Jungkook steps out of his house with determination coming off of him in waves. That might, however, just be the fumes from the potion that he accidently spilled on himself. It’s nontoxic, luckily for him and his slightly damp clothing. Well, the potion should be nontoxic, but the last batch had a bit too much of… something that caused it to explode the second it was put over heat.
But that is besides the point. Now, Jungkook’s ready to face the day.
And by the day he means the roof of his house.
The weather for the past few days has been brutal, the wind rattling the windows with such ferocity that Jungkook had been spooked and charmed them to be a little bit more stable. The last thing he needed was broken windows. There are already too many broken appliances in his house. And along with the wind came the rain, and the tree next door hadn’t stood a chance. Its poor leaves were ripped off and found a new home on Jungkook’s roof. His roof is now an assortment of fall colors and it would have been pretty if the leaves weren’t clogging up the drainage pipes.
So here is Jungkook, wand in hand and a new spell to try out, climbing up onto the roof.
Yoongi stays on the ground, face wrapped in a warm scarf. He looks up at Jungkook’s figure on the roof, crosses his arms, and tells Jungkook that his spell isn’t going to work. Jungkook can barely hear him around the fabric covering his face.
“It’s going to work just fine!” Jungkook insists, stepping gingerly forward. He loses his footing for half a second, causing himself to tilt to and fro. But he quickly regains his balance and continues to walk closer to the mess on his rooftop.
“It’s a bad idea, Jungkook. You spent, what? Twenty minutes on this spell?” Yoongi narrows his eyes as Jungkook takes another step. “That is not nearly enough time to make a good spell, regardless if you’re supposed to be a prodigy. I mean, you haven’t even finished your potion yet and now you’ve suddenly jumped onto a new spell?”
Jungkook frowns, his eyes opening and he’s pulling the puppy-dog face that he knows Yoongi will fall for. There hasn’t been one time where it has not worked on his familiar. It’s his go-to solution to any problem the two of them encounter. (And by problem, Jungkook means any time where he wants to do something and Yoongi strongly advises him not to. In Jungkook’s defense, you don’t become one of the world’s most renowned witches at age nineteen by being wary. In Yoongi’s defense, he didn’t ask to be the familiar to such as risk-taking person.)
Yoongi scoffs, but he looks away. Jungkook has him: hook, line, and sinker. “It’ll be fine!” Jungkook insists. “Besides, I needed to take my mind off that potion. And this is a perfect way to do so! Killing two birds with one stone.”
“You’ll kill yourself at this rate. But, whatever. Do whatever. I’ll be inside trying to finish the nap that you rudely interrupted.”
Yoongi walks towards the door. “You always do the stupidest shit to impress our neighbors,” he says right before he disappears from Jungkook’s view.
Jungkook sputters. He takes a step forward in protest, forgetting for half a second that he is on a sloped and unstable surface, and almost slips for the second time today. “I am not trying to impress our neighbors!” he exclaims, his cheeks rapidly flushing from the completely untrue accusation. Jungkook doesn’t go out of his way to get the attention of his unfairly attractive neighbor, but if his actions just so happen to take him to said neighbor’s doorstep, he’s not complaining. Jungkook likes to think of it as an added bonus.
But in all honesty, he’s trying to clear his roof. It’s forecasted to rain tomorrow, and Jungkook might be a powerful witch, but he doesn’t have enough power to make the rain go away. And because he’s down weather-controlling abilities, the next best thing is to make sure his roof is clean before the next part of the storm hits.
Jungkook takes a deep breath and spreads his legs as best as he can; the more stable he is, the more stable the spell will be. A cold breeze ruffles through Jungkook’s clothes. He feels the magic as a tangible tinge of electricity that runs through the air and in his veins. Jungkook loves this feeling, loves using magic, loves being magical. It’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world, yet it’s calming at the same time. Magic tends to be paradoxical. He closes his eyes, thinks about what he wants done, and lifts his wand.
He opens his eyes and the magic surges through him. The leaves, however, don’t budge an inch. Somewhere in the house, half-between the states of lucidness and unconsciousness, Yoongi smirks.
It’s been a long day. Scratch that, it’s been a long week. Not only did a local coven buy every single rosemary and mint item that Seokjin’s apothecary carried, but there was also a recent influx of well-meaning but clumsily-handed students that came with the new school session starting. Not to mention Taehyung had been sick for the first part of the week, causing him to be bedridden and for Seokjin to be down a worker. He wasn’t really bedridden, of course, but Taehyung always had had a flair for the dramatics that played out in the worst situations.
Seokjin’s finally closing up for the day and he couldn’t be more relieved. He can already imagine the weekend that’s laid out in front of him: leaving the store to Taehyung, sleeping in until noon, eating the most unhealthy food he can get his hands on and regretting it later. He sighs as he thinks about the relaxation that’s to come.
But ever since he was little, Seokjin has always gotten ahead of himself. He can hear his mother’s voice in the back of his head telling him to not count his chickens before they hatch.
And now, Hoseok pops into the room even though Seokjin has told him multiple times to use the door like everyone else. (“But I’m not like everyone else!” Hoseok complained the first time that Seokjin told him that the only way he could get into the room was through the door. Seokjin had then told him that he would figure out a way to ghost-proof the shop and that had shut Hoseok right up. But sometimes, Hoseok forgets.)
“Shit!” Seokjin exclaims, startled at the sudden appearance of Hoseok.
Hoseok looks grim, but not in a way that scares Seokjin. “Incoming,” he says. He widens his eyes and winces at something that Seokjin can’t see. “Big incoming.”
And as fast as Hoseok popped in, he’s gone, leaving the shop smelling slightly like iron. Seokjin is confused, but then the entire building shakes and the lights flicker menacingly. The pieces come snapping into place. Just as Hoseok forgets to use doors, Seokjin forgets that one of Hosoek’s ghostly abilities includes precognition. It’s slight, no more than a minute, but Seokjin always is startled by it.
“What the hell was that?” Taehyung asks, poking his head out from the back. Jimin is behind him, looking as startled as Seokjin feels, but his expression fades once he sees that everything in the shop is still intact. After all, they do live next to a highly rambunctious witch who has an affinity for accidently blowing things up. Things like this happen. It’s a good thing that he’s cute, otherwise Seokjin wouldn’t put up with his actions nearly as well as he does currently.
But just as Seokjin is starting to calm down, internally cursing Jungkook for his antics and Yoongi for not stopping him, a scream ripples through the air. Seokjin feels a cold shiver run down his spine.
The sound gets all three of them running towards the door and towards their neighbors’ house. Jungkook might be trouble, but he also knows how to take care of himself– mostly. Most of the time, Jungkook deals with his own problems and on the times that it’s become too big of a mess for him to handle, he’ll walk over to the apothecary with his head hanging low on his shoulders, his already big eyes even bigger as he asks for their help.
But never once has Jungkook screamed.
Seokjin has his arms up, his magic gathering at his fingertips and ready to be used when he sees the scene in front of him. Taehyung skids to a stop as he looks at what had happened. Jimin crashes into him and sends the two of them tumbling to the ground.
With his arms still up but with less magic ready to be used, Seokjin frowns. Jungkook is safe, as far as Seokjin can tell. But he’s upside down. He’s hanging upside down, the bottom of his right pant leg having caught on the edge of his rooftop and holding him in place. He’s red in the face from the blood flowing to his head.
“Hey, Seokjin,” Jungkook says. He waves and then abruptly stops as the movement makes his entire body move. “Fancy seeing you here.”
Seokjin lowers his arms. There’s no use for his magic now. Jungkook’s not in any real danger, just in an unfortunate situation. “Hey, Jungkook. Seems like you took the term of “hanging out” too literally.”
“How did you even manage to get stuck like that?” Taehyung asks, still on the ground. He’s untangled himself from Jimin but the two of them haven’t bothered to get up. There’s sitting side-by-side on the grass, looking up at Jungkook and resisting the urge to laugh. Jimin seems to be losing his battle because his face is scrunched up in silent laughter. “I mean,” Taehyung continues, “I don’t think you voluntarily put yourself in such a position.”
Jungkook shrugs, or tries to shrug. It’s hard to tell what Jungkook is doing when he’s upside down. “It’s a long story?”
“A very long story,” Yoongi says and Seokjin hadn’t even noticed that he was standing by the door, watching the entire time. It makes sense, though. Familiars don’t tend to stray far from their witches, and especially not if you have such a volatile witch like Jungkook. “Please don’t try to help him,” Yoongi says, sounding like an upset parent. “He got himself in his mess and he can get himself out of it.”
“Yoongi,” Jungkook pleads, outstretching his hands, and carrying out the last syllable of Yoongi’s name into a whine.
Yoongi is unphased. He simply opens the door and walks into the house, leaving Jungkook upside down and now slightly twirling from his movement.
“Make a long story short?” Seokjin asks. He’s getting nervous from watching Jungkook. It’s not healthy to be upside down for too long. Plus, Jungkook looks like he’s going to fall at any time. The fabric that is holding him in place doesn’t look strong.
Jungkook sighs and he explains how he was trying to clear his roof with a new spell. But the spell hadn’t moved the leaves and instead moved him. He fell off the roof and his pants had barely saved him. The ground shaking had been from the force of the spell and the scream had been from Jungkook thinking that he was falling to his death. “It’s okay, though,” Jungkook finishes up with. “I can get myself down, no problem.”
Seokjin doesn’t want Jungkook to be trying any more spells especially since his last one had been an absolute failure, but Jungkook looks so intent to try to get himself out that Seokjin doesn’t have the heart to disrupt him. That, and Yoongi had said not to help him. Yoongi doesn’t scare Seokjin in any way, but Seokjin does respect him. Besides, Jungkook really does look like he’s got it all under control.
Jungkook takes in a deep breath and then lifts his upper body as much as far as he can. With his fingers and with some muttered words under his breath, he’s able to get his pant leg free.
But Jungkook, so entranced by the first step, forgets about the second step: catching himself from hitting the ground. Jungkook somehow hits the ground leg first and Seokjin winces at the sound his body makes upon impact.
“Holy shit,” Jungkook exhales, winded and hurt. “I think I broke something.” He pushes his fingers down on his right leg, but he winces and gives up.
“Dude,” Taehyung says.
“Are you okay?” Jimin asks.
Seokjin walks up to Jungkook and kneels beside him. Jungkook looks so small in front of him, nothing like the how gossip describes him. If Seokjin was to go by the grape vine alone, he would expect Jungkook to be a brash and cunning witch. After all, he’s kneeling next to who is supposed to be the most powerful witch to be seen in the past century.
