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Stealing Dust from the Stars

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We’re going to take you apart cell by cell until we find out just what you are.”

 

Jimin understands now why Seokjin feared the humans.

 

Humans have a phrase for situations in which the stumble into an unpredictable circumstance that could have been avoided had they practiced caution over their intuition to learn. 



Curiosity killed the cat,is how Seokjin phrased it.

 

Curiosity is one of the few traits humans share with pixies. Despite knowing what humans are, Jimin stumbled into an unpredictable circumstance that could have been avoided had he heeded Seokjin’s warning. Jimin will never seek to observe a human in its natural habitat, and as of tonight, the doctors will study Jimin no longer. As much as the doctors poked, and prodded, they would never understand Jimin. No matter how diligently he study his insides, they will never understand him like he understands them. From the moment the man with fake eyes suppressed Jimin’s dust he no longer had a pixie strapped to the operating table. Not quite human, but something in between, something inconceivable even to beings as intelligent as humans.

 

With the last suppressant weakening in his system, Jimin can feel a small resurgence of his dust. Not enough to use under Terra’s disagreeable atmosphere, but enough to know his aching, bleeding human body is still capable of producing dust. The white lights and tight straps that kept his body stretched in the operating table are nearly preferable compared to the cramped jowl of an unknown beast carrying Jimin far away from the operating room.

 

“The humans outside are much worse,” the man with fake eyes reminded him. “They’re cannibals. Close your eyes. Can you hear them clawing at the walls? They all want a taste, my little cricket.”

 

Even louder than the last words Jimin heard before his escape is his own frantic human heart, and all he can feel is a low rumble making his body buzz in the compact, sweltering closed jaw. 

 

Jimin’s body jerks to one side and he rolls hard into the edge, similar to the feeling of being yanked around corners on a gurney. 

 

The blue and yellow lights Jimin saw when he left the lab flash in front of his eyes as he’s thrown into the air and his head makes contact with the surface above him. The last image in his mind before it went dark—the angry creatures zipping past him quicker than he could react, and the terrifying amount of humans that were outside the operating room—appear behind his eyes.

 

Jimin’s human body bruises easily without the protection of his dust or his wings, but when he attempts to cocoon himself in their fibers, a shiver runs down his spine where his wings should be. 

 

They took his wings. 

 

Jimin feels what Seokjin referred to as panic. Panic is an emotion exclusive to humans and the other mammals that populate their realm. Jimin has felt panic before. When he thinks of the word, an image of sharp silver flashes in his mind. The glass jars filled with razor sharp glass shards tossing all around his body in an attempt to make him bleed, the moments when the man with the fake eyes laughed over Jimin’s exposed human insides when he discovered how to suppress Jimin’s dust. Jimin knows panic, but he never gets used to it. 

 

As humans do when they experience panic and pain, Jimin wants to scream, but that would only make the man with fake eyes satisfied.

 

You may scream if you want. In fact, please scream. It’s encouraged on this ride.”

 

It was the doctors favorite phrase. He knew how to illicit the reaction he desired. Sometimes, Jimin would bite his tongue and hold his breath not to give the doctor reason to revel in his discomfort, and other times he screamed until his throat felt raw.

 

Adrenaline comes next—a hormone release that offers a burst of excess energy into a human’s system that allows humans to accomplish otherwise impossible tasks under duress or states of panic.

 

Knowing the man with fake eyes would revel in Jimin’s panic, Jimin feels adrenaline overtake him from the inside and he kicks his legs hard into the surface above a few inches above his face, denting it upwards. He tries this again on the wall to his right, then his left. Jimin’s body shakes and tumbles in the toothless mouth but the creature doesn’t slow.

 

The third time Jimin kicks the top he manages to break his foot clean through surface. 

 

A rush of fresh air relieves Jimin of the humidity of the cramped space. The hole is small, just large enough that Jimin could fly out in his own body, however, the transformation requires more dust than he has. 

 

With both feet, Jimin kicks next to the hole he created and the jaw unhinges like a snake. The creature roars louder, runs faster. 

 

He lunges into the fresh air and lands on his arm on a rough surface before bouncing and skidding to a hard stop. Instead of turning back to swallow Jimin whole again, the creature continues on its course. Two glowing red eyes fix on Jimin and before fading behind a human structure.

 

As the growling subsides and Jimin realizes it won’t be coming back for him, he rolls onto his back and breathes, deep and quick, to accelerate the oxygen intake to his brain. There are no respirators here like there are in the operating room. Jimin’s body has grown unaccustomed to refilling on oxygen naturally. Before he can go back for his wings, Jimin will have to explore the limits imposed by his human body. Above him the sky is dark, but he can make out a cluster of dim stars. It’s true, what Seokjin said about the sky above Terra. They have far fewer stars. It’s why Seokjin refuses to return. 

 

Warm human blood drips down Jimin’s arm and blooms red across his skin. The blood-stained blue of his paper thin sleeve drips onto the rock below him. 

 

Humans bleed a lot and for a variety of reasons, often relating to pain. Humans need their blood to survive because without it their bodies will refuse to operate, and if enough blood is lost before collecting more, eventually, the body will die and decompose. The exact amount of blood Jimin can lose without facing fatality is unknown. The man with fake eyes had infinite access to human blood to pump into Jimin when he spilled too much into the grates under the operating table. 

 

On his first day in the operating room, Jimin made the man with the fake eyes bleed when he pulled out a pair of scissors and Jimin fought back. The doctor laughed and continued with the incision. Laughing is a sound humans make when they have made another feel powerless. It’s a form of taunting unique to humans. A pixie’s laugh sounds nothing like a human’s. 

 

When Jimin stands, he feels light headed the way humans do when they can’t keep enough blood in their bodies to circulate properly to their brains, or when they move from one operating table to another too quickly before given a chance to recover the blood they lost. He sways on his human legs without the balance his wings offer. He hasn’t used his legs in a while. His first step sends him tumbling back toward the ground. Jimin is powerless even against a force as weak as gravity. Powerless won’t get his wings back. Powerless isn’t how he escaped the operating room.

 

Looking around as much as his stiff neck will allow, he focuses and unfocusses his eyes on the glyphs lining the structures looming over him on all sides, casting swirly neon shadows across what appears to be a human’s version of a street.  

 

“Club 13”

 

“24 hours”

 

“Magic Shoppe”

 

Jimin’s panic subsides. Seokjin told Jimin there were no creatures of magic on Terra Firma, yet there are magic shops here as well as Jimin’s home. He believed the existence of magic to be an unfamiliar concept to humans. Perhaps a mage has expanded their market to the humans. Jimin has nothing to offer the magician in return for healing his arm. He can’t offer his dust, the strongest conductor of magic known to mages, or his speed, unmatched by even the strongest of humans.

 

Despite pressing his hand onto the wound, he can’t keep all his blood inside his arm. A contract with the mage in the shop his only option. 

 

Jimin stumbles to the door underneath the swirly purple and yellow letters. He never opened the door in the operating room, but he observed how they work. By applying pressure to the right area, humans can coax doors to move to the side and grant access to new rooms. These doors are different in size, color, and opacity, but appear to operate in a similar behavior, displaying two bars attached to the surface for humans to hold. 

 

Jimin’s grip on the bar is slick with blood and it smears red all over the handle. He pulls with the little strength he has left in him, but the door refuses to budge. He pulls again, leaning his whole body away from the doors, but they remain closed. 

 

Jimin notices instructions scribed into the door behind the handle. 

 

“P-u-sh...” Jimin reads. 

 

He grips the bar one more time, pushing with his whole body. The doors open for him and swing out to reveal a warm, dimly lit room with the strangest shapes and objects displayed on the walls and on every surface. Much like the potion shops back home, there are patterns on the walls and floor, mixing warm browns and reds and soft yellow lights to create an atmosphere significantly less intimidating than the white walls to which he grew painfully accustomed.

 

There are several round black tables crowding the space, each set equidistant from each other with chairs matching in shine and smoothness pushed neatly underneath. 

 

As the doors swing closed of their own free will behind Jimin, he locks eyes with a human before he hears its panicked heartbeat. Two heartbeats. There are two humans in the room, and both stare at him with an emotion Jimin doesn’t recall studying. Something similar to confusion.

 

Confusion is what humans feel when encountering a situation unfamiliar to them. These humans have heartbeats that sing a tune mixed with confusion and panic to form an entirely new, unfamiliar emotion.  

 

Bewilderment, possibly.

 

The cold droll that every human heart in the operating room possessed is nowhere near as gentle as the two staring at Jimin. One of the humans sits in a chair with his feet on the table. His features appear similar to those of the sidhe, but his lack of wings and dust tell Jimin he is, without a doubt, a human. Jimin had no idea human’s hair could appear mint green like a fairy’s. The other human is hidden behind the mint haired human’s feet but he appears as tall as a warlock. Still, his heart reads human. 

 

Disappointment. Jimin experiences disappointment when he hears only the two human heartbeats. There is no mage here, and absolutely no magic. 

 

A trap. 

 

Suddenly, the soft yellow lights become too bright for Jimin and a splitting headache rips through his skull. He manages to keep one eye open should the humans attack. Neither of them move. 

 

“I thought you locked the door,” the tall human says. His eyes hold steady on Jimin, pinning him in place. Without dust Jimin can’t propel himself out of the fake magic shop, and as he continues to lose blood he fears he won’t have the energy to run either. 

 

“I did,” the mint haired human says. He then turns back to Jimin and shouts, “Did you bust my fuckin’ door?”

 

Confusion. Fear? Panic. Jimin’s mind reels through the human emotions so quickly he’s unable to pinpoint which, exactly, he is feeling at one time. It’s as if he can feel multiple at once, despite his human anatomy, restricted to one at a time. 

 

“Hey, buddy, are you good?” 

 

Buddy? Is Buddy good? Was that the question? 

 

“Holy shit, that’s a lot of blood!” 

 

Jimin doesn’t know the proper amount of blood he should be losing. Apparently, this is too much. Jimin clenches his fingers tight around his arm in an attempt to keep his blood in his body. Neither of the humans move to attack him. Their hearts are absent of hostility, and for the first time since entering the human’s domain, Jimin senses no danger from the melodies within their heartbeats. 

 

A different breed of human. 

 

Doctors are vicious creatures, unpredictable and void of empathy, but the two humans in front of him seem to offer a wider range of emotions. There are some he’s never studied before. There are emotions singing from their hearts unlike any of the thirty-three emotions of which humans are capable. 

 

The shorter human rushes to Jimin in a display of speed he has never observed in a doctor. Jimin’s reflexes are slow. Human bodies rip and break too easily for speed. If all it took for Jimin to be rendered immobile is a bit of lost blood over the course of just a few minutes, it’s a wonder how Jimin stayed alive in the operating room despite the man with the fake eyes stealing bag fulls of his blood every day. 

 

“Easy, easy,” the taller one says, suddenly next to the other in front of Jimin. 

 

The human with mint hair presses his hands against Jimin’s shoulders and squeezes lightly. There isn’t much Jimin can do against two humans without his dust should they attack—he can barely open his eyes after blinking let alone fight back against the humans’ viscous killing instincts. 

 

“Don’t fucking touch me,” Jimin says. His voice scratches his throat and comes out a soft whisper. Despite his use of aggressive wording and tone, the humans in front of him appear unintimidated. 

 

“We’re not going to hurt you,” the human with the mint hair says. 

 

Humans are skilled liars and known for their manipulation tactics. They tear down each other’s defences with their words in a way that outmatches bodily damage while also affecting their cognitive decision making skills and rationality. 

 

“Are you dizzy? Here, sit down.” The taller human pulls a chair from under the nearest table and slides it behind Jimin.

 

He refuses to sit. Trust on Terra is a dangerous illusion. 

 

“It’s okay, Hoseok is a doctor.”

 

Doctor. A human who has excelled in the field of human physiology, psychology, and biology and knows every way to harm a person, like the man with fake eyes. 

 

The human called Hoseok may be different breed of doctor, or may be deceiving him like the doctors in the operating room.

 

Jimin refuses to sit. The human called Hoseok pushes the chair into his knees from behind and the human with mint hair lowers Jimin into it. The cushion he falls into is almost comfortable and it takes the strain off his legs. He no longer feels light headed. 

 

“Please,” Jimin whispers against his will, as if humans are capable of empathy. Humans don’t respond to surrender. They do as they please, but still, Jimin tries. If he can buy enough time to regain enough dust to combust the surrounding area he can escape.

 

“Please,” he tries again. It’s a word unfamiliar to humans, but the two in front of him react, their hearts softening.

 

“I’m sorry.” Another phrase humans have and rarely use.

 

“I’ll go back.” It’s what they want. If they think he will cooperate, they might not hurt him any more.

 

“I’m sorry,” he whispers again, pressing his fingers deeper into his arm. 

 

“He’s going mad.”

 

“Yoongi, get him some water,” the human Hoseok, apparently their leader, instructs the man called Yoongi. 



Neither of the humans touch Jimin once he has sat down. Yoongi disappears behind a door in the back of the room, leaving Jimin alone with the doctor. He bends down and looks Jimin directly in the eye. Within the dark brown eyes hums a tune akin to that of a gentle breeze.

 

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Hoseok says. His voice is softer than a doctor’s voice, absent of the bite and threat of the others like him.  

 

When Jimin blinks his eyes stay closed longer than intended. Yoongi appears in front of him, offering glass filled with water as if expecting Jimin to interact with it. 

 

Jimin doesn’t. Yoongi sets the water on the ground. 

 

“I couldn’t find the first aid kit,” Yoongi says to Hoseok. 

 

“Jungkook must still have it. Shit,” Hoseok says. “Call him? See if he can bring it over.”

 

Yoongi leaves Jimin’s fading line of vision again.

 

“What’s your name?” 

 

“You may not have my name,” Jimin says. 

 

How arrogant for a human to assume he can steal the name of a pixie. 

 

“That’s fine. Can I see your arm? You shouldn’t hold onto it like that. You’ll get an infection.”

 

Hoseok’s hands match the color of his face and arms unlike the doctors in the lab with their cold, textureless blue hands. Hoseok’s are warm as he lowers Jimin’s hand to see the raw skin where Jimin held a vice grip

 

Hoseok gasps. “How did this happen?” 

 

Concern. An emotion humans often fake to lower the defenses of the humans around them. It’s a trap, but Jimin doesn’t want to appear suspicious of the humans. He has to appear weak, like they can throw him around and rip him open whenever they felt like it. Keeping the human under the illusion of power will buy Jimin time. He hopes. 

 

“I escaped,” Jimin says.

 

Hoseok’s heartbeat skips and speeds up, ringing with confusion and something Seokjin would call pity. When humans view another creature as fragile or broken, they take pity on them. It’s humiliating—another emotion that Jimin feels under Hoseok’s gaze.

 

How dangerous would it be to trust just these humans, Jimin wonders. 

 

Curiosity killed the cat.

 

Jimin decides it isn’t worth finding out. 

 

“From the hospital? Were you in a fight?”

 

“No,” Jimin says. 

 

“A domestic dispute?”

 

“It doesn’t matter. Just...help me?” Pathetic

 

“I’m trying to, but I need to understand what caused this damage.”

 

Maybe, Jimin thinks, Seokjin was wrong when he preached about all humans being vicious, selfish creatures. Hoseok is the complete opposite. And more than Seokjin, Jimin trusts his own instincts. 



“One of the...things with the shining red eyes ate me. I escaped.” Jimin winces at the memories as they catch up to him. His arm suddenly hurts more than it did when he made contact with the ground that caused the blood loss. “I scraped my arm on the rock outside. Fix it?”

 

Distrust. Confusion. An urge to understand. Jimin can read Hoseok’s feelings like he is seeing his thoughts painted on his chest, which means his dust is returning. Slowly, but finally.

 

“I’ll be right back.” Hoseok stands up, towering over Jimin for a moment before walking behind Jimin where he loses sight of him, and his body is too stiff with pain to turn.

 

A sound like running water comes from the back of the room, and Hoseok comes back with a dripping red cloth, wringing it out all over the floor in his hurry back. None of the red bleeds from the cloth. The blood stained into it has been there too long. 

 

Hoseok lifts Jimin’s arm to study dirt-filled gash and uses the red cloth to wipe away the excess blood. It doesn’t do much to rid his gown of the stain. It stings and sends shivers up and down his arm but he doesn’t convey any sign of pain. He’s lowered himself enough. 

 

“Looks like it’s already begun to clot up. You shouldn’t be losing any more blood. Sorry we don’t have anything on hand, but Jungkook should be here soon with a first aid kit.” 

 

Jungkook.Another human.

 

Hoseok lifts the water to Jimin’s face.

 

“You’re probably dehydrated. When was the last time you ate?”

 

The last time Jimin ate anything with his mouth was at home around ten calendar years before. Since entering the human’s domain he hasn’t been offered any food. The only nutrition he received was through a tube stuck in his arm. The man with the fake eyes said if he consumed food or liquids through his esophagus it would get in the way of his research and might spill out of his stomach when he made incisions. 

 

“It’s been a long time,” Jimin says. 

 

“Jungkook said he’s on his way!” Yoongi bursts back into the room, startling Jimin.

 

Stupidly, Jimin acts on instinct in fear for his life, forgetting about his plan to appear weak in front of the humans and, using the dust he just regained, pulls a chair out from the table nearest Yoongi.

 

It skids to a stop between himself and the human. For all the arrogance and ego humans possess, this one lacks the basic coordination it takes to gauge the distance between himself and the chair, acting too slow and stumbling over the chair. 

 

A thin cloud of dust cloud falls to the floor from the chair in a shimmering display of pale brown and covers every surface surrounding Yoongi. 

 

“Yoongi!” Hoseok shoots off the ground and runs over to his subordinate. “What did you just do?”

 

“I...I don’t know,” Yoongi stutters and pats down his body, sending more clouds of dust into the air. He waves his hand through the plume and inspects the dust caught on his fingers. “Glitter?”  

 

These humans don’t know what dust is. The humans Seokjin told him about were threatening and as intelligent as some wizards. Hoseok and Yoongi lack even basic observation skills. 

 

The way Seokjin described his experience with humans doesn’t align. If the humans wanted to hurt him or eat him or force him back into the operating room, Jimin would sense their intentions. 

 

“Don’t breathe it in,” Jimin says, standing from the chair to match the humans at eye level. “Humans can experience allergic reactions to exposure.”

 

“Humans?” Hoseok asks. Skepticism

 

They can’t keep up.  Not all humans are as intelligent as Jimin thought. 

 

“Humans aren’t built to be able to ingest dust.”

 

“Dust,” Yoongi repeats, incredulous.

 

Disbelief. Fear. Jimin can hear their emotions louder than before. His dust is returning. He won’t have to feign helplessness much longer. He might not waste dust to kill these humans if they had no intention to kill him. 

 

They are still afraid. Fear can turn hostile if it lingers. Jimin has to offer them a level of decency to stagnate their fear before it festers into agression.

 

“I wasn’t trying to kill you,” Jimin says. “You have a kind heartbeat. I have no intention of hearing it stop.”

 

“Ah, you must have hit your head pretty hard out there,” Hoseok says, his voice shaking.

 

The humans can’t even see what’s right in front of them. The injury is on Jimin’s arm, not his head. 

 

“I didn’t hit my head,” Jimin argues. “I injured my arm on my way out from that creature’s jaw. My head never made contact with your streets.”

 

“Creatures?” Yoongi asks. His fear spikes with every word Jimin says. The density they display tests Jimin’s patience. 

 

“It has four round legs and bright red eyes. It ran away after I escaped.”

 

Behind his back, Jimin gathers a swirl of dust in his palm. If he chooses, he can send it at the humans and they would burn where they stood, and their home, presumably made of wood judging by the warm colors and patterns, would crumble. Jimin lets go of the dust and it falls to the floor behind him. He doesn’t need it yet. 

 

“Is he describing a car?” Hoseok whispers like he thinks Jimin won’t hear him from across the room. 

 

Yoongi does what humans do to convey uncertainty and raises his shoulders and shakes his head. He turns Hoseok by his arm so they face away from Jimin. Any creature with a sliver of intelligence would never turn its back on a potential threat. Jimin begins to wonder if Hoseok and Yoongi are humans at all. 

 

“That’s definitely a hospital gown,” Yoongi whispers. “I don’t think he’s...all there. We have to take him back to the hospital,” he turns back around to face Jimin, displaying no caution in his stance, “And where the hell is Jungkook with that first aid kit?” 

 

When his eyes fix on Jimin, Yoongi’s heart beats with a vague hostility. Before he moves into an offensive position, Jimin wraps his dust around the leg of the nearest table and blocks the path between Yoongi and himself. 

 

“You’re confused,” Jimin says. The humans flinch. “And you’re scared, but I have no reason to hurt you. You helped me heal without bonding a contract so I will repay your kindness by leaving you unharmed.”

 

Somehow that terrifies the humans even more. Hoseok and Yoongi’s fear turn to terror

 

Jimin waves the table back into its original spot, making the humans retreat further away to the back of the room.

 

“How are you doing that? What’s with the glitter?” Yoongi swipes his hand over the nearest chair to collect the dust, and he brings it to his face to smell it. 

 

“Don’t!” Jimin warns. Yoongi drops his hand. “I told you already, pixie dust can make humans sick.”

 

Hoseok keeps his eyes locked on Jimin like he’s afraid that if he looks away Jimin will pounce. 

 

“Are you saying you’re...a pixie?” Hoseok utters, his voice low and heart trembling. Disbelief, again. 

 

“Don’t pixies have wings?” Yoongi asks Hoseok. 

 

“How the hell would I know? They don’t exist,” Hoseok says.

 

These humans know about wings, yet not of a pixie’s inability to lie. If they sense dishonesty, Jimin fears they won’t hold back any longer.

 

“I’d show you my wings but they.…” He feels a pang in his chest. The skin on his back where his wings should be suddenly feels raw. “They tore them off.” 

 

“Your wings,” Yoongi repeats. “Hoseok, do you think he escaped from some lab?” he whispers. 

 

Jimin’s human heart speeds. The words make him dizzy and the world closes in around him, halting all his progress of escaping. 

 

They know about the lab. And about Jimin. And they are going to send him back.

 

Jimin was wrong. How could he be so ignorant to believe he knew better than Seokjin? That he should reject his advice and let these humans think they were assisting him? Without any dust left, Jimin is again at a disadvantage. His body is useless in this form. 

 

“Let’s call the cops,” Hoseok whispers. 

 

It’s time for Jimin to go. He’s never heard of a cop before, but the from the implications Jimin knows they would mean bad news for him. If someone as ruthless as a doctor would call on a cop for help, Jimin fears he will never make it out alive, not in this form.

 

Just as Jimin turns to run, the doors behind him swing open and slam into the walls on either side. Jimin jumps and a plume of purple dust shoots from his body and settles on the floor around him. 

 

“Did I hear a fucking narc in here?” a voice booms from the doorway.

 

A human with the heartbeat of a young but frighteningly independent soul bounds through the doorway. He holds a bag over his shoulder that clanks when he moves and stands taller than any human Jimin encountered before.

 

Jimin’s immediate reaction is to throw himself at the human with all his strength and knock him out against the floor. But he never jumps, frozen in place as the human kicks the doors shut behind him. 

 

Is this a cop? 

 

Terrifying.  

 

“Jungkook! What took you so long?” Yoongi yells. 

 

Jimin can hardly hear the hearts behind him over the heavy sound of Jungkook’s rhythmic, familiar beat—the sound of a battle drum used by warriors at home to signify their intent to war with their enemies. The beat does its job to paralyze Jimin. 

 

“Secret reasons,” Jungkook says. Even his voice is reminiscent of a sound that to Jimin means bloodshed. 

 

When Jungkook meets Jimin’s eyes, Jimin feels a rush of insecurity. He hears nothing but the strong beat of a warrior’s heart from the human’s chest. A brazen power within his soulful brown eyes akin to that of a deer Jimin once met. 

 

Jimin is terrified, but it’s melded with another feeling, one Seokjin has never described to him before. There are too many emotions to compartmentalize and it makes Jimin dizzy to think about.

 

He fights to stay upright, to show he isn’t afraid of a human, to stand his ground when his instincts tell him to lower himself and plead. 

 

“Who’s the fairy?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Shock. 

 

Jimin might die here, mistaken for a fairy, of all creatures, at the hands of the humans. Pixies can’t be killed, but humans can. Jimin already feels like he’s about to take his last breath.  

 

“This guy broke in and threw glitter everywhere and thinks he’s a pixie,” Yoongi says quickly. “And, I know, it’s crazy, but he’s been doing some crazy shit. I think he’s on drugs, so—”

 

“So you were going to call the fucking cops?” Jungkook barks.

 

Jimin’s human body cowers inwards but he holds his stance.

 

“He’s shaking. What the fuck did you do?”

 

Jimin swallows hard. He can’t leave now, can’t even see the door behind Jungkook. 

 

“He—” Hoseok starts, but Jungkook cuts him off. 



“Hoseok, look at him. He’s terrified.”



“Terrified?” Jimin snaps. “Do I look terrified to you?” He can’t lie to say he isn’t.

 

Of all the humans he has encountered, Jungkook intimidates him the most. If he perceives Jimin to be terrified of him it means he knows Jimin is weak right now. It means he knows can overpower him. 

 

“Yeah,” Jungkook says, “You look terrified. You also look like you ran away from a hospital with a batshit insane story to tell. What did they do to you? Did Hoseok treat your arm? Let me see—” 

 

When Jungkook reaches for Jimin’s arm, Jimin reacts before he can process what he’s doing. He dodges and swipes the back of Jungkook’s hand. The contact with the human burns.

 

Jungkook winces and steps away. If he thinks he can just proke and prod at Jimin like the doctors in the lab without Jimin putting up a fight, Jimin still has a chance to catch him off guard. 

 

“Sorry, I should have asked first.” Jungkook drops the bag from his shoulder and it lands on the ground with an unexpected thud, sending Jimin into the air as he emits another cloud of purple dust. 

 

The bag buzzes as Jungkook pulls a tab from one end to the other, then he reaches inside and takes out a white metal box with a red symbol on the front made up of two intersecting lines, matching perfectly with the symbol he saw engraved into various surfaces in the operating room.  

 

Unconsciously Jimin drops to his knees. His power drains again. He can’t access his dust. This time it isn’t because of an injection. When he tries to summon a cloud of dust between himself and Jungkook, he can’t find any. Fear appears to act as a natural suppressant to his dust. 

 

“It’s okay, you’re fine. You’re here.” Jungkook drops down to his level, too close. Much too close. “What’s your name?”

 

“He won’t tell us—”

 

“I didn’t ask you, Yoongi.”  

 

“I won’t let you have my name.” Jimin’s voice is embarrassingly uneven, broken, and he doesn’t meet Jungkook’s eyes.

 

“I’m not going to write it down or anything. I just want to know what it is so I can address you the way you want to be addressed. Is that okay?”

 

The tone of his heart suggests innocence, though the box with the red symbol still sits right in front of Jimin, a reminder of what Jungkook is. The mark does something to his psychology that brings his mind to the very edge of his consciousness. It hurts. He can’t stop heaving. He doesn’t stop shaking until minutes pass and Jungkook makes no offensive advances. His heart plays less like a drum and more like a heartbeat accompanied by the song akin to that of a harp’s melody. 

 

Defeat

 

“It’s Jimin. “

 

“Nice to meet you, Jimin. I’m Jungkook.”

 

Jimin can’t slow his breathing. He doesn’t even remember falling to the floor.  

 

“You said you’re...a pixie, right?”

 

“It doesn’t make a difference if you believe me or not. If you’re going to kill me, you’re going to kill me.”

 

Jungkook makes a sound similar to the way a pixie would laugh. Not a human laugh—not the cruel intentioned cackling that doctors make before they make an incision. There is no evil in his voice. 

 

“I’m not going to kill you. Sorry for calling you a fairy. Your hair is orange, I thought I was being clever.”

 

“You were wrong.”

 

“That happens sometimes. Can I see your wound? Yoongi said it was on your arm?” Jungkook makes no move to restrain Jimin. He reads only intrigue and curiosity in Jungkook’s heart. 

 

Jungkook takes Jimin’s arm in his hand after Jimin ignores his question. The blood rushing under his fragile human skin stings like static when they make contact again. Jungkook doesn’t seem to feel anything, or at least, doesn’t seem bothered by the shock. 

 

Jimin bites his cheek in the way his human body reacts to anxiety when Jungkook opens the white box and takes out a small package that Jimin can smell from where he sits. It’s the same substance doctors use to sanitize Jimin’s skin after they wash away his blood. The cloth is cold and wet as it soaks up the dried blood, revealing Jimin’s last tattoo, smooth and unbroken on his shoulder. He forgot what the conditions of the contract were when he entered Terra, the tattoo serving as the only reminder that he has one left unsatisfied.

 

“Unbelievable,” Yoongi breathes. 

 

“I heal fast.” Jimin yanks his arm away and stumbles backwards until his back hits a chair.

 

“I thought pixies were supposed to be tiny,” Jungkook says as he bunches up the cloth and sets it on the table by his head. 

 

“I’m not supposed to be anything. What would you know about pixies?”

 

“Clearly nothing,” Jungkook says. 

 

“Clearly,” Jimin says.

 

“Hey, I’m trying to help you. Play nice, okay?”

 

“If you’re going to try to take me back to the operating room, I’ll kill you,” Jimin seethes and involuntarily exhales a plume of dark crimson dust like ash. He hopes it intimidates Jungkook. 

 

Jungkook holds his hands in front of him, palms facing Jimin in a gesture that Jimin recognizes, a common occurrence in all creatures. A defensive position, or a surrender. Not in fear the way Jimin hoped he would feel, but in another form of pity Jimin hasn’t encountered before. 

 

“I’m not taking you anywhere you don’t want to go.”

 

“Don’t mock my intelligence. I know what that is.” Jimin’s eyes lock onto the box, on the red symbol. No matter how terrible the sight of it makes him feel, his gaze is stuck, unhindering despite the rest of his body screaming at him to kick it across the room and fly out the door. 

 

Jungkook covers the symbol with his hand.

 

“Jimin,” he starts slowly. “Can I help you up?”

 

Shock. Failure? Jimin can’t tell. 

 

Clouded by so many unfamiliar human emotions, Jimin is numb to his instincts. When Jungkook stands up he takes Jimin’s with him. There is no static this time. There is no hostility, no dishonesty in the touch as Jungkook coaxes him up from the floor and into the nearest chair. 

 

“Hoseok, would you brew some coffee?” Jungkook asks.

 

Jimin forgot there were more humans in the room. His spacial perception and basic instincts are shrouded in human feelings that his body was never built to undergo.

 

“Coffee? It’s two in the morning.”

 

Yoongi tugs on Hoseok’s sleeve and tilts his head towards the door at the back of the room. Yoongi displays an understanding that Jimin doesn’t feel safe around them. Jungkook understands this too. Hoseok doesn’t. He follows Yoongi anyways. 

 

When Jimin is alone with the human Jungkook, he starts to relax. He shouldn’t be relaxed. He should be on his way back home with his wings on his back and his dust filling his veins, not sitting across a table from a human he knows nothing about. 

 

Trust on Terra is a dangerous illusion. He isn’t ignorant enough to forget that. 

 

“So,” Jungkook says. He rests his chin on his hands and stares into Jimin’s soul from the other side of the table. “You’re you’re the reason for all this glitter?”

 

“It’s dust,” Jimin corrects. “It’s…” None of your business. “It’s what helps me use my magic. It works different in your realm.” 

 

Too much information. Jimin needs to leave. 

 

“My realm?” Jungkook asks as if he doesn’t know how to address his own domain.

 

“The human realm, Terra.” 

 

“I see.”

 

“You don’t believe me.” Jimin feels what Seokjin would call disappointment.

 

To be disappointed, a human has hoped a situation would turn out in their favor, only to find out that the outcome was less desirable than anticipated. Jimin remembers every one of his lessons and applies them best he can to what he’s feeling, but studying emotions and feeling them are vastly different in practice. 

 

“So, show me something that’ll make me believe you.”

 

“Why?” Why not just kill me? 

 

“Because I’m curious. Because I’ve never met a pixie before,” he lies.

 

It isn’t because he is curious. Jimin can hear a hidden intention. Jungkook is helping Jimin for his own human ego—to prove to Jimin he has power over his future. 

 

Regret rings in Jungkook’s heart.

 

“Someone has misplaced their trust in you before,” Jimin says. “And you want to prove to yourself that you’re stronger now.”

 

Jungkook stiffens, his heart reflecting his panic. 

 

“I promise I won’t hurt you,” Jungkook says, “And I won’t tell anyone about you either. So, show me something that will make me believe in magic?” 

 

An opportunity to intimidate.

 

Jimin concentrates the minuscule amount of dust he has recovered at the bag Jungkook carried in, left to lie forgotten on the floor. Using his dust he carries the bag through the air and onto the table between himself and Jungkook and lets it fall, shaking the table. The disbelief in Jungkook’s eyes was to be expected. Jungkook, though perhaps a different breed from the kind Jimin has studied, is still human, and has limited control of how far he can suspend his disbelief to accept unfamiliar situations. 

 

Using the rest of his power, Jimin lifts the box with the evil symbol and, curling his hand into a fist on finger at a time, crumples the box under the pressure of dust. It creaks and crunches in the in the air next to Jungkook’s head. Watching the red sigil deform and crumple under his power brings a new human emotion into the mix in his head. 

 

Pride is a word similar to what he feels when Jungkook looks at him with the emotion that sounds like excitement

 

“Incredible,” Jungkook whispers, tapping on the side of the ruined white box before Jimin lets it crash into the ground. “Where are you from?”

 

Jimin doesn’t dare utter the name under the human sun. But as a pixie with the inability to lie, and as a human eager for further connection to other humans, Jimin has to give an answer. 

 

“A place I can’t reach,” he says. 

 

“What’s stopping you?”

 

“They have my wings. My body is basically human.”

 

Despair. Sympathy? 

 

If Jimin didn’t know any better, he’d say that the human Jungkook was very close to displaying signs of empathy. Seokjin would be impressed.  

 

“That must have hurt,” Jungkook says, his sympathetic tone matching his expression. Humans show their emotions on their faces as well as in their hearts because other humans lack the ability to read heartbeats. However, humans can fake expressions. Their hearts tell no lies. 

 

“You wouldn’t know about hurt.”

 

“That’s not a fair assumption. I broke my femur and my knee at the same time doing rooftop parkour once.”

 

“Rooftop...parkour?”

 

“Fancy tumbling. Humans will do anything if they’re dared to. It was ridiculously stupid.”

 

Jimin reacts how humans react to outlandish tales they find incredulous, and he scoffs. 

 

“I’m serious, it was awful! They had to sew my leg back up, I still have scars from the surgery.” 

 

“You’ve had surgery too?” The human urge to connect is stronger than his pixie instincts to remain silent. “Were you in the operating room?” This explains how he acquired the box with the evil symbol? “How did you escape?”

 

“Escape? Nothing like that. They let me go after the numbing agents wore off.”

 

“You got numbing agents when they cut you open?”

 

Horror rings feintly in Jungkook’s heart. His eyes widen. Humans have an affinity for harming those different from them, but the more similar a being or another human appears to them, the better treatment they receive from one another. 

 

“Who would do that to you?”

 

“Humans. Doctors. They’re not like you,” Jimin says, and though he is unsure whether or not he believes himself, it has to be true. “If you ever met a doctor you would understand. You should be careful around them.” 

 

“Hoseok is a doctor.”

 

“Must be a different breed.”

 

Jimin doesn’t understand why Jungkook is looking at him like that. Like he’s trying to understand. Like he’s calculating. Like he could feel the pain behind Jimin’s words. 

 

“Yeah, must be.” Jungkook is unsure. He stares past Jimin and they sit in silence.

 

The air in the room is heavy on Jimin’s shoulders, the sudden change in aura kicking him in the gut. Jungkook feels awfully pitiful towards Jimin and it’s making Jimin uncomfortable. 

 

It was never Jimin’s intention to speak so many words to the human. Seokjin won’t believe Jimin’s story when he gets back home—how he met an entirely different subspecies of human for them to study. 

 

If he can make it back home, and if they don’t reject him upon the sight of his damaged wings. 

 

“I’m sorry you’ve had shitty experiences with humans, but whatever they did to you—most humans, we aren’t like that.”

 

“I’ve studied humans for longer than you’ve been alive,” Jimin says. It’s not a lie if he isn’t sure, more of a bluff based on how his spirit has barely aged. “This is not a debate you’re equipped to win.” 

 

Jungkook is too young to have a clue about Jimin. About himself, about doctors, about the rest of the worlds around him. It’s irritating how arrogant humans are. 

 

“Who taught you about humans?”

 

“Seokjin.”

 

“Seokjin…” Jungkook nods. Suspicion. “Okay. Well, if you’re stuck here, like you say, maybe you could try to learn about humans for yourself? I don’t know what kind of humans Seokjin studied, but I think they got a lot of things about humans wrong.”

 

Outside of the operating room, none of the knowledge Seokjin shared matches up. And perhaps the human Jungkook is right, Jimin might not know anything about his breed of human. 

 

A scary, gut wrenching thought crosses Jimin’s mind when he thinks of returning home. Without his wings, he is landlocked, and without his dust, he is useless against the doctors in the lab who have his wings. He considers his current anatomy and the common human strategy known as “safety in numbers” and wonders if it applies to him, a pixie in a human’s body. He wonders if Jungkook could be considered an ally in his fight against the doctors to recover his wings.

 

“I want to help you,” Jungkook says.

 

“You can’t do anything for me.”

 

“I can help you get home.”

 

“You think you can help me get my wings back? You think you can change my mind?” Ridiculous. Jungkook is as dense and insane as Hoseok and Yoongi. There is no way this species of human is related to doctors. 

 

“I’ll help you.”

 

Safety is in numbers. Intelligence aside, Jungkook starts to look like a realistically reliable ally that Jimin would want on his side. 

 

“If you betray me, I will end your life. Do you understand that?”

 

“I believe you. Yoongi and Hoseok will help you too.”

 

“I don’t need their help. I don’t trust them.”

 

“But you trust me?”

 

“No. But you haven’t killed me yet, even though you clearly have the advantage over me in the state I’m in. You’re strong compared to the humans Yoongi and Hoseok.” 

 

Jungkook laughs softly and leans back in his chair. 

 

“I don’t trust you,” Jimin reiterates, “I only want to survive. I’m sure as a human you can understand this. We all share the same instincts at our core—protect ourselves.”

 

“And protect the ones we love.”

 

Jimin stiffens at the word.

 

Love is an emotions unique to fauna of Terra. Love is what enables humans to be cruel to one another. It’s a word they use to describe possession and power. Seokjin never taught Jimin about love. He learned the word from the man with fake eyes.

 

“So, how do we get your wings back?”

 

“We can’t yet. I need more dust.”

 

“Okay, so, how do we get you more dust?”

 

“I have to wait.” 

 

He is giving the humans too much information. He’ll either definitely die at the hands of the doctors alone, or probably die among these humans. Jimin will take his chances with the weaker humans. 

 

“Okay, we’ll wait. In the mean time, do you wanna, like, go throw bricks at cop cars with me?”

 

Jimin doesn’t recognize several words Jungkook used. 

 

“What is that?” 

 

“It’s uh, a fun bonding exercise.”

 

Jungkook isn’t lying. 

 

“Okay.”

 


 

Yoongi pushes through the door with his back, balancing two cups of coffee filled to the brim, one in each hand. When he turns, he sees the cafe is perfectly clean and rearranged in its original format. There is an impressive amount of glitter, making the room look like gays on their way to pride parade, a balled up first aid kit on the floor, and a missing pixie. Jungkook’s bag is gone too. 

 

“Where did they go?” Hoseok asks, scoping the room. “Do you think the pixie…”

 

“Do I think he killed Jungkook? No. I think it went much better than that.” Yoongi smiles. 

 

Jungkook is most adventurous young man Yoongi has ever met. He knows what Jungkook uses that bag for. And if he knows Jungkook at all—and he takes pride in knowing him like his own brother—he knows that not only is he safe, but he is about to show the pixie one of the many joys of being human. 

 

Jungkook shines in a way Yoongi can’t explain when people come to him for support. As if helping every person who has busted through the front door of the Magic Shoppe, bleeding and afraid, gives him a chance to redeem him from his guilt over the one he couldn’t save. 

 

“Are you sure we didn’t just get drunk or something? Were they even here?”

 

Yoongi sets the cups on the counter and wipes some of the fine glitter onto his fingers. It looks more like eyeshadow than actual dust. 

 

“They were here. And they left a huge fucking mess for us to clean.”

 


 

”Why do you carry these with you?” Jimin asks, aiming what Jungkook called a brick at the busted sheet of glass on the front of a police cruiser parked outside of a mall.

 

Jimin is excited to destroy one of the creatures kin with that which tried to eat him. Even if it’s with a human he can’t trust, even if his better judgment is telling him to remove himself from the situation and concentrate on finding his way back home. His pixie demands revenge and his human revels in the excitement of new experiences. 

 

Using dust, Jimin propels the brick into the glass. It shatters the shield to pieces and burrows deep into one of the seats.

 

“I don’t always, but I was on my way to avenge a friend.” Jungkook hops into his throw and flings the brick hard enough at the hood of the car that the sound of contact booms and echoes off the structures around them.

 

He turns back to Jimin, winding his arm and grabbing another brick. “I was actually on my way to use these on a friend’s ex’s car shop,” he tosses the brick lightly to reposition his hold, “But this is more fun—destroying one of these fuckers with someone else who hates them.” He flings the brick into the front and shatters a sheet of glass. “That Seokjin person who taught you about humans probably met a cop or two. I bet that’s why they hate us.”

 

Humans, for all their creations and creativity and vast knowledge of structure and science, also have just as much drive to destroy the things that they have built. Humans are at a constant war with their surroundings. They build and raze in a never ending cycle, and the human side of Jimin wants to comply with the pattern. 

 

Jimin opens Jungkook’s bag to find that Jungkook already threw the last brick. 

 

“Aw, shit,” Jungkook sighs, “I should have brought more. We didn’t even set the alarm off yet.”

 

“Isn’t the ground made of this stuff?” Jimin bends down and pokes at the ground, trying for a weak point he can use to unearth a piece. 

 

“The street? That’s concrete. The roads here are all concrete. What we just threw was hardened clay. So—”

 

A shriek like a mermaid out of water resounds down the street that has Jungkook’s heart vibrating loud in Jimin’s ears. He finds himself in a similar state of panic when, from around the corner of one of the concrete structures, flashes of red and blue overlay the structures. Jimin loses more dust in a cloud of purple at the sight and sounds growing nearer. 

 

Petrified

 

Jungkook smiles, his eyes ablaze with excitement.

 

“What’s that? Did you summon it?”

 

“No, we gotta go!” 

 

Grabbing Jimin’s arm and the empty bag, Jungkook yanks Jimin off of the street and weaves between structures. The humans here are much quicker than the ones he learned about at home. 

 

Jimin doesn’t know what it is they’re running from, or why Jungkook is excited at the idea of a chase. Jimin thought that was something unique to pixies. Though pixies don’t feel emotions on the same physical scale as humans, pixie bodies experience stimulation in a similar pattern. Jimin hasn’t run from a snake or a star since entering Terra. It’s familiar. Without his wings, running is as close as he can come to flying. 

 

Thrill.

 

Jimin paces himself along side Jungkook as they sprint. Had he his wings, he would be far away from the shrieking.

 

Had he his wings, he wouldn’t still be in the human’s realm. 

 

“Quick, left,” Jungkook says and tugs Jimin aside by his sleeve, dragging him in between two tall structures that tower as high as trees above them. There are no forests, no plants aside from a few saplings lining concrete street. Everything is clean cut and structured with intention, which makes it hard for Jimin to keep track of where they came from. 

 

Jungkook pins Jimin to the wall under his arm in a position that would have had him reeling any other moment, but right now, Jungkook is the only one who knows how to combat the flashing lights. Jimin doesn’t know what cops are capable of, but if they have someone with a heartbeat as bold as Jungkook’s running in fear, Jimin isn’t keen on finding out. He still hasn’t regained much dust. The constant injections in increments of eight hours have dulled many of his abilities, rendering parts of him that remains pixie docile. 

 

Safe and frightened at once. It shouldn’t be possible. Mostly, Jimin thinks, what he is feeling is exhilaration.

 

Jungkook’s breathing is heavy, matching Jimin’s own, when he drops his hand from Jimin’s chest to slide down the wall and catch his breath. He displays signs of exhaustion.

 

“Ha!” Jungkook laughs like a pixie again. “Dumb fuckin’ narcs.”

 

“What’s narc?” Jimin asks. 



“A narc is a cop or an apologist.”

 

“What’s an ap—”

 

It happens so quickly, in what humans would call the blink of an eye, that Jimin sees one of the cop cars passing the street beyond their hiding place. They’ve been found.

 

Jungkook is in no condition to brace for combat. They’ll die if Jimin doesn’t react.

 

In that second, Jimin summons his dust and uses it to halt the legs of the cop car. It screeches and kicks back at the sudden deceleration. 

 

“Jimin—“

 

“Wait,” Jimin says.

 

From Jimin’s understanding, it is highly frowned upon for a human to kill another human, despite their constant urges to attack each other. As a pixie, Jimin has never felt remorse in taking a life, but for Jungkook’s sake, he waits until the humans—the cops—in the car step out to investigate their sudden deceleration. Their hearts have no tune. They just beat to pump blood through their veins. 

 

Jimin snaps his fingers to light a spark and the car combusts into flames, engulfing the entire street in a bright orange light. 

 

“H-Holy shit...” Jungkook breathes.

 

At first, he doesn’t seem as pleased as Jimin predicted, but then he starts smiling. Jimin can hear Jungkook’s heart beat to the tune of elation.

 

Elation is beyond happy for humans. Elation is the feeling humans get when their happiness extends beyond their mind and fills their whole body with something stronger than just an idea or emotion.

 

“That was beautiful,” Jungkook says.

 

Pride. Jimin’s favorite emotion. He was under the impression humans couldn’t conceptualize beauty. 

 

“But lets bail. They’ll find us if we stick around.”

 

Jungkook displays an expert understanding of the space around him with the way he quickly jumps between and around structures, making sure Jimin is right beside him the whole time.

 

Once the heat and flames are out of sight, the sirens are out of range, Jungkook slows down to a brisk walk, and eventually they stop along the street. He keels over while Jimin scopes out the area, seeing it clearly for the first time, not zipping past his vision.

 

The structures are now scarce, with larger gaps between them. There are no more neon glyphs or symbols, and there are absolutely no cop cars to be seen. Behind Jimin is a structure twice the height of the Magic Shoppe with stairs leading up and around it to provide humans without wings access to higher parts of the building.

 

Across the street is a field of tall grass, unkempt and dying, with little floral embellishment. It’s dark, and in his human body Jimin’s vision isn’t as sharp as his natural eyesight, but he thinks he might even see a wall of trees beyond the dead grassy field. 

 

“This,” Jungkook says, his breath still catching up with him as he points to the building with the stairs behind them, “Is where I live.”

 

“You live on this structure?”

 

“Not on it, inside. Five floors up.”

 

“Do you ever fall off?” Even Jimin wouldn’t attempt to climb that high without wings.

 

“That’s what the walls are for. I live inside the building.”

 

“It’s hollow? Like a stump?”

 

“You live in a stump.” Jungkook doesn’t sound surprised. “I thought so.”

 

“I didn’t say I lived in a stump, I said stumps are hollow.” Humans lack of word comprehension is embarrassing. 

 

“They can be, sure.”

 

“They are.” What would Jungkook know about trees? 

 

“Sometimes.”

 

“Stumps are hollow,” Jimin says, folding his arms and shooting a glare ignored by Jungkook. 

 

“Yes,” Jungkook agrees finally. “Sometimes.” 

 

Jungkook reminds reminds Jimin of a fairy. He’s mischievous in an obnoxious way. He knows what he is doing is harmless but that Jimin will react defensively. Jimin didn’t care about being teased by a fairy when he had nothing to feel. Being teased by a human is frustrating. 

 

Jimin huffs and a cloud of dust puffs out. Though he can’t see the color under the dim light of one lamp high up on a smooth, limbless tree, he knows it’s green. If humans are as perceptive as they think they are, they could potentially observe Jimin’s feelings by his dust, just like he can read from their hearts.

 

Naturally, a pixie’s dust reflects the color of their intent. Jimin learned long ago that his pixie part doesn’t know how to handle the way his human part reacts to his emotions, and he loses precious dust with each strong burst of emotion. 

 

“You’re wrong,” Jimin says.

 

“Okay, they’re hollow.” Jungkook sees Jimin’s dust settle on the ground, but he doesn’t react. Ignorant as a human should be. 

 

“Right.”

 

“They’re also not hollow.”

 

“I’m not lying,” Jimin snaps. “I can’t lie. Stumps are hollow.”

 

“How do I know that’s not a lie?”

 

“I’m—”

 

“Fine,” Jungkook holds up his hands, “Fine. I believe you. Let’s go inside, I’m cold.”

 

Jimin resists the urge to battle with a human who lacks the wits to make it fair and drops the stump discussion.

 

Jungkook is asking Jimin to enter his home. Jimin isn’t sure he is even allowed into a human’s home by the laws of nature. He might not make it past the entrance. 

 

“Are you inviting me into your home?” 

 

“Ah, sorry, I didn’t mean to make it weird. That’s not what I meant.”

 

“Why would that be weird?”

 

“It’s not,” he lies, “I mean, like, if you, you know, need a safe place to stay while your dust regenerates, or whatever, you can stay in my apartment.”

 

Jimin scoffs. “And why would I want to stay here?” Something about the way Jungkook can be so wrong with such confidence—it’s astounding. It’s unpredictable. Humans may not be intelligent, but they are chaotic if nothing else. 

 

“Because if you didn’t, you would have shaken me off already.”

 

“You don’t know that.” He’s not wrong, but he doesn’t know that. 

 

“Let’s go inside?” Jungkook motions to the door at the base of the building. 

 

Jimin doesn’t move. “You first,” he says. 

 

Jungkook reaches behind him into a pocket in his clothes and pulls out a small ring tying together two pieces of metal shaped like keys and offers one to the handle. He turns the door’s handle using the metal key and the door swings open on creaking joints. 

 

Jungkook steps through. Jimin lingers under the doorway. This is the biggest risk he has taken since escaping the operating room. It might prove just as fatal as remaining outside, however, as he fears any other humans he encounters might not be the same breed as Jungkook. If he were to encounter a doctor or a cop without Jungkook, he might never make it back home. 

 

Jimin eyes the outline of the door. No salt, no sheep’s blood, no mushroom circle. No being of magic has been sealed in or out. 

 

“Do I have to invite you in again?” Jungkook asks from the hallway. “Is it like vampire rules? You’re invited.”

 

“I’m not a vampire.” 

 

“Prove it.”

 

Not because Jungkook challenged him, but because Jimin is eager to learn more about the insides of a human home, he takes a breath and lifts his foot gently up the step into the doorway. His leg is still intact on the other side of the frame, so he presses forward.

 

The door slams shut behind him, officially sealing him inside. Without one of Jungkook’s metal objects to offer, the door won’t allow Jimin to pass back through. He may be putting too much trust in Jungkook. 

 

Safety in numbers. Safety with Jungkook. 

 

Inside the building is small, cramped, and dark, and the walls are patchy and not nearly as neat and pristine as the ones in the operating room or the Magic Shoppe, and certainly nothing like his home. Despite the darkness, Jimin finds comfort in these walls. The energy inside the hollow building is low and almost indistinguishable from the street outside. It smells like humans. 

 

Jimin follows Jungkook up the stairs that switch directions four times, passing many doors with different numbers and energies radiating inside. They stop in front of a door with the numbers 5 and 8 engraved on a plaque.

 

Jungkook offers the ring to the door again, using the second, smaller metal key and the door grants him access, swinging open to reveal a room similar in shape to the Magic Shoppe, though only about half the size and not near as crowded with furniture. 

 

“After you,” Jungkook says as he steps aside. 

 

“Why?” Jimin steps away. 

 

A trap. It’s a trap. 

 

“It’s not a trap,” Jungkook assures him. 

 

“Prove it,” Jimin says. 

 

Jungkook does what humans do when they feel agitated by another human and rolls his eyes. Jimin doesn’t appreciate how the gesture makes him feel.

 

Belittled.

 

Once on the other side of the doorway Jungkook spins around to face Jimin, holding out his arms to welcome Jimin in.

 

Inside it’s dark but cozy and more specious than the operating room. 

 

A flash of light, and suddenly the room is lit from above. In front of Jimin are dark red walls covered in large pieces of paper arranged in a specific, aesthetic order according to color and size, each featuring different texts, other humans, and abstract objects that have no correlation to each other. To the left there is a large red couch—the largest Jimin has ever seen in the human world—and in front of it sits a thin black box, what Jimin assumes is a piece of human decor or technology based on the cords running along the wall behind it, not dissimilar to the bright screens they wheeled into the operating room on occasion. Unlike the screens in the operating room, these cords are plugged into a wall and not to Jimin. 

 

There are two doors in front of him, and to the right there is a kitchen. Jimin has never seen a kitchen in person. He learned about them from Seokjin, and the way humans use chemistry and physics in the room, much like a lab, to produce the most efficient form of nutrition. It’s called cooking.

 

“It’s probably nothing like whatever sort of log or mushroom you live in,” Jungkook says. 

 

“You think I live in a mushroom?”

 

“Or a log.”

 

“I don’t….” It’s not worth it. 

 

“One day I’m going to show you a not-hollow stump.”

 

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” There are not stumps on Terra. Trees on Terra aren’t given the opportunity to grow to their full potential before humans destroy them. 

 

Jimin scans the room again for any indication of a trap or cage or gurney.

 

“You’re right, my home looks nothing like this. It’s nowhere near as…” Jimin fumbles with the human terms he knows, trying to pick out the right one to capture the way this room makes him feel. 

 

“Wow, you’re not really one to pull your punches, are you?”

 

“I’m not going to punch you.”

 

“I meant verbally.”

 

“I wasn’t going to insult you, either. I’m looking for is ‘cozy,’ I think.”

 

“A pixie thinks my home is cozy.” Jungkook whistles low and his heartbeat registers at something along the lines of pride, then his heart rate spikes suddenly. 

 

“What’s happening?” Jimin asks. He faces Jungkook, who, for the first time since meeting him, doesn’t look him in the eye. 

 

“What do you mean?” Jungkook asks. “Did you see something?”

 

“You’re feeling embarrassed about something.”

 

What?” Jungkook says. His heart beat doubles in speed. “You can read minds?”

 

“It’s your heart I can read. Humans can’t hear songs in each other’s hearts, let alone translate them into emotions.”

 

“I had no idea you could do that.”

 

“You seem to think you know anything about me.”

 

Jungkook bites his lip.

 

“Yeah,” he agrees. “I mean, we met, like, what, two hours ago? And all we’ve done is throw bricks at cop cars and run around the city. We know nothing about each other.”

 

“That’s not true.” Jimin says. “I know you. I’ve been studying humans for most of my life. I understand everything about you.”

 

Jungkook raises his eyebrows and looks at Jimin like he just told him he’s a pixie for the first time. He doesn’t look upset, and his heart beat doesn’t register faster than normal.

 

Defensive

 

For the first time since meeting, their situation finally seems to catch up to Jungkook and the reality sets in that Jungkook is nowhere near as knowledgeable about Jimin as Jimin is of him. He’s at a tactical disadvantage in wits and combat and he’s finally realizing it. The room grows quiet enough that Jungkook’s heart beat echoes off the walls and meets Jimin’s ears clearly with no disruption. 

 

In a situation like this, what is referred to as stressful, humans need reassurance. Jimin doesn’t understand everything that entails, but he understands that as a pixie iin the body of a human, capable of empathy unlike real humans, he won’t be happy until the others in his environment are happy as well. 

 

“I can’t go back home any time soon, so, we can learn more about each other. I’m curious to know what humans think they know about pixies,” Jimin offers with a sleight of fake enthusiasm. If it works, he’ll remember this tactic for the next time Jungkook feels upset. 

 

“Why can’t you go home?”

 

“I told you. He took my wings.”

 

“‘He’? No, wait, sorry. That’s probably painful. You don’t have to explain.”

 

Jungkook huffs, unsure of what to do with himself. Jimin is unsure as well. Humans use their homes to sleep and eat and store their possessions, whereas pixies use their homes to reconnect with themselves in solitude. He doesn’t know what to do inside a human home.

 

“Do pixies take baths?” 

 

“What’s baths?” Jimin asks, catching the feint change in tune in Jungkook’s heart. “Is it dangerous?”

 

“Not at all.”

 

“Your heart sped up.”

 

“Possibly,” Jungkook says. 

 

“I told you what would happen if you betray me.”

 

Jungkook laughs a laugh that makes Jimin feel like he’s hearing a bard tell a joke. It’s inhuman.

 

“Taking a bath is something humans do because we’re smelly and we need to wash away the dirty stuff that collects on our bodies all day. It’s because of societal norms, and all.”

 

“Do I smell bad to you?” There’s a hint of defensiveness again, this time from Jimin himself, accompanied by something else. Possibly embarrassment. The human part of him doesn’t like the idea of smelling unappealing to other humans. 

 

“Let’s see.” Jungkook leans closer to Jimin than he’s ever been, the closest a human has been to him without the accompaniment of certain metal tools and needles.

 

Jungkook sniffs at Jimin’s neck before Jimin can warn against it, inhaling a plume of pale green dust that settles on his face like glitter before he coughs it up in a storm. 

 

For the first time since leaving home, Jimin laughs too. It’s small and quick and it happens naturally. He laughs at the way Jungkook loses his composure and swats around him to rid the air of the dust. He laughs at the impulsiveness that Jungkook displays. His motivations aren’t clear, and they aren’t as cold and calculated as the doctors and the man with fake eyes.

 

“Did that do anything for you?” Jimin asks.

 

“You smell like rain, I think. You know, that smell after it rains when the air is fresh?”

 

“That’s called petrichor.”

 

“You’re so smart.” It’s a compliment, but Jungkook’s tone and forced smile implies a double meaning to his words.

 

Jimin is being teased. Like Jungkook is a fairy, and he’s teasing Jimin. 

 

“I’m going to take a shower,” Jungkook says, “But, feel free to make yourself comfortable. There’s snacks in the fridge.”

 

“What’s snacks in the fridge?” Jimin asks. 

 

“That’s food and where humans keep food. I’ll show you.” 

 

Jimin follows Jungkook into the kitchen, where Jungkook pulls open a metal door on a box taller than both of them. Inside glows white and various bags and containers full of human food line the shelves, all different colors and shapes and smells. 

 

“Do you like…” Jungkook pushes aside containers and boxes and circular human foods and pulls out a small bottle with a red cork-like top, “Banana milk?” He holds the bottle out to Jimin. 

 

Jimin doesn’t know if he likes banana milk. 

 

“If not, I also have some crackers in the pantry that you can dip in this.” He then pulls out another container, this one flat and round and clear along the edges. “Pixie’s aren’t vegan, are they?”

 

“What’s vegan? What’s in there?”

 

Jungkook closes the fridge and set the container on the counter next to it, then reaches above the fridge to open a smaller wooden door and takes out a box that rattles.

 

“This is called cream cheese. And these are crackers.”

 

Jungkook sets the box of crackers next to the container of cream cheese.

 

“There’s also some strawberries, but they might be moldy. I haven’t gone grocery shopping in a while. Didn’t expect to have company any time soon, sorry.” 

 

“You haven’t done anything to be sorry for,” Jimin says. He can’t take his eyes off the banana milk in Jungkook’s hand, and Jungkook notices him staring. It smells sweet like nectar.

 

When Jungkook twists off the cap and holds the bottle out to Jimin, the smell fills the room, similar to fruit.

 

Jimin hesitates. It could be poison. It could be delicious. He doesn’t take the bottle. 

 

“You drink it first,” Jimin says. 

 

Jungkook raises an eyebrow. He can’t seriously have thought Jimin would let down his guard just because Jungkook has shown Jimin hospitality not commonly found in humans. 

 

“I thought pixies were supposed to be curious and mischievous.”

 

“I told you already, I’m not supposed to be anything. I am what I am. What would you know about pixies?” 

 

“Clearly, nothing,” Jungkook says. 

 

“Clearly.”

 

Jungkook stares at Jimin to make sure he’s watching and takes a sip, then he hands the bottle to him.

 

It tastes just as sweet as it smells.

 

“Do you like it?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“It’s sweet.”

 

“So, yes?”

 

Jimin nods and finishes the bottle. He waits for the poison to kick in, for his limbs to fail and vision blur. He waits for a blackout that he will wake from in the operating room.

 

It’s not poison. If Jungkook wanted to kill him, or take him back to the man with fake eyes, this would have been his chance. Jimin’s dust is low, and he appears unsuspecting.

 

It’s not trust. It’s survival. His instincts were correct. Safety is with Jungkook.

Chapter Text

Jimin reminds Jungkook of someone he tried to save. Jungkook wasn’t able to help them then. He couldn’t stand by like he was supposed to. He should have stayed calm, and after the affects from the trauma wore off, he should never have forgotten their name. 

 

The last time Jungkook had someone in his apartment, they ate all his food, ripped a poster off the wall, and shattered a glass against the front door before storming out. It was over a year ago, and he never invited them back. They said Jungkook was a real piece of work, called him a tool and a dickhead, and then blocked him on all socials. They never returned his poster or the hoodie he leant them. 

 

Jungkook isn’t fond of company. He used to be. He used to host parties and offer his bathroom for hotboxing, but when the party scene grew dull as the company grew repetitive, he closed his doors to everyone but his Yoongi and Hoseok, his family. 

 

Seeing someone in his living room without a joint between their lips or a phone in their hands, ignoring his every attempt to be polite, is refreshing. Even if that person is less person and more…fairy tale. Supernatural? Unearthly? Jungkook isn’t sure what to think of Jimin.

 

His fiery orange hair is the brightest thing in the room. His empty brown eyes remind Jungkook of his roommates from the warehouse. They had similar stories to the pixie in his living room—the needles, the malnutrition, the fighting urge to escape and find their way back to stability. The way they drown in Jungkook’s t-shirts and sweatpants because he prefers baggy clothing and often his guests own little to no clothes of their own. 

 

He wonders if all pixies are this pretty, or if they just have a charm about them that humans are drawn to, and wearing Jungkook’s clothes adds to the inhuman cuteness.

 

“Will you be okay out here for a minute if I take a shower? I can set up my PlayStation for you.” Wait, no, Jimin doesn’t know what a PlayStation is. “You don’t know what a PlayStation is, do you?” 

 

Jimin opens his mouth to answer, but to avoid a mess of cracker crumbs spilled on the table over the pile of wrappers and empty plastic bottles of banana milk, he instead shakes his head. Jimin wipes the crumbs into a neat pile, looking embarrassed. Somehow, some human part of him displays a level or shame, even if he has the table manners of a toddler. Somewhere, he learned not to speak with his mouth full. 

 

“How about a nature documentary?”

 

“What’s documentary?” Jimin asks after he finishes the crackers, then immediately replaces them with the last few from the bag. Jungkook isn’t even mad that Jimin went through the rest of his snacks—banana milk, strawberries, brownies. He would rather see Jimin consume his entire home before cutting him off from presumably the first real food he’s had in days. 

 

Jungkook pushes out from the table and searches the couch for the remote, finding it between the cushions, and turns on the TV.

 

“Documentaries are movies that teach you things. There’s some good ones about animals on Earth.” Jungkook pats the couch before realizing Jimin doesn’t understand the gesture. “Come sit,” he says. 

