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you say witch like it's a bad thing

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많아

[manna]

/manna/

  1. Transformation of 많다: many, a lot

 

Mana

/ˈmɑːnə/
noun
(in Polynesian, Melanesian, and Maori belief) an impersonal supernatural power which can be transmitted or inherited; commonly used in computer games in reference to magical power

 

주세요

[juseyo]

/dʑuseyo/

  1. Please (give)

 

주스

[Juusu]

/dʑusɯ/

  1. Juice

 

~*~

 

There's a shop in the quaint, ridiculously hipster part of Samcheongdong, just at the edge of the Bukchon Hanok Village. Its walls are painted white and its windows stained pretty with different shades of pink. It's an entirely hipster looking joint, serving a hipster-seeking crowd, selling probably some of the most hipster items in existence: health drinks, healing stones and curiosities.

 

The name of this shop is MANA 주(스)세요.

 

~*~

 

MANA 주(스)세요 sells three things; and the first, is a variety of healthy juices and concoctions packed in some of the prettiest potion bottles known to mankind.

 

At least, that had been what the review had said. Some ulzzang had discovered this cozy little shop in the quiet corner it’s situated in, posted a whole bunch of gorgeous photos on all of her social media, and now, the small shop is one of the hottest ‘must-visit’ places if you're anybody worth anything.

 

And so, come every early afternoon, the shop is flooded with young people toting their latest Samsung Galaxies and iPhones chasing after that next Instagram worthy moment. And fresh-pressed juices and health drinks that were poured into pretty drink bottles shaped like potion vials? Definitely Insta-worthy: especially since you get to appear all health conscious at the same time too.

 

To be honest, the entire shop is perfectly instagrammable. From the decor, to the shimmering of the healing crystals displayed, to the beautiful cats that appear once in a while, lounging lazily on the counter tops (it's a little weird that a different cat appears every other day but only ever one and never more, but well).

 

Hell, even the owner is instagrammable. He's good looking in every way of the word, with soft dark hair, pretty brown eyes, plush lips and the widest shoulders that anyone on this side of the Pacific could boast, especially with such a fit, tiny waist. He'll decline to have his photo taken, unfortunately, but that hasn't stopped anyone from sneaking a few.

 

And it's a really great place overall. But there's only one problem about this:

 

“Can I get one apple juice?”

 

“Ahhh… which one? There's two with apple; one is ‘Work it to the Core’, which is apple, blueberries and cranberries which helps with muscle recovery. The other is ‘You're the Apple of my Eye’ and—” and the beautiful man pauses for a moment to snort and giggle at his own joke, “ahh… yes. Sorry. It's a carrot and apple juice, and carrots have beta-carotene which is good for eyesight. So, yes. Which would you prefer?”

 

The girl tries to uncurl her toes, her voice stiff, “er the… one with the berries. Please.”

 

“Oh? Do you exercise a lot? We're having a promo now, ten bottles for 20% off!”

 

“No, er. One is enough, I don't need so much. And I don't exercise.”

 

“Oh then, why get ‘Work it to the Core’? ‘ You're the Apple of my Eye’ would be more useful to you youngsters always looking at your phones, yeah?”

 

“Er. I just… like… berries better?”

 

“Oh then, how about getting ‘I Like it Berry Much’? It has lots of berries in it as the name implies, and it's pretty popular.”

 

“No uh. Just… the apple and berries one please.” The girl's voice is faint by now, and the other customer waiting to the side is rubbing her temple, looking slightly pained.

 

“Ahhh… I understand. One ‘Work it to the Core’ coming right up!”

 

Yeah. The puns.

 

Most people should have guessed from the shop name, exactly what sort of person the owner is. But, it's one thing to note to yourself that the shop name is a pun and hey, it's actually a pretty clever one, game reference and all; it's another thing entirely to come into the shop, and realize all the juice names handwritten on the chalk sign boards are all puns. And then an entirely different thing to have those puns shoved into your face while trying to purchase one of those famed juice bottles which the reputation of just has been tainted a little by the ordeal.

 

But oh well, at least the juice bottle had been obtained. And a cat had been there today, preening it's beautiful gray fur on one of the window sills, and many decent SNS worthy photos had been snapped, and later when people try the juice, they are usually both simultaneously pleased and yet annoyed, because the juice is really good — almost addictive, but that means that to get the juice, one would have to go back to that shop and…

 

...deal with all the puns once again.

 

At least, there's a 50% discount if you bring back the bottle from a previous purchase, or your own 500ml bottle.

 

“Right, so.” The owner turns his beatific smile towards the next customer, the girl still holding onto her temple. “What about you? I highly recommend our ‘What-a-melon’ which has watermelon mixed with winter-melon tea or we have a new item on our menu called ‘You Hold the Kiwi to my Heart’, which is obviously kiwi, but also cherries. So what will it be—”

 

“I'll have ‘Grape Expeartations’ please. No I don't need a gallon, just one bottle, I brought my own bottle, thank you.”

 

The regulars are already used to it. Or they actually enjoy the puns and so are regulars. It's mostly of the former, less of the latter.

 

The cat lying lazily on the counter almost seems to snort when the owner gives an almighty pout despite this having happened a couple of times in the past hour already.

 

When the girl leaves, and the shop is finally quiet for a while, a slight mid-afternoon lull, the owner turns to the cat, his pout having only grown more severe. “Why do people always react like that to my jokes? My jokes are great!”

 

The cat doesn't seem to answer, just rolling over a little so it can stare at the owner, tail waving languidly in the air. But the owner sniffles, throwing a strawberry at the cat as if it had answered, “you're so fucking mean, you demon fluffball.”

 

And the cat only snorts, turning around to play with the strawberry (which had totally missed, by a fair distance).

 

“Meanie.”

 

~*~

 

The second thing the shop sells, is healing crystals.

 

They line the shop walls and displays stands, categorized and arranged according to colour, use and description; glittering like a shimmering rainbow across the store. And the people who buy these stones are more varied. And depending on who they are, they buy different things.

 

Of course, the first type of customer would be the self-same millennials who come into the store for the juices. And similar to these millennials would be the tourists who had somehow manage to wander off the beaten path and find themselves in the quieter section of Samcheongdong (or they followed the hoards of millennials who were making their way down the road, like a human breadcrumb trail).

 

Anyway, these two sorts of customers tend to buy the healing crystals (and stones too really) on whim. For the millennials, they buy them mostly because the stones are pretty, and shiny, and even if a tiny bit pricey, it's not too expensive to feel that big a pinch for the impulse buy of a pretty piece of rose quartz or jade; which the description card declares would help someone to be loved or to attract more love. And if the owner is free enough, he might just weave a little cord bracelet or necklace to nestle the stone into for the customer to wear. But even if not, the cute little crocheted bags he puts the stones into are a boon enough.

 

The tourists are pretty much the same. Just that they buy more varied stones for varied uses: citrine to boost concentration, opals to inspire creativity, topaz to combat aging, agate to ease anxiety; and the list goes on. And some of them might dabble a little in feng shui ; usually the ones for China, or Hong Kong, or even Singapore. And they might even buy some of the bigger pieces, the geode crystals or crystal formations, and someone has even bought the jade vulva sculpture that the owner had brought in as somewhat of a joke.

 

But of course, they are nothing compared to the rabid pungsu-jiri practitioners:

 

“Eyyyy! Master! What shiny new things have you gotten for me today?”

 

The owner turns around after depositing the cash he’d just received from another satisfied (and groaning) customer into the register. “Oh, hey Jackson-sshi. You’re… right on time as usual; 7.34 pm.”

 

“Ahhh… master, master. You never listen when I say we don't need to stick to formalities. Well, I mean, You close at 8.30 pm, which is 4 minutes too early, since I need to come in the the thirty four mark. So, 7.34 pm is the only time I can arrive.” Jackson lifts up both of his fingers, waving them into the air, nearly blinding one of the other customers with the reflection off the many rings he has on them. “So, master. I’m sure that you’ve gotten some new stuff in?”

 

“First of all, I'm really not a master. I just buy the stones. Secondly, who do you take me for? Of course I have new stuff in. So what's the thing you wanted to improve in your house?”

 

"Oh don't be so humble. Everyone in the community knows you truly know how to pick your stones. I mean, I'm a testament to that. Was down in the dumps, followed your suggestion to put ammonite in my office. And boom! Now I'm opening a new office. Someone else tried the same thing with another stone he bought somewhere else and it didn't work. And I'm just one of the few of your glowing testimonials.” Jackson laughs,smiling at the other stunned customers in the shop. “Hey, you should all buy stones and crystals from him. It will change your life.”

 

“Nothing as dramatic as that,” the owner chuckles as he wipes his hands down, having come back from washing them. “So what was it you wanted?”

 

“Ahhh… I said didn't I? New office.” Jackson grins as he rubs his hands together. “Just the usual things. Need good vibes for a good business and that sort!”

 

“Ahh… I see? Where is it going to be placed? Your office room?”

 

“Oh yeah. I want one for my office room yes, but I also want big, big one for the front entrance. You got anything like that?”

 

“Not for the entrance. I'll have to order that in. Perhaps a sculpture of tiger eye? Maybe a dragon. You'd like that wouldn't you?”

 

“Ahhh… You know me too well, Master!” Jackson claps his hands in delight. “But what about my office room?”

 

“Mmm… I think I have just the thing.” The owner bows to the rest of the customers. “Sorry about this. Just please wait a while. I'll be right with you.”

 

And almost like some kind of black market dealer, he reaches underneath the table what at first, looks like a brownish egg, with somewhat pretty swirls of colour, but otherwise, it's not particularly eye-catching.

 

But then, he turns it around, revealing a green chasm, out of which, a gorgeous image of several dragons dancing within tumultuous waves is carved in with such detail and life, you can almost see the dragons moving.

 

“Oh...ho ho ho…” Jackson lets out a joyous sound, bending his knees a little so he can look at the sculpture close up. “Celadon jade. A beautiful colour.”

 

“Mhmm… The carver slept hugging this piece for ten years so that it would mature and have this gorgeous colour.” Seokjin chuckled, “when I saw it, I knew it was a good piece.”

 

“Ahhh… And you think it'll be good for me?”

 

The owner tilts his head, and the single earring with a blood red stone dangling from his left lobe seems to quiver a little. “I mean… it won't add anything… probably. But it won't do you any harm. Besides, jade is good for healing and protection anyway.”

 

“Mmm… I'll take it anyway. Maintaining what I have is good too.” Jackson rubs his palms together again.

 

“Are you sure, this piece isn't that cheap— er actually an amethyst geode might do the same th—”

 

“No, no. I can afford it now. So why not?” Jackson opens out his wallet. “Cash as usual, yeah? Ahhh… I told you I can help you set up a cashless terminal. I have connections, so you don't need to worry about the admin fees. It's the 21st century. Even tiny mom and pop shop are accepting Samsung Pay nowadays.”

 

“I accept bank transfers now too?” The owner chuckles. “And nah, I have enough to do already. I can't afford to have more admin work to do.”

 

“Well, you've expanded enough to hire a few helpers, but I understand, man. Sometimes, it's even more tiring ordering people around. And they might mess up and all so,” Jackson puts his hand over his heart, the other reaching over the counter to squeeze the owner's arm. “I understand. Anyway, unfortunately, I have somewhere to go so, how much for the little beauty?”

 

The owner keys in a number into the register that makes the eyes of all the other customers in the shop go wide. And they grow even wider when Jackson casually pulls out a stack of yellow notes from his wallet and hands it over. “Keep the change.”

 

“Ahh… no. I can't do that.”

 

“Yes, you can.”

 

A pause, “do you want me to receive bad karma?”

 

And Jackson freezes before immediately bowing. “Oh, no, no, no, master. If that's the case then give me the change. Give me back all the change.”

 

The owner chuckles. “That will be 200,435 won in change.”

 

“Ahhh. No.”

 

“No?”

 

“Yeah. It'll be 190,435 won in change, because I would like two bottles of juices please. Any of your work-out ones will do. Gonna go down to the gym later.”

 

“Ahhh… but of course. Here's your change. Just give me a moment to pack it all up.”

 

“Great. I love your packaging to be honest.” Jackson smiles, clapping as the owner pulls out an ornate box of black wooden lacquer to place the jade sculpture in. “I have a whole display cabinet just for your boxes.”

 

“You flatter me. But I don't even work on them from scratch. Just enhance the boxes the pieces come with here and there.” And the owner turns around, looking below the counter again, before pulling out a small bag with two bottles of juice inside. “There you go. One sculpture of carved aged celadon jade, one bottle of ‘You Make my Heart Beet’ and one bottle of ‘You must Ketchup’. Have a nice day~”

 

“You too master! See you next week!” Jackson easily lifts the box with one hand, taking the bag in the other. “Remember to choose a good tiger eye sculpture for me!”

 

Jackson leaves before the owner can reply, and the man just laughs, shaking his head. “Ahhh… it only works because of his hard work. The stones just clear his energy, give him a boost. The rest is all him.”

 

Then he pauses, turning to wrinkle his nose at the amber furred cat that's been lying on the counter, watching the whole exchange take place. “Yah. Don't be rude. He's a good kid. And he can believe whatever he wants to believe.”

 

He turns back to the other still rather shell-shocked customers standing in line. “Sorry about that. Welcome to MANA 주(스)세요! What can I help you with today?”

 

~*~

 

And the third and final thing that the shop sells, is curiosities.

 

They occupy the odd corners of the shop, almost hidden away, sitting upon shelves shoved into the alcoves where the sun streams in and shows the dust notes dancing in the rays. And they can range anything from plastic ouija boards, to a beginners kit on Wicca herbs, or even a proper crystal dowsing kit.

 

The owner dusts all the items once a day, but they rarely move, save for the one or two curious tourists who come in and buy that magic eight ball or crystal skull just for the giggles. And they definitely ignore the stranger things: a glass jar filled with buttons, a couple of butterfly specimens, a book of pressed flowers, and a bag of old knuckle bones.

 

Except for the days when the nutjobs come in.

 

“Hyung! Hyu— ahhhh… aish. It's hard to run with a camera. Hyung! Don't close yet!”

 

The owner pauses at the yelling while he's in the middle of arranging empty potion bottles for the next day’s stock of juice, before looking up as he hears a pair of familiar footsteps running up to the shop. “Hyung! Hyung! Ah… Good. You didn’t close the shop yet.”

 

“Now why would I close the shop?” The owner chuckles, “I still have another twenty minutes before closing.”

 

The young man who'd just run up to the shop panting, blinks at the owner in confusion before he groans, “I totally forgot I set my clock twenty minutes earlier because I didn't want to miss the witching hour to try out the ghost summoning technique in the magazine I bought last week. But I only managed to summon Namjoon. Sadly. But I guess it worked in a sense? Namjoon is a ghost and it did summon him.”

 

The owner’s smile never leaves, and at the young man’s words, his eyes seem to twinkle all the more.  “Is that so? That's nice.”

 

“Mmm… I guess. But I've gotten my hands on something more ‘suspish'— ah! Is the demon-cat around, hyung? I wanted him to see this as well.”

 

The owner tilts his head, gaze far away for but a moment. “Mmmm… I wonder…”

 

And then, there's a grumpy-sounded hiss from one of the corners, and the young man barely turns last minute, avoiding the potential scratch on his arm. “Ah. And the devil cat appears. How are you doing today, Beelzebub?”

 

The owner’s lips curl as the tiny black domestic shorthair that had appeared out of the shadows almost like an actual demon, lashing its tail out even as it jumps up a small stack of books in a corner to vault onto the countertop in an easy show of grace. Once atop, it fixes the young man with a leveling stare. And then a few moments later, the owner lets out a laugh. “He wants to tell you that the devil and Beelzebub are two very different people and you should get your facts straight. Oh. And he called you a brat.”

 

The young man shrugs.

 

The owner pauses, before shaking his head disapprovingly at the cat. “I'm not relaying that. In any case, as long as he doesn't call out the wrong name during a summoning ritual, it's fine.”

 

“Eh? Well, if it doesn't matter if I summon one or the other, just the fact I managed to summon a demon would be so cool.” The young man says carelessly, causing the owner to snort.

 

“I was thinking along the lines of accidentally summoning them both. But, trust me, you'd very much prefer to summon Beelzebub if you had a choice.”

 

The young man shrugs again, “maybe the devil is actually super chill and just wants to hang out.”

 

“Ahh… nah. He always makes it seem that way, but he's actually a stewing ball of negative emotions ready to explode. He's one salty guy and he lost big time after all.” But before the young man can continue on that topic more, the owner changes the subject. “So, what was it you wanted to show us?”

 

“Ah! Right!” And there's a rustling sound as the young man turns his backpack around to search through it. The owner waits patiently, but the cat less so. “Now, where did I put it… ah! Here it is.”

 

And he pulled out a piece of paper, turning it so that the owner and the cat can see the faded printing on it, the uneven lines indicative of a printer running out of ink. The young man must have printed it out of the public library. The owner leans forward, squinting at the paper to try to read the tiny words that were the title of what seems to be a news article. “Body found in Dapsimni-dong… neck slit?”

 

“Uhuh.” the young man nods, “but that's not really what's most interesting. Most interesting is this—! Uh. Hang on. Maybe I should pull it off the internet. The printer quality isn't that great…”

 

The owner waits patiently as the young man searches through his phone, and then after a while, he holds it up triumphantly. “There! Look at this! See the necks are slit, but there's something missing—”

 

“There's no blood pools.” The owner says, almost absently. “That's interesting.”

 

“Ah! Hyung! You see it too?” The young man’s eyes light up, even as the owner's eyes turn from contemplative into something more playful.

 

“Yep.” The owner nods, “do you think some OCD ghost might have vacuumed up all the blood?”

 

A pause, and then. “Hyung… don't be silly. It's not ghosts! It's definitely the work of a vampire here!”

 

“Ah? Is that so?” The owner’s eyes widen almost comically, “a vampire you say?”

 

The young man rolls his eyes. “Don't patronize me hyung. You don't think this looks like a vampire attack?”

 

“Mmm… I don't know. Could be that the murder didn't happen at that location, and the body was moved.” The owner chuckles, “but you could be right. It could also be a vampire attack.”

 

“Right? So I came here to restock on my protection kit. Namjoon broke my last batch of wooden stakes, and my mom threw my garlic wreath out so— oh!”

 

While the young man had been talking, the owner had taken out a small box filled with the very things the young man had been talking about and more.

 

“Man, I love you so much, hyung. Did you see the future or something? So you knew what I needed?”

 

The owner laughs, even as the young man shifts through the box excitedly, “something like that.”

 

“Oh?” The young man pauses as he pulls out something that looks unfamiliar: a silver beaded bracelet with a cross hanging in the middle. “Is this a rosary? It's a little short to be a rosary.”

 

“It's a silver rosary.” The owner confirms, “but in a bracelet form, so that it can pass off as fashion. Otherwise, you might have to deal with questions from your family about why you picked up Catholicism. But, wear it and it should ward you from vampires for a little while at least.”

 

“Ah. Well, my mother has seen worse.” The young man waves a hand in the air, but is smiling nevertheless. “This is pretty cool, hyung. How much is it all?”

 

And the owner keys in a number in the register that makes the young man frown, “hyung. I might be bad at maths, but I'm pretty sure you charged me too little. That's about the price you charge me just for the regular things. Did you forget about the rosary?”

 

The owner blinks before shaking his head, “it's on the house, for being such a loyal customer.”

 

“Ah… hyung…” The young man whines, “don't put me into a spot. It's not good to take advantage, but I probably will if you insist; I'm a poor, poor student after all. But I will lie in bed and have sleepless nights filled with guilt because hyung was too nice to me.”

 

The owner laughs, slapping his knees at the puppy face the young man is giving him. “Ahhh… you're too funny. Anyway, if you're really worried about it, you could buy this off me?”

 

And the owner pulls from under the table, a palm sized crystal ball set on a simple plastic stand. “I've been having trouble selling it. It's a little too hard to work with unfortunately, so it's just been sitting here. So I'm willing to let it go at a quarter of the price.”

 

“What do you use this for though? Telling the future?”

 

“Ah no. This isn't powerful enough for that. And telling the future is an inaccurate art, no matter how good you are at it.” The owner taps the crystal. “No, this is a scrying ball.”

 

“A scrying ball?”

 

“Yes. You use it to look far away, farther you can walk. Sometimes to places your physical body can't go to.”

 

“Oh… like the spirit plane?”

 

The owner pauses, before nodding. “For some people, yeah. It reacts to your heart’s desires and will show you someone that you long to see. But… This one is a bit temperamental. So, it reacts depending on whether it feels like it.”

 

The young man's eyes have widened, “so… if I wanted to see a vampire, would it show me a vampire?”

 

The owner laughs, “maybe? No harm trying.”

 

“Cool. I'll take it then!” the young man grins, “how do I use it though? Do I move my hands above it in mystical movements?”

 

“Some people do,” the owner admits, “it makes them feel more… mystical I guess. And helps focus their powers. And I guess they do it like you'd try to find a needle in a haystack. But I find it more effective to just be comfortable and stare into the ball until your mind starts to drift and then, when there's a sudden spike or a sudden need… the ball might just react.”

 

The young man looks like he doesn't quite understand. “So… no mystical waving hands?”

 

“No… I mean if you find that it helps you can. But—” the owner pauses before he nods, “you just need to go into a trance.”

 

“A trance! I think that other magazine I bought two weeks ago talked about that. I guess I'll go read that and revise.”

 

The owner pauses again, eyes darting. “As long as it doesn't involve any drugs.”

 

“Nah. It just said to download some kind of trance music? They had links and everything.” And the young man is beginning to dig his wallet out, “could you ring me up and pack it all? I just remembered I still need to go to the grocery store to buy flour.”

 

“Flour?” the owner’s fingers pause as they key in a new amount into the register, although the difference is negligible really. “Planning on baking something?”

 

“As if my mom would ever let me into the kitchen.” The young man rolls his eyes, “no! Vampires, hyung!”

 

“Vampires?”

 

“Yeah. Did you forget, hyung? You're the one who told me that when covered with flour, vampires will freeze for a couple of minutes so I can get away.”

 

“Ah.” The confusion in the owner’s eyes clear. “I did tell you that, didn't I? The total will be 14,000 won.”

 

“Okay. Thanks, hyung!” And the young man watches the owner deftly keep away the cash before pulling out a brown paper bag to put away all of the young man’s purchases. “Ah, anyway hyung. I won't be here for maybe about the next two weeks? It's holiday break, so I'll be going back to Daegu.”

 

“Oh… Daegu. That's a nice place. That's where I picked him up actually.”

 

And the cat, who had curled itself around the register, having starting to doze off, blinks and meows when the owner’s hand cards into its fur.

 

“Oh, demon-cat is from Daegu too? I find that hard to believe. All animals from Daegu tend to like me.”

 

“It's been a while since he's been back there. He's more a Seoul cat than anything now.” The owner teases before yelping when the car suddenly bites down on his finger. “Hey!”

 

“See, demon-cat.” The young man snorts, “anyway, do you have any advice on finding the supernatural out in the countryside, hyung? I realized I've never asked you.”

 

“As opposed to the city?” The owner blinks, “not much difference I guess. But maybe, it'll be easier out there.”

 

“Really? Why? Is it because there more of them hiding there?”

 

“No, not really,” the owner shrugs, “I suppose there is a tiny bit more, but not that much. It's just that out in the countryside, they're less on their guard, and are more likely to show their true natures.”

 

“Eh, ok. Same difference and no difference to me. It just means it's more likely that I can see something cool in the countryside. Maybe I'll be able to scry out a vampire and go hunt them down.”

 

For a second, the owner’s eyes turn a little worried, even if his posture and tone betrays none of it. “I wish you the best of luck in that. Just remember to bring your tools… and remember to wear the bracelet I gave you.”

 

“Mmm…” the young man replies, uncommitted, distracted by his phone vibrating, a text message having come in.

 

“Taehyung.”

 

And the young man jerks a little, looking up at the owner almost as if compelled, eyes slightly glazed as they lock with the owner's.

 

“Wear your rosary. Okay?” The owner says quietly. There is an odd tone in his voice that seems to travel, ringing between the vibrations of the air.

 

A pause. And then Taehyung smiles. “Yeah, of course, hyung. I will.”

 

The owner stares at Taehyung a little longer before nodding. “Good. Have a safe trip, Taehyung-yah.”

 

“Thanks, hyung! Don't miss me too much!”

 

The owner stands at the doorway, watching the young man till he disappears down the street. And then he turns, huffing at the cat. “Oh stop nagging. It's not like the boy can use it, even it's a legitimate scrying ball. The most is he'll get one vision and then that's it. He'd probably get it when he's half asleep even.”

 

The cat seems to roll its eyes, tail thumping onto the counter. And the owner gasps in indignation.

 

“I am not undercharging him! He buys so much of the junk we can't get rid of. I feel bad after a while, so it's just a way balancing the scales.”

 

The cat meows, patting a paw to its own nose.

“I did not! ...Okay, fine, so what if I did put some charms on his camera? They're just small favours, making it sturdier, improving his luck just a little— no. I didn't use my strongest charms. I— no! I used the amortentia for something else! You— ugh you're so annoying!”

 

The cat meows again, the tone almost smug, even as the owner huffs, pulling out his phone. “I'm just going to ignore you now.”

 

The cat seems to tilt its head at that, getting to its feet to pad up to the owner's side, standing on its hind legs as it tries to peer at the phone screen.

 

The owner jerks, letting out a hiss, “so what if I'm texting Hoseok about the news of the Dapsimni-dong killing? I'm just being a good citizen and you know, contributing to giving the peace.”

 

The cat’s tail lashes even as it falls back onto all fours again.

 

“Why not Daniel? He's busy enough. Hoseok is a little freer, and he looks at his phone more!”

 

The cat sniffs, still staring up at the owner with its glowing yellow eyes, and the owner pauses in his typing to glare at the cat. “Okay. What I type to Hoseok is none of your business. I don't need you right now, so you can stay here and mind your own fucking business. Demon-cat.”

 

And the owner storms away to the back, to also do some stock-taking, but mostly to get away from the cat, even as the cat lets out a noise that sounds far too much like a laugh.

 

~*~

 

“Oh… Oh no. You're closed.”

 

The owner pauses from where he’s sweeping the entrance of the shop, a pile of dead leaves and twigs gathered at the doorstep. And he straightens, looking over at the girl who’d just appear with curious eyes. “Mmmm… yes. I just closed a while ago.”

 

“Oh!” The girl’s face falls even further, “I should have walked a bit faster. Stupid legs…”

 

The owner can't help but look down at the girl’s legs at the comment. And he notices the way her legs are bent, twisting inwards before she notices his stare and straightens them. “Ah. It's alright. It's my own fault for not being able to walk faster. I'll just come another day.”

 

And the girl tries to turn around as naturally as she can, but there's no mistaking the uneasy twist of her bones, the slightly lurch in her step, even though she's moving so, so carefully.

 

“Hey! Wait!” The owner steps forward, the end of his broom dragging lightly on the ground. “The shop isn't closed!”

 

The girl pauses, turning around with a frown. “Please don't take pity on me like this. I don't need your charity.”

 

But the owner shakes his head, “no it isn't charity. The shop is closed now to most people, yes. But to certain… special people, my shop never closes.”

 

The girl wrinkles her nose. “And how is that not charity?”

 

“Because you're thinking that I'm referring to your legs when I call you special. I'm not, even though, I will admit, your legs are what cued me in about your… ‘specialness’.” And the owner smiles, before leaning his broom against the wall. It is big and gnarly, an ancient thing, the bristles thick and stiff, and not much good other than for the sweeping of leaves. “You can choose not to believe me and keep to your pride, or you can follow me in and have a nice cup of tea.”

 

The girl stares at the owner’s retreating back and hesitates but for a moment. Then slowly, she turns before starting to hobble forward. Her legs completely turn in as she picks up speed, movements becoming large and sweeping to keep her balance. And yet, there is a practiced grace in her movements, a strength to her bowed legs even as she catches up to the owner at the door.

 

“Please.” The owner holds the door open, gesturing for her to enter, his face guileless even as she eyes him suspiciously for a moment. But she finally steps in, walking forward to disappear further in, even as the owner follows after, closing the door behind him.

 

The inside of the shop looks different now at closing time, the windows all closed, blinds drawn. And the girl stares for a bit, almost feeling as if she's on the inside of a pet shop instead, and the stones and various goods feel like living breathing creatures instead, but fast asleep, and so you hold your breath and lighten your step in fear of waking them.

 

“Come on,” the owner says in a soft voice, and a smile that almost seems like it's saying he understands. “This way.”

 

And he leads her behind the counter, past what seems like a storeroom and into what seems like a small pantry, and he pulls out a seat for the girl to seat before moving to start the kettle. “Rose or pineapple?”

 

The girl jumps a little, “sorry… What?”

 

“Tea.” The owner smiles as he opens one of the cupboards, revealing neat rows if labelled jars. “Rose or pineapple?”

 

“Pineapple tea?” The girl wrinkles her nose. “That's weird.”

 

“Hey. Don't diss it before you try it!” The owner shakes his head before taking down the jar labelled ‘pineapple' in neat block letters. “I guess it's pineapple tea then.”

 

“If you were going to choose it yourself, why ask me?” The girl mutters under her breath before jumping when the owner speaks again. “So, what's your name?”

 

“Me?” The girl stutters, before wrinkling her nose. “That's kind of rude, asking for my name before even giving your own.”

 

“Oh. That's right. It is, isn't it?” The owner hums apologetically as he dumps a teaspoon of tea leaves into the strainer. “I'm sorry. It's just been a while. Most people aren't too interested in my name. They're just interested in what I can give them.”

 

“That's kind of sad,” the girl notes, “but you haven't told me your name yet.”

 

“It is. And you're right.” The owner sets the teapot down and turns around with a smile. “You can call me ‘Jin' if you'd like.”

 

There's something about the way the owner says it that makes the girl suspect that it isn't the man's real name. “Is that so? Then I guess you can call me… Hanna.”

 

“Is that so?” Jin’s smile only widens, and he chuckles to himself. “Nice to meet you then, Hanna.”

 

Hanna sighs, “same here I guess. But… actually, why are you making me tea? I just wanted to buy a bottle of juice and then I have to go home.”

 

Jin tilts his head at that, a contemplative look on his face before he shrugs, “well. It is because of that. I'd love to sell you a bottle of juice, but the problem is that I make a set amount of each flavour after the fruits delivery comes at 5 a.m. every morning. And right now, I've completely run out.”

 

“What?” Hanna stands at that, her mouth curling down, indignant. “Then what did you invite me in for?”

 

Jin puts a hand on her shoulder as he brings  a porcelain jar filled with sugar cubes to the table. “For tea.”

 

“Hah! Tea—”

 

“And to perhaps suggest another thing you might purchase instead of juice of course.”

 

Hanna pauses at this, her face furrowing into a frown. “What do you mean?”

 

“Sit.” Jin gently pushes her down again, and she obeys after a moment of hesitation. “I will answer once I finish making the tea. The kettle has boiled.”

 

Hanna finally sits. But the silence is too much to bear, and after a beat or two, she asks, “but what could I buy? I only have enough for a bottle of juice, and I know even your cheapest healing crystal is more than what I can afford.” Then she scowls, “and don't try to sell me some random thing that you can't get rid of and so try to offload it on me. That will just get me into a worse mood.”

 

“Mmm…” Jin carefully pours the boiling hot water into the kettle, letting the tea leaves steep inside. “I suppose. But I wasn't thinking about either.”

 

Then Jin picks up the teapot and brings it over, placing it down onto the marble surface of the small table with a soft click. He looks at the girl and smiles, “how about instead, I grant you one of your wishes?”

 

Chapter Text

The obvious question is asked, and it results in disappointment, the teapot nearly getting shattered on the ground. Except it's almost as if Jin had known, and he'd grabbed the sugar jar and teapot right before Hanna had let out a frustrated yell, pushing the table to the ground.

 

The silence in the wake of the loud crash is ironically more deafening than the crash itself. And after a long, long moment, Hanna wipes her eyes, shame crossing her face as she gets up to try to pick the table up. “Sorry. I— I have… A flash temper. I didn't mean—”

 

But Jin has already put the teapot and sugar jar aside, moving to do what Hanna had intended to do. “It's alright. You have a right to be angry. I shouldn't have phrased things in a way to give you so much hope only to rip it away just so I could act dramatic for my own satisfaction. I apologize.”

 

The girl only shakes her head again, fists clenched tightly atop of her thighs. She doesn't look up even as Jin moves the teapot back, taking two matching teacups from the rack. They all have the curls of soft pink motifs etched across their glazed surfaces — must be part of a single set. There's the sound of water being poured, and a delicious aroma fills the air.

 

“Here.” Jin places the cup in front of the girl, “it's done.”

 

She doesn't move.

 

Jin picks up his own cup, breathing in the aroma of the tea, and he sips at the top, letting out a hum of appreciation. “As usual, I make the best tea. You should drink it, before it gets cold.”

 

The girl sighs, but she finally unclenches her fists, picking the cup up. She still isn't looking at Jin, but well, progress.

 

She watches the vapour curl lazily off the surface of the liquid for a moment, just breathing in. She will have to admit, the tea does smell delicious. But then, most teas do, only to be utterly disappointing at the taste.

 

She finally puts the cups to her lips and tips the cup back slightly, drinking. The tea is surprisingly, not too hot, despite the water being freshly boiled.

 

There's only surprise on her face left when she pulls the cup away from her mouth. “It's good?”

 

“Mmm… it has a white tea base mixed with a flower and dried pineapple blend.” Jin agrees, “the dried pineapple makes it sweet, so there's no real need for sugar. Finish your cup and I'll pour you a refill.”

 

The girl drains her cup quickly, before holding it out again. Jin refills it as he promises.

 

“Feel better?” Jin asks after a moment, and Hanna looks up before nodding. “Yeah. It's really good.”

 

Then a pause, “if it's possible, it’d be nice if you could sell this tea to me? 5000 won worth?”

 

Jin pauses, raising an eyebrow. “You'd prefer tea over a wish?”

 

Hanna laughs a little, “it's not like I really have any other wish than the one you said was impossible.”

 

“I didn't say it was impossible, just that the price wouldn't have been worth the results.” Jin reiterates, “but no, I only grant wishes of a smaller, pettier variety. Like curing your face of spots… or perhaps, bringing misfortune to your enemies.”

 

Hanna starts a little, “what?”

 

“Surely, with you legs like that—” and Hanna flinched, “you must have at least one or two bullies. Wouldn't you wish to get even with them at least?”

 

Hanna frowns, folding her arms. “I don't really need to get even with them, just for them to back off. And I can do that without the use of any wish.”

 

“I can't imagine it’d be just one or two. Surely, all your classmates must say things about you?”

 

“Surprisingly, most of them are pretty decent. And if I was sore about one or two unsolicited observations, I’d be fighting someone everyday and that's just impractical. And it's not like what they say isn't true or particularly malicious. Yeah. I walk weird. It's the truth. What's there to get angry about?”

 

“You're wiser than a girl your age should be.” Jin states, and the girl only shrugs in reply, not noticing the secret flicker to Jin’s smile.

 

“I guess I just had to grow up faster.” The girl shrugs.

 

“Mmm… I guess so, growing up in your household. You would have to.”

 

Hanna frowns, “what? What makes you say that?”

 

And Jin simply points to Hanna’s wrist. Her long sleeves have ridden up a little, probably when she'd drunk her tea. The fading bruises of a hand clenching too tight circle the skin. She pulls the sleeve back down. “They're not abusing me or anything. Sometimes, they just get frustrated, and sometimes it's from saving me from becoming roadkill actually. They work two jobs each, to support my hospital checkups and physical therapy. And they always apologize after. It's more than understandable.”

 

Jin looks down at the bruises, and sees two people who are no doubt trying their best, but are going crazy in the corners. He wonders when that craziness will spread. It will. He's seen this kind of thing before. “Mmm.”

 

“You don't believe me?”

 

“I do. And that's the danger.” Jin shakes his head, “not that I can interfere, only perhaps offer you something to make the bad days a little better.”

 

Hanna frowns, “I don't—”

 

“You do.” Jin tilts his head with a knowing look. “Today was a bad day. That's why you came all the way here even though it was tiring. You wanted to buy my juice, because it was apparently delicious and could also maybe help with the healing of the body, and maybe ease the tight muscles in your legs. And you'd even have a pretty bottle as a souvenir to remind you of it, and maybe you'd look at it as a reminder of the happy memory of that day.”

 

“Well, you've got me all figured out, haven't you?” Hanna mutters under her breath.

 

“Not all.” Jin smiles, topping up Hanna’s tea again, “just this part.”

 

Hanna shakes his head, “so what? Are you going to sell me a juice bottle then?”

 

“I could sell you the bottle on its own, but like I said, I have no ingredients to make you juice

… but I can make you something different to fill up that bottle with.”

 

“What? Tea?”

 

“No… a potion to give you good dreams.”

 

Silence.

 

“...Maybe I should stop drinking this tea.” Hanna regards her cup contemplatively. “There might be something inside it that will make me delusional.”

 

Jin smiles, “most people like you react like that at first. But what do you have to lose. You came for a drink, and it will be a drink, something more delicious than juice. I promise.”

 

“If that something is more delicious than juice, then shouldn't it cost more than then 5000 won it would take to buy a bottle of juice?”

 

“Mmm… it will, but it would be valuable only to me. To you it might seem it would cost nothing.”

 

“Really? What's the price then?”

 

Jin lifts up his hand to point, “that.”

 

The girl pauses, before she lets out a shriek, covering her chest to where Jin seems to be pointing at. “Yah! What the hell? You pervert?!”

 

Jin blinks, expression turning mildly annoyed, “yah. What are you thinking? I'm pointing at your button! Your button!”

 

“My button?” Hanna stops screaming for a moment to look down at the black buttons of her grade school uniform. “What?”

 

“As much as you're a pretty girl, I'm not interested in you that way.” Jin shakes his head, “but the second button of your uniform. That would be useful to me.”

 

“I still don't see how that's not perverted! If I remove the second button you're going to see my chest…” and Hanna's words trail off as Jin holds up a safety pin. “Like I said, I'm not interested in you. Just the button. It's only the second one because that is the one closest to your heart.”

 

Hanna stares at the safety pin, floundered for a moment. “Alright fine. Let's say I believe that you can give me this… potion. How does it even work?”

 

“You take a cup of it right before you sleep. Just a tiny, tiny cup. The amount you would pour into the bottle cap would actually do. And then when you go to sleep, you'd have good dreams, even if you wouldn't remember what they're about; but when you wake up, you'll feel refreshed, your bones less sore, your muscles strengthened.”

 

“That sounds…” Hanna purses her lips, “too good to be true. And actually like it could be addictive. It sounds like you're giving me drugs.”

 

“It isn't. As in, it isn't a drug. And it definitely won't have other side effects unlike a drug. I've refined my recipe to that point at least. But you're right in that it can be addictive. Not to the point where you'd be so heavily reliant on it, but possibly it could become that you'd be dependent on it for a good night’s sleep.”

 

“Then why would you offer me something like this?”

 

“Because in the hands of the right person, it would be a tool to heal themselves, rather than harm. If you use it just for the really bad days, then it will allow you to grow stronger, rather than be torn down. Besides,” Jin tilts his head, “you already use things as a crutch to get you through the bad days; like the juice you wanted to buy. And yet, you're still a spendthrift because you know your parents can't afford for you to waste money. Using this potion isn't any much different in that sense.”

 

Hanna swallows, looking down at her hands. “Okay, but what's stopping me for buying 5000 won’s worth of tea instead of this dubious potion thing you're offering?”

 

“Nothing. But to be honest 5000 won will barely get you enough leaves for two pots of tea. This blend is pretty expensive.” Jin shrugs, “but the potion will cost you but a button. And even if it doesn't work, you'll have a nice drink, prettier than the juices actually, the pretty potion bottle and the nice memory of the strange, disillusioned man who thought he could sell you a magical potion that would give you good dreams.”

 

Hanna pauses, “when you put it that way. It sounds like I'd be giving up a good deal.”

 

“It is for you.” Jin agrees, “it is but equivalent exchange for me.”

 

Hanna chews on her lip for a while longer before she sighs, “just my second button right? Please pass me the safety pin then.”

 

It is passed over without question, and Jin politely adverts his eyes as Hanna plucks the button off, pinning her uniform back shut with the pin.

 

“Here.”

 

And Jin takes the button as it's handed back to him, and he holds it up to the light, before he nods. “Yep. This is good. Yoongi?”

 

And Hanna jumps when there is suddenly a meow, and then a cat with pale golden fur and yellow eyes jumps onto the table, giving a soft meow.

 

“Mmm… help me put this away?” Jin holds the button out to the cat, who takes the button with its mouth. “Thank you.”

 

Hanna watches with wide eyes as the cat leaps off the table and runs off with the button in its mouth. But then Jin standing, “finish up your tea and then follow me. You have to go home soon, don't you?”

 

“Where are we going?” Hanna asks, even as she picks up her cup to drain it.

 

“Upstairs.” Jin glances over to the side, and when Hanna looks, there's a small wooden stairway that leads up stairs. “To my lair.”

 

~*~

 

Jin’s lair isn't dark and forbidding and somehow inside a cave despite this being obviously the inside of a house. Instead, it's rather warm and cozy, and looks like the inside of a fantasy apothecary with plenty of dried plants and flowers hanging from the walls and off the ceilings, the walls lined with shelves cluttered with bottles of all shapes and sizes and colours, filled with liquids and oddities floating in liquids.

 

But there is a rather large, imposing cauldron in the center of the room, sitting atop what looks like a proper stone fireplace set in the middle of the wooden floor, a merry fire licking the sides of the heavy black iron.

 

And yet, there are no scorch marks on the floor, even as Jin moves and grabs a poker from the wall, and sparks dance across the wood floor and he pokes around inside.

 

“Right.” Jin suddenly straightens and stretches, disrupting Hanna from looking around more. “Luckily for you, I was working on something similar already, so I just have to add a few more ingredients in and we'll have your potion. Yoongi?”

 

And Hanna jumps when there's suddenly a meow by her feet, and she jumps a little when she feels soft fur her skin. And when she looks down, the black cat that had brushed against her leg is already walking towards Jin, leaping onto the table that stands a bit off the side of the cauldron — a work table of sorts, filled with stacks of books, an assortment of measuring spoons and a couple of knives atop a wooden chopping board.

 

She stares even as the cat stares back at her. Jin doesn't seem to notice — he's busy looking through the shelves, pulling out several bottles of shiny looking stuff. “Jin-sshi? You have two different cats named Yoongi?”

 

“Oh. No. Only one. He's the same cat as the one you saw downstairs.” Jin says, but doesn't offer any other explanation, than, “he just likes messing with people. If you want you can come closer, but not too close. It won't be good if this stuff spills on you.”

 

And as Hanna walks closer, Jin is already uncapping one of the jars he'd taken down,  pouring in a steady stream of shimmery powder into the liquid. And the girl watches as the liquid, a murky black at first, lightens to a midnight blue, shimmering in the dark light as Jin begins to stir the mixture with a big wooden paddle.

 

Jin smiles as he stirs the mixture, once, twice clockwise, and then five times counter-clockwise. And then he stops, picking up a bunch of small dried flowers, yellow, curled and shriveled, but looks as if it could have once been a beautiful blooming white. Jin crushes them with his hands, scattering them over the surface of the mixture.

 

“Mmm… just needs a drop of lavender oil…” and Jin picks up a small vial before carefully dripping but a small drop of the clear liquid inside.

 

And Hanna starts when the mixture suddenly begins to bubble violently, but Jin just stares at it, satisfied. And perhaps, it's a trick of the light, but his eyes almost seem to be glowing, his clothes rustling a little even though the air in the room is still.

 

The cat is almost eerily still as well, even its tail erect and poised upright as it stares intensely at Jin. And the air seems to snap between them, like the molecules are almost singing.

 

And then Jin lets out a sound of satisfaction, relaxing, and the air seems to let out a sigh as the liquid seems to suck itself in and then relaxes, the colour suddenly turning almost translucent, shimmering and a deep purple.

 

“Done.” Jin nods as he surveys the result. “Ahhh… as usual, I make the best potions.”

 

The cat beside him makes a harrumphing sort of noise before it jumps off the table. And Jin rolls his eyes, “I did not take an unnecessary risk with the lavender oil. My hands are more than steady enough to make sure I put just one drop.”

 

Hanna ignores him, too mesmerized by the shining liquid swirling gently in the cauldron. With the amount of plants that had been put in, she’d expect it to smell flowery. But instead, when she takes in a big whiff, she smells honey and caramel instead.

 

“It smells different for everyone.” Hanna starts again, and when she looks up, Jin has a knowing look in his eyes. “What does it smell like for you?”

 

“Honey and caramel.”  

 

“Mmm… That's a good smell.”

 

Hanna looks up at Jin, curious, “what does it smell like to you?”

 

“Oh. Spiced wine and cinnamon.” Jin smiles, glancing towards the corner, where he knows a pair of yellow eyes are staring at him. “Alright, let's get this bottled up for you and then you should go home. The sun has already gone down after all.”

 

~*~

 

“Remember, only one bottle cap’s worth a night.” Jin lectures even as they step out of the shop and into the street. It's already dark out, and the corner where Jin’s shop is totally deserted. The area is one meant to be visited in the day after all. “And only take it the nights you really need it. Tonight, of course, is the exception. But try to make it last as long as you can.”

 

Hanna rolls her eyes, tucking the bottle safely into her sling bag. “Got it, mom . Yeesh, are you sure you're a guy? You nag as much as my mother.”

 

“Hey, hey. Nagging is an age thing, not a gender thing.” Jin wrinkles his nose before he chuckles, “but goodnight, Hanna-gun. I'd wish you sweet dreams, but I know you'll be having them tonight.”

 

And Hanna pauses for a while before she says. “Lee Hanseo.”

 

Jin pauses, blinking for a moment, “sorry?”

 

“Lee Hanseo.” The girl points at herself with a slightly apologetic look. “That's my real name.”

 

And the owner let's out a small chuckle as understanding dawns on his face. “Ahh… Well. Nice to meet you, Lee Hanseo. You… I guess… you can too call me Seokjin.”

 

It's not his full name. Because that risk would be too great. Because names have power, and even if it's not his true name, his full name could be damaging enough for some random stranger to hold. But oddly, the girl doesn't protest this, nodding. And she’s about to turn to leave when she pauses, turning around to ask one last question. “Seokjin-sshi… Are you a witch?”

 

And Seokjin pauses at the doorway, raising an eyebrow before giving her a small wink, “whatever makes you say that?”

 

And then, the door is closed behind him with a click, before the girl has a chance to respond. There is almost an air of finality as she stands alone in the street, the only evidence of her encounter the pretty shimmering bottle stowed in her bag, and her belly still warm with the pineapple tea she'd drank.

 

Hanseo turns around, beginning to walk back as fast as she can manage. She’s already late getting home and it's a long, long walk to the station.

 

But at least the bottle feels light in her bag. Almost oddly so.

 

~*~

 

Seokjin see the fluffy apricot-coloured cat sitting atop the counter as he locks the door behind him and rolls his eyes, even as he stows away the keys in his pockets, walking past the cat to get to the storeroom. “I'm still annoyed at you.”

 

“I was only speaking the truth. If you get annoyed at that, then maybe the fault is in the person who got annoyed.”

 

Seokjin turns around, putting his hands on his hips, staring at the apricot-haired man who’s now sitting cross-legged atop the counter where the cat had been. “So only now you turn into your human form?”

 

“There were people in the shop the whole day! It's so annoying.” The man snorts, sliding off the counter before the nagging he knows is coming comes. “One day I'm going to poison the drinks so that those annoying kids that come here will get diarrhoea. And maybe this place will become quiet like it used to be.”

 

Seokjin rolls his eyes, turning around so that he can walk to the pantry. “If you do that, we'll get served with a notice and probably have to shut down entirely, and then we'll get kicked out house and home. Is that what you want, Min Yoongi?”

 

“Don't be so dramatic. We won't get kicked out.” Yoongi rolls his eyes, shoving his hands into the black hoodie he'd conjured for himself to wear. “Are you cooking? I want halibut please.”

 

Seokjin snorts again, “and your expensive tastes is why I still need to keep working even after so many centuries of being alive.”

 

“Excuse you. You're the one who goes on eBay and Taobao shopping sprees and then offloads all the junk you buy to customers to recoup your losses.”

 

“Ah, but see, like you say, I ‘recoup my losses’.” Seokjin replies smugly as he opens opens the fridge in the small pantry. “And no halibut. But will salmon do?”

 

“I need to correct myself. You recoup some of your losses. The rest you sell at a paltry price to poor, gullible crazies who believe in all the nonsense you say.” Yoongi goes to the cupboard to get out the chopsticks and plates, setting them down at the small marble table.

 

“I sell Taehyung legitimate things sometimes. It's not my fault he can't use them.” Seokjin shrugs as he puts a pan on the small induction cooker, pouring some oil into the pan.

 

“You also tell him a lot of ridiculous things just for your own amusement. I kind of want to be there when he dumps flour on a vampire and the vampire doesn't move, but more out of shock than anything.”

 

Seokjin shrugs as he goes back to the fridge and pulls out a packet of microwavable rice, but when he opens the top and dumps it into a bowl, it's steaming hot. “You have to admit the thought of it is pretty funny. Besides, as long as he wears the rosary, he should be fine. That will give him a much better chance of survival if he gets attacked by a vampire than anything else.”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes, before he snorts at the sight of the steaming rice. “Yah, aren't you the one who says that reheating charms spoil the natural taste of food?”

 

“I did. But today, I'm too tired to care. It was a long day, and I still had to make that potion at the end.”

 

“Mmm, then you should keep shorter hours.”

 

Seokjin snorts, “you were there when I took that oath when I opened this shop. The store may close in the evening for humans, but for people like us, it's never closed.”

 

And Yoongi does know. He'd watched Seokjin say those binding words when they'd both dusted off their hands, staring at their finished work with satisfaction and pride. Yoongi hadn't stayed satisfied for long, and he'd nearly scratched Seokjin’s ear off for taking such a careless oath.

 

“But it doesn't mean I'm not fucking tired after that whole day.”

 

“Well, that's what you get when you do charity.”

 

Seokjin shakes his head, even as he rubs the salmon with his own special herb mix, before laying the fish onto the hot pan, the meat sizzling as it meets the hot metal. “It wasn't charity. Not today at least. You know how rare changelings are nowadays? And so many good hiding charms are made using a personal affect of a changeling.”

 

“So, she really was a changeling? Huh… you're right. That's rare.”

 

Seokjin sighs, turning his attention back to the salmon, pouring in some water before putting the cover back on. “To be honest, although it's an inconvenience as a witch, I'm glad that they're reducing in number.”

 

Yoongi's eyes narrow before he, too, sighs. “It really is quite a cruel thing to do. And a cruel thing to live through. Changelings never have easy lives.”

 

“Mmm…” Seokjin nods, staring at the pan as he thinks of Hanseo and her lurching bow-legged walk. There's still strength and hope in that walk, and it pains Seokjin to think that it might be worn down by the world and taken away.

 

Yoongi props a hand on his palm as he stares at Seokjin’s back. There is naught but the sound crackle of the fish frying inside the pan. “Ahh… My master. You've always been too soft.”

 

And Seokjin chuckles at that, and he smiles the small smile of someone who has seen too much for too long. “Mmm… that so?”

 

“Mhmm.”

 

“Mmm… come on. The fish is ready. Help me plate it up. I'll get us some soju.”

 

“Ugh. Why can't you do both? I'm already comfortable sitting.”

 

“Yoongi.”

 

“Yeesh. Alright, alright. I'm coming, master.”

 

“Good boy.”

 

“...I will bite you.”

 

~*~

 

MANA 주(스)세요 sells three things: health juices, healing crystals and curiosities. It opens at 11 am and closes at 8.30 pm. The owner loves puns and loves to joke with everyone who comes inside, spouting the useful healing qualities of the juices and crystals he sells; and there always seems to be a cat inside, even though there seem to be several, but never at the same time.

 

But MANA 주(스)세요 is also a place that never closes, that also sell things that humans would never imagine possible. And they certainly would never have thought, that every single thing the owner has ever said hold at least some grain of truth in them: that carrots are good for the eyes, that berries aid in muscle healing, that rose quartz helps in attracting love and citrine in concentration, that silver and garlic wreaths really do repel vampires and would stave off a vampire attack, at least for a while. There’s truth in everything he says, but humans would never know, because the owner would never sell the good stuff, the stuff that has actual power in them, to humans. Or at least, very rarely.

 

Because the name of the shop, isn't really a game reference, or even a pop culture reference. It’s a joke that isn’t really a joke after all.

 

Because what else is a potion really, but a mixture, a juice of sorts, made with magical power? And anyone who is in the know and sees that sign over the door, would immediately know :

 

That this is the place, that they can come to get their potions and poultices, their spells and charms. Because you see, Seokjin is a witch, and his door is never closed, as long as you're the right sort of customer.

 

Even if that customer might be an annoying ass vampire who barges in at 3 am in the morning far too often because he got fucking discovered again and needs yet another dream memory charm, because he's a regular who knows and abuses Seokjin’s oath far too comfortably; and his familiar, Yoongi, nearly whines everyone’s ear off with complaints because, in all fairness, anyone in his position would actually have a right to. But, Seokjin needs him here to make the potion and the faster they do this, then the faster they both can go back to sleep.

 

~*~

 

(But that said, he really will end up fucking killing Jae one of these days.)

Chapter Text

“Yoongi?”

 

“...What?”

 

“Do you think maybe, I should add tea to the drinks roster?”

 

For the moment, Yoongi has morphed into the form of a Himalayan cat, and so the dark fur around his eyes make his expression seem even more judging than usual. Then again, most of the cats he has in his usual repertoire are of the judging sort. “What the fuck for? So you can kill yourself with more work? You already make nearly 25 varieties of juices.”

 

“Most of them use the same juices, just that I mix and match them around to make different combinations.” Seokjin replies even as he grabs a jug of orange juice, adding about a third of it to an empty jug and then moving to grab the apple juice.

 

“It's still a lot of work, even if you have magic on your side.” Yoongi glances over at a jug filled with what looks like pieces of pineapple. And then, as both cat and witch stare at the jug, the pieces are suddenly no more, instead replaced entirely by liquid. “Heck. Magic is draining. I’m going to need a nap later.”

 

“Why do you think I start at 5 am and only open at 11?” Seokjin grumbles, before he sighs, “yeah, okay. I get your point. No tea then. But we gotta think of something to make with avocados.”

 

“Why the fuck are we doing avocados?”

 

“Because I ordered avocados.”

 

“Oh. Ok. Let me rephrase that: why the fuck are we doing avocados?”

 

“Er— excuse me?”

 

Both Seokjin and Yoongi jump. The orange juice slops over the top of the jug and onto the counter, like an orange coloured disaster.

 

“Who the fuck—” Seokjin curses out loud before catching himself. But he still stares, befuddled, because he's spotted the origin of the noise, and it's coming from a guy, poking his head out from behind the front door, and looking a little scared because Seokjin did kind of just curse at him. “Oh— how… who are you?”

 

“Erm… I just… was walking outside?” The guy winces as he steps out fully from behind the door. “Sorry, is this place where I can buy all those juices in the pretty bottles?”

 

Seokjin blinks again, “o...oh? Are you a… customer? Oh… yeah. You're at the right place. But we don't open until 3 hours later? It's only 8 am now.”

 

“Oh!” The guy looks embarrassed now. “Sorry. I thought you'd be open. Most juice places are now.”

 

“Ah… yes. They are aren't they? Not this place, sorry.” And Seokjin has already whipped out his business persona, much to Yoongi's amusement. “Yah… isn't this too slick already? You're becoming a better businessman than you are a witch.”

 

Seokjin obviously doesn't bother to reply him.

 

“Oh… but why don't you open earlier? The office crowd is a pretty good demographic to earn money from. Lots of disposable income to leech off from.”

 

“Ahhh… I did think about that, but I have stuff to do at night so I can only make the juices in the morning.” Seokjin says apologetically. “Besides, we're a bit too far out for the offices, so we don't get much business from the office crowd. And I'm a one man show, so I can't afford to do delivery.”

 

“Ah… I see. I see.” And in the pause, Seokjin takes the chance to size the guy up. He looks young, maybe in his early twenties? Maybe even younger. And his clothes make him look a little homeless; wide, loose fitting clothes in faded colours, with patches on the sleeves. But Seokjin has lived in this district long enough to know what is designer and what is actual homeless and he knows that this young man would fit in seamlessly with the usual hipster crowd his shop gets. So, entirely unmemorable, except this guy had decided to come in at 8 am in the morning. Seokjin hadn't even known hipsters could wake up at 8 am in the morning.

 

The young man shuffles a little, “erm… I was wondering, since I'm here, could you just sell me a bottle?”

 

Seokjin closes his eyes for a split second, and for a moment, he wishes he isn't a white witch, because he would really love to have no problem hurling a curse at annoying customers like these and not feeling totally guilty after. But no, he is a good person, even if not a white witch, and he will not abuse his powers like this.

 

In any case, this can be dealt the human way. He doesn't really care about losing customers after all: he has no lack of them, and he's not really doing this juice business because he needs it. It's mostly because he's bored and it's the easiest way to get rid of the stock of potion bottles he orders — unfortunately, his favourite supplier only sells them in bulk, and he honestly doesn't make that many potions these days.

 

So, he gives his best businessman smile and says, “sorry. No. We aren't ready for you yet. Please come back again later when we are open again.”

 

“Erm… but—”

 

“No. The door wasn't even supposed to be unlocked, so you shouldn't even be here. If you continue to stay here I'm going to call the police. Come back later.” Seokjin puts the orange juice jug down, looking ready to physically chase the guy out if needed.

 

“Woah. Woah. I'll come back later. Jeez…” And the guy holds his hand up, starting to back up. “No need to be so testy.”

 

“It's 8 am in the morning, and I've been up since 5.” Seokjin says flatly, “please let me get back to work and come back at 11.”

 

“Okay, okay. I'll just— woah!” And the guy trips, having backed up into the door. “Ow. Even your door is mean. I'm leaving, I'm leaving.”

 

And Seokjin continues to watch, until the guy is completely out and has closed the door behind him.

 

“Aw. He left. I was actually hoping you might beat him up.”

 

“I wouldn't have beat him. You know I hate violence.” Seokjin frowns, moving from behind the counter to check the door. He jiggles the handle, opening the door easily. “This is unlocked. Did we forget to lock the door last night?”

 

“I thought we did? But then again, Daniel came in at 1 am last night because he ran out of hiding charms. And we were so sleepy after we could have forgot.”

 

“Ah. Right. That man. He pretends to be such a gentleman but he always comes in at such inconsiderate times.” Seokjin frowns even as he firmly makes sure that the door is locked. “Between him and Jae, I swear I'm going to get wrinkles thanks to lack of sleep, and I'll lose all my beauty, and then where will we be?”

 

“In the same fucking place? It's not as if your goods sell because of your face,” Yoongi snorts.

 

But instead of being annoyed, Seokjin grins as he goes to get a cloth to mop up the spilt juice. “See, you admitted that my goods sell because they're good, and not because of my face.”

 

And it's only after a pause that it clicks, and Yoongi’s fur stands up as he hisses, “y-yah! I didn't mean that. I only said they didn't sell for your looks. T-they sell because… because you're literally the only witch in the vicinity!”

 

“Ahh… sure, sure. Except if I was really that bad, people would be ordering in stuff from that witch in Busan. It's not like delivery takes that long now with how technology is nowadays.” Seokjin snorts, rolling his eyes as he begins mixing the juices again.

 

“That just means you're decent enough to buy from!”

 

“And in Yoongi-nese, that means I'm good.” Seokjin teases, “you've been my familiar long enough for me to understand at least that.”

 

“Aish… why do I have such an annoying person as my master? Seriously…”

 

“Yah. Watch what you're saying.” But there's a grin on Seokjin’s face as he picks up the next jug. “Come on, the faster we finish this, the faster we can go nap.”

 

~*~

 

The guy does return later, during one of the lull periods right between the early afternoon and the late afternoon. It's really kinda funny when he comes in, because there's no way Seokjin would have missed him since there's literally no one else inside the shop right now; and he kind of freezes when Seokjin looks at him, as if he’d been hoping to escape Seokjin’s notice entirely, as if it’d be somehow possible to buy a juice bottle without interacting with Seokjin at all (for the record, it's not).

 

For a moment, it almost looks like the guy is about to hightail out of the shop, and then Seokjin lets out a snort and calls out, “yah. Where are you going? I thought you said you were coming to buy a bottle of juice? Well, it's opening time now. So you can buy it.”

 

The guy sort of stops mid-pose, almost like someone out of a comedy sketch. Seokjin can almost hear the creaking as he turns his head to the front, staring blankly at Seokjin. “Are… are you talking to me?”

 

“No, I’m talking to the cat.” Never mind that Seokjin actually could. “Of course I’m talking to you.”

 

“O-oh.” The guy blinks, before walking forward sheepishly, running a hand through messy brown hair. “I wasn’t sure. I was kind of rude in the morning wasn’t I?”

 

“Yes, you were. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop you from buying my goods at the right hour. Not until you pass on to the asshole stage at least.”

 

“Ah. Well. I want to apologize for this morning. I was… just kind of eager to get, ah, the juice. And people have said I'm a little bit tactless when I haven't gotten my coffee in the morning.”

 

“Well, most people probably are.” Seokjin tilts his head, “I accept your apology. As long as you don't try to come in before opening hours again. Or, after.”

 

“Yeah.” The guy winces as he finally reaches the counter, “I promise I won't. Er. Okay, you open at 11? What time do you close?”

 

“8.30,” Seokjin grins, leaning forward. “So, now that's settled, how can I help you today, my trespassing man?”

 

The guy winces even harder, if that is even possible. “Please don't call me that.”

 

Ah. Humans were adorable sometimes. “Well then what should I call you?”

 

“Er— Se...Seungkwan will do.”

 

“Right, ‘Seungkwan will do’-sshi? What can I get you today?”

 

Yoongi stare never leaves Seokjin, and here, he can almost hear Yoongi rolling his eyes, “you're literally toying with your prey right now. And I'm the one who’s a cat.”

 

Seokjin ignores him.

 

“E-er.” Seungkwan swallows, looking up at the chalkboard. “I don't really know. Recommend me something?”

 

Yoongi groans, stretching out even more over the counter.

 

“Ah. Well,” and Seokjin barely stops himself rubbing his hands in glee. “Our top juices have recently been ‘Let Pear Be Light’ and ‘I Love You Cherry Much’. But today’s special is ‘Time for some Avo-cardio’, which is avocado, carrot and orange, great after a workout to flush out all the toxins with antioxidants as well as fill yourself up with good fats and a good smack of vitamins!”

 

Seokjin is expecting the barely suppressed groans and rolling of eyes he's usually greeted with when it comes to customers Seungkwan’s age. He only ever gets consistent laughs when it's his rarer ahjussi or ahjumma customers who come in. But then, instead of either groaning or laughing, Seungkwan’s eyes grow a little wide and he freezes instead.

 

Yoongi’s head lifts up from the marble counter that he's been laying on, and he watches Seokjin’s expression turning confused at Seungkwan’s lack of any reaction at all. “I think you broke him.”

 

Seungkwan lets out a noise that makes Seokjin almost think that he's choking at first. But then, Seungkwan wheezes in a breath, and the next thing anyone knows, he's doubled over, tears coming out of his eyes, practically sobbing with laughter.

 

“Let… let Pear be… light! Ahahaha! Lo...ha… love you… Cher-he-ry… Cherry much!” Seungkwan grabs his tummy as if it hurts. “Ah...avo...avo… cardio!”

 

And as Yoongi watches Seokjin face turn from one of confusion into one with a humongous smile, he feels his stomach sinking deep into very dark depths, and  thinks that it'll probably never surface again.

 

“You… you like the juice names?” Seokjin asks, almost cautiously, as if he's afraid this is some kind of hoax.

 

“L-l-like… them…?” Seungkwan looks like he's almost turning a little blue or green from lack of oxygen, actually. He's wheezing so much. “I… I love them! Do you have more? Please tell me you have more?”

 

“Oh! Well, all my juice names are puns actually, but I do have non-juice related jokes as well.”

 

“Oh… please, please… tell me !”

 

Seokjin has not, for once in his long, long life, have had someone beg him like this for a joke. He finds that it is immensely satisfying. “Mmm… how about this one? What do you call a fake noodle?”

 

“A fake noodle?” Seungkwan's eyes are wide and round and huge and Yoongi wishes he could say that the guy was faking it, but no. That was sincerity in its more diluted form, right there in Seungkwan’s eyes. “I don't… I don't know… plastic? What… What would you call it?”

 

And Seokjin smirks, before saying in a ridiculously grandiose voice: “an impasta.”

 

Yoongi knows that this moment of silence just before the understanding drops is probably going to be the only moment of peace he's going to get for a while.

 

“AN IMPASTA! OH. MY. GOD. THAT IS SO CLEVER! AHAHAHHAHAHA! I CAN'T—!”

 

“I KNOW RIGHT? I THOUGHT IF IT MYSELF WHEN I WAS COOKING PASTA. IT'S SMART ISN'T IT?”

 

“AHHAHAHAHA! IT IS! PLEASE, TELL ME MORE?”

 

“OKAY! HMMM… AH! I KNOW! WHAT KIND OF SHORTS DO CLOUDS WEAR?”

 

“I DON'T KNOW? WHAT SHORTS DO THEY WEAR?”

 

“THUNDERWEAR!”

 

And as the two break out into another round of raucous laughter, Yoongi covers his face, ears flat against his head in misery.

 

It’s going to be a long, long day.

 

~*~

 

The sad thing is, as much as Yoongi had suffered under the barrage of puns that had been fired off between the two that day, it’s probably the most interesting thing that has happened to him in months.

 

Not to say that things don’t get exciting at all in the supernatural community. They do — and usually in a terrifyingly bombastic way. But it’s usually like this. A day of excitement: a new client comes, or an old client bothers them, Daniel or Hoseok have a new case, and then he and Yoongi are crazy ass busy for a day, or a few days while they rush through both the routine alongside the special. And then they're done or put on hold, and it's crickets chirping for days, or a week, or weeks or months before someone comes in again and the cycle repeats.

 

That's the thing about the supernatural community — humans love to think that it's a whole other world with totally separate rules and government and society. And Seokjin guesses that he can see that sort of happening, since well, societies have evolved for far less than instincts and abilities that are near impossible to change. But only if there were more of them.

 

And that's the actual thing about the supernatural community — it's kinda really fucking small.

 

Taehyung, and people like Taehyung, probably think that supernatural folk are crawling out from the woodwork, and it's hard work to hide themselves from human eyes. But the truth is, in the whole of South Korea itself, there's maybe like… less of a thousand of them running around; and in the scheme of things, a thousand against 51 million is trying to find one black ant amongst the red. That is, really not that hard to fade into the crowd as long as you didn't draw too much attention to yourself. And after centuries and centuries of being hunted and persecuted by humans, if there's one thing the supernatural are good at, it's hiding themselves.

 

There are only a few exceptions to that of course. And two that Seokjin can think of are werewolves and vampires. Werewolves more because, well, when the full moon comes, they kind of lose control of their human rationality entirely. And barring that, they aren't really the brightest nor the most subtle of creatures. But then, that's not really their fault. Vampires on the other hand, aren't any more prone than any other creature who have human in their diet to blow their cover; it's really because there are a lot more of them, so that thanks to the sample size, the number of bad eggs would naturally be larger.

 

Plus, a lot of vampires tend to be young — a lot of the wisdom any supernatural garners tends to grow naturally simply from living for a really, really long time. And a lot of vampires born within this century don't really have that privilege and so, they do a lot of dumb things.

 

What sort of dumb things? Well, specimen A: the vampire currently screaming his head off at Seokjin after barging into his shop like a raving mad lunatic.

 

Seokjin wipes his hand tiredly on his apron. It'd been a long day, Seokjin having discovered the hard way that sugarcane was really hard to get juice out via magic, and his usual supplier had called him to tell him that his new shipment of oranges had gotten spoiled due to a flood in his warehouse, and Seokjin had had to scramble to find a new supplier that didn’t suck. And so, he really isn't in the best of moods to be yelled at right now, and he just glances at Yoongi, ignoring the blond haired vampire who hadn't even had the manners to take off the guitar bag he’s carrying and leaving it by the door.

 

“You know. Sometimes, I wonder why I ever decided to make it so that any of our kind who needed my help would be always able to enter this shop no matter what, when it's always abused by inconsiderate brats.”

 

“Hey! Who are you calling a brat—”

 

“You actually might want to listen to him.” Yoongi smirks, yellow eyes glittering as he stretches out. “It's actually quite amusing.”

 

“...Yoongi said something didn't he? What did he say?”

 

“That I should listen to you. Apparently, you're saying something really amusing.” Seokjin smirks when more annoyance crosses the vampire’s face.

 

“You mean you weren't listening this whole time?! You fucking wi—urk.”

 

Seokjin doesn't bother to hide his grin when the vampire’s voice suddenly cuts off as he draws a series of symbols in the air. And really, it's the vampire brat’s own fault for making it so easy for Seokjin to shut him up. If he had just left his guitar bag at the door, then he wouldn't be carrying the silencing charms that Seokjin had secretly woven in, and Seokjin wouldn't be able to shut his mouth this way. “Seriously, you're too noisy.”

 

While the vampire brat mouths soundlessly at Seokjin, the witch turns around to look at Yoongi. “Was what he said really that funny? I'm not in the mood to get a migraine.”

 

“Trust me. It's going to cure that bad mood of yours. Let the brat speak.”

 

“Oh, alright.” Seokjin rolls his eyes to turn to look back at the glaring blond vampire, “tell me this exciting thing that's going to get rid of my bad mood. Better make sure it doesn't disappoint, Jae.”

 

And with the mention of the vampire's name and a wave of his hand, the spell breaks and Jae finally can wheeze out sounds again.

 

“Fucking hell, Jin.” Jae groans, rubbing his throat. “I hate it when you do that.”

 

“Jin-hyung ,” Seokjin reminds him, but knows that Jae wouldn't heed his words. The blond has the stubbornness of a centuries-old vampire even though he's barely hitting fifty. “And hurry up with whatever you want to say, I have a pile of washing and an experimental spell with my name on it”

 

“Experimental spell?” Jae scoffs, folding his arms, “does it happen to use flour?”

 

There's actually an almost lethal amount of venom pegged to the word, which Seokjin doesn't get at first. “No, the base is quartz. Why would I even use flour? I don't even use it for potions, let alone spells.”

 

“I don't know. Why don't you tell me?” Jae hisses, slamming his palms against the counter. “Apparently, you think it's useful enough that it can stop a vampire in their tracks when a whole bag full is thrown into their face.”

 

It takes Seokjin a second, because, honestly, Seokjin has made up a lot of weird shit talking about the supernatural to humans over the years, and he honestly normally forgets every untrue thing he's ever said after a couple of days. But he gets it. And oh boy, the unholy grin that crosses his face after he gets it. “Wait, no. Really? Taehyung’s campus vampire was you?”

 

Jae’s eyebrows furrowed. “Campus vampire? What?”

 

“The boy managed to get a picture of you.” Seokjin was beginning to snicker. “Or rather, he got a lack of a picture of you. That camera he brings around is an old-fashioned camera.”

 

“Old-fashioned camera?” Jae repeats, the annoyance on his face growing. “What the fuck does that mean?”

 

“It means it uses mirrors, you idiot.” Seokjin snorts, interjecting. “The smartphone has only been popular for five years, Jae. Did you forget you didn't use to be able to take photos to put on that obnoxious Twitter account of yours because you wouldn't even show up in one?”

 

Jae’s mouth works for a moment in a way that tells Seokjin that he can't think of any retort. It makes Seokjin smile, the kind where you hide the glee in your sleeve, lest it spill. And then Jae huffs, throwing up his arms. “Fine. Okay. I got discovered by a kid with a camera. At least it's not because my fangs came out in a brightly lit place again. But did you really have to tell him that fucking flour is effective against vampires? I was hacking up the stuff for a good whole hour last night!”

 

Seokjin pauses and then he tilts his head, smile growing even wider. “Wait— you… he got you? You mean, he actually got you?! Mister ‘I have faster reflexes than a human and they'll never get me undead’?!”

 

“I said that one time.” Jae growls under his breath. “And I was fucking drunk from fairy blood that you snuck into my dinner, you fucking asshole .”

 

But Seokjin is now laughing too hard to even lecture Jae for his language. And Jae watches in dismay as Seokjin has to grab the table, as his knees lose strength from laughing so hard. And he glares at Yoongi. “Oi! Can't you stop him or something? Aren't his laughs hurting your sensitive ears or something, demon-cat?”

 

But Yoongi doesn't change back, instead, his tail waves in the air, ears flicking forward, and Jae has the distinct feeling that Yoongi is laughing at him too.

 

The look of annoyance now has an inkling of despair mixed in with it, and Jae groans again. “Seriously. I hate you all. Go and die in a ditch. Fucking hell.”

 

“Ahh…” Seokjin rubbed at his eyes where tears had leaked out, taking panting breaths to try to ease the sore muscles of his stomach. “I really need to thank Taehyung somehow… hah… This is the most happy I've felt in months, oh Hecate bless me.”

 

“Glad to see my misery has brought you happiness.” Jae says dully.

 

“It really has. Hah... But, seriously. Tell me what happened. I want to know everything in sordid detail. This was after school right? Was Jeongguk with you yesterday? Did he take pictures?”

 

Jae closes his eyes, taking in a deep breath, “no. He didn't.”

 

“Aw, really? That's disappointing. I'm gonna text him anyway to ask.” Seokjin cackles as he pulls his phone out from his pants pocket. “Actually, where were you exactly? I should get Byulyi or Yongsun to check out the security cameras in the area. See if we can get footage of this thing.”

 

“You wouldn't.”

 

“He totally would.” And Jae jumps at the new voice, putting his hand over his heart. “Fucking hell, Yoongi.”

 

“You mean, ‘Yoongi-hyung '.” The familiar snorts, pulling out his phone as well, “Jin-yah. I'll text Yongsun, so you just need to text Byulyi.”

 

“Roger, but hang on, Jeongguk is typing out what happened in detail. Oh my god. Apparently, Taehyung threw a whole bag of flour. Jae was tracking flour all the way home and Jeongguk says that the neighbours were all on their way home from work too, and they were all standing at their doors, dying to ask but Jae kept glaring at them. Aw, Jae, why so mean? It was just a bit of flour and a good laugh.”

 

“You try spending the whole night sweeping flour up. It gets fucking everywhere. And it freaking clogged the drain up too.” Jae groans, rubbing his face. “Aren't you going to apologize to me? This is all your fault.”

 

“Actually, the way I see it, I saved your ass. In more than one way.” Seokjin barely looks up from texting on his phone. “Obviously, the flour thing didn't work. So, Taehyung might be a little less inclined to believe you're a vampire now. Although, his photographic evidence is kind of hard to disprove. None of my memory charms are going to work on him if it's like this.”

 

Jae opens his mouth before he closes it with a scowl. “But you say he couldn't get a photo of me anyway, so he's not going to be able to spread it on the net anyway.”

 

“Mmm. True.” Seokjin acknowledges, “ahhh… Kookie didn't get a picture. What a waste.”

 

“So, why should I be thanking you then? It would have been the same outcome even if you didn't tell him about the flour.”

 

“Eh. Well, he could have thrown holy water at you.” Seokjin seems preoccupied, as he types furiously on his phone. “He bought quite a bit the last time he came around.”

 

“Wait. You sold him holy water? Like the real thing?”

 

“Ah. That reminds me,” Seokjin finally looks up, “you guys have been checking out on the murders in Dongdaemun-do after I messaged Hobi about it, right? Did you manage to track down who did it?”

 

“Huh?” Jae blinks, distracted. “Ah. That. We figured out it was a group, not just one vampire. We're still waiting for Jisoo’s info, but we have a pretty good idea who they are.”

 

“Ahh… That’s good. Which reminds me, since you're here, maybe you can bring back the new vials of holy water I prepared for Hoseok and Daniel.”

 

“...Did you seriously just ask a vampire to bring back holy water?” Jae asks, flabbergasted, “Jin, you—”

 

“Ah. Right. The drownings. Did Hoseok share anything with you?”

 

“Huh? The ones in this area? I think Hoseok and Daniel were discussing it? But it's not a priority with the vampire killings, and there haven't been any new victims for a week anyway.”

 

“Ahhh… okay.” Seokjin nods, turning his attention back to his phone.

 

Jae blinks at Seokjin for a moment, looking a little dazed, but then a snicker from Yoongi snaps him out of it. “Wow, seriously. Jin! You're really fucking mean. What the fuck…. And you haven't answered me? Did you really sell actual holy water to some random human—”

 

“Oh sweet Hecate!” Seokjin suddenly spazzes excitedly, running to Yoongi's side. “Byulyi found it. Oh my sweet goddess! Footage! Shit, how do we connect it my phone to the TV again? I want to watch it on the big screen.”

 

“I didn't set yours up.” Yoongi says with his tongue stuck out if the side of his mouth, concentrating. “We'll need to use mine to do it.”

 

“Should I send it to your phone then?”

 

“No need, Yongsun sent it to the group chat. We can all enjoy watching Jae get blasted with a bag full of flour together.” Yoongi grins, “maybe we should have a get together, watch the clip and swap stories about how Park Jaehyung makes an idiot of himself.”

 

“Oh! I like that idea, Yoongi. You're such a genius.”

 

“But of course.”

 

Jae watches the two of them leave the room, not even caring that Jae is still around, possibly to go upstairs to watch the security footage on the TV. Jae lets out a long, long sigh as he stares blankly up at the ceiling. Possibly contemplating what he'd done to deserve this.

 

“...I seriously hate them. All of them.”

 

~*~

 

Yoongi seriously hates them. The both of them. Sometimes he wishes that Seokjin had just left him to die as a malnourished and abused cat by the roadside — at least he wouldn’t suffer this abuse right now if he’d just died then.

 

“—and then I said, my puns are koala-tea!”

 

Seokjin took in a wheezing breath, slapping his knee as he wiped away the tears in his eyes. “Ahhh… Seungkwan-ah… that was a good one.”

 

“It was, wasn't it?” Seungkwan wiped the tears from his eyes. “Ah… it's almost time for your late afternoon crowd. I suppose I should skedaddle. Don't want to be too much of a bother.”

 

“Ah… well, I think the only one we really bother is this one.” Seokjin grins as he looks down at the miserable looking cat curled around the cash register. And he tries carding his hands into Yoongi’s soft white (he’s a Persian today) fur, only to receive a hiss in return. Yep, Yoongi’s pretty much annoyed at him for eternity.

 

Seungkwan scratches his head, jumping a little at Yoongi’s hiss. Seokjin doesn't really blame him. He'd already explained he doesn't really like cats, having been attacked by one when he'd been younger. And Yoongi isn't exactly… beginner friendly. “Yeah well. I guess I've bothered him enough. Goodbye, Jin-hyung! See you tomorrow!”

 

“See you!” Seokjin waves as Seungkwan grabs his purchased bottle of juice and exits the place, closing the door behind him. “Ahh… he really is so funny.”

 

“He's only funny to you because the both of you have the exact same horrible sense of humour.” Yoongi grumbles as he finally uncurls himself from the register. And his fur ruffles as he stretches as if rustled by the wind, and then the colour seems to darken into black, smoothly shortening until a domestic short hair is standing on the counter. “I'm subjected to torture everyday now.”

 

“Mhmm.” Seokjin grins, gently patting Yoongi’s cute pink nose, “and somehow that elevates me into an even better mood.”

 

“Oh? And what’s got you in such a good mood, hyung?”

 

Seokjin nearly jumps five feet into the air, swerving around to stare at the man who’s just stepped into the main hall from the storage room. And the man tilts his head, before beaming out a smile. It seems oddly bright in the room now, even though it's been cloudy most of the day. “Hello, Seokjin-hyung. It's been a while.”

 

“Ho...Hoseok?”

 

“Uhuh.” The man named Hoseok chuckles, “I think this is the first time I've seen you so surprised to see me. Usually, Yoongi lets you know the moment I enter.”

 

“Yes. He usually does.” Seokjin says from between ground teeth, turning around to glare at Yoongi, now in his human form, and sitting smugly atop the counter. “Oh… I didn't hear you come in. Maybe it's because my sense of hearing has suffered thanks to my master laughing so loudly recently.”

 

Hoseok raises an eyebrow before he grins, “oh? Well, that's a good thing isn't it? Jin-hyung laughing?”

 

Seokjin tries to make his laughter sound less pained than it actually is, even as he subtly tries to take off the apron his wearing, straighten his clothes and neaten his hair all at the same time, hopefully without being noticed for it, “Yes. I suppose it is. Er… what are you here for, Hoseok?”

 

“Mmm… wanted to ask you something. But are you busy? I forgot the shop is a lot busier these days, now that it's become Instagram famous. Maybe I should come at night like Daniel-hyung does.”

 

“Ahh… please, you can come anytime you like. I'll always have time for you.” Seokjin lets out a genuine smile, ignoring Yoongi rolling his eyes behind him. “Why don't we go to the pantry and talk?”

 

“This might take a while though?” Hoseok looks apologetic, “it's empty now, but it's probably going to be really crowded soon isn't it?”

 

“Eh,” Seokjin shakes his head with a chuckle. “I mean, yes it could. But I think I'll just close the shop for a bit. Those youngsters need more chances to exercise patience anyway. Everything is instant gratification nowadays.”

 

“I'm barely older than those ‘youngsters', hyung.” Hoseok’s grin widens even as Seokjin winks at him.

 

“Ah, but you're my special Hobi, remember? You're better than all those other kids.”

 

Hoseok laughs, before he raises his hand, revealing a plastic bag filled with takeaway boxes that had been dangling from it. “Sure, hyung. Anyway, I brought some mandu from the restaurant. I'll go heat it up in the pantry, and you go do whatever you need to do first?”

 

“Sure. See you in a little bit then.” And Seokjin watches as Hoseok walks off, back through the storage door, before he lets out a little sigh.

 

“He's right, you know. He's really is barely older than all of your annoying juice customers we get.”

 

And Seokjin's face immediately sours. Not that Yoongi feels any sort of intimidated by the way he swerves and rounds up on Yoongi. “Yah! You… why didn't you tell me immediately once he came in? Shit, I'm an utter mess and he saw me like this.”

 

Yoongi snorts. The witch is in his usual black pants and loose button down, pink and white lined apron tied around his waist, his hair falling neatly back, even after he pushes it up in frustration: it's the hair charms he always he weaves into his black mop. The vain idiot. “You look like you always do.”

 

“Exactly! I need to look special for Hoseok!”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes, pushing himself off the counter and out of Jin’s face, going to the door. He locks it and puts up the sign that proclaims that the hypothetical ‘we' would be right back. “Taking off your apron, wearing a new shirt and charming your hair with ten more hair charms don't make much of an improvement, Jin.”

 

“Oh sweet Hecate, this is what I get for rescuing your mangled body from the side of the road—”

 

“Without my consent, by the way.”

 

“Out of the goodness of my heart!” Seokjin raises his voice even louder, “healed you and fed you for how many centuries? And this… this is how you repay me?”

 

“Er… Jin-hyung? Yoongi-hyung? Is everything alright?”

 

Seokjin whirls around, his eyes wide. And he doesn't need to look to know Yoongi probably has that annoying smirk back on his face again. “Hoseok! Sorry. We were taking a while, weren't we? We're just about done. Go back to the pantry first, won't you?”

 

Hoseok still looks a little unsure, lips turned down in mild bemusement. “Er… if you're sure?”

 

“Yes, yes. We'll be right behind you.”

 

Once Hoseok turns around again, Seokjin turns to glare at Yoongi, and actually, Yoongi actually feels kind of dizzy on Seokjin's behalf: he's spun on his heel at least four times within the last ten minutes. “What the fuck, Yoongi?”

 

“You were the one in the middle of ranting.” Yoongi grins, expression far too sweet. “I just didn't want to interrupt you.”

 

“Why… you little…” Seokjin’s hands curl into fist even as he shoots Yoongi the most poisonous glare he can muster. Yoongi isn't particularly scared, really. His master can be threatening, but not when he's being this sort of angry. “Lucky for you, I don't want to keep Hoseok waiting. But you… you'll get it from me later.” Seokjin mutters under his breath, before turning on his heel yet once again, and marching off to the pantry.

 

Yoongi watches, but his smug expression slowly softens once Seokjin is out of the room. And then, he shakes his head with a long-suffering sigh. “My master is such an idiot.”

 

~*~

 

“You're saying that there have been drownings in the area? How come I haven't heard anything about it?”

 

“Because it's mostly homeless people. And homeless people die all the time. So the news isn't interested in such things.” Hoseok explains, “but… there's been an increase of them within a really small period.”

 

“Mmm… are you telling me they were found in the hidden spring at Bugaksan?”

 

“If they were, then I wouldn't have come here.” Hoseok sighs, “No, the bodies were all discovered in different places; places like malls… offices... And they've been discovered floating in various water features in the area. So the official verdict is that these homeless people must have gotten in somehow while drunk and accidentally drowned themselves. Or tried to bathe there and… somehow drowned themselves.”

 

“...People think these homeless people somehow drowned themselves in knee deep water?”

 

Hoseok shrugs.

 

Seokjin sighs, but then shakes his head. He shouldn't look so hard into this. Part of the reason why it's so easy to hide in plain side is really mostly humans’ insistence of explaining the ridiculous away with the mundane, no matter how ridiculous that mundane explanation might be.

 

Ironic.

 

Anyway:

 

“Odd.”

 

Hoseok shrugs, “yeah. You're right. It's odd, but the press hasn't come sniffing yet, even though the police are quite baffled.”

 

“Ah. So it's a legit police case, just that the public isn't concerned because people don't care about those who died.” Seokjin shook his head, “I also don't believe those offices would like this to be published anyway.”

 

“Mhmm. You ‘don't believe’, right.” Hoseok sighs, “but Byulyi-noona decided to contact Daniel-hyung anyway, because it looked like the cause would possibly supernatural. But we don't recognize the patterns.”

 

“I mean, you two always come here when that happens.” Seokjin stuffs two mandu into his mouth at once, too preoccupied with reaching for the evidence pictures to notice Yoongi rolling his eyes and muttering, “that is exactly what I meant when I said a change of clothes doesn't help much.”

 

But even Yoongi is soon preoccupied looking at the images. The case is rather curious after all. And drownings usually are the modus operandi of mermaids, but mermaids are saltwater creatures. You would be hard-pressed to find any in landlocked Seoul. 

 

After a long moment, Seokjin sighs, “I can't really think of any creature that would do this. Not off the top of my head. But you might be able to find out where the creature resides by testing the water sample in their stomachs. If it's possible.”

 

“Water samples?”

 

“Yeah. I seriously doubt that the drownings really occurred in all those different places. More likely the drownings happened in one place and then the bodies were moved to make it seem like they all drowned in different places.” Seokjin hums, “looks like we're dealing with someone very used to hiding.”

 

“Oh.” Hoseok blinks before he scratches his head, “why didn't I think about that? I'll tell Byulyi-noon— actually, she probably has already done that, but she wouldn't be able to tell me anything until the results are confirmed anyway.”

 

“Uhuh.” Seokjin nods, “if she can even narrow the results to a particular location, then we could get more clues as to what creature we're dealing with.”

 

“If we were to give you some water samples, do you think you could trace the source?”

 

“Not unless the source is Bakgusan’s secret lake.” Jin shakes his head, “the rest of the lakes in the area are pretty much devoid of any spiritual energy. And even then…”

 

“The acid from the victim’s stomachs might interfere.” Yoongi finishes, having come to the same conclusion. “So any scrying spell would end up pointing to either their dead bodies or places they frequented, or nowhere at all.”

 

Hoseok deflates a little, “ah I see. I guess we'll have to do a bit more investigation then.”

 

“Sorry I couldn't help much.” Seokjin says apologetically, still looking through the pictures, before he looks up. “But I'm surprised… This… Hobi, are you sure you're okay?”

 

After all, Hoseok's family had died in a boating accident. Or, at least, that had been what the media had called it, even if ‘murdered by mermaids’ had a bit more of a ring to it.

 

Hoseok looks back up with a wry smile. “Well, I will admit that it's not a case I would have preferred to take. But Daniel-hyung is busy… And well, I can't ask any of the others to take this up. So I'll just do it. And it's fine. No deep-water creatures as of yet. And when I have to investigate any large bodies of water, I'll just get Jae or Jeongguk to do it.”

 

“Mmm…” Seokjin eyes Hoseok a little longer before he nods. “As long as you're sure about this. I'll try to help you wherever I can.”

 

“Well, you have already sort of helped in the sense that now we know for sure it's probably some sort of super rare creature.” Hoseok grins, gathering up his stuff. “Anyway, I should probably go. You probably have a whole line of customers lining up outside.”

 

Seokjin looks up from the pictures and squints at the antique cuckoo clock on the wall, before he groans at how much time has passed. “Ugh. I think the masses are going to be annoyed even with all the patience charms I have hung up. Can I just… close for today. If we ignore them, they'll probably go away.”

 

Hoseok laughs then, and Seokjin can't help but smile in return. “Probably, but then you were the one who taught me about responsibility, hyung.”

 

“I taught you nothing of the sort. Daniel’s the one who taught you that. I'm the one who taught you how to blow the biggest bubbles in your hot chocolate.”

 

And Seokjin will never stop staring at the way Hoseok’s lips curl into a heart whenever he’s genuinely happy. It’d been sweet and adorable back when he'd been a child, and as a young adult, it's hella charming now. Especially when it's followed up by Hoseok leaning over the table for a hug. “Yeah, I guess I got it mixed up. See you, hyung. Call me if you think of anything?”

 

“Y-yeah… yeah.” And Yoongi almost thinks that Seokjin might have stopped breathing for a moment. “Yeah. I will.”

 

“Thanks.” And Hoseok pulls away after a moment, before going over to Yoongi and pulling him into a hug too. Yoongi sighs mentally, a wry smile on his face. “You don't need to give us goodbye hugs anymore, Hobi. You're a grown ass man now.”

 

And Hoseok laughs again as he pulls away. “Yeah, I know. But I like doing it. Bye, hyungdeul. See you when I see you!”

 

They both watch as Hoseok leaves, and they both sigh when the room feels a little duller and darker now that the other man has left. Seokjin places his chin atop both palms, staring wistfully at the back door where Hoseok had left from. “Ahhh… he's still my sunshine Hobi. He grew up so well.”

 

Yoongi shudders, “please don't say that. Especially not when you have a proper crush on him. It's weird enough that you watched him grow up, don't have to keep reminding us of it.”

 

Seokjin groans, “for the last time, I do not have a crush on him.”

 

“Keep telling yourself that.” Yoongi shakes his head, “come on. Get up. You have a whole crowd of impatient teenagers loitering at your doorstep.”

 

Seokjin groans, “fine, fine. I'm going.”

 

“You better hurry, or you won't be done by closing time~” Yoongi sings as he starts packing up the mandu from the table. They will probably have it for dinner later.

 

“And maybe you could actually help this time?” There's an odd hopeful note in Seokjin’s voice, even though he should really know his familiar by now.

 

“What do you take me for, Jin? Of course I'm not going to help. I have a reputation to uphold.”

 

Seokjin snorts, “yeah. As a grumpy, old house cat. I know.”

 

Yoongi doesn't even seem fazed, “that's right.”

 

“Just clean up the table then, you lazy ass. Why did I even get you as a familiar again?”

 

“I don't know? I've asked you that very question every day since you did, remember?”

 

“...Point.”

 

“And Jin?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Stop stalling and go reopen the shop.”

 

“I hate you.”

Chapter Text

Yoongi groans when he feels the tugging in his navel calling him to Seokjin's side. And after so many years, he barely registers the slight whooshing and feeling of displacement, opting to stay in his curled up position and continuing to doze. Hopefully, Seokjin would see him still sleepy, give him a soft smile and maybe stop whatever potion he’d been doing since last night to now, at ass o’clock in the morning, and go to sleep like he should have done about 4 hours ago.

 

But unfortunately, approximately 0.5 seconds after Yoongi is called, he's woken up by ear-splitting noise.

 

“Oh Hecate. Yoongi! Wake up! Get your lazy ass up for once! Hoseok’s been hurt!”

