There are voices. Voices shouting. Arguing. Loud and unfamiliar and angry and Jimin frowns, his eyes still closed. He shifts against… against what he isn't sure, his muscles groaning as he rolls onto his side.
It's soft. Whatever he's on is–
He finally opens his eyes. It takes no small amount of effort to do so.
He's not in his bedroom. Not his apartment. The room is huge, walls painted a light blue with a tasteful, ornate molding and huge windows that go nearly all the way to the obscenely tall ceiling.
Definitely not his apartment.
Sunlight is creeping in, that greyish hue of early morning, and Jimin's frown only deepens because he's in an unfamiliar bed, on an unbelievably soft mattress, between what must be silk sheets and under an enormously fluffy duvet. He has no idea where he is or how he got there, and he definitely wasn't at any party last night, definitely didn't have anything to drink, so why...
Pristine fabric billows around him as he tries to push himself onto his elbows and he winces against the lancing pain that pierces his temples and zings straight down his spine. Just at that moment another noise, a crash of shattering glass, erupts right next to his ear, splintering his nerves and forcing his shoulders down and his breath to cut short. It's the kind of sound that only ever accompanies violent destruction, and Jimin holds his breath and waits for the fall, for the newest bout of terrifying pain.
But there's nothing.
The yelling's stopped again. Quieted. There are still voices, no less angry but more hushed, tense and muted and incomprehensible.
Jimin's heart is pounding and he warily opens his eyes once more, the whole room lurching as, shaking, he finally manages to push and roll himself off the bed. The hard floor is cool beneath his bare feet and he stares wide-eyed at the unfamiliar room, unmoving. He's in a dressing gown, he realizes, sheer white fabric flowing past his knees with nothing underneath.
Questions flood his mind, too many to focus on a single one for any length of time. His stomach clenches and roils as he folds in on himself, taking one trembling step forward. He has no idea where he's going or where there even is to go, but he can't stay here.
Wherever here is.
His head is still pounding, a dull throb at the back of his skull as he sways on his feet, then freezes, blood running cold when he realizes the voices have stopped.
"You woke him up."
Jimin's breath catches. They can't be talking about him. There's no one here. Are they watching? Is there a camera? Why do they sound so close? As far as he can tell, there's no one else in the room with him, but the voices are so clear, like they're murmuring right next to ear, just over his shoulder. They're so loud.
"What– fuck you, I'm not the one who dragged in…" The voice trails off, melding into what can only be described as a frustrated sort of growl. "Which one even is it?"
That voice is new. It's quieter than the other two. More… resigned?
And… familiar somehow. Why is it familiar?
"I should check on him, I think he's scared."
"No shit he's scared."
There's a sigh, loud and frustrated, and Jimin shivers. It's not the growl from before but it still makes his hair stand on end, makes him hold his breath and wait.
He still has no idea how he got here. Last he remembers he was home in his apartment. It was late, he'd had a long day, nearly failed his economics test. He was going to take a shower, maybe a bath, and then go to bed. How did he…
That voice again. Familiar and quiet and warm and whispered right in his ear, and he realizes who it is just before he opens his eyes.
Hoseok gasps, sitting up in a sudden panic, his heart racing. The oxygen in his lungs feels like shards of glass, and his head is throbbing, the worst headache of his life. He feels instantly dizzy, disoriented, and he tips forward, catching himself on his palms. It's only at that moment he realizes he's in bed, the mattress rebounding beneath his hands, jostling his body.
He takes another, slower breath, and his pulse slows a fraction, but the room is spinning, and bile rises at the back of his throat. Some kind of instinct has him scrambling out of the bed, but his legs don't hold him when he tries to stand and he tumbles to the floor, landing hard on his palms and knees. His cry of pain is truncated when he wretches, doubling over as he vomits, heaving until his stomach is clenching and his arms are shaking.
He drags in a ragged breath and swallows, his mouth tasting sharp and bitter with a tang of blood, and he blinks open his bleary eyes, seeing a shock of red in the blur before him. He coughs, saline collecting along his eyelashes as he shifts to lean back against the bed behind him, trying to catch his breath.
His head continues to pound, but after a few minutes his surroundings start to come into focus, and he's quickly aware that he doesn't know where he is. The room is huge, bigger than his entire apartment, furnished so extravagantly it looks like one of those houses they show on TV that real people can't actually afford. The floor is hard, polished wood, and there's an immense, elegant rug Hoseok only just missed puking on.
Clarity is settling in a little at a time and he starts to be aware of the parts of his body that hurt. Noticeably absent is the dull ache he's gotten used to in his left knee, and he bends his leg a little where it's splayed in front of him, feeling not even the slightest twinge. He does notice then, however, that there's a stinging pain in the side of his neck, and when he reaches up to touch, the skin feels hot and broken, punctured.
Touching the damaged, puckered skin sends a strange thrill of fear through him, and he staggers to his feet, searching the room for any kind of reflective surface, a mirror or a window, something. But he doesn't get far, the sound of footsteps making him freeze. The sound echoes, louder than it seems like it should, and Hoseok stops breathing. The steps reverberate ever closer, then stop, and he's about to take a breath again when there's a knock at the door, and then a soft voice, shockingly familiar.
"Hey, hyung. Jimin-hyung, it's okay. You're okay."
His voice is quiet, not a whisper but less overbearing than the arguing, less… direct somehow. It reminds Jimin of someone approaching a cornered animal, the tone deliberately calm and quiet. Jimin feels anything but calm, anything but okay, but Jungkook's eyes are soft and warm and they're the first and only familiar thing Jimin's seen since he woke up. Jungkook reaches out, fingers just brushing Jimin's nightgown before Jimin flinches away, wrapping his arms tightly around himself.
Jungkook's hand lingers between them, fingers outstretched but touching only air.
"Where am I?"
"Okay," Jimin says because, after two years of friendship, some part of him, however small and terrified, has been conditioned to believe that voice, to trust that face.
He still doesn't relax at all, but the response seems to calm Jungkook, lips barely tugging into a hint of a smile as he lifts his hand again, grazing his fingers against Jimin's neck. It's a familiar gesture, but not at all a familiar sensation, some strange mix of dull pain and blinding, overwhelming, confusing arousal, and Jimin immediately jerks away.
"Still looks pretty sore," Jungkook says, almost apologetic. "How's your head?"
Curled inward, Jimin raises a questioning hand to the back of his skull. It's not that the pounding has lessened so much as the fear and confusion have seemingly overwhelmed the pain. At the reminder, Jimin frowns and gingerly shakes his head.
"I don't understand," he says, and it feels like possibly the biggest understatement of his life.
Jungkook's shoulders sag and he lets out a breath, lips twisting into a frown. He looks almost pained, an expression Jimin's seen on his friend's face plenty of times before, but usually only when he's watching some overly dramatic television show or right after he loses a video game or when he's getting secondhand embarrassment from something.
"You're not…" Jungkook looks over his shoulder, back toward the bed. "You should probably sit down for this."
As inviting as the bed is, Jimin remains rooted to the spot. He doesn't know how standing benefits him exactly, but his legs just won't work right now, not even to sit down.
Jungkook doesn't push it, crossing his arms over his chest. "Okay," he says, careful eyes still on Jimin. He hesitates then, like he's trying to pick just the right words. "Okay, well. You fell. That's why your head hurts. Or... that's partly why your head hurts, at least."
He hesitates again, his gaze dropping downward briefly, not meeting Jimin's eyes. He looks conflicted for a moment, as though he wants Jimin to say something back. But Jimin doesn't respond, only curling one hand in the flowy dressing gown, bunching the fabric in his fist right over his heart, just for something to hold onto.
The look on Jungkook's face is somehow more unsettling than everything else, than waking up nearly naked in an unfamiliar bed and hearing those angry voices. It's not an expression he's ever seen on his friend's face before. Not directed at him.
He doesn't know what it means.
"You slipped," Jungkook says, his voice wavering just a little. "I don't know how, I didn't see it. I think you were stepping into the shower and you must've– I don't know if it was a wet spot or you just didn't lift your foot high enough, but there was just–" He stops then, sucking in a breath, that look still on his face, the wrecked sort of sadness Jimin doesn't know how to fix. When he speaks again, his voice is quieter, nearly a whisper, every word pained. "I don't know when it happened or how long you were… I really don't know, but by the time I got there, there was already so much blood. And you were so pale, hyung. You were–"
"I don't understand," Jimin interrupts, starting to panic, unable to stand the sheer anguish in Jungkook's voice.
