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Precious Mettle

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Hoseok was the only one present to back Jin up when the wards finally fell. It had been weeks . Weeks of their furious eldest pounding relentlessly on the magic keeping him out of this tiny farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. It looked like nothing from the outside. A little dilapidated, but still structurally sound and obviously inhabited by some backwater farmer who had never managed to get with the times. 

It wasn’t all that surprising, really. Lots of vampires never managed to move beyond the mindset and technologies available to them when they were turned. Many of them hid out in farms or tiny towns that hadn’t actually been modified since the time of their rebirth and just existed as an unchanging fixture, a stagnant boulder in the stream of society. 

They weren’t here for that vamp. Couldn’t care less about him.

What they did care about, was what he was hiding. 

It was terrifying that someone had worked a magic strong enough to halt Jin in his tracks. No one had ever managed it before, and Hoseok honestly hadn’t thought it was possible. Seokjin was old . Older than perhaps anyone or anything else, at least on this continent. No one should be able to hold out against the sheer might he’d acquired over his life, let alone his endless pool of knowledge and the other immortals he could call to his aide with the snap of his fingers. 

As it turned out, the only being capable of keeping out Jin was Jin. This third strand vamp with little power of his own and a weak grasp on anything involving magic had gotten hold of some of Jin’s blood. Mediocre as his own magic was, he had enough to activate the surplus of power remaining untapped in Jin’s blood and he had used that to erect wards the likes of which could only be seen on their own home. 

This created several problems, the most important of which was that Jin couldn’t call for help from other creatures. Anyone who helped break these wards would know how to get into their house as well. Jin wouldn’t risk that knowledge spreading for anything, not even the treasure locked up inside the farm house. It would endanger that same prize in the long run just as it would everyone else under Jin’s protection. 

Jin had to go the long way around and break the wards himself.

Fighting against his own magic shouldn’t be possible, and had only been even vaguely feasible because of the rest of their nest. They freely lent support and what little knowledge Jin didn’t already possess, fighting alongside Jin to tear into the blood wards around the building.

Hoseok still wasn’t entirely clear on how anyone had gotten ahold of Jin’s genetic material to begin with. Jin was very tight-lipped on the matter and even Yoongi, who’d been with him the longest, only gave indistinct little hints about the matter.

The gist of it was that Jin had once been kidnapped in his much younger years by a witch who had done… things otherwise unspecified. Hoseok got the idea that experimentation had happened. Jin had come out of the experience changed, stronger in many ways, but also traumatized. More wary and less vivacious. Yoongi seemed to have had a difficult time helping him through the aftermath. Neither of them would give the full story. 

The result was that the witch had died (likely bloody and screaming if Yoongi had anything to say about it) and Jin had thought he’d tracked down every piece of himself that she’d taken. 

It turns out he was wrong. 

Despite the peace of the intervening centuries, the event had eventually come back to haunt them when Jin had suddenly sat bolt upright in his seat at dinner one night. The oldest gazed blankly into the distance before vanishing almost immediately. It had already been too late. The wards were up and Jin’s treasure was out of his reach. 

Hoseok still wasn’t even entirely certain what they were going to find in the house. Jin hadn’t been very forthcoming about what had become so very dear and vital to him so quickly. Hoseok had an idea, however. The maknaes might not be able to recognize the importance of Jin’s whiplash quick reaction, but all of the older members had an unacknowledged suspicion. There were very few things that could call through all magics to reach Jin behind the wards on their own house, after all. Jin’s treasure, as they’d taken to calling the mystery siren Jin was chasing, could only be a few things. 

Because they knew the likely composition of that treasure, the hyungs had been fighting viciously alongside Jin in the last few days to tear their way into the farmhouse. The maknaes were lazily curious and a little insulted that they’d been pushed aside so much the last few weeks. The hyungs understood the importance of what they were striving towards. They could make it up to their darlings later. Right now they had something entirely new to worry over. 

Jin had barely rested during their entire struggle. He didn’t usually need to, but he’d been draining his energy at an alarming rate in trying to break the wards. It was the first time Hoseok had seen him have to use actual effort to do anything. Jin was a force of nature when something stood in his way, and those things rarely held up for long. This was the first time Hoseok had seen anything put up a true resistance to the eldest. 

Their combined power had started to drain the wards nearly a week ago. Tiny fissures began to spread, growing into large fault lines, and today, finally , they shattered. 

Hoseok nearly fell over as the magic he’d been mentally throwing all his weight into vanished into nothing with nearly no warning. Jin was gone from beside him before he could even right himself. 

Usually, Jin would never leave him when he was floundering. Usually, Hoseok may have felt slightly neglected. Today was not a usual day. 

We’re in .” He pushed the words down the bond, loud to wake up Namjoon and Yoongi who had been sent home to sleep after exhausting themselves. Jimin and Tae jumped and muttered softly in the background about volume control. 

Hoseok ignored them and proceeded immediately into the house. The door was ripped off of its hinges, fallen victim to Jin’s reckless rush. The front hall was a mess, broken furniture and torn wallpaper littering the floor, broken glass everywhere he looked. Jin was a whirlwind that Hoseok heard crashing about upstairs. 

We’re coming ,” Yoongi answered almost at once, tense excitement in his tone. 

No need ,” Jin countered, coming back down the stairs even as Hoseok began to pick his way through the disaster of the front hall. 

Hoseok had never been scared of Jin before, but he came very close as he watched the elder descend the narrow stairs, a calm smile on his face and a body thumping down every step at his heels. Jin dragged it carelessly by a single wrist, throwing it to the side as though it weighed nothing more than a feather as he reached the bottom of the stairs. The eldest dug in the corpse’s pockets, nose wrinkling in disgust as crumbs of some long smashed food stuck to his bloody palms. Hoseok averted his eyes. He’d seen a lot of terrible things in his life. Done a lot of terrible things. The body was gruesome. 

 “ We’ll be home by the time you leave ,” Jin added as he stood with a key in his hand. 

It wasn’t precisely true. Yoongi and Namjoon could be here in a blink and Jin knew it. He just wanted to retrieve his treasure without so many people to crowd around. If the prize was what Hoseok thought it was, it was a smart decision. They didn’t need so many people around to confuse things even more. 

But hyung !” Taehyung whined down their bond, voice still quieter than anyone else’s because he was so young and had barely learned to use the link. “ I want to see your treasure !”

You will, little love ,” Jin assured him, smoothing his hand down the front of his clothes and banishing the blood he’d wrung from the corpse. Hoseok wavered between aroused at Jin’s power and horrified by the absolute disfigurement he’d inflicted on the dead vampire as he watched every last drop of red disappear simultaneously from Jin’s person. “ I’m bringing it home to you. Something new for you to play with .”

Hoseok got the feeling it wouldn’t be the kind of playing Tae had in mind, but he was sure that was true. Jin did not let go easily. This new treasure would be part of their lives from now on. They would all have to learn to live with and hopefully love it. 

A sense of pouty but pleased acceptance filtered through to them. Tae was still so young. Feelings were easier for him to push through their bond, and he was very good about using it to let his hyungs know when they’d upset him. The maknae would likely be using it a lot in the near future. Tae was somewhat spoiled, and this had the potential to take his hyungs’ attention from him. Their nestling wouldn’t like it at all. 

Jin sent adoring fondness back towards their baby, but gave no other answer. His shoulders were tense as he stuck the key in the lock of the basement door. Hoseok wondered briefly why he didn’t just blow it in like he had to the front door, but quickly scoffed at himself. Jin would never risk harming his treasure. They had no idea how things were situated in the basement and breaking down the door might inadvertently cause damage. 

Instead, Jin took a second to ground himself, then turned the handle and quietly walked down the stairs. Hoseok followed only a few steps behind, leaving a small distance for Jin to be able to deal with any threats he met before they hit Hoseok. It was one of Jin’s most important rules when they were in a dangerous situation. The oldest would tear apart anything that threatened his nest, but he couldn’t do that if one of them was in the way. They were to stay behind him when there was trouble afoot. 

Floorboards creaked beneath them while Hoseok’s eyes adjusted instantly to the much darker room. A few slivers of moonlight provided the only light in the entire basement, barely streaking in through the bars across the dirty window set high in the wall. Hoseok didn’t need the light, but it was still helpful as he took in his surroundings. 

A crude toilet and rusted out sink sat at the foot of the stairs, both covered in grime and putrid to smell even from here. The steady drip…drip…drip of the faucet was already irritating in the otherwise completely silent room. 

Or, Hoseok realized, not quite completely silent. A tiny rustle from the other end of the basement drew his attention just as he took his foot off the last step. His head snapped around, claws already lengthening in anticipation of a threat. What he saw instead forced a gasp from his chest. 

There was a boy barely visible in the gloom even to Hoseok’s sharp eyes. He huddled in the corner, knees drawn up to his chest as he clutched the thin rags he wore tighter around his body. His skin was nearly translucent, drawn paper thin over starkly protruding bones. Dark eyes peeked out from a face that was beautiful even through the sharpening effects of starvation. 

Hoseok met that terrified gaze and he knew. All his suspicions were confirmed instantly.

This was Jin’s treasure.

Chapter Text

...Ok, so y'all who know me from Flick know how this goes. We already got world building in the house 😅 For my new readers, these are notes at the beginning of the chapter about how the au works. You can skip them if you like, but you will understand this work better if you read these notes first.

World building 1: Society has always been made up of magical creatures interspersed with humans.

Creatures generally have at least two, possibly three different forms depending on their magic. One form will look completely human, a second is a hybrid of human and creature characteristics, and the final is the full creature form. For example, a werewolf will have one human looking form, one humanoid form with claws and fangs, and one fully wolf form. Most creatures can switch through these forms at will with no issue. This takes a small amount of magical strength and people can get stuck in a certain form if they drain their magic too badly. 

There are two main types of creatures: immortal and mortal. 

Mortal creatures generally have a fertility rate comparable to humans, and will live out their lives at about the same rate as humans. A mortal creature with a deep enough connection to magic, or a magical bond to an immortal will live as long as an immortal. Even humans can achieve this kind of limited immortality by becoming very strong witches or wizards. It requires an extremely deep bond with your magic, however, and is thus impossible for most mortals. 

Most immortal creatures are born, not made. Vampire blood and werewolf venom are two of only a handful of substances that can turn a human into an immortal. These creatures are not undying, and can be killed, but will not die of old age. Immortal fertility rates tend to be extremely low, and not every child will inherit their parent's creature blood. 

Children are either born with creature blood or not. This is an all or nothing situation. Children will not inherit only part of their parent's creature. The exceptions are what ancients referred to as demi-gods, those born from the pure magic individuals who first inhabited the earth and long ago withdrew to their own pleasures. Children of the original "gods" may inherit only part of their parent's magic, but they are the exception. 

Since inheritance is all or nothing, hybrids technically don't exist. A child born from two different creatures will inherit one or the other creature blood or neither, but not both. For example, if a dragon and a mermaid have children, the babies will be either a dragon, a mermaid, or neither. They will not be a combination. 

Magical blood is fickle and will not take in every child. Even children from long lines of creature blood will sometimes be born purely human. They do still carry this dna in a latent form however, and it can express in later generations. The human offspring of a fairy could have a fairy child. 

This has been your introduction to magical creatures and inheritance. Please don't hesitate to message me with questions if you have them as I will continue to build this world as we go. 

Now for the actual story 😁 

 

 

A gasp wracked the boy’s entire frame as his eyes met Hoseok’s. He looked away immediately, tucking his face into his knees and curling his shaking limbs tighter into a tiny little ball. Hoseok was half afraid he’d just fall to pieces with the force of his own trembling, fragile limbs unable to support the strain they were put under. 

Hoseok should've seen a ball of filth with matted hair and torn clothing. Instead he saw a terrified baby. 

Jin cooed softly, drawing both of their attention. The oldest knelt carefully on the floor a few feet away from the boy and smiled gently at him. Huge eyes quickly peeked out at him, then immediately slid away in a sign of deference. 

“Lord,” the boy choked in greeting, digging his fingers into his legs like that would steady him somehow. 

“Oh no, no, no, little one,” Jin denied in a horrified tone. “That won’t do at all. My name is Kim Seokjin, and this is my nestmate Kim Hoseok. You’ll call us Hyung, Treasure.”

That dark gaze darted over Hoseok once more, but quickly fixed on the floor again instead. Hoseok sat down carefully next to Jin, trying to make himself as nonthreatening as possible. He knew that their presence alone was enough to overwhelm many people. The Kim coven oozed power from every pore of their being. No one was immune to the instinctual reaction that inspired. 

“What’s your name, Treasure?” Jin asked carefully. 

“Whatever my master desires,” the boy answered monotonously. The disgusted twist of his lips and the glint of rebellion in his eye were the only hints that the perfectly smooth sentence hadn’t quite engraved itself in his heart yet. 

Jin choked and Hoseok's lip curled in disgust.  

“I think not,” Jin said firmly. “Your name, precious, or else I will introduce you to everyone we meet as my treasure until you become comfortable enough to share.”

The boy actually uncurled a little in shocked curiosity and their attention was immediately diverted to the collar around his neck. 

A wounded noise left Jin, and he was hovering over the boy before Hoseok even saw him move. The little once flinched, a panicked whine rising in his throat only to be cut off instantly as he cowered in expectation of a punishment. 

Jin reached out with suddenly gloved hands and grabbed either side of the collar. The iron screeched as Jin's fingers bent it before snapping entirely. 

“Oh, my poor little one,” Jin murmured, hurling the halves of the collar to the other end of the basement. “What has he done to you, my treasure?”

The boy lifted his hand dazedly to touch the ring of oozing blisters around his neck. A completely bewildered expression took over his features, followed swiftly by incredulity and a tiny bit of hope or fire. His eyes darted around the room, once more taking in everyone’s positions and how he could use the layout to his advantage.

“I wouldn’t try, little one,” Hoseok advised.

He couldn’t blame the boy at all for thinking immediately of escape once he was physically freed. Hoseok would be doing the exact same thing, after all, eager to get home to his worried family and leave whatever horrors he’d faced behind him. But Jungkook was weak and needed extremely specialized care. He wouldn’t make it far in the condition he was currently in. 

Besides, Jin had a duty and obligation to him now after everything that had happened. They were legally and magically bound to this boy now, even if the little one didn’t want them to be. 

The matter-of-fact way that Hoseok had so clearly revealed that he knew the boy was thinking about fleeing made the baby hesitate. A swift glance in Jin’s direction made his already protective posture slump with defeat. If Jin gave chase, the little one would get nowhere, and the boy was smart enough to know that already. 

“Jungkook,” he murmured after several tense moments. “My name is Jungkook.”

“Jungkook,” Jin repeated with a firm nod. “Are you hungry, darling?”

Jungkook’s head snapped around immediately from where it had been tilted down towards the ground. His eyes flashed a pure, glowing silver that startled Hoseok greatly. 

Newly turned nestlings never had eyes that color. Hoseok had seen a variety of shades in baby vamps, but all along the contingency of red to amber. It was supposed to be a measure of power. The lighter the eye color, the stronger the vampire. Jin’s eyes were silver. Newly turned babies were never strong enough to flash anything more than a lurid yellow. 

But then again, the nestling hadn’t lunged straight at Hoseok the moment he was free, and that was also unexpected. No matter the amount of power Jungkook could feel from him, the little one shouldn’t’ve been able to resist the lure of blood. He’d been starved for who knew how long, and he should’ve immediately attached himself to the nearest feeding source. 

Jin, as another vampire, would rank below Hoseok in terms of desirable food, and above him in terms of power. It would make more sense for the baby to go for Hoseok the second he was free. 

Hoseok had expected it and mentally prepared himself to be torn into by a nearly feral little one. It wouldn’t be the first time one of the maknaes had been less than careful with him. Tae and Jimin were largely harmless, but they could have their moments every now and then, especially when they lost control. Hoseok was old and strong, and it would take more than a desperate baby to faze him. 

He couldn’t say he was sorry not to have the nestlings baby fangs fastened in his throat, but he didn’t understand it either. Jungkook’s control was… impossible for someone turned only less than a month ago, and the silver sheen in his eyes only confirmed that this was not going to be their typical nestling. 

Jin didn’t let it faze him. He slit his forearm open on his own adult fang and held it out delicately to their new maknae. Jungkook bit his lip hard for a few seconds, visibly fighting with himself. Jin’s brow furrowed and Hoseok outright frowned. It was odd enough that Jungkook didn’t spring at one of them immediately, but for him to resist the lure of fresh blood in the air? Impossible.

But it was only a few tense seconds before the baby lunged for Jin’s wrist. His little fangs were too small to break Jin’s skin, but they scraped against the elder’s skin as he sucked desperately at the blood Jin was freely providing. 

“There we go, my jewel,” Jin cooed. “Take as much as you need, baby. My little one must be starving.”

He sank down on the ground, manipulating the fixated nestling to sit in his lap. Jungkook clenched both weak hands around Jin’s arm and held on with whatever remnants of his strength he could drag up, but otherwise let himself be moved like a little doll while he drank. 

Jin wrapped his free arm around Jungkook’s waist, and Hoseok crouched close to them to run gentle hands through the little one’s hair. The baby peeked out shyly at him over Jin’s arm, eyes still that shocking silver. Hoseok smiled softly at him and caressed his face. 

A tiny pink flush bloomed in the little one’s cheeks now that he had enough blood in him to blush. He was beautiful, even in the nearly devastated state he was in right now. Hoseok could see why the unfortunate corpse upstairs had chosen him. 

An air of innocence lingered around him that Hoseok wasn’t used to seeing in turned immortals. Born immortals tended to be extremely sheltered compared to their human counterparts. Taehyung and Jimin had both been cosseted and spoiled since birth; kept far, far away from anything that might taint their carefree innocence. 

But humanity was suffering. Turned immortals nearly always carried a sort of world-weariness around with them even in their infancy. They often saw the worst in their world and could be extremely bitter that they had been ripped away from their mortal lives.

This boy showed none of the signs of resentment. He was taller than Hoseok with eyes that hinted at the great power he might hold, but the little one’s posture was open and his defenses relaxed. There was a deep, naive trust in his gaze.

It shouldn’t completely shock Hoseok. Jin’s blood was interlaced with his magic which sang between the two of them in a way that should immediately put the little one at ease. He was part of Jin now, after all. The magic that linked them would not let him distrust them. Especially now that he’d fed. 

The lack of artifice or fear in the baby was still a little strange for Hoseok, though. He was used to people looking at him like he was something to be scared of, but also as a means to an end. People wanted Jin. They thought they could get to him through Hoseok and tended to forget how powerful Hoseok was in his own right. 

The little one already had Jin, and didn’t even know what most people would’ve given to be in his situation. To him, Jin was just a stranger who had torn away his collar and offered him food. Hoseok was just the person who’d accompanied Jin.

There was no awe, no fear, no glint in his eye of a recognized opportunity. Just a ravenous sort of desire (for blood, for freedom, for love) and a hint of gratefulness. 

Even in that odd silver gaze, it was refreshing to see. 

Hoseok settled himself on the floor in front of Jin, expecting to be there for a while. The little one would probably take everything Jin had to give and maybe need more after he’d been starved so long. Hoseok was entirely prepared to give the little one the world. A little bit of his blood wouldn’t be an issue. 

Instead, the baby took only a few long draughts from Jin, then pushed the older vampire’s arm away. It was a visible effort, and the little one was shaking again with the strain, but he pulled himself away from Jin’s blood and licked his lips clean. 

“Come on, baby,” Jin encouraged, pressing his arm back towards the little one’s mouth and ignoring the maknae’s weak attempt to push him away again. “I know you’re not full. Hyung has more than enough, darling.”

The baby just whined a little and turned his head away. 

Jin tried to follow him again, still holding out his bleeding arm, but Jungkook turned his head away every time, staunchly refusing to be fed more. 

Deeply concerned, Hoseok used his own fang to slit his wrist as well, and held that out in offering to the fussy nestling. Both of them relaxed a little when Jungkook took it eagerly and sucked deeply. 

Jin gave a bemused hum, but licked over the cut on his wrist to close it, and held the little one close rather than causing a fuss. 

With the first feeding, no matter how small it was, Jin had cemented his role in Jungkook’s life. He had accepted responsibility for the fledgling now under his care and Jungkook had shown his own kind of approval by taking Jin’s blood. The bond between them had been whetted and would now only grow. 

The boy’s behavior was a little strange and definitely a cause for concern, but not an immediate issue since he happily took blood from Hoseok. 

But again, the little one tore himself away after only a few sips. Jungkook bit his lip and looked to be almost in pain with the effort, but once he let go of Hoseok’s wrist, he wouldn’t take it back. 

Hoseok and Jin shared a concerned look over the nestling’s head. Jungkook hadn’t fed enough for a healthy fledgling, let alone the starved state he was in right now. His refusal of food he very obviously needed was worrying, not least because a baby only a month from his turning shouldn’t have the self-restraint to be able to stop himself. 

But that was a matter to worry about another time. For right now, the best thing would be to get their new maknae home. Jungkook might take a few mouthfuls of blood from the rest of them, and that should be enough to at least sate him if all six of them let him feed. And Hoseok really wanted Yoongi to take a look at his poor blistered neck as well. 

Now that the nestling had eaten a little, he was also drooping, exhausted by the excitement and the sudden rush of being free. 

“We’re going to go home now, little one,” Jin said, shifting his hold on the now sleepy baby. 

Jungkook offered a few token protests as Jin stood and settled the little one on his hip, but nothing serious. He knew Jin was more than strong enough to carry him, and was probably also conscious of the state of his own body. Hoseok didn’t even know if the poor baby could walk in this state. 

Jin’s stride was purposeful on the way up the stairs and out of the basement. He didn’t even hesitate in passing the destroyed house. 

Jungkook’s wide doe eyes wandered over all of it in a daze, but landed heavily on the mutilated corpse of the vampire who’d turned him. 

“My sire,” he murmured, leaning back towards the body in stunned concern. 

“No,” Jin snapped, taking the most severe tone he had yet with the little one. “You’re not his. He’s a disgusting thief who put his filthy hands where they don’t belong. You’re mine.”

Jin didn’t even slow his stride, but the baby’s eyes stayed fixed on the body for a few more seconds. 

“Yours,” he repeated, a shocked sort of awe in his tone. His eyes suddenly hardened a little, and he finally looked away from the body. “I’m yours,” he repeated more firmly. 

They walked out of the tiny little farm house in the middle of absolutely nowhere, leaving the place where Jungkook had suffered behind for the last time. Hoseok couldn’t help but feel the words ring true. Through his bond with Jin. Through his magic. Through his mind. Yes. Jungkook was theirs. 

The entire house collapsed behind them. Hoseok dropped a single tongue of flame from his fingers. There would be nothing left in the morning. 

Chapter Text

World building on magic part 1: Every living being has magic. It is the essence that makes up the living spirit of an individual. However, people have different amounts of magic. Creatures tend to have more magic than humans. A human with very strong magic is known as a witch, and witches can become immortal if their connection with their magic is strong enough. 

That’s the sticking point though: the ability to connect. While every person has magic, few can feel it, and even fewer can actually harness it. This is teachable, but only to a certain extent. Some people are just incapable of feeling their magic at all, let alone controlling it. 

Creatures have a foothold because magic is what allows them to switch between forms. Most creatures have at least that much control of their magic which means they can feel it to a small degree and can therefore access and use it. Humans generally cannot. 

Given the ability to harness it, every individual has the ability to do almost anything with magic. From warding to healing to offensive magic, every avenue is open to them if they can access their magic. Some species do have an affinity for one type of magic (or just magic in general) over others. For example, a mermaid will be more easily able to manipulate water while a demon will have better control of fire. Theoretically, it’s possible to learn any type of magic with enough study, but in practice it’s impossible for many individuals to excel in diverse types of magic. It takes a lot of study and an extremely deep connection to their magic. The better a person connects to their magic, the more possibilities are open to them. 

The amount of magic and the ability to access it both grow over time. Most old immortals have at least a fair control of their magic regardless of their original abilities. Old immortals who were already talented in magic can do almost anything with it. 

 

PLEASE READ THIS IS IT IS IMPORTANT AND YOU WILL LIKELY BE CONFUSED IT YOU DO NOT: Bonghwang: the korean name for the Asian mythological Fenghuang bird. These are creatures associated with luck, prosperity, and virtue. Find the wiki page here. This bird is the Asian “version” of a phoenix. I am mixing mythologies and inventing as I go, especially since it’s very hard to find credible lore in English for this creature, but this was the starting place. 

In particular, I am adding a healing element to the bonghwang for this story. 



The first impression Yoongi got of Jin’s treasure was small . Not in the physical sense; he could see that before this period of horrible starvation, the baby had been tall and well built. 

But the boy arrived all wrapped up in Jin’s embrace, and his grime-smeared, famine-thin frame looked so very small next to Jin’s healthy body. 

And it was more than just that. It was the way the little one carried himself. Timorous and curled in as though to protect himself. He didn’t project the air of excitement and largeness that Yoongi now associated with youth thanks to Jimin and Tae. This boy was quiet, and vulnerable, and so very soft. 

Yoongi wanted to wrap the baby up in his wings and hide him from the world. 

He wasn’t surprised to see that Jin’s treasure was a person. Yoongi and Jin had been together for an extremely long time. So long that the strands of their individual magic had long ago entwined themselves in a way that anchored the cores of their very beings together.

Which meant Yoongi had felt the moment a new life entered a place that had been sacred to him and Jin until this point. It had been a very weak link, barely a flicker of a spark. Until Jin strengthened the bond between them by feeding his childe, it was just the suggestion of a possible new link. 

It was still enough for Yoongi to know that Jin wasn’t just chasing after some stray object.

Jin’s hands were exceedingly gentle as he turned the little one towards Yoongi. Yoongi had felt how Jin’s attachment to the baby had grown as he fought for access to his treasure. The sense of desperation and despair that Jin so carefully concealed from the rest lurked in the back of his mind. 

This incident had too many echoes. Rang too much of Jin’s own screams as he was pinned down with iron in the dungeons of a fortress too great for Yoongi to breach on his own. 

Jin had been starved then too. 

“This is Yoongi-hyung,” the oldest said, hands on the baby’s hips to walk the little one over to Yoongi. “My babydoll will get you feeling a bit better, treasure.”

Yoongi rolled his eyes at the pet name he’d so protested against back when it was popular in the 1920s, but left it alone.

“Hello, darling,” he greeted, holding out his hands to coax the baby closer. 

The boy cautiously took Yoongi’s hands and let himself be pulled away from the safety of Jin’s arms. His steps were faltering, like he hadn’t been on his feet in a long time. Yoongi was half afraid he would crumble in the few steps Jin allowed him to walk. A ring of horrible blisters burned painfully around his neck, and his hands shook in either anxiety or weakness. 

“‘m Jungkook,” he introduced himself. 

“Ok, Jungkook-ah, let’s get you a little more settled over here,” Yoongi instructed, leading both of them over to the couch. 

He flared his wings before sitting, watching the way the nestling’s eyes widened at the sight of his bright plumage. Most bonghwang had been hunted to extinction a long time ago. Yoongi’s kind had perished, their bodies drained of every ounce of blood to bottle luck and healing, and their wings torn out to be mounted as trophies on someone else’s wall. 

Yoongi was not the very last. There were a few others, most of them still in hiding after the massacre. Bonghwang were rare, though. The little one wouldn’t have seen one of Yoongi’s kind before. 

He was visibly fascinated with Yoongi’s wings, a kind of innocent wonder on his face, but there was none of the jealous desire that Yoongi usually saw. Just a pure sort of awe. Yoongi could already feel Jin’s growing endearment with this boy in the back of his mind, and he suddenly understood why it had flourished so quickly. 

Jungkook was not a creature of artifice. Jin loved honesty, and was fiercely protective of innocence. The baby seemed to have those in spades. 

Yoongi settled himself on the couch, pulling Jungkook down on top of him. The angle was a little awkward because the fledgling was actually several centimeters taller than Yoongi, but Yoongi encouraged him to lean back against the arm of the sofa so that Jungkook was reclining a little bit. 

Yoongi wrapped his wings around the two of them, shutting out even Jin to have a little bit of privacy with the baby. The oldest hovered at the doorway of the living room, unable to let Jungkook out of his line of sight, but kept a respectful distance. Even Jin knew that Yoongi would not tolerate third-party interference during a healing. 

Besides the issue of privacy, Jungkook was cold. For a fledgling, that wasn’t usually an issue. Cold skin was one of the most classic hallmarks of a vampire. But now that he was touching the little one, Yoongi could tell that the baby felt cold. Bonghwang were creatures of healing, and Yoongi had had so long to develop this skill that he could tell some ailments just by physical contact with a person. Jungkook was cold and he was a fledgling who shouldn’t have the capacity to feel that. 

Yoongi frowned, but just wrapped his wings around them tighter, caressing the baby’s bare arms with his feathers. Bonghwang were naturally very warm, creatures of fire as they were, and Jungkook curled in towards the warmth. 

Yoongi popped out a talon to slit his wrist once he had the fledgling comfortable and offered the blood to the starved little one. Jungkook latched on eagerly, baby fangs tickling Yoongi’s skin as he drank. Yoongi pet his hair and nudged the nestling closer with his wings. 

He was a little surprised at the desperation with which the baby drank. He would’ve expected that Jin would let his new childe drink to satiety. Yoongi had thought that maybe he’d even have to coax the little one into taking his blood. 

As a bonghwang, Yoongi’s blood had healing properties the likes of which were almost unheard of. His tears were potent, but his blood ? Another league entirely. 

Even as he watched, the blisters around the baby’s throat began to heal. Weight loss wasn’t technically a physical injury, but Yoongi’s blood would help the little one utilize the nutrients better and gain weight faster. Since Jungkook was more weak and starved than actually injured, Yoongi’s blood could only do so much. It helped, certainly, but more with damage from violence not neglect. 

There were a few seconds of peaceful silence as Yoongi’s wings caged the two of them in and Jungkook took several deep mouthfuls of blood. 

But to Yoongi’s surprise, that was all he took. Jungkook wrapped his long fingers around Yoongi’s arm and pulled away from him with a slightly dazed look in his eyes after a mere four or five pulls. Jin must’ve fed the baby after all. 

“It’s different right?” Yoongi asked quietly when the little one frowned in slight confusion. “My blood?”

The incredible amount of magic in his blood was almost like a drug to most vampires. It gave them a rush of power as magic flooded through their veins. It could be quite overwhelming to some and had an addictive quality if taken in too great volume at one time. It had spelled death for many bonghwang in the past, drained dry by vampires high off of the influx of magic. 

The nestling handled it well. He blinked strangely colored eyes up at Yoongi, silvery irises melting into a golden ring around the pupils, and looked a little bewildered, but not at all intoxicated. 

Yoongi would never give the little one enough to get anything more than slightly relaxed off of his blood, but he’d been expecting to have to pull the fledgling back and for Jungkook to fall asleep pretty much immediately once he was sated. 

Instead, his nestling had stopped himself while he was still self-aware. Yoongi was impressed. 

Jungkook nodded slowly, unsure. 

“It heals,” Yoongi explained, running a single finger just under the ring of burns. They looked much better now, like a case of bad rope burn rather than acid, but they could still use some work. “I know Jin fed you, but it would be best for you to take a little more, sweetheart.”

He held his still bleeding wrist back out to Jungkook in offering. The little one actually swayed towards it, fingers clinging to Yoongi’s arm again and eyes so very hungry. But he didn’t drink. He flexed his fingers until his grip would’ve been painful for a human, and gritted his teeth until his baby fangs split open his lip, and didn’t take the blood. 

Yoongi frowned, concerned. “It’s ok, baby,” he soothed. “Just a little bit more. It will make you feel better.”

He forced his arm a few centimeters back towards Jungkook again. Yoongi could very easily overpower the little one if he really wanted to. He was at least a hundred times stronger than the baby, and he was no slouch in wrestling either. But he wouldn’t force the nestling into something he didn’t want. If Jungkook really refused to take his blood, Yoongi would unhappily accept that. 

He wouldn’t understand it. The distress in the little one’s face and posture told him Jin hadn’t fed the baby full, and there was no reason for that. Between himself and Hoseok, there was plenty of blood to go around. Jin would drain himself dry for this childe if he had to. 

Yet Jungkook was still hungry. It made no sense. 

The baby let out an anguished little chirp that shocked Yoongi because it was not at all a vampire noise. He didn’t have time to think about it though, because the nestling finally leaned down and took a few more greedy gulps of his blood. 

A tiny spark of shock shot down through Yoongi from Jin’s direction. The bonghwang mentally frowned again as a picture began to form in his brain. Jin would’ve given the baby as much blood as he wanted, but he was startled that Yoongi was able to convince Jungkook to take more blood. Jin must’ve tried that and failed. Which meant the little one was purposely refusing to take more than a little bit of blood at a time. 

Some newly turned vampires had a very difficult time getting used to drinking blood. In fact, a few individuals found it so revolting that they refused and either died or went into blood rages where they sucked anything within range dry in their starvation driven rage. 

Yoongi didn’t think that was the issue with Jungkook. The eagerness with which the fledgling latched on and the lack of tension in his body while he drank told Yoongi that his reluctance probably wasn’t due to disgust with drinking blood. 

He still stopped himself, though, and Yoongi was afraid there was a darker reason behind that. Jungkook had been in the hands of his captor for nearly a month. None of them knew what kind of conditioning he might’ve been put through in that time or how the nameless vampire who had turned him had kept the baby alive. 

Jungkook was not in a blood rage and in fact, seemed to have extreme self-control over his appetite. He must’ve gotten some blood during that time or he wouldn’t be anywhere near as rational as he was now. That was still a conundrum because the fledgling’s bond with Jin was extremely strong. As strong as a childe/sire bond should be. Which could mean only one thing. 

No blood had ever passed Jungkook’s lips before Jin’s. 

First Blood was an ancient magical rite older than even Jin himself. It bound a newly turned vampire and their sire with magics so pure and powerful that it threatened even the depths of Yoongi’s bond with Jin. 

In fact, it was so permanent and indissoluble that most vampires chose not to perform it. Childe and sire were linked together inextricably by First Blood and many vampires were hesitant to tether their immortal life to another individual. 

It was much more common for the sire to ask a trusted friend to feed their childe for the first time. This split the effect of the magic: part of it still linked the sire to the childe while another portion connected the childe to the third party. It diluted things enough to allow all three to go their separate ways when they chose to. 

Yoongi was not surprised that Jin had forgone that option. The oldest was nothing if not possessive. Jin may not have planned to have a fledgling, but now he did have one, and he would never completely let Jungkook go.

He would let the little one live his life independently if Jungkook so desired, but he would never stop watching from the shadows, never forget that Jungkook was his , first and foremost. No one would ever lay a claim to Jungkook as deep and binding as Jin’s. Magic itself wouldn’t permit it. 

That didn’t give Jin any kind of control over Jungkook however, and he wouldn’t exert it even if it did. So when the baby had refused to drink from him, Jin would’ve let him stop. 

Yoongi felt a small spark of smug satisfaction that he had been able to do what Jin hadn’t. Despite the bond between childe and sire, Yoongi had coaxed the nestling into drinking more where Jin had failed. 

It wasn’t a competition, but he couldn’t help but feel quite proud of this little victory. Yoongi had a possessive streak of his own, after all. Jungkook might be Jin’s childe, but he was Yoongi’s nestling now as well. He was happy to be able to wheedle the little one into eating a bit more. 

Yoongi’s satisfaction was short-lived, because Jungkook only took two more shallow mouthfuls from him, and then pushed him away with a much more definitive determination. The burns around his neck were still bright red, but all the blisters were finally closed. 

“That’s a good boy,” Yoongi praised. He might not be completely happy with the results, but Jungkook had done as he’d asked. “You listen to Hyung so well, little love.”

In the drowsy state the baby was now in, it wasn’t hard to see the effect those words had on him. A tiny, satisfied smile curled the corners of his lips, and he canted in towards Yoongi’s warmth. His fingers squeezed again around Yoongi’s arm, but this time as part of the whole body shudder of pleasure that ran down his spine. His doe eyes, with their exotically beautiful, coloring blinked shyly at Yoongi. 

Yoongi felt like his own chest might burst with endearment at the adorable reaction, and tucked it away for further exploitation later. 

“Hyung,” he called tucking his wings down just enough so that he could see Jin over the top of them. It was an entirely unnecessary move. Not only could Yoongi speak to Jin through their mental link, but Jin had not moved a single centimeter away from the door frame this entire time. 

Hobi had wandered off somewhere, probably to try to help Namjoon corral the maknaes away from the living room. The babies had been restless with all their hyungs gone so frequently during the last month. They didn’t really understand what could be so important as to steal all their hyungs at the same time and had been very petulant. 

Yoongi didn’t really blame them. Maknaes were used to being the absolute apples of hyungs’ eyes and were quite possibly irrevocably spoiled. Yoongi loved them that way. Babies should never know any pain. 

They had tried to keep at least one of them home with Jimin and Tae at all times, but it just wasn’t always feasible. Some of the spell work they used required pairs. They had even had to have five people once and Jimin had been bribed into participating as well. 

Not that he’d really needed to be bribed. He would’ve done it anyway because he knew it was important to Hyungs. The bribe was just the cherry on top that he knew hyungs would happily give him. 

It had been extremely time-consuming to tear down the wards hiding Jungkook from Jin, and the maknaes had gotten understandably impatient. Yoongi had barely been able to get them to calm back down again once Hobi had told them all that they would be coming home soon. He didn’t envy Joon the job of keeping them occupied while Yoongi looked over their newest baby. 

And speaking of which- “Can you go get me my tears?” he requested of Jin. 

The oldest was already moving even before Yoongi was done speaking. As weird as it sometimes felt even to Yoongi, they tried to keep a stock of Yoongi’s tears on hand. 

All of his bodily fluids except urine had healing properties, and his blood couldn’t be used in every situation. It generally had to be ingested or injected to be effective. It was useful in a pinch, but came with some issues. Blood type, for instance. And not everyone could just drink blood. In fact, the only one in their nest who really benefited from drinking blood was Jin. Hobi could stomach it, but it didn’t nourish him like it did Jin. 

Yoongi’s blood was useful for potions and some rituals, but not practical in every situation. 

What was almost always applicable, was his tears. They were incredibly valuable and could be used both internally and externally. And people tended to prefer being covered in his tears to his spit. Which was kind of a relief, because Yoongi also preferred crying on people to licking them. He would do it if he was desperate enough. But gross. 

The only problem was that he then had to actually produce tears. Yoongi often found himself tucked up on the living room couch watching a sad movie and sullenly holding a bottle to literally catch his tears. It was ridiculous and he still felt like a complete idiot every time, but at least they got some use out of it. 

It was also kind of hilarious to watch every single member of the nest go dashing for the nearest glass container when Yoongi started crying. And the only other alternative was Jin tickling him to tears, which just. No. 

The result was that they always had a stash of his tears tucked away for medical emergencies, and sometimes even enough for Jimin and Tae to sell in their store. 

To be perfectly honest, the remaining burns on Jungkook’s neck weren’t really bad enough to need Yoongi’s tears. At this point, they were barely more than a bad sunburn, and would go away completely the next time he drank from Yoongi. 

Yoongi couldn’t stand to wait for that. It was intolerable to see the marks of what had obviously been an iron collar around his baby’s neck. 

He licked his own forearm to close the cut he’d made, and wrapped his wings tighter around Jungkook again when the little one shivered. The sense that the baby was cold had not eased despite the fact that Yoongi had healed most of his wounds, and that worried him. Fledglings didn’t get cold. 

But the nestling’s eyes dropped tiredly, and he was so close to falling asleep on Yoongi’s lap. It was hard to feel anything but warm endearment. 

Jin returned almost before Yoongi was ready for him with a small bottle and a pipette. Trial and error had taught them that it was the easiest way to distribute Yoongi’s tears where they wanted them to go. 

“Head back, my jewel,” Jin ordered softly. 

Yoongi threaded his fingers through Jungkook’s matted hair and pulled back gently to expose the baby’s throat. Jungkook shivered a little at the gesture or at the sudden cold of Yoongi dropping his wings away again, but followed their guiding hands without comment. 

His eyes fell closed and only the little tremors that ran through his body as Jin dropped tears at intervals around the burn told Yoongi that he was still awake. Jin’s eyes never left the ring of red around his fledgling’s neck. There was a different kind of burning there. Rage. Remembered horror. Regret. 

Yoongi slid his finger through each tear as Jin dropped it, directing the flow of the water by tracing its path over Jungkook’s skin. The baby was remarkably pliant, trust or exhaustion leading him to remain still. 

Jungkook’s magic would assure him that he was completely, undeniably safe with Jin. A sire who took the rite of First Blood could never intentionally harm his childe. The fledgling’s magic knew that even if Jungkook wasn’t consciously aware of it. 

Jin was also the person who had come to take Jungkook away from whatever horror story he’d been living for the past month. Yoongi knew first hand how powerful that was. How much that could weld people together. 

Jin sat down on the coffee table in front of the couch and set the bottle next to him. He wormed the fingers of his now free hand through the baby’s hair until he could tangle them with Yoongi’s, both of them still lightly grasping Jungkook’s hair. 

There was silence as they worked. Yoongi let himself get lost in it. Let his magic rise and twine with Jin’s, by extension with Jungkook’s, as tangibly as their fingers were laced through the little one’s hair. 

Jin finally relaxed a little, reaching back to trace along the paths of their linked essence. 

Jungkook gasped, and went almost entirely limp. His own magic surged to greet them, shockingly strong and strangely… textured

Jungkook was not the blank slate that most nestlings were. His magic was complex and incredibly multifaceted. Far more developed than Yoongi had anticipated. Different layers slid over his mind as though flavoring the baby’s magic. It was fascinating and beautiful and entirely unique. In all his long life, Yoongi had never felt anything like it. 

He let himself sink, falling deeper through the folds. Jungkook’s magic welcomed him, singing around him because it recognized Jin in him. It twisted him up off his feet, and clung like an old lover, and embraced like safety. 

Yoongi felt his own eyes glazing over and saw that Jin’s had gone completely silver. He stroked his tears into Jungkook’s neck and watched the little one’s pearlescent aura rise almost tangibly from his skin to fuze with the magic in the tiny droplets. 

The nestling’s entire body shimmered with the iridescent hue and flicked to match Yoongi’s shifting, five colored aura and Jin’s steady crimson wherever they touched. It was an entrancing light show that Yoongi couldn’t bring himself to look away from even after they had finished applying his tears. 

His hand fell to rest lightly on his baby’s throat, cupping the chapped skin to watch the interplay of the light. Jin’s came to rest on the maknae’s sternum, sitting heavy and ground over his childe’s heart. 

They sat for an uncountable period of time, utterly mesmerized. 

Then a tiny flicker of warning flashed down their bond from Namjoon and the moment broke. 

Just in time for the door to slam open. 

Chapter Text

World building: Nests can be completely platonic, entirely polyamorous, or any combination of the two. Sometimes individuals within a nest will pair off to form couples (or more). Nestmates are chosen based on compatibility (both magically and personally) and that can but does not have to have a sexual dimension.

Each nest is centered around the oldest member, but dynamics within them can vary. While the oldest has the most power, that doesn't necessarily translate to any kind of preference for a specific role. They will be the leader of the nest and have the most decision making power, but there are a lot of ways to lead. Each nest leader has their own preferences.

Individuals can look for a partner outside of the nest, but this is uncommon and happens mostly when immortals take a mortal lover. Not every mortal lover will become immortal, so some immortals will just involve themselves sexually with a mortal for that mortal's life span. It's much rarer for two immortals to have a relationship outside of their nests. If they do, it will be with the understanding that it is not going to last, or with the intention of eventually living in the same nest (whether that means one of them joins the other's nest, or both of them leave to start their own nest). Members of a nest may also form relationships outside of their nest if they plan to include their new partner in the nest eventually.

While a nest may form with as many individuals as the leader desires, there are certain numbers that are less magically desirable than others and can place a strain on members of the nest. Six, for example, is not considered a stable number. Six is a number associated with masculinity while seven represents femininity. Without the balance of masculine and feminine, the magic within the nest is unsettled, and most of the strain of trying to rebalance it will rest on the sixth member. Particularly in the case of six and seven, with the balance of the genders, this tends to bond the sixth and seventh member more closely.

The order in which members join a nest does matter and will shape their magic. Each number (up to 9) has a specific magical meaning, and members will be more adept at magic associated with their number. For example, one is bonding and two is balance. Jin will be better at magic that binds things together while Yoongi will have an easier time creating balance. Again, with enough magical strength, these limitations become largely meaningless, but they do give each member of the nest their own edge. 

If an individual leaves a nest, their magic resets to the base meaning of zero, which represents potential. They will still maintain some of their skill with the type of magic associated with their number in their former nest, but only because that is a type of magic they are now familiar with using. The extra boost behind that magic is gone, but they still have the experience. 

This has been your primer on nest, thank you so much for reading 😁 

THE STORY

 

Taehyung had been more than patient enough. Hyungs had been so busy for days and he’d barely seen Jin-hyung all month. Yes, maybe that wasn’t that much for immortals, but Taehyung wasn’t used to missing hyungie that much and he didn’t appreciate it. 

Whatever this treasure was had better be damn well worth it for everyone to be this worked up about it. 

Hobi-hyung had come to find Tae and Jimin as soon as he got home, as he should. He knew how much they had missed him and wasn’t about to leave them alone. Tae had been expecting that Jin would quickly follow and that a huge cuddle pile would ensue. Maybe even Jimin would switch to his small form and let Taehyung hold him like a precious little stuffed toy. 

Instead, not only had Jin-hyung not come, but Yoongi had left them as well. Taehyung didn’t understand why he was being abandoned again when hyungs had finally retrieved their goal and should now have all the time in the world for him again. 

Under normal circumstances, Taehyung suspected that he wouldn’t be too awfully fussy. He knew that hyungs would never stay away from their nestlings for too long without good reason. Their obvious concern and distress would usually be enough for Taehyung to be more considerate. 

Except there was something buzzing in their bond, and Taehyung was extremely anxious. He’d never felt anything like this before. It had been a kind of annoying titter at the very edges of his perception for the last month, and tonight it had peaked into a full blown flood of sensation that he didn’t recognize. 

Up until tonight, Taehyung had been content to think that the flickers he caught were the hyungs’ poorly disguised stress. He had felt tiny flutters of that before and the sensation wasn’t too dissimilar. This torrent was something entirely different. 

It filled their bond, singing down each link with every hyung, but especially from Jin and Yoongi. His two oldest and most powerful hyungs were flexing their magic in an entirely new and very strange way. There was something about the power that Taehyung barely even recognized, and that scared him a little bit. 

So he waited until Namjoon was in the bathroom, and Hoseok was entirely occupied with Jimin before he made a break for it. 

It wasn’t that difficult. In his smaller form, Taehyung could fly at speeds that the hyungs had difficulty keeping up with and hide at a moment’s notice. He was never truly concealed from them because of the magic linking them, but they sometimes liked to let him think he’d gotten away. 

And occasionally, very occasionally, he actually did slip their attention. 

This was one of those rare occasions, and Taehyung took full advantage of it as he fluttered down the stairs and away from his hyungs. 

They were all distracted. Taehyung knew that was the only reason he could get away with this, and it was the reason he was worried about in the first place. As much as Jin promised he was bringing home a treasure, Taehyung worried that it would be fool’s gold and may just distress them more. 

He vaguely felt a warning push from Namjoon through the bond and heard feet thudding on the stairs behind him. Too late, though, as he retook his human form and charged through the living room door. 

Only to stop dead at the sight in front of him. 

Jin stood only a few steps into the room, eyes completely silver and fangs and claws out. His posture was vaguely threatening and extremely protective. 

Yoongi behind him copied that stance, wings raised high to block himself from Taehyung’s view, but not quite concealing the fact that he was hiding someone else as well. 

“Tae-Tae, moppet, you scared us,” Jin breathed, features reverting to their usual human beauty. “Didn’t hyungs tell you that we needed a few minutes?”

“I’m sorry, Hyung,” Namjoon apologized, peeking around Taehyung because he was still standing squarely in the middle of the doorway. “Baby was a bit too eager to see you.”

“I missed you, Hyung,” Taehyung whined, tearing his eyes away from Yoongi’s still protectively raised wings long enough to pout at Jin. “You’ve been gone so much lately, and you promised to bring me home a treasure.”

“That I did,”Jin chuckled fondly. “Come here, amoret. Let me show you my new jewel.”

Jin beckoned him close with a welcoming hand. Taehyung hesitated a little. Because that was most definitely a person. And Taehyung did not want a new person.

He wanted hyungs to bring him home something pretty to look at and play with. A person was…complicated. 

And it had taken Jin years before he was ready to pull Taehyung into his nest. Jin had started coming around when Taehyung was just over the cusp of maturity, but courted him from a distance for a very long time. 

Taehyung had been flattered by the attention and had expected no less from the famed vampire. Kim Seokjin was known throughout the continent for being extremely picky about his nest. He did not, as many magical creatures did, condense and dissolve nests around him as suited his fancy every few decades. Or every few centuries. Or ever , in the memory of the entire magical community. 

Since the vampire got so very attached to his nestmates, he was extraordinarily picky about them. Taehyung had known from the moment Jin initiated the first bond between their magic that he belonged to Jin now. The older would never let him go. That meant that Jin had to be certain before he even started that process that Taehyung was a person he wanted to spend the rest of his immortal life with. It only made sense that that would take years. 

Except there was a new person in their nest, and a strange niggling in their bond and this had none of that detailed planning and elongated period of evaluation beforehand. 

Taehyung warily crept closer. 

Jin tucked him into his side, mentally nudging Yoongi a little bit to get him to lower his wings. Taehyung could feel the hesitation in the Second as well, and that only put him on edge more. It was one thing for Jin to get attached. Despite his careful selection process, Jin usually fell hard and fast. It would be of no surprise if he had become enamored with a new individual. Their Seventh and final. A magic number to close their nest. 

But Yoongi ? The bonghwang was incredibly cautious about new people. Taehyung was fully aware that a large part of Jin’s long courting process came down to Yoongi’s circumspect concern that Jin’s generally very soft heart would get entangled with the wrong person. 

For Yoongi to get so wrapped up in a new person was unheard of. It had taken Taehyung nearly two years to worm his way into the older man’s heart, and he couldn’t imagine what could make Yoongi lower his barriers so easily. 

When the bonghwang finally lowered his wings, Taehyung was not impressed. The first impression he got was filthy. This…boy (at least he thought they were a boy, it was hard to tell through the dirt and starvation) looked like he’d been rolling around with the pigs. Taehyung could get dirty with the best of them, had grown up in a garden where he regularly rolled in the mud, but this was something different. Taehyung immersed himself in the rich soil that made up life-giving earth. This boy looked like he just hadn’t bothered to shower in weeks. 

His clothes were basically rags, torn in a few places and hanging ghoulishly off his tiny, tiny frame. He looked like he’d never heard the term self care in his life. 

Taehyung usually wasn’t one to judge another person. And he wasn’t really judging this boy now. A terrible pity and a little bit of fear stirred in his heart. It was horrifying to see another sentient being torn down so low and honestly a little scary as well. Taehyung wanted to look away. 

But he made the mistake of meeting the boy’s eyes, and he was stuck in place.

This boy was barely awake but the fading glitter of silver in his irises and the absolute sense of belonging struck Taehyung immediately. So did the slight fear at the addition of new people and the deep loneliness lingering as a slight sadness behind the other emotions. 

Whoever this was, he already felt like he had a place here, and Taehyung got the sense that that meant a lot to him. Maybe it had been a while since the boy last felt like he was wanted. 

It tore Taehyung’s heart, but didn’t make him less wary. Desperate people were dangerous people, and that startling silver, so completely out of place in a baby’s eyes, warned Taehyung that there was more to the picture than he was currently seeing. 

This nestling had caught his hyungs’ attention and held them captive in his thrall. Taehyung was a little jealous, and very concerned. 

“Come meet my treasure, Tae,” Jin coaxed, leading him closer to the baby vamp. “Jungkookie, this is Taehyung, my youngest nestmate. Tae, darling, this is Jungkook, my jewel.”

Sharp annoyance flared through Taehyung because why did this boy get to be hyung’s jewel? Taehyung would never question the depths of Jin’s possessive love for him, but Jungkook already occupied the favored position of the Seventh, and now Jin was making such a fuss over emphasizing his worth. It just…pricked a little. 

Taehyung had been assured more times than he could count that he would be instrumental in picking the Seventh. When Jin had seen fit to expand his nest to include Taehyung, he had broken the magical balance that a nest of five had. Numbers were important to magic, and six was an unbalanced number. Taehyung had always known that they would need a Seventh to fill in the gap. 

As the Sixth, Taehyung’s magic had been working double to account for the imbalance, and it was his magic that would need to bond most closely with the Seventh to restore an equilibrium.

As much as Taehyung loved being part of the nest, he had to admit that he really did need the aid. Especially now, when his nest had been using so much of their magic to break into wherever Jungkook had been kept, Taehyung was frequently exhausted and could barely perform magic that he had had no issue with before joining Jin’s coven. A huge amount of his resources and energy had gone into basically binding him twice to the rest of the coven to fill in the gap left for a Seventh. 

Before this whole affair started, Jin had already been looking for a Seventh to reduce the strain on Taehyung. And since the Seventh’s magic had to be absolutely compatible with Taehyung’s, the youngest had never doubted that he would have final say in the choice. 

But here was Jin, presenting him with a filthy, weak baby who would not be able to shoulder his part of the bond until his magic grew and who Taehyung had never once met in his life. 

The Seventh was supposed to be special. He was supposed to be Taehyung’s . This boy was a stranger. 

“Hello,” the little one warbled, folding his hands together and bowing slightly from his place on Yoongi-hyung’s lap. The gesture almost sent him toppling, and Taehyung couldn’t help the distressed crinkle of his own nose at the clear helplessness. 

“Tae-Tae, darling, we asked you to stay upstairs,” Namjoon scolded lightly, coming around to stand next to Taehyung just as Yoongi got the baby sitting up straight again. 

“Oh!” the little one gasped before Taehyung could reply. “You’re very beautiful.” 

His eyes, now completely back to the natural dark brown, were fixed on Namjoon. 

Anyone who didn’t know Namjoon as well as their nest did would miss the minute flinch Namjoon gave. Taehyung instantly hated the nestling just a little bit. 

Namjoon was extremely sensitive about his appearance. Taehyung was not privy to all of the details, but he knew that Namjoon hadn’t always looked like he did today. He also knew that the Fourth didn’t keep this form by choice. Namjoon was not happy to walk around in this body and to have someone throw that so carelessly in his face was infuriating. 

But Namjoon was a kind man and would never hold it against a boy who had no idea of the pain he was causing by mentioning his face.

“Well thank you, sweetheart,” he said, smiling softly at the baby. “So are you.”

Jungkook was. Taehyung could see that even through the dirt and starvation. The nestling would be very good looking when he was cleaned up a little. Taehyung didn’t care. 

“Jungkook is my childe,” Jin informed them, mostly, Taehyung suspected, for his benefit. Namjoon didn’t look at all surprised, but Taehyung’s head snapped around. Jin had never had any inclination to make a fledgling of his own. He’d expressed hesitance at the fact that many mortals had a lot of difficult adapting to an immortal life. 

Jin had not given his consent for anyone to be turned with his blood. It was an incredible violation and bound him to a person he may never have chosen to even associate himself with. Taehyung cringed at the mere idea. 

Yoongi’s hand suddenly snaked out and latched onto Namjoon’s arm to draw him closer. The Fourth stumbled a little, but didn’t protest at all as the bonghwang slit open his forearm and offered it to the fledgling. 

“Drink, Pearl,” he commanded, almost completely ignoring Namjoon’s curious stare. 

Confusion echoed through the bond. Between Yoongi, Hoseok, and Jin himself, the baby should be stuffed to bursting by now. Namjoon was not upset about feeding the little one, and wouldn’t have let Yoongi cut his arm if he hadn’t wanted to, but the Fourth didn’t understand. 

Worry drifted back from Yoongi and Jin, strong enough that Taehyung could make it out clearly even though hyungs usually tried to hide their negative emotions from him. Perhaps even more tellingly, the fledgling didn’t immediately go for the fresh blood when it was offered. 

Taehyung had had baby vampire friends in the past, and they would drink until their stomachs literally burst if their sires let them. Jungkook hesitated and looked up at Namjoon as though asking permission. 

“Go ahead, dearest,” Namjoon encouraged, nudging his arm closer. “You wouldn’t have had anything like me before.”

The self-critical little smile on his face rankled Taehyung, and he sent a pulse of warmth and love towards the older man. Namjoon smiled more sincerely back at him, but quickly refocused his attention on the baby when Jungkook finally took the offered blood. 

“He hasn’t had anything like anything before,” Jin said grimly. “We’ve just done the Rite of First Blood.”

Taehyung actually flinched away and the echo of Namjoon’s cold shock ran through the whole bond. That was unfathomable. The fledgling should be in a blood rage the likes of which no one had ever seen before if that was true. 

“Why haven’t you fed him?” Namjoon hissed, his hand settling protectively on the back of Jungkook’s head to hold the fledgling to his arm. 

“We’re trying ,” Jin almost snapped. Peevish, annoyed worry hit Taehyung and he realized why when the little one pulled back from Namjoon’s arm only a second later. Jungkook’s eyes were silver once more, and they stayed glued to the trail of gold-tinted blood that ran down Namjoon’s arm, but he didn’t lean back in. 

“No, no, darling, I’m not annoyed at you ,” Namjoon rushed out, horrified. “Please, drink a little more.”

“No more,” the nestling refused, turning his head away. Namjoon’s arm healed almost instantly now that the wound wasn’t being actively sucked back open again, and the Fourth stared in confusion. 

Jin gestured helplessly in a manner that indicated he’d been through this several times already, but Taehyung was moving almost before he could contemplate the thought. He might not like Jungkook, but Taehyung couldn’t just stand there and watch someone starve. 

He didn’t have claws to cut himself with, so he drew a fingertip down his arm and let his magic do it for him. It was usually excessively difficult to harness magic to hurt one’s self, but the way Jungkook’s magic was already twining its way down the bond meant that Taehyung’s magic recognized the necessity of feeding a baby. He had no trouble at all slicing a shallow gash in his own arm. 

Again, Jungkook took the offered blood eagerly, but limited himself to a few sips. Taehyung must be the fifth to feed him (he very much doubted Hoseok had failed to offer his blood to the baby), and the fledgling wasn’t quite as desperate now as he had been before. That was due in a large part to having ingested some of Yoongi’s blood, as well as the ultra-nourishing quality of Namjoon’s unique blood and the sheer abundance of magic in Jin and Hobi’s. Taken from anyone else, the amount of blood Jungkook had drunk would’ve been scarcely enough to whet his appetite. From this nest, it could hold him for a little while. 

Mild surprise from the rest of the nest swirled lazily down their bond, but Taehyung didn’t look at any of them. 

Instead, he locked eyes with Jungkook again. The fledgling never looked away from him as he delicately sucked a few mouthfuls of blood out of Taehyung. His silver eyes almost hazed over with a strangely green sheen, but Taehyung ignored that because the bond was flickering to life once more. 

This was a completely new feeling, Jungkook’s magic very carefully creeping along the pathways built from Jin and Yoongi to vaguely convey what he wanted to tell Taehyung. Gratitude. Apology. A muted, wary sort of trust. Respect. 

Taehyung may not have wanted Jungkook, but Jungkook was what he had. And Taehyung, like Jin, did not ever let go of what was his. 

Chapter Text

World building: as immortals age and their magic grows, it begins to affect their bodies. They need less sleep and can go longer without eating because their magic sustains them. At a certain point it may begin to augment other physical traits as well, but in a less predictable manner. Some immortals have better eyesight or hearing than is usual for their species. Others are stronger than humanly possible. Different characteristics are boosted for each immortal and it depends entirely upon their own magic. 

 

The Story

 

“He doing ok?” a voice asked from the doorway, startling Jin out of his observation of his two babies. 

Hoseok leaned around the doorframe, very obviously wrestling Jimin back to keep him out. Jin sighed. He hadn’t wanted to overwhelm his fledgling with all of them so quickly, but maybe he should’ve known better than to expect that the maknaes would be able to wait until they were called. 

“Go ahead and let him in,” he said ruefully. 

Hoseok moved aside immediately, resulting in a lot of stumbling from the usually nimble cherub behind him. Jimin squeaked and ran a few steps forward to compensate for his momentum. His arms flared for balance like his wings would if he had them out, and he screeched to a halt just a few steps from where Jungkook had immediately taken his mouth off of Taehyung at the disturbance.

Brief annoyance flickered through Jin because the baby really did not need to be interrupted while he was eating. He already wouldn’t take enough blood. The last thing Jin wanted was for him to be further disturbed when he was drinking what little blood he would take. 

But he could never get too irritated with his babies, so the annoyance was fleeting. Besides, Jimin had no idea what he was walking in on, and it wasn’t his fault that he accidentally distracted the fledgling from drinking. 

The cherub was staring in utter shock at Jungkook, eyes flicking from Taehyung’s bleeding wrist Jungkook’s little baby fangs. 

“Hyung!” Jimin exclaimed, spinning around towards Jin with a vaguely accusing expression. “Who’s this?”

Jin almost winced because those were not pleased feelings spilling down the bond. Jimin and Tae were always the unpredictable variables in this equation. Jin had been with the others so long that he knew almost instinctively how all of them would react to whatever situation they found themselves in. Jimin and Tae were newer. Younger. Less predictable. More spontaneous by nature than the older members of the nest. 

Jin was never entirely sure what he was going to get from them even on a daily basis, let alone in a new situation. 

In all honesty, Jin probably should have sat down with the youngest two and spoken to them about the possibility of a new nestmate. Especially since this was his childe. 

He had avoided it for several reasons: The necessity to explain how his blood had been taken in the first place. The fear that they might pull away. But most of all, the very real possibility that Jungkook would be killed before Jin could even get to him. 

Jin had felt the little one the moment he was turned, and the last month had been almost tortuous with the knowledge that the tiny, tentative bond which barely linked them could shatter at any moment because his fledgling had been killed. 

Jin had no illusions about the kind of things Jungkook might’ve endured during his time in captivity. He also refused to try to fool himself about how easily the baby could’ve died in that time. He knew the signs of experimentation and they had been everywhere. Over the property, the magic in the house, and Jungkook himself. Any one tiny mistake could be agonizing when it came to magic, and it wasn’t uncommon for them to be deadly as well. 

Jungkook was lucky that he had lived even long enough for Jin to ever set eyes on the baby. He hadn’t wanted to subject his maknaes to the possibility of that loss as well. Joon, Hoseok, and Yoongi had all known, to a certain extent, what Jin was so set on retrieving, but Jin had kept it from the maknaes. 

Not least because he hadn’t known how willing of a participant Jungkook was. Jin’s blood had been taken from him without permission to turn this fledgling. Depending on Jungkook’s level of complicity and his willingness to fight against Jin, things could have gone much differently. In the worst case scenario, Jin may have been forced to kill the baby. He would not expose Taehyung and Jimin to that reality unless he absolutely had to. 

It had proven to be a mute point anyway, once Jin found the baby in the basement. No matter what the little one had originally signed up for, it could not have been an iron collar in a basement without even access to a shower. 

Jungkook had not attacked them, not even in an attempt to feed from Hobi. He was clearly not a willing participant, at least not anymore. Whatever had brought him to this place, it was no longer his choice to stay and he hadn’t tried to hurt them. 

To Jin’s everlasting relief, he hadn’t been forced to harm his childe and instead he could hope that Jungkook could one day become a part of his nest for Jin to adore as much as he did the others. But that led them here, with Jimin staring at Jungkook like he was an interloper in their home. Which, honestly, he was , but not an unwelcome one. 

One of Yoongi’s wings came up a little bit, protective even in his own nest of the baby. Jimin’s sharp eyes didn’t miss it and became slightly more accusing. 

“This is Jungkook,” Yoongi said this time. “He’s Jin-hyung’s childe.”

His expression was a little warning. The cherub was known for being passionate with his emotions. Given the absolutely fragile state the baby was in right now both mentally and physically, Jin knew that Yoongi would let nothing upset him. Jin also knew that a lot of that was left over from their shared history. There had been times when Yoongi couldn’t protect Jin. He would be damned if he let Jungkook experience what Jin had. 

Which was fair, because Jin would be as well. He hadn’t been able to protect himself either, after all. 

“Excuse me?” Jimin asked flatly. 

Yoongi reached for Taehyung’s wrist and licked the still bleeding cut closed, ignoring Jimin. 

“This is Jimin, treasure,” Jin said, also mostly ignoring Jimin’s response. 

“Come say hello, Angel,” Yoongi invited, holding out a hand to Jimin. 

“Is he gonna bite me?” Jimin asked, curling his lip in disgust at the state the baby was in. He knew full well that none of his hyungs would allow him to be bitten without his consent. That wasn’t why he’d said it. He just knew it might hurt Jungkook. 

And sure enough, the nestling flinched further back on Yoongi’s lap. His chin tipped down and his little fang caught on his own lip. His teeth weren’t even strong enough to break Taehyung’s skin at this point, but they were certainly enough to puncture his own flesh. 

A tiny bit of anger actually rose in Jin’s chest at that. Jungkook had already been through so much. He didn’t need Jimin to be unnecessarily mean right now.

Jin understood, of course, why Jimin was unhappy. This was a big shock for the cherub, and Jimin had always been very protective of Taehyung. They all knew that this took the choice of the Seventh out of Taehyung’s hands. It left him stuck with an exceptionally close bond to someone he didn’t know and may not even grow to like.

That had never been Jin’s intention, and he was maybe even more upset than Taehyung that the Sixth had been deprived of his right to choose their Seventh. There was nothing any of them could do about that at this point, though. The magic was already done, and there was no picking apart the threads of power that bound the little one to Jin and Yoongi at least. 

Jimin was understandably displeased that Taehyung had been usurped, and wary about what kind of person Jungkook was. That didn’t mean he needed to be so cruel though. 

“Nevermind,” Yoongi said thinly, dipping a finger into his tears to wipe it against the cut in the fledgling’s lip. He shifted Jungkook to hold him bridal-style, and stood. “How about a bath, little one,” he suggested, completely ignoring a slightly dumbfounded Jimin. 

Jimin was not at all used to being anything but the center of his hyung’s attention, and Jin cringed a little as he felt how hurt the maknae was. But he could also feel that the tiny flicker of peace and calm that they’d managed to inspire in the baby had gone out. In the delicate and still somewhat fearful state the little one was in, Jin couldn’t blame Yoongi for being irritated with this development. 

“A-a bath?” the nestling stuttered somewhat dazed. He looked around in confusion as he was suddenly in the air. Yoongi was surprisingly strong for such a small bird. Jin could attest. 

“Wouldn’t it be nice to be clean, sweetness?” Hoseok asked gently, coming up alongside Yoongi to take the little one’s hand and kiss it. 

“I-yes-but-” Jungkook looked back towards a visibly fuming Jimin.

“It’s ok, baby. Hyung just needs a few minutes. Don’t worry about it,” Hoseok murmured. 

Jin watched them go, mentally tracing their progress towards the bathroom even as he turned his attention back to his other babies. 

“I am disappointed,” he said quietly. 

Jimin actually flinched, but held his ground and glared back at Jin. “Well so am I,” he snapped back. “What happened to Taehyung’s choice? To mine ?”

“What happened to mine ?” Jin shot back, losing control of the link for a brief second, enough for Jimin to get some understanding of what Jin was really feeling. The cherub jerked again, eyes going wide. 

Jin sighed. 

“I’m sorry,” he apologized. “This isn’t the way I wanted this to go. You know I would never force anyone on you if I had the choice. But this is what we have, and I refuse to regret it. You may not know it yet, but that boy has a depth of love and pain in him that will saturate your heart and break it at once.”

“I know this isn’t what you were hoping for, but I am disappointed that you chose to take that out on possibly the most innocent person in this equation.”

“You don’t even know yet,” Jimin whispered, now cowed and ashamed, but not quite willing to give up his point. “You don’t know if he’s innocent or not. What if he chose to take your blood fully aware that you were not giving it willingly?”

“If that is true, then he has had a month in a basement to reconsider,” Namjoon put in. “A month of an iron collar around his neck and Jin-hyung’s magic bombarding the wards with a pressure that must’ve been a constant hot poker on him as he felt the displeasure of his sire. That’s one hell of a punishment, Jimin.”

“He’s just a baby,” Jin added. “If he walked into this willingly, and the consequences have not changed his outlook, we will teach him. But we will not teach him with backhandedly cruel comments. Do you understand?”

Despite his growing guilt, Jimin was clearly not entirely convinced. “I understand, hyung,” he answered anyways. 

“There is my beautiful little angel,” Jin praised, walking over to kiss Jimin gently. “I know this is not ideal, my own. I would not force this on you if I had another choice.”

Jimin sighed and sagged a little. He wasn’t happy about it, but knew that Jin had just as little choice as he did. 

“He’s not sleeping in our room,” the cherub said petulantly, gesturing between himself and Taehyung.

“He’ll sleep with me,” Jin asserted immediately, a thorn of irritation pricking at even the notion of his childe being separated from him for that long. He’d lost out on a month with Jungkook. He was not giving up any more precious time in the near future. He wouldn’t overwhelm the baby, but he certainly wasn’t going to be just leaving Jungkook to other people willy-nilly. Even if those other people were nestmates. 

“Speaking of bed,” Namjoon broke in. “It’s about time, babies. You’ve got an early morning tomorrow with the shop.”

Jin glanced over at the Fourth. He hadn’t been told anything about opening the shop earlier. 

“There’s a new vampire who would like to get in before the sun rises,” Taehyung answered his unspoken question. 

“Ah,” Jin nodded. He hadn’t had to worry about it today, since it was dark by the time he got his hands on his fledgling, but that was something he was definitely going to have to keep an eye on with the baby as well. New vampires could only tolerate limited exposure to direct sunlight, and he would be damned if the little one was burned again so soon. 

“We’re old enough to not even need sleep,” Jimin grumbled in faux petulence. 

“Maybe you are,” Jin agreed, glancing over at Taehyung meaningfully. The pixie wasn’t quite old enough yet to go without a night of sleep with no consequences. “But it’s still nice to have a little bit of rest.”

Jimin ducked his head, actually chagrined this time. Taehyung slept best when someone was there with him, but he would also encourage Jimin to go do as he pleased if the cherub didn’t feel like sleeping. He didn’t want to hold Jimin back. 

Jimin generally did his very best to discourage Taehyung from thinking that it was any kind of sacrifice for him to sleep (especially since it really wasn’t , Jimin was still young enough that he did need rest for optimal function the next day) and this last little attempt to be catty with Jin was uncharacteristically careless of him. 

He clearly regretted it. 

“It is,” he agreed with Jin. “I’m sorry for being bratty, Hyung.”

Jin couldn’t help his fond little smile. He pulled Jimin in by his waist and kissed him again. “My darling knows that he is the apple of hyung’s eye,” he said. “I’m not angry, dearest.”

Jimin gave him a relieved little peck in response, then turned to Taehyung. “Bedtime for little wings!” he declared, flapping his arms exaggeratedly in the pixie’s direction. 

“Excuse me,” Taehyung protested, askance. “My wings are proportionally larger on me than yours are!”

“Except when your entire body is six inches tall,” Jimin agreed sagely. “We can’t forget that.”

He herded the still protesting Taehyung out of the room and Jin could hear their continued argument all the way up the stairs. He and Namjoon exchanged adoring smiles. 

It would take a little while for all the little ones to settle in together, but Jin had high hopes. What little he’d seen of Jungkook so far, the baby had been respectful, self-controlled, and kind. It would not likely take long for him to endear himself to Jimin and Taehyung as he had already done for Jin and Yoongi at least, if not the rest of the hyungs as well. 

Jin predicted that he would soon find himself with a trio of happy nestlings. For now he would settle for strained politeness if he had to. It was a temporary situation and would be remedied only with time and familiarity. 

Besides, he had a baby to see to at this exact moment in time. He needed to get his childe settled after the trauma Jungkook had undoubtedly gone through. 

Namjoon came up for a kiss as well. “I’ll get him some clothes,” he murmured. “I think he looked about Hobi’s size maybe.”

“Get mine,” Jin demanded, unable to help himself. They barely even had separate clothes after living together this long. But he wanted to see Jungkook in something recognizably his. Jin couldn’t help it. 

“Ok, hyung,” Namjoon acquiesced with a wry grin. “Go tend to your fledgling.”

Jin got the feeling he was being lightly made fun of. The tickle of Namjoon’s amusement in their bond and the laughing sparkle in his eyes told Jin that the Fourth found his possessiveness funny. 

It mattered not. Jin would get his own laughs later, when something upset Jungkook and Namjoon tore its head off before anyone else could even blink. It would not be the first time Namjoon had done so for their babies. 

For now, Jin just gave him a superiorly unamused look and turned for the stairs. Namjoon was right after all; Jin had a baby to tend to. 

Chapter Text

World Building 1: Despite the fact that most creatures have equal rights in the modern world, there are some types of creatures who are considered superior to others. Which creatures are considered “better” can vary according to the culture, but a broad sort of hierarchy has been established over the centuries. Gods are of course at the top of that division, and the more power a creature has, the higher up they are generally considered to be. 

On the other hand, there are some moral judgements in this hierarchy as well. No matter how powerful some creatures are, they are considered inferior based on morality. Demons, for instance, are very powerful, but in a sort of grey area in the hierarchy because they are considered “bad.” They hold a position of respect, but that respect is from fear not awe. People wouldn’t dare to treat them lower, but they don’t necessarily like them either. 

On the other hand, power combined with morality can make some creatures extremely venerable and put them near the top of the hierarchy. Bonghwang are close to the top as well as other generally “good” creatures like angels. This is not a defined structure. Except for the position of the gods at the top, creatures are generally divided into broad categories of top, middling, or bottom in terms of respect. 

This hierarchy can affect how people interact in every part of their lives from work to personal relationships. No one is obliged to share what type of creature they are, but those near the top of the hierarchy can get a leg up if they do decide to let their inheritance be known. 

This advantage is so widely known that some individuals will purposely choose a partner with the genetics of a creature high up on their hierarchy in order the hopes that their children will inherit those genes. This is especially common in those individuals who are children of creatures, but have not inherited the gene themselves. For example, the human offspring of a grim might pair up with the human offspring of a unicorn in the hopes that their children would inherit the more favored unicorn genes. 

To make a long story short, there are some creatures that are valued above others, and that can give them an advantage in life. 



World Building 2: Evolution does occur within a species. For example, unicorns were originally horned goats, but eventually evolved to have a horse form instead. These changes can be as drastic as that of the unicorn (morphing entirely into a different animal) or as small as losing claws (as mermaids did over the course of their own evolution). It is possible for an individual to be born with an evolutionary throwback to an earlier form of their species. For example every now and then a unicorn is born with a goat form rather than a horse one. The more drastic the evolutionary change, the rarer this is, but it does occur. 



The story

 

Jungkook stared blankly at the water swirling from the faucet into the bathtub. He was barely tracking the situation, barely understood what was happening behind the hunger gnawing at his gut and the veritable ocean of power surging through his veins. 

Jungkook had gotten used to both of these things over the last month. He’d grown so used to the sensation of his stomach turning itself inside out and howling in pain that he didn’t even think of it anymore. But more importantly, he had finally felt like he was starting to get a handle on the absolute torrent of power that almost burned under his skin. 

And then he had been fed. He’d taken enough blood to remind his body that it was supposed to be getting food, but nowhere near enough to satisfy. It made his body think there was hope for him to be able to feed to his heart’s content, and the pain renewed when he denied himself. Jungkook’s stomach hurt more fiercely than he could ever remember it doing before and it took almost everything in him just to stay upright instead of curling over it when Yoongi put him down on the counter.

It was all the worse because Jungkook knew there was food there, knew most of the nest would gladly offer it to him if he would take it, and he still couldn’t bring himself to do it. Remembered pain, real or not, was enough to entirely put him off of the idea of taking more than a few pulls from any of the others. Not least because he wasn’t a savage, no matter what Jimin thought. Jungkook didn’t bite unless he was given permission. Not that his tiny fangs would do anything to the older immortals anyway, but it was the self control and respect that counted. 

The only thing worse than the pain in his stomach was the boiling of his magic surging through his entire body. Jungkook had not just fed from mortals, after all. Each member of the nest had a specific type of power that sang through Jungkook in a way he knew it shouldn’t. Jungkook should only have that sort of connection with Jin, his sire. 

The blood of the other four immortals who had fed him should have little effect on him. Yoongi’s, of course, might’ve healed him and given him a relaxed feeling. Taehyung’s should just taste like plants. Namjoon’s was expected to be heavy and give him a temporary boost like a sugar rush. And Hoseok’s should’ve aroused him a little bit. 

Instead, each mouthful he took twined their magic along his own to further cement the bonds to them. And it strengthened them. Jungkook was barely keeping hold of his magic at this point. It shimmered in that strange new pearlescent haze over his skin, and he barely managed to contain it to parts of his body hidden by his clothing. 

Jungkook had had a month to get used to the unaccustomed power he now held, but he’d had no idea that it was just a fraction of what he would have when healed. That was actually terrifying because he didn’t know if his body could handle it. 

Jungkook had seizures from the amount of magic that had rushed into him when he was first turned. He didn’t know if he would actually survive a second round. 