 

For a moment, that does send a thrill of worry down Yoongi's spine. And he actually gets up, eyes alert and body tense; and then he pauses, eyes narrowing. “Hurt… how exactly?”

 

“What do you mean how?” Seokjin practically wails as he rushes towards Yoongi, holding his phone out at the cat, who has to scoot back a little so that the phone won't smooth against his face. “His arm! There's a cut! Stupid vampires cut his arm… Oh my poor Hobi.”

 

Yoongi sighs, pushing the phone away with his paw. He figured it should have been something like this. “Okay, Seokjin. You had a long day, it's time to go to sleep.”

 

“Sleep! This is no time for sleep! Hobi got hurt!” Seokjin sobs big, big, ugly tears, and Yoongi squints at Seokjin before sighing again.

 

“Yeah. Ok. I got that. But he's probably already healed since it's been about 5 hours since the text got sent. And they still have that whole cargo of healing potions you send to them every month.” Yoongi gets up, padding over Seokjin's side and brushing up against the witch’s cheek. “So calm down, you're tired and probably high on potion fumes, and we'll get you to bed, alright?”

 

“But Hoseok… we need to make… make a potion…” Seokjin sniffles, and yep, there's that glazed look in his eyes. Had he been using poppy again? That idiot.

 

“No, we don't.” And then hands gently pry Seokjin from the table. “Okay, get up. We're going to bed.”

 

“No...” Seokjin whines, trying to shove his phone into Yoongi's face. “Hobi… my sweet Hobi is hurt.”

 

“Yah! Seriously…” Yoongi sighs, before grabbing Seokjin’s phone from his hand. “Give me that.”

 

Seokjin lunges at him to try to get the phone back of course, but Yoongi is far too used to this. He's almost business-like in the way he holds Seokjin back while he dials a number. And minutes later, he has the phone to his ear. “Yeah. Hi. Yeah. Sorry. Seokjin was working on a potion earlier and he just saw your message. And— yeah. Yeah. Probably was trying to work with poppy— Uhuh. Yeah. Can you talk to him?”

 

Seokjin whimpers a little when his phone is shoved into his face, squinted at the screen. Before his face brightens, recognizing the person on the screen. “Hobi?”

 

“Hey, hyung.” Hoseok still sounds bright and cheerful even if his voice is rough with sleep. “Sorry for worrying you. Look—” and the phone moves, showing Hoseok’s bandaged arm, and he peels the bandages back, revealing the shiny skin underneath. The cut is still there, but it's already healing — much faster than it should be actually. “Your potion helped loads. I think there won't even be a scar.”

 

Seokjin has definitely calmed down now, and he wipes away sleepy tears from his eyes. “O-oh… That's good. No scar is good.”

 

“Yeah, hyung. No scar is good.” Hoseok beams before he laughs, the sound like tinkling bells. “Now, you know I'm okay, do you think you could do me a favour and go to sleep? Let Yoongi-hyung help you to get to bed.”

 

“Oh… ok.” Seokjin nods before he squints at Hoseok. “Are you sure you're okay?”

 

“Yep. Right as rain, hyung.” Hoseok’s face is on screen again as he beams at Seokjin. “Now, be good and go to sleep, okay? Listen to Yoongi-hyung.”

 

Seokjin smiles sleepily in return, finally seeming to calm down. “Okay… sleep well, Hobi.”

 

“Sleep well, hyung.”

 

Seokjin seems to drop off after that, falling asleep as his head drops onto the table. And Yoongi sighs, turning the phone to face him. “Okay, he's calmed down. Thanks a lot, Hobi.”

 

“No problem, hyung.” Hoseok seems amused, pressing a hand to his mouth as he yawns. “You two always help us lots anyway. This is literally nothing.”

 

“Well, us helping you and Daniel is our prerogative.” Yoongi chuckles, “and in our interest to do so. Waking up at 4 am to calm down an irate, sleepy and slightly high Seokjin isn't really yours. Or rather, it doesn't affect you either way.”

 

“I guess… but I'd want to anyway.”

 

Yoongi chuckles a little in amusement, “I guess confronting Junho about his gang’s dinners showing up in the papers went as well as expected?”

 

“Yeah, well.” Hoseok chuckles, “considering we were very badly outnumbered, coming out with just a cut on the arm is considered a pretty good result. Even if there were— er… complications.”

 

“Complications?”

 

“Yeah, but it'll take a while to explain. It's late, and you'll probably hear about it in the morning in the group chat. But anyway,” Hoseok pauses, “why is Jin-hyung high?”

 

And Yoongi sighs, glancing over at the work table to see if his hunch was right. And he sees the bright red flowers and knows he is. “Ugh. He's trying to work with poppies again.”

 

“Poppies?”

 

“Yeah…” Yoongi sighs, “you know how it's his thing to create spells and charms and potions that are more potent without the need for strong magical power, yeah?”

 

“Uhuh?”

 

“Yeah, so poppies are a pretty strong medicinal herb. But they're always used in miniscule amounts because on its own it’s already powerful. But with magic it’s like on steroids. So most people just avoid using more because well, you want to heal people with your potion or spell, not. Kill them. Or get then addicted—”

 

“Addicted?” Hoseok interrupts in alarm. “Did Jin-hyung test his spells and potions on himself?”

 

“What? Oh. No, no. I'm the one who usually tests them. I'm a demonic spirit so it's not like things like this can affect me,” Yoongi chuckles. “If this is about how he got a bit high while experimenting, it's probably because he inhaled some dust while grinding the poppy seeds. And you know how he is about wearing face masks. After a while, it gets hot and he just takes them off. But anyway, poppy. It has the potential to be an ingredient to make stronger healing spells and potions, but most people don't dare dabble, so Seokjin's been trying for a good five years already to figure something out.”

 

“Ah. I see.” Hoseok hums, “well, if anyone can figure it out, it’d be hyung.”

 

And Yoongi glances at the softly slumbering Seokjin before he snorts, noticing that the witch was drooling in his sleep. “Yeah. His magical power isn't strong. But his resourcefulness and handling of ingredients is really amazing. Not that I'd ever tell him that. And you better not tell him I said that either. Got it, Hobi?

 

Hoseok's eyes crinkle, sparkling a little. “Yeah. Got it, hyung. Anyway, you should move Jin-hyung to a proper bed. And I got to sleep anyway. Long day tomorrow. There's a private booking at the restaurant.”

 

“Ahh… sorry for keeping you up.” Yoongi winces, shaking his head. “Go to sleep, Hobi.”

 

“I will. You sleep well, hyung.” And Hoseok lets out another yawn. “Night!”

 

“Goodnight.” And Yoongi waits for the hunter to hang up before lowering his phone and staring at the slumbering witch before him.

 

“There's probably no way you're gonna half wake up and help me move you to your room, huh?” Yoongi asks, as if expecting Seokjin to answer him. Obviously, there isn't any, other than a loud snore from the one being asked.

 

“Yeah… thought so.” Yoongi shakes his head as he walks out of the work room and into the adjoining room beside. It doesn't take long for him to emerge with a blanket and a pillow.

 

Seokjin doesn't stir, even when Yoongi shoves the pillow under his head a little too hard and he nearly falls off the bench. So covering him with the blanket certainly doesn't wake him either. And once he's done, Yoongi leaps back up onto the table, back in his cat form and curls up around his owner's head, wrapping his tail around Seokjin’s warm hand. And with a flick of his ears, the lights dim, easing them both into darkness.

 

~*~

 

And then, at around half an hour later, Jae shows up screaming something about how could Seokjin have sold actual holy water to the kid who’d thrown flour at him, and holy shit, does that mean Jae could have actually died? Yoongi squints a little at Jae before remembering that the kid who'd thrown flour at Jae is the same kid who is Seokjin’s regular nut job customer — the one who buys all their odd stock from the shop.

 

Seokjin is so exhausted that the racket doesn't even rouse him. And after a while, Yoongi kicks Jae out of the shop and locks the door behind him.

 

It's why, it's only the next morning that Seokjin learns through the group chat that his favourite little nut job customer had shown up during Hoseok, Jae and Jeongguk’s confrontation with the vampire gang who had been behind the Dongdaemun murders. Apparently, he and his friend had melted the face of one of the vampires there with holy water deduced to have been sourced from Seokjin's shop. And that , is the reason why Jae had shown up at the shop at 4.30 am in the morning with a minor breakdown. It'd finally occurred to him that Seokjin had been right; that the day Taehyung had thrown flour at him could have very well also been the day that Taehyung could have had melted his face right off.

 

This revelation also reveals to them that Taehyung has pretty much confirmed his suspicions on the existence of vampires, and that, quite likely he'd be on the hunt for evidence of more supernatural species.

 

Jae sounds a bit worried about this in his text, but Yoongi looks at Seokjin who looks back at Yoongi, and they both shrug.

 

Makes no difference to them either way.

 

~*~

 

Yoongi stares in mild exasperation. And he feels like morphing into a Siamese, only because their facial markings tend to make expressions more prominent. And judging.

 

“Yah. Seokjin. I think you're scaring him. Let go.”

 

Seokjin doesn't respond for a moment, still too wrapped up in all the emotions of relief at seeing one of his favourite customers safe and sound after being worried for a whole week. And Yoongi has to repeat himself three times before Seokjin hears, and he lets go with a sheepish smile. “Sorry, Seungkwan-ah. I was just so worried about you... I know you're just a customer, but you didn't say anything… and you're one of my favourites, so...”

 

Seungkwan looks a little dazed as he blinks at Seokjin. Yoongi thinks it's possibly from oxygen deprivation. “H-huh? Oh… I… I'm sorry. I just had something urgent that I couldn't come for a while.”

 

“A long while… But I figured.” Seokjin scratches his head sheepishly, “but I was still worried. I'm just glad you're alright. Sorry, if that seemed like an overreaction. Just humour an old man, okay?”

 

Seungkwan laughs a little, taking the old man comment as a joke — as most people do. Seokjin hasn't looked his age in a while. “Nah. I suppose I would have been worried too if I was in your position. I did kind of stopped coming without any indication.”

 

“No need to apologize.” Seokjin smiles, relief still clear on his face. “I’m sure it was unavoidable. And really, it was my own imagination acting up on me. Plus, there’ve been murders happening around the Dongdaemun area…”

 

“Ah! Don’t worry.” Seungkwan chuckles, simultaneously amused by Seokjin’s train of thought and yet he can’t really dispute where Seokjin is going with this. “I’m not living in the Dongdaemun area. Actually, I live in the area. Which was why I managed to get here so early the first time I visited the shop.”

 

That doesn’t ease Seokjin’s worry actually — not with the drownings that had happened a week ago. It definitely hadn't helped when Seungkwan had stopped coming right after Hoseok had visited the shop with the news of the drownings. But the public doesn't know about those, and so he can’t really tell Seungkwan about them. “Ahh… but still. Maybe I should get your full name. That way, at least if you appear in a news article or broadcast, at least I won’t be left hanging.”

 

Seungkwan shakes his head, amused, “Jin-hyung, that’s pretty morbid, even if it’s a joke. But, in any case, why don’t we just exchange phone numbers? I think we’re close enough for that. This way, I can text you whenever I’m not coming, so you don’t need to worry.”

 

“Ah… that’s true, that’s true.” Although, the full name would have been more helpful, since Seokjin could literally keep an eye on Seungkwan with it by scrying. But it wasn’t like he could say that outright either. “Why don’t you put your number in my phone? And I’ll text you?”

 

He hands his phone over to Seungkwan and hopes that the younger man would maybe save his contact under his full name.

 

But no such luck, even if Seokjin does get a chuckle out of the saved name when he gets his phone back. “‘The kwan for you’. Not bad, not that great, but not bad.”

 

“You have to forgive me, hyung.” Seungkwan grins back, “I’m not good at coming up with things on the spot.”

 

“Still pretty good effort.” It’d be too weird to ask Seungkwan his family name right now, especially not right after getting his number, and certainly not if he wasn’t willing to give his own (he didn’t just give his full name out to any person, even if he was sure they were fully and innocently human — that innocence and ignorance could mean they would give his name out to anyone who asked without even knowing what potential danger they’d have gotten Seokjin into). Well, he’d probably have to sneak the question to Seungkwan some other way then. “I’ll text you now?”

 

“Ah, just do it when you have more time. No rush.” Seungkwan waves his hand. “Anyway, I’m gonna buy my juice and then I gotta scoot. Got to prepare something for tonight.”

 

“Oh? Is it a date?” Seokjin teases, leaning against the counter, grinning when Seungkwan sighs, “if only. Nah, just some chore I have to do. Anyway, what do you have for me today?”

 

“Ah… no new juices for today, the special today is a recycled one from a few weeks ago. But… I do have a new joke for you. Actually… it’s ten puns. And I told them to another customer who came in before you did.”

 

“Oh? What happened?”

 

“Ah… well… I was hoping to make him laugh, but sadly, no pun in ten did.”

 

Seungkwan pauses for a while, running that through his head again before he bursts out laughing. “Oh. Oh my god, hyung. That’s…hah... that’s… hilarious.

 

Anddddd Seokjin is back in business. Puffing his chest out proudly, he continues once Seungkwan has somewhat calmed, “I know. But actually just being hilarious isn’t how I roll.”

 

Seungkwan sucks in a breath, “how do you roll then?”

 

“By tucking my knees into my chest and leaning forward. Duh.”

 

“By— Oh. OH. AHAHAHAHAHA. BUT OF COURSE!”

 

Yoongi, a small orange tabby today, sighs inaudibly as he is subjected to the aural torture. But after a moment, his gaze softens, watching how much happier Seokjin is now that he knows Seungkwan is safe and well enough to laugh at his bad jokes. And maybe, Yoongi will let it go — just for today.

 

“Ah… and you know, yesterday, I was just thinking about the sun. And then, I stayed up all night to try to figure out where it was.”

 

“Oh— wait! And then it dawned on you?”

 

“YES! AHAHAHAHA! YOU’RE SO SMART SEUNGKWAN!”

 

“HAHAHAHA! TH-AHAHAHA- THANK YOU!”

 

Or… not.

 

~*~

 

“Oh. Fuck.” It's nearly 10 pm, the shop is cleaned and prepped for tomorrow, Yoongi has already settled, very comfortably, onto Seokjin's lap, when the man curses and tries to get up, dumping the book onto the drawing table and sliding his reading glasses off his face. “Oh… Fuck.”

 

Yoongi yelps as he tumbles off, natural agility saving him from landing on his face. “Yah! What the fuck? What? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

 

“Shut up, Yoongi. I forgot to make Jeongguk’s healing potions for tomorrow. Tonight is a full moon.”

 

And Yoongi reigns in the more mean and hurtful comments on his tongue; because… Well. Jeongguk can't help being what he is, and those transformations would be a toll on anyone, let alone a sweet boy like Jeongguk, even if his body was less sweet boy and more lean killing machine. Yoongi was talking about personality here. But anyway, the demon still did let out a single, “why didn't you do it earlier”; because Yoongi always complained, even if it’s literally just to maintain the consistency of his always complaining.

 

Seokjin answers him even though they both know Yoongi doesn't need his question answered. “Because I forgot. Now, will you help me get the honey and some yarrow? Er… Wait no. Got the yarrow here already. Can you get me the usual teas then? And some cherry extract. Er… do we still have shea butter?”

 

“No. Ran out of that a couple of days ago.”

 

“Ugh. I guess it's grapeseed oil. Jeongguk won't try to keep these again, I hope.” Seokjin wrinkles his nose as he rearranges his desk, pushing some jars and flasks to the back while he pulls others to the front. “Shit. Where's my grinder and my pounder?”

 

“Downstairs. I was cleaning it out. It was still covered in poppy seed powder.” Yoongi sighs as he walks back in his human form, the things Seokjin had requested gathered in his arms. “I'll get that next.”

 

Seokjin acknowledges Yoongi with a grunt, already setting out the bowls and bottles that he'll need — he's done this so many times, ever since Daniel had saved Jeongguk from the attack that had killed the young man’s family and then some.

 

They go through the motions almost on autopilot; chop the yarrow and mince it in a grinder, mix it with the honey, prepare the ginseng for the second potion, distill the grapeseed oil for the third, it's been about five minutes so time to add the yarrow and honey to the cauldron, and stir continuously. Yoongi stares at the cauldron, even as he takes the snow fungus out if the pack, dropping them into a bowl of ice cold water.

 

And then, halfway, while Seokjin has to stir the cauldron eight times counterclockwise, after he's added a smidgen of ground poppy to the mixture, the Super Mario theme rings out from his pocket, and Seokjin lets out a groan.

 

“Who's calling so late?” He grumbles, reaching into his pocket, and answers without seeing the caller ID, sticking the phone between his shoulder and ear, and continuing to stir. “Yeah?”

 

Yoongi can tell immediately from the change of tone in Seokjin’s voice that the person calling is Hoseok, even though he doesn't say the name. “Oh… oh. Hello. Yea? What's up. It's pretty late.”

 

A pause. “Huh? What am I— oh I kind of forgot that tonight is the full moon. So I haven't made Jeongguk’s stuff yet. And I— wait. Is he okay? Oh no, did something happen?”

 

Yoongi helps, dashing forward to catch Seokjin’s hand as it nearly stirs the mixture for a ninth time, which would have been disastrous, and possibly would have released a gas that would have knocked them both out cold in an instant, especially with the magic Seokjin is now leaking in his sudden burst of worry.

 

“Oh? Oh. He's fine? Ok— yeah I know what you mean by fine. That's good. Relatively. So… why did you call?”

 

Another pause, even as Yoongi takes over the mixture, taking ladle and pouring three modest scoops into a small mixing bowl with three sprigs of lavender in it. “Oh… oh dear. Another one? That's not great… huh? But isn't Daniel in Suwon? Then… what, you're planning to leave Jae alone with Jeongguk? Are you sure that's a good idea?”

 

Yoongi looks up with a frown, exchanging a look with Seokjin. The witch pauses before he shakes his head. “Frankly, I don't even like that Daniel had to leave. The drownings can wait. And Byulyi and Yongsun have worked with us long enough to know what to look out for.”

 

“...Yeah. I know. I haven't thought of anything. But you confirmed the water is from the same source, yeah? ...I don't know. But it's definitely not a mermaid. I'm pretty sure. Reached out to an old friend of mine and she said that she would just have dumped them into the sewers where no one would have discovered them, since that's the closest thing the city would have to water depths—”

 

A pause and an apologetic wince. “Sorry, Hobi. Yeah. Didn't need to go into detail. But anyway, the point is we aren't dealing with someone who is as vicious— yeah. Well, whoever it is, they're smart enough to not leave a trial, but leaving the bodies to be discovered like this… there's some human compassion there. So… either it's part of their instincts, or this creature has been living around humans long enough to pick up some human morals.”

 

A pause, then Seokjin snorts. “Yeah, I know it'd be better if the morals translated just into ‘not killing’, but you know as well as I do that the instincts of supernatural can be weirdly idiosyncratic.”

 

Another pause, “yeah. Okay. Anyway, good luck with Jeongguk. Tell him I'll have his potions ready by tomorrow. And that he better not skimp on the first dosage. You guys still have stocks of those right? Oh— also you need to come by soon. I have a new batch of wolfsbane extract for you and Daniel… yeah. Or should I ask Jeongguk to help you bring it back?”

 

And Seokjin laughs even as Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Yeah. Yeah. I'll tell you how he responds. Okay. Yeah. Good luck staying awake. You have all my charms right? Okay. Good night, Hobi-yah.”

 

Yoongi waits until Seokjin is off the phone before hand him the ginger to add to the cauldron. “I won't ask who that was… but so another drowning happened.”

 

“Uhuh.” Seokjin sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Which just makes it all the more confusing. This creature, whoever they are, definitely has been around humans for a while. There's no archaic timing to the killing, or any sort of discernable pattern I can think of. So it's quite likely it's because they realized Daniel or Hoseok was looking for them, stopped to lay low, and then started again when it seemed safe.”

 

“Eh... There could still be a pattern. He's only killed for a week and then stopped. We'll need to see how the drownings happen through this week before we can say for sure.”

 

“The point is to try to prevent any more drownings,” Seokjin says dryly. “But I suppose you're right. Maybe I should ask Yongsun the days on which each body was found and the time of death if she has them. See if there's any deeper pattern to it than we thought.”

 

“Should have done it earlier.” But then, they'd all been more distracted by the vampire killings, and then keeping an eye out for Junho’s gang once they’d realized the culprits. “Ahhh… why are things so busy nowadays?”

 

“Because we've filled our days with things to do, and people to care about.” Seokjin smiles, “and it beats lazing around with nothing and no one around to entertain us, and keep away the thoughts about how we've lived far too long, and wondering if maybe this should be the day it ends.”

 

Yoongi blinks before he huffs pausing in his grinding of ginko nuts to give Seokjin a look, “that turned morbid really quickly.”

 

“Mmm… must come with age.” Seokjin laughs, “but no worries, even if I were to stop…. doing this, and isolate myself like some of the others have done… I still have you, don't I?”

 

“You'll always have me.” Is Yoongi’s curt reply, and because things have gotten a little too morose, he adds, so that he can see the smile that he knows will come from his words: “so don't think such morbid thoughts and add the aniseed to this mixture, Seokjin. We don't have all night.”

 

~*~

 

“So how many people have told you that you look like shit today?”

 

Jeongguk sighs, rubbing his face as he stares balefully at Seokjin. “I don't know. Do you count?”

 

“No, I doesn't. I was asking after the people who told you and not making any sort of comments on your wonderful visage.”

 

“Well then, everyone in the family told me that same thing, even if Haru didn't use those exact words, so I'm not sure if she counts.” Jeongguk pauses, “and then... two of my lecturers, a trio of overbearing classmates, and Jae at least ten times. So how many people does that make?”

 

“Dunno. But add one more person to it, because, well.” Seokjin lets a moment pass for dramatic pause, “you look like shit.”

 

And Jeongguk rolls his eyes, letting out a sigh. “And… saw that coming a mile away. Not funny, Jin-hyung.”

 

“And you have the personality of a stone, Jeon Jeongguk.” Seokjin sniffles, clutching at his chest like the organ contained within actually hurt. “That was funny. Look, even Yoongi is laughing.”

 

To Seokjin's credit, Yoongi did look kind of amused, his tail waving languidly in the air. But Jeongguk only eyes the gray Scottish Fold with a look dryer than the Sahara. “Pretty sure he's just amused at my misery.”

 

“He is, but he's also amused at the joke.”

 

“Sure, hyung.”

 

Seokjin shakes his head, before turning to look at Yoongi, disappointment deep in his voice. “A stone. A stone, I tell you. Not even a bit if a smile. Or a laugh. You'd be healthier if you laughed a bit more, Jeon Jeongguk.”

 

“Contrary to popular belief, laughter isn't actually medicine, let alone the best.”

 

“Obviously laughter alone won't do anything. But it's a key ingredient in some of the most effective healing potions I know.”

 

Jeongguk looks skeptical now. “Really.”

 

“Are you questioning the best witch in Korea?”

 

“You're literally only the best because there's only three witches in Korea, barring Seo Taiji.”

 

“Hey, I worked hard for that title,” Seokjin sniffles, “but honestly, laughter is a very effective ingredient. In fact, currently I use Jae’s video where he gets covered in flour by Taehyung to induce the best quality laughter out of me.”

 

That is what finally cracks Jeongguk’s affected mask, and his eyes crinkle up, his normally stone faced expression softening. Seokjin can't help but squeal a little, reaching over the counter to pull Jeongguk into a warm hug and to ruffle his hair. And Jeongguk doesn't pull away, only letting out a soft giggle. Seokjin knows Jeongguk never really means the mean things he says, knows that he's come enjoy the warmth and hugs and kisses that come as a part of growing up in Daniel’s motley family. Knows that Jeongguk enjoys affection really, just never lets himself have it; and the act he puts up with Seokjin is just that — a thing that they do: Jeongguk seeing how far he can last until Seokjin can get him to break the facade to show the smile that he's had on since stepping inside.

 

“There we go. See… actually, hmm. I think smiles and laughter even has anti-ageing properties.” Seokjin taps his chin as he stares at Jeongguk's face, “yep. You look less than a thirty year old with a stick up your ass now.”

 

“Ok. No. That doesn't work.”

 

“Oh. Sorry. Too far?”

 

“No, no. As in not funny. Are we done? Can I get my potions sometime today?’

 

Seokjin groans, “is that all I'm getting? After all my hard work, this is all I get—”

 

And suddenly Yoongi pauses, sitting up. “Oh. We have… an interesting visitor.”

 

Seokjin pauses even as his eyebrow raises, looking towards the door. Jeongguk has been here enough to know what the reaction means.

 

“What? Is someone coming?’ Jeongguk asks, but gets the answer in an annoyingly cryptic raised eyebrow and a smirk, before Seokjin schools his features into his polite shopkeeper face, turning towards the door just as it opens.

 

He spots Jeongguk’s little twitch of surprise when the customer fully steps in and the young man realizes that he recognizes who it is. Seokjin allows himself one more flicker of amusement before he calls out in an entirely professional voice: “oh, if it isn't one of my favourite customers.”

 

Okay, from the way Jeongguk is side-eyeing him subtly, maybe Seokjin hadn't managed to keep his tone entirely professional. But hey, why shouldn't Seokjin be excited? This is Jeongguk’s chance to maybe stop being such an overly cautious idiot about letting other people into his life. And oh— Seokjin knows about Taehyung’s obvious crush on Jeongguk, having happened to scry on Taehyung during a very interesting moment about five years ago. And although Taehyung professed pretty often to hate Jeongguk's guts nowadays, there's no mistaking the elevated heartbeat, or the way the tips of his ears turn slightly pink as he stares at Jeongguk right now.

 

Or the way he stutters. And Seokjin wishes for a way to maybe poke Jeongguk inconspicuously, to stop him keeping up that annoyingly blank face. Seriously, as much as Daniel had done a good job raising him, apparently the good manners to show a reaction when someone was being this cute in front of you had never gotten imparted to him.

 

Taehyung is rambling something about him hoping Jeongguk hasn't gotten the plague, and finally, Jeongguk replies. It's a curt reply; but at least it's a reply nevertheless. “I’m fine, Kim. Just… caught a bug going around.”

 

“Yah. You should go.” And Seokjin's eyes flit over to Yoongi for a moment. “Nothing's going to happen while you're standing there. Leave them alone so they can talk to each other.”

 

Shit. Yoongi is right. He'd been hoping to witness this conversation in person, but he supposes he'd have to resort to plan B.

 

And part one of plan B is getting himself smoothly out of the way, “Are you looking for anything, Taehyung?”

 

“Uh… no. Just browsing.”

 

Excellent. “I'll be in the back, Jeongguk.” And with that, he heads behind the counter to leave, footsteps calm and composed and gracious as his shopkeeper persona has come to be known for.

 

Except, the moment Seokjin is out of sight, the witch immediately breaks his facade, and he nearly trips over himself multiple times trying to get up the stairs as fast as he can.

 

Thankfully, he already has his scrying ball set up from last night, a little hastily because both Yoongi and him had forgotten about the full moon last night. But they always did this after they finished making Jeongguk's potions; in the case that Jeongguk ever broke free or didn't make it back to the restaurant in time, then there’d be some way to track him.

 

And well, Seokjin probably is abusing this particularly tool, and possibly breaking all the privacy laws. But really, this is no difference than pressing his ear against the door to eavesdrop right?

 

Quickly, Seokjin slides into the seat in front of the ball, and nearly disables some of the carefully set up charms in his haste. He focuses his magic, feeding them into the charms and ball before saying a simple, “show me Jeon Jeongguk,” and smiling when the image of the young man’s visage shows up within the ball. It's not perfect, the crystal ball a little too focused on his face and not anything else, and the sound is a little too echoey — but those are the consequences of the barebone charms and short invocation phrase that Seokjin has simplified from the normally much more complicated and tedious set-up.

 

In any case, it's more than enough to overhear their conversation, even if all Seokjin can stare at is the center of Jeongguk's nose — made even larger by the curve of the ball.

 

Taehyung is in the middle of some kind of rant right now. Something about samgyetang from some place at their university campus. Seokjin picks up something about unicorn jizz, and if that is really the case, then Seokjin would totally want to meet this ajumma of the hole in the wall on campus, because, holy shit, anything unicorn is super rare and highly valuable. Not just because unicorns were highly magical and very good at hiding, but also because they were terribly vicious creatures, and you were more likely to get gored by their shiny multicoloured horns than to get remotely close enough to get stuff like hair, let alone reproductive fluid. But Seokjin also refuses to get any of the one or two unicorn products that he sometimes comes across, because they're usually horns or hooves and seriously, anyone who has a medicorum of knowledge would know that unicorns carry their dead over into the other plane and wouldn't leave a dead body lying around for someone to harvest parts off, and so how else would someone come across those parts other than to be fucking murderers. Seokjin is very proud to have been the whistleblower to shut down many illegal harvesting rings actually.

 

But anyway, huge tangent divergence there, and Taehyung probably was talking out of his ass, and Seokjin needs to focus because oh… it looks like Jeongguk is actually smiling at Taehyung for once, and maybe… just maybe, it is the start of something new, High School Musical reference fully intentional.

 

Doesn't help that his scrying ball is made up of pink glass, so it gives Jeongguk's face this soft, romantic glow. And maybe, Seokjin should change his scrying ball, but it really isn't his fault that the proper clear one he’d order doesn't work with his bastardized version of scrying as well as this one he'd gotten one day on a whim, just for shits and giggles.

 

Sadly, the conversation doesn't last for very long after that, and there’s the sound of shuffling as Taehyung mumbles, “I’ll uh, get going. Say hi to Jin for me.”

 

Jeongguk look of confusion is only magnified on the scrying ball. “...Alright. Not buying anything?”

 

“No, uh, he doesn’t have what I was looking for.” And Seokjin lets out a small snort at that obvious lie. How would Taehyung know if Seokjin didn't have what he's looking for if he's only been talking to Jeongguk this whole time? “See you in class, Jeon!”

 

Jeongguk's face is still set in confusion after there's the sound of the door slamming shut.  But then, it shifts at the sound of Yoongi’s voice. “Looks like someone has a crush on you.”

 

And Seokjin has to hold back the snort at Jeongguk's dumbfounded look. “What?”

 

“That guy, our crazy little conspiracy theorist customer. He has a crush on you.”

 

“Kim Taehyung?” Jeongguk’s eyebrow raises, “you've been going at the catnip again, haven't you? That guy hates me.”

 

"I'm not an actual cat, Jeongguk. Catnip does nothing to me. And what makes you say that?”

 

“He's always glaring at me. Don't know why. Don't care.” Seokjin shakes his head — this is typical Jeongguk behaviour. “Besides, he seemed pretty angry about me lying about Jae not being a vampire that time.”

 

“Most people are usually angry when they find out they've been lied to.” Yoongi's voice is still coolly amused as ever. “But I guess you are cute enough to forgive.”

 

Jeongguk rolls his eyes, before gesturing at himself. “Which part of this is cute?”

 

“Not sure, but it's probably the part that has Seokjin squealing and hugging you and ruffling your hair whenever you smile.”

 

Jeongguk frowns, before shaking his head. “You’re all weird. Anyway, I still feel like shit. Where's Jin-hyung? I just want to get my potions, go home and curl up, and maybe I won't feel so shitty when I go for my evening class tonight.”

 

“You should just skip class really.” Yoongi sighs, before the inevitable, “Seokjin is probably upstairs, eavesdropping in you with that scrying ball of his.”

 

But still; traitor.

 

Obviously, by the time Jeongguk and Yoongi climb upstair, Seokjin has disabled all the spells powering the scrying ball. It doesn’t stop Jeongguk from eyeing the set up on the table when he hits the landing. He looks at Seokjin, who is too casually leaning against his work table, drinking what smells like a cup of excellent Earl Grey. “Are you going to pretend that you weren't eavesdropping the whole time?”

 

Seokjin raises a delicate eyebrow, “I don't know. If I don't pretend, does that mean you want to talk about Kim Taehyung and how he has a huge crush on you?”

 

Jeongguk has a look on his face that looks like someone has punched him in the gut. “Can you two quit it? He doesn't have a crush on me.”

 

“Funny. That's not what it seemed like when he was rambling and blushing earlier.”

 

“I already told Yoongi, he hates me.”

 

“He only hates you because you did something to him that made him think that you're an asshole.” Seokjin snorts, “once that's cleared up, trust me, he's going to have no reservations crushing on you.”

 

“What? I didn't do anything! I've barely even interacted with him all these years.”

 

“Oh… Trust me. You did do something to break his poor little heart, all those many years ago. I saw it. And man…” Seokjin sighs, putting his hand over his heart. “He looked so crushed.”

 

Jeongguk looks mildly disturbed now. “How do you even know that? Were you spying on me?”

 

“Oh. Don't flatter yourself. I was just checking on Taehyung after he bought something a little bit dangerous from me.” Seokjin snorts, continuing to sip his tea, “which I didn't realize he was going to do what he did. Otherwise, I wouldn't have sold it to him.”

 

Jeongguk has pretty much given up getting a straight answer from Seokjin at his point. And he goes over to the work table where the potions for him are laid out before he pauses, glancing around for a bag to put them in. “Seriously, why did you even sell him anything? And told him the things you did? You should have discouraged him, stopped him from looking for evidence.”

 

Seokjin chuckles, making absolutely no move to help. “He was going to go out hunting for evidence whatever I did. At least this way I can keep an eye on him and sell him legitimate items that can protect him.”

 

Jeongguk sighs, spotting a woven basket that he could use and moving to bring it over. “That idiot is going to get himself killed.”

 

“Possibly,” Seokjin nods, “but he'd be less likely to be if he had accurate information.”

 

Jeongguk eyes Seokjin as he begins to put the potions into the basket. “Are you saying that you think we should tell him more?”

 

“I'm just saying that he's most likely going to do something rash to find out more on his own if we don't tell him.” Seokjin points out, finally finishing his tea and moving over to the small sink in the corner to wash it. “It's not like he won't find out more on his own. That boy is smart.”

 

Jeongguk scowls, straightening as he picks the basket up, sliding it onto the crook of his arm. “Well, I just think that's a terrible idea.”

 

“Why?” Seokjin raises an eyebrow, “are you worried that he'll become scared of you if he finds out that you're a werewolf?”

 

There's a loud bang that makes Seokjin and Yoongi both jump a little. And Jeongguk sucks in a deep breath before he lifts the hand he'd slammed down on the table, running it through sweat-laden bangs. He looks sick and tired, and oops, maybe Seokjin should have left off the teasing for another day. Then, after a moment he sighs, muttering, “sorry. Just… he should be scared of me.”

 

Seokjin gaze turns serious as he steps closer, gently picking Jeongguk’s arm up and pulling the young man’s sleeves up to reveal the edge of a scar. “You can't help what happens on the full moon, Jeongguk.” Tenderly, he traces the raised skin with his finger. “But this doesn't make you a monster.”

 

“I become a horrible creature who kills anyone in sight, unable to distinguish between friend or foe,” Jeongguk whispers, not looking at Seokjin. “If I wasn't locked away, I’d kill the people who raised me, who showed me kindness, without a second thought. If that's not a monster, I don't know what is.”

 

Seokjin snorts at that, “to be honest, that's exactly what a predator animal like a bear or a lion would do. And they're just beasts, not monsters. So you turn into a dumb mutt every full moon, we know. And we know how to deal with it. You're not as dangerous as you think, little pup.”

 

Jeongguk lets out a little huff, but there's a small smile on his face now, even as, after a while, he leans into Seokjin for a hug. “If you say so, hyung.”

 

“I do, say so.” Seokjin insists, but he can tell that Jeongguk doesn't believe him, even as the young man steps away.

 

“Well, I gotta go, Jin-hyung. See you the next time I see you.”

 

“Mmm… Tell Hoseok he needs to come over to pick up his new batch of Wolfsbane extract soon, okay?”

 

Jeongguk raises an eyebrow, pausing as he starts to go down the stairs. “Not going to ask me to courier them for you?”

 

“Nah.” Seokjin grins and winks, “think I've teased you enough for today.”

 

Jeongguk actually laughs at that, and it makes Seokjin feel a little less guilty, even as he finally leaves, leaving Seokjin and Yoongi alone in the witch’s work room.

 

Yoongi looks up from examining his nails. “The boy’s still afraid to let other people in.”

 

“Well, can't really blame him.” Seokjin sighs, “from what Daniel says, it wasn't like he's particularly a social butterfly in the first place. And having a secret like this really kills all motivation for any sort of social interaction.”

 

“Mmm… was hard enough to get him out of his shell around us,” Yoongi recalls.

 

“Mhmn… I was just hoping that Taehyung might be able to overcome that wall.” Seokjin sighs, “Jeongguk deserves a chance at being happy.”

 

“Definitely, but I think… that maybe you shouldn't meddle so much.”

 

“Is that a lecture?” Seokjin squints at Yoongi, “is the familiar actually telling the master what to do?”

 

“Oh, I wouldn't dare.” Yoongi says coolly, as if he doesn't criticize or lecture Seokjin about something or another every other moment, even if not out loud. “I just think that those two will just work out fine on their own.”

 

“Are you doing predictions now, Mystic Min?” Seokjin snorts as he goes down the stairs, and Yoongi follows, form shrinking down to that of a Russian Blue. “But you're right; enough meddling for today. Let's get back to work.”




Chapter Text

“You know,” Seokjin chuckles a little as he leans onto the railing, watching the rather welcoming sight before him, “when I told Jeongguk to remind you to come over soon to get your wolfsbane extract, I didn't expect it to be this soon.”

 

Hoseok looks up from placing down the last plate of banchan that he must have brought from the restaurant and smiles. “Morning, Jin-hyung. Did you have a good nap?”

 

“Very good.” Seokjin smiles back from where he's standing, and then blinks when Yoongi comes into view, carrying three bowls of rice. “You're up earlier than I am.”

 

Yoongi shrugs, “the food smelled good.”

 

Seokjin blinks again, but the surprise slowly melts back into a smile after a moment. “It does, doesn't it?”

 

“So, then come down here and join us?” Hoseok laughs, and it's such a pleasant sound to hear that Seokjin selfishly wishes for a moment that he could wake up everyday listening to it. “You aren't going to get food standing on the landing.”

 

“That is true.” Seokjin laughs in return, before finally coming down and joining the two for breakfast.

 

~*~

 

It's while they're in the middle of eating that Seokjin finally breaks the dreamy, relaxed atmosphere they're in. “So… what did you want to ask me?”

 

Hoseok pauses mid-bite. “What? Can't I come over just to eat breakfast with my favourite Jin-hyung?”

 

Even if Hoseok isn't so bad at lying, his facial expression always giving him away, Seokjin knows; he knows that the young hunter is far too busy with the restaurant and his foster siblings in addition to hunting and training. It'd be hard to believe he'd so frivolously use his time to visit Seokjin just to have a meal and collect the wolfsbane extract. So, he must have at least one extra reason to justify his staying here rather than just ducking in and then ducking out.

 

Hoseok pouts, but he sighs, reaching into his pocket and pulling out what looks like a bunch of photographs. “One day, I'll come over here for the sole purpose of having a meal.”

 

“I look forward to that day then,” Seokjin smiles, even as he pulls his glasses out from his pocket and perches them on his nose — too early for eyesight charms right now. “Well… this is charming. Breakfast while perusing images of drowned bodies.”

 

“Yeah. Two more cropped up yesterday.” Hoseok sighs, rubbing his face. “The police have already classed this under a serial killer. Byulyi and Yongsun have been able to keep it away from media attention so far, but a couple more and the media circus are going to come into town.”

 

“Putting pressure on me like that isn't going to make me think better Hoseok.” And the smile Seokjin gives the hunter is slightly chiding, “but anyway, at this point, I'd safely say this is a very rare sort of creature, if it is even one of our kind.”

 

“You think it might be a human doing this?”

 

“If all other logical explanations fail, why not?” Seokjin chews on his lower lip, the skin chapped from all the worrying he's done. “Although, we also can't rule out one of our kind maybe mimicking the behaviours of something else.”

 

“But at that point, it could be anyone or anything.” Hoseok groans, scrubbing at his face with his hands. “Ugh. Sorry. I know this isn't your fault, but it's just so goddamn frustrating. And yeah, I said I was fine when I first took this case, but nearly one month of staring at drowned bodies is getting to me.”

 

“I know,” and it's a tone that betrays some of the defeat that Seokjin feels. “And I'm sorry… I've tried Hobi. I tried mapping out the drownings and everything, there's no correlation to moon cycles or seasons moving or dates or numbers, but there seems to be a pattern, just that we don't have the key to breaking it. I don't really want you working on this anymore… And I tried… but...I'm just so sorry.”

 

“Hey.” And Seokjin blinks when a gentle hand curls up around his wrists. “No need for you to get stressed too. You've been a great help already.”

 

Seokjin looks up at Hoseok, lips curling into a tired smile. “Yeah… I guess. But I wish I could help more.”

 

“And I wish I could laze in bed the whole day instead of staring at pictures of drownings, but we don't always get what we want.” Hoseok jokes, before looking over at Yoongi. “Maybe I should trade places with Yoongi-hyung for a day.”

 

Yoongi raises an eyebrow, eyes lifting from how he'd been staring at the pictures from his seat. His pose affects unconcern, but Seokjin knows he’s just as frustrated with how he too can't think of anything that would help solve the mystery of these drownings. “Well, Seokjin could set you up with a transformation charm for a day. But I don't guarantee that I won't accidentally burn your restaurant down while pretending to be you.”

 

“Urk, I guess that's out. Hyejung-noona would murder me.” Hoseok sighs regretfully. “Speaking of Hyejung-noona… I have a delivery in half an hour, so I gotta head back.”

 

“Ah well.” Seokjin tries not to let the disappointment show on his face. “Busy as usual. I'm glad you made the time to come by.”

 

“I wanted to anyway,” Hoseok pauses in the middle of packing to give Seokjin a hug, “I don't see the two of you enough. I wish the two of you could come to the restaurant more.”

 

Yoongi and Seokjin share a glance, even as Seokjin lets out a sigh, “wish we could too. But you know how it is.”

 

“Yeah.” Hoseok sighs, “I know.”

 

Except, he doesn't. Well… yes; he does. He knows, certainly, that Seokjin is tied to the shop, and he knows, that both Seokjin and Yoongi are reluctant to leave the shop for an extended period time because of this. But he doesn't really understand.

 

Then again, the mechanics of tying yourself to a piece of land to draw power from it have never been well documented. A lot of things are just inherently understood in the form of a gut feeling that you'd be fucked if you ever tried to attempt something that is forbidden. And safe to say, although they both can leave, neither are very comfortable doing it, especially when it's more than one district over. The shop is as much them as they themselves are, and if something were to happen to it…

 

But Seokjin just nods, patting Hoseok on the back. “Have a good day. Ride safely.”

 

“You know I will.” Hoseok beams, before reaching over and giving Yoongi a hug too. “Bye, Yoongi-hyung. Take care of Jin-hyung, okay?”

 

“That's literally the point of my entire existence as a familiar?” Yoongi says around nibbling on a piece of fish. “Get going, you rascal. Take care of yourself and leave taking care of Jin to me.”

 

The place is quiet when Hoseok leaves, finally chased off by Seokjin when the hunter tries to stay a little longer by trying to help clean the dishes. And then, they do actually do the dishes. Seokjin scrubs at the plates while Yoongi rinses and wipes. They work in silence for a moment, only the sound of water and dishes clinking filling the air.

 

“Do you think,” Seokjin asks, entirely without preamble. “That it would have been better if I didn't tie myself to this shop?”

 

“Better in what sense?” Yoongi doesn't pause, continue to rinse the dish in his hand. “In that you'd see the rest more often?”

 

“I guess?”

 

Yoongi snorts, “Seokjin, if you weren't tied down here you'd get antsy and start travelling after a few months. That's what your teacher is doing now. That's what you were doing before you settled down here. So if you weren't tied down you'd definitely see them way less than you do right now.”

 

Seokjin blinks before he flushes sheepishly. “That's true. It’s been a while. I've sort of lost track of time haven't I?”

 

“You've never been very good at keeping track actually.” Yoongi shakes his head in amusement. “Come on, get moving. We're late opening the shop already.”

 

“Huh? What? Oh shit, is that the time?”

 

“Case. Point.”

 

“...Oh, shut up.”

 

~*~

 

It's more than halfway through the day when all three of them (Seokjin, Yoongi and Hoseok, that is) realize that Hoseok had forgotten to take the new batch of wolfsbane extract that he’d come for in the first place.

 

And it's while Seokjin has finished a series of joking texts that ends with Hoseok saying that he's nearby doing a delivery and will come over once that's done, that Seungkwan comes in, bright smile on his face as per usual, looking ready to engage in an exchange of really bad puns with Seokjin. “Evening, Jin-hyung!”

 

“Well, you're in a good mood today.” Seokjin grins as he drops his phone back into the pockets of his apron. “Got some good puns up your sleeve?”

 

“As a matter of fact…” Seungkwan grins way too gleefully as he reaches into his sleeves and pulls out two handfuls of colorful pieces of paper. “I do!”

 

And it takes Seokjin a moment to realize that the word ‘pun' is scribble all over the pieces of paper scrunched up in Seungkwan's hands. But once he does, it's five minutes before he stops having a problem actually breathing.

 

“Ahhh…” Seokjin sighs, tortured whimpers still escaping him as he rubs his hand over his chest, trying to ease the muscles still seizing from his over-enthusiastic laughing. “Seungkwan… You… you really outdid yourself… I can't… that was too… hah…”

 

“I know, I know.” Seungkwan is still grinning, even as he gathers the pieces of paper, stuffing them into his pockets. “That was genius defined, you're welcome.”

 

“I don't think I'll ever be able to tell a pun again,” Seokjin admits, ignoring Yoongi's incredulous, “I wish.” “That was too good. So good, I think you need to be pun-ished.”

 

Seungkwan pauses, and Seokjin grins, still ignoring Yoongi's declarations of physical pain. “Oh? Am I about to receive a pun-alty?”

 

“Oh, you bet your two back puns that you will.”

 

Okay, even Seokjin will admit that last one is kind of really terrible.

 

But it's too late to stop anything, because war had been declared, and the two of them start firing puns at each other like two duelists at the showdown of the century, dancing around each other with all out attacks, no time to defend, except instead of swords or fists, their chosen weapon of choice is the almighty pun.

 

They go on for a good few minutes, and all the way, Yoongi is complaining loudly, paws over his flattened ears, and Seokjin would say that he should have won because that's a handicap right there. But he is gracious, and when the dust settles, the both of them panting hard (from having laughed so much in between bouts), he says, “I suppose we can declare this a tie.”

 

Seungkwan pauses before he nods, letting out a small laugh of relief. “Thank Bereginia, I was almost all punned out.”

 

“Mmm…” and Seokjin nearly misses the strange phrase in the middle of his recovering, but when he does, he has to ask. “Bereginia? Like… The Slavic tutelary deity of waters and riverbanks Bereginia?”

 

There's only a slight pause before Seungkwan scratches his head sheepishly. “Ah, yeah. I thought it would be cool to use obscure deities names to curse rather than to just use the generic word ‘god' all the time.”

 

“Ah. Right.” With all his old man jokes, Seokjin forgets that Seungkwan is still a hipster at the root of it, dressed in his super expensive branded hobo outfits, buying Seokjin’s juice everyday because it's the latest internet fad. “Just be careful who you call on, and don't call on anyone you definitely wouldn't want answering.”

 

“Er… sure…?”

 

“Anyway,” Seokjin turns to pull out a bottle of juice from under the counter. “Since you were so wonderful today, I think this calls for a treat.”

 

Seungkwan kind of stares at the juice bottle for the longest moment before it kind of clicks to him what Seokjin is talking about. “A-ah? Oh no. I couldn't—”

 

“You can, and you will.” Seokjin smiles, “you are a little late today, so I actually saved this bottle of juice for you. It's today’s special: ‘You're Grape, You're One in a Melon’. A grape and watermelon mix, it has lots of vitamin C and is really cooling on a hot day like today.”

 

Seungkwan looks like he's nearly going to cry when he steps forward to take the bottle. As it is, his eyes are definitely watery, enough for Seokjin to reach out and ruffle Seungkwan’s hair. “Yah… What are you crying for? It's just a bottle of juice.”

 

“I know… I just…” Seungkwan sniffles, “it's just one of the nicer things anyone has ever done for me.”

 

“Well, then you haven't been meeting with very many good people.” Seokjin chuckles.

 

“Nah… I have. Just. They were all back in Jeju-do. Seoul people aren't as nice, always rushing here and there.” Seungkwan rubs the heel of his palm against his eyes. “I suppose a more accurate thing to say is that you made me a bit homesick.”

 

“Ahhh… I understand.” The smile that Seokjin is giving Seungkwan turns sympathetic. “Must be tough.”

 

“Ah. Are you from Seoul?”

 

“Gwacheon. But that's not that far from here,” Seokjin says apologetically. “But I understand because I've travelled around quite a bit, and people in the provinces are definitely much nicer, slower paced.”

 

“Well, maybe all that time out there made you a nicer person,” Seungkwan jokes; but Seokjin shakes his head.

 

“Not that nice maybe...  Because, actually, this is a bit of an apology. I've realized it's sort of slipped my mind to tell you that you can actually bring your old bottles back to get a refill of juice to get 10% off your purchase.”

 

“Ah.” Seungkwan quickly interjects before Seokjin can apologize more. “If you're worried about that, it's no problem. I do know about the 10% off thing.”

 

“Oh.” Seokjin blinks, surprised. “Do you forget to bring your bottle or something? I mean, since you're such a good customer, I can still give you the discount if you forget—”

 

“Ahhhh… No, no.” Seungkwan shakes his head sheepishly, “it's not that. It's just that I collect these bottles. So I'd want a new one anyway.”

 

“Oh.” Seokjin blinks at that, obviously not expecting that answer. “You mean… You keep all of them?”

 

“Yeah,” Seungkwan fidgets a little. “I use them to store things actually. It's a very pretty bottle.”

 

“Oh.” And Seokjin had known that a lot of his customers did collect the juice bottles, but the bottles are all exactly the same so the most they did was buy one for keeps, and the other they'd keep reusing until they felt it was too old and then they'd buy another. And of course, there were the times when Seokjin's supplier ran out of his regular potion bottles for the week and then the bottle design would be replaced for a while until stock came back, and he did have a few customers on a group chat to let them know whenever this happens. But certainly, it's all very different from the way Seungkwan professes to do.

 

But before Seokjin can question Seungkwan about this more, his phone vibrates in his pocket again, distracting him. “Ah… hang on a second, I— mmm… yeah. Just let me take this?”

 

Seungkwan simply raises up his arm, gesturing for Seokjin to continue on. And he puts his hands together in a show of patience, rocking on his heels as Seokjin picks up his phone. “Hoseok. Yes. What? You're— oh! Yes, please! That would be great, you know I'd send Yoongi out for those all the time except he'd totally buy me the wrong flavour out of spite. Hmm? Yes… yes… my usual and— actually hang on.”

 

“Hey, Seungkwan-ah.” The young man jumps a little at Seokjin's sudden question, “do you like bungeoppang?”

 

Seungkwan blinks before he nods, “I eat anything. Why?”

 

“Great. A friend of mine is passing by my favourite bungeoppang shop and is taking orders; red bean, custard, chocolate, banana, or strawberry?”

 

“Er—that's really okay. I should get going.”

 

“Nonsense. He's literally around the corner. Should be here in five to ten minutes.” Seokjin snorts, already lifting the phone back to his face. “Their red bean is good. I'll just get you red bean okay? Hey, yeah. Hobi? Yeah, one extra red bean. And you'll get to meet someone when you come in.”

 

Seungkwan twists his hands awkwardly, “erm. You really don't have to… I mean you already gave me the juice.”

 

“Of course I don't have to. But I want to.” Seokjin snorts, phone still held up to his ear. “And too late, he's already order— hmmm? Nah. That's it. Thanks so much, Hobi. I'll see you in — oh two? Ahhh… you're riding your e-bike. Okay, okay. Ride carefully! See you!”

 

And with that, Seokjin hangs up the call, dropping his phone back into the pocket. “Right, now, Seungkwan, you're going to meet one of the sweetest human beings on earth. And I wanted him to meet one of my favourite customers. So, I'm holding your bottle hostage until he comes to make sure you won't run away.”

 

Seungkwan laughs, shaking his head in amusement. “You can still pack it up for me, hyung. I won't run away before he comes. He's probably a good person if hyung talks about him like that.”

 

“Well, I would say I'm biased. I saw him grow up into the handsome young man he is now.” Seokjin smiles, a silly smile. “He's a little bit jumpy really, and he can be a real coward when it comes to certain things. But when he gets serious, he's really good at anything he puts his mind to.”

 

“Oh?” Seungkwan grins, leaning on the counter, as he watches Seokjin pack up his juice. “You sound like a proud parent, or sibling.”

 

Seokjin sighs, “I do, don't I?”

 

“Mhmm… or like you have a huge crush on him—”

 

Seokjin nearly drops the bottle onto the floor.

 

Yoongi's ears flick back as he watches Seungkwan freeze when the atmosphere suddenly tenses, and it's really awkward for the longest moment, and then Seokjin laughs, shaking his head, before handing Seungkwan the juice bottle. “Ah.. You're so silly, Seungkwan.”

 

It’d must have given Seungkwan a bit of whiplash — the sudden shifts of emotion in the air, because his answer is still a little stiff, “ahaha… yeah. It was just a silly joke— eh.”

 

And Yoongi suddenly stands — because he can smell certain emotions to some extent, and suddenly Seungkwan is radiating a whole bucketload of fear.

 

Glancing at Yoongi, having been surprised by his sudden motion, Seokjin takes a little longer to notice Seungkwan’s stiffening posture. And by the time he does, the young man is already backing away towards the door. “Oh— I… So sorry, hyung, I totally forgot I was late for… er, something. I'm so sorry, but I really have got to go.”

 

Seokjin barely has the time to blink, let alone stop Seungkwan, when the young man makes a dash for the door, only to nearly collide with someone coming in.

 

“Ah! Holy shit— what the…?” Hoseok’s startled yell is shrill as usual, and Yoongi hisses on reflex. Seokjin stares in dumb confusion as he watches Seungkwan just dart around Hoseok without so much as an apology, the hunter having pressed back against the door in his fright.

 

It would have honestly been a little funny if it hadn't entirely come out of left field. And after a long moment with everyone frozen in their spots, Hoseok slowly lowers his limbs from where they'd been comically posed. “Er… who was that?”

 

Seokjin glances at Yoongi, watching as the cat switches back to his human form once Hoseok closes the door. “That was who I wanted you to meet. One of my favourite customers. But seems like he just ran off in a hurry.”

 

“He suddenly got awfully scared too.” Yoongi comments as he goes over to the counter and pushes himself up, perching onto it. “It was really weird.”

 

Hoseok blinks at that, putting the paper bag he'd been clutching down onto the table. Reaching inside, he pulls out the bungeoppang he'd promised to get, distributing them out. “Could it have been me?”

 

“I don't think so.” Seokjin lips are pursed in thought as he takes the offered chocolate bungeoppang. “He was fine hearing you on the phone, and he got antsy before you even came in.”

 

“Huh.” Hoseok frowns before shrugging. “Then I got nothing.”

 

“Could be like what he’d said — he suddenly forgot something. So, sudden spike of fear.” Yoongi shrugs as well, biting into the custard one Hoseok had bought for him. “Although, must have been something serious for him to have been as scared as he'd smelled.”

 

Seokjin is staring at the door again, before his nose wrinkles. “I should text him later. Ask him if everything is alright. Ugh, wish I had his full name instead. Then I could using my scrying ball to check on him.”

 

Hoseok pauses mid-bite before shrugging. “I'll pretend I didn't hear any of that.”

 

Seokjin snorts a little, “don't worry. I don't spy on you when you're in the bathroom or anything like that.”

 

And Yoongi reaches over nonchalantly to help thump Hoseok’s back when Hoseok starts choking. With Seokjin’s immediate dive into mother hen mode at the sight of his precious Hoseok choking in front of him, it isn't long before the odd incident with Seungkwan is pushed to the back of their minds.

 

~*~

 

Seokjin wrinkles his nose as he stares at his phone, or more specifically, the message that had just popped up on his phone.

 

“What is it?” Yoongi asks as he walks out from the bathroom, carefully towelling his hair. Seokjin is too concentrated on the text to tease him yet again about what an unusual cat Yoongi is that he likes baths. Not that Yoongi would really care — Seokjin has teased the very same time for centuries now, and at this point Yoongi just ignores him, or simply tells him that they're running out of the Jeju Hallabong bath salts — the one that Yoongi loves to use after a hard day of making potions.

 

“Witch of Cheonju just texted me to ask for a set of charms because she needs to present a gift to the Faerie Lord of the area for his fifth century birthday.” Seokjin grumbles, “can't she make her own? It's supposed to be a birthday gift. How is it any sort of sincere if you ask someone else to make it?”

 

“Mmm… especially since you're far less talented than her.” Yoongi says dryly, and easily dodges the swipe Seokjin aims in his direction, knowing that it would have been coming.

 

“Yah, if she's more talented then maybe you should go be her familiar then.” Seokjin huffs, returning his attention back to his phone.

 

“Oh, nah. Can't.” Yoongi grins, perching himself onto the armrest of the couch Seokjin is reclining in. “I'm kind of a loser spirit, so it doesn't make sense if I go with someone like her. I need to stick with another loser too.”

 

Seokjin looks up again, a look of bewilderment on his face. “Except you always call yourself a genius whenever someone asks you how you got something done.”

 

“Ahh… but geniuses can be losers too.” Yoongi chuckles, “like you. You might be less talented than her, but you’ve managed to edit the way you do your charms so they are much better quality and last longer than hers, to the point she's coming to ask you for help. So you're a genius. But you're also a loser because you're going to help her despite her not having done anything for you, and she's going to get all the glory and hobnob with faerie royalty, while you get nothing.”

 

“I don't get nothing,” is Seokjin’s immediate response. “She's sending over some really expensive ingredients that I wouldn't get to use and experiment with otherwise. I'm just… she could really do this on her own, it's just frustrating that with her talent she's not pushing herself more.”

 

“See. A genius, but a kind-hearted loser.” Yoongi leans against Seokjin's shoulder. “I'm in the right place.”

 

Seokjin looks up again in surprise, his expression softening. But after the longest while, he only says, “since when were you kind-hearte— ow.”

 

“Shh. Just roll with it.”

 

Seokjin shakes his head again, but his mood is significantly improved as he looks back down at his phone and at the request. “...This is still an annoying request though. I don't really feel like doing it.”

 

“Why? Because she insulted your choice of potion bottles once?”

 

Seokjin’s swipe at Yoongi misses again. “No. It's because it needs to be attachable and needs to hold during the attaching phase. And most of the charms people give for birthdays and blessings are fucking delicate.”

 

“Uhuh.” Yoongi agreed, “except that sort of challenge usually excites you. So it's probably because of the potion bottle thing.”

 

Seokjin let out a groan. “Oh fine. But it's not the potion bottle thing. Seriously Yoongi, I'm not that petty. Eunbi only said that it was boring for me to use the same ones all the time. But what's annoying is that she explicitly told me to use different gems for the charms, and fucking hell, it's definitely because of the potion bottle thing. Well look here, missy, there's nothing wrong with using the same one. Not everyone is a wealthy heiress who can languish around all day and do all sorts of strange experiments with potions and buy all kinds of potion bottles to figure out which material and shape is better. I have to save cost and it's not my fault my supplier only does big orders, and seriously, why the fuck does he only sell in the hundreds. We have like 10 witches in East Asia, and the number of supernaturals are dwindling. No one mass produces potions anymore. I even had to start doing the juice thing because you know how unreliable old bottles are in containing spells, and it was such a pain to maintain those stupid charms.”

 

Yoongi just nods, picking at his nails and making sure they were clean. He knows that Seokjin will take a while before his rant is done.

 

“And Hecate damn it. Yeah, I wish I could just buy multiple potion bottles and have some variety in my life. Heck, maybe I should just start a juice line and mass produce the stuff. And then maybe customers like Seungkwan can collect different bottles for once instead of the same boring old thin—”

 

Yoongi's eyes flicker up when Seokjin suddenly freezes, and it's almost as if the frown on Seokjin's face spreads onto Yoongi's face as well, “...Jin? What is it?”

 

“I…” Seokjin holds up a finger. “Do you… remember how many bottles of juice Seungkwan bought each day?”

 

Yoongi blinks at that. “No…? Why would I remember how many juice bottles pun boy would buy each day?”

 

“I… just…” and Seokjin hastily gets up from the couch, nearly dislodging Yoongi from his perch. And the familiar yelps, barely clutching on, and watching Seokjin with a growing look of confusion. “Where was the file with all the stuff we compiled about the drownings?”

 

“The drownings?” Yoongi echoed as he pushed himself off the arm rest, before going over to one of the many piles of papers shoved at the corner, pulling out a thin, clear plastic file. “Here.”

 

And Seokjin waves impatiently for Yoongi to give it over, practically snatching it from Yoongi's fingers. But other than a slight pout and licking of his fingers from where the edge of the file had hit a little hard, Yoongi doesn't say anything, too used to how frantic Seokjin can get whenever he's focusing.

 

“One… Two… one… one… two… one… one... then silence for eight days… and then… one… two…” Seokjin’s eyes widen before dimming a little. “No… no. Maybe I remembered wrong.”

 

But by this time, Yoongi has caught on. And his eyes narrow as he takes the piece of paper for Seokjin's fingers. “I might not remember exactly the number of juice bottles Seungkwan bought each day. But I do remember when he came to the shop and… that definitely matches.”

 

Seokjin let out a whine, covering his face. “Yoongi…”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “You're thinking the same thing I am. He ran off today when Hoseok came. Sure he didn't actually see Hoseok, but there must be charms to help you detect hunters, or at least detect the tools they commonly use. You've made them.”

 

“But it could very well be like you said — he just got startled by something and ran.”

 

Yoongi eyes Seokjin's stubborn expression before he sighed. “Except… that day when he first came. He managed to come in. What if it's not because we forgot to lock the door, but because he's one of the few who can walk in any time they want?”

 

Seokjin voice goes quiet at that. “It still… Could be that we forgot to lock the door.”

 

Yoongi folds his arms. They both know Seokjin doesn't really believe that. All Yoongi really has to do is get him to admit it.

 

And after so many years, Yoongi knows exactly how to do it. But he gives Seokjin his moment — to soak in denial and pretend they both don't know where this is headed.

 

But Yoongi doesn't wait too long. Because time is ticking. Seungkwan might not have bought a bottle today, but Seokjin had still given him one. For free.

 

“So.” Yoongi says, looking at his nails, “you’re saying that Seungkwan isn't the one who has been causing the drownings despite all the evidence pointing towards it.”

 

Seokjin doesn't answer.

 

Yoongi clicks his tongue. “I suppose, you do have a fair point. The evidence is all circumstantial. And besides, I can't figure out a motive, or how the bottles fit into everything. So it's probably not just wishful thinking on your part that Seungkwan isn't our guy?”

 

Seokjin closes his eyes.

 

Yoongi counts in his head. One… Two…—

 

“The motive is the bottles. Or, rather… what he’s filling them with.”

 

Yoongi doesn't bother gloating, only reaches over to take Seokjin’s phone from his unresisting hands. After a moment, he puts it back, the phone already singing out a call tone.

 

Seokjin lifts the phone up to his ear when the call connects. “Hello? Hoseok? ...Yeah. I know who it is... The person is behind the drownings. But you're going to have to hurry, or there will be another one tonight.”

 

Chapter Text

Neither Seokjin nor Yoongi are really doing anything when the door to the shop opens. They've already done what has needed to be done after all.

 

Seokjin isn't surprised to see the first person, practically pushed into the shop. However, he is surprised to see him pushed as well as the person who had pushed him.

 

He also wrinkles his nose at this person when Seungkwan stumbles to his knees after the push, sinking to the ground and cowering. The man pauses before shrugging at the look Seokjin is giving him. “What? He tried to bolt the moment the car door opened.”

 

“Daniel.” A sigh, but Seokjin will let it go this time. “I’m surprised. I thought you were still looking into the bodies at Suwon?”

 

“Mmm I am, but that's on pause for now.” The man that is Hoseok’s supposed foster father looks younger than his 37 years.“And did you really think Hoseok would go out in the dark into the mountains? All by his lonesome? And to catch a water creature at that?”

 

“I suppose not.” But Seokjin had figured that Hoseok would have asked Jae. Or Jeongguk. But he supposes they both must have been busy. Or… Daniel had eavesdropped and had made an executive decision. Seokjin glanced at the door, not ready to look at Seungkwan yet. “Either of you hurt?”

 

Daniel shakes his head, “nah. This one came relatively quietly. Especially after he heard your name.”

 

Seokjin left out a soft sigh, glancing over at Seungkwan, who had stiffened at that sentence. And finally Seokjin addresses him, “don't worry. You won't be hurt. Not if I can help it.”

 

It doesn't really ease the stiffness in Seungkwan shoulders. But oh well, Seokjin had tried.

 

“Where's Hoseok?” Yoongi pipes up, not looking up from his nails as he lounges against the doorway, acting as a deterrent for Seungkwan to bolt towards that door in escape.

 

“Paying the cab driver, and trying to lug a bag full of bottles and not seem like a nutso.” Daniel says just as Hoseok comes, lugging a huge haversack on his back and groaning a little.

 

“Ah… hyung. Why are your bottles so heavy.”

 

“They're made out of crystal.” Seokjin shrugs, “they're proper potion bottles after all, even if the charms have pretty much faded off. It's why Seungkwan was so enamoured by them. They probably kept the souls bright. There's a slight time suspension charm in them after all.”

 

And Seungkwan's head snaps up, staring at Seokjin before he winces. Hoseok nearly drops the haversack on the ground while struggling to lift it up onto the counter. “Souls?”

 

“Yeah. Because of what he is.” Seokjin steps closer to Seungkwan, who instinctively flinches back. “The glamour charm he's wearing is so strong that even I didn't spot it. But it fits… lakewater creature… the vagrant-looking clothes... souls being kept in bottles, well, traditionally cups, but I suppose it's essentially the same thing…”

 

Seokjin bends down and reaches out, gently lifting the glamour off of Seungkwan; who still flinches slightly, despite the care Seokjin takes. And Seokjin watches as pale skin turns green, and a thin, gossamer webbing appears between his fingers, hair turning more ashy and grey. But other than that, he still pretty much looks the same — and huh, Seokjin was surprised at the lack of beard.

 

“I-I shave.” Seungkwan replies in a nervous whisper, and Seokjin realizes he must have spoken aloud. “It's not part of the glamour.”

 

“Ah.” Seokjin nods, before he chuckles, turning around to meet Hoseok’s puzzled stare. “For those who don't know, Seungkwan is a vodník. Lakewater relative of the mermaid, except they're all males. Very fond of keeping human souls in cups with lids. And also very rare. You're the second vodník I've ever met, actually.”

 

But Seungkwan isn't meeting Seokjin’s eyes anymore. Possibly, trying to deal with the instinctive panic of being found out. So Seokjin leaves him be for the moment, turning to Daniel. “You found him at the lake at Bukgaksan?”

 

“Actually, no. We tracked him down to the park nearby where he was hanging out with some of the homeless guys.” Daniel shakes his head wryly. “We nearly lost him there. He blended so well with the rest with those dirty hobo clothes he's wearing.”

 

And they both blink in surprise when Seungkwan whines, “they're not dirty, and the vagrant-style was a conscious decision! These are exclusive Nohant pieces, okay?”

 

But then he immediately freezes under their gazes, before Seokjin snorts in amusement. “You don't need to tense up. I was serious about my promise that no one will hurt you.”

 

“Yeah, I'm just amused that a vodník would be such a hipster.” Daniel’s eyes glance over to Seungkwan again. “And such a young-looking one too. Aren't they supposed to be old men smoking tobacco and stuff?”

 

“Well, witches are supposed to be hags all dressed in black with pointy hats, and here I am.”

 

“Touché.”

 

“Sorry—! Just…” Seungkwan hunches over, looking miserable. “I know I'm not in any position to make any demands… but what am I doing here, if you're not here to punish me? I… I mean… there's two hunters… and… please… if you're sending me away, please don't send me back to Jeju-do? Please?”

 

Seokjin pauses at that, perplexed, “don't… send you back? But why? I thought you missed your hometown?”

 

“I do… but…” Seungkwan sucks in a shaky breath. “It's always been dangerous… but it's too dangerous there now. It's why I came all the way here in the first place.”

 

Seokjin frowns, glancing over at Daniel and then Hoseok, who both shake their heads, equally bemused.

 

“Well… we can talk about that later. But first, Seungkwan… you don't need to worry. No one is sending you anywhere.”

 

Seungkwan stares in disbelief. “You're lying.”

 

“Why would I lie?” Seokjin raises an eyebrow.

 

“Because you have two hunters with you? I don't know what deal you have with them… but please… if you're going to do something, just do it already.”

 

“I don't know what kind of hunters you've been meeting, but these two don't punish people unless they deserved it.”

 

Seungkwan snorts at that before pointing at the haversack on the table that Hoseok is still guarding. “There's 11 bottles in there. That's 11 people that I've killed.”

 

“Yes. Well,” Seokjin shrugs, “and that's really more on us. We didn't figure out what was happening until now. But you can't help your instincts. And Daniel is the sort of hunter to give as many warnings as he can.”

 

When Seungkwan doesn't speak, Seokjin continues in a much gentler voice, mistaking Seungkwan's silence for fear. “I know how it is on Jeju. I've been there and… I know the hunters that have appeared there aren't the good sort. But my friends don't hunt for the sake of capturing and butchering our kind for profit. They only want to maintain the balance, so that our kind and humans can live in peace together.”

 

But Seungkwan is shaking his head, looking far more miserable than before. “Jin-hyung… it's not that I don't believe you. I think… you are a good person, and I don't think you're here to trick me.”

 

Seokjin lets the pause run until it becomes obvious that Seungkwan isn't going to continue. “Okay… Then is it my two friends that are making you uncomfortable?”

 

But Seungkwan is shaking his head again. “No… if you way, these two hunters are okay, then I believe… I've met good hunters before. And they seem like those. They were gentle with me when they brought me back, even if they were firm… and a bit pushy.” All eyes go to Daniel, who shrugs. “The bad ones… The ones I was running from, they were far more cruel.”

 

Seokjin refrains from asking what Seungkwan had seen to label those hunters cruel. And he gives Daniel a warning glance, whom Seokjin can sense his interest being peaked. There will be a time for that later, when Seungkwan isn't so afraid. “Right. So… what's the problem then?”

 

“The problem is me of course.” And Seungkwan hunches up, tears falling from his eyes. He looks sadder than usual, with his green skin, and flat hair, the tears thicker and fatter than a human would cry. “I tried to control it… but I couldn't… those souls… they're the only thing that… I don't know… They make me feel less lonely.”

 

Seokjin can sense Hoseok's puzzlement, even before the younger hunter voices out his, “why?”

 

“He must have fled his ancestral home.” Yoongi sighs, chipping in. “The last vodník that we met depended on that not to go around drowning people willy nilly as well.”

 

“An...ancestral home?” Hoseok's eyes are wide, “so… he's homesick? And that's why he's going around drowning people?”

 

“Sort of, but no. Not really.” Seokjin explains while one eye is kept on Seungkwan. The vodník is so hunched up on himself that he's almost shrunk half the size. “It's more of… vodník have an instinct to fill their dwelling with covered cups that contain the soul of humans. It appeases them, not sure why, and they probably wouldn't be able to tell you, but it's just one of those things.”

 

Hoseok nods after a moment, accepting that smoothly. And really, being a hunter sort of meant you couldn't really be able to go a day without accepting that some things are beyond explanation. Fixating on what would seem like illogical details would probably drive one crazy.

 

“Anyway, back in the day, it was easy to get souls without stirring up any fuss. People swam in lakes all the time. And if one or two of them drowned, no eyebrows were raised. But nowadays, that isn't really the case.”

 

“Yeah well, it's kind of why we even got on his case in the first place. I mean, especially in a city like Seoul. I imagine a drowning might go unnoticed in Jeju.”

 

And Hoseok jumps a little when Seungkwan lets out a sharp bark of laughter. “Hell no. Not if you don't want to get caught by a hunter. A death like that would bring them swarming, even if whatever stupid human that went swimming in a lake unprepared drowned on their own. You have no idea how many silly tourists I saved from drowning.”

 

Even Daniel looks surprised at that. “I knew the situation was bad, but I didn't know it was that bad.”

 

“Why is the situation so bad in Jeju?” And Seokjin smiles a little, reminded again of how young of a hunter Hoseok actually is.

 

“It's because Jeju has always had strong natural energy, and it remains like that up to this day because a lot of nature has been conserved there. So it attracts a lot of our kind. But that reputation attracts a lot of the bad sort of hunters. They like to go there because they see it as some sort of gold mine, hunting supernatural beings for slaves or parts. Most of the supernatural residents in Jeju either hide off in the faerie plane, or live wearing really strong glamours like the one Seungkwan was wearing. And I bet he ran that day when you came in because he has some kind of charm to detect when hunters are close by.”

 

From the way Seungkwan clutches at the woven bracelet around his wrist, Seokjin knows he'd hit the nail on the head.

 

“That sounds… Terrible.” Hoseok sounds genuinely horrified, and Seokjin doesn't need to look to know that Hoseok’s expression right now is that one where a single look would compel him to bundle Hoseok and whisper sweet assurances and give him anything he asked for right then, so that he could put a smile back on that face.

 

“Yeah, it's always been terrible. But, we deal… Jeju is a literal paradise for our kind, so it balances out right? But… it's been getting worse. Way worse.” Seungkwan looks close to tears again. “The hunters came too close one night. They found my home and wrecked everything… I think they… they wanted to… to lure me out of hiding… to stop them. Or if I didn't… They thought I'd start drowning people and leave a trail or something…”

 

Everyone is quiet at that, no one really knowing what to say to Seungkwan. But Seokjin can feel Hoseok burning with confusion and curiosity, even if he doesn't want to break the awkward silence. And after a moment, Yoongi takes pity on him. “Seungkwan's ancestral home would have been filled with cups full of souls that his ancestors had captured long ago. As long as he had those, he could quell the urge to drown more people and collect their souls. But if all those were taken away...”

 

“Oh.” Hoseok says dumbly before his eyes dim with sympathy. “Oh…”

 

“They didn’t even leave me any of the cups. They smashed everything into pieces. In a way… it was easier to run… but—” and Seungkwan chokes back a sob. “When I got here… I found the lake at Bukgaksan. Which was… ok. A bit small, but at least there was some spiritual energy to make it feel a little like home. And I thought it might be enough, but… I started to feel antsy… And I didn't even know why I was doing it, but I saw people walking around with the bottles in the area and asked them where they'd gotten it. And I just… I got it… and I thought, maybe just the bottle would do. But then… there was a guy. I could smell the death on him. He was starving. Diseased. And I didn't know why I did it. But I— I just thought… just… Just one. I'll stop at one… just to make it feel like home...”

 

Seungkwan obviously hadn't managed to do that. The eleven bottles stuffed in the haversack sitting on the counter a damning testament to that fact. Hoseok's hand tightens on the material, and Seokjin sighs. “The vodník I'd met said that even with the hundreds of souls he had in his ancestral home, he still felt the urge to collect more. Can't imagine even this amount would be enough.”

 

Seungkwan chokes a little, curling up as if ashamed. “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.”

 

Surprisingly, it's Daniel who pipes up first. “Yah. What do you have to be sorry for? You never have to apologize for what your instincts tell you to do to survive.”

 

“But…” Seungkwan wipes at his nose, getting snort over his face. “But I… I kill people.”

 

Daniel shrugs, “yeah. I can't deny that. But then, it's not like you willfully want to, and that's enough for me.”

 

“I-I… but I'm a murderer…”

 

“Yah. I currently have two kids in my house, one is a vampire, the other is a werewolf. Both have accidentally killed people before because of their instincts, but I don't call them murderers, and so I can't call you a murderer too.” Daniel sighs, before glancing over to Hoseok, “and if nothing else, me and Hobi over there qualify for that term far more. We try our best, but sometimes we meet creatures too panicked or far too gone and we have no choice but to take them down. And the sad thing is, those usually don't mean it. They're just following their instincts as well.”

 

“B-but…”

 

“Hey, no more buts. Buts are lame.” Daniel squats down in front of Seungkwan, pulling out a handkerchief from his pocket and offering it to the vodník. “You want to stop killing humans right?”

 

And Seungkwan nods. “I… I don't want to kill anyone. My… most of my friends on Jeju-do were human… even if they didn't know what I was.”

 

“Mmm… and that's enough for me.” Daniel offers the handkerchief again. “So, wipe your tears and don't cry anymore, okay?”

 

Still, Seungkwan hesitates. “But even if I want to… I can't stop…”

 

“Geeze. Take it already.” Daniel rolls his eyes before forcefully pushing the handkerchief into Seungkwan’s hand. “And it's fine. We'll figure out a way. Actually, I bet Jin already has. Did you figure out a way already? I bet you just didn't say because you wanted to be all dramatic.”

 

“I haven't said it because you've been talking all this while.” Seokjin's eyes narrow at Daniel, who just smiles smugly back. “Called it.”

 

Seungkwan's eyes widen. “Wait, you mean… you have a solution?”

 

Seokjin sighs, glaring a little at Daniel. “I might have a solution. It might not work.”

 

But he holds out his hand, gesturing for Yoongi to bring something, the familiar walking away from the door with something clutched in his hand. And after a moment, Seungkwan gasps, eyes wide with confusion. “Wait… is that… A soul?”

 

Because the bottle that Yoongi hands to Seokjin right now seems to be glowing. It's a little faint in the light of the shop, but there it is —  a soft pulsating light emanating from the center of the bottle. And a look of tentative relief crosses Seokjin's face. “Oh… it looks like a soul to you?”

 

Seungkwan nods, his eyes fixated on the thing. And Daniel pipes up uselessly, “it looks like a soul to me. What is it?”

 

Seokjin pops open the lid, and Seungkwan actually lets out a rather endearing noise of alarm. But Seokjin just chuckles, and gently tips the bottle over, and watches as a small glowing ball of light tumbles out and stops, floating lightly above the center of his palm. “Don't worry. It isn't an actual soul. It's a charm I made to emulate the qualities of one.”

 

Seungkwan blinks, his mouth wide, wide open. “It looks… Just like a soul. How…?”

 

“Magic?” Seokjin says with a small grin. “It was an experiment really. I created this for the vodník I met a long, long time ago. But back then, he said it wasn't convincing enough. So I'm not sure if it's that I improved or you're not as picky as he is.”

 

“I think it's the first. It honestly does look like a soul.” Seungkwan breathes, and Seokjin glares a little when Yoongi lets out a snort, possibly amused by Seungkwan's gushing over Seokjin's skill.

 

“Anyway… I'm still not too sure if it'll be enough to keep your instincts down. So we'll probably keep those 11 souls until we're sure it works.” Seokjin tips the charm back into the bottle, screwing the cover back onto the bottle. And Seungkwan still has a look of reverence, even as Seokjin steps forward, handing the bottle to the vodník, who takes it almost gingerly, before cradling it in his arms.

 

“I think… it will work hyung. Even though I know it's not really a soul, it feels like one… A really pretty one.” Seungkwan looks up, genuine joy radiant on his face. “It feels like how your soul would feel like, hyung.”

 

Seokjin is already glaring at Yoongi before the snort even escape. And he shakes his head. “It's probably because it has my magic inside. And his, so technically you also feel like a really pretty soul, Yoongi.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Yoongi smirks, “of course I'm a really pretty soul.”

 

Seokjin ignores Yoongi, even though Daniel laughs. For all his kind and friendly demeanor towards the kids, he's such an asshole to his friends. “Anyway, I'm not too sure how many to give you. But I prepared 10 for tonight. And… the other vodník I met once told me that the satisfaction with the collection increases if you collected the souls yourself. I'm not too sure how accurate that is, but I think this would be great to start you off, and then you can work towards building your own collection day by day. Just bring whatever cup or bottle that catches your fancy to the shop, and I'll make you however many charms you need. And this way you don't need to keep sticking to my boring, same old potion bottles all the time.”

 

The expression of hope has been growing on Seungkwan's face, and he clutches at the bottle as it's the most precious thing in the world. But after a moment, the hope fades back and a hard look of cynicism crosses his face. “But… what do I owe you then?”

 

Seokjin pauses, “owe me?”

 

“All witches have their price, no matter how benevolent,” Seungkwan says tiredly. “It's how all magic works. It doesn't make sense if I get this all for free.”

 

Seokjin blinks, “well, no. It's not free definitely. You're right — no magic is free. But the price is negligible for such a frivolous charm, especially with a familiar to help.”

 

“But there… no witch ever gives something without a catch,” Seungkwan insists.

 

“Oh. Well. I guess the catch really is you can't go drown anyone again. If you really have the urge to do so you have to clamp down on it and I don't know. Maybe come here and I'll make you more soul charms to ease the urge?”

 

“I…” Seungkwan huffs, “that's not right.”

 

Yoongi's eyebrows raise, amused, “are you telling Seokjin he doesn't charge enough? Because you're right. He never charges enough.”

 

“Yah. Hush you.” Seokjin groans, watching Seungkwan's mouth tighten into a thin line. Shit, Seungkwan looks like he's about to offer money—

 

“I don't have much in the terms of magic or exotic ingredients or any kind of service to offer. But if you’d take human cash? My ancestral line is solvent in that sense, having foresee that we would need it to integrate into the growing human world, and I—”

 

“Okay, gonna stop you right there.” Seokjin sighs, “no. Don't need human money. The juice shop is more than enough to keep us afloat and I've been alive so long it kind of piles up after a while. If you really want, just keep patronizing the shop and buy our juices. Help me get rid of my old potion bottles.”

 

“But—”

 

“Hey, kid. He's already told you twice.” Daniel interrupts then, stepping forward. He looks tired, patience gone. Seokjin supposes he and Hoseok have had a long day. “Just accept it. It's just a Seokjin thing. He undercharges me and Hoseok all the time by practically giving us hunting supplies for free, and just tells us the payment is keeping the streets clean.”

 

Hoseok huffs at that, “it's an annoying thing about him. But we've learnt to accept it and repay him in other ways. Except Daniel-hyung. Who just… leeches.”

 

“Hey, I used to insist, but it never works so…” Daniel grins at Seokjin who simply rolls his eyes. There isn't any lie in his words after all. “And well, since we're on the topic of being shameless, if you still feel bad, come to our restaurant and give us business. Seokjin might not need human money, but us hunters still need to live and pay the rent and stuff.”

 

Luckily (or unluckily?), Seungkwan misses the way the other three roll their eyes. They all know if Seungkwan were to visit the restaurant, the likelihood that he'd be made to pay would be zero percent. Daniel is as bad about such things, if not worse, as Seokjin is.

 

“I… Sure. But I—”

 

“Oh god help me, enough. Just accept it, and then we can all go home. I'm tired and want my bed. And I still have to ask you about the hunter situation in Jeju-do. Ah! There. We have it. Payment is information about the situation in Jeju-do. That's really useful to us and a good price. Don't you think so, Seokjin?”

 

“Sure.” Seokjin's lips are curled in amusement now. And Seungkwan barely has the time to feel touched about all of this before he's being carted over to the back of the counter. “Ah! But before you drag him away, Seungkwan, could I take a closer look at the glamour you're wearing?”

 

“Huh? Er sure.” Seungkwan blinks at that. Even as Daniel stop dragging him, holding the same awkward pose even as Seokjin draws near.

 

And Seungkwan holds very still as Seokjin tugs at where the magic lays, inactive, but a hair’s width above his person, tight and snug, almost like a second skin. And after a moment, Seokjin lifts his hand, the hum of magic filling the air. “Do you mind?”

 

The vodník takes a while to understand, but once he does, he nods enthusiastically. “Please. I feel weird without it on actually… And it's been so long that it's off that I can't actually remember how to put it on again.”

 

“Mmm… I understand.” And Seokjin simply drags his hand through the air, and everyone watches in different degrees of fascination as yellow-pink slowly fades across the green, the webbing between Seungkwan's fingers receding, transformation completing as Seokjin forms a fist with hand before putting his hand down.

 

But then, the moment of awe is broken when Yoongi suddenly snorts, “your teacher is a show-off as usual.”

 

Seokjin snorts, “yeah. He weaved in such complicated spells just so that the glamour could literally be activated by anyone, even someone without any magical power at all.”

 

“Wait. You know the witch who made this glamour?” Seungkwan asks, his eyes wide.

 

“Unfortunately,” Seokjin chuckles. “He was my teacher.”

 

“Oh.” Seungkwan blinks. “When my father spoke of him, it was with derision, but grudging respect.”

 

“Well, I don't speak about him with derision. But trust me when I say my respect for him is grudging as well.”

 

“Oh… you don't… like your teacher?”

 

Seokjin laughs, “oh. I like him fine. He and I just don't see eye to eye on how a witch should operate. What did he supposedly charge your ancestors for the glamour by the way?”

 

Seungkwan blinks at that question. “I believe it was 44 souls. That was more than half of the collection at that time. And a binding promise on that particular ancestor that they would only drown someone once a year.”

 

Seokjin snorts. “Figures. He wouldn't even have use for 44 souls. He probably just wanted a nice scene to go with his wine, writing philosophical poetry while he watched the released souls drift out to the night. Wouldn't even care how many of those might become ghosts. Say it's all according to fate or something dumb like that.”

 

“Well.” And Daniel does that annoying clapping thing he does when he wants to get the room’s attention. It always gives Seokjin half a heart-attack. “As much as hearing you complain about your teacher is amusing as usual, you done?”

 

“Yes. I'm done. You can bring him to the pantry to interrogate him now.”

 

“Eh?”

 

Seokjin has to laugh at Seungkwan suddenly expression of alarm. “No, don't worry, Seungkwan. It's not that kind of interrogation.”

 

“Maybe it is! Hoseok come with me to take notes.” Daniel orders in a sing-song tone, ignoring Seungkwan's second sound of alarm. “Seokjin, I'll just leave it to you to prep the stuff our vodník needs for when we go. Could I trouble you to get us a cab too?”

 

Seokjin glances over at Yoongi who sighs. “Yeah, yeah. I'll call in maybe ten minutes. Got a feeling Seungkwan's story might take a while.”

 

“We'll try to be faster than that. Don't want to keep you two up.” Hoseok is fiddling with his hunter pack to pull out his phone. “I'll just… leave this haversack here, yeah?”

 

“Ah. Yeah. I'll handle it.” Seokjin nods, “and don't worry. I was planning to stay up anyway… have a separate, troublesome job.”

 

“Oh… potion or charm? Or something else?” Hoseok asks before Daniel yells at him again to hurry up. And Hoseok whines, shaking his head. “Ugh. Okay. I'll find out from you later, Jin-hyung. But you should still sleep earlier— I'm coming, I'm coming! Hold your horses, hyung!”

 

And Seokjin and Yoongi are left alone in the main hall, looking at each other. And Seokjin feels tired even after the adrenaline from the events of the night seeps out of him, but there's still so much to be done.

 

“You know. You could just rest.” Yoongi points out quietly, “you did a great job tonight already.”

 

“Mmm… I did, didn't I? But no, the charms our Cheonju witch commissioned are going to take ages to do and I need all the time I can get,” Seokjin sighs.

 

“Will reminding you that it was Hoseok who told you to sleep convince you to? You usually listen to Hobi.”

 

“Mmm… normally yes. But not this time.” Seokjin chuckles as he opens up the haversack, checking the bottles inside. “If you want to go sleep, Yoongi, you can. You've been a great help already.”

 

Yoongi sighs, stepping close, his eyes flashing just that bit yellow. “And you know I wouldn't leave you alone right now, even if you're being an idiot casserole.”

 

Seokjin laughs at that, linking his arm with Yoongi's. “Well then. We've got a long night ahead. Let's get started.”

 

Chapter Text

Whatever Daniel and Hoseok had gotten from Seungkwan had left them in a much grimmer mood than they were when arriving, and for Hoseok, who had come to the shop after facing what had been literal nightmare fuel for him, that was saying something. Not that Seokjin really knew why. He didn't really ask, already too absorbed into research and experimenting for the charms he'd been commissioned to make.

 

That had been about a week ago.

 

“You know… Yoongi-sshi…” Seungkwan says from where he stands, hands still clutching the empty bottle he’d brought. It's a particularly pretty one, with curling designs etched into the glass. Seokjin hadn't so much as noticed. “When you explained to me that Jin-hyung gets into these… inventive sprees where he becomes hyper-focused on whatever he's working on, I didn't realize they lasted so long.”

 

And Yoongi sighs, watching as Seokjin hums to himself, going through the steps of making the fake soul charm that Seungkwan is here for with sharp, precise and practised movements.

 

To anyone watching, there probably doesn’t seem to be anything wrong — except, to anyone who has interacted with Seokjin for any extended amount of time, this languid and serene behaviour would almost be creepy.

 

“Holy shit, it's been a week, but it’s still really creepy?”

 

Yoongi snorts, glancing over at Seungkwan, whose fingers had tightened around the bottle. “You’re going to crack it if you keep that up.” He doesn’t make any comment about how much he agrees with that sentiment.

 

“Seungkwan?” And the vodník nearly jumps a mile high at the sound of Seokjin's voice. Yoongi will never admit that he had been similarly affected. He's long become very good at faking nonchalance. “Could I have the bottle please?”

 

“E-er…” And Seungkwan stares at the hand held out towards him, and he stutters, glancing at Yoongi, obviously not wanting to go close to this terrifyingly mild and polite Seokjin. But Yoongi just raises his eyebrows even higher, until Seungkwan winces and shuffles closer to Seokjin, looking more like he's been asked to pet an alligator than to simply pass the glass bottle he's brought to Seokjin. “H-here…”

 

But Seokjin doesn’t seem to notice. Instead, he simply takes the bottle from Seungkwan's hand and then slides the charm into the bottle with nary a word.

 

“There.” Seokjin smiles a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. Not in the sense that he was sad or not feeling happy just… it felt as if there wasn’t quite anyone present at all in Seokjin’s gaze. “Perfect.”

 

“Perfect,” Seungkwan repeats, unable to keep the squeak out of his voice.

 

And Yoongi can’t help but feel a little amused as Seungkwan slinks back to Yoongi’s side, the way Seokjin’s behaving entirely overridden what should have been Seungkwan’s instinct to be wary of Yoongi instead. Felines and lakewater aquatic creatures didn’t normally necessarily get along.

 

They watch as Seokjin goes back to his work table, picking up a pink faceted gem and holding it up to the light, peering at it with a small frown — the most expression he’s been showing the whole day, before he puts it down and smiles genially at Seungkwan and Yoongi. “Is there anything else I can do for you, Seungkwan-ah?”

 

Seungkwan swallows, the gulp audible in the quiet shop. “No?”

 

“Ah… then… I wish you a good evening?” Seokjin asks even as Seungkwan squeaks a reply. “Yoongi, would you show our guest out?”

 

Yoongi doesn't bother replying, simply turning to leave. It's not like Seokjin would actually register his words right now anyway, and after a bit Seungkwan scurries after, whispering, “oh Bereginia... That's really creepy. Is he going to stay like this for much longer? It's already been a whole week.”

 

“Eh.” Yoongi shrugs, “he's going to be like that until he figures out how to make the charms he's been commissioned to do. Sometimes, he comes out of it before he's done. Sometimes, it lasts all the way. But he has a month's deadline, so it shouldn't last beyond that.”

 

“Ugh. A whole month? How can you stand it?”

 

“You get used to it,” Yoongi shrugs. “Besides, it's only a month. There was once he was like that for half a year.”

 

“Half a year?!” Seungkwan practically wails in despair. “That sounds terrible.”

 

Yoongi bites back a sigh, before shrugging. “It's what it is. Now shoo.”

 

Seungkwan yelps at the shove between his shoulder blades, and he barely regains his grip on his bottled fake soul that had slipped in his surprise. “Yah! Don't need to be so mean. I'm a customer you know!”

 

“Well, the shop owner has already kicked you out, so I'm not obliged to be nice anymore.” Yoongi smirks, “I'll be nice to you tomorrow, I guess. But for now… scram.”

 

Seungkwan lets out a slightly wounded sound, but he does as Yoongi orders, scuttling out of the store with a sniffly sounding, “meanie!”

 

Well, Yoongi does suppose he deserves that.

