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devil don't you fool me

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apart from the ritual rising and setting of the sun, there’s little that goes on in their small, cozy farm town. yoongi’s father is a fisherman and yoongi’s mother runs the family deli. everyone’s existence is quiet where he lives, but his seems particularly quaint. when it’s nice out and his father is in a good enough mood for it, he might take yoongi out on the water with him. they’ll clamber inside the boat and drift out further than yoongi thought the sea could expand, and it’s only at these times does he realize there is more to life than anything his seventeen years spent living in this rural community could ever hope to provide him.

 

putting it all into perspective is a bit difficult, though, because he doesn’t have anything to hold his meagre experience to. logically, he knows that there must be something beyond what he’s been born into, what he’s been raised up in (or, at least, this is what he chants to himself to rest easy at nights.) it’s this little bit of intuitiveness that has the confines of his mind opened up just a bit wider than his peers, or even his parents.

 

he doesn’t know why he seems to be the only one blessed with such a level of critical thinking, of tolerance. it places something heavy on his shoulders - something that smells and feels and tastes and sounds too much like a burden. he avoids the other kids his age; no one is a stranger to their lunchroom chatter and their locker room talk, but if anyone else is bothered by it, yoongi can’t tell. perhaps this has made him a bit of an outsider, he would say. preferring to stick to the shadows and let his skin bask in the moonlight rather than the overwhelming heat of the sun does not bode well for one born into farm country, where days are bright and laughter is raucous. his ears have always been sensitive, anyways.

 

the teasing isn’t too bad. it just makes it a bit difficult to do partner work at school, or to have someone to confide in that isn’t his reflection, or battle the crippling loneliness that seems to strike only when he’s at his loneliest in the dead of night. but all of these are things he can live with, so he doesn’t complain.

 

in any event, the kids don’t actually harass him. not directly.

 

not like they do to him.

 

there’s a kid that had moved in next door to yoongi, about a month ago. it was clear he was new, that much was sure. the brightness in his eyes and the skip in his step had yoongi thinking he would fit right in with the children their year. he was wrong.

 

the first time it happened, they called it a seizure.

 

something tells yoongi that it hadn’t been a seizure.

 

they’d been reading in class - something that couldn’t have possibly hoped to catch his interest. the room had been blanketed in an odd sense of tranquility that was hard to come by in their boisterous classroom, and maybe that should have been the first clue. if he was counting, then the second clue definitely came in the drastic change in temperature. their coastal town rarely experienced freak weather, and a bone chilling draft in the middle of june was definitely a tip-off. one second yoongi was pulling his cardigan just a little bit tighter over his shoulders and the next, he was ogling the sight of the boy collapsed on the ground, convulsing next to his desk.

 

immediately, students had swarmed all about the boy in a great outcry of not concern, but a collective hunger for excitement. there were only so many happenings in their rural community, and a student dropping dead was far more compelling than reading a selection about the importance of irrigation systems.

yoongi felt this hunger, he believes, most intensely out of all of his peers. while the students around them floundered with urges of rebellion without caring to realize why they may be feeling this way, yoongi knew that this town wasn’t enough, maybe even seoul wasn’t enough. the universe has secrets, vast and varied and just waiting for someone to stumble upon them when they happen to be offered up. they don’t come by often and they aren’t always obvious, but if one is lucky enough to spot it, they should pursue that secret with all they can muster. somehow, someway, this boy drew yoongi in like a secret - like all the secrets yoongi had been looking for in his dusty, mildewed town.

 

so he’d risen from his seat and gravitated towards the boy like a moth to flame, parting the crowd of people surrounding him like how his father’s fisherline would slice through the waves. he cast his line as he caught sight of the boy’s face - nothing like his usual easygoing, sun kissed complexion. no, his pallor had been frighteningly insipid, almost as pale as the white of his eyes which seemed to focus on yoongi alone.

 

the mindless eagerness of the mass to catch a glimpse of the boy was soon quelled when he began to speak in tongues.

 

things yoongi had only ever heard in dreams, in far off places he’s not sure where he learned to conjure up. thinking back, it was quite frightening. not the act of the chanting itself, but how yoongi never faltered. the boy’s back arched up off the ground, his mouth moving with a mind of its own, and he spoke with more voices than just his own; but yoongi hadn’t scuttled back like the rest of his peers. he had stood his ground and stared at the boy, even when the boy’s head snapped towards him and his chanting grew faster and his arms reached out to snatch at his ankles. no, yoongi had merely blinked, transfixed by the oddity, and that’s what scared him the most.

 

eventually, though, the situation had calmed down. the boy hadn’t slowly come down from wherever he was, but instead shot up from his sprawl on the floor like he was breaking the surface of water, flailing and gasping for air like a fish.

 

they’d made eye contact, and yoongi knew he’d caught him hook, line, and sinker.



;



from that day onwards, yoongi was drawn to the boy next door. the boy who only came outside to play under the watchful gaze of the moon, the boy who also struggled with partnerwork, just like him. the boy who had spoken to him in guttural hymn-like tongues. the boy who had stared at him with his cold, dead, white eyes like yoongi was something worth looking through that film for.

 

their town isn’t fond of the boy. it was to be expected - outsiders weren’t fancied much, so his family’s arrival was already predestined for ostracization. the boy is raised by a single mother, as well, which only built the wall up higher between their household and the rest of the community. from what yoongi could tell, he’s generally unruffled by everyone else’s predispositions, which is quite refreshing. yoongi appreciates this about him.

 

perhaps this is the reason why yoongi doesn’t fear him. the boy pays no mind to the teasing, the aversion, the exclusion. if anything, he prefers to work alone. (somewhere small inside him, yoongi wonders if he’d want to work alone together.) he is comfortable in his role as the town pariah which shrouds it all in an air of normalcy. gone were the days when people would excitedly question what region he’d moved from, or how old he was, or if he knew how to play kickball. to their community, it seems as if those days had never existed in the first place.

 

yoongi can pull an instance of this from his memory. he’d been at the dinner table. his father had come home early from the bar he frequented after work, and his mother had cooked a lovely dinner of steamed snapper and vegetables. the fish was tedious to eat, though. with each bone he picked out of the flesh, another took residence in the crook of space between his two front teeth.

