September passes. October arrives.
Yoojae still hasn’t realised Yoongi doesn’t really live in his house anymore, and Yoongi isn’t about to tell him that he’s shacked up the mountain with a man that’s a god and has a mere passing relationship with clothes, decency, and the human body. Yoongi still comes down every day or so, driven by Jimin or Seokjin, to check on the cows and tramp the fields and put the bales in. Sometimes Jae is there. Once, he brings another boy with olive eyes and a quiet smile, and tells Yoongi that this is that guy I’ve been talking so much about! and Yoongi hasn’t the heart to tell him he hasn’t been listening.
Yoong never really listened to anything before Hoseok. Now he listens to the wind and the trees and Hoseok, whispering things in his ear, telling him -- everything.
Yoongi spends his days walking the forest with Taehyung. Or Namjoon. Or Jimin. Or Jeongguk, or Seokjin. But mostly Hoseok.
Taehyung tells him about being a fox, about nosing and nustling rustling hustling and eating. About how good it feels, how alive he feels. Namjoon describes flight, and mice, and the peace of the night. Jimin just talks about Jeongguk. Jeongguk just talks about Jimin. Seokjin howls, and then shows Yoongi how to carve a whistle from a tree trunk.
Hoseok shows Yoongi everything else.
September passes. October arrives.
The leaves redden as though they’ve been sent some mass internal memo. Any time Yoongi looks out the window, he sees them raining through the woods. He forgets, sometimes, that he lived anywhere but here.
Jimin and Jeongguk are lying on the floor. Jimin is asleep. Jeongguk is petting his hair. “Morning, Yoongi-hyung.”
“Morning.” Yoongi stopped caring about covering up the red marks a week or two ago, when he realised that the whole point of his living here was to serve that particular purpose. It keeps the wailing faces from their windows, and Hoseok gets revitalised, and so what if it means Yoongi has to sleep more, if he feels faint when they do any more than kiss and dry-hump like teenagers?
(They’re saving it for Samhain. The Big One. The worshipful ceremony.)
“Hyungie says we can make the leaf pile today,” Jeongguk says happily, stroking his fingers through Jimin’s hair. “You wanna help?”
“Sure.” There’s a pot of coffee sitting on the kitchen table, half-full. Hoseok is gone out. Sometimes he goes into the forest for a day or two, and then comes back, smelling of trees and earth and looking strangely fuzzy, like a photo taken with a dirty camera, his edges not-all-there. “When?”
“When everyone wakes up - is, uh, is he in?” Jeongguk - they all - get nervous, saying Hoseok’s actual name. Namjoon doesn’t, really, but Taehyung flat-out refuses to say it, and Jimin mutters Cernunnos under his breath, instead of - of - Hoseok.
“Hoseok?” Yoongi smiles, pouring himself a cup. “Yeah. He was away, but -- yeah, he’s back.”
“We could make the pile, then!”
“Of course.” Yoongi carries his mug to go sit down on the floor next to Jeongguk and Jimin, sliding in at the side of their warmth. “Sleep well?”
“Yeah. You’re - doing a real good job.” Jeongguk looks nervous, for a second. “We… thought, at the start, that I was -- I was gonna, I was gonna be the sacr-- be the. Be the you.”
“That’s why you kept freaking out? And Jimin looked like he was gonna kill me?”
Jeongguk smiles fondly down at the head pillowed in his lap, at Jimin quietly sleeping. “Y-yeah. Jiminie-hyung thought you were lying about not dreaming about me. I’m - I mean, a, a, a bunny. And the doe, you, you might be… more - there’s less chance of you-”
Jeongguk flushes deep and red and uncomfortable. He’s the smallest. Yoongi feels bad for how deeply guilty Jeongguk seems to feel about what’s going to happen on Samhain. “Yeah. Um. Yeah. I - Jiminie-hyung thought I’d be dead for sure.”
“But now it’s me.” Yoongi sips the coffee, then relents when he sees Jeongguk squirm. “None of that. Hoseok is careful about it. He wants to -- for Samhain. Nobody’s trying to kill anybody.”
There’s a moment of companionable silence. Outside, the wind howls, whipping red orange yellow brown gold into the air, miniature tornadoes, whirlwinds of leaves. Rustling. “Where’s everyone else?”
“Uh… Jin-hyung took Joon-hyung to the shop to get more eggs ‘n stuff, and Taehyungie’s still in bed, and -- and, and he’s still in bed too, I think. There’s gonna be… more celebrations, tonight,” Jeongguk nibbles the corner of his thumb, the hand not in Jimin’s hair. “Dancing. And music and stuff.”
“It’ll be fun.” Yoongi drains his mug. “It always seems to be.”
And Jeongguk smiles softly and sweetly. “We do as much work to close the gap as he does, y’know. He does the locking, but it’s us that gives him the energy to. You that gives him the energy to. He knows he’d be stuck without any faith.”
“Faith seems hard to come by,” Yoongi mumbles. He smiles fondly at the pair of them, Jeongguk curled protectively around Jimin.
“That’s what all the… ones in between, that’s what they don’t have,” Jeongguk waves his hand vaguely, “The ones in the night. They’re on the other side. Y’know, of the -- spirit realm sounds cheesy, stupid, but that’s what it is. And they’re stuck, and they wanna get through, ‘cept none of them have any faith, and he does. And he’s different to them. He died and got worshipped, not died and got forgot. And now he’s here, protecting you - us - from them.”
“He does a good job,” Yoongi manages.
“Like Jimin-hyung. He’s a cat.”
“Cats are special.”
They chat a bit more. Jeongguk wants to see the cows; Yoongi wants to show them to him. Jimin wakes up at one point, reaching up to leave a lingering kiss on Jeongguk’s lips, then standing and stretching. Bones pop. “Are we making the leaf pile today?”
“Yeah, if he’s in, and if hyungie wants to when he comes back from the shop,” Jeongguk shoots a nervous look Yoongi’s way, like he’ll judge him for the leaf piling. At least he doesn’t stutter anymore.
“I’ll check.” Yoongi shuffles back, meeting Taehyung in the hallway, smiling a little.
Hoseok is lying in the bed. Their bed? The spare room bed?
Something Yoongi has noticed: when Hoseok is asleep, deeply, deeply asleep, his antlers seem to fuzz out of being, like they’re ghosting through the pillow. When he’s asleep, white spots appear, running down his spine like fawn-flecks. His nose gets a little longer. He smiles less, when he’s asleep. His long fingers curl around Yoongi’s pillow (in lieu of Yoongi) and he looks peaceful, not constantly straining to keep the spirits away from the outskirts of the forest.
It pains Yoongi to shake him awake.
“Hoseokah,” he says, softly, “Seokah, do you want to wake up?”
“No,” Hoseok says. “Do I get the choice?”
“Um… I don’t think so.”
Hoseok throws the pillow down. His antlers have returned, tucked a little further around the back of his head so he can stay curled on his side. “Come lie with me.”
