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When Lights Close Their Tired Eyes - Chapter 4 - "The Temperature of This Moment"

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Jimin’s breath whooshed out of him as his back hit the dark stone of the floor, intricate rune carvings shining brighter in comparison to the sweat he dripped all over them just seconds before. Or was it hours? Time moved sluggishly then sped up in the celestial realm and Jimin truly couldn’t keep up sometimes.

“Again.”

Groaning, Jimin’s limbs twitched as he rolled over and hauled himself back up to his feet. The stern look of his teacher made him want to obediently move faster yet slower just to piss Hoseok off a little.

Once back in his starting position, Jimin scowled at the wet flooring, mentally chastising himself for making this so much harder because not only did he have to create a dance on the spot but also he now had the obstacle of a potential slip to contend with.

“You should try—“

“Knees, bent. Got it,” Jimin huffed out. He was tired of the same vague instructions that told him he wasn’t doing it right but not actually telling him what to do that wasn’t wrong. It had been months and Jimin’s body was in a constant state of ache, limbs bruised, lips cracked from heavy panting, throat scorched by the humidity of the constant heated marble but all he had to do was be a spectator to Hoseok’s monthly ritual in the Harvesting Room (as he’d nicknamed it) and he was flooded with this unimaginable motivation to do this—

“Again. I can do this again, come on, Jimin.”

He twisted his arms above his head, fingers curled in towards the south where the sun spot rune lay, blonde bangs falling forward as his body lurched diagonally from the rune for corona. His muscles twitched as his bare feet glided around the runes for convection and flare. Next, all he had to do—all he thought he had to do, at least to evoke the early winter sunrises on earth—was to nudge his right hip and knee a few degrees to the left of infrared and plasma and then—

“Again.”

Jimin looked down dejectedly at the tiny sparks and small flames erupting from his fingertips. They stung and were shades of angry red and blue, nothing like the molten gold that Hoseok exuded.

The god of the sun said harnessing the sun’s power didn’t hurt at all.

Jimin clenched his fists as the heat seeped into his skin, through his body, and back into the slate floor.

He forgot to mention the hurt of repeated failure.

 

~*~

 

Jimin stood in the hallway with his back against the sun pillar, too shy to knock but too interested to walk away. Inside the sun god’s room he could hear the voices of Hoseok, Yoongi, and Namjoon as they discussed something regarding upcoming rituals and the seasons.

Or, at least that’s what Jimin thought, seeing as he had no clue what in the ancestors they were saying. It all sounded like garbled mess. But, sophisticated garbled mess? Maybe if a prince lost all his money and was turned into a pauper… and then shoved a lake rock between his back grinders... or something. Hoseok had commented about how his original human language, way before he’d become a god, was no longer spoken by the people of earth but Namjoon and Yoongi were just old enough to still communicate with him, even though the two younger men had a charming accent from the slight evolution of the language before they were born. It was weird to Jimin’s modern ears. He wondered if he’d be around long enough to speak a dead language.

A few minutes later Yoongi emerged, startled to find the apprentice outside the room. His eyes quickly turned to daggers though as he pushed past Jimin. At this point the behavior didn’t surprise Jimin, what did, though, was that the elder didn’t leave him with some biting remark. It seemed they were making progress; he didn’t know how but he would leave that thought for another day because right after Yoongi came Namjoon.

“Mr. Time Lord, sir?”

“Huh? Who? Oh! Hey, Jiminnie,” Namjoon greeted, long blue robes swishing as he turned to face him. “Didn’t I tell you to call me hyung?”

“Ah, um, yeah, sorry... Hyung.” Jimin felt his cheeks burn in embarrassment. Each time he forgot and each time Namjoon would pinch his cheek and tell him not to worry about it. “I know you must be busy, manipulating time and all, but… can we talk?” His voice dropped with the request, eyes slanting to the side to make sure Hoseok wasn’t around. “In private?”

Voice mimicking him, he responded, “Sure.” The two started down the hall away from the direction Yoongi had gone. “What’s up?”

“This won’t take long, I just… You were a tribute too, right?”

Smiling, Namjoon placed his hands behind his back, face scrunched up in fondness. “Ah, origin stories, huh?”