 

“y’know,” his father began, mouth open and fish bits flying everywhere, “i saw that boy next door, when i was gettin’ in. what business he got out in the dark? at this time a’ night? never liked him.”

 

“never,” yoongi’s mother agrees.

 

“a kid out this late can only be up to one thing - trouble. y’hear that, yoongi? stay away from him. he’ll bring you nothin’ but trouble.”

 

but, yoongi wanted to argue. when he first moved in, you’d said he looks young, healthy. you’d said he looks strong. you’d said i should bring over a plate of cookies with mom to go and greet the new neighbors. you’d said i should make a friend.

 

instead of protesting like he’d wanted to, yoongi had kept silent. he had nodded and kept his eyes trained on where his fingers sat picking at the tiny, translucent fishbones until his cuticles beaded a brilliant red.



;



yoongi doesn’t like to think about the actual first time they met as being the first time they met. it was brief and jarring, and something he is still to this day convinced his mind has conjured up in a cruel mockery of a joke.

 

june is hot, hot, hot. the heat seeps through the floorboards and in between the cracks of the wooden panelling and rises up into the attic, where he lays fitful, tangled up in the mess of his covers. they’re all soaked through with sweat and yoongi cannot take it anymore. it makes him feel grimy, more than the perpetual state of stickiness he’s in. he makes the executive decision that he won’t deal with it any longer and throws the cotton sheet off of his body, taking care to step out of bed with footfalls as light as air. their house is handbuilt, old, and speaks like it has a mouth of its own.

 

he crawls his way out of his room and past his parents’ chambers, down the hall and to the stairs, where he hops on the sturdy spots he’s felt out over years of sneaking out. sometimes he seeks a brand of solitude only the moon can provide him.

 

shoes aren’t much of a concern, so he leaves them at the door and heads out on the familiar path he’s trekked more times than he cares to remember. past the side of his house, down the dirt pathway, take a left at the oak tree and head straight from there - yoongi’s ribcage loosens up with every footfall. the saltier the air gets, the clearer he can breathe, and he finally expels all the air from his lungs in a great whoosh once the shoreline is in sight.

 

walking along the beach under the pale moonlight is a practice he’s taken to in the dead of night, when he’s too wired to even hope for sleep. (or, when his dreams crawl under his skin and make a nest there.) growing up with the marine life of the sea has granted him an odd sort of connection with the water, its pulses, its waves, and maybe this is what tips him off a second before he can actually hear anything.

 

at first, it’s just a tingling at the base of his spine. but that tingling soon evolves into an incessant pinch, and then a burn, and then something is telling yoongi to run up to his father’s boat. an unfamiliar sense of urgency wraps around his heart like a vice and squeezes tight, pulling him by the muscle towards the piece of machinery. his legs kick out from under him in a run that he doesn’t remember giving them authority to set out on, but nevertheless he’s running. wind whipping his dark, matted hair away from his forehead and clearing his line of sight. he soon closes in on the boat and stops short when a he can make out a figure onboard.

 

they’re sitting down, as only their head peeks out from the rim. yoongi approaches slowly, having never had experience with crime all his life. it just didn’t happen in their town.

 

as he makes his way closer, the burn in his back climbs in intensity until it rivals the dull heat of the summer night that clings to him like a second skin. when he plants his bare feet on the rocks the boat is docked to and begins to climb, the sensation threatens to blow out his vertebrae, one by one by one. it takes an effort of paramount force to keep climbing, keep pushing onwards, until he manages to make his way to the top and slip on deck. carefully, gently, soundlessly, he fumbles underneath a bench boarder for the flashlight he knows is stowed, and represses the urge to hiss in success once his fingers come into contact with the familiar rubber handle.

 

he yanks it from its hiding spot and flicks it on, immediately turning it towards the figure.

 

really, he doesn’t know what he was expecting.

 

what he does know is that it wasn’t for the boy to be sitting cross-legged on the deck, fish skeletons littering his lap. he’s painted in blood, from his mouth to his cuticles, and yoongi recognizes from some odd out of body place that he should be scared. (he isn’t, though.)

 

the boy raises a crimson hand to wave. “you should get out of here, min yoongi,” he says, not unkindly.

 

“this here’s my boat.”

 

“your father’s,” the boy shoots back, just as playful. this is not a situation to be playful. he is covered in gore, and trespassing, and tampering with their supply. but still he smiles, all canines and glinting eyes underneath the moonlight.

 

yoongi tilts his chin. “fair. don’t suppose i could trouble you to clean up after you’re done?”

 

“you’ve my word. get home safely, now.”

 

with a final nod, yoongi flicks off the flashlight and replaces it back to where he’d snatched it from. the water must have sprayed against the rocks from when he’d clambered onto the boat, because their surface is slippery as the back of a freshly caught bass when he goes to climb down. his ankles falter and his toes curl and his fingernails nearly pop off when he clutches on desperately, scrabbling for purchase. the waves lick at his heels like hungry dogs, almost as if they’re telling him to get a move on; so he scrambles down as quickly as he can manage and jumps down onto the sand.

 

he lands hard on his feet, then stumbles backwards and falls flat on his ass. as he gets up to jog the route back to his house before the sun dares to break, he can almost swear he hears tinkling laughter follow him all the way home.



;


the next day in class is when yoongi likes to mark the beginning of their time together.

 

a partner work activity has been assigned. at one point in his life, yoongi would have dreaded having to deal with the shame that comes with scuttling away to a corner to work all by his lonesome, the only conversation he could engage in being the stolen snippets he’d pick up on from his classmates.

 

now, though. there is someone else like him. perhaps it’s a bit childish to take pleasure in such a simple thing at his grown age of seventeen, but yoongi decides to pay it no mind. he thinks after a life of never having someone to roughhouse with, or tease, or be teased by, or confide in, he is allowed to feel a slight fluttering in his chest when he makes his way over to the boy’s desk, worksheet in one hand and wooden pencil in the other.

 

“hey,” is what he starts off with, standing in front of the boy in what he hopes is a relaxed enough stance. “since you got my name already, it’s only fair to give yours up, now.”

 

“jeon jungkook.”