 

“Yoongi? Could you help me get a piece of sandalwood from the storage room?”

 

A part of Yoongi wants to be defiant, and pretend to ignore the gentle request that practically floats down from upstairs. But he doesn't, suppressing the whine that threatens to come up, and instead makes a silent beeline towards the storage room.

 

Because, if it would help Seokjin complete his task faster and get him out of this mood, then you would bet your whiskers that Yoongi was going to do it.

 

~*~

 

Because, as the night drags on, and Seokjin barely registers Yoongi's presence other than when he has to or needs Yoongi for something, Yoongi can't help but feel just a little lonely.

 

Because as far as the two of them are stuck with each other, this is probably the closest Yoongi ever gets to being left all alone. And even with as long as he's been with Seokjin, and with the numerous times it's happened before, he still doesn't particularly like it when it happens; even if he knows that it's one of Seokjin's necessary idiosyncrasies that one has to simply accept if you were to be his friend.

 

And Yoongi understands , but it doesn't mean he can't hate it.

 

Because, and Yoongi will never, ever tell anyone, because he has a reputation to upkeep, but he really hates being alone.

 

Later, it's past midnight, and Yoongi caves, turning into his true form and stubbornly sits on top of the papers that Seokjin is reading. The witch gently tugs the papers out from under Yoongi's belly, but gently cards his fingers through the familiar’s fur even as he continues to read. And even if Yoongi can feel the absence even in Seokjin’s touch, it will have to be enough for now.

 

~*~

 

Yoongi lifts his head in surprise when he senses someone come into the shop an hour after closing time. But it's not so much that someone had come into the shop, but who that someone is.

 

He's in his human form by the time the person walks into the pantry, where he'd been lazing. And he's had more than enough time to get into a sitting position, kicking his legs back and forth idly when the person walks into the room.

 

He raises an eyebrow as he stares, not really needing to pretend to sound surprised when he says, “Jeongguk. I think this is the first time you've ever come here on your own when it's not the day after the full moon.”

 

Normally, Jeongguk's just a quiet boy, at most a little sullen or ill-tempered, especially around Yoongi and Seokjin. But today, he looks all out pissed as he stands in the doorway, sizing Yoongi up like he's an enemy, a strange gleam in his eyes.

 

There a tense moment of silence before Yoongi shrugs, “not that I care. It's just surprising. What are you here for?”

 

Jeongguk sucks in a deep breath, as if the question Yoongi had asked him warranted such self-restraint not to get annoyed at. “Jin-hyung’s upstairs?”

 

“Well, he's physically there.” Yoongi answers, “but he's working on something right now.”

 

“What does that even mean? Ah… Whatever. I need to talk to him.”

 

“Ah right. I forgot. You've not been over here enough to ever see Seokjin when he's actually working on something, or else you'd know.”

 

Jeongguk pauses in his step again, his curiosity overriding his annoyance for but a moment, “know what?”

 

“That it's useless to try to talk to Seokjin right now if you want a sincere reply. He's in this hyper-focused mode and his brain is literally working on one single thing and nothing else at the moment. Trying to get anything other than auto-pilot answers from him will just make you more frustrated than you already are. At this point, you might as well talk to me. I mean, I don't really care. But at least I'm actually listening.”

 

And Jeongguk's eyebrow furrows, disbelief clear on his face. “What are you even talking about. Whatever, Jin-hyung is upstairs right? Then, I'm going upstairs.”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes, lifting his hands to stare at his fingernails again. “Sure. Just don't say I didn't warn you.”

 

And he doesn't stop Jeongguk when the werewolf stomps upstairs. He waits a beat or two before following, barely suppressing the sigh as he reaches the landing in time to hear Jeongguk yell, “—this is all your fault!”

 

Seokjin barely looks up, continuing to tinker with what looks like a delicate piece of clockwork. “Mmm? What is?”

 

Jeongguk actually looks a little thrown by the lacklustre response. Normally, Seokjin would have rose up from his seat in a most indignant, most exaggerated fashion and start spouting back vitriol like the old man he actually is. But it's only but a moment before Jeongguk shakes his head, undeterred. “What do you think? it's that fucking annoying Kim Taehyung.”

 

“Kim Taehyung? ...Ah. My favourite conspiracy theorist. What about him?”

 

“Your favourite conspiracy theorist?” Jeongguk repeats stonily, “your favourite— well, your favourite conspiracy theorist is a fucking asshole, who thinks it's ‘cool' to be a werewolf.”

 

Seokjin does glance up a bit this time, a small frown on his face, “...but why wouldn't he think that? He doesn't know that much of this world, anything supernatural would be cool to him. That wouldn't make him an asshole.”

 

“No— that.” Jeongguk’s voice lowers to a growl before he closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “That asshole does know. He fucking knows that my fucking family was killed by a werewolf, and he thinks it's fun . He thinks that the fact I transforms into a fucking werewolf every full moon is a fucking game, a fucking joke he can enjoy and jerk off to him being right about werewolves existing and feed his stupid conspiracy theorist ego.”

 

“...Does he really think all that?” and even Yoongi, who isn't particularly fond of Taehyung, agrees with Seokjin next statement. “That doesn't really sound like him.”

 

“He said that he thought all this was ‘cool'. Like being a werewolf isn't a fucking nightmare.” Jeongguk replies shortly, and Yoongi sighs, already bracing himself for the incoming explosion.

 

“Oh? Then it's likely he hadn't meant it. Taehyung does babble so… he probably put his foot in his mouth. You shouldn't be so hard on him.”

 

“I shouldn't— I told the fucking asshole to leave me alone, and he still keeps bugging me! He showed up at the restaurant today. Even got Hoseok to take his side. He's just a menace!”

 

“He just operates on a far more manic time than you do.” Seokjin has turned back to his tinkering again. “...You take a while to process things. Personality like a rock… stubborn. Slow.” Then a pause. “Wait, how did Taehyung figure out you're a werewolf?”

 

Jeongguk's jaw clicks shut. And Yoongi eyes the muscle jumping in his temple.

 

“...You said your family. He knows about your family being killed by a werewolf.” Seokjin fits in another gear into the clockwork piece before letting out a hum of pleasure. “Ahh… he must have figured out from the articles. They described in gory detail about the way your parents were discovered. He must have put it together with the date and figured it out about the full moon. Plus your arm… and he knows when you were sick nearly two weeks ago that it was around the night of a full moon…”

 

Seokjin pauses, before he lets out a trilling laugh. “Ahh… what a clever boy—”

 

Jeongguk's fist is but mere inches away from Seokjin's face, and they would have met in a dramatic fashion if not for the hand curled around Jeongguk's wrist, holding it firmly in place.

 

“Jeongguk.” Yoongi says with a calm that is almost eerie, and there's a dangerous glint to his golden eyes as he stares at the werewolf down. “Stand down.”

 

Jeongguk only lets out a low growl, his arm trembling as he fights Yoongi's iron hold. “Fuck— let go!”

 

“Not if you're going to be like this.” And suddenly Yoongi's aura flares, his eyes darkening to a glowing amber, even as Jeongguk flinches, backing away and unsuccessfully trying to wrench out Yoongi's hold. “I already told you that Seokjin isn't in any sort of condition to talk. It's your own damn fault for insisting.”

 

“Fuck you, Yoongi! Let go!”

 

And Yoongi, not having been in much of a good morning for nearly two weeks now, lets a darkened smile curl across his lips, even as power licks its way down Yoongi's spine towards his finger tips. This was going to be fun, “no, pup , I think I'm going to fuck you— OW!”

 

And Yoongi stumbles a little, clutching his head where the thick wad of rolled-up newspaper had hit it, barely keeping his hold on Jeongguk's arm, although that's mostly because Jeongguk had been stunned by Seokjin's action as well, and he hasn't taken the chance to bolt yet. But Yoongi stares, wide-eyed and betrayed, at his master. “Jin— what the fuck? Why’d you hit me?!”

 

“Because, if that man over there were an enemy, we'd all be dead.” Seokjin says simply, gesturing over to the banister overlooking the stairs where a man stands, hand tracing the grain of the wood.

 

From the way Jeongguk jumps, he'd only just noticed the new man’s presence. But that isn't that surprising, considering he's pretty much human when it isn't during the full moon. What's surprising is Yoongi not having noticed the man at all — even if he'd been focused on Jeongguk the way he had.

 

But a closer look at the man, and it all made sense to Yoongi. And he groans before letting go of Jeongguk's arm. “You.”

 

“Yes, me.” The man smiles an entirely unassuming smile before he straightens. “Hello, Yoongi. It's been a while, managed to sneak past you this time, didn't I.”

 

Yoongi glares at the man before shaking his head. “Hyosang. What are you doing here?”

 

“Was in the neighbourhood. Thought I'd drop by.” The man named Hyosang doesn't seem to care about the positively poisonous look Yoongi is giving him, instead going over to the table to look at the small clockwork piece that Seokjin had been working on. “What's this? A charm? Must be for someone important if Seokjin is using his inventive focus to do it.”

 

“That's none of your business, Hyosang.” Yoongi huffs, folding his arms. “If you have nothing to do here, then you should leave.”

 

“Is that any way to be treating your master’s good friend?” Hyosang laughs, before straightening again. “But well, I suppose you're the same sour and tiny kitty you were all those centuries ago.”

 

“Call me tiny again and I'll—”

 

“You—” Jeongguk has been staring at Hyosang all this while, confused but still observant. His anger has been set aside for now, mostly from bewilderment at the fact that this stranger managed to sneak past Yoongi's senses. And he sees, the familiar silhouette of a gun in Hyosang’s back pocket, half concealed by the long black jacket he's wearing. But also… Jeongguk can feel a sort of sick sensation forming in his stomach the more he stares at the gun, one he only ever has when a certain herb is too close to his vicinity. “You're carrying wolfsbane extract.”

 

Hyosang pauses, his gaze still pleasant and polite even as they land on Jeongguk. “Yes, you're right, young werewolf. It's only natural for me to be carrying some since I'm a hunter after all.”

 

“An annoying one.” Yoongi interjects, “can you go? You know Seokjin as well as I do and you know he's not going to be any sort of good conversation until he's done.”

 

“Ah. I know. And I'll go. Just— huh. I think the werewolf wants to ask me a question.”

 

“It's just… I don't recall Daniel-hyung knowing a ‘Hyosang'.” Jeongguk says cautiously… carefully. The hunter circles are relatively small, and Jeongguk was pretty sure that Daniel knew all the hunters who had similar views as them, and Jeongguk had met or at least heard of all their names before. But if he hadn’t, then…

 

Jeongguk’s hand curls into a fist instinctively, his posture becoming more guarded.

 

“Oh— right. That.” Hyosang laughs, sheepish. “That's because no one really calls me Hyosang anymore. More people would know me as ‘Kidoh'.”

 

And Jeongguk freezes, posture loosening immediately, “K-kidoh? But you're… Kidoh is—”

 

“Uhuh.” Hyosang… Kidoh… whatever his name is, grins when Seokjin walks back with nary a word to this supposed old friend of his. And then, the hunter grins, “hey little werewolf, wanna see something cool?”

 

But before anyone (i.e. Yoongi), can stop him, Kidoh is tapping Seokjin’s shoulder before saying, “don't you think it's a little alarming that some random guy seems to know so much about the supernatural?”

 

“Mmmm?” Seokjin hums, picking up one of the small containers of powder he'd come back with. “What guy?”

 

“The one we've been talking about. Keep up, Seokjin-yah.” Kidoh says with a flicker of a wink at Jeongguk. “But yes. He's just a normal human, and he's getting all wrapped up in our business. Maybe you should make a potion to wipe his memory.”

 

Seokjin lets out a sound most unimpressed, “memory potions are too risky. Anything that messes with a person’s mind is too risky.”

 

“I know, but it doesn't need to be strong. Just… something to persuade them that the supernatural ain't real. Maybe back it up with a charm that distracts any time something supernatural happens — so there won't be a risk of relapse.” Hyosang hums, “yeah, that would be good.”

 

Seokjin’s eyebrows knit a little, taking a small brush and dipping it into another container with a clear liquid in it. “I have memory potions already made. Strong ones, but I stored them away. Shouldn't use them unless it's a true emergency… the charm… I guess I could make it. It's not too hard.”

 

“Excellent. They'll be ready in two days? That's your usual turn around.”

 

Yoongi steps forward, “yah. Hyosang—”

 

“Huh? No… one. One day…” Seokjin replies absentmindedly. “One day should be fine.”

 

“Great.” And Kidoh straightens up, turning so that his back isn’t facing Yoongi anymore, lips curled into a teasing smirk. But Jeongguk can see his hand go to the gun in his back pocket, and the werewolf stiffens immediately, “so that's one memory potion and one charm to prevent relapse for one possibly too annoying human who shouldn't be around business which isn't his own to poke into, correct?”

 

Yoongi growls, taking another threatening step forward, but he’s noticed the gun too, and his eyes glance almost imperceptibly to Jeongguk, “Hyosang, you asshole, stop—”

 

“Ah, right. Jin-yah? How do you make doubly sure the potion works?”

 

“HYOSANG—!”

 

“Hmmm? Make sure the person drinking the potion gets a hard knock to the head. Hard enough that human doctors might misdiagnose that as the cause of the amnesia.” Seokjin replies, and then there's another happy hum as the clockwork piece makes a sound like tiny click. He doesn’t seem to notice the tension in the room at all.

 

“Is that so?” And then Kidoh, releases his hold on the gun, holding his hands up in an expression of peace; before he bows towards Jeongguk, almost like a magician demonstrating his skills. And in that extremely surreal moment, Kidoh simply straightens and then turns to walk away, heading towards and then down the steps, and moments later, both Jeongguk and Yoongi hear the front door opening and closing yet again.

 

“Ah.” Jeongguk jumps as Yoongi lets out a sound of extreme annoyance, even as he runs a frustrated hand through his hair. “I seriously hate that guy.”

 

“Isn't that guy like… one of the most senior hunters in existence? He's like… Hoseok-hyung’s childhood hero and role-model.” Jeongguk frowns, still not entirely too sure what exactly had happened.

 

“Yah, don't put him on a pedestal. He's just an asshole. A real one.” And that statement is meant to insult Jeongguk’s overreaction of calling Taehyung an asshole. But luckily, Jeongguk doesn't realize. “He only shows up when things are about to go to shit. I hate it when he shows.”

 

Jeongguk blinks at that, “you sound like you know him personally?”

 

Yoongi snorts at that, “it’s just a consequence of living really long. He’s Seokjin’s childhood friend, but… we know people way more famous that him. Consequence of Seokjin being his teacher’s student. Seokjin’s teacher is… famous to the point that, any time his teacher is active, the whole supernatural world jumps. It’s fucking annoying really. Thank the devil his teacher has been quiet lately.”

 

Jeongguk just kind of stares for a while, not sure how to deal with suddenly realizing that the silly hyung who loved lame puns and more than once had tried to pull faces at Jeongguk to see if that would make him laugh is actually socially viable. It doesn’t help that he’s feeling beyond tired now that the anger had seeped out of him, or rather, had sort of been surprised out of him.

 

“Jeongguk,” and Yoongi suddenly says, “I know you’re annoyed with that Kim Taehyung guy, but if Seokjin offers it to you before he gets out of this mood of his, I want you to refuse it.”

 

Jeongguk blinks, confused, “what?”

 

“You heard what Hyo— Kidoh. You heard what Kidoh asked Seokjin to do. And in the state he's in right now, Seokjin is probably gonna do it.” Yoongi sighs, glancing over at the witch, who has gone back to single-mindedly working on the clockwork piece, “Seokjin does have the potion stored away. He made it maybe five years ago on another inventive spree after a request from someone… but in the end he lied to her that he hadn’t been able to do it.”

 

“He…” Jeongguk frowns, “but why?”

 

“Why else? Because the cost of the potion would have been too high.” Yoongi snorts, “not magically or monetarily. But the cost of forgetting would have meant not only the bad memories gone, but the good as well. And if given to someone like Taehyung, who doesn’t want to forget in the first place, it might cause some kind of mental trauma. Seokjin isn’t very sure. We've never tested it before.”

 

The confusion on Jeongguk’s face only deepens. “If that’s the case, then why would Seokjin offer it to me?”

 

“Because, when he gets like this, Seokjin literally answers or does anything that's requested. As long as it's doable of course. He's on literal autopilot right now.” Yoongi buffs, “Kidoh knew that and that ass purposely set Seokjin along that route. Luckily, he seems to think Taehyung isn't that much of a problem or we'd have even more to worry about.”

 

“Wait… You're saying if he thought Kim Taehyung would… I don't know, be a threat to the supernatural community? Then he'd do… What? Force feed the memory potion to Kim?”

 

“Maybe. I don't know. He's a fucking insane vigilante type.” Yoongi runs his fingers through his hair. “I appreciate what he does sometimes, because he can be counted on to do what he has to, to protect both humans and the supernatural community; but most of the time, he's so unpredictable and extreme, and I really have never understood why Seokjin is even friends with him.”

 

“But… Hoseok-hyung idolizes him.” Jeongguk looks rather confused, trying to reconcile the difference between the person he's just met and the stories he'd been told.

 

Yoongi honestly doesn't blame him. “Yeah, I'm not surprised. It's because it’s mostly just the things he has done for the community that gets spread around. Not so much how he does them.” Yoongi folds his arms, sighing. “He works alone, so there's usually no witnesses around to see the process.”

 

“Then how do you know?” Jeongguk frowns.

 

“He talks to Seokjin sometimes, about his plans,” Yoongi shrugs. “I don't know why he does. Maybe because he knows Seokjin can't stop him. Or maybe it's just because they're both usually drunk when it happens.”

 

Jeongguk sags a little, rubbing his face. He stares at Seokjin, who looks like he's in his own world, entirely unaware about what had just transpired, and sort of wishes that were him. “This is… a lot. Will Seokjin remember any of this when he gets… out of whatever funk he's in right now.”

 

“It's an inventing spree. And… maybe. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. If it helps you can think of it as an entirely safe and way longer acid trip.” Yoongi chuckles, “there's some magic involved, but it's mostly the way Seokjin’s mind works.”

 

“So, magic stuff.”

 

“Yep. Magic stuff.”

 

Yoongi waits.

 

Finally, Jeongguk nods, rubbing at his face. “That was far more than I expected to ever find out coming here. But fine, I promise not to accept if Seokjin offers the potion to me.”

 

“Good boy.” And Yoongi laughs when Jeongguk gives him the finger. “Seriously, everyone thinks you’re such a vanilla sweetheart who just loses his temper a lot. But you’re such a foul little thing.”

 

“I’m roommates with Jae.” Jeongguk rolls his eyes, “and are you seriously calling me little? You're tiny in both your human and kitten form.”

 

“Alright, for that, I'm going to bring up Taehyung again.” Yoongi rolls his eyes when Jeongguk stiffens at that. “Seokjin rarely ever lies when he's like this, so, he's probably right when he says that Taehyung put his foot in his mouth, and he's definitely not the asshole you make him out to be.”

 

“But—” Yoongi holds up a hand before Jeongguk can give a rebuttal. “You have every right to feel angry still. Especially since you told him to leave you alone, but he doesn’t get it. He should wait until you’re ready — that’s the penalty of his mistake. And you can stew for however long you want, but, you probably should let him apologize to you one day.”

 

Jeongguk opens his mouth before he lets out a sigh, “...fine. But I won’t promise that I won’t deck him if he keeps insisting on talking with me because I really don’t want to see his face for a long, long while.”

 

“You're telling me as if I care.” Yoongi looks amused, “the boy can suffer as much as he's due. I'm just doing my civic service. Now, you going back to the restaurant for dinner?”

 

“Huh? Er… no. I told noona I was coming here, and she wouldn't have saved me any food. She knows Jin-hyung usually tries to stuff me full if I come over any time that's around a meal time.”

 

“Great. Then you can help me finish the food if I order takeaway. I want to eat from this store, but they have a minimum order for free delivery.”

 

Jeongguk pauses, glancing over at Seokjin before raising an eyebrow. “You sure it's not just because you're lonely, Yoongi-hyung? I mean, Jin-hyung pretty much might as well not be here.”

 

“I literally just said it's because I need you to help me to finish the takeaway.”

 

“Sure, Yoongi-hyung. I believe you.”

 

“You're such a little shit, you know that Jeongguk?”

 

~*~

 

“Ugh. He's still like this?” Daniel groaned, as he watches Seokjin quietly wipe at the counter, the faraway look still in his eyes.

 

“What do you mean, Daniel?” Yoongi raises an eyebrow from where he's sitting cross legged on the counter. He watches as Seokjin methodologically cleans around him before disappearing into the pantry. “The deadline isn't up yet. He still has more than two weeks left.”

 

Daniel sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose, “this was a really inconvenient time for him to accept a problematic commission.”

 

“I mean, he can still answer whatever question you want to pose to him.” Yoongi raises an eyebrow.

 

“No. I mean, I just really needed a stiff drink with a few friends,” Daniel rubs his face, “Dealing with Junho’s gang is really getting on my nerves.”

 

“Junho… That's the idiot who leads the coven who’s been doing the Dongdaemun attacks right?”

 

“Yeah,” Daniel sighs. “They ran. Of course. So now we're trying to find them again. Doesn't help that there seems like there's some new trouble in Jeju, and so, some of the hunters in Seoul have gone to check it out. And I don't really want to take on Junho’s gang unless we're at full force.”

 

Yoongi tilts his head, “sounds tough.”

 

“Nah.” Daniel admits after a while. “No tougher than usual actually. I feel better after whining. In a way it's good I can't go drinking. I don't really have time to drink and possibly nurse a hangover. And actually, I should go. Hyejung wanted me back at the restaurant.

 

Some light fixture broke or something, and Hoseok's out. Jae’s useless when it comes to this kind of thing, and Jeongguk's been off recently, so she doesn't want to disturb him.”

 

Yoongi snorts, “the two of you coddle that boy too much. He's not in an actual funk. Just some… relationship problems.”

 

Daniel blinks and then narrows his eyes at Yoongi. “Okay, you know what, I don't need to know. Got enough on my plate without a teenage werewolf’s romance problems. I'll leave you and Jin to deal with that.”

 

“Such a responsible foster father.” Yoongi shakes his head in amusement even as Daniel takes his leave with a wave of his hand.

 

It's only until Yoongi is sure that Daniel has left that he turns to address the questioning pair of eyes that are boring holes into his face, “yeah. He's gone. You can come out now.”

 

There's an exasperated warmth in his eyes even as Seokjin tosses the cloth at Yoongi's face. “Yah. I thought we were going to play a prank on Daniel? What happened? I waited for so fucking long.”

 

“Well, we were, but then Daniel got kind of serious, and I know I'm mean, but it would have been kind of weird to prank him after that.”

 

“That's never held you back before.” Seokjin raises an eyebrow, “getting soft in your old age?”

 

“No, considering yours, old man.” Yoongi smirks, sliding off the counter. “You just went on an acid trip for more than two weeks straight. You must be exhausted… delicate.”

 

“I'll show you delicate,” and Seokjin mines putting Yoongi in a headlock, which only serves to make Yoongi's smirk widen. But it's immediately wiped off his face at Seokjin’s next accusation; “I bet you just wanted me all to yourself after practically two weeks alone.”

 

Yoongi is almost natural in the way he stiffly stares at Seokjin and says, “you wish.” But Seokjin has been together with Yoongi as master and familiar; as friends, that he simply grins and replies, “you missed me.”

 

They sort of have a stalemate there, Yoongi glaring and Seokjin grinning, until Yoongi raises his eyebrow and folds his arms. “Well, I guess that I'll eat all the takeaway I ordered then. You can get your own food.”

 

Seokjin’s jaw drops. “You wouldn't.”

 

“You know I would.”

 

Seokjin does know. “Fuck you. If I order takeaway now it's going to take another hour to come. Actually no, screw that. It's peak period now. I'm not going to get my food until 10 pm.”

 

Yoongi shrugs, “too bad then.”

 

“I'm your master, Yoongi. Are you going to let your master starve— wait, don't answer that.”

 

Yoongi smirks. Seokjin glares at him for a moment, before the glare worryingly softens into a more thoughtful look. And Yoongi's hackles rise a little as he early watches Seokjin pull out his phone from his apron. “What are you doing?”

 

“Oh. Nothing. Just changing this week’s fish order from halibut to cod.”

 

“But… I hate cod.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

There's a slight tussle for the phone that ends in a compromise: of Yoongi sharing the takeaway if Seokjin doesn't change the fish order. And if they end up both on the couch after stuffing themselves silly with too much beer-battered fish and chips, watching reruns of Running Man on the TV as they were probably going to be even before the rather pointless argument, no one would be around to call it out anyway.

 

And if Yoongi shifts after a while, turning so that he can rest his head on Seokjin's belly, closing his eyes when Seokjin's hand cards into his hair, their actions louder than words that they will never say, well, no one is going to call that out either.

 

Chapter Text

“Hey, Yoongi?” Seokjin looks up from counting the money in the register. “Did… Taehyung come over while I was in my inventive sprint?”

 

“... You mean our conspiracy theorist?” Yoongi’s ears perk up before they lower again. “Not that I remember. Only Jeongguk did.”

 

“Yeah. I remember that part.” Seokjin sighs, thinking of the completed memory charm sitting on the table. He has yet to think of what to do with it. “Thankfully, I came out of it before I offered the charm to Jeongguk, or worse, called Hyosang and told him about it. I shudder to think what he might do if he knew.”

 

Yoongi's stare looks even creepier today while he's in the form of a Cornish Rex. “I still don't know why you're friends with him.”

 

“He cared more when his original crew was alive.” Seokjin said softly, “he was a better man then. Now… well, it’d be worrisome if he didn't have any friends left.”

 

Yoongi eyes Seokjin, “you are seriously too nice for your own good.”

 

Seokjin snorts. “I won't dispute that fact. But in Hyosang's case, not really. It's a mutual thing: we don't have many good friends who will live as long as we do, and he's a helpful friend to keep around. Plus, he's still a great drinking buddy.”

 

“I could be your drinking buddy.”

 

“Yoongi, you need to drink at least ten bottles of hard liquor to get even remotely tipsy.”

 

“Yeah, so?”

 

“I want to get drunk, not go broke. Plus, it isn't fun when one of us is drunk and the other is nowhere near drunk.” Seokjin points out as he closes and locks the register, before bundling up the big notes to add to the collection to be put into the bank.

 

“Then go drinking with Daniel or Hoseok. Why that asshole?” Yoongi grumbles as he jumps off the counter to follow after Seokjin. And as they pass through the door, Yoongi is no longer in his animal form, instead standing straight on two legs in his human form.

 

“Daniel is fine, Hoseok has terrible alcohol tolerance actually. But either way, neither of them are free enough to afford a night of drinking, plus a morning to nurse their hangover.” Seokjin snorts as he makes his way to the pantry. “Anyway, we got sidetracked. Taehyung. You sure he didn't come in at all? Maybe he ducked in and then went out before we could talk to him? There was this whole week where he did that, until he came in during a quiet enough period so we could catch him.”

 

“I'd have felt him enter if I did. So yeah, not at all. He didn't even come within walking distance of the shop.”

 

“Hmmm…” Seokjin frowns as he opens the fridge. “I wonder if he's avoiding the shop.”

 

“Well. It's possible, and if he is, it might be because he's trying to avoid Jeongguk.” Yoongi goes to the cupboard to get the plates to set the table.

 

Seokjin balances a couple of tupperware boxes as he closes the fridge door. “Jeongguk doesn't come here that often though.”

 

“Mmm, but Taehyung doesn't know that.” Yoongi starts pulling out a couple of small plates before changing his mind and pulling out bigger ones. “Maybe he finally figured that chasing Jeongguk around is only gonna make him madder, and so he's literally swung the other side of the pendulum.”

 

“And started avoiding him everywhere possible?” Seokjin pursues his lips as he starts up the gas stove. “That probably would make Taehyung quite miserable. He doesn't strike me as the sort to be patient.”

 

“He's annoying.” Yoongi announces, putting the plates down before turning back for the cutlery. “But I suppose if he's really trying to avoid Jeongguk so that he won't piss Jeongguk further, then maybe I might reevaluate my opinion of him.”

 

“You find him annoying?” Seokjin raises an eyebrow as he opens up one of the tupperware containers and dumps a whole handful of greens onto the pan. “Then why do you keep playing with that cat toy he gave you when you think no one is looking?”

 

Yoongi nearly drops the chopsticks he's holding. “Wha— I do not!”

 

Seokjin grins, looking up as he reaches for the salt, “I have video evidence.”

 

“You do not!”

 

But before the conversation can inevitably degrade into a yelling fight that would be more suitable happening between two five year olds rather than two centuries-old beings, Yoongi suddenly straightens, casting his eye at the door. “Oh—? Jisoo’s here.”

 

“Huh?” Seokjin pauses before yelping when hot oil splatters onto his hand. “Ow!”

 

Yoongi snorts, even as he turns fully in time to see the person he'd announced coming through the storage room door. “Jin-oppa, Yoongi-oppa, I could hear you two yelling from outside. You two are like… kids.”

 

Seokjin huffs a little, adding a bit of water to the pan before covering it with a lid and turning around. “Is that anyway to greet your oppadeul, Jisoo-ah? At least say hello or something before you get to the insults.”

 

“At least she called us ‘oppa'.” Yoongi points out in amusement.

 

“Yeah, Jin-oppa, at least I call you ‘oppa'.” Jisoo barely looks up from her phone, but her lips have curled into a small smirk.

 

Seokjin knows his glare will have zero effect on Jisoo, and so he glares at Yoongi instead (not that it has effect on Yoongi either, but at least Yoongi is looking at him), “not helping.”

 

Yoongi shrugs, “I'm only saying the truth.”

 

Seokjin sighs, shaking his head. “Ah… I give up. Jisoo, have you eaten?”

 

“Uhuh. Hyejung-unnie made me eat before I came over.” Jisoo pauses, sticking her tongue out of her mouth as she furiously types something on her phone. “Anyway, Daniel and Hoseok oppadeul are both busy, Jeongguk-oppa has class and Jae is off being a lazy ass as usual, so there's only me to come pick up the new batch of supplies.”

 

Seokjin blinks. “New batch of supplies?”

 

But Yoongi is already moving over to the storeroom, and after a moment of shifting things around, comes in with a huge box filled to the brim with bottles and smaller boxes. “Here.”

 

Seokjin stares at the box. “I don't remember making all that. When did I make all that?”

 

“Two nights before you broke out of your acid trip.” Yoongi lets Jisoo inspect the contents of the box, the teenager finally putting her phone down for a moment. “Scared the hell out of me when I woke up in the middle of the night only to see your face lit up by nothing but the glow of your cauldron.”

 

Seokjin blinks at that. “I was working in the dark? Why the fu-freak was I working in the dark?

 

“You don't have to censor your words in front of me, Jin-oppa,” Jisoo says in a monotone, picking up a bottle and squinting at it. “I'm not Haru. I can take you saying a few ‘fucks' here and there.”

 

“I don't know why you were working in the dark,” Yoongi ignores Jisoo’s words. “Something about it improving the strength of the holy water you were brewing. Which makes absolutely no sense. But whatever.”

 

Seokjin makes a face, moving to the table and taking the bottle that Jisoo is holding, holding it up to the light. And then after a moment, he uses his finger to draw a shape onto the glass of the bottle, and both Jisoo and Yoongi let out a yell of surprise when the symbol glows a bright, almost blinding gold.

 

“Holy fuck— give us a warning next time before you do that!” Yoongi hisses, rubbing at his eyes.

 

“Language, Yoongi.” And Jisoo’s glare only intensifies. “And I didn't know it was going to do that. It usually isn't this strong.”

 

Yoongi pauses, “wait. That means that working in the dark makes the holy water you make stronger?”

 

“Apparently,” Seokjin puts the bottle back into the box. He scratches his neck before he turns around to check on his vegetables.

 

“But… why?”

 

“Hell if I know. I don't even remember making these.” Seokjin's vegetables are done, so he takes them off the heat and plates them up.

 

“Right. As much as this is fascinating and all…” Jisoo reaches into her pocket, pulling out a piece of paper. “The next order.”

 

Seokjin blinks, nose wrinkling at the amount of things written on it, “huh. Is this for Daniel alone?”

 

“No,” Jisoo goes back to typing on her phone. “Whole of the hunter alliance here. It’s been really busy lately. Even Hyejung-noona has to help out nowadays.”

 

“Yeah… there’s the situation in Jeju right? And I think Hoseok texted something about Daejeon? Some… faerie problem cropping up because of the location, the full moon and some new building they constructed? Oh… and Suwon. Does Daniel know what's been causing all the dead bodies?”

 

“Suwon…” Jisoo pauses for a few moments. “Not too sure. Looks like it might be spirits actually. But they're not sure. Because it might be spirits.”

 

Seokjin sighs at that, “the only medium I know is all the way in Britain. It's really hard to deal with spirits nowadays because mediums are even rarer than before. And it doesn't help that it's so hard to tell when people who say they see ghosts are lying or not.”

 

“Uhuh.” Jisoo shoves her phone into her pocket, before moving to pick up the box. Neither of the other two move to help her — they know she's more than strong enough to carry the box to the door herself. “Well, that's it. You can probably just text in the group when the new batch of things is done.”

 

“Yah. Not going to say goodbye properly to your oppas?” Seokjin complains, making Jisoo pause in the doorway.

 

“What for? I'm going to see you again aren't I?”

 

“Not for a while, unless you're planning to come over again soon,” Seokjin points out. “And you rarely come over.”

 

“Well…” Jisoo raises an eyebrow. “Maybe if you make me more charms I will?”

 

Seokjin tilts his head, considering for a second, “what sort of charms are we talking about?”

 

“Mmm…” Jisoo blinks, and if she's taken aback by the question, she doesn't show it.  "Well, I really want to dye my hair, but I can't, because I'm in school. And it's really annoying to just do it in the holidays only to dye it back when school starts…”

 

“So… a charm that can change your hair colour?” Seokjin sighs, before shrugging. “Why not. It should be simple enough.”

 

“Really?” And Jisoo does look genuinely delighted for a moment. “Yay! Okay. Thank you, Jin-oppa!”

 

“Oof—” Seokjin barely manages to catch Jisoo when she suddenly puts the box back down only to fly into his arms for a hug. “Seriously, you're worse than Jeongguk. You're only nice to me when you get something out if it.”

 

“Yah. Where's my hug? I’m going to be contributing most of the magic to make those charms you know.” Yoongi complains even as Seokjin rolls his eyes. And Jisoo pulls away to look at Yoongi consideringly, “true. Then I guess, thank you Yoongi-oppa too!”

 

Seokjin rolls his eyes even harder to Yoongi's gloating expression. “Alright. Did you need a cab, Jisoo?”

 

“Nah. The cab is outside. The cab driver agreed to not run the meter for me, said he wanted to come by this area to grab some food anyway.” Jisoo grinned, pulling away. “But yeah, I should get going. Bye, oppa-deul.”

 

Seokjin watches the door until he hears the sound of the door closing, and only then does he go back to the stove, starting up the fire again. “Feels as if things are moving really fast these days.”

 

Yoongi chuckles, “well, it is the age of the internet.”

 

Seokjin give Yoongi a wry stare. “Pretty sure that should mean the supernatural world would slow down even more. We don’t even need to interact much in person with anyone really and still be able to survive — get food delivered, get anything delivered actually.”

 

“True.” Yoongi shrugs, “I don’t know. Could be just the energy in the air. Affects people in weird ways. Or just the way the universe works — you know. When it rains, it pours.”

 

“I suppose.” Seokjin sighs, tilting his head. “Well, I suppose we should get this order done then.”

 

“Really? I thought we should do Jisoo’s hair charm first.”

 

Seokjin blinks at Yoongi before he snorts. “Yeah, that is true. Jisoo’s hair charm is definitely more important than supplies that are meant for hunters to protect the balance of the human and supernatural worlds and preventing everything from descending into chaos.”

 

Yoongi grins, “I like the way you think.”

 

Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Go wash the cups.”

 

~*~

 

Seokjin does make Jisoo’s hair charm first. He insists that it's only because he wants a little something to relax first before taking on the massive amount of orders.

 

(Of course, Yoongi knows better. But he lets Seokjin have his lie. It makes no difference either way.)

 

~*~

 

“You know, I think this is the first time I've seen you cry properly since that first time I saw you in the hospital, all the years ago after Daniel picked you up.”

 

Jeongguk jerks up from the bed in surprise, eyes very red and very wide in a conglomeration of shock, anger and pain. But the snarl that had been lashed to the tip of his tongue dies as his brain finally processes the information that his eyes see, and utter confusion floods him. “J-Jin-hyung?”

 

“The one and only.” Seokjin smiles, tilting his head. “You seem to have gotten your face a little dirty. Here.”

 

And he offers a handkerchief to Jeongguk, who takes it automatically. He still can't quite believe what he's seeing right now, but the pinch to his arm hurts, so he can't be dreaming, right?

 

“So, what's wrong?”

 

“You… why are you here?”

 

Seokjin blinks, “me? Oh. I came here to bring Jisoo her hair charm. Technically, I'm a little bit late about it, since she did ask me three days ago, and it is very important of course. But well, since I'm here, thought I might check up on you and all.”

 

Jeongguk can't help it, he laughs despite himself. “What? That's… T-that's ridiculous, hyung.”

 

“It is, isn't it?” Seokjin smiles sadly, taking the handkerchief from Jeongguk’s hand, and gently reaching up to wipe at the werewolf’s tears. The cloth feels soft, gentle, and refreshing, probably having a ton of charms woven into it. But maybe the action is counter-productive because more tears well up in Jeongguk's eyes, spilling over the minute the old ones are wiped off. “H-hyung… d-don't…”

 

“Don't what? Show that I care for you?” Seokjin says dryly, not ceasing in his actions. “Or maybe I shouldn't tell you that the rest are worried about you two, after you stayed locked in your room for two days and wouldn't tell them what was going on.”

 

Jeongguk makes another sound, finally pulling away and pressing hands to his face. “Ugh. I'm fine. Really. I-I just… I'll be fine. Tell them not to worry.”

 

“Tell them yourself.” Seokjin retorts, gently reaching out to gently pry Jeongguk's hands from his face. “That or maybe at least try to pretend? It's automatically worrying when the werewolf with a normally bottomless appetite isn't even eating the meals left outside his door.”

 

Jeongguk sniffles again, before sighing. “I'm just not hungry?”

 

“Which means either a bad stomach flu but that's nearly impossible thanks to your werewolf immune system. Or you're really in such a bad state that you aren't hungry.”

 

“But w-why did they call you, hyung? I-it's not that important t-that you have to leave your shop. You're not s-supposed to, right?”

 

“Again, werewolf with normally bottomless appetite is not eating.” Seokjin reiterates, before squeezing Jeongguk's hands. “And why I'm here is because Hyejung called, and she has this distinct idea that you tend to tell me all your problems, even though you usually keep to yourself. Didn't even realize that.”

 

Jeongguk lets out a sound that could possibly be mortification, and Seokjin gently ruffles his hair. “So yeah, I suppose we should get down to usual business?”

 

“It's… r-really nothing, h-h-hyung.”

 

“Uhuh.” Seokjin pauses before shrugging. “Also, you're right.”

 

“...H-huh…?”

 

“About me leaving the shop. You're right. I'm not supposed to. It's not bad, but it's risky.” Seokjin reaches out and pokes Jeongguk's cheek. “But I'm not going back until you tell me what's wrong, so you should really get to it before Yoongi probably dies of anxiety.”

 

Jeongguk makes a worryingly choked noise that actually does panic Seokjin for a second, but after a moment, Jeongguk is up and properly leaning into his arms for a hug, and Seokjin smiles when he hears Jeongguk mutter tearfully, “you're such an idiot, hyung.”

 

“Less insulting, more talking about yourself.” Seokjin warns jokingly, even as he squeezes Jeongguk tight. “But seriously, take all the time you need.”

 

Jeongguk sighs, and he is quiet for such a long time, that Seokjin almost thinks he's fallen asleep. But then, Jeongguk sucks in a breath and says, “I… Kim Taehyung. He came to find me two days ago.”

 

Of all the things that Seokjin had possibly imagined, that certainly is not one of the scenarios that had come up. “Kim… Taehyung…? Like, the conspiracy theory customer I have, Kim Taehyung?”

 

“Yeah. That… guy...” Jeongguk sucks in a shaky breath, and in the time that he takes to gather his next words, Seokjin's mind wanders trying to figure out what Taehyung could have even done to render Jeongguk to such a state. The only thing Seokjin could think of, is Taehyung maybe bothering Jeongguk again — but that would result in Jeongguk storming into the shop to demand for the memory potion at the most extreme. Not… Jeongguk holing himself in his room crying.

 

“He… he helped Junghyun pass on.”

 

It takes Seokjin a really long time to digest that sentence, and even then he still has to ask, “Junghyun… that was, your… brother's name?”

 

It's probably bad that Seokjin's honest reaction to Jeongguk's choked, “yeah,” is even more confusion.

 

Finally, choosing his words carefully, because he doesn't want Jeongguk to shut down on him, he asks, “so… Taehyung talked to you about Junghyun? Maybe passed on a message… And then said that he had passed on.”

 

“Yeah… Well—” and Jeongguk's next words come out in a rush. “Not exactly told… Junghyun was mute, so apparently that means he's still mute as a ghost. And so Taehyung copied the signs, and fuck, he signed to me that I used to crawl into Junghyun’s bed when I was five because I t-thought there were m-monsters outside my w-window… a-and… it must have been J-Junghyun… I… he…”

 

“Taehyung wouldn't have known that.” Seokjin finishes for Jeongguk, his voice so soft that it really is pretty much a lie of how he's actually feeling right now. Because he's really screaming in bewildered excitement inside right now; because the consequences of that statement are astronomical, really.

 

But he holds it back, because as exciting as this revelation is, Jeongguk needs him right now. And so, he jams the excitement into a corner and asks instead, “want to tell me the whole story?”

 

“Huh?” Jeongguk shudders a little in Seokjin's hold. “Oh… There's n-not much to tell. Kim… he. He just suddenly confronted me again, and obviously I got angry. But then, he signed and told me all that and I realized he wasn't lying and then—”

 

Seokjin waits, even as Jeongguk chokes through a sob. “He… he said that Junghyun has never left my s-side… hyung… hyung has been watching me all this while. A-and now… and now he's gone-uwooo…”

 

And Seokjin simply runs his hand down Jeongguk's back, just quietly waiting. He idly thinks, in his mind, about how he's glad he's charmed his clothes to be waterproof. Not that he actually cares about his clothes. But more because he needs to think thoughts like these otherwise he'd be too caught up in the emotions rolling off from Jeongguk. And it’d probably be really dumb if this ended up with Jeongguk consoling Seokjin because he started crying far too much instead.

 

And so, here he is, trying not to let his heart ache as Jeongguk lets out another sob, clutching at Seokjin like his heart is breaking.

 

Finally, Jeongguk seems to calm down a bit, even if the calm seems to have stemmed from exhaustion than anything else. “Jin-hyung…” He asks quietly, turning his head to the side, so that he can lean his temple onto Seokjin's chest. “Why does it hurt so much?”

 

Seokjin doesn't know why, he's never really known why, but— “it's probably because you had to say goodbye.”

 

“But Junghyun is at peace now though. I should be happy right?”

 

“Maybe. Or maybe not. I feel like all goodbyes are sad… even if they're good goodbyes… or happy ones. There's always a feeling of melancholy surrounding any goodbye.”

 

Jeongguk sniffles, even if his lips curl into the smallest of smiles. “That's too deep for someone who's not a h-hundred years too old to un-understand, hyung.”

 

“Nonsense,” Seokjin pokes Jeongguk's side lightly before he resumes the smoothing motion on Jeongguk's back he's been doing. “Your heart already knows all if this, even if your brain doesn't understand.”

 

“So it's okay that I'm sad? I… J-Junghyun-hyung wanted me to be happy t-though.”

 

“Silly.” And Seokjin kisses the top of Jeongguk's head. “You can't be happy all the time. And sometimes… you need to be sad first, before you can be happy. Yoongi said once, that we only really understand what it means to be happy after we understand what it means to go through tragedy.”

 

“S-sounds like Yoongi-hyung is better at this consoling thing than you are, Jin-hyung.”

 

And even though they both share a chuckle, Seokjin actually agrees. Because, he's actually really terrible at helping to process emotions. He's great at feeling them. Sure. But he's more the guy you come to when you want a distraction, or if you're just tired of feeling sad and want a change of pace. And most people don't realize, but Yoongi is actually the one more well-equipped to deal with such situations: he's bad at feeling emotions, sure. But people forget that feeling and processing are two entirely different things. And Seokjin would have sent Yoongi out any time, but it’s have been even riskier to have Yoongi out of the shop than him, so here he is, pretending to be good at consoling people.

 

“Sorry, Guk-ah. But until you can move your sad ass over to the shop, you're stuck with me.” Seokjin snorts, “but you can be sad for as long as you want. This is just my opinion, but Junghyun isn't the one who’s being left behind, so he can stick it if he's being impatient.”

 

Jeongguk makes a face, laughing as he shakes his head, “hyung!”

 

“What? I stand by what I say.” But Seokjin is glad, that at least Jeongguk still has the strength to laugh.

 

“Hey. Don't disrespect my brother, okay? Even if he's… he's—” Jeongguk's words cut off suddenly, expression crumpling. And immediately, Seokjin tightens his hold.

 

It's another long moment before Jeongguk is able to speak again. And when he does, his voice is soft, pained. “I… I'm just so tired of crying, hyung. I wish I could just… get over it.”

 

Seokjin pauses, “I… Don't take this the wrong way, but… in my experience, no one ever really gets over something like this—”

 

And he feels Jeongguk's stuttered breath and rushes to continue. “No— hey. Listen. You might not get over it, but… it's like. It's sort of like scars.”

 

“...Scars?”

 

“Yeah.” Seokjin nods, “you know, the wound hurts most when it's fresh, and it takes a while, but it heals. But more of than not, for such a big wound, there's a scar. And a scar… doesn't ever really go away.”

 

“And at first, it's probably gonna hurt whenever you look at it. Because it reminds you of what happened. Might even tempt you to carve open the wound again.” Seokjin pauses, gently placing one hand on the inside of Jeongguk's arm, the werewolf having pulled it away to curl around himself. “But… there will come a time, when you look at them… and you'll be okay with them. You learn to live with them. And sometimes, you might even be able to find beauty in them. Because as much as they had hurt, these scars are makes you what you are now.”

 

And Jeongguk looks up at Seokjin then, and the witch barely refrains from letting out a whoop of relief, because Seokjin can see the hope in Jeongguk's eyes. “You really think so, hyung?”

 

“Yeah. I do. It might take some— a lot of time in your case maybe. But,” Seokjin smiles and uses his thumb to wipe away the tear tracks on Jeongguk's cheeks. “It will happen. And until it does, not just me, but your whole family will be there for you.”

 

Jeongguk looks down for a moment, before he whispers, a tender expression on his face, “hyung told me… it was okay to call you guys my family too. That I shouldn't be afraid to let new people in.”

 

“Well, your hyung is right. But go at whatever pace you're comfortable with, alright?” Seokjin uses his finger to bop Jeongguk's nose lightly. “No pressure at all.”

 

And Jeongguk squeaks a little before wrinkling his nose. “Alright, alright. I got it.”

 

“Good.” Seokjin nods, before holding out his arms again. “I know we’ve been hugging quite a bit. But today’s a special day after all. I’m out of the shop for once. So you know, more to celebrate?”

 

Jeongguk snorts at that before his lips curl into a smile. “I’m not a teenager. I’m not insecure that hugs will threaten my coolness or masculinity.”

 

“Mmm… good. Then I’ll take your word for it.” Seokjin says as he wraps his wide arms around Jeongguk’s lean frame again. And his smile widens when Jeongguk own arms hug tightly around his waist.

 

After a while, Jeongguk lets out a long sigh, dropping his head onto Seokjin’s shoulder. “Ungh… Kim. I probably am going to have to apologize to him, aren’t I?”

 

“Well, in the first place he really wasn’t so nutso since he was actually right about a lot of the supernatural world.” Seokjin notes, “but it seems… even I was wrong about him too.”

 

“Mmm?”

 

“Nothing to worry about. You just take your time with what you want to do with him.” Seokjin replies, even though in his mind, he knows he probably going to have to take care of the issue of Kim Taehyung and what he actually is soon.

 

~*~

 

He doesn’t take care of it soon.

 

But it’s not particularly his fault. Because, the moment after he gets down from Jeongguk’s room and tells Hyejung that Jeongguk is okay, the sigh of relief has barely past her mouth before Hyejung hands him a piece of paper, an apologetic look on her face. Seokjin isn’t really able to totally hold back his own sigh after he takes a while processing the request written on it and the amount of work he'd have to do to complete it. “...Fuck.”

 

Seokjin only notices the awkward silence after a moment, and when he looks up, Haru is there in Hyejung’s arms. She waves cheekily at Seokjin like the little devil she is. “Hi, Jin-ajussi.”

 

Seokjin is just thankful that Hyejung looks more resignedly amused than anything else.

 

But it does mean that the moment he returns back, he discusses with Yoongi immediately about maybe closing the shop for two weeks — a week or so to get the order done and another week for buffer and getting a little recuperation in. And maybe if Yoongi had been the sort of curious to ask Seokjin about Jeongguk, he possibly wouldn't have forgotten. But, asking would be opening a talk where feelings are involved and so, obviously, Yoongi doesn't ask. He might be good a processing emotions, but he claims to be some sort of allergic to them. And so all he does ask is if Seokjin would have any loyal customers at this rate because he had to close the shop for the afternoon too. Yoongi had refused to cover, even for a couple of hours.

 

“Well, I could always post on instagram, or… twitter or something. Say that I’m going through some financial or family problems.” Seokjin shrugs, “maybe make a gofundme for good measure. To make it feel legit.”

 

“Sounds like a pretty solid plan.” Yoongi agrees, “not even entirely a lie really. But er— maybe without the gofundme part. People would totally donate and then what are you going to do with the money?”

 

“Huh? What? Nah, why would they do that?” Seokjin snorts in disbelief. “I’m just some random shopkeeper that sells juice. Why would people donate?”

 

(It's actually very much later, after the shop reopens when a couple of his customers asks Seokjin about the gofundme that Seokjin even remembers about it. And when he goes online, he's stunned to find that it had actually blown up on the interwebs a bit, and has crossed his goal of 50 000 won about ten times over.  And he has to go on all platforms to explain that he didn’t actually need the money — that the family situation had been real, but he was more than solvent enough to pay for his own stuff and the gofundme had been because of a bet with his friend and he'd lost, thinking no one would actually contribute to him. But he donates the money to some nature conservation thing on Jeju so it all ends up okay in the end.)

 

~*~

 

It's nearly some time after 4 pm in the afternoon when Seokjin finally finishes the order.

 

4 pm in the afternoon after maybe a week of working on it straight with barely two hours of sleep in between days, that is.

 

Seokjin lets out a noise that sounded like it should come out of some old, cranky polar bear instead of the good-looking young man he looks like. Despite staying up for most of the four days, he still looks somewhat fresh despite his complaints, his hair still soft, smooth and shiny.

 

“I'm the one who should be making that noise.” Yoongi grumbles, sprawled out over the tables.

 

“Excuse you. You're a demon, your body can stand far more abuse than mine. Seriously, I feel like I'm dying.”

 

“Well, maybe if you stop feeding unnecessary magic in those appearance charms you wear, you might feel a little less like dying but look more convincing when you're complaining— fuck! Jin!”

 

It's probably only because of his many years associating with hunters that he probably even manages to duck down just as something sharp slices through the air where his head had been, because heaven knows he was born a pretty uncoordinated man. And even then, he spends some time half sprawled on the floor, scrambling to get back onto his feet.

 

It takes Seokjin a moment to realize that the person who had attacked him is by the staircase landing, hunched over in wheezing laughter. And it takes an even longer moment before he realizes that he knows thus laughing, wheezing, hunched-over asshole of a person.

 

“Fucking hell— Hyosang?” Seokjin glares at the hunter angrily, not needing to look at Yoongi to know his familiar probably had his claws out, fur standing as he hissed at Hyosang. “What the fuck was that for?”

 

“Just wanted to see if you still remember your training.” Hyosang smirked, before pointing at the knife that had embedded itself into the wall after he’d thrown it. “Also, I bet you haven't been polishing your knives and blades so you can keep that one.”

 

“Fuck you, Hyosang.” Seokjin scowls, picking up his chair from where it’d fallen over. “You know I hate fighting, and using magic like seonsaengnim did. Does. I don't fucking know. Why are you even here?”

 

“I see my presence brings out the unrestrained side of you.” Hyosang's smirk only widens. “It's much better than that fake, polite and wise show that you like to put on.”

 

“First of all, screw you, I am polite and wise to people who deserve it.” Seokjin rolls his eyes, turning around to keep the batch of glamour charms he'd just made so that he can pass them over to… well, whoever comes to collect them, Seokjin isn't too sure who Daniel will send anymore. Maybe he’d have to escort Haru to the taxi come Sunday or something. “Second of all, you haven't answered my question yet.”

 

“Hmm? Question?”

 

“What the fuck are you doing here?”

 

“Is that any way to treat a customer?” Hyosang smirks as he walks forward, ignoring the hiss sent his way.

 

“What customer?” Seokjin double checks the amount of charms before closing the box with all the orders inside.

 

“Why… me, of course.” Hyosang grins as he pulls out a paper, holding it out to Seokjin. “I'd like to commission this.”

 

Seokjin doesn't even glance at the paper, moving to get the tape to seal the box, “no.”

 

“Yah, you didn't even look.”

 

“I don't need to look to know that I wouldn't do it.” Seokjin pushes past where Hyosang had stepped in front of him to block his way. “You might be a brilliant hunter Hyosang, but that brilliance has always come with too high a cost.”

 

“You haven't even looked at it.”

 

Seokjin groans, and then pointedly bends forward to stare at the paper Hyosang is holding out, but the mocking expression turns into alarm and Seokjin's lips thin. “What the fuck is that? It looks like some kind of… holy water—”

 

“Grenade? Yeah. Because it is.” And Hyosang waves the paper again to try to get Seokjin to take it. “This way we could deal damage to a large bunch of vampires with just one blow. It's brilliant, isn't it?”

 

“Brilliant my ass, it's a terrible idea.” Seokjin draws back, scandalized.

 

“Why? This is just like my water gun commission. It'll make fighting vampires more sufficient.”

 

“The water guns were fine! And I'll even admit they were a good idea, because that way you could shoot at a distance and stuff.” Seokjin grounds out, “but a grenade like this… What if you harm innocent vampires in the area as well, or what about when we're fighting with vampire allies?”

 

“Obviously I wouldn't use it in those two cases.” Hyosang’s eyes narrow, “did you think so little of me?”

 

“No… I—” Seokjin sighs, glancing at Yoongi, who is still crouching to pounce, yellow eyes trained warily on Hyosang. “As much as Yoongi hates you, and as much as I think you're fucking ridiculous a lot of the time, I still think your judgements are sound.”

 

Hyosang frowns, “then why don't you—”

 

“Help you create what you want? Because it's essentially too dangerous a weapon that could be misused.” Seokjin folds his arms. “And don't tell me it won't be. Once it's created, it's essentially out there in the open for anyone to take the idea and misuse it.”

 

Hyosang frowns, still looking wounded, “I wouldn't go give this to anyone else!”

 

“No, fuck. You're not getting it.” Seokjin unfolds his arms and pokes a finger square into Hyosang’s chest. “Listen. The moment other people see it's out there, they are going to want it. And people are going to know — you're the famous hunter, Kidoh. Anyone who's anyone will know. They'll figure out what you used, and they're going to want it. And even if they don't come to me, someone else is going to figure out how to make it. And then where will that leave us?”

 

“With awesome holy water grenades.” Hyosang rolls his eyes, “it's not rocket science, Seokjin. If I could think of it. Then I'll bet that someone is already working on it. I'm just trying to give the good guys an edge here.”

 

“Then you can wait until that someone else figures it out, and then you can buy it from him.” Seokjin rolls his eyes, “it's one thing for me to enchant your Super Shakers, or invent a capsule bullet containing holy water; but it's another thing entirely to create something that causes mass damage like this. Einstein regretted helping make the atomic bomb. And I'm not about to disregard history like that.”

 

Hyosang's lips have thinned, gaze turning that bit stormy as Seokjin turns to leave. He looks like he's bare inches away from grabbing Seokjin's collar and shaking him, and Yoongi’s threatening snarls only increase. “Seriously, you're no fun. I'd ask your teacher, but Taiji-nim is laying low these days.”

 

Seokjin snorts, “even if you can find him, he'd probably refuse. Heck, he'd refuse to make your dumb capsule bullets. Say it'd take out the romance of fighting.”

 

“You don't seem to know your teacher very well, I'm sure he'd be itching to go at the challenge.”

 

“No, that's me.” Seokjin's smile is flat, holding no amusement. “This wouldn't be a challenge for Seonsaengnim in the first place. Now, is that all? If it is, then you can leave.”

 

Hyosang’s expression darkens further, but he takes in a deep breath before shifting his stance, the aggressive position standing down. “Fine. But I'll just leave it here and you can— ow! Fucking—”

 

“Yeah, what Yoongi said. No thanks. But, fouler.” Seokjin smirks, satisfied at seeing a little blood on Yoongi's claws. “And if you even dare threaten Yoongi, I'm going to give him full permission to maul you, heal you, and then let him maul you again.”

 

Hyosang looks up at Seokjin, glowering, but his hand eases off his gun, jaw working as he switches his cautious glare between Seokjin and Yoongi. And Seokjin enjoys the scene before he gets distracted by his phone ringing, glancing at the caller ID before answering. “Daniel?”

 

Seokjin's smug expression slowly turns, his back straightening as worry rushes across his face. “What?”

 

It says something about Hyosang’s and Yoongi's instincts that they both immediately stop glaring at each other and look over at Seokjin at that single word, questioning looks on their faces. They both know something is up.

 

But Seokjin ignores them for now. “...Yeah. Yeah. Of course— Daniel. Stop. I left the shop when Jeongguk holed up in his room and we didn't know what's wrong, and I— yes, I know it's more dangerous for Yoongi to leave, but— Daniel. Daniel. Calm down, I'm sure Yoongi will agree.”

 

And Yoongi’s ears have flattened again his head. He has a feeling he knows what Seokjin and Daniel are talking about, but Hecate… He's kind of hoping he's wrong.

 

“Uh… yeah. Yeah. Text me the address. I'll— yeah. Of course. Ok… wait.” And Seokjin glances at Hyosang, “how many are with you?”

 

A pause, “two…? No, that's— three isn't much better Daniel. I'll— no, obviously I'm not going to leave the shop too. But… I might know someone who can help. Yeah,” and Hyosang blinks when Seokjin looks meaningfully at him. “He's a wild card. But he usually ends up being a one-man army. Yeah. I'll get him to liaise with you. Call me if you get more details… yeah. Yeah… bye.”

 

Hyosang look of confusion has solidified a little more into dry amusement, even as he taps a finger on his thigh. “It's funny. But did you just send me out on a job as if I worked for you?”

 

And Seokjin looks up from typing on his phone to frown at him in confusion. “What are you talking about? A vampire coven just took four hostages and are about to kill them. I'm just sending you to do your fucking job, Kidoh. Or are you no longer the famous hunter, shining beacon of example for all other hunters out there?”

 

Hyosang's mouth opens as if he's about to say something, and Yoongi snickers when he closes it shut again with a click. “Right. Where is this coven hiding?”

 

“Sending you the details now. As well as the details of another hunter clan who are already on their way to do a rescue. We should hurry a little.” Seokjin presses the send before dumping his phone onto the table. “You'll need supplies right? I'll go get them for you.”

 

“Another hunter clan. I presume it's the Lee Clan, since you said ‘Daniel' and they're the only ones active in the area. Ah… so this is Junho’s coven. Daniel was too benevolent. Should have just attacked Junho without warning that first time. Then this wouldn't have happened.”

 

“We can have the debate later.” Seokjin rolls his eyes as he hobbles over to the table with a whole box filled with bottles, rows of bullets, and several guns. “Take whatever you need.”

 

“Wow. Christmas came early.” Hyosang grins, whistling as he picks up one of the guns, admiring the gleam in the dull light, angling it just so he can see the sparkle of the numerous, strong enchantments over it. “You're letting me take this?”

 

“You seem to have gone more mercenary than I last saw you so…” Seokjin brings out a tray with an assortment of silver jewelry and puts it down. “Consider it payment, as long as you promise me one thing.”

 

“Yeah? And what is that?” Hyosang asks as he disassembles the gun, admiring how smooth the slide is.

 

“You leave the werewolf the fuck alone.”

 

And Yoongi closes his eyes for a moment, sighing an inaudible sigh. But the next time he opens them again, he's standing, feeling the shadows drift across his hand as he warms up a power he hasn't used in a long, long time. “Yeah. That one belongs to me.”


Chapter Text

Waiting has always been hard.

 

Seokjin knows that it can't be helped. It's just the inevitable result of all his decisions over his many hundreds of years that have led him to this point. It's having been born without much natural coordination, his broad body good for strength and lifting things in sedate manners but not much else. It's discovering that he has a flare for the traditional way witches crafted things, even if he made things untraditional; and in that vein, disappointing his teacher, who wielded and crafted things on the fly, inventive in his methods, if not his motivations — but the end result is that Seokjin doesn't like to use his magic to fight the way his teacher does.

 

It's deciding, those years back, after he's dropped in on Seoul to meet up with Daniel after wandering around for the longest time; to aid him in providing for the inventory needs of the hunters here in Seoul, who’d been understaffed and under-equipped for all the work they had to do; and even if Seokjin couldn't help with the first problem, he's more than over-qualified to help with the second. And it's tying himself to a place, even if it limits his freedom and makes him vulnerable to those who would attack him. Because tying oneself to the land is not unrewarded — bringing more power and stability, improving the strength of the charms, potions and spells he makes, refreshing faster that he can make more. Because this shop is as much him as is his own flesh and bone, and so this shop is both his strength and weakness; and without Yoongi, a familiar to help protect it, Seokjin would not have even bothered with the thought.

 

It's letting Yoongi go help Daniel and his family without a second thought; because Seokjin has always been careful to never to let himself harden his heart, as those who have lived too long tend to do — so that there would be no space for kindness and care inside. And he would give whatever he could to save those four boys trapped in a dangerous situation, to save all of his friends and make sure no one would die this night. It's knowing that things are already risky enough as they are, that even if going would reduce the weight and anxiety in his heart, he stays. Because Yoongi alone outside is risky enough; the both of them gone would be too tempting an open target for anyone lying in wait.

 

It's all this, that has lead to what Seokjin has to do now: sitting unmoving as he stares into the cloudy crystal ball, his heart thrumming with anxiety and worry as he watches and waits.

 

Seokjin knows all this.

 

But still, it doesn't change the fact that waiting has always been hard.

 

~*~

 

Seokjin thinks he's never been so still in his whole life. Scrying balls are temperamental things, and even the most sedate and stable sometimes can clear up if you so much as twitch the wrong way. And he doesn't want to miss a thing, not as Yoongi practically wrestles the transformed Jeongguk down into the basement. Or he tries to, at least. Yoongi isn't built for strength: he's built for agility and a shit ton of dirty fighting. And normally magic could solve that — but Seokjin is too far away to give him more than a tiny bit of additional help.

 

It takes a whole lot more than a little self-control to do nothing but wince a little, as he watches the destruction wrought. But he forces himself, because no one wants Yoongi out for the shop for longer than necessary; and it's really up to Seokjin to call Yoongi back to the shop the moment the fight is up.

 

Well, okay, so maybe Yoongi could just have used their telepathic link to give Seokjin a heads up, but whatever. It can be a little dodgy at times at such a far distance, offering nothing but vague feelings instead of concrete words. And tonight, Seokjin isn't going to take any chances.  

 

(And maybe he's less worried about himself and the shop, and more worried about the fact that Yoongi has to fight Jeongguk, and it doesn't matter how strong Yoongi has gotten over the years living with Seokjin; he's going to be holding back for sure. And Seokjin just fears that he'll hold back too much, and that the damage thought as necessarily during the heat of the moment becomes debilitating in hindsight. And Seokjin just doesn't want to think about it. He doesn't even want to entertain the thought far enough to think about what he might do if that happens.)

 

So, the moment the fight ends and Yoongi has managed to wrestle Jeongguk into his holding room, chaining the transformed werewolf down to make sure he doesn't escape, is the moment that Seokjin calls Yoongi back to his side. He's up before Yoongi even fully materializes, stepping forward and ignoring the grumbling ping of magic warning that he hadn't yet disabled the scrying spell, so that he catches Yoongi before the familiar can even so much as swoon.

 

There's pain radiating through the bond they have now. And Seokjin lets out a protective growl before he can help himself. “You idiot.”

 

Yoongi laughs, the sound a little high and thin and breathless. Seokjin both wants to hit him and bundle him up in bubble-wrap at the same time. “Yeah. Well. You would know me best.”

 

“Don't shift back first, okay?” Seokjin murmurs, even though Yoongi already knows this. His hands are glowing with a soft light where they touch Yoongi's form, and the familiar’s eyes flutter closed at the warmth radiating from them. “Your hands feel nice.”

 

“Do they?” Seokjin grunts a little as he half carries Yoongi towards the bedroom. Maybe he should have called Yoongi only after he'd walked there himself.

 

“Mhmm…” and Yoongi smirks a little as he shuffles along, the beaded sweat on his forehead the only outward betrayal of the pain he's feeling. Seokjin is tempted to just dump him roughly on the bed. The show of bravado is annoying him.

 

But he doesn't. And instead, gently helps Yoongi onto the bed. His hands move with a practice ease, settling Yoongi down and gently peeling off the blood soaked clothes, not even batting an eyelid at the massive bites and scratches on Yoongi's arms. “Jeongguk really used you for a chew toy, didn't he?”

 

Yoongi opens his eyes, glancing down as Seokjin gently inspects Yoongi's arms, gently dabbing a cloth to the deep marks etched into Yoongi's skin. The sting is less than you'd expect — the cloth having been dipped in a potion Seokjin had prepared beforehand. There’s probably something in it to numb the pain. “Well. Better me than the rest. You know how pups are sometimes — gotta grind their teeth down on something to ease the growing pain.”

 

A snort, “seems a little bit more than that. Maybe he's getting back at you for teasing him so much.”

 

“Yah. You're the one who teases him, not me.” Even as Yoongi watches, the wounds grow less angry, less pronounced.

 

“True. I guess maybe it's just because it's a werewolf thing then.”

 

“No shit.” Yoongi laughs before they lapse into silence. Seokjin has already moved on to slathering ointment onto Yoongi's wounds.

 

Then, “yah. Why do you have that look on your face?”

 

“What look on my face?”

 

“The one— ow, watch it— the one where you're thinking “this is worse than I thought”, the one that makes you look like you're holding back a fart.”

 

Seokjin ignores that second part. “Oh. I don't know, maybe it's… oh, shocker, because your wounds are worse than I thought they were?”

 

Yoongi snorts before wincing when Seokjin presses down a little bit on his wounds in retaliation — they weren't all that bad then, if Seokjin can still joke around. “Thought you set up your proper scrying ball to watch?”

 

“I did, but that doesn't mean I get to watch clear LCD screen 4K footage you know. It's still pretty shitty.” Seokjin closes the ointment jar, squinting at the wounds as if he can see something Yoongi doesn't before nodding in grim satisfaction. “It just means I don't have to stare at your ugly mug the whole time through and then guesswork my way through what else is happening from the sounds.”

 

“My mug isn't ugly.”

 

“My regular ball makes everyone look ugly. Plus your face is annoying.”

 

“Why is my face annoying mufph!”

 

Seokjin chuckles at the noise before he removes the wet cloth he'd slapped over Yoongi's face. “Because you have a bad habit of putting on a poker face in a tough situation. Makes the guesswork even more annoying.”

 

Yoongi glares up at Seokjin, his face glistening with water. “Is my face a poker face now?”

 

“No. But is this a tough situation?”

 

“Pretty tough. I'm being accosted by a wet cloth and all.”

 

“Yah. I even used your favourite lily scent to charm this water.”

 

“Well, thank you, I guess.”

 

“...Maybe I should have used my regular scrying ball after all. Laughed inappropriately at your distorted face.”

 

“Please, it’d just have been creepy. Especially with the pink cast you normally giggle about. Nothing romantic about werewolf roars. Unless your kink is dismemberment.”

 

“Well, before I met you, I met someone in England that—”

 

“No, don't say it. Don't you fucking dare. I'm enjoying my master pampering me and giving me a lily-scented sponge bath right now. Do not need gore scenes in my imagination right now.”

 

“I'm not using a sponge.”

 

“Details.” And they stare at each other like that, Seokjin with an annoyed glare, and Yoongi with a shit-eating grin. It lasts for about maybe ten beats before they both break down into laughter.

 

“You're such an ass you know.” Seokjin finally sighs, pushing a lock of hair out of Yoongi’s face. “I worried. A lot.”

 

“Yeah. I know,” Yoongi replies quietly, reaching up and gently squeezing Seokjin's hand. “I worried too.”

 

“Mmm…” Seokjin squeezes Yoongi's hand before placing it gently down. “It'll take maybe an hour before the wounds close enough to shift back. I'll be back to check on you again.”

 

“Mmm. And what are you going to be doing in the meantime?”

 

“Making the potions for Jeongguk of course. The world doesn't stop turning just because you got your ass handed to you.”

 

Yoongi grumbles under his breath that his ass hadn't been handed to him. And that he'd have won in ten seconds flat if he hadn't been going easy on Jeongguk. It's not untrue, so Seokjin just leaves him to it.

 

“Ah— right.” Seokjin ducks back into the room as he remembers something. “Taehyung. How bad were his wounds?”

 

“Er… are you seriously asking a demonic spirit to judge human wounds?” Yoongi pauses before he notices the look on Seokjin's face. “Right. It wasn't as bad as mine, I guess? But he had some serious gouges in his arm?”

 

“Ugh. Sounds like it might leave a scar. I'll make something for that then.” And with that, Seokjin turns around and walks off.

 

Yoongi blinks at that, because… it's one thing to sneak protection items onto a human, who wouldn't be able to discern the effectiveness of them; but it's another thing entirely to make them a potion that would magically help to heal serious wounds and leave no scars where there should be? But it's only a moment before he shrugs again, unconcerned.

 

He's quite used to Seokjin doing whatever the fuck he wants after all.

 

~*~

 

Seokjin does come back in after an hour as he'd promised. And he smiles a little when he notices Yoongi fast asleep, taking a moment to admire the way the lines in Yoongi's face ease in the wake of unfettered sleep.

 

No one would believe Seokjin if he ever said Yoongi's face is normally guarded, unless they’ve seen Yoongi while he’s asleep. But since Yoongi has never slept in his human form in front of any person other than Seokjin; and since most people aren't too good at distinguishing between feline expressions, it is probably a fact that Seokjin will get to keep all to himself.

 

He doesn't quite mind the thought really.

 

But what he does mind is accidentally waking Yoongi up. Because as much as Seokjin jokes, he does think Yoongi has worked hard today and deserves the rest. And so, he is quiet as he checks on the wounds, noticing with satisfaction that they've neatly healed — the ointment, and the magic he's been pumping into Yoongi, having done their work. There would be nothing to show that Yoongi had even be hurt by the morning.

 

He's turning to leave, silently packing all the tools, when he hears the grumpy whine. “Are you trying to get out of cuddling duty?”

 

Seokjin blinks, turning back around in surprise. “I was trying not to wake you.”

 

“Yeah. And shirk on cuddling duties.” Yoongi shifts, lifting up his hands to stare at them. “...I don't know why I'm even bothering checking. Of course it's healed. I can switch back to my other form right?”

 

“Er— yeah, but you can just stay in this form too? I mean, the extra magic I'm supplying to help you sustain that form is negligible.” Seokjin tilts his head in confusion. Yoongi should know this.

 

“Yeah. But—” Yoongi groans, stretching out, and even as Seokjin watches in even more confusion, shrinks his form down into that of his true form. “This form gets me better cuddles.”

 

“You were serious about the cuddles?” Seokjin is starting to wonder if he'd maybe added the poppy in too late and now he's having a fever dream.

 

“Why wouldn't I be serious about the cuddles? Go pack up and then come back. The bed is cold. My delicate body can't take such cold.”

 

Seokjin just stares for a moment, wondering what has gotten into Yoongi. Sure, Yoongi can be surprisingly cuddly and clingy and attention-seeking when he's in the mood (especially if he's feeling any sort of neglected). But he's never admitted it outright, instead usually opting to wordlessly glue himself to Seokjin's person, or to passive-aggressively needle Seokjin into asking Yoongi if he wants the affection before grudgingly accepting it. Plus, Seokjin had figured this would be one of the times Yoongi would have prefered to be left alone to lick his wounds in peace, and maybe be greeted by breakfast in bed the next morning (fish and rice with a plethora of banchan. Seokjin has already ordered the halibut to be delivered at the crack of dawn). Apparently not.

 

“Hello? You okay there? Did you inhale too many poppy fumes again?”

 

“What?” Seokjin snaps out of his reverie before he squints at Yoongi. “No. I was just… wondering why you're admitting you want affection so easily today.”

 

A pause.

 

And then Yoongi flicks his tail before rolling onto his back, sticking his belly out. “I demand tummy rubs.”

 

“...Are you…” Seokjin hazards, “...actually starting to crash so hard that you don't have the energy to pretend not wanting affection when you actually do?”

 

Another pause.

 

The laugh that escapes Seokjin's lips is more like an incredulous wheeze. “Oh… Hecate. You really are!”

 

“Oh, shut up.” Yoongi grumbles, “yeah, so maybe I am. You better enjoy it while it lasts.”

 

And Seokjin laughs a little longer this time round, but he hides it behind his mouth, shoulders shaking as he turns around. Yoongi is glaring grumpily at him by the time he's done. But, it doesn't bother Seokjin as he says, “you know what, I think I will.”

 

It still takes him another half an hour before he's done clearing up and cleaning up. His hair isn't totally dry as he walks back in, flinging the towel onto the end of the bed. But he's tired, and Yoongi's tired, and he'd be lying if he said he wasn't looking forward to curling up in bed with his warm, furry friend; a comforting weight on his chest as he slept.

 

Yoongi is starting to feel the full effects of his earlier actions, barely stirring even when the light from outside shines, too bright, onto the bed, and so Seokjin doesn’t say too much as he slides under the covers, gently gathering Yoongi into his arms. Yoongi doesn’t so much as shift a little to get comfortable, before he’s still once again. And Seokjin smiles over the fuzz near his nose, his mind beginning to drift as he’s slowly lulled by darkness and warmth into sleep.

 

As per usual, his mind wanders one last time over the list he has to do come morning — get up obviously, start breakfast once the halibut comes, say a quick prayer of thanksgiving to Hecate that they had closed the shop for the week so Seokjin doesn't even need to think about how he would even tackle making all those juices on his own, and then maybe check on the potions he'd made for Jeongguk and Taehyung, because he had sort of made them in an admittedly sleepy haze; and he isn't too sure if he messed any of them up.

 

Ah right, he probably will need to get one of the Lee Clan to get Taehyung to come visit him. As often as Taehyung visits him, his visits aren't exactly clockwork after all.

 

Mmm… yeah. That was all, right? Seokjin thinks so, but why is there this niggling feeling in his gut that he'd forgotten something? Something about Taehyung. Taehyung…

 

“Oh. Fuck.

 

Yoongi probably won't forgive him any time soon for the rather sudden tumble to the ground.

 

~*~

 

“Wait… you're saying Taehyung is a what?”

 

Seokjin sighs, scratching the back of his head. “You heard what I said.”

 

Hoseok stares at Seokjin a little longer, “how did you even find out?”

 

“Jeongguk didn’t tell you?”

 

“Uh… to be fair. I've barely had time to talk to him. Literally every time we meet we have to rush for some job. And now he's kind of locked in his room again. Refuses to talk to anyone.”

 

“Ah. Well. Long story short, Jeongguk found out that Taehyung really could see ghosts because Taehyung helped his older brother move on.”

 

“His brother? You sure?”

 

“Yeah. Jeongguk said that Taehyung told him something only his brother could have known.”

 

“Oh. Shit.” Hoseok takes in a deep breath as the words Seokjin say begin to sink in. “Wow. So… Taehyung is really…?”

 

“Uhuh.”

 

“A real …?”

 

“Yup.”

 

“Like… in a total ‘I see ghosts’ sense?”

 

“...Yes, Hoseok. That's the general definition, yes.”

 

“Sorry.” Hoseok runs his fingers through his hair sheepishly. “Just… wow. This is like… stuff I've only heard from stories.”

 

Seokjin chuckles, eyeing Hoseok warmly. “I do think that if Taehyung ever heard you say that, his mind would be blown. To him, you're also essentially ‘stuff he's only heard from stories’.”

 

Hoseok’s laugh is still edged with a tinge of disbelief. “Wow, how did you even miss that, hyung?”

 

Seokjin sighs, “it's not like I have a surefire way of finding them out.”

 

“He never said anything about seeing ghosts though?”

 

“Oh no, he did. But it was always mixed among things he'd been doing to seek out vampires. Plus, I never didn't believe him, per se. Just that I thought he has maybe some low level of sensitivity like a lot of humans do, and is able to see blobs or white figures or something, and the rest of the details is just his usual word vomit filling in the void.”

 

“But still…”

 

“Hey. Lots of humans say they can see ghosts and it turns out to be a sham. Plus, Taehyung has never tried to come to MANA after hours.”

 

Hoseok nods at that — that is admittedly how Seokjin usually finds out if someone is connected to the supernatural community.

 

“The only other thing is possibly him seeing Yoongi's true cat form while he's shifted into other breeds, but Yoongi’s always appeared in his true form in front of Taehyung. Something about Taehyung needing to know exactly who didn't like him.”

 

“Yoongi doesn't like him?”

 

“He says he finds Taehyung annoying. I think it's just him doing that thing where he's actually fond of someone but pretends he isn't.”

 

“Like with Jae.”

 

“Everyone's like that with Jae.” Seokjin shrugs.

 

“Uhuh.” Hoseok laughs, his chime-bell laugh ringing in the room. “Oh. Speaking of Yoongi-hyung. Where is he?”

 

“Yoongi?” Seokjin blinks before a honestly unholy grin spreads across his face. “Oh. He's right here.”

 

And Hoseok watches in mute amazement as Seokjin reaches into his front apron pocket and pulls out what looks like a tiny black lump of fur. “...That's Yoongi-hyung?”

 

“Mmhmm.” and the lump doesn't so much as move when Seokjin places it down onto the table. It only slowly flops open from sheer gravitational forces to reveal a tiny black kitten. “Delayed onset magical soreness. He hasn't used his powers like this in a while, and now the after effects are really kicking in.”

 

“...Did you just make a pun on delayed onset muscle soreness?”

 

“It wasn't intended as a pun.” Seokjin admits, before gently using his finger to rub one of Yoongi's floppy ears. His familiar purrs, sleepily nudging into the finger. “But it fit.”

 

“...This is less DOMS and more a complete personality change,” Hoseok says as he stares. “You sure that's Yoongi-hyung?”

 

“Unless I managed to switch out a magical bond to a new familiar without realizing — yes, I’m pretty sure this is Yoongi.”

 

Hoseok snerks, taking out his phone. “This is amazing blackmail material.”

 

“Already took 101 videos and backed them up in a drive that Yoongi doesn't know about.” Seokjin grins.

 

“Awesome.”

 

“Speaking of last night…” Seokjin reaches out from behind the counter, gently curling fingers across Hoseok’s cheek, trailing up to the hunter’s temple. “You okay? You were bashed up pretty badly.”

 

“I hope you say that because of professional opinion, and not because you saw the video Junho made, kicking my ass.” But Hoseok leans into the touch, his eyes wrinkling in soft mirth.

 

Seokjin blinked, his lips thinning. “What video?”

 

“Er—” years of well-honed hunter instincts are sounding off right now in Hoseok's head. “Did you… not see the video? How did you know I was bashed up?”

 

“I started scrying you the moment I heard the news from Daniel.” Seokjin's eyes are narrowed. “Well. Okay. I checked up on Jungkook and Taehyung first to see if they were alright. And then I scryed you and I saw you getting tied up by some other vampire, not Junho, alongside some other guy who was out cold. Taehyung’s friend I think. He was quite rough with you while doing so, but now you're saying Junho beat you up too?”

 

Hoseok pauses, before laughing weakly. He suddenly realizes the probable reason why Daniel hadn't shown Seokjin the hostage video. “Ah— well. I'm fine. It's fine. Everyone got out fine. Kidoh and Daniel came in guns blazing to rescue us. And Taehyung and Jimin — that's Taehyung's friend, are in the hospital, but they're fine too. Jeongguk's being a little stubborn because you know how he is. He's being all dramatic and punishing himself by being a bit stubborn about drinking your potions. But he'll be coming here for the second dose soon, and he's fine too really. We're fine. All fine. Everyone's fine and dandy.”

 

“...” Seokjin eyes Hoseok before he sighs, tone almost a little regretful. “Kidoh killed Junho, didn't he? Would have been good if he'd left Junho alive.”

 

Hoseok's second laugh is even weaker as his arms flail a little. “Ahh… it's fine. Really. Part and parcel of being a hunter. To be honest, I think Jeongguk did more damage to me when he knocked me into the wall while we were trying to get him into the basement.”

 

Seokjin takes a breath in, squinting at Hoseok. “And you’re sure you're fine? I have a new formula for a healing potion I was working on that's supposed to be more effective. I can try brewing it for you—”

 

“It's fine!” Hoseok squeaks for the hundredth time, and no one listening in could be entirely sure if he's so anxious because he doesn't want Seokjin to worry, or he's worried about maybe being a guinea pig for Seokjin’s potion. The last time someone other than Yoongi had tested one of Seokjin’s ‘new formulas’, Jae hadn't stopped glowing purple for a week. “Really! Your regular potions did magic as usual. Almost can't tell I got banged up now. And I got Hyejung-noona to spoil me a little and that's always good.”

 

“Mmm you're always healed up by the time you come by.” Seokjin pouts a little, but he seems to accept this, gaze softening. “Makes it hard to spoil you.”

 

“You can't expect me to drag myself all injured to your shop, hyung,” Hoseok laughs. “Besides, you don't need a reason to spoil me. I'm always happy to be spoiled.”

 

“True.” Seokjin grins before he leans over, pressing a soft kiss to Hoseok's forehead, and with it, a small blessing of safety and a burst of happiness — like he always gives to Hoseok in various ways. “But promise me, if you're injured, and it's closer to the shop, you'll come straight here.”

 

“Don't be silly, hyung.” Hoseok shakes his head in amusement as he straightens. His cheeks are pink, the thrill of Seokjin's magic warming them, “of course I will.”

 

“Good.” And Seokjin straightens as well, looking back down at Yoongi; mostly to stop himself staring at Hoseok. He lets Yoongi nibble on his finger before scratching under Yoongi's chin. “Anyway, do you think that you could somehow get Taehyung to come here? I need to tell him about this. And I wanted to pass him some potions and poultices for his arm anyway.”

 

“Sure. Last I heard, he was still stuck in the hospital. But I'll just text him or something to ask him to visit you.”

 

“Mmm. And if he takes too long, drag him bodily down.” Seokjin gently picks Yoongi back up, softly depositing him back into his front pocket. “He says he has a ghost in his room, and I don't know how long the ghost has been there, but it’d be bad if they've lingered for too long.”

 

“Oh. Urk. Ok. Noted.” Hoseok makes a face. “Man, these few months have been really exciting. But hopefully it'll die down, and we'll return to having one or two small incidents in half a year.”

 

Seokjin's lips thin as the fact of Hyosang's presence flashes in his mind. And somehow he has a feeling that everything that had happened were only signs of things yet to come. But all he says is, “I hope so too, Hobi. I hope so too.”

 

~*~

 

“How long do you think it'll take for him to notice we're here.”

 

Seokjin only answers with a shrug, continuing to watch Taehyung open and close the shop door with his head propped up, elbows leaning on the counter.

 

It's been maybe five days since the Dongdaemun incident — as what the community has coined it. And Seokjin has been feeling a little weird about how quiet everything has been.

 

It feels a little like a sonic boom had happened, the mess having left a hollow and disorienting silence in its wake, and Seokjin feels a little like he's doing everything under water — everything too slow and too muffled, and shouldn't there be a little more urgency? But he just continues on with his chores, ordering supplies, taking inventory and tying loose ends of his work, and all the while, there's a part of him, a jumpy, paranoid part, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

 

It's a little better by the second day, because Yoongi is back to his regular, snarky self, having regained all the energy he'd expended. It's like some semblance of normalcy has returned, even though nothing is really different from the day before while he'd been an adorable ball of limp fluff.  He's still lying around not doing anything to really help. But, Seokjin supposes it's more like confirmation — that things are settling back, life shifting back into status quo.

 

But Seokjin also supposes that this weirdness might be caused by his anticipation: he's waiting for Taehyung to arrive, really, and all his work is but a distraction to fill up the time in between. And for once, Seokjin's is quite grateful for Taehyung’s drive for action; because he might have started whining if Taehyung is anything like Jeongguk and takes forever and a half after being nagged to visit to actually visit. As it is, Hoseok informs him two days later that Taehyung had been discharged and would visit the moment his family would let him go.

 

Apparently, Taehyung is rather worried about arriving after the shop is closed, Hoseok forwarding a couple of adorable messages. But Seokjin tells Hoseok not to spill the beans — that Taehyung would be able to come in, no matter what time of day.

 

Although, right now, as amusing it is to watch Taehyung's confusion, it's also getting a little bit sad. And Yoongi knows this, giving Seokjin a look before jumping off the table, “I'll wait for you two upstairs.”

 

Spoilsport. And Yoongi calls Seokjin the softy. What a lie that is.

 

Seokjin waits a bit, watching Yoongi's sleek black tail disappearing around the corner before calling out to Taehyung:  “Something wrong with my door?”

 

He has to hold back his laughter when Taehyung jumps and spins around, the door smacking his foot before it clicks back shut. He looks so nervous, the poor thing. "Er. No.... I don't think the lock's working. Um… Hoseok hyung said you wanted me to come by? But it's late and you're closed so I can come back tomorrow."

 

“Oh. No. My lock works just fine.”  Seokjin checks on it every day after all, to make sure the charms and spells on it are functioning, “and it's never late when my shop never closes.”

 

At least, not for those whom this shop had really been opened for.

 

“But before anything else,” and his eyes go to the sling around Taehyung's arm. “Do you think I could take a look at that arm of yours?”

 

Taehyung expression is a little like he can't understand why Seokjin would want to do that. Not that Seokjin really blames him. It's cute though, when Taehyung looks down at his sling as if to check if there's something more special about it than he'd thought. "Er… well it's a whole lot of white bandages. Unless you mean take the bandages off which I've been told my mother will beat me for."

 

Seokjin pauses, pursing his lips as he takes that into consideration. “Well, it’d be possible with the bandages on, but it’d be much easier with them off… Tell you what. I'll take them off, but once I'm done, I'll put them back on exactly the same way, and your mother won't even notice.”

 

The expression on Taehyung's face is one of bemusement as he looks back up at Seokjin, “uh… sure, I guess? Why though?"

 

“Well, as much as human medicine has advanced, I'm willing to bet gorges that deep are going to leave a scar. And maybe it’d be better for character development or something, but I'm a soft and doting hyung, and Jeongguk probably is going to wallow in eternal guilt if he sees so much as one nick of evidence of his attack on you.” And Seokjin gently places a gentle hand on Taehyung’s sling once the human has walked around the counter, pausing for a moment as he lets his magic assess the damage — yup, four long and deep gashes as ordered. Jeongguk had done quite a number on it. Must be keeping up good fingernail hygiene. “Hmmm… I think it’d be better to do it upstairs though. Would you follow me?”

 

Taehyung stares up at Seokjin, looking even more perplexed, but he follows after Seokjin nevertheless. "Sure?"

 

But there's a look on Taehyung's face that makes Seokjin hide his grin, mentally counting down in his head for the questions he knows are coming.

 

Three… two… one...

 

"That— How do you know Jeongguk, anyways? And Hoseok? You, uh… you know what they do?"

 

Seokjin does laugh this time. “I know Jeongguk and Hoseok because I know Daniel. Met him years ago on my travels. It was pretty fun: coming back to Seoul and meeting him by accident, and then finding out that he's now head of his clan and has a wife and several adopted children. He found Jeongguk a few weeks after I came back to Seoul, actually. Wanting to make sure he grew up alright was one of the reasons I decided to tie myself down here with this shop.”

 

Taehyung's face is almost priceless as he tries to figure that one out. And he looks like one of those internet memes that Jae likes to use, with the confused looking people and mathematical formulas flying around in the air. They're about halfway up the stairs to the second floor when Taehyung finally blurts out, "how old are you?"

 

There's probably a joke there in which Seokjin could pretend to be offended, but he thinks of the night ahead and takes pity on Taehyung instead, deciding to think seriously on the question asked.

 

But he has to pause on that, eyebrows furrowing. Huh. How old is he? “...You know, I don't actually know. Maybe Yoongi does. I'll ask him when we get upstairs.”

 

And with that, he continues up the stairs, not really giving Taehyung much room to interrogate more.

 

There's another pause, before there's a scrambling up the stairs after him that makes Seokjin giggle a little. "Hyung! That's not fair, you can't leave me with a hundred questions and no answers!"

 

“I'll give you an answer when I get one,” is Seokjin's sing-song answer, voice travelling down as he finally reaches the landing. And he spies the two glowing yellow eyes in the darkness — just before the lights upstairs brighten at Seokjin's arrival. Yoongi had definitely dimmed the lights for dramatic effect. Such a drama queen really.

 

Too bad Taehyung misses this entirely, being a couple of steps behind Seokjin. And Seokjin can practically feel Yoongi sulking through their link. “Hey, Yoongi.” He smirks, voice too casual. “Do you know how old I am?”

 

“How old you are?” If Yoongi were in his human form, he'd probably raise an incredulous eyebrow at Seokjin, entirely grumpy. “How the fuck would I know? When you forced me into indentureship, you were already pretty old I think.”

 

“I wasn't that old when I met you, but fine. At least do you remember how long it was since we first met.”

 

“Hell if I know. At least a century? Maybe two? I stopped counting after I realized your ass is too hard to kill and resigned myself to an eternity of servitude.”

 

Taehyung has been standing at the foot of the landing, staring at the two of them. He looks completely overwhelmed — like he hasn't even taken in the decor yet, and the implications of what it all means. It's rather endearing really — Seokjin does loves an audience that's easy to impress sometimes. It's good for his ego.

 

“Yoongi doesn't know either.” Seokjin interrupts Taehyung's mental reverie to answer his earlier question. “But he says we maybe know each other for one or two centuries. And I'm guessing I was at least past fifty when I met him so… er. You can do the math I guess.”

 

Taehyung eyes go even more bug-eyed at them, if that is even possible. And at this point, Seokjin can almost see the steam blowing out from Taehyung's ears as his brain works overtime to process everything that has been said.

 

"Demon-cat's name is Yoongi?" Taehyung finally blurts out, pointing at the feline. "Wait. Two centuries ?"

 

“Yes. And well, two and a half centuries give or take to be exact.” Seokjin smiles at Taehyung as he moves around his cauldron, gesturing for the younger to join him. “Anyway, come over here and let's take a look at your arm.”

 

Taehyung's eyes are darting all over the place as he takes it all in, and Seokjin nearly reaches out in alarm when he half stumbles over as Seokjin had asked. But then, wide, bright eyes finally settle on Seokjin, and Taehyung looks as if he'd just gotten the revelation of the century.

 

"Are you a wizard?"

 

...Ugh.

 

Seokjin sigh, “well, technically you're not wrong. But after Harry Potter kind of confused wizards with sorcerers I tend to prefer to go by the term ‘witch'.”

 

“He's a stickler for this kind of thing. Gets on his nerves a lot.”

 

Seokjin glares at Yoongi when Taehyung bangs his sling into a shelf as he jumps at the scare. "Ow. You," and Yoongi looks far too pleased by the reaction he'd managed to get. "I remember you."

 

“Surprising actually. You looked like you were about to black out.”

 

Seokjin huffs, rolling his eyes. “There was no need to startle our guest.” And he reaches out to gently take Taehyung by the shoulders, pushing him into a chair. “Come. Hand. And then we have other things to discuss.”