But powerful or not, Jungkook still has a lot to learn. Seokjin doesn’t see the big and mighty wizard; he sees a stubborn boy with too much raw energy and not enough skill. A real diamond in the rough. With his doe eyes and his face mushed up from trying not to seem upset about his broken leg, Seokjin sees Jungkook, the cute boy next door.
“My leg fucking hurts,” Jungkook says through clenched teeth. Seokjin extends his hand over Jungkook’s leg and lets his magic do the rest of the work. Seokjin might not have the same type of flashy power that his brother Taehyung has or the dynamic ability that Jungkook posses, but his healing magic is nothing to be scoffed at. Seokjin takes pride in three things: his face, his store, and his magic.
Just as Jungkook said, Seokjin feels a break in Jungkook’s shin. It’s nothing major, but it is a fracture. Seokjin could heal it for Jungkook right then and there, but Seokjin doesn’t think that Jungkook would want to go through the process without something to dull the pain.
Jin puts a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder. When did he get so broad? It just seemed like yesterday that a young Jungkook had moved in next door with his front teeth too big for his face and a grumpy black and white cat for as his familiar. “C’mon. Let’s get you to the shop so we can fix your leg.”
Jungkook sighs and lets himself be helped up by Seokjin.
“I still haven’t done anything about the leaves,” Jungkook huffs, irritated.
Jin rolls his eyes. Out of everything that has happened, of course Jungkook is upset about the fact that he didn’t get his rooftop clear. No, he’s not upset about his spell not working nor is he upset about almost falling off the roof and getting a worse injury than a broken leg. He’s upset about the leaves. It’s so Jungkook that Seokjin laughs. “Taehyung, would you?”
Taehyung beams. He loves doing magic and he loves doing magic in front of other people even more. “Of course!” he says. He rubs his hands together as if he’s molding a clay ball, and then opens them, a shiny yet translucent sphere of magic in his palms. He blows on it and the particles scatter, a flurry of snowflakes that wipe away all the leaves off the roof. Just like that, the roof is clear.
“Nice,” Jimin says and he gives Taehyung a thumbs up.
“Show Off,” Jungkook grumbles, but it lacks venom.
“C’mon,” Seokjin says to everyone, not just Jungkook. He hopes that Yoongi is listening as his words are meant for him too. “We’re going to get Jungkook healed up and then order some food. Sound good?”
Jimin and Taehyung voice their approval and Jungkook hums under his breath. What Seokjin fails to mention is that he’s making all of them finish closing up. And if he gives Jungkook less than the proper amount of pain medicine, it’s just Jungkook being taught to be more careful with his magic.
Jungkook stares at his cauldron, as if looking at it will make the mixture turn from the neon blue it is now to the baby blue that it’s supposed to be. The liquid gurgles at him, mocking him for not being able to make it correctly. He might not be a fully certified witch yet, but he knows how to make potions. He frowns at it and Jungkook thinks that it frowns back at him.
Jungkook sighs. This is the third time he’s tried to make the energy potion today and ironically enough, it’s wearing him down. He feels tired, his body heavy with exhaustion, and his bedroom is calling him to come and lay down. But Jungkook can’t lay down, not yet. He’s so close to finishing this potion that he can feel it. Maybe if he adds spearmint?
He ruffles through the cabinets, trying to find where he put the spearmint the last time he used it. He rarely uses it, though, so it’s not a surprise when it’s hidden in the depths of the mess that is his work room. “Found you,” Jungkook says, grabbing the little box of dried spearmint leaves.
This is it, Jungkook can feel it. Just a little bit of the leaves and then the potion will be the correct blue color and he can give it to Seokjin. After all, Seokjin had complained about being tired the last time that Jungkook went over and Jungkook had been meaning to finish his energy potion. Everything works out in the end, doesn’t it?
Jungkook holds his hand above the pot, gently crushing the leaves between his fingers and letting the crumbs fall into mixture. It fizzles upon contact and Jungkook quickly stirs it, watching as the color becomes lighter and lighter and loses its vibrancy. This is his Eureka moment and Jungkook can’t help but feel proud of himself as the potion stables out into a soft baby blue. It’s the color of the sky on a summer day, and it’s perfect. Seokjin will love it.
“Finally,” Jungkook says, stirring it one last time before stepping back and admiring his handiwork. The energy potion smells a bit like fresh coffee, but with a sweetness underneath it that makes Jungkook want to inhale heavily. He needs to write this down in his notebook so he knows what to do (and what not to do) next time.
He fishes a vial from one of the many pockets on his apron and moves to put some of the liquid into it. The potion bubbles and pops at him, like grease on a too hot pan. He jumps backwards, avoiding the spray. It’s not supposed to do that, but he figures that it’s only acting that way because he’s left it on the heat for too long. Jungkook turns off the stove, but the potion doesn’t stop bubbling. It’s like it’s boiling, but it wasn’t even near the temperature it takes to boil. What’s going on?
This would be the time that Jungkook calls Yoongi and ask him for advice, but his familiar is out for the day. Something about needing some fresh air, but Jungkook knows that he’s just out with the ghost that lives next door. The two of them always did have the weirdest friendship, but Jungkook isn’t one to judge. After all, he is the one trying to make an energy potion just because he doesn’t have enough courage to tell Seokjin that he likes him.
Those were Yoongi’s words, not his, said just before he left this morning.
Down a familiar, Jungkook can only stare at the cauldron as the liquid continues to boil, its color fluctuating between blue and green before settling on something in between that looks toxic. The liquid is thick and heavy, like slime. This isn’t the energy potion that Jungkook wanted.
Shit, well there goes another attempt. Jungkook is frustrated. If he can’t get the recipe right for a simple energy potion, what can he do? He sighs, forcing the thoughts out of his head. All that there’s left to do is to get rid of the messed-up potion and clean up. And maybe take a nap until Yoongi comes home.
He takes the pot and pours it in the sink. The liquid splashes heavily and this time Jungkook isn’t fast enough to dodge it. It lands on his forehead and Jungkook would only grumble, but it starts to burn. It hurts, the liquid feels like it’s singeing off his skin and Jungkook quickly tries to rubs it off with the back of his hand but that makes it hurt even more.
“Fuck fuck fuck,” Jungkook says, expletives falling out his mouth as the fucked-up potion wreaks havoc. Jungkook rushes to turn on the water and sticks his face under the stream, and that finally makes the pain go away. The water washes away the potion and if Jungkook had his eyes opened, he would have noticed that it washed off more too.
Jungkook shuts off the water but keeps his head there, breathing out heavily and letting his wet hair drip into the sink. He slumps against the counter, the day’s events being too much for him. He just wanted to make a potion to give to Seokjin. He just wanted to surprise Seokjin with something sweet. He didn’t want all of this.
Jungkook stands upright and dries his face off with the bottom of his apron. What the hell was that potion? He’s never heard of a potion acting like acid. Well, he has, but not with the ingredients that he used. What happened?
Jungkook runs his hand down his face and notices something is off. He freezes. No. He runs his hands down his face again and he feels where his eyebrows should be. Should, because they aren’t there anymore.
He rushes to the bathroom and almost sobs at the scene he sees. Jungkook’s face is blotched red, the parts where the potion had struck him obvious. But the potion hadn’t just burned his skin, it had also burned his eyebrows off.
Jungkook looks at his eyebrow-less self in the mirror and wants to yell, but he’s not able to anything more but gape at his reflection. He leans forward, hands coming up to touch his face. There are no eyebrows there. The only thing that is left is a short patch of hair on the edge of his left eye, but it doesn’t help. If anything, the hairs that are left make everything look so much more worse.
He looks at himself one last time before leaving the room. He shucks off his apron and heads towards the door. He can’t let Yoongi see him like this because he knows that his familiar will just make fun of him. And Jungkook doesn’t trust himself to do healing magic on himself. Doing it on other people is easy, but doing it on yourself is just asking for trouble.
And there’s only one other person that Jungkook would trust with healing. So he walks to Seokjin’s with his head hanging low between his shoulders and the hope that Seokjin won’t laugh at him. Seokjin already ses Jungkook as a kid, and Jungkook doesn’t need to add to to that. He’s not a kid anymore and he wishes that Seokjin would see that fact instead.
What Seokjin does see, for sure, is his eyebrow-less face. And he laughs, just as expected. Seokjin laughs like all the air is coming out of his body, the sound squeaky and high-pitched and pleasing. Jungkook can’t help but lift the corners of his mouth as well. There’s something about Seokjin’s laugh that is contagious.
“Can you please grow my eyebrows back?” Jungkook asks sheepishly. He tries to look everywhere but at Seokjin’s face. The apothecary is truly an amazing place, carrying everything that Jungkook would ever think of wanting to use, but Jungkook isn’t here for the apothecary. He’s here for Seokjin. And to get his eyebrows fixed.
Seokjin wipes at the corners of his eyes, his laugher causing himself to tear up. He smiles at Jungkook, the smile a little sad and little fond all mixed together. “Tell me what happened first.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes, but tells Seokjin what happened with his potion. He leaves out the part of making it for Seokjin, of course. He’s plenty embarrassed as it is.
“Hmm,” Seokjin hums as Jungkook finishes explaining. “Maybe next time use mint? I’ve never liked using spearmint because it’s too cold, too volatile. Mint, on the other hand, is a nicer herb. It’s smoother, in a way.”
Jungkook hadn’t thought of using mint. He might not use it a lot, but spearmint was always his go-to substance when he didn’t know what else to do. “I’ll have to try that,” Jungkook says. “Maybe if it works out, I’ll bring some to you.” Good going, Jungkook. Smooth, just like mint.
Seokjin continues smiling at him. Maybe Jungkook wasn’t as awkward as he thought he was? “Let’s go to the back and I’ll fix your eyebrows. Jimin can watch the store.” Seokjin nods his head to the left and Jungkook follows it and sees a small tabby cat lounging on top of a wooden chest. Jungkook blinks and then Jimin is there, his hair messy from his nap and his hands rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He sees Jungkook and waves.
“Thank you, Seokjin,” Jungkook says, waving back at Seokjin’s familiar. Seokjin puts a hand on the back of his neck to guide him to the back room. The touch makes a tingle travel through Jungkook’s body and it’s moments like this where Jungkook thinks that Seokjin likes him back. Either that, or he’s just a naturally touchy person. Jungkook still hasn’t figured that out. But then Seokjin moves his hand to ruffle Jungkook’s hair and the moment is over.