 

Jimin stands slowly, cautiously, before joining Jungkook in front of the TV. His hollow eyes light up when he falls to the couch and pulls his legs up beside him. 

 

“It’s soft?” Jimin says, more a question than an observation. He runs his hand along the cotton and presses his fingers into it, testing the give.

 

“If you think this ratty old thing is soft, wait ‘til you try the bed,” Jungkook laughs. With anyone else, Jungkook realizes that would carry implications. He doesn’t feel the need to explain what he meant. 

 

“Your heart sped up again.” 

 

Yikes

 

“Don’t worry about it.”

 

Jimin stops caressing the couch, glaring up at him.

 

“What’s in the bed?” he demands.

 

The thought of pissing off a pixie with the power to throw tables across a room and light a cop car on fire with literally the snap of his fingers scares Jungkook and suddenly even he can hear his own heartbeat.

 

“Nothing. It’s—what I said was something that, uh, has a couple meanings. To humans,” he specifies.

 

“You’re feeling nervous. Why?”

 

Jungkook shifts, cornering himself into the arm opposite Jimin.

 

“Humans get embarrassed easily. A lot of the things we say can be out of context. Since humans can’t usually hear each other’s heartbeats, a lot of things are misinterpreted.”

 

“What is there to misinterpret?” 

 

A small cloud of brown dust puffs out from around Jimin’s shoulders. It was purple at the Magic Shoppe, and green outside his apartment.

 

Jimin can read Jungkook’s mind through his heart, giving him an unfair advantage. Maybe, Jungkook can read Jimin’s in his dust.  

 

“Beds are…” Jungkook searches for the right word, one that won’t confuse Jimin even further, but one that won’t imply any sort of danger. Dying at the hands of a pixie sounds pretty epic in theory, but not something Jungkook is excited to try. 

 

“Beds, for humans, are, um, intimate,” he tries. “And showing someone your bed the first time you meet them can imply…” Jungkook doesn’t want to get into it.

 

“You’re incredibly embarrassed.”

 

“Stop listening to my heart, jeez,” Jungkook sighs.

 

“It’s not just your heart. Human’s faces turn red when they’re embarrassed and they get small bumps all over their skin. You’re experiencing both.”

 

“Your eyesight is impeccable.”

 

Jimin looks like he is about to say something snarky, like how all pixies have great eyesight, or that human’s eyesight is just weak compared to his.

 

“What do you want to watch?” Jungkook quickly opens Netflix and instead of making a snide comment, Jimin sinks into the couch and stares at the TV. 

 

“Watch? Where?”

 

Planet Earth it is.”

 

Jungkook scrolls through his recent list and picks out the first Planet Earth he sees. The way his eyes open wide and his mouth drops after seeing the screen light up with the image of Earth floating through space is too adorable for someone with the power to combust an entire cruiser at his will. He looks almost like a real pixie, not a half-human-half-dead man walking as soon as David Attenborough’s voice booms over the stereo speakers. 

 

Tossing the remote next to Jimin, Jungkook beelines for the bathroom while Jimin is distracted.

 

“I’ll be out soon. Wait here. And feel free to eat or drink whatever you find.” Jungkook swings the bathroom door closed behind him, then panics and opens it a crack and says, “Anything you can find in the fridge, I mean. Please don’t try to eat the cleaning products. I know they smell like lemon, but just stick to what you find in the fridge, okay?” 

 

“I’m not hungry,” Jimin says, his eyes fixed on the polar bears on the screen. 

 

Jungkook closes the door and turns on the water. He trusts Jimin not to murder him in the shower. He trusted him the minute he saw him bleeding out on Yoongi’s floor looking like a deer caught in headlights. Jimin has been nothing but blunt and straightforward with him. If it was an act, he would have snapped his fingers and set Jungkook aflame at the first suspicion that Jungkook was setting him up for a trap. He hopes.

 

Under the water, alone with his thoughts and a bar of soap, the situation finally catches up to Jungkook and he has to lean against the shower wall for support. The way his legs shake from exertion, from running all the way from the Magic Shoppe to his apartment, lets him know how real the situation is. It’s not a dream, not a trip.

 

There is a pixie in Jungkook’s living room who can control objects around him using dust that is dangerous for humans to inhale and strong enough to crumple a military-grade medical kit without touching it like it was a soda can. He had wings which were stolen, and Jungkook agreed to help him get them back so he could return home to another realm. He can hear human heartbeats and translate them into specific emotions. He thinks doctors and cops are different species of humans and he is terrified of both. He is arrogant, but he has the right to be, judging by the prowess he has already displayed. Supposedly, this isn’t even his final form, his final mass of dust, or something. 

 

Jungkook finishes as fast as he can and steps out as soon as he rinses the shampoo from his hair, grabbing his robe from the door and tying it around his waist in a hurry.

 

Tonight can’t have happened. Jungkook is going to go out into the living room and find it empty, because pixies don’t exist. Jungkook likes to believe he believes that everything is possible, including the possibility that tonight was one large group hallucination shared between himself and Yoongi and Hoseok.

 

The lights are still off when he leaves the bathroom, and David Attenborough’s familiar voice is still playing on the TV, narrating a death-battle between a herd of walrus and a polar bear. There is no pixie sitting on his couch. There is, however, a mess of crumbs and plastic packaging on his table, and glitter layered across the roon in patches of red and green. 

 

“Jimin?” Jungkook calls. “Are you still here?”

 

“I’m here,” Jimin’s muffled voice carries from Jungkook’s bedroom. 

 

Cautiously, Jungkook steps inside and gasps, and then he laughs so loud it frightens Jimin. A cloud of purple dust settles on Jungkook’s sheets around him. 

 

“Oh no,” he sighs, “Jimin, where did you get those?”

 

“You had them behind the small door,” Jimin says, pointing to Jungkook’s dresser.

 

All of the drawers are open, and though most of the contents appear untouched, or at least reorganized, the bottom drawer has been tousled through and piled next to it, a few pairs of socks stacked neatly by color.

 

“Why do humans make jewelry they can’t remove?” Jimin asks, tugging at the fluffy pink handcuffs locked onto one of his wrists.

 

At least he got the placement right. 

 

“That’s not jewelry,” Jungkook says, trying not to laugh and startle him more. He sits on the bed next to Jimin and pulls at the cuffs. One of the rings is locked tight around his wrist while the other dangles. 

 

“I know what jewelry looks like. Pixies wear jewelry too.”

 

“I get that. But, this,” Jungkook holds up the dangling cuff, pulling Jimin’s arm up with them. “Is not what you think it is. This is for...” If Jungkook says they’re for tying up people or pixies, Jimin will definitely set Jungkook on fire. “Sometimes humans find pleasure in, um, not being able to move. And that’s what these do. What were you even doing in my drawers?”

 

Jimin doesn’t glare or shoot lasers out of his eyes. Instead, he eyes the cuffs with genuine curiosity Jungkook would expect from a pixie from fairytales, eyes wide while running his hand over the soft edges. 

 

“I was looking for weapons," he says with too much innocence. 

 

"Why were you looking for weapons?"

 

"Why would humans want something like this so close to where they sleep? I don’t like being tied up at all.”

 

Jungkook expected to wait at least fifteen more years before giving someone this talk. He digs through the bottom drawer for the key, then, slowly takes the cuff on Jimin’s wrist in his hand and pops it open. 

 

“You can’t study humans for a couple years and know everything. I think Seokjin missed a few important details.”

 

“Don’t pretend you know Seokjin,” Jimin says, caressing his wrist where the cuffs were. “Why do humans enjoy being restrained?”

 

“It’s, uh, a hobby,” he tries..

 

“Hobby,” Jimin repeats. “Hobbies are outlets to express your emotions because you can’t hear them in each other’s heartbeats.”

 

“Right,” Jungkook says. 

 

“Is being restrained a hobby of yours?”

 

“No.” Jungkook knows how his heart must sound. Knowing Jimin can hear it makes him even more embarrassed. 

 

“Why?”

 

“I don’t want to explain why.”

 

Jungkook braces for his body to catch fire. 

 

“Okay.”

 

It’s not the response he expected. 

 

Jungkook lays back on the bed, tempted to fall asleep right here as the exhaustion catches up to him and his muscles sink into the mattress after relaxing in a hot shower. 

 

“Why don’t you want to explain why?” Jimin asks. 

 

God damn. 

 

“Sometimes humans do dumb shit like tie each other up. For fun. As long as all people involved are enjoying it.” Jungkook rests his hands on his chest over his heart like he can suppress its volume. 

 

“You’re going to fall asleep in two and a half minutes,” Jimin says. 

 

Jungkook hopes he means actual sleep, and not a prediction of when and where he’s going to die.

 

“You know that for sure?” Jungkook asks, sitting up.  

 

“Well, not anymore. You opened your eyes.”

 

“And what about you? Aren’t you tired?”

 

“Which one…” Jimin stops. A plume of mint green glitter falls from Jimin’s shoulders to the bed. “Which one is tired?”

 

“That’s the one that’s going to put you to sleep in two and a half minutes,” Jungkook says. 

 

“How would you know that?”

 

“Sometimes humans know things too.”

 

“Not often.”

 


 

Jungkook dreams of an empty field of bluebells under a starless night sky, and wakes up on the couch to the blaring drumming of a Netflix special about to start. He jolts up and bumps into someone sitting at his feet as a cloud of purple dust settles around him. A frightened pixie stares at him. 

 

“Good morning,” Jungkook says. Jimin untenses.

 

“I wanted to watch the polar bears again.”

 

Jungkook finds his shirt on the floor and pulls it over his head. 

 

“Why not watch a new one?” he asks, still catching up to the world around him.

 

Last night was not a dream. There is a real pixie in his living room watching nature documentaries. 

 

“There’s more than one?”

 

“There’s a lot. Press the back button on the—here, let me.” Jungkook steals the remote and and selects a new Planet Earth. Jimin’s eyes are glued to the screen, unblinking, a hint of a smile tugging at his lips.

 

“Did you sleep well?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Jungkook didn’t. His neck is sore from the angle and his legs cramped from curling up to keep from falling off the couch, but better him than Jimin. He deserves a comfortable bed and full night of rest. Only a few hours ago he was bleeding out in the Magic Shoppe and running around the city dodging cops.

 

“I’m not good at sleep,” Jimin says. 

 

“You’re not being graded on how you sleep.” Jungkook would also be failing if they were. “I meant, were you comfortable? Do you feel rested?”

 

Jimin nods, but Jungkook doesn’t think he is listening. He is focused on the tree frog on the flatscreen.

 

Jungkook checks his phone. It’s noon. Much earlier than he is used to waking up on days he doesn't have class. 

 

Wait

 

“Shit.” Jungkook throws his legs off the couch and sits up. 

 

It’s Monday. Jungkook did have class. It started half an hour ago.

 

With a ten minute commute and another five minutes to get ready, he would be able to make it in time for at least the second half of the lecture. 

 

But, seeing as there is an actual pixie on his couch right now, a real-life pixie with pixie dust and all, leaving for two hours is out of the question. His degree can wait. He promised Jimin he would help him get his wings back. 

 

“You’re nervous. Why?” Jimin’s eyes lock on Jungkook, demanding an answer. Pixies aren’t patient creatures.

 

“I’m not nervous.”

 

“But your heart—”

 

“I’m anxious, not nervous.”

 

Jimin narrows his eyes, then turns back to the TV. 

 

“Same thing,” he says. 

 

Jimin will learn. Or, he won’t, but it won’t be Jungkook’s responsibility to teach him. Once they find his wings—whatever that entails—Jimin can think whatever he wants about humans and it won’t be Jungkook’s problem anymore. 

 

“Why are you anxious?” Jimin asks, still watching the TV. 

 

“I slept through class.” Jungkook groans. Jimin is indifferent. “But it’s fine. I promised I would help you find your wings and that’s a priority.” 

 

Jimin is entranced by the tree frogs. Jungkook expected him to jump up at the mention of his wings back and being able to return home. 

 

“So…how do we do that?” Jungkook continues. “Do you know where they are?”

 

“Probably.”

 

“Do you want to go get them now?”

 

“I can’t do anything until my dust comes back.”

 

“Right.” Jungkook nods in fake understanding. 

 

Jimin isn’t interested in Jungkook. He mouths the words back at the documentary as if writing them down in his memory.

 

Based on fairy tales and fantasy TV, Jungkook expected pixies to be curious. Humans got that part right. They are also portrayed as mischievous, fun-loving, incapable of lying, and in some cases, evil, but mostly contradict what he knows so far about Jimin.  

 

That’s all fantasy. Jimin in front of him is reality. Jungkook wonders how human he really is, and how much pixie is still in him without one of his main defining features.  

 

He doubts fantasy novels got much right about pixies, but decides to research them anyways. He doesn’t get half a word typed into the search bat before he freezes with his hands on the keys. The blood rushes from his face as a familiar half-human half-pixie shows up in the “breaking news” section of the homepage. 

 

Homicidal Convict on the Loose followed by the subtitle Mental Hospital Incarcerate Escapes, Last Seen Headed to Southside Downtown Area.

 

Jungkook knows Jimin can hear his heartbeat speed up, because even he can hear it rushing through his own head. 

 

Calm down.

 

Be calm for Jimin.

 

“What is that?” Jimin reaches for Jungkook’s phone but he pulls away and Jimin misses, falling over Jungkook’s lap. 

 

Jimin straightens himself immediately and stands tall, his glare boring into Jungkook in the most intimidating display of aggression Jungkook has witnessed. Jungkook knows his heart must sound like a base drum vibrating at the speed of sound as Jungkook pleads with his body to calm down to just calm down.

 

“Calm down,” Jungkook says, holding his hands in front of him, “We can handle this. I promise, it’s—”

 

“What are you going to do with that box? I warned you what would happen if you—”

 

“I’m not betraying you, just listen!” Calmer. “Please.” 

 

Jimin doesn’t calm down. A cloud of crimson dust falls between them as he grips his hands into fists and watches Jungkook like he’s the enemy. 

 

Stupidly, Jungkook stands too, meeting him at eye level.

 

He doesn’t know that Jimin won’t hurt him, or be rational and patient. This is new to them both. 

 

Stay calm for Jimin.

 

“I’m listening,” Jimin says as dust sparks and swirls around his twitching fingertips. 

 

“It looks like some newspaper got your picture.” What if he doesn’t know what a newspaper is? “And they’re telling everyone in the area that you’re a convict.” What if he doesn’t know what a convict is?

 

“Tell me what that means.” Jimin’s voice, echoing in feint, otherworldly reverb, sends a shiver down Jungkook’s spine.

 

If Jungkook can show Jimin he’s calm, Jimin might listen without suspicion. 

 

“Do you know what a criminal is?”

 

“Yes. Obviously. What does that have to do with the box?” Jimin points to Jungkook’s phone.

 

His thoughts race to convey in the quickest, most efficient way possible, that he isn’t hiding anything, before Jimin turns him into a pile of ash on his couch. The ball of very real, very dangerous-looking magical dust grows every second Jungkook waits.  

 

“This shows me what other humans are doing around the world,” he explains. “They got this picture,” Jungkook turns his phone to Jimin, and his stance falters, “And they’re saying you’re an escaped criminal. There’s going to be cops looking for you everywhere.”

 

Jimin’s eyes go wide and dark.

 

“Do you believe them?”

 

“Of course not!” Jungkook almost laughs. “The cops are not on our side, and whoever took this picture clearly isn’t either.”

 

We’re not even on the same side.”

 

“What?”

 

“We’re not on the same side.”

 

“Oh, so, you can get your wings back on your own.” Jungkook winces.

 

cCalmer.

 

“You aren’t as strong as you think you are. Humans—”

 

“Humans fucking suck. I know,” It’s a risk, standing his ground, but he takes it. “I’m trying to help you. If you don’t believe me, you can leave and try to fight through all the doctors and cops in the world.”

 

Jimin stiffens to challenge him, then he backs down, looking at the floor as the sparks at his fingertips fade and the dust falls to the floor. He’s helpless against a world he knows nothing about, and Jungkook is too self-righteous to let Jimin think he doesn’t need him. 

 

“Can we please just sit down for a second so I can keep reading for more information before we do anything...explosive?” Jungkook eyes the crimson dust on the floor. It looks docile. “I don’t want them to take you back, that would suck for me too.” 

 

“What happened to the other one you tried to help?” Jimin asks, hitting a pressure point. “You’ve failed before. Why should I believe you can help me? 

 

“Where do you keep getting this idea that I’m trying to make up for something?”

 

“From your own heart.” 

 

He can’t fathom how Jimin came to the conclusion based on emotion alone. 

 

“Fine,” Jungkook huffs, “You remind me of someone. Big fucking deal. I’ve known hundreds of humans, but that’s not the only reason I want to help you.”

 

“But it is a reason. I can hear it.” Jimin points to the left side of Jungkook’s chest like Jungkook doesn’t know where his own heart is in his body.

 

“Stop being creepy. One problem at a time, okay?” Jungkook coaxes Jimin back onto the couch. “If you’re caught, then I’m busted too for harboring a supposed criminal. I’m sticking my neck out for you, okay? Can you at least pretend to trust me for a second?”

 

“I don’t trust you.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Then why ask?”

 

Jimin looks so small compared to before when he was towering over Jungkook with such an intensity in his eyes. He’s scared and lost and just trying to survive while defending himself in a new world where it seems everything wants to hurt him. 

 

“It’ll take me a minute to read this,” Jungkook says. 

 

“I’ll wait.”

 

“Thank you,” Jungkook says. He pauses the documentary so he can think clearly while he scans the article.

 


 

Jungkook takes a long time reading from the small box called a phone. It’s a device humans use to relay information to each other through pictures and words displayed a screen. Jungkook’s phone has a small pink object dangling from the top. Though the detail is lacking, the shape of the ears and placement of facial features indicate a rabbit. 

 

Jimin focuses on the rabbit and not on the pounding coming from Jungkook’s chest overwhelming him. Jungkook is scared. He is nervous, anxious, and confused along with Jimin. 

 

Jungkook could have sided with the cops, yet he carries pride in knowing he is strong enough to protect himself.

 

The species of human Jungkook belongs to reminds Jimin of the harbor seals he watched, while cops and doctors relate more to the leopard seals. Though similar in origin and physicality, leopard seals and harbor seals vary in personality, habitat, and levels of aggression. Seokjin had been studying the angular, vicious leopard seals. Jungkook and the two humans he met at the Magic Shoppe are the softer, scared harbor seals that rely on defense before offence.

 

“Did anyone see you before you went into the Magic Shoppe?”

 

Jimin’s eyes snap from the pink rabbit back to Jungkook, who looks tired despite just having rested for a few hours. Human bodies are inefficient in that way.

 

“No,” he says.

 

“You said you were in the trunk of a car. Did the driver see you? How did that even happen?”

 

“I….” Don’t know what a driver is. “I don’t know.”

 

“Jimin, I’m trying to help you, do you understand?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Then you need to tell me everything that happened the night you escaped. You don’t have to go into detail about whatever fucked up institution they held you in. I understand that might be triggering, and I don’t want you to panic. But can you tell me what happened, from the second you got out until I found you?”

 

Jimin doesn’t know what it was that hit him, or how he ended up in a trunk of a car, or what a driver is. All he remembers is the opportunity he couldn’t miss, the door propped open in an act of unanticipated carelessness, and the sound he tried to follow before everything went dark.

 

“When I left the building,” he begins, “Something hit me. It was bright and I couldn’t see because it ran too quickly. I was in some creature—a car. Then I kicked my way out, I fell, and then I saw the Magic Shoppe. I thought there would be a mage inside who could help me but it was just humans.”

 

Jungkook nods. He is more patient than a doctor. More patient than Yoongi and Hoseok. He doesn’t look down on Jimin when he displays his lack of knowledge.

 

“Sounds like a hit and run. Fuck. Okay.” Jungkook leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees and holding his forehead in his hands. Frustration. “And you didn’t see a person in the car?”

 

“It was just me.”

 

“Okay. So, you escaped. Some trashbag hit you with their car, probably thought you were dead, and threw you in their trunk to dispose of the body? God, what a nightmare. I’m sorry.”

 

“Why are you sorry?” 

 

“That sucks, Jimin. You’ve already been through a lot, and then…” Jungkook sighs. “I’m glad you ended up here, at least. Could have been worse.”

 

Jimin can’t think of anything worse than the operating room.

 

“What about the phone? What did it say? Why was my face on the phone?”

 

Jungkook presses on the bottom of his phone and it lights up. He swipes a finger over the surface and a block of text appears. Next to the text is a picture of Jimin, his eyes open, staring directly at the viewer. He recognizes the sheet of metal under his head as the operating table. 

 

“Someone must have taken your picture at the lab and sent it to the police. This picture is everywhere, on every local news page. If someone sees you outside, they’ll report you. Fuck this!” He tosses on the couch and it bounces until it slides into Jimin’s leg.  

 

Rage is frightening coming from the human Jungkook. His heart rate spikes, even though he is not the one in danger. It doesn’t sit right with Jimin. Nothing happened to Jungkook. It isn’t Jungkook’s picture on the phone. 

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook says immediately after. “You might not be able to leave this apartment for a while.”

 

“You’re trapping me.” Jimin’s dust fails him when he tries to summon it to his hand.

 

“I’m not trapping you! It’s not safe outside. If someone saw you they would call the cops and the cops would take you to jail, or worse, back to the operating room.”

 

“I’m not going back to the operating room!” Jimin shoots back up from the couch, fists clenched and heart racing. 

 

“You’re not going back to the operating room,” Jungkook agrees calmly. “I promise.”

 

Jimin would be able to tell if Jungkook was lying. He wants to help Jimin. It doesn’t make sense. Nothing about this human makes sense. 

 

“How long did you say it took for your dust to come back?”

 

“I didn’t say.”

 

What was left lies useless on the floor. He can barely feel it coursing through his body. It’s not enough to fight off a doctor or a cop by himself. 

 

“It’s not much,” Jimin says.

 

Something burns behind his eyes and clouds his vision. He’s not dizzy, and he’s not in any pain, and yet he can feel tears forming. There are no needles and no incisions, no doctors peeling him apart and stitching him back up. But somehow, he finds himself crying. 

 

Crying is seen as a sign on weakness on Terra. Some humans can cry at will as a manipulation tactic. Some humans are incapable of tears, like pixies. Jimin wipes his eyes with the back of his hands to get rid of the tears before they fall. They make him feel like he’s drowning from his eyes. 

 

“Hey, it’s gonna be okay,” Jungkook says. He stands to meet Jimin, leaning down slightly to be at eye level. 

 

He is close. Too close. But he is also warm, and his heartbeat is comforting. Somehow, Jungkook being near allows Jimin to untense and the tight feeling in his chest subsides. 

 

“Is it okay if I hug you? You can say no.”

 

“W-what’s—” Jimin cringes at the way his voice stutters, the way he hiccups has to fight back tears. Human emotions are so fragile. “What’s hug?”

 

Pity. He doesn’t approve of Jungkook’s pity, but in his vulnerable, breakable state, he has no choice but to allow it.

 

“Humans hug to comfort each other. And since you’re kind of human right now…I can show you?”

 

Jimin senses no intent to hurt, only to understand and comfort. 

 

“You can do a hug.”

 

Jungkook pulls Jimin against him, trapping Jimin between his arms and chest. Instead of flinching, his initial instinct, he allows the closeness. Not for too long. Jungkook pulls away when Jimin does but leaves his hands on Jimin’s shoulders. 

 

Jimin feels small and self-conscious the way humans do when they realize they are uncomfortable under another human’s gaze. He steps away and folds his arms to distance himself. 

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook says. 

 

“It’s…” Fine. “I’m not weak. My human body is vulnerable, but I can still overpower you.”

 

Jungkook smiles despite his obvious distress. 

 

“I believe you,” Jungkook says. 

 

Jungkook’s phone lights up and buzzes on the couch.

 

“Shit. Not now, Yoongi,” Jungkook groans. 

 

“Yoongi is here?” Jimin doesn’t hear another heartbeat. He surveys the room, but there are no humans besides Jungkook. 

 

“What’s up?” Jungkook says, holding the phone against his cheek. 

 

“Where are you? Did you see the news? Where’s the pixie?”

 

Yoongi’s voice is coming from the phone, muffled and full of static, similar to the way he heard doctors communicate from behind the mirror in the operating room, usually to remind the man with fake eyes not to let Jimin bleed too much if he wanted to keep him alive. 

 

“Relax,” Jungkook says. He is not relaxed at all. “It’s not what you think—”

 

“Are you with him? You saw the news, right? They had a mug shot and everything, it’s definitely him.”

 

“Yeah, I saw it. It’s fine. He’s with me.”

 

“That’s not fine! Stay where you are, I’m calling the cops—”

 

Jimin’s eyes widen and he braces. He can’t fight off a cop. His dust hardly recovered while he slept. With this amount he would barely be able to lift Jungkook’s phone, let alone fight off a human. If Jungkook had to fight in his place, Jimin doesn’t think he could win, and he doesn’t think Jungkook would fight for him. 

 

Jungkook covers the bottom of his phone with his hand.

 

“I’m not going to let any cops near you, okay?” he whispers. 

 

Jimin nods, otherwise frozen in place. Between the crying and exhaustion from everything he experienced for the first time last night, Jimin’s head feels fuzzy.

 

Overwhelmed. As a pixie he was never meant to undergo this amount of stress, and as a human he can’t seem to hold onto itself. He grew accustomed to routine in the operating room and has had no practice in improvising. 

 

“Are you talking to it?” Yoongi asks from somewhere. “Is it in the room with you?”

 

Jimin is here with me, yes. And unless you want a repeat of last Halloween you better not fucking call the cops.” Jungkook’s heart changes in tone.

 

Aggression. Defense.

 

“I said it’s fine. Why would you believe the local news over your own family? Over what you saw with your own eyes. Don’t you think there’s more to his story?”

 

“Kook, I know you can’t help helping people—or pixies—like him, but let me do the same for you.”

 

Jungkook sighs and paces in a circle behind the couch.

 

To distract himself from the drumming, the tune of defiance, Jimin turns to the TV. The image of a neon green tree frog suctioned to the side of a leaf stares right back at him with eyes as bright and red as the car that ate him.

 

His legs shake as he slumps into the couch. If he had run the second he laid eyes on a human outside the operating room he wouldn’t be stuck in Jungkook’s home waiting for the human to tell him what to do.

 

If he had run, he might have been found by a human more vicious. Perhaps a human just as willing to help, but stronger. If he ran long enough, he might have even found a magic user who could offer him real help and maybe even build him a bridge back home. 

 

Humans are forced to make too many decisions that could go awry. The freedom isn’t worth the stress. He misses routine.

 

Jungkook rounds the couch and stands in front of Jimin. 

 

“I love you too. So trust me, okay?”

 

“Okay. Stay safe.”

 

“You too.” 

 

Jungkook drops the phone in his lap and sighs, long and deep. He’s mostly frustrated. He’s agitated, but somehow hopeful. 

 

“Are you still with me?” he asks.  

 

“I’m not going back to the operating room.”

 

“I know.”

 

“You’re going to help me get my wings back.”

 

“Right.”

 

“We agree.” 

 

“Yes. Give me a day to think of something. Soon you’ll be on your way back to…” he looks at Jimin like he’s expecting something. “Where are you from?”

 

“I’ll allow you one day.” Jimin hands Jungkook the remote that controls the TV. “I want to learn about tree frogs,” he says. “Which one makes him move again?”

 


 

Jimin is asleep on the couch, his head resting against the back, his hands folded across his lap. He looks human like this, unintimidating.

 

Jungkook also wants to fall back asleep and deal with this predicament tomorrow, but they don’t have the luxury of waiting another day, or even another hour. If facial recognition doesn’t lead the cops to Jimin, the trails of dust he left behind last night might.

 

A scary, dark feeling rushes over Jungkook when he realizes that it might not matter whether or not anyone saw him.

 

What if he has a tracking device implanted? Jungkook has no idea what happened in the operating room; all he knows is it was worse than cruel. Whatever happened to Jimin behind the walls of whatever institution held him was awful enough that even a supernatural creature from another realm with the power to combust and crush anything at his will was rendered helpless and frightened. 

 

Jungkook picks up his phone and scrolls through his contacts for no one in particular. If they need to leave town, they need a car. And after acquiring a car they need a place to stay. 

 

Taking a bus to borrow Yoongi’s van from his garage while he’s at work and temporarily removing the license plates is the easy part, as long as he leaves a friendly note in its place. As for a place to stay, he looks through his contacts for someone who would be willing to house him with a supposed convicted felon.

 

Jungkook’s ex-boyfriend from high school comes to mind. After he and Woosung broke up, Jungkook continued to crash on his couch until he found a permanent residence after graduation. Though, despite their incompatibility—Woosung’s overbearing personality and Jungkook’s spontaneous lifestyle—they left on good terms, Woosung is unbelieving of things he can’t see, and it would be impossible to talk him into trusting Jimin, and he doesn’t see Jimin letting his guard down long enough to open up to Woosung about his situation. Jimin meeting Woosung would be more of a risk than staying in the city. 

 

No one with enough energy to take care of anyone but themselves comes to mind. It would help if he knew a vampire or a wizard or a ghost.

 

A witch, perhaps? 

 

Lee Siyeon had more house plants and tarot cards than anyone he knew, and has more crystals and jars of mysterious “teas” than any one human could need. If anyone he knew could suspend their disbelief to the extent Jungkook has to ask, it would be her. 

 

Jungkook scrolls until he finds her contact, thankfully still in his phone. He hasn’t talked to Siyeon since senior year of high school. They didn’t speak much afterwards, only a few failed attempts at texting conversations, before she moved to the ocean with a girl she met the summer after graduation. 

 

A home far from the inner city and a background in witchcraft. Siyeon might be able to help him. 

 

Jungkook turns down the volume on the TV to let Jimin sleep, then slips into his bedroom and presses the call button. 

 

Siyeon picks up right as the dial tone sounds. 

 

“Jungkook.” 

 

Jungkook hasn’t heard her voice in years. He’s surprised she still has his number.

 

“Hey, Siyeon. It’s been a while.” Jungkook sits on his bed and stares at his dresser. He smiles when he remembers the mess Jimin made last night, how hard it was to take Jimin seriously after that.

 

“What can I do for you?” She sounds nervous. It is pretty weird to call a high school friend he hasn’t seen in four years. 

 

“Maybe I’m just calling to say hello.”

 

“You’re not.” She’s still just as good. “What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into?” Extremely good. 

 

Jungkook bites his lip, thinking of how to phrase what the hell has happened in a believable way, how much information he should give her, and how much she would believe. 

 

I met a pixie who escaped from an evil lab and is now on the run from the cops and we need a place to stay until he regenerates enough pixie dust to reclaim his stolen wings and fly back to his realm, is not an issue Jungkook can casually bring up to someone he hasn’t spoken to since he tossed his hat. 

 

“Try me,” Siyeon says.

 

Jungkook hadn’t even voiced his concern yet. She can still read his mind like he can hear his emotions in his heart through the phone.

 

“Do you still live at the bay?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I wanted to ask a favor. Sorry—let me start over. How are you doing these days?” Jungkook cringes. He’s so awkward he wants to turn off his phone and curl into a ball. 

 

“I’m looking for something,” she says. “Do you know anything about tomorrow?”

 

“It’s, uh, supposed to be mostly cloudy?” Jungkook says. “Why? Did you predict the apocalypse or something?”

 

“No.” Her disappointment carries clearly over the speaker. “What can I do to help you?”

 

“I know it’s been a while, and I probably should have called you before this, but I need a place to stay that’s far away from the city. It doesn’t have to be for long! Just…” Long enough that he can help a pixie steal his wings back from an evil lab. “I met this guy who isn’t from here. He showed up at the Magic Shoppe bleeding and scared and Yoongi and Hoseok aren’t any help right now. I know it’s a lot to ask, especially since we haven’t spoken in a while—”

 

“Are you harboring a criminal?”

 

“No!” Jungkook falls back to the bed. He knows she knows. “Well, yes, but he hasn’t done anything wrong.”

 

“Where did you say he was from?”

 

“He won’t tell me.”

 

“I believe you,” she says. Jungkook can hear the smile in her voice. “Why do you want to help him?”

 

“I can’t explain the whole...situation right now. It’s something you would have to see for yourself.”

 

Siyeon’s end is silent. He pulls his phone away to make sure she didn’t hang up, though he wouldn’t blame her. The call is still connected. 

 

“I’m sorry. I know this is sudden. I can find someone else—”

 

“You can stay here for as long as you need.”

 

“Wait, really?” Jungkook doesn’t know where he expected this call to go. He knew Siyeon would empathize. He just didn’t expect her to agree so quickly.

 

“But I have one condition.”

 

“Anything.”

 

Siyeon doesn’t speak for another minute. “When you get here, I want every detail, no matter how unbelievable.”

 

What could she know?

 

“Of course!” he lies. That’s not happening. “Thank you so much.”

 

“I’ll send you my address. You can tell me how awesome I am when you get here, alright?”

 

“You’re awesome and you’re the best.”

 

“Oh, wait, one more condition.”

 

“Anything.”

 

“Pick up some chamomile on your way? Bora went through all of mine.”

 


 

Jimin turns back to the TV when Jungkook’s bedroom door opens. The tree frogs were gone when he woke up, replaced by a species of insect unknown to Jimin and unlike any he has studied. There are at least a hundred species of animals in Terra, maybe up to two hundred.

 

Jungkook sits beside him and drops his phone. He looks exhausted. 

 

“Did you learn more about tree frogs?” he asks. 

 

“Yes. And sloths.”

 

“Which one was your favorite?”

 

“Who were you talking to?”

 

Jungkook tenses. “Her name is Siyeon.”

 

Siyeon. 

 

“The war criminal?”

 

War criminal?” Shock. “Hell no. She’s not military or cop.”

 

Disappointment. Jimin doesn’t like disappointment.

 

“What did she want? What did you tell her?”

 

“Nothing.” 

 

“Good. I don’t trust Siyeon.”

 

“But you trust me?”

 

“No.” 

 

Jungkook has proven he won’t harm Jimin. It is the best Jimin can hope for now that cops are, apparently, after him as well as the doctors. With no dust, humans aren’t something he can face alone. Facing them with Jungkook is not ideal either. He is brave and independent, but he is also ignorant and weak in comparison. 

 

Safety in numbers.

 

Worry comes from Jungkook, spreads across his features.

 

“I would have torn your limbs off already if I wanted you dead,” Jimin reassures him. 

 

Fear. Human emotions are delicate.

 

Jimin needs to calm Jungkook down. Like he did last night, Jimin utilizes the technique he learned already works on Jungkook and does what humans do when they need to keep the other humans in agreeance. 

 

“But I would make sure you died before you felt any pain.” It isn’t a lie, but not something Jimin would have kept in mind. The quicker the killing, the quicker he can fly away. He learned that before coming to Terra.

 

Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect. A scared Jungkook is a useless Jungkook, though, Jimin takes pride in knowing he holds such power over a human like Jungkook.

 

“That makes me feel so much better.” Jungkook’s emotions don’t match his words. Dishonestly to defend ones own feelings, like a placebo. Jimin can relate to the want to appear stronger than himself. 

 

Safety with Jungkook. 

 

“How do you feel about going far away from here? Siyeon offered to house us until you recover your dust.”

 

“She knows dust?”

 

“I didn’t tell her that much. Only that I needed help. If anyone sees you, even through my windows, you’re toast.” Jungkook points to the wall where a large piece of cloth hangs from the ceiling. The cloth is red to match the walls and is completely opaque. 

 

Seokjin did not mentions humans can see through solid objects. Terrifying. 

 

“What’s toast?”

 

“In this case it means fucked.”

 

“What’s—”

 

“It’s bad. It means you’re in even more danger, which puts me in more danger. You said you would do anything to survive and protect yourself, right?”

 

Jimin nods. 

 

He can be rational and adapt. Safety is in numbers. 

 

Jungkook brings his legs up onto the couch and sits so he is facing Jimin. His deep brown eyes reflect those of someone Jimin knew from home. His memories from before the operating room are vague and fuzzy. A human’s ability to forget is one of their most crucial weapons when battling doubt. Humans forget how it feels to be hurt when they hurt others. They can’t help it. 

 

Most humans. 

 

Maybe not Jungkook. 

 

“We don’t have to go,” Jungkook says, “But you wanted my help, and this is how I am helping you. With facial recognition, drones, hell, any convenient store we passed last night that has a camera, they could come after either of us. The longer you stay here, the more likely it is you’ll be sent back to the operating room.”

 

A threat. A ultimatum. A warning.

 

“Do you know if the doctors put a chip in you? Something they could use to track where you go?”

 

Jungkook leans closer. Jimin leans further into the couch.

 

“If they were able to find me I wouldn’t still be here.”

 

Humans are master hunters. The best can stalk a prey for days without growing tired and without requiring sustenance. It has been half a day since Jimin’s escape. He doesn’t know how far they are from the operating room, but if they could find him, he would already be strapped to the operating table with a tube in his face and an incision in his chest. 

 

Jungkook still looks worried. 

 

“If they tracked you to Siyeon it would put her in danger too,” Jungkook says. Uncertainty

 

“I’m in danger now,” Jimin says. “And so are you. Are you not willing to risk Siyeon’s life for your own safety?”

 

“She’s someone I care about.”

 

Jungkook has at least three humans as allies. Human social circles are incredibly large.

 

“I can’t guarantee they can’t follow me.” 

 

Jungkook’s shoulders drop. Jimin needs to reassure him again. 

 

“If we can avoid the doctors for at least a couple more days I might have enough dust to fight them. Pixies are stronger than humans.”

 

“How could I forget that when you’re constantly reminding me?”

 

Jungkook keeps responding incorrectly. He is supposed feel safe and reassured, but all Jimin hears is agitation. Jimin is out of ideas. He can’t figure out how to confront the situation in a way that pleases Jungkook. 

 

“A pixie can’t lie,” Jimin begins slowly, “So, when I say it’s unlikely the doctors can track me, you should believe me. We can stay here and be in danger from the cops you’re worried about, or we can shelter with your Siyeon until I recover my dust, at the absent risk a doctor will hunt me.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t sound pleased by either option. He’s taking too long to think about it. 

 

“I know what I’m is willing to risk,” Jimin continues, “But our priorities aren’t the same.”

 

Impatience. Humans don’t live long enough to allow adequate planning for every altercation, and Jimin’s human body is no exception.

 

Jungkook is still thinking. He won’t look at Jimin, only beyond him at the wall, or down at his phone. There is nothing else Jimin can say to further the conversation. It’s up to Jungkook what happens to Jimin whether he likes it or not. 

 

“You said my Siyeon?”  he asks.

 

“Who she claims to be is irrelevant.”

 

Jimin waits.

 

“Are you hungry?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“Why does that matter?”

 

“Because,” Jungkook stands from the couch, “We’re going to get lunch before our road trip. Let’s go.”

 

Chapter Text

“Try not to get ketchup on the seats. I’m borrowing this car,” Jungkook says, reaching over to steal a fry from Jimin’s lap. If either of them stains the seats, Yoongi will never let Jungkook borrow his van to run away with a pixie ever again.  

 

Jimin was hesitant to climb into van, saying he didn’t trust anything with round legs, until Jungkook opened the bag of fast food so Jimin could smell it, and he hopped in immediately. No amount of strawberry smoothie could get Jimin to wear his seatbelt, and Jungkook was too scared of what Jimin would do to him if he forced it. They compromised with just the lap belt.

 

“Car?” Jimin asks, worried. “You said this breed was called a ‘van.’” 

 

“Vans are like the Hoseoks of cars.” 

 

“Vans are unintelligent and can’t hurt people?”

 

Now is probably not the best time to tell Jimin that car crashes are one of the leading causes of death for people their age. Jungkook’s age. Jimin could be a hundred years old for all he knows. 

 

“This one won’t hurt you.”

 

“Then why do we have to be strapped down?” Jimin tugs at the belt across his lap, glaring at it like he wants to rip it in half. It snaps back down onto his legs. He pulls the seatbelt a couple more times, testing its give, before giving up and reaching into the bag for another handful of fries.

 

After finding out what was inside Jungkook's burger, Jimin decided to stick to fries alone. He drowns the few fries left in a whole packet of ketchup that drips onto the seat between his legs.

 

“I hope your pixie magic works on ketchup stains,” Jungkook says, changing the subject.

 

“Oh,” Jimin looks down at the seat. “Sorry,” he says quietly.

 

Jungkook is impressed. He didn’t know Jimin knew the word “sorry," and he looks genuinely upset, and now Jungkook feels bad. He keeps his eyes on the road, but glances over occasionally to see what Jimin’s face looks like when he’s not glaring or scared or entranced by a tree frog. Guilt looks incredibly human on him. 

 

Jimin wipes up the spill with a napkin like Jungkook did the first time he opened a ketchup packet and it exploded all over the dashboard. Though he appears to have the body of a human in their mid-twenties, Jimin’s motor skills and knowledge of basic human functions matches that of a five-year-old. 

 

Unfortunately, Jimin really cute like this. The way he can’t take his eyes off the traffic flights, the giant green highway signs, the faster cars zipping by at twice the speed limit, Jungkook feels like he has a golden retriever sitting in the passenger seat instead of a pixie. His face is pressed against the window, his eyes wide, mesmerized at the world, the buildings, the roads around him like he’s never seen them before. Like he’s been stuck in an evil lab that never allowed him to explore the world. 

 

“Other humans can see into the van, be careful,” Jungkook says. “We’re not out of the city limits yet.”

 

Jimin pulls away from the window and slouches, arms folded, like he’s about to tell Jungkook he never lets him have any fun. 

 

“It’s for your own safety,” Jungkook adds. 

 

“I don’t need you to protect me.”

 

“Right, because when someone recognizes your face from the news, you’ll be able to outrun a fleet of cops on your own.” 

 

“I’m faster than…” Jimin drops it. He isn’t right now, and he’s unable to lie about it.

 

Jungkook tries to empathize, tries to imagine seeing human civilization for the first time and being scolded for trying to take it all in. 

 

“How many breeds of cars are there?” Jimin asks after a while. 

 

“Too many to keep track of,” Jungkook says. “They aren’t living organisms. Humans build them.”

 

“To eat people.”

 

“No. To move around really fast.”

 

“One ate me.”

 

“It didn’t eat you. Someone threw you into it, probably,” Jungkook says. “It didn’t have a mind of its own.”

 

“It had red eyes and a mouth,” Jimin argues. 

 

“Those are brake lights, and you were in a trunk.”

 

“A trunk? Are you serious?” Jimin asks like Jungkook couldn’t possibly know what he’s talking about ever. “A tree can’t fit in a car.”

 

Jungkook wonders how stupid it is to tease a pixie. He knows he shouldn’t, but because it’s entertaining seeing Jimin—in all his supposed power—flustered, he continues. 

 

“A small one would,” he says, bracing for Jimin’s rebuttal. 

 

“All your trees are small. And apparently, not even hollow.”

 

“So you agree,” Jungkook says, “Stumps aren’t always hollow.” 

 

Jimin straightens his back and turns to glare at Jungkook. “I know what you’re doing,” he says. 

 

“Yeah?” Jungkook bites back a grin, focusing on the road, the speedometer, anything but Jimin so he doesn’t crack, “What would that be? Schooling you on Terra facts?”

 

“You think you’re the only beings who know what teasing is, don’t you? I’ve met fairies before. You’re nothing special.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t know whether to be offended that he, apparently, isn’t anything special, or honored to be compared to a fairy, which he didn’t even know existed until yesterday. 

 

According to the cracked, inaccurate clock on the dashboard, they’ve been in the car for half an hour. Less than three to go. Jungkook can handle it. He can make it. As long as he doesn’t tease the pixie enough that his head explodes in a cloud of pixie dust, but enough to keep himself entertained. 

 

“Do you want to listen to some music?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Jimin looks at Jungkook the way Jungkook looked at him when he told Jungkook he was a pixie for the first time, with a hint of excitement. 

 

“Humans have music?” 

 

“You studied humans for how long? And you don’t know we listen to music?”

 

Jimin looks offended, pouting again and turning to look back out the window. “Clearly Seokjin left that out. It’s not my fault.”

 

“It’s okay to not know everything. You don’t have to be embarrassed.”

 

“I’m not—” Jimin can’t finish. Being unable to lie must be awful. It’s also Jungkook’s favorite feature.

 

The way his slightly pointed ears turn red and the way the puff of pale green glitter that appears out of thin air around him settles on the seats is a dead giveaway.

 

Jimin is a lot more human than he realizes. He reminds Jungkook of who he was in middle school and how he had to be right about everything. But Jungkook, at thirteen years old, would never have been able to endure the sort of torture Jimin had to experience for who knows how long, in a strange, foreign land, surrounded by those who only want to hurt and control him. So, in a way, it is like middle school, minus the surgery and stolen limbs. 

 

Regardless of whatever Jimin did to end up here, whatever crime he committed to endure such a punishment, it can’t have been deserving. It makes Jungkook’s chest ache to think about the pixie sitting next to him—whose eyes sparkled at the sight of his first smoothie, who still gasps when they pass a pasture of cows, and marvels at how airplanes are able to stay so high in the air for so long without having to flap its wings at all—being subjected to possibly the worst form of physical torture. 

 

“You’re sad,” Jimin says, reading his mind, hearing his heart. It’s creepy.

 

“How long were you in the operating room?” Jungkook asks. He doesn’t mean to. 

 

“According to your calendar, it felt like…” Jimin counts on his fingers in his lap, “I think just over what you would call a decade.”

 

Ten years?” Jungkook almost slams the brakes and his fingers tighten around the steering wheel.  

 

“I know it’s not much, but it felt like a long time, okay? I’m not weak, I’m just not used to how time affects my body.”

 

“Ten years is a long time.”

 

Jimin looks at Jungkook like he just told him humans listen to music too, unbelieving.

 

“Humans live up to one hundred years. Ten years is only a small fraction of your whole life.”

 

“A lot can happen to a human in ten years. How long do pixies live?”

 

“That doesn’t matter.”

 

Jimin takes his smoothie from the cup holder, even though he finished it within the first minute of tasting it, and uselessly sips the remaining drops. 

 

“You can have the rest of mine,” Jungkook gestures to his half-finished cup. “It’s not strawberry, but you might like it.”

 

Jimin hesitates. 

 

“Don’t pity me. I’m—”

 

“Stronger than me. I know. You referred to ten years of torture as ‘not much.’”

 

“Are you angry?”

 

It was a question this time, not an accusation.

 

“I thought you could hear my heart, or whatever.” 

 

Jimin isn’t wrong. Jungkook is upset. He’s hurt in a way he can’t explain. Had he been alone, Jungkook would be seething just imagining the cruelty, the lack of empathy it would take to steal the wings from a magical creature for research, maybe even for fun. It would make any decent human rage. Jungkook doesn’t want to give the doctors who hurt Jimin the excuse of being monsters, inhuman.

 

“I can hear your heart.” Jimin says with the straw between his lips. “I know everything you’re feeling,” he mutters. 

 

“Then, you know you can trust me, knowing how much I hate what those monsters did to you?”

 

“They were humans.”

 

“They’re not human.”

 

“They were definitely human.”

 

“They’re demons who lack the humanity to be humans.”

 

“Stop making excuses for them,” Jimin snaps.

 

Jungkook flinches. Jimin is scary again, clenching his fists in his lap before relaxing back into his seat.

 

“They’re just as human as you are,” he continues. “It took a human heart to do what they did. If anything, it’s their lack of humanity that has everything to do with how human they are.”

 

But not all humans are like that, he wants to say. But Jimin is right, it does sound like an excuse. They don’t deserve to be judged by a different set or morals.

 

“The answer is still no. I don’t trust you.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t press. It would make the coming days a lot easier if Jimin would stop being stubborn and accept a human’s help. Still, he will have to find a way to get along with Jimin despite that.

 

Jimin doesn’t stop drinking until the second smoothie runs out and he drops it back in the cupholder.

 

Nothing but the rumble of the engine and the occasional ticking of the blinker fills the silence that follows. In the reflection, Jungkook can see the way Jimin’s eyelids droop, the frown. He looks like he is deep in thought, as his eyes don’t track anything that passes. Again Jungkook feels hurt on a level he can’t explain. It’s something similar to empathy, but more intimate. 

 

“What kind of music do pixies like?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Jimin’s eyes snap open and he forgets about moping, turning back to Jungkook with the most excitement he has displayed since they met. They sparkle with hypnotic gold swirls. 

 

“I play ocarina,” he says. His voice is higher than before. “I like harps, too. All kinds. Do you know what a harp is? Do you know what an ocarina is?”

 

“Of course,” Jungkook laughs. “Jimin, I think humans and pixies have a lot more in common than you think.”

 

“You don’t know what I think.” 

 

And there goes the sparkle.

 

Jungkook turns on his phone and plugs it into the aux cord. He opens his music library and hands the phone to Jimin.

 

“What do I do with this?” Jimin asks. 

 

“Pick a song to listen to by tapping it with your finger.”

 

Jimin looks around the van, turning to check the seats behind him and under his own seat as well. 

 

“There’s no instruments here.”

 

“It plays from the phone. Just pick a song that looks pretty.”

 

Jungkook has a massive music library on his phone, ranging from Linkin Park to 2NE1 to fantasy soundtracks. There has to be something in his library Jimin will like. 

 

Jimin figures out how to scroll and he searches Jungkook’s library for a couple of minutes. It makes sense that he chose and album cover that features girls with pretty, colorful wings on their backs. The silence is broken when Butterfly by LOONA starts playing. How fitting. 

 

“Where is it coming from?” Jimin asks, swerving around to make sure he didn’t miss any instruments in the back seat.

 

“The speakers,” Jungkook points to the speaker at the base of his door, “And the phone.”

 

Jimin turns the phone over, holds it close to his ear, taps on the back. “What instrument is this?” he asks. 

 

“A synth, probably. Do you like it?”

 

“I like it. How do you make it louder?” 

 

Jungkook points to the dashboard. “Turn that,” he says as he taps on the volume dial. 

 

Jimin experiments by turning it left and right back and forth, then he turns it right until the bass shakes the seat below him, and immediately cranks it back down. 

 

The song ends and the van falls back into silence. 

 

“Try another one,” Jungkook says. 

 

Jimin scrolls for another minute. He scoffs.

 

“I didn’t know humans liked fairies so much,” he says as Snow Fairy by FUNKIST plays. “Snow Fairy’ from Fairy Tail? Fairies aren’t that interesting.”

 

“Are you jealous?” 

 

“Which one is jealousy?”

 

“Green,” Jungkook says.

 

Jimin’s eyes widen and he brushes some of his dust off the seat.

 

“Fairies aren’t that interesting,” he says again. 

 

“But I was right? Green means jealous?”

 

“Be quiet. I want to listen to the music.”

 

Jimin chooses more songs as Jungkook drives. Some he plays twice, and some he skips before the first verse even starts. Jimin learns that humans have a wider variety in music than pixies, and Jungkook learns that pixies don’t care for grunge and absolutely despise country. 

 

When the sky darkens into a deep indigo and the amount of other cars they pass become scarce, Jungkook checks the gas meter. Not empty, but close enough. 

 

“We might have to pull over for…” he stops, seeing a sleeping pixie in the passenger seat with his thumb still over the music app. 

 

Jungkook marvels at how a creature so strong and threatening can look so harmless and soft when he is not trying to be intimidating. It sickens him that a human could look at something so beautiful and want to break it and rip it apart in the name of science.

 

When they finally recover Jimin’s wings, Jungkook will kill the doctors if Jimin doesn’t. 



 

 

Siyeon’s house overlooks the harbor from a hundred-meter cliff. The ocean view is obscured by ginkgo trees and evergreens but the salty breeze reaches all the way to the driveway. Jungkook takes out the keys, picks up the small bag of clothes he packed and the bag of dried chamomile leaves he picked up on his way back with the van, and walks around the van to open Jimin’s door. He gently pries his phone from Jimin’s hands, careful not to startle him awake. 

 

Jimin has drool on his shoulder, his mouth hanging open slightly and his eyelids fluttering in a way that makes Jungkook’s heart clench. Pixies are so fucking cute, he almost wants to let Jimin stay asleep, not to ruin the sight. Against his better judgement, Jungkook snaps a picture of Jimin like this, then texts Siyeon that they have arrived. 

 

“Jimin,” Jungkook coaxes, hesitant to rouse Jimin by touch as he fears his reflexes. “Wake up.” 

 

Jimin stirs when Jungkook calls his name again, this time louder, and his eyes snap open as he jolts awake, kicking into the dashboard in his panic and staring at Jungkook like he saw a ghost. 

 

“We’re here,” Jungkook says, taking a step back so Jimin can take in the new environment. The fear doesn’t leave his eyes as he whips his head around. His hollow brown eyes glow against the black of the shade blocking out the sunset. Jimin’s breathing slows, his trembling hands reaching for the edge of his seat.

 

“Jungkook?” he asks, his voice soft and worried.

 

“I’m here. It’s just me.”

 

Jimin looks beyond him, then back to the van, and then back to Jungkook, who is afraid to move in fear it might startle Jimin.

 

“Where are we?”

 

“We’re at Siyeon’s house. You fell asleep a couple hours ago.”

 

“Why didn’t you wake me up? What if the doctors found us? Or cops?” 

 

Jungkook decides not to explain to Jimin the difference between a real doctor and the monsters—the humans who held him captive. Jimin isn’t ready for that conversation yet. 

 

“I wouldn’t have let them touch you. I’m strong for a human.”

 

Jimin obviously disagrees but doesn’t correct him.

 

“You shouldn’t have let me sleep,” he says. 

 

“You needed it. You were bleeding out less than a day ago. And you looked to adorable drooling on my shirt.” Jungkook would have pinched his cheek like he was a child if he wasn’t afraid Jimin would bite off his fingers. 

 

“What’s adorable?”

 

“You, for asking that.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Anyways,” Jungkook steps away, “Unbuckle and we’ll meet Siyeon inside.” 

 

Jimin doesn’t move.

 

“Oh—the red button. Press it down.” 

 

Jimin jumps as the belt zips into place, and Jungkook offers his hand to help Jimin step out of the van. Jimin looks at his palm, tilting his head. 

 

“What do you want?”

 

He forgot Jimin has never been offered any amount of courtesy. No one has offered him their hand. 

 

“Hold my hand,” Jungkook says. 

 

“Why?”

 

“So I can help you out of the van.”

 

Jimin swings his legs over the side and peers down at the dead leaves on the ground. “Why?” he asks. “What’s down there?”

 

“Nothing is down there,” Jungkook kicks the dirt at his feet. “This is something humans do. It’s just...polite, I guess.”

 

The ‘what’s polite?’ he expects never comes, and Jimin presses his hand into Jungkook’s, waiting for further instruction. His hands are as warm as a living human’s hands should be, though Jungkook almost expects the cold glassy skin he felt the night before. He guides Jimin out of the van until he has both feet on the ground and slides the door closed. 

 

Jimin only lets go of his hand when he has scoped the area for a solid minute, taking in along with Jungkook the trees, the cliff, the tall grey house with ivy hanging from every window. Moss covers the roof, creeping down the sides of the two stories, and stray branches and dead leaves and pinecones litter the patted dirt path Jungkook follows to the front door. 

 

Jimin stares at the house and mouths something that Jungkook can’t hear. He looks around like he is looking for something specific, then his head drops. 

 

“Siyeon is in there?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“You didn’t tell me Siyeon was a witch.”

 

Jungkook stops walking. “How could you tell?” 

 

“You can’t hear the well?” Jimin gives Jungkook another demeaning look like Jungkook couldn’t be any more stupid.

 

Jungkook listens to the breeze and the distant waves. 

 

“What should I be listening for?”

 

“A well.”

 

“Yeah, but, what does a well sound like?”

 

“It…sounds like a well?” 

 

Right. That should be obvious. Jungkook should obviously know what a well sounds like, because that is something normal for humans. Hearing wells. 

 

Jungkook will never catch up.

 

“Pixies must have better ears than humans.”

 

“My body is human.”

 

“Human bodies don’t leak dust.”

 

“But pixies have wings.”

 

“So what does that make you?”

 

Jimin doesn’t have an answer. 

 

“Is Siyeon human?” Jimin asks when they reach the porch. 

 

The porch bends and creaks under their weight like it hasn’t been used for years, but the wood appears unrotten well kept. 

 

Jimin’s question catches up with Jungkook.

 

“Humans can be witches.” He hopes he’s right.

 

“Do you trust her?”

 

He did until Jimin was suspicious. 

 

“Yes…” he says slowly.

 

Jimin is still unsure.

 

“I don’t hear a human heart.” 

 

Jungkook hesitates to ring the doorbell. Jimin doesn’t seem bothered, more intrigued than anything. He tries to keep a neutral expression but Jungkook catches a glimpse of bright yellow glitter float down to his feet. Jimin bounces on his toes like he is trying not to jump into the air. 

 

The door swings open suddenly and the smell of chamomile and sage blows onto the porch. Jimin gasps and finally takes into the air when Siyeon’s smiling face greets them behind the door.

 

“Siyeon!”

 

“Hi, Jimin.”

 

“Hey, Jungkook,” Siyeon’s girlfriend says from behind, her arms wrapped around Siyeon’s waist and her chin resting on her shoulder. 

 

“You’re still here?” Jimin yells as the yellow cloud thickens and spreads through the air like smoke, filling Jungkook’s lungs and forcing him to step away and swat the air around him.

 

“Ah, so news even reached the pixies,” Siyeon sighs. “Of course I’m still here. Eternity hasn’t ended yet.”

 

“But what are you doing here?”

 

Jungkook barely see through the dust. He coughs and blinks the dust from his eyes in time to see Jimin take Siyeon’s hands in his own, a smile so bright Jungkook can hardly believe he is looking at the same Jimin who stumbled into the Magic Shoppe on the brink of death. 

 

Jimin looks more like a fangirl meeting their celebrity crush than a pixie or a human.  

 

“What am I doing in my own home? Is that what you’re asking me?” Siyeon says, her eyes shining the way they did Jungkook agreed to let her read his fortune. 

 

Realistically, Jungkook shouldn’t be surprised. Of course Siyeon, a witch with an uncanny ability to predict future events and the elusiveness of a withered forest dweller knows Jimin, the pixie who stumbled into Jungkook’s life the night before after escaping an evil lab and running from cops and doctors. 

 

No. No matter how Jungkook tries to rationalize, he can’t think fast enough to keep up.

 

“I thought you—you haven’t been—No one has—,” Jimin stutter. “Wait!” 

 

He turns back to Jungkook, still gripping Siyeon’s hands so tight Jungkook can see his knuckles turn white. 

 

“Jungkook, how the fuck do you know Siyeon?” he demands. 

 

“How do you know the fuck word?” Bora asks. 

 

“How do you know Jimin?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“How about we all get inside and stop getting pixie dust all over my welcome mat?”

 


 

Siyeon’s home is more human than Jimin would expect from a warlock. There are leaves and bushes in various sized pots and colors around the open area. The space is lit only by the sunset reflecting on the waves far beyond the window as it lowers into the sea. 

 

Across the large wooden table sits a human with whom Siyeon lives in harmony. When he focuses on her heart alone, a feint harp melody sings softly.  

 

Jimin can’t stop his legs bouncing under the table. This isn’t real. This is a simulation enforced by the man with fake eyes. This is a reality bending trick they’ve stuffed into his head to make him feel a sense of security before ripping out his spleen just to hear him scream. 

 

When Jimin sees Jungkook in the chair beside him, he hears almost nothing from his heart. A sense of confusion, but nothing to indicate a trap or trick. Jungkook, the human he met outside the operating room, had been in contact with Siyeon, the King’s warlock, and had mentioned nothing of it to Jimin. 

 

He can’t keep up.

 

It’s possible he was trying to hide it, equally so that he really didn’t know. He was not at all shocked by Jimin’s accusation of Siyeon being a magic user. He knew that she would be able to help Jimin. Jungkook knew where to find her and how to contact her. It’s not a coincidence.

 

“Jimin?” Jungkook leans into Jimin’s space, his voice quiet. His heart speeds up and he is not as calm as he appears. “Who is Siyeon?”

 

“You don’t know? You said you trusted her, that’s why we’re here.”

 

Humans lack the ability to make educated connections and observations, which explains how Jungkook could know a warlock such as Siyeon and know nothing about her. To be able to lay eyes on Siyeon and not comprehend her power, to think she was a human, of all beings, is enough to convince Jimin that he was right about Jungkook—he isn’t as capable of complex thought as a pixie. 

 

“Where did you meet her?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“Outside.” 

 

Jungkook was there. He watched them meet. 

 

“Just now?”

 

“Yes. You were there,” Jimin reminds him. 

 

“But you know her?”

 

“I’ve only heard stories from butterflies.”

 

“Jungkook,” Bora says, reaching over the table and pulling his hand into her own in a gesture humans recognize as a sign of comfort or trust, and as he recently learned, to be polite. “From one human to another,” she pauses and waits for Jungkook’s full attention, “You will never. Ever. Be able to keep up.” Bora smiles and pats Jungkook’s hand twice before leaning back in her chair. 

 

Somehow Jungkook is still unsure. 

 

Bora displays an understanding beyond that of a human. He can tell just from her eyes, her expressions, the softness in her voice, that she is gentler and more intelligent than other humans, like she’s adapted these inhuman, warlock-like qualities from Siyeon. On the outside Bora appears calm, but Jimin can feel her energy from across the table.

 

Much like Jungkook, she has a bold, independent heart and a generosity in her tune that allows Jimin to relax in her presence. She falsely exudes a collectiveness that contradicts the chaos pent up inside her. 

 

Siyeon returns with tea and sets one of the cups in front of Jimin and the other in front of Jungkook. It smells uncannily similar to the forests in his home. 

 

“It’s hot, so be careful,” she says.

 

Her voice is human, but her heart and posture reflect her sovereignty. Her dark hair reaches her waist, indicative of the time passed. She appears too human. It’s unsettling. 

 

Siyeon sits beside Bora and leans back in her chair, her hands folded in her lap as she looks between Jimin and Jungkook with the same smile she has had since she first opened the door.

 

“This is tea?” Jimin asks, peering at his own reflection in the cup. The warmth he feels from the steam spreads through his whole body. The smell alone is sedating. 

 

“Homemade,” Siyeon says proudly. “Using hibiscus from my own garden.”

 

The tea doesn’t appear to have the same calming effect of Jungkook. He is still nervous, and he moves slowly as he drinks as if he’s afraid to break the fragile air. 

 

“I didn’t know you were a...warlock?” Jungkook stumbles over the word like he’s afraid of it. 

 

Siyeon’s heart longs for something that Jimin can’t remember. 

 

“I tried to keep it that way,” she says. 

 

“I wish you would have told me.” 

 

Contempt. 

 

“But it worked out,” Bora says, “because you found Jimin.” 

 

Siyeon tenses. Bora’s heart skips. Affliction

 

Jungkook continues to stress unnecessarily. 

 

Jimin sips his tea, immediately dropping the cup on the table when the scalding liquid reaches his lips. He doesn’t understand how Jungkook’s body handle what Jimin’s can’t, so he lifts the cup to try again. Jungkook’s hand suddenly on his arm brings it back down to the table. 

 

“Hey, you’ll burn yourself. Give it a minute.”

 

“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do,” Jimin says. He sets the cup down anyways. 

 

“So,” Siyeon says as she leans forward, resting her elbows on the table and her hands under her chin. “Tell me what happened. Everything. From the moment you entered Terra.”