“Okay,” Yoongi agrees easy, his limbs loose and free after prayer last night. Prayer - Hoseok, leaning over his body, nipping at his neck and his shoulders and his collarbones, and Yoongi babbling mindless, worshipful words, calling Hoseok all the praise under the world, telling him how beautiful -- and getting the compliments back in his turn. “Okay. Just ‘til Seokjin and Namjoon get back from the shop. Jeongguk wants to make a leaf pile.”
“That’s important,” Hoseok murmurs, tucking Yoongi next to him, wrapping his forearm against Yoongi’s middle easily. “But it can wait.”
Yoongi stares at the flower arrangement on the windowsill. The autumn leaves, sellotaped to twigs. He stares at it, and thinks about how happy, about how satisfied and happy and here he feels. More grounded than the cows.
Hoseok breathes against his shoulder, and Yoongi knows that he’s happy here.
Seokjin and Namjoon come back from the shop. Bread, milk, eggs, meat, the usual - Jeongguk gets a packet of gum, Yoongi gets an apple. Hoseok rests his chin on Yoongi’s head; Yoongi takes a bite, then passes it up, and they eat it that way, bite between them. Hoseok smells of himself.
“We’re gonna make the leaf pile, today,” Jeongguk says. “Hyung said so.”
“I’ll bring out tea,” Namjoon says, mouth full of bread. “Yeah?”
Building a leaf pile is hours of back-breaking labour. Yoongi used to do it, of course, down with Yoojae back when they talked, filling a little hollow with handfuls of leaves and then sitting in it for ten minutes or so; of course, up here, it’s much more intense. Wheelbarrows and shovels are fetched. Jeongguk vanishes, and a little black rabbit ends up talking a family of badgers into leaving their hole, just for the day, until the leaf pile is done.
Hoseok sits, legs flung over the branch of a tree, surveying. He doesn’t move to help - it feels sacrilegious, Yoongi decides, to even ask. None of them do. Hoseok lounges, at ease, a king overseeing his courtiers.
It’s like the scraping.
Yoongi gets his barrow and goes below a horse chestnut tree, scooping five-frond leaves into the barrow, along with the occasional conker husk. Taehyung is near him, working on the other side of the tree, sweeping up piles of leaves, piling them high in his bucket.
Every so often, Yoongi wheels back to the hollow in the ground. Hoseok, sitting above him, smiles softly and calls to him: Yoongiyah, don’t work too hard, as though they’re doing this for some other reason. The more tired they get, the more energy they spend, the brighter Hoseok becomes - moss, springing up by his fingers. His antlers, glowing.
He is ethereal.
Around noon, Namjoon goes indoors to make tea. Yoongi slumps down where he’s standing, under the chestnut tree; Jeongguk sighs and sits down by Jimin’s feet, his eyes half-closed. Jimin starts petting him, making cooing noises. Seokjin follows Namjoon. Taehyung starts poking holes in the conkers with a pen, then threading his shoelaces through them.
“Are you tired?” Hoseok asks, and Yoongi realises with a start that Hoseok’s swung down from the tree, that Hoseok is sitting beside him.
Hoseok smiles. His lips make a heart, and Yoongi wants to kiss them. “Do you hate it?”
“How you have to keep me.”
“Keep you?” Yoongi leans back against Hoseok’s chest, tucking himself under Hoseok’s arm as he watches Taehyung challenge Jimin to a game of conkers, swinging them around on the end of the shoelaces.
“Keep me. Energy. Do you hate it?”
“You wouldn’t stop even if I did.”
Hoseok shrugs. “I was going to have to take the bunny, months ago. Before you showed up. I felt guilt, but I would still do it. But do you hate it?”
“I work hard anyway,” Yoongi begins, unsure of what answer Hoseok wants from him. He doesn’t hate it. Not really. It makes him feel alive again. “I worked. And - and I don’t, hate it. I used to do this with my brother. I like… like feeling tired.”
“Nobody likes feeling tired.” Hoseok’s face is screwed up, thinking of something different to what he’s saying.
“No, no -- I mean, I like feeling like I’ve done something. At the end of the day. It’s nice to know you’ve spent… spent your energy on something,” Yoongi feels clumsy when he explains, his face growing hot, “It’s just nice. I don’t hate it, Hoseokah.”
“That’s good. I like it. The leaf piles… the senseless labour. Work for the sake of work.” Hoseok inhales deep, eyes closed. “That’s how they worshipped me at the very, very beginning.”
Yoongi watches Taehyung smash Jimin’s conker; laughing, Jeongguk sits up, covered in leaves, snatching the shoelace from Jimin’s hand, asking to beat the champion.
“The very beginning.”
“Yes. Back then. Back then, I’d get everything. All the labour in these woods went to me,” Hoseok drops his head to Yoongi’s neck. Lips press against the skin there, the bruises left the night before. Nothing more than bruises, no matter how much Yoongi wants there to be. Worship, base worship. Praise of the body -- worship of the soul.
Yoongi sighs and leans back. Hoseok is warm. “When was that?”
“I don’t know. I have to show you, soon.”
“Have the rest of them seen?”
Namjoon comes rattling out with a tea tray and a packet of biscuits. Seokjin traipses after him with the tin of fruitcake, smiling - the food is set gently on a tree stump next to the chestnut tree, and the conkers are abandoned.
Hoseok hugs Yoongi tighter, preventing him from moving - he hadn’t been, anyway. “No. They don’t know where it is. Nobody knows where it is, except me.”
And, soon, me, Yoongi thinks. Quietly. “Why not?”
“It’s… more than sacred. You’re the doe. Nobody else can see.”
Yoongi squeezes Hoseok’s hand. “I don’t hate it, Seokah. And I’m looking forward to Samhain -- I am, somehow. Let’s drink tea and throw conkers at Jeongguk.”
“You shouldn’t look forward,” Hoseok says, but it’s quiet enough that Yoongi can pretend he hasn’t heard it. He stands, still holding Hoseok’s hand, dragging him along to the tea; Hoseok hits the prong of an antler against the tree trunk, and Seokjin giggles.
They finish the fruitcake and make a dent in the biscuits. The tea is hot and sweet, good, energising. Yoongi is sweaty and sticky and satisfied in a way only brought to him by hard work, the happiness that comes with burning yourself out properly. Hoseok sits down and pulls Yoongi into his lap - Yoongi goes uncomplaining. Everyone is tired and laughing, companionable. Jeongguk keeps pulling Jimin’s hand into his hair every time it leaves; Taehyung is teasing him.
Yoongi couldn’t hate this if he tried.
After a while they pick back up. The leaves are endless, in the forest, no matter how many they sweep up, but there’s already a massive pile of them in the hollow - they’re halfway done, by Yoongi’s guess.
Taehyung starts singing, after a while, a light little song half-understandable, half-in some other language Yoongi doesn’t understand. Jimin picks up above him. Seokjin, underneath. Namjoon, humming. Jeongguk, beaming, singing the tune.