Hopefully he wouldn’t have to deal with another huge rush like his turning. That was the only redeeming part of not being able to eat: it meant his strength would come back slowly. Gradually. Hopefully his body would be able to adjust and adapt to the swell of magic as well without a repeat of the earlier crisis. 

As it turned out, hybrid bodies were very resilient when it came to adaptation. Jungkook would know. 

It was something to worry about later because hunger and power were not even his biggest concerns at the moment. Jungkook once again glanced over at the water still cascading into the tub

The water called to him, made his voice rise in his throat no matter how hard he pushed it down. Water, especially standing water, always made him want to sing. That, at least, was an instinct he was used to suppressing. His wings rustled under his skin, and he bit his tongue to keep silent, but he could do it. 

That didn’t mean it was easy, though, and Jungkook was entirely distracted by the tub. He always had difficulty focusing on anything else when there was water present, and wasn’t entirely aware that he’d zoned out until Yoongi’s hand on his knee startled him back into the present. 

The bonghwang’s eyes were worried when Jungkook finally tore his own attention from the water long enough to look at him. His lips were puckered in a little pout of concern, and his fingers barely skimmed Jungkook’s knee, like he was afraid of scaring him. 

Jungkook still had to shove down the magic that was trying to rise to greet Yoongi’s fingers like it had done earlier. He had let himself relax too much in the living room with only his sire and the person most deeply bonded to both of them. He needed to have better control of himself. 

“Ok, little one?” Yoongi asked, posture tense as his eyes flicked towards the bath. “We could do a shower instead if you wanted to, baby. Or nothing at all if you aren’t ready. Hyungs could use magic to make you feel better without any water.”

Jungkook’s heart melted a little. This man didn’t know him from Adam, and yet he was so clearly worried about Jungkook and so willing to accommodate him. Those emotions were genuine, Jungkook could feel them creeping through the mental link that had established itself much more firmly as soon as Jin’s blood passed Jungkook’s lips. It had been a long time since he’d met someone so genuinely kind.

He was also a little sad though. Because Yoongi’s immediate assumption that Jungkook had been traumatized when it came to water spoke of experience and the older man didn’t deserve that. Bonghwang were fire birds. Jungkook knew most of them had been hunted to extinction, and it made sense that hunters would use water, their natural weakness, against them. 

“No,” he responded, forcing his words not to come out as notes. “No, it’s ok. I want a bath.”

He met Yoongi’s eyes again and nodded surely. The bonghwang held his eyes for a few moments, evaluating, but eventually nodded. 

“Ok, sweet, are you ready to get in then?” Yoongi prompted gently. 

Jungkook’s eyes flicked to Hoseok, still hovering in the room, and to Yoongi himself, another perfect stranger. As much as the bond between them assured Jungkook he was safe, he didn’t particularly want to be naked in a room with two people he’d just met. 

“Baby, we can’t leave you alone, I’m so sorry,” Hoseok murmured, leaning against the counter near them. “You can have only one of us and any one of us would be happy to stay with you, but you may actually drown in the bath on your own right now. We can’t take that risk.”

That should actually be impossible for Jungkook, but he decided not to comment on it. Hoseok did make a good point anyway. While Jungkook’s magic hummed under his skin, it was barely in his control. He wasn’t entirely sure he would be able to switch into a form with gills before drowning, if he needed to do it quickly. 

There was just too much hovering right within his reach, too many secondary forms at the tip of his metaphorical fingers. Jungkook was no longer sure of his ability to pull out the ones he wanted from the muddle of everything else. 

“You don’t need to be naked,” Yoongi added. “And we could even just sit outside the closed curtain, but at least one of us needs to stay.”

Both of them were truly apologetic and again their solicitous behavior warmed Jungkook. They had no obligation to do anything more than feed him and throw him out, but here they were, taking care to worry about even the small things that might upset or inconvenience Jungkook. He was touched. 

“No, it’s ok,” he replied. “Boxers are the same thing as swimming shorts anyway. You’re right, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be awake.”

His magic was manic and may not let him rest, but Jungkook knew his body wouldn’t tolerate that for much longer. He was exhausted and immersing himself in his natural element had the potential to send him straight to sleep. It had been a long time since he was in the water, and he didn’t know how he would react now that his magic had been so drastically altered. It was safer to have people around in case something went wrong. 

Besides, Jungkook wasn’t particularly fussed about how he looked. He knew very well that his starved body was not attractive right now, but he usually worked hard to keep it in shape and wasn’t ashamed of the change that had been forced on him. 

And other than his weight, captivity had been fairly kind to him in terms of his appearance. There were very few actual physical marks left on Jungkook’s body from his long stint in the basement. For whatever reason, Reginald had preferred magical and mental pain to physical. Jungkook wasn’t terribly scared or disfigured. He had nothing to hide. 

Well, nothing except the state of his wings, but he wouldn’t be showing them anyway. His wings were still a mess of partially regrown feathers and ugly bare skin. They needed a lot of care, but Jungkook could sneak away to groom them at another time. He had always been shy about his wings, and that was especially true in contrast to the splendor of Yoongi’s. 

Jungkook’s wings were plain under the best circumstances and his wingspan had nowhere near the proportions of Yoongi’s. Now, plucked and sore from being restrained for so long, they were in a truly sorry state. Jungkook’s species didn’t even typically have wings anymore. His were a throwback to an earlier state of evolution and had been scorned by most everyone he spoke to. He had been a hybrid even before Reginald had hybridized him, a mix of old wings and the beautiful sleek scales his species was known for today. 

He was ashamed of them and wouldn’t have them out even if it meant proper grooming with someone’s help and healing balms. 

As for the rest of his body, Jungkook was modest, but not particularly body shy. As long as he wasn’t naked, he was fine with people coming and going as they pleased while he bathed. 

“Aw, baby, you don’t need to stay awake,” Hoseok cooed, scooping Jungkook off the counter and helping him stand on his barely steady feet while Yoongi worked open the buttons of his shirt. 

Jungkook wanted to protest that he could do that himself, but he could see that this meant something to Yoongi. In some way, the older man wasn’t just caring for Jungkook, but for someone else who he hadn’t been able to help so easily. Jungkook wouldn’t take that from him. 

Besides, he worried about his balance if he actually made an attempt to do anything for himself. He was just so frustratingly, terrifyingly weak. 

“Hyungs will take care of everything, you can sleep if you want,” Hoseok finished. 

Jungkook smiled shyly at the incubus to show that he’d heard, but was mostly focused on not falling as Yoongi shucked his pants. An easy cleaning charm took care of his boxers, and Yoongi otherwise left them alone as promised. 

He was thankful that Reginald had periodically given him new clothes. While the vampire hadn’t allowed Jungkook anywhere near water (correctly assessing that Jungkook could very much use it to his advantage), he’d thrown wet rags at him every now and then and given him new clothes a few times. Jungkook had never felt more disgusting in his entire life, but he knew it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it could’ve been. 

But that was about to be remedied. Almost before Jungkook knew what was happening, he was being lowered into the hot water of the bath. 

It took everything he had in him not to both immediately revert to some strange and unpredictable amalgamation of characteristics and also faint. He lost a few seconds while the older immortals got him situated in the tub. 

Lord but he had missed water. Jungkook didn’t indulge himself very often, but he had always made some time at least once every few weeks to find a deserted body of water and just exist as he was meant to be. He hadn’t realized how much he relied on that until it was suddenly torn away from him. 

To have any part of his body submerged in water again was so heavenly that he couldn’t help the tears that pricked at his eyes. He was vaguely aware of Hoseok clucking over him, and Yoongi’s calloused finger wiping away a few of the tears, but he could barely hear them over the roar of his magic. 

It sang within him in a way it usually only did when Jungkook was in natural bodies of water. He wanted so very badly to form his tail and let his scales soak. They were so, so dry. They itched even when he wasn’t in that form and were peeling in some places. It was terribly uncomfortable and Jungkook longed to just immerse them completely. 

Only the fact that he really couldn’t stopped him. The tub was actually not big enough for his tail and manafeting it now would lead to nothing more than frustration. It still took a huge amount of his concentration to maintain an entirely human form, however. 

Jungkook drifted, half aware of Yoongi’s careful hands wiping him down until he was replaced by Jin a few minutes later. His sire was almost more cautious with Jungkook, likely feeling the echo of Jungkook’s spacey headspace down their bond. 

The drifting got even worse at that point. Much as Jungkook may not have realized it, Jin had been throwing his magic very angrily against Reginald’s house these last few weeks, and that hurt Jungkook.

Jin was his sire and his magical displeasure was like a constant sting against Jungkook’s skin. In small doses, sires often used it as a quick corrective measure like swatting a naughty toddler. In larger doses, it was detrimental. 

Jin had ostensibly been fighting Reginald’s wards, but Jungkook’s proximity to them meant that he had been under the full force of his sire’s wrath nearly without end for a month. It had sparked along his skin, getting worse by the day. By the time Jin broke through the wards, it was like a severe sunburn that blistered across his entire body. 

Only the overtly calm magic of his sire could completely sooth away the linger effects of that. Jungkook hadn’t realized how much it was still bothering him until Jin returned and poured his happy, contented, possessive magic through the air of the bathroom. 

It was hard to hold on to any coherent thought when his magic felt like curling into Jin’s and holding on forever. 

Hoseok somehow got stuck with the job of washing Jungkook’s disgusting hair, and it was an ordeal Jungkook was glad not to have to deal with. 

He’d been afraid he would have to cut most of his hair off as it had been matted together in some places with the filth he’d been living in. It was a stupid thing for Jungkook to get worked up about given the circumstances, but he’d actually been truly upset when he realized it two weeks ago. 

The products Hoseok was using must be magic, however, because their power pricked against Jungkook’s scalp and they pulled the knots out of his hair like they’d never been there. 

Jungkook highly suspected that the incubus hadn’t even really needed to wash his hair a second time and had just gotten caught up in massaging his fingers through Jungkook’s hair. 

Jungkook certainly wasn’t complaining. If anything, he was struggling to hold back happy little chirps as he let his head loll bonelessly into Hoseok’s hands. 

“My own treasure, do you want to finish off?” Jin offered, nudging the loofah he’d been using into Jungkook’s hand. 

Jungkook startled a little. His eyes popped open and he sat up away from Hoseok’s hands. He blinked at the strangely bright light in the bathroom. It turned out he had not been quite as careful with his magic as he’d thought, because he was glowing. Again. The entire tub was lit from within with that strange iridescent glow from earlier and Jungkook couldn’t seem to make it stop even now that he realized he was doing it. 

He let it go. In the grand scheme of things, revealing his aura for a second time was really not something he needed to be concerned over. 

Instead he frowned down at the bathwater. 

“‘Ts’s clean,” he slurred, running his fingers through water that was as pure as it had been before his filthy body had been lowered into it. 

“It’s charmed, dear heart,” Yoongi explained softly. “Jimin doesn’t like cleaning the tub.” 

The fondness in his voice made Jungkook smile a little. Jimin may not have been overly kind to Jungkook, but he understood that. Jimin didn’t know Jungkook, and Jungkook was fully aware that he was the Seventh here. If he couldn’t learn to work with Taehyung, the Sixth, there would be issues. Jimin had to be displeased by the difficulties Taehyung faced. 

Yoongi adored Jimin and that made Jungkook absolutely determined to at least not anger the cherub. He couldn’t make Jimin like him, but he refused to be an inconvenience to him. 

Jungkook pulled his hand out of the water, barely aware of the unnatural way large drops clung when they should’ve rolled off his skin. Jin offered him the loofah once more, and Jungkook blinked at it, barely processing what he should do with it. 

He shook himself and finally took it from Jin to clean the parts of his body under the water. It was the work of mere seconds to finish washing himself, and then Jungkook was ready to get out. As much as he loved the water, he needed sleep. And he wasn’t sure how much longer his control would hold. 

Yoongi held him up this time as Jin dressed him. The clothes were much too fine for Jungkook and also a very delicate pink color that Jungkook couldn’t recall ever having worn before. 

“He would choose my favorite color too,” Jin muttered fondly as he soothed down the ruffled peter pan collar.

Jungkook had no idea what he was talking about, but his sire was pleased, so he didn’t worry about it too much. 

He lost time after that. He knew he was moving, tucked in small against Jin’s chest. But he blinked and Jin was setting him down in a bed softer than a cloud. There were a few moments of rustling as Jungkook sank into the mattress and the lull of sleep, but nothing he needed to pay attention to. Jin arranged blankets and smoothed back his hair. 

Jungkook was comfortable for the first time in a month. He was clean, his magic was settling at last, and he was finally, finally warm. He sighed in contentment and let the world slip away. 

Chapter Text

Namjoon was very used to being the first person awake from the nest. Yoongi and Jimin preferred late nights to early mornings. Tae was unpredictable, sometimes up with the sun, and sometimes just going to bed as it peeked over the horizon. Hobi and Jin were both morning people, but rarely rose quite as early as Namjoon. Despite the fact that most of them didn’t need to sleep, it was habit, and they generally tried to get at least a few hours every day. 

This morning had been unusually busy. Tae and Jimin had both dragged themselves out of bed before the sun even came up to meet their vampire customer, despite the fact that Namjoon had offered to do it for them. He was more than capable of helping a single baby vamp get the herbs his nest needed. But Jimin and Tae were extremely possessive of their little shop and refused to let the hyungs help unless they were desperate. As spoiled as the two of them were, Namjoon supposed it was their way of maintaining their independence and sense of accomplishment. They never had to do anything for themselves, and this was the one exception. Their sense of ownership and responsibility for their shop was important to them, even when it meant they had to get up at ungodly hours of the morning. 

Namjoon had already seen them down into the shop and then straight back  into their beds afterwards. With all the excitement of the night before, Namjoon suspected that Taehyung hadn’t slept very well because Jimin dragged the pixie right back up the stairs as soon as they locked the door behind their customer. Namjoon didn’t expect to see them again for at least a few more hours. 

In fact, even Jin and Hoseok were unlikely to get out of bed for at least an hour, and Namjoon expected to have the house to himself. 

So when he turned around to a figure hovering uncertainly in the doorway, he jumped and accidentally crushed the coffee cup in his hands. Long used to dealing with his own strength-caused incidents, Namjoon instinctively dropped the broken cup rather than gripping it even harder and cutting his hands. It had taken Jin a long time to train that instinct into him, but the vampire had been very determined, and they’d gotten there eventually. As soon as something began cracking in his hands, Namjoon dropped it. 

The shatter of the glass on the floor made the person at the doorway cringe and cower back, then start forward with concern on his features. 

“No, it’s ok, little one,” Namjoon said, holding out a hand to halt the baby. “Don’t come any closer, you might cut yourself.”

Jin hadn’t put any shoes on the baby last night, and Namjoon at least had slippers on. Besides, with how many things Namjoon had broken over the years, it would be shameful if he hadn’t learned to fix crockery by this time. 

He crouched and held his hands over the biggest shards of the mug. It was a matter of seconds before every tiny grain of glass collected from across the kitchen and solidified back into a whole cup. Good as new. Namjoon picked it up and put it straight in the sink. Fixed didn’t mean clean after all. 

“Do you want some coffee, Jungkookie?” Namjoon offered, turning to grab another cup and smiling at the fledgling. 

“I-I’m so sorry,” the baby stuttered. “I-I didn’t mean to scare you I just-”

“It’s ok,” Namjoon repeated with another little smile for the nestling. “Really, I break things all the time. There’s a reason that spell only takes me seconds. And you didn’t really scare me, I just wasn’t expecting anyone else to be up yet and you startled me a little.”

That was entirely true. Namjoon always felt safe in their home. The very difficulty Jin had had breaking into the wards around Jungkook did nothing but reassure him more. No one was getting into their house uninvited without plenty of forewarning. 

“Coffee?” he added, waving around the mug. 

“Yes please,” the fledgling agreed quietly, sneaking a few steps closer now that there was no glass on the floor. “Can I-is it ok for me to get food?”

“Oh, yeah sure!” Namjoon agreed enthusiastically, cheerfully grabbing a knife from the chopping block and pressing the tip to his skin. He certainly was not going to be discouraging the baby from eating anytime soon. If Jungkook was hungry, Namjoon would very happily feed him. 

“Wait, wait !” the little one cried, flinging his hands out to stop Namjoon. 

Namjoon looked up, still holding the knife to his arm with a puzzled frown. 

Jungkook’s eyes were blown wide and his hands were shaking slightly, still held out in front of him. He looked tremendously upset and Namjoon had no idea what was even wrong. He put the knife down with a concerned frown, startled when Jungkook immediately relaxed. The nestling’s hands dropped, and Jungkook leaned against the nearest counter. 

“I didn’t mean blood ,” the baby murmured, still looking at him with wide eyes. “I would never just ask that from you.”

Namjoon frowned deeper and walked over to hook a supportive arm around the fledgling’s waist, taking some of Jungkook’s weight. The little one sagged into him, still so terribly weak. Namjoon desperately wished he would just drink. It wouldn’t fix everything, but a full stomach could go a long way towards helping Jungkook heal. 

He scooped the baby up and carried him over to the breakfast nook, ignoring the startled little gasp from the fledgling. 

“Cream in your coffee, sweetheart?” Namjoon asked, waiting to address the myriad of issues in what Jungkook had just said until the little one was more settled. 

“Please,” Jungkook agreed timidly. 

Namjoon smiled at him again and patiently fixed two cups of coffee before moving back to the nook. He set both cups on the counter, then slid a sugar dish over to Jungkook and set the knife down next to his own cup. 

Jungkook eyed the knife warily, but took his coffee with a quiet thank you.

Namjoon waited until the baby had added a frankly ridiculous amount of sugar to his coffee and taken a few sips before he spoke again. 

“Jungkookie, I will get you any food you want, but you have to understand that it won’t actually help your hunger,” he said. It was true too. Namjoon would get Jungkook whatever he asked for, though it would probably involve waking Jin since he was banned from doing anything more than making sandwiches in Jin’s kitchen. But it really wouldn’t do anything for the fledgling. Jungkook needed blood. 

The little one cradled his coffee cup and peeked out at Namjoon from behind its rim. A flush stained his cheeks and he looked almost afraid. 

“And I very much do not like to hear that you wouldn’t ask for blood,” Namjoon continued seriously. “I know it’s a much more intimate way of getting food than you’re used to, and it might seem like a difficult thing to ask for, but you have been starved and you need food, little one. Blood is food.”

“It’s part of somebody else’s body and literally essential to their lives,” Jungkook objected quietly, putting his coffee down. “I don’t have the right to ask for them to give that up. I’m not a savage.”

“Oh, sweetheart, I know ,” Namjoon comforted, reaching out to lay a hand on top of Jungkook’s. Clearly Jimin’s comment last night had hit where it hurt with the fledgling, and Namjoon felt a tiny portion of the irritation that he’d felt form Jin and Yoongi last night settle in his own heart. Food was obviously going to be a sensitive topic for the nestling for a while. 

“But you need to understand that we would a hundred times rather have you feed from us than that you go hungry. We are willing and happy to give you our blood, and it hurts me that you would rather go hungry than take mine.”

That was maybe a little bit of a manipulative, but Namjoon was entirely ok with that if it got the fledgling to eat. Jungkook needed sustenance. 

“What, no wait,” the baby babbled, tripping over his words as he tried to reassure Namjoon. “That’s not why-it isn’t that I don’t want your blood, I just-.”

Namjoon internally smirked, watching his plan work perfectly until Jungkook fisted a hand in his own hair and tugged on it quite hard. 

“Oh hey, no, no, baby.” Namjoon grabbed his wrist and gently untangled the fledgling’s fingers, tangling them with his own. “Don’t hurt yourself, sweetheart.” He kissed the little one’s knuckles and massaged his fingers a little. 

“I don’t want to make you feel obligated to give me something that you might not want to give me,” Jungkook finally got out. “If I say that I’m hungry, you feel like you have to feed me.”

“No,” Namjoon said firmly. “Actually I want to feed you, and at this point I want it all the time ,” he met the fledgling’s shocked eyes head on. “Look at this,” Namjoon prompted, sliding his grip up Jungkook’s arm to completely enclose the baby’s bicep with a single hand. The chagrin on the nestling’s face made his heart ache. 

“You aren’t healthy right now, Jungkook,” Namjoon said seriously. “I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but you’ve been starved and your body needs to recover from that. The only way to do that is to let us feed you.”

“I-I can’t just take so much blood,” the baby almost whimpered, turning his head away. Namjoon dropped his hand to sit on Jungkook’s hip instead, point made. 

“That’s fine,” Namjoon comforted. “Just a few mouthfuls at a time, whatever you’re comfortable with. But that means multiple feedings over the day, and we need to be able to trust you to tell us when you’re hungry, baby.”

Jungkook looked back towards him, a very vulnerable expression on his face. “I’m always hungry.”

It was barely a whisper and it still stabbed straight into Namjoon’s heart. 

“You won’t always be hungry once we get you healed up a little bit,” he promised. “But for right now, it would be helpful to know how long we have to wait between feedings.”

Once they got Jungkook eating, they would be more than able to monitor the little one’s intake. They wouldn’t need Jungkook to tell them when he was hungry, because they would be able to anticipate it once they knew how fast his metabolism was and how much blood he needed to be full. It was just going to be this first period of getting the fledgling back on a healthy eating schedule and figuring out how his body worked that were going to be difficult. 

“Four hours,” Jungkook answered immediately. 

Namjoon blinked, startled that there was such a definite answer in the nestling’s head. 

“I can take a little from as many people as I want, but I can’t feed from the same person unless it’s been four hours.”

Again, Namjoon mentally frowned despite the encouraging smile he sent the baby. That was an extremely strict time table and Namjoon highly doubted that Jungkook had imposed it himself. The fledging seemed more concerned with making sure people had time to recover between feedings and that he wasn’t harming the people he drank from. Four hours was not enough time to recuperate the lost blood for most creatures. Therefore, four hours was not a schedule Jungkook had set for himself. 

That begged the question of how it had been so deeply ingrained into him. Namjoon knew magic could do a lot of things, but he was a little sick just thinking about the conditioning the little one must’ve gone through for that idea to stick so deeply.

“So you could eat from me now,” he suggested, keeping a light tone for the baby’s sake. “It’s been hours since you fed from anyone, and I would feel much better if you would take a bit of my blood.”

“I just wanted some fruit,” Jungkook whispered, staring at the knife sitting next to Namjoon’s hand. 

“We have plenty of fruit!” Namjoon enthused. “And I will happily get you some. But please, won’t you drink first.”

He fixed the baby with a rare pout, hoping it was convincing. 

“You’re so pretty,” the nestling blurted again. “But yes,” he added as his cheeks flushed, “I-I could take blood now if you are willing.”

Namjoon reeled a little bit as he did every time someone mentioned his looks. It usually felt like a pointed snub, especially in contrast with the rest of the nest and their ethereal looks. Namjoon was more than aware that the others possessed the kind of beauty that people would kill for. The same kind Namjoon himself had once worn with a carelessness that belied its power. It still hurt to think about it, would always hurt, most likely. 

But with Jungkook, the sting of bitterness and resentment was missing. The fledgling honestly didn’t seem to be making a backhanded comment about Namjoon’s plain looks in contrast to the rest of the nest. Jungkook really truly thought that Namjoon himself was pretty. Namjoon absolutely did not understand it, but it had been so long since someone looked at him with no pity in their eyes and complimented his beauty. 

He didn’t know how to feel about it, so he ignored it for the time being and just grabbed the knife while Jungkook was still willing to drink from him. All of Jin’s knives were spelled or made out of specific materials to be able to cut nearly anything, and that included Namjoon. Namjoon didn’t ask why Jin felt the need to have even his kitchenware enchanted six ways to Sunday and ready to be used to defend the nest at a moment's notice. He had a feeling he wouldn’t like the answer. 

Jungkook looked so very apprehensive as Namjoon palmed the knife that Namjoon wanted to coo at him. Instead he slid off of his stool and walked around to stand behind Jungkook, bracing the nestling against his chest. The baby’s body went tense as Namjoon made a shallow cut in his own skin, but he waited until Namjoon had set the knife down and offered his bleeding arm to move. 

“Go on, sweet boy,” Namjoon encouraged, wrapping an arm around Jungkook’s waist. 

It was all the encouragement the little one needed to finally lean in and drink a little bit. 

Feeding for a fledgling vampire was traditionally a very intimate act. It was supposed to bond the little one to their new nest and accustom them to the touch of their elders. In the modern world, that idea had lost favor, just as the rite of First Blood had. Rarely did nests assert that fledglings drank only from them when it was so easy to just let them choose from the several other options that were available for them. 

Jin would undoubtedly demand that Jungkook not drink from anyone outside their nest. Jin was raised with the mentality that feeding was intimate and he would not have his childe drinking from anyone but those he deemed fit. 

Perhaps, when Jungkook was older, he may consider blood bags if they were in a desperate situation, but no one outside of the nest would ever feed Jungkook from their own living veins. 

That knowledge sparked a sort of possessiveness in Namjoon as well. He wasn’t a vampire and didn’t instinctively loathe the idea of Jungkook drinking from another person like Jin did, but some of that emotion still got washed down their bond. Jin made feeding special, so it was special for the whole nest, not just Jin himself. 

Besides, fledglings tended to get quite vulnerable while feeding. Most of them focused on the blood to the exclusion of all else and became very relaxed while drinking. They were not on their guard against outside danger when eating. 

The second characteristic fit Jungkook to a tee. The little one sagged back again Namjoon and his (unnecessary) breathing slowed down. 

His body was uncommonly warm for a fledgling against Namjoon’s chest and he nestled into the bulk of Namjoon’s body as though he was cold. Some fledglings liked the illusion of normality that items like socks, coats, and blankets gave them in their new immortal state. Namjoon made a mental note to try offering a few things to Jungkook to see if the nestling could still find comfort in human amenities. 

But the little one was also not like a normal fledgling in that he didn’t drown in a haze of blood while feeding. His mind felt clear and bright when Namjoon brushed up against it, and Namjoon had seen the way his eyes constantly darted around the room when he drank from Tae yesterday. 

Something had made Jungkook feel unsafe while he was feeding, and Namjoon had no idea how that was possible when the nestling had never even been fed before Jin did it yesterday. To  overrule one of the base instincts of his species, the danger must’ve been enormous. Namjoon hated to even think about it. 

Jungkook took a little more blood form Namjoon than he had last night, but not by much. After only a few sips, the baby sat back and gripped the edges of the counter to stop himself from leaning in again. 

“Thank you,” he said, voice a little higher and breathier than usual with the rush of Namjoon’s magic saturated blood. 

“Of course, little love,” Namjoon cooed, kissing Jungkook’s temple and gently pulling away once he was sure the baby could support himself. “Now, what kind of fruit would you like?”

And if Jin would kill him later for the mess he made trying to cut up a mango after Jungkook said he’d never had one? Well, the soft smile on the nestling’s face and the pure gratitude shining in his eyes was more than enough to make up for a little scolding.

Chapter Text

Hoseok was honestly surprised to see that the fledgling was already awake when he entered the kitchen the next morning. He stopped in the middle of a yawn, shocked out of his sleepiness by the unexpected addition to what was usually a time for just him and Namjoon. 

"Oh!" he gasped. "Good morning, little one! I didn't expect to see you up and about so early!"

Jungkook ducked his head shyly, cradling a bowl in his hands almost possessively. "Good morning," he murmured back. 

Hoseok glanced around the fairly destroyed kitchen, deliberately removing his attention from Jungkook because he wanted the baby to be comfortable with food. Whatever was in that bowl wouldn’t actually nourish the nestling, but any progress was good progress at this point. 

“What-,” he began, starting around almost dazed when he realized the state of the room. “Joon, did you try to cook again?”

 Jin would be furious. Namjoon had been so securely banned from the kitchen that Jin had only just removed the magic physically restraining him from the various dangers in the room. Jin let Namjoon move around as he liked because the Fourth got up earlier than the rest of them and wanted to make coffee. Joon generally stuck to the few things he was capable of making without issue, and Jin trusted him with that. 

Except apparently not this morning, because half the counters were covered in sticky juice, and some kind of peel. There was a glass in the sink that Hoseok suspected had been broken, a knife left haphazardly on the very edge of a cutting board, and the stack of bowls was visibly askew. 

This was where Hook headed first, absentmindedly straightening them out as he pulled out a mug for himself. 

“So what if I did?” Namjoon answered shiftily, glancing towards the bowl in Jungkook’s hands. “I can cook if I want to.”

Hoseok took his cue instantly. He wouldn’t make a big deal out of it when it might upset Jungkook. If the little one thought he had caused any trouble, he might not ask for food again, and that was the exact opposite of what they wanted right now. 

“Of course you can, lover,” he agreed smoothly, snagging Namjoon around the waist on his way to the coffee machine and kissing him playfully. “But you do generally choose not to.”

“Fledging first,” Namjoon demanded, stealing the mug from his hands and pushing him towards the baby once he broke the kiss. “It’s been an hour since he ate anything.”

Hoseok relinquished it easily, more concerned with this turn of events. “Oh, did you feed from Joonie again, sweetheart? That’s wonderful to hear!”

He had been concerned that Jungkook would refuse to feed from them indefinitely after the extremely limited amount of blood he’d taken from each of them earlier. The nestling’s restraint was admirable, but unconceivable. Hoseok still suspected that some kind of magic was behind it, and learning the rules of that spell would be helpful. 

The baby huddled around his bowl again as Hoseok approached, shielding his food once more. 

“What has Joonie given you now?” Hoseok asked gently, refusing to ignore how invested Jungkook was in the food, and wanting to assure the little one that he wasn’t going to take it. 

The fledgling gripped the bowl tighter, but then reluctantly relinquished it, like he was expecting Hoseok to force it away from him. “-t’s fruit,” he murmured almost grudgingly. He flexed his fingers, and then deliberately folded his hands in his lap away from the food. 

“Baby has never had mango before,” Namjoon elaborated in a faux cheerful tone.  Hoseok could hear the tension underneath it, feel the anger and horror simmering just beneath the surface. It was a wonder Hoseok’s mug hadn’t shattered in the Fourth’s hand.

Hoseok reached delicately into the bowl and pulled out a piece of the sticky fruit. “They are the best when you grow them yourself,” Hoseok mused, aware of the way the baby was hyper-focused on him. Jungkook twisted his hands together in his laps and visibly restrained himself. “This was a good choice, Joonie. Baby should only eat the best of everything.”

He proffered the piece in his hand to the little one. Big eyes widened further in surprise, and the nestling seemed almost suspicious. He didn’t move for a moment. Hoseok met his gaze calmly, taking care to exude nothing but relaxed contentment. Who knew how sensitive the baby was to their mooods? It might help, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt. 

“Eat up, darling,” Hoseok encouraged, pressing the mango to the baby’s lips this time. “This won’t nourish you, but it still tastes good. And then you can have a bit of a break for some real food, if you’ll have me.”

Eyes still fixed unblinkingly on Hoseok, the little one almost hesitantly opened his mouth. His eyebrows went up in shock when Hoseok actually pushed the fruit into his mouth instead of pulling it away. The spoon in Namjoon’s hand bent under his fingers and Hoseok struggled to maintain the calm facade for the baby. 

How many times had someone stolen food right out from under the little one? 

Hoseok set the thought aside to smile at the fledgling, who was still fixated on him as he ate the fruit. 

“It’s good, isn’t it?” he asked, getting nothing more than a little nod in return. “These are some of Taehyung’s favorites. He gets a lot of his nourishment from different kinds of fruits and berries. Pixies, you know. That’s almost all he eats.”

Taehyung’s diet was entirely vegetarian. While he could eat a large variety of foods, berries were the natural fare of his species, and he preferred them over pretty much nothing else. Fruit was barely lower on the list of Tae’s favorites than berries. 

“He’ll be upset,” the fledgling murmured, suddenly pouting in distress and pushing the bowl away. 

“Over one fruit?” Namjoon questioned incredulously. “With the amount of food Jin-hyung makes sure is available to his babies at all times? I think not.”

“It would be a miracle if he even noticed, little one,” Hoseok assured him. “It’s not like our baby needs to worry about how much food there is in the house.”

“But speaking of babies and food,” Namjoon added. “Our littlest can feed in four hour periods for each of us. You haven’t fed him since last night, so-“

“I-I’m not an infant,” Jungkook objected, stuttering, but determined. “You don’t need to plan out feedings for me like it’s your responsibility to make sure I eat.”

It was the most vehement Hoseok had yet seen him in opposition to any of them, and it was still barely a protest. His little hands shook in his lap again, and he bit his lip, huddling into himself like he expected to be hurt for expressing himself. 

There was a moment of silence, then Hoseok slipped a hand under the baby’s chin and gently directed it up again. 

“Sweetness, we are a traditional nest. Do you understand what that means?” he asked gently. 

“You don’t break apart,” Jungkook answered immediately. “Your nest follows the early principles of magic rather than adapting to more modern conveniences.”

“Very good,” Hoseok approved, stroking a finger along the little one’s jawline. “But I don’t think you understand all of those principles.”

“One of the most important is that we cherish each other,” Namjoon explained, sidling up next to Hoseok to lean against the counter. “Traditional nests are bound by a network of magic interlinking us. You’ve felt that already. That doesn’t just spring out of nowhere. Magic is essentially part of our souls, and it will refuse to bond closely without an emotional bond between magic users.”

“We nurture each other because we care about each other, but also because it fosters the magic binding us together,” Hoseok continued. “This is especially important in the beginning of our interactions with a nestmate.”

“Our babies are very cosseted because we want them to be, but also because it helps our magic connect. It goes both ways, of course,” Namjoon added. “The little ones like to do what they can to spoil us in return.”

Hoseok knew he was echoing Namjoon’s somewhat sappy smile, but he couldn’t help it. It was just so adorable when the maknaes tried to care for hyungs. Babies should be pampered all the time, but Hoseok was always touched when they tried to turn the tables. 

“It’s important for us as a traditional nest to form that kind of bond with you as well, Jungkookie,” Hoseok told him. “But even if we were not a traditional nest, it would actually still be our responsibility to make sure you’re fed, if nothing else.”

“Jin-hyung is your sire,” Namjoon said. “By law, he is responsible for controlling your hunger and providing adequate food for you for at least five years.”

“Not that Hyung would ever let a silly little thing like laws determine how he treats his only fledgling,” Hoseok snorted. “The laws only give him the pretext he needs to keep you close and care for you. Jinnie tends to get attached quite easily.”

“What all of this boils down to,” Namjoon finished, “is that it is both our responsibility and our pleasure to make sure you have what you need. You will never be entirely separate from our nest, Jungkook. You are ours and have been from the second you were turned. We would like to build that legal and magical connection into a real relationship, if you will let us.”

“You never asked for this,” the baby murmured, trying to turn his head away again. Hoseok tightened his grip on the nestling’s chin to forbid movement. 

“That doesn’t mean we can’t want it now,” he said firmly. 

“You can’t want me when you don’t even know me,” Jungkook objected. It wasn’t even bitter, just logical and pragmatic. That made it hurt all the more. 

“We know you’ve been hurt,” Namjoon said. “We want to help you heal from that. And we want the chance to choose for ourselves if we want you once we’re a little more informed.”

For Jimin or Tae, this would be akin to an outright rejection. They would need to be reassured endlessly that they weren’t unwelcome and would be loved no matter what. But Hoseok understood why Namjoon didn’t immediately rush to counter Jungkook’s insecurities. 

The baby had seen too much. He wasn’t as entirely protected from negativity as Jimin and Taehyung. The nestling was far too well acquainted with reality to be swayed by pretty flatteries. His insecurities weren’t so easily soothed away. 

Jungkook knew he hadn’t been chosen, and Hoseok already anticipated that would be a huge hurdle to overcome with their newest baby. But they had infinite time and patience. They would build Jungkook back up, given the opportunity. 

“As much as we are willing to get to know you, we would appreciate it if you did the same,” Hoseok said. “Relationships run two ways, after all.”

“Just seems like it’s only been running in my favor so far,” Jungkook answered, biting his lip again. “It’s hardly fair.”

“It’s not meant to be, baby,” Hoseok said, pressing his thumb along the nestling’s bottom lip to set it free. “Right now a lot of the physical manifestations of our relationship are going to be from our side. You’re weak and sick right now. We will be the ones to nurse you back to health. You will drink our blood and live in a house provided by us .”

“What you can offer in return, is emotional and magical,” Namjoon suggested. “We don’t need anything physically, but Tae needs a bond with the Seventh, and we need to get acquainted with our last nestmate. Let us in magically and emotionally, and we will happily fulfill our physical end of things.”

They would do that anyway, of course, but it was important that Jungkook felt like he was part of the effort of forming relationships. That he had some choice, responsibility, and agency. Hoseok could already tell that this little one wouldn’t be content to sit back and let himself be adored like Jimin and Taehyung could sometimes. 

The baby fumbled with his own fingers, rubbing them against his pretty silk pajamas and clacking his nails together. He looked deeply into Hoseok's face, and then Namjoon’s.

Eventually, finally , he gave in. 

“Ok,” he conceded. “Ok. I can do that. Thank you.” 

Hoseok felt a pulse of that down the bond as well, and nearly fell over. Jungkook shouldn’t be able to use that already. Perhaps Hoseok had underestimated just how deeply the little one’s magic was already twined with Yoongi and Jin. 

“Good boy,” he praised softly. “Thank you for accepting us.” He let go of the baby’s chin with only one last caress. 

Jungkook flushed pretty pink, a reaction which Hoseok tucked away for further exploration later, but didn’t let himself dwell on it too much. 

“So now it’s breakfast time!” he exclaimed. He hooked an arm around the baby’s waist and lifted. Jungkook gave a little squeak as he was suddenly airborne, but it was a short-lived sensation, because Hoseok plopped himself down on Jungkook’s stool and settled the little one precariously in his lap. He had a sure grip on the fledgeling, and Jungkook’s slight weight wouldn’t upset his balance, but it was likely not a position the nestling was used to. 

Hoseok used Jungkook’s momentary flailing to slit open his own arm and get it in the fledgling’s mouth almost before Jungkook knew what was happening. The baby gave a little gasp of surprise, but that only resulted in more blood for him. 

Hoseok chuckled fondly and pet Jungkook’s hair again as the nestling settled in. “So every four hours?” he confirmed with Namjoon. “That means at least one of us an hour,” he concluded happily when the Fourth nodded. “Hopefully it won’t take too long before you can be up and playing with the other maknaes, darling.”

Jungkook hummed softly, and took one more pull of blood before reluctantly pulling away. Hoseok had learned better than to push him by this time, but he replaced his arm with another piece of fruit almost before the fledgling had finished licking the traces of blood off his lips. 

Jungkook blinked and jerked a little, but it seemed he was also learning, because he took the food without complaint and continued to eat what Hoseok fed him. Hoseok chattered softly with Namjoon, deliberately distracting Jungkook through the process. It was easier to get him to eat when he wasn’t focused on it. 

In other circumstances, the little kitten flick of the nestling’s tongue would be pleasurable for Hoseok. In fact, he could even feed off of this kind of action if there was enough tension behind it. For now, he felt nothing more than warm contentment and the pleasure of caring for a nestmate. Magic stirred lazily between them, twining together with no urgency, but utter intimacy. 

They fell into a kind of lull. Namjoon and Hoseok sipped idly at their coffee. Hoseok nuzzled little kisses into Jungkook hair. The baby got progressively more relaxed until he was leaning into Hoseok, eyes half lidded and lips parting for more fruit almost before he’d finished chewing. 

And then a flare of absolute panic flew between them, and a door slammed upstairs. 

Hoseok exchanged a wry look with Namjoon. It seemed Jin was awake. 

Chapter Text

Jin still maintained that his reaction to waking up with an empty bed and missing childe was completely rational and normal. Yes, maybe most sires would not go tearing out of their rooms, slamming the door into the wall so hard it got stuck in the plaster and screaming at the top of their lungs for the nest to help them find the baby, but Jin was not most sires. 

How was he supposed to know that the little one had only gone wandering down to Joon for food? 

He did regret a little bit that he’d woken up the entire rest of the house with his yelling. Actually, to be fair, the jolt of absolute panic he’d felt when he realized Jungkook was nowhere to be found might’ve been what got them all moving so quickly. It was certainly not a pleasant way to wake up. 

Jin’s screaming, which only increased in volume when he found not only his fledgling, but the absolutely destroyed kitchen, could not have been any more pleasant of a follow up. To be fair, however, his nest was so used to his occasional shouting that half of them rolled over and mostly went back to sleep as soon as they realized there was no danger. 

Jin himself was not nearly so calm. The frantic wash of his magic through the entire kitchen, but especially over Jungkook’s body to check for damage made the windows rattle just the tiniest bit. The nestling looked entirely nonplussed and went almost limp in Hoseok’s lap at the overwhelming rush of his sire’s magic. 

Jin had nearly calmed down for a second until he registered the state of the rest of the room and his blood pressure shot through the roof again. It had been a long time since he’d seen Namjoon look so sheepish, almost like a nestling again himself. He’d scuffed his foot against the ground and made several useless gestures to try to help clean up until Jin chased him out of the room with a few good swats. 

Hoseok grinned fondly watching them, but Jungkook looked concerned and almost guilty. Jin puzzled over it a second before his eyes caught the empty bowl in front of the fledgling with orange stains that matched the juice slathered around the rest of the kitchen. His heart melted. Of course Namjoon would brave Jin’s displeasure but also destroy the kitchen in an attempt to feed the baby. That was such a very Namjoon thing to do. He made sure the Fourth got a full dose of the fondness filling his heart, and then turned to survey his kitchen with his hands on his hips and lips pursed. 

He set to work cleaning things up, muttering to himself the whole time about babies who didn’t understand what it meant when they were put to bed and little ones who never learned to handle his cookware correctly. 

His attitude was intimidating to exactly no one , and he knew it, but he wasn’t truly upset. The scare wasn’t a pleasant way to wake up, but everyone was fine. 

“I’m sorry, Sire,” a quiet voice broke into his grumpy musings. 

“What?” Jin asked, head whipping around at the true contrition in that tone. His nest knew him well enough by now to know that he was nowhere near truly worked up. Hell, Yoongi hadn’t bothered to get his lazy ass out of bed yet. Jin could feel his placid amusement even from here and it made him want to remind the bonghwang that Jin could magically slap him even from here

But he’d sort of forgotten that there was one person in the house who was not used to his rather singular brand of love quite yet. 

“It’s my fault,” the baby said quietly. “I didn’t think that it might worry you if I was gone when you woke, and I asked Hyung for food.”

His head was tipped down in shame and he ran his thumbnail anxiously underneath his index finger. Jin made a mental note to cut them later, because the fledgling was pressing worryingly hard. Hoseok’s arm tightened around the baby’s waist for comfort, and the Third gently grabbed the nestling’s hands to hold them still. 

“No, that’s not what this is about,” Jin protested, pouting at the little one. “I’m trying to be annoyed right now, don’t try to cute your way through this.”

Jungkook flinched a little, taken aback. Jin could feel his uncertainty without even needing the hesitant posture and lip biting. He sighed and leaned across the breakfast nook to press down on the fledgling’s bottom lip before he cut it on his little teeth again. 

“Hyung is not angry,” Hoseok explained as Jin busied himself with brushing Jungkook’s hair back and kissing his face several times. “Hyung likes to pretend he’s really upset when Joon does this to his kitchen, but we all know he’s all bark and no bite. Hyung is soft for us.”

“See how soft you think I am the next time I decide you need to be punished,” Jin muttered, still leaving soft little pecks all over the baby’s face. “You’re grown now, sweet boy, but don’t think that will get you off.”

“Hyung’s hand is not soft for us,” Hobi corrected, chuckling a little even as he side-eyed the palm Jin was now running through the little one’s hair. 

Jin smiled serenely. No indeed it was not. Adorable his darlings might be, but that wasn’t going to save them from a punishment if they really needed one. And besides, they only tended to get more precious after he’d turned them over his knee and spanked a lovely pink into their backsides. They got so pouty afterwards, too, looking at him with those big sad eyes and petulant accusation. It was incredibly endearing. 

“But the rest of him is,” Hoseok finished. “He just likes to grumble.” 

“I mostly just like to grumble,” Jin siad. “I am honestly concerned right now that you decide it was safe for you to go down the stairs on your own in the condition you’re in, Treasure. It’s not safe, and you could’ve fallen so easily.”

“I, well, I kind of didn’t,” the fledgling denied, cheeks turning a pretty pink. “I mean, I did come down alone,” he amended when he saw Jin’s raised eyebrow. “But I didn’t really—”

He cut himself off, but his mind was filled with the absolutely precious memory of how exactly he’d managed to get to the kitchen that morning. Jungkook was weak. He shouldn’t be on his feet unsupervised, let alone braving the stairs. Jin had thought the baby would realize that on his own and stay on the second floor, not legitimately sit down on the steps and scoot his little butt down them. 

Jin did not fight the urge to coo at all and leaned in once more to pepper the nestling’s face with yet more kisses. He felt Yoongi turning onto his stomach to bury his face in his pillow and kick his feet furiously against the bed at the sheer cuteness. His Second liked to pretend he was unaffected by adorable things. He was not. 

“Good boy, precious,” Jin praised. “That was a good choice. I would have preferred if you would just wake me up to help, but that was a good solution when you were hungry and couldn’t get down the stairs. I’m not mad that you got out of bed without permission. You don’t need permission.”

“I’m also not annoyed that Joon got you food. My sweetheart is more than smart enough to know that you shouldn’t be up and about yet, and of course he wasn’t going to make you wait until I got up for normal food either. I’m not annoyed or at all upset that he fed you.”

“I am a little irritated that he never bothered to learn how to use a kitchen ,” he finished, raising his voice so that Namjoon could hear him from the next room, but smiling fondly at the little yelp that got in response. “But that’s pretty well established by now anyway. My baby never could get the hang of it.”

“It gives hyung a reason to squawk, and Jin likes cooking anyway,” Hoseok said. “So honestly it’s a win win all around.”

“You are bold this morning,” Jin murmured, lightly patting the Third’s cheek. “Watch that pretty mouth, dear heart, or I’ll find something better to do with it.”

Hoseok stuck out his tongue, and Jin playfully chased it back into Hoseok’s mouth with his own. They kissed deeply for a few seconds over the baby’s head, Jin purposely letting himself get lost in the sensation because that made it easier for Hoseok to feed. 

It had been a little while since the incubus had the chance to take his fill. They’d been so caught up in searching for Jungkook that a few other things had fallen to the wayside. Hoseok wasn’t going hungry, of course, but it had been awhile since they really indulged him. Jin made a mental note to make sure it happened soon.

When Jin looked up, he caught sight of Jimin lingering in the doorway, staring around almost dazed at the mess. He was still half asleep, but Jin hadn’t failed to notice the way he’d nearly fallen out of bed when Jin first panicked. 

His face fell into a grumpy little pout as he finally looked over at the three of them huddled around the island. 

“‘M  hungry,” he whined, knowing full well that every single one of his hyungs would immediately respond to that with a plethora of food options. 

“Would you like a snack while I make breakfast, darling?” Jin asked, already turning towards the fridge to get started on food. 

“No,” Jimin harrumphed. “But coffee.”

He leaned around Hoseok to snatch at the Third’s mug, knowing Hoseok took his coffee as black as Jimin himself did. This put him well within Jungkook’s space,and the fledgling jolted back in Hoseok’s lap to avoid touching any part of Jimin. 

Jin felt the vague guilt stirring in Jimin and saw the cherub’s eyes narrow in indecision. Jimin contemplated to himself for a few seconds, nursing Hoseok’s coffee and glowering into its depths. 

“Here,” the Fifth said, abruptly sticking his arm right into Jungkook’s face like he expected the baby to know what to do with it. 

Jin paused, watching his little ones interact. This was a delicate situation, and it could very quickly tip in a bad direction if something went wrong. 

Jungkook froze, staring from Jimin’s arm to the cherub himself in utter confusion. His eyes weren’t, as Jin would’ve expected, fixed on the clear expanse of skin along Jimin’s forearm. Instead, he seemed captivated by the bracelet jingling on the Fifth’s wrist. 

Jimin shook his arm imperiously at the lack of action, repeating the invitation non-verbally with an insistent expression.

“Thank you?” Jungkook almost asked, sliding the bracelet off of Jimin’s wrist. 

Jin very nearly smacked himself in the face. 

“What?” Jimin asked, looking from Jungkook to the bracelet the fledgling was now utterly transfixed with. Jungkook held the silver up to the light, admiring the way it glinted and sparkled. 

“No,” Jimin scolded, almost annoyed. “You’re supposed to drink.”

Jungkook’s attention immediately refocused, but his fingers clenched around the band. “Oh.” He went to hand the bracelet back, but Jimin waved him off impatiently, offering his arm again. Jin knew that Jimin had more than enough jewelry to be able to spare a bracelet without a second thought. That wasn’t what was important to the cherub right now. 

“I’m not going to bite you,” Jungkook denied, a hurt little pout springing to his lips. “You don’t have to give me blood so that I don’t bite you.”

“Please,” Jimin scoffed. “Your baby teeth couldn’t even pierce my skin if you tried , and Hyung would have you over his knee so fast your head would spin. I have absolutely no delusions that you would ever try to actually bite me without permission.”

“But—”

“Look,” Jimin interrupted. “I don’t love how you got here, but you are my new baby as well. If you refuse to take a full meal from the hyungs, at least I can give you what you will take.”

“You don’t have to,” Jungkook said softly. “I don’t want you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with.”

“Of course I don’t have to,” Jimin sniffed. “I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. But I am offering. Because no one deserves to go hungry.”

Jin’s heart twinged with both pride and pain. Difficult as Jimin was being, he was at least trying to make a small, begrudging connection with the new baby. Jin was proud that he was rethinking his instant rejection and ready to offer Jungkook a chance. 

At the same time, he hated that it was hunger that brought Jimin to that point. Because it was hunger. There were a lot of things that Jimin could ignore, but the pangs of malnourishment were too familiar for him to dismiss. Despite the fact that Jungkook’s connection with the cherub was too weak for anything to echo over their bond, Jimin knew Jungkook was hungry and he couldn’t let that stand when he had the power to fix it. 

There was a reason no one ever denied Jimin food under any circumstance and it was the same reason that Jimin was now offering his own blood despite his personal feelings on Jungkook’s addition to their nest. 

The two of them locked eyes for a few minutes, Jungkook searching and Jimin holding his ground. But then the fledgling nodded and reached tentatively for Jimin’s arm once more. Hoseok gently made a shallow cut on the cherub’s forearm, and Jungkook leaned in to delicately suck out the blood. His eyes once again fastened on Jimin and the Fifth held his gaze with absolutely no reservation. 

Jin busied himself with the cooking, giving the two of them the illusion of privacy, but Hoseok stared unabashed. Jin didn’t blame him. For all that neither of the nestlings noticed, there was an extremely charged air between the two of them. Their magic surged at even this light contact, and Jin could see that they were very compatible. Hoseok would not fail to notice and be heavily interested in that, almost enthralled by the potential he could feel dancing along their bond. 

Jungkook didn’t feed for long, even shorter than he had with the others, but the few moments that he did were nearly electric for both Jin and Hoseok. 

When he sat back, folding his hands in his lap to keep from grabbing at Jimin once more and licking bright blood off his lips, Jimin gave a slow little smirk.

“It’s not quite as potent as it is in Hyung’s blood, but you can still taste the ichor, can’t you?” he teased, grabbing Hoseok’s coffee once more. “It’s quite a distinctive taste, I’m told. You’ll get used to it.”

His smug expression only grew more self-satisfied when the fledgling nodded with a dazed expression. 

It wasn’t a true acceptance. Jimin still didn’t want Jungkook here, he’d just resigned himself to the fact that, for once in his life, he would not be getting his way. He was going to do the best he could with what he had, and that meant at least tolerating Jungkook. It was not yet love or even the curiosity of a new friendship. 

But it was at least something . Something that they could build off of and form a real relationship. Something that Jin could work with. It was enough. 

Chapter Text

“My treasure, you absolutely may not do that.” Jin’s firm voice stopped Jungkook in his tracks where he’d been shakily moving around the table to gather the dishes left over from the delicious breakfast Jin had provided for them. 

Jungkook couldn’t remember the last time he’d had such good food. Before he was taken, for sure. Probably a long time before that as well. Neither of his parents really cooked, and as much as Junghyun tried, his hyung just wasn’t a very good cook. 

Jin had turned out breakfast like it was nothing, moving fluidly around the kitchen and dodging stray nestmates as he went. He had a meal big enough for seven men with healthy appetites on the table in no time flat and didn’t even seem fazed by the effort. 

Jungkook had been allowed to help a little with meal prep. A knife was put into his hands, and he was asked to cut several types of fruit as Hoseok manned the microwave and Jin flipped eggs. 

Jungkook had been relieved to finally have something to do to make him feel helpful, and had suspected that was Jin’s purpose in the beginning. But then he felt the knife pulling at his magic, and looked down at the runes under his palm that spoke of care, bonding, and protection. Every slice he made channeled his magic down through the knife and into the fruit he was preparing, the runes giving his power purpose as it went. The knife just barely tugged a little of Jungkook into the fruit he was cutting. 

He had been entirely unsurprised when the bowl of carefully cut fruit was shoved into Taehyung’s hands when the pixie sat down at the breakfast table. Each piece that disappeared into Taehyung’s mouth held tiny trace amounts of Jungkook’s magic, and it would accelerate a bond between them. 

It was an extremely subtle way of allowing the Sixth to become acquainted with Jungkook’s magic. In fact, most wouldn’t even have noticed it. Jungkook felt it only because he was so entirely in tune with his magic at all times. Reginald had been absolutely insistent that Jungkook keep perfect control of his form. Jungkook had to be able to hold his human form without even a hint of anything more beyond the surface, and that meant his control of his magic in general had to be impeccable. 

So Jungkook had realized that the infinitesimal drain on his magical reserves was being channeled through the knife into the fruit. And later into Taehyung as well. It had made him feel useful. Helpful in a way that he hadn’t been able to accomplish so far. 

Helpful like he was trying to be by gathering all the dishes to take them into the kitchen when their meal was done. 

He glanced up at his sire, feeling almost like he’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. 

“I’m just cleaning up a bit,” he explained softly, already almost sure that this wouldn’t appease Jin. From what he’d seen so far, his sire was...zealous in his care for his nest. He wasn’t likely to be best pleased with Jungkook trying to help in his fragile health. 

“Oh, I know very well what you’re trying to do, Pearl,” Jin hummed placidly. “And I said you may not.”

Jungkook bit his lip, glancing down at the dishes in his hands. He understood why Jin wouldn’t want him carrying a bunch of plates right now. He may very well drop them, and his sire seemed quite attached to his clean kitchen and crockery. 

“I’ll go a few at a time,” he suggested timidly. “I promise I won’t drop anything.”

“Yah, Hyung said no,” Taehyung interrupted whatever answer Jin might have. He wrapped an arm around Jungkook’s waist and pulled him down onto his own knee, scowling in irritation. 

His tone spoke of annoyance and he wasn’t very gentle in his handling of Jungkook, but his touch was almost possessive and he certainly wasn’t overly rough either. The mere fact that he’d decided to place Jungkook in his lap in the first place when he didn’t have to belied the irritation he projected. 

Taehyung was confusing. Honestly, both he and Jimin made Jungkook nervous. He understood why they wouldn’t like him and didn’t begrudge them that, but they were much, much older and more powerful than him. If they decided they wanted to, they could make his life extremely difficult. 

Jungkook knew better than to overlook that possibility. 

They didn’t need to do anything overt to make him hurt. Taehyung especially could very easily get away with hurting Jungkook without even his sire noticing. He would be expected to spend plenty of time alone with Jungkook, and the process of bonding a Sixth and Seventh was not always smooth; Taehyung could blatantly hurt Jungkook magically and just say it was an accident.

Even putting aside the idea that they would purposely hurt Jungkook, they could very easily damage his relationships with the rest of the nest enough that he would be stressed and miserable all the time. His new sire seemed to be very comfortable with disciplining his nest when he needed to, and all Taehyung or Jimin needed to do to take advantage of that was tell Jin Jungkook had done something wrong. It was inevitable that the nest leader would listen to the nestlings he’d known longer, Jungkook’s sire or not. 

Jungkook just didn’t have enough information about how the maknaes might treat him to be comfortable with them. 

So he behaved himself for Taehyung, sitting quietly on the pixie’s knee with no struggle, but didn’t relax. He held himself stiff instead of sinking into Taehyung’s chest like he’d done with the hyungs and tried not to fidget. 

Taehyung squeezed him a little tighter, a tiny frown on his face. 

“Why don’t you take him into the living room before you go back to the shop, Tae,” Jin suggested. “We need to have a little talk, and he may as well be comfortable for it.”

Taehyung gave a little grunt and shifted underneath Jungkook. Then Jungkook gave a startled gasp as he was rearranged and abruptly lifted bridal style like a little rag doll. He somewhat expected an overabundance of strength from the hyungs, but Taehyung? He was a pixie. His species wasn’t exactly known for their strength. 

And yet here they were, Taehyung already carrying him down the short hall into the livingroom to drop him carefully on the couch. Jungkook bounced a little when he hit the cushion and stared after the pixie when Taehyung immediately retreated. 

“Can walk,” he muttered quietly to himself, squirming back into the couch and pouting lightly now that there was no one to see him.

“Oh I beg to differ, treasure,” Jin chuckled. 

Jungkook almost jumped out of his skin and whipped around to see his sire leaning casually against the doorway. 

“I didn’t—I didn’t mean,” he stuttered. 

“Oh I know, dear heart,” Jin said, with a smile as he crossed the room to sit on an armchair at a right angle with the couch. “My fledgling is very used to doing a lot of things for himself, I reckon. But in all honesty, we would like you to get used to the idea of relying on us, treasure. Not only does it deepen the bond, but you are so very weak right now.”

“I can still walk,” Jungkook repeated, less petulantly this time but with more sincerity. 

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but you haven’t done any walking at all since Reginald changed you,” Jin guessed, eyes flicking briefly to Jungkook’s now healed throat where the blisters had been all too clear the day before. 

Jungkook winced and raised his own hand to touch the area lightly. “He let me out a couple times a day for the bathroom,” he admitted. “But the chains weren’t quite long enough for me to stand. I could only just lay down.”

“You strained yourself already just coming down the stairs,” Jin said. “Aren’t you sore and tired, precious?”

Now that he mentioned it, yes , but Jungkook had been constantly achy and exhausted lately. It was a consequence of suppressing a secondary form for an extended period of time. It essentially meant he couldn’t metaphorically stretch any of his secondary characteristics, from his tail to the multiple sets of wings. Holding them in for too long made them feel like they were cramping. 

He’d become so used to pain that he hadn’t even really noticed until Jin said something, but his legs ahced something fierce as well. It made sense: getting down stairs was the longest walk Jungkook had had in a month. He just hadn’t really registered it. 

“Yes, exactly,” Jin said as though Jungkook had agreed with him. He’d probably felt the realization in their bond or seen it on Jungkook’s face. “Yoongi will start physical therapy with you later in the day, if that’s ok with you, but we’ll need to consider short term solutions.”

“It’s just pain, I can walk,” Jungkook said a little more instantly. 

“First of all,” Jin began, “I very much do not like to hear the phrase ‘just pain’ from you. Pain is important because it tells you something is wrong.”

Jungkook ducked his head, feeling scolded in a way he wasn’t used to. Pushing through the pain had always been something to be proud of. As a man, he wasn’t supposed to cave at the first sign of discomfort. 

This impression had been highly reinforced by Reginald. It was upsetting to Jungkook, but the older vampire had been the only person he’d seen for a little over a month, and Jungkook had thought Reginald was his sire. His opinion wasn’t nothing to Jungkook. More than that, it was just easier on Jungkook please Reginald than make him upset. There was less pain when he pleased Reginald. 

The experience had only cemented for Jungkook that working through pain was a positive behavior. But here was Jin telling him something he’d only ever really heard from doctors, but echoing sincerity down their bond. Jin really didn’t like the idea of Jungkook ignoring pain, and Jungkook didn’t really know what to do with that. 

“Second,” Jin continued before he could decide how to respond, “it isn’t just pain. Your muscles are weak, which means they will give out if pressed too hard. Right now you are capable of walking short distances, but that won’t hold true if you continue to push yourself. Until you get some strength back, you’re going to need some help getting around.”

Jin was also not wrong on that count. Jungkook had gone down the stairs sliding his butt from step to step precisely because his legs had threatened to give out when he attempted to go down them normally. 

All of this felt ridiculous, Jungkook was young and had been a healthy and well-muscled man before everything started. But starvation combined with an inability to move was apparently detrimental to the body in a very short period of time. 

Jungkook hated that, but couldn’t deny it. 

“We still have a wheelchair laying around here somewhere from the last time Jimin injured himself dancing, and Yoongi’s gone to dig it up,” Jin said. “As happy as we would be to continue carrying you everywhere, I don’t think you would be too pleased with that idea.”

The teasing little smile he gave Jungkook hid the fact that Jungkook believed he was entirely serious. Jin would be very pleased to just take Jungkook where he needed to go, but Jungkook appreciated being given the means to move himself.

“Thank you,” he said. “You’ve already done so much for me, and I know this will be a big commitment for Yoongi-hyung.”

“Yoongi loves playing doctor with his darlings,” Jin said, waving a dismissive hand. “It makes him feel like a good caretaker to see all his little ones getting better under his hands. If you ask me, he’s got a little bit of a thing for—ok ok, message received, I’ll shut up,” he chuckled, obviously getting a much stronger dose of the same rebuttal and consternation Jungkook was feeling in their bond. 

A slightly scolding and very embarrassed feeling followed. 

“The point ,” Jin said, “is that Yoongi likes to help. You won’t be inconveniencing him in any way.”

Approval and warmth filtered away the last traces of annoyance that had been lingering from the bonghwang. 

“Still, he’s going out of his way, and I’m grateful for it,” Jungkook insisted. Rarely was anyone kind enough to go out of their way for him, and he was not going to just discount it when someone did. 

“Oh my precious darling, I don’t think you quite understand just how far we would bend ourselves out of our way for you,” Jin said, thankfully ignoring the way Jungkook’s cheeks immediately flared pink. “But that’s part of what I brought you here to talk about. Do you understand the ramifications of the fact that I’m your sire?”

Jin’s face was open and gentle, but he still seemed a little amazed every time he spoke of being Jungkook’s sire. Jungkook vaguely recalled that Hoseok had said he was Jin’s only childe. All of this must be such a shock to him. 

“Namjoon-hyung mentioned that I was your responsibility for the next five years,” Jungkook offered. “I know some vampires take that more seriously than others.”

“Five years,” Jin scoffed, tsking in disgust. “I still can’t believe they lowered it to five years . Who leaves a baby on their own after only five years?”

Jungkook watched, a little perplexed as Jin shook his head. 

“But you are correct,” the vampire agreed. “Technically, I am responsible for feeding you for the next five years. As you’ve said, different nests take that to mean different things. I am here to discuss with you what that means for my nest.”

Jungkook nodded, because that would definitely be good to talk out. He wanted to know where he stood with Jin. 

“Hobi and Joon already told you that we are a traditional nest, which means that you will always be bound to us, but also has some implications for how we interact.”

“You discipline the nest,” Jungkook murmured, almost shy to even say it. 

“I do maintain a certain level of discipline over my darlings, yes,” Jin agreed. “I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but our nest is quite famous.”

Jungkook nodded immediately. He was aware. There was no creature older than Seokjin in Korea at least, and his nest was incredibly powerful and influential. While none of them held jobs that should make them particularly famous, they were still included in all the upper echelon parties and gatherings. Paparazzi still photographed them at every opportunity. 

Jungkook had been aware of the Kim Nest since before he could even talk, though he’d never dreamed of being part of it. 

“Since we are in the public eye so often, I demand a high level of behavior from my babies, largely for safety reasons. Few would dare to overtly hurt what is mine, but there are still some and it is a risk I am not willing to take. You will accustom yourself to obeying me and maintaining open communication about any issues or disturbances you experience, or I will give you a reason to accustom yourself to it.”

Jungkook blushed a little and bit his lip. No one had ever so blatantly said that they would punish him before. Even his parents had never really warned before carrying through with their discipline. 

He also knew it wasn’t uncommon in nests, especially ones with young immortals, however. Some types of creatures could be quite dangerous in their youth if not given certain boundaries. Vampires were actually known as one of those species because of their blood lust. He had almost expected that Jin would establish some kind of system for punishing Jungkook if he stepped out of line. 

“I prefer spanking as a punishment,” Jin continued on, blazing right through whatever awkwardness Jungkook might feel. “But I am of course open to discussion. Many sires like to use a magical means to punish their fledglings, and that is an option as well.”

Jungkook flushed darker at the casual mention of spanking. He hadn’t known how to react when the others teased so openly about it earlier. 

Jungkook had plenty of experience with discipline, but not necessarily of that type. His parents had other ways of keeping him in line, and Reginald didn’t discipline him so much as just flat out hurt him. 

The way the nest spoke made punishment seem... intimate . Not necessarily sexual, but certainly very hands on in a way Jungkook wasn’t at all used to. As much as the idea of being spanked scared Jungkook, it also made him feel a little warm. Jin not only cared about his behavior, but would correct it in a very involved manner if he needed to. 

He would not send Jungkook to another part of the manor with instructions that he shouldn’t be seen for a week. He wouldn’t gag Jungkook. He would not refuse him meals or torture him magically. 

Jin would hold Jungkook close over his knee and use his own hand to punish Jungkook in a way that clearly hadn’t been traumatizing for the rest of the nest. As a grown adult, Jungkook wasn’t overly enthused that his behavior was once again beholden to another person, but that was common in immortal circles, and even some nests of mortal creatures as well. 

And if Jungkook had to obey someone, he was glad that it was Jin. He might not know his sire very well yet, but the protective, fond, and possessive feelings he got down their bond were comforting so far. Beyond that, the behavior of the rest of the nest said that they felt safe with Jin and they were very sure that the nest leader cared for them. It was reassuring. 

“I—that’s fine,” Jungkook stuttered when he realized Jin was waiting for an answer. “I don’t like magical punishments. Reginald, he—” He trailed off, shivering a little despite himself. 

“Reginald is that filth who tricked you into thinking he was your sire,” Jin surmised. “And he hurt you.”

His  magic snapped with a fury Jungkook hadn’t yet been privy to, but his eyes were gentle on Jungkook. 

Jungkook nodded slowly. “Sometimes on purpose, and sometimes as a punishment, and sometimes—sometimes just because.”

Because an experiment hadn’t worked correctly. Because he was in a bad mood. Because he wanted to. 

Jin took a deep, calming breath, then knelt carefully in front of Jungkook and took his hands. Jungkook hadn’t realized that he was prying at his nails until his sire gently stopped him.

“I will not hurt you magically if I have any other choice, Jungkook-ah,” Jin promised. “Unless you are a danger to yourself or someone else, I won’t stop you magically.”

That was fair. As a newly turned vampire, Jungkook was at high risk for losing control and harming, or even killing, someone accidentally. Jungkook was confident that he wouldn’t need Jin to intervene after Reginald’s training, but he was also glad that his sire would if he had to. The last thing Jungkook wanted to do was hurt someone. 

He nodded his agreement to Jin, taking a few seconds to calm himself down. It was stupid to get so worked up over the mere memory of Reginald, but he couldn’t help it. He squeezed his eyes closed and focused on Jin’s fingers rubbing his hands. He was safe. Jin wouldn’t let anything hurt him. Of that, Jungkook was already sure. 

It was another few seconds before he opened his eyes again, sat up a little straighter, and gave his sire a much more confident nod. 

Jin smiled proudly at him. “My good boy,” praised, finally sitting back into his own seat. 

“The other thing I would like to speak to you about is accommodations,” he continued, thankfully not drawing attention to Jungkook’s lapse in calm. Jungkook knew his sire wasn’t ignoring it, but Jin also realized that now was not the time to linger on the trauma Jungkook had gone through. It was too soon. 

“I would very much prefer for you to live with us,” Jin told him. “However, I am aware that we are strangers and that you had a life with your own home and loved ones before this. You have no legal obligation to stay. If you really want to leave us, I will make sure that you have a comfortable living space. It will damage the magical flow of our nest, though, as the rest of us live together. And I also prefer to keep my loved ones close for my own selfish reasons.”

“I don’t have anywhere to go back to,” Jungkook said lowly, thinking of his nearly bare apartment which had almost certainly been re-let by now. He hoped his brother had managed to pick up his stuff before he had been evicted. If he was lucky, everything would be stored in his parents’ home.

Jungkook refused to go live at home again, though. That was a level of stress that he very much did not need in his life. And there was no guarantee that he would be welcome anyway. 

“Ok, treasure, that’s no problem. If you really don’t want to live here, I will make sure you’re set up somewhere else,” Jin repeated. “I understand that it is a big commitment to stay on a permanent basis with people you don’t know. I’m concerned about both your ability to care for yourself and your safety if you leave now, however.”

“I can’t leave now,” Jungkook agreed. “And I don’t necessarily know that I want to. I feel safe here.”

It was a big statement to make when he’d been there less than 24 hours, but it was true. Everything about this place, from the magic humming through the floorboards under his feet to the easy camaraderie of hyungs made him feel secure. Sure, Jimin and Taehyung might not like him very much, but their ire was a small price to pay for the ability to actually feel like he didn’t have to be constantly on guard. 

“I want to stay at least until I’m well again.”

That gave Jungkook some time to test out the situation, see if it was tenable. If Jimin and Taehyung hated him too badly, Jungkook could just tell Jin that he wanted to move out once he was able. If things turned out for the better, Jungkook had only to reaffirm his decision to stay. It was a good compromise. 

“Good choice, my pearl,” Jin praised. “I am very happy to hear that. We’ll get you all set up with everything you need, I promise. Jimin and Tae love shopping, and it’s been awhile since the rest of us had a new baby to spoil. We’ll do everything we can to make you as comfortable as possible.”

Jin’s magic nearly glowed with his pleasure and excitement over this idea, and Jungkook couldn’t help but feel very shy. No one had ever wanted to dote on him like this before, and he wasn’t sure how to react. 

“Thank you,” he murmured, rubbing his ears in shyness. 

Jin actually cooed, and Jungkook only blushed brighter. 

“Of course, little love. You really don’t know how excited we are for this. Yoongi’s found the chair now, but before I let him steal you away, is there anyone you’d like to contact or have us contact for you?”

Jungkook felt cold, the happy bashfulness of a few seconds ago draining completely away. 

“No,” he denied. “There’s no one I want to get in touch with right now.”

Later, when he could walk on his own and a place to live and a job and hopefully even a support system, Jungkook would think about that again. He would not show up at home in this vulnerable state. The mere idea was intolerable. 

His breath quickened suddenly at the thought and his hands started to shake. He could not go home like this. He just couldn’t .

“Hey, hey, hey,” Jin hummed, his soft, comforting magic suddenly everywhere. “It’s ok, little one. No one is going to ask you to do anything you don’t want to. You’re safe here. Can I touch you, treasure?”

Jungkook nodded hurriedly, very much wanting to not feel so alone right now. Jin moved before Jungkook could really comprehend it, and he found himself held securely on Jin’s lap, head tucked into his sire’s shoulder. One of Jin’s arms was tight around his waist and Jungkook desperately held the other between both of his own. 

Jin coaxed him slowly into calming his breathing, his voice a soothing stream in the background as Jungkook focused on his touch and the cadence of his breathing. He reached out almost instinctively to his sire’s magic, wrapping it around himself and basking in the sense of absolute safety it provided. 

It was incredibly selfish, but Jungkook was so glad that Reginald had used Jin’s blood to turn him, because this right here? Sitting surrounded by someone’s arms and magic in such an intimate and loving way? This was everything Jungkook had ever wanted. 

Now he just feared that he might get used to it. 

Chapter Text

World building: Every individual has an aura that correlates to a part of their personality that’s important to them. This means that there’s an enormous number of possible auras ranging through diverse characteristics like powerful, nurturing, happy, and even shy. Auras can change over time as people’s personalities change as well. 

 

An aura is basically a certain feel to someone’s magic. They’re weaker in humans, but can get overwhelming in powerful immortals. While most everyone can sense an aura if they try, an aura is most prominent when a person is actively feeling whatever characteristic their aura portrays. When a person with a protective aura is feeling protective, their aura will be most easily felt by those around them. In other situations it often goes unnoticed unless you specifically look. Some people are more sensitive to auras than others, and a few can even see them. 

 

Jimin watched critically as Jungkook roamed through the shop. The fledgling had been with them for a few days now, but this was the first time Jin had allowed him out into the less protected shop adjacent to their house. “Less protected” was relative, of course. Jimin and Taehyung’s shop was still one of the most well-warded buildings in all of Korea. 

By now, they were all beginning to get used to having a baby around. They’d started to settle in around the little one and get to know him a little. The hyungs were growing comfortable around him. 

It irked Jimin. Three days. Not even a singular week was all it took for them to welcome him like one of their own. Jin and Yoongi at least had decided Jungkook was theirs on that first night. 

They had courted Jimin for three years before approaching him with the offer of joining their nest. Jimin understood the circumstances were different, but it frustrated him that they knew nothing about this new baby and yet were willing to allow him to grow as close to Taehyung as the Seventh had to be with the Sixth. 

It wasn’t that he thought Jungkook was a bad person, he just didn’t know the fledgling. How was he supposed to trust his soulmate with someone he’d never had the opportunity to know?

It was the unfortunate truth that he’d have to find a way, because Jungkook was their Seventh and that wasn’t going to change. So Jimin had decided that part of learning to trust the baby with Taehyung was spending time with him and learning about him. 

He was the one who had invited Jungkook into their shop. Hyungs had been incredibly proud, but Jimin wasn’t doing it because he wanted to be closer to the little one. He just needed to know what he was dealing with. 

Jimin was willing to admit that he may be blowing things entirely out of proportion. From all he’d seen so far, Jungkook was a perfectly kind boy, if a little quiet and shy. The baby had actually spent most of his time in their home so far sleeping off the effects of whatever had been done to him while he was in captivity. In the few hours he’d been awake, however, he made himself useful whenever possible and was absolutely respectful under every circumstance. If Jimin had met the nestling under different conditions, he might’ve liked Jungkook. But the problem was that he just didn’t know

Jungkook was in a new place and quite obviously playing by their rules right now while he was weak and traumatized. Jimin had no idea who he was beyond the persona he must’ve adopted to deal with the uncertainty of the situation. 

Besides, there were a few things that were just... off about the fledgling. They could still barely get him to eat. It was considerably slowing his healing process at this point and Jimin almost swore that the baby was losing weight, which should be impossible even with the limited amount of blood the baby was taking. 

Jimin had no idea how that was possible, but found Jungkook’s absolute control of his own appetite almost suspicious. Hunger was a powerful motivator. Jimin knew that all too well; there had been instances where he couldn’t resist it no matter how hard he tried. He’d hated himself for and punished himself harshly, but he had still slipped up every so often. 

Jungkook never did, and Jimin couldn’t imagine an impetus more overwhelming and intrinsic than hunger. 

Jimin wasn’t sure if the others had even noticed yet, but there was also something else wrong about the baby. Jungkook sometimes spaced out entirely, and often looked confused . So confused.

He often just couldn’t seem to grasp perfectly normal things. And even when he did understand something, he didn’t retain information well. Jimin would say that it was just that the nestling didn’t bother actually paying attention, but he really didn’t think that was true. Jungkook had done his level best to fit in with them as much as possible, and that didn’t facilitate a lack of focus on them. Jimin thought he really tried , but things just slipped past him. 

The nestling seemed to have trouble keeping up with the little things. Jungkook would react to stories they’d already told him like he was hearing them for the first time. He couldn’t keep track of where he’d left things. He forgot personal details.

All of this could be attributed to the fact that his health was still so fragile and he was spending a good amount of time sleeping, but it just didn’t sit well with Jimin. There was something wrong, and he was pretty sure he was getting that impression from Jungkook himself. 

Each time a more obvious slip occurred, there was a tiny look of puzzlement and almost fear behind the baby’s eyes. He hid it well, and nothing slipped along the bond, but Jimin saw it. Jungkook should be too young and inexperienced to control the bond. If he was feeling something, it should flood clear through to Yoongi and Jin. Given that neither of the older two tore the house apart trying to find him when he was afraid, that obviously wasn’t happening. 

And all of this was on top of the fact that the fledgling had been turned without Jin’s consent. If Jungkook had agreed to that knowingly, Jimin didn’t think he’d ever forgive him. 

Jimin understood that Jungkook had been through terrible things, but the idea of letting someone who had such a loose understanding of consent within his nest was repulsive to him. Maybe it was cruel, but Jimin didn’t trust Jungkook, and he didn’t want him there. 

Since he didn’t have a choice, he was making the best of the situation. Which meant getting to know the nestling. 

Jungkook wandered through the shop, examining the different magical plants, stones, and objects they had on sale. Jimin highly doubted he would recognize a lot of them, though he may feel Jimin and Taehyung’s magic hanging around some of the items with more complex enchantments. 

These were few and far between. A lot of the more heavy-duty pieces were actually kept in the back with the rarer ingredients so that they could be under the same wards that protected the rest of the house. Some of the materials they had access to were very highly sought after and difficult to procure. People would do very reckless things to get their hands on them. 

