The skies open just as Jungkook clocks off his nightshift.
His thin jacket provides little protection against the heavy downpour, and by the time he’s run the half-mile back home from the convenience store, he’s wet through and chilled to the bone, damp socks squelching unpleasantly in his water-logged shoes. He really needs to get a new pair (the soles are sporting more than one hole now) but he’ll just have to make do until his next pay cheque comes through at the end of the month. Food and rent come first, and he’s already pulling extra shifts just to make ends meet, he can’t afford to splurge on accessories just now.
Reaching his towering apartment complex and slowing to a jog, he heads up the short path towards the main entrance, blinking the raindrops from his eyes.
Jungkook’s foot suddenly catches on a shadow, sending him staggering forwards a few paces as he tries to regain his balance, hands reaching out to catch himself against the wall of the building.
“Ow,” mumbles the shadow behind him.
Jungkook startles, wheeling around to stare back out into the gloom, eyes honing in on the distinctly man-shaped silhouette who appears to be sitting in the tiny flowerbed by the path, propped up against the fake-marble statue of some ancient forest deity. A man-shaped silhouette whose legs Jungkook has apparently just kicked.
“Oh god,” he breathes, hurrying to crouch down at the stranger’s side, setting a careful hand on his shoulder. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you. Are you hurt? Sir?”
The man’s chin has been lowered towards his chest, but at Jungkook’s tentative touch he slowly raises his head, tilting it back to rest against the decorative statue as he surveys his attacker silently for a moment. The nearby streetlamp had been too dim to light the path a moment ago, but curiously the stranger’s face is perfectly visible despite the gloom; with his angular jaw and high cheekbones, his skin’s so pale it almost seems to glow in the darkness.
Jungkook feels his breath catch in his throat, his heart giving a funny little flutter beneath his breastbone because holy fuck, he’s never seen anyone so beautiful in his entire life.
“Hey there.” The man’s lips curl up in a tired, lazy smile, apparently unbothered by the fat rain droplets that are dripping from his fringe and down his cheeks. “Where’d you come from, handsome?”
In any other situation, a line like that would make Jungkook so incredibly flustered that he’d barely be able to string a sentence together, but given the unusual circumstances that he already finds himself in, being hit on by a good-looking guy is really the least of his worries.
“I live here,” he answers simply, because honesty is easy enough to articulate. “Um…do you? Live here, I mean?”
“Nooo,” the stranger replies, shaking his head somewhat drunkenly, like he only has partial control of his musculature. “I’m close, though. Almost made it. I was supposed to be home already, Jin-hyung’s gonna freak out, but…m’tired. Soooo tired. Gonna take a nap first, ‘kay? Don’t worry about me, beautiful.”
Jungkook takes in the man’s appearance at a glance. Other than being soaked through, he doesn’t seem unkempt and his clothes appear to be of a decent quality – fashionable, even. He certainly doesn’t look like someone who’s accustomed to sleeping rough. Jungkook can’t smell any alcohol on him, either, and he’s generally got a good nose for that kind of thing. He gets it from his grandfather’s side; dormant hybrid genes that occasionally give him heightened olfactory senses and super-sharp hearing. Although usually that just means in the dead of night he can hear everyone in their apartment complex having sex, and it reminds him just how woefully single he is.
There’s a reason he wears earplugs to bed nowadays.
So if the man isn’t drunk, why is he behaving so strangely? Maybe he’s sick. Or concussed? Yugyeom had ploughed headfirst into a tree six months back during the campus Moon Run, and all their friends had thought he was drunk as fuck until they’d seen the egg-sized lump starting to swell near his temple. Poor Gyeomie hadn’t been able to walk in a straight line for hours after that. Still, it hadn’t all been bad – the Omega’s injuries had triggered the protective instincts of Im Jaebum, a senior Alpha who’d attended the run to support his two youngest Betas. Yugyeom had gone into the forest a lone wolf and emerged as the maknae of Jaebum’s pack, the lucky pup. And now he’s sickeningly in love with all six of them.
Nothing like that ever happens to Jungkook. The universe hates him.
“You can’t sleep out here,” he insists, the squelching if his sodden socks reminding him why he’d been in such a hurry to get inside a few minutes ago. “You said your home was nearby? Maybe I could help you get there? Or I could call a taxi if you’d like?”
The stranger shakes his head again, still with that drunken little half-smile that makes him look far prettier than a man who’s sitting in a flowerbed at 5:30am has any right being.
