Chapter 1: Opening Remarks
The streets were draining.
The more he went out in them, the more lifeless he felt. It was as though the outside world physically sucked the energy out of him. It was an undeniable fact of his undeniably miserable life.
Park Jimin had a lot to contend with every time he ventured outside his apartment door.
First, there was constant noise, harrowing and inescapable. The endless roaring of cars, buses, bikes and trucks forever zooming around him, was utterly disorientating. The rumble of carriages from the Underground trains drove a constant vibration amongst other low reverberations, trapping him between the planes and helicopters that tore apart the other-wise silent sky, leaving no solace nor silence.
There was the shrill voices of screaming, screeching children with their bike bells, their annoying high-pitched toys and grating skateboards. Joining the fray were parents; forever arguing- with their kids as well as each other. There was almost never a moment's peace in some households. If it wasn't the children and the parents, it was the dog, eternally kenneled and left to howl in a bid to vent it's chained existence.
Then there were the lawnmowers, droning in the early hours, the hiss of hoses and scraping of shovels as avid gardeners fought the natural world for their pristine plots of land- pathetic squares of unnaturally fertilized grass that looked more artificial than the AstroTurf some opted for.
The roadworks, the constant cacophony of heavy machinery that was never-ending. Cement mixers, bulldozers, diggers- even the Emergency Services had an audible-hellhole all of their own. Blaring sirens from Fire Engines to Ambulances, to the one Cop who was late for tea-break. Loud music spilled from clubs, cars, houses- a different tune every fifteen steps as it bellowed out of store upon store. From the mantra that spilled from billboards playing adverts to screens that bled a whole buzz of static.
On top of the audio bombardment was the continuous smothering of scents that made his head spin, made his throat close up in a bid to block out the invasive stench.
Car exhausts, trash, the noxious assault of heated tarmac was one that brought immediate nausea. Rotting composites of food and general wastage that oozed from dumpsters lining the alleys. The acidic chemicals- harsh detergents, astringent bleaches, and sterile disinfectants were a vast contrast to the sewers that spewed all kinds of nasties from the often steaming drains.
Those overly fertilized gardens were sodden in pesticides. The unnaturally cloying scent of tampered flowers, as unnatural as the synthetic grass blades, invaded his senses and made him feel woozy, unable to inhale a clean breath.
All of it made him feel sick.
Being amongst the hustle and bustle was like being caught against an unmerciful tide. It was sheer panic as you were swept away, cast aside by the masses. The cramped carriages, suffocating elevators, the compact-sardines-in-a-can-like buses were terrifyingly claustrophobic. The overcrowded side-walks, ever-present lines of impatience and rising tension. The congested urban areas- streets made up of row upon row of identical rooftops, copied and pasted from some architects clipboard right into a perfectly uniformed reality, realized by imperfect ideals on what life should look like.
The visuals were probably the worst. Glaring lights of various colors, reflective signs everywhere. Billboards that played out brightly colored promotions, 'eye-catching' they called it. Nothing was clean. The degrading walls of buildings, the stained pavement. Cracked roads, chipped paint jobs everywhere. Nothing lasted for long. Dilapidated establishments that were left to crumble, abandoned vehicles and dumped furniture. Chewing gum and litter were forever scattered upon the side-walks, grubby and bacteria-infested.
The fading graffiti, the slurs and slang words scrawled upon once-white brick. It was as though someone had puked up a paint palette and left it to deteriorate over time, the outer coatings of everything were peeling, disintegrating.
None of it was a pretty sight. Not the fluorescent colors, nor the blinding beams that illuminated it all, overpowering and tacky.
There was no time given for the natural world and certainly nothing given to the night.
Frankly, it was migraine material all around- and it wasn't going to get any better, not when there were so many humans.
They were so problematic, in all senses of the word. In the dictionary, that's what should be under the definition of 'Annoying'. It should just state the word 'HUMANS'.
"Jimin, I'm talking to you."
"Hey! Park! Don't ignore me, asshole!"
"Bloody hell's sake, I sai-"
A sharp intake of air, a barely audible gurgle and oh look, the annoyance was ebbing away with the breath of a dying soon-to-be-past neighbor.
