Seungmin didn't realize he had fallen asleep on the couch until he was awoken by an incessant knocking on his apartment door. A replay of an old Sabrina the Teenage Witch episode was on the television screen; he turns it off before slowly getting up to answer the door. The knocking seemed to grow louder and more desperate as he got closer, which he'd be more sympathetic about but fucking hell it's 2 AM don't you have other things to do? Like sleep?
He rubs his eyes as he opens the door, and completely freezes when he sees who's standing on the other side: Han Jisung, his best friend since the second grade. Han Jisung, who single-handedly attempted to fight the entire football team for not leaving him alone after he was practically shunned by the people he once called family (emphasis on the word attempted). Han Jisung, the boy he didn't realize he was missing so much until he stopped replying to his texts roughly seven months ago.
"Jisung?" It comes out more hoarse than usual, "What are you doing here? It's like two in the morning-"
"Min, I don't have time to explain. Just please let me in," he pleaded. He grabbed Seungmin's free hand to show how desperate he was. Pathetic? Yes, but unnecessary? Not by a long shot.
"Hey, hey, hey, what's wrong? Is someone following you?"
"Yes, but- Min please let me in, I'm begging you."
"What's going on?" Seungmin's older brother, Woojin, walks from his room to the doorway. "Jisung? Where have you been?! It's been like months since we last saw you-"
"I know, hyung, that's why you have to let me in-"
"Ji-" Woojin sighs, "look, I love you and all, but it's really too early for me to deal with this right now-"
"Hyung, I know, I wouldn't be bothering you with this if it wasn't important." He turns to look down the hallway to see if anyone's there. "Now please, let me in before someone comes and neither of you see me ever again."
Seungmin and Woojin exchange a look, then gently pull him into the apartment. Once Jisung's inside, Seungmin shuts and locks the door and they all sit on the couches surrounding the television. Seungmin droops his head down in the midst of the awkward silence, slowly becoming conscious enough to realize that Jisung's actually alive and not dead like his mind was telling him; how the reminder of his sudden disappearance only made dealing with his own mind worsen.
Woojin lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding. "Okay, so..."
"Why?" Seungmin asks, lowly and almost quietly enough to go unheard, "Why did you do it?"
Jisung looks at Seungmin and immediately feels guilty. "Min-"
"SEVEN MONTHS," he says, getting up from his seat in the process, "Do you know how much shit you missed in seven months? I got sick again, Jisung. And it's not like I would've been able to talk to you about it because- oh right! YOU WEREN'T ANSWERING YOUR FUCKING PHONE-"
Woojin places a hand on Seungmin's arm. "Min, calm down-"
"Oh don't tell me to calm down, hyung. I think I have every right to feel as angry as I do." He turns back to Jisung, "I thought you were dead, Jisung. That's what made this all even worse than it already was; the thought of my best friend being dead and not having any way of confirming nor denying it!"
"I know, Min, and I'm sorry," Jisung says, "I would've contacted you sooner if I was safe but... truthfully, I don't think I ever can be now."
Woojin looks at him, "What do you mean?"
"Y'know how I said that someone might come for me and you two might've never seen me again? I wasn't joking about that. Something happened on New Year's Eve that I really can't explain but... all I remember is that these authoritative-looking people came knocking on my door one day and they... shot my foster mom before she could even open it.
"I ran to her and tried to stop the bleeding, but she just kept telling me to run and get out of there. And when those guys busted down the doors and started surrounding us I- I didn't know what to do. I felt this energy growing and bubbling up inside of me, and then the next thing I know they’re all passed out on the floor around us. It bought me time to grab some of my things and get outta there but my mom..." Jisung wipes away the tears beginning to spill from his eyes. "I couldn't save her, Min. I wanted to; she was the first one of them that actually made me feel like I fucking mattered and I couldn't save her.” He lets out a heavy sigh.
“Since then I’ve been on the run, and everywhere I stopped a buncha freaky shit would start happening. Like wildfires occurring where they weren’t common, or people dying of hypothermia in the middle of June. I thought it was the universe telling me I was cursed or something-- I don’t know, but I know there’s something going on and I just want answers.”
Seungmin walks over to sit next to Jisung. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“It’s okay, would’ve been hard to since I wasn’t answering my fucking phone.”
They exchange weak smiles, then Seungmin turns to look at his brother across from him. “Wait, Woojin, didn’t something like this happen when-”
“Our great-great-grandfather-” Woojin says in his sudden realization, “Jisung, did any of your foster parents know who your biological ones were?”
Jisung shakes his head. “No, I don’t think so. I tried looking into it myself but I couldn’t get anywhere. It was almost like they didn’t even exist.”
“Hmm, okay. There is one way I know that will determine this for sure. Jisung, could you hand me your arm please?”
Jisung scooches closer and leans over so his inner arm is within Woojin’s reach. He uses one hand to grab it and hold it steady and the other to place two fingers along the vein and applies pressure lightly. “This might hurt for a little bit, but you’ll be fine,” Woojin says.