 

Three pairs of human-like eyes stare Jimin into his seat.

 

Anticipation.

 

When he tries to recall his arrival, flashes of white lights and the man with fake eyes appear in his mind but he can’t place a specific memory, only a vague compound of emotions like horror and helplessness. His back aches where his wings used to be.

 

Jimin doesn’t know when it started, but wishes the ringing would stop. It sounds like the harsh electric drone from the lights above the operating table. He thinks he might be shaking, but he is so detached from his body that he can’t tell. He doesn’t know where he is anymore. Siyeon and Bora are still in front of him, Jungkook sitting next to him, but Jimin is not in the room with them. 

 

“Jimin? Are you okay?” Jungkook asks. His voice sounds further away than he is. 

 

Jimin can’t answer. His jaw locks. He doesn’t realize how hard he is gripping the cup of tea before he feels his hand being removed and enclosed in something just as warm but much softer. 

 

Slowly, he looks down to see Jungkook’s hand on his, then he looks around the room for something familiar. It’s not Siyeon, not Bora, not Jimin’s own hands that ground him, but Jungkook’s heartbeat. It’s the wave of concern that he can feel radiating from the humans in the room that pulls him back. He’s still shaking and he can’t stop. 

 

Pity. Worry. Panic. They blend together. Jimin can’t tell whether they belong to him or the humans.  

 

“I think he’s having a panic attack.” Bora lowers her voice and says, “Does Jimin know about the bluebells?” 

 

He knows panic. He knows attack. He didn’t know human emotions could attack their host’s bodies. There are no bluebells on Terra.

 

Jungkook’s hand slides further up Jimin’s arm, the only thing he wants to focus on right now—Jungkook in front of him. Jungkook’s heart where Jimin can hear it. Jungkook helping him. Why is Jungkook helping him? 

 

“You’re here. We’re here with Siyeon. This isn’t the operating room.”

 

Jimin never said he could feel the operating room.

 

“You don’t have to think about it right now. It’s okay. You’re here,” Jungkook says again. His hand moves across Jimin’s wrist in a way Jimin finds soothing. Like a hug, but with his fingers. “You’re with us. Nothing is going to hurt you.”

 

Despite his instincts reading the room as a threat, Jimin is able to find peace in Jungkook’s touch. He can register his surroundings again. His heart still vibrates in his chest, but his vision clears and he can see warlock and the two humans like he’s there with them. 

 

A layer of purple dust so dark it’s almost black covers the table and sinks into his tea, clouding it to the point Jimin can no longer see his reflection on the surface. The way the sunlight reflects off each individual particle blinds Jimin and he has to look away. He chooses to look at Jungkook. 

 

Like the first time Jimin saw Jungkook, there is a resolve in his heart’s song that Jimin would regret to oppose. Siyeon does not offer the same comfort. At the sight of her, his mind distances from his body again, so he keeps his eyes on Jungkook’s. 

 

“Are you with us?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“I’m here,” Jimin whispers. It has to be true. 

 

“You’re safe.”

 

“I’m safe.” It has to be true because he can’t lie. 

 

Jungkook withdraws his hand, leaving Jimin’s wrist cold and taking with him the only thing tethering Jimin to his body. An equally warm but exponentially less comforting cup of tea slides into Jimin’s hand. 

 

“It’s not hot anymore,” Jungkook says. “And there’s no glitter in this one. Try it.”

 


 

Jungkook has coaxed more humans down from panic attacks, withdrawals, and bad highs than he can count. He knows how to bring humans to reality and recognize their environment. Pixie panic attacks don’t look different aside from the insane amount of dust they leave behind. 

 

A layer of purple covers the table and everyone’s clothes and hair when it all settles. Each breath Jimin took while hyperventilating sent more into the air, and Jungkook thought he might pass out. This is the Jimin he saw on the floor of the Magic Shoppe, with hollow eyes devoid of color, not the cute pixie sleeping in the van or watching Planet Earth on his couch. 

 

Bora rests her head on Siyeon’s shoulder, her hand on Siyeon’s head as she strokes her hair. She is just as frightened as Jimin, like she saw what he saw. Comforting two panicking magical creatures at a table with a human at each of their arms is not how Jungkook imagined he would be spending his weekend. 

 

Bora offers Jungkook a weak smile. From one human to another, Jungkook smiles back the same.

 

“Did you like the tea?” Jungkook asks, making sure Jimin is still with him. 

 

Jimin nods. His breathing has slowed but his eyes are still fixated on a point beyond Jungkook. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Siyeon says quietly. 

 

It’s unclear whether it’s an apology for bringing it up, or for what Jimin went through that made them both shake in their seats. Both, most likely.

 

“There’s nothing you should be sorry about. You weren’t there,” Jimin says.

 

“I’m sorry about the doctors, your wings—if I let it all just happen—”

 

“Shh,” Bora coaxes urgently, brushing Siyeon’s hair away from her face and pressing her whole body against Siyeon’s arm. “It’s not your fault. You did your best. Let’s focus on what we do from here.”

 

What they do from here is a mystery. Jungkook had no plan past crashing with an old friend and waiting before it turned out more magical that Jungkook expected, so much more complex, that Jimin may not even need Jungkook. 

 

“Can you help us get his wings back so he can return home?” Jungkook asks. “He wanted to wait until his dust returned and do it himself, but…” Jungkook stops when he realizes he’s to human to understand what it is he’s asking of her. 

 

“That would require a magic I haven’t practiced in decades. Centuries?” Siyeon turns to Bora. “Has it been centuries?”

 

“How would I know?” Bora shrugs.

 

“What kind of magic is that?” Jungkook asks.

 

Siyeon says nothing.

 

“She’s talking about combative spells,” Bora says. “They have your wings locked up tight, right?”

 

Jimin says nothing.

 

“Apparently they’re in some sort of lab,” Jungkook says. Jimin doesn’t speak over him or reprimand Jungkook for talking for him like anticipated, and Jungkook is quickly learning not expect anything, because he will probably have it wrong.

 

“Where?”

 

Jungkook gives Jimin a chance to answer. When he doesn’t, Jungkook says, “I was going to research local universities and hospitals and start in the area, but then he headlined. They said he escaped from a psych ward and the police are out looking for him.”

 

“Oh shit,” Bora gasps.  

 

A normal human reaction to a supernatural situation. Jungkook is relieved. If Bora turned out to be a siren or a vampire or something equally as magical, Jungkook would have given up already and gone home, way out of his league.

 

“He said he can’t do anything until his dust comes back. Once we wait for that to happen, Jimin can wreck their shit.”

 

“You sound excited,” Bora says.

 

“From one human to another,” Jungkook eyes the warlock staring blankly at the table, “Can you blame me? You should see what Jimin can do with just a little dust.” 

 

When he checks on Jimin, he smiles weakly at the floor at Jungkook’s praises.

 

“I believe you. I live with the smartest warlock who has, supposedly, ever existed.” Bora pats Siyeon’s cheek and she smiles too, though more embarrassed, but also with a hint of pride. 

 

“According to who?”

 

“According to the smartest warlock who has ever existed.”

 

“Herself?”

 

“I trust her,” Bora shrugs, “I’ve never met a pixie before, though.”

 

“I never thought I would either.”

 

A warlock. And a pixie. And Jungkook doesn’t mind the rush from the sudden realization that not only does magic exist, but that he is tangled up in it. His sense of reality broke when he saw Jimin crush a metal box levitating by Jungkook’s head. He wonders how Yoongi and Hoseok are dealing with things on their end, and how they would react to knowing Lee Siyeon, from AP Chemistry Lee Siyeon, is also from Jimin’s world.  

 

A warlock. And a pixie. Sitting at the same table as Jungkook. He’s afraid if he tries to rationalize, he will wake up from this dream to the nightmare of student loans and morning commutes.

 

“Thank you again, Siyeon,” Jungkook says, pulling her attention from the table, “Just letting us stay with you for now is more than enough. Between Jimin’s magic and my experience with breaking and entering we won’t even need a warlock.”

 

“I can offer more” Siyeon says, her eyes bright again. 

 

“So you can help us get—” Jimin pauses. He glances at Jungkook, then back to Siyeon. “You can help me get my wings back?”

 

This isn’t an ‘us’ situation, and Jungkook didn’t expect it to be. This event will be a blink in Jimin’s possibly immortal existence. In a century or two when Jungkook has already been dead and turned back into dirt, there will be no ‘them,’ just Jimin and his wings.

 

“I can build you a bridge to Hyeastra.”

 

Bora and Jimin perk up. 

 

“Really?” Bora says, smiling wide and gripping Siyeon’s arm tighter.  

 

“Don’t even think about it,” Siyeon warns.

 

Bora tugs Siyeon’s arm and shakes Siyeon back and forth in her chair. “You’re going to open another portal I can’t go through? How is that fair?”

 

“Darling, you’d be rejected on sight and plummet back to Terra. You’re human.”

 

Bora drops Siyeon’s arm as she pouts and slumps down in her chair with her arms crossed.

 

“I wouldn’t be if you let that vampire bite me,” she mutters.

 

“I’m not marrying a vampire, petal.”

 

“We could get married while I’m human and then I could be a vampire.”

 

“I’m not letting a vampire within ten realms of you.”

 

Bora tuts and sinks further down in her chair until her legs hit Jungkook’s under the table as she mopes. 

 

“So this portal,” Jungkook says. “How is it going to help him get his wings? If a human…” Jungkook stumbles over the word, eyeing Jimin, who looks like he wants to bite off Jungkook’s head for even insinuating such a horrid thing, “Or a, uh, partial human went through, then what?”

 

“I’m not human,” Jimin says. 

 

“No, you’re not,” Siyeon agrees. “Which is why you can still bond a contract with someone on the other side to assist you. You don’t need to fight your way through the humans alone.”

 

Because Siyeon isn’t human anymore, Jungkook reminds himself, she isn’t one of them. It’s difficult to separate the Siyeon who cheated on her Calculus homework by writing equations on the inside of her bra now sitting across from him talking about humans as an entirely different entity. 

 

“I get to meet two pixies?” Bora beams.

 

“That won’t be part of the contract,” Jimin says. 

 

Bora looks to Siyeon for a different answer. 

 

“No,” Siyeon says. 

 

Jungkook feels Bora’s pain. He sits back and lets the magical creatures discuss their own plan. 

 

“Even if I bond a contract, I still don’t know where my wings are.”

 

“I was going to suggest seeking out a warlord, but their sense of direction is pitiful.” Siyeon laughs as if the reference doesn’t fly over half the heads in the room. 

 

“If I bond a contract, it has to be with a being capable of fortune telling.”

 

“And capable of razing an entire building to find your wings without mercy for the humans inside.”

 

Bora winces and peeks at Jungkook. They both heard it.

 

“Why does it have to come to that?” Bora asks, voicing Jungkook’s own thoughts. “What are you trying to do, exactly?”

 

“We’re trying to reunite Jimin with his wings,” Siyeon says. She stares intensely at Jimin, who stares back with a level of mutual understanding Jungkook doesn’t try to comprehend.  

 

“By destroying a building?”

 

“It’s more efficient than fighting through the security we have to expect from a place capable of holding a pixie. We can’t underestimate the enemy.”

 

“Right,” Bora agrees, “But you’re not up against, like, the Baí Zé. You don’t need a warlord.”

 

Siyeon’s eyes flash with specks of violet. The corners of her lips twitch. She looks like she’s trying not to look excited. She doesn’t look human anymore. 

 

“Another pixie would cause just as much destruction,” Jimin says. 

 

“Would they have to?” Jungkook dares to ask. 

 

Jimin looks at Jungkook like Jungkook has no idea what he’s talking about. A fair assumption.

 

He scoffs like it’s a burden having to explain it. 

 

“The more conditions a contract has, the more I have to pay. If their end to uphold is to remove the obstacles between me and my wings, they can do it however they deem efficient.”

 

This isn’t what Jungkook thought assisting a pixie would be. He imagined Jimin storming into an evil lab, dust blazing, maybe throwing a fireball here and there, and eventually leaving with his wings and flying towards the second star on the right and straight on until morning. 

 

But innocent humans might die, isn’t an argument that can win against Jimin’s predispositions to them as a species. Jungkook dragged himself into this supernatural mess and it’s going to take supernatural means to clear it out. It’s not his place to argue with a pixie if the pixie wants to contract a magical lord of destruction to recover his wings with no remorse for the human lives at stake.

 

Morally, Jungkook should protest. Logically, he doesn’t want to argue with a pixie and a warlock who is buzzing with excitement at the thought of mass murder. It makes him wonder if warlock is not actually a fancy term for a wizard, and how much the war part has to do with their nature. 

 

Siyeon sighs, resting her elbows on the table and dropping her forehead into her hands. “I can’t think of a way to handle this with only one contract. You might have to bond two.”

 

Jimin’s eyes narrow. “Two contracts at a time is dangerous. If I sought a star kin I would only have to bond one contract.”

 

“Stars are dangerous,” Siyeon says slowly.

 

The air around Siyeon darkens unnaturally, a warning, her eyes swirling entirely with violet as she stares at Jimin with a solemn expression. It reminds Jungkook of a horror film right before a jumpscare. It’s the moment when you clench your seat, your pillow, the hand of the person sitting next to you, anticipating the next scene but knowing it will frighten you anyways. 

 

The energy radiates between Jimin and Siyeon dauntingly. Bora stares out the window and Jungkook doesn’t dare take his eyes off her, afraid if he looks directly at Siyeon or Jimin the jumpscare will pop out.

 

“I’ve bonded a contract with a star,” Jimin says, unaffected by the aura pressing Jungkook further into his seat. 

 

“I can’t do more than advise against his assistance.”

 

Siyeon clears her throat and light fills the room again like the sun decided to come out of hiding.

 

“I would rather not bond a contract involving humans with Seokjin either.” 

 

Not that Jungkook has any say in the matter, but the mention of Seokjin has him on edge, and he agrees with Siyeon. From what Jimin has told him, Jungkook doesn’t want Seokjin coming anywhere near this realm. From the way Siyeon reacted to the notion of said star kin, Jungkook wishes he didn’t know star kin existed—whatever a star kin is. 

 

“How long will it take to build the bridge?” Jimin asks. “Seokjin can build bridge to Terra in two calendar days under the right stars.”

 

“Building a bridge to Terra and from Terra are two entirely different spells,” Siyeon says. “Terra’s atmosphere isn’t compatible with magic anymore. It might take a month from now until I can rip a hole large enough for you to enter. Have you noticed how slowly your dust has returned?”

 

“Very slow.” Jimin eyes the layer on the table regretfully. 

 

“You’re okay with us being here for a whole month?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“You can go home,” Jimin says. “I don’t need you anymore.”

 

Jungkook’s heart drops, and he knows Jimin can sense it. He really, really does not want to leave in the middle of the biggest magical adventure of his life. And he really, really does not want to drive another three hours, two days in a row. 

 

Bora glances at Jungkook like she wants to say something, to comfort him, but there is an understanding between them in that moment that as humans unfamiliar with magic and immortality, their opinions don’t hold any weight on this matter. 

 

“Jimin,” Siyeon says. “Come with me. I want to show you where the bridge will be.”

 


 

Siyeon leads Jimin down a stairwell lined with vines and lilies growing between the cracks in the dark wood. There are mushrooms coming from the ceiling and floorboards that provide the only dim light, some luminating neon blues and greens, some red with dots in varying colors. Most of them are not native to Terra. The shadows flickering on the walls at their feet stutter in the inconsistent, flickering glow. 

 

Siyeon’s home reminds Jimin of Seokjin’s. The exterior is based on human architecture, but inside the house is much larger than it appears.

 

As a pixie, Jimin is unfazed by the idea that the human Jungkook was in contact with the warlock Siyeon. Chaos is unpredictable regardless of the realm. Entropy is the only law which every realm has in common. 

 

As a human, Jimin is perplexed. Those born of magic rarely visit Terra due to its dampening effects on their natures. The conditions of Siyeon’s banishment meant to render her skills useless. A warlock with no outlet for their magic, no elements with which to cast spells. isn’t a threat. 

 

At the bottom of the stairs Siyeon stops in front of a large metal door lined with ivy and aster. A stained glass window glows violet around the outline of a crescent moon. The well Jimin heard when they arrived sings softly from the other side, nearly dried.

 

Siyeon places her hand on the moon, closing her eyes as she concentrates the magic she shouldn’t have into her palm. The moon glows purple and fazes into the rest of the glass as the door fades. It isn’t a door the way humans create them. There are no handles, nothing to grip or turn. One only needs asks permission and will be granted access if their intentions are clear. 

 

Siyeon guides him into the room that smells of cobwebs and old growth. It is mostly empty aside from a small desk lined with several vials, and a large black cauldron radiating from the center in shifting cool hues. The well comes from inside the cauldron. 

 

“It’s mostly for show,” Siyeon says, “I haven’t built a bridge to your realm in, maybe, ninety or so years.”

 

“Is there anything in it?” Jimin asks, peering over the side into the emptiness. 

 

“Not yet.” Siyeon pushes aside several vials and leans against the desk. 

 

Jimin can’t hear anything from her heart. Like the man with fake eyes, she is completely unreadable at times.

 

“How long will it take?” 

 

“The bridge will take no more than a few weeks.”

 

“And how much dust will it require?” 

 

Jimin flexes his hand but his palm is empty. It’s pitiful. Most of his dust is upstairs sitting uselessly on the table. 

 

“I have enough dust stored already to conduct my magic into the construction. What I need from you right now is your permission.”

 

Siyeon reaches out. She means to read his fortune. 

 

“I’ve never had my fortune told before.”

 

“Very few pixies have. Humans, even less so. Jungkook was the first of the humans I read.”

 

“What did you see?”

 

“I can’t tell you that.” Siyeon squeezes Jimin’s hands. “Close your eyes,” she says.

 

They both close their eyes. Jimin’s anxiety spikes when the image of the man with fake eyes flashes in the dark. The feeling of Siyeon’s energy connecting the two of them replaces the dizziness that comes with Jimin’s memories. It courses through his human body, dipping into his mind and body and he can feel her in his bones. He shivers at the intrusion.

 

Jimin loses himself in a starless sky over a field of bluebells. He’s on his back. White dust clouds the air. 

 

“There is more pixie in you than human,” Siyeon begins. 

 

Hope. It’s a new one. Jimin doesn’t mind hope. 

 

“Which means that there are two ways you can die on Terra.”

 

Dread. Less welcome than hope. 

 

“I don’t want to die.”

 

“Without an active contract, even in this human form, you must keep your spirit high. Your human body struggles to combat that which would have killed the part of you that remains pixie, just as your pixie spirit protects your human body from the damage caused to you by the humans.”

 

Despair. 

 

“I don’t want to die on Terra.”

 

Siyeon tightens her grip over Jimin’s hands. He holds onto her as if he lets go he will fall through the floorboards and back onto the operating table. 

 

“Unlike pixies, humans do not require contracts to brighten their spirits. The find their light through joy.”

 

Joy is a human emotion Jimin has studied but has yet to experience. It is not unique to humans. Jimin has seen what happiness looks like on warlocks and stars and vampires—practically every being he has studied. How to obtain happiness is a lesson he never learned. 

 

“What should I do to find joy?”

 

“By nature, humans have the ability to find happiness in infinite ways. The human Jungkook is a scholar. He will show you how, if you are willing to listen.”

 

He doesn’t want to rely on a human for assistance. Jungkook is no use to him anymore. Jimin could tell from the second he saw Jungkook that he was independent, but that’s as far as it goes. For all his boldness, his human spirit is weak.

 

Siyeon’s fingers loosen, halting the flow of energy. Jimin opens his eyes to a frustrated Siyeon. 

 

“You don’t believe me?” Her voice drops, and she sounds like a real warlock.

 

Jimin begrudgingly closes his eyes again. It is not his place to question a fortune teller during a reading. 

 

“The tattoo of a name will bind you to the human,” she continues. “As he did yesterday and will continue tomorrow, the human Jungkook will listen when you speak. Let him expect the same in return.”

 

Tomorrow

 

It takes a moment to understand what she means. Humans have no concept of a Tomorrow. They don’t even have a proper word for it. 

 

Tomorrow.

 

The implications send Jimin’s mind into a whirl. Compared to the idea of a human Tomorrow, even being strapped to the operating table is preferable. Humans break too easily.

 

Jimin fears the worst. He clenches his wings to his body like phantom limbs. His dust surges through his veins in an attempt to remind himself that he is not and will never be human. He doesn’t want to die on Terra, but more than that, he doesn’t want to die as a human. 

 


 

“Blueberry muffins?”

 

Bora scoffs. “Of course. Old school. Banana bread with homemade chocolate chips?”

 

Jungkook rolls his eyes. “Please. That was the first one. What about cake pops?”

 

“What flavor?”

 

“Vegan chocolate.”

 

Bora squints, hesitating.

 

“I don’t know if they were vegan.”

 

Jungkook nods, adding another tally in his column and half on one under Bora’s name. 

 

“Crepes?”

 

“What filling?”

 

Bora smirks and leans over the table like she knows she’s already won. “Dragon egg,” she whispers.

 

Scowling, Jungkook places another tally under Bora’s name as she sits back down.

 

“Hibiscus frosting over red velvet cupcakes?” he asks.

 

“Hibiscus frosting? That’s a thing?”

 

“Ha!” Jungkook points at Bora with his pen. “That was the first recipe her mother taught her. I thought that was a lowball.”

 

Jungkook starts to mark another tally under his own name.

 

“Are you kidding me? Siyeon’s mother was a unicorn. She didn’t even have thumbs.”

 

Jungkook stops the pen halfway through the mark, eyes wide as he looks back up at Bora like she just told him his high school best friend was raised by a My Little Pony.

 

“Wait, you’re serious?”

 

Bora nods. “One more for me, please,” she says, pointing at the pad of sticky notes.

 

“You don’t get a point for knowing that. I get the point for having a pastry Siyeon never made for you.”

 

“I get ten for meeting her mom.”

 

Jungkook never met Siyeon’s parents. She lived alone, while they were constantly on supposed business trips.

 

Looking back, it dawns on him that many of the experiences he had while at Siyeon’s house would make more sense if she wasn’t a human.The beanbag chairs that rolled when she called them—explained casually by the use of magnets, though Jungkook was always suspicious. The hanging plants tethered by spider webs. The lava lamp with actual lava. The way she was able to show up to class on time even when she slept in until a minute before the bell. The way she could apply a full face of makeup before Jungkook even finished his eyeliner. 

 

“Fine,” Jungkook sighs. He slashes ten more tallies in Bora’s column and tosses the pen and pad and they slide across the table. “But you should ask her about her hibiscus frosting. It’s incredible. I’m shocked she hasn’t baked you a hibiscus birthday cake or something.”

 

“We spent my last birthday on Mars. The cake would have exploded.”

 

“You did not.”

 

Bora smirks. 

 

“Wait, you really went to fucking Mars? She wouldn’t even go on a ferris wheel with me because she was afraid of heights!”

 

“We weren’t that high. We just swam in a crater of toxic water and watched the sun set behind Olympus Mons.”

 

Jungkook’s jaw drops, and they both start laughing.

 

“I can’t believe she kept that from me. This whole time,” he rests his forehead in his hands before leaning back again, “all she ever did was read my fortune.”

 

“That’s her specialty.”

 

“It did always feel a bit magical, I guess? But I just assumed it was because she was an empath and could, like, channel energy through her crystals.”

 

“Well, yeah, there’s that too. But she’s also a legendary warlock banished to the human realm for her war crimes, so…” 

 

“War crimes,” Jungkook repeats.

 

“Oh!” Bora covers her mouth. “You didn’t know that bit, did you? It’s probably fine. I mean, most people know already that it wasn’t her fault, and the King had no choice.” Bora shies into her seat and twirls the end of her hair. “It’s, um, maybe, something you should ask her about.”

 

“Okay,” Jungkook says. No other response feels appropriate to follow up a bombshell like that.

 

Jungkook pinches his wrist to make sure he isn’t dreaming, then looks back up at Bora to make sure she is still there, and waits for something like all his teeth to fall out for his pants fell down in the middle of a classroom.

 

When he realizes he is still in Siyeon’s living room waiting for her and a pixie he just met to open a portal to a magical pixie realm to incite the help of a star to steal his wings back from an evil lab, Jungkook sighs. 

 

Yes, this is definitely his reality. 

 

“Bora, did you tell our guest about my criminal backstory while I was gone?”

 

They both turn to see Siyeon and Jimin standing at the top of the stairs. Jimin looks at his feet as he walks, shy like Jungkook has never seen him before. He has seen Jimin afraid, terrified, even, and angry, and embarrassed, but shy is a new one. 

 

“Only a little?” Bora says as she offers an fake, boxy smile. 

 

The magical ones are back, which means it about time Jungkook packs up to leave. He didn’t realize how much it meant to him to be a part of this magical adventure until it was almost the end. 

 

Before he stands to say his goodbyes, Siyeon has read his mind. 

 

“I’m not kicking you out,” she says.

 

“Oh, thank god,” Jungkook breathes, relaxing back into his chair.

 

“There’s fresh towels in the adjoining bathroom and I already summoned a bath,” Siyeon says like it’s normal to summon a bath. 

 

“You’re okay with this?” Jungkook asks Jimin. 

 

Jimin hasn’t looked up. His arms are wrapped against his torso, making him even smaller than Siyeon as he slouches. 

 

“You promised you’d help me get my wings back,” he mutters. “So...you can’t leave me yet.”

 

Jungkook might have noticed a hint of mint green fall to the floor around him, but he bites the urge to comment and instead offers the same fake smile as Bora. Jimin doesn’t look happy. 

 

“Slumber party!” Bora hollers, jumping up with her arms in the air as she sends her chair backwards into the kitchen island. “What movie should we watch first?” She points at Jungkook, “Do you like popcorn? You seem like you prefer it doused in butter.”

 

“What about me makes you think that?” 

 

 Bora ignores him. “Jimin, have you tried popcorn? Do you know what a movie is?”

 

“What’s—”

 

“You’re not tired, are you?”

 

Jimin shakes his head. 

 

“Hell yeah! Siyeon, can you fire up some popcorn? And smoothies?”

 

“Slow down, wild child,” Siyeon says. “You’ll frighten him.”

 

Siyeon doesn’t specify which “him,” prompting Jungkook to disagree. 

 

“I saw Jimin blow up a car and threaten to do the same to my head. Sorry, Bora, but you’re not even the most frightening thing I’ve seen since breakfast.”

 

“Do I frighten you, Jimin?” Bora asks excitedly. 

 

Siyeon pulls Jimin to her side.

 

To Jungkook’s surprise, Jimin says nothing. No “I’m stronger than you” or “You can’t scare me” follows. He only scowls at the wall and folds his arms as more green sparkles around his shoulders, unable to lie, unwilling to admit she does frighten him.

 

Jungkook rejects Bora’s secret-under-the-table high five. She high fives herself instead. 

 

“Jimin, how do you feel about unicorns?” Bora asks. 

 

Jimin perks up. “There are unicorns on Terra?” 

 

“Not real ones, just in fantasy television,” Jungkook says. Jimin looks at him like he’s surprised to see Jungkook still in the room. . 

 

“They’re the same no matter where you go,” Bora says. “I think you’ll like this movie.”

 


 

“Here, let me hold that.” Jungkook reaches up from his beanbag for the thirty-two ounce smoothie Jimin is barely balancing between his arm and his body, already struggling with a blanket along with his own bucket of popcorn. 

 

Jimin looks away, but he lets Jungkook slide it out from his grip, careful not catch the twirly straw on the white sweater Siyeon loaned him. The sleeves end at his fingertips and Jimin struggles to keep his hands free to hold everything. Siyeon’s black leggings fit Jimin perfectly and look exponentially more comfortable than the sweatpants Jungkook loaned him.

 

The floor is covered in blankets, pillows, and cushions from around the house, creating a pool of soft in the lowered living room in front of the wall-mounted flatscreen. Of all the places Jimin has to choose from, he sits next to Jungkook.

 

Jungkook tries not to let it get to his head. Jimin still seems annoyed by his presence, even as he reaches for his smoothie and grabs the air the way a toddler reaches for a toy out of reach.

 

“You’re adorable,” Jungkook says under his breath. He can’t help it.  

 

“What did you say?”

 

“I asked if you liked your smoothie,” Jungkook lies. 

 

Jimin’s glowing eyes narrow, providing the only light along with the TV screen paused on the first frame of The Last Unicorn and Bora’s phone shining on her face while they wait for Siyeon to make the rest of the popcorn. 

 

“I like it,” Jimin says as he holds the cup away from him and shakes it around, watching as chunks of ice and strawberry float around through the glass. “You have one too,” he says through the bendy straw.

 

“I do,” Jungkook agrees. A human would continue the conversation, maybe ask Jungkook the same. So, as expected, Jimin drops it completely.

 

Jimin catches Jungkook staring and stops sipping. 

 

“What was that?” he asks. 

 

“I agreed with you. I do have a smoothie.”

 

“No, not what you said. You’re feeling something.”

 

“You’ll have to be more specific,” Jungkook says. He is feeling a lot of things—content, a little brain freeze, mostly warm, the urge to take another picture of Jimin while he’s not so intimidating. “What does it sound like?” 

 

Jimin leans close to Jungkook’s chest, resting his hands on Jungkook’s knees for balance. Jungkook tenses, afraid to move or even breathe as not to startle Jimin. 

 

“Do you feel happy?” Jimin looks up from inches away. 

 

Jungkook would pinch his cheek if it wouldn’t get him killed. 

 

“I’m happy,” Jungkook says. 

 

Jimin leans back on his heels. “Why?” he asks.

 

It’s hard to tell if he’s suspicious or curious. 

 

“That’s a complicated question.”

 

He’s happy because everything is new and exciting. He’s in a warm home surrounded by magic and kind people, drinking a homemade smoothie using home grown ingredients, laying on the softest beanbag he’s ever felt, and talking to an adorable human-sized pixie. There is a lot to enjoy.

 

“You need to find a way to explain it,” Jimin demands. He would look a lot less intimidating if he wasn’t sipping a pink drink with a bendy straw from sweater paws. 

 

Jungkook can’t tell a pixie he just met that he’s being rude without the fear of his clothes being set on fire. He glances to Bora, his eyebrows raised, asking if she’s hearing this too. Bora smirks and hides behind her phone.

 

Silence follows, occupied only by a pop on the stove every few seconds. It’s uncomfortable. Jungkook peers over his shoulder to the kitchen where Siyeon slowly fills the last two bowls with popcorn and absolutely destroys one of them with butter. 

 

“It’s okay if you can’t,” Jimin mumbles, returning to his own beanbag. Jungkook left Jimin hanging for too long, and the excited glow drained from his eyes. “What’s going to happen in the movie?”

 

“It’s been a while, but from what I remember, it’s about a unicorn who is the last of her kind. She goes on a quest to find out what happened to the rest of the unicorns, and she…” Gets stuck in a human body and discovers new human emotions she has never felt before. With the help of some humans and a magician, she escapes from an evil woman who held her captive, and eventually turns back into a unicorn.

 

Jungkook wonders if Bora’s suggestion was intentional. If it was just a coincidence, or if she knew what she was bringing out. 

 

“What does she do?”

 

“I can’t tell you, it would ruin the surprise. That’s called a spoiler.” Jungkook returns his attention to his smoothie and doesn’t look up.

 

“It’s probably not even accurate,” Jimin says.

 

“You should point out the mistakes, then. Humans love when people do that during movies.”

 

With Siyeon back from the kitchen, snuggled between Bora’s legs against the front of the couch, and Jimin no longer struggling to keep his limbs up on the beanbag, Jungkook presses play on the VHS and settles into a cocoon of fleece blankets. 

 

Surprisingly, Jimin only has one thing to say about the accuracy of the movie.

 

“She shouldn’t have trusted him,” Jimin says as the butterfly, who can only repeat stories and songs he has heard, informs the unicorn of the fate of her kin. “They’re usually wrong.”

 

“Do butterflies talk where you’re from?” Jungkook asks.

 

“They sing, not talk.” Jimin says. “Humans got that part right.”

 

After that, he is silent until the movie ends. By the time the credits roll Siyeon is snoring, and Jimin can barely keep his eyes open. Jungkook finds himself yawning and close to sleep as well. Jimin stirs when Jungkook pulls his empty cup from his lap to bring to the kitchen. 

 

“I’ll clean it up tomorrow, don’t worry,” Bora whispers, playing with the braids she added to Siyeon’s hair during the movie. “If you go upstairs, your rooms are the first two on the left. We’ll be right across the hall, so just holler if you need anything, okay?”

 

“Thank you,” Jungkook says, “for all of this.”

 

Though difficult, Jungkook convinces Jimin to move from the beanbag and is able to coax him up the stairs, still half asleep, and guide him to one of the identical guest rooms, adjoined by a single bathroom.

 

The bath Siyeon summoned is still hot even after sitting stagnant for two hours. The bubbles overflow but never leave the tub, and when they pop and disappear under Jungkook’s body, more form in place. Of all the things Siyeon kept form him, Jungkook is most disappointed he never got to experience a magical bubble bath, at least.   

 


 

Waking up to the sun in a soft bed and not to the man with fake eyes while strapped to a gurney feels like a dream. Dreams are fake realities humans experience when they sleep. They have no significant effect on the human’s body, and seemingly no evolutionary benefit. Jimin hasn’t dreamt since the first few nights in the operating room.

 

Downstairs, there are no humans in the house. He can hear the bridge forming beneath him, the well’s song drifting up the stairs from the hallway, but when he pushes and pulls on the door to check on Siyeon’s progress, it doesn’t budge. 

 

Alone in Siyeon’s home with no humans to observe, nothing to chase him, no one with whom he can bond a contract, Jimin feels impatient. He wants to tell Jungkook what Siyeon said, and why he can’t leave Jimin’s side until the bridge is complete. If Jungkook really is going to be the source of Jimin’s happiness, the force to raise his spirit and keep him from dying on Terra, Jimin needs to keep him close. 

 

Safety is in numbers. Safety is with Jungkook. Safety means finding what will motivate Jungkook to stay and brighten Jimin’s spirit before he dies. Safety means not leaving Siyeon’s home to look for Jungkook because Jimin will die quicker at the hands of the humans in pursuit of him. 

 

After pressing several buttons on the remote resulting in no response from the screen, Jimin gives up on watching a documentary. The passage of time, boredom, and anxiety were never an issue at home or in the operating room.

 

So Jimin waits. He closes his eyes and waits for Jungkook’s heartbeat. He is unaware of how long it takes before he hears a car roaring closer, but he must have been resting for quite a while, as when he opens his eyes, the sun is higher in the sky. 

 

Jimin jumps up to meet Jungkook at the front door and opens it before Jungkook does. Several brown bags hang off his arms and he struggles to balance them all on his way from the van.

 

“You were gone,” Jimin says. “Why?” 

 

“Good morning to you too,” Jungkook says. He steps out of his shoes and sets the bags on the table. “Did you sleep well?”

 

“Where were you?” It’s a simple question of Jungkook has nothing to hide. 

 

Jungkook stares, his eyebrows raised. Annoyance.

 

“I bought some snacks. You’re welcome.” 

 

Jimin meets him at the table and peers over the edge of one filled with colorful boxes and several bottles of red and purple liquid. Bubbles line the top of the liquid and appear out of nowhere from the bottom, like a potion without the stench.

 

“What does this do?” Jimin asks, shaking the bottle lightly to watch more bubbles form.

 

“Stop!” Jungkook swipes the bottle and sets it gently on the table. “Don’t shake these. It’ll explode.”

 

Jimin steps away, bracing for the eruption.

 

“Wait, no—not like, an actual explosion!” Jungkook says quickly. “I wouldn’t bring a bomb into the house.”

 

“But you brought an explosive potion in the house.”

 

“It’s not a potion. You drink it.”

 

“You drink potions too.”

 

Jungkook’s worry dissipates.

 

“Sometimes,” he says.

 

Jimin recognizes that fairy-like grin, the way his heart speeds, baiting Jimin to argue. He won’t give Jungkook the satisfaction of seeing him flustered and frustrated again.

 

“I’ll show you how to open one in a second.”

 

As Jungkook unloads the rest of the bags filled with boxes and bottles and spreads the contents across the table, Jimin picks up a blue box with bubbly, stylized glyphs it reads Pop Tarts: frosted blueberry

 

“You have blueberries here?” he asks. 

 

“Humans love blueberries. This, however,” Jungkook takes the box, “Is not real blueberry. It just tastes like blueberries. Well, actually, it doesn’t. It just makes you think it tastes like blueberries, but there’s no real blueberries in it.”

 

“So it’s lie?”

 

“All advertisement is a lie.”

 

“What’s advertisement?”

 

“It’s how rich humans get poor humans to buy things they don’t need.” Jungkook folds the empty bags and sets them on the floor, then stands behind the haul of food proudly as if he hunted and gathered it himself.  

 

 “I didn’t know what you liked, so I just bought some of my favorites. Don’t feel bad if you don’t like them, though.”

 

“Why would I feel bad about that?”

 

“You shouldn’t.” Jungkook tosses Jimin a bright yellow bag that rattles when he struggles to catch it. It’s light, like a bubble, but filled with hundreds of tiny pieces. 

 

Jimin reads the front of the bag, silently sounding out each letter individually.

 

“Potato chips?”

 

“Pull the top apart.” Jungkook rips open his bag to demonstrate. 

 

Jimin waits for Jungkook to eat one first. Once he sees it’s not poisoned, he tries one, and he can’t decide if he likes it or hates it, so he tries again, coming to the same conclusion. Still, he can’t stop eating them until the bag is empty. 

 

A sudden pop sends Jimin into the air, followed by a thin cloud of purple. Jungkook laughs at Jimin’s response as he presses the top of an explosive bottle, followed by another pop. Jimin flinches when Jungkook hands him the bottle. It fizzes like a potion but it isn’t as pungent. 

 

“What’s it going to do?” Jimin asks. 

 

“It’s not going to hurt you.” He isn’t lying. “You’ll definitely want it, trust me. Those potato chips will make you thirsty. It’s only scary the first time you hear it.”

 

“It isn’t going to turn me into a toad, is it?”

 

Jungkook laughs inhumanly.  

 

“What was that?” 

 

“What was what?”

 

“The noise you made is called a laugh,” Jimin explains. “Why do you make it so often?”

 

“I wasn’t laughing at you.”

 

“I don’t care about what you’re laughing at. What makes you laugh?” It’s not a complicated question. Siyeon said he was a scholar, but Jimin has doubts. 

 

“Sometimes you say things. And it’s, um, cute, I guess.” Jungkook does what humans do when they’re ashamed or embarrassed and their circulation disrupts—a physical reaction known as a blush

 

“Is that green again?” Jungkook asks, brushing Jimin’s shoulder.

 

Jimin panics and tugs away, only to find that the only dust on him is purple. Jungkook drinks to hide his mischievous smile that he shares with the fairies.

 

A human smile indicates joy, an emotion critical to Jimin’s survival. He doesn’t find joy in Jungkook’s joke the same way Jungkook does, but he needs to find it somewhere. He needs to figure out what makes a human to smile.

 

“Do you laugh when you hurt people?”

 

Jungkook freezes, his heart speeding again. He sounds offended, but also guilty.

 

“I was kidding,” Jungkook says. “It was a dumb joke. I’m sorry.” 

 

“You didn’t hurt me.” 

 

Confusion. Jungkook is confused too often to be a scholar. He is supposed to know more than Jimin.

 

Jimin must have misheard Siyeon. It would make more sense than Jungkook truly being a scholar and truly being his Tomorrow. 

 

“Humans laugh when they hurt people,” Jimin says. “They rarely laugh for other reasons.” 

 

Anger. Remorse?

 

“They laughed when they hurt you,” Jungkook says quietly. 

 

“Yes. Humans laugh when they hurt people.”

 

Jimin lowers his head, afraid of the look on Jungkook’s face, and afraid of the way Jungkook’s heartbeat deepens, blazing, with the same tune it sang when Jimin saw him for the first time. He clenches the bottle in his hand until his knuckles turn white. It looks like it might shatter in his grasp.

 

Before, Jungkook’s pity made him feel weak, like Jungkook viewed him as something sorrowful and powerless, yet here he feels safe. He would hate to be on the opposing end of that aura.

 

“I’m so sorry,” Jungkook says.

 

“Don’t apologize for things you didn’t do.”

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook says again. He relaxes and sets his drink down and leans against the table. “I can say over and over that not all humans are like that, but I hope I can show you I’m not like them too.” 

 

“I know,” Jimin scoffs. “I know the difference between a doctor and a scholar.”

 

“Scholar?”

 

Aren’t scholars supposed to be intelligent? And Jungkook doesn’t even know what a scholar is? 

 

“A scholar is someone lives to learn and teach.”

 

“You think I’m a scholar?” He looks pleased. 

 

“You don’t know what breed of human you are?”

 

Jungkook laughs again, but it doesn’t bother Jimin this time. In a way he can’t explain, Jimin is growing fond of Jungkook’s unpredictability, though annoyed that he must explain everything he says. 

 

“I don’t know how to explain this to you without blowing your mind, but not all doctors are evil. They can be, the only humans you always need to be wary of are cops.”

 

“You’re blowing on my mind?”

 

“No,” Jungkook laughs. He sounds happy when he’s able to answer Jimin’s questions. Jimin should ask more questions.

 

“It’s like shock,” he continues. “Like, when you first told me you were a pixie, or when you crushed that medical kit, or combusted that cop car, that stuff blew my mind. That was rad as fuck.”

 

“What’s rad?”

 

Rad means impressive.”

 

Pride brings an involuntary smile to Jimin’s face. It’s to be expected—the power Jimin wields that humans could never achieve—being impressive to a being as helpless as they are. 

 

“Are you sure the species you studied were humans?”

 

“Yes.” 

 

“You’re certain?”

 

“I told you I can’t lie.”

 

“But you can be wrong.” Jungkook hides behind the bottle again until its empty. 

 

“I’m—” never wrong. Jimin can’t finish the sentence. It isn’t true. 

 

“Ah, I thought so,” Jungkook grins. “It’s okay not to know everything.” 

 

Humans don’t like being proven wrong, even if, by doing so, they learn more. Jimin doesn’t like being wrong, but being corrected in order to learn more isn’t as embarrassing as believing a lie. He wants to learn more, even if his human ego suffers. 

 

“Tell me everything you know about humans,” Jimin says. 

 

“You first,” Jungkook says, “And I’ll tell you if you’re right.”

 

Chapter Text

Jungkook found a notepad in Siyeon’s kitchen scribbled in symbols and recipes. Some are human elements and numbers, while others burn Jungkook’s eyes when he tries to comprehend them.

As a so-called scholar, Jungkook feels it is important to take notes during their first session and he intends to utilize their time alone without magical distractions to learn about Jimin and teach in return. Bora is taking a spring quarter final, and Siyeon is building a magical bridge, so Jimin is stuck with Jungkook whether he likes it or not. Jungkook knows he can’t compare to Siyeon when it comes to Jimin’s willingness to trust, however, it is important to Jungkook that changes. He’ll never meet a pixie again. If he blows it with Jimin he’ll be disappointed for the rest of his life. 

Jimin faces him on the couch, deep in thought, like he doesn’t know where to start. Humanity is a broad subject, and Jimin doesn’t give the impression he’s ready to be told he’s wrong. But they must start somewhere. 

“I learned about humans from Seokjin,” Jimin begins. He wraps his arms around his knees and stares out the window behind Jungkook. “He knows everything about—he said he knew everything about humans.” 

Jungkook writes his first bullet point.

Seokjin: bitch?

Jimin leans in to see what Jungkook is writing. Jungkook tilts the notepad out of his view. 

“He said humans evolved from apes,” Jimin continues. “Do you know apes?”

“That’s correct,” Jungkook says. “We share a common ancestor in the evolutionary chain, but apes are a separate species. Did pixies evolve from anything, or have you always been...this way?” Jungkook motions up and down Jimin’s body with his pen. 

“You’re supposed to be teaching me.”

“Why can’t we learn together?”

“How would that work?” 

“I ask a question, then you ask a question, and we take turns like that?”

Jimin hesitates. “I’m not a scholar," he says.

“So you don’t know where pixies come from,” Jungkook challenges, pen already on the paper. 

Jimin rolls his eyes. Either it’s a natural human reaction to annoyance, or Jungkook is rubbing off on him. Both ideas are intriguing. 

“Of course I do. Pixies come from pixie dust.”

“Not the other way?”

“Pixies come from dust of a dead pixie.”

Pixies: not immortal? Jungkook writes. 

As curious as Jungkook is to know how a pixie dies, asking would be crossing boundaries. Jimin is suspicious enough already. 

“What is dust?” he asks instead. 

“My turn. How many human emotions are there?”

“Way too many.”

“How many?”

“No one knows.”

“But you’re a scholar—”

“There’s billions of humans, but not a single one can name every emotion. Not even a scholar.”

Jungkook still isn’t sure what Jimin thinks a scholar is. He expects Jungkook to know everything. He is going to be extremely disappointed when he learns what grades are and which ones Jungkook got in high school. 

“Not all languages have a word for every emotion or every combination of emotions,” he continues. “And there are some we don’t even recognize as emotions. Anger, sadness, happiness—those are all…”

Jungkook taps his pen on the paper, searching the ceiling for the right word. Jimin already had one teacher lead him astray and Jungkook doesn’t want to plant even more falsities in his mind.

“They’re all very vague words we use to describe a variety of emotions. For example, rage is a word for an intense anger. Grief is a specific kind of sadness. You can be happy from excitement. Emotions can’t be compartmentalized.”

Jimin takes his time to process. He looks invested, confused, curious, all at once, so very human of him. 

“So there’s more than thirty?”

“Ah—” Jungkook holds up his hand to cut Jimin off. “My turn. Wait, did Seokjin tell you there were only thirty human emotions? Where the hell did he get his information?”

“Ah—” Jimin echoes, copying Jungkook’s movement. “You get one question. Yes, Seokjin said there are thirty human emotions. What’s that for?” Jimin points at the pad of paper. 

“It’s to take notes so I don’t forget any of this information.” 

Jimin looks like he’s about to ask something, but he stops, realizing its not his turn. 

“Do pixies feel emotions?”

“Emotions aren’t processed in our bodies the same way. My human body doesn’t always agree with what my mind. They work on different spectrums, like colors. Humans see less colors, but more emotions.”

Jungkook scribbles as fast as he can. 

“What do colors look like to a pixie?”

“Can you describe what colors look like through your human eyes?”

“No. Good point.”

pixie color spectrum similar to shrimp? he writes. 

It’s technically Jungkook’s turn, but he waits for Jimin to ask his next question. 

“How long have you been alive?”

“Twenty-three years. How old are you?”

Jimin shrugs. “Older than that. We don’t use calendar years. We just...sort of...float around.”

“So, what do you do to pass the time? What do pixies do for fun? Wait, no, your turn.”

“Everything pixies do is for fun and survival, which happen simultaneously.” Jimin smiles and sways where he sits and his eyes flicker with gold. “I like being chased,” he says. “How many humans are there?”

“About eight billion.” Jungkook takes a risk. “Do you trust me?”

“That’s your question?” 

“Yes.”

“No.”

He didn’t expect a different answer. 

“So you would be suspicious if I said I was curious what predators could possibly kill someone as powerful as a pixie?” It won’t sound as suspicious as long as he fluffs Jimin’s ego, he tells himself.

To Jungkook’s surprise, Jimin doesn’t react by setting Jungkook’s hair on fire. He hesitates, but it looks like something clicked for him. 

“Nothing can kill a pixie. Pixies only die when their spirit lowers. Boredom, having no active contracts, forced isolation—” Jimin catches himself. “That was two questions.” 

pixies invincible to everything but “low spirits.” sadness?

“Sorry,” Jungkook says. 

“It’s fine. Asking two questions made you happy,” Jimin says. 

“You want me to be happy.” Jungkook phrases it like a statement and not a question, which technically isn’t cheating. 

“Do humans also die from a depleted spirit?”

“Yes. It’s called depression.”

“Depression,” Jimin repeats like it’s the first time he’s heard the word. 

“Do pixies ever feel depressed?”

“We don’t feel anything no matter how bright or dim our spirit. We just know what we need to do to survive. Feelings have nothing to do with it. The higher the sentimental value of the object we receive from fulfilling a contract, the brighter our spirits shine. Are humans happy when other humans are happy?”

Jungkook wants to tell Jimin that humans are a lot more complex than that. There’s more to human emotions than the black and white ideas he’s be subjected to. 

“Most of the time.”

“And my body is human. So if you’re happy, I should be happy. It’s survival.”

“Are you sure it’s survival, and not empathy?”

“Humans feel empathy?” Jimin asks, eyes wide as he perks up.

“Empathy is what separates humans from other animals.”

“Oh,” Jimin settles back into the arm of the couch. “Then, possibly. What’s another word for happy?”

“Are you feeling happy right now?”

“Yes. Answer my question.”

Jungkook knows Jimin can hear the spark of joy in his heart, can see it in the way Jungkook beams. Jimin can’t lie. Jimin is happy. Possibly for the first time in his life—his human or pixie life. 

“Elated, euphoric, joyous, delighted… There’s a lot of words for different kinds of happiness.” He is about to bring the topic back to a bitch named Seokjin and what his credentials were when the sunlight beautifully catches a feint, shimmering cloud of orange floating down from Jimin’s shoulders. It shines like Jimin’s eyes when he gets excited and blends in with his hair when some lands on his head. 

“What does orange mean?”

Jimin looks between them to see the pile of pastel dust that shimmers like it came from an eyeshadow pallet. 

“I don’t know,” Jimin says. 

Jungkook thinks he does. 

“Pixies don’t usually do that. Our dust is precious, and we wouldn’t waste it like this.” He runs his hands over the dust, collecting some of the glitter on his palm and clenches his fingers as if trying to absorb it back into his body, before brushing it onto the floor. 

“Do you think orange mean happiness?” It’s not Jungkook’s turn. Jimin doesn’t seem to mind. “Do you know what any of the colors mean?”

“I don’t know what they mean in terms of emotions,” he admits. “I didn’t know this could happen until yesterday. My dust was blocked completely in the operating room.” 

But it’s so beautiful, he wants to say. How could anyone do that to you? But he already knows the answer. Some humans just suck. Jungkook won’t try to accuse the man with supposed fake eyes of being a monster after the point Jimin made. Not every human wants what’s best for humanity. Jungkook doesn’t have to be a pixie trapped in an evil lab to understand the worst of humanity. 

“But you’re probably right,” Jimin says quickly, like he’s trying to reassure Jungkook. Like Jungkook is the one who needs convincing that humans aren’t one of the worst parts about Earth.

“I hadn’t felt any of the of happy ones until I met you.”

Jimin smiles a smile so human, seemingly genuine, that Jungkook’s heart swells. It’s hard to see him as the same pixie who was bleeding out in the Magic Shoppe, threatening to murder him and Yoongi and Hoseok, explaining the torture he endured in the pitiful name of science and how much he hates humanity, how he is going to hire a professional shit-wrecker to murder the doctors who inflicted said torture. 

Jungkook is warming up to the idea of mass murder if it means taking out the humans who tried to destroy that smile. 

“I’m happy you’re happy,” he says. 

“It would be in our best interest to keep each other happy, then.”

 


 

Unfortunately, magic can’t help Jungkook here. All the regretful knife fights and police run-ins that have equipped Jungkook with survival training falls to the mercy of a pile of cards and a few plastic pistons. 

“Shit,” Bora hisses, tossing her card into the discard pile. It lands upwards revealing a swirly green 6

Jungkook draws next. 

“Fucking finally.” Jungkook pulls his first piece from start and drops his 1 into the discard pile.

Bora taps her fingers on the table impatiently. Siyeon looks like she knows too much. Jimin hasn’t shown any emotional attachment to their game of Sorry! since they explained the rules.

Apparently, Sorry! is not a popular board game among the fae. Not a “bored” game, which frightened Jimin, but a colorful, family-friendly, friendship ending game to help them pass the time and get to know each other more. 

Siyeon draws next, smirking as she drops a 2 into the pile. Jungkook thinks he might have seen Jimin’s nose scrunch in a momentary fit of frustration. 

When Siyeon draws again, a second 2 in a row, Bora fumes. 

“Wait a minute!” She slams her hands on the table. “You wanted to go last on purpose! You saw the order, you nasty cheater!” Bora shakes Siyeon in her chair, as Siyeon tries to keep a straight face and stay upright.

It was Jungkook’s fault for suggesting a game of chance with someone who can see the future. It makes sense, now, how she won every single game of Go Fish that they played in studyhall. 

“Okay, so, we’re skipping Siyeon’s next turn,” Jungkook says. 

“Yes! Thank you!”

“What? That’s not fair,” Siyeon protests. “You don’t get to make up rules.” She holds onto Bora’s hands to stop the shaking, still feigning innocence, still guilty, as she pulls Bora into a hold against her chest that she can’t escape. 

“It’s two against one,” Jungkook says. “Jimin?”

Jimin looks like he’s woken up from a trance. 

“Do you think Siyeon is a nasty cheater and deserves to lose a turn and also sleep on the couch tonight?” Bora asks.

“What’s a nasty cheater?”

“Like a criminal, but worse,” Bora says, glaring at her.

“Don’t put ideas in his head,” Siyeon scolds. “Jimin, I did nothing wrong. Ignore them.” 

“Is this part of the game?” he asks Jungkook. 

“House rules call for punishment,” Jungkook says. 

“I’ve committed no crime,” Siyeon says.

“Are you talking about the hell spell?”

Siyeon freezes, still holding Bora against her chest, and Bora stops struggling. The room grows so quiet Jungkook would be able to hear a single particle of pixie dust hit the floor.

“Jungkook, explain what’s—” a pause. "Will you explain what’s going on?” Jimin asks.

“Bora was talking about Siyeon using her magic to win at a game, not her criminal past,” Jungkook explains. “You made it awkward.”

“What is a cheater, then?”

“A cheater is someone who lies or tricks the other players into letting them win.”

“What’s so bad about that?”

“Exactly,” Siyeon says. “Two against two. Let’s keep going.”

 

 

Siyeon wins the game. Jimin comes in second thanks to Siyeon’s guidance. He is a quick learner and relentless with his tactics, leaving Jungkook and Bora to compete for third and fourth place. They each have three pieces in home, their last pieces being in the final few spaces before the finish. 

Bora slowly draws the next card from the pile, scowling and throwing it back down to reveal a 4. Jungkook bounces in his seat as she pulls her piece out of the home stretch. Siyeon pats Bora’s head to console her. 

Jungkook hovers over the next card, building tension as he looks between Bora and Siyeon and Jimin and the board, before slowly sliding it away from the pile, still face down, afraid of the result. 

“What happens if you lose?” Jimin asks. “What’s the punishment?”

Jungkook stops, leaving the card a mystery. 

“That was a joke. There is none.”

“Then why is everyone so anxious? Is that card going to make you unhappy?” 

Jimin’s words pull at Jungkook’s heart. Since yesterday, when they agreed to keep each other happy, Jimin has dutifully held his end of the deal just by existing and being magical about it. In return, Jimin feeds of Jungkook’s happiness. The natural human characteristic of finding joy through another’s joy reflects strongly in Jimin.

“It’s just a game,” Jungkook says. “It’s either going to make me very happy,” he peeks at the card, “or it’s going to be devastating.” Jungkook flips the card quickly and drops it in the center. “Fuck!” 

Bora quickly grabs the next card. She gasps, throwing it up into the air and slamming her final piece into her home base. The card lands on the floor behind her showing a 7 face up. 

“Get dunked on!”

“You came in third,” Jungkook mutters. He flicks his last, pitiful piece over and it rolls across the board and falls into Jimin’s lap. 

“Congrats, tiny,” Siyeon says, “You still lost.” Bora smiles up at her, giggling when Siyeon leans down to give her a kiss, a light peck. It’s adorable how happy it makes the two of them. 

“What was that, Bora?” Jimin asks. 

“That’s called winning without cheating. Like a non-cheater who isn’t going to be sleeping on the couch tonight.”

Siyeon’s jaw drops.

“As the real winner don’t I get a say in that?”

Receiving no answer from Bora, Jimin turns to Jungkook, eyebrows raised. He knows what Jimin is actually referring to.

“Humans do that when they like each other. It’s called a kiss,” he explains as he gathers all the pieces and slides them into the box. He glances at Bora and Siyeon to say anything to change the subject so Jimin drops it. They’re too busy arguing about who is going to sleep where like she didn’t hear the question at all.

“It made her really happy,” Jimin says as he hands Jungkook the piece from his lap. 

“I bet it did,” Jungkook says loudly to pull either one of them out of their own world.  

“So humans are happy when they do a kiss?”

Oh, no. That was adorable.

Jungkook doesn’t need to be a magical fortune telling warlock to know where Jimin is going to take this. 

“That’s the general idea, yeah.”

“I want to do a kiss.”

Bora stops mid-sentence and gasps. Siyeon raises her eyebrows at Jungkook, offering no help at all. Jimin is also watching Jungkook, waiting for an answer, and Jungkook is looking directly into those golden-brown swirly eyes that he doesn’t want to say no to. 

But it’s a ridiculous request. Say no, and he’ll have to explain why and find out what color rejection looks like in dust. Say yes, and face the awkward afterburn of a kiss with a pixie who he met only a couple days ago. Both options make Jungkook look like an asshole. 

As tempting as Jimin’s offer is, Jungkook would feel like he was taking advantage of him.

“No,” he says quickly and spins out of his chair to return the box to its bookshelf across the room. 

“Why not?”

Don’t,” Jungkook says under his breath.

Siyeon and Bora don’t step in like he hoped they would and knew they wouldn’t. They’re enjoying this. He can tell they’re enjoying this by the way they roll off each other and escape to the kitchen to leave Jungkook alone to explain to a an pixie why he won’t kiss him, even though he said it makes humans happy.  

Jungkook would rather have been set on fire in the Magic Shoppe than turn to see a layer of deep teal fall from Jimin’s shoulders. 

“You’re uncomfortable,” Jimin accuses.

“Yeah.” Jungkook stands awkwardly by the bookshelf, hoping the sound of the blender going off in the kitchen drowns out his heartbeat. 

“I don’t understand,” Jimin says. “You called that a kiss.” 

“Yeah.”

“And it made Bora happy.”

“Yeah.” Jungkook faces the window, admiring the succulents and alien-like mushrooms growing from the outside of the windowsill.

“You don’t want to be happy?”

“I do.” The ocean looks beautiful from here, sparkling like pixie dust under the setting sun.

“But you don’t want to make me happy,” Jimin says like it’s finally clicked. 

“I do want you to be happy,” Jungkook says, spinning to face Jimin. “It’s just not that simple.”

Don’t stress. He can hear stress. Stay calm for Jimin. 

Jungkook blames Bora for his anxiety, for leaving him to hang. And what happened to Siyeon’s promise that no bro gets left behind? The sanctity of the bro-code pact they made their senior year means nothing to her. It was all lies. 

“Then explain it to me. You’re a scholar.”

As if Jungkook could forget when Jimin reminds him every time he doesn’t know the answer. Jungkook can’t explain the difference between love and happiness and what a kiss does and doesn’t mean depending on the context and the complexity of the relationship.

At least not to a human, predisposed to underlying implications.

“Okay,” Jungkook sighs. He pulls out his chair and taps his fingers on the table.

Jimin sits up, his full pixie attention on Jungkook just like when they were talking about simple matters like the philosophy of emotions and evolution and colors and not the definitions of the words “happiness” and a “kiss.”

“You’re extremely embarrassed.”

Jungkook can do this. It’s just kissing, not rocket science. 

“Kissing is an embarrassing subject for humans.”

“I don’t understand.”

“What’s not clicking?”

“Happiness is good.”

“Yes.” Most of the time. 

“Embarrassed is bad.”

“It can be.”

“Kissing is happiness, but it’s also embarrassing, which is decidedly shameful.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.” Jimin squints. He plays with the dust on the table, not looking at Jungkook anymore, only focused on the pattern he is drawing into the teal glitter.

“Great. Glad that makes sense and you understand all of it and have no more questions.” Jungkook pushes out from the table. 

Jimin stops playing with the dust.

“That makes no sense, Jungkook. I thought you were a scholar.”

Jungkook sits back down, wondering what sort of twisted game has Siyeon set up for him by telling Jimin he was a scholar.

“Sorry to be a disappointment instead of a scholar,” he says. It’s not genuine and they both know it.

The blender stops, followed by rushed footsteps over the hardwood as Bora runs to the table with two large glasses of malts with bendy straws pointed at each of them. 

“Kissing is fun,” she says unhelpfully. “You should try it sometime.” Bora darts to the staircase before he can process the grenade of a comment she just dropped. 

 


 

Seokjin never taught Jimin what it means when a human blinks with one eye at another human, but Bora’s actions before running away have Jungkook flustered and nervous, so it is safe to assume it is not a friendly gesture.

Even over the sound of a documentary about wolves and bears of Terra, Jimin doesn’t miss a beat of Jungkook’s roaring heart. He is feeling too much and too quickly for Jimin to get a solid read.

If Jimin’s mortality was out of the equation, he would leave Jungkook to contemplate his human emotions alone where Jimin couldn’t hear it. 

But Jungkook’s state of mind directly impacts Jimin’s wellbeing, and Jimin is running out of time. He tries the tactic known as reassurance again. 

“I’m sorry,” Jimin tries. 

“Don’t be! Don’t apologize for asking questions.”

“I’m not apologizing for asking questions. I’m sorry you’re upset.”

“I’m not upset,” Jungkook lies. 

“But—”

“I know you might think that what I’m feeling is upset, but it’s not. It caught me off guard and I didn’t know how to react. I’m not upset with you.” 

A blatant lie, or a incompetent overlook of his own emotions. 

“How were you supposed to react?”

“I don’t know,” Jungkook shrugs, watching his malt slowly disappear. 

“That’s okay.” Jimin twirls his straw in his empty cup, pushing the last few drops of hibiscus malt around at the bottom, focusing on the cup so he doesn’t have to look at Jungkook. “I don’t know either, so it’s okay.”

Embarrassment. Confusion. Jimin hates feeling confusion almost as much as he does shame.

“Let’s get to know each other a bit more,” Jungkook says. “I would feel less uncomfortable with the idea of kissing you if I knew, like, what your favorite color was at least,” he laughs. 

“White.”

“Your favorite color is white?”

“Yes. Do you know which one white is?”

“Of course. White, just, isn’t a very common answer.”

But white is the most powerful color in all the realms. Snow is white. Unicorn blood is white. Legends of white dust have spread through every realm. The first and last things a living being sees through their mortal eyes is white. 

“What’s your answer?” Jimin asks. 

“I like green. Dark green, specifically. Like a deep forest green,” Jungkook says like he would know what a deep forest looks like. 

“Deep forests aren’t green.” 

Jungkook’s fairy grin returns. 

“Sometimes forests are green,” he argues. 

Jimin knows when he is being serious and when he is teasing. It doesn’t make it any less difficult for Jimin not to defend himself. 

“There is no light to make green in a deep forest.”

“But the leaves are still green even if there’s no light.”

Jungkook has already made up his mind that he’s won, and Jimin has made up his that Siyeon has to be wrong about Jungkook being a scholar. 

But debating excites Jungkook, so Jimin tries to find the appeal.

“Color can’t be observed through the absence of light. It doesn’t exist until it reflects something like your sun.”

“You’re right,” Jungkook says. “You’re so incredibly right it’s like you’ve never been wrong.”