Ah... silence was not only a virtue but an easily obtainable one.
"Let go of him, Jimin."
With an inward sigh, Jimin released his hold on the male who was known to him as nothing more than a passing irritant.
"Holy crap, y-you're stronger than you look." came the raspy response as trembling hands came to massage at the reddened skin around a nervously bobbing Adams-apple.
Jimin remained silent, temper simmering under a veil of apathy as he glared at the man who resided in the apartment next to what was once his own. He didn't care to know his name, hadn't ever bothered to ask despite the other knowing his.
In fact, everyone in this god-forsaken apartment block knew of Park Jimin. How could they not? He'd garnered attention upon his very arrival- moving in had never been a quiet ordeal and an apartment block was more conspicuous than any of his previously-private choices of abode.
Especially for someone like him.
Had things gone to plan, he would have moved out at some ungodly hour with few to witness his exit. However, by some unknown curse, things had not gone according to plan and he was moving out earlier than he'd expected to.
"We'll see you around then?"
Jimin slung his backpack over his shoulder, not bothering to reply. The murmurings behind him were nothing consequential, neither was the building he was leaving behind.
Jimin rolled his eyes as he stepped into the back of the taxi. He gave a curt nod to the driver and wrinkled his nose at the strong scent of faded car-freshener. He settled into place, eyeing the worn grey fabric of the seats. Seat-belt clicked into place, he was finally moving on.
He thumbed the crest of the silver ring that sat snugly on his left index finger. The motion brought a sense of comfort to him and he frowned as his neighbors stood idly on the path, mere tradition dictating they wave him off.
It was pointless to do so, he never considered them allies or even people of interest. Try as they might to talk to him, he never responded and never paid them attention- yet for some reason, they never gave up. Not even at the very end, for they would never see him again.
As the driver turned the ignition, Jimin huffed quietly, reluctantly turning towards the window and offering his once-neighbors a wave.
The fact that their faces lit up over such a trivial gesture made his heart feel heavy in his chest. Funny, considering he hadn't felt as though he had one in a long, long time.
It was dark, cold and empty in the house and Hoseok had to suppress a sigh. He scowled at the peeling window sills and stained glass. Content that they were shuddering under his glare, he turned his never-ending glower to the hanging wallpaper and cobwebs.
In short, he hated this place and he was unsatisfied with his friend's choice.
This time, he was really pushing it.
"Seokjin, I refuse to live here," he stated simply, balling his fists and turning around.
Kim Seokjin, a tall, broad male with dusky-pink hair that swept across a flawlessly handsome face, set the cases down as another male shot him a withering glare.
"I wish to refuse to live with you- does that change anything?"
Hoseok remained silent, knowing that any reply would simply spark off the usual argument. Min Yoongi, who was forever bitter about relocating, was in the worst of moods possible. Hoseok knew the Geist was feeling vulnerable over having been given an ultimatum that didn't sit well with his extremely private personality.
His white-blonde hair fell in front of his eyes as he sat on the uncarpeted floor by the living room door. He was stressed, it was evident by his expression, his glossy eyes, and his aura. It was thick, emanating all manner of distress signals.
Seokjin sighed, casting a sympathetic frown in the blonde's direction as he moved to kneel before him, quietly offering words of reassurance and comfort, threading his hands through his hair and cupping his face.
Hoseok wasn't entirely sure how to feel about Yoongi's obvious turmoil. He'd been there when the Geist was given the news of their move- he'd near enough blown every fuse in the house.
Hoseok wasn't ignorant of the situation, he wasn't unaware of how Geist's hated change, hated being uprooted. It was against their nature, against their needs and very life force- but Yoongi was evidently a rather special case. Every time they relocated, he had a complete mental breakdown. He seemed to be tormented by the echoes of a past that involved being ferried from one place to another, never settling, never feeling stable.
Never being safe.
Who knew a Music Box could be so highly sought and fought over?