“It’s no problem, Kook.”
Later, with freshly grown eyebrows, and Yoongi by his side, Jungkook does the exact same potion. Except this time he puts in mint instead. The potion fizzies and bubbles and Jungkook thinks that it’s going to be another failure until it settles down and simmers into a baby blue color. Jungkook takes it off the heat and eyes it warily.
But it doesn’t change. Jungkook’s finally made a useable batch of energy potion.
“Looking good,” Yoongi says, peering over the cauldron and breathing in deeply. He puts a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder. “You did good, kid.” He pauses and then looks at Jungkook’s face. “And nice eyebrows.”
It’s a cold day, the shade of the trees above them doing nothing but adding to the chill air. Fall isn’t supposed to be this cold, Jungkook thinks as he follows Taehyung. The two of them are in the forest behind their houses, navigating through the wild terrain. Jungkook supposes that with the amount of times that they’ve traveled in the forrest that there would be a path, but the forest seems to have a mind of its own. Well, Jungkook does know that it has a mind of its own. It’s a magical forest after all.
“What did Seokjin say we have to get?” Jungkook asks, looking around him. Nothing looks familiar and that would scare Jungkook if Taehyung was not by his side. Taehyung knew the forest like the back of his hand; he could tell where they were by the slightest glance.
Taehyung hums under his breath, content from being in forest. Taehyung is a powerful witch, almost up there with Jungkook, and he’s always seemed more when he’s in nature. Jungkook has asked Taehyung about this once and Taehyung had said nothing more than explain that he’s friends with the trees. Jungkook still isn’t sure what that means. “Seokjin said that we have to get the pink mushrooms.”
“The pink ones?” Jungkook is pretty sure that Seokjin did not tell them to get the pink mushrooms. He had said to get something, but the words had gone right over his head.
Taehyung nods. “Yup, the pink ones. They have a little star on them.”
Jungkook knows that Taehyung is messing around with him. “There’s no such thing as pink mushrooms with a star on them, Taehyung.”
“I know,” Taehyung says and he turns to Jungkook and grins. Jungkook doesn’t know how the two of them are related. Seokjin is cool, calm, collected and Taehyung is everything but. “Maybe if you weren’t making heart eyes at my brother you would have caught what he said.” He pouts. “Poor Jungkook, too lovestruck to focus.”
Jungkook sputters. “I wasn’t making heart eyes at Seokjin!” He remembers looking at Seokjin and thinking how beautiful he is, but Jungkook does that every time that he’s in Seokjin’s vicinity. Seokjin is too stunning to not look at. But Jungkook knows that he wasn’t making heart eyes. He has more control than that. Right?
“Whatever floats your boat, Kookie,” Taehyung says.
Oh, two can play at this game. They continue walking for a bit, Jungkook giving Taehyung time to think that the conversation is over. It’s always best to strike unexpectedly. They take a turn and then another Jungkook can feel the magic getting stronger as they go deeper into the forest. Taehyung is starting to slow down when Jungkook speaks: “Sorry for tagging along, Taehyung.”
Taehyung frowns at him, confused. “What do you mean? We’re almost there anyways. The mushrooms are just right there.” He points to a tree that is ten feet in front of them. It has to be the biggest tree in the forest because its stump is impossibly wide. The magic here is so thick that Jungkook can practically grab it with his hands. This has to be the center of the forest.
But center or not, Jungkook can’t let Taehyung get away with his teasings. “I mean that I’m sure that you much rather have Jimin here with you. At least then you can try and win him over with your crappy puns and even crappier flirting.”
Taehyung flushes. His ears are sticking out from the beanie he has on and Jungkook can see that even they turn a deep red color. “My flirting is not crappy,” he insists. He turns away from Jungkook and walks to the tree, bending down at the base and taking a plastic bag from his pocket.
“C’mon, you’ve been pining after him for how long?” Jungkook asks. He follows Taehyung and squats down next to him. Taehyung hands him a pair of plastic gloves and he takes them and puts them on. “How long has he been Seokjin’s familiar?”
“Five years,” Taehyung answers, but to which question is he answering? Taehyung doesn’t clarify; he has his own gloves on and he focuses on the ground in front of them. There are small white stubs sticking at the base of the tree. It’s easy to spot them because the places where the mushrooms are stuck on are surrounded by a black tar. Everything clicks into place. The mushrooms that Seokjin had them go out and collect are death mushrooms. They’re known for their parasitic tendencies, draining the magic and life out of their hosts before moving on. They’re rare and dangerous items, and Jungkook shuts up as they work. One wrong move and the mushroom could latch onto you. The last thing that Jungkook needs is to carry Taehyung home over his shoulder because they weren’t careful enough with their work
There are only a few of them to collect and by the time that they’re done, their hands are covered in black. Jungkook peels off his gloves and hands them to Taehyung who puts them in another bag. He mutters a few words and then the bag bursts into flames, the sparks that it gives off gold and glittery. The bag burns quickly and in a few seconds all that there is left is a fine powder in his palms. He holds out his palm in front of Jungkook’s face and tells him to blow.
Jungkook does and the powder goes swirling into the air towards the tree. The power sticks onto the tar that’s left on the tree and it melts it, turning it into a runny substance that travels down the tree and onto the forest ground. The tree is left clean and Jungkook feels a small surge of magic travel through him, almost as if the tree is thanking them.
Taehyung leans back on his heels before standing up. “This tree needs to be cleared every month or so and usually Jimin and I come out to do this, but him and my brother are backlogged with potion orders so it was easier to go by myself. Or ask someone to go with me.” He looks at the mushrooms in the plastic bag. They look so benial in Taehyung’s hand, but Jungkook knows better than to be fooled by appearances. “I don’t like coming out here by myself.”
Jungkook gets up and dusts off the dirt from his jeans. After the small burst of magic, the air around Jungkook is cooler. Jungkook puts his hands together and blows hot air on them. “Why? Isn’t nature your thing?”
Taehyung shrugs. “Not here. It’s unnatural. Don’t you feel it? It’s like there’s too much magic here, it’s almost suffocating. It’s why these mushrooms grow here.” Taehyung holds the back up. “They like the higher concentration of magic.”
Jungkook takes in Taehyung’s words and tries to feel the area around him. He had noticed, but he hadn’t put much thought behind it. There is a lot of magic in the air, too much magic. It feels like if one wrong move is made, the entire place could blow, like lighting a match next to a flammable gas.
“See?” Taehyung asks and he’s not smiling like he usually does when he knows something that Jungkook doesn’t. He’s somber, serious. Jungkook nods. “You’ve never been this deep in the forest, right?” he asks. He turns and walks past the tree and deeper into the forest, motioning Jungkook to follow him.
“I’ve never gone beyond the first row of trees,” Jungkook answers. Magic usually settles on him like a blanket, securing and warm. But as they go deeper, the magic around them is sharp and cold. Jungkook shivers and notices how Taehyung wraps his jacket tighter around himself.
“Safe idea,” Taehyung says. “Yoongi insist it?”
Jungkook shakes his head, but Taehyung is in front of him and can’t see his actions. “No, actually it was Hoseok.” The ghost that lives in Seokjin’s shop always leans more towards the paranoia side of things, but it’s not without good reason. Seokjin had once told him that Hoseok knows more than he lets on. Jungkook took it as it being a ghost thing.
“Figures,” Taehyung says. “Y’know, Hoseok came with the house. He’s been there since Seokjin and I moved in. Before Seokjin got Jimin. Do you know how he died?” Taehyung stops walking and Jungkook stands by his side. There’s a patch of leaves in front of the two of them, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Jungkook blinks and then he sees it. There’s something under the leaves, something that feels like rot and decay.
“...Are you saying that he died here?” Jungkook asks.
“I’m saying he was murdered here,” Taehyung replies.
There’s a silence that goes on for too long. Jungkook can hear the wind rustling through the leaves, but everything stays unnaturally still. He can hear his heartbeat in his chest, but instead of going fast to accompany his nervousness, it’s slowing down. Between one breath and the next, Jungkook is pushed and his senses go haywire. He yells as he catches his balance and he sees Taehyung next to him, hand over his mouth as he laughs.
Taehyung tricked him. Made him scared and then scared him even more by pushing him. “Fuck you,” Jungkook says, hearing his heartbeat in his ears and feeling his throat slowly loosening .
“Fuck you,” Jungkook says again. He honestly did think that what Taehyung was saying was true. It makes sense, in a twisted way. If Hoseok was murdered here, in a magical forest– Jungkook stops that train of thought. He doesn’t want to know.
Taehyung laughs. “You should have seen your face!” He laughs again and then exhales loudly, puffing out his chest. He’s proud of himself. “You were so scared. If you can’t even handle a scary story then how are you going to steal my brother’s heart? He likes manly men, you know.”
Taehyung slings an arm around Jungkook’s shoulders. He walks them away from the area and back towards their houses. Or at least where Jungkook thinks there houses are. After everything, he’s a bit discombobulated. “C’mon, let’s head back. Seokjin is probably waiting for us. The sooner we get back, the sooner you can go back to pining from afar.”
Jungkook shoves Taehyung, but all it does is make Taehyung grab onto his shoulders tighter. Taehyung’s grasp almost hurts. “And then you can go back to your terrible flirting with Jimin? He likes you. No one would giggle at a bad pun unless they liked the person telling it.”
“You’re just saying things,” Taehyung says, but his voice is oddly tight. “But stop trying to talk about me. We’re talking about you and I still don’t know why you like my brother. He’s Seokjin, cranky and old Seokjin.”
Jungkook scoffs and he knows Taehyung is just saying these things to get him riled up. But knowing doesn’t mean that Jungkook doesn’t do anything about it. “Seokjin is Seokjin,” the ever eloquent Jungkook says. “He’s amazing at making potions and he’s way better than you at anything you do.”
“Slander!” Taehyung shouts. He lets go of Jungkook and points a finger at him. “This is slander! And there’s only one way to take down such a person.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes, but he tenses himself, ready for Taehyung’s actions. This isn’t the first time that Taehyung has challenged him to a duel, but it’s gotten less and less frequent as they’ve gotten older. They used to duel a lot when Jungkook had first moved in, and there’s even a scar on Jungkook’s cheek from when Jungkook wasn’t quick enough to dodge Taehyung’s attack. But they got older and more importantly, Jungkook got stronger and they’ve stopped messing around as much. But that isn’t to say that they’ve stopped altogether.
