fingers. “Embarrassing. I’m a god. We aren’t supposed to die, but I didn’t want to ask for help. Somewhere along the way, I started to come to terms with my newfound mortality. I was okay with dying.”
“I’m not okay with it!” Jimin almost shouts, panicked and worried.
“I’m not okay with it anymore,” Taehyung soothes. “I realized I wouldn’t be able to protect you. And, uh, your friend.”
“Protect me?” Jimin tugs at the grass around him.
He’s pretty sure he’s still asleep. That he’s in Hoseok’s apartment, knocked out and having the weirdest dream of the century.
“Well, ah,” Taehyung finally lets the grass around Jimin’s ankles relax. “Not you, per say. Your friend. Hoseok. He’s different. I’ve been protecting him for years. Since you two met, actually.”
“What?” Jimin racks his brain for anything remotely special about Hoseok besides the fact that he talks to himself.
“Jimin, he’s never fed on a human soul! Didn’t you know that? He’s so special. He’ll save us all, one day,” Taehyung leans his head on his hand.
“What are you protecting him from?” Jimin asks and cringes at the way his own voice sounds.
“Practically every demon in the underworld wants his blood,” Taehyung explains. He bridges his hands together. “Haven’t you ever wondered why he never goes outside? It’s because I don’t let him.”
Jimin thinks back to all the years he’s known Hoseok. Has he ever seen him go outside?
The answer is no and he knows this.
He’d figured it was because Hoseok was the biggest agoraphobe on the planet. But then he thinks to the glazed look that would come over Hoseok’s eyes when Jimin would suggest going out for the night. The fear that was there, the magic that should have been evident, the poppies in the room that would grow taller, brighter. Demeter’s magic.
“Why didn’t you tell me? I pray every day, you could have spoken to me,” Jimin leans forward, wants to reach out and touch his god. But he won’t, not when Taehyung looks like he’s made of smoke.
“Jimin, I haven’t had this much energy in ages, I’ve been saving it all up for this, in fact, I’ve been trying to lure you here for months now. You’re my last hope,” Taehyung gestures to the form he’s in. “I’m not even real, right now. If anyone were to walk into this clearing, you’d look like you were speaking to no one.”
“So that whole… Moss thing? That was all in my head?” Jimin asks, unbearably curious. “Like, was that just you, or did I imagine that?”
Taehyungs cheeks grow impossibly greener.
“I, uh, thought it would be cool,” he admits. “I haven’t seen anyone living in a long, long time. I wanted to make an entrance.”
Jimin laughs in disbelief. Somehow Taehyung is nothing like what he imagined, and it’s perfectly okay. Because Jimin’s not sure he could have handled the version of him he had built up in his head, this unreachable beacon of unwavering power. He feels… real, this way. Like he can relate to Jimin in a way he never thought a god would be able to. Not that he’s ever met one, but…
Taehyung smiles at Jimin widely, somewhat bashfully.
“Okay, I’m sorry, but what’s with the leaves?” Jimin finally works up the courage to ask, before they continue with this sudden meeting.
“Leaves?” Taehyung tilts his head to the side, as if confused. Then he sits up straight and narrows his eyes at Jimin. “You mean… Wait, open your mouth.”
Taehyung scrambles across the clearing, coming toward Jimin until he’s inches away from his face. Taehyung really is insubstantial, Jimin realizes, because he certainly cannot feel it when Taehyung prods at his cheeks to get him to open his mouth. Jimin smiles wide for Taehyung to see.
“Goddamn it,” Taehyung huffs. “Jesus Christ, all these fucking years.”
Taehyung shuffles back, smoke billowing off him in every direction.
“Namjoon!” Taehyung practically screams.
Immediately, Jimin senses a cold presence to his right. He turns and is met with… Well… The most faded looking ghost he’s ever seen. The man is practically transparent, a sign he’s been around for longer than any ghost should ever be.
“Is this your idea of a prank?” Taehyung asks, exasperated. “I wanted to look nice for this and you tell me humans have leaves for teeth and I make my teeth leaves for years and now this. You lied to me!”
“Yeah,” the ghost replies. Jimin assumes this is Namjoon. “You kept asking me what was different about humans, so. I made something up.”
Taehyung closes his mouth and Jimin can see him wriggling his tongue around. When he opens his mouth again, he has normal teeth. Albeit, vaguely green-tinted, but still teeth.