 

the simple utterance radiates a power so raw, it strikes a chord deep in yoongi’s core. he’s never felt anything quite like this - the closest thing he could compare it to is when he’s out on the water with his father, or even when he’s alone, and he is one with the waves. but even this pales in comparison to the aura the two words command. it’s a name, just a name, and yet, yoongi finds himself rooted to the spot, the room markedly chillier than he can remember it being mere moments before.

 

“jungkook,” he tries not to stutter, “you mind if i try ‘n make sense of this shit with you?” yoongi holds up the worksheet.

 

jungkook cracks a slow, shy grin, and oh - if that doesn’t start something kicking in yoongi’s gut. “not sure if i got more of an idea than you do, but sure, min yoongi. sure.”

 

yoongi - hesitantly - returns his grin and takes the seat next to him. in the bright lighting of the classroom, jungkook’s face is worlds away from what it had been the previous night. without the gore dripping from almost every conceivable inch of his body, there’s something about him that catches yoongi’s eye for far longer than it should. the easy spread of his smile, the slight tilt of his head, the stars threaded into the entrancing black of his pupils. there is something otherworldly about this boy - something that yoongi can’t quite put his finger on.

 

he doesn’t belong here. in this town, maybe even on this planet. the stammer with which he speaks would be undetectable to any other native’s year, but not to yoongi’s. jungkook may mimic the easy southern drawl of the town, though it’s clear that it is not what he was born with. yoongi has a feeling that jungkook is leagues more articulate than anyone in their small town could ever hope to achieve. yoongi has a feeling that jungkook knows some of the secrets of the universe. he wonders if jungkook is willing to share.  



;

 

having a friend is a sensation unfamiliar to yoongi, but not unwelcome. he’s not sure he’s ever smiled this much in his entire life - all his years have been spent being beaten over the back by the hot sun as he hauls the fresh catch under his father’s watchful eye, not a single complaint slipping past his grimaced lips. school has always been background noise in the quiet hum that is yoongi’s existence; it just wasn’t important. he passed his classes effortlessly with exceptional grades, but there were no friends, or invites to dances, or extracurriculars to integrate him into the tightly woven group of the town’s same-aged peers.

 

but now, yoongi has somewhere to go after school that isn’t out to the beach to skip stones all by his lonesome. he has someone to do partner work with at school, someone to confide it that isn’t his reflection, someone to sneak out with in the dead of night, when the heat and the loneliness threaten to suffocate him.

 

for the first time in his meagre experience, yoongi has a friend.

 

the thought of something so precious and so taken for granted holds him tight by the throat, chokes him up, and makes his nose tingle and his blood run cold at the thought of it ever being ripped away; so he holds on tight and steady, with all his strength.

 

yoongi vows never to let go of jungkook.



;



“i want to show you something.”

 

they’re standing outside of school. dismissal had been only moments prior, and they’re surrounded by a stream of students that pour out from the front doors, eager to fool around town until the sun sets for supper time. yoongi and jungkook seem to be the only ones standing still amidst the thriving body.

 

“what is it?” yoongi struggles with his eagerness when it comes to jungkook. the boy arouses something within him he’s never felt before, so he’s not quite sure how to tamp down the excited exclamations that threaten to spill past his lips whenever they so much as catch each other’s gaze. perhaps he shouldn’t have leaned forwards in excitement when posing the question, and maybe he shouldn’t have spoken so loudly, so readily. but if jungkook minds, he doesn’t show it.

 

“meet me behind the butcher’s at sundown and you’ll find out. not a second before the sun sets, okay, hyung?”

 

and that’s another thing. jungkook has taken to calling him hyung. it’s an honorific that the kids around him seem to treat lightly; the implications behind it - that the person you’re addressing is someone of reliance whom you can depend on, whom returns your affections in full - it makes his pulse thunder in his ears every time he hears it directed at him.

 

“we gonna do some back end ritual?” he teases, eyebrows raised to distract from the brilliant ruby high up on his cheeks, “plannin’ to raise the dead, jeon jungkook?”

 

jungkook just grins a toothy grin, with something in his eyes that sets his nerves on edge.

 

yoongi really hadn’t meant it literally.

 

he was teasing (to deflect.) he hadn’t actually expected -

 

well. anyways.

 

it was challenging to occupy himself, waiting impatiently for the sun to sink past the horizon so he could see jungkook once again. yoongi, as always, gravitated towards the beach, but further away from where he knew his father would be out. if he was to stay out past dark, it meant that he couldn’t stop by home for supper beforehand. his parents would ask him - a shut-in of seventeen years - where in the world he thought he was going that late, and yoongi has never been a talented liar. no, it wouldn’t do to have his parents spoil his plans.

 

so yoongi heads to the beach and begins the familiar task of skipping stones, their trajectory marring the water’s film in an almost trancelike hop across the waves.

 

it reminds him of jungkook.

 

the boy is pretty in an ethereal way yoongi has never thought anything pretty before, but sometimes - sometimes unexplainably odd things happen that seem to deface this innocence. like convulsing on the worn carpet of their classroom, eyes rolled back and speaking in guttural tongues, or sitting cross-legged on a boat in the dead of night, coated in blood and covered in skeletons.

 

crows caw overhead and when yoongi looks up, they’re circling above him. he bends down and swipes up another stone from his pile and chucks it across the water.

 

soon enough, the sun begins to sink. he is all too glad to begin the walk back into town. the sky is a rich red as he treks past the twisting oak and fern of his childhood, and it deepens to a mauve by the time he passes by his house. the lights are still on in the windows and he ducks behind bushes and trees to hide himself in case his parents caught the urge to spy out. once he makes it safely past his neighborhood, he walks along the road as he usually would, into the plaza.

 

the plaza is the only shopping center they have in town. an array of services are offered, from a community bath house to a farmer’s market, and a grand fountain sits in the middle of it all. yoongi remembers when it had first been constructed; he’d been but a toddler, only used to seeing water in tranquil waves that flowed rhythmically to meet his curious fingertips when he’d run up to the shoreline to taste a bit of salt spray. seeing it spout out so gracefully, so elegantly, and trickle past the intricate engravings forever mesmerised him. yoongi would sometimes walk to the plaza just so he could lose himself in the artform that was the fountain’s function.

 

everything is closed down by this time, though; people have gone home to their families. sunset signals shifts ending, dinner coming out of the oven. it makes yoongi wonder why jungkook decided to meet so late, if he had dinner coming out of the oven for him at his home.

