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Yoongi enjoys his solitude.

 

People are complicated and things are simply easier when he keeps to himself, so he doesn’t miss the days when he considered himself to be one of the more important players in the tangled web that is the vampiric world.

 

But there is one person he’ll always make an exception for.

 

“Hyung, you got the present I sent you for your birthday, right?”

 

Yoongi hides a smile behind his hand. Why Taehyung believes he still cares about his birthdays after so many centuries is beyond him, but he knows it makes Taehyung happy, so he plays along. “I got it. It was thoughtful.”

 

“I got it when me and Minnie were in Paris. We tracked down the original family. Once I heard that music, I knew you would love to play it.”

 

“I will. Thank you.”

 

Tonight they dine on expensive wine and extravagant food; even if it doesn’t sustain them, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste divine.

 

“I was considering bringing him tonight, but I know you prefer to keep your birthday celebrations small.”

 

Yoongi has the decency to laugh. He’s not quite sure a two person affair could ever count as a real celebration, but he appreciates the effort.

 

Taehyung’s phone buzzes on the table. “That’s probably him now. Do you mind?”

 

Yoongi waves him off, not really caring either way. It’s a routine of theirs when Taehyung comes over; they dine, they talk, they reminiscence.

 

It’s simple and uncomplicated, which is how Yoongi prefers to keep his life.

 

Taehyung’s voice start to rise, a bit on edge as he tries to make sense of what his boyfriend is saying. Yoongi can hear Jimin screaming through the phone even from this distance, sounding high-pitched and frantic.

 

He has no interest in getting involved in their personal drama, so for the most part he tunes it out, until he hears his name.

 

“No, explain it to me first, then I’ll tell Yoongi hyung. You need to breathe , baby. You’re not making any sense.”

 

Yoongi’s sharp eyes cut over to his friend, seeing the way his expression becomes more crestfallen.

 

“I don’t want you to get hurt, Jimin. I know you need to go after Hobi. I’m just worried about both of you. Are you sure you can’t wait for me? I can come right now. What do you mean you’re already in a cab?

 

Taehyung sighs, rubbing at his temples. “I need you to listen to me. I need you to promise me that if Woohyuk is there, you will leave and call me for back up. It doesn’t matter how angry you are Minnie, he’s older than you. A lot older than you. That’s a fight you cannot win. Promise me.

 

Yoongi watches as Taehyung sinks into a chair. “I trust your judgement. So does Hobi. He’ll listen to you. Just stay calm. He sees Woohyuk for who he is now, and that’s half of the battle. I love you. Keep in contact with me, and come to Yoongi hyung’s after you pick him up. Okay?”

 

Jimin seems to agree on the other end of the call, because Taehyung says goodbye and hangs up the phone, all of the joy in his eyes from before evaporated away.

 

The older vampire blinks at him. “Care to tell me who you just invited to my home?”

 

“Shit, sorry hyung. My mind just—” He makes a random motion with his hand. “His name is Hoseok. He’s a very dear friend and he’s in a bit of trouble. It’ll be okay, it’s just… really frustrating.”

 

Yoongi lifts an eyebrow. “Okay. That still doesn’t explain why you invited him to my home .”

 

Yoongi motions around him vaguely. “Does this look like a boarding house to you?”

 

Taehyung rolls his eyes. “ Hyung . Be serious. Obviously I wouldn’t invite him here if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. From what Minnie told me over the phone just now… it has to do with Shin Woohyuk.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes turn sharp at the mention of such a name.

 

“Tell me more.”

 

“Again, Minnie was frantic when he was explaining this, but something about… how he was dating Hoseok when he was a human, and he tricked him into turning him. He had someone else attack him so he could swoop in and sire him last minute under the guise of saving him.”

 

Yoongi tilts his chin back. “Changing someone without their permission or willing consent is against vampiric law. But doing something so vile to your lover… that’s… that’s even worse , in my opinion.”

 

Yes. It is. And Hoseok is so sweet and trusting and kind. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him. He and Jimin were best friends before he was a vampire too.” Taehyung sighs. “But apparently he ran off to go confront that asshole and now Minnie’s going to go and try and collect him. So I told him he could bring him back here, because if there’s anywhere he’s safe from Woohyuk…”

 

“It’s here,” Yoongi agrees. “Very well.”

 

“Don’t look so put out hyung. You’ll like him. Everyone likes Hobi. And maybe this is for the best.”

 

“And why is that?” Yoongi drawls, taking a sip from his wine glass.

 

“Because, it’s supposed to be a celebration. And now we have two more people coming over. Maybe you should break out a bottle from your early days, make it a real party.”

 

“Ha ha.” Yoongi fake laughs, rolling his eyes. He stands up, going to play with Taehyung’s hair. “You’re lucky I adore you. You know I’ve never been one for crowds.”

 

“It’s just Minnie and his best friend. It’ll be fine. Tonight’s going to be fun . You’ll probably even thank me for inviting them over.”

 

“If you say so Tae.” Yoongi chuckles, pinching his cheek. “If you say so.”

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

Jimin doesn’t bother to take the elevator, using his enhanced speed to sprint up five flights of stairs without even breaking a sweat. He had called Hoseok at least fifteen times on the way over, but his friend hadn’t picked up once.

 

He tries to focus on Taehyung’s words, tries to convince himself that there’s no reason to panic. His boyfriend is right; Hoseok realizes now just how shitty of a person (and even shitter of a vampire) Woohyuk is. Hoseok was going to break up with him.

 

Soon, all of this would be over and Woohyuk would be out of their lives for good.

 

Once he reaches the front door of the apartment he foregos all subtlety, banging at it loudly. “Hobi! Hobi, I know you’re in there! Hobi—”

 

Hoseok opens the door, the strangest look on his face. “Jimin? Why are you here? And why are you banging on the door, you’ll get us a noise complaint. Come inside.” He hugs him, but Jimin hesitates at the threshold.

 

“Wait. Is that fucker— I mean, is Woohyuk here?”

 

“No.” Jimin sighs in relief and lets his friend guide him inside as Hoseok continues to speak. “He had to take care of some things at the office before we leave for our trip.”

 

Jimin stops dead in his tracks. “...What?”

 

“Oh!” Hoseok smiles brightly. “I forgot to tell you! He’s planning a trip, for just the two of us! Isn’t it romantic? So unexpected.” Hoseok chuckles, running a dainty hand through his red waves. “He surprised me with it earlier, right after I came back from your place. I was just finishing up packing when you knocked...”

 

Jimin feels like he’s having an out of body experience. “You’re joking. Oh my god, you’re joking.” He laughs, letting out a sigh of relief. “For a moment there, you had me going. I thought you were serious.”

 

Hoseok frowns at him curiously, shaking his head and walking into the kitchen. “I’m not? Why would I be joking?” He shakes his head, brushing it off. “I’m really excited. He said we’re leaving tonight. Minnie, do you want anything? I have some blood on the warmer… Woohyuk made it for me before he left.”

 

Jimin shakes his head. “We fed at my place, remember? And don’t be ridiculous; obviously you’re not going anywhere with Woohyuk ever again. You’re leaving him.”

 

Hoseok looks sad. “Jimin… please, let’s not have this fight again. I know you don’t like him, but that isn’t enough to make me leave him.”

 

“Hoseok. I’m serious. Stop it.” There’s something about his friend that’s just a little bit off, and it’s starting to scare him.

 

The younger boy bristles. “Stop what? Loving him?” He sighs. “That’s not going to happen. We’re happy together, Jimin. Why can’t you just put your reservations aside and be happy for me? You’re supposed to be my best friend.”

 

Jimin stares at him incredulously. “Hoseok. I’m not fucking around anymore. This isn’t fucking funny. Stop talking about Woohyuk like that, stop acting like… like everything is normal, after what just happened.”

 

“You’re the one acting weird, not me! You show up here, causing a fuss, talking shit about my boyfriend—”

 

Hoseok.” Jimin cuts him off, grabbing his shoulders desperately. “I know it’s hard. I know the truth hurts. But you said it yourself, after what Woohyuk did, he doesn’t get to be with you anymore.”

