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Yoongi wishes he’d taken his grandmother’s warnings more seriously about open windows and the nighttime, because when he wakes up that morning his room is an absolute disaster. Not to mention, so freezing cold that he feels like his feet are going to fall off as soon as they touch the floor.

A massive windstorm must’ve come through last night, Yoongi decides after he pulls on some socks. They’re common in the fall, and now that Chuseok is over and any lingering breath of summer has been exhaled, Yoongi has fully prepared himself for the inevitability of winter. 

Except, he thinks crossly, remembering to close my goddamn window.

Every single paper on his desk is now somewhere on the floor, and the clothes that were hanging on his closet door have fallen. Books lie open, their pages ruffled, and the pictures on his wall have tilted.

His roommate takes that exact moment to burst into Yoongi’s room. There’s a toothbrush in his mouth, but he’s also apparantly trying to eat breakfast at the same time, if the bowl in his hand is any clue. Kim Namjoon is only one bizarre occupant in this incredibly bizarre city, Yoongi has found. His grandmother was the same way—a little odd, a little charming, and completely out of her fucking mind. Close to her death, she kept rambling on about spirits and guiding lights and whatnot; the doctors said it was probably her schizophrenia (which she’d developed after she’d given birth to Yoongi’s dad) finally getting the best of her as the rest of her body slowly shut down.

“You left your window open, hyung,” Namjoon states, and Yoongi turns to him with a flat look.

“Thank you for that observation, Joon-ah,” he deadpans, bending down to shuffle some papers back in order.

Namjoon spits into the bowl, and Yoongi makes a disgusted face. “What I mean,” Namjoon says patiently, “is that you always remember to close your window at night. Everybody remembers to close their windows at night.”

“Did you just fucking spit into your breakfast?” Yoongi asks, appalled.

“It’s empty,” Namjoon says, showing him the bowl. “The pipes are busted so we don’t have water.”

“Again?” Yoongi complains. “Are you saying there’s no coffee?”

Namjoon shrugs. “I drink tea.”

“Of course you do,” Yoongi sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. Standing in the middle of his messy room on a freezing cold Friday morning is not the way he wanted to start his day. If he’s gonna be honest, it’s stressing him the fuck out and he really wishes he’d never even woken up.

“--but that’s the funny thing,” Namjoon is saying, still talking about windows and how a whole population of nearly one-fucking-million always close them at night. “My window was open too, and I could’ve sworn I closed it—”

“You were also stoned last night,” Yoongi points out, straightening out his pictures and putting his clothes back on their hangers. Namjoon’s brow wrinkles for a moment, before he nods.

“I was,” he agrees, “but I was coherent. I remember talking to you about the difference between knowing something, and believing in it—”

“Right, right,” Yoongi says impatiently, “and how all the ahjummas seem to know very little about what they believe in and how you wanted to write your stupid thesis about how they still hang things in their doorway and sprinkle sugar by the stairs.”

“So I wasn’t that stoned,” Namjoon concedes thoughtfully. “And I know I closed my window.”

“Namjoon, this isn’t a mystery novel,” Yoongi says, exasperated. “It’s fine. You know better than I do about the windstorms that happen in the fall.”

Namjoon seems to pick up on the actual irritation in Yoongi’s voice because he doesn’t push it any further. Instead he asks if Yoongi can give him a ride to the school because Namjoon’s calculus class and Yoongi’s photography class start at the same time on Fridays.

Yoongi makes Namjoon help him clean up his room in exchange, but then feels bad and buys Namjoon a flowery-looking tea that tastes like dirt. Namjoon nearly spills it on himself fifteen minutes later when their friend Jackson jumps out from behind a tree as they walk onto the campus.

“Jesus Christ,” Namjoon says, holding the dripping cup away from his body. “That was almost a disaster.”

Jackson is doubled over with laughter, despite it not really being that funny. Yoongi waits for him to straighten up before giving him an annoyed look. “Were you just waiting behind that fucking tree? How’d you even know we’d come this way?”

Jackson shrugs, wiping his watering eyes. “I dunno. I just had a feeling. What’d you want me to say? That the birds whispered it or whatever?” He bursts into laughter again, and Namjoon glares.

“Okay, just because you think everyone that’s grown up here is crazy—”

“That’s ‘cause they are,” Jackson hoots, and Yoongi actually has to agree with him. There’s always been a different light in the locals’ eyes, like they see more of a bigger picture. Yoongi can’t quite put his finger on it. Not that he particularly cares—his grandmother looked at him like that sometimes, and look where she ended up.

He ignores the squeeze of grief and turns back to the conversation. Jackson’s talking about the windstorm last night—he’d been walking home when it’d hit and apparently, it was unlike anything he’d ever seen.

“Dude, it almost blew me over,” Jackson exclaims, and demonstrates with a lot of flailing limbs. “It took off a couple signs, too. It was crazy. Like the actual wind was pissed, or whatever. Do you ever get that feeling? That, like, the weather is extra moody here?”

“I have to get to class,” Yoongi cuts in as Namjoon opens his mouth. “You guys can keep talking about magic weather all you want, but I don’t want to be late.” He's tired of talking about magic; it’s always reminded him of his grandmother and her eclectic ways, but now it also dredges up painful memories.

“Hey,” Jackson calls dryly as Yoongi starts to speed-walk away from the both of them, “why are you in such a hurry? Don’t you just sleep through all your classes?”

“Fuck you,” Yoongi returns over his shoulder. Jackson’s cacophonous laugh starts up again and Namjoon says something about going out tonight.

Yoongi decisively ignores them both, forcing his mind away from them and focusing on how nice of a day it is. The wind last night had taken the last of the leaves off of the trees, so the sidewalk's carpeted in red, yellow, and orange. There’s a faint breeze that still carries the tang of the ocean, which, on a clear day, Yoongi can see from the top of the hill with the shrine on it. The sun warms his cheeks as he walks, filtering through sparse white clouds.

He’s almost late when he gets to class, the professor setting up her presentation just as Yoongi slides into his seat.

“I meant to return your project analyses today,” she admits, “but it seems I only closed my screen door last night, not the actual one. Everything got mixed up. But I promise I’ll have them back by Monday!”

Yoongi blinks. That’s three people, including himself, who have complained about messy rooms as a result of the windstorm. What kind of freaky coincidence was that?

The professor goes to turn down the lights, and the classroom is suddenly dim. “Huh,” the professor says, looking out the window. “Clouds are moving fast today. I hope everyone gets home dry.”

She’s right, Yoongi thinks, bending to look at the sky. What was a sunny, near-cloudless day five minutes ago is now dark and overcast, the clouds grey and heavy with rain.

Yoongi sighs, propping his head on his chin. Now he’s really got no chance of staying awake, so he doesn’t even bother fighting his heavy eyelids. The professor, despite being his favorite teacher of his favorite class, can’t keep his attention today.

Before she even finishes her introduction, he’s asleep.

 


 

When he wakes up, it’s raining.

Actually, correction. It’s fucking pouring. A torrential downpour. Dumping buckets. Whatever. Either way, he’s got a jacket on and no umbrella and what feels like ten miles to walk to get back to his car, still parked in the coffee shop lot.

He checks his bank account quickly and decides he can afford to take a cab just this once. He calls one, typing in his current address and destination. A few minutes later, a nondescript Hyundai pulls up to the curb and Yoongi makes a break for it, sprinting from the doorway of the Arts and Science building to the street.

He all but dives into the car, slamming the door behind him. His jeans are wet enough that they’re going to be uncomfortable, and he can feel his hair dripping down his neck. Great.

The driver turns around to peer at him. It’s a guy his age, hair dyed bright red and an expression that Yoongi can’t decide is amusement or curiosity pulling at the corners of his mouth.

“You’re going to the residential apartments, yeah?” The driver asks, tapping his phone.

“Right,” Yoongi mutters, trying to shake the water out of his eyes. “Of all days for it to rain, why today?”

The driver laughs. “He’s in a really bad mood right now,” he says, and Yoongi rubs at his ears, sure he heard him wrong.

“What’d you just say?” He asks, confused.

The driver gives him a mischievous smile. “I said that the weather’s putting everyone in a bad mood. I mean, you look pretty grumpy.”

“I’m soaking wet,” Yoongi points out. “Of course I’m grumpy.”

The driver just hums noncommittally, but the smile stays on his face. There’s silence for a moment as they make their way back towards the apartment. Yoongi suddenly notices how bizarre the interior of the car is—there’s an elephant statue hanging from the rearview mirror, and a bag of slightly damp mail in the passenger seat where an actual broom is wedged between the armrest and the window. The glove compartment is hanging open, and Yoongi can see a whole assortment of strange items—tea, silver rings, bags full of seeds, a spiky-looking plant, and, for whatever reason, a handful of toothbrushes.

The driver sees him eyeing the glove compartment, and the same knowing smile is back. “You interested in buying something?”

Yoongi stares. “You sell that?”

“Sure,” the driver says, shrugging. “It’s just seeds and stuff. I’m moving shop right now, but the rain came a bit unexpectedly so I had to cram it all in my car.”

Yoongi decides not to mention the mail—most of seems fake anyway, with weird wax seals and no stamps—or the broom.

“Here we are,” the driver says, pulling up in front of Yoongi’s apartment. “Hey, thanks for talking to me. Not many ever do.”

Yoongi doesn’t really know what to say to that, so he settles for gathering his things and preparing to open the door.

“The rain will let up in about fifteen minutes or so,” the driver tells him. Yoongi gives him a flat look.

“Are you a meteorologist on the side, too?” Yoongi asks dubiously, and the driver chuckles.

“Let’s just say I’m good friends with the cause of these clouds,” the driver says.

“Right,” Yoongi says sarcastically, opening the door. “Tell Mother Nature I say hi, then.”

The look in the driver’s eyes is so unnerving that it throws Yoongi off a little. He looks like he know just a little bit too much, like he sees something that Yoongi doesn’t and finds it hilarious.

Yoongi closes the door behind him and the car pulls away. People in this fucking place, Yoongi thinks, not for the first time today. Even though this city is tiny compared to Seoul, or even Busan, it’s got more weirdos in one place than anywhere Yoongi has visited. And he’s been to some pretty wacky places.

He shoves into his apartment, starting to shiver now. He’s glad he only has one class on Friday. Normally he’d take the afternoon to go take pictures, but today, with the rain pounding on the windows (which, this time, he’d remembered to close) all he feels like doing is taking another nap. Namjoon wouldn’t be done until three or so, and none of Yoongi’s friends have texted to ask if he wants to do anything, so…nap it is.

His bedroom is still a bit of a mess, so it takes him a little while to find his headphones. He could’ve sworn he put them in his desk drawer—which, thank god, he did. They’re tucked next to the little brown notebook that belonged to his grandmother, the only thing that she’d left him (besides money) in her will. It was filled with all her weird habits and the little things she said, and nursery rhymes in English.

Yoongi hadn’t opened it since the day he received it. Even looking at it hurt, pulling up things he desperately tries to keep buried. He remembers his grandma’s face, so wrinkled her eyes disappeared when she smiled, the way her mouth folded neatly over the accent in her words, the way she knew what Yoongi was worrying about with a simple look. She’d taken such good care of him, the grandson of a child that barely spoke to her. The custody battle following his parent’s divorce meant Yoongi finishing high school here and then deciding to stay when his grandmother’s health worsened.

Tears sting his eyes and he slams the drawer shut, the innocuous brown book disappearing from sight.

He goes back to the couch, tossing his phone down on the cushions and then settling down next to it. He takes a second to get comfortable—there’s something poking his ass and the ratty pillow by the armrest smells like instant noodles and Namjoon’s stupid flowery tea, both of which have been spilled at least twice on this exact couch. He reaches under him and discovers the source of the ass discomfort—it’s a USB mouse that Namjoon has been missing for the last month.

It’s a miracle, Yoongi thinks grumpily, finally getting comfortable, that Namjoon manages to keep track of things that aren’t taped to him.

He scrolls through his music and picks a playlist of American R&B, even though his English isn’t near good enough to understand what they’re saying. He enjoys the vocals and the familiar hitch of the instruments, at that’s really all that matters in Yoongi’s book.

He falls asleep just as the rain stops—fifteen minutes later, just as the driver had promised.

 


 

He wakes up to people saying his name. 

“Fuck off,” he mutters, not even bothering to check who it is. It’s more than one person, for sure—he can pick out Namjoon’s voice, and that’s definitely Jackson’s donkey laugh, which means the third voice has to be—

“Yugyeom,” Jackson calls, “didn’t Yoongi say he’d fillet you if you ever stepped foot in this house again?”

They haven’t seen him yet, because the back of the couch is blocking their view. Yoongi is torn between wanting to sit up and chew Kim Yugyeom out—because he’s most definitely not allowed back here, not after the Rice Cooker Incident—and lying there and keeping quiet in hopes that they’ll just leave him alone.

Something in the kitchen shatters, and Yoongi sits up. He knows the expression on his face is cold enough to stop anyone dead in their tracks.

Yugyeom’s cheeks drain of color when he catches sight of Yoongi. “Hyung,” he squeaks. “Hi. I, um, didn’t know you were there.”

Behind him, Jackson snickers.

“Well, now you do,” Yoongi replies flatly. “And I swear to god, Kim Yugyeom, if you’ve broken another kitchen appliance—“

“Hyung, it’s okay,” Namjoon says hurriedly, stepping in before Yoongi does something like vault over the back of the couch and toss Yugyeom out of the window. “It was me. I knocked one of my plants off the windowsill.”

Yoongi narrows his eyes at Namjoon, but the plant in question is in pieces on the ground.

“Did we wake you up?” Jackson asks, still laughing. Yoongi shoots him an irritated glare that he really can’t help—he’s the worst when he wakes up. Luckily, Jackson and Namjoon both know this, and don’t take it personally.

He doesn’t deserve his friends. If he had to be friends with himself, he would’ve left a long time ago.

Yoongi stretches, a couple vertebrae in his back popping. “I wasn’t asleep for that long, was I?”

“Hyung, it’s nearly seven,” Namjoon informs him, smiling a little bit.

“Don’t laugh at me,” Yoongi says, swinging himself off the couch. He doesn’t miss the way Yugyeom flinches. Good. Kid’s got common sense. Yoongi is not above physical violence. Kitchenware is expensive, okay? And really fucking hard to replace when it's vomited in.

“I’m not laughing—“

“I think it’s hilarious,” Jackson cuts in. “I can’t believe you woke up, slept through class, came home, and slept for another seven hours.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, brushing past Jackson and coming to stand in the kitchen next to Yugyeom. He turns to the younger boy. “I won’t hurt you,” he starts, and Yugyeom starts to relax, “but if you fuck anything up and I have to pay for it, I will actually hunt you down.”

Yugyeom nods and bows, looking terrified. He scampers off to go use the bathroom, and Namjoon and Jackson have the tact to at least wait until the door closes before they burst into laughter.

“If only he knew,” Jackson says breathlessly, smile so wide Yoongi’s afraid his face’ll break in half, “that you’re really just a massive softie inside. It’s all just a show.”

“Keep talking, Wang, and I’ll kick you out too,” Yoongi grumbles, but something inside of him warms at the sight of his friends, grinning and laughing like there’s no care in the world. Even if it’s at his expense.

“Hyung, are you going to cook?” Namjoon asks curiously as Yoongi pokes through the cabinets.

“I’m looking to see if you ate the rest of the popcorn,” Yoongi replies, head in their small pantry. It’s depressingly bare, with a couple bags of chips in a flavor nobody likes and an unopened bottle of soy sauce the only thing on the shelves. “I want to finish the rest of Star Wars tonight.”

“Nuh-uh,” Jackson says, and Yoongi’s stomach sinks when he sees the smile on his face. It’s one that spells regret and too many shots and something that Yoongi really really does not want to do.

“Absolutely not,” Yoongi declares resolutely.

“You didn’t even know what we were gonna—“ Jackson complains, but Yoongi gives him a look that says cut the bullshit. Jackson amends his statement, looking a little guilty, “okay, so maybe we were going to bodily force you out of the house to come clubbing—“

“No.”

“Hyung, come on,” Namjoon steps in, always the peacemaker. “I’m worried about you. It’s been six, seven months since you last really got out, hyung. You’ll go crazy.”

“This place already beat me to that,” Yoongi mutters, thinking back on the taxi driver earlier. Namjoon’s got a pleading look on his face that makes Yoongi feel a little bad—it’s not Namjoon’s  fault that Yoongi’s grandmother died and left him in a mood has refused to lift for over half a year now. it’s not Namjoon’s fault that all Yoongi wants to do is sleep and feel bad for himself, and it’s certainly not Namjoon’s fault for Yoongi’s snappishness and his unwillingness to anything that requires emotional or physical effort of any kind.

“Please, Yoongi?” Namjoon asks softly, and Yoongi knows he really is worried—knows that Jackson’s worried too. Again, see: he doesn’t deserve his friends. Yoongi doesn’t even admonish Namjoon for dropping the honorific.

“Okay, fine,” Yoongi huffs, and as Jackson turns to high-five Namjoon, he adds, “but I’m only staying for one hour max, and I’m not drinking. And no, Jackson, you don’t get to pick out my clothes or do my makeup. I’m going in this.”

“Hyung, you’re wearing sweatpants—“

“I’m. Going. In. This,” Yoongi emphasizes, ignoring the way Jackson rolls his eyes. “And that’s that.”

 


 

That, it turns out, is not that. Two hours later they’re full of blackbean noodles and Jackson’s rifling through his closet for something that isn’t athletic wear or clothes Yoongi wore in high school. Yoongi’s got on a pair of jeans—the skinny kind, for fuck’s sake—with a bunch of useless rips in the knees. Yugyeom, much more comfortable now that he knows his life is safe, is curled up on Yoongi’s bed, swiping through dating apps and complaining.

“Yugyeom, you’re bi,” Jackson says, voice muffled by the clothes. “How is that you’re always complaining about getting laid?”

“Two times zero is still zero, hyung,” Yugyeom says sadly. Namjoon meets Yoongi’s eyes in the mirror where he’s putting in new contacts and they share a dry smile.

Aha,” Jackson says, emerging victorious. He’s holding a dark grey t-shirt that’s more holes than cloth. “This is perfect.”

“I’m going to freeze to death,” Yoongi points out, “when I leave after ten minutes.”

Instead of getting irritated like Yoongi hoped, Jackson holds up a leather jacket that’s covered in a fine layer of dust. “That’s why you’ll wear this.

Yoongi turns bright red. “Jackson, where’d you even find that—“

“Wow, leather,” Yugyeom says, impressed. “Damn, hyung, you used to have style.” He says the last word in English, like it somehow makes the comment better.

“I can’t wear that,” Yoongi despairs. “I’ll look like an idiot.”

“You will not,” Jackson states firmly, shoving the clothes into Yoongi’s arms. “You were hiding a real leather jacket in your closet that’s still got the tags attached. You’re wearing it.”

This has got to be some kind of sick karma, Yoongi thinks as he tugs off his shirt in the safety of the bathroom. He meets his reflection’s eyes in the mirror, too skinny and too pale.

“What,” he asks it, glaring a little. It doesn’t reply, obviously. It’s a reflection.

He turns away sharply, shrugging into the shirt and jacket Jackson had given him. He smooths his hands down his front self-consciously, fingers getting caught in the holes.

“I just have to stay for fifteen minutes,” Yoongi says to himself, and sticks himself with something when he puts his hands into the pockets of his jeans. They’re a pair of tiny silver hoops, a gift from his grandmother. He’d thought they were gone—and his ears have probably closed up.

He starts to set them down on the sink, but hesitates. He can remember his grandmother’s face when she’d pressed them into his hands. Silver, for pure thoughts and for guarding, she’d said. Wear them well.

Yoongi exits the bathroom and Jackson immediately applauds. “Hell yeah,” he shouts. “Nice earrings, too. You look great.”

“Don’t feel so great,” Yoongi mutters, but Jackson’s already moving on to Yugyeom, who’s wielding a stick of eyeliner like a weapon Yoongi intends to keep very far away from him. Namjoon, however, hears him, and claps him gently on the shoulder.

“Thanks for doing this,” he says quietly. “I know you don’t really want to.”

Yoongi watches Yugyeom carefully line the lower part of Jackson’s eye. “Not really, no. But…you’ve put up with this for so long that I think I owe you.”

“I’m your friend,” Namjoon says with a ferocity that surprises the both of them. “I’m not putting up with you. I want to have you around. But I appreciate it anyway.”

“Hey,” Jackson whines when Yugyeom gets a little too close to his eye. “Hey, Yugyeom, are you trying to blind me or what?”

“Sorry hyung,” Yugyeom chirps, not sounding sorry at all. “There, all done.”

Jackson looks like he’s stepped off a magazine cover. The idiot’s all smug about it too, because he knows it.

“Namjoon-hyung?” Yugyeom offers.

“No thanks,” Namjoon replies. “It’s nine now. Do we wanna go or do we wanna get drinks first?”

“Hmm,” Jackson debates, flopping backwards on Yoongi’s bed. Yugyeom scrambles away with a squawk. “I say we let Yoongi-hyung pick.”

They all turn to him, expectant.

“No bars,” Yoongi says immediately, and rolls his eyes at Jackson’s disappointment. What was he expecting Yoongi to say? Oh, sure, let’s go get buzzed before we get drunk so I can make a maximum fool of myself! “If you guys knew I was gonna say that, why’d you even bother asking?”

“It’s polite,” Namjoon offers.

“I don’t think Yoongi-hyung knows what that means,” Jackson muses sarcastically, dodging the dirty shirt Yoongi chucks in his direction.

Yugyeom slides off the bed, brushing himself off. “So, to the club we go?”

Jackson sighs dramatically. “Fine. To the club we go.”

They filter out of Yoongi’s room—after Yoongi, out of habit, checks the windows to make sure they’re closed. Namjoon turns off the lights, closing the door behind him and locking it. They take the elevator down as Jackson calls a cab. 

 

The ahjumma who lives on the first floor is out on the porch, filling the small bowl on the railing with fresh milk. 

“Hello, Mrs. Do,” Namjoon says respectfully, bowing to her. Yoongi bows as well. Mrs. Do gives them both a fond smile. 

“You boys have always been so polite,” Mrs. Do says, eyes twinkling. No wonder they like you.” 

Yoongi looks at her curiously, but Namjoon gives her an agreeing smile. I think they got in our rooms last night. We left the windows open.” 

The smile on Mrs. Do’s face fades. She glances around surreptitously, and beckons them all closer. I don’t think,” she starts, speaking lowly, that those were them. I always lock my windows, you know, but when I woke up my house was a mess.” 

Namjoon and Yugyeom, who grew up believing this kind of stuff, look a little scared. Jackson, however, looks at Yoongi and rolls his eyes. 

“Just be careful, alright?” She says, pleading. She turns to Yoongi. Especially you, Yoongi-yah. Something waits.” 

Alright,” Jackson stresses, grabbing Yugyeom by the shoulders and pulling him back. Thank you, ahjumma, for the advice. Enjoy your night.” 

They all bow again, piling into the taxi and chatting like that whole conversation hadn’t happened. 

Yoongi, however, can feel Mrs. Do’s sharp eyes on him, even as they drive away. 

 


 

Twenty minutes later, all thoughts of crazy old women and stupid superstitious townspeople flee his mind as Jackson smooth-talks them past the bouncer and into the club. It’s packed tight with people, the music so loud Yoongi can feel it in his sternum. Sweat is already building at his temples and the back of his neck as they push their way deeper, claiming a recently-evacuated booth. 

“I’ll go get us drinks!” Jackson shouts over the music, and disappears into the crush of bodies. 

Yoongi focuses very hard on trying not to do something stupid, like hyperventilate or vomit. 

“You’ll be okay,” Namjoon says in his ear, smoothing a hand down his back. Okay, hyung? And you can always leave if it gets to be too much.” 

“I just need a drink,” Yoongi mutters. And then I’ll be alright.” 

Jackson, as if he’d been summoned, appears. He’s somehow managed to grab four drinks in two hands, and he’s grinning like mad. 

“You should see the bartender,” he swoons. He’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen. An actual angel. He even laughed at me when I dropped the first round of drinks. Oh god. I’m in love. I’m going to marry him.” 

“He probably laughed at you because you’re a fucking idiot,” Yoongi quips, grabbing what looks like soju—and yep, it’s definitely soju and he just drank it way too fast. 

He coughs a little. Jackson claps him on the back. Don’t choke, hyung. You may be an old man but the night is still young!” 

“Fuck you,” Yoongi grumbles, and downs the rest of his drink. No wonder the bartender laughed.” 

“He laughed because I’m hilarious,” Jackson preens. I’m going back over to talk to him. God, I want to take him home so badly.” 

“No,” Yugyeom whines, grabbing Jackson’s jacket before he can go and make a fool of himself somewhere else. Dance with me first.” 

Jackson gives Yugyeom an imploring look, but Yugyeom pouts. Fine,” Jackson says, giving in. But only because you’re the cutest dongsaeng and I’m the best hyung ever. Namjoon,” Jackson turns to Namjoon, who’s sipping his drink, you coming?” 

“In a bit,” Namjoon replies. I’m gonna sit with Yoongi for a second.” 

“I forgot that Yoongi-hyung’s a terrible—” Yugyeom stops dead when Yoongi fixes him with a freezing look. 

“If you finish that sentence,” Yoongi threatens, and Yugyeom swallows, laughing weakly. 

“I meant,” Yugyeom starts, but Jackson nudges him. 

“Escape now while you’re still in one piece,” Jackson urges, and he and Yugyeom push through the crowd to where the dance floor must be. 

Namjoon swirls his drink, the purple lights turning his hair a funny color. What do you think Mrs. Do meant when she said something waits?” He asks, leaning in close. 

Yoongi shrugs, fiddling with his earrings. In my experience,” he says, the old people here are all a little crazy.” 

The double meaning behind these words does not escape Namjoon. He presses his lips together and gives Yoongi a sad look, finishing his drink. 

“Yoongi—” 

“Go and dance,” Yoongi says harshly, fighting the press of sudden emotion. I know you don’t want to sit here and deal with my moping. Go have fun.” 

“Hyung,” Namjoon pleads, but Yoongi stiffens his shoulders and doesn’t look up at Namjoon. He has no desire to face the pity or the sympathy in his friend’s eyes—he doesn’t deserve it and he’s so sick of feeling like this all the time. 

“Go,” he says, and Namjoon finally leaves. 

It’s just Yoongi and his thoughts now. Which, Yoongi decides, calculating the distance between here and the bar, is not a good thing. 

That’s the last coherent thing that passes through his mind, and a little more than an hour later he’s completely drunk. The room spins a little and the lights flash on and off in a dizzying way. Reality has become a slippery slope to stand on, and Yoongi’s not sure if he wants to be here anymore. He really just wants to go home and lie down, or maybe watch something that he can drunk-cry at. 

“I’m going home,” he says to approximately nobody. He’s pretty sure he saw Yugyeom making out with somebody a couple minutes ago, but there’s been no word from Jackson or Namjoon. They’re probably fine—he’ll just text them. Or something. 

It takes him three tries to get out of the booth—he keeps bumping into the table and it knocks him back down again. He ends up having to crawl out of it, bare knees sticking to the vinyl. 

“Stupid jeans and stupid clubs and stupid head,” he mutters to himself. He rights himself, not sure if he’s even got his wallet or house key. It’s just—his head is so foggy and the room is upside down. He really feels like he’s going to vomit, too, because there’s that gross feeling in the back of his throat. 

Yoongi doesn’t know how he even makes it outside. Thank god for fucking Christmas miracles. Except, it’s not Christmas. It’s not even snowing, either, just pouring. Goddamn rain. That stupid cab driver clearly wasn’t good enough friends with Mother Nature. 

“God-shit-fucking-damn,” he says, stumbling forward. He trips on his own feet, tries to steady himself on a wall, misses, and ends up eating shit. Now his knees fucking sting and he’s getting soaking wet, what the fuck. And now he can’t get up because his hands are screwed on backwards or some shit like that. 

He hates being drunk. 

Maybe he’ll just sleep here. Namjoon will find him eventually. Sleep sounds nice right about now—and he’s already drenched, so what’s the point? 

He sits up against the wall, consciousness flickering like a faulty light. There’s some movement on the other side of the alley—lots of voices that he can’t make out, and some weird shapes doing some weird things. 

Lovely, Yoongi thinks to himself. Even the damn voice in his head sounds faraway. I’m hallucinating now. 

There’s a shout and burst of light, like headlights passing by, then it’s quiet. Now—now he can sleep. 

Finally— fucking finally— his consciousness starts to fade. The rain slows to a drizzle, and the fingers on his right hand have gone numb, filling his whole arm with warmth. People are talking close by, whispering about something he’s too tired to make out. 

So he doesn’t bother. Next thing he knows, he’s sliding sideways into sleep, and everything goes black. 

 

Chapter Text

Yoongi expects the pounding hangover when he wakes up that morning. What he doesn’t expect, however, is to be greeted with the sight of his bedroom when he cracks open his eyes.  

“What the actual fuck,” he mumbles, voice hoarse. How did I even get back here?” 

He can’t remember much over the agonizing pain in his head and arm, but he can distinctly recall blacking out in the alley, soaking wet. He doesn’t remember even getting to his feet after that. Maybe Jackson found him and dragged his sorry ass home. Maybe Namjoon called him a cab. 

Right on cue, Namjoon opens the door into Yoongi’s room, letting in a flood of light that makes Yoongi groan and bury his head under his pillow. 

“Oh, shit,” Namjoon says in genuine surprise. I didn’t know you were in here, hyung!” 

“Where else would I be,” Yoongi says grumpily. 

“Jackson bet me ten thousand won that you’d passed out in a park somewhere,” Namjoon informs him, as if that’d somehow make Yoongi feel better. 

(It doesn’t). 

“Wait, so you’re telling me you didn’t find me outside the club?” 

“This is first time I’ve seen you in twelve hours, hyung,” Namjoon says, and Yoongi can hear him puttering around Yoongi’s room, probably doing terrible things like opening the curtains. 

“How are you not absolutely trashed right now?” Yoongi moans. Joon-ah, my hangover is so bad my whole fucking right arm hurts.” 

“It takes an inordinate amount of alcohol for me to get drunk,” Namjoon replies. At the rate I’m going, hyung, my liver will fail by the time I’m thirty-five.” 

Yoongi groans. Fuck you, Kim Namjoon. And don’t you dare open my blinds or I will actually murder you.” 

“Sunlight is good for you,” Namjoon says cheerfully. Get up quickly so you can make me breakfast.” 