 

he soon reaches the butcher’s, and slips between the foundation of that building and the botanical shop right next to it in order to come around the back, where he’s pleased to find a figure already waiting for him. crows line the rooftop of the shop and begin to sing as he approaches.

 

jungkook speaks first. “min yoongi,” he says lowly, voice obviously deepened. it makes yoongi want to chuckle. so he does.

 

“jeon jungkook.”

 

“don’t mock me. i’m very powerful, you know. i’ve got abilities you’ve never even dreamt of.”

 

“i’m sure.”

 

“hush. now, look.” it is only then that yoongi notices jungkook is cradling something in the crook of his elbow. when yoongi steps closer and cranes his head, it reveals itself to be the rotten corpse of an animal; unmistakable long, floppy ears dictate it a rabbit.

 

not for the first time, yoongi recognizes that he should be afraid.

 

stay away from him. he’ll bring you nothin’ but trouble.

 

a girl in their class had come to school teary-eyed the previous week. she asked them all to pray for her poor pet bunny’s soul to make it up to heaven.

 

the corpse in jungkook’s arms still has its eyes opened, and the beady balls of black seem to bore into yoongi. “this the bun yura was cryin’ about thursday?”

 

“yep. and we’re gonna bring it back to life.”

 

jungkook announces it like he’s revealing something grand, worthy of gasps and fanfare. like he wants to elicit an outrageous reaction. like he’s prepared for yoongi to turn heel and run.

 

something roots his feet to the ground, though. weeds seem to wrap around his ankles and hold him tight to his spot, rendering him immobile in the face of something he knows is nothing but trouble. jeon jungkook is nothing but trouble, but he also carries secrets of the universe in his back pocket like they’re butterscotch candies; somehow, yoongi thinks getting involved with the town freak is fair to appease his lifelong sweet tooth.

 

“how d’you figure that?”

 

“here.” jungkook lays the body down on the ground and uses his hands to dig into the earth, until a shallow ditch is made. he lowers it into the hole and sweeps the discarded dirt back unto the depression, filling it until the corpse is buried. yoongi still fails to be alarmed when jungkook reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a vial of something rich in red color, quickly uncapping it and downing the contents before he allows himself time to bat an eyelash. (the boy is not as swift as he hopes to appear. he makes a grimace as he swallows a second time.)

 

when he places both palms down on the mound, that’s when things begin to get weird.

 

his veins pop out of his skin in a vibrant purple, like they’re trying to tear free of their confines. it seems to take all of his effort to keep his hands planted firmly on top of where the corpse lays buried, but jungkook keeps them there nonetheless, and starts to chant in the guttural tongues yoongi had heard him utter on that fateful day.

 

the only difference between then and now, is that yoongi can catch some of what spills past his lips. of everything that’s happened since he’s started fraternizing with jeon jungkook, this is the only thing that kicks his heart into gear.

 

spirits and guide me jump out at him in particular. more than a simple chorus of crows have gathered on the rooftops all around them and they start a throaty caw that yoongi is sure echoes all the way to seoul. it’s windier than he remembers it being when he’d first arrived, and it paws at his clothes, tugs at his hair, whips at his eyes.

 

energies, i give. the ground beneath his feet thrums with a raw kind of power, the same power that his stomach at been speared with the first time he’d heard jungkook’s name; only now, it seems magnified beyond comparison. he feels the space between his toenails vibrate from how badly he quivers.

 

the grave, exchange. jungkook begins to chant faster now, with more reverence and spittle flying everywhere. if yoongi had not been looking closely he would’ve thought the boy was foaming at his mouth - oh. his mouth is foaming. more crows gather overhead and they howl at the full moon, which seems to beat upon yoongi harder than the sun ever has. the wind picks up and starts a torrent around he and jungkook, yanking their shirts to their ribs, whipping at any flesh on display, tearing at their hair.

 

on this ground, i solemnly swear. the crows scream.

 

on this ground, i solemnly offer. “jungkook-”

 

ancestors, hear me!

 

a great clap of thunder rattles yoongi’s brain in his skull. it is only when the rain begins to fall in heavy heaps does jungkook slide his hands off of the ground, do the crows scatter, does the wind die down.

 

he doesn’t know what’s supposed to happen next. jungkook is staring motionlessly at the ground as if willing it to do something. and before yoongi can gather himself enough to say anything, a morsel of dirt twitches.

 

at first, he thinks it a trick of the light. but the small patch of ground where the rabbit is buried begins to rumble and shift, pebbles and clumps falling away from the top of the burial, until a paw peeks through; after that, another, and after that, the head. it’s just as disgusting and misshapen as it had been when jungkook cradled it in his arms what seems like hours ago, but it crawls out of its makeshift grave like a regular animal - no limping, no whining, no nothing. half of its flesh has rotted away, however, and yoongi has a feeling yura won’t appreciate the unsightliness.

 

when he flicks his gaze towards jungkook to gauge his reaction, he finds the boy spread-eagled on the ground.

 

“oh, fuck,” yoongi hisses, snapping out of his trance and hurrying over to kneel at jungkook’s side. “jungkook? jungkook? jungkook, can you hear me?”

 

“nngh,” is what he’s met with. jungkook’s head lazily lolls to fall into the palm of yoongi’s hand, and the boy looks up at him with the most peculiar expression; his right eye is wide and alert, pupil dilated and flitting about, while his left eye sits blanketed by the lid, unmoving and flat. his mouth is much the same - the limp, pink flesh lays slack at one corner, while the the other side is opened and pushing out a mashed potato mix of indiscernible syllables. a cursory glance down at the rest of his body tells yoongi all he needs to know. jungkook’s entire left side is completely paralyzed.

 

yoongi has never had to deal with any kind of emergency situation in his entire life. his knee jerk reaction is to run him to the hospital, but the panicked look in jungkook’s eye when he asks if it’s alright to do so quickly snubs that option. “where’re we supposed to go then, jungkook?”

 

“ho.’”

 

home.