 

“After what he did?” Hoseok sighs heavily. “Jimin, all he’s ever done is take care of me. It’s not my fault if you refuse to see that. I know you don’t like him, and you’re allowed to have your opinion, but please don’t put me in the middle. I care so much about you both. I don’t want to have to choose.”

 

Jimin stares into his eyes, the uneasiness in his stomach increasing tenfold. Hoseok isn’t just in denial, he’s acting like Woohyuk’s betrayal never even happened. It doesn’t make any sense; Hoseok only had a twenty minute or so head start on him, and he had been furious when he left Jimin’s place.

 

There had been no doubt in Hoseok’s mind when they last spoke; he had been determined to leave Woohyuk for good.

 

It would be one thing if Woohyuk had sweet talked his way back into Hoseok’s good graces, but logistically there hadn’t been enough time for him to do so.

 

Something about this situation isn’t right, and Jimin doesn’t know what but he’s determined to figure it out.

 

“Hoseok… what did we do at my apartment tonight?”

 

The younger boy rolls his eyes. “Jimin, really—”

 

“Hoseok. Please. Just answer the question. You said it yourself, you were just at my place. Not even an hour ago. Tell me specifically, what did me and you do together? What did we talk about?”

 

Hoseok sighs. “I came over. We… we…” Hoseok furrows his brow, and then laughs and shakes his head, trying to come back to his senses. “This is stupid . I came over and we…” He trails off. He knows he was at Jimin’s apartment. He knows he was. But it’s like his memory skips from the moment he left to go to Jimin’s place in the evening to when he was back in Woohyuk’s arms.

 

“Why can’t I remember?” he whispers, sinking down into a chair. He looks up at Jimin. “I… I did go over to your place, right?”

 

“You did.” Jimin tries to put on a brave face for his friend, even though he’s panicking on the inside. “What about before that? What happened today?”

 

“It was a normal day. You texted me in the morning, to confirm our plans. Me and Woohyuk… he fed off of me and then we…”

 

“Yeah.” Jimin nods, getting what he’s implying. “And after that?”

 

“He wanted me to stay. He always hates to see me go… but I told him I couldn’t. I wanted to see you.”

 

“I love seeing you too.” Jimin confesses, cupping Hoseok’s cheek. “What about when you left?”

 

“I got my things, kissed him goodbye, and then… then…” He shakes his head. “I don’t know why, but it’s blank. I know I went to your place, Woohyuk even said so. But for the life of me I can’t remember how I got there… or even how I left.”

 

“What about Song Minseo? Do you remember seeing him?”

 

“Song Minseo?” Hoseok repeats, tilting his head as he considers it, but ultimately coming up blank. “I don’t think I know him. Is he a friend of yours?”

 

Jimin can’t help it; he starts to cry, burying his face in Hoseok’s neck. Hoseok is alarmed by his friend’s reaction, taking him into his arms and rubbing his back.

 

“Minnie… don’t cry. It’s okay. Whoever this Minseo person is, we’ll find him. We’ll figure this out. I’ll help you.”

 

Jimin shakes his head, clenching his hands tighter on his friend. “No… I should have been the one to help you. I let this happen to you. I’m so sorry, Hobi. I’m so sorry. I should have never let you leave. Oh my god… what did he do to you, Hobi? What did he do?”

 

Hoseok shakes his head, not knowing what Jimin means but feeling frightened by the intensity of his reaction. He might have teased him in the past for being dramatic, but this was something else. He heard the sorrow in his friend’s voice, saw the obvious pain in his eyes. Jimin was hurting badly, and it was because of him.

 

“Everything’s okay, sometimes I’m just forgetful. Maybe I haven’t fed enough… before Woohyuk left he told me I should drink some more. Here, let me get some fresh Vermilion, I know there’s a couple bottles on the warmer.”

 

“No!” Jimin shakes his head. “Don’t. Please don’t.”

 

“Jimin, what is going on? You’re scaring me.”

 

“I don’t know. I don’t know. ” Jimin truthfully doesn’t; Hoseok is acting like Hoseok , but the gaps in his memory — especially over something as life changing as his transition — doesn’t make sense. There’s only one more question he can ask. “Hobi… I’m so sorry to bring this up but I need to know. You can be upset with me later, just please answer this for me.”

 

“Okay. Anything to make you stop crying, Minnie. I don’t like to see you upset.” Hoseok tries to soothe him, brushing down his blonde hair.

 

“The night you became a vampire… when you were attacked. Do you remember anything?”

 

Hoseok purses his lips, looking down. “I’m sorry Minnie… that night is… it’s hazy, hard to remember details. The vampire attacked me while I was sleeping, nearly drained me dry. Woohyuk found me alone, after the vampire had fled the apartment, and he saved my life. He saved me. Don’t you see why I love him, Minnie? Why he’s so good?”

 

Jimin almost wishes that Woohyuk would show up in this moment, so he could personally have the pleasure of ripping him apart. But he can’t do that, even if he wanted to, Taehyung’s warning still ringing clear in his head. He doesn’t know what the hell happened to his friend, but he’s positive that Woohyuk is responsible.

 

They need to get out of here, now.

 

“Hoseok.” Jimin grabs his hands, looking into his eyes. “If you love me, if you trust me at all, please come with me right now.”

 

The redhead sighs. “Minnie… I told you Woohyuk planned a trip for us. I can’t just bail on him—”

 

Please Hobi. Please.” Jimin cups his face. “Something is wrong. I don’t know what. I don’t know how. But something is wrong. I need to help you. I need you to come with me.”

 

Hoseok hesitates. “Jimin, you know I care about you but—”

 

Please.” Jimin begs. He doesn’t know what he’ll do if Hoseok refuses, so he doesn’t allow himself to think about it. He just tries to let his sincerity show in his eyes, hoping that Hoseok will hear his pleas. “There’s gaps in your memory that neither of us can explain. That’s a big deal, Hoseok. There’s being forgetful and then there’s this. You said it’s blank. That’s not normal.”

 

“I know it’s not but I’m not sure if it’s worth ruining a trip with my boyfriend over. Maybe we can look into it when I get back?”

 

Jimin can’t wait that long. He can’t let that evil man be alone with Hoseok, ever again. “I’m begging you. I’m begging you. Come with me tonight. Give me just one night, to try and help you figure this out. After that, I won’t try to stop you. But give me this chance. I’m your best friend. Please.

 

Hoseok looks at him unsurely. “You’re sure this is that serious? That it can’t wait?”

 

“I’m positive, Hobi. This isn’t about me disliking Woohyuk. I’ve never been shy about that fact. This is something different… something much more serious. I can explain better once we get away from here.”

 

Hoseok frowns. “Okay… let me just text him and tell him where I’m going. He’ll be frantic if he comes home and finds me gone…”

 

“Please don’t.” Hoseok gives him a look, and Jimin continues to speak. “You can tell him you’re with me, but we’re going to meet up with Tae at his hyung’s house. And I know he wouldn’t want me sharing that information so frivolously. His hyung is a very private person.” He sighs.

 

“Look Hobi, I know how ridiculous this all sounds. I know I’m coming across as overdramatic. I know you probably think this is some ploy to keep you in town. But I wouldn’t do that to you! I’ve told you countless times before that I think you deserve better than Woohyuk, but I’ve never actively tried to break you guys up. That’s not what this is. And ultimately, you have to make the choice to come with me. I won’t force you to do anything. I’m just… I’m begging you to give me a chance to explain. I’ll tell it all. We just need to get out of this apartment. Sooner rather than later. I can’t see Woohyuk tonight, Hobi. I promised Tae I wouldn’t confront him. Not alone.”

 

“Confront him?” Hoseok looks so confused, but Jimin has been nothing but the best friend to him ever since he met him. They’ve been through so much together. Hoseok was human back then, and Jimin still loved and protected him fiercely. And when Hoseok became a vampire, Jimin was there to dry his tears and stand by his side. He’s never done anything to make Hoseok not trust him. “This is so confusing… but I’ll go with you. I trust you, Minnie. I know you’d never hurt me on purpose.”