“How does one transition from a mortal human to the next god?” he blurted quickly, not trusting a long conversation where any servant or lesser god could hear them.

Namjoon hummed, a kind smile lighting his features. “Jimin, have you eaten today?”

Taken aback by the change of subject, he nodded.

“You, a human in the celestial plane has partaken of the food of the gods. It would be weird if that didn’t have some type of effect on your mortal body, would it not?”

Jimin never considered what eating food from this plane would do to him. Sometimes, after hours of dance practice and reading materials on ritual studies all he wanted was a warm meal and his bed. It would make sense, though, for some type of reaction.

“Well, food is where it starts. Bodily transition is the first step to becoming an immortal, which, I’m sure, you’ve almost become by now. But to be a true god one has to be gifted the powers of the old god through ritual. But the ritual cannot work on mortals so… food, Jimin. Food is what sustains us all.” He stopped walking and Jimin did too, looking at him while he took in all the information. Whispering, Namjoon leaned down to Jimin’s ear, “But that’s not much of a problem, though. You don’t wanna starve, hmm?”

 

~*~

 

“So, what’s the plan?”

Yoongi watched as Jungkook bounced on his mattress, the younger fighting for a comfortable spot that didn’t have the imprint of Yoongi’s body from laying in bed after a long night’s work. Before any “planning,” Yoongi needed to know one thing first.

“What is your motive? What’s your reason behind setting those two up?”

Jungkook lifted his head from where he’d had it buried in Yoongi’s pillow. Was he… sniffing it? “Jiminnie-hyung’s my friend, of course! I want him to be happy.”

It was such a simple and pure-hearted answer, Yoongi actually felt himself blush at questioning such an innocent creature. “S-Same,” he stuttered out.

And he found it to be true. Yeah, Yoongi despised Jimin but at the heart of that hatred was a love for his friend and neighbor, the man he’d worked beside since the day he carelessly tumbled into the bright light after his bumbling companion Namjoon all those years before. But if Hoseok marrying Jimin led to the god’s survival and—and happiness? Well, Yoongi might be able to learn to accept him.

Maybe.

He still wouldn’t forgive that bastard of a child crying every night when Yoongi painstakingly pulled the moon up into the sky to cool down the plains from Hoseok’s burning rays. He was doing those villagers a favor but, nooo, there little Jimin was, crying in sadness at the efforts of Yoongi’s music magic.

The nerve, the brat.

Deep down, though, under the layers of skepticism, frustration, and barely-contained panic at his friend’s impending death, there was hope.

He watched as Jungkook flipped the god’s pillow over to get to the cooler side, feet tucking into the thick blue and silvery threaded blankets, as he got more comfortable. There was hope in the way Jungkook barged into his room saying he’d caught Hoseok hand-feeding Jimin a slice of orange, hope in the way Jimin kept putting up with Hoseok’s strict teachings, hope in the way the two dancers would spend their breaks laughing over a pitcher of sweet liquors on the balcony instead of separating at the first chance they got.

The biggest hope, though, was in how Jimin actually saw Hoseok. He saw a man trying his best to keep the system working and didn’t complain about the long hours they’d spend in front of the panels. Jimin saw the tightening of Hoseok’s shoulders after a sunset ritual and would take the time to silently massage his muscles, no matter the audience. Jimin saw the importance of what Hoseok was doing and took it upon himself to do all he could to train, to assist the sun god with his job, to assist Hoseok with his dreams of caring for all the people on the earth who depended on him, whether they still believed in the gods or not.

Jimin saw that Yoongi meant a lot to Hoseok and didn’t lash out at the moon god when Yoongi just couldn’t stand the sight of him, consumed with anger at all that the apprentice represented. He showed Yoongi that his heart was as gentle and caring as Hoseok’s was, a splendid match.

Yoongi owed him the same in kind.

“I think what Jimin-hyung needs is,” Jungkook’s voice sliced through Yoongi’s wandering thoughts, “that little push, you know?” He was lying on his back, feet in the air as his toes traces constellations on Yoongi’s ceiling where his own panels were installed. A wicked smirk titled his lips. “Get him out of this stagnant cycle they’ve trapped themselves in from sun up to sun down—”

“Oh, my gods,” Yoongi gasped, rushing over to the bed and grabbing one of Jungkook’s ankles. “Innocent my ass, you’re a genius!”