 

thankfully, he’s well acquainted with hefting heavy loads over his back and hauling them. years of carrying pounds of dead fish miles from the beach back to their deli has granted yoongi with broad, wizened shoulders that do not falter when jungkook’s weight is loaded onto them. yoongi is about to flee the scene as quickly and as swiftly as possible, but something tugs at the hem of his pant leg.

the rabbit looks up at him with seemingly pleading eyes and tugs his pants harder now, tiny mouth clamped tightly around the fabric. it’s disgusting, really - half-formed with its brains loosely confined to the framework of its skull. it shouldn’t be cute, and the look on its face shouldn’t be wearing yoongi down as much as it is. there is no way yura would want her pet back looking like that. yoongi should leave it to die.

 

another tug comes.

 

a heavy groan rumbles from jungkook’s droopy mouth, right behind yoongi’s ear. “bun,” he slurs.

 

sighing, yoongi picks up the bunny with the hand he’s not using to steady jungkook over his shoulder and begins the trek back to their neighborhood under the watchful gaze of the moon, a lone crow following the trio all the way home.



;


it feels like he’s in an odd parody of his own life when yoongi politely raps thrice on the door. he should be doing this when there’s daylight out and he’s got a plate of his mother’s baked goods in his hands, not when he’s carrying someone’s son slung over his back and a zombie rabbit in the crook of his elbow. an apology almost escapes past his lips when the door is opened.

 

yoongi’s first thought is that there’s no way this woman is jungkook’s mother - not when she looks like she could be his sister. perhaps she’d made pilgrimage to the fountain of youth and stole away with a vial of its contents; yoongi wouldn’t be surprised, not with this family.

 

her hair is long and lustrous and a deep, inky black, the kind of dark yoongi has only ever seen in his dreams. she seems to glow under the moonlight, her pale skin a shock of white in contrast to the obsidian robes she’s cloaks herself in, which remind him of the bedtime stories of witches and ghouls his parents used to tell him to frighten him into behaving. she answers a door with a gentle smile, but it quickly melts away as she takes it what yoongi comes bearing.

 

“dear me,” she hums, voice flat and unamused. “come in, come in. much thanks is in order for returning him.” stepping aside, she allows yoongi to pass through the doorway and into the small, quaint house. the walls are considerably bare, but this is understandably so; they’d been settled for but a month. still, something tells him that the hearth of their home lies not in what they put up, but what they have brewing underneath the surface.

 

it’s only a short trip to the kitchen from the front door, and yoongi keeps his eyes dutifully trained on her dainty back as she guides him through.

 

“just set him on the table, here. feel  no burden to handle him with care, that has not been earned tonight.”

 

despite her strange words, yoongi still takes heed to support his neck as he lays jungkook down onto the oakwood of the grand dining room table. the rabbit leaps from yoongi’s grasp as soon as he pulls his touch away from jungkook’s head, and hops up on the boy’s chest to nuzzle his face. particles of dirt sprinkle from its whiskers and onto jungkook’s nose, where he seems to be struggling to sneeze with his frozen muscles. jungkook’s mother looks on with disdain.

 

“‘ma,”   he grunts insistently, his one good eye fixed on her.

 

“i told you, did i not? just like your father, you are.”

 

“‘ma.”

 

jungkook’s mother bustles about the kitchen as she opens cupboards and gathers vials and ingredients in her arms; for what, yoongi does not know. “you know full well why necromancy is not to be practiced in this household. this is my roof and under it, you will do as i say. is that understood?” she comes back around and lays out all that she’s collected onto the surface of the table next to jungkook.

 

there are four glass tubes filled at varying degrees with liquids that are colors yoongi didn’t even know liquid could be. in the center of the tubes stands a large empty pitcher, where she pours the tubes into and mixes with a spoon until each one has been emptied; the resulting concoction is as clear as water. from the depths of her right sleeve she pulls out a stick with a mess of frayed bristles tied to the end of it, and she dips it into the pitcher before flicking the contents across jungkook’s face. what is able to, flinches violently, and she cackles.

 

yoongi finds himself thinking that when she doesn’t have an angered crease between her brows, her looks are quite enchanting. yoongi also finds himself thinking that she bears a striking resemblance to jungkook. these two facts are related, somehow, but he doesn’t have the presence of mind to make that connection just yet - not when he’s watching her feed the contents of the pitcher to jungkook’s slackened lips. he purses them as best he can, but some still trickles down the side of his mouth. without a second thought to it, yoongi brings his hand up to swipe a thumb to clean what had spilled onto his cheek.

 

jungkook’s mother glances at him out of the corner of her eyes with raised brows. it is only then does he realize what he’s done.

 

his face must look at hot as it feels, because she giggles and shakes her head as she brings the pitcher back down to the tabletop. “think nothing of it, min yoongi,” she whispers conspiratorially, a wicked tilt to the grin she flashes him.

 

there is no time to process what she’s said, because all at once, jungkook’s bodily function comes back to life. he shoots up from the table just as he had that first day in class, when his eyes had been the color of fresh snow and he’d let his tongue wrap around syllables that evoked something primal in the pit of yoongi’s gut. he heaves for a few moments, trying to catch his breath, pupils dilating and constricting at a speed that looks rather painful. his mother quietly observes, a dark look on her face.

 

“mom,” he moans the minute he regains control of his breath, “that stuff tastes like cough medicine. you usually put sugar in it…”

 

“and you usually obey direct commands, but look where we are.” jungkook’s mother scowls something fierce.

 

suddenly, yoongi feels out of place in the spacious kitchen. jungkook and his mother stare at each other with an intense kind of glare, and yoongi is afraid something will spontaneously catch fire if he doesn’t defuse the situation.

 

“‘scuse me, mrs. jeon, i’m parched. your son’s no feather, ‘n he was slung ‘round my shoulder from the plaza. could i trouble you for a glass of water?”

 

it’s enough to snap the two out of whatever battle they’d been silently waging. jungkook’s mother nods her assent with a thin, pleasant smile.

 

“but of course. i’ll just be a moment, you stay here with jungkook. i trust you’ll keep an eye on him.” and then she turns heel, black robes billowing behind her as she strides into the kitchen, leaving jungkook and yoongi to stare at each other in a few beats of heavy silence. yoongi almost forgets the bunny is there until he feels something nudge his hand; when he looks down, he finds it peering up at him. the grotesqueness has long since fazed him. it’s actually kind of cute, now that he thinks about it.

 

“i think i’ll name her cloud.”