 

“Thank you, Hobi. Oh my god, you have no idea…” He stops himself, not wanting to get into it here. “Grab whatever things you think you might need.”

 

“Just one night, Minnie. I’ll listen with an open mind, but if it’s not that bad, I’ll still go on my trip with Woohyuk tomorrow.”

 

Jimin nods in agreement, even though deep down he’s hoping that once he finishes talking with Hoseok that he’ll never want to see Woohyuk again.

 

.

 

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Yoongi doesn’t know Shin Woohyuk personally.

 

He knows of him; he makes a point to be aware of the power players among their kind, because if he’s learned anything over his many years on this earth, it’s that knowledge is power.

 

He’s aware that Woohyuk is the face of Vermilion, that he has enough money and influence to be considered a legitimate threat.

 

Not to him, but to others.

 

Yoongi has never met the vampire, but he’s got half a mind to rip out the man’s heart because of the look on his friend’s face right now.

 

Taehyung had been upset after the first phone call, but he seemed to be in okay spirits after he hung up with his boyfriend.

 

But after the second?

 

Taehyung looks ghostly pale, sitting stock still in front of the stain glass window in Yoongi’s drawing room, tear marks evident on his face.

 

Yoongi doesn’t have many things in his life that he truly values. Things like money and possessions sort of lose their value after existing for so many years. Technically he could acquire any material possession he wants without even having to lift a finger, and that kind of power makes a lot of things seem trivial in comparison.

 

But Taehyung is special.

 

Taehyung is someone he values, someone he protects.

 

People — human or vampire — don’t get to hurt his Taehyung and live to see the sun rise the next morning.

 

“Taehyung-ah.” He calls out, his dark eyes fixed on his friend. “Come here.”

 

Taehyung looks over, almost like he’s in some sort of a dark trance, and nods once. He wipes his face and walks over to Yoongi.

 

“Hyung…” His voice sounds broken, small. Yoongi feels his blood rising.

 

“Tell me,” Yoongi says immediately. “The full story. Everything Jimin-ah just told you.”

 

Taehyung looks down, his shoulders shaking.

 

“Jimin went over there and Woohyuk wasn’t there… thank god… but Hoseok… he… he didn’t remember . He didn’t remember any of his and Jimin’s conversation. It’s like his mind was completely wiped. And Woohyuk was planning on taking him away… having them go on a trip tonight. What kind of dark powers are this? This shouldn’t be possible. Who would do this to such a lovely person? Hobi is pure . He’s kind. He’s been through so much…”

 

Yoongi’s eyes darken. “I… I haven’t heard of it in years. Centuries . To do such a thing…” He shakes his head. “Bring the boy to me at once. I have ways I can tell if someone is being… manipulated. I need to be able to see him and look into his eyes.”

 

“Can you fix him, hyung? Whatever evil thing Woohyuk did to our Hobi? Can you reverse it? For me?” Taehyung looks at him pleadingly, and Yoongi has always been desperate to give the younger boy whatever his heart desires.

 

“I will do my best,” Yoongi nods and stands up. “I’ll be in my study. Bring him to me, Tae. No delays, alright? This is urgent. If we wait too long…” Yoongi sighs, shaking his head. “Just hurry.”

 

Taehyung nods. “They’re on their way. Jimin was able to convince Hoseok to come with him, but he hasn’t talked to him about everything yet. Maybe that’s for the best… so you can hear the explanation firsthand from him too.”

 

“I’ll listen to them both. I’ll hear them out. But I can’t stand seeing you like this, Tae.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Taehyung ducks his head down. “I’m just scared , hyung. I’ve never heard of this kind of magic. I’m afraid that my friend could be cursed forever, and I’m scared.

 

Yoongi is definitely going to have words with this Woohyuk at some point in the very near future.

 

“There’s nothing for you to fear. What did hyung tell you? After he first found you?”

 

“That he would protect me… that I’d always be strong with you looking after me.”

 

“That’s right.” Taehyung’s taller than him, so he stands up on his tiptoes and tugs the younger boy down to place a gentle kiss on the top of his head. “Hyung is always watching over you.”

 

“Can you play for me, hyung? Like you used to, when I was young?”

 

Yoongi smiles fondly at him, nodding. “Of course. Come along.” He leads Taehyung over to his upright piano (an antique, really. A relic from the french antiquity he’d gotten for a bargain some two hundred years prior), the two of them sitting on the bench.

 

Taehyung leans against his shoulder and watches as Yoongi’s long, elegant fingers stretch across the keys. Yoongi presses down on the foot pedal as he starts to tap out the sweetest melody. A song he’d composed many, many decades ago after he’d caught Taehyung humming it, claiming it was a tune his mother had sung to him as a baby. A lullaby. It soothes the younger boy, and Yoongi lets him drape almost all of his weight over him.

 

He plays for him for around twenty minutes, at which point the doorbell rings from downstairs. Yoongi stops playing, and Taehyung stares up at him with his large eyes for guidance.

 

“It’ll be alright.” Yoongi reassures him, kissing his hair once more. “Go and fetch them and bring them into the drawing room. We’ll need them to both be comfortable. Tonight is going to be… interesting.”

 

“Okay.” Taehyung nods before hugging Yoongi tightly. “Thank you, hyung. I know… I know you’re only considering getting involved because of me. And I love you for that.”

 

Yoongi smiles gently at him. “I know. I’ll see you all in a few moments.”

 

He stands, walking through his estate until he reaches the room in question. It’s a grand room, one where royals used to host tea parties and social engagements, back when the monarchy was still a thing.

 

It’s admittedly a little dusty, but Yoongi’s sure that considering what’s happening at the moment, none of his guests are going to care about such a trivial detail. But there’s multiple large plush couches, and he wants Taehyung’s companions to be comfortable for what he’s sure is to be a hard conversation.

 

Yoongi isn’t sure what he’s expecting when they enter, but Jimin nearly flinging his entire body weight on him isn’t exactly it.

 

“Yoongi hyung!” He says tearfully, wrapping his arms around his shoulders. “Thank you, thank you for letting us come here. I’m fucking losing my mind, I don’t know what to do, my Hobi—”

 

Yoongi delicately sets the younger man back on his feet. “Be calm. There’s things we need to discuss. And you are important to Tae, so you are important to me.”

 

Jimin nods, wiping away a few stubborn tears. “I know I’m asking a lot. I do. But this is an emergency. My friend is in trouble.”

 

“Your friend is perfectly fine.” A soft voice speaks up, and Yoongi’s eyes cut over to take in the stranger.

 

The first thing Yoongi notices are his eyes.

 

They’re beautiful — delicately sloped into the most striking shape — still so bright and full of life.  A true sign that he is a new vampire. The boy is taller than him and lithe and beautiful, freshly dyed red hair adding to his allure. So much so that it catches Yoongi off-guard and he takes a step back from Jimin.

 

He’s lived so many years, so many centuries, but not once has he seen someone that has struck him like this. He’s taken many lovers, seen and fed from many gorgeous people, but just for a second , it’s almost as if his long-dead heart beats again in his chest.

 

“You must be Hoseok.” Yoongi says simply, his composure not slipping even in his stunned state.

 

“I am.” Hoseok eyes trace over Yoongi’s form, taking him in before he smiles. “And I must apologize in advance; I’m afraid most of these theatrics will be for nothing. I’m really just here to humor Jimin. Because he is my friend and if it takes coming here to put his mind at ease, then I will do it.” He steps closer, holding out his hand.

 

Yoongi takes it, but instead of shaking it, he brings it up to his lip, dropping a kiss on top of it. “Welcome to my home.” The younger is visibly a little shaken by the gesture, pulling back his hand with a blush.

 

“Minnie told me you were older but… I guess I wasn’t expecting you to be so traditional.” He giggles, which is a delightful sound, and Yoongi smiles softly.

 

“A little manners can go a long way in this world. Please, take a seat.” He motions to the couch, and Hoseok does so. Jimin has found his way into Taehyung’s lap next to them, still looking absolutely miserable.