“I hate you.” 

“And call Jackson, too,” Namjoon says, ignoring Yoongi completely. He was worried about you.”

Yoongi only answers with another groan. 

Namjoon leaves the room, and Yoongi lies there with his head under the pillow until he feels like he’s suffocating and the pins-and-needles in his right hand has gotten to a point where it’s almost painful. He pulls his head out from under the pillow, eyes shut tight against the harsh sunlight. He makes his way blindly to the bathroom, nearly stubbing his toe on his desk. His head and his arm pound in time with his heart, and his mouth feels like something crawled in there and died. 

He manages to get the shower on—thank fucking god the pipes were fixed—and steps in, unable to stop the satisfied sigh that escapes him when the warm water starts to ease the knots in his back. The numbness in his fingers starts to fade, too, and his headache lets up a little bit.

He opens his eyes and reaches for the shampoo. 

And promptly drops it on his foot because his whole right arm is covered in art. 

From the first knuckles on his fingers all the way up his arm to his fucking shoulder there’s tattoos—hours of work, inked into his skin in one night. He didn’t even know it was possible. He didn’t even know he was the kind of drunk who’d want tattoos. 

He stares at it, surprised at its intricateness. But there’s definitely some tattoos on there that prove he was drunk—a white bunny on his forearm, a word in English that kind of looks like the Supreme logo, and for some fucking reason, the Monopoly Man, complete with his cane and hat. 

He literally cannot believe himself. He goes out for the first time in months and comes back with a tattoo sleeve that must’ve cost his whole bank account. 

“And now I’m broke, too,” he mutters. And how am I supposed to explain this to my friends?” He knows Jackson will laugh, Yugyeom will try to hide his shock, and Namjoon will bite his lip and ask something like are you sure you don’t want to get that removed or now nobody will hire you, hyung. 

His stomach sinks, and he looks down at his arm again, like the tattoos were just a figment of his imagination. But no, they’re still there. 

He gets out of the shower. The least he can do for now is cover it up—not much he can do about his hand, but the rest of it is hidden by the hoodie he pulls over his wet hair. 

Namjoon is putting on his shoes when Yoongi comes into the kitchen, hands firmly shoved in his pockets. 

“You okay, hyung?” Namjoon asks, looking up from his shoelaces. You were taking a long time, so I just had cereal. I left the milk out if you want some. And I think there’s some ibuprofen in the cabinet if your headache is still bad.” 

“Thanks, Joon-ah,” Yoongi mumbles, dimming the light a little so his head stops pounding. What time did you get home?” 

“Uh, about two?” Namjoon says, squinting his eyes in thought. I had the wackiest car driver, though. He offered to sell me toothbrushes out of his glovebox, claiming they were magic, or something. And he had a broom in his front seat.” 

“I think I had the same guy yesterday,” Yoongi replies. He was pretty fucking weird. But a lot of weird things have been happening recently.” 

His right hand twitches at these words. 

“I agree,” Namjoon says, standing up and looking out the window. The weather’s been kind of weird, too. I was walking home this morning and I swear the rain tasted salty. I suppose it has something to do with the ocean being right there, yeah?” 

“Mmm,” Yoongi hums. It’s incredibly difficult for him to focus on whatever Namjoon’s talking about because his heart is going a little faster and his stomach is still down by his knees and it all has to do with the massive tattoo sleeve on his right arm. Hey, Joon-ah?” He calls, unable to help himself. It’s irrational for him to crave reassurance—it is his mistake, after all, and he should own up to it—but he can’t help but feel slightly off. One tattoo, he can understand, but twenty? All like they’ve been there for ages? He knows jack shit about tattoos, but. Just—he wants to make sure. And he knows Namjoon won’t judge him either way, but he’d rather just get it removed quietly, without any fuss. 

“Were you gonna ask something?” Namjoon prods gently, shouldering into his jacket. 

“Hypothetically,” Yoongi starts slowly, not sure how he should phrase this to minimize suspicion, how long would it take to get a tattoo sleeve done?” 

“A whole sleeve?” Namjoon asks, brow furrowing. Um. Well, I know Jinyong’s got a sleeve and it took him…three weeks, maybe? About a month? I know they take a little while to heal.” 

Yoongi drops his spoon with a loud clatter. A month—a fucking month?” 

“That’s only for a whole sleeve,” Namjoon says hurriedly. I’m sure you could get a small tattoo done in one night if you want one that badly.” 

“I don’t—I don’t fucking want a tattoo,” Yoongi groans, dropping his head into his hands. Jesus fucking Christ, what the hell is happening—” 

“Hyung, are you okay? Does your head hurt?” 

“Go to work, Joon-ah,” Yoongi gets out, trying to stay upright. I’m fine.” 

Namjoon clearly doesn’t believe this, but turns to go anyways. Call Jackson, okay? And I can come home if you need it.” 

“Thanks,” Yoongi says through gritted teeth. Bye.” 

“Bye, hyung,” Namjoon says, still sounding incredibly confused. 

As soon as the front door closes, Yoongi yanks his hoodie off. It’s still there—impossible, beautiful and totally the exact fucking opposite of what he wants to deal with. 

“A whole month,” Yoongi mutters. It’s not just one tattoo, either. He can count at least ten on his forearm and hand alone: budding roses and thorns on the top of his hand, the snake around his wrist, feathers on the top of his forearm, a pair of hands, and a black cat. Most noticeable is the white bunny, and, just beneath it in messy handwriting, a single sentence: I’m sorry. 

He presses his fingertips on that one in particular, scowling. Sorry, his ass. How in the actual fuck is this possible, he wonders for the fifteenth time in the last minute. 

Yoongi takes a deep breath through his nose, trying to calm himself. Right,” he mutters. Okay. This is fine. I already knew there was something off about this town and this just fucking proves my point.” He takes another breath. Okay. Let’s see how far this thing goes.” 

Yoongi marches into the bathroom with new determination, flicking on the lights and tugging his shirt off. He crowds against the mirror so he can see the back of his bicep, shivering a little. Bare skin is now covered with a detailed rendition of the night sky, complete with moon and stars. At his shoulder, right above a nine-tailed fox, it shifts into a pattern that reminds him of leaves—fuck, it covers his shoulder blade too, this is going to a bitch to remove—and below it, on the inside of his bicep, the Monopoly Man’s got an expression on that makes it look like he’s laughing at Yoongi. 

“Shut up,” he tells it grumpily. Then comes the rational thought: great job, Min Yoongi. Now you’re talking to them. 

He turns away from the mirror, suddenly feeling dizzy and overwhelmed again. He gets back into his shirt and pulls his hoodie on as fast as he can, jamming his hand into the pocket so he doesn’t have to look at the roses on his fingers.  

Breath filters in and out of his lungs shakily as he desperately tries to keep control of the situation, but he doesn’t even know where he should start. Literally everything about what’s happened to him is physically impossible. Tattoos don’t just appear overnight like they’ve been there for years, especially not on an entire arm. The world just doesn’t work like that. 

The rest of the world doesn’t work like that, you mean, a quiet voice says in the back of his mind, nearly unrecognizable. He doesn’t have quiet voices. It’s only him, reasonable and logical. He knows how things work, how they should work—and they do, even in this strange place. Here’s different. You’ve always known that. 

“Shut up,” he says, voice loud in the quiet of the kitchen. That’s not true. I refuse to believe any of this.” 

His phone chooses that exact moment to start ringing, an obnoxious song that means it’s Jackson on the other end. Yoongi picks it up, tentatively swiping to accept the call. 

“Where are you?” Jackson asks immediately, foregoing any introduction. 

“I’m at home,” Yoongi sighs. It hasn’t been a great morning.” 

“I heard your water still wasn’t working,” Jackson says sympathetically. Do you wanna go get coffee? I’ll even pay.” 

“I took a shower this morning,” Yoongi says, confused. With hot water and everything.” 

“Oh, then it must be fixed,” Jackson says easily. Namjoon got up earlier when it wasn’t working.” 

Yoongi shuts his thoughts down before he can overthink it. There’s been too many strange things already. He does not need another one. 

“Do you still want to get coffee?” Jackson offers. 

“Hell yes,” Yoongi replies immediately. You literally read my fucking mind.” 

“Thought so,” Jackson says matter-of-factly. Cool. I’ll meet you by that one by campus, yeah?” 

“Sure,” Yoongi agrees. Coffee will help immensely—he’ll clear his mind, wake up a little bit, and then think about the…thing on his arm. 

Jackson says a quick goodbye and then hangs up, leaving Yoongi with his thoughts again. He keeps them firmly on the task at hand as he walks back over to his room, changing his hoodie for a slightly nicer one and pulling on some socks. 

The air is eerily still when he gets downstairs, closing the door behind him. It’s warm, though, and the sun is shining, so Yoongi can’t complain. His car is still at the cafe, where he’d left it, but the walk is only about half on hour, so he doesn’t mind too much. It gives him a chance to clear his head. He’s just glad it’s fall and not summer, otherwise he doesn’t know how he’d hide this thing. 

By the time Yoongi gets to the coffee shop, he feels less like he’s going to vomit or pass out. His headache is weak enough that he’s able to feel hunger hit him like a fist to the stomach. 

“Hey, Yoongi-hyung!” Jackson calls from his spot on the patio, sunglasses on and feet propped up on a chair. Yoongi makes a beeline for him, something settling at the sight of a familiar face. 

“Jackson-ah,” Yoongi says, sitting down across from him. Jackson pushes a steaming cup of black coffee and a sandwich towards Yoongi, grinning. Oh, thank fuck you got food,” Yoongi sighs, mouth watering. I’m starving.” 

Jackson crosses his arms and laughs as Yoongi inhales his food. You don’t look as bad as I thought you would,” Jackson starts, clearly not expecting an answer. I can’t believe you even got home last night. You just up and disappeared.” 

Yoongi swallows. I got too drunk so I went home,” he says. He doesn’t mention how he thinks he fell asleep in the alley and isn’t really sure how he got back to the apartment, but he doesn’t want Jackson to worry—or, more likely, laugh at him. 

“I thought you stumbled out and fell asleep in a park,” Jackson tells him honestly, shrugging. 

“Thank you,” Yoongi tells him flatly, for your unwavering faith in me.” 

“I’m just telling the truth!” Jackson defends, grinning. No offense, hyung, but you’re not a good drunk.” 

“Good to know,” Yoongi replies, and goes for the coffee, downing a quarter of it in one gulp. 

“Is that a tattoo?” Jackson asks curiously, and Yoongi yanks his hand off the table so quickly he nearly spills the coffee in his lap. 

“Um,” Yoongi says, brain stalling as he tries to think of an excuse.  

“It’s okay, hyung,” Jackson informs him. We’ve all been there. I just didn’t expect it—and on your hand, too. But it looks really good, damn! Does it hurt?” 

“Not really,” he mumbles, tucking his chin to his chest to avoid making eye contact. He feels bad, lying to Jackson, but what is he supposed to say— oh, yeah, and check out the rest of my arm which also magically got tattooed as well! 

No, he can’t tell Jackson, as much as he wants to. But I think I want to get it removed,” he tells Jackson. It’s just some roses and stuff—it looks dumb, and it’s on my hand, too.” 

If Jackson’s suspicious, Yoongi can’t see it on his face. 

“Sure,” Jackson says easily, pulling out his phone and opening a new Naver tab. Lemme look some stuff up. I know a guy who works at a tattoo parlor, and he’s recommended me a place before that’s done good work—ah, right here, let’s see—it’s called Ink Be Gone,” Jackson says, and Yoongi almost doesn’t catch the last part of his sentence, which he says in English. Do you want directions?” 

“I literally did not understand most of what you just said,” Yoongi informs him. You talk way too fucking fast.” 

Jackson rolls his eyes, and a second later Yoongi’s phone buzzes—Jackson’s sent him the location of the tattoo removal place. They’re really nice,” Jackson says, sitting back and swirling the dregs of his coffee. And it won’t break your bank account.” 

“Why, what’d you have to get removed?” 

“I had my ex’s name tattooed onto my chest,” Jackson says, and Yoongi winces sympathetically. Too bad she turned out to be the worst person ever. Had to get that off really quick.” 

Yoongi saves the link to his phone. He had planned on stopping by the library to catch up on schoolwork, and he desperately needed to go grocery shopping—but maybe he’ll go afterwards if he has time.

A small part of him, one that he only hears when he’s particularly upset, aches at the thought of being alone. He turns to Jackson, who’s talking about something even though he knows Yoongi isn’t paying attention—Jackson’s the kind of person that can talk about anything whether somebody’s listening or not—and holds up a hand, momentarily interrupting him. 

He doesn’t know how to ask if Jackson will stick around a little longer so he doesn’t have to be stuck in his own head, so instead he mumbles, come to the library with me.” 

It’s the mark of a true friend that Jackson’s able to pick up on what Yoongi really means and agrees without hesitation. 

“Probably a good thing that I do,” Jackson muses as they throw away their trash and head towards Yoongi’s car. I have a massive paper due on Tuesday that I haven’t even thought about.” 

Yoongi makes a noncommittal sound, unlocking the doors. He can feel Jackson trying to get another look at his hand, but he keeps it carefully tucked away, using his left hand to start the car and even drive. The library is on the other side of campus, so it takes a little more than five minutes to get there—but since it’s a Saturday, the parking lot is empty. Yoongi shoves a couple stray notes into his backpack and gets out. Jackson fills the silence with stories about the beautiful bartender, who looked at him once and now it means that they’re both in love. He also tells Yoongi about Yugyeom, who was making out with someone who was at least 95% legs, hyung”. 

The librarian gives Jackson a sour look when they enter and Jackson lowers his voice, looking a bit guilty. 

“I’m glad you had a good night,” Yoongi tells him, a little bitter. 

Jackson’s face softens. Aww, hyung.” 

“Don’t aww’ me,” Yoongi scoffs. It was my fault for saying yes.”

“Yeah, but I feel kinda bad,” Jackson says, plopping down at a computer. You’ve got a weak spot for people you like—“ 

Yoongi makes a derisive noise. Okay, if you think I like you—“ 

“You’re right,” Jackson says, a smile tugging at his mouth. My bad. You’ve got a soft spot for people you love, and we knew that. We’re really just worried about you, hyung. Ever since your grandmother died, you’ve been really distant. You don’t really talk much anymore.” 

Yoongi stares resolutely at the screen on his computer. His silence evidently tells Jackson all he needs to know, because he falls quiet. Yoongi vaguely wonders when he’ll finally be able to talk about it without feeling like he’s about to suffocate in unwanted emotion. 

Now, he thinks, opening up a browser tab, is not that day. 

 


 

Time always passes faster when he’s with Jackson, and he’s grateful when his friend doesn’t bring his grandmother up again. Two hours slide past in a flurry of note-taking from Yoongi and a lot of groaning and keyboard smashing from Jackson as he tries to outline his essay and fails spectacularly. 

“Fuck this,” Jackson says at around three. I’m doing this the night before. That always gets my brain working.” 

“That and a lot of energy drinks,” Yoongi adds, snorting. 

Jackson doesn’t even bother with arguing. Instead he shrugs, raising his hands, guilty as charged.” 

“You’re a fucking menace,” Yoongi tells him, only half-joking. Jackson takes a couple seconds to laugh, before he fixes Yoongi with an uncharacteristically serious look.  

“You’re okay, right?” He asks. 

Yoongi shifts, hesitating. The rose-covered fingers on his right hand curl into a fist. He really, really doesn’t want to lie to Jackson, but what choice does he have? I’m okay, Jackson. Really.” 

“You’d tell me if you weren’t,” Jackson says confidently, and the moment is gone. You wanna know why?” 

“Why,” Yoongi asks dryly, humoring him. 

“Because I’m your best fucking friend,” Jackson tells him, watching Yoongi log out and start packing up.

“Thank for informing me,” Yoongi replies, still sarcastic. Jackson just grins, a self-satisfied smile on his face. Yoongi gives him another look, but he feels infinitely better now than he did this morning. Jackson Wang just has that kind of effect on people, as much as it pains Yoongi to admit. 

“Bye, Jackson,” he says, shouldering his backpack. 

“Peace out,” Jackson replies. I’m gonna chill here for a little while longer and see if I can actually get stuff done.” 

“And when you can’t?” Yoongi asks, lifting an eyebrow. 

Jackson laughs. You know me too well. I’ll be at Yugyeom’s later. Lemme know how the tattoo thing goes.” 

Yoongi gives Jackson a small wave, and then he’s back outside. His phone rings as he’s getting in the car—it’s Namjoon, probably calling Yoongi about the groceries. 

“I’m already on my way to the store,” Yoongi says when he picks up, and Namjoon’s sigh is audible. 

“You’re the best, hyung,” he says, relieved. Can you get strawberry Milkis and more beer while you’re there?” 

Yoongi rolls his eyes. Do you want anything healthy?” 

“You and I both know we’ll never eat it. And besides, neither one of us has the energy or skill to cook anything besides ramyeon.” 

“Instant noodles don’t require any skill,” Yoongi says, squeezing his phone between his shoulder and ear as he starts the car. 

Namjoon snorts. If you’re as clumsy as me, then yes, it takes real skill.” 

“Aren’t you supposed to be at work?” Yoongi asks, dropping his phone into the cupholder and putting it on speaker. 

“I’m on my lunch break,” Namjoon says. Hyung, I can’t believe you’d think I’d just skip! That’s Jackson, not me.” 

“Why are you even eating lunch? It’s three in the afternoon,” Yoongi says. 

“Because Minhyuk fucked up and entered in five people for the same time slot,” Namjoon recounts. Even if this is a clinic, he's still got a simple job. I don’t blame him, though. He’s really stressed.” 

“You guys are med students,” Yoongi says. I don’t know why you’re surprised about that.” 

Namjoon yawns loud enough that Yoongi can hear it. Alright, that’s the doctor calling me. Have fun grocery shopping, hyung!” 

“Thanks,” Yoongi says. Don’t mess up and prescribe someone the wrong medication.” 

“Don’t forget the Milkis,” Namjoon reminds him. 

“I won’t forget the fucking Milkis, Joon-ah. Go to work.” Yoongi makes an aggressive left turn and about runs over a pedestrian.

“Alright, alright—oh, hey, hyung.” 

“I swear to god, Namjoon, if this is about the groceries—” 

“No, no,” Namjoon says hurriedly. I just wanted to make sure you’re feeling better from this morning.” 

“Oh,” Yoongi says. He sometimes forgets that Namjoon is, at his core, an incredibly caring person. Yeah, I guess I am. I hung out with Jackson.” 

“Good,” Namjoon says. In the background, someone starts shouting. Okay, I really have to go, but I’ll see you tonight, okay? Bye, hyung.” 

“Bye,” Yoongi says, and the call ends. He pulls up to the grocery store, parks, and then takes another look at the link Jackson sent him, then at the flowers he can see just past the sleeve of his jacket. 

Unease creeps up his spine as he sits there and he shakes it off, scoffing. He grabs a couple extra won out of the glove compartment—even though he knows the Milkis will cost him extra, he wants to do something nice for Namjoon. 

He’s plugged in his headphones and is by the dairy section, comparing the price of cheese, when he hears it. 

—push the shelves over, isn’t that a good idea?

He pulls his headphones out of his ears and turns around—the voice was so close, right in his ear. So where…? 

Feeling slightly disquieted, he turns his music off and goes back to looking at cheese. But as soon as he’s picked one and has moved on, he hears it again, right next to him. 

Shh, it says. 

But again—there’s nobody that close; only an old man stacking cream cheese into his cart. 

I’m actually going crazy, he thinks, shaking his head slightly. His clenches his tattooed hand into a fist. It all started with this fucking thing, and now he’s going mental, he’s losing his mind. 

It’s fine, he amends a second later. I’m just tired. 

He frowns. But he’s not tired—he slept for eleven hours—and what is even happening right now? Is this an onset of early psychosis? Is he really just overtired? Or is it—? 

He’s unable to stop the image of Mrs. Do’s face from flashing in his mind, as well as her words: something waits. 

Yoongi rubs at his arm self-consciously. He’s never believed in magic, not like his grandmother or Mrs. Do, or even Namjoon, but if there was one place on earth where magic still existed, it would be here, in this town, with its too-perfect scenery and its strange weather and stranger people who still took care of the shrine on top of the hill. 

And maybe he’s being paranoid, but something’s off. Incredibly, undeniably off. 

Yoongi listens closely for a second, but the voices have quieted. He’s a little more jumpy than usual for the rest of his grocery trip, startling when a woman taps his shoulder to return his headphones, which he’d dropped. 

You’re fine, he tells himself—but there’s something not right about that voice, his voice. He can’t help the unreasonable, terrified doubt that creeps in: are my thoughts still my own? 

There’s no answer, obviously, but the fact that the thought even occurred to him in the first place chills him to the bone. He focuses very hard on counting won out into the cashier’s hand, keeping himself as present as he can. Yoongi knows he can get like this, sometimes: paranoid to the point where it makes him physically sick, where he gets stuck in a tight spiral of uneasy thoughts that result in him gasping for air and tearing at himself in attempt to get out. It runs in the family, Yoongi knows, but this— this. This feels different. 

And an itchy feeling at the back of his mind tells him it has to do with the tattoo on his arm. 

He loads the groceries into his car and picks up his phone, putting in the address to the removal place. If this is day one with this thing, then what’s the rest of his life going to look like? There have been too many fucked-up things that happened today for Yoongi to even begin to consider leaving this thing on for a second longer. He needs to get it off—at least some of it—and he needs it off now. 

Yoongi is so preoccupied with putting the address in that he doesn’t hear the arguing start up again, nor does he see the things flickering in and out of existence in the corner of his eye like rags caught in the wind. 

He only fixes his eyes on the road ahead, and ignores the way his fingers tingle—almost like a warning. 

 


 

The sun has disappeared behind heavy dark clouds that definitely look like rain. The wind has picked up, and Yoongi shivers a little bit, glad he remembered his raincoat this time around. The first drops of rain splatter his windshield as he leaves the grocery store; by the time he’s downtown, it’s pouring at the same intensity as yesterday. 

“Jesus Christ,” Yoongi mutters, turning his windshield wipers on. Fucking weather. Just another freaky-ass incident to add to the list.” 

A particularly loud clap of thunder makes the hair on his arms stand on end. It’s just weather—he knows this—but he can’t help but feel there was something distinctly unfriendly about that thunder. At any rate, it’s got his fingers going numb again and the muscles in his back tightening in anticipation.

Calm down, he orders himself, trying to force himself to relax. It’s nothing. When have I ever been scared of lighting? 

Still, he can’t relax the white-knuckle grip he’s got on the steering wheel, every instinct screaming at him to turn back. 

It’s just weather. 

It’s just weather, for fuck’s sake. He’s lived through a thousand storms and a hundred more even worse than this. He can remember being sixteen years old and making his grandmother tea to stop the shaking in her hands—she used to be legitimately scared of lightning, and Yoongi used to have to draw the blinds tightly and tuck her in. He remembers the bitter aroma of that tea, its scent filling his nose. It eases something in his chest, and he takes a right at a stop sign. There’s a spot right in front of the removal place, so he parks, zipping up his coat and pulling his hood up against the rain and the wind. 

The voices are back when he gets out of the car, telling him not to go in, that this is a bad idea. The panic in his stomach kicks up a notch—even his body is trying to convince him to walk away. 

But Min Yoongi is nothing if not stubborn, so he marches to the door of the shop and yanks it open, and the sound from outside is sucked away and replaced with the quiet music of the shop.

There’s only one bored-looking woman at the desk, but she brightens considerably when the bell above the door rings cheerfully. Hi,” she says, face open and friendly. Do you have an appointment or are you a walk-in?” 

“Walk-in,” Yoongi says, shaking the water off of his jacket. 

“Cool,” she says. Name?” 

“Min Yoongi,” he tells her, and she scribbles it down in a book. 

“Okay, if you’ll follow me, we can get you set up for a consultation,” she tells him, beckoning him towards the back of the shop. What’re you looking to remove, Yoongi-ssi?” 

He feels considerably less nervous taking his hoodie this time. He knows what to expect, and the woman doesn’t know anything about him—doesn’t know that these tattoos appeared on his skin overnight. Her eyes go wide as she takes in the whole thing. Wow,” she breathes. It’s beautiful. And you want to take the whole thing off?” 

Yoongi doesn’t have to ask to know that’s going to be expensive. He holds up his hand, showing her the roses and the thorns. There are some jade beetles, too, that he hadn’t noticed before. Just my hand, maybe. At least for now.” 

She gestures for him to sit, and he does. Can I take a closer look?” She asks, and he gives her his hand. After a moment of examination, she leans back. I have never seen anything like this,” she says in awe. It’s old, right?” 

“I guess,” Yoongi says unsurely. What do you mean, you’ve never seen anything like it?” 

“The colors are so vibrant,” she tells him. I didn’t know it was possible.” She taps a rose that’s starting to bloom on his ring finger. It looks like it’s been colored in with marker or something,” she says. Who’s your artist?” 

“Um,” Yoongi says, floundering. You wouldn’t know him. I, uh, got it done in Peru.” 

“Huh,” she says, leaning back in her chair. Peru? That makes sense, though I know nothing about it. Are you sure you want to take it off, though? It’s so pretty.” 

“Yes,” he says forcefully. She blinks at the strength in his voice, and he looks down, clearing his throat. I mean, yes. I want it off.” 

“Alright,” she says, confused. If you’re positive. I can start right now, if you’d like. I don’t have another appointment until seven, and we should make some good headway by then.” 

Yoongi swallows. Right now?” 

She nods, pursing her lips. Sure. Just let me get the equipment ready. We can talk about payment in a second. I’ll be right back—you can wash your hands in the meantime.” 

They both get up, Yoongi heading to the bathroom and she to a room off to the side.  

Under the florescent lights, the red of the roses looks extra vibrant. He could’ve sworn that they weren’t blooming when he woke up this morning. He lifts his hands closer to his face, sure he’s hallucinating—but no, they’re in full bloom , bright against the skin of his hands. Maybe he’d been mistaken. Namjoon is always going on about how human memory can’t be trusted, how it’s faulty and how the brain tricks itself into remembering things incorrectly. 

The discontent that had been plaguing him for the whole entire day starts to creep back in, dragging cold fingers along his spine. 

“Ready, Yoongi-ssi?” She asks him. If you’ll just sit down, I’ll start sterilizing the area. Since it’s your hand, it might hurt quite a bit, but I can give you a numbing agent if you’d like.” 

Yoongi sits down, heart speeding for unknown reasons as his unease grows. He gets a creeping sensation up his spine, like maybe he shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t be doing this— 

Stop it, he tells himself firmly. It’s fine. 

His palms start to sweat as she opens an alcohol wipe, the crisp smell of it burning his nose. 

Yoongi fixes his eyes onto the words on his forearm— I’m sorry, they read—as he desperately tries to ignore the mounting panic and the warning bells that are going off in his head. 

“You know how this works, right?” The woman asks, turning her back and picking up another tool. Yoongi thinks she says something else, but he’s not sure, because the words on his arm have just moved. 

Don’t do this, they spell out, character by character in neat writing. It’ll be okay. Just please don’t do this. 

Yoongi stands up so fast that he knocks the chair over. The woman startles back, blinking at him. Yoongi-ssi?” She asks, concerned, but Yoongi stumbles away from her, clasping a hand over his arm. 

“I,” he starts, but never gets the rest of the sentence out because the voices get louder and the ringing in his ears drowns everything else out.  

He knows how he must look: wild-eyed, a hand clapped over a tattoo that is suddenly moving, coming alive as he stumbles backwards out of the shop. 

The rain soaks him immediately, freezing cold and biting. The sky’s so dark it may as well be night, while the lightning blinds him with its intensity. And there, at the end of the street—a lone figure, surrounded in billowing darkness, is striding towards him with terrifying purpose. 

I’d start running, if I were you, a female voice comments dryly, right in his ear. 

Yoongi moves on instinct and starts sprinting in the opposite direction. As he runs, his eyes snag on strange figures in his peripheral—old men with lanterns on sticks, turtles with castles on their backs, and deer with glowing antlers. 

Just as he’s about to dive into a convenience store and maybe pass out, he trips and goes sprawling, skinning his palms and cracking his chin on the asphalt. But before he can scramble to his feet, there’s a hand on his shoulder and he’s flying, breath knocked out of his lungs as he slams into the side of a building. 

There’s worried whispering in his ear as the same figure from before stalks closer—it’s a man about his age, wearing what looks like a massive black robe. His hands, clenched into tight fists, glow with an unearthly light, and his face is so filled with rage that Yoongi flinches. 

“Who are you?” The man asks with freezing cold calm. Where is Park Jimin?” 

Yoongi raises his hands, coughing weakly. I have no idea what you’re talking about—” 

But before he can finish, he’s thrown into the air again. He gets a brief look of the city, twinkling below him, before he’s falling back to earth, the road crumbling around him at the force of the impact. 

I’m dead, he thinks to himself. I was just tossed into the air by an angry man and now I’m dead.

He lies there, listening to the muffled sounds of someone approaching. Maybe it's the Grim Reaper. Or God, telling him he didn't make the cut and has to go to hell. 

Get up, a quiet voice urges, cutting through Yoongi’s disoriented thoughts. Come on. You have to explain what’s going on. 

Yoongi flexes his fingers in confusion, astounded that they're even attached. How the hell did he survive that?

The man looms over him suddenly, surprise flickering over his face before it settles back into stone. You’re clearly not ordinary,” he states. But you’re still breakable—so tell me: where. Is. Park. Jimin. 

That’s me , the same voice says—and is that shock in his voice? Come on, tell him, tell him that I’m here, that I can hear him-- 

Yoongi shifts in the crater, but before he can move another inch, the man raises a hand and unnatural stillness locks Yoongi’s muscles in place. 

“Who—who are you?” He gasps. His mind is reeling, overloaded as it tries to take all of this in. How is he not dead? How was he in the air? Why does he keep hearing the same voice right in his ear, like its owner is right next to him? 

“Kim Seokjin,” the man says, lips pressed into a thin line. Fifth seat of the High Council. I’m here because Park Jimin went missing today around two AM, and his magic signal led me right to you.” 

“I think you’re mistaken,” Yoongi croaks. I don’t know who Park Jimin is. And magic—fuck, that hurts a lot—I don’t even believe in that stuff! That’s Namjoon!” His voice cracks at the end, desperate, and he watches Kim Seokjin’s eyes narrow suspiciously. 

“There’s no mistaking it, though,” he says. Park Jimin is with you. I know it. I didn’t do my tracking spell incorrectly. And if you were ordinary, you’d be dead.”  