Jisung nods, maybe a little too quickly to pass off as calm, and glances over at Seungmin. Woojin begins chanting lowly; the words are of a language Jisung can’t understand, causing him to panic a little. He suddenly feels a slight pain on his palm, scrunching his face and screwing his eyes shut as a means to hold out on pulling his hand away. He doesn’t know how much longer he can tolerate it, though, because it’s getting really painful, and he doesn’t even know what Woojin is doing to him for it to hurt so badly-
Then the chanting and the pain stop; Jisung opens his eyes to see Woojin and Seungmin hovering over his arm, which seems to have marks on it mimicking that of a really vague-looking family tree. All of the dots are black except for one at the very end-- that one is white and glowing. Seungmin reaches out and touches the spot with his index finger, making Jisung jump away from sensitivity. When he looks again, the dots are gone.
Woojin looks at Seungmin, who seems to mutually understand what he’s trying to convey mentally, because he says, “Well, I think that answers why you’ve had chaos and bad luck wherever you went.”
“H-how so?” Jisung asks, still looking at them with wide eyes because what the hell just happened?
Woojin’s face contorts into a confused expression. “Seungmin, does he not know?”
“Know what? I’m right here, guys.”
“I never thought we’d need to tell him!” Seungmin whisper-shouts.
“Min-” Woojin stops himself mid-sentence, “Okay, that’s fine. Um, Jisung! You’ve heard of Sabrina the Teenage Witch right?”
“Yeah… what’s this got to do with that?”
“Well… y’know witches and stuff like that? Yeah, that’s all real. Something similar to this happened when our great-great-grandfather found out he was the first witch in our family. Seungmin and I are witches too and are- were part of a coven a few years ago.”
“Wait seriously? You guys have familiars too or something?”
“We do actually,” Seungmin says, “Some witches pick theirs, others wait until one pick them. Either way there’s a special bond between you and the familiar that can’t be compared to any other animal companion you’ve had.”
“Huh... but I've never seen either of your guys’ familiars when I would come over.”
“That's because I keep them at this place called Akiya’s School for the Gifted and Talented.” Woojin says, “It's in the northernmost part of Sinra.”
“I’ve heard of that school, but I thought that's where all of the GTE students went to after high school?”
“It used to be, but with the way history's played out and the ever growing number of anti-witch groups in the country, they've remodeled it to benefit and protect the witch population more.”
“Along with some others,” Seungmin adds in.
“Others?” Jisung asks, “Like who?”
Just then a loud noise goes off, followed by a bunch of people yelling. Woojin motions for the other two boys to be quiet as he sneaks over to the window. He opens the curtain a little and sees a bunch of men in suits talking to the other tenants of the apartment building outside.
“Shit uh... I’ll be right back, don't do anything that can make those guys in suits come up here.” Woojin walks across the room and exits the apartment, leaving Seungmin and Jisung alone.
Jisung's the first to break the silence. "So... how'd the rest of your gap year go?"
"Mm... It was alright, y'know minus the whole being-sick-for-four-months thing and not-having-your-best-friend-around thing, too."
"I see," Jisung says in a slightly mocking tone, giggling quietly. He rests his head on Seungmin's shoulder. "But now that I'm back, what do you think's in store for us?"
"Well... knowing my brother, he's probably gonna enroll you into Akiya; you're gonna need the protection now."
"You're gonna be going too, right?"
Seungmin can practically hear the nervousness in the other's voice. "Of course, dude! I was supposed to enroll last year, actually, but... things started happening and I just didn't think I was ready, y'know?"
"No, yeah, I get that completely." They sit in silence for a bit. "Honestly? Having to constantly look over my shoulder wore me out, not to mention make my neck sore as hell- hey! Don't hit me for that, I was being serious! Anyway... I'm just glad I won't have to worry as much as I did these past few months. Kinda missed having some boring, normal life for a bit."
Seungmin can't help but smile sadly at that; knowing Jisung for over twelve years now, he knew he was the more adventurous type between the two of them. He loved movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Indiana Jones-- even National Treasure for crying out loud-- and would always make him play pirates with him in their primary school days. It almost broke his heart that Jisung's adventurous spirit was damaged, if not lost, because of what happened.
At that moment Woojin opens the door, closing and locking it almost as quickly. "I don't know what happened, but by the time I got down there all the guys in suits were gone. One of our neighbors said someone compelled them to vacate the area and find a new area of work."
Jisung and Seungmin glance at each other. "So that's it? They're just gone?"
"I guess so, Min. Okay, tomorrow we're driving over to Akiya to get you and Jisung enrolled there. Try to be up by nine?"
They both nod their heads. Woojin sighs, "This is the weirdest shit I've experienced, and I've dealt with a lot of weird shit. You can sleep on the couch if you want, Ji. Goodnight."
Seungmin and Jisung watch as Woojin goes back into his room and shuts the door behind him.
"Okay so," Seungmin says as he stands up, "couch or my room?"
Jisung quietly hums, thinking for a while before he answers, "Your room, if you're okay with that."
Seungmin smiles and nods. "Of course."
They're about to fall asleep-- Seungmin in his bed and Jisung on the floor-- when the latter asks, "Who do you think that guy was?"
"The one Woojin-hyung said compelled those guys to leave." He sits up. "Like, there were at least ten of them out there, right? How does anyone get all of them to do that?"
"I don't know, Ji. But let's go to sleep, we got a big day ahead of us."
Jisung sighs and lays back down, "Yeah, we do."