 

It’s apparent to Yoongi that he’s going to have to steer this conversation, and he’s never been one for wasting time, so he gets right to it.

 

“So I believe you’re having a bit of trouble with your memory?”

 

Minnie.” Hoseok casts a glare in Jimin’s direction. “Don’t let him get you all worked up over nothing. I don’t have a problem. It’s just this one time! Me and Jimin spent a few hours together this evening, but for some reason I can’t recall the details of it. But I remember the rest of the day just fine, so I think I should be allowed a few little gaps in my memory, every once and awhile.”

 

Yoongi nods, before turning to Jimin. “And this conversation that he forgot was important?”

 

Jimin reaches out to take Hoseok’s hand. “ Yes. It was probably the most important conversation we’ve ever had.”

 

“What was it about?” Hoseok asks innocently, and Jimin looks troubled.

 

“Hoseok… we discovered the truth behind your transition. We found out who was responsible for your attack.”

 

Hoseok’s bright eyes immediately go dim. “How could that be possible? I was asleep… I never saw him.”

 

“That’s not the truth.” Jimin presses. “You told me differently, just a few short hours ago. You told me before that the pain of the bite woke you up during the attack, that you actually saw a glimpse of his face. You saw him again today, when you were leaving your apartment to come see me.”

 

Hoseok frowns. “But I don’t remember hardly any details from that night.”

 

“Hoseok. We talked extensively about it. About Woohyuk. He… he was the one responsible for the entire thing. Minseo was his friend; he asked him to attack you, so he could drain you to the point that being turned was the only option. Woohyuk… he plotted so that he could become your sire. We figured this out together , Hoseok. You were so upset… you were going to leave him for what he did to you. Why can’t you remember? Why?” Jimin starts to cry again, and Taehyung rubs at his back.

 

Hoseok blinks, confused, his eyes filling with tears. “Minnie… how can you even insinuate such a vile thing? Woohyuk would never hurt me… he’d never do that to me! He said he had no other choice…”

 

“Pardon my interruption,” Yoongi says, knowing from the horror-struck look on Jimin’s face that the two likely had this exact conversation earlier. “But there might be a way we can know for sure if what Jimin says is true.”

 

“No, you don’t understand. Jimin has never liked my boyfriend, but to accuse Woohyuk of something as cruel as this?” Hoseok looks hurt. “It’s too much.”

 

“I understand that you’re upset.” Yoongi looks directly at Hoseok. “You’re right; it is a vile, cruel accusation. But if there’s even a one percent chance that he’s telling the truth, wouldn’t you like to be sure? There are gaps in your memory; this is something you admit.”

 

“Gaps in my memory don’t equate to my boyfriend plotting with some stranger I’ve never even heard of to change me into a vampire! It’s too much of a stretch.”

 

“Hoseok.” Jimin cries. “Do you honestly think I would just make something like this up? What would I have to gain by doing that? Look in my eyes, you tell me if I’m lying. Because you came over to my apartment and you were upset. I thought it was because you were feeling ill because you hadn’t fed. I offered you some Scarlet, and you were hesitant to drink it but you did.”

 

“Why would he be hesitant?” Yoongi cuts in.

 

“It’s… it’s probably going to sound strange to you but my boyfriend… he owns Vermilion. I was with him when I was human before I turned so once I did, I just got my blood from him directly. It didn’t seem to make any sense to pay for it when I could get it for free at home. And anyway, each company makes their synth differently, so it just seemed like the better option…” Hoseok starts to trail off when he sees the skeptical looks on the other men’s faces.

 

Yoongi tucks that little piece of information into his head for later. “So you gave him blood, but he didn’t feel better?”

 

“No, it was the opposite! He said it was like a bit of haze was clearing for him. And that’s when he admitted to me that he saw the man that attacked him at his apartment building. He said his name was Song Minseo, so I looked him up online to confirm it, and when Hoseok saw the picture he said it was him. I even found a picture of him and Woohyuk together. That’s how we realized that they were friends and that they were in on it together. We found proof and it’s obvious they planned to turn Hoseok into a vampire and carried it out.”

 

“None of this sounds familiar.” Hoseok says slowly… but even he can see how adamant his friend is. He can tell that Jimin believes he’s telling the truth.

 

“Hoseok wasn’t just heartbroken; he was angry. He felt betrayed and he wanted to confront Woohyuk. I tried to convince him to stay but he told me it was important to him to stand up to Woohyuk. He was even talking about going to the council to press charges against the two of them! He wasn’t unsure about what he wanted to do; he said he was done with Woohyuk, and I believed him.”

 

“Well obviously if Woohyuk had done something so evil, I would want to leave him.” Hoseok admits. “It’s just… you have to realize how fantastical this story sounds.”

 

Jimin shakes his head. “It’s not a story; it’s the truth. I called Tae in a panic, because I was afraid of you going to confront Woohyuk on your own. I decided to go after you, to make sure everything was alright. But then once I showed up, you tell me that you and Woohyuk are going on a trip together and that you’re in love and everything is perfect! It doesn’t make sense!” He finishes with a huff, his chest heaving.

 

Yoongi folds his hands together. “Actually, it does. The answer to this is all very simple.” The three of them look at Yoongi expectantly so he continues on. “I’m afraid you’ve been compelled by your sire.”

 

“Compelled?” Jimin blinks. “But vampires can’t be compelled. It doesn’t work that way.”

 

Yoongi sighs and stands. “I haven’t heard of it in years. Centuries, maybe. I don’t know. But I remember at some point when I was younger… there were whispers of such a dark magic. It takes a powerful, verile vampire to be able to pull it off. And it has to be done to someone fresh after their transition.” He looks at Hoseok with sorry eyes.

 

“Essentially… if a sire makes their fledging drink their blood and only their blood, they can create a sort of… dependence between the two of them. It grows more potent with time and the amount of blood exchanged. It makes the new vampire more susceptible to their manipulation.” He walks back over and sits down on the ottoman in front of Hoseok.

 

“I know you’re very confused. But that is exactly what this sounds like to me. You mentioned that you exclusively drink the Vermilion that Woohyuk provides for you. Does he offer that same batch to anyone else? Or is it just for you?”

 

“I… I…” Hoseok stammers. “I don’t know. I guess I never asked. Maybe that makes me stupid—”

 

“It doesn’t.” Jimin reassures him. “You trusted him. It’s his fault for betraying that, not you.”

 

Yoongi looks over at Jimin. “You say that you gave him blood today, and that’s when you were able to figure out the truth behind his attack? It cannot be a coincidence.”

 

“But if the Scarlet I gave him was the last thing he fed off of, how would Woohyuk be able to compel him?” Jimin asks, and it’s Taehyung that responds.

 

“Because one little dose of clean blood wouldn’t override months and months of Woohyuk’s conditioning. He must have planned this; in the event that Hoseok ever became suspicious of him or got too close to figuring out the truth.”

 

“Wait. Wait. This just… it doesn’t make sense. Woohyuk is my boyfriend. Before the attack, we spoke at length about me transitioning into the vampiric lifestyle. I wanted to be with him… there would have been no reason for him to do this.”

 

“I cannot speak to the man’s intentions.” Yoongi says. “But I have been around for a very long time. Sire bonds are a very sacred thing. It is a blood oath, one that is made only between two people.”

 

Something clinks in Taehyung’s eyes. “This is why you refuse to let me drink your blood!”

 

Yoongi looks at Taehyung with soft eyes and smiles, nodding. “Yes. Because even though I would never compel you, I didn’t want to even be able to have that power over you. Our bond is sacred, and I refused to position myself over you in any way.” He looks at Jimin. “Of course, there have been a few times over the many years of our relationship where I have had to give Taehyung a bit of my blood, but that was merely to heal him. I have never allowed him to drink from me recreationally.”

 

“And this sort of co-dependence doesn’t happen between lovers, right?” Jimin asks and Yoongi shakes his head.

 

“No. You have to realize, most vampires — especially in the older days before the Revelation — got their blood from multiple sources. And now, with the surge of popularity with synth, vampires don’t have to worry about that. You and Taehyung could feed off each other daily, which I’m sure you already do, but there will never be any risk of being compelled. This danger only really exists between a sire and their fledging.”