Jungkook doesn’t say anything, but he looks around him. They’re still deep in the forest, but the magic has gotten lighter, less biting and more friendly. There’s a tree directly above Taehyung’s head. Jungkook could bring his wand out from his pocket, but the action would surely catch Taehyung’s attention. Besides, you don’t need a wand to make magic. A wand simply helps guide the power. So if Jungkook can just get the tree to move a little–
Taehyung jumps in the air as a tree branch takes off his beanie. Jungkook raises his hand and the tree branch snaps back into place, carrying Taehyung’s beanie with it.
“That’s my favorite one!” Taehyung shouts and he looks at Jungkook and thrusts his hands forward.
Jungkook falls to the ground hard. He dodges to the left and a blast of cold air hits the space where he was. He stands quickly and Taehyung is grinning widely at him, wand in his right hand.
“You’ve gotten faster, Jungkookie!” he says and points his wand at Jungkook and Jungkook barely has enough time to put up a barrier. Some witches need to say the spells outloud to get the magic correct, and Jungkook knows that Taehyung likes to do that sometimes, but it’s not necessary. Jungkook only says the spells out loud when he’s trying them out for the first time, getting a feel for how the magic in the spell works. But beyond that, Jungkook thinks it takes too much time. All he has to do is visualize what he wants to happen, then direct his magic towards the area.
And so Jungkook does just that. A pile of leaves swing towards Taehyung with a wave of Jungkook’s hand, the edges sharp. What’s the fun in messing around if it isn’t at least a little bit dangerous? “I’ve always been fast. I think you’re just getting slower,” he taunts. He curls his fingers in a fist and the leaves erupt in flames.
Then the leaves part, dropping to the ground in a ashy mess. Taehyung stands in the middle and Jungkook runs. “Get back here!” Taehyung yells and there’s humor in his voice. There’s a flash of something bright and Jungkook ducks. The magic hurls over him and then back at him, but Jungkook was expecting that. Taehyung is predictable with his moves and Jungkook doesn’t make the same mistake twice.
But this time, as Jungkook ducks again, Taehyung’s magic ducks with him. Before Jungkook can act, it hits in the stomach and sends him tumbling down. He tries to get up, but it feels like there’s a boulder sitting on top of his chest, stopping him from getting anywhere. He breathes heavily and then there’s pain shooting up from his stomach. It feels like he’s on fire.
“Jungkook!” Taehyung yells and this time he sounds panicked. He must have been closer than to him than Jungkook thought he was because then Taehyung is hovering over him, eyes wide with fear. “Jungkook, oh my god.”
“You got me,” Jungkook wheezes, and every word takes an incredible amount of effort to say. What the hell did Taehyung get him with? It feels like he’s breaking.
“You were supposed to dodge it, idiot!” Taehyung says. His eyes travel from Jungkook’s face to his stomach. “Fuck. Seokjin’s going to kill me.”
“He better. I feel like I’m dying,” Jungkook breathes out. It hurts to move and he feels like he’s sinking into the ground, the boulder on top of him digging him into the dirt. Taehyung helps Jungkook stand up and the world twists and turns underneath Jungkook’s feet. “What the fuck,” he slurs.
“It’s a dizziness spell,” Taehyung explains but that can’t be the only thing that it was. A dizziness spell wouldn’t make Jungkook feel like he’s losing blood. Jungkook looks down at his stomach and sees blood staining through his jacket, steadily growing. He is losing blood.
“I may have also shot you,” Taehyung explains. He takes a step, making Jungkook take a step as well. It’s slow going. “Sorry.”
Jungkook takes in a big breath to calm himself down and to stop him from hitting Taehyung. But it makes the pain even worse. “You shot me?”
“You were supposed to dodge! I thought it would be funny if gathered up a bit of magic and shot it at you.”
“This isn’t funny, Taehyung,” Jungkook says, but the more he thinks about it, the more it is kind of funny. The wound isn’t grave by any means (Although, Jungkook is bleeding), and they’ve had worse injuries between the two of them. One time Taehyung fell out of a tree as he was trying to sneak up on Jungkook, dislocating his shoulder and shattering his elbow. But a broken arm is less serious than getting shot. The blood loss and the pain is making Jungkook’s thoughts skatter.
Jungkook takes in a shallow breath. If he keeps his breaths even and short, the pain is less. “Okay, it’s kinda funny.”
“Next time, dodge better,” Taehyung says and Jungkook promises that he will. They're far from the houses because the edge of the forest doesn’t come into view anytime soon. But the closer that they get to the apothecary shop, the heavier Jungkook feels. It’s almost as if his body knows that it’s going to get healed soon so it’s making itself hurt even more. After all, pain is psychosomatic. But the blood loss isn’t. That’s completely physical.
“Oh shit,” someone says as they near the front door. Jungkook feels a rush of cold air that he’s familiar with. Hoseok appears in front of the two of them, both eyes and mouth looking likes Os. If a ghost could be pale, Jungkook knows that Hoseok would be. “See, I told you that the forest is bad news.” He shivers. “Bad things happen in the forest.”
“Hey, Hoseok,” Jungkook breathes out, his voice stronger than he expected it to be. “Mind getting Seokjin?”
Hoseok nods. “Don’t move,” he says and then he’s gone. A few seconds later, the front door is slammed open, the closed sign that hangs on the door rattling with the movement. Seokjin steps out, hair messy and a streak of white powder on his forehead. He looks like he was in the middle of making potions yet he’s still so beautiful. If Jungkook was dying, he would think that Seokjin was an angel. But he’s not dying and Seokjin just naturally looks like that good.
“Taehyung, explain yourself,” Seokjin says and he puts his hands under Jungkook’s armpits. The two Kim brothers lug Jungkook into the shop and then into the back room, Jimin holding the door open for them with wide eyes. Hoseok is more than likely watching the scene unfold as well, just out of Jungkook’s eyesight.
“He was supposed to dodge!” Taehyung begins and then he tells Seokjin what happened, leaving out specific bits such as their respective pining. Jungkook is grateful; the last thing he wants is to confess to Seokjin while he’s bleeding onto the floor. It wouldn’t make a pretty picture. Confessions are supposed to be delicate things, but it’s not like Jungkook has put much thought into how he would confess to Seokjin.
“Idiot,” Seokjin says, but there’s warmth in his tone. He shakes his head and gets to work. Jungkook’s body tingles as the magic takes effect. “Next time,” Seokjin says and he has a soft grasp on Jungkook’s hand.
“Next time?” Jungkook asks. He feels better, feeling more like he’s got the wind knocked out of him and less like Taehyung shot him with a bullet of condensed magic.
“Let me finish,” Seokjin chides. “Next time, come into my shop when I don’t need to heal you, okay? I want other excuses to see you other than you needing immediate medical attention.” Seokjin lets go of his hand to put his hand underneath Jungkook’s chin. Seokjin’s touch is soft and calming and Jungkook has the fleeting thought that maybe his crush isn’t as one-sided as he thought. The way Seokjin looks at him is–
“But on the bright side we got the mushrooms,” Taehyung says, not noticing that moment that he just shattered. Jungkook lets his eyes break away from Seokjin’s. Taehyung takes the zipped up bag from his pocket. There are mushrooms, yes, but they’re squished beyond recognition. They’re more like a slimy sludge.
In short, they’re useless. All that way for nothing.
“Well,” Taehyung says, looking at the bag sadly. He turns it, as if that’ll make them revert back to their solid selves. “We had mushrooms.”
Seokjin sighs audibly.
Kim Namjoon is not a man to be messed with. There are many rumors circling him, all talking about how powerful and ruthless he is. Some would go even as far as say that he’s monstrous. And three years ago, Jungkook believed those rumors. But now, Jungkook knows better than to listen to hearsay.
Namjoon is in the back of the shop, browsing the rows and rows of ingredients. His hands are tucked to his side, Seokjin’s rule to make sure he doesn’t take an entire shelf of powdered items like he did the first time that he came in.
Sure, the rumors about Namjoon do have some basis. Namjoon is destructive, but not in the cruel way that some paint him out to be. He’s just the clumsiest person that Jungkook has ever met. And yes, he is powerful, but Jungkook is even more so.
Yet Jungkook couldn’t have asked for a better person to be his mentor. Namjoon is patient and thoughtful and kind and Jungkook wouldn’t be the witch he is today without his help. But now his exam is just around the corner, and he is wishing that Namjoon would have taught him more. There’s simply too much material and not enough space in Jungkook’s brain.
Jungkook jumps in his chair. He’s seated at the front counter, his study materials spread out in front of him. He usually would study in his own house, but it gets lonely with only him and Yoongi. Plus, Jungkook needs all the motivation he can get for this cram session. His test is tomorrow. In less than twelve hours. If he passes it, he becomes a fully certified witch. It’s a big deal.
Hoseok is in front of him, flash cards in hand, helping him study.
“Ah, sorry,” Jungkook says. “I got lost in my head.”
Hoseok frowns at him, but he doesn’t look disappointed. He looks concerned. “What’s going on in your head?”
Jungkook is quiet for a moment, thinking about what to say. He knows that he’s smart and that he has great magical abilities, but there’s this anxiety crawling over him and burying deep in his gut. But what if he isn’t good enough? What if he fails the test? What if? “How did you pass your test?” Jungkook asks instead. It’s close enough to an answer, but far enough from the truth.
Hoseok looks at him, eyebrows raised. He then looks down at the flashcards in his hands. “I didn’t,” he says.
At his words Jungkook freezes. Did he hear right? Hoseok never passed his test? “You what?”
Hoseok shakes his head. “I didn’t pass my test because I never took it. I’m a ghost, Jungkook.”
Jungkook nods. It’s a fact like water is wet; Jungkook has a huge crush on Seokjin; Hoseok is a ghost. “I know.”
Hoseok stares at him, really stares at him like he’s trying to tell him something but Jungkook’s strengths have never been with telepathy. “No, you don’t. The only reasons I know about this world-” He waves his hand through the air, motioning towards the entire shop, “is because I’m a ghost. I was just a human before. Just a lonely little human that had no idea that magic was real. The closest I got to magical was-” He pauses as if he can’t quite find the words. “Ah, nevermind. That’s a long story.”
Jungkook is surprised, to say the least. Hoseok? Not having a magical background? The same Hoseok who knows more about what’s in the shop than Jungkook does? The same one that’s helping him study the harder topics of magic? “But, you’re so good at magic.”
Hoseok smiles, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “I’m shit at magic, Jungkook, I’ve just had a long time to practice.”