Jungkook slouches and pulls legs on the couch between himself and Jimin as he stares at his phone screen. Jimin is disappointed in Jungkook. He thought he would push for further conversation, and now Jimin feels like he’s missing out. 

Jungkook hides behind his phone, his eyes darting all over the screen while ignoring Jimin completely.

Agitation.

After a while he laughs or smiles or frowns at the screen, but the tone of his heart stays neutral overall like none of it is really affecting him. He’s bored, but he isn’t actively trying to change it. It’s like Jungkook doesn’t mind being bored because boredom won’t kill Jungkook. 

“Are you good?” Jungkook asks, looking over his phone. “You’re staring at me and it’s making me nervous.”

“You’re bored.”

“Not really.”

“You are. I can hear it.”

“I’m not bored. I’m just content.” Jungkook looks at his phone, then back to Jimin. “Are you bored? I can put on something more interesting. You don’t have to keep watching documentaries.”

Jungkook sits up and takes the remote from Jimin’s lap. The wolves and narration from the box vanish are replaced by the screen with the scrolling boxes of stationary humans.

“Do you want to watch another cartoon?”

Not if Jungkook is going to ignore him. Jimin doesn’t want to sit and stare at a screen and learn about humans, he wants to hear it from Jungkook. Siyeon told Jimin to keep Jungkook happy, and bored is not happy.

“I want to talk to you.”

Jungkook drops the remote and his phone. That made him happy. Proud. A little surprised, but mostly excited.

“What do you want to talk about?” 

“Siyeon told me to ask a lot of questions and that you would answer them.”

“I don’t know why she would tell you that. What else did she say about me?”

“She said you’re my—” Jimin catches himself. If he says it out loud it will make it true. “She said you would help me brighten my spirit. I don’t want to die on Terra,” Jimin says softly.

Shock. It sounds awful. Shock does not harmonize with Jungkook’s heart. It rings like an alarm.

“Wait, Jimin, are you dying?”

“Yes.”

“Oh,” Jungkook breathes.

“I don’t want to care if I die,” Jimin says. “I don’t want to feel human anymore.”

The feeling of apprehension reminds Jimin that right now, he is human, and mortal. According to Siyeon, he can die the way humans die, or he can turn to dust like he was always going to.

“Do all humans fear death?” Jimin asks. 

The unwelcome anguish of wanting to cry is familiar, but Jimin will never let Jungkook see his tears again. When a humans cry, other humans take advantage of their vulnerability and attack while their eyes are clouded, their senses numbed by emotion. 

Jimin learned not to let the man with fake eyes see him cry. He would revel in it, and Jimin would succumb to the pain that would eagerly accompany his satisfaction as he tried to make Jimin scream louder.

Jungkook moves slowly into Jimin’s space, crowding Jimin against the arm of the couch. Jimin pushes against Jungkook’s chest, ready to defend against the inevitable, instinctual attack from the human. He doesn’t react quick enough to summon his dust, before realizing he won’t need to. 

Jungkook doesn’t sound like he wants to kill Jimin. He’s crying too. He holds Jimin’s hands in his lap as both their hearts race through a myriad of emotion.

Determination stands out in Jungkook’s tune.

Jimin squeezes his eyes shut to keep the tears in his body.

“Hey, Jimin, look at me.”

Jimin has no choice, his will conditioned to be useless against the command of a human’s voice. 

“You’re not going to die,” Jungkook says, “so don’t start thinking like that.” 

“You don’t get to decide that.”

“You said you needed to keep your spirit bright in order to live, right?”

Jimin nods.

“Then won’t let your spirit die. Do I sound like I’m lying?”

“No.”

Jimin hardly trusts Jungkook, but he believes him. There is something laced in his heart’s song that changed. A melody becomes clear. It sounds more like an instrument than a vague tune carrying his feelings.

“If what you need is to be happy, then I’ll make sure you have the best fucking time on this planet before you leave and you’ll never have to know what it’s like to feel depressed.”

Jungkook lets go of Jimin and sits back on his heels, giving Jimin space to collect himself. When he does, he realizes Jungkook has entirely misunderstood his situation. 

“I’ve always been on this planet,” Jimin says. “It’s the realm that’s different.”

“Same thing.”

“It’s—” Jungkook knows Jimin is right. He smiles like he’s trying not to laugh. “It doesn’t matter.”

“So,” Jungkook claps his hands together, “what can I do to make you feel better?”

“I’ll reflect your emotions, so you need to not be sad.”

Jungkook laughs.

“Easier said than done, but I’ll try my best until you leave.”

“You’ll be unhappy when I leave?”

Sorrow.

“I might miss you. All of this,” he gestures around the room and at Jimin, “is a pretty big deal for a human. Going back to normal is going to suck. But, who knows? By the end of this month I might hate you so much I’ll be glad to see the door hit you in the ass on the way out.” 

Jimin stiffens. It’s not real aggression, but the notion that Jungkook might hate him, might become an enemy, sends a shiver down his spine, despite Jimin knowing it was a joke.

Jungkook is teasing him, like a fairy, that's all.

Jimin wonders if Jungkook knows what it’s like to be teased, how demeaning it can feel. He can’t lie, but he can bluff. 

“You hate me?” he asks, pressing as much emotion into his words as he would if they were genuine. To add to his ruse, he summons crimson dust around his shoulders to imitate his involuntary response to anger and fakes a horrified expression.

Jungkook reacts accordingly.

“Wait, no! I’m sorry, that was sarcasm. It was a bad joke. I didn’t mean it. I won’t hate you.”

“Sarcasm?”

“Sarcasm is like a lie that humans tell to make other humans laugh,” he says quickly like he’s running out of time. “Usually they both know that the sarcasm wasn’t serious. I was trying to be funny. I’m sorry.”

Jungkook truly believes he’s angered Jimin. Jimin adds another cloud, darker and thicker than before.

“Telling lies that hurt humans is something you find funny? You do laugh when you hurt people, don’t you?”

“I don’t, I promise,” he panics. “Listen to my heart?”

Jimin leans close to Jungkook’s chest. As expected, he hears regret and panic. He is sincere. Jimin pretends he doesn’t.  

Jimin lunges back and scoots to the end of the couch to put distance between them.

“You were lying this whole time,” Jimin says, his voice overlaid with a quiet echo. It terrifies Jungkook to his core. “I told you what would happen if you betrayed me.” 

The dust thickens and sparks fly from his fingertips, singeing the ends of his sleeves.

Jungkook knows he can’t outrun Jimin. Rightfully, he’s afraid. 

“Jimin—”

“I don’t need your pity.”

Jungkook tenses and squeezes his eyes shut.

Jimin relaxes until his dust softens and falls, and he blows what’s left in his hand into Jungkook’s face. 

Jungkook blinks through the cloud, coughing as he breathes in the dust. 

“Was that right?” Jimin asks. 

“W-What? Right?” 

“Sarcasm? Did I do it right? You’re not laughing.”

“Jimin!” Jungkook yells. He brushes the dust from his hair and off his lap, “I thought you were really going to kill me! What the hell!"

For the first time, Jimin knows what it feels like to laugh. It doesn’t happen on purpose, and he only recognizes the sound when Jungkook joins him. He can’t help the way his cheeks lift as his eyes close from how wide he smiles. In a way, laughing feels like hyperventilating. His chest bounces as his body forces a sound he never learned how to make.

It happens as naturally as his wings fluttering to lift him from the ground, or his ability to bond a contract.

It doesn’t last, but it was nice for a moment. Jimin wants to laugh again.

“You’re not going to kill me, are you?”

“I wouldn’t waste my dust on you.”

“Holy shit,” Jungkook breathes. “I deserved that, but please do not ever do that to me again.”

“But we both laughed like you said we should.”

“Yeah, after I realized I wasn’t going to die in pixie fire. What, do you find my fear funny now?”

“No. It was sarcasm.”

“Wow.” Jungkook clutches his shirt over his chest. “I need a drink. Are you thirsty?” He doesn’t wait for Jimin to respond, legs shaking and heart racing as he walks to the kitchen. 

Jungkook comes back with two bottles of the drink he called ramune

“Do you remember how to open these?” Jungkook asks, offering one of the bottles to Jimin with shakey hands.

Jimin nods. He has watched Jungkook take the top apart and press it into the bottle until the glass dislodged. It doesn’t come as natural as laughing. It isn’t as easy as Jungkook made it look. 

“Are you sure?”

“No.” 

Jungkook pops the bottle open for him. Jimin doesn’t understand what makes Jungkook so strong.

“Don’t be ashamed to be weaker than a human,” Jungkook says, too proud of himself.

“You will never be—” His lips continue to move, but he can’t force to sounds out.

Jungkook catches it.

“Go on,” he challenges. “Say that I’ll never be stronger than you.”

“Pixies will always be stronger than humans.”

Jungkook points to the bottle Jimin is holding. Jimin pulls his legs in to hide the bottle behind his knees. 

“I really thought we were past that,” Jungkook sighs. “Do all pixies have giant egos or is that a Jimin thing?”

“All pixies do.”

“Without your dust, you’re technically weaker than me, right?”

Jimin doesn’t answer. Nothing he wants to say will come out.

“How much dust have do you have, by the way?”

After what he wasted on his facade, not nearly enough. Not nearly as much as he would have expected by now.

Siyeon was right when she told him how incompatible their magic is with the Terra’s atmosphere. At the very least Jimin expected to have enough dust to grow and entire circle of mushrooms by now. When he flexes to feel the dust course through his body, he has barely more what he did yesterday. 

“I don’t have much dust,” he admits. 

“Are there suppressants in your system?”

The mention of dust suppressants makes Jimin shiver. He can still feel the dissections, the needles, the scalpels, the thread. He can feel cold metal reach his insides, feel the scrape of cotton against his exposed human organs. He can see the man with fake eyes adjusting his eyes, enlarging them to see further into Jimin as he lays helpless against the straps. 

All around him is cold and blue. White light blinds and pale, textureless hands reach over him, around him, inside him, under him, pushing and tugging at every inch of his body.

He doesn’t bleed out. He doesn’t want to die on Terra.

In a blur of sharp edges and hellish injections, Jimin only has one thought. 

My wings. 

He can still feel them, like phantom limbs attached to his back by loose thread. He can see the glass jar they’re in briefly before it is wheeled out of the room.  

“Jimin?”

His wings call to him, muffled by the distance. He can’t tell which direction it’s coming from.

“Jimin, look at me.”

A pair of real human eyes stare at him on an even level, not from above. In their reflection, the sky is orange. He is no longer on an operating table. 

Jimin is with a human. 

No one is coming to save you.

“I’m here. You’re here.” 

Not all the magic in the world will take you from me.

“We’re at Siyeon’s house.”

This world, at least.

“Jimin?”

Do you want to know how I know this?

Jungkook’s hands replace the needles under his eyes, grounding him as he brushes the dust from his cheeks.

Because I’ve already gotten rid of it all. 

“They took my wings.”

“I know,” Jungkook says.

Jimin feels a human hand on his back through the thin fabric of something that isn’t a green gown. He doesn’t remember when that changed.

“We’ll get them back.”

“We can’t—” Jimin says, but he chokes on his words. 

Jungkook’s hands run over where his wings should be, dispersing the phantom limbs.

Jimin opens his eyes to Jungkook’s shoulder with his arms are pressed tight between their bodies. Jungkook named this action a hug

He doesn’t remember leaving his spot on the couch to be enveloped by Jungkook, but he doesn’t mind. He welcomes it against the pain that comes from inside his skull.

“Jungkook.”

“I’m here.”

“They took my wings.”

“I know, hon. It’s okay.”

Hon?

“It’s okay. Are you with me?”

When Jungkook pulls back, Jimin chases the warmth, clinging to his shirt. He fears if he lets go, he will fall back into the operating room.

“I’m here,” Jimin says. He only pulls away when he stops shaking. Jungkook’s hands slide off his back rest on his legs where his knees press against Jungkook’s. 

“I’m not weak,” Jimin says. 

“I believe you. Any human would have died after what you went through.” 

“I am dying.”

“Hey.” Jungkook brings his hands to either side of Jimin’s face and tilts his head until Jimin is looking directly at him. “You’re alive. You’re not going to die.”

“I’ll die if either of us are unhappy.” Jimin holds Jungkook’s wrist for support.

Despite Jimin’s words, the knowledge that Jimin is actively dying, Jungkook smiles. He smiles so easily. 

“You being alive makes me happy. As long as you’re still breathing, I’m fine, and you’re fine. It was a panic attack, it doesn’t mean you’re dying.”

“Oh!” Bora gasps suddenly from behind him.

Jimin didn’t even hear her come through the front door.

“Am I interrupting something? Did you finally get your k—” 

Jimin turns to see Bora stopped in the doorway, dropping a bag off her shoulder that sends a cloud of dark purple dust into the air at her feet.

“What happened? Where’s Siyeon?” she asks, rushing to the kneel by the couch and place her hand on Jimin’s knee the way the humans around him like to do when he is stressed, like they know it’s going to comfort him.

"Did you have another panic attack?”

“I’m fine,” Jimin says. She doesn’t hear him. 

“Did he have a panic attack? Is he okay?” she asks Jungkook. 

“He’s come down.”

“I’m fine,” Jimin repeats. 

“Aw, Mimi, you’re inking everywhere,” Bora says.

Mimi?

“I’m fine,” he says again. 

Sympathy. Worry. She’s as compassionate as a grim reaper, with the potential to be twice as terrifying. Jimin can see why Siyeon is fond of her. Warlocks love a challenge. 

“What triggered it?” Bora asks. 

“I asked him about how they suppressed his dust. I think anything related to the...place is a trigger.”

“What’s a trigger?” 

“A trigger is something that reminds you of something. In your case, it’s….” Jungkook doesn’t want to say it. 

“The operating room?” Jimin asks. “I’m fine. I can think about it. I’m going to need to go back to it to get my wings.”

Jungkook and Bora look at each other with the same expression and worried tune in their hearts. 

“I don’t know if you’ll be able to, Jimin, not as long as your body is human—”

“I’m going to have to go back. My body will have to deal with it.” It doesn’t matter what Jungkook wants him to do or not do. 

Bora brings her bag over to the couch, dropping it beside her as she sits on the floor and takes out her phone. 

“Now probably isn’t the best time, but you need to see this,” she says, handing it to Jungkook. 

Shock.

“What’s on the phone?”

Incredulity.

“Holy shit. Do they—is there another one?” Jungkook asks. 

“Scroll,” Bora commands. Jungkook does. He holds the phone at an angle so Jimin can’t see the screen.

Jungkook’s eyes widen. 

“Is that—”

“Yeah,” Bora says.

“Shit.”

“What’s on the phone?” Jimin asks again. He tugs on Jungkook’s wrist.  

Jungkook pulls away, but not before Jimin catches a glimpse of a pixie he recognizes. The pixie has wings in the picture and is propped up by strings and sticks in a small glass jar, but he wouldn’t know about them just from looking at.

Jimin’s first prison. The glass jar of glass shards. His face hardly looks the same, much smaller, more angled, more pixie, barely reminiscent of what he sees in his reflection now. 

Jimin can hear his wings call to him through the picture. 

“Why is this bad? I don’t even look like that anymore. The doctors can’t find me like this.”

Jungkook ignores him in favore of the phone.

“‘Wonders great, but mostly small,” he reads, “come visit the pixie of Avalon’s Hall.” Jungkook scoffs. “Avalon’s Hall? Like, the butterfly exhibit at the zoo? When was this posted?”

“About an hour ago. I didn’t see it until I was on the bus coming home. It’s everywhere.”

“But he’s here! What the fuck are they expecting to show? What the fuck?” he yells. “What the fuck?”

Bora scrolls on her phone and points. “It says it’s not opening until June thirteen.”

“That’s only three weeks from now.”

“Maybe they think they can get him back before then?”

“Ha! Fuck no.”

Jungkook stands and Jimin slides away from his body, immediately missing the warmth.

Jungkook’s rage is enough to petrify Jimin. The drumming, the aggression, terrifying. 

Jungkook could kill Jimin in this state. 

“Not happening,” Jungkook says, pacing behind the couch. Bora replaces him next to Jimin, resting her hand back on his knee like it’s natural, normal. 

“Is Siyeon here?” Bora asks.

“Still working on the bridge. She’s been down there all day.” Jungkook speeds to the door leading downstairs. “I’ll go get her—”

“You can’t,” Bora says. “Humans can’t go in there. We’ll have to wait.”

“Jimin can go.”

Bora’s grip on Jimin’s knee tightens, holding him in place. 

“Jungkook, slow down." It’s a command that, even in this state, halts Jungkook in his place. “Look at the floor.”

Jungkook looks around him, head swerving until he realizes he’s standing in a layer of dark pixie dust.

“Shit,” he says as he runs his foot through dust, kicking a cloud into the air. “I’m sorry. I’m calm, I promise. I’m sorry.” 

Jungkook is not calm. He’s fuming.  

Bora pats the spot on the couch on her other side.

"Come. Sit.”

“I’m not a dog.”

“Down, boy.”

Jungkook scoffs but does as he’s told. Bora’s control over the human Jungkook is astounding. Not even Jimin has the courage approach him when his heart drums. 

Jungkook falls onto the couch so heavily it bounces all the cushions and the couch scoots backwards on the wooden floor, crunching over the dust. 

Jimin knows Jungkook won’t hurt him by now—he would have already if he was going to—yet having Bora between them as a barrier makes him feel safer than when Jungkook was was pacing around freely. 

“Remember the bluebells?” Bora asks. 

“How do you know about that?” Jungkook demands.

“Do you remember them? Do you remember what they smelled like?”

“Of course I do—”

“Eyes closed.”

Jungkook closes his eyes, breathing deeply, slowly, slower, until his heart has quieted and Jimin isn’t afraid of him anymore.

“I remember.” He takes deep breaths until the rage has subsided. “Thanks,” he says. “Did Siyeon say something to you?”

“It was the first thing she told me about you. Right before you called.”

“Ha,” Jungkook breathes. “I knew she picked up too fast. She knew the whole time. Of course she did. I’m sorry.”

“You’re okay,” Bora says, placing her other hand on Jungkook’s leg and rubbing her fingers in small circles over his knee. “Let’s all take a deep fucking breath. We’ve got this.” 

She smiles wide. Reassurance. 

Jimin trusts her.  

 


 

Jungkook wades through knee high bluebells to reach Siyeon at the opposite end of the meadow. Behind her, a sea of trees looms and rocks and sways in front of the moon. The sky is full of stars, but they aren’t from the Milky Way. They don’t shine.

The only light comes from single candle lit atop the tallest bluebell. The fire is warm and it burns Jungkook’s eyes but the flower beneath doesn’t whither. 

“Do you remember the bluebells?” It’s Siyeon’s voice, but her lips aren’t moving. Her eyes are closed, legs crossed, hands resting in her lap with her thumbs pressed together forming a small triangle. 

Jungkook can’t find his voice. He looks around for it, brushes aside the bluebells, but it evades him. All he hears is a name muffled by the wind. 

He nods.

“Do you remember what I asked you when we met?” Siyeon speaks, this time from her body. 

“You asked me if you looked human.” Jungkook smiles at the memory. 

A silly first impression, but a lasting one. Jungkook remembers her sitting against the brick wall in the courtyard on their high school campus reading a book in a language he did not recognize. When he stared at the cover for too long trying to decipher the letters and make sense of the images, a splitting pang ripped through his head. 

Jungkook meets Siyeon in the middle of the meadow and sits down in front of her, legs crossed and hands mimicking her own. 

Jungkook has never been able to place a specific scent in a dream before, but all his senses are engulfed by the bluebells in this moment. Their smell, colors, dulled by the night but bright under the flames, their rustling and waving and growing and shaking, their soft bulbs rubbing against his arms and his legs.

“And you asked me what a human was supposed to look like,” Siyeon says. “Do you remember what I said?”

“Like a pixie, but larger.” Jungkook laughs. 

 

He laughed at the time as well before he sat down next to Siyeon and asked her, “Do I look human to you?”

Siyeon said, “You look incredibly human today.”

 

“Did you know, even back then? About Jimin?” Jungkook asks. 

“I speak predictions, but I do not know them until they come to be. Futures change when you are given free will to decide if the one laid before you is the one you wish to pursue. Predictions is all they are.”

“Have you ever been wrong?”

The flame flickers in the wind, sending sparks flying through the air, dancing through the field of rustling bluebells. The wind blows low in the valley. 

“Never wrong. Once corrected.”

“So when you told me that the next day, a man with a metal heart would steal my future—"

The flame on the bluebell floats away, taking with it the last of the orange glow, shrouding the meadow in cold blues and whites. 

“Not your ‘future.’ I said, ‘tomorrow.’”

“How is that different?”

“Humans do not have a word for the yesterdays and todays and tomorrows I read. Humans only have today.”

“You failed to explain that.”

“You were fourteen. You weren’t supposed to remember your first fortune.” Siyeon sounds impressed, her expression is unwavering. 

“It was a big deal for me. I’m assuming not many people are fated to save a dying pixie when they’re fourteen.”

Siyeon tilts her head, opens one eye, like she is peeking at something she should not be looking at.

“Is that what you took from my prediction?”

Jimin mentioned a man with fake eyes and a metal operating table. What else?

“That’s what I’m choosing to pursue, whether you predicted it or not,” he speaks boldly, unashamed, because it's only a dream. She can't kick his ass in a dream.

Siyeon closes both eyes and sits up straight. “Do you know how to kill a pixie?”

“They die from boredom and unhappiness. Low spirited pixies turn to dust.” 

“I did not ask how a pixie dies.” It isn’t Siyeon’s voice anymore. 

A man stands behind her, his face shrouded in moonlight shadow over a royal blue robe covered in gold stars that look like they were stolen from the night sky itself. 

“I asked, do you know how to kill a pixie?” 

Siyeon’s eyes shoot open.

Jungkook wakes up the guest bedroom.

 

Chapter Text

Jungkook bolts awake to a sun high in the sky and a knock on his door. The dream feels more like a memory until it leaves his mind completely and he can focus on the room.

 

“You can come in,” he says, catching his breath and reaching for his shirt on the floor. He pulls it down right as the handle turns. 

 

“Did I do it right?” Jimin asks, peeking from behind the door. 

 

“Do what right?”

 

“A knock? Bora said humans have to tap on doors to open them.”

 

“That was a perfect knock.”

 

Jimin stays behind the door, peering in from the side like he is afraid to step under the doorway. Jungkook would get up to greet him, but he’s not wearing any pants. 

 

“Bora said to make sure you’re not naked before I come in. What’s naked?”

 

Bora is the woman Jungkook’s mother warned him about. They would have been great friends in high school.  

 

“Naked means you’re not wearing any clothes.”

 

“Are you?”

 

“Jimin, you can see me.”

 

Jimin pushes the door open all the way to make sure, then sits on the bed next to Jungkook’s legs. He is wearing the same white sweater and leggings that he has refused to change, and he has a deck of what appear to be tarot card cards tied together by a velvet string. Looking closer, they are just regular playing cards designed to look like a fortune telling deck. 

 

“Bora had to go to a school, so she said you would teach me how to play human cards,” Jimin says, dropping the deck on Jungkook’s lap. 

 

“Is there a specific game you wanted to learn?” Jungkook picks up the deck, running his hand over the edges and lightly shuffling the through the corners.  

 

Jimin shakes his head. “I don’t know any. Our cards look different than human cards.”

 

“Okay,” Jungkook says, handing the deck back to Jimin. “Let me get dressed and I’ll teach you Go Fish.”

 

Jimin doesn’t move, only stares at Jungkook. 

 

“I can’t get dressed until you leave.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because humans are stingy.”

 

“What’s—oh, are you naked under there?” 

 

Jimin lifts the edge of the covers. Jungkook catches Jimin’s hand before he pulls it away. Jimin looks back up at him, eyes wide. 

 

“I’ll meet you downstairs in a minute, okay?”

 

“Bora said—”

 

“Bora says a lot of things. Please close the door on your way out.”

 

Jimin hesitates, looking at Jungkook suspiciously before he leaves him, pulling the door behind him but not far enough to click into place.

 

Jimin is waiting for Jungkook on the couch with two large Dr. Peppers and two equally gigantic stacks of pancakes on the coffee table. 

 

“Did you make these?” Jungkook asks, falling onto the couch next to Jimin.

 

Jimin finishes a massive bite of pancake before he talks. Pixies learn manners quicker than most humans he has met.

 

“Siyeon made them.” Jimin slides a plate to Jungkook’s side of the table. “They’re called pancakes. They have syrup inside. Syrup is like tree sap.” 

 

“I didn’t know that,” Jungkook lies. He picks up one of the bottles and falls onto the couch. “Dr. Pepper for breakfast? With pancakes?”

 

Jimin stops chewing and stares wide-eyed at the bottle in Jungkook’s hand.

 

“It’s not a real doctor,” Jungkook says quickly. “These have nothing to do with actual doctors. It’s just a brand name.”

 

Jimin nods like he understands, but he still looks confused. He can’t ask a question through the impressively giant bite of pancake he took.

 

Jungkook loves to see him eating well and enjoying the food. He can’t imagine what it would be like to have a human body and not be able to eat a single bite for a whole decade. Jimin drinks half of his soda before setting down the bottle and replacing the cap. 

 

“Slow down, or you’re gonna have to pee like a motherfucker,” Jungkook says, tilting the bottle away from Jimin. 

 

“What’s a motherfucker?”

 

Oh, no. No one is supposed to be this adorable when they swear. Jungkook loses a little more of his mind with every word Jimin says.

 

“In this context, it means you’ll have to pee a lot.” 

 

“Okay. What’s pee?”

 

Not the conversation he wanted to have over breakfast. 

 

“It’s, uh,” Jungkook looks at the floor, “that stuff that you do in the bathroom, you know? Like, when you drink liquid, and it goes through you and your body has to release it.”

 

“Is it like dust?”

 

“What? No, how do you not…?” Jungkook looks Jimin over. 

 

He hasn’t heard Jimin open the bathroom door between their rooms once. His hair is still soft and fluffy, lacking any amount of grease, and he shows no stubble, nothing to indicate a fully functioning human body.  

 

He has to have… There’s no way he…right?

 

“Jimin, have you used a bathroom before?”

 

Jimin shakes his head, taking another bite of his quickly disappearing stack of pancakes. 

 

“Holy shit. Where does it go?” He sits up, leans forward into Jimin’s space. “What happens to the food? Are you messing with me?”

 

“I told you I can’t lie.”

 

“Incredible,” Jungkook breathes, falling back against the couch. “I wish I was half pixie.”

 

“You can’t be. You don’t even have dust.”

 

“Yeah, well, you don’t even pee, but here you are, half human.”

 

Jimin shrugs, finishing off his soda and the last pancake before Jungkook has even touched his plate. “The man with fake eyes said I’m not human or pixie,” he says.

 

Jungkook freezes, his hand over the first pancake on the stack. “Are you okay?” he asks.

 

“Yes. Why? You’re worried.”

 

“You mentioned him. You’re not going into panic mode?”

 

“I’m not going anywhere.” Jimin is calm and collected, like he didn’t have a panic attack over the same subject yesterday. “He said I’m something in between human and pixie, but I’m not one or the other exclusively.”

 

“Thinking about him doesn’t make you anxious at all?”

 

“It’s making you anxious.”

 

“Ah, stop listening,” Jungkook says, clenching a hand over his heart as if he can block out the sound. “That’s so invasive.”

 

“You can see my dust. I can hear your heart. Neither of us like that,” Jimin says. “If you can see what emotions I’m feeling, and can hear yours, aren’t we both being invasive?”

 

“It’s different,” Jungkook insists. “I have no choice when I see your dust.”

 

“You could close your eyes.”

 

“You could cover your ears.”

 

“It’s different,” Jimin mimics Jungkook’s tone. “That wouldn’t stop your emotions from reaching me. But, if you closed your eyes, you would stop seeing me completely. I’m the one without a choice.”

 

He’s right, but Jungkook won’t give him the last word.

 

“You’re talkative today,” he says as he unties the deck of cards and shuffles them in his lap.

 

Jimin gasps when Jungkook does the bridge trick.

 

“You can do card tricks?” he asks.

 

“Not many,” Jungkook says, dealing two piles of cards between them. “Can you?”

 

Jimin shakes his head. “I’m not a magician. I bet Siyeon can do a lot of card tricks.”

 

“She can, I’ve seen it. Those are yours.” Jungkook taps on Jimin’s pile.

 

Jimin picks them up, observing how Jungkook fans them out in his hand and does the same with his.

 

Each card displays a different tarot-like designed character holding the numbers different colors and poses. Jungkook recognizes the Queen card, featuring a woman who looks scarily similar to the owner of the deck. The ten depicts an orange haired pixie, an uncanny copy of the one in front of him.  Jungkook holds the card right below Jimin in his vision. A perfect match.

 

Curious who else he might find, Jungkook sifts through his pile slowly. Simultaneously he dreads and hopes to find himself.

 

Most of the cards picture bugs—butterflies, a mantis, and other insect-like creatures with eerily human facial features. The King is a faceless outline of a human figure with a hollow center like it stepped out of the picture and walked away.

 

On the Jack, the man who stood behind Siyeon in his dream, wearing the same royal blue robes covered in golden stars like he stole them from the sky, stares at Jungkook from the surface, giving the appearance of a three-dimensional figure. Jungkook flips the card over and checks the edge to make sure it is only a playing card.

 

“Where did you say you got these?” he asks.

 

“Bora gave them to me this morning before she left. Did you know she’s a scholar too?”

 

Jungkook makes mental note to ask Siyeon what the requirements for a scholar are. If it’s something she is putting into Jimin’s mind to help compartmentalize them from humans like cops and doctors, or just to mess with Jungkook.

 

“I didn’t know that,” Jungkook says, distracted by the Jack card’s gaze. “Do you recognize him?” he asks, showing Jimin the front.

 

Jimin takes a minute to answer, eyes locked and narrowed on the man. Jungkook holds his breath, scared of the answer. Whether he does or doesn’t recognize him, both outcomes frighten him equally.

 

“I’ve seen him before,” he says finally.

 

“Wait, really?”

 

“Yes,” Jimin says, flipping the Jack in his own hand. “I have one too.”

 

Jungkook exhales and sinks deeper into the couch, unsure if he should feel at peace or on edge.

 

“But you’ve never seen him in person?”

 

Jimin squints, holding the card so close to his face his eyes cross. 

 

“I’ve never seen a human who looks like that,” he says. 

 

“What about this one?” Jungkook holds up the ten.

 

“I don’t have that one.”

 

“He doesn’t look familiar to you?”

 

“How would I know him? I’ve never seen this deck before. Do you know him?” 

 

“Maybe,” Jungkook sighs. “Here, give me your hand.”

 

Instead of passing him the cards, Jimin eagerly places his hand on top of Jungkook’s like it’s natural. Like he isn’t repulsed by a human’s touch. Jungkook stares until his arm starts to hurt, suspended for too long.

 

“Are you going to read my fortune?” Jimin asks.

 

Jungkook laughs and squeezes Jimin’s hand and says, “I meant the cards. I have to reshuffle them because we saw each other’s hands.”  

 

“Oh.” Jimin lingers, then slides his fingers from Jungkook’s grasp and tosses his pile of cards in its place. “Humans can’t read fortunes anyways.”  

 

 


 

 

The library on the campus Bora attends is larger than the one Jungkook is used to visiting in the capital where he is enrolled—where he has a week’s worth of homework and lectures to catch up on. The library is an endless labyrinth of shelves and numbers in an organization system Jungkook never fully understood. The outer walls are made completely of stained glass, highlighting the pages in every color, shifting as the sun lowers over the sea. 

 

“Siyeon and I talked last night,” Bora says, sliding into the seat next to Jungkook with another stack of language and philosophy books to add to their pile.

 

They have two tote bags full of books already, ranging from picture books to textbooks to cookbooks to manga. If Jimin is, essentially, going to be under house arrest for the coming few weeks, and Jungkook is on his sabbatical from classes, Jungkook wants to make sure Jimin learns and experiences as much as he can about humans before he leaves, including fine literature classics like Pride and Prejudice and Fullmetal Alchemist

 

“You don’t have to go home after Jimin leaves,” she continues. “You could transfer here if you like it.”

 

Jungkook looks up from the psychology textbook he’s been flipping through.

 

“Sorry, but, no thanks,” he says, closing it and sliding it in with the others. “Not that the guest room is uncomfortable, but, I’d miss Yoongi and Hoseok and my job at the Magic Shoppe. And I’d feel too awkward intruding like that.”

 

“You don’t have to stay in that guest bedroom.”

 

Jungkook freezes, still holding the bag open, one hand on the pile of books. He can’t have heard her right. She isn’t offering what Jungkook thinks she’s offering.

 

“What do you mean?” he asks slowly.

 

Bora rolls her eyes. “Don’t be weird about it. I’m talking about being neighbors.”

 

Ohthankgod,” Jungkook breathes.

 

“Men only think of one thing, don’t they?” Bora tuts and shakes her head.

 

“To be fair, the way you asked—”

 

“Anyways,” she interrupts before Jungkook can defend himself, “did Siyeon tell you how she acquired this property?”

 

“I haven’t really had a chance to talk with her. She’s always in the basement working on—” Jungkook looks around, lowers his voice, and leans in, “building that thing.”

 

“Ah, yeah, she’s great at building things, isn’t she? She built the entire house. By hand, not even with magic, after she,” Bora meets him halfway across the table, “convinced the landlord to relinquish all his properties to his tenants and hand over the deed to the land.”

 

Jungkook can believe the magical part about how Siyeon convinced a human of the evil landlord breed to release his contracts, but building a house that big and beautiful by hand is where he’s lost.  

 

“Where did she get the money for the materials?”

 

“Pixies don’t contract for money.”

 

“She made a contract with a—” Jungkook swerves again, making sure no one can hear them, then whispers, “She made a contract with a pixie? Was it Jimin?”

 

“He’s not the only pixie in the universe.”

 

“Okay, sure, but how did she do all that without magic? Not even a little?”

 

“Have you seen her collection of flannels?”

 

“Ah, okay. That makes sense.” Jungkook nods, finally understanding. Lesbians are incredibly capable with power tools. 

 

“It would take some time, so you would have to room in the guest bedroom for a while longer, but she did offer to add another to the property.”

 

“She offered to build a whole house for me,” Jungkook says, folding his arms. “Right, sure.”

 

“Your limits when it comes to what you will and won’t believe are astounding.”

 

“I’m still learning, okay? Not all of us have travelled inter-realm with our warlock girlfriend.”

 

He doesn’t mean for it to come out so harsh. Siyeon disappeared without goodbye after their senior year instead of taking Jungkook on magical adventures with her. He has a right to be a little salty.

 

Bora reaches across the table and covers Jungkook’s hand with hers, waiting for his full attention.

 

“She misses you, seriously. Even though she would never say that to your face. And she feels awful about leaving so abruptly, and if there was another way we—” She pauses, then retreats into her chair and twirls the end of her hair, looking down at the table. “I don’t fully understand it all, either,” she admits. “I’m sure she’ll fill us in once we’ve sent Jimin back home safely. And then, after that, we can all travel the realms together and find you a cute vampire or a kraken or a werewolf who can take you on a honeymoon to Jupiter, or something.”

 

As tempting as the fantasies of a hot werewolf boyfriend sounds, this situation is not something Jungkook feels equipped to handle. Though, realistically, Jungkook would miss this life too much if he returned to his apartment. There is no magic at the Magic Shoppe. Back home he’d be surrounded by the shabby red walls and crippling student debt he expected to drown in until he died.

 

Realistically, pixies and warlocks don’t exist. Realistically is no longer relevant.

 

“You don’t have to decide yet.”

 

There is no reason for Jungkook to say no. 

 

“I’ll consider it. Thank you.”

 

“Spoiler warning,” Bora whispers, leaning close again, “Siyeon saw the future and already laid out the blueprints.”

 

“What about my free will? What if I said no right now?”

 

Bora shrugs. “Siyeon has never been wrong.” She pats the stack of books they accumulated and says, “Let’s go before Jimin dies of boredom.”

 

The horrifying accuracy of that statement makes them both tense.

 

“Wait, no, I mean, he’s not going to die,” she says quickly. “I hope you don’t mind more spoilers. Siyeon said he makes it back home safely, and he lives a long and happy life as the pixie he once was.”

 

“I thought he couldn’t feel happiness.”

 

“Well, I think the word she used was fulfilling, which is as good as we can hope for.”

 

A fulfilling life for Jimin really is the best they can hope for, even if it means Jungkook will never see him again. Never seeing Jimin again is the best possible outcome.

 

“Anyways, are you ready to go?” she asks.

 

“Yes, please.”

 

Jungkook grabs his jacket off the back of his chair and Bora slides the books into the last tote, filling a total of four whole bags of books for Jimin. 

 

They pass students at computers, printers, and the help desk, none of them saying a word to each other. The library is quieter than the one Jungkook is used to, always filled with a hustling city school life, not as lax and close knit as the coast. 

 

Jungkook sets down his half of the totes while they wait in line to check out. Past the staircase leading down to the electronic rental department, an open laptop screen displaying a familiar mythical creature catches his eye.

 

His hands clench around the tote straps. It’s the advertisement for Avalon’s Hall on a different news site. The two students in varsity hoodies reading the article whisper just loud enough for Jungkook to hear them across the room. Jocks are bad at inside voices.

 

“Do you think they’ll use a puppet?” one asks. 

 

Jungkook already doesn’t trust jocks, and he doesn’t like how they stare at Jimin’s tiny body on the screen. In the picture, Jimin isn’t exactly wearing clothes. He’s covered a skinsuit of rosy dust that clings around his torso in patches and ends halfway down his arms and legs. 

 

“It’s probably a hologram. How do they expect people to just believe that?”

 

“I won’t believe it until I see it. Do you think they’ll let us touch it?”

 

It. Those motherfuckers won’t be touching him even over Jungkook’s dead body. 

 

“I doubt it,” the other says, “I bet this is just some model in a costume. Look,” they point to Jimin’s face, “you can see the contour on it’s chin, that’s clearly makeup. No one’s face is that angled.”

 

“It’s kinda hot,” the first one laughs, “They did a great job making it look real.” 

 

Again with the it. Jungkook wonders if he hadn’t met Jimin, if he would be thinking the same. If he would see the article and view the image as an it or a puppet or a model or a hyper-realistic drawing. He tries not to judge.

 

“Right? Now I want to know who this model is.”

 

One of them zooms in closer on Jimin’s face, enhancing his features to fill the whole screen. “Do you think those are injections?”

 

“Yeah, totally. That has to be DSL surgery. There’s no way that’s natural.”

 

“I’d smash.”

 

“Stop being horny so loud, oh my god,” they say, smacking their friend on the back of the head. 

 

“You’re the one who said you brought up her dick sucking lips.”

 

Shh! We’re in a fucking library!”

 

Unsure of what his plan is, Jungkook drops the bags to storm over. Maybe he’ll slam the laptop closed and tell them it’s all fake. Maybe he’ll tell them that they’re close minded to think that what exists in their world is all there is and that Jimin is not an it.

 

He doesn’t get to, as Bora’s hand is already on his wrist. Her grip is tight, her body shaking, and Jungkook doesn’t need to see a cloud of red dust to see her anger. He can feel it through her pulse. 

 

“Not worth it,” she mutters. 

 

“They’re objectifying him like he’s a fucking toy,” Jungkook seethes. 

 

“They think that’s all he is. A puppet.”

 

“If they knew—”

 

“If they knew, it would be over for Jimin. We don’t know where they’re looking or who they’re watching for,” Bora says, dropping Jungkook’s wrist when he untenses. “We don’t know if they saw you with him.”

 

“Shit! I forgot about the possibility of a tracker—”

 

“Siyeon said that’s a negative. The fuckers thought they were too good to consider one.”

 

“You two ready to check out?” the student librarian beckons, pulling them back into the dull, predictable, human world.

 

Jungkook hauls the bags onto the counter and Bora hands them her student ID. He doesn’t take his eyes off the students, watching as they point at different parts of the picture and laugh and argue over Jimin’s gender. 

 

“Bitches,” Jungkook mutters as they leave the library. 

 

“I know,” Bora says. 

 

“Misogynists.”

 

“I know.”

 

“I’ll kick their asses.”

 

“Later. The bus will be here in a minute.”

 

Jungkook plops down next to Bora at the bus stop. It’s warm as the last bits of sun fall behind the trees, the sea breeze reaching the street from the opposite end of the campus. 

 

“Do you still have your return ticket on you?”

 

“Yeah,” Jungkook says, reaching into his empty coat pocket. “Oh, shit,” he gasps. “It must have fallen when I took it off.”

 

“Better run, the bus is coming.” Bora points down the road behind a line of trees where the bus is stopped at the other end of the campus. “Go. Fetch. I’m out of cash and I don’t want to walk all the way back,” she says, tapping his butt to spur him on.

 

Jungkook sprints back into the building, head swerving as he dodges shelves and jukes around students in his rush. He finds the small pink slip under the table where they packed the books just as another student leans down to pick it up. 

 

“That’s my bus ticket,” Jungkook says, heaving from the sprint. 

 

When the student turns to him, Jungkook’s heart drops as all the blood rush from his face. The student holds the paper out to him but Jungkook is frozen in place. 

 

“Did you...need this?” he asks when Jungkook doesn’t take it. 

 

He has the same face and same voice from Jungkook’s dream. The bag on his shoulder is a dark blue velvet, covered in golden stars that shine like they were stolen straight from the night sky. He has the same golden swirl in his eyes as Jimin’s.

 

“I can throw it away for you if you don’t want it—”

 

“Thanks!” Jungkook snatches the paper and turns to speedwalk out of the building. 

 

He can feel those golden swirls glued to his back as he leaves, even after the door closes behind him, even after he meets Bora at the stop just as the doors to the bus open. He can see the stars on the man’s bag when he closes his eyes, and he can’t shake the sound of his voice from ringing in his ears.

 

The question looms dauntingly over his head. 

 

“Do you know how to kill a pixie?”

 

“Hey,” Bora whispers. “It’s okay. I’m sure if they knew what Jimin’s situation really was, they wouldn’t have said those awful things. There’s not much we can do.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t tell her about the man or about his dream. He will ask Siyeon when they get back to her house, but he doesn’t trust that the man isn’t listening to him even as they drive at forty-five kilometers per hour away from the library. 

 

Bora yawns and rests her head on his shoulder until they reach their stop. Jungkook hasn’t been physically close to another human in a long time. There was his last arrest, but having his face pressed into the cold edge of a cop car for a bit of light vandalism wasn’t voluntary human contact, and they weren’t even able to hold him long enough to find his ID, so it doesn’t count.

 

Jungkook smiles at the memory—the exhilaration of running from a cop. The image of Jimin combusting the patroller in the middle of the street the night they met has him laughing to himself.

 

When Jimin stopped the car before the combustion and had waited until both officers exited to set the fucker on fire, Jungkook already knew that Jimin wasn’t the evil convict that they made him out to be the next morning. There was no moral or human obligation for him not to kill them in the car, but he didn’t kill them. Jimin is a lot more human than he thinks. 

 

 


 

 

Jimin feels one of his favorite human emotions, excitement, when he hears Jungkook and Bora approach the house. It is difficult, though he manages to hold back his dust. He lost enough yesterday while his panic attacked him. His dust reservoir has barely grown since then.

 

Jimin turns down the volume on the documentary he wasn’t following at all. Instead of animals, this documentary is about humans themselves, and the human hierarchies in work on their public spaces. Instead of a narration, the humans talk to the screen. The depiction of doctors in the documentary are vastly different from normal doctors.

 

Bora sounds content when her heart is within range, but something buzzes in Jungkook’s that has him shaken. 

 

“Study party!” Bora sings as the door swings open and hits the wall.

 

Jungkook is clearly upset about something. Bora doesn’t appear to notice. 

 

“We brought a lot of genres, so don’t feel like you have to read them all. Just find the ones you like,” she says as she sets two bags of human literature in front of Jimin, blocking the TV as she unloads them onto the table. 

 

Jungkook walks into the kitchen and disappears behind the cabinets. He didn’t look at Jimin. Avoiding eye contact is a tactic humans use when they are trying to hide their intentions. Jimin would press, but Jungkook doesn’t like it when Jimin makes him talk about his negative emotions. 

 

“This one,” Bora says, holding out one of the books to Jimin, “has pictures in it. Do you have comics at home?”

 

Jimin takes the book, flipping through it to find more pictures than words, each drawn in the same animated style as the movie about the unicorn.

 

“Oh, wait.” Bora takes the book from Jimin. “Ah, this one is in Japanese. Wait, can you read Japanese?”

 

She opens the book to Jimin, revealing a page with several monochrome pictures. White spaces circle above one of the human-like drawing’s head. Not only do humans know of the existence of unicorns, and to some extent, pixies, but they appear to know about the practice of alchemy as well.

 

“Shit, I should have checked first. Maybe you can learn to read Japanese before you leave!”

 

“I can read it,” Jimin says, taking the book from Bora and rereading the glyphs in the bubble to make sure he read it right the first time. “Since when do humans practice alchemy?”

 

“You can read Japanese too? How many languages do you know?”

 

“There’s more than one?”

 

Bora’s jaw drops, then she pulls out another pile of books and tosses them aside one by one until she finds the one she is looking for. 

 

“What does this say?” she asks, holding it up so close to Jimin’s face he has to lean back to be able to read all the text. 

 

Jimin squints, having a hard time recognizing the glyphs with the added embellishments of swirly golden lettering and a purple cat-like figure hanging between them. 

 

A-lice in Won-der-land,” he sounds out. 

 

“Do all these letters look the same to you? Even these?” Bora shoves the first book back in his face. Her heart is pounding with something like anticipation. 

 

“They’re the same language.”

 

“Incredible.” Bora turns back to the kitchen. “Jungkook! Did you know Jimin can read in every language?”

 

Jungkook reappears with his arms full of bags of chips and the beverage ramune. His heart has calmed, but there is still something he wants to say. 

 

“Like, they all look the same to him.” Bora continues. “French, Japanese, all of it.”

 

“That’s cool.” Jungkook sets the drinks and snacks on the table in the minimal space left around the books. “Wait, what are you watching?”

 

Jimin tuned out the voices from the screen. He forgot they were there at all since Jungkook and Bora returned.

 

“This is a about human hierarchies and other kinds of doctors—”

 

“No, it was a rhetorical question,” Jungkook laughs. “I know what this is. It isn’t a real documentary, it’s fiction. This is comedy.”

 

“What’s comedy?”

 

“Comedy is a genre that makes humans laugh. They tell jokes and stuff, but none of it is real.”

 

Jimin didn’t laugh at all. He was enjoying learning about human politics and interactions outside of his own experiences.

 

“You can turn it off if it makes you upset,” Jimin says.

 

“What? No. Do I look upset to you?” Jungkook points to a fake smile on his face. Jimin is about to tell Jungkook that he is upset about something else when Bora speaks first. 

 

“Are you still mad about those assholes in the library? I can ask Siyeon to find where they live. Or just reported them to an advisor.”

 

“Report them? For what? Yelling in the library? It’s fine,” Jungkook lies. 

 

He sits next to Jimin and opens a bag of chips, pulling his legs up on the couch in front of him to close himself off and stare at his phone. 

 

“What happened in the library?” Jimin asks. 

 

“Some asshole students said some nasty things that made Jungkook upset and I held him back from wrecking their shit.”

 

“I wouldn’t have wrecked their shit,” Jungkook lies again. “I would have destroyed their laptop and kicked them in the ribs, but their shit would remain completely intact.”

 

Bora snorts and relaxes back against the coffee table. She takes a ramune and pops it open easily, satisfied with Jungkook’s response, even though he is obviously lying. It’s not only in his heart, but Jimin can hear the uncertainty in his voice, the way he hesitated, the way his tone moved up and down in a rhythm different from his usual speaking pattern. 

 

Jimin picks out a book from the pile that doesn’t have many pictures inside. The pictues it does have are small, and each one corresponds with a block of glyphs adjacent to it. The Dark Side of the Universe teaches Jimin of the observations humans have made about the space outside of the realm in which they live. Most of their findings are similar to Jimin’s own sky, yet the way the stars are arranged and the types of masses vary.

 

 

After two ramunes and a full bag of chips, Jimin has finished the entire book feeling like he did not learn anything about humans. Most of it was information he knew already or could have figured out by looking up at the sky himself. 

 

Jungkook is still on his phone an hour later and Bora has fallen asleep with her face in one of the books she said was for her class. Even after an hour, she is still on the same page. The only difference is one highlighted sentence and a growing dark spot next to where her mouth rests on the pages. Humans are slow readers. 

 

“Jungkook?”

 

“Hm?” Jungkook doesn’t look up from his phone. Most of his face is hidden behind his knees, only his eyes sticking out above. 

 

Jimin really doesn’t want to point out to Jungkook that he is upset. Maybe he already knows. Maybe he has already moved on and is upset about something different. Or maybe Jimin should ask. 

 

Jungkook said that, sometimes, it helps to talk about his feelings and other times it feels better to let them stay in his head. Jimin wishes there was a way to know which would be best for Jungkook, wishes he could ask if he wanted to talk about his emotions. 

 

He has never tried asking before. 

 

“Do you want to talk about what’s really making you upset?”

 

Jungkook drops his legs to the side. 

 

“You could tell?”

 

“I can always tell.”

 

“You didn’t say anything.”

 

“I didn’t know if you wanted me to.” Jimin looks back down at the book in his lap, hoping Jungkook will continue the conversation. If he doesn’t, Jimin will leave it. 

 

It takes a minute, but Jungkook finally drops his phone and sits up straight, facing Jimin. He presses Bora’s shoulder to make sure she is still asleep.

 

“I met a student today at the library who I think might be magical—I mean, have magic. Is a magic—I don’t know. He wasn’t human.”

 

Jimin wants to smile because Jungkook is talking about it to him, but he doesn’t because Jungkook is upset, and smiles indicate joy, and he doesn’t want Jungkook to think he is happy about what made him upset. Humans must make these kinds of decisions constantly and it’s tiring and confusing. Sometimes they should hide their emotions, sometimes they need to show them. It’s impossible to know. 

 

“How could you tell?”

 

Jungkook takes another deep breath and pokes Bora again. She still doesn’t wake up. 

 

“I think I saw this man in my dream.”

 

“Humans see people in their dreams all the time.”

 

“Yeah, but, he was also on those cards we were playing with. Remember when I asked you if you recognized the Jack card?”

 

Jimin nods. He remembers the entire game. He remembers having a clear advantage being able to read Jungkook’s eyes and expressions to predict which cards he had placed where. 

 

“The one with the blue robes? I remember.”

 

“Mhm. And what he said in my dream…” 

 

Fear. A vague feeling of fear. Jimin waits for him to continue. He wants to press. He won’t press. 

 

“Are you sure you didn’t recognize him?”

 

“I told you, I’ve never seen those cards before.” It isn’t a lie.  

 

Jimin will not tell Jungkook anything about Seokjin. It is not for Jimin’s protection, but for Jungkook’s. 

 

Seokjin has no reason to be on Terra. He hates Terra. Jungkook isn’t lying, though. Jungkook really believes he saw Seokjin. 

 

Jimin’s answer relieved some of Jungkook’s fear. 

 

“What did he say in your dream?”

 

Jungkook pokes Bora again, then leans close and lowers his voice. “He asked if I knew how to kill a pixie.”

 

Dread.  

 

The door leading downstairs swings open, making Jimin jump. Siyeon smiles when she sees the three of them together. She showed up just in time. Jimin almost couldn’t hold in the dust he knew he was going to let escape. Jungkook has seen him react in horror before. He knows the color. Jimin can’t let him see it again. 

 

Seokjin isn’t on Terra. Seokjin didn’t appear in Jungkook’s dream. Seokjin already knows the answer to that question. Nothing can kill a pixie. 

 

“How did the study party go?” Siyeon asks, raising an eyebrow as she sees Bora passed out over her books. 

 

“Jimin learned about the stars!” Jungkook says hurriedly, holding up The Dark Side of the Universe.

 

Siyeon takes the book, flipping through the pages before dropping it in Jungkook’s lap. “Half of this book is just theories. Humans think they know too much.”

 

“I agree,” Jimin says. 

 

“What a scam,” Jungkook says. “That textbook costed, like, half my tuition last year.”

 

Siyeon shrugs, squeezing in between Jimin and the arm of the couch to play with Bora’s hair as she sleeps.

 

“None of you have ever been inside a black hole. And you think anti matter and matter are the only matters that exist.”

 

“Holy shit,” Jungkook breathes. “Siyeon you need to teach me everything about space and physics.”

 

“No.”

 

“What? Why not?”

 

“It would break you.”

 

Jungkook’s disappointment is deafening as he slumps back into the couch. 

 

“Humans have to discover it on their own.” She looks up at Jungkook with a smirk. “Or go extinct before ever finding out.”

 

“You took Bora to Mars and you won’t even tell me about the stars,” Jungkook mutters, staring at his phone again with an exaggerated scowl. “What happened to the sanctity of the bro-tract?”

 

“The bro-tract expired. I’ll take you to to Saturn sometime.”

 

“Yes! Please!” Jungkook shoots up again and drops his phone. “Can you take me to Andromeda? Or a black hole? I want to see a supernova—”

 

“No. Absolutely not. It’s not safe out there. Anywhere within this galaxy, sure, maybe. Well, not Jupiter.”

 

“Why not Jupiter?”

 

“You know how the saying goes, ‘Girls go to college to get more knowledge; boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider,’ right?”

 

Jungkook laughs only for a second before seeing Siyeon’s completely serious expression. Jimin can tell she is trying hard to hold back a smile, like she said something funny and doesn’t want Jungkook to know. Like she doesn’t mind seeing the horror on his face, like she thinks it’s funny. 

 

Sarcasm again. Jimin imagines what it would feel like to miss the ability to understand sarcasm when he has to go home.

 

When he gets to go home. 

 

“What’s on Jupiter?” Jungkook asks slowly. 

 

Siyeon’s expression breaks and she smiles, shaking her head. “I’ll tell you when you’re older.”

 

As far as Jimin knows, there is nothing on Jupiter that could impede a human’s knowledge.

 

“Jupiter will be visible from Terra later tonight. Jungkook, why don’t you show Jimin how to find Jupiter?”

 

Jimin has already seen Jupiter. 

 

“Don’t you already know where it is?” Jungkook asks.

 

Siyeon gives Jimin a look only he understands. 

 

“I want you to show me Jupiter,” Jimin says.

 

Jungkook’s excitement spreads from his heart to his face to a wide smile that quickly fades. 

 

“Won’t someone recognize him? He’s kind of been all over the news for the last week.”

 

“I’m strong enough to fight a human. I could snap you in half.”

 

Jungkook curls into himself. Jimin won’t snap Jungkook in half, but he doesn’t need to know that. Reminding Jungkook of his inferiority makes Jimin feel powerful.

 

“There is no one on the pier right now, but, just in case, let me grab you two some masks.” Siyeon drops the braid she was playing with in Bora’s hair and lifts her up from the floor and presses her lips to Bora’s temple disappearing upstairs. 

 

Bora’s heart speeds up. She’s awake, and the physical action made her really happy. It rings with the same tune Jimin heard when Siyeon and Bora did a kiss before. It was a different place and at a different angle this time, but she reacted the same. Something mixed with comfort and longing and happiness and a cluster of emotions new to Jimin. 

 

Jungkook’s nervousness drowns out Bora’s elation. No matter how strong Bora’s feelings are, Jungkook is always louder. 

 

 


 

 

Jungkook is too embarrassed to admit he has no idea where to look for Jupiter, however, he has already committed. He needs to find it before Jimin even if that means he has to cheat using the internet. 

 

Even though the sun has fully set behind the cliffs scattered across the bay, a pale blue light forms a gradient into the black sky above where there are a hundred times more stars than Jungkook can see from his apartment, which makes it all the more difficult to spot one specific planet among them. 

 

The last time Jungkook visited the ocean he was too young to remember the smells and sounds of seagulls and beached seals. Along the coast, a train track outlines a steep rocky cliff that drops fifty meters to the sea. The tide is low enough to smell seaweed from the dock. A sliver of sandy beach edges the base of the cliff. 

 

The road breaks off in two directions when they near the cliff, one leading down to the docks lined with boats and buoys, while the other runs past a pier of empty booths and stands, and up a nearby hill to the lighthouse. 

 

All is quiet but the creaking of the boats, calm waves lapping the rocky cliff, and his and Jimin’s own footsteps over the gravely line separating the pier from the road. 

 

Jungkook tries to ignore the constant paranoia of someone recognizing Jimin even through the dim lights of streetlamps and the occasional spotlight passing over them from the lighthouse’s tower. He tries not to feel anything around Jimin that would alarm him.

 

Jungkook spots a line of benches along the edge of the pier where they can rest while he looks up how to locate Jupiter. He tugs on Jimin’s sleeve to change direction. Jimin follows wordlessly. Without the constant stream of cars and nightlife and frat party music, Jungkook is going to miss the serenity when he has to go back home. 

 

When he gets to go back home. 

 

“What are you looking at?” Jimin asks as they sit on one of the benches, leaning over Jungkook’s lap to peek at his screen.

 

Jungkook tilts his screen away.

 

“Do pixies ever get tired?” he to distract Jimin from his phone. 

 

“Not physically. I never had to sleep until entering Terra.”

 

“Do you like to sleep?”

 

“I like choosing when to go to sleep and when to stay awake. In the operating room I—” Jimin’s breath hitches and he curls into himself on the bench. “I don’t mind it,” he says. 

 

When the lighthouse tower’s light shines over their heads, Jungkook can see a small cloud of dust fall to the bench and the ground. The dust is too dark to tell what color. 

 

Jungkook kicks what dust he can into the cracks in the dock and brushes the rest off the side into the water.

 

“Do you hate looking at my dust?” Jimin asks.

 

“No, not at all!”

 

Jimin eyes the dust falling into the ocean, then back up to Jungkook.

 

“Most humans will probably think it’s just glitter, but I don’t want to risk it, you know?” Jungkook explains. “I think your dust is pretty.”

 

“Oh,” Jimin whispers. “Okay.”  

 

Following the guide he found online, Jungkook tries to match the stars with the sky above. None of it makes sense. He can’t translate the constellation map on his phone to the real world no matter how hard he tries. He is about to give up, admit to Jimin he has no idea where to find Jupiter and that he is sorry for taking him all the way out here to waste his time, but Jimin interrupts him before he even starts. 

 

“What do humans feel when they do a kiss?”

 

The way he asks is so endearing that Jungkook never wants to hear the grammatically correct way to talk about kissing again.

 

“It depends on the circumstance, I guess, but it’s usually something good.”

 

“Something in the happy category?”

 

Not this again. 

 

Jungkook swallows hard, closing his phone and shoving it in his pocket. He leans back against the guard rails to get his heart far from Jimin’s ears. 

 

“Bora and Siyeon feel happy when they k—when they do a kiss,” he says. “They like each other a lot. And depending on how much you like a person, it can be a happy thing, or an excited thing, or a...another thing.”

 

Jungkook can hear his own heartbeat by now. Jimin knows he’s embarrassed again and Jungkook hopes he’ll drop it. 

 

“What other thing?”

 

“Just stuff.”

 

“Oh!” Jimin gasps. “It’s something humans do during reproduction, right?” Jimin asks. “Seokjin told me about it, but he didn’t explain much.”

 

Jungkook avoids Jimin’s eyes, his heart pounding as he nods. 

 

“If you know, why do you keep asking?”

 

“And that’s why you’re embarrassed when I ask,” he continues. “Because humans don’t like to talk about that stuff.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“But Siyeon kisses Bora when you and I are around, and they aren’t embarrassed.”

 

“That’s because that kind of kiss isn’t embarrassing.”

 

“If it’s not embarrassing then why are you embarrassed when I ask?” 

 

Jimin tries to enter Jungkook’s line of vision but Jungkook turns to look at the water. He laughs behind his mask and sighs, accepting that this is a conversation he can’t avoid any longer. Jimin is too curious, and he just wants to learn. And Jungkook needs to stop letting his ego get in the way of Jimin learning as much as he wants about humans before he gets to go home. 

 

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Jungkook says. “It’s not like talking about it with you is the same as talking about it with another human.”

 

“Another?”

 

“With humans,” Jungkook corrects himself. “When Bora and Siyeon kiss it’s sweet and they do it because they like each other. I’m not bothered by it because I think it’s nice to see Siyeon this happy with someone. She wasn’t out yet in high school but I’m glad she’s finally found someone to love that loves her back.”

 

Siyeon was the fourth person Jungkook came out to on purpose, and he only did because she did. She was the second person he didn’t regret sharing his sexuality with. 

 

“Out of where?”

 

Another heavy hitting conversation subject. Jungkook takes a deep breath. They have the time They have the privacy. The stars won’t tell on them. 

 

Jungkook struggles to find a balance between it’s not that big of a deal, some people are just gay and this is a real issue humans deal with and something not everyone is willing to talk about. 

 

“Honestly, this is a topic that even a lot of humans don’t fully understand, so, don’t be ashamed if you don’t get it all right away, okay?” Jungkook is going to explain this to Jimin the way he wishes someone would have explained it to him. 

 

“Did you already forget I studied humans for longer than you’ve been alive?”

 

“Are you serious?” It’s rhetorical. Jimin doesn’t know the meaning of the word. 

 

“I am serious. I know more about you than you do.”

 

“I doubt that,” Jungkook laughs.

 

“You’re feeling something in the sad category, or something like shame.”

 

“Yeah, I know—”

 

“You’re a scholar and you want to teach other humans because it makes you happy, or in this case, you want to correct my inaccurate knowledge of your species. You wanted to help me recover because you think if you help me you can amend your past mistakes. You’re making eye contact with me and you sat up straight, which means you’re willing to talk about it. Your heart evened in its beating and you sound determined, which means his is something that’s important to you. You’re—”

 

“Okay, okay,” Jungkook presses a finger to Jimin’s mask, cutting him off. “You know me. I get it. You can read my mind. I know. Stop it. That’s creepy.”

 

When Jimin laughs, Jungkook can’t see his eyes, disappearing in his smile. He knows what he’s doing and how uncomfortable it makes Jungkook, and he revels in it. How extremely human of him.

 

“Keep teaching me,” Jimin says like Jungkook had prepared him a lecture, powerpoint included. “I won’t interrupt anymore. Where did she come out from?”

 

Jimin is too cute to say no to.

 

“When two humans with the same identity like each other in a specific way, some other humans don’t like that, for whatever reason. Even if it doesn’t affect them. The don’t like to think that there are more than two body types and two genders that really have no correlation to body types.”

 

“All humans, or just doctors and cops?”

 

“Especially cops, and some doctors.”

 

Jimin nods. “Humans are the only known species to have a hierarchy based on physicality. Fairies think that’s embarrassing for you.”

 

“Do you think it’s embarrassing?”

 

“Everything about being a human is embarrassing. There’s too much shame in your realm.”

 

“It’s ridiculous, I know. Anyways, coming out—sometimes people pretend they don’t like the people they like because their friends and family might hate them for it. Being ‘out’ means openly acknowledging that you’re not attracted to just the one binary that society allows you to be.”

 

Even without a prepared speech, it is easy to talk about being in the closet, almost as if he spent fifteen years in it. 

 

“Will they be punished if people know?”

 

“In a lot of places, yeah. But Siyeon felt it was safe to tell me she liked other women as a woman. So I told her I also like women, but more often men and people who fall outside binaries. And as adults, the risks are different. As children…”

 

As children humans might end up being kicked out or having to run away and find solitude in a warehouse of other runaway teens with similar issues and be adopted into a makeshift frat until they can escape and find a job as a waiter working for the two people who saved them from the streets. 