 

“But for someone like me…” Hoseok speaks up for the first time in a while, his voice just barely above a whisper. “I didn’t just drink from him… he also drank from me. Sometimes multiple times in one day… even when I was human.”

 

“Hoseok!” Jimin’s eyes get wide. “You never told me that…”

 

“Because I knew you would look at me the exact way you are looking at me right now.” Hoseok looks up at Yoongi with teary eyes. “I did this to myself, didn’t I? I made myself into the perfect target.”

 

“It is not your fault. You didn’t know any better.”

 

“But Minnie tried to tell me… he said to be careful and that’s why I made sure to feed predominantly from the Vermilion… but it wasn’t enough. If what you’re saying is true… oh my god.” His head falls into his hands. “Taehyung said it earlier; for over a year, I’ve let this happen. I’ve dug myself into this hole. I will never be able to escape from it. To escape from him .”

 

Yoongi is a private person, he doesn’t often get involved in the drama that goes on within the vampires of the time. And he’s lived enough centuries to know that there will always be drama. But he looks at the beautiful boy, and for some reason it makes his cold heart thaw.

 

He didn’t even speak the possibility to Taehyung earlier, unsure if he was going to interfere in such a direct way. But the longer he stares at the boy, the more the thought solidifies in his mind. He knows doing this will start a chain of events he will not be able to walk back from easily; he knows it will make his life complicated and messy and yet he must, for Hoseok.

 

“I can break it.”

 

“W—what?” Hoseok blinks up at him, brown eyes wet and hopeful.

 

“I can break the compulsion.” Yoongi repeats, ignoring the other couple, focusing solely on Hoseok. “But if I do, you must swear you will never speak of what I have done for you, to another living or undead soul. Ever.

 

“Hyung…” Taehyung says in surprise, looking between the two of them. He knew that his sire was special, powerful , but even he couldn’t imagine something like this.

 

Hoseok continues to stare at him, his eyes like the window to his soul. “Why would you do that for me? This situation… if it turns out to be true, it was one of my own doing. Perhaps I am not worthy of such a mercy.”

 

“The fact that you aren’t selfishly demanding me to give you your salvation shows me that you are.” Yoongi tries to make his eyes a little softer. “I know you are scared. I know I am a stranger, and the thought of me doing something to you, especially after all of this, is probably very frightening. But Jimin and Tae are here, and they will look after you while I break the compulsion. You will be safe, but most importantly, you will be yourself once more.”

 

Hoseok nods shyly. “Will it hurt? Do you… have to bite me?”

 

Yoongi laughs softly, reaching out to gently touch the boy’s face. “No, Hoseok. I will not hurt you. And I would only ever bite you if you asked me for it.”

 

Hoseok sucks in his breath, his eyes still frightened but little sparks of resilience starting to burn in them. “Okay. Okay. I want you to try. If it’s true… if Woohyuk’s really done this to me…” He wipes away a stubborn tear. “I want him out of my head. I want him gone .”

 

“Then let us begin.”

 

Yoongi pulls Hoseok to his knees on the floor in front of him, so that he’s able to look down at him. He brings his hands up to Hoseok’s face, his thumbs pressing against Hoseok’s temples. “Look at me, Hoseok. Don’t fight me; let me in.”

 

Hoseok nods, staring into Yoongi’s eyes, a little gasp of shock going through him when the nearly black orbs turn into a icy silver, almost hypnotic in their beauty.

 

He feels a sort of bond starting to build between them, a bridge between their minds. It’s the strangest sensation, almost like Yoongi is rifling through his memories like pages in a book, searching for the ones that are not like the others.

 

Then he feels Yoongi starting to tug, like he’s tearing those bad pages away, clearing out the clutter that Woohyuk left behind.

 

He has no idea how long it lasts, the two of them in that strange shared space, but eventually he feels Yoongi start to slip away, like a cold breeze blowing through his brain, making goosebumps appear on his skin.

 

Yoongi takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, and when they open once more they are back to the bottomless pools of black.

 

“It is done.”

 

Yoongi leans back and Jimin gasps, his hand flying up to his mouth which is currently gaping at the sight of his friend.

 

There are multiple tears falling from Hoseok’s eyes, leaving stains on his cheeks.

 

But they are red, making his face look garish and unnatural, his eyes swimming with what almost appears to be blood.

 

Hoseok.

 

“It is alright.” Yoongi reassures them all, reaching out to wipe a few red tears away. “It is the dark magic, Woohyuk’s influence, leaving him. His mind is his own now.”

 

Yoongi stands and moves out of the way, and Hoseok looks at his friend with red eyes. “ Minnie.

 

“Oh, Hobi.” Jimin goes to him on the floor, wrapping him up in his arms as Hoseok breaks down. It’s almost even more painful, reliving the betrayal the second time over, as well as the violation of Woohyuk’s compulsion.

 

Taehyung comes closer as well, a comforting hand on the both of them.

 

“He planned it. He did it all. He didn’t even lie to me… he just admitted it. He didn’t care, as long as he got his way.”

 

“But he didn’t. You’re safe now, you’re safe.” Jimin cries along with him, holding him closer.

 

“The Vermilion… it was all his blood. He told me so. He told me I could never leave.”

 

“He’s wrong. He’s wrong. ” Jimin promises, letting Hoseok get it all off of his chest.

 

“I wanted to leave. I did. I tried. He wouldn’t let me… he got physical. I begged him not to compel me, but he didn’t care.” Hoseok cries, his hands bunching in Jimin’s shirt. “I thought he loved me… I was wrong. I was wrong about everything. I’m so sorry.”

 

Yoongi slowly steps away, giving the friends their moment of privacy so they can grieve in peace. He heads back out to his foyer alone, pouring himself a fresh glass of blood to put his rattled mind a bit at ease.

 

He sits in a window bench, staring up at the moon as he considers the situation. It was one thing to know that someone had been mistreated, but to physically experience it… being in Hoseok’s mind meant he was exposed to Woohyuk’s manipulations, and it was a horrible feeling even if he wasn’t enduring it firsthand.

 

“Hyung?”

 

Yoongi looks over his shoulder, seeing Taehyung approach. He pats the spot next to him on the bench. “Come sit.”

 

Taehyung does, leaning against the window, the moonlight illuminating his skin. “Was it bad, hyung?”

 

Yoongi nods, taking a large drink from his glass. “Yes. He is lucky that we got to him when we did. It went deep, much deeper than I was anticipating.”

 

“But he’ll be okay, right? You fixed it?”

 

“I fixed it.” Yoongi confirms, reaching out to take Taehyung’s hand. “You don’t have to check on me. You should be with your friend.”

 

“Jimin’s looking after him. I’m more concerned about you right now.”

 

Yoongi chuckles. “Nothing’s wrong with me, kid.”

 

“You don’t have to pretend with me, hyung. I know using your… gifts, takes a lot out of you. There’s a reason you don’t use them often.”

 

“The reason I don’t use them often is because my influence on situations like these end things. My decision on who I support determines which side will win. That’s a responsibility in itself, Tae.”

 

“I know that. I do. There’s a reason why I tried to keep this situation to myself. I just… I want to make sure you’re okay. Because I know you, and I know that you’re probably already planning something.

 

Yoongi smirks, taking another sip. “Even if I was, you would never be in any danger.”

 

“I know there’s no chance of Woohyuk finding us here. Jimin turned off the location on both of their phones. But I still just… I need to know that you’re at your best. Just in case.” He turns over his hand, exposing his wrist. Yoongi gives him a look but Taehyung doesn’t back down. “Don’t be stubborn, hyung. A little bit from the vein is worth more than a whole pint of synth. I know, because you taught me that.”

 

Yoongi sighs, giving him a wary look. “Wouldn’t Jimin mind?”