“Too long, I think,” someone says and Jungkook could recognize that voice anywhere. Seokjin steps into the room, carrying a tray of steaming mugs. He puts the mugs on the counter and hands one to Jungkook, calling Namjoon over as well.
“It’s just chamomile tea,” Seokjin says, blowing on his own cup. He’s wearing round glasses and the steam fogs up the lenses. “With a bit of that energy potion you gave me the other day for a little kick.”
Jungkook mumbles a thanks, blowing on his own cup of tea. Seokjin is always so caring, and Jungkook is so smitten that even small acts like this make his heart want to jump out of his chest. He hopes that the small flush on his cheeks can be attributed to the heat of the tea.
“Oh, awesome,” Namjoon says, coming up from behind Jungkook and taking the last mug. In his hands are an assortment of what would look like completely random items, but Jungkook has been around Namjoon and his wild ways long enough to know that the ingredients that Namjoon has are for a luck potion. Normal luck potions would include four-leaf clovers and talisman, known items for generating luck. But Namjoon’s eclectic mixture looks more like he’s making a soup than a luck potion. He sets them on counter.
“We can’t use luck potions, Namjoon,” Jungkook says. “You’ll get your score voided if you take some.”
Namjoon sputters in his cup. “What?” He looks down at the counter and then back at Jungkook, humor in his eyes. “Oh, this isn’t for you, Jungkook.” He puts down his mug and then puts a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder, squeezing lightly. “As if you need any luck. You’ll nail it and then you’ll come back and show us your shiny badge, right?”
Jungkook takes another sip. It’s really good tea, the kind his mom used to make for him. It makes him feel warm inside, and Jungkook isn’t sure if it’s just how Seokjin made it or if it’s because of the potion that’s in it, but Jungkook can feel his anxiety slipping away. It’s still there, just not as present. “I know,” Jungkook answers sheepishly. “I know.”
“You’ll do great, Jungkook. You know your stuff, now’s your time to show it. They don’t call you the next Kim Namjoon for nothing.”
Jungkook rolls his eyes. “No one calls me the next Kim Namjoon.”
Namjoon acts offended. “I do!”
Jungkook nods, a smile on his lips. “Exactly. No one calls me the next Kim Namjoon.”
Namjoon laughs and surprisingly enough, so does Hoseok. And most importantly, Seokjin laughs as well. “Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark.” Namjoon takes his hand off Jungkook’s shoulder and tells Seokjin that he’s ready to pay.
“I’ll take care of it,” Hoseok says, walking through the counter and towards the register. Namjoon follows him, telling Jungkook to do great.
Then it’s just Jungkook and Seokjin and while Jungkook usually loves these moments, the test that looms before him is a mood killer. The tea’s calmness is abruptly taken away. He can’t stop thinking about all the what ifs. Both Namjoon and Hoseok just told him that they have confidence in him, but it doesn’t make him feel any better. If anything, it makes Jungkook feel worse because now he’ll disappoint them if he doesn’t pass. It’s too much. He didn’t ask for the amount of power that he has, didn’t ask for the public’s eye to be on him, didn’t ask for all this pressure.
Yes, pressure can turn coal into diamonds but Jungkook isn’t coal and he feels like he’s a second away from breaking.
“Jungkook, don’t you think you’ve studied enough for tonight?” Seokjin asks. He’s leaning close to Jungkook, elbow propped on the counter and his face in his hand. He looks down at all the study materials and pulls Jungkook’s notebook closer to him and thumbing through it. He stops on a random pages and reads it, humming under his breath as he does. “Wow. You have to know all of this?”
Jungkook looks at the page Seokjin’s on. It’s the page on how the magic flows through one’s body during the different sleep stages. “Uh, no,” Jungkook says. “That’s not on the test, I was just curious.”
Seokjin flips to the next page and reads it. Jungkook knows what’s on it because he wrote it, but he’s still surprised when Seokjin asks him about it. “This is… an incredibly difficult potion, you know that?”
Jungkook nods. “Yeah, I know.”
“You can’t even get half of these ingredients without a license. I mean–”
Jungkook doesn’t mean to be rude, but he’s tired and burnt-out from studying and so his words come out sharper than he intended for them to be. “Yes, yes. I know. It’s theoretical anyway.” Jungkook puts his hand on his notebook and Seokjin lets him tug it back to his side of the counter.
Seokjin tilts his head and looks at him, trying to make eye contact. Jungkook looks down his now closed notebook, trying to find the importance of the small cactus sticker that’s on it. There’s a meaning to it, a story behind it, but it’s been such a long time that Jungkook has forgotten it. “Are you okay, Jungkook?” Seokjin asks and Jungkook doesn’t answer.
Jungkook puts his arms on the counter and then rests his head on them. He breathes. One, two, three counts in. One, two, three counts out. “I’m scared,” he admits. He’s never said that to anyone, not even himself. But he is scared. Everything feels like too much and Jungkook can’t see a way out.
“Scared?” Seokjin asks, his voice soft. “Oh, Kook, what are you scared of?”
“Failing the qualifications and not getting certified,” he answers, half true. Seokjin stays quiet, wanting Jungkook to continue, but it’s hard. It’s hard to talk about things that Jungkook doesn’t want to say aloud. He breathes again and then says, “Disappointing you. Everyone. That’s what I’m scared of.”
Jungkook can hear Seokjin breathe out. Then there are soft hands on his head, gently running through his hair. Jungkook looks up and the way Seokjin is looking at him makes Jungkook catch his breath. It’s the same way that Jungkook looks at him. “Oh, Kook,” he says. “You could never disappoint me.” He moves his hand so he’s cupping Jungkook’s face.
Jungkook swallows. There’s something about Seokjin that makes Jungkook feel at ease, like a warm blanket on a cold night. Being with Seokjin makes Jungkook feel safe. If Jungkook were at sea, Seokjin would be the lighthouse that guides him back home.
“Listen to me,” Seokjin says and when is Jungkook ever not listening to what Seokjin has to say? “You’re going to do fine on your test tomorrow. And if you don’t – that’s a big if – just retake it. It’s not the end of the world.”
“Okay,” Jungkook replies.
“You’re the best witch I’ve ever seen. And running this store I see a lot of witches. Trust me, you’ll be fine. Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.”
Jungkook nods. “Thank you.”
Seokjin smiles at him instead of responding. They look at each other and Jungkook feels a warmth spread through his chest. Seokjin’s so close to him and Jungkook can’t help but let his eyes fall to Seokjin’s lips. This could be it, he thinks. This could be the moment. Jungkook blinks and lets himself lean in.
Someone upstairs screams and Jungkook freezes. Then there’s laughter, and then a crashing sound and even more laughter. Jungkook sighs and leans back, defeated.
Seokjin lets out a small laugh and then takes his hand away from Jungkook’s face. “Anytime, Kook. You’re really special to me.” He pauses and then adds. “To everyone.” He collects Jungkook’s flashcards into a neat pile and then hands them back. “Goodnight, Jungkook. You should go home and get some sleep and I should go upstairs and see what Taehyung and Jimin broke.” He rolls his eyes, but it’s a fond action. “Hopefully it’s something fixable.”
Jungkook puts the flashcards in his bag. He gathers up the rest of his stuff and then heads out, telling Seokjin goodbye and to not get too mad at his brother and his familiar.
Sleep finds Jungkook easily.
The test is easier than Jungkook anticipated and two weeks after, he gets his badge delivered. Most witches always have their badge on them and Jungkook knows that he should as well, but three months later, his badge still sits in a drawer in his nightstand. It’s shiny, just as Namjoon said it would be, but other than that Jungkook doesn’t see the importance of it.
Of course he sees the literal importance: this badge identifies him as a real witch, no longer a trainee. He can buy all the ingredients he wants, within magical law of course.
But beyond that? Jungkook knew he stressed about passing, but now that he’s passed he doesn’t feel any relief. If anything, he feels more pressure. It’s as if all the magical community is looking at him and anticipating what’s the big thing he’s going to come up with. With each passing day, the expectation gets bigger.
And Jungkook knows what that big thing is. It’s bigger than anything that he’s ever done before and if he gets it right there’s no telling to the success that he could be given.
If only he could get it to work.
Jungkook stares at his notes, looking over the calculations once more in hopes of finding a small error. Finding a small mathematical error would be the best case scenario because then all he has to do is redo his calculations. But just as he expected, Jungkook doesn’t find anything wrong with his work. It’s just the entire theory that’s wrong.
“So run this by me again,” Yoongi says, sitting on the side of the table that gets the most sun. It’s so weird, Jungkook muses, that even when Yoongi is in his human form, he still acts a bit like a cat. He wonders if Jimin does the same thing. He should ask Seokjin the next time that he sees him. “You’re trying to get into the dreamscape? What is this, Inception?”
Jungkook shuts his book and stretches. He’s been sitting in this position for so long that he feels stiff. “Inception is a million times harder than what I’m trying to do. Can you imagine what it would be like to have a potion that not only influenced the creation of dreams, but actually made and controlled them? And then on top of that allowed for multiple layers of dreams? That’s insane. I highly doubt there’s a legal sedative that could be used. But maybe with enough valerian? Or maybe melatonin? It would have to be very concentrated, though. Way more than I’m using here.”
Yoongi doesn’t reply and Jungkook looks up to see why he isn’t. Yoongi has his arms crossed over his chest, looking at Jungkook sourly. “It was a joke, Jungkook. But glad to see that you know your stuff.”
“Oh.” Jungkook’s not embarrassed, per se, because Yoongi’s known him for enough time to know all of Jungkook’s quirks. When Jungkook gets interested in something, he goes all in. With him, it’s either all or none and this project has all of his attention. He’s been living, breathing, and ironically enough, sleeping it.
The goal is to make a potion that stimulates good dreams and decreases nightmares, but it’s proving a more difficult task than he thought it would be. Jungkook’s been researching dreams and magic for a long while, but it’s only now with his license that he’s truly able to start it. Playing around with this reality is hard enough, and it’s a stable one. Playing around with the unconsciousness is an entirely different ball game.
“Tell me how I can help,” Yoongi says. “What do you think is wrong?”
Jungkook sighs, if only he knew what was wrong then this entire process would become much easier. “I’m not sure. I think it’s the formulation itself? Because my math is correct.” He pushes the notebook towards Yoongi and he takes it, flipping through the pages before landing on the page that has a sticky note on it. “I think if I add more of a sedative it’d be able to work for a longer time, but I don’t like adding more of it because it makes me too groggy when I wake up.”
