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Piece of Peace

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Jimin's exhausted.

Not that normal exhausted, but like the full body kind of exhausted. From his head to his fucking pinky toe. All he wants is to go home and be alone, but his bullshit roommates are home so he can't find sanctuary there. He likes to think he can find peace at coffee shops, but honestly at times like this, he just wants to be alone.

He pauses on the street, glancing around for a cafe, and prays to any god that hears him that the place he chooses will be empty. Whipping out his phone, he opens yelp and searches for quiet cafes in the area, if that's even a thing people make note of. He's not sure why he even tried reading reviews. He's too damn tired for it. He picks the most aesthetic one that's not too far and follows his feet to it.

It takes longer to get there than he wanted it to and he's not remotely surprised that it's packed. He lets out a harsh breath and goes to the counter anyway. He may as well order a drink to go.

The man at the counter smiles so brightly Jimin wishes he had sunglasses.

"Welcome to The Magic Bean! What can I help you with today?"

Jimin blinks at the barista in disbelief. His energy is unimaginable compared to Jimin's developing migraine.

The barista sobers a bit. "Woah, are you okay?"

Jimin shakes it off. "Uh, yeah. Long day. Wish this place was quiet. I can't even hear my own thoughts."

As the words leave his mouth, the cafe is silent. Jimin tenses as he turns from the counter. Every table is empty.

The barista is all smiles as if nothing happened.

"Please take a seat anywhere you'd like." He hands a paper menu to Jimin. "Take your time with the menu. Flag me down when you're ready."

Jimin hesitantly accepts the menu. "W-wasn't this place full when I walked in?"

The barista shrugs. "Half empty, half full. All perception."

Jimin thinks that that doesn't make sense, but he finds himself selecting an empty table in the corner anyway.

The menu is odd. All the coffees are named after moods: happiness, excitement, nostalgia, peace. Without knowing what's in the drink, Jimin knows what he wants.

He's about to flag down the barista, when he looks closer at the top of the menu. The Magic Bean... That's not what the cafe he was looking for was called. So maybe he walked into the wrong place, but he's fine where he is now. All his plans have been going to shit so maybe an accident is exactly what he needs. He turns, about to raise his hand, when he finds the barista right behind him. Jimin curses under his breath.

The barista frowns. "Would I be wrong to say you're usually not so grumpy?"

Jimin rubs at his temple a moment, then looks up apologetically. "I'm sorry. Am I being an ass?"

The barista laughs it off. "Not at all." He waves at the air. "Just really strong... vibes."

Something about that makes Jimin pause.

"Just to clarify... this is a coffee shop, right? None of your menu items say what they are."

Something shifts in the barista's eyes. Jimin watches him close off. "Oh. Yeah. We're a coffee shop. You can order any normal drinks. Sorry for the artsy menu."

Jimin stares back at the menu, unable to pry his eyes away from the item named 'Peace'. He hesitates before he looks back at the barista and orders a, "Cafe Latte."

It's almost comical the way the barista (Jimin notices now his name tag says 'Hoseok') frowns. Hoseok's lips turn into a cartoonish pout.

Jimin watches him, suspicious and distracted from his bad mood, "What, is that a bad choice?"

Hoseok shakes his head, forces a smile. "No, it's a great one! I'll have it out in a moment." He takes off behind the counter.

Hoseok grinds his teeth as he prepares an espresso shot for the drink. He shouldn't intrude. This customer just wants a coffee. He doesn't have any right to give him anything else.

He pours the shot into a cup and then stops. He can't bring himself to keep making the drink.

He turns to the pastries and pulls out the cake on the bottom shelf. It's white cake with lavender cream cheese frosting. He slices it, plates it, and walks back to the table.

Jimin stares at the cake as Hoseok places it in front of him. "This... isn't what I ordered?"

He finds himself phrasing it as a question, as if he knows this is what he wanted. A piece of cake is very different from a latte.

It hits him suddenly: a PIECE of cake. He sighs. "So it's a pun then. Peace?"

Hoseok's staring at the cake. "This is what you should've ordered."

Jimin feels his mood sour again. "Excuse me?"

Hoseok chews his lip. "I can't... really explain but..." He sighs. "I'll go finish your latte."

"You realize how strange it is to be given something you didn't order and the waiter insisting you eat it?"