Seokjin was different. He wasn't a Geist of any kind, his soul wasn't attached to an object like in Yoongi's case. Seokjin was a Jinn. A being with great power that often found itself in human mythology one way or another. Sadly, the tales were far from reality. Not governed by the rules most of their kind were under, Jinn were simply split into two categories.
Charm or Curse. Blessed or Forsaken, depending on your luck in life. In short, go through shit and you'll put people through shit.
A rather fair notion, in Hoseok's opinion. Seokjin however, was a unique case. Having a heart of gold was no easy token when you hurt those around you. Usually, a Forsaken Jinn is Forsaken for as long as it exists, but that brought them to the fourth entity that walked into the living room.
"Everything okay- oh, Yoongi..." the soft voice belonged to none-other than Namjoon.
Kim Namjoon was tall, intelligent and absolutely gorgeous. His charcoal grey hair and mahogany eyes were striking even to others of their kind. He carried an air about him that had a touch of regalness, a sense of authority that everyone and everything relented to- whether consciously or not. There was little that could hold it's own against him. He was a force of nature to be reckoned with and Hoseok admired him more than he'd ever been able to admit.
For good reason.
Namjoon was the only other Puresoul he knew, a rarity in this world that one could go a thousand lifetimes over without ever laying eyes on. For one to meet another by chance?
It was almost unheard of.
It wasn't that they were dying out, their kind had just never been abundant in the first place. Puresouls were a superior class of daemon, and those were hard to come by. They were often private and kept to themselves, or their territories.
Puresouls were highly intelligent and ever-calculating. They had authority over lesser-beings that often went without the need for consent or contract. They could exist in the mortal world without any kind of medium- not object nor familiar. No seal, no incantation or ritual.
They could exist wherever they wished- in their homeworld or amongst humans as harmoniously as ever. Whether they chose to do so was another matter entirely...a matter that Hoseok had admittedly laid a major hand in when it came to their reason for moving home.
Whatever the case, Puresouls were formidable, immortal and more powerful than the vast majority. Perhaps that's why there were so few of them, the balance of nature and all that hogwash.
Jung Hoseok himself was young in retrospect to Namjoon, who had walked between worlds far longer than the human brain could ever begin to fathom. Namjoon also wasn't like other Puresouls. He was undoubtedly one of the most powerful Puresouls around, yet he was humble, calm and affable to all- lesser beings and humans alike.
The fact he didn't pair with one of his own was enough to maybe raise an eyebrow, however, in regards to ranking, Seokjin, being a Jinn in the first place wasn't much to bat an eyelid at. As aforementioned, they were hard to come by so seeing a superior Daemon pair with another of high-rank, wasn't at all uncommon.
In terms of what was considered a superior species, Seokjin as the individual he was, was driven a couple of thrones up.
He'd been born a Blessed Jinn with a heart of gold and a touch of grace. His upbringing, however, was anything but fortuitous. Hoseok didn't know the full story but had heard enough to know that Seokjin should not be the being he was today. He had been wrenched from a very loving family who hadn't survived the raid their village had fall upon them.
The Daemon who lead the attack took favor in him, as it was well known that the most powerful Jinn were corrupted Jinn. Therefore, Seokjin was enslaved and imprisoned, for in order to corrupt a Blessed Jinn, you must break it.
Thus Seokjin's Blessed nature was forcibly turned Forsaken as he was subjected to insurmountable torture and trauma. A process that could take years depending on how tightly a Jinn held on to its true self.
Seokjin didn't just hold tight. He was completely at one with his birth-right.
Hoseok had seen the scars, emotional and physical alike, that decorated Seokjin's upper arms and back. He knew of what the elder had undergone, he felt the weight he carried daily on his shoulders. It was unbelievable that he hadn't allowed himself to succumb to what so many had before him.
Seokjin was a kind, loving being. His features were as soft and as beautiful as he himself inherently was. Perhaps that's why, when he was discarded for another, more easily manipulated Jinn, he found solace in one Namjoon Kim.
How the two met, was foggy. Neither seemed eager to expound upon the topic at all and Hoseok had given up trying to get it out of them. It was a sharp contrast to how they went on about finding Yoongi. All Hoseok knew was that Namjoon had come across Seokjin mere months after being dropped from the territory of his once-Master.