 

"Um. Okay." Taehyung is still staring at Yoongi even as he awkwardly sets his arm on the table and fumbles to undo the sling. Seokjin can't help but chuff a little in amusement.

 

But his amusement disappears as soon as he sees the stitches. “Ugh. Who did these stitches? They'd leave scars for sure.”

 

And Seokjin gently uses his finger to trace symbols onto Taehyung's skin. Symbols so etched into Seokjin's being that he doesn't even need to think. One for neatness, one for gentleness, and one for movement; and slowly, the stitches began to straighten a little, shifting just that little bit. “Mmm… better. But better slather some of my poultice to be sure. Yoongi?”

 

“It would have been cool for there to be a scar though.” Yoongi comments as he brings over the jar Seokjin had requested. “Probably would have improved his general appeal.”

 

The crack flies completely over Taehyung's head, too distracted by the magic that Seokjin had just done on his arm. "That felt really weird," Taehyung stutters; "also, ow."

 

Oh. “Oops. Sorry.” And the witch quickly draws another symbol on Taehyung's arm, one to help numb the pain. He usually skips this step, too used to treating rough and tumble hunters who are used to pain and don't mind it, and would rather Seokjin use his magic on other things. “There. That feel better?”

 

“Wouldn't that symbol take away all feeling in his arm?” Yoongi notes as he places the pot down onto the table, earning a small growl from Seokjin. “Yah. It wouldn't— I wouldn't! Stop trying to undermine my credibility, you ass.”

 

But of course, Seokjin had drawn the right symbol. And a look of relief crosses Taehyung's face as he wriggles his fingers. "Much better."

 

“Good.” Seokjin smiles. Yoongi always does this to him, and Seokjin had used to appreciate it — when he'd been younger, more careless. Yoongi had kept him on his toes, to keep improving, making sure he made no mistakes. Nowadays, Yoongi just likes shitting on him. “See, I didn't use the wrong symbol.”

 

“But you totally forgot to use one to numb the pain before rearranging the stitches.” Yoongi grins even as Seokjin opens the jar lid with a grumble, “can't help that the stitches irked me so much I had to rearrange them immediately.”

 

Taehyung just blinks at them, watching what Seokjin is doing with interest. "So what's that for?"

 

“It'll accelerate the healing of your wounds. And there's something in them to minimize the chance of scarring.” Seokjin grabs a rubber glove from nearby, putting it on. “It's going to feel a little cold, probably. But it'll warm up after a while.”

 

“This is pretty strong stuff.” Yoongi adds on, “the last time Seokjin accidentally touched it without gloves, his nails began to grow at an accelerated rate and he had to cut them every hour.”

 

Seokjin glares at Yoongi. “I'm going to banish you if you don't stop.”

 

Seokjin is a little worried that might spook Taehyung a bit, because well, Seokjin is kind of putting this salve that can make fingernails grow really fast on an open wound, but he seems to be too preoccupied staring at Yoongi again to really pay attention. "So… you're a cat who can turn into a human? Or a human who can turn into a cat?”

 

Yoongi turns his attention to Taehyung, tilting his head with a smirk. “What if I'm neither cat nor human—ow! What the fuck, Jin?”

 

“Stop being cryptic and just tell him you're my familiar.” Seokjin retracts his ungloved hand from pinching Yoongi in his side, before he dumps a generous amount of poultice into Taehyung's arm with his gloved one.

 

“Are you seriously someone who can criticize me for being cryptic?” Yoongi scowls.

 

“Probably not, but since you kept trying to insinuate that I'm a terrible witch who doesn't know what he's doing, then you're not going to have any fun either.”

 

"A witch's familiar… wow." Taehyung's eyes are large with excitement and curiosity, and Seokjin’s smile turns a little doting — it's this part of Taehyung that Seokjin likes most about him. "What else about witches is true? Do you really ride on broomsticks? I guess green skin isn't an actual thing."

 

"No, the green skin thing was just a rumour that spread when the classification of witches wasn't as universal, and some people called white witches, green witches, on account of how much greenery we used in our magic. But the broomstick thing is true, even if I haven't been able to really fly around for a while now.”

 

"Woah," Taehyung breathes. "And that's why you know so much about supernatural stuff too. That's so cool ."

 

“Well, yes.” Seokjin normally might crow more at the compliment. But he's distracted as he finishes spreading the poultice on Taehyung’s wound, staring at it for a moment before nodding in satisfaction.

 

Meanwhile, Yoongi seems to have realized something, “he never really hid that much.” And a slow eyebrow is raised, “you mean to say you really had no idea what Jin is before today? Not even a guess?”

 

"No?" Taehyung's lower lip juts out in a pout as he turned his attention back down to his arm, even as Seokjin pulls off his glove, putting the lid back on the jar, “I was a little preoccupied I guess… oh." And Seokjin looks up to meet Taehyung's wide eyes. "Has Jeongguk been by? How is he?"

 

“He hasn't been by yet, but he's fine. Physically at least. Probably feeling extremely guilty for accidentally hurting you.” Seokjin begins to redo the bandages, his fingers deft and skilled. “You show a lot of concern for him.”

 

Taehyung rubs the back of his head with his good hand. "Well… yeah. He's a good guy, now that he's not decking me and stuff. And he didn't visit me in the hospital, so I was just worried if he was okay."

 

Seokjin's expression hides nothing of the fact that he thinks that there's far more to what Taehyung feels for Jeongguk than he's saying. But all he says is, “sure.”

 

“Jeongguk sure grew up well, didn’t he?” Yoongi suddenly adds, expression mischievous.

 

“He sure did.” Seokjin grins, “I would even consider going after him if I didn't see him as just a little brother.”

 

Taehyung sputters a little, and Seokjin has to resist the urge to squeal with how Taehyung's cheeks dust with pink. "Erm. It's kinda— it's late, and I'm still on strict curfew after the whole 'gang turf war' thing or whatever my mom was told, I should probably… go soon," he stammered, motioning vaguely towards the stairs.

 

Taehyung's right, even if he's just saying it as an excuse to escape; and Seokjin supposes he should stop teasing. It's time for the highlight of the night after all.  

Chapter Text

It is a little strange to see Yoongi so quiet.

 

Not to say that Yoongi isn't quiet. He usually is. For him, it's in a sort of defence really — in constant silence you can hardly give away anything that might incriminate yourself after all.

 

But he is rarely quiet while he is in his human form — he uses it for the purpose of communicating after all. So a human Yoongi usually indicates the want to talk. But right now, he is silent, even as he watches Seokjin straighten, sharing a meaningful look with Yoongi. And even without the both of them meaning to, there is a zing in the air, a charge moving like the long days of old, when white witches would be invited to auspicious events, like the coronation of a king, to give their blessings.

 

A part of Yoongi can't quite believe the ceremony they're going through for the conspiracy theorist brat. He probably hasn't even noticed the magic around him right now, let alone the honor given him with such an action. But then, Yoongi reluctantly allows that it's not like people could choose their gifts; and there could be worse people to be a medium than Taehyung, he supposes.

 

Seokjin has to hide a smile; Yoongi might not have said anything aloud, but Seokjin knows anyway.

 

However, they do have a task to do, and Seokjin flicks his eyes back up to Taehyung, the boy completely oblivious to what had just happened. “Alright. We'll stop teasing, and you're right. It's getting late. But before you go… I have some things for you to take back.”

 

And Seokjin stands before moving to where he'd placed the things he had wanted to give Taehyung, prepared beforehand and laid out on the tray. They weren't the best of things: just whatever Seokjin could scrounge up at such a short notice, and once those materials he'd ordered had come in, he'd replace them with something better. But for now, it would have to do.

 

And so these are the things he had prepared: a pack of yellow talismans, for the use of warding, still wrapped up in the plastic packaging it'd come in; a chain of prayer beads, made out of blessed obsidian, invisible runes carved into the surface with magic; a small leather pouch stuffed full with whatever purifying herbs he had on hand — sage, rue, rosemary, juniper, hyssop and horehound, and stuffed inside an inner pocket is also a lighter, charmed to never jam and to never run out of fuel.

 

Of course, there are also the colourful vials of healing potion for Taehyung's arm — but those would not be the tools of Taehyung’s trade, not like the rest.

 

Taehyung stares down dumbly at the tray when Seokjin brings it close, as if he doesn't quite know what to make of the items. Finally, he picks up the chain of prayer beads, rubbing one over with his thumb. "Hey, this looks sorta like the rosary you gave me. Is this new stock? What's it do?"

 

“It’s a set of prayer beads. It helps ward off evil spirits.” Seokjin smiles, “it seems like you've been lucky so far, meeting only friendly ones. But that might change if you decide to fulfill your role as a medium more. Sadly, the longer spirits stay here on earth, the more they lose themselves, and the more vulnerable they are to becoming poltergeists who could hurt people.”

 

"…You lost me," Taehyung looks up at Jin in obvious confusion. "My role as a what?"

 

“A medium.” Seokjin smiles gently, “that's what you are: someone who can see earth-bound spirits, and the only one who can guide them to the afterlife.”

 

For a moment, Taehyung just stares at Seokjin, it's obvious that he doesn't understand the full gravity of the situation. But Seokjin doesn't really blame him.

 

Taehyung doesn't know after all, how rare his kind really is. Rare even in a reality where everyone inside are rarities when their existence is compared to the rest of the world around them.

 

"I'm a… medium," Taehyung repeated the witch's words slowly, brow furrowed. "So that's a… a human who can see ghosts? Can’t a lot of people see ghosts though?"

 

“Most humans have some sort of sensitivity. They can sense things there, maybe see white, blurred figures. That sort of thing.” Seokjin explains patiently. “But not the way you do. From what I hear you can see spirits in a way that you can mistake them for humans, am I right?”

 

Taehyung rubs the back of his head, frowning. "Yeah, I mean the first time I met Namjoon I asked eomma why we had a hobo living in my bedroom. I don't think he appreciated being called that."

 

“Right. The spirit in your room.” Namjoon. Taehyung had talked about the spirit in his room several times, but had maybe mentioned his name once — Seokjin couldn't remember. If only Seokjin had paid a bit more attention. “And I'm going to assume you can converse with spirits easily too. Like you'd have a conversation with me. None of that needing an Ouija board or spirit box to communicate kind of thing.”

 

The younger man's eyes go wide, like he hadn't thought those tools were legitimate — but why should he when he could see and talk to spirits so clearly? "You mean people actually need those things?"

 

“I've only met a handful of mediums in all my years.” Seokjin answers in reply, “and only two others could see and speak to spirits with the same clarity you claim to do.”

 

There's a burst of emotions in Taehyung's face now: excitement, confusion, relief; and something that looks like a morose sense of loneliness, which gives Seokjin a bit of pause. "Are either of them in Korea? Is there someone I can talk to, about spirits? I want to learn more."

 

Seokjin hesitates then, “no… neither are…” he sighed, “I met both of them ages ago. One after another. They've both passed on for a while now. And the only other medium I know right now lives in Britain. And she can see them clearly, but she can't hear them.”

 

"Oh," Taehyung deflates. "So I'm alone."

 

Seokjin pauses for a moment before he chuckles. “Well, you might be the only medium in existence right now who can see and hear spirits as clear as you do, but that doesn't mean you're alone.”

 

Taehyung looks back up at the witch, expression half confused and half hopeful, hopeful for what, Seokjin could only guess. "I'm not?"

 

“No.” Seokjin’s smile is a little lopsided as he bends down to be at Taehyung's eye level. “To be honest, most of the supernatural community is like this. We're scattered far and wide, and a lot of species are the last or nearly the last of their kind. But it's because of that, all supernatural folk have a sense of camaraderie between them, no matter what they are.”

 

Seokjin pauses, before taking Taehyung’s good hand and squeezing it. “I'm sorry it took me so long to realize what you were. It must have been hard on you all these years.”

 

And it takes a while, but that expression of hope blossoms. Seokjin sees the tears gleam in Taehyung's eyes, the boy obviously controlling them, and Seokjin wants to bundle the boy up and hug him forever, because if nothing else, Taehyung hadn't at all needed to feel alone. And Seokjin doesn't have the words to apologize enough for the time that had been lost.

 

But the moment passes, and now Taehyung's face has spread into a boxy smile as bright as the sun. "It made for some interesting stories."

 

And Seokjin doesn't restrain himself now — he reaches up to ruffle Taehyung's hair.

“I'm sure it did. And now you'll have even more interesting stories to add to your belt. It's a bit slow in the supernatural community, I'll have to admit. But when things do happen it usually gets a little too exciting.”

 

"Like vampire covens leaving ridiculous body counts all over Dongdaemun?" Taehyung grins at Seokjin. "Oh! That reminds me. There's a ghost in the house the coven was using, her name's Dahyun. She's bound to the house, I guess cause she died there. She helped us find Jimin and Hoseok but in exchange I sort of promised I'd help her go back home, and… I have no clue how I'm even going to do that."

 

“A… house bound spirit?” Seokjin blinks at that, a little surprised. “Seems like you're even going about your duties as a medium without any training. But then, I'm not surprised, you helped Jeongguk's brother pass on, didn't you?”

 

"Er… sorta," Taehyung replies sheepishly. "I just tried to pass on whatever he wanted to say. My suhwa is horrible. But do you know how I could help Dahyun out, hyung?"

 

“That's essentially what a medium does. You try to fulfill any unfinished business a spirit has on this earth so that they can pass on. For Jeongguk's brother, it was passing on a message; for… Dahyun? That's her name? For Dahyun it seems like it's to help her get home. Dahyun’s is a little trickier, because we need to find out what exactly she's bound to, and then bring the item out to her house. But… I think we can do that another time. Maybe call Hoseok or Daniel to help you. Right now, I think there's someone else you should talk to.”

 

And Seokjin turns to look at the stairway, where a certain werewolf now stands, and he glances at Yoongi, standing behind him, very firmly blocking the entrance of the stairway.

 

Jeongguk looks like he's about to run. And for a brief second, he glances over at Seokjin with an expression a bit like betrayal.

 

Seokjin had called him over after all. Guilt-tripping Jeongguk into coming over. Jeongguk has never really learnt the lesson that when Seokjin wants something, he can stoop to all sorts of lows to get it.

 

It's the only thing he's inherited from his teacher that he will ever admit to.

 

And maybe Jeongguk would have run then, because fuck his manipulative hyung, but Taehyung speaks out then, his voice oddly desperate. “Hey. How are you feeling?”

 

“...Fine.” And Seokjin wants to scoff openly at that reply. Jeongguk is far from fine. He hadn't come to the shop three days ago after the transformation had past. He'd chosen to hide away instead, probably taking the aches and pains that had endured as some kind of penance for hurting Taehyung. And he does scoff softly when Jeongguk uses Seokjin as an excuse not to face this. Especially since it's clear that Seokjin and Taehyung are done. “Sorry, you’re busy.”

 

“Wait— can we talk?”

 

And Seokjin smirks a little when Jeongguk freezes, meeting Yoongi’s eyes over the stairway. Jeongguk isn't moving, but Seokjin can feel the werewolf’s reluctance shifting with just those words.

 

It's all on Taehyung now.

 

“You promised me we’d talk.”

 

And just like that, Jeongguk will stay. Seokjin can sense it. And there's a swell of pride in his chest when Taehyung turns to him and asks awkwardly, “Uh… could we…”

 

“But of course.” Seokjin smiles, his hand lifting to squeeze Taehyung's shoulder lightly. “Take all the time you need.” And then as an afterthought, he whispers. “Just try not to touch anything.”

 

He doesn't stay to see Taehyung's reaction, lifting his hand and walking towards the stairs, and he eyes Jeongguk until the werewolf shuffles away to let him pass. Seokjin gives Jeongguk a meaningful look before he straightens and says, “I'll have drinks ready for you both once you're done. And Jeongguk, don't run off before taking your healing potions, all right?”

 

He doesn't receive an answer as he follows Yoongi down the stairs. But he's sure they'll listen to him. They're good kids after all.

 

Unlike the not so good kid waiting downstairs for him.

 

“You sure it's him?” Seokjin asks softly. Yoongi had made a hand signal earlier, unbeknownst to the two kids upstairs. Someone is here. And Seokjin had also sensed the disdain through their bond. Yoongi has only felt such disdain for a handful of people in their long lifespans, of which only one of them is alive and they know is here in Seoul right now.

 

Yoongi doesn't answer. They both know that Yoongi is always right about such things.

 

~*~

 

“I was wondering if you died.” Is Seokjin's first words when he steps into the main shop hall. There's no one in sight, but Seokjin knows better. “Daniel said you just disappeared once all the vampires were taken care of.”

 

There a pause, then the sound of footsteps as a man seems to almost materialize out of the shadows of the corner. “You know I wouldn't die so easy. I was just chasing down some vampires who ran. Daniel missed a few is all.”

 

“Mmm…” Seokjin hums distractedly. “I didn't get a good sense of the hiding charm you were wearing the last two times you came. Wrought from the shadows… no wonder you keep flying under Yoongi's senses. You feel like himself. Did seonsaengnim give that to you?”

 

“Who else could have made it?” Hyosang grins, smirk only widening at Yoongi's glower. “Maybe you, I guess. But you would never make something like this for me.”

 

“No, I wouldn't.” Seokjin agrees, his expression neutral. “But I wasn't asking if he made it. I was asking if he gave it to you.”

 

Hyosang lets out an over dramatic gasp, and Seokjin just rolls his eyes in return. “Are you implying that I'd steal from your teacher?”

 

“Well,” Seokjin leans over the counter, his eyes going to the pack that Hyosang is wearing around his waist. “You stole from me, so. Stands to reason you might steal from him too.”

 

Hyosang pauses, before he snorts, reaching into his pack and pulling out a vial and what looks like a little clockwork brooch. “Damn. I should have just left.”

 

“I would have gotten someone to hunt you down.” Seokjin shrugs, tapping a spot on the counter. “Leave those here.”

 

There's reluctance in Hyosang's frame, but he does as Seokjin says. There's little else he can do anyway. He's in the middle of a witch’s lair, and both Seokjin and Yoongi are at full strength today. They would kill him if they needed to, Hyosang didn't doubt that. As much as Seokjin likes to play house and the benevolent wise man, Hyosang knows they are both cut out of the same cloth. And Yoongi is a demon after all.

 

So, he does the only thing he can do: he sulks. “If you didn't want me to get my hands on them, you should have destroyed them.”

 

“Why would destroy them when I still have a use for them?”

 

“What use would you have for them?” Hyosang scoffs, folding his arms. “That kid upstairs, the one who that werewolf brat thought was human and knew too much. He's a medium, so we literally have no grounds to erase his memory anymore.”

 

“So you did go upstairs.”

 

“It was a little hard to resist. The heralding magic that exploded up there warranted investigation after all. Wanted to see what the fuss was about.”

 

Seokjin sighs, picking up the vial and charm and inspecting it. Then he hands them over to Yoongi, who takes them and heads to the back, his eyes not leaving Hyosang until he's fully out of the room.

 

“Your guard cat is as charming as ever.” Hyosang comments once they're alone, but Seokjin ignores it, preferring instead to get straight to the point. “So, might I ask, why you decided to reveal yourself here instead of running away immediately as would have been the smarter thing to do?”

 

“I don't know. Maybe if you answer my question about not destroying the memory potion and charm, and actually quite a few other dangerous looking things in your possession, then maybe, I'll let you ask.”

 

Seokjin's eyebrow is slow. Measured. Any of the others who come in through the door now wouldn't recognize him. Probably.

 

This side of him isn't one he likes to show. His voice is mild now though — far too mild.

 

“You'll let me ask?”

 

Hyosang's eyes glitter, like broken glass in asphalt. He likes it too much, that he's managed to get Seokjin like this — Hyosang is too much of an adrenaline junkie really. “Fine, I'll answer your question if you answer mine. Fair?”

 

Seokjin eyes Hyosang for a while. Before he finally says, “I don't destroy the things I make. Because there's always a reason that I made them, even if I don't know it yet.”

 

The broken glass in Hyosang's eyes shift, and now there's surprise. But maybe the broken glass had flown into Seokjin's eyes instead, because they now narrow as Hyosang laughs in recovery, “oh man. As much as you hate to think so, you really are your teacher's student.”

 

Seokjin opens his mouth as if to say something to retort, but then he pauses before letting out a sigh and instead says, “Yoongi.”

 

Hyosang is suddenly aware of a presence behind him, and there's something hovering at his back, poised close to where his heart would be. And he stiffens, grin becoming brittle and wide, a drop of sweat slowly beading at his temple, as if he's quite unable to help it. “Testy, aren't you, Seokjin?”

 

“I'm not the testy one.” Seokjin shrugs, “that's Yoongi. I don't really care if you insult me. But—” and he raises his hand before Hyosang can speak again, “if you try insulting Yoongi, I will have to let you know, I'm really rusty doing curses.”

 

Hyosang blinks, “is that supposed to be a threat?”

 

Seokjin thinks about it a bit, “possibly. When you do a curse wrong, usually it ends up turning out worse than intended after all.”

 

Hyosang can't help himself, he laughs. “Right. Noted.”

 

“Mmm… anyway, I'd just like to note that mine and my teacher's philosophies may sound similar, but they're actually different. I honour the forces beyond my understanding. He, however, uses them as an excuse to do whatever the fuck he wants.”

 

Hyosang might have said something more, but he feels whatever is hovering at his back move yet closer, and he snorts and decides to cut his losses, “sure. Whatever you say.”

 

“I do say.” Seokjin nods, and then the presence at Hyosang's back disappears and he breathes a little easier. “So, I answered your question, now you answer mine. Why didn't you run when you could? We didn't notice you. You could have gotten Scot-free. For a while at least.”

 

And just like that, Hyosang's smile is back.

 

Which is fine, Seokjin guesses. He's known Hyosang for so long, that even his crazy smile doesn't faze him. But what does get him is that Hyosang isn't answering him. He simply keeps smiling.

 

“What?” Seokjin finally snaps.

 

“Oh no,” Hyosang continues to grin like the cat who'd gotten the canary, “it's just… you know. It's funny that we were talking about your teacher.”

 

It takes a long, long beat. But Seokjin is sharp. Not as sharp as Jeongguk or Hoseok or Daniel; but he's long been super sensitive about the matters of his teacher. “Fuck, no.”

 

Hyosang’s grin threatens to split his face now: it's so wide. “This charm is actually pretty new. Met him in Daegu actually. He got thinking about you, because he knows you met your familiar there.”

 

“No, no, no.” Seokjin's expression has completely melted from it's coolness earlier. Now, he looks like a painter who's been told he can never use his hands again. “Fuck, no. He's not— he can't!”

 

“Since when have you been able to say what he can or can't do?”

 

“Oh shut up, Kidoh.” Seokjin snaps, running a hand through his hair. “You met with him, right? Go meet him again and tell him not to come here!”

 

“What make you think I can meet with him again? The last time was a total accident.”

 

“Nothing is ever an accident with him.”

 

Hyosang shrugs at Seokjin's scathing tone, “I wouldn't know. In any case, even if I did meet him, what makes you think I'd be able to make him listen to me?”

 

“He'd listen to you more than to me.”

 

“He's your teacher.”

 

Seokjin snorts at that, “he'd have taught you instead if you really wanted. But you wanted to be a hunter, so he settled for me.”

 

Hyosang doesn't say anything in reply to that. They both know the truth. And it’d driven a bit of a wedge in them, long ago, when Seokjin had still cared about his teacher's approval. Yoongi had asked why Seokjin is still friends with someone like Hyosang. The truth is, they'd reconciled over how Seokjin's teacher had basically messed up their relatively normal lives by simply appearing in front them. His teacher is just that kind of person. “He wouldn't listen to an excuse like ‘your student doesn't want you to visit him, so go away’.”

 

“It should.” Then, “fuck.”

 

“Regardless, it won't. Plus, you just heralded the existence of a medium. He's gonna hear about it, and now he's definitely going to come.”

 

Seokjin scrubs at his face, groaning. Fuck.

 

Hyosang just fucking laughs too, “so yes. I actually only came by this area because I'm a nice person and thought I might give you a heads up instead of him just showing up and you get a heart attack. I worry about you after all, old man.”

 

“I’m only twenty years older than you, you ass.” Seokjin says distractedly, before rubbing his face. “And don't pretend to be nice. I know you were drawn here because of Junho and his coven. Letting me know was probably just an afterthought.”

 

“Maybe.” Hyosang grins, beginning to walk away. “Anyway, my duty is done. And it cost me a neat potion and charm. Ahh… being good really doesn't pay.”

 

“Yah! Hyosang! You fucking asshole immortal. I'm not done with you yet!”

 

“Bye, Jin-yah.” Hyosang grins, the bell of the shop door jingling as he opens it. “See you if I see you.”

 

“Hyosang! Wai—” but the door closes shut, and Seokjin is left alone in the hall. Not that it really matters. There isn't anything else that Seokjin had really wanted to say to Hyosang. He just hadn't wanted the hunter to leave.

 

Because Hyosang leaving just made the news he'd brought even more inevitable, as if his departure would leave a hole aching in its wake for a new arrival to fill.

 

A new arrival who probably will be Seokjin's old teacher.

 

Seokjin turns around and grabs the apron he normally wears serving juices, buries his face into the material, and screams.

 

“H-hyung?”

 

And Seokjin looks up to see Jungkook peering out for the storage room, his wide doe-eyes looking endearingly alarmed, and the annoyance and tension in Seokjin's body just seeps out. “Oh. Jeonggukie? Are you done? Where's Taehyung?”

 

“Here, hyung.” And the medium pops up from behind Jeongguk. It's adorable. They're like two little woodland creatures. Jeongguk's a rabbit, and Taehyung… Hmm. Maybe a fox. He's a mischievous as one. “Are you okay? Were you… screaming?”

 

“No, it's fine. I was just annoyed at something.” Seokjin smiles, and gestures for them to go back into the pantry. He'd gotten Yoongi to make the drinks he'd promised the two while he'd been dealing with Hyosang. “Well, I assume you two have worked things out, since Jeongguk is no longer looking like he accidentally caused a plague. Let's go to the pantry and you can tell me all about it.”

 

~*~

 

“Ahh… it's really great that you're back in business, hyung.”

 

Seokjin looks up in amusement as he adds a little pearl powder to the charm. “What do you mean, Seungkwan? I'm always in business for you guys. Unless you missed my juices that much?”

 

“Well, I did actually.” Seungkwan admits a bit sheepishly, “but it’s not the whole reason, even if it is partially because of that. But it was more like I didn't want to disturb you. I heard you were quite busy helping the Lee Clan hunters.”

 

Seokjin blinks at that. “Wow. Does word travel that fast now?”

 

“Well, there's a couple of chat rooms in Line and Kakao I think. For supernatural beings to get to know other supernatural beings. But I mostly know because of Jisoo,” Seungkwan admits.

 

“Oh.” Seokjin blinks again, his surprise even more palpable now. “Is that why she's always typing away on her phone?”

 

“Ah, yes? No.. I— I mean. Yeah, she’s probably chatting on her phone, if that’s what you’re asking. But she’s definitely not only talking to me. She's a very nice and sociable person,” and Seokjin can not control the expression of disbelief that shows in his face. “But yeah. Jisoo’s the only reason I managed to hold back the temptation of going into rampage and drowning people left and right.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yeah. There's been some punks coming to secret spring and doing stuff like drinking. I don't mind that so much, but they always throw their beer cans in after they're done and it's been getting me stressed. So I keep stress-buying new cups and bottles online, but then that awakens the instinct to fill all those new cups and bottles I bought, and well, let’s just say it was a very vicious cycle.”

 

Seokjin hears Yoongi snort, and he looks over at Yoongi with a narrowed stare to where he's lounging on a shelf in the form of a copper Abyssinian. It might sound funny when said out loud like that, but the distress Seungkwan must have felt probably hadn't been a joke while it'd been happening. “That must have been quite horrible. The charms I put up when I first came must be fading. I'll make some new ones and ask Daniel to put them up.”

 

“Ahhh… it's alright! There's no need for the trouble.” Seungkwan immediately says in alarm. “I mean. It’s good practice for me, really. I do need to learn more self-control.”

 

Seokjin chuckles, hands hovering over the small soul and concentrating for a moment. The small, marble-looking ball seems to hum before shuddering, slowly floating off the table, beginning to radiate with a warm, white glow. And after a moment, Seokjin removes his hands, before waving it off to join the cluster of similar looking glowing balls at the side of the counter. “I mean, I agree. But I’m not just doing it for you. It’s in the interest of a witch to make sure that the environment around them has a good balance of spiritual energy. And that spring in Bukhansan is one of the strongest of natural energy left in this area. It’s only natural that I would try to protect it.”

 

“Ah.” Seungkwan blinks before he grins, “well, if the happy side-effect is my home not getting polluted and I feel less stress, then I’m not going to complain.”

 

“You shouldn’t in the first place.” Seokjin smiles as he prepares to make yet another soul charm. “Always happy to help.”

 

“Mmm… you’re so nice, hyung.” Seungkwan grins back at Seokjin before his expression brightens. “Oh! That reminds me, hyung. I thought of a new joke yesterda—woah!”

 

And Seokjin too jumps a little when Yoongi suddenly runs up to the counters, meowing loudly at Seungkwan. “What the shit— Yoongi?”

 

“Someone’s coming. Human.” Yoongi says primly, making Seokjin frown at his familiar. “Yah. We weren’t exactly saying anything incriminating anyway. You just didn’t want to hear the joke—”

 

“Erm… hello?”

 

Seungkwan, much to Seokjin's amusement, immediately freezes up in an attempt to try to look more relaxed. He leans against the counter, face sort of schooled into an expression that you would think suspicious the moment you laid eyes on it. And Seokjin thinks it's actually quite amazing he managed to fly under the radar during the drownings. But then, Seokjin supposes that Seungkwan hadn't been around MANA enough back then for the shopkeeper to get a read on him.

 

Anyway, human customer. And so Seokjin straightens, waving the soul charms into a corner of the counter to hide them, and gives the guy who'd just walked in his best business smile. “Hello! Welcome to MANA 주(스)세요. How can I help you today?”

 

The young man flinches a little at the greeting, and curiously, he's wearing a turtleneck even though the weather has pretty much taken a shot up from spring into summer, the days getting warmer, more humid, Seokjin hanging up more and more cooling charms as they travel down the weeks. “Erm. I… you're Jin-sshi, aren't you?”

 

“Yes?” Seokjin answers after a pause, his eyes narrowing on this young man with his hair dyed a muted corn yellow. Somehow, Seokjin has a feeling that he isn't here for juices. And maybe not even healing stones or the curiosities on the shelves. “I am he.”

 

“Oh. Er— right. Sorry it's been a while. I… don't know if you remember me? I came here once. Kim Taehyung is my friend?”

 

Oh. Oh. Now Seokjin knows why this young man looks familiar. He had come into the shop once, but he'd been so filled with disbelief that Seokjin hadn't paid much attention to him. The only reason he even remembers is because he had come in with Taehyung.

 

But he also remembers because Hoseok had told him about what had been the trigger for that hasty mission against Junho’s coven; and it had been the fact that Taehyung had called Hoseok, panicked, because his friend was missing and might have been kidnapped by vampires. And that friend's name had been—

 

“Park Jimin?”

 

“Oh.” And something in the young man’s shoulders relaxes. “You remember me?”

 

“Mmm…” Seokjin replies non-committedly. “If you're looking for Taehyung, he didn't come by here today.”

 

“No, I know. He's home today. His mom gave him hell for sneaking out of the house a couple of days ago.” Jimin says distractedly, eyes darting all over the place. And he seems strangely fixated on the shelves of curiosities, his line of sight returning to them frequently, as if trying to reassure himself that they really were there, “I… I came here to look for you.”

 

And there it is, the elephant in the room. Seokjin can feel Yoongi staring at him, disapproval humming through the bond. But Seokjin can't help himself, “that so? Why are you looking for me, Park Jimin-sshi?”

 

“Erm.” And Jimin looks over a bit nervously at Seungkwan, who only stiffens more, becoming even more earnest in his goal to imitate a statue. “I… I've been having trouble… sleeping?”

 

“Is that so.” Seokjin raises an eyebrow. “Why not go to a doctor then?”

 

“Erm. I don't…” Jimin hesitates again, glancing at Seungkwan. “I don't think a doctor would be able to help me.”

 

“Oh? Then what makes you think that I can?”

 

And there's an air inside the shop now, nervous and tight, like the shop itself is holding its breath. Seungkwan feels it, definitely, and he looks like he wishes that he isn't here. But Seokjin and Yoongi just wait.

 

They're all just waiting now, for Jimin's answer.

 

“I—” Jimin voice is too thin, too weak. And his hands go around his neck, gingerly touching a spot on his neck as if reliving a memory he doesn't want to. “I just… I don't know why I thought you could help me. I was just… I just couldn't sleep last night and then I just thought… I don't know why I came here really—”

 

“You shouldn't,” Yoongi suddenly interrupts. No one but Seokjin hears. “He's human, Seokjin. You really shouldn't.”

 

“— I just felt like I needed to come here. Something… something told me to come here.”

 

“Seokjin. No.”

 

“I'm sorry.” Jimin whispers, and Seokjin closes his eyes for a beat. He already knows what Jimin will say. “It's stupid. I… I should just go.”

 

And Jimin takes a stumbling towards the door. But no further than that, because Seokjin says, “wait.”

 

Yoongi doesn't sigh. But Seokjin can hear it anyway.

 

He ignores it, turning to Seungkwan with a polite smile. “Hey. I'm sorry... I've only managed to do half of them, but do you think these would do for tonight? You can collect the rest tomorrow.”

 

“Oh, no, no, no. Definitely. Nothing to be sorry about. If anything, I'm sorry that you have to make so many.” And Seungkwan holds out a small drawstring bag so that Seokjin can put the soul charms in, even if Seungkwan stiffens at how the shopkeeper openly holds up the small glowing balls before dumping them inside the bag: but it's fine. Seokjin knows it's fine, because Jimin’s mind is miles away. Even if he did notice, it shouldn't surprise him too much.

 

He already knows about vampires after all.

 

~*~

 

Seokjin frowns, tapping a finger against the ceramic of his mug. "Jimin?”

 

“Huh?” and Jimin jerks at the call of his name and nearly spills the hot honey that Seokjin had prepared him onto his hand. Thankfully, it lands into the table instead. “Oh shit. Sorry—”

 

“It's alright.” Seokjin tries to smile encouragingly, “no worries. It's just a bit of water.”

 

“I…” Jimin breathes out again, looking embarrassed, his hands curl up tight into his lap, as if he's afraid to touch his cup again “Sorry.”

 

Seokjin bites back a sigh, eyeing Jimin's stiff and closed posture. Seokjin wouldn't be able to get anywhere with him with him like this — he needs to get Jimin a little more relaxed first.

 

He opens his mouth, perhaps to say something. He doesn't really know — he's winging it. But the moment he takes in his first breath, there's a movement from the corner of his eye. And then Jimin yelps again, hands raised into the air. And moments later he blinks down, staring at the tiny Scottish Fold settling down in his lap. Seokjin wonders who is more surprised — himself or Jimin. “Oh, erm… hello?”

 

The Scottish Fold lets out a meow, long and languid and it doesn't actually mean anything. And Yoongi looks way too pleased with himself when it seems that Jimin is now at least too surprised to be tense. “I see you have somehow acquired a cat in your lap.”

 

“Er. Yeah. Seems that I have.” A tiny bit of the tension in Jimin's arms seeps away, probably out of sheer incredulity. But it's not nearly quite enough. Yoongi makes a sort of disgruntled noise at this before butting his head against Jimin's stomach, earning yet another squeak from the young man.

 

“He wants you to pet him.” Seokjin translates helpfully when Jimin still looks lost. “You should probably do it before he starts scratching you.”

 

Yoongi probably wouldn't. But it does convince a reluctant Jimin to start petting Yoongi's head immediately. And it's almost like a sort of magic when Yoongi begins to purr, and Jimin's lips turn upwards like they can't really help themselves, and the tension begins to melt off Jimin’s shoulders completely.

 

Seokjin has to hide his smile. Even as a cat, those sorts of pats don't actually get Yoongi purring. He needs the ear scratching sorts that are a bit more rubbing and pressure than the light taps that Jimin is giving. Yoongi just simply knows the power of his purring all too well.

 

But really. Yoongi is an absolute softie. What else is new?

 

“Feel better?” Seokjin asks after a moment, and his gaze is soft when Jimin looks back up at him with a thankful smile. “Yeah. Much. Thank you.”

 

“It's no problem.” Seokjin glances at Yoongi, who’s still obediently accepting Jimin’s affection. “We're here to help you anyway. So… what was it that you wanted my help with anyway?”

 

And just like that, the smile slips off Jimin's face like hot butter.

 

Seokjin can feel the disapproving thought through the bond before Yoongi says it. But he simply glances down at Yoongi in response to his familiar’s, “what are you doing, undoing my good work?” ; a silence code to the cat saying ‘just fucking trust me, won't you?’.

 

They have to wait a little bit, but after a while, Jimin does look up again, even if there's still a hesitant look on his face. “I've… I've been having nightmares.”

 

And there's that hand around his neck again. And well, Seokjin hadn't really needed that cue to know exactly what Jimin had been getting nightmares of. But he still asks, “of what, exactly?”

 

“I—” Jimin pauses for yet another moment, before he reaches up to the top of his collar before pulling it down. “What does this look like to you?”

 

And Seokjin's fingers twitch immediately because, holy shit, those cluster of bite marks around Jimin's neck look terrible . It's probably the best that human medicine could have done, but it'd have healed so much neater even with just one application of one of Seokjin's poultices. He has half a mind to get his phone and call Daniel & co. to yell at them for this. But then again, they probably were swamped, and Jimin had been in no dire danger after all.

 

Except, judging from the eyebags under his eyes, probably from his dreams.

 

Seokjin realizes belatedly that Jimin is still waiting for him to answer. And he pauses before hazarding a contemplative, “I guess most people would tell you that's one hell of a hickey.”

 

Thankfully, Jimin doesn't seem terrible offended by that, even barking out a laugh and saying, “do you know how they explained it at the hospital? They said the wounds were made with an ice pick. Who the hell stabs someone in the neck like this?”

 

“Mm… ice pick wounds wouldn't even bruise like that. But I'm sure that they have doctors working with the hunters in the hospital you were in to make sure all the records are straight.”

 

Jimin pauses a little at that, hand sliding gingerly over the wounds on his skin. Seokjin notices the slight scratch marks around the area, and the way some parts of the scabs are older than the others. He wonders if Jimin is the sort of to pick at wounds, or if it’d been done in the middle of the night, half awake, fingers scrabbling at his neck in panic, amongst half-awake sobs.

 

“You… you know about hunters.”

 

Seokjin's eyes dart back to Jimin’s eyes. Or what he can see of them at least. He's ducked his head down, long bangs covering most of his eyes. “Yes. I do.”

 

Jimin's head lowers even more, hand covering the wounds on his neck completely now. “Then… do you know about… about…”

 

And because Jimin doesn't seem to be able to complete his sentence, Seokjin does it for him. “Vampires?”

 

Jimin jerks again at the word, as Seokjin had expected. What he hadn't expected to happen is Jimin's hand moving to pick up his drink again, possibly to take a sip to maybe calm himself. And the timing of Seokjin's reply is so catastrophically bad, that Jimin actually drops the cup onto the floor and it shatters across the tiles in a rather horrific crash.

 

Jimin kind of stares at the cup, eyes sort of wide and blank, and then he lets out a sound that pulls at Seokjin's heart, “o-oh. Shit. Sorry, I-I'm… fuck…”

 

“Hey, hey. It's alright.” Seokjin is immediately up and getting the broom and dust pan from the corner. “Just a cup. No need to worry about it.”

 

“I— sorry.” Jimin winces, half looking like he's about to stand up and clear the pieces by hand. Seokjin rushes to sweep the pieces up just in case, humming a little to make sure that the little pieces follow into the pan as he sweeps. “I'll replace it.”

 

Seokjin looks up, an incredulous look on his face. “Why would you want to replace it. It's just a cup. I have plenty of those. It's not even a cup I like — a gift from someone trying to kiss my ass or something. Why do you think I use it to serve customers?”

 

And Jimin stares a little before a choked sort of laugh escapes him. “You serve your customers with cups you don't like?”

 

“Of course, it's an easy excuse to get rid of unwanted cups, so thank you for that.” And Seokjin is satisfied to see Jimin smile, almost helplessly at that.

 

But the smile disappears almost a moment later, and Jimin stares down at his hands. “I'm still sorry though. I… I guess I didn't expect you to… say that word so easily.”

 

“What word? Vampire?” And Seokjin looks up after putting the dustpan away to see another flinch go through Jimin and he sighs, grabbing a cloth off the counter to mop up the liquid on the floor. “Well, I've never made any real effort to hide things. Like with Taehyung even before he knew indefinitely that all the things we talked about were real.” A pause, “well, most of the things at least. It's pretty fun messing with him. But anyway, it's up to the other to decide if I'm joking or not.”

 

“Do people usually think that you're joking?”

 

Seokjin looks up from where he's kneeling, but Jimin doesn't meet his eyes. He tilts his head in thought before he says, “I think most of the time, people like to believe in what they know. So if it's not something they know about, they won't believe it. The unknown is particularly scary after all.”

 

Jimin lets out a huff that could have been a laugh, but his eyes are dark, no humour within their depths at all, “it's easier not knowing too.”

 

“Mmm? Is it?”

 

“Y-yeah…” Jimin takes in a shaky breath. “I mean, before Taehyung took that photo of Jae and we got caught up in that whole Dongdaemun thing, life was simpler. I mean, it was boring, sure. But boring is simple. And I'm glad for Tae, you know? It's good that he's found people that are like him, that can understand what he goes through. But that life? It's just… it's just..”

 

“Too much?” Seokjin supplies, smile a little sad as Jimin nods. And gently, he lifts his hand to brush across Jimin’s shoulders, skin humming a little with warmth.

 

“Yeah… it's just… it's not for me, is all.”

 

“Mm…” Seokjin hums in agreement. He can see it after all; Jimin would be the sort of human to be perfectly content to lead a routine human life — school, work, marry, have children, live a good life and then die. It's a good life to live really; Seokjin had had a phase where he'd been entirely jealous of people who did live that life actually. It's like he's still of the opinion that short stories are the best stories. They're more succinct, and meaningful in their entirety. Long stories tend to get messy, plots sprawling all over the place. It's hard to get a long story right, especially when you're not sure when it will end — look at how Bleach had turned out.

 

“I'll probably get used to it. With time. Probably. But… I don't think I'll ever be the same, knowing. If you know what I mean?” And Seokjin nods, but Jimin doesn't see. He sighs, his face pinched and forlorn, “I think… I'll always be waiting. Watching out for something that might appear from the shadows. It's… it's tiring.”

 

Jimin looks up then, a faraway look in his eyes. He's staring at a corner, and Seokjin wonders if he's waiting for a dark figure to materialize from it. “I... just think… it might be easier if there was some way I could just… forget.”

 

There's a sudden ping in the air, so clear that even Yoongi feels it, his ears twitching just that bit. But Seokjin's been doing this for far too long, and so he just nods and then says, “I could probably help with that. Forgetting.”

 

Jimin looks up now, his eyes confused, the glaze in them indication that he thinks he might have misheard. “What?”

 

“I said, I can probably help you forget. If that's what you want.” Seokjin stands, the cloth in his hands damp as he drops it into the sink. There is a dull, wet thud. “I don't usually offer such services for humans… But today, I think I'll make an exception.”

 

“What?” Jimin shakes his head. He doesn't understand, but that's alright for now. “You can… help me forget? How? By whacking me over the head and giving me amnesia?”

 

“Please, my methods are more refined than that.” Seokjin rolls his eyes, leaving the cloth in the sink after washing his hands. He'll wash it up later. “We can talk more upstairs. It'll be easier, probably. For both of us.”

 

“What?” And Jimin's eyes are wide, “I haven't agreed to anything yet!”

 

Seokjin shrugs, not stopping as he takes the first few steps. “If you want to leave, feel free to. Just know that the offer is only open for today. Once you leave, I'm not going to make it again.”

 

There's a pause, and then Seokjin hears the sound of scrambling footsteps. And the witch wonders, why humans are so scared of the unknown, and yet are so inexplicably drawn towards it when there's the temptation of a wish granted at the end of it.

 

Even in human stories, they warn of the consequences; and yet.

 

From the bottom of the stairs, Yoongi stands, watching as Jimin's figure slowly gets swallowed by the cast of Seokjin's shadow.




Chapter Text

It's always interesting to see the reaction of someone who doesn't know what Seokjin is when they first enter his workroom. Doesn't matter if they're human or supernatural. Everyone has their own expectations of a witch.

 

For Jimin, it seems that what he sees is close enough to his mental image of a witch's lair that he blurts out, “where's your broomstick?” after a bit. It's probably the cauldron that gives it away, but then again, he's had supernatural folk unable to guess — possibly because the witch of Busan doesn't use a cauldron, preferring a small portable steamboat pot, and the witch of Cheonju doesn't like showing people her workroom, mostly taking her work commissions through Kakao and Line.

 

“It's downstairs, out in the back. Don't have much chance to use it much.” Seokjin replies, gesturing for Jimin to sit at the stool near his work bench.

 

“Holy shit,” is Jimin’s reply as he half stumbles towards the stool. He nearly falls off in his first attempt to sit. “That was… it was just a joke. But you-you're—”

 

Oh. So Jimin hadn't guessed. “Yes. I am.”

 

“—a witch. Shit.” Jimin rubs his face, slowly taking this in. “Actually, now that I think about it, it's not surprising? You seem to make a lot of things. But I thought you were some kind of magical dealer or something, with all the things you sell Taehyung— do you sell him legitimate magic things?”

 

“The rosary and holy water I sold him were pretty legitimate weren't they?” Seokjin chuckles a little. “Don't worry. I don't sell anything that might harm him. It's mostly stuff that he can use to protect himself.”

 

“R-right.” Jimin looks a little bit relieved, which is kind of sweet. Seokjin takes note of that. “So. You're a witch. Cool. Does Taehyung know?”

 

“Mmhmm. Had to tell him after all,” Seokjin confirms as he taps his chin, thinking. “Where did I put it, again?”

 

“You had to tell him?” Jimin blinks at that odd turn of phrase. “What do you mean by that?”

 

“I mean; he's a medium, so he's one of us.” Seokjin hums as he walks towards one of the shelves, peering at the items stacked on it. “It’d be a bit hard to instruct him about the supernatural world without telling him what I am.”

 

“...Right. That’s—” and Jimin flinches a little when Seokjin accidentally knocks over a jar of something before he quickly rights it again. “Er— what are you looking for?”

 

“The thing that I need to use to help you fulfil your wish of course.” Seokjin moves over to one of the shelves, shifting a few things here and there. “Mmm… not here? I thought I put it here. Maybe overdid it with the concealment charm a bit.”

 

“R-right.” Jimin fidgets a little. The silence must be making him uncomfortable in the unfamiliar setting. “C-can I help?”

 

“Oh. No. You wouldn't be able to.”

 

“O-oh. Okay.” And because Jimin sounds oddly fragile at that, Seokjin looks up and squints at Jimin. “...It's not because you're human or any sort of reason like that. I'm probably the only one who will be able to find it because I put a charm over it to conceal it; Taehyung or Jeongguk or Hoseok wouldn't be able to help either.”

 

“I— no. Just… you didn't need to explain.”

 

“Mmm… sure.”

 

Jimin lasts approximately five seconds before he starts talking again. “You… you called Taehyung a medium. What does that mean? Like… it's a term for people who can see ghosts?”

 

“Mhmm…” Seokjin confirms, “but we don't just give it to anyone.”

 

“No…?”

 

“Most humans have some level of sensitivity to spirits: they can sense presences, or hear murmurs or see ghostly white figures,” Seokjin clarifies. “But mediums can see spirits like you and I would see a human. How clearly they can see and hear spirits speaks of how strong their powers are.”

 

Jimin blinks. “But Taehyung says that spirits speak to him like normal humans, and sometimes he doesn't realize some of them are ghosts because they look exactly like humans.”

 

“Mhmmm. He's the most powerful medium I've seen in a long while. Actually, the only medium I've seen in a long while. But also one of the most powerful regardless.” Seokjin smiles as he looks up for a moment. “Pretty exciting really.”

 

Jimin looks a little confused for a second. But then, that's only to be expected. “Is… being able to see ghosts something very rare? I thought… it would be something quite common.”

 

“Oh, nah. Like I said, being able to sense ghosts is really common. Most people can tell something is there, see vague wisps, hear vague whispers. But seeing and hearing them the way Taehyung does? His kind are rare among people who are low in numbers among the humans of this world. So whenever a medium is discovered, it's a pretty big thing actually.”

 

“Oh but… What about you? Can't you see ghosts? You're magic right?”

 

“I am; but spiritual energy and magic are two entirely different things. Taehyung would never be able to make a lot of the charms and potions I do, and, sure. I know in theory how to deal with ghosts, and there's tools to help to communicate, but it's sort of like doing charades underwater — lots of erroneous guess work.”

 

“Oh. That's… that's interesting…” and before Jimin can sink into deep thought, Seokjin slides in a, “didn't he tell you this?” with a tone that is all too light and far too offhanded.

 

“Who?”

 

“Taehyung.” Seokjin clarifies, hands stilling a little, as if surprised. “I went through this the other day with him. I thought he'd share it with you. You're… the only friend who knows, right?”

 

“Er. I-I guess.” Jimin looks down at his hands, “he… usually tells me everything.”

 

Seokjin pretends not to notice the confusion in Jimin’s voice. Like he's discovered that the axis of his universe may have just shifted. “Oh. Well, he does seem to be getting better at keeping secrets? Or maybe he just… Doesn't want to get you involved anymore.”

 

“Not… involved... what do you mean?”

 

“This is a dangerous world after all. The supernatural scene is normally quiet and slow, but when things do happen…” Seokjin trails off before shrugging. “It's dangerous , to say the least. And you did only get involved because Taehyung dragged you in. He's probably feeling guilty about that.”

 

Jimin's eyebrows furrow, “why would he be guilty about that?”

 

“Why wouldn't he? I can imagine that you wouldn't be involved at all if not for him.” Seokjin taps his foot before moving on to another shelf entirely. “He probably blames himself for getting you involved, and I suppose it’s good that he's not revealing so many things to you.”

 

Jimin blinks at that. “What? Why?”

 

“You said so yourself, didn't you? That you wish you could forget. You don't really want to be involved in all this. And if he keeps you in the loop, you're probably going to end up being involved regardless of your sentiments.” Seokjin hums, before letting out a triumphant sound. “Ah. There it is. I was wondering if I might have hidden it too well.”

 

Jimin only looks up at Seokjin when the shopkeeper draws near. His eyebrows are furrowed as he stares at the clear crystal vial and clockwork charm that Seokjin places on the table in front of him. “What's… what's this?”

 

“This is what you'll need to forget.” Seokjin taps on the table, finger ringing against the wood. “It's a memory potion, and a memory charm. The potion does the work, and the charm is supposed to make it stick.”

 

As with all humans, Jimin stares at the potion and charm with the utmost distrust. He picks up the potion, turning the vial around and squints at it, and well, it does look very innocuous, transparent like water, with only the faintest hint of a shimmering aquamarine. He doesn't see what Seokjin sees, and Seokjin sees the almost unbearable glow of massive amount of power that he'd imbued, a long time ago. And looking at Jimin treat it so carelessly, he has to tamper down the urge to snatch it out of the human's hands and stow it away again.

 

Such power is dangerous after all.

 

“How would this work anyway. I drink this and all the bad memories go?” Jimin wrinkles his nose before setting the vial back down.

 

Seokjin pauses at that, long enough that Jimin redirects his distrustful stare at Seokjin face. “You don't know?”

 

“I know how it's supposed to work. I made it after all.” Seokjin shrugs, “but it's not like I've had many chances to test it. Wouldn't want to anyway.”

 

And Jimin frowns then, “why not?”

 

“Memories are very tricky things to mess with. The human brain and psyche is like an eggshell after all. Strangely strong, but if you crush it the right way, oddly fragile too.” Seokjin shrugs before answering the obvious question making its way to Jimin’s lips. “I only made this because I was young, it was commissioned, and I was at a point in life where I'd do stupid things because I was curious if I could do it.”

 

Jimin chews his lip at the answer, “how is it supposed to work then?”

 

“You drink it,” Seokjin says dryly, and Jimin gives the shopkeeper another squint before the elder relents. “There's a spell inside to imprint the potion to target the memories you want to be rid of. So as you drink it, you just need to concentrate and think of what you want to be rid of and it'll do the work.”

 

“That sounds… Simple.”

 

“That part is simple, yes. The complicated part is that with memories, you need to be thorough. It's not always, but memories can be easily retriggered; be it by a physical trigger like a sight or a scent, or even another memory.”

 

Jimin frowns. He knows there's some sort of gravity to what Seokjin is saying, but doesn't understand it. “What does that mean?”

 

“It means the potion won't just erase the memory of that night that you got bitten. It will erase every memory that has any tie to the supernatural in it.”

 

Jimin’s eyes widen, as is the proper response. But Seokjin think he still doesn't quite understand. Not yet. “Huh? But why?”

 

“That's just how the brain works,” Seokjin shrugs. “You can't just take away that single memory, because other memories would cause it to resurface and reform. And even then it's not enough. Outside influences could also trigger it, and that's what this charm is for.”

 

Jimin stares down at the charm that Seokjin is pointing at now, at the brassy gleam where the metal of the clockwork cogs catch the glow of the warm lights in the room. It looks innocuous, like a piece of steampunk couture jewelry. And on its own, Seokjin supposes that it actually is. “It works to stop you from being exposed to any sort of trigger that might respark the memory. It's a highly complicated charm, one of my best works — combines all sorts of different charms, and a nifty little spellwork to tie it all together to make sure each works whenever needed.”

 

“So… you mean that after I drink this potion, I wear this and it'll essentially protect me from meeting any supernatural on the street.” Jimin says after a moment, his voice hesitant and unsure.

 

“That's the nice way of putting it, I guess,” is Seokjin's reply, his face still pleasantly schooled. “But yes, you definitely would have the most boring, human life you could imagine.”

 

“And I will forget. All of it.”

 

Seokjin nods, “all of it. No more fear, no more paranoia. No more checking dark corners for things you don't even know if they really exist.”

 

“Just… gotta drink this? And wear the charm?” Jimin pauses at Seokjin’s nod. “But what's the catch?”

 

“The catch?”

 

“Something that seems this good always has a catch to it.” Jimin’s gaze has become suspicious again, “you can't be giving it to me for free. Am I going to be waking up with a debt of like… a million won around my neck?”

 

Seokjin blinks at that. “Well, no. First of all, it’d be really hard to collect a debt when you don't even remember me, and are wearing a charm that essentially makes it super hard for me to approach you. But, you've already heard the catch. This sort of magic feeds on itself. It takes away the memories, and those memories are the implicit payment. And well, I did say memories were tricky things. You can't really control what this potion might away. It could be more than you expect.”

 

Seokjin doesn't say that forgetting has its own set of consequences. He thinks that that is pretty much implied.

 

“Oh. I… was thinking more of what I would have to pay you.” Jimin still looks a little perplexed. Seokjin thinks he's a lot slower than he looks. He seemed much smarter than Taehyung from what the other had described.  But the shopkeeper figures that Jimin probably is smart about regular things. And there's probably a delay because Jimin has the extra hurdle of rearranging his realities instead of simply accepting, as what Taehyung would usually do.

 

“You pay me by getting this potion off my hands,” Seokjin explains truthfully. “It's a powerful potion, more trouble than it's worth,  maintaining the charms to keep it safe from someone who might abuse it.”

 

“Why don't you just throw it away then? If it's such a troublesome potion?” Jimin has picked up the vial, turning it in his hands and examining it carefully, like it might jump out of his hands and bite him.

 

“Work ethic. I don't throw away perfectly good potions. If the circumstances led me to make it, then there must be a reason, even if it might not be the reason I believe it to be.”  Seokjin drums his fingers against the table. Once, twice. “It's just a belief I have. You can take it for an idiosyncrasy if you want.”

 

“No. I suppose… it makes sense.” Jimin holds the vial upright now. He looks back up at Seokjin. “So you're just giving it to me.”

 

“Like I said,” repeats Seokjin, plainly. “I'll be glad to be rid of it.”

 

Jimin hesitates for a moment, before his fingers try to tug at the cover of the vial. And there's this awkward moment where Seokjin tries to help, and there's a lot of fumbling, and it's a little bit funny because it pretty much breaks the serious and mysterious atmosphere that had settled around them. But then, it reminds them both that this isn't some kind of story where everything moves smoothly like a planned scene. It's reality and this is Jimin, about to take a potion that will erase his memories about the supernatural.

 

It's real life. And there's no turning back after this.

 

Seokjin's managed to get the cap open. He hands the vial back to Jimin. And the other carefully takes it, a strange expression on his face.

 

“So… I just drink it?” Jimin still has a blank expression on his face, even as he holds the vial between his thumb and index finger, almost gingerly now. It feels like he's a diver standing at the edge of the board, looking down over a sheer, deep drop.

 

“You need to think about the memory you want to erase. Focus on it.” Seokjin reminds. “Otherwise, I'm not too sure what might happen.”

 

“Well, that's no stress at all.” But the jibe is weak, and Jimin takes in a deep breath as he lifts the vial up towards his lips.

 

And then he pauses. “Wait. What about Taehyung?”

 

“What about him?”

 

“He… if I drink this… what happens to him? Will I… will I forget him too?”

 

Seokjin's expression doesn't change, even if the tension in the air is palpable. The collectively held breath like when a gun is held in the air. And then, he says, his voice quiet but pointed. “He's a medium, Park Jimin. What do you think will happen?”

 

Absolutely nothing happens for a moment. But it's but a red herring, a lure into a sense of false security, before everything happens all at once.

 

It's almost like a tsunami crashing to the shore. And Seokjin jerks more out of surprise than anything, because Park Jimin isn't that small, no. But he is smaller than Seokjin, and he looks deceptively tiny, swamped in the oversized sweater that he's wearing. And Seokjin does not expect the strength in the grip that drags and bunches the front of his shirt, pulling him forward. The gaze in the young human’s eyes is terrifying, and Seokjin has not felt such a thrill of fear like that, not since the last time he'd faced an entire mob with pitchforks and torches and a roaring accusation of “witch, witch, evil witch”.

 

But there's also the roar of magic that's distracting him. Because in grabbing Seokjin, Jimin had let go of the vial, letting it fall into the table. And the magic screams at Seokjin to save it, but he's currently kind of occupied, what with the fingers jammed into his shirt and jerking him around after all.

 

Not that he would have even if he weren't being threatened. He still would have just watched instead, as he's doing now, eyes sparkling with fascination as the vial bounces off the table, transparent liquid flying out and spilling everywhere; and he barely hears what Jimin is saying, only noting the venomous tone. He's too busy watching the vial as it falls off the the table, landing onto the floor with a tiny crash, the sound of the fragile glass shattering lost amidst the noise: of Jimin yelling, of the chair crashing to the ground when it had toppled over with Jimin's sudden movement. But mostly of the sound of the magic that screams as it's wasted, like the high shrieks of a violin; and Seokjin thinks Yoongi probably hasn't realized his master is kind of actually physically in danger right now because of just how loud the wasted magic is.

 

It's only when Seokjin's back hits a shelf, the jars and things rattling on the wood, that the world comes rushing back in.

 

“—fucking tricky asshole, what were you trying to do? Taehyung fucking trusts you, so I thought I could too, but what the fuck was that just now? Why were you trying to trick me?! Yah! Answer me!”

 

Oh. Right. Seokjin feels the magic in the room slowly seep away, and he just feels tired now. He hates dealing with the aftermath, but it has to be done. “I'll answer you if you let go of me.”

 

That seems to only make Jimin even angrier. “No. Fucking no. Just answer me right fucking now. None of your fucking tricks.”

 

“It wasn't a trick,” Seokjin says tiredly. Being a conduit for magic is always tiring. “It was a test. But you're in no danger now, Park Jimin. You passed. Or maybe you didn't. I don't know.”

 

That makes Jimin pause. “What?”

 

“It's something the universe does sometimes. And unfortunately, because of something my teacher did, I have to allow myself to be a conduit whenever it happens. But anyway, long explanation short, you were at a crossroads and needed to make a decision. Universe threw you an ultimatum. And you've chosen not to forget because of your friend.” Seokjin sighs, gently prying Jimin's now slack fingers off his shirt. “Don't ask me if that's a good or bad thing. It could be either. Whatever it is, with this, you're probably not going to get out of the supernatural community. Not for a while at least.”

 

Jimin steps back a little. Seokjin might have laughed if he had the energy — Jimin's expression is like he'd swallowed a lemon. “W-what? Wait. The universe gave me a test? What the fuck ?”

 

“You know, you curse way more than my first impression of you clued me into.”

 

“What? Of course I'm cursing a lot right now. I don't even know what the fuck just happened—” Jimin runs a hand over his face. “You know what, I'm just going to take a page from Taehyung and roll with it. So I passed some sort of test?”

 

“Sort of. More of that you made a major decision in your life that you won't be able to go back on for a while.” Seokjin glances at the spilled potion on the floor. “Yeah. Not gonna make something like that again.”

 

It's a little bit funny how Jimin's face pales a little when he sees all the broken glass on the floor. “Oh fuck. I— I… Shit. Are you going to make me pay for that?”

 

Seokjin considers teasing Jimin a little bit, but he thinks that maybe that isn't a good idea, mostly because there's nothing to distract Yoongi now, and Seokjin really doesn't want to explain to Taehyung why his best friend had gotten mauled by his familiar. “No, no. Why would I? Good riddance. Heck, for helping me get rid of that potion, I'll help you with your nightmares instead.”

 

Jimin blinks a little, “what?”

 

“I said earlier, that potion was dangerous and it was a real pain to keep safe. But I have my work policy, so I couldn't just dump it. You destroying it saves me a lot of grief, so the least I can do is help with those nightmares.”

 

“But…” Jimin says slowly, “if that was on the table, why didn’t you just offer that to me? All I wanted was to be rid of the nightmares.”

 

“No, no. What you wanted was to forget about the supernatural. So that you could have your illusion of safety again.” And Seokjin interrupts before Jimin can protest. “If that wasn't what you were contemplating deep down, I wouldn't have been compelled. That was some strong fucking magic alright. I could have resisted, I guess. But if you're going to be part of this world, the least you need is conviction. Otherwise, you wouldn't last. If you decided to drink the potion, I'd be saving both you and Taehyung a lot of anguish. He's already guilty about you getting kidnapped by a vampire coven, can't imagine what he'd feel if you ended up dead because you were angsting about how your life is different because you ‘know'.”

 

Jimin is staring a little blankly at Seokjin now, in the wake of his rant. His jaw opens a little, as if to say something before it clicks shut again. He takes in a deep breath before exhaling, looking up at Seokjin. “Taehyung isn't going to be ducking his head down and hiding away from the supernatural any time soon, is he?”

 

“No, I don't think so.” Seokjin replies, “although you might want to check with him on that yourself. Might as well talk to him at the same time.”

 

Jimin closes his eyes before he nods, “yeah. I guess you're right.”

 

“Of course I am.” Seokjin smiles, before he stretches up, bones cracking. “Right. Need to make you some sleeping potion. And I might as well set you up with a basic protection set, wolfsbane, holy water and the sort. Oh. Probably should get you something to protect you from spirits too. If you're going to be hanging around Taehyung a lot…”

 

Jimin is quiet as he sits himself back down on the chair, careful to avoid the bits of glass on the ground where the vial had shattered. He notices that the potion has completely evaporated, and other than the shattered vial, there is no inkling to it having even existed.

 

“Jin-sshi?” Jimin suddenly calls out, making the shopkeeper pause. “...Thank you. I guess.”

 

Seokjin raises an eyebrow. “For what?”

 

“For… making me face my indecision, I guess,” is Jimin’s quiet reply. “For helping me to remember that Tae's been my friend forever, and he's always been there for me, and this is the least I can do for him.”

 

“Oh.” Seokjin pauses before he shrugs, “that was mostly your own effort. But sure. You're welcome.”

 

“Mmm… and Jin-sshi?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I still don't trust you.”

 

And Seokjin lets out a small bark that is surprise, before a genuine laugh rings out of him, and he has to cover his mouth to even keep a semi-sense of professionalism. “That's good. That's great, actually. Keep it up, and you'll probably stay alive for a long time.”

 

Jimin's reaction is to smirk a little, and Seokjin decides that he might actually like this Park Jimin.

 

~*~

 

“You gave him the memory charm.”

 

Seokjin looks up from where he's sweeping up the bits of glass on the ground. It's safe to do so now, the magic having completely dispersed from where it had been spilled. “Well, it's harmless on its own. So there shouldn't be any trouble. Besides, what was I going to do with it?”

 

“Break it up for parts and use them for other things?” Yoongi says dryly as he perches himself in the stool watching. He looks like he's lazing, but Seokjin knows that he's really making sure that there's no residual magic left. That could be disastrous, in a place with such volatile changes in magic every day. “You're too nice, Jin-ah.”

 

Seokjin raises an eyebrow, “if that's the case, then the same thing applies for you.”

 

“What the fuck are you talking about. I warned you against it so many times.”

 

Some days, Seokjin will just let it slide. Today, he looks up right into Yoongi's eyes and snorts. “Yeah. Sure. If you didn't want me to do it, you'd have either withdrawn your magic completely or threw Jimin out of the house to stop me. And you barely protested when I gave Jimin the charm. So if I'm kind, then you are just as much.”

 

Yoongi stares at Seokjin for a while, and then he huffs, hoping off the chair. And by the time his feet hit the ground, he's a cat again. It's an obvious signal that he doesn't want to talk about this any longer.

 

But as he walks out, he throws a parting remark. “I just thought that the stupid human might need a reminder of his promise to stay with his friend, that's all. And it was too much work to fight you about it anyway.”

 

Seokjin doesn't say anything, only continuing to sweep up the glass pieces from the ground. He doesn't bother hiding his smile.

 

~*~

 

The following week is relatively uneventful, other than the bright spark of excitement of Taehyung helping his first spirit to move on — first in the sense that this is all after Taehyung had been officially installed as a medium. Technically, Jeongguk's brother would have been his first. But, well.

 

Seokjin calls Taehyung over soon after to give him a new set of prayer beads, one made out of different shades of chalcedony. He tells Taehyung they're for the good work that Taehyung had done. But the truth is, he'd intended to give them to Taehyung even if he'd decided not to do his medium duties and to live his life as far away from the supernatural as possible. And well, this one, made of all the different tints chalcedony could come in, isn't as strong as the obsidian one that Seokjin had previously given, but it's a better make and just fits Taehyung more than the harsh, unyielding obsidian one. Taehyung's a friendly chap after all. And Seokjin had bolstered it with a shit ton of protection charms anyway.

 

But yes, other than that, it's entirely uneventful. So uneventful that Seokjin and Yoongi have taken to teasing Jeongguk about his burgeoning friendship with Taehyung whenever he comes over to amuse themselves. And he comes over quite often now, with Hoseok and Daniel both out of Seoul, finally dealing with the situation in Jeju properly now that Junho’s coven had been taken care of.

 

It's always fun to tease Jeongguk really. The werewolf is such a little shit under the stiff veneer he normally affects, and he gives as good as he's got so Seokjin and Yoongi never feel bad for going all out with him. Even though it is sort of painful at times, since Jeongguk's go-to whenever he's about to lose a battle of wits is to resort to violence. Thankfully, Seokjin is a good healer, otherwise his ribs and neck would have never forgiven him.

 

It's a lie though, the uneventfulness of the week. Or rather, it's contrived; manufactured. There's something urgent that Seokjin needs to discuss with Taehyung. But after the mess with the coven, helping Dahyun pass on, and probably a rather emotional talk with Jimin, Seokjin had thought to give Taehyung a break.

 

A week isn't nearly enough of a break really, but it's the longest Seokjin can think to give. And so, it's a week later that Seokjin asks Jeongguk to ask Taehyung to come over to the shop, after approximately ten minutes of teasing him. Jeongguk threatens not to, but as things usually go, they've set up a proxy arrangement before Jeongguk even leaves.

 

(Jeongguk does complain about why Seokjin just doesn't text Taehyung himself. Seokjin has to pretend that it's because he wants to give Jeongguk more excuse to interact with Taehyung, and not because Seokjin had entirely forgotten that that is actually a thing.)

 

So, Seokjin is knee deep in a potion when Taehyung arrives. The medium steps into the shop right on time, and okay, it's Seokjin's own fault for not only presuming that Taehyung would be late, but also thinking he could tackle a potion as complicated as luck-manipulation in less than two hours. And he's really trying not to be rude, but he's panicking a little, and he'd added a bit too many dried lizard tails and he needs to add the chrysanthemums, but he’d forgotten to take them out, and fuck, he barely has time to look up when the medium comes up by the stairs.

 

He ignores the knowing look Yoongi is giving him — has been giving him since he'd gone down to retrieve Taehyung from downstairs.

 

He doesn't fucking need this from his familiar right now.

 

“Yoongi, help me get the chrysanthemums? I forgot to take them out. Oh and could you help stir this five times clockwise then jiggle the stick to agitate it? Hi, Taehyung. Sweetheart, sorry. Didn't expect you to arrive so soon, and this potion was giving me grief. Just give me a bit, alright?”

 

"Sure thing hyung," thankfully, Taehyung doesn't seem offended. But then again, Seokjin probably shouldn't be worried about him being offended, and more worried Taehyung doesn't accidentally turn himself into a frog by touching the wrong things on a shelf. He seems to be behaving himself for now, clasping his hands as he moves out of the way, busying himself staring at the contents of the shelf nearest to where he's moved.

 

Seokjin wonders for three seconds how long that might last.

 

But anyway, three seconds is all he can afford, because this potion is so close to getting ruined. And Yoongi… Yoongi that asshole, doesn't even help. He's still in his bloody cat form, padding over leisurely to Seokjin's side. Seokjin looks down to scowl over at Yoongi, because, "ugh. Why are you so lazy—”

 

“I'm not being lazy. I just think you should stop making the potion before your guest loses his fingers touching something on the shelves. ” Yoongi's tail lashes amusedly behind him. “And we both know this potion isn't going to be done any time soon.”

 

“Fine, just help me get the chrysanthemums. I—”

 

“I repeat. The potion isn't going to be done any time soon, Jin-ah~”

 

Seokjin wonders if it’d be considered masochistic to strangle your own familiar. “Oh. Fine! Yes, yes. I'll do it later."

 

Seokjin grumbles as he reaches for some bug-looking thing and tosses it into the cauldron. Immediately, the potion seems to settle, the bubbling going eerily calm. And Seokjin sighs, before glaring back down and Yoongi, "you better help me fish out that suspension charm later. And if I mess up because I forgot where I stopped, this is all your fault."

 

“Sure. Keep telling yourself that.”

 

Seokjin ignores him.

 

Instead, he straightens, wiping his hands down on the apron before turning to face the medium. "Hey, Taehyung. Sorry about that."

 

Unfortunately, it seems that Taehyung's bid to behave himself had worn off, and he has a jar in his hands, eyes wide as he examines it. "No worries.” Well, easy for him to say. Seokjin's heart had jumped before he'd noted that the jar Taehyung was holding was harmless. “Why do you have eyeballs? Are they human?"

 

Oh. That jar. "Er... I think they were payment. For riches. I think...? It was a long time ago when I was still doing that sort of thing. Still haven't found a use for them yet."

 

He doesn't really want to explain the real story behind those eyeballs. He'd been young, in the middle of an apprenticeship with someone he still considers to be a little bit insane, and had had the bad tendency to agree to any request as long as it had seemed interesting. And he’d been drunk. And very interested about clairvoyance.  But Seokjin still doesn't think he can ever look at silver spoons the same way again. It's also the reason why he can't look at people wearing contact lenses.

 

He still has very bad mental images about fingers near eyes.

"Anyway," Seokjin pulled out a chair, gesturing for Taehyung to sit. "How have you been? How's Jimin? And I've heard you and Jeongguk have been getting closer lately."

 

Taehyung, having put the jar back on the shelf, makes his way over to plop down into the chair. "Uh… I've been good. Studying, exams and all that fun stuff, but it's just about over. Jimin's doing good too. He says he's sleeping better lately. Says thank you for the potion."

 

"Well, if he needs anything stronger, just tell him my door's been spelled open for him. Any time." Seokjin taps his fingers on the table before he sighs; there's no point dragging this out. Especially when he does have a potion to get back to. "I should probably get right to the point. You were saying that you have a spirit in your house."

 

"I do. Namjoon hyung's been there since we moved in eight or so years ago," Taehyung nods, and… fuck. There's a wide smile on his face. Seokjin is going to enjoy doing this even less now. "He's my unofficial roommate."

 

"Ah. Eight years, huh." Seokjin rubs his face before sighing, "that's... Really long. And he was there before that? Is there by chance... He'd sometimes accidentally knock things over?"

"All the time. He's broken half my stuff. I mean, he's a bookworm and he's gotten really good at turning the pages on whatever books I leave open for him to read." Taehyung mimes flipping pages. "But sometimes he sends them flying and puts dents in the wall. My mom keeps thinking a squirrel's gotten in."

 

Seokjin runs his hand over his face yet again, his expression the furthest away from amused. “That's… not good. But thankfully he seems to have a very steady temperament? And you've been talking with him. I suppose that's why he's lasted so long without going poltergeist.”

 

The medium's expression morphs into confusion. "What do you mean poltergeist? Like ‘Paranormal Activity’-style?"

 

Seokjin squints, trying to see if he can place the reference, and he looks over to Yoongi for a moment.

 

“It's the one with a lot of things flying around. People. Things. I think. Or was that ‘The Shining’?”

 

His familiar can be startlingly unhelpful most of the time.

 

“...Yes. ‘Paranormal Activity’-style. Spirits are very susceptible to bouts of extreme emotion, and for us, we have our body to buffer between feeling emotions and acting on them. Spirits don't have that buffer obviously. So, the longer they stay here, the stronger they get, the harder it is to control what they feel and how they act out.”

 

"But… Namjoon hyung is so chill ," Taehyung sputters. He looks taken aback, and Seokjin doesn't blame him. "How long does it take for spirits to turn into poltergeists?"

 

“Depends. If they were angry and vengeful it’d be faster. But because your spirit is ‘chill', it’d take longer. And you talking to him has probably kept him more sane. Usually, by now, he would be a poltergeist. Wandering around a house with no one to talk to would drive anyone crazy.”

 

"I suppose. But what can I do so he doesn't turn into an evil spirit?"

 

Seokjin just looks at Taehyung, not saying anything. He can tell from Taehyung's expression that the medium is just being willfully ignorant. For a moment, Seokjin feels like pressing Taehyung to admit what he probably has already guessed, but then, he figures Taehyung is already going to be broken up enough as it already is. No point adding salt to injury.

 

So he just sighs, and says pointedly: “you're going to have to do your duty as a medium, Taehyung. No matter who it is.”

 

A pause.

 

When Taehyung finally speaks again, his voice is small. "But it's Namjoon hyung… he's not hurting anyone. He's sweet and cracks jokes and helps me with my homework and binge watches anime with me… He's my friend."

 

Seokjin resists the urge to throw his head back and maybe stare at the ceiling for the rhetorical questions he has in his head. He hates being the bearer of bad news. He likes when he's the bearer of good news. He should have just made Yoongi do this, but he's pretty sure Yoongi would have been just an ass about it, and Seokjin likes Taehyung too much to subject the boy to Yoongi's assholery.

 

Finally, he just settles for gesturing helplessly with his hands. “Well, you're the medium, Taehyung. If you want to keep him here, no one is going to be able to stop you. But my old medium friend has told me that that the process of becoming a poltergeist isn't particularly pleasant for the spirit, especially if they're not aggressive. It's never a good feeling to hurt people you care about without meaning to after all.”

 

And Seokjin is reminded how Taehyung is smarter than the usually blank look on his face suggests. Because, the look on Taehyung's face now is a slow growing of understanding, even with how reluctant it is. Taehyung knows that what Seokjin says is right, and Seokjin wonders too, what accidents Namjoon may have already caused.

 

Finally, Taehyung speaks again. "So… I have to help him pass on." And the medium looks down at his hands. “But he doesn’t even remember anything.”

 

“Well, you don't need to so it straight away? Like I said, he seems to be stabilized by you talking to him.” Seokjin gets up to stand behind Taehyung, putting a firm hand onto Taehyung's shoulder. “There's still time. But it's something we do need to work towards.”

 

"Yeah." Taehyung is picking at a few welts on his skin. And Seokjin holds back the urge to slap his hands away. "I just don't know where to start. He's housebound… not like we thought Dahyun was, but really housebound. He can't even leave my bedroom."

 

Seokjin had figured actually. It's part of why he'd needed to call Taehyung as soon as possible — they had a lot to work on before Taehyung could even begin to help Namjoon move on. “Ah. Well, there's actually a… common fix for it. I won't say easy, because it won't be. But from what I know, usually to take house or place bound spirits away from the place they're bound, you'll need to let the spirit possess you.”

 

The picking pauses, and Taehyung tilts his head back to look up at Jin. "Possess me?"

 

“Yeah. In the sense of the word the media portrays. He enters your body and pretty much controls it.” Seokjin says dryly. “But unlike what popular media portrays, spirits don't really have the power to possess people. Only demons, and maybe really strong poltergeists do. But even they won't be able to possess a medium without your permission. Your disposition gives you natural immunity from that.”

 

"Oh, well… that's… good?" Taehyung's brow furrows. "So that means I have to like… invite him in? Like inviting a vampire into a dwelling."

 

“Yes. You enter a sort of verbal agreement. So he can possess you for however long you stipulate, or until some sort of condition is met. I'll need to train you actually, because it can be pretty tricky. But that will be another day.”

 

“Training?” And suddenly Yoongi's voice pops out, the familiar popping up somewhere behind the both of them. “You're not planning to get me to try possessing him are you?”

 

Seokjin is too used to Yoongi turning back without any warning. But obviously, Taehyung isn't — and so the medium jumps, wide eyes going to the familiar. "Holy shit Lucifer," he whines, one hand going to his heart. "Don't do that. And that's a very good question. I don't want to start hacking up hairballs."

 

But Yoongi doesn't give Taehyung any time of day, instead looking pointedly at Seokjin. “Well?”

 

Seokjin snorts, smoothing his hand down Taehyung’s back to placate him before turning to look at Yoongi. “No, not you. You're terrible at possession. No. I was thinking of asking you to ask one of your old friends.”

 

And Yoongi straightens at that, before he raises an eyebrow. “Oh. You're… Her? You sure that's a good idea?”

 

“She's the best bet we've got.” Seokjin shrugs, “less likely to wreck havoc.”

 

“‘Less likely’ isn't exactly a sterling reassurance.”

 

"Who are you talking about?"

 

Seokjin looks down at Taehyung. His… expression doesn't seem all that alarmed. Which is… well. Could be good or bad. “Ah. One of Yoongi's old friends. She's a demon.” Seokjin replies, as if he hadn't just dropped a bomb on Taehyung. “She's very old, and so a little more on the mellow side. And really good at possession.”

 

Still no alarm on the medium’s face. "So… you want me to practice possession," Taehyung repeats slowly. "With a strange demon. This isn't going to turn into a bad Exorcist knock-off is it? I like my head facing the right way."

 

Another pop-culture reference? Seokjin has to look over at Yoongi again, who sighs, “no. If a human dies while we're still inside. We die too. It's a pretty common method for demons to use to kill themselves tho—”

 

“Okay, enough.” Seokjin rubs his face. “In any case, that's why you're going to practice possession under both mind and Yoongi's watchful eyes. And it's also why we're not actually going to ask you to find a proper spirit to help you practice it. Because, at least if it's a demon, I know how to exorcise it from you if something goes wrong. But I literally will have no way of doing that if it's a spirit.”

 

"Er… alright." Not that Taehyung really has the option but to trust them. But Seokjin is determined not to misplace that trust. "I guess just let me know when you want to practice."

 

“We will. But…” Seokjin turns and looks at Taehyung now, a serious look on his face. “Regardless of Namjoon. I wanted you to practice anyway. But… if you've decided that you do want to help him pass on… We're going to need to do way more than just that.”

 

And it's only now that Taehyung's expression seems to drop, like his heart had fallen down into the pit of his stomach. "What do you mean? What else?"

 

“Well, you did say that he had no memory of who he was.” Seokjin replies simply. “And we can't help him pass on if we don't know what's keeping him here anyway.”

 

"Ah… true." Taehyung chews on his lower lip. "I can do some snooping around. He must have lived in our house before us, maybe one of the older neighbours knows something."

 

“Mmm… I'll also get Hoseok to check up on it once he has time.” Seokjin taps his fingers in the table before he nods. “It's a good place to start… and well. It's all we can really do for now.”

 

"Yeah." Taehyung stares blankly down at the table, seemingly lost in thought. But before Seokjin can say anything else, Taehyung looks back up with a tight smile.  "Thanks for your help. I think I owe you takeout one of these days."

 

What?

 

“Takeout?” Seokjin blinks back, looking confused, “whatever for?”

 

"For teaching me? For making sure I don't end up dead in a ditch somewhere?" Taehyung stands up, pushing the chair back in. "You looked like you were in the middle of something intense, so I should probably go. Um… shoot me a text whenever you wanna do that practice possession thing."

 

Seokjin knows Yoongi is glancing at him, alarm in his face. And well, seriously. He doesn't need his familiar urging him and rushing him and possibly making things worse by saying the wrong thing.

 

But he thinks fast, nevertheless, and then he reaches out, taking Taehyung's hand into his. “Hey. I meant it when I said you weren't alone anymore. And I promised that if you ever needed help, my door is always open to you 24/7, 7 days a week. I'll never be too busy. Okay? And you don't owe me anything either. It's always my pleasure to help.”

 

Taehyung just stares back for a while. And Seokjin wonders for a moment if he might have screwed up. But then, the smile on the medium’s face becomes a little more natural. "...Still. I'll bring you food one day. I know all the best places for whatever you're craving."

 

“Well. I won't say no to dinner if you insist on it.” Seokjin chuckles (relieved, but Taehyung doesn't need to know that). “But whatever you're buying, you gotta get a side of fish, or Yoongi will sulk.”

 

“Yah! I can do without fish! I'm not an actual cat!”

 

“And yet, you insist on fish every single night.” Seokjin replies dryly.

 

Taehyung laughs at that. And he holds onto Seokjin’s fingers for a while longer, almost as if unwilling to let go, before he does. Seokjin resists the urge to pull Taehyung's hand. "Good luck with whatever you're brewing. See you around." With a wave he headed back towards the stairs.

 

Seokjin watches Taehyung go before his smile drops with a sigh. He looks at Yoongi. “His heart was hurting when he left.”

 

Yoongi shrugs, looking down the stairs, but despite his blaise attitude, Seokjin knows that he's worried too. “We'll just make sure to take care of it when the time comes.”

 

Amen to that.

Chapter Text

 

Possession is a simple thing to do in theory.

 

It's a three step process in all. Step one, negotiate the terms of the possession with the spirit or demon. Step two, initiate the contract with the spirit or demon with spiritually binding words. Step three, complete the contract and expel the demon from your body.

 

Unfortunately, as simple as it sounds in theory, Seokjin has trained enough people in this to know that it as hard as fuck in practice.

 

“...and I will allow you to be bound to my body, until the terms of these conditions are met.”

 

“Are you sure?” Suran asks in a teasing voice, her lips curled as she stares at Taehyung adoringly. Seokjin resists the urge to sigh. “Are you really sure?”

 

“Oh my god. I don't know. We've been doing this for hours and my head hurts. Can you just possess me already?”

 

Suran perks up.

 

“No.”

 

It's the same word, but two voices say it. And even then it actually sounds like more, with how much power reverberates from just that single word. And Suran immediately flops back down, rolling her eyes. “You two are no fun.”

 

Seokjin ignores that for a moment to direct his attention to the sulking medium sitting down beside him. “Taehyung. I know you're tired. But never say anything out of frustration alright?”

 

The young medium sighs, running a hand through already messy hair. “Maybe I wouldn't be so frustrated if you just let Suran possess me.”

 

“Taehyung,” Seokjin groans, rubbing his face. “Do you even understand what could have happened? By asking Suran to ‘just possess you already’ you were creating a super obvious loophole. She could have latched onto that as the promise, ignoring the rest of your stipulations, and had gotten permission to possess you indefinitely. Remember what I said about the contract? There can't be any—”

 

“—contradictions. Or else I run the risk of the spirit or demon choosing one and I won't know which one. I know,” Taehyung mumbles glumly, before he sighs. “Sorry.”

 

“Nah. It's not just your fault, kid.” Yoongi looks over at Suran. “You'd gotten the clauses and everything right already.”

 

Taehyung looks over at Suran, slightly betrayed, “then why—

 

“It’s a thing demons do, kid.” Suran smiles back lazily, “try to trick you.”

 

Taehyung frowns, looking over at Yoongi. “If you weren’t a familiar tied to Jin-hyung, would you be doing the same thing?”

 

“No. Noona’s just annoying.”

 

“Excuse you, you’re the one who’s annoying. And the only reason why you wouldn’t be going around doing the same thing is because you suck at possession, Yoongichi.”

 

“Fuck you, noo—”

 

“Okay.” Seokjin holds up his hands in an expression of exhausted surrender. “Enough. Yes. Demons are tricky. They’re much trickier than spirits, and most spirits wouldn’t be looking to trick you anyway—”

 

“Then why are we playing this on hard mode?” Taehyung whines.

 

“—because, even if the spirit isn’t out to possess your body for eternity, you should always do things the proper way.” Seokjin completes, tone hard. “Besides, this way, you’d probably know whatever trick in the book anyone could do to try to fu— screw you over during a possession contract.”

 

Taehyung pauses, then groans. There isn’t much he can say in reply, Seokjin supposes. Taehyung is a smart kid. He knows that Seokjin is right.

 

“You know, he might learn better if he has to face the consequences of not making the contract properly—”

 

“No.” Both Seokjin and Yoongi answer before Suran can even finish saying her sentence. She pouts, deflating again. “Ugh, why did I accept this again? It’s so boring!”

 

Seokjin ignores Yoongi’s “because you’ve never had the best impulse control”, because he knows that it will only start another round of bickering. Instead, he looks down at Taehyung, who’s staring at the reference notes in front of him with a frown, eyes going over the words slowly. Maybe Seokjin has been pushing him too fast. Both he and Yoongi have already figured that while Taehyung isn’t dumb (at all, he’s actually pretty sharp when it comes down to it), he does take a little while to process things.

 

“Maybe we should call it a day,” Seokjin suddenly calls out, and holds up his hands for the umptenth time that day before all the groans and words of protest can sound. “Taehyung is tired. And I don’t think we should move forward if that’s the case. And I think Taehyung will benefit from going back home and taking his time to digest what he’s learnt today.”

 

Suran throws her hands in the air and mutters, “well that was a colossal waste of time then.”

 

“Sorry for wasting your time, Suran-nim.” Seokjin offers politely, even though he probably doesn't mean it. “We'll settle things on this side and then call you again?”

 

“Ugh. I'll forgive you this time.” Suran seems entirely irritated, but Yoongi and Seokjin know her long enough to know this is just an act. If she'd been truly annoyed, she'd have said nothing at all. “Make sure next time’s more interesting, alright?”

 

And then, she's gone. And Seokjin heaves a huge, long, tired sigh. “That was nerve wracking.”

 

“Tell me about it.” Yoongi groans, collapsing on the chair. “I've never had so many heart attacks in one day.”

 

“Sorry.” Taehyung looks down glumly, easily making the connection that all those heart attacks were caused by him.

 

“Hey, it's my fault. I thought you'd learn better by going more hands on, but now I realize you'd benefit from having some time to digest things first before jumping into things right away.”

 

“I guess,” but Taehyung still looks glum. “I didn't realize possession would be so complicated. It sounded easy.”

 

“Yeah.” Seokjin agrees empathetically, “possession and making contracts are some of the most annoying things in the world. You'd think it’s be simple, but noooooo…”

 

That manages to get a small smile on Taehyung's face, and Seokjin decides to count it as a success. “Anyway, I realized I probably should have given you material to study first before going with the practical. I prepared a few books for you to take home to read… eh?”

 

Taehyung looks up at Seokjin's sound of surprise. “What is it, Jin-hyung.”

 

“No, I…” Seokjin moved over to a pile of books he'd placed on the table earlier. His hand touches the page of the book on top, the diagrams on the picture describing different types of spirit summoning circles and rituals and their different pros and cons. “I thought I had this book closed.”

 

Taehyung obviously doesn't think anything of it. But then again, he hasn't really been exposed to the supernatural world long enough to be suspicious of everything and anything, especially when it seems inconsequential and coincidental. “The wind probably knocked it open. Or one of us did.”

 

“...” Seokjin picks up the book and flips through the pages. Nothing seems amiss. “I suppose you're right. Anyway, these are for you. I marked out what to read and which to read first.”

 

“Oh?” Taehyung perks up at that — but of course he would. The books that Seokjin has on the table look old and archaic, like books that you'd see in a fantasy film. And most of them are actually; old and archaic that is. Some old enough that if not for the spells Seokjin carefully maintains on them, they'd probably have already crumbled to dust. “Wow. These look really cool. What are they?”

 

“Some of them are theory books on contracts and rituals from my own collection.” Seokjin explained, “and some are diaries.”

 

“Diaries?”

 

“Yeah.” Seokjin picks up one book from the pile. It's a leather-bound cover, the skin dyed a soft, pale grey. It's a little battered but in excellent condition, considering how much abuse it’d gone through while its owner had been alive. But then again, Seokjin would have been disappointed with himself if that hadn't been the case, even if most of the charms cast on it had been practically wrangled out of him — half the time with blackmail, and the other, incessant whining. “This belonged to a friend of mine. She gave it to me for safe-keeping on her death bed because I apparently meet a lot of people. Said to give it to the next medium I ever met, because she would have wished for guidance like this when she was starting out herself.”

 

She had also told Seokjin not to take offence, since it hadn't been like she hadn't had guidance at all, but “you're a great witch, Jin-yah. And you know a lot of things. But you still don't really get it. The spirit world, I mean.”

 

Seokjin hadn't taken offence. She'd been right after all.

 

“Oh.” Taehyung breathes out, taking the book as Seokjin hands it to him, almost as if afraid to even breathe on it. “Wow that's… that's… really something.”

 

“It is, isn't it? Seokjin smiles, “well. It's yours now. Actually, all of them are. The diaries, I mean. I would like my books on rituals and contracts back though. ”

 

Taehyung blinks, “wait. You mean… but aren't these like. Super valuable?”

 

“Er. Academically probably,” Seokjin shrugs. “But to be honest? I've read all of them. Can't do much with the knowledge other than tell people about it. So really, if you think about it, those books only have any real value to you.”

 

“Still…” Taehyung runs his fingers across the front of the book hesitantly.

 

“Still, nothing.” Seokjin huffs, folding his arms. “There's a shit ton of spells and charms on those books, so you don't need to worry about damaging them. I'd be very surprised if you even manage to scratch the covers. All those diaries were entrusted to me for safekeeping, so I could pass then on to the next person who needed it, and that's you.”

 

“I… guess…” but Taehyung does look a little more convinced now, fingers curling around the diary’s spine.

 

“If you really want to pay me back,” Seokjin adds, because he thinks Taehyung might need it. “Then study them well, and start a diary of your own. And then, one day, pass it to me for safe keeping, so I can brag to other people that I once knew the greatest medium the world had ever seen.”

 

Taehyung giggles at that, before shaking his head. “Sure, hyung.”

 

“Ay! What do you mean by that tone? I'm entirely serious!” And he really is, despite his comical expression and tone, which make Taehyung giggle even harder. But it's just as well that Taehyung doesn't realize. If Taehyung isn't careful, he might receive the same notoriety that Seokjin's teacher has one day; and Seokjin thinks he'd like Taehyung to remain like this for now — just a brilliant young man, still in the process of growing into who he is meant to be. “You better study hard, alright?”

 

“Yes, seonsaeng-hyung.”

 

“What? What the f-shit is seonsaeng-hyung?”

 

“It's like seonsaengnim, but because you're my hyung, so seonsaeng-hyung?”

 

“I'm pretty sure it doesn't work that way.”