 

these are the first words jungkook has spoken to him since they’ve entered the house. there is an endless list of questions yoongi has swirling inside of his skull, threatening to break free and leak out of his ears in a wet, crimson stream. he wants to know why jungkook’s mother is a character from the bedtime stories his mother used to read to him when he was eight; he wants to know why he has just witnessed something the church said was impossible; he wants to know why it had to be him that jungkook had locked his cold, white gaze on in the classroom all those weeks ago. but yoongi asks none of this.

 

what he does ask:

 

“why cloud?”

 

“her fur is as pure of a white as the first snow of the season!”

 

if it weren’t covered in maggot’s blood yoongi wants to quip, but he holds back. the gentle smile on jungkook’s face as he lures the animal into his lap with a series of gentle clicking noises sets something warm burning in the pit of yoongi’s stomach.

 

this, too, raises questions that he doesn’t think even jungkook can answer. he’s known this boy for a month and a quarter, he’s been talking to him for half that time, and yet.

 

and yet, his heart feels like it’s going to beat out of his chest everytime the boy comes near. wobbling knees, a hot face, fluttering lashes - these are just a few symptoms that make up the myriad of things that jungkook does to him without even trying. he’d blame it on the strange practices he partakes in, but he knows that jungkook is much too kind for casting spells and hexes on a friend. somehow, this knowledge makes the frustration increase tenfold.

 

but these thoughts are not for thinking anywhere except the dark, damp quietness of his bedroom up in the attic, where he is removed from all else except the endless tumbling waves of his own mind. so he shoves the barrage of questions down, down, down, until he’s back in the jeons’ kitchen, accepting a glass of water from jungkook’s mother. she smiles at him with genuine light in her eyes, and yoongi feels more at home in this moment than he ever has in the house where he had been born seventeen years ago.

 

“thank you, sincerely, for bringing him back,” she murmurs. “you are forever welcome to our hearth, min yoongi.”

 

yoongi nods - words are beyond him at this point. it’s been a long night, and he yearns for the merciful release of sleep. too many things need to be processed, and he simply doesn’t have the brainpower or the energy required to deal with all that has transpired tonight. he bids them good night with a simple nod and smile, and shows himself out, footsteps as light as they’ve ever been.

 

it only occurs to him later, when he’s tucked in bed and on the precipice of sleep, that he had never told mrs. jeon his name.



;



it’s saturday. saturdays mean waking up earlier than he would for school, shimmying into a familiar pair of worn overalls, and going out on the water with his father to catch the week’s haul. the sky is a pale pink when they leave for the sea, equipment slung over the backs of their shoulders as they push through brush and slog through mud in their clunky rubber boots.

 

saturdays mean sitting on a boat for hours on end, handing his father the materials he needs without actually getting to touch a rod himself. they usually sit in silence - they’ve never had much to say to each other, and upwards of eight hours spent on a less than spacious boat alone together will prompt nothing but an unfortunately close silence.

 

saturdays mean being left under the relentless rays of the hot sun to stew in the dreams yoongi had drowned in the night before. with nothing to do except pass tools and skip stones, he often finds his mind wandering to the odd fantasies that overtake his mind when he shuts his eyes. visions of stormy waves with women whose bottom halves taper into fishtails, three moons that flicker across the sky with blinding light, hands clawing their way up from beneath the sand; and, lately, a boy with locks as black as squid’s ink. these mirages have plagued his sleep from early childhood, and when he’d wake up in frightened tears as a child, his parents had thought he’d been possessed. months of religious ritual cleansing and transforming into an outcast in the eyes of his own family had taught yoongi to keep quiet about the dreams. now, the only time they’re brought to the surface of his consciousness is when he allows himself to detach from reality and be quietly, serenely introspective.

 

yoongi wonders if jungkook has ever had dreams like these - dreams that make the marrow deep inside his bones freeze solid, dreams that haunt his waking hours as much as his ones spent slumbering.

 

“boy.” a gruff grunt sounds to his left. yoongi quickly turns to meet his father’s gaze, which is clouded with something a shade or two away from genuine anger. “i said hand me that bucket over by yer feet.”

 

yoongi hands him the bucket over by his feet. then, he lets his thoughts stray to jeon jungkook once more.



;



“i’m a witch.”

 

the words are a challenge.

 

jungkook has an odd habit of announcing things like he’s trying to see if yoongi will run away, like he’s testing how far the borders of yoongi’s mind are able to expand. there’s an edge to his tone that dares yoongi to have an explosion of a reaction but yoongi thinks jungkook should know him better than that, by now - yoongi certainly prides himself in being familiar with jungkook.

 

“yep.” he barely looks up from where he’s watching his fingers run through the sand like a knife through butter. over and over, he runs his hands through the grains as slow and graceful as he can manage, just to watch it flow across his skin like water. “pretty sure the whole damn town knows, kook.”

 

“yeah, but…”

 

“but what?”

 

“isn’t it, like...super cool? don’t you have a million questions to ask? aren’t you scared?”

 

it’s funny. yoongi is scared, but not of fiddling with the afterlife, or possession. yoongi is scared of how he knows that even if those things did frighten him, it wouldn’t be enough to drive him away from jungkook.

 

he doesn’t know if there’s anything that could, at this point.

 

there is very little in the world he would sacrifice for days like these - underneath the warmth of the sun, at home on the beach, jungkook at his side; the saltspray freckling his face, air clear in his lungs as he breathes in the stench of a fresh catch only a couple miles down.

 

carefully, silently, yoongi appraises jungkook. the boy’s pout is something fierce; it’s clear he’s dissatisfied with yoongi’s lack of a reaction. despite his connection with the supernatural world and his astoundingly powerful abilities, the childish innocence jungkook exhibits may be the final nail in the coffin where yoongi’s supposed terror should lie. it’s hard to fear someone so…

 

cute.

 

yoongi ruffles his hair with a tender smile. “terrified shitless.”

 

“hmph.”

 

for a fleeting moment, everything is beautiful. jungkook pouts up at him, blissfully unaware of what the view is doing to yoongi’s cardiac health. his hand is still entangled in the boy’s locks and he tugs lightly, just to see what will happen - if jungkook will yield to his touch and tip his head back like yoongi so desperately wants him to, if only just to glean more of the milky expanse of jungkook’s neck. seemingly out of nowhere, yoongi is overcome with the intense desire to pull at his hair and draw his head back. jeon jungkook doesn’t seem like he would yield for much. yoongi wants to know if he’s an exception.