It’s easy to pick up. When the tune rolls back to the start, Yoongi joins in quietly, not missing the smile Hoseok sends him.
The leaf pile grows. Yoongi wheels his barrow further out, to the broad-leaved oaks and sycamores, and starts filling it more, taking more time between trips. Jeongguk changes the song to an old folk one, something Yoongi remembers from years ago, his grandfather singing it in the long nights around the stove - he picks up, stronger.
They work through lunch. Sometimes, they dart out to the nearest brook and wet their faces with the water, but mostly they just work. Hoseok doesn’t call, or shout; his eyes are closed, his hands outstretched, palms up. Everything around him is suffused with a warm orange glow.
Seokjin makes another pot of tea.
“I’m wrecked,” Taehyung sighs, flinging himself down next to the tree stump. he brightens when he sees the ham slices and the bread. “Oo, food.”
Yoongi says nothing. Hoseok doesn’t, either, but it’s a good sort of nothing - Hoseok’s eyes have been closed for a half hour, now, and he’s holding on to Yoongi like a lifeline, but it’s a good sort of hold.
Tea. Hot, good, sweet. Yoongi dips biscuits into it until they threaten to fall off; then he gulps them down. Texts Jae.
jae: wdym ur not here
jae: do u have FRINEds
jae: ill put the bale in dw
jae: are u payin me
jae: thanss sk yoon ily
It’s five in the afternoon, and the sky is darkening, and they’ve worked six hours without much stop. Yoongi could drop down, sleep right here in the leaves, but he feels wrung out and good. Nobody calls, nobody tells them that the pile is done; they just realise it, suddenly, and reconvene with empty barrows and smiling faces and damp shirts. Hoseok opens his eyes.
“Now’s the fun part,” murmurs Jeongguk.
“We offer the sweat from our backs and the fruits of our labours,” says Seokjin formally.
Hoseok bows his head. “And I accept them.”
They’re quiet. The others have bowed their heads, but Yoongi can’t look away from Hoseok; he’s caught in the trap.
Then Taehyung screams, and breaks the silence. “Ya-hoo! Fuck you! I’m in first!”
And he dives into the leaf pile.
“Oi!” Yells Jimin, and then he’s flinging himself in, too, and then Jeongguk is shouting hyungie wait for me and Seokjin is throwing himself in and Namjoon, too, and Hoseok is down from his tree branch, standing beside Yoongi, his hand held out.
“C’mon in, share the fruits of your labour,” he says teasingly.
Yoongi beams. “This is the best bit.”
Leaves, stuffed down his shirt and into his mouth and in his hair. The best part of a leaf pile is the jumping-in, the first moment of it, knees hitting the empty air instead of ground, sitting in leaves up to your waist, feeling on top of the world because you’ve worked all day for nothing and it’s the most wonderful nothing in the world.
Namjoon and Taehyung are wrestling in the leaves. Jimin and Jeongguk are - making out, apparently, which is hardly a surprise anymore. Seokjin keeps tossing chestnut leaves down Namjoon’s shirt, trying to disadvantage him.
“Come on and enjoy yourself, Yoongiyah,” Hoseok says, and then throws a pile of leaves in Yoongi’s face.
Yoongi emerges spluttering bracken, and with a stupid smile dangling from his lips. “Oh, you’re on--”
And then they’re tossing in the leaves, too, laughing, and Hoseok’s grabbing him and Yoongi’s kissing him and they’re all together, laughing and exhausted, a day spent doing useless work.
The leaves - one of the best parts of autumn. Hands-down.
After an hour, an hour and a half, energy wanes. Hoseok’s skin is hot to touch, but it’s cold outside, and Yoongi keeps himself in Hoseok’s embrace, lying with his eyes closed against his chest. Jeongguk has fallen asleep, mostly buried in the leaves. Taehyung is going that way, his head nodding. Jimin seems to be putting himself to sleep, mostly, stroking up and down Jeongguk’s spine, curling around him.
“We spend the night out here, love,” Hoseok says quietly, a whisper in Yoongi’s ear. “To show them that we’re unafraid. Keep the vigil.”
“I never… never,” Yoongi yawns, “Never slept ‘n a pile of leaves ‘fore.”
“They’re going to come for you, and I’m going to show them how strong you are. And that’s the vigil. It’ll hold them off until Samhain.”
“Mm… okay.” The sun has set, fully, now. Yoongi is warm, despite the night, and he figures everyone else must be, too; Hoseok is heating up the whole pile, his skin glowing yellow. Bronze.
Hoseok makes a move to stand. Yoongi panics; his hands clamp around Hoseok’s forearms. “Where--”
“I have to show them,” Hoseok murmurs. Points at them, the crowds of translucent eyes, the mushrooms grown as tall as a man, the drooping blue twigmen, the sluagh cooing and squawking, all tripping and dripping around the forest. “Yoongiyah… love, I have to show them what god you’ve got.”
Yoongi lets go. Maybe Hoseok makes him let go. Either way, he falls back against Seokjin, who’s half-asleep and curled in a ball, and groans to see Hoseok stand. His warmth stay in the pile of leaves, even as he goes.
Everyone is asleep, save the two of them, and the spirits in the night.
Hoseok stands vigil.
Everything is dark, and this is how he stands:
Furs. Fur, and leather, and freckles. His hair, long and curling at the nape of his neck, creeps around the roots of his antlers. His whole body glows, shines, shimmers, orange and yellow and brown, muted colour, strong in its quiet confidence. Barefoot, heels dug into the bracken. The fawn-spots of deerskin up his spine. Antlers, roots and branches and tributaries, sprouting above his ears.
Hoseok stands vigil, just standing, using the fruits of their labour, and they sleep. Yoongi watches him, though, quietly.
Yoongi watches him until the sun rises, and then pretends to wake up with the rest.
(He thinks Hoseok might know, anyway.)
He brings Jeongguk and Jimin down to the yard, one day, very very close to Samhain. “Stay in the car,” and Jeongguk pouts, but complies. Yoongi slides out from the front seat, checking back and forth for Yoojae or Minji.
Their car is gone. Check-up? Shopping trip? Visits with friends? Either way, they’re not here - Yoongi waves his hand at the pair in the jeep, and leaps the gate in amongst the cows.
“Cows, hyungie, cows!”
“Yeah, Gukkie.” Jimin’s voice is quiet and fond.
Yoongi ignores them; they’re leaning over the wall, and his cows (Yoojae’s cows) are snuffling over their hands. He moves through them. No coughing, no sneezing, no dilated eyes, no blood in the shit, no nothing. One of them has a little scabbed tick on her neck; Yoongi pulls it off, pinching the tick between finger and thumb, patting down the raised skin with a soothing little hush. The cow snorts in irritation.
Nothing. Nothing. He scrapes, a bit, while Jimin and Jeongguk are messing about in the stick shed. The slats are smelling properly, now that the cows have been in for a month, musk and effluent and sweetness. It smells nice.