 

“Hey! As if you can criticize. You're the one who all the terrible puns as juice names.”

 

“Yah! What does that even have to do with anything? And why does everyone insult my puns?!”

 

Yoongi just sighs.

 

~*~

 

“You know, things have been going pretty well considering.”

 

Seokjin is in the middle of preparing a spell - a small and simple request from an old friend, an incubus now living out in Amsterdam, and so takes a while to notice that Yoongi is giving him a horrified stare. “What?”

 

“Did you just… send out an open invitation for the universe to fuck with us?”

 

It takes Seokjin a moment of squinting at Yoongi to realize what his familiar is talking about. “You watch too much television, Yoongi.”

 

“Hey, that trope happens in all sorts of media, not just tv. And fuck you, Murphy's Law is a thing.”

 

“Well, let's just hope that it doesn't go Finagle’s law instead.” Seokjin's lips quirk, even as Yoongi groans.“I swear, you actually enjoy having trouble come fuck you up the ass.”

 

“Well, no one else is, so I ended up having to settle,” is Seokjin's very, very dry reply as he watches Yoongi nearly brain himself on a shelf upon hearing that. “Anyway, trouble always comes, regardless of backhanded invitation or not. And well, Suran still hasn't done the potentially disastrous thing that we've been expecting her to do, so.”

 

“Yeah. She's be surprisingly tame. Even if she totally screwed with us the other day because Taehyung made a mistake with the timing of the contract and we didn't catch it.”

 

“That's par for the course.” Seokjin grins, thinking back to Yoongi’s exasperated “no, noona. You don't need to train him for the ghost not finishing the task because there's a compelling clause worked into the contract. Only your ridiculously powerful ass would be strong enough to ignore it.”

 

“Yeah. It is, which makes me even more antsy.” Yoongi sighs, rubbing his face, only pausing when Seokjin draws a bit of magic, sealing the last step of the spell he's doing.

 

“Well,” Seokjin says carelessly as he picks up the spell, squinting at it before nodding in satisfaction. Finishing glamours always makes him a little reckless. “It'll be fine. Probably.”

 

And at that moment, the phone rings.

 

Seokjin and Yoongi look at each other, both mildly alarmed at that. And then, Seokjin slowly walks over to his ringing phone, picking it up as if it might turn into a snake and bite him.  

 

Objectively, that might be better than what happens next actually. Seokjin has a really good spell for snake bites.

 

Yoongi doesn't even really need the spike of adrenaline and alarm through the bond, nor the pain on Seokjin's face to know that something bad has happened. “You just had to do it, didn't you, Kim Seokjin?”

 

Seokjin hates it when his familiar is right.

 

~*~

 

Picture this — Kim Taehyung doing a very sexy strip tease while grinding onto Jeon Jeongguk's lap.

 

Yeah. Seokjin hadn't quite been able to imagine it either. The only part he'd been able to visualize had been Jeongguk's face during the ordeal, probably flaming red and very, very confused.

 

(And possibly aroused, even though he'd skirted around that fact. Jeongguk might not want to admit it, but everyone around them could tell that Taehyung had a major crush on the werewolf, and once Jeongguk gets over his emotional constipation, the feeling might be mutual.)

 

But point is, despite the obviously burgeoning relationship between the two, Seokjin doesn’t think they’ve even remotely crossed into kissing territory, let along stripper lap dance territory. So, the obvious conclusion is that something must have been done to Taehyung.

 

“Suran-noona?” Is Yoongi’s immediate suggestion, and Seokjin's gut feeling is inclined to agree. But all he says in reply is, “we need to confirm it first before slinging accusations.”

 

“Suran?” Hoseok’s voice sounds from Seokjin's television. He looks worried, even if he's squished in front of the screen alongside Daniel, the other man's face concentrated as he types something on the keyboard, “you mean you think Taehyung got possessed? How?”

 

“I don't know. Me and Yoongi didn't notice anything amiss, and I think Taehyung knows better than to deal with her on his own now,  but it doesn't rule out the possibility.” Seokjin purses his lips, pacing as he thinks.

 

“I've activated the network to keep a look out for Taehyung,” Daniel murmurs, even as everyone's phones beep in unison, even across the video call. They've all gotten the same notification.

 

“Thanks, Daniel. But before anything else, I think we need to find out what’s happened to Taehyung before we find Taehyung himself. Otherwise, we run the risk of even more trouble.” Seokjin taps his fingers on his thigh, chewing on his lips.

 

“Oh, because we wouldn’t know how to deal with him if we do catch him right now?”

 

“Pretty much. We might make it worse if we don't know exactly what's happened to him, possessed or not.” Seokjin looks over at Yoongi. “Did Jimin reply?”

 

Yoongi nods, “just did. He says that Taehyung was supposed to be home. Said he needed to catch up on the homework you gave him. Really starting to sound like this is Suran’s work, Jin.”

 

“I know. But even if it is, we need to know what it was she did, what contract was wrought.” Seokjin runs a hand through his hair. “If it really is Suran though… then we have an obligation to right this as fast as we can.”

 

Daniel knows both Seokjin and Yoongi long enough to not like the looks that they're giving each other and to know that he probably won't like what they're going to say next. “What. What do you mean by an obligation? Jin, you're going to do something dumb again aren't you?”

 

Hoseok takes a moment to digest everything said. And by the time he’s done, Yoongi and Seokjin have already exchanged loaded glances, and have come to same conclusion. And he now has a similar cautious expression on his face as Daniel, and if the situation weren't so dire, Seokjin might actually snap a picture.

 

But it is, and so Yoongi simply sighs and says, “no. The one who will be doing the stupid thing is me.”

 

~*~

 

“You managed to get in without anyone noticing?”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes as he places the phone down onto the nearby table, next to a book open on the table. It’s one of Seokjin’s books on contracts — Taehyung must have been studying it as he’d told Jimin he’d do. “Obviously. Seriously, Jin. If I didn’t manage to, do you think I would call you?”

 

“Oh shut up and tell me what you see.” Seokjin manages to sound annoyed even over the phone.

 

Yoongi squints at the book on the table, looking over the contents of the page that the book is open to, “...it’s open to the page on the basics of Voodoo practices. That’s what you asked him to study, right?”

 

“Yeah, but well. Pages can be flipped.” Yoongi thinks it’s probably not a good thing that he knows exactly what face Seokjin is making. “You have the spell I gave you?”

 

“What is it with you and asking pointless questions whenever you're stressed?” Yoongi complains as he sets the spell down over the book, already snapping his fingers to activate it. “It's like— oh. Fuck.”

 

“Is that a good ‘fuck' or a bad ‘fuck'? I actually can't tell this time.”

 

“It's… neither. Just, Suran-noona blindsided us— yes. I know that's no surprise. But what she did was hide a page with an active contract in one of the books. It's disguised as a reference page. So when Taehyung read the contract words out loud to memorize them it must have activated the contract.”

 

“Oh.” Then. “Fuck.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Ugh. I just realized she totally played me. Back when I gave Taehyung the books, there was a book open. I checked through that one but not the rest. And the book Taehyung is studying now was the one right below.”

 

Yoongi sighs, “yeah, well. Noona has never done things in half. Anyway, I'm going to hang up and take a picture of the contract, okay?”

 

“Yeah, yeah. Okay. I'll take a look at it. And just be prepared. If I think you should come back first I'll just summon you, alright?”

 

Yoongi really hates that, but he knows like he doesn't really have a choice. “Yeah. Noted. Disconnecting now.”

 

Yoongi sends the shots he promises with an unnecessary ‘hurry up’, because it's been ten whole minutes since he's left the shop and he knows he's going to end up being antsy the whole time it'll take Seokjin to identify the contract and wrangle out the specifics of it. He knows it won’t change anything, because Seokjin knows the stakes as well as Yoongi does, and Seokjin will do what is needed faster than anyone else, because as much as Yoongi says otherwise, he is the best in what he does. But, still.

 

It can’t help the way worry crawls under Yoongi’s skin because everything is screaming sharp at him that this is ‘wrong, wrong, wrong’. And yet, he feels so, so dull — his senses feel like they don't reach far enough, even though he knows there’s nothing wrong with his senses at all — it's just the fact that he's not inside the shop where he knows everything that goes on between — every leaf that blows across the floor, every breath that whispers between the walls. And he's just too used to it, that the lack of it feels entirely alien to him. It hadn't been so bad the last time he had to leave the shop, but then, that last time he'd been pretty distracted with a snarling werewolf trying to kill him.

 

“I can't believe,” Yoongi mutters out loud, if only to make it so that the room isn't so nerve-wrackingly silent, “after nearly a decade of not leaving the shop, I have to do so twice, barely months between each incident.”

 

But nobody responds to him, which is just as well, because he's supposed to have snuck into Taehyung’s room without anyone noticing. So if someone does answer him then it would be rather worrisome.

 

And at that exact moment, a book flies off the table, hitting the wall in an extremely dramatic fashion.

 

Yoongi jumps, mostly out of surprise more than anything else, and he tenses more because loud noises might bring someone coming. But a minute passes, and he doesn’t hear anyone in the house stir. It’s late, they’re probably asleep and used to it.

 

Used to it, Yoongi suddenly remembers, because there’s a ghost in Taehyung’s room who keeps knocking books over whenever he gets agitated.

 

“Namjoon?” Yoongi looks around the room before feeling a little silly. It isn’t like he can see spirits. Mainstream media tends to group demons and spirits into the same category, but they couldn’t have been further from the truth. Yoongi would have loved to be able to converse with ghosts really, it’d make life so much easier. But here he is right now, trying to talk to someone who he isn’t even quite sure if is in the room or not.

 

“Right, okay. I can’t see or hear you, just to clarify. I just know about you from Taehyung. I’m from MANA… a friend of Jin’s. If… Taehyung’s told you about us.”

 

Great. He’s staring at a blank wall and looking like he’s talking to himself. Or he is, in actuality, talking to himself. It’s not like he can really tell.

 

But it's not like he has anything better to do anyway. And at least talking will ease the itch under his skin, which staring at Taehyung's very normal and very atypical university student room isn't going to do.

 

“Okay, I'm not sure if you're even here, but if you are... you must be worried about Taehyung… he— well, he might be in a bit of a snag right now, but don't worry. We're doing all we can right now to unsnag him. I swear to you, I'll have him back in… let's say two hours. Fair?”

 

There's a long pause, and Yoongi almost feels a little silly for making promises to the air. But then, a gust of frigid wind blows through the room and then books on the table flip open, their pages rustling uneasily.

 

“Right.” And Yoongi grins, his teeth barred like a shark as his phone begins to buzz. “Two hours. You've got it.”

 

Chapter Text

“You're such an ass, noona.”

 

There's a tilting laugh that comes from the top of the carpeted staircase. It's a laugh that's both familiar and unfamiliar in the strangest way — it's familiar in that he recognizes both the pattern of the laugh and the voice that it sounds in, but unfamiliar in that they both shouldn't have been mixed together in that fashion. “Well, if the price of getting Min Yoongi all cleaned up like this is him calling me an ass, then I'd say it's a cheap price to pay.”

 

Yoongi looks down at the clothes he's wearing — a three-piece suit, properly fitted; a pair of shiny Oxfords, and a neat blue pocket square for colour. Seokjin had picked them all out for him, waving spells like it's nothing to make them all fit. And when Yoongi had complained about it, saying they shouldn't give Suran all the satisfaction by giving her exactly what she'd wanted, Seokjin — infuriatingly oblivious Seokjin — had replied that it isn't, because Seokjin is dressing Yoongi up for his own satisfaction. In that sense, it's playing her up a little, because Seokjin is sure that Suran hadn't expected them to extract this bit of joy from the situation.

 

Obviously, Yoongi can't exactly tell Seokjin that Suran doesn't actually give a rat's ass to how Yoongi looks and that Seokjin enjoying dressing Yoongi up had probably been her goal all along.

 

But he doesn't say any of this, only raises an eyebrow and snorts. “Oh, don't sell yourself short. You put a lot of work into this, haven't you. How long have you been planning this?”

 

Yoongi can practically hear the shrug. “It's not my fault you and your witch took so long to summon me.”

 

A while then.

 

A beat passes, and then Yoongi sighs. He should get on with this. Time is ticking after all. “So, aren't you going to come down?”

 

“Ah… so impatient, Yoongi. Good things come to those who wait.”

 

“Well sure,” Yoongi shrugs, “but your hour started the moment I stepped in here, so it's your time to waste. Not mine.”

 

A dramatic sigh, “you would do well to bend the rules sometimes, Yoongi-yah.”

 

“I do, but not in times like this. Especially, not when I'm the one who stands to lose more.” Yoongi intones, lifting his hand to check the shiny and expensive watch he’s wearing. Seokjin had forced that on him too. Might as well use it. “You have 50 minutes left.”

 

“I see that's the witch’s familiar talking.” And the sound of steps sound as Suran finally descends from above. “What happened, Yoongi? That you treat your noona so coldly now?”

 

Yoongi shrugs, because it hadn't been a question meant to be answered; but also because he's slightly distracted by Suran’s, or rather, Taehyung's, appearance.

 

Suran has dressed Taehyung's body up in a simple black silk suit and has donned what Yoongi would call an abomination of silk, but is actually a probably tastefully beautiful silk robe of marbled teal and jade. Yoongi can't tell — he's never had the patience for fashion. And perhaps it's thin layer of powder on Taehyung's face and the smear of glimmer and red along his eyes, but Taehyung looks far more seductive than he usually is; and it's disconcerting. Yoongi has always known that Taehyung is objectively good looking (he isn't blind), but the boy has always come into the shop like a hot mess with barely combed hair and looking too much like a stereotype of the university student he is, that Yoongi has never thought very much about it.

 

Suddenly, the remaining 50 minutes feel even longer than they already are. “Did you dress Taehyung's body up like that when you went over to terrify Jeongguk?”

 

The lack of recognition in Taehyung's eyes at Jeongguk's name is also mildly disturbing. “...Oh. You mean the little puppy that this human boy has fallen in love with? Ah no, that was a different suit. More intimate. Would you like me to—”

 

“No.” Yoongi feels like he's had a lot of practice saying that lately. “Let's just… tea. That's what we're here for, aren't we?”

 

“I've said it before, Yoongi-yah. The tea is just an excuse to meet.” But Suran gestures to the side, leading her guest to the left, where a an ornate marble table and two matching and extremely uncomfortable looking chairs have been set up.

 

“Couldn't you have offered coffee instead?” Yoongi complains as he sits, “I like the taste better.”

 

“You can have whatever you want, Yoongi. You know how places like these work.” Suran waves a hand, and suddenly, two mugs of steaming black coffee appear on the table.

 

“I do.” Because these were the places Yoongi used to haunt many centuries ago when his bond with Seokjin had still been young, and this had been the very limit that he could pull at his reins, coming here to pretend that he hadn't been caught and collared. All he had to do had been to make his wish.

 

And pay, because places like these don't offer things for free. At least Yoongi trusts Suran enough that she hasn't sold Taehyung to a place like this. She must have given something else — the granting of a boon, or a favour. Or something. It doesn't really matter right now.

 

“I do,” Yoongi repeats, feeling a little more grounded now that he's gotten his bearings. “But the contract said tea, noona. And I'm not going to advocate such an obvious breach of it.”

 

Suran laughs, and it's a rueful one, even if her eyes are sparkling with something like grudging admiration. “At least that witch was good for wiping that suicidal wreckless naivety that you had.”

 

“Mmm. So. Tea?’

 

“Yes, yes.” Suran waves a hand, and the mugs seem to shift, turning into smoke, before transforming into a tea set made of fine bone china, the surface a glazed and crackled blue. “There. Tea. Happy?”

 

“I'm only going to be happy when this is over and you release Taehyung's body so I can bring him back.” Yoongi sighs, tapping his fingers against the marble table.

 

“Ugh. So impatient.” Suran picks up the cup and sips at it, it looks oddly delicate in Taehyung's large hands, thin handle perched between long and sculpted fingers. “At least drink your tea?”

 

“It's not like if I drink the tea, you'd dispel the contract early.” Yoongi snorts, eyes barely flickering down to the cup offered to him, vapours bringing a sourish scent rounded with sugar to his nose. “So what is it that you want to talk to me about that you plotted to such lengths just to get me alone?”

 

“Mmm… nothing much. I just wanted to talk to you. You never leave that shop anymore, and I didn't want to wait… what? Another fifty years? Before I could talk to my cute little dongsaeng.”

 

Yoongi can't stop the scathing disbelief from crossing his face. “All this just so you can talk to me?”

 

“Yes. Well, I thought you might appreciate it. I doubt you'd have wanted to talk about your feelings about the witch within earshot of the witch himself.”

 

If anything, the expression of incredulity only strengthens on Yoongi's face. “Wait. What? You went through all that trouble just to get me here to say things I've already told you a fucking two hundred years ago?”

 

And it's been two hundred years since you came to me and told me all about your ‘sobering revelation’ that made you all boring. So I want to hear if any progress has been made!”

 

“Well, you wasted your time, because there isn't any progress. There wasn't supposed to be any progress!”

 

“And why in the world not? It's been two hundred years. I know you're lacking in charm, but even you should have been able to manage some progress in two hundred years.”

 

Yoongi sighs, rubbing his fingers against the bridge of his nose. He genuinely looks like he's in pain. “Noona…” He repeats, slowly and gently, like he's speaking to a very small child. “There's no progress because there isn't supposed to be. Whatever I feel about Jin is for myself to feel. I was never going to force it on him, and that's not going to change.”

 

“Oh my god—”

 

“You have no god to call upon, noona.”

 

“Oh shut up. You're really hopeless, Yoongichi.”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes.

 

“No, seriously. You obviously think that this is the right thing to do because you think how the witch feels about you will never change. But it could. Seriously. It's been two hundred years. Even if witches are more stubborn because they live so long, that's still more than enough time. Heck, the two of you are so domestic now compared to before. It's so gross. I thought you two were an old married couple actually. Been married so long, all the romance just got sucked out for practicality—”

 

“That's just the consequence of being land-bound.” Yoongi rolls his eyes.

 

“Ugh. Blind, blind. And your witch equally so, even if in an utterly different, even more infuriating way.” Suran leans back dramatically. “I can't believe I wasted so much time and effort into something so useless.”

 

“I would have told you that, if I knew this was what you were going to do.” Yoongi snorts, before leaning back, glancing at his watch. Fifteen minutes have passed. It's probably long enough. “We both know you would have done all this anyway, wouldn't you? Boredom really brings out the worst in you.”

 

“What are you saying, Yoongichi?”

 

“I'm saying you can stop pretending to be annoyed, noona.”

 

At that, the facade of annoyance on Suran’s face slips off like a layer of hot melted butter, and she leans back, all too relaxed for someone so agitated just five seconds earlier. “This doesn't mean I'm uninterested in your situation though.”

 

“Oh please.” Yoongi rolls his eyes, “you'd prefer me to be suffering. That would be far more amusing for you wouldn't it?”

 

Suran shrugs, “either way works, as long as it's not stagnation. And before you ask, no, I didn't really have to include this medium boy in this, but it was annoying me. He has such human beauty and it was all going to waste with those shapeless, dirty clothes. I wanted to dress him up for once. And doesn't he look gorgeous like this?”

 

Yoongi'd figured. Suran had always been unhealthily obsessed with beautiful humans. “But did you really need to sneak into Jeongguk's room and give him a lap dance, and possibly traumatize them both? There are easier ways to get our attention.”

 

“Easier, more boring ways.” Suran pats her cheek, or rather, Taehyung's cheek, “besides, this boy had some very interesting daydreams. I just thought I'd do him the favour of acting one of them out.”

 

“Stop peeking into little boys’ daydreams, noona. It isn't nice.”

 

“Mmmh.”

 

“So.” Yoongi asks, after a pause, “are you going to tell me who it is?”

 

“Who what is?”

 

“Don't act dumb, noona. You're good at it, but I've known you so long.” Yoongi taps his fingers twice on the table. “Who was it that offered you a contract?”

 

Suran pauses before she leans back, lips curled into a teasing smile. “You could guess?”

 

“Noona, as I already said, checking up on me because you're concerned about me? That's a terrible cover story. And besides, as much as we demons are tricky, we'd never bother writing out a contract of our own. It's too boring. So, someone else must have written that contract you hid within Taehyung's books.”

 

Suran smiles, and Yoongi knows he's right. She doesn't offer anything else.

 

“So, who is it?”

 

Suran sighs, before taking out a phone from her pocket. It's Taehyung's phone. Yoongi would recognize that cracked screen anywhere. “You reminded me. I should probably send a status update to my contractor. Say cheese.”

 

And before Yoongi can protest, Suran has taken a goddamned selfie with Yoongi gaping in the background. By the time Yoongi has gathered his wits, Suran is already busy typing away on the phone. “I think I'll send this to your witch too. He took pride dressing you up tonight, and I doubt you gave him a chance to take a photo.”

 

“He would have pulled the memory out of his head with a spell if he’s that desperate.” Is Yoongi’s confused reply. “What the fuck are you doing, noona?”

 

“Like I said. Status update.” Suran chuckles as she continues texting. “Oh. Oh wow. I underestimated him. This is going far smoother than I thought.”

 

“Him?” And Yoongi can feel his own hackles rise, the sinking feeling in his stomach sudden and severe. “Who the fuck is your contractor, Suran?”

 

“I'm surprised your witch didn't guess from the way the contract was written. I'm told his magic has a very distinct mark and style.” Suran shrugs, before letting out a small, amused thrill. “Oh, look, Yoongichi. He sent a selfie back. Want to see?”

 

Yoongi doesn't really. But he knows he must, if only to confirm the painful suspicion that has sunk into his gut. And the minute he sees the selfie, he closes his eyes, because, fuck. He and Seokjin have been played like a fucking fiddle.

 

Because in that selfie, along with very tired looking, very tied-up Seokjin, is a man. It's a man that Yoongi has only seen several times across the whole time he's been bonded with Seokjin, and all the times he's seen this man is associated in his memories with a shitload of Trouble TM , with a capital ‘T', bolded and underlined in case you weren't sure of how much trouble that man always brings.

 

Fuck.

 

But as much as he wants to run back to the shop right now, he has an order he has yet to fulfill. And he glares at Suran. “Great, so you've fulfilled your contract with him I guess? Will you let Taehyung go now, or are you going to be pedantic and make me stay glaring at you for the last remaining fifteen minutes?”

 

“Mmm… you've become so obedient, Min Yoongi. I see less and less of the feared demonic cat of Seollal and more and more of the little house cat that you once used to be. Even your legend has morphed, and they give credit to a stupid little made up goblin now.”

 

“You mean, Yakwanggy? Who cares? In the first place, that only happened because you got me rip roaring drunk, and I decided it was a good idea to go around scaring humans and peeing on their shoes.”

 

“Ah… good times. I wish we could run around like that again.”

 

“And we'd probably end up being sealed in some jar or something by hunters for a hundred years. Not so fun,” Yoongi huffs. “Stop procrastinating, noona. I have a master to save.”

 

“Fine, fine.” Suran sighs, leaning back. “You can have your medium boy back. I still have another 45 minutes of tea with you anyway.”

 

“Actually, that contract was void the moment you pulled this stunt.” Yoongi half snarls, the shadows in the room suddenly rearing up, gathering like smoke around the familiar’s body, “can you just hurry the fuck up and let the boy go?”

 

“Ah. Well.” Suran shrugs, seemingly unaffected. “It was fun while it lasted. Besides, if you suck too much at possessions, I think your witch may hazard a chance and summon me again.”

 

But before Yoongi can think up any sort of retort, Suran waggles Taehyung's fingers, giving Yoongi an all too playful smile and wink. “See you, Yoongichi. Get laid sometime this century, won't you? It's a new age after all. You should follow Umji’s example and embrace new sensibilities, so don't let dated traditions hold you back, alright?”

 

Yoongi is beyond done at this point, and his hackles are raised, because all his instincts are pounding at him to get back to his master, and Suran is in the fucking way of him doing so. And he’s about five seconds away from strangling Suran, but then, Taehyung's eyes suddenly roll to the back of his head, and Yoongi watches blankly as the medium flops forward, forehead hitting the marble table with a loud thunk.

 

Yoongi stares at Taehyung for a moment before deflating, the shadows disappearing into the air with an anti-climatic whisper, “...oops.”

 

~*~

 

Seokjin really should have known.

 

He's sore, tired, and sitting on the ground all tied up, and he really, really should have known.

 

“Are you still sulking, Seokjin-yah? I know that I said it was cute all those years ago, but there's a limit to cuteness, alright?”

 

Seokjin has to resist really hard to not roll his eyes like a petulant teenager. He's not too sure if he succeeds or not. “I'm not sulking,” he says, more calm and collected than he actually feels. “Nor am I trying to be cute. I'm just tired and would like to stop being tied up on the floor since half an hour ago. So, would you please, please , untie me, seonsaeng?”

 

There's an all too hearty laugh, and Seokjin looks up, knowing that he'll see that annoyingly blank expression on that annoyingly youthful looking face. And it annoys him all the more, because the man standing over him looks so unassuming, but Seokjin knows from experience, that the more blank and unassuming the man seems, the more alert and dangerous he actually is.

 

“Seonsaeng? You're not going to bother with honorifics? Don't you have any respect for me left, Jin-yah?”

 

“...I do. But I don't like showing you I do.” Seokjin says dully, after a moment. “I only add honorifics when you're not around to hear them.”

 

The other man blinks, before he laughs again, shaking his head wryly. “Ah… I wasn't sure if I should have used those ropes since they have a small truth compulsion spell woven into them, but it's turning out to be a lot more fun than I thought.”

 

“Glad you're enjoying yourself, seonsaeng,” another dull reply, even as Seokjin tries at the ropes again to no avail — he remembers his teacher telling him that he'd learnt how to tie knots from sailors while travelling out at sea. Yeah, Seokjin probably won't be getting out of these by wriggling any time soon.

 

“Mmm… I’m glad that I am too.” Seokjin’s teacher bends over, patting the witch’s head with a small smile on his face. “But I suppose that’s to be a given. I’m meeting with my adorable student after so long after all.”

 

Seokjin knows that it’s extremely juvenile to do so, but he rolls his eyes. Earning another laugh from his teacher. “Well, it's going to take a while for your familiar to get back, especially since you can't just summon him back right now. So what should we do in the meantime?”

 

Seokjin can feel the magic pushing at him to say the words that surface in his mind. And he can probably fight it, and he sort of wants to, in a childish, defiant way. But he knows he has to pick his battles. “I don't know, seonsaeng. Maybe let's just stare at each other blankly until my familiar arrives, or you get bored staring at me and decide arbitrarily on some kind of deal to motivate me to escape — whichever comes first.”

 

“Oh? You aren't motivated to escape?”

 

Seokjin sighs, “I am, mostly because my thighs and hands are starting to hurt. You know I have poor blood circulation, seonsaeng. This is just abuse at this point.”

 

“Did you have poor blood circulation?” His teacher looks bewildered, but Seokjin knows full well his teacher remembers. Asshole. “Ah well, if it's bothering you that much just break yourself out then.”

 

“And make a fool of myself failing miserably in front of you? No, thank you.”

 

“Oh… don't sell yourself short, Jin-yah.” His teacher smiles benignly. “You wouldn't fail miserably. You'd get some headway, make a good attempt, even if you'd ultimately fail.”

 

Seokjin can't help his scathing tone, even as he tries to keep his words light. “Oh, thank you, seonsaeng. That makes me feel so much better.”

 

“You're welcome.”

 

“It's called sarcasm, seonsaeng.”

 

“Indeed, it is. But your reaction has always been funnier when I pretend I don't know.”

 

Seokjin lets out a long, long sigh. “You've lived too long, seonsaeng. You're so bored, you're starting to grasp the most inane things to amuse you.”

 

“And you're so much younger than me, and yet you act like an old man,” his teacher points out. “Settling down in this shop and becoming land bound. I imagine you even soak your feet in herb-infused hot water every night to chase away the chills and aches in your bones when you should have none.”

 

“I stand every day selling things in the shop.” Seokjin says, but only because he doesn't want to hiss out something even more pissy. So what if he enjoys his 21-herb special mix foot baths? He stands for nearly ten hours a day. He deserves it.

 

“Yes, standing. So much work your feet get.” His teacher drawls, before remarking, his tone far too off handed and distracted, “mmm… I travelled in from Ilsan yesterday.”

 

Seokjin knows that his teacher means by foot. He doesn't intend to give his teacher the satisfaction. “Was the bus ride nice?”

 

“You know I only travel around by foot whenever possible, Seokjin-yah.”

 

Seokjin struggles for a moment, before he gasps out a grudging, “I know.” He hangs his head for a moment, suddenly feeling entirely too exhausted. “I hate you.”

 

“Yes, you made that very clear, the last time I visited and you threw the… What was it? At me?”

 

Seokjin can't actually remember, but, “think it was a jar of olives.”

 

“Was it? Funny. I remember it being a pot of spider venom. But I suppose the truth spell would know better.”

 

Oh.

 

Excellent.

 

“It's sad we can't get along better.” His teacher taps his foot on the floor even as he starts to pace. “But then, I suppose it's no surprise, since you ended up so different from me.”

 

“You used to say that was a given, since you wouldn't have chosen someone the same as you. That would have been too boring.”

 

“I did, didn't?” His teacher fold his arms, and, fuck. He's giving Seokjin the look. The one Seokjin hates. It makes him feel like some kind of specimen, like the kind Seokjin himself pickles and then puts into charmed jars and bottles for preservation. “Still, you're far more different than I am, than I'd have ever predicted.”

 

“Still sore about that?” Seokjin's voice is dry. “Still unhappy that for once you can't have your cake and eat it too?”

 

And Seokjin allows himself to be gratified by the slight frown that graces his teacher's face now. It's oh so slight a change, but Seokjin knows that that's as good a reaction as someone else stomping their foot in anger. “You make it sound like I hate that you're different from me.”

 

“You don't? You've mentioned your exasperation and disappointment over our differences in opinion of magic practices many times, seonsaeng.”

 

“It's a source of consternation at times, but not for the reasons you might think.” His teacher shrugs, stepping towards the shelves. “That isn't to say that I'm not proud of what you've achieved.”

 

Seokjin stares, “what kind of bullshit are you spouting now?”

 

“I tell the truth all the time, Seokjin.”

 

“No, you speak only the truth, but only speaking the truth doesn't mean you don't lie with words you choose to omit. I thought the only person under a truth compulsion charm was me?”

 

And then, Seokjin witnesses a very strange thing. His teacher avoids the question. “Mmm… sure. I must say, even if I don't agree with being bound to so many liabilities, you've been seeming to thrive in circumstances as these.”

 

It's not that it's unusual for his teacher to slip around questions he doesn't want to answer. Actually, that's his primary mode of operation in general. Seokjin has seen it happen all the time. Except, he's never had his teacher use it on him — his teacher always has something to say in reply to Seokjin. It's really weirding him out.

 

“Are you just going to stare at me blankly, right after I've just complimented you? Say something at least.”

 

Okay. “Um. What the fuck?”

 

His teacher sighs, “if anything, your foul language annoys me far more than any disagreement over magical practices. What's this?”

 

Seokjin knows that the praise and the question are all but bait that his teacher is throwing out to affect a conversation change, appealing to Seokjin's ego to answer. But to be honest, he only bites because he's too bewildered to do anything but. “A charm.”

 

“Yes, I know. But what kind of charm?”

 

For a moment, Seokjin stares at the charm in his teacher's hands, the glitter of a rainbow of stones glinting in the dim light. He stares at it, long and hard, to the point that his teacher actually shifts, looking a little bored. “Any time this century, Jin-yah.”

 

Seokjin finally looks back at his teacher, before he shrugs. “I wasn't answering because I'm actually not sure.”

 

“You're… not sure.”

 

“Yeah.” Seokjin shrugs again, “I experiment a lot.”

 

The unimpressed look his teacher is giving him now is, ironically, rather impressive. “But this is one of those experiments, no? Are you telling me you don't remember what it does?”

 

“I experiment a lot.” Seokjin reiterates, before giving his teacher a calculated roll of his eyes. “If you're so curious, you could test it yourself.”

 

Anyone else wouldn't have realized that anything had changed. But Seokjin had perfected observing his teacher down to an art, and he can see the slightest twitch of his teacher's eyebrow and the way his face just seems to go even blanker. He pretends not to notice, hoping that his teacher won't notice him noticing.

 

It works.

 

There's the slightest crackle of magic in the air, and then a smell like the air before lightning strikes.

 

And then, everything happens at once.

 

His teacher's magic has always been like a lightning strike, a sharp, directed bolt, cleaving down to wherever he releases it. And it's probably the way his magic is that makes the effect of the charm even worse, the way Seokjin’s softer, nudging sort of magic wouldn’t. So instead of crumbling and dissipating softly into the air into a glittering cloud, the charm simply explodes instead. And along with it comes a backlash of amplified magic.

 

Someone who isn't expecting it would react exactly like his teacher. In fact, his teacher reacts pretty well, all things considering. Most would scream, maybe fall over, casting a bout of accidental magic that would put a hole in the ceiling; his teacher simply flinches a little, immediately putting up a protective barrier around himself. But of course, Seokjin is expecting it, and what he does instead, is grab hold of the errant magic, practically manhandling it with his own and jamming it down onto his bonds to free himself, the ropes ripping apart with the sound of sweet, sweet freedom.

 

But if he were to stop there, Seokjin probably would end up back in his bonds if he falters even for a split second and lets his teacher recover. So he doesn't.

 

The loud roar he releases as he practically charge-tackles his teacher to the ground is definitely unnecessary, as is the triumphant cry when he manages to shatter the barrier his teacher had cast, hastily using the remaining magic in the air to pin his teacher to the ground. “Fucking, yes.”

 

And oh all the blessed gods of every pantheon, if only he could somehow get ahold of his phone and capture his teacher's expression, because his teacher is staring up at him with an expression of utter exasperation, and it seriously is the most unguarded emotion that Seokjin has ever gotten out of him. “That, was the most unglamorous, inelegant and brutish use of my style of magic I've ever seen. I feel as if someone has literally spat all over my grave — that's the amount of dishonor I feel right now.”

 

“Oh, shut up. It worked, didn't it?” Seokjin rolls his eyes as he looks over his hasty binding magic and quickly tightens it at the seams. And he beams as he looks over his good work straightening so that he's sitting on his haunches over his teacher's thighs. “I've finally managed to use magic to pin you to the floor.”

 

“Well— that’s… way fucking more than I was expecting of a teacher and student situation. Did I arrive back too early or something?”

 

Seokjin is too much in a good mood for even that to spoil it. “Early? You're fucking late, Yoongi. I had to bust myself out all by myself.“

 

“I see that,” and seriously, his familiar could do to look a little happier about it — less work for him to do after all. “It's a little more surprising than seeing you bent over your teacher like you're going to hump him.”

 

Seokjin rolls his eyes, even as he pushes himself off his teacher. “Oh, please. His face annoys me too much to even be remotely in the mood to get off.”

 

Yoongi closes his eyes and groans.

 

“As charming as this all is,” Seokjin's teacher calls out from his uncomfortable position, “do you think you could explain how you even managed to escape?”

 

Seokjin stares at his teacher. “Is that the first thing you ask? I thought you'd ask to be let go. Like… most people would.”

 

“Oh.” And there is a slight ping of magic in the air, and then, infuriatingly, his teacher somehow manages to slide out of the magic Seokjin had cast to hold his teacher down, still entirely intact. But his teacher sits up, expression now turning slightly amused, mostly due to Seokjin sound of utter dismay, probably. “Yeah, not the best spell to cast — a slight modified version of my own. But everything else was pretty good. How did you do it though? It's like you were expecting that way of magic.”

 

“Why is it you expect me to gloat?” Seokjin sighs, before continuing on mournfully, “it's because I was expecting that wave of magic.”

 

Yoongi's expression is extremely dry as he looks down at the ropes on the floor, and as he stares at them, they beginning to unravel, disappearing as the tips seem to burn up into thin air. “I thought you weren't going to gloat?”

 

“I never said I wasn't going to.” Seokjin sniffs affectedly, picking off a piece of lint from his clothes. “Why wouldn't I gloat when I escaped because my teacher was so confident of his own truth spell, he didn't think I could twist the truth.”

 

Now, Seokjin's teacher is staring at him. “What.”

 

“I said earlier didn't I? ‘Only speaking the truth doesn't mean you don't lie with words you choose to omit’.” Seokjin can't help but smirk a little. “I didn't remember exactly what the charm did. But had an inkling, and that inkling just happened to prove right.”

 

“Well,” there's an extremely unfamiliar look on his teacher's face right now. One Seokjin has never seen before. “I'm actually kind of impressed.”

 

“I can't believe I'm actually seeing your impressed face for once. It's very underwhelming.”

 

“Mmm…” his teacher shrugs before gesturing over at the spell still active on the floor. “Aren't you going to dispel this?”

 

Seokjin has already begun to move away. Even with his teacher here, there is still work to be done, dealing with the aftermath of an unexpected possession is no joke after all. “Am I going to dispel what?”

 

“The spell you have on the floor.”

 

Seokjin turns to look at his teacher in confusion. “Now why would I do that when it still has you pinned to the ground?”

 

His teacher looks down at himself, standing, before looking back up with a look of bemusement that sort of explains itself.

 

Seokjin snorts, “I know how it looks,” he says impatiently, “but you're in the heart of my shop right now. Maybe, you might be able to break out if Yoongi wasn't back. But, still. Even if I'm not as powerful as you, I'm no slouch. Plus, you cast a magic amplification charm where the core of my magic is. So, it's a toss up to whether you could have anyway.”

 

There's a pause, and then the image of his teacher wavers, and he reappears on the floor, still eagle-spread in the same position where Seokjin had pinned him down into. Seokjin can hear Yoongi's impressed grunt of surprise behind him.

 

His teacher manages to push the spell a little so that he can at least move his head to look at Seokjin. “Well, I must say you're impressing me far more than I had expected. I'm not too sure how to feel about that.”

 

“Well, you can take your time to think. You're going to be stuck like that for a while.”

 

“Oh? And how long are you going to keep me like this?”

 

“I'd say forever, but I don't want you in my shop forever, so whenever I feel like letting you go I guess.”

 

“I could try to break out first.”

 

“Be my guest. It’d help with your boredom anyway. Come on, Yoongi, let's go.”

 

Yoongi, who has been watching the scene with no small amount of amusement, pauses and let's the confusion he feels leak into his voice. “What? Go where?”

 

“To Daniel’s place. I presume you were a smart boy and brought Taehyung there.”

 

“Of course I did— wait, we're both leaving the shop?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Did meeting with your teacher make you lose your mind? Don't mind me stating the obvious, but if we both leave, there's not going to be anyone to protect the shop.”

 

“Yeah. But we don't need anyone to because fucking Seo Taiji is inside my shop right now.” Seokjin stabbed his thumb in the direction of his teacher. “No one in their right mind would dare to attack. Actually, even crazy people probably wouldn't attack either.”

 

Yoongi looks at the man still lying prone on the floor. “He's pinned down by your spell right now.”

 

“Uhuh. But people wouldn't know that.” Seokjin is already walking to the door. “And even if he were to attack the shop himself, we have maybe an hour before he figures how to break himself out. So if you're worried, let's get going and be back before then.”

 

“I won't attack your shop.” Seokjin's teacher, Taiji speaks out. “Even I wouldn't dare to mess with magic as old and set as this.”

 

“See,” Seokjin turns around with a dramatic sweep if his imaginary robe. “Come on, let's get going. Chop, chop. No time to waste.”

 

There isn't very much else Yoongi can do but follow at this point. But right before he leaves, he hears Taiji say to himself, “ah… my student is all grown up. I remember when he still couldn't even bear to cast a harmless curse on a little flywing. Now he's pinning his teacher down to the floor with an reinforced immobility spell. He's grown to be so cruel, ah… what is a teacher to do but be so proud?”

 

Yoongi looks down at the floor and wonders if the devil would listen to a prayer to spare him from the eccentricities of witches.

 

~*~

 

When Taehyung wakes up, there is, expectedly, a lot of yelling.

 

Taehyung yelling because mostly because he's disoriented, and the last memory he had before blacking out had been of Suran probably declaring something ominous sounding and then swooping dramatically at him with probably glowing red eyes. And this causes Jungkook to start yelling for Seokjin because he's supposed to alert Seokjin when Taehyung wakes up — although in hindsight, Taehyung's yelling probably has alerted the whole household that he's awake. Of course, Seokjin naturally reacts to everyone yelling by yelling as well as he barrels into the guest room that they've put Taehyung up in. And behind him, Yoongi is yelling at Seokjin to stop fucking yelling because if he doesn't yell as well, no one would be able to hear him over the racket.

 

“Ahem.”

 

And then, it all stops.

 

Hyejung stares at all of them where she stands in the doorway. No one really knows how she'd gotten them all to shut up with just a firm word, least of all Taehyung, who still looks disoriented, groggy and confused as to even his own existence. But, it’d happened.

 

“Jeongguk, sweetheart, come with me and we can get some food to bring up for Taehyung, okay? Possession usually makes people really hungry after. Jin, Yoongi, conduct your check-up, preferably with less screaming. And Taehyung, honey? Don't worry and calm down. You're in safe hands now.”

 

“I'm still convinced that Hyejung has siren blood in her family line somewhere,” Seokjin says after the housewife has left, a wide-eyed Jeongguk in tow.

 

“Possibly,” Yoongi remarks before nodding over at Taehyung. “Pay attention to your patient.”

 

“Oh, right.”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes even as Seokjin returns to Taehyung's side, strong hands coaxing Taehyung to lean back against the pillows he'd stacked upright. The medium still looks dazed and confused, even if recognition is slowly returning to his gaze. “Jin… Jin-hyung?”

 

“The one and only. Take it easy, alright? Your body’s had a rough night.”

 

“What?” Taehyung groans, eyes flickering to Yoongi. “Where am I? I… Yoongi-hyung? But this... doesn't look like the shop?”

 

“No. You're right. We're at Daniel’s place. One of his guest rooms.” Seokjin confirms, gently pulling Taehyung's blanket back before waving his hand over the medium’s body, frowning a little. “I don't detect any residue energy, but maybe I should just do the salt purification in case?”

 

Yoongi hisses a little at that. “If you are, then I'm gonna go out of the room. The last time you did a purification, I was sneezing for the whole week.”

 

“Salt purification?” Taehyung's eyes widen now, and he looks a little more alert. “What? What happened? The last thing I remembered was practicing reading some contract invocation, and then… Suran-sshi… she…”

 

“Popped up and possessed you?” Yoongi finishes dryly, “yup.”

 

“Oh.” Taehyung blinks, processing this. Then, “wait. What?”

 

“Can't you be at least a bit more delicate?” Seokjin hisses at Yoongi, half staring at an increasingly wild-eyed Taehyung in mild consternation. He'd planned on breaking the news slowly and gently. Now how is he going to handle this?

 

“Wait— I go possessed? How?”

 

Seokjin winces, “It was… my fault, our fault.” He gestures over to Yoongi as well. “We didn't notice that Suran had snuck a working contract into one of the books I had given you. So when you read out the invocation tonight, it activated the contract and summoned Suran.”

 

Taehyung’s wild expression doesn't calm down any bit. “She— I— what? What did she do that for? That means I was possessed? I— what the fuck?”

 

“I already confirmed earlier than you got possessed. Did it fly right past your head?”

 

“Not. Helping!” Seokjin turns around and throws at Yoongi the nearest thing in hand, which happens to be a purifying crystal Seokjin had in his pocket. Yoongi yelps when it bounces off his hand, a sharp zing filling the air. “Ow! You fucker—”

 

“Jin-hyung?” the tone of Taehyung’s voice has both witch and familiar swerving to stare at at the medium in some alarm, because Taehyung’s voice sounds unusually faint. “I… I feel sore all over? What… I got possessed? I… What did Suran-sshi do?”

 

Seokjin looks at Yoongi, and Yoongi looks over at Seokjin. Neither of them speak for a moment.

 

The silence obviously doesn’t help Taehyung’s state of mind. And when he speaks again, his voice is bordering on hysterical. “Jin-hyung. What did Suran-sshi do ?”

 

“Woah. Okay, calm down, kid.” And of course, Yoongi is the one to break first. Softie. “She didn’t do anything too bad. This whole ploy was to get me and Jin really, and we’re really sorry that you got caught up in it.”

 

“I— but she still did stuff right?” Taehyung turns his wide-eyed gaze to Seokjin and, man, Taehyung is really hanging out too much with Jeongguk, because that puppy dog look has Jeongguk’s trademark all over it. “I really hurt all over.”

 

“I’ll… give you some pain potions for that?” Seokjin tries before he winces at Taehyung’s incredulous look. “Okay, she might have… climbed up this building to get into Jeonggukie’s room and then jumped down from the window. That might be why your body is feeling all sore.”

 

“Jumped down from the window?” Taehyung’s eyes are wide. “Jeongguk lives on the third floor.”

 

“Well… with magic of course.” Seokjin tries to keep his voice light, “but your body probably isn’t used to moving those muscles, so they would still ache.”

 

“I— wait,” Taehyung’s eyes narrow suspicious. “Why would she bring me to Jeongguk’s room. What did she do? What did I do?”

 

“Er—” Seokjin glances at Yoongi, trying to think of a better way to break the news to Taehyung than to drop a bomb on him.

 

Unfortunately, Yoongi takes this moment as one of the off-chances where he reads Seokjin’s expression wrong and takes the feelings of panic rushing through the bond as wanting Yoongi to drop the bomb instead. “You gave Jeongguk a lap dance.”

 

Seokjin lifts his hands to hide his face with a groan. He doesn't move from that position for a long while.

 

Meanwhile, Taehyung looks like his brain has short-circuited for good this time. “I… what ?”

 

“You gave Jeongguk a lap dance. Or rather Suran-noona did. In your body.”

 

Taehyung is gaping now. “But… why?”

 

“She wanted to get our attention somehow.” Yoongi shrugs, “she could have gone with something else I guess. But apparently the scenario has made an appearance in your daydreams, and it sounded fun to her to play them out.”

 

Taehyung stares at Yoongi, and after a pause, Yoongi shrugs. “That's what she said at least. I scolded her and told her to stay out of your daydreams, if that's any consolation?”

 

Despite himself, Seokjin feels amused. “Giving Jeongguk a lap dance is one of your daydreams?”

 

“I—” Taehyung replies dazedly before he suddenly sits up ramrod straight, eyes wide and directed at the doorway.

 

Seokjin turns around as well, and sees Jeongguk standing stock still at the door with a trembling tray in his hands, blush having already crept up past the back of his neck. He's been standing there a while.

 

“Er.” Taehyung says.

 

“Er.” Jeongguk says.

 

“Er.” Yoongi says.

 

Seokjin doesn’t say anything. He just presses his fingers to his temple and tries not to be overwhelmed by the headache caused by the amount of emotional constipation in the room.

 

“I—” Taehyung finally squeaks out in the dead silence that ensues. “I should be getting home? I… my family's gonna freak if they wake up and find me gone.”

 

It's something much easier than dealing with the mess of elephants in the room. “No worries. I took care of that. Sent a shikigami to your room. It'll get up and do stuff, and as long as no one talks to it too long, no one should notice anything off.”

 

“A— what?”

 

“Shikigami. It's a paper doppelganger.”

 

“That's… awfully convenient.”

 

“It didn't use to be. Those things are really unreliable normally, but I modified and improved them. Helps a lot that Jimin knows what's happening and he promised to go over to your place first thing in the morning to pick it up and get it out of your house, help make sure it doesn't revert back into a piece of paper.”

 

“Jimin… wait.” Taehyung looks slightly alarmed. “Jimin knows?”

 

“Had to tell him to confirm some things when we were trying to find you.”

 

“Oh. Well—” Taehyung makes the mistake of glancing at the door again. And he quickly looks away, cheeks flushed, as if burned. “Er— actually! I— how are the two of you here? You're not supposed to leave the shop.”

 

Taehyung is just grasping for things to talk about that isn't the supposed lap dancing that had happened at this point. “Yeah— er. There's something super powerful protecting the shop, so we both can come out without worry.”

 

Yoongi raises an eyebrow despite himself. “Did you really just call your teacher a ‘thing'?”

 

Taehyung squints at Seokjin. “Wait, Jin-hyung’s teacher?”

 

This is getting way off topic. “Well, I—”

 

“Jeongguk? Why are you still standing at the door? Go inside and put the tray down.”

 

And it's probably quite a scene, four head swiveling in tandem to stare at the new voice in the room. Hyejung doesn't even seem to notice, gently guiding Jeongguk to put the tray down at the table they'd set up beside the bed for this very purpose.

 

“Come, Taehyung-ah. You need to eat something before taking the pain potions. Jeongguk, could you ladle out some jook into a bowl? Taehyung, do you think you can hold the bowl yourself, or would you like Jeongguk to feed you?”

 

“I— what?” And all the blood vessels in Taehyung's face implode at once, even as Jeongguk stares, panicked and confused at Hyejung. “N-n-no… I… I can… I can f-feed myself-f—!”

 

“Oh? Well, your loss.” And Yoongi looks over at Seokjin with a look of utter bemusement, mouthing the words ‘your loss’ with no small amount of incredulity. “Anyway, Jin-ah. Are you done with your check up?”

 

“Huh? Er. Yeah. But I wanted to—”

 

“Great, then you can help me with something. Yoongi too. Jeongguk, stay with Taehyung and make sure he finished the food and pain potions okay? It's the standard set, so you know in which order to take them.”

 

Seokjin isn't actually done. But the look that Hyejung is leveling at him isn't leaving him any room for argument. And he finds himself standing up and following after the housewife, Yoongi too, is nearly nipping at his heels in his haste to follow. And they file a silent process out the door, leaving a shell-shocked looking pair, and the only sound is Yoongi closing the door obediently behind at Hyejung’s instructive glance.

 

They march down in a neat file downstairs into the living room, where Hyejung suddenly spins on her heels, and Seokjin has to use all of his strength into breaking, otherwise he would collide into her. Yoongi certainly doesn't help, smacking into Seokjin's back.

 

“Stay here.” Hyejung says as she stabs a finger into Seokjin’s chest. “I have to go check on Haru. And behave .”

 

They both watch her march off, still slightly alarmed, and it's only after she exits the room fully that it's like some kind of switch turns off. And they both sort of sag into each other. Seokjin hadn't even realised he'd been standing ramrod straight.

 

“Siren in the family line somewhere.” Seokjin mutters again, and he can feel Yoongi nodding into his back. And after a moment, he pushes himself up and asks, “want to go bother Jisoo to lend us her scrying ball and spy on the two of them?”

 

Yoongi raises an eyebrow, “I thought Hyejung said to behave?”

 

“We are behaving. We're not interfering with whatever is going up there. We're just being… concerned citizens.”  

 

“Concerned citizens.”

 

“Whatever, point is, we're just being the good hyungs we are and watching over them to make sure their inexperienced asses don't do dumb shit.”

 

“Mmm… you have a point. What if one of them decides to get frisky. Got to be handy with a silencing spell so that it doesn't disturb Haru’s sleep.”

 

“I like the way you think for once.” Seokjin grins even as the both of them make their way towards Jisoo’s room. “I like the way you think.”

 

Chapter Text

When Jeongguk gets to the shop the next morning, he's greeted by a pair of very intense stares.

 

He nearly drops the basket of empty potion bottles and a myriad of magical tools that he'd been tasked to bring — all of the items having been left behind after Seokjin and Yoongi had been essentially kicked out of the house last night. “H-holy shit, hyungdeul.”

 

That doesn't deter the intense gazes. If anything else, they only turn even more intense. “Morning, Jeongguk-ah,” one of the intense gazes says in the form of Seokjin's voice. “I see Hyejung very nicely sent you over with our things.”

 

“Yeah. Er… Hoseok was supposed to do it, but Hyejung-noona needed him to help with something.”

 

Seokjin's gaze doesn't move. But Yoongi does take a break to look at his master. “That's interesting. Maybe she felt guilty.”

 

“That, or Jeongguk did something dumb unknowingly and this is punishment.” But before Jeongguk can even react to that, Seokjin continues. “So, what happened last night after we were… made to leave?”

 

“Made to leave?” Jeongguk grips the basket in his hands yet tighter, pulling it closer to himself as if it can protect him. “I thought you guys left because you shouldn't stay out of the shop too long.”

 

A pause. “Well, yes. That is one of the reasons. But as a consequence of that, we missed the ending of your little… time alone with Taehyung.”

 

“My—” Jeongguk squints at Seokjin now — or rather he's narrowed his eyes, but it always looks like people are squinting at him, unless one has the intimidating aura of his teacher, Hyosang or Lee Hyejung. “Were you spying on me and Taehyung last night through a scrying ball?”

 

“...That's not important. What's important is what happened with you and Taehyung last night.”

 

“But nothing happened, hyung!” Jeongguk groans, he has no doubt that Seokjin and Yoongi had tried to spy on him and Taehyung last night — Jisoo too probably, if Seokjin and Yoongi had borrowed a scrying ball from her.

 

“Really.”

 

“Yes! Taehyung ate his food, then I fed him the pain potions and then he said he was tired and going to sleep and he kind of just covered himself with the blanket and I took it as a cue to leave!”

 

There's a long, long pause and what seems into the air in the wake of the silence is a dawning sense of disappointment. And then finally, Yoongi groans, dropping his head onto the nearby table. “No wonder Hyejung sent you here, you absolutely useless pup.”

 

Jeongguk lets out a squawk, which is interesting because he usually doesn't react like that to insults, but he has been hanging around someone who does. But before Seokjin can voice that thought out, there's a loud laugh from the floor that nearly causes Jeongguk to drop the basket again, and then, “oh Jin-yah. This is what being land-bound has done to you. You're so bored that even this kind of juvenile gossip appeals to you.”

 

Seokjin doesn't bother acknowledging that comment with a reply. To be honest, he'd rather not even acknowledge the existence that had made that comment, but obviously, Jeongguk would get freaked out by the strange man lying down on the floor of his workshop. “What the hell? Jin-hyung, there's a man lying on the floor!”

 

Seokjin sighs, glancing over at his teacher, who waves over from his position on the floor with a bright smile. “Yes. I know. I put him there.”

 

Jeongguk now stares at Seokjin, confusion morphing into something like even more confusion. “Why… did you put him there? Who is he?”

 

“I can answer the second question for you,” his teacher says from the floor, ignoring Seokjin’s sound of annoyance. “I'm Seokjin's esteemed teacher, Seo Taiji. And you must be one of the hunters from the Lee Clan. The werewolf son, judging from the damage to your arm.”

Jeongguk instinctively shifts so that his right arm is more hidden from Taiji’s line of sight. It's only after a moment that the words sink into Jeongguk's mind. “Wait— Seo Taiji? Like the witch of legend? Father of Magic? That Seo Taiji?”

 

Seokjin rolls his eyes, unfortunately he has nothing to dispute because the titles his teacher has are well-deserved and it's not like Seokjin has grounds to dispute them anyway. “Yeah. Unfortunately.”

 

“Then… why is he on your floor?”

 

“Because I pinned him down with a spell?”

 

You pinned him down with a spell?”

 

“Hey.” And Seokjin actually does feel kind of offended. “Even if he's powerful, he still attacked me in my shop, where the core of my magic is. And I'm not actually a slob when it comes to magic alright? No matter what Yoongi tries to imply.”

 

“Ok, fine. I guess. But…” Jeongguk wrinkles his nose at the man on the floor. “If he's really Seo Taiji, why would he still be on your floor?”

 

“Oh. That.” Seokjin looks down at Taiji before snorting. “I don't actually know. He should have gotten out ages ago, but he hasn't bothered. Why? I don't know. I've long since given up trying to understand the eccentricities of my teacher.”

 

“Well, you do tend to give up very easily on things.” And Seokjin has to bite back the hiss that rises in his throat at the jibe.

 

“Wait. Seo Taiji is your teacher?” And seriously? Is Jeongguk actually looking betrayed right now? “How come you've never said?”

 

Seokjin sniffles affectedly, and Yoongi knows that an inevitable rant is coming up. “Why would I say anything? My association with that man has given me nothing but trouble. All the time when I was younger, I had people coming up to me as if I was some kind of tourist attraction. It was seriously annoying.”

 

“It was only seriously annoying because they'd come see you and go away disappointed because you were nothing like me.” Taiji suddenly speaks up with a small smirk.

 

“No! It was because everyone kept trying to attack me! I liked learning all the creative ways to craft magic but seriously, nearly getting impaled whenever I went to the bathroom got really really old after a while.”

 

“And because you were tired of disappointing people after a while.”

 

Seokjin sighs, “fine, sure. Fine. It was part of the reason, sure. But, It doesn't matter really— Jeongguk? Just come here and drop the basket off and then you can go. You have class soon right?”

 

“Er. In an hour. Hyejung-noona advised me to leave early for your place. Er, she also told me to tell you that Taehyung is doing fine, and he should be coming down tomorrow as you requested.”

 

Seokjin sighs, looking up at the ceiling as if he might hazard an answer from there. He doesn't even know what question he should ask really. “Of course she did… of course she did.”

 

~*~

 

“So… you must be Taehyung.”

 

Seokjin had known when Taehyung had arrived at his shop. Or rather, Yoongi had known and subtly signalled Seokjin about it. Neither of them did anything in response, because with the frequent rate that Taehyung comes over nowadays, the medium is more than able to just let himself in and make his way up to the shop.

 

Besides, Seokjin has been neglecting his business recently in the wake of all the excitement that had happened. And so, he doesn't look up from the books he's balancing because it's going to be more work if he just stops suddenly like this. Taehyung can entertain himself for a couple more minutes.

 

Unfortunately, Yoongi doesn't notice his teacher magically getting up from the floor. And for once, his teacher is absolutely gentle in his breaking of Seokjin's spell, so Seokjin doesn't notice that he's gotten out until his teacher actually speaks.

 

Taehyung, of course, seems to take this strange man talking to him in stride, “oh! Er— hello? Yes… I'm Taehyung? And you are?”

 

And before his teacher can answer, Seokjin looks up from his books and says, in the driest tone possible. “The guy who contracted Suran to possess you as a way to get mine and Yoongi's attention.”

 

Taehyung looks entirely alarmed at that, even taking a few cautious steps back. And wow, Seokjin thinks that his teacher might actually look annoyed right now.

 

“There was no need for you to frighten him, Jin. I meant him no harm when I made that contract. Even took care to comb over the clauses to make sure Suran wouldn't harm even a hair on him.”

 

“Somehow, I'm pretty sure you managed to exclude muscle aches and emotional damage from those clauses.” Seokjin chuckles, standing up with a last rueful glance to his account books. He probably wouldn't be getting back to them any time soon.

 

“Well, muscle aches build character.” But Taiji does have a troubled look in his gaze. “What kind of emotional damage are we talking about though? I'm pretty sure I wrote murder and manslaughter into the contract.”

 

At this, Taehyung looks even more alarmed, which makes Seokjin snort again. “I'm not surprised that you think that it needs to escalate to murder or manslaughter for a human to incur emotional damage, seonsaeng.”

 

“I don't think that, but the things demon do tend to run towards the dramatic.”

 

“Well, you can be dramatic without commiting murder or manslaughter.”

 

“I suppose you would know that.” And Seokjin really should have seen this jibe coming, “after all you've always been overly dramatic.”

 

“Well, what might be overdramatic to you could be a legitimate worry or concern to others.” And even as hard as he tries, Seokjin can't quite keep the bitter tone out of his voice. “I'm pretty sure Taehyung didn't appreciate what Suran did while in his body, and the feeling he has in the aftermath isn't at all ‘overdramatic’ for him.”

 

Most people would just drop it there. But what Taiji does instead is look over to Taehyung and asks, “so what exactly did Suran do?”

 

And most people would probably tell the strange man asking them rude questions to fuck off (or at least in nicer terms but with the same sentiment). But Taehyung is too nice (or too overwhelmed), and stutters out, “s-she… she made me give J-Jeongguk a lap dance.”

 

A long pause — mostly because even Seokjin can't even figure out what to say in the wake of that mess. And then, his teacher has to ask the most darndest thing: “Jeongguk is the werewolf son of the Lee Clan, correct? Do you hate him or something? From the interrogation my student and his familiar gave him in the morning, I was under the impression that you might like each other.”

 

Understandably, Taehyung looks like he's been socked in the gut. “I-I… no? I mean… he… don't… I don't hate him?”

 

“Okay.” And Taiji’s expression still remains infuriatingly blank. “So… I don't actually see any problem here.”

 

“Okay. Enough.” Seokjin stands, making his way over to stand in front of Taehyung, his arms akimbo. Taehyung has to take a half-step backward to stop his toes getting stepped on. “You wanted to meet the new medium, and you met him. Now stop traumatizing the poor boy and leave?”

 

“I've barely spoke to the boy.” His teacher frowns, unmoving from his spot. “In any case, this isn't why I came here, even if he was a point of interest.”

 

“Can you not speak of people as if they're tourist spots? Seriously.” Seokjin groans, folding his arms. “In any case, if you're not here to see Taehyung then what are you here for?”

 

“Can't a teacher come see his student?” And that small, sincere smile would probably fool anyone, just not Seokjin.

 

Seokjin doesn't budge. “Sure they can. Except you'd never just come over to see me. You definitely have some sort of ulterior motive.”

 

“You're so distrustful of me, Jin-yah.”

 

“With good reason! Every single time you visit, you've always had some ulterior motive, and trouble literally follows you around.”

 

“That's kind of mean to call your old friend ‘trouble'.”

 

“I wasn't referring to Hyosang! And anyway, he's usually the trouble that precedes you. Whatever comes after you is usually, way, way worse!”

 

Taehyung has taken more than several steps backward at this point, his hands out as if he could somehow distance himself more from the argument unfolding right in front of him that way. Yoongi has the feeling that this is the first time he’s seeing Seokjin so… annoyed. Which well, shouldn't be weird, considering that fifty percent of the time Taehyung is around Seokjin, the witch affects a state of crankiness and annoyance. Mostly towards Yoongi, but since Seokjin spends half the time interacting with his familiar, the math sort of works out. But, he supposes this must feel different — Yoongi can sort of tell when Taehyung comes to the sudden realization that the annoyance he's always seen has probably been just an act, exaggerated to make it seem more severe than it’d actually been.

 

And as much as seeing all this is amusing, it's probably time to rescue Taehyung from being stuck in the middle of two witches.

 

The medium nearly jumps out of his skin when there's a tap on his shoulder, and it takes Taehyung a moment to realize that Yoongi is gesturing for Taehyung to follow him.

 

He seems more than happy to escape from what is starting to seem like a whole tsunami that's beginning to crash as Seokjin and his teacher really start getting into their argument. Actually, Yoongi thinks he'd saw literally sparks flying in the air as they both go down the stairs towards the pantry.

 

It's only polite to offer guests some beverages when entertaining them. So Yoongi doesn't understand why, when he asks Taehyung to take a seat and if he'd prefer tea, coffee or hot chocolate, the medium responds with:

 

“What the shit?”

 

Yoongi raises an eyebrow, “I'm pretty sure I asked between tea, coffee or hot chocolate. But if you really want liquid defecation, I'm sure that can be arranged.”

 

“No, I—” and Taehyung barely resists the urge to cover his face with his hands. He doesn't normally get too embarrassed about such things, but it has been a weird, weird day. “Hot chocolate, please.”

 

A small smile on his face, Yoongi takes pity on Taehyung and doesn't harp on it any longer.

 

It's quiet for a long moment as Yoongi gets the stuff to make the hot chocolate. But as he sets the hot water to boil, he suddenly says. “Sorry. That you had to see that.”

 

Taehyung jerks up suddenly, having been lost in his own thoughts. “Huh? Sorry. What?”

 

“Sorry, that you had to see Jin like that.” Yoongi repeats as he meticulously scoops out hot chocolate powder into a mug.

 

“Oh… no. Why are you even apologizing for that?” Taehyung blinks at the familiar, “I'm fine anyway.”

 

“Most people don't like to have other people arguing right in front of them. Conflict, especially unsolicited conflict, isn't something most people enjoy.”

 

“Ah. Well.” Taehyung shrugs, and for once Yoongi isn't quite sure how to read the expression on Taehyung’s face. “It was… interesting.”

 

“Interesting.”

 

“I don't think I've seen Jin-hyung so… riled up before.”

 

“Mmm… he usually takes a more sedate stance nowadays, says anything but is bad for his health.” Yoongi snorts at that, setting the mug back down as they wait for the kettle to boil. “But his teacher kind of makes him all… well, you saw.”

 

“That's really his teacher?”

 

“Yeah. It is.”

 

“He… They seem…”

 

To hate each other, are the words probably left unspoken. “Mmm… it does seem that way doesn't it? They don't though— or Jin doesn't hate his teacher, at least. I can't speak for Seo Taiji-nim.”

 

“Seo Taiji-nim?”

 

“Yeah.” And it's really refreshing to see someone who doesn't immediately recognize the name, whether the react is awe, fear or bitterness. “Also called the Father of Magic, Master of Spells and all around legend. He's really famous in the supernatural circle. Or infamous, depending on who you ask. Imagine having someone like that as a teacher.”

 

“Oh. Wow. I— well. I can't actually imagine it since I've never… been the student of someone… famous.” Taehyung waves a vague hand before he bites at his lip. “But it must have been quite… stressful.”

 

“Probably,” Yoongi shrugs. “I wouldn't know either. Even by observation. I met Jin long after he'd split from his teacher over difference of opinion. Met the man over the years maybe a handful of times. He's never stayed long.”

 

“Oh.” And a long, thoughtful silence ensues. Yoongi thinks that Taehyung is trying to imagine a Seokjin before Yoongi, and it's a little heartening to see from the medium’s expression that he seems to be failing miserably.

 

“Mmm… yeah. I can’t imagine that Jin could be different from his sedate, creaky, pun-loving old man personality either, but apparently, he swears he was a very different person years before I met him.”

 

For a moment, Yoongi thinks he might have broken Taehyung. “But… What… I… he— no.”

 

“I had the same reaction.” Yoongi chuckles, looking down at the cup of cocoa on the counter. “But he told me a few stories. Said that before he split from his teacher he was very conscious about the fact that he had a famous teacher, about living up to the responsibility of being Seo Taiji’s student, of how people viewed him in general. He was young and not exactly confident about who he was.”

 

“Didn't really help either,” Yoongi continues after a pause, gaze going slightly unfocused, “that when Seokjin's magic matured, both he and his teacher realized that as innovative Seokjin is, his magic is truly more suited for traditional methods. And his teacher had been looking for a protege to be exactly like him… so… you could imagine the disappointment his teacher must have felt.”

Taehyung looks mildly consternated now, and if the mood hadn't been the way it is right now, Yoongi might have laughed. “So… yeah. I mean, he did get over it, built an identity for himself and all, even started to argue back to his teacher about the way he did things, so it's fine now. But I can't really imagine that Jin would have been anything like himself back then.”

 

There silence for a while again, Yoongi giving Taehyung yet more time to digest what had been said: that there had been a different sort of Kim Seokjin before the kind, warm and wise shopkeeper of MANA, that Seokjin could be anything but kind, warm and wise really; firm but fair when it came to dealing with any troublemakers sent his way. But Yoongi has seen glimpses of the persona Seokjin had claimed to have back then, a glimmer of sharp polished edges and carefully crafted words, or holding his tongue until opportune moments, careful and narrow-eyed while watching. He sees them most when Hyosang comes, prodding Seokjin until the old habits rise; but also in the times when people still sought Seokjin for being ‘Seo Taiji’s protege’, whenever people try to question Seokjin’s way of work.

 

He sees it too, sometimes, in the quiet of the dark after a late night’s potion spree and Seokjin's mind runs active in all the wrong ways and thinks Yoongi fast asleep; and he goes to the corner with the loose board that he thinks Yoongi doesn't know about, taking out the two ceremonial daggers that his teacher had given him as a way of a initiation gift. They're of gleaming silver, lined with rows protective stones — an extravagant gift meant for the disciple of an extravagant person. But Seokjin has always been a simple man.

 

The water's boiled now, kettle letting out it's sharp whistle in the quietness of the room.

 

Yoongi moves to unplug the kettle, and to pour the scalding hot water into the mug. He doesn't look up when Taehyung asks, “is that why he… gets like that… when his teacher is here?”

 

“You're asking if he holds it against his teacher for the pressure he had being his student?”

 

“Er— yeah. I guess… yeah. That is what I'm asking.”

 

“...I don't think so.” Yoongi says, pausing as he lifts the cover of the sugar jar. “Jin doesn't hate his teacher, that's for sure. As much as he complains about him. But I think… it's more of… Jin sort of… regresses a little whenever he sees his teacher. Taiji-nim doesn't do anything, of course. If anything, I think he's proud of Jin. But I don't think he'll ever be over the disappointment that Jin didn't turn out exactly the way he wanted. Can't help it. And whenever Jin sees him, he's reminded of it.”

 

“But then…that's...” Taehyung pauses as Yoongi dumps in the sugar and milk for his hot chocolate, rubbing a hand against his chest as if his heart actually hurts. “Jin-hyung doesn't need the approval of his teacher. He's awesome the way he is.”

 

“Oh, he knows that. But knowing in your head and agreeing with it on a good day is very different from when you're faced with a stumbling block from the past and telling your heart not to feel what it feels.” Yoongi says blandly, spoon clicking against the ceramic of the mug as he stirs the drink. “I think that's more why he's usually so annoyed when he's around his teacher. He doesn't like feeling like he might be a disappointment when he knows that he's not. And he's more annoyed at himself than anything else.”

 

Taehyung is silent for a while, then he looks up at Yoongi with such fierce determination that Yoongi almost thinks he might catch in fire from the flames in Taehyung's eyes. “Alright. I’m going to tell Jin-hyung how awesome he is later.”

 

The laugh that escapes out of Yoongi is unexpected, but genuine. And a few sniggers later, he places the mug of hot chocolate in front of Taehyung. “Mmm. Alright, then. Do you want marshmallows?”

 

“Huh?” The question catches Taehyung unexpectedly, and he blinks, “er— sure. If you have them?”

 

“Mmm… hold on then.” And Yoongi wanders off towards the cupboards, presumably in search of marshmallows. Taehyung sinks back into silence, and after a moment of watching Yoongi, turns to look at the steam rising from the mug. He has a lot to think about.

 

“So… how's your search for information on that spirit of yours going?”

 

Taehyung jumps, almost knocking the mug of hot chocolate over. “Sorry? What?”

 

“You've been searching for information about the spirit in your room to help him pass on, yeah?” Yoongi repeats, reaching into one of the shelves and rummaging around. “How's it going?”

 

“Oh. That.” Taehyung deflates a little. “Well, I think we managed to find out what’s keeping Namjoon-hyung from moving on.”

 

“Oh? Wait— one second.” And Yoongi lets out a sound of triumph as he pulls out a packet of small marshmallows. “Yeah, okay. Sorry. You were saying that you found out what was keeping… Namjoon? From moving on?”

 

And Taehyung nods, “yeah. Apparently, he was the victim of a botched robbery ten years ago. Guy tried to rob the house, got thwarted by Namjoon, accidentally killed him and then set the house on fire to try to cover it up.”

 

“Ugh.” Yoongi wrinkles his nose as he rips open the bag of marshmallows, handing it over to Taehyung. “Not a great way to go. So, is this a revenge plot?”

 

“What? No… no… Namjoon-hyung isn't that sort of person. He wants to see his sister again.”

 

“His sister?” Yoongi blinks, halfway sitting down. “You didn't say anything about a sister. Drink your hot chocolate.”

 

“I was getting to that.” Taehyung pouts. He makes to dump a handful of marshmallows into his mug, spoon clicking against the sides of the mug as he begins to stir. “But yeah. Namjoon has a younger sister called Kim Geongmin who survived the fire. Namjoon thinks he probably needs to see how his sister is before he can pass on.”

 

“Ah. I suppose that would make more sense. A spirit bent on vengeance probably wouldn't have lasted ten years, memory or no. So, right now you're trying to find this Kim Geongmin? Have you told Hoseok?”

 

“Yeah. I texted him once Namjoon figured out what it was he needs to do. But haven't gotten a reply other than an ‘ok'.”

 

“Gotta cut him some slack.” Yoongi chuckles a little, watching Taehyung finally take a sip of his hot chocolate. “Him and Daniel are both working hard to try to track down the poacher ring from Jeju.”

 

“Oh, they told me about that when Jeongguk invited me over last week. How's that going?”

 

“Slow.” Yoongi shrugs, “the poachers are good at covering their tracks, doing circles around our hunters. Thankfully, it seems no one has been attacked yet? At least, according to Jisoo.”

 

“Well, that's good news?”

 

“Good and bad. Sadly, if the poachers don't make a move, it makes it even harder to find then.” Yoongi taps his fingers on the table. “All we can really do is try to take precautions to make everyone is well-hidden and safe.”

 

“Mmm… is Jeongguk helping with this?” Taehyung suddenly asks, and then, Yoongi watches in amusement as Taehyung's face suddenly bursts into bright, flaming red. “I mean-”

 

“Both Jeongguk and Jae have been told not to stick their noses into this since the poachers would be after them too, being a werewolf and vampire and all. And it’d be a big mess if either of them ended up kidnapped or something. Only Daniel and Hoseok are allowed on account of them being human, and of no value to the poachers.” Yoongi cuts in with a grin, “so you don't need to worry on that front.”

 

Taehyung looks down, and he clears his throat, obviously ready to change the subject. Yoongi doesn't let him.

 

“So, Jeongguk, huh? He came by earlier today.” Yoongi leans over the table, hand propping his chin up. “Seems like the two of you had a lovely night once all of us left.”

 

Taehyung splutters. “W-what? Nothing h-happened!”

 

Yoongi lets Taehyung flounder for a while before he snorts, taking pity on the medium. “Yeah. I know. I was being sarcastic.”

 

“Hyung!”

 

“The question is, why didn't anything happened last night?” Yoongi stares, deadpanned, into Taehyung's flustered expression. “You have a crush on him, don't you?”

 

“I—”

 

“Seriously, no bother denying it. Remember we all know you have some very interesting daydreams about stuff you'd like to do to Jeongguk.”

 

“Oh my god.”

 

“Not god. Very much not god. I'm a demon. A nice one. So nice I haven't told Jin about the other daydreams you've had. Suran likes to overshare.” Not that Yoongi actually did, but Taehyung didn’t need to know that.

 

Taehyung groans, head hitting the table. “Is this some kind of blackmailing plot? What do you want from me?”

 

“Entertainment and a better paced story plot. You two have been dancing around each other long enough. Time to get to the next stage. We're kind of bored with this one.”

 

“That's such an asshole thing to say, Lucifer.”

 

“Demon remember. Although not Lucifer — that guy is way of a bigger asshole than I am. But yeah, kind of goes hand in hand together. In any case, Jin would say the same thing. Heck, the group chat is pretty much of the same sentiment.”

 

“G-group chat? What group chat?”

 

“The one Jin and I have with the Lee Clan hunters, of course. We're all very emotionally invested in the blossoming relationship between you two young uns.”

 

Taehyung lets out a thin noise that sounds like a repressed scream of intense despair from the very depths of his soul.

 

“It's alright. Just know that we're all cheering the both of you on.”

 

“He doesn't even like me that way!” Taehyung groans, rubbing his face in frustration.

 

“Really. Then how do you explain Jeongguk short-circuiting when Jin sent over the selfies?”

 

“Selfies?” Taehyung frowns, looking up, bangs half covering his eyes. “What selfies?”

 

“The ones Suran took when she was still possessing you. She sent one to Jin, and a whole bunch to Taiji-nim. Jin got his teacher to send those to him too.” Or more like forcefully steal them from Taiji’s phone while he was still pinned onto the ground, saying that it was the least Taiji could do for his student. “They should still be in your camera roll.”

 

Immediately, Taehyung goes to pull out his phone, almost frantically opening up his gallery app. “...what the shit?”

 

“Suran has a thing for dressing up pretty boys.” Yoongi shrugs. “She must have been wanting to doll you up since she saw you.”

 

Taehyung lets out a whine, head hitting the table again. “I don't know how to feel about this.”

 

“Happy? Jeongguk seemed to like those pictures. His face turned an extraordinary red according to Hoseok.”

 

“You just said he short-circuited! It could have been just from second-hand embarrassment!”

 

“Or from intense sexual attraction.”

 

“What— no! I… I always thought he was straight!”

 

Yoongi snorts at that. “I mean, I have no clue what his sexual attraction is, because Jeongguk is mostly emotionally constipated and keeps himself away from people so there isn't a very high sample pool to be able to tell. But if he's really straight, then he's going to be single for a really long time.”

 

“What? Why?”

 

“He has no clue how to interact with girls. It was hilarious when Jisoo first came to live with their family. Jae had the time of his life.”

 

“Even then! It could be he's just shy!” Taehyung seems to be trying too hard to convince himself of this, and maybe Yoongi shouldn't pry, because if this crashes and burns, they're all going to suffer for it. But… he has a good feeling about things this time.

 

“...Fine. I'll concede that maybe it was from second hand embarrassment that Jeongguk short-circuited when he saw those selfies—”

 

“See!”

 

“—but… I'm pretty sure that he likes you.” And Yoongi can't help the amusement at Taehyung exasperation. “I mean, Jisoo checked. He didn't save the pictures into his phone. But, apparently, she found something much, much better…”

 

And Yoongi pulled out his own phone, tapping on it a little before turning the screen towards Taehyung. And there's silence for a long, long time as he stares at the image displayed on Yoongi's phone.

 

Because, it's a picture of him — a little blurred, the angle off as if taken in secret. And it probably was, because this looks like the day that Taehyung had gone over to Jeongguk’s place; he's sitting down, a controller in his hands and a look of intense concentration on his face. Jeongguk must have taken it while in the middle of an Overwatch match, that cocky bastard.

 

“I think he likes you just the way you are.” Yoongi smiles a little, at the look of surprise on Taehyung's face. “Not that glitzed up version of you. Just you. Which is… kind of reassuring? Isn't it?”

 

Taehyung doesn't answer, but Yoongi doesn't really expect him too. He puts his phone down on the table before getting up; he probably should check on Seokjin and his teacher to make sure they haven't killed each other yet.

 

“Good luck.” Yoongi wishes on his way out, not bothering to turn around.

 

Taehyung is a smart kid. He'll probably figure things out.

 

~*~

 

“...Wow.”

 

“...Hyung… why… are you staring at me?”

 

Hoseok raises an eyebrow as Seokjin turns around, shouting in the direction of his bedroom, “Yoongi-ah!”

 

There a small grunt, and then Yoongi pokes his head out, “what?”

 

“Are you seeing what I'm seeing?”

 

Yoongi sounds almost comically annoyed, “what?”

 

“Is that Hoseok that I see standing in front of me? Or is that an illusion? I mean, he's so busy these days, doing important work and all, but I think I've almost forgotten how he looks.”

 

Yoongi lets out a very grumpy sound. “Seriously, Jin?”

 

“Not subtle at all, hyung.” Hoseok shakes his head, incredulous smile on his face.

 

“He's been hanging around Taehyung too much. That kid is way too dramatic for his own good,” Yoongi grumbles, disappearing back into the bedroom. “And I'm too tired for this.”

 

Hoseok snorts a little before going over to Seokjin’s side, wrapping the man into a hug. “Sorry, hyung. For not visiting. I should have done so earlier. I missed you actually.”

 

And Seokjin’s eyes soften, leaning into the hug. “It's fine. I was just teasing. There's no need to feel guilty, Hobi-yah.”

 

“I wasn't feeling guilty!” Hoseok lets out a laugh, patting Seokjin's back before pulling away. “I really did miss you, hyung.”

 

Seokjin closes his eyes for but a moment. “Yeah. I missed you too.”

 

“Come. Sit, and I'll pour you some tea. What happened that warranted this visit?”

 

“Honestly? I do have some leads that I would like to run by you to see if you have any extra information that could help us. But I'm really here just to see you.”

 

Seokjin raises an eyebrow. “Wasn’t someone so busy, they didn’t visit in weeks?”

 

“I was— I still am. Just that we’ve sort of hit walls on all fronts, and Daniel decided the two of us should take a break before tackling the issue again. The two of us are so strung out that we’re useless right now anyway.”

 

“Ah.” Seokjin chuckles, gesturing for Hoseok to sit. “Glad you still think that I'm worth visiting in your free time.”

 

“Yah. Of course you are hyung. Stop doing this weird humble thing. It doesn't suit you.” Hoseok sits as instructed, hitting Seokjin's arm lightly as he does. “I prefer my Jin-hyung playfully narcissistic, okay?”

 

Seokjin winks at Hoseok, blowing a kiss before they both break into giggles for a moment. And when they calm down, Hoseok picks up the tea Seokjin pours him, and they settle down into a quiet sort of contentment.

 

Seokjin waits until he has to pour Hoseok another cup before asking. “So I know all this from hearsay, but you found more vampires who probably got caught by the poachers?”

 

“Yeah.” Hoseok makes a face. “We sent out a warning after we discovered the first two. But well. Most of the covens here are on neutral ground with us at best. The ones who only drink pigs blood like Jae that we know of are safe so far. But well.”

 

“Even if they're trouble makers, no one deserves to be hunted down like cattle.” Seokjin agrees with a sigh. “How many so far?”

 

“Just another one, but it's bad enough. It's only been a week.”

 

“Not three?”

 

“No, that's the total number,” Hoseok says as Seokjin nods absently. “And yeah. Same things were taken. Fangs, blood, scalp and fingernails.”

 

Seokjin sighs again. “That stupid fingernail thing. I wonder who spread that stupid rumour that vampire fingernails are more potent to use in voodoo spells. Probably some stupid vampire who thought they could use their fingernail clippings to get a quick buck. Didn't realize the more powerful voodoo spells require whole fingernails ripped out while the subject is still alive—”

 

“Ugh— hyung! TMI! TMI!”

 

“What? Oh. Sorry.” Seokjin blinks before chuckling sheepishly. “Forgot you were squeamish about such things.”

 

“Most people are, hyung.” Hoseok groans, covering his face. “I'm not going to be able to get that image out of my mind any time soon.”

 

“Sorry.” Seokjin repeats again, gently rubbing Hoseok’s back.

 

Hoseok sighs, “it's fine. I'm sort of used to it at this point. Sort of. Or… Not really. But. Whatever. Anyway! I don't really want to talk about work. Let's talk about something else.”

 

“Well, what do you want to talk about then?” Seokjin asks, amused.

 

“How about your teacher?” Hoseok asks after a beat. “He's not around?”

 

“Him? No. He disappeared a day after Taehyung came over. He popped in occasionally over the week. One time literally just to tell me that I needed to increase my stock of buttons and then he just left — like. I know I need to restock my buttons, I’ve known for a while and I’ve been trying, but does he seriously think buttons that have been infused with the energy of a person is easy to get nowadays with the buy and trash consumer culture we have these days? Like seriously, he pretends to be sooooo wise and knowledgeable, but half the things that come out of his mouth literally reveal his ignorance. I—” And Seokjin takes in a deep breath, having seen Hoseok’s increasingly alarmed expression. “Sorry. My teacher just gets me riled up. He’s not here. He might pop by. I don’t really want to talk about him.”

 

“I can see that. “ And Hoseok put a sympathetic hand onto Seokjin’s arm. “No worries, there’s plenty other things to talk about.”

 

“Mmm… like what?”

 

“How about Taehyung and Jeonggukie? Me and Daniel haven't had time to properly gossip about them yet.”

 

And almost immediately, Seokjin's face brightens, smug expression on his face as he waggles his eyebrows at Hoseok. “Well, what do you want to know? I'm probably the second most updated person about that after Jisoo, and I won't be staring at my phone the entire time I'm talking to you.”

 

It had been a huge surprise when the news finally broke — not because the thing between Taehyung and Jeongguk had been unexpected, but more because of what form the confirmation had come in: a rather shaky photo sent in the chat group the day after the last full moon, of Jeongguk and Taehyung heavily making out while the werewolf was chained up in the basement of his holding room. Apparently Jisoo had taken it when she'd returned to drag Taehyung out of the room, and the two hadn't even noticed her snapping pictures. But it had seemed bad form to send them until Jeongguk was in the clear, and so she'd waited a respectable 12 hours before sharing the good news.

 

The group chat didn't stop buzzing for a good three hours after. Apparently, it even had nearly gotten Daniel killed because he forgotten to turn his phone to silent mode, and the vibrations had given his location away. But all had been forgiven after he'd found out exactly what had gotten everyone so excited.

 

Seokjin had to hand it to the Lee Clan though. There must be something in the water they drank to give them oodles amount of patience and restraint, because aside from the rabid gushing in the chat group, they had all mostly left the two to their own devices, letting them figure out this new territory of their relationship together on their own. Satisfied with bits of gossip, getting glimpses of Jeongguk blushing and acting all adorable, although Jisoo and Haru had apparently gotten front-row seats to seeing Jeongguk being an utter mess over the phone when the werewolf finally gathered the guts to ask Taehyung out on a date.

 

(The whole Lee Clan still apparently gets a kick saying ‘okay' to Jeongguk out of nowhere and watching the werewolf blush a deep, deep red. Hyejung had far too much fun as well, apparently putting a box of condoms on Jeongguk's nightstand after the news of the date had broken out, a very helpful note attached to it with the words, ‘got this from the store for you, sweetheart. Remember to sheath before you do the deed!’ written on it. Jae hasn't stopped laughing about that since two days ago.

 

Seokjin only said that they had restraint,  not that they were perfect.)

 

Seokjin had no such restraint. He may have spied on the two of them using his scrying ball, and he may have given Yoongi, who'd been sort of hovering around him while pretending (badly) not to be interested, a running commentary on the whole thing while it'd been happening. And it's a commentary that he gladly iterates again for Hoseok's listening pleasure, most of it making the hunter coo and squeal in joy — and who could blame him, the medium and the werewolf were far too cute together to be legal.

 

“Ah… to be young and in love.” Hoseok says, once Seokjin is done, a slightly dreamy look on his face as he props his head up on the table. And Seokjin gives him a funny look. “Yah. You say it as if you're a million years old. I'm the only one qualified to use that expression, alright?”

 

“Isn't that kind of selfish, hyung? And you can be young and still jaded about love!”

 

Seokjin eyes Hoseok with a leveling stare. “Have you even been in love before, Hobi?”

 

Hoseok sputters at the sudden question. “Hyung!”

 

“Well?” Seokjin raises an eyebrow, amused smile on his lips. “Are you going to answer the question, Hobi? Or are you going to let me fill in the blanks for you and come to my own conclusions.”

 

“I'll talk, I'll talk!” Hoseok squawks, expression looking more like Seokjin had threatened to shoot him in the foot. “Please don't spread terrifying gossip about me.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.” Hoseok wrinkles his nose even as Seokjin sniggers a little. “The last time you spread a rumour, Daniel had to keep explaining that no, he'd never been exposed to sex pollen before, and the reason why he'd been naked the third time he'd met you was because he'd been trying to hunt a succubus and things hadn't exactly gone to plan.”

 

Seokjin grins at the memory. “That was a lot of fun. And he shouldn't have been an idiot and tried to seduce a succubus anyway.”

 

Hoseok sighs.

 

“So, anyway. Answer the question. Had any lovers I never knew about?”

 

“Ugh. Please, hyung? Where would I have found the time? Even in school I barely had time to finish up all my school work, let alone have a beau.” Hoseok groans, eliciting a sympathetic pat on his shoulder from Seokjin. Daniel had had similar gripes when Seokjin had met him back in the States, but well, obviously he’d found Hyejung despite all that.

 

“You'll meet someone, don't worry. As long as you're looking.” A pause. “Are you?”

 

“Hmmm? Am I what?”

 

“Looking.” Seokjin clarifies, “for someone to date… or something.”

 

“Or something.”

 

“I don't know. Your generation seems less keen on the commitment thing. You could be looking for… What was the term? A fuckbuddy? I don't know. I won't judge.”

 

“First of all… really weird to hear the word ‘fuckbuddy' come out of your mouth.” Hoseok rolls his eyes. “And secondly… why are you asking? Have someone you want to set me up with?”

 

Seokjin pauses, before he grins, waggling his eyebrows exaggeratedly. “Oh. Well. Maybe I'm asking for myself.”

 

It's obviously asked in jest; so, it's only natural that Hoseok answers in the like. And he answers with a shriek, laughing as he lunges across, half hugging and half hitting Seokjin's arm. They both collapse into inconsolable giggles, just leaning into each other, physics the only thing keeping them from falling over into a pile of snickering limbs.

Seokjin is the first to recover, picking himself up and gently poking Hoseok’s arm. “Yah. Why were you laughing? Is the notion of dating me so bad?”

 

And everything would have been fine, probably. If Hoseok had taken the question as jokingly as it’d been asked. But he pauses, and after a moment, says, “well… you're charming and all, hyung. And maybe if we met differently, I probably would have been smitten by you or something. But… you know. You're my hyung . I love you, but you're like my older brother, you know? It's a little weird.”

 

There's the slightest flicker in the air, nothing that Hoseok would ever feel. But Yoongi, lying on the bed inside his bedroom, sits up and straightens, his eyes narrowing slightly in sudden alertness. And his eyes move towards the door, ears twitching a little as he slowly rises from the bed.

 

Outside, it doesn't seem like anything has happened at all. Seokjin’s expression hasn't changed, and he's smiling at Hoseok, nodding. “Yeah. You're right. It's a little bit weird, isn't it?”

 

“Yeah. Like. Objectively, you're really good looking. And a real catch!” Hoseok grins, patting Seokjin's arm. He does mean it — Yoongi can tell.

 

“I am, aren't I?” And Seokjin strikes an exaggerated pose, making Hoseok giggle. Neither of them seem to notice when Yoongi comes to stand by the door, watching them both with a complicated expression on his face. “Too bad it's hard for us supernatural folks to date. Especially us long living ones.”

 

“Mmm… well. I'm sure you'll find someone else someday, hyung.” Hoseok consoles, before he pauses, “actually, have you ever dated anyone, hyung?”

 

“Huh? Me? Well, obviously, I'm not a virgin—”

 

“Not what I asked, hyung.”

 

“—but never really had anything very long term.” Seokjin shrugs, “like I said. It's hard for long-living supernaturals. Either you love someone who's gone too fast, or you stay with someone so long, you start to hate the other.”

 

But before Hoseok's face can fall too much, Seokjin is smiling up at the hunter again. “It's alright, you don't have to feel bad for me. I'm not lonely at all. I have you… all of your family… even Taehyung for now. And that's more than enough for me.”

 

He doesn't say more, and Hoseok probably doesn't want to push, probably because it's a little awkward to contemplate one’s mortality against another’s. But then, Hoseok happens to look up, spying Yoongi standing at the door. “Well, in any case, you'll always have Yoongi-hyung.”

 

And Yoongi stiffens a little when Seokjin looks up at him, but Seokjin’s expression is as calm and staid as ever. “Huh. I guess I will.”

 

There's the oddest tone in Seokjin’s voice. And it's odd enough that even Hoseok takes notice, jerking a little in surprise. Yoongi doesn't know what it means though — heck, he thinks even Seokjin might not know what he means by it either.

 

“R-right. I think… I should go. Speaking of Jeongguk and Taehyung made me remember that I haven't been doing enough research on Kim Geongmin. I should probably go do that.”

 

“Mmm… yeah. You should,” and Seokjin’s tone seems to go back to normal, the quiet in his voice just simple thoughtfulness. “Taehyung might be keeping his resident ghost sane, but it would be good not to keep this on hold for too long. Even if there's a delay, I'd rather it be one of choice rather than circumstance.”

 

Seokjin bids goodbye to Hoseok not long after. They go through the same rituals, say the same cheesy things. But when it's time to finally leave, and Seokjin releases Hoseok from a final hug, Hoseok feels the smallest sense of displacement, so small that it takes him the walk down the stairway to recognize it. And his expression creases for but a second as he pauses on the last step; because, somehow, it simply feels as if things would never be the same anymore, even though they just were. But then, the moment passes, and he simply shrugs. He thinks that he's probably still just jumpy from all the work he's been doing.

 

His Jin-hyung had been the same as always, after all.



Chapter Text

Yoongi hates it when Seokjin pretends to be okay.

 

He understands it's necessary sometimes. A lot of people look up to Seokjin, expecting him to be the pillar of calm and reason in the time of a crisis. And Seokjin is very, very good at pretending, so much so that it took Yoongi many years to be able to tell when Seokjin is faking it.

 

And right now, Seokjin is definitely faking it.