Jungkook goes quiet, eyes wet and still locked on Jimin's.
Jimin opens his mouth to speak again, to ask something else, his instinct even now to do whatever he can to take that look off Jungkook's face.
But Jungkook beats him to it.
Hoseok doesn't say anything. He stares at the door, eyes wide, waiting. For a few seconds it seems like the person on the other side is going to leave if he doesn't respond, but then the ornate door handle creaks and turns, and the door swings into the room.
"Jin," he says, his voice cracking, and the man in the doorway smiles softly before crossing the threshold into the room, turning to shut the door behind him.
His friend looks different here, in this room, taller or bigger, like he takes up more space, even though the whole idea is completely insane. Hoseok's heart flutters in his chest when Jin approaches, and despite something in the back of his brain telling him to back away, he doesn't, he can't, like there's some sort of gravity keeping him in place.
"How do you feel?" Jin asks, and Hoseok opens his mouth to respond, at a loss for how to answer.
"I don't know," he says after a beat, because he's feeling way too many things at once, and has no idea how else to reply. He swallows, his mouth still tasting bitter-sour, throat dry. "What happened?" he asks, because something must have for him to be in a place like this, feeling the way he does, with Jin.
"You should sit," Jin says, and the words are a suggestion, but the tone is more like a command. Hoseok should probably decline, but something in him doesn't want to, and he walks back to the bed he woke up on, sitting on the edge of the mattress. Jin sits beside him, careful and respectful of his distance, the way he always has been.
Hoseok is waiting for an explanation, or at least he thinks he is, but Jin doesn't speak right away, just sits with his hands on his thighs, gaze turned downward. Hoseok thinks he should feel anxious right now, but instead he's filled with an even greater sense of calm than before with Jin sitting beside him. He also notices the wound on his neck has started tingling, almost like that patch of skin has gone numb. He reaches up instinctively, rubbing his fingertips over the spot, feeling the damage again, still raised and warm, but noticing the pain has eased considerably.
"Does it still hurt?" Jin asks suddenly, his voice a little worried, almost guilty. "I'm sorry," he adds quickly, ducking his hand beneath Hoseok's searching fingers, cupping his palm over the injury. Jin's never touched him this way before, abrupt and almost protective, very close to intimate, and Hoseok's heart clenches in his chest, heat rising to his cheeks as he gasps softly. He feels weird, suddenly almost turned on, the way his body reacts, and his head is dizzy with it until Jin withdraws with a sigh.
"Hyung," Hoseok whispers, his body physically sagging at the broken contact. "What's going on?"
Jin takes a breath, tipping his head to look at the ceiling before he turns his eyes on Hoseok. "What's the last thing you remember?" he asks, then adds, "before waking up here?"
Hoseok opens his mouth, but the answer isn't as obvious as he thinks it should be. He blinks, staring dead ahead as he tries to remember. "Stairs," he says finally, the word coming to his lips the instant the image solidifies in his mind. "The stairs at my apartment building," he continues, memories coming to him like a fog is lifting. "I stumbled, my knee… My knee buckled."
It's right there in his head now, the sensation of pain, falling, concrete against his shins, scraping his palms. He turns his hands over in his lap, but they're fine, smooth and unmarked, not a scratch on them. "I couldn't… I tried to stand, but my knee…" He can feel himself start to tremble, the memory of how he felt welling now, too. After all those months, the surgery, the grueling rehab, the agony of not being able to do the one thing he loved, he'd finally been back on track, dancing again, and then…
"I had to limp to my apartment," he says, risking a glance at Jin's face, the sorrowful look there making his heart twist. He licks his lips. "I… My painkillers," he whispers, voice ragged, remembering the bottle, brand new, four days worth of narcotics. He'd taken two, for the pain, tossing them back with a gulp of water. And then two more, because he couldn't do this again, two more, because no one would notice if he disappeared, two more, two more, two more, until the bottle was empty.
He takes a breath, lifting his eyes to Jin's once more, seeing the wetness there, shimmering. "Am I," he tries, his voice shaking, distant even to his own ears. "Am I dead?"
Jin inhales sharply. "No," he says, breathing out slowly, his tone a little thick as he shakes his head. "But you were."
Jimin stops breathing.
He's still standing somehow, but he's listing forward, pushed by the rush of waves in his head before Jungkook's hands are on him, holding him steady.
"Seriously, please sit down," Jungkook says, his voice quiet. Jimin can still only respond with a shake of his head as Jungkook gently guides him to sit on the edge of the bed.
"I don't–" he starts, voice raw, staring as Jungkook crouches at his feet. He feels like his chest has been hollowed out, like there's nothing left of him. His ears are ringing, dizzy and disconnected and still so, so confused. "Does that… This isn't heaven."
Jimin's never been very religious. He's never been to church, not any church, and he can't say he's spent all that much time wondering about whether or not there's a god. Or many gods. Sure, he's wondered about what happens when people die, about the concept of a soul and if it lives on past the physical body, about what else might be out there, and what life is supposed to be all about. But he's no theologian, and too many of those wonderings have just circled back in on themselves, providing no real answer or feeling of closure, just leaving him with more questions.
So, if he doesn't believe in anything, if all he's ever done is wonder, then this can't be heaven. Only believers go to heaven, isn't that the rule? It certainly doesn't look like any heaven he's ever seen portrayed in movies or television shows anyway. Apart from what he's wearing, hardly anything is white, for one thing. There are no trumpets or clouds, no harps or angels.
And what about those voices he heard earlier, before Jungkook found him? They were arguing. Yelling. Someone threw something. It's all pretty violent for heaven.
Jungkook makes a sound then, something that isn't quite a laugh, his head tipped back to watch Jimin carefully as his lips twitch into a bare smile.
"Not quite, no," he says, curling his hands carefully, comfortingly around Jimin's knees.
He looks less devastated than earlier, which is some weird sort of comfort, but there's still a line between his eyebrows. He opens his mouth like he's going to say something more, but then closes it. Opens it again.
Jimin's stomach curdles and he distantly realizes he's started shaking.
"Holy fucking shit, Kookie, just tell him."
Jimin startles so hard he nearly knees Jungkook in the face, that unfamiliar voice from before suddenly a bellow. But it's not just a voice this time; there's a man in the room with them now too, standing right inside the door. Jimin has no idea how long he's been there, but he looks angry, lips drawn into a thin line and shoulders tight. He somehow looks imposing despite his small stature, with a pale round face and dark beady eyes. He's wearing what looks like pajamas, a silky, shimmery blue fabric that hangs loosely on his small frame. He looks soft and sharp at the same time. Subtly dangerous.
Jimin still has no idea who he is, but he's clearly pretty familiar with Jungkook to be using that name.
"I'm trying to be gentle," Jungkook explains, his hands still warm on Jimin's legs though his attention is now on the other man. "He's not just anyone, he's–"
"You're a vampire," the other one cuts in abruptly, eyes locked on Jimin now and tone dry. "Surprise."
It feels like it should be a joke, like Jungkook is just about to huff out a laugh and roll his eyes and maybe tell him what's really going on.
But Jungkook isn't laughing. Jungkook is glaring daggers at the other man, his hands tight on Jimin's thighs before he pulls in a heavy breath and finally looks up at Jimin.
"Kook?" Jimin asks weakly. He lifts a hand to lightly touch his own neck, shuddering when he feels the punctured skin under his fingertips, and an ache rolls through him.
Jungkook has that look on his face again. "I'm sorry," he says, barely more than a whisper.
The other one sighs, a sound that's more quietly resigned than irritated this time. But Jimin's still watching Jungkook, still trying to understand, and he barely registers when the other guy speaks.
"Bring him upstairs. Joon wants to meet him."
"I…" Hoseok starts, trying to remember, but he can't. There's nothing after taking the pills, no dramatic memories of stumbling to the floor or crying, no regret or resignation, there isn't anything.
"You texted me," Jin says softly, like he can sense Hoseok's confusion. Hoseok opens his mouth to ask what he'd sent, but Jin's already pulling his phone from his pocket, pulling up the messages and handing it to Hoseok.
You've always been nice to me. You helped me so much I needed to say thank you.
Id on't think anyine else would have done as much no one has before
but im okay now you don't need to
Hoseok stares at the screen of Jin's phone, at words he apparently typed, possibly his last words. Probably. If he wasn't so numb he'd take out his own cell and see if he'd sent any other messages, but it's likely a waste of time. He doesn't have anyone else.