I’m right here, hyung! The voice—Park Jimin’s voice—cries. You can’t hear me, or see me, but I’m here! 

Yoongi realizes that Kim Seokjin, cannot, in fact, hear the voice. And Yoongi’s sudden quiet has only made Seokjin all the more suspicious. He raises a hand, misty bright in the rain, and there’s a heavy pressure on Yoongi’s chest, forcing the breath out of him. 

The tattoo, the voice urges. Quick, quick, you have to show him the tattoo. 

“Wait,” Yoongi gasps weakly, but Seokjin doesn’t hear him, continuing to slowly close his hand. Something in Yoongi’s chest finally gives, and there’s a loud crack that fills him with white-hot pain. 

You’re going to die, the female voice sing-songs, sounding far too cheerful. 

Don’t listen to her, a gruffer voice cuts in. Fight! 

There’s something about the voices that sound familiar—like they’ve been there his entire life, and it’s only now that he can hear them. 

I can’t die, Yoongi thinks, gritting his teeth. Relief washes over him, cool and sweet, and he’s able to shove back against the weight on his chest. Seokjin’s eyes go wide and he stumbles back, the crush lifting just enough that Yoongi’s able to lift his sleeve, flipping his arm around so Seokjin can see the handwriting. I don’t know who you are,” Yoongi huffs, or why you’re slamming me around, but I can hear Park Jimin. And he’s writing on my arm.” 

Yoongi can’t see what’s being written, but he watches the snake on his wrist circle lazily, the black cat swiping at it. The pair of hands are making quick, flurried motions, and a couple of ghost-looking things drift around on his bicep, blown by an unseen wind under his skin. He swallows and looks away, trying very, very hard not to pass out. 

Seokjin, meanwhile, must be seeing something pretty significant because his eyes go wide and he lunges for Yoongi’s arm, fingers hotter than a normal human’s. 

“Jiminie,” Seokjin breathes. 

Hey, hyung, Jimin’s voice says, quiet in its relief. Seokjin’s eyes scan whatever new words appear on Yoongi’s arm, nodding sharply. I understand,” he says at last, letting Yoongi’s arm go and straightening. And just like that, it’s over—the weather clears in an instant. Seokjin flicks a hand at Yoongi and there’s a violent heave as the street beneath him fixes itself, leaving him on smooth, unmarked asphalt. Even the crater that he’d caused when he was flung into the brick wall is righted. A car beeps at them and Seokjin waves benignly, shuffling Yoongi out of the way. The anger on his face has lifted a little—he looks more concerned, now, than furious. 

Yoongi’s chest is uncomfortably warm, and there’s something humming in his rib cage, making him feel nauseated. When he reaches up to touch it, his hands come away red.

Seokjin notices. Oh, I’m so sorry about that,” he says, biting his lip. Jimin told me a little about what happened.” 

Every breath hurts as Yoongi rolls to the side to spit blood out of his mouth. You’re sorry?” 

Seokjin shrugs casually, black robe rippling. I did what had to be done.” 

Yoongi let his head fall back. He’s pretty sure that he’s broken at least two ribs, and basically every other part of him will bruise. His hands and knees are skinned and his clothes are trashed and this guy says that he’s sorry. 

“What the fuck,” Yoongi gasps, dizzy with pain. What the fuck is happening?” 

I guess I should probably fill you in, Park Jimin says, sounding remorseful. Your tattoo is magic. 

Yoongi groans. I gathered that. Why—and more importantly, how—did that happen?” 

Maybe we should go back to the apartment, Jimin suggests. Tell hyung the location and he’ll help you. 

“I do not want any fucking help from that robe-wearing psycho-fuck,” Yoongi mumbles, and tries to get to his feet. 

I wouldn’t do that, Jimin warns. 

“I’m fine,” Yoongi grunts. 

Well, he’s fine until the ground tilts and he promptly blacks out.

 


 

When Yoongi wakes up, he’s in a park. Seokjin—now wearing a white t-shirt and a suit jacket—has his arms crossed and his lips pursed. 

“Good, you’re awake,” he says briskly. Please don’t pass out again. Get up slowly.” 

“I don’t think I can,” Yoongi says weakly. The pain in his body has gotten worse; he’s now acutely aware of every single bruise, the throbbing in his head, the burning in his ribs, etc., etc. The list goes on, and it’s all thanks to the man standing over him. 

Seokjin has the nerve to look annoyed. I understand your circumstance may be difficult—” 

“Um,” Yoongi interrupts flatly. Try fucking impossible. I’m literally lying on a park bench with two broken ribs—” 

Three, an smooth, unfamiliar voice cuts in. You’ve got three broken ribs, a mild concussion, sustained internal and external bruising, and a fractured elbow. 

You’re not helping, the grumpy voice cuts in again. 

It’s truly unfortunate that he’s not dead, the female voice adds, definitely not meaning it. 

Yoongi claps his hands over his ears, effectively muffling the voices. 

Seokjin looks at him with a little concern. Ah, the spirits—has Jimin told you anything?” 

On his arm, new words appear: please take your hands off your ears. I’ll tell them to be quiet. 

Yoongi carefully removes his hands. The other voices have quieted down for now, meaning Yoongi can hear Park Jimin’s voice clearly, like he’s sitting on the bench right next to Yoongi. 

Hi, Park Jimin says. Um, nice to meet you. 

“Hi,” Yoongi responds wryly. Are you actually on my arm?” 

Seokjin looks at him curiously. So you really can hear him.” 

Yeah, Jimin says, and there’s a quiet little sigh. I seriously think we should go back to the apartment, that way Seokjin-hyung can hear the story too. 

Yoongi nods, slowly sitting up before he realizes Seokjin is still waiting for someone to tell him what’s happening. 

“Um,” Yoongi says, eyeing Seokjin cautiously. He’s got one of those faces that is simultaneously attractive and terrifying—maybe it’s something to do with the slant of his eyes or the set of his jaw or the way his mouth tightens in warning when Yoongi glares for a second too long. 

Yoongi isn’t one to notice physical appearances, but Seokjin’s got a face that demands attention. And it works, too. Christ, even the way he moves says something snobby, like pay attention to me or I’ll throw you into a brick wall. 

At the thought of brick walls, Yoongi’s chest throbs. 

He remembers Seokjin’s expecting him to say something. Park Jimin says we should go back to my apartment.” 

“Is it safe?” Seokjin asks immediately. Have there been wards placed around it?” 

“I’m gonna go with no,” Yoongi replies, wincing as he gets to his feet. Seeing as both Namjoon and I are human.” 

“Right,” Seokjin sighs. Well, I guess I can put something temporary up. We have to keep Jimin safe.” 

We?” Yoongi asks. Wait a second. You’re here because you can get this off, right?” 

Seokjin’s face is impassive. We’ll see. Where’s your car?” 

“What do you mean, we’ll see?” Yoongi demands, but as soon as he makes to move forward he’s overwhelmed by dizziness. Hey, wizard. Can you do something about my injuries while you’re at it? Since you caused them?” 

Seokjin sighs again, sounding more stressed. He massages at his temple before striding towards Yoongi. 

“For your information,” Seokjin says irritably, touching Yoongi on the forehead, I’m a witch. Wizards don’t exist anymore. Their kind of magic is long-extinct.” 

Coolness trickles through Yoongi’s body, and the pain in his chest fades, only leaving the humming. His ears stop ringing, and the dizziness subsides enough that he can move without feeling like he’s going to black out again. I thought witches were girls, though.” 

“Can we walk and talk?” Seokjin asks. I’ll answer your questions to the best of my ability—Jimin has asked that much of me. But we really do need to get somewhere safe.” 

Yoongi stares at Seokjin for a long second, trying to wrap his head around the fact that magic—actual real, live magic existed and this fucker right here could use it to fling Yoongi around and heal bones and transform his clothes. 

After a second of struggling, he gives up and shrugs. Fuck it,” he mutters. I just—how the fuck do you guys exist?” 

Seokjin raises an eyebrow and waits until Yoongi stutters into motion, walking back towards the tattoo removal shop. 

“To answer your first question: everyone that wields magic is a witch—it’s a gender-neutral term. Second, we exist very carefully, and right under your noses. Magic has been around for much longer than humans have been wielding it. Nowadays, most of us can summon it right from inside of ourselves, but there are few—like Jimin, for example,” Seokjin says with a pointed look at Yoongi’s tattoo, alive with movement, that use other kinds. Older kinds.” 

“Yeah, you wanna explain that?” Yoongi asks, looking down at his arm. 

I’d really like to know how I got stuck here, the female voice chimes in. 

Akane, the grumpy voice says, this isn’t about you. 

I’ll explain, Jimin says tiredly as they reach Yoongi’s car. I’m warning you, though—I don’t remember anything about the night of the accident, only leading up to it. And there’s not much I know about my magic either—only what my grandfather and mother told me. 

“What’s he saying?” Seokjin demands as Yoongi starts the car. 

Yoongi gives him a grumpy look, already tired of playing translator. He’s saying that he doesn’t remember the accident. And he doesn’t know much about his magic, either.” 

“Oh, Jiminie,” Seokjin says, and his demeanor changes entirely, face softening and eyes warming. The change is astounding, honestly. I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry I couldn’t find you in time.” 

Show him your arm, please, Jimin prods softly, and Yoongi wordlessly lifts his arm as he starts the drive back home. 

He doesn’t know what Jimin writes, but it’s enough to make Seokjin’s eyes shine wetly before his expression hardens. We’ll get to the bottom of this,” he declares, and turns to Yoongi. And you’re going to help me.” 

 


 

Mrs. Do is out on the front steps refilling her milk bowl when Yoongi and Seokjin—and Jimin, Yoongi supposes—get back to the apartment. 

“Min Yoongi,” Mrs. Do says in surprise, a twinkling smile spreading across her face. You were careful, even when something was waiting for you. I warned you, didn’t I?” 

“Hello, Mrs. Do,” Yoongi replies, nodding his head. You were right.” 

Mrs. Do’s eyes take on a knowing look. And you didn’t believe me until afterwards. Ah, kids these days.” Her gaze moves onto Seokjin, who’s hovering behind Yoongi, waves of impatience and anxiety rolling off of him. Who’s your friend?” 

“Kim Seokjin,” Seokjin introduces himself, and throws on a smile. I’m—” 

“He’s my cousin,” Yoongi blurts quickly, ignoring the annoyed look Seokjin gives him. He’s visiting from—” 

“Seoul,” Seokjin finishes smoothly, bringing the conversation back to him. Thank you for watching out for my cousin here. He never did believe in magic.” 

Mrs. Do smiles, setting the milk bowl back down. And he does now?” 

“You bet I fucking do,” Yoongi mutters, very conscious of the way the snake is circling his wrist lazily and the bunny is twitching its ears irritably. Seokjin nudges him, and Yoongi says louder, I do.” He looks down at the bowl of milk, creamy white and untouched. Can I ask why you always fill the bowl with milk?” 

Mrs. Do laughs. Now you’re curious, hmm?” 

Yoongi ducks his head in embarrassment, sticking his right hand in his pocket when he notices the roses on his knuckles fluttering in an unseen breeze. 

“Everything magic likes milk,” Mrs. Do tells him enigmatically. Stops the unwanted ones at the door, and keeps us in the favor of the good ones.” 

“Very wise,” Seokjin says, a little tersely. It was lovely chatting with you, Mrs. Do. I hope to see you again soon.” 

Mrs. Do laughs again, gentle. You as well, Kim Seokjin. If I may offer some parting advice: do not rush the answer to the question you ask. You may find something infinitely more valuable on the way.” 

Seokjin’s eyes widen briefly—the only sign of his surprise—before he’s shoving Yoongi into the apartment building and Yoongi’s leading them up the stairs. 

“Is she an oracle?” Seokjin demands as Yoongi unlocks the door. Or a seer? A prophet, maybe?” 

“You’re asking the wrong guy,” Yoongi replies, and lets them both into the apartment. 

Seokjin wrinkles his nose. It’s so small,” he comments. And unguarded. Literally anything could break in.” 

“I’ve never had to worry about magical things breaking in,” Yoongi points out, but Seokjin’s already off, muttering things under his breath and making his hands glow. 

You’ll have to start worrying now, the grumpy voice says. Now that you’ve got—oh, twenty-plus spirits trapped under your skin. 

“Twenty?” Yoongi sputters. Pulling off his jacket and hoodie, he turns to the handwriting, glaring. Jimin. You mean there’s more than just you?” 

I was going to get to that, Jimin says guiltily. I didn’t want to overwhelm you. 

“Too late for that,” Yoongi grumbles, leaning against the counter. The bunny’s nose twitches—and to say that Yoongi’s surprised to see that the grumpy voice belongs to that particular tattoo is an understatement. 

I’m Gonzales, the voice says as the bunny nods its head. I’m a cadejo. Not really a bunny. 

He’s very grumpy that he’s a rabbit, the sly female voice cuts in. He used to have a big, strong, powerful form but now he’s stuck as a cute little bunny. 

The Monopoly Man, who had been dozing, suddenly jerks awake. Did somebody say money? 

No, you imbecile, the female says, and Yoongi decides it’s probably the nine-tailed fox currently on his bicep—though he thinks he’s seen her higher up, too.  

But money is important, Monopoly Man says. More important than anything else. I love money. Everyone should love money. It keeps you warm. You can buy lots of soup with money. 

Everyone, please be quiet, Jimin’s voice cuts in desperately as Yoongi takes deep breaths in through his nose, trying to ease the pain in his head and in his chest. You’re overwhelming him. 

The other spirits quiet down. Seokjin comes back over, jacket shed and forehead shining with sweat. I put up some temporary barriers,” Seokjin says. He pauses, looking around, before he flicks his fingers at the crowded eating table. It delicately shakes off all the work on top of it before it comes zooming over to where Seokjin is, who takes a seat. 

Yoongi feels like he’s about to combust, but ignores it and sits as well, playing at nonchalance. 

Alright, Jimin says, and the mirroring characters appear on Yoongi’s arm for Seokjin to see. Where do you want to start? 

“Tell me about the accident,” Seokjin says at the same time as Yoongi asks, I want to know how I have two dozen so-called spirits trapped under my skin.” 

Jimin sighs. I’ll tell you everything I know, then. 

And he takes a deep breath, and starts from the beginning.  

Chapter Text

 

Park Jimin was raised by his mother and grandfather. 

They lived on the outskirts of town, in a house with sliding doors and floors that creaked and a whole lawn filled with tiny colored fairies that nipped at Jimin’s nose or gnomes that dug tunnels and giggled at his jokes. Jimin had one friend that could come over: Kim Seokjin , who would spend hours watching Jimin draw pictures of things Seokjin couldn’t see and regaling him with stories about the local school. 

Jimin’s mother didn’t let him go to school. You’re too special, sweetie,” she told him, cupping his face tenderly. And when Jimin asked why, she’d smile and tell him he’d know when he got older. 

On Jimin’s eleventh birthday he’d stormed into his room, unable to help the his furious tears. He wanted to be like the other kids—wanted to skin his knees and giggle about crushes and trade lunches in the classroom. He wanted to write on the chalkboard and pass notes and complain about homework. But his mother had shook her head—it was because he was special, because he was rare, or unique. 

How?” He shouted. How am I special? How am I unique?” 

The spirits had been answering this question for years. Now Jimin was finally ready to listen. Jimin’s mother found him like that, light streaming from his body, eyes fixed wondrously on the whimsical spirits that had taken shape just for him, drawn to the welcoming frequency of his soul. 

His mother sat down next to him, helped him shut off the connection. They’ve always been there, sweetie,” she said softly. And they will continue to be there, for as long as you need them.” 

This was why Jimin couldn’t do Seokjin’s kind of magic. He couldn’t summon wind or levitate objects or turn water into juice. He had his own magic—soul magic, it was once called. Spirit magic. His grandfather told him of their history, of how people and the beings of this earth once lived in harmony—the humans would ask for as much as they needed, and in return, they would give the spirits something of theirs. It was equal payment. But there is deep pain on his grandfather’s face, and the story stops. 

Jimin remembered hearing the rest of it from his mother over a year later, after his grandfather slipped away peacefully in his sleep. Her eyes were tired and her hair had gone grey, but her words were strong as she recounts bits and pieces: the Old Council, limited by their internal finite magic—wells, she called them. People who practiced soul magic, unlimited as long as the price was paid, fearing for their lives. And for good reason, too: the Old Council had tried and failed to take their gift from them and hundreds of other witches. 

So Jimin is alone in this world, the only one left of his kind. His mother not touched her magic in so long that it has dwindled; his grandfather is dead. 

He talks with the spirits, mostly. And, just as his mother promised, they always answer when he calls. 

 


 

“Well-users,” Seokjin offers as the last of Jimin’s words fade from Yoongi’s arm. 98% of the witch population is comprised of well-users. That’s the internal magic Jimin mentioned.” 

Jimin is quiet. Yoongi can sense a sort of sadness around him, but knows it’s not his business. Instead he turns to Seokjin. So your council killed everyone that wasn’t a…well-user?” 

Seokjin’s brow wrinkles. The Old Council did that. They were power-hungry and greedy. The High Council would never do such a thing. We believe in the equal protection and well-being of all witches.” 

Yoongi massages his forehead, brain backlogged with information. I’m having a really difficult time here,” he mutters. Are you expecting me to just…accept this? That there’s actually real live magic and people that use it?” 

No, Jimin says. 

“Yes,” Seokjin states at the same time. 

Yoongi scowls darkly. I don’t think my brain likes knowing about magic.”  

The bunny’s ears twitch. I don’t really think your brain has much of a choice. 

Yoongi jumps. Can you not?” 

Aww, we scare him, the ninetails purrs. Why, don’t like hearing voices? 

Seokjin gives Yoongi a curious look. What are they saying?” 

“Rude shit,” Yoongi grumbles. Is there any way either of you could make them go away? Or shut them up, at least?” He rubs at his chest. His heart rate has picked up again, and the same uncomfortable warmth is building in his chest. His fingers twitch, sweat prickling at the back of his neck.

A tiny wrinkle forms between Seokjin’s eyebrows. I don’t know anything about spirits,” he starts slowly, as it’s an almost-extinct branch of magic.” Seokjin turns to Yoongi’s arm—something that’s really fucking weird and is hopefully something he won’t have to get used to—and nods at Jimin’s handwriting. Jimin? Is there anything we can do? How did you get on there in the first place?” 

I panicked, Jimin says, matching words appearing on Yoongi’s arm. I knew something was off Friday morning, so I left early to try to shake them.

“That’s why I couldn’t find you,” Seokjin says quietly. Why didn’t you tell me anything?” 

I didn’t want you to worry, Jimin says, and there’s something like guilt, or shame, in his voice. I thought I’d confront them and figure out who they were. But they cornered me Friday night. And I-- 

Jimin stops here. Yoongi can hear him getting upset, and heat starts to simmer under his skin as a result. God damn, is this what it’s going to be like all the time? He feels like he’s on the verge of combustion. 

I don’t remember anything else, Jimin says, more subdued. But they shot me with something and I could feel my magic shutting down. All I remember is freaking out and casting it as far out as I could. It was that same alley that you were in, Yoongi-ssi. 

Yoongi starts at the use of his name and Seokjin turns to him, eyes sharp. Do you remember anything, then? Did you see Jiminnie? Or the faces of the attackers?” 

“No,” Yoongi sighs defeatedly. I already told you ten times, Seokjin-ah. I was drunk. I just heard shouting.” 

“Hey, don’t get informal with me,” Seokjin says, the same angry expression from before flickering briefly over his face.

Based on what I know about my magic, Jimin says hurriedly, trying to diffuse the tension, I probably disconnected my consciousness from my body. People like me used to do it all the time. It let them walk on the same plane as the spirits. 

“Except you’ve got no body to return to,” Yoongi says dryly. And you’re stuck on my arm.” 

Which is why I don’t know how to get back, Jimin replies. I’ve never heard of spirits turning into tattoos. It’s dangerous to keep them in a human body for too long—we’re not meant to hold on to that kind of magic. 

“What’s he saying?” Seokjin demands, leaning forward to grab Yoongi’s arm. But as soon as his fingers make contact with Yoongi’s skin, the pressure that’s been gradually building in his chest reaches a breaking point. 

Gonzales the bunny says something in what Yoongi thinks is Spanish. There’s a delighted laugh that sounds like the ninetails—Akane, was it—and other, much quieter voices titter worriedly. 

Yoongi figures out why a second later when something in him shoves. Seokjin barely gets his hands up in time and Yoongi’s ears pop in the vacuum that’s created as a result. 

Sweat runs down the back of his neck and his hands shake as he gasps down air. What…was that?” He pants. 

That’s us, Gonzales grumbles. We’re stuck on you, remember? You’re not supposed to have this much magic pooling inside of you. You’re not built for it. 

We might even get to see you combust! Akane squeals. That’d be so much fun! 

Expensive to clean up, the Monopoly Man spirit adds. 

Are you okay? Jimin asks, but Yoongi’s got other problems because Seokjin’s lowering his arms. Yoongi flinches and braces for impact, but Seokjin only sighs. 

“I didn’t realize,” he starts, sounding apologetic. I forgot you’re not built to hold magic. You’re leaking all over the place. Do you feel feverish?” 

Yoongi holds up his trembling hands as an answer. He belatedly realizes that his right arm is glowing a little bit. 

“You’re lucky I absorbed that,” Seokjin says. Or else this building wouldn’t exist anymore. Here, let’s go out onto the balcony and I can help.” 

“Why is this happening?” Yoongi says, getting up and following Seokjin on unsteady legs. He wipes away sweat before it can get into his eyes.  

“When witches are born,” Seokjin says, opening the sliding door, the first thing their parents do is get protective wards placed on them. It stops magic from leaking out, and also prevents it from tearing the child apart before they can learn how to control it.” 

“So you’re saying I’m the equivalent of a baby witch?” Yoongi asks flatly. 

“Yes,” Seokjin responds, and rubs his hands together. They start to glow with the same light coming from Yoongi’s arm. Luckily, the spirits’ magic seems to have created a temporary well, so it should be relatively easy to ward.” 

Seokjin reaches out before Yoongi can react and presses his hands to the sides of Yoongi’s neck. A jolt runs up Yoongi’s spine, followed by ice. The thing in his chest gradually quiets, and the frenetic energy that was previously boiling in his blood fades. 

Exhaustion hits him like a ton of bricks as soon as Seokjin removes his hands. He catches himself before his knees can give out, fortunately, and stumbles back into the house to collapse on the couch. Seokjin follows, a wry smile on his face. 

“Better?” He asks knowingly.

Aww, Akane whines, nine tails flicking. We were gonna have so much fun. 

Exploding isn’t fun, the Monopoly Man says, reaching up and poking the ninetails with his cane. You know what is fun? Making money. 

Akane makes a swipe at the Monopoly Man. 

Such a narrow mind, B. Gates, she simpers. You pixui are all the same—money, money money. 

“B. Gates?” Yoongi asks in confusion, trying the English name out. What? Like Bill Gates?” 

Because Bill Gates is rich, Gonzales tells him. But it’s best not to get involved. Those two will bicker until the end of time. 

Temperature has dropped back to 37.7 celsius, the sly voice reports. Yoongi thinks it’s the snake, but it could also be the black cat, or the tree pattern on his shoulder, or the ornate faces right below it. 

Seokjin stands, brushing himself off. Honestly, the best thing to help you adjust would be food.” 

Yoongi snorts weakly from the couch. You’re lucky I just bought groceries today. But they’re still in my car.” 

Seokjin sighs and picks Yoongi’s keys off the counters.  

“I’d do it but I can’t walk,” Yoongi points out, unable to help the smug grin on his face. They’re in the trunk.” 

“The what? ” Seokjin asks, eyebrows pulling together. 

Yoongi gestures vaguely. You know. The trunk. The back part of the car. Just press the little button with the car symbol on it.” 

Seokjin still looks very confused. Have you ever driven before?” Yoongi asks, exasperated. 

“Most witches don’t know how to drive,” Seokjin tells him. We don’t have a need for it. Only the very poor or the ordinary-loving do it. Oh, and Hoseok. But he’s weird and we don’t use him for examples.” 

“Okay,” Yoongi says slowly. Well, good luck. I’m sure Mrs. Do will help you.” 

“I’ll be fine,” Seokjin sniffs, storming out the front door. 

I can’t believe Seokjin is going to cook for you, Jimin says sadly. I want him to cook for me. 

“You’ll get your body back soon enough,” Yoongi tells him. Honestly, with a little hocus-pocus and the robe-wearing magic man you’ll be fine.” 

I don’t think it’s that simple, Jimin says. Especially since I have no idea where my body is. I’m pretty sure it was kidnapped. 

“We established that, yeah,” Yoongi says. 

I don’t like it here either, Akane says haughtily, swishing her tails. So dull. There’s no excitement. 

No money, either, B. Gates adds, spinning his hat in his hands.

Both of you have awful definitions of fun and I can’t believe I’m stuck on some human’s arm with the both of you, Gonzales the bunny huffs angrily. 

There’s faint tittering in response. The shadow hands sign something angrily and his whole arm erupts into motion, flashing colors and changing shape. 

Yoongi closes his eyes, a little nauseous from watching it. 

I don’t think I apologized, Jimin says softly over the constant chattering that Yoongi is trying and failing to tune out. 

“Don’t,” Yoongi says with more heat than he intends. Don’t apologize for something that isn’t your fault. That’s not fair to you.” 

Okay, Jimin says after a moment of hesitation. I’m sorry that you got dragged into this without wanting to. 

“Yeah, I’m a little overwhelmed here,” Yoongi mutters. Goddamn, where’s the magic man?” 

Seokjin bursts through the door at that exact moment, carrying both bags of groceries. Speak of the devil, Yoongi thinks wryly, and you’ll get a magical council member instead. 

It’s thrilling, honestly. Who wouldn’t want their home to be invaded by a representative for a community that he didn’t even know existed until about— two fucking hours ago? 

“It’s ten thirty,” Yoongi says in disbelief. What the—can you control time?” He demands of Seokjin, who’s got his lips pursed in distaste as he unloads prepackaged kimchi, instant ramen and Namjoon’s fucking Milkis. 

“Of course not,” Seokjin says, rolling his eyes like it’s obvious. That’s impossible.” 

“That’s impossible. Of course it fucking is,” Yoongi grumbles, flopping backwards on the couch. How could I not know that?” 

Seokjin, unfortunately, picks up on his sarcasm and gives him a sharp look. You’re lucky that you’ve got Jimin there, or I would have left you in the street.” 

Yoongi definitely believes him. He wouldn’t put it past Seokjin to smash him through a couple walls just to prove his point. 

“Do you have anything besides ramen?” He asks despairingly, pulling out a pack of beer and—surprise, surprise—more fucking ramen. Yoongi’s too lazy to cook anything, and Namjoon’s a goddamn hazard to anything with a five-mile radius, so cooking is a no-go for both of them. 

“Probably not,” Yoongi says blandly. Ramen’s fine with me.” 

“There is so much sodium in these,” Seokjin says crossly. They’re so bad for you.” 

“Delicious,” Yoongi says sarcastically. I love sodium.” 

Seokjin gives him another increasingly-familiar exasperated look. I suppose this’ll have to do.” 

“Can’t you just toss some magic spices in there, and tah-dah, ramen?” Yoongi asks, and snickers. He’s hilarious, honestly. Seokjin’s only not laughing because he’s a bad sport. 

Seokjin sighs. That wasn’t even funny.” 

“Totally was,” Yoongi argues, rolling his over the back of the couch. It’s fine if you didn’t get it. I don’t even think you know what a sense of humor is.” 

Be careful, Jimin says. Seokjin’s very proud of his sense of humor. You just don’t see it because he’s saltier than the ramen he’s making you. 

“Jimin’s talking to you again, isn’t he?” Seokjin asks, narrowing his eyes. I’m hope I don’t have to get used to that. I want to hear his voice.” 

“He’s aww-ing at you right now,” Yoongi says. He thinks you’re being sweet.” 

Seokjin smiles, and Yoongi’s once again struck by how nice his face is when he doesn’t look like he’s about to break Yoongi’s ribs. 

Their one pot is on the stove and Seokjin fills it with water. But before Yoongi can start to explain how the stove works—not that he’s going to get up, because he’s pretty sure his knees will give out if he tries and he’s quite comfy on the couch, thank you very much—Seokjin just snaps his fingers and the water is boiling in an instant, steam rising from the pot. 

Yoongi’s eyes so wide. Seokjin grins at him. It said instant,” he says innocently, shrugging. And I’m not about to attempt to figure out that uselessly complicated contraption,” he adds, pointing at the stove. 

Yoongi fumbles for his phone, which is still miraculously in one piece after the fight.  

You can thank B. Gates for that, Gonzales tells Yoongi. He’s very proud of doing a good job. 

“Oh, uh,” Yoongi starts awkwardly, looking down at the Mr. Monopoly Man tattoo. Thanks, B. Gates. For protecting my phone.” 

B. Gates’ face splits into a silly grin. I like to protect investments! He announces proudly. It saves money! I help you save money! 

Yoongi turns his phone on as Seokjin opens instant ramen packets and dumps them into the water. 

He’s got three text messages and two missed calls from Namjoon: 

 

namjoon: hey hyung I’ll be done with work in an hour 

namjoon: are you alright? you didn’t answer any of my calls

namjoon: yoongi? I’m getting worried now. 

 

The last one was sent about twenty minutes ago, and Yoongi hurries to respond before Namjoon can do something irrational like call the police or the national guard to soothe his worry. 

 

yoongi: Namjoon-ah. I’m fine. My phone died. I’m at home. 

namjoon: thank GOD what if you’d been kidnapped? there was that crazy rainstorm earlier I was afraid you’d drowned 

yoongi: Joon-ah, that’s impossible. 

namjoon: BUT YOU CAN’T SWIM. phones dying i’ll see you later bye 

 

“Seokjin-ssi,” Yoongi says, nearly dropping his phone. My roommate’s coming home soon.” 

“What?” Seokjin asks, voice getting high as his eyes go wide. Right now?” 

“I think,” Yoongi says, hyperventalting a little bit. I mean, he’s normal and he doesn’t know about the tattoo or about why I’m bruised as hell or—hey, are you the one that’s making it rain right now?” Sure enough, dark clouds have gathered in a number of seconds and are currently dumping rain. What’s even stranger is that it seems to just be over their block. 