 

“Yoongi, I've been thinking of introducing a fruit-flavored yogurt milk series into our drink line-up. We haven't really been introducing anything new recently because it's been too hectic, but now we've got a bit of a breather, I think we should probably do something, and a yogurt drink series isn't too hard to do. Order some yogurt milk, pour juice inside. We don't even need to mix it — the separation is a better aesthetic anyway. What do you think, Yoongi?”

 

Tell one: he starts getting very proactive and productive. This is the trickiest tell, because Seokjin can get into moods where he's the most productive shit ever simply because he's actually feeling productive and not because he's in a tough situation and trying to pretend to be a functioning adult when he actually doesn't have a clue. But Yoongi has found that Seokjin tends to be a little less vocal when it's the former, possibly because he's actually confident about the things he's doing and doesn't need the assurity of a second opinion.

 

“Yoongi?”

 

“Huh?” And Yoongi looks up, blinking, finding Seokjin staring at him, as if he's being the weird one. “Sorry. What?”

 

“What's your opinion on fruit flavoured yogurt milk?”

 

“Oh. That. Sure. Whatever. It's fine.”

 

“Mmm… I guess that's settled then.” Seokjin taps his chin before he frowns. “Ahh… fu-freak. I think I missed out on that wholesale deal for yogurt milk though. Do you think if I contact the supplier directly, we could still get it?”

 

The second tell: he suddenly loses the ability to curse when he normally would probably make a sailor blush with some of the words that come out of his mouth. The man can curse in 27 different languages, but once he puts up a facade, his language becomes as boring as cardboard. Yoongi understands because normally, Seokjin fakes it in stressful situations, and cursing at the people around you tend to make situations more stressful, so Seokjin has pretty much hardwired himself not to do it. The only other time that Seokjin censors himself is when around people who he deems too young and innocent to be exposed to too much swear words, so sometimes, that can be a little tricky with quite a few of the Lee Clan falling under that category; but right now, he and Seokjin are alone.

 

“Yoongi?”

 

Shit. Again? What had Seokjin asked?

 

“Supplier for the yogurt milk.” Seokjin explains patiently; he knows that blank look. “Do you think I could still get that discount I showed you like a week before if I asked the supplier?”

 

Oh. “You have to call the supplier anyway to get the shipment anyway. Might as well ask while you're at it.”

 

“Huh, true.” And Seokjin suddenly beams, a strange, strong force like the fist he slams into his other, open palm. “I guess it's really settled then! The only thing we need to do is come up with a good, proper name.”

 

Oh. Oh no.

 

“Mmm… oh, I thought of something. But it isn't really that appropriate…” and Seokjin pauses, as if waiting for Yoongi's response, but doesn't actually wait for it. “What… about… jizzed-up juices?”

 

Yoongi closes his eyes, barely restraining the urge to brain himself on the nearest piece of furniture. He knows what's coming.

 

“Hah! Jizzed-up? Geddit? It's like jazzed up, but you know, because yogurt milk is white…?” And Seokjin laughs, wide-mouthed,  wide-eyed and almost desperate. It's a rather braying sound to Yoongi's ears. “Hahaha! Funny isn't it? I probably can't use it because who wants jizz in their drinks? The product would end up flopping, but you gotta admit, that joke was pretty damn funny. Ahahahaha!”

 

Tell number three: that. Goddamn. Annoyingly. Fake. Laugh.

 

There's a loud crack, which finally shuts that laugh up. And Yoongi belatedly realizes that the sound had come from him cracking the wood of the chair he'd been holding onto, fingers gripping far too hard.

 

Fuck.

 

Seokjin is giving Yoongi a narrowed stare now. They both look down at Yoongi's hand as the familiar pulls it slowly off, one finger at a time.

 

He takes in a deep breath. And then, another.

 

“...Yoongi? What's wrong?”

 

He can't help the snort that escapes. What's wrong?

 

“You know, exactly what, Seokjin.” Yoongi folds his arm, unimpressed. “You should just stop.”

 

Seokjin pauses, his gaze narrowing even further. “...I know you hate my jokes, Yoongi. But all this a bit much, even for you, don't you think?”

 

It takes Yoongi a moment, but he lets out a strangled laugh in response. “Seriously? Jin? You're still going to joke about this right now?”

 

Seokjin's eyebrows furrow. “Joke?”

 

“Yeah? Why would you think I'd get worked up over your puns. Yeah, they're bad, but they're a part of you. It doesn't bother me as it just annoys me sometimes.”

 

“Then what are you worked up about?”

 

“You pretending to be okay when you're obviously upset about Hoseok rejecting you? Like, I know that's your natural reaction because you don't want to worry people, but seriously? Around me too? I've only know you for like.. two centuries. And you behave as if I can't tell immediately when you're trying to put on a brave face? You can just cry if you want to, you know? I won't judge.”

 

“I'm… not… upset…?”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes so hard, it feels they'd almost rattled in their sockets. “What do you mean you're not upset. Of course you are. I mean, I don't blame you, you had a crush on Hoseok for the longest time, and he essentially bro-zoned you.”

 

“I don't… a crush… on Hoseok? And you tell me to stop joking? You're the one who should stop, Yoongi.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Yoongi says impatiently. “Of course you have a crush on Hoseok.”

 

“Seriously, Yoongi. It's not funny.”

 

“Of course, it's not. I am being serious. I know you like playing coy, but now's not the time to pretend you don't have feelings for Hose—” And Yoongi pauses, Seokjin’s wide and guileless eyes suddenly hitting him in the gut at full force, leaving him almost breathless in disbelief, “...fuck. You're not pretending.”

 

Seokjin doesn't even let Yoongi have a moment for things to sink in. He lets out a high, strangled laugh of disbelief, “the fuck? Of course, I'm not pretending. I don't have a crush on Hoseok? I love him, but like he said, he's like my brother—”

 

“Jin…”

 

“—so yeah. Hoseok was right. It's weird that I'd have feelings for someone who’s essentially my little brother — someone who I watched grow up from a kid to the handsome man that he is, and he just… really grew up so well, and—”

 

“Seokjin.” Yoongi says quietly, his face tight and concerned. “You're crying.”

 

“H-huh?” Seokjin's hand flies up to his face, startled when his fingers come away wet. “W-why…? Why am I…? There's no- no reason… I—”

 

Yoongi sees it before it even happens, and he takes one step, and then it's many— many to carry him forward fast enough to catch Seokjin as he falls, knees buckling, suddenly losing strength in his limbs. There is a pain radiating from his heart now, one that had probably been there for the few hours since Hoseok had left. But one that Seokjin only realizes now.

 

Yoongi's heart hurts; and it's not simply just Seokjin’s hurt radiating through the bond.

 

“You idiot.” He whispers, hands smoothing across Seokjin’s back, tight and consoling. Yoongi is normally notoriously awkward with his hugs because he thinks too much normally — he only has one thought in his mind right now. “How could you not have known you loved Hoseok?”

 

Seokjin sucks in a breath as if to answer, but the only answer that escapes are harried, wordless sobs. But Yoongi hadn't asked because he'd wanted an answer. He knows the answer to his question anyway.

 

“It still doesn't make sense to me,” Yoongi says gruffly, “how you can express yourself so easily to others, but when it comes to deciphering what you really feel, you're utterly shit at it.”

 

There's a shaking to Seokjin's shoulder now that isn't heartbreak, and it makes Yoongi feel vindicated, despite himself, despite what's happening, that he still has the ability to make his master laugh.

 

Seokjin's hair is soft. It always is. And now, as Yoongi runs his hands through the witch’s hair, is no exception. And usually, Seokjin likes hands in his hair on account of the rarity of which it happens; but rather than pleasure, noises of complaint escape his mouth instead — but the familiar thinks it's more because Yoongi is disabling the spell charms in Seokjin’s hair than the action itself.

 

“You can put the charms back later.” Yoongi snorts, gently walking Seokjin backwards in the direction of their room. He's never understood Seokjin being so vain, that he endures the feeling of something gripping onto his hair all the time. But well, it had been a battle that hadn't been worth fighting. But for now, “getting your heart broken means time to be disheveled and buried under the covers, drowning your sorrows in ice cream.”

 

Seokjin takes in a deep breath, and Yoongi is relieved when Seokjin can finally speak again, even if the words are muffled with a stuffy nose and pressed against his hair. “I-I’m not heart broken. It i-isn't as dramatic as all that.”

 

And maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but it doesn't stop Yoongi from bundling his master up in his bed until he looks like a giant caterpillar, wrapped up in his sheets with naught but his face poking out from within. He turns the television screen on, putting on the playlist of terrible romantic comedies Seokjin's loves to watch whenever he gets into a morose sort of mood. And then he tells his master that he's going to go order in some ice cream.

 

He's reached the door when Seokjin makes some sort of noise to call Yoongi back. But Yoongi doesn't stop, only yelling, “yeah. Yeah. Double chocolate, I know. Just watch your terrible romcoms. I know what to do.”

 

He's only taken care of Seokjin's heart for the last two centuries, patching it back up whenever the witch decides he wants to give his heart away. If he didn't know at least this, then what sort of familiar who’s secretly in love with their master would he be?

 

~*~

 

“Isn't that like... the tenth tub of double chocolate ice cream he's finished in the past three days?”

 

Yoongi doesn't bother turning around, only continuing to shift the contents of the fridge around so that he can take out the tub of ice cream he'd been ordered to get without everything else falling out. “I was hoping you were just going to silently spy on us, but I guess that's just wishful thinking.”

 

“Obviously, I wasn't lying when I said I was concerned about your love life.”

 

Yoongi makes some kind of incredulous noise, finally turning around, but more so because he's finally gotten the tub out of the freezer than because of what Suran had said. “I already told you, nothing’s going to happen. So you can stop wasting your time and find something else to play with.”

 

“But he's just gotten his heart broken! This is your chance!”

 

Yoongi just eyes Suran for a moment before he says. “Eleventh.”

 

A little derailed, Suran blinks a little owlishly at Yoongi before squinting at him. “What?”

 

“This is eleventh tub of chocolate ice cream, but it's only because he's still opening the shop up during the day. If he didn't have the juice business and was mopping the entire day in bed, he'd probably have finished thrice that amount already.”

 

Suran’s squint grows even more pronounced. “...how is he eating all that? Isn't he worried about getting sick? Or fat?

 

Yoongi shrugs, “he has amazing metabolism. Alternatively, about 80% of the time, he ends up feeling guilty and then goes on an exercise spree that he tries and fails to drag me into.”

 

Suran opens her mouth as if to say something before her gaze sharpens, “...this has happened before.”

 

Yoongi puts the ice cream tub onto the counter, going to the drawer to rummage for a spoon. He probably should wash Seokjin's last one. Mostly because he's been using the same spoon for the past two days, and sure, there's magic. But after some point, the specifics just sound disgusting. “Yup.”

 

“...Many times before.”

 

“We're all immortal, noona. You should know how it is.” Yoongi shrugs, shifting through the spoons for a plastic one. Metal ones tend to grow too cold and stick to the tongue. “And Seokjin keeps himself busy, mostly so he has more to forget.”

 

A whistle of air escapes from Suran’s nose, it sounds more displeased than her visage betrays. “And every time you do not act on it. You coward.”

 

“Not a coward.” Yoongi replies simply. He doesn't really have anything to prove after all. “Like I've said, it's just a choice I made a long, long time ago.”

 

Suran’s lips purse and it's a little too slow that Yoongi recognizes that look. “Noona—”

 

“I'll make him see,” she declares, that annoying look of determination on her face. “I'll make him see what is right in front of his eyes.”

 

Devil below, Yoongi feel tired already. But it's not like he could have even dreamed of stopping Suran when she gets like this. “Whatever, noona. Just don't get too carried away.”

 

“Oh? You're not protesting?”

 

“Since when could I ever convince you to stop. I need to go. The ice cream is beginning to melt even with Seokjin's charms.”

 

“Then you better get your love confession prepared, Yoongi-yah. Don't want you to end up stammering and blushing before you turn into a cat to escape the situation.”

 

Yoongi frowns, “I won't do that.”

 

“Sure you won't,” Suran laughs.

 

“And it won't happen anyway,” Yoongi continues confidently, “this is the guy who only realized he had a crush on a guy after the guy broke his heart.”

 

“Mmm… I have my ways.” Suran smiles before winking. “Be prepared Min Yoongi. I'm going to make sure you romance the hell out of your witch.”

 

And before Yoongi can say anything to that horrible promise, Suran has disappeared.

 

Yoongi wonders why he ever made friends with that insufferable she-demon again.

 

~*~

 

“Yoongi?”

 

Yoongi looks up from where he's lounging in a sunspot, stretched out onto the floor on his belly. His ears twitch seeing the perplexed look on Seokjin's face, but holds off transforming back into his human form. He'd just gotten comfortable after all.

 

“I… The chores. Did you do them?”

 

Yoongi just stares up at Seokjin in confusion. Why would he do any sort of manual labour if he wasn't being forced to?

 

Seokjin understands without needing any translation. “Yeah. I know. But, if you didn't do them, then who did?”

 

Something clicks in Yoongi's head.

 

“A friendly ghost, maybe.”

 

Seokjin's expression morphs into something like annoyance. “Yah, if it's you, just say it, no need to be all cryptic.”

 

And Yoongi just looks up with his currently very blue and very big and innocent-looking eyes, his tail waving in the air in a cat-equivalent of shrugging his shoulders.

 

Seokjin lips thin, and Yoongi tries very hard not to laugh, because Seokjin hates getting affected by Yoongi's cute expressions whenever he's in the form of any fluffy white cat breed, but can't really help being affected anyway. “Ugh. Why are you so annoying? And if you did finish the chores. Stop. It's weird. Burgh. Plus, I'm heartbroken, not invalid.”

 

“I thought you said you weren't heartbroken? That it wasn't as dramatic as that.”

 

And Yoongi actually does hack out a laugh when Seokjin turns around and gives Yoongi the middle finger. It's both hilarious and a relief to see that Seokjin seems to be slowly but surely getting back to normal.

 

He settles back down to enjoy the nap he'd been going to take before he'd gotten interrupted. If this was the level of Suran’s attempts at getting Seokjin to notice Yoongi's feelings for him, then Yoongi probably has nothing to worry about.

 

~*~

 

“Yoongi, what the fuck?”

 

Yoongi looks up from his book with a frown, squinting. He's pretty sure he hasn't done anything that warrants being cursed at. “What, ‘what the fuck’?”

 

“You sent me flowers?”

 

The book in Yoongi's hand is lowered now, and he gives Seokjin a slightly flabbergasted look. “Why in all the fucking seven hells would I send you flowers?”

 

“I don't know?” Seokjin frowns, but then thrusts his hand out towards Yoongi, and that's when the familiar realizes that Seokjin is actually holding a bona fide bouquet in his hand, complete with pretty crepe paper and ribbons and everything. He'd smelt the flowers and had thought Seokjin had simply been holding ingredients. “But physical evidence is a little hard to deny.”

 

Yoongi takes the bouquet thrust into his face, sniffling a little from the strong smelling flowers wrapped in it; gardenias, red roses, baby breaths and sunflowers — and Yoongi takes a moment to be rueful because if not for Seokjin's fondness for floral-based spells, Yoongi wouldn't recognise any of these by name. But, regardless, it's a strange mod-podge combination with no visible colour or design scheme, but Yoongi is willing to bet his tongue that whatever those flowers have to say in the language of flowers, it's probably fucking screaming out ‘I fucking love you, Kim Seokjin’, screw subtlety. Probably. He wouldn't know. He doesn't know these flowers beyond their magical names and the uses they have in spells.

 

Thankfully, Seokjin is exactly the same. And he's oblivious as he points out the small note that's tied to the stem of a rose with twine. “From Yoongi.” Yoongi reads off the cursive handwriting before he snorts. “Yeah. No. I didn't send this. Seems like a prank.”

 

“A prank? That doesn't make sense either.You sure you didn't do this as a way to, I dunno. Cheer me up?”

 

Yoongi gives Seokjin a look, “Jin, you're not nearly that upset anymore. That was what all the double chocolate ice cream was for anyway.”

 

“Damn straight.” Seokjin huffs, taking the bouquet back from Yoongi. “This is so weird, who could have sent this?”

 

A meddlesome she-demon who's totally overestimating herself. “No clue.” Yoongi lies, “maybe someone who someone heard and wanted to cheer you up, but didn't want to be revealed?”

 

“It’d have to be someone who doesn't know us very well.” Seokjin wrinkles his nose. “The only time you buy me flowers is when you're actually being helpful for once and help me order ingredients for my spells.”

 

“Maybe your teacher?” Yoongi suggests, only to have Seokjin shake his head violently in objection.

 

“Why would he care that I was down? He'd just snort and say I was dumb for entertaining such thoughts for a mortal in the first place.”

 

Yoongi idly wonders what Seo Taiji would think of a relationship between a familiar and his witch and quickly throws the thought out of his head with a twitch of his eyebrow. Seriously, thoughts like that wouldn't go anywhere. “Well, whatever. Doesn't really matter does it? Just throw it out if you're worried they're a trap or something?”

 

Seokjin pouts, “but they're really good flowers though.”

 

Yoongi's eyes narrow, “Jin, you earn an average of nearly 500 000 won in profit every day you open the shop.”

 

“So?”

 

“Your rich ass can afford to dump these and buy your own flowers.”

 

“But it's such a waste.” And yeah, it probably is. Especially considering that these flowers are probably safe. Suran wouldn't be dumb enough to try something like a love spell and Seokjin wouldn't be affected by anything she could do anyway. Ugh.

 

“Why don't you dry them then?” Yoongi finally suggests with a sigh, “usually processing them gets rid of any hidden magic right?”

 

“Oh.” Seokjin's eyebrows furrow for a moment before his expression clears. “I really wanted to use them fresh, but drying and pressing them seems like a good compromise.”

 

“Uhuh. Great. You have your solution, go do it.” And Yoongi is about to return to his book when it's suddenly pulled out of his hands. “Hey!”

 

“If we're going to preserve flowers, then you're going to help me.” Seokjin smirks, tossing the book to the side. “Come on.”

 

“The fuck should I help you?”

 

“Because we haven't really been doing stuff that isn't work together past two days. I wanna hang out.” Seokjin smiles, before a twitch turns it into a smirk. “Besides, you're much better at pressing flowers. They always turn out prettier and more potent when you do it.”

 

This is the downside of having the same master for 200 years, because Seokjin knows exactly all of Yoongi's soft spots, and damn if Yoongi won't grudgingly get out of his comfortable spot because he's weak for praise and Seokjin has just used it against him.

 

But for all his complaints, Yoongi does have a good time pressing flowers with Seokjin. They end the day a little sweaty, but mostly floral smelling and in a good mood, and Seokjin even falls asleep rubbing Yoongi's belly after carrying Yoongi to bed, not having even complained when Yoongi had wordlessly transformed into his cat form, being too lazy to even walk. And for a moment, he even contemplates thanking Suran for doing the shit she’d done.

 

Only for a moment though. Yoongi really just needs to remember the whole Taehyung possession incident and he's back to being rightfully annoyed with her again.

 

~*~

 

Yoongi stares down at the plates of food in front of him and for that split moment, he actually feels a spike of panic, because, fuck. Suran’s actually done her research this time.

 

He hears footsteps behind him, and it takes all that he has not to whip around and look like he's been caught doing something bad. “Hey, dinner. What did you order?”

 

“Erm.” Is all Yoongi can really say. Because in may be five more seconds, Seokjin will realize:

 

“Wait, is this all home cooked?”

 

And then, “...Yoongi, did you cook all my favourites?”

 

Apparently, he has. “Erm.” Yoongi says again, before shrugging slowly. “I was… in a good mood?”

 

Seokjin throws him a look Yoongi knows is actually copied from him. “Yoongi, you've been in such a good mood, you helped me find someone selling that citrine jade carved into the shape of a tiger Jackson wanted and even called that pushy salesman to help me order it; don't think I don't know that user handle even if that annoying cockroach of a man has changed his account name on the pungsu-jiri forum so many fucking times.”

 

“I enjoyed annoying the man with my blunt refusals, it wasn't that bad,” or it wouldn't have been if he'd actually called the guy.

 

“Yeah, but then you also called Jeongguk to help buy me my favourite bungeoppang since he was on the way here. I know you said you had a craving yourself, but normally, you'd already run out of fuel by this point.”

 

“Er—” Yoongi pauses before he shrugs again, his mind is whirling but none if it shows outwardly as he sits calmly down at the table. “I guess I'm just in a really good mood. Sit, the food is going to get cold.”

 

Seokjin is still giving Yoongi a strange look. But the mention of the food getting cold does get him to settle down at the table. “I will admit that you do cook whenever you're particularly hungry and you're actually in the mood to do so rather than bug me to cook for you. And maybe you'll be magnanimous enough to cook a dish I like. But… all of my favourites?”

 

Yeah. That's exactly the tight spot Yoongi is trying to wriggle out of.

 

But Yoongi just shrugs, coolly picking up his chopsticks, “what are you so concerned about? Just eat.”

 

“I don't know. This might be a trap or something. Are you finally poisoning me?”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes. And then, he picks up a piece of mandu with his chopsticks, and then leans over and stuffs it into Seokjin’s mouth. “Yes.”

 

Seokjin makes a noise of protest, but instinctively he begins to chew, and once he does, his eyes immediately lights up, and he lets out a soft and precious moan.

 

Yoongi tries not to linger too much on the moan. It's pretty easy. He has had a lot of practice.

 

“Good?” Yoongi asks after a moment, a small smile on his face that he disguises as a smirk. And it grows when Seokjin nods, “mmm… yeah. When did you cook this good? Are you sure you made this?”

 

It's more suspicions, but Yoongi knows it’d be easy to deal with this, especially now, since Yoongi has gotten Seokjin eating. “Yah, why are you talking so much? If you don't want to eat you can go.”

 

A whine of protest and five seconds later, Seokjin is stuffing his face like a pig and had completely forgotten about his suspicions.

 

Yeah, obviously, despite her research, Suran hadn't known that the easiest way to distract Seokjin from something is to feed him good food.

 

~*~

 

It's really no surprise, that after a good three and a half days of trying, Suran finally shows up when Yoongi is alone, waving the proverbial white flag.

 

“I have tried, every single romantic thing I can think of, and nothing — nothing — has worked.”

 

Yoongi turns around, looking up from where he's putting away the dishes, actually in a good mood for once and doing the dishes proper like it's in character for him to do. “Oh, hello, noona. Nice weather we're having, aren't we?”

 

“Oh, fuck you, Yoongi.”

 

“I thought you were trying to get me and Jin to fuck? In any case, nah. Not really interested in things like that nowadays.”

 

“Unless it's with your witch?” Suran groans, shaking her head at Yoongi's uncommitted shrug. “Oh my lord. You're disgusting. I thought at least you still go around outside and have a bit of fun or something.”

 

Yoongi shrugs again. He doesn't tell Suran he used to, back then, when things had gotten too much for him to bear. He doesn't like to think about how those times tended to coincide with whenever Seokjin would have someone else by his side, be it only for one night, many nights or years. These days, it's hard for either of them to leave the shop, and if nothing else, Seokjin is considerate of Yoongi, especially since they'd taken to sharing a bedroom more than a century ago, finding it more convenient whenever Yoongi finds himself wanting to sleep in his animal form and they're both craving a little physical affection. Even back before they'd tied themselves to this shop, Seokjin had never brought his lovers back to whichever bed and room they'd shared, choosing to fuck either outside, or to make a room especially for that function.

 

Yoongi's reverie is interrupted by Suran huffing again, “seriously though. What is the matter with him?”

 

He raises an eyebrow, “you're going to have to he more specific than that, noona. There's a lot of things that I question about him.”

 

Suran rolls her eyes, “I'm talking about how I tried every single romantic I could think of and then some. Most people would squeal at least, or be touched, or whatever. But he just… he just…”

 

“Is an oblivious idiot who takes every action platonically until stated otherwise?”

 

Suran's eyes turn to pity as she looks over at Yoongi, and Yoongi just rolls his eyes. “To be honest, I don't see anything wrong with that.”

 

“Ugh. Seriously? Actually, the question I should really be asking is ‘what's wrong with you?’.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Why do you like someone as oblivious as that.”

 

Yoongi blinks before be frowns, “I didn't mean it in that I'm okay with that as a characteristic because it's Seokjin, I was just saying that I don't really view that as a character flaw.”

 

“What?”

 

“I think it's freeing, to not overthink about the actions of another person like that. You don't need to second guess whether the other person likes you, no need to worry about reading too much into actions and assigning meanings that may or may not be there. In any case, I've come to realize that doing things without stating your intentions outright and still expecting some kind of response and reciprocation is really entitled and fucking unfair anyway. If I wanna do something nice for someone, then it should be because I want to do something nice for them, regardless of how they respond.”

 

Suran eyes Yoongi a little, eyebrows furrowed. “But isn't it frustrating?”

 

“No?” Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “Did you not listen to a word I said? I think it’s dumb to try to lure someone into liking you just by doing nice things for them? It's like emotional blackmail. I do that for people I'm trying to trick into doing something for me. Not to someone I like.”

 

Suran lets out a whine, shaking her head. “You've become so complicated after staying with your witch so long, Yoongichi.”

 

“I'll take that as a compliment.” Yoongi snorts, turning back to the sink, thinking the conversation over.

 

“I'm just trying to understand, Yoongs.” Suran whines, suddenly appearing by Yoongi's side, and Yoongi barely refrains from throwing up the plate in his hands. Fucking hell. “Why do you like him so much that you've stayed with him, pining for 200 years.”

 

“Okay, first of all, I'm not pining over him.” Yoongi hasn't even finished the sentence yet, and Suran has already snorted. “I'm not! I already told you that I never intended to tell him. I'm not staying with him just because there's a miniscule chance that he might like me back or that sort of nonsense. I'm staying because, as annoying as his ass is, he's my friend. Even if I do confess to him and he rejects me like he’d reject an illegal poached unicorn horn, it doesn't mean I'm going to cut off all ties with him and leave.”

 

“Then why don't you confess? If it won't change anything?”

 

Yoongi hesitates for a moment, because it's something he's struggled with before: that if confessing really wouldn't change anything, then why shouldn't he?

 

“Because… even if things won't change on my end, it doesn't mean everything won't change.”

 

Suran squints at Yoongi, “you literally said that things wouldn't change.”

 

“My feelings won't. And I don't think I'll act differently. But how Seokjin acts towards me is a whole other ballgame. As much as it really shouldn't affect things, sometimes just knowing makes a difference.”

 

“Really.”

 

“I don't know? I mean, this is just me thinking here. But he might feel uncomfortable knowing that I'm harbouring a torch for him? Especially if he decides that he can't reciprocate. Might feel like he's taking advantage of me or something.”

 

“But he isn't, right?”

 

“He isn't. But logic and feelings don't necessarily cooperate with each other.” Yoongi sighs, “and I… I'm content with what I have now. There's no need to spoil something good in pursuit of something that isn't particularly necessary.”

 

“You make having a relationship sound like a luxury.”

 

Yoongi raises an eyebrow, “isn't it? It's not like I need another person to live, don't I? Not exactly an incubus or vampire or something.”

 

Suran actually kicks him this time, “not what I meant. But I thought most mortals tend to find someone to link themselves to. For companionship?”

 

“Fucking seriously?” Yoongi groans, still rubbing his calf.

 

“Oh. Suck it up and answer the question.”

 

“No like—” Yoongi sighs, rolling his eyes. “I meant, isn't that what we're doing already? You're the one who said we're ‘domestic like an old married couple’. We don't need to be kissing and holding hands and… I don't know…”

 

“Fucking.”

 

Yoongi throws Suran a glare. “Yes. Fine. We don't need to be fucking to be in a companionship. I'm more than content to have our relationship stay this way.”

 

“So, pretending to be satisfied with sleeping on the same bed, cuddling and receiving tummy rubs but not fucking.”

 

“Fucking hell, noona. I'm not pretending.”

 

“But if you could be fucking him, you would, right?”

 

Yoongi has never pretended to be the most patient person on the planet, nor the calmest. That would be Seokjin. On the contrary, he's very aware of his temper, and he's learnt to keep reign on it in his old age because the past has left him burnt from the vigor of his own fire.

 

But, it is still very much there, bright and hot; and making him prone to say very stupid things. “Yes! Okay? Yes! If I could fuck him I would. I'm fucking glad that I realized I love him long after puberty because seriously, I wouldn't have survived. I'm not even talking about thirst things, you know. Like all the time he's spent walking around naked because he forgot to bring his towel into the bathroom, or like how he likes to wear pajama pants that are too loose and they always end up hitching below his hips, and it really doesn't help that he sometimes pushes me down from his chest in his sleep and I wake up with my face practically buried into his waistband—”

 

“This is fun. Keep going,” and there's a look on Suran’s face that should be sending warning bells to Yoongi's head; but he's already gotten started, rant full steam ahead, and nothing short of some kind of phenomenal disaster is going to be able to stop him.

 

“—and those are things. But what really gets me are those… unexpecting things. Like, you know, when he drags you to a club, and starts gyrating or something, you're prepared. You know it's going to happen, so you can steel yourself against it. But seriously… things like him suddenly grabbing you in a back-hug because he's feeling needy? Or when he suddenly starts wiggling his butt around because he's feeling silly? I'm just thankful that he's so oblivious because those times I just feel so attacked, my dick literally jumps up in retaliation—”

 

“That's… an interesting way of putting it.”

 

“—but sometimes, it even happens when I'm prepared? Seriously. Whenever he gets deep into a potion, he does this thing where he sticks his tongue out in concentration? And it's just so… endearing. I just… wish I could go over and give him a sweet kiss on the cheek. And fuck, that's worse than all the thirst because it confirms every time that it isn't just lust, and that yes, I am a fluffy marshmallow inside whenever it comes to anything to do with Jin.”

 

Yoongi is panting by now, and it's the only reason why he stops. And Suran gives him a measured look before she raises an eyebrow, “so?”

 

“So? So yeah, I fucking love Jin and want to be in a lovey dovey relationship with him where we do all the old couple things we already do, but maybe also fuck. But as I told you for the thousandth time, I'm not going to tell Jin anything because I like what we have now, and I'm not going to risk everything for my own fucking selfish desires, so could you get on with the program and fucking leave the both of us alone ?”

 

There's a long beat of silence, and Yoongi doesn't really know what to expect. But it's certainly not Suran’s lips slowly curling into a satisfied smile, eyes glowing with triumph like a predator who’s gotten her prey.

 

“Sure,” she says simply, to Yoongi's now utterly bewildered face. “I've already achieved what I wanted anyway.”

 

And the first thing that clues Yoongi in on how phenomenally fucked up he is, is Suran's eyeline drifting past his shoulder, landing on someone who is presumably standing behind him.

 

He doesn't need the magic that ties him to the house, or even his superior sense of smell, to tell him exactly who it is who's standing behind him.

 

“Fuck.”

 

Suran giggles a little at Yoongi's expression.  She probably has that look on her face like a kid in a candy shop. Yoongi doesn't really know. He's closed his eyes, wishing really hard that all this is actually a terrible dream, and that when he opens his eyes, he's actually still asleep, maybe lying on Seokjin's nice broad chest — Seokjin, who would preferably still not know about Yoongi's pathetic feelings towards him.

 

“Good luck.” Suran says, presumably to him, and not, Seokjin, who is, unfortunately, very present, as the magic of the shop tells him. He really hates magic sometimes. Takes away the mystery of things, ironically. “Invite me to your summer wedding, okay?”

 

Suran disappears too fast for Yoongi to try to scratch her eyes out. He'll have to get back at her someway else. Probably.

 

If he survives this.

 

It's silent for the longest time, Seokjin probably searching for the words to say. He knows Yoongi won't be the one to talk first in an awkward situation like this.

 

A sigh. “Yoongi— can you… can you turn around? I don't want to talk to your back.”

 

Yoongi swallows down the instinctive (and petty) ‘no' that threatens to escape. And slowly he turns around, feeling far too much like a kitten being chastised by its mother.

 

He can't quite look Seokjin in the eye, and so he settles for staring at Seokjin's chin. He hates that he can tell that Seokjin is troubled just from the way the muscles tense — it's that tiny whorl, that tiny little tick in Seokjin's jaw. Yoongi wishes he can soothe it away, but unfortunately, he's the cause of that tick this time, and it isn't even on purpose. “How much did you hear?” He blurts out, suddenly unable to take the silence anymore, and he winces when Seokjin stills.

 

“...I was here for most of it.” Seokjin admits after a while, “I came down when you were taking a while with the dishes. I wanted your help making a potion… and then I saw Suran, and overheard you talking about me and… well, sue me. I eavesdropped.”

 

Of course Seokjin eavesdropped. He wouldn't be Seokjin otherwise.

 

More silence, and the both of them couldn't be more different in it — Seokjin is standing stock still, deep in his own thoughts, and Yoongi is trying to resist the urge to run, squirming a little on the spot and probably looking like he needs to go to the bathroom.

 

Finally, Seokjin sighs. “Yoongi… was… everything you said, the truth?”

 

The familiar lets out a slow exhale, mentally counting down from ten, telling himself to stay calm, trying to ignore the clamouring voices from his sinking stomach screaming out in panic like passengers on a ship trying to escape a vessel slowly being swallowed up by water. Escape. Escape would be really good right now.

 

“Yoongi…? Could you… please look at me?”

 

His reaction is instinctive more than anything else. The tone Seokjin uses is one that he only uses in serious plea, and Yoongi could never resist that tone — he couldn't. Not when it's only used when there's actual things at stake.

 

Yoongi looks up, straight into Seokjin's eyes.

 

It's an utter mistake.

 

Seokjin sees the panic even as it forms, and he's already taken a step forward, to maybe make a grab for Yoongi, or… something. And the words are already on his lips to tell Yoongi to calm down and... not panic, but—

 

But.

 

Seokjin can't help the long-suffering sigh that escapes as he stares at the after image of Yoongi's human form, watching a frantically scurrying furry butt race out the back door, tail and even the fur on the tail ramrod straight in what is probably panic.

 

He stares at the door Yoongi had disappeared through before looking at the half finished dishes in the sink and groans.

 

“The fuck am I supposed to do about this now?”

 

(No, he hadn’t been talking about the dishes. Obviously.)

Chapter Text

The thing(TM) that's going on between him and Yoongi is getting a little out of hand.

 

“Is it me… or has Yoongi hyung been missing the past few days?”

 

Seokjin looks up from where he's pouring over the files that Hoseok had handed him. “...What?”

 

“Yoongi hyung. The past few days I've been here I haven't seen him?”

 

It takes him only all his experience acting during his near two and a half centuries alive so that he doesn't totally flinch at the question. And he says in a tone that he hopes isn't too casual, “no… he's around. Probably in the shop or something.”

 

Which is… a rather bogus answer in hindsight. Even if Yoongi were busy, he'd normally drop whatever he'd been doing to greet Hoseok whenever the hunter came around. Unless, of course—

 

“Oh, you sent him on some errand or something, hyung?” Luckily, Hoseok fills in the loop holes with his own logic. And Seokjin barely stops the sigh of relief that threatens to escape his mouth, giving an uncommitted nod instead. “Mmm…”

 

“Oh. Okay.” Hoseok nods, and thankfully, the hunter’s phone buzzes then, saving Seokjin from more awkward non-conversation.

 

Seokjin tries to go back to concentrating on the files he'd been reading, but his mind can't help but go to Yoongi now that he'd been reminded of his familiar’s relative absence. Relative because Yoongi was still in the building somewhere — it wasn't like he could actually leave. But in the past four days, Seokjin could maybe count the number of time's he'd seen the demon face to face with the fingers on his hand.

 

And to be honest, it leaves Seokjin feeling very oddly displaced, like something in the natural order had lurched and shifted. And it's funny really, how he only notices now, in the wake of Yoongi's absence, exactly how much time they'd actually spent together each day.

 

“Hey, hyung. Sorry. Daniel called. He says Jisoo got another tip-off, so he's driving over to pick me up and we're going to go investigate it.”

 

“Another one?” Seokjin lips purse into a frown, even as he mentally forces himself to shelve the Yoongi issue. “Feels like the poachers are… well, they're not on the move exactly. But it feels like they're preparing for something big.”

 

“You feel that too, hyung?” Hoseok drops back down onto the chair, picking up one of the files. “I mean, there's literally no evidence to that other than a bit of a rise in activity on their part. And that could just be coincidence, or some deadline coming up. But… you know…”

 

“Just feels like it?” Seokjin smiles at Hoseok, and is gratified by the smile he receives back. It's comfortable, and it's almost like Seokjin hadn't had an abrupt revelation about his feelings for Hoseok more than a week ago. Actually, that isn't true. Things are different, even if it's only in Seokjin’s mind. He still loves Hoseok, of course — he doesn't think he could ever stop, even if Hoseok suddenly started hating him one day. But that love had lost the glimmering but sharp edges of Seokjin’s infatuation, and it's settled down into something warm, and soft, and endearing; exactly like the love he'd have for a little brother.

 

So no, it's not hard facing Hoseok right now. There's no need to pretend that everything is alright, because everything is alright, and, Seokjin now realizes — exactly the way they should be. It's totally different from what Seokjin had mentally prepared himself for. In a good way of course.

 

Now if only that other unexpected thing that had popped up would take care of itself so easily.

 

Hah.

 

“Hyung?”

 

Oh. Shit. He'd totally drifted out on Hoseok. “Mmm? Sorry? What?”

 

“Nothing really. I was just saying that things started picking up again after Taehyung sent his ghost friend off. You okay, hyung? You look a little off today.”

 

Hoseok looks worried, and Seokjin feels mildly bad for making Hoseok feel worried — the boy has more than enough on his plate already. “Nah. I'm fine. Just tired. Been fulfilling an order.”

 

“Ah.” And it's not really a lie. Not really. He is tired, and it is because of doing the order. But what Seokjin doesn't clarify are the details of the order he's fulfilling. And he lets Hoseok have his assumptions that it's a big order — big enough to tire Seokjin out. It isn't, of course, but Seokjin doesn't correct him, because correcting him would invite too many questions. Question about how he'd be tired out after doing such a small order when he'd normally breeze through it no problems at all.

 

Because, normally, he has Yoongi's help.

 

He hadn't asked, and Yoongi hadn't butted in where he hadn't been asked. Seokjin supposed that neither of them had really wanted to deal with the awkwardness between them last night.

 

“Anyway,” Seokjin quickly changes the topic. “Speaking of Taehyung, how has Taehyung been?”

 

Seokjin doesn't expect Hoseok's immediate reaction to be surprise. “Oh? You haven't seen Taehyung?”

 

“Er. No.” Seokjin blinks, “was I supposed to?”

 

“Oh. No. I just thought he would come by the shop.” Hoseok shrugs, “he seemed a little down after saying goodbye to his friend after all.”

 

“I'm not surprised. He said Namjoon was with him for 8 whole years, and it seems like the spirit was almost like his older brother. Taehyung seemed to depend on him for advice a lot.” Seokjin taps his fingers on the table, absentmindedly.

 

“Mmm, which was why I thought he'd come to you or something. I think you're probably the next closest to a brotherly figure that he has. I'm surprised he hasn't.”

 

Seokjin shrugs at that. “I'm guessing maybe I'm still a little too authority figure still. Plus, it was on my suggestion that he send Namjoon off, so maybe he can't really bear to see me at the moment.”

 

“Oh.” Hoseok thinks about that for a moment. “I...I guess.”

 

“He'll be fine.” Seokjin smiles, a little, although he wonders who he's trying to console: Hoseok, or himself. Because, he had totally forgotten about Taehyung in the wake of… well, what had happened with Yoongi. “He used to come to me because other than Namjoon, he didn't really have anyone else to talk to about things like that. But now he has Jeongguk. And I guess, Jimin too. I mean he's always had Jimin, but now he can actually really talk to Jimin without worrying whether his friend is taking him seriously or not.”

 

“That's true.” And Hoseok smiles a little, rubbing the back of his neck. “And it's only been two days. He could have been too busy or in no mood to make social calls. Maybe he'll pop by for a visit soon.”

 

“Probably,” Seokjin agrees, but before he can say more, Hoseok's phone buzzes yet again.

 

“Ah. Must be Daniel.” And Hoseok looks at the caller ID before pressing the decline button. No point wasting time answering. Daniel probably had only been trying to get Hoseok's attention. Actually, Daniel probably is surprised Hoseok isn't out yet. Normally, Yoongi would have sent Hoseok outside once he'd sensed Daniel's car coming within range. “I'll see you soon, hyung. Let me know if you notice anything from those files?”

 

Files? Right. Files. The ones in his hands that he's supposed to be reading so that he can help see if Daniel and Hoseok had missed any vital clues about the poachers’ movements that only an expert in ingredients like him would notice. “Yeah. Of course. I'll give you guys a call. Or text you if I can't call you.”

 

“Mmm.” And Hoseok quickly moves over for a hug, which Seokjin returns out of muscle memory than anything else. “Give Yoongi hyung a hug for me, okay?”

 

“Er. Y-yeah. Sure.” And Seokjin nearly chokes on the lie, even as he lets go of Hoseok. And he suppose he should be thankful that Hoseok is rushing off because he would have definitely noticed that otherwise. “Bye, Hoseok. Stay safe.”

 

“I'll try!” Hoseok laughs even as he rushes down the stairs, “bye!”

 

And with Hoseok gone, Seokjin is alone.

 

The file in Seokjin's hands lands onto the table with a thump, and the witch leans back feeling like Hoseok had taken all the life that had been in the room with him. And he's not too sure how to feel about that, because on one hand, he can finally stop pretending that he's reading the damn files when his eyes are just really observing black shapes in paper and that is actually exhausting; but on the other hand, it's just so quiet right now. He had never thought his workshop as quiet — cosy, maybe, quaint? But not quiet . Never quiet. Even when Yoongi hadn't been in the room with him, it had never been quiet.

 

Seokjin can't even feel the far off echo of Yoongi's emotions whenever his familiar isn't in the room with him. Yoongi had shut his side of the bond firmly down.

 

He never thought the day would come where he'd actually miss that. It had been something they both had to get used to. Now, its absence is almost upsetting.

 

"Fuck.” Seokjin says, coming to a realization. “I miss him. I miss that fucking, stupid, emotionally constipated demon-cat.”

 

The solution to this is really simple actually. He just has to confront Yoongi and talk things out. And really, if the conclusion of their talk is that they want things to remain status quo, then things will remain status quo. Seokjin is a simple man, if Yoongi says he's alright with the situation, even if Seokjin rejects wanting something more, then he won't second guess Yoongi's intentions. And if things are still oddly uncomfortable after that? Well, Seokjin is well versed in the art of faking it till making it.

 

So, no. He's not at a lost on how to solve this. He could probably march right up to Yoongi and solve it now — could have solved this days ago really. But, he hasn't.

 

There's a groan in the air, which Seokjin realizes after a moment had been made by him. And he drapes an arm over his eyes, leaning back against his chair, because this? This inactivity? It's dumb. It's dumb and extremely out of character for him, because for once in his whole life, he really doesn't have a clue what to do.

 

Well no, that's not true. He normally doesn't have much of a clue really. But, again, fake it till you make it is very much his policy. But somehow, Seokjin feels like he doesn't want to just pick a logical, or even arbitrary course of action to stick with this time around. Somehow, he just feels that after 200 years of harbouring unrequited feelings, Yoongi deserves more than that.

 

“So? So yeah, I fucking love Jin and want to be in a lovey dovey relationship with him where we do all the old couple things we already do, but maybe also fuck. But as I told you for the thousandth time, I'm not going to tell Jin anything because I like what we have now, and I'm not going to risk everything for my own fucking selfish desires, so could you get on with the program and fucking leave the both of us alone?”

 

Seokjin winces a little at the memory as if Yoongi is actually shouting in his ear right this moment. He might as well have been, with what he’d said that day.

 

Yoongi loves Seokjin. Always has. Or at least, always since after he'd gotten over his annoyance at Seokjin making him Seokjin’s familiar without his permission, even if it had been to save his life. Seokjin is pretty sure that had been real. The hate. Yoongi had hated Seokjin once.

 

But now, he loves Seokjin. Romantically.

 

And wants to do all the things attached to being in love. Romantically.

 

Seokjin resists the urge to bash his head against the table. He's been spending too much time with Taehyung. Learning all his bad habits.

 

Actually, maybe he's just being overdramatic, like Taehyung. The issue, at its core, is really simple in actuality.

 

Seokjin just has to figure out if he loves Yoongi back.

 

He doesn't resist the urge to bash his head against the table this time.

 

(Yeah. He's fucked.)

 

~*~

 

This is all Yoongi's fault.

 

“Oh. Shit. I'm sorry, I didn't— uh. Towels. Do I get towels? Are you okay? It's not eating your skin is it?”

 

Seokjin just takes a moment to wonder how it’d come to this point. It’d just been another day like all others. Well, like all the others for a week before this. Oddly silent, oddly hollow, Yoongi-less.

 

Seokjin had wondered today, after he'd gotten out of bed and stared at his empty workshop, if the situation between Yoongi and Seokjin had actually affected the space they occupied. It might have. People with powers sometimes manipulate things around them whenever their angry or stressed without realizing it. But Seokjin would have to do more research on that.

 

But the point is, the atmosphere in the workshop had felt oddly hollow, feels  increasingly hollow in fact. And Seokjin had literally spent the past week doing things so that he could ignore it.

 

Which is why, he had obviously thought it an excellent idea to get very, very deeply engrossed in making a tincture for curing warts that definitely a bit too complicated for him to make alone.

 

Unfortunately, being very deeply engrossed in such a complicated recipe means his entire consciousness is focused on making it, leaving nothing left for situational awareness. And he hadn't thought anything about it, because he never had a problem with that before, because Yoongi would normally inform him when someone was arriving.

 

Except, obviously, Yoongi couldn't do that this time, on account of him hiding out in some other part of the shop and all.

 

And so when Taehyung suddenly decides to show up at Seokjin's workshop, announcing his presence in typical Taehyung fashion, i.e. loudly — Seokjin had been wholly unprepared. "Hey, Jin hyung!"

 

Seokjin had jerked.

 

And then, it'd almost been like a horror movie.

 

Seokjin's cauldron had lit up almost like Christmas, except much more eerie, the lights an odd mash of slime green and suffocation purple. And Seokjin had only managed to throw up one hand, before there'd been an odd gurgling, sucking sound.

 

If someone had taken a snapshot of this moment, they probably could have sold it to some museum, claimed it as a perfect artistic rendering of ‘the moment before shit goes down’.

 

And then whatever had been in the cauldron had imploded, splattering Seokjin and the floor in the vicinity with what looks like black goo. It had led to this current moment, Taehyung having yelped in surprise and looking as if he’s about to get a heart attack from worry and alarm.

 

Seokjin probably should respond to Taehyung before the medium gets too panicky that the potion on him might be eating him alive or something.

 

But he doesn't. Mostly because he's sucking in a deep, deep breath to get himself back under control before he answers. He's okay. Everything's okay. Well, no okay, okay. But everything’s fine. It’s his fault for attempting so complicated in the first place without his goddamn familiar who should have been bloody fucking here in the first place, and who would have warned him Taehyung was coming up, and Seokjin doesn't even really have the right to curse Yoongi, because this is really more Seokjin’s fault than anything—

 

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

 

Hecate. He feels dead inside with how much he's been repressing his emotions to be able to be a functioning member of society.

 

“It's okay, Taehyung. It's fine.” Does his voice sound funny? No, it's fine. He's fine. He's just a little drained attempting doing that potion on his own is all. And he waves a hand, feeling even more magic get drained out of him as he activates the complicated potion reversal spell that he'd set up on his cauldron. It feels a little sluggish. He hasn't had to use it in a while. “Just… give me a bit.”

 

Taehyung is awkwardly hovering by the top of the stairs, looking like he's braced to race back down and grab... something. But at Seokjin’s word he relaxes a little. "Okay." and he sounds a little sheepish for some reason. Seokjin doesn't know why. He should be the one sounding sheepish. He shouldn't have scared Taehyung like that. But he supposes it's okay now, because knowing Taehyung, he's probably fascinated with how the failed potion is slowly crawling back into the cauldron.

 

Slow is the word though, and it feels like it takes forever before the last of the black goo has crawled its way back into the cauldron.  And Seokjin sighs, peering inside once it's done, just to make sure that the reversal charm is doing its work, refining his potion back to its base state again. It is, but, ugh. What a lot of work wasted.

 

Finally, he straightens, turning to face Taehyung with what he hopes is a proper smile, and that it doesn't look as thin as it feels on his face. “Hey. What brings you here, Taehyung?”

 

The medium still has that sheepish expression on his face, smiling in return. “Uh... just wanted to stop by and say hi. Catch you up on things... sorry about that.”

 

And there's an odd expression on Taehyung's face as he glances around, an odd expression Seokjin doesn't really like the look of— "Where's Yoongi?"

 

Fuck. He’s more tired than he’d thought, because he can feel his face starting to crumble at the question before he catches himself and schools his face into calm and blankness once again. “Yoongi… he's… Somewhere. In the shop, doing something.”

 

“But he's not important.” Seokjin quickly changes the subject, hoping Taehyung hadn't caught his slip. “So, catch up. Yeah. We should do that. You've been okay?”

 

From the look of it, Seokjin's attempt at pretending not to be affected by the question hadn't quite worked, judging from the furrow in Taehyung's eyebrows. But thankfully, the medium has the attention span of a guppy and the question Seokjin asks him distracts him easily.

 

“Yeah... yeah. I mean. Not the best, but I'm getting there.” Oh right, that’s what had been missing in Seokjin's life: the sense of guilt for having been so distracted by his own problems that he'd forgotten about Taehyung's — whose problems are far more vindicated than his own. And he struggles keeping the guilt off his face as Taehyung walks over to the table and chairs, dropping down into one. “Namjoon's gone.”

 

“I… heard.” And it's a little easier, in the wake of Taehyung's obvious dip in mood. Always easier to be put together in the face of problems other than your own. “Hoseok came the other day, he was surprised you hadn't come over yet.”

 

Taehyung shrugs, hands clasping in his lap. “I needed some time I guess. Sorry. I should have been the first one to tell you after how much you helped me.”

 

“No, I figured that you needed the time to… process.” Seokjin moves over, seating himself down in a chair next to Taehyung's. “And I also figured that you already had Jimin and Jeongguk to help you, so I wasn't too worried. And there's no need to apologize. I extend my help to you not expecting any sort of repayment. I just hope you know that I'm always here to help, whenever you're ready for me to help.”

 

The medium's expression softens. “I know. Thank you, hyung. I think I'll be okay.”

 

“What did I miss here?”

 

Seokjin's expression stutters for a moment, before it returns to his glacial, calm expression. “Not… much. Business as usual.  Been… busy.” Trying not to think about how he hadn't even seen hair or hide of his familiar for the past two days. “Nothing important. You sure you don't wanna talk about Namjoon more?” Holy shit, did he sound as desperate to change the topic as he thinks he does with that question? He hopes not.

 

“Not really.” Taehyung blinks at him, mouth opening and closing. And Seokjin belatedly realizes that had probably been the dumbest deflection that he could have made. ‘You sure you don't want to talk about Namjoon more?’ Yeah, like Taehyung wanted to talk more about something that would make him sad again after pretty much working himself through his sad phase already.

 

Yeah. He's an idiot. Also, he's trying not to have a panic attack. Taehyung is definitely going to ask now. He supposes it's good, he can steel himself a little for the inevitable question.

 

“Hyung... is everything alright? You're not really yourself.”

 

Not. Panic—

 

“No. I'm— I'm f-fine.” Fuck. His voice’s cracking. Why is his voice cracking? Taehyung is here because he needs Seokjin to help him. What the fuck is he doing? Get a fucking grip, Kim Seokjin. “Everything's fine. Nothing's wrong. Nothing's wrong at all.”

 

Taehyung looks surprised for a moment, before his expression settles into something more serious. How many sinking feelings in his stomach can Seokjin get a day? There should be a quota. He'd like to limit it to, oh, maybe… never. “Hyung, you're lying.”

 

Fuck.

 

“I…” and Seokjin's voice hitches, feeling tears rise up in his eyes, threatening to spill. “Fuck.”

 

It's been barely a week since this nonsense had started, and he's already a veritable mess, breaking down in front of someone he's meant to comfort— and, fuck. What the fuck is wrong with him? He doesn't even really care. “Fuck— I'm… I’m not okay. Fucking— f-fuck. I'm… I'm s-so sorry, T-Tae… Taehy-urk—!”

 

And he doesn't really see, but the next thing he knows, there are warm, lanky arms around him, pulling him into a tight hug. His face is squished against Taehyung's chest and he's pretty sure he's creating a wet spot on Taehyung's shirt, but he can't really find the strength to pull away. Not even in surprise. Not when Taehyung holds on yet tighter, mumbling, “don't be sorry hyung,” against his hair.

 

But it seems he still has the energy to feel guilty, that somehow, it's Taehyung who is the one comforting him right now. “I-I'm supposed to b-be… c-comforting y-you. This… This isn't— it isn't even t-that s-serious…” But he can't help himself, the sobs breaking out even harder because he just misses Yoongi so much. Misses his stupid ugly mug everywhere, and his body brushing against him in the kitchen, and the weight pressing down on his chest when Yoongi sleeps in his cat form at night. And Taehyung isn't Yoongi. He's too tall and broad and the obvious difference just makes it fucking hurt even more. Good goddess, what is wrong with him? He's even ungrateful when someone gives him a comforting hug? Could one die from overwhelming feelings of guilt? Is it bad that Seokjin wishes it’s a thing a little? “I'm… I'm s-so so-rry…”

 

“It's obviously serious for you,” Taehyung says, patting the back of Jin's head. Seokjin wonders if Taehyung had been a saint in his previous life. He's such a good guy. “Let it all out, it's okay. Even big bad witches can be sad sometimes.”

 

And Seokjin lets out a noise that sounds like a small explosion — so loud he startles even himself. Apparently that's how he sounds when he tries to laugh and cry at the same time. “I-I'm… more than t-two centuries old, T-Taehyung. A-and you're trying t-to cheer me u-up like I-I'm f-five.”

 

He might be a little bit hysterical at this point.

 

“Age is but a number,” Taehyung hums over the witch's head, hand smoothing down to Jin's back. “Just a really big number. And everyone needs a good hug and cry every now and then.”

 

Seokjin makes another sort of strange noise, maybe something between choking and giggling, but he doesn't pull away from Taehyung, letting the medium pepper him with physical affection. He gives up trying to have the strength to protest it.

 

Seokjin doesn't know how long they stay this way, letting Taehyung smooth his hand down his back, humming some nonsense tune in that low voice it his. And they don't stay like this exactly; every once in a while they shift a little, when muscles get a bit cramped, so that they're a little more comfortable. Seokjin face ends up more buried against Taehyung's shoulder than his chest, and Taehyung's sitting much closer now, having dragged his chair over, so that he can hold Seokjin without straining his arms. And they both stop moving when they both finally get somewhat comfortable.

 

Seokjin can't help thinking that if it were Yoongi comforting him, they'd have been no need for shifting. They'd have found each others comfortable position the moment they hugged.

 

But, finally; finally, it seems like Seokjin wouldn't start sobbing again the moment he opens his mouth, and Taehyung seems to sense that, playing with a lock of Jin's hair, tweaking it lightly. “Better?”

 

Seokjin lets out a little sniffle, but other than a few more stray tears, that's it. “Yeah. But… can I don't let go for a bit?” He doesn't really want to move now that they've finally gotten comfortable.

 

“Not letting go,” Taehyung shakes his head. “I give the best hugs,” he teases, and Seokjin can't help but mentally disagree. Hoseok actually gives the best hugs. But the only one he wants to hug right now isn't Hoseok, actually; nor Taehyung. “So... gonna tell me what's wrong?”

 

Seokjin winces a little at that. He doesn't really want to talk, but, “...I suppose I owe you that much.”

 

Still, it's hard to speak, especially since a part of Seokjin is still screaming at him about propriety — Taehyung should be someone he should be giving advice to, not the other way around. Seokjin nicely tells that part of his brain to shut the fuck up.

 

“I… you must have noticed, that Yoongi isn't here.”

 

Taehyung nods. “Yeah. Did you two get into a fight?”

 

Seokjin snorts a little, “if we got into a fight there would be explosions. Probably. No. We're not fighting. Yoongi's just not here because… it's awkward right now.”

 

“Awkward?” Taehyung tilts his head to look at Seokjin's face better. “Awkward why?”

 

Seokjin makes a small face at that. “Er… well. He might have… accidentally… confessed that he likes me.”

 

The medium squinted in non-understanding. “He accidentally what?”

 

Seokjin regrets asking to stay hugging right now. It's a little hard to run away like this, “he confessed. That… he… uh…” And Seokjin sighs. “Look. Suran kind of forced it out of him, okay. He totally didn't mean to and now neither us know how to deal with this.”

 

“Oh... oh .” Taehyung blinks repeatedly. And Seokjin expects him to maybe, be surprised at the news or something. What he says instead is this: “that's sweet though. Unless you don't like him back... Do you like him back?”

 

What. “I— what the fuck?”

 

“Swearing isn't an answer, hyung. Do you like him back or no?” Taehyung is playing with strands of Jin's soft hair. And really? This feels like some kind of… romantic drama shit right now, with Seokjin as the whimpering main female character and Taehyung acting as the wise, know-it-all friend who always has the best advice and no character development whatsoever. “How you deal kinda depends on the answer.”

 

“No— I…” and Seokjin finds himself even more flabbergasted. Maybe he should submit this to Guinness or something — the most number of times someone has their brain broken in five minutes. “Aren't you supposed to struggle in surprise that Yoongi likes me? Or something? Like, don't you feel this came out of fucking nowhere?”

 

“How? You two are kind of a packaged deal,” Seokjin can't see Taehyung's face, but it sounds like his eyebrows are raised. Very, very raised. How does that even work? Right. Judgemental. Taehyung sounds judgemental. “Why wouldn't he like you? Haven't you been together for like a millenia or something? And you're sweet, funny, thoughtful and fucking handsome. Don't tell my boyfriend I said that.”

 

Seokjin feels like this would be an appropriate moment to stare out into space and reconsider how the logic of the world works, because how had Taehyung arrived at his conclusion? “I— we're— I— we're friends! We've been friends for two centuries! He used to hate me!”

 

Taehyung just levels him a look, which, wow. What did he do to deserve that look? “That's kind of beside the point though, isn't it?”

 

“It's… not…? I… why is it besides the point? I—” Seokjin withers a little. And— shit. Has it come to this? Someone barely a tenth of his age is lecturing him about love. “I just… can't imagine how he kept this under wraps for so long. We've been treating each other simply as friends for two centuries.”

 

“Regardless, he confessed, hyung. So he does like you. The only question left is do you like him back?”

 

Seokjin’s mouth gaps open, then closed, then open again. “I…” And then he lets out a noise like the air escaping out of a balloon and then practically sags against Taehyung, deflated. “That’s the problem. I really don’t know.”

 

“You don't know?” Taehyung echoes in confusion. “How do you not know?”

 

“I... I just don’t?” Seokjin shrinks a little more on himself, which is quite a feat, since his frame isn’t exactly small. “It’s… a thing. Yoongi is… emotional constipated, but understands his emotions very well. But I— I’m good at expressing emotions, but half the time I don’t know what I’m feeling or why I’m feeling something.”

 

Taehyung just blinks at him. And Seokjin wonders if what he’d said was it really that hard a concept to grasp? “Well, how do you feel around him?”

 

Seokjin stares right back. What the fuck is that question? “I feel… like… I always feel around him?”

 

“And what is that?” Taehyung insists. “How does Yoongi make you feel? With words.”

 

The witch continues to stare at Taehyung. “He… makes me feel like he always makes me feel?” And because he know Taehyung would probably hit him at this point if he doesn’t elaborate, he rushes to continue. “I just… he’s warm, and comfortable. He’s always been there for me? I don’t… I don’t know. What do you want me to say? Things have been this way for so long, I… it’s not like, fireworks or… that kind of thing? Like I look at him sometimes, like when he does something silly, or cute, and my heart grows warm but like… it’s always been like that.”

 

“Warm how? Warm the way other people make you warm?” Taehyung presses on.  Seokjin can tell he's trying to drive at something, even if the witch is still clueless at to what. He sort of wishes the medium would just tell it to him straight. “The same warm as with Daniel, or Jeongguk, or Hoseok?”

 

“I—” Seriously, where is Taehyung going with this? “Of course it’s different. But I’ve known Yoongi for so many years. Of course it’s going to be different. He’s… he’s my best friend. He’s there for me… always… been there for me.”

 

“And did you ever look at him and think ‘wow, he's kind of cute?’” Taehyung raises both eyebrows now. “Or maybe hot. I dunno, he's kinda short for me but maybe you like tiny grumpy men?”

 

“He’s the perfect height for cuddling.” Seokjin blurts out before his brain can think better of it. “W-wait. No. That’s not what I— what?”

 

Taehyung looks like the cat who'd caught the canary, eyes sparkling. “Oh, so you like cuddling with him?”

 

Fuck. “We… always cuddle?” Seokjin says weakly, “like… he’s usually in his cat form. But sometimes in his human form? I— we sleep together nearly every day— fuck, not that way! Just you know… it’s nice having… someone in your bed.”

 

“Is it nice having someone in your bed? Or is it nice having Yoongi in your bed?”

 

“I— what’s the difference?” Seokjin voice grows even weaker. Because the witch is beginning to catch on, and he knows exactly what Taehyung is talking about. And imagining anyone else in his bed is impossible. Hell, he wouldn’t even cuddle Hoseok, or Jeongguk, or Taehyung in his bed. Not even platonically. Sure, he’d hop onto other people's beds no problem, if they wanted him to. But not his bed… his bed is… theirs . It belongs to him and Yoongi. No one else.

 

“The difference is it's Yoongi.” Taehyung pulls back enough to look Seokjin straight in the eyes. It's probably supposed to be some impactful moment or something. The witch just tries his hardest not to go cross-eyed. “Hyung. Why do you sound like you're trying to convince yourself of something? What are you hanging up on?”

 

Seokjin’s jaw drops open a little. He can’t actually believe he’s being lectured like this. And his mind is swirling because of the implications of what all this means is slowly dawning on him. “I— I’m not… I thought… this was all normal. I thought things just… felt a little intense… because of the bond… you know?”

 

“All that crying wasn't someone missing his best friend,” is Taehyung really freaking wiping his thumb across the tear stains on Seokjin's face right now? “I mean, yeah. Missing a best friend sucks. Especially a 200-year-old one. But that sounded more like heartbreak to me.”

 

Seokjin's eyes feel dry. He's been kind of staring at Taehyung without blinking for the past five minutes. He also feels a little disoriented, like Taehyung had just pulled out the rug out from under him. “Heartbreak?” He repeats, his own voice sounding like it was coming from far away. “It’s… Yoongi didn’t break my heart.”

 

“No.” Taehyung is frowning at him now. “You broke your own.”

 

Right. Logic. Except it's not logic that makes sense to Seokjin. Is this how young people think these days. “How… how could I break my own heart?”

 

“By getting hung up on stupid details instead of being honest with yourself.” It probably should be insulting that Taehyung is looking at him with an expression so close to rolling his eyes.

 

“Being… honest with myself?” Seokjin echoes, “I'm not—”

 

And he just… stops himself. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, because he's fucking 200 years old, and he knows that Taehyung is right. He's getting hung up on a lot of small details and letting it get the better of him. It's a thing that still catches him from time to time, he knows. His attention to detail is great for making potions, not so great when it comes to being stubborn about things. Yoongi usually just hits him on the head and tells him to stop being stupid. Taehyung is being much more patient.

 

“Right.” He finally says, his eyes still closed. “You're… saying that I'm… actually in love with Yoongi too.”

 

“I'm not saying anything,” Taehyung huffs (huffs!) at him. “You're saying it yourself, when you stop turning everything into a question. Say that last bit again, and tell me how it sounds.”

 

Seokjin's eyes snap open, and forgetting himself, he gives Taehyung an almighty pout. “Don't need to be snappy with me. Yeesh. Fine. So I'm actually in love with Yoongi? But that means I've been in love with Yoongi for maybe the past two hundred years without realizing it, you know?”

 

“After the conversation we just had, I wouldn't be very surprised.” Oh now Taehyung is smirking at him. “Say it, hyung.”

 

Seokjin gapes a little at Taehyung, barely resisting the urge to throw up his arms. “Fine! I'm in love with Yoongi. Been in love with him for the past 200 years without realizing it.”

 

A pause.

 

Then. “Fuck.”

 

Taehyung's smirk has expanded into his wide, boxy grin; and Seokjin can practically hear the finally Taehyung is thinking. He stands up from his chair, looking far too proud of his handiwork. “I'm gonna leave now, hyung. I'll visit again tomorrow, and if you and Yoongi hyung aren't conjoined at the hip like usual I will enlist Hyejung and Jisoo's help in locking you both in your own closet.” The fucking ass is actually skipping — skipping — over to the stairs. “Go get'em tiger!”

 

Seokjin stares after Taehyung, his eyes almost comically wide. “What? What the fuck? You can't just leave after dropping that bomb on me!”

 

“Yes I can,” Taehyung calls up the stairs. “You two are adults, and as you like to remind me, really, really, really old. See ya!” With that, his headful of hair disappears past the landing, the sound of the shop's door opening and closing echoing back up after him.

 

Seokjin just stares at the spot where Taehyung had been, long after the medium had left. He doesn't know how much time has passed after, but when he finally does tear his eyes away, it's to close them and to drop his face into his hands in absolute mortification.

 

He's never going to be able to live this down.

Chapter Text

When Seokjin meets Yoongi for the first time, it's on a cold, drafty night in the middle of May.

 

It sounds like the starting lines some kind of sitcom, ‘when Seokjin meets Yoongi’. Some kind of fantasy sitcom hybrid maybe, because well, of what Seokjin and Yoongi are. Or perhaps it's an urban fantasy, because back in the day, the city centers of Daegu had been as urban as could be, the bustling center of Joseon’s transport routes, administrative capital of Gyeosang-do. Although, really, Seokjin is only here for the herbal market of the Yangnyeonsi Festival. And if maybe, he's gone back more times to the Seomun Market, then he'd only blame the store owners for selling such delicious wares that it entices him far more than the high quality, rare ingredients for his trade that he'd specifically travelled here for.

 

He has good genes and a spell for accelerated metabolism. Fuck whoever faults him for taking full advantage of them both.

 

It's on his second night in Daegu that he finds Yoongi. And he specifically remembers both his hands being occupied — a basket filled with flowers and textiles in one; and in the other a fish wrapped in waxed paper that he hadn't been able resist buying, even though he technically didn't need it, having already had his dinner earlier in the evening. But it had looked so fresh, gleaming in the glow of the setting sun, just brought in by a fisherman who’d returned back late. And well, Seokjin rationalized that he could use the scales for a potion he's been experimenting on — one that could help you breathe longer underwater. Now, he just needs to remember to keep the scales after he's removed them, instead of throwing them away as his muscle memory would have him doing.

 

He's on his way back to the house he's rented for an indefinite time to stay in while he's here. The festival is only for three days, yes. But Seokjin knows better. Sometimes fate has other plans in store; and Seokjin has spent one too many times scrambling for a place to stay whenever that happens to commit the same sort of mistakes every single time. He isn't like his teacher, who prefers roughing it out in the wild, sleeping on dirt floors; no. He very much prefers a comfortable yo and ibul and a roof over his head. But he's sort of hoping that if fate does have anything in store for him this time around, they'd let him know soon. He'll lose his deposit if he doesn't inform the homeowner of his intentions by tomorrow morning. And sure, he can spare the money, but it could be better used as a donation to the local orphanage or something.

 

Seokjin should also know better than to ask fate of something. He should have had enough experience to know that fate sometimes does answer; and the answers usually end up completely turning people’s lives upside down.

 

It's just around the corner to his temporary home when he hears it.

 

A soft, weak meow.

 

Seokjin doesn't know why he stops. He thinks animals are cute and all, but he isn't particularly weak to them. Definitely not someone who needs to stop and find the cat the minute he hears something meow. But there's something in the sound of it that makes him stop — maybe it's helplessness. Seokjin has been well trained to stop whenever he senses someone around him needing help.

 

Even if he doesn't like the way he'd gotten that particular skill set, it's still a useful ass skill for his purposes. But that's a story for another day. For now, his eyes scan the bushes where the sound had been coming from, and he's almost about to give up, because all he sees are leaves for a good few minutes. And then, he sees it:

 

One small, dark paw barely poking out of from between the lower leaves of a bush, almost perfectly camouflaged if not for the second, pained meow it lets loose.

 

It's a little unwieldy, even after setting the basket down, mostly because he doesn't really want to put the fish into the basket with his delicate textiles and ingredients since it would be a real bitch if the fishy smell got onto them. So he sort of awkwardly slings it over his shoulder and holds it there with one hand, while he tries his best to push back the bushes to see what he's dealing with.

 

When he sees the small black cat curled up on the floor, looking beat up and hurt, it's exactly what he's expecting. What he doesn't expect is the cat suddenly leaping to its feet at the disturbance, its eyes flashing yellow in the darkness, and Seokjin jerks as the cat seems to grow, a black menacing shadow suddenly looming over Seokjin, a dull, foreign sort of panic trying to worm his way into his mind. And it’s so sudden that Seokjin nearly drops his fish in surprise.

 

He acts before his mind even wraps his mind around what is happening, hand moving to draw out symbols drilled into muscle movement out of necessity. And as simple as that, the illusion dispels. Not that it had been that strong in the first place, made to scare a human perhaps. And a normal human would have probably run, except, Seokjin isn't exactly a normal human.

 

And then, Seokjin is staring into yellow eyes again. ‘Demon,’ his mind supplies, finally catching up. But he hardly processes it, watching the tiny black cat try it's best to continue standing on shaky legs, defiance strong in his eyes. And Seokjin yet still watches, even as the demon swoons on its feet, yellow eyes closing, and slumps back onto the ground.

 

He just stares for a little while. Watching the shaky rise and fall of that tiny, vulnerable form — struggling, breathing.

 

Fighting.

 

He realized he'd been wrong.

 

“You're not helpless at all, are you?” Seokjin says quietly. “Even if I leave you here… you'd continue to fight to survive, wouldn't you?”

 

He doesn't expect an answer, really. But perhaps it's just an excuse to stay there longer, wondering what he's supposed to do now. He could, most realistically, cast a protection spell over the demon, make sure whatever had hurt it to such a state wouldn't be able to find it again, leaving the rest to fate to decide. Maybe leave a slice of his fish behind, in case it got hungry when it recovers some.

 

If it recovers some.  

 

Seokjin isn't too sure what makes him decide in the end. But he's gentle as he picks the small black form up, careful not to jostle, lest he worsens the wounds. And he places it gently down into his basket, covering it a little with the textile on top. Blood seeps into the material, but it's fine. He has a good spell for removing bloodstains anyway.

 

He wonders if demons would like fish. Even if this one is in the form of a cat, it's never good to assume these kind of things.

 

~*~

 

Seokjin cooks fish for the demon in the end, but mostly because the fish is really good, and Seokjin is more used to cooking portions for two at one time anyway. It sits on the dining table, a warming spell over it, along with a net to keep off the insects. But it seems like it might be there a while before either Seokjin or the demon will get to eat it.

 

“Seriously,” Seokjin huffs at the demon, as if all this is its fault. “Who did you anger so that they did so much damage to you? I'm trained in spells to repel you, not heal you, Hecate damn.”

 

His teacher had much in contributing to that. His favourite pastime had seemed to be testing Seokjin by randomly sending things to attack him, just to keep him on his toes. And the easiest persons his teacher could get a hold of to do such frivolous things had been demons. So, Seokjin had pretty much learnt every single demon repelling spell, rune symbol and hand signal there is. Spells to heal demons though? Not exactly on his top things to learn when demons were the ones out to hurt him 99% of the time (the other 1% usually flirted with him, but that too would have probably ended up with pain if he'd been dumb enough to play along).

 

Never thought such a detail would come back to haunt him this way.

 

Seokjin sighs, leaning over to check on the wounds. At least they'd stopped bleeding after Seokjin had slathered on some of his stronger poultices. At least, he could still do that. But they're healing much slower than they should, and Seokjin may not be an expert on demons, but he knows enough to figure the reason why the demon isn't up and about and probably trying to trick him yet is because of a lack of energy.

 

And Seokjin knows how to share energy, don't get him wrong, there's plenty of spells and rituals out there for all sorts of situations and preferences. The problem is, of course, the fact that even if Seokjin were to share the energy with this demon, it would do it absolutely no good — possibly harm him in fact.

 

Seokjin might be a witch, and thus not have the purest spiritual energy out there, but he's still a white witch, which on the grand scale of things, won't kill the demon outright if they receive his energy, but it definitely isn't dark enough to be of use, especially with the kind of spells Seokjin's been attempting recently. Too many… good spells. Essentially.

 

Outside, a cicada chirps loudly. The witch rolls his eyes at the cosmic irony.

 

“Come on, where's the fight I saw in you earlier? You can't be giving up like this.”

 

The demon doesn't reply. Doesn't even so much as twitch when Seokjin checks up on its wounds yet again. No change. Which is worrying. Damn it.

 

Once he manages to get his hands on a supplier, he's going to order all the books on demons he can find. But for now, he knows exactly one surefire way to make sure the demon doesn't die, and it's also the one surefire way to make this demon hate him.

 

It doesn't take him too long to deliberate on this, because even if the demon will hate him, then at least it's alive enough to hate him. And Seokjin is used to hate. Just part and parcel of being a witch. At one time witches might have been respected and revered, but by the time Seokjin had become one, things had turned around and witch hunts are much more in fashion now.

 

“You better eat the fish though, even if you hate me.” Seokjin comments to the demon even as he draws up the circles and sets up the ritual bowls, dripping some of his blood into one of them. “It's expensive.”

 

~*~

 

Yoongi wakes up to see Seokjin's face beside his. He doesn't move. Just waits.

 

Seokjin's eyes open not but two beats later. They blink once, twice; and then crinkle with a smile. “You didn't run.”

 

Yoongi shrugs the best he can, smushed into the corner of the bed like this. “No point. You'd have chased me, or something. Or called me back.”

 

“Only after the running away from me had gotten to ridiculous levels.” Seokjin clarifies, before he smirks, “and then you'll get angry at me.”

 

“Indignant, and more upset, but yes. And then we'll fight some more. And there'll probably be explosions.”

 

“And after we run out of steam, we'll both calm down and apologize and everything will be fine again. And then we'll have this talk, a week later from now.”

 

“A whole week of dramatic angst. Jisoo and Hyejung probably would have had a field day when they found out.”

 

“Probably? More like definitely.”

 

And then, they both smile. And it finally feels like everything will be alright.

 

~*~

 

“Was that dream yours?” Yoongi asks the second time they're both more lucid. They'd both fallen into a sort of doze again a few moments of quiet after the first time, finally content, bond finally settling from the frazzled energy it’d been over the last few days. “That was how it was for you meeting me for the first time?”

 

“Yeah,” there's no need to deny it. And even though Yoongi had posed them as questions, he hadn't really needed to. They both know how it works. “Guess I must have been thinking about it before I curled up beside you and fell asleep. Your posture reminded me a little of the first time I ever saw you I guess. And I guess the bond did the rest.”

 

Yoongi snorts a little. “My impression of our first meeting was also much less sweet. Wouldn't have fostered nice warm feelings, even if the fish was good.”

 

“Of course it was good. It was expensive and I cooked it.” A pause, “I remember you looking like you were about to flip the table when I offered you food in the middle of you screaming at me. And then you paused and aggressively began to eat as if your life depended on it.”

 

“I was hungry.” Yoongi thinks back before frowning, “and upset.”

 

“And you tend to eat when you're upset.” Seokjin finishes with a small giggle. “You were a lot simpler of mind back then.”

 

“I lived as an animal most of the time before meeting you. Can't blame me for that.”

 

“True.” Seokjin rolls over a little so that he can face Yoongi, having rolled onto his back at some point of time. “When was it that you fell for me?”

 

Yoongi tenses for a moment, but Seokjin doesn't bat an eyelid, only waiting patiently. And then the moment passes, Yoongi sighing. “Probably about the same time I stopped hating you.”

 

There's another pause, but this time from Seokjin, and it's more surprise than tenseness. And after a moment, Seokjin asks, his voice bemused, “you… starting liking me because I bribed you with halibut?”

 

A third pause. And usually, third pauses are meaningful — third time’s the charm is but an observation of the quirks and habits the universe tends to default to. And sometimes, it's but silence which speaks volumes, an entire song written without waves; and sometimes it's the pause of a length, as if the silence could draw out a moment in a bid to make it last forever. But this time, this time it's really just Yoongi taking a much longer breath than usual so he can truly bemoan how much of a oblivious idiot Seokjin is sometimes.

 

“Yes, Jin.” Yoongi's voice is practically scalding with sarcasm. “I fell in love with you because I you fed me expensive fish.”

 

“What? Really?”

 

“No, you fucking idiot .” Yoongi groans, “I liked you way before that. The fish was just an excuse to actually treat you nicer.”

 

“Oh.” And Seokjin looks somewhat disappointed. “It would have been funnier if you did fall in love with me because I fed you fish.”

 

Yoongi makes some sort of noise that could have been frustration, and he rolls over to stare at the ceiling, as if the bumps and paint scratches were a code to reveal the secrets of the universe, and maybe the answer to why Yoongi even fell for someone like… well, Seokjin.

 

But then, just as Seokjin thinks he's teased Yoongi enough, the familiar suddenly says, “that stupid fish is the only reason I like fish some much now.”

 

Seokjin blinks, “what?”

 

Yoongi takes in a deep breath, as if he might be able to filter out some kind of strength from the air. “That fish. The one you fed me right after I became your familiar. I only started liking fish because of it. Never liked it before that.”

 

“You…” Seokjin repeats slowly, “only like fish because I fed it to you that first night?”

 

“Yeah, so. Now, whenever you complain about me wanting to eat fish, just remember it was your own damn fault in the first place.”

 

Seokjin stares, brain whirring with this information, and his mouth opens before shutting with a click. Yoongi continues to stare resolutely at the ceiling.

 

The first laugh bursts out more like a surprise than anything else. But the subsequent giggles are more persistent. And Yoongi’s cheeks flush a little as he feels Seokjin curl up, shaking into his shoulder. It takes Yoongi a fair amount of willpower not to push Seokjin off the bed.

 

He does, however, shove the witch hard enough that he nearly does. “Yah, stop laughing. This is your fault. Take responsibility.”

 

“Not—” and Seokjin wheezes, barely able to take breaths in between laughs. “Helping—!” And despite himself, Yoongi feels a sense of endearment — it's been a while since Seokjin has laughed like this.

 

“Why would I want to help you? You're the one laughing at me.” Yoongi rolls his eyes, and it sets Seokjin off again, even though nothing about what Yoongi has said is remotely funny. But it's nice, Seokjin laughing this way. He'd felt utterly guilty, for having left Seokjin on his own for the past few days: knowing his master had been miserable from the few times they had to cross each other's paths, and stewing in the knowledge that that misery had been caused by Yoongi. But well, Yoongi had honestly thought Seokjin would just end it all after one day. He hadn't expect the witch to deliberate for nearly a whole week.

 

“Hey.” And Yoongi startles a little, jerking backwards when he turns and realizes Seokjin is once again on his side, having mostly gotten control over his laughter, and is far closer to Yoongi's face than the familiar had expected. “So exactly when did you start falling in love with me then? You never did answer me properly.”

 

And that's the million dollar question, isn't it?

 

“I don't know.” Yoongi says after a while, not quite meeting Seokjin’s eyes. “I only realized I loved you much later. I'm not sure of the exact moment, when I went from hating your guts to liking you, then to loving you. To be honest, there probably wasn't an exact moment or anything like that. I just—”

 

“Came to a sudden realization that you've been in love for a while?” Seokjin completes, and Yoongi's eyes land back on Seokjin to look at him in surprise. But Seokjin just continues to smile at him, that slow, curl of a smile that makes Yoongi think of swaddling sweaters and hot chocolate. “Yeah. That's exactly how it's for me too.”

 

Yoongi is a little distracted. But then the words sink in, and slowly, his forehead wrinkles, furrow settling in between his eyebrows. “What?”

 

“Oh.” Seokjin chuckles, “Taehyung came over. He made me realize that I've been in love with you for a while now, and just didn't realize it.”

 

But the furrow only deepens, “what do you mean? Yeah, the bond just reconnected so everything feels a little deeper than usual. But your emotions towards me feel the same as they always do.”

 

And that's the magic of it. The way Seokjin can just slide forward, nudging his nose against Yoongi's in a way that the familiar would never allow anyone else to do. And the witch just smiles at his familiar, the same as he's done all these two hundred years. Or maybe less, because there had been hate once. But it's long enough that both of them would say that it's always been like this. Always.

 

“Yeah.” Seokjin murmurs, “exactly.”

 

“Jin, stop being a cryptic piece of shi—”

 

“Yoongi, it seems that I've always been in love with you.”

 

In the stunned silence that ensues, Seokjin takes advantage. He leans forward and closes the distance. Does something he's never done before in all their 200 years together.

 

He kisses Yoongi.

 

~*~

 

They probably will have an eternity of this to come, but Yoongi doesn't think he would ever get tired of kissing Seokjin.

 

But then, it could also be because he's doing a lot more than just kissing right now. Seokjin's skin is soft, thanks to all the skin charms he uses, and it affects even the skin around his waist apparently; and there’s also a hand on his ass, kneading, and oh lord below, he never realized how large Seokjin's hands were until this moment, as pretty much his whole left ass cheek is being felt and squeezed. And they're sort of shuffling out of the hall in the direction of their bedroom at the same time; so, even if Seokjin's mouth is practically sin on his own, this moment isn't the best sample to base his judgement on.

 

Hell, if he's not enjoying it though.

 

But, “w-wait… aren't w-mnh… aren't we-hah. Going to talk about this?”

 

Seokjin doesn't pause from nipping a line up Yoongi's jaw. “What's there to talk about? I love you, you love me. Now you're going to fuck me~”

 

That actually does knock Yoongi out of the mood enough to scowl at Seokjin. “Did you really just sing Barney at me?”

 

“Modified lyrics.” Seokjin laughs against his skin, warm huffs of breath ghosting over and sending slight shivers down Yoongi's spine; despite himself. “I don't think those lyrics would have passed the censor for a kid’s show.”

 

“Shut up.” And Yoongi snaps the waistband of Seokjin’s underwear in retaliation. They both stumble a bit with Seokjin's jerk of surprise, still shuffling down the hall. “I just think we're going a bit fast. You literally just c-confessed to m-me. Stop that.”

 

Seokjin looks up from where he'd been sucking at Yoongi's neck, incredulous. “Yeah. But also, we've been idiots for 200 years remember? We've a lot of lost time to make up for.”

 

Now that Seokjin's stopped, Yoongi kind of regrets having asked him to. But, “but—”

 

“No buts. I'm pretty sure both of us want this. And I promise you, I'm not going to regret this. I deliberated a whole week, Yoongi.”

 

But Yoongi is nothing but stubborn, even if he kind of agrees. “But—”

 

No buts. Seokjin orders this time around, before lifting his head up and smirking right into Yoongi's face. “Right now, we're both going to our room because I don't want to sprain something trying to do it against the door, and also I'm old, I want to do it in comfort. And then we're going to strip, maybe slowly, because you know we both love to tease. And then I'm going to magic up some lube and then you're going to fuck the hell out of me. Or I you. Or both. We'll see how it goes.”

 

It's unromantic and unsexy as fuck, especially with the way Seokjin says it in an entirely factual manner; but still, Yoongi feels his dick jump in response. He hopes that it's a consequence of not getting any for at least a decade. But, he has a feeling that it isn't.

 

He's probably fucked.

 

And is going to be fucked from the way things are looking. They've made their way to their room without much incident, other than, maybe the poor cabinet that Seokjin had knocked over, distracted by Yoongi sucking one hell of a hickey on his neck. But it could have been a cabinet that had some kind of preservation spell on it. Seokjin had done the practical thing and had only spelled the cabinets that contained messy or important ingredients. But whatever, that didn't really matter.

 

Because what matters now, is the way they're both on the bed, half play fighting, half writhing on the bed. And they haven't even really gotten their clothes off: Seokjin's almost still fully dressed except for his shirt half ripped open from earlier where Yoongi had been trying to get at more of Seokjin's skin, and Yoongi's pants are kind of stuck at his ankles, and Seokjin is being a tease and playing with his balls by poking two fingers past the leg hole in his underwear, and Yoongi has half the mind to scold him, but the words get kind of lost in Seokjin's mouth, and they're probably garbled with the way the witch’s tongue is pretty much shoved down his throat.

 

It's unglamorous, and probably looks like an uncoordinated mess to the outside viewer —  nothing like how the movies make it look, or even amateur porn. But yet, Yoongi moans into Seokjin's mouth like a champ, having given up protesting when Seokjin, that asshole, finally stops with the ball poking and actually pulls Yoongi's dick out of his underwear to wrap his fingers around it.

 

Yoongi actually tears his mouth away from Seokjin's so that he can curse. The symphony of ‘fuck’s make Seokjin giggle, even as his long fingers stroke a rhythm up Yoongi's dick.

 

“Don't laugh,” Yoongi growls, nipping at Seokjin's jaw, unabashedly moving into Seokjin's fingers now that he's a little more used to the feeling. “What… hah… what happened to slowly stripping? Yo-ungh… you're still wearing all of your c-clothes… Ugph… Stop fucking teasing, you fucking… fuck—!”

 

“Do you want me to stop to take off all my clothes?” Seokjin grins, before shuddering a little as Yoongi begins to suck another love bite onto Seokjin's collarbone. “Y-yah. Stop that— ngh. You always end up using vi-violence when y-you know you can't win an ar—aaaahhhh…”

 

And Yoongi finally grins like the cat he is, because he's pretty much got a bird in his hands right now. Seokjin's bird that is, because thankfully Seokjin has taken to wearing nice-looking black track pants in the shop these days instead of proper tight button and zip ones, and so it had only been a matter of loosening the string a little while Seokjin had been preoccupied before he'd slips his hand into Seokjin's pants, messaging Seokjin's hardening dick through his underwear.

 

“Sorry, couldn't h-hear you through your aro-arousal— hah…!” and it's probably extremely childish, not so much that Seokjin that his flicks this thumb over Yoongi's head in retaliation, but Yoongi responds in kind, and they're both literally both effectively jerking each other off without intending to because of this ridiculous game of chicken.

 

“F-fuck.” Seokjin says after a while, panting against the top of Yoongi's head. “Are we-ngh… seriously… going to jizz over each other like fucking teen-teenagers like this?”

 

There's a mumble against Seokjin's neck that sounds something like, “you're the one who started it.”

 

“You continued it.” Seokjin scoffs and gives Yoongi's dick another squeeze, the familiar jerking against Seokjin before letting go. “Okay, okay let's get your asshole lubed up.”

 

Yoongi drags his hand across Seokjin's bulge one last time before he pulls his hand out of the witch’s pants. “Do you have to say it like that?”

 

“Ngh… how else do you want me to say it? Time to slick up your ass till it's dripping we— ow!”

 

And Seokjin’s ass stings just a little where Yoongi had smacked it. “Don't complete that thought. And clothes. Off. I'm not going to be naked alone.”

 

“Oh? Ordering me around now are we?” But Seokjin sits up along with Yoongi, getting rid of the remains of his ripped shirt, dropping it by the side of the bed. “Kinky.”

 

“The devil damn, just get your pants off.” Yoongi had already discarded his pants and underwear and his dick is still hard, waning a little the more it spends unattended. But it still bounces a little as he shifts, grabbing the waist of Seokjin's pants and tugging them down. “Don't make me kiss you to shut you up.”

 

“How is that a threat?” Seokjin asks distractedly, tipping his hips to help Yoongi pull his underwear down. But mostly he's concentrating on his fingers, eyes focusing on his middle and index of his right hand to really pay attention to what Yoongi is doing.

 

So he's wholly unprepared when Yoongi says, “because I can use my mouth better to do this,” and then, an searing heat suddenly engulfs him whole.

 

Yoongi can't help but smirk a little when Seokjin lets out a garble of curses, and thankfully, Yoongi had both hands up to pin down Seokjin's hips, otherwise Seokjin possibly could have broken Yoongi's nose with how hard the witch had bucked.

 

Oh. Hello. There's a flash of pleasure through Yoongi's spine at the thought of Seokjin breaking his nose. What.

 

Before he can make sense of that particular thought, he feels hands on his ass and his brain takes a beat to figure out what's coming; but a beat is too late to do anything but half yell around Seokjin's dick as long, long fingers slip inside his asshole, pressing up right up to his prostate the moment they'd slipped right in.

 

“Before you ask,” Seokjin says breathlessly once the both of them stop convulsing from pleasure like two possessed worms from a horror movie. “Yes. I used a locating spell to find your prostate. No, it isn't mine. I found it in one of my teacher’s secret journals while mucking around with his stuff one day.”

 

Yoongi pauses for a moment, flicking his eyes up to stare at Seokjin, a judging expression on his face.

 

“Hey. It's a useful spell okay, more useful than half of the nonsense he patents. It's only because this and the lube spell that I will admit I was glad I was his student, okay?”

 

Yoongi just responds by rolling his eyes and sucking harder.

 

And they continue along this vein, Yoongi on his knees, bent forward trying to suck the soul of Seokjin’s dick and Seokjin leaning over him, using full advantage of his long frame and long arms, getting his fingers deep into Yoongi’s ass, methodologically stretching as he goes. And Yoongi knows that he’s good with his mouth, and it’s utterly satisfying hearing Seokjin harried breaths and barely concealed moans as he works away at the witch’s length; but what he hadn’t figured was how good Seokjin’s fingers feel up his ass. The witch always complains about his slightly gnarled and bony fingers — the hallmark of a powerful witch; something of a genetic mutation that came with such magic, but they feel perfect right now, the ridges giving an extra layer of sensation as they do their ungodly work.

 

If not for many years of practice holding himself back, Yoongi could probably come from this alone.

 

Thankfully, Yoongi is saved from another redundant game of chicken when the fingers pull out from Yoongi's ass and he's tugged away from Seokjin's dick with a whine at the loss on both ends.

 

“What are you complaining for?” Seokjin snorts, hands shoving under Yoongi's armpits to help him sit up. “I thought you were the one who didn't want us to ‘jizz over each other like fuck-fucking teenagers?’”

 

Yoongi reaches out and pinches Seokjin’s nipple in retaliation — not exactly a smart move since he's still being helped up by Seokjin, and he jerks with Seokjin's jerk, nearly falling and squashing his dick against Seokjin's tummy.

 

“You're such a menace.” Seokjin grumbles once he's gotten Yoongi properly righted. He renews the lubrication charm on his fingers and slicks himself up as he asks, “you okay with riding me?”

 

Yoongi grimaces a little as he stretches and shifts while he waits, but he's also moving to allow Seokjin to shift, splaying his legs out in between Yoongi's knees. “Why? Got a kink?”

 

Seokjin snorts, “if anything my kink would be you actually helping me with the housework when you're not trying to avoid me. No, it's just the most convenient position to get into from how we were sitting just now. I'm too lazy to turn over.”

 

So is Yoongi, but he snorts anyway, “how romantic. And admit it, you just want to see me in a frilly pink apron.”

 

“With nothing underneath?” Seokjin raises and eyebrow as he wraps his hands around Yoongi's waist as he stabilizes himself, trying to align himself with Seokjin’s dick, one hand grabbing the base. “Ngnnn… I… hah… I mean I really only want you to help me with the housework, but if you want that can… nhhhh… be… arranged… hahh… boy… Fucking hell, you're… f-fucking tight…”

 

Yoongi opens up his eyes, the look in them glazed as he lowers himself slowly down onto Seokjin’s dick. “W-what did you expect…? It's… ngh… been a while. And fuck, you're big. Bigger than… average…”

 

“I...unf... Hah-thought you'd have fucked a lot of dicks bigger than me, being a-ungggggh… demon! Oh shit—”

 

Yoongi slides all the way down with a small grunt, his forehead furrowed. And he just, sorts of sits there, one hand on Seokjin’s arm, the only thing keeping him from just sitting fully down on Seokjin's crotch being his trembling knees and Seokjin's hands around his waist.