They still had a huge diversity of magical wares available in the main body of their shop, however, and Jungkook was more than occupied with them as he navigated through the shop in his wheelchair. 

“Do you recognize any of this?” Jimin asked, trying to hold himself in a way that made this seem less like an interrogation. 

“Mhhmm,” Jungkook hummed, running his thumb under a vial on the shelf he was currently inspecting. “You have a lot of scales. Dragon, mermaid, siren, hydra.” He paused briefly under each one. “That shelf is all claws, over there is feathers, you have some blood behind the counter, and then of course there’s all the things you have that weren’t once part of a creature. Herbs, crystals, incense, et cetera. And already enchanted objects as well. Your range is really impressive.”

Jimin’s brow furrowed. That was a lot of very specific identifications for the amount of time Jungkook had had to look around. They purposely labeled things incorrectly to prevent theft, but Jungkook had identified each type of scale without a single glance at the placards. 

“Did  you study magic, then?” he questioned, genuinely curious this time. Should Jungkook eventually prove trustworthy, he might actually be a huge asset in the shop if he was already this well versed in magical items. 

Me ,” Jungkook almost gasped, entirely incredulous in a way that struck Jimin as off. “No, of course not.”

The way he said it, like there had never even been the briefest of possibilities made Jimin’s stomach sink. It was just so casual and self-deprecating at the same time. 

“You know a lot for someone who’s never studied,” Taehyung murmured, watching as Jungkook evaluated a candle. Judgement looked adorable on the baby as did every other expression. 

“It’s a bit of an interest of mine,” Jungkook replied absently. “My family has a large library.”

Jimin perked up a little. This was the first time the nestling had mentioned his family, and it had actually made Jimin even more suspicious. He couldn’t imagine going missing for a month and not immediately alerting his family that he was okay as soon as he was freed. How little did Jungkook value his family that he didn’t want to reassure them as soon as possible? 

“You were well-supported in self study then,” Jimin surmised. 

“I suppose,” the fledgling shrugged, looking uncomfortable. 

“Why didn’t you continue on a profession-”

Taehyung was cut off by the door opening. Jimin looked around for their customer, smiling welcomingly at the tired-looking pregnant woman walking in. She gave him a weary grin in return, waving one hand while she held a child’s hand in the other. 

She opened her mouth, but was immediately cut off by a squeal as the child bolted across the room towards...towards Jungkook. 

The nestling didn’t even look startled. Instead he grinned, possibly the most genuine happiness Jimin had seen on him yet, and hoisted the little girl into his lap with weak arms. 

“Hello sweetness,” he hummed, already running a hand through the child’s hair like they’d known each other for years. “This is a very pretty necklace. What’s your name?”

The rest of the room stared, nonplussed as the girl gave a quick “Mina,” and then proceeded to babble incessantly like Jungkook was the best friend she hadn’t seen in awhile. 

The air in the shop grew noticeably a little warmer and hummed with pleased, safe magic. 

“I—I’m sorry, have we met before?” the mother shuttered, clearly as shocked as Jimin and Taehyung. 

“Oh, no, sorry,” Jungkook chuckled, tickling the child until she nearly shrieked. Jimin worried about how he would keep her corralled, but Jungkook easily shifted Mina around on his lap like he’d been doing it forever. “I’m sorry, it’s just my magic,” he explained. “It feels safe to children. My personal aura is nurture, and little ones generally recognize that quite easily.”

“Is sparkly,” Mina agreed. 

“Like your necklace,” Jungkook returned, tapping it with a finger. It followed his touch when he pulled back, and he ran it through the air, weaving beautiful patterns telekinetically. He hadn’t even needed a single spell for that, and Jimin was shocked. As low as the fledgling was on magic right now, that shouldn’t be possible. 

“She’s usually so shy with strangers,” the mother murmured to Jimin and Taehyung, watching the youngest pair with an astounded expression still on her face. “I’m Haru, by the way.”

“Nurture is a powerful aura,” Taehyung said, eyes bright and attentive with this new information. “Not particularly common.”

Jimin knew Taehyung’s childhood nurse had a nurturing aura, and he was a little surprised that Tae hadn’t yet recognized it in Jungkook because of his experience with it. Then again, the youngest hadn’t exactly been throwing his aura around the last few days, and Jimin hadn’t seen it either. 

“Is there something we can help you with, though?” Jimin asked politely, giving Haru a charming smile to distract her from the fact that it was mildly creepy how attached her child was to a strange man. 

“Here,” Jungkook offered, wheeling himself over with Mina still on his lap, now playing with a crystal. “Your baby is restless. This is Blue Calcite, and it’s known to calm little ones. He might let you get some sleep if you keep this near when you rest.”

“How did you—”

Jungkook shrugged helplessly, wincing a little when Mina tugged his hair. “Nurture applies to all children, even those not born yet. I can usually tell when a child needs something.” He proffered the little blue stone again. 

“Thank you,” Haru said carefully. 

Jungkook grinned a nodded at her, but got distracted by Mina again before he could answer verbally. She held up another crystal to him, babbling a little more. The fledgling turned his whole attention back to her, agreeing seriously with her baby talk. 

“I’ve never seen her like this before. She’s usually so quiet.”

“She’s got pyrite,” Jungkook shrugged, like that explained things, hovering the stone in front of both mother and child. Mina giggled and lunged for it, but Jungkook wrapped a careful arm around her waist. “Pyrite is known to encourage a feeling of safety in children. Combine that with my aura, and I’m sure she’s feeling very secure right now.”

“Where is my treasure?” Jin asked as he suddenly stuck his head into the shop. “Jungkookie, precious, it’s time to eat. Oh another baby!”

Jin strode over to stand behind the fledgling’s chair, making Jungkook strain his neck backwards to look up at his sire. 

“Are you having a good time with the little one, dear heart?”

“Mhmm,” Jungkook nodded, hovering the pyrite once more and spinning it quickly to make the light flash off of it. Jimin wasn’t sure who he was amusing more with the stone: himself or Mina.

“As much as I love to hear that, that’s enough magic for now,” Jin said, reaching out to grab the pyrite from it’s hovering position. “You shouldn't be straining yourself like this”

Haru’s hand beat him there. “Wait, I’d like this too please,” she explained, pulling the stone to her chest like there wasn’t a full shelf of them across the shop.

Jin nodded politely, pulling his hand back. 

Mina whined, and Jungkook almost seemed to snap out of a trance. He blinked, looking up at his sire with a little pout that Jimin found absolutely deadly. 

“None of that now, my pearl, you’ve missed a feeding already,” Jin scolded gently. “And besides, I’m sure this lovely family needs to be on their way anyway.”

“Oh, of course,” the nestling breathed, suddenly realizing he was still holding Mina. “I hadn't even thought.”

The child fussed as Jungkook gently helped her back down. Jimin saw Jin’s eyes tracking the motion, and might’ve missed the tiny grimace on the fledgling’s face if he hadn’t followed Jin’s gaze. 

“It was nice to meet you, sweetheart,” Jungkook chirped to the child. “Thank you for showing me your necklace!”

He held out the chain to give it back to the child. 

She watched him seriously for a moment, glancing back and forth between him and the necklace. He held her gaze calmly, though Jimin could see that he was getting a little puzzled. 

Then Mina nodded firmly, and pushed Jungkook’s hand back toward him. “You,” she said simply. 

“What?” he asked, his head tilting adorably in confusion. “No, this is yours, darling, remember?” He offered it again. 

You ,” she repeated more firmly, pushing it back again. 

Jungkook’s brow furrowed, and he looked up at her mother, helplessly holding out the necklace to her instead. 

A wry smile quirked her lips. “I think you underestimate how determined Mina is, Jungkook-sii, if you think we’ll ever be able to get that back on her now that she’s given it to you. Please keep it. It was worth it just to see her happy like this outside our house. Thank you for all your help. Sincerely, it means a lot.” 

“I—of course,” Jungkook stuttered. “Thank you.” He leaned down in his chair to be closer to Mina. “And thank you, little one. I will treasure it.”

He grasped the necklace securely and made an odd gesture with his hand, twisting it over his heart. It rang some kind of bell in Jimin’s head, but he couldn’t place it. It was important. He tucked it away in his head. 

“And I will treasure you,” Jin added. “Which means making sure you actually eat. So say goodbye to your new friends, little one.”

Jungkook was still waving while Jin maneuvered his chair back through the shop and into the house. Mina giggled, chasing after the fledgling’s retreating form, and Jungkook dramatically pretended to reach for her until he caught her up one final time for a quick cuddle and a thank you before Jin pulled him away. 

It was quick work after that to get the small family one its way. 

As the door closed behind them, leaving Jimin and Taehyung alone once more, Jimin knew he’d just been given a lot of information about their new baby. Maybe not the type of details he’d been expecting, but still plenty for him to sort through. If only he knew how to interpret it. 

Only one thing was certain right now: Jimin had misjudged Jungkook. One did not develop an aura of nurture from nothing. Jungkook cared very deeply about others, and that was something Jimin could work with. 

He didn’t automatically trust the nestling, of course, but he was a step closer. It was progress. 

Chapter Text

World building: Magic was traditionally learned from family members, and has only recently begun to be taught in universities. This means that families with a long line of magic users have the most magical knowledge and are therefore the most powerful.  Less respected creatures from a long family line will get more respect than others of their species. Certain family lines are even world renowned for their usage of a specific type of magic. Some people were lucky enough to be taken on as apprentices, but until very recent history, magic was more of a family affair.

 

Taehyung finally decided to spend some time alone with Jungkook on the fourth day of the baby’s presence in their nest. After the meeting in the shop yesterday where Jungkook had revealed his aura, most of Taehyung’s worst reservations had vanished. He was ready to open himself up to a bond with the fledgling. 

Jin-Hyung had sat him down the second day after Jungkook’s arrival and talked with him very seriously about his role as the Sixth and how that would affect Jungkook as the Seventh. There had been a lot of new information, and Taehyung had felt rather overwhelmed. 

Much as he had already wanted a Seventh in order to lessen the strain of the Nest’s bond on his own magic, Taehyung had never really understood everything that entailed. He hadn’t realized that under ordinary circumstances, all of Jungkook’s interactions with the nest magic would filter through him. 

Jungkook's position was slightly different because the little one was already bonded so closely to Jin and therefore to Yoongi as well. He already experienced the nest’s magic through the two of them, and that made Taehyung’s job less onerous. 

Instead of introducing the nestling entirely to their combined magic, he just had to acclimatize Jungkook to his own. That meant that he and Jungkook needed to work with the magic together. Most nests assigned a magical project for the Sixth and Seventh to work on together. Depending on the complexity of the magic and their own personal ability to work with magic, that might be enough to bond the Sixth and Seventh. 

That wasn’t the only way to do it, however. Wasn’t even the best way, really. Taehyung and Jungkook would work on a project together, but that would be secondary to the other forms of bonding they engaged in. 

The first thing Jin had recommended was meditation. He suggested that the two of them both focus on their magical cores, letting their power rise to mingle in the air. That was fairly advanced magic, but Jin seemed confident that Jungkook would be able to manage it. 

The issue right now, however, was that the baby was weak, and he shouldn’t be expanding that much magic all at once right now. 

So Taehyung turned to the other option: talking. The bond between their nest wasn’t just magical, after all. A large part of it was emotional and mental and came from knowing each other very well. It was part of why Jin usually waited so long before inviting someone into his nest. He had to make sure they had a personality and even a magical presence that would function well with the rest of the nest. The knowledge only came from deep conversation, and that was where Taehyung intended to start. 

He got the fledgling all tucked up on the couch, freshly fed and recently woken from a nap. Now he just had to get him talking. 

“So,” he began, ruthlessly ignoring the awkwardness, “if your parents have such a huge library, why didn’t you study magic?”

“Huh?” the fledgling asked, a completely nonplussed look on his face. The confusion softened the lines of tension in his body, which Taehyung appreciated. It made the little one more approachable. Confusion also looked adorable on Jungkook, all wide eyes, and head tipped just a bit to the side. Taehyung wanted to coo. 

“Well the books were available,” Taehyung explained. “And you obviously have some kind of interest, because you knew what to give Haru-ssi. So why didn’t you study them?”

“Oh, no, I’m sorry, I misunderstood what you were saying. I did study my family’s library. I thought you were asking about university,” Jungkook answered. 

That actually made perfect sense and Taehyung flushed. He’d shown his age. Nowadays, most mortals and younger immortals attended universities. Whether they’d chosen a magical or non-magical major, it allowed them to study skills that would’ve been very difficult to learn when Taehyung was young. 

Back then, most people had learned from their families. That meant picking up your family’s trade for mortals, but for immortals it meant learning whatever magic they knew from their family. Taehyung had just assumed it would be the same for Jungkook. He’d forgotten how young the baby was. 

“Ah, so you were mostly home taught,” Taehyung surmised, smiling softly. 

It brought back a lot of fond memories for him. He’d learned magic at his grandmother’s knee, studying the spells and lore that only his own family knew. Taehyung’s family was old, descended from royalty. Some of the knowledge they had was far beyond anything universities could offer even now. It was only recently that they’d begun to study magic Taehyung’s family had researched into for centuries, after all. It would take them a while to catch up. 

This was part of the reason why deeply magical families with an unbroken line of inheritance were so revered even in the modern world. 

“I guess you could say that,” Jungkook murmured. He shifted uncomfortably, rubbing his arms as though cold, though that should be impossible given that he was a vampire and shouldn't feel any chills. 

Taehyung frowned. That wasn’t at all the reaction he was expecting. He’d never seen such a negative response to family lessons. 

“You wouldn’t,” he observed. 

The baby rubbed his arms again. “I was…. self taught , I guess you could say.”

“Why on earth—? Oh, because you weren’t a creature, right,” Taehyung said, suddenly understanding everything. 

Humans definitely could learn magic, but more the theoretical side of things. It was a rare human who was able to actually work magic. What was less rare was humans hurting themselves in the attempt. Taehyung suddenly understood perfectly why Jungkook wouldn’t have been welcome in the library. 

In fact, he was a little shocked that his parents hadn’t completely blocked him from the particle magic section of the library. It was a fairly standard practice in most magical families to set up warding that didn’t allow young humans near books that could endanger them. Many of them also extended that to young beings in general. Age related wards kept out young immortals as well. 

It also begged the question, though: when and how had Jungkook learned to work such controlled and precise magic? Because the spell he’d used yesterday to maneuver the dragon necklace was no easy magic, no matter what it might look like. It took an incredible amount of control to move something in such complicated patterns. 

As far as they knew, Jungkook had only been with his captor for a month. He must be a prodigy, if he’d learned that kind of precision in such a short time. 

Taehyung doubted he would get a straight answer out of the fledgling if he asked about that, however, so he turned to a different topic. “Why does your family have so many books on magic, then?”

The baby watched him for a second, almost wary. “Both of my parents are legacies. They married in an attempt to revive their lines. They succeeded with my brother.” 

“Oh!” Taehyung gasped. It wasn’t uncommon for two mortals to try to increase their chances of having an immortal baby by marrying other legacies of their species. Taehyung had known two unicorn legacies who managed to have a unicorn child, several decades back. 

It also explained some of Jungkook’s control. Strong legacies quite often had the ability to use a very limited amount of magic. Jungkook’s family must be quite strong if they’d managed to birth an immortal, so the nestling himself was likely not in any way lacking in magical talent. 

“My brother taught me some things,” the little one suddenly volunteered. A soft smile crossed his face and his posture relaxed once more. It was the reaction Taehyung had expected when he asked about learning from his family, and it set something in Taehyung at ease. 

He didn’t quite understand the way Jungkook tensed when he was talking about his family. Taehyung had never seen an immortal so uncomfortable with their own kin. 

“That’s cute of him, but also very dangerous,” he couldn’t help but disapprove gently. Anything that put the baby at risk was a no-go in Taehyung’s books, and this kind of learning was exceptionally perilous. 

Taehyung had always been supervised, usually by multiple adults, whenever he attempted new magic. There was just no telling how it could go wrong. In the worst case scenario, Jungkook could’ve lost control of his own magic and killed not only himself, but also his brother in the process. That kind of risk was unacceptable. 

The nestling frowned, looking actually vexed with Taehyung for the first time. 

“He took the necessary precautions, and he wasn’t careless,” he said almost sharply, sitting up straight and no longer fidgeting with the blanket as he’d been doing for most of their discussion. 

“I’m not suggesting that he was, little one,” Taehyung assured him. “But your brother is young himself. Has to be if you were both born from the same mortal parents. Depending on his species, he’s actually near infancy. It isn’t safe for him to be teaching you magic he’s probably barely learned himself.”

This didn’t seem to soothe the nestling at all, but Taehyung was too busy getting caught up over the thought of Jungkook’s brother’s species to give it much notice. 

“Wait,” he stopped himself, absolutely dumbstruck with what he’d inadvertently missed. “You are a legacy. And a vampire.”

“And what about it?” the baby demanded, suddenly standing. His hand rested on the back of his wheelchair, but he stood firm, posture as strong as he could make it.

“Jungkook, don’t you understand that that could activate different parts of your bloodline?” Taehyung demanded. “Vampire blood changes people.”

“It didn’t,” the little one actually hissed , claws starting to sharpen on his fingers. While nothing in his bearing overtly changed, Taehyung suddenly felt he was on the defensive, and didn’t understand it at all. 

There was absolutely nothing wrong with being a hybrid. Sure, they weren’t overly common, but there was no need for Jungkook to act like even the suggestion was a personal attack against him. It just meant that he might have more aspects of himself to discover as his magic grew. 

“But how would you know ?” Taehyung pressed. “How could you tell what’s just vampire and what’s something more when you weren’t familiar with either sensation beforehand? We should talk to the hyungs, see if they can do some tests or something to figure out-”

“No!” the fledgling yelped, some strange note in his voice that made Taehyung stop entirely in his tracks. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that,” Jungkook breathed, an almost terrified expression crossing his face. 

Taehyung felt like a puppet with its strings cut, suddenly able to move freely though he hadn’t realized he was restrained before. “No,” Jungkook repeated more softly. 

A fleeting thought crossed Taehyung’s mind that what had just happened was important. He shouldn’t feel so absolutely frozen from the panic in the fledgling’s tone. There was something more going on here. But he didn’t have time to worry about it, too caught up in the building argument, and the thought slipped away. 

“But hyungs could help!” Taehyung cried. “I’m serious, Jungkook-ah, this could be important.”

“I said no ,” the baby repeated, anger growing in his tone. “You will respect that and not share my personal information without my consent!”

“I mean usually, yes ,” Taehyung agreed immediately. 

Their nest didn’t really have secrets, per se, but there were things that he only told Jimin and he knew it was the same for Namjoon and Hoseok and Jin and Yoongi. They’d just been through things together that made them uniquely suited to understand each other in a way that the rest of the nest couldn’t. There was nothing wrong with that as long as their private confidences didn’t endanger anyone. And that was the problem: this did. 

“But you don’t know how that side of you might affect your vampiric nature or your magic or your mindstate! It would be irresponsible of me not to tell anyone.”

“It would be an incredible breach of trust, and I would never have faith in you again,” Jungkook shot back, his fingers clenching on the chair until his knuckles went white. 

Taehyung stopped dead once more. There was something desperate in the fledgling’s eyes that made him wonder if there wasn’t a lot more to this story. Perhaps Jungkook already knew what being a legacy meant for a turned vampire. Maybe he was already experiencing it. And if the baby had successfully not only dealt with it himself up to this point, but even completely hidden it from Jin, perhaps Taehyung didn’t need to worry about immediate danger. 

He didn’t have much time to think about it, because the door suddenly slammed open. Yoongi stood silhouetted, wings flared behind him like he expected danger. 

What is going on in here?” he demanded, looking between the two of them. 

Taehyung wasn’t sure when he’d stood, but he became aware that he was only inches away from Jungkook, staring the baby down. The little one held his eyes unflinchingly, determination burning along with a healthy amount of fear. 

“Nothing,” the nestling answered, not looking away for a second. “We were just talking.”

“Right,” Yoongi snorted, striding across the room. Their staring contest was abruptly brought to an end when the Second swept Jungkook off his feet. “I think we’re done here.”

He cast a disappointed look at Taehyung and left without another word. 

Taehyung stood frozen in place, locking gazes with Jungkook once more as the baby looked back at him over Yoongi’s shoulder. The nearly wild look in his eyes made something in Taehyung snap. He nodded just slightly.

The little one went almost limp with the release of tension, his head falling on Yoongi’s shoulder and his breath stuttering so badly it was audible from across the room. 

Whatever this confrontation was about, Jungkook was clearly not ready to share it with the rest of the nest. His bodily autonomy had likely been stripped away from him in the last few weeks under the thumb of a vampire who had likely run plenty of tests to see how a possible hybridization had gone. Taehyung wasn’t stupid. He knew Jungkook had probably been experimented on. 

If the little one needed to keep his true nature a secret from the hyungs until he grew more comfortable, Taehyung could help him with that. As long as it wasn’t hurting Jungkook, he would do what he could. 

But he wouldn’t forget. Jungkook had another thing coming if he thought Taehyung would allow him to go through this alone. 

Chapter Text

Yoongi had very much not expected to feel pure panic and desperation swirl down his bond that day. No one had any activities that should trigger that kind of fear, and it was rare that anyone in his nest felt this kind of helpless terror anyway. Few things could challenge a member of Jin’s nest, and Yoongi would’ve felt all of them coming. 

He had followed the pull of that panic immediately, fear rising in his own chest at what could've caused this extremely negative reaction from a nest mate. He was surprised and disappointed to find Jungkook the source and Taehyung the instigator. 

He and Jin had tried their very best to impress upon the Sixth how important it was for him to bond with the Seventh. Yoongi had thought the nestling understood. To find the baby scared out of his mind in their first meeting was extremely concerning. 

Yoongi didn’t bother to stay and figure out what had happened. He couldn’t when his head was clouded with the little one’s fear. With no more than a few curt words, he swept Jungkook up and carried the baby out of the room. 

The nestling had been on his feet already, and he really wasn’t ready for that. Yoongi could see him trembling with the effort from all the way across the room, and didn’t hesitate to end this little bout of unnecessary strain. Jin wasn’t the only one who was happy to carry the baby around indefinitely, and Jungkook had abandoned his chair. That made him fair game to be carried in Yoongi’s books. 

The panic started to ease as soon as Yoongi had Jungkook in his arms, but the trembling did not. In fact, it actually picked up when the baby finally relaxed in his hold. Yoongi frowned, cuddling the little one closer. This had really been too much upset for a nestling who was so weak. Whatever Tae had said to Jungkook had clearly shaken him badly. The nestling wrapped his arm around Yoongi’s shoulders and hid his face in Yoongi’s neck. 

Yoongi hurried up the stairs, humming lightly to soothe the fledgling as he went. The trembling still didn’t ease. 

It wasn’t until they were nearly at the door of his room that Yoongi the little one made any sort of move. And at first, Yoongi mistook the slight adjustment of Jungkook’s position to be the baby clinging closer. Then he felt a wetness on his neck and frowned in confusion. 

The baby’s fright immediately eased once he started doing...whatever he was doing to Yoongi’s neck, so Yoongi didn’t worry about it too much for the moment. He let the little one mouth away at his skin with no comment. 

Instead, he carried Jungkook over to his bed and tried to set the nestling down. For the first time, the baby actually protested holding tighter to Yoongi’s neck and actually scraping his teeth against Yoongi’s throat. 

“Ok, ok,” Yoongi chuckled, climbing onto the bed and shifting the fledgling to straddle his lap. “Are you hungry, baby?” 

He could think of no other reason for Jungkook to be almost sucking on his neck like this, little fangs now scraping his skin repeatedly. It was actually a huge step for them that the baby would ask for food, even nonverbally like this. The little one had yet to request more than some fruit, despite their encouragement. Even if they were remiss enough to miss a feeding, Jungkook wouldn’t ask. 

It drove Jin to distraction. After that first time he’d realized they missed a chance to feed Jungkook yesterday, he’d sat all of them down and devised a real schedule for it. Not that Jungkook knew that, of course. The baby had been all tucked up in bed where Jin had put him after he apparently strained his magic quite a lot in his adventure to Jimin and Tae’s shop. Yoongi could see a pattern developing of the little one pushing himself too hard as soon as there were no watchful hyungs around, and he highly disliked it. 

Almost as much as Jin disliked that Jungkook had missed a feeding. Yoongi could hardly blame Jin for that anyway. He was also growing concerned that the fledgling seemed to be almost losing weight despite their best efforts to get him to drink. It had only been a few days and Yoongi knew they would have to wait and see, but between the frequency of feedings and the enhanced quality of most of their blood, Jungkook should’ve started to show improvement by now. It was concerning that he hadn’t. 

To have him asking for food now was a big relief for Yoongi, right up until the little one shook his head briefly, and then went right back to mouthing at his neck. 

“Precious, Hyung is very happy to feed you,” Yoongi offered, tilting his head to the side to expose more of his skin. It was maybe a bit desperate, but Yoongi didn’t mind using all the tricks in the book if it would get Jungkook to eat. “You don’t even have to move, I’ll just cut right above where you’re at and you can drink from there.”

“No!” the little one insisted, voice a little sharper this time. Distress flared again in their bond, and the baby actually attempted to nip at Yoongi’s neck. It was barely even enough for Yoongi to feel it, but he didn’t overly appreciate it. 

“Settle down, baby,” he said more sternly, winding a hand in the fledgling’s hair and pulling him back. “I won’t make you drink right now if you don’t want to, but you don’t bite me if you refuse to feed.”

Jungkook gave an even more upset whine and flailed back towards Yoongi, locking his arms around Yoongi’s neck once more and straining to get back to him. “Sorry!” he blurted out. “‘M sorry, please!”

Yoongi let go of him, bemused, and the baby immediately went back to sucking and rubbing his teeth along Yoongi’s neck. It didn’t hurt, of course. Jungkook’s teeth wouldn’t be sharp enough to actually puncture Yoongi’s skin for centuries to come. They may never get strong enough, given that Yoongi’s power would also grow during that time. That clearly wasn’t even the little one’s goal, if he didn’t want to be fed. So what one earth-

Oh. Yoongi relaxed as he realized exactly what was causing this. In order to eventually actually pierce the skin of other immortals, Jungkook’s teeth had to get stronger. And baby vampires sharped their teeth by teething

Jungkook had unconsciously struck on a new part of his own biology. 

Yoongi had never been around young vampires enough to bother learning their habits very closely. Back when Jin had been turned, there was no established tradition of what to expect, of course, so everything had been trial and error. It had taken a long time to be able to distinguish what was Jin and what was vampire. 

Yoongi had been with Jin along every step of that path, but it had been a long, long time ago, and he hadn’t really cared to see much of a difference between Jin’s habits and those of the species in general. It hadn’t seemed important at that point. 

Jin had mentored a few other vampires over the years, but never gotten very close to any of them. The First didn’t like introducing Yoongi to vampires and rarely brought him around when he was meeting them. 

Yoongi was a little amused at Jin overprotectiveness, but hadn’t particularly cared one way or another. He didn’t have anything against vampires, but if it made Jin feel safer to keep him away, Yoongi was more than willing to do that. He knew Jin’s history, after all. He wasn’t oblivious to why the oldest tended to keep his nest away from other vampires. 

They had never thought they would fill out their nest with any more vampires either. Up until now, each of them had been a different species, and they hadn’t really expected that to change. Jin didn’t look at vampires when he searched for nestmates, and the rest of them generally followed suit. 

There had really just been no good reason for Yoongi or anyone else in the nest to be very familiar with the traits of young vampires. Mature ones, of course they understood because of Jin. But not fledglings. 

They were going to need to brush up, because they should’ve been expecting this and it could’ve very easily gone terribly wrong. Yoongi initially let Jungkook continue because he could feel how it was calming the baby (and he wasn’t sure if that was a species wide feature, or if it just soothed Jungkook in particular). If the little one had tried this with some of the others who didn’t yet have a deep enough connection to be able to feel how calm teething made the nestling, the whole scenario could’ve gone an entirely different way. 

Yoongi shuddered to think what might’ve happened if Jungkook tried this with either of the other maknaes first. It was already difficult enough to get the baby to indulge in any of his vampire traits in front of them; a stark rejection of the teething could be detrimental. 

Now that he knew what was going on, however, Yoongi could pass on a warning. In fact…

He settled back against his headboard and closed his eyes, letting the baby gnaw on him and rubbing his back while his mind went elsewhere. Fixing a mental image of the little one in his thoughts, he sent it to the others as well. 

He’s eating! ” Jin cried, delighted. “ He hasn’t eaten without prompting at all yet, and I was getting so worried .”

Yoongi almost winced because he could feel that sentiment echoed through the others as well, and he was about to shatter that excitement. Still, he hoped he was just replacing it, not entirely yanking it away. 

Jungkook’s lips trailed down over to his collarbone and latched on there. 

Not quite ,” he denied. “ Teething .”

Jin immediately melted, a cooing sort of adoration filtering down to Yoongi. Namjoon and Hoseok were soon to follow. Jimin and Tae seemed confused for a split second, and then he got a faint squeal from Tae and reluctant endearment from Jimin. 

He must be very comfortable with you, Hyung ,” Namjoon said.

Try again to get him to eat after he’s teethed ,” Hoseok advised. “ Fledglings don’t like to be interrupted while they’re teething, but you’re our best bet at getting him comfortable enough to eat out of schedule .” 

It had been five hours since Yoongi fed the little one. He could do it again now without breaking the fledgling’s self-imposed four hour limit, but Jungkook has still thus far refused to feed from more than one person in an hour. With the effect teething was having on him, it really might be their best bet at getting him to relax enough to eat. 

Yoongi wasn’t sure if every fledgling reacted this way, or if teething was especially soothing to Jungkook, but the little one got progressively less tense as the minutes wore on until he was practically a puddle of goo in Yoongi’s lap. The more aggressive sucking and nibbling he’d started out with waned into near kisses and mostly just laying his lips against Yoongi’s skin.

It was only when he had all of Jungkook’s weight on him as the baby mouthed at his neck that Yoongi decided to try again. 

“Feeling better, sweet?”

A lazy sort of embarrassment fluttered over to him. The nestling nuzzled into him, then finally detached and turned his face into Yoongi’s shoulder. 

“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I don’t know what came over me.”

“Teething is normal for fledglings and a good thing,” Yoongi assured him gently, still rubbing the little one’s back. “Nothing at all to worry about.”

“I didn’t ask,” the nestling reminded him. “I should’ve.”

“You were a little upset, and I don’t even think you realized what you were doing at first, hmm?” He carded a hand through Jungkook’s hair, massaging his scalp with long fingers. 

“Not really,” the fledgling admitted. “I was...upset. I didn’t think about what I was doing.”

“Teething is instinctual for fledglings,” Yoongi told him. “You need to sharpen these little baby fangs somehow.” He nudged at one tiny fang. 

Jungkook blushed, and hid his face in his hands. “You don’t teethe on people ,” he protested. 

“Fledglings do,” Yoongi asserted, smiling at the extremely adorable image of a flushed baby. “Their fangs have to pierce through meat, so they often teethe on their sires or nestmates. I am more than ok with you teething on me, precious.”

“But enough about that,” he continued when the little one only blushed harder. “Are you hungry, Jungkookie?”

The fledgling’s face screwed up in distaste, but his eyes drifted over to the bag of tangerines Yoongi kept near his bedside. “Can I have fruit?” he asked shyly. 

Yoongi almost sighed. As much as he was glad the baby was willing to eat something , he really wished it was something that would actually nourish him. With as much fruit as Jungkook ate, you would’ve thought he was some kind of creature that depended on fruit as their main natural food source like Taehyung or Yoongi. Both of them kept low protein diets and got the best nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and berries. 

“Of course, love, but won’t you have some blood too?” Yoongi coaxed, cupping the fledgling’s face. “You’re so very thin, and I would feel better if you ate something that would fill you up as well.”

A conflicted look flashed over the little one’s face. He bit his lip, a habit Yoongi had noticed on that very first night and couldn’t really say he approved of. 

“It’s been four hours,” the nestling confirmed with a searching look into Yoongi’s face. 

“Five,” Yoongi said, meeting the baby’s gaze unflinchingly. All he could do was hold steady and hope that it would be enough. 

“I—Ok,” Jungkook finally agreed. “But only a little.”

Triumph rose in Yoongi so rapidly that he was unable to keep it from spilling over into their bond. A chaotic storm of emotions responded, ranging from relieved to jealous to endeared and everything in between. It was awfully confusing sometimes to be so very closely bonded to so many people. 

“Whatever you want, dear heart,” Yoongi said to Jungkook, trying not to seem too eager. He slit the skin along his own neck before the little one could change his mind and guided Jungkook in again for real nourishment this time. 

It was different, feeding this way as opposed to from the forearm as they usually did. Jungkook had to get in a lot closer, and he was much less aware of his surroundings, cut off from everything as he hid his face in Yoongi’s neck. 

It made Yoongi feel intensely protective. He could understand why sires tended to get very touchy when a fledgling was feeding. Jungkook was very vulnerable with his back turned to everything and his line of sight so restricted. Even in the safety of their own him, Yoongi felt an overwhelming urge to make sure the fledgling was secure. 

He cradled the little one even closer, one hand going to the back of Jungkook’s head to hold him in place, and the other arm wrapping tightly around the baby’s waist. Jungkook molded his body into Yoongi’s fitting himself as close as possible as well. Perhaps it was instinct, some buried realization that he was vulnerable and needed protection, or maybe the baby really did want to be close to Yoongi. 

Either way, Yoongi treasured it. Every step was a big step with someone as guarded and afraid as Jungkook. Yoongi was not going to take this show of trust for granted. He had no illusions that this would be a long feeding session, but it was infinitely better than what they’d had before. 

For now he would take what he could get and be excited about it. Afterwards, when the little one sat back with that tiny little dazed look in his big doe eyes, Yoongi would hold him still and feed him fruit from his own hand. He would try to get the baby talking because he had actually bonded the best with Jungkook so far due to their daily therapy sessions. 

And perhaps he could get to the bottom of what on earth had happened with Taehyung. 

Chapter Text

Note on auras: No one is born with a specific aura. Auras are based on personality, and tend to be quite versatile during childhood. They may change on a nearly monthly basis, or be quite stable depending on the child. 

They start to settle around adolescence, and are generally nearly fixed by adulthood. For an adult’s aura to change is rare and requires a major personality shift, but it can happen. It usually occurs after some kind of life altering event. That is not to say that it has to occur after such a change or that it always does. Some people go through their entire adult lives with no shift to their aura. 

 

It took Jungkook a few days to realize that his sire’s home was not just a building shrouded and protected by magic: the house itself was magic. Admittedly he spent most of those first few days sleeping anyway, so he didn’t feel too dumb when he finally understood why the staircase felt longer when someone was carrying him as opposed to when he went down it himself. 

When it had vanished on his fourth day in the house, it was a bit of a dead give away. All that was left was a short ramp between floors that he could navigate without having to activate the magical floating function of the wheelchair. 

Jungkook sat there dumbly at the top for a moment, then shrugged and wheeled himself down. 

It was at that point that he began to talk to the house. Maybe it was stupid, but Jungkook was surrounded by people he didn’t know and he didn’t trust any of them enough to confide in them yet. Having someone, even a questionably sentient house, to listen to him was comforting. 

The house never pressed him, and it never demanded answers. How could it? Instead, it heated the room in response to his words, or creaked despite the lack of movement. Jungkook knew it was listening and he appreciated it. 

He’d also discovered that the house was absolutely massive . Jin, at least, had clearly been living here for centuries, and there were rooms for every purpose Jungkook could think of. Bedrooms, art studios, potions labs, even ballrooms were all tucked away within these walls. Jungkook couldn’t imagine using even half of them. 

Then again, he’d found himself spreading out rather more than he would’ve expected of himself. Jungkook had been allowed in very few rooms of the manor he’d grown up in, and was used to limiting how much space he took up. 

He had been a disappointment in their eyes, a trick of biology that made his birth a lesson in failure after their enormous success with his brother. He’d been shunted to the side most of his life, hidden away and often locked in his room when they had people over. A dirty little secret confined to his own little corner of their enormous house. 

When Jin gave him his own room, Jungkook expected that he would fill as little of the space as possible. Certainly he hadn’t thought he would spill over into another room. Instead he found himself sprawling out, taking up more space when he’d always been encouraged to take up less. 

Jungkook had never had the opportunity to really choose his own space. In the manor, it had been assigned to him at his birth. His choice of apartment once he’d moved out had been extremely limited by proximity to his job and his financial situation. He’d ended up sharing with a siren who destroyed his things when Jungkook left them sitting around, so he’d kept everything tucked away in his bedroom and locked the door. 

Now that it was safe to leave his things everywhere and he was no longer restricted to only certain parts of the house, Jungkook found himself taking advantage of that in ways that he never thought he would. He left things in random places, forgetting a book in the kitchen, socks on the sofa, and a hairbrush in Yoongi’s room. 

Then again, perhaps that was because none of those items were actually his . He had yet to retrieve any of his belongings, and was just using what the nest had lent him for the time being. With the things he considered his , he was significantly more possessive. 

In fact, he was fairly sure the house had created an entirely new room for Jungkook to keep the few things he really deemed his safe. The door usually appeared in Jungkook’s bed room, but sometimes popped up in other places if he asked. He’d never been able to find it when he didn’t tell the house he wanted it. When he entered, the door disappeared behind him. 

The room itself was entirely circular with the plushest carpet Jungkook had ever set foot on. Jungkook’s memory hadn’t been working the best recently, but he was 100% sure that some of the blankets and pillows that absolutely covered the entire room had appeared spontaneously. 

Everything was designed for maximum comfort and safety.

It was in this room that Jungkook kept the bracelet Jimin had given him, and Mina’s necklace along with other assorted... shinies that he’d begun to collect recently. 

Jungkook had no idea why he had developed a sudden fascination with anything that glittered. He’d never cared for jewelry much before, always preferring a practical style. His clothing preferences had always been along the same line, designed for ease of use rather than any kind of flash. 

But now he could hardly keep his hands away from Jimin’s plethora of jewelry or Jin’s favorite shiny blanket. He’d snuck several pieces of pyrite out of the shop and had to drag himself away before taking anything else. It helped that he was most attracted to things that had a connection to his nest. The glittering things in the shop had been nice, but they hadn’t called to him in the same way Hoseok’s favorite bottle of sparkly nailpolish did. 

Jungkook’s stash of precious things was gradually growing larger, and the room accommodated for it. Sometimes Jungkook would walk in to find a new display cabinet. Other times it would be a shelf, or chest, or a little nook in the wall. No matter what Jungkook brought in, the house always responded with a new place to hide it. Jungkook almost thought he could feel fond amusement from the building at times. 

The house seemed to have taken a liking to him, for whatever reason.

Jungkook spent much of his free time exploring once he was up and about again. This usually happened in the mornings, before his sire woke up, because Jin tended to stay very close to Jungkook. 

The older vampire wasn’t overbearing, but he was nearly always hovering in the background in case Jungkook needed something. Any tiny inconvenience was removed before Jungkook even had to think about it, and Jin was ever ready to shower him with care and growing love. 

Jungkook had never been the center of anyone’s attention before (well, maybe his brother’s sometimes, but that was often cut short by their parents) and couldn’t say he didn’t like the feeling. It left him all warm and flustered. 

Jungkook still liked his alone time, however, and was thankful for the moments before Jin got up where he could just wander around, free as a bird to do whatever he pleased. 

This trip was likely to be longer than the ones he’d taken before. Jin had been called away very early in the morning for some kind of magical crisis and had taken Yoongi and Namjoon with him. Hoseok and Taehyung were holed up inside one of the bedrooms. Jungkook had heard something about the incubus being hungry and was very much not ready to see what needed to happen to sate that hunger, no matter if it did send a shiver of interest and desire down his spine as well as a curl of hunger in his stomach. 

This left only Jimin in the house with Jungkook. The cherub had taken one look at him, and promptly told Jungkook he would be in the shop all day. He had neither invited Jungkook to accompany him nor warned him to stay away, but Jungkook got the sense that he would prefer the latter. Jimin had given Jungkook more leeway recently, but he still wasn’t exactly happy to have him there. 

This suited Jungkook perfectly anyway. It had been a very long time since he’d cleaned his wings, and he actually needed a large body of water at this point. His scales were almost ready to peel off from how dry they were and it caused a constant burning sensation. 

He’d set off this morning with the intention of trying to find a pool. He could make do with a bathtub if he had to, but something bigger would be much better and he couldn’t imagine that there was no pool in this enormous building. 

Jungkook didn’t go in any particular direction, content to wander wherever the house pleased to take him. It would lead him to the pool eventually, and the sightseeing along the way was always interesting. 

He chattered softly as he went, telling the house stories from his childhood and complimenting the choice of decor in certain places. Jungkook wasn’t entirely sure who had been responsible for interior design, but was positive that the house at least rearranged things the way it liked. He could tell when he’d praised something the house itself had decorated because the air seemed slightly warmer and the floorboards would creak. 

When what looked like a back door opened onto outside, Jungkook shrugged and wheeled right on through. The wheelchair floated easily over the garden path, and Jungkook trusted the house to get him where he wanted to go. If it wasn’t taking him to a pool, maybe…

He stopped dead with a sharp gasp when he saw precisely where it was taking him. Before him lay an actual lake. His breath fled his chest to be replaced purely by the inexorable pull of the water. 

Jungkook was technically too weak to be shooting out of the wheelchair and stumbling at a near run to the water’s edge, but he did it anyway. It had been so long since he was in water deep enough to change and have a good swim. His tail almost started forming while he was still on the ground. 

The trill of absolute delight that left Jungkook as he entered the water surprised even himself. He had feared that with all his new forms, it would take him a bit to be able to pull out his original characteristics but it was easy as breathing. Easier. The shift came entirely naturally, gills forming and tail flicking immediately as soon as he touched water. 

A fierce, triumphant song filled the air, and Jungkook didn’t try to stop it. There was no one around. He could sing as he pleased. 

For an indeterminate amount of time, he was completely lost in the water. It could’ve been minutes or hours and he wouldn’t’ve noticed as he tore through the lake, exploring the depths with wide eyes. 

He snatched a few of the fish and ate a bit of duckweed as well. This was a freshwater lake, and Jungkook was used to saltwater, but nothing in here would harm him. He could still eat and swim as easily as he did in saltwater. 

His time playing in the water ended far more quickly than Jungkook might’ve hoped. His tail was in slightly better shape than his legs, but still terribly weakened and unable to support long periods of physical activity. It was almost physically painful, but Jungkook had to stop long before he was really ready to. 

His song turned sad as he dragged himself up onto the edge of a little island in the middle of the lake. That, Jungkook didn’t try to stop. He let his voice run free as he settled down with his tail still mostly in the water but his torso left bare. 

The scales needed to soak because they were so painfully dry. Usually this would be the time to use cleaning tools and scrubs on his fins and tail, but the scales were too delicate for that right now. If Jungkook was at home, he would’ve searched the family library for a sort of lotion recipe that would rehydrate his scales. It would be hidden, but he was sure he would be able to dig it out. 

He did get his siren inheritance from his father’s side of the family, after all. It was those ancestors who built the house he had grown up in, and they who curated the original library. Jungkook could not be the first siren who had been kept from water, and he was sure he would’ve found something to help in the library. 

Sirens were not a well liked species. Their vocal magic was considered threatening and morally dubious. Jungkook could make anyone do anything he pleased with a mere word. How could others not feel threatened?

When his father married his mother, it had never occurred to either of them that they might have a siren child. Both of their parents were dragons, after all. Very old dragons who had loved their children despite knowing that they would watch them die. Jungkook’s parents had married in the hopes that they would be able to bring back the dragon to the family line. 

What they had not considered, was that another immortal heritage might pop up. All four of Jungkook’s grandparents were dragons, and all of their children had taken that inheritance as well. His great grandmother on his father’s side, however, was a siren. It was a little far back in the family line, but magic was known to lie inert in a family’s bloodline for generations before manifesting once more. It wasn’t overly strange for Jungkook to take the siren blood. 

Instead of inheriting the desired dragon genetics, Jungkook was left with a near curse. People scorned and shunned sirens. In contrast to the near reverence dragons were treated with, sirens had no place in mortal society. 

Jungkook’s position was worse than most precisely because he had inherited such an old form of the siren gene. His great grandmother was born thousands of years ago, back when the siren form had been quite different than it was today. 

Back then sirens had had wings. 

Jungkook’s song became nearly strangled and terribly hurt as he allowed his wings to come out. 

As a child, he had hated them. They had made him an outcast for something he had absolutely no control over, and he’d thought they were horribly ugly and plain. Most wings he saw were on dragons, angels, cherubs, or fae. They were bright, often sparkling, sometimes scaled or beautifully colored. Jungkook’s wings were a perfect pattern of a sparrow’s: shades of brown and tan with small white patches. Nothing like the variety of other patterns he was surrounded with. 

And sirens no longer had wings. His wings were seen as an evolutionary throwback, a form that had been deemed no longer necessary and fazed out of the genetic pool. They signaled that he was underdeveloped and closer to a “savage” form. Even other sirens refused to include him in their society. 

Jungkook had been largely isolated even within the large siren community they lived near. Children had been discouraged from making friends with him when he was young, and he’d been given jobs that were largely considered menial labor as an adult. 

Things had gotten marginally better once his aura settled into a stable nurture. He’d been moved to work in the nursery and had the first job he actually enjoyed. He was still not well liked, however. He was treated like some kind of uneducated and simple nanny who could look after children tolerably well, but wasn’t to be trusted with anything else. 

It was frustrating because Jungkook knew he was capable of so much more. His magic had always been strong, another effect of his more ancient genes. He had the potential to be one of the most useful members of siren society if he was given the chance. 

Instead, he was shunted into the shadows at best and at worst…well. 

Even after months, his song still rose to a panicked and terrified pitch at the sight of his wings. They were nearly bare, raw skin peaking through where thick, glossy feathers should’ve been. He could still feel hands tangling in the shafts, pulling feathers out by the fistful. 

His entire body shuddered and he forced his thoughts away from the incident itself to inspect how the damage was healing. 

Not well, was the unsurprising answer. Jungkook had not had the right nutrients for months and had been kept in filthy conditions where he was unable to stretch his wings. The healthy sheen of oil that usually covered his feathers and made them water proof was gone, leaving the few remaining full feathers dull and brittle. The areas where feathers were still growing back in felt perpetually raw and often itched or burned as new feathers very slowly began to grow back in. 

Jungkook inspected this growth carefully. Under normal circumstances, he could use it to tell how much time had passed since his wings were damaged. This was far from the first time his feathers had been yanked out, and Jungkook knew approximately how long it took them to grow back. 

He’d been hoping it would help him figure out exactly how long Reginald had kept him. 

Jungkook had been turned into a vampire only a month ago, but there had been time before that. Reginald had held him for an unknown length of time before turning him. He only had a single chance to reach his final goal, after all. If it went wrong somehow or Jungkook’s magic was incompatible with the turning, Reginald had no second try. 

It had also been a time for the vampire to condition Jungkook before making him more powerful. The turning had augmented his power to a degree that Jungkook still didn’t truly understand. He was far beyond Reginald’s ability to capture and restrain now. 

But Jungkook had been bound before his magic grew large enough to protect him and conditioned to be unable to fight back. Much as he may have been magically capable of very easily overpowering Reginald after the change, he had been entirely unable to mentally and physically. 

Reginald had done things to Jungkook’s brain that would likely take him years to sort out. He sometimes couldn’t tell what his own thoughts were and what had been implanted by the vampire. He’d accidentally triggered behaviors in himself that didn’t remember having before he was kidnapped and he barely felt safe in his own head. 

It was hard to hide that from the rest of the nest sometimes. The emotional connection between him and the oldest two at least often gave him away when he wasn’t paying attention. 

His only saving grace was that he was so very used to controlling his voice. It had become second nature to make sure there was not a single note of his song in his voice at all times, and maintaining a mental barrier between himself and the rest of the nest worked in largely the same manner. It was just another thing to control and restrain. 

Still, both Jin and Yoongi had sought him out several times since he’d been here to soothe away terrors that Jungkook couldn’t remember the cause of. 

His memory was Jungkook’s biggest concern at this point. He knew it wasn’t working correctly and hadn’t been for awhile. Reginald had played around in his head far too much for Jungkook to be able to fully trust old memories, and he wasn't forming new ones as perfectly as he should. Sometimes he just fully forgot things and it was hard to keep track of time. 

Reginald had given Jungkook no way to measure time, and Jungkook had hoped his wings would give some indication of how long it had been.

Unfortunately, the mess he was greeted with gave him very limited aid. His feathers were nearly all starting to grow back in again, leaving only a few places that were fully bald, but they were all at different stages of growth. Some seemed to be coming in fine and showed maybe a few month’s progress, but others barely poked through the skin. It was impossible to tell from the mess how long had passed. 

Jungkook’s recovery had been in less than ideal conditions, and his feathers clearly showed it. Some of them were starting to grow in crooked or uneven. Other areas had some sign of infection. And the few feathers that appeared to be coming in correctly were the wrong color . Jungkook hated that. His wings were already ugly enough without the feathers coming all splotchy and patchwork as whites and greys instead of tans. 

Given the state they were in, it would probably be several molts before his wings even began to recover. If Jungkook were at home, he would be able to speed up this process. He knew there were spells in his family library to force molts, and that was honestly probably the best thing for his wings right now. He could shed the vast majority of his feathers and just start all over again with proper conditions for growth and care along the way. 

There were also various spells for straightening his feathers, and remedies for bringing back their healthy oils. Even the discomfort of growing them could be slightly eased. 

For now, however, Jungkook was left to treat them as best he could on his own. He refused to go back home while he was still so vulnerable and uncertain of his own mind. 

A tiny part of Jungkook’s brain whispered that treating it by himself was still not his only option. Both Jimin and, almost more importantly, Yoongi had feathered wings. Yoongi was also a primarily bird based creature, and his skill in healing definitely meant he would be able to help Jungkook with his wings. 

But—

A hard grip on his shoulders, pinning him down as he screamed . People laughing and jeering at his pain . A ripping, tearing agony down his spine as dozens of feathers at a time came loose

Jungkook’s song nearly choked off and hit a harsh, sour note. The last time someone had touched his wings…

No. 

Jungkook had spent his entire life ostracized for his wings. He had finally found a place where people were honestly kind to him and he almost felt the nest was truly beginning to care for Jungkook as himself, not just Jin’s Childe. He couldn’t bring himself to ruin that. 

Taehyung had already begun to catch on, and Jungkook wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep his secret. The nest’s magic was incredibly closely intertwined, and even his nearly perfect masking skills wouldn’t hide him forever. Eventually, he would have to tell everyone what he was. 

But that was a thought for another day. 

For now, he would do what he could for his wings while he rested for a little while. Hopefully, he would have more time to swim before the hyungs noticed he was missing. 

Next time he got some alone time, he would need to spend it making his best approximation of healing salves based on his memory of what he’d read. 

And some day, when Jungkook himself was ready to share, when the pain of having his bodily autonomy ripped from him had dulled, when he trusted the nest a little bit more, he would finally sit down to tell everyone what had really happened to him. 

He would do it on his own time because everything had been forced out of his control and he needed to take that back at least a little bit. 

Jungkook finished up what little grooming he could do, and splashed back into the deeper water. He was finally free after who knows how long of fear, pain, and captivity. He would be damned if he didn’t enjoy that to it’s absolute fullest. 

Chapter Text

Jimin sighed and wiped his forehead, glaring down at the earrings on the table in front of him. He’d been asked to enchant them with a particularly tricky spell, and it was taking him much more time and effort than he’d originally hoped it would. 

The issue was the incredible sensitivity of this particular spell. Any single element out of place, from the ratio of metals present in the earrings to even a breath at the wrong time while chanting the spell threw everything off. Jimin had never worked with such a very delicate spell before, and he hoped not to have to for a long while after this. 

He half wished Taehyung was around to cheer him up after this latest failed attempt, but was also grateful that the pixie had left him alone this morning to work. The few times he’d tried the spell while Tae was around, the magic had gone much more drastically wrong. Taehyung’s magic instinctively started to aid Jimin when his own began to run down, and that always threw off the spell in drastic ways. They’d made the mutual decision that it was best for the Sixth to be elsewhere while Jimin was working on this project. 

When Tae had dragged Hobi-hyung upstairs to feed him this morning, Jimin had seized his chance to try the project again. He’d maybe been...a little less than sincere in inviting Jungkook to join him. And it was entirely possible that he’d made that very clear to the fledgling. 

For once, it wasn’t Jungkook himself that Jimin was censoring. It was the little one’s magic . If Tae’s magic, as well controlled as it usually was, reacted when Jimin performed this spell, what would the nestling’s do? Jimin didn’t want to find out and wouldn’t have been able to work on the earrings if Jungkook had decided to join him. Since he was nearing the date he’d promised to have them ready, he really did need to get down to business, and that meant Jungkook had to go find something else to do. 

Jimin doubted the fledgling really minded very much. Jin tended to be very protective with his babies, especially when they’d recently been hurt. Jimin knew Jungkook hadn’t had much alone time since he arrived. He rather thought the fledgling would enjoy a little bit of time to himself. 

But now that Jimin was thinking about it, it had been hours since he’d started and he had no idea what everyone else had been up to in the meantime. He cast one last disgruntled look at the earrings (he’d been so close ; he would get it next time for sure) and strode out of his magically protected workshop. His nest could still contact him mentally while he was in there and vice versa,  but it took more effort and Jimin was currently a little low on magic after such a taxing spell. It would be easier to check in with everyone while he made himself lunch outside of the bubble that was his workshop. 

Jimin opened up his mental sense as he entered the house and was nearly blown away by the excess sex magic currently lingering in the air. It seemed that Tae had indeed been very....thorough in feeding Hoseok. 

Sex with an incubus was always an experience, but it did generate differing levels of sex magic each time. When they really let Hobi do as he pleased, there was always more energy than the incubus could take in at one time. Their own excess of magic and the intensity of the bond between them meant that any combination five of them with Hoseok could produced more power than any one sex demon could absorb. 

Jin had long ago come up with a way of storing the left over magic in case Hoseok needed access to energy when no one else was available. Sexual energy helped Hoseok heal more quickly, but no one wanted to have sex when one of their nest was injured. There were also times when Hoseok was just hungry and nobody was in the mood ( rarely , sure, given that there were six of them having sex, but it happened occasionally). Storing excess sexual energy in the house allowed Hoseok to just use it when he needed it without worry. 

Jimin knew it had come in useful this last month when they spent most of their time trying to break into the house where Jungkook was held. Hoseok was expanding his magic at an alarming rate, and the hyungs had been too tired and worried to want to have sex very often. Hoseok had made a significant dent in their store of magic. Jimin hadn’t realized just how big of a dent until now. 

Usually, he would barely even notice when the pools of sexual energy were replenished because they were already so full. It was like adding a couple liters of water to a pond: a negligible difference. This time it was like strolling straight off the end of a peer into a lake you didn’t even know was there. Walking in with his senses wide open probably hadn’t helped. 

Jimin took a few deep breaths to steady himself, and then cast his mind out again. It was still an effort for him to link up directly with the hyungs, especially when they were far away. It took a lot of magical control to be precise about who he was speaking to or to narrow down their locations individually . 

As the Fifth, Jimin’s magic senses were sharp, but often not very precise. He could tell that magic was being done, but often not what type of magic or who had cast it. Jin assured him that would come with time. Five was a naturally chaotic number, and that sometimes got in the way of the more precision-orientated magics for younger immortals. Finer details could be difficult for Jimin. 

Still Jimin had become familiar enough with his nestmates’ magic that he could usually tell which one was which and where approximately each one was. 

Jin, Namjoon, and Yoongi were still out. When a magical emergency was called, it could sometimes be hours until they got home. As old as Jin and Yoongi were, their expertise, magic, and sometimes even the respect they commanded was instrumental to solving problems. Though Namjoon was significantly younger than them, he was still considered old to the immortal community as a whole, and his intelligence inspired awe. The three of them were called in for various requests of aid fairly regularly.

Hoseok sometimes went along, but the hyungs didn’t like leaving Jimin and Taehyung home alone too often. It was part of why they’d been so disgruntled this last month. No one had bothered to explain to the two youngest what was so important about Jin’s “treasure” so Jimin and Taehyung had felt rather abandoned for no apparent reason. Jimin understood the danger of a new vampire, but he still thought he and Taehyung should’ve been told what was happening. 

He pushed the annoyance aside to focus on the feel of Hoseok and Taehyung upstairs, asleep. That was unsurprising. Feeding Hoseok was involved . It wasn’t at all rare for all parties involved to be exhausted and sleep for hours afterwards. 

It made Jimin frown, however, because it had been hours since he started his project. Where was Jungkook? Had the fledgling missed every single feeding scheduled between Jin feeding him at breakfast and now?

A terrible pit of worry and guilt formed in Jimin’s stomach. He’d technically been left in charge of the nestling. Hyungs had trusted him to watch out for the new baby while they were all busy with something else, and Jimin had literally locked himself in his room for hours instead. 

Who knows what could’ve happened in that amount of time, and it made Jimin uneasy that the fledgling had never come to ask for food. What if Jungkook had run into one of the sealed rooms and somehow managed to open it? Jimin had no idea what was kept in there, but he was almost positive no one had warned the little one away from them yet. The house was full of things the nestling really shouldn’t be getting into unknowingly. 

And besides, Jungkook was still quite weak. Really all it would take to injure him was a bad fall. Jimin didn’t even know if the fledgling had enough control of his magic to call out for them along the bond if he needed them. 

The fact that Jimin couldn’t immediately sense him was further terrifying. Jimin had not been unable to find a nestmate when he wanted them since he first began to use the bond. Even if he couldn’t feel exactly where they were, he could make it clear that he wanted them and they would come running. 

He closed his eyes again, scowling with effort as he pushed his senses further. This was his own fault. He’d done nothing to strengthen his bond with the baby, so of course he wasn’t going to be able to sense Jungkook well. 

It took him intense concentration and several minutes, but Jimin was absolutely determined to find the nestling now, so he pushed his sense as far as they could go until—There! Jimin sighed in relief as he finally pinpointed where the baby was, and then scowled because what the hell?

He turned on his heel and strode determinedly towards the back door. It sprang open as he approached, though Jimin hadn’t realized he was using his magic to open it. He paid it no mind and instead rushed down the garden path. 

What on earth was the fledgling doing all the way out there? Jimin wasn’t worried. He wasn’t. It was just… Okay, maybe the idea that the little one had somehow made it all the way across the grounds and a good way through the forest surrounding the property was a little concerning. 

None of them had known Jungkook was going out, and wild creatures wandered into the woods fairly often. Jungkook was unable to move very quickly, and Jimin didn’t know how capable he was of defending himself magically. The little one was vulnerable and had entered a dangerous area without realizing it.

Jimin tried to comfort himself with the idea that the fledgling’s bond with Jin and Yoongi was strong, and the oldest two would’ve immediately alerted everyone if something had gone even mildly wrong with Jungkook. 

Still, the baby was almost half a mile out and it had taken Jimin several minutes to locate him. What if there had been an emergency? 

Jimin tried to shake off the thought. Jungkook was an adult and of course he didn’t need a minder when he left the house. It was just that the baby was still so weak. 

If Jimin’s steps quickened again, there was no one around to comment on it. 

Jungkook was halfway across the lawn when Jimin finally caught sight of him and nearly broke into a run. 

“What happened ?” he gasped, surging forward to pluck anxiously at the nestling’s wet shirt. 

The little one stared at him with a shocked expression, and didn’t answer immediately. Jimin fussed at him, taking in the equally damp pants and soaked hair. 

Jungkook ,” Jimin protested the continued silence. 

“I...found the lake,” the baby answered. 

And ?” Jimin demanded. “What did you do, dump yourself into it?”

No way should the little one be swimming right now. Water therapy was good for rehabilitating damaged muscles, but not with just sudden exposure, and definitely not alone. Especially not in unfamiliar waters when Jungkook had no way of knowing the depth or safety. 

Not only could the water itself have been unfit for swimming, but Jimin happened to know that the shallow water near the shore of Jin’s lake dropped off sharply with no warning not too far from the bank. If Jungkook had waded too far and lost his footing unexpectedly while his body was still recovering…

Jimin shuddered at the very thought.

“I found the lake,” Jungkook repeated, a bit bemused. 

Jungkook ,” Jimin repeated, more scolding this time. “Of all the—And you decided to just, what dive in ? Do you know how dangerous…”

He trailed off at the fledgling’s continued confusion. It was clear that the little one didn’t really understand the issue. Well then. Jimin shook his head sharply and grabbed the handles of Jungkook’s chair to push him back inside. 

Well then

Jimin accompanied the nestling into the kitchen, muttering under his breath the entire way. Not only had Jungkook apparently attempted to kill himself by taking a dip in the lake, but he’d missed at least three feedings. It was clear that the baby wasn’t too worried about it right now. 

He was going to be the death of Jimin. 

But hopefully not anytime soon. Because Jungkook might not be overly concerned about the safety of his latest stunt, but Jimin very much knew someone who would be. The thought almost made Jimin break out into a little smirk. He could not wait for Jin to get home. 

Chapter Text

Jin surveyed his two babies before him with his hands on his hips. Jimin shuffled his feet, abashed under Jin’s less than amused scrutiny. Jungkook’s pretty hands twisted in his lap, damp clothing sticking to his skin and hair still dripping. A very fine tremor worked its way through the baby’s body. 

This was what made Jin speak. Maybe under other circumstances, he would’ve let his little ones sweat for a few more minutes, but Jungkook had just barely finished feeding from Jimin after his impromptu trek out into the forest. He was still soaked from his apparent dip in the lake and had thoroughly worn himself out. He needed rest. 

“Jungkookie, my treasure, while I’m very happy that you’re feeling well enough to be out and about exploring, I do wish you would leave a note if you’re going out of the house, love. We can all find you with magic, but communication is still important. Just like any family, we like to stay updated on general plans.”

Jin didn’t insist on knowing exactly where everyone was at every second, of course, but they knew each other’s basic schedules. They usually alerted each other if those plans changed. 

More importantly, Jungkook had gone out into the forest while in ill health without telling anyone. Jin made the forest as safe as possible, but he wasn’t omniscient, and magical dwellings usually attracted magical beings. Jin always wanted to know when someone was going to be in the forest. 

“That’s especially true while you’re still injured and we’re still forming bonds with you,” he continued. “We may need a few minutes to find you. If you had needed help quickly, it would’ve been difficult for the others to get to you in time. We would all appreciate it if you let someone know before heading out next time.”

“Yes Jin-hyung,” Jungkook agreed, dipping his head as another shiver wracked his body. “I wasn’t actually planning on going outside, but ended up wandering more than I expected. I’ll let someone know next time.”

“Good boy,” Jin praised. He didn’t miss the slight flush in the baby’s face or the little shiver that rocked him once more. Jin wondered if it was due to pleasure or cold this time. He tucked the reaction away for future exploration. 

“Now, I’m more concerned about you missing feedings. This is not the first time we’ve talked about this, and I very much do not intend to let it become a habit. As your sire, I am responsible for making sure you are adequately fed and cared for. If you cannot maintain the schedule we decided on, I will step in. You are already consuming the lowest amount of blood that I would consider safe. You cannot miss meals, do you understand?”

This was truly what Jin was more concerned about. Jungkook’s eating habits were troubling and had yet to really improve. Jin had been hoping that they would be able to coax the little one into taking more food as time wore on, but had so far been proven wrong. It hadn’t been long yet, and maybe it was too soon to expect to see a change, but Jin still worried. 

It grated at him that his baby was surrounded by unlimited food and still almost starving. Feeding Jungkook was actually Jin’s only concrete duty as the fledgling’s sire. He felt like he was failing, but was equally aware that he couldn’t just push Jungkook on this matter. The little one insisted on very few things, but was also incredibly stubborn when he wanted to be. It was a battle Jin would not win. 

For now, he could avoid the fight because Jungkook was getting some blood, even if it wasn’t enough to flourish. If the fledgling kept missing meals like this, however, things would start going downhill very quickly. Jin was loath to use his authority over the nestling to make him do something he didn’t want to, but food was actually not optional. Not for a vampire. 

The nestling’s nose crinkled in distaste, but he nodded reluctantly at Jin again. “I understand, Sire. I’ll be more careful about missing feedings.”

Jin fixed him with a serious gaze for a few seconds longer, evaluating whether or not the fledgling really meant it. By all appearances, Jungkook was sincere. As unenthusiastic as he was, he met Jin’s eyes and Jin sensed no guile in their bond. In fact, Jungkook was reaching out to him with sincerity and apology. The gesture warmed Jin, even if he wasn’t quite sure how the baby had adapted to using that magic so quickly. 

Jungkook would try. Only time would tell if he would succeed. 

Jin nodded, satisfied. 

“This is your last warning, little one,” Jin said seriously. “Do not test me.”

Jungkook bit his lip, but gave Jin a nod in return. 

Jin finally looked away from him, gaze flicking over towards Yoongi, who was leaning on the door frame with his arms crossed over his chest. The bonghwang immediately started forwards, crossing the room to grab the handles of Jungkook’s wheelchair and direct the baby out of the room. 

“Have to get you all cleaned up. Who knows what could’ve been in that water, and the strain on your muscles…” Yoongi trailed off, shaking his head as he walked through the door to leave Jin alone with Jimin. Fondness warmed Jin as his oldest nestmate clucked over the new baby with genuine worry. Yoongi had always been soft for the little ones. 

Then Jin blocked out the concerned stream of thoughts from Yoongi’s direction and turned back to Jimin. He paused for a moment to take a deep breath and center himself. 

Jungkook’s actions had been entirely due to lack of self care and forgetfulness. Jin was not completely unaware that the little one had been having a bit of trouble with his memory lately, and self care was something they were working on. Nothing the baby had done was actually that serious. 

Jimin, on the other hand...Jin was torn. 

Jimin had been trusted to take care of the baby and he’d absolutely failed at that responsibility. He’d made himself physically unavailable and neglected to care for a member of his nest whom he knew was in fragile health. That was entirely unacceptable. 

But it also wouldn’t be fair to blame Jimin for everything that had happened. For one thing, Jungkook was an adult. Much as Jin thought of all his little ones as babies, Jungkook was old enough to be able to take care of himself if left alone for a few hours. There should’ve been no reason he had to keep an eye on him. 

Except for the feedings. Jimin knew Jungkook had to be fed, and he was also aware that Hoseok and Taehyung were likely to sleep after feeding Hobi. Jimin had been the only person in the house who could give Jungkook blood at the time. His forgetfulness in this situation was not something Jin could just let pass. 

But it was forgetfulness. For all that he might not be entirely enamoured with Jungkook, Jimin would never leave someone to starve if he could help it. He had not deliberately set out to make Jungkook go hungry; he just got caught up with his project. 

Still, Jin was a little disappointed that the cherub had decided to bury himself in the commission in the first place instead of spending time with the other nestling. It would’ve been a perfect opportunity for the two of them to bond, with everyone else otherwise occupied. 

Jimin had never missed a single chance to bond with Taehyung when the nest was courting the pixie, and it hurt Jin to see him deliberately overlook Jungkook like this. Like it or not, Jungkook was a permanent addition to their nest, and Jimin’s refusal to accept that completely was going to become a problem very soon. 

Jin could not leave Jungkook. Not legally for the next five years, and likely not ever with the rite of First Blood. If Jimin rejected Jungkook completely, it would split the nest. They were not to that point yet, and Jin thought Jimin was growing to like Jungkook. He’d settled into a tentative hope that the two of them would start to learn to like each other soon. They couldn’t do that if Jimin wasn’t open to bonding and Jimin’s actions today suggested that he was still not viewing Jungkook as a permanent member of his nest. 

Jin knew full well that the cherub would never have left any of his other nestmates alone in such a delicate condition. Jimin had always been something of a caretaker, and could usually be found glued to any nestmate that was even mildly ill or injured. His decision to leave Jungkook alone told Jin that he very much did not see Jungkook as a nestmate. 

Maybe that was to be expected, given the way Jungkook had joined them, but it could not continue much longer. Jin had given Jimin some leeway thus far because he knew this was an adjustment and these were far from ideal circumstances. If he had his way, he never would’ve added a new person to their nest like this. 

Reality had gotten in the way, however, and Jin couldn’t change what had already been done. He didn’t even honestly want to. For all that he hadn’t picked Jungkook, he was already beginning to love him just as fiercely and possessively as he did the rest of his nest. 

Jungkook had all the qualities he looked for in new additions, and even those he would’ve wanted to see in a Seventh. The little one was emotionally wise beyond his years, and his nurturing aura was perfect for a Seventh. Jungkook was unfailingly kind, liked to help as much as they would allow him, and was growing to genuinely care for them in a very short amount of time. 

Jungkook had not been chosen, but he fit . He filled in gaps that Jin hadn’t realized were there, and most of the others were already starting to fall for him as he did for them. Even Taehyung had started voluntarily spending time with the nestling.

Jimin seemed to be the last hold out. Jin didn’t want to push the cherub; trying to force the babies to be friends would only result in further division. On the other hand, this couldn’t continue. Jimin wasn’t approaching Jungkook as an unknown other in an unbiased manner, but as a potential enemy. He wasn’t cruel, but he was nowhere near as kind as he usually was to strangers either. 

As much as Jin had hoped Jimin would grow beyond that without Jin’s interference, it seemed that was in vain. Jin expected better of his nest, and was honestly disappointed at Jimin’s complete unwillingness to even try to like Jungkook. 

For the second time within only a few weeks, he expressed this to Jimin. “I am disappointed,” he said quietly. Jimin’s face twisted in guilt and grief. “You are not responsible for Jungkook,” Jin continued, “but I had hoped that you would at least try to form a relationship with him. I thought you were mature enough to understand that he has as little agency in this situation as you do.”

“You don’t know that!” Jimin snapped, less angry than frustrated this time. “He’s been here more than a week now, and still no one has bothered to figure out if he went into receiving your blood willingly!”

“No one includes you,” Jin rebuked, refusing to rise to Jimin’s baiting. 

Truthfully, he wasn’t even sure that he wanted to know at this point. It would hurt to find out that the fledgling had willingly allowed himself to be turned without Jin’s consent. Jin had been avoiding asking because he didn’t want the negative emotions that revelation would cause to get in the way of him bonding with Jungkook. 

He had to admit, however, that they couldn’t dance around the issue forever. He would eventually have to know whether or not Jungkook had wanted to be turned. It wasn’t fair to either of them for him to keep avoiding it. Jin deserved to know if Jungkook had knowingly violated his consent. And Jungkook deserved an entirely different kind of support if this had been done to him rather than by him.

 Jin himself had been turned into a vampire with very little thought as to his own consent. Well-meaning as that gesture was, he still remembered the horror he’d gone through when he found out what he’d become. His body had been changed without his permission, and the terrified disgust he’d gone through was not likely ever to fade completely. 

If anyone could help Jungkook through the unwanted transition into being a vampire, it was Jin. As Jungkook’s sire, Jin was failing if he didn’t address those issues, and it was selfish to delay merely because Jin was worried about his own feelings being hurt.

They had stalled long enough on this matter and Jimin was right about that. 

Jimin also had every opportunity to ask just like the rest of them, though. He’d made the choice to avoid Jungkook instead.

Jimin looked down, kicking lightly at the floor. He was clearly not at all placated, but recognized the truth of that statement as well. 

“But your relationship with your nestmate isn’t the most important thing right now. What I’m most concerned about is the fact that you knew you were the only one around to feed him, and you still chose to make yourself unavailable. Jungkook can’t be missing meals like this, Jimin.”

“I know,” Jimin agreed. “I didn’t mean to, honestly. I just lost track of time, I wasn’t deliberately avoiding him when he needed to feed.” He fixed an earnest gaze on Jin, sincerity in every part of his being. 

“I know, love, and Jungkook is also capable of coming to find someone when he needs to eat. This isn’t entirely your fault. At the same time, our nest, myself in particular, is responsible for making sure he’s fed. I trusted you to be there for him, and you weren’t. This is the second time Jungkook has missed a feeding while with you, and we talked about this the last time. If we have to go over it a third time, we will be having a very different kind of discussion.”

Jimin winced and blushed, but nodded. He did understand the serious nature of this issue. 

In fact, the relief and happiness Jin had felt in their bond when he got home was proof of that. Jimin wasn’t happy that Jungkook was getting in trouble. Instead, he was relieved that there was someone around who would step in when Jungkook was not prioritizing his need to eat, and that “someone” didn’t need to be Jimin himself. 

The cherub was more than aware of how dangerous it was to refuse to eat and that intervention was sometimes needed. It was also a delicate topic for Jimin as well, though. Jimin did not want to be the person responsible for making sure someone else ate because he didn’t even want to eat himself sometimes. At the same time, he was happy to know that there was someone to do it. 

Jimin’s happiness on Jin’s arrival wasn’t at all malicious, and therefore reassured Jin. Jimin did want Jungkook to recover and fall into a more healthy eating pattern. Even though he didn’t like the fledgling, he wasn’t deliberately being cruel either. 

Jin sighed, observing his cowed nestling. “You have never been anything except devoted and caring to your nestmates, Jiminie. Even strangers are usually met with kindness and a willingness to help. I don’t expect you to love Jungkook right off the bat. I’m just asking you to give him a chance and treat him with the same respect that you would grant anyone else in the meantime. Do you think you can do that?”

Jimin finally deflated completely. “Yes, hyung, I can do that. I really am sorry. I just lost track of time. I’ll make more of an effort with Jungkook in the future.”

Jin smiled as pride and gratitude burst in his chest. Jimin may be the most wary out of all of them, but only because he wanted to protect the rest of them. Jimin was starting to realize that his behavior was hurting his nest more than it was helping them. This would force him to actually confront the issue in a much more mature way, and Jin was more than ready for that to happen. 

Jin knew Jungkook would very soon worm his way into Jimin’s affections if Jimin gave him half a chance. 

“Then get over here,” he demanded, opening his arms to his nestling. “I didn’t get a hug this morning.”

Jimin grinned as he tripped across the room and almost fell into Jin’s arms. Jin cradled him as he pushed that pride and thankfulness through the bond. He hoped that this time, Jimin really was ready to start letting Jungkook in. 

Chapter Text

Hoseok frowned worriedly as he followed Yoongi and Jungkook upstairs. Yoongi had already tucked a blanket around the baby, but Jungkook was clearly shivering. Hoseok didn’t understand it. Jungkook was a fledgling. Fledglings weren’t supposed to get cold. 

“-so dangerous , half a mind to take you over my knee anyway, no matter what Hyung said,” Yoongi muttered furiously as he hurried them along. “Do you have any idea how risky it was to just dump yourself in water? That lake is a hazard even to completely healthy babies, but you can still barely even walk , and—”

“Hyung,” Jungkook unwisely interrupted. “I was fine . I’m a very strong swimmer, there was nothing to worry about.”

“Don’t you ‘hyung’ me!” Yoongi scolded, making the little one slump down a little in his chair, but also hide a fond smile behind his hand. “It doesn’t matter how strong of a swimmer you were, you’re not physically capable of the same things you usually are right now! You had no idea what could be in that lake, and it was extremely rash of you to just jump in like that!”

“You need a bath,” Hoseok put in, partially to distract Yoongi because the bonghwang was starting to get quite worked up and partially because it was true. Who knew what was in that water? Hoseok couldn’t remember the last time that even Jin had bothered to check the lake. 

It wasn’t like they were prone to swimming in it. Both Hoseok and Yoongi were creatures of fire while Taehyung and Jimin couldn’t get their wings wet. All of them could swim, of course, but it just wasn’t the most comfortable or easy thing for them. 

Hoseok couldn’t even remember the last time they’d gone swimming in the lake, and it certainly needed some inspection before they let the baby in it again. 

“Bath!” Yoongi squawked as though the idea had just occurred to him. “Yes! You need to be clean! What if there were parasites in the water?”

“Hyung, I’m fine ,” Jungkook repeated, almost giggling. Inadvisable, if you asked Hoseok. Very inadvisable. Overprotective Yoongi was no joke. The stories Hoseok could tell… “Nothing happened, and I enjoyed the water,” the little one continued. 

“You’re going to enjoy this water,” Yoongi retorted somewhat lamely as he started the tub. Hoseok was well aware that the Second’s attention was not actually focused entirely on their conversation right now. 

Yoongi was far more preoccupied with mentally running through a list of all the health checks he wanted to do on Jungkook. Immortal the baby might be, but there was still plenty that could harm him. Yoongi pulled out several potions that Hoseok recognized as heavy-duty cleansers and salves for aching muscles. The bonghwang continued muttering darkly as he poured them under the stream of running water.

It was only as Yoongi went to put the bottles down on the edge of the tub that he noticed everything else set out there. It had been a long day for the bonghwang, and self care had fallen a bit to the wayside for all of the hyungs since Jungkook was turned. It was in no way the baby’s fault, but Yoongi hadn’t had his wing cleaned in quite awhile, and Hoseok had been hoping to spoil him a bit today. Hoseok had carefully laid everything out within reach, and had been planning to have the bath already steaming when Yoongi got home. 

The trio had returned earlier than expected, however, and they all quickly became distracted by the nestling’s unexpected dip in the lake. Hoseok had left everything mid preparation when he felt the jolt of panic that went through Jin and Yoongi on coming home to find the baby soaked and just now getting fed. Hoseok’s intention to pamper Yoongi had gone to the wayside. 