What Seokjin did at that time, he also didn't know. Somehow the two wound up together and were hard-pressed to be separated. It was something Hoseok sometimes felt that he envied...and other times not.
Hoseok, being a Puresoul who reveled in the company of other superiors, enjoyed Seokjin's company. Yoongi however, was another matter. There was a time when Hoseok would have gagged at the notion of sharing space with the likes of a Geist. Unable to remain in this world without a physical tie to it – in Yoongi's case, a Music Box, - they were bound to their surroundings. Once their souls were tied to an object, they could not be severed without it being fatal.
If their object of choice was destroyed- most commonly, burned -they would simply cease to exist, their weak souls would disperse, unable to withstand the sudden difference from their homeworld. It was ironic, therefore, that Yoongi had an unhealthy affiliation with fire.
Hoseok had caught Seokjin removing an assortment of lighters, candles, matchsticks and flammable liquids from Yoongi's possessions more than once. As funny as it looked, it was a habit that had dark beginnings. A dismal underbelly as the obsession grew from Yoongi's depression of being fought over time and time again, nothing more than an inanimate trinket to mortals.
The Music Box his soul had tied itself to was apparently of great value, exceedingly so.
Indeed, it was remarkably beautiful.
A rose-gold treasure with a floral décor as the centerpiece. The rose presented upon the lid was exquisitely handcrafted, meticulously formed and the tiny gems that decorated the fine petals caught the light stunningly, giving it a glistening, dewy appearance. A pretty little key attached by a delicately made chain was fused to the back, the lock almost hidden by carefully detailed thorn-framed vines. The tune that resided within was just as breathtaking at the art containing it. It was a somewhat fast pace melody of chimes that hit an array of notes that shouldn't sound so sorrowful, yet it was impossible not replay over and over.
Hoseok was not one to be moved by such a triviality as a song, but Yoongi's Music Box did so many times.
The fact it was so obviously aged, discolored from the blood of the hands of those who had both won and lost it, made it all the more alluring. A damaged prize that was only ever bestowed greater value the more deterioration it underwent.
A beautiful tragedy.
He and Namjoon once sought out the origins of the Box, but only had the inscription 'Seesaw' to go by. The tune had since adopted the name and was often something he heard Yoongi humming or softly singing to.
The Music Box was an uncanny reflection of the Geist attached to it. Yoongi was a work of pure art, both in appearance and in personality. With a soul so strong, it was unsettling that he needed something to keep him with them. He was forever scrawling passages of poetry, writing lyrics day upon day, spilling emotion onto paper with such passion that Hoseok sometimes expected the parchment to bleed.
When Namjoon had dragged Hoseok through the front door to their previous home upon first finding him, Hoseok had been a spitting brat, annoyed with the fact someone whom he couldn't argue with had picked him up.
Apparently, Namjoon didn't take kindly to humans being terrorized on his turf. It wasn't that Hoseok took complete enjoyment out of setting up scenarios where human fatalities were inevitable, he just got bored and he did things impulsively. He often found himself fighting strong bouts of guilt and remorse at the distress he caused. This gave way to self-loathing over the fact that he was only encouraging the negative perceptions of their kind.
There was a reason they stayed inconspicuous in this world. They blended in, portrayed themselves as human or hid from them entirely- such as the case of Geist's and Shifter's.
Hoseok was fairly new to the human world - having fled from his own – and he enjoyed feeling free and on top of everyone else. His birthright was often called into question due to his lack of tact, his energetic demeanor and the fact he acted without considering any consequences.
He was rash and loud, it was viewed as thoughtless and therefore against the known personas of a Puresoul, who obtained too much power to be a loose cannon. As tensions became threateningly close to snapping, Hoseok bolted out of his home-realm before anyone got the idea of attempting to restrain him- or worse.
He was a Puresoul, he felt like the label had been rammed down his throat to the point that it often made him feel suffocated. He hated it and yet when he found himself in the presence of lesser-beings, it invoked a sense of pride that sometimes swung wildly into sheer narcissistic egotism. He didn't just think he was better than anyone else, Hoseok knew he was.