“That was a good one, I’ll give you that much,” Taehyung sighs.
Namjoon glides over to Taehyung’s side and pats his back apologetically.
“If it’s any consolation, I didn’t know you were planning this for today,” he says, dangling his foot halfway into the ground. “If I would have known he was coming, I would have told you.”
The way Namjoon says he is very pointed.
Taehyung huffs in annoyance.
“I told you yesterday,” he insists.
“No, I’m pretty sure that was at least five decades ago,” Namjoon rolls his eyes. He somehow is more smoke than Taehyung is. Jimin wonders if he’s real, if anyone else would be able to see him.
“Whoa, how long have you been here?” Jimin interrupts their bickering with wonder.
Taehyung looks to Namjoon.
“Since you’re the expert on the passage of time, why don’t you tell him?”
Namjoon looks like he wants to strangle someone.
“3000 years? Give or take a few decades.”
Jimin stares at the two of them, slack jawed and in awe.
“3000 years and I’m your last hope?”
“Pretty much!” Taehyung says enthusiastically. “No pressure, though.”
“Oh yeah, of course,” Jimin wrings his hands anxiously. “Totally, no pressure at all.”
“You’ll succeed,” Namjoon floats over to where Jimin stands and puts an icy hand on his shoulder. “If there’s one thing I haven’t stopped hearing for the last hundred years, it’s that Park Jimin gets us both the fuck out of here.”
Jimin shifts his gaze to Taehyung, a questioning look on his face.
“The flowers talk a lot,” Taehyung shrugs.
“You mean you talk a lot,” Namjoon says derisively.
“Alright, well,” Taehyung brushes Namjoon off easily, changing the subject with purpose. “Hoseok’s gonna be done counting those beans soon, and then he’s gonna get worried about you. He’ll start looking. I need you to tell him to stay put, can you do that for me? I meant to tell the men to drop another box, but…” Taehyung runs his hand through his wildly green hair. “I’m forgetful. Sometimes. I can’t keep Hoseok in the apartment and talk to you at the same time. And I’m gonna need to talk to you a lot for what you’re gonna have to do for me.”
Jimin’s head spins. This is all so much at once and, to be frank, he feels a bit faint. But Taehyung is relying on him. Out of all of his disciples, he’s chosen Jimin to help him. He wonders why that is.
“Okay,” Jimin says, nodding his head resolutely. “I’ll start walking back now.”
“Oh, we don’t have time for that,” Taehyung smiles wickedly. “Namjoon, project him.”
Jimin can feel Namjoon’s cold hand on his shoulder once more.
“Do what to me?” is all that makes its way out of Jimin’s mouth before he blinks, opens his eyes again and he’s standing in front of a very unhappy looking Hoseok.
“Fucking beans, fucking counting shit, goddamn fucking demon blood shit fuck,” Hoseok mutters to himself. It looks like he’s made it to the home stretch, only a small pile of beans remains uncounted.
“Uh,” Jimin says for what seems like the millionth time that day.
Hoseok startles so terribly he launches himself backwards into his overflowing trashcan and knocks it over.
“When’d you get back?” Hoseok looks up at Jimin with wild eyes. He’s sitting in a pile of garbage and uncounted beans and Jimin laughs a little.
“Uh, I’m not really back,” Jimin doesn’t even want to attempt to explain. “I just need you to stay put for a while, okay? Don’t leave the apartment.”
“When do I ever go outside?”
“Just a… reminder. Just making sure you stay here. Don’t even think about leaving until I come back, okay?”
“Wait.. You said you aren’t really back. What does that mean?” Hoseok looks back down at his uncounted beans and doubles down in his efforts to get them all squared away. “Where are you if you’re not here?”
“In the forest,” Jimin replies.
“What?” Hoseok drops a handful in surprise. “Are you okay? You know how dangerous the forest is! Especially at night! Especially when you’re a witch. I need to come find you, stay right where you are, I’m almost done counting these fucking beans.”
“Calm down, I’m fine! It’s all good, just stay here,” Jimin tries frantically to soothe Hoseok, but he’s already worked himself up into a frenzy.
“I can’t calm down when I know you might be in danger out there, I’m coming to help you,” Hoseok is counting beans with more effort than Jimin’s seen him put into anything.