Hoseok of course didn’t blame Jungkook; it’s not like the little one had known he had plans and the baby hadn’t technically done anything wrong even if he had been rather reckless. Hoseok also didn’t understand, though. 

He had absolutely no idea what could’ve driven the fledgling to think it was a good idea to go for a swim in the state he was in. Jungkook had been a good patient up until this point, sticking to the wheelchair and doing his best in every physical therapy session. It was early days yet in his recovery, but he wasn’t making a fuss about following instructions and being impatient the way Jimin usually was. 

This impromptu dip in the lake was therefore out of character. Just swimming on your own was dangerous enough, but to do it in Jungkook’s state? The fledgling had to know that it wasn’t smart. 

Honestly if it had been any of the rest of them who did it, Hoseok didn’t doubt that they already would’ve been over Jin or Yoongi’s knee. Playing it fast and loose with your health was the one sure fire way to rile the oldest two. The little one had only been spared because he wasn’t settled in and comfortable yet. 

There was a difference between allowing Jungkook the independence he deserved as an adult, and letting him do things that were just plain stupid. This was toeing that line. 

Hoseok was not at all angry, but he was very concerned. He could think of no logical reason for the baby to decide that now was a good time for a swim, and Jungkook had come back in surprisingly high spirits despite being scolded. Maybe the little one just really liked water, but the whole incident was a little odd. 

Setting that worry aside, Hoseok was also a bit disappointed that he wouldn’t get to work on Yoongi’s wings today. The Second really did deserve to be pampered, especially after the stress of the day so far. 

“Oh, Hobi,” Yoongi said, fixing Hoseok with those big shining eyes. “Baby, did you do this?”

Hoseok shrugged, trying to play it off casually even as his cheeks heated. “I haven’t gotten the chance in a little while, and I know how being called by the council stresses you out. I just thought it would be a good way to relax when you got home.”

It really wasn’t a big deal. It was nothing more than what Yoongi would’ve done for him if Hoseok needed it. 

“You should join,” Jungkook said unexpectedly, leaning forward to touch one of the brushes. Hoseok couldn’t quite interpret the look on his face. Something between longing, fondness, and a soft excitement. “You shouldn’t leave it until later if your wings need to be cleaned, Hyung,” he added, looking up at Yoongi with those earnest eyes. “And your wings are so big, I’m sure you could use a third set of hands. We’ll both fit in the tub, so you don’t even have to worry about me. I don’t want to ruin your plans.”

“You’re not ruining anyone’s plans, dear heart,” Hoseok replied. “It’s barely afternoon now, and I can just move wing grooming later.”

He wasn't entirely sure how Yoongi would feel about getting his wings groomed in front of Jungkook. It was a very vulnerable activity, even for Hoseok whose wings were much less fragile or easily damaged. Feathers were just so much more finicky than his leathery wings. 

Yoongi cocked his head to the side in an almost birdlike motion. “My wings are in fairly good shape, considering I’ve hardly flown at all in the last couple months. This would be a good first time to help with the grooming,” he said, nodding firmly as he made up his mind. “Have you ever cared for someone’s wings, precious?” he asked Jungkook as he stripped off his shirt. 

“Mhm,” the baby hummed, standing to strip down to his boxers as well.

It was a vague answer and almost reluctant. Hoseok frowned just the tiniest bit. Of course they didn’t want to pry into Jungkook’s past, but that was a pretty basic question. Hoseok wondered what about it set the little one on edge. 

“Feathered wings?” Hoseok questioned. “Because that’s an entirely different story than leathery ones, or gossamer fairy wings. The feathers are a lot more delicate and can be hurt if you even just push them the wrong way.”

“Yeah, I know,” the little one agreed. There was an odd note in his voice that told Hoseok not to question this. Something he’d said had upset the nestling in some way. 

Jungkook didn’t draw attention to it though. Not that Hoseok expected him to. He’d learned over the last few days that Jungkook was not at all like the other babies who immediately and often dramatically pointed out anything they were displeased with. The maknae was quieter and tended to work around things that distressed him rather than trying to either avoid them outright or fix them. Often he redirected their attention or spoke in a deliberately ambiguous manner if he was uncomfortable. 

In this case, the baby just slipped into the water and briefly submerged himself. Yoongi followed quickly after, though he didn’t dip underwater. Even for a bonghwang, Yoongi had never been too fond of water. Hoseok commiserated. It was highly inadvisable for Hoseok and Yoongi to stay in water for any long period of time. As creatures of fire, they could only tolerate the element opposite to their core for so long before it started draining their life force. Hygiene purposes were generally the only reason they deliberately exposed themselves to water. 

Even now, Yoongi was slightly uncomfortable. He sat stiffly in the tub in stark contrast to the way Jungkook seemed to relax the moment he touched the water.

Neither of them immediately reached towards the wing cleaning materials. In fact, Yoongi grabbed a loofah instead and pulled the baby closer, intent on removing whatever grime was left on the fledgling from the lake. It was just so quintessentially Yoongi   that Hoseok grinned softly to himself as he pulled a chair over to sit next to the tub. Caring for the little ones first was probably ingrained into Yoongi’s personality by this time. 

That was not to say that the Second got nothing out of it himself. A buzz of pleasant contentment and a sense of relief flooded over their bond as Yoongi babied the nestling. 

It was no big secret that it always set Yoongi at ease to be able to do things for his nestmates. Hoseok was guilty of sometimes pretending he needed help if Yoongi was having a stressful day, and he knew Namjoon did the same thing because their hyung calmed immediately when he knew he was making their lives easier. It was incredibly sweet and endearing. 

Jungkook must think so as well, or perhaps he was already in tune with the bond enough to be able to feel how caring for him affected Yoongi. Either way, he was mostly pliant as he allowed Yoongi to gently manhandle and clean him. 

Instead of insisting that he do it himself, the baby pressed himself in close against Yoongi’s chest and started to mouth gently at the Second’s neck. Yoongi gave a trilling little chirp that signaled welcome, happiness, and fondness. Hoseok couldn’t help but echo that emotion strongly through their bond. 

The entire scene was incredibly soft and pure. Teething required a lot of trust and was considered a vital bonding activity by most sires. After getting over the cuteness that was Jungkook teething on Yoongi, Jin had a conniption when he realized he, Jungkook’s sire, was not the first one the baby had teethed on. It was mostly in jest, but Hoseok thought Jin was a little insecure that Jungkook still had yet to teethe on anyone but Yoongi. 

Teething was also generally a self-soothing method. For Jungkook to be teething meant he’d probably been more rattled by the events of the day than he’d let on. Hoseok’s heart ached for him. Not only had the little one been left to his own devices this morning, but he’d also gotten in trouble for the first time. The baby took it better than Hoseok had anticipated he might, but that was never a pleasant experience. No wonder he needed a little bit of comfort. 

Yoongi didn’t draw any attention to the teething and instead continued carefully cleaning the baby. The two of them seemed to sink into their own little world for a few minutes. Hoseok was content to be allowed to watch. 

The moment couldn’t last too long, however, because Yoongi shouldn't be in the water more than he needed to be. He wouldn’t push himself now when there was no need for it. 

“Alright, pearl, up for me please,” he requested, shrugging his shoulder gently to encourage Jungkook out of it. 

The fledgling went with no fuss which almost disappointed Hoseok. First of all, Jungkook’s pout was just precious. More importantly, most of the fledglings Hoseok knew were petulant at being interrupted if they felt safe enough to be petulant. The lack of reaction from Jungkook indicated that he was mediating his emotions. Hoseok hoped to one day see him express them freely. 

For now, the baby just sat back obligingly as Yoongi rolled his shoulders and unfurled his wings. Hoseok would probably never stop marveling over the sight of Yoongi’s wings fully spread. They were incredibly beautiful, red feathers at his shoulders spreading down to a bright gold in the middle and finally ending in blue tips. The green undersides of the feathers peeked through as Yoongi draped them carefully over the edges of the tub. 

Hoseok opened his mouth to explain to Jungkook where they should start, but was interrupted before he could get a single word out. A distressed, chiding little cluck left the little one and he reached immediately to straight some of the crooked feathers. 

“You said they were in good shape,” he accused, adorably focused on Yoongi’s wing as he started to very carefully run his fingers through the feathers. “Look at this, you’ve let them get all wonky!”

For the first time, Hoseok could see why Jungkook’s aura was nurture. The roles were suddenly reversed as Yoongi found himself on the receiving end of a scolding lecture about self-care from the baby. The look on his face was almost comically confused. Hoseok wished he could take a picture. 

That might distract the little one, though, and they couldn’t have that. They watched, torn between fascination, amusement, and (on Yoongi’s part) slight indignation. 

When the baby showed absolutely no signs of even slowing down, Hoseok took it upon himself to clean the back of Yoongi’s wings while Jungkook fussed at the alignment of the under feathers. 

To be completely honest, Hoseok wasn’t quite sure what the little one was so worked up over. He had been grooming Yoongi’s wings for a long time, and didn’t see anything particularly wrong with the state of his feathers. Jungkook wasn’t making big adjustments either, merely nudging feathers into slightly different places and plucking out a few. His hands were soon coated in preening oil, and he worked around the liquid like it was nothing. 

Hoseok knew very well that it wasn’t nothing. He still struggled with preening oil. Since it was meant to moisturize feathers while also waterproofing them, it was incredibly slick and made his fingers slide clumsily over Yoongi’s feathers. Once Yoongi started producing oil, Hoseok’s ability to correctly align his feathers was greatly diminished. 

Jungkook had no such problem. His touch was just as delicate as it had been before and he moved with a confidence Hoseok had never even seen in Yoongi himself. 

“Honestly, you would’ve thought no one ever taught you how to preen yourself,” the little one huffed. “How have I not been paying enough attention to fix this? Look at this!” He waved his hands as though to emphasize his point and Hoseok bit back a giggle. 

“That...feels better?” Yoongi said, bewilderment in his tone. 

“Of course it does,” Jungkook sniffed. “You need to pay more attention to the alignment of your feathers, even the tiniest shift can make a big difference. Turn around so I can do your back.”

Hoseok covered his mouth in an attempt at holding back laughter this time when Yoongi immediately obeyed the demand. It was so rare to see the Second as anything but completely unflappable and in control. Yoongi oozed a sense of calm confidence and wisdom. To see him ordered around by this little darling was incredibly amusing to Hoseok. 

He sat back to watch the spectacle, deciding that his job was done now that Jungkook had taken over the area Hoseok had been attending to. No way did he want to bring the baby’s ire down upon himself because he’d somehow nudged a feather five degrees out of alignment. He’d leave Yoongi to bear the brunt of the scolding. 

Once he had calmed down enough to look, however, he realized that Jungkook was right; Yoongi’s feathers had been just slightly out of their correct position. They had looked fine to Hoseok before, but now seemed perfect in a way that was only obvious in comparison. 

Hoseok was surprised that none of them had noticed before. Jimin himself had feathered wings, and Hoseok would’ve expected him to intervene if something was off with Yoongi’s. 

Then again, wings were...a delicate topic with Jimin. 

A flurry of white feathers being steadily dyed red with blood . The jagged tip of a bone jutting out from between perfectly smooth feathers . A nauseating shriek of absolute agony

Hoseok shook his head to rid himself of the memories before any of them could leak through the bond. That would be disastrous. 

None of them had seen Jimin’s wings while he was in his human form since. They were still there when Jimin went into cherub form, but much smaller and disproportionate to his body. None of them knew what Jimin’s wings were supposed to look like or how well he had really recovered. Jimin himself certainly wasn’t telling. 

To Hoseok’s knowledge, Jimin had never groomed Yoongi’s wings, and no one had been allowed to groom Jimin’s wings either. Jimin took care of them himself and no one dared to protest. 

Hoseok wondered if Jungkook would be able to set Jimin’s wings to rights as easily as he was doing Yoongi’s. 

It was a thought for later, when the babies were getting along better, when Jimin began to trust Jungkook, when Jungkook would know not to ask too many questions. 

For now, Hoseok allowed himself to just enjoy the moment. Yoongi was more relaxed than Hoseok had seen him lately. The Second knew his entire nest was safe, and was being pampered in a way he rarely allowed. His growing love for and comfort level with the baby warmed the air around them. 

Disgruntled as the nestling appeared to be, Jungkook was pleased to be able to help Yoongi, and his aura pulsed happily. Hoseok sank into its soothing thrall and hoped that Jimin would one day do the same. 

Chapter Text

IMPORTANT FOR THIS CHAPTER: A galmor is a spell that changes the appearance of a person. This is a spell of illusion which does not actually change the object, just changes how it looks. 

 

Namjoon was more than happy to spend the evening parked in front of the fire, basking in its warmth after the long day he’d had. The entire nest had gathered together and there was an air of easy relaxation as they chattered. 

Only Hoseok was missing. The incubus had gotten a pinched look on his face and left rather abruptly a few moments ago, murmuring about checking something. It didn’t worry Namjoon too much because Hoseok seemed more puzzled than anything. Namjoon knew it must be important, if it drew him away from nest time, but he was content to let Hoseok handle it unless he asked for help. 

The peace of the night was shattered when Jin suddenly sat bolt upright once more. 

“What!” Taehyung demanded before the oldest could even get a word out. “Do not tell me someone made another fledgling! We already have one, no more!”

Namjoon thought that was a little bit of an overreaction, but also fair. The last time Jin had been so visibly shocked all of a sudden, that had been the cause. 

“What?” Jin asked distractedly. The reminder of the night Jungkook was turned clearly did not help his worry. 

In fact, Namjoon was surprised to see and distantly feel how anxious it made Jin. Rarely did he get any kind of negative emotion from Jin. He had been part of the maknae line, after all, before Jungkook came. For Namjoon to get echoes of Jin’s anxiety, it had to be very strong. 

“No, no that’s not—Jungkook, off with the glamor now ,” he demanded. 

Utterly confused, Namjoon turned towards an equally nonplussed baby. 

“I’m sorry?” the little one questioned, doe-eyes even wider than usual in shock. 

“The glamor,” Jin repeated in an unusually serious and stern tone. “Pull it down now . Gods know where you learned to make one, but we don’t use glamors in this house. They drain your magic and block you off from the bond between us. This is a rule I do insist on.”

“I—I’m not wearing a glamor though,” Jungkook protested softly. The fledgling bit his lip, a sure sign of building nerves that Jin seemed to miss for once. 

“Perhaps you may explain to me, then, how you were able to spend the entire morning in the sun without a single burn?” Jin challenged with a raised eyebrow. 

Jungkook’s mouth dropped open while both Taehyung and Namjoon gasped. Even Yoongi sat bolt upright. 

Namjoon thought back frantically, trying to remember if it had been cloudy enough earlier that the fledgling could’ve gone outside with no damage. The flash of the sun off of the gold in Yoongi’s feathers as they arrived home was clear in his mind. It had not been cloudy earlier. 

Besides that, even the heaviest cloud cover would still only protect a fledgling to a certain degree. A baby as young as Jungkook should still be on an entirely nocturnal schedule because even small amounts of sunlight could result in terrible burns. 

An image of the little one’s neck ringed with irritated blisters . Namjoon wasn’t sure who it came from, Yoongi or Jin probably. Either way, it was a small taste of the damage Jungkook must’ve accrued if he was out in the sun earlier. 

Even those smaller blisters looked incredibly painful and a large part of Namjoon was stunned that he’d seen no trace of discomfort from the fledgling today. In fact, Namjoon hadn’t even felt any pain from Jungkook all day, and that realization made him hesitate. He didn’t think the nestling had learned to manipulate their bond well enough to be able to conceal that kind of hurt. 

To his surprise, Jimin was opening his mouth to speak (though Namjoon unfortunately doubted it would be anything helpful) when the door opened quite suddenly, and Hoseok burst into the room. 

“Hyung,” he said, tone urgent even before he took in the mood of the room. “Did you change the way the house stores excess energy for me?”

Namjoon sucked in a breath. It wasn’t necessarily an immediate problem if the storage system wasn’t working correctly, but it certainly wasn’t good either. Hoseok was old enough that he didn’t need to eat very often, and any one of them was willing to feed him whenever he needed it. 

It still made Namjoon uneasy that the incubus had nothing to fall back on. If something bad happened unexpectedly, that energy could be the difference between Hoseok healing immediately 0r having to suffer through whatever injury he’d received. 

Yoongi’s healing magic only worked so well on a creature associated with the underworld. Bonghwang were air-based above all. While their shared affinity for fire made things a little easier, Yoongi’s healing magic could only do so much. 

Hoseok’s body naturally healed itself very quickly anyways, but only if provided with the correct resources. An excess of nourishment allowed him to convert that power straight into healing energy. If there was something wrong with the storage system, there might be nothing there when Hoseok needed it. Namjoon didn’t like that at all. 

It also indicated that something was wrong with the magical flow of the house. Jin had been living in this house for longer than he’d known either Namjoon or Hoseok, and he’d made an incredible amount of magical adjustments to it. Namjoon doubted there was a more enchanted building in all of Korea. 

If that magic was not working correctly, it was a big problem. That was the magic that would keep them safe if they were ever attacked. It was the magic that provided safety precautions in Jimin and Taehyung’s experimentation room. 

Worse, it was not likely to malfunction after several hundred years of steadiness for no reason. If something was wrong with the house’s magic, someone had done something to alter it. 

On the surface, it was a small thing for the energy from Hoseok and Taehyung’s earlier session to go missing. The possible issues that disappearance represented, however, were far from insignificant. 

It was enough to at least briefly turn Seokjin’s attention away from the nestling. “What?” he asked. “No, I wouldn’t alter that without telling you, baby.”

“The house didn’t store anything,” Hoseok explained. “I haven’t fed in awhile, but there was some left over.”

“There was plenty left over,” Jimin confirmed. “Enough that I felt it when I came out of my workshop.”

Namjoon almost smirked. This had clearly been a sexual feeding, and that much excess sexual energy tended to have an effect on anyone in the near vicinity. It was not uncommon for various nest members to seek each other out in the aftermath of a sexual feeding for relief. What fed Hoseok could make the rest of them quite... thirsty

Under normal circumstances, Namjoon might’ve teased Jimin about being left alone with all that pent up energy. 

His amusement quickly gave way to concern once more when he noticed that Jungkook was becoming ever more upset. There was no conceivable reason that the little one should feel guilty about this unless...perhaps the baby thought his use of a glamor could block the flow of magic between them and further affect the house?

Namjoon was fairly sure it didn’t work like that. The house was absolutely saturated with Jin’s magic, with all of them magic to a lesser extent, but it was still a separate magical entity. Unless Namjoon was missing some seriously important information (highly unlikely) the house wouldn’t be affected by a block in their bond. 

“Everyone’s so anxious,” Hoseok murmured, wincing a little. “I’m sure it’s not that big of a deal.”

“As important as it is, this malfunction isn't the main cause of our current upset,” Jin replied, turning back to Jungkook. “ Someone is using a glamor.”

“I’m not though,” Jungkook protested softly. “I’m really not.”

He twisted his hands in his lap and ran one nail underneath the other, pressing just hard enough that Namjoon knew it must hurt. 

“I—” Jimin began. 

“You have something else that accounts for the lack of a sunburn then?” Taehyung asked pointedly. 

Namjoon cocked his head, confused. What was the Sixth insinuating? Did Taehyung know something the rest of them didn’t?

Whatever he was hinting at, it immediately upped Jungkook’s anxiety by a factor of ten thousand. The baby was suddenly on the literal edge of his seat, staring at Taehyung with something close to fear on his face. 

“I can—” Jimin started again. 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jungkook blurted, not once looking away from Taehyung. There was a strange tension between them, some sort of stare-down taking place right in front of their face while the rest of them had no idea what was at stake. 

Taehyung definitely knew something . Namjoon trusted the pixie to keep them apprised of anything important, but he would admit to being a little surprised. As the maknae before Jungkook came, Taehyung was often the last to know if something bad was happening. They never specifically hid anything from Taehyung. They did try to deal with things before they started to bother Tae. The Sixth was generally the most oblivious of all of them, and it was a little unusual that he was the first one to know something Jungkook was obviously trying to keep hushed. 

Much as Namjoon wanted to know what all this was about, he actually hoped that Jungkook prevailed. Jungkook clearly cared deeply about his privacy in this area. Namjoon had never seen him act so rude or so assertively. He’d cut Jimin off without a second thought, and seemed to be winning his battle of wills with Taehyung. If Taehyung spilled the first secret any of them had been given, it could be detrimental to Jungkook’s trust. 

“One of you, out with it,” Jin demanded. 

Jungkook looked away from Taehyung, so that he could glance frantically at his frowning sire. He teetered on the edge of a precipice of fear. One hand came up to fist in his hair and a fine trembling started to spread through his body. 

Taehyung opened his mouth, clearly thinking Jungkook had given in to his silent goading. 

“Hey!” Jimin interrupted a loud whistle. 

Jungkook flinched hard and his breathing hitched. His head was on a pivot, whirling from one hyung to the next like he didn’t know which crisis to address first. The baby bit his lip hard enough to draw blood, and that was it. Namjoon had seen enough. 

“Enough!” Namjoon snapped, standing up suddenly. 

Everyone immediately turned towards him in shock. Rarely did Namjoon ever put himself in the middle of an argument. It was even less common for him to enter the fray as anything but a mediator. Namjoon didn’t like the responsibility of sorting out other people’s quarrels. 

This time it was necessary. 

“That’s enough,” he repeated more quietly. There was a few seconds of silence as he fixed Jin, Jimin, and Taehyung individually with a stern look. “Come here, Jungkook,” he ordered softly, turning a more sympathetic eye onto the little one. 

The baby was out of his chair and stumbling over to Namjoon almost before he finished speaking. His steps were hesitant, almost afraid, and still struggling because of weakened muscles. Namjoon hadn’t meant for the nestling to force himself to his feet, and the insecurity in Jungkook’s stride only reinforced how dangerous this whole excursion to the lake had been in the first place. Namjoon’s lips thinned.

He reached out as soon as Jungkook was in range to pull the baby down with him as he sat. He wrapped his arm around the baby’s tiny waist and just lifted Jungkook to straddle his lap. The nestling gave a little gasp of surprise, but Namjoon grabbed his chin to hold him still. He thumbed at the little trail of blood now trickling thinly from the fledgling's lip, then offered Jungkook the bloodied digit. 

The baby’s eyes went wide, but he hesitantly took Namjoon’s thumb in his mouth to lick off the blood. The little one relaxed slightly, wide eyes fixed on Namjoon with something akin to budding trust. 

“This is a terrible habit, sweetling,” Namjoon chided gently. “Your itty bitty fangs might not be dangerous to anyone else, but you can still harm yourself.” He nudged one fang with his thumb, and then pulled it away from the fledgling’s lips. 

Jungkook gaped at him, cheeks delightfully flushed. This newest whiplash change of mood made his eye shine with overwhelmed tears. 

“You aren’t wearing a glamor,” Namjoon stated. 

“No!” Jungkook cried, abruptly bursting into tears. He pitched forwards into Namjoon's chest, winding his arms around Namjoon’s neck and clinging to his shirt. 

“Oh, my poor little darling,” Namjoon cooed. He set one hand on the back of the baby’s head to encourage him closer and tightened his other arm around Jungkook’s waist. “There we go, that’s my good boy.”

The violence of Jungkook’s tears seemed to scare Jimin. There was no slow build of a few tears and sniffles. The nestling went from watery eyes to full on bawling with chest-heaving sob in seconds. Jimin actually started slightly forwards, and Yoongi frowned in concern, but Namjoon sent a vaguely forbidding impulse down the bond. He didn’t want anyone interrupting. 

This was the first time Jungkook had cried in front of any of them. Namjoon would not have anyone trying to stop him before he had cried himself out. 

Part of this outburst was due to the stress of the day. Jungkook had been abandoned in the morning, only to come home to a scolding. He’d missed a couple feedings, exhausted himself, and been accused of something he didn’t do. That alone was enough to have anyone crying. 

Once the tears started, however, Jungkook wound himself up so quickly because of a more persistent and serious emotional pain; Namjoon strongly suspected this was the first time the baby had cried at all since they rescued him. Stress had jumpstarted the outburst, but Jungkook now had the chance to mourn for what had happened to him and be comforted. Namjoon wouldn’t have that cut short. 

No one dared to approach them. If it had been anyone else, the entire nest would be clustered around his chair, pressing as close as possible to their upset nestmate. Their bond with Jungkook wasn’t yet strong enough to know how he would react to that, however. 

Some people hated to show that they were upset in front of others. Jimin had refused to cry in front of any of them for years after he’d joined their nest. None of them knew how Jungkook would react, and they wouldn’t risk distressing the baby more by reminding him of their presence. 

Namjoon didn’t think it would be an issue, given how the little one seemed to be trying to fuse himself with Namjoon, but it was better safe than sorry. 

Great, heavy sobs shook Jungkook’s body and he gasped for breath as he shook against Namjoon. It was only when he seemed in danger of choking that Namjoon tried to verbally soothe him in any way. 

“Let it all out, treasure. Such a good baby,” he hummed. “You’re safe here, Jungkookie.” 

He slid his hand up the nestling’s back to rub between his sharp shoulder blades, and leaned down to kiss one tear-stained cheek. 

The baby was too weak to maintain this level of emotional distress for very long. It wasn’t more than a few minutes before the sobs started to trail off into long gasps that shook the fledgling’s entire body against Namjoon’s chest. Wet eyelashes tickled Namjoon’s neck as Jungkook shifted his head slightly, but didn’t reemerge. 

In fact, Namjoon felt his neck become even more wet and realized that the fledgling had started to teeth on him. His heart melted. This was the first time Jungkook had teethed on anyone except Yoongi, and Namjoon couldn’t help being the slightest bit smug. He curled his fingers in Jungkook’s hair and dropped his other arm back around the little one’s waist. 

Jin, who had been steadily creeping closer despite Namjoon’s warning, laid his hand where Namjoon’s had been on Jungkook’s upper back. The fledgling startled a little in surprise, but didn’t even turn to see who it was. He sucked harder on Namjoon’s skin and tried to push closer to him again. 

“I’m very sorry, Jungkook-ah,” Jin apologized seriously. “I didn’t mean to sound like I was accusing you of anything. I honestly got a little scared and didn’t handle it well at all.”

Jungkook pulled back slightly, finally turning towards Jin. “Scared?” he echoed. 

The little one was a sight. A few curls stuck to his face, and the rest of his hair was set at odd angles from Namjoon’s hand. Eyes still shining with tears blinked in surprised exhaustion at his sire while he sniffled and swiped impatiently at his own cheeks. 

Jin cooed, pulling out a handkerchief to wipe Jungkook’s nose. 

“Glamors may seem like innocuous magic, darling, but they really are not,” Jin explained softly. “They are dangerous because they have a sort of masking effect on our bond as well. We wouldn’t be able to find you or communicate with you properly if you were using a glamor.”

“More than that, the strain on your magic at this stage could be detrimental. Holding a glamor for too long could actually stunt your magic, which is supposed to be ever-growing. It creates a sort of shell around your power and constrains it within that space. If your magic grows too big, it could either stop growing permanently or essentially explode the restriction. That would be dangerous not only to you, but everyone around you.”

“Those are longer term effects,” Yoongi added, hovering a few steps behind Jin. “But even for a single night, it’s an incredible drain on your magical resources which are better put towards healing you at this point. It would be the equivalent of staying up all night to exercise in physical terms. Expanding too much power has its own list of rather frightening side effects.”

Namjoon grimaced slightly. There was a reason the others were so familiar with the negative effects of glamoring. Namjoon was that reason. He hadn’t taken well to being trapped in this form, at first. It felt like he was losing the only part of his heritage connected to his mother, and the pity he faced from the few family members who knew what had happened hadn’t helped matters. 

Namjoon had regularly used glamors for a long time, desperate to feel like he still fit in with his siblings. Some of his family had actually been entirely unaware that he was cursed at all. There had been less research on glamors back then, and Namjoon was desperate enough that he might’ve used them even if he’d known the risks. 

Things eventually came to a very scary head in the early days after he was accepted into Jin’s nest. The fallout had been... unpleasant for everyone involved. 

The older members of the nest had been touchy about glamors ever since. Namjoon could still picture the terror on their faces when things imploded all those years ago. He didn’t think they would ever really get over it. 

“I don’t even know how to weave a glamor,” Jungkook sniffled, a few more tears sliding down his cheeks. “That’s—that’s advanced magic. I’ve never studied it.”

Namjoon winced. They had been avoiding the topic of magic with Jungkook. In fact, they were avoiding a lot of topics with the baby. They were afraid to alienate him by pushing too far. 

More than that, one did not come out of the type of experience Jungkook had gone through with no trauma. They had no idea what kind of triggers the little one might have, and generally stuck to topics the baby brought up himself. 

It was inevitable that one of them would eventually say something wrong, but it was still early yet. The nestling hadn’t even been here for a fortnight, and he’d spent several days sleeping. They hadn’t yet established a level of trust with Jungkook that would make him feel safe sharing. 

Besides, none of them had shared their traumas with him yet either. Relationships were a two-way street. Someone would have to start walking soon to jump start the sharing process, but they were tentatively waiting for that someone to be Jungkook at this point. 

All of the hyungs had encouraged him to come to them if he wanted to talk, and they were hoping he would take them up on that invitation. The baby had to be ready to reach back in return and they didn’t want to push him before he was ready. Jungkook was surrounded by strangers in a new place after being subjected to unknown horrors. He’d been pushed enough already. 

“If you would’ve just listened to me,” Jimin interrupted for the fourth time, “I could’ve told you that I am the reason he wasn’t sunburned.”

The entire nest turned to look at him, shocked. Jimin looked mildly disappointed in them, and it was a completely new expression. Jimin was such a soft darling and left scolding to his hyungs. This was the first time Namjoon had seen him with such a stern look since...well. Since times they didn’t think about anymore. 

The cherub walked over to touch the earrings dangling from the baby’s ears, then the bracelet around his wrist and even a ring, all of them set with the same iridescent stone. Jungkook had been steadily acquiring jewelry since he got here. He seemed to have a taste for elegance and never refused when one of them offered him something pretty. Namjoon hadn’t given any particular thought to this set. 

“Moonstone,” Jimin said. “I laid a few enchantments to increase their power, but moonstone naturally creates a kind of bubble of lunar energy. It may not be enough to completely reverse the effects of sun exposure, but it should ensure that you get a mild sunburn at most.”

Incredible fondness suffused Namjoon’s chest with warmth. Every time he thought he had Jimin figured out, the nestling surprised him once more. Especially after the incident this morning, Namjoon had been worried that Jimin simply point blank refused to accept Jungkook. This very personally suited and carefully crafted gift made him feel like he was doubting Jimin unfairly. 

This was the type of thing that Jimin normally did for his friends. It was the kind of courting gift he’d given Taehyung. The cherub might not be flaunting it, but was still beginning to care for Jungkook. 

“I—Thank you,” the baby said sincerely, tears finally completely clearing as he looked up at Jimin with big eyes. 

Jimin didn’t seem to know what to do with that. He nodded awkwardly, all the confidence in his posture draining away. 

“And I’m sorry that your energy wasn’t stored properly, Hyung,” Jungkook added looking at Hoseok. 

“What?” Hobi asked, startled. “Baby boy, that has absolutely nothing to do with you. Just because I happened to discover it right now doesn’t mean that it’s connected with you in any way. I honestly might’ve just consumed it myself without realizing. That happens sometimes, when I’m more hungry than I thought.”

Jungkook did not look convinced, but a yawn interrupted anything he might’ve wanted to say in response. The baby looked adorably surprised by his own yawn, and knuckled at one of his eyes. 

A resounding chorus of “ Awwwwwww ,” rang through their bond, and Namjoon was pretty sure he heard one or two of them repeat that sentiment out loud. 

“Sorry,” the fledgling said, face flushing even pinker than it was from his earlier tears. 

“You’ve had a long day, little one,” Yoongi murmured. “Pushed yourself far beyond what your body was ready for.” 

“Mmm,” Jungkook hummed, sinking back down into Namjoon’s chest. One hand played gently with the hair at the back of Namjoon’s neck, an almost tickling sensation. 

He didn’t seem too keen on moving, so Namjoon just rubbed his back and made himself comfortable. Everyone else took this as their cue to back off a little. Jimin immediately deserted in favor of his own seat near the fire. Yoongi and Hoseok both followed with only a brief hesitation. Taehyung, who had watched the entire scene play out with a contemplative look in his eyes, held his arms out to Hobi and immediately got the cuddles he was demanding. 

Jin ran a hand through the baby’s hair. “I really am sorry, little one,” he said. “I should have asked first rather than just assumed, and I certainly should’ve listened when you said you weren’t using a glamor.”

“‘ts ok,” the nestling slurred, exhaustion heavy in his voice. “Being scared…it makes you do things you otherwise wouldn’t sometimes.”

A cold pit of foreboding formed in Namjoon's stomach. He wondered how the fledgling knew that so intimately. Had Jungkook hurt someone out of fear? Or had someone hurt him because they were afraid? 

There were no answers right now, but Namjoon’s gut told him the latter was more likely. He sat back in his seat and pressed Jungkook closer to his chest. Jin met his eyes, a shared understanding between them. 

The eldest sank down to the floor, leaning against Namjoon’s leg and encircling Jungkook’s ankle lightly with one hand. 

There was nothing either of them could do now, so they just held on tight. Someday, Jungkook would tell them what had happened to him. Until then, they would support him as they could. 

And do a better job of listening. 

Chapter Text

Jungkook was absolutely positive that the house had decided to adopt him. He wasn’t precisely sure why it made that decision, but there was no other explanation for how the entire building seemed to adjust itself according to his whim. Corridors shortened, stairs compressed, and doors appeared where there had been none before. 

Not only that, but the house allowed him to move around fairly undetected as well. Jungkook knew how difficult it was to creep silently through an old house. He’d had plenty of experience as a child. No matter how careful you were, there was always that one floorboard that was just that little bit too squeaky, or the door that creaked when you opened it. It was almost impossible to maneuver an old house without making noise. 

That was not an issue in Jin’s home. Not a single hinge whined. No door closed too hard. It was almost as though he’d cast a spell of silence over himself and his surroundings. Jungkook could do that, of course; it was how he’d gotten around in his parent’s house. He didn’t need to do it here. The house did it for him. 

Jungkook was simultaneously grateful and worried about this. 

He did appreciate that the house went out of its way to make things easier for him. Jungkook always made sure to thank the house in whatever way he could, whether that meant tightening a few loose screws or fixing a wobbly table. The house took care of him, and Jungkook wanted to return that sentiment. 

At the same time, he wasn’t sure how far the house’s favoritism towards him would extend. For all Jungkook knew, the house could be reporting his every move to Jin. He doubted it, given his sire’s reaction to his trip out to the lake the day before, but it was always a possibility. 

Jungkook didn’t know how far he could bend Jin’s rules before the house to decide enough was enough. He was constantly toeing the line, and that was difficult when he didn’t know exactly where that line was. 

Tonight’s expedition may very well be enough to make the house tell on him. Tonight, Jungkook was going to purposely break Jin’s rules for the first time. 

In fact, Jungkook was going to disobey not just Jin , but also Namjoon. The Fourth was much more relaxed and enforced fewer rules than the older hyungs, but even he had lines he wouldn’t cross. His dongsaengs trying his food was one of them. 

It was completely understandable; the consequences of breaking this rule were not just limited to reprisal from his hyungs after all. If the wrong person got ahold of Namjoon’s nectar and ambrosia, they would die. A single bit of the godly food could kill a human, and many immortals as well. Those lucky enough to live may suffer permanent damage from their ill-advised snack. 

Jungkook was hopeful that this expedition through the house in the dead of night would eventually culminate in a belly full of that same food.

Not only was Jungkook hazarding the displeasure of his sire, but his own safety could be seriously jeopardized if this went wrong. He was flouting a rule that could legitimately save his life, and he wasn’t sure if the house would tolerate that. Much as it liked him, it might wake Jin if it thought he was in danger. 

Jungkook was also not stupid, however. As much as he pretended even to himself that he was a normal fledgling, he was not. He wasn’t even a normal hybrid. The incident with Hoseok’s stored energy was enough proof of that. 

Hoseok had fed, and Jungkook had walked into a house brimming with excess sexual energy. While Jungkook might not consciously know what to do with that, his body and magic were much less clueless. “Food” was available, and Jungkook had fed as well. 

Jungkook hadn’t even realized what he was doing, just thought he was feeling better because he’d been in the water for the first time in a while. It was only after Hoseok mentioned it that Jungkook connected the dots. 

Feeding off of sexual energy had thrown into stark relief that Jungkook did have other appetites that he needed to satisfy. He was no longer just a siren, who could live off of normal human food, or even a vampire who needed blood. Jungkook’s endless craving for fruit should’ve enlightened him, but it took this huge shock to his system to drive the point home. 

He was an experiment. A blend. He couldn’t keep pretending to himself that he was unaffected by all the parts that made up his whole being when it was actually hurting him. He had to start taking care of himself better, and that meant he had to eat in several different ways. 

The easiest way to address this issue would be to sit the nest down and explain exactly who he was, and what Reginald had done to him. The nest had been nothing but helpful and kind to him so far, and Jungkook had no concrete reason to suspect that their behavior would change if they knew the truth. 

The infinitesimal possibility that they might not be so understanding weighed down his tongue like a scold’s bridle. 

Jungkook had lived his entire life singled out because of a single genetic mutation. First with his family when he was born as a throwback to his grandmother’s siren blood rather than their hoped for dragon lineage. Then again among other sirens when that throwback was to an age old enough that he sported the wings most of the species had evolved to lose long ago. 

One difference between himself and those who should’ve welcomed him was enough to have him shunned, looked down upon, and even harmed . What, then, would people think of the amalgamation Reginald had made of him? One difference caused resentment that had seen him scourged on all sides. How much worse would this plethora of idiosyncrasies? 

Jungkook was a freak of nature. Worse, an un natural freak. There was no telling how the nest would react to that. 

A large part of Jungkook really wanted to believe that they wouldn’t truly care. Most of the nest was not exactly standard either. Everyone knew that Jin’s history was deliberately murky. Yoongi was one of the last bonghwang in existence. Hoseok was an incubus, a creature traditionally scorned by most “decent” people. Namjoon’s father was Hercules, and he was strangely tight-lipped about his mother. 

Only Jimin and Taehyung appeared fairly standard in the nest. Well, Jimin standard as he could be for an angel . Jungkook had never even met an angel before Jimin. 

Perhaps Taehyung was the only one to escape the oddity of their hodgepodge little bunch. Or perhaps he was just better at hiding it. 

Only time would tell, and Jungkook needed that time. No matter how well the nest might react, there was always the chance that Jungkook would be just one step too far. One curio too many for their circus. He wasn’t willing to take the risk. 

Jungkook was actually beginning to like being here. It was something of a novel experience, but Jungkook was growing to genuinely enjoy the company of the older members of the nest. They were kind and welcoming, ever willing to go far out of their way for Jungkook’s benefit. Even just to live in a house where he wasn’t hated by the majority of the occupants was a new experience that he treasured. Jungkook had never felt so wanted and he was loathe to give that up because of something he couldn’t control. 

Particularly not if he could control the information that might make them turn away from him. For the first time in his life, Jungkook had the ability to decide for himself what he wanted others to know about himself. 

Eventually, he would have to tell the nest what had happened. It was inevitable if he stayed as Jin had asked, and they continued to form relationships with him. He couldn’t sneak around in his own home forever. 

Well, he could . He had as a child. It wasn’t preferable and may eventually start harming his health and his relationships with the other members of the nest. 

Jungkook was already starting to feel like he was lying just by concealing information from them that he still felt he had to out of concern for his own safety. He didn’t think they would hurt him, but he’d assumed the same thing about others before. 

Once bitten, twice shy. Jungkook was not going to make the mistake of thinking he was safe just because they seemed kind at first. He hadn’t even been here two weeks. He just needed time before he dropped the biggest secret of his life. 

Unfortunately, time was something his body wasn’t willing to give him. Jungkook had been aware before he went to the lake that he wasn’t recovering as quickly as he should. He’d thought it was merely the lack of time spent in his own element. 

Now he knew differently. 

Jungkook needed food . For all parts of himself, not just those he was used to feeding, or those Jin was forcing him to feed, or even the ones that were easy to feed by following his normal human diet. He had needed the energy Hoseok stored, and now he needed nectar or ambrosia. 

His body was not healing because he wasn’t giving it the proper resources to do so. The difference in his therapy session with Yoongi earlier that day, after he had sucked down Hoseok’s excess energy, highlighted this fact. Everything had been so much easier, and Jungkook had finally felt like he had some strength back in his limbs. Sore as he was from swimming maybe a bit too much, his entire body felt refreshed and relaxed. 

The possibility of augmenting that once more with the last remaining food source he was missing was too tempting. Besides that, Jungkook had no idea how long he could go without feeding that last part of his being. Would he eventually starve even if he gorged himself on all other types of food? He had no way of knowing and wasn’t willing to wait around and find out. 

No matter the danger to himself, or the possibility that the house might tattle on him to Jin, Jungkook was going to try to get some nectar. 

Unfortunately, that goal was more difficult to accomplish than it sounded. Had it merely been a matter of sneaking out of bed and to the kitchen, Jungkook would’ve been completely at ease. He was experienced in and comfortable with moving around at night undetected. 

Things couldn’t be that easy, however. Neither Namjoon nor Jin were careless enough to leave the food of the gods laying out where curious little hands might get into it. Jungkook would’ve been a little offended that they’d locked it away from him, if he hadn’t known that precautions had already been put into place against Taehyung. Namjoon’s food was kept far away from the most inhabited areas of the house and surrounded by protective enchantments. 

Jungkook had previously come across its hiding place in his exploration of the manor, and thought nothing of it at the time. There were many things stashed away in Jin’s house and the house seemed to find it amusing to watch Jungkook’s eyes widen in shock when he saw the many treasures it had stored up. The nectar was one of the things it revealed to him. 

Unless the house had moved it, Jungkook knew exactly where he could find the drink. 

He slipped through the halls on silent feet, until he came to a door just like any other. The sitting room he entered was similarly nondescript. Jungkook had almost walked past it the first time he came this way, only for the house to creak gently at him and open this door. 

It had taken Jungkook a long time to figure out what was special about this room. The house liked to tease him sometimes, indicating that something was important, but not telling him how. The bounty in this room was so well cloaked that Jungkook had looked right past it several times before he realized that he couldn’t fix his gaze on a certain part of the wall. 

Magic was tricky like that. It was easy enough to make an object invisible. To hide the magic that had made it invisible, however, was a lot more difficult. Jungkook had found many caches of objects stashed away in both his childhood home and Jin’s house by looking for magical traces. It was easy enough, once you knew how, and Jungkook had thought of it as treasure hunting when he was a child. 

The magic Jin had cast on the nectar was more complicated, subtly encouraging magical beings to glance over something. To subconsciously refuse to see what was right in front of them. Invisibility was not necessary if you didn’t realize there was anything there to look for, after all. 

Jungkook’s inability to focus on that part of the room had been his only clue that something was hidden there. 

There was a sense of curiosity in the house now as Jungkook walked straight to the small chest set in a niche of the wall and started looking for other enchantments. The house was comfortable enough with him that it didn’t perceive him as a threat, but the room grew colder and a floorboard creaked for the first time as Jungkook crossed the room. 

Jungkook froze for a moment. 

Of anyone in the house, the house itself knew the most about Jungkook. Jungkook was in the habit of talking to himself and the objects around him, and the house had been his unknown eavesdropper for a few days before he caught on. Jungkook had given up secrets at that time without even realizing he was entrusting someone with them. 

The house was undoubtedly aware that Jungkook’s genetics were more complicated than he had let on to the rest of the nest. Jungkook wouldn’t be surprised if it had made the connection that he needed to feed himself as well. 

Food was very important to Jin, and most magically sentient objects took their cues and major personality traits from their creator. Jin wanted to see his nest well-fed and thus so did the house. 

Jungkook was counting on that to pacify the house. He was making an effort to eat for the first time since coming here. The house wouldn’t want to get in the way of that. 

At the same time, it had definitely also picked up on Jin’s protective nature and knew that this specific type of food could be dangerous. The house was thus torn between allowing Jungkook to eat and protecting him from possible danger. Jungkook wasn’t at all certain which of those desires would win out. 

He stood for a moment in the center of the room, waiting for the verdict. His heart pounded and his breath came a little shorter. He had no good explanation beyond insomnia and curiosity for this little foray if someone caught him. Jungkook wasn’t sure how those excuses would be received. 

Thankfully, it didn’t appear he would be needing them. The air warmed again and the door shut behind him, hiding him from anyone who might wander by in the hall. 

Jungkook breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you,” he murmured, caressing the wall as he walked past it. A curtain fluttered in response, almost a fond sigh. 

It would be wistful fantasy to believe he could bypass Jin’s protections in a single night. In fact, Jungkook didn’t even plan on trying. His sire was old, well-educated, and protecting against Taehyung who was highly intelligent; Jin’s magic would be layered and convoluted, aimed at confusing the Sixth. 

Tonight, Jungkook just wanted to look. Well, he wanted to look . Every type of magic left a trace and anyone with the right knowledge could read those traces. It was only a matter of interpreting them. 

Jungkook had a lot of practice. His own ancestors had devised some rather nasty and difficult enchantments for their hoards. Jungkook’s childhood treasure hunts had been nearly as dangerous as the ones his brother narrated for him as bedtime stories. Jungkook had quickly become adept at reading different types of magic and dismantling them. 

Jungkook took a deep breath and concentrated, allowing his vision to shift so he saw the world a little differently. Opening his eyes was nearly blinding. A bright pink light pulsed everywhere, overshadowing any other magic in the area. 

Jungkook slammed his eyes closed with a gasp, reeling back a little. For a moment, panicked confusion surged through him. The amount of magical power he’d just seen was phenomenal. Jungkook had never encountered anything like it, and had no idea what—

Realization hit him, and he could’ve smacked himself. Of course he’d never seen anything like that before; he’d never seen a sentient house before either.

He cautiously cracked his eyes open, laying a hand against the wall as he basked in the dazzling color. It was almost shimmery, a light, baby pink that wound through every board of the house and reached out to Jungkook with a gentle caress. 

His breath caught in his throat. Jungkook felt...he felt like he was being welcomed home. It was an entirely new feeling, and he didn’t know what to do with it. Momentarily overwhelmed, he just luxuriated in the warmth and fondness of the magic for a few minutes. 

Then he reluctantly turned his attention away from the house. Jungkook resolutely ignored the way tears stung the back of his eyes at the idea that this feeling of complete belonging was waiting for him whenever he wanted to experience it. All he had to do was look. Look he would, but later. 

For now, he allowed his vision to shift again, filtering out the layer of magic that represented the house. That was a more difficult type of sight, and one he was proud of mastering. It was like becoming selectively blind, choosing not to see something that was visible before him. It took a lot of mental discipline. 

Without the overwhelming aura of the house, Jungkook could freely examine the minutia of Jin’s protection spells. It took him a few minutes to untangle the mess of interwoven spells. 

There was of course the spell directing his attention away from the chest, a few curses against anyone who may open it (all very mild, of course, since this was largely constructed against Taehyung; Jungkook was sure one of them was a tickling spell), multiple locking charms, a depth enhancer, and a couple spells that would alert Jin and Namjoon the moment anything was tampered with. Nothing unexpected. In fact less that Jungkook would’ve anticipated. 

With patience, Jungkook could eventually demolish all of these spells without too much trouble. The most difficult thing to contend with would be resetting all of them after he’d taken some nectar from the truck. He couldn’t just tear down all that magic and expect no one to notice. Jungkook had never had to worry about that before, and it made him bite his lip in anxiety. 

Those things would be cares for another day, however, because Jungkook had already been here long enough. He did need to get some sleep tonight, after all. He also needed to do a bit of research to make sure he knew exactly what he was doing before he even thought of touching the chest. 

It would be more complicated than usual. Jungkook was used to dismantling protections made up entirely of spells taken from within his family’s library. The library was vast, but Jungkook had always known that he would find the spell and its countermeasure if he looked long enough. It was a simple matter of patience and matching the magical signature of the spell. 

Jin had several libraries. More than that, Jungkook wasn’t actually sure that the spells he’d cast on the chest would be in any of the libraries. Jin may well have invented them, or Namjoon could’ve gotten them from his own family home, leaving the book there. 

Jungkook was going to research, but the process would be less precise than he preferred. He didn’t technically need to know the specific spell cast in order to undo it, but it was the safest and surest way to proceed. This would be a little more risky and Jungkook had to get everything right the first time. There would be no second chances. 

His mind was already set on the preparations he would need to do and precautions he should take as he left the room, absentmindedly closing the door behind him with no fear that it would make some noise to reveal him. 

In fact, he was so caught up in his mind that he entirely missed the fact that he was no longer alone until—

“Jungkook?” 

He whirled, heart suddenly pounding and throat tight with shock to see the absolute last person he would’ve hoped for. 

“Jimin-ssi.”

Chapter Text

Wandering through the house at night was always an odd experience. The building was so enormous and there was so much ambient magical energy that Jimin sometimes felt like a ghost as he slipped silently through the halls. Like he was haunting a place that should be full or light and noise, but he had scared all that away so he could surround himself with silence as numb as his emotions. 

Jimin hated nightmares. 

He could never remember what he’d dreamed, just the terrible feelings that came with them. Betrayal. Anger. A sense of righteous justice. A stubborn refusal to bend despite looming punishment. Agonizing physical pain

It drove him out of bed, searching the rooms of his home for some kind of reminder of what he’d dreamed. Of what he lived. Of his past. 

During the day, Jimin rarely thought of the fact that he couldn’t remember vast swathes of his life. His existence began in Jin’s house on the living room floor, his throat tearing under the volume of his screams until it burned almost as badly as his shredded wings. 

Jimin had his hyungs, and his home, and eventually Taehyung as well. He had work to keep his mind occupied and people around him to love. He didn’t need his past. Whatever had happened to him, it had clearly been horrifying. During the day, Jimin didn’t even want to know. 

At night, when dreams ripped him from his rest and set him loose through the house, it wasn’t so easy. His subconscious had not forgotten what he’d suffered, and it wouldn’t let Jimin brush it off like it had never happened. 

He also couldn’t remember , though. It left him feeling oddly detached and apathetic, as empty as the house. There was something there, hovering just beyond the grasp of his thoughts, just around the next corner or through the next door. Something terrifying and disturbing, but something that had made Jimin into the person he was today. Something he couldn’t remember

The hyungs had long ago stopped trying to help Jimin back to his bed after a nightmare. Jimin rather thought they assumed he was sleepwalking, given how unresponsive he tended to be. The weight of his past pressed down on his mind and tongue, forbidding speech and even thought. Jimin numbly brushed past them. 

He was conscious, though. Just. Suspended. Removed. Unable to process what he couldn’t even remember. 

Jimin wandered wherever his feet took him and pretended he didn’t feel flames licking at his heels as he went. 

Movement directly in front of him. Wrong. 

Jimin jolted, blinking and feeling like he actually might have been sleepwalking because he was suddenly much more awake and aware. 

“Jungkook?” he asked, the word feeling unwieldy on his tongue. 

Jungkook shouldn’t be here. Jimin didn’t even know where he was right now, but he never walked the inhabited parts of the house. Jungkook was far from his own bed and had no reason to be here. 

“Jimin-ssi,” the baby gasped, spinning to face him. “You startled me.”

“What are you doing here?” Jimin demanded, too disoriented to be anything nearing polite or welcoming at this point. 

The fledling’s little toe scuffed along the floor and he bit his lip. “I just—” he hesitated, looking up at Jimin through his lashes. “I couldn’t sleep. Sometimes I explore when I can’t sleep.”

It was an innocent enough statement, but Jimin knew when he was being played. There was an all too familiar darkness behind this pretty guile.

Jimin thought he understood. He told people that he couldn’t sleep fairly often himself. No one needed to know that he was downing coffee like water and casting small shocking spells on himself every few seconds to stay awake. No one needed to know how terrifying his forgotten dreams were. 

“Cocoa?” he offered before he could think too much about it. 

The baby’s eyes widened and his expression opened into something soft and grateful. 

“Yes please,” he almost whispered. 

Jimin felt like he’d done something right with the baby for once. 

Unwilling to ruin it by opening his mouth again, he nodded, then turned towards the kitchen. Jungkook followed his footsteps and his example in preserving the quiet. 

There was no awkward tension in the air, just acceptance that neither of them felt like speaking. Companionship without a pressure for speech. It wasn’t until they were situated around the table with mugs in their hands that the quiet was broken. 

“My brother used to make me hot cocoa sometimes when I didn’t sleep well,” Jungkook finally said after he took his first sip of the drink. “We had to sneak down to get it, of course. Eomma and Appa would never have allowed it.”

Jimin felt like he’d been slapped in the face. 

The barrier in his mind was thinnest after nightmares. Certain words, or sights, or scents jumped out at him and he knew they should mean something to him, but there was never any real recognition. 

This was a particularly strong shock. Something Jungkook had said resonated with the core of Jimin’s being. There was something there in his mind, something lingering that he should know

No matter how hard he fought for it, it slipped out of his grasp. 

Jimin could scream. 

Instead, he watched Jungkook without comment. 

“Hyung always says that chocolate is good for the soul. I swear he gets it from Harry Potter. Dementors, you know? Hyung always says it’s the best way to drive out a frost that has settled over your heart.”

The baby’s expression was entirely unguarded. Fond adoration, a strange sadness, nostalgia, and a tiny shadow all played across his features like a projection of his mind. 

“It’s silly, but Hyung has always been so insistent on it. Even now that I’m not a kid anymore, he’s always ready with a cup of cocoa every time I need him. Never figured out how he managed that.”

“Why don’t you contact him?” Jimin demanded. It came out harsher than he meant it to, but Jimin had been wondering that since Jungkook got here. How could he sit there knowing that his family must be agonizing over what had happened to him? Jimin couldn’t imagine having so little regard for his own family. 

A tiny part of him snarked nastily that he couldn’t imagine his family in general. Another little voice asked why the idea of two brothers conspiring behind their parents’ backs resonated so deeply with him. 

Jimin drowned both of them with a sip of cocoa. He wished it could heat his emotions like Jungkook described, but it just burned on the way down. 

Jungkook ran a finger around the rim of his mug and didn’t look at Jimin. 

“My hyung has his own life and responsibilities now,” he murmured. “He can’t just drop everything to come to me anymore, and he would if I contacted him. He would need to see me for himself, and he’d want to take care of me. It would be selfish of me to get in contact with him right now. He can’t live his life at my beck and call.”

If Jimin was in a better frame of mind, he would pay more attention to the reluctant and awkward way Jungkook worded himself, and how he’d fixed his posture all of the sudden. It didn’t sound like something the little one had reasoned out for himself, but rather something he’d been told enough times that it finally stuck and sank into his mind. 

Jimin didn’t particularly care in the moment. “It’s selfish for you to sit there perfectly fine while he has no idea what happened to you,” he snapped. A yawning depth of bitterness, hurt, and longing opened in his own chest. Jimin told himself it was just in sympathy for Jungkook’s brother. 

The nestling finally looked up at Jimin, eyes clouded with something Jimin couldn’t read. 

“You’re assuming that he even knows I’m missing in the first place.”

Jimin jerked back like he’d been slapped. Jungkook spoke like he was close with his brother, and clearly adored him. How could his hyung be unaware that the baby was even in danger?

“Hyung has been in America for months,” Jungkook elaborated. “My parents...they’re unlikely to have contacted him. I doubt he even suspects anything happened.”

Jimin’s jaw hung open as he gaped at the little one. He didn’t understand. How could an older brother be so completely cut off from his dongsaeng that he missed something like this?

Jimin’s heart howled. 

“Did you sign up for this?” he asked, the words flying from his mouth no matter how he wanted to restrain himself. 

Jimin had wanted to ask Jungkook about his turning when he was calm and ready to accept whatever answer the fledgling gave. He’d pictured the two of them in the living room before the fire, calmly talking. He’d thought he would ask delicately. 

Jin had asked him to be nice to the baby, and Jimin had no desire to hurt Jungkook by suddenly asking about something that might be quite traumatizing to him. He’d wanted to be gentle

This was anything but. This was an outright demand for information with no regard for Jungkook’s feelings at all. Jimin desperately wanted to stop himself, but he felt out of control and near manic. There were too many emotions all vying for preeminence in his heart and he couldn’t reign anything in. 

“Ask for—You mean my turning?” the baby asked, taking a death grip on his mug and gaping at Jimin. “Surely I’ve—We haven’t talked about this?”

He seemed nonplussed, like he really thought he’d already told them how he came to be part of their nest. 

Frost nipped at Jimin’s chest. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen that the little one was having memory troubles of his own. It should make him sympathetic. Instead, it made him feel like he was spreading his own mutilation. He hated his confusion reflected in another. 

Jimin couldn’t bring himself to do more than give a tight shake of his head in the negative. 

“I—So you’ve just been caring for me this entire time without knowing if I violated Jin-hyung’s consent in such a vital way?” 

Tears started in Jungkook’s eyes and he ran his hand roughly through his hair. 

“You are Jin’s now,” Jimin replied. “No matter how it happened, Hyung will never give up that claim.”

Jungkook grabbed a handful of his hair and tugged rather hard. Jimin vaguely felt like he should stop him. 

“I was on my way home from work,” Jungkook said. “I never even saw him. I don’t know if it was a spell or if he just hit me, but I woke up in his lab. As you might expect, I was not consulted on whether or not I would be turned.”

Blinding white flashed behind Jimin’s eyes, images flicking past faster than he could hope to keep up with. A shock of barely remembered pain tore through his body and he gasped for breath. 

That was the most he’d ever gotten from his memories. That was...that was petrifying . To be dragged from a place where you thought you were safe and shoved into a horror movie where decisions were made about your body without your consent. Jimin was going to puke. He was going to puke. 

“Hyung?” Jungkook asked, a worried tinge to his voice. 

Jimin should be the one worried. He should be comforting Jungkook who had been morphed into something entirely new with no warning and no choice. 

“‘M fine,” was all he could muster. “I—I’m sorry, I should’ve asked.”

He had no idea how he could manage to keep his voice so steady and his expression neutral enough to head Jungkook off, but the baby only looked at him for a few more seconds, and then nodded his acceptance. 

“I should’ve told,” he dismissed. “I can’t believe Hyung let me into his house without knowing.”

“We all have our own pasts,” Jimin muttered. He had absolutely no idea what he was even talking about. He’d gone from his parent’s house to Jin’s. That was all he knew of himself. He literally had no past. “Hyung didn’t want to let yours define you.”

“That’s kind of him, but he had the right to know,” Jungkook replied. 

Jimin barely even heard him. His head spun as a splitting headache suddenly reared out of nowhere. He dropped his head into his hands and pushed the heels of his hands into his eyes until he saw light, only just holding back a groan. 

“But speaking of pasts, Hyung,” Jungkook continued, oblivious to the maelstrom that was Jimin’s mind. “I hope it doesn’t upset you if I ask, but what was heaven like? I’ve never met another angel to ask, but humans say it’s beautiful.”

Everything else faded to a harsh buzzing after Jimin heard the word heaven. The light behind his eyes burst into a dazzling white, bright and pure, but harsh and unyielding. 

Jimin’s brain felt like it was being torn in half, but he was on his feet despite the pain before he could even register it. 

He found his fist in Jungkook’s shirt, and yanked the baby to his feet, snarling into his face. “ Don’t talk about what you don’t know .”

There was a bang from somewhere else in the house, but Jimin paid it no mind, shoving Jungkook hard instead. The fledgling stumbled against the table, face a mask of shock and so very innocent that Jimin pulled himself back in by sheer force of will. 

He suddenly felt corned, like every wall was closing in on him and someone was hunting him. He wanted to run. He wanted to fight. He wanted this feeling to end

“What’s happening!?” Jin growled, unusually stern as he slid on socked feet into the room. It took him only a second to analyze the situation, Jungkook almost cowering against the table and Jimin’s expression twisted by fury. “Jimin, what’s—”

“Move!” Jimin barked, unable to take in anything besides the fact that Jin was blocking the door. He was between Jimin and any way out. 

“Park Jimin, you do not talk to me like that. I understand you’re angry, love, but you will respect me.”

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized that Jin was asking the others to stay away. The situation was complicated enough, and they didn’t need more bodies and opinions confusing things further. Jimin could only focus on the idea that more people might be coming. No. 

Jin advanced further into the room, and Jimin relaxed a little as he had a clear path to the door. He immediately took it, refusing to be penned in like some kind of stallion that needed taming. 

Jin caught his wrist as he tried to storm past, strength unyielding no matter how hard Jimin pulled. 

“We are not done with this discussion,” the vampire hissed, eyes flashing silver as he grabbed Jimin’s chin. “We haven’t even started .” 

Jimin snarled at him, wings shooting out of his shoulders. He wouldn’t fully shift right now. His smaller form was too vulnerable and held no tactical advantage. Flaring his wings forced Jin to let go of him or risk hurting a wing. 

The vampire dropped him instantly, stunned by the rare sight of Jimin’s white feathers. 

Jimin sprinted towards the door before Jin could recover his grip. He only dimly registered Jungkook lunging forwards towards Jin when the oldest went to follow Jimin, claiming that it was all his fault and that Jimin only needed a few moments, so wouldn’t Jin please stay and Jungkook would explain. 

Jimin didn’t care. As long as no one followed him, Jungkook could say whatever he wanted, no matter how false it may be. And Jin did not follow. He sent a pulse of concern, love, and slight chiding down their bond, but let Jimin go. 

It was lucky, because Jimin didn’t want to know what he’d do if Jin tried to trail him. His mind was half feral, filled with panic and fear. The sensation of being hunted only grew, and Jimin just needed out. 

He needed calm. He needed to think. He needed to remember

Chapter Text

again WARNING for a small mention of self-harm in the context of wings. 

 

It had been a long, long time since Hoseok woke up to panic in the middle of the night. There had been the occasional nightmares, of course, both his own and those of his nest, but they all knew they were safe in Jin’s home.

To wake up to a danger that wasn’t remembered or imagined was extremely jarring. 

Hoseok had grown up knowing that he could be awoken in the middle of the night and forced to flee his home. He’d been taught to snap to full awareness, ready to move the second his eyes opened.

He hated it. 

It was occasionally useful, however. Like when Jimin woke all of them with a rush of — panic, pain, fear, confusion, anger — strong enough to tear the entire nest from their beds. 

They had never really discussed what they would do in the event of a night attack, but each of them slid seamlessly into place like a well-oiled machine. Jin went straight towards the possible source of danger. Yoongi found the closest baby: Taehyung and Namjoon sleeping together, in this case. 

And Hoseok. Hoseok melted into the shadows. Watched. Waited. Got a handle on the kind of situation they were dealing with so he would be ready for whatever was coming. There were still two nestlings unaccounted for, and Hoseok moved instinctively towards them. 

It only took the three of them a few moments to discern that there was no real danger to be concerned about, but the tension in the nest almost grew with their understanding of the situation. 

It had been a very long time since Jimin had this kind of outburst. 

Those first days after Jimin came to earth had been... hard . Jimin had been in a lot of pain, and he was very confused. He felt the bond between himself and his hyungs, but no longer had the memories to justify it. They were strangers and all he knew was that he loved them. 

There had been a lot of anger, fear, and uncertainty on top of the recent trauma that he couldn’t remember , but was affected by nonetheless. Each of them had to earn Jimin’s trust all over again. Jimin had to fall in love for a second time. 

It had created an entirely new dynamic in the nest. 

Before Jimin, the divide between hyungs and maknaes had been shallow. Jin and Yoongi were equals and always had been. Hoseok had joined later, but was  already well into his immortal life with his own burdens and experiences under his belt. While he acknowledged Jin as head of the nest, he hadn’t needed much guidance, and the power structure inherent to nests had been largely nominal. 

Namjoon shifted the balance a bit. Just like Hoseok, he was well into his life and had long ago lost his naive innocence. Unlike Hoseok, he had not yet accepted all the cards life had dealt him. 

Hoseok would never forget his first glimpse of Namjoon. Even Jin had paled in comparison to this god, for Hoseok was certain Namjoon could be nothing less than divine. Everything from the mischievous, flirting smile on his lips to the casual ease of his posture spoke of confidence and clever charm. Hoseok had been just as drawn in as everyone else. 

He had also seen something else under it, however. To this day, Hoseok couldn’t articulate exactly how he’d known that there was more to Namjoon than met the eye, but Hoseok had been fascinated from the first day. He’d wanted to see what this man, who could command an entire room with his mere presence, was hiding. 

From Hoseok’s interest bloomed a courtship, and Namjoon’s eventual inclusion in the nest. 

Each new addition to their nest of course changed the dynamics between them and brought their own challenges, but Namjoon’s impact had been far greater because he was the first to require something more from them than companionship and love. 

Namjoon lacked a certain level of maturity. He was hot headed, impatient, somewhat entitled, and tended to get caught up in trivialities. Of course, he had a beautiful personality to balance that out. No one had as big a heart as Namjoon. His brilliant mind and natural charisma gave him the makings of a great leader. He just needed a little bit of temperance. 

Namjoon still had some growing up to do and it had been for him that Jin created most of their rules. Namjoon had been their first true maknae, with the shift in power that implied.  It was what Namjoon needed, and it had helped him grow into a man Namjoon himself could love. 

Hoseok would also always remember the day Namjoon’s glamors fell for the last time. It was the culmination of Namjoon’s self-acceptance and the moment he fully matured into his full potential. Hoseok was incredibly proud to help him reach it. 

Namjoon tipped the balance of the relationship between hyungs and maknaes. 

Jimin toppled it. Bereft of his memory, injured, and entirely dependent on them for everything, Jimin needed far more guidance and care than Namjoon ever had. 

It had been a wildly unexpected adjustment. 

The nest had been courting Jimin before…. before , but Jimin before he lost his memories and Jimin afterwards were night and day. The Jimin they first met was headstrong, slightly self-righteous, and unendingly kind. His passion for doing the right thing was only matched by his fiercely intelligent pragmatism. That Jimin had been a soldier. 

Without his memory, Jimin was nearly a blank slate. He was the same person at the core of his being, but his memories had shaped the way he viewed the world and the actions he chose to take. 

Gone was the world weary Jimin, whose knowing eyes watched you as though he already knew all your secrets. Gone was the Jimin who understood danger and caution. He was returned to a far more innocent state. 

At first, Jimin’s anger and fear had contradicted that. Even without knowing where those emotions were coming from, Jimin was smart enough to trust himself. He didn’t want to be vulnerable in front of them and at first refused to even consider trusting them. 

He couldn’t hold out for long, however. His circumstances wouldn’t allow it. His entire world consisted of his four nestmates, and he could feel their adoration of him through the bond. Jimin quickly grew to trust and rely on them. 

With that trust came an endless curiosity. Jimin was a naturally inquisitive person. He loved to learn and delighted in forming new relationships. Once he had a steady base in his hyung’s love, he branched out into the world, eager to experience everything he could. All earlier suspensions forgotten, Jimin took each new person and situation as it came. 

Hoseok, like the other hyungs, had been both awed and alarmed by this. Never would he have thought that this sweet, open darling lurked below Jimin’s rigid posturing. It was beautiful to see how extroverted and happy Jimin was when he felt safe. 

On the other hand, the world was not a kind place. There was pain and suffering and cruelty for no other reason than to be cruel. All four of Jimin’s hyungs felt a responsibility to shield and guide him in a way that they had never deemed necessary towards each other. 

Jimin was their darling, but he inadvertently defined the relationship between the maknaes and their hyungs in an entirely new way. 

They couldn’t protect Jimin from everything, however, and it was difficult to predict what could trigger a negative outburst when Jimin himself couldn’t even recall what made him react so strongly. 

The nest eventually learned which topics to avoid, and Jimin also began to recover with time. He couldn’t heal what he didn’t even remember, but the emotions dulled slightly with time. They were less immediate and distressing. 

It had been a long time since Jimin so completely lost his temper and composure. Hoseok couldn’t help but wonder what had caused it, but didn’t need to look far to find the source. 

There was a large amount of guilt pooling in Jungkook’s side of the bond, and apology as well. Perhaps things had finally come to a head between the two of them. 

That made Hoseok relax a little. As much as he would prefer the babies to get along, he would much, much rather Jimin be angry with Jungkook than that Jimin try to remember something again. 

Memory spells were very tricky things. The spell that bound Jimin’s mind was particularly nasty and unique. It was specifically tied to heaven, and viciously destroyed any memories attached to it. 

Worse, the magic was still active and forced his mind away from certain topics. When Jimin tried to remember things, it subtly prodded his thoughts in another direction, masking the intention to remember and even making him forget that he’d ever wanted to know in the first place. 

Hoseok thought it was cruel and unnecessarily painful. If heaven was so sure in the power of its spells, why did they have to give Jimin blinding migraines every time he even thought about trying to remember? 

Even Jin had never seen anything like it before, and they were too scared to try breaking it. What if they accidentally erased all the time Jimin had spent with them? They would be back at the beginning with him again, and Hoseok didn’t want to do that for a third time. 

They loved every version of Jimin, of course, but Hoseok also missed the Jimin they’d first known. That Jimin had been fierce and independent. This Jimin was adorable and much more innocent. As much as they adored Jimin as he was now, the Jimin they’d fallen in love with was gone. That couldn’t happen again. 

So Hoseok was glad that Jimin’s anger was just due to Jungkook. 

Besides, the tension between them had been building for long enough, and needed to come to a head. If Jimin was angry, that meant Jungkook had likely responded in kind for once, and Hoseok was glad to see it. It was good to know that the fledgling did have a breaking point and would stand up for himself when it was crossed. 

The baby himself clearly did not agree. Jungkook was highly agitated, clinging to Jin and channeling such a feeling of distress that Hoseok was tempted to go comfort him himself. 

Jin had the little one in hand, however, so Hoseok left them to it. Jin had Jungkook, and Hoseok would watch over Jimin as was his wont. 

Yoongi stayed with Namjoon to keep a pouting Taehyung occupied as well. As much as Tae may be the closest to Jimin, he had no experience in dealing with Jimin when he was angry. They did their absolute best to never leave the nestlings alone together when Jimin was upset. 

Jimin was the type to get very caught up in his emotions and often said things he didn’t mean if interrupted while raging. None of them had wanted to expose Taehyung to that. 

More than that, Taehyung’s particular brand of comfort was not what Jimin needed to calm down. Tae tended to wrap himself around someone like a little limpet if they were upset. Jimin needed space. 

Hoseok had long ago mastered the art of being there for Jimin without encroaching on his space, so he followed Jimin at a short distance as he stormed out of the kitchen. 

The sight of Jimin’s wings was almost enough to make him stop in his tracks and forget about everything else. It had been years since he’d seen Jimin’s wings. 

Hoseok recovered himself stuck to the shadows as he traced Jimin’s steps. He reached out mentally to let Jimin know he was there, but didn’t speak to the cherub. Jimin ignored him. Hoseok hadn’t expected a response. 

The few times Hoseok had seen Jimin angry before he lost his memory, he had tended to find the highest place as his safe place. Hoseok was often the one chosen to go after him because only winged creatures could easily access the eyries Jimin flew to, and Hoseok could use the shadows to circumvent the light-based spells Jimin used to keep everyone else out. He had become used to trailing Jimin up to the highest points of the house and waiting quietly until he was allowed to approach him. 

Now Jimin favored low points. He turned immediately towards the basement and took the stairs down, down, down , further than Hoseok had realized the house went until he reached a small room under the lake. The lack of height made Jimin feel safe. The magically reinforced windows looking out on the lake gave him an escape if he desperately needed it. 

The basement was a labrinth, and Hoseok had no idea how Jimin had ever found this room in the first place. Case in point, Jimin’s favorite room also had at least six different doors through which Jimin could flee into a part of the house he knew better than anyone else. Jimin felt safe underground and free because of the multiple paths of exit.

Jimin had long ago claimed this place for his own, and he used it for the one thing that always helped him think no matter how much he hated it: wing grooming. 

Jimin’s routine was nothing like Yoongi’s. He was never delicate with his wings, and didn’t bother with the careful adjusting that Yoongi was so particular about. He simply stimulated his own wings enough to produce wing oil and rubbed it roughly through his feathers. He tended to card his fingers through and become annoyed when they got stuck on crooked feathers. 

In the beginning, Hoseok had been unable to watch Jimin treat his wings like this. He’d tried to stop the cherub, to comfort him and keep him from treating his own wings so indecorously. 

Jimin had disappeared the next time he was angry. The nest spent hours in an agony of worry, completely unable to find him. Hoseok had never tried to touch Jimin’s wings again. 

Now, he just sat down with his back to the wall across the room from Jimin to watch the cherub work. He kept to the shadows and offered only silent companionship. This was once a familiar routing, but Jimin’s anger had become rare in recent days. It had been years since Hoseok had to do this. It had been years since he could check the state of Jimin’s wings. 

They had healed well, of course. Between Yoongi’s healing as a bonghwang and the various wing specialists Jin had called in to help, Jimin’s wings had received incredible care. 

They were still small, however, and Hoseok could tell Jimin didn’t care for them like he should. The feathers stuck up at odd angles, and looked brittle. A few had grown in a dull grey color that contrasted oddly with the brilliant white of the rest of the feathers. Those represented feathers that had been damaged in the last few years, and Hoseok made a mental note to bring it up with Jin. 

Jimin didn’t fly enough to damage the feathers accidentally, and Hoseok would never forget the period near the beginning of Jimin’s memory loss where he’d plucked hatefully and anxiously at his own wings. If that was happening again, it was something they should all be aware of. 

Hoseok didn’t know if Jimin was aware of why he hated his wings, but he was sure they felt wrong. Being bound to this particular version of a cherub’s form was honestly just a further, unnecessary humiliation in Hoseok’s opinion. 

His chest ached when he remembered the glorious resplendence of Jimin’s wide-sweeping wings before. How they had seemed to shine with an almost jewel-like brilliance, and how Jimin couldn’t unfurl them completely indoors because of their size. 

These tiny wings, only as long as Jimin’s arm span, seemed almost a mockery in comparison. A child’s wings. Hoseok would never forget the cruel smirk of the messenger as he explained that they confined Jimin to this “less intimidating” form for “the safety and comfort of the human world.” If Jin had let him, Hoseok would’ve stabbed the throne without a second thought. 

Jimin didn’t remember any of that though. This was just one manifestation of his natural form, and Jimin didn’t know it had the potential to be expanded. Hoseok wasn’t sure if Jimin realized why it felt so wrong. 

He clearly did hate them, though. It was reflected in the way he handled them so carelessly and how his lip curled in disgust when he came across a feather that was wrong. It was a vicious cycle; Jimin hated his wings partially because they were in such bad shape so he didn’t want to take care of them, but they were in bad shape partially because he didn’t take care of them. 

Despite his resentment, the act of grooming helped him get his thoughts in order. It was a physical representation of what Jimin was doing in his mind, pruning out stray thoughts and setting things in order to understand how he truly felt. The action was repetitive enough that Jimin didn’t have to focus on it, but it kept his hands busy and gave him an outlet for some of the nervous energy. 

The tension in Jimin’s posture gradually lessened, and he began to stroke his wings more than groom them. His stony expression broke to reveal a thoughtful curiosity, regret, and concern. Hoseok dared to creep closer. 

It took a few more minutes for the mood to become anxious. Jimin’s hands sped up again, carding through the feathers with more force and less direction. Hoseok was expecting this as Jimin often felt guilty for his temper once he’d calmed down. He finally approached Jimin just as the cherub went to yank hard on the end of one feather. 

Hoseok caught his hand. Jimin looked up at him, vulnerable, ashamed, repentant. Hoseok smiled sadly at him, and sank down to kneel in front of the nestling. He kissed Jimin’s hand and cupped his face. Then Hoseok settled on the floor and held both of Jimin’s hands in his lap. 

They didn’t speak. They didn’t touch more than this. They just sat with each other, enduring the pain together because it would be much worse alone. 

Later, they would need to talk. They needed to know what Jungkook had said to set Jimin off like this, and Hoseok was sure Jin would want a word about Jimin’s disrespect. They would need to process what had happened and sort through everyone’s emotions. 

For now, this was enough. 

Chapter Text

Yoongi was not used to making breakfast in a tense kitchen. For all that their nest was on the larger side, and they didn’t always agree on everything, true arguments were somewhat rare. Usually, their squabbles were small enough to settle between each other without too much fuss. And usually, Jin would be the one making breakfast. 

Jin was somewhat distracted at the moment, however, by the baby on Namjoon’s lap. Jungkook latched onto Joon the moment the demigod was within reach, and had thus far refused to let go. 

The little one was distraught. Jin had settled them in the living room for more comfort, but Yoongi couldn’t help glancing at him through the doorway every few minutes. The baby’s hands were still tangled in Namjooon’s shirt where they’d been for the last several hours, and his face was buried in Joon’s neck. 

Through their bond, Yoongi could feel that the fledgling was teething and had been for quite some time. It had taken Jin a bit to get him calmed down enough to even sit still, but Jungkook had buried his face in Namjoon’s neck soon after that and hadn’t budged since. 

Namjoon’s intense fondness and near-awe at the fledgling teething from him warmed Yoongi’s chest. At the same time, they all wished it could’ve been under better circumstances. 