 

“Of course not. You just fixed Hobi’s brain and got all the toxic shit out of there that Woohyuk had put in. You’re probably Jimin’s favorite person in the world right now. Besides.” Taehyung smirks and tugs down his collar, revealing a neck and shoulder that are littered with bites. “Wrists aren’t exactly where my baby likes to nibble.”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Gross. But only if you’re sure. If I feed off of you, you’re going to drink a big glass of the good stuff I keep in the fridge and go right to bed. No arguing. Got it?”

 

Taehyung chuckles. “Got it, hyung. You deserve this. It’s a thank you for saving Hobi.”

 

“I didn’t save him. I… I’m glad I could help. No one deserves to be controlled like that against their will.”

 

“Right you are,” Taehyung chuckles and wiggles his wrist. “Now c’mon. You’ll feel right as rain.”

 

Yoongi takes Taehyung’s elegant wrist with both hands and carefully folds up his sleeve so it won’t get dirtied before bringing it to his mouth.

 

He makes quick work of baring his fangs and biting down, just enough to break the skin and get a good faucet for the blood to be drawn out of before he latches his lips over the small lacerations and sucks.

 

Taehyung’s blood is sweet, but in a familial way. It’s comforting . Yoongi lets out a soft breath and closes his eyes, allowing it to restore him.

 

He could probably drink more, he knows Taehyung would never complain, but he doesn’t. He takes just enough to manage, before retracting his fangs. He licks over the wound to help seal it, before he pulls back. Yoongi lifts a hand to cup Taehyung’s face, staring into his eyes.

 

“You okay, kid?”

 

“Yes hyung.” Taehyung murmurs, letting the older boy pull him into an embrace. It’s not at all the same feeling as when Jimin bites him, but it still feels good. He feels warm and relaxed, safe.

 

Yoongi urges him to stand, guiding him up the stairs towards his old bedroom. Of course Taehyung hasn’t lived in the estate with him for decades, but Yoongi always keeps his room neat and tidy for him, just in case.

 

Taehyung is definitely still okay despite the blood loss, but he knows that babying him is something that makes Yoongi feel better, so he allows it. He lets his hyung tuck him into bed, and he takes the warm mug of what he knows will contain real human blood. His hyung always keeps some on hand, for when the occasion calls for it.

 

“Hobi—”

 

“I’ll make up a room for him.” Yoongi promises, smoothing down Taehyung’s hair. “Tonight, all he’ll probably want is some sleep. I’ll let Jimin know where you are. And don’t let him feed off you.”


“Hyung—”


“It’s not up for discussion.” Yoongi ruffles his hair, messing it up all over again with a laugh. “After what just happened with his friend, I doubt he’ll be in the mood regardless. Either way, just be safe and wait til tomorrow. And finish that whole cup before you go to sleep.”

 

Taehyung rolls his eyes but agrees, and Yoongi leaves his room to go get something situated for Hoseok. Technically his estate has an abundance of rooms, but for some reason this choice feels important to Yoongi.

 

For the most part they are decorated somewhat the same, so it isn’t as if there’s a better section, but Yoongi inexplicably wants to keep Hoseok close.

 

So he prepares a room just a few doors down from his own, just in case the young vampire might need him, before he returns to the drawing room on the first level. He finds Jimin and Hoseok much in the same state as he left them, the two boys still clinging onto one another. Their heads snap up when Yoongi walks in the door.

 

“It’s just me,” Yoongi says softly, holding up a peaceful hand. “Jimin-ah, I just put Taehyung-ah to bed. He insisted I feed off of him, so he needs his rest. No feeding off of him tonight, okay?”

 

“Yeah, yeah of course.” He looks to Hoseok, who still seems miserable.

 

“Actually, I’ve prepared a room for your friend. I’m sure you could use some rest as well, Hoseok.”

 

Hoseok looks at the older vampire, his face no longer covered in red tears — Jimin’s crimson tinted hands showing that he had probably spent quite some time wiping them away — but his brown eyes are still tinted pink. He looks beautiful, even in his sadness.

 

“You’re… you’re allowing me to stay here?”

 

Yoongi nods. “Yes. I am.” He crosses the room to pull down his heavy blackout curtains, knowing that daylight will be approaching soon. “You’re safe here. Besides, it’s been a long, emotional night for everyone. I think rest is just the ticket. There’s a warmer on downstairs with some real stuff, if anyone’s interested. It should help you sleep.”

 

Real stuff?” Hoseok blinks. “But how…”

 

“No nefarious means. I keep some in the fridge from various blood banks. It’s for special occasions. But also for when it’s needed. I think you all need a bit tonight to restore your energy and calm your nerves. So help yourselves. I’ve already given Taehyung-ah some and it put him right out.”

 

Jimin giggles a bit softly before leaning in and pecking Hoseok’s forehead. “Hobi, do you mind if I go and check in on my boyfriend? I’m a bit tired too…”

 

“Minnie. Of course . Go and get some rest.” Hoseok gives him a soft, tired smile. “Thank you for everything. A lesser friend would’ve just given up. I feel foolish for being so stubborn.”

 

“Hey. We’re not going down that road again. It isn’t your fault. You’ll make it through this.”

 

Hoseok nods. “I will. I just need you to know you are truly the best friend I’ve ever had.” He looks over at Yoongi. “I’ve asked so much of you already, you already broke me free from the compulsion. I hate to ask you for anything else…”

 

Yoongi shakes his head. “Don’t worry about such things. Is there something you need?”

 

“If Jimin goes to Taehyung, could you help me get something to drink? I’ve never been here before, as you are well aware, and your house is huge.

 

“Please, hyung.” Jimin begs with a pout, and Yoongi waves him off.

 

“It’s no trouble. Go on, Jimin. I’ll make sure your friend feeds, and then I’ll show him to his room. He’ll be in the west wing, just a few doors down from the master. You can find him there tomorrow evening.”

 

“Okay. Thank you.” Jimin hugs Hoseok one more time, and kisses Yoongi on the cheek before he leaves the room.

 

It’s the first time Yoongi has ever been alone with the younger vampire. He looks delicate, sitting on the floor in his slightly oversized clothes, his eyes unsure. Yoongi steps closer, offering his hand.

 

“Shall we go, Hoseok?”

 

Hoseok gives him a polite smile and takes the offered hand, letting Yoongi pull him to his feet. To his surprise, the older vampire doesn’t release his hand, but instead uses it to guide him through the massive house and down into a kitchen area.

 

Only then does Yoongi let go of him in lieu of grabbing a mug out of the cupboard and going over to the warmer, filling it with the fragrant blood.

 

Hoseok’s nostrils flare. He’s never had human blood before. It sets off something instinctual inside of him and he finds himself wandering closer.

 

“Here you are,” Yoongi says gently, handing him the mug.

 

Hoseok takes it with slightly unsteady hands. It smells so good, but he can’t help the flicker of fear that goes through him. The last time someone gave him blood it was Woohyuk, and that was a fucking travesty.

 

“I don’t want to offend you…”

 

Yoongi is in the middle of pouring himself a small mug. He looks up and quirks an eyebrow. “Don’t worry about that. Say what you need to say.”

 

“It’s just… the last person to give me blood was Woohyuk.”

 

“Ah.” Yoongi nods, tapping his lip contemplatively. “So you’re feeling a bit hesitant in accepting blood from another vampire… especially a stranger, like me.”

 

“I know that’s ridiculous. You’re the one who helped me. Without you… god.” He laughs incredulously. “I would still be under that fucker’s spell. Obviously you don’t mean to cause me harm.” He looks away, ashamed. “I hate that he’s done this to me. Made me fearful… suspicious. I’ve never been like that before…”

 

“You have every right to feel suspicious.” Yoongi takes a careful step closer, gently touching Hoseok’s arm. “You went through a severe trauma. On top of the one you’re just getting over… being turned in such a violent way.” Yoongi sighs, looking wistfully past Hoseok. “I was turned a long time ago, but it took me many years to recover from that trauma. I think you’re remarkably strong.”

 

“I don’t feel strong.” Hoseok leans against the counter. “If anything I feel incredibly weak. I just… I can’t believe it took me this long to notice that he was a bad person. And in the end, it’s only because of Jimin’s stubbornness that I even managed to escape.”