He looks panicked. He really is worried and Jimin feels awful and he’s about to take the time to explain everything that’s just happened to him but…
Jimin, hurry. Namjoon can’t keep this up for long! We have things to do! Taehyung’s voice rings loud and clear in Jimin’s head.
He only feels a little bad about what he’s about to do.
Jimin walks over to a stack of boxes he knows are filled with hundreds, if not thousands of beans.
This is for Hoseok’s own good.
He pushes them all onto the ground.
“You son of a bitch,” is all Jimin hears out of Hoseok before he’s back in the clearing.
Taehyung’s bowed over, howling with laugher.
“You really just fuckin’ went for it, didn’t you?” Taehyung tries to catch his breath.
“I mean… I didn’t see any other options. We’re running out of time, right?” Jimin says in a matter-of-fact kind of way.
Taehyung sobers up immediately and smiles at Jimin like he’s proud of him.
“Nice work,” he says, nodding. “Now, for the real shit.”
Namjoon’s sitting behind Taehyung. Jimin can see him roll his eyes.
“I need you to make me a new body,” Taehyung says.
Jimin chokes on his own spit.
“You want me to what now?”
This is… something he’d been told never to do, under any circumstances.
When he was young he had been taught many things about witchcraft. He had started praying at a young age, still unsure of what his calling was and desperate to find it. He prayed and only the trees answered him. The moment he knew he had found what he was looking for, he had started running outside, barefoot in the snow. Flowers would spring up beneath his feet and immediately wither; a sign he needed to be reined in, to be taught right from wrong. Good magic from bad magic. His grandmother had handed him a large leather-bound book after he had begun to develop his powers that had essentially boiled down to five main rules.
- Never trust a demon. Do not consort with demons. They will eat you alive.
- Never trust a god that isn’t yours. They have no obligation to keep you breathing. You are often more entertaining to them dead.
- Do not tempt fate. If you do so happen to tempt fate, throw all the salt you own over your shoulder and hope that death stops to pick up all the pieces.
- Do not question your purpose. You are here and we are here and there is no meaning to any of it. Refrain from asking gods about the meaning of life unless you want to be killed on the spot.
- Never, under any circumstances, transmute a human body. You are trading with the beyond, and you never know what price you might pay.
Jimin feels as though most rules are negotiable, after all he lives with a demon. He’s more than willing to break them, anything to make life more interesting. He’s never transmuted anything larger or more important than an apple before, though.
“I know you heard me, Jimin,” Taehyung snaps Jimin out of his daze.
“Why me? Why not Namjoon?” Jimin asks a bit nervously, still a bit shocked he’s being trusted with this much responsibility.
Jimin can just barely see Namjoon over Taehyung's shoulder, as faded as he is. It's impressive he's still around, most ghosts would have disappeared centuries ago.
“Trust me, if I could do it, I would have by now. The magic that’s keeping him trapped is keeping me trapped as well,” Namjoon sighs heavily. That’s all he ever seems to do. “I want out as bad as he does. I’m fading pretty bad.”
Namjoon motions down to his completely transparent form. He looks tired as hell.
“You’re not a god, are you?” Jimin walks a bit closer to the two of them.
“No, he’s an idiot,” Taehyung interrupts Namjoon as he is preparing to answer.
Namjoon shoots him a look full of poison.
“I am—was just a human,” Namjoon says.
Jimin thinks for a moment.
"Are you another illusion? Is this like, all happening in my head?" he thinks back to his walk to the clearing. "Were those mushrooms I ate on the way here hallucinogens or something? Did they lie to me? Those assholes."
"No, no," Namjoon shakes his head tiredly. "I mean, Taehyung’s in your head, but it's different. Not a hallucination."
Jimin switches to look at Taehyung skeptically.
"I’m in this hole,” Taehyung motions to a small hole by a tree that Jimin hadn’t noticed before. “Uh, more or less, my souls in there. What you’re seeing now is me making myself visible to you and only you. Don't think about this all too much and it'll be fine," Taehyung waves off Jimin's questions easily.
Jimin stares at the hole intently. There’s something about it that feels dangerous, old and mystical.
“Is… that human blood?”
“Ah,” Namjoon floats to stand by the hole. “Yeah. The ritual to steal Tae’s power may or may not have involved human sacrifice.”
“And that blood’s been here for thousands of years?”