The baby was beginning to associate teething with self-soothing. That was a normal reaction to teething, but not the only reason to do it. Teething was highly intimate and deepened the bond between members of the nest. It was usually an act of comfort like a hug or cuddling; soothing when a fledgling was upset, but also pleasurable just for the physical contact. 

Yoongi hoped Jungkook would eventually be comfortable enough to do it because he wanted to, not because he was upset. 

Jin was also starting to get insecure about the fact that Jungkook had yet to teethe from him. A fledgling was usually the most confident and secure with their sire. For Jungkook not to prefer teething on Jin was a little out of the ordinary and a blow to Jin’s self-confidence. This was Jin’s first childe, and he was afraid of messing up. 

Jin had never thought he would have a fledgling of his own. After what had happened with his brothers....well. Jin had never considered turning someone. To have a childe now for the first time in his long immortal life felt almost surreal for both Yoongi and Jin. 

Yoongi had been there from the very beginning, after all. Their magic was so closely bonded as to almost be one at this point, and Jungkook’s addition enriched it in ways neither of them had been expecting. 

The little one’s magic was oddly valenced and had a depth to it that fascinated Yoongi. He still couldn’t figure out why Jungkook’s magic felt so different from the rest of the nest’s. Was he missing some of the layers of the other’s magic, or was Jungkook’s truly different?

Quality of his magic aside, Jungkook also added a new dimension to Jin and Yoongi’s connection. The bond between them gained a nurturing element to it that was incredibly fulfilling and tender. Yoongi and Jin had always been on equal ground. They met each other halfway and their magic was supportive, but mutually so. 

Jungkook came to them as a newly turned creature, weakened both physically and magically. Both their minds and their magic wanted to care for him. He was an outlet for Jin and Yoongi to channel their combined desire to take care of someone. 

They did that with the rest of the nest as well, some more than others, but this was a more immediate connection. Jungkook wasn’t introduced gradually to their magic and bond. He was present in it fully with no slow build. 

The sudden shock drove Jin and Yoongi to protect and nurture Jungkook more fiercely than they had with most of their other mates. It was like the early days of having Jimin in the nest all over again, a newly bonded and vulnerable baby for them to nurture. 

Eventually, things would settle and they would become accustomed to the feel of Jungkook in their magic. Until then, their magic drove them to be just a little bit more protective than usual. 

The compulsion wasn’t overwhelming, of course. Had they chosen to abandon Jungkook, it would’ve broken off completely. Instead, they encouraged it, endeared by the baby and eager to help him in any way they could. 

Yoongi wasn’t stupid enough to miss that they were projecting. Jin’s captivity had been in their minds more often lately. Yoongi was having nightmares. Jin slept less. The shadow of the past reminded them of their own helplessness in the aftermath of Jin’s trauma and drove them to overcompensate now that they could do something. 

It soothed some long-buried hurt to be able to care for someone with such a similar experience. To feel like they were actually helping this time instead of suffering through it themselves, or standing by watching uselessly. 

They had grown very attached to Jungkook very quickly, and Yoongi understood that that wasn’t necessarily going to be the case with everyone else. Their magic wasn’t bound as closely to Jungkook yet, and they didn’t share that part of Yoongi and Jin’s past. 

He’d still hoped the settling in process would go a little better than this. 

While Joon and Hobi took to the baby immediately, Tae had been a bit more reluctant, and Jimin… Yoongi didn’t really know what to do about Jimin. The cherub had always been so unfailingly kind, and they’d never needed to worry about him actually disliking someone without good cause before. 

Well actually, that wasn’t completely true. Back in the days before Jimin joined their nest, he’d been extremely picky and finicky about who he associated with. 

Back then, it had been a characteristic Yoongi disapproved of because he thought it was learned prejudice that stopped Jimin’s naturally gentle nature from making unbiased decisions. It turned out he had been right because Jimin without his memories was friendly with everyone until they gave him a reason not to be. 

Many of Jimin’s less desirable personality traits had faded into the background when he lost his memories. He was no longer so difficult to please. He was empathic, eager to help, unguarded. The air of superiority he’d carried with him dimmed. 

Yoongi missed the person Jimin used to be. He missed the disgusted crinkle of Jimin’s nose when the nestling disapproved of something and was trying (unsuccessfully) to be subtle about it. He missed the complex moral debates he and Jimin used to engage in. He missed seeing Jimin confront his own flawed assumptions and grow as he realized where he was going wrong.

Yoongi loved every part of Jimin as he was now, but he missed the Jimin he’d once known as well.

This high level of suspicion towards Jungkook reminded him of that Jimin. The old Jimin took a long time to warm up to people, and Yoongi knew how intimidating it could be to come under Jimin’s scrutiny. This was the first time they were seeing this kind of behavior in Jimin since he lost his memory, and it was...strange. 

Part of Yoongi worried that Jimin was trying to remember. As frustrating as it was to know nothing of his own past, Jimin had never actually made an effort to recover his memories. Perhaps that was the curse, or perhaps Jimin just subconsciously didn’t want those experiences back. He’d gone through a lot of trauma and the nest really only knew part of it. 

To see elements of his old personality creeping through was honestly scary because Yoongi didn’t know what would happen if Jimin tried to get his memories back. A lot of pain, he was sure. Both physical, with blinding migraines, and emotional as Jimin confronted the betrayal and abuse he’d suffered. 

On the other hand, it was oddly comforting to know that Jimin’s past still lurked beneath the surface, influencing his behavior and his views on the world. Jimin was changed, but there was still something there of the man Yoongi had originally fallen in love with. 

Yoongi just wished Jungkook hadn’t been the one to bring that side of Jimin out. The baby had been through enough. He didn’t need to be subjected to Jimin’s more distrustful and cold side. 

The little one wasn’t really emotionally stable enough to handle Jimin’s censure, as proven by the fact that he was still sitting on Namjoon’s lap hours later. The distress that radiated from the baby as he teethed from his hyung made Yoongi’s heart ache. 

Yoongi was broken from his thoughts by the bang of Taehyung’s heel against the kitchen cabinets. The last nestling sat next to him on the counter, face uncharacteristically blank as he kicked his feet. 

Taehyung didn’t like being prohibited from seeing Jimin. He also didn’t like tension in his nest, and was the only one of them aside from the baby who actually suffered from lack of sleep. It was unsurprising that he was moody. 

Yoongi chucked his chin and patted his cheek, sympathetic without offering needless platitudes. None of them were very pleased to be in the dark about what had happened. 

Jungkook had given Jin some cock and bull story about how he had purposely riled Jimin’s impressive temper because he was tired of Jimin being rude to him. Yoongi didn’t believe it for a second. 

In the few instances Jungkook had been exposed to their displeasure, he had immediately apologized and done what he could to soothe the situation. Yoongi rather thought the little one feared anger. It was highly unlikely that he’d intentionally antagonize Jimin. 

Jin wasn’t buying it either, but the baby was so upset that he didn’t push it. Which meant that none of them really knew what had gone down between the nestlings. 

Taehyung hated that as much as the rest of them. 

Before Yoongi could do much more to soothe him, there was a sudden noise from the direction of the basement. Taehyung and Yoongi both immediately whipped around, and Jin and Namjoon perked up in the other room. 

Hoseok led Jimin in with a hand on the small of the cherub’s back, and Yoongi winced. Jimin’s expression was an odd mix of dazed and intensely concentrated. He looked like he wasn’t sure if this was a dream, but planned to give it his all anyway. 

Yoongi took the pan with their finished breakfast off the burner, and pretended to be busy while Hobi got Jimin situated at the table. He didn’t want to make Jimin feel crowded or studied. 

Taehyung had no such compunctions. He stared blatantly at Jimin, eyes intent and worried. Jimin barely seemed to notice as he huddled into his chair. It would take him a few more minutes before he was ready to process anything. Hoseok kissed his head and turned to help Yoongi finish getting breakfast on the table. 

The kitchen remained oddly silent. When all of them were in a room, there tended to be plenty of noise. Several conversations happened at once, someone would be singing, laughter underlying it all. The hush this morning was disconcerting. 

Jin put a mug of coffee in Jimin’s hands, and Yoongi dished out plates for Hobi to take to the table. Namjoon carried Jungkook in, not bothering to detach the baby until he had to set him down at the table. The nestling clung, unwilling to be put down. He wound his arms and legs tighter to cling more closely, and his breath hitched. Namjoon didn’t force him, just paused for a few seconds until the little one loosened his grip again and allowed himself to be put down. 

Yoongi eyed the line of bruises down Namjoon’s neck almost enviously. This was the first time the fledgling had teethed long enough to create more than one love bite. Yoongi couldn’t help but admire them despite the circumstance of their creation. 

Taehyung slid off the counter, and Yoongi held his breath for a second, afraid that the nestling wouldn't tolerate the unaccustomed hush. Tae had always been good about understanding the mood of a situation, but that didn’t mean he would play along with it. Thankfully, he merely snatched a kiss from Jimin before he sat down. 

Jimin barely responded, and Jungkook stared off into space. The rest of the nest collectively decided it would be better to give them a few more minutes to try to get their feet under them. 

It wasn’t until they were halfway through the meal that Jimin finally blinked and almost seemed to wake up a little bit. 

“I am sorry, Hyung, I should not have yelled at you like that. Additionally, my behavior towards you was unacceptable, Jungkook-ah. I hope you can forgive me.”

The words were oddly stilted and formal. A dash of fear burned through Yoongi’s chest, not because he thought Jimin was insincere, but because that wording…

“No one talks like that, Jimin-ah.” His own voice echoed through his mind, tinged with laughter as he tried to teach the cherub how to sound natural to humans. Jimin had been raised in a very formal and old fashioned household. Yoongi had enjoyed teasing his dated mannerisms once upon a time.

To hear some of that returning now was chilling, like a ghost of the past that only a few of them felt hovering over them. A slightly alarmed look crossed Hoseok’s face and Namjoon frowned in concern. Jin and Yoongi traded glances. 

The little one looked up with puzzlement on his face, oblivious to their suddenly intensified worry. “You didn’t do anything, Jimin-sii. I was out of line and it was my fault.” He gave as much of a bow as he could while seated. 

Jimin’s eyes narrowed, and he fixed the baby with a surprisingly sharp look for how out of it he was. “You think that you did something wrong?”

“I could see that you were having a bad night, and I pushed you to talk anyway. It was my fault for bothering you while you were already upset.”

Yoongi jolted a little at that, head whipping around towards Jimin. Was the cherub having nightmares again? 

“And you think that is justification enough for me to lash out at you?”

None of them dared to interrupt the strange intensity of the exchange. Jungkook seemed to really believe his own statement, and Jimin’s stern questioning didn’t deter him. Jimin’s whole attention was turned on the fledgling, not quite contradictory but commanding. A fissure of tension buzzed between them. 

Jimin rarely took this kind of focused approach. He was putting Jungkook on the spot and not allowing him to shy away from the reality of the situation. It felt almost like an interrogation and Yoongi was a little flustered just watching it. 

“I think that you weren’t lashing out at me . You were just hurting, and I was just the only one present at the time.” The matter-of-fact statement threw all of them off a little bit because—

“You’ve been upset for hours.” Jimin voiced the objection all of them were thinking. “I was buried in my own mind, and even I could feel that.”

“You think I’m upset at you?” The shock in the question made the idea seem ludicrous, and Yoongi felt like he’d lost the plot entirely. What else had happened last night that could’ve upset the fledgling if not his argument with Jimin?

“Well then what are you so anxious over if not me?” The incredulity in Jimin’s tone mirrored Yoongi’s thoughts, except it was ever so slightly condescending. Jimin hadn’t taken that kind of tone with them since his fall. Yoongi’s head spun with the implications. 

“You brought me here without knowing if I agreed to being turned!” The outburst was extremely unexpected, and Yoongi sat back, stunned. “How could any of you agree to that? I can’t imagine how upsetting it must be just to have me here. Why are you allowing that!”

Hoseok dropped his chopsticks in shock. Namjoon knocked over his water and paid no attention to the way it spread slowly across the table. Taehyung’s eyebrows shot up, and Jimin’s jaw dropped. They all stared at the baby. 

The complete randomness of that little rant left them all floundering, and the vehemence behind it was the most passionate they had seen Jungkook. Between Jimin’s uncharacteristic behavior and this , Yoongi was utterly bewildered. What had happened last night? 

“Wait,” Jin said loudly. “Is that why you’ve been refusing to let me touch you all morning?” 

Jungkook flinched, taken aback by Jin’s sudden intervention. Despite the fact that Jin had been the one to make the decision to bring Jungkook home, the baby had still been focused on Jimin. Yoongi didn’t blame him; Jimin’s demeanor demanded nothing less. All of them had fallen into the persona Jimin was projecting. 

 “ Why would you want to touch me when you know I might have violated your consent like that?”

Yoongi’s heart ached because Jungkook sounded so self-recriminating. The fledgling couldn’t comprehend why Jin would be kind to him, even with all he’d suffered after being turned. Jin was exceptionally forgiving, but Yoongi wished that idea wasn’t so foreign to the baby. 

It was like Jungkook expected that a single mistake would define their view of him for all time. In reality, the severity of his actions varied significantly according to his own knowledge of the situation. 

Depending on Jungkook’s understanding of magic and the bond between sire and childe before all this started, he may not have realized that this was the kind of thing he even needed consent for. The average person generally wasn’t privy to the intricacies of vampiric culture and magic. For all they knew, Jungkook was told it was normal to take a random vampire’s blood in the turning. 

Jungkook seemed to have a basic understanding of the duties of a sire, but they had no idea when he’d acquired that knowledge. He could’ve gotten it from Reginald. 

Even if he  had known beforehand, there could’ve been mitigating circumstances. Jungkook could’ve been dying, for example. The turning would’ve saved his life, and that was a difficult thing to blame someone for. 

As much as Jin should’ve consented before Jungkook was turned, Jungkook’s culpability in the situation was dubious. The baby understood now how closely he had tied himself to Jin and how that should’ve been done with Jin’s consent, but the situation may have been complicated when he was turned. The fact that he assumed his actions were unforgivable spoke to how little tolerance he’d been shown in the past. 

Jin gave a groan of annoyance and pushed his chair back from the table. He fairly stormed around to pull Jungkook up from his seat, wrapping an arm around the fledgling’s waist to pull him tight against Jin’s chest. He grabbed Jungkook’s chin and met the baby’s eyes. 

“My childe, I brought you here because I knew your consent had been violated as well. No matter if you willingly and knowingly took my blood, you did not ask to be trapped in a basement and experimented on. I am well aware of how difficult it is to accept changes to your body that you didn’t consent to, and I know it tends to change your perspective on things.”

“It wouldn’t change the fact that I magically bound myself to you without your consent.” The little one met Jin’s eyes with an expression so intense that Yoongi wondered for a moment who was lecturing who. 

“No, but it also wouldn’t change the fact that we are magically bound. I could feel when we met that you meant no harm towards me, and that you were hurting. For me, that was enough at that time.”

“It shouldn’t have been. You deserve—”

Jin laid a finger across the fledgling’s lips. “That’s for me to decide. I’m old enough to know what I want, Jungkook-ah, and I’m old enough to know how easy it is for one mistake to define a person’s entire life. I didn’t want that for you.”

The baby searched Jin’s face for a few moments, even tentatively reaching into the bond between them to search for any sign of regret or falsity in those words. He bit his lip, but eventually nodded. 

“I didn’t agree to be turned.”

The whole conversation had been building towards this, but it was one emotional stab too far for Yoongi after the whirlwind that this morning had been. A wild, seething anger raged suddenly to life in the pit of his stomach. It burned behind his eyes and heated his palms until his metal chopsticks bent under his fingers. Yoongi fought for control. 

This wasn’t a shock, but to have it bluntly stated made Yoongi’s mind feel numb with disgust and pain. 

Bad enough that Jungkook had been hurt, bad enough that he’d been experimented on and starved, but to be turned without his consent? Yoongi wanted to be sick. 

He would never forget those first few days with Jin. The growing horror as Jin realized what exactly he was thirsting for, the fear of what he had become, the uncertainty of how much he would be changed by it. 

To imagine Jungkook going through that alone , without the support of family and friends while also trapped in a dungeon and experiment on was unbearable. 

“Oh my treasure.” Jin pulled the baby in, pushing Jungkook’s head into his neck and holding him close. “I’m so sorry that happened to you.”

It was a woefully inadequate expression of their feelings, but Yoongi knew Jungkook would understand. The bond could not fail to reveal it to him.

The intensity of the emotions finally seemed to catch up with the baby, and his knees suddenly gave slightly in exhaustion and shock. Jungkook had been unable to process his feelings earlier because he was so focused on how Jin must’ve been affected by his presence. 

Now more settled emotionally, Jungkook could pay more attention to what his own body was telling him, and it was not happy. Jin scrambled to take more of Jungkook’s weight. 

“Where is your chair?” he demanded.

Yoongi’s eyes sharpened as well as he realized he hadn’t seen the wheelchair at all this morning. 

“Oh, that is a good question,” Jimin said, an odd note in his voice that Yoongi couldn’t quite pin down. “You didn’t have it with you last night.”

There was some kind of dawning realization in Jimin’s eyes, but Yoongi had no idea what it could be. Jungkook clearly did as he held Jimin’s gaze, like he had Taehyung’s the night before last, with a forbidding expression. 

Jin ignored the byplay, hitching Jungkook closer to him again and swatting the baby. “This is the second time in three days that you’ve strained your body unnecessarily, baby boy. It’s not in your best interests to let it happen a third time.”

Jungkook nodded distractedly, still focused on Jimin despite the small punishment. It was a testament to how comfortable he was growing with Jin and how important he considered the stalemate with Jimin. Jungkook would never normally ignore a hyung’s disapproval. Yoongi had seen how anxious he got when he was “in trouble” and knew it took a lot to overcome that worry. 

Jimin finally gave the slightest nod, and Jungkook slumped in relief, putting more of his weight back onto Jin. Jin huffed and swatted him again, but picked him up and carried him back to his own seat. The fledgling settled on Jin’s lap willingly this time, and cuddled into Jin’s chest. He still didn’t acknowledge the small punishment, but he clung to Jin a little more than usual and apologetic guilt filtered through their bond. 

Jin sighed and ran a hand through the nestling’s hair. He kissed Jungkook’s forehead and cupped his face gently. “You have to stop doing this, little one. You keep neglecting to care for your own body, and it’s not good for you at all while you’re recovering like this.”

The baby actually pouted. “I was doing fine until now.”

“Clearly,” Hoseok said dryly. 

“Jungkookie,” Yoongi crooned, “ I am the one responsible for strengthening your body until you’re back to full health, and you will answer to me if you neglect it again. Do you understand, little love?”

Several of the others winced around the table, and Yoongi smiled serenely. He generally preferred to leave real punishment to Jin, but he was known for being... creative in the bedroom. The few times he’d had to discipline them for real had left no less of an impression on them. 

The baby clearly caught some of that, or perhaps just hadn’t considered that anyone but Jin would punish him, because his eyes went very wide and he nodded quickly. Yoongi reached across the table to run a fond hand through his hair in reassurance. 

“Good boy.”

Jungkook shuddered, which was a reaction Yoongi would definitely explore some day when he had the little one spread out underneath him. 

“We should go shopping.” Hoseok's non-sequitur had them all reeling for a second as they struggled to keep up with the change in topic and mood. Hobi had always been good about knowing when the moment needed to end and it was time to move on. “We have that gala in a week and a half, and Jungkookie doesn’t even have normal clothes here, let alone fancy ones.”

“Ohhhh, let’s take him to Fantasia!” 

Yoongi almost groaned at Taehyung’s suggestion. Fantasia was the largest magical mall and existed in its own pocket dimension because it was so big. It would certainly have everything they needed (at a steep price, not that it mattered to them) but Yoongi hated it. 

There were too many people, and the saturation of magic in the place always made it unpredictable. Yoongi swore it was at least partially sentient and knew that he didn’t like it. It always seemed to take Yoongi longer to find whatever he was looking for. 

“You don’t have to come, Hyung.” Taehyung waved a dismissive hand at him. “Hobi-hyung, Jiminie and I were planning on going soon anyways, and you know it’s the most convenient.”

“We need to get you some nice socks, because your poor little feet are always freezing.” Namjoon’s contribution was somewhat unexpected as he usually hated the mall too, but he was frowning at the baby’s bare feet in concern. 

Yoongi almost rolled his eyes. Jungkook was a vampire. Of course his feet were going to be cold. 

The rest of the table fell into an easy conversation. Even Jimin relaxed some and eventually joined in with Taehyung’s enthusiastic description of the mall to Jungkook. The little one looked fascinated, and Yoongi mentally groaned as he realized they would be going to the mall now because anything that interested Jungkook like that was worth dealing with at least once. 

Jin was unusually quiet as the others chattered around them. Too many memories brought up by the revelation that Jungkook had been changed against his will. Too many emotions to sort through, from both this conversation and Jimin’s behavior last night. 

Despite the apology, Yoongi knew Jin was going to need to talk with Jimin. They needed to at least figure out what had triggered him, and Jin was still a little hurt by Jimin’s disrespect. Jimin had never just blown past them like that. 

It was all just a bit too much for Jin to pretend he was completely okay right now. He didn’t overtly display it, just clutched at the baby a bit tighter and talked much less than usual, but Yoongi wasn’t fooled.

He grabbed Jin’s free hand and held it still for a few moments. The oldest met his eyes, the babies falling into the background as they had a moment just to themselves. Yoongi kissed Jin’s hand, squeezed it one more time, and let go. 

It was all he needed to do to tell Jin that he was there. That he would support Jin, and that he didn’t always need to be strong. Just like he’d always been. Just like he always would be. 

As much of a shit show as this morning had been, it actually relieved several worries that had been lingering in the background for all of them. Jungkook had not taken Jin's blood willingly, and Jimin had reached some kind of accord with the baby. Sure, there were also new things to worry about (Jimin's memory slips topping that list), but they would weather those storms as the came. They had been through enough to know that they would always come out on the other side. 

Jin leaned over the table and kissed him, then turned back to their nest with renewed determination. 

“Time to feed, little one.” 

Even when the pouty look returned to Jungkook’s face, Yoongi couldn't help but smile. 

Chapter Text

Jungkook was not at all expecting to be approached by Jimin again any time soon. After how badly their last meeting had gone, he thought Jimin would want to keep his distance. 

Jungkook didn’t blame Jimin for snapping at him. He could clearly see that Jimin wasn’t actually angry with him, just reacting to emotions he didn’t seem to be able to control.

It was why Jungkook had brought up heaven in the first place; he’d seen that Jimin was having a hard night and thought perhaps focusing him on his home, a place ostensibly filled with good memories, might help snap him out of  it a bit. 

Jungkook should’ve known better. Not everyone had good memories of their childhood. It was insensitive of him to bring it up when Jimin was already having a bad night.

Jimin’s apology had been nice, but not really necessary. Sure, Jimin’s reaction was a bit overblown compared to his behavior before this, but Jungkook really thought it was largely his own fault. Jungkook thought he would use their argument as a pretext to keep his distance for a while.

 Jimin didn’t like Jungkook, and Jungkook was okay with that. They’d barely known each other for two weeks, and Jungkook had invaded Jimin’s home. Jimin wasn’t overtly mean or sabotaging towards Jungkook, and that was really all Jungkook needed. He could stay out of Jimin’s way if that made the cherub happier. It was the least Jungkook could do when he had inserted himself into what was supposed to be Jimin’s safe place. 

Jimin, it seemed, had other ideas. 

The day after the argument, when they had both napped and were feeling a bit steadier on their feet, Jimin tracked Jungkook down. Jungkook was alone, sitting in the living room with a book. His legs were sore from so much movement in the last few days, and he had to admit that Jin and Yoongi were right; he wasn’t up for this high level of activity just yet.

It was the first time all day that he’d been left alone. Jin had been clingier than usual after Jungkook’s confession this morning, and Namjoon had realized by now that Jungkook tended to latch on to him when he was upset. The demigod was just big and safe and Jungkook had no self control. 

He hadn’t been left alone until Jin and Namjoon were called away for another emergency and this time took both Yoongi and Hoseok with them. All of them had been highly reluctant to leave after the blowout in the early morning hours, but the maknaes had practically pushed them out the door. 

Taehyung and Jimin ladened their hyungs down with various magical charms they thought would help, and Jungkook did his part by promising to rest and maybe nap again while they were gone. He whispered a few protection spells under his breath, but nothing too drastic. 

None of them knew what the four of them were walking into, and magic could mix in bad ways if the caster was careless. A fire based protection spell could counteract a water based one. The addition of one extra charm could render an entire set of spells null or even harmful. Not to mention that any excess magic lingering around a person’s body could sometimes trigger a boobytrap ward. 

The spells Jungkook used were subtle and would peel off at the first sign of magical interference. They sat closer to the surface level of his hyung’s magic and clung only loosely, happy to be knocked off if they began to harm the person they were supposed to protect. 

That didn’t make them any less vigorous in their defence. While certainly a ward that was buried in the core of their magic could have a more long lasting and drastic effect, Jungkook’s protections were like a forcefield. They formed to his hyung’s magic and served as a first layer of defence. The strength of the forcefield depended on the strength of the caster and how much magic was fed into the spell. In this case, Jungkook gave them only enough to be useful.

There were four people he was casting on, after all, and it had been awhile since he’d done such advanced magic. Besides, even these surface-level spells could mix badly with other magic if they were too highly powered. This was supposed to be just a little extra boost for his hyungs. 

This was the kind of magic Jungkook’s family had once been known for. The Jeons had built up one of the largest hoards in all the world because they got it partially by taking the hoards of other dragons

Most dragons tended to be very paranoid that their hoards might be found and plundered by others, so they went overboard on magical protection. Sometimes, this escalated to the point that even their next of kin couldn’t claim the hoard when the dragon died because they couldn’t get past the defences guarding it. 

The Jeons had made a name for themselves by working around those wards in return for a portion of the hoard. They also tended to be very good at sniffing out long forgotten hoards left andanonded for so long that there was no owner to claim them anymore. 

Their magic therefore naturally developed in the direction of protection spells for themselves as well as detection and curse breaking skills. The Jeons had once been renowned as some of the most knowledgeable and powerful dragons in Korea, if not the world. 

Dragons, like most other immortal creatures, were also slow to reproduce, however, and no matter how good they were at their job, it was inevitable that a few of the Jeons were killed in this line of work. The family line had eventually dwindled to just Jungkook’s grandparents and their one human son. 

It was why his father had been so desperate to produce dragon children. Their heritage was dying and Jungkook’s brother was only one dragon to uphold a legacy that had once belonged to dozens. 

There was a chance, of course, that his grandparents would have more kids. They were on the older side to want more children, but they’d had his father not too long ago by immortal standards, so it wasn’t out of the question. 

Jungkook had never met his grandparents, but he gathered from his parents that they didn’t intend to have any more children, at least in the immediate future. That meant his father felt a lot of pressure to continue on the Jeon family line, and the birth of a non-dagon son had been especially disappointing in that respect. 

Despite Jungkook’s talent for the family business, they’d never even considered that line of work for him. Jungkook was not supposed to be taught magic, and he definitely wasn’t supposed to be good at it. 

Too bad for his parents, Jungkook had long ago stopped caring what they thought he was supposed to do. The family spells were useful, and Jungkook was very happy to be able to use them on his hyungs. 

So he patiently endured their fussing as they got him settled by the fire with a book and waved them off with just a touch of extra protection. 

Perhaps Taehyung would seek Jungkook out later in the day for another attempt at bonding after their last one had gone so miserably, but Jungkook thought Jimin would stay far away. The fire was warm and lulled him into a complacency as he was left alone. 

Thus he was completely unprepared for the cherub to march determinedly into the room only a little after their hyungs had left. 

“So we’re not going to dance around this.” The chair right across from Jungkook scraped across the floor as Jimin’s pulled it out jerkily, his jaw clenched in determination and his posture strangely rigid. 

The pose looked unnatural and strangely forced. Maybe it was a strange thing to notice, but Jungkook admired the way Jin and Namjoon’s perfect posture seemed nearly ingrained into their beings, and he’d often seen Yoongi correct his own slouch.  This was different. Jimin didn’t hold himself gracefully as the others did, but stiff , like someone had tapped a stick to his spine and he was trying to hold himself so it poked him as little as possible. 

“I’m sorry?”

“What have you heard about my memory?”

Jungkook’s mind spun. Jimin’s memory? “Nothing, why?”

The forced tension in Jimin’s shoulder relaxed just slightly, and deeply buried relief and gratitude twinkled in his eyes. 

“I would’ve thought they would tell you at least to avoid certain topics, but I guess maybe they thought it was my story to tell…” Jimin’s spine snapped unnaturally straight again as he looked intensely at Jungkook. “I don’t have one.”

“You don’t have—”

“A memory. At least not before I joined Jin’s nest. It’s all gone; my childhood, how I ever met them in the first place, what happened to make me lose it. I don’t have any of those memories.”

Shock made Jungkook fall back deeper into his chair. No wonder Jimin had reacted negatively to Jungkook asking about heaven. It must’ve felt mocking to him for Jungkook to bring up a topic he couldn’t remember. A tiny spark of frustration kindled deep in Jungkook’s chest that he hadn’t been warned to stay away from that topic with Jimin. 

At the same time, he understood why he hadn't been told, and why Jimin was relieved that Jungkook didn’t know. This was Jimin’s biggest vulnerability. To share that with some interloper who Jimin wasn’t comfortable with would’ve been a violation of his trust. It would mean giving Jungkook a way to hurt Jimin and trusting him not to use it. 

This was Jimin’s story to tell, and Jungkook was glad their hyungs hadn’t taken that power away from him. 

“I’m so sorry. I never would’ve asked about something I knew you didn’t remember.” 

“Yeah, I figured.” The firelight glinted off of Jimn’s rings as he waved his hand dismissively through the air. “That’s not what I’m really worried about right now. What I’m worried about, is that I’m tired of not remembering, and last night was the closest I’ve gotten to actually recalling something in all the time I’ve been here.”

An almost feverish intensity shone from Jimin’s eyes, and a pit of worry started to build low in Jungkook’s stomach. Why was Jimin telling him this? If their hyungs couldn’t do anything about Jimin’s memory loss, why come to Jungkook? What did Jimin want from him?

“None of our hyungs will try to break the spell because they’re afraid it might backfire and erase my memory entirely all over again.” The frustration was clear in Jimin’s tone, but Jungkook thought that was a valid concern. 

“Jimin-ssi, I don’t think—”

“You’re going to help me break it.” It was a command, and Jimin’s expression dared him to object. “Your touch with magic is very delicate, and seven is the number connected to thought. If anyone can work around the curse, it’s you.”

Jimin leaned forward in his chair, bracing his elbows on his knees and looking at Jungkook almost desperately. Despite Jungkook’s initial misgivings, those were very good points. 

His use of magic was very dainty. He preferred gossamer tugs to unravel complex webs of spells, and when he chose to look he could generally see more clearly than others. 

Seven was also the number most deeply connected to thought forms and consciousness. If something was buried in Jimin’s subconscious, Jungkook should theoretically be more capable of pulling it out than anyone else. 

The issue was that he’d never done that before. Jungkook knew enough of mind magic to know that things could go dreadfully wrong very quickly, and this seemed like a very risky endeavor. 

“I don’t know, maybe our hyungs have a point, Jimin-ssi,” he murmured, rubbing his hands nervously against his thighs. “I’ve never done magic like that before, and I could end up hurting you.”

“Well then that’s my fault!” The back legs of the chair lifted slightly off the ground as Jimin scooted forwards again with increased desperation. “I’ve been living with this hole in my head and my heart for so long that I don’t even know how to feel complete anymore! I’m tired of having all these emotions that I don’t understand and parroting words that I don’t even remember learning. I just want to know , and I accept the risk.” 

“You might, but maybe I don’t.” Jungkook’s voice didn’t waver and he met Jimin’s eyes. 

As much as he preferred to avoid conflict, he wouldn’t compromise on moral grounds. He wasn’t going to do something he would regret for the rest of his life just because he was a people-pleaser and wanted to make Jimin happy. This had the potential to affect Jimin permanently, and it wasn’t a decision to be made lightly. 

“You’re asking me to do something that has a large possibility of hurting you, Jimin-ssi. You’re not the only one who’s going to have to live with the consequences if this goes wrong, and you can’t just demand that I take that risk without giving me the choice.”

“I can because it’s my body !” Jimin actually stood, his fists clenching and jaw working in fury. “It’s my body and my mind and too many decisions have been made about it without anyone asking me first!”

The words rang deep in Jungkook’s heart. The felt like an electric shock through his entire body, seizing his muscles until his jaw ached from clenching, but his hands fell limp in his lap. Jimin continued talking, arguing his point frantically as his whole body strained with emotion, but it all fuzzed out into an indistinct buzz at the back of Jungkooks’ brain. Everything else faded as his own helpless horror took the forefront. 

That—He could understand that. Jungkook knew what it was like to have the option pulled away from him, dangled just out of reach as he lunged for it desperately. He knew what it was like to feel his mind betray him and be unable to stop it.

Jungkook knew what it was like to have his body twisted and reshaped without his consent as his mind felt like it was slipping away. The creeping despair of that sensation still lingered at the back of his throat, coating his tongue and choking off his breath. How could he condemn Jimin to a lifetime of the same thing? 

He cut Jimin off mid-sentence, but had no idea what the cherub had been saying. 

“I’ll do it.”

Both of them stopped dead, blinking at each other. A startled, but slightly disorientated look commandeered Jimin’s expression. Jungkook felt detached and dazed, barely aware of what he was agreeing to, but sure he couldn’t allow anyone to suffer the same feelings that threatened to cut the air from his chest. 

“You-you’ll do it?” The fragile note of hope in Jimin’s voice was the only thing Jungkook needed to know that he was making the right decision. 

Dangerous as this might be, Jimin was right; Jungkook was the person most likely to succeed, and it was Jimin’s choice . If this was really what he wanted, Jungkook would do his absolute best to give him back his control over his own mind and body. It might be impossible for Jungkook to ever regain that peace of mind, but he could at least help someone else. 

“Yes, I’ll try.” The chair rocked again as Jimin collapsed into it,  tears springing up in his eyes. He buried his head and his hands and his whole body shook with the beginnings of a sob. 

It seemed to shudder through Jungkook’s frame as well. He couldn’t help but tremble as he slipped out of his own chair and knelt on the ground in front of Jimin, resting both hands on one of Jimin’s knees and looking up at him. 

“You have to understand, Jimin-ssi, that I’m not sure if I’ll succeed. If it looks like I’m going to hurt you, I will stop. I’ll do my absolute best, but I can’t make any promises.”

Jimin’s hands left his own face to cup Jungkook’s instead. “Thank you.” It was a near whisper as Jimin brushed a curl back from his forehead. “Thank you, Jungkook-ah. And I meant to say this earlier, but please call me hyung.”

A soft smile curved Jungkook’s lips as he turned his face into one of Jimin’s hands. “I hope I can help you, hyung.”

There was no way to convey the emotions he was feeling with words, s0 he pushed them down the bond as best as he could. His connection with Jimin was weak, but the cherub must’ve gotten at least a vague impression because his expression softened and he patted Jungkook’s cheek. 

“I hope so too, little one.” 

A ring hand ran through Jungkook’s hair, catching on his curls just enough to tug them gently. It was so soothing that Jungkook couldn’t bring himself to move even when his legs started to ache from being balanced on his knees so long. He shifted slightly, sliding all of his weight sideways to sit on his thigh. His head fell onto Jimin’s knee and he just rested there, floating a little on the swing of emotions and unwilling to break the peace of the moment. He gazed into the fire and let his mind drift. 

Time passed unheaded as Jimin continued to pet his hair and Jungkook sat placidly at his feet. It crossed Jungkook’s mind a few times that this was a strange thing to be doing with someone who he was convinced disliked him mere minutes ago, but he pushed that thought away. 

It had taken an immense amount of trust for Jimin to come to him with this. He had chosen to speak with Jungkook over any of their hyungs and Taehyung, his own soulmate. He was going to commit his own mind to Jungkook’s care, putting his very sanity in Jungkook’s hands. The least Jungkook could do was show a little bit of vulnerability in return. 

On top of that, Jimin had told him a secret . He’d clearly waited until he knew their hyungs were gone, and didn’t plan to tell anyone else about this. That in itself was a big step in their relationship.

Eventually, Jungkook shifted slightly back onto his knees, dislodging Jimin’s hand to look up at him again. 

“Thank you for trusting me, hyung. I won’t tell anyone about this, I promise.”

“Oh Jungkookie, I know you won’t.” Something in Jimin’s tone made Jungkook frown a little bit. The Fifth bit his lip and fidgeted nervously with his own fingers. “I—I may have thought it was safe because I know your secret too.”

The wooden floor felt cold against Jungkook’s bare legs as he fell back onto his butt, his mind clouding in a far less pleasant way this time. “My— my secret?” 

“I saw what room you were coming out of, baby boy. The only interesting thing on that whole hall happens to be in that room, and I’m not stupid. I know what you were there for.”

Panic and a sense of near betrayal started to creep up in Jungkook’s throat. Jimin had only come to him because he had something over Jungkook as well. He didn’t trust Jungkook at all, just knew he could be manipulated into doing what Jimin wanted if he cared about his own privacy enough. 

He’d sat there and played Jungkook like a fiddle while Jungkook fell for it hook, line, and sinker.  

Pain sparked in Jungkook’s consciousness as his nails bit into his palms in a futile attempt to control the rising tide of hurt and sparking anger. 

Jimin reached out to him, apology all over his face, but Jungkook scooted away from him. This was the first time he’d felt personally wronged by Jimin. Everything Jimin had done before this was just out of frustration at having his home and life twisted around to suddenly include a new person. This was targeted and Jungkook needed a few seconds to process it. 

Then another voice sounded from the doorway and suddenly everything was so much worse

“And does that have anything to do with the fact that you were decidedly not human before this whole thing happened?”

Jungkook’s head snapped around so fast that he felt something pull, but he ignored it for the far more dastardly issue at hand. 

Taehyung was leaning against the doorway. 

Chapter Text

“I thought we were all in agreement that this would remain a secret for a while, but I guess we’re discussing it now.” 

“Tae!” Jimin’s wide eyed scrambling made Taehyung smirk slightly as he took in the scene in front of him. “How long have you been standing there!” 

Taehyung cocked an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, did you think you were having a private discussion in the middle of the living room ?”

A high, keening chirp of pain and fear interrupted any response Taehyung might have wanted to make, and Taehyung was suddenly very aware of the distress he could feel absolutely flooding their bond. He was halfway across the room before he had the time to consciously process the thought. His knees hit the ground in front of Jungkook hard enough to bruise, but Taehyung had no attention to spare for such a banal detail. 

“Hey, hey, hey,” he cooed, beginning to reach out. The flinch of Jungkook’s thin shoulders stopped him before he made contact. “Can I touch, baby boy?”

Another distressed and vaguely birdlike noise left Jungkook, but he also cocked his head to the side, considering. Taehyung sat back and folded his hands in his lap, clearly signifying that he would respect Jungkook’s choice. A few slow seconds of indecision dragged on as Jungkook glanced back and forth between Taehyung’s hands and his face. 

Finally, slowly, the baby gave a little nod. 

Despite how much Taehyung wanted to dive in immediately and scoop the upset nestling up, he moved just as carefully as Jungkook had, taking the fledgling’s hands and massaging them lightly. He didn’t crowd in, but waited until Jungkook himself inched every so slightly closer before opening his arms for a hug. 

Jungkook seemed briefly tempted, but then shook his head and remained where he was. Taehyung nodded as though he didn’t feel like he’d been stabbed in the heart. The refusal was understandable, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. 

“It’s ok, Jungkook-ah.” Jungkook’s hands shook finely in his, and Taehyung squeezed them delicately. “No one is going to do anything you don’t want or make you do anything you don’t want to. No one is telling any secrets. Jimin was just about to apologize.”

“Yes, I was, actually.” It wasn’t quite what Taehyung was expecting, but it didn’t surprise him overmuch either. Jimin was a good man with a kind heart. He didn’t intentionally hurt people. 

It was why Taehyung was so shocked by Jimin bringing up Jungkook’s parentage and using it against him. Jungkook’s past was his own to share, just as Jimin’s was his own to seek. It was low for Jimin to suggest that he would share something Jungkook wanted to keep secret, and very uncharacteristic as well. 

Jimin dropped down on the floor next to them, pullings anxiously at his sweater.

“I felt safe talking to you because I knew you have a secret too, Jungkookie, but I never meant to use that to manipulate you. I thought...I thought it would put us on equal grounds. I would know that you wouldn’t tell, but you would also know that I wouldn’t tell.”

Little wrinkles furrowed Jungkook’s forehead as he stared intently at Jimin. A tiny frown puckered his lips, and hesitation hovered behind his shuttered gaze. The bond between the three of them wasn’t very strong yet, but Taehyung could still feel the little one’s uncertainty. Not as clearly as he’d felt the betrayal before this, however. That had been devastating, even if it wasn’t aimed at him. 

How much worse it must’ve been for Jimin, was already on shaky terms with the baby and had just finally managed a bonding moment with him. The rings on Jimin’s fingers caught in his hair as he ran his hand through it. 

“I haven’t given you any reason to trust me, so I thought telling you something that I didn’t want anyone else to know would actually make you more comfortable. You knew I realized you were looking for nectar, and that forced you to just trust me not to tell anyone.”

Taehyung’s eyebrows went up before he could stop himself. Nectar? He really had not been thinking that Jungkook would need nectar. If the baby was descended from an immortal, his parents’ anger at his species would make no sense. Demigods were the only people who could and did interhite part of the family’s magical DNA. That wouldn’t make sense for Jungkook, who had clearly gotten a full inheritance of a creature type that his parents didn’t approve of. 

Or at least, that’s what Taehyung assumed. Jungkook was too good at magic for someone who had only been able to use it for a month and a half, especially since most of that time was spent imprisoned. More than that, Taehyung could put the clues together; Jungkook had snuck out to a lake at the first possible opportunity and his voice froze Taehyung in place when he got distressed during their last confrontation. He was well aware of what that added up to. 

Nectar didn’t fit in with that picture, however, and Taehyung was a little bit at a loss. There was no time for that at the moment, however, so he tucked the thought away to pull out later, when he had a quiet moment to really think

“Coming in, I intended to propose an exchange: your secret for mine and my help for yours.  But then I got all caught up in my own head, and it came out wrong, and I just—”

Jimin had learned better than to hurt himself when he was frustrated. He didn’t have any of the tiny habits of self-harm that Jungkook turned to when his emotions got too much: the lip biting, the hair pulling, the nails digging into Jungkook’s palms. 

His jaw was still clenched so tightly that Taehyung knew it had to be painful. 

The hurt and confusion in Jungkook’s expression smoothed out to be replaced by concern and a sad sort of understanding. He tugged one of his hands from Taehyung to run the back of his knuckles over Jimin’s cheekbone. Jimin closed his eyes at the wordless gesture of acceptance and commiseration. 

“I am sorry, Jungkook-ah. I didn’t come in with the intention of using your secret to manipulate you. I didn’t deserve your thanks for trusting you, and I went about trying to explain that very badly. Your secret has always been safe with me. I just wanted to give you some kind of security in that fact and hopefully give us the chance to help each other.” 

Jungkook reached out again, extending his arms to ask for a hug. The relief in Jimin’s entire bearing was palpable, but Taehyung wasn’t ready to let the matter drop entirely. This was all well and good, but Jimin was only apologizing for part of what he had done wrong. He waited a few moments to let both of his nestmates settle in and reassure each other physically before interrupting when Jungkook opened his mouth to speak. 

“You might not have meant to be manipulative in that respect, Jimin, but it wasn’t the only time in your talk that you exploited Jungkook.” 

They were such a tangle of limbs that Taehyung could barely tell when one started and the other ended at this point, and the identical looks of confusion on their faces didn’t help.

On Jimin, it was a marker of how unintentional his fault was and how heartful his words had been. Jimin had spoken candidly about his own experience and just hadn’t considered how that might affect Jungkook. It was a mistake, but one born of carelessness, not cruelty. 

On Jungkook, it made Taehyung angry and sad. If the baby didn’t see anything wrong with the way Jimin had coerced him into helping with the memory loss, that meant there was every chance people had done similar things before to force Jungkook into doing things he was uncomfortable with. Taehyung had always been a protective person, but the depth of that feeling towards the little one suddenly tripled. 

“We just talked this morning about how Jungkook’s body was altered without his consent. You didn’t stop to think about how he might feel when you brought up the issue of other people making decisions about your body?”

Jimin’s jaw dropped, and tears started in his eyes. The extreme level of self-recrimination suddenly flooding their bond took Taehyung’s breath away. He hadn’t been expecting that strong of a reaction. 

The cherub immediately attempted to disentangle himself from Jungkook, disgust pinching his features and horror pooling behind his eyes. Jungkook, for once, didn’t yield and let Jimin go. He was far from his full strength, but he wrapped his arms around the Fifth even more tightly and held him down when Jimin tried to catapult up. 

“Hyung—”

Jungkook didn’t have the strength to keep Jimin still for long, and they all knew it, but Jimin went stock still at the title. 

“I didn’t mean to!” The words burst out of him like he couldn’t control them. Jungkook’s grip on his waist held him upright, but Jimin’s whole body swayed and his chest heaved with emotion. “I didn’t say it because I thought it would make you help me, and I didn’t think about how you would feel to hear that, and I can’t believe I was so callous—”

“Hyung, I know.” A soft smile curved Jungkook’s lips. He brushed a strand of hair back from Jimin’s forehead. 

“I just got overwhelmed with how trapped I’ve been feeling all day, and I said what I felt, but I shouldn’t’ve done that after you shared so well this morning.” A sob caught in Jimin’s chest and cut off his self-reproach. 

“Hyung, I know .” Jungkook cupped Jimin’s face in both hands and rested his forehead against the cherub’s. “I know .” It was a whisper, barely audible between them. Their eyes met, and they shared a look that Taehyung wished would never cross their faces. Pain. Fear. Loss. Empathy. Forgiveness and neverending betrayal in a single breath. 

Something passed between them in that moment that Taehyung had no hope of understanding. He didn’t know that kind of pain. He’d never felt what it was like to have his body irrevocably altered without his consent. This was something Jimin and Jungkook shared that Taehyung ached with all his being to take from them.

“Sometimes,” Jungkook said, almost sighing in nostalgic pain, “it’s all just too much and it spills out before you even realize your mouth is open. I don’t blame you, hyung, and I wouldn’t have agreed to help you if I really didn’t want to. As much as I may understand your pain, I wouldn’t do something that I know I would regret.”

“You still agreed because of what I said.”

“I agreed because I want to do everything I can to help you, but also because you’re right. As the Seventh, my magic is specifically attuned to minds. As my parents’ child, it is more delicate and precise than most. If anyone has the ability to help you with memory loss, it’s me.”

“Your parents’ child…” Jimin frowned slightly, finally pulling away a bit. “Tae, you said—You weren’t human before you were changed?”

Taehyung’s breath caught in his chest. 

“I thought—Isn’t that what we were talking about this whole time? Jungkook’s secret?”

“No, I just knew that he was trying to get at Joon’s nectar.”

The curious tone in Jimin’s voice belied the rising horror in Taehyung’s chest. Here he was, scolding Jimin for overstepping and for threatening to tell Jungkook’s secrets, and yet he’d just spilled a much bigger and more important piece of information himself. 

He’d thought—He’d thought Jimin knew . What a small “secret” for them to fixate on. Jungkook could very easily play off his interest in the nectar as curiosity, or as excitement to discover what the house had to offer. That was basically nothing at all for Jimin to hold over Jungkook.

Taehyung had a true secret and he’d given it away without a second thought. How much more upset must Jungkook be with him ? Everything felt like it had been turned upside-down and Taehyung floundered to get his bearings emotionally. 

“Hyung.” The little one’s almost demanding tone broke Taehyung out of his thoughts. He reached out an insistent hand, still pinned under the weight of Jimin in his lap, but wanting Taehyung closer as well. 

Taehyung wasn’t like Jimin. He couldn’t refuse comfort offered to him just because he didn’t deserve it. He crawled over almost desperately and slotted himself up against Jungkook’s side, tucking his face into the baby’s shoulder. 

“I thought he knew . I agreed not to tell anyone, and this is something you need the time and space to be able to share for yourself. I never meant to tell.” 

“It’s ok, hyung.”

“It’s not .”

“You didn’t mean to. And besides, if I’m going to be keeping such a large secret for Jiminie-hyung, he should have something equally important from me. My interest in nectar is not all that compelling in the long run.”

“I literally just said that I wanted it to work that way, and now I hate that idea,” Jimin grumbled. “I’m sorry you’re now forced to trust me when all I’ve done is use your trust.”

“Well now, I’ve got a secret of yours too, don’t I?” A playful smile danced on Jungkook’s lips, but slipped away quickly as his expression sobered. “I’m not ready to talk about the details of my family life or my turning at this point. You are correct, Tae-hyung, that I wasn’t human before the change, and I already told you that my brother was a different creature than I am.”

Jimin jolted in shock, almost falling off Jungkook’s lap. 

“That would make a triple hybridization.” Fascination and concern flooded his voice. “That’s—Has that even been done before? Does anyone know how that could affect you?”

“I’m learning.” It was a grim statement and accompanied by a set jaw. 

That was unencouraging and vaguely ominous. Jimin and Taehyung exchanged a glance that Jungkook didn’t miss. 

“Oh don’t look like that.” He tapped Jimin’s hip and slapped Taehyung’s chest. It was the freest he’d ever been with them and Taehyung was incredibly endeared. “It’s just...logistics. Like dietary needs and the other physical and emotional needs my species have. I’m doing well, I just need to get a handle on everything.”

“I-I will tell our hyungs when I’m ready. I just—It’s only been a couple of weeks, and—”

“Hey, it’s ok,” Jimin soothed, chucking his chin lightly. “You’re right it’s only been a couple of weeks, and this is your body and your story. You’re the one who has the right to share whatever you need. I just hope you know that we’re here if you ever start to get overwhelmed or if you run into something you can’t handle yourself.”

Jungkook’s shoulders slumped. 

“Thank you, hyungs.” 

It was so heartfelt and relieved that Taehyung’s own chest ached. He wanted to solve all of Jungkook’s problems for him. He wanted to take Jungkook’s pain and make him comfortable in his own skin again. 

Unfortunately, he couldn’t do either of those things. 

He could spoil Jungkook. He could give Jungkook the finest things in life and do his best to make sure that nothing could ever hurt him again. He could shower him in love and attention until he was sick of it. 

But he also needed to respect Jungkook’s decision to bear his own cross for the time being. Taehyung was still a virtual stranger, and Jungkook needed time to be able to trust him. 

For now, all he could do was accept that Jungkook had shared more than he was ready to for today and move them away from the topic by bundling the three of them up on the couch under one giant blanket and starting the first true conversation they’d had. 

He didn’t push for personal details, and didn't ask Jungkook to speak about his emotions. They had done more than enough of that for a week at least. 

Instead, he told the story of the time his little brother managed to dye Taehyung’s hair pink. He talked about his love of art and bonded with Jungkook over their favorite animes. Jimin shared his passion for dance and the sense of fulfillment he felt when he created something for their shop. Jungkook shyly volunteered that he loved spellwork, the more complex the better, and that his own brother was not a fan of pranks either. 

They let the conversation wander naturally like they should’ve done from the beginning. 

But the weight of this afternoon’s breakdown lingered in the back of their minds. Jimin and Taehyung had promised not to tell anyone, and they would keep that promise. They would just be keeping a very close eye on the little one themselves. 

Chapter Text

For those of you who don't read my notes, WARNING: this chapter contains internalized blame for child abuse. 

 

Namjoon had been strictly instructed to keep a sharp eye on the babies during their shopping trip. After the terrifying spike of panic down their bond a few days ago while all four of the older members were gone, Jin wasn’t taking a single chance. He wouldn’t risk Jungkook being upset like that again while left alone with their maknaes. 

It didn’t help that none of the three of them would tell what had happened. Well, that wasn’t precisely true; Jimin and Taehyung both almost fell all over themselves claiming responsibility for upsetting Jungkook. Their wide eyes and sincere regret convinced everyone that they really had done something, but also that it was likely not entirely on purpose. The little one was having absolutely none of it. 

Jungkook claimed he’d fallen asleep and had a nightmare, and wouldn’t hear a word of Taehyung or Jimin trying to contradict that. The stern little look he gave them when they tried had them all so endeared that they backed down immediately. Perhaps the expression might’ve usually been classified as commanding, but on Jungkook, really managed was a precious little pout. 

It did get the point across, however, that he didn’t want Jimin and Taehyung in trouble for this. They were on their last warning with Jin, and for whatever reason, Jungkook didn’t want them punished. 

Taehyung looked ready to cry with frustration, and Jimin’s expression was oddly guarded, almost calculating. It was very clear that they’d done something they shouldn’t’ve and that they wanted to take responsibility for it. 

Usually, Jin might’ve pushed a little bit harder when two nestmates felt so guilty about something. Half of the reason they had punishments in the first place was because it helped them let go of their self-recrimination after they’d done something wrong. Jimin in particular held on to his guilt longer than was healthy if left to himself. 

In this case, however, the equally obvious change in the relationship between the three youngest stayed Jin’s hand. The four of them arrived home nearly frantic, slipping away from the crisis at the first opportunity despite the fact that they usually stayed until they were absolutely sure everything was settled. The sight that met them when they barreled through the door, Taehyung bouncing Jungkook teasingly on his lap, a strong arm locked around the little one’s waist to hold him still for Jimin to tickle, was absolutely not what they were expecting at all. 

Whatever had gone down between the three of them had finally gotten their relationship moving in the direction that they’d all be hoping for: towards becoming an actual relationship. The constant tension between them finally eased off and the maknaes actually started to get to know each other. 

Jin was absolutely not willing to mess with whatever balance they’d worked out between them, so Jungkook’s refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing went unchallenged. 

That didn’t mean it was forgotten. Despite the seeming lack of consequences, Jimin and Taehyung had lost their hyungs’ trust and they knew it. There was no discussion over the issue and it wasn’t overt, but they were all keeping a closer watch on the two younger ones. Someone was always home and ready to intervene if their relationship with the baby took a turn for the worst again. They were no longer so willing to believe that it had just been accidents that upset Jungkook before. Three times was a pattern, and all that. 

So far, things seemed to be going swimmingly. Whatever suspicion or animosity Jimin had harboured for Jungkook was suddenly gone, and Taehyung’s distant politeness turned into a far more comfortable companionship. The three of them seemed to be blooming. It was Namjoon’s job to make sure that continued during their shopping trip. 

To be fair, he was not alone in this endeavour. While Jin had been unable to accompany them on the trip this time, all the rest of the nest was present. Yoongi had disappeared near the beginning of the trip to get “supplies” otherwise unspecified. Namjoon didn’t ask. No such errand detained Hoseok, and he very happily bounced into the mall with them. 

Fantasia was always a bit of an experience, one Namjoon rarely found to be very pleasant. Yoongi sincerely agreed with him, but Hoseok and Taehyung were fascinated by it, and Jimin fell somewhere in between. 

Before his fall, Jimin had never liked the mall. Afterwards, it was the kind of place he should like, full of fascinating things for him to experience and new people to befriend, but there was always something restrained in Jimin’s bearing when they went to Fantasia. Very few of Jimin’s mannerisms had transferred after he lost his memory, and it struck Namjoon as odd that this was one of them. He couldn’t help but wonder if Jimin’s previous hatred of Fantasia had something more behind it. Jimin never had any trouble with other malls, after all. 

For that very reason, most of the nest tended to avoid the mall. Jimin wanted to enjoy their trips there but somehow never did, and they all picked up on that. In this case, however, it really was the best choice. They’d been needing to stock up on things for a while, and Jungkook had absolutely nothing to call his own. Fantasia was the most convenient place to accomplish all their goals at once. 

Their first stop was, unfortunately, a high end store for dress clothing. This was Namjoon’s least favorite kind of store, he hated the formal atmosphere and the sense that if you broke something, you were going to be broke, but they did have their uses. Jungkook needed something to wear to the upcoming ball, and it would be a good chance for them to spoil the other babies as well. 

As much as their recent behavior left something to be desired, Jimin and Taehyung had been thrown into this situation very unexpectedly, and lost a great deal of attention as their hyungs focused on the new baby for a little bit. All four of them had made sure to pull the maknaes aside over the last couple of weeks and spend time with them individually to reassure the nestlings. They were forming new relationships with Jungkook, but that didn’t mean they would neglect or forget their bond with Taehyung and Jimin. 

This was just another opportunity to remind their babies of that. It had been some time since they went to a ball, and it would be nice to drape their maknaes in jewels once more. 

Namjoon was quickly abandoned as they entered the store. Hoseok darted off eagerly towards the ties with Jimin, and Taehyung dragged Jungkook over to look at a ruffled dress shirt that had caught his attention. The task of enlisting a worker to take Jungkook’s measurements was left to Namjoon without a second thought. He shook his head fondly and eyed an emerald-encrusted watch as he made his way to the front of the store. 

By the time he found someone to help him and made his way back towards his nestmates, Taehyung had joined Jimin and Hoseok in squealing over a belt, and Jungkook was almost wistfully eying a beautifully crafted dress.

It almost reminded Namjoon of a nymph he’d known in his early life who had steadfastly rejected the role many had expected of a woman in those days. She had been secure in her own femininity, but also refused to let it define her. 

The world had come a long way since that time, and Namjoon could see now how such a dress suited Jungkook perfectly as well. Done in the traditional vampyric colors of black and red, but accented with silver in a way that was vaguely reminiscent of armour it would look stunning on the little one. The full, trailing skirt was a nod to conventional dresses, but the open shoulders and small top gave the illusion of freedom and daring. It was tasteful, but still eye-catching because of its extraordinary beauty. 

Namjoon had never considered that perhaps Jungkook may not favor traditionally masculine styles and chided himself for the oversight. It was an assumption he should’ve grown out of years ago. The longing twinkle in the baby’s eyes looking at this dress had him remapping their entire trip to include more gender-neutral and traditionally feminine brands. 

Sliding in next to the little one, Namjoon laid a hand on the back of Jungkook’s neck and admired the dress with him for a moment. The nestling flushed as though he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t and immediately looked away. A spark of anger and sadness flared in Namjoon’s chest. 

Much as society had progressed almost entirely past the ridiculous notion of gendered clothing, there were of course a few traditionalist hold-outs. Immortals were sometimes slow to change, and not everyone was ready to accept that there was absolutely nothing wrong with a man in a skirt. The baby had clearly been exposed to some of those more backwards thinkers. 

The map of stores to visit in Namjoon’s head was redrawn once more as he realized this was going to have to be handled more delicately than he’d originally thought. 

“It’s beautiful.” 

The little one hummed noncommittally and refused to look at the dress again. 

“Would you like a dress for the ball, my own delight?”

The muscles under Namjoon’s hand snapped taut, and Jungkook’s head whipped around. 

“Me? I don’t—I’m not—Dresses are not for me.” 

From another person, that may have been a round-about way of saying that he didn’t like them. Instead, it sounded stilted and practiced, as though Jungkook had been drilled into saying it. 

Namjoon didn’t press the issue. There would come a day when he would see Jungkook curled up on their couch in an oversized sweater tucked into a pretty skirt. Perhaps there would even be a day when the baby gained enough confidence to wear this kind of dress out in public to a ball. 

Today was not that day. Especially with so many other, more pressing, concerns, now was not the time to push Jungkook about anything. The little one’s confidence would grow as he settled in and became comfortable expressing his preferences. He could barely tell them what he wanted for breakfast at this point, putting pressure on him about his clothing choices was not needed or helpful. 

For now, Namjoon had presented the possibility, and it was important to show that he respected Jungkook’s decision as well. Whatever the fledgling wanted to do, Namjoon wanted to support him in that. 

“Oh well. It would’ve been stunning on you, but I tend not to favor dresses as well. Yoongi-hyung adores them. There was this one mint one that he had when his hair was the same color, and it was just the sweetest thing you ever saw. You’ve only seen him in home clothes, but when Hyung gets dressed up, he really gets dressed up.”

Just because Namjoon wasn't going to insist didn’t mean he couldn’t plant some seeds . Jungkook’s astonished eyes were wide as saucers by the time he was done, but the idea was now there for him to do with as he liked. 

“Let’s get you out of the chair to be fitted, then, if you think you can stand that long.”

The sales-associate, who had noticeably perked up at the prospect of selling the clearly highly expressive dress, wilted a little, but remained perfectly professional as he started with Jungkook’s fitting. 

The advent of Hoseok and Jimin with several millions of won’s worth of jewels closely followed by Taehyung with a new handbag certainly put a spring back into his step anyway. 

Jungkook, on the other hand, was already starting to look overwhelmed. His nervous gaze trailed over the small fortune’s worth of luxury goods they passed so casually between them, and he bit his lip when he glanced over at the base price of a suit. 

Namjoon caught his chin and tilted his head away before he could continue contemplating the price. An almost panicked look lingered in the back of his eyes, and his hands shook. 

“Would you like a break? My baby has been standing for awhile, and you’re still weak. Do you need to sit down?”

It was as good an excuse as any, but Jungkook shook his head, one hand coming up to curl in Namjoon’s sweater. 

“It’s so much.” It was barely a whisper, and Namjoon was sure no one else heard it. Well, perhaps the tailor, but he was professional enough to ignore it. 

“It’s nothing more than you deserve, and nothing more or less than I would happily give to any one of my nestmates. We have nothing but money, Jungkookie, and we like to spend it on spoiling each other.”

“But I’ve been with you for two weeks , and I’ve never even owned anything like this before. It’s all so much, and I just don’t know.”

Delicate fingers worried at Namjoon’s sweater, but he just nudged Jungkook’s chin and held it firm enough that the baby couldn’t look away. 

“I can assure you that you will have plenty of opportunities to wear it, and that the events we go to often have a dress-code. Unless you would like to stay home, which is perfectly fine with us and may actually be better while you’re recovering, you do need at least one good suit.”

“I don’t want to stay home all alone.” His fist clenched in Namjoon’s sleeve this time. It was the first time he’d voiced that concern, and a brief concern flicked in Namjoon’s chest. It was absolutely no issue to anyone if Jungkook didn’t want to be left all alone, but it did remind Namjoon that the baby had actually spent the better part of a month almost entirely alone, and that was bound to have had an effect on him. 

Aside from brief stints of personal time while the rest of the nest was otherwise occupied somewhere else in the house, Jungkook hadn’t been alone at all since Jin and Hoseok retrieved him from a basement where he’d probably been abandoned most of the time. It suddenly made sense to Namjoon why Jungkook rarely chose to sleep alone. 

“Of course, dear heart.” His steady tone belied the pain in his chest. “Hyung would be happy to stay home with you if you would like as well. There’s no need to rush into a social event after only a few weeks. Some of the nest should be present, given that this is technically a party in our honour, but not all of us need to be there.”

“You attend a lot of these sorts of events.”

There was something a little odd in the fledgling’s tone, more matter-of-fact, and less questioning than Namjoon would’ve expected from someone who’d probably only known vaguely of their nest two weeks ago. He shook off the thought; perhaps someone had already mentioned it to him. 

“Yes, and there will always be another one if you ever want to go, but you may always decide not to. It’s entirely your choice.”

Jungkook bit his lip again, but a bit of determination shone in his eyes. “I want to go. This is part of what your nest does. If I’m going to be a part of your nest, I should try the things your nest does.”

“Our nest does things they’re comfortable with. It just so happens that all of us at least tolerate social events like this, but that’s no reason to force yourself into it. We all have different things that we aren’t willing to do, and that’s part of why we work so well together.” 

“Well, I’ll never know if I don’t try.” The little one grinned at him, regaining a little bit of confidence.

“Alright, then you need a suit.”

“I need a suit.” Namjoon’s hand was finally dislodged from the baby’s chin by his firm nod. 

A proud smile spread across Namjoon’s own face and he returned the nod. 

The tailor was nearly done by this time anyway, component workers were part of what they were paying for with the exorbitant prices in this shop, and it was only a few minutes later that Namjoon was offering styling options to the fledgling. Most of Jungkook’s choices seemed to be made on an almost random basis, but Namjoon was still happy to go with whatever the little one pointed at. Jungkook had taste and the things caught his eye first generally caught them because they looked good. 

All in all, Namjoon counted this story as a success, no matter that they were now a good deal of money lighter. 

The rest of the trip went off fairly well too, thank goodness. Jimin and Taehyung were relentless in their zeal to get the baby new clothes. The two of them could be overwhelming, and there were a few times that Jungkook looked back towards Namjoon with an almost lost look in his eye. Taehyung was good about noticing that, however, and always managed to pull Jimin’s attention onto something else to give the little one time to collect his bearings. 

The pixie was subtle about it, and Namjoon almost thought it had escaped Jimin’s attention until they were near the end of their shopping trip. Jungkook was beginning to tire, but had actually turned to look at a rack of stomper boots without any prompting from the other two. 

It was one of the few times he’d expressed interest in something on his own, and Namjoon made a mental note to be sure he slid a few pairs into the magically expanded shopping bag he’d brought. They would go well with the thick socks he’d gotten for the baby’s poor cold feet. 

With the fledgling distracted, the other two nestlings had a few moments to whisper to each other. Namjoon was just close enough to hear them, and far enough that they probably thought he couldn’t. 

“—don’t get it.” Jimin shook his head, looking almost exasperated. “You know his parents were wealthy. Why does he look like he’s never been spoiled in his life? I thought he was going to faint when he saw the price tag on the blouse you picked for him in the last store.”

Namjoon carefully avoided showing his surprise. Jungkook’s parents were wealthy? When had Jimin and Taehyung learned that?

 A shadow crossed Taehyung’s expression and he hesitated. “Jungkookie’s parents are human, Jiminie.”

“Yes, and?”

His impatient tone made Taehyung shoot him a little look. “ And some humans do not understand the value of children, Jimin-ah. They aren’t like immortals. They can always have more, and Jungkook’s weren’t happy to have him.”

White hot fury blurred Namjoon’s vision. To make the decision to bring a child into the world and then decide that you didn’t want it after all was one of the most despicable things a person could do, in his eyes. Every child was owed love and a safe home. That Jungkook hadn’t had that even before this whole mess wasn’t particularly surprising, given that he hadn’t wanted to go home, but it was infuriating. 

“Not all families are kind to children they don’t want, and children are sometimes physically, mentally, and emotionally hurt.”

An utterly blank and completely dissociated expression suddenly shuttered Jimin’s face. He trembled so hard he almost shook off his feet, and his mouth seemed to move without his permission. “Sometimes, the children deserve it.”

Namjoon’s blood ran cold. They’d had their suspicions, back in the day, that there was more going on in Jimin’s home than he let on. There were comments about discipline that were just the slightest bit off, bruises that were dismissed without a second thought, dizzy spells from a few too many missed meals. 

Things that added up into a picture they had never wanted to see, and had never managed to bring entirely into focus. Jimin had always been cagey about his family and highly defensive of them if their behavior was questioned. It was a reaction formation that had only raised their worries. No one was that quick or overblown in their vehemence unless there was more to the story. 

As beautiful of a place as heaven may be, it also had very strict guidelines that Jimin had never quite been able to fall within. It was the kind of place where individuality was discouraged and harsh measures were sanctioned to bring wandering angles back into lines. 

If Jimin’s parents had decided he needed a little extra discipline, no one was likely to protest. The ends justified the means, after all. As long as Jimin ultimately met the standards of the community, his parents’ actions were even condoned. Like they’d done a difficult thing in order to bring up their son in the right way. 

It had taken them a long time to piece together a foggy picture of Jimin’s childhood that was nowhere near the fluffy clouds and bright light that heaven was known for. Jimin had a lot of ideas about what he did and didn’t deserve that the rest of them didn’t necessarily agree with. Or, you know, think about without blind rage. 

Jimin would never believe that a child deserved to be hurt. There was a time when he was more than willing to concede that he deserved to be hurt. 

Taehyung had none of that background information, however, and his tone was extremely disappointed as he said, “You don’t mean that.”

Jimin flinched, and snapped back into the situation. “No. No, I don’t mean that at all. Why would I—? I don’t think that, Taehyungie.” 

“Hey, shh, I know.” Taehyung gathered Jimin in a tight hug, rocking them a little as he tried to sooth the gathering horror and disgust that Jimin’s statement had raised in his own mind. 

Namjoon traded a look with Hoseok who was lingering behind the nestlings and had caught the whole conversation as well. This was not the first time in the last few days that Jimin’s behavior had reminded them a little too much of the old Jimin. It had been years since they’d so consistently seen flashes of who Jimin used to be, and it was worrying. They had no idea what was triggering it or where it  might lead. 

“I—I want to go home. I don’t want to be here any more.”

Jimin’s eyes flickered oddly, sharply aware of his surroundings (although filmed with tears) one moment, and distantly hazed the next. Jimin had never liked Fantasia. Namjoon had always wondered why. 

“I’ll take you home, sweet one.” Hoseok plastered himself along Jimin’s back, caging the cherub between two bigger bodies that he considered safe. “Joonie will just grab Jungkookie, and we’ll be on our way.”

Namjoon nodded immediately, turning back to where the baby was still looking at the shoes. 

Except—

Except there was no Jungkook there. 

Jin’s voice floated through his mind. “ Keep an eye on the babies for me, Joonie .” Well. Clearly Namjoon was doing a spectacular job. 

Chapter Text

Jungkook held on to his control of the bond by only the tips of his fingers, but also with a deathgrip. The very last thing he wanted was for any of his nest to meet Beomseok and Sangmi. Of all the people to run into by chance, these two were the ones Jungkook would’ve avoided at all costs. 

Even a glimpse of them had Jungkook shutting down the bond with his hyungs, simultaneously tuning his nestmates out so he could deal with the threat uninterrupted and hyperfocusing on them to make sure they hadn’t noticed anything amiss. Thankfully, they all seemed rather intent on Jimin. Jungkook noticed with some concern that the cherub was upset, but their hyungs clearly had it handled. There were more than enough people paying attention to Jimin and crowding him would probably only distress him more. . 

That left Jungkook free to carefully maneuver his chair out of sight for Beomseok and Sangmi. The move unfortunately put him in his hyungs’ blindspot as well, but it was a risk Jungkook was willing to take. Anything to remain unnoticed. 

The issue wasn’t just that Beomseok and Sangmi knew Jungkook from before his kidnapping. That would be bad enough in itself since there were a lot of things Jungkook wasn’t telling his hyungs, but it probably wouldn’t be enough for Jungkook to close the bond like this. Most people from Jungkook’s life before would probably recognize him with disinterest and leave him alone with only a disdainful glance. As unpopular as Jungkook was, people rarely went out of their way to make his life more difficult. 

Beomseok and Sangmi were the exceptions to that rule. The two of them had hated Jungkook at first sight and took every opportunity to inconvenience and even hurt Jungkook. A confrontation with his childhood bullies was not something Jungkook ever desired, and his weakened state made the idea even more unappealing. The memory of their last encounter burned like a warning fire in the back of his mind.

Jungkook was vulnerable and Beomseok, the more openly aggressive of the pair, would not hesitate to capitalize on that. The violence of their attacks on Jungkook tended to increase in subtle increments, and Jungkook didn’t want to know what he would do to try to surpass his last offense. 

His wings shivered at the very thought, straining restlessly against his magic and threatening to burst through his back. 

The trauma seemed faded and far away, but at the same time livid and terrifying in his memory. Essentially missing at least a month of his life and popping up in an entirely different world, far away from everything he’d known before, was confusing and disorienting. A sense of unreality hung over Jungkook’s past, like he’d been born in that basement and there was nothing before that but faded dreams. 

In a way, it was true. Jungkook had been re born when he changed, and there was little for him to return to in his old life. Jungkook wasn’t the same person he’d been before. 

And at the same time, he was. The drastically different parts of his life were severed and removed from each other, but Jungkook was still the same person. He was the link, the connection between two worlds that weren’t compatible, and he didn’t know how to bridge that gap. His life ended and began in that house. Stringing it together into one coherent whole felt impossible, especially since he was hiding the beginning of his life from the people in this new chapter of it. Burying his past and confronting it at the same time was an irony he couldn’t yet manage. 

The strange disconnect and detachment also made it difficult to process the things that had happened to him just before his whole life went to hell in a handbasket. Jungkook had never had the time as one trauma layered over another without break. It was ridiculous for him to still feel upset about what Beomseok had instigated after he’d been through so much more pain and suffering afterwards, but the horror lingered. 

Seeing the other sirens here was a shock Jungkook wasn’t at all prepared for. The juxtaposition of two parts of his life made his chest go cold with shock and his head feel strangely light. Jungkook had essentially “turned off” all the emotions in his head connected to before and now they all flooded back in a torrent that he couldn’t control or comprehend. 

The memory of Sangmi’s hands clenched in the feathers of his wings had faded to a nightmarish haze. Now it hung before his eyes, shutting out the real world in its vividness. 

Jungkook’s hands shook on the wheels of his chair so badly that he almost couldn’t move himself, but he was almost out of view. Just a few more inches. 

Then Sangmi turned. Their eyes met, and Jungkook knew the gig was up. 

Sangmi jabbed an elbow sharply into Beomseok, who immediately punched him back, but followed his pointing finger straight to Jungkook. A slow, incredibly self-satisfied smile spread across Beomseok’s face as he recognized Jungkook. 

Already far enough away from his hyungs that they couldn’t see him and may have difficulty hearing him even if he did decide he wanted help, Jungkook was caught. His grip around the wheels tightened reflexively, and then loosened again immediately. Trying to roll away wouldn’t help. A nauseous fear and frustration turned Jungkook’s stomach; he couldn’t even stand on his own feet for too long, and he was going to be forced to confront two people who had always taken advantage of any slight insecurity he showed. 

“Well, well, well, look who we have here.” Beomseok’s voice was low so as not to draw attention, but he approached Jungkook with a confident strut. He had no fear of being caught. He never had. At least he wasn’t making a scene this time. 

Everyone’s eyes glued to Jungkook, mouths gaping ghoulishly around cruel laughter. Fingers in his hair and on his wings. Pain, pain, pain.

Beomseok was suddenly in front of him, grabbing Jungkook’s chin in a cras mockery of the gentle reassurance Namjoon had given him earlier. 

“Are you enjoying this, chickadee? You’ve always loved the attention. No, don’t you give me that look; you know it’s true. Why else would you flare those wings out like that? A little cuckoo, flaunting that you’ve passed yourself off as one of us. Just want everyone else to look. Well we see you now.”

Ragged nails dug into Jungkook’s neck just under the hinge of his jaw. Beomseok was far enough down the evolutionary chain that he didn’t really have claws, but his nails were thicker than a human’s and he used them like talons anyway. They pressed harshly against the underside of Jungkook’s jaw until he looked up (so far up, why was he still sitting?) into Beomseok’s face. 

“A little songbird all by his lonesome.” The chair suddenly juddered as Sangmi grabbed the handles and jerked it sharply. The rubber wheels dragged across Jungkook’s fingers, and he hissed, pulling his hands back against his chest. Beomseok’s nails cut deeper and Jungkook wildly hoped they didn’t leave a mark. Jin would be furious

“Aw, but with clipped wings.” Beomseok cooed mockingly, nudging Jungkook’s chin further up. “Figuratively, at least. Have the literal ones healed yet? I imagine not completely.”

Dirt catching under Jungkook’s nails as he clawed at the earth, a slight pain that he didn’t even notice. Beomseok’s piercing eyes as he knelt in front of Jungkook, staring at him with a fascination and arrogance. Jungkook couldn’t look away even as someone behind him tore and he screamed

Another sharp jolt of the chair snapped Jungkook back into the present, but he couldn’t quite focus, too disoriented by the influx of emotions and memories. It felt like he was neither here nor there, trapped somewhere beyond the moment of the attack and below the reality of the present. 

A wheezed breath rasped between them, and for a second, Jungkook wondered vaguely how the gasp could be so loud when it felt like there wasn’t even enough air in his lungs to keep him alive. Then he realized that Beomseok’s shove had slammed the handles of the chair into Sangmi’s stomach. Jungkook wasn’t the only one suddenly short of air. Sangmi winced, but said nothing. Beomseok didn’t apologize, didn’t even acknowledge it. 

The show of weakness only lasted a moment before Sangmi straightened up again and tsked. “Wings are delicate, you know. All it takes is a few plucked feathers, and when you try to fly, you just—” The chair suddenly tipped forwards, and Jungkook gasped, scrabbling for the arm rests to keep from tumbling face first to the ground. “Fall.”

Weak arms straining to hold himself upright as his vision blurred with agony and tears. Maybe a bit of blood. Was he bleeding?

His palms slipped along the plastic and his arms shook. Sangmi held him there for a moment, precariously teetering on the front of the wheels. Then he dropped the handles. The impact of the chair falling back wasn’t nearly as hard as the one Jungkook would’ve had with the ground if he'd waited only a few seconds more. It still jarred him. 

“Shall we teach you a bit of a lesson on what happens to little fledglings that wander too far from their nest?” Beomseok leaned forwards, trusting his weight to the armrest and looming over Jungkook. 

“What nest? Like anyone would ever keep him.”