Jin takes his phone back when Hoseok makes no move to stop staring at it. "I came to check on you," he says, and it sounds clear and even, but there's a darkness in Jin's eyes when Hoseok meets them again, a weariness on his face. "I found you."
There's a lot Jin isn't saying, but it's all there in those three simple words, in his pained expression.
"I'm sorry," Hoseok says, words empty even though he means them. There aren't words big enough to make up for what he'd put his friend – his only friend – through.
Jin shrugs, shifting his gaze, a sort of twisted, hurt smile on his face. "This isn't about me," he says, obviously uncomfortable. "It's not the first time I've heard someone talk that way," he adds, unpleasant smile still on his face as he shakes his head.
Hoseok takes a breath, and it's probably a little insensitive, considering, but he can't really get past the idea that he was dead and now he's not. "Did…" he starts, then cringes at himself and his fumbling. "This isn't a hospital," he says instead, and Jin looks at him like he wants to laugh or vomit or both.
"Not even close," Jin replies, conflicting expressions still chasing each other across his face. "You're not going to believe this at first, because no one does, and it sounds insane, it really does," he says, searching the corners of the room like he physically can't keep still. "I just, I couldn't…" He shakes his head again.
"I had two choices," he finally says, meeting Hoseok's eyes. "And I couldn't face one of them. You might hate me for this, and I'm already in trouble for it, but I couldn't let you die."
Hoseok blinks. "But, you said–"
"I know," Jin interrupts. "You were dead. There was nothing… You were gone." He takes a breath, and that's when Hoseok notices that Jin's eyes are wet, red around the edges. "I brought you back. By making you like me."
It makes no sense at all, what Jin is saying to him, what he clearly isn't saying. "Like you," he repeats, and Jin laughs once, but there's no humor in it.
"I'm not human," Jin says, and Hoseok must be dreaming, because this conversation is unbelievable. "I'm a vampire," Jin further explains, and Hoseok balks.
"Bullshit," he says without thinking, making a sound like a truncated, hysterical laugh. In an instant Jin has turned to fully face him, his palm against the injured side of Hoseok's neck again, thumb running over the puncture wound – wounds Hoseok registers suddenly – expression hard and dark.
"I did this to you," he explains, his tone warm but dangerous. "You can feel it, the way your blood is drawn to me."
It happens all at once, Hoseok's heart goes from steady to pounding, racing like he's just been dancing for hours, the artery in the side of his neck throbbing beneath Jin's touch, heat spreading down into his chest. "Hy-hyung," he gasps, shaking, as Jin's thumb traces another line along his skin.
A new voice breaks the tension between them like glass shattering, Jin's hand falling away from Hoseok's throat as they both turn their attention toward the door.
There's a boy standing there, only partially visible from where he's peering carefully around the doorframe. He has soft, ashy blond hair that hangs across his forehead, just shy of being in his darkly lined eyes, his lips a sweet, pink bow drawn into a worried frown on his pretty face. His eyes meet Hoseok's for a moment and he bites his lower lip under the scrutiny of Hoseok's gaze, turning his attention to Jin.
"Taehyung-ah?" Jin asks, his tone gentle, ten times softer than it had been when he'd last addressed Hoseok.
"It's time to go upstairs," the boy – Taehyung – says, almost timidly, risking another glance at Hoseok before flicking his eyes back to Jin. There's an urgency there, like Taehyung is afraid he's going to get in trouble if Jin doesn't comply.
Jin nods once in understanding, then gives Taehyung a smile. "Okay," he says, turning back to Hoseok, looking once again like the friend Hoseok remembers. "I'm sorry to do this," he says with a soft frown, "but we'll have to finish our conversation later." He stands then, reaching out and offering a hand to Hoseok. "Right now you need to come with me."
If Jimin thought the room he woke up in was ornate, it's nothing compared to the rest of this place. If anything it's more of a museum than a house, one huge room leading into another, each one intricately decorated with huge, elaborate portraits on nearly every wall, murals on the ceilings, and ivory statues littering the halls. It's very western, Jimin realizes, European, like something he'd find in France or England. There's probably some name for it, but he doesn't know what it is, just knows it doesn't feel like home in the slightest.
He swears he can hear the echoes of their breaths as they walk, the echo of his own heartbeat as they climb the giant marble staircase to yet another collection of dark and beautiful rooms. The flimsy white nightgown feels like barely any cover at all, and he keeps close to Jungkook, the lone sliver of familiarity in this whole strange nightmare.
And even that feels different. He can't explain how exactly, just that being closer to Jungkook makes him simultaneously restless and relaxed. Makes him hungry. Makes him want to touch in a way that's not entirely different from usual, just more difficult to ignore.
Jungkook reaches between them as they walk, curling his hand gently around Jimin's wrist, stoking that heady desperation for a moment before it evens out, calming the thrum of Jimin's blood in his veins.
Jimin realizes only a moment later that, if all of this is true, he shouldn't have blood at all. Or a heartbeat. That's… well, he's pretty sure that's a thing.
"Here," says the angry one just as they reach the doorway of another room.
Jimin hesitates, slowing his steps as they approach. He can't even begin to imagine who this Joon is or what he might mean to Jungkook. The only vampires Jimin can picture are stiff and rotting jiangshi or that purple American puppet that teaches little kids how to count in English.
If given a choice, Jimin definitely knows which one he's hoping for.
Jungkook clearly senses his hesitation and gives Jimin's wrist a squeeze before sliding his hand lower to link their fingers. "Come on, it's okay."
The first thing Jimin notices is how different this room is from the others. The walls are covered in a nearly garish floral design, the paper peeled in areas to reveal a shabby grey beneath. There's a bed against one wall, the bedding undone with sheets cascading to the floor, pillows slumped in disarray. Piles of books are scattered throughout, floor littered with unhung portraits, electrical cords, and discarded trinkets. It looks warmer than most of the other rooms Jimin had passed to get here, a little messy. Not messy like it's been abandoned or ransacked (apart from the scatter of glass against one wall) but just lived in.
"So you're Jimin."
The voice comes from a shadowed area in the far corner, and Jimin's heart leaps into his throat as he holds tight to Jungkook's hand, shifting to stand partially behind him. The angry one laughs, a sharp huff that makes Jimin's face heat, but his eyes remain locked on the figure, watching as it moves out of the shadow and into the light.
Jimin isn't sure what he'd been expecting, but it's not this, the face of a boy with high, round cheeks and dimples and hair that's nearly flopping into his eyes. A boy who can't be all that much older than Jimin himself. Despite his kind face, he's an imposing figure, taller than the rest of them with an air of majesty.
"Don't be scared," he says, his voice quiet and clearly intended to comfort, but something about it feels like an order and, weirdly, Jimin feels his shoulders obediently relaxing, his lungs filling with breath.
"Namjoon, yes," he says with a slight bow before stepping closer with one arm outstretched, his demeanor warm and inviting. "Come. Sit. Jin's bringing up our other new member, so I'll hold off on the explanations until they get here."
"Still can't believe you idiots turned two people in one fucking night," grumbles the small, angry one. Joon cuts him a glare, and it's enough to quiet him further, though the irritated expression on his face doesn't waver in the least.
"Sit," Joon says again, ushering Jimin toward the small loveseat situated near the center of the room.
Reluctantly, Jimin releases his hold on Jungkook's hand and moves to take a seat, stopping short as three more people walk into the room, one of them looking just as lost and terrified as himself.
Their eyes meet briefly, an unspoken understanding, a connection, as Jimin lowers onto the seat with shaky legs. There are six of them now, six including the one who looks as scared as Jimin feels. They're all men. Boys, really. Does that mean anything?
"Ah, and here's Hoseok," Joon says then, interrupting Jimin's thoughts and pulling the other boys' attentions away. He sighs, a quiet rush of breath that Jimin swears he can feel on the back of his neck, muttering, "Fuck, I'm too old for this."
As soon as they're in the hall, Taehyung catches Jin's hand, bumping into him in a fond, playful way. It makes Jin sidestep and weave a little, but his smile is sweet and genuine, and Hoseok can tell they're close, like brothers. It makes jealousy burn in Hoseok's chest, not because he feels possessive of Jin, but because it's been so long since he's been that close to someone that he can't even remember what it's like.