“Can’t. Won’t be able to find it.”
Has he forgotten where he lives? Maybe the man really is sick. Perhaps Jungkook should phone for an ambulance or something?
“S’okay, pretty,” the man reassures, reaching up to pat Jungkook’s cheek with damp, icy-cold fingers. “I already called for help. They’ll come find me…just need to wait a little longer. Gonna take a nap until they get here.”
The man’s chin starts to dip down towards his chest again, his eyelids drooping. Alarmed, Jungkook gives the slim shoulder a gentle shake.
“Hey, no, you need to stay awake,” he urges, wincing as the man’s head lolls with at the jostling. “What’s your name? I’m Jungkook, Jeon Jungkook.”
“Mmmhiii,” the stranger slurs, with a stupidly beautiful grin. “Kim Taehyung. Call me Tae…wait, no, call me hyung. You’re kinda young, huh, pretty-boy?”
“I’m twenty,” Jungkook tells him, trying his best not to sound defensive. He doubts Taehyung meant it offensively, but he knows he has a ‘baby face’ – he hears it all the time from his friends and co-workers.
Taehyung pats his cheek again with a clumsy hand. “So small. So cute.” The man wincers suddenly, rubbing at his brow. “Fuck, my head…”
A gust of cold wind reminds Jungkook just how drenched he is, chilling him to the bone as he shivers, gritting his teeth against the urge to chatter. Taehyung is still giving him all kinds of weird vibes, but he doesn’t seem dangerous, and in his current state of incoordination it’s unlikely he could successfully overpower anyone. Besides, he doesn’t want the man to die of hypothermia on his doorstep when he can easily do something to prevent it.
His mind made up, Jungkook abruptly pulls the man’s arm across his shoulders, heaving them both upright and grunting as he’s forced to take most of Taehyung’s weight.
“Easy, tiger,” the man slurs, listing sideways dangerously. “At least let me take you to dinner first.”
Jungkook feels his cheeks flush red and for once is grateful for the pre-dawn gloom.
“C’mon, we need to get you inside where it’s warm,” he says, helping Taehyung further along the path one wobbly step at a time. “You can stay in my apartment until your friends come to get you, okay?”
He leans the man against the wall of the building so that he can fish out his keys from the pocket of his backpack, using the fob to unlock the outer door and wedging it open with his foot as he reaches for Taehyung once more. The weird-but-beautiful stranger is giving him a puzzled sort of look, glancing between Jungkook’s face and the unlocked door.
“You…you’re inviting me into your home?” the man slurs confusedly.
“I’m not about to leave you outside in the rain,” Jungkook reasons. “Oh! We’re in luck, they finally fixed the elevator.”
Given that Jungkook lives on the fifth floor, he couldn’t be more relieved – he hadn’t been looking forward to dragging his uncoordinated guest up ten flights of stairs. Granted, the elevator will probably be broken again by tomorrow; the property managers put plenty of effort into making the apartment complex look pretty on the outside, but they’re a little less generous when it comes to fixing the electrics or making sure the hot water works in winter. Jungkook would’ve moved out months ago if he could afford anything better, but money’s tight at the moment. Besides, he needs to live within walking distance of both the university campus and his two part-time jobs, and his current residence (despite its many, many flaws) does have the one bonus of being perfectly situated right in the middle of those three locations. He can live with the dodgy plumbing and unreliable electrics if it saves him from commuting long distances.
“Here we go,” he says cheerfully, a little out of puff by the time they finally make it to his apartment door. Jungkook quickly keys in the passcode and helps his guest inside, body relaxing at the heat that immediately surrounds them. “See? Nice and warm.”
The apartment is dark and quiet, and Jungkook remembers after a beat that Moonbin had said something about spending the night with Eunwoo. The Were-cat must have put the thermostat on a timer so that the heating would be on when Jungkook came home from work, and the elder couldn’t be more grateful for his roommate’s thoughtfulness. Especially since Taehyung feels like a block of ice against his side.
“God, you’re freezing,” he worries, eyeing the man’s deathly pallor with concern. “Here, stay put for sec, let me grab you a towel. Maybe you should take a shower to warm up? You’re about my size, I’ll find you some dry clothes…”
Toeing off his sodden shoes, he leaves the stranger propped up against the inside of the front door and squelches along the short entrance hallway in his sodden socks, grimacing as he leans down to peel them off. Binnie will inevitably slip and fall as soon as he comes home if Jungkook leaves puddles of water all over the place (his roommate is distressingly clumsy at times), and then he’ll have an injured and pouty Were-cat to contend with, which is never a fun experience for his guilty conscience.