Except the jibe reminded Jungkook that he very much did have a nest to turn to now, and it would be as simple as opening up his mind to allow them in if he wanted help. The cove near his parent’s house where he’d been hurt was far away, and Jungkook no longer had to rely on just himself. This was their mistake. Jin would be very quick to disabuse them of the notion that they could harm Jungkook and get away with it if Jungkook only let him. 

Something stopped him. 

Part of it was that Jungkook didn’t want to have to explain the situation. He didn’t want to tell his nest how he knew Beomseok and Sangmi, and he didn’t want Taehyung and Jimin to have any more clues than they already did about his species. 

Jungkook knew the stigma that came with being a siren all too well. He had the power to strip someone of their free will with nothing more than a word, and that was terrifying for most people. They shunned and reviled him for something he couldn’t control, but Jungkook didn’t blame them. 

His rational mind insisted that his nest was unlikely to balk at his siren blood. A group that had already welcomed an incubus and was led by a vampire had little room to judge Jungkook purely on the merits of his species. 

That was the rational thought, though. A tiny voice in his mind would always insist that perhaps a siren was just one step too far. Perhaps they wouldn’t want him anymore once they knew. 

More than that, Jungkook abjectly refused to be pushed into telling his nest personal information by his childhood bullies. Jungkook would talk when he was ready, when he’d sorted out his own mind a little bit better and when he’d spent a little more time with the nest. He’d had quite enough of being forced by anyone to do things he wasn’t comfortable with. 

So he shut his mouth and his mind, allowing Sangmi to wheel him where he liked. 

People streamed almost magically around them, leaving plenty of space for the three of them to move, but also not glancing twice at them. Jungkook abruptly realized that it was magic; Beomseok was singing under his breath. 

That was another reason Jungkook would rather keep his nest away from this mess: Beomseok and Sangmi had the strongest voices out of anyone in the rest of the siren community near Jungkook’s home. They could bend people to their will with only a few notes and they weren’t afraid to do it. 

Neither of them measured anywhere close to the power Jungkook could so easily wield, and the strain of even just this small usage was clear on Beomseok’s face, but their ability when combined was nothing to play with. 

Siren song was a dying art and few of the sirens Jungkook met could so much as influence a person’s thoughts let alone their actions. It took skill as well as raw magical talent and a genetic predisposition. Since the ability was so highly frowned upon anyway, sirens typically didn’t bother to develop their song. 

Beomseok’s family was old, and he’d also inherited an older version of the siren gene that blessed him with a stronger inclination towards singing. Their library undoubtedly contained detailed instructions and training methods just as Jungkook’s family library did. 

Despite those advantages, his magic was somewhat weak and his genetics were not as ancient as Jungkook’s either. More than anything else, Beomseok relied on the key elements in the learning process: determination and motivation. Bending other people to your whim required a very strong will. Beomseok liked the power it gave him, and that made up for some of the natural gifts he lacked. 

Not all of them, however. There were just some gaps that couldn’t be filled, and it was difficult for him to actually force people with his song. Jungkook would need barely a breath to make people leave the three of them alone; three young men in a mall was a normal enough sight that people weren’t alarmed by it, and that made redirecting their attention easy. It wasn’t necessary to impose your own will when you could just encourage others to follow their own predilection. This should be an easy song. 

For Beomseok, it was a struggle. Short, sharp commands came more naturally to him, and this sustained song pushed the boundaries of his ability. Jungkook didn’t even know if Beomseok would be strong enough to play puppeteer with any member of his own nestmates, given that their age and magic strength precluded such an endeavour, but he wasn't willing to take that risk.  

There was still Sangmi, after all. 

Born from a newer and less endowed branch of his family bloodline, Sangmi relied entirely on his own willpower to make or break a song. He’d wheeled Beomseok into sharing his family’s lore in exchange for a keen lackey, but again was hampered by his own genetics. When they sang together, the two of them could sometimes overcome Jungkook. On his own, Sangmi appeared to be just a blunt weapon in Beomseok’s hand. 

Jungkook wasn’t fooled. The things he’d seen behind Sangmi’s shuttered gaze, the pleasure he got out of hurting people and the cunning it took to mask that under Beomseok’s louder sadism...Sangmi was the real threat. 

Beomseok was a childish bully, insecure in his envy for Jungkook’s intuitive talent and the wings he so heavily mocked. Beomseok knelt before Jungkook and held his face to watch the pain in his eyes, but he rarely bothered to hurt Jungkook himself. Beomseok had his limits. 

Sangmi would happily dance over those boundaries and run until he hit a barrier. Sangmi grabbed fistfulls of his feathers and laughed delightedly as he ripped them out of Jungkook’s wings. Sangmi got pleasure out of causing physical and mental anguish. 

No matter the strength of their songs, it was Sangmi who Jungkook wanted to protect his nest from. Jin’s nest was the most powerful in Korea, and Jungkook feared one young siren with mediocre magic. He would scoff at himself, if he wasn’t so afraid of underestimating Sangmi. That was a mistake he wouldn’t be making again. 

Too caught up in his own thoughts to pay much attention to where they were going, Jungkook snapped out of it when he felt fresh air on his face. They hadn’t been anywhere near any of the entrances, so where..?

Dawning horror chilled Jungkook’s chest and numbed his mind. The roof. They were on the roof. 

“Do you know how to teach fledglings how to fly?” All the strain was gone from Beomseok’s posture now, but his voice was a little hoarse. He effected a casual stride and strolled to the edge of the roof with his hands in his pockets. 

Heart in his throat, Jungkook tried to stand for the first time. Throwing himself from the chair would while it was rolling might hurt, but he couldn’t just let them push him around so literally. 

His ankle turned underneath him as he surged up, but Sangmi caught him before he could do more than get his feet under him. 

Sit .” 

Jungkook snarled. He point blank refused to be sung into submission. As if either of them could challenge him in magic or in determination on their own. 

But Beomseok’s hand closed on top of his wrist, trapping his arm to the armrest, and Sangmi’s hold on his shoulders was unyielding. Jungkook was weak right now. He couldn’t fight them off physically, and his magic had never been geared towards offense. Jungkook’s magic was intricate and powerful, but nurturing. It went against the very core of his nature to hurt someone. 

That didn’t mean it was impossible, however. Jungkook could and would lash out if he had to. He just needed time to build the power and plan the attack. 

So every muscle in his body locked with tension, but Jungkook didn’t move. 

“Now, now,” Beomseok chided. “We’re trying to help you, sparrow. Sometimes leaving the nest is hard, and you just need a little push .” 

Sangmi lifted the handles again, tilting Jungkook forwards a second time. His laugh at Jungkook’s involuntary gasp rang through the air as he dropped them and wheeled Jungkook closer to the edge.

Jungkook hadn’t been so high up since...since before his wings were damaged. Fantasia was a massive mall, at least seven stories, and Jungkook had never appreciated how tall that made it. Why would he when he could travel up as easily as forwards?

But now he couldn’t and the space suddenly loomed before him, far more terrifying than ever before. 

“Won’t you pull out those pretty wings for us?” A shudder followed Sangmi’s hand as he ran it down Jungkook’s spine. 

He shook his head frantically, hanging onto the armrest with white knuckles as Sangmi butted the wheels up against the low barrier around the edge of the roof. It only came up to waist height. They could easily tip Jungkook over it with just the slightest move. 

“Or perhaps they’re not so pretty right now. How long does it take for plucked feathers to grow back?” 

Too long. Years, sometimes, until they were fully functional again. The scarce two months since the incident—

“—shouldn’t have these anyway.” 

“Hold him tighter, I can’t get a good grip.”

So many hands all over his wings, snatching greedily at whatever they touched. Sensitive skin pinched mercilessly and shafts broken heedlessly. 

They wouldn’t go out of their way to hurt him, but most sirens at home were happy to join in when given the opportunity. The whole blitz had lasted maybe five minutes. If Jungkook’s wings fully recovered, especially after the neglect they suffered while he was imprisoned, he would be very lucky. 

That fear lurked furtively but relentlessly at the back of Jungkook’s mind. He may never be able to use his wings again. A yawning depth of loss and anguish opened in his stomach. 

He channeled it towards offensive magic, pulling strength from his weakness. 

“Aw, shy to show how far you’ve fallen?” Beomseok stooped to lean across Jungkook’s bond, once again branching himself against the arm. 

“You could always fall further .” The chair tipped again, and Jungkook’s sweaty palms slid against the plastic again. He slipped forwards a bit, letting out a panicked, terrified note that would usually put a halt to absolutely everything around him. Too much of his magic was tied up in preparing for an attack and he couldn’t redirect it to his voice so quickly.

Worse, that immediately drained the power he’d been building up. It left him completely helpless and at the mercy of two men who could kill him with the slightest wrong move. 

Mocking laughter rang across the roof at Jungkook’s failed attempt to sing, but Beomseok’s arm across his chest caught him long enough that he could latch on to the chair again. It wasn’t enough. There was nowhere for him to hold that he felt secure. 

Sangmi lifted the handles even higher, Beomseok bent his elbow to let him fall a mere inch further, and that was it. An inch past Jungkook’s tolerance. 

He opened up the bond wide, and screamed for his hyungs. 

Chapter Text

To say that Jin was concerned may perhaps be a bit of an understatement. Jin was, if he was completely honest, terrified. 

Bad enough that Fantasia was an enormous and unpredictable place, bad enough that it had triggered some kind of panic in Jimin, but for Jungkook to go completely missing and close off their bond? Heads were going to roll. 

People almost threw themselves out of Jin’s way when they saw him coming, but he paid them no mind. All his energy focused on scanning the crowds as quickly as possible for any trace of his fledgling 

While he might not be able to sense Jungkook’s location through the bond right now (which he was going to be having words with the little one about), the baby’s magic had a very distinct feel to it. Jin needed nothing more than to enter any given area to ascertain whether or not Jungkook was present. It was the fastest way to search large places with so many people and move on without delay. 

Forcing his own magic open like this wasn’t comfortable by any means, however. In fact, it made him vaguely nauseous. Jin had essentially torn down the natural barrier around his core, and that existed for a reason. 

Without it, he felt flayed open and vulnerable. Each bit of magic he passed rubbed up against his own, caressing the deepest parts of Jin like an unsolicited embrace. Jin’s magic was strong and naturally attractive to the cores of the people around him for the power, protection, and guidance he offered. The same could not be said in return. 

No one but his nestmates should touch his magic so intimately. 

Expediency was paramount in this situation, and Jin had no time to be squeamish about it. He was fairly confident that Jungkook wouldn’t just up and vanish of his own accord, especially after their last talk, and that meant something had happened. 

A distant part of Jin was extremely frustrated. Every time he left the baby, even if it was just with one of his nestmates, something seemed to happen. From arguments with the other nestlings to straight up disappearing , something always went wrong when Jin was out of shouting distance. It was growing old very quickly. 

Not that Jin blamed anyone in particular for this unfortunate pattern. It was natural for Jimin and Tae to need a little more time to get used to a new person, and their behavior had never been malicious. Accidental insults and some small arguments were normal when people moved in with each other, especially if they hadn’t known each other beforehand. Two weeks was a very short time to adjust, and it wasn’t unexpected that there would be a few bumps in the road either. 

It also wasn’t Jungkook’s fault that he got into some kind of trouble every time Jin wasn’t attentive enough. The little one wasn’t responsible for Jimin and Taehyung’s attitudes, and there was no reason why he shouldn’t explore his own home. Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest idea to wander the woods and lake alone when he was so weak, but Jin couldn’t censure the baby for wanting to get out of the house for a bit. Jungkook didn’t purposely worry Jin without cause. Jin was sure the baby would have some equally valid reason for going out of contact this time. 

Knowing that it was no one’s fault didn’t help Jin. It only frustrated him further because that made it impossible to prepare for whatever new disaster was about to strike. There was no enemy for Jin to fight, and no one person that he could gently correct to make this stop. Most of it was due to pure circumstance and stepping over personal boundaries that they didn’t know each other well enough to even realize were there.  

And besides, there was the issue that Jin was sure his baby had a valid reason for vanishing. Jungkook wasn’t the type of person to need to test his boundaries like Jimin and Namjoon. He wouldn’t close the bond and go missing just because he could. 

Jin didn’t know what would cause the little one to cut them out so completely, and that scared him. It could be as relatively benign as Jungkook being upset by overhearing Jimin or as lethal as a second kidnapper that Jin had missed in his disposal of Reginald. Jin didn’t know Jungkook well enough to predict what level of danger he was dealing with. 

But surely the baby wouldn’t purposely close the bond if he was actually in danger. Surely his deliberate choice to isolate himself meant he had gone of his own free will. 

No one could force Jungkook to close the bond, after all. Not by any means Jin was aware of. 

The lab, clearly set up for magical experiments, flashed before his mind’s eye. Their bond had been weak at that time, before Jin accepted Jungkook as his childe. Was it possible that Reginald had found a way to block it off? Jin had never sired another vampire and he didn’t know how strong that bond was supposed to be. It was possible that Reginald had discovered a way to manipulate that bond and left that trick with another when he died. 

Jin just didn’t know . There were too many things that he didn’t know

It left him obsessively checking the rest of his nestmates, making sure the bond was still open and he could find them immediately. Keeping track so he could tell the instant their bond fluctuated. 

The connection to Jimin rang at a nearly hysterical frequency. Fantasia had always set the cherub on edge, no matter how much he insisted he loved it. Something about this particular situation hit closer to home than normal, and all of them were slightly distracted with worry for the Fifth as well. 

Jimin almost seemed to be remembering. 

The very thought filled Jin was a very fragile hope, but also cold terror. Heaven’s curse was unpredictable, and the human mind further so. If Jimin truly started to remember, it might well be a pyrrhic victory: a few seconds of understanding before his entire past was wiped clean for a second time. 

They had already lost Jimin once. It might break them to do it a second time. The pain wouldn’t stop them from loving a third iteration of Jimin, but there would be terrible pain. The impact on Taehyung, who had never had to go through this the first time around and was bonded so closely to Jimin, would be devastating, to say nothing about the rest of the nest. 

A large part of Jin wanted to send the cherub home, away from the triggering memories and the possible danger of a second kidnapper. It would be stupid of him even to suggest it. The fierce determination and budding wrath Jin could feel in Jimin would not be constrained to sit at home. 

With Jimin staying, there was no chance Taehyung would go either, so Jin reluctantly let the two of them go with a stern warning not to get separated. Nestlings though they were, Jimin and Taehyung were not to be underestimated, especially when they were together, and Jin was fairly sure they would be safe with each other. 

That didn’t stop a small part of his mind from fixating on them to the exclusion of all else. They didn’t take their nestlings into dangerous situations. All four of the oldest couldn’t help but focus at least part of their attention on their babies. 

Still, Jimin and Taehyung’s help allowed all of them to split up, each taking a different floor as they branched out from the place where Jungkook had last been. Fantasia was massive, and they could use all the aid they could get. It was taking too long to find Jungkook. 

The entire nest was aware that the first few hours were critical when someone went missing, and their speed and ever growing anxiety reflected that. 

If people jumped out of Jin’s way when they saw him practically glowing with magical energy, they scampered out of Yoongi’s path and fled from Hoseok. The two of them were the least subtle in their search and least concerned with holding a completely human form. Which was saying something when an entire Kim Namjoon roamed the halls, resplendent in his godly aura and fiercely determined in his self-recrimination for looking away for one second

Fire sparked at Yoongi’s fingertips, and his wings flexed restlessly, arching up in a way that was usually impossible indoors to reveal the full glory of his plumage. His eyes flashed gold and his steps charred ash against the tile floor. Bonghwang were generally highly regarded as creatures of light, luck, and life, but no one wanted to confront an angry bonghwang. Demons run when a good man goes to war, after all. 

Demons, that is, who were not bonded to the good man. Hoseok’s unrepentant shift to a full demon form was perhaps the only thing that could alarm people more than Yoongi’s ire. Incubi were feared rather than respected. Hoseok’s gleaming horns and dark claws sent most people running from his path. Those that hesitated even a second quickly followed at the sight of his red eyes or his forked tongue snaking out to smell whether Jungkook had been in the area. He was rather careless with his huge, bat-like red wings, and a few people had to duck out of the way to avoid the thorny points on the lower tips. It conveniently cleared hallways very quickly and let Hoseok search faster than the rest of them. 

A sense of growing fear and urgency thumbed through not only their bond, but the entire mall. Jin’s nest was not known for unnecessary hysteria. When they lost control like this, it was for a good reason, and most people would best get away while they could. Floors practically emptied as they moved through them and people realized danger might be afoot. There was no mass panic or stampede, but the noticeable decrease in shoppers made it easier to search. 

For once, Jin was fairly sure that even Fantasia was working with them. As a sentient magical building, the mall was aware of what happened within its walls, and tended to have a fairly playful personality. A result of generations of teenagers pursuing its wares, no doubt. It could be difficult to navigate and sometimes expanded at will to create whole corridors of empty shops with no purpose other than to confuse people. 

Now the halls were noticeably shorter, and a few of them closed off when Jin approached. It was probably beyond the mall’s capabilities to guide him straight towards Jungkook, given that it would take closing down every other hall regardless of the people trapped there, but Fantasia did its best to shorten their hunt. 

Still, the building was massive and there was no guarantee that Jungkook was still within it. A sickening panic screamed at the back of Jin’s mind, but he couldn’t pay attention to that. He had to stay focused and just pray—

Hoseok caught a scent, anticipation and relief spiraling along the bond as he was able to follow it. Jin teleported immediately to his location, falling in step with his Third in a practiced formation that expanded to accommodate Yoongi and Namjoon only a half second later. Jimin and Taehyung were slower, unable to teleport but only a few minutes behind. 

For the first time, real hope bloomed in Jin’s chest when Hoseok didn’t get the scent of sickness blood drugs but only anxiety. The lingering magic in the air was less encouraging, but Jin was confident that they could fight magic. There was almost nothing that could overcome all four of them together, let alone when Jimin and Taehyung added their strength as well. 

A noticeably calmer and more focused mood settled over the nest, still worried and tense but now assured that no physical harm had come upon their baby and that they had the beginnings of a trail. Jin allowed himself to fantasize that Jungkook really had just been hurt by Jimin’s words and decided he needed some time alone. They would need to have a talk about that, but it was really the best case scenar—

Pain screamed through the air and Jin’s body as he hit the ground, stunned by the unexpected influx of emotion, sound, thought . Except it couldn’t have come through the air because it was so loud and what—?

Before his mind even caught up to the situation, Jin transported again. There was no time for his own pain or confusion when his childe was shrieking like that. 

Fresh air hit Jin’s face, and he stared around wildly, utterly disoriented, at the blue sky, the concrete beneath his feet, the edge of the building mere inches away

His fledgling clinging desperately to the arms of his wheelchair as it teetered on the edge at a terrifying angle. 

Hoseok was faster than Jin. By the time Jin understood what was going on enough to act, Hoseok already had a hand on each of the two strangers. His pupils bleed a sickly, glowing crimson that only appeared when he overfed. The shock made both of them jostle, the one behind Jungkook jerked forwards slightly, and the one crouching over him went loose. 

Except that also meant Jungkook was only held up by his own strength, and the baby’s eyes met Jin’s just as his palms slid against the plastic…

Jin threw himself forwards, already nauseated at the knowledge that he was going to be too late . His hands closed around empty air mere centimeters from his treasure as Jungkook slipped over the edge. 

There was no scream this time. Pure, blind terror in all of their minds, but not a single cry. Resignation and apology echoed lowly beneath that, and Jin wondered vaguely how everything could be so silent and loud at the same time. 

Who was yelling in the bond right now? Not Jungkook. Was it Jin? 

There was a blur at the edge of Jin’s vision, and then a figure before his eyes. Yoongi. Wings tucked tight into his body to streamline the fall, diving after Jungkook. It took only seconds for the bonghwang to lock one arm around Jungkook’s waist and the other around his chest, but they were some of the longest seconds of Jin’s life. 

Jin didn’t need to breathe, but it felt like he couldn’t get enough air as Yoongi eased them out of the drop as gently as possible to avoid jostling the little one’s already frail body. Confusion, panic, terror, relief, gratitude all rolled themselves together in their bond into such an overwhelming knot of emotion that Jin’s head spun. It only tangled further when Jin tried to follow any one thread of thought, trapping him in a numb limbo where nothing made sense. 

Yoongi very carefully shifted the fledgling into a bridal hold and flew them back up to the roof. The second his feet touched solid ground, the burning pulse of absolute rage and relief incinerated the knot altogether and sent Jin’s mind careening into overdrive. 

Before he even registered that he’d moved, his hands were around Jungkook’s face, brushing back curls tangled by the wind and wiping away the few tears that trailed heedlessly from wide eyes. He almost knocked heads with Yoongi when the bonghwang dipped to press several desperate kisses against Jungkook’s hair and face, but it only made him crowd all the closer. Hoseok’s too-hot fingers wrapped around the baby’s wrist and trailed over whatever part he could reach when Jungkook was so cocooned by Jin and Yoongi. 

For eternity or mere moments, they stood there and held Jungkook as the realization of how close they’d come to losing him entirely struck each of them. 

“Where are they?” The unaccustomed growl in Namjoon’s voice brought Jin back into the moment. 

They’d all forgotten that they weren’t alone. The two men who had thought to take Jin’s fledgling and could’ve killed him should be right there

Jin turned, eyes bleeding silver as his power expanded across the roof in search of the animals that had touched his baby. Namjoon was no better. The pulsing glow of his aura was barely controlled and made it impossible to look at him.

The roof was empty, except for them. There was no trace of the perpetrators. 

“Fantasia used to be the tallest building in the world.” Jin whirled around at Jimin’s voice. The cherub leaned both hands on the short barrier and peered down, down, down . His tone and eyes were distant. Taehyung hovered a few feet away, close enough to remind Jimin that he wasn’t alone and far enough to give him space. 

“People used to come up here for flying lessons. Mostly humans who didn’t know any better, but every now and then there was an immortal who decided their children just needed a little... shove to get their wings flapping.”

Jimin’s wings quivered against his back, too small to hold his weight but spread to their max as though ready to try. 

A terrible, building understanding lapped at the back of Jin’s mind. Jimin had wings. Jimin hated Fantasia. 

“Eventually, the mall became sentient and developed a system for dealing with a fall from the roof. Catch the fledgling, and hold the one who pushed them.”

“Not good enough,” Namjoon snarled. “They can’t get away with nearly murdering someone like it’s nothing.”

Jungkook huddled in closer to Yoongi, clutching desperately at his sweater as though he’d just realized how close he’d come to death. Shock made his eyes glassy and his side of the bond was quiet again. Not closed this time. Just glazed over with trauma. 

“They haven’t.” Hoseok flexed his fingers, deliberately drawing back his claws. His horns faded away as well, but his wings remained. As did the pulsing red of his eyes. That would take longer to fade as Hoseok worked through all the energy he’d absorbed. 

An oily, disgusted nausea roiled through Hoseok’s magic and pinched his features slightly, but he made a visible effort to reign himself in. 

“Children are important to immortals and I doubt they’ll be pleased to find they’ll never have any.”

When an incubus drained someone completely dry, there was not a single shred of sexual or reproductive ability left. And there was no reversing that. 

It was far from an ideal way for Hoseok to feed. Pulling sexual energy out by force was like eating spoiled food for a human, especially if the energy was taken with the purpose of harm. Hoseok had gotten to the attackers first and he would gladly deal with the days of sickness coming his way from feeding improperly. 

This type of feeding was usually illegal, but an assault on a nestling could be answered in whatever way a nest saw fit, and no one would dare to challenge Jin’s nest. They all knew he would level not only them, but their entire family line and do it happily. 

“Besides, it’s not like they’ve been let go.” Jimin finally turned away from the ledge. “I imagine you’ll find them in front of the Court of Magic at this moment.”

A hush fell over them. The Court of Magic was nothing to trivialize. Rarely evoked due to its rather archaic justice, the Court of Magic ruled without discrimination or bias by presenting the case before magic itself. Its decisions were final and could not be overruled. 

The knowledge settled over all of them with satisfaction, except for a tiny spark of pity and a little gasp from Jungkook. The numbness started to fade from the baby’s portion of the bond, replaced by pain, fear, and a lingering disbelief. Tremors shook his entire body and tears started to his eyes. 

All thought of anything else immediately disappeared as they crowded around the little one. They had a fledgling who needed all of their attention. Anything else would have to wait. 

Chapter Text

Hoseok groaned dramatically as he flopped face-first onto the bed next to Jungkook. The rather exaggerated entrance startled the fledgling, but while his head whipped around, Jungkook didn’t flinch. Hoseok took this as a good sign, given how jumpy the baby had been the last few days, and continued to try to suffocate himself in the bed. 

Jungkook’s near plummet to death had understandably taken its toll on their entire nest. Immortal they might be, but they weren’t undying and it had been a very long time since anything reminded them of that. The risk of losing someone bonded to them so intimately drove home a few realities. 

They weren’t all-powerful. 

They didn’t know enough about Jungkook to be able to anticipate possible dangers. 

They could all die just so fast. 

The incident threw into painful relief how little Jungkook actually talked about his past. He’d known the people who abducted him. That became obvious in the first few minutes after they teleported him, when Jungkook clung to Yoongi with white knuckles and stuttered that they were just bullies

Bullies. They’d thrown Jungkook off a roof .

Jungkook didn’t have to be coaxed to spill his side of the story. It flooded out of him like a tsunami that had been building under the pressure of his antagonists for years . Between latent sobs and shocked stammering, the baby explained that there was a siren community near his childhood home, and that he’d known Beomseok and Sangmi for years. Seeing them so unexpectedly sent him into a panicked lockdown during which he blocked himself off from the bond, and Jungkook had been too afraid that they wouldn’t be able to resist a song to open it back up. 

The thought was ludicrous. Jin was the most powerful hypnotist in Korea, if not the world. The talent came easier to vampires, and it meant that Jin was all but immune to any type of mental meddling himself. Since his mind was bonded with the others, that extended to a lesser degree to each of them as well. The force of will that would be necessary to sway any one of them was astronomical, and two moderately gifted sirens had no chance. 

Jin’s voice was tight as he explained this, frustrated by the situation, his own helplessness, and even the rest of the nest. They’d all vowed to keep a close watch on Jin’s childe. Jungkook had promised last time he wandered off that he would let them know when he was going somewhere. 

Jin of course didn’t blame anyone but Sangmi and Bomseok, but that didn’t stop him from being aggravated by the circumstances and slightly displeased with his nest’s behavior. 

There were five of them; someone should’ve had an eye on the fledgling, especially since this was his first time in such a crowded place after being kidnapped. Anything could’ve happened, and it was irresponsible of them to so completely shut him out that they didn’t even notice he had closed the bond. Jungkook’s magic was subtle, but they still would’ve felt it if they’d been paying close attention. 

Jungkook may have been trying to protect them, but they were all a bit frustrated that his immediate instinct was to shut them all out rather than share information openly. Communication was vital in their relationship, and Jin had already stressed that to Jungkook. 

Besides that, Jungkook’s concerns weren’t entirely logical either. There were four of them immediately present at the mall and a fifth far enough away that he wouldn’t have been affected by the song. The terror and panic they’d gone through upon finding the little one missing was so needless and could’ve been easily avoided. 

That being said, Jungkook was clearly not used to having anyone to rely on when it came to this kind of situation. The baby had reacted in the way he usually would to an attack of this sort by dealing with it himself to the best of his ability. That was an instinct that would take time and careful love to prune out, and it wouldn’t be fair of them to expect Jungkook to make the shift in thought immediately. They weren’t so much upset at him, but at the very fact that he’d been conditioned to think this way in the first place. 

It made Hoseok’s chest ache and burn with sorrow and rage, but it also explained a lot. Some of the nuances of the little one’s behavior that had puzzled them before (the negative reaction he had to any sort of conflict, how he accepted Jimin’s initially less-than-welcoming attitude like it was his due, perhaps even the way he protected his food) suddenly made a lot more sense now that they knew Jungkook had been routinely abused by at least two members of his own community throughout his childhood. 

They’d stupidly assumed that all of Jungkook’s trauma came from his time with Reginald. There was a whole lifetime of other influences that they’d forgotten to consider. 

That realization on top of nearly losing Jungkook sent them all into a bit of an overdrive around the baby. 

It took Yoongi almost three hours to even put the little one down once they got home. Like Hoseok, he knew what it was like to live as an outsider in a close-knit society. That meant he also knew how to make the fledgling more comfortable in small, subtle ways that most people wouldn’t even think of, and Yoongi took full advantage of his own past trauma to reassure the baby. 

Yoongi’s main objective was to make Jungkook feel welcome, and he did that in every way possible, verbally, magically, and physically. It was Yoongi who unpacked the things they’d gotten from the mall, placing each item painstakingly in the most convenient place or exactly where Jungkook wanted it. Yoongi made sure Jungkook’s room was Jungkook’s rather than just one he was using in a stranger’s house. 

Jimin and Taehyung “helped” by adding in things Jungkook had grown fond of from the rest of the house as well. Hoseok hadn’t even noticed that the baby was showing a fondness for certain objects until he saw one of his own glittery belts in with the mass of relocated items and realized Jungkook had already borrowed it three times. 

The entire thing overwhelmed Hoseok with unrestrained softness. Jungkook developing a liking for some of their things was encouraging because it was a sign that he was slowly becoming more comfortable with them. On top of that, the older nestlings had clearly been paying close attention to Jungkook as more than just a threat if they knew such small details about his preferences.

In fact, whatever animosity used to exist between the youngest three was obliterated and had somehow fostered a closer bond between them than that between Jungkook and the older four. Hoseok wouldn’t say that the baby liked them better, he just trusted them more at this point. Jimin and Taehyung knew things about Jungkook that the rest of them hadn’t yet been told. They’d somehow won his confidence, and Hoseok looked forward to the day that he could do the same. 

The new closeness between the three of them in combination with the attack also brought with it a depth of protectiveness and acrimony towards Beomseok and Sangmi that the rest of the nest hadn’t quite been prepared for. 

An anger that Hoseok wasn’t familiar with lingered in Taehyung. His steady calmness was such a large facet of his personality that Hoseok couldn’t remember the last time he’d really seen the Sixth aggravated. Now the sour ire from Taehyung’s side of the bond sat bitterly at the back of Hoseok’s throat and so thickly that he sometimes felt he could gag from it. All of them were at a loss when faced with this unrelenting rage from their usually affable sweetheart. 

Jimin, on the contrary, was coldly vengeful. Anger would’ve been more comforting. Hoseok knew what to do with Jimin’s anger. This kind of silky, but lethal determination to protect and avenge was different. 

It was more frightening. A resolute Jimin was a dangerous thing to play with, and none of them had ever figured out how to sway him once he set his mind on something. 

The two nestlings thankfully put most of their energy into caring for Jungkook and the rest of the nest, but the negative emotions they didn’t have the ability to control seeped steadily through the bond, edging on Jin’s anxiety and Namjoon’s guilt. 

 Still upset with himself for losing sight of the nestling in the first place, Namjoon had been extremely attentive and solicitous in the past few days. Anything that Jungkook wanted or needed, Namjoon had it, sometimes even anticipating it beforehand. 

A tiny part of his attention was focused constantly on Jungkook to the point where Namjoon would also wake if Jungkook had nightmares. He was careful to give Jungkook his space and not intrude on his privacy, but Namjoon made sure he knew what was going on with the little one at all times. 

Namjoon’s restraint was admirable because Jin was absolutely clingy, sticking to his childe like Jungkook would be snatched the moment his attention wavered. To be fair, the fledgling had disappeared twice within the last two weeks, and been kidnapped just as frequently in the last two months. 

Things just seemed to go wrong when Jin wasn’t immediately on hand, and the First wasn’t so willing to let that stand as a coincidence any longer. Logically, Jin knew that recent events were an amalgamation of normal growing pains within their nest and unpredictable, deliberate attacks far outside of his own control, but the thought lingered that perhaps he could’ve prevented it if he had been there.

Jin’s reluctance to leave the baby, however understandable it may be, was fast becoming an issue. It was logistically impractical, for one thing. More importantly, it interfered with Jin’s responsibilities to the broader magical community. 

People came asking for help multiple times a week, and it was generally rare for Jin to turn them down. His sudden absence from the community was felt, and people wanted answers. They’d been keeping Jungkook under wraps so far, wanting to let the little one settle in before introducing him as part of their nest to the rather nosy and close knit immortal high society, but that meant Jin had no excuse for why he was suddenly “busy” all the time. People were starting to ask questions. 

Besides, Jungkook wasn’t the type of person to enjoy being surrounded all the time. While Jin didn’t insist on remaining physically at his childe’s side, he was always close enough to be summoned by a shout and he popped his head in at least once an hour to check in on the nestling. 

An introvert by nature, Jungkook liked to have at least a little bit of time to himself every day, and Jin’s need for reassurance would eventually get irritating to him. His month-long isolation probably hadn’t helped that tendency; the baby was no longer used to having people around him, and could get overwhelmed with their somewhat rowdy nest. 

Being kidnapped for the second time had also predictably set the fledgling back in recovering both mentally and physically. The tiny flinches their little one gave when he was taken by surprise the last few days were a new and unwelcome addition. Jungkook had been lethargic and absent the last few days, present physically but somewhere else mentally. He seemed to waver between past and present. 

That was only exasperated by his physical condition. As gentle as Yoongi had tried to be when scooping Jungkook out of midair, there was only so much one could do to mitigate the effect of cutting off their velocity so quickly. It was still a sharp stop that shocked through the baby’s entire body. Whiplash was inevitable and had Jungkook laid up in bed still. 

Yoongi’s healing was truly magical, but it could only go so far with a concussion and joints sore from being jerked so sharply. It worked best on external injuries and had to be combined with other remedies or spells for internal issues. More than that, mind magic was a difficult and often imprecise thing. One false step could to dire harm instead of help. It was safer to ease the symptoms of a mild concussion and let it heal naturally. 

The rest of the nest also took a page from Jin’s book and filtered in and out of Jungkook’s room, trying not to overwhelm the fledgling, but also unwilling to leave him alone for long periods when he was so spacey and injured. Even when they were present, they were quiet in respect of Jungkook’s headache and often did nothing more than sit silently next to him or massage his damaged joints. The last thing they wanted was to either make the baby feel like a burden or isolate him.

Which made Hoseok’s own illness highly convenient. He could tuck himself into the bed all curled up around the maknae and pretend that it was entirely for his own benefit because he wasn’t feeling well. To be fair, Hoseok didn’t even have to exaggerate how badly he was feeling because he really was sick. Much sicker than even he had anticipated. 

“Hyung?” Hoseok’s head popped up from the bed at Jungkook’s voice. Confused, but curious eyes met his own, and Hoseok was very happy to see how clear they looked. It had been two days, and he’d been starting to worry over Jungkook’s continued despondency. 

“Yes, my own heart?”

“Why are you sick? Tae-hyung mentioned something about food; did feeding from Beomseok and Sangmi disagree with you? Can that happen?”

A surprised laugh tinkled through the air before Hoseok could stop it. What a delicate way of putting it. 

The question was serious, however, so he heaved himself up to sit against the headboard of Jungkook’s bed and give it a serious answer. The little one immediately tucked himself under Hoseok’s arm and cuddled up to his chest, melting Hoseok’s heart. 

“What do you know about sex demons, Jungkookie?” he asked, petting through Jungkook’s hair. 

An apologetic grimace twisted the baby’s face. “Not much. I’m sorry, hyung.” 

“That’s probably for the best, actually. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. We aren’t well liked by some religions and the sources often vilify us.”

It hadn’t always been like that. In Hoseok’s early life, things had been different. At least in Korea, many beings that had later garnered the label of “demon” had been accepted and even welcomed into some communities. People actually took the time to understand what a “demon” was and how they truly fed. 

Later history made a mockery of the early tranquility, and Hoseok remembered those days of comfort and stability with a slight bitterness. People had understood his species once and chose to erase that information. It was a hard thing to forgive. Perhaps impossible. 

“I guess the first thing that you should know is that sexual energy is actually not the best food source for an sex demon.”

The confused pout on the baby’s face as he twisted his neck up to see Hoseok was precious, but the position strained Jungkook’s already injured neck, so Hoseok gently guided his head back down. 

“We can feed off of pure sexual energy, don’t get me wrong, but it would never be our first choice because sex is only a conduit through which emotion flows. Every emotion that you feel creates a sort of connection between yourself and the object of your emotion, and that connection holds energy. Demons in general feed off of that energy as their primary form of nourishment.”

This wasn’t the first time Hoseok had explained his species, but it was always a bit of a daunting task to lay out everything clearly, so he stopped for a moment to gather his thoughts. Jungkook’s bambi eyes were wide even though he couldn’t see Hoseok’s face in this position. His rapt attention was utterly endearing, and Hoseok fought the urge to coo over him. He brushed a few strands of hair out of the fledgling’s face and kissed his forehead before continuing. 

“Emotions are the most available to a demon and the most healthy for us to consume when they’re directed at us. That’s why demons of wrath, for example, generally seek to inspire anger; they’re the most well fed when someone is mad at them.” 

Demons of wrath got a bad rep, but Hoseok had met plenty of them who found very creative solutions to their need for anger. Jessi, for example, absolutely delighted in chasing down abusive men and making them bow to her. Bambam took it in a much lighter direction, teasing and testing the people around him to inspire fond irritation in those he liked and overblown fury in those he didn’t.

 No type of demon was inherently “evil” and Hoseok hated how his species had been twisted by misinformation. 

“Every type of demon will choose this food source first, but if it isn’t available, there are other options. The emotion itself, not directed at the demon, is our secondary food source. A wrath demon could feed off the anger you have for a third party, for example.” 

With the easier topics out of the way, Hoseok almost hesitantly moved to the third method of feeding, the one that began to turn most people away.

“If they’re less concerned about consent, a demon can magically influence people towards feeling the emotion. This can involve nothing more than a small nudge to get the feeling started, or be as drastic as inducing a completely artificial emotion depending on the situation and the strength of the demon. It also ‘tastes’ artificial to the demon though. It’s like eating celery for a human: it takes more energy for the demon to process the emotion than they really get out of it.” 

Jungkook looked...intrigued. Instead of budding disgust, Hoseok could only feel curiosity in their bond, and a fragile hope flickered in Hoseok’s chest. People were rarely so open to actually trying to understand demons, and Jungkook’s reaction had been extremely positive so far by Hoseok’s standards. 

Still, he didn’t let himself get too excited over it. The worst was yet to come, after all. If Jungkook was going to have a bad reaction to any part of the information Hoseok was dumbing on him, it would likely be the next part. 

“If all else fails and we can’t induce the emotion, we can seize it. It’s the only type of feeding that leaves a permanent emotional or physical mark on a human. Since the emotion is forced, it can leave people unable to create it on their own again. It essentially overrides the emotional center of the brain and breaks it. 

“I’m sick because that’s what I did to Beomseok and Sangmi, and feeding like that is not good for demons either. Obviously it’s nowhere near as bad for us as it is for the person we hurt, but it’s like eating spoiled food. It makes us very sick.” 

Jungkook’s little fist clenched in Hoseok’s shirt, but he only pressed himself closer. His emotions were a slurry that shifted too quickly for Hoseok to get a read on them, but he could pick out guilt as the strongest one. That...was not what he was expecting. 

He didn’t seem ready to speak yet, so Hoseok let him have a moment to process that as he continued to talk. 

“Usually it’s extremely illegal for a demon to feed that way, but laying a single finger on another nest’s nestling is a death sentence. The nest is allowed to enact any and every punishment they deem fitting. Were it not for their removal to the Court of Magic, judgement would’ve been left entirely up to us.”

One finger uncurled from the fist to tap anxiously on Hoseok’s chest. “Sex isn’t an emotion.” 

Again, not what Hoseok was expecting, but a wide grin split his face at the perceptiveness. “ Very good , little one. No, it is not.” He followed the slight change of trajectory happily.

“Sex demons would more correctly be called intimacy demons in that we feed off of love, fondness, adoration and a sense of closeness. For many people, those emotions are strongest when they’re having sex, and the action got confused with the emotion over time in our nomicker.”

Perhaps that was a small thing to be annoyed about, sex wasn’t a negative thing by any means and Hoseok wasn’t offended or ashamed to be connected with it, but it was still a misnomer. History didn’t even bother to correctly record the name of Hoseok’s people. 

“These being said, intimacy and sex are not completely separate magically. When I do feed through sex, it has quite the impact, as you could probably tell the other day when I was with Tae.”

A shiver ran through Jungkook’s body, and Hoseok smirked. 

“The flip side of that is that if the ability to feel intimacy is removed, sex comes entangled with that. Without intimacy, a person’s own magic is fooled into believing that sex should no longer be a possibilty either because sex always creates intimacy in a magical sense. Even if it’s just the physical intertwining of two bodies, magic mixes as well.” 

“It would be an empty life.” Jungkook’s eyes were distant again when Hoseok glanced down again. “Without intimacy, I mean. Sex aside, feeling connected to another person, loving them, warming at their touch—to lose that would be... devastating .”

Hoseok wrapped his hand around the back of Jungkook’s neck and supported it as he turned his head towards him. 

“It is, and it is not something for you to worry over.”

“Beomseok and Sangmi will never feel intimacy or have children because of me.”

Ah. There was the guilt. Jungkook’s capacity to still feel anything but hatred for the people who had made his childhood a living hell would probably never cease to amaze Hoseok, but was not about to let his baby go down that road. He tapped a finger on Jungkook’s nose and shook his head. 

“Because of their own actions and me.” 

“You would never have met them if it wasn’t for me.”

“You would never have been thrown off of the roof if it wasn’t for them. All the circumstances surrounding that were out of your control, including my reaction. You are not responsible for their decisions or mine.”

Jungkook pulled away from Hoseok for the first time, sitting up and scooting away to huddle his body into a little ball. “I should feel worse about it. They’re going to suffer for the rest of their lives, and I don’t feel bad.”

“You do feel bad.” Hoseok could feel that in the bond. It wasn’t even buried. The emotion was right out there in the open. 

“I feel bad that I don’t feel bad,” Jungkook corrected. 

“No.” That wasn’t even a question. “You feel bad, which is incredible after the way they treated you.”

“You can’t tell that.” Jungkook drew his limbs even closer into a smaller ball and bit his lip. 

Hoseok reached for his chin again and tipped it back up. “Baby boy, I absolutely can. I’ve known you for all of two weeks, but you threw our bond wide open when you called us and haven’t really closed it back up entirely. Everything you felt in those moments we did as well, and a good portion of what you’ve felt in the last two days as well.”

“Beyond all that fear and shock, you did feel bad when you realized what I’d done. You never asked for that, and you’re not responsible for it, but you still pitied them in that moment. The fact that it’s even still bothering you speaks to your character, Jungkook. Most people would glory in seeing their tormentors pulled so low.”

Jungkook tried to look away, but Hoseok held his chin steady. 

“They were just kids too. Kids do stupid things.”

“They’re not kids anymore. They made the decision to harm another person, and they paid for it. That has nothing to do with you.”

The unconvinced expression on Jungkook’s face lingered. 

“If it hadn’t been you, it would’ve been someone else. Men like Beomseok and Sangmi need to feel powerful. If they didn’t have you for that, they would’ve found someone else, and that would’ve eventually put them in hot water completely independent of you.”

The guilty haze covering the baby’s mind finally lifted a little.

“They hurt Yugie. He’s the closest friend I ever had, and they hurt him for it.”

“Him and others. They sang their way through the mall, right? That place is full of nestlings. If any other nest found them before ours, they might not have gotten away with even their lives. This wasn’t your fault.”

“It still feels like it.” The emotion relented a little bit though, and Hoseok considered it a victory. The issue wasn’t settled, but he’d made some ground with the nestling and he didn’t want to push. 

“That’s because our little treasure has a heart of gold, huh?” He chucked the fledgling’s chin fondly and cooed over the little blush he got in response. Cupping his ears, Jungkook squirmed slightly and pouted at him. 

“Now, what say we go sneak some terrible candied ginger from Jin because he loves that toxic crap and it might make me feel less like I’m going to puke?”

The baby’s expression unexpectedly lit up. 

“Oh, I found a stash the other day! I know right where to go!”

Well, that was unfortunate. Hoseok had been hoping to dramatically fail in his attempt to retrieve the stomach-settler because he hated ginger, but oh well. If it kept that smile on the little one’s face, he would gladly eat the whole bag. 

Chapter Text

Way, way, way back in the day, Yoongi’s caustic complaints against being forced into military training had been legendary. Some of his first memories were his hatred for combat training. Learning to fight had seemed so pointless at the time, a farce designed to waste his time when his peaceful people had no need of warriors. 

It was only the warriors who had survived the first wave of attacks when humans started hunting them down. Even they fell fairly quickly until only those who excelled in their training made it through the attacks entirely. The long months and years of instruction that Yoongi had so bitterly hated were the only reason he was still living. 

More than that, however, they were the reason his nest was still intact. Yoongi had been drilled until it was second nature to assess a situation immediately and choose the best course of action in only milliseconds. The split-second decision to dive after Jungkook was only the latest in a long string of incidents where his quick reactions meant the difference between life and death. The instinct to protect, defend, help, save had been beaten (literally, sometimes) into Yoongi, and fate had made him very grateful for that. 

On the other hand, it meant that Yoongi was not generally a front-line fighter. Yoongi was the healer and the last line of defense between danger and any innocents present. 

Usually, Yoongi didn’t mind this. Godly blood and strength made Namjoon a powerhouse that few could challenge, and Jin’s undead presence at his side deterred most of those rare outliers. Any stragglers lucky enough to make it past them were met with Hoseok. Almost no one made it to Yoongi, and he liked that. Hurting people wasn’t pleasurable to Yoongi. He was more than happy to let the rest of his nest deal with that side of things. 

Usually. 

For the first time in a long time, Yoongi regretted that he wasn’t the one to fight Beomseok and Sangmi. 

He’d done the right thing in the situation, of course. There was no one else who could fly in their nest, and Jungkook’s safety would’ve been Yoongi’s first concern anyway. The perpetrators were always left to his nest. 

Watching Jungkook stare dubiously at his wheelchair, Yoongi desperately wished he’d been able to land at least one blow on them. 

This was the first time the baby was really well enough to leave his bed for anything other than short trips to the bathroom since the attack. The concussion had finally cleared up, and Jungkook’s joints were recovering from the jerk they’d been subjected to. After talking to Hoseok, the little one had even seemed to be bouncing back mentally. The guilt and sense of detachment that had pervaded their bond for days finally faded a little bit, and Jungkook started to engage with them again. 

Yoongi had been excited to tell the baby that he no longer had to remain confined to his bed. Bored impatience was slowly consuming the nestling, and Yoongi had thought he would be glad to finally have the go ahead to move around again. 

And Jungkook had been, until he laid eyes on the wheelchair Yoongi had dragged into the room with him. Even though Yoongi had caught the fledgling, his body had still gotten quite the jolt, and it had set back his physical recovery. Several more weeks of therapy would be necessary for them to completely undo that damage. Jungkook wasn’t ready to be on his feet, even if he could get out of bed, and would be in the wheelchair for a while yet. 

What Yoongi had forgotten to account for, was that this was the first time the little one would need the chair since he’d been thrown from it off a roof. He should’ve anticipated that this might be a problem. 

Jungkook didn’t say anything, just rubbed his fingertips nervously. Fingertips that Yoongi had treated for friction burns because Jungkook had tried to stop himself from being moved without his consent. 

The rage that thought sparked had no place in this situation, so Yoongi blinked the gold sheen out of his eyes, and reached out a gentle hand towards the fledgling. 

“Jungkookie?”

A flinch, and the little one’s gaze finally left the chair. Bright panic shone in his expression for a second, but settled instantly when the baby recognized Yoongi. The warm flush that suffused his chest at the trust had nothing to do with anger. 

“Sorry, hyungie, what were you saying?” Jungkook’s attempt at a smile was shaky and drooped around the edges. The facade cracked almost instantly, and the nestling’s lips wobbled just slightly as he dropped his head. 

“None of that now, dear heart.” Yoongi slid a gentle hand under the baby’s chin and tipped it back up. “Your fake smile is not anywhere near as convincing as Taehyungie’s, lovely, and it probably won’t be for awhile.” That got the ghost of a real smile, at least. “Would you like to talk to Hyung about why you’re upset?” 

“It’s just—” A frustrated huff. “It was so easy for them to pull me around,” the little one burst out. “I mean, they never had any trouble getting me where they wanted, you know? But for them to be able to just move me like that while I couldn’t do anything about it?” 

Fine tremors shook the baby’s entire frame, and Yoongi clenched his jaw. They never had any trouble getting me where they wanted . Jin’s nest might be immune to mental tampering, but Jungkook hadn’t had that protection. Siren song was a dangerous and terrible gift in the wrong hands, and the effects of long-term exposure were not pretty. 

Yoongi ran through a mental list of healers who specialized in the mind. It was woefully short and most of its items were individuals of very dubious morality. Developing that kind of expertise took a lot of familiarity with mind-altering magics, and few truly good people walked that road. The lack of trustworthy mind-healers was a large part of the reason that they had never dared to try to recover Jimin’s memory. With two babies now in need of that kind of help, they would have to give the candidates another look. Perhaps someone new had popped up in the years since they last scoured the world. 

Now was not the time to worry about it, though. Not while Yoongi had a distressed fledgling needing comfort. 

“You felt helpless, and that’s scary.” Pulling the chair up to the side of the bed in front of where Jungkook was perched on the edge, Yoongi sat down in it. Towering over the baby wasn’t going to help Jungkook feel safer, so Yoongi made himself smaller and dripped honey into his tone. “But you’re never really helpless, Jungkook-ah. You proved that by calling us.”

“I had to bring in someone else because I couldn’t do anything myself. That doesn’t make me any less helpless, and it isn’t something I can always rely on.”

Maybe if Jungkook had been part of their nest for longer, that would’ve hurt. As it was, Yoongi thought it was perfectly fair. Jungkook had never had a nest and didn’t understand the permanence of the bond that created. Even were he to leave, he would never truly be able to sever the bond completely. Their magic was intertwined, each of them taking part of the others into themselves. That wasn’t something that could ever really be undone.

“Calling for help is an action that you took to help yourself,” Yoongi corrected. “You saw a way to get yourself out of a bad situation, and you made the choice to use it. You were not helpless. Perhaps it isn’t the way you would’ve liked to resolve the issue, but you still had some agency.”

“I couldn’t even get my own feet beneath me when I tried.” Little fists clenched in the bedspread. 

“That’s why we’re working on the therapy. I know it’s frustrating, believe me , I know, but slow progress is still progress. You were doing well before the attack, and you’ll continue to recover. Give your body a little bit of time.”

A troubled frown tugged at the baby’s forehead. “What if I don’t have time?” He bit his lip and looked up at Yoongi. “This happened with no warning. All of this. It’s like a blitz every single time when I’m not expecting it and have no time to prepare. What if something like this happens again while I’m giving my body time and I’m stuck in the chair again, and—”

Yoongi fought to mask his own anger because Jungkook wouldn’t understand that it was directed at him. Every single time . Years worth of fear were folded into that statement, a childhood shadowed by bullying layered underneath the trauma of being kidnapped. The lonely and minacious life Jungkook must’ve lived made Yoongi’s chest ache. 

The baby’s tone was only getting more frantic, however, and that wouldn’t lead anywhere productive, so Yoongi interrupted with a firm, “Jungkook.” Eyes that had started to glaze over with anxiety shot to him immediately. Realization struck Yoongi that this might be the first time he’d used Jungkook’s name without some kind of affectionate affix. 

“As frustrating and scary as it is, there aren’t any better options. You aren’t strong enough yet to get around with just crutches or a cane, and as much as Jin may think otherwise, carrying you around everywhere is not actually a viable option, at least not if you’re looking to feel less helpless.”

A tiny curl of amusement flickered through their bond from the little one, and the blunt statement actually broke him out of his building panic. The fog of fear that had started to creep from his mind lifted a bit, and he focused on the rationality of Yoongi’s words. 

“Using the wheelchair offers you the most independence and mobility that you can get right now. Unless you would like to spend the next couple weeks in bed, which will set you back both physically and mentally, you need to use the chair.”

Jungkook’s nose wrinkled in reluctant acknowledgement. Frustration and slight fear lingered in their bond, but Yoongi’s particular brand of uncompromising reason settled the little one better than he’d expected. 

“That being said, there are certain measures we can take to make it more difficult for anyone to just drag you around like that again.”

The fledgling sat up a bit straighter and fixed Yoongi with alert doe-eyes. 

“The first and most important is this.” Yoongi leaned forwards slightly and tapped a finger on the baby’s lips. Endeared amusement made him smirk as the little one’s eyes crossed at the gesture. 

“You have a very loud voice, Jungkook-ah, both physically and mentally. If someone is doing something you don’t like, use it . People are not just going to stand there and watch if you start yelling about someone grabbing your chair. Make noise, and people will listen. If physical noise fails, you already know that hyungs are only a thought away. I think you almost deafened us last time. You definitely won’t go unheard if you call for us.”

The little tilt of the nestling’s head indicated that this was a new idea, and Yoongi dearly wished he didn’t know why. “Bullying” of the type that Jungkook had been subjected to did not just go unnoticed. People had seen what was happening and had been either unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Of course calling for help wouldn’t occur to Jungkook when it seemed that no one had responded to his calls before. 

“In the unlikely event that your voice fails you, the chair does have brakes here.” Yoongi flicked them on. “Push me.”

Instead of getting up, Jungkook set his foot on the seat of the chair between Yoongi’s spread thighs. His muscles bulged as he struggled to push it away, and wow. There was absolutely no bulk to Jungkook’s legs right now, but they were long and slim, and delicate, and his little bare foot was inches from Yoongi’s crotch. Yoongi did not have a thing for feet. He didn’t. It was just...a slightly more dominant position than Jungkook had ever adopted before, that was all. Yoongi liked when his babies thought they were in charge. It made it so much more fun to remind them exactly who they were playing with later on. 

Besides, no matter how much Jungkook tried, the chair didn’t move a centimeter. Under different circumstances, Yoongi would like to watch the strain on Jungkook’s face and the realization of his utter inability to move Yoongi. 

“You see?” He couldn’t resist wrapping a hand around Jungkook’s shin to massage his calf, looking slightly up at the little one in contrast to the way Jungkook had just failed to move him. 

“You’ve used this chair for weeks and never realized it had brakes. They aren’t in the same place on every wheelchair, and anyone trying to disengage them would have to find them first. At the very least, that will buy you a few seconds.” 

“Long enough to call hyungs, at least.” Jungkook’s tone was a little dry, but a shy smile tugged at his lips. 

“Ideally, yes. You’re not helpless, sweet boy. You just need to use the resources you have instead of lamenting the ones you don’t.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers.” That could’ve been bitter, but came out more as ironic and slightly teasing. 

Yoongi bit his tongue to stop his immediate response to that. The idea of Jungkook begging was a little too tempting. Yoongi would very much like to see Jungkook begging. 

Instead, he patted Jungkook’s calf and grabbed his ankle to move his leg out of the way so that Yoongi could stand. 

“So,” he said brightly. “It’s now been at least half an hour since Jin or Joon checked in on you, and they’re probably about ready to have a heart attack. Would you like to come down to breakfast before or after that happens?”

He purposely broadcasted that down the bond to Jin’s threatening curses and Namjoon’s abashed sulking. Yoongi would be hearing back from them later for sure. 

It was worth it to hear Jungkook’s laugh as he slid easily into the chair. There was another brief second of hesitation as he drew his fingertips over the wheels that had burned them before. 

Then he looked up at Yoongi with trust in his heart and gratitude in his smile. 

“Push me down, hyung?” 

The tsunami of pride that overflowed Yoongi’s mind as he set grabbed the handles nearly overwhelmed both of them. 

Chapter Text

By the time Jungkook was able to be out of bed for any prolonged period of time, Jin was ready to scream. Not at the fledgling. Of course not at his traumatized little one. No, he was fit to be tied because of the constant and time consuming interruptions from other individuals wanting some type of aid. 

It had been a long time since Jin made himself unavailable with no specifically stated reason, and that showed. The magical community was not used to being unable to reach him in case of an “emergency.”

Most of the “urgent” cases that came to Jin’s doorstep were not actually all that pressing: community squabbles, issues with a new fledgling, advice on a magical problem, the like. Very few of them realistically deserved the importance with which their complainant imbued them. 

To be fair, Jin usually didn’t mind that. He and Namjoon spent much of their time playing mediator and advisor to the magicals of Korea, dragging Yoongi and Hoseok along as necessary. Their efforts were a large part of the reason why Korea tended to be a fairly peaceful country, and Jin was very proud of the impact they had. 

That being said, Jin didn’t actually have a job. He held no title that made him responsible for anything. Over the years, Jin had acquired a reputation as an intelligent, fair, and magically powerful nest leader with equally talented and knowledgeable nestmates. This alone was the reason people came to him with their issues. Jin was under no true obligation to fulfil any of their requests. 

People seemed to have forgotten that long ago and treated Jin as a kind of village head for the magical community as a whole. His word was practically law, despite his lack of an official position. 

That unfortunately meant that people had questions when he suddenly withdrew from public life. A never ending stream of visitors crossed their doorstep, first people asking for help, then people offering it when word got around that Jin was not leaving the house, and finally a small group of slightly annoyed individuals showed up to express their displeasure at his shirking of his duty. 

Jin was reaching the limits of his patience. Was it too much to ask for a week alone with his nest for no other reason than that he desired it? Perhaps he had allowed the magical community to grow a bit too dependent on him. Jin had a fledgling of his own now who currently needed all of his attention. Maybe it was time to cut some of the apron strings for the rest of the world. 

Speaking of, Jungkook’s head popped around the corner just as Jin slammed the shop door in his annoyance at latest suppliant. “Hyung?” Big doe-eyes watched him curiously and reminded Jin to tamp down on the frustration he was sure was spilling into the bond. 

It was more difficult to completely close it nowadays. Since Jungkook was bonded so deeply to Jin and Yoongi, he had opened their side of the bond to everyone else as well when he panicked and called for them at the mall. Rebuilding those barriers was a huge effort that Jin hadn’t found the energy or impetus to go through. His nest was mature enough to handle his emotions. There was really no reason to bother censoring his own thoughts. 

In fact, Jin actually enjoyed the attentiveness his nest showed to his emotional state. The lack of masking meant that they were able to tell when he was irritated and wanted time alone, when he was sad and needed companionship, and when he was just tired. The way they tended to pop out of the woodwork in a completely non-subtle, but also incredibly endearing attempt to comfort him was precious. 

The baby was no exception. His childe seemed to be particularly attuned to Jin’s emotional state (unsurprising, given the intimacy of their bond) and had a knack for knowing when to approach him and when to allow him his space. 

Jin smiled wanly at him and tipped his chin up for a gentle kiss. “Hello, my treasure. What are you up to?”

“Escaping Tae-hyung. He wants me to play out a scene from one of his favorite dramas with him, and I’m scared if I tell him I’ve never seen it, we’ll spend the next three days catching up on every episode.”

A surprised laugh burst from Jin’s mouth. He could already picture the utterly offended expression on the pixie’s face whenever one of the nest was unfamiliar was a media Taehyung deemed “top tier.” Jungkook was absolutely correct, the Sixth likely would attempt to immediately rectify the oversight. 

The fledgling’s teasing tone and slight smile assured Jin that Jungkook knew Taehyung wouldn’t seriously force him into anything. His satisfaction warmed Jin because it told him the baby had been trying to get him to relax a little. 

“What’re you up to?” 

Jin ran a hand through Jungkook’s hair and threw a thumb back towards the door. “Escaping someone far more petty than our Taehyungie.” To prove his point, he started down the hallway, further away from the people he wanted to avoid. The little one followed as Jin made his way towards the living room. 

“Oh, I don’t doubt that. Hyung may hold inconsequential, funny grudges for a long time, but he’s very serious about bigger problems. More likely to sit you down and talk about any issue he has than to be petty or passive-aggressive.” 

Jin’s eyebrows went up slightly. The baby was right; Taehyung could hold small things against you forever in a very teasing way, but he didn’t like to have any true ill-will hanging over his relationships. If Tae had a problem with someone, he liked to confront it head on. 

“That’s very perceptive of you.”

“I would say it would be more perceptive of me to understand why you’ve been turning away every person who asks for help.” 

Jin stopped dead in the middle of the living room doorway. The dry tone and wry smile told him Jungkook already knew why he was sending everyone away. It seemed the fledgling had finally decided to address the fact that Jin could barely leave him alone for more than an hour or so without popping his head in to make sure he was ok. 

With a tired sigh, Jin nodded and gestured further into the room. The little one waited for him to be ready to speak, hands folded neatly in his lap and the bond radiating sympathy. 

Picking at his sweater in a habit Jin thought he’d broken years ago, Jin met his gaze. 

“I know I’ve been a bit overbearing the last few days and I’m sorry.”

Jungkook’s head was already shaking before he even finished the sentence. “Hyung, that isn’t why I brought this up. I understand that what happened scared you, and it’s a natural response to want to stick near someone after something bad happens to them. I’m not upset that you’ve been hovering a bit the last few days. I’m concerned because it’s been a week now and it’s interrupting your life.”

“Baby boy, it’s been a week . You almost died , it’s going to take me a bit more time to process and begin to recover from the fact that I almost lost my only childe.” 

 A week was the blink of an eye for an immortal. Even for a human, it wasn’t much time to deal with something as horrible and terrifying as what had happened to Jungkook. A week was nothing. 

“I don’t expect you to be recovered, but we both know that your behavior isn’t helping anyone, least of all you. Even when I’m with the other hyungs and the bond is open so you know that I’m ok, you still physically check in with me several times an hour. You’re fixating and obsessing in a way that isn’t conducive to anyone’s recovery.”

Jin knew that. He knew . Abandoning everything to look in on the baby so frequently meant that he was hardly getting anything else done. Most of his time was spent triple checking their bond or compulsively updating the security around the house. Even that was often interrupted by his niggling need to make sure the little one was alright. 

The need to protect, anticipate, check, check, check was overwhelming. Jin had fallen into a cycle of restless anxiety fueled by futile attempts to anticipate every disaster that could possibly happen. Old immortals slept less as the years went by, but that only made what little sleep they needed all the more important. The scant few minutes Jin had managed since the incident had been restless and haunted by confused nightmares of his childe’s panicked scream. 

Jin’s head fell into his hands. 

“I just—I need time ,” he said, roughly rubbing over his cheeks and pressing his palms into his eyes. Vivid, uncontrolled emotions sparked with unpredictable intensity as spiralling colours in the darkness. 

A hand on his knee almost made him flinch. “Hyung, you need normality. A large part of recovering after a traumatic event is returning to your usual routines. As comforting as it may feel to be able to check in with me every little bit, it means you’re dwelling on what happened instead of processing it. You’re letting fear control your actions instead of rational thought.”

If anyone understood the desire and consequences of hyper-fixation on the safety and well-being of their loved ones to the detriment of all else, it was Jin. He had fallen into that trap before. Had sprialed with his mother. Had seen what it had done to her. What it had done to their entire family. 

A fate worse than death. A trauma from which there was no recovery, only acceptance. 

His brother’s eyes blood red and empty of anything by ravenous hunger. Fangs dripping bright crimson over the body of a young father at their feet

A sudden weight in his lap. 

Jin blinked away the haze of blood, fear, pain, pain, pain , forcing himself to focus on soft, comfort, warm, childe . Gentle hands brushed away tears he hadn’t realized he was shedding and cradled his face. 

“Hyung-ah, I’m ok. I wasn’t badly hurt, and you know I’ll call for you if I need help. There’s always at least one other hyung in the house if anything were to happen unexpectedly. You need to start doing something other than trying to make certain I’ll never be hurt. That isn’t a realistic goal and you’ll lose yourself trying to reach it if you keep up this way.”

Jin’s head hit the little one’s sternum and he took several gasping breaths, half sobs and half an almost keening whine. He grabbed Jungkook’s hips and gave himself a few minutes to feel. 

His fledgling’s light, but finally, slowly growing weight on his thighs. Contentment and support from his nestmates. The jut of sharp hip bones under his fingers. His own pain, long neglected and repressed. Careful hands running through his hair. The fear of last week that he had refused to acknowledge. The rise and fall of a chest that no longer needed air, but was in the habit of breathing. 

Jin felt it and used it to ground himself. Jungkook was right. The problem was not so much that Jin was clinging physically as that he was stuck mentally. He wasn’t really processing or trying to recover, only finding refuge in an unavailing attempt to control the ungovernable future. 

It would destroy him if he let it. Bitter experience had taught him that. 

The baby didn’t push him. He held Jin close, pet soothingly through his hair, and let him actually process. Because Jungkook was recovering. Despite his almost dissociative state the first few days after he’d fallen, the little one had faced the reality of what happened and was now helping Jin do the same. He’d said what he could and knew it was up to Jin to take the next step for himself. 

The moment stretched as Jin engraved it into his mind. The love of his nest and the physical sensation of his childe in his lap would be his touchstone. 

There would be times when he would need it. Trauma like this didn’t just go away because of one conversation. Everything was a process, and there would be stutters and trips along the way. 

The first step was the hardest, though, and cementing this moment in his mind would give him a solid foundation. Jin let himself linger in it until the terror finally began to settle and a sense of stability was sown in his mind. 

Eventually, he lifted his head from the fledgling’s chest, and nodded once. “Thank you, my treasure.”

Doe-eyes crinkled in happiness and a shy pride (for himself and for Jin) filtered through their bond. Tenderness flooded in from every direction as Jin cupped the little one’s face and kissed his forehead. 

Jungkook’s mouth dropped open slightly in surprise at the strength of the emotion from so many different people all at once. The shyness tripled and he huddled into Jin’s chest. 

“You’re welcome, Hyungie.” He didn’t play down or belittle the importance of the conversation they’d had, but Jin could feel how diffident the gratitude made him. Jin was not the only one who had healing to do. 

They had their nest and they had each other. They would take small steps, one day at a time, side by side and hand in hand. They did, after all, have eternity. 

Chapter Text

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

Jungkook couldn’t help the exasperated sigh that escaped him. It wasn’t so much the question itself. After the mess of misunderstanding and conversational faux-pas when Jimin first asked him to help with his memory, it was natural that Jimin felt the need to double check and make positive that Jungkook was happy to participate. 

No, that wasn’t irritating at all. It was even a bit touching and endearing. 

The problem was that this was not the first time Jimin had asked. Or the second. Or the tenth. 

To be questioned so many times invalidated his ability to make his own decisions, and it irked Jungkook. He wasn’t an easily-led man and didn’t appreciate the insinuation that he may have been somehow tricked into this after they’d cleared things up the last time. 

Still, Jimin didn’t know him well enough to be aware that Jungkook was more than a little headstrong, and it was kind of him to care so deeply about Jungkook’s freedom of choice, Jungkook tried not to let it get to him. 

Mistaking the source of his annoyance, Jimin dropped the sodalite he’d been holding and backed up several steps. 

“That’s ok, you absolutely don’t have to! This is entirely your choice and I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to, so I’m just going to—” A vague gesture towards the door. 

With only one short glance towards the ceiling as he prayed for patience, Jungkook caught Jimin’s flailing hand and pulled him back around. “Jiminie-hyung,” he said calmly as he picked up the sodalite and carefully placed it on the chalk mark he’d drawn earlier. “If you do not stop asking me that question, I’m going to tell Namjoon-hyung who was really responsible for knocking over that little orb thing the other day.”

“You wouldn’t!” Jimin gasped, forgetting entirely about his concerns for a second. “Yoongi-hyung was so displeased, and Namjoonie is still pouting about it. You wouldn’t do that to me.”

Apparently, the glass ball Jimin had accidentally broken while wrestling around with Taehyung was one of the baubles Yoongi was fond of. The bonghwang had a passion for interior design and thought the decoration was a tasteful statement piece in the otherwise simple room. 

While Yoongi hadn’t been overtly angry or scolding, his quiet disappointment had followed Namjoon around for several days. The Fourth was indeed still pouting about it, both because it was assumed that everything broken in the house was his fault and because he actually hadn’t done it this time. 

If anyone had been truly upset, Jimin would’ve come clean immediately. As it was, Yoongi’s ire had a fond tint to it, and Namjoon’s sulking was good-natured, even a little amused. The incident had provided a tiny, but much needed break in the serious atmosphere of the house in the wake of Jungkook nearly falling off the roof. They’d all been a little relieved to be caught up in such a small accident after the dire mood as of late. 

That being said, it would only entertain the rest of the nest more if Jungkook revealed that it had been Jimin who broke the globe, and the cherub knew that. The tiny moue of betrayal on his lips was belied by the laughter glinting in his eyes. 

Jungkook met it with a teasingly cunning grin. “Try me.” 

Taehyung’s giggling in the background distracted him for a second, but Jungkook looked back quickly enough to catch the way Jimin’s playful indignation fell away into true uncertainty for just a split second. 

“Hey.” Light tugging on the Fifth’s wrist brought Jimin’s attention to him again. “I want to be here, and I’ll let you know if I can’t do what you want, hyung. That’s what this whole session is for; I’m just going to take a look and see if there’s any way I can help. There’s a chance that there won’t be anything I can comfortably do, but I want to try.”

A tiny spark of doubt still lingered even as Jungkook rubbed Jimin’s wrist gently, so he tried another route. 

“My biggest worry is that I’ll hurt you. A lot can go wrong with mind-magic and it’s very complicated. There’s no chance of that with what we're doing today. I’m literally just looking , not working any magic on you. Therefore, I’m very comfortable.”

Several seconds of silence while Jimin’s intense gaze searched Jungkook’s face. Finally, he nodded. “Alright. Thank you.”

Jungkook squeezed his wrist lightly and nodded back. The moment broke, and Jungkook looked back at the arrangement of stones and chalk on the ground: sodalite to open Jimin’s subconscious mind, and a seven pointed star to represent time. The shape had been Taehyung’s idea, and he’d imbued it with his own fae magic to make it a Faery Star. 

Everything was in place to facilitate access to Jimin’s mind, and there was no reason to delay any further. The longer this took, the more risk there was that one of their hyungs would interrupt. 

Their bond, mostly closed off from their hyungs for the first time since the attack, hummed between the three of them. There had been a small amount of consternation when their hyungs realized all three of the maknaes were going to be a little more closed off, but it was easily soothed away. 

Jimin and Taehyung had dropped hints that they were closing it because Jungkook wasn’t quite ready to be fully exposed to the more sexual side of their bond. Jungkook himself had cited a headache and magical exhaustion. The bond did take up magic, after all, and he’d never kept it open so long before. 

Besides, they all knew they couldn’t keep up like this forever. Everyone needed a little bit of privacy sometimes, and it wasn’t a practical use of magic to keep the bond actively open all the time. It was time to let it dwindle back down to the usual level of connection between them which allowed for communication as necessary and let them all locate each other quickly, but didn’t actively shove everyone’s emotions towards the others. 

No one had questioned their desire for a bit of space after several days of trying to remain as connected as possible. Now that even Jin was starting to move on, everyone recognized that their bond couldn’t remain so completely unchecked as it had been recently. 

With the rest of their nestmates busy at various tasks, this was likely the best opportunity the three were going to get to be alone for a while, and they didn’t have time to waste. That wasn’t lost on Jimin or Taehyung either. Neither of them protested further. 

Settling cross-legged in the middle of the star, Jimin steadied his breathing and began the process of calming his mind. Jungkook took his place at the point Taehyung had marked magically as the seventh, the one which represented the moon. The correlation of the number and the natural force associate with Jungkook’s magic (the moon) should give him a power boost. 

For something as simple as this, he didn’t really need the increase, but he didn’t think either Jimin or Taehyung understood that. The sodalite may be helpful, but Jungkook was a bit bemused by the rest of the preparation because he wasn’t going to be working any active magic. He really did just want to look

Still, he let them set things up as they wanted and gave Jimin the time he needed to center himself while enjoying the magical energy of the star himself. Extra power certainly wouldn’t hurt, and this was the first time he had ever so immersed in a magic that was not siren or dragon. The play of power against his mind and through his veins felt different, intensely clever, but also slightly menacing. Untamed. Siren magic was almost musical, rhythmic and fairly predictable. Dragon power tended to be extremely unsubtle and almost possessive. This was an entirely new and different feeling. 

For a few moments, Jungkook floated in it, figuring out how to fit himself into this flow and soaking in the experience. Then Jimin’s eyes opened and met his. 

Jungkook shifted his magic, then looked

And was nearly blinded. 

Both of them flinched back hard, Jungkook throwing an arm up in front of his eyes and gasping in pain while Jimin’s shock filtered down to him. That quickly faded to curiosity and concern, mixing with the alarm and a readiness to act that came from Taehyung. 

“Ugh.” The groan slipped out unbidden as Jungkook rubbed his eyes. “They weren’t kidding when they talked about the light of heaven, huh?”

Blinking rapidly to clear his vision, he once again filtered out the house and carefully glanced back towards Jimin. Only to find the Fifth mere inches from his own face, staring intently into Jungkook’s eyes. 

“What are you doing ?” 

“I could ask you the same.” The temptation to scoot away from Jimin was strong, but that would mean leaving his point of the star, and Jungkook wasn’t particularly keen on that idea. The flow of magic around him was still fascinating even if he didn’t need it right now. 

“Your eyes—” 

Long fingers curled around Jungkook’s chin and turned his head to look at Taehyung instead. Unprepared for a second influx of light, Jungkook yelped and flinched back to rub his eyes again. 

“Are you trying to blind me?”

“It kind of looks like you already did that yourself.” Still soothing one eye, Jungkook glanced at Jimin with the other. The blue-white of the cherub’s aura was less stunning now that he was expecting it. 

“Huh?” 

“They’re like...pearlescent. Whitish, but with flashes of other colors.”

That wasn’t right. Jungkook’s eyes had always been a deep sea-green shot through with the navy of the depths and flashes of sky blue when he saw . Not white. 

Then again, he was essentially coating his eyes with his own magic when he looked . If his magic had changed, and it had while he was in captivity, of course it was going to change the color. A sense of wrongness briefly overwhelmed him, but Jungkook pushed it away. This was his body now. There was no use getting too caught up in how he’d gotten it. 

“Can I—” Taehyung’s fingers were a welcome distraction as they gently turned his head once, giving him plenty of time to resist. The second look was always less staggering, so Jungkook allowed it and stared at the way the folds of Taehyung’s emerald magic almost seemed to twist and bend together in a never ending maze. 

Jimin’s magic was straight forward. Eye-wateringly bright, but uncomplicated. Taehyung’s was multivalanced, ever changing and revealing different facets of itself. Jungkook could stare at it for days and never see the same thing. 

Suddenly, he was grateful that it wasn’t Taehyung's memory he needed to fix. The complexity of his magic...Jungkook didn’t know if he would be able to pick out what was Taehyung and what was outside influence. 

“Is that—is that your magic?” A fingertip ran underneath his eye. 

“I did tell you I was going to look .”

“This isn’t magic we’ve seen before,”  Jimin clarified. “Your magic can alter your vision?”

A frown tugged on Jungkook’s mouth. “Well, yes, I thought it was common.” 

Sure, he’d never seen anyone else do it, but the circumstances where sight might have come in handy were rare. It wasn’t something people were just going to do every day for no reason. 

Particularly since it wasn’t particularly comfortable. His eyes had to adjust to every new person, and magically powerful individuals were often almost blinding if they caught you unawares. There was just no need to put yourself through that regularly. 

Of course, some people were more talented at it than others. Junghyun couldn’t see nearly as much detail as Jungkook did, for example. While he could pick out that magic was being used in the area, the type of magic was beyond his scope, let alone the threads of individual spells that Jungkook could easily see. 

Still, Jungkook had thought the skill was common and some people were just naturally predisposed to be better at it like any other type of magic. That neither Jimin nor Taehyung recognized it meant the ability was more rare than Jungkook had thought. 

“You can’t see ?” he asked. 

Taehyung tipped his head, studying his eyes. “I get the feeling we’re talking about different things when we say that, baby boy. What do you see ?” 

“Magic. Looking allows me to assess the magic in an area or on a person. My brother taught me when I was young.”

Thinking on it more, it actually made a lot of sense that sight might be a skill his family had developed for themselves and kept secret. Sight was the tool they used to locate so many lost hoards, after all. It gave the Jeons an advantage against other hoard-locating specialists, if they kept the magic private. 

“So when you said you just wanted to look at me today…”

“I really did mean just looking . It will help me get a better understanding of what spells have been cast on you and whether or not it will even be possible for me to undo them. Like initial diagnostics so I can do further research before I try to change anything.”

Taehyung turned Jungkook’s head back towards Jimin, but kept hold of his chin. “Ok, so what do you see ?” 

Jungkook considered the cherub once more. The veneer of pure white light seemed to pulse and almost grow brighter when Jungkook focused on it, but that shouldn’t be possible unless—

Fighting the pain, Jungkook screwed up his face and squinted past the glare. What had initially appeared as a flat and seamless slate shifted under his gaze. Something peaked out of fine cracks, still largely white, but with a golden or blue tinge to it. 

The more complicated colors crept out almost curiously, slyly challenging the purity, only for the white to pinch together and cut it off viciously. Almost like a zipper caught on fabric. But it was a futile attempt to hold back the tide; each time one gap closed, another opened. The weave of the spell was loosest around Jimin’s chest where blue and gold flashed continually. 

An intrigued hum rung from Jungkook’s lips. “Can you turn, hyung?” 

Jimin’s eyebrows shot up, but he obligingly scooted himself in a circle until—

“Oh!” Jungkook gasped.