“Are these your cows, hyungie?” Jeongguk asks, blinking as he pats one of them on the flank.
“My brother’s,” Yoongi replies. Jimin is off fiddling with the old tractor.
“Like…” Jeongguk looks around, like he’s expecting Yoojae to be hiding in a hedge, “Like is he gone? Does he live ‘round here?”
“Lives on that house up the hill,” Yoongi points. He’ll have to put a bale in, tonight, and that’ll last them two days if he scatters the meal through the orchard. The cows have fun looking for it in the grass. (The remnants of the grass.)
“If he lives so close, how come you have to keep coming down here?”
Yoongi shrugs. “Just the way we do it.”
“Yeah.” He doesn’t like this conversation, Yoongi decides. “Wanna come help me drive a tractor?”
And at night, Hoseok presses Yoongi against the mattress, kissing him harshly, grinding down on his cock. Yoongi, gasping words of worship into his mouth, his wrists held above his head, his mind spinning light, Hoseok telling him you’re beautiful the best i’ve ever seen --
and at night hoseok and yoongi go out, running, hooves digging through the mud and the dirt, and hoseok pressing his wet nose to yoongi’s hindquarters, rubbing along yoongi’s soft fur while yoongi whines and whimpers,
And at night, Hoseok stopping right before Yoongi might faint - and they can go farther and farther, the further into October it reaches - and taking him to the bathroom, they wash up, and they go to the kitchen, and there’s always someone awake, and Yoongi falls asleep on Hoseok’s lap listening to Hoseok talk - talk to Namjoon, or Jin, or Taehyung, mostly.
and at night yoongi is the doe and hoseok is his hart,
And at night, Yoongi is himself, and Hoseok has his heart.
Yoongi falls into a neat sort of routine.
It’s nice. It’s good. The badgers move back into the hole under the leaf pile, and Hoseok hasn’t had to stand vigil since that night, and every so often they go and split sticks for the fire or climb trees or play conkers, and Hoseok takes that energy too. It’s nice. It’s good. None of the spirits dare to come near - Yoongi leaves them as a bad dream in his memory.
Every day, as Samhain ticks closer, Hoseok gets brighter and stronger and happier. And Yoongi --
gets ever more nervous.
Gets ever more alive.
“Yoongiyah,” a whisper, “Love, wake up,” and Yoongi, groaning and rolling over. “Yoongiyah. I want to show you - someplace. Please.”
“It’s early,” Yoongi croaks, looking at Hoseok through sleep-gummed eyes. It is early. The dawnlight is cracking its way through the curtains, and Yoongi is used to sleeping in during the winter months, no getting up early to count the cows, one of the few treats he allows himself.
“It has to be early. It takes a while to get there. A… a world to get there, you might say.” Hoseok is naked, and smiling. There’s a mole on his top lip Yoongi hasn’t noticed before; he reaches up, brushing his lips lightly over it.
“Better be worth it.”
“I think it will be.”
Yoongi lets himself relax, lets Hoseok pick him up and set him on the edge of the bed, sitting up. “Are we going to where you --?”
“Yes,” Hoseok looks at him. Surveys him, curiously. “Would that disturb you?”
“I don’t… think so,” Yoongi sighs, resting his forehead on Hoseok’s shoulder, “I’m so tired.”
“It’s a lovely morning. And -- it’s important for you to see,” Hoseok says softly. He brushes his thumb against Yoongi’s lip, then kisses his cheek. “Samhain is coming, coming along the way. Let’s go.”
“Okay,” Yoongi stands, slipping his hand into Hoseok’s; curling his fingers around Hoseok’s slender wrist. He doesn’t bother dressing. If he’s taken Hoseok’s meaning the way he thinks he’s meant to, they’ll be - doe and hart, today - they’ll have no need for clothes. And it’s dawn. Nobody in the house will be awake.
(Jimin and Jeongguk are asleep in the living-room, halfway undressed, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary.)
And then they’re out in the forest. Yoongi shivers, the cold air burning goosebumps along his arms. “Seokah--”
It turns strange, fuzzydreamlike, peagreen soupfog, when yoongi finds himself hooved and furred, hoseok standing taller and broader, antlers spread to hold up the sky, i like you like this, hoseok says (doesn’t say but the words appear anyway), i like you like this. a pretty doe, all for me,
yoongi ducks his head, twitchy, long slender legs and long slender neck, and flicks his ears for hoseok to lead, not knowing how to take compliments, never knowing, shut up seokah lets just go,
and hoseok turns and runs through the trees,
yoongi right behind him,
the leaves, the leaves, the leaves, in the dawn, look prettier but far more faded, and everything is bathed baby-pink in the wintertime, yoongi skittering through the little pools and streams that litte the forest floor, happy and at ease and satisfied in the moment,
hoseok smells of hoseok and the forest, but now he smells of yoongi, too, and that makes yoongi happy, and there’s a twigsnap -- it makes yoongi happy, that hoseok smells of himself and of him,
because it shows, shows how hoseok wants to make him know he’s loved,
loved, which is something yoongi never thought about,
and yes, he’s being used as a sacrifice for samhain, but,
but nobody ever held him like hoseok, and nobody ever called his name as softly as hoseok, and nobody ever cared about him like hoseok, and surely that has to mean something, something important about after samhain,
and yoongi is a doe, and that means something too, and he can’t think about it now because he’s running,
and the rising of the sun,
and the rising of the sun, and the sweat glowing on hoseok’s flanks, and
the mud their hooves kick up, and the joy in being alive, and the pools,
and leaves and the joy in being alive,
and hoseok’s antlers hold up the world and his hooves dig roots into the ground and the rising of the sun,
and the pools,
leaves, the joy in being alive,
and the sun ticking its way across the morning sky, dawn-mid-morning, and now they’re running uphill, - well, they always were, but even moreso now, and,
we’re in tir na nog now, hoseok says, running next to yoongi now, slowing his pace, running for hours with no break, we’re in tir na nog so we can get places faster, the whole forest is half in half out, tir na nog where the pixies live,
are you a pixie, yoongi, laughing, teasing, every brush of hoseok’s body against his setting his blood on fire,
i’m a god, hoseok says, and then he’s holding Yoongi by the waist, and then they’re kissing.
“You’re insatiable,” Yoongi murmurs into his mouth, gasping at the change and at the strength of the kiss. Odd, hands and fingers and toes, after hooves and the joy of being alive. “God -- Hoseokah, I--”
“We’re not there yet,” Hoseok says. He cups Yoongi’s jaw, fond. Fond? He’s fond of Yoongi. “But I want to - I want to walk the rest of the way.”