Switching on the overhead lights in the small living room, he goes to the storage shelves along the far wall, pulling the curtain back to fetch down a couple of spare towels from the basket at the top, grimacing when his wet t-shirt unsticks itself from his skin with the motion. He feels gross, and a shower sounds heavenly right now, but he’ll wait until after his guest is done; his parents raised him to be a courteous host, even to the most baffling of visitors…
An echoing thud makes him jump, and Jungkook clutches the towels to his chest as he runs back out into the hallway, sucking in a sharp breath at the sight of Taehyung sitting huddled against the door with his knees drawn up to his chest, face buried in his arms that are wrapped around his legs tight enough that his hands look bone-white. He’s trembling violently, and it would almost look like some sort of seizure if not for the fact that Taehyung is clearly trying to suppress the shivers wracking his body.
“You’re sick,” Jungkook frets, hurrying to crouch down at the man’s side. “Hyung, I…I think maybe you should go to the hospital.”
“N-not sick. I…I’m just…”
“Just what?” the younger man presses, unfurling one of the dry towels to wrap it around his guest’s shuddering frame. “Please, tell me how to help you.”
“Thirsty,” Taehyung croaks, in a voice that sounds so desperate it makes something in Jungkook’s chest ache for a reason he can’t quite explain. “I’m so thirsty…”
Jungkook nods. Thirst is something he can fix easily enough, thank god. “I’ll get you a drink, just sit tight-”
“No.” The distressed visitor shakes his head, arms tightening around his knees. “You don’t understand, I can’t…I need…”
He lifts his gaze at last, and Jungkook’s breath catches in his throat at the bloody crimson of his irises.
“Tell me to leave,” Taehyung begs, sounding more coherent than he has been these past ten minutes. “Please, just tell me I’m not welcome in your home anymore. I shouldn’t be here, I can’t...I don’t know how to control it yet, I don’t wanna hurt you. Jungkook, please. My nestmates are coming, I’ll be okay, just throw me out. Your scent…I can’t be around you right now.”
Jungkook swallows past the lump that fear has lodged in his in his throat, before taking a deep, calming breath.
“So you’re a vampire,” he murmurs. Then, a little frustrated, “Why didn’t you say so earlier? God, you must be starving. Wait here, I’ve got just the thing.”
Taehyung’s trembling is getting worse, but Jungkook ignores it in favour of hurrying down the hallway and into the little box-room of a kitchen at the far end. It isn’t much, just a metre-length worktop with a tiny stove, a microwave, an under-cabinet refrigerator and a couple of overhead cupboards, but it’s enough to meet their needs. Neither he nor Moonbin are particularly skilled when it comes to the culinary arts – ramen and sandwiches are generally their usual fare when they’re not eating at the university campus.
Grabbing one of the plastic pouches from inside the door of the fridge and chucking it in the microwave for a brief thirty-second warming to remove the chill, he gives the bloodbag it a vigorous shake and tests the temperature against the inside of his wrist. It’s not exactly body temp the way Eunwoo likes it, but it’s warm, and he doubts Taehyung’s feeling picky about the precise centigrade in his current state of hunger.
“Here,” he says, returning to the hallway crouching down in front of the vampire, offering him the blood-pouch with a tentative smile. “I hope it’s warm enough.”
Taehyung stares at him, wide-eyed.
“Go ahead, take it,” Jungkook encourages softly. “Moonbin won’t mind. He always keeps a few on ice in case Eunwoo decides to stay over. I don’t know much about blood brands, but this is one of his favourites, so I guess it must be okay. Um…we might have a dark chocolate pouch if you prefer the flavoured kind-?”
His words are cut off abruptly when Taehyung - making a soft, needy noise in the back of his throat – surges forwards quickly, one hand wrapping around Jungkook’s where it holds the pouch as the other curls tightly around the human’s wrist, anchoring him in place.
Jungkook sees a brief flash of sharp, gleaming fangs right before they pierce the oval-shaped rubber seal on the feeding pouch, the quiet pop making him jolt a little, heart jumping in his chest. He watches with slightly parted lips as Taehyung takes several rapid gulps without seeming to pause for breath, clearly seeking to sate the worst of his hunger. After a few moments, the vampire exhales shakily through his nose and loosens his grip on Jungkook’s wrist, enough that the human could pull away if he wanted to.