Taehyung whispers excitedly to Jin as Hoseok trails them through the large house's expansive halls. It still doesn't look like a place that should actually exist in real life, full of eclectic, expensive, plush furniture, looking like it was decorated by a schizophrenic art collector. It feels like it should be cold, but somehow it's not exactly, a little echoey but broken in, as if people have occupied this space for decades.
He wants to ask Jin if he lives here, if he's always lived here, if he's always been a– Hoseok still can't even make himself think the word, can't believe it, because this sort of thing is just in stories, in bad horror films, Chinese folklore. Still, things have been serious enough so far that it makes no sense that this is a prank, the expressions on Jin's face (the tears in his eyes) too genuine. So Hoseok has no idea what to think, what to feel.
They come to a wide, spiral staircase, and Taehyung rushes up the steps, taking them two at a time. Jin turns at the foot, eyes moving over Hoseok as if checking on him.
"It's going to be okay," Jin tells him with a soft smile, and Hoseok almost believes it for a moment, just from the warmth in Jin's eyes.
They take a left at the top of the stairs, and Taehyung is waiting for them outside a door at the end of the hall, fidgeting with the hem of his soft, linen shirt. As soon as they get close, he pops the door open, slipping inside, and Hoseok feels a sudden chill run through him, real enough that it has him tugging the sleeves of his lightweight hoodie down over his hands, bunching his fingers in the fabric. Jin ushers him into the room with a hand at the small of his back, and the touch warms him a little, calms him, if even just for a second.
This room, unlike the rest of the house, looks lived in. It's messy, but not in a dirty way; there are possessions here, strewn around, bed unmade, clothes hanging on the backs of chairs, empty goblets on the side table. But Hoseok doesn't have a lot of time to examine the space because there are four other people in the room, and all of them (in addition to Jin and Taehyung), are looking at him. One of them – a boy with silver hair who's wearing nothing but a white dressing gown – has an expression on his face that looks exactly how Hoseok feels, and Hoseok can't pull his eyes away. Not until he hears someone say his name.
"Ah, and here's Hoseok."
Hoseok turns his head, an icy chill running up his back at the inappropriate familiarity with which those words are uttered, and his gaze locks with the man who spoke. Despite the fact that he looks Hoseok's age, there's something about his eyes that makes him seem much, much older. Hoseok swallows hard, not sure what he's supposed to do or say, but then the other man breaks eye contact with an exhausted sigh.
"Fuck, I'm too old for this," he says, glancing at a tall bottle sitting on a table across the room like he's seriously considering pouring himself a drink. He seems to shake off the impulse quickly, however, gesturing toward the boy sitting on the couch.
"Please sit," he says, and while his tone is kind and welcoming, there's a commanding presence behind it that has Hoseok moving before he thinks about it. He gives the silver haired boy a weak smile before he turns to sit beside him. Unsurprisingly, the boy doesn't return the smile. As he sits, Hoseok presses his feet together, folding his hands on his lap in an effort to take up as little space as possible.
"Hoseok," the man says, nodding at him, then he nods to the silver haired boy, saying, "Jimin." They glance at each other again, and that's when Hoseok notices the puncture marks on the other boy's neck. He barely resists the urge to touch his own, to swear under his breath, because fuck. Fuck.
"My name is Kim Namjoon," the man introduces himself, touching the center of his chest with his fingertips. He moves his hand then, gesturing with his palm up toward the other occupants of the room, one at a time.
First he points to a surly looking guy with dark hair, dark eyes, and what looks like a permanent scowl. "Min Yoongi," Namjoon says, the surly guy grunting in reply. Next he introduces the boy from downstairs, Kim Taehyung, then Hoseok's friend, Kim Seokjin, and finally one other boy, one with light brown hair who looks even younger and more anxious than Taehyung, calling him Jeon Jungkook.
"You've both already been told," Namjoon says, once the introductions are complete, "what you are now." He gives both Hoseok and Jimin a long look, likely reading their expressions, then offers a small smile. "But I appreciate that it's hard to believe," he adds, slipping his hands into the pockets of his black trousers.
There's a long moment of silence then, Jungkook rocking from foot to foot, edging a little nearer to the sofa with each movement, trying to get closer to Jimin, judging by the way he keeps looking in Jimin's direction. Taehyung is fidgeting again too, and Yoongi is glaring at pretty much everyone in turns from where he's leaning against the wall next to the door, arms crossed over his chest. The only one who looks calm, beyond Namjoon, is Jin, sitting now on the edge of the bed, observing.
"I apologize for the inquisition. It's been five years since we've had someone new," Namjoon explains, looking briefly at Jungkook, "and this is the first time we've ever had two at once."
"For a fucking reason," Yoongi growls under his breath, and Namjoon shoots him a warning look that only results in Yoongi glowering back at him.
"This is my house," Namjoon tells them. "I've lived here my whole life, for a little over two hundred and fifty years." Hoseok blinks as he tries to absorb this information, and Jimin exhales beside him, obviously trying to process himself. "Everyone who lives here is part of my family. And each one of us is a vampire."
Hoseok's eyes move straight to Jin then, and he's not sure if he's starting to really believe this or not, but pieces are falling into place. Jin said it before, but now Hoseok knows it: Jin made him into this, into what he is now. There's no way he can remember it, but he has a flash through his head, Jin's hand tilting his jaw, Jin's breath on the side of his neck, Jin's teeth–
He gasps just as Jimin, beside him, makes a strange whimpering sound.
"This is too much," Jungkook says abruptly, striding to Jimin's side and taking his hand. "Please, can we just–"
"They have to know this shit," Yoongi cuts him off, pushing away from the wall to approach Jungkook. "It's not like either of them are getting a good night's sleep anytime fucking soon."
"Suga," Jin warns from across the room, and Yoongi bristles, but backs down, moving to the other side of the room and kicking over a stack of books, earning him a dirty look from Namjoon. "They don't have to know it all right now," Jin adds, his kind eyes fixed on Hoseok.
"But they do have to feed," Namjoon replies, tone matter of fact as he addresses Jin.
Two hundred and fifty years.
That's all Jimin can hear for a moment, all he can focus on. It should be just another outrageous claim to add to the pile of outrageous things he's heard since he woke up, but somehow it feels true. As true as the flimsy gown he's wearing and the polished hardwood under his feet and the puncture marks on his neck.
As true as Jungkook's hand tightly gripping his.
It's Joon's voice that pulls his attention back to the conversation. "Feed?" he asks, his stomach sinking as he realizes what that probably means. He may not know all that much about vampires, but he knows enough. "What? No." He shakes his head as the dread within him mounts. "No."
Joon's expression is strangely sad, almost apologetic, and Jimin, desperate for this not to mean what he knows it does, looks to Hoseok then to the smaller one just behind them, Taehyung, who actually manages to give Jimin a small smile.
"It's okay," the boy says. "It's a little weird at first, but you get used to it. I mean, I don't know how it feels on the feeding side, but it's pretty cool to be fed on." The boy's wide smile flickers just a little before he adds, "I miss it." Confusion is all wrapped up with the horror of the situation, and Jimin opens his mouth in objection before Taehyung practically springs forward, his eyes bright and lips spread into a wide, excited smile once again. "Oh, what's your blood type! I can't believe I didn't ask that before! Are you AB? Please tell me you're AB!"
Jimin blinks, his gaze sliding to Jungkook for a second before he finds his voice again. "Uh, A. Just A."
Next to him, Hoseok swallows, glancing at Jimin before saying very quietly, "Me too."
"Are you fucking kidding me?"
Six pairs of eyes turn to the small, angry one, Yoongi or Suga or whatever his name is. Impossibly, his scowl is somehow even more furious than before, eyes narrowed as he glares first at Jungkook and then the other one. (Seokjin? Jimin thinks that's his name. There's just so many of them and Jungkook's the only one he knows. He can't keep it all straight.)
"Not only did you assholes manage to turn two people in one goddamn night, but you couldn't at least make one of them useful?"
Instinctively, Jimin cringes and hunches forward, his gaze passing over Jungkook for a second before darting away again. He knows it's not his fault, he can't help his blood type and he definitely didn't choose to be turned into a vampire, but he can't help feeling guilty all the same.
"Yoongi," says Joon, the obvious leader. His voice is quiet and stern, but then Seokjin jumps in, his tone clipped, ice cold, "I panicked, alright? I thought you of all people might understand that."