Hoseok nods as he makes the latte across the cafe. It's empty so they can speak to each other easily. "My name's Hoseok, by the way."

Jimin's thrown by his evasion. "Yeah, your name tag said."

Hoseok hums appreciatively, "Wow, you noticed that? That's kind of you."

Jimin's completely distracted, "Isn't that a normal thing to notice?"

"Not usually." Hoseok brings the drink over, frowning as he sees Jimin hasn't touched the cake yet.

"Do you want to sit with me?"

Hoseok’s surprised by Jimin’s question, "What?"

"Well what else do you plan to do in this previously packed cafe?"

Hoseok sits and pulls a second fork out of his apron. He immediately reaches forward and takes a bite of the cake to try to urge Jimin to try it as well. "This one's on me. I don’t like to eat while I work, but I can tell you're skeptical."

He lets the effect of the cake wash over him. To Jimin, it must look like he simply enjoys the flavor.

Jimin finally follows his lead and takes a bite. "Wow. I didn't think the color meant it was lavender flavored t-" He goes quiet suddenly.

Hoseok pushes the latte toward him. "Drink a bit of this and finish the cake."

Jimin wants to argue, but... he can't.

Hoseok relaxes as Jimin eats more of the cake. He leans back in the booth. "Thank god. Your negative energy was making me claustrophobic. No offense."

The cake is gone before Jimin realizes he's eating it. He stares at Hoseok. "Is... is this weed?"

Hoseok snorts, doubles over laughing. "Oh my god, no. It's... well I guess you're right in a way. There's a potion brewed into the cake batter and a secondary one in the frosting."

Jimin wants to respond to that but he feels his eyes close heavily. He drags them open again slowly and when he does, the sun coming in from the window is gone. Rain pours loudly, muting the sounds of cars and people passing.

The cafe is dark, candles flicker on the table.

Jimin watches the flame in front of him. "That wasn't there before."

Hoseok hums a soft tune, not really a song, but just enough to be recognized as music. Jimin manages to drag his eyes up to Hoseok's. As they lock, Jimin startles. Hoseok's irises are icy blue. Jimin wants to say this is a dream. He wants to think he's asleep, napping in his room at home. "Th-This is magic."

Hoseok smiles and somehow it's soft and welcoming despite the intensity of his eyes. "It is."

Logically, Jimin knows he should be scared. He just ingested a potion that he doesn't know the effects of and the strange man who gave it to him now has glowing blue eyes. Yet, Jimin can't seem to feel scared.

Hoseok smiles softly, "My gift is moods, emotions."

Jimin nods, no choice but to accept this. "Gift... but you poisoned me."

Hoseok's eyes widen, fading back to brown. "Poison?! No, no. It's temporary. It's meant to help you steady yourself during a time of intense stress. I could sense your mood before you walked in the door."

Jimin frowns, but the scent of lavender swirls through the air. It lifts the burden off his mind and drains the tension from his muscles. "I didn't consent to it."

Hoseok rolls his eyes. "Not vocally, but you wanted the potion."

Jimin's eyebrows shoot up. "I can think of ten ways that doesn't count as consent."

Hoseok rubs at his temples. "You non magic types always try to weasel your way out of logic. I sense moods. I felt your consent. That's truer than anything spoken."

"But I vocally said no."

"You vocally ordered a latte. You weren't upset about a free cake."

Jimin doesn't know why he's arguing when he knows Hoseok is right.

"You're feeling better now, aren't you?"

Jimin ignores the question. "So you do this a lot? Treat people?"

Hoseok snorts. "Pun intended?"

Jimin blinks a moment and then laughs suddenly as he catches the accidental joke he made.

Hoseok smiles at the light laughter that causes Jimin's entire body to shake.

Hoseok nods. "Yeah, people usually come here more intentionally, but I get a lot of wanderers too. People... like you... people who are struggling, I think something naturally draws them here. It's not anything I've done. Maybe you've got some magic in your blood."

Jimin's eyebrows raise. "In my blood...?"

Hoseok shrugs. "Yeah, something in your family history. Maybe your grandma is part dragon."

Jimin chokes on his latte. "A... what?"

Hoseok laughs loudly. "I'm kidding! That would've been bestiality."