 

“Some people just like who they like. That’s all. It’s not any deeper than that.”

 

Jungkook wants to continue to rant. He wants to pour out all the anger he has on the subject and pent up feelings but at the same time doesn’t want to burden Jimin with the knowledge that humans can be so ignorant even with the best intentions and further stain his image of humanity. That’s the opposite of what he’s supposed to be teaching him. 

 

Jungkook pushes the newly unlocked memories of his past back to where they came from and looks up at the sky, hoping his eyes will land perfectly on Jupiter so they can go back to Siyeon’s house and fall asleep. 

 

While searching, Jungkook feels Jimin’s cold hand cover his. He flinches at the sudden icy touch and Jimin pulls away. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, one gesture. Suddenly Jungkook feels like the shittiest person in the world. 

 

“Your hands are freezing,” Jungkook says as an excuse to pull Jimin’s hand back into his and show him it’s okay. 

 

The contact wouldn’t be a big deal if it were anyone else. Human touch is normal and instinctual. From Jimin, however, someone he met just days before who has certainly plotted to murder him with magic several times, feeling his reach out makes Jungkook feel like something he said or did was right. He tries not to freak out. On the inside, his stomach does flips.

 

“Did I do it wrong?”

 

Jimin is too dangerous to be so cute. 

 

“No, it was perfect. It just startled me.”

 

“So, it worked? You feel better?”

 

Jungkook’s heart might explode. 

 

“Yes. Thank you. I feel a lot better.’

 

“I can tell. Your heart is doing that thing.” Jimin’s eyes drop to Jungkook’s chest as if he is trying to stare through Jungkook’s jacket. “I don’t know what it’s called. It’s a lot of things, actually.”

 

“Good things?”

 

“Mostly good.”

 

Mostly. Jungkook thinks he feels pretty good in the moment. He can’t think of anything that would sound through his heart that would read otherwise. It might be the cold. 

 

“What else can you hear?” Jungkook asks. He didn’t realize how loud he had been talking before until his voice lowers, and he can hear the waves again and the creaking of the docks and the occasional tolling of bells across the marina. He forgot where they were. 

 

“It’s not just your emotions. I can hear more now,” Jimin says, leaning in to press his head against Jungkook’s chest. 

 

There is no hiding anything now. He is not going to ask Jimin to stop listening when he has nothing to hide. Hopefully has nothing to hide. 

 

“What’s going on in there?”

 

“Shh, I’m listening.”

 

Jungkook subconsciously brings one hand to Jimin’s head to press him closer. Even if it’s only for a little while, he wants to stay like this with Jimin. Even if he only met him a week ago and knows nothing about him. The idea that Jimin can know things about Jungkook without Jungkook having to tell him makes Jungkook feel close to him already.

 

The more Jimin learns about humans the less Jungkook will be able to hide. If he gets good enough, he might be able to literally read his mind one day. 

 

One day.

 

One day will never come considering the strict restraint on the time they have together. 

 

Jungkook is already thinking things like together. 

 

“It stopped,” Jimin says, pulling away. 

 

“My heart? I hope not.”

 

“No, the...thing.”

 

“The thing.”

 

“The harp song. It stopped.”

 

“Oh. Sorry.” Sorry for what, he isn’t sure. 

 

“Bora has it too. Siyeon does sometimes and other times I can’t hear anything from her.”

 

Jungkook hates that he thinks he likes what Jimin is implying. He could be wrong. He hopes he’s wrong. 

 

Don’t be stupid. 

 

“Did it…” Jungkook swallows hard. 

 

Don’t be stupid. 

 

“Sound like…” He removes his mask.

 

Oh fuck I’m stupid.

 

Jungkook hooks his finger over Jimin’s mask and slides it down under his chin. Jimin lets him too easily. He hates that he wants to hate that Jimin doesn’t back away. There is a look in his eyes swirling with gold like he doesn’t know what to expect but he trusts Jungkook anyways, and with that trust, Jungkook does something stupid. 

 

It isn’t his own intentions in control anymore, guided by some greater plan that only Siyeon has the map to. 

 

“This?” he whispers at the last moment before their lips connect. 

 

It could be the lighthouse flashing above them, or it could be his own imagination, his own brain lighting fireworks behind his eyelids. Fireworks, or a warning flare. 

 

Jungkook can’t keep Jimin forever. He can only kiss him for so long before he realizes he hasn’t breathed in a whole minute. 

 

The lighthouse passes overhead and catches on a shimmering cloud of pink so pale it’s almost white, sparkling for a fraction of a second before the light continues its round above the ocean.

 

Jungkook’s hand is on Jimin’s cheek and Jimin’s on his wrist holding it in place. The dust hasn’t stopped pluming, pale purple when the light passes again, as Jungkook stares, unmoving, back at Jimin. The light continues to catch on the dust gleaming around them and highlights Jimin’s upturned eyebrows, the cloud of pink turned a soft blue, colors changing and mixing with every round it makes. 

 

It might be dust caught in his eye, or Jimin might be crying. It might have been something stupid and impulsive or something he wanted. It might be part of the grand plan of things that only Siyeon can see, or Jungkook might have just locked himself onto an emotional path that won’t end when Jimin leaves this realm forever in a matter of weeks. 

 

“Again?” Jimin whispers. “I...wasn’t listening that time.”

 

Jungkook brings both of his hands to Jimin’s face, thumbs brushing away the sheen of dust from his cheek bones. 

 

“Close your eyes,” Jungkook whispers. 

 

Jimin trusts him enough to close them, squeezing them shut so tight his whole face scrunches and Jungkook laughs. 

 

“Not that tight,” he says. “Just relax and let them fall closed.”

 

Jimin listens. Jungkook does something stupid again. He kisses Jimin again, and this time he can feel the dust as it puffs out and lands on everything around them, on his own face, on his hands, in his hair, on his eyelashes. He is too stupid and too smiley to think about what he’s doing. He doesn’t move his lips, keeping them locked lightly on Jimin’s.

 

“Again?” Jimin asks the moment Jungkook’s lips leave his.

 

Jungkook, the scholar who is supposed to be smart enough to teach Jimin all about humanity and only given a month to do so, continues his ridiculously stupid actions. He kisses Jimin again, smiling so wide it’s hard to find a connection. 

 

“Ag—”

 

Jungkook cuts him off, giving him what he wants again and again. Each kiss lasts shorter than the one before, each followed by a soft, “Again?” 

 

Soon the dust becomes too thick to breath in, and Jungkook has to pull away completely to wipe the glitter clogging his vision and the air around him. Everything shimmers in pink when the light passes, from their hair to their clothes to the planks below them.

 

Jungkook panics when he sees the mess they’ve made and swipes the dust between the cracks with his foot to rid the pier of magical elements. He brushes what he can from the bench into the water behind them and finally his mind catches up with his body. 

 

Pink is a new one. 

 

“I can’t help it,” Jimin says as Jungkook struggles to scatter the rest of the dust caught in the textures of the wood and the stone bench. 

 

“It’s fine. We can ask Siyeon to make it rain or something to wash it away.” 

 

And then Jungkook will have to explain why he needs her to alter the weather to wash away evidence of their kiss. As if she doesn’t already know. There is so much glittering, shimmering dust the pier looks gays on their way to pride. 

 

“Is this going to happen every time we kiss?”

 

“We can kiss again?” Jimin asks, eyes wide with excitement, which adds yellow to the pile of pastels. 

 

Jungkook doesn’t do flings anymore. He isn’t looking for a quickie or for a long-term relationship or any sort of romantic relationship. 

 

This doesn’t have to count, he argues with himself. Even if it will be over before Jungkook knows it, and Jimin will forget about it within the next millennia and go back to doing pixie things in his pixie home in the pixie realm, would it be so wrong for Jungkook to give Jimin what he wants while he’s here?

 

Jungkook’s lifetime is so minuscule compared to Jimin’s that Jimin could blink and he would miss it. He won’t miss Jungkook the way Jungkook is going to miss him.

 

Even after just a few days, a fraction of which Jimin wanted to kill Jungkook, Jungkook is already thinking about the possibility of falling and losing in love with Jimin and it terrifies him.

 

Falling in love would be a hell of a way to experience some of the best parts of what humanity has to offer. That’s what Jungkook is supposed to help him with in his role as a scholar in Siyeon’s plan. 

 

“It’s okay if you don’t want to,” Jimin says. 

 

“We,” should fall in love “can kiss again. Not out here, though. You’re too messy,” Jungkook laughs, sifting the rest of the pink from Jimin’s bangs. 

 

“Jungkook?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“What’s the word for what humans feel when they do a kiss?”

 

This is not love. 

 

“Infatuation.”

 

“But you’re not feeling that.”

 

“It’s different for everyone.” 

 

Jungkook doesn’t know what he’s feeling. It’s not love. It’s a connection. It’s a feeling he’s familiar with but never felt so early into a relationship—the idea of “relationship” being used loosely. Things move a lot quicker when Jungkook and Jimin can read and be read through their emotions. If all humans had similar tells there would be a lot less miscommunication, less misunderstandings. 

 

That’s why Jungkook feels like they’ve moved too fast from strangers to kissing alone under the stars. He can’t rationalize any other reason. He forgot the reason. 

 

“I like infatuation,” Jimin says. He mimics Jungkook by ruffling the pink out of Jungkook’s bangs and swipes the bench until it’s all fallen into the water. “Seokjin never talked about infatuation.”

 

“Seokjin sounds like he sucks.” Jungkook huffs, falling back against the guardrails. “Also, I’m sorry, but, I have no idea where Jupiter is.”

 

“I know.” Jimin grins and looks up at the sky, pointing to a spot beyond Jungkook’s head and says, “It’s the one—” Jimin’s smile drops and the golden swirls disappear from his eyes. 

 

Jungkook follows his line of sight to the overcast above, devoid of all stars. 

 

Not an overcast. The moon is still visible. The stars are all gone.

 

Jimin tugs Jungkook up from the bench by his sleeve.

 

“What did you do?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“I didn’t do anything. Stop being scared so loud,” Jimin hisses, pulling his mask back up. “Put yours back. Now.”

 

Jungkook fastens his mask behind his ears and speedwalks to keep up with Jimin as he pulls them back towards the road. He looks back up at the sky still missing its stars. The waves have gone eerily silent. The only movement comes from the lighthouse.

 

“The fucking stars are gone,” he says.  

 

“I’m going to protect you, so you need to stop being scared so loud.”

 

Jungkook agreed to help a pixie get his wings back, not witness the entire sky go black. Whatever has the power to turn off the stars and scare Jimin like this is beyond what Jungkook signed up for. 

 

Siyeon is powerful. According to Jimin and Bora, one of the most powerful beings to exist is just a kilometer away and on his side. The thought brings him comfort. Somehow, Jimin is still panicking. 

 

They make it to the gravel where the road meets the pier when Jimin stops, pulling Jungkook into his shoulder from behind. 

 

The stars appear again in front of them, golden and shining against a velvet blue robe draping so long it piles on the concrete. It’s the student who found his bus ticket. The man on the Jack’s card. The creature who stole the stars from his dream and his real life too. 

 

“It’s not often one finds a pixie on Terra,” he says, his voice the sound of the velvet he wears and his eyes glowing gold like Jimin’s. “Despite everything I taught you, you had to see the humans for yourself, didn’t you?”

 

Behind the glare of the only streetlamp, highlighted from beneath by the stolen stars, the man who taught Jimin about humans looks like he stepped right off the playing card into the real world as a caricature of a fantasy wizard minus the pointy hat. 

 

“You said you didn’t recognize him,” Jungkook whispers. “I thought you couldn’t lie.”

 

“I said I had never seen the cards.”

 

Jimin never directly stated he didn’t recognize the man. Not as a human, anyway. Jungkook wasn’t observant enough to catch on. 

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“You were safer before you knew his name.”

 

Jungkook wants to argue that he did know his name. He knew the name Seokjin. He didn’t know who the name belonged to, which is what Jimin was protecting him from. 

 

“If I wanted to hurt the human, I would have snapped its neck already.” He looks directly at Jungkook with an exaggerated pout, but despite the theatrics the eye contact makes Jungkook shiver. “You have no idea how hard it was for me not to break character in that library to run you through the heart with the dull end of a pen.”

 

“Try it, asshole,” Jungkook snaps. 

 

“Slow down, kiddo.” Seokjin clicks his tongue and shakes his head, hands on his hips through the velvet fabric that somehow doesn’t bunch up around his arms despite the volume, an infinite length. “This is what I meant about humans, you see? All bark and no bite. You don’t even have fangs.”

 

“I don’t need fangs to rip off your head with my bare fucking hands—”

 

Jimin twists the fabric of Jungkook’s sleeve and yanks him further behind. 

 

If Jimin is scared his dust doesn’t show it. He stands tall and stiff, keeping a vice grip on Jungkook’s sleeve. 

 

“Put them back,” Jimin says, his voice as steady as ever despite his trembling fingers. 

 

“After we have a chat. May I have the human’s name? I don’t see a collar on this one.” Seokjin taps his neck to imply the placement.

 

“No, you may not have his name.” 

 

“The muzzle is a nice touch.”

 

Jungkook starts to pull down his mask.

 

“Don’t take that off,” Jimin warns.

 

His grip becomes unbelievably tight around Jungkook’s wrist as he pulls Jungkook further behind him using his own body as a barrier between Jungkook and the star thief. 

 

Hearing Seokjin’s voice and seeing the way he carries himself, Jungkook isn’t surprised that he would have told Jimin all the nasty lies about humans. Whatever his agenda against humanity is, though unknown, petrifies Jungkook. 

 

“May I have your name?” Seokjin asks Jungkook directly. 

 

“No, you may not have my name,” Jungkook says, echoing Jimin’s tone and words exactly, hoping to whatever greater power than Seokjin that exists that he responded correctly. 

 

“Do you have the time?”

 

“Help me get my wings back and we can talk at Hyeastra.” Jimin speaks the last word in an unfamiliar accent, so strong Jungkook can’t even recognize the sounds he used to form the words. 

 

Seokjin, Jimin’s mentor, someone from Jimin’s world who would be able to help him retrieve his wings. With his help, Jimin wouldn’t need Jungkook anymore, and they could all go back home. 

 

Seokjin laughs an evil laugh that sounds nothing like human laughter. With trembling hands Jimin presses Jungkook against his back, like he’s afraid to let go or Jungkook will fly away. When Seokjin steps closer, Jimin steps back. 

 

“You’ve got—ah, what does she call herself now? Si-yeon? You’ve befriended Siyeon the Vile, and you’ve found your Tomorrow.” 

 

Jungkook doesn’t like the look Seokjin gives him as he spits out the last word like it’s a curse. 

 

“I have nothing to offer that they don’t.” Seokjin steps forward again, now fully immersed under the streetlamp that somehow makes the stars on his robe dimmer than their own natural shine. “And I don’t associate with traitors.”

 

“Why were you in the human’s dream?” Jimin asks. It’s less of a demand, a genuine question the way he would ask Jungkook what a documentary is.

 

“The same reason you left Hyeastra.”

 

“I didn’t leave—”

 

“I was bored and I didn’t want to die. Ah,” Seokjin sighs dramatically, pressing his fingers to his brow and shaking his head, “To think my youngest, brightest chickadee would be tagged with a human’s name.”

 

Jungkook tries to keep his focus on one spot on the back of Jimin’s head where there is still traces of pink dust caught in his fiery hair. It shimmers dimly in the light of the moon. Jungkook keeps his eyes locked on the spot to ground himself so Seokjin won’t listen to the fear in his heart. 

 

“Let’s talk,” Seokjin says.

 

“If you’re not going to help me get my wings back then there is nothing to talk about. Leave the human alone.”

 

“Darling Jimin, you don’t have to protect him just because Siyeon told you to. You’re practically a human with free will now, and you’ve chosen your own name. You’ve found yourself a pet! You’re not bound by tomorrow anymore.”

 

At the second mention of a tomorrow, Jimin loses a small cloud of dust the color of Seokjin’s robes. It’s faint and disappears quickly, and if Jungkook weren’t standing so close he wouldn’t have seen it at all. 

 

“Help me recover my wings.”

 

“No.”

 

“And stop following my human.”

 

My human.

 

“I won’t.”

 

Jungkook considers saying something, like “fuck off” or “you’re a freak, fuck off,” then remembers that either one of them could blink and it would turn him to ash, so he holds back. 

 

He can’t help Jimin. He promised Jimin he would be the one to protect him until his dust returned so he could protect himself. Fearing someone with the power to steal the stars nullifies Jungkook’s resolve. 

 

“Then why are you here?”

 

“I told you, I want to talk.”

 

“You don’t associate with traitors.” 

 

“It’s not you I came to talk to.” He looks Jungkook up and down and up, eyes landing on Jungkook’s and he smirks. “I’ve already said all I needed to say to you. I warned you about humans, yet you ended up here anyway. I’ll ask my questions and be on my way, alright?”

 

Jimin turns to Jungkook, his irises void of color and twinkling with the reflection of the thousands of stars a few steps away from of them. 

 

“Don’t give him any answers.”

 

“I won’t,” Jungkook whispers. 

 

“May I have your name?” Seokjin asks again. 

 

Jungkook shakes his head. 

 

“Do you have the time?”

 

Jungkook looks down at Jimin for guidance, afraid to even open his mouth in fear Seokjin will steal the answers from him. Jimin stares at Seokjin and misses Jungkook’s plea. 

 

Jungkook shakes his head again instead of answering out loud. 

 

“You can speak. I won’t hurt someone my star pupil has a duty to protect.”

 

“He’s not your fucking anything,” Jungkook seethes. “I’m his mentor now, so fuck off.” 

 

Seokjin glares and Jungkook winces, waiting for a clap of thunder or a fit of evil laughter telling him he messed up. Instead, Seokjin only smiles menacingly. 

 

If Jimin’s grip wasn’t so tight, Jungkook would be across the road already with his fist smashed into Seokjin’s jaw and his knee in his stomach. His plan probably wouldn’t work, but he would try it anyway. 

 

“A fellow scholar,” Seokjin says. “From one teacher to another, let me tell you something about this one. Jimin is a quick learner, but he doesn’t know how to apply his knowledge. And he believes anything you tell him if you’re wearing a mask.”

 

Jungkook rips off his cotton mask against Jimin’s instruction. 

 

“What the fuck were you trying to do, telling him all that shit about humans? What do you even know?” Jungkook steps out from behind Jimin. Jimin doesn’t let go.

 

Realistically, he never imagined meeting Seokjin, never have the chance to challenge him. He’s numb and afraid, but he may never have another opportunity to ask Seokjin, directly, what the fuck he was trying to accomplish.  

 

“I was adjusting the variables. Do I get to ask a question now?”

 

“Fuck off.” 

 

“Jungkook, don’t—”

 

Jungkook loses himself, ripping his hand away from Jimin and crossing the road to meet Seokjin under the streetlamp. 

 

“You’re not strong enough,” Jimin says. 

 

Jungkook ignores him. The stars blind Jungkook when he looks directly at them from this close. 

 

He can’t calm down, not even for Jimin. He doesn’t have a plan. Storming up to his opponent would usually be enough to frighten them, give him an advantage. Most humans are scared when he’s angry, even when it’s not directed at them. He’s tall and strong and more confident than he should be. 

 

Here, however, Jungkook is out of his league. Seokjin is a formidable creature. He doesn’t flinch when Jungkook approaches, doesn’t even blink. Jungkook doesn’t think he even breathes. 

 

“You’re terrifying him,” Seokjin says, ignoring Jungkook entirely, feigning concern. 

 

Jungkook turns to see Jimin frozen in place surrounded by a cloud of deep purple, just like the first time he saw him. He clenches his jaw, the angry tension in his body building as he tries to prioritize between helping Jimin and beating the shit out of the one who made him like this. 

 

“If you’re not going to help Jimin get his wings back then get the fuck out of this realm, asshole.” 

 

Jungkook knows he is being stupid. Probably even more stupid than that time he decided to kiss a pixie. Seokjin had the nerve to ruin the beautiful moment they were sharing, which makes Jungkook even more furious looking at his shitstain of a face. He hates how intact and perfect Seokjin’s face looks above the light of thousands of stars. He doesn’t deserve that sort of image. 

 

“Are you going to bite my head off now?” Seokjin asks. “You’re as bold as you were yesterday. Go for it.” 

 

Seokjin opens his arms wide, exposing a million stars and swirling galaxies running over the inner fabric of his robes. They shift and glisten with the velvety texture. Hopefully, he won’t fall into space if he misses.

 

Jungkook stops centimeters from Seokjin’s face. He matches Seokjin in height but Seokjin’s broad shoulders and cascading robes give him a larger profile. Jungkook knows how to size up a human opponent if he needs to fight. However, Seokjin is decidedly not a human.

 

“Swing away, Jungkook.” 

 

The gold in Seokjin’s eyes disperses only for a moment, but Jungkook is close enough to catch it. 

 

“You’re the shittiest,” he snaps.

 

Jungkook widens his stance and throws his whole body into an uppercut that connects with a cloud of grey dust. He stumbles forward into the lamp post, catching it right before he falls. 

 

Seokjin is gone. In his place, a pile of grey dust falls slowly. It doesn’t shimmer. It looks like real dust as opposed to the magical kind that comes from Jimin. Jimin’s dust is pretty when it sparkles, even when it’s purple to indicate his panic.  

 

Jimin. He is still here. Jungkook doesn’t have time to worry about Seokjin when Jimin is still here. He is alone on his knees on the road, dripping in purple dust that reflects under a starry night sky. 

 

Jungkook rushes to Jimin, kneeling beside him. He holds Jimin’s shoulders and tries to look him in the eye. Jimin’s gaze is fixed on the ground in front of him.

 

“It’s okay,” he says. “You’re okay. Seokjin’s gone. I think. Jimin?”

 

Panicking, Jungkook holds Jimin’s face and tilts his head up. Jimin is crying, or, something similar to the way humans cry. Twinkling streaks of something that aren’t human tears run down his cheeks and solidify the second they drip from his chin, hitting the concrete and bouncing like hail.  

 

Jungkook swipes his thumb over the next tear that falls. It hardens the moment it touches Jungkook’s skin and rolls to the ground. 

 

“W-Why does your heart—” Jimin hiccups, “—sound like that?”

 

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook whispers. “I get really angry sometimes and it’s hard to control but he—”

 

“It’s not the anger. It’s—” Jimin sits back on his heels, away from Jungkook like he’s afraid to touch him. “It’s not a harp anymore. It’s like—” his breath hitches and he wipes away more tears, “It’s like a battle drum.”

 

Jungkook backs away. Seokjin is gone but Jimin is as scared as the first time Jungkook laid eyes on him. He doesn’t know how any human supposed to comprehend a situation like this. He’s lost in a million thoughts a second—worries that Jimin is afraid of him, worries that Seokjin might return at any second and not hold back, worries that Siyeon and Bora are still in their house, unaware, and Seokjin could have caught them by now. He worries that he’s the one who made Jimin cry, not Seokjin. 

 

A harp to a battle drum. A human to a scholar. Something about being a tomorrow. The pressure the inhuman concepts bring make Jungkook want to run back to the house, grab the keys to the van, and drive back home like none of this happened. Like he didn’t meet a pixie or find out his best friend was a warlock banished for her war crimes, that he didn’t just swing at a being so powerful it had even Jimin trembling. That he didn’t kiss Jimin and decide it might be okay to fall in love even if he were to lose that love in less than a month and be forgotten by the time he dies. 

 

Jungkook is crying too, but his tears don’t turn to rocks. They soak up into the dirt and cloud his vision like a human’s would. The street is covered in grey and deep purple to match the night sky. Beneath Jimin, dozens of crystals shine like diamonds, his tears. 

 

Stay calm for Jimin. This has happened before. 

 

Deep breaths. He remembers Bora telling him to take a deep fucking breath and he holds onto that voice.

 

Remember the bluebells. Jungkook can smell the bluebells when he closes his eyes. Jimin is there with him, shrouded in white, barely visible.  

 

His tears stop. He’s calm, despite his racing heart. 

 

Jungkook kneels in front of Jimin again, and this time, Jimin reaches to him for comfort. He finishes crying diamonds into Jungkook’s shoulder and when his breathing slows and his dust stops pluming, Jungkook finally feels like he’s back where he needs to be. 

 

How could he even consider abandoning all this and fucking off in Yoongi’s van? Maybe Jungkook is the shittiest. 

 

“Jungkook?”

 

“I’m here. You’re here.”

 

“I’m here.”

 

Jimin pulls out of Jungkook’s arms and looks up at the stars in the sky, searching for something. 

 

“Seokjin is gone. He disappeared.”

 

“I know,” Jimin says. “The stars are back.” He bends his head back to see them all, then gasps and points to a spot behind him. “See the bright yellow one? Above that cloud?”

 

Jungkook sees the star, back where it should be. It’s not really a star. 

 

“That’s Jupiter, isn’t it?”

 

The realization that it was not only the stars, but every planet as well that Seokjin had engraved in his robe hits Jungkook like a brick flung at a cop car as he realizes the power of the creature whose jaw he tries to shatter with his human fist. 

 

“You can tell Siyeon you showed me. She doesn’t have to know you didn’t know.”

 

“I think she already does,” Jungkook laughs softly. “Let’s go back and clean off this dust. We’ll probably have to take a hundred baths before it all comes off.”

 

Jungkook offers his hand pulls Jimin up. Jimin stumbles, lightheaded from the loss of dust and tears—tears? diamonds?—and falls into Jungkook’s chest. 

 

“What’s baths?” Jimin asks.

 

“Baths are fun,” Jungkook says as he steadies Jimin. “You get to sit in a tub of hot water surrounded by bubbles and wash off all the grimy stuff humans get on their bodies.” 

 

Jungkook ruffles more purple dust out of Jimin’s hair. They walk slowly back up the hill to Siyeon’s house, legs shaking with adrenaline. 

 

Bora is at the door to greet them with a smile by the time they step onto the porch. 

 

“Welcome back, lovebugs! How did the star gazing…” Her eyes widen and she pulls them inside, slamming the door shut behind them. “What happened? Are you hurt?”

 

In the light of the foyer Jungkook realizes how much of a mess he and Jimin look—covered in purple, hair tousled, eyes red from tears and exhaustion. 

 

“We’re fine,” Jimin says as he pulls off his mask and coat. 

 

Bora takes them along with Jungkook’s and tosses them in the coat closet instead of hanging them up, quickly turning back to Jimin for an explanation. 

 

“You can stop worrying,” Jimin says. “You’re safe as long as Siyeon is here. He hates her.” 

 

“Who—”

 

“Welcome back,” Siyeon says from the bottom of the stairs. She’s more worried than Jungkook has ever seen her. “Bora, would you take Jimin upstairs? The tub should still be hot.”

 

Bora looks to Jungkook for more and Jungkook doesn’t know what to tell her. He doesn’t want her to worry, and he also doesn't want to think about it anymore tonight. 

 

“I’ll fill you in later. It was...a lot. And I promised Jimin a bubble bath when we got back. I can help him instead—”

 

“No, no, I can.” Bora tosses their boots onto their coats and turns to Jimin, her hands on his shoulders as she searches his face for any sort of reaction. “You’re okay, right?”

 

“I’m okay.”

 

Bora lets out a deep breath and wipes some more dust from his shoulders and neck. “Wow, you’re a mess. This stuff doesn’t stain, right?” she asks Siyeon. 

 

“It might. Don’t worry about that now, love, I’ll take care of it.”

 

“You never let me do any chores around here,” Bora grumbles, taking Jimin’s hand. She shivers and takes a deep breath, a smile quickly replacing her concern. “Let’s go! You’re gonna smell sooo good after this.” She doesn’t wait for him to answer before tugging him to the stairs, beaming with excitement. “I wasn’t a fan of baths until I met Siyeon. I preferred showers, you know, cuz they’re quick,” she says, disappearing up the stairs. “But then Siyeon used her secret bubble formula for me once, and I smelled like green tea for weeks! She said if you use a little bit of green pixie dust...” 

 

Her voice fades when they disappear up the stairs. Jungkook hears the bathroom door close behind them and lets out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. Under Siyeon’s roof, nothing can hurt them. He’s never felt safer in his life, never felt the need for this level or protection. What was Siyeon thinking, letting them go outside on their own when there are creatures like Seokjin lurking about?

 

“Hey,” Siyeon says, staring up at him and running her hand up and down his arms the way she would comfort him in high school after a panic attack. “You here?”

 

“Yeah, sorry. Um, Seokjin—”

 

“Wait.” Siyeon holds a finger to his lips. “Go sit on the couch, I’ll make us some tea, and then you can tell me why the fuck you two came back covered in panic and love dust.”

 

“Yes mom,” he mocks. 

 

Jungkook lays on the couch, picking at the dust still on his pants and socks. He looks like a kindergarten craft table after a unicorn art class. Most of what is left on him is a deep purple the color of the ocean right after sunset. There are traces of several hues of blue and pink when he shakes out his hair. 

 

Siyeon comes back with a tray of two cups and a steaming kettle and sets it on the coffee table. She lifts Jungkook’s legs and lets them drop back onto her lap the way they sat while avoiding studying together.

 

“So,” Siyeon says. 

 

“So,” Jungkook echoes. 

 

“The purple?” she asks, swiping the dust from the couch into her hand and rubbing it between her fingers. 

 

Jungkook feels like a teenager caught with a bag of weed his mom found under his bed the way she stares at him. What a simpler situation that would be compared to this. 

 

“You know Seokjin, right?”

 

“I know the bitch.”

 

“He’s totally a bitch,” Jungkook agrees. “And apparently he’s been stalking me.”

 

“I know. He was in our dream session,” Siyeon sighs, shaking her head. “I had more I wanted to talk to you about.”

 

“Wait, that was actually you?” Jungkook sits up. Siyeon pushes him back down. 

 

“Relax. I won’t invade your sleep anymore. That’s what opened the door for Seokjin to find you, and I’m sorry.”

 

“No, it’s…” Is that okay? Should Jungkook be okay with this? A question relevant to the entirety of the last week of his life. 

 

“I didn’t know he was here until the stars disappeared. I’m sorry I couldn’t help,” she says quietly. “We haven’t gotten along recently.”

 

For someone as supposedly powerful as Siyeon, for her to avoid confrontation with Seokjin, the being Jungkook really, actually tried to punch in the face, he realizes how stupid he was. Then he laughs, because, holy shit, he really tried to take him out without knowing how afraid he should be. 

 

“What exactly is he?”

 

“Sweet, innocent human child,” she pats his head, “you wouldn’t be able to comprehend it.”

 

It’s not the first time Siyeon has said those exact words to Jungkook. He never realized how literal they were. 

 

“I prefer pixies,” she continues. “They scheme, but at least they can’t lie. I’m still unlearning some of the things he taught me.”

 

From what Jungkook understands, all Seokjin can do is lie. 

 

“What did he teach you about?”

 

“Nothing relevant to you. Jimin wasn’t his only pupil.”

 

Siyeon’s aura darkens, like the air around her is being sucked through a black hole, and Jungkook along with it. The only light that escapes are two glowing, unblinking purple eyes. 

 

“I’m over it,” she says, snapping out of her trance. 

 

“Can that, uh, thing you do hurt me? Should I be worried?”

 

“I don’t see myself hurting you in the future.”

 

Vague, but Jungkook is afraid to press. She’s always been scary, but Jungkook has never been scared of her. Considering everything, he probably should be. 

 

“That’s kind of you,” he says. 

 

“What does Seokjin have to do with the purple dust? Why bring him up?”

 

“I think I took care of it,” Jungkook smirks. “He ran away before I could land a hit, but he looked scared for a second.”

 

Siyeon gasps. “You met him?” 

 

So, she doesn’t see everything. 

 

“It’s fine! We made it back after he ran away.”

 

“You’re not lying.”

 

“No.”

 

“How—what did he do? What happened? Jungkook,” Siyeon says, throwing his legs off her lap and pulling him up to press a hand to his forehead like she’s checking for a fever. “Are you feeling okay? Really? Did he hurt you? Did he hurt Jimin?”

 

“I’m fine.” Jungkook pulls Siyeon’s hand from his forehead. “Jimin is fine too. I think. He didn’t say much after Seokjin left.”

 

“That fucker. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there. I should have called you back the second the stars disappeared—”

 

“Here,” Jungkook shoves a cup of tea in her hand. “Breathe,” he says.

 

She blinks at it, then her expression softens from worry to relief.

 

“Jimin is going to hear you panic and think something’s wrong. Let him relax?”

 

Siyeon looks at her cup, then to Jungkook, and bursts into laughter. 

 

“Holy shit,” she breathes. “You’re incredible, Jungkook. You’re the only human to—wait, you said you tried to hit him. I’ll stop interrupting. Tell me what happened. From the second you left.”

 

A sense of pride overtakes Jungkook when Siyeon looks at him like he just told her he tried to punch a man powerful enough to steal the stars from the night sky. He sets his cup in his lap and debates on how much to actually tell her. 

 

It would be okay to skip the part about how he totally kissed Jimin, right? That’s not something she needs to know yet if she doesn’t already. 

 

“So, first of all, I have no idea where Jupiter is, so you kinda screwed me with that one.”

 

“I know.”

 

Jungkook rolls his eyes. “Anyways. Jimin pointed it out to me, and when I looked up, the stars were gone. Jimin freaked out and dragged me back here but suddenly Seokjin was in front of us and I recognized him from my dream and from earlier today when I ran into him at the library—”

 

“You what? Shit, sorry, interrupting.” 

 

Siyeon chugs the rest of her tea and pours another cup. Jungkook eyes his own suspiciously, tilting the cup side to side to watch it swirl.

 

“What’s in this?”

 

“Not poison. Continue.”

 

“I—okay.” Jungkook sets the cup on the table and pushes it far away. “He was also on that deck of cards Bora gave Jimin.”

 

Jungkook stares at Siyeon for an explanation, but she continues to sip her tea in silence and wait for him to continue.

 

“He showed up in front of us and Jimin got, like, really defensive. He pulled me behind him and everything like he knew Seokjin wanted to hurt me. And Seokjin tried to take my name, and then said something about free will, and how I’m...tomorrow?” He stops, waiting again for Siyeon to explain. 

 

“Then what?”

 

“Then he refused to help Jimin get his wings back, saying he didn’t need him when he had you and his ‘tomorrow’ already. And then I stormed up to him, gave him a chance to block me, called him the shittiest, and then he disappeared right before I touched him.”

 

“You tried to punch Seokjin. “

 

“Yes.”

 

“And you knew who he was. And you saw what he did to the sky and you...tried to punch him.” Siyeon is incredulous. 

 

“Yes. And when I turned back Jimin was on the ground and he was scared. Like, really, really scared and the whole street was covered in dust. Then I went over to make sure he was okay, and then he said my heart didn’t sound like a harp anymore but like a battle drum.”

 

Saying it outloud, the situation catches up to Jungkook. It happened so quickly, in a blur, Jungkook barely registered what happened between kissing Jimin and drinking tea with Siyeon until he realizes the implications of Jimin’s reaction. 

 

“I terrified him.”

 

“You’re scary when you’re angry,” Siyeon agrees, “I’ve heard it.”

 

“You can do that too?” Jungkook covers his heart, as if it would be any sort of barrier. 

 

“What happened next?”

 

It reminds Jungkook of the way he would shit talk other students, how Siyeon waits until she has the full story to tell him whether he is being an absolute dick, or if he’s right and he should say it.

 

“Well, then he showed me where Jupiter is and then I told him he should take a bath to get all the dust out of his hair and… Wait, how did you know to have a bath prepared but not about Seokjin?”

 

“I thought that was about this,” Siyeon says, setting her empty cup back on the tray and leaning closer to Jungkook with a smirk. 

 

She flicks his bangs, a seemingly endless spawn for shimmering pale pink dust that, in the light of the living room, looks more like highlighter powder than the usual glitter. 

 

“When did this get there?”

 

She knows, and she’s putting him on the spot anyways. 

 

“Uh, maybe, during the, when we walked back, he must have—”

 

Bora barrels down the stairs, skidding to a stop against the wall at the bottom before widening her stance, pointing at Jungkook. 

 

“You nasty son of a bitch, you kissed the pixie!” she yells.

 

She rushes to the couch, forcing herself between Siyeon and Jungkook and holding her hand in Jungkook’s face. 

 

Jungkook blinks away his confusion and registers the gesture for a high five. 

 

“Don’t leave me hanging!” Bora whines. 

 

Jungkook lightly taps his palm against hers. He can’t hide it now. As if there was anything to hide in the first place when living with a warlock and a pixie. 

 

“I didn’t mean to! It was—the stars and he—it’s because you guys—I didn’t mean to kiss him, I just,” he sighs. “I feel bad about it, alright?”

 

Bora ignores his lame excuse. 

 

“Time to pay up, buttercup,” she says to Siyeon. She turns back to Jungkook. “This means I get to do the laundry this week. She said it would take at least ten days before you two kissed and I said, ‘let’s do an over-under bet,’ and I guess I sort of cheated by kissing her in front of you two—sorry if that made you uncomfy, by the way—and I won a bet against a freaking fortune-teller!”

 

“Wait, you—”

 

“And now she has to let me do chores because she never lets me contribute any energy to this house,” she pauses only long enough for another deep breath, “And I knew she was going to win at Sorry—well, we all did, that one was kinda written in the stars—and then the second I woke up and Siyeon told me you two had gone out to star gaze I had this feeling like you were gonna come back a couple, because Siyeon explained to me what Tomorrow means and then I remembered she said something about you being there for Jimin yesterday and tomorrow, so I guess I kinda fucked with fate a little bit, but, I did it, I won!” Bora heaves. She even started to sweat. 

 

“Breathe, petal.” Siyeon rubs her back, coaxing her down, but she’s smiling too. 

 

Everyone seems to be having a great time about this except Jungkook. Everyone knows some secret second definition of day tenses except Jungkook. And no one even bothered explaining the concept to Jungkook, and he had to hear about it from an evil star-theif, of all the people in the universe.

 

“Sorry for calling you a nasty son of a bitch, by the way. I didn’t mean it. I just got reeeally excited when Jimin told me you two ‘did a kiss’—god, that’s so cute. Why would you ever date a human after meeting one of these?” Bora points at Siyeon. 

 

“We’re not dating! What did Jimin tell you?”

 

“He said you kissed him, like, a bunch of times. Well, that was after he told me about Seokjin. Sorry about that, by the way. Seokjin sounds like he sucks. But Jimin said—actually, you should go talk to him. He asked for you, I forgot to mention that.”

 

“We’re not dating,” Jungkook repeats. “He’s going to leave in less than a month and I’ll never see him again. I didn’t even mean to kiss him.”

 

“But you did. And you liked it so much you kissed him ten times.”

 

“It doesn’t matter if I liked it, I just fucked myself and messed with Jimin’s fragile emotions. He can’t start to like me, that wouldn’t be fair! To either of us!” 

 

It’s his own problem that he started. He had no idea that the pixie bleeding out on the floor of the Magic Shoppe, escaped from an evil lab and missing two of his limbs would make him feel something he hasn’t felt for someone in years, and it scares him that he knows what will follow those feelings. 

 

“You don’t know that Jimin is going to accidentally fall in love. I mean, he liked the kiss, but I don’t think that means he felt anything romantic from it,” Bora says, turning to Siyeon. “Right? Am I right?”

 

“His dust was pink,” Siyeon says. 

 

Jimin’s dust was very pink.

 

“What does pink mean?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“Pink pixie dust is used by mages to brew the strongest love potions known across all the realms.”

 

“Oh,” Bora and Jungkook say at the same time. 

 

Oh no. 

 

“But that doesn’t mean he loves me. I met him, like, six days ago. It’s infatuation, right?”

 

“It’s not normal for a pixie to lose dust involuntarily like Jimin. The part of him that remains pixie doesn’t know what to do with human emotions, so, in defense of his own system, the dust releases itself in accordance to what color the pixie’s dust would be were his intentions...intentional.” Siyeon looks at Jungkook apologetically. “He can’t use the dust after its left because it is no longer connected to his spirit once its outside of his human body.”

 

That doesn’t answer Jungkook’s question. 

 

“Can you use some of his purple dust to make a potion to make him hate me or something?” Jungkook asks, only realizing after he’s already said it how shitty it sounded. “Never mind. I’m going to make a call.”

 

Jungkook stomps to the front door, throwing on his boots without tying them and tossing his jacket over his shoulder. 

 

“Jimin asked to see you—”

 

“He’ll see me tomorrow.”

 

The door slams behind him, echoing through the trees and shaking the porch. He needs a human connection. He needs to talk to Yoongi and Hoseok before he goes insane from the newfound magic that has commandeered his life.

 

Chapter Text

On the third try, Yoongi picks up. 

 

“New phone, who is this?” he asks. 

 

“Wow, and here I was, calling because you can’t go an hour without spam texting me to pick up.”

 

“The service here sucks,” Yoongi says, using Jungkook’s own excuse against him. 

 

Jungkook leans against an old growth willow at the back of Siyeon’s property, providing a perfect view of the ocean and a range of cliffs to the east. There are millions of stars in the sky, a good sign that he won’t be meeting Seokjin alone again tonight. 

 

He looked for the well Jimin heard when they arrived and found nothing indicative of water flowing this high up from the beach.

 

“Are you at the Magic Shoppe?”

 

“Do you have any idea what time it is?”

 

Jungkook looks at his phone, wincing when he reads that it is just past midnight.

 

“Did I wake you?”

 

“No. Hoseok and I are playing Blackjack.”

 

“By yourselves?”

 

“Woosung and Yoobin were in town, so they invited us down to the old warehouse. I had no idea they renovated the place! There’s a pool now and a fully functioning bar.”

 

“Does it still smell like vomit and cat piss?”

 

“No to the vomit, yes to the piss. But it might be human piss this time”

 

Jungkook laughs, sliding down the tree until he sits in the dirt. There is still traces of purple in his shoelaces and the bottom of his pants.

 

“So, who’s winning?”

 

“The dealer, obviously. I think Woosung might be hiding cards in his sleeves. He was never really good at magic tricks, though.”

 

Of course not, Jungkook wants to say. He’s human. Humans are shit at magic because Earth’s atmosphere combats it to the point where other realms send their magical war criminals here. 

 

“Speaking of magic tricks…”

 

Jungkook sighs. He called Yoongi so he could escape from the magic for a minute. 

 

“What the hell is happening right now? Last time I saw you…” Yoongi lowers his voice to a whisper, “Last time I saw you, you fucked off with some guy claiming to be a pixie after escaping from the loony bin. Did he show you any more of his magic tricks?”

 

“You wouldn't believe what I’ve witness if I told you.”

 

“I saw him shoot dust out of his hands like Spiderman’s webs and fling a table across the room. Not to mention the jacked up first aid kit you left for me and Hoseok to have to clean up. Try me.”

 

“Don’t freak out?”

 

Yoongi’s end buzzes in silence. 

 

“Okay. Well, I don’t know how much I’m allowed to tell you—”

 

“Everything. Don’t leave out a single detail.”

 

Not happening. 

 

Jungkook traces patterns into the dirt with his free hand and mixes in some of the purple dust to make a new color. 

 

“You remember Siyeon?”

 

“The gay witch from high school?”

 

“Yes. She’s um…” A war criminal imprisoned in this realm. “She’s an actual warlock. And Jimin knew her.”

 

“Jungkook.”

 

“Yoongi.”

 

“Tell me honestly. Is Jimin, actually, not human?”

 

“He’s sort of—” Jungkook catches himself.

 

Revealing too much information would put Jimin in even more danger if somehow the evil doctors or the cops somehow connected Jimin to Jungkook to Yoongi. He shouldn’t have even mentioned Siyeon. Yoongi would never betray him on purpose, but he might not keep his mouth shut if he were being interrogated. 

 

“Please just tell me he’s an alien. I’d have a much easier time believing that than whatever he thinks he is.”

 

“I guess, yeah. He’s sorts of like an alien.” Alien in the sense that he isn’t from Earth, a stranger in a strange land with anatomy and abilities that perpetuate the idea of what humans think of as aliens. 

 

“What planet is he from?”

 

“I don’t know.” Hyeastra, or something, apparently.

 

“Your ex-best friend is a witch and you’re helping an alien hide from the government. Jungkook, what the fuck are you trying to do to me?”

 

“I told you that you wouldn’t believe me.”

 

“I know what I saw. Hoseok knows it too. We all saw it. I’m just having a hard time believing the witch part and the existence of aliens. Can’t you just pick one?”

 

“I didn’t pick either. I haven’t even told you about the man who stole all the stars and planets from the sky a couple hours ago. I tried to punch him.”

 

Yoongi’s end is silent again. He didn’t expect Yoongi to believe any of it. He didn’t even want to talk about it. Jungkook wanted to talk to Yoongi about Yoongi things and Hoseok about Hoseok things. Saying he is overwhelmed is an understatement. Overwhelmed, overstimulated, over-expanding his beliefs to the point he just accepts that some people can steal the stars, that there are evil labs, evil scientists and doctors, a pixie, who is unfortunately falling in love with him. 

 

“Am I dreaming?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Yoongi still doesn’t answer. He hears Hoseok in the background.

 

“Kook?”

 

“Hobi!”

 

“Hi. How’s the fairy?”

 

Oof, I won’t tell him you called him that for your own sake. He gets jealous that humans think fairies are cool.”

 

“Are they? Have you met one?”

 

“No. So far just pixies and warlocks and, well, I don’t exactly know what the other guy is. He made even the strongest warlock on Earth afraid and I tried to punch him.”

 

Hoseok gasps and Jungkook keels over in laughter. Saying it out loud to someone who has never met a warlock and has no idea the scale of the situation makes it sound ridiculous. It makes it sound like Jungkook is having fun. 

 

“Did they zap you or something?”

 

“The opposite, actually. He ran away. And then he returned all the stars and planets he stole from space. They were in his robe somehow.”

 

“No. What? You’re not lying, are you?”

 

“You saw what Jimin can do with his dust, right? There’s a lot of magic that we don’t know about, apparently.”

 

“Oh! Speaking of magic, I saw an ad about him on my feed. You know, for the butterfly exhibit?”

 

“Oh, shit.”

 

“You saw it too?” 

 

Jungkook forgot about Avalon’s Hall. He’s been so busy dealing with star-thieves and cryptic day tenses that he forgot that their enemies aren’t all magical. He can’t believe it was just earlier today that he almost broke someone’s laptop in the library over the advertisement. 

 

“I did. And that’s not happening.”

 

“Aw, why?”

 

“Because he’d be a prisoner again! I’m going to help him get his wings back, get home, and then he’ll be gone forever, and I’ll probably remember this all as a month-long shroom trip.”

 

“Are you on shrooms? There are no aliens, are there? Are you taking psychedelics?”

 

“Not since you’ve known me. I kind of wish I were tripping, though.”

 

That might have been a lie. An exaggeration, at least. He has been enjoying himself. One rough night shouldn’t ruin the rest of it for him. 

 

“When are you coming home? Where are you?”

 

“I can’t tell you that.”

 

“I’m not gonna snitch, Kook. I promise.”

 

“I know, I trust you.” Jungkook picks at the dirt and the dust, flicking it around his feet. “It might put you and me and Jimin in danger. I’ll tell you every detail in about a month when I come back, okay?”

 

If Jungkook moves back. If he decides he doesn’t want to live with Siyeon and Bora and continue this magical adventure for the rest of his life. 

 

“Are you in danger right now?”

 

Jungkook is in so much danger. 

 

“No. I have one of the most powerful warlocks in the universe protecting me, and also a pixie who can set things on fire just by snapping his fingers to light a spark. I’m fine.”

 

“Wait, so, is it warlocks or witches? Or are they the same?”

 

“I think they’re different. Siyeon calls herself a warlock and so does her girlfriend. Do you remember Siyeon?”

 

“Siyeon like crystal-girl-from-high-school Lee Siyeon?”

 

“Yeah. She’s kind of a badass. And she can see the future.”

 

“Oh my god, you are tripping.”

 

Jungkook laughs softly. By now he has formed a pile of dirt and dust the height of his leg and carved an empty crooked moat around it with his finger. He drops some leaves into the top like a flag before swatting it all away and starting over. 

 

“I’m not on any drugs, I promise.” Except for whatever was in that tea Siyeon said wasn’t poison. “Magic just...exists. Humans got that right.”

 

“What about werewolves? Or vampires? Are ghosts real?”

 

“Yes, yes, maybe. I’ll ask Siyeon when I see her.”

 

“Where are you?”

 

“I’m in her backyard. It’s really pretty here, you should visit sometime.”

 

“That might be weird. I didn’t know Siyeon very well.”

 

“Clearly none of us did. How are things going at home?”

 

“We hired a kid to fill your spot because we didn’t know when you were coming back. She’s a quick learner and her memes are hilarious.”

 

“You hired her for her memes,” Jungkook says.

 

“No. We hired her because she’s a hard worker and she’s young and had no job experience and because she has good memes.”

 

Since they opened the Magic Shoppe, Hoseok and Yoongi make it a point to only hire young people with no previous income because they know no one else will. Most employees moved on after a couple weeks to find a job that could pay them better and give them more hours, and since then they have provided dozens of low-income high school kids with the chance at better opportunities. 

 

Yoongi helped Jungkook move out of the warehouse before taking Jungkook with him when Yoongi met and fell in love with Hoseok.

 

They are the most welcoming people Jungkook has ever met. He could never move away from them.

 

“You can let her keep my job if she wants it. I can find work elsewhere.”

 

“We could make room for two.”

 

“What’s her name?”

 

“Lee Gahyeon. She’s a star. You should hear her sing.”

 

“You didn’t hire a siren or something, did you?”

 

“Sirens gotta pay bills too.”

 

Jungkook can hear Hoseok’s smile through the phone. It’s silent for a moment, but that’s okay. Jungkook feels comfort in knowing Hoseok is right here with him along with Yoongi. 

 

“I miss you, Kook.”

 

“I miss you too, Hobi.”

 

“Yoongi says he misses you too, but he’s busy losing all our money. Hey,” Hoseok pulls the phone away from his face so Jungkook can barely hear him yell. “Leave some for Gahyeon’s paycheck!” He holds the phone close again. “Okay, we’re good. He won that round. I’m going to go keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn’t drink too much. Stay safe, okay?”

 

“You too.”

 

“I love you, Kook. I’ll call you again soon, so pick up next time.”

 

“Love you too. Goodnight.”

 

“Goodnight.”

 

Jungkook is alone again with a pile of dirt and a million stars above him. 

 

He sits against the tree for a while, enjoying the solitude and clearing his mind before going back inside to face his new reality of magic and pixie dust. He wishes he could have told Yoongi and Hoseok more about Jimin without putting them in danger. He wants to talk out his feelings, about wanting to not want to want to fall in love with him and not wanting Jimin to love him back. 

 

 


 

 

Jimin wakes up in a human bed again. He can hear Jungkook’s heart from the kitchen and the roaring sound of the machine that makes smoothies. The sun is high above the water surrounded by blue sky and few clouds. Seagulls fly low over the harbor as several groups of humans clutter on the pier where he and Jungkook were last night. 

 

He rolls out of the bed and stops in front of the door when he remembers that humans wear clothes in front of other humans, not robes. 

 

Jimin finds his favorite pair of leggings folded on the surface across from his bed and a white sweater next to it. Humans wear uncomfortable articles of clothing to make up for their lack of physical color diversity. It’s important to humans that the other humans around them wear clothes that they find attractive. 

 

Jimin doesn’t understand, but he covers himself in the clothes anyways before meeting Jungkook downstairs to continue their lessons about humans.

 

The smoothie machine stops when Jungkook sees Jimin in front of the kitchen. 

 

“Jimin!” Jungkook beams. Joy. “The blender didn’t wake you up, did it?”

 

Humans don’t normally wear big jackets and hats inside their homes. Jungkook is preparing to leave. He hands Jimin a cup filled with a smoothie that smells like fresh berries.

 

“You can take it with you in the van as long as you promise not to spill,” he says.

 

“Where are you taking the van?”

 

“You’ll like it.”

 

“I didn’t ask if I’d like it. I asked where you’re taking me. It’s dangerous outside.”

 

Jungkook drops straw into Jimin’s smoothie and beckons him to follow to the door. 

 

“We won’t be outside for very long. We’re going to another inside place.”

 

“Another human home?”

 

“It’s more fun than that. Put these on.” Jungkook nudges a pair of boots into Jimin’s feet, then steps into his own. 

 

“What if I don’t want to go?”

 

Jungkook pauses like he hadn’t considered the fact Jimin doesn’t have to follow just because Jungkook says so. 

 

He will follow, but it’s a bold assumption. 

 

“Then I’ll be meeting the fish alone, I guess.”

 

Jimin knows fish. He learned about freshwater fish from a documentary. Seokjin taught him very little about Terra fauna aside from mammals, like humans and deer. Some fish on Terra are similar in shape and texture to fish at home, though much smaller, and they usually don’t leave the water. 

 

“You don’t have to come,” Jungkook says, even though he really wants Jimin to come with him. “But there’s going to be birds too.”

 

Birds can fly like pixies. They couldn’t always fly, and very many of their ancestors went extinct from Terra millions of calendar years ago. The dinosaurs that did survive evolved the ability of flight without the help from magic or dust. Jimin is curious to see a bird up close, instead of watching the seagulls out his window and wishing he could fly up himself to greet one. 

 

Before he leaves, maybe he’ll fly to meet the seagulls just once.

 

Jimin sets his smoothie on the ground and pulls on his shoes.

 

“I’ll come,” he says, “if you promise there will be birds.”

 

“I promise. Most of them will be pretty small, though, so, don’t expect anything too exciting.” There are rodents, too. And frogs. And snakes.”

 

Jimin freezes, dropping the boot and stepping back from the door. 

 

“Where the hell are you taking me?” 

 

Jungkook wouldn’t feed Jimin to a snake. Not on purpose. 

 

Jimin wasn’t aware there was even a snake on Terra. If Jungkook knew what a snake was he wouldn’t be so excited to see one. Snakes don’t make contracts with other beings and they don’t kill just for survival. Snakes are the doctors of his realm. 

 

“We’re going to a pet store. Don’t worry, they’re in cages.”

 

A snake? In a cage? Not even the most powerful mages could capture a snake, let alone get them agree to stay in a cage.

 

“Stop doing sarcasm. There’s no snakes here. I don’t like being lied to.”

 

“I don’t know what kind of snakes you’ve seen, but here, they’re pretty small and harmless. Unless you provoke them. But the ones where we’re going aren’t dangerous.”

 

Jungkook has to be doing sarcasm. Jimin can’t believe a scholar would think any sort of snake, no matter the size or species, would be inclined to stay in a cage for very long. Humans have no idea what they’re dealing with if they think any barrier they’ve built could prevent a snake from escaping. 

 

“You don’t believe me?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“I believe that you think you know what you’re talking about. But you’re wrong. I’m not going to go with you if there are snakes there. I’m trying not to get eaten.”

 

Jungkook laughs. Disbelief.

 

Jimin doesn’t think snakes are funny. He crosses his arms the way humans do when they want to appear stubborn and unmoving. Humans cross their arms to be taken seriously, or in an act of self-defense and comfort. 

 

“You’re serious?” Jungkook asks.

 

“I am serious.”

 

“Jimin, they’re this big.” Jungkook holds his hands a shoulder’s width apart. “And they can’t bite you through the glass. I promise you won’t be eaten.”

 

Jungkook is delusional. He really believes human technology can hold back a snake. 

 

“I’m not going if there’s snakes.”

 

“Even if they’re friendly?”

 

“That’s how they manipulate you! Have you ever met a snake? They’re not kind and they won’t make contracts.”

 

“Your snakes sound a lot meaner than our snakes. I used to have a pet snake. I’ve seen one up close before.”

 

“You didn’t live with a snake. Stop doing sarcasm, I don’t like it.”

 

Jungkook isn’t angry, something close to frustration. His heart still plays like a harp, but the chords have deepened. 

 

“I’m not being sarcastic. Snakes here are dumb as shit and nowhere near as intelligent as the ones you know. They don’t even know what a contract is. They can’t even talk.”

 

“That’s what you think.”

 

“You’re incredible,” Jungkook says, shaking his head. 

 

It’s a compliment, usually, but he says it like he’s insulting Jimin. 

 

“Fine,” Jungkook huffs. “I’ll go by myself. I’ll take some pictures for you.” 

 

It’s not only frustration, but rejection that rings in Jungkook’s heart and it is making him upset. He really thinks snakes are friendly. He sounded excited at the idea of bringing Jimin to see the fish and birds and even the snakes. 

 

Snakes on Terra might be different.

 

“I will come with you, but only because you need my protection.”

 

Jimin pulls on his shoes and Jungkook’s eyes light up. 

 

“Do you trust me?”

 

Jimin tries to say “no.” He can’t. 

 

“You can’t just punch a snake like you punched Seokjin.”

 

“I missed.”

 

“You hit his dust. He wasn’t quick enough.”

 

Jungkook raises his eyebrows. Shock. Pride.

 

“Did it hurt him?”

 

“It scared him. I don’t want to talk about Seokjin. Let’s go.”

 

“Sorry. No more evil warlock talk.” 

 

When Jimin finishes lacing his boots, Jungkook pushes the door open and waits for Jimin on the porch. Jimin rests his hands in the jacket pockets. 

 

“Seokjin’s not a warlock.”

 

“Evil...pixie?”

 

“Let’s go.” Jimin pushes past him. 

 

 

 

The thing Jimin hates most about cars and vans is seatbelts. Humans don’t mind being restricted, and they do it voluntarily. They have seatbelts in cars, and they have jewelry to tie their hands together, and they don’t mind how it constricts and confines them. Most humans have never been on the operating table. 

 

“I’m not moving this van until you put it on.”

 

“Then we’ll be sitting here forever.” 

 

It’s not like Jungkook is strong enough to force it over him, and even if he does, Jimin already learned how to untie it. The bright red button is hard to miss. 

 

“Please?”

 

“No.”

 

“Pretty please?”

 

“I won’t. Just drive. I’ll be fine.”

 

Jungkook sighs, offering a key to the car and twisting it until the van starts to rumble and growl. Jimin isn’t afraid of the roaring this time or the way his seat vibrates. He is only afraid of what might happen if he allows his body to be strapped down again. 

 

Jungkook doesn’t make the van move. He stares at Jimin, but Jimin isn’t going to change his mind. 

 

“Put the belt on.”

 

Jimin tugs the strap already over his lap and lets it snap back in place. “It is.”

 

“Both parts.”

 

“I didn’t last time.”

 

“Last time I was scared you would incinerate me if I told you what to do.”

 

“I can still incinerate you.”

 

“But you won’t.”

 

“I could.” Jimin won’t. But he will struggle.

 

“If a deer jumps into the road and we have to stop suddenly, the momentum will send you out the windshield.”

 

“Drive around the deer, then. I’m not putting the belt on.”

 

Jungkook twists the key again and the van stops rumbling. “Then no fish for you.”

 

“Fine.” 

 

It’s not fine. Jimin wants to see a fish up close. He wants to meet a bird that isn’t too high to reach. He’s intrigued at the concept of a snake that can’t break out of its confines through manipulation and disguise.

 

“Jimin,” Jungkook says, his voice low, like a warning. 

 

“Jungkook,” Jimin mimics in his tone. 

 

Jungkook sighs. “I didn’t want to have to do this,” he says. 

 

His heartbeat skips from frustration to exhilaration. Jimin is about to ask why when the words catch in his throat as Jungkook undoes his own seatbelt and leans into Jimin’s space, so close that Jimin has to press his back into the door to avoid contact. Jungkook presses his palm against the window behind Jimin to hold himself up and to keep Jimin from running. He’s almost as close as they were when they did a kiss, not yet touching. 

 

“Put your belt on,” he says, centimeters from Jimin’s face.

 

Jimin can’t find his voice, so he shakes his head. He can’t suppress his dust either, escaping from him in a color he’s never felt before. It’s pink, it barely shimmers, and it isn’t pale. It’s almost red. He isn’t angry. It’s definitely not anger. 

 

“I’ll kiss you,” Jungkook whispers. 

 

“Okay.”

 

“If you put the belt on.”

 

Jimin shakes his head again, looking at his melting smoothie between their seats, his lap, anywhere but right in front of him. Jungkook touches Jimin’s cheek, running his finger from his cheekbone to his jaw, then tilts Jimin’s face up to look directly at him. He shivers, though the feeling is not unwelcome, and he isn’t afraid. 

 

Jungkook inches closer until Jimin can feel his breath ghost his lips, when suddenly Jungkook pulls back, taking the seatbelt from behind Jimin and letting it go to snap over his torso. 

 

Jimin yelps and jumps in his seat, quickly tugging the belt. It locks when he yanks it away, and he can’t extend it any further. When he reaches for the red button, Jungkook covers it with his hand. 

 

“I promise you’re safer like this. I know it might be triggering, and believe me, I hate how they feel too. But I won’t put you in danger. And I also want you to meet a friendly snake for the first time. Can you keep it on for a few minutes?”

 

“No.”

 

“Please?”

 

After relaxing into the seat, Jimin doesn’t mind the belt as much as he thought he would. But his human biology is too prideful, too stubborn. 

 

“Make a contract with me,” Jimin offers. He isn’t even sure his human body is capable of that kind of bond. Jungkook doesn’t know that. He never told Jungkook what a contract is. 

 

“Sure.”

 

“If I wear this useless belt, you have to kiss me when I take it off.” He doesn’t specify when he gets to take it off. 

 

“You can’t take it off until I tell you to. I’ve read fantasy novels. I know how you pixies do your little tricks and schemes.”

 

Jimin huffs. “No you don’t.”

 

“You offer a deal with a double meaning, and you get to choose what it means.”

 

“Not every time.” 

 

Jimin doesn’t ask how he knows, or he’ll know it to be true. He’s bluffing. Jimin can recognize a bluff because he’s bluffing to.

 

“I believe you,” Jungkook lies. “Fine, let’s make a deal.”

 

“A contract.”

 

“Yeah, that.”

 

That was quick. Jimin didn’t even explain the rules yet.

 

“If you break the contract your spirit will never leave the spot where you broke it.”

 

“I won’t break it. Do we have to shake on it or something?”

 

“Don’t shake anything. Give me your hand.”

 

Jungkook offers his hand and Jimin turns it palm up. Nothing happens. His wrist is still clean, bearing no mark of a pixie. Jimin tries not to let it show that he can’t bond a contract in this body, so he stares hard, even squinting to make Jungkook think he is actually doing something. If it worked, he would already be tattooed to his elbow. 

 

“There.” Jimin drops his hand. “If you break a contract, you’ll die.”

 

Jungkook inspects his wrist and his hand all over, holding it close to his face, even sniffing it, and finds no difference. 

 

“What did you do?”

 

“That’s how pixies bond a contract. If either of us breaks it, our spirit will suffer.”

 

“That’s so dramatic.” 

 

“You agreed.”

 

Suspicious, Jungkook checks his wrist one more time before turning the key again and the van begins to move.

 

Jimin finishes the rest of his smoothie and stares at his lap for most of the journey. Looking outside at how quickly things go by unaccompanied by his wings cutting through the air does something to his body that makes him feel like his insides are moving, and it makes his head hurt trying to keep up with the constantly changing pace. 

 

Occasionally he looks over to Jungkook, who has only looked away from the road in front of them a couple times to see out the windows on either side. When he pushes the wheel in front of him, the van listens and changes directions accordingly. When he adjusts his feet, the van accelerates and slows. It reminds Jimin of how warriors command their horses.