Seokjin pinches the bridge of his nose and huffs. You’re stressing me out. Normally I can control it but sometimes it gets out of hand and weather is affected—” 

There’s the sound of a key turning in a lock and the door is flung open to reveal Yoongi’s soaked roommate. 

Yoongi makes a noise in between a shout and a scream and dives over the back of the couch, pulling his arm into his shirt to hide it. A jolt of pain runs through his tender ribs as he makes contact with the ground, trying to muffle his grunt of pain.

“Oh, hyung,” Namjoon’s voice says. Wow. Um, are you alright?” 

“I’m fine!” Yoongi says hurriedly, scooting along the floor towards his room, staying low. If he can just reach the door before Namjoon sees him and has to ask— 

“Jesus, hyung,” Namjoon says, poking his head around the couch. What’d you do to yourself?” 

Yoongi grits his teeth, composing himself. Fucking Namjoon and his goddamn heart of gold. How dare he try to check up on Yoongi. 

“I fell,” he says shortly, and continues his legless journey towards his room. 

“Is that why you’ve got an arm in your shirt?” Namjoon asks, and Yoongi can hear the confusion in his voice, which is a Really Bad Thing in Yoongi’s book. A curious Namjoon equals a Namjoon that will literally research himself to fucking death to get the answer to something. 

“Leave me to my misery, Joon-ah,” Yoongi says, unable to stop it from sounding deadpan.

Namjoon turns around. Woah, hey. Did you know there’s a random guy in our kitchen?” 

Yoongi sighs. You just noticed that?” 

“I had other things to notice,” Namjoon points out. Like you suddenly interested in expending energy and vaulting over the back of the sofa.” 

Yoongi finally makes it to his room and slams the door in Namjoon’s face before he can do anything stupid like pull Yoongi’s arm out of his shirt or ask another dumb question. He can almost hear Namjoon’s confusion through the door but ignores him, getting to his feet shakily and changing his short-sleeve out for a long-sleeve.  

Namjoon’s waiting patiently outside of his door when he opens it again. 

“Oh look, he’s standing!” Namjoon cheers, and Yoongi shoves past him, disgruntled. He’s glad his sweatpants hide the shakiness of his knees. He still feels like he’s been run over by a bus. 

Are you going to tell him? Gonzales asks from somewhere under his sleeve. 

He can’t, Jimin answers. Ordinaries aren’t allowed to know about the witch community. 

“--I’m in town from Seoul,” Seokjin is saying when Yoongi refocuses on the conversation. 

“He’s my brother-in-law—” Yoongi starts, but Seokjin jumps in with a panicked look. 

“His cousin, he means, but we met when I was dating his friend’s brother-in-law,” Seokjin interjects. 

Namjoon looks at them blankly. Then he turns to Yoongi, blinking a little. He’s your cousin?” 

Distant cousin,” Yoongi emphasis. Very distant. Sometimes not distant enough.” 

Behind Namjoon’s back, Seokjin gives him a cold look. 

“Are you cold, Namjoon-ssi ?” Seokjin asks politely. 

“Ah, no need to be formal,” Namjoon says easily. Any family of Yoongi’s is welcome here, and I’m probably younger than you anyways.” 

“Then same here,” Seokjin replies, face relaxing. I’m not a big fan of formal speech either.” 

Yoongi watches them grin at each other for a second, amazed. Why is it that Seokjin’s only bitter towards him? Is it because he’s got Jimin on his arm? 

It’s Namjoon’s secret charisma, he thinks, nodding to himself. Namjoon’s like a puppy. Everyone loves puppies. 

Yoongi clears his throat and Seokjin’s face closes down a little bit. He seems to remember that Namjoon’s an ordinary human being and that he’s got a pot of ramen in one hand because he steps back, looking guarded. 

“Do you want some ramen?” Seokjin asks. 

“Sure,” Namjoon responds. But I really can’t stay because I’ve got the clinic and research to do on Socratic analyses.” 

Don’t ask, Yoongi mouths to Seokjin, who narrows his eyes at the threatening look Yoongi gives him.

“Yoongi-yah,” Seokjin says instead, the honorific falsely sweet, where are the bowls?” 

“Right above your head, hyung, ” Yoongi shoots back, pasting a gummy smile on his face as Seokjin pulls down all of their bowls. 

You only own three bowls? Jimin asks. Wow, I didn’t know ordinaries lived so frugally. 

“Not frugal, just broke,” Yoongi mutters under his breath, glad that Namjoon isn’t paying attention. 

I can help you save money! B. Gates chimes in helpfully. Money is good. 

We’ve established this, honey, Akane mocks. But it’s not as good as, say, ducking under the crossing guard onto the train tracks, doesn’t that sound like a good idea-- 

Gonzales says something violent in Spanish. Akane, idiota, if Yoongi dies then we’ll die too. You know what that means, right? Todos mueren. Got it? 

You don’t have to say it in Spanish, Akane says snidely. I was just suggesting-- 

Yoongi slaps at his arm lightly and the voices quiet. For fuck’s sake. He’s never going to be able to focus on anything again. 

“I heard Yoongi say something about the weather?” Namjoon asks, and Yoongi sees his chance. 

“Seokjin’s a meteorologist,” Yoongi jumps in before Seokjin can say anything, smirking at him. 

“I have to put my good looks to use somehow,” Seokjin responds airily, smirking back. TV seemed like the best option.” 

Namjoon’s surveying Seokjin with pursed lips like he’s trying not to smile. Yoongi rolls his eyes; it’s Namjoon’s wow-I-just-realized-they-were-attractive face. Yoongi plants his hands onto Namjoon’s back and pushes him bodily out of the room before Namjoon can say something stupid or drop his bowl of ramen on Seokjin’s robe-but-not outfit. 

“Alright,” Yoongi says firmly. That’s enough socializing with my dear cousin.” 

Namjoon looks a little crestfallen, but Seokjin waves cheerily to him. I’ll be around for a while,” he tells Namjoon right before Yoongi shoves Namjoon in his own room and closes the door on him. 

He turns around to face Seokjin. Don’t encourage him. He’s not allowed to get involved in this,” Yoongi hisses. 

Seokjin’s warm expression freezes in place. I know that,” Seokjin says coldly. I helped review that law. Which, might I add, has been in place for centuries.” 

“Don’t play with him,” Yoongi threatens. It’s not fair. He doesn’t deserve to get his heart broken.” 

“I’m not going to do anything,” Seokjin informs Yoongi, a little softer. I promise. I’m not that kind of guy.” 

Hyung’s a good person, Jimin says quietly. He’s really warm and has a good humor if you let him open up. 

Yoongi almost snorts out loud. Open up. Right. Kim Seokjin will exit his life as abruptly as he entered it and Yoongi will coast out of this mess after it’s solved. He has no need for pleasantries or making friends with the guy that nearly put him through a fucking brick wall. 

Seokjin watches Yoongi’s face closely, and, when it yields nothing, sighs. For the first time all night, he looks exhausted, face pale under his dark hair, hands dry and a little shaky around his chopsticks. 

“I just want Jiminie back,” Seokjin admits quietly, so low Yoongi almost misses it. I want him back safe. I want to know who’s behind this.” 

See? Jimin says, voice touched with an emotion Yoongi can’t place—pride, maybe? Warm. 

“Shut up,” he whispers. He picks up the bowl of ramen Seokjin’s served him and sits down at the table. 

“Do you…” Yoongi starts awkwardly, not sure how to talk Seokjin without snapping at him. Do you know where we’d start?” 

“I have a couple people I can ask about connections to the kidnapping,” Seokjin says thoughtfully, tapping his fingers on his chin. But I know nothing about soul magic, so I have no idea where to start regarding that.” 

“I’ll look some stuff up on my computer tomorrow,” Yoongi offers, inwardly cringing when Seokjin turns to him, smiling hopefully. That is. If you’d like.” 

“That would be very helpful,” Seokjin says. Thanks. I know you want that tattoo off as much as I want Jimin home.” 

Yoongi tries not to pay attention to the hum of voices in the background, a constant noise that he’ll have to get used to.

“You have no idea,” he says, a smile threatening the corners of his mouth when Seokjin lets out a surprisingly full-bodied laugh. 

They don’t talk much for the rest of the meal. The ramen, Yoongi has to admit, is pretty delicious—magic spices for the win—and Seokjin leaves on a more positive note than Yoongi expected, seeing as just this evening he’d had three ribs broken (and then healed, as Jimin reminds him when he’s brushing his teeth) by the guy. 

Yoongi’s a little awkward about changing—Jimin’s so close to him, voice right in his ear like he’s standing behind Yoongi—but insecurity is overrun by bone-melting exhaustion. 

He just barely catches the soft goodnight from Jimin before he’s out like a light, sleep finally taking hold. 


Sunday morning he wakes up with a familiar sadness lingering over him and tear tracks dried on his cheeks. 

He’d dreamed of his grandmother, as he has for almost every night since she’d died. Sometimes he remembers his dreams, sometimes he doesn’t. Either way, he wakes up with the same feeling every morning, with a throbbing in his chest like his heart knows it’s missing something.  

It’s eleven in the morning and he hasn’t had a moment to himself in so long that he decides Sundays were made for staying in bed all day so that’s what he does, and goes back to sleep. 

He’s woken again by the sound of voices, murmuring quietly in his ear. He cracks his eyes open—it’s nearly one now and he finally has the strength to push himself up, still a little shaky and a lot sore from yesterday. 

“Ow, fuck,” he complains, listening to the vertebrae in his back crack as he stretches. The voices quiet immediately, before Jimin breaks in quietly. 

Yoongi-ssi? He asks tentatively. Are you alright? 

“I’m fine,” Yoongi answers, reveling in the quiet of the apartment. I feel infinitely better now.” 

Sleep balances magic, Jimin says. When I first started using my magic, I used to sleep for thirteen or fourteen hours at a time. 

“Sounds incredible ,” Yoongi comments, leaning back against his headboard and pulling the sleeve of pajama shirt up so he can see his forearm. Gonzales flicks his ears in greeting. 

Good morning, Gonzales says. Or I guess it’s good afternoon , now. It’s good you’re rested up, kid. 

“Don’t call me kid,” Yoongi grumbles. You’re a tattoo.” 

Not just a tattoo, chiquito. I’m centuries old. I’ve been guiding the drunks and the vengeful and the misplaced for longer than your family has been in Korea, Gonzales says, but he doesn’t sound offended, only amused. Me, being here on your arm? Just a blip on my radar. 

Akane scoffs from somewhere under Yoongi’s sleeve. He likes to brag, she says haughtily. He might be older, but I’m much more powerful. I can change form, even as ink. 

Yoongi startles and pulls aside the shoulder of his shirt. Sure enough, the ninetails is gone and replaced with the likeness of a young woman in a silver kimono, long dark hair not quite covering mischievous, intelligent eyes.  

“You can’t do that when people are looking,” Yoongi orders her, not liking the smirk that curls at the woman’s lips. Actually, none of you can move at all. Or I’ll be dissected by the government, or whatever they do to freakshows.” 

Hey, Jimin cuts in. Please don’t use that word. We’ve worked hard to lighten the stigma magic carries in the ordinary world. 

Yoongi scoffs, but feels a little guilty. Sorry,” he mumbles, and then leans for his laptop, resting on his bedside table.  

Not a problem, Jimin replies lightly and Yoongi wouldn’t be lying if he said the proximity of Jimin’s voice made him a little uncomfortable. It was intimate—maybe a little too intimate, if he was being honest. 

“I, um, don’t know how to ask this,” Yoongi stumbles, rubbing the back of his neck. But, um, could you back up, or something?” 

Oh! Jimin says quickly, and his voice moves away from Yoongi’s ear. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you an uncomfortable, it’s a bad habit I have and it must be even worse now that—now that my body’s gone. 

He’s still close enough that Yoongi can hear him choking on the last words, and guilt nails him right in the stomach again. He’s been so focused on himself, on his own pain and being plunged into a world he didn’t know could even exist that he’d forgotten Jimin’s own suffering. The poor guy had been hunted down and had been forced to literally evacuate his own fucking body, only to be stuck on Yoongi’s arm with no solution in sight. 

Yoongi opens his laptop. The least he can do is start looking on ways to get Jimin’s body back. 

Whoa, he hears Jimin say, and his voice crowds back in. What’s that? 

“My computer?” Yoongi asks, confused. Do you not know what they are?” 

I’ve read about them, Jimin says, awed. I’ve never seen one. Can you really find any information with the click of a button

With that strange thing? Akane laughs. No way. 

“Gonzales,” Yoongi says, turning to the bunny tattoo. What did you say you were?” 

A Salvadoran cadejo, chiquito. Though I did spend a century in Mexico looking after a family of alcoholic criminals. They were all pieces of work, every single one of them. 

Yoongi types salvadoran guide spirit into the search bar and scrolls through results until he gets to a page in English that looks promising. After running it through his computer’s translation program, he scrolls through the article. 

“’A protector of drunkards, grudge-holders and people on the wrong path’?” Yoongi asks, raising an eyebrow. 

Hey, chiquito, I’m the reason you got home in one piece on Friday. Without me, you’d probably be in the streets still. Maybe even dead, Gonzales tells him.

Lots of fun things come out at night! Akane says excitedly. Little things with button eyes and old things with misleading lights and pretty things waiting to be kissed by pretty boys like you. 

“You’re so fucking bizarre,” Yoongi tells her after a moment of letting her words sink in. Why do you always want me to die?” 

Not death, Akane says petulantly. Just…misfortune. Mischief. Your death would be incredibly inconvenient. 

Yoongi blinks for a moment. I’m…touched? I think?” 

A bank? B. Gates shouts excitedly. I love banks! Also, did you know there’s a twenty-thousand won stuck in between your mattress and your headboard? 

Yoongi sticks his hand in the place B. Gates had described—and lo-and-fucking-behold, there’s a bill in his fist when he opens it. 

“You can sniff out money?” He asks B. Gates, pulling his sleeve up higher so he can see the Monopoly Man. 

I like money! B. Gates answers simply. Money makes you better!

It doesn’t, trust me. I’m a doctor, the snake adds snidely for the first time in a while. Your injuries are looking much better. I’d watch the concussion, though. Drink more fluids.

The black cat peeks out from the snake’s coils, and the roses on his fingers and the leaves on his chest and shoulder ruffle in an unseen breeze.  

The snake’s from Hermes’ caduceus, Gonzales tells Yoongi, who has to lie back down to stop himself from getting dizzy. It’s re-hit him that yes, he’s got fucking magical, talking spirits trapped on his actual goddamn arm, not to mention an actual human boy who can cast magic to talk to these guys. 

“Okay, can we just,” Yoongi says, gesturing vaguely, stop? For a second? I need to catch my breath again. This is all of a sudden too much.” 

He fights of impending panic as the walls threaten to close in on him. 

Sorry, Jimin says—god, he says that way too often—and starts to retreat. 

“No,” Yoongi blurts before he can help himself. No,” he repeats, quieter. You…stay. Please.” 

O-okay, Jimin stutters, clearly taken by surprise. Guys, give him some space. He’s ordinary. He’s still adjusting. 

Yoongi takes a couple breaths through his nose, the same way his grandmother used to, sitting under her blankets with her bitter tea, waiting out a lightning storm. 

He focuses on Jimin’s breathing, of all things. He doesn’t know why, but it helps, the calm and steady inhale-exhale soothing his own heart. 

My mom used to have panic attacks, Jimin says, and it feels real and almost too loud in the silence of the house (where’s Namjoon when you need him, honestly). That was the price she paid so she could have me. Her mental stability. 

“It runs in my family,” Yoongi tells Jimin, thinking he should say something in response. The feeling of revealing parts of him is itchy and uncomfortable, but it’s easier than normal because Jimin doesn’t have a face for Yoongi to watch, and he seems to be a good listener. My grandmother was probably the worst. She, um…” Yoongi trails off here, feeling stupid when a wave of grief crashes over him again. She died. He bites these last words out. They sting less if he just rips the band-aid off in one go. 

I’m sorry, Jimin says, and unlike most people, Yoongi gets the feeling that he means it. He really is sorry. And maybe—maybe he’s felt what Yoongi’s feeling. Maybe he gets it. 

Yoongi shakes that off notion as soon as it arises. She was pretty cool. I stayed in this fucking psycho-town for her, you know. She was one of those crazy locals—put the goddamn milk in the bowls for the sprites or whatever you guys call em, hiked up to that stupid temple every Saturday with persimmons, thanked the water spirits for rain, you know the rest.” Yoongi thinks briefly of her journal, hidden away in his desk drawer. She went a little south at the end. But at least I know she had a reason for the rest of it.” 

People here usually do, Jimin muses. They see more than they should. It’s the magic that lingers, I think. Old magic. Good magic. 

“Explains why Namjoon’s such a goddamn weirdo,” Yoongi mutters. 

Your roommate? 

“Yeah. He’s always been superstitious. Goes on and on about windows and wind and karma.” 

He’s not wrong, you know, Jimin reminds him. It sounds like he’s almost laughing at Yoongi, that little fucker. 

“I know,” Yoongi says crossly, but he can’t help the fond smile that pulls at his lips. And that’s why I’m pissed. Namjoon’s always right.” 

Jimin really laughs this time, an actual sound. It’s surprisingly full-bodied for someone that, well, doesn’t have a body. And it’s sweet, too. Cute, even. 

Yoongi immediately banishes that particular thought to whatever abyss it rose from. Not fucking today, thank you very much. 

Yoongi-ssi, Jimin says, you’re funnier than you let on, you know? And way sweeter, too. 

“I’ve been caught,” Yoongi deadpans. Then, more seriously, he adds, if you’re not centuries old like Gonzales—” 

I can hear you, chiquito, even though I’m not talking. 

“--you can just call me hyung, if you’d like.” 

Really? Jimin asks excitedly. Are you sure? 

“Hey,” Yoongi says, batting at the air where it sounds like Jimin is. Would I offer if I wasn’t serious?” 

I dunno, hyung, Jimin says, and he sounds so happy that Yoongi can’t help but laugh. Maybe. You’re a real jokester, aren’t you? 

“Finally someone who appreciates my humor,” Yoongi responds, and goddamn, his face is actually starting to hurt from smiling so much. What the fuck. 

But the sadness from this morning has gone. And maybe that has something to do with Park Jimin.  

Either way, it’s more than he’s laughed in a long time, so he’ll take it. 


Namjoon comes home that night with jjajangmyeon   and immediately asks about Kim Seokjin. 

“I have no idea where he went,” Yoongi tells Namjoon irritably. 

“Do you have his cell phone number?” Namjoon asks, poking at his noodles with his chopsticks. 

“Uh,” Yoongi stalls. He’s not sure how the High Council communicates, but it’s probably not with cell phones, for fuck’s sake. He’s getting a new one, so you won’t be able to reach him.” 

“This is all sounding very convenient,” Namjoon points out, watching serenely as Yoongi chokes on his food, floundering for an excuse. 

“It’s not,” Yoongi coughs, thinking of the tattoo hidden under his hoodie. Trust me, it’s the exact opposite of convenienent.” 

There’s a lot of arguing from the spirits at this that Yoongi decidedly ignores. 

“Have you heard from Jackson recently?” Namjoon asks, gratefully changing the subject. 

“Yeah, he texted me this morning,” Yoongi says. We have class together tomorrow at nine. Why?” 

“He and Yugyeom want to come over next weekend,” Namjoon says, finishing his beer. For movie night.” 

“We haven’t had movie night in forever,” Yoongi comments. Damn, it’s been…six months?” 

“You haven’t really wanted to,” Namjoon says, chewing thoughtfully. Not since your—” 

He pauses here, glancing awkwardly at Yoongi. 

“You can say it,” Yoongi tells him gruffly. It’s not like you’ll be struck dead if you do.” 

“Not since your grandmother passed away,” Namjoon finishes, with another concerned glance at Yoongi. 

Yoongi picks out Jimin’s breathing from the background and times his own to it, the stinging in his eyes receding as he does so. A second later he goes back to eating as if nothing had happened, missing the impressed look from Namjoon. 

They finish their dinner in silence, opting to dump the dishes in the sink instead of washing them. Namjoon locks the doors and says goodnight. Yoongi goes to bed soon after, double-checking the windows before he collapses into bed and tilts sideways into sleep. 

He wakes up on day three with his tattoo sleeve, ribs aching and eyes grimy. The roses have shut tight again, for whatever reason, and the snake gives him an update on his ribs and his body temperature, which has dropped back down to normal thanks to whatever hocus-pocus Seokjin put on him. 

Speaking of Seokjin, he’s somehow broken into Yoongi’s house and is currently cooking breakfast— motherfucking breakfast— in the kitchen like he’s Yoongi’s mom. 

“What the actual fuck are you doing here?” Yoongi blurts when he sees Seokjin, clad in a t-shirt and suit jacket and standing at the stove—which he’s managed to figure out, thank god—preparing eggs and rice.

“We need to talk,” Seokjin informs him, not even bothering to turn around. I have information.” 

“Oh, brilliant,” Yoongi fumes, throwing himself into the chair. How the hell did you even get in here?” 

Seokjin gives him an amused look. Do you think ordinary locks can stop me?” 

Yoongi rolls his eyes. Wow. Lemme just get down on my knees and bow to you, great and powerful home invader—” 

“No need,” Seokjin quips. I already know how great I am.” 

There’s a bubble of laughter in his ear. Ah. Jimin’s awake. Yoongi fights back embarrassment as the memory of their unexpectedly intimate conversation comes flooding back. 

“Anyway,” Seokjin says, clearing his throat as humor fades from his face. I contacted a guy—” 

“Sounds shady,” Yoongi comments.  

“--and he says he’ll look into Jimin’s body being kidnapped. As for actually getting him back into his body, he says to start at the library,” Seokjin finishes, ignoring Yoongi entirely. 

“The university library?” Yoongi asks, brow furrowing. I’m pretty sure we don’t have stuff on spiritual possession in there—” 

“Not the big library,” Seokjin corrects. He said the local library. Though I can’t say I’ve been to either of them.” 

Yoongi’s not sure why he’s even surprised. Why, do you have your own special witch library?” 

“Of course,” Seokjin replies. But it’s only legal documents and information about magic from the last century. Nothing about Jimin’s branch.” 

They burned all of those books, Jimin tells Yoongi quietly. Don’t tell Seokjin I said that, though. He still gets upset. He’s only been a High Council member for three years. The oldest has been there for ninety years now and the second youngest has been there for ten. 

Yoongi surveys Seokjin while he fumbles around in their sparse kitchen, digesting this piece of information. 

“Do you have any plates?” Seokjin asks, turning around with a displeased look on his face. 

“No,” Yoongi says. Just bowls. Three of them, to be exact.” 

“Do you mean to tell me,” Seokjin says, pinching the bridge of his nose and squeezing his eyes shut, that you have three bowls, two pots, a half-melted spatula, a couple of chopsticks and some spoons—and that’s it?” 

Yoongi shrugs. Again, Joon and I don’t cook.” 

On cue, Namjoon emerges from his room, looking well-put together for the first time in a long time. 

“Hi hyung,” he greets Seokjin cheerfully. Awesome, you can cook? Yoongi doesn’t let me and Jackson took away all of the dangerous stuff.” 

“Because you’re a menace, Joon-ah,” Yoongi says dryly, then checks his watch. Shit, I’m late. I’ll be back around eleven.” 

“I’ll be here,” Seokjin replies sweetly, ignoring the death glare Yoongi sends him. Don’t worry. We can talk about that thing I mentioned earlier, alright?” 

“Fine,” Yoongi grumbles, and slams out of the house. 

Seokjin turns to Namjoon. Is he always like that?” 

Namjoon shrugs. Most of the time. But don’t let him fool you. He’s a big softie.” 

“I got the feeling that he might be,” Seokjin hums. He pretends not to notice the critical look Namjoon’s giving him, like he’s trying to figure Seokjin out. By the way, do you know anything about the local library?” 

“Sure,” Namjoon says, handing Seokjin the pathetic spatula when he sticks his hand out for it. Why, you interested in our history?” 

“You could say that,” Seokjin says, chuckling. I heard there’s a lot of magic here. I thought I’d do some research while I’m in town.” 

Namjoon’s eyes go wide with excitement that nudges at Seokjin’s heart. Yoongi doesn’t believe in it,” Namjoon tells Seokjin. He’s so quick to scorn it. He laughs at all the locals here and doesn’t listen when I talk about it.” 

Namjoon casts a glance at Seokjin to see if he’s still listening or if he, like so many others, has already lost interest. But Seokjin gives him an encouraging smile and Namjoon leans against the counter. He loves talking about the history of this town almost as much as he loves Socratic philosophy or discussions on the social climate in the United States. 

“It’s old magic,” Namjoon says. Something that makes the cherry blossoms sweeter and the snow whiter. Something that lives inside the hearts of all the residents and makes us double-check our windows and clean the temple and leave milk on the porch. I’ve never seen anything like it.” 

Seokjin wants to respond, to engage—it’s been awhile since he’s talked to someone this passionate about anything—but he remembers his purpose and clears his throat. Sounds fascinating,” he says, and means it. And I can find out about this…magic in the local library?” 

“I can show you, if you’d like,” Namjoon says, shrugging like it’s not a big deal. And to him—oblivious, quietly surrounded in his lovely ordinary life, it probably isn’t. 

“I’d love that,” Seokjin says, but he’s not doing it for Namjoon, or himself—he’s doing it for Jimin, locked away on Min Yoongi’s arm, his body hidden somewhere. 

Soon, Seokjin thinks, handing Namjoon a bowl of rice, a runny egg on the top. I’m coming, Jiminie. Don’t worry. 


Yoongi takes the bus to school. His car is almost out of gas, and besides, he doesn’t feel like driving after the weekend’s events. 

I’ve never been to school before, Jimin muses excitedly. My mom never let me go. 

There’s a woman sitting next to Yoongi on the bus so he pulls out his phone and opens his notes app. 

Why not? He writes. 

You may not remember this, Jimin says, amused, but I kind of practice a branch of magic extinct everywhere else but here. I didn’t fit in, even from the beginning. 

Yoongi’s heart feels heavy. I know what that feels like, he types back. Not fitting in, that is. I can’t say I’ve ever practiced super-rare magic. 

Jimin laughs a little sadly. So, what kind of classes do you take? He asks after a moment, the conversation doing a full one-eighty. Math classes? Doctor classes, like your roommate? Super hard classes?  

I don’t have a major yet, Yoongi writes out cautiously. I started college one year later than most, so they’re being lenient with me. 

What do you like? Jimin asks curiously. 

Yoongi shrugs, thumbs hovering over his keyboard. I don’t know. Photography, maybe? I’ve done some music production too. 

You like art, Jimin notices. Me too. Drawing’s always been my favorite—it’s a good way for me to release any built-up magic. 

The automated voice comes on and announces the campus stop. Yoongi stands up, bowing apologetically to the woman next to him when he knocks into her knees before he’s stepping off the bus. Jackson’s waiting for him by the math and science building, two coffees in his hands. 

“Hey, hyung,” Jackson greets cheerfully. Here, have a coffee. I got a free one because the barista thought I was cute.” 

Yoongi shakes his head and sighs, but gratefully accepts the coffee, which is still hot.

They head off towards the building, where their math professor and his confusing idiosyncrasies await. 

“I didn’t do the math homework,” Jackson warns Yoongi as they walk. 

“I did it but didn’t understand a single problem,” Yoongi answers. 

Who’s that? Jimin asks as Jackson babbles on about how he’s a man of communication and isn’t smart enough for math.

“Jackson,” Yoongi says, both answering Jimin and bringing Jackson’s attention back to him. You literally speak four languages fluently. You not being smart is the dumbest fucking thing you’ve ever said.” 

Jackson turns a light shade of pink, as he does when people give him genuine compliments. Aw, hyung, you flatter me.” 

“I try not to,” Yoongi says tonelessly, but he’s smiling anyway. I’m just telling the truth.” 

They push through the doors into the building. When they’re inside, Jackson jolts upright like he’s just remembered something and socks Yoongi on the shoulder. His still-battered body cries out in protest and he bites back a grimace. 

“I just remembered, Jackson starts, as he so often does. How’d your tattoo removal go?” 

Yoongi tucks his rose-covered hand into his pocket when Jackson turns to stare unsubtly at it. They were busy,” he lies, and feels a little bad when Jackson’s face falls.

“Aw man,” Jackson says. Next time, right?” 

Like he’s ever try that again, Akane scoffs. 

A mistake made once is not made twice, Gonzales advises sagely. 

Don’t waste your money, B. Gates contributes. 

More voices chime in—the breezy cadence of the dryad in the leaf pattern, the dry whisper (old spirits, Jimin had said. Beings of magic long-gone) and the distant arguing of what Gonzales had called lares, silly old Roman ghosts out for petty vengeance. The usual, Yoongi thinks, exasperated.

“—hyung, are you even listening to me?” Jackson asks, waving a hand in Yoongi’s face. 

Yoongi has to remind himself not to yell over the voices only he can hear. I’m fine,” he says, almost drowned out by the other noise. Just a little tired. My, um, cousin’s in town. And I fell down and got hurt.” 

“That explains the bruises,” Jackson says, holding the door for Yoongi as they trudge into the lecture hall. 

Healing lacerations on your back, a mild concussion and possible internal bruising are all still very real injuries, the snake-slash-doctor says. 

“Shut up,” Yoongi hisses as the professor comes into the room. Jackson wipes away imaginary tears and mimes shooting himself. Yoongi rolls his eyes, smiling a little. 

He doesn’t fall asleep for the whole lesson, kept up by the voices ricocheting in the space around him, filling all the silences he’d normally have to himself. Jimin seems to sense his restlessness and his boredom and chatters aimlessly, telling Yoongi about the spirits he’d made friends with when he was a kid and how he and his mother would make kimchi together every fall. 

Yoongi listens to it all contentedly. If he’s being honest—a rare feat for him—he’s kind of glad to have Jimin. In the short amount of time that he’s been here, a quiet Sunday that Yoongi would have filled with sadness was filled with a cheerful voice instead. 

It’s nice—and thankfully, temporary. 

His mind turns to Jimin’s problem. He has no idea who could’ve taken Jimin’s body—he’s thoroughly under-informed about the witch community, seeing as he found out about it two days ago. He’d like to keep it that way, too—but he can’t help but wonder why they’d taken Jimin’s body. As far as Yoongi knows (not very far) and with all the good guesses he’s taken (not very many), they’d wanted Jimin, not just his body. 

Yoongi shuts that train of thought down before it can get too far, but it’s too late: an ominous feeling has settled over his shoulders already, making his stomach churn. 