Hoseok holds his hand when they start walking again. He’s got furs draped over his shoulders again; Yoongi is wearing the brown wax jacket. It’s mid-morning; they’ll all be awake, by now, but it’s close enough to the end of October that nobody questions when Hoseok vanishes for a few hours, taking Yoongi with him. They’ve met the spirits in the trees, long-fingered long-haired beings that speak in low rhymes and stare at Yoongi with unabashed curiosity. They’ve met the river gods, little waves that laugh like bubbles and caress their ankles. They vanish all the time.
So they walk the rest of the way.
Yoongi, naked save for the long brown jacket - he’s struck by the silence of the woods, this far up the mountain. They must be near the top, now, the air clearer and cleaner and fresher and quieter and colder. Stiller.
Yoongi shudders, not entirely from the cold. Hoseok tightens his grip on Yoongi’s hand - silent reassurance, the best kind.
“Does it disturb you now?” He asks.
Yoongi doesn’t think he can reply. The woods up here are dead; the leaves have already fallen, leaving skeleton twigs and bones in their wake, the stripped-bare bodies of still trees. Further down the mountain the orange is still ablaze.
Hoseok hums. “I think it’s strange up here. Hasn’t changed a bit.”
“Since I died.”
Yoongi clings tighter. “Oh.”
Further and further up, and the trees get sparse, more earth between each trunk. They’re older, too. Thick, gnarled and knotted, trees that are in it for the long haul. Trees that don’t care about you or I or anyone.
At the top of the mountain, there is a yew tree. Spreading, branches as thick as treetrunks, trunk wider than Yoongi’s ever seen one, a tangled briarbush of wood and fallen leaves, spreading against the sky.
Under the yew tree, there is a pile of rocks.
“That’s my cairn,” Hoseok murmurs.
Yoongi feels chilled to his bones. Hoseok’s body -- bones, Hoseok’s bones, rotted away under that pile of rocks. And nobody has been here, nobody has come. This is a -
“A sacred place,” Hoseok begins walking closer, into the cold cold wind that surrounds them. “They took me up here, and they fed me. And then they sliced me, here to here,” he drags his finger from the top of Yoongi’s chest diagonally across his abdomen, ignoring Yoongi’s shaking, “And they let my blood drip onto the roots of the tree, and they killed a hart with me. The oldest in the herd. They buried us both under the tree. Do you know, I don’t know which god it is that I was sacrificed to?”
“They started to worship me, instead, bit by bit,” Hoseok says sardonically. “Oh. Oh, look, here I come.”
Yoongi holds him so tight he feels Hoseok might break, and they watch the procession coming up the hill.
Two women, three men. One of the men is Hoseok; two of them are not. The women are carrying a jar and a knife, respectively; one of the men is empty handed, and the other is leading a blinded, eyeless hart by a halter. The yew tree stays the same - the woods around them stay exactly the same - but Yoongi feels the shifting shudder of time beneath his blood.
Hoseok - not his Hoseok, but the other one - smiles at them both. Sad.
“I remember seeing you,” Hoseok whispers to Yoongi, holding him tighter, “I remember seeing myself, and seeing you, and knowing that I was doing the right thing.”
Yoongi burrows closer into Hoseok’s embrace, but doesn’t look away. He can’t seem to bring himself to.
And the man that isn’t Hoseok makes Hoseok, the other one, stand in front of him. The woman with the jar hands him it; Hoseok takes a long, deep swig, then wipes the back of his mouth with his hand - when he gives it back to the woman, she upends it over his head, spilling amber liquid down his hair and his naked back. The man that isn’t Hoseok holds his hand out for the knife.
“It’s okay,” Hoseok says, voice strained.
The Hoseok that isn’t his stands quietly under the shade of the yew tree, hands held in front of him, head bowed. The man taps the tip of the knife against his throat; even from a distance, Yoongi can see the blood that beads there. It is sharp. “Seokah…”
The other Hoseok looks up, and he’s smiling wanly at Yoongi when the man slices his chest open.
Hoseok grips Yoongi, suddenly, very tight, and his face is wet and Yoongi is blank and empty, watching the two women drape Hoseok’s body over the base of the yew tree, face-down, the blood watering the roots. The man holding the hart holds up his rope collar; the man with the knife takes it.
Yoongi can’t breathe. Hoseok is crying very quietly into his shoulder, holding Yoongi like a lifeline.
The man with the knife slices the hart as effortlessly as he did Hoseok, and they drape that body over Hoseok’s, and then they leave.
There is a long long second of silence, during which Yoongi can’t seem to wrench his eyes away from the casual nature of it all - the knife, discarded in the grass, the two bodies slung over each other, the dripping flooding flowing of their blood mingling and pouring over the roots of the yew tree, Hoseok, his Hoseok, crying so much so quiet, and the clammy clamping stillness of the wood.
“Who -- Seokah, who builds the cairn,” Yoongi asks, his voice shaking, reaching up to wipe the fat droplets away from the corners of Hoseok’s eyes.
Hoseok doesn’t answer. It’s okay. Yoongi knows what it is, anyway.
They find the rocks on the other side of the tree, hulking grey stones the size of Yoongi’s head. He rips open all the old cuts and blisters while he’s carrying them, but neither of them say anything; they don’t disturb the bodies, the drained-out paleness, the hollowness, the blood. Hoseok places the first rock, right on top of himself, and where before he was shining, now he seems dark. His antlers, his furs. All dimmed.
Yoongi feels sacrilegious, placing the second stone.
They build it in a looping spiral, a base circle, then a loop a little closer and higher, until the bodies are mostly covered. Yoongi gets blood on his hands. He doesn’t know if it belongs to the hart, or to Hoseok, or to himself.
Neither of them speak.
The real job comes in filling in the gaps, heaving the rocks in between the spaces and then in between more spaces and more and more, and more and more and more until the sun is trekking its way down the sky again, until Yoongi is exhausted, but neither of them stop. Hoseok is shaking. Yoongi thinks he might be, too.
And then they’re finished. Hoseok doesn’t tell him. The truth just dawns on them both, as soon as the capstone is placed on the top.
The cairn is built.
Yoongi, piling rocks over the body of his lover, his lover helping him.
“That was the last step,” Hoseok says quietly, taking Yoongi’s hand. He’s almost as bloody as Yoongi himself is; covered up to the forearms, neither of them caring. “To build my own grave. That was the -- the last step.”
“Samhain is close,” Yoongi hears himself say.
“Yeah. Yeah, it is.”
Hoseok cups his cheek, his eyes very very old and very very sad. “I know as much as you. And I think… I think I hope for the same thing.”
“I think so too,” Yoongi whispers.
They walk. Hands entangle.
“Have you ever had to do that before?” Yoongi asks, once they’re out of the top of the mountain, back among the orange autumn trees. Neither of them have let go of the other, and neither of them make moves towards the doe and the hart. Walking is enough.
Hoseok nods. “Once. Once before, but - it was another person, another person I was building the cairn around. I never built myself. I was already built, my burial was already finished, the last time I had to do that.”
“Who did you have to build?”
Hoseok doesn’t answer.
And Yoongi --
Thinks he might know.