Jimin pales. "Dragons are real?"

Hoseok shrugs. "Sometimes." Jimin wants to ask what that means but he doesn't have time to. "So what brought you here? I'm not gonna let you walk out after taking a break from the stress. We've got to get it sorted!"

Jimin blinks at him. "You can't solve this problem with cake."

Hoseok laughs, carefree. "Maybe not, but this one might be a job for the frosting." He points at the crumbs. "The cake was for peace of mind, the frosting is for clarity."

"What's the coffee for?"

"Alertness."

"...so it's just caffeine."

Hoseok giggles. "Yeah, that's it."

Hoseok looks into the customer's eyes. He hasn't given him his name yet. It hurts a bit to feel what others feel, but it's not like feeling their pain, not exactly. It's like he can tune into the potential of how they COULD feel and it hurts him when they're out of alignment.

He wishes the man would just say his name. There's a lot of power in a name and Hoseok could really start to help him once he hears it. Maybe the man in front of him has an instinct not to give his name to strangers. Maybe he really is magical, cursed even…

Jimin wraps his arms around himself. "Why are you looking at me like that?"

Hoseok blinks the worry away. "What? Like what? What did you say your name is?"

He hesitates. "...Jimin."

Hoseok breathes it in.

Hoseok frowns as the vibes he felt become more refined and he gets a deeper view of Jimin's struggles. It's money problems. He hates when it's money problems. It's one thing magic can't really fix. "Let me know when you finish your coffee."

"Why?"

Hoseok knows Jimin's curious. He won't admit it, but Hoseok can see the burning curiosity in his eyes. "You'll see."

Jimin immediately downs the rest of his coffee.

Hoseok smiles and reaches out for the mug. Jimin hands it to him, not entirely sure why he trusts this stranger.

Hoseok glances at the bottom of the tall white mug. He shows it to Jimin for a moment.

Jimin's eyebrows furrow at the flavored syrup that stuck to the bottom of the mug.

"I'm gonna read your fortune."

"...with syrup?"

Hoseok pouts. "Tea leaves are old fashioned."

While Hoseok deciphers Jimin's fortune, he's happy to see that Jimin is on a path to improving himself. Something about the fortune strikes him as familiar and as he rotates the mug in his hand, he sees it.

The pattern matches his own fortune from this morning. It's exact.

He looks up at Jimin, wonder in his eyes.

Jimin fidgets nervously. "What? Is it bad?"

Hoseok looks back at the mug and then up at Jimin. He ignores the question. "Can I ask you why you trust me?"

Jimin blinks. He thinks about saying something cliche but…

"I guess you... feel familiar. I feel like I know you. Like we're old friends, reuniting over tea leaves... or I guess... flavored syrup."

It should be noted that Hoseok is damn good at reading fortunes. He's also skilled beyond measure at reading and balancing emotions. It's why he was asked to take up the mantle at the local apothecary. If he brightened up the interior design, it was because it was heavily needed. But he rarely gets glimpses of past lives. And he's never glimpsed his own. Not until today. "Move in with me."

Jimin chokes on air. "How is that a fortune?"

Hoseok licks his lip nervously. "It would take me a while to go into detail about this reading, but let me give you the gist: your fortune is an exact copy of mine from this morning."

He gets up and grabs the coffee mug from behind the counter he hadn't washed yet. Jimin holds both of them, eyes wide.

Hoseok continues, "We're on converging paths. It's not up to me to decide this for you, but it seems like... we need each other."

Jimin doesn't look up from the mugs. "No offense, but you seem to have a pretty good life going for yourself. Your own shop, something you're passionate about. I don't see how I'd do anything but weigh you down."

Hoseok grabs the mugs from Jimin to get his attention.

Jimin finally looks up at him and the strength of the connection he feels overwhelms him for a moment. "I know it's hard for you to see right now since your unhappiness stems from financial instability, but money isn't everything." He waits, but Jimin doesn't argue with him.

Hoseok gestures to the ceiling. "I have an apartment upstairs. I own this property so there's no rent. You have nothing to feel guilty over." He repeats himself, "Move in with me."

It's insane. It's completely insane... but Jimin says, "Okay."