“Woah,” Yoongi says. “You’re taking your own potions?”
Jungkook nods slowly. Isn’t that standard protocol? And he’s not going to go around asking people to take his potions when he doesn’t know how it’ll affect them. This potion is still in the earlier stages. “Yeah, I am.”
Yoongi hits Jungkook’s arm with his notebook. “No wonder you look so tired. Don’t you feel tired?”
Jungkook nods again. He does feel tired, but it’s nothing that he isn’t used to. Sleep is always nice, but nowadays it feels like a luxury that Jungkook can’t afford. The only sleep he gets is when he’s testing out the potions, and while it’s not enough, Jungkook can work with it.
“You can’t think well when you’re tired, Jungkook. Get some real sleep and then go back to working on the potion. You’ll think better when you’ve caught up on your sleep,” Yoongi hands Jungkook back his notebook. “And don’t take your own potions, especially when you don’t tell anyone that you’re taking them. That’s just a recipe for disaster.”
Yoongi gets up and walks into the living room. “I’m more than willing to try some of them out, as long you can promise me that I’m not going to die. I like living, thank you very much.”
Jungkook sits at the edge of Yoongi’s bed, watching as Yoongi sips at the silver liquid. “I think it would be better if you just down it. Like a shot.”
Yoongi takes another sip. “This tastes disgusting.”
“I know,” Jungkook replies. “It’s because the ingredients aren’t really complementary. But hopefully this time it works?” He looks down at his notebook, jotting down the time. Ever since Yoongi had offered to take the potions, Jungkook has been using him as a test subject. There was a little hesitance on Jungkook’s part because he wasn’t sure if being a familiar would have an unforeseen consequence, but that hasn’t been an issue. In fact, Jungkook likes their arrangement better this way. Not only can Jungkook monitor Yoongi throughout the entire time that he’s sleeping, he can also help if need be.
But Jungkook hasn’t had to help because Jungkook’s potions have had absolutely no noticeable effects. This is supposed to be a potion about dreams and sleeping, yet Jungkook is exhausted. At this point, he’d be okay with any result. He just wants something . Something shows that he’s making process, breaking out of this endless loop that he’s currently stuck in.
Yoongi nods, gulping down the rest of the potion. It leaves his lips looking shiny, like he has an extra-thick layer of lipgloss on. He hands the vial to Jungkook and then relaxes back onto the bed, his hands behind his head. “So, see you soon?”
Jungkook nods. With the amount of sedative that is in this new batch, Yoongi should be out for four hours. It wakes him up in the middle of sleep cycle, which is what it’s supposed to do. You only remember dreams when you wake up from them. “Four hours. Sweet dreams.”
“Sweet dreams.” Yoongi closes his eyes and evens his breathing. Within two minutes, he’s fast asleep.
Jungkook stretches his legs out in front of him, knowing that he has time before anything should happen. Dreams only happen in the REM stage, but Jungkook has to know if something else happens before that. It shouldn’t, but it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.
He browses through his notebook, having half of his attention on the slow rise and fall of Yoongi’s chest. He thinks to back to when he was younger and Yoongi agreed to be his familiar. Most witches choose their familiars later in life, as the bond can’t be broken once it’s made, but Jungkook has never once regretted his choice. Yoongi balances him out, keeps him disciplined and grounded. Sure, they might not get along all the time and they bicker like siblings, but Jungkook is grateful for Yoongi. He doesn’t think he’s ever said that to him, though. Neither Yoongi nor Jungkook like to wear their emotions on their sleeves.
Jungkook writes down intermittent notes, mostly so he has something to keep him busy. It’s boring watching a person sleep. Fifteen minutes pass before Jungkook is even aware of it. Yoongi mumbles something underneath his breath and Jungkook tries to listen, but doesn’t catch it. Hm, that’s a new development. Yoongi has never talked in his sleep before.
He writes it down, but it feels anticlimactic. Weeks of work for Yoongi to says a few unintelligible words?
Yoongi mumbles again, louder this time. Jungkook notices that he has his fingers clenched in a fist. Jungkook checks the time. It’s nowhere near REM sleep, and besides during REM your body can’t move. So what’s this?
Jungkook stands up and leans over Yoongi to see if his other hand is also clenched when Yoongi starts screaming.
The sudden noise scares Jungkook and he jumps backward, notebook falling out of his hand and tumbling to the floor. The loose-leafed papers that he’s stuffed in there go flying across the carpet, but that’s the least of Jungkook’s concerns.
Jungkook has never heard Yoongi scream, but Yoongi is screaming like his life depends on it. He screams and Jungkook rushes towards him, trying to wake him up. Then Yoongi starts thrashing, slapping away Jungkook’s hands. He keeps screaming and the sound hurts Jungkook’s ears.
“Yoongi!” He sits Yoongi upright, shaking him hard. Yoongi opens his eyes and Jungkook thinks that he’s woken up but his gaze is glassy and unfocused. He’s still asleep. “Yoongi! Wake up!”
Yoongi continues to scream, and his chest is heaving. Each breath that he takes in rattles his entire frame. Jungkook grabs his hands and stops them from waving around and hurting himself. Yoongi resists him, but his hands stay in Jungkook grasp. “Yoongi! Yoongi! Yoongi!” Jungkook tries to yell over Yoongi’s voice to see if he can get him to wake up that way. But Yoongi stays stubbornly asleep and all Jungkook can do is watch as Yoongi screams his head off, sounding terrified.
It’s a night terror. Yoongi’s having a night terror. And you can’t wake up people when they’re having a night terror. Jungkook knows everything that one could know about sleep and its cycles, but he never thought that Yoongi would have a night terror. They’re like a nightmare, but earlier in the sleep cycle and most of the times, the person doesn’t ever recall having them. But even if Yoongi won’t remember having this episode, Jungkook doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to get Yoongi’s horrible screams out of his head.
All Jungkook can do is wait it out. He holds Yoongi, stopping him from accidentally hitting himself and waits until the screams and trembling stops. It takes forever. The screams just won’t stop. “I’m sorry,” Jungkook says. He has his eyes closed, not able to look at Yoongi anymore. “I’m so sorry.”
Yoongi stops screaming ten minutes later, but it feels more like ten years to Jungkook. Yoongi lays down on the bed as nothing had ever happened, and Jungkook feels like he’s going to be sick.
He leaves the room, and sits down in the hallway. He tries to even his breaths but they come in a quick, ill-paced rhythm. He feels lightheaded and dizzy and his chest hurts. His chest hurts so much then his throat starts closing and Jungkook knows he’s having a panic attack but it’s too late for him to do anything than but endure it. Panic attacks take everything out of Jungkook; they make him feel shaky and weak and even after they’re over, the aftereffects linger over him like a raincloud.
Jungkook stands up when he can finally breathe correctly. He tilts his head back, taking in the biggest breath of air that his lungs can handle. Everything aches. It feels like he’s been hit by a car. Then Yoongi starts screaming again.
He can’t. Jungkook just can’t. He rushes to his room and hides underneath the covers, placing the pillows of his head like shield. He can’t listen to Yoongi screams anymore. But Yoongi screams and screams and the pillow only muffles the noise, doesn’t block it out.
And even after Yoongi stops and goes back to sleep, Jungkook can still hear his screams replaying over and over in his head like a broken cassette tape. When the four hours are up and Yoongi wakes up, groggy and unfocused from the sedative, Jungkook is still hiding on his bed.
He can’t. He can’t do this anymore. Even if Yoongi doesn’t remember it, Jungkook does and it haunts him. The way that Yoongi thrashed around, eyes unfocused. The way he screamed. Oh god, the way he sounded terrified. His screams were blood-curdling, making Jungkook run cold.
Jungkook can’t ask Yoongi to take his potions anymore. He can’t.
“Nope. Nope. Nope.” Jungkook browses the aisles of Seokjin’s store, Yoongi trailing behind him. Seokjin’s not in the shop today, only Taehyung and Jungkook is grateful. Seokjin would surely worry about the dark half-moons under his eyes and the way how his skin looks pale. Taehyung only looks at him, and then looks away, shaking his head.
“You’re being stubborn,” Yoongi responds. He takes an item off a shelf and sniffs it. “Ew. Pixie dust.”
“I’m being cautious,” Jungkook replies, but he knows that Yoongi is right. He’s being stubborn, but if it works out, then is there a point arguing about it? “You aren’t taking the next batch of potions, stop asking.”
Yoongi puts the jar back on the shelf and picks up another. “I’m not a child, Jungkook. And I’m not asking. As your familiar I’m telling you to stop doing this to yourself.” He hands the jar to Jungkook. “Here. Have you tried this?”
Jungkook takes the jar and looks at the label. It’s liquid fairy wings. Very expensive, but it might work? Right now, Jungkook is almost done with his potion but the dreams aren’t good enough. They’re mild, nothing extraordinary. He knows because he’s the one dreaming them. “Hm. Maybe.” He puts the jar in his basket and then goes to check out. Taehyung doesn’t comment on the odd assortment of items, just wishes him luck.
Jungkook thanks him and then the two of them are out of the store and walking back home. There’s been a weird tension between them ever since the night terrors. Yoongi doesn’t remember anything, of course, but it still terrifies Jungkook. Yoongi keeps insisting that he should be the one to test out of the potions, but Jungkook won’t let him. It won’t end well, Jungkook knows it. It’s better to have a potion backfire on himself rather than somebody else. Besides, he never wants to hear Yoongi’s screams again.
“I’ll be upstairs,” Jungkook says the moment that they walk into the house. He slips off his shoes and his jacket. Hopefully with these last ingredients, the potion will be done. Hopefully. He rubs his eyes, and stifles back a yawn. Potion making is tiring.
“Wait,” Yoongi says and Jungkook wants to not wait. By Yoongi’s tone, Jungkook knows that he’s going to get lectured and Jungkook’s had enough. He’s working day-in, day-out on this stupid potion. He wants it to be done already, and nothing that Yoongi is going to say is going to change his mind.
“Yes?” Jungkook doesn’t turn, his eyes facing the stairway. He could just keep walking and go into his workspace and lock the door. He could.
“Don’t do this to yourself.”
Jungkook turns around. “Do what?”
Yoongi looks at him, unimpressed. Yoongi is hard to rile up, but wouldn’t it be so satisfying to get an actual reaction than the passive aggressiveness that he usually sends Jungkook’s way? “You know what I’m talking about. Look, you’re exhausted. Working in this state is going to get you nowhere.”