 

~*~

 

The morning of their Big Plan, Jungkook stumbled upon a disturbing sight. He’d been in the kitchen located behind the pillar with the herbs when it happened.

“Hyung?”

Hoseok was at the table, body pliant and eyes vacant as Jungkook held out a piece of fruit to him for his breakfast. One second they were chatting animatedly, the next Jungkook found himself in a one-way conversation featuring the cold, gray eyes of the sun god. It was only after vigorously shaking Hoseok’s shoulder did Jungkook get a reaction from him.

“Don’t tell Yoongi,” he pleaded.

“What have you been lying about?” Jungkook questioned as he stared into Hoseok’s now-brown eyes.

He didn’t get a response, just the image of Hoseok’s back as he turned away. That in itself was answer enough.

Jungkook didn’t know what was up but he knew, just knew he needed to help those two resolve whatever tension was brewing in the celestial plane.

 

~*~

 

The winter solstice was that night, and Jungkook was ready.

Or, as ready as he’d ever be after only a few short months training with the god of the moon.

“You know, I’d be more trained if you hadn’t ignored me the first few weeks I was here.”

“And yet you still wouldn’t give up and kept following me around,” Yoongi mumbled as he set out his keys. To do his magic he focused his energy through instrumentals, and that required instruments. He placed the gloves on his left hand that had what looked like hollowed bones sewn across the knuckles. On his right he had metal chimes on wires delicately hanging from his wrist. As he breathed, the sounds of flutes and light bells followed.

“Huh? What was that? Couldn’t hear your grumpiness over the sweet sound of my best friend falling in love.”

Jungkook straightened his back against the wall and sucked in a deep breath, forcing himself to relax his vocal chords like Yoongi had taught him. He lifted his chin and opened his mouth to allow for Yoongi’s musical winds to enter his body easier. He felt the soft tinkling settle somewhere behind his heart.

Or that could just be his growing adoration for the man before him. Ever since his coming of age last week Jungkook had stopped ignoring the feelings niggling his chest and decided to nurture them and let them grow. If he were old enough to help bring forth the winter solstice, he was mature enough to accept his own feelings.

“Ready?”

Ready to do the biggest task I’ve ever voluntarily done before in my life? No biggie. Except it wasn’t such a big deal. Growing up, Jungkook was always told what to do. It felt nice being the one behind his choices. He felt… stronger.

Closing his eyes, Jungkook began to sing.

Enter the night and you’ll find the light,

That will carry you to your dreams.”

Whereas Yoongi’s magic was rooted in beats and vibrations, Jungkook found his own source of magic in his voice.

“Enter the night, let your spirit take flight.

In the field of infinite possibilities.”

Matching the vibrations in the air shifting off of the moon god to the trembling of his throat, Jungkook harmonized.

“On the longest night, we search for the light,

And we find it deep within.“

Jungkook found he liked singing to the moon. The moon didn’t have any strict expectations to live up to like his people back at home had for him. For the moon, he just sang what he felt and the moon followed. It followed his tune and Yoongi’s melody up into the night’s sky and rested in its place among the stars. The moon wasn’t as destructive as the sun; it was gentle and timid. For the moon’s ritual it was less a harnessing of power and more… a duet, collaboration, a playful teasing to draw its power out.

“Open your eyes to embrace what is wise,

And see the light of your own soul shining.“

Jungkook sang and Yoongi played and the moon shimmied and shivered along to their caresses.

Jungkook felt moonlight burst from his fingers.

 

~*~

 

Jimin had woken up from his nap to messages handwritten on the wall by his headboard.

You have two hours, you better make them count, and another, I’m rooting for you, hyungie~

Before Jimin could question how they’d gotten there the writing mysteriously disappeared, absorbed into a cool blue light.

Hours later he now knew what they meant.

“The winter solstice?”

“Yeah, Jiminnie. It’s the longest night of the year, and, consequently, the shortest day on earth. That means Yoongi is probably working his ass off for the next sixteen or so hours while we get a few extra minutes’ rest.” The smile on Hoseok’s face said he was excited for the break but the bruises under his eyes and the slight sunken state of his cheeks screamed that it was not enough—could never be enough.