The next day, Hoseok closes the coffee shop to help Jimin move. He's somehow not surprised by how little Jimin has. Jimin's quiet the whole time, not wanting to talk about his situation. Even without his ability to read moods, Hoseok could feel the hostility lingering in Jimin's apartment. While his roommates weren't monsters, they weren't angels either. Hoseok knows. He's met some of both. But Jimin's roommates didn't treat him as a person. They used him. Whether it was for chores or as a free therapist, they walked all over him and Jimin let them because he felt guilty for paying the least amount of rent.

It only takes about an hour or two to get everything in a box and into Hoseok's car. He ends up with three boxes of stuff and two suitcases of clothes. They get into the car together. Hoseok opens his mouth to talk, but Jimin cuts him off. "I don't know why I'm doing this."

Hoseok glances at him as he navigates back to the cafe. "I could guess."

Jimin glares at him. Again, Hoseok gets the sense Jimin's not usually this negative. "Don't."

Hoseok sighs, "I can teach you how to work in the cafe if you want?"

Jimin makes a face. "What do you mean? I can't make potions."

Hoseok laughs lightly. "No, just the coffee."

"Oh. Yeah, okay."

Hoseok has to stop himself from prying. He wants to know what's wrong, but he just met this man yesterday. He has no right.

They arrive and grab some boxes each. Hoseok lets him into his apartment above the cafe. "Sorry, it's kind of a mess."

Jimin glances around. "Can't you like... magic the brooms into helping or something?"

Hoseok snickers, "That'd be nice. I can't do that kind of practical magic."

Hoseok glances at Jimin carefully as he adds, "The most fantastical thing I can do is dream walking."

Jimin surprises him by not being surprised, "Fantastical is a fancy word."

Hoseok blinks. "So is dream walking."

Jimin shrugs. "I'm too overwhelmed to be impressed right now."

Hoseok nods to himself. That's fair. He shows Jimin to the room that he can use. Hoseok had been using it as storage space and he spent the night moving everything into his bedroom to clear it for Jimin.

Jimin stares at the bedroom, hesitating to go in.

Hoseok pauses as well. "Is it okay?"

Jimin's eyes are red. "I've never actually had my own room." He blinks rapidly and clears his throat as he takes his boxes into the room.

Hoseok tries again to not pry. "I don't have an extra bed, but you're welcome to the couch for now."

Jimin glances over his shoulder at the couch in the living room and nods. "I'm used to the couch."

"You didn't seem to have your own room at your last place."

Jimin shakes his head. "I was just crashing with them."

"For how long?"

Jimin hesitates. "A year."

Hoseok wants to scream. "You've been living on someone's couch for a year?!"

Jimin shoots him a look. "I didn't have many options in front of me."

Hoseok doesn't know the details, but in a previous life Jimin was important to him. It's enough to trigger his mother hen mode.

Once they get the rest of the boxes into the room, they sit down against the wall and stare at the three boxes and two suitcases in the middle of the room: Jimin's entire world.

Hoseok starts quietly, "I'll leave it up to you how you want to do this."

"Do what?"

Hoseok shrugs. "Know me. I can be your roommate, your employer, your friend, your therapist. Whatever you want me to be."

Jimin's brow furrows. "That's not fair."

"That's my job."

"I'm not a project, I'm a person."

Hoseok bites his lip. He was worried he'd come off like that. It's not what he meant. "All I mean is, there are a lot of things I can do to help you right now and I want to do all of them if you'll let me. I just don't know where you want to start."

Jimin blinks. "Well it seems like the roommate title is unavoidable... What did you mean, therapist?"

"That's what I do with my potions. I balance emotions."

"And mine are imbalanced?"

Hoseok doesn't say anything.

Jimin snorts. "And here I thought I couldn't be any more broken."

Hoseok throws an arm around Jimin's shoulders comfortingly. Jimin tenses at the contact. "I think for now, we should be friends and I'll teach you how to work at the cafe. The rest will come with time. You WILL need to let me know when you're ready for dream walking though."

"What? Why?"

"That's my best chance of seeing what's going on in your head. Call it a magical MRI."

Jimin flinches. "I hate MRIs."

Fear colors his words. So Jimin's had a lot of MRIs, a lot of injuries. Hoseok stores the information away. Hoseok squeezes him a moment, "It won't be so bad. Trust me."

And strangely, Jimin does.