Whatever has happened—whatever is happening—is going to get worse. 

Yoongi can only hope shit hits the fan after he gets out of the way. 


 Jackson books it to his next class as soon as soon as they get out of the lecture hall, leaving Yoongi with a quick apology. 

 It’s only ten-thirty and he skipped breakfast , so Yoongi decides to walk over to the closer coffee shop—not his favorite one, but it’s still pretty decent. They have good muffins. 

  You’re not going back? Jimin asks as Yoongi readjusts his backpack and zips up his coat. 

“I need some time alone out of the house," Yoongi mumbles into the collar of his coat, ignoring the strange look a girl gives him. Sighing, he pulls out his phone and presses it to his ear. Now, if anyone sees him, he won’t look mentally unstable. 

Seokjin’s waiting, Jimin says a little restlessly. He’s got information. Important information. 

Yoongi lets out an irritated sigh. I’m sure he does, but I’m starving to death and if I die you die. So we’re going to get food.” 

I just don’t want to worry him, Jimin says. I feel bad. If I hadn’t left the house in the first place, if I’d called him and let him help me— 

They would’ve tracked you down to your house, esé, Gonzales reminds him

And then you’d be extremely dead, Akane follows, and she sounds serious for once. Unlike the idiot here, you’re important to us. 

Yoongi scoffs, putting his phone back into his pocket and pulling the door of the coffee shop open. 

“Hello,” the barista says, looking up from where he’s cleaning mugs. There’s only one other old man in the coffee shop, turning the pages of his newspaper idly. Welcome to Green Tree Coffee.” 

The old man looks up as Yoongi walks by, the latter doing a double take when he realizes the man is not a man at all. Blue light glows dimly in his eye sockets, and he’s wearing a hanbok. 

Yoongi tears his eyes off the ghost. I’ll, um, have an Americano and an egg toast.” 

He pays and goes down to sit at the furthest possible table from the old man. 

“I can see them now?” Yoongi snaps, careful to keep his voice low. 

You’re adjusting, Jimin informs him. 

Yoongi scoffs. Adjusting. No fucking way he’s adjusting, has adjusted or will adjust in the future. This is a goddamn magic world where spirits can talk and strange things dance in his peripheral and there’s a whole government for a whole community of witches. 

I mean, you’re adjusting to the magic, Jimin corrects. My magic. 

“This is your magic?” Yoongi asks, slamming his lips together when the barista comes to drop off his breakfast. 

Probably, Jimin says. Makes the most sense, right? 

“Don’t ask me,” Yoongi says into his coffee. I’m not the expert. Also, um, if there’s a supposed whole community of witches, why can’t I see any?” 

Jimin’s laugh dissolves his irritation like a wave against the shore, breaking into glittering pieces and filling the room. 

You know how there are spots in the town where you suddenly can’t remember where you’re going? Or where you’ll try to look at something only to have your eyes skirt right over it? 

“You’re saying—” Yoongi says, unable to help the awe that creeps into his voice. 

That’s us, Jimin says proudly. Living right there, in plain sight. Nobody ever sees anything that’s right in front of them. 

“Holy shit,” Yoongi says, impressed. This whole time?” 

No need to be so amazed, Akane grumbles. It’s just a bunch of humans. You haven’t even seen me yet. 

He technically hasn’t seen any of us, Gonzales points out. 

What a shame, Akane sighs. I’m gorgeous. 

Matter of opinion, Gonzales quips. 

They start to bicker as Yoongi struggles to tune them out. From across the cafe, the old man stares at him unrelentlessly. 

He knows you can see him, Jimin says. It won’t be long before word spreads and you’ll have all kinds of spirits flocking you. 

“He’s fucking creepy as hell,” Yoongi says, eyeing the spirit suspiciously. 

He’s just sad, Jimin says thoughtfully. My mom called them the ageless. They’re waiting forever for someone. Someone who’ll never come. 

“Okay, now h’es just really goddamn depressing,” Yoongi says, finishing the last of his egg toast. It’s nearly eleven now, and he has his photography assignment to start and probably a billion other things to do that he’ll ignore in favor of a nap. 

It is what it is, hyung, Jimin says. Yoongi stands up, brushing crumbs from his lap. The barista’s on his phone, probably texting his friends about the fucking weird customer he just had that wouldn’t stop talking to himself. 

The air has gotten colder and the sky’s turned overcast, threatening rain—or snow, which is a less-than-thrilling-idea. 

“I hope it doesn’t snow,” Yoongi mutters. Our heater’s still fucking broken.” 

The brownies could fix it for you, B. Gates offers. They help save money. On your left, someone’s dropped another twenty-thousand won. 

Yoongi cannot believe this is going to be his fucking life now. He bends down and pulls the won bill from between the sidewalk crack and straightens. 

“What the fuck are brownies?” He asks. Magical fixing spirits?” 

Exactly! B. Gates exclaims. They even fixed your water! 

The bus pulls up to the curb and Yoongi gets on. B. Gates continues to tell him about investing and how he could make a lot of money in the drug trade and Akane offers unhelpful ideas for boredom. The roses on his knuckles are blooming again by the time he gets back to the apartment, mood magically improved with a little food and coffee. 

Mrs. Do is on her way back inside with the mail, and she waves to Yoongi. Your cousin brought a friend,” she tells him. I gave them the spare key.” 

“He what?” Yoongi says, stomach dropping. A friend?” 

“Quite polite,” Mrs. Do says, watching bemusedly as Yoongi starts to panic. An odd man, I have to say, but he was quite cheerful.” 

“Kim Seokjin, you fucker,” Yoongi mutters. He offers a quick bow to Mrs. Do before he’s sprinting up the stairs to their floor, taking them two at a time. As he gets closer, he can hear voices and the sound of something shattering. 

Yoongi jams his key into the lock and throws the door open just as Seokjin and—wait a second, is that the fucking taxi driver? From the other day? With the glove compartment filled with weird shit and the broomstick in the front seat? 

Said taxi driver’s holding what looks like blowtorch and Seokjin’s got Yoongi’s laptop precariously perched on the edge of the kitchen counter.  

“WHAT THE FUCK,” Yoongi says loudly, startling the taxi driver. The guy nearly drops his blowtorch. 

Seokjin waves, like he’s not about to break Yoongi’s computer and set fire to their home. Welcome back. How was school?” 

“I don’t think you should be asking questions right now,” Yoongi deadpans. What the hell are you doing, who the hell is that, and why the hell is he here?” 

“Jung Hoseok,” the taxi driver introduces himself, grinning widely and bowing. I deliver mail, mostly.” 

“As well as a number of other illicit things that I turn a blind eye to because you’re useful,” Seokjin comments, whacking Hoseok on the back of the head. Hoseok shrugs, still smiling. Hoseok,” Seokjin says, turning to Yoongi, also specializes in information. 

“If you need it I can probably find it,” Hoseok says, and at that exact moment something chooses to emerge from the overfilled bag on the ground—something green and moving and alive— and Hoseok fucking tips over, nearly busting his head open on the counter as the thing grabs Hoseok’s leg.  

Seokjin bursts into laughter. Hoseok’s laughing as well, trying to free himself from the goddamn plant that’s wrapped itself around his ankle. 

“Take that out of the house right now,” Yoongi demands, pointing at the bag while Seokjin’s annoying laugh bounces around the kitchen. I’m not having a sentient plant in here.” 

“Aww,” Hoseok says, nudging the coil back into his bag. He’s innocent. Just likes to play around.” 

“It’s a moving plant,” Yoongi points out. 

“Yeah, and if you’re not an idiot it won’t hurt you.” 

“Makes sense as to why you fell,” Seokjin gasps, and busts up again like he’s the world’s best goddamned comedian. Jimin’s laughing as well, right in Yoongi’s ear.

Yoongi sighs. He can already feel a headache coming on. 

“Seokjin explained everything,” Hoseok says, adjusting his jacket. And I think I have some ideas.” 

“That’s good,” Yoongi says tiredly, dropping down into a chair. Because I’m fresh out of those.” 

Hoseok snorts. Seokjin didn’t say you were funny.” 

Seokjin, finally sobering up, joins them at the table. There’s a stack of library books there that Yoongi doesn’t recognize, all with titles like Newspaper Articles 1821-1822 and Historical Diary Entries, Undated. 

“That’s for Jimin,” Seokjin says, patting the stack of books. Namjoon went with me to get them.” 

Yoongi narrows his eyes. Namjoon’s smarter than Seokjin probably knows. It won’t take him long to put all the pieces together unless they’re very, very careful. 

Show him your arm, Jimin requests, and Yoongi rolls up his sleeve and turns it so Hoseok and Seokjin can see Jimin’s handwriting.

“Wow, sweet,” Hoseok says, nodding at centimeter after centimeter of ink that appears. 

Thanks, hyung, Jimin writes out. Hoseok’s eyes nearly bug out of his head at that, and he looks like he wants to grab Yoongi’s arm. 

He doesn’t, though, and Yoongi’s very grateful for that. 

“Hoseok-ah, tell Yoongi what you know,” Seokjin says, picking up a book and opening it to the first page. 

“Alrighty,” Hoseok says, leaning forward on his elbows, a small smile on his face. Yoongi, what do you know about the witch mafia?” 

Chapter Text

“The what?” Yoongi asks after a beat of silence. Did you just—you’re in the witch mafia? That’s a thing?” 

 An absurd image pops into Yoongi’s head—gangsters in pointed witch hats, waving sparkling wands at each other. 

He almost laughs. The only reason he doesn’t is because the look on Seokjin’s face is absolutely dead serious. 

Fuck. There’s a witch mafia. What’s next? Magical firefighters? Magical street vendors? 

“I’m not in the witch mafia,” Hoseok clarifies. I mean, sorta. I’m mostly just a mailman.” 

“How can you be sort of in the mafia?” Yoongi asks, voice strangled. Hoseok doesn’t look menacing--his hair’s a goofy shade of red, there are patches on his jeans and he’s wearing a faded Ramones t-shirt. 

Hoseok looks to Seokjin imploringly, who sighs. 

“What Hoseok means,” Seokjin starts tiredly, is that he’s an informant. He’s incredibly effective at collecting information. He’s got an in nearly everywhere.” 

“And hyung’s my friend, so requests from him are free,” Hoseok tells Yoongi. You too. Anyone Seokjin likes, I like.” 

“I’m glad,” Yoongi swallows. So, um, you hang out with the mafia?” 

“I deliver messages, mostly,” Hoseok says. Make sure their mail doesn’t get intercepted. I’m also a main supplier for a lot of their herbal and ordinary ingredients.” 

“You sell drugs?” 

Hoseok gives Yoongi an incredulous look and then bursts into laughter. Yoongi doesn’t get why he’s laughing; it leaves him feeling incredibly unsettled. 

Jimin jumps in to explain and Yoongi can’t help the wave of gratitude that washes over him. Witches don’t use your kinds of drugs, Jimin says. There’s spells for that, or what we call mixtures. They’re kind of like herbal concoctions. Nobody really specializes in them anymore—plant magic is another branch that the Old Council nearly wiped out. 

“And he’s not in with every group,” Seokjin points out, giving Hoseok a look. If he was, I’d really have to arrest him.” 

“I keep my hands as clean as possible just for you, hyung,” Hoseok beams. No drugs, no killing, no illegal charms. Information and legal substances only for me.” 

“The mafia,” Yoongi sputters, still not over it. The fucking...where are we, the 1920s? In a crime drama?” 

“The point is,” Seokjin says loudly, ignoring Yoongi, is that Hoseok will help us figure out the where part this whole mess, while we figure out the how.” 

What about the why, Jimin asks quietly.  

That’s not important, Yoongi thinks to himself. I just want you to get off of me. I want to return to my normal life. I don’t want to wade any deeper. 

He doesn’t say this out loud, of course—he gets the distinct notion that it would hurt Jimin’s feelings, and the last thing he needs is an armful of angry spirits. 

“I’ve reached out to Jisoo,” Hoseok says. And you know Kim Yerim, the kid I work with?” 

“Yes,” Seokjin says, standing and brushing his robes off. The junior mailman?” 

“Yeah, well, apparantly her dad’s in the broom-making business, only he sells his stuff underground—” 

Yoongi chokes on his air. The what?” He asks for maybe the billionth time today. He knows he sounds and looks like an idiot, but he can’t help it. Hoseok barged into his house and is dropping fucking info bombs on him like they’re nothing, like they’re not yanking Yoongi further and further away from the life he so desperately wants to return to. 

The mailmen ride brooms, Jimin says gently while Hoseok roars with laughter. It’s cheaper and faster. And the underground refers to the…secret market? Is that what it’s called? 

“Black market,” Yoongi corrects. 

Yes, Jimin agrees. That. Hoseok does most of his selling down there, I know that. 

Yoongi eyes the two witches warily. And Seokjin lets him?” 

Hoseok’s information has saved lives, Jimin says. Seokjin’s powerful, yes, but he only knows the Council. Hoseok knows the people. 

“Hmm?” Seokjin says at the same time, turning at the sound of his name. He’s at the stove, making tea of all goddamn things, one of Namjoon’s stupid flowery brands. 

“Nothing,” Yoongi says quickly, listening to Akane snicker in his ear. You know. Just. The voices,” he says, gesturing vaguely. Seokjin narrows his eyes briefly, but lets it go. Hoseok turns his full attention onto Yoongi, grinning. 

Oh no, Yoongi thinks. 

Hi, hyung, Jimin greets. Yoongi sighs and sticks his arm out so Hoseok can read the message. 

“Ah, Jiminie,” Hoseok replies, looking around as if he might see Jimin hovering behind Yoongi. I can’t believe you’re stuck on this guy’s arm. We’ll get you off soon, alright?” 

Thank you for helping, hyung, Jimin writes out. 

“Aw,” Hoseok says, smile stretching wider. You’re a good kid. You’re easy to help out. Besides, there’s something…different about this case. The mafia is the mafia because they’ve got people everywhere—but they’ve pulled back recently. Everyone’s being really tight-lipped, and I have no idea why.” 

Seokjin sets a cup of tea down in front of the both of them, snapping his fingers at the kettle, which dumps its own water out before settling into the sink. 

Yoongi stares at Hoseok in blank silence. 

Did you get any of that? Jimin asks, sounding as confused as Yoongi feels. Because that just went over my head. 

Yoongi sighs and drops his head into his hands. His head is spinning again and he fights to keep everything right in front of him, trying to not let himself get overwhelmed. But it’s hard—hard not to listen to Hoseok ramble on about regional units and the black market and hands filled with silver charms. Every word that he says pulls Yoongi further under, another nail in a metaphorical coffin that’s not going to let him back into his life before. 

Heart rate rising, the snake reports as Seokjin and Hoseok keep going on about legal bearings and the societal consequences of integrating with ordinaries. Watch your blood pressure. 

“--think I’ll stay here,” Seokjin is saying, but his voice is getting slippery and Yoongi can’t latch onto it. Reality is getting hazy again and his brain is screaming at him— what are you doing here what are you doing here what are you doing here? 

“Yoongi,” Seokjin says, distant. Oh my god, are you okay?” 

“I’m fine,” Yoongi responds somehow. Just. Give me a second. It’s the…witch mafia? Jisoo? Kidnappings?” 

Seokjin looks sharply at Hoseok, who shrugs, guilty-faced. 

WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? His thoughts loop, echoing in his head. 

Hyung, he hears. Stay with us.  

Jimin. 

He finally finds purchase on something, latching on to the rhythm of Jimin’s breathing once again until Yoongi’s struggling gasps slow enough to match Jimin’s. 

There’s a wash of cool magic at that exact moment and his pulse smooths out. His heart stops feeling like it’s going to escape his chest, too. Always a plus. 

He realizes Hoseok and Seokjin are staring at him with wide-eyed confusion and sharp-faced concern, respectively. 

“Sorry,” Yoongi mutters, incredibly embarrassed. He can’t believe he just had a full-blown panic attack, of all things, in front of a stranger and a guy he met three days ago. 

“You, um, alright?” Hoseok asks unsurely, absentmindedly unraveling the plant that’s crept back up his wrist again. 

“Fine,” Yoongi grunts. He can hear faint chattering in the background and decides to listen to that as Hoseok and Seokjin gradually go back to their conversation—though their eyes never quite leave Yoongi. 

We said we weren’t going to use magic on him, Gonzales is saying when Yoongi tunes in. 

He was panicking, a cool, female voice he doesn’t recognize answers. I had to do something. 

Well, we already sent those brownies to fix his water heater, Akane points out. And he knows magic exists—why not use it on him? 

We are not using anything on him, Jimin cuts in loudly. He’s already having a hard enough time. We’re on his arm, remember? As much as we all want to get off of here, I’m the one that dragged him into this. 

Hey, esé, don’t blame yourself, Gonzales says grumpily. There’s nothing you could’ve done. Al mal tiempo, buena cara, yes? 

I don’t speak Spanish, Jimin says. He sounds miserable. I just feel really, really bad. Yoongi doesn’t deserve this. 

Yoongi’s throat closes up at the emotion in Jimin’s voice. He can’t listen anymore or else something bad will happen, so he finally turns his attention back to Seokjin and Hoseok, who look like they’ve come to a decision. 

“I’m staying here,” Seokjin says. 

All thoughts of Jimin flee Yoongi’s mind. No you’re fucking not,” Yoongi snaps back. Why the hell would you do that?” 

“Because I’m under constant surveillance as soon as I step into the magical community,” Seokjin says patiently. It ticks Yoongi off but he doesn’t move, ribs still aching from the last time he crossed Kim Seokjin. I can’t help you find information or meet with Hoseok unless I’m here.” 

“Can’t you rent a hotel room, or something?” 

Seokjin’s nose wrinkles. And do what? Ward the whole building? Interact with ordinaries? No thank you.” 

“Namjoon’s an ordinary,” Yoongi points out, trying his best to poke holes in Seokjin’s unfortunately sound argument. 

Seokjin’s face does a funny softening thing for just a moment before he answers Yoongi, then it’s gone. Namjoon will just have to be tolerated.” 

Yoongi looks at him wryly. Sure,” he says sarcastically. Tolerated. Do you have different words for things, since you’re witches and all?” 

Seokjin’s composure doesn’t falter as much as Yoongi had hoped. But it’s enough—enough to tell him that yes, Namjoon had somehow found a chink in Seokjin’s armor in a record-breaking one day. 

“I dare you to keep talking,” Seokjin says cooly, crossing his legs. Go on. Keep talking.” 

Yoongi, who quite likes being alive, wisely keeps his mouth shut. But he does allow himself a satisfied smirk. 

Hoseok’s looking between the two of them with an amused smile on his face. That’s my cue to leave,” he says. I’ll keep on the whole where part of the body if you guys can handle the how.” Hoseok nods at the enormous stack of books on the table. They make Yoongi’s head spin and he hasn’t even touched one. 

“Fighting,” Hoseok cheers enthusiastically, and shoulders his massive bag of mail, the plant happily looping itself around his bicep. He hands Yoongi a piece of paper with a number scribbled on it. Call me if anything comes up,” he says cheerfully. He then grabs his blowtorch—its purpose yet to be discovered—and his broom, which he fucking mounts like an actual witch. 

“I parked kinda far,” Hoseok explains when Yoongi’s mouth drops open yet again. I don’t feel like walking.” 

“So you’re just gonna…of course,” Yoongi mumbles. 

Seokjin-hyung talks about Hoseok’s broom skills a lot, Jimin tells Yoongi. He’s really good, apparently. And he can drive, too. Isn’t that incredible? 

“Jimin’s amazed that you can drive, Hoseok-ah,” Yoongi says, turning his phone over in his hands. 

Hoseok shrugs, pulling the balcony door open. It’s convenient. I drive taxis for extra money, remember?” 

Yoongi rolls his eyes. Of course I remember. That was Friday, not ten years ago.” 

Hoseok grins again. You’re actually funny,” he says, chuckling. Then he turns to Seokjin and gives him a goofy salute. I’ll be back with more info, hyung,” he says. Till then—don’t kill Yoongi-ssi, please!” 

“Hey!” Seokjin says in false anger, standing up and tightening his hands. But Hoseok cackles and jumps off the side of balcony—giving Yoongi a fucking heart attack—and actually rides the fucking broom off into the afternoon sky. 

Yoongi watches Hoseok until his outline is a speck in the sky. 

“I need a nap,” Yoongi mumbles, rubbing his eyes. Your world is too fucking much for me.” 

Seokjin pinches the bridge of his nose. Try running it while also looking for the body of your younger brother without raising suspicion from the some of the highest-ranking witches in the world.” 

They sit there in silence for a minute longer, tension and stress simmering lowly between the two of them. Yoongi’s mind is racing, trying to digest everything that he’s just heard, and Seokjin sips slowly at his tea, clearly lost in his own thoughts. The balcony door is open just enough that Yoongi can feel the outside wind on his face; it’s cold today. 

“So you’re staying, then,” Yoongi says, finally breaking the silence. It’s not really a question—he gets the feeling that Seokjin doesn’t particularly care what Yoongi thinks. 

“Yes,” Seokjin replies. I have to check into work in about an hour, but I’ll be back. I’m going to see if they’ll let me check out any of the historical records from the library—otherwise, we’ll get started on these books.” 

Yoongi sighs, heart skittering sideways as he imagines all of the catastrophes that could happen with Kim Seokjin living in their apartment. We don’t have room for you,” Yoongi points out. Unless you like sleeping on the couch.” 

“Sleeping’s not an issue,” Seokjin says, waving his hand lightly. There’s magic for that.” 

“Of course there is,” Yoongi grumbles. But I still don’t think we can operate without telling Namjoon anything—” 

“Namjoon won’t be an issue either,” Seokjin says, and there it is again—the same strange softening of his face. Yoongi narrows his eyes, but Seokjin’s expression has already cooled and it yields nothing. I’ll take care of everything,” the witch reassures Yoongi, which is. Well. Anything but reassuring, knowing Seokjin. 

Trust him, Jimin pleads quietly in Yoongi’s ear. Please, hyung? He wants to help me. And if you let him stay, this’ll all be over faster. 

Yoongi can’t really argue with that—especially not when Jimin sounds so desperate.  

“Fine,” he mutters, listening to Jimin’s sigh of relief. Whatever. Just don’t fuck our house up.” 

Seokjin purses his lips and rises from his seat. He raises his hands as if to brush off his suit jacket, but instead the fabric melts and darkens and he’s wearing his robes again, regal and dark blue with that fancy patch on the breast that probably says Very Official High Council Member—Do Not Touch. 

The thought makes Yoongi snort, and Seokjin gives Yoongi another sharp look. 

One day he might throw you through a wall, Akane muses. That would be fun, don’t you think? 

The cost of replacing drywall has gone up, B. Gates counters. It makes you spend money. Spending money on dumb things is bad. 

Yoongi stuffs his fingers into his ears and puts his head down on the table. Seokjin’s mouth moves soundlessly, an irritated look on his face. When Yoongi doesn’t respond, he picks his bag off the ground and opens the door—which is nice, because Yoongi’s heart wouldn’t be able to handle him jumping out the window as well—and leaves. 

Something smooths over the back of his neck soothingly, and he pulls his fingers out of his ears at the sensation of it.  

Stop doing that, Gonzales says. 

I just want to help, the same female voice from before says. It makes me sad to see him get all upset. 

“Who are you?” Yoongi asks cautiously. I haven’t heard you before.” 

There’s a squeak of surprise and the leaves that peek out from under his t-shirt sleeve ruffle. Some kind of tree spirit?” Yoongi prods.  

She’s a dryad, Jimin tells him. She’s been asleep for a long time—she just woke up. That’s why you’re only hearing her now. 

“And, um, what do dryads do?” He asks. Like, B. Gates is that money spirit—” 

A pixui, B. Gates supplies helpfully. 

“Right, that,” Yoongi says. And Akane is a ninetails, and Gonzales protects the eternally drunk and the eternally salty.” 

Watch it, chiquito, or next time you’re drunk you’ll find yourself floating away in the sea, Gonzales threatens. 

Jimin’s laugh is bright. She’s shy, he tells Yoongi. But she’s incredibly sensitive to emotion. She’s an oak tree, luckily, so she’s less likely to mess with you. Oak trees, if you’re in their favor, will take very good care of you 

“What’s her name?” 

Yeonhee, the dryad says timidly. I’m sorry for using magic on you. It’s just—panic attacks are really hard, and I wanted you to feel better. 

Yoongi, goddamn his stupid soft heart, is touched. It’s alright,” he finds himself saying. You just want to help.” 

That’s right, Yeonhee says, voice gaining strength. See, Gonzales? Some magic he minds. Mine, he doesn’t. 

Yoongi slumps forward again, suddenly exhausted. Voices pick up in the background again, constant and unrelenting as his mind swims with the information that’s been dumped on him. 

The witch mafia. An actual mafia. Of magic-wielding witches. 

He doesn’t know where his life is going, but he certainly doesn’t want to get involved with magical gangsters. No, thank you. 

Maybe he’ll just take a nap. He doesn’t feel like absorbing anything more, as his brain is so saturated with nonsense—nonsense that happens to be true, unfortunately—and the spirits on his arm aren’t getting any quieter. He glances at the clock. Namjoon won’t be home for at least three more hours, but Yoongi pulls on a hoodie anyway. He hasn’t agreed with Seokjin on many fronts, but keeping this whole thing secret from Namjoon is something that they can settle on. The last thing Yoongi needs is for his friend to get dragged into this mess, too. 

He collapses onto the couch, fumbling through his pockets for his headphones, which help shut out some of the noise. 

Luckily, Jimin’s there, shushing the rest of them, voices tapering into silence filled with the music from Yoongi’s headphones. 

And then he’s asleep, relief and sleepiness hitting him like a punch to the stomach and dragging him under. 

 


 

Namjoon, impossibly, doesn’t notice. His eyes float over the pages of notes Seokjin takes and the bookmarks shoved between yellowed pages. Yoongi blinks in confusion as Namjoon just accepts Seokjin’s presence, believing the weak excuse of it’s cheaper for him to stay here than in a hotel with a little nod of his head. 

But while Yoongi passes it off as coincidence, Seokjin pushes away the budding seeds of guilt. He was the reason Namjoon’s eyes didn’t see as much as they should or why his thoughts scattered when they got too close to the truth. 

Seokjin’s magic is incredibly physical, yes—wind and explosive force and tempered power—but he is capable of performing sly magic, magic that hides and winds and captures. And that is what he has cast over Namjoon, and what he’ll continue to cast until he no longer has any use for the younger boy. 

Tuesday sees the two of them going out to the library again. Seokjin ignores the wonder he feels as Namjoon leads him through colorful streets, narrow two-story apartment buildings crammed between family-owned barbecue restaurants and used bookstores. The last weeks of November are bleeding away in reds and yellows, the wind gradually getting colder with each passing day. Namjoon likes to point things out to Seokjin as they walk—that park over there is where he used to watch the cherry trees with his mom when he was a kid, that convenience store gives out free hot water for ramen, and the owner of that fish market has two kids Namjoon used to babysit when he was in high school. 

Seokjin begrudgingly admits that the ordinary side of town is charming, in its own way. It’s no magic community, with its streets of rare plants and its windows filled with a number of bright, wondrous things, but it’s alright. The sky is blue today, at least. They head out of downtown, away from dark alleys and strange bars and towards a neighborhood stuffed full of kids with red noses and people walking dogs. 

“I signed up for classes next semester,” Namjoon says, looking back at Seokjin. I’m taking one about the LGBT representation in Asian media.” 

Seokjin has to try very hard to keep the confusion off of his face. He’s heard of the things Namjoon’s talked about, obviously—it’s his job to keep up with ordinary things, just in case—but he can’t say that he knows about it. So he smiles benignly and says, that sounds really interesting.” And then, to stop Namjoon from noticing his lack of knowledge, he prompts, what made you pick it?” 

That’s all Namjoon really needs to start talking about gay rights and romanticization of same-sex relationships in movies—whatever that means—and Seokjin presses his lips into a small smile. Though he rarely has any idea as to what Namjoon’s saying, there’s something a little endearing about the way he talks about the things he loves. His whole face lights up and his hands emphasise steady words and thorough explanation.  

In short, it’s unlike anything Seokjin has ever seen before. He’s never seen someone so willing to explain, to share, to converse. It’s fascinating—and, if he’s being totally honest—enjoyable. It’s a two-problems-one-spell kind of situation: he’s helping Jimin (who never quite leaves his thoughts, a constant nagging worry in the back of his mind) and learning more about the part of the country he’s to represent for the next many years. 

And if he goes to the library with Namjoon every day that week—well, Yoongi doesn’t have to know a thing. 


Jimin, Yoongi thinks, gets restless. There’s not much he can do besides hang out by Yoongi’s ear and give advice that only Yoongi can hear anyway. 

Which is why Yoongi doesn’t blame him for the note of annoyance that enters his voice when Yoongi, once again, complains about the spirits on the streets. It’s Thursday, and by now the rest of the spirit world has figured out that Yoongi can hear and see them. Cat-like creatures grin knowingly at him from their places on stone walls, children with wings and sharp little teeth play tag with his shadow, and women cradling babies to their chests nod politely. There are some, though, that follow his every step, reaching out to him with eerie fingers and haunted eyes, pleas on their lips. They want advice, mostly, or messages delivered to grandchildren or left-behind spouses. 

It’s a little sad. His walk to the coffee shop is just long enough that he’s pretty miserable by the time he gets there, weighed down with grief that isn’t his. 

Seokjin offers no help. I don’t practice soul magic, remember?” He says when Yoongi gets home from school that day. Seokjin’s settled into their apartment—there’s books stacked in nearly every corner and his shoes have a spot by the door now. They’ve developed a routine, unfortunately. Seokjin goes out with Namjoon in the morning and then comes back in time to torture Yoongi with magical history. 

“Well, they’re driving me insane,” Yoongi says, throwing his stuff on the couch. Can’t you put a spell on me, or something?” 

Jimin could, B. Gates says unhelpfully. He knows that kind of magic. 

Akane scoffs. That’s the whole issue, you idiot. Jimin can’t access his magic. He doesn’t have a body to do exchanges with. 

Seokjin looks to Yoongi expectantly. What are they saying?” 

“Nothing useful,” Yoongi says. And I think I made Jimin upset with my complaining.” 

“You have no right to complain—” Seokjin starts, hot-tempered as always when it comes to Jimin. 

“I know,” Yoongi cuts in aggressively. Goddammit, I know that. But haven’t you once considered how difficult this has been for me. You just barged into my life and fucking turned everything around, and now I have to constantly struggle to keep up.” 