“Only a few minutes?” Back on earth, in his tribe, Jimin remembered the winter solstice being his least favorite day of the year, way much more preferring its brother the summer solstice, but today he couldn’t help the slight disappointment towards the holiday for another reason. “You don’t get the whole night off?”

“Nope!” The sun god rolled up his sleeves as he shook out his hands, prepared to start another routine to bring sunshine to a tribe off the coast in the northeast. “Just because it's night on one side of the earth doesn’t mean it's not a new day on the other. Got to keep the locals happy.” His laugh was bone dry and rough but his bright smile pulled out Jimin’s own. “The solstice has some overlap of time that makes it night time everywhere though and it gives me a small break. It's Yoongi’s way of spoiling me, he says.” Jimin nodded, intrigued and thankful, and moved closer to view another miraculous and beautiful display of his teacher’s power.

Jimin could watch the elder dance for all eternity, but it seemed the god in charge of the solstice had other plans in mind.

“What the—“

It had been hours of constant movement broken up by more hours of studying over the charts and panels along the walls and even though it was close to the end of the solstice, somehow the night just kept going. There was most definitely more than a few minutes of total darkness and it confused not only Jimin but the sun god as well.

“I can’t believe he was serious, that traitor!” Jimin watched as Hoseok pressed in aggravation at the panels, huffing when they didn’t light up with a sunrise. “How long is he going to do this?” he mumbled aloud.

That’s when something clicked in Jimin’s mind. “Two… hours? We’ve got two hours?” Oh, boy, those two thought they were slick, and by the widening of Hoseok’s eyes he’d come to the exact same conclusion. Meeting his shocked stare head-on, Jimin giggled. “So… what would you like to do on your mini vacay?”

They decided to watch the moonbeams bloom.

Moonbeams, Jimin learned, were Hoseok’s favorite flowers. They only bloomed when there was perpetual night and, as the god of the sun, he’d always felt a bit melancholy knowing his own power was keeping the flowers he kept in his garden from showing their true beauty. On the two solstices each year, though, he could sit on his balcony and watch them come alive. If only for a handful of minutes.

“They’re beautiful,” Jimin whispered as they gazed at the hundreds of buds. The petals were silvery and see-through in some parts with delicate blue veins that ran down the dark black stems. The light pollen floating in the air reminded Jimin of stardust.

“Yeah,” Hoseok wistfully sighed. “I wish I could let them live longer though.”

Jimin didn’t know how to respond to that so he did the one thing he felt could make the sun god feel better. He gingerly held his hand.

They stayed like that for a while, the two looking down at the flowers as their petals unfurled one by one, hands linked in the cool night, until Jimin broke the silence.

“I feel like…” he began. Hoseok’s fingers twitched in his hold, gently encouraging him to continue, to let him know he was listening even though his eyes never moved from the breathtaking view before them. “Like I’ve barely been here a day. Yet why do I also feel like we’ve been here forever? Like we’ve known each other forever?”

Hoseok’s lips twitched as he glanced at him askance. “Oh, trust me. I know what forever feels like and this isn’t it, Jiminnie.” Jimin frowned, feeling taken aback, but Hoseok gripped his hand tighter, intertwining their fingers. “But… I wish it were forever. I... kinda wouldn’t mind at all.”

This warmed Jimin’s chest, his breath catching a little. He released it, though, seconds later. It was heavy and left unsaid in the air, the fact that if Jimin couldn’t harness the sun’s power better that he’d end up leaving like all the tributes before him. He’d be sent to another plane, a different planet, a place more suited for him.

But he felt he could possibly be suited right where he was, on some balcony in the earth’s sun god’s magical celestial plane, watching rare flowers bloom for the first time all because of some friends up to no good yet with good intentions.

Jimin’s body ached from weeks of dancing, and his mind wished he could get more sleep sometimes, but he wasn’t discontent. He wanted to be angry about being sacrificed, his whole life upended, but just as before when he first arrived he just couldn’t.

The light shining happily from Hoseok’s eyes, turning them a golden auburn, made the experience just a bit (a whole lot) more bearable.