Yoongi replies with something like a growl, but he otherwise falls quiet and Jimin glances over toward the excitable one again, Taehyung, and frowns when he notices that the boy's dimmed considerably, his shoulders hunched as he stares down at the floor. Joon seems to notice as well, and he holds out an arm, beckoning Taehyung to him. Taehyung complies easily, curling into Joon's side as Joon cards his fingers through the boy's blond hair, leaning down and pressing a kiss to his forehead before turning his attention back to Jimin and Hoseok.
"You're both type A," he says, and Jimin gives a stilted sort of nod, can see Hoseok out the corner of his eye obediently doing the same. "Okay, this part should be easy at least. Kook, you take Jimin. Hoseok, you'll stay with me."
Jimin only has a vague idea of what this all means, but knowing he'll at least be going with Jungkook, even if he's not sure where or exactly why, is a relief.
But Hoseok immediately sits up taller, eyes wide as he starts shaking his head. "No. No, why can't I go with Jin? I want to go with Jin."
"Jin's type O," Joon replies calmly, rubbing a soothing hand along Taehyung's arm. "His blood is toxic to you."
"And me," Taehyung says. It sounds suspiciously like a pout.
Joon continues on, unheeded. "A single bite from one of us isn't enough to complete the transformation. You have to feed. This can be human blood but, as you can see, we're a little short on humans right now. And it's easier this way. Less paperwork."
"Easier." Jimin nearly doesn't realize he's spoken until six pairs of eyes are on him, and he huffs out a breath. It's not a laugh, not really, but he's starting to feel slightly hysterical as he realizes it is just exactly what he feared. "So you're saying I… I have to– to–" He can't quite get the word out, can't make himself say it. "On Jungkook. Or… or what? What happens if I don't? What if I refuse?"
"Jimin," Jungkook whispers, gripping him tightly.
And Joon sighs. His expression turns sad once again as he looks Jimin directly in the eye. "Then you'll die. Painfully."
It's too much, all the sudden (as if it wasn't too much before), being told that they have to feed off someone, that the alternative is a painful death. And beyond that, Hoseok can't even do this impossible, insane thing with Jin; instead he has to do it with an intense, mildly terrifying stranger. He sits unmoving on the sofa in a daze as Jimin tries to negotiate a way out, Jungkook trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to calm him.
Hoseok's jolted back into the full awareness of his surroundings when Yoongi, apparently finally hitting his irritation threshold, shoves out of the room, kicking a side table on the way out and tipping a lit candle onto a well worn rug, starting a small fire that Jin rushes to extinguish. Taehyung watches the commotion with wide eyes until the imminent fire danger has been mitigated, then hurries through the door himself.
Beside Hoseok, Jimin exhales a tremulous sigh, allowing Jungkook to help him up to a standing position. Hoseok watches with something that feels like it could be jealousy as Jungkook laces their fingers together and leads Jimin slowly out of the room, leaving Hoseok alone with Jin and Namjoon.
Jin, looking a bit haggard, crosses over to him, sitting carefully in the space Jimin just vacated. He takes a long, deep breath before laying a cautious hand on Hoseok's knee.
"Do I really have to do this?" Hoseok asks, his voice low and shaky with fear.
"I'm sorry," Jin replies, his expression pained, and Hoseok wonders if Jin's thinking the same thing he is; he'd had a peaceful death before, no pain, and now his choices are to live as a vampire, or die again, but this time in immense pain. Jin takes another measured breath, squeezing Hoseok's leg. "You don't have to be scared," he says, tone warm and comforting, and Hoseok feels fractionally better. "I've known Namjoon for a long time. He might look a little intimidating, but you can trust him. He takes good care of all of us. He'll take care of you."
Hoseok swallows, turning his gaze to where the man in question is restacking the books Yoongi knocked over earlier, crouched as he examines the titles and organizes them in some system likely only he understands. Right now, when Hoseok really looks at him, Namjoon doesn't seem that intimidating. He looks young, maybe even a little vulnerable in his blue and green floral housecoat and slippers, rusty brown hair neatly combed across his smooth forehead.
As if sensing the scrutiny, Namjoon turns his head toward them and Hoseok blinks, sitting back a bit, but not feeling any desire to look away.
"You telling lies about me again, Jin?" Namjoon asks, deep voice resonating with a tone of teasing as he quirks a smile, a dimple appearing in his cheek.
"So many," Jin replies, a grin in his eyes as he pushes off Hoseok's thigh to stand.
"Don't leave me," Hoseok pleads, reaching out and gripping Jin's wrist a little desperately. Jin turns his eyes to Namjoon, and then back to Hoseok, moving to take Hoseok's hand in his own.
"I can't stay," Jin explains gently. "But I'll be right outside, okay? If you need me, call for me. I'll come right away. I promise." He squeezes Hoseok's fingers in his own, then releases Hoseok's hand, offering another reassuring smile before he turns and exits the room, shutting the door behind him.
And then Hoseok is alone. With a 250 year old vampire. From whom he has to, assumedly, drink some amount of blood, or he'll die in agony.
It occurs to him then, as his treacherous brain attempts to create a mental image of what's about to happen, that none of these so called blood suckers seem to actually have fangs.
"How does this work?" he asks aloud, the sound of his voice prompting Namjoon to stand, tilting his head in curiosity. "I mean, I have these," he goes on, reaching up to touch the pair of puncture wounds on the side of his throat, "but Jin doesn't have fangs. None of you have them. I don't have them."
"Ah," Namjoon replies with a nod, crossing to the bed which rests against the wall perpendicular to where Hoseok still sits. "We only have them when we need them," he explains, unfastening the buttons on his jacket so it hangs open, revealing a ruffled white shirt beneath.
Hoseok finds himself tonguing his own canines, but they feel the same as they always have. "So," he starts, then shakes his head. "I can control that? When it happens?"
"Not exactly," Namjoon answers. "I can show you. If you want," he adds, opening the top button on his shirt, his tone and expression silently asking Hoseok to join him.
Hoseok hesitates, but only for a moment; something compels him to stand, despite his anxiety, and his steps carry him to the bed where he sits a couple of feet away from Namjoon. He swallows hard as Namjoon shifts to close the distance between them, facing Hoseok as he settles back down cross legged.
"I can smell your blood," Namjoon says, licking his lips. "I know it's safe for me. I could drink from you if I wanted to. If you wanted me to." Hoseok feels himself tremble at the dangerous edge to Namjoon's voice, dark and almost seductive, and he thinks he sees a burst of violet flash in Namjoon's eyes, but it happens so quickly he can't tell if he really saw it or not. Namjoon takes a deep breath, then exhales slowly, opening his mouth so Hoseok can see, a shiver running through Hoseok at the sight of sharp fangs, now prominent.
"Fuck," Hoseok breathes, his heart rate kicking up as the reality of the situation crashes into him. "And I, that will happen to me too?" he asks, his voice trembling.
"It already has," Namjoon tells him, and Hoseok reaches up to his own mouth, finding the protruding teeth easily with the pads of his fingers. "Oh my god," he gasps, feeling the points of his teeth with his tongue again. "Oh my god."
"Your body already knows what it needs," Namjoon says, grabbing the lapels of his housecoat and working it over his shoulders, slipping it off and dropping it to the floor beside the bed. Hoseok's eyes go wide as Namjoon begins unbuttoning his shirt as well, shaking with a conflicting rush of feelings, fear and discomfort and a sudden, crushing hunger. "I hope you don't mind me taking my shirt off," Namjoon says as he continues opening buttons. "This is usually pretty messy the first few times."
"Holy shit," Hoseok swears softly, his eyes falling to the expanse of tan skin being slowly exposed before him. "Holy fucking shit."
Once all the buttons are opened, Namjoon shrugs off his shirt, Hoseok staring unabashedly at Namjoon's naked torso, at the faint ridges of Namjoon's muscles, abdominals and pectorals, at dark nipples and arching collarbones. Namjoon inhales, his chest expanding, and Hoseok lifts his eyes to Namjoon's face, caught in his ogling.
"Give me your hand," Namjoon says, reaching out with one of his own, and Hoseok offers his without thinking, gasping softly when Namjoon takes it, guiding it to his throat. "Right there," he says, voice low. "Where you can feel my pulse. Put your teeth to me there." And then he releases Hoseok's hand with a squeeze, tipping his head, offering himself.
Before Jin left the room, Hoseok didn't think there was any way he would be interested in or feel okay with sucking someone else's blood. But now, sitting here face to face with Namjoon, Namjoon's heartbeat thudding steadily beneath his fingertips, he feels thirsty like he never has before, a thirst for which he suddenly has a stomach clenching certainty how to quench.