Seokjin’s eyes spark, fingers starting to curl. I can’t believe you right now,” he says lowly. 

Something in Yoongi’s chest hisses at Seokjin’s tone—something that’s not him. I have a right to be upset,” Yoongi grits out. 

Hyung, Jimin says at last, stepping in. Hyung, don’t get upset, you’re only to get hurt—I’m sorry for snapping at you earlier—it’s all my fault, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry-- 

“Stop fucking apologizing,” Yoongi says, all the fight draining out of him. He sits down heavily at the table and puts his face in his hands. It’s not your fault.” 

Seokjin lets out a deep breath, and the sleeping thing in Yoongi’s chest backs off as Seokjin draws his power back into himself. 

Tension simmers between the two of them. We should probably talk, Yoongi thinks idly, but one look at the heated look on Seokjin’s face immediately pushes that notion away. 

Hyung, Jimin prods tentatively. Um, are you alright? 

“Just exhausted,” Yoongi mumbles. Always goddamn exhausted.” He feels guilty, too—because he can’t get along with Seokjin, who Jimin clearly adores; because can’t help Jimin in the way he wants to; because he’s got magic buried away in him, magic that could help but instead burns away at Yoongi’s energy supply. 

“I’m leaving,” Seokjin announces sharply. Yoongi lifts his head to look at him and sees that he’s got a note on fancy paper in his hand. The hangul is too small from read from here but it looks official, with a embossed seal and shiny gold leaf. There’s an emergency meeting.” He doesn’t elaborate and Yoongi doesn’t care so he watches in silence as Seokjin collects his things, hesitating in the doorway. Yoongi, this isn’t for you,” he says, serious. This is for Park Jimin. Remember that.” 

Immediately, Yoongi feels bad. If there’s one person in the whole fucking world who doesn’t deserve this shitshow, it’s probably Park Jimin. Jimin, who’s been nothing but apologetic and lovely and understanding. 

Tell him that I love him and I miss him, Jimin asks. Please. 

“Ah, Seokjin-ssi,” Yoongi says before Seokjin can walk out the door. Um, Park Jimin says that he, um, loves you. And that he misses you.” 

Yoongi expects Seokjin’s face to go soft, which it does. He doesn’t expect the sudden shine that springs to Seokjin’s eyes like he might cry. 

Yoongi’s face burns. This isn’t something that he should be watching; it’s too intimate, a show of emotion not meant for Yoongi’s eyes. 

Seokjin leaves without another word. 

“What the hell is his problem?” Yoongi asks himself, momentarily forgetting that there are voices ready to answer. 

We could tie his magic in knots, Akane suggests gleefully. Yoongi doesn’t know what she means, but it sounds like a surefire way to lose his life. Or give him minor hallucinations. 

I think he’s just as lost as you are, chiquito, Gonzales advises. Go easy on him, yeah? 

Seokjin-hyung, Jimin muses thoughtfully, tries his best. He’s all I’ve had for the last ten years. He was good to me when nobody else was. My magic…it’s rare, and powerful. I had to be protected. I understand that.

Jimin sniffs, and stops talking. 

Esé, you don’t have to share anything you don’t want to, Gonzales tells him. 

“I won’t push you,” Yoongi adds on. 

I’m sorry, Jimin says, probably for the seventieth time. You’d think that it gets easier to talk about after so many years. 

“I get it,” Yoongi says. Then, softer, I really do.”

And it’s been four days, four measly days—but Yoongi thinks he can feel Jimin’s gratitude, soft and gentle like the sea breeze in the summer.  

 


 

Seokjin is almost late to the meeting. 

Emphasis on almost. 

He bursts through the lobby doors five minutes before he’s due in the boardroom, shoving his glasses on his face and nodding to the security as he hurries towards the desk at the south end of the room. A girl he doesn’t recognize looks up, face going bright red when she sees him. 

“Councilman Kim,” she stutters. Um, the other four are waiting for you in room 102.”  

Seokjin feels a little bad for her—she’s clearly overwhelmed by him, calling him Councilman and all of that ridiculous formality—so he gives her a gentle smile. Thank you,” he says, and takes off towards the staircases behind the desk, taking the left one two stairs at a time. 

Room 102 is at the end of the first-floor hallway. Out of all the meeting rooms on the first floor, 102 is the largest. Seokjin wonders why the other members chose it; are they expecting more than just the five of them? 

He reaches the door, straightening his robes before knocking politely and stepping inside. The other four members are just making their way to their seats and Seokjin bows low to each of them. As the youngest and least-experienced, he looks up to them greatly—he has a lot to learn from them, and they’ve been around for much longer than he has. Even Liu Amber, who had only recently chosen two hearts, has ten years of experience on him. He settles into his place next to her, accepting her bright smile with one of his own. 

Their guests arrive at that exact moment, and Seokjin suddenly realizes why they’re in room 102. 

There’s nearly twenty of them—by them, Seokjin means the oldest and most powerful bloodlines in all of magical Korea. The air grows thick with their magic and the hair on the back of Seokjin’s neck stands straight. The Hans are followed closely by the Pyos, and then the Ims, with their two oldest children. And finally the Jeons—the last traditional military family—and their son, Jeongguk. 

Jeongguk’s nearly vibrating with energy (Seokjin’s of the opinion that they don’t let him out enough) and twists his hands together anxiously, scanning the room until he meets Seokjin’s eyes. 

The High Council waits in silence while the families settle, the air tense. 

Not all of them get along—that much is obvious from the way a thousand different layers of magic push at each other, fighting for dominance. But in front of the council, they must. 

Finally, the first councilman stands. Nam Chul-soon has lived for over one hundred years (thanks to the two hearts that beat in his chest) but looks like he has yet to hit forty years. His frame is impressive against the skyline of the city behind him and his presence fills the room, leaving no room for argument. 

“My friends,” he says, opening his arms. We have many things to discuss.” 

Jeongguk looks to Seokjin again, eyes wide. The kid’s always looking at Seokjin like that, though—Jeongguk’s parents have been trying to kiss up to Seokjin since he’d become a council member. Unfortunately for them, Seokjin can remember every nasty thing they’ve said about him and Jimin and even to Jeongguk, when the latter had wanted to play with them. 

But the second councilwoman, Hwang Sunhwa is speaking now, so Seokjin shifts his attention back, ignoring Jeongguk’s warning glare burning into the back of his head. 

For now, at least. Witch society is a slippery slope to climb—Seokjin is unable to keep track of who hates who, or which person is plotting to dethrone the other. It’s a complicated web of blood and magic that has ensnared them all, and Seokjin hates it sometimes. He supposes that it’s good to have Jeongguk on his side for this exact reason. 

So he nods to Jeongguk, hopefully conveying a we’ll talk after to the younger. Jeongguk nods, looking satisfied, and turns his eyes to Sunhwa. 

Seokjin hopes—prays, even—that it’s nothing serious, that it’s the opposite of what his gut tells him. 

His gut, however, is rarely wrong. 

That’s what he’s worried about. 

 


 

The week slips by faster than Yoongi can fathom, and next thing he knows, he wakes up on Saturday to the sound of Namjoon doing something, like burning down the fucking kitchen or accidentally knocking Seokjin off the sofa. 

He hopes it’s the latter. The kitchen would be really expensive to replace. 

Yoongi pulls on a hoodie, the sleeves stretched out from being pulled over his hand—it’s almost a habit at this point, carefully covering every inch of ink —and goes out into the kitchen to see what the fuss is. 

The first thing he notices is the bag Namjoon’s dropped—it’s full of kitchenware, like plastic cutting boards and metal bowls—god forbid— unmelted spatulas. Then there’s Namjoon himself, sporting red ears and a mouth that’s fallen open just a little bit. 

And then there’s Seokjin. Of-fucking-course it’s Seokjin. He normally showers and leaves the house before both Namjoon and Yoongi wake up, but he must’ve slept in late, because his hair is wet and his skin is freshly scrubbed and he’s wearing an unfamiliar pink t-shirt and a pair of—wait, those are Yoongi’s sweatpants— 

“Ah, hyung,” Namjoon says, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. Sorry—you’re usually gone by now, so I thought I’d just—” 

“No, no,” Seokjin interrupts, and holy fucking shit, he’s blushing! Yoongi didn’t even know he was capable of any other emotion besides anger and irritation. It’s my fault, I should’ve warned you. Yoongi loaned me some clothes, and I thought I’d make breakfast—” 

“Breakfast!” Namjoon says loudly, voice nearly breaking. Of course! Um, don’t let me get in your way—” 

“No, it’s no problem, you were here first—” 

Yoongi bites back a snort as he watches Seokjin turn pinker as they dance awkwardly around each other, trying to reconfigure. Namjoon’s brain is clearly still short-circuiting from the rare sight of one Kim Seokjin in sweatpants— sweat pants, of all things, jesus Namjoon, really —and he nearly takes his head off on an open cabinet trying to get around Seokjin without touching him. 

Yoongi clears his throat loudly and steps all the way out of his room. Seokjin and Namjoon jump another foot apart and Yoongi watches Namjoon slip on one of the plastic cutting boards and nearly kill himself. 

He lets himself laugh at that one. 

Aww, Akane says. Look. He tripped. He must really like that witch. 

Do you think Seokjin-hyung really likes Kim Namjoon-ssi that much? Jimin asks dubiously. 

Esé, the clumsy one nearly killed himself while staring at him, Gonzales chides gently. 

And, B. Gates says, ever-financially focused, he spent money on the witch too! That’s something for sure. 

I think they’re both idiots, Akane declares. But at least they can be idiots for each other. 

Wow, Gonzales remarks sarcastically. Hey, loca, that was almost sweet. 

Don’t push it, bunny-man. 

This, of course, starts a new argument that Yoongi has to try very hard to block out. Jimin’s surly silence is covered entirely by it, so if there’s something off about him, Yoongi doesn’t notice. 

Instead he goes up to Seokjin, who’s picking kitchenware off the ground and putting it back into cabinets. Jesus. It’s been a week and the guy already knows where their mixing bowls go. Not that they really had any mixing bowls to begin with, but still. 

“Good morning,” Seokjin says, unusually subdued. His cheeks are still colored pink. 

“Hi,” Yoongi says wryly. You do remember your promise, right?” 

Seokjin takes one look at Yoongi’s dubiously-raised eyebrow and scowls. Of course,” he says huffily. I’m not an idiot nor an airhead, as much as you might think it. I’m keeping my hands clean.” 

“Namjoon hasn’t noticed anything yet,” Yoongi admits, watching his roommate bump around the room, picking various things up and setting them back down until he settles in front of the TV, flipping the channel over to a soccer game. 

He misses the nearly-guilty look that passes over Seokjin’s face, which is smooth by the time Yoongi turns back around. Of course,” Seokjin says cooly, opening the fridge to grab the butter. I’m careful.” 

“Careful like what I just saw?” Yoongi teases, because it’s so much fun to press Seokjin’s buttons—even if there is always the possibility he might lose his life—and sure enough, Seokjin’s face starts to go pink again. 

“Watch your words, Min Yoongi,” he says flippantly, and if Yoongi didn’t know him as well as he did (24/7 around a guy for a week really forces unnecessary closeness) he’d think Seokjin was making idle threats. 

He’s not, the last of his bruises remind him. Remember the wall? 

And the pavement, his ribs add on. Don’t forget the pavement. 

Yoongi chortles and moves off to go torture Namjoon, who’ll yield much more easily and won’t toss Yoongi out a window if he starts to toe a line. Sure, Namjoon is scary when he’s angry—all cool-tempered anger and sharp words—but he wouldn’t cause Yoongi bodily harm or, you know, break three of his ribs and give him a major concussion. For example. 

“Sweatpants,” Yoongi says thoughtfully, sitting down next to Namjoon. Who woulda thought.” 

“You’re an asshole,” Namjoon states, but he doesn’t sound angry. Has anyone told you that?” 

“Yeah,” Yoongi remarks. So often that I’m starting to think it’s my name. Either way, I can’t believe it’s Seokjin, for fuck’s sake. Really, Joon-ah? Out of all of the men—no, out of all of the people—you go for him?” 

Namjoon casts a brief look over his shoulder, where Seokjin is being stupid and making them breakfast. Making Namjoon breakfast, at least. He’s probably poisoning Yoongi’s food at this point.

“I can’t help it,” Namjoon says quietly. There’s just something about him. I don’t know. Is it a bad thing for me to like him?” 

“It’ll probably kill you, yeah,” Yoongi says, sobering up when he realizes that yes, Namjoon is one-hundred-percent serious right now, no fucking around. 

Namjoon laughs. Don’t be dramatic, hyung.” 

I wonder what his face would look like if he realized Yoongi wasn’t lying, Akane says delightfully. He’ d probably be pretty angry. Secrets secrets are no fun, she sing-songs. 

Dios , Akane, why can’t you let the guy like who he likes? Does everything have to be terrible? Gonzales asks. 

“I’m just saying,” Yoongi answers, dutifully ignoring the spirits. Hey, Jackson and Yugyeom are coming over tonight, right?” 

“Right,” Namjoon says, blinking a little at the subject change. Yoongi doesn’t really want to talk about Seokjin anymore—the guy’s not his favorite person in the world, and his best friend liking him only makes things infinitely more complicated. Why?” 

“Just checking,” Yoongi says evasively.   Um, if you’re going out, can I come with?” 

Namjoon’s eyes go wide, but he swallows his surprise quickly. Sure,” he says easily, like it hasn’t been six months since Yoongi’s asked to go out with Namjoon. 

In all honesty, it’s Jimin. Last night, Yoongi had been on the verge of sleep (and at first he’d thought he’d dreamed it) when he had heard Jimin whispering quietly to Gonzales. 

I only wanted to see the world outside of the magical community, Jimin had said, ever-so-softly. I didn’t mean for all of this to happen. 

I know, esé, Gonzales had replied. But Min Yoongi seems like a good person. I get the feeling he doesn’t blame you one bit. 

Even now, the words ring true in Yoongi’s head— I only wanted to see the world. 

Yoongi pulls out his phone, as Namjoon’s sitting right next to him. Jimin, he types, is there anything you wanted to do today?

The voices in the background immediately quiet. Seokjin calls Namjoon over for breakfast and Yoongi waits for Jimin to respond. 

Why do you ask? Jimin finally says, sounding genuinely surprised. Is that why you asked Namjoon to go out?

Because I feel bad. Because you’re stuck with me. Because you’ve been kept in your house your whole life. Yeah.” Yoongi says aloud, now that Namjoon’s out of earshot. I’m bored, I guess.” 

Well, Jimin starts tentatively, if it’s alright with you, I’ve always wanted to see the temple on the hill. 

Yoongi nods and spins around. Hey, Joon-ah,” he calls. Namjoon looks up, mouth full of toast and eggs. Do you want to go to the temple after breakfast?” 

Seokjin’s eyebrows shoot up at the mention of that. Namjoon nods and swallows. I had planned on going later, but we can go soon. Why?” 

“I’m coming,” Yoongi tells him, and hears Jimin’s little gasp of happiness in the background. I, um, I’ve got a photography project and there’s some stuff up there I wanna take pictures of.” 

Namjoon smiles at Yoongi. It’s hopeful and proud all at once. Awesome,” he says. I’d love for you to come.” He turns to Seokjin. Did you want to tag along, hyung?” 

Seokjin’s eyes widen just enough for Yoongi to catch but his faces quickly smooths over into casual interest. Sure,” Seokjin says, examining his fingernails. I met the person I was supposed to see already, so I’ve got an unexpected free day.” 

Namjoon’s grinning—he must’ve seen Seokjin’s reaction, too. I’m glad,” he says genuinely. 

The answering smile Seokjin gives him is small, but so unguarded and beautiful that Yoongi feels bad for Namjoon, who’s on the receiving end of it. 

Both Seokjin’s cheeks and Namjoon’s ears are pink at this point. Yoongi makes a point to snicker at them both as he crams his egg toast into his mouth before Seokjin can kill him with their new spatula.

 


 

Seokjin’s wearing the sweatpants Yoongi wanted for today so he wiggles into an old pair of jeans for the first time in a while (the club doesn’t count). He’s amazed that they even still fit. Akane whistles at him and B. Gates helpfully reminds him of the money in his back pocket, which he gives to Namjoon begrudgingly so his best friend can buy Kim Seokjin a bus ticket. Yoongi bears though a whole bus ride next to them just so Jimin can hear Namjoon’s historical rundown of every single convenience store and the name of each street. 

Goddamn, those two are annoying. Stupid Namjoon and his idiot brain, going off and liking Kim Seokjin, of all people. Kim Seokjin, who’s probably just playing with his food. Who can throw a grown man through a wall in a second and freeze hearts in less than that. Who has actually signed laws against people like Namjoon. 

Who is currently involved in a magical scheme that could—and would—endanger Namjoon’s life. 

And no matter how much Namjoon beams, no matter how excited he gets when Seokjin turns his eyes to him, Yoongi can’t let his best friend get into this mess. 

The bus drops them off at the bottom of the hill and Yoongi hears Seokjin’s little gasp of awe. 

It is beautiful, he supposes. The stone path leading up to the temple is covered a blanket of fallen leaves, and the pine trees are bright green against the blue of the sky. Yoongi pulls out his camera—packed partially to adhere to the lie he’d told Namjoon, and partially because he has homework—and takes a picture. 

It’s beautiful, Jimin says. 

“Just wait,” Yoong replies. You haven’t seen the top of the hill yet.” 

“The sky’s clear,” Namjoon is telling Seokjin excitedly as they start up the path. So we should be able to see the ocean.” 

The walk up is quiet—not because they don’t have anything to say, but because there’s a respectful kind of hush that surrounds the whole area. 

Birdsong accompanies and Jimin squeaks delightedly when a rabbit runs through the leaves on their left. 

Look, it’s Gonzales, Akane teases, making the cadejo to grumble. 

They reach the temple. It’s small but well-kept, the front entryway clean of leaves and a fresh bowl of milk set out on the steps. 

They don’t go in—younger kids usually don’t, Namjoon’s told him. It’s the elders that maintain the temple, so they stay outside. Namjoon clasps his hands in front of him and bows his head like he’s done a thousand times before him. Seokjin shifts awkwardly before lowering his eyes, casting unsure glances at Namjoon. 

They can see the ocean in the distance, glittering like a gem and meeting the horizon in the distance with a blue kiss. 

It’s beautiful, hyung, Jimin says lowly. 

Yoongi takes a breath, lungs filling with clean air. Yeah,” he says. It is, isn’t it?” 

Namjoon turns to Seokjin. You want to walk around a little bit?” 

“I’d like that,” Seokjin says. Yoongi gives Seokjin a hard, meaningful look as they both head off into the pine trees. 

Yoongi finally faces the temple. My grandmother used to take me up here when I was in high school,” he says after a moment. I never really wanted to go with her.” 

Do you miss her a lot? Jimin asks. 

“She was all I really had,” he starts unsurely. There’s a brief struggle where he fights to keep the rising wave of grief in his chest down before he continues. My parents never really got along. They got divorced when I was fifteen. And besides, I haven’t talked to my mother in years, and the last time I saw my father was at my grandmother’s funeral.” 

I’m sorry, Jimin says. He’s always fucking saying that, but he’s so genuine that Yoongi can’t get irritated. I never knew my dad. He died before I was born. It was just me and my mom. 

Yoongi exhales before he continues. I kind of regret not listening to my grandma,” he mumbles. Another wave of grief, stale and familiar, threatens to drown him. It turns out she was right about everything. Magic, milk, and all.”

Tears sting his eyes, and Jimin waits quietly for Yoongi to continue. He can remember all the weekends she’d dragged him up here, rain or snow, legs or wheelchair. How she’d whisper things under her breath and stand right where Yoongi’s standing, hands clasped and head bowed. 

“I really, really miss her,” Yoongi finally admits. 

It’s the first time he’s said it out loud. Something inside of him gives way at these words, caving in with relief. 

She sounds like an incredible woman. I would’ve loved to meet her, Jimin says gently. 

There’s a rustle as Namjoon and Seokjin emerge from the trees. Seokjin’s got pine needles in his hair and Namjoon’s grinning widely. 

Yoongi sniffs and hastily wipes his eyes, pulling his sleeves back down over his hands. 

Namjoon gives him a questioning look, which Yoongi responds with a pointed look between him and Seokjin. 

“We were thinking of getting walking around some more, hyung,” Namjoon says, clearing his throat and breaking the thick silence. Seokjin wants to check out a couple shops.” 

Yoongi stares at Seokjin, behind Namjoon. The witch shakes his head resolutely— no, I won’t do anything. 

“I’ve got more pictures to take,” Yoongi says, patting the camera at his side. Don’t worry about me. Can you run to the grocery store, though? We’re short a couple things for tonight.” 

“Tonight?” Seokjin asks in confusion, tilting his head. 

“It’s movie night,” Namjoon explains, and totally misreads Seokjin’s befuddlement for hurt. You can stay if you’d like; it’s just a couple of our friends, nothing big.” 

Seokjin looks incredibly lost. Yoongi has to hide a snort behind his hand. 

Movie night? Is that a kind of holiday? Jimin asks. I mean, I know what movies are—we had them on tapes at home-- 

“Did you just say tapes?” Yoongi cuts in as they start back down the path, Namjoon far ahead of them. Jesus, Jimin, haven’t you heard of DVDs?” 

Can’t say I have, Jimin responds. 

“You forget,” Seokjin says, overhearing Yoongi’s part of the conversation, that most of the magical community has never even heard of what many ordinaries call common’. It’s mostly just the newer generation, but kids are so rare nowadays—” 

“Are you coming, hyungs?” Namjoon calls up to them, turning around. Seokjin nods hurriedly as Yoongi’s mouth snaps shut. 

As Seokjin  goes to catch up with Namjoon, Jimin speaks again. I wonder if Seokjin’s worried about what he heard at his meeting. 

Seokjin had come back from his fancy government gathering with a pale face. Apparently, the government was pushing to re-separate the ordinary and magic community. And, according to one of Seokjin’s friends, the crime rate over the last two weeks had spiked because of it. 

Besides that, Yoongi can’t detect any differences in Seokjin’s stress level—but then again, he doesn’t really care if the witch is stressed out or not. 

“Maybe,” Yoongi replies, shrugging. Ahead, he watches Namjoon slip on the wet stone. Before he can fall, Seokjin’s fingers twitch and Namjoon rights himself, assisted by an unseen force. Either way, he needs to stop with Namjoon. Seriously. I don’t want my best friend hurt.” 

Am I the only one who finds your weakness for your friends absolutely hilarious? Akane chimes in gaily. 

I wouldn’t call it a weakness, Gonzales says wisely. Good friends are hard to come by and even harder to keep. They’re valuable in many ways. 

I think it’s sweet, Jimin says. Though I agree with Yoongi. Who knows what could happen if Namjoon gets involved?

Yoongi pretends like he doesn’t hear that and ignores the pleased little flutter in his chest at Jimin’s words. 

He parts from Seokjin and Namjoon at the bottom of the hill— he really does have pictures to take —and Jimin requests that they go to the park. 

So Yoongi walks them over there and takes a picture of a man cooing at a baby while his wife laughs at him. And then they go to a convenience store where Yoongi buys Chilsung Cider— enjoy it vicariously for me, hyung —and takes another shot of a little girl buttoning her brother’s coat. 

It seems Jimin’s got a whole list of places, from the fountain in the park square to the cherry trees to the elementary school. Yoongi takes him to as many as he can—his knowledge of the area is sparse compared to Namjoon’s historical rambling, but he looks things up on his phone and reads them aloud to everyone. 

It’s weird, to say the least, toting around a bunch of spirits to sightsee. But it’s oddly…nice, as well. And he gets a bunch of pictures that he thinks he can use in his project, which is a plus. 

He gets back at around three—Seokjin and Namjoon aren’t home yet—which means naptime for Yoongi. The spirits finally understand that lying down means it’s time for them to be quiet. Yeonhee, the dryad, presses cool magic to his forehead and his headache (probably caused by the unusual amount of exercise he’d gotten) abates almost immediately. 

He snaps awake a little later when Seokjin and Namjoon come back. Seokjin’s got his arms full of shopping bags and Namjoon is chattering away with a smile on his face. 

Yoongi sits up, rubbing his eyes. Whassa time?” He slurs. 

“Hey, hyung,” Namjoon greets. It’s almost five. How was your nap?” 

“Awesome until it ended,” he says pointedly. Jesus, Seok—I mean, hyung—how much did you buy?” 

“Just a couple of things,” Seokjin says. There’s this kid that I know—Jeon Jeongguk—who’d really like a bunch of this stuff. He doesn’t get out much thanks to his super-strict parents.” 

Namjoon winces sympathetically. Does he go to school here?” 

“Er,” Seokjin says. No?” 

It’s clearly the wrong thing to say, as Namjoon looks confused—and even worse, curious. He’s opening his mouth to ask another question when his face goes blank. Thanks, Seokjin, Yoongi thinks wrly, for magically rewiring my best friend’s brain. 

Then he shakes his head. What was I talking about?” He asks, rubbing his neck. I completely lost my train of thought.” 

“Ah, nothing,” Seokjin says hurriedly. Yoongi narrows his eyes at him, suspicious. When did you say your friends were coming over?” 

There’s some quiet whispering in the background that Yoongi can’t quite make out, but he catches Seokjin’s name a couple times. 

“Seven,” Namjoon says, so Yoongi pushes Namjoon’s weird brain glitch to the back of his mind and promptly forgets about it. It’s not his business, and he has no intention of making it so.

 


 

Jackson and Yugyeom arrive almost twenty minutes late, because apparently Jackson had to physically drag Yugyeom away from his newest hookup. 

“He’s not just a casual lay,” Yugyeom whines from the doorway as he toes off his shoes. He’s gorgeous, and so funny. I think our brains are on the same wavelength.” 

“You have a brain?” Yoongi asks in mock-surprise, startling Yugyeom. That’s news to me.” 

Jackson bursts into laughter and claps Yugyeom loudly on the back. 

They both catch sight of Seokjin at that time as well. 

“This is my cousin Kim Seokjin,” Yoongi introduces, hoping that he’s remembered their alibi correctly. He’s from Seoul.” 

Seokjin bows to both of them, even Yuygeom, the little shit. It’s nice to meet you,” he says politely. I hope you don’t mind the intrusion.” 

Jackson’s smirking when he turns to Namjoon. That Kim Seokjin?” Jackson asks pointedly, raising his eyebrows. Everyone but Seokjin gets the implication, who hides his confusion well behind a smile. Namjoon, meanwhile chokes on his water and shoves Jackson, hiding his pink face. 

Once they’re all settled, filled with their movie-night classic of chicken and beer, the long debate on which movie to watch begins. 

“For the last fucking time, Yugyeom, we are not watching Train to Busan . We all know you’ve got a massive hard-on for Gong Yoo, but you picked last time so I’m vetoing you,” Yoongi says, crossing his arms.

Yugyeom pouts. But it’s been so long since we had a movie night, hyung!” 

“Don’t puppy-eye me,” Yoongi says sharply. Your opinion is rejected.” 

Jackson holds up another DVD. How about The Matrix?” 

“Jackson, I’m not reading subtitles. I’m way too tired for that,” Yoongi says. 

“Okay, okay,” Jackson grumbles. Um, The Host?” 

“Ooh,” Namjoon says. I haven’t seen that one in a while.” 

“It’s scary,” Yugyeom whines. Seokjin-hyung, back me up.” 

“I can’t say I’ve ever seen it,” Seokjin says delicately. 

He means he’s never seen a movie in his life, Jimin translates for Yoongi, who has to bite down a laugh. 

“Well, if hyung hasn’t seen it,” Yoongi says, grinning at Seokjin, I think we should watch it.” 

The Host it is,” Jackson says, and pops the disc into the DVD player. Namjoon hits the lights and Yoongi leans back into the couch. 

Yugyeom whines all the way through the opening credits until Yoongi nudges the back of his head with his foot. Only then does he shut up, the annoying brat. 

Jackson finishes the popcorn by himself twenty minutes in, Namjoon won’t stop narrating to Seokjin, and Yugyeom’s got half of his face covered by a pillow, eyes wide. 

Yoongi missed this. He missed his friends. He put them all through a lot of shit when his grandmother died. He snapped back at anyone that offered a kind word and slammed countless doors in faces when someone offered him even the barest hint of warmth. So many people left, discouraged as month after month dragged on without any change from him. For a while, too, he’d convinced himself that this was what living was now: a half-shadow of his previous self, a ghost of the person he’d been. 

Time, though, had told him to grow the fuck up and stop moping. Or maybe that was himself after so many long days spent in bed with his head under his pillow. And he’d been genuinely surprised to open the door—metaphorically and literally —and find Namjoon, Jackson and Yugyeom waiting on the other side. 

Seokjin’s transfixed by the movie, mouth hanging open. And judging by the awed silence of the spirits, they are too. 

This is…this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, Jimin gasps. Even cooler than escalators or GPS. 

Color me impressed, chiquito, Gonzales says gruffly. I didn’t know humans had come so far that they could put moving pictures on screens. 

“It’s just a movie,” Yoongi grumbles, but Jimin’s squeal of excitement when the monster emerges on is absolutely adorable. Yoongi’s man enough to admit that. 

Namjoon laughs when Seokjin flinches at a jumpscare. I still can’t believe you’ve never seen this,” he whispers. It’s hilarious. 

Yoongi watches Seokjin curl his fingers just enough that Namjoon topples over to the side, pushes by an unseen force. I don’t normally have time to watch a lot of movies,” Seokjin says. It’s true enough, Yoongi supposes, seeing as Seokjin’s a member of the freaking High Council, AKA the actual witch government. 

“Namjoon-ah, I can’t watch if you’re talking,” Jackson complains, throwing a popcorn kernel at Namjoon’s head. Shut your loud mouth.” 

“Jackson, you’re literally the one who’s yelling right now,” Yoongi points out. 

“Guys, guys, I can’t remember if Hyun-seo gets out of the sewers, or if the monster’s only pretending— ah! ” Yugyeom exclaims, throwing his arm over his face as the monster on screen proceeds to swallow both Hyun-seo and Se-joo. 

“Eugh,” Seokjin says, making a face. Why did they fall for that? The monster was obviously trying to trick them.” 

If that were me, Akane adds as if Seokjin can hear her, I’d beat that thing into a pulp. 

You’d beat anything into a pulp if it so much as looked at you, Gonzales says drily. 

The movie wraps up from there. Jackson’s asleep when the ending credits roll, and Namjoon and Seokjin are sitting so close Yoongi wouldn’t be able to fit a single won between them. Yugyeom’s watery-eyed and pale from a combination of the ending and the monster. 