 

Nothing happens for a long, long moment, almost as if someone had cast a time suspension spell on them. And they're frozen there, Yoongi just half balancing himself while impaled on Seokjin's dick. And Seokjin looks mildly alarmed and worried and like he might not even be breathing. But then Yoongi grunts, and shifts a little, causing both to shudder a little. “O-okay… just… Gimme a… hah… fuuuuuckkk…”

 

Seokjin feels like he should be the one cursing. The warmth that is encompassing him is incredible. But, well. With the last curse, Yoongi begins to move.

 

Safe to say, Seokjin would actually be cursing if he manages to gather the mental capacity to. Right now, all that's escaping past his lips are some undignified whimpers and moans, and it's really all he can do to hold on tight to Yoongi's hips, and trying not thrust upwards too hard, because even after all these years, little Seokjin is still one incredibly eager fella.

 

It's this odd little humping rhythm now, a steady bass and thrust, with a little syncopation thrown in whenever Yoongi squeezes a little tight; or when Seokjin hands wander a little, brushing against Yoongi's nipple to tease — and now that they've both gotten over the initial shock of warmth and friction, there's a lot more of that going on.

 

Teasing, that is.

 

“Ow— fuck. Stop… Stop that.” Seokjin groans a little when Yoongi leans forward to latch his mouth onto Seokjin's collarbone, nipping and suckling, after Seokjin had teased his nipples one too many times; it's almost as if Seokjin isn't tipping his head back to allow Yoongi easier access to his neck.

 

And from the smirk that's on Yoongi's face and the way he clenches his ass as he slides back down again, he knows exactly how much Seokjin actually wants him to stop.

 

But they've been playing sexual footsie for the past ten minutes, and Seokjin wants to do something, anything, to get back at Yoongi right now. And he would: he has ideas. But it's a little hard to execute them right now, Seokjin’s coordination already not the best on normal days, let alone while he’s being ridden by one very smug asshole with an equally tight ass-hole who’s very steadily pushing Seokjin towards the cliff of climax, and it's just— really, really hard to concentrate, okay?

 

It's a bit of a miracle thus, that Seokjin thinks of what he does next.

 

There's almost no warning, except there is, the tiniest trickling in the back of his head, like an invitation. And preoccupied as he is, Yoongi doesn't think as he reaches out towards the bond beckoning for him. It's second nature for him by now, to respond to Seokjin reaching out to him by their bond.

 

Only, instead of a vague sort of worry, or a sense of urgency, what shoots through the bond instead is the echo of pleasure — an overwhelming, encompassing heat that almost feels like it's actually wrapped around his dick when there's nothing there. And in his surprise, Yoongi losses control.

 

Seokjin doesn't expect it. He expects the phantom echoes that the controlled bond should have only allowed through. What comes instead is an avalanche, and Seokjin jerks upwards with a moaning cry of surprise because he feels a sudden fullness in his ass, a pleasant ache of muscle down his spine and he's jerking up again in surprise and —

 

They both fall onto each other, frenzied noises falling off their lips, hips a mess of movement and uncontrollable rutting as pleasure roars down the bond like some kind of cyclical monster: Seokjin feels Yoongi’s pleasure, which becomes his, which becomes Yoongi’s, which becomes his; and it goes on for infinity times infinity, in a loop where Seokjin doesn't quite know where he ends and Yoongi begins.

 

But, it all has to come to an end. And like everything between Yoongi and Seokjin, it ends in an explosion heralded by their screams.

 

White gushes out of Seokjin's dick, splattering messily onto his own body, and wet fills up his own ass, white squirting at the edges as he's filled up beyond capacity. But Yoongi isn’t inside of him, is he? And there's the feeling of his dick, finally relieved, sagging against the walls of Yoongi's dick, utterly spent. And there's the echoes of oversensitivity even as they both sort of half fall over in a tangle of limbs, and it gets jostled with the movement and—

 

Fuck. He's just. Not going to think for a while.

 

They lie down like this for a while: unmoving, sticky and almost comatose. But slowly, slowly, they collect back their reigns of control over their side of the bond, enough that when Seokjin shifts and pulls out of Yoongi, he doesn't get confused whose dick it is that flops onto the bedspread like a tired puppy.

 

“So,” Yoongi says after a beat, face still smushed into Seokjin's shoulder. “That happened.”

 

Seokjin snorts, “yeah. It happened. It was wild. I can't believe you lost control of your side of your bond.”

 

There's a sort of whining noise, and then Yoongi turns his head so his face is mushed into Seokjin’s jaw instead. “It's your fault for starting it.”

 

“You were the one being a little shit.”

 

“Only because you were being one first.”

 

Touché.

 

“But well, it all ended up fine in the end.” Seokjin shrugs after a moment. “I totally forgot that the bond could be used for such things.”

 

“...Wait. Have you actually fantasized about this before?”

 

“What? No! Just… remember I had a phase reading bad romance novels? And then we found this author who was really accurate about her supernatural stuff and we found out that she was actually a succubus doing a side job for fun?”

 

“Oh Lord Satan.”

 

Seokjin gives an almighty shrug, mightier than all the ones he'd given before. “Let's just say her witch and familiar stuff was really, really hot. Ten out of ten would masturbate to again.”

 

Yoongi closes his eyes, expression pained, “tell me. Why do I like you again?”

 

“I don't know really. We kind of went hand wavy on that front and got straight to the sex. Speaking of which, I'm kind of miffed we've missed 200 years of this.”

 

“I don't know.” Yoongi says after a pause. “I feel like if we got together 200 years ago, the sex wouldn't have been this good.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“I mean, not sure about you, I definitely learnt all my tricks being with other people.”

 

“That's true. But I don't know… we have bond sex after all.”

 

“Bond sex would mean bad sex would be amplified to become horrible.” Yoongi says dryly, before he pausing to think. “Huh. I probably would have revolted and murdered you if that had happened.”

 

“That, is true.” Seokjin lets out a sigh, “alright. I concede. Although maybe not 200 years, but I'll regret us being dumb enough not to get together maybe fifty years ago.”

 

“Fair enough.”

 

“Speaking of bond sex though, as good as it was, I think there's a downside.”

 

“And what is that?”

 

“Well. It feels weird that my ass doesn't actually hurt right now. Like… I feel a little empty. Somehow.”

 

Yoongi actually shifts so he can properly look up into the eyes of his master, “Jin.”

 

“Er… yes?”

 

“Are you sort of asking me to fuck you right now?”

 

“Oh. Er.” And Seokjin runs that through his mind again. He hadn't been serious, but, “yes. I think I am. But it doesn't need to be now.”

 

Yoongi fixes Seokjin with a knowing gaze that actually does make the witch feel a little embarrassed. “Well, okay. Now would be great, but you don't have to!”

 

Yoongi just pushes himself up and gets back on his knees.

Chapter Text

Jeongguk eyes are so wide, Yoongi has to pause for a moment to try to remember if Seokjin might have a spell to put eyeballs back into their sockets because Jeongguk’s do look like they're about to pop out any moment.

 

“Oh. Jeongguk. You're a little early today. Don't you have class?” Seokjin yawns as he pads out from the staircase, rubbing his eyes as if it's 7 am and not actually two in the afternoon. His hair is actually sticking out for once because, oops, Yoongi must have dislodged the hair charms in Seokjin's hair yesterday. But Jeongguk seems rather fixated with Seokjin's neck instead.

 

“Erm,” Jeongguk voice is a little high, and he sounds a little like he's bordering on hysteria. “Class cancelled today because the prof was sick. I— Jin-hyung, are those hickeys?”

 

Yoongi can't help but slide his eyes over Seokjin's exposed neck, and wow, in the daylight, Seokjin looks even more wrecked than Yoongi had thought. Seokjin blinks before looking down and trying to squint at his own neck. In doing so, the movement jostles the loose collar of his oversized shirt and it falls off his shoulder, revealing even more marks.

 

Jeongguk lets out another strangled sound.

 

“Oh. These.” Seokjin looks back up as if he hadn't just traumatized a kid he watched grow up for nearly seven years. “Yeah. Well. Didn't expect this to happen. Who would have known Yoongi would be so territorial as to mark me up to this extent.”

 

Yoongi eyes Jeongguk warily in the silence that follows. “I… think you might have broken him, Jin. He stopped breathing.”

 

Seokjin blinks before narrowing his eyes at Jeongguk, “...no. He's breathing. Just very shallowly.”

 

Yoongi looks at Seokjin in mild concern, “and you aren't freaking out?”

 

“Am I supposed to?” Seokjin seems genuinely confused. “He's fine. Just. Possibly in a state of shock. He'll recover.”

 

And this is coming from someone who usually ends up brewing some of the best of any sort of healing potion when one of the Lee Clan so much so as sniffles. “Remind me not to go six rounds with you again. You might actually kill someone from negligence like this.”

 

Seokjin frowns, “didn't we go seven rounds?”

 

“Seven?” Yoongi mentally ticks off in his head. “Oh right. You're counting the one in the shower?”

 

“Yeah? I mean, sure there wasn't any penetration, but you fucked my thighs pretty well.”

 

“Ah. True. Seven rounds then. Remind me not to go seven rounds with you again. Maybe we should limit it to three.”

 

“Five.”

 

“Four.”

 

“Fine.” Seokjin rolls his eyes. “We'll see if you can bear to keep that promise, mister ‘demons don't really have refractory periods’. Thank Hecate for magic.”

 

Jeongguk lets out a pained whine as the two continue to argue. He could have lived his whole life without needing to ever hear some of the things he'd just heard.

 

Next time Daniel has an errand for them to do, he's going to make Jae come here instead.

 

~*~

 

“So, I see you've been putting my lubrication and prostate location spells to good use.”

 

Seokjin nearly decapitates the head of the voodoo doll he'd been making. He takes in a deep breath before putting the pair of large cloth scissors and the doll in his hands down onto his work table. “I would appreciate it if you didn't surprise me while I have a potential murder weapon in my hands, seonsaeng.”

 

“The only one you'd hurt would be yourself.” His teacher seems far too amused as he pushes himself from the staircase railing, starting to walk over. “Even if I've not seen you for a while, I doubt your lumbering clumsiness would have changed.”

 

“I'm not clumsy.” Seokjin mutters under his breath. “My limbs are just really long. There's more real estate to deal with is all.”

 

“Is that so? Well, I'm sure that your familiar enjoyed your really long limbs in your bed last night.”

 

Seokjin pitches the voodoo doll at his teacher’s face.

 

He's pretty sure that his teacher catches the doll, but he turns away at that moment to… what can he do? Right. Clean his work table. He turns away to aggressively clean his work table, so that he can't see if the doll maybe fully smacks his teacher in his face. He likes to think that it does, despite the low odds if it happening in reality. But hey, he'd missed the moment and so can delude himself without guilt and continue to swim in the happy satisfaction of indulging in such a violently aggressive action.

 

“...Jin-yah?”

 

Maybe if Seokjin ignores his teacher long enough, his teacher might just give up and go away.

 

“This doll… you're making it to try to find out more information about the poachers?”

 

Seokjin sighs a little mournfully, feeling his resolve to not talk to his teacher waver and poof into thin air. He doesn't stop aggressively packing his work table though. “The Lee Clan Hunter found a couple of hairs at the last location, so we're hoping this helps at least.”

 

His teacher is turning the doll over in his hands, fingers gently caressing the material. To the random observer, the action probably wouldn't mean anything, but Seokjin knows that Taiji is checking over the spells that he'd sewn into the doll.

 

“Tracking… location… intentions…” And then a small smile, “no manipulation? I'd think that since you're doing black magic already, you'd might as well go all the way.”

 

Seokjin clicks his tongue, hands finally stilling as he straightens, adopting his teacher's own very distinctive pose of hips cant and arms akimbo when he starts nagging— oh sorry, no. It’s called ‘instructing'. “First of all, it's a modified spell. No dark magic and the such. It can't really even compel them. Just put suggestions in their heads so that they might leave some more clues behind. And second of all, being that obvious is dumb. So maybe we get one poacher, but they're definitely working in a group, and grabbing one would just alert then that we're on to them, and before we can even blink, they’d have packed up and fled.”

 

“Somehow, that seems to suggest that if you could use voodoo magic on them, you would.” Taiji chuckles, tossing the doll back to Seokjin. Seokjin has to drop the pin cushion in his hands to stop the voodoo doll before it smacks into his face. It bounces and rolls off into a corner of the floor.

 

“Give a bit of warning next time.” Seokjin is scowling at the pin cushion. He will have to remember to fish it out from that corner, otherwise Yoongi would get pissy at him if he walks into it while in cat form, “and yes, I would, if I could figure out how to make voodoo curses without the heavy consequences on either side. I'm not how I was, seonsaeng. I won't have that kind of negligent death on my hands again.”

 

“Mmm.” Taiji nods, as if that incident hadn't caused a major rift between student and teacher that had never fully healed: where Seokjin had found out the hard way, the consequences that the practice of voodoo held, and then discovering that his teacher had let him — rather than simply warning Seokjin against it. He'd taken the two people who had died as collateral damage; a small price to pay for Seokjin to learn.

 

Seokjin understands. He really does. That customer would have gone to someone else anyway if Seokjin had refused him. And it's an important lesson that Seokjin knows only sting of experience would keep him from committing twice.

 

He still hasn't forgiven his teacher anyway.

 

“So. Anyway, what are you here for? Surely you're not just here to insinuate that I might have gotten dark, even though I've had my hands clean for at least the past hundred years.”

 

“Oh. That's just part of my duty as your teacher, to tease you.” Taiji smiles, slipping his hands into the pockets of his loose pants. It's a little strange to see his teacher dress all modern, in innocuous looking designer street clothes. But it's still a little less weird than the Rococo phase. Nothing could be weirder than the Rococo phase. “But no, I came by to tell you that I'm leaving.”

 

Right. He was wrong about that apparently. This is way weirder than the Rococo phase.

 

“What the fuck do you mean you came by to tell me that you're leaving?” And Seokjin squints at his teacher, as if the narrowed vision would reveal some kind of trick. “Is that really you? Or is that you, Hyosang? And this is some kind of practical joke.”

 

“Why would you say that, Jin-yah?”

 

“Why would I— seonsaeng, this is coming from the person who formed a high-level shikigami and kept it up for a week before dispelling the magic just so I wouldn't know that you left.”

 

“Did I?”

 

Seokjin just levels a stare at his teacher. “Yes. You did.”

 

At least his teacher has the sense to look away and shrug. “I guess I just felt like it this time. Check up on you before I left.”

 

And the stare only deepens. “Check up on me,” Seokjin repeats, voice low. “Seonsaeng, what did you do?”

 

“What do you mean what did I do?”

 

“The only time you show concern for me like this is when you're fucking around with something and the consequences might spill over to me.”

 

“That's… not always true.” His teacher's expression has gotten even more vague, which means Seokjin is digging down the right vein. “It could be something bad might be happening to you already.”

 

“Is something bad going to happen to me?”

 

“I didn’t say that.”

 

“And you being here is interfering somehow.”

 

“Definitely didn't say that.”

 

Seokjin lets out a slow release of air. “So something is going to happen to me, and it's going to be bad?”

 

“Maybe. I wouldn't know.”

 

Seokjin ignores his teacher, eyebrows furrowed in thought. “But you're leaving now. So the danger has passed? Or has your presence simply altered things so that the future might be less devastating for me?”

 

“...Again. I wouldn't know.” And there's a low warning tone to his words that makes Seokjin's hair stand on its end. “But… it would always do you well to be careful of course.”

 

There's silence for a long, long time. And then Seokjin purposefully turns around, returning to his task of clearing his work table. “I should probably be cross with you, for interfering with the flow of fate according to your fancy again . But… thank you, I guess?”

 

Seokjin doesn't need to turn around to know that his teacher is smiling. “Thank me for what?”

 

There's silence after, as Seokjin gathers the scrap pieces of cloth in his hands. And by the time he looks up, his teacher is gone, as if he'd never been there in the first place.

 

~*~

 

“Maybe we should rethink our opening hours,” Yoongi says as he watches Seokjin nearly faceplant into his bowl of rice for the fifth time in the last half hour.

 

“Huh? What?” Seokjin blurrily shakes himself awake again, “Hecate. Why am I so tired?”

 

“Why are you so tired?” Yoongi repeats dryly, “I don't know, maybe after making the voodoo doll and all the other spells Daniel and Hoseok requested, you still insisted on having three rounds of sex and then getting up at your usual time this morning and doing your whole shebang. Maybe that's why.”

 

“First of all,” Seokjin waves a slightly drunken finger in the air. “It's a he bang. And… second of all…”

 

“...Fuckin—” Yoongi scowls, kicking Seokjin's shin. “Did you just fall asleep halfway through your thought?”

 

“...Ow. Huh. What?”

 

But before Yoongi can launch any sort of tirade against Seokjin falling asleep while speaking, their back door suddenly and dramatically bursts open, and one Jeon Jungkook runs in, almost comically smashing into the table from how fast he'd been going. “Hyung! Jin-hyung!”

 

Seokjin straightens back up, eyes wide, mouth opening into a yawn. “Huh? What? Jungkook what are you doing here. Shouldn't you be back home?”

 

“Was doing something in…” and Jeongguk is tapping frantically at his phone to get at something; and the first thing that alerts Yoongi to the fact that the werewolf isn't here for a social call, is how much his hands are trembling, “—Hyung, look.”

 

Seokjin has to jerk backwards a little when the phone is thrust into his face, expression twisted into an exaggerated grimace, even as he tugs the phone out of Jungkook’s hand, good-natured nagging already forming on his lips even as he lifts the phone up to a more readable distance.

 

But then, he stops.

 

Seokjin sighs, scanning through the message before handing the phone to Yoongi. The demon scans through the message as well, even though he doesn't really need to. He'd guessed what the message had said once he'd seen those words die on Seokjin's lips.

 

“That's Daniel's callsign, right?” Seokjin asks Jeongguk to confirm it. And the werewolf nods, licking his lips nervously.

 

“Yeah. I happened to be nearby so I came straight here. Jae can't go, it's still daylight. And trying to get one of the ally families will take too long. So it has to be one of you.”

 

“Right,” Seokjin says after a moment, all trace of tiredness gone. “Let's go.”

 

~*~

 

“Are you, sure it's a good idea that you're going and not… Yoongi-hyung?”

 

Seokjin sighs, “look. I just… have a hunch. Trust me on it? Besides, why are you complaining? If Yoongi had gone, you'd be taking the train down to Cheongnyangi on your own instead of getting a ride with me.”

 

Jeongguk makes a noise that Seokjin knows is supposed to be vague and uncommitted, but Seokjin can smell the casual offence from a mile off, resting his chin onto Seokjin’s shoulder, “you'd at least send me over in a taxi first, right? Hyung?”

 

Seokjin looks over his shoulder as best as he can without knocking them both off balance. “You want me to send you in a taxi to Cheongnyangi 588? Sure. Just don't whine to me when you spend the entire journey trying to evade exactly why a strapping young man like you would be going to an abandoned red light district.”

 

Jeongguk looks mildly alarmed at that. “Why would someone judge me going to an abandoned red light district. It's abandoned.”

 

“Uh huh. Won't stop the driver from being judgy if you start being evasive.” Seokjin sing-songs, even as Jeongguk groans.

 

“Look, hyung. Don't get me wrong. I always love going flying with you,” Jeongguk says very slowly and carefully, as if Seokjin has the hearing of the dual-centurion he is. “But, where we're going, there's probably going to be fighting. And Yoongi is a lot better in a fight. You're kinda…”

 

“Yah. Brat.” Seokjin grumbles, “I dare you to finish that sentence. And I'll have you know, I'm not that bad in a fight, alright.”

 

“Uhuh.”

 

“I'm seriously going to drop you,” Seokjin complains. “You've never even seen me fight before. See if I take you flying with me ever again.”

 

“You don't fly that often.” Jeongguk mumbles, petulant. But it's obvious that the threat works, and a smile crosses Seokjin's lips despite himself.

 

“Out of all the Lee Clan, you're the only one who likes flying with me, I think. And Haru. But I don't know if she'll grow out of it.” Seokjin chuckles, even as he tilts his broom, steering it leftward as his locator spell directs him to. “Hoseok was terrified the first time he tried, Daniel is stoic, and he can make short trips but he doesn't enjoy it. Jae and Jisoo are ambivalent. And well, I can't really tell with Hyejung but I only ever gave her a ride once.”

 

There's a pause, and then the arms around his waist tighten a little. “They're missing out. Flying is a lot of fun. I wish I could fly with you more when it isn't on the way to some kind of emergency.”

 

Seokjin's smile widens. “Well, maybe after the poachers are dealt with, we can try risking a few hours or flying. I'm sure I can persuade Yoongi to let me out for joyride. Could even ask Taehyung along. You and him can take turns.”

 

“Sure. Although, do I want to know how you're going to convince Yoongi-hyung— wait. Nevermind. No, I don't wanna know.” Jeongguk grumbles through Seokjin’s cackle of laughter. And for a moment, it almost feels calming — the two of them, witch and werewolf, wind blowing through their hair as they fly, almost as if this flight had been a decision based on fun and they're not on their way towards possible danger and death.

 

They land not too soon after, but only after Seokjin casts a scrying spell to make sure there are no drunken or homeless people around to see two people descending from the air on a broomstick. Because even if it isn't often that someone would believe the wild tales of drunken or homeless people, the situation is already a little too volatile to add more rogue elements into the mix.  

 

“I think this is the place.” Jeongguk looks around at the empty street, eyes lingering on the rain streaked walls and dirty windows which had once housed desperate ladies appealing to the vices of men in exchange for cash. Now, there is only dust and the occasional beer bottle left inside.

 

“Ungh. Where are they?” Seokjin shudders a little at the energy in the air. The area has an aura of vice, soured by pain, hopelessness and resignation. And it's only gotten worse after abandoned, left to fester with only time and emptiness and nothing to counter it. “He couldn't have picked a creepier place to meet, could he? Can he hurry up? There's probably poltergeists here and stuff.”

 

“Good thing Taehyung isn't here then.” Jeongguk says without thinking, and Seokjin whips around with a smug look on his face just as he's finished strapping his broom to his back.

 

“Oh? Good thing Taehyung isn't here? That's so sweet of you to be concerned for him even when he's not here.” Jeongguk catches Seokjin wagging his eyebrows and groans, “are you really doing this right now, hyung?”

 

“When else would I be able to do it?” Seokjin grins, “you normally run away after a while. But right now, I'll be able to chase after you.”

 

“I'm pretty sure I'll be able to outrun you still.” Jeongguk narrows his eyes. “You haven't been out of the shop a while. Not much chance to exercise.”

 

“Brat. Did you forget about this?” Seokjin taps his broom. “And I don't even really need to run to be able to catch you. I can just— duck!”

 

It’s probably a little funny actually, the way Jeongguk expression crinkles into a confused ‘what-the-fuck’ expression, and yet he also almost immediately drops into a crouch on all fours, allowing Seokjin more than ample space to fire off a counterspell at whoever it is who'd suddenly come up from behind Jeongguk.

 

It's been so many years since Seokjin has had to put his teacher's hard-drummed lessons to use, but Seokjin's body moves before he even thinks. Six o’clock, two people, one aiming a gun at them. Purple vial around his waist, unhook and throw. Ignore the smoke and smell that comes from acid corroding metal. Fling a constriction spell while they're distracted by the melting gun. Two o’clock, one more person, he's reaching for something. Throw a knock-out spell before he can get to it. Five o’clock, three o’clock, six o’clock again. Fuck. They're surrounded. Cast several explosion spells in succession and pretend such excessive use of magic isn't draining in the least.

 

“Who are they?” Jungkook has managed to scramble up to Seokjin's side while the witch is busy fending their attackers off. “Where's Daniel and the rest.”

 

“Dunno and dunno.” Seokjin grits his teeth, throwing out another constriction spell. “My guess is they're the poachers. Why they're here I have no idea… unless… Jungkook did you ask Jisoo to scry for Daniel and the rest to double check that the message was legit?”

 

Jungkook suddenly goes very, very pale.

 

Seokjin adores Jungkook very much, but at the moment, he has never felt a stronger desire to strangle the werewolf. “We're going to have words later. For now… get your gun out and wait for my signal.”

 

Jungkook nods, expression a little miserable, but he does as he's told without speaking. Seokjin doesn't really have the time or energy to lecture him right now — not with how he's still throwing out small spells to ward off attacks with one hand while forming runes with the other. They're going to need to have a big distraction while they try to escape, and that means a much bigger spell.

 

Fuck. He's only halfway through the spell and he can already feel the drain on his magic. He really is too old for this shit.

 

It feels like forever before the spell is finally done. And he lets out a warning yell before he flings out his hand, Jeongguk quickly covering his eyes as light sparks out from Seokjin's hand and fireworks shoot out in a loud and very explosive arc around them.

 

Seokjin had made this spell a long, long time ago trying to think of ways to entertain small, young children. That had backfired, obviously, seeing as how they'd all cried the first time he'd tested it. But he'd modified it, and now it's one of the more effective AoE skills in his arsenal.

 

...Okay. So he might have gone through a phase maybe 10 years ago where he'd been very into MMORPGs.

 

Anyway, it works, and quickly, Seokjin breaks the seal on the protection spell that he'd brought with him, throwing it onto the ground, a rainbow sheen of energy bubbling and expanding out around them. It's the strongest one he has, and he honestly needs to make more if this is going to be a regular occurrence, because he's maybe down to like, two. The only bad thing about it is that it's bound to the location of where it's cast and so wouldn't be able to protect them once they start flying, but Seokjin is planning to do an unexpected burst of speed at the start, and hopefully the poachers would be surprised enough to miss all their shots.

 

Hopefully.

 

Jeongguk, bless him, is already holding out his gun, eyes out and alert and watching Seokjin’s back as the witch unstraps his broom from his back. They both flinch a little when gunshots sound and the sound of metal hitting glass reverberates in their ears as the bullets ping off Seokjin's shield spell.

 

“Next time maybe add a sound absorber to the spell?” Jeongguk murmurs, flinching yet again when one bullet bounces off an area next to his ear.

 

“Everyone's a critic.” Seokjin grumbles as he gathers up his magic into his hands, channeling and storing it into his broom from that burst of speed he needs. “Okay, get on.”

 

Jeongguk eye the poachers for a while longer, before he lowers his gun, careful as he begins to climb onto the broom behind Seokjin.

 

Seokjin is already readying himself for take-off, power humming beneath his hands. But then, he notices something odd — the gunshots have stopped, the rainbow rippling of bullets hitting the protective shield absent. And for a moment, Seokjin thinks that maybe they've guessed his plan of action and are maybe trying to predict his trajectory so as to try to shoot him down from the sky. Maybe he should make a sudden jerk leftwards to throw them off. But that would waste magic and might possibly throw Jeongguk off the broom and… why doesn't he just use a listening spell on the hunters now that the gunshots have stopped? Jeez, Seokjin is really feeling the exhaustion of all those spells.

 

Jeongguk makes a sort of questioning sound when Seokjin draws a couple of runes in the air, probably wondering why they haven't taken off yet. And he jumps a little when there's a little static in the air, and then a voice starting in the middle of a sentence.

 

“—doesn't it work? This batch faulty or something?”

 

“Just fucking hang on for the the higher up’s orders and— s-sir!”

 

“You fuckin’ idiots. Can't you recognize magic when you see it? Obviously the seals wouldn't work. Demon didn't come — the fuckin’ witch came instead.”

 

And that's the last thing Seokjin hears before there's a loud crack splitting the air, and then an unbearable pain lances up his leg, burning like white-hot fire.  

 

He's vaguely aware of the sound of more shots filling the air, and then flinches when there's a loud, sharp crack that's the telltale sound of magic failing, and he hears Jeongguk yelp when the shield comes crashing down around them.

 

There's the sound of more gunshots, and then the pain shoots up Seokjin’s leg again, vision flashing white and oh Hecate, why the fuck does it hurt so much?

 

“Fuck.” It's that word growled against his ear when Seokjin finally comes to again that he realizes that the weight pressing him down must be Jeongguk. “Oh fucking god, this can't be happening.”

 

Jeongguk sounds a lot panicked, even as he clambers off Seokjin, which makes Seokjin think that maybe he should be panicking too. But he can't really think past the pain in his leg, which has a least gone down to an insistent throbbing. He wonders what's wrong with it. Maybe he should take a look.

 

“Shit— hyung, you should stay— okay you're sitting up already—”

 

Oh… his leg is bleeding. A lot. There's also a bullet lodged in his leg, which makes sense, ‘cause. Duh. Gunshot.

 

Everything makes a lot of sense now.

 

Right. Fuck.

 

“Shit. Shit. Shit.” Seokjin half chants as he quickly pulls a potion from his pouch and dumps the green liquid onto the wound, trying very hard not to cry at the sting that rises. Fuck. Why hadn't he brought anything stronger?

 

“Hyung, they're getting closer.” Jeongguk’s breath is harried, gun poised to shoot. But they both know that it's useless against the poachers. They're terribly outnumbered now that Seokjin is down.

 

“Fuck. You—” and Seokjin rummages through his pouch. “Fuck where did I put it? Jeongguk, I'm going to give you an invisibility charm. You take it and you run, okay?”

 

“Hyung, they'll kill you!” Jeongguk’s eyes are wide, and he really is panicking if he's arguing with Seokjin now when he should know better.

 

“They won't. They need me to get Yoongi. He's the one they want. Now, will you trust me and just go—”

 

Jeongguk never gets to comply, because the next moment, he suddenly lets out a cry, hand slapping against his neck. And Seokjin can't see the tranquilizer dart, but he can guess what had happened when Jeongguk staggers a couple of steps forward before he collapses to the ground like a sack of potatoes, whimpering softly as whatever drug had been in that dart floods his system.

 

“Guk!” And fuck, that is straight out of a B-rate movie, but Seokjin doesn't care. Jeongguk’s down, and there's a poacher walking towards them with a smile like a hunter who'd just gunned down livestock and well, fuck. Seokjin literally sees red.

 

Mostly because he’s completely blown off the top half of the hunter that had been standing over them with a blast of raw magic, and there's blood spraying and splattering everywhere like some kind of macabre fountain.

 

Vaguely, Seokjin thinks he hears screams of alarm and horror around him. But he's not really sure. Everything has gotten sort of dull and hazy around him with the magic roaring in his ears, gathering and growing around him like an uncontrollable beast, perhaps, more than enough to destroy everything around him.

 

Something nags at the back of his head that killing all the poachers probably wouldn't be good. But it's hard to listen to that nagging voice right now, not with the magic singing in his veins.

 

Seokjin raises his hands.

 

But then, there's a cold, sharp sting in his neck, and the magic suddenly cuts of with a painful lurch—

 

He's unconscious before he even hits the ground.

Chapter Text

‘1… 2… 3…’

 

He's always liked counting in multiples of ten.

 

Get to ten, add a number to the one ever growing, get up to ten again, add a number, get up to a hundred, two hundred, three.

 

‘1… 2… 3…’

 

It's a mind numbing process. Soothing almost, even if tedious and boring. And sometimes, if you get too complacent you might lose track. But then, that's what the patterns are for.

 

‘1… 2… 3…’

 

It's almost beautiful really. The way he's arranged things, in a neat order legible only to him. Rows of black against a mess to tell him where he's been. It's a little soothing, reminds him of home, helps him ignore the fact that he can't go back until he's done counting, until the beans are all in neat little rows only he can understand.

 

Only he and one other person can understand.

 

‘1… 2… 3…’

 

He's freer to move about than he'd first thought. They don't jump the moment he crawls from one spot of the floor to the other. Maybe it's all too logical that he would have to move, even duck to a corner to try to reach behind something to get a stray bean that had fallen into a crack somewhere. And it's not like they'd care if he aggravates his injury doing so.

 

He's glad he's kept his nails somewhat long. They hadn't noticed the lead under his fingernails from scraping the wall. He keeps his hands moving.

 

‘1… 2—’

 

A boot comes into view, messing up his neat little rows. Black round beans skitter and slide across the concrete floor, kicked to the side with not even an ouch of care, and he barely has time to flinch back when black pours out, beans raining down and bouncing off the floor. They ricochet like bullets, striking his hands, his face. He hears a laugh and nearly rolls his eyes. Even this petty amount of hurt they can cause him gives them amusement it seems.

 

Behind him, he hears someone shift inside a rattling of chains, a low growl under someone's breath. He wishes Jeongguk wouldn't show his displeasure so openly. It only validates their actions more.

 

He manages to hold himself for a bit this time, waits until he hears the sound of the door closing before he can't stop the itch in his hands to pick up the beans, numbers flashing in his mind. The call in his mind to count, count, count the beans almost in tandem with the throb, throb, throb of his leg.

 

Hecate. He's just so, so tired. He just wants to go home.

 

Home. To Yoongi.

 

‘1… 2… 3…’

 

He starts counting again.


~*~

 

Yoongi wakes up.

 

He can tell from the light, the familiar way his body stretches, that it's 5 am in the morning. Far too early to do anything of use. Not with the situation as it is now. He should go back to sleep, possibly, get more rest.

 

He doesn't go back to sleep. It'd be useless anyway. There's too much energy thrumming under his skin.

 

Energy. Anxiety. Worry.

 

Yoongi closes his eyes, burying his nose deeper into the shirt he'd brought to bed with him. It's one of Seokjin's, from the laundry basket. Yoongi hasn't touched the laundry since—

 

Shit. He doesn't know if the shirt is doing more harm than good. But it's not like he can stop at this point anyway.

 

He doesn't want to think what he’ll do once Seokjin's scent starts wearing off.

 

He won't think of it. Won't happen anyway; because they're going to find Seokjin, and once Yoongi makes sure Seokjin is found and good and safe and bundled up in blankets in this very bed, then Yoongi is going to go out and make sure that the assholes who dared crossed them would wish themselves dead instead.

 

Or he could do that first. Yoongi has never been a stickler for order anyway.

 

“Yoongi-sshi, time to get up! Rise and shine, the early cat catches the bird!’

 

Speaking of killing people.

 

“Seungkwan. It's too fucking early. ” Yoongi’s voice would probably have made most people shrivel up in the spot. Seungkwan instead, takes it as the cue to pull the blanket from off Yoongi's head. “Hey!”

 

“Good morning to you too.” And Seungkwan looks far too serene as he starts folding the blanket neatly. “I brought breakfast.”

 

“Fuck, you're as annoying as—” Jin. “—that stupid medium. Can't take a hint sometimes.”

 

“First of all, I have no clue who you're talking about, but I'm sure he doesn't deserve your ire.” Seungkwan lays the folded blanket back onto the bed. “Second of all, I told you this yesterday, but Hoseok-nim has given me strict instructions not to let you mope. And what did you do yesterday after I came in the morning and you convinced me that you wouldn't mope if I left you alone?”

 

Seriously. “Why is Hoseok, ‘Hoseok-nim’ and I'm only ‘Yoongi-sshi’?”

 

And Seungkwan, normally awkward and slightly cowardly Seungkwan, rolls his eyes at Yoongi. “The answer is, you moped. And then, because I let you mope, you got stuck in your brain enough that you accidentally destroyed a drawer in your anger. So, no. Today you're going to help me do inventory and to help find all the charms we need to prepare for collection or to send out for delivery today.”

 

“Fuck.” Yoongi curses under his breath. He wishes he'd destroyed more than just the drawer. Maybe it would take away the boiling unrest simmering under his skin, deep into his bones.

 

It wouldn't. Nothing but Jin back safe would calm him. But it doesn't hurt to wish that it had.

 

“Hey.” Yoongi sighs when he feels Seungkwan’s hand on his shoulder. And it's probably supposed to be supportive, but Seungkwan will never know how close Yoongi is to biting it off. “Hoseok-nim and the rest will find him, alright? It's only been one day. I'm sure they'll find him soon.”

 

It's not that Yoongi doesn't trust Hoseok and Daniel. He does. It’s just that, “what if they don't.”

 

“They will.” Seungkwan insists, and Yoongi wonders how the vodník can be so sure. “Come on, Yoongi-sshi. You've got a shop to run in Jin-hyung’s absence. Don't want him to come back to a mountain of work, do you?”

 

Yoongi sighs. Sullen — because he knows Seungkwan is right. “No.”

 

“Great. So come on and help me find the orders for today. Jin-hyung's filling system makes absolutely no sense to me.”

 

“You still didn't need to come so early.” Yoongi huffs, but he's pushed himself off the bed, rubbing at his eyes tiredly. He doesn't need much sleep as a demon really, but hell if not sleeping for two days straight hasn't affected him. “We won't need the whole day to do what we need to get done.”

 

“I know.” Seungkwan squeezes Yoongi's arm and the demon’s shoulders relax a little despite himself. “But I'm an early riser anyway. Come on, inventory awaits.”

 

~*~

 

Because this has been what has been decided as necessity as of two days ago. The shop is closed, the notices plastered over social media and a physical poster on the door all say so. Juices aren't being made, and the fruit orders have all been halted until further notice. So it is closed, for all intents and purposes. For humans, at least.

 

But because of a stupid whim a particularly stupid witch had chosen to act on, the shop can never actually be fucking actually closed for once.

 

“This is fucking dumb.” He hates that Seungkwan is already so used to it that he doesn't even flinch when the clipboard that Yoongi had been holding flies across the room, smacking against the wall before falling to the ground. “Jin didn't do inventory. He just knew how much there was of everything.”

 

“Because he's the one who made all the stock. So of course he knows exactly how much of each thing is there.” Seungkwan murmurs, making a note on his own clipboard. “Meanwhile, I don't, hence, inventory counting so I know how to ration everything out.”

 

“Which, by your logic would be useless anyway, because if Jin comes back, then he'd just continue with his old system so all we're doing right now is just wasted effort anyway.” Yoongi snaps as Seungkwan finally looks up.

 

“Yoongi-sshi, how many potions did we sell yesterday?”

 

“What? What does that matter—”

 

“Just answer the question, Yoongi-sshi.”

 

“Fuck if I know. Five? I know five people came in yesterday.”

 

“Actually, we only sold one potion yesterday.” Seungkwan taps his pencil onto a part of his clipboard, “pain relief, to an old troll. Then the rest were mostly concealment charms. Five of them. And a fae asked for a luck charm to be sent via corgi. Pretty busy this season with everyone on high alert because of the poachers.”

 

Yoongi's mouth shuts so fast his teeth click together.

 

“Yep.” Seungkwan’s eyebrow is raised now, and wow. Since when had the vodník gotten so cocky? “If you can’t tell me right now what we sold after one day, how are you going to keep track during however long before Jin is ready to come back and manage the store? And I don’t mean just us finding him and getting him back. Even if we do manage to do that like, within an hour, I think it’d probably be good for him to take a bit of a break. Maybe a week? That's a week’s worth of sales that isn't being managed. And if we don’t do this now, he’s going to have to do it on his own once he comes back.”

 

“I—” but then the air deflates from Yoongi's lungs with a whoosh, and he slumps a little. “Sorry. I'm just… I feel so fucking helpless. Jin’s in trouble. I should be… out there, looking for him. Yeah, you're right, this isn't useless but…”

 

Yoongi looks down, eyes hooded and pained, “I feel like I'm not doing anything at all. I'm a fucking demon and I'm more than capable of hunting down those poachers. But here I am, sitting on my ass, while Jin is out there, a hole in his leg, captured by monsters who are probably torturing him so they can get to me.”

 

Seungkwan stares at Yoongi for a moment before he makes an odd sucking sort of noise. Yoongi looks back up, confused. “I'm terrible at this consoling and advice thing. Why am I the one doing this?”

 

Yoongi's hackles rise without him really knowing why. “Well, if you don't want to be here, then you can—”

 

“Hush.” Yoongi's eyes widen as a finger gets pressed to his lips. And he's so stunned by the action that he allows it. “I'm thinking.”

 

It's probably a hilarious minute before Seungkwan starts again. “Look. I'm not very sure about the mechanics of how the shop works, but Jisoo told me something like it's basically holding a big bulk of yours and Jin’s power here, and it'd be disastrous if the shop gets attacked or destroyed.”

 

“Er—” and Yoongi realizes he's supposed to speak now. He reaches up, pushing away Seungkwan's finger — the digit still in front of his lips. “Yeesh. Put that down. Yeah. You're right. Sorta. That's the simplified version of it at least.”

 

“Mmm… also, I saw our stalkers on the way in this morning.” Seungkwan taps the new addition to the woven bracelet on his arm — a silver charm in the shape of an eye. “They're very vigilant. It seems like the same people who were on watch since I left last night.”

 

And if Yoongi were in his cat form, his ears would have flattened against his head. He grimaces, “you're going to lecture me that I forgot that my actual job staying here is to protect the shop.”

 

“Thank Bereginia. I thought I was going to have to maintain this wise persona for longer.” Seungkwan sighs dramatically.

 

“That was a wise persona—?”

 

“But, anyway. What I was saying, what you're doing here to make sure something important to Jin stays safe. And all this…” Seungkwan gestures at the cupboards and drawers around them and then back at the clipboard. “This is just useful distraction so you don't destroy another drawer.”

 

There are sharp words on the edge of Yoongi's tongue right now — a reflex borne of years being backed into a corner, vision tunnelling until the only thing you'd know is lashing out in order to protect yourself. And right now? Yoongi thinks he's never felt more cornered in his life.

 

It's a bad habit he's never really gotten rid of, even if only because Seokjin has been there beside him all these two hundred years, to knock him out of it whenever it gets too annoying. Physically even, sometimes.

 

Most of the time.

 

Somewhere behind where Yoongi and Seungkwan are sitting, there's a loud crash.

 

Both of them jump. And Yoongi is up on his feet within seconds, rushing over. He hears Seungkwan yelping behind him, too spooked and startled to even begin following. But the possibilities both run in their heads — an intruder? A poacher? Did someone manage to sneak past the barriers? Were they under attack? Were they—

 

A jar. It's just a jar. A jar fallen off the shelf, shattered on the ground.

 

Which is a little odd to Yoongi at first. But then he remembers Seokjin saying something about needing to renew the protection charms on some of the shelves in the storeroom, and, yep. The charms on this shelf are a little worn down — worn down enough that this jar must have slipped through the parts where the charm had started to fray.

 

“Yoongi-sshi?” Seungkwan calls out, sounding a little terrified, which is a little more of the character that Yoongi is used to.

 

“It's just a jar.” Yoongi calls back with a soft sigh, bending down to shift through the pieces. “Fell off the shelf.”

 

“A jar?” And there's cautious shuffling now. Yoongi lets himself snort a little. “What sort of jar?”

 

“Just a jar? It was holding…” and Yoongi looks down at the white bulbs scattered between the shards of glass. “...narcissus.”

 

Paperwhites, to be exact. Narcissus papyraceus. Used commonly in purification charms, and in all sorts of poultices due to its astringent properties.

 

It's Seokjin's birth flower.

 

Yoongi has always joked about how fitting it is, since Seokjin is such a narcissist. But, more than that, Yoongi also thinks that paperwhites have always fit Seokjin — a flower commonly forced to bloom in conditions not natural to its growth. And Seokjin… Seokjin always blooms if you need him to.

 

Yoongi takes in a deep breath as he kneels onto the ground, ignoring the sound of confusion behind him. Then, he closes his eyes, placing on palm flat on the ground in front of him.

 

And just like that, Yoongi feels Seokjin.

 

It's the shop. Or rather the energy that Seokjin has placed into the shop. It's in every brick, every grain of wood, every nail, even the plaster on the walls; sunk into the very foundations of the shop. It breathes, the energy pulsing like a heartbeat, almost like the brick and mortar building is alive.

 

And in a sense, it is.

 

“Yoongi-sshi? Are you… okay?”

 

Seungkwan again. That silly vodník. But Yoongi doesn't scold him this time. Instead, he lifts up the hand that had been on the ground, reaches out, and touches one of the glass shards.

 

Blood beads out of the sudden cut, curling down the jagged glass, splashing onto the ground.

 

And then, the pieces begin to shudder and shake.

 

Seungkwan watches in amazement as the jar begins to piece itself back together, watching as time seems to reverse itself, until what is left is a seemingly innocuous jar, a pile of white flowers stuffed inside, almost gleaming in the dim light.

 

“Wow,” Seungkwan says when he finally remembers how to speak again. “Didn't know that demons could do that.”

 

“We can't.” Is Yoongi's short answer, “I can't either. It wasn't me, it was Jin.”

 

A pause. “What?”

 

“Or the shop, if you want to be specific.” But to Yoongi, there really isn't much of a difference. “The shop is as much Jin as Jin is himself.”

 

And he can still feel Seungkwan's confusion, thick and murky, the vodník unable to understand what Yoongi had just said. But it's fine, really. Seungkwan doesn't need to; it’d be better if he doesn't. Because Seokjin and Yoongi have never really explained exactly why it's so dangerous to leave the shop unattended.

 

Because it's not like the shop can be destroyed, really. Anyone who tries probably would kill themselves in the process without even causing a dent, the magic in the shop set in a ritual so old that the earth itself would rebel to keep it safe. But, but.

 

You shouldn't kill a witch. Anyone who’s anyone should know that. The curses you could set off, that might follow you down generations aren't worth the trouble, even if you succeed.

 

You shouldn't kill a witch, no. But what if you could get a witch to do your bidding?

 

The shop is as much Seokjin, as Seokjin is himself.

 

And not many people know how, because that knowledge has been hidden, a dedicated mission of Seokjin's teacher once actually, to ensure that such a dangerous thing is entrusted in the hands of the right people, but not destroyed completely because such knowledge exists for a reason. But there are beings who possibly could; beings whom Seokjin has angered before in his long life, who would take full advantage of the shop being undefended, going in, and then—

 

“Mmm… you're right, Seungkwan.” Yoongi says after a while.

 

“I am?” Seungkwan blinks owlishly at Yoongi before he coughs. “Yes, I mean. Of course I am. So, right, back to inventory?”

 

“Well,” and Yoongi picks up the jar, rolling it between his hands a bit. “You, are going to do inventory. But I,” and he places the jar back on the shelf, “am going to find a nice place to lie down.”

 

Seungkwan blinks in surprise, still clutching onto his clipboard as he stares at Yoongi stretching, making his way to leave. “Er— wait. Is that code for ‘I'm going to mope’? I'm not supposed to let you mope.”

 

“Ah, no. I'm not going to mope.” And Yoongi glances over at the jar of narcissus bulbs again. “You were right. My job staying here is to protect the shop. So that's what I'm going to do.”

 

“Oh.” And Seungkwan looks a little relieved now. “Are you going to find some spot to keep watch or something?”

 

“What?” And Yoongi blinks, “no. Why would I do that?”

 

Seungkwan blinks back, equally confused. “If you're not doing that, and you're not going to mope. Then what are you going to do?”

 

“What I always do of course.” Yoongi answers with a smile. In the language of flowers, the narcissus can mean many things: prosperity, wealth, a growing ego. But the paperwhite in December, given to a lover, is a wish for a person to never change.

 

“I'm going to find a nice spot to take a nap.”

 

~*~

 

- Today, 3.31pm -

Jisoo (3rd littlest Lee brat): oppa, come to the screen. i scryed them

 

~*~

 

“What took you so long?”

 

But before Yoongi could answer, Seungkwan plonks what looks like a lunch box onto the table. “He was napping. On the fucking roof. Didn't bring his phone with him so I had to go climb up and get him. This fucking cat is going to give me an aneurysm. Eat your lunch before it gets cold. Again.”

 

There's a slight pause as both he and Jae watch Seungkwan stomp out of the room. Jae still with some confusion, and Yoongi with much amusement.

 

“O...kay…” Jae says after a moment before shifting his gaze to Yoongi. “So, you got Jisoo’s text.”

 

The amusement wipes of Yoongi's face, and he turns back to face the screen, a dark gleam in his eyes — a promise of the hell he'd wreck on the ones who'd taken his beloved away. “Yeah. I did. Let's get to work then.”

 

~*~

 

Honestly, at the point, Seokjin just wishes they would let him count in peace.

 

It's been four days since the ambush that had gotten both him and Jeongguk captured; four days since Jeongguk had been chained up with silver chains so tight he could barely wriggle, and Seokjin had woken up to a bullet buried in his calf, a blinding headache searing in his head and a threat from an ugly, sneering face.

 

“So you're the fucking witch that gave my men so much trouble, huh? You're prettier than I thought.”

 

As if being pretty is some kind of insult or something.

 

Four days, going on five, of honestly shit conditions. Seokjin has barely slept, his leg aches something fierce, his muscle cramps have spread all the way down to the marrow of his bones, and he’s pretty sure that he has some kind of infection fever on top of all of it. And really, all he wants to do is call Yoongi, get him to kick the asses of anyone and everyone who’d even caused Seokjin the littlest bit of discomfort, go home, sleep for eternity, and maybe cuddle and kiss Yoongi until he’s sick of the affection.

 

Which is probably never so, cuddling and kissing Yoongi for eternity it is.

 

But that is precisely the very thing Seokjin is resolutely avoiding to do right now.

 

“So, we were expecting your familiar to show up to answer the SOS, rather than you. You showing up threw a bit of a wrench in our plans. But I suppose, all isn’t lost.”

 

“You want me to summon my familiar here.” Because what use is it to beat around the bush? “So you can kill him and sell him for parts.”

 

“Yeah. Pretty much.” And there's the sounds of chains clinking behind, probably Jeongguk shifting in alarm. “Will you do it?”

 

And Seokjin isn’t quite sure if he’s nauseous from the combination of the cocktail of knock-out drugs still swimming around in his system and the twinging pain from his leg, or from the sight of almost sleazy expression of the guy’s face.

 

He has to remind himself, for maybe the thousandth time that day, that he had to hang on. If not for Yoongi, then at least himself. Because, if the poachers get their hands on Yoongi, then Seokjin would have outlived his usefulness and he would be dead. Actually, that would be a mercy. The worse option would be if they somehow know how the shop could be used against Seokjin, and without Yoongi there to guard the shop…

 

Yeah, Seokjin would rather die than be made to dance like a puppet to the commands of monsters such as these.

 

“Fuck you.”

 

The guy, who is probably the head honcho of this poacher operation, because, really, Seokjin would be insulted if he warranted anything less, sighs and shakes his head in disappointment. “I was hoping you'd be smart about this and cut short your own suffering. But I suppose, if you want to make life difficult for yourself, we'll play along until you're satisfied.”

 

And Seokjin… well, Seokjin has to ask.

 

“Really? I might be wounded right now, but what's going to stop me throwing a nasty curse at you right now?”

 

Ugly-ass head honcho poacher guy laughs, gesturing to someone standing behind him, that Seokjin hadn't dared to turn to see. “Well, other than the fact that we can make life far more painful for your little werewolf friend sitting behind you? We also prepared something special just for you.”

 

“Special delivery~”

 

And Seokjin's soft groan is drowned out by the surprisingly loud racket of a noise that is the clatter of black beans being dumped onto a concrete floor.

 

The poacher’s laugh is almost as ugly as the aura about him, murder clinging to his soul like grime. And Seokjin tries not to glower as the poacher makes his way out. He knows he doesn't quite succeed when the poacher gleefully kicks a few rows of the piles that Seokjin has already neatly arranged. Seokjin is going to have to recount those.

 

Fuck.

 

“I really wish they would just let me count in peace.” Seokjin says to the air once the poacher has left. “There's enough here to keep me counting for ten days and then some. The least they could do is wait for me to finish counting before giving me more. Fucking rude.”

 

“Or maybe, you should just, you know, stop fucking counting?”

 

Seokjin sucks in a deep breath, counts to three. “I've already told you I can't, Jeongguk.”

 

“Yeah.” And Seokjin can tell that Jeongguk is practical grinding his teeth as he spits this out. “I know what you've told me. And it's total bullshit you know. ‘Witches are compelled to count beans thrown in front of them’? Seriously?”

 

“Look, I don't know what else to tell you, Jeongguk. It's true. It's worse than OCD. I don't know what causes it, alright? Genetics, or maybe it's some kind of weird part of some clause the first witch agreed to when they made a contract for power that carried onto all witches from then on. I don't know.”

 

“You don't know a lot of things.” Jeongguk's voice is tight, and Seokjin can already imagine that he's going to have to brace himself for the mean words that are going to pour out from Jeongguk's mouth. “I can't believe this really. Supposedly the most famous and powerful witch in Korea, and brought down to his knees by some fucking beans.”

 

Seokjin closes his eyes.

 

He tells himself that Jeongguk is just snappy because he's young, probably scared, and doesn't know any better. He should just take a deep breath, and maybe say something to calm this tense situation down.

 

What he says instead is. “Fuck you. You're the one who didn't check if the message you got from Daniel was the real deal or not, so technically, you're the real reason why we're in this fucking mess right now.”

 

Normally, Jeongguk probably would flush at that and apologize. The Jeongguk now just rears defensively in return. “I was in a panic, hyung! That message sounded urgent. And you didn't check if the message was legit either!”

 

“Yeah, because you didn't tell me you came from school and hadn't been at the house! You normally don't have school on Fridays!”

 

“I had a project! And Hyejung-noona was at the shop, and Jisoo-noona has school, so I wouldn't have been able to ask them even if I were at home!”

 

“Well, that you should have told me that! I'm a witch, not a mindreader!”

 

“I thought you were all old and experienced and shit and would have figured I was too panicked to think straight? Or maybe you've grown so old that you're starting to get all potty and shit.”

 

“Excuse me, I am not old. I'm—”

 

And whatever Seokjin had been going to say is lost in a sudden wave of nausea that grips him. By the time the world stops spinning, and Seokjin's stomach isn't trying to cave in on himself, he finds himself flat out on the floor, beans stuck to his face and ugh. At least the floor is kind of cooling. Maybe he should just stay lying down.

 

Or not. Because he can feel a gaze upon him, and the worry and guilt is almost suffocating. And so after a while, he picks himself up, careful not to jostle his leg, and turns to look at Jeongguk with what he hopes is a reassuring expression, “I'm alright.”

 

Maybe he shouldn't have turned to face Jeongguk, because what the werewolf says in reply is, “hyung. Your eyes are bloodshot and tired, and you look like when Jae used to have those stupid tantrums and refused to drink animal blood. You're the furthest from alright right now.”

 

“Yeah. Sure.” Seokjin sighs, lifting a hand to rub his face. “Thanks for telling me I look ugly, Gukkie.”

 

Jeongguk gives Seokjin a look like he doesn't quite know whether to laugh or look offended by that. “I'm not kidding, hyung.”

 

“I know, but I am.” Seokjin picks off a couple beans from his arm, where'd they'd stuck to the skin when he'd fallen over. Fuck. The urge to count is coming back. “None of this is your fault, Jeongguk.”

 

Now, Jeongguk looks offended. “You literally just said it was my fault in the first place.”

 

“I know what I said,” Seokjin sighs. “I didn't mean it. I mean, yes, maybe you should have been more careful. But it was an honest mistake that I didn't catch either. So this is as much on me as it is on you. I'm sorry I lashed out earlier. But it's not your fault. Nor is it my fault. It's the fault of the poachers and no one else.”

 

Jeongguk takes in a deep breath before he sighs. “Yeah. I— I suppose. And… I'm sorry. Hyung. For yelling at you, and giving you shit about the bean counting thing.”

 

“You should be,” and yet there's a smile on Seokjin's face. “But apology accepted. I'd go over and give you a hug, but you know how well that went down the last time.”

 

Jeongguk winces a little. The bruises he has from that time still ache. And Seokjin’s arm still has the distinct, purpling print of a hand where it’d curled around too tight and yanked. “Yeah. Assholes.”

 

“To be fair, they probably thought I was trying to free you or something. Not that you'd get far even if I did. This feels like a big outfit. Bigger than all of us thought. Not sure if you noticed, but we've not had the same guard since the first day they've kept us. Probably making sure there's no habit formation, so we can't pick a hole in their security to escape. But it means they have more than enough people to shuffle around to do that.”

 

Jeongguk goes quiet at that. He'd probably noticed, but hadn't thought much about the implications. And fuck, Seokjin probably shouldn't have brought that up because the fear has crept back into Jeongguk’s face again. “Hyung… what do you think will happen to us?”

 

“...Huh?”

 

“I mean…” and Jeongguk lowers his voice. “It's… looking pretty bleak for us. Do you think… we'll be okay?”

 

And Seokjin doesn't answer for a long, long while, but it's not because he doesn't know how to answer. It's because he's distracted.

 

Because there's literally a bean slowly shifting across the floor right now.

 

To anyone else, it might have been coincidence or something. Seokjin could have accidentally moved it with a subtle movement, with the amount of beans piled up around him. But somehow, Seokjin doesn't think that it is.

 

Quietly, he begins to shift the beans around as if starting to count again. But discreetly, he uses his nails to make a couple of scratchings on the floor as he does. An O, and X, and a line. And then, he places a bean right in the middle of the line.

 

He looks away for a few moments, because if he's looking, there's a chance the poachers watching them might look at where his eyeline is going and see. But then, he hears the softest clatter of a bean tumbling and has to lower his head again, to hide his growing smile.

 

‘Atta boy, Taehyung.’  Seokjin thinks, even as he waits a little longer before glancing at the markings he made. The medium must have found a spirit to work with. And oh, whatever Taehyung had promised this spirit in return for their help, Seokjin is going to do his utmost best to provide if they all make it out of this alive.

 

“Hyung? Shit. Did you get stuck counting again?”

 

And Seokjin apologizes to Jeongguk in his head. Because, unfortunately, he won't be able to tell the werewolf anything, as much as he wishes he could. Jeongguk’s method of keeping secrets tends to be keeping his mouth shut out of sheer stubbornness. And while that might work for being interrogated on whether he and Jisoo had snuck their greens over to Haru, it would only result in torture if the poachers had any inkling that Jeongguk had information about an escape plan.

 

And Jeongguk, for all his talents, is really shit at lying. So if he knew anything concrete, it was going to show all over his face.

 

So, Seokjin does the lying instead. “Huh? What? Oh yeah. Sorry.” And he grimaces like his life depends on it. “The urge got really loud again. What did you say?”

 

And Jeongguk sighs, chains clinking again as he shifts. “I was just… wondering. What’s going to happen to us?’

 

And Seokjin pauses again, because it's going to be risky and hell of a ride, but he knows they're both going to be okay — because he trusts his friends, and because he glances at the markings he's made now and the way the bean is sitting neatly on top of the small circle like a shining beacon of hope. But all he says is, “I don't know, Guk. I honestly don't know.”

 

He'll probably treat Jeongguk to a huge meal after this. To apologize. Lamb skewers, maybe a new PC, anything the werewolf wants. For now, he just quietly continues counting the beans, trying not to smile as he realizes he can send different messages now.

 

He gets straight to work.

 

~*~

 

“You know, it'd probably be easier if we got Taehyung involved in communicating with… what was the spirit's name? Kyuhyun? Yes. Kyuhyun. It’d be easier if Taehyung was involved with talking with Kyuhyun than deal with all this guesswork.”

 

Daniel frowns at Yoongi as he looks up from the paperworks he's flipping through. Orders for supplies for the upcoming mission. Yoongi had had to ask the witches of Cheonju and Busan in order to fill them. Luckily, they owe Seokjin far more favors than the other way around. “You know, you're the second person to tell me that today.”

 

“Oh?” Yoongi raises an eyebrow as he moves yet another box onto the pile waiting in the middle of Seokjin's workshop. They're filled with charms and potions and whatever Yoongi can think of that might be able to help the hunters in their planned fight against the poachers. They're all old stock of course, but better than nothing. “Who was the first? Hoseokkie?”

 

“No, Hyejung actually.” Daniel taps at a line on the paper he's staring at before circling something. “She said I was coddling him.”

 

“And what did you reply?”

 

“I said that of course I was coddling him. He's Jeongguk’s boyfriend for fuck sakes. I already don't like it that Jeongguk’s as involved as he is, let alone his boyfriend too. They're all too young for this shit.”

 

“Daniel, Seokjin met you on one of your first few solo hunting trips when you were younger than Jeongguk even.” Yoongi scoffs, pausing to lean against the boxes, arms akimbo.

 

“Did you and Hyejung sync brains or something? That's exactly the same thing she said.” Daniel pauses, “well. Not exactly. But close enough.”

 

“Did she also say you were being ridiculous, and that you’re letting your ridiculous notions hamper you have a more efficient and effective mission?”

 

“What the fuck? You two really synced brains, didn't you?”

 

“No,” Yoongi replies in the most deadpan expression he can muster — in other words, one of the most deadpan expressions in the world. “We're just stating the obvious.”

 

Daniel sighs, finally putting the papers in his hands down. “Alright fine, sue me. I just want to protect them for a while longer, alright? Taehyung is still young. He has a lot to look forward to without worrying about all this.”

 

“As if he isn't worrying about this on his own already.” Yoongi snorts, tapping his finger on his thigh. “Is it because he has exams?”

 

Daniel looks up at Yoongi, a blank look on his face to show that he has no clue about what Yoongi is talking about, and the familiar rolls his eyes. “You're hopeless.”

 

“Yah.” Daniel huffs, folding his arms. “I'm just… Trying to look out for him, alright? Keep him out of trouble as much as I can. It's already bad enough that I have no choice but to let him participate on the day itself. But unfortunately, we need him to communicate with Kyuhyun.”

 

“At this point, if he's already participating on the day itself, why can't we let him participate before? It's not like it makes it any more dangerous.”

 

Daniel takes in a deep breath before he throws up his arms. “It's not an entirely baseless decision, alright? It's risky to keep moving the ring so that Kyuhyun can talk with Taehyung. And I originally thought maybe Kyuhyun could be used to scout the base. But after Jin did his whatever upgrade to whatever spell he used so that we can scry into the base, Jisoo can more or less see the entire base now, so there's no real need. But sure, I'm just an overprotective fuck who would like two young men to retain as much normalcy as possible. We'll go with that.”

 

“Good of you to admit it.” Yoongi's reply is solemn. “Admitting that there is a problem is always the first step to change.”

 

Yoongi cackles far too loudly at the finger Daniel gives him, even as he pulls out his phone, feeling it vibrate in his pocket.

 

“Oh. Speaking of messages, apparently Jin sent a new one,” and Yoongi squints at the images Jisoo had sent him over the phone. “I… oh.”

 

The messages Jin had been sending over the past few days had been snippets of information that Jin had managed to gleam despite all the bean counting he'd been made to do. Descriptions of who appeared to be the leader of the poacher ring, the number of hunters Jin had counted so far, the equipment that the poachers seemed to have.

 

Daniel is waiting, even if he's picked up the paperwork again to continue analyzing them. But after a moment he looks up when the pause gets too long. “Well? What does it say?”

 

It takes Daniel a few moments to realize Yoongi's face is unusually red. And he squints at Yoongi before asking again.

 

“I— it's a private message. You don't need to know. Heck, I don't think you want to know.”

 

“Try me.” Daniel folds his arms, “what? Did he send you some kind of blackmail or something? Like ‘I remember when before you were toilet trained, you'd get pee and poop everywhere’ or something like that?”

 

“What the fuck? No?” Yoongi's voice is pitching unnaturally a little. “Why the fuck… No! The message just says that he misses me and he loves me.”

 

And now, Daniel stares.

 

And stares.

 

And, fuck, Yoongi's beginning to get unnerved. “What?”

 

“No, I just. Forgot that was a thing.” Daniel rubs his face, expression a little pained.

 

“It was all Hyejung and Jisoo would talk about the day Jeongguk came in and found out we were fucking.” Yoongi points out, “that was barely more than a week ago.”

 

And Yoongi expects Daniel to groan, maybe make a little fun. Because Yoongi isn't that sensitive, and he can take a bit of teasing on that front. What happens instead, is Daniel’s expression hardening, grip on the papers in his hand tightening.

 

“Doesn't that mean, the poachers took Jeongguk and Jin like… two days after the two of you finally admitted you like each other?”

 

Yoongi blinks.

 

“Erm.” He says after a moment of unusually tense silence. “Ye-yeah? I suppose. I— wait. What do you ‘finally'?”

 

But Daniel doesn't answer, instead turning to look at back the paperwork in his hands, so intensely that Yoongi is a little afraid Daniel might actually burn a hole into it. “We'll get them back.”

 

Yoongi blinks again. “Yes? That's… the plan?”

 

“Uhuh.” And Daniel doesn't look up from then on, “but I'm promising you right now. We'll get them both back.”

 

It's only later that Yoongi figures what had gotten Daniel so fired up. He'd forgotten most humans don't realize how the universe tends to love to fuck up people with power, and so had taken the Jin getting captured in two days right after they got together after an eternity thing as just another instance of the universe fucking him up and had taken it all in stride. But he supposes it's kind of sweet that someone is angry at the universe on his behalf at the unfairness of it all, and is channeling that anger into working to undo that wrong.

 

Yoongi has always had the opinion that humans were silly most of the time. But it doesn't stop him from feeling a warm, fuzzy feeling in his stomach whenever he thinks about the love and concern extended to him by the Lee Clan hunters.

 

Almost as warm and fuzzy as whenever he thinks about how he's going to able to rend the poachers who had taken Seokjin from him limb by limb in three days.

 

Just three more days until he can see Seokjin again.

 

“Wait for me.” He says quietly to his phone that night, lying on their bed as he stares at the images Jisoo had sent him just that afternoon. Stares at the code, the combination of dots that form the three words Yoongi doesn't say all too much to Seokjin, but wishes he had said more. “I'll be coming for you soon.”

 

Just three more days.

 

Chapter Text

Seokjin wakes up to the sound of something being dragged into the room.

 

He opens his eyes and sees the most people he's seen in a week. There's four of them, lugging a huge heavy table; and then, two more lugging cases in. The door is being held open by even more cases, all heavy looking with the smell of death and blood wafting from them.

 

It's still too early. Far too early. It feels maybe about a quarter past eight in the morning. And already, they're starting the preparations for Jeongguk's execution.

 

Jeongguk is awake now, having been jerked out of sleep by the same sounds that Seokjin had been. Seokjin is pretty sure that the transformation has barely begun, and yet, Jeongguk looks ill, as if he's just a couple of hours before the transformation would start, save for the lack of warning yellow in his eyes.

 

Some of it probably is the lack of food and water, the poachers seeing no sense in giving a prisoner they intend to kill more than what he’d needed to survive. The rest of it is mostly a growing sense of dread, watching the poachers open the first two cases and taking out boxes and boxes of what looks like bullets, and then a large jar filled with an amber liquid that both Seokjin and Jeongguk are all too familiar with.

 

Seokjin barely restrains the growl that grows from his belly, rising in anger. The fuckers just want to cause Jeongguk necessary fear by making the wolfsbane bullets right in front of him.

 

Unfortunately, he must have been unsuccessful, because the next thing he knows, one of the poachers is saying, “get another bucket of beans. Don't want the witch to get any ideas.”

 

Jeongguk is still watching the poachers unpack yet more bullets, his eyes wide and all too watery. And Seokjin wishes he could go over, pull Jeongguk into a tight hug, cover his eyes from the horror and pretend object permanence isn't a thing.

 

But he can't. Because the moment he goes over, the poachers would pull him off and give Jeongguk yet another unnecessary beating. And so, all he can really do is try to catch Jeongguk's eye and try to telepathically communicate that the both of them will be alright.

 

Staring at Jeongguk's fear-filled eyes, Seokjin thinks that he doesn't quite succeed.

 

~*~

 

Thirty minutes. They have thirty minutes until sundown. So now, it's time to move.

 

"We've got thirty minutes until sundown," Daniel says exactly what Yoongi is thinking. "Let's get moving."

 

It's a welcome change after being wedged in the back of a car, stuffed in between a nervous Taehyung and a sun-proofed burrito Jae for the better part of an hour, waiting for the right moment to start moving. But then, the entire day has been a plethora of waiting really: waiting for the other group of hunters Daniel and Hoseok had contacted to travel in from their other jobs, waiting for the last of the supplies to be delivered, waiting for final confirmation of the numbers the Jung Coven would be sending, waiting to move out from headquarters, waiting, checking the equipment while waiting, waiting for Taehyung to get in once things were more settled, waiting, more waiting, so much waiting.

 

Yeah, Yoongi is pretty much done with waiting at this point.

 

“Well, about time.” Yoongi grumbles under his breath, and he can feel Jae’s gaze shift to look over to him, a flare of amusement in the vampire’s eyes. Well, Yoongi was glad someone was enjoying his discomfort, because he certainly isn't.

 

Mostly, he will admit it's uneasiness from being outside the shop right now with no one but a glamoured up Seungkwan to protect it. Sure, there are two hunters they trust watching the poachers staking the shop out, but. Still.

 

Yoongi wouldn't have minded it so much if it had been Jae. But they need Jae here, even if only to soothe the all too jumpy nerves of the Jung Coven, who’s supposed to join them once the sun had set. They'd expressed many, many times that even if Jae is pretty much a hunter in everything but the physical, it is a better assurance than having none at all. And fuck them, because now Jae can't be his body double as they'd originally planned and they have to go with Seungkwan. Yoongi has nothing against the vodník really, but—

 

It's Seungkwan.

 

Seungkwan would probably squeak and fall ass over tea kettle if the poachers busted in. And that would wreck serious havoc on his reputation.

 

“So, the final plan is that the other hunter group will cause a distraction once everyone's in position,” Hoseok says, pulling Yoongi out of his inner monologue. “We'll still try to be quiet. Sneak in and maybe jump a few poachers from behind. I'll lead the charge, check that there's no seals put up to trap Yoongi-hyung. Yoongi will cover my ass,” and Yoongi nods here.

 

“And Jae and Daniel-hyung will take up the rear until we get to the part where we have to split up. Taehyung. Just stick close behind me, alright?”

 

"Got it." Surprisingly Taehyung's voice is steady. Surprising, because it really looks like Taehyung is dying of panic inside. Yoongi wonders if he's regretting asking to come along.

 

Yoongi watched as Daniel claspes Hoseok's shoulder in a silent 'be careful' before pulling back, even though they had wished each other good luck well before getting into the car and heading out. And Yoongi can't help but think if Seokjin were here, he'd be fussing over everyone, casting last minute protection spells, and giving everyone warm hugs and kisses and just… being Seokjin.

 

Yoongi closes his eyes and promises himself, again, that he would get Seokjin back.

 

Then everyone is moving, and he waits until everyone is out before sliding through the shadows, easing out of the car in the blink of an eye.

 

The evening air was warm and muggy. Only the last few rays of sun reached them, long shadows cast across the street. Taehyung had moved to Hoseok's side as they set off towards the edge of the yard, trailing two steps behind the hunter. Daniel had gone off in a separate route even though they would end up at the same place. And Jae had gone with him, even if he's currently unseen, having blended seamlessly into the growing darkness, moving in the way only vampires could.

 

Yoongi follows after Hoseok as they had planned. He reaches the two humans as Hoseok glances at his watch again, taking in a deep breath, reaching over to give Taehyung’s wrist one last light squeeze before both his hands goes to his gun. Yoongi knows Hoseok enough to know that this means that it's almost time.

 

He's wrapped in the shadows just a few steps away, and he closes his eyes as he begins to count the seconds down.

 

Five… four… three… two… boom.

 

And there, an explosion at the other end of the warehouse.

 

And Yoongi's lips curl up into a smirk.

 

No more waiting. It’s time to finally fucking move.

 

~*~

 

Jeongguk smells terrified.

 

Or rather, Seokjin can sense how terrified he is. The fear is radiating off his body in waves, and the pain he's in, so close to the transformation, doesn't help. Neither do the silver chains, wrapped even tighter around his body now, nor the copious amount of wolfsbane every single one of the five poachers are carrying. And honestly, Jeongguk has every right to feel afraid, but Seokjin really wishes he wouldn't. Seokjin's already weak and tired and nauseous after a week with a festering wound and little sleep. The fear is only adding to the growing weakness in his body.

 

And fuck the poachers. They’re all too cheery, talking amongst themselves as they prepare for the task at hand. But Seokjin supposes, in a morbid sort of way, he can sort of understand it. Their werewolf captive wouldn't be alive for much longer past the full moon. And then it would just be the witch and his elusive demon left to deal with, but with one of the two taken care of they'd have their full resources free to move about as they pleased.

 

Less fuss, less stress.

 

"...Jin?" And Seokjin looks up at the soft voice calling his name. There really is only one person that can be, and…

 

Fuck. Jeongguk looks wrecked. He's limp against the silver chains, twitching despite their tight hold on him, mostly because he can't control the way his muscles are spasming with every other breath, barely being able to keep the low groans of pain from escaping the back of his throat. And his head lolls forward as if he can barely keep it up, sweaty bangs casting shadows against his face.

 

"I'm sorry I always gave you so much trouble."

 

Jeongguk's voice is hoarse and barely audible, more of an exhale than a word. And even though Seokjin is half wedged into a corner, having crawled as close to Jeongguk as he’d possibly could, he could still barely hear him. Not surprising since, again, the poachers had barely given him any water let alone food — just enough to keep him alive. What Seokjin is more surprised with is the fact that the poachers hadn't pulled him away yet. But maybe it’s carelessness and seeing the both of them so weak against their superior numbers that’s giving them a sense of security.

 

As it is, Seokjin is close enough that he can whisper back quietly without the poachers noticing, still quietly counting the beans scattered around him. “What are you sorry for, Guk-ah? Thought the trouble was just part of your charming personality?”

 

That earns a soft huff of a laugh. "Maybe. But I'm sorry anyways." Jeongguk lifts his head, dark brown eyes gone fully yellow, but he doesn't look over at Seokjin, even as he says, "I wanted to say it while I still have the chance."

 

There's an odd tone to Jeongguk's voice that Seokjin doesn't quite understand. And he follows Jeongguk's gaze to where the poachers are preparing a table full of silver blades in all shapes and sizes. They’d finally opened up the last two cases they'd brought in from the morning, and the reveal of their contents hadn't done much for neither Seokjin's nor Jeongguk's nerves. And—

 

Oh.

 

That tone. It's Jeongguk speaking as if this is the last chance he will ever be able to tell Seokjin those words of apology. Of course he’d think that. Seokjin hadn't told him about the messages in the beans, about the spirit Taehyung had sent. Of course he believes he's going to die.

 

Seokjin isn't normally this much of an idiot. But like Jeongguk, he hasn't had much food and rest either. So he thinks he can be given a little leeway this time.

 

But now, guilt joins the foray of bad feelings plaguing Seokjin. “Don't talk like that… you'll have plenty of chances still, alright?”

 

"Yeah. Right." Jeongguk's tone doesn't change. He doesn't really believe Seokjin, and why would he? "At least my boyfriend's a medium. I really lucked out there, wasn't expecting the last time we spoke to be mostly arguing over video games."

 

Seokjin has to resist the urge to slap Jeongguk. It really isn't his fault for thinking so pessimistically after all. So instead, Seokjin glances over at the poachers, before he reaches out as unobtrusively as he could, seeking Jeongguk’s hand, just left free from the silver chains. “Hey. You believe hyung right? Then believe me when I say everything is going to be okay.”

 

Jeongguk's eyes lift off the blades to land on Seokjin's face. His throat works, gaze desperately searching for the truth in Seokjin’s eyes. And Seokjin doesn't know if he finds it in the end, but slowly, clammy, shaking fingers curl around Seokjin's in return.

 

And for a moment, things are okay.

 

And then, it isn't.

 

Footsteps getting closer is their only warning before Seokjin is seized by the back of the collar and dragged through the pile of beans out of arm’s reach. And all Seokjin can do really, is to tug at the front of his collar to stop himself from choking. "That's enough of that."

 

There's a snarl when Seokjin is pulled off Jeongguk, but it cuts off with a sick-sounding whimper. Seokjin has a second to think that the one who had snarled is probably Jeongguk, and why he stops is probably because of a sudden close proximity to wolfsbane. And Seokjin might not be a werewolf. But, honestly? The amount the hunter is carrying on him is definitely overkill, and maybe even slightly detrimental to him in the long run but hey, Seokjin isn't some saint. If the poachers aren't aware they might have respiratory problems in the future, then too bad for them. Seokjin isn't going say anything. And honestly, it’d be a waste of breath, because if things go the way Seokjin plans, then these poachers would lucky to live long enough to have such health problems—

 

Ow. Fuck.

 

“Seriously,” and Seokjin clutches at his head where it had hit the ground when he’d been thrown. And for a moment, annoyance overrides the sense of any self-preservation.  “Would it kill you guys to have a little manner—ah!”

 

Seokjin would tell you how unsurprised he is that the poacher would resort violence yet again, but he's a little busy trying not to die in pain as a foot comes down onto his leg, boot grinding against the wound in his calf, “‘Seriously’ getting tired of your lip.”

 

Somewhere, Jeongguk, Hecate bless his heart, is grinding out some kind of labored instruction to leave Seokjin alone. But he's not too sure; there's some sort of ringing in his ears that's interfering with his hearing. Probably a subset of the intense white pain flaring from his leg.

 

Boom.

 

And it takes Seokjin a moment to realize that the loud noise, the ground shaking under him and his vision flickering isn't from the pain in his leg, but from an external source that everyone is feeling. But he mostly only realizes this because the foot has lifted off his leg, and euphoria floods in from the relief of pain and also the sudden realization about what this actually means.

 

Explosion. Diversion. The hunters must be here.

 

Yoongi must be here.

 

But Seokjin only has a moment to enjoy the flicker of hope and relief before a hand grabs his collar and he's pulled painfully to his knees. “Yah! Witch! What the fuck is this? You know something about this?”

 

Oh. Hecate fuck— this is fun, having the face of a very angry poacher be illuminated by a very dim overhead light like those thriller movies Yoongi had made him watch sometimes. And he can sort of hear Jeongguk wheezing nearby, probably wanting to yell at the poacher more, and Seokjin appreciates the sentiment, but he wishes the werewolf would bother a little more about his own self at this time. It's edging yet closer to sundown, and Jeongguk must be starting to feel the burning down to the marrow of his bones.

 

But still, this is kind of terrifying, and so Seokjin tries to look everywhere but horror movie wannabe, and even looking at the floor with all the beans and the compulsion to count them might be preferable at this point.

 

Which is why he notices when beans start quietly skittering away across the floor. It's unnoticed by anyone else — the poachers distracted by the explosion, and Jeongguk distracted by the poacher threatening Seokjin.

But Seokjin sees, and anyone might think it coincidence but him.

 

It isn't time yet though. He just needs to delay a little bit more. “You know,” he rasps, looking back up at the hunter. “There's something you should know. About the bean thing.”

 

The poacher’s expression only grows angrier, grip tightening around Seokjin's collar more, choking him a little. “I don't want to know fuck about beans. What was that explosion? Did you have anything to do with it?!”

 

And Seokjin gasps out a no, shaking his head. When the grip on his collar loosens a little, he says again. “Seriously, though. About the beans—”

 

Whatever Seokjin had been about to say about the beans, it’s lost under Jeongguk's scream.

 

The werewolf has gone stiff as a board, then the silver chains clatter as he starts to thrash. Another gut wrenching scream tears out of his throat and right into Seokjin's heart before bone crackles and snaps, shoulder popping out of alignment. His muscles spasm, grabbing deliriously at the chains even as his fingers start to distort and grow fur, fingernails lengthening into claws.

 

It's heartbreaking is what it is. And this is why Seokjin wouldn't visit Jeongguk on the night of a full moon. Because it's not something he can quite stand: such a brilliant young man going through so much pain.

 

"It's time," one of the other poachers is saying loudly over Jeongguk's transformation. "Watch the fucking witch, make sure he doesn't try anything."

 

And Seokjin hears, eyes sliding from Jeongguk to the beans still rolling across the floor, rolling into small cracks and crevices, being hidden out of sight until they're all mostly gone and he smiles.

 

It's time.

 

“You know.” He says, voice gravelly, to the poacher still holding onto his collar. “You should really listen about this beans thing. It's a learning point after all, since you guys don't seem to realize. It doesn't… actually stop the witch from using magic, you know?”

 

And the poacher finally pauses, fingers loosening from Seokjin’s collar further. “What?”

 

“That advice, to throw beans at a witch because they'll have to stop and count them.” Seokjin reiterates, fingers flexing a little. He can feel the magic humming in the air now — placed with careful patience, into every single bean that Seokjin had counted. And mostly, the ones he can feel tucked away near the floor boards and corner where Jeongguk is being held.

 

“You're supposed to throw the beans, and then run the fuck away.”

 

And then, there's a sort of noise like the sounds of branches being ripped off a tree, and suddenly, thick vines sprout out from the ground around Jeongguk, curling into the silver chains and tightening.

 

Seokjin smiles a little as he watches, the green sheen now fading from his eyes. But he barely has a second to gloat when his back suddenly hits the ground, and he turns to look at the livid expression of the poacher who had just dropped him, and the clicking barrel of an unloaded gun. "Fucking—"

 

The last of the beans around Seokjin shoot off in all directions as something slams into the poacher's chest, and he topples onto his ass, gun firing harmlessly at the ceiling. Well, sort of harmlessly. Seokjin's ears are ringing now, and it doesn't help the nausea he feels rising, exhaustion flooding him after using up the last bit of magic he had stored up in him. He doesn't even have the compulsion to count beans anymore, the floor is clear of beans. And while that had been the goal, it also unfortunately means that Seokjin has no external stimuli to keep him awake, so the urge to just lie down on the floor and curl up and go to sleep has never been so strong.

 

But he can't. Because things are going according to plan, which means if he goes to sleep on the floor right now, he's probably never going to wake up on account of the mostly transformed werewolf in their midst.

 

He hears the echoing clatter as the silver chains holding Jeongguk up break, falling as the mass of werewolf smacks into the ground, newly formed claws digging deep gorges into cement. And it’s the hoarse howl that sounds, shaking the warehouse walls, that finally galvanises Seokjin to start moving, even if at a slow crawl, towards the door.

 

Because there is a greater danger than the poachers in their midst now.

 

The poachers seemed to realize that as well. The pained howls have come to an end. And there's a symphony of clicks as guns are pulled out and trained on the werewolf sprawled across silver chains and vines, pieces of shirt falling away as Jeongguk's head lifts slowly.

 

There's a moment where everything sort of just, hangs in the air. Like that moment that sort of suspends whenever you throw runes into the air, where you're sort of just watching, waiting to see where everything lands.

 

Seokjin doesn't know what is going to happen for once. He's done all he's could, and they're not here yet. Why are they not here yet?

 

He can only pray to the goddess that they make it here on time.

 

Glowing yellow eyes open, gleaming in the darkness. And low snarl tears out of a long muzzle, massive fangs catching in the dim lighting.

 

Then the werewolf lunges for the poacher who'd fallen in front of him.

 

Seokjin should really be focusing on getting out the door. But it's like watching a train wreck right before your eyes, and he can't help but pause to watch as the remaining two poachers take both their shots at Jeongguk while he lunges, aimed straight at Jeongguk’s side. It's to their credit for their reactions finally kicking in where they've been messing up so far, even if Seokjin wishes they'd messed up yet another time.

 

The bullets fly. Seokjin flinches, but doesn't quite dare to close his eyes.

 

Darkness, out of the corner of Seokjin's eyes. It surges out, seemingly from thin air, like a silky midnight black cloak. And it seems to swallow up the bullets, the silver flashes eaten up by the shadow. And Seokjin's brain feels like treacle, but this he understands, and relief surges in him.

 

Because the shadow now coalesces and reforms, and Seokjin can't help the choked laugh of relief because there Yoongi stands, an all too familiar smirk on his face. The demon stares at the startled expressions of the two poachers with an all too satisfied grin as he opens up his hand.

 

There's the tiniest clinks, almost lost in the background sound of tearing flash. And the last thing Seokjin sees before his vision goes too wobbly to process anything more, are the two silver bullets rolling harmlessly on the ground.

 

“Surprise motherfuckers.”

 

~*~

 

(Just ten minutes before)

 

Yoongi had thought they were taking too long.

 

He thought they had taken far too long to even sneak up to the side of the building, their minutes and seconds chipped away by the need for stealth. He had very much wanted to barrel ahead with his powers, cutting a path through both building and bodies for the rest to follow, get to Seokjin as fast as he possibly could. But it would have been all too possible for the poachers to have set up seals meant to trap demons inside the warehouse, especially since they were anticipating Yoongi to maybe come by to save his witch. And while Yoongi is powerful enough to break out of seals nowadays, he still can't do it without Seokjin's help.

 

And well, the point of this whole exercise is to rescue Seokjin after all. It'd be really lame if Yoongi is the one needing to be rescued by Seokjin in the end.

 

So they crawl along, creeping through the fence, along the side of the warehouse, making their way to the side door that Jisoo had marked out for them as the easiest point of entry. And they didn't have to deal with too many rogue poachers thankfully — most of them had been drawn out by the commotion up front. They only bump into one actually, Yoongi easily taking care of him with how he's entirely unprepared by their appearance. But even then, Yoongi had just felt everything was slow — so, so, so slow.

 

So you could imagine his surprise when they arrive at the side door, crouching down in time to hear the start of Jeongguk's screams, and they still have to wait.

 

It takes all that Yoongi has not to just break down the door and smash his way in. He reminds himself if there's so much one bean in sight and he gets caught when he goes inside, then Jeongguk is as good as dead. A part of Yoongi tells him to screw Jeongguk and just rescue his master, but he ignores it. He's stayed with Seokjin too long to be that selfish anymore, and anyway, he's grown quite fond of the pup, even if he's a huge amount of trouble sometimes.

 

Speaking of the pup, Jeongguk’s screams had morphed. And Yoongi looked over at Hoseok, who was staring at his watch, before glancing at the last of the sun’s rays in the horizon.

 

Why was Taehyung's spirit taking so damned long?

 

“It’s just about over,” Hoseok is saying, and Yoongi can sense the rising urgency in his voice. He looks up from his watch to look at Taehyung. “No spirit?”

 

“Not yet,” Taehyung says, fingers going into his pocket where he'd placed the ring Kyuhyun was linked to after picking it up from its hiding place earlier. And fucking hell, Yoongi had figured the spirit had the easiest job. No one could see him, no one could shoot him. All he had to do was clear some goddamned beans, so where the fuck is he?

 

The howls stop. And Yoongi's blood runs cold. He glances at Hoseok, gaze the same kind of worried, because if Kyuhyun doesn't appear in a second, then they're going to have to just risk going in, regardless of the situation inside. But then, Taehyung suddenly straightens, eyes wide and staring at something neither Hoseok nor Yoongi can see. And then-

 

“Go,” Taehyung croaks, pushing at Hoseok’s shoulder. “Go, Yoongi, go—”

 

Yoongi doesn't need to be told twice.

 

It's always odd, travelling in the shadows. It's hard to describe. But he knows a lot of people somehow have the impression that shadows are slow, that they creep, thick and sticky and glacial. It couldn't be further from the truth.

 

The speed of light is 299 792 458 meters per second; and so that is the speed of darkness. Because darkness is always present the moment the light leaves.

 

He sees everything the moment he enters, almost like everything is still. The poachers, Jeongguk free, the floor clear of beans, Seokjin crawling on the ground to get away.

 

Seokjin.

 

But he quells the urge to go to Seokjin immediately, no matter what the clench in his heart says. And in any case, he doesn't have any time, he only has enough time really, to stop in front of Jeongguk and stop the bullets from killing him.

 

Yeah. Time works funny while in the shadows. It's not quite like how Quicksilver does things in those new X-Men movies. That's seriously overpowered really.

 

He can't help showboating a little though, smirking as he appears. The surprised expression on the poachers faces are too funny not to make fun of.

 

Funnier if those were the expressions on their faces while they’d died. He really wishes he could wring their necks himself, but he knows he needs them for fodder to distract the angry werewolf behind him.

 

Hoseok and Taehyung appear not much later, ducking through the warehouse's side door. Glancing at them, Yoongi can see that Taehyung’s face turns a little ashen when he sees the body that Jeongguk had already torn apart, strewn in bits on the ground, the area slick with blood. He can only hope the medium doesn't freeze for too long.

 

He can't really spare them much attention right now anyway. The poachers are shouting and firing at him, calling out orders to get more beans from the store room. And he has to fend off one bullet after another, catching a few trying to get Jeongguk as well. But well, all the racket seems to have caught Jeongguk's attention, the werewolf's red-coated muzzle lifting, eyes looking away for a new plaything, and oop— yup. Goodbye poacher number two.

 

Fuck. They really need to get Seokjin out of here faster. Jeongguk is really efficient, and the poachers aren't much of a challenge for him to rend apart. He's going through them like a toddler through wrapping paper.

 

But Jeongguk playing with the hunters gives him a moment to look over at Seokjin again. And good, Hoseok and Taehyung are helping Seokjin up. But it seems a lot more slow going then they anticipated with Seokjin flopping around like a rag doll. The witch looks like he's barely conscious, face practically smooshed into Hoseok's neck as they haul him up. Yoongi’s sensitive hearing picks up Seokjin saying something — but it sounds like absolutely nonsense. And now that he's focusing, he can also smell the rot wafting from Seokjin's leg, and it takes all his self control not to tear the head off the last hunter before Jeongguk makes work of him.

 

Not that he needs to battle that temptation for very long. There's another bloodcurdling scream and a sort of wet crunch before the scream cuts off. Right, time for the squishy humans to move.

 

“Get him out of here!”

 

Hoseok doesn't even bother dignifying Yoongi with a response, booking it the best he can while hauling the dead weight towards the door. Taehyung follows, still fumbling with his knife to put it away. And Yoongi turns his attention to Jeongguk, bracing himself to fight the werewolf to hold him back.

 

Ugh he's always hated doing this. Jeongguk isn't the first werewolf he's had to wrangle over his two centuries with Seokjin, and he won't be the last, but he still hates it.

 

Jeongguk's eyes are on him now, gaze wary. Even if he's but a dumb mutt now, he's not enraged enough to blindly charge at a creature he can instinctively tell is stronger than him. And Yoongi doesn't move, tilting his head, squaring himself more confident.

 

If this can hold back Jeongguk a few more minutes without the werewolf using Yoongi's arms as a chew toy then he doesn't see why he shouldn't exploit it.

 

But unfortunately, that all goes to hell when a yell and the sound of a scuffle sounds at the side, attracting both Yoongi's and Jeongguk's attention.

 

“You— fucker!” And there, in a corner: Taehyung grabbing onto a poacher who is trying to grab something on the ground. Probably his gun. “Let go!”

 

Fuck.

 

Yoongi reacts a split second faster than Jeongguk, and he slams into Jeongguk's side as the werewolf sprints in their direction. Jeongguk falls onto his side with a snarl, sliding a little, and too soon, he's back on his feet again.

 

But it buys Yoongi a little time. And he reaching Taehyung just in time, the medium having lost his hold in the minute it'd taken for Yoongi to notice and was now staring down the barrel of a gun. Yoongi quickly grabs the collar of the poacher, easily tossing him backwards.  

 

“Oh fuck, I can’t even leave you alone for one second?”

 

There's a sick sort of thump and a growl, and if Yoongi bothered to turn back and look, he'd see the poacher sort of trying to scramble backwards in fear, realizing that he now has the attention of a very angry and bloodstained werewolf on him.

 

“Okay, that’s the last one,” Yoongi glances over behind him before looking back at Taehyung. “You really need to run now.”

 

And Yoongi isn't joking — because the last poacher's voice rises in a sharp scream before garbling out wetly, and Yoongi really doesn't fancy juggling a werewolf and looking after a human at the same time. He’s going to have to last the whole night, babysitting Jeongguk to make sure he won't somehow manage to break out of the warehouse and wreck havoc on some innocents; and he won't even have Seokjin to bolster him this time. Taehyung seems to understand though, croaking out some mumble of words even as he scrambles to his feet.

 

And then immediately falls back on his ass when the whole building shakes from a sudden explosion. Yoongi can tell that it had been from outside the warehouse, but still close enough to knock several shelves over. And it takes Yoongi a few disorientating moments to realize the short gasps Taehyung is making are ones of pain, and quickly, he throws himself over Taehyung, shielding the medium from further harm. And he looks up after the shaking stops with nary a grunt.

 

The explosion doesn’t last too long, and other than knocking things over, there doesn't seem to be much structural damage, which was a blessing, because Yoongi really didn't need the warehouse collapsing down around their ears in addition to a rampaging werewolf. And that was good, but—

 

Why is there this weird niggling feeling ringing in the back of Yoongi’s mind now?

 

Pushing off the debris from his shadow once the shaking had stopped, Yoongi straightens, looking around to maybe see if he’d missed something important, something that is giving him the bad vibes, and it's almost as if his eyes are drawn there, but they zoom in to a couple of shiny black things on the floor—

 

Oh. Fuck.