Pushing up to his knees, he slips his fingers away from Namjoon's pulse point, cupping the curve of his shoulder instead, and leaning in toward Namjoon's neck. He hesitates an inch away, unable to see the fluttering of Namjoon's heartbeat in the artery from this close, worried now he's not going to be able to find the right place.
"Feel it with your lips," Namjoon suggests, his voice low and husky near Hoseok's ear. Hoseok wets his lips unconsciously, then presses them, trembling, against Namjoon's skin, holding his breath as he feels the steady jump of Namjoon's pulse. "Bite down, puncture the skin, then draw back and drink," Namjoon instructs, and Hoseok gasps softly when Namjoon's warm palm slips up over the back of his neck. But the touch is steadying more than anything, and Hoseok tests the placement with his lips once more before he opens his mouth.
"Just like kissing," Namjoon soothes, his fingers rubbing gently at Hoseok's nape, and Hoseok drags his teeth down, fangs catching and piercing Namjoon's skin with alarming ease, causing him to inhale sharply while Namjoon groans low in his throat. "That's it," Namjoon coaxes, voice rough as his fingertips press against the base of Hoseok's skull. "Drink."
Hoseok does as he's told, shifting to seal his lips against the side of Namjoon's neck, the warm flood of Namjoon's blood flowing over his tongue. It doesn't taste like Hoseok thinks it should, not cloying or coppery, like metal in his mouth. Instead it's like cool water after days without, like a perfect, steaming bowl of seaweed soup, and he braces his hand on the other side of Namjoon's neck as he swallows the rush of it pumping past his lips with Namjoon's pulse, insatiable. As he drinks, he feels his body coming to life, heat spiking and pooling low in his belly, and he moans at the pleasure of it, at the sound of Namjoon's voice calling out in kind. Namjoon's fingers slide into his hair, catching a loose handful, not holding him down, but keeping him close, like he doesn't want it to end either.
Hoseok can't believe how good it feels, the sensation of the blood in his throat as he swallows, the electricity that flows between him and Namjoon at every point where they touch. Hoseok doesn't know Namjoon at all, but he feels like he wants to consume him, be consumed by him, until there's nothing left of either of them. He feels like he wants more, to be closer, to have Namjoon's hands on him, to press their bodies together, to feel Namjoon's teeth at his throat.
It rises in a crescendo, Namjoon's fingers twisted hard in the strands of Hoseok's hair as his voice climbs, a flash of something that can only be described as ecstasy bursting at Hoseok's center, forcing him away from Namjoon's neck with a shudder and a broken cry, his head falling back as Namjoon releases him. His breathing is heavy as he lifts his head, feeling sticky blood along his chin and throat, seeing trails of it drying against the skin of Namjoon's heaving chest, shining in the groove of Namjoon's clavicle and following the curves and hollows of his abs.
"You did well," Namjoon tells him, his voice raw and breathless as he lifts a hand to Hoseok's mouth, brushing the pad of his thumb across Hoseok's swollen, trembling lower lip. "You did so well."
Hoseok nods, swallowing hard and feeling deeply satiated and suddenly, achingly exhausted. But he also feels grateful, and he lifts a hand to Namjoon's cheek, leaning in to press a lingering, thankful kiss to Namjoon's lips before a peaceful darkness rises up and envelops him.
He should be horrified. Jungkook's stretched out beneath him, splayed across half the couch, blood absolutely everywhere, staining Jungkook's shirt and the entire front of Jimin's flimsy dressing gown a deep crimson, streaks of it down his chin and clinging to his skin. It looks like a massacre, like a mauling, the heavy, thick smell of copper everywhere, coating the back of his throat. But it isn't cloying like it should be. Isn't repulsive or even unpleasant.
Jimin feels a little like he's floating, his body humming like he's downed a dozen energy drinks and snorted a pound of cocaine and graduated university and fallen into a basket of kittens all at the same time.
Euphoric is the only word he can think in that moment, every one of his nerves vibrating even as he stares down at the bloodied body of his best friend. They're both breathing hard and there's sweat trailing down the side of Jungkook's face, and it's been a pretty long time since Jimin last had sex but this… this is very much how he remembers it feeling. The afterglow.
Except there's a lot more blood.
And it's Jungkook.
That's enough to sober him. As many times as he's imagined pressing his mouth to Jungkook's neck, it's never been with anything like this in mind. He licks his lips, flinching in surprise when he catches his tongue on the sharp point of one of his own canines.
"Jungkook," he says then, lifting a shaky hand to his mouth to wipe at some of the mess with the back of his wrist. Despite the horrific scene, he knows Jungkook's alive. Not only can Jimin see the steady rise and fall of Jungkook's chest, but he can hear his heartbeat, can feel it. It pumps in time with Jimin's, a steady throbbing pulse that Jimin can feel everywhere – in his chest, his arms, his head. Between his legs. Jungkook slowly opens his heavy-lidded eyes and smiles fondly up at him.
He looks exactly how Jimin feels: completely fucked out.
It's more breath than word, a caress that slides down the entire length of Jimin's spine, and he nearly shivers before a sudden realization crashes over him like a bucket of cold water.
He lets out a soft, stilted laugh and shakes his head. "But I'm not, am I?"
"Hmm?" Jungkook is clearly dazed, his eyes locked on Jimin as he reaches up to loosely curl one hand around the unmarred side of Jimin's neck, a warm and familiar touch. "You're not what?"
Jimin swallows, feels the press of his Adam's apple against Jungkook's palm. "Your hyung."
Because now that Jimin's really thinking about it, if Namjoon is 250 years old and still looks barely a few years older than Jimin himself, then how old is Jungkook? It's only one question in a whole list of things he still doesn't understand and, as small a detail as it might be, it's dug its claws under his skin. Somehow the fact that Jungkook's kept such a huge secret as being a freaking vampire quiet for this long is nothing compared to the idea that he's probably been lying about his age the whole time, too.
Jungkook's smile fades a little then and he blinks, no longer looking nearly so dazed. "It's only been a few years for me," he says, and some part of Jimin is relieved for some reason. But disappointed too, and he doesn't even know why. What difference does it make at the end of the day? It's not like they've ever been very formal, especially not since they started sharing a place.
But he wants to know, suddenly and fiercely. "How old are you?"
"Don't call me that."
Jungkook's eyes turn steely and he drops his hand from Jimin's neck to push himself into a sitting position, blood-sticky shirt clinging to his skin. Jimin refuses to look too closely, refuses to think about how good he looks covered in red, how sweet his blood had tasted. "I didn't lie to you," he says, and Jimin can't help the hysterical bubble of laughter that pushes past his lips. "Not– I mean, I did, but not by a lot. I had to lie for university, okay? And it's never really mattered much with us anyway, has it?"
Jungkook isn't wrong, not really. But Jimin's throat is threatening to close up all the same. It's so, so stupid, and yet he can't seem to make himself not be upset. "Just tell me. Answer me."
Jungkook's quiet for a minute. Then, "Twenty-three."
It's not nearly as bad as Jimin had feared, but his stomach sinks a little all the same. Because Jungkook's been his hyung this entire time and he never had any idea. It's more than just the lies eating at him, it's that this one, singular revelation is suddenly coloring every single memory of Jungkook, all those times they spent teasing and pushing each other around, play fighting and sometimes actually fighting. All those times he spoke informally because there's only a couple years between them and, as the older one, he could call the shots on that kind of thing. All those times Jimin's wanted to protect him, all those times he's been tangled up in knots and hating himself for the constant want thrumming under his skin, all the promises he made himself over and over and over that he wouldn't take advantage.
If Jungkook's telling the truth now, there's still only a couple years separating them, but it's in the other direction.
"Please don't call me hyung," Jungkook says, and Jimin wonders if mindreading is a vampire thing. "And don't… I mean, I know I don't exactly have any room to make requests, but it's– it'd be weird, I think. If we switched it now."
"Right, that's what's weird," Jimin says with a rough, pained laugh.
Jungkook seems to deflate a little, curling inward in a way Jimin hasn't seen in a long, long time. Since before they became roommates, back when Jungkook was a wide-eyed, self-conscious freshman. "I didn't lie about everything," he says, picking at the hem of his bloodstained shirt. "I have a mom and dad and a brother, none of that was a lie. They just... they all think I'm dead. I changed that a little, I'm the dead one, not them. Sort of. I changed my name when I enrolled in university, but only by a little bit." He falls quiet again for a minute, frowning down at his own hand. "And I really did win a singing competition when I was younger," he adds defensively. "Back in Busan. I was going to audition for one of the entertainment companies, but that, uh. Well. That never happened."