“See, yeah. Pretty much. It’s part of the reason we need to get Tae out. It’s drying up. And either we kill another high priest devoted to Demeter, or we get him a new body,” Namjoon says seriously. “I think we all know which one is preferable.”
Taehyung pouts. “I mean, I was cool with the killing part but—“
"Anyway," Namjoon redirects the conversation in a less-than-smooth way. "I can't get Tae out, so you'll have to."
“Wait, wait, whoa," Jimin shakes his head and waves his hands in front of him so Namjoon will stop talking. "And you’re here because?”
“Because he and his dumbass friends thought they could kill me,” Taehyung speaks up cheerfully. “But they only ended up getting themselves obliterated.”
Namjoon huffs irritably.
“Only? You’re in a hole, now aren’t you? We did that, too."
“Yeah, thanks for that. I really appreciate it," Taehyung's eye twitches.
“So, they didn’t kill you. Just trapped you," Jimin repeats back slowly, to make sure he understands fully.
“Exactly. And they got themselves killed in the process," Taehyung tuts, wags his finger condescendingly at Namjoon. This seems to be a conversation the two of them have had before. "That kind of magic is dangerous. Comes with hefty prices. I kept Namjoon around for company. I figured I was gonna be here a while and he seemed like he was gonna be the most fun.”
“I hope me losing my mind over the last 30 centuries has been entertaining for you,” Namjoon replies snarkily, but not without fondness in his voice.
“It most certainly was,” Taehyung responds immediately, then smiles wide at Jimin as he shifts the conversation once more.
“I have a list of things you need for my body and where you’ll be able to find them," he says. "I don’t believe in paper so, like. It’s a mind list.”
“Okay,” Jimin says blankly.
“You might have to do some stuff you don’t wanna do, but I promise it’s all for the best,” Taehyung says and Jimin honestly wasn’t worried at all until this moment.
“Like what kind of stuff?” he asks.
“Nothing for you to worry about right now! Let’s get this witchy shit started shall we?”
All decent, self-respecting spells come with a cost. Some prices are material, others intangible and insignificant. But there are those that ask for more. These are the most dangerous spells, the ones that take and take until there is nothing left for you to give. These spells watch you wither away, run dry, watch you sell pieces of your soul over and over again to the same starving demon. But they do not coerce, they do not demand. You do it yourself. You bleed for it, yes, but you’re the one holding the knife.
Some would call using this kind of magic foolish. Taehyung is not one for such words. Selfish, he muses, selfish perhaps, but stupid? Never. After all, fate leads mortals where they are meant to be. Choices are merely illusions. Taehyung would never call someone stupid for fulfilling their destiny.
Ah, and of course, all mortals are destined to die. Taehyung knows this. He does. And he knows he is in no way supposed to change anyone’s fate, under any circumstances. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you’re looking at it, Taehyung met Park Jimin.
Life is not something that just happens once for Jimin. Maybe for mortals lacking the love of a god, lacking a whole field of poppies, life is a one time thing. But Jimin has lived many lives. Taehyung knows this, and this is something Jimin learns, eventually.
But he always forgets.
30 centuries of cycle after cycle of rebirth will do that to you.
All Jimin knows, now, in this life, is that he’s been looking for something for a very long time. He’s not quite sure what that something is, but he knows he has to find it.
When he remembers everything that he is supposed to, he usually also realizes the futility of his search. But he keeps looking anyway. When he is old and grey and close to death he knows that in all the lives he has ever lived, he has only found his purpose once. And that was a long, long time ago.
The moment the gods take their first steps on earth, Taehyung is among them. He’s always known his purpose, and it has something to do with the atoms that breathe in beneath his feet, the trees that reach out toward him and grow taller when he asks them to. He knows his purpose, he’s always known it, so then why is it that he’s always felt as if his innards have been scrapped out?
Here’s the thing, Taehyung was crafted with a large hole in his heart and nothing to fill it with. He’s tried many things, namely sleeping for hours at a time and inventing new plants no one really asked for, but nothing has brought him the kind of fulfillment he knows he is meant to have. The other gods have always seemed so… complete. So pleased and comfortable with themselves.
They are all in on a secret that Taehyung is not privy to.
So, when Taehyung sees Jimin for the first time he thinks that the hole in his heart is about the same size as his dainty hands.