 

“Do you want to listen to some music?” Jungkook asks.

 

Jimin shakes his head, afraid that if he speaks his insides will collapse. 

 

Pity. 

 

“Looking out the window might help you feel less motion-sick.”

 

“This didn’t happen last time.”

 

“You were less human then,” Jungkook laughs. “You’ve spent too much time around humans, maybe we’re starting to spread our icky human biology to you.”

 

“I’m not human.”

 

Jungkook loses his smile. “I was joking.”

 

“Your joke wasn’t funny. I’m not human.” 

 

Jimin is not any more human than before. Humans don’t have dust. Humans get sick. Humans don’t have wings. Jimin is a pixie. Even if his wings are gone. Even if his body is reacting to motion the way a human’s would. 

 

“Sorry. We’re almost there.”

 

Seokjin explained that humans are sometimes able to feel things inside their body, but only when it hurts. They are overcome with viruses and bacteria that make them sick in a way similar to how pixies feel when they haven’t had an active contract in too long. 

 

Jimin never felt sick before. He never knew how awful it would make his whole body feel. Of all the realms and all the fauna, he has to be trapped in a human body susceptible to falling sick and injured at the slightest inconvenience. It really is a wonder how they have survived and conquered their realm for so long. 

 

The next time the van stops, Jungkook takes the key from the wheel and the van stops roaring. When Jimin looks up, they’re surrounded by tall concrete buildings similar to yet smaller than the ones surrounding the Magic Shoppe. There are fewer glowing glyphs and less color. 

 

Dozens of humans crowd the concrete roads and cars of all colors and sizes zip by in every direction. It isn’t until the van stops rumbling that Jimin can hear the hundreds of heartbeats in the area. 

 

Joy. Anxiety. Elation. Frustration. Exhaustion. Pleasure. Guilt. Many more that Jimin can’t think of the word for. The humans walking near the road never cross in front of the cars, staying on the raised edges while they talk with other humans, open doors, and climb into and out of cars. 

 

One of the cars passing in front of them beyond a line of bushes and saplings holds at least twenty people, with only one person turning the wheel. It’s loud and colorful, displaying pictures of human faces and glyphs overlapping. Some of them are smiling. Many of them are not. None of the humans here sound anything like a doctor. 

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Jungkook’s voice pulls Jimin back into the van.

 

“I can hear them all,” Jimin says. 

 

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t think about that. I didn’t expect there to be so many people downtown. We can go back—”

 

“No. I want to meet a friendly snake.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“I’m fine.”

 

If Jimin focusses on just the heartbeat next to him, he manages to dampen the noise from the rest. They still ring loud in his ears, but they don’t distract him from where he is—in the van with Jungkook. 

 

“Where are the snakes?” Jimin asks. 

 

Jungkook gestures behind them, beyond a row of motionless cars, to a brick-red building with tall windows above outlines of various fauna from the human realm. Jimin recognizes the shapes of a dog, a cat, and a species of rodent blacked out against the wall. The glass reflects the sun and the buildings around them so Jimin can’t see inside. 

 

“There are a couple things to go over before we go in. Some rules.”

 

“You want another contract?” Jimin can bluff another contract. 

 

“You’re cute,” Jungkook says. “It’s nothing that serious. Rule number one—no telling people what emotions they’re feeling. That’s suspicious.”

 

“I can pretend to be a human. Can we see the snakes now?”

 

“Rule number two,” Jungkook holds up two fingers, “I know it’s going to be hard, but try not to get dust all over the pet shop. Humans don’t leak dust.”

 

“I know.”

 

“You might get excited.”

 

“I can hold it in.”

 

“I believe you. Otherwise I wouldn’t have taken you out here. Rule three,” Jungkook pulls Jimin’s mask from his pocket. “This stays on. There are cameras in there, but security camera quality sucks, so as long as most of your face is covered, no one should recognize you from the news.”

 

Jimin wraps the mask around his ears and pulls it under his chin. 

 

“That was hours away, so I’m not too worried about that. But, just in case, you know?”

 

“I understand. Can we go in?”

 

“Rule four,” Jungkook says, “And this is the last one. Have fun. Oh, and don’t break anything. Actually, you know what, there’s a couple more. Don’t put your hands in the fish tanks. Don’t tap on the glass or the cages. The animals are for looking, not touching, unless I say so.”

 

“Can I make a rule?” Jimin asks. 

 

“Go ahead.”

 

“Don’t get eaten by a snake.”

 

“That’s a good rule,” Jungkook laughs as he releases his seatbelt. “Okay.” He lets out a deep breath and claps and hands together. “Ready?”

 

“You forgot already,” Jimin says. He looks down at the red button, then back up at Jungkook, giving him a minute to remember for himself.

 

“What am I forgetting?” Jungkook asks. His heart speeds up with something akin to excitement. He remembers.

 

“You don’t want your soul to wander this metal box forever, do you?”

 

“Ah, right. The contract,” Jungkook says. “You may release the belt.”

 

Jimin slams his hand into the button and yanks the belt away from his body as far back as it will go before it coils next to his seat.

 

Jungkook sighs in fake disappointment that Jimin knows is fake because he can hear the anticipation in his heart.

 

“I guess I have to kiss you now, don’t I?”

 

“That’s what we agreed to.”

 

Jimin doesn’t expect his body to react how it does, and so suddenly. Heat flashes from his stomach to his neck before Jungkook does anything beyond leaning closer. He hasn’t even touched him, yet the anticipation has Jimin’s heart vibrating. 

 

He tries to keep his dust in, but it bursts out the second Jungkook’s hands cup either side of his face. Jungkook pulls Jimin to meet him in the middle of their seats, crashing his lips into Jimin’s harder than their previous series of kisses. It doesn’t last as long but still leaves Jimin heaving, his head spinning by the time Jungkook pulls back. 

 

The dust is magenta again. It piles on the seats and settles all over the flashing buttons and dials. Most of it lands in their hair and on their clothes.

 

“So messy,” Jungkook whispers as he shakes a cloud of dust out of his hair and brushes it onto the seats. Jimin does the same. He can’t get everything out. 

 

“I tried not to,” Jimin says. “I don’t know what that emotion was, so I didn’t know how to stop it.”

 

“Oh?” Jungkook raises an eyebrow. “What did it feel like?”

 

“It made my neck and cheeks warm. And my stomach did that thing, like that feeling when you take off from a high place and fall before—never mind. You don’t have wings.”

 

“I know the feeling. Humans call it—well, this is going to sound weird. We call the feeling ‘butterflies’ in your stomach.”

 

“Your stomach acid would kill a butterfly. That’s ridiculous.”

 

“I know, right? I don’t know who came up with that.” Jungkook pulls Jimin’s mask over his nose and does the same with his. 

 

Most of the dust falls from their clothes when the wind hits as they step out of the van. Jimin can smell the ocean not far from here, mixed with the scent of human foods and chemicals in the air. All the human’s heartbeats carry their emotions to Jimin’s ears, and he tries to drown this out with the harp song coming from Jungkook’s. 

 

Jimin stops when they reach the doors.

 

Jungkook waits with his hand on the door. “We can go back if you’re—”

 

“I’m not scared. Open it.”

 

“You sure?”

 

Jimin pushes the door himself. It’s warmer inside, and more colorful. He smells a hundred different things at once, all blended into one familiar scent that reminds Jimin a wizard’s shop he frequently visited at home to exchange contract bounties and dust for information on contract seekers. He never purchased potions that weren’t part of an ongoing contract, never explored the insides. There were animals in cages hanging from the ceilings, but they usually weren’t for sale.

 

In front of them, a human waits behind a waist-high stand where two other humans have brought items to purchase. To his surprise, human shops appear to run in a similar fashion to potion shops. There is no animosity between the shopkeeper and the patrons like Jimin expected. 

 

“Welcome in!” the human behind the stand greets, making direct eye contact with Jimin that sends his mind into immediate defense.

 

They don’t want to hurt him. If they did, Jungkook wouldn’t have brought him here. 

 

The human’s gaze doesn’t linger as Jimin’s does. They turn to a machine and press a series of buttons that ends in a sound similar to the monotone beeping of the machines Jimin was hooked up to through tubes and wires under his skin. 

 

The operating room flashes in front of him, replacing the human at the machine with a doctor wielding an injection. It doesn’t last. Jungkook’s hand on Jimin’s back ushering him further into the shop makes the image disappear. He didn’t lose any dust. He is okay. Jungkook is here. 

 

“What do you want to look at first?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“I want to see the snakes.”

 

“Me too.”

 

Jimin takes Jungkook’s hand in both of his and lets Jungkook guide him guide him away from the entrance, past colorful boxes and crates and bags, all displaying various fauna of Terra. Jungkook pulls Jimin to an area where shelves stretch higher than Jimin can reach, lined with glass and dividers, each housing a habitat filled with foliage and terrain in similar fashion to the animal’s natural habitat. 

 

Jimin stops to stare at the cluster of glass cages exhibiting different Terra amphibians and reptiles until he lands on a familiar looking frog he met in a documentary. He drops Jungkook’s hand to bend down to the level of the enclosure and stares at the neon green red-eyed tree frog. 

 

“How do they get the animals to agree to staying in the cages?” Jimin asks. 

 

“They ask nicely,” Jungkook lies. 

 

“They don’t ask, do they?”

 

Jimin presses a finger to the glass in front of the tree frog, unmoving and unblinking on the highest leaf. He remembers being behind a glass wall against his will, not even considering escaping for so long because every attempt felt pointless. He wonders how many times the tree frog has tried to escape without succeeding. 

 

“How do we free him?”

 

“You buy him.”

 

“Are we going to buy him?”

 

The cheerless tune in Jungkook’s heart tells him no. Jungkook kneels next to him and places his hand on Jimin’s back. Jimin doesn’t feel any better.

 

“Is that a doctor?” Jimin asks, looking at the human at the counter again to get a read on his heart. 

 

Their heart beats so calmly and quietly Jimin has to concentrate directly on them to get a read on their emotions. The human longs for something. 

 

“I don’t think so. I think they’re just someone who works here trying to pay bills.”

 

Jimin looks up at Jungkook. “What’s bills?” 

 

“Bills suck. Don’t worry about them. And don’t worry about the frog. He doesn’t even know he’s in a cage.”

 

“How can he not know? He’s looking right at me.” Jimin drops his finger from the glass. The tree frog hasn’t moved at all. 

 

“As long as he’s fed and has stimulation, it’s not actually that bad of a life.” It’s not a lie, but Jungkook doesn’t fully believe his own words. “When someone comes in to buy him, they’ll give him lots of love and attention. Out in the wild, he would probably be dead by now. Some bigger lizard would have come along and eaten him.”

 

“Why do humans get to decide who’s eaten and who lives?”

 

“Let’s look at the snakes!” Jungkook pulls Jimin up by his shoulders and nudges him toward the end of the wall of glass and lowers his voice. “And save the conversations about humanity for the van, okay? You are one right now.”

 

Jimin shudders at the idea. He’ll never be one of them. He is different because his ego doesn’t extend his perception so much that he thinks he has a claim on the laws of nature herself. 

 

Just by scanning the glass Jimin can tell humans don’t view the animals in their realm as equals. Even Jungkook doesn’t seem to think it’s strange to keep something in a cage in an arrogant attempt to coddle it from nature. 

 

“See? A friendly snake,” Jungkook says as he points at a cage at eye level.

 

Jimin wouldn’t believe it if it weren’t right in front of him. Jungkook didn’t lie. There is an actual, living snake behind a wall of glass, and it’s tiny. The snake is orange with deep red spots lining its scales, and it looks and sounds nothing like a real snake. Its eyes don’t glow red and it hisses instead of speaking in rhymes. 

 

When Jimin makes eye contact with the snake, it doesn’t tell him how and when he is going to die. It doesn’t unhinge its jaw and snap at him to swallow him whole. The snake in front of him couldn’t even bite off his finger. It’s not even a snake. 

 

“That’s not a snake,” Jimin says. 

 

“Really?” Jungkook points at a script underneath the glass next to a picture of a similar, smaller snake. “Because that says ‘corn snake.’ Look, her name is Lucy.”

 

Jimin’s attention snaps back to the snake, still unmoving. She didn’t react to her name. It’s impossible she didn’t hear it from this far away, like this snake doesn’t have a concept of her name. If she did, she would have enslaved Jungkook’s spirit already. 

 

“That’s not Lucy. He’s much larger than that.”

 

“You know a snake named Lucy?”

 

“That’s just how we refer to him. Saying a snake’s name allows them to enter your spirit and steal it.”

 

“What’s his real name?”

 

Jimin hesitates, wondering if the snake named Lucy is playing one of her games, tricking Jimin into thinking she has no real concept of her own existence. Her eyes are soulless and black, and she doesn’t have a heartbeat he can hear. 

 

“Lucifer,” Jimin whispers. 

 

He winces, waiting for Lucy to snap at him, laugh in his face and call him a fool for believing in a human over his own knowledge. She only blinks and remains coiled and emotionless. 

 

“Holy shit,” Jungkook breathes. “That’s something I wish I didn’t know.”

 

“You asked.”

 

“Wish I didn’t.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I don’t like the idea that you know a snake named Lucifer.”

 

“How do you know about Lucifer?”

 

“I’ll teach you about human religion another time. Let’s look at the gerbils.”



There are two other humans standing in front of the wall of rodents, an adult with long black hair like Siyeon’s and a human child wearing a smaller version of the adult’s brown jacket to match. The child sits in the other human’s arms as it points at a pile of white rats with red eyes nestled together in the corner of their cage filled with sparkly purple tubes and covered in sawdust.

 

Jimin hears nothing but joy and something warm from their hearts, especially the child. It plays like a flute, higher and quicker in tune from Jungkook’s, and conveys the same level of coziness. 

 

When the child sees him, Jimin freezes. The child loses its smile and presses itself against who Jimin assumes is its mother. It hides its face, peering out from behind its mother’s shoulder, sees that Jimin is still watching it, and ducks behind its mother again. 

 

Jimin knew humans grow larger after they are born, however, he never expected a child to be so small compared to humans. 

 

“Oh, sorry, are we in your way?” the mother asks when she sees Jimin staring at her child. 

 

“No, you’re good,” Jungkook says. He speaks to her the way he does with Siyeon, without caution, and she responds with a smile, unsuspicious and kind. “We came to see the gerbils. The rats are cute too, though.”

 

The mother turns to face them directly, hoisting her child up further into her arms. “I know, right? Dad doesn’t think so, though, does he?” she asks her child. It shies into her shoulder. “I take her here to see them, ‘cause they’re her favorite.”

 

She talks like she is familiar with Jungkook. Like she feels safe, even when confronted with a human like Jungkook, who is much taller and broader than she, and could easily outrun her. She doesn’t even stand between her child and Jungkook. 

 

“My dad never wanted to let me have a rat either. But that was mostly because of our cats. It’s safer for them in there, I guess.” Jungkook gestures to the glass. His voice raises and he addresses the child directly, “They look comfy all snuggled up like that, don’t they?” 

 

Jungkook has a father?

 

The child whispers to its mother, who laughs and hikes her up higher on her hip again. 

 

“Yes, I’ll ask him.” The mother turns back to Jungkook. “She asked if you know that rats are one of the cleanest house pets?” 

 

“I didn’t,” Jungkook lies, his voice still high in an attempt to connect with the child. 

 

“They have four of them in her classroom, so now she wants a hundred of them.” 

 

Jungkook cringes. “Yikes. Maybe when she’s old enough to clean the cage by herself, right?”

 

The mother rolls her eyes. “Can’t even get her to clean her room, can I?” she mumbles, pressing her face close to her child’s. 

 

It giggles before locking eyes with Jimin again. It’s not scared, something like curious, like it doesn’t know what to make of Jimin.

 

The mother looks at Jimin for the first time, expecting him to say something. He doesn’t.

 

“Sorry, she’s probably just staring because of your hair. Orange is her favorite color. Do you dye it yourself?”

 

“Die?” Jimin repeats. 

 

“He gets it done,” Jungkook says.

 

Jimin understands every word separately, even though the implications are lost to him as if they’re speaking in code. 

 

“It looks great,” the mother says. “Sorry, we’ll get out of your way now. It’s almost nap time, anyways.”

 

Jungkook already said she wasn’t in their way. They were going to look at the gerbils, not rats. 

 

“Rats are gonna be alone,” the child whines. 

 

“They’ll keep them company until we come back, okay?” the mother says as she turns the corner. 

 

“We’ll make sure they don’t get lonely,” Jungkook says in the tone he uses to communicate with the child.  

 

It makes the mother laugh. She holds up her hand and waves it back and forth, and Jungkook copies the motion, smiling bright as they leave the store. 

 

Jimin feels lightheaded from how tense he unknowingly became. He doesn’t notice until the mother and child are gone, and he relaxes his shoulders. 

 

“You knew her?” Jimin asks. 

 

“Nope,” Jungkook says, scouring the glass walls to find the gerbils he keeps mentioning. 

 

“But she wasn’t scared of you.”

 

“Nope.” Jungkook bends low, peering into one of the ground-level cages.

 

“Even when you looked at her child.”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook stops his search to look at Jimin.

 

“What? Did her heart do the scared thing?”

 

“No. That’s what I don’t understand. You’re clearly stronger than her. And she thought she was in your way. You could have killed her—”

 

“Ah ah ah!” Jungkook rushes to press a finger to Jimin’s mask, cutting him off. “Nope. No murder talk. Humans don’t always want to hurt each other. Sometimes we have friendly conversations with people we don’t know.”

 

“Why?” Jimin says, his words muffled through Jungkook’s finger.

 

“It makes us happy. Believe it or not, most humans don’t want to see other humans get hurt.”

 

Jimin doesn’t believe it, but he drops it until he can ask questions freely in the van.

 

“What did she mean about my hair?”

 

“She asked where you got it colored orange.” He runs his hand through Jimin’s hair. “This color isn’t natural for humans. Sometimes people get their hair artificially dyed.”

 

Jungkook continues his search for a gerbil. Jimin follows him, one step behind.

 

“Died,” Jimin repeats. “Human hair can die?”

 

“Not d-i-e. It’s d-y-e, like when you alter something with chemicals to change the color.”

 

“You said I ‘got it done’?”

 

“That means a professional hairdresser made your hair orange—aha!” Jungkook points at a cage on the ground and beckons Jimin over. “Behold, a gerbil.”

 

The gerbil in the cage looks exactly like every other rodent in the isle, soulless and clueless to its captivity.

 

“I know, it’s not that interesting. I was just really committed to finding one.”

 

“It’s,” he can’t lie and say it’s interesting, “a gerbil.”

 

Jimin kneels next to Jungkook and stares into the cage. “It isn’t uninteresting,” he tries again.

 

“Birds next?” Jungkook asks.

 

“Show me the birds.”

 

The animals can’t communicate with humans at all, and most humans who pass by don’t even try to get their attention. They only stare at their cages and without thinking about helping them escape. 

 

Seokjin explained the concept of a zoo. Jimin understands how useless the animals inside must feel seeing all these humans pass by just to stare and move on without a second thought. 

 

Behind another isle of rodents, the corner of the shop is filled with metal cages in different sizes, colors, and types of birds. Only half of them are occupied, and none of the birds are as large as a seagull. Jimin hoped there would be at least one seagull. 

 

None of the cages are more than a meter tall. The birds are unable to spread their wings fully without running into a post or another bird. 

 

Jungkook stops to look at a pair of light blue birds in a white cage. The script attached to the cage labels them as parakeets

 

“Will they ever know how high they can fly?” Jimin asks. 

 

“If the right person adopts them, yes.” 

 

Jungkook peruses the cages while Jimin stays near the parakeets. They’re the same size Jimin was. The cage he was kept in was smaller and made of glass, and instead of colorful fake foliage and a layer of sawdust at the bottom, Jimin’s cage was cold and empty save for a pile of glass shards covered in his blood and one metal sheet near the top where Jimin could rest. 

 

This is what the man with fake eyes saw when he studied Jimin in his confines. Just because he couldn’t communicate with Jimin, and refused to, he viewed him as a possession.

 

Jungkook rejoins Jimin at the parakeet’s cage. 

 

“They’re really pretty aren’t they?” he says. “I wish I had space in my apartment to live with a bird. The ceilings are too low and I’m pretty sure my landlord would kick me out if I brought one back. These are kinda small, though.” Jungkook bends down to eye level with the parakeets and presses his face so close to the cage his nose almost touches the metal. 

 

“That’s small to you?”

 

“Yeah, these guys are small. Some birds are even bigger than humans, so most humans don’t mess with them. For a house pet, though, they’re the perfect size.”

 

Something that small is the perfect size for a pet. If Jungkook met Jimin when he was this small, he might have viewed Jimin as a pet, too.

 

“Would a human this size be perfect as a house pet?”

 

“Humans don’t keep other humans as pets.” Jungkook moves to the next cage to watch several smaller blue and green birds fly around, chirping and singing like they would in their natural habitat, because as far as they know, this is where they belong. 

 

“But you keep winged animals that are this big as pets, and that’s fine,” Jimin affirms quietly. 

 

When Jimin feels a buildup of dust in his system that wants to escape in a plume of blue, he holds his breath and forces it down. There’s no logical reason for him to feel anything for the birds, or for the hypothetical situation in which Jungkook would have viewed Jimin as something helpless, a possession. 

 

Jimin’s human biology betrays him and he loses a small puff that barely extends his own shoulders. 

 

“Yeah, that’s fine—”

 

It takes a second for Jungkook to connect the dust and Jimin’s uncontrollable expression of dejection.

 

“Wait, no,” Jungkook reaches for Jimin’s hand, “If you were—I wouldn’t if it were you, that’s different. It's only because they're not human—"

 

"I'm not human."

 

“They’re birds.”

 

“I’m a—”

 

“A human in a public space with other humans who wants to look at colorful fish, right?”

 

Jimin feels gross on the inside at the implication that he could ever be mistaken for a real human. 

 

“Okay. Show me fish,” Jimin says. 

 

At the far end of the shop, past the snakes and frogs and the humans making bargains with the shop owner, up two steps to a raised room, glass tanks filled with water line the walls and create isles. None of the fish at home are as small, though most are similar in shape and color. He recognizes some breeds like catfish and plecos, and there are some he has never encountered before. 

 

The first fish tank to catch his eye houses two of the larger fish in the shop surrounded by snails and a crab that looks too content in captivity to be a real crab. The fish are striped black over white and painted yellow at the ends of their fins. 

 

“That’s an angel fish. And that little guy is a crab,” Jungkook says, pointing to the mindless crab crawling underneath one of the fish. 

 

“There are no real crabs here,” Jimin says. 

 

“No real snakes either, right?”

 

“Right.”

 

“That was sarcasm.”

 

“That wasn’t a real snake.”

 

“Maybe your snakes are fake.”

 

They’re not, and Jungkook knows it. Jimin’s human impatience for sarcasm outweighs Jimin’s patients and he leaves Jungkook by the angel fish to look around the isle. 

                                                                                             

Some of the fish cling to the glass and chew like they’re trying to eat through it. None of them display a personality or have heartbeat that Jimin can hear. Emotionlessness makes a prisoner easy to deal with. It must be how humans separate the ones who get to live from the ones who die. The animals with free thinking and a larger range of emotions are left to be eaten by their natural predators, while the ones who will easily comply are chosen as displays and pets. 

 

Jimin loses sight of Jungkook behind a row of fish tanks as the harp in his heart carries over the isle. Jimin doesn’t mind being alone until four more humans join them by the fish. They look somewhere between a child and an adult and their hearts ring with indifference, almost annoyance when they see Jimin. 

 

He avoids the humans by ducking down to watch the fish until one of the humans stares into the tank next to him and he can hear their heart speed up.

 

Intrigue. Curiosity. It’s directed at Jimin, not the fish.  

 

The human’s eyes dart between the tanks and Jimin. He sidesteps to the next tank filled mostly with foliage, inhabited by six axolotls. Finally, an animal the right size. They look as playful as a real axolotl, just as clueless.

 

Anxiety. It’s an unfamiliar chord coming from the human next to him. Their hair is pulled into a knot behind their head and their hands shoved into the pockets in their coat. They move in Jimin’s direction every time he steps away. 

 

“I want a turtle,” one of the humans at the end of the room says. 

 

“Then buy it.”

 

“You know I don’t have that kind of money.”

 

Disappointment.

 

Money is a material item humans use to exchange for services and more desirable items. Doctors frequently talk about money. They refer to a being known as the Highest Bidder when discussing what to do with the parts they stole from Jimin. The Highest Bidder is someone whom every doctor lives to please in hopes one day it they will grant the doctor a sum of money equal to the objects they desire. 

 

One doctor spoke of exchanging Jimin’s human teeth for a sum of money equal to that of a house. Another talked about selling his wings before the man with the fake eyes exiled them. Jimin never saw that doctor again. 

 

“Do you have any fish?” the human asks. Their voice is high and they are looking directly at Jimin. 

 

If he doesn’t respond he will look suspicious. He can hear Jungkook across the tanks, too far away to ask for instruction. 

 

Jimin shakes his head, avoiding eye contact.

 

“You’re just looking, then? Me too,” the human says.

 

“I’m looking,” Jimin says. 

 

He doesn’t expect the rush that comes from the exchange. There is no ill will behind their heart’s song. Just like the human talking with Jungkook, this human longs for a verbal connection to another human. They don’t know that Jimin isn’t what they’re looking for. 

 

“Have I seen you on campus?”

 

Jimin’s heart spikes, his body reacting to the question as if it were a threat.

 

Say nothing, risk suspicion. Say the wrong thing and they will suspect he’s lying. 

 

“I’m not on campus,” Jimin says. He’s getting better at keeping his dust inside. Not a single particle escapes despite his racing heart. 

 

Not many humans want to see other humans get hurt, is what Jungkook told him.  

 

They think Jimin is a human.

 

“Oh, then, do you work at the mall?”

 

The mall. Jimin never learned about the mall. Asking would look suspicious. Answering incorrectly would look suspicious. Running like his human adrenaline screams at him to do would look suspicious. 

 

“Sorry, that was a weird thing to ask,” the human says. “I just wanted an excuse to talk to you, but I could have just said ‘hello,’ right?” They laugh nervously. 

 

“Right,” Jimin agrees. 

 

“So, uh, hi. I’m Minji.” 

 

Jimin flinches and steps away from the tanks when the human Minji reaches for him, dodging her attack. 

 

“I’m so sorry!” Minji gasps. “I didn’t mean to scare you! I’m not great at this.” Minji drops their hand and plays with the bottom of their jacket. Minji doesn’t leave try to grab Jimin again. 

 

“I’m not scared,” Jimin says. 

 

Jimin focuses on Minji’s heart instead of his own predispositions. Minji doesn't want to hurt him. He hasn’t exposed himself yet. 

 

Jimin isn’t great at this. 

 

“I’m not great at doing this either,” he says. 

 

Minji smiles a genuine smile that matches the tune in their heart, light and curious. 

 

“I didn’t catch your name,” Minji says. 

 

Jimin never offered his name. By law, if Minji didn’t ask for Jimin to give his name and tells the human, they can’t take it from him. Jungkook didn’t tell the mother his name and the mother didn’t offer hers, so humans don’t need names to communicate. It will be fine if Jimin doesn’t mention his.

 

“I don’t want to tell you my name.”

 

Rejection. Minji’s smile fades. Shame.

 

“Sorry for bothering you,” Minji says, bowing slightly before returning to their companions. 

 

When Minji disappears behind the isle, Jungkook rounds the corner. Jimin didn’t realize how anxious he had felt until Jungkook’s harp tune grows stronger and levels his emotions. Jungkook sounds proud.   

 

“Did I do it right?” Jimin asks. 

 

Jungkook stops in front of Jimin and ruffles his hair. Some stray magenta dust falls to the floor.

 

“That was adorable,” he says. 

 

“Was it right?”

 

“Which part?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Jimin shakes Jungkook’s hand off his head. Something about the action feels demeaning. 

 

“Did you hear the human speak?”

 

“I heard it. She looked really upset. You did your best.” 

 

“She wasn’t upset the whole time. She was happy and then suddenly felt shame. I did exactly what you did during your interaction, and the mother didn’t leave upset. So, what did I not do right?”

 

“You did nothing wrong,” Jungkook pauses, looks around the empty isle, then lowers his voice. “But a human would have given their name, even if they didn’t want to flirt. Unless they felt threatened. Where you scared of her?”

 

“I’m not scared. Even a human like you stronger than the human Minji.”

 

Jungkook laughs again, this time at Jimin. Again, it’s demeaning. 

 

“If we had longer than a month, maybe I’d teach you some social skills like flirting and not constantly telling everyone how strong you are.”

 

“But I’m—”

 

“Yes. I know,” Jungkook sighs, “Trust me, I know it’s true, but if you ran into the wrong human, they might think you’re a dick.”

 

“What’s a dick?”

 

Jungkook snorts. He won’t stop laughing at Jimin, even when he’s not doing sarcasm or saying a joke. 

 

“It’s like a rude person. It’s someone other humans don’t want to be around.”

 

“I don’t want humans around me, so it’s a good thing I’m a dick.”

 

Jungkook is about to say something. He doesn’t. He bites his lip to keep from laughing. Jimin is missing something. 

 

“Did you see the betta fish yet?” Jungkook asks.

 

“No. Show me.”

 

Jungkook pulls Jimin alongside him to the last isle and turns him to a row of small tanks housing only one fish each. 

 

The fish in these tanks are more colorful than any of the others, and possibly the most colorful animal in the shop. They range from dark blues and black to neon pinks and white, and when they move, their scales flash in different colors and reflect the lights in their tanks. 

 

Fish like this don’t exist at home. Jimin would have heard of them and their beauty. They float with the grace of a butterfly and the hard expression of a mermaid on a hunt. 

 

The betta fish on the furthest tank captivates Jimin. The bottom edges of its fins are painted forest green that fades into brown into a bright orange at the center and around the majority of its body. Jimin recognizes the pattern and hues. He can hear his wings call out to him from the colors. 

 

“That one’s pretty,” Jungkook says. “I like the colors.”

 

“It looks like me,” Jimin says, lost in the betta’s soulless black eyes. “Those are my colors.” 

 

“You mean, when you’re…”

 

“My wings.” Jimin reaches to touch the tank, as if contact with the fish would bring him a sort of comfort. He longs for Jungkook to see his wings and tell him they’re just as beautiful. 

 

Jimin tears himself away from the glass and turns to Jungkook, reading something on his phone. Whatever it is makes him happy. 

 

Elation. Elation sounds good on Jungkook.

 

Jungkook doesn’t wait for Jimin to catch up, scanning one of the isles behind the fish that have no animals, only rocks and plants and small bottles with pictures of fish on them. He picks up a couple bottles before finding two that satisfy him.  

 

“I think that’s it,” Jungkook says, rolling the bottles between his hands. “We saw pretty much everything. Are you ready to go?”

 

He pulls Jimin to the entrance without giving him a chance to look back at the fish. It’s better Jimin doesn’t get too sad and lose blue dust all over the floor. 

 

Instead of pulling him out the door, Jungkook takes Jimin to the counter where they walked in. 

 

“How can I help you?” the shopkeeper asks. 

 

“We’d like one of your bettas,” Jungkook says. 

 

“Of course. Which one caught your eye?”

 

“The green and orange one, top right.” Jungkook points back at the fish tanks and the shopkeeper nods. He beams down at Jimin, shaking Jimin’s hand back and forth in his in his excitement. 

 

“I’ll have someone bring him down for you.” The shopkeeper summons another human through a box on their hip and relays Jungkook’s request. “Can I get a manager to the betta tanks? He wants the orange one on the top right,” the human says, followed by crunching static.

 

“Are you paying in cash or card?” 

 

“Card,” Jungkook says, setting the bottles he chose on the counter. 

 

The shopkeeper spins in the stool and presses buttons on the machine while Jungkook pulls a small book from his pocket. Right before he closes it, Jimin catches a picture that looks like Jungkook in the book, layered over several small slots and cards.

 

“One betta, water conditioner, and betta pellets,” the shopkeeper says as they press more buttons. “The card reader is ready when you are.” 

 

Jungkook’s card is not like a playing card or a tarot card. There are no pretty colors or fancy designs, just numbers too small for Jimin to read. 

 

After offering the card to the machine, Jungkook returns it to the book.

 

Another human, tall and bored, struts up to them holding a clear bag filled halfway with water. The green and orange betta swims violently into the edges. If Jimin could hear his heart, it would probably sound like anxiety and confusion. 

 

“Is this the one?” the human asks. 

 

“Yes! Thanks,” Jungkook says, taking a slip of paper from the shopkeeper.

 

Jungkook hands Jimin the bag. It’s not as heavy as he expected. Fish on Terra don’t weigh very much. He presses his hand to Jimin’s back to guide him to the door while Jimin stares at the fish, not even looking where he steps. 

 

He’s not sure what just happened, and why he suddenly has a bag and a fish in his hands. 

 

“What do you want me to do with this?” Jimin asks, not taking his eyes off the fish. He might be hearing a faint heartbeat, racing with confusion and fear. The harder Jimin concentrates on the fish, the louder it becomes. 

 

“All you have to do is keep him alive. I’ll show you how when we get back. I already texted Siyeon, she said he can stay in her spare shark tank.”

 

“Wait, we’re taking him to Siyeon’s house with us? How is he going to get back?”

 

Jungkook stops in front of the van, offering it a key and opening the door in front of Jimin. The seatbelt glares, and Jimin can already feel it constricting around his torso before he even touches it. 

 

Jungkook enters through the other door and makes the van roar again. 

 

“He’s not going back. We’re keeping him, so make sure to hold the bag steady until we get to the house. Can you do that?”

 

Jungkook purchased a fish. The fish belongs to Jungkook now. He freed the fish and wants to live with it—the fish that Jimin said looked like him. 

 

Jimin doesn’t know what to feel, if what he feels is the proper reaction. He doesn't know what the emotion is called, even when a cloud of pale purple lands on the seat. It is not fear he’s feeling.”

 

“Which one is lavender?” Jungkook asks, swiping his finger through the layer of dust. “Are you sad?”

 

“It’s happy category.” That’s all Jimin knows for sure. It’s something familiar he’s felt around Jungkook before. “Do you know grateful?” Jimin asks. 

 

“Is that what you’re feeling?”

 

“It might be what I’m feeling.”

 

“Then, you’re welcome.” 

 

“Where am I welcome?”

 

“When a human is grateful, they usually say the phrase ‘thank you,’ and the proper response is usually, ‘you’re welcome.’ So, you’re welcome. Now put on your seatbelt.” 

 

Jimin is not going to have this debate again. The seatbelt is staying where it is. He ignores Jungkook and looks at the fish in his lap, hoping Jungkook will move the van anyways. He doesn’t. 

 

“Please? Come on, I just bought you a fish.”

 

“That doesn’t mean I have to. We didn’t have a contract.”

 

Jungkook sighs. His heart loses its excitement and drops to annoyance. It’s not going to make Jimin change his mind. 

 

“I don’t want to have this discussion every time we get in the van, Jimin. You need to wear that for your own safety.”

 

“Make a contract with me,” Jimin says. 

 

“Oh my god.” Jungkook presses his forehead to the top of the spinning wheel. “Fine. What do you want?”

 

“I’ll wear the seatbelt until you tell me to take it off, and then we do a kiss.”

 

Jungkook groans. He’s smiling and trying to hide it. “You can’t just bargain for a kiss every time you want something.”

 

“You liked kissing.”

 

“But now you won’t do anything I ask without demanding a kiss.”

 

“Why should I have to?”

 

Jungkook’s shoulders drop. He sighs. Defeat

 

“You’re fucking adorable, did you know that?”

 

Jungkook called Jimin adorable before. This time it sounded more like an insult than a compliment.

 

“Fine, I’ll do it. No contract though, just words. I still have no idea what you did to my hand.”

 

Jimin likes pride. He’s accomplished something. He won an argument against a scholar. 

 

The fish doesn’t calm down, despite the lack of immediate danger. It’s unfortunate that the only life on Terra capable of higher thought is also one of the most brutal species across both realms. Humans take advantage of their intellect to enslave and abuse the other beings in their realm regardless of the lesser beings intentions. Humans can’t leave others alone in peace, even when there is nothing to gain. 

 

Most humans. Maybe not Jungkook. 

 

Even when the van pulls up to Siyeon’s house, the fish in his lap is still being attacked by his panic. Siyeon can give him some tea to calm him down, so Jimin he tries not to be worried.

 

“May I take it off?” Jimin asks when the van is quiet. 

 

“Hm… No.” Jungkook doesn’t even look at Jimin, releasing his own belt and dropping the key into his pocket. 

 

“Are we going somewhere else?”

 

“Nope.” 

 

“Then why?”

 

Jungkook’s expression cracks and a smile breaks through his features. Teasing. Sarcasm. The more Jungkook uses it, the more Jimin understands why. 

 

“I’m kidding. You may release the belt,” Jungkook says. 

 

Jimin presses the red button and looks at Jungkook, then down at the fish to hide his own expression. Jungkook is already leaning over the seat when Jimin turns to open the door by himself this time and hops out of the van, careful not to shake the fish too much, but quick enough to shut the door on Jungkook before he upholds his end of the deal. 

 

With no contract, no consequence, right?

 

Jimin can do sarcasm too. It’s fun. 

 

When Jimin hears Jungkook’s door shut, he walks briskly towards the house, keeping his arms level for the fish. 

 

“Jimin, aren’t you forgetting something?”

 

“No.” Jimin doesn’t turn back. If he does, Jungkook will see his giddiness and recognize it as sarcasm. 

 

Confusion sounds louder than rejection. Both are present behind Jimin and quickly catching up as he walks to the porch. 

 

Jimin arrives at the door first. He can’t open it without a key. The handle won’t budge. Siyeon can’t hear them from her cauldron and he doesn’t hear Bora in the house. 

 

“I’m sorry, it was a bad joke.” Jungkook turns Jimin around by his arm. “I’m sorry—” He stops when he sees Jimin smiling up at him as orange fills the cracks in the porch. 

 

Jimin quickly drops his smile, continuing the charade like he hasn’t already failed, and faces the door. 

 

“Open it,” he says. 

 

“Did you just—never mind.”

 

Jungkook pushes past him and offers the door the key. His heart is racing, but his expression doesn’t waver. Jungkook pauses at the handle. He turns it halfway, and in the same second, he grabs the bag from Jimin’s arms and pushes Jimin between himself and the door, trapping him against it. 

 

Before Jimin’s body can react to be frightened or threatened, Jungkook kisses him. The pressure between Jungkook’s body and the door hold him up when his legs fail, his system overwhelmed by the sudden feeling of butterflies flying in his stomach. 

 

This kiss is different. Jungkook presses their lips together harder, holding Jimin firmly into the door with his whole body, hands on Jimin’s waist, as he slides his lips against Jimin’s without disconnecting them. He feels something build up in his chest and release with a small sound quiet enough that he barely hears it himself. Jimin doesn’t know what to do, if he should be doing anything, but he likes it, so he holds Jungkook’s shoulders for support and lets Jungkook continue.  

 

Jimin shudders when Jungkook pulls back. His lips are red and shining, his hair and jacket covered in magenta dust. Jimin heaves until the dust settles completely. 

 

He braces when Jungkook leans back in, but instead of kissing Jimin, he stops with his cheek against Jimin’s, his mouth right next to Jimin’s ear. Jungkook’s breath is hot and Jimin has an even harder time staying standing. 

 

“Let’s get this guy into the tank,” Jungkook says, barely above a whisper. Had he not been so close Jimin might not have heard it over his own heartbeat.

 

This guy?

 

The fish, Jimin remembers. Jungkook bought Jimin a fish. 

 

 


 

 

“That’s disgusting,” Bora says, grinning as she hands Siyeon her broom. 

 

“Thanks, love.” 

 

Siyeon kneels on the porch and brushes dust mixed with dirt and pine needles into a pan, sifting it over a large glass jar. She’s filled up nine of them in the last week alone, curating more dust than any mage has seen in their lifetime. Ironic, considering the atmosphere on Terra.

 

“Do you think Jungkook knows he’ll never see him again, or is he just the kind of guy willing to risk it?”

 

Siyeon stops sifting, staring up at Bora who is leaned against the doorframe, her arms crossed and a soft blue hue in her aura. 

 

“What is he risking?” Siyeon asks. 

 

“He’ll get big sad when Jimin leaves. I mean, dude, it’s been a week and look what they’ve done to our porch!” She waves around the space for emphasis. The outer edge of her glow shifts to yellow, then fades back into indigo. “Do you think he knows Jimin is never coming back, or do you think he thinks there’s a chance he might?”

 

Siyeon spins the jar lid closed and hands it to Bora as she begins to fill the next. 

 

“I don’t know,” Siyeon says. “Whatever it is Jungkook has gotten involved in, it’s not within my vision any longer.”

 

“Because he was supposed to come with us to the bluebells?”

 

Even if Jungkook had followed her, Jimin still would not have been there. 

 

“I don’t know,” Siyeon says again. She has only truthfully said the phrase a handful of times. It pains her to admit. “The stars are out of order. All but two.”

 

“Mine and Jungkooks?”

 

“You’re right where you need to be, petal,” Siyeon says. The nickname turns Bora’s aura pink like the dust at their feet. 

 

“But we’re the only ones you don’t predict anymore,” Bora says. “Is that normal?”

 

“Nope, just the two.” 

 

“Well, I hope you don’t go falling for all the humans you can’t read,” Bora teases. 

 

Siyeon sifts the last of the dust into a half full jar and Bora puts it under her arm.

 

“I’ve only fallen for one.” Siyeon brushes off her skirt and stands, tapping Bora on the nose as she passes her. 

 

Bora scrunches her nose when loose dust floats from Siyeon’s hand into her face. 

 

“You’re cute.” Bora kicks the door closed behind her, following Siyeon down the stairs. 

 

Bora’s yellow glow lights the stairwell all the way to the bottom where she stops at the barrier, handing Siyeon the jars of dust.

 

“Wait a minute!” Bora’s voice echoes. “Which one? It’s me, right? You mean me? Siyeon!”

 

Siyeon speeds up, giggling when she passes through the barrier no human can reach.

 

"Always, love," she says as the door seals behind her. "It's always been you," she whispers.

 

Bora’s fiery yellow glow never fades, which is why, even if Bora has yet to find herself, Siyeon will always be able to find her.

 

Chapter Text

“Three fives,” Jungkook says, sliding two cards into the pile. 

 

“Bullshit,” Bora says. 

 

Jungkook hasn’t even let them go. He scowls and adds the whole stack of cards to his hand, scowling as he reorganizes them. 

 

“You have to wait until I set them down,” he mutters. 

 

“But I was right.”

 

Jimin has two tens, two fives, and an ace card left in his hand. Bora also has five cards left. Jungkook hasn’t had less than ten at a time. He isn’t very good at lying. 

 

Humans are so dependent on lying to other humans as a manipulation tactic that they invented games to train them how to lie. Bullshit is a game Bora suggested they play, not knowing or not caring that Jimin can hear when their hearts speed up. He hasn’t called anyone out. It would make Jungkook feel worse than he already does, and Bora has not lied yet. 

 

She also has not been wrong with her accusations once. Jimin can’t figure out what it is she’s looking for. She’s more observant than Jungkook and possibly even Jimin. 

 

Jimin drops his two tens and a five onto the coffee table. “Three tens,” he says. He learned he can bluff, even if he can’t lie, if he doesn’t specify the three tens to which he is referring. 

 

“Bullshit.”

 

“You don’t even have a ten in your hand,” Jungkook says. 

 

“But I was right.”

 

Jimin slowly returns the cards to his hand as Bora smirks at Jungkook. Jimin shuffles the cards back into his hand.

 

Bora drops three cards. “Three aces.”

 

“Bullshit,” Jungkook says. 

 

Bora flips the cards, revealing the remaining three aces. Jungkook swipes the cards and shoves them into his stack. 

 

“Four kings,” he says. 

 

Jimin waits for Bora to accuse Jungkook. Instead, she leans further into the couch and waits for Jimin’s turn. 

 

“Two tens,” Jimin says.

 

“Bullshit.”

 

“Why?” Bora asks. “You saw him pick up two tens just a second ago.”

 

Jungkook shrugs. “I have nothing to lose.”

 

Jimin flips the cards. Jungkook doesn’t even look annoyed anymore. 

 

Defeat. He’s completely given up.

 

Bora drops her last two cards. “Two threes.”

 

Jimin looks over to Jungkook, waiting for him to pick up on one of her tells. Other than her revealing heartbeat, Jimin hasn’t found one. Jungkook has too many tells to be good at a game like this.

 

“Bullshit,” Jimin says, hiding his face behind his cards to avoid Bora’s glare. 

 

Bora grins, flipping the cards. There are two threes on the table. 

 

Jungkook gasps. “Jimin, aren’t you a walking lie detector?” he asks.

 

Jimin can walk and he can detect the speed at which a human’s heart speeds up when they lie. He doesn’t understand either. 

 

“Don’t feel bad,” Bora says. “Not even Siyeon can predict me.”

 

“That’s creepy,” Jungkook says. 

 

He flings his pile and the cards scatter across the table. Several of them fall off the edge into Bora’s lap. Jungkook hates losing. It’s when he’s the most annoyed. 

 

“So! Now that you both know you can’t lie to me…” Bora’s heart speeds. Anticipation. 

 

The longer she pauses, the more nervous Jungkook becomes. He shifts from sitting on his crossed legs onto his knees, tensing beside Jimin. 

 

“Never mind, I’ll save it,” Bora says. “I have class in half an hour.”

 

Jungkook watches her closely as she takes a bag of books and scribing tools from the table. He calms once the door has shut behind her. 

 

“What did you think she was going to ask—”

 

“No reason!” Jungkook says. 

 

That wasn’t a proper response to Jimin’s question. 

 

“What do you want to learn about while she’s gone? I can teach you poker! Or another board game? Or we could watch a documentary!”

 

“I want to watch you meet other humans again.”

 

“That’s not really safe.” Guilt. “The cops might still be looking for you. Let’s watch a movie instead.” Jungkook finds the remote under the table and points it at the TV, lighting the screen instantly.

 

“I can wear a mask. I want to see how humans work from a primary source.”

 

“Do you want to watch another comedy? I can explain the jokes.” Jungkook scrolls down the selection page too quickly to see what the options are. “Jokes are always funnier when you have to explain them.” 

 

“I want to see other humans. You promised you’d help me learn about them.”

 

“I promised to help you get your wings back and protect you until your dust returned and you could ask your pixie friends for help.”

 

Jimin stands, positioning himself between Jungkook and the TV so he is forced to look at him. 

 

“Move, please.”

 

“Take me to other humans, please,” Jimin mimics. 

 

“We can watch humans meet other humans on TV.”

 

Jungkook will have the rest of his life to watch comedies and documentaries. Once Jimin goes home, he will never revisit Terra. His lack of human connection and memories of the torture will keep him away, and he won’t lie and say it doesn’t frighten him, if only a little, that the emotions he’s grown to appreciate will be wiped from his psyche and he will lose all connection to Jungkook. 

 

Jimin wants to go home with the accomplishment of having experienced everything he could in his short time here and have no desire to learn more. If even a shred of his human consciousness remains, he won’t be able to keep himself from wondering what else he could have learned. He won’t be sad. He won’t be able to comprehend an emotion such as sad. 

 

“Jimin, are you okay? Your dust is blue.”

 

“I won’t miss this,” Jimin whispers to make it true. 

 

“Miss what? The TV?”

 

“I’m not going to miss here. It doesn't matter.” Jimin gives up and falls onto the couch, curling his legs against his body to distance his vulnerable heart from the world. “Just pick a movie,” he says. 

 

What happened to making sure the other stays happy? The back and forth of his feelings around Jungkook make his stomach turn, and not in the euphoric butterfly way. His body feels tight from his abdomen to his throat and his breathing quickens despite his efforts to appear calm. 

 

Humans cry too often. Time moves too slow. Emotions come and go too quickly. The ups and downs of just one day to a human require more mental energy than he ever had to exert as a pixie. 

 

Jimin is a pixie, he reminds himself.

 

Without his wings, only his dust and the ability to hear Jungkook’s harp song change keys remind him of such. 

 

Jimin doesn’t notice Jungkook left the room until a wool jacket drops on his head. He tugs the jacket off and sees Jungkook standing directly above him wearing his leather jacket.

 

“Stop moping. We’re going on a walk.”

 

 


 

 

“Slow down, Jimin! I said this was a walk,” Jungkook says, jogging to keep up with Jimin. 

 

Jimin reminds Jungkook of a puppy anxious for his daily exercise. He pouts like one. He’s as adorable as one and runs just as fast. Jungkook should have bought a leash from the pet store when he had the chance. 

 

The thought puts an image in Jungkook’s mind he shakes away before it goes too far. 

 

“You don’t even know where we’re going.”

 

“Just tell me where to go. I’ll listen," Jimin says. 

 

“Or,” Jungkook catches up and pulls Jimin to a stop, tugging him by the arm against his side, “you can stay right here, and I’ll show you.”

 

Jimin isn’t jumpy anymore. To Jungkook’s surprise, he actually listens and slows down enough that Jungkook can keep up.

 

The sky is overcast and the pier is windy. Instead of boasting the usual warm highlights and patches of shade from local market stands and a crowd of residents and tourists, it’s nearly empty. The perfect conditions for taking his pixie for a walk. 

 

Small traces of glitter reflect in the crevices in the cement, hardly enough to notice that there was a storm of pixie dust covering the road in a three meter radius. It’s inconspicuous, however, Jungkook still worries. While Jungkook is lost admiring the glittery purple dust, he loses Jimin in a sudden burst of strength as Jimin frees himself and bolts.  

 

“Jimin! Wait!” Jungkook takes off after him. 

 

Jimin’s laughter resounds through the harbor as he manages to outrun Jungkook all the way to the pier and past the train tracks. He slows to peek at Jungkook over his shoulder, then veers to the right and down one of the docks. 

 

His footsteps boom and echo across the planks and only stop when Jimin reaches the end, past a line of boats and surrounded by crashing waves. The spray and the wind sting Jungkook’s eyes as he chases him. 

 

Cornered, Jimin spins around to meet Jungkook. The dock sways and bells toll in the distance. The lighthouse makes it rounds, and Jimin’s hair shines a glowing orange against the grey tones of the ocean and sky. Around them, a faint cloud of bright yellow dust whips around in the wind that carries it out to the water. 

 

Jimin beams. The exhilaration has him heaving. Jungkook has never seen him this happy. He smiles like it’s natural, like he hasn’t spent only two weeks outside a hell he was imprisoned in for a decade. Looking at Jimin now, Jungkook could never guess the pain he endured. 

 

Jimin says something drowned out by the waves and the wind and the tolling of the harbor.

 

“What?” Jungkook yells. He catches up to Jimin at the very edge. 

 

“I said I missed this. I miss being chased. It’s a lot more fun when the thing chasing me isn’t angry.”

 

“Why do like being chased?”

 

Jimin gazes over the ocean. “Pixies have to run from angry creatures all the time. They don’t always like the outcome of our contracts. I wouldn’t say we like it. It does remind me of being home, though. So thank...you? Is that how you say it? When you’re grateful?”

 

“You’re welcome,” Jungkook says. 

 

Jimin’s hair whips around his head, his cheeks rosy from the wind, and his shoulders hunched to protect his neck from the cold ocean spray as the sun shines through a crack in the clouds and highlights the dock from the heavens. 

 

He’s adorable. It’s familiar. Jungkook has never been here with Jimin before. He remembers what comes next, though. 

 

A flood of emotions he’s never felt, experiences he’s never had, overwhelm him. He can’t see a single memory, but he can feel them like he’s experienced this before. Like he’s been here before. Like he and Jimin have been here before. 

 

It must be the magic messing with his perception. He doesn’t hate it. 

 

Jimin seems to experience the same. His eyes widen before he blinks away the sea mist. 

 

“You’re here,” Jimin says.

 

“I told you I…” Jungkook loses the words in the wind. He can’t remember what he told Jimin. 

 

“So you’re really—”

 

“Yeah. And you’re still…”

 

“I’m still a pixie.”

 

“I’m—” sorry? 

 

When they met, Jimin knew why Jungkook needed to help him. He didn’t remember a face, barely a name whispered among the bluebells. Jimin hadn’t forgotten completely yet. They both know what came next. 

 

A crash of thunder like drums, a flash of light, and Jimin kisses him like it’s the right thing to do. His aim is off and his lips meet the corner of Jungkook’s. 

 

Siyeon said pink pixie dust is used as an ingredient to brew the strongest love potions across all the realms. Jungkook wouldn’t be feeling this way if it weren’t for the dust he’s inhaled. He wouldn’t feel like Jimin is who he has been looking for. He didn’t even know he was looking, but it feels right to believe. 

 

It’s only the pink pixie dust that makes Jungkook feel like he’s known Jimin long enough to feel like they’ve done this before. It’s magic. It’s irrational. 

 

The kiss doesn’t last. Jimin pulls back too quickly. 

 

“Was that okay? Did I do it right?” he asks. 

 

“Almost,” Jungkook whispers, too quiet to hear over the wind. 

 

Jungkook cups Jimin’s icy cheek in one hand and tilts his chin up with the other, staring into the glowing golden swirls spiraling as tumultuous as the waves around them. He can hear his own heart over the waves and the sound of rain as it begins to patter on the docks. The ocean roars under the downpour. Jungkook can’t tell what’s sea spray and what is rain. 

 

Jimin closes his eyes and stands on his toes to close the gap. It’s not a kiss demanding of the specific physical reaction Jimin chases like an addict. It’s natural and familiar. They’ve never kissed like this before, like they both know what they’re doing—like they both know what they’re looking for. 

 

Jimin hooks his arms  around Jungkook’s shoulders like he knew Jungkook was going to wrap his around Jimin’s waist, completing the ritual. 

 

Siyeon said there wasn’t much magic on Earth’s atmosphere. Jungkook thinks he might have found where it all went. 

 

“Make a contract with me,” Jimin says. 

 

Jungkook, caught up in the unknown revelation of the moment, barely registers Jimin’s voice. 

 

“What kind of contract?” he asks. 

 

“I won’t forget, so, promise me that you won’t either.”

 

“Okay.” Jungkook doesn’t even know what he’s agreeing to, but Jimin seems to. Jungkook leans back and offers his wrist for Jimin to do what pixies do when they bond someone to a contract. 

 

Jimin shakes his head and pushes Jungkook’s hand back down. “Just our words.”

 

“Okay. I promise,” Jungkook says. 

 

“Promise what?” Jimin blinks and the golden swirls disperse. Jungkook doesn’t remember what he was asking of Jimin. 

 

Unlike last time, there is no mess of pinks and purples to worry about. The wind and waves take care of it for them. Unlike last time, Jungkook doesn’t worry that he’s made a mistake in choosing to kiss Jimin. Jimin kissed him this time, and it didn’t feel like he was taking a risk. 

 

Their clothes drip with rain and ocean spray, soaked through to their skin. Jimin shivers and wraps his arms around his torso.

 

“Let’s go back.”

 

“But you said you would meet other humans for me so I could learn about them.”

 

“We have a while until you have to leave. We can meet other humans when you’re not freezing,” Jungkook says, swiping his hand through Jimin’s bangs. His hair sticks where Jungkook presses it, matted to the top of his head from the rain. 

 

Jimin does the same, laughing when Jungkook’s hair falls back down and drips directly into his eyes. 

 

The walk back is slow and silent. It’s cold and it’s intimate. They walk arm in arm until they reach the top of the hill where the rain doesn’t reach them under the canopy of evergreens. Their boots are covered in mud when Jungkook helps Jimin untie his, leaving both pairs on the porch.

 

Bora still isn’t home, and Siyeon is nowhere on the ground floor. Her tireless efforts on the bridge make Jungkook feel like he is not doing enough. And then he remembers his role. He is not a warlock. Jungkook is a scholar. So far, he has taught Jimin that humans feel more than they can put into words, and that their intentions are not always clear, even to themselves. He’s helped stopped the deadly process Jimin was in when they met. He can’t believe how quickly time passed since then. 

 

“I’m cold,” Jimin says.

 

“Me too.”

 

“I want to take a bath.”

 

Jungkook is about to tell him that Siyeon is busy, and then he remembers that it doesn’t take a warlock to fill a bathtub.

 

“Let’s get this off first,” Jungkook says, unzipping Jimin’s jacket and peeling it back from his long sleeves. 

 

The shirt clings to his body, outlining his form in way Jungkook has never seen it before. He looks away and takes off his own jacket, hanging both of them outside over the porch railing before closing the door, taking a deep breath of warm air as they head upstairs. 

 

“Do you remember how this works?” Jungkook asks when he closes the bathroom door. He doesn’t know how much Bora showed him beyond strip and sit in the tub. 

 

“I remember.”

 

Jungkook pulls the faucet, turning the handle all the way to the left so the water is almost at a boiling point. It won’t be Siyeon’s infinite-bubble kind of bubble bath and it won’t stay hot forever, but he does his best to work with the tube of floral scented bubble starter left under the sink and pulls up his sleeve to stir it into the water. 

 

“How hot do you want—”

 

Jimin’s shirt is on the floor, his exposed scarred torso making Jungkook freeze where he sits. 

 

He knew Jimin had been through hell in the operating room. He knew somewhat of the horrible things they did to him from the little he described his unsedated surgery. He never imagined the lasting effects it would have on his human body. 

 

Jimin’s wound in the Magic Shoppe healed before Jungkook even wiped it clean, leaving nothing but smooth, if not patchy red skin that healed the next day. In the bright overhead light of the bathroom, Jungkook clearly sees the lines of scars marking where he had been cut open. Where the man he described with having fake eyes played with scalpels and needles inside him. 

 

Jimin’s arms are free of scarring save for a patch of thin, mostly healed lines right below his shoulders over the faded, incomprehensible tattoo. His chest and abdomen suffered the most. 

 

Many of the lines are perfectly straight and thin in horizontal and vertical parallels. Some look like they have been closed and reopened several times. Two crisscrossed scars cut over the left side of his chest. They’re the ugliest, most haphazardly drawn lines on his body. Whoever made the cuts either had no practice or no care for their tidiness like the rest of them. 

 

Jungkook counts at least twenty scars before he realizes he’s been staring long enough that the water has risen to his sleeve. He yanks his hand out of the tub and turns off the water, hoping that when he looks back at Jimin he would have been imagining what he saw. 

 

“Why are you crying?” Jimin asks. His voice shakes. He stars at the door, avoiding Jungkook’s eyes. 

 

“I’m not crying,” Jungkook says, wiping away his tears. “It’s from the rain.” 

 

“I’m not going to apologize.” Jimin crosses his arms over his torso and hunches his shoulders, curling into himself to leave less of the scarring exposed. 

 

“You don’t have to—” Jungkook chokes on a sob, quickly catching his breath to stay calm for Jimin.

 

Stay calm for Jimin.

 

“They…” Jungkook can’t form a sentence. “You said they… This whole time, you… Holy shit.” It’s all Jungkook can say. 

 

“It doesn’t hurt, so stop worrying.”

 

But it must have hurt so fucking much.

 

“I thought you healed fast.” 

 

That was a shitty thing to say. Jungkook shouldn’t even be staring. 

 

“The first time it’s cut, yeah. But not when my dust is blocked.”

 

“Do you even—” have anything left in you? “What did he—” What did he take? What did he leave? “Jimin, I’m so sorry.”

 

“Don’t say that. It wasn’t you. It’s fine now. I don’t hurt anymore.”

 

“It’s not—” It’s not fine. You’re hurting, even if it’s not physical. You have panic attacks. You know it’s not fine. “I’m sorry.”

 

Jungkook won’t press if it’s something Jimin has already moved past. Some of the scars don’t look more than a few weeks old, still raised and pink unlike the rest. 

 

“Have you asked Siyeon to heal you?”

 

“It will heal when I go home. It would be a waste of her magic. Unless—” he bites his lip. “Unless you hate it that much.”

 

“I don’t! I mean, I do—I hate what that son of a bitch did, but I don’t hate your body. I hate that you have to live with the reminders from the, um, surgeries.” From the literal hell he’s been through.

 

Jimin’s lip quivers. Jungkook made him cry. 

 

How the fuck did Bora do this? It’s possible she didn’t see. She was too hyper when she came downstairs to accuse Jungkook of kissing the pixie. Jungkook wants to kiss every single scar on his body better until they all fade away. 

 

Fuck it.

 

Jungkook pulls Jimin down to sit on the edge of the tub in nothing but his soaking leggings. He isn’t thinking straight. He isn’t thinking. Jungkook does what he did when he kissed Jimin for the first time. He does something stupid. 

 

He positions himself between Jimin’s knees, holding onto the edge of the tub with one hand and pulling Jimin’s torso close with the other on his back. He starts with the scars over Jimin’s heart, pressing his lips to the center and holding them there for a second before moving to the next on the center of his rib cage. 

 

Jimin gasps, but he doesn’t want Jungkook to stop, clear by the grip he has in Jungkook’s hair. He’s crying, his chest heaving as he hiccups. 

 

“W-What are you doing?” Jimin asks.

 

“When humans get a cut,” Jungkook pauses and kisses a horizontal scar on the right side of his chest, “a kiss from another human can make it better.” Next, a pair of vertical incisions on Jimin’s sternum. “Mothers do it for their children all the time.”

 

“Kisses have healing powers?”

 

“Sort of.” Another on the bottom of his ribcage. “It’s more of a placebo.”

 

“What’s a placebo?”

 

“It’s something that works because you think it’s going to work.”

 

Jungkook looks up at Jimin, silently asking for permission before continuing. Jimin’s cheeks are red from the cold and the wind, the heat and the steam, shame after how Jungkook reacted. He nods for Jungkook to keep going. 

 

Jungkook doesn’t miss a single scar, all the way down to Jimin’s lower stomach, where two vertical lines stick out above the hem of his leggings. He lingers a moment longer, and when he looks up, Jimin is crying again. 

 

“Y-You,” Jimin mumbles the rest of the sentence, quiet enough that even this close, Jungkook can’t hear. 

 

“I what?” 

 

Jungkook may have fucked up. It was stupid. Maybe not quite a fuck up, but it was decidedly stupid. He sits back on his heels, keeping his hands on Jimin’s knees. 

 

“You missed two.”

 

Oh.

 

Jungkook doesn’t want to go any lower. Unless Jimin needs him to. 

 

“Where?” he asks. It’s the steam in the room that makes his face heat up. It’s the steam. 

 

Jimin slides down from the edge of the tub, his body pressed up against Jungkook as he takes a deep breath and turns around, resting his elbows where he sat. 

 

“Heal these too?” Jimin asks. 

 

Jungkook thought the scars over Jimin’s heart were the nastiest, most ruthless marks from the operating room left on his body. At least they seem to have been made using a knife, or something sharp. 

 

The two tears between Jimin’s shoulder blades bleed black dust that fades the second it reaches the air. Fragments of his wings still remain on his body. 

 

The constant stream of lost dust from the place where his wings should be must be the reason his dust hasn’t fully recovered. He’s been constantly losing dust this whole time. 

 

Jungkook wants to vomit thinking of the cruelty of which humans are capable. Seokjin might have been right about one thing.  

 

Jungkook presses a kiss over one scar. Black dust falls from his lips when he moves to the other. He kisses down the entirely of each jagged line. Jimin shudders, whimpers echoing over the bathroom fan. It’s quiet enough in the room that Jungkook can hear each individual bubble crackle in the tub.

 

“All better,” Jungkook whispers, sitting back again.  

 

“Are they healed?”