“There you go,” Jungkook murmurs, watching as the vampire closes his eyes, throat bobbing in a steady rhythm as he feeds. “Take your time, okay? There’s another pouch in the refrigerator if you need it.”
He’s never seen a creature of the night looking so incredibly vulnerable before; truthfully, he didn’t even know it was possible. He isn’t exactly acquainted with a lot of vampires outside of Eunwoo and Hyungwon, and even then he’s only befriended them through a third party, so he’s no expert. Maybe this is something that happens regularly? He wonders if Eunwoo ever gets like this around Moonbin, but honestly, he really can’t picture it; not with how calm and collected his roommate’s boyfriend always seems to be whenever he stays over.
Taehyung appears calmer now, the tension gone from his face and his limbs looser as he adjusts his gentle grip on the human’s hand to squeeze the pouch a little, pushing more blood up from the bottom.
“Feeling better?” Jungkook asks tentatively.
The vampire nods, his eyes fading from their fiery crimson back to a burnt amber, his thumb gently stroking over the back of Jungkook’s hand in what could possibly be interpreted as silent gratitude.
It’s only a pint-pouch, and it takes Taehyung less than five minutes to drain it dry, the vampire pulling his fangs free of the rubber seal and letting go of Jungkook’s hand to slump back against the front door again, loose-limbed and breathing heavily. His pale cheeks are looking distinctly more flushed now, and the amber hue of his eyes has faded further into a warm brown, red-stained lips curling up in sated smile
Jungkook gives a small shrug, suddenly feeling shy. “No worries. Do you need more, uh…would you like another pouch?”
Taehyung’s smile turns a little apologetic. “Your boyfriend won’t mind?”
“Moonbin’s the one with the boyfriend,” Jungkook corrects, and he really ought to be embarrassed by how keen he is for Taehyung to understand his absolutely-single-and-ready-to-mingle status, but his brain will undoubtedly save the moment for his next insomnia-triggering 3am Mental Regret Party. “He won’t mind though, it’s cool.”
He peels out of his wet jacket while he’s waiting for the second pouch to heat up in the microwave. He’ll need to air it out over the clothes hanger if he wants it to be anywhere close to dry by the time he leaves for his afternoon shift at the café. Gods, he still needs to sleep before then – it’s gone 6am already, he’s normally showered and safely conked out in bed at this hour, dead to the world. Work isn’t going to be much fun later on if he doesn’t get at least six hours sleep; nightshifts always leave him feeling horribly hungover.
There’s a strange rustling sound from the hallway just as Jungkook removes the warmed blood pouch from the microwave, like a whispery gust of wind is blowing right past the kitchen door.
“Hyung?” Jungkook calls hesitantly, and jumps when he hears the low murmur of an unfamiliar voice.
Poking his head out into the hallway, he’s startled to see a tall figure crowding over Taehyung, draped in a long dark coat that sweeps all the way down to the floor. As he watches, the newcomer sinks to his knees and cups Taehyung’s face between his hands, murmuring something too quiet for Jungkook to make out. But the tone he can discern easily enough; Mr Dark-and-Mysterious sounds worried – cross, even. Perhaps it’s one of Taehyung’s nestmates…but how the hell did he get inside? Jungkook understands the basic principles of vampire lore, he knows they shouldn’t be able to enter someone’s home uninvited, not unless they’re something more.
Curiosity piqued even further, Jungkook inches closer to the pair.
“What were you thinking?” the newcomer presses, still cradling Taehyung’s face tenderly between his hands. “Slipping out like that without telling anyone. You were gone almost nine hours, Tae, for god’s sake. I’ve been worried sick.”
To Jungkook’s surprise, the younger vampire’s eyes are glistening wetly, his gaze flickering downwards in shame.
“I’m sorry,” Taehyung murmurs, his voice a little unsteady as he tilts his cheek into the newcomer’s touch. “I didn’t mean to stay out so late. I went to the Fae Forest to visit Taemin-hyung, but I got lost on my way back, and I was so hungry, I couldn’t remember how to find home…”
“You need to feed,” says the cloaked stranger, and tugs up the sleeve on his left arm, lifting his bared wrist to Taehyung’s mouth.