 

~*~

 

Hoseok felt a blank spot coming again. His shoulders tensed with unease as he pleaded with his mind. No, please, not now, not with Jimin. Please, I beg of you, we only have two hours—

He grasped the younger’s hand tighter and, for once, pulled on a power that wasn’t his own. Hoseok asked the moon to help him stay. And it was probably only for the sun’s absence that he was granted his small wish.

 

~*~

 

A few weeks after the winter solstice, Jimin received a scroll in the post. He didn’t even know the gods had mail service, much preferring to leave cryptic messages on the panels in the rooms that were easily erased.

What surprised him even more was that it was from Taehyung of the house of Kim, the man who’d been a trainee forty-something human years before him.

 

To: Jimin of the house of Park, current trainee to the god of the sun,

Jimin gulped, it sounded so official. He unrolled the scroll to see what the other sun god could possibly want with him.

 

Celestial Year xx987, Day 43

 

Hey! I decided to send you a message too even though we’ve never met! But I know Hobi-Hobi so I know you’re an amazing person, like me!

 

There was winky-faces drawn all over the first portion and the whole letter was in gold ink that looked like melted honey. This Taehyung guy seemed very impressionable, but Jimin expected no less after the stories he’d heard.

 

In case you’re wondering, I’m fine where I am. No scorn or hateful feelings for being replaced so you don’t have to worry about my vengeful godly powers coming to get you. (Jimin hadn’t been thinking of that, but now….) I got married a few decades after I became the god of this planet’s sun. Has he told you about getting a consort? I’m sure he has, or our old tribe did, either way. I found this great guy named Seokjin and he’s hilarious! He helps me perform my daily rituals and he has this cute dance he does where he moves his arms left and right and— You gotta see it yourself but just know that between my hips and his arms we make this planet explode in light, man, its beautiful what love can do.

Which bring me to my next piece of advice: being a god is fun and all but having a consort makes it worth it. Not worth the power or whatever but worth the experience. There’s a certain level of trust that comes with having that someone to share the duties and power with so that, as a god, you have energy for other things. (Ew, another winky-face.)

Anyway, if you’re as special as I keep hearing I wouldn’t be surprised if Hoseok finally found a consort for himself to help him out. Or you could be the sun god yourself. It's not like I’ll have a say.

Don’t be a stranger, Jiminnie! We’re from the same tribe, basically kin!

Taehyung of the house of Kim, sun god extraordinaire

 

The scroll lit up as soon as Jimin finished reading it, catching on fire and sizzling into ash. Huh…

Jimin stood there in the middle of his and Jungkook’s room, hand covered in soot. He hadn’t been thinking of marriage ever since Hoseok had rejected him way back then. It was a way to stay if Jimin couldn’t find the talent to perform the rituals himself. Jungkook said he’d been improving but he was a friend, he was required to cheer Jimin up.

Recently, Jimin found himself swept away more and more by this feeling of wanting to stay. He wanted to stay with Jungkook, and Namjoon, and even the moon god who’d been a little nicer of late. He wanted to stay in this part of the celestial plane. He wanted to stay with Hoseok. He wished this whole thing actually were an arranged marriage after all.

But what use was a consort that was incompetent and couldn’t help their spouse?

 

~*~

 

To: Yoongi of the house of Min, current god of the moon,

 

Celestial Year xx987, Day 35

 

They should know, hyung… both of them.

Taehyung of the house of Kim, sun god extraordinaire

 

~*~

 

To: Yoongi of the house of Min, current god of the moon,

 

Celestial Year xx987, Day 36

 

And to answer your question: Moons can burn out too, except it’s more like freezing over for them. Glad to know you’ve regained feeling in your fingers.

I’m glad to know he’s thawing you out.

Taehyung of the house of Kim, sun god extraordinaire

 

~*~

 

It all happened one day in late spring, right on the cusp of a warm summer.

Yoongi had been speaking to Hoseok quietly in the corner of the sun god’s room, somewhere near the panel for the ocean tribes, small lights blinking representing some humans Hoseok was contemplating nurturing their light affinity.