Jimin's never been able to handle Jungkook when he's like this. And whether or not Jimin's actually older doesn't seem to have any impact on that familiar ache in his gut as he instinctively slides closer, settling his shoulder against Jungkook's. He can still hardly believe any of this is real, can't shake that he's completely out of his depth, but even if Jungkook's been lying all this time, he's still the closest thing to home Jimin has right now.
And he's still Jimin's best friend.
With a sigh, he rests his head on Jungkook's shoulder. Jungkook smells like blood, the scent sweet and lingering and all mixed in with how Jungkook always smells. Jimin squirms in closer, reaches out to rest his hand over Jungkook's nervous fingers and asks, "Why'd you let them think that?"
His head is jostled by Jungkook's faint shrug. "Easier that way. Easier than explaining all this."
That much Jimin can understand. He stares at their hands, brushes his fingertips over the ridges of Jungkook's knuckles.
"They almost didn't let me go to school," Jungkook further explains. "Namjoon-hyung and Yoongi-hyung, I mean. It can be dangerous out there for people like us. If anyone finds out what we are, they could… It could be really bad. But I was just– I got so bored. Tae's the only one here close to my age and he was turned, like, twenty years ago. I just wanted to be around people born in the same century as me, you know?"
Jimin responds by ducking his face against Jungkook's sharp shoulder. It should be weird, he thinks, now that he knows how Jungkook's skin feels beneath his mouth, how he sounds when someone's sucking on his neck. He wonders if there should be some new lines drawn now, ones that have never really been there before. Because he feels a little like he's taking something that doesn't belong to him, but then maybe that's fair. Jungkook did what he did without asking, after all. He never stopped to see if Jimin even wanted to be saved.
He could have just let Jimin die.
"So they let me enroll, but I had to be careful. It was pretty easy at the beginning because I never really talked to anyone and no one asked a lot of questions and it was cool to just… be with people again – normal people – and learning things. Making music and dancing and just living again. But then I met you and–"
He cuts himself off there and Jimin makes a noise because he really wants to know what else Jungkook has to say. He doesn't speak up though, doesn't ask anything, too afraid of knocking Jungkook completely off his train of thought. It's rare for Jungkook to talk about his feelings, a fact that makes a lot more sense now, but this moment still feels fragile. Jimin just has to be patient.
"I don't know if I would've told you," Jungkook admits, his voice barely more than a whisper. Jimin closes his eyes so he can concentrate on picking up every word. "Not because– I mean, I wanted to tell you so many times, but I was so scared, hyung. I couldn't handle you hating me."
Jimin can feel the click of Jungkook's throat when he swallows and holds on tighter when Jungkook sucks in a shaking breath.
"I'm sorry. I really am. When I saw you lying there, I just– I panicked. I wasn't thinking, I–"
And Jimin can't take it anymore. He shifts abruptly, letting go of Jungkook's hand to reach for his face instead, cupping it as he pulls back. Jungkook's eyes are red, but he's not crying. Not yet. Still, that's more than Jimin's ever wanted to see, and he swallows tightly as he shakes his head.
"Don't," he says. His eyes drop to Jungkook's lips, then lower to the gash on his neck, the drying blood painting his pale skin.
Unlike Jungkook, Jimin can't say he's panicking, can't say he doesn't know just exactly what he's doing when he presses his lips to Jungkook's.
In the past two years, the two of them have shared nearly everything, but not this, never a kiss like this. Clothes and food, yes. Books, bad habits, beds. The shower that one time when they were both late to class.
And now they've shared blood.
So maybe that's why he does it. Maybe they don't need new lines drawn, maybe it's time for what few they've ever had to be erased instead. Or maybe he's still a little high from the blood flowing through him or maybe he's just tired from dying and being brought back and trying to bend his mind around to the idea that he's– he's a monster now. An actual monster that no one in their right mind would ever believe actually exists.
But here he is, and Jungkook is right here with him, and he doesn't have the energy to fight anymore.
He doesn't push it, doesn't let himself get completely lost in the warm press of Jungkook's lips (however much he wants to) before he pulls away, his heart pounding so hard he can feel the pulse in his temples.
Jungkook's eyes are wide open, locked on Jimin's, and it's only then Jimin realizes– "I can feel your heart beating."
"Yeah, that's– It happens," Jungkook explains, still looking dazed. "I can feel Jin's sometimes. And yours now." He pauses a second, pulling in a breath.
That's probably something they should talk about. All of it. Especially the kiss.
Jungkook opens his mouth again like he wants to do just that, wants to ask or explain or apologize again, but Jimin's reached his breaking point.
"Can I take a shower?" he asks as he pushes himself abruptly to his feet, wobbling slightly.
Jungkook blinks. "Oh. Uh. Yeah."
"You should take one, too."
As much space as there is in this giant room, this giant museum of a house, Jimin suddenly feels completely closed in.
He glances toward the doors at the far side of the room, wonders if either of them leads to a bathroom. He's shaking again, he realizes. He's cold without Jungkook pressed against him, feels naked in the flimsy dressing gown, feels small and lost and weirdly alone even with his best friend just feet away.
"The one on the left," Jungkook says then, answering Jimin's unvoiced question, and Jimin leaves without another word, fighting the sting in his eyes and the sudden tightness of his throat as he hurries away, his footsteps silent on the wooden floor.
Like everything else in this place, the bathroom is immense, nearly the size of Jimin's entire apartment. An enormous, clawfoot bathtub stands at the very end of the room, settled below an expansive window, two huge, leafy plants bracketing it on either side. The walls seem to be built around it, curved as though fashioned specifically for that particular fixture. It's somehow cold and inviting both at once and, for a moment, Jimin's tempted to sink into its depths, to let warm water surround him entirely, swallow him up.
But, he's suddenly reminded of earlier, of what Jungkook had said about finding him, that look on his face, the one Jimin never wants to see ever again, and he stays where he is, glancing instead at the enormous vanity against the wall to his left. And that's a mistake too, because there's a mirror above it, ornately framed and stretching at least five feet in length, showing off the enormous glass-walled shower in its reflection, but not–
Not the boy standing directly in front of it.
Hoseok begins to wake to the soft murmur of voices, to the feeling of his throat being gently stroked by a warm, damp cloth. It's really nice, the feeling of being safe and cared for, and he relaxes into it, almost enough to drift back to sleep. But then he starts to understand the words being spoken around him, to recognize the owners of the voices, and, still drowsy, he allows himself the indulgence of just listening for a few moments without stirring.
"We'll need to get him something clean to wear," Namjoon says, voice pitched low, and Hoseok can tell now that he's the one who's so tenderly cleaning his own blood from Hoseok's throat.
"I've got something that should work for now," Jin replies, and Hoseok should probably be offended that they're talking over him like he's part of the furniture, but he's so exhausted that he doesn't mind being taken care of like this. A moment later Jin takes a breath, states carefully, "You like him."
There's a pause, both in the conversation and in the movement of the cloth over Hoseok's skin. "I don't know him," Namjoon says after another beat, beginning to wipe the stickiness away from Hoseok's neck and chest once more.
"And yet..." Jin replies, a knowing tone to his voice, and Namjoon sighs but doesn't make any further attempts at denial.
"He should sleep with you," Namjoon says then, just as the cloth moves away from Hoseok's throat, and Hoseok shivers at the cool air that replaces it.
"Are you cold?" Jin asks softly, clearly addressing Hoseok now, and Hoseok realizes that both Jin and Namjoon probably knew the instant he was awake. He feels Jin reach out to touch him, wide palm a comforting warmth against Hoseok's thigh, and Hoseok is suddenly aware that he can feel not only his own heartbeat in his chest, but someone else's – Jin's, he somehow knows – like it's right beside his own. He takes a shuddering breath, shaking his head and licking dry lips as he finally blinks open his eyes.
"Are you sure?" Namjoon wonders, his bare hand against the side of Hoseok's neck now, comforting, maddening, making Hoseok's pulse skip.