Remembering the warm blood pouch still in his possession, Jungkook clears his throat quietly, then regrets it almost immediately when the newcomer spins around to place himself like a physical barrier in front of Taehyung. His body doesn’t visibly grow any bigger than it already is, but Jungkook can feel his presence filling the hallway like a spreading shadow, and the tiny part of him that retains his mostly dormant bunny-hybrid instincts wants to run and hide until the danger has passed.
“No, don’t, he isn’t a threat,” Taehyung intercepts quickly, touching his companion on the shoulder. “Jungkook’s the one who rescued me, hyung. He invited me into his home and helped me to feed-”
“Helped you what?”
Taehyung, wide-eyed, waves his hands in a frantic pacifying motion. “Not like that! Hyung. You know I’d never let myself lose control around a human.”
The newcomer seems to calm at that, his alarmed frown softening into a smile as he reaches out to touch Taehyung’s cheek. “I know, treasure, I’m sorry.”
Turning back to face Jungkook (who gulps, because he’s fully aware that he’s in the presence of a very, very powerful creature right now), the stranger regards him silently for a moment before bestowing that same gentle smile upon him.
And all the fear in Jungkook’s chest just melts, his breath leaving him in a quiet whoosh, his knees going a little bit week. That overpowering presence from before has shifted into something tangibly warmer, and it’s like he’s getting hugged by the air.
“It’s lovely to meet you, Jungkook,” the man murmurs, offering him a hand to shake. “I’m Kim Seokjin. Thank you for taking care of Taehyung for me.”
Jungkook fumbles to switch the blood-pouch over to his opposite hand so that he can grasp Seokjin’s hand, surprised to find the other’s fingers wonderfully warm beneath his grip. He’d always assumed vampires ran a lot cooler than humans, but apparently not.
“You’re cold, child,” the older man remarks, that faint frown creasing his brow again. “And you’ll catch your death in those damp clothes. What were you thinking?”
He takes the blood-pouch from Jungkook’s lax grip and passes it back to Taehyung without a second glance, instead taking both of the human’s hands between his own and leaning down to gently blow on them.
Ignoring the fact that he’s being scolded by a complete stranger in his own home, Jungkook blinks down at his hands as they begin to tingle, warmth fanning out from his fingertips and crawling up his arms. He shudders as the heat rolls through him, a little unnerved by the sensation but grateful to have the chill banished from his bones so quickly.
“You should drink something warm before you sleep,” Seokin advises gently. “Is it alright if I use your kitchen?”
“Um…sure?” Jungkook permits, still a little bemused by the events of the past half-hour. “Although there’s not much in there, I’m afraid.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make do.” The older man gives him a little nudge towards the other end of the hallway. “Go and change into something dry, little one.”
Feeling his cheeks heat at the pet name but finding that he really doesn’t mind the coddling, Jungkook does as he’s bid, heading through the living room towards his bedroom and closing the door behind him. He leans against it for a moment, pinching himself just to make sure this isn’t just some fatigue-induced hallucination or something. Finding his nerves fully intact (ow), he strips out of his sodden clothing and dumps the wet garments on top of his washing basket to be dealt with later, pulling on a clean pair of sweatpants and a cotton polo shirt his older brother hand bought him for his last birthday. It’s a size too big, but he likes the fact that there’s room in it, enough excess fabric that he can pull the sleeves down over his fingers whenever he and Binnie need to save money on utilities by turning down the thermostat.
He cracks open his bedroom door by just an inch to peek out, half expecting to see the two vampires waiting for him on the other side.
Surprised to find the living room empty, he wraps his arms around himself, body still tingling a little with that peculiar heat Seokjin had used to warm his hands. He pads over to the hallway and into the kitchen, finding it similarly unoccupied, his gaze zeroing in on the steaming mug that’s waiting for him on the countertop.
It smells wonderful, and he takes a tentative sip, moaning softly when the warm chocolate milk soothes his parched throat. He has no idea where it came from; he and Binnie don’t even own any instant hot chocolate. Or milk. Or this mug, come to think of it. But stranger things have happened already this morning, and he’s honestly too tired to question it.
There’s a note pinned to the fridge with one of Binnie’s Nesquik magnets, written in a beautiful cursive handwriting that Jungkook doubts can be achieved using a generic ballpoint pen.
Sleep well, little one. Until we meet again,
And beneath his elegant script is a second note, the penmanship far more lazily scrawled but still perfectly legible, and Jungkook’s lips curl up into a happy grin as he reads it.
Guess I owe you a couple of drinks, handsome.
See you around.
Jungkook sure hopes that’s a promise.