 

He sighs. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m unloading all of this on you. It’s not fair… not after everything you’ve done for me.” He taps his fingers against the mug. “I should just drink this and be grateful.”

 

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” Yoongi says softly. “I understand your hesitance. I know you must be feeling a great deal of things right now. But I have no reason to hurt you, Hoseok. I gave the very blood you’re drinking to Taehyung, the most important person to me on this planet, and Jimin, the most important person to him . I don’t take that lightly. I’d never give them bad blood. You don’t have to be wary of it.”

 

“Okay. And I’m grateful, really.” Hoseok closes his eyes, taking a tentative sip. To his surprise it tastes remarkably similar to what he’s used to, but it does make his anxiety feel a little more subdued as he drinks it. “I’m sorry for being rude earlier; I meant to say happy birthday.”

 

Yoongi blinks. “What?”

 

“Jimin told me. Before we got here and… everything happened.” Hoseok smiles sadly. “I’m sorry your birthday got ruined because of me.”

 

Yoongi can’t stop himself from chuckling. “Thank you, but please, don’t worry about it. I indulge Taehyung every year on this date. He enjoys them. Birthdays became pretty meaningless for me around… well, a while ago.”

 

“How old are you?” Hoseok asks, then belatedly realizes his faux paus. Jimin had told him it was a question that vampires didn’t like to answer, that your age could be a weapon in itself. “Oh!” Hoseok covers his mouth with his hand, blushing. “Sorry… I haven’t been a vampire all that long. Sometimes I slip into the more human tendencies when making conversation. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

 

“It’s okay.” Yoongi smiles at him. “Let’s just say that I’ve been around for a very, very long time.”

 

Hoseok nods sheepishly. “Well I’m glad you’re here now. That we had the chance to meet.” He shrugs his shoulders. “Maybe next year I’ll get you a present. As a thank you for how kind you’ve been to me.” He smiles, his lips blood red, contrasting so prettily against his white teeth. Yoongi finds himself staring, despite himself.

 

He clears his throat and nods. “You’re too kind. I certainly am glad we met as well. I don’t meet many people nowadays.” He sips his blood thoughtfully. “I mainly just read books and play the piano. I really am a stereotype.”

 

Hoseok chuckles. “Even if those are stereotypical vampire things, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy them. You should always do what makes you happy!”

 

“And what makes you happy, Hoseok?”

 

“Right now? Honestly?”

 

Yoongi nods. “Honestly.”

 

“The thought of never having to see Woohyuk again.” He shrugs his shoulders. “I’m sure Jimin will be disappointed… I’m sure he wants to bring him up on charges to the council. But I… I don’t want to be in the same room as him ever again, even if the purpose was to bring him down.”

 

He finishes off his mug, the cheeriness from his tone gone now that the memories of Woohyuk’s betrayal have been brought back to the surface. Yoongi finds that he is finding new reasons to hate the man, especially if he makes Hoseok lose that beautiful smile.

 

“Then of course you should never see him again. There are things we can do to ensure that. You aren’t alone in this anymore.”

 

Hoseok nods. “I know the path I’m meant to walk is a difficult one but… but I will find a way.” He sets the cup on the counter, feeling rejuvenated because of the blood but mentally exhausted. “Do you think you could show me to my room?”

 

“Of course.” Yoongi leads him up a few flights of stairs and over to the west wing, opening the door and flicking on the light for him. “I hope you get a good day’s rest, Hoseok-ah. I am just down the hall, through those two double doors, if you need me. Do not hesitate to call on me if you do. I promise, it’s okay.”

 

Hoseok gives him a grateful look and bows a bit. “Thank you Yoongi-ssi… for everything. I don’t know how I could ever repay you.”

 

“By being happy,” Yoongi says earnestly, and Hoseok smiles.

 

When he retreats to his room, he leans against the door and closes his eyes, taking a deep breath. He has no idea why he’s feeling this way… feeling like there’s some sort of a pull . Like Hoseok has some sort of a power over him.

 

But he’s tired, so he decides to retire and ponder on it the next evening.

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

The next day Yoongi wakes up to knocking at his door. His eyebrows furrow; Taehyung has long ago given up on such formalities, just barging in whenever he pleased.

 

“It’s unlocked.” He calls out, shifting up to his hands.

 

A red head pokes through the door. “Oh! I’m sorry; I didn’t realize you’d still be in bed.”

 

Yoongi instantly tries to smooth down his hair to straighten out his appearance. He’s wearing pajamas with little cookie emojis on them — another birthday present from Taehyung that he is very much regretting using at the moment — and he quickly stands to his feet.

 

“Come in, please. It’s no trouble.” Yoongi attempts a smile, leading Hoseok over to a small table in the far corner of the room near the window where a few chairs are set out. “I like to have tea here sometimes. Don’t worry; the curtains block out the sun.”

 

“I should have brought tea then.”

 

“Just your company is enough.” Yoongi hurriedly pulls out Hoseok’s seat, and the younger boy smiles at him.

 

“You really are a gentleman.” He chuckles as he takes his seat. “Thank you for your hospitality, but I’m afraid I can’t stay long.”

 

Yoongi tilts his head. “What do you mean?”

 

“Jimin and Taehyung are… busy in their room.” He says tactfully. “I’m afraid this will be the only chance I have to say what I need to say, before I must leave.”

 

“Leave?” Yoongi frowns, shaking his head. “I don’t think I understand. Where are you going?”

 

“I’m leaving town. For good.”

 

Yoongi stares at him, eyes hardening. “Why?”

 

“Last night… I was such an emotional mess, I didn’t have time to really think things through clearly. But when I woke up today… I realized that I had made some mistakes. Big enough ones that I’m afraid there might not ever be enough words for me to apologize to my friends. So I’m asking you another favor, even though I know I shouldn’t.”

 

Yoongi visibly deflates, sinking down into the chair. “Ask.”

 

“I know I don’t have any right to demand a single thing from you, but I’m going to. Because I love them, and I can’t have them getting hurt because of me.” Hoseok starts to tear up. “Promise me that you’ll keep them safe. That no matter what, you’ll protect Jimin and Taehyung. Please. That’s the only way I’ll be able to go with a somewhat clear conscience.”

 

Yoongi blinks. “You don’t need to ask me for such a thing. I already do protect them. But I am confused. Why do they need my protection?”

 

Hoseok looks mortified, unable to meet Yoongi’s eyes. “Because I put them in danger. Because of my own stupidity, I made them a target. And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, and I’m trying to make it right. So I’m begging you, please.”

 

“Slow down.” Yoongi reaches over and sets his hand on top of Hoseok’s, squeezing it. “Breathe. I need you to tell me why they’re in danger, or else I won’t know how to protect them.”

 

“Please don’t hate me.” Hoseok looks at him, his eyes showing his inner turmoil. “I don’t know why that’s important to me… but it is. I can’t stand the thought of you hating me.”

 

“I… do not think I could ever hate you.” Yoongi says honestly, looking into Hoseok’s eyes. “You have my word.”

 

“Yesterday… in my haste to confront Woohyuk, I wasn’t just stubborn, I was careless. Jimin begged me not to go, but I didn’t listen. I wanted to stand up to him on my own terms, and now I know that it was a horribly stupid decision, but I just… I never realized that I wouldn’t just be hurting myself by going back there. I never thought it would hurt my friends.”

 

It dawns on Yoongi what Hoseok is getting at. “You told him…”

 

“We were fighting… viciously. I told him that I was going to stay at Jimin and Taehyung’s apartment. I told him that Jimin knew what he had done too. And he said it was a problem, but he would find a way to sort it out. At the time… I was so concerned with going off on him I didn’t think about the implications. And ultimately… right after that was when he decided to compel me.”

 

Hoseok pauses. “It’s strange… I remember the compulsion happening. But it’s almost like… I’m looking down at it from above, watching it happen to someone else. I know the words he said, and I know the way I reacted. But there’s this… disconnect.”