But it’s easy to forget the stony silences, when they get back down to the house and the trees and the conkers and the leaves and the squirrels and the badgers and the woods. Jeongguk greets them, climbing a tree while wearing a jacket that Yoongi is almost certain belongs to Jimin. “Hyungs! You missed dinner!”
“We’ll get something,” says Hoseok. With a start, Yoongi realises he hasn’t eaten anything all day, since the dawn beginning. It’s almost sunset, now. “Is there a ceilidh?”
“We’re doing one tonight,” Namjoon says, when they get indoors and wriggle into the kitchen. “We’ll be doing every night for three days, a fire and a dance and the rest of it -- three days, until it reaches Samhain. Want me to cook you something?”
“I won’t be going,” Hoseok says, but his eyes are on Yoongi, who feels… odd. “I won’t be going. And don’t worry about the food - I’ll get us something. I don’t think it’d be right, going to my own dance so close to Samhain.”
Namjoon claps Yoongi on the shoulder as he’s scurrying out of the room. The weird atmosphere, dragged back with them from the top of the mountain, seems to suffuse everywhere - Yoongi balls his fist in the front of Hoseok’s furs. “Seokah…”
“Yes?” The kitchen is clear, now. Hoseok leans back against the aga, opening his arms for Yoongi to fall into. On the open hob, two eggs sizzle in the pan, although Yoongi has no memory of Hoseok ever putting them on the stove. “I’m sorry if today was -- was odd. But there are three days until Samhain. Things that we would rather not do… they have to be done.”
“I know who you had to build the cairn for,” Yoongi says, voice muffled in Hoseok’s chest. “I’m not stupid.”
“I never said I didn’t want you to know.”
“But you didn’t tell me.”
Hoseok sighs; runs his fingers through Yoongi’s hair. “I don’t want it to be real.”
“Maybe it won’t be,” Yoongi offers, quietly, listening to the eggs cook themselves. There’s toast in the rack, gently burning itself.
“That’s what I’m hoping for.”
“And anyway,” Yoongi swallows, “There’s still another three days.” Three days. That can be an eternity, a forever, if you play your cards right.
That night, Yoongi lies awake, listening to the other five. Although they burn the fires in a place far, far, far away from the house, he can still hear the music; the song and dance and yelling. Hoseok’s breathing is even beside him, although Yoongi suspects he’s not asleep either.
His body glows. Glows with the fruits of their labour. They’ve done nothing tonight.
(“Saving you for Samhain,” Taehyung had said, jokingly, and then Jimin had elbowed him hard in the stomach. “What? It’s true…”)
They tell Yoongi not to go down, but he does anyway. Hoseok is the only one of the lot of them that still manages to look at him like a normal person, this close to Samhain; Jeongguk has started avoiding everyone, just in case Hoseok changes his preference and takes him instead, as though that would ever happen. Jimin has started glaring at Yoongi again. Like Yoongi can change anything.
(Like Yoongi would change anything.)
So he takes the jeep and drives down on his own. He tells Hoseok, who tells him not to go, but doesn’t try to stop him.
Yoojae is standing in the yard.
“You’re not living in your house anymore,” he says.
Yoongi shrugs. Watches the cows move around the yard, snuffling at each other, snorting at each other. Everything feels elevated, like nothing is real, like nothing matters anymore but Hoseok, high up the mountain. And Yoojae -
“Minji’s having the baby soon,” says Yoojae.
Yoongi shrugs. “That’s nice.”
“Won’t have any time for the cows, really, for a while.”
“So come back from wherever you went. We own the farm together, you ‘n me.” Yoojae stands up to his knees in the shit that Yoongi’s been scraping, and all Yoongi feels is apathy. They don’t own the farm together.
After a while, Yoojae walks back up towards his house, back towards his wife and his child, and leaves Yoongi in the shit. Yoongi scrapes with a sort of otherworldly quiet, the cows parting like the red sea to let him through. He doesn’t think. Yoojae will have to have time for the cows, after the baby is born. How long will it take Hoseok to build the cairn? When there’s only one of him, not two? Or has he built it already, at the beginning of the world, and wondered at the unfamiliar face he’s burying?
The cows snuffle and sniff. Yoongi starts up the tractor and puts a bale in. He climbs the silo barrier and rolls back the black tarpaulin. He lifts the clunking iron bars away.
Samhain is tomorrow.
Well, that came quick.
Poppy, the oldest of them all, twelve years old and waning, nudges her tongue into the palm of Yoongi’s hand when he’s pouring meal into the trough. She licks his hand, his wrist, cleaning it of the oil and the blood and the shit and the soil, replacing it with cow spit and snot. Yoongi scratches behind her ear; the cows, wary. Even they know something is going on.
Yoongi doesn’t think he knows what to do. No - no, he does know what to do. He doesn’t know what to think about how he knows what to do.
He wants Hoseok, more than anything else. Hoseok, any way Hoseok will have him. And that -
Should be more concerning than it is.
“I’m going away now,” he says when he jumps the gate, and he’s smiling, “And I may be some time.”
The cows appreciate the joke just as much as anyone else would. Yoongi misses them, maybe, more than he misses anything else during the month he’s been staying up the mountain. No - no, he does, he definitely misses them more than anything else.
Yoongi leaves Jimin’s jeep where it is, and troops over the fields towards his house. The mud sucks his boots into the ground, making gaping crackacrack noises any time he sets his foot down. The river looks the same. The trees look the same. None of them will really miss him, except maybe the cows, and Jae can safely take care of them until Yoojae gets his act together.
Maybe that’s really why he came.
His house is flooded with post of the mass-produced variety; bills and catalogs and things, which he steps gingerly over as he lets himself into the house, searching for the little box of paper. His novel. Sitting where it’s been sitting for years, on his bedside cabinet.
He piles them up, the letters and the bills and the catalogs, and sets a fire underneath them, watching the paper crinkle up and brown. Then, leaf by leaf, sheet by sheet, he drops his novel into the fire. Ash flies into the air. Into his hair, into his eyes, but he doesn’t move. Sheet by sheet, burning his life’s work.
Disturbingly easy. Burning it all outside his shutterclosed hush of a house, under the creeping twigpile trees.
It begins to rain.
Yoongi walks back across the fields, feeling strangely whole, at ease. If not happy, then satisfied.
He says goodbye to the cows, and then he gets into Jimin’s jeep, and smooths down the lapels of the brown wax jacket, and drives away, back up the mountain.
And that’s that.
On October thirty-first, after a long day of lying in bed with Hoseok, neither of them talking, neither of them sleeping, Yoongi suffers through the longest meal of his life.
Seokjin cooks a roast. Carrots and parsnips, breaded stuffing, a heavy cut of beef, a thick oniony gravy, soily boiled potatoes. A huge silver pot of something sits bubbling on the aga; nobody looks at it. Nobody says anything at all.