 

“They will be. The bath will help.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Jimin’s small voice breaks Jungkook’s resolve. He sobs silently as he helps Jimin out of his leggings, plastered to his skin from the rain, and into the bubbles. 

 

“I’m going to go wash these,” he says, piling the leggings and the shirt over one arm. He tries to keep his voice steady, to stay calm for Jimin the way Jimin stays calm. 

 

Jimin didn’t lose a single particle of dust aside from what was already pouring out of him. 

 

The second Jungkook steps out into the hallway, as the cool air from the open hallway window juxtaposes the steam and closeness from the bathroom, he loses his composure and lets his tears fall into the wet clothes. He doesn’t even know where the washing machine is. 

 

 


 

 

Jimin hasn’t left the house in three days. When Jungkook offered to take him on another walk, or drive him to the store to pick out his own snacks, Jimin shot him down in favor of Planet Earth. He’s seen them all, some more than once. 

 

When Jimin isn’t watching a documentary or reading and contradicting a science textbook, he’s watching the betta fish he still hasn’t named. He can watch the fish for hours, unblinking, unmoving. He looks like he’s trying to read the fish’s mind, or communicate telepathically. 

 

Jungkook drops a bag of fresh cherries on the table and joins Jimin by the fish tank. 

 

“Have you decided on a name?”

 

“I don’t know him yet.”

 

“You don’t have to know him,” Jungkook says. He takes a risk and rests his arm around Jimin’s waist. Jimin doesn’t even notice as his eyes dart back and forth following the betta around his thirty-gallon tank all to himself. 

 

“What if he doesn’t like it?”

 

“You can always change it. It’s just something to call him.”

 

“Maybe for a human,” Jimin scoffs. “Names aren’t like that.”

 

“How do names work for pixies?”

 

“They all work the same way. You can find your true name after being given the wrong one, but I want to find his first.”

 

“How did you find your name?”

 

Jimin tenses. “I heard it.”

 

“So just listen again. For him? I can’t keep calling him ‘the fish.’”

 

“Then you name him.”

 

“No,” Jungkook says, “You have to name your own fish.”

 

“Is that something you want me to do?” 

 

Jungkook catches a glimpse of gold in Jimin’s eyes in the reflection of the tank.

 

“Yes?” 

 

When Jimin turns to Jungkook the golden spark is still there. Jungkook might not like where this is going. 

 

“Make a contract with me.”

 

“To name the fish?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Jungkook isn’t sure if he’s okay with Jimin repeating whatever he did to his arm last time, so he hesitates, but Jimin looks too excited to turn down.  

 

“What are the conditions?”

 

“I’ll name the fish.”

 

“Okay. What do I have to do?”

 

Jimin presses a finger to the corner of his mouth. “A kiss,” he says, tapping his lips.

 

Jungkook actually loves where this is going.  

 

“Jimin, I’d kiss you anyways.”

 

“So, you don’t want me to name him?”

 

“Fine.”

 

Jimin beams, quickly taking Jungkook’s wrist in his hand. Jimin does what pixies do when they bond a contract and gives Jungkook back his arm. Jungkook inspects his hand, his wrist, all the way up his arm again. Nothing changed. Invisible magic might be one of Jungkook’s least favorite thing about pixies. 

 

“His name is Simi.”

 

“That was fast.” Jungkook expected at least an hour to prepare his end of the contract. 

 

“I found it yesterday.”

 

And Jimin did this on purpose. He edges closer to Jungkook, looking up at him with wide eyes glowing gold and a mischievous smile. When Jungkook doesn’t move to kiss him, Jimin tilts his head. 

 

He is so fucking cute

 

Jungkook shoots him down anyways. 

 

“Nope,” he says, pushing into Jimin’s lips with his finger. “Contracts don’t count if you lie.”

 

“You know I can’t lie. I didn’t say I didn’t have a name picked out,” he says through Jungkook’s finger. 

 

“You—” Jimin didn’t. Jungkook drops his hand. “Fine. Close your eyes.”

 

Jimin shuts his eyes tight. Jungkook presses a kiss to his forehead.

 

“Done,” he says. 

 

Jimin’s blinks repeatedly and touches the spot where Jungkook kissed him. “That’s not what we agreed to,” he says.

 

“I didn’t say I was going to kiss you on the lips.”

 

“But—” Jimin pauses. “Fine.” 

 

Jungkook laughs knowing he out-pixied a pixie. 

 

 

 

 

“Jimin, will you toss me my phone?”

 

Jimin looks up from his book to see Jungkook’s phone on the table in front of him, then back to the pages. 

 

“Maybe.”

 

“Maybe?”

 

“Make a contract with me.”

 

For fuck’s sake. 

 

Jungkook rolls off the couch and reaches for his phone himself, but Jimin beats him to it, sliding the phone into his lap and covering it with his hands. 

 

“Contract,” Jimin repeats. He looks as serious as the night Jungkook met him. A puff of yellow tells a different story as it lands on his shoulders in small bursts like he’s trying to suppress it. 

 

Jungkook sighs heavily and dramatically, crossing his arms and pressing his tongue into his cheek. “What do you want?” he demands. 

 

He tries to look serious but his expression cracks when Jimin taps his lips.

 

“A kiss here.”

 

Jungkook swoops down and kisses Jimin hard enough that Jimin falls against the back of his chair. While he’s distracted, Jungkook swipes his phone from Jimin’s lap and doesn’t look back as he steps over the back of the couch and lays down again. There is a thin layer of pink on the back of his hand. 

 

 

 

 

“The bus is gonna leave in ten minutes! What are you waiting for?” Bora asks. 

 

Jungkook pushes every coat in the closet to the side, lifts every boot and bag from the floor.

 

“I can’t find my shoes,” he says.

 

“Jungkook,” Siyeon whispers, leaning over the kitchen bar and pointing silently at the couch with a batter-covered spatula to where Jimin practices card shuffling techniques. 

 

“No one likes a narc,” Bora mumbles. Siyeon blows Bora a kiss that she swats out of the air.  

 

Jungkook stomps over to the couch, hands on his hips as he stares down at Jimin with what he hopes is a serious expression. 

 

“What do you want?” Jimin asks. 

 

Jungkook could kiss the grin right off his guilty face. 

 

“Where are my shoes?”

 

“Make a contract with me.”

 

Jungkook can’t even be annoyed. He loves this. He would never give Jimin the satisfaction of knowing that. He’s too much of a pixie not to use it against him. 

 

“Tell me where they are and maybe I will.”

 

“Contract first.”

 

“Eight minutes,” Bora urges, swinging the door back and forth. 

 

Jungkook glares at Bora. She tilts her head at the door, urging Jungkook to hurry up. Jungkook turns back to Jimin. 

 

“Fine. Done. Signed. Where are my shoes?”

 

“You first.”

 

Jungkook looks to Siyeon for help. She turns around like she didn’t see anything and pours a cup of batter into the pan. 

 

“Seven,” Bora says unhelpfully.

 

“This is so unfair, guys.”

 

“Six.”

 

“It hasn’t even been a minute!”

 

“Five.”

 

“This is bullying.”

 

“Hurry up, nasties. Library closes in an hour.”

 

Jungkook huffs. He loves this. Every part except the part where Siyeon and Bora are literally watching Jungkook pay Jimin in kiss currency. 

 

Jimin gets his kiss and pulls Jungkook’s boots out from under the couch. 

 

Bora wipes pixie dust off Jungkook’s shoulder as they step off the porch. “That was adorable,” she says.

 

“That was sick and manipulative.”

 

“You loved it.”

 

“I loved it.”

 

 

 

 

“Jimin.”

 

“Jungkook.”

 

“I can’t see the screen.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Please move.”

 

Jimin doesn’t move until Jungkook peers around him to see, only to step in front of him again. 

 

“Oh my god.” Jungkook fakes a disappointed sigh and opens his arms to Jimin. “Let’s get this over with.”

 

Jimin falls onto Jungkook’s lap facing him and doesn’t wait for Jungkook this time, kissing him first. 

 

“You’re an addict,” Jungkook says when Jimin pulls away, his hands on Jungkook’s shoulders. He’s too pixie to realize the implications of their position. “You need rehabilitation.”

 

“What’s an addict?”

 

“An addict is someone who can’t go two seconds without stimulation.”

 

“Then I’m not an addict. We haven’t done a kiss in five hours.”

 

This morning Jimin followed Jungkook into the bathroom and didn’t leave until Jungkook kissed him up against the counter. Jimin can’t even use the bathroom. He had no business being in there. 

 

Jungkook can’t get enough either, so maybe they’re both addicts. He tries to avoid thinking about how they are both going to have to cut it cold when Siyeon finishes the bridge. He’s afraid Jimin might not want to before he realizes how arrogant that is to think and shakes the thought from his head. 

 

It’s fun while it’s happening, even if they both know it’s not going to last past next week. The first week with Jimin felt like a year. The last two felt like only a day. 

 

Jungkook rolls Jimin off his lap so he can see the screen again. The TV flashes when Jimin lands on the remote and it switches to a national news channel that Jungkook hasn’t voluntarily watched since high school.

 

“No one cares,” Jungkook says to the people on the screen as he reaches under Jimin for the remote. 

 

Jimin gasps so loud it sounds more like a scream. Black replaces pink in a cloud so thick it blocks out the TV entirely. When the dust thins, Jungkook’s heart stops. 

 

A silent five second video loops on screen. It’s a crusty, fake looking clip of an orange haired with pixie slanted features and wings larger than himself flying between two fake flowers in an otherwise colorless room. 

 

Jungkook scrambles to find the remote through the dust, pressing the power button as soon as he does and wrapping Jimin into his body to prepare for another panic attack.

 

“T-Turn it back on,” Jimin says into the crook of Jungkook’s arm.

 

“It’s okay, they’re not going to—”

 

“Turn it on,” Jimin demands. When Jungkook doesn’t comply, Jimin snatches the remote and turns the TV back on himself.

 

Jungkook keeps one hand on Jimin’s leg, thinking that if he lets go Jimin is going to fall or fly away.

 

The video fades out to reveal a middle-aged man sitting across from the national news host. He wears thick black glasses that cover the entire upper half of his face. They look more like goggles, and they magnify his eyes to an inhuman size. He wears a lab coat over a blue suit and his brown and grey hair is slicked back with so much grease it looks like he emerged from a tub of movie theater popcorn. 

 

On the curved screen behind him and the news anchor the clip of Jimin loops hauntingly. 

 

“We have all heard about your plan to renovate Avalon’s Hall into a new form of exhibit. Would you elaborate on what those plans are?”

 

“We don’t have to watch—”

 

“Be quiet.”

 

Jungkook is quiet. 

 

“There is nothing more to explore,” the man with fake eyes says.

 

If his upbeat grin and sing-song voice sends chills down Jungkook’s spine, he can’t imagine what Jimin must be feeling. The black cloud has fully dispersed and Jimin is laser focused on the screen. Jungkook slides closer to Jimin. He doesn’t react. 

 

“I said what I said. I have a pixie in my garden as we speak.” He reeks of arrogance. Not the cute pixie kind. 

 

“You don’t think there might be skeptics of this exhibit? I mean, I’ve seen it all from this seat, from bank robbers armed with squirt guns to talking dogs,” she laughs, reading from a script off camera, “And even I, personally, have a hard time believing that magical creatures exist alongside us.” She laughs again. It’s awful. “But I’m sure you have more information that could prove me wrong?”

 

“Actually, miss, I brought some of that info with me today.” 

 

Jungkook scoffs. He’s clearly lying. And even with whatever special effects he has on hand, no one is going to believe him.

 

“Kept it hidden real good ‘til now.” He adds quickly to keep up with the script. He doesn’t even try to hide the way his eyes follow a flow of words on a screen off camera. 

 

The the doctor looks directly at the camera, his bug-like eyes blinking slowly as someone off screen presents what sounds like a glass jar, rattling as they set it on the table. It is covered in a white cloth, hiding everything inside. 

 

“I would like to reiterate,” the news anchor says, “This is a live broadcast. What is in this jar is raw, unedited footage, being displayed on KMC for the first time to the public.” She speaks like she already knows what’s in the jar. All news is scripted. 

 

Jimin is motionless. Jungkook considers turning off the TV so he doesn’t have to see whatever monstrous plan he has imprisoned in that jar. 

 

“Are you sure ready?” the man with fake eyes asks.

 

“Absolutely.” She looks bored.

 

“This is scary business. You may scream if it helps. In fact—”

 

“Please scream,” Jimin whispers, continuing the man’s sentence along with him. “It’s encouraged on this ride,” they say in unison. 

 

Tears of disgust well in Jungkook’s eyes.  

 

The news anchor brushes back her hair, fixes her dress, and nods at the man, then at the camera. “Show us, Doctor Yoon,” she says. 

 

Yoon taps on the jar several times, then rattles what he has inside. Jimin gasps in pain before the cloth is even pulled back. A stream of tears that turn hard as diamonds roll around at his feet. Jungkook can’t take his eyes off the screen once the man with the fake eyes dramatically rips the cloth off the jar and sets it on the table in front of them. 

 

A butterfly floats in the jar. Its long, translucent oval wings display a seamless gradient from orange on the inside to brown to green around the edges, ending in a spiral on each upper end that coils and uncoils in tandem with Jimin’s heavy breathing. It knocks itself against the sides and releases a plume of colorless dust each time it hits the glass. The dust piles at the bottom into a pile of glass shards.

 

“Where are they?” Jimin snaps. “Where are the people in the screen?”

 

“This one is filmed in the capital—”

 

“Where is that?” Jimin’s tears fly across the room when he swerves to glare at Jungkook. His irises are devoid of all color as they reflect the close-up shot of the wings on screen. 

 

“It would take hours to get there, I’m sorry, it’s—”

 

“Where is it!” Jimin shrieks in inhuman reverbs, gripping the cushion below him so tight it rips and the bunched-up cotton pops out. 

 

Jungkook is too petrified to answer. This time, when angry spheres of sparking red dust surround Jimin’s hands and singe the couch, it isn’t sarcasm. Jimin might actually try to kill Jungkook if he thinks he’s getting in his way. 

 

Jungkook wants to cry out for Siyeon’s protection when his voice catches in his throat as Jimin’s eyes flicker violently from brown to black again. They close completely and Jimin falls backwards into Siyeon’s open arms. 

 

Siyeon’s hands glow purple as she presses them into Jimin’s sternum. He grimaces, and soon his features relax, and the red dust falls from his hands to the floor. His body goes limp and the tears finally stop. 

 

“Are you okay?” Siyeon asks, heaving as she grasps Jimin’s torso.

 

“Me?” Jungkook asks.

 

Siyeon tilts her head towards the TV and it flicks off. 

 

“Did he hurt you?”

 

“No, just the um, the couch.” Jungkook runs his hand over where Jimin’s fingers entered the fabric. 

 

The frayed edges still burn embers into the blue, turning the loose ends black before finally dying out and smoking. The whole room smells like smoke. Jungkook tries to mentally replace the scent with bluebells. It doesn’t work.

 

“I-I tried to turn it off, but he wouldn’t—”

 

“It’s not your fault, so don’t start thinking like that.”

 

“Okay.” 

 

“Will you bring me my glasses? They’re on the table.”

 

Jungkook shoots off the couch and rushes Siyeon’s glasses back to her as she lays Jimin in his place. Instead of putting them on her face, Siyeon places the glasses over Jimin’s eyes. His eyelids flutter.

 

Jungkook hyperventilates. 

 

“Come sit,” Siyeon says.

 

Jungkook stumbles back around the couch and sits on the coffee table. 

 

Jimin is breathing. He’s going to be okay. His eyes dart around under his lashes, his fingers gripping the edge of his shirt like he is trying to rip the fabric.

 

“W-What’s he doing?” 

 

“Not trying to kill you.”

 

“That’s...good.”

 

“Breathe,” Siyeon commands.

 

“I am.”

 

“Slower.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Close your eyes.”

 

Jungkook closes his eyes. 

 

“Remember the bluebells.”

 

“I remember.”

 

Jungkook isn’t sure how long he stays still, picturing the field of bluebells covered in a cloud of white dust like ash. When he opens his eyes, he can see clearly. The room smells like hibiscus and burnt couch again. Jimin is asleep on Siyeon’s lap. 

 

“Are you with me?” Siyeon asks.

 

“I’m here.”

 

“You should go to bed.”

 

“But it’s—”

 

Jungkook looks out the window to a starry night sky and panics. 

 

“How long have I been sitting here?”

 

“Go to bed, Jungkook.”

 

 

 

 


Jungkook went to bed, but he can’t sleep. He slept for several hours while sitting on the coffee table, under some spell. His heart races from the image of Jimin standing over him with soulless black eyes. The way his voice cut into Jungkook’s heart with such an unnatural, demonic echo rings in his ears when he closes his eyes. 

Jungkook stares at his ceiling, unblinking, trying to keep from checking on Jimin. Siyeon will tell Jungkook when he’s awake. Siyeon is taking care of Jimin. Jimin is safe. Jungkook is safe. 

 

His phone blinks on the nightstand. Four missed calls from Yoongi and two from Hoseok just today. He doesn’t feel like talking to either of them or even reading their texts. He will have the rest of his life to live with them, however, he only has a handful of days left with Jimin and Siyeon and Bora. 

 

To distract himself, he considers Bora’s offer. He considers if he would be able to stay in a place so connected to Jimin that even when he’s gone, everything will remind Jungkook of him. The pier, where he kissed Jimin. The campus where he saw Seokjin for the first time. The road at the bottom of the hill where he tried to punch Seokjin. The home he made and reconnected with an old friend and two new ones. 

 

He might never move on. He might never fully move back home. Even if he lives in his shitty, red-walled apartment and takes the one-fifteen bus to campus every Tuesday through Thursday. No matter how many tables he wipes and orders he takes and drinks he spills onto customer’s laps, he won’t be able to move back. 

 

Jungkook tosses under the covers, kicks them off, covers his head with a pillow, then tosses it on the floor. He doesn’t think he wants to move back. He can’t live without being surrounded by magic. He can’t live in a place filled with it, either. He can’t be a normal human with normal bills and normal student loans. He can’t pretend he is one of Siyeon’s crowd forever. 

 

The door to Jimin’s room opens slowly, quietly. Siyeon must have been with him the whole time. Her steps echo soft and slow down the hall while trying not to wake up Jungkook or the sleeping pixie. 

 

Jungkook can’t wait alone any longer. This is too much for one human to handle alone. He needs to talk to her.

 

Jungkook rolls out of his bed and pulls on a pair of sweatpants and his shirt from the floor, moving as quiet as he can as to not wake Jimin. 

 

Jimin’s door is still open. Jungkook decides to check on him before following Siyeon downstairs. He can hear Siyeon and Bora talking through their door, something about Bora’s classes today. The words professor and himbo followed by a fit of laughter sound down the hall.

 

Jungkook peers into Jimin’s room. There is no pixie in the bed. 

 

The front door opens and slams closed. 

 

Jungkook bolts after him. 

 

“Jungkook?” Siyeon yells from upstairs. “Jimin?”

 

Jungkook throws on his shoes, unlaced and on the wrong feet, as he sprints out the front door following the sound of another pair of footsteps. 

 

“Stay here!” he hears Siyeon’s muffled voice shout from the upstairs. 

 

It’s as cold as winter, despite summer around the corner. Jungkook kicks up mud with every step. Jimin is quick for someone who just had a black out homicidal panic attack. 

 

Jungkook rounds the driveway and skids to a stop at the top of the dirt road leading down to the pier. Jimin is nowhere. 

 

“Jimin!” he yells. His voice echoes through the trees. No response. 

 

If Jimin is heading to the capital to get his wings, he won’t make it on foot. Jungkook won’t be able to catch up with him. He’s already out of energy by the time he reaches the bottom of the hill. 

 

A trail of glitter reflects under the lone streetlamp headed towards the coast. It is void of color, blending into the grey cement and gravel and ending all the way at the edge of the train tracks. 

 

Jungkook follows the trail to the empty train station, where one flickering light illuminates a single figure inside. Jungkook throws himself at the doors. 

 

“Jimin! What the hell are you doing?” 

 

The doors doesn’t budge. The figure doesn’t turn around. 

 

A light goes out above Jungkook, and when he looks up, the sky is devoid of all its stars. They reflect in the door behind Jungkook, coating a human figure.

 

There is no one inside the station anymore. 

 

A flash of indigo shoots overhead, blinding him, as he stumbles backwards and trips over one of the station benches before rolling onto the cement. Jungkook hears Siyeon’s voice, though he can’t tell what she’s saying. He can’t tell if he’s still on the ground or if he’s floating. He can’t tell if the flash of light came from her magic or Seokjin’s. 

 

A whisper cuts through Jungkook’s consciousness. 

 

“Do you know how to kill a pixie?”

 

 


 

 

“Pixies have a unique role to play in our ecosystem.”

 

Jimin rolls from his back to his stomach to relieve the pressure from his wings. When pixies lay on their wings for too long the strain stiffens them and hinders their mobility, making their takeoff bumpy. It’s not ideal when running from angry contract bonds or snakes, however, it is essential for pixies to rest on their backs to observe cloud patterns in case of a rainstorm. 

 

Jimin doesn’t hear any snakes or see any rainstorms nearby. He hears several heartbeats, but none belong to a contract bond. 

 

“Without their hidden contributions, our Earth would crumble in on itself from typhoons, earthquakes, and tornados large enough to rip the entire crust from the Earth itself.”

 

A soft white glow penetrates Jimin’s stump and seeps through the cracks in the moss, highlighting the wood in a plethora of dancing beams that shift with no breeze. Jimin watches the light move as he stretches his wings to prepare for flight. His contracts bonds have been waiting for him. He only has two in place. They should have been fulfilled a long time ago. 

 

“For thousands of years, we have lived in an unknown debt to the pixies that populate our home.”

 

There are no years in Hyeastra. 

 

“Until today.”

 

There are no heartbeats, either. 

 

Wonder. Disbelief. Curiosity.

 

Pixies do not feel such emotions. Snake heartbeats do not sing in tunes. Warlocks do not feel fear. 

 

This is not Jimin’s stump. These are his wings, but these are not his emotions. 

 

Jimin stands and without struggling to balance on his legs thanks to his outstretched wings. He does not feel like half his spirit has been stolen from him. His back is not cold where his wings should be. 

 

The delicate light that dances on the ground around him does not belong to Hye. It is not as soft as Jimin remembers. It is not even real moss between Jimin and the painful fluorescent glow reminiscent of a time Jimin can’t recall. 

 

Jimin flies to the roof of the stump that is not his and pushes back the layer of moss. It is porous and greyer than the bryophytes that protect his stump provide him with solitude when he needs to replenish his spirit. 

 

Shock. Anger? Excitement.

 

When Jimin peaks out from the fake Terra moss, he does not recognize any stumps around him. They are too small and crowded. There are no mushrooms growing from them, only some questionable fungi in the pale green grass at the base of the stumps. There is only one tree, its twisted roots sinking into the dirt where there should be more moss. The leaves are manipulated to resemble that of a willow. They do not look like the kind that wards off creatures from Jimin’s home and provides protection from the outside world. 

 

Jimin is not at home. Jimin is in a human pet shop, he realizes, looking into a crowd of humans that gather near the glass holding them prisoners. 

 

Jungkook said humans do not keep other humans as pets. These are not humans, though. They are giants. Jimin did not know there were giants on Terra. 

 

He does not remember getting into the van with Jungkook and going to a pet shop, yet the glass reflecting the fluorescent lights and the hundreds of human heartbeats surrounding him tell Jimin he is not wrong—he is in a pet shop, or something similar. 

 

“Ah, it looks like it’s finally woken.”

 

Jimin feels his own songless heartbeat over the sound of hundreds of others, but none he recognizes. He is in a pet shop. Somehow, he’s on the wrong side of the glass. 

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, the pixie of Avalon’s Hall!”

 

Chapter Text

Beyond the glass, humans and their human children cluster together in a circle. Some tap on the glass, the only barrier between Jimin and hundreds of greedy hands. The lowest part of the cage is a meter off the ground. Some human mothers lift their children to watch Jimin at eye level. 

 

Jungkook told Jimin that humans should not touch the glass cages in pet stores. Jungkook said he would never hold Jimin as a pet. Jungkook is not like the rest of humanity.

 

Some humans hold phones in front of their faces, while most stare directly at Jimin. He doesn’t want to be the center of human entertainment. He wants to be with Jungkook. 

 

Jimin doesn’t want to be with Jungkook. He wants to be at home. 

 

Jimin ducks back into the stump. If they don’t see him, they won’t want to purchase him. 

 

Disappointment. The emotion echoes in every human heart. Like the human child with its mother in the pet shop, the humans here came only to observe with no intent to purchase. Like the rats in their sparkling purple tubes and domes, Jimin coils into a corner to avoid the humans’ gaze. 

 

Jimin has been decorated in miniature human clothing not as comfortable as leggings and a sweater. There is glitter stitched into the gold and green fabric to resemble the gradient of his wings. It hooks around his neck and under his arms, leaving his shoulders exposed and ending just below his hips like the dress of a sidhe. 

 

Despite the slits on the back of the dress too small for him to have full control of his wing muscles, he wraps himself in his wings. When he closes his eyes, he imagines a field of bluebells covering his spirit in their warmth. Jungkook is there staring down at him, calling his name. It’s the first time he has ever been called Jimin. 

 

It’s not Jungkook’s comforting harp song that he hears, but the sound of hundreds of eager humans from all directions, invading his dream. It wasn’t a human who set a trap or brought him into captivity, but a child of the stars involved with more of Jimin’s life than Jimin was privy to.

 

Like snakes and humans, children of the stars are capable of manipulation and inflicting intentional, unprovoked harm. 

 

Jimin understands irony now. Irony is when the being who guided Jimin’s education on the dangers posed by humans was the reason Jimin ended up at the mercy of the man with fake eyes. It explains why Jimin heard his wings calling him. He does not yet understand what role Seokjin has played in relation to the man with fake eyes, or Jimin’s unexpected arrival on Terra, or his motivation.

 

Rage. It is not from the humans. He knew rage the moment he knew there was no escaping the operating room. He felt it again when Seokjin tried to take Jungkook’s name, and when Jungkook refused to take Jimin to his wings after seeing them on the TV. 

 

A chorus of awe and surprise overcomes the space when Jimin decides to do something with his rage. He springs from the fake stump into the view of the humans. When he tries to use his dust to light fire to the glass, nothing comes out. Not even his feelings of hopeless and panic illicit the response he’s grown accustomed to, as not a single particle of dust in brown, purple, or even black, leaves his body. The last of his dust is impotent grey that he is unable to command. 

 

Feeling exposed and ashamed, heart pumping and lungs heaving, Jimin darts back into the fake stump. He can barely control his wings with how violently his body shakes from adrenaline. 

 

A cloud of something that isn’t dust fills the stump from pores in the wood below. When it reaches Jimin’s legs it burns and numbs, and Jimin escapes into the exposing glass cage. The humans cheer at the sight of his agony. 

 

There are even more humans than before. Beyond the circular entrapment, the crowd stretches all the way to the ends of the outer walls. The space is filled with raised gardens housing trees and shrubs, and in the center, hanging high above all the humans, a massive recreation of a Queen Alexandria’s birdwing sways gently from wires connected to the dome-like glass ceiling. Directly above Jimin, the fake willow blocks out the light from the paneled glass. He appears to be in the center of the space. 

 

Some humans hold more power than others, barricading the edges of the lines and guiding the humans like sheep in a constant moving circle around Jimin. Each one of these humans wears all black, save for the while glyphs on their backs reading security. They have wires hooked into their ears. Unlike the ones in the operating room, the wires spiral and connect to something on their chests instead of a machine or a tube. 

 

Jimin hovers above the fake stump, waiting out of reach from the cloud of acid. When the acid seeps through the moss at the top and reaches his feet again, Jimin flies higher. The air pressure on Terra dampens his ability to move as quick as he could at home. Without his dust, he can’t propel himself any faster. 

 

Jimin soars above the humans to the edge of the glass and presses against it with his momentum. It doesn’t budge. He tries a spot lower. Nothing happens. He darts to the opposite end of the circle, knocking into the glass with his shoulder as hard as he can, but he cannot build enough speed to break though. 

 

He’s powerless, dustless, more like a parakeet in a cage than a human.

 

The humans below step back when he knocks on the glass. 

 

Fright.

 

Good. They should be scared. They recognize his power, despite continuing to stare, flinching when he nears the edge. 

 

The only humans that don’t back away are children. They move closer when they see Jimin coming. Children seemed so small and harmless to him before, but now, they intimidate him more than the adults. They have untapped confidence and the power of ignorance that make them fearless against him. 

 

“No need to be frightened,” a human louder than all the other humans says. Their voice booms from every direction. “It’s more scared of you than you are of it.”

 

A blatant lie. Every human in the vicinity should be scared because the second Jimin feels a single particle of dust in his body he is going to blow up the glass and the shrapnel will impale them all. 

 

“It’s not angry, just curious,” the voice continues to lie. 

 

Jimin is furious. 

 

None of the humans feel anything for Jimin. They feel things about him, at him, but not a single heartbeat sounds of pity or distrust. Every human here is going to die the second Jimin breaks free. 

 

Again he flings his whole body at the glass right at human eye level, and again and again, until their wonder turns to worry. Their expressions sour and lose their sense of superiority. Worry isn’t enough. Jimin needs to scare away the humans completely. 

 

Jungkook was never more scared of Jimin than when he stood over him with dust ignited. If Jimin was able to incite fear into a human like Jungkook, the humans in this room should be terrified of him already. They think one layer of glass can keep them safe from Jimin’s anger. 

 

Jimin swirls up the tree on all sides searching for anything he could propel at the glass. Aside form a few holes leading into its dark, hollow insides, and fabricated leaves, the tree boasts nothing but painted metal. Jimin tries to fly through the leaves at the top when another glass barrier prevents him from going any higher. 

 

Jimin rips off a leaf the size of his own body. The leaves are held on to wires with a clear substance similar to sap. He drops the fake leaf and flies down to where the humans can see him, and, picking out one indiscernible human from the crowd, he focuses on their heart. This human is curious, amazed, and fearless. Jimin presses his hands to the glass, staring right at the human as they stare back at him. 

 

“I’m going to kill you,” he says. 

 

The human’s heart doesn’t change its song. It can’t hear him.

 

“You should be afraid,” he says louder. 

 

Nothing changes. 

 

Jimin flies to the other side and picks out a human already fearful, mostly skeptical. The smartest human here. 

 

“If you don’t let me out I’ll set you on fire!” He bangs his fist against the glass.

 

The humans around him react in delight. They do not believe him, or they cannot hear him. Jimin cannot do anything to scare them. 

 

Defeated, out of energy and out of ideas, Jimin floats back to the fake stump. Traces of the acid remain, so he heads straight for the openings in the tree, taking refuge behind the fake bark.

 

The acid follows him into the tree, forcing him out into the open again. The fake grass on the ground is not tall enough to hide him completely. If he lays down, he can at least block his eyes from the humans’ gaze. 

 

Unable to control his wings against the way his body vibrates from anxiety, Jimin decides to stay in the fake grass where the acid does not follow. His tears do not harden into diamonds when they fall. They drip from his cheeks into the fake dirt like ordinary human tears. He wipes them away with a piece of grass, then covers his body with the leaf he picked before.  

 

If he lays here long enough, maybe the humans will think he he died the way Terra fauna die. Terra fauna lie motionless when they die and it takes their bodies days to decompose instead of fading instantly into dust and blowing away.

 

Jungkook was not lying when he told Jimin most humans are not as awful as he was led to believe, but he was wrong. 

 

Jimin falls asleep under the leaf, wanting nothing more than to be at home under Hye’s light, surrounded by real moss and a familiar stump, where there are no humans.  

 

 

 

 

The human faces start to blend together. The same human never enters twice, and the room is always crowded until the sun goes down and all the lights go out but the one flickering softly above the metal stump. Jimin’s human body needs a lot of sleep, even though he never wakes up rested. If the overhead fluorescents do not wake Jimin up, the acid sprayed into the stump does. 

 

If Jimin spends too long in the stump, the acid forces him out. If he spends too much time in the tree, or out of sight from the human viewers, the acid chases him into the center of the exhibit. If he flies too fast or crashes into the glass, the gas forces him away from the edges. 

 

There are too many acid deposits to keep track of, and more appear every day. It is not the burn or the numbing aspects that make Jimin fearful, but what it does to his consciousness that terrifies him. His reactions slow, he dizzies quickly, and over time he becomes lethargic and tired. Falling asleep to relieve the tiredness results in more acid. 

 

If Jimin refuses to eat the cubed pieces of unrecognizable fruits lowered into the enclosure while he sleeps, the acid will knock him out repeatedly until he eats them all. Jimin prefers the injections and tubes of nutrients to the tasteless juice that come from the fruit. 

 

All Jimin can do is sit outside the makeshift safety of the stump and listen to the screens angled away from his enclosure. The same few hours of footage are all they have. Jimin has memorized every lie it tells. 

 

Pixies do not live on Terra, or Earth, as the humans call it. Pixies are not what prevent natural disasters from ravaging the planet. Jimin would love to see humanity swept into their own ocean by a tidal wave and devoured by sharks. 

 

Pixies do not pollinate flowers, and they do not have the power to disappear and make themselves invisible to humans. If Jimin could disappear he would have already, and the humans would have to find entertainment elsewhere.

 

Pixies do not range in size from twelve to twenty centimeters. There are pixies as small to Jimin as he is to humans. 

 

Pixies do not live up to two hundred years. Pixies live longer than the amount of time humans are capable of comprehending. 

 

The man with fake eyes, the one they call Doctor Yoon, did not find Jimin stuck under a layer of ice in a snowy mountain lake, nor did he befriend him. Of all the lies, the false accomplishments with which the man with fake eyes is wrongly credited hurt Jimin the most. The humans praise the man with fake eyes like their savior—someone with Jimin’s health and safety being his greatest priority—instead of condemning him for the cruel human that he is. They are just like him. Jimin sees him in every human who walks through the line.  

 

The man with fake eyes is no friend of the pixies. Pixies do not maintain social relationships. Once a contract has been fulfilled, their alliances dissipate. The screens mention nothing of contracts, their true homes, or their emotionless natures.

 

There are only three pieces of information fed to the humans that stands true: a pixie’s ability to create and utilize dust in an infinite spectrum of colors that humans are incapable of perceiving, their sensitivity to the cold air on Terra that can stiffen their wings and make taking off difficult, and that there is nothing that exists in all the universe that can kill a pixie.

 

Among the lies and half-truths, one of the screen’s teachings is information the man with fake eyes had no way of learning, even after all the calendar years he studied Jimin.

 

The only thing stronger than star dust is pixie dust.

 

Though mostly incorrect, there is one exception. One color of dust rivals the stars. On rare, cosmically improbable occasions, a pixie capable of producing white dust is born. Not many beings are aware white pixie dust is more than timeless mythology, and fewer who believe in its sovereignty over the stars themselves. In Jimin’s lifetime, he has never encountered a pixie with such a trait. Not even a warlock as ancient as Siyeon has even a single particle of white dust amongst all her jars and potions.

 

The only thing stronger than star dust is pixie dust.

 

Jimin remembers something among the fake grass. A realization—another piece of the puzzle Jimin had no interest in solving before. 

 

Seokjin, a being capable of literally rewriting and rearranging the stars if he wanted to, must know something of white dust, and it was he who brought Jimin his wings. It was Seokjin who tore Jimin away from the sound of Jungkook’s voice once he had reunited with his wings before the sky burst with indigo and flecks of golden stardust. Despite the evidence, Jimin cannot comprehend a scenario in which a child of the stars would work beneath a human.

 

Whether or not he pieces together the rest of the puzzle will make no difference to Jimin when he returns home. Stressing about motives and implications now would be dangerous. He does not have much time before the acid catches him stationary and forces him to fly circles around the glass so the humans do not bore.

 

There is nothing that exists in all the universe that can kill a pixie, the screen continues.

 

It could be another meaningless lie, scripted to make Jimin seem more interesting, that turned out to be true. It could be a message. It could be that the man with fake eyes knows more about magic than what he squeezed out of Jimin.

 

There are hours of lies after lies that the humans believe. They believe someone like Jimin cherishes humanity so much he would spend his entire lifetime preventing their demise. 

 

When Jimin escapes, he is going to show them how wrong they are. 

 

Even with his wings he feels too human. Even though his face hardly resembles what he saw in his human body’s reflection, he still feels betrayed by his own physicality. The rotten nature of a human’s ego whispers to Jimin in thoughts that are not his own, telling him survival is unachievable, that not even Siyeon is able to rescue him from the man with fake eyes and Seokjin’s plan. That not even a human as persistent as Bora will fight for him. That even though Jungkook had been his Tomorrow, their stars unaligned and no one is coming to help him.

 

 

 

 

At sunrise after an indiscernible amount of days have passed, the doors open again to the never ending flow of people. This time, the groups are smaller. More humans are cut off at the door by the humans with wired ears in charge of controlling the flow.

 

The first several crowds are made up of human children. Jimin does not care for them, so he sits in the grass facing the stump until the first spout of acid chases him into the air. He has to stay moving if he wants to stay in control of his mind and body. 

 

Throughout the day, the packs of similar aged humans grow larger in size and smaller in number, until Jimin cannot tell if the humans are children or adults. Many of them hold paper and writing tools. Some of them attempt to draw Jimin and his enclosure. 

 

A bright, neon colored paper with a picture of Jimin’s wings displayed on one side falls out of a human’s arm when they pull out their phone. 

 

Avalon’s Hall Field Trip Guide

 

He flies down to the lowest part of his enclosure, close enough that he can read the smaller texts underneath.  

 

Sunday, June 20, Avalon’s Hall will be closed to the public to allow students of all ages—

 

A human picks up the paper and Jimin scowls. Then, in an unpredictable act of curiosity driven kindness, the human presses the paper to the glass in front of Jimin. 

 

“Is this what you were looking at?” the human asks. 

 

They have a high, melodic voice that mimics the sound of a siren. The human has long brown hair that fades into pink at the end, like that of a mermaid, tied behind their head. When they smile their lips curl up at the end like a fairy’s. They have a human heartbeat despite the similarities, with the same mundane wonder and shock that all the humans here possess.  

 

A trap. If he nears the edge to read, the acid will send him away. 

 

He rationalizes that the acid will catch him anyways, and he wants to know what the paper says about him. 

 

Jimin lands toe-first on the ground and lowers himself gently while tucking his wings back as he nears the glass. The human smiles wide, beckoning other humans closer and pointing at Jimin.

 

“I think it wants to read the flyer!” the human says. 

 

“Pixies can’t read.” 

 

“Excuse me,” the siren-like human waves at one of the wired humans, “can pixies read?”

 

The wired human shakes their head and looks bored. 

 

So many lies. Humans know nothing. 

 

Jimin presses his hands to the glass between himself and what the siren-like human called a flyer. It does not have wings, and it fell without issue. It does not fly, no matter what they call it. 

 

Sunday, June 20, Avalon’s Hall will be closed to the public to allow students of all ages and fields of study to observe humanity's first ever live pixie exhibit! Come witness her play in a recreation of her natural habitat at the Avalon’s Hall Butterfly Exhibit, located at the Hawthorn Zoo and Animal Empire. 

 

At the bottom, in small letters, barely readable, it continues: Due to capacity adjustments, all butterflies have been temporarily removed from Avalon’s Hall. No butterflies were harmed in the creation of this exhibit.

 

Jimin looks at the ground, above him, all around for a cloud of acid that will inevitably force him back to the center. Until it comes, Jimin reads as quickly as he can. 

 

Flash photography is encouraged! You can share your first pixie encounter on social media using the hashtag #avalonshallpixieexpirience, or visit our website to submit your captures! 

 

The texts end there. Jimin looks up at the human behind the flyer. He almost wants to thank them. 

 

“Are you done?”

 

Jimin nods. They gasp. 

 

“It understood me! Guys,” the siren-like human swerves around, making sure everyone saw what they witnessed, “I think pixies can read!” They crouch in front of him, meeting him at eye level. “Can you speak?”

 

Jimin nods. 

 

“No fucking way,” a human behind them says as they try to force the kind human out of the way. 

 

Jimin flinches at the song of aggression, flying into the air and hovering in front of the kind human again. He does not want them to leave. He does not want any human to have the satisfaction of being entertained by him. This human heart is soft and kind. It reminds him of Bora’s. 

 

He holds eye contact with the human as long as he can. Unlike the other humans he’s encountered, who immediately pull out their phone to block their faces, this one stares back. They look sad. 

 

“You can speak?” they ask again. This human feels like someone Jimin can reach. 

 

“I can,” Jimin says, and although they cannot hear him through the glass, they understand. Their jaw drops and their heart pounds with joy. 

 

“Do you have a name?”

 

“Yes,” he says. 

 

“What is it?”

 

Jimin shakes his head. 

 

“Are you really a pixie?”

 

Jimin nods. 

 

“You’re beautiful,” they whisper.

 

The human presses their hand to the glass next to Jimin. It is as tall as he is, and when he presses back, he can feel their warmth radiate through the panel. The sudden astonishment leaves their heart, replaced by guilt and pity. 

 

“Are you here against your will?”

 

Panic. It comes from the human with the wire in their ear. 

 

“Keep the line moving!” the wired human barks. 

 

The wired human pulls the siren-like human from the ground and shoves them and the humans around them further down the glass as a cloud of acid forces Jimin to retreat to the center. 

 

The kind human exists the line, looking back at Jimin with pity. Their heart rings with disgust that  is not directed at Jimin. 

 

The flyer lays on the ground where they stood. Several blocks of text next to a picture of Jimin posed against his will using small sticks and wires and hovering over a rose bush looks directly at him until another human picks it up, crumpling it and tossing it into a tube outside the ropes. 

 

“Due to their small bodies, pixies prefer warmer climates at lower altitudes." 

 

Jimin wants to crush the screen and all its lies under his dust. The human narrator has a voice that starts to disgust Jimin the more he has to hear it talk about him like a regular Terra fauna on a documentary. 

 

"However, they can be found at elevations as high as three-thousand meters! Our pixie’s exhibit is equipped with heat lamps and pumped with steam, ensuring a comfortable environment reflecting her home.”

 

It is not steam. If the humans outside the glass knew it wasn’t steam, if they knew what the gas did to Jimin…

 

They wouldn’t care. 



 

 

After two more sunrises, Jimin recognizes a human by her heartbeat. 

 

He jolts awake and shoots out of his stump before the acid before the acid does this time. He is going to escape. Bora is here to help him escape. 

 

Jimin darts around the glass, swinging in every direction to find the owner of the song. It sounds warm and worried, familiar and faint. 

 

The louder it gets the more frantic Jimin. Bora enters the building, and Jimin cannot help but cry. If he cries in front of the humans, the acid will envelop him, so he darts into the grass before any of them can see, wipes the annoying residue of human emotions from his eyes, and flies up to watch her walk through the line. 

 

He waits for Jungkook to come in after her. He waits for Siyeon to combust the ceiling and pull him out. It is only Bora.

 

Bora notices him watching her and she quickly looks away and shakes her head. 

 

It would be dangerous for her if a cop or a doctor knew she was here to help him escape. Jimin can pretend for survival. He stalls by flying in circles through the fake leaves the way humans love to see him move. He hates how happy his misery makes them. He is not going to miss this. 

 

It takes too long, Jimin almost loses himself again, until Bora is finally close to the front of the line moving around his cage. She keeps her head down, eyes on her phone the whole time. It takes everything in his power not to yell for her attention. When she makes it to the glass, Jimin can see her red eyes and faint traces of tears on her cheeks. Her heart does not sound sad anymore, only determined. 

 

Jimin waits on his stump, not looking directly at her, not turning away in case he misses another secret message. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Bora lift her phone to her ear. 

 

“Hello, Mimi?” she says into the screen. 

 

Jimin freezes. 

 

“Hey, it’s me. I was just calling to let you know that Sissi is on her way.”

 

Bora has never mentioned a human named Sissi before.

 

She laughs into the phone. It is fake. He knows it is fake because her laugh is pitched lower when genuine, and higher when she does things like tease other humans and sarcasm. 

 

“Yeah, Kook is fine too. He felt a little sick after the train ride, but Sissi gave him some medicine. It’s just me today. ”

 

She means Siyeon and Jungkook. Mimi must mean Jimin. 

 

“Hang in there, alright? You won’t be alone for too long. We’ll all be together again tomorrow night, and then Sissi will be ready to take you home.”

 

Jimin is going home.

 

“Okay,” Jimin whispers. 

 

“Kook misses you a lot.”

 

Don’t say that.

 

“And he feels terrible for being late.”

 

I’m not allowed to cry. 

 

“I’ll let him know you’re doing well.”

 

This is not me doing well.

 

“See you soon.”

 

Bora is crying and trying to hide it when she drops her phone. Sorrow does not sound pleasant coming from her heart. It is ugly and it hurts Jimin’s ears. 

 

Bora exists the line early before finishing the path around the exhibit, and Jimin loses her heartbeat to the crowd. 

 

 

 

 

Jimin is woken by a burst of cool air hitting him in his stump instead of the usual cloud of acid telling him it is time to entertain the humans. He rolls into a corner to avoid the frigid change in temperature that envelops him and closes his eyes as he pulls his leaf over his body. The stump lifts from the ground and Jimin falls backwards onto the grass. 

 

The glass is open. He is being rescued.

 

To his dread, it is not Jungkook’s heartbeat above him. It is a cold, monotone drone of a heartbeat void of all human emotions. Jimin doesn’t see the human’s face, blocked by a blue and textureless hand wrapping around him so tight he cannot fly away. His body is heavy from the sedative effects from the acid and he hasn’t the strength to fight against the fingers curling his wings in opposite directions around his body. 

 

It’s been a while since he felt physical pain in this way. It’s familiar. It renders Jimin immobile, unable to even open his eyes. His head hurts when he tries to move and the acid in his system disorients his motor skills. 

 

“Is it still leaking?” a doctor asks.

 

“I don’t think so.”

 

“Alright, good. Just to be safe let’s pump some more blockers into it.”

 

“It’s just a little dust.”

 

Anger. Impatience.

 

“That much dust blew a police cruiser to smithereens.”

 

Jimin didn’t feel his dust come back. He can’t feel much after all the acid. 

 

“That’s fucking crazy.”

 

“Exactly. Which is why the doc doubled the dose. Here, bring it over.”

 

Jimin falls into a dark and velvety sack, the freezing air making his wings and limbs stiff. He is unable to fight back. He did not know he has any dust in him. What a waste. 

 

“How long will it take? They open at eight in the morning now to fit all the tourists.”

 

“It should be just a few hours. Unless its body can’t take it, then it might be a day or two.” A pause. “Or never.”

 

Jimin can’t be gone for a day or Jungkook won’t find him. He tries to pull himself up, but he can’t lift his weight. His ears ring and he can’t see anything inside the bag.

 

“There’s going to be a lot of crying children if that’s the case.”

 

“There’s going to be a lot of crying adults, too. The waitlist has nearly a million people on it already and most of them are flying halfway across the world to see it. Rumor is, even the president wants to fly her whole family out to get a look.”

 

“Really?” Shock. “Don’t most people think it’s just a Barbie doll with wings stapled onto it?”

 

“May as well be. The doc isn’t even sure the thing is going to live long enough to see the whole crowd. He’s already working on his next project.”

 

“What? Isn’t this his life’s work?” The bags shakes. “Why would he let it die in captivity?”

 

“Said he found his answer.”

 

Another pause. 

 

“What is he looking for?”

 

“Why the hell would I know? Let’s go. We need to get it back to the operating room before it starts to leak again.”

 

 

 

 

“Is it going to live?”

 

“It’ll take more than a needle and some syrup to kill him. Leave us alone.”

 

“Do you mean serum?”

 

“Get the fuck out of here.”

 

Jimin never left the operating room. It was another trick. 

 

“But—”

 

“Leave us alone. I won’t repeat myself again.”

 

“My apologies, Doctor Yoon.”

 

“Fuckin’ newbie.”

 

A door slides closed.

 

Doctor Yoon has fake eyes and a heartbeat that sounds like crumpling metal. When he told Jimin he loved him, he wasn’t lying. When he let Jimin escape, it was only in his head. Jimin has been on the operating table this whole time, and Jungkook doesn’t exist outside his own mind. It was all for data collection. It was so Doctor Yoon could laugh. 

 

His laugh sounds like gravel crunching under a snake’s belly. Hearing his voice is like chewing on sand. The operating room smells like a vampire’s skin burning in the sunlight. His breath on Jimin’s face feels like needles impaled under his eyes. Everything is back to normal. 

 

Humans like the ones in Jimin’s dream don’t exist. There are no separate species like scholars and cops. Seokjin tried to warn him. 

 

“I missed you.”

 

Jimin opens his eyes to a white light and a burning pain where his wings should be. 

 

“Did you miss me?”

 

Doctor Yoon is a giant above him. 

 

“I told you I’d never let you go.”

 

Jimin turns his head. A scalpel presses to his cheek, forcing him to look straight at a pair of fake, bug-like eyes. 

 

“I love you too much, Jimin.”

 

“Who told you my name?” It doesn’t come out as threatening as Jimin intends. His voice cracks and he’s not even sure he competed the sentence before it dried out in his throat. 

 

The man with fake eyes smiles a smile that looks like a rotting carcass from Seokjin’s textbooks.

 

“It’s nice to have you back, my sweet insect. You had me worried when they told me what happened.” He leans back and rinses his scalpel in a tin of water, wiping it with a white cloth stained red. “I said to them, ‘he can’t survive without his medicine!’ And I was right, wasn’t I?”

 

“No.”

 

“No?” The man with fake eyes scoffs. “You should have seen the amount of dust I had to remove from you. You were dying until the angel brought you back, safe and sound. Let’s let him believe I am continuing my research with vigor, and not tell him about your new home, alright?”

 

Seokjin brought Jimin back to the operating room, not an angel. The man with fake eyes can’t tell a child of the stars from an angel.

 

“I bet you just adored the attention. Sad to say, the angel won’t be pleased I’ve already come to the inevitable conclusion that I would fail him again, especially after he brought you back to me on a silver platter.”

 

This must be how the King felt when Siyeon betrayed her. Jimin turns away and closes his eyes. The scalpel cuts into his cheek to hold his head in place.

 

“He said time is running out for both of us. So I am going to show you how much I love you by trusting you with the hypothesis behind my research, my darling cicada. Then maybe you’ll be a little more cooperative to repay my kindness.” 

 

Jimin feels his wings twitch on his back, strained flat against the operating table. 

 

Jimin has his wings. 

 

Maybe it was not all a dream. 

 

This might be the dream. The acid could have done something horrible to his brain, something humans would call a hallucination—something humans see that isn’t there. At home, they call it bent magic. Here in the operating room, there is no magic in the operating room. Doctor Yoon got rid of it all. 

 

“I’m going to kill you,” Jimin says. His words cut through his throat like razor-winged butterflies. 

 

The man with fake eyes ignores him in favor of a sewing needle that he threads with a white string to prepare for the coming surgery. 

 

“I’m sorry I allowed the humans outside to see you before you were ready,” he says unapologetically. “Not even the angel could have predicted that nasty man running you over when you left my hospital.” 

 

The car that ran into Jimin and ate him when he escaped is only a blur in his mind. He can still see the flashing lights outside the building, the bright red eyes, and feel the cramped, humid jaw from which he managed to break free.

 

The man with fake eyes adjusts his eyes until they shrink to the size of a normal human’s behind the lenses, then leans back to adjust to the light. He readies a serum in a needle as tall as Jimin. Had he his dust, it would be purple and black and pluming from his body.

 

Had he his dust, it would be the man with fake eyes strapped in his place and Jimin would be the one holding the needle.

 

“I figured I would be able to see your true potential if you were put into a fight-or-flight situation again under controlled conditions, and I would extract what I needed from there. The angel told me what had happened to you the first time you escaped. Do you remember it? Do you remember how you did it? How you wasted my years of research on your silly little adventure outside this room? How was I supposed to give the angel what he wanted when you used it all up?”

 

Jimin cannot think of anything he has that a being with access to all the stardust in all the realms could need.

 

“That never happened,” Jimin seethes. “I am going to kill you.”

 

The man with fake eyes is not afraid despite knowing he cannot lie. Jimin is going to kill him.

 

He adjusts his eyes again, returning them to their inhuman size as he sighs and swivels on his stool to tinker with the tools on the tray next to him.

 

“This time, unfortunately—and, this one is on me—you ran away before faced with your mortality,” he continues. “I hoped my plan would land you at the barrel of a trigger-friendly cop doing his civil duty to protect the civilians from a dangerous criminal. Honestly, I thought it was pretty ingenious.” 

 

The article on Jungkook’s phone that had a picture of Jimin’s human face, labeling him a criminal. The door to the operating room propped open by an uncharacteristic act of carelessness the day before. It was to put Jimin into what humans refer to as a fight-or-flight situation, forced to choose between facing danger head on and running away. It was all so Jimin would escape.

 

Why the man with fake eyes, along with Seokjin, apparently, would require Jimin to be faced with imminent danger is a mystery he has no interest in solving. He has a feeling the man with fake eyes is going to tell him anyways.

 

The more he talks, the longer Jimin is forced to stay awake and hear his rancid voice. This was going to happen all along. If the man with fake eyes is telling the truth, Jimin was never really in control of his own escape. It was never truly an escape, rather, a trap on its own.

 

“And I knew I couldn’t fulfill the angel’s request,” the man with fake eyes laments. “I came to that conclusion years ago. Or, yesterday, as you creatures so cutely put it.” He adjusts his eyes and snaps his blue hands in place.

 

The clap makes Jimin flinch and lean further into the scalpel. Everything is cold. The air, the operating table, the straps holding him limbs outstretched, everything except the human blood dripping down his cheek. It burns through the metal, dripping down his cheek and across the blade. 

 

Jimin clenches his jaw. This is not what Siyeon predicted for him. This will not last. Jungkook will save him again. He will call his name, and Jimin will wake up by a well to a sky full of stars and field full of bluebells. 

 

“Will you at least thank me for protecting you this long?” A finger the size of Jimin’s legs runs over his face and neck and Jimin bites hard on his tongue to suppress his tears. “I could have told the angel it was a fruitless endeavor, trying to speed the process in which you become the dust that birthed you. But we would both be in hell if I did so. Aren’t you glad you’re not in hell yet, Jimin?”

 

His name sounds rotten, tainted coming from the man with fake eyes. He isn’t supposed to know Jimin’s name. 

 

“Don’t call me that,” Jimin says in as intimidating a voice as he can manage. He may as well have squeaked instead, because the man with fake eyes is not frightened at all. The love in his otherwise emotionless heart clashes like thunder. 

 

The man with fake eyes lets Jimin’s head drop to the side, his cut cheek stinging against the metal sheet. It is familiar and predictable. In the operating room, he does not have to worry about what is coming next because he already knows. He has no expectations other than pain. 

 

Now that Jimin knows what it’s like to fear death, he is relieved that in the operating room he doesn’t have to dread turning to dust. Being in the operating room means Jimin is safe. He will not die on this table—the man with fake eyes will make sure of it.

 

The man with fake eyes lowers his stool, metal scraping against metal as he slides down to Jimin’s level on the operating table. He adjusts the light above so it’s pointed directly into Jimin’s eyes, making his head throb and the room spin. When Jimin tries to close his eyes tight and turn away, the man with fake eyes prods his eyelids open with the dull end of a needle that Jimin can’t fight against in fear of losing his sight. 

 

It is all sickly familiar. This is where Jimin is the most comfortable, under the safety of the man with fake eyes controlling every aspect of his physical existence. Somehow, Jimin does not feel the emotion grateful.  

 

“Did you know that humans are the most inquisitive creatures in the universe?” asks the man with fake eyes.  

 

Jimin refuses to answer, fearing if he opens his mouth the man with fake eyes will cut out his tongue again. 

 

“And not even the brightest, most intellectual of us—that’s me, by the way,” he taps the side of his fake eyes with the scalpel, “—could figure out what it would take to kill a pixie. At least now,” he leans in, blocking out the fluorescent overhead light, and lowing his voice, “with the exhibit coordinator’s generosity in lending me their butterfly room, even if I’ve failed to save both of us from the angel, I’ll die as the man who discovered pixie life on Earth.”

 

When he leans back, Jimin lets out a breath he did not know he was holding. The thrumming of his heart in his chest, threatening to burst out, shakes the whole world.

 

“You probably think I’m selfish.”

 

“You can’t kill me,” Jimin says, breath hitching at the anticipation of something sharp doing something painful to his face. Instead, the man with fake eyes beams and brushes Jimin’s hair with a cold blue finger. His love resounds clearly even over the ringing in Jimin’s ears. 

 

“You’re so smart, Jimin. Have you always been this smart? I think all that dust was clogging your intellect.” He taps Jimin’s temple with the dull end of the scalpel. “Don’t worry, ladybug, I flushed all that gunk out of your tiny little body and fed it to the humans outside while you were asleep.”

 

Humans cannot ingest dust. Another lie.

 

“I’m almost done with the injections. I’m sure you have more questions, but I am going to need you to go back to sleep. I’m not sure that tiny head of yours can hold any more information for today.”

 

“I’ll kill you,” Jimin says. 

 

The man with fake eyes laughs a genuine, abrasive human laugh. 

 

“You’ll die in the zoo before that happens. And when the angel returns to collect us, we will rest side by side in hell for our selfishness. Hush now, my delicate roach.”

 

Jimin cries silently when the needle enters his side. It hurts exponentially more when he in his own body, when the tip of the needle is as large as his own finger. 

 

“I’ll kill you,” Jimin says uselessly.

 

“Have you heard of the butterfly effect?”

 

He doesn’t wait for Jimin to answer, pressing the needle further until Jimin arches his back and yanks on the restraints to fight the needle.  

 

“No? Well, you’re probably too tired to hear the rest of my story, anyways. I’ll let you sleep. I hope you enjoyed your vacation.” The man with fake eyes pushes the end of the syringe with his thumb and empties the tube into Jimin’s veins until he feels like he is going to burst. “You may scream, if it helps.”

 

Jimin won’t give him the satisfaction. 

 

“In fact, please scream. It’s encouraged on this ride.”

 

 

 

 

Jimin thinks he might have screamed. His throat is raw, and he tastes blood when he wakes up to the stagnant air of a fake stump.

 

When the next round of humans comes to view his exhibit, he cannot make himself move even when the acid directly shoots into his body from a deposit in the fake grass from below. Even when it crowds his eyes and burns his skin, Jimin cannot pick himself up. 

 

The humans are not as excited today. Seeing a lifeless pixie roll on the ground and stumble with more than a few seconds of air time does not give them the same rush. 

 

Every time Jimin opens his eyes his brain splits in two. He had lasted only one calendar month without a needle and suddenly his body is reacting to just one like it is the first time again. 

 

Some of the human’s heart ring with sorrow and disappointment at the sight of Jimin lying face down in the grass. They came to observe Jimin playing and flying as advertised, not hunched over in agony. 

 

Unfortunate for them, he supposes, how he gets satisfaction knowing the humans are not having a good time watching him pretend to have fun. He prefers this pain to boredom. 

 

At the end of the day, when the lights shut off and every human heart has left the building, Jimin screams into a blade of grass before passing out in a final cloud of acid. 

 

This is what dying feels like. Soon he will be a pile of dust and no new pixie will be born from his remains. Pixies cannot be born outside of Hyeastra.  

 

Bora said Jungkook was going to come tonight. His last conscious thought is of a lie.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Slow down, Jungkook.”

 

“It’s, like, midnight. There’s no one here.”

 

“I’m here and you’re here and Bora is here, so slow the fuck down. Please,” Siyeon coaxes sternly. 

 

Jungkook loosens the gas pedal until he is driving the van at only double the speed limit. 

 

“If we get pulled over, we’ll get there even later.” Bora rubs Jungkook’s shoulders from the back seat. There is not much that will comfort Jungkook until Jimin is safe and in his arms. Still, he appreciates the gesture.

 

“If we don’t get pulled over, we’ll get there even sooner,” he argues.

 

“I’m driving the next time we plan a heist to rescue a pixie,” Siyeon says.

 

“If we do this again, I call shotgun,” Bora says, leaning over the middle consol. 

 

Siyeon turns and glares until Bora backs into her seat. “Backs to backs bottoms to bottoms,” she says in an elementary school teacher’s voice. 

 

Jungkook sees Bora in the mirror sticking out her tongue, and Siyeon does it back.

 

These are the people helping Jungkook rescue his pixie from an evil scientist keeping him in a zoo guarded by more security measures than the Smithsonian. He’s screwed.

 

“Get in the right lane.” Siyeon points out her window. “It will save us some time.”  

 

“What? No, that’s a turn only lane. It’s quicker if we go straight.” Jungkook presses harder on the pedal. 

 

“That light is going to turn red in five seconds. If we go right, we can cut around the block and save forty seconds.”

 

It’s hard to argue with a fortune teller. Jungkook merges right as the light turns from yellow to red and only somewhat checks to see if there are any cars coming from the left. This late at night, Jungkook is allowed to break a couple driving courtesies. He deserves to commit a couple crimes after being in a cosmical coma for over a week kept alive by Siyeon’s constant supervision.

 

Even though they left Siyeon’s house the second Jungkook woke up with full health restored and some bonus stamina from Siyeon’s magical not-poisoned miracle tea, Jungkook thinks they might be too late. Siyeon shouldn’t have waited for him. They already had this argument. And sure, maybe Jungkook would have fallen deeper into a magical coma that could only be broken on one of Saturn’s moons, but at least Jimin would be out of the exhibit and safe in fron of Siyeon’s fireplace.  

 

Bora told Jungkook that when she saw Jimin he was doing okay knowing that none of them believed her, not even herself. Jimin was alive yesterday, that’s all he knows for sure. It is the best Jungkook can hope for. He should have been there for Jimin sooner.

 

A billboard with Jimin’s wings flashes in Jungkook peripheral. They’re close. 

 

“What if he’s—”

 

“Nope,” Siyeon cuts him off. “He’s not.”

 

“You don’t even—”

 

“She does,” Bora says. 

 

She does know. Siyeon knows Jungkook is thinking the worst. Before meeting Jimin, the worst-case scenario would have been missing his bus and his professor locking the door on him, or spilling a pot of hot coffee on a customer’s lap and having to give them their drinks for free. Now, the worst-case scenario is being astrologically knocked out by a flaming night sky on his way to save his pixie boyfriend from an evil star thief who is working with the evil scientist who dissected his pixie boyfriend every day for a decade, and there are no breathing exercises in the world that can help Jungkook through this.  

 

Not his pixie boyfriend. His pixie… His pixie, full stop. 

 

“It’s going to be on the left,” Siyeon says. 

 

“You’re so smart, babe,” Bora coos. She rests against the window, eyes halfway closed, sleepy after having been the only one capable of a full night’s rest, forced awake in the middle of the night to go on an hour-long drive to the zoo.

 

“I know how to read a GPS, that’s all,” Siyeon says.

 

“So smart,” Bora sighs, patting Siyeon’s head. 

 

“Stop being cute when I’m trying to panic,” Jungkook says. 

 

“Stop panicking and turn left here at the—Jungkook, now! Get in the left lane!”

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook says, swerving around the intersection. 

 

“Breathe. That’s the entrance. Drive around the block.”

 

Jungkook drives past the giant, daunting metal gates locked with chains and wires and surrounded by top notch security cameras, spotlights, drones, rottweilers, and guards at least twice as tall as Jungkook. 