With the upcoming season, Hoseok had been dancing diligently to gather enough heat to blow off the last few cold dregs of a winter that didn’t know when to move on. He and Jimin worked together on the panels to equally distribute sunshine across the tribes that needed new plants to thrive and took some away on days where rain was needed to water the crops and refresh the livestock. Hoseok’s bed in the center of the room lit up less frequently during this season but the god reassured Jimin that that was normal, that the essence of the sun which powered his plane knew the god was needed elsewhere and couldn’t waste not a precious second. Hoseok needed to work, and he’d long come to terms with this.

But Jimin hadn’t. Each sunrise woke his worry for the god’s overly apparent fatigue and by the time of sunset his worry intensified to new heights, only to be told I’m okay, I’m used to it.

Hoseok may be accustomed to so little sleep, but that didn’t mean it was healthy.

“Seok-ah!”

Jimin was jarred from his musing where he’d subconsciously been glaring at the bed praying to the ancestors for it to light up. He whipped his head towards the shout just in time to see the unthinkable.

Hoseok’s body had gone limp, all the strong dancers’ muscles Jimin admired not seeming to support his weight as the sun god tipped over in a dangerous descent to the hard stone floor.

Except the impact never came. Instead, something arguably far worse transpired.

Out of instinct born from eons of friendship and recent anxiety over his friend’s deteriorating state, Yoongi, god of the moon, leapt forward with arms outstretched, and caught the sun god—

And inadvertently caused mayhem.

Jimin watched in horror as the lightened panels across the walls turned dark, as the moon’s shadow covered the earth during a total solar eclipse. This eclipse wasn’t like the one that had brought Jimin to the celestial plane, no, this one wasn’t intentional. There was no planning, no specially prepared ritual, no dance, no song, no ceremony. This was a power that wasn’t controlled but was still natural and strong on its own.

On the screen the images zoomed in to shots of fauna and flora hiding as if it were night, settling in for the darkness. Temperature levels dropped across the earth and ocean tides trembled, going against their natural current. A warning signal started to blare.

Now on the floor, Yoongi cradled Hoseok to his chest, yelling out the man’s name in distress. Jimin forced his legs to move, forced them to take step after step to approach the two, tunneling his mind on the still image of Hoseok—the sun god, his sun god, his friend—and away from the disaster this prolonged eclipse was reaping on the lands. Somewhere behind him he heard his name being called. It could have been Jungkook, or Namjoon, or both. He didn’t care.

He dropped to his knees in front of the gods and looked into Hoseok’s face. His cheeks were concave, nothing like the bubbly, pinchable spheres he knew they were when he smiled. His lips were bright red and his eyelids were puffy, but what caught his attention the most were the eyes. Hoseok’s warm eyes, his loving, tender eyes, were gone. The gray and lifeless and dead-quiet eyes staring back did not belong to the man he knew, couldn’t hold the liveliness that Hoseok contained. These eyes were foreign and looked straight through Jimin as if he never knew him.

Someone grabbed his shoulders and yanked him back to his feet. “Do something, Jimin! You have to do something!” Namjoon was screeching in his face over the alarm’s sound, pupils blown wide as he tried to control his power, tried to pause and slow time to stop this from happening, but his power wasn’t strong enough to overcome the sun, not on this plane at least.

Jungkook grabbed Jimin by the elbow. “You can stop this, hyung! Please! I know you can!”

“I— I—“ Jimin stuttered out. What did Jungkook mean he could stop this? This was the work of gods! Jimin was just some man from a breeding house who was forced into this situation. He didn’t know anything about stopping natural disasters wrought by magical beings. He couldn’t—

“You can, Jimin! You’ve been training for this. I know you have it in you,” Jungkook said. “Hoseok knows you have it in you! Don’t you think he’d stop being so harsh on you, stop teaching you if you were really hopeless?”

“We don’t have time,” Namjoon yelled. “Hoseok is going to die, Jimin!”

Jimin didn’t know what was going on, didn’t know how to fix any of this—if he could fix any of this—but he’d be damned if he let Hoseok die.

It was hard to leave Hoseok like that but he trusted his friends to look after him. Gritting his teeth, Jimin dashed down the hall towards the Harvesting Room where the sun’s power was strongest, where the connection to the star was the brightest.

Jimin of the house of Park needed to dance.