Jungkook scoffs. “Working in this state is going to get me exactly where I want to go, thanks.”
“Stop acting like a brat and take a break. You’re going to overwork yourself.”
“I’m not acting like a brat,” Jungkook says and he winces at how whiny his voice sounds. “Stop being so overprotective. You’re not in charge of me. I’ve been working my ass off to get this potion done. What the hell have you been doing?”
Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “Excuse me? What have I been doing? Who do you think is getting all of the stuff done around here so you can focus on work? Who do you think is the one to restock everything so you won’t run out? Who do you think is trying to fucking take care of you?”
“I don’t need your help, Yoongi. I didn’t ask for it and I don’t want it. I don’t need it. I don’t need you. What do I need is to get working on this goddamn potion. The sooner it’s done, the sooner I can take a break. Do you know how exhausting it is to have everyone’s eyes on you? Constantly? Watching and waiting to see what you do next? Do you know how high the expectations are for me? I don’t need to get dragged around by deadweight.” Jungkook pants after his rant, expecting Yoongi to explode right back at him.
But Yoongi stays calm. He rolls his eyes. “I’m going to hang out with Hobi. Call me when you decide to grow the fuck up.” He opens the door and walks out, leaving the door open. Jungkook watches him until he can’t. The house is eerily quiet, the only sound being Jungkook’s movements as he closes the door.
Fuck Yoongi and his holier-than-thou personality. Jungkook knows himself and his limits. And more importantly, he knows that he can’t wait any longer. Just the other day, he’d woken up to an email asking about his progress. And before that, he’d gotten a voicemail from the local newspaper, asking if he was available for an interview. He hasn't responded to either.
Jungkook trudges upstairs, making as much noise as possible. If Yoongi were here, he would tell Jungkook to be quiet, but Yoongi isn’t here. It’s better this way, because this way Jungkook can focus just on the potion and not have a worrying figure over his shoulder. He feels liberated and he quickly mixes the ingredients he just bought into the already simmering vat. The potion is transparent with a blue tint to it. It looks like ocean water and Jungkook is ready to dive in.
He has a good feeling as he gulps the potion. He looks at his watch and writes down the time. It’s still the middle of the day, but he should be out for eight hours. He closes his eyes and calms himself down. The last thing that he thinks is how good it feels to sleep.
Jungkook knows that he’s in a dream because this situation would never happen in real life. He sits up in bed and looks at the sleeping form next to him. Seokjin’s eyelashes flutter as he sleep and because it’s a dream, Jungkook isn’t afraid to reach his hand over and brush his fingers through Seokjin’s hair.
Seokjin stirs and opens his eyes slowly. “G’morning,” he says, yawning. He turns over so he’s facing Jungkook. “Why are you up so early?”
Jungkook keeps running his hands through Seokjin’s hair. He could get used to this sight. Seokjin’s beautiful at any given time, but there’s something about the soft morning light that makes Jungkook’s heart clench. The thought of being the first one to see Seokjin in the morning makes Jungkook realize that he doesn’t just like Seokjin. He loves him. Jungkooks loves Seokjin. That information settles on him more gently than he thought it would.
Seokjin closes his eyes and lets his head sink into the pillow. “Not going to answer me?” he teases.
Jungkook blinks. “This is a dream,” he says to remind himself. But saying it outloud makes it seem even more like reality. He’s sitting in bed next to Seokjin and nothing could be better. This is the best dream that he could ever have.
This is the best dream that he could ever have.
This is a best dream.
He did it.
Holy shit. Jungkook finally got his dream potion to work the way that he wanted it to work. He lets out a small laugh, a smile taking over his face. All of this work and he finally has a result that he can be proud of.
Dream-Seokjin doesn’t notice Jungkook’s revelation. “This is a dream?” he asks and his raspy voice tells Jungkook that he’s falling back asleep. “It’s a good one then.”
Jungkook nods. “Yeah, it’s great.” He closes his eyes and leans back into the bed. Even the sheets are soft and warm and everything smells lovely, a sweet mixture of honey and lavender. He takes in a deep breath, loving the scents around him. And he takes in another and then he’s gagging.
Jungkook’s mouth is filled with water. He panics, opening his eyes and sitting up right onto the bed. But there is no bed anymore. Jungkook coughs and then tries to take a breath or air but he’s only swallowing water. He’s surrounded in water. He’s drowning.
He tries to swim up, but there’s nothing there but more water. Is he going the wrong way? His lungs burn from the lack of oxygen and his head is starting to hurt. The panic keeps growing and growing inside of him. He tries to keep swimming but he can’t get his limbs to move. They’re nothing more than deadweights and they pull Jungkook down. He sinks and everything in him is screaming at him to fight back but he can’t do anything. He’s paralyzed and can do nothing but watch as the water takes him over.
Jungkook wakes up gasping for air. He breathes in heavily, grateful for the air in his lungs. His throat hurts and his body aches, but aside from that he’s okay. He just had a nightmare.
“Dammit,” he says out loud once he finally can find his voice. His dream potion was so close to working. So close. “Dammit. Dammit.”
He rolls over in his bed, knowing that he should get up and write down everything that had happened before he forgets it. But his body feels heavy and Yoongi was right when he said that Jungkook was overworking himself. Jungkook is exhausted, both mentally and physically.
Ah, Yoongi. He needs to apologize, but it’s the middle of the night. At least the potion did one thing correctly and made him fall asleep for eight hours. He sighs and brings the sheets closer towards him and although he tries to sleep, he stays wide awake.
In the afternoon, after Jungkook had done everything that he could think to do to procrastinate from facing Yoongi, Jungkook puts on his coat and crosses the short distance to Seokjin’s shop. Jungkook has never really noticed it before, but Seokjin’s store smells like a light mix between honey and lavender. The aroma is incredibly calming and Jungkook feels more assured by just walking in.
Seokjin is at the counter and he looks up when the door opens. He’s wearing his glasses again and his smile widens when he sees that it’s Jungkook. “Hey, Kook. Long time no see.”
Jungkook rubs the back of his neck and shrugs. Has it really been that long? Seokjin is constantly on Jungkook’s mind, but he has been busy these past months. Jungkook has only been out of his house when he really needs to be. “Sorry. Kind of got caught up in work.”
Seokjin laughs. “No worries. I just missed seeing your face around here.”
“Ha, you too,” Jungkook says. Why does he constantly have to be so awkward around Seokjin? “I mean, I’ve missed seeing you too.”
Seokjin smiles at him. “You’re here for Yoongi right?”
Jungkook nods somberly. “How’d you know?”
“He gave me bits and pieces of what happened. I kind of filled in the rest for myself. He worries about you, you know. He doesn’t mean to be stifling.”
“I know,” Jungkook admits. He didn’t mean to yell at Yoongi either, but what’s done is done and Jungkook knows that he’s in the wrong. He wants to apologize to Yoongi and make things right. The two of them butt heads, but they always work everything out in the end.
“He’s not here,” Seokjin says. He gestures to the seats by the counter. “But c’mon. You can wait here for him. He’s in town with Jimin and Taehyung. They should be back soon.”
Jungkook does as he’s told and takes a seat. Not too long ago he was sitting here studying to become a fully certified witch and now here he is, still sitting here. It’s funny how things work.
He watches as Seokjin goes around the store, restocking shelves and organizing drawers. A few customers wander in and out of the aisles and Jungkook is amazed by how attentive Seokjin is. There is only one of him, yet he sees to be there half a second before any of the customers ask for him. If Jungkook didn’t know any better, he would say that it’s magic.
When the store is quiet, Seokjin sits down in the chair next to him and tells Jungkook to tell him a funny story.
“A funny story?” Jungkook asks.
Seokjin nods. “Any story will do, but a funny one would be best.”
Jungkook thinks for a second before thinking of something that Seokjin would like. “Well, you know when I first met Namjoon I was really scared? He was this huge guy that had an insane amount of power and I was this tiny kid. And he tried really hard to show that he actually wasn’t this big scary witch that the rumors painted him out to be, but nothing was really working. That went on for a month.”
“And then one day we were in your store, but I don’t think you were here. I had to restock and Namjoon wanted to see what I was going to get. Yoongi stayed back, which made me even more scared. I remember trying to grab a handful of blessed seeds, but I was shaking so badly that they spilled all over the floor. I was tense, waiting for Namjoon to yell at me but then nothing happens. And I turn around and he’s petting this cat, talking to it like it was a baby.”
“Jimin? He was petting Jimin?” Seokjin looks at him with wide eyes, surprised at Jungkook’s words.
“Well, he was. Then I guess Namjoon touched him in the wrong spot because Jimin hisses at him and jumps away. And Namjoon turns to me with the most heartbroken look on his face. I swear, it looked like I had just broken his favorite wand.”
Seokjin tilts his head back so it hits the back of the seat. “Ah, now that’s better. That sounds more like the Jimin I know. Acts cute only to then bite you.”
“After that, Namjoon wasn’t so scary anymore. I mean, after getting rejected by a cat you kind of lose all your intimidation points.”
“I’m glad that Jimin was able to help you,” Seokjin says and he chuckles. “I’ll have to ask Jimin about that when they come back.”
Jungkook nods, agreeing. He’s never heard Jimin’s side of the story. “Jimin’s a good familiar.”
“Yes, he is,” Seokjin replies. “And Yoongi’s a good familiar too.”
“I know you know. I just wanted to tell you anyway.” Seokjin sits up in his seat. “It’s okay to not get something right on the first try. It’s okay not to get something right on the hundredth time. You’ll get it right when you’re meant to get it right.”
“And what if I’m never meant to get it right?”
“Then you move onto something else,” Seokjin says as if it’s that simple. Jungkook wishes that it were. “But, Kook, I think you’re perfectly capable of completing your potion. Just don’t take it all on your shoulders, okay?” He pauses and Jungkook realizes that he’s waiting for Jungkook to speak.
“Yeah, yeah. Okay,” he says.
Seokjin leans closer to Jungkook, grabbing his hand and holding it in his own. Seokjin squeezes lightly. “We’re all here if you need us. We all care about you, you know?”
Seokjin keeps saying “We” but all Jungkook is hearing is “I”. Seokjin squeezes his hand again and Jungkook squeezes back. “Thank you,” he says and he braces himself to tell Seokjin everything. He’s going to tell Seokjin that he loves him. It’s the perfect time.