 

their gazes catch, and yoongi tamps down a gasp at the way jungkook’s irises glint violet in the daylight. never before has he had an opportunity to be this close to the other boy. he’s not sure that he will ever be satisfied standing anywhere past arm’s length after being in jungkook’s physical orbit. yoongi is frozen, muscles slow and lethargic, joints locked tight as he fights the urge to lean in even closer. if jungkook minds the proximity, he doesn’t show it; in fact, he’s smiling up at yoongi with something just a touch softer around the edges than his usual eccentric grins.

 

“a witch, huh,” yoongi asks softly, fingers carding through jungkook’s hair like they’re sifting through sand. “prove it.”

 

jungkook’s eyes are glassy and unfocused when he flutters his lashes in confusion.“what?”

 

“you heard the first time. do a magic trick for me, jeon jungkook.”

 

it takes a minute for yoongi’s meaning to sink in. the realization that they’ll have to break apart from where they are - his hand tangled in jungkook’s hair, fingers grasping tightly onto the impossibly dark strands - almost makes him want to eat his words. the boy looks up at him through his bangs and he takes a moment to drink in the sight that is jeon jungkook.

 

jungkook is resting on a rock, legs hiked up and spread wide, leaning back on his arms in a way that has the collar of his shirt sagging down to expose the dip of his collarbones. in the heady ever-present humidity of their coastal town, sweat collects in the hollow between his neck and his chest. it really should be disgusting, but the sheen of perspiration only makes his skin look luminous in an unearthly kind of way. it really should be off-putting, but nothing about jungkook could ever turn yoongi away.

 

before he can think twice about it, yoongi’s unoccupied hand rises up to lightly sink a finger into jungkook’s clavicle. his touch is met with a violent shiver; he’s never caressed anyone like this before, and he’s not sure of anything beyond the fact that he suddenly wants his hands everywhere on the boy’s body. running them up and down the length of jungkook’s milky thighs, across the expanse of his throat, gently thumbing at the curve of his cheek - visions of all these and more bind around yoongi’s brain and squeeze until everything else falls away except thoughts of the boy in front of him.

 

jungkook gasps when the pad of yoongi’s fingers find their way onto his plush lower lip and pushes down, capturing it in between his pointer knuckle and the edge of his thumbnail.

 

a heavy flush settles high on the boy’s cheekbones. yoongi would have jibed at him for it had he not had a mirroring blush on his own face.

 

“do a trick for me,” he murmurs quietly.

 

“you’ll have to let go, then.”

 

slowly, yoongi pulls his fingers from jungkook’s lip until it pops free from his grasp with a neat click.

 

“you’ll have to let go all the way, hyung.”

 

he’d almost forgotten that his fingers were still entangled in the boy’s hair. the inky tendrils seem to latch onto him when he tries to free his hand from their embrace - or perhaps that’s his imagination. either way, it’s hard to remove his touch from jungkook. now that he knows what it’s like to feel the warmth of his flesh, the beat of his pulse, to have stroked the peach’s skin of his face...he’s been spoiled. never again will he be satisfied quietly admiring jungkook’s beauty from afar, like how he’s been living for the past two months. yoongi has always been very tuned into his own emotions and desires, and there is no deluding himself.

 

he wants this boy like how his mother had described wanting his father when she’d sat him down and told him about their wedding night. he wants this boy like how the waves yearn to crash against the surf, hard and intimate and without reservations. he wants this boy like how his soul thirsts desperately to leave this town and all its inhibitions. he wants this boy like if all of the fairy tales and urban legends and ancient myths he’s ever heard about love combined into one big mass of unadulterated desire.

 

yoongi, for his entire life, has been convinced that he would never feel the rushing of his pulse at the thought of another person. he has always preferred solitude over intermingling with the simple souls he was surrounded by, and this led him to believe that he would spend the rest of his days as they are already being spent - alone, confined to the thoughts and dreams that plague both his waking and his sleeping hours.

 

but now.

 

now, he has someone who hastens the pace of his heart. someone who makes him anticipate waking in the morning, someone who fills his days with more than the silent seclusion he’s become accustomed to.  

 

someone to take to his beach, to share his shoreline with, and caress under the setting sun.

 

“forget it, then,” yoongi says. and then he kisses jeon jungkook.

 

the response is almost immediate, as if jungkook has been waiting for this moment long before they’d stepped onto the beach that afternoon. the way the boy tastes, feels, smells, moves against him as they surge forwards and mingle in each other’s waves has yoongi thinking that this moment is definitely a secret of the universe. how could something possibly feel so wonderful? how could a simple press of lips render his body alight with a flame that seemed unquellable?

 

yoongi is starving, and he sates his hunger in the way his hands grapple onto the skin beneath the worn cotton of jungkook’s shirt, the way his teeth sink down into jungkook’s bottom lip with the primal intent to elicit something equally as primal out of the boy. he licks into jungkook’s mouth like he’s casting a line and trying to reel something in, and the boy willingly offers up whatever it is that yoongi’s searching for inside of him. this readiness to surrender and give only pushes yoongi’s hands further up underneath his shirt, to scratch and pinch and fondle and feel all that he has dreamt of feeling.

 

for how long they stay interlocked, yoongi does not know. all he can register in the distant edges of his mind that aren’t enthralled with jungkook, is that the intense heat of the evening sun no longer beats down on his shoulders. when his eyes flutter open, jungkook is not shrouded in gold, but a dark indigo which brings out the starkness of his black locks, the glimmer in his doe like eyes. he breaks away for a moment, just to drink in the sight of the boy; he feels something grand and large swell deep within him at jungkook’s spit-slicked, scarlet face.

 

it grows in intensity the longer yoongi stares - his winds tight, his palms begin to dampen, and he feels like heaving at the heaviness that overtakes his body. the discomfort that pains him must show on his face, because jungkook looks up at him with a crease between his brows. he looks like he’s saying something, too, but the blood rushing in yoongi’s ears is too loud to decipher anything except the incessant thrumming of his pulse.