 

“They have more security than the national fucking bank,” Jungkook says. His heart drops when he sees two drones flying over the illuminated dome at the far end of the park.  

 

“We have a warlock,” Bora argues. 

 

“They have drones,” Jungkook says, pointing above them.

 

“Warlock.” Bora pokes Siyeon’s cheek. 

 

Jungkook pulls onto the sidewalk far enough away from the entrance that they can park the van inconspicuously. He throws the van into park and it jerks from the sudden stop. 

 

“Ready?” Jungkook asks, eager to get this over with. He needs to know Jimin is okay before he passes out from worry.

 

“Do you remember where the butterfly exhibit is?”

 

“It’s hard to miss,” Jungkook says. The exhibit known as Avalon’s Hall looms over the hills and trees in the distance. If the dozens of articles, advertisements, and newscasts reporting on Jimin’s prison are correct, that is where Jungkook will find him. “The doors will be open when I get there, right? You can do that?”

 

“You two didn’t figure this out on the way here?” Bora asks. It’s impressive how she managed to sleep most of the way with Jungkook’s shaky driving and Siyeon constantly correcting him on the route.  

 

“Yes, they will be open,” Siyeon says. She turns to Bora. “And no, because Jungkook wouldn’t listen to me.” 

 

Seeing the security cameras oscillate from the top of the stone wall between Jungkook and his pixie fills him with dread. He is putting all his trust in Siyeon to know what she is doing. All Jungkook has to do is run.

 

“Will the security cameras be off?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What about the drones? Or the dogs?”

 

“This isn’t my first magical heist, Jungkook.”

 

“Did Siyeon ever tell you about the time we had a picnic in the Vatican City Archives?” Bora asks.

 

Somehow, the thought doesn’t make Jungkook feel any better. The fact that they hired this level of security detail just to guard a single prison, the one which Jungkook is about to break into, overrides the comfort of having Siyeon leading their heist. 

 

Jungkook has broken and entered before. He’s trespassed and escaped fancy estates to steal gold-laced doilies from middle school bullies. He stole his first Xbox from a supersized shopping mall the weekend it came out. Back then, he did not have to worry about being intercepted by a man who has control over the stars.

 

The longer Jungkook hesitates, the longer Jimin will be in his prison. He can do this alone. He has to do this alone whether he wants to or not. Despite what Siyeon thinks, Jungkook was paying attention while she explained their plan. He was too shaken from his first breath of consciousness in ten days on top of the news that Doctor Yoon has Jimin again—and learning that for some reason that not even Siyeon predicted, Seokjin is working for him—to acknowledge her.

 

He remembers everything she told him. Siyeon must remain still and focus on pulling the power from all nearby devices to allow Jungkook a clear and safe route to the butterfly exhibit, while also maintaining a spell ensure no other animal, human or otherwise, will be conscious to get in Jungkook’s way. Waking up an entire zoo of animals would put them on the radar. She refused to share the spell or answer whether what she was doing to them was considered another war crime. From the glint in Siyeon’s eye, the smirk on Bora’s face, Jungkook found his answer along with a rush of excitement.

 

A spell at this scale in a realm devoid of magic is, apparently, a complicated feat, even for someone like Siyeon. Bora agreed to stay with Siyeon for support. It’s a perfect plan created by three masters of trespassing. If anything were to go wrong, Siyeon would have seen it. 

 

All Jungkook has to do is run. He feels like he has nothing useful to contribute while simultaneously he feels like he is not shouldering his fair share of responsibility.  

 

Siyeon squeezes Jungkook’s arm. “I’ve seen Jimin make it home safely,” she says.

 

By home she means Jimin’s realm. Selfishly, Jungkook is not comforted by her prediction. Jimin will soon leave forever. It is up to Jungkook to make sure what she saw becomes reality. It is what he promised Jimin the night they met.

 

“You’ll make it back okay as well, don’t worry,” Siyeon adds. They both know that is not what Jungkook is worried about.

 

“Am I good to go?”

 

“Once you put these on,” Siyeon says, handing him a pair of rubber gloves. “The only thing I can’t do for you is wipe your fingerprints.”

 

Jungkook snaps the gloves on, zips his jacket, and jumps out of the van, slamming the door behind him. Over the buzzing of the drones, the occasional aggressive barking, and human security having loud conversation in the distance, the sound of the van closing echoes in Jungkook’s ears as if he has just closed the door on ever going back to normalcy.

 

He waits for Siyeon’s flash of purple to indicate that her magic is at work. The whizzing drones above him freeze and they hang in the air as if suspended from a wire, nothing more than a child’s airplane mobile. All conversation halts as if someone hit the pause button on a movie. Even the trees stop moaning in the wind and the cars on the highway fade into silence. The signature hum of an entire circuit shutting down at once is Jungkook’s signal to run.

 

The stone wall that lines the border between the zoo and the sidewalk is easily scalable. It provides its own footing in the indents between layers, while a patch of soft grass waits him on the other side. He expected barbed wire, then he remembers that this is a zoo, not a prison. However, they are almost—as he has recently come to realize—one and the same.

 

Running around the zoo alone with the animals without having to wait for crowds of people to move out of view would have been Jungkook’s dream come true were he a kid and at the zoo under normal circumstances. The only lights that remain powered line his path from the van to Avalon’s Hall. They flick off one by one as Jungkook passes them, shrouding his muddy footprints in darkness as he cuts through a grassy field and jumps any fences in his way. The lights guide him around a cluster of picnic tables, and he follows the path to the north. 

 

Avalon’s Hall is a beacon of light in the center of another large field bordered with ginkgo trees and rhododendrons. Outside the glass dome, several butterflies made of wire and stained-glass hover above the entrance. From the outside, the brightest attraction behind the tinted glass walls is a tower of light illuminating a willow from above.  

 

Loose pamphlets litter the courtyard and blow around at Jungkook’s feet. He catches a glimpse of Jimin’s wings on one side and fumes. Jimin’s image is everywhere. Doctor Yoon made sure no one on Earth would miss the announcement that pixies exist, and that he has one under his control. 

 

In a roundabout way, Jungkook is grateful they overspent on the security to keep Jimin safe until Jungkook got to him. Anyone with the resources and twisted motivation could have attempted to kidnap a pixie for themselves. He imagines a real pixie would fetch a hefty price on the deep web with no guarantee that the highest bidder would provide a welcome, loving environment for him. 

 

Jungkook’s stomach twists at the thought. The possibilities of what Jimin might have been exposed to if Jungkook had woken even a day later make him want to vomit and cry and rip off Doctor Yoon’s head. 

 

Jungkook considers punching a hole through the glass instead of entering the civilian way. The double doors at the entrance swing open as he nears, letting him know Siyeon is still with him.

 

There are two more layers of doors in front of the main hall to ensure butterflies and pixies don’t escape when people come through. Each frantic step echoes off the high ceilings as he hurdles over the raised gardens, headed straight for the center where a glowing glass cylinder filled with tall grass, neon mushrooms, and a brightly decorated swirling willow stands out like a spotlight. The situation only starts to feel real when he comes face to face with the glass garden that Jungkook wants to shatter until there is nothing left.

 

Jungkook freezes, suddenly drained—not from the sprint or the sexy exhilaration of organized crime, but from the miserable state of Jimin’s reality. He’s been here for ten days without a single shred of compassion. Jungkook cannot and will not try to imagine monstrous acts of cruelty Jimin had to endure, again, while Jungkook took his sweet time recovering from an astral knock out spell. He will have time to cry about it when they are in the van.  

 

Jungkook circles the enclosure for a door, finding a handle in the glass on the end opposite the entrance. He doesn’t see Jimin until he flings open the panel.  

 

He doesn’t know what he expected, or what to look for. He knows Jimin is a pixie. He knows pixies are small. He knows that they have bright wings as big as their bodies. He never knew how hard it would be to see one passed out in pale grass under a foam leaf for a blanket. 

 

A tiny head of orange hair sticks out among the blades. Jungkook swallows hard and climbs into the garden. 

 

Jimin stirs when Jungkook leans over him. His dress catches the harsh white light and shifts glittering with the colors of his wings as his chests rise and falls. He is alive. So far so good. 

 

Jungkook isn’t sure if if courtesy outweighs urgency—if he should wait until Jimin is awake and ask to pick him up, or if it’s okay to handle Jimin without his consent. 

 

“Jimin?” he tries. “It’s me, Jungkook. I’m here.”

 

Jimin is still.

 

“Wake up,” Jungkook whispers loudly.

 

Jimin rolls onto his stomach, pushing off the ground before falling face first into the fake dirt. When Jungkook reaches for him, Jimin crawls away. 

 

“It’s me, Jungkook,” Jungkook says again. “Jimin?”

 

Jimin is unresponsive. Jungkook makes an executive decision to pick him up despite how invasive it feels. He can handle an offended Jimin as long as he’s an alive Jimin. 

 

As gentle as he can, Jungkook rolls Jimin into his hand, scooping his tiny, shivering body out of the fake grass. The way Jimin panics and struggles out of Jungkook’s gloved hands has Jungkook choking back a sob.

 

“I’ll kill you,” Jimin mumbles, his voice not much higher in pitch while exponentially smaller and quieter than usual.

 

“You can kill me all you want at Siyeon’s house,” Jungkook says, “but right now we have to hurry, so, I’m sorry for this.”

 

Jimin fights Jungkook’s every attempt to gently coax him into his hands. He barely opens his eyes to look at Jungkook before rolling away again and mumbling about how he is going to kill him. 

 

“Jimin, please,” Jungkook begs. 

 

When Jungkook tries again, his hand hovering above Jimin’s tiny frame, Jimin kicks him weakly. Even through the gloves Jimin’s body is like ice. His lack of body mass to store heat makes even a summer night like tonight something deadly.

 

Jungkook doesn’t know how long Siyeon can hold her spell, how much time he has, so he lifts Jimin from the grass, careful not to put pressure on his wings, and, cupping Jimin in his hands, presses him into his chest. 

 

“I’ll kill you,” he says into Jungkook’s chest, so quiet Jungkook almost doesn’t catch it.

 

A barely alive, barely conscious pixie wants to kill him. Jungkook can handle it. It’s not the first time. 

 

Jimin struggles so Jungkook holds him tighter. He’ll have time to cry about the way Jimin fights like Jungkook is going to tear off his wings again when they’re far away from the zoo. 

 

On the way out of the hall, a banner with Jimin’s body from the wings down looms above the exhibit. It looks like they’ve spent just as much of their budget on advertisement as on their security. A waste of budget for Jimin to be plucked out of their evil hands before they’ve remade their money. 

 

Jungkook stops running halfway and tilts his hands away from his chest, afraid that he’s going to open them to a pile of dust. Jimin is still there, breathing in tiny. 

 

“I’ll k-kill—” Jimin shivers, “—every f-fucking one of you.”

 

The worst way Jimin could view Jungkook is as if he were the enemy, like the doctors. After every attempt he made to get Jimin to open up and to accept that he was wrong about many things, after every game they played together and kisses they shared, Jimin sees Jungkook as a human, no different from his captors.

 

It is as if Jimin has lost his ability to recognize Jungkook by his heartbeat, or that it does not matter to him anymore. A human is a human—not a monster, not a demon born from evil, but a human, which is even worse.

 

“Jimin, I—” Jungkook seizes up at the sight of Jimin in his hands. To Jimin, these hands do not belong to a friend or even an ally. Jungkook remembers the way Jimin described doctors with fake eyes and songless hearts and cold, texturless hands.

 

Cursing and shaking and not thinking straight, Jungkook drops to the ground and rests Jimin on his lap to keep him close while he peels off the gloves and shoves them in his pocket. He then scoops Jimin’s icy body against his chest again and closes his fingers firmly around Jimin so no heat escapes. With the gloves out of the way, Jimin’s skin already feels like it is absorbing from Jungkook’s body heat.

 

There will be no more stopping, no matter how Jimin struggles and how disgusting it makes Jungkook feel to be the kind of human Jimin hates again.

 

What worries Jungkook even more than Jimin struggling against him is when Jimin stops fighting. He is no longer kicking and scratching and buzzing his wings, entirely still.

 

Opening his hands to a pixie laying as lifeless as a puppet without its puppeteer sends Jungkook into hysterics and he hyperventilates. His legs give out and he leans against the wall at the border to keep upright.

 

“Please no,” he panics, lifting Jimin to eye-level. “Please God no please no, nonono—"

 

“‘S cold,” Jimin mumbles.

 

Jungkook lets out a deep breath, crying in his relife. He looks up to the sky, thankfully with all its stars in the right place, and catches his breath against the stone, clutching Jimin so tight against his chest his fingers ache.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says, laughing at how stupid he was, even for a second, to believe Jimin had really died in his hands. More than anything, Jimin has proved that he is capable of enduring, and more importantly, Siyeon is never wrong with her predictions. He was stupid enough to doubt her and stupid enough to doubt Jimin and stupid enough that the thought of Jimin only being a temporary gift in his life pulls him out of his blissful relief and back into their reality.  

 

“Jungkook?”

 

Jimin knows. He’s alive and awake and he knows he’s being rescued. 

 

“I’m here. You’re here,” Jungkook says. 

 

“I’m cold.”

 

“I know, baby, I know,” Jungkook whispers. “You’ll be warm soon, I promise.” He steps off the wall and scans along the edge for a bench or a boulder, anything he could use to climb to jump the wall without having to let go of Jimin.

 

The entire stretch is lined with grass and bushes and nothing sturdy enough to hold Jungkook’s weight.

 

“Fuck, okay,” Jungkook breathes. “Jimin, I’m going to have to put you in my pocket. Just for a second, I promise. Stay awake, okay?”

 

Jimin says nothing. 

 

Carefully, albeit awkwardly, Jungkook opens his jacket and slides his hand into the inner pocket until Jimin touches the bottom, careful not to hook his wings on the edge. It feels as awkward as it looks, seeing Jimin curled up at the bottom. He zips his jacket and scales the wall. At the top of the wall he turns and, mindful of the distance between his torso and the stone, lowers the remaining three meters, landing harshly on the ground before ripping open his jacket and scooping Jimin out.

 

Once Jimin is secure again between his hands and his chest, Jungkook rounds the van and yanks the back door open. Siyeon is in the driver’s seat, key in the ignition the second Jungkook slides the door closed. 

 

“That was fast,” Siyeon says. 

 

“He’s really cold. We need to g—”

 

The van jerks off the curb, sending an unbuckled Jungkook into the window.

 

“Sorry, but it’s your fault you parked so gay,” Siyeon says. 

 

Bora turns from the passenger seat to face him. “Show me the haul!” she says. “Wait, after you put on your seatbelt.”

 

Jimin says something muffled into Jungkook’s shirt. 

 

“What was that?” Jungkook tilts his hands back to look at Jimin against his chest. 

 

“Cold,” Jimin says. 

 

Jungkook looks to Bora, who has already cranked up the heat. After sprinting, and after the adrenaline rush of the last several minutes, Jungkook’s own body is the perfect place to warm up his freezing pixie. He doesn’t dare loosen his hold.

 

“You’ll warm up soon,” he says. “Try to stay awake, okay?”

 

With the tiniest and iciest touch, Jimin tugs Jungkook’s finger to pull his hand back over his body, sealing him from Jungkook’s view. Now that Jungkook knows Jimin is not dead and they are in the safety of Siyeon’s presence and the promise of a safe drive home, Jungkook untenses and slumps into the seat, overwhelmed by how unearthly adorable Jimin is when he is the size he should be. Jungkook could literally put him in his pocket and take him home.

 

“Are you comfortable?” Jungkook asks, parting his fingers to see Jimin. 

 

“‘Swarm in‘er,” 

 

“What did he say?” Bora asks. 

 

“I think he said, ‘It’s warm in here.’”

 

“Oh my god, that’s adorable,” Bora mouths silently, as if afraid Jimin would be offended being referred to as adorable in his natural state when he is supposed to be at his most powerful.

 

“I know, right?” Jungkook mouths back. 

 

Bora’s lips form a sentence so fast it is incomprehensible.

 

“What?” Jungkook asks with his eyes.   

 

Bora faces him straight on and slowly repeats, “I. Want. To. Hold. Him. Next.” She points to Jimin. 

 

Jungkook laughs, Jimin bounces up and down with his chest. 

 

“You’ll. Have. To. Ask. Him. First,” he enunciates without speaking outloud. 

 

Bora pouts and turns back to the road.  

 

 

 

 

Jimin is still cold when Siyeon pulls into the driveway. He’s asleep, or close to sleep, when Jungkook opens his hands to find him curled into a ball. Jimin turns over, his colorless eyes glazed over and blinking slowly. 

 

Jungkook hasn’t cried since they got in the van. He doesn’t want to make Jimin feel worse, even though Jimin’s expression displaying the void in his miniaturized heart brings Jungkook close to tears.

 

“Jimin, are you awake? We’re ho—” Jungkook catches himself. This is not home for either of them. If he starts thinking like that, he might not be able to leave. “Here,” Jungkook finishes. 

 

Jimin pushes himself into a sitting position and presses his hand to his temple, wincing.

 

“Where is here?” he asks. 

 

“Siyeon’s house.”

 

Jimin looks worried, then relieved. “The well is loud.”

 

Jimin mentioned a well when they pulled up to her front door the first time. Jungkook never found the well. He looks to Siyeon for explanation. 

 

“On the other side of the bridge,” she says. 

 

The bridge that is going to take Jimin back home. He thought Siyeon hadn’t started on the bridge until Jimin explained his situation. Of course, as a fortune teller, she would have known already.  

 

Unlike their original plan, Jimin does not have to go through the bridge and return with a warlord or another pixie or any kind of creature strong enough to raze a building to find his wings again. He has his wings. He can go home. Despite Jungkook’s feelings, Jimin’s home is not on this earth. 

 

Bora hops out first and rounds to van, opening Jungkook’s door for him and unbuckling his seatbelt to let him hold Jimin in both hands as he slides out. 

 

The house is already warmed from the crackling fireplace when they step inside. Jimin pushes Jungkook’s fingers apart and peers over his hand as Jungkook sits in front of the fireplace. 

 

“Are you warm enough?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Jimin nods. 

 

“Do you want me to put you down?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Disappointed, Jungkook lowers Jimin to the floor. As expected, he struggles to stand on the carpet. Jungkook positions his hand behind Jimin right as he falls and pushes him back up. 

 

“Will you be okay if I go downstairs to finish the bridge?” Siyeon asks. “It’ll be done soon. I want to make sure it’s stable.”

 

“You can go,” Jimin says. Despite his size, his voice projects across the room effortlessly. It’s softer, but it’s still Jimin. 

 

“We don’t need a warlock around all the time. Don’t get too confident,” Bora says as she sits beside Jungkook. 

 

“Actually, Bora, will you come with me? I need some help.” 

 

Siyeon looks worried. She has the same expression Jungkook’s mother had when she told him his first dog had died. Bora looks to Jungkook, just as clueless as he is, then she pats Jungkook’s knee and stands up.

 

“I thought humans couldn’t go down there,” Jungkook says.

 

“You better still be small when I come back,” Bora says, ignoring him. “I have to get a picture of you next to Simi.” It’s a playful threat, but Jungkook can hear her voice waver. She’s trying hard to hold herself together. A sad pixie is contagious. 

 

“Don’t listen to her,” Siyeon says. “You don’t have to stay like this.” She pulls Bora to the stairs. “But I do want to see that picture at some point.”

 

“You don’t have to pose for them,” Jungkook laughs. Jimin doesn’t laugh. He only cracks a small smile that fades quickly. 

 

“I don’t think I can change back until I have more dust. He took it all.”

 

Now that he does not have to rely on some magical hell beast to take him out, Jungkook is going to tear Doctor Yoon to pieces himself. He’s going to leave more scars on the doctor than he inflicted on Jimin. He’s going to put him through hell before he kills him and make him scream his regrets before Jungkook rips his limbs off like he did to Jimin. 

 

Jimin tenses against his palm. Jungkook forgot the effect his emotions have on him, how disheartening it felt to be compared to a battle drum instead of a harp, and he pulls away from his violent headspace, focusing instead on Jimin. Jimin in front of him. Jimin in his hands. Jimin safe and sound and far away from the evils that want to hurt him to entertain their sick fantasies. 

 

“Your wings are pretty,” Jungkook says to distract himself. 

 

In the light of the flames, the translucent membranes of Jimin’s wings ripple with gold. Jimin was right, he does look just like Simi. This close, his wings look nothing like a butterfly’s save for the size and dark patterned lines. His forewings extend straight from his back at an angle and layer over an identically colored yet varied pattern on his hindwings.

 

Jungkook wonders if it is alright to be jealous that thousands of people got to see Jimin like this before he did, or if he shouldn’t even be staring in the first place. None of the exhibit-goers who saw him deserve it. It was Jungkook who found him when he escaped. It was Jungkook who showed him the best of humanity. It was Jungkook who promised to help Jimin get his wings back, even if in the end, he played little part in their recovery. 

 

“I know,” Jimin says after a while. “The humans outside the glass said that a lot.”

 

Jungkook feels like he chose the wrong dialogue option from a video game.

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think about that. I’m so sorry I took so long.”

 

“Don’t apologize. You were sick. Siyeon helped you.”

 

Jungkook was not sick. He woke up after what Siyeon said had been ten days of unconsciousness. When he opened his eyes, there was no pixie in the house. If Siyeon hadn’t followed Jungkook, Seokjin would have most likely killed him on sight. He already had Jimin. Jungkook was all she could salvage from the ruins at the train station. If it weren’t for her magic, the station would still be a pile of useless rubble covered in stardust. 

 

“I should have been there sooner,” Jungkook argues.

 

Jimin stares at the flames, clutching his fists on his lap.

 

“Thank you for coming when you did,” Jimin says, void of all emotion.

 

“Are you hurt?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“I’m dizzy.”

 

“I can tell. You can’t even stand, can you?” Jungkook teases to bring Jimin’s attention back into the room.

 

Jimin pushes off from Jungkook’s hand, stumbling before spreading his wings. They flutter open and closed until he has stable footing.

 

“I can stand. I’m fine. A human can’t kill me.”

 

They can do a lot worse.

 

“Are you hungry?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“Which one is that?”

 

“Do you want food?”

 

“Oh!” Jimin’s eyes light up, his heels lifting off the ground as his wings flutter. “Yes. I want food. And I want drink.” 

 

“Cool, me too.” Jungkook stands, being cautious of where he steps so he doesn’t crush his tiny pixie. “Stay by the fire, I’ll be back.”

 

Jimin floats back to the floor and sits with his legs folded, his wings buzzing in what Jungkook assumes is excitement unaccompanied by yellow dust. His silhouette glows and his wings leave green and orange shadows in behind him on the white carpet where the fire shines through. Though difficult, Jungkook manages to tear himself from entrancement to bring Jimin all the snacks he deserves.

 

Jungkook comes back with two bottles of ramune, a carton of cherries, and two slices of cake Siyeon left out. The ice cream in the cake hasn’t melted or even warmed. Jungkook is going to miss the convenience of enchanted food when he goes home.

 

He pops open the ramune and sets the bottles next to Jimin. The bottles are taller than Jimin. Each cherry is bigger than his head. He would drown if he fell into the cake. 

 

“Do you want me to pour this in something?” Jungkook asks, picking up a bottle. “I could try to find a...thimble?” Jungkook looks around the living room for something he can use as a pixie-sized cup. 

 

Jimin floats to the top of the bottle and peers inside. Jungkook readies himself to catch Jimin in case he falls in.  

 

“What about a straw?” Jimin asks. 

 

“I think even a straw would still be too big. Unless you can unhinge your jaw like a snake.”

 

“I can’t,” Jimin says. Jungkook was only half-joking. He wouldn’t be surprised at this point. 

 

“I think I have an idea.”

 

Jungkook goes back into the kitchen and digs through Siyeon tea cupboard to find coffee stirrer. Siyeon does not have many disposable utensils in her home. She rarely uses plastic of any kind. Jungkook manages to find a small ceramic cup of hollow plastic coffee stirrers pushed against the back behind piles of tea tins and coffee filters. 

 

“Try this,” Jungkook says as he drops the straw into Jimin’s hands. 

 

It’s clumsy, but Jimin makes it work. He flies to the top and sips his weight in ramune before taking a breath, then continues like he hasn’t drank water in days, which is entirely possible. Jungkook would be shocked if they fed him so much as sand. 

 

After catching his breath from how quickly he drank, Jimin drops the straw, letting it fall into the bottle completely before Jungkook can catch it and it sinks to the bottom. Jungkook sets a cherry under Jimin that he nearly trips over as he lands.

 

Watching Jimin try to bite into the cherry reminds Jungkook of a video he saw of a turtle trying to eat a cherry tomato, and every time it attempted to sink its teeth in, the tomato rolled off its mouth around the table.

           

Jimin looks up and catches Jungkook laughing. 

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook says. They both know he isn’t.

 

Jimin tries again. His teeth slide right off the cherry. Jungkook snorts and covers his mouth. He wants to feel bad, but it’s just so fucking cute, and Jimin has no idea about the turtle video. If he did, maybe he would understand instead of glaring. 

 

“What’s funny?”

 

“You’re adorable. Do you need help?”

 

“No.”

 

Jimin pierces the cherry with his thumbs and bites from there. He’s smarter than the turtle. He only finishes half the cherry before moving on to the slice of cake as tall as he is. 

 

Jungkook mindlessly picks at his cake with a fork, mostly focused on Jimin attempting to find a vantage point on his slice. He ends up scooping some frosting into his hand and eating the cake in fistfuls.

 

It’s incredible to watch how much he’s able to fit in his tiny body. He has more ramune in him than what his body should be able to hold were he human, and he’s able to eat a column of cake his own height, along with two cherries, before he appears to snap back into reality and reflect on the amount of food he’s consumed. 

 

“Seriously, where does it go?” Jungkook asks through his last bite of cake. 

 

“It turns to dust. The injections prevented that from happening.”

 

Jungkook wishes he could rewind to when Jimin was trying and failing to eat a cherry. The mention of injections has his stomach turning, and suddenly he doesn’t have an appetite. 

 

“I can talk about him. It’s fine. The bridge is done.”

 

Jungkook drops his fork. Frosting spews onto the carpet and Jimin jumps backwards into the air at the sound. 

 

“Sorry, it slipped.” Jungkook wipes uselessly at the red frosting on the white carpet with a napkin and coughs into his hand to hide how his voice cracks, to distract Jimin from his reaction, to cover the sound of his heart. “How do you know?” he asks.

 

“I can hear the well from the other side clearly now.”

 

The well Jimin heard over a month ago. The well coming from Siyeon’s basement. 

 

“Now that I have my wings, I’ll never have to return to Terra.”

 

“Do you want to return?”

 

“No.”

 

Right. Why would he ever want to return to the source of his nightmares? For a human? For Jungkook? It was never going to happen. Jungkook never expected him to commit a lifetime. He was going to help Jimin find his wings and make sure he returned home safely. 

 

Jungkook doesn’t have time to process the multitude of emotions he feels and so suddenly. It pulls him out of the moment. He wants to go back to when Jimin was trying to eat a cherry, take a snapshot, and live in the moment forever. His heart must sound like an orchestra to Jimin. 

 

On cue, the door to the stairs creaks open. Bora stands behind Siyeon, looking at the floor. Siyeon gives him the same look, like Jungkook is about to get his first lesson on mortality about how nothing lives forever—not even his time with the pixie he only now realizes he might have accidentally fallen in love with.

 

Jimin will live forever. It’s almost like Jungkook is the one who is dying. 

 

“Time to go home, Jimin.”

 

Jimin flies up and buzzes beautifully over to Siyeon, leaving a trail of vibrant yellow that floats to the floor behind him. Jungkook watches the cloud settle, watches each individual particle float from his wings to the carpet, trying to frame this moment in his mind. Seeing Jimin's excitement in a physical form, knowing he will have a joyful last night on Earth, is comforting in the way humans find comfort in thunder storms or watching the last leaf fall before winter.  

 

In the end, Jungkook did nothing. He was unable keep Jimin safe until the bridge was completed. He wasn’t even the one who brought him to his wings. He couldn’t help at all with the bridge. He couldn’t convince Jimin that the human realm isn’t all that bad, even though he hardly believes that himself after Jimin had to escape from the same man twice. 

 

Bora waits for Jungkook at the top of the stairs alone. Jungkook can’t hear her heart, but if he could, he thinks it would sound like his. 

 

“I don’t think Jimin will want to wait very long,” she says, curling into herself and avoiding Jungkook’s eyes. “We should hurry if you want to say goodbye.”

 

Jungkook doesn’t want to say goodbye. 

 

Their footsteps echo down the stairway, loud and unnatural like wandering through a liminal space or an empty cave. The corridor is lined with vines that grow thicker the closer they get to the bottom. The only dim light to show the way is from the open door at the top and a wavering violet shadow shining from around the corner.

 

Siyeon waits with a human sized Jimin in front of a violet stained-glass door depicting two pale blue angel wings centered around a gold star. The floor dances with specks of blues and pinks and purples that match Siyeon’s magic. 

 

Jimin’s eyes shine. His wings glow beautifully in the purple light. It’s unnatural. As a human sized pixie he is wearing his favorite leggings and white sweater, and he is smiling so wide that Jungkook will at least have a nice final picture to remember him by.

 

When he sees Jungkook, his smile drops. 

 

“You’re sad,” Jimin says. 

 

“I told you I would be.” 

 

Stay calm for Jimin. Stay happy for Jimin.

 

“I’m not going to stay.”

 

“I know. You shouldn’t. You should...you should go home. As soon as you can.”

 

“Will you open the door now?” Jimin asks Siyeon. She hesitates, like she didn’t expect this. Like the fortune teller who knows everything before it happens couldn’t have predicted this. 

 

“If you’re ready,” she says more to Jungkook than Jimin. 

 

Bora pushes past Jungkook, sobbing as she wraps her arms around Jimin’s waist. She cries into his chest, and Jimin doesn’t know what to do. He looks to Jungkook, worried. 

 

“You better have a great fucking time at home, okay?” Bora’s voice is muffled in Jimin’s shoulder. “And don’t you dare come back,” she whispers. “It’s not safe.”

 

Jungkook takes Jimin’s hands hanging at his sides and pulls them around Bora’s body. She shudders. Her tears land at Jimin’s feet. Jungkook holds Jimin over Bora, squeezing her between their bodies until eventually she slides out and holds Siyeon’s arm for support, leaving Jungkook and Jimin alone in their hug. 

 

Jimin doesn’t react at all. Jungkook lets him go. 

 

“Make a contract with me?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“Humans can’t—” Jimin sighs. “Okay.”

 

Jungkook has so many questions he wants to ask Jimin. What will he do when he’s home? Will he have to deal with Seokjin when he returns? How long is it going to take him to even get to his realm from the bridge? 

 

But above all else, there is only one question Jungkook need to know the answer to. Even if Jimin lies. Even if Jungkook has to spin the world to hear him say it. 

 

“Promise you won’t forget me? Or how it felt to be with me?” It’s selfish, Jungkook knows. He just wants reassurance that Jimin’s time here was not wasted, that he has something happy to hold on to when he leaves.

 

Jimin’s hard expression wavers. “And what will you do in return?”

 

“I won’t forget you.”

 

“I don’t agree to the conditions.”

 

Jimin is free to live his life. He doesn’t have to agree. It’s up to him. 

 

“I won’t forget you, and you won’t forget me, but I don’t get anything from that,” Jimin continues. “I won’t feel human emotions over the bridge. But...I’ll try if—” Jimin’s breath hitches. Deep blue dust engulfs the space, mixing with pink to match the flickering purple that seeps through the door. He wipes away his tears with the end of his sleeve and they clutter on the floor, shining like diamonds. “I’ll try if you promise to stay happy, even after I leave.”

 

Jungkook cups Jimin’s cheeks like it’s the right thing—the only thing to do and tilts his chin to kiss him one last time. Jimin will live for an eternity after their goodbye. He doesn’t realize it until moments before Jimin is going to leave, but he doesn’t feel satisfied with their end. There are so many things he wanted to teach Jimin, so many experiences he wanted to share.

 

Against all odds, Jungkook made an emotionless pixie from another realm feel joy in the world that broke him. Decades of being taught not to trust humans, believing them to be rotten and unempathetic beasts who would torture him for years. And yet, Jimin felt something for Jungkook in the end…

 

Right?

 

Jimin sobs into the kiss. Jungkook pulls away for a change of angle, just long enough to see Jimin’s eyelashes flooded with tears. He kisses Jimin again. He didn’t mean to kiss Jimin again. He didn’t mean to fall in love with a pixie, with someone he can’t keep forever. 

 

Jimin chases Jungkook’s lips when he pulls back for a breath. Somehow, Jungkook doesn’t cry. Not even when Jimin finally pulls away, his head and shoulders covered in pinks and purples and blues. The colors look nice on his orange wings. His eyes glow the brightest gold Jungkook has seen, even brighter than the stars in the night sky. The last time he sees Jimin, his back is turned, his shoulders hunched. He hopes the last emotion Jimin ever feels is a happy one.

 

Jungkook doesn’t cry when Siyeon ushers Jungkook and Bora back up the stairs. 

 

“Don’t turn around,” she says. “It might kill you.”

 

With Bora’s hand around his waist and no utters of a goodbye, Jungkook turns his back to the magic and follows Bora up the stairs. The door closes behind Siyeon and Jimin.

 

There are two half empty bottles in front of the fireplace, two frosting covered plates, and half a cherry on the floor. The fire is larger and brighter than before, but the space is cold and dark where they sat in front of it.

 

He’s going to have to clean up their mess. Not tonight. 

 

Jungkook breaks down, his resolve scattered like dust in the wind when the image of sharing the moment with Jimin is replaced by an emptiness so deep Jungkook can’t see a way out.

 

Siyeon enters the living room to find Jungkook and Bora on the couch, Bora’s head on Jungkook’s shoulder as their tear-stained cheeks dry in the heat of the fire. 

 

“Jungkook?” she says. 

 

Jungkook wishes she would just tell him his dog died or something. Not whatever is going to come next. 

 

“If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.”

 

“I’m fine,” he lies. No one is here to tell him they know he’s lying. 

 

“Well, there are some things I need to explain to you. Bora, you too.” Siyeon sits on the coffee table facing them. “It’s about Seokjin. And about your role as Jimin’s and my Tomorrows. It’s going to take a while. Maybe more than you’re ready to hear tonight.”

 

“That’s fine,” Jungkook says. “I want to stay here for a while anyways, if that’s still okay.”

 

Bora’s eyes go wide. “You mean, you’re moving in?”

 

“I’m wanted dead by some guy who controls the stars and an evil scientist.” Jungkook laughs, a bitter smile tugging at his lips. “What else am I going to do? Go to class? Wait tables?”.  

 

Bora shoots up and jumps up and down on the couch. “Slumber party! Hell yeah!” she cheers through fit of tears. 

 

Siyeon doesn’t look as excited. She smiles anyways. “You’re welcome to stay here as long as you live. Bora, heel. You’re going to scare our new roommate.”

 

 


 

 

Jimin is alone on his stump when he notices a change in the air. 

 

You shouldn’t be here.

 

He looks up. There are no hawks. In the grass around the base of his stump, there are no snakes. No warlocks, no other pixies, not a single fish in the lake behind him. Everything is normal except for one thing Jimin can’t place. 

 

You can’t be here.

 

It is not a telepath. It comes from above him. It sounds it might be coming from Hye herself. The last time they spoke, Hye had predicted his misfortune. 

 

It does not feel nice or refreshing not to feel. It does not feel anything. Jimin does not feel any emotions, and the fact he feels nothing at all makes him feel nothing at all. It is familiar, but his body has no reaction to the sense. 

 

There are crickets chirping but none in the grass. There is wind blowing, yet the bluebells stand still. There are willow leaves on the ground around his stump, while no leaves fall from the branches. The well is full, her song is dim. 

 

What’s a human doing here?

 

A human? Jimin spins around. There is no human at his stump. A snake pretending to be a human to try manipulating him? Unlikely. Snakes know pixies are indifferent towards humans. 

 

I don’t know. Should we kill it?

 

Jimin’s body does not react in fear and he does not expect it to. He sits in the moss atop his stump and waits for a being to propose a contract. He is not bored and he is not stimulated. It does not feel nice or not nice not to feel. 

 

The absence of human emotions is something Jimin could or could not do without. 

 

It thinks it’s a pixie.

 

“I am a pixie,” Jimin says to the invisible sounds. It has no voice. It is not whispering or yelling. “Are you here to bond a contract?” he asks the wind. 

 

It thinks it’s got a name.

 

Jimin does not have a name. A name requires a sense of self. Jimin has no sense and no self of which to have a sense. 

 

Jimin, do you know how to kill a pixie?

 

“Pixies die only when their spirit depletes. You cannot kill me. If you are not seeking a contract, I will not entertain further conversation.”

 

A butterfly floats above Jimin’s head, singing a song familiar in lyric and tune. Butterflies can only speak that which they have heard, unable to create new ideas, only relay information. When a butterfly sings, it is important to listen. 

 

The butterfly’s lyricless song echoes through the meadow:

 

Yesterday, in desperation, a star that a pixie once knew rearranged the heavens, seeking the remedy for his crimes to relieve himself from damnation.

 

Jimin has heard this song before. He remembers teaching it to the butterfly. 

 

All the star dust at his call hadn’t the force to annul a contract bonded of white pixie dust, and thus, two stars remained untouched.

 

The human holding the other end of Jimin’s final contract must have remembered by now. Jimin’s tattoo is faded. He has no more active contracts. He continues to listen to the butterfly, not out of curiosity or boredom, only because it is there and he is here.

 

Yesterday, a human that a pixie once knew contradicted the star’s teachings which had not yet come to pass. Without wings and without dust, the pixie’s longevity would fade at last.

 

Jimin remembers the first time he met a human, before Seokjin infested his mind, planting falsities about their existence. He does not care that Seokjin lied to him.

 

A pixie with no dust, unable to fly, no longer upheld a bond with Hye. Forever fixed in a state of mortality, wounds of the flesh overcame its human body. 

 

Jimin remembers what it feels like to die. He remembers, and he does not care, that the first time he met a human, he was already dying. His wings were not only torn, but destroyed. His dust leaked from the tears until there was nothing left. At the time, Jimin remembers how much he cared. He remembers, though he cannot replicate what it feels like to care.

 

Jimin remembers everything. He remembers Seokjin’s plan, and how he pitifully tried to stop it. In a way, it worked. He made it home, where he will remain forever.

 

It’s not human, is it? the voiceless continues around him.  

 

There are no humans in Hyeastra. 

 

If it were a human, it could die. Is it a vampire?

 

Humans cannot live in Hyeastra. Hye would destroy a bridge linking a human to her palace. 

 

No, that’s a human. Human, you cannot be here.

 

When Jimin tries to convey to the words in the wind that he is a pixie he is unable.

 

The next voice comes from the well behind him, one he recognizes as an ally.

 

I’m so sorry. I thought it would work.

 

Jimin is not Jimin and he does not carry emotions toward to warlock with whom he once shared a bond.

 

Jimin, I’m so, so sorry. You’re not anything of this world. You’re something new entirely.

 

Jimin is of this world as much as the fish in the lake and the birds in the willows and the grass in the dirt. He was born from dust. As dust, he will remain in this world. Pixies do not belong to tomorrow. 

 

I was wrong. You’re not half pixie. You’re not half human. You’re not something other than you. Please, you can still come back before Hye finds you.

 

It is the voice of the warlock Siyeon the Vile, who was banished by the King—unlawfully, in the opinion of most. She carried out an execution of the King’s lover while serving in her court. 

 

Jimin remembers. 

 

Jimin met Siyeon once. In a specific measurement of the way in which humans feel the passage of time, Jimin left her in the human realm exactly twelve minutes ago. 

 

The human that thinks it’s a pixie is measuring in time.

 

The pixie that isn’t a human can feel the passage of time.

 

Pixies do not feel the passage of time. 

 

Shock

 

Pixies do not feel shock.

 

Jimin, it’s Siyeon’s voice, it’s not too late. You can come back. I can’t hold this open much longer. You can still come back. I’m so sorry. I was wrong.

 

Jimin has nowhere to return to. Even on Terra, he knew he did not belong.

 

Identity

 

Pixies do not have a sense of identity. 

 

It has been thirteen minutes. 

 

Follow  tomorrow. You will always be able to find Jungkook. 

 

A human cannot be a pixie’s Tomorrow. Seokjin called the human Jungkook Jimin’s Tomorrow. Seokjin was intentionally wrong about many things. Humans refer to such behavior as a lie

 

Remorse?

 

Regret.

 

It has been fourteen minutes. It is too late for Jimin to be here. Hye will not take lightly to a human in her palace. 

 

Jimin stands on his stump and closes his eyes. He hears a harp even where there are no bards.

 

Intrigue.

 

Jimin casts a circle of dust above his stump, focusing on the harp. The location. The tune. The rhythmless melody. A bridge opens above him. He is going to take the bridge to his Tomorrow. 

 

Good riddance, trespasser. 

 

Traitor.

 

What awful creatures, humans are.

 

Jimin does not understand how a human could have trespassed into Hyeastra without Hye interfering. 

 

Jimin wonders what he is. 

 

Wonder.

 

He keeps his eyes closed through the bridge, letting his wings guide him towards the familiar sound of tomorrow, as pleasant as the first time he heard it play. 

 

Safety.

 

Jimin can hear a crowd of heartbeats on the other side of the bridge. He keeps his eyes shut tight, afraid if he opens them, Hye will not be as merciful as she was when she allowed Jimin passage. 

 

Fear. 

 

Fifteen minutes. 

 

Jungkook. 

 

Terra. 

 

Jimin is on Terra, looking at Jungkook through the leaves of a hawthorn tree. 

 

It is colder than the way in which he left Terra. It is brighter outside.

 

Everything built up inside Jimin, unable to release in his pixie body in his pixie home, floods his system and overwhelms his human sized body. 

 

Jimin’s head rings, his heart beats, and he feels sorrowful. The last time he saw Jungkook, he was crying, and it made Jimin cry. He remembers everything. And it feels awful to remember.

 

Jimin wanted to ask Jungkook more about humans. He wanted to see more humans in their natural habitats. He wanted to watch more documentaries and eat more human processed foods. He never finished his cherry or his cake or his ramune. Thinking about it makes him hungry. 

 

Beyond a row of hawthorn trees and a long patch of grass, void of all other foliage, Jimin spots Jungkook. Jimin has never been here before. The area is open, surrounded by tall buildings, with brick pathways swirling and curving alongside larger patches of grass. There are dozens of humans, more than Jimin has ever seen at once. 

 

Jimin can hear the well from Siyeon’s home, though distant and dying. He could find his way there even though he doesn’t know how far she is. When he and Jungkook go back to her home, he wants to show Jungkook what a well looks like. He wants to hug with Jungkook and learn from him and he thinks he wants to apologize. He knows it was his words and actions that made Jungkook grieve. 

 

If Jimin knew he wouldn’t be granted permission to stay at home, he never would have left. He almost rejected Siyeon’s offer. If he were never going to feel again, it would be better than staying on Terra where, despite the joy and security he felt, he would also have to deal with grief and horror.

 

Even now, Jimin feels regret. He is going to apologize to Jungkook and tell him that Seokjin was right, Jungkook is his Tomorrow. Jungkook held a bond with him that surpassed Seokjin’s power to rearrange and rewrite the stars to achieve a different outcome from their first time in this life. Somehow, their bond endured, spanning their previous experience to the life they know now. To Jimin, that can only mean one thing—Jungkook was with him yesterday as he is today, and they will find each other again, be it this life or the next.

 

Jimin knows Jungkook can feel him near because his heart plays the melody it began after the first time they did a kiss near the ocean. It grew stronger when Jimin remembered Jungkook, when it was raining. It was windy, and they both forgot, but he remembers now.

 

It made Jimin feel cherished along with an emotion he hasn’t defined yet. He feels it when his dust is pink. He knows Jungkook feels it when they are close. He will ask Jungkook after his apology. 

 

The emotion from Jungkook’s heart associated with Jimin’s pink dust grows nearer. The octave has changed. The tune is the same, the same ups and downs, the same rhythmless song that warms Jimin from the inside. There is something in the song that clashes with itself.

 

Jimin sees Jungkook across the largest patch of grass, walking along side another human whose heart sings the same song that is not a harp. Jimin can’t identify an instrument. The melody is consistent between the human next to Jungkook, and Jungkook himself. The tunes collide. They aren’t in sync. And Jungkook isn’t looking at Jimin.

 

The closer Jungkook gets, the more Jimin wants to rush past the trees and fly into his arms. Unfortunately, there are too many humans obstructing his path. If one of the humans is a doctor or a cop, Jimin would be returned to the custody of the man with fake eyes immediately. They will be looking vigilantly for him.

 

Before Jimin decides how to approach Jungkook, what he’s going to say, what emotions to brace for, his security breaks. Terra no longer feels safe. 

 

It happens so quick Jimin almost misses it. Jungkook’s harp song is singing and it isn’t because of Jimin. It grows louder as the world shatters around Jimin.

 

He was wrong.

 

This is a dream. 

 

Nothing Jimin learned is right. 

 

Everything Jimin thought about Jungkook was wrong. Jungkook can’t be Jimin’s Tomorrow if the song of tomorrow plays for someone who isn’t Jimin. If he stayed in Hyeastra, he would have realized this eventually.

 

Siyeon was wrong. A human can’t be his Tomorrow. Humans don’t have Tomorrows, and the song in Jungkook’s heart that doesn’t play for Jimin is not the song of a soulmate. It never was.  

 

Nothing is right. Nothing Jungkook said was right. 

 

Jaw clenched, heart in pieces, overwhelmed with unfamiliar emotions that he doesn’t understand why he is feeling but that he knows are normal for a human, Jimin decides it is time to go back home again. For good this time.  

 

Nothing will make him come back to Terra. He can still hear the well, so he does what he was never able to do on Hyeastra before, and with all his dust recovered and his wings where they should be, Jimin launches into the air quick enough to go unnoticed by humans. Their eyes can’t track objects as fast as Jimin can fly. 

 

Terra’s atmosphere is not compatible with magic. He cuts through the air slower than he does in his realm. Siyeon said she can’t hold the bridge open for much longer, so Jimin will have to be quick. 

 

It doesn’t take long before Jimin lands on Siyeon’s doorstep with the sound of an explosion from the momentum that sends dirt and leaves flying in all directions around him. He runs to the door and flings it open, finding Bora on the couch alone as the door slams into the wall. 

 

“Where is Siyeon?” he demands. 

 

Bora gasps, dropping her book. She shuffles through the couch cushion and pulls out her glasses, then blinks several times while shaking away her disbelief. 

 

“Jimin? What—what the hell?”

 

The intensity in her heart is louder than the well. He can’t even hear Siyeon’s heart over hers. He needs her to calm down. 

 

Despite the overwhelming joy he feels when he sees her, he has to set aside his temporary human emotions. He is not supposed to be here. 

 

“I came back on accident,” he explains. Shame. “I’m not supposed to be here. Where is Siyeon? I need to access the bridge.”

 

“Does Jungkook know you’re here?”

 

Thinking about Jungkook will only make it harder to leave again. He suffered the first time. The pain he felt when he left Jungkook at the door was greater than anything the man with fake eyes had done to him. He would rather spend another twenty calendar years in the operating room than hear the broken, hollow song in Jungkook’s heart as the door closed behind him. 

 

“Jungkook doesn’t matter. I need the bridge.”

 

“The—the one Siyeon opened? How did you even get back? It’s not even—”

 

“Siyeon said she could hold it. I’ve seen warlocks half as young as Siyeon hold a bridge open for longer than a day.”

 

Bora is in his way. Her tears almost convinced him to stay. He couldn’t for Jungkook, and he won’t for Bora. 

 

She stumbles from the couch and meets Jimin at the door, her hands on his shoulders in a way that is supposed to comfort him. The contact is reassuring. 

 

Nothing about this makes sense. 

 

“At this point I’m too frustrated to try to understand magical dimensions and portals and all that,” Bora says. She bites her lip. Sorrow. She looks unsure. Her unmatched confidence wavers. “I don’t know how to tell you this in a way that makes sense to you, but you left through that bridge a long time ago to humans.” 

 

Dread. 

 

“How many days has it been?” Jimin’s voice cracks. He doesn’t want to know the answer. He doesn’t want to know how long Jungkook has thought of him as something only of the past.

 

Nothing makes sense.

 

Bora takes a deep breath, a solemn expression on her face like she is going to tell him he’s too late, that the bridge has closed. 

 

“Jimin, honey,” she starts slowly. "You’ve been gone for two years.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Have a good night! Enjoy!” Gahyeon sings as she hands the last customers their wrapped rice cake. The second the couple turns to leave, Gahyeon spins away from the door and rolls her eyes. Yoongi wishes them a safe drive as he slams the doors and locks them behind the customers. 

 

“Fucking hell, dude, we closed ten minutes ago!” Gahyeon groans.

 

Jungkook laughs and pats her shoulder as she slides down the counter. “Actually, it’s been fifteen. They walked in ten minutes ago. Thanks for locking the door on time, Yoongi.”

 

“I couldn’t find the keys. Hoseok dropped them behind the oven.”

 

Hoseok peers out of the kitchen. “You’d think they could read the ‘closed’ sign.”

 

“Customers can’t read,” Gaheyon mumbles into her knees. 

 

Jungkook crouches down next to her. “We said you could go home at noon. Your suffering is on you.” He offers a fake, cheesy smile that she scowls at. 

 

If Gahyeon turned down extra hours, Jungkook would think she had gone crazy. Her work ethic is unmatched, her perseverance unwavering. Jungkook has never met anyone as loud and persistent as her. 

 

Jungkook has never met anyone as loud and persistent as her, he reaffirms, and she does not remind him of anyone he once lived with.

 

“You had the hours. I thought I had the energy. I panicked, alright?”

 

“Well, I’m glad you stayed. I can’t get through two hours of dishes without you serenading the whole kitchen staff.”

 

“The whole staff? That’s just you.”

 

“Yes. Come on,” Jungkook says, pulling Gahyeon onto her feet. “Go home. We’ll finish closing tonight. Three adults can handle a few leftover dishes and the trash.”

 

“Technically it’s four on Fridays.” Gahyeon nods toward Woosung, reading a book on top of one of the tables, surrounded by notes and a backpack leaking highlighters and mechanical pencils. 

 

“If Woosung really wanted to be helpful,” Jungkook raises his voice and continues, “he would have stood by the door to make sure no one came in after ten!”

 

Woosung looks up from his textbook, blows Jungkook a kiss, then immerses himself back in the pages.

 

Jungkook is lucky to have bosses who let Woosung keep him company for the last couple hours of his shift before his boyfriend’s night classes. Every time he offers to help with cleanup, Hoseok turns him down and tells him that if he is going to be here, he better be studying and keeping his grades high, and every time Woosung rolls his eyes and obeys anyways.

 

Having all the people he cares about in one place at the end of the day is what gives him the strength to work ten hour shifts at the Magic Shoppe four days a week between the days he has classes. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

“We’ll be fine,” Yoongi says, leaning against the opposite side of the counter. He empties the tip jar on the counter above her. “You’re always here. It’s almost as if you like working for me or something.”

 

“Better this than spending my weekend at the theater with friends.”

 

“You are literally the only person I know who could say that and I’d believe it. Here,” Yoongi slides all the coins and bills to the edge of the counter over Gahyeon’s head. “It’s your overtime.”

 

Gahyeon shoots up, stepping away like accepting the money would hurt her. “I didn’t—”

 

“Go see a movie. The theater is open until midnight, right?”

 

She blinks rapidly, picking up one of the bills. “I wasn’t even out here today. I only rung up one steamed pork bun and a coffee.”

 

“Did you hear something, Jungkook?” Yoongi asks. He holds his hand behind his ear, furrowing his brow. 

 

Jungkook pretends to look for something around the room, the ceiling, and says, “I think there’s something in the rafters.”

 

“It sounds like an employee talking back to her boss,” Yoongi says.

 

Gahyeon laughs. It’s a cheery, genuine laugh that they only hear when she’s clocked out of customer service mode. Gahyeon’s smile brightens the Magic Shoppe even on their darkest days through the shittiest of customer interactions. 

 

“Fine. I’ll take the cash but I’m not seeing a movie.”

 

“Spend it on whatever you want,” Yoongi says. “Just make sure you have fun.”

 

“I’m going to use it to fuel my drug addiction,” she says. 

 

Yoongi freezes. Woosung looks up from his textbook. Hoseok stops the water in the kitchen.

 

“As long as you’re having fun!” Jungkook cheers. 

 

Gahyeon is going to spend the money on her college tuition, and they all know it. It’s all she wants. It’s why she never spends time out with friends or going to movies. If Yoongi wasn’t already paying her more than they could technically afford, he would overflow her savings.

 

All Jungkook can do for her is sneak small gifts and the day’s tips into her bag before she leaves. Last week Yoongi distracted her while Jungkook slipped her a new bottle of pink hair dye after she ran out and refused to spend her college savings on something she deemed nonessential. Her faded pink highlights have grown all the way to the ends again, just how they looked the first time Jungkook met her, painfully indicative of how much time has passed since he started working for Yoongi and Hoseok again.

 

Gahyeon looks down at the bills, then to Jungkook and Yoongi, checking if it’s really okay that she takes all their tips. “I don’t think I deserve—”

 

“Was that a rat I just heard?” Jungkook looks around the ceiling again. “I think we have rats. Yoongi, do we have rats?”

 

“Might have been an owl,” Yoongi says, following his gaze, ignoring the way Gahyeon rolls her eyes.  

 

Fine. Weirdos.” She laughs beautifully and swipes every coin and bill into her hand. “Happy?”

 

“That was definitely a rat,” Yoongi says. 

 

Hoseok bursts through the kitchen door armed with a wet plastic cup dripping with suds. “Again?” he yells.

 

“Yeah,” Gahyeon says. “Huge, stinky rats. All over. That’s a health hazard.”

 

Hoseok leans against the doorway, his hand over his heart like he’s out of breath. “You scared me. No fun allowed. Clock out before all shenanigans.” He flicks the cup in their direction, covering them all with soapy droplets before returning to the kitchen. 

 

“I already clocked out,” Yoongi says, grimacing as he smears the bubbles off his cheek.

 

“Me too,” Jungkook says. “Gahyeon, stop trying to get us in trouble.”

 

Gaheyon scoffs and wipes the back of her wet hand on Jungkook’s apron on her way to the register. 

 

“Yoongi, did you see that? Workplace harassment isn’t funny, Gahyeon.”

 

Yoongi looks up at the ceiling. “Anyone else hear a rat?”

 

“Unbelievable,” Jungkook sighs. He pulls his apron over his head as Gaheyon finishes clocking out. “Drive safe, Gahyeon.”

 

“You too!” Gahyeon waves. She rounds the corner to the breakroom to grab her backpack full of textbooks heavy as bricks as always. When she’s not working she’s studying, and she’s almost always singing. 

 

Having Gahyeon around adds color to the Magic Shoppe. More than that, she’s hilarious and has a beautiful voice that makes Jungkook hate dishes a little less, and her memes are god-tier. Mopping still sucks, but not even the sound of a siren’s song could change that for him. 

 

If sirens existed. 

 

Which they don’t. 

 

Jungkook joins Hoseok in the kitchen and takes on the last stack of tea plates to scrub. He is allowed to work after clocking out because his family owns the store. Gahyeon has to leave because no one will let her do work when she doesn’t have to, even when she insists. 

 

The front doors open. When Jungkook turns around he can barely see the end of the cashwrap through the kitchen door from this angle. He can see enough to notice Gahyeon left without taking her tips. 

 

Jungkook looks over to Hoseok, whose hands are already dry. “Will you take that cash out to Gahyeon? My hands are full.”

 

“She thinks she’s sneaky, trying to leave her money for the rest of us to have to clean up, doesn’t she?” Hoseok follows her out while wiping his hands on his apron.

 

Jungkook turns on some music in Gahyeon’s absence. Without her, the only thing that can distract him from how much he hates dishes is blasting bubblegum pop that Yoongi hates, so Jungkook closes the kitchen door and puts his playlist on shuffle. It’s hard to be miserable when Orange Caramel is playing. 

 

Hoseok is taking his time with Gahyeon’s money. Or, he really abandoned Jungkook to clean everything else by himself. The latter sounds more believable. 

 

Only one song in and the dishes completely washed, Jungkook wipes his hands on a towel, turns off his music, and pushes through the kitchen door. 

 

“Hoseok, how could you leave me with a…”

 

Gahyeon never left. Hoseok is still holding a pile of bills, standing next to her with his arm in front of her. Woosung is no longer on the table, positioned between Jungkook and the open Magic Shoppe doors.

 

Behind him are two human sized pixie wings, translucent and still. 

 

Yoongi rushes over to Jungkook. “Nope,” he says. “Back. Kitchen. Now.”

 

“What? Who is—”

 

“Jungkook!” 

 

It’s the voice of a pixie. 

 

No. 

 

No. No. No. No. No.

 

“Jungkook, seriously, let us handle this—”

 

Jungkook pushes past Yoongi and rounds the cashwrap. Behind the wall that is his boyfriend stands a worried, impatient looking man who once claimed he was a pixie in this very room. 

 

Jungkook thought he knew what he would say if he saw him again.

 

I knew you’d come back.

 

I missed you.

 

How could you leave me?

 

I like your wings. 

 

If by some miracle, or work of the devil, Jimin did return, Jungkook rehearsed an invisible script to ease his anxiety. His script changed as time went on. At first, he would hug him, promise him he never forgot, welcome him back and ask if he was here to stay. Siyeon and Bora would be there. Nothing in the scenarios he played over and over in his head to prepare for the impossibility of Jimin standing in front of him feels like the right thing to say. 

 

Weeks turned to months and to years, and Jungkook left out the part about the hug. He left Siyeon and Bora at the ocean when Siyeon told him what had happened—what it was he forgot, what she forgot, what Jimin forgot, what Bora forgot. She told him what the thief who stole the stars from the night sky done, and why he couldn’t remember falling in love with Jimin more than once. 

 

After a while, Jungkook’s script turned to anger and spite. He wrote and rewrote it in class, in therapy, lying in bed at night unable to sleep knowing that he and Jimin are bound by some higher magic he can’t even comprehend, and knowing that Siyeon’s motivations to help them had nothing to do with the bro code or anything genuine and of this world. 

 

Eventually Jungkook decided he didn’t need a script because he would never see Jimin again. He found his peace. He moved on. He got back with Woosung and moved in with him after years of being apart. It wasn’t like their six month relationship during high school was going to last anyways. They just didn’t meet at the right time. 

 

And it’s not like a one month relationship—”relationship”—with Jimin was going to last. They were never supposed to meet again. 

 

And somehow, here he is, and Jungkook can’t remember a single word from the torn up pages of his journal. His angry, sad, hopeful fantasies could never prepare him. 

 

“What the fuck am I supposed to do now?” he asks, voice shaking, fists gripped tight at his sides. “What am I supposed to say?”

 

“I—I never left for good. I mean, I did, but it wasn’t for very long, and I came back to T—”

 

“Stop!” Jungkook yells. “Stop.”

 

Jimin freezes with his mouth open, still caught on the word Terra. 

 

Terra is a term that pixies use to refer to Earth, or the human’s domain. There are no more pixies on Earth. It isn’t safe.

 

Jungkook didn’t stop Jimin because he doesn’t want to hear his explanation, because he sure as hell does. He stopped him because there are people in the room who couldn’t understand. The giant wings could be explained as a costume. The brown dust that falls from the tips could be a trick of the light. The rest of Jimin is dangerous. 

 

Jungkook thought the danger had left him. He thought what he saw in the bluebells was the last of their story. He thought changing his mind about staying where the magic left his life would rid him of the stress of being caught. He wouldn’t have anything to worry about beyond bills and loans and being late to work or class. He wouldn’t be under the stress of being sought after by the worst of humanity and child of the literal stars. 

 

He wouldn’t have to worry about kissing someone who puffs out dust, or seeing the black cloud of a panic attack blot out the room. He wouldn’t have anxiety every therapy session that it really was all a delusion, a trip, a defense mechanism to cope with some long forgotten trauma. 

 

Seeing Jimin now, a tangible being with comprehensible feelings, vivid wings spread wide, impedes the belief that Jimin was a figment of his imagination. Magic does exist, just not on Earth anymore.

 

“Siyeon told me that it doesn’t matter if I can hear your heart if I don’t know how to listen to mine and—”

 

“He doesn’t want to talk to you,” Woosung snaps. 

 

Jimin flinches. Jungkook notices, only because he’s looking for it, a faint cloud of red fall to the ground behind Jimin. He really is a pixie. 

 

If Jungkook stands very still and says nothing, maybe Jimin will leave and forget about him. 

 

“He does want to listen to me,” Jimin says. He isn’t scary yet. He still looks human. 

 

“You don’t have to say anything, Kook. We’ll take care of it,” Yoongi says. 

 

Jungkook does want to listen to Jimin. He doesn’t want to hear his voice or see him express human emotion, but he does want to find closure. Once he gets his explanation, Jungkook can put an end to his worries, theories, dependency on Jimin as his Tomorrow. The chance to move on, something never offered to Jungkook before, is why Jungkook wants listen. 

 

He brushes past Yoongi and Woosung until he is right in front of Jimin, staring down at him with emotions even he as a human can’t identify. 

 

It’s everything he never knew he wanted, and at the same time, the worst possible outcome. 

 

Jimin looks almost human the way he displays his feelings genuinely in his expression, holding nothing back. Woosung is fuming, also holding nothing back. Jungkook is thankful his boyfriend isn’t the type to beat up his ex before Jungkook intervened. 

 

Woosung would never hurt someone like that.

 

Jimin isn’t his ex. 

 

No matter how he describes his relationship to other humans, what terminology he uses to categorize their relationship, what he and Jimin had was always meant to be temporary. It didn’t last longer than intended. 

 

“Why are you here?” Jungkook asks, biting back the urge to throw a table. 

 

“Bora said I’ve been gone for two years and Siyeon said that you’re not the same Jungkook I knew. Is that true?”

 

The sound of voice sends Jungkook into hysteria. 

 

Like a habit, like a reflex, Jungkook knows he has to stay calm for Jimin just stay calm for Jimin.

 

“If Siyeon said so, why would you ask me?”

 

“I don’t know. I was hoping she was wrong.”

 

Jungkook laughs bitterly. “When has Siyeon ever been wrong?” 

 

Siyeon was never wrong, only once corrected.

 

“Jungkook,” Hoseok cuts in, “can you maybe not discuss...this stuff in front of...them?” Hoseok says. Jungkook remembers he and Jimin aren’t alone. 

 

“Whatever Jungkook has to say, he can say it in front of me,” Woosung says. 

 

“He really can’t,” Yoongi says. “It’s complicated.”

 

“So what? Jungkook’s told me about his exes. I know all about Jimin, except the fairy cosplay.”

 

“I’m not a fairy. You don’t know me.” Now Jimin is getting angry. His dust tells as Woosung steps between Jimin and Jungkook. 

 

Jungkook isn’t sure who to defend—Jimin, from his boyfriend’s jealousy, or Woosung, from Jimin’s magic. 

 

“You fucked off two years ago without even saying goodbye,” Woosung says, ignoring Yoongi’s warning. Jungkook almost stops him. “You don’t get to speak for Jungkook. You don’t know the current him, or anything about him. You knew nothing about his life before you abandoned him.”

 

For the most part, Jungkook doesn’t regret sharing his feelings about Jimin with Woosung. Without going into specifics, he explained why he was afraid of starting a new