 

He shakes his head. “Anyway, that doesn’t matter. The point is right after, he told me we were going on a trip, but he had to ‘settle a few things’ first. I didn’t question it at the time but now… now I’m realizing that he meant Jimin and Taehyung. He knows they know the truth about him and Minseo, and it’s all my fault.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head. “It isn’t your fault. You were upset… you let it slip. But Jimin and Taehyung are perfectly safe here with me. Thank you for telling me. I will take precautions to make sure that they remain that way. You can stay.”

 

“No, you don’t understand. I still have to leave.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head. “Why? Woohyuk will still be after them whether you stay or go.”

 

Hoseok shakes his head. “You don’t get it. Woohyuk is… he’s powerful. Not just because of his business but… I know he’s old. Very old. He’s mentioned in passing that he has connections to the council.” He blinks back tears. “The sad reality is that even if I wanted to try and bring charges against him, he’d probably be able to beat them. The moment he reveals that I let him feed on me as a human… what credibility would I have? He’d claim it was all consensual… it would be my word against his.”

 

The younger boy wipes a few tears away. “But if I’m gone… if there’s no victim, there’s no crime. He’ll leave them alone, because there’s nothing they can do if I am not there to back up their story. So I’ll go.”

 

Yoongi considers him carefully with soft eyes. He sighs gently, running a hand through his hair. “Hoseok-ah. Leaving won’t solve anything.”

 

“It’s not… it’s not just about Jimin and Taehyung…”

 

“Tell me.”

 

“You don’t understand how easy it was for him, Yoongi-ssi. He didn’t have to beat me up. He didn’t have to hold me down. All he had to do was look at me.” He shivers in fear. “I said last night that I never wanted to see him again. But that’s… that’s because I know what will happen if I do. He’ll be able to compel me, and there will be nothing I can do about it. And next time? Next time Jimin won’t be able to get me out. I’ll be his, forever.

 

Yoongi furrows his brow. “Are you worried that he will be able to compel you again because he is your sire? Because you have a bond? Or because you love him?”

 

“I don’t think he’ll compel me again, I know. He told me so. Because I told him to his face, that I could never love him again. I told him that any love between us died the moment he forced me into this life. I told him that the trust between us could never be rebuilt, and he didn’t care. He just said he’d fix it. That he’d make me forget so I could be happy. That compelling me… that it was for my own good.”

 

“And I broke the compulsion. It’s done. He’s out of your head.”

 

“But that doesn’t mean he can’t get in again. He’s my sire, Yoongi-ssi. He admitted that we had been sharing blood exclusively since the beginning. He said… he said our bond was too strong to be severed. That I would be his forever. And it’s true. I hate it, but it’s true.”

 

“It doesn’t have to be true,” Yoongi says before he can stop himself.

 

Hoseok shakes his head. “I can’t… I can’t play pretend anymore, Yoongi-ssi. I have to accept reality. The only way I can be free of Woohyuk is to get out of here, to go somewhere far away where he can’t find me. If I go, I get to keep my freedom and my friends will be safe, with your protection. That’s… that’s as good as it gets for me. And it’s not much… but at least it’s my choice. At least I won’t have to be with him.”

 

“You aren’t listening to me,” Yoongi says softly. “There is another way . Sire bonds… they are powerful, yes. But there are some things that are even more powerful in this world.”

 

“More powerful than Shin Woohyuk?” Hoseok chuckles through his tears. “I’m afraid it is naive to pretend that I could find a way to challenge someone like him. His roots… they go too deep. And the last time I tried to stand up to him?” Hoseok shakes his head. “I don’t want to ever go through that again. I can’t give him the chance to compel me, ever again.”

 

Yoongi stands, walking over toward the window and pulling the blinds up. The sun has disappeared behind the horizon, leaving the shy bright, colorful hues. “It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen the sun, Hoseok-ah. Sometimes I forget what it was even like to feel it on my skin.” He looks over his shoulder at the younger vampire. “I am much older than Shin Woohyuk, and my roots run deeper than his. You do not have to leave, because I have the power to make it so Woohyuk will never have control over you, ever again.”

 

Hoseok blinks, looking confused. “But… but…” He’s at a loss for words. He had heard of Yoongi a few times from Taehyung before he met him, and his friend always gave the impression that his sire was not the type of person to get involved with other people’s business.

 

If Yoongi was insinuating that he was willing to help Hoseok like this, there was no way that Woohyuk wouldn’t retaliate. He saw that look in his sire’s eyes, he truly believed he was acting in Hoseok’s best interests. There was no negotiating with someone that far gone.

 

But why would Yoongi even care?

 

“Why are you doing this?” Hoseok stands up, walking over to join Yoongi at the window. “You already broke the compulsion, invited me into your home…” He shakes his head. “Why would you help me… risk your own safety? Why?”

 

Yoongi’s eyes stay fixed out the window, at the glowing horizon. “I haven’t seen the sun in a very long time, Hoseok-ah. But you… you feel like the sun to me.” His sharp eyes meet the younger boy’s. “I will help you because it is the right thing to do. Because your rights were violated. Because you had your humanity stolen from you. But I will also help you because I miss the sun, and your smile brings it back to me, and I want to help you smile again. I just want to help you.

 

Yoongi sighs. “And I know he probably compared you to the sun as well. Because you are like the sun, Hoseok. But he wanted to possess you. He wanted you for the same reasons people want the sun selfishly . To harness its light and energy, so they can have it all to themselves. I just miss the sun for its warmth… I just miss seeing how it illuminated everything so beautifully. I don’t want anything from you. But I feel a sense of urgency to make sure that no one ever hurts you again. So you can leave, if you want to. You can fly to the other end of the world, but the bond that tethers you to him will still exist, and you will live out the endless years ahead of you feeling it. Feeling him . Or, you can stay, and we can sever your bond together, so you never have to feel him, or fear him, again.”

 

Yoongi’s words strike a chord deep within his heart, and tears fall without him even realizing it. “I want to believe in you… I want to believe that there is a future for me that doesn’t involve Woohyuk in it. I want to be free, Yoongi-ssi. I want to be free.

 

“Then stay. Let me help you. Let me free you. I know you know that he is powerful. I know you feel his power. But I promise you… I can defeat him. I can rid you of your unholy bond.”

 

“But it’s blood magic. Sacred. What could possibly beat that?”

 

“The only thing stronger than his blood is stronger blood. I can give you that.”

 

Hoseok blinks, looking down into Yoongi’s sharp black eyes, the implication behind his words finally sinking in. “You… you mean…”

 

Yoongi nods. “The blood that runs through my veins is ancient and powerful, Hoseok-ah. If you fed from me… it would override the power of his blood within you. It would take time but you would be freed.”

 

Hoseok gapes at him, leaning back against the wall to steady himself. He had never bitten another person besides Woohyuk; he knew it was intimate, and Yoongi was offering it to him so boldly. It was almost overwhelming. “I… I…”

 

“The decision must be yours. I will not force you to take my blood. I will not force you to do anything. I will never be like that vile man. But if you wanted…”

 

Yoongi elongates his fangs, bringing up his finger up to his teeth to prick it. A tiny red bead of blood appears on his fingertip, and he holds out to Hoseok, staring into his warm brown orbs unflinchingly. The younger vampire inches closer, taking Yoongi’s hand in between his own and raising it to his lips.

 

He holds Yoongi’s gaze, those nearly black eyes staring at him as Hoseok opens his mouth, letting his tongue peek out to lick up the blood, Yoongi’s blood.

 

The taste is like nothing Hoseok’s ever experienced. It’s the most delicious thing he’s ever had. He lets out a soft whimper, his pupils dilating. It’s almost as if something is awakened inside of him at that moment, primal and intense , and he wants more .

 

“I’d give it to you whenever you asked it of me, Hoseok-ah. If you wanted.” Yoongi repeats, curling his finger out of Hoseok’s mouth before bringing his hand down.

 

“Take your time. Think about it. Either way I will not stop you.” Yoongi crosses the room, intent on leaving Hoseok alone to ponder his thoughts, when he hears that sweet voice speak up once more.

 

Yoongi-ssi.

 

He looks over his shoulder, seeing the beautiful sight that is Hoseok with excitement and desire in his eyes.

 

“I want it.”