Yoongi sits beside Hoseok. When he meets Jimin’s eye, he’s surprised at the contrition he sees there. Taehyung is trembling, staring at his lap. Jeongguk is clutching Jimin’s hand under the table, it’s obvious to see, and he’s not looking at anyone. Namjoon is chewing his lip. Seokjin looks horrified, like someone’s just shown him a mashed-up streak of roadkill, instead of a trussed-up roast.
“Tonight, the food for our ancestors…” Seokjin falters in the prayer. “The food for our ancestors is accepted.”
Everyone is silent while they eat. Hoseok is glowing steadily, now, even though all he and Yoongi have done is lain beside each other. He glows, glows golden-orange about his cheeks and his antlers and his heavy brown eyes, glowing through his furs and leathers. Underneath the table, Hoseok has his foot hooked around Yoongi’s ankle, and it’s only that warm touch that stops Yoongi from feeling like he’s floating away - like an anchor. This is Samhain.
Jeongguk, down one side, keeps shifting while he eats, and every so often he wipes his eyes with the flat of his palm. Jimin’s hand shifts under the table, moving up and down Jeongguk’s thigh, a mere innocent comfort.
And nobody says a word.
The food is good, good food, thick and heavy and filling where it sits in Yoongi’s stomach. He takes slices of beef from the joint in the centre of the table; pours gravy from the boat all over it; takes spoonfuls of stuffing with steady hands.
Taehyung has no such luck. His hands are shaking too much to peel his potatoes. Wordlessly, Seokjin takes it out of Taehyung’s hands, peeling it gently, the skin falling in an endless earthy spiral onto the clean plate.
Taehyung mouths a thank-you.
Namjoon doesn’t eat much. He picks at his slice of the roast, picks at his stuffing, but mostly he nibbles at the boiled carrots and parsnips, his fork flecked with red from his worry-bloodied lip. He drinks more than he eats, downing glass after glass of water, nervous bobbing in his throat, and there’s wariness in his eyes and his looks and his shoulders, in the slump of them.
Definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, the longest meal of Yoongi’s life.
After everyone has eaten, cutlery set to twenty-five past five, the plates are collected. Everyone save Yoongi and Hoseok stands to put their things away - Jeongguk takes Yoongi’s plate, Namjoon, Hoseok’s.
Then they drink.
The silver pot on the hob turns out to be a repurposed soup tureen, full of mulled spice wine. Seokjin murmurs a blessing over it, then dips mugs in by their handles, chipped and odd. Namjoon passes them out, and has to help Taehyung hold his mug to his lips.
The wine’s taste is hidden by how hot it is, but nobody else is stopping to blow on it, so Yoongi doesn’t either. Hoseok is holding him, foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee, thigh-to-thigh, drinking the wine, they’re all drinking like the world mightn’t end tonight. At the windows, beckoned on by the broadening of the world on Samhain, the spirits and sluagh and walking trees and ghosts all press against the panes of glass, put off only by the stunning glow of Hoseok’s body.
They drink until the tureen is empty. Glass after glass after glass, and the wine never gets any cooler. Yoongi’s head doesn’t get any fuzzier. Everything is seen, everything is felt in the same horrifying clarity.
The doe mask sits on his bed. Hoseok holds his hand while they walk to put it on.
Yoongi doesn’t say that he’s scared. Really, he isn’t. He thought he might be. He isn’t.
Hoseok holds his hand, and they walk out of the room again.
The procession through the spirits is sombre. Hoseok leads, and because Hoseok is holding Yoongi’s hand, that means Yoongi is leading too. The rest of them trail one at a time behind them, masked, through the hissing howling burning freezing terrifying calling of the spirits of Samhain. They’re trying to get in. Trying to get in through the forest, and only Hoseok, glowing, is stopping them. They’re trying to get in.
Yoongi feels his mask slipping, but he doesn’t bring his hand up to adjust it. He’s cold - deathly cold.
The procession winds through the trees, along the side of the mountain, and the forest looms. They all stay limbed and human, clumsy and masked, and silent, quiet, still.
The fire is already burning.
It seems to get closer.
Maybe it is - maybe it’s coming to meet them. Around the edges of the clearing, the spirits are lingering, howling and screaming, forming tempting shapes, sex and blood and deepest darkest desires, trying to get one of them to break, but nobody will. JiminJeonggukNamjoonSeokjinYoongi Hoseok, Hoseok, and none of them give the spirits more than a glance.
The fire is burning. Peagreen soupsmoke pours across the forest clearing, although where it comes from, Yoongi isn’t sure.
Hoseok kisses him, then, in front of the spirits and the fire and the masked watches. Hoseok kisses him like a groom kisses his bride, full of too much happiness for there to be any force behind the kiss, full of too much meaning for the kiss to be anything but a symbol. Yoongi holds Hoseok tighter, closer.
“Wait ‘til midnight, love,” Hoseok tells him, and walks into the centre of the fire.
The fire -
The fire licks up his legs, first, and his head is thrown back in ecstasy, his arms flung wide. The fire licks and kisses up him like a long-lost lover, claiming him whole, and he’s opening his mouth and yelling, and maybe it’s in pain and maybe it’s in joy. For his own sake, Yoongi hopes it’s the latter. His blood boils, running bubbling popping through the veins and pouring out the ends of his fingers, his nose, his eyes, and then his bones are cracking and his antlers are turning black, and they drip and drop and fall into the ashy fire, one-two, and then he’s burning. His body, his skin, turns to ashes.
And then Hoseok is raining down on them all - Hoseok is raining on them all, his skin and his furs and his antlers and his bones, raining, raining. Yoongi holds up his hands and catches a palmful of Hoseok. It’s wet.
(He will later realise that that’s because he’s crying.)
“And now the wake begins,” Namjoon yells, and Yoongi’s kneeling in the bracken and crying, and Jeongguk screams and Taehyung pulls the fiddle out of the fire, and the dance begins.
the Dance --
but not like they’ve done it before --
the dance --
Yoongi, yoongi, Yoongi, yoongi, flashing back and forth between them, the earth spinning beneath his feet. Taehyung, taehyung, playing the fiddle with such intensity that his fingers are on fire. jeongguk and jimin, dancing, jeongguk sobbing, seokjin flinging his arms wide and snatching the flute from out of the flames.
the wake lasts long into the night. he remembers very little of it. in broken snatches, he remembers taehyung hugging him so tight it hurts, and he remembers jeongguk crying into his shoulder, and he remembers jimin apologising over and over and over like a broken record.
he remembers the smell of burning hoseok. it doesn’t smell bad. it smells fresh, of the forest. all around them, while they’re grimly making merry, the ghoulish twisted faces of the spirits gnarl and snarl at them.
he remembers picking himself off the forest floor and counting his limbs. one, two arms. one, two legs. it’s almost a disappointment.