There, directly between Jimin’s shoulder blades and folded tightly over his wings, was the most complicated knot Jungkook had ever seen. It shifted constantly, tugged this way or that by the pull of the gold or blue aura and straining against wings that shouldn’t be tucked down that small. 

Finally brushing Taehung away, Jungkook leaned forward and twisted his head to see it better, but that only brought more concern. It was impossible to follow the contours of any one thread of the knot because it wasn’t made up of just two or even three strands. Jungkook counted at least five individual tendrils, each representing a different spell. They were interwoven in a way that suggested multiple casters and possibly different types of magic. The web of threads that spread from the center of the knot spidered across Jimin’s back and up his neck to his head. 

“What?” Taehyung asked sharply. “What do you see?”

“It’s...complicated. This is not a spell. It’s many, and they’re all tangled together in such a way that I can’t see where one ends and another begins. Pulling at any one of them could tighten all the others, and I have no way of figuring out where each one leads, unless maybe…”

Jungkook shifted his magic slightly as the idea occurred to him. This was his area of expertise; there was no one more skilled than Jungkook at distinguishing separate types of magic. 

Sure enough, as soon as he’d adjusted his magic, everything became clearer. The spells were not all used for the same purpose. There were several binding spells linked to both physical and mental aspects of Jimin’s body as well as charms to discourage anyone (Jimin included) from looking too closely and layers of different blocks. A few morphing spells, and one or two alarms that would alert people if anyone tried to tamper with the magic were laced in. Jungkook thought he glimpsed a livid strand within that would cause pain, but it was too deeply woven into the knot to see for sure. 

“Ok, so, I’m not going to pretend that this is good.”

He could see every strand like this, though. Follow their path through Jimin’s magic and measure how they interacted. With enough study, their interplay would be familiar to him. If Jungkook could figure out how each spell affected the others, there was a chance that he could undo at least some of this. 

Jimin’s head was slumping forwards in defeat, however, so Jungkook set a hand on one shoulder, inches away from the knot, and hurried to comfort him. 

“Hey, I didn’t say it was impossible. It’s just going to be….very delicate.”

“You think you could do something?” The hope in Taehyung’s tone hurt to hear. Of all of them, Taehyung was closest to Jimin and undoubtedly knew how much this meant to the cherub. 

“I’m not sure if I’ll be able to completely unravel all of this. The knot is just….” Jungkook shook his head in disbelief. “This kind of magic comes from very complex rituals with several participants and they’re unlikely to be recorded in any book. They’ve woven so many spells together in a way that I’m not entirely sure is safe, and I’m pretty sure they’ve basically bobby-trapped your own magic.”

“That being said, I think if I’m very careful, I should be able to tease out some of this. I can follow each spell, and if I can figure out how they’re linked together, I stand a fair chance of being able to untangle part of it. Mind you, this is going to take a long time. We’re talking years . I’m going to have to do a lot of research, and possibly create or tweak a few spells. Maybe I should give you some crystals to jump start the process, and I think I saw a book a few days ago—”

Jimin’s body slammed into his and cut his words off. “Thank you.” The cherub trembled against Jungkook’s chest, arms too tight around his shoulder and face buried in Jungkook’s neck. “Thank you.” Taehyung’s arm slid around his waist as the pixie slid in behind Jungkook, raising his other hand to settle on Jimin’s head. Slowly wrapping his arms around Jimin, Jungkook hitched him just that slightest bit closer. 

“It’s going to be slow progress, hyung, but I’m happy to do what I can,” he said quietly. 

Jimin’s grip on him only tightened, and Jungkook’s neck grew wet. For a few minutes, they were still as Jimin sniffled and shook against him. The gratitude, relief, and faint, weak hope in their bond warmed Jungkook and made his chest ache in equal measure. 

Jungkook could already see that careful hope growing. He just prayed that he would never have to crush its fragile wings. 

Chapter Text

Jimin was very, very familiar with the pageantry involved in public appearances. From his earliest memories, Jimin had already known that presentation was everything. What went on behind closed doors meant nothing if it contradicted the public image. 

Despite being unable to remember anything of his childhood, Jimin knew instinctively that image had been everything to him. Probably not by his own choice.

The first few public events Jimin had attended with Jin’s nest, he had been overly concerned about his deportment purely for the sake of his reputation. The version of himself Jimin tried to project was a fractured shard of his personality, polished and honed like fine glass art until it became beautiful, but dangerous to touch. 

The longer Jimin spent with the nest, however, the more he realized that they defended their rung on the social ladder not because they wanted the power for its own sake, but because power brought security. Jin played by the social rules because he knew it was the easiest way to keep them protected. 

Public unity was about safety in numbers, not rubbing their bond in other peoples’ faces. Manners were important so as not to cause offense and make enemies over lack of comportment, not because their normal behaviors were embarrassing. 

It was a subtle difference, but a crucial one to Jimin’s mind. Jimin had long mastered conducting himself in a specific way for social events and didn’t find it to be particularly taxing anymore. In fact, once the goal shifted from crushing competition to protecting those he loved,  Jimin actually flourished in the intricate arena of public relations. 

With Taehyung by his side, Jimin swanned through ballrooms and bargained his way through complex negotiations. The pixie’s relation to fae royalty meant that he’d grown up playing these sorts of games, and together they were nearly unstoppable. 

Jin’s nest was a political and social force to be reckoned with. They had been long before Jimin and Taehyung joined it, and their addition only strengthened the group. 

Each of them had varying levels of social comfort, of course. Yoongi didn’t like big events at all, and Hoseok found them nerve wracking. Despite that, they were comfortable with the role they played and knew how to get what they wanted out of any social interaction. 

It had never occurred to Jimin that this was not a skill everyone learned as a child. Watching the subtle tremor of Jungkook’s hands on the wheelchair, he thought perhaps that assumption was a huge oversight. They weren’t even at the venue yet. 

In fact, they weren’t even dressed. The suit Jungkook had picked out was so fashionable and well chosen that Jimin had assumed the fledgling had some familiarity with events, but the hesitance with which Jungkook contemplated makeup and jewelry choices spoke otherwise. Rather than rooting determinedly through various pallets and trays of gems, the baby’s fingers flitted from one to the next, following Taehyung’s path as though uncertain of his own. 

They were stilled by Jimin’s hands. “Copying Tae isn’t going to serve you best tonight, little one.”

An adoring smile curled Taehyung’s lips as he looked up from his own preparations. Sharing the same vanity bench didn’t leave much space between them to begin with, but Taehyung closed what little was left to bump shoulders with the nestling. .

“I just don’t know what will look good with a suit. I’ve never—My brother didn’t wear—” Jungkook’s hands flapped vaguely at the entire sprawl of accessories and cosmetics before them. 

Interesting, that the little one was apparently basing his choices at least partially off of a sibling. His brother must work at a very high-end business, if Jungkook’s clothing decisions were formed off of his brother as well. 

Curiosity sparked, but Jimin pushed it down. The baby didn’t seem to enjoy talking about his family so far. If anyone could understand that, it was Jimin. 

Instead, Jimin shook his head and picked up an eyeshadow palette. “It isn’t just about matching your clothing.”

“Makeup is meant to complement your look, of course, but there are a lot of different ways of doing that. The way you do your makeup can skew a person’s whole perception of you.” Taehyung applied his eyeliner with an impressive steadiness as he spoke.

Jimin’s hand on the fledgling’s chin kept Jungkook obediently still even as a slightly offended pout puckered his lips.  “I’m not new to makeup; I know how much it can alter a look. I just don’t know which look I’m supposed to be going for.”

“Ah, well, definitely not the same as Taehyungie and I.” Tilting the baby’s chin a bit, Jimin critically examined his own work. “The two of us doll ourselves up to look challenging and intense. We know what we’re walking into and we’re used to handling ourselves in this type of situation. We’re predators in the social pond, and tonight, we want everyone to know that.

“If you walk in looking like that, people are going to expect you to be both comfortable and dangerous in a political and social context. We don’t want people looking at you like you’re a threat.”

“I thought this was just a dance, why would people think I’m a threat?” The alarmed confusion in the fledgling’s eyes tugged at Jimin’s heart. 

“Jin is powerful, dear heart, and the rest only slightly less so. I am related to royalty. Jimin is the only angel on earth. Namjoon and Jin are both demigods. You now have a leash on the man who brokers all that power. Some people aren’t going to like that.”

The baby’s head whipped towards Taehyung so sharply that Jimin barely had time to snatch the eyeliner away. 

“I do not .” Offense curled around every syllable. “Jin-hyung isn’t some dog I’ve managed to collar! If anything, I’m in Hyung’s debt.”

Jimin shook his head, drawing the little one’s head back around again and meeting his eyes. “You don’t understand, precious. Jin has devoted himself to you. That means your desires are Jin’s as they are mine, and Tae’s, and Hobi’s, and everyone else’s. We are willingly led where you want to go not because we feel any sense of obligation towards you, but because you’re important to us and we want to see you happy.” 

“Your bond with Hyung is especially close as his childe. More than that, his only childe,” Taehyung added. “It’s well known that Hyung never meant to sire a childe, and people are going to be itching to find out what changed his mind. You’ll be the subject of envy and resentment because you succeeded in becoming Jin’s childe where so many have been turned away.”

“Nuh-uh.” Hovering a forbidding brush in front of the fledgling, Jimin preemptively headed off any arguments. “We know how things really happened, but that is our own private business. No one else has any right to that information.”

“It’s not fair to Jin-hyung.”

“It’s not fair to you either,” Jimin countered. “You never asked for this, and you’re still going to have to deal with the fallout of other people’s decisions and assumptions just like Hyung is.”

“People might even see you as more of a threat if they knew,” Taehung said. “Not only are you now able to influence Jin, but some might believe that you manipulated yourself into that position against his will. That would only make them more wary.”

“Besides, it doesn’t really matter how it happened because the end results are the same.” The mascara brush stuck slightly as Jimin pumped it, and he made a mental note to grab a new tube next time they were out. “You are now able to influence the most powerful man in the room with only a thought.”

“But I wouldn’t!” The puppy liner exaggerated the doe-eyed expression of denial on the baby’s face. 

“That doesn’t matter. It just matters that you can. Whether or not you choose to use that power, it’s still yours. Something as subtle as wearing a harsh makeup look will emphasize that to this particular group of people, and feathers would be ruffled.”

Pleased with his work, Jimin turned Jungkook’s head back towards the mirror. “For now, looking innocent will help you.” A soft caress against the fledgling’s cheek. “Your eyes are already so big and pure, highlighting that will serve you far better than the smokey intensity that Tae and I did.”

The light sparkled Jungkook’s eyes as he met Jimin’s in the mirror, reflecting like mini galaxies. Jimin’s breath caught. Yes. That was exactly the look he’d been going for. 

“It also makes you look young.” Taehyung’s blunt statement broke the moment, and the fledgling turned towards him again. “People are less likely to find babies a threat, and they won’t expect you to be perfectly trained in etiquette yet.”

A trouble frown creased the nestling’s forehead. “That seems...almost manipulative.” 

“The very nature of high society is manipulation.” 

It was perhaps a dark view of it, but Jimin couldn’t help agreeing with Tae. Real friends were few and far between in the upper echelons of magical society, and the world was lucky that a man like Jin had managed to seize the most power. Jimin was not so naive as to claim that Jin was a paragon of sterling behavior, but the vampire had morals and lines he wouldn’t cross. Jin tended towards benevolence unless otherwise provoked. 

“Everyone has an agenda. The way people treat you will depend on how you fit into it. Better that they attempt to manipulate you with kindness rather than force.”

“I’m a pawn.”

Pouting at the trepidatious and upset expression on the baby’s face, Jimin ran his hand through Jungkook’s curls. “Not to the people who matter. Others are going to think what they want, and it’s important that we prepare you the best we can for you to be safe at this kind of an event. That doesn’t mean anything they think has any validity to it.”

Taehyung squeezed the fledgling’s hand. “You are Jin’s treasure, little one. Don’t forget that.” 

It took a few moments, but Jungkook’s shoulders eventually relaxed a little, and he gave Taehyung a nod. “I don’t like it, but I understand.”

With the little one at least slightly soothed, Jimin turned his attention to the jewelry littering the table in front of them. Taehyung’s quiet “Good boy,” distracted him momentarily because it had the baby preening in an incredibly endearing way, but Jimin didn’t allow himself to get too caught up. It was almost time to leave. 

“Everything is about presentation, but appearance isn’t always illusion.” The diamonds on the necklace he clasped around Jungkook’s neck dulled in comparison to the baby’s eyes. “No one else should forget you’re our treasure either.” 

“We spoil each other for this type of event not just because we like to see each other in jewelry we chose specifically for our nestmates, but because we want other people to see how much we value each other.”

“Money talks, and it’s the only language some people speak,” Jimin soothed a finger along Jungkook’s collarbone, tracing the chain of the necklace. 

“But doesn’t that just draw attention back to the idea that I could influence you? If you show so clearly that you think I’m worth spending this much on, it confirms that I might be able to influence you, right?”

The dubious tone in the fledgling’s voice spoke ill of Jungkook’s self-worth. Torment like Jungkook had faced from Sangmi and Beomseok was not ideal for fostering great confidence. “There is no amount of money that is too much to ‘spend’ on you, but yes, very good.” The words only slightly lessened the sourness of his anger, but Jimin shelved the feeling for another time. 

“The difference is that everyone is aware that we choose each other’s jewelry.” Taehyung’s fingers curled around the baby’s wrist to fasten another string of diamonds, this one accented by pearls. “Makeup is your choice and speaks to how you view yourself. Jewelry is ours. We want people to know if they decide to challenge you, they challenge all of us.” 

Jimin draped himself over the fledgling’s back, meeting Jungkook’s eyes in the mirror with a heated smirk. “I look forward to crushing all who are foolish enough to approach our baby.”

Pink-stained lips parted as Jungkook fell into his gaze. Jimin held him there, going so far as to wrap a gentle hand around the fledgling’s neck and pin him physically as well. 

“Ours,” Taehyung echoed, purring it against Jungkook’s ear. 

“Ours, and hopefully you’re ready to show that, because we’ve got to go.” Hoseok’s slightly amused voice broke the moment. The incubus leaned against the doorframe, arms folded across his chest in what would’ve been a casual pose if not for the fire behind his own stare. 

Jungkook finally blinked, cheeks pinkening without the aid of makeup. Jimin squeezed his nape with a fond smile as the little one tried to get ahold of himself. 

But even as the baby visibly gathered up his courage and turned towards the door, an entirely different look passed between Jimin and Taehyung. 

Sending Jungkook out into high society felt like throwing an innocent into a pool of sharks with only a pair of floaties to help. 

Good thing Jimin and Taehyung had the sharpest teeth of any shark in this sea. 

Chapter Text

Namjoon had seen many a ballroom in his day. The tinkle of manufactured crystal, the glare of austentatious chandeliers, the whirl of oversaturated gowns—it all failed to raise even the slightest excitement in him. He’d forgotten that the luxury and beauty could be wondrous before you learned to see past them. 

The starstruck expression on Jungkook’s face was a stark reminder. Every new counterfeit delight caught the baby like a golden net. It took Jin’s gentle prodding to return the nestling’s focus to the social interactions that were the purpose of the outing. 

A hand in his hair or a brush of his shoulder was enough to remind Jungkook of their company and make the little one flush such a darling pink that even the persnickety older immortals were charmed. Jimin and Taehyung had done well in styling the baby. 

Charmed did not mean welcoming, however. Oh they smiled. They shook Jungkook’s hand and ostensibly indulged him. But there was plastic in their lips and forgery behind their teeth. Jealousy glinted in the little glances they threw at Jungkook’s jewelry; disdain in their perception of his naive innocence. 

There was a good reason that Jin had asked Namjoon to stick close. 

Namjoon was their tank. Jin’s superior age and Hoseok’s greater experience in fighting still couldn’t touch Namjoon on the battlefield. His intellect combined with his preternatural strength gave him an edge in every fight. If the fledgling needed to be defended, Namjoon was the ideal protector. 

In addition to physical safety, Namjoon was well known as a demigod. His mother was...prolific, and the reach of her influence lent Namjoon power in the political realm as well. In his younger years, Namjoon had capitalized on that, building connections and bartering with secrets and lies. It had been years since Namjoon stepped back, but he’d never entirely left the gameboard. He was a political force to be reckoned with. 

It was tactically advantageous on several levels for him to remain near Jungkook, and Jin was never one for giving up an edge. 

High society was no place for a treasured darling. Half of the people important enough to meet Jungkook believed his benignity was just an act. The other half thought they saw an opportunity. 

Time would tell which faction was more correct. Namjoon didn’t doubt that the baby really was awed by the finery around them, but the fledgling was also intelligent. The simplicity with which he answered questions and tripped through conversations belied how sensitive his words were. 

It took Namjoon a few rounds of repetitive small talk to notice, but Jungkook said very little while seeming to say quite a bit. 

“Where are you from, dear?”

“Oh just a small town near the sea, nowhere near the magnificence of Seoul. On the way here, I saw a bar that advertised drinks to make you float! Imagine!”

A redirect. 

“Your parents must be so proud that Jin-ssi chose you as his first Childe.”

“My parents have always encouraged me to find a place for myself in the world.”

Obfuscation. 

“This is my Childe, Kim Jungkook.” The traditional adoption of his Sire’s name for his own already spoke volumes. It only reminded Namjoon that they hadn’t been given Jungkook’s last name yet. Perhaps the detail was merely forgotten between the rush of their first introductions and the later “too late to ask” mentality. These conversations made Namjoon think otherwise. 

“Oh, and was that your family name before as well?”

“I’m happy to share my Sire’s name.”

No indication of whether that meant now or before his turning. 

Jungkook capered around unwanted prodding with a delicate grace that wasn’t immediately visible even to Namjoon’s well-trained eye. For all that the venue was new, Namjoon got the impression that conversational warfare was old hat for the little one.

Over the course of the night, as he came to understand how little Jungkook was actually saying, Namjoon realized that their nest wasn’t much more informed. Who was Jungkook before he had been attacked? Where did he work? How did he spend his free time? What were his goals in life?

Their only clues to Jungkook’s past were the attack at the mall and the fact that he had no one to contact back home. The baby was intensely private and good at shifting a conversation without exciting suspicion. 

The nest had no right to any information Jungkook didn’t want to share, but Namjoon was still curious. Was the little one’s life so bad that he wanted to forget his past entirely? 

Then again, the circumstances hadn’t exactly been the best for long talks and personal histories in the last few weeks. Until the moment Jungkook opened himself to them in the mall, a small barrier of mistrust lingered between them. Afterwards, Jungkook had been spacey for days, and then took to spending much of his time with Taehyung and Jimin. 

The youngest two had obviously gained Jungkook’s trust somehow. They’d also forced Jungkook to gain their own trust rather than immediately accepting him as the older members of the nest had. Ironically, their initial reluctance allowed for an exchange of trust that facilitated deeper communication. 

The time would come when Jungkook felt comfortable sharing with all of them. Or it wouldn’t. It all depended on Jungkook. Unlikely as it was that the fledgling would never choose to share (given the depth of their bond) Namjoon was prepared to accept that. 

For now, his job was to disabuse people from the notion that they had the right to pressure the baby either. Even while Jin led them through the room to meet everyone who “mattered,” Namjoon hovered in the background, watching with a fragile smile that could shatter into razor sharp words at any moment. 

It got a few odd looks at the beginning of each conversation. Jin’s nest was not particularly known for supervising their maknaes in social situations, partially because most of them couldn’t remember further back than Namjoon’s tenure as maknae of Jin’s nest. Namjoon, Jimin, and Taehyung had all been raised around courts, learning to dance physically as well as with words before they could remember. 

The only thing to “supervise” would have been their attitudes: all three of them had come from a background of superiority to others. Taehyung’s royal blood, Namjoon’s position as his mother’s favorite, and the moral “ascendancy” of Jimin’s species left the three of them peerless as children. They had been told all their lives that they were the best of the best in one way or another, and each of them had to learn to interact as equals later on in life. 

Jungkook’s problem was the opposite; he’d been treated as though he was below average, and now he held the most coveted position of anyone in the room. It only made sense to keep someone around to help guide and protect him while he was finding his feet. 

People caught on after only a few words from the little one. It was clear that he didn’t have the social training the rest of them had been raised with. Many dismissed Namjoon’s presence as a governor for the fledgling. 

Those who bothered to ask Jungkook’s age got slightly closer to the truth. 

Jungkook, as it turned out, was shockingly young. His “Twenty-three” got shier each time it elicited shocked gasps. 

 

Most vampires weren’t turned before twenty-five. Originally, it had proven the best way to avoid the deadly blood rages that often claimed the lives of both humans and the vampire responsible. With modern science to claim that twenty-five was also the age the human brain reached full maturity, most vampires considered that the age of consent for turning. 

Occasional exceptions were made, of course. If a human was dying, they could ask to be turned earlier, and other extenuating circumstances were considered. It still hinted that the turning had not been entirely conventional. 

The huge age gap between Jungkook and Taehyung, the youngest before him, was also unusual. Long established nests rarely took on new members so much younger than their current maknae. It would’ve been more traditional for Jin to hand over the rite of First Blood to someone else and allow Jungkook to join another nest. 

Nothing about the situation was normal and Jungkook’s age emphasized that. Those astute enough to ask got a peek behind the curtains, and assumed correctly that Namjoon was there for protection. No one was going to let a baby roam around by himself, after all. 

Namjoon took that seriously, especially after the last time Jungkook had gone missing during his watch. Each introduction, each new person who approached the little one with unknown intentions put him on edge despite Jin’s unwavering presence at their front. 

The only reprieves were the individuals Namjoon had found to be genuinely good people. Although still wary of the rest of the room, Namjoon could relax a little with their more friendly acquaintances. 

Finally finished with the last of their politically important rivals, Jin glanced around the ballroom at large to find those he was actually pleased to have Jungkook meet. His gaze darted around for a few moments until the outraged voice of Aspasia caught his attention and tempted a smile to his lips. 

“—killing their voices! Sirens are becoming nothing more than glorified mermaids at this point, losing their claws and breeding their voices away! In my day, your voice was your most prized possession, and it’s disgusting that this generation has become so desperate to fit in that they deliberately lose what makes them unique!”

Aspasia was usually a difficult person to miss, and her husband Wonil even more so, one due to her strength of character and the other his strength of body. With the silver tongue of a siren and the sheer might of a dragon, they had once been one of the most renowned power couples in Korea. 

They had drifted surprisingly close without being noticed, and Namjoon turned towards them eagerly. A conversation with the couple was never tedious, despite the murmurs of faux sympathy Aspasia’s impassioned speech drew from the bored socialites around her. 

Jungkook’s head whipped around with a speed and interest that broke the happy-go-lucky persona he’d donned for the night. His expression was hard to read, somewhere between shock and intrigue. There was an intensity to it that Namjoon hadn’t seen before, but wasn’t entirely surprising given the topic. 

Jungkook’s experience with sirens had not been positive. 

Jin’s mouth was already open to head off the conversation, but Aspasia was quicker. 

“Don’t give me that look, little one, you don’t know what it is to watch your species twist so far from yourself that you don’t even recognize them any more.”

Aspasia was old. Old enough that she may have been present at the announcement of Namjoon’s birth, and old enough that sirens had a birdlike form in her youth.

“They’re afraid.” The defense was completely unexpected. Jungkook had been subjected to the power of a siren’s voice probably on a semi-regularly basis. If anyone should be afraid, it should be him. “They’re persecuted for their voices, so they choose partners with weaker voices for safety. Natural selection takes care of the rest.” 

“Afraid,” Aspasia scoffed. “They don’t know fear. Fear is your home slowly devoured by lava. Fear is watching that home drift further and further away while knowing that they put you on the last boat. Fear is your family still on the island.” 

Ice curled Namjoon’s spine. The evolution of the sirens was one of the more well-known phenomena, but he’d never heard it from a survivor. It was a fairytale, a bedtime story told to him in his young days. 

A surprise volcanic eruption that devoured an island more quickly than people could be evacuated. The last, desperate act of the elders which managed to transmute wings into tails. A species saved, but forever altered. 

Only those who had made it out on boats, the young and their mothers, retained their original form. They lost their home, but at least kept their bodies. Those trapped on the island hadn’t fared so well. A rift between the two subspecies was inevitable and swift in coming. 

Even Jin faltered in the face of such a tragedy brought up so unexpectedly, but Jungkook didn’t back down.  

“Fear is the absence of safety, the pain of isolation, the decision to give up something you value because it might also kill you. Fear is knowing you could pass down your curse to your child and the possibility that you may step over a line in the sand without realizing it. Fear is vocal cords ripped out.”

A complete lack of comprehension and the numbness of shock echoed through their bond. What—?

The intensity silenced even Aspasia, but Wonil replied with an uncharacteristically serious expression. “You feel very strongly about this.” 

Jungkook blinked and flinched back as though suddenly jolted back to his surroundings. 

“My friend, Yugi, he’s a siren. We grew up together, and I saw what he went through.”

It felt too personal, though. The slurry of emotions in Jungkook’s mind right now was so confused and torrential that Namjoon almost felt the need to close the bond just to get his own head on straight. Either “Yugi” was a much dearer friend than they had thought, or something else was going on here. 

Wonil had none of that context, however, so he accepted the explanation. “Sirens have long held a difficult position in society.”

Jungkook’s nod was uncharacteristically confident. “Respect born from fear over a power that few have the ability to wield with any level of expertise.” 

“Your friend must have trusted you deeply, to share the difficulties of learning siren song,” Wonil said consideringly. “It’s not a commonly known process.”

“And getting less so with each generation,” Aspasia added. “If things continue in this direction, sirens are going to go extinct. Everything that differentiates us from mermaids is disappearing.” 

It was the most defeated statement Namjoon had ever heard from the normally fiery woman. Technically species-less as Namjoon was, he couldn’t begin to understand her pain. Each demigod was so different that they didn’t share a sense of sodality. 

Aspasia had already lost so much of her communal identity in the schism between winged and tailed siren. To watch what little she had left slowly vanish…

Wonil wrapped a solid arm around her waist, an intimate gesture for this kind of setting.

“The species, maybe.” A trouble frown twisted Jungkook’s face, the only hint of the deep, aching pain in his chest. “But the people will live.” Dull acceptance with only the barest hints of hope. 

Aspasia turned slightly into her husband’s body pressed against her, then drew herself to stand tall. Something of the woman Namjoon was familiar with shone through. 

“The people will live.”

Just as they had after the initial disaster.

“I don’t think we ever got your name.” The appreciative gleam in Wonil’s eye was enough to tell Namjoon how much this conversation meant to the couple. 

Few people cared enough to give the extinction of sirens a second thought. Fewer still spoke kindly of them. None, that Namjoon knew off, had ever argued with Aspasia to defend them. 

As an outsider, Jungkook could say things that Wonil couldn’t, and the debate challenged some of the negative thought patterns she’d fallen into in recent years.

Aspasia was Wonil’s world, and her depression had been clear only in their retreat from society the last fifty years or so. The last of their dragon children had died in an accident, and they spent most of their time with their only living human son. 

Namjoon had met Miyoon once and thought he couldn’t be less like his charismatic and forward-thinking parents. Obsessed with his son because he managed to sire a dragon, Miyoon used the child in his desperation to build his own political capital. It was a vain attempt for a mortal in immortal society, and Namjoon personally found Miyoon’s hunger for power extremely distasteful. 

How Aspasia and Wonil, with their rare honesty and true kindness, had managed to produce such a shallow child, Namjoon couldn’t guess. Perhaps it was the consequence of having a human child after so many centuries and knowing they could only keep him for a few short decades. 

Perhaps Jungkook had given Aspasia a bit of a needed push. 

“Oh, this is my Childe, Kim Jungkook.” The introduction was slightly rushed, but Jin had given it enough times tonight that he didn’t stumble despite the chaos of his thoughts. 

Dipping a bow, Jungkook gave the most genuine smile Namjoon had seen all night. 

“It’s nice to meet you, Jungkook. I’m Jeon Wonil, and this is my wife, Aspasia.” 

Jungkook’s mind went blank. 

Chapter Text

The moment Jungkook’s mind closed off, Taehyung’s conversation with Yoongi shuddered to a halt. Both of them turned immediately, desperate to set eyes on the baby because the last time Jungkook had gone offline…

But no, the fledgling was fine. Jin and Namjoon hadn’t moved an inch from his side, and they were talking to the Jeons, whose company Taehyung enjoyed. Aspasia was one of the few people who had dared to stand up to Taehyung when he was backed by the Fae court, and Wonil’s kindness was only matched by his powerful presence. Of all the people who may have upset Jungkook tonight, Taehyung wouldn’t have expected those two. 

Stranger still, no one except Jungkook looked uncomfortable. Taehyung knew his nest well enough by now to see through their posturing to their real feelings even in such a setting as this; neither Namjoon nor Jin showed any sign of malaise. Their minds buzzed with confusion, but nothing stronger than that. 

Exchanging a thought with Yoongi, Taehyung smoothly broke off from their current social group to wander leisurely over to Jungkook. They couldn’t all converge on him at once. That would be a dead giveaway that something had gone wrong, and they didn’t want to spoil all the effort that they'd put into Jungkook’s introduction so far. Taehyung had interacted with the Jeons more than the rest of the nest, and it wouldn’t seem odd for him to go greet them. 

By the time he approached the group, Jungkook was stuttering through a shaky “Nice to meet you.” It was delayed and spoken with little emotion; more reflex than anything else. 

Taehyung reached out mentally as he slid an arm around Jungkook’s shoulders and greeted the Jeons warmly. The physical comfort was welcomed; Jungkook sat back in his chair to lean into Taehyung’s touch and set his own hand on Taehyung’s hip. The mental brush, however, was almost slapped away. It was the sharpest rebuff Taehyung had ever gotten from the baby. 

The tiny flicker of emotion that inevitably came with it reeled with shock, loss, and a deep, abiding hurt . There was something deeper at play here. The reaction was too extreme for the innocuous introduction that Taehyung saw in Namjoon and Jin’s minds. 

The two older men turned the moment over in their thoughts, continually replaying it to try to understand what had elicited such a negative response from Jungkook. But there was nothing. Not a single iota of change in either Aspasia or Wonil’s expressions. No ire in Wonil’s tone. Nothing that should’ve upset their baby so. 

“Taehyung! How’s the shop going? I heard you’re selling siren feathers now.” 

Aspasia’s tone was teasing and for good reason; siren feathers were near impossible to come by. Most sirens who retained their original form prefered lives of solitude and obscurity. Outcasts of an already hated species, they lived in tiny communities and shunned contact with outsiders.

“Ajumma, you know I’ve never managed to get a hold of those.” 

Not for lack of trying. Both Taehyung and Jimin had been turned away from the isolated siren communities whenever they tried to visit, and Aspasia was the only siren they knew of who lived a more prolific life. 

She steadfastly refused to give her feathers, a hold over from the days when Taehyung had been far more demanding and less accustomed to being told no. He’d been rather rude to her back then, and although Taehyung had long since sincerely apologized, Aspasia still teased him about it every now and then. 

It had been years since Taehyung earnestly asked for a feather anyway. If she knew what they were being used for, Aspasia was happy to provide them with what they needed. Selling them in the shop for people to use indiscriminately simply wasn’t something she was comfortable with. Taehyung respected that. 

“Ah, well, you might ask your littlest nestmate then.” Arching a delicate eyebrow, Aspasia gestured at Jungkook, who made a visible attempt to check back into the conversation. “His best friend is a siren; I’m sure he could get a few feathers for you.”

“Oh no, definitely not.” The denial was instant and vehement. “Yugi doesn’t have feathers, he’s got a tail. Besides” —a slightly more melancholy tone— “we lost contact a while ago. His nest moved him out of the area not long before…” 

Before he’d been kidnapped. 

The sentence went unfinished with a dazed glance at Wonil and Aspasia, but Taehyung knew. 

“We’ll have to see if we can track him down again for you,” Jin said, tone deceptively light as he tested the waters. Jungkook’s negative reactions to his past so far had them all a bit wary about pushing him to reconnect with anyone. 

The little one just nodded thoughtfully, though Taehyung doubted he registered what he was agreeing to. Jungkook’s mind buzzed so anxiously that tendrils of emotion leaked out despite the wall. Jin’s suggestion was likely lost in that chaos before the nestling had the chance to understand it. 

Jin attempted to reach out mentally at the lack-luster response, and was slapped away just as decisively as Taehyung had been. Taehyung didn’t think the baby even realized what he was doing. Shock had caused the fledgling to go on autopilot while he retreated to process. Their inability to reconnect with him indicated that Jungkook was not focused on the conversation despite his attempts to engage. 

Like Taehyung, Jin didn’t press again once rebuffed. Instead, he turned to the Jeons. 

“How is Miyoon?” Feigning polite interest was a skill Jin had mastered as a toddler, but even he couldn’t keep a tiny wrinkle of distaste from his brow at the mention of the Jeon’s closest living relative. 

The human wasn’t well liked in immortal circles, mostly because he forced himself so determinedly into a place he didn’t belong. Miyoon wasn’t going to live long enough to accumulate the power that he wanted. Influence took centuries to build in the immortal community, and there was no cheatsheet to skip a few steps. Even Aspasia and Wonil’s social credit could only get Miyoon so far. 

Especially given the circumstance of the boy’s birth. 

Everything had been hushed so thoroughly that only a few living souls knew the truth, but Miyoon was not Aspasia and Wonil’s child. Their daughter, Bosun, had gotten pregnant from a man who was not her mate, and Miyoon was the product of their illicit union. Dragons mated for life, and Miyoon spent the first few years of his life as a closely kept secret while Bosun and her mate tried to reconcile after her betrayal.

The couple had died together in a work accident without any resolution between them. Wonil and Aspasia, grieving from the loss of their last living child, had taken in Miyoon before word of his existence could reach the wider circle of immortals. 

Taehyung only learned details of the situation because he’d been visiting Aspasia when the news came of their daughter’s death. There had been only a few seconds to grieve before the care of her grandson became Aspasia’s first priority. Taehyung’s visit turned out to be a blessing in disguise as he was available to help her make the initial arrangements despite his own surprise at the child’s existence.  

The siren who had fathered Miyoon made a brief appearance while Taehyung was still there to state very clearly that he wanted nothing to do with the boy. His nest was unaware of his dalliance with Bosun, and he wanted to keep it that way. Miyoon was a problem that he didn’t want to solve. 

Furious as the Jeons were, they knew that an unwanted child was unlikely to receive the love he deserved. They’d agreed to take in Miyoon, and everything had been covered up to the point that Taehyung had been asked not to tell even his own nest. Given that it was truly none of their business, and Taehyung shouldn’t have known in the first place, Taehyung saw no reason to deny the request for privacy. 

It wasn’t significant enough news that it needed to be shared anyway. The Jeons were casual acquaintances to most of the nest, and there had never been any reason for Taehyung to tell them. 

“Oh, you know Miyoon.” Wonil’s tone could be mistaken for fond exasperation, but Taehyung knew him better. The dismissive wave of Wonil’s hand concealed his continued disappointment with the child he’d raised. “Planning the next party as usual.”

No matter how they tried, neither Wonil nor Aspasia had been able to connect deeply with Miyoon. The boy was convinced that his siren father was the reason he hadn’t inherited a magical gene, and resented everyone and everything that had ever come into contact with his birth father. 

To be honest, Miyoon might be correct. Little was known about how magic passed from one generation to the next, even with the aid of modern science. What little they did know confirmed that children born unplanned or unwanted were less likely to inherit their magic. 

Hoseok, an intimacy demon who had a vested interest in the relationship of intimacy, sex, and magic, theorized that it had to do with the way magic mingled during sex. The more closely aligned a couple was, the deeper their magic intertwined with each other. That bound magic would break off to join a fetus when a child was conceived, so the more magic was interchanged, the more was available for the fetus. 

Taehyung had listened to Hoseok go on about it for hours, questioning whether subsequent couplings after the baby had been conceived could affect the fetus and hypothesizing that magic bonded more deeply when a couple was actively trying for a child. It wasn’t something that had been tested hithertofore, and most of the questions went unanswered. 

The fact remained that “surprise” babies were less likely to be magical. From a young age, Miyoon had been aware that Bosun’s mate, Sangjun, was not his father, and that he had not been conceived in ideal conditions. The consequences of his parents' decisions played a heavy role in their son’s life. 

As far as Taehyung knew, Sangjun had been kind, though distant, to Miyoon, but his relationship with Bosun was strained. The child picked up even in his infancy that he was the cause of the tension between his parents. 

By the time Aspasia and Wonil got custody, the damage had been done. The already unstable child was further traumatized by the death of both his parents at once, only to be immediately abandoned by his sperm donor. Miyoon had never really recovered. 

Taehyung personally thought that part of Miyoon’s obsession with political influence was an all-consuming need to prove himself. The child Taehyung had occasionally babysat was always desperate to show that he was worth his birth father’s attention and that he hadn’t been tainted by his mother’s choices. The lukewarm reception of the immortal community only exacerbated things, and his marriage to Seolhyun was the icing on the cake. 

The human daughter of wealthy and aristocratic dragons, Seolhyun had standards . She’d lowered them to marry Miyoon, but stipulated that he would work hard to make up for his shortcomings. Miyoon’s quest for acceptance suddenly became a battle for high status according to her expectations for him. Hence the unending stream of parties. 

Despite his dislike of Miyoon, Jin perked up slightly at the prospect of an invitation. “Ah yes, should we expect an invitation soon?” 

Jin’s mood when confronted with a visit to the Jeon family manor had improved drastically after Junghyun was born. Unable to wait for the usual coming-of-age debut, Miyoon began to introduce Junghyun around at the tender age of four years old. The sight of the little boy alone on the dance floor after losing hold of his father had drawn Jin’s attention, and it hadn’t taken them long to form a bond. 

Junghyun was everything his father was not: kind, charismatic, smart, talented, the list went on. Though the child always seemed impatient and uncomfortable at the parties his parents threw, Jin quickly grew fond of him. The two of them often stole away to a corner of the ballroom to talk or (when Junghyun was younger) play more casually. 

They were careful to keep their friendship a private affair for both of their sake. Jin had no interest in being hounded by Miyoon for “connections,” and Junghyun would be an easy target for anyone trying to hurt Jin if their friendship had been public. It was better for all parties involved that they kept things quiet. 

It didn’t take much for a man of Jin’s talents to disappear when he wanted to anyway. Particularly when the people he was most trying to avoid were humans. 

Over the years, Jin had become something of a mentor to Junghyun, who had no interest in pursuing the socialite role his parents wanted. But the more time he spent with the young dragon, the more worried he looked when he came home. 

Jin had shared with his nest a few years ago that he felt Junghyun was keeping something from him. Something that he wanted almost desperately to share, but held back every single time. The nervous looks that Jin had seen him throwing at his parents whenever he got close to speaking worried the vampire. 

Even as an adult they held something over Junghyun. No matter how Jin urged the dragon to follow his dreams and study art, Junghyun instead allowed himself to be used by his parents for social capital. He was fully aware that he was being used and hated it, but refused to leave. Jin worried that something other than filial duty bound him to the house. 

Taehyung had offered to approach Aspasia and Wonil about it since he was closer to the older couple, but Jin hadn’t yet taken him up on the offer. Junghyun’s trip to America and his more relaxed attitude in recent years convinced Jin to wait it out. Now that Junghyun at least wasn’t living at home, the situation wasn’t as concerning. 

There was no guarantee that the older Jeons would be able to help anyway; they didn’t spend much time with Miyoon and his family nowadays. Despite their continued withdrawal from society, Wonil and Aspasia moved out of the manor when Miyoon got married. The image of a close knit family suited Miyoon, so they let people think they stayed with him, but neither of them could stand the bride their son had chosen. 

Not least because of Seolhyun’s demand for a dragon child. Babies were treasured by immortals who had such difficulty conceiving in the first place, and it was unfathomable that Seolhyun cared about something as small as the species of a child she gave birth to. Even Taehyung had been secretly relieved when Junghyun was born a dragon. Gods knew what Seolhyun would’ve done if Junghyun inherited any other genes. 

The two legacies were lucky to produce a magical child at all, and even more that Junghyun was a dragon. With Miyoon’s bloodline, a siren would’ve been just as if not more likely. 

Fully aware of this fact, Wonil and Aspasia were rightly horrified that species meant so much to Seolhyun. Every baby was a gift to them, and Junghyun was the only positive result of Miyoon’s marriage in their opinion. They returned mostly for Junghyun’s sake, and doted on him just as Jin did. In recent years, Miyoon’s parties had become an excuse for all three of them to see Junghyun. 

“Oh I’m sure you’ll be invited,” Aspasia said, shaking her head fondly. “Junghyun wouldn’t have it any other way. That boy turns into a little chick whenever he sees you.”

The sudden spike in attention and emotion from Jungkook almost knocked Taehyung off of his feet. Never, even in the depths of the terror Jungkook suffered at the mall, had Taehyung been so completely overcome by the nestling’s emotions. The reaction was deeper, more intricate and valenced than visceral. Something about Junghyun—

Junghyun. 

Suddenly the pieces snapped into place. 

“Hyung has been in America for months.”

Directed at Jimin, but heard by Taehyung lingering in the doorway anyway. 

“Both of my parents are legacies. They married in an attempt to revive their lines. They succeeded with my brother.”

Seolhyun and Miyoon. Legacies. Junghyun. A dragon. 

“My brother taught me some things.” 

Something kept Junghyun at home even years after he reached his majority and could’ve left. 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that.” 

An apology for a command that Taehyung had been forced to obey, but Taehyung had already heard the note of siren song. 

A Jeon. 

Jungkook was a Jeon. 

Chapter Text

Checking out in the middle of a conversation was never a good idea, but this was perhaps one of the worst times for Jungkook to lose focus. All night he had been surrounded by people he didn’t know—and frankly didn’t like very much—but it was only when he was confronted with people he actually did like that Jungkook’s brain chose to stop functioning. 

Because he liked these people. 

And they were his great-grandparents. 

Jungkook had never been allowed to meet his extended family. Most of his closer relatives died long before he was born, especially on the Jeon side of the family. Treasure hunting was not a particularly safe profession, and the Jeons were known for dying relatively young for dragons. While Jungkook was sure there were a few second cousins once removed floating around somewhere, they were all human and not important enough to gain the attention of his parents. 

Immortality made family relations strange and complicated. People sometimes drifted apart and met up again after long separations as though no time had passed. Maintaining a close-knit family unit over more than three or four generations became difficult even with the low fertility levels (and therefore small families) that immortals struggled with. 

Parents were very attached to their children, but siblings often came so many years apart as to lack the shared experiences that bonded them in mortal families. It was rather strange to get a new sibling when you were a few hundred years old, after all, and that happenstance wasn’t rare in immortal circles. 

Jungkook’s family was no different. A single “generation,” as in children born from the same parents, could span hundreds, if not thousands of years. Jungkook hadn’t extensively studied his family tree, but he knew that he probably had family out there that he’d never even seen pictures of.

There had never been any reason for Jungkook to worry about it, however, as he was never going to be allowed to meet them. For his parents to produce such a dramatic failure after their success with Junghyun was humiliating. They hadn’t seen the need to expose their embarrassment. 

As a child, Jungkook had poured over the family tree in their library and traced his fingers reverently over the few portraits of family members who may have died long ago, for all he knew. It was shameful, but a great many of his days had been spent daydreaming that one of them would visit unexpectedly, and see Jungkook, and want him. 

It was a silly fantasy that made his cheeks flush red and his chest ache sharply whenever he thought about it now. Even as little boy, he’d known how far-fetched the idea was, and mostly gave it up altogether after Junghyun gave him a description of their maternal grandparents. His brother’s face always got a pinched look when he talked about them, and his words were rather clipped, as though he’d rather think about something else. Junghyung featured heavily in Jungkook’s dreams of a real family; his unvoiced disapproval killed any interest Jungkook had in his maternal grandparents. 

In all his childish flights of fancy, however, it had never occurred to Jungkook that his great-grandmother, the person from whom he inherited his siren genes, would still be alive. Now he was kicking himself for such a stupid oversight. 

Sirens were not immortal, but dragons were. Of course his great-grandmother, married to a dragon, would not age and die before her mate. The magical connection between them would sustain her as long as Wonil was living. Not even death could separate those bound by such everlasting magical ropes.

The shock and absolute betrayal Jungkook felt when he realized exactly who he was speaking to surpassed anything he has experienced thus far in life. His life wasn’t exactly all sunshine and roses, and Jungkook had dealt with many unexpected bombshells, but nothing came close to this. 

This was… this was…

Discussion about a serious topic on which they did not agree, but could respect each other. 

Someone who could understand Jungkook’s feelings about sirens on a level that even Junghyun had never managed. 

A small bond of shared pain that had the potential to foster mutual support. 

A family that Jungkook had never been allowed to have. 

It was everything Jungkook had ever dreamed about on those lonely nights locked away on the other end of the manor where the laughter and music of the ballroom never reached. The dreams of a tiny child waiting for his brother to burst in and bring back light and life with his complaints about a world Jungkook would never see.  

He saw now. For all that it was nothing like he had imagined, a few things remained consistent with his childhood fantasies.  

Wonil and Aspasia’s acceptance of him, even as a stranger. How tenderly they held each other. The sincere friendship they shared with people Jungkook trusted. 

These Jeons, Jungkook’s great grandparents, would not leave a child to suffer alone. 

And that shattered everything Jungkook had thought he understood about his father. These were the people who had raised his father from an early age, and they were nothing like he expected. 

Jungkook had painted a picture for himself. A lonely childhood, much like his own, with a little boy pushed aside because he was born wrong . The early death of his parents no doubt left a huge mark on Jungkook’s father, and being taken in by such an old dragon— and it was always a dragon who took in Miyoon whenever his father mentioned the story, never a siren-dragon pair— couldn’t have been easy. Perhaps his father had been abused, or was afraid of what his grandparents would do to Jungkook if they knew he was a siren. 

Maybe it was childish, but Jungkook had convinced himself long ago that there had to be some kind of reason that his parents didn’t want to introduce him to anyone. That he had to be so thoroughly hidden away and kept as a dirty secret. It couldn’t just be that his parents didn’t want a siren child. They were responding to some outside pressure or trauma that they couldn’t control. It wasn’t their fault. 

Except…

Aspasia blew that out of the water. Wonil blasted it to bits. 

Wonil loved Aspasia. He loved her enough that their magic bound them together for all eternity. That wouldn’t have happened if something like species could ever come between them. Neither of them cared

Jungkook’s portrait of his parents toppled straight into a lake of emotions, and the paint peeled. Flaked. Chipped off until the upper layer washed away completely to reveal the true image beneath. The one that Jungkook had tried so desperately to conceal from himself. 

There was no reason. His parents just hadn’t wanted Jungkook. They’d been mortified. Disappointed. Like spoiled children given an unwanted gift, Jungkook’s parents threw him to an out-of-the-way corner and did their best to forget he existed. Jungkook was a kitten when they had asked for a puppy. It didn’t matter how small and vulnerable he was because all they saw was an unwanted failure. 

The final strand of innocent hope for an eventual relationship with his parents snapped. A wave of cold reality plunged Jungkook into the depths of his chaotic mind. The pressure of being submerged weighed down every thought until it felt like swimming through honey. In the first bolt of frigid understanding, Jungkook hadn’t even had time to take breath before descending. He flailed with his thoughts, grasping for some kind of buoy. 

The tentative brushes of his hyungs barely registered to his struggling mind, but thankfully they didn’t push. Instead, they turned their attention back to the conversation with Wonil and Aspasia, Jungkook’s great-grandparents, who he should also be listening to. 

A few lackluster contributions were all that was required from Jungkook, before Jin turned the talk in a different direction, away from Jungkook who couldn't currently censor himself enough to maintain his own privacy. Blurting out information on Yugyeom wasn’t smart when he was sure that Jin’s nest was at least passingly familiar with the Im nest. In the moment, the thought slipped out unheeded. 

The brief exchange of small talk gave Jungkook a few moments to pull himself together. He was by no means okay, but that could wait for when he had the space to process it. If his time with Reginald had taught him anything, it was how to compartmentalize his emotions. Now was not the time or place. 

With a monumental effort, Jungkook wrestled his brain into some kind of working order. Everything felt blank… incomplete, but at least he could force himself to pay attention to his surroundings. He could feel the worry and fear of his hyungs and hear the badly veiled distaste in Wonil’s voice when they spoke about Miyoon. 

Jungkook would feel pretty disgusted too, if a child he raised acted like Miyoon. A vague thought wandered across his mind: how did Miyoon treat Aspasia? Was he as cold and distant towards her as he was towards Jungkook? How much must that hurt her and upset Wonil?

A detached sense of curiosity and pain lingered at the edge of Jungkook’s mind as he worked to catch up with what was going on. 

Then, just as he began to pull himself together, Taehyung’s mind suddenly slammed shut as tightly as Jungkook imagined his own was barred. This was his first time on the receiving end of this sensation, and Jungkook was unprepared for the utter wrongness of it. There should be no wall there. Taehyung was no longer something entirely separate from himself and it felt like the pixie took a part of Jungkook with him when he withdrew into his own mind. 

The discomfort of the severance struck at the same time as Jungkook realized—

“Wait. Wait, we’re going to the manor? We’ve been invited—we’re going to—”

“Jungkookie, my treasure, you are not going anywhere you don’t want to, baby.” Jin’s voice was steady, but the undercurrent of alarm wasn’t lost on even Jungkook’s reeling mind. 

Any kind of response Jungkook may have wanted to make was immediately superseded by the sudden presence of Taehyung’s mind around his own. Instead of  linking them or even flooding into Jungkook’s thoughts, Taehyung enveloped them, sitting as a barrier between Jungkook and everything else. 

It was like nothing Jungkook had ever experienced before. All of Jungkooks interactions with the nest so far had been geared towards connection. There was an invitation for him to meet them halfway and an expectation of mutual bonding.

This was protection, pure and simple. Taehyung’s mind fell over him like a blanket on a cold night, heavy and guarding against the chill. The pressure spoke of safety and comfort. U nderstanding whispered in the folds of that warmth. 

Taehyung had connected the dots. Taehyung knew

In other circumstances, that would’ve sent Jungkook into a panic attack the likes of which he had not experienced in years. He had no way of knowing exactly what Taehyung had figured out, or how that would affect things, a cause for anxiety even on the best of days, let alone in this situation. 

Instead, Jungkook felt the sympathetic ache of Taehyung’s sorrow, the fire of his anger. A subtle promise lingered at the edges of Taehyung’s emotions, and Jungkook reached for it desperately, fully aware that his secrets were at the mercy of Taehyung’s discretion.  

Shielding their minds from the rest of the nest, Taehyung pushed a few memories at Jungkook: the moment he agreed to keep it secret that Jungkook was a legacy; their promise to keep Jimin’s secrets; the second Taehyung heard his voice weeks ago in the living room when Jungkook had slipped up the first time. 

Taehyung had already known. He knew, and he’d kept the secret because it wasn’t his to tell. Because it didn’t currently endanger Jungkook and the pixie understood that Jungkook’s decision to share his past with the nest was just that: his

His own shock was the only reason that Taehyung even slipped up enough to alert Jungkook of his revelation. Taehyung had not expected Jungkook to be a Jeon. It hadn’t even crossed the pixie’s mind because Tae was friends with Aspasia and apparently Jin was friends with Junghyun, but neither of them had ever so much as heard mention of another Jeon. In the heartbreak and disbelief of the moment, Taehyung didn’t have the presence of mind to keep his discovery silent. His first instinct was to protect Jungkook and that’s what he did. 

Albeit using a variation of a controversial method. As calming as it was to be coddled in Taehyung’s righteous ire and welling affection, wrapping someone in your mind was generally questionable. 

If Taehyung had formed a closed loop, this kind of ring around Jungkook’s mind could stifle Jungkook’s own boundaries in order to fit them into Taehyung’s borders. It had the potential to leave him trapped within his own thoughts, only able to interact with the outside world as it filtered through the lens of Taehyung’s mind. 

Jungkook had a vested interest in mind magic as a siren, and he’d read shelves of books on its various effects. Many of them mentioned the disadvantages to the victim in cases like this: disconnection from the real world, emotional manipulation, the inability to regulate his own emotions if it went on for too long. 

None of them had ever specified that an open arc was possible. Taehyung was not a wall behind which Jungkook was stuck. Their minds met like the boundary between oil and water, fluid and opaque, shifting with every thought. Small gaps like air pockets created enough of a distance between them that Jungkook could breath without the influx of Taehyung

The experience was strangely intimate, but not overwhelmingly so. Jungkook was confident in his control of his own mind, and he wouldn’t surrender his agency for any amount of comfort. Under no circumstances would he let himself become so entangled in someone else’s mind that he felt hemmed in. Taehyung didn’t enshroud Jungkook, or even push in any closer than he had before. This was just a shift in positions, an embrace when Taehyung usually sat beside him. 

It was fascinating, grounding, but not controlling. 

That being said, it was also incredibly distracting. Taehyung’s mind tripped around shock, anger, pain, and comfort, an anchoring point against Jungkook’s all consuming panic, but by no means calm. Jungkook couldn’t tell if the low murmur of soothing babble came from Taehyung’s mouth or mind as the pixie took his hand and rubbed it gently. 

“—think that’s enough for one night, Hyung. We went a bit too long without feeding the baby, so I’ll take him home to eat and rest. Yoongi-hyung said the party might be too much for him yet and I think we’ve pushed enough.”

Yoongi conveniently appeared out of nowhere on Jungkook’s other side, a concerned little frown on his face. Jungkook reached out physically with his hand and mentally, around Taehyung, in an attempt to smooth out the crinkle of worry. It was a feeble gesture given the state of his own mind, and Jungkook wasn’t sure how much it actually helped. 

One too many stressors in a row left Jungkook unable to process, and he was certain some of that must’ve reached Yoongi as well. The bonghwang reached back, only to run into Taehyung’s mind instead. A glazed look dulled Yoongi’s expression for a moment, but quickly cleared as he gently nudged Taehyung slightly to the side and pressed up against Jungkook as well.

The combined weight of both Taehyung and Jungkook’s emotions stunned Yoongi. The Second’s mind went worryingly blank and jerked back reflexively. In the few moments of connection, Taehyung’s control lapsed slightly, leaking numb shock to the entire nest. 

The sense of unreality grew as Yoongi regained himself enough to give their excuses and goodbyes to Wonil and Aspasia. His mind stubbornly returned to Jungkook’s, prepared this time for the slurry of feelings. This seemed to be some sort of cue because all of them surged forward at once, offering their love and support now that Yoongi had been accepted. 

In the rush of reassurance that followed, a half-hearted farewell wave was all Jungkook managed to muster before he was wheeled away. 

The next time he saw them, Jungkook would have to apologize for basically checking out of the situation. His first opportunity to actually speak to family members who didn’t immediately dismiss him, and he couldn’t even hold an intelligent conversation. 

But with the loss of emotional control from Taehyung, Jungkook was no longer sure which of them was clinging to the other. The concern of the rest of the nest lapped around them, and fed comfort into the core of Jungkook’s being, a steady, solid promise of acceptance that Jungkook so very badly wanted to believe. 

Already Taehyung had more information than Jungkook had been willing to give, and there was no telling what he would decide to do with it. Nothing to stop him from tearing this new life apart and shoving Jungkook back towards a familiar isolation. To commit himself to the rest of the nest in the same way would be a huge leap of faith, and yet… 

Instead of retreating to his own mind as he had done after being pushed off the roof, Jungkook opened himself and let them in. Let them wash through him and see who he really was. Let them judge for themselves what kind of person Jungkook was. 

The invitation went ignored. Like warm breezes blowing away the clouds, the six of them rippled over the surface of Jungkook’s mind, but never dove in. They respected Jungkook’s privacy and would wait until Jungkook was ready to share each part of himself individually, at the right time with no one pressuring him. 

The undercurrent of panic slowed. His stormy thoughts calmed. For the first time in a very long time, Jungkook felt completely at peace. 

Chapter Text

Everything in Jin screamed for him to go after Taehyung and Yoongi as they escorted Jungkook out. There was something wrong. Very wrong. 

It was concerning enough that Jungkook froze, that something about this conversation was so upsetting to him that he couldn’t deal with it, but Taehyung? Taehyung, who Jin had never once caught any less than immaculate in a social situation? Taehyung who once received news of a (much older) sibling’s death in the middle of an event and merely nodded with a still expression that concealed the fissure of loss in his mind? 

The nest had planned ahead in case Jungkook wasn’t able to handle the stress of this event. None of them had considered Taehyung because the pixie flourished in social situations. They couldn’t have predicted that the baby’s distress would bleed into Tae as well. 

Taehyung had realized something. That was plain to see. The Sixth’s quick mind had put together something the rest of them entirely missed. Something important

A low, banked frustration simmered at the back of Jin’s mind while he pasted a plastic smile on his face for the Jeons. To say that his little one was hurting would be an understatement, and Jin was stuck out of the loop and in the social circle. He couldn’t be there physically for Jungkook, and didn’t dare to push too close mentally. Not after the way that Jungkook had thrown himself open. 

None of them were laboring under the delusion that Jungkook had shared all, or even any of his secrets with them. They knew next to nothing about him, even if Jimin and Tae seemed to be a bit ahead of the curve in gaining the baby’s trust. 

For Jungkook to so suddenly offer his entire self up for the taking was alarming. There was a desperate kind of insecurity, a forced, eerily still calm, a tiny spark of true trust under it all. That flicker wasn’t large enough to melt the icy, detached anxiety that hummed menacingly in the undercurrent of every thought. 

Even if he had been willing to take advantage of the reluctant trust his treasure was showing them, Jin wouldn’t have known where to start untangling Jungkook’s emotions let alone what was causing them. Too many bright ribbons of feeling twisted the baby’s mind into a knot of vibrant, but incomprehensible strands. The babble of murmured secrets burbled indistinctly and without any sort of guidance. Understanding the impasse would take a greater familiarity with Jungkook than any of them currently possessed. 

Except, perhaps, for Taehyung. The pixie was almost overly protective as he defended Jungkook’s secrets more zealously than he had ever bothered to fight for his own. For all that Taehyung could be an open book, the Sixth was also their keeper of secrets. Each page of his mind encoded information in a cypher so ingenious and subtle as to be completely invisible underneath the facade of open information. 

Six was supportive and protective and intrinsically bonded with Seven. Taehyung’s mind meshed over Jungkook’s, a guiding presence in a moment when the baby felt afloat. 

Jin would never begrudge that connection and hoped to build his own bond with Jungkook until he could be trusted as Taehyung was. That being said, staying at the ball to patch over awkward social tiffs while his family was in pain nettled Jin. 

Not only did he resent that he couldn’t be at least physically present for Jungkook, but he was very plainly just tired of taking the forefront in immortal affairs. This entire event happened purely because people couldn’t stomach the idea that Jin had something entirely of his own that he didn’t plan to share with them. 

Yes, Jin would’ve eventually introduced Jungkook on his own because he was proud of his childe and wanted to introduce his darling to every part of his life,  but this was too soon. Jungkook needed space to open up and to recover from the trauma that he’d gone through. He needed time. 

They all did.  For immortals, time was simply not a precious commodity and it had been ages since Jin so tangibly felt the minutes slipping away too fast for him to keep up. Whenever he thought he had a handle on the situation, the ball curved at the last second and Jin missed the mark completely. 

The pressure of trying to integrate Jungkook into the larger immortal circle when they hadn’t even managed to fill the seams of their own relationships weighed heavily on Jin. Given the choice, he would’ve waited. 

But no, people couldn’t go more than a few days without Jin before they started to get suspicious. After so many decades at the top of the food chain, Jin thought a few months off was a small thing to ask. 

As much as Jungkook was correct that returning to their daily routines and not dwelling on could’ve beens was important, Jin no longer enjoyed his own work. That was not a new revelation, but the baby’s precipitous advent into their lives had thrown it into stark relief. 

Jin hated that he was often called from home when his darlings wanted him, the constant vistations felt invasive, and this thrice damned social maneuvering lost it’s sparkle long ago. Nothing should come between him and his nest. 

Work crept in insidiously around the edges, hanging on to the tails of Jin’s desire to protect and provide for his babies. Like ivy (like mold) it crept silently through Jin’s life once given a foothold. 

Now the suffocation had set in. The spacious room felt stifling, the silk against his skin inflexible, the company of his good friends needling only because Jin’s ability to handle social situations was suddenly maxed out. 

Part of his mind remained fixated on Jungkook, ever cautious to respect the little one’s privacy, but close enough to offer comfort and support. The rest of the world seemed desaturated and vague in the background. 

A small hand on his elbow checked Jin’s wandering thoughts. 

“I might kidnap you home myself soon, Hyung. If Yoongi-hyung and Taetae have the baby in hand, that means you’ll be free tonight.” The teasing lilt and suggestive smirk were a well-played act on Jimin’s part. It gave them an excuse to follow their nestmates home as soon as possible and soothed over some of the tension left from Jungkook’s unexpected dread of the Jeons’ home. 

The curve of his mind and the clutch of his fingers betrayed Jimin’s anxiety only to his nestmates. 

“You know how fledglings are,” Jimin continued with a charming smile at the Jeons. “Clingy.” A gentle squeeze to Jin’s elbow. “Coaxing him out of the house has been difficult especially with the circumstances…” Jimin tactfully trailed off, leaving just enough information to placate any hurt feelings but also peak interest. 

Fledglings did tend to be particularly attached to their sires. Or perhaps sires were a bit overprotective and fledglings picked up on that attitude. The transition to immortality was high risk and full of unexpected changes. No matter how well prepared a human thought they were, immortality would still pose unforeseen issues. 

Not the least of which was sanity. 

A look in his brother’s eyes that Jin had never seen before. Deep delight in the scarlet that soaked their skin. Crimson teeth flashing starkly in a feral grin. 

A biting nail in the crook of Jin’s elbow jolted him back to the present again. Jimin only dug it in a bit harder, face calm but mind insistently concerned. Jimin wasn’t as close to the Jeons and therefore deflected as he would for any other bystanders. 

If it had been anyone else, Jimin’s comment would’ve sparked a wildfire of rumors, but no further perusal. Prying into the business of others was both the modus operandi and a huge faux pas in elite circles. Information was the currency of success. 

The Jeons just looked mildly concerned. Aspasia had no doubt heard from Taehyung that they’d been otherwise occupied recently, but couldn’t have failed to miss that there was no mention of Jungkook when she met up with the pixie two months ago. Even if they were keeping a courtship quiet, she should’ve heard about it then, but only because she was a close friend. 

Debuting a fledgling to society before the six month mark was unheard of. Most sires waited purely for the confirmation that their childe would be able to handle the transition to immortal life. Training to comport oneself correctly in public also delayed introductions. 

Jungkook had been denied the opportunity because of the pressure on Jin’s nest . Any other sire would’ve been free to take their time, to make sure their childe was comfortable and mentally prepared to face the world. 

Resentment reared its spiteful face again. Jin’s mind felt overwrought, unstable and vulnerable. 

Jungkook wasn’t the only one who needed to go home.

Despite slamming his mind shut, Jungkook’s stunned betrayal and the aching sense of loss pervaded through all of them in the split second beforehand. Such a strong flurry of negativity followed almost immediately by Taehyung’s horror and distress inevitably impacted all of them. 

Jin had been on guard all night. Social events were unpredictable and there was still the possibility that Reginald may have had partners. Dialing his senses up to eleven and staying in tune with every one of his nestmates was exhausting and left Jin mentally strained. The double dose of shocked negativity hit him harder than the others and pushed him over the edge. 

It was why he couldn’t seem to hang on to any particular thread of thought, jumping wildly between emotions, concerns, and a past that he never, never wanted to remember

In moments like this, Jin usually turned to Yoongi. Millenia together of shared experience made the bonghwang most familiar to Jin and the most stable presence in his life. 

Yoongi had left, though, and Jungkook needed him. The baby always responded well to Yoongi, and might not want to be close to Taehyung after the pixie had accidentally stumbled across a secret that Jungkook wasn’t ready to share. Jin couldn’t pull Yoongi’s attention away when their little ones needed it. 

Without Yoongi to lean on, Jin suddenly noticed something else: it had taken him a few minutes to understand what was wrong with himself, but the rest of his nest had been quicker on the ball. Namjoon drifted away at the same time as Taehyung and Yoongi to greet the few remaining people they couldn’t afford to ignore. Hoseok drew the attention of most of the room with fire tricks that he rarely performed in public. 

And Jimin was here. At Jin’s side. Providing support before Jin even realized that he needed it. The flow of his conversation with the Jeons was natural and unencumbered by Jin’s lack of participation. His body was a grounding line of heat and comfort against Jin’s side. His mind curled solid around Jin’s own. 

Jin had never believed in the idea of a hierarchy to his nest. Despite the fact that he was nominally in charge and did have the final vote on issues that they didn’t agree on, there was no power differential between himself and his nestmates. They were equals in their relationships. 

That didn’t mean he interacted equally with all of them. Jin didn’t think that was a bad thing in a nest with so many people. Maintaining an identical relationship with each nestmate was unrealistic and defeated the point of adding people to the nest. When Jin accepted Hoseok, he wasn’t looking for a second Yoongi. Each of them brought their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The trick was in interacting with each person in a way that solidified the bonds between both individuals and their nest as a whole. 

Stability was not a characteristic of the relationship that Jin usually shared with Jimin. At least, not that he was on the receiving end of. Jimin was freedom, support, passion, comfort, spontaneity. As one of the babies, he wasn’t expected to ground any of his older nestmates. 

Relationships, like the people in them, should grow and change over time. The addition of an unexpected nestmate would always alter their bonds, and Jungkook’s traumatic background forced things to shift more quickly than they might have otherwise. 

Jin struggled with that transition as much as the rest of them. It felt like he couldn’t catch his breath, like every moment he turned and found something new to worry about. The uncertainty of the situation knocked his feet out from under him at every opportunity. 

Jimin had not been a source of stability for Jin, but Jin was floundering, and Yoongi was gone. In this moment, Jimin saw and responded instantly. Something shifted in their relationship. 

When Jimin joined them he was lost. There was no stability to his personality because his entire past was erased and Jimin had no idea who he was. Recklessness, anger, an undertow of despair and fear, and the wild enjoyment of true freedom characterized Jimin in the beginning. 

Watching him talk now, seeing his confidence and the subtlety with which he handled the situation, Jin was struck by how much the cherub had grown. Gone was the impetuous young man he had once been, and in his place a mature and capable individual. 

Jimin had moved beyond the point where he needed to see Jin as a perfect and unflappable leader. Jin was vulnerable and compromised in a room of people who would be happy to take advantage of the first sign of weakness, and Jimin stepped up with a steadying hand before Jin even knew he needed it. 

Pride swept away some of the cobwebs of distress in Jin’s mind. Patting Jimin’s wrist, he guided the cherub’s hand down his arm until he could link their fingers together. 

Jin didn’t settle. Not fully. But that was okay because he didn't need to. He trusted Jimin's ability to carve out a smooth path home.

All Jin had to do was let himself be led.

Chapter Text

Before the ball, Yoongi had thought himself prepared for any outcome. Nerves were likely, fear possible, and overstimulation definite. There were contingencies for social shunning, anxiety attacks, and crying fits. Every conceivable scenario, no matter its likelihood of actually occurring, merited some consideration from Yoongi. 

The dumpster fire that actually happened never even made it on his list. Likely because Yoongi had planned with Jungkook in mind; Taehyung was an unanticipated second player whose actions Yoongi hadn’t thought necessary to predict. 

Sure, the pixie was included in some evacuation plans in case Jungkook got overwhelmed, but Tae had always been a calm and calculating piece on the chessboard of social strata. The possibility that anything may put him in check had never crossed Yoongi’s mind. Perhaps it should’ve. 

Interpersonal relationships were Taehyung forte, which meant that he flourished in superficial social spheres, but also that he felt very deeply for those people he truly connected with. His strength in the face of his own struggles was contrasted with increased sensitivity towards the pain of his nestmates. In the short time that they’d had together, Taehyung had already become attached to Jungkook. Anything that seriously impacted the fledgling was likely to have some sort of effect on Taehyung as well. 

More than that, Taehyung was observant and quick as a whip. He clearly understood the full breadth of what the nestling was going through. Or at least, he understood more than the rest of them. It was little wonder that the Sixth would pick up on subtle cues that the rest of them had missed,  but concerning that whatever he found shook him so deeply that it knocked him out of his public persona. 

Visibly pulling himself together as Yoongi gently hustled the three of them out of the event, Taehyung clung fiercely to the baby both mentally and physically. Anyone who stepped too close amplified Taehyung’s protective instincts, although none of them seemed to recognize the sharp glint of suspicion in the pixie’s eyes. No one was allowed to come within two meters of Jungkook. 

Completely lost in their shared consciousness, Taehyung moved on instinct to guide Jungkook even when he was barely cognisant of their surroundings himself. Several of Yoongi’s “escape” plans involved Taehyung, and the pixie had been briefed beforehand. He played his part perfectly even through a mind fogged with emotion. 

The last time Taehyung had been so visibly and viscerally affected by bad news was the day Jimin explained how he had come to enter the nest. 

That discussion at least didn’t spring completely out of the blue. The pain and confusion were still raw for Jimin, who had fallen not more than a decade before. Close as he was to Jimin, Taehyung couldn’t fail to notice that something had happened. 

The day that Jimin told him the truth was bittersweet because Taehyung coveted that trust, but loathed what had happened to Jimin. The clues that Taehyung had inevitably picked up by sheer proximity synthesized under Jimin’s guidance to form a full picture that Taehyung didn’t like, but had already seen glimpses of. 

That sliver of control and preparation was entirely absent here. Taehyung, like the rest of them, respected Jungkook’s right to privacy and hadn’t actively tried to “solve” the mystery of the baby’s past. Stumbling across a piece of it unexpectedly was an upset that overthrew the entire board. 

It had been easier last time. The rest of the nest already knew Jimin’s story, perhaps even better than Jimin knew it himself at the time. They had been able to redirect when Taehyung wandered into subjects that were better avoided since they knew some of Jimin’s triggers. 

Now the entire nest was fumbling around in the dark. Taehyung just happened to be the first to find his way into a partially lit area, and any light at all was a blinding shock after pure blackness. 

Lingering in that liminal state of terbrosity, Yoongi didn’t know the best way to help. It was like playing “the floor is lava” blindfolded; there was no way to know when he was headed towards safety, and when a misstep might pitch them all into an precipitously steep drop. 

Yoongi’s only touchstone was that Jungkook was not keen on the idea of going to the Jeons’ home. That could mean anything or nothing: a trigger so specific as that particular location or so general as the stress of another party looming so soon after this one. Without further context, Yoongi had no way to narrow down what could’ve caused the little one to shut himself off. 

So he left Taehyung to handle it while they were still out in public. The baby had controlled his outward reaction fairly well for someone unaccustomed to the farce of high society, but any additional stress could push him over the edge. Better to leave consoling him to someone who better understood what had happened until they could get him home. 

Still, patience had never been Yoongi’s strong point. The moment they were out of the ballroom, he flared his wings and pulled on that little spark of fire within him. “Deep breath, my doves.” A hand on each of their shoulders and a single powerful flap bent reality around them. 

Bonghwang could not teleport. They were, however, creatures of the sky and light. Bending those elements to rip through space at the speed of light was a skill that took centuries to learn. Yoongi had mastered it long ago. 

A kaleidoscope of colors surged around them as Yoongi tore through the fabric of reality, dazzling but disorientating to most. A note of annoyance flickered from Taehyung, who disliked being in the air when he wasn’t in control of the flight. Jungkook’s fascination was strong enough to break through his dissociation and flooded Yoongi with a bright curiosity. 

The instant of travel was so fleeting that they had landed by the time Yoongi consciously recognized their thoughts. Sending a brief pulse of apology towards Taehyung, he curled delicately around Jungkook’s enthusiasm for just long enough to convey his own endearment. 

Sincere as the baby’s interest was, it was also facile. The fledgling latched on to the first stimulus that truly distracted him from his shock to avoid the difficult emotions in favor of the more positive novelty. 

Thinly veiling his trauma would not erase it, though. Yoongi didn’t intend to let his little one find that out the hard way. On the other hand, he also didn’t want to prompt another episode of stress-driven oversharing. The delicate line between engaging with the nestling in a way that allowed him to maintain his privacy and allowing him to hide from his problems had to be handled carefully. 

Despite his greater knowledge of the situation, Taehyung wasn’t in any position to help. The safety of their home and familiar magic around him effectively snapped the thin ropes around the pixie’s own feelings. His anger, sympathy, and betrayal swarmed forth in one painful hurdle. 

To compound the outburst, Jin’s unforeseen stress suddenly swept through Yoongi’s mind like a freight train. Their long centuries together had trained Yoongi to meticulously recognize the signs of strain in the eldest to the point where it rarely took him by surprise. This was, most unfortunately, one of those sporadic occasions. Yoongi probably should’ve seen it coming. 

Jin had good reasons for never wanting to sire a fledgling. While he’d taken the circumstances in stride and welcomed Jungkook without resentment, one of the most important and firm decisions of Jin’s life had been countermanded without his consent. 

It would be foolish of Yoongi to think that the stress of it all wouldn’t catch up with the vampire at some point, and he’d been expecting it. He just hadn’t anticipated that it would happen so soon. 

On the other hand, there hadn’t been more than a few moments of peace since Jin first felt the pull of his childe, and Jin needed a break. No one event had triggered such a deep response, but a gradual swell of tension and worry brimmed inside the vampire. That strain had finally taken its toll at the worst of times. 

Yoongi’s chest burned and his stomach tightened with anxiety because he couldn’t be there for Jin right now. The vampire wasn’t even reaching for him, knowing that Yoongi would have his hands full with their two nestlings. To be separated from Jin when his nestmate needed him was disconcerting and distressing for Yoongi. There had never been a time when Jin didn’t take precedence in his life. 

For a moment, he wavered, caught between his babies and his oldest love. Jin would never forgive him if Yoongi left their little ones right now, but Yoongi had been conditioned for centuries to respond instinctively to Jin’s discomfort. 

A soothing brush against his mind dissipated the beginnings of panic. Hoseok’s reassurance and Jimin’s encouragement rushed through him, backed by Namjoon’s gentle prodding. They spoke without words, filtering their thoughts through emotions in a way that conveyed their intentions and statements more clearly than words. “We’ve got this. We’re here for Jin. Focus on the babies .” 

Leaving their nestmates to care for Jin required a surprising amount of trust from Yoongi as well. It would be untrue to say that Yoongi was the only person Jin relied on, but the others usually stepped in temporarily until Yoongi could get to them. Even when he was unable to be present, their nestmates awaited Yoongi’s instructions on how to proceed if they encountered something they weren’t sure how to handle. 

This time he would be too busy with the little ones to intervene and would have to trust the others to bring Jin home to him. 

Already Jin was rallying, recognizing that despite Yoongi’s absence, he was not alone. The warmth of his affection and trust unfurled like a blanket over their bond. Yoongi wrapped it around himself and basked in it for a moment, then sent affirmation to the others. Jin would be fine with the three of them. Yoongi was on his own with their youngest two who were also the most distressed. That required all of his attention.

Bracing himself with the same support that the nest was offering Jin, Yoongi concentrated on Taehyung and Jungkook. 

In the brief moments that it had taken for the rest to marshal themselves behind Jin, the nestlings had found their feet again. Jungkook’s rising curiosity felt fever-bright, a shiny distraction from whatever trauma the ball had triggered. Taehyung’s mind wavered, righteous anger seeping through the cracks and his control slipping through his fingers like sand in an hourglass. Both of them needed to be settled. Grounded. 

Taehyung’s growing rage was both easier to respond to and more volatile if left unchecked, meriting first priority for Yoongi. While the pixie didn’t get angry often, they’d been together long enough that Yoongi knew how to handle his ire. A firm hand and blunt instructions would suffice for a time. 

Setting a hand on the nape of Taehyung’s neck, Yoongi spoke sternly, but calmly. “Taehyung, I need makeup wipes and then I want you to run a bath. Once you’ve got that going, change out of these clothes and cut up some fruit for me.”

As distanced and impersonal as the orders sounded, their clarity gave Taehyung purpose. His own mind was confused enough; flowery language and sophisticated expressions of comfort would only serve to add to that disorder. 

Busywork and easily accomplished tasks gave Taehyung something to do with his body while his mind worked through the situation. Once he’d figured out what was going on in his own head, Taehyung could articulate it far more easily to the rest of the nest.  

They generally preferred to have someone remain with the pixie as he worked, ensuring that Taehyung knew he had their love and care even while allowing him the space he needed to process. 

To substitute for that lack, Yoongi wrapped his mind around Taehyung’s and gently pulled it away from Jungkook’s. There was no need to protect the baby now. They were home in a safe space, and allowing the pixie to cling on longer would only facilitate the sense that something was amiss for both nestlings. Yoongi substituted his own guidance for his nestmates, and trusted that his commands would ground Taehyung until someone could physically join him. 

A short, sharp nod was the pixie’s only reply. Yoongi had expected nothing more. With a tight squeeze to the Sixth’s neck, Yoongi let him go. Taehyung strode away, posture stiff, but determined and confident. Now that he had a direction, he could handle himself. 