It wasn't until Namjoon had snatched him from the streets, almost splintering his physical form by the sheer force of his anger, that he realized there were rules here too. He was pretty sure that he would have been destroyed that night had it been any other Puresoul but Namjoon.
Seokjin had promptly criticized Namjoon's rough handling of him when he was all but slammed onto the floor of the lonely cottage they owned. Hoseok hadn't been able to speak, for the first time in his life he had lost his voice. Needless to say, things had been tense for the days following that.
Namjoon was barely present as Seokjin fawned over him, knowing that his Puresoul heart had undergone a shock, being challenged and crushed was not something he knew how to contend with. Namjoon's power dwarfed his own by such a terrifying degree that Hoseok had almost been tempted to go back to his own world to face whatever fate awaited him there.
When Yoongi made his entry, Hoseok was at first convinced he'd started hallucinating. The platinum-blonde male was simply stood in the doorway to the room he'd been designated, leaning against the door-frames with an impassive expression that said all too much and nothing at once.
He was pale-skinned, dark-eyed and like Seokjin, flawlessly beautiful. When Hoseok made a snide comment at his presence, he had expected the Geist to leave, but what he got in return was the verbal form of a poison-dart to the heart.
He learned very quickly, Yoongi was not phased at all by ranks or beings.
In the Geist's opinion, everyone deserved life, everyone deserved happiness and apparently Hoseok's disregard for such things- such basic moral standards – had incurred the household's wrath and even brought down his worth as a Puresoul.
Hoseok thought Yoongi was full of himself, hiding behind Namjoon's and Seokjin's power and had rebuffed his words venomously, slamming the door despite knowing that the Geist could very well kick it open again.
Thankfully he didn't, but his words stuck. They haunted Hoseok in true Geist fashion, lingering in the room and bouncing off the walls. A Geist's words weren't to be taken lightly at the best of times, it often drove mortals to insanity or right out of their homes- but for one like Yoongi, it tore at your inner being until you were lost in a pit of self-generated despair.
Perhaps it was seeing Hoseok cave in on himself, push Seokjin's concerned arms away and refuse to move from his corner where he curled in on himself, face buried in his knees and arms wound around them protectively, that had Yoongi frequenting his room.
Hoseok wasn't a mortal, he could remain stationary for eternity if he wanted. He could simply stay in place, recede further and further into his own mind until it would be impossible to pull him back to reality. His physical body would simply harden as it gave way to calcification, leaving behind nothing more than a petrified husk of the monster he was.
It was only when Namjoon returned after a month or so's 'cool down' that things became harder to ignore. Seokjin was apparently at his wit's end, having a young Puresoul give way to complete desolation right in his house. Namjoon hadn't expected things to have been so bad and Hoseok remembered wondering if the elder Puresoul was in his room to finally return him home or put him out his misery.
As it happened, it was to ask questions- and those were far worse than either of the previously feared routes the situation could take. Hoseok knew that Namjoon could demand the answers from him, knew that if that failed he could physically pry them from him- yet as Hoseok shied away, closing up more and more, Namjoon didn't force his hand.
It confused Hoseok, who was used to those possessing power and authority, wielding it at every given chance. Disobedience, protest, even hesitation, was returned with a forcefulness that left behind enough scars to ensure you'd answer twice as fast next time.
Namjoon had simply rest a hand in his red hair and sighed, apologizing for not considering the circumstances that lead him to such behavior.
That night had been the worst. Yoongi and Namjoon's words were causing him to feel an emotional pain that was forever building. It had no-where to go, it was just welling up inside and he became almost panicked, fearful that he would physically combust from the utter volume of turmoil.
That night was the first time he had heard the melody from Yoongi's Music Box – not that he knew it at the time.
It was also, the first time in his life, that Jung Hoseok had cried.
He didn't know when Seokjin had joined him in his room, but he remembered being held and he remembered the words that spilled from his lips as he opened his heart to the Jinn, who cradled him closely and listened with all the attentiveness of a loving Father.