It takes Hoseok a moment to answer, still so groggy and overwhelmed. There are a lot of things he really needs to think about, but right now the only thing in his head is how desperately drawn he feels to Namjoon, still a stranger, and Jin, a new sort of intense closeness, one like he's never felt in his life. "I'm fine," he manages after a moment, his voice sounding rough. He clears his throat.
"Do you think you can stand?" Namjoon asks, his eyes meeting Hoseok's as he strokes the edge of Hoseok's jaw with his thumb. There's a part of Hoseok that wants to shake his head, to just fall back to sleep here in Namjoon's bed and maybe never get up. He's dead, as far as anyone outside this house is concerned, and he's pretty sure that means he doesn't have to go anywhere or do anything. Maybe ever again.
Instead he nods, and Namjoon helps him sit with a firm hand on his back. Hoseok pauses there for a moment, his head a little dizzy, but Jin and Namjoon are able to get him out of the bed and, once he's standing, the ringing in his ears dissipates and he feels more stable and focused than he has in a really long time. He looks into Namjoon's eyes then, feeling like he wants to say something, but nothing really seems right. He offers a small smile instead, one that Namjoon returns, showing the dimple in his left cheek, and it's probably insane, but Hoseok immediately thinks so cute, his own grin widening, and Namjoon's following in kind.
"Goodnight Hoseok," Namjoon says, and Hoseok carries his smile and the sudden warmth in his chest into the hall as Jin escorts him back downstairs.
"I told you you didn't have to be scared," Jin says, his hand finding the nape of Hoseok's neck briefly and squeezing before he smooths his palm down to fit into the small of Hoseok's back. "I knew Namjoon would take good care of you. You're lucky to have the same blood type as him."
Jin's tone sounds a little wistful, and it makes Hoseok wonder if Jin's experience was a lot less pleasant than the one he just had. It's probably not his place to ask, but he feels so comfortable with Jin now, so close to him, that the words come out before he even thinks to stop himself, asking, "What was it like for you?"
"When I turned?" Jin wonders, seemingly a little caught off guard. Hoseok blushes a bit at that but nods, and Jin does the same as they begin to descend the stairs. "It was…" Jin starts, then pauses for a moment, as if choosing his words carefully. "The situation was different for me," he finally says.
"Different how?" Hoseok asks, curious enough to push the boundaries of their newly redefined friendship.
"Well, to start, I was given a choice," Jin replies, leading Hoseok back down the hallway toward the room where Hoseok first woke up hours ago.
"Why did you say yes?" Hoseok inquires, and Jin laughs softly, ushering Hoseok into the bedroom and closing the door behind them.
"Because I was in love," Jin answers, and Hoseok knows the expression on his face must be ridiculous, because Jin laughs again. But the levity doesn't last when Hoseok starts to really think about it, remembering the way Jin spoke earlier, and it doesn't make sense, the sudden feeling of jealousy that rises at the back of Hoseok's throat, but it's there nonetheless.
He licks his lips. "Namjoon?" he guesses, hoping his expression doesn't look as stricken as he suddenly feels.
Jin responds with another soft laugh. "No. Though that probably would have been a lot easier."
The sense of relief is even more confusing and dizzying, but Hoseok tries to swallow it down. "Is, um," he starts, watching as Jin crosses the room to a tall dresser and opens one of the drawers. "Are you still together? You and, uh…"
Jin sighs, pulling some clothes out of the drawer before shutting it and turning back to Hoseok. "It's complicated," Jin responds, sounding a little weary as he crosses back to Hoseok, passing him the clothing in his hands. "Hopefully these will fit you well enough for tonight," he says, and it's not the most effective subject change ever, but Hoseok knows how to read Jin well enough to let the topic go as he unfolds a pair of soft pajama pants with a matching buttoned top.
"This house is huge, but we only have four bedrooms set up at the moment," Jin explains. "It's okay if you don't want to share my bed. I can find somewhere else, at least until we get you your own room."
"No!" Hoseok says in a rush, feeling heat flood his cheeks in embarrassment. "I, um. I think it would be better if you stayed. I mean, if I stayed with you." He laughs, but they both know it's a poor attempt at hiding Hoseok's obvious fear. "Please stay," he tries again, and Jin smiles, nodding in understanding.
"There's an attached bathroom," Jin says, nodding toward a door on the far end of the room. "I put a toothbrush and a washcloth on the vanity for you. And there's a towel on the rack beside the shower, if you want to bathe tonight."
Despite everything, it's this conversation that makes Hoseok feel more overwhelmed than he has since he woke up. Because it's so normal, like he's staying the night with a friend rather than starting a new life as a supernatural being. Hoseok gives Jin as much of a smile as he can manage, thanking him before he walks on trembling legs toward the ensuite, closing the door behind him.
Once he's alone in the bathroom, Hoseok stares at himself in the mirror. He looks paler than usual, dark circles standing out under his eyes, the evidence of Jin's intervention glaring in the two swollen, red marks on the side of his neck. He touches them with careful fingertips, and though they still hurt, the pain is much duller now than it was even just a few hours ago.
Despite everything that's happened here, looking at himself now, Hoseok feels the same as he did when he got out of his bed this morning, like someone he doesn't know is staring back at him from his reflection. But something happens when he lets his vision go blurry; he thinks about the other people here, of Jimin, who's somehow in the same situation he is, of the sorrow and concern he'd seen in Jin's eyes, of the intensity and kindness in Namjoon's entire presence, and he feels strangely like he belongs here, more than he's ever belonged anywhere.
Swallowing, he looks away from the mirror, strips himself of his clothes, and slips into the shower, cleaning himself quickly. He dries off, brushes his teeth, and puts on the pajamas Jin offered, smelling Jin's scent on them and feeling instantly comforted by it. The lights are low when he moves back into the bedroom, Jin reading by the bedside light, but he looks up when Hoseok appears, his expression soft and expectant. Hoseok swallows again, crossing to set his dirty clothes on the trunk at the foot of the bed before moving to the unoccupied side of the mattress, only hesitating a moment before he slips beneath the bedding at Jin's side. Somehow he can feel Jin's relief, even though he doesn't glance at Jin's face.
They don't speak. Hoseok lays down flat on his back, pulling the blankets up to his chin while Jin snaps off the light, and he can hear Jin's even breathing, the steady beat of his heart, and he feels immediately, intensely calm, enough so that unexpected tears spring to his eyes. He takes a deep, shaking breath, holding it for a moment before exhaling slowly. And then, just as he begins to feel the tug of sleep reaching up around him, pulling him down, he speaks, his voice barely a whisper.
Given everything that's happened already, it shouldn't be a shock. The taste of Jungkook's blood lingers on this tongue, sweet and warm and addictive, and Jimin's body is still humming with the pulse of Jungkook's heartbeat. There's no escaping what he is now. No denying it.
Jungkook's waiting for him when he returns, shoulders slumped where he sits on the edge of the bed. He looks up at Jimin warily, says with a grimace, "Forgot to warn you about the mirror."
Jimin stares, confused and deeply unsettled.
"It's not that we can't see our reflections," Jungkook explains. "But that one's silver. Namjoon's attached to it. I think it was his mom's."
"Can we just– Can we sleep?" Jimin asks, curling his arms tight around his middle. He's still wearing his blood-stained gown, still shaken and exhausted, and no cleaner than he had been moments ago.
But Jungkook doesn't call attention to it, doesn't ask. He only gives a quick nod and slides off the end of the bed. He stands awkwardly for a moment, arms limp at his sides as he chews on his bottom lip.
Then, "Uh, I can… I can go somewhere else for tonight."
"This is your room."
"Yeah, but it's. I can find somewhere else."
Jimin's throat goes tight. "Please don't," Jimin barely manages, because the idea of being alone here, being without Jungkook, is suddenly more than he can handle. "Just–"
He crawls carefully onto the mattress, into the same strange bed he'd found himself in only hours ago, curls onto his side with his head nestled on a ridiculously comfortable pillow. He pulls the duvet up over his shoulders, but his eyes never leave Jungkook's. He doesn't pat the spot beside him, but with or without the strange blood bonding thing that's happened, he knows Jungkook can read the invitation. The plea.
It's a far bigger bed than they've ever shared before, and when Jungkook silently slides in beside him, Jimin wearily curls in closer. He lets out a breath as he rests his forehead against the curve of Jungkook's shoulder, the tension in his muscles easing when he catches the familiar scent of Jungkook's laundry detergent beneath the persistent, heady scent of copper.
"I'm so sorry," he hears, a barely-there whisper into the darkness before his mind finally, finally goes quiet.