That left Yoongi with the littlest one who had the misfortune of being both the most fragile and the most unknown. The manic curiosity would have to go, but Yoongi was taking a shot in the dark on how to make that happen without tipping the baby into his earlier panic. 

Thus far the fledgling had responded well to being taken care of. When things went wrong, skinship, companionship, and leadership tended to settle Jungkook. It assured him that they were invested in his well being and allowed him to turn his own focus towards working through his thoughts. 

Like Taehyung, Jungkook needed space to process his feelings. Unlike Taehyung, who channeled mental distress into physical fidgeting, Jungkook checked out entirely from his body. The Sixth became hyper-aware of his surroundings and physicality while the Seventh dissociated. 

After the incident at the mall, the baby had latched onto Yoongi with an iron grip and trembled like a leaf in a hurricane, but was otherwise completely still. It took prompting to make him eat and care for himself.

Interacting with the nestling forced his attention back onto his body and grounded him. It was probably why Jungkook had handled his first meeting with the nest so well; Jin, Hobi, or Yoongi was touching him the entire time. 

Yoongi had also observed that the little one adored water. Disappearing to the lake aside, Jungkook spent hours in the bath or shower if no one dragged him away for something else. If their water wasn’t heated by magic, Yoongi would’ve dreaded their electric bill since the baby moved in. 

Water was stimulation and comfort in one for the fledgling. 

The trick would be redirecting his bouncing mind enough to appreciate the comfort in the first place. 

Theories of magic, musings on the nature of Yoongi’s magic, and an ever-present undercurrent of awe babbled like a brook through Jungkook’s mind. If Yoongi had been even a little less familiar with the baby, he might’ve missed the yawning whirlpool of negativity that the little stream fed into. Jungkook was certainly doing a good job of pretending it didn’t exist. 

“Do you always fly like that?” The question burst out as soon as Yoongi turned towards the little one. “Is it always so colorful? Your magic is linked to both space and light; are you tearing through the fabric of space or harnessing the speed of light?”

“Jungkook.” The single, heavy word dammed the flow. “Baby, as intelligent and interesting as those questions are, I think we both know that you wouldn’t retain a single answer I could give you right now.”

Dead silence and flushed cheeks answered him. Until— “Nuh-uh! It’s the first time you’ve flown me, I’m just curious!”

The fledgling quivered with emotions questions, but Yoongi’s ever so slightly stern gaze pinned him in place. For a few moments, Jungkook actually resisted Yoongi’s effort to center him. The baby held his stare boldly with a little pout and a tide of inquiries seething through his mind. The depths of his mind were dark and painful. Jungkook would rather float on the artificial but buoyant bubbles of intellectual discourse.

It was a coping mechanism that Yoongi wasn’t willing to allow him. Sooner or later, Jungkook would run out of things to distract him and crash hard. Or he would bury his hurt only to trip over it at a time when he wasn’t expecting it. Ignoring the issue was never the solution when the impact was so great. 

So despite his sympathy, Yoongi raised a single unimpressed eyebrow and folded his arms. 

“Jungkook, you have flown with me before.”

Doe-eyes widened further, and the nestling finally glanced down. His shoulders hunched, and one little foot scuffed the ground. Yoongi’s heart melted, but ached. 

This was the first time the baby had actively defied them or been even slightly uncooperative with any of their nest. It was a show of trust and a breakthrough that Yoongi was proud of. He just wished it had been under better circumstances. 

In an ideal world, Yoongi could coo and playfully tease at how easily the little one’s adorable attempt at contrariety faded. Now insecurity and deep hurt flooded in as soon as the tide of Jungkook’s thought changed. 

Bright tears sprung to his eyes and a shaking hand rose to tug at his hair. Yoongi caught it halfway there and held it. 

“I won’t ask you to tell me what’s wrong, dear heart, but I also can’t just pretend nothing happened. Your emotions are valid and deserve care and attention from you as well as from us.”

“I don’t want to wallow. I—It hurts.” Delicate fingers flexed under his grasp, but Yoongi just held them tighter. 

Yoongi nodded, forcing words around the lump in his throat. “I know, little love. But there’s a difference between wallowing in unproductive thoughts and taking the time to process things in a healthy way. Throwing aside your pain for momentary distractions doesn’t solve anything if it’s going to resurge the moment your mind is free. You have to feel it first before you can let it go.”

“It’s so much, I don’t—I don’t know where to even begin knowing how to feel.” The shaking grew more pronounced. 

“That's why you need to take a breath and have some quiet time. Your mind’s purling right now, darling.” Yoongi raised his free hand to cup Jungkook’s head. “No one’s expecting you to tame it into any sort of sense, but you should listen to what it has to say.”

The first tear caught on Yoongi’s thumb when he shifted his hand down to frame the baby’s face instead. For a few moments, Jungkook met his gaze again, searching this time instead of challenging. Yoongi poured all of his sincerity, concern, and affection into their bond and dropped Jungkook’s hand to fully cup his face. Tears trembled on long lashes, and the fledgling latched on to both of Yoongi’s wrists. There was a second where neither of them breathed.

Then the tears fell. Jungkook hurled himself against Yoongi’s chest, burying his face in Yoongi’s neck and teething in a vain attempt to muffle his wails. Wrapping an arm around Jungkook’s too slim waist and planting the other hand on the back of the baby’s head, Yoongi held him. It might not be much, but it was all he could do. 

In a few moments, the violence would subside. Tears would peter off into sniffles. Yoongi would lead the baby inside to wash his face and have a calming bath. There would be food and cuddles and the steady comfort of mental support. 

For now, they would weather this storm. 

Chapter Text

It had been years since a party stressed Namjoon out as badly as this one did. These things were supposed to be route by now, a routine so practiced and ingrained as to be almost thoughtless. This level of emotional strain was unprecedented within the last several hundred years at least. 

Introducing a new member of their nest always caused a certain amount of tension, but it hadn’t been this bad since Jimin’s debut. Taehyung’s relation to fae royalty, as distant as it was, meant that he’d practically grown up at this type of event, but Jimin had been reeling and raw when he first entered the scene. Unwilling to be left behind while his hyungs attended events, but unprepared for the dazzle of high society, Jimin had caused quite a few headaches in his earlier days. 

Jungkook was emotionally vulnerable in a different way. Jimin’s defensiveness and closed off nature had protected him where Jungkook’s eagerness to please did not. The desire to be liked and to do well haunted Jungkook, but Jimin had rightly been too focused on figuring out his own head to care. 

The severity of the little one’s reaction to the Jeons was beyond what any of them had feared. 

For all that Jungkook’s mood had vacillated wildly over the mere two weeks he’d been with them, he’d still been far more emotionally stable than they’d expected of a newly turned vampire ripped from his home and experimented upon against his will. That was not even accounting for the attack at the mall. Given the circumstances, the fledgling’s ability to adapt and handle new environments and relationships was incredible. 

Aside from taking a few days to process the assault, Jungkook had recovered as though nothing had ever happened and even helped Jin , his Sire , to move past the trauma. His emotional maturity grounded all of them and allowed the nestling to work through his feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them. 

Which is why it was so mind-boggling to Namjoon that the Jeons could cause this kind of response. Jungkook could be pitched off the roof and ready to walk it off a few days later, but a casual conversation with the kind old couple was too much for him to handle? It made no sense. 

The mystery of it all baffled Namjoon, but it wasn’t his first priority. Yoongi was taking care of the baby, and they didn’t want to overwhelm him all over again, so Namjoon didn’t need to worry about them right now. 

Getting Jin home took first priority. Where Jungkook’s distress had been anticipated, Jin’s was entirely out of left-field. It was just as important for them to support their leader as their baby, so Namjoon focused on that as they said their goodbyes ducked out of the party uncommonly early. 

It would be difficult to miss that something had gone wrong, and whispers were already making the rounds the moment Yoongi accompanied the nestlings out. It did nothing to improve Jin’s mood. The vampire’s posture grew uncomfortably perfect, shoulders back and chin up with his jaw clenched so tight it was causing a headache, until they stalked out of the venue and teleported back home. 

Jin’s stride didn’t falter as he swept into the house and up to his room, leaving his fledgling to someone else for once. Yoongi already had Jungkook in hand, and interrupting them now would not benefit the baby. 

Namjoon traded a look with Jimin and Hoseok and a brief mental suggestion. They branched off without argument, the other two following Jin while Namjoon went to Taehyung. 

None of them were a fan of leaving the Sixth alone when he was upset. Some people needed space after a shock, but Taehyung flourished best with direction and support. Not engagement, because that distracted him from his own thoughts, but attention. 

Yoongi’s instructions would only keep Taehyung busy for so long, and Namjoon was eager to get to him before the pixie ran out of busywork. Pulling his tie loose and rolling his shoulders to relieve some of the tension, Namjoon strode into the kitchen where he felt Taehyung was. 

The pixie’s posture was rigid, back ramrod straight and fingers clenched around the knife he was using to cut up mango. The rhythmic thump of the blade against the cutting board was just a bit too harsh in the silence of the room. Taehyung didn’t greet him. Najoon hadn’t really expected him to. Each little task they assigned to Taehyung acted as a focus, almost like a meditation. Holding a conversation forced him out of that concentration. Touching the nestling’s mind gently to offer support unobtrusively, Namjoon lounged against the kitchen island to watch him work. 

An iota of the stress in Taehyung’s body relaxed. It was all about balance when it came to dealing with the Sixth’s stress. Namjoon had learned the hard way that Taehyung liked to work through his emotions within himself. By trial and error, they discovered that the pixie didn’t particularly enjoy being by himself while he did it. The security of having a hyung there to lead him physically as he wandered mentally settled him. 

Silence reigned and the pile of prepared fruit grew steadily. The air gradually shifted, and Namjoon crept closer. The knife didn’t hit the cutting board quite so hard, and a thoughtful expression stole over the blank mask of Taehyung’s face. Sadness crept in slowly around the edges. 

Taking the shift in emotions as his cue, Namjoon set a hand on the pixie’s shoulder. The knife came to a rest. Taehyung sighed. Angling his body towards Namjoon, the Sixth rested his head on Namjoon’s chest. A fine tremor worked its way through Taehyung’s body, but he still didn't speak. 

That was a bit concerning. When Taehyung started to open back up again, that usually meant he was ready to share his thoughts with someone else. Talking things through helped him cement what he was really thinking after he already done most of the heavy lifting himself. 

The continued reticence was odd. 

Running a hand through Taehyung’s hair, Namjoon considered for a few moments. Taehyung’s continued inertia forced a change of plans. 

“Let’s go change.” Dropping a hand on the back of Taehyung’s neck, Namjoon guided him upright again. 

Taehyung wasn’t quite ready to share yet, but the detachment of his current task clearly wasn’t working for him either. Perhaps involving himself more physically without the pressure of words would help. 

The house hummed around them as they walked, the air strangely charged. If Namjoon didn’t know better, he would say it felt…protective? None of the nest was feeling particularly protective right now. The time for that had passed, and they were more focused on comfort and connection right now. Where was this feeling coming from? 

That was another question to be answered later, however. Taehyung’s fingers wound into Namjoon’s suit and urged him on. 

Taehyung’s bedroom was dark when they entered, and Namjoon purposely didn’t flip on the overhead light. The pixie could be sensitive to overstimulation and softer lights were better. 

The light spilling in through the huge french windows was barely enough for Namjoon to pick his way through the piles of clothes that were left on the floor from the pre-event outfit changes. Admittedly, he still stumbled over a few things, but he made sure to stay far away from the small studio area set up near the windows in a position to catch the sunlight. Damaging one of Taehyung's creations was a far more serious error than stepping on some clothes, and the lights were in the opposite direction anyway. 

Breathing a sigh of relief, Namjoon stopped before the nest of cushions that Taehyung used as a bed. “Go pick something for me to wear,” Namjoon directed as he pushed aside the canopy and plugged in the fairy lights strung around the room. Sure, it was convenient to have the end of the cord right by the bed so Taehyung didn’t have to get up to turn them off before bed, but it was a tripping hazard as far as Namjoon was concerned. 

Taehyung’s fingers flexed on his suit, uncertain and clingy for a moment, but the pixie eventually drifted towards the hardwood chest of drawers on the wall next to the nest. Most of Taehyung’s clothes belonged in the walk-in wardrobe on the opposite side of the room, and it was both endearing and concerning that Taehyung chose the closer option. The unusual attachment told Namjoon that the physical contact was a good idea, but he wasn’t too sure about the next part of his plan. 

Taehyung’s headspace while he was like this was something very close to submission. Specifically service submission. They’d never addressed it because it hadn’t really been necessary. This worked for the pixie, and putting a label on it might complicate things. 

What Namjoon was about to suggest, however, ventured deeper into the territory of submission or caretaking. None of them were strangers to experimenting in bed, but it rarely seeped into their daily lives, especially not when one of them was in such a vulnerable headspace. Initiating a more traditionally submissive act right now had the potential to upset Taehyung further. 

On the other hand, tried and true methods had failed for the first time. Physical contact was more effective, but Taehyung still needed the “task” aspect of things which meant Namjoon had to improvise. Trying new things always had the potential to cross a line, this no more than anything else. 

The scrape of the dresser drawer as Taehyung shut it brought Namjoon out of his thoughts just in time for the pixie to souffle across the plush carpet towards him. A crease of stress lined the nestling’s forehead as he held out the clothes, and that made up Namjoon’s mind. 

“Undress me?” It came out more questioning than he meant it to. 

Whether or not Taehyung would even recognize this as submission was debatable. It was common enough for them to help each other with clothing, either during sex or when one of them was injured. Choosing clothes and dressing each other was an intimate and loving act for them, an intrinsic part of caretaking. The issue of the label might be entirely within Namjoon’s head. 

There was a flicker of surprise at the unexpected request. The clothes hovered awkwardly between them for a few moments until Taehyung’s face smoothed out again and his lips quirked up. 

Nodding, the pixie dropped the clothes on the cushions and reached for Namjoon’s tie. His skilled fingers made quick work of the knot, and Namjoon’s jacket was shucked quickly off his shoulders seconds later. 

Taehyung’s touch was firm, but lingering as he continued unbuttoning Namjoon’s shirt and proceeded onto his pants. A thumb soothed over Namjoon’s collarbone. Taehyung’s hands stilled momentarily on his hips before dragging down his pants.

The slight awkwardness of the first few moments faded quickly into the comforting familiarity of physical intimacy. And this was more intimate than anticipated. 

Perhaps it was the way Taehyung focused so absolutely on Namjoon. That was expected, the whole point of the suggestion, in fact, but it wasn’t something Namjoon was used to. For all that he was comfortable with his body and his appearance now, Namjoon wasn’t particularly proud of it. He didn’t encourage his lovers to spoil him, didn’t like for them to worship him the way they did each other and the way he did them. 

To have one of them so intensely attentive to his body, even if it wasn’t in a sexual manner, was oddly exposing. The experience was not uncomfortable or negative as Namjoon might’ve expected, though. The love, devotion, and soft adoration in Taehyung’s every move were too obvious to miss, and they acted as sutures to old wounds that Namjoon didn’t even realize he still had. 

The mask-like vacancy that marked Taehyung’s need for space was completely absent, replaced by building grateful appreciation and a staggering depth of tenderness. 

By the time Namjoon was redressed in comfortable home clothing, Taehyung was relaxed. Open and ready to talk. Some sort of decision had been reached. 

The pixie made to step away and grab his own clothes, but Namjoon halted him with an arm around his waist. As much as they did need to have a serious conversation, the vulnerability and intimacy of the moment hadn’t yet faded for him. He wanted to return the favor. 

Taehyung seemed to understand without words, perhaps skimming Namjoon’s mind, perhaps reading his intentions in his posture. They knew each other so well that it could be either. 

With a gentle smile and a little kiss, Taehyung stood pliantly by his bed and let Namjoon grab his clothes and makeup remover. Silence reigned as Namjoon carefully cleaned the product off and applied a moisturizer before turning to the clothing. Taehyung’s hand was never far from Namjoon’s body, sitting comfortably on his hip or burying itself in his hair when Namjoon ducked closer to squint at the knot of the tie. 

It was at that moment that Taehyung chose to speak. “I’m not sure what to do.” The words were quiet, and his eyes were soft, but sad when Namjoon glanced up at him. 

“I figured out one of Jungkook’s secrets. Probably his biggest secret, if I’m being honest,” Taehyung continued without prompting. Namjoon returned to the knot, removing the pressure of scrutiny. 

“We refused access to his secrets,” he pointed out. “We would rather hear them from him when he’s ready.”

“I know, but that’s not—There’s more to the picture. I’m not sure anymore that that’s what’s best for him.”

Namjoon considered his words carefully, unwilling to discourage Taehyung’s truthfulness or trapple over Jungkook’s agency. For all that the fledgling was young, he was a full adult and capable of making his own decisions about his own life. There was no accusation in his tone when he spoke, but an invitation for Taehyung to work through the complexity of the issue in this safe space with Namjoon before taking action.

“Who are we to decide what’s best for Jungkook? He’ll spend the rest of his life with us, but we’re just at the beginning of our path together. If we start making those kinds of choices for him now, when do we stop? When he’s older? When we know him better? It seems like a slippery slope.”

“I’m afraid that he’s going to get hurt.”

Namjoon’s head snapped up, and he flinched. That seemed to come out of nowhere because although Jungkook was rather closed about his past, he didn’t seem too worried that it might catch up with him. His attitude towards it had struck Namjoon as quite similar to his own relationship with his early life; it wasn’t something he liked to remember and he certainly wouldn’t go around sharing it with just anyone, but there was nothing that would come back to hurt him. 

“I don’t think he realizes the implications of some of the things he’s hiding. Or if he does, he doesn’t want to acknowledge it. The situation is so complicated on so many levels, and things could get out of hand really quickly with no warning. I’m—I’m really worried, Hyung.”

Moving down to unbutton Taehyung’s pants so that he would have something to do with his hands, Namjoon considered. “Is there a risk to the nest?”

It would be one thing if all of them were endangered, but Namjoon thought he already knew the answer to that. For all that he liked his privacy, everything Namjoon knew about Jungkook suggested the baby would sacrifice it in a heartbeat if it jeopardized any of them. 

“No, I don’t think so.” The thoughtful tone to Taehyung’s answer was significantly less self-assured than Namjoon thought it would be. “At least not directly.”

That could mean anything or nothing, Namjoon thought as he picked up Taehyung’s nightshirt. Taehyung could have a specific scenario in mind that may impact all of them, but it could also be argued that a threat to any of them was a threat to all. Their bond was so close that what affected one almost invariably spilled down to the rest of them.

The lack of context impeded Namjoon’s ability to correctly assess the severity of the situation. For now, he would have to trust Taehyung’s tentative “no.”

“Well then I think you should respect Jungkook’s decision not to tell anyone.”

Even as he said it, Namjoon knew Taehyung had already come to this conclusion himself. If Taehyung had decided to spill Jungkook’s secret, he wouldn’t have drawn it out like this. The fact that he was here, talking to Namjoon, rather than in Jin’s bedroom rousing their leader with his discoveries meant that Taehyung had already worked through the pros and cons and found more cons. This conversation wasn’t about disputing the point so much as reinforcing Taehyung’s own decisions.

 It was also about communicating as much information as possible without breaking Jungkook’s trust. Low though Taehyung thought the possibility of the nest being harmed was, it still existed. It was important for them all to be aware so that they would remain vigilant and wouldn’t be caught off-guard. By working through the issue with Namjoon, Taehyung was indirectly warning him, keeping him abreast about possible threats. 

There was no real question about violating Jungkook’s privacy here in Namjoon’s eyes, just reassurance and veiled forewarning. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to add the reasoning behind his own refusal. 

“To tell us now would set him back mentally and emotionally. Even if you saved him from the possibility of emotional pain down the line, you would break any trust he’s starting to build for us and that could irreparably damage our relationships with him forever.”

No matter how he considered the issue, it always came down to agency. Jungkook’s agency had been torn from him repeatedly, and ripping away what little he was able to cling to was a recipe for disaster. Quite aside from the harm to their bonds with him, it may crumble any confidence and security that Jungkook was starting to build for himself. That could be detrimental to his mental state for years to come. 

“I agree.” A wry smile stole across Namjoon’s face as his assessment of the situation was confirmed. Taehyung’s hands fell on Namjoon’s shoulders to stabilize himself as Namjoon helped him step into his pants. “But that doesn’t do anything for my anxiety.”  His mouth twisted sadly. “I don’t want to see him hurt, and I’m way out of my depth. I’ll offer him whatever knowledge I have or can find for him, but I can’t ask anyone for advice.”

Running his hands through Taehyung’s curls, thankfully product free for this event, Namjoon kissed the pixie. 

“Talk to Jungkook. You don’t need me to tell you that spilling his secrets without warning wouldn’t end well, but you could explain to him what you’re so concerned about and why you think it would be better to tell someone else. Let him know that you’ll support him no matter his decision, but present your view of the situation as well.”

Taehyung bit his lip anxiously and nodded slowly, then broke into a weak smile. “Is this what it’s like, having a dongsaeng?”

A bark of laughter burst from Namjoon at the dry humor.

“You have no idea . Your life as a hyung has just begun. Just be glad that you only have one dongsaeng to give you grey hairs” 

“You’ve never had a single grey hair in your life,” Taehyung accused, pulling at one lock of it to prove his point. 

Wrapping an arm around Taehyung’s waist, Namjoon softly tackled both of them back into the cushion nest. “I dye them.” They wrestled for a few minutes, rolling around more to get comfortable than anything else, and Namjoon was thankful for the playful moment. 

Their problems were nowhere near solved, but the entire nest was settling down as a quick check of their mental connection showed. Jimin, Hoseok, and Jin had retreated to Jin’s room and were slowly dropping off into sleep. Jungkook was teething again, mouthing at Yoongi’s neck and occasionally taking a lazy sip of blood. 

There was a fragile sense of peace. Namjoon savored it while it lasted. Who knew what the morning would bring? 

Chapter Text

Morning couldn’t come soon enough for Taehyung. Talking with Namjoon had calmed him down some, reassured him that he was making the right decision, but his mind whirred at light speed. Not matter how he tried to calm himself sleep refused to come. Small details that he’d picked up on over the last few weeks cycled again through his thoughts, fitting into place like individual tesserae that combined to create the mosaic of Jungkook.

Around dawn, Taehyung gave up on rest. The house was silent around him as he slipped carefully out of bed and wandered aimlessly through the halls. Even Namjoon, typically the earliest riser, lay abed longer than usual after the stress of the night before, though Taehyung could vaguely feel that Hoseok was awake. For a few moments, he contemplated going to find his hyung, but something stopped him. 

The still of the grey morning felt like the entire world was holding its breath, suspended and waiting. For what, Taehyung couldn’t guess. There was an odd sense of melancholy and pain blended out into strands of aching sadness. The feelings were so pervasive and subtle that Taehyung at first thought they were his own, baseless as they may seem. Emotions were tricky like that, could sneak up on a person when they least suspected it. The lack of sleep and chill of the morning inspired a sense of unreality and disconnection that made it difficult to sort out what he was feeling and why. 

The lull of dull sadness was almost soothing. Familiar and calm despite its depth. An old and close friend, if not a kind one. 

“Your touch with magic is very delicate, and seven is the number connected to thought.” Jimin’s words floated back to Taehyung and jolted him out of the near trance he’d fallen into. Dissociation might be inexplicable for Taehyung, but for Jungkook… Closing his eyes, Taehyung followed the pull of the emotion mentally and physically, sliding silently through the house until—

The sitting room was cold. Colder than the temperature controls of the house should’ve allowed. At first, Taehyung thought Jungkook had opened the french windows he stood in front of. An aura of white power shot through with delicate stands of color lit Jungkook from within, blurring the edges of his figure until he seemed to blend into the glass and the world beyond it. Then the fledgling shifted, and Taehyung saw his fingers pressed against the pane. Saw the frost spreading from them. 

“It’s wrong.” Jungkook didn’t turn to look at him, just stared out towards the lake in the distance. One finger briefly lifted to tap against the delicate ice. “None of my family are ice dragons. They all breathe fire.”

It was the most spectacular display of raw magic Taehyung had seen from the little one. Instead of the destructive force that usually heralded a break in magical control, this was a scene of aching beauty and intricacy. Jungkook’s power roared up like a tsunami to swallow him, but he bent it to his will by channeling it into complex spellwork. This was pure strength and control even in the moments when Jungkook couldn’t suppress his magic. 

“I know.” The frost crept further into the room as Taehyung did, matching him step for centimeter until the ceiling iced over, elegant couches were covered, and Taehyung stood at Jungkook’s side. 

“You know more than I do.”

Anger cracked the spell of the nestling’s dissociation, and the frost along with it. The ice splintered off in all directions like jagged rays of a spurious sun with the golden base of the chandelier at the center. 

“I didn’t know about you.” That still boggled Taehyung’s mind. How, how had Miyoon managed to hide away a child so well that even Aspasia, the woman who had raised him, had no idea that Jungkook existed? It seemed purely impossible. 

Watching Jungkook’s face contort with bitterness, Taehyung had to admit it wasn’t as unlikely as it may seem on the surface. After Junghyun’s birth, Miyoon had all but cut Aspasia and Wonil out of his life. The political leverage he got from being close to the old couple was no longer worth faking affection now that Miyoon had a dragon of his own to shape and manipulate. Jin’s efforts had managed to curb some of the human’s more damaging influence, but Junghyun had never interacted much with his great-grandparents. 

It wasn’t completely impossible that Jungkook had gone completely overlooked the few times the old couple had been back to visit, especially if the fledgling had been as isolated as Taehyung suspected. The manor was enormous, after all, and Wonil and Aspasia rarely stopped by outside of parties. 

A cracked laugh forced itself from Jungkook, slight hysteria leaking through along with ironic amusement. “My own brother wouldn’t have known about me if he wasn’t a curious and disobedient little imp. Why would you be told?”

Images flashed through Taehyung’s brain, fuzzy with age but edged with warmth. A small face peeking through the bars at him, big brown eyes wide with childish wonder and delight. There was cooing and a toy waved playfully, catching his attention with it’s bright tinkle as delicate as the older child’s laughter, only to be yanked sharply back. The face vanished, torn away by a dark figure with a sharply scolding tone despite the lack of distinguishable words. The room went dark and everything was suddenly cold. 

“Reginald showed me that.” The memory, Jungkook’s memory, cut off as quickly as it had come. “I didn’t remember it before he tore through my mind and ripped it from my subconscious.” 

It had to be from Jungkook’s infancy. Junghyun’s face was too young, and the slurry of nonsense words sprung from Jungkook’s inability to process language at such a young age. 

Filing away the information that Jungkook had been mentally violated as well for another time when the fledgling was less shaken up, Taehyung turned the images over in his brain again. “Junghyun found you while he was playing. They didn’t want him to meet you.” 

It fit a few more tiles into place. Junghyun’s silence on the topic of his brother had been the most puzzling to Taehyung. There was ample opportunity in the countless hours the young dragon had spent with Jin to share the presence of another child. A dark part of Taehyung wondered what must’ve been threatened to keep Junghyun quiet. 

This memory gave him a partial answer. From the moment he found Jungkook, Junghyun must’ve understood that something was wrong. Even at five or six, Junghyun had been shockingly clever as Jin had delighted in telling Taehyung. He would’ve known it wasn’t normal to keep a baby a secret even from older siblings. The harsh scolding was probably the most severe the Jeons had ever gotten with their darling son and likely instilled a sense of danger and fear in Junghyun from the beginning. 

“They didn’t want a second child. Ambitious as my mother may be, even she knew the odds of having a second dragon child as legacies.” Jungkook’s shoulders hunched and he unconsciously canted towards Taehyung’s warmth beside him even as frost crept down from the ceiling and up from the ground to cover the entire room with its bitter chill. “I was never supposed to be born, let alone—” 

The words cut off, but Taehyung picked them up. “A siren. You’re a siren, and Miyoon hates sirens because of his own father.”

It explained so much: Jungkook’s ability to use magic, his specialization in magics of the mind, why he didn’t want to return to his family, his low self-esteem, the hints of previous abuse or neglect Taehyung had glimpsed every now and then. A neat tie in for most of the loose ends that had been plaguing Taehyung. 

“I’m lucky they didn’t abandon me.” Jungkook’s tone was flat, no trace of either irony or gratitude. It was impossible for Taehyung to decipher what the little one’s perception of his family was, or if Jungkook even knew how he felt. 

“Are you?”

A pause. Taehyung’s fingers felt numb with the cold as it thickened in the air. 

“No.” Jungkook’s voice cracked and snow fell like tears although the fledgling’s eyes were dry. “I always—I always told myself that I was, but—Aspasia—”

“She would’ve loved you,” Taehyung finished with full confidence when the nestling couldn’t continue. “None of her children have taken her genes, and to contribute to the survival of her species after losing her entire family would mean the world to her, even if you take your grandfather’s aquatic form rather than her aerial one.”

Shaking his head and rolling his shoulders, Jungkook angled himself even more towards Taehyung. “It’s not as simple as that.”

“Not anymore, no.”

Being turned had not only given Jungkook vampiric characteristics, but also activated the draconic side of his heritage. Siren the little one might be, but that was now only a part of his biology and identity. 

“No, it’s never been as simple as that.” Jungkook’s back twitched oddly, a wave of motion from his shoulder blades that spread down and out unnaturally. If Taehyung wasn’t so familiar with Jimin’s mannerisms and suffering, he would’ve entirely missed the implications. As it was, they were impossible to overlook.

Suppressed wings trying to burst through the skin created a very specific movement, after all. 

“My genetics are prime for mutation and hybridization.” Jungkook finally turned to look at him. “I’m the child of dragon legacies with a good position of siren in my bloodline as well, but more importantly, the sirens are of two different types. Even my base siren form is a mix of two genetic contributors.”

That… only concerned Taehyung more. The forced evolution of sirens was fairly unique in that it resulted in two copies of the genes active at once. Winged and tailed sirens rarely mated, partially because the mix of their characteristics was often unstable. Scales and feathers could end up in the wrong places, talons on fins and fins sprouting from backs. In the worst case scenario, some formed tails without wings, but also lacking gills. They were essentially unable to move through either element. 

Children of the two variants of sirens were usually monitored closely from pregnancy into full maturation by doctors specially trained to handle the possible genetic complications. The chances that Jungkook had received any such care approached zero. 

To add in dragon and vampire to Jungkook’s complex situation disrupted a delicate balance. Taehyung had already been worried about issues that might arise from hybridization, but this information sharpened the prick of anxiety in his chest. 

“It’s why Reginald picked me.” The words sent a shock of foreboding through Taehyung, freezing his lungs more than the icy air already had. “I was already primed for hybridization in multiple ways.” 

Despite the fledgling’s calm, Taehyung wasn’t quite sure how to respond. Was there a delicate way to ask whether this was what Reginald was researching when he rearranged Jungkook’s body for his own pleasure? This conversation had spun wildly out of control and not in the way that Taehyung had anticipated. The questions he’d so carefully rehearsed to himself overnight were utterly useless in the face of the reality that Jungkook had lived. “He—That’s what he was interested in?” 

Taehyung knew experimentation had happened while Reginald held Jungkook captive. Nowhere was it more obvious than in the way Yoongi and Jin treated Jungkook. Like taking care of Jungkook fulfilled some kind of need for the two of them as well. 

Jin’s past was still a dark whisper that Taehyung rarely picked up on, but the lingering trauma of the event spoke more clearly. In a way, the three of them were healing each other, Jin reclaiming a sense of agency against a mad scientist, Yoongi able to help as he’d been denied before, and Junkgook receiving support from people who really understood what he’d been through. It was why the three of them clicked so instantly and bonded so deeply. Either of the oldest would’ve been more capable of navigating this mindfield than Taehyung. 

Unfortunately, Taehyung was the only one Jungkook had, so he stumbled through the conversation to the best of his abilities and held on to the dim hope that he wouldn’t accidentally hurt Jungkook more. Since the fledgling had brought up of his own accord, Taehyung followed his lead and prompted him on as gently as he knew how.

“Vampire venom is one of the only known substances that allows for hybridization, and he wanted to test the limits of that ability. Not for curiosity, but for power. His idea was that the more traits you can force upon a person, the more powerful they would be.” 

Tilting his head towards the ceiling, Jungkook closed his eyes and embraced the still falling snow, oblivious to the chain of horror he was setting off in Taehyung’s mind. 

“Test the limits in what way ?” It came out sharper than Taehyung meant it to, but he couldn’t help it. That made it sound like… like Reginald had done more than just activate the dragon in Jungkook while turning him into a hybrid. 

The snow hardened on Jungkook’s face as he tipped his head back down towards Taehyung. That beautiful sheen of pearlescent power that still lit Jungkook from within also glimmered in the flakes frozen into tiny shards of ice on the fledgling’s face. 

“If vampiric blood can activate dormant bloodlines, what will help if it’s mixed with the blood of other creatures before being injected into a potential fledgling?”

Nausea rose in a burning tide to the back of Taehyung’s throat. The process of creating a vampire was so exceptionally dangerous to begin with, had so much potential to go wrong. 

Crazed crimson eyes in a face Taehyung didn’t know, but had seen in Jin’s darkest nightmares. Froth on pale lips stained red with blood

It was an image Taehyung had never been allowed to see in real life, but it haunted all of them through the night, woven so deeply into Jin’s psyche that it snaked down their bond and into each of their heads. 

Jin’s ultimate fear, the reason he had never sired a Childe, was the madness that struck indiscriminately and unpredictably when some vampires were turned. A bloodlust so strong that rational thought was obliterated. More than half of those who became vampires suffered from the condition, and even after all these centuries, there was no cure other than death. It was a risk Jin had never wanted to take. 

Looking at Jungkook’s blank expression, but anguished eyes, Taehyung realized for the first time that it was a risk Jungkook had unknowingly been exposed to as well. Suddenly he understood why Jin hadn’t told them about the fledgling before bringing Jungkook home. 

Turning beings other than humans more frequently resulted in madness, possibly because it was said to be exceptionally painful. Even those who survived the initial transformation and didn’t immediately show signs of the blood-rage could be unstable genetically. 

The possibility of such suffering was enough to halt most of those who had an interest in becoming a vampire in their tracks. For Reginald to specifically seek such agony for others by introducing a foreign element into the blood used to turn them was—

Taehyung’s stomach lurched and he fought not to gag. 

“Death, as it turns out.” Jungkook’s tone was as bland as though he was stating the weather, but his mind screamed pain at Taehyung. “Most people can’t handle the influx of multiple competing foreign genetics at once.

“Lucky for me, I am not most people. My body is perfect for extensive studies of hybridization, and Reginald took full advantage of it.”

Taehyung stood shell-shocked, too horrified to find words. There was a brief hesitation, and indecision played through the fledgling's mind. 

“He—He wanted me to hurt you. It was his goal that I would be powerful enough to tear this nest apart.”

A shadow of guilt and hints of a pleading sincerity passed over the nestling’s face, as though Taehyung’s silence was condemnation. 

“I would never—I didn’t want—I—” 

The air seemed to crystalize, becoming sharp in Taehyung’s lungs with the baby’s panic. 

“Jungkookie.” Taehyung surged forwards and cupped the fledgling’s face in frozen fingers. “I know, precious.”

Maybe knowing that Jungkook had been literally engineered to harm them should’ve changed things for Taehyung, but it didn’t. They’d all come to terms with Jungkook’s unconventional entrance into their nest by this time, and part of that involved considering that the fledgling might be a plant. They’d decided when Jin first brought him home to judge Jungkook on his own merits. This information didn’t alter what Taehyung had learned about Jungkook in the last few weeks, just gave him more background. 

Instead of trying to convey this through words, Taehyung pushed it down their bond. Sometimes it was easier to communicate that way;  it was impossible to lie and the other could feel for themselves the veracity of the emotional response. 

The snow stopped for a moment, each flake hanging suspended in the air as Jungkook gasped. Then it all fell at once, melting before it hit the floor to leave no trace. The frost followed, turning translucent and then fading away. The air felt warm on Taehyung’s next breath. 

A tiny spark of pride both for himself and for Jungkook lit within Taehyung. It was difficult to accept reassurance when self-recrimination was so deeply internalized, even if the comfort was presented as purely as now. Jungkook’s trust was an accomplishment for both of them. 

For a moment, Taehyung let them linger in that security. Neither of them had been prepared for this conversation, and they both needed a second to calm down. Only once the frantic buzz of thoughts that had undercut Jungkook’s faux detachment had finally slowed to a lazy babble did Taehyung ask the question that burned on his tongue. 

“Do you know whose blood was mixed with Jin’s?”

There was another pregnant pause, and the anxiety tried to surge once more in Jungkook. Tapping the fledgling’s cheek to bring him back into the moment, Taehyung put a slightly stern look on his face and gave a little mental nudge or expectation and support. Yoongi-hyung thought Jungkook responded well to direction, so Taehyung would take a page out of his book. Had it been any of their other nestmates, Taehyung would’ve gotten cooed at. Jungkook ducked his head as much as Taehyung allowed, bit his lip, and answered his question. 

“I—Yours. And hyungs’. All of hyungs’.” 

All six of them? The possibility had crossed Taehyung’s mind, but seemed so ludicrous and illogical that he’d dismissed it immediately. Now his legs went weak, and he fell back onto a couch in complete shock. 

Jungkook ,” he breathed, staring at the baby with glassy eyes. 

How the little one had survived was absolutely beyond Taehyung. The pain must’ve been unfathomable, and who knew what kind of aftereffects Jungkook was still suffering through?  

It was that thought that jarred Taehyung from spirling despair. A sense of urgency overtook his horror and forced him to think first of Jungkook rather than his own shock. The nestling was already reaching for him worriedly when Taehyung seized his wrists and pulled Jungkook closer. Sliding to his knees between Taehyung’s spread legs at the unexpected tug, Jungkook looked up at him with wide eyes once more. 

“Jungkook, I told you before that the possibility of further hybridization was important. Do you know why I said that?”

Licking his lips, the fledgling hesitantly admitted, “No. It’s straightforward enough. I take characteristics from each of you. I just have slightly different needs, and I’m able to meet them myself since I’m aware of them. I don’t understand why you’re so upset about it.”

Taehyung was shaking his head before Jungkook could even finish. 

“Hybridization is unpredictable. It’s impossible to know which traits you took from each of us or how those will interact with each other. Jimin is an angel and Hobi is a demon . Namjoon’s blood comes from a pagan god and goddess. Is it safe for all three to exist at once in you? Does one cancel out the other?”

This was the possible danger that Taehyung had spoken to Namjoon about last night. Lack of knowledge about Jungkook’s body could harm not only Jungkook himself, but also those around him if a particularly bad combination of genes happened to express unexpectedly. It was Taehyung’s biggest concern now that he had a more fleshed out picture of the little one’s background and could guess that outside threats would be limited. 

“Blood aside, we have a mix of fire and air based creatures, while you yourself are water based. Some of us are almost entirely vegetarian while others survive off of blood or godly food. All of these things have the potential to harm you in ways that might not be immediately noticeable. In fact, you’ve already shown today alone how mixing blood can produce unexpected results.”

Brief confusion swam over the fledgling’s face, but he was smart enough to catch on almost immediately. “I’m a water or ice based dragon while my family all breathe fire. My water affinity as a siren mixed with the dragon gene and altered my genetics.”

“Yes, and the very fact that you don’t even know if it’s fire or ice is concerning. It affects your ideal body temperature and carries the potential of accidentally overheating. Nothing is as simple as you just getting some of our traits; they all interact with each other in ways that are unique to your own biology.”

Jungkook's mind kicked into high gear again, overwhelmed and fascinated at the same time. Taehyung could feel nothing but nearly overpowering anxiety, partially his own and partially the fledgling’s. It was like learning that Jungkook carried a vial of poison in his bloodstream that could break and release its deadly contents through the baby’s body without warning at the slightest stimulus. There was no way to know when or if their manifold characteristics would interact badly. 

Catching the little one’s face between his hands again, Taehyung looked at him seriously. 

“Baby, I will do everything I can to help you manage and understand your body, but you have to know that this is so far beyond anything that I’ve learned. I am not the best person to help you with this, and I won’t always be near you if something goes wrong unexpectedly. I really think you should consider telling our hyungs about this at least, even if you’re not ready to talk about the rest of your past. Jin and Yoongi have studied vampirism extensively, including the effects of hybridization, and they’re much better qualified to help you.” 

Jungkook’s reluctance was clear in his expression. “It will upset them. They’ve already done so much for me, and this will make them worry more.”

Rubbing his thumb along the fledgling’s cheek, Taehyung considered his words carefully. “Our hyungs are happy to do what they can to help you because they know you’ll be a part of our lives for eternity and because already you’ve started to capture their hearts. No one is keeping a tally of who does what for whom. We help and support each other freely because we care about each other. Sometimes that means one of us gets a bit more attention and worry when they need it. That doesn’t make you any less than anyone else. 

“I can guarantee that all of them would rather know and worry than have you struggling along as best you can on your own. This isn’t about what everyone else wants, though. It’s your body and your choice. I’ve given you my perspective and reasoning, but I’ll support you whatever decision you make.” 

Jungkook caught his gaze and held it, assessing and examining his words for several moments before he responded. “I’ll think about it.” 

Smiling proudly, Taehyung leaned forwards and kissed the nestling’s forehead. “Thank you.”

The serious mood of their interaction broke into fizzling pleasure at the skinship. Encouraged by the positive reaction, Taehyung swept the flustered fledgling off his knees and onto the couch. “You shouldn’t be standing so long right now anyways,” he chided at the slightly annoyed, but mostly embarrassed whine. “And I need cuddles.”

Jungkook went easily enough after that, letting Taehyung tuck him into his lap and rub his back. 

“This doesn’t change anything.” The little one’s body stiffened slightly at the words. “Not about the way I think of you or what you mean to me. You’re still the same person I’ve been getting to know and learning to love for the last few weeks. Nothing you’ve said today or I realized yesterday changes that.” 

If quiet tears started down the baby’s cheeks, Taehyung didn’t say anything about it. Just bundled Jungkook’s frail body closer and held him as the full morning light finally dawned around them. 

Chapter Text

Hoseok was old enough that he had long evolved past the need to sleep every night. Even in his younger days, he had frequently pushed his body to its limits, on guard at all times and too anxious to rest. His capacity to endure had been tested more in the last few months than it had since his childhood, however, and it wasn’t something Hoseok enjoyed. 

Sleeping at night was part of his routine, a way to wind down and reset after a long day. It allowed him to clear his mind of any negative emotions and face the new day with a fresh outlook.

Between finding Jungkook and handling the various disruptions that had occurred since the baby came to live with them, Hoseok was just too busy or too worked up to drift off some nights. Of course it would be in the time when he most needed the relief of sleep that it slipped out of his grasp. 

The night after the party was the worst night he’d had in awhile. For all that he kept his head in the heat of the moment and did his best to comfort Jin, Hoseok was as shaken as the rest of them. Jungkook’s mood had flipped so quickly and drastically that it left them all floundering. Jin’s reaction destabilized them further. 

It was unrealistic and unfair to expect Jin to always have it together, but they’d fallen into that trap over the years. Hoseok had never seen the eldest upset enough to become unable to function. Jin was a reliable pillar of calm when things started to go wrong. Only Yoongi had any experience soothing the eldest when Jin was truly distraught, and he’d been occupied with the little one. 

That left Hoseok as the oldest nest member who was still focused and present in the situation. To have his own support system unavailable and to have to pick up the slack of Jin’s responsibilities as the oldest member of their nest present was stressful to say the least. Hoseok didn’t resent the need to step up when Jin needed the support, but it left him keyed up and restless. 

Relaxation was in short supply that night, and several of the others also lay awake. Their bond hummed with an unusual activity during the midnight hours and into the early morning. 

A large part of the issue lay in Jungkook’s inability to completely calm down. The fledgling’s mind hovered on the edge of Hoseok’s senses, wavering between spinning anxiety and equally uneasy dreams in a way that made it difficult to tell whether he was conscious or not. The impulse to respond in some way to the little one’s distress chased away any drowsiness. 

Hoseok’s first instinct was to comfort the little one, but Yoongi sent a forbidding thought towards him when Hoseok suggested it through their bond. It had taken the bonghwang long enough to get the fledgling focused on his own feelings; Yoongi didn’t want that interrupted. Jungkook needed the time to process his thoughts before he had to interact with others.  

When the nestling slipped from bed in the predawn hours, Hoseok gave up on finding any sleep himself. The house was oddly cold and felt deserted despite the fact that Taehyung quickly followed suit in abandoning his bed. 

Again, Hoseok resisted the urge to go after either of the babies. They felt distant and unwelcoming when Hoseok brushed against their thoughts, so he let them have their space. That they ended up finding each other and talking was an unexpected boon. On the other hand, it left Hoseok at a loss as to what he should do with himself. 

Usually, Hoseok was productive in these early hours of the morning. The quiet facilitated his concentration, his brain fresh from sleep and ready to engage with whatever project happened to catch his fancy that day.  

All of that energy and enthusiasm was absent as Hoseok wandered languidly around the kitchen. Half of the nest wouldn’t be awake for breakfast after last night, but Hoseok busied himself with getting food for those who would be, keeping a tiny part of his attention on the babies to make sure they were ok. 

Their talk went surprisingly well, none of the explosive fear from Jungkook or confusion from Taehyung that had occurred in the first time they were left alone together. It was a good sign of the progress both the little ones were making. With all that had gone wrong lately, first the incident at the mall, and now the ball, it was comforting to see such a stark indicator of positive growth. 

The two youngest stayed sequestered in a sitting room that was generally only used for company, emerging only for a quick breakfast before retreating once more. Jungkook took blood from Hoseok when they came out (still only a few worryingly small mouthfuls, but enough) so Hoseok left them to their own devices. 

The morning passed calmly, but in the kind of blur that only came from too much time wallowing in thought and not enough action. By the time the others started to stir, Hoseok was more than ready to have some company. 

The nest all gradually trickled down to the kitchen in varying states of dress and wakefulness. Yoongi still wore his button down shirt from the night before, now paired with joggers and a beanie. Jimin, only half conscious in the first place, began to fall back asleep the moment he sat down at the breakfast bar. 

They looked an odd set, but life and warmth seemed to flood back in with each person who entered. Having the nest physically around him had always been comforting to Hoseok. It was a tangible reminder of their support, that he never faced anything alone. 

Jin took over the kitchen as soon as he ambled in, still in a full pajama set despite the fact that it was past noon. Looking around the room at Jimin laying slumped on his own arms and mostly passed out, Namjoon poking around carefully in the fridge only to get shooed away by Jin, and Yoongi taking over the stove, Hoseok felt something inside him settle. The familiarity of it all soothed his anxiety in a way that nothing else could. This could be any random lazy morning for the nest. Yes, they had all been rattled last night, but it was just a bobble. They would be fine. 

An arm wound around his waist from behind, and Hoseok relaxed back into Taehyung’s chest. He’d lost track of the two nestlings as the rest of the nest came down, so the hug was unexpected, but welcome. Taehyung cuddled into him, letting out a little sigh. There was a feeling of heaviness from the Sixth’s portion of the bond, but also contentment and cautious optimism. Now that he’d chosen his path forwards and talked to Jungkook, Taehyung also felt more secure. Between that and Jungkook’s small smile as he settled at the bar next to Jimin, the ball of negativity in Hoseok’s chest finally relaxed. 

The mood of the house picked up as they all fully woke up and gained strength from each other’s presence. All of them pitched in to get lunch together, even Namjoon who was assigned to peel potatoes, and the meal was a noisy affair as they talked over each other and teased playfully like usual. 

Some small tension still lingered, however, even as they all sprawled across their favorite living room, well fed and groaning about their full bellies. Dropping down on an overstuffed loveseat with Jimin, Hoseok caught Jin’s eye across the room. The vampire’s expression was soft and fond, but there was a glint of anticipation in their bond.

The air of the room shifted form lighthearted banter to something more serious  as Jin claimed his favorite armchair by the fire that lit with a snap of Yoongi’s fingers. . 

“I’m sorry about yesterday.” The words flew from Jungkook’s mouth before any of them could find a delicate way to bring up the topic. A frown grew on Jungkook’s lips, and he chewed them nervously, shifting on the couch cushion next to Taehyung. 

Pausing on his way lay next to Yoongi before the fire, Namjoon set a finger on the fledgling’s lips and silenced him. “You’ve got to be more careful of your fangs.” It was said with a smile, but Namjoon’s eyes held empathy. “You’re going to hurt yourself on them one of these days.”

The reprimand startled Jungkook out of his train of thought. Blushing, he nodded his acknowledgement of Namjoon and released his lip. 

The interruption allowed Jin neatly set them back on the right track without any more self-deprecating comments. “No one blames you for what happened last night, Jungkoookie. It was a new and unpredictable situation; it would’ve been a miracle if you made it through without anything upsetting you. If anything, we should’ve waited longer instead of forcing you into the spotlight so quickly.”

That had been on Hoseok’s mind as well. All of the older members of the nest, Hoseok included, had been under a tremendous amount of pressure from the elites of magical society to explain their sudden inactivity. The month that they’d spent breaking down the wards Reginald put up roused suspicion, and their near complete absence since they brought Jungkook home only exacerbated the issue. 

It had been literal centuries since the last time Jin’s nest was so unavailable, and many of the elite immortals barely remembered that time. None of them quite knew what to do with themselves without constant guidance and support from Jin and Yoongi especially, but also Namjoon and Hoseok. 

That was a problem. Magical society shouldn’t depend so heavily on one nest, not just because that forced them to shoulder far more than their fair share of responsibility, but also for issues of representation. Jin’s nest was diverse, but there were whole groups of beings whose issues they couldn’t anticipate. They didn’t even have any water based magicals in the nest, to say nothing of the many creatures that they had only tangential knowledge of. Being impartial and inclusive was impossible when power centered so much within a single group. 

Their inactivity lately highlighted just how much they controlled Korean society. That had never been their goal, and it scared Hoseok. 

That was an issue for later, however, because Jungkook was already shaking his head in response to Jin. “The spotlight wasn’t the problem. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the party itself, and would’ve been fine if I hadn’t—” Cutting himself off, Jungkook went to bite his lip again, only to release it a second later with a tiny glance at Namjoon. 

“If what, darling?” Jimin’s voice startled Hoseok. While Jimin had been making more of an effort with the baby as well, Hoseok hadn’t thought he cared enough for Jungkook yet to play an active part in this discussion. 

Jungkook hesitated, opening and closing his little fists to deal with his emotions this time. 

“You don’t have to tell us what happened if you don’t want to, but we would like to be able to prevent you from having to go through that amount of pain again if we can,” Yoongi said, radiating support and sincerity to the fledgling through their bond.

“You seemed to be fine one moment and devastated the next,” Hoseok couldn’t help but add. That was why this whole thing had come as such a shock. There had been no obvious trigger, no signal that Jungkook was starting to become fatigued or stressed before he suddenly went into complete lockdown. It was like stumbling upon a landmine in a meadow: completely out of place and unanticipated. 

“I—I want time to think. I know I’m not giving you much to go on in this situation or with my life before everything happened, but I’m just—I want to be able to share with you when I’m ready, not because something or someone else forces me to. I don’t think I’m quite ready yet.” 

This was the first time that the baby had outright refused to answer their questions, and Hoseok was proud of him. The answer was honest and unapologetic as it should be. They’d known Jungkook for such a short period of time that they had no right to just demand to know his full history. It was a mark of Jungkook’s strength of character and maturity that he recognized and enforced that. 

Taehyung obviously agreed, grabbing the fledgling’s hand and squeezing it gently as he sent a clumsy pulse of approval through their magic. 

“Of course, Precious. We don’t want to push you at all, thank you for stating your boundaries.” Namjoon’s tone was pure approval, but a note of frustration lingered at the very back of his mind, carefully hidden from the nestlings. Hoseok sympathized. 

Without knowing what had sent Jungkook into this spiral, they had no way of controlling any future triggers. They would respect the fledgling’s privacy, no question, but it was difficult to come to terms with the idea that this could happen again at any time. 

“I don’t want to see the Jeons again. Not yet.” Jungkook’s request shed some light on the topic, but only enough to distort the picture even more. “It wasn’t anything they did or said, but I—I realized something when we were talking, and I don’t know how I feel about it yet.”

From what Hoseok had picked up on of the conversation, Jungkook had been enjoying his talk with the Jeons. The little one’s mind had been alight with fascination and the pleasure of intellectual stimulation. Again, his desire not to see them again seemed to come out of nowhere, although Taehyung somehow understood it. 

It also gave them something to work with, though. Jin or Namjoon, who had been paying closer attention to the conversation, might be able to pick up on some detail that Hoseok hadn’t noticed to help them understand what exactly had gone wrong. That was a dull hope, given the bewilderment Hoseok felt from them, but something might occur to them with more thought.

Some of the helplessness that Hoseok had been feeling faded now that he had something to protect Jungkook from. The Jeons would never hurt the nestling, Hoseok knew them well enough to say that with complete certainty of everyone except Miyoon, but there was no reason Jungkook should have to interact with them if he didn’t want to. It gave Hoseok something to do , a way he could retain some sense of agency. At this point, it was what he needed. 

“You never have to talk to anyone you don’t want to, dear heart. We’ll do what we can to keep you away from them, and you shouldn’t have to interact again.” Protectiveness spread its wings in Yoongi’s portion of their bond and seeped into the magic of the room. Protection was Yoongi’s aura, but he usually had enough control over his power not to project it even when he was feeling the most protective. The pall of his aura was partially deliberate, an attempt to help Jungkook feel safe, but also a testament to Yoongi’s exhaustion. Hoseok wasn’t the only one who had been struggling to sleep lately. 

Tension drained out of Jungkook in response, and he curled towards Taehyung beside him, tucking himself in close.  “I do want to talk to them again, eventually. Just not now. I have some things to think about first.”

All six of them nodded, Taehyung with more determination than the rest of them. A steely thread of outrage and resolve lingered in the pixie’s thoughts, although Hoseok couldn’t fathom what inspired it. 

“You can let us know whenever you’re ready, but there’s no rush, baby. Your comfort is important to us,” Hoseok said, meeting the nestling’s eyes. 

“We pushed too hard and fast with the ball, even if you did handle it beautifully,” Jin reiterated. “We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“Speaking of that,” — they turned to Namjoon at the change of subject, all of them sensing that the baby was starting to get flustered – “the magical community is beginning to become ridiculous in their demands from us. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have been allowed our privacy without worrying about other people.”

“I agree.” Flames danced on Yoongi’s fingertips, a sure sign of severe annoyance. “We don’t even technically hold any power or responsibility since we’re just ‘consults’ for the magical consul. Consultants set their own hours and boundaries. We’ve been letting them walk all over ours for far too long.”

“I’m not sure when it got this bad.” Jin ran a hand through his hair and shook his head disbelievingly. “The pressure we’ve been under to work regardless of our needs and to explain every little absence is unacceptable. I’ve been stressing all week over the people who came even when we specifically asked for time off. It’s a huge part of the reason why I was so out of it last night.”

All four of the oldest were affected by the constant visits, but none more than Jin. He was the one who had to speak with each supplicant individually and soothe or help them as needed. On top of his anxiety over Jungkook and the sudden explosion of negative emotions in their bond, it was more than enough to account for Jin’s breakdown. 

“And when did people start coming to our house when they wanted us?” The question had occurred to Hoseok repeatedly over the last week. While they always did their best to help anyone who needed it, people never used to come to their own home. They’d followed the proper channels and contacted the magical consul as was appropriate. 

“We need to create a work-life balance.” Even before Namjoon finished his sentence, the entire room was nodding in agreement. “We can set work hours and enforce that people have to go through the consul first. We need to have lives separate from the public.” 

“This has never been a problem before.” Limiting his involvement with the magical community was undoubtedly a foreign concept to Jin. His mother had raised him to rule, before tragedy struck their family, and Jin had never really been able to shake that training. Even at the worst point of Jin’s life, when he was recovering from his own kidnapping, Hoseok knew that Jin still played a role in public life. It was how they’d met. 

“Well it’s become one.” Yoongi’s tone was sharper than usual, and his posture was strangely defensive. “We can’t keep going on like this, it isn’t healthy for us, and it isn’t fair to our little ones.” The flames at the tip of Yoongi’s fingers streamed down the backs of his hands which were tightly folded and held slightly over the bonghwang’s lap to avoid setting the room on fire. 

“No, no, my firebird, I’m not arguing. This isn’t like last time. We’re older now, and I know better. Pushing both of us out of our comfort zones was a mistake back then, and I’m still sorry.” 

Whatever fight the two of them were referencing must be ancient, because Hoseok had no idea what they were talking about. Clearly Yoongi expected resistance to cutting back on their public personas, but it was equally obvious that he wasn’t going to get any. 

Leaning down from his chair, Jin scooped Yoongi from the thick rug in front of the fire and deposited the bonghwang in his lap. Their eyes met, and for a moment, there was silence. A discussion passed between them with just that look before Yoongi finally nodded and relaxed. 

“I’m still sorry,” Jin repeated, pressing a quick kiss against Yoongi’s lips. 

“It was a long time ago, Hyung. I shouldn’t even have brought it up again.”

Regret and apology flickered from Yoongi’s side with the bond, leaking exhaustion and old pain with it. Things had been different when it was just the two of them. As the first one to enter the nest as an outsider, Hoseok had witnessed firsthand how their dynamic changed over the years. 

Their relationship had been as contentious as it was passionate when Hoseok first joined them. The two oldest both had very strong personalities, and they hadn’t learned yet how to balance each other out or when to compromise. Big fights were rare, but a level of tension, both good and bad, ruled their interaction. It was a constant push and pull, easily set off balance, but just as quickly corrected. 

Adding more members to their nest had forced Yoongi and Jin to work together and figure out how to communicate better with each other. Their love softened and grew, nurtured as they nurtured their new dongsaengs. 

This kind of shortness based on assumptions was a throwback to an early phase of their lives. Not necessarily a reminder of bad times but a regression that spoke to Yoongi’s headspace more than anything else. 

“We’ve both been thinking about the past more recently.” Jin’s eyes flicked quickly to Jungkook who was as lost as the rest of the younger ones. “We’ve learned better by now, and we need to set boundaries on our work.”

“I know, and I’m sorry too.” Rolling shoulders to relieve the stress, Yoongi sighed. “I guess all that’s left now is to wrangle the actual scheduling of things.”

It was an obvious change of subject, but the face Yoongi pulled put them all at ease again. The topic was closed and settled with no one upset. In fact, the nostalgic endearment radiating from both of the two eldest warmed all of them. 

“I can pencil us in for specific shifts. If we each work one day a week, and then come in only for emergencies the other three, that should be manageable. The situation is rarely dire enough that it needs more than one of us anyway. I need to get in touch with the consul, and—” Namjoon’s muttering continued as he whipped out his phone to consult the calendar and take notes. 

The serious mood dissolved into affectionate amusement. Namjoon’s intense fixation on any tasks he was given was legendary by this point, and even Jungkook had already experienced it at least once. Again, the familiarity settled them, dispersing most of the cobwebs of stress. 

Groaning, Jimin stood and twisted to pop his back. Hoseok attempted to melt into the pillows behind him, and Yoongi snuggled closer into Jin’s lap, tucking his fisted hands between their chests and laying his head on the vampire’s shoulder. Jin’s arms wound around Yoongi’s waist in return, but his gaze strayed to Jungkook. 

“It looks like you’ll be stuck with all of us at home more often, my treasure.”

A tiny smile curved the baby’s lips. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, Hyung.” 

Gratitude and a beautifully blooming fondness spilled from the little one’s magic, washing the room with its soft aura. Hoseok had the feeling that Jungkook was talking about more than just the change in schedule. 

Chapter Text

Jin hadn’t realized how much the magical consul of Korea had come to rely on his nest, but it quickly became obvious to him that the consul was fully aware. The calls had started the moment Namjoon sent a message requesting a meeting about working hours. And they had not stopped. 

The first call had been sent to voicemail as Namjoon clearly stated in his message that they were unavailable for the rest of the day barring extreme emergencies. The demigod’s bewildered frown as he held up the screen for Jin to see the contact number had been echoed by Jin, Hoseok, and Jimin. Taehyung’s curiosity and Jungkook’s sleepy annoyance from where he was teething on the pixie lightened the mood, but the first embers of Yoongi’s ire soured it again. The timing was suspicious. 

Gesturing to be given the phone when it rang again at once, Jin set it to his ear and answered. “Hello?”

“Jin-ssi, we’re so happy to get ahold of you!” The voice on the other end was unfamiliar, though that wasn’t saying much. For all that they did a lot of the consul’s dirty work, Jin’s nest generally only spoke to a few of them with any regularity. It was the faux cheer in the tone that had set Jin on edge. 

“I’m sorry, is this an emergency? I’m sure you read in Namjoon’s message that we would like to be contacted only for emergencies today.” 

“Well, no, not strictly—”

“Have a nice day then.” Decisively pressing the end button on a call hadn’t been very satisfying to the irritation sparking in Jin’s chest. The fact that it immediately started ringing again made his eye twitch and that spark flare into a flame. Without even bothering to check the caller id, Jin pressed the mute button. They all watched the phone ring itself out, only to start up again as soon as the call ended. After three attempts, silence had finally reigned. 

Only for a new caller to set the phone ringing again minutes later. 

It was at this point that Jungkook emerged from Taehyung’s neck with a whine and a pout. Jin’s patience snapped at the disturbance to his little one’s rare happiness-induced teething. 

Answering the phone once more, he glared into space as he spoke. “As per the terms of our agreement with the magical consul, my nest are prepared to offer consultation according to our own schedules . This extreme disruption to our personal time after we have explicitly stated that we are not to be disturbed outside of an emergency is absolutely unacceptable.”

“Jin-ssi, we’re just trying to smooth over whatever has caused this sudden shift—”

Again, Jin cut them off with no regards for manners. Not when Taehyung couldn’t soothe the baby back into teething, and Jimin was looking increasingly disdainful by Jin’s side. “Then you can ask that at the meeting that Namjoon requested you to schedule. That is the bare minimum of professional courtesy.” 

“O-of course, Jin-ssi, can we just schedule you in sometime this evening?”

“No. Today is not an option as we have stated multiple times.”

“Tomorrow, then?” 

The almost desperate tone made Jin stop and consider. It would be nice to get the meeting over with, because Jin didn’t foresee much peace until they’d squared things with the consul. At the same time, he was utterly exhausted, and over the course of the last half hour, this meeting had gone from a business engagement with no obvious issues to a probable battle. Walking into that kind of meeting emotionally compromised and already worn down was not a good idea. 

“The day after.” That would give Jin a day to center himself and prepare. 

“Yes, alright then.” Whoever was on the other side of the line (who had so rudely neglected to introduce himself) sounded reluctant, but was probably smart enough to know that he wasn’t going to get anything better. “We’ll expect you at eight, then.”

That was also extremely discourteous to a vampire, although less so for Jin than others. Early morning hours were usually a struggle after years of adopting a nocturnal schedule to avoid the sun. It had been so long since Jin needed to worry about daylight that it wasn’t something that often crossed his mind anymore. This was the magical consul, however, and they should respect the basic rules of vampiric politeness. 

“Very well.” The energy it would take to press the point wasn’t worth it. “I expect to be left in peace unless there’s an actual emergency until then.”

“Yes, Jin-ssi.”

The line went dead with no more pleasantries. Yoongi and Jin exchanged a look. Jimin’s exasperated huff, arms crossed over his chest, and Hoseok’s concerned frown signified their own disquiet. Quietly taking back his phone, Namjoon put it away. 

The ephemeral calm that the nest had finally achieved faded away like a wisp on the wind. Despite Hoseoke’s best efforts to draw the nestling into games and Yoongi’s overdramatic complaining at being roped in, the fragile felicity was just gone. 

The rest of the early afternoon passed slowly in a hazy of lazy cuddling, a good movie, and random bursts of exhausted cat napping. Couches were pushed closer together, then eventually abandoned when someone floated the idea of moving to the ground so they could lounge together without barriers between them. This idea quickly became infinitely more complicated and meaningful than was originally intended, because Jungkook seemed particularly fascinated by the process of setting up the space for them. 

While the rest of them would’ve been content to just throw things together until the wooden floors were cushioned enough to be comfortable, that thought didn’t seem to occur to the fledgling. Jungkook became oddly focused the moment more than three blankets entered the equation, and actually spent the better part of an hour ordering and reordering everything. Each of them found themselves commanded by the baby at some point to adjust this pillow, or go find that blanket.

The behavior was intriguing. There were many species who nested for various reasons. In their younger days, Yoongi had been almost fanatical about it and felt the safest tucked up in a nest he’d built. Dragons were also known to be extremely particular about the placement of various objects in their hoard, and could spend hours arranging things to their satisfaction. 

Jungkook was neither of those things, however, and his single-minded devotion to his self imposed task was a bit strange. Vampires didn’t typically nest, given that the cold didn’t bother them and heat was usually damaging rather than comfortable for them. 

So focused was the baby that he pulled both Yoongi and Jimin into his orbit. Jimin’s enjoyment of building the nest was also somewhat of a surprise. Before, when he could still remember himself, Jimin had never mentioned that angels nested, but it made sense. Many species with feathered wings tended to build nests for their children, tucking their own feathers between layers of cushions and blankets. To Jin’s knowledge, Jimin hadn’t nested in… a long time, though. At least since he came to live full time with the nest, and probably long before as well. It didn’t seem like the kind of behavior that would’ve been encouraged in heaven. 

To see him as wrapped up as Yoongi hinted that they’d been missing a simple behavior that might’ve really appealed to Jimin. The cherub’s side of the bond sang with contentment and instinctual pleasure in a way that they had struggled to trigger hithertofore. There were so few facets of heaven that could be replicated in any way on earth, to know that they’d missed one that was so easily imitable was frustrating. 

Watching the three of them fuss over each fold of the blankets and smooth over creases in pillow cases, it was difficult to admit any negative emotions. The sight was just too precious. Their expressions were so serious, so intent that they didn’t even feel the endearment that was fairly flooding through the rest of the nest. Jin felt like his chest would explode with the cuteness. 

To be fair, building a nest was a serious endeavour for the species that nested. It was instinctual and could provide a great deal of comfort for that aspect alone, even without considering that it was often an intrinsic part of happy childhood memories. Nests meant safety, home, love. 

It was such a unique and distinctive trait of some species that a puzzled frown creased Jin’s forehead, and he opened his mouth to ask. An absolutely forbidding nudge from Taehyung stopped him in his tracks. Mouth still open, now from shock rather than the desire to speak, Jin turned to the pixie. An equally stern shake of the Sixth’s head dissuaded Jin from pursuing the topic further. Curious as Jin might be, the baby’s comfort was first and foremost.

Still, Jin wouldn’t forget this. If Jungkook had been regularly surrounded by people who nested, may have even had family members who did it, that meant he had been regularly around other magicals. Other than Yugiyeom, the nestling hadn’t mentioned any creature friends, and Yugiyeom didn’t fit the bill; he was wingless. 

Whoever Jungkook had picked up his nest habit from, he did it well. Or maybe it was just the baby’s natural eye for comfort and aesthetics. Either way, the nest was several layers thick and beautifully arranged by the time everything was said and done. All the blankets that had been deemed fit for the top layer were in shades of red, purple, and blue to match the midnight couches that had been pushed into a rough half-circle to line one edge of the nest. The open end faced the hearth and the tv mounted on the wall above it, framed by large windows that looked out on Namjoon’s garden and the forest beyond it. Pillows in the same shades were already sorted into seven small piles, although a few lay randomly within reach should anyone need another. More lap desks than Jin had realized they owned were strewn around for drinks and snacks, and even a few sweaters were tucked in here and there in case anyone got cold. 

The finishing touch, something Jin hadn’t been expecting at all, was a few feathers lovingly hidden throughout. They were visible, but their magic sang to Jin, offering protection and a sense of family if he would just enter the nest. Those must come from Yoongi and Jimin, though Jungkook’s magic somehow permeated the entire structure to the point that it overwhelmed Jin’s ability to differentiate. 

Feathers that fell out naturally during preening were a traditional touch, a way to set a scent claim in ancient history, and an anchor for spells even now. They gave the nest a magical purpose along with the material comfort it provided. Yoongi’s would build a low-level healing ward that wove through anyone inside the nest. Jimin’s ensured protection and warmth. Both Yoongi and Jimin kept a stash of their own feathers because they were useful for other spells as well, but it was no small matter for them to add it to Jungkook’s nest. 

The living room they were in had long been their favorite, and Jin had done everything he could think of to make it a welcoming and happy space for his nestmates. The idea of building an actual nest had never occurred to him. Now that it was there, however, Jin couldn’t imagine ever removing it. The care, love, and magic that had gone into this magnetically drew the nest together in a way mere choice and placement of furniture never could. 

By the time Jungkook finally sat back  to survey his work with a pleased little smile, the atmosphere of the room had been completely transformed. It was a few more seconds before Jimin and Yoongi stopped fussing to look around with dazed expressions, and the rest of them gradually crept closer again after having been banished while the three architects adjusted the last tiny details. 

Sitting back on his heels, Jungkook turned to Yoongi with an expectant expression. That was another tick favor of the little one having prior knowledge of nesting practices; it was generally the responsibility of the oldest member involved in building to invite the rest of their nestmates in. 

Emotion welled in Yoongi’s chest, spilling down to the rest of them in steady, aching waves. The bonghwang felt honored, touched, melancholic, proud, eager, sad . It had taken Yoongi years to start nesting after most bonghwang were slaughtered and even then… 

Jin didn’t remember fleeing to the corner of his room, but he sat there shivering with a chill he could no longer feel. At his side, Yoongi’s magic lashed out, searching for any hint of comfort until it latched onto the many fabrics littering the destroyed room. Torn curtains and dirty sheets formed a base on which Yoongi piled the bloodstained duvet and Jin’s single surviving pillow. It was a hollow attempt, a mockery of what nesting should be. They huddled there together in the ruins of both their lives, numb to anything but the enteral chill of loss. 

It had been nothing like this. Everything that Yoongi had tried so hard to replicate in that pitiful mess burst into life here, and Jin finally understood the draw. He’d always known, on a technical level, why people liked to nest. To feel it like this, to know what Yoongi had been trying to offer so many years ago, was different. 

With all the little ones looking to him, Yoongi turned towards Jin. A heartrending tremor of melancholy, tenderness, and fragile hope sang in their bond as the second held his hand out to Jin. Last time, Jin had been passive. All Yoongi’s efforts to connect went unheeded, but Jin allowed himself to be manhandled into the nest and lay limply without engaging. 

This time Jin reached back. Taking Yoongi’s hand, steady despite the complexity of the bonghwang’s feelings, Jin stepped carefully over the border of bunched up blankets to enter the nest. Their collective magic flared as Jin, the First and therefore the magically recognized leader of their nest, accepted the invitation. It rose to sparkle on their skin and seep into the air with dazzling colors diverse enough to represent the individuality that each of them brought to the whole. Power shifted to slot into space perfectly though they hadn’t realized it was slightly off center before. 

Tipping his head back involuntarily to soak in the saturation of their combined magic, Jin called silently for the rest of his nestmates. The pull was electric already, dragging them in, and Jin’s deliberate strengthening of it left Namjoon, Taehyung, and Hoseok gasping. They stumbled forwards, pushing their magic out to meet the conglomeration of Jimin, Yoongi, Jungkook, and Jin’s. 

The combined glow of their magic shown through Jin’s eyelids and lit him from the inside out. Never would he have thought that something as simple as building a nest could cement their magic in such a way. This was like the first time he and Yoongi had bonded to form the nest, a new hoard of magic and intimacy that was beyond the imagination of someone who had not experienced it. 

Jin sank onto his knees, and the others followed. The flare of the magic floated down with them, slowly climbing back down the walls and snaking along the floor until it pooled in the center of the nest. For moments, they hovered there, locked in the strength of a bond that had never been so strong. Magic flowed like flavors through Jin’s core, and tenderness followed in its wake. 

They came back to themselves over several minutes, withdrawing back into themselves with every breath after having thrown themselves headlong into their bond. Individual thoughts began to buzz under the all-consuming togetherness of their shared mental space. The magic grew dimmer until only a subtle shimmer sank gradually into the floorboards and out of sight. 

It was nearly dark by the time Jin opened his eyes again. Most of the others were already back in the moment, lounging in pure relaxation throughout the nest, but there was no pressure to jumpstart his own thought process. Jin could linger as long as he wanted in their magic; the others would watch over him and enjoyed the pure peace as much as Jin did, so there was no need to force himself back to full awareness. 

Only Taehyung and Jungkook were still lost in their power when Jin finally sighed and straightened his posture. As the loadstone of their power, Jin felt the combination of their magic most deeply, but Taehyung and Jungkook had so little experience with this sort of joining. The entire nest usually bonded so deeply only every so often, partially because it was magically exhausting and partially because it usually required a trigger. It could be difficult to purposely initiate and tended to wear nestlings down if done too often. Taehyung had only experienced full magical submersion with the eternity of the nest a handful of times, and this was Jungkook’s first time, although he’d done it with Yoongi and Jin on his first day with them.

Taehyung surfaced with a full body shiver only a few minutes after Jin, but it took Jungkook a little longer. When the fledgling did finally open his eyes again, they shone the same color as his magic. Startled and slightly concerned, Jin half rose, but the baby only flinched slightly and blinked a few times. His eyes returned to their natural deep brown, and Jungkook seemed not to even notice. 

Jin made a mental note to keep an eye on the little one’s magic in the next few days. Jungkook had expanded a large amount of magic this morning, although for what, Jin wasn’t sure because none of the older nestmates who had been awake at the time had wanted to interrupt or eavesdrop on the nestlings when they were talking. Given that Taehyung hadn’t said anything about it, Jin assumed that it was nothing to be overly concerned about or that it was something Jungkook wasn’t ready to share yet. Either way, Jin trusted that Taehyung had handled the situation well, especially since Jungkook seemed so much more settled now. 

The baby’s magic had seethed frantically yesterday, and Yoongi quietly mentioned to Jin that it had felt even less controlled this morning. When the nestlings came to lunch, however, it was calm. Whatever had happened between the two maknaes had vastly improved the situation. 

Even now, Taehyung’s reaction to the odd glow in the little one’s eyes suggested that he knew what was going on. Scooting a bit closer, the pixie grabbed Jungkook's neck and massaged lightly even as the fledgling rubbed one eye. 

Yoongi’s expression was slightly more concerned, and Hoseok opened his mouth with a question hovering on his tongue, but a subtle touch of discouragement from Taehyung quieted them. The tacit agreement that Jimin pushed through the bond had them turning curiously to the Cherub instead. Taehyung’s understanding of what was happening was expected, but Jimin’s was not. 

The maelstrom  in the rest of Jimin’s emotions stopped any attempt at questioning him. A sense of peace and wholeness commanded most of Jimin’s psyche as it did the rest of them, but confusion, loss, and anger pervaded as well. Jimin’s experience with nesting was something the Cherub himself had probably been unaware of, and it clearly carried complicated feelings with it. 

Now was not the time to bring that up; it was already a huge step for Jimin to just participate in the building and the cherub would need some time to process his own thoughts before trying to talk things through with anyone else. Jin made a mental note to check back in later as the cherub shifted closer to Jungkook and chucked the baby’s chin fondly. Largely positive feelings dominated rightnow partially because of the high of shared magic, but no one knew how Jimin might be affected by nesting in the long run. 

In fact, Jin knew that the possibility that Jimin might have a very negative reaction was one of the reasons why Yoongi had never built a nest. Even if Yoongi could work through his own complex relationship with nests, he hadn’t wanted to risk it without knowing if it may trigger unwanted and possibly dangerous memories for Jimin. It had been a welcome excuse to forgo the effort entirely, allowing Yoongi to shove aside his own unhealed wounds because treating them might also mean reopening scars for Jimin. 

Building a physical nest was not an experience that every nest got to share. Lack of ability hampered some, and interest was low for others. It wasn’t a necessary part of bonding.  

Necessary and productive were two very different things, however. Looking around at his nestmates as they started to settle comfortably in place, occasionally reaching out to bask in their shared magic once more, Jin realized this was something they had long needed. 

This was not the first time Junkook had inadvertently helped them confront issues that they had unanimously avoided. Namjoon’s beauty, Jimin’s relationship to his memory, Hoseok’s frustration at the erasure of his culture, Jin’s proclivity to hover, Taehyung’s confidence and willingness to act separately from the older members of the nest, Yoongi’s aversion to nesting. 

As much as the little one sometimes seemed to worry about burdening them or not being able to contribute to their nest, Jin sometimes wondered who was helping who more. In the end, that was probably the point. The benefit of a nest was that they were all there equally for each other, each one bringing their own unique skill set and life experiences to create something that was beyond any one of them. 

Each member of their nest was a beautiful gem and their capacity to help shape each other into the most beautiful cuts always dazzled Jin. His love for each other was unrestrained and spilled over the edges of his mind into theirs, only to be echoed back just as strongly. A shy, tentative tendril even spun out of Jungkook. 

For the first time since the day he felt the beginnings of a bond with the fledgling, Jin was positive that things would work out in the end. Jungkook fit so well with them, filled in spaces they hadn’t known were blank and soothed over hurts so old they’d faded into background noise. With Jimin and Taehyung’s acceptance of the fledgling and Jungkook’s affection for them developing beautifully, their future together was cemented. There would always be difficulties along the way, but they would face them as one. For now, Jin was finally at peace.