They say goodbye to their friends—Yugyeom grabs Yoongi into a hug before he can protest or dodge and Jackson makes Yoongi promise that they’ll do this again. Then they’re gone into the misty night and the house is quiet and dim. A slow wave of exhaustion rolls over Yoongi and he bids Namjoon goodnight and falls into his bed. 

Thanks for today, Jimin says. You didn’t have to do any of that for me. 

“I had pictures to take,” Yoongi says, though it’s a flimsy excuse. Fuck it, he decides, because sometimes (rarely) honesty is the best policy. And besides, I wanted to.” 

A beat of surprised silence from Jimin, then a quiet oh. 

Yoongi sighs. It’s just…you’ve gotta be bored, stuck on my arm the whole time. Without a body, no less. And we’re not any closer to figuring out how to slam you back in there.” 

It’s not boring, Jimin assures him quickly. I’m learning so much, and I get to see so many things I’d never even dreamed of seeing. 

“I don’t know about that,” Yoongi says, but I appreciate it anyway.” 

I have no clue why you’re so hard on yourself, Jimin says quietly after a moment of silence, long enough that Yoongi’s started to drift off. You’re a good person, hyung. 

Yoongi definitely pretends not to hear that comment, but has to hide his smile in his pillow anyway.

 


 

By the time Tuesday has rolled around, Yoongi and Seokjin have fallen into an (unfortunate) routine. Yoongi goes to school and comes back whenever he’s done to help Seokjin page through moldy history books and old journals for anything that could be of use to them. The library books, at this point, are stuffed with so many notes in Seokjin’s handwriting that it’s getting hard to close them. 

They don’t make much progress. Yoongi can tell that with each hour of research that yields nothing, Seokjin gets more and more frustrated. His magic is leaking everywhere as a result —things randomly lift off and start floating weightlessly through the air, for example. Or another time, when Namjoon started paging through one of the books and Seokjin slammed it closed so hard Namjoon’s hand bruised. The thing in Yoongi’s chest strains desperately at the wards, wanting to shove back against Seokjin’s magic. Tension fills the room, making it even harder to focus. 

It doesn’t help that Seokjin and Namjoon are getting increasingly closer—they went out for dinner on Wednesday night, for fuck’s sake. Seokjin still promises Yoongi that Namjoon won’t notice anything, but that’s definitely guilt or shame that flickers over his face when he mentions it. It doesn’t help that Namjoon’s been putting print-outs of Reddit threads in between Seokjin’s notes. Seokjin, of course, doesn’t know that it’s Namjoon and Yoongi will admit that it’s relatively helpful, despite it being pages of semi-coherent magical conspiracies. 

On the other hand, it means that whatever spell or magic Seokjin’s got over Namjoon is fading, and fast. It’s worrying, and Yoongi keeps meaning to bring it up with Seokjin.

Right now, they’re downtown, buying a cellphone for Seokjin—partially because Yoongi’s tired of delivering messages from Namjoon to him, but also because Hoseok will not stop texting him. Yoongi knew the guy had a phone, but didn’t expect him to use it that often. He already regrets putting Hoseok’s number in. 

Don’t give Seokjin a fancy phone, Jimin advises. He won’t know how to work it. 

Yoongi sighs and types out a response, not wanting to talk aloud while other people are around . I keep forgetting that the newest piece of technology for you guys is cable. 

It’s mostly due to the enforced segregation by the High Council, Jimin responds. We’re separated because they think it’s safer. 

Is it? 

Jimin is quiet for a beat. I don’t know, hyung. I don’t think I’m allowed to say. But the High Council has kept us safe for hundreds of years. It’s only just now that they’re worried about the intermixing. 

Um, not to interrupt this scintillating conversation, but Robe Guy looks like he’s about to cause a hurricane, Gonzales says. Yoongi looks up to see Seokjin on the verge of tears as a poor sales associate attempts to explain to him what unlimited text means. 

Yoongi hurries over and interrupts their conversation. Don’t worry about him,” he says to the harried-looking associate. We’ll sign up for that data plan, and take the newest model.” 

The sales associate heaves a sigh of relief. Great. You get 30% off, too.” 

Yoongi grabs Seokjin by the elbow, ignoring the witch’s protests. You need to calm down or it’ll start raining in here.” 

“It won’t rain,” Seokjin insists, but his voice pitches with distress. Was he even speaking Korean? What’s a service provider? Or chat and text?” 

Yoongi levels a glare at Seokjin. Don’t worry about it. I’ll explain later.” 

They buy the phone and Yoongi sets it up for Seokjin on the bus ride back, keying in his, Hoseok’s and Namjoon’s numbers. Seokjin immediately finds the stickers and the emojis and proceeds to overuse them. Yoongi’s phone doesn’t stop buzzing for a second as Seokjin, with a delight that Yoongi’s never seen on him before, sends him sticker after sticker. 

Yoongi bids goodbye to Seokjin at the apartment door and turns back around and heads to class. He’s got his photos from the weekend printed—it’s a critique day, and Yoongi feels good about his pictures. Every single one is personal—he can remember the exact cadence of Jimin’s voice in every memory. 

He lays the prints out on the table and people come by, circling the small room and writing comments on pieces of paper. Then they open it up for discussion. 

“Yoongi-yah,” one of his classmates says. I really liked yours. They felt very intimate.” 

“I agree,” another chimes in. You can really feel the affection.” 

Ooh, Akane coos. Affection. Did you hear that, Jimin?  

Shh, Jimin says, but Yoongi’s cheeks are already heating up. 

Affection. Huh. He didn’t think it was possible, to feel anything but mild loathing or disinterest towards the spirits on his arm. But Jimin—Jimin’s different. Maybe it’s because he’s human, but there’s something about his presence that’s… nice. Comforting, maybe. 

His phone buzzes with a text from Hoseok at the end of class: 

hoseok: come home fast!!!!! EMERGENCY!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m not kidding hurry hyung 

Yoongi’s heart drops. 

yoongi: what happened? holy shit if you’ve destroyed my house… 

There’s no reply, which only makes Yoongi’s panic spike higher. He dodges his classmates on the way out, accepting compliments with a hurried bow as he bursts out of the building. The first snow of the year drifts down in heavy white flakes and the air is quiet and still. 

What’s wrong? Jimin presses. 

“I have no idea,” Yoongi huffs as he jogs over to his car. But Hoseok’s not responding, and it’s making me nervous.”

I hope Seokjin-hyung is alright, Jimin says worriedly. 

“I hope the apartment isn’t on fire,” Yoongi says, jamming the keys into the ignition and slamming the door closed. Which, knowing Hoseok, is incredibly likely.” 

He drives aggressively, nearly running a couple of schoolkids over. 

Hyung, watch out, Jimin warns. Don’t hurt yourself. Or anyone else. 

Yeonhee’s magic pours over him, slow and soothing. Some of his panic lets up and his heart stops thundering so quickly, and he takes a deep breath through his nose at the last red light before his apartment. 

Thanks, noona, Jimin says. There’s a murmur of a response that Yoongi can’t hear before Jimin’s talking again. Hey, hyung, whatever you see, or whatever you do, please don’t panic. 

“I’m trying my goddamn best,” Yoongi says, gritting his teeth as he pulls into a parking spot. There’s no smoke coming from their windows, which are blessedly still intact, so at least it’s not fire. But I swear to god, this is what I get for letting goddamn witches into my life.” 

Hoseok’s broom is sitting on the front porch as Yoongi throws the front door open and pounds up the stairs. 

Hyung, Jimin says, more insistently. I can feel them both on the other side of the door, they’re fine, it’s fine— 

“Is that fucking blood?” Yoongi snaps when he reaches the door. Sure enough, the knob’s got a red handprint on it. The door’s unlocked—of course it is, because it’s Seokjin and Hoseok—and he pulls it open.  

The sight that greets him is almost absurd. Hoseok’s lying on the table, half-conscious. Blood seeps from his stomach and his fingers glint dully, like metal—his magic, probably. Seokjin’s got his sleeves rolled up, hands glowing as he attempts to keep Hoseok’s guts where they should be. Yoongi gags at the smell and closes the door behind him. 

“What the actual hell?” He shouts, and Seokjin looks up, magic flickering around him. Hoseok’s pet plant winds itself comfortingly around Hoseok’s ankle. On the ground, his bag—also splattered in blood, Yoongi notes with a grimace—overflows with crystals, strange vials, and papers in writing that shifts and changes. 

The whole scene screams magic and it sets Yoongi’s teeth on edge. 

“Hi,” Hoseok grunts, grimacing in pain as Seokjin tears a sheet of paper out of one of Yoongi’s notebooks. Sorry to make a mess. I got shot.” 

“You got shot?” Yoongi gasps in horror, sidestepping the mess of bloody clothes on the ground. How? By who? Why?” 

There’s a flicker of light as the paper in Seokjin’s hand turns to gauze. Hoseok got a little too close to sensitive information,” Seokjin explains. Can you help, please? Then I can explain.” 

“I have no desire to get that close to that amount of blood,” Yoongi says, fighting nausea. 

Hey chiquito, don’t be an ass, Gonzales grumbles. This guy’s doing his best, yeah? And the guy on the table got hurt helping you. It’s time to start repaying that debt. 

I can help, the doctor snake chimes in. You just need to get closer. 

Seokjin-hyung’s asking really nicely, too, Jimin says. 

Well, fuck. Now he really can’t say no, after he’s been scolded by a bunch of spirits. 

“What do you need me to do?” Yoongi asks cautiously, pulling off jacket and approaching the table. 

“Take this,” Seokjin says, handing him a clean piece of gauze. Keep pressure on him. I’m going to start healing the wound as best I can.” 

Yoongi presses the gauze to Hoseok’s stomach, switching out the other one, which is soaked-through. 

Tell Kim Seokjin he’ll need advanced healing, the snake says. Internal organs have been hit as well and he’ll have bleeding unless the magic reaches deep. 

“Um, the snake doctor on my wrist says Hoseok will have internal bleeding unless you use advanced healing magic.” 

Seokjin takes a tight breath. Healing’s not my specialty,” he mutters. I don’t know about this.” 

“You’ve got this, hyung,” Hoseok says weakly, offering a thumbs-up. 

“What even happened?” Yoongi asks, afraid to lift the gauze and see exactly what kind of injury Hoseok’s gotten. 

“I got shot,” Hoseok repeats. What makes the mafia unstoppable by the government is their blend of ordinary technology and—ouch, shit, that hurts—and magic.” 

“Sorry,” Seokjin mutters. I have to get the projectile out.” He drops a bullet onto the table with a little clatter

“So they shot you with an ordinary bullet?” 

“Well, an ordinary bullet infused with a mixture to wipe my memory—which didn’t work because I’m warded against that shit,” Hoseok says brightly, like he’s not dying on Yoongi’s kitchen table right now. But yeah. Just because I can practice magic doesn’t mean—fuck, fuck, ouch, hyung, watch your casting radius—I’m bulletproof.” 

“Okay,” Seokjin says a little breathlessly. Sweat beads on his forehead and Yoongi feels oddly compelled to offer some kind of support. Okay. I can do this. I can do this.” 

“Jimin says he believes in you,” Yoongi blurts before he can think, and some of the tension eases off of Seokjin’s face. 

Hyung, Jimin says, confused, I didn’t say anything. Then: aw, you wanted to encourage him?

Yoongi ignores him, stepping back when Seokjin approaches the table, hands swirling with the same intensity Yoongi had first seen two weeks ago. 

Hoseok’s eyes roll back in his head as soon as Seokjin’s palms make contact with his flesh and he’s out cold. 

Seokjin winces a little, but doesn’t stop. The light builds in intensity, but the smell of something fresh and energizing fills the room. Just inhaling it makes Yoongi’s nerves tingle, blood zinging with alertness. 

A couple seconds later, the light fades. Seokjin removes his hands, face shiny with sweat. The puncture on Hoseok’s stomach has sealed, leaving an angry red mark and a little blood. 

Relief floods Yoongi’s veins. You did it,” he breathes. 

“I did it,” Seokjin echoes. 

There’s a sound from the doorway that makes both of them look up. Seokjin’s magic flares to life and there’s Namjoon, standing in the doorway with his mouth agape. His wide eyes take the whole scene in: the blood, Hoseok, Seokjin’s glowing hands, the magic plant, and the tattoo that crawls all the way up Yoongi’s right arm. 

The coffee in Namjoon’s hands slips, splashing all over the floor. 

“Oh, shit,” Yoongi says. 

He’s got a lot of explaining to do. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Namjoon holds up his hands before Yoongi can even say anything. I don’t want excuses,” he says quietly. I just want the truth.” 

Yoongi’s mouth shuts with a little click and he studies Namjoon’s face closely. He doesn’t look angry, or disgusted or like he wants to punch something—he mostly looks fed up, and maybe a little upset. You’re not…mad?” Yoongi asks cautiously. 

 “What good would that do?” Namjoon responds, rubbing his forehead. I’m sure you had your reasons to hide…all of this. I’m a little hurt that you kept all of it from me—I mean, it’s my apartment too—but mostly I want to know what’s going on.” 

From his spot on the table, Hoseok groans, eyelids flickering. 

Seokjin has a guilty look on his face, and he only looks guiltier as he says, Namjoon-ah, there’s not much we can tell you.” 

Namjoon takes his shoes off and goes to stand in front of them, a steely look in his eye. You owe me the truth.”

Seokjin’s face hardens. I don’t owe you anything, Namjoon. You have served your use—I’m just sorry that you had to find out in the end.”

Namjoon looks at Seokjin in disbelief and then actually laughs. 

Yoongi looks between the two of them, confused. Am I missing something here?” 

“I’m not an idiot, hyung,” Namjoon says, chortling. I knew you were lying about something from the very beginning. I just pretended like I didn’t, because I still wanted to see you. Didn’t you think all the excuses I had for going out sounded too convenient?” 

Now it’s Seokjin’s turn to freeze in disbelief. I—you said it was for research—“ 

Namjoon gives Seokjin a look he must’ve picked up from Yoongi. You think going out for barbecue was research? 

Seokjin tries for words and fails. He desperately tries to reorient himself. He’d severely underestimated Namjoon, who, it seemed, had seen through his plan—and his magic, at that—from the very beginning. 

“I had to—I mean, I thought you wouldn't find out,” Seokjin sputters. 

Namjoon makes a sound halfway between amusement and annoyance. I can see right through you, you know.” 

Yoongi raises an eyebrow at that and Seokjin ducks to hide his face. He’s never felt so…exposed. Unprepared. Outmatched. Kim Namjoon has beat Kim Seokjin at his own game and Seokjin has no idea what to do with himself now that he’s lost. 

“I feel bad,” Seokjin admits, feeling very, very small. I’m sorry.” The truth is this: he likes Namjoon. He likes the way Namjoon talks to him like he’s an equal, likes the way Namjoon gets excited about things. He like the way Namjoon smiles, likes the dimples in his cheeks and the way that he says Seokjin’s name. He likes going out for ramen and hiking up hills and through forests—he likes it all. And Seokjin knows he’s in way over his head (it’s only been a number of weeks since they’ve met!) but he already knows that losing Namjoon might be the worst thing that could happen to him. 

“I’ll forgive you,” Namjoon starts, and Seokjin can’t help the way his heart jumps in his chest. But,” Namjoon continues, only if you explain everything. From start to finish.” 

Yoongi, who’s been edging towards his room, freezes guiltily in place when Namjoon narrows his eyes at him. You too, hyung. Nice tattoo, by the way. I can’t believe I didn’t notice that before now.” 

“Just wait,” Yoongi mutters darkly. It moves. And talks to me.” As if on cue, the tattoo bursts into movement. Namjoon watches a pair of hands sign something the snake around Yoongi’s wrist, which is being pestered by a black cat. And that’s only his forearm. 

There’s a beat of silence as Namjoon watches, then another. Yeah,” Namjoon says slowly, swallowing hard. The whole story. From the top.” 

“But the law—“ Seokjin interjects. 

“Seokjin,” Yoongi says dryly, Namjoon just walked in on you magically healing a bullet wound on another witch.” 

“Hmm?” Hoseok says groggily, lifting his head from the table and looking around. Am I dead?” His eyes find Namjoon, and he smiles, still a bit dazed. Oh, hey. It’s the ordinary! Are we gonna finally tell him?” 

Seokjin purses his lips—he still doesn’t like the idea of breaking the law—but doesn’t object further. 

Yoongi sighs, gesturing to the couch. You’ll probably want to sit down,” he tells Namjoon. It’s kind of a long story, and it started when Park Jimin disconnected his soul from his body.”

 


 

By the time Yoongi is done, it’s late afternoon. Everyone’s migrated to the couch: Hoseok, cleaned off and wrapped up in a lot of gauze; Seokjin, who interjects when Yoongi starts talking about the High Council, and Namjoon, who listens intently, absorbing everything he hears with startling calmness. 

“You’re taking this incredibly well,” Seokjin comments—he’s still acting weird, too. Yoongi thinks he’s probably waiting for Namjoon’s verdict. Which is hilarious if Yoongi thinks about it: immensely powerful witch Kim Seokjin, waiting for the decision of absolutely-fucking-ordinary Kim Namjoon. 

“I’ve lived here for my whole life,” Namjoon says. I’ve always known that there was something. I just didn’t know it would be the existence of a completely functional and entirely separate witch community.” 

Hoseok snorts. The High Council’d be thrilled to hear that,” he says. They love keeping things separate. Especially the witches and the ordinaries.” 

Seokjin shoots him a freezing look. It’s for safety, Hoseok, you know that. They want to keep any ordinaries from getting hurt and stop any witches from being dissected.” 

Hoseok holds up his hands. I’m not trying to start anything, hyung. I was just saying. Besides, I heard back from Jisoo. She’s looking into stuff for me. Thinks it might have to do with some groups in the north.” 

“I still can’t believe there’s a magical mafia,” Namjoon says, shaking his head. Like, a government, I get. Mailmen on broomsticks, fine. The fact that Yoongi’s got a bunch of spirits trapped on his arm—well, actually, that’s kind of bizarre, but witch gangsters? And they shot you, too.”

Hoseok winces, pressing a hand to his chest. Yeah.”

“’Yeah?’” Seokjin echoes dubiously. You're not going to tell us why?” 

“It's embarrassing,” Hoseok whines. I'm good at my job, hyung. I've never been caught before. And I was just sniffing around—talking with an old contact who used to have ties to pay-to-hire mercs.” 

“Mercenaries?” Yoongi asks, eyes widening. You think Jimin was kidnapped by mercenaries?” 

“I’m sure of it,” Hoseok says grimly. My contact confirmed it directly.” 

“Who hired them?” Seokjin demands, curling his fingers. I swear, I’m going to kill anyone that’s even laid a finger on Jimin—” 

“Whoa, whoa,” Hoseok says, patting Seokjin on the shoulder before he can do something like set the couch on fire or blast someone through a wall. I hate to break it to you, hyung, but…I don’t know who hired them. That’s when I was shot. My contact, too—only, they weren’t warded against the memory wipe. I only managed to confirm that someone had been hired. I don’t know what group, or who they were paid by.” 

Seokjin slumps forward, looking hopeless again. And we were so close.” 

“I’m sorry, hyung,” Hoseok says, looking truly apologetic. 

“Don’t apologize,” Seokjin answers tiredly. It’s not your fault. Clearly, someone didn’t want you getting any closer to the truth. I’m glad you managed to get to me before you were hurt worse.” 

Hoseok offers Seokjin a thin smile. It’s the least I could do.” 

The group falls into silence. Yoongi digests this newest bit of information. 

At least we have a lead, chiquito, even if it’s small, Gonzales offers. It’s more than we had before. 

But it revealed a whole layer of complications we really don’t need, Akane rebukes. 

Money, B. Gates says sadly. It can be poisonous unless you’re careful. 

All the voices pause, waiting for Jimin’s input.

We’ll figure things out, Jimin says hesitantly. One problem at a time. 

Yoongi can’t help but notice the dullness in his voice—he’d taken a morale hit, just like the rest of them. 

“Well,” Hoseok says cautiously, breaking the silence, I guess I should be getting home—” 

“No,” Seokjin says at once. Absolutely not. It’s not safe. You could get hurt again.” 

“Hyung,” Hoseok responds, placating, I can’t just move in here—it’d be an intrustion of Yoongi’s and Namjoon’s space—” 

“It’s fine,” Namjoon pipes up. He turns to Yoongi, who’d just opened his mouth to object. Right? It’s okay if he stays?” 

Yoongi narrows his eyes. He doesn’t know what his best friend’s playing at—does it look like they have enough room in their tiny-ass apartment for a fourth person? But Namjoon’s giving him a pleading look (which he’ll most definitely have to explain later) and Yoongi can’t find it in his heart to say no. 

“Fine,” he grumbles. But all guests will be sleeping in the living room.” 

Relief is clear on Seokjin’s face. Thank you, Yoongi. Really.” 

Seokjin’s earnestness doesn’t sit right with Yoongi—it’s odd, and not something he’s accustomed to after weeks of frosty attitude—so he just shrugs. Don’t thank me too soon. You might be sleeping on the floor tonight.” 

“I’ll just bring in another table and a couple of futons and everyone will be fine,” Seokjin says, scanning the room—not that there’s a single square centimeter of space available for anything he’s planning.   

“How the fuck are you going to squeeze more furniture into here?” Yoongi asks dubiously. 

“I’m going to add space,” Seokjin says, like it’s obvious. How else would I do it?” 

“Oh, sure, add space,” Yoongi mutters crossly. Sorry that I forgot about the whole magic thing. My bad.” 

Seokjin ignores Yoongi and turns to Hoseok. Do you have any ideas as to what we can do with this new lead?” 

Hoseok takes a moment to think. There’s not much I can do on my front,” he says slowly. All we can do is wait for my other sources to come through. I told them to lay low for a little bit, though—I don’t want them getting hurt.” 

Surprisingly, it’s Namjoon who speaks up next. You guys said you still don’t know how to get Park Jimin back into his body, right?” 

Ooh, if he says what I think he’s going to say I’m going to be thrilled, Akane giggles. I want to see the witch’s face! 

“No,” Seokjin answers, clearly unsure as to where Namjoon’s going with this. We’re looking, but it hasn’t been fruitful research.” 

Namjoon nods. Right. That’s because you’ve only been looking through books. But with the Internet, I’m sure you’d find something much faster.” 

Hoseok makes the connection at the same time Yoongi does. 

“Oh hell yes,” Hoseok says. 

“Absolutely not, ” Yoongi interjects at the same time. There’s no way he’s letting Namjoon get involved in this, even if it’s just research. Seokjin’s already broken his promise to keep Yoongi’s roommate totally oblivious, and Yoongi’s not about to take a second loss and let Namjoon research with them as well. Nope. Not happening. 

“Hear me out,” Namjoon tells Yoongi, and turns back to Seokjin. I speak English and Korean fluently, and my Japanese is good as well. I know how to work the Internet. I have access to all the school databases, as well as all the online libraries. All those printed-out webpages, hyung? Those were me.” 

Seokjin blinks at the intensity in Namjoon’s words, looking half-convinced. Yoongi sighs. Namjoon’s greatest fear—right after not knowing anything—is that one day, people will stop turning to him for help. Yoongi can see it his best friend’s posture, rigid with anxiety—he wants so desperately to help, to answer questions and solve problems. 

“We have to figure out a spell anyway,” Hoseok adds helpfully—or unhelpfully, in Yoongi’s opinion, because how dare he take Namjoon’s side. It’ll go a lot faster if we have Namjoon helping us.” 

“Am I not good enough, or something?” Yoongi asks cooly. 

“Hyung, you barely know how to work Twitter,” Namjoon says, laughing. I wouldn’t expect you to be able to sort through subReddits, much less even find relevant information.” 

Yoongi clamps his mouth shut. Namjoon has a point. Unfortunately. 

“So, he’s in?” Hoseok asks excitedly, wincing when he sits up too quickly.  

Seokjin casts a sidelong glance at Yoongi. He looks almost apologetic, and Yoongi rolls his eyes.

“He’s in,” Seokjin repeats, and there’s nothing Yoongi can do about it.

 


 

December comes and caps all the houses in snow, covering driveways with glittering white blankets. Seokjin is good on his word and magically adds extra space, which throws Yoongi’s depth perception off for a couple days and he stubs his toe on the new, extra-large table so often he begins to expect it. 

Hoseok wordlessly accepts the role of supreme mediator, which Yoongi slowly grows to appreciate more and more with each passing day—especially because Seokjin and Namjoon have been so goddamn weird around each other since Namjoon heard the truth. It’s like they don’t know how to act anymore. It’s hugely annoying, because they’re awkward and stilted around each other but Yoongi catches them exchanging flirty looks, like they’re physically unable to keep their eyes off each other. 

Also, much to Yoongi’s annoyance, Namjoon proves to be incredibly helpful. With Hoseok’s help (Yoongi and Seokjin are rendered useless when it comes to technology) Namjoon finds more in two afternoons than they’d gathered over the last three weeks. 

“I have no idea how you do it,” Yoongi groans on Tuesday night, four days after Namjoon had gotten the truth. You’re a fucking med student and you’re over here cracking magical mysteries like you’re not already dying from schoolwork.” 

Namjoon looks up from his computer, pushing his glasses back up his nose. It’s not hard, hyung,” he says. You just have to type stuff into the search bar.” He writes something down in English, scribbles the translation down beneath it, and passes it to Hoseok. Tell Seokjin-hyung to look through the index for nature-based incantation’.” 

Hoseok gives Namjoon a look. He’s sitting five feet away,” he tells Namjoon. Tell him yourself.” Seokjin, from his spot on the couch, tenses at the sound of his name. 

“It’s easier if you do it,” Namjoon says, like Seokjin can’t hear him. 

Hoseok looks at Yoongi and rolls his eyes, like can you believe these two? 

Why can’t they just talk? Jimin asks plainly. Everything would be solved if they just say how they’re feeling. 

“It’s not that simple, Jimin-ah,” Yoongi mumbles, rubbing his eyes. The words on the page he’s reading swim threateningly. 

“What?” Namjoon says, confused. Hoseok heaves himself out of his chair, a little stiff, to go hand Namjoon’s notes off to Seokjin. 

“Not talking to you,” Yoongi answers, a little embarrassed. Just, ah, Jimin.” 

Namjoon gives Yoongi a wry smile. The guy on your arm?” 

“That’s him.” 

Tell Namjoon I say hi. And that I appreciate his help, Jimin prompts. 

“You keep saying that,” Yoongi grumbles, but relays Jimin’s message anyway. 

“Tell him that it’s no problem,” Namjoon says, shrugging. 

“He can hear you,” Yoongi responds, rolling his eyes. 

I think it’s funny, Jimin laughs. How he thinks you’re some kind of spiritual medium. Like a fortune teller. 

He also gets a little nauseous when he looks at the tattoo, Akane adds on, giggling. You can tell by the way his face goes white. I’m still waiting for him to vomit. 

You’re a terrible person, Gonzales remarks. 

I never claimed to be a person, bunny, Akane says. I’m a ninetails. What did you expect?

Person, fox. Es lo mismo, whatever, Gonzales scoffs. 

“--and it’s strange, sometimes, to only hear half the conversation,” Namjoon is saying when Yoongi tunes back in. 

“Right,” Yoongi says, though he has no idea what Namjoon’s talking about. 

“See,” Namjoon exclaims victoriously. There it is! It’s so interesting—I don’t know how I didn’t notice it before. You leave whatever’s happening to listen to the spirits on your arm.” 

“Are you making fun of me?” Yoongi asks suspiciously. 

Namjoon laughs. Only a little. Mostly, I think it’s good. You’re always so hyper-focused on the present. It’s healthy to disconnect every now and then.” 

Aww, Jimin coos. That’s so sweet. Say thank you, hyung. 

“Thanks, I guess,” Yoongi mumbles, cheeks heating. 

Namjoon nods and stretches his arms above his head. Hey, it’s only ten! We’ve still got plenty of time before I come off my coffee high!” 

Yoongi blinks at his best friend, and then at the book on the table. Absolutely fucking not, Joon-ah. There’s no way I can keep reading this dusty-ass book. My eyes are five seconds from falling out of my head.” 

Hoseok, finished with his explanation, returns to the table. So don’t, hyung.” 

“When did you start calling me hyung?” Yoongi snaps, though it lacks heat. Hoseok grins cheekily at him. 

“When you let me bleed all over your old table and then let me sleep in your house,” Hoseok responds, and Yoongi resists the urge to throw something at him. Behind him, Seokjin is sending yearning looks at Namjoon’s bowed head. 

“Fuck this,” Yoongi says after a minute of watching his friends. The atmosphere is so fucking weird in here. I’m out.” 

Namjoon lifts his head, making Seokjin squeak and fall off the couch. Everyone gives him a weird look. 

This is so unlike Seokjin-hyung, Jimin says, sounding concerned. Are you sure he’s not sick? 

Yoongi presses his lips together—Seokjin’s love life is not something he’d like to discuss right in front of the witch’s face. I’ll be back soon. Anyway, I have some photos to take that I really should get started on.” 

“Okay,” Namjoon says, not taking his eyes off Seokjin. I’ll be here.” 

“Don’t leave me,” Hoseok whisper-pleads. I can’t handle passing messages between them. I wish they’d just make out already.” 

Yoongi smirks. Best of luck.” 

He zips up his coat and slings his camera around his neck. He gives into Jimin’s nagging and puts a hat on, too, just so the younger will shut up. 

It’s snowing when Yoongi opens the front door of their apartment building. There’s a couple of winged ghost-cats drinking from Mrs. Do’s bowl of milk, but otherwise the world—both spirit and real—is quiet. Everything feels muffled and hushed, and Yoongi watches his breath turn silver in the air for a moment. 

It’s beautiful, Jimin says reverently. I’ve never been down the hill during winter. 

“Yeah,” Yoongi murmurs. Winter’s my favorite season here.” 

He starts down the sidewalk, boots crunching through fresh snow. 

Seokjin-hyung used to come over on the first big snowfall, Jimin says. We’d build forts and have snowball battles. He’d always win, of course, but only because he’d cheat and use his magic. 

“You really like the guy, huh." 

Of course, Jimin responds, like it’s obvious. He’s been my only friend for years. At this point, he’s more like an older brother. I don’t know where I’d be—or who I’d be—without him. 

There’s a story behind Jimin’s last sentence, and Yoongi experiences the curious sensation of wanting to know more. 