“Seokjin,” Jungkook says. His voice sounds small to his own ears and he doesn't want to know what it sounds like to Seokjin. It’s okay. He can do this. He’s Jeon Jungkook after all, boy genius. “I-”
The door swings open with a loud bang. “Jesus christ, Taehyung. Could you be any more gentle?” he hears Yoongi say.
Taehyung walks into the shop with a sheepish look on his face and his hands full with groceries. Jimin trails in after him, shedding off his scarf and beanie. “Oh hey, Jungkook,” Jimin greets, a smile on his face.
“Hi,” Jungkook says, response stilted. The perfect moment to confess is over, crushed down, shattered. Jungkook takes his hands out of Seokjin’s grasp and stands up.
“What were you going to say, Kook?” Seokjin asks, also standing up. He moves to help Taehyung with the bags.
Jungkook shakes his head. “Ah, it’s nothing.”
“You sure?” Seokjin asks, concerned. He has his eyebrows furrowed together in the way he does when he knows that someone is lying but doesn’t know why.
Jungkook waves him off. “Yeah. It’s not important. Maybe I’ll tell you later.”
“Sure, sure.” Seokjin purses his lips and he looks towards the still-open door. “I’ll see you.”
Jungkook nods and then walks to the door. Yoongi stands in the doorframe, waiting for Jungkook to talk first. “Hey, Yoongi.”
A tense moment passes between them as Jungkook tries to work out what he was going to say. He had it planned all the way out when he came over, but now all that is planning isn’t doing him any favors. “Can we talk?”
Yoongi doesn’t respond for a second and Jungkook starts to worry. But then Yoongi nods. “Yeah. C’mon, let’s go home.”
Jungkook lets out a sigh of relief. Maybe Seokjin is right: things will work out how they’re supposed to.
Seokjin looks at this notebook, and then looks again. He puts on his glasses and then looks once more just to be extra sure. It’s possible, sure, but it’s just not likely.
“Hey, Tae,” he calls. “Did we really run out of the dream elixir?” He checks the numbers again and if he squints his eyes, Taehyung’s sloppy handwriting can look like something completely different than the zero he’s seeing now. They really have none of the elixir left in the shop?
Taehyung walks into the room, still in his pajamas. If it weren’t the weekend, Seokjin would chide him for staying in bed all day. But it is and Seokjin is still in his pajamas as well. “Yeah. Sold the last one to this pixie girl yesterday. She almost cried when I handed it to her. Said something like she’s been trying for ages to get it. Which isn’t that big of a surprise. I just don’t know how to handle crying customers. Luckily Jimin was there.”
“But didn’t we just get a new stock in the beginning of the week?”
Taehyung yawns. “Mhm. That we did. Jungkook’s potion is selling like hotcakes, to the surprise of no one.” He yawns again and the rubs at his eyes. “Is that all? Or did you have something more for me to do? Because I think my bed is missing me.”
Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Oh no, what a pity. We can’t have your bed getting heartbroken, can we?”
Taehyung gives him a sleepy smile before walking off. “You’re so considerate.”
“I know, I know,” Seokjin says. He looks back at his notebook, still staring at the big zero. They have zero dream elixirs left in stock. Seokjin might slip up and let a few items run low, but he’s never out of them. Jungkook’s potions are selling too fast for the store to keep up. Seokjin had arranged for Jungkook to give him the next batch in two weeks and while Seokjin would be fine with keeping up that schedule, someone just placed a huge order for them. And they want it at the end of week.
Seokjin sighs. He’s going to have to go and buy more from Jungkook, isn’t he? He looks down at himself and then sighs again. There’s no way that he’s going over to Jungkook’s looking like he is now.
Twenty minutes later, Seokjin is making the short walk to Jungkook’s house. He rings the doorbell and waits for someone to answer it. He’s nervous, but he knows exactly why. He hates how he always gets nervous around Jungkook. It didn’t used to happen before, but it had crept upon him slowly until just looking at Jungkook made Seokjin blush.
Why did Jungkook have to be such a good person? He is caring and kind and while he’s a bit reckless, it’s never with ill intent. And the thing is, Seokjin knows that Jungkook has a crush on him. He’s just been waiting for Jungkook to pluck up the courage and ask him out. There have been a few times that Seokjin had thought that Jungkook was going to, but then something always got in the way.
The door opens loudly and Seokjin is brought back from his thoughts. Yoongi is on the other side, hair mused like he just got from a nap. Was today a “sleep all day” type of day and Seokjin just missed the memo?
“Jungkook’s upstairs,” Yoongi says and Seokjin steps in and takes off his shoes. Seokjin thanks Yoongi and then walks up the stairs, the layout slightly unfamiliar. He’s only been in here a few times; the times that they see each other mostly being when Jungkook comes over to his shop. But it’s not that hard to know which room that Jungkook is in. The door is wide open.
Seokjin walks into the room and waits for Jungkook to notice him. It takes a while because Jungkook is so engrossed in his potion making, but Seokjin doesn’t mind waiting. He likes watching Jungkook work. He has a cute habit of pushing his lips together while he concentrates.
Finally, Jungkook looks up. He jumps slightly and Seokjin laughs. “Oh, hey,” Jungkook says. “I didn’t see you there.” He pushes his protective goggles up so they rest on top of his head. They push his bangs up, leaving his forehead bare. When did Jungkook get so handsome? “What’s up?”
“I have a favor to ask you,” Seokjin says. He walks closer to Jungkook’s work station and looks at what he’s currently working on. It looks to be an updated formula of Namjoon’s luck potion. Seokjin’s glad that he’s finally taking a crack at it. He never did like the metallic aftertaste.
“What a coincidence. I had a favor to ask you too.”
Seokjin turns to face Jungkook, surprised. “You do?”
Jungkook nods. “Yeah. But you can go first.”
Seokjin looks at him, trying to see what he’s planning. There’s something off about the way Jungkook is talking, but Seokjin can’t put his finger on it. He’s curious to see what Jungkook has to ask him, so he hurries up and asks for his favor: “I need another batch of the sleep elixir. As soon as you can, please.”
Jungkook now is the one to be surprised. “Didn’t I just send you a batch at the start of this week?”
Seokjin nods. “You did. But it’s sold out.” He smiles at Jungkook. “Look at you, selling out of potions. How does it feel to be this popular?”
“But I gave you so many,” Jungkook says, still trying to wrap his head around the fact that they all sold in such a short period of time.
“I know. People really like your work, Kook.”
Jungkook takes his goggles off and puts them on the table. Shame, Seokjin did like seeing him with his forehead exposed. “They really all sold out?” he asks excitedly. “All of them?”
“Taehyung says he sold the last one to a crying customer.”
Jungkook smiles widely and Seokjin feels his heart skip a beat. Damn, Seokjin has it really bad, doesn’t he? “So when do you need the next batch by?”
Seokjin reaches into his pocket and finds the order sheet. He hands it to Jungkook and Jungkook wipes down his hands on the front of his apron before taking it. “The person who ordered them wants them by next Friday, so Thursday if that’s possible? If not, Friday should work. It just has to before the pick up time. We haven’t confirmed that yet, so I’ll let you know when I know.” Seokjin fully expects Jungkook to turn him down. The order isn’t exactly a small one and you can’t rush potion making.
But Jungkook always likes to defy expectations. “I can get them to you Thursday, no problem.” He hands the paper back to Seokjin but Seokjin tells him to keep it.
“That’s your copy,” he explains. “And thanks, you could have turned down that request if you wanted to.”
Jungkook blushes but Seokjin doesn’t know why. Usually he’s the cause of Jungkook’s blushes, but he didn’t say anything out of the ordinary, did he? “Ah, anything for you, Seokjin.” He clears his throat. “So, uh, can I ask you for a favor too?”
Seokjin wonders what Jungkook is going to ask him. Jungkook isn’t one to go around asking for help, but he’s getting better at it. Seokjin’s proud. “Go ahead.”
Jungkook braces himself like he’s going to get hit. Now Seokjin’s really curious. “I, uh, wanted to see if you would go on a date with me?” He continues to stand stiff and Seokjin can’t help but laugh. This isn’t how he saw their confession scene going at all. But then again, Jungkook never did anything by the book. He always had to go out and surprise them all.
“I’m sorry, you can just pretend I never said anything,” Jungkook says, backtracking. Seokjin immediately stops laughing.
“Oh, no. I’m not laughing at you. I’m just… laughing at everything.”
“Yeah, everything.” Seokjin gives him a small smile.
Jungkook opens his mouth to speak, and then closes it. Finally, he asks, “So, is that a yes?”
Seokjin walks towards Jungkook and takes his hand. Jungkook’s hands are warm and soft. “It’s a yes.”
“Can I ask one more question?”
Seokjin thinks he knows where this is going, but he’ll humor Jungkook. “Sure.”
“Can I kiss you?”
Seokjin answers him by kissing him. Jungkook is stiff, but only for moment. The kiss is short and sweet, but for now it’s enough. Seokjin breaks the kiss, leans in for one more, and then pulls away.
“Wow,” Jungkook says. His eyes are wide and his lips are parted. Seokjin laughs at the sight. He’s so cute and he doesn’t know it. “Wow,” he says again and he puts his hand back to rest on the table. But he misjudges it and doesn’t put his arm far enough back. He falls, his unbalanced body weight dragging him down. Some part of him hits the table and all the items go flying, including the cauldron. Which has a boiling hot potion in it.
Seokjin sees it in slow motion: Jungkook lands on the ground with a thud; the cauldron tips over and spills its contents: the liquid lands on Jungkook’s arm and then the steel cauldron falls right onto his hand.
“Holy shit,” Jungkook says, standing up quickly and rushing towards the sink. He sticks his hand under the faucet and turns on the water. The noise of the water running shake Seokjin from his stupor. He rushes towards Jungkook, trying as best as he can to assess the damage.
After a minute, Jungkook takes his hand out of the water. The skin is red and inflamed, but there are no serious burns that Seokjin sees at first glance. But it still needs to be taken care of. “Do you have any first-aid items here?” he asks.
Jungkook shakes his head. “No.”
Later at the shop, Seokjin spreads a salve over Jungkook’s arm. He’s careful not to get it on the wrap that he put around Jungkook’s hand. Luckily, Jungkook didn’t break his arm and while Seokjin can heal sprains in his sleep, he thinks that Jungkook will be more careful when he has to heal the normal way.
“Please be more careful, Kook,” Seokjin says. And then because he can, he leans forward and presses a small kiss to Jungkook’s forehead.
Jungkook smiles at him. “No promises, but I’ll try my best.”
Seokjin gives his forehead another kiss. “That’s all I ask.”