“i may be some time,” he echoes himself into the air, drunk on the music and the time, and he looks up and sees the moon hanging directly overhead.
wait ‘til midnight, love.
well, yoongi’s done his waiting.
the fire doesn’t burn. not that yoongi really expected it to. it’s like a friendly dog, really, licking hot and a little wet up his legs, easily burning away the denim of his jeans and the cotton of his t-shirt. he laughs, lifting up his hands, watching the sparks twirl into the black sky above him.
when his blood boils, it tickles. when his bones crack and break, it stings a little, but in a fresh way, like the brush of skin against nettles in summer. when yoongi sees his skin falling into ashes - when he feels his hair burning away, and when his eyes bubble and boil and pop, he just feels free.
when his blood burns its way out his skin, and feeds the fire, he shouts with happiness. when his fingers melt and his bones drop to the fire, he feels free. when he knows his body is shattering, he feels free.
he lets himself burn and feels no regret - just joy. the joy of being alive.
the joy. just joy.
and then --
“hello, love,” hoseok says softly.
yoongi rushes into his arms, held open for him. hoseok kisses his forehead. neither of them are in any particular hurry to get started, after all, now that they’re here in the timelessness of the open wood. it is samhain, but in tir na nog, (or wherever they are) they have all the time in the world.
“do you know what happens afterwards?”
“i guess i do,” yoongi says. they move, without moving, lying on the forest floor, bracken and leaves sticky on bare skin, but not irritating. “i die.”
“i’ll try to stop it from happening,” hoseok murmurs, leaning up, lingering on a kiss at yoongi’s lips. “i’ll try.”
“you built my cairn,” yoongi says. “i don’t think you can stop it from happening.”
hoseok looks pained. “can we -- can we pretend? i know it’s selfish, but i want to pretend we have the chance. please, yoongiyah.”
“of course,” yoongi says, arching his neck for hoseok to kiss down it, for hoseok to leave his mark in a myriad of bruises and sucked-pink kisses. “of course we can, seokah.”
once hoseok gets the invitation, he’s growling low in his throat and burning, kissing yoongi’s lips, his hands running over yoongi’s body like he wants to map it out before it’s too late. a thigh, in between yoongi’s legs. a hand, thumbing yoongi’s nipple. brown eyes, fascinated by the whimper that draws from between yoongi’s lips. “aren’t you going to worship me?”
“fu-fu-” yoongi fumbles around in the leaves, grasping hoseok’s forearms, “yeah, yeah, of course -- you’re fucking glorious, seokah--”
“better,” hoseok kisses him again, pressing his thigh down on yoongi’s half-hard cock. “slow down -- all the time in the world.”
yoongi sighs, and relaxes, and lets go.
hoseok is glowing glowing bright, sucking bites and marks down yoongi’s body, and almost without his permission, yoongi’s mouth has run away from him, babbling i love you and i worship you and you’re the god of the woods, ranting and raving wildly as hoseok sucks his nipple, as hoseok rubs his fingers in circles along the sensitive skin of yoongi’s inner thigh.
“i’m the god of the woods,” hoseok is working his way down yoongi’s body, ignoring his cock in favour of biting red all over his chest to his stomach to his thighs, revelling in the noises they bring from yoongi’s lips. “as the god of the woods, i deserve the best sacrifice--”
“nngh--” yoongi fights the urge to kick out, to wriggle away from hoseok’s mouth on the hypersensitive juncture between the swell of his ass and his thigh -
“the best,” hoseok sounds like he’s teasing him, licking and sucking and nipping and biting ever-closer to yoongi’s rim, but not touching anything really, “the best. god, yoongiyah, the spirits won’t come near us for a thousand years, a thousand years --”
yoongi arches his hips. “you’re the -- god, god of the woods, touch me, touch me,” and nothing is shameful with hoseok, and when hoseok laughs, yoongi knows it’s because of the golden glow filling his veins.
hoseok’s mouth on his cock is a surprise, but not as surprising as the press of hoseok’s cock against his rim.
oh, god. oh -- god, and it could be a curse, or it could be a prayer. “oh, god--!”
yoongi’s beginning to see double, two hoseoks, and he’s beginning to see himself twice over too, like he’s seeing from hoseok’s eyes. hoseok doesn’t ask if he can take it. hoseok, hoseok moaning and sighing and asking yoongi to praise him. and worship him. and beg.
“please,” yoongi tips his head back to see the sky, purple with the onset of autumn, “please, fuck hoseok please please, please, please fuck me, please -- lemme, i worship you--”
“hush,” hoseok says when he kisses yoongi hot. “hush--”
yoongi whines as hoseok’s hand leaves his cock, the world spinning in his vision, everything almost black but for the glowing orange stag in the centre of the earth. holding up the sky.
hoseok strokes his cheek, tenderly -
and then he’s fucking yoongi. fucking hard and proper and deep, his hands on yoongi’s hips, yoongi himself babbling and pouring out all the praise and worship in the planet, all he can manage --
“god, fuck hoseok--”
“the prettiest doe in the world--”
“please, please --”
“so goddamn -- so fucking lucky--”
yoongi feels the tears trickling down his cheeks, feels the orgasm building in his stomach, feels his whole body going limp, beginning to give up. “hoseok--”
“i think i love you,” yoongi says, and the last thing he feels is the force of hoseok, he and hoseok coming together in the quiet quiet forest, the hot wetness dripping down his thighs, and the sun beginning to rise as samhain comes to an end.
hoseok carries the body up the mountain. yoongi is light in his arms. he feels powerful, buzzing, sensitive - he hasn’t bothered with clothes again.
he leaves yoongi beside his own cairn, and watches himself from a thousand years ago setting stone after stone over the pale skin, the closed eyes, the perfect parted lips.
then he leaves, and goes down to the fire.
it’s still burning, although the worshippers are gone. hoseok sits, cross-legged, eyes closed, and does what he hasn’t done in a hundred centuries.
hours pass. days, maybe. months. hoseok sits where he is.
all the leaves have fallen. when the frost comes, he feels a little cold, although only a little. when the spring comes, and the trees above him turn green with new bloom buds, he smiles at them, but otherwise ignores them completely. when it’s hot, and the sweat forms on his brow, he doesn’t move his hands to wipe it away.
the fire is still burning.
when the leaves start to brown and orange, the fire begins to climb.
when the spirits come to clamour, hoseok hardly uses any of his strength to dispel them.
the ashes spiral.
limbs form first, bones, then layered muscle and fibre and tendon, then boiling blood pouring itself over red bodies, then skin to hold it all in. doe eyes, and fawn-fur ears.
yoongi climbs out of the fire, as graceful and delicate as a newborn fawn. he closes his eyes when hoseok kisses him. “hello, seokah.”
hoseok strokes the ears, the spotted-white freckles, the black hair. “you look much the same.”
“i guess i do.”
and then they’re running.
Over the world, the forest looms, and children are born and cows are sold, and up in the mountain a doe and a hart lead a herd of mismatch animals. As time passes, neither of them seem to get old. As time passes, they just run. Run right into the sunset.