“Why’s that?” He asks outright, then winces—maybe he shouldn’t have said it so bluntly. Whenever Jimin speaks of his past, he sounds sad—deeply sad, like it's an old hurt he's used to bearing. 

There’s a part of Yoongi that kind of wants to take some of that weight off. 

He doesn’t know how he feels about that part of him. 

Hyung, always so forward, Jimin says, and he doesn’t sound offended or upset. It’s a hard story to tell, I’ll be honest. 

Yoongi waits, fiddling with the settings on his camera. A car passes them, quiet through the snow. 

My mother, Jimin starts unsurely. Well. She was a lot like your grandmother, I think. I already told you she traded her mental strength for my life, right? 

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, sticking his camera back into his case and turning down the main road. Up ahead, the lights of downtown wink brightly. You were a sick baby?” 

I was supposed to be stillborn, Jimin says quietly. All my mother wanted was me. She gave everything up just so she could have that. And so I was alive, and I was special— too special. She kept me close to her, loved me, taught me everything she knew, and I never got to give her anything back. I only got to watch her fade away, right before my eyes. 

“Oh,” Yoongi says after a minute, letting Jimin’s words sink in. Holy shit.” 

Jimin sniffs and his voice is close—so close that Yoongi can almost imagine the feeling of Jimin’s breath on his cheek. 

Almost. 

Seokjin blames himself, I think, Jimin continues on, voice thick with tears. He promised me he’d fix her. I know it was an impossible thing but—I was so young and I think some part of me actually hoped that Seokjin could do something. 

“And it turned out he couldn’t,” Yoongi says heavily, feeling Jimin’s sadness press against his heart, worn smooth and a little cold. 

My heart broke, Jimin says. And Seokjin watched, and couldn’t do anything to stop it. 

Yoongi thinks about Namjoon, who had reached out the minute he’d seen the fear and pain on Yoongi’s face. He thinks about how Jackson hadn’t let go, even when Yoongi tried to push him away And even Yugyeom, who didn’t laugh or judge him for a second for breaking down into tears at the funeral.

“Grief,” Yoongi starts, unsure if he’s capable of putting it into words, is felt even in the hearts of friends—especially when there’s nothing they can do but hold out a hand and wait.” 

It’s the waiting that’s the hardest, Jimin says, and sniffs again. I’m sorry for getting all emotional. I know that’s not what you want. 

Yoongi wipes at his eyes before his eyelashes can freeze. I’m not so good at this stuff. Words never really were my strong suit.” 

You’re a good listener, hyung, Jimin says. It doesn’t hurt to talk to you. Not like it used to. 

Yoongi swallows hard, his heart pounding hard in his chest. I’m glad, Jimin-ah. And I don’t mind if you tell me stuff.” Not anymore, he adds on in his head. He doesn’t know when, or how, but Jimin’s voice has become part of the quiet background noise that is Yoongi’s life, woven in with Namjoon’s comments and Hoseok’s laugh and even the sharp cadence of Seokjin’s scolding. It’s only fair if I listen to you, since you’re forced to listen to me.” He’s overwhelmed again by shame and guilt—at Jimin’s situation, at how shitty he’d acted in the beginning, about the mess they were in and how they weren’t making any progress. 

You’re a good person, hyung, says Jimin, like he can sense Yoongi’s thoughts. You keep telling me it’s not my fault. Now I’m telling you: it’s not your fault, either. 

“I know,” Yoongi says gruffly. It’s the fucking mafia’s fault, or something.” 

Or something, Jimin says, and the laughter that fills Yoongi’s ears lightens the mood immediately. Their sadness is placed neatly aside, dealt with and wrung out. 

Yoongi walks a little further. Dark storefronts still manage to look welcoming, thanks to the snow and the lights.  

What’s your photography assignment? Jimin asks when Yoongi pulls his camera out again. 

“I have to take twenty pictures of the same color,” Yoongi says. It’s due in a week, and I don’t have a color picked out.” 

You could do red, Jimin supplies helpfully. There’s red everywhere. 

Yoongi hums. What’s your favorite color?” 

Light blue, but I don’t think— 

“Light blue it is,” Yoongi says. He’s lucky he’s got a VR lens, or else night photography would kick his ass (his tripod broke when Namjoon tried to use it to prop their TV up) and after a couple adjustments to shutter speed and aperture size, he snaps a picture of a neon sign advertising fortune telling. 

Hyung, Jimin says quietly—but it’s a bashful kind of quiet, the kind that would go with pink cheeks and a small smile. You didn’t have to. 

Yoongi allows himself to wonder what Jimin’s smile looks like, but decides it’s probably something too special for him to picture.  

“I wanted to,” Yoongi replies. 

Jimin’s answering sigh is affectionate and bemused. 

There’s a little aww in the background that sounds like B. Gates, and the silence from the other spirits is broken. Familiar voices flood Yoongi’s senses again and the world no longer consists of just him and Park Jimin.

I didn’t know you could shut up for that long, Akane, Gonzales says sarcastically. I’m impressed, loca. 

I’m polite when it counts, Akane sniffs delicately. Get off your high horse. 

Yoongi snorts. The day that you both stop arguing will be the day the world has truly ended.” 

His phone buzzes and he puts his camera aside in favor of checking it. 

namjoon: uh hyung, come home

yoongi: ??? 

namjoon: we found something 

namjoon: big. 

namjoon: you’re going to want to see this. 

 


 

Seokjin’s guilt is eating him alive. 

He knows he should’ve already told Namjoon about the confusion magic. He knows he owes Namjoon an apology for his behavior. 

It’s just…he doesn’t know how. He’s never had to apologize for using magic. He’s never had to patch up a relationship, much less one with an ordinary. 

An ordinary that he likes a lot, not to mention. 

His luck has been absolutely awful lately, now that he thinks about it. His most recent meeting had gone pretty horribly—it was all arguments about possible preventative measures against the sudden spike in magical crime. In the end, First Councilman Nam Chul-soon had stepped in, smoothing tensions and uncurling fists. Seokjin didn’t know the High Council disagreed so often, or so violently, all red faces and pointed words. He’d sat there for a couple minutes afterwards as the First Councilman gathered his things. 

Do not worry too much about disagreement, he’d told Seokjin kindly, laying a hand on his shoulder. Conflict is a learning experience. It teaches us the true value of communication and peace. 

Seokjin tries to keep those words close to his heart as he sneaks another glance at Namjoon. Nam Chul-soon knows what he’s talking about—he’s been a role model and a personal mentor to Seokjin for almost two years now—but Seokjin can’t help but think that this particular problem might not be solvable via political diplomacy. 

Jeongguk, meanwhile , has not stopped contacting him. Seokjin woke up this morning with his pockets overflowing with transmitted notes—though the spell to send things from one location to another is rarely used anymore, what with the postal service so quick and cheap—all from Jeongguk. He’s been begging Seokjin to get him out of his parents’ house as rules have gotten strict and his crazy schedule even stricter, but there’s not much Seokjin can do except ask the Jeons nicely to stop trying to mold their son into something he clearly does not want to be. 

His news stills weighs heavily on Seokjin, delivered with a worried-at lip and wide eyes. The crime rate’s spiking, and my parents have been talking to Nam Chul-soon and I don’t know why. 

The Jeons have famously never gotten along with the High Council, hanging on to the remnants of an incredibly militaristic viewpoint. Which, in Seokjin’s opinion, makes it all the more worrying that the Jeons and Nam Chul-soon are communicating. 

He hasn’t told anyone the details of Jeongguk’s news—just that the mafia’s been making more moves. Not even Hoseok knows about the Jeons and Nam Chul-soon.  

It’s probably nothing, Seokjin reassures himself. Nam Chul-soon is First Councilman for a reason. He has seen firsthand the care and the fierce pride the Councilman holds for the witch population—he has sworn to protect them, and he’s done exactly that for many, many years. If he’s being honest, it’s the Jeons he’s more worried about, not the First Councilman. Seokjin trusts Nam Chul-soon absolutely. 

There is no reason to worry, Seokjin thinks, and he believes it. 

Namjoon puts his cellphone down. Yoongi’s coming back,” he announces. 

Hoseok pumps his fist victoriously. We found something!” 

Seokjin eases himself off the couch, giving Namjoon a wide berth and trying not make eye contact. As soon as Namjoon is back on his computer, clicking away at the keys (how he does it so fast, Seokjin will never know) Seokjin allows himself to stare a little. Namjoon really is good-looking, which makes it very, very hard for Seokjin to focus. He can just imagine Jimin snickering at him for making such a fool of himself. 

Yoongi’s back a couple minutes later, shaking snow off of his coat and hat. His nose is red and he looks…content, almost. Happy at the very least. Seokjin has no doubt that it has to do with Jimin, who generally has that effect. Seokjin just didn’t expect Min Yoongi, of all people, to be hit as strongly as he did. Seokjin doesn’t know half of the things Yoongi hears, but every now and then Yoongi will smile to himself and duck his head, murmuring replies to a voice Seokjin cannot hear. 

However, with what they’ve just found, that might change sooner than they think. 

There’s a small book propped open on the table. It’s mostly unreadable, but there is one title that Namjoon had managed to decode. It’s in an old form of Chinese, but with a couple hours of mind-melding translating, they had something. 

In calling a soul back to its body?’”  Yoongi reads, pressing his fingers to the page. What does this have to do with anything?” 

Namjoon spins his computer around so Yoongi can see. I didn’t quite find the book, but I found what the book references here.” He looks to Hoseok. Can you ask Seokjin to explain?” 

Hoseok huffs and turns to Seokjin. Namjoon wants you to explain. And can you please stop pretending like you can’t hear one another?” 

“Please tell Namjoon that I’ll gladly explain,” Seokjin replies. He’s embarrassed about having to use Hoseok as a mediator, but he and Namjoon still can’t make eye contact. 

“Tell him yourself,” Hoseok grumbles, slumping in his seat and crossing his arms. 

Seokjin ignores his friend and clears his throat. Yoongi’s listening to Jimin, based on the way his head is tilted, and then rolls up his sleeve. As usual, the ink takes a little of Seokjin’s breath away—the tattoo really is beautiful, in all of its bright colors and unexpected intricacies. It covers every available inch of Yoongi’s arm, from the roses on his knuckles to the English words in bold on the outside of his arm to the swatch of nighttime on his bicep. 

Is it good news, hyung? Jimin writes out on Yoongi’s forearm. 

“Thankfully, it is,” Seokjin answers aloud. We found a ritual that might help Jimin.” 

Yoongi winces. He’s shouting.” 

Oh my god, hyung! That’s amazing! 

Seokjin smiles. It was mostly Namjoon. And it’s only a title, since the rest is in a language neither Hoseok or I could recognize. It’s old magic—it looks like a combination of green- and soul-based magic.  

Does anyone even practice green magic anymore?  

“Is that plant magic?” Yoongi asks, turning to Seokjin. 

Seokjin wrinkles his brow, trying to recall what he’d learned in school. Yes, it’s primarily plant-based…um, it’s a lot of physical mixtures? Not much spell-casting, if that’s what you’re wondering. Most of the green witches that remain are in Scandinavia and the UK. Think Wales, Norway, Iceland, etcetera.” Seokjin slides his eyes towards Namjoon, who looks incredibly interested and is doing a poor job of hiding it. I can’t say I’ve ever met one.” 

“Do they talk to rocks and trees and stuff?” Hoseok muses, tapping his fingers on his chin. I swear I’ve got a cousin that talks to rocks. Tae-something. Taemin? Taejung? Something like that? He’s not invited to family reunions and stuff because he’s a little…odd. As in, he supposedly lives in the forest and grows mushrooms. At least, that’s what I've heard.” 

Seokjin blinks at Hoseok. He knows it’s Hoseok’s job to know people and to collect information, but sometimes Hoseok’s connections are just plain bizarre. What modern South Korean witch knows someone that practices green magic of all things—and is much less related to them? 

“What the fuck,” Yoongi says, like he can hear what Seokjin is thinking. Hoseok, how the hell?” 

“How the hell what?” Hoseok asks, looking genuinely confused for a moment. Oh, are you wondering how I seem to know everybody?” 

“You’re related to a green witch, ” Seokjin emphasises. 

“Coincidence,” Hoseok says, shrugging. I just like listening to people, is all. Sometimes that’s all they need, you know? Someone who’ll listen. Someone who’ll look at them straight and not judge.” 

Yoongi leans back in his chair, looking impressed. Seokjin feels pride swell in his chest—Hoseok, for all his eccentricities, nearly-illegal side jobs and terrible broom riding—is a good person at the end of the day. A good friend. Seokjin would be incredibly lacking without him. 

“The important question is,” Seokjin says, bringing them back to the topic at hand, is if you can contact him. We need to know if he can decode the rest of the text.” 

“I’ll see what I can do,” Hoseok says. Then he frowns. It might take awhile, though—I have no idea where he lives, and I’m pretty sure he’s only accessible by mail pigeon.” 

“Mail pigeon?” Yoongi asks dubiously. Aren’t you a mailman?” 

“I only deliver local mail,” Hoseok informs Yoongi. And email technically hasn’t been invented in the witch community yet.” 

“I find the disparity in technology between us and you guys so fascinating,” Namjoon says. Your government has worked hard to keep us separated, hmm?” 

“This is most definitely illegal right now,” Hoseok tells Namjoon cheerfully. Which is why Seokjin-hyung is so tense all the time.” 

Seokjin glares at Hoseok, flexing his fingers to knock the chair out from underneath his friend. 

“Ow, not fair,” Hoseok whines, getting to his feet and rubbing his tailbone. Namjoon’s laughing and Seokjin can’t help but join in. Even Yoongi cracks a smile, his head tilting as he listens to whatever Jimin’s saying.    

The pocket of Seokjin’s jacket suddenly gets hot, signaling an incoming letter. He pulls it out a second later—it’s a piece of notebook paper, crumpled and singed at the edges from magic hastily-cast. He unfolds it to reveal Jeongguk’s messy handwriting. 

Hyung, it reads, please come meet me quickly. I can’t take my parents anymore. They’re terrible. I have been forced to practice tai chi for the last four hours while my dad throws magical flaming spears at me help help!! love jeongguk. 

Seokjin sighs. This kid. He knows Jeongguk’s parents are a incredibly strict, and they push him to levels no normal witch should be pushed to—but then again, Jeongguk’s a bit of a prodigy. By a bit, Seokjin means he’s insanely talented and there’s very little he can’t do. He’s received a number of panic notes from Jeongguk at this point in his life, as Jeongguk seems to think Seokjin can arrange some sort of governmental coup or intervention and break him out of the prison Jeongguk calls home. 

“Is it the High Council?” Hoseok asks, leaning over to peer at the note. 

“Just Jeongguk,” Seokjin says, smoothing the paper out. Complaining, again.” 

“Well, he does promise a lot of information about high society’ if you bust him out,” Hoseok reads. Look, it’s right there in the P.S.” 

Sure enough, scrawled at the bottom is a hasty message: 

P.S. if you need more motivation i can for sure get you an in with all the crazy military witches and i have a lot of information about high society bc didn't you say your friend was missing     - jeongguk. 

“Who’s this kid?” Yoongi asks. But before Seokjin or Hoseok can answer, understanding crosses Yoongi’s face, head cocked as he listens to Jimin. Ah. So he’s the one that idolizes you?” He nods at Seokjin, who nods. 

“His parents, despite all the nasty things they’ve said to me in the past, started throwing Jeongguk and I together as soon as they found out I was elected to the High Council,” Seokjin explains. I think they still want us to get married.” 

Namjoon chokes on the dregs of his tea. They what?” 

“A political marriage,” Seokjin explains, sure that Namjoon’s heard of those before. High witch society is like that. Matching me and Jeongguk up would give them immense political standing and a wealth of power on their side.” 

“Don’t worry, Joon-ah,” Hoseok says cheerfully, whacking Namjoon on the back. Seokjin’s too head-over-heels for you to even consider that.” 

Namjoon chokes on his tea again and Seokjin feels his face turn bright red. Yoongi crosses his arms and smirks and Hoseok bursts into raucous laughter. 

“Anyway,” Seokjin says, trying to gather the remains of his dignity, I can’t take Jeongguk away from his parents. There’s no broken law. End of story.” 

Namjoon laughs nervously and scratches the back of his neck and Seokjin studiously avoids eye contact.

Hoseok looks between the two of them, shaking his head. So. Are we set here?” 

“I fucking hope so,” Yoongi mutters. I’m exhausted.”

Seokjin spends the rest of the night pretending like he can’t see Namjoon. 

 


 

Yoongi wakes up in Namjoon’s bed the next morning. His best friend is still passed out next to him, his computer propped open on his stomach. Hoseok’s on his futon at the foot of the bed, surrounded by open books and sheafs of scribbled notes. They’d all moved in there when Namjoon’s computer had died and he’d been too lazy to bring it to the living room. 

Yoongi sits up and checks the time, letting out a quiet breath of relief when he sees it’s still before his classes start. 

Morning, hyung, Jimin says. How’d you sleep? 

“Pretty good,” Yoongi says, stretching his arms above his head. Namjoon’s got a better mattress than I do, the fucker.” 

He slides out of Namjoon’s bed, collecting his socks and unplugging his phone. 

You’ve got your photography class today? Jimin asks excitedly. 

“Yep,” Yoongi says. Behind him, Namjoon grunts and shifts in bed. One of his arms hangs over the side of the bed, inches above Seokjin’s fingers—Yoongi will bet his whole life’s savings that they fell asleep holding hands, because that’s the kind of person Kim Namjoon is. And Seokjin doesn’t have to worry about not meeting Namjoon’s eyes if the lights are off. 

They’re the worst, honestly. Yoongi’s so tired of them skirting around each other that he’s this close to staging an intervention. 

They look so peaceful, Jimin says. Then, after a moment’s hesitation, he continues. Do you really think Seokjin-hyung likes Namjoon a lot? 

“They fell asleep holding hands, Jiminie,” Yoongi replies, and skirts around Seokjin to open the door. I’d say he probably likes him a whole lot.” 

I’m glad, Jimin says happily. Seokjin works so hard at his job and to take care of me. I think he deserves to have someone take care of him for once. 

“Namjoon is pretty good at taking care of people,” Yoongi mumbles, setting up the coffee machine as soon as he’s in the kitchen. Even if he doesn’t like to admit it.” 

I can see that, Jimin says, and it sounds like he’s smiling. 

Yoongi, as he’s been doing a lot recently, wonders what Jimin looks like he’s smiling. He wonders what Jimin just looks like in general, actually. Is he tall and slender? Pale and dark-haired? Freckled and tanned? 

Also, hyung, Jimin says, interrupting Yoongi’s thoughts, you called me Jiminie. 

“Are you making fun of me?” Yoongi demands, though his hands are shaking and he nearly spills coffee grounds all over himself. 

No, Jimin responds, but his voice is lilting and bright and yes, he’s most definitely teasing Yoongi. 

“What’s wrong with a nickname? Seokjin calls you that all the time.” Yoongi slams the lid closed on the coffee machine with a little more heat than necessary. 

I don’t have a problem with it, Jimin giggles. I think it’s cute. 

Yoongi takes a deep breath through his nose. It’s fine. He’s fine. It’s just Park Jimin, talking into his ear, calling him cute—and fucking giggling, who gave him the goddamn right to do that—he’s fine, not affected, get your fucking act together, Min Yoongi. 

I think you may have short-circuited his brain, Jimin, Akane comments snidely. 

“Fuck off,” Yoongi huffs, watching the coffee pot fill. I don’t need this right now.” 

“Don’t need what?” Namjoon asks, coming into the kitchen and yawning. Jesus, what time is it?” 

“Almost eight.” 

Namjoon nods sleepily. Wow, the living room’s clean. Did you do this?” 

Oh, that would be the brownies, Jimin explains. There’s one on the back of your shoulder that calls in its friends to help at night. 

“Um, Jimin says it’s brownies,” Yoongi translates aloud. They’re the ones that fixed the pipes last month, too.” 

“Helpful,” Namjoon remarks. The coffee pot lets out a shrill beep and Yoongi fills his cup to the brim. 

Don’t drink it too fast or you’ll burn yourself, Jimin reminds Yoongi. 

Yoongi, with a great amount of self-restraint, waits a minute for his coffee to cool before taking a sip. 

Namjoon’s flowery tea fills the apartment with its aroma, but Yoongi’s sure it’s the coffee that brings Hoseok and Seokjin stumbling into the kitchen as well. 

“I’m too tired to cook,” Seokjin says, flopping down at the table. I stayed up way too late last night and I have a meeting in an hour.” 

“We made so much progress last night, though,” Hoseok reminds him, pouring milk into his coffee as Namjoon adds water to his tea. We have a really, really solid lead. And in a couple days, I’ll re-contact my sources.” 

Seokjin’s face softens. Hoseok-ah, you don’t need to feel bad or useless. You’ve been an incredible help.” 

Hoseok looks vaguely uncomfortable as he shrugs. I haven’t been doing my job, though.” 

“It’s fine,” Seokjin assures him. 

“I’m with Seokjin,” Yoongi adds in, and gives Hoseok a smile. Getting shot was not your fault. Plus, you’ve got your cousin. I feel like he’s gonna be a massive help.” 

“That’s if I can find him,” Hoseok says doubtfully. 

Seokjin opens his mouth to say something, but stops to reach into his pocket and pull out another magical note. 

“It’s Jeongguk,” Seokjin announces flatly. 

“Again?” Namjoon asks, sipping his tea. 

“For fuck’s sake,” Yoongi mutters. This kid’s persistent. Must really hate his parents.” 

“’Dear hyung,’” Hoseok reads aloud, looking over Seokjin’s shoulder. ’I have been electrocuted five times today because I can’t manage to summon my katanas while I’m fighting off seven surprise attackers. Also I had to eat porridge for breakfast. I’m writing this in the bathroom. That’s how desperate I am. Please save me. I’m dying. Love, Jeongguk.’” 

“Electrocution? What the fuck?” Yoongi exclaims, rubbing his forehead. This guy doesn’t even sound real.” 

I’ve met him, Jimin tells Yoongi. He doesn’t look real or act real, either. He’s insane. 

“Maybe you should help him,” Namjoon offers. He sounds serious. I mean, what parents electrocute their kid? Aren’t you concerned?”

“Tell Namjoon—” Seokjin starts, leaning over to Hoseok. 

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Hoseok cuts in, stomping his foot. Tell him yourself! He’s right there, hyung!” 

Seokjin’s mouth snaps closed and he looks down, muttering something under his breath. 

“It’s fine,” Namjoon says mildly. When Seokjin’s ready to talk to me, I’m ready to listen. But I think he’s got to come to terms with some stuff first.” 

Yoongi’s already making a beeline for the door, grabbing his school backpack and pouring the rest of the coffee into a travel mug. Well, you guys have fun with that,” he says hurriedly. I am so fucking outta here. Let me know when you guys have kissed and made up. Or even just kissed. Jesus Christ, Namjoon, do something about it. You’re driving me crazy.” 

Namjoon’s ears are pink as he opens his mouth to rebuke, but Yoongi slams out of the apartment before anything can be said. 

The three of them stare at the closed door. Namjoon looks embarrassed, and Seokjin looks shocked. Hoseok’s got a grim expression on his face as he turns to Seokjin, waving Namjoon away. 

“Hyung,” he says, using his most serious voice. I love you and all, but you seriously need to pull your head out of your ass and tell Namjoon the truth.” 

Seokjin curls up, looking unusually small. I did tell him the truth.” 

Hoseok gives his friend a knowing look. Not the whole truth. You gotta come clean about the confusion magic, too. He deserves to know.” 

Seokjin sighs. I don’t think I can, Hoseokkie. I don’t know how.” 

“Sure you do,” Hoseok insists. Just go up and say that you’re sorry, and that you’re a bit narrow-minded but you really really like him. Bam. There you go.” 

Seokjin drops his face into his hands, letting out a despairing noise. This is so illegal, Hoseok. I shouldn’t even be talking to an ordinary, much less making any kind of confession to him!” 

Hoseok puts a hand on Seokjin’s shoulder. I want to you answer me honestly, okay?” 

A nod from Seokjin. 

“Do you like Namjoon?” 

Another nod. 

“Then who cares about laws, hyung? I know it’s your job to uphold them and to enforce them, but shouldn’t you let love be love?” 

Seokjin takes a deep, shuddering breath. I don’t know,” he whispers again, shoulders caving in. 

“You do,” Hoseok says, filled with confidence that Seokjin lacks. You’re just afraid. That’s okay, you know—seeing as you’ve never had to face anything like this before.” 

Seokjin lifts his head to glance over at Namjoon, who’s in his room putting on socks. Hoseok watches a myriad of emotion flicker over Seokjin’s face: guilt, shame, yearning—and something fragile, something tender and warm that could grow into something life-changing and beautiful if given the chance. 

Hoseok really, really wants Seokjin to give it a chance. 

“Go,” Hoseok prompts softly. He’ll listen. He wants to forgive you as much as you want to apologize.” 

It is so weird to be giving Seokjin advice—Seokjin, who has been through so much, who has raised hell and rained it down, who has grit his teeth and powered through the impossible. It is the same man Hoseok sees here, vulnerable and scared and hopeful— so, so, hopeful. 

So Seokjin gets up from the chair and sets his jaw. At the same time, Namjoon looks up, and his face is a mirror of Seokjin’s, the same feeling painted across it, clear as day. 

Their gazes connect, magnetic, and something cautious—something bright and lovely—starts to bloom.

 


 

Yoongi chooses to listen to Jimin instead of pay attention in his photography class. The professor is going on about color composition and lighting effects, which is important, but Yoongi’s mind reflexively snaps over to Jimin whenever he speaks. It’s an unforeseen habit that’s really killing his attention span, but he can’t help it. 

I can’t believe we found something, Jimin says. I didn’t think there was anything left that could help me. 

Yoongi taps his response into his phone. Is it because the Old Council burned everything? 

Not necessarily. There’s just so few witches left that practice soul magic. I think my mother knew one other, and that’s it. Nobody else. 

So what about that plant magic, then? Do you really think Hoseok’s got a cousin that can help? 

If there’s anybody that can find a green witch, it’s Hoseok. I trust him. 

Yoongi hesitates before typing out his response, thumbs hovering over the characters. I just want you to be free. 

Jimin is silent for a long beat. That…that really means a lot, hyung.  

Yoongi ducks his head as Jimin’s quiet again, this time for longer. 

But, Jimin says, I don’t mind being stuck here. At least, not if I’m with you. 

The class ends and the professor calls Yoongi’s name before he can leave. 

“Min Yoongi,” she muses as he approaches her. I looked through the draft photos you’ve uploaded so far for the color assignment, and I’m curious: why’d you pick light blue?” 

“Ah,” Yoongi says, stuttering a little bit. He searches to find words but can’t, despite the reason being so simple: it’s this guy’s favorite color and I wanted to make him happy. Said guy just happens to be a disconnected soul chilling on his arm. 

Yeah, he’s not explaining that. 

“I don’t have an issue with it,” the professor assures him, mistaking his muteness for worry. I just didn’t expect the color choice. Red, maybe, or grey, but certainly not light blue. It’s nice.” 

“It’s the favorite color of one of my…friends,” Yoongi finishes lamely. I didn’t know what else to pick so I just asked him.” 

“I see,” the professor says, understanding clearing her face. Well, whatever works. I’m looking forward to the final product.” 

Yoongi bows to her. Thank you.”  

He zips up his coat and pulls his hat down over his ears, answering an incoming call from Jackson as he does so. 

“Hyung,” Jackson says, skipping a greeting as usual. Did you get Yugyeom’s texts?” 

“I blocked that shithead’s number a long time ago,” Yoongi grumbles, though it’s not true. He did get Yugyeom’s texts. He just didn’t read them, because Yuygeom never has a good reason for texting anyway.

“Well,” Jackson says impatiently, he invited us all to dinner at his house. His mom’s made a lot of kimchi and he wants help eating it. Are you in?” 

“When is it?” 

“Friday,” Jackson informs him. We were thinking we’d eat and then go out to a bar, or maybe a club.” 

“Hard pass on the club,” Yoongi says darkly, looking down at the roses on his knuckles. Don’t want a repeat of last time.” 

Aww, last time was fun, Akane complains. You passed out and everything. 

Besides, chiquito, I’d protect you, Gonzales reminds him. 

“No club,” Yoongi repeats, for the spirits and for Jackson, who’s protesting. But sure, I’ll come. I’m sure Seokjin’s tired of cooking for us anyway.” 

“Oh, Seokjin! Bring him too, he’s pretty.” 

“I don’t know—” 

“Yuygeom says bring him, hyung. And it doesn’t even matter if you ask him. Namjoon will take him anyway,” Jackson says smugly. Have they made out yet?” 

“Yuck,” Yoongi says, wrinkling his face. Thanks for that mental image. I’m hanging up now. You’re the worst.” 

“Come pick me up on Friday at five-thirty!” Jackson says, guffawing. Bye hyung, see you!” 

Yoongi hangs up, slightly affronted. Jackson’s a goddamn menace. Actually, scratch that. Everyone in his life is a goddamn menace. And it’s mostly Seokjin’s fault. 

Speaking of Seokjin, he must still be at his meeting when Yoongi gets home from all of his classes early in the afternoon, because Hoseok’s the only one home, camped on the couch and running up the wifi bill by watching anime. 

“Welcome back,” Hoseok says, absent-minded. How was school?” 

“Why the hell do you care?” Yoongi huffs. 

Because he’s your friend, Jimin answers. 

“Because I’m your friend, hyung,” Hoseok says at the same time. So?” 

“I hate all my classes except photography,” Yoongi mutters.  

“I thought you were good at math?” 

“Just because I’m good at it doesn’t mean I like it. I’m doing it because I don’t think I can make a decent living as a photographer.” 

Hoseok shrugs, the motion cramped due to his position on the sofa. If it doesn’t work out you can come learn how to fly a broom and be a postman.” 

“I’m good,” Yoongi says. I prefer to keep both feet on the ground, thanks.” 

“Suit yourself. But hey, good news—I asked my grandpa and I do have a cousin that lives in the woods! Dunno if he’s a green witch, though. And I still don’t know where in the woods he lives. But at least I know he exists, and he’s in South Korea! His name is Kim Taehyung and I’m going to find him, I promise.” 

Yoongi looks up from where he’s unpacking his backpack. You’re kidding me.” 

Hoseok grins. Nope, not kidding. I’ll have him by the end of the month, guaranteed.” 

“You’re kind of incredible, you know that?” Yoongi says, grinning. Like, holy shit. A forest-d