 

Almost distantly, he can hear Taehyung hacking up a storm, probably from all the dust that had been dislodged. And then, he hears a slightly groggy, "hyung? Are you okay?" But Yoongi can't really answer, tongue feeling like lead in his mouth. But he doesn't think he needs to because he can sort of sense Taehyung turning to see what Yoongi is staring at, and if he's lucid enough, he'll figure out exactly what the problem is.

 

Because there, sitting on the floor like a nasty surprise, are a sizeable scattering of dark black beans.

 

They must have been knocked out of their hiding place by their explosion. Yoongi wants to tell Taehyung to maybe help him kick them away, but before he can even do so, a low, dangerous snarl rings through the dusty warehouse. He senses Taehyung stiffening, turning to look where a pair of angry yellow orbs are. And shit—

 

All the poachers were dead. The only living people left in the warehouse are Yoongi and Taehyung. And Jeongguk is now looking straight at Taehyung.

 

Another low growl bubbles up out of the werewolf's throat as the creature's jaw snaps shut, upper lip curling and flashing deadly fangs.

 

Yoongi can't even fucking move a muscle.

 

The werewolf lunges, and Taehyung bolts.

 

“Fuck.” Yoongi curses aloud, and in a panic, he tries his best to use his shadows to try to slow Jeongguk down a little bit, the black wisps curling around Jeongguk’s legs, trying to knock things into his path. But he might as well not have done it, the werewolf tearing through the shadows like tissue paper, easily evading the things that Yoongi had knocked into Jeongguk’s path.

 

And in his mind, the compulsion to count only grows louder, forcing him to get to his knees, shaking hands picking up the first black bean.

 

There was only one thing Yoongi could do at this point.

 

“1… 2… 3… 4… 5…”

 

~*~

 

(Just five minutes ago)

 

Most of the time, Hoseok is pretty okay with being a hunter.

 

Yeah, he's pretty squicky around blood. And seriously, he thinks he's more likely to get killed by a heart attack than an actual debilitating wound one of these days. But even though he sometimes does find himself thinking about how life might have been if his family hadn't gone on a boating trip that day, he doesn't regret where he is and how he's come to this point so far.

 

Even now, even though his heart is beating a mile a minute because he's trying to haul a barely conscious witch who's both physically taller and broader than he is through a veritable war zone and trying his best not to get shot at.

 

It isn't supposed to be this way of course. Hoseok and Taehyung are supposed to come out exactly the way they had come and then go to the car, before driving back to the restaurant where Hyejung has a healer waiting. But as with most plans Hoseok has to work with, it's gone to absolute shit.

 

It's the ripple effect, Hoseok knows. When one thing goes to shit, it's never just one thing that goes to shit. This time, it had been Kyuhyun taking longer than anticipated in getting rid of all the beans. That lull in time had resulted in Seokjin pretty much being out of it by the time Hoseok and Taehyung has come in, which meant taking a longer time to drag Seokjin out, because it's one thing to support a conscious person in walking, and entirely another to carry dead weight out. So, by the time Hoseok had gotten Seokjin out of the warehouse, it'd been past sundown. Meaning, their reinforcements in the form of the Jung Coven had arrived; meaning, the poachers had been pushed back towards their base of operations as a result of being overwhelmed. This would normally be a good thing because it means they're winning, but right now, it also means a whole lot of danger in between where he is and getting Jin to safety.

 

From the way Jin is practically burning in his arms, and the still spreading bloodstain on his pant leg, Hoseok doesn't even know if Jin could last a car ride to headquarters. But, okay, Hoseok. Focus. One thing at a time.

 

Fuck, where are Daniel and Jae even? He could really use some help and all the hunters around him are too busy fighting their own battles to notice him beyond the fact that he isn't an enemy. And maybe he could shout for someone to help him, but that also would mean attracting the attention of the poachers and well, Hoseok is sort of half sneaking, using the darkness and the havoc around him as a cover. His gut is telling him that attracting attention right now wouldn’t be the smartest of ideas.

 

And just as he's thinking about this, someone suddenly pulls at Jin-hyung’s free arm and Hoseok nearly bites his tongue off trying not to shriek in alarm as he instinctively yanks back.

 

“Woah! Okay, okay. Territorial much. I'll just cover your back then.”

 

It's really hard to see in the darkness, the only light coming from inside of the warehouse, but the guy urging him forward looks vaguely familiar and yet Hoseok doesn't recognize him. He isn't one of the Lee Clan hunters certainly, and he doesn't seem like a vampire so, “sorry, but who are you?”

 

The other guy huffs a little, his eyes sharp as he scans the area. “Is that really something you should be asking right now, Jung Hoseok of the Lee Clan?”

 

“Need to know whether I can trust you.” Hoseok grunts a little when his hold on Jin slips a little. Maybe he should haul Jin over his back like a sack of rice. Might be easier to carry him that way. “What if you say you'll watch my back and then when it's turned, you shoot it?”

 

The other guy pauses before he purses his lips and nod. “Fair enough. You've probably heard about me actually. My name's Kidoh—”

 

And Hoseok nearly drops Jin in surprise.

 

“Hey, woah. Careful there. I mean, I don't really care if you drop Jin because it's probably karma for all the lame puns he pulls, but it'd really defeat the purpose of me watching your back if you accidentally kill him instead.”

 

Hoseok doesn't respond because he's too busy screaming in his head, because this is his childhood hero in the flesh standing right in front of him right now. He'd heard that Kidoh had been involved in the Dongdaemun Vampire incident but he'd been all tied up and preoccupied with Jeongguk at that time, and by the time he'd found out, Kidoh had long disappeared. And boy, he would deny it to death, but he'd pouted to a point that even Hyejung-noona had given him shit for it, thinking he'd never have a chance to meet Kidoh again—

 

Bad Hoseok. Bad. Seriously. He's in the middle of people shooting each other with guns. Finish the mission first. Fanboy later.

 

“Right. That. Let’s—” and Hoseok shifts Jin a little more securely, preparing to get going again. But at that moment, a few things happen at once.

 

First: there's a shout, one that had Hoseok turning to see what's going on.

 

Second: Kidoh suddenly pushes Hoseok out of the way, and Hoseok flinches at the ringing gunshot next to his ear.

 

Third: the area suddenly seems subject to a sudden earthquake, the ground shuddering violently. And Hoseok feels a suddenly blare of heat on the side of his face, seeing a huge plume of fire and smoke go up in a distance. One of the warehouse nearby had exploded.

 

Everything happens so fast, and by the time his hearing comes back a little, Kidoh has fired his gun another three more times, and Hoseok whips back to see three hunters that had been surrounding them fall to the ground. And suddenly, Hoseok is struck by the fact that if the explosion hadn't happened, they probably all would be dead by now.

 

Hoseok sees Kidoh saying something out of the corner of his eye, and it sounds like: “should have figured his ‘distraction' would be flashy.” But Hoseok isn't quite sure. His ears are still ringing from all the gunshots Kidoh had fired.

 

But what he's sure of is that they should get moving while everyone else is preoccupied by that explosion. Whatever that had been. “Kidoh-sshi, help me get Jin-hyung on my back? I can carry him easier that way.”

 

Kidoh blinks at the request before he grins. “I have a better idea.”

 

And to Hoseok's confusion, he turns to Jin and then says, “yah, Jin-ah. You know, I never understood your shop name.”

 

Now, Jin is truly out of it at this point. He should be, having used up all his energy on casting whatever spell he had to break Jeongguk's chains, and his leg is still sloshing out blood. But honest to god, or whatever deity is out there, Jin’s lidded eyes just shoot wide open, and he's never heard Jin enunciate anything clearer than the, “what the fuck, Hyosang?” that he says right now.

 

“You heard me.” and Kidoh doesn't stop, a slightly manic gaze in his eyes as he continues with, “I never got your shop name. Like. I get it's a pun. But why are we meeting with mana? And mana is such a colloquial term anyway. We don't use it Korea. I think only Hawaii and some parts of Europe use it. And well, RPGs but really? I thought you should be over that Maplestory phase already.”

 

“Fuck you, it's a pun and Maplestory made ‘mana' mainstream, okay?” Jin practically lurches, trying to get to Kidoh’s neck, and Hoseok nearly loses his balance keeping him upright. But Kidoh obviously dances out of the way. “And what do you mean ‘meeting with mana’? It’s ‘a lot’! So give a lot! And that's why it's funny because it can be give me a lot or give me mana!”

 

“But you don't transform ‘a lot’ that way. That's how you transform ‘meet'.”

 

“It's a fucking pun. It's not that deep!”

 

“It's confusing is what it is.”

 

And this is how Hoseok's life is like now. He's half supporting a stumbling Jin, who had one moment ago, been a dead weight and now is rushing after Kidoh like a demon possessed, his fist raised in the air as he shouts out expletives that could make a sailor blush. Kidoh continues to taunt him, and really, Hoseok probably should be surprised that this is actually working, and the three of them are already crawling through the hole in the fence, well on their way towards the car.

 

It's crazy weird. Even weirder than that time he and Daniel had stumbled upon a Kappa and a mermaid mating. But well, Hoseok continually tells himself that he really shouldn't be surprised in his line of work, but he also constantly forgets. So here he is, being surprised by the fact that he's being dragged by a stumbling witch trying to beat the crap out of possibly the most famous hunter in existence for insulting his sense of humor.

 

Hoseok has to help Jin through the fence so that he doesn't cut himself on the sharp wires, and he also saves the witch several times from smashing headlong into a tree or tripping over a tree root. But they're at the car soon enough (thankfully, Daniel had the foresight not to park the car too far away from the entry point), and Hoseok has just enough time to wonder how Kidoh had even known the location of their car to be able to find it before Jin’s rant suddenly cuts off mid-way and Hoseok yelps, barely catching Jin before he crashes to the floor.

 

“Oh fuck.” Hoseok doesn't quite know why it's so disconcerting when Kidoh’s mood flips 180 within the span of those few seconds, but he helps lay Jin down gently onto the forest floor. “Fuck, he really overdid it, didn't he?”

 

“He's Jin. He always does. Especially when people are counting on him.” And Hoseok feels a little mollified when he isn't the only one to jump in surprise at the new voice that sounds. Kidoh’s hand had gone to the gun around his waist before he relaxes, his voice mildly annoyed as he says, “Taiji-nim.”

 

Well, today’s the day for Hoseok to meet legends it seems. Hoseok has known for a while that Jin’s teacher is Seo Taiji, but no one ever expects Seo Taiji to show up, not even for his only student's sake.

 

“Yes, that's my name. Don't wear it out.” Seo Taiji is kneeling down beside Jin, pulling up his pant leg and making a face at the still bleeding wound in Jin’s calf. “Hoseok was it? Did you bring any of Jin’s healing potions along?”

 

It takes a while to realize that Seo Taiji is talking to him. “Huh? Oh, oh yes. We brought the standard potions he usually gives to us.” He doesn't need prompting to stand up, running to the car immediately to get them.

 

Behind him, he hears Kidoh snort a little, “not going to do your own thing?”

 

And it's odd, because there's a strange sort of aggression in Kidoh’s words, and Seo Taiji must hear it too, but he only says, “don't be silly. You know Jin has always been better at healing than I am.”

 

“You should tell him that sometimes, instead of always bragging about yourself.”

 

“He knows.” And Seo Taiji frowns before pulling something out from his waist, and Hoseok realizes that Seo Taiji wears a leather pouch similar to the one Jin usually wears. He isn't quite sure what to do with that information. “Anyway, the problem isn't really the wound actually. Jin normally would have enough magic to counter something like this, even though it'd still hurt like a bitch.”

 

“So the problem is that Jin doesn't have enough magic?” Kidoh asks.

 

“Essentially,” Seo Taiji drips clear liquid from the vial from his pouch into Jin’s wound and the younger witch jerks, expression crossing into pain. Kidoh immediately bends down, placing his palms down on Jin’s shoulders so that he won't move too much and accidentally hurt himself. “But also, the bullet in his calf is a magic cancelling bullet. It's been eating away at his magic. I need to get it out first before anything else… there.”

 

Hoseok can't see the manifestation of magic, so all it looks like to him is the bullet literally jumping out of Jin’s calf into Seo Taiji’s hand. But from the way that Kidoh winces, there probably had been a very strong flare of magical power. He shifts out of the way again when Seo Taiji moves, gesturing for Kidoh to seat Jin up, only to get tugged back also immediately. “Don't move away, boy. I'm going to feed Jin some of my magic. But once he's awake, he's going to need those potions. You know what each one is for and the order they're supposed to be drunk, yes?”

 

“Yes, sir.” The salutation slips out almost unconsciously, but Seo Taiji doesn't seem to notice, instead turning to focus on Jin instead. His hands trail across Jin’s face, down his neck and over his chest and back, stopping at places that Hoseok knows in theory are all the pressure points of Chinese acupuncture. As Hoseok stares, some colour comes back into Jin’s face, so it must be working.

 

“Okay. Think that should be enough.” Seo Taiji leans back after a while, looking over Jin with a scrutinizing eye before he snaps his fingers. And Hoseok starts a little when Jin suddenly shifts, eyes fluttering open with a groan, expression looking more grumpy, like he'd be interrupted from a good nap rather than having been pulled back from a near comatose state.

 

And he certainly sounds like it after squinting at Seo Taiji for a second. He groans, his voice tired and cracking, “...you. I thought I felt your energy.”

 

“Is that any way to greet your teacher?” Seo Taiji is looking at Jin’s wound again, and so Hoseok nearly misses when the older witch gestures at Hoseok to feed Jin the potions Hoseok has been carrying in his hands. “And of course you felt my energy. I healed you after all. You're welcome, by the way.”

 

But Jin seems to grow more agitated at that, pushing the potion that Hoseok is trying to feed him away. “No, no that. Earlier. It felt big. Like an explosion? What did you do, seonsaeng? You wouldn't be here if not to meddle.”

 

Seo Taiji’s expression doesn't seem to change as he stares intensely at Jin’s wound, or at least, to Hoseok, it doesn't. But Jin seems to see something in that blank expression and his expression grows yet stormier. And to Hoseok's utmost surprise, Jin pulls away from Kidoh’s hold, hand reaching out to grab the collar of Seo Taiji’s shirt.

 

Hoseok has never seen Jin like this. Ever. Not even during that time a vampire had double crossed the Lee Clan and then idiotically had tried to go to Jin for sanctuary. And Hoseok had already nearly shit his pants that day seeing how incensed Jin and Yoongi had been.

 

But there is something dark in Jin’s eyes now — something more than anger. There is a timbre to Jin’s voice Hosoek can't quite place, only knowing that it sends goosebumps scurrying down the curve of his spine. “Seonsaeng. What. Did. You. Do?”

 

There's a long moment of silence, which is eerily unnatural considering that not more than a few meters away, a serious fight is raging, and perhaps, there is something unnatural going on. Not that Hoseok can tell. He's just really hoping he won't get caught up in some magical tussle aftermath is all. But after a moment, Seo Taiji finally sighs before saying: “you would have been seriously wounded if I hadn't done what I’d done.”

 

Hoseok had thought that Jin’s expression couldn't get any blacker. But it does, even as Jin shoves his teacher away, eyes hard. “So, you meddled.”

 

Seo Taiji’s expression changes just that miniscule bit, eyebrows furrowing a little. “I made sure to be careful, that my footprint wouldn't be so large.”

 

“Well, I guess that's the only reason why the entire Lee Clan isn't dead.” Hoseok is torn between asking Jin what he means, and yelling for Jin to sit back down. Because the witch is standing up now, pulling himself to his feet despite the wound still raw and bleeding in his calf. “Even if you took care, the universe will find someone else to substitute for the hurt I should have received. Hoseok, where are Yoongi and Taehyung?”

 

Hoseok startles, nearly dropping the case of potions in his hands. “Unh… Yoongi-hyung should be making sure Jeongguk is preoccupied inside the warehouse. Taehyung… he—”

 

But before Hoseok can get another word out, Kidoh suddenly whips around, gun in his hand like a sudden miracle. There's a yelp of surprise before Jin snorts. “Put down your gun, Kidoh. It's one of ours. Jae, what is it?”

 

And Hoseok’s normally annoying vampire half-brother stands there now, his glasses askew, panting hard. He doesn't whine for once, a serious look on his face. And it sends a chill down Hoseok’s spine because Jae is only ever serious for two things:

 

The first is his guitar and music. The second, is reporting any sort of news where someone is seriously hurt. It doesn't help that Hoseok suddenly realizes, as Jae shifts to stand more in the light, that the vampire’s right arm is mangled, blood pouring from painful-looking rends in his arm.

 

“Taehyung.” Jae says after a moment, expression grim. “It's Taehyung.”

Chapter Text

The cauldron is glowing green.

 

Green is an interesting colour to Yoongi. In magic, it’s the colour of healing and growth. Plants have a green aura, and white witches used to be called green witches on account of them using so much greenery in their spells.

 

And then, the 18th century came, and with it the industrial revelation. And suddenly, green is the colour of poison.

 

It'd been simply an aftereffect of ignorance, humans discovering new chemical compounds and thinking them safe. Missing the greens of the countryside in the middle of drab gray cities, they’d synthesized their own green pigments out of these chemicals. Plastering their walls, their dresses, curtains and paints — they hadn't know that this new green meant death.

 

But of course, the potion Seokjin is brewing isn't one of poison, but one to heal. It’s in the wake of a battle, so it'd be unlikely Seokjin would take out time from making much needed poultices and healing potions to make something that would contribute to more death, but—

 

Seokjin’s face is pale even as he measures out the white lily petals to be used in the brew. His fingers shake, lips chapped despite the constant licking, and there’s a cold sweat beading across his brow. And as he leans over the cauldron, the light is cast green over his face, and Yoongi can't help but think of poison.

 

“Yoongi, can you go get me the arrowroot powder? I think I need to make this into a stronger paste, so that it'll bind faster.”

 

Yoongi doesn't want to get the arrowroot powder. “Jin—”

 

“For the last time, Yoongi. I'm not stopping until I figure out this potion.”

 

And Yoongi had accepted that earlier. Except, this is the fifth time Seokjin has attempted the potion, and he still isn't satisfied.

 

“Jin.”

 

“The longer you take to get that arrowroot powder, the longer I'll take, Yoongi.” And normally, that would get Yoongi going, because normally, Yoongi trusts Seokjin to do as he promises.

 

Unfortunately, today isn't normal at all.

 

“Fine, if you're not going to help me, then I'll just do it myself.” And Seokjin throws down the towel he has in his hands back onto his work table. But he's barely rounded the side of the table when fingers curl tight around his wrist, stopping him short. “Yoongi, let go.”

 

Yoongi doesn't let go. His fingers tighten even further around Seokjin's wrist instead. “Jin.”

 

Seokjin doesn’t look at him, but he doesn’t move to pull his wrist away from Yoongi’s hold. “Let go, Yoongi.” Then, “just let me be.”

 

But Yoongi can’t.

 

“Jin.” Yoongi steps closer now. And he shift Seokjin so that the witch is facing him. He smooths a hand across Seokjin’s cheek, fingers brushing away the bangs that fall into Seokjin’s eyes, and his thumb across Seokjin’s brow, wishing he could easily wipe away the exhaustion and pain there as he could the sweat that beads on Seokjin's forehead. “You should rest.”

 

And Seokjin exhales, shaking his head. But it isn't fast enough that he would dislodge the fingers that trace the shape of his jaw. “I'm fine. Seonsaengnim healed me after all.” There’s a bitter tone in his voice now. “I'm in a lot better shape than a lot of those who fought to rescue me.”

 

“And they’ve all received more than stellar treatment thanks to you.” Yoongi points out, “some of them would have been down for months. Now they'll be on their feet within weeks.”

 

“Well, if it weren't for me, they wouldn't be ‘down’ at all.”

 

Yoongi lets out a long sigh.

 

He's not an expert on the way the universe works. It hadn't concerned him when he was a minor demon, wandering the streets just trying to survive; and it still hadn't concerned him much even after he'd been contracted to Seokjin. Seokjin doesn't mess with the flow of the universe on the regular like his teacher does. So all of what Yoongi knows is from listening and discerning from whatever conversations Seokjin happens to have about it. And this is what he knows: that with the universe, whatever it gives, it always takes back just as much — an equivalent exchange,  as Fullmetal Alchemist had succinctly summed up. And if someone were to change something in the flow of the universe, then the universe would take something equal in return.

 

Seo Taiji had blown up the building earlier. If he hadn't, the hunters that had snuck up on Hoseok and Kidoh wouldn’t have missed their shot, and Seokjin would have been fatally wounded. But the very explosion that had saved Seokjin's life had dislodged the black beans inside the warehouse, distracting Yoongi from his task of keeping Jeongguk occupied. And then, Taehyung had nearly died, nearly bleeding out in a vent for fifteen minutes after a large chunk of his leg had been clawed out by Jeongguk. It doesn't take three guesses to know what the universe had done to balance out the scales. But, “Taehyung's fine.”

 

“Define fine,” is Seokjin's short reply. “His leg was mangled to the point that he wouldn't have been able to use it again if I wasn't there to save it.”

 

“And you were.” Sometimes, Yoongi wants to strangle Seokjin and his matyring stubbornness. “And thanks to you, Taehyung will live to walk again.

 

“But—”

 

“But nothing. Fuck, he's probably gonna wake up later, properly bundled and warm next to his boyfriend and they will probably kiss or do something equally gross. Taehyung will be fine. So could you stop punishing yourself and come to bed with me? Please?”

 

Seokjin finally looks up at Yoongi, and with a start, Yoongi realizes that Seokjin looks terrified.

 

“You don't know that.” Seokjin whispers, an untold pain in his eyes. “You don't know… how many times before I met you… how many times it seemed safe enough to relax. But the universe is cruel like that. It loves to wait until your guard is down before it acts. I can't— I just… n-not again.”

 

There's a pang, so sharp and sudden that Yoongi doesn't realize where it comes from at first. Because it's been eons since either of them have been angered or distressed enough that they've let slip of their emotions past the bond. Yet, there it is: a feeling of sickened, panicked guilt is there, so foreign a concept assigned to the normally steadfast Seokjin that Yoongi almost believes he'd imagined it.

 

“Fuck,” Seokjin says, wheeling back a little at Yoongi's widened eyes. “Fuck. I-I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.”

 

Yoongi’s heart falls even as he sucks in a painful breath. So he hadn't imagined it after all.

 

“Sorry my ass,” and Yoongi reaches out, practically yanking Seokjin into a hug. The witch makes some sort of noise of protest which Yoongi ignores. “I thought we got over apologizing for letting panic feelings slip through the bond a century ago. And whatever happened in the past was not your fault.”

 

“Y-you… you don't even know what happened,” is Seokjin's legitimate protest. But Yoongi only holds on tighter.

 

“Yeah. I don't,” he admits. “But I know you. And whatever you say about being different back then, you were still you. And I know you wouldn't have done anything to harm anyone else on purpose.”

 

Seokjin sniffles a little, in the way that is ridiculous because he sounds like a sad little boy when he's already more than two centuries old and one of the most famous witches in history after his teacher. But Yoongi will let it go, just for tonight. “You're b-being cheesy t-tonight, Yoongi-yah.”

 

“I just reunited with my lover after he got kidnapped by poachers. A lover who nearly died because the poachers starved and mistreated him.” Yoongi says, voice dry. “I think I have a right to be cheesy.”

 

Yoongi doesn't know what he'd expected Seokjin's response to be, but it's certainly not the blank look that slides over Seokjin's face right now. “Did… you forget that was a thing?”

 

“No….” and the way Seokjin says it doesn't instill much confidence in Yoongi. “Maybe? Not! —that I forgot I love you. Just… I forgot about the status change.”

 

“How did you forget the seven rounds of sex?”

 

“I didn't forget the seven rounds of sex!” Seokjin immediately protests. “Just… you know, even if we didn't start… the thing we have—”

 

“You can just say relationship, Jin.”

 

“Shuddup, Yoongi. We already had a relationship already is what I'm saying.” Seokjin's ears are bright red now, “even if we didn't have that forced revelation before I got caught by poachers, the thought of seeing you again would have still been the reason to keep me going.”

 

“Ah.” Yoongi hopes he isn't blushing. He probably is, from the way his neck is burning. “Well, you did say that you've always loved me without realizing it.”

 

And Seokjin finally smiles. “Yeah. I suppose i did.”

 

~*~

 

Seokjin doesn't know how long they stand there. They aren't really doing much. Just literally that — standing, or maybe leaning into each other just so that the physics of angles and weight don't leave them both sprawling onto the floor.

 

Yoongi is the one who finally breaks the silence again. Of course he is. “So, are you done punishing yourself? Can I take my boyfriend to bed now?”

 

Seokjin can't think of any funny quip to sling back, so he just says, “I thought I was your lover?”

 

“You are. But right now, you're my boyfriend first, because there's no way any sort of fucking is going to happen when we get to that bed.”

 

Seokjin isn't in the mood to fuck, but it's more out of reflex that he even opens his mouth to start to protest.

 

Yoongi leans back far enough to give him a look. “You can't fool me, Kim Seokjin. I've be holding onto you for maybe fifteen minutes. Your body is definitely too warm to be healthy right now. 'Seonsaengnim healed me’ my ass.”

 

Seokjin giggles a little, mostly out of lightheadedness than anything else. Yoongi is right about Seokjin's body being too warm. “To be fair, he did heal me.”

 

“Yeah, enough so that you wouldn't die, but not enough that you could immediately go onto a marathon healing session right after nearly a week of abuse.” Yoongi snorts, and then shadows lick the edges of Yoongi's arms as he picks Seokjin up.

 

Yoongi doesn't do this too often, mostly because Seokjin usually knows his own limits. But there are times when Seokjin pushes himself too far, far enough where he can barely walk and it wouldn't do him any good not to be lying down for rest. And these times are when Yoongi will lift Seokjin up in his arms and carry his master to their bed.

 

Yoongi is unnaturally gentle as he lays Seokjin down on their bed. He normally just dumps Seokjin off unceremoniously, like a sack of potatoes. But Seokjin doesn't call Yoongi out on it, instead choosing to curl up happily on his sheets, feeling the slide of the comfort charms he'd embedded into the cotton roll over his skin.

 

Yoongi joins him not but a second later, pulling the covers over them both before curling into Seokjin's side. He normally changes into his feline form for this but, “I want to hold onto you today.” Yoongi explains before Seokjin can ask.

 

“Clingy, much?” Seokjin teases, even though he shifts so that Yoongi’s arms can get a better hold on him.

 

“Can you blame me?” Yoongi whispers, oddly truthful for a beat. “You got taken from me. And I still had to hold back from immediately being by your side to babysit a werewolf. At least let me have this.”

 

Oh. “Silly,” and Seokjin presses his face into Yoongi's hair as the familiar leans his head onto Seokjin's chest. Seokjin takes a deep breath in. Yoongi's hair smells of oat and rice — the ingredients Seokjin uses in his quick cleaning potions. Yoongi hadn't wanted to take a bath while Seokjin had been in distress after all. “Wasn't going to take it away from you anyway.”

 

They fall asleep like this, with a comforting weight on Seokjin’s chest, and Yoongi breathing to the reassuring beat of Seokjin's heart.

 

Just like they always do.

 

~*~

 

It's been a year since Seokjin and Yoongi have officially declared themselves the old married couple they really are, and nothing has really changed.

 

Except, they fuck each other now, sometimes.

 

Or… pretty regularly...

 

Every night.

 

Once.

 

...At least.

 

Other than that, the only major change is that Seokjin has added dried fish as a key ingredient to his potion bases, and so along with his regular herbs and shelves of jars, he also has a myriad of dried fish hanging on the walls nowadays.

 

“I still can't believe,” Yoongi grumbles, arms deep in a bucket of salt. “We're not salting all this fish up for eating.”

 

“Yeah, and you've been complaining about it the entire eight months since I've started doing it.” Seokjin sighs as he straightens up after hauling over an entire carton of fish he'd just cleaned and gutted.

 

“Well, I wouldn't be complaining if we could use magic to do this.” Yoongi wrinkles his nose at the fish Seokjin has just lugged over. “But no, we have to do all of this manually.”

 

“And you know as well as I do how much better the potions turn out when we use raw ingredients untouched by magic.” Seokjin points out. “All the raw ingredients I used are untouched by magic.”

 

“Yeah, but you usually purchase all your raw ingredients. Not make them yourself.” Yoongi says almost aggressively as he pulls out a fish from the carton, dumping it into the salt.

 

“And that's the end goal.” Seokjin waits for Yoongi to be done before taking the fish Yoongi has salted and hooking it up to hang. “But until I can find a source whose dried fish works at least as good as the ones we make ourselves, we're going to be making the dried fish on our own.”

 

Yoongi just groans, barely refraining from burying his face into his gloves. That would just end in a face full of salt and more pain.

 

“You act like we do this everyday.” Seokjin snorts, nudging Yoongi a little with his foot. “This is only the third time we've done it in 8 months.”

 

“But we do a shit ton every time we do.” Yoongi grumbles, grabbing the next fish to salt. “And we can't even eat them after we're done.”

 

“Why is that even an issue, seriously? You've never liked dried fish before.”

 

“...I …may have developed a taste for it?”

 

Seokjin pauses in the middle of hanging up a fish, “...so that's why my numbers were wrong. I just thought I miscounted!”

 

Yoongi doesn't look up, simply dumping yet another fish into the salt. “Not my fault you automatically assumed your own carelessness.”

 

“It wasn't that big a discrepancy, and I did have an inventive episode two months ago. So I thought I might have used some I didn't remember using.” Seokjin eyes Yoongi for a moment, “if you really like dried fish, you could add it to the grocery list instead.”

 

There's a pause, Yoongi still stubbornly refusing to look up at Seokjin. Then, “...the fish we make tastes better.”

 

Yoongi is expecting it. And even without looking up, he know what he'll see:

 

First is the slight pause as Seokjin processes what has been said; then, his eyes with crinkle, the tips of his lip curling upwards, inwards over his teeth. And then the laughter starts to leak out, the infectious one that sounds a little like wipers on a windshield, along with that shake of his shoulders, they way they pull in, as if Seokjin is trying too hard to contain his own mirth.

 

Yoongi looks up now, as Seokjin points a finger at his familiar, huge, silly grin still on his face. “Well, I don't really care. Just that the more you eat, the more often you'll have to help me dry fish.”

 

“Why do you think I control myself and it's not a noticeable number missing from your stock?” Yoongi replies pointedly. And it's all he can do to not start grinning as well when Seokjin starts laughing again, the affection settled, full and warm in his chest.

 

It's the same as it had been since two hundred years ago. Always the same. But now, Yoongi can reach out, grab Seokjin's arm and tug him down, and press a kiss onto his master's lips like he's always wanted.

 

The kiss is warm and filled with light and laughter and everything Yoongi has ever dreamed of. And the familiar thinks it will always be like this.

 

Always.

 

(“Ew, Yoongi. I'm all gross right now.”

 

“You're always gross.”

 

“Really, you insult me right after you kiss me?”

 

“You have some weird kinks remember— ow!”)

 

~*~

 

“Aren't you glad, Yoongi-yah?” Seokjin says as he steps out of the shower, still towelling his hair. “If I was anything like my teacher, we'd really be doing this with no magic entirely because he likes to go hardcore. So, no magic to help get rid of the fish smell either, and we'd both be smelling like the dead fish for a week— what?”

 

There's a rose. A single rose. A single red rose. And normally that wouldn't be that weird — Seokjin does keep a stock of roses of all colours in the shop. Less red, because they tend to be the superfluous sort of ingredient. Just for a feeling of elegance added to beauty and grace potions.

 

But this single red rose is floating in the middle of his workshop like some kind of discount scene out of Beauty and the Beast.

 

“What the fuck?” Seokjin repeats, just as the rose shimmers, a tinkling sort of sound playing before it bursts into a shower of petals. And Seokjin instinctively yelps, nearly falling over in surprise. For a moment, he wonders if he's going to be attacked by rose aliens.

 

But minutes pass, and no scary aliens attack. So Seokjin unfurls himself from his protective pose, straightening, wondering what the fuck is going on and why there's a path of rose petals leading from his feet up to the stairs like some kind of cliche fairytale princess movie.

 

He probably would have stood there staring for even longer if the overwhelming rose smell hadn't made him sneeze.

 

“Hecate.” Seokjin says, once he finally stops sneezing, staring at the petals blankly. “What the fuck is this?”

 

The rose petals just continue lying there, still after their initial dramatic introduction. Unfortunately, they offer no answers.

 

Finally, Seokjin sighs. Going by campy romance novels, he's probably supposed to follow the path made by them. Which… isn't as appealing as it might sound. The media makes it romantic and all, but really, there's nothing romantic about slipping on flower petals and braining yourself on the edge of a stair. Definitely nothing romantic about a concussion and possible brain damage.

 

But Seokjin braves the stairs nevertheless, even in its current dangerous state. Even if by the time he reaches by the bottom of the stairs, he's already slightly out of breath, having nearly slipped at least twice. At the very least, the sight that greets him doesn't disappoint.

 

“You don't seem very surprised.” is what Yoongi says once Seokjin straightens. He smoothes the front of his jacket down, self conscious.

 

“No, I'm not.” Seokjin admits, even as he takes the moment to eyeball the dark blue three-piece suit that Yoongi is wearing. It looks branded — there's a shiny symbol emblazoned on the collar pins. Burberry, maybe? Seokjin wouldn't know. He wonders if maybe Yoongi had actually asked Suran to help dress him.

 

Or more likely Hyejin. Hyejin isn't one to care for brands, but she can be very resourceful. Or maybe Jisoo. Hyejin and Jisoo both.

 

“Well?”

 

“Huh?” Seokjin blinks, eyes returning to Yoongi face even as the familiar rolls his eyes. “What? I'm just—”

 

“Say what you think at least.” Yoongi gestures down at himself. “Tell me I look dumb. Or something.”

 

“What? Don't be silly. You look hot. And you know it.” Seokjin's eyes drag down Yoongi's form once more. “Wait, is my lack of reaction affecting your self esteem?

 

“No?” And now it's Seokjin's roll his eyes. “Just. I expected a bit more of an reaction.”

 

“I'll give it to you once I process that Min Yoongi, grump extraordinaire, who hates stuffy clothes, is wearing a full three piece suit right in front of me.” Seokjin tugs the wide collar of his oversized sweater up again from where it’d slipped. Reminder that he's woefully underdressed in front of Yoongi right now. “May I at least know why?”

 

“Thought you weren't surprised?”

 

“I meant that I wasn't surprised that you were standing here all fancy after that nonsense upstairs with the rose and petals.” Seokjin snorts, “doesn't mean I'm not confused as fuck as to why.”

 

Yoongi's eyebrows rise so high, Seokjin thinks they might have gone to the top of his head. “It's our one year anniversary today.”

 

Yoongi obviously thinks that Seokjin has forgotten about that. Seokjin hasn't. “Yes… but it doesn't explain the exploding rose, and the outfit.”

 

“How doesn't it explain the rose and the outfit? It's our anniversary. Usually romantic things go hand in hand with anniversaries.”

 

“Because you hate things like that?” Seokjin answers, and he receives a small huff in reply.

 

“Yeah, but you like things like this. Grand gestures. Romantic scenarios. Having dinner parties. Bragging to everyone you know about your relationship, because, relationship goals.”

 

Seokjin stares a little. He's beginning to wonder if curing fish could maybe result in lucid fever dreams. “That makes me sound really bad.”

 

“It does, doesn't it?” And Seokjin yelps when Yoongi suddenly steps forward, hand curling around his wrist and tugging. He half stumbles, trying to keep up as Yoongi pulls him towards the door. “Doesn't matter. Still love you anyway.”

 

Seokjin should probably have some kind of reaction to that. But he really isn't given much time before Yoongi is dragging him out the pantry door, through the storage room, and out into a shop where Seokjin is greeted by a cheer so loud and boisterous that he almost feels physically slapped in the face by it.

 

The store is all decorated, goods cleared out to Hecate knows where to make way for punch, crystal goblets and tables full of dressed up hors d'oeuvres. It's fancy, pretentious, and everything Seokjin secretly wants in a celebration.

 

And everyone is here. The obvious ones like the members of the Lee Clan and his regulars like Seungkwan don't phase him too much. But fuck, it feels like Yoongi’s invited the whole supernatural community in Seoul and then some. Seokjin even spots the witch of Cheongu sharing a plate of what looks like dressed-up mandu with her familiar in the corner, and Seokjin is really beginning to think this is some kind of fever dream.

 

But then, Yoongi’s hand slips from his wrist into his hand, and Seokjin is momentarily distracted from being one second away from freaking the fuck out. Yoongi's hand feels warm enough, the slight stiffness to it all too real as Yoongi looks up at him with an uneasy expression. “Hey, you alright? You don't look… very happy… is it the decor? Or the food? Or… Did I invite too many people?”

 

“No, I—” Seokjin forces a smile onto his face. “This is… perfect. Everything I would have liked for our anniversary.”

 

And that, unfortunately, is exactly the problem.

 

“O...kay…?” Yoongi says slowly, expression as he eyes Seokjin like eyeing a bomb that could possibly explode.

 

Seokjin is trying to catch the eye of any of the Lee Clan members, who all seem to suddenly be very busy with the food on the table or whatever conversation they're having. But the tone of voice makes him pause, and he realizes that his lack of positive reaction is souring what Yoongi had expected to be a wonderful night, possibly filled with Seokjin screaming in delight at the surprise that Yoongi had prepared.

 

“Sorry. Just. A little overwhelmed,” Seokjin turns to face Yoongi properly, taking care to meet Yoongi's eyes. “Didn't expect this. At all.”

 

And because it looks like Yoongi doesn't quite buy Seokjin’s excuse, he adds, “also, everyone around me is dressed to the nines, while I'm in sweatpants and a threadbare, oversized shirt that says ‘witches be hatin’. So I'm also kinda, a bit, a lot embarrassed right now.”

 

“Ah. Right.” The look of relief on Yoongi's face gives Seokjin little itchy scratchy, guilty feelings; and certain people in the room still need to answer for some things, but Seokjin thinks that he'll push all that aside for now and enjoy what Yoongi has prepared.  Especially how, now that the familiar is reassured and confident that Seokjin doesn't actual hate his surprise, he has the most adorable smirk on his face as he snaps his fingers and a slightly annoyed but nervous looking Seungkwan half runs over to their side. “Don't worry. I've got that covered too.”

 

Having that covered apparently translates into Seungkwan leading Seokjin into a sectioned off corner of the store, where some black curtains are hung to form a makeshift fitting room, which Seungkwan pulls back to reveal an elegant outfit hanging inside. It's all very well planned, very unYoongi-like. He must have gotten a shit ton of help.

 

“He picked out that outfit himself actually.” Seungkwan says, mistaking Seokjin’s contemplative expression to be simply directed at the outfit. “He only asked me for help in getting the catalogue and actually buying the outfit, because they don't do mail orders unfortunately.”

 

“He asked you for help?” Seokjin raised an eyebrow. “Who else?”

 

“Er…? I don't know. I wasn't privy to the rest of the planning. I'm really just the clothes errand boy.”

 

Seokjin looks up at the outfit again; it's neatly pressed, an elegant smart casual suit dark grey suit with accents of rose pink. Seokjin doesn't recognize the designer, but it looks expensive and well-made.

 

“It's a piece from Solid Homme. It's this Korean designer who specializes in bold outerwear and really clean cut silhouettes, and man, this outfit will look really great with your physique.” Seungkwan enthuses, which amuses Seokjin more than it should.

 

“Should have figured it would be some unknown hipster brand.” Seokjin snorts to Seungkwan’s yelp that Wooyoungmi is not unknown. “But you're right, the outfit suits me. It'd totally be something I’d picked myself.”

 

It's a few moments before Seokjin realises that Seungkwan is looking at him with an incredibly loopy grin. “What?”

 

“Nothing,” Seungkwan shakes his head, but the grin doesn't leave his face. “Yoongi-sshi just really knows you very well. Doesn't he, Hyung?”

 

Seokjin turns to look back at the outfit, fingers dancing over the material. It's some light linen mix. Sturdy but airy — just how Seokjin likes.

 

And Seokjin smiles, “yeah. He really does.”

 

~*~

 

Just because Seokjin is determined to enjoy the anniversary party that Yoongi had thrown together, doesn't mean that Seokjin had intended to stop hunting down the members of the Lee Clan.

 

“So, can one of you explain to me why all the members of your family are avoiding me like the plague?”

 

It's almost funny, the way both Taehyung and Jeongguk jerk at exactly the same time. Jeongguk actually throws his hands up, the lobster roll that he'd been holding flying up and landing on the floor with a sad splat.

 

It's even funnier, because both Taehyung and Jeongguk actually take a second to stare at the lobster roll with a sort of sad, mourning look. But then, Taehyung seems to remember what had caused the premature death of the lobster roll, and immediately grabs Jeongguk's arm, trying to tug him into making a break for it.

 

“Oh, no you don't.” And Seokjin flicks his wrist, throwing the anchor spell he'd prepared since somewhere halfway through the party after he’d realized that he wouldn't be able to catch any of the Lee Clan members without physically glueing them to the spot. Jeongguk actually crashes into Taehyung when the medium jerks to a stop, tugged back by the spell. And the only reason why neither of them fall over is because Seokjin’s spell keeps them upright.

 

“I'm pretty sure this is cheating.” Taehyung complains, even as Jeongguk licks his lips, trying not to meet Seokjin's eyes.

 

“Yeah, well. I'm tired of playing nice.” Seokjin dusts his hands off as he steps up to the two younglings. “So, let me repeat the question. Why are all the members of your family avoiding me?”

 

“Avoiding you?” Taehyung laughs nervously, eyes darting all over the place. “We aren't avoiding you.”

 

Seokjin raises an eyebrow before glancing over at the carcass of the lobster roll on the floor. Both Jeongguk and Taehyung wince.

 

“Right. Okay. Erm— I— wait. Family? Why are you asking me then? I'm not part of the Lee Clan famil—”

 

“If you dare complete that sentence, Hyejung is going to have your head on a pike.”

 

“ —lyieeeee, I love being considered part of the Lee Clan. Love my boyfriend and his family, which is also my family. Hahaha. Love Hyejung-noona even more. Speaking of Hyejung-noona, I saw you talking to her earlier. Why didn't you ask her?”

 

“Because she was smart and called Yoongi over the moment she was cornered, so that she could congratulate us both together.”

 

Taehyung's jaw drops open before he whines, looking over at Jeongguk, “why didn't we think of that?”

 

Jeongguk is craning his head, obviously looking around for Yoongi. Seokjin snorts, “I sent him to go get some wine bottles deep down in our storage room. It'll take him a while. He's gonna hang out there for a bit to rest from too much social interaction at one go.”

 

“Shit.” Taehyung mutters under his breath before he sighs. “Look there's a reasonable explanation for everything—”

 

“I should sure hope so. After all, I asked all of the Lee Clan in helping me to execute my anniversary plan to surprise Yoongi, and I end up getting surprised by his instead?”

 

“Well, erm.” Taehyung glances at Jeongguk again despite probably knowing that he won't get any help from his boyfriend. Sure enough, Jeongguk just stares back with an expression like a terrified deer. “Okay, you see. Both of you came to all of us, separately, but on the same exact day, to ask us for help on your respective plans; two plans so entirely different by the way, so it really kind of put us in a spot.”

 

“I can tell.” Seokjin taps his finger against his thigh. “So why did everyone decide to betray me then? Decide to go with Yoongi's plan instead?”

 

Jeongguk makes a distressed sort of noise which Taehyung seems to ignore. The medium just wrinkles his nose at Seokjin. “Oh, now you're just being dramatic, hyung.”

 

“I'll be the judge of whether I'm being dramatic.” Seokjin is. Sort of. It isn't that big of a deal, but it does fucking sting a little. “So. Why?”

 

“Look. No offense, hyung. It was like… between a rock and a hard place. So the decision came down to the fact that Yoongi is marginally scarier than you are.”

 

Seokjin stares a little. “What?”

 

“Not that—” and Taehyung squirms a little at Seokjin's rather bland expression. The one he'd unconsciously learned from Seo Taiji and which appears when he's honestly insulted. “Not that you're not scary too, hyung. Just… Yoongi-hyung is more scary and— oh Hecate, please don't kill us.”

 

“Seriously?” Seokjin rolls his eyes,”you're going to go with that?”

 

“It's the truth!” Taehyung's eyes dart wildly again. “And uhm. Well— also, I guess, Yoongi's plan was more interesting? Yours was kinda… really boring.”

 

“I'm not too sure if this is supposed to be insulting or trying to butter me up.”

 

“What?” Taehyung blinks, before he makes a noise of understanding. “Right, because your plan is what Yoongi likes, and Yoongi's plan is what you like, so that's kind of a backhanded compliment. Got it.”

 

“Yes,” Seokjin glances at the clock on his wall before frowning. He needs to speed this up. “Anyway, unintentional buttering up aside, I think you're still keeping something from me.”

 

“What? But why?!”

 

“Well, I'll have to admit that you're a pretty good liar, Taehyung. But Jeongguk is doing that weird breathing thing whenever he lies. And the back of his neck is all red too.”

 

Taehyung whips his head around, straining as best he can to look at Jeongguk, “Gukkie!”

 

“I'm sorry!” Jeongguk whines, as if he could have had any control of his reaction.

 

“So, are you going to finally tell me?” Seokjin folds his arms, tilting his head, even as Taehyung shakes his head wildly. “No?”

 

“Sorry, Jin-hyung. You and Yoongi might be scary, but the scariest is still Hyejung-noona.”

 

Seokjin finds that he can't really argue against that. But, “mmm… you know. I could totally take away both of your abilities to get hard for a week if you don't tell me what it is you're hiding.”

 

Both Taehyung and Jeongguk go very, very still. Taehyung gapes at Seokjin. “You wouldn't!”

 

“Wouldn't I?” Seokjin knows he's wearing his shit-eating expression now. The one that Yoongi says he has whenever he starts behaving a millennium younger than his actual age.

 

“No?” But Taehyung speaks with much less conviction now. “You… wouldn't. That's too mean for you. And we're your current favourites!”

 

Mostly because Seokjin still feels some residual guilt from the poacher incident one year before. Especially whenever Taehyung's leg acts up and then Jeongguk gets all guilty and moody. Still, he considers this statement. “You're right.”

 

Taehyung heaves a sigh of relief.

 

“One week is too long. Maybe a couple of days.”

 

Taehyung yelps indignantly, and meanwhile, Jeongguk buries his head into Taehyung's shoulder. “Fuck it, this is so not worth keeping a secret. Hyung, it's not that we chose Yoongi-hyung’s plan over yours. It's that we did both— OW! What was that for?!”

 

“For opening your big mouth. Which… don't get me wrong, I love it. Especially when you use it to kiss me.” And Seokjin has to hold back a groan at Taehyung's words. “But seriously, Hyejung-noona will kill us.”

 

“It's less than an hour before the party is supposed to end anyway.” Jeongguk huffs, glancing over at Seokjin again. “Jin-hyung and Yoongi-hyung already made their grand speeches. And besides, everything’s already ready upstairs. There's no reason for Jin-hyung to worry about anything now…”

 

Seokjin blinks at that before it all finally clicks. “Ah.”

 

“Ah, what?” And it's almost like a miracle that Yoongi appears now. A miracle, or very well-timed strategy. The familiar squints at Taehyung and Jeongguk for a moment, “...why are you holding these two brats here with an anchor spell?”

 

“Just needed to ask them something.” Seokjin smiles glacially. “We're done, they can go now.”

 

And with a snap of his fingers, both Taehyung and Jeongguk are free — which they find out mostly because the spell isn't holding them up anymore, and they both nearly topple over onto the ground before Jeongguk regains his footing and pulls Taehyung back upright.

 

Yoongi raises an eyebrow when Jeongguk and Taehyung open their mouth to complain, but one bland look from Seokjin makes them both clamp their mouths shut. Sort of. “Erm— right. We're just going. To go. Now.” Taehyung gives some sort of vague hand motions, even as Jeongguk grabs him, tugging him to go. In their haste, they nearly crash into a table filled with food. But thankfully, Jeongguk's superior reflexes save them both from contributing more to the world’s growing food wastage.

 

“Right.” Yoongi frowns as he watches them go. His eyebrows are doing that cute furrowing thing whenever he's puzzled. “That was weird.”

 

“Was it?” Seokjin replies airily. “I thought it was just them being up to their usual teenage shenanigans. Anyway, you brought the wine?”

 

“Mmm, yeah.” And Yoongi lifts up a bottle of wine, obviously only just wiped down, remnants of dust marks still trailing the glass.

 

“Great. Excellent. Just… put it down somewhere, and then let's… go.”

 

Yoongi looks back up where he'd been staring at the label of the bottle of wine, “huh? What? Go? Go where?”

 

“Upstairs.” Seokjin says impatiently, excitement throbbing in his veins now that he realizes that all the plans he'd made hadn't been tossed aside to waste. “On second thought, bring the wine along. It's too good of a year to give to these cretins.”

 

“Wait, what? Now?” Yoongi glances around, expression confused. “Our guests are still here.”

 

“I know,” Seokjin agrees, unable to help the amused huff when the look of confusion on Yoongi's face only deepens. “That's the fun part. I've always wanted to leave in the middle of a party. Especially one where there's lots of important people to potentially offend, but they can't say anything because I'm the guest of honour.”

 

Now Yoongi is the one practically dragging him by his wrist as they make their not so clandestine escape. But unfortunately, as they're nearing the door, someone deftly steps out in front of them, effectively blocking their way.

 

Seokjin blinks in surprise when he realize that the someone is actually two someones, and it's a bit surprising that neither Seokjin nor Yoongi had noticed them earlier, because the witch of Cheonju and her familiar don't exactly have the smallest presences in a room.

 

“SinB-sshi,” Seokjin tries his best to keep the surprise out of his voice. “Did you need something?”

 

“Hello, Jin-sshi,” and the two ladies glance at each other, unsuccessfully trying to hide wicked grins. “Oh, no. We just… wanted to congratulate you on your getting together.”

 

“Yes?” And Yoongi's voice is justifiably wary. “You've done so earlier.”

 

“Yes, it seems we did,” SinB giggles a little. “But we couldn't pass this to you, seeing as there were far too many eyes watching. Umji?”

 

And the girl that had been quietly standing by the witch of Cheonju’s side steps forward, a small box in her hands, which she hands over to Seokjin with a small wink.

 

“Thank you,” Seokjin's says automatically,  but he's more preoccupied magically scanning the contents of the box. And after a moment, his eyebrows shoot up. “This—”

 

“I devised it after getting together with Umji.” SinB says, entirely unsubtle with the hand she wraps around her familiar’s waist, fingers slipping underneath Umji’s shirt. “You probably have been using magic to deal with it, but trust me, this is far more effective.”

 

“I'll say,” Seokjin whistles a little, much to Yoongi's confusion. But Seokjin doesn't elaborate, simply tucking the box away into his pocket. “Thank you. I'll be sure to put this to good use.”

 

“Right now, I presume?” The witch of Cheonju smirks, but before either Seokjin or Yoongi can say anything, both her and her familiar have walked away.

 

“Right.” Yoongi looks perturbed by that whole interaction, even if he starts pulling Seokjin out through the exit of the main hall. “What did she give you?”

 

“Something useful that we can put to use in a moment.” Seokjin can't help but giggle a little.

 

“That's very informative.”

 

“Oh shut up. It's a charm to help deal with you and your lack of refractory periods. I've been using magic to help deal with, so I've always actually held back a little because otherwise I'd be dead tired in the morning. But now— woah!”

 

Yoongi is practically half hauling him up the stairs now, a single mindedness to his gaze that sets Seokjin off. And now, Seokjin can't stop giggling the whole way they race up the stairs, even after they've finished half staggering into their room. But maybe that's also maybe because Yoongi has pulled Seokjin into his arms, latching his lips onto Seokjin's neck, and because of the awkward angle thanks to the high collar Seokjin is wearing, it's actually kind of ticklish.

 

“Wait, wait, wait.” Seokjin laughs, trying to pull away from Yoongi a little and mostly failing because Yoongi has gotten ridiculously good at dealing with Seokjin's wiggling. “Yoongi—”

 

“I'll take your damn clothes off in a bit.” Yoongi half-growls, grabbing Seokjin's arms as he tries to slide out of Yoongi's hold yet again. “Foreplay is supposed to be 80% of the fun of sex anyway.”

 

“Wait. What? Where did you even get such a statistic?”

 

“Pulled it out from my ass, which I hope I'll be pulling other things out from it too,” Yoongi says, almost sweetly, and Seokjin can't even stifle that laugh.

 

“I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I'm a bad influence on you.” Seokjin’s eyes flutter a little when Yoongi's hands sneak under the waistband of his pants. And then he groans, shaking his head as he pulls himself back together with much difficulty. “No, wait. Wait. Yoongi, stop. It's not my clothes that's bothering me. I just want you to take a look around.”

 

Yoongi actually growls as he finally pulls his mouth away from Seokjin's neck. “What the fuck do you want me to look around for. It's just our room, looking like it always does— oh.”

 

“Yep.” Seokjin has to admit, despite his lack of micro-managing the setup, the Lee Clan had pretty much carried out his instructions to the letter. “Like it?”

 

Seokjin watches as Yoongi takes it all in: the bed, freshly made with the special 500 thread-count Egyptian cotton sateen sheets that Seokjin only ever uses on special occasions; the service cart filled to the brim with food, most of which are Yoongi's favourites, all preserved with some of Seokjin's best stasis charms; the bottle of wine slowly floating over to Seokjin's little writing table, joining the various bottles of liquor and wine and the various pairs of alcohol crucibles all lined up neatly on its surface; the small cabinet by the bed now well stocked with their favourite brand of condoms and lube, drawers pulled out to reveal new toys and instruments that Seokjin had bought online after a hysterical day of browsing, just in case Yoongi had wanted to get creative on their anniversary.

 

Seokjin watches as Yoongi's mouth opens, then closes, and opens again. And finally, what he settles for is a confused whine which makes Seokjin collapse into giggles again, wrapping his arms around his familiar from the back, leaning his cheek into Yoongi's hair.

 

“So, apparently,” Seokjin says quietly, voice almost a murmur. “The both of us approached the Lee Clans with individual plans for our anniversary. And it seems, we had the same idea.”

 

Yoongi doesn't look back, but he makes a small noise of disbelief.

 

“You know what I mean,” Seokjin grins into Yoongi's hair. “We both decided to plan what the perfect anniversary for each other would be. So, for me, a fussy party with everyone invited. And for you—”

 

“A quiet day, alone together in our room.” Yoongi finishes, “doing nothing but eating, sleeping and fucking.”

 

“I also stole Jae’s Netflix password if you get bored of doing the three options above.” Seokjin adds, and grins, expecting the sudden hunch of Yoongi's shoulders before they begin to shake in laughter.

 

“You're really something else, Jin-yah.” Yoongi turns around in Seokjin's hold, and Seokjin expects maybe a jab in his side, or a faked bite at his nose, something Yoongi would do when he's pretending to be annoyed at Seokjin. What he gets instead is an unexpected look of contemplation, and the small smirk with makes Yoongi's eyes sparkle like the stars. “But you've got me wrong there.”

 

And before Seokjin can ask, hands curl into the collar of his shirt, tugging him forward. “See, Jin-yah. I could never get bored of fucking you.”

 

~*~

 

Seokjin is just glad that he's a witch and knows a multitude of cleaning up charms, otherwise their bed would probably be the most disgusting mess in all existence right now.

 

Which is really great, because that means he can comfortably sprawl across it right now and not feel like a pig rolling about in mud. The clean cotton feels like a dream on his sensitive skin, comfort charms smoothing over his sore muscles, making him groan in relief. He stares a little at the discarded sex toy in the corner. They'd broken it earlier, during their first few rounds of sex.

 

(“Do you think I could get a refund for it? I mean, there's a lifetime warranty, but it's supposed to be so durable it could survive anything.”

 

“I'm pretty sure being shorted out by a witch releasing a huge blast of magical energy when he orgasmed hadn't factored into the product’s durability testing, Jin.”)

 

Yoongi is by Seokjin's writing table, replacing the bottle of wine that they'd used for their last round of sex. It had apparently been as good a year as rumours had boasted. Seokjin wouldn't know.

 

(“Fuck— Yoongi— fuck!” And he can't help but quiver, feeling the burn of alcohol leak through his asshole. “That fucking stings— ah… Ahh!”

 

Yoongi lifts his head after a moment, licking his lips. He looks more like a kitten after lapping up a bowl of milk, not like he'd just poured a good amount of wine into Seokjin's asshole before lapping and slurping it up like his throat was desert parched. “Mmm… delicious.”

 

“Fucker, at least let me have some too.”

 

“Oh, no.” And Seokjin gasps when more liquid is tipped into his hole, a hand massaging his thigh to try to get him to relax. “This is mine. All mine~”)

 

Seokjin must lose a few minutes though, because the next thing he knows, he jolts awake when the bed dips, and he's jostled because someone is settling down beside him.

 

“Tired?” Yoongi asks as he pulls his master into his arms, tangling their bare legs together. “Is SinB’s charm not working?”

 

“No,” Seokjin shakes his head, leaning his forehead against Yoongi's. “It's working fine. Otherwise I'd have been unconscious already. And sore all over too. And my dick would probably be dead. We went eight rounds of kinky sex in the past five hours.”

 

“Nine if you count what happened in the shower.”

 

“We rutted off each other like teenagers.”

 

Yoongi shrugs.

 

“Fine, nine rounds of marathon kinky sex in the past five hours. I'd probably have keeled over and died without the charm. But even then, it's like one in the morning. Of course I'd be sleepy.”

 

“Mmm.” Yoongi hums, arms pulling the both of them yet closer. “So you're saying that you want to rest a little?”

 

“What?” Seokjin raises an eyebrow. His skin still warms too fast at the places that Yoongi touches. “Are you telling me you don't want to rest?”

 

“Well, I want to,” but the way he shifts closer, pressing his lips to the side of Seokjin's mouth doesn't make match to his words. “But, you know… nine isn't a very nice number.”

 

Seokjin wants to snort, but it's a little bit hard with Yoongi moving his lips to Seokjin's jaw, nibbling at the skin. “Are you… uh… Are you saying you want to fuck one more time to make it a round number?”

 

“Are you opposed to it?” And Seokjin can't lie. He's not exactly opposed to it, but he's also not sure that he can last through another round of hard sex. “Hrm… what if I do all the work?”

 

Seokjin's eyes flicker up incredulously at Yoongi. “Really?” and after Yoongi nods, says, “it still freaks me out even after two hundred years, how hard you'd work with the right motivation.”

 

“It's called being economical.” Yoongi replies, slapping Seokjin's butt lightly. “Now, come on. Let's fuck and then we can sleep.”

 

But despite all this, Yoongi's touch is impossibly gentle as he slips a hand around Seokjin's waist, lips seeking the other's like a weary man searching from home.

 

He kisses Seokjin like a man who has gotten everything he's ever wanted right in his hands.

When they're done, Seokjin is a little breathless. But less because the kiss had been physically draining, and more because it feels like Yoongi had somehow stolen his breath away.

 

“Wait.” Seokjin says after a moment, because it's just dawned on him what Yoongi might be doing. “You're not going for kinky sex. Are you like… trying to make love to me or something?”

 

And Seokjin’d figured that Yoongi would pink and stutter and look away. What he doesn't expect is for Yoongi to smile, looking incredibly soft and incredibly fond, looking at Seokjin like he'd handpainted the stars and hung them out to dry in the sky or something as equally corny.

 

He says, “can't I? You're my lover now, after all.”

 

What he doesn't say: you're mine now, like I've always dreamed after all these years.

 

What they both understand: I love you, so, so much.

 

It shows when Yoongi traces his fingers over Seokjin's skin, as if an explorer charting fascinating new territory even though Yoongi probably knows every rise and bump of Seokjin's skin. It shows as he presses the lightest kisses against the marks littered upon Seokjin's skin, a million, again and again, because Yoongi can't quite believe that Seokjin is his to mark.

 

And it shows when Yoongi finally pushes in, after what feels like an eternity of preparation; and even despite the care Yoongi had taken earlier, Seokjin can't help but feel like he's shaking apart, being made undone by the fullness of the drag that's filling him up, burning him up from the inside.

 

It hits him along with the slight jerk that follows Yoongi's being fully seated in him; and it's overwhelming to say the least — faced with it all as they both tremble, shifting and waiting. It feels like that moment just right after you jump off the edge of a cliff, where gravity works strange and you just float, reality all confused, but it feels almost like you're flying.

 

Seokjin buries his face into Yoongi's neck as Yoongi begins to move. Vertigo hits, and then they fall.

 

Later, after they've tumbled through the air like a shooting star, white-hot as it burns on entry into the atmosphere; after Yoongi presses deep, Seokjin legs hitched up high upon his waist so that he can get to that spot one last time; after Seokjin has cried out Yoongi's name like a fervent wish to a deity and everything explodes, milky-white space dust of a supernova across his eyes, warmth seeping across his tummy and filling him up inside at the same time; and after a few lazy waves of a hand, and Yoongi has pulled out so that he can curl around Seokjin, clinging to him like a drowning man to a buoy, both of them about to fall fast asleep.

 

Later, after Seokjin presses his lips to Yoongi’s cheek and he lets loose the fondest grin, he lets his lips trail up to Yoongi's ear and whispers an ‘I love you too’.

 

~*~

 

“I… wow. Okay. Right. You know me, I normally commend Yoongi on his artistic work but— wow. Holy shit, Jin-Hyung. You look like a fucking leopard.”

 

Seokjin rubs the back of his neck, squinting at Taehyung blearily, having just woken up despite the fact that this is hardly acceptable behaviour for 4 o’clock in the afternoon. He licks his lips, “I will… reply to your comments in a second, or when my head doesn't feel so stuffed up with cotton wool. I'm going down to the pantry for tea. Join me?”

 

Taehyung never rejects his invitations for tea. But then, that might also be because Seokjin slips past Taehyung to hobble down the stairs without waiting for an answer. Taehyung kind of has no choice to follow, otherwise he'd end up standing alone in Seokjin's workshop like an idiot.

 

But still, the medium seems more than happy enough as he takes a sip of the chocolate tea that Seokjin pours for him. Even smacks his lips, making a contented sound as the hot liquid travels down his gullet, warming his belly.

 

“So,” Seokjin says as he pours his second cup of tea, feeling much more human. “What are you here so early for, Kim Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung's eyebrow rise. “It's four in the afternoon, hyung.”

 

But Seokjin just waves his hands as if he could shoo logic away. “Eh. Question still stands. Why are you here? Did something happen?”

 

“Why does something need to happen for me to come over? Do I need a reason to visit you, hyung?”

 

The way Taehyung says it is almost too glib. Seokjin takes another sip of his tea before smacking his lips. Damn, he does make a mean cup of tea. “So, you came over the day after mine and Yoongi's anniversary, knowing that me and Yoongi probably would be fu-fornicating the whole night before and you might see something you might not want to see?”

 

“I think you have me confused with Jeongguk, hyung.” Taehyung snorts, “plus, I'm pretty you and Yoongi-hyung fucked through into the morning.”

 

Seokjin shrugs.

 

“Also fornication isn't a much better term than fucking.”

 

Seokjin shrugs harder.

 

There's silence for a moment before Seokjin asks, “so how was your day? Where's Jimin and Jeongguk?”

 

“Ah, I spent the day with Jimin since he didn't have classes today. But he had to go home early for some family thing. And Jeongguk has classes the whole day, and I'm meeting him for dinner later. But, you know. I've got some time before that.”

 

Seokjin glances up at the clock even though he doesn't have to. Five minutes past four. “Indeed you do. What did you and Jimin do all day?”

 

It's not very noticeable if you don't know him, but Taehyung stiffens. “Ah… you know. Just the regular stuff we do. Not interesting. So what did you and Yoongi-hyung get up to last night?”

 

Taehyung has this thing where he doesn't like to be alone after sending a spirit off. He's never really talked to anyone about it, but both Jimin and Jeongguk have noticed and they've both flagged it out to Seokjin — individually, and at different times.

 

Taehyung doesn't know that Seokjin definitively knows this. He definitely doesn't know that Seokjin might have guessed what is the cause of Taehyung's need for companionship after sending a spirit off. It's not in any of the diaries, but Seokjin remembers a conversation with the medium who had written them, about how empty she'd feel after helping a spirit pass on.

 

“It's sort of an empty feeling, you know?” she'd said. “It could be just knowing someone you'd gotten to know won't be there anymore. But I don't know. Sometimes, it feels more than that. Like it's because I'd gotten so close to the gates of death in a way that no human alive should, it takes something away from me.”

 

“Makes sense, I guess.” She'd said after a moment, staring blankly into space. “You would feel like there would be nothing alive in this world after being so close to death, you know?”

 

Seokjin hadn't known. He still doesn't. He’d only made sure to make her promise to come visit him whenever she felt that way, promised to brew her a warm pot of whatever flavoured tea she wanted and to keep her company until that feeling had gone away.

 

But Taehyung isn't that great with asking for help when it comes to himself. And so Seokjin doesn't push further, even if they both know that Seokjin knows. “I need to make more luck charms,” he says instead.

 

Taehyung blinks, eyes wide over the rim of the teacup lifted to his lips. He puts the cup slowly back onto his saucer. “What?”

 

“I suddenly remembered. I have an order of luck charms to fulfil. I was planning to do it tomorrow, but since I'm already awake right now…” and he gets up, grabbing the pot and his teacup to bring with him. “You're welcome to join me if you want to.”

 

Taehyung is scrambling up after him within moments. He'd never pass up a chance to help Seokjin with his magic. It's not just Taehyung — Seokjin rarely lets anyone other than Yoongi help him with his magic, let alone a human who wouldn't be able to sense if he might be adding a drop too much to a potion towards a disaster.

 

(Definitely not Taehyung, who probably would still be adding drops even after the disaster had happened.)

 

Luckily, there are enough inane tasks in the making of certain things. Like charms. Charms are always good because they usually need to be attached to a physical container. And Taehyung is surprisingly decent with his hands, so Seokjin trusts him enough that he won't eviscerate himself with a carving knife and a couple pieces of wood to occupy his attention.

 

But first, “how's your leg doing, Taehyung?”

 

“Huh?” And Taehyung nearly smacks the dried shark that Seokjin had hung up a couple days ago off his hook, having gravitated to it in the few minutes it'd taken Seokjin to rummage around for his stash of spare wood pieces. “Er. Sorry. I mean, it's fine? Totally fine. Hasn't acted up in a week. The potion you gave me to drink during rainy season really works.”

 

Seokjin knows Taehyung is fine. He can sense it from where he's standing, the monitoring charms he'd quietly weaved in when he'd healed Taehyung's injury still working, well, like a charm. They tell him Taehyung is fine, and yet Seokjin can't still help but ask, because there's something deep inside Seokjin that still thinks the universe is going to fuck Kim Taehyung over even more because Kim Seokjin hadn't been hurt as much as he should have that night and even though Taehyung's leg had been fucked up, he hadn't died. Seokjin doesn't trust the universe to take just one previously mangled leg as balance, even if said leg still troubles Taehyung from time to time.

 

“Seriously, hyung. I don't know what's going inside that mind of yours most of the time, but is this that guilt tripping thing Hyejung-noona says you do? The thing you keep doing that you should really stop?”

 

“I'm not guilt tripping myself,” is Seokjin's too immediate response. Taehyung, having learnt bad habits from Jeongguk, rolls his eyes.

 

“Yeah, sure hyung. We'll pretend the first class suite wasn't a thing.”

 

“That wasn't because of guilt. I just wanted you two to have a nice time.”

 

That's an utter lie. But, to be far, the suite incident hadn't just been guilt over Taehyung. It had been guilt over both Taehyung and Jeongguk.

 

Seokjin hadn't been kidding when he'd promised himself to get anything Jeongguk wanted after lying to him during the poacher incident. At first, Jeongguk had been pretty bewildered whenever Seokjin had just… given him everything he'd asked for — dinner treats, free taxi rides, a new laptop, a new set of games, a new gaming console, new gym equipment... And after a while, the little shit had begun to start asking for things out of sheer morbid curiosity to see how far he could push this new found power of his. Luckily, Hyejung had figured out what’d been going on before Jeongguk could ask for his own penthouse and personal jet. She'd twisted his ear until he'd promise to stop taking advantage of Seokjin’s “stupid guilt complex or so help her gods”.

 

Nine months down the line, Seokjin had been feeling good about himself, telling anyone who would listen that his soft spot for Taehyung and Jeongguk had been relegated to a normal softness rather than the mushy mess it had been. And then, Jeongguk had burst into the shop all panicky, because he'd suddenly realized that his and Taehyung's first anniversary was in a week and he had no idea what to do.

 

Yoongi had suggested sex toys. Seokjin had swatted him and suggested a romantic dinner out at an expensive restaurant. Yoongi then told Seokjin that he had such dated taste. And Seokjin had shot back that Yoongi’s suggestion was far too raunchy for it to have come from Jeongguk anyway. And then Yoongi had shot back that Seokjin's idea had the same problem in addition with being dated, and kids these days probably would just skip the nice dinner and maybe rent a hotel room where they could get privacy away from their parents and siblings and just get on with the—

 

At that point, Seokjin had cast a silencing spell on Yoongi (which he paid for dearly with the lack of sex that night, Yoongi grumpily lying down on his chest the whole night as a cat), and so both of them didn't miss the sudden light in Jeongguk's eyes.

 

“Did you like the idea of getting a hotel room for the night?” Seokjin had hazarded, and had watched as Jeongguk winced, scratching his head.

 

“Erm, I mean. It's a nice idea.” A sigh. “But it's too expensive. Especially at such short notice.”

 

Seokjin’s stomach had done a soft of sinking flip. And before anyone could have blinked, he had a hand on Jeongguk's shoulder, a probably terrifyingly determined expression on his face. “Don't worry, Guk-yah. Hyung will take care of this.”

 

Jeongguk had been very naive to think Seokjin would have gotten him and Taehyung just any old hotel room.

 

“We'd have had a nice time in just a regular, clean hotel room. The first class suite with the complementary 600 000 won champagne was overkill.”

 

“But the sheets were nice, remember? And the Jacuzzi.”

 

“Well, yes. The Jacuzzi was… nice.” And then Taehyung shakes his head out of whatever memory he had been remembering and clears his throat. “But yes, guilt tripping thing. Stop. I won't lie, it's fun getting free stuff from you, but I don't like it if it means you're feeling bad, hyung. Alright? I'd prefer you to be happy.”

 

“I am happy.” Seokjin replies almost petulantly, which makes Taehyung laugh for whatever reason.

 

“Oh, please. You know what I mean, hyung.”

 

Seokjin really doesn't. But Taehyung decides that it's a good time for a hug, practically launching himself into Seokjin's arms. Whatever breath that had been in Seokjin's lungs to use to protest is pretty much knocked out, so there isn't much else Seokjin can do but to return the hug. And whatever Seokjin might have said, having Taehyung in his arms, smiling, safe and still alive, it soothes Seokjin more than he will dare to admit.

 

“Okay, if the two of you are done cheating on your boyfriends, Hoseok is coming upstairs, and it sounds like he's in a bit of a hurry.”

 

“Excuse you, you were the one flirting with that female cat in the alley just the other day.” Seokjin says, just as Taehyung pulls out of the hug, having spotted Yoongi as he'd climbed up to Seokjin's work table.

 

“Good morning, Lucifer!”

 

Yoongi just looks amused — which means his black ears and tail flicking about almost condescendingly. But before Seokjin can say more, the sound of footsteps grow, and a familiar head pops out from the stairway.

 

“Jin-hyung! Did you see the messages— eh? Taehyung you're here too? Oh, good we wanted to call you too, maybe. After we consulted Jin-hyung at leas— oh, holy shit, hyung. You look like you were mauled by a wild animal.

 

Seokjin and Yoongi glance at each other, “well—”

 

“Okay, no.” Hoseok holds up a hand, even as Taehyung giggles like a child. “Don't need to know.”

 

“You sure?” Seokjin raises an eyebrow, setting Taehyung off into a harder round of giggles. “You seem very concerned for my well-being. Letting me explain might ease your mind.”

 

“No, it's okay— hyung, you haven't checked your phone messages, right?” Hoseok says, a little desperately. “There's a bit of an emergency.”

 

Seokjin grins a little, but he shakes his head, finally taking pity on Hoseok. “No, I came out when Yoongi woke me up by slapping my butt and telling me Taehyung had come in the shop. Barely had time to shove on some clothes before he came upstairs, let alone stare at my phone. Do you want me to go get it?”

 

“No, it's fine. I can just explain here.” Hoseok pulls out a stack of police files from his messenger bag as he moves over to Seokjin’s work table, beginning to lay the contents out for everyone to see. “Or rather, the pictures are pretty much self explanatory.”

 

They are: in the take one look and then practically recoil in disgust kind of way. “Oh my goddess, protect me. Fuck. I'll even invoke Jesus at this point. What the shit is that?”

 

Taehyung has leaned over and is frozen in position. He's staring at the images, wide eyed with what seems like terrified fascination. “Is that skin? Oh my god, it's skin? Like a literal skin suit? Oh holy shit, this other picture is the body it got peeled from? How the shit did this happen?”

 

Hoseok is carefully not looking at the pictures. “Yeah, well. We don't have a clue. That's why I'm here, showing you disgusting photos. In hopes that Jin-hyung might know what type of supernatural creature might do this.”

 

Seokjin hazards another look at the photos before pulling back, making another face. “First thought is demon. Second is poltergeist. Unghh… Yoongi, you got any idea?”

 

“Huh.” And all three of them startle, because they'd been so fixated on the photographs, none of them had realized that Yoongi had shifted into his human form, sitting cross-legged on the table. “Same guess as Seokjin. But this is a very 19th century thing to do. Also the thing demons did was keep the human skins so they could wear it out in disguise, but internationalization happened and glamours are much more convenient nowadays. So, this is more likely to be a poltergeist.”

 

Like a timed moment in a cartoon, Yoongi, Seokjin and Hoseok all turn their heads to look at Taehyung, who just says, “um.”

 

Yoongi snorts, propping his head up onto his palm. “You're supposed to say that if it's a poltergeist then it's right down your alley. But it's alright. You're cute, so we forgive you.”

 

Taehyung looks momentarily tongue-tied, which amuses Seokjin more than it should. And so grinning, he catches Taehyung's attention, tilting his head towards the pictures. “So it's not exactly the way I had planned on distracting you, but what do you say? Help me solve this case?”

 

“Oh! Erm— I… yeah.” Taehyung blinks before he takes in a big breath, mouth widening into a bright smile. “Yeah. ‘Course! Kim Taehyung, medium extraordinaire, ready to help solve this case!”

 

And maybe Seokjin would have high fived Taehyung or something equally corny, but at that moment Yoongi straightens, a look of surprise clear on his face. “Jin, we have a customer.”

 

“What? Right now?” Seokjin looks down at himself. “Do you think they will notice if I greet them like this?”

 

“Do I think they'll notice that you're only in a rumpled robe and have hickeys all over your body?” Yoongi says as if that would answer the question, and then he remembers who he's talking to. “Yes, Jin. I'm pretty sure they will. And it's a new customer too. So let's try not to scare them away.”

 

“Damn.” Seokjin sighs before lifting a hand to touch his earring. There's a sort of ripple, and then Seokjin is suddenly dressed as immaculately as he usually is, not a hint of a love bite on his skin. “Thank Hecate for glamours.”

 

Hoseok frowns. “Hey. Why is it you don't put on one of those whenever we visit?”

 

“Because it's itchy?” Seokjin rubs the back of his neck, shifting uncomfortably as if to prove his point. “Also, it's far more amusing to see you and Jeongguk squirm whenever you see physical evidence that I had sex with Yoongi.”

 

Hoseok sighs.

 

“Okay. Not to disturb your fun, but the customer is already poking around in the main hall downstairs. We probably should attend to him before he breaks something.” And Yoongi has shifted back into the form of a cat — a gray coloured Manx today. And it makes Seokjin wonder what sort of customer it is that Yoongi would shift into a Manx. “I'll go downstairs first. Make sure he doesn't accidentally set off a curse or something.”

 

Seokjin watches as his familiar hops off the table, disappearing down the stairwell before turning to Hoseok and Taehyung. “Well, I'll come back and help with this once I'm done. If you guys are still here at least.”

 

“Mm. We'll relocate to the spare room first. If Daniel calls then we'll head off, and maybe conference call you when we're at the site.” Hoseok, the sweetheart, is already packing up the photos, motioning for Taehyung to help. “But good luck with your customer. Taehyung and I will try to figure what we can in the meantime.”

 

“Yeah, don't worry, hyung we've got this all covered.” Taehyung gives Seokjin a thumbs up, even though he's literally picking up the photos carefully, as if they might bite.

 

Seokjin chuckles a little as he gives them a little wave, going down the stairs. He'll leave them to it though, trusting that they'll be fine. He has another role to play now anyway.

 

It's a young boy this time, with black hair and too wide eyes, carrying a ratty little backpack he holds too close to his body even has he's bending down to pat an obnoxious little Manx.

 

But when the boy straightens, there's a look in his eyes that is too old for his body, and knowledge in it that doesn't belong. And after a while, he tilts his head, questioning. “Are you the witch of Seoul? The one whose shop never closes for the likes of our kind?”

 

And Seokjin nods, because that is the simple truth. “Yes,” he says, even as his familiar walks back by his side, tail curling around his legs. “My name is Jin, and welcome to MANA 주(스)세요.”

 

Chapter Text

There are cicadas chirping outside, a constant herald to the season of summer. Thankfully, it's almost impossibly cool inside the shop. Seokjin doesn't think he could have dealt with both the heat and the noise — he's always thought the sound of cicadas makes the forest sound like it's screaming.

 

He's waiting, like he always is. Although, this time he's not sure what he's waiting for. The knowledge of this doesn't worry him though. He's long accepted that things will happen whenever they do. It's how he tends to keep a straight face when something surprising happens.

 

(Other than when confronted with a jump scare of course. But Seokjin isn't talking about those sort of surprises.)

 

“Hey. Sorry, did you wait long?” A voice sounds by his ear — a presence where there had been none earlier.

 

Seokjin doesn't move his gaze, only closes his eyes, gathering himself. “A little, but that's alright. I was waiting anyway. I think. Come, sit.”

 

There's a little snort, but then there's the sound of a chair being dragged, so Seokjin presumes his request is being followed. “Hah, you're more and more cryptic these days, hyung. Is it a sign of old age?”

 

Seokjin opens his eyes, turning his head to the sight of an all-too familiar boxy grin. There's deepened lines in his face, and a slight shimmer when he runs a hand through his hair, giving away the presence of silver roots. But as they've always given him flak for, Taehyung looks ridiculously youthful for a man already past the age of 50.

 

There's a moment, almost too surreal, like the world is about to tip onto its side. But then Seokjin sucks in a breath and says, “excuse you? Are you really making old man jokes? You? Whenever people see us together, they keep asking me if I'm your son. As if you'd be able to give birth to a son as good-looking as me.”

 

“Hey. I would totally give birth to a son as good-looking as you.” Taehyung pats his belly and then his hips before saying, “as you can tell, this is all first class birthing equipment if someone ever made a way for men to have a womb.”

 

Seokjin rolls his eyes and doesn't say that there has always been a way. Just that it's really messy, forbidden, painful and usually ends in deaths. Seokjin doesn't like to think about it. “Hecate, your mouth spouts weirder and weirder things each day that passes.”

 

Taehyung laughs, the sound warm and deep, “I try.”

 

“Just drink your tea.” Seokjin rolls his eyes, primly picking up his own cup to drink. And Taehyung laughs yet again.

 

They sip in companionable silence for a while, enjoying the tea Seokjin had brewed. But never having been one to keep quiet for too long, Taehyung breaks it after three sips of his tea. “So, it's been a while, huh?”

 

Seokjin's lips quirk a little, but there's a slight wistfulness in his eyes, “not exactly. But long enough. Enough that there's been quite a bit of change.”

 

“Oh?” Taehyung straightens, and there's the slightest hint of unease now on his face. “Is… everyone alright?”

 

Seokjin blinks in confusion before he smiles, shaking his head. “Oh, no. Everyone's fine. Great in fact.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yeah.” Seokjin nods, thinking a little. “Jimin and Jisoo just went for a new class the other day. Or rather Jisoo went for a new class and dragged Jimin along. They went for flower arrangement. Can you believe it?”

 

Taehyung snorts, “and let me guess, Jimin spent the entire class actually doing the activity seriously, while Jisoo ended up gossiping more than anything else.”

 

“Like they always do.” Seokjin snorts, “Jimin actually kind of fell in love with it. He made me set him up with a couple of florists and he's been shoving his creations at anyone who is naive enough to ask about them.”

 

Taehyung looks over at a small white vase near the window sink and the oddly asymmetrical bamboo and lily arrangement sticking out from it. “Sounds like first hand experience.”

 

“Actually, that's the one Jihu made. She followed her parents to this one because Jimin has been complaining about his back.” Seokjin chuckles, “I don't see her very much nowadays. She’s pretty busy with managing all the locations of Janggan Mandujib these days.”

 

“So she's fully taken over? Didn't she just turn 23?”

 

“Yeah, graduated early. High honours too.”

 

“Damn,” Taehyung leans back, impressed. “Well, she is her father's daughter after all.”

 

“She's definitely more like Jimin. Except for the fact she never gets off her tab. Just like her mother.”

 

“And the fact she knows everyone who is anyone, and any gossip worth knowing. Which reminds me, how is Hosung? Any progress with that crush of his?”

 

“Hecate, he's still stinking every inter-clan meeting with UST, making googly eyes at that Park Clan boy. You'd have thought his father was Jeongguk, not Hobi.”

 

“To be fair, Hoseok didn't start showing how much game he had until his thirties. But wow,” Taehyung whistles, “I was so glad me and Guk had moved out by then, because the complaints Jae had whenever we went over for dinner. Man, they were wild.”

 

“I had to extract some weird dildo from Junhong’s ass while Hyerin and Hoseok stood by and laughed, Taehyung. I know plenty how wild they were.” Seokjin says dryly.

“Oh right, I'd forgotten about that.” Taehyung chuckles before his expression falls a little. “It's still too bad that… they didn't have more years together.”

 

Seokjin sucks in a breath at that, hands curling into his lap. “Mmm…” Seokjin agrees. Even after so long, thinking about it still makes the anger burn bright. He can still picture the day, watching as the light had faded from Hoseok’s gaze right before his eyes. “I don't think Junhong and Hyerin will ever get over it. I mean, sure, Junhong is used to losing people to the years, being an immortal like Hyosang. But well…”

 

“Not like that.” Taehyung breathes out, “for what it's worth, he's at peace now.”

 

“I know.” They'd done a risky ritual back then after all, so that Hoseok could say goodbye to his family — his lovers and all his children.  

 

“No— I meant—” and Taehyung shakes his head then, glancing over at Seokjin. “Nevermind. Yes. His children doing well?”

 

“All fifteen of them.” Seokjin reports, “Jaekwan’ll be graduating from grade school this year. Oh! And Mina passed her bar exam just last week.”

 

Taehyung grins, “wow. That's… She's always wanted that, to become a lawyer to help represent supernatural creatures in court.”

 

“Well, she's discovered it's mostly grunt work, and filling out a lot of insurance forms for accidental supernatural damage. But she still seems as enthused as ever.”

 

“Man… to think that's the same cute, little Mina who used to body slam into me to ask me to do her pigtails.” Taehyung sighs, “they all grow up so fast.”

 

Seokjin gives Taehyung a look. “Wow, I can't imagine how that would feel like.”

 

“And wow that was really bitter, hyung.” Taehyung chuckles, “it's not our fault we have to something as necessary as aging.”

 

“Mmm… doesn't stop me from blaming you guys though.”

 

“No, it doesn't.” Taehyung agrees with a smile, “but the Lee Clan are okay.”

 

“More than okay. They're fantastic. It's why Yoongi and I decided it would be the best time to leave.”

 

Taehyung stills, his cup pausing mid-way to his lips, and slowly, he places it back down with a click. “...You've talked about closing MANA before, but somehow I've never taken it seriously.”

 

There's a small, wry smile on Seokjin's face. “You've heard stories about witches before I'm sure. Witches that stay in one place tend to get killed.”

 

“Those tend to be bad witches though.”

 

“You'd have to make the witches bad to justify killing them.” Is Seokjin's quiet but truthful reply. “Not all of them, but enough of them.”

 

Taehyung is quiet for a long, long time. And then he finally looks up, a resigned but peaceful expression in his eyes. And Seokjin almost figures Taehyung would just say something sentimental, but what Taehyung says instead is, “please tell me that the stuff you told Hobi-hyung about Hansel and Gretel is true and not some elaborate joke just to scare him.”

 

Seokjin blinks before he bursts out into a laugh, “seriously?”

 

“Seriously,” Taehyung nods, “because I was just as terrified by the story as he was. If it's all been an elaborate joke, I might just have to disown you, hyung.”

 

“Well, luckily you're not going to need to figure out the logistics on how to do that, because that story is true. The witch in Hansel and Gretel really was a dark witch, and hunters did save the two kids.” Seokjin grins in amusement, and after a while, they're both laughing yet again.

 

“Right, so everyone is okay and you're going to be closing MANA.” Taehyung says once the giggles have (mostly) died down. “Have you told them all yet?”

 

“I—” Seokjin sighs, “yeah. I mean, they realized after a while that we really weren't joking about leaving. So they've sort of accepted it. Even Haru. Although, I've lost count of the number of times she's tried to convince us not to leave.”

 

“And it didn't work?” Taehyung raises an eyebrow, intrigued.

 

“It worked. For… a while.” Haru is well-known for being even more absurdly commanding than her mother was. “But, well, we've already dallied way longer than we should have.”

 

“Mmm.” Taehyung nods, before his eyes meet Seokjin's, expression terrifyingly thoughtful. “It was for Jeongguk wasn't it?”

 

“...What?”

 

“The reason why you stayed so long.” Taehyung says simply, “you told me this before actually. All those years ago when you first told me I was a medium. I didn't think much of it back then. But you stayed because werewolves have statistically short lives and you wanted to make sure that Jeongguk would live a full and long one.”

 

There's no point denying it. “A lot of it was the Lee Clan and… you, of course. But… yes. You're right.”

 

“Mmm… you're not going to do it for Seunghun?”

 

Seokjin tenses a little.

 

Seunghun is the young werewolf that Haru had adopted after they'd found him wandering around the streets at night when he was eight years old. Seokjin, Yoongi, Jeongguk and Taehyung had all tried to be fair and equal to all the children and grandchildren born and adopted into the Lee Clan, but there is no denying that the four of them had taken a special shine to Seunghun.

 

“I… can't.” Seokjin finally says, fingers digging into the material of his pants. “I wish I could… but I can't.”

 

Most would see his words selfish, thinking Seokjin running away because he needed to protect himself more. Taehyung knows better, “this is one of those… the universe would go bonkers if you stayed things isn't it?”

 

Seokjin’s silence is answer enough.

 

Taehyung sighs, looking up. “That sucks. But… you'll figure it out. Right, hyung?”

 

Seokjin does have a plan figured out. But it's a plan with a lot of what-ifs and maybes and could bes, and it's a plan that hinges a lot on things that Seokjin can't control. So he only shrugs before he looks away, “...how's Jeongguk?”

 

Taehyung doesn't even seem phased by the change of topic. “Hmm… depends.”

 

“Depends? On?”

 

“Whether you're still pretending that I'm not already dead, of course.”

 

A beat. A pause. And then a sigh.

 

“You could have clued me in,” Seokjin grumbles, giving Taehyung the stink eye. “I wasn't sure and I didn't want you to panic. You'd have destabilised the dream.”

 

“I know,” Taehyung laughs. “I remember. But it was fun seeing you squirm a little.”

 

“I squirm plenty whenever I'm with my teacher. You just always never stayed around to see it.”

 

“Can you really blame me?” Taehyung snorts, “being in the vicinity of the two of you together is like asking to become collateral damage.”

 

“We have plenty enough control that we wouldn't drag anyone into our fights.”

 

“Uhuh.”

 

Seokjin can tell that Taehyung is thinking about the toad incident. “That was one time!”

 

“Uhuh.” Taehyung smirks a little. “Tell that to Seungkwan.”  

 

Seokjin sighs. “One time,” he mumbles yet again under his breath.

 

“Anyway,” Taehyung takes pity on him, changing the topic. “Seems like this dream is pretty stable, even though I know that I'm already dead. I guess you could count our experiments a success?”

 

Seokjin takes in a small, hesitant breath. “I suppose you could…”

 

“I'm sensing a ‘but'.”

 

“But,” and Seokjin huffs a little there, “for one thing, the stability of this dream could be because of your spirit's natural ability to traverse into limbo as a medium. Other spirits may not be able to do so so easily. And second—”

 

“You have no idea if this is actually real. If I'm—” and Taehyung gestures at himself, “—actually real. Or just a figment of your imagination.”

 

“A very convincing one,” Seokjin allows. “But magic has always allowed me to do rather marvellous things.”

 

“Except confirm that this dream is real.” Taehyung chuckles pushing his chair back, legs swinging back and forth. And it would have been a rather strange sight, seeing a nearly fifty year old man do it, except Taehyung isn't fifty anymore. His hair is dark and messy like he hadn't bothered doing much but run his hand through it right after getting out of bed; the lines missing from his face as he smiles up at Seokjin. The only thing that is the same is the bright twinkle in his eyes.

 

“Yeah.” Seokjin answers with a fond smile. He remembers the outfit Taehyung is wearing — he'd worn it the day Seokjin had told him he was a medium. “Kinda hard when my only way of telling is the one in doubt after all.”

 

Taehyung sighs at that, shifting in his seat. “Mm. I suppose.”

 

They sit in silence for the longest time, and Seokjin counts the seconds before he turns to raise an eyebrow. “Well? Spit it out?”

 

And Taehyung bursts out like he's been holding back a dam. Seems like death really doesn't change a person after all. “I'm just— I just wanted to tell you that Jeongguk is much happier now. No more pain, no more worrying that he might accidentally kill someone while he's in his other form. But I— I suppose it doesn't really make a difference even if I do.”

 

And Seokjin's eyes soften, even as he reaches out, hand squeezing Taehyung's arm. “Hey. That's… that's really great. It's… it's a relief to hear that even if I can't confirm for sure if it's true or not. So… don't blame yourself for not being able to help me all the way for our experiments, alright?”

 

“I didn't say anything about that.” But Taehyung’s voice is so weak, it doesn't even fool himself. “I just… don't want you to be sad, hyung.”

 

“And I'm not,” Seokjin's hand automatically goes up to ruffle Taehyung's hair. He suddenly realized he hadn't done it in a while, probably unconsciously taking note of Taehyung's older age as him being less welcoming of hair ruffles. “I've lived through the lifetimes of plenty of people, Taehyung. If I didn't know how to deal with it, I'd always be a mourning, depressed mess.”

 

“Maybe you are and you're just really good at hiding it— ow. Okay, okay. Got it.” Taehyung sighs, “but it's still kind of sad if you think about it.”

 

“Taehyung, you can't blame yourself for dying. I mean, sure, 82 years old is a little young in this day and age, but no one was surprised when you passed a few days after Jeongguk did.”

 

“What? No, no. Hecate, hyung. I'm not blaming myself for dying. I'm just saying it's a bit of a shame because we got so close to figuring this spirit dream communication thing, and you've got a really stable session right now, but now you might never ever prove if it’s really working or not.”

 

“Well, I wouldn't say never.”

 

Taehyung had gotten much better over the years with decoding vague and cryptic conversation, if only because he’d been subjected to it for a ridiculous amount over the years. Still, he squints at Seokjin. “I feel like you're hinting at something. Are you hinting at something?”

 

“Hecate. Yes, Taehyung. I am hinting at something.” Seokjin shakes his head, “after the next two days are over, the first thing Yoongi and I are going to do is check out this rumour in Las Vegas — about a young boy putting on some kind of spirit show and the special effects being very convincing.”

 

“Huh.” Taehyung leans forward, tapping his fingers in the table. “That's fast. It's been, what? A year since my death?”

 

“Oh you…” Seokjin’s eyebrow furrows, “does time pass the same in death?”

 

“What?” Taehyung blinks before he shrugs. “Dunno. Maybe it does, but I've totally lost track. Nah. I did the maths. Because you said Jaekwan was graduating from grade school. And he was 12 last year, so that means a year must have passed. But… A year. That's pretty fast for a medium to