 

a sharp pain hits him between the eyes and he staggers back, flinching at the severity of the throbbing. when jungkook reaches out and clasps a hand onto his forearm to keep him from falling onto his ass, that’s when it all snaps loose.

 

the sky grows very dark for a short time, and then yoongi hears the great crash before he feels it. water pours down on them in a gargantuan wave; it’s almost too easy to let it slip down his throat and fill his lungs. oddly enough, yoongi has never struggled with coughing up lungfuls of water when he’d gone swimming as a child - just as peacefully as the water would flow around him, it would also flow inside of him, and yoongi would grant it access into his body without a second thought. opening himself up to the waves came second only to breathing. something older than the bones he wears tells him that the water would never hurt him.

 

jungkook, on the other hand, is coughing and spluttering as the wave retreats back out into the sea. he’d been knocked off of his rock by the force of the hit, and he sits hunched over his legs as he expels water from his lungs and onto the surf between his legs.

 

“did you,” he pants after he’s finished, swiping the back of his hand over his mouth, “did you do that?”

 

“...what?”

 

“the wave - did you…?”

 

clearly, the boy must’ve hit his head when the wave had displaced him from his perch.

 

“i knew there was something different about you, min yoongi, i just knew it!” jungkook leaps up with fervor and dashes to where yoongi still sits crouched on the soaked surf. his grin seems to shimmer in the moonlight, canines glinting something fierce as he snatches up yoongi’s boxy hands to clasp them in his own.

 

“hyung,” he whispers, so low that yoongi has to incline his head to catch the words he quietly pushes out, “that water just now was you.”

 

yoongi can feel the disbelief in his heart cloud his features. it was one thing to process and accept jungkook as being a witch - it was another thing entirely to even consider the possibility that he is somehow involved in whatever supernatural world this strange boy seems to have dragged him into. resisting the urge to give in and humor jungkook’s theory is draining, though, and he feels a deep discomfort settle all the way down in the marrow of his bones when he shakes his head in dubiety. “jungkook, quit playin’ around.”

 

the boy sets his jaw. “i’m not playing. the tides have been weak since tuesday, and my abilities don’t extend as far as the realms of the sea - what else could it have been?”

 

anything but me, yoongi wants to snap. a fisherman’s son born and raised in a town barely on the map has no business nor potential in what jungkook’s suggesting. his entire life has been spent in the rhythmic and repetitive flow of mundane country life - never has he strayed too far outside the town limits, and never has he spoken out against anything in his lessons, or in the church, or in his home.

 

he wishes he would have, though.

 

seventeen years existing with a higher level of consciousness has placed a heavy load on his shoulders; it’s not like yoongi has never wondered why he seemed to question and ponder while others around him seemed to palate their surroundings with ease. it’s not like yoongi has never wondered why he was the only one plagued with strange dreams and a spiritual connection to the waves and a significant lack of shock at the sight of true, proper necromancy.

 

the pieces of the puzzle begin to snap together, the final corner fitting into place when he gazes up at where jungkook is still sopping wet, clothes clinging to his lithe form.

 

“...i have dreams,” begins yoongi lowly.

 

jungkook nods eagerly for him to continue, and the words seem to pour out quicker than he can think to shove them back in.



;



apart from the ritual rising and setting of the sun, there’s little that goes on in their small, cozy farm town. yoongi’s father is a fisherman and yoongi’s mother runs the family deli. everyone’s existence is quiet where he lives, but his seems particularly quaint. if not for his boyfriend, he’s convinced he’d be bored to death; he’s not sure how he could have possibly made it before jeon jungkook came along.

 

he likes to split up his life into two stages: pre-jungkook, and post-jungkook. there are many contributing factors that help make the distinction, but the most pointed one comes in the way that yoongi no longer spends all of his time at the beach alone. now, he has company who will laugh with him, and praise his beyond average ability at skipping stones, and help him with something else that’s begun to take up his time as of late.

 

“okay,” jungkook encourages, “good. maintain your stance - now, focus all of your energy unto the water. let it swell. maintain your stance!”

 

it’s not hard to let jungkook coach him in harnessing his ability. now that yoongi has undergone a bit of mentoring, he can successfully manipulate waves for a little under a minute and, at most, two minutes when he’s really throwing his back into it. his father used to question why yoongi would ask to go fishing alone as opposed to as a pair, but once the weekly haul nearly tripled in amount, there were no more complaints. business was booming as it never had before, and it just gave him more of an excuse to be where he felt most at home - at the beach, with jungkook by his side.

 

yoongi holds his frame as still as he can, as per jungkook’s instruction. his arms are stretched out in front of his body, which stands tall at attention. salt spray licks at his nose in a comforting gesture as he takes one, two, three great gulps of air, and then sends all the energy he can muster from the pit of his gut out to the water.

 

the waves respond to him like they always have - with lenience and kindness. today, they’re working on small intricate ripples rather than anything too large, so yoongi coaxes the water to inch up the shoreline in staggered games of tag until they reach his toes. if he closes his eyes and concentrates, he is often able to see what’s in the water; this is what allows him to fish so efficiently. he does it now in a spark of spontaneity, and is pleasantly surprised to find a lovely shell only a little ways away from where he and jungkook stand on the beach. with as much precision as his skills will allow him, he maneuvers the water to carry it over and wash it up at his feet.

 

the waves retreat and he swallows back a gasp.

 

it’s a beautiful spiralled thing with gentle rivulets along its spine, creamy in color and spiked with shots of caramel brown. it barely reaches from his thumb to his lifeline when he scoops it up - somehow, its small stature only adds to the quirky charm.

 

immediately, he pivots to face jungkook and offers it up. “‘s pretty,” he mumbles. like you is what he wishes to tack on at the end, but jungkook’s glimmering eyes seem to hear the words he doesn’t say.

 

his boyfriend gingerly plucks it out of his grasp and studies it with a small, intimate smile on his face. “that it is. thank you, yoongi.”


this time when they kiss, the wave that crashes over them is purely intentional. jungkook squawks out an indignant “hyung!” and he chases yoongi up and down the shoreline until the sky begins to redden, and the humidity leaks away to be replaced with a bone tickling chill, and yoongi is sure that the happiness he feels in this moment is just one of the many secrets of the universe.