It took a while for Hoseok to stabilize after such an ordeal. He was wary of Namjoon, often shying away from him and was overly anxious about his own behavior when in the other Puresoul's presence, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. He had no intention of challenging the elder male and he feared the notion of being perceived as doing so.
Yoongi...he was absolutely petrified of. If anyone had told him that a fellow Puresoul would have him pulling his act together and a mere Geist would have him running for the hills, he'd have laughed for an entire decade.
If the Geist was in the room, Hoseok was out of it quicker than anyone could even blink. He was severely scarred by Yoongi's words. The amount of truth within them brought a level of anguish that no amount of crying or coddling could remedy.
He was stuck with them and he didn't want to incur more of Yoongi's wrath, so avoidance was in full effect.
Whether this pleased the Geist or not, Hoseok didn't know. He simply did what kept him out of the center of attention because he didn't want to suffer the consequences ever again.
It wasn't until he heard the Music Box, the very one that had broken through his despair and released him from its crippling grip, that Hoseok came face to face with the blonde entity once again.
Stumbling upon the Music Box was circumstantial, since Hoseok had been attempting to help Seokjin with the daily chores. The household was managed like a mortal home despite the unnecessary practice of such a thing and he'd been so focused that he'd mindlessly done as was asked of him, which was to take the freshly ironed bed-set up to 'the bedroom at the end of the hall.'
He hadn't thought twice about it, never considering that Yoongi owned a room of his own at all. When he'd finished patting down the newly spread duvet, Hoseok had spotted the decorative treasure on the side, immediately entranced by the level of detail it had been crafted with.
Of course, the second he touched it, intent on winding it up, Yoongi had appeared right behind him and he'd all but panicked. It was all thanks to the fact he was cornered that Yoongi even had the chance to get a word out before he escaped, asking him to please let him talk.
Of course, that was the one thing Hoseok was terrified of. The plea came more softly after he voiced his fear, covering his ears and looking at the blonde with what was probably a pitiful expression. Thus, Hoseok learned that Yoongi could also wear an expression of regret.
The conversation that ensued was less awkward now than he'd felt it to be at the time, with Yoongi firstly apologizing for having spoken so recklessly. Hoseok however, had already come to terms with the fact that the Geist's words had rung true and therefore had no need to be taken back.
He recalled Yoongi winding the Music Box up, placing it in Hoseok's palm and simply sitting beside him as it played its strangely sorrowful tune. It was then that he grew to respect Yoongi as someone emotional and full of experience, not just a lesser-being that was weaker than himself.
Yoongi was abrasive, quick to knock you down a couple of pegs if needed and for sure wasn't one to be taking liberties with, but he was strong. He was strong and he had a mind that even fascinated Namjoon. He was quiet, reserved and private- true to a Geist's nature, but he was also a genius, talented and very dedicated.
Watching Yoongi now was like watching a completely different Geist. The blonde was rocking backward and forward against the wall, shaking his head as both Namjoon and Seokjin tried to console him.
Deciding that idly observing the couple was a waste of time, Hoseok quietly moved over to the decaying doors and pulled up his case. He didn't wait to see if the others noticed, he just hauled the hefty blue luggage up the frail-looking stairs without much thought.
This house was was tiny compared to any of the other living conditions he had ever dwelled in before. The Twentieth Century offered much for mortal and immortal alike but time always got in the way. Their kind could never be content for very long. One thing was that they never aged…and people noticed. That had been the reason for Hoseok's...accident.
He'd panicked when a neighbor asked about his age after noticing that there had been no change in their appearance for a rather suspiciously long time. Of course, panic lead to impulsivity and the neighbor was promptly dealt with.
Namjoon had been livid, Seokjin had been quick to defend and Yoongi had been cynical.
So, after much debate, it was decided that if one had noticed, others were bound to be considering the same thing. Therefore, Seokjin bought a small, dilapidated house standing all by itself in the middle of a rather run-down looking street. Most of the house's windows were boarded up, bikes and car parts had been scattered across the sidewalks and gardens and the landlord had told them if they heard gunfire in the early hours, not at all to be surprised.
In all honesty, it sounded like a nightmare location, but for the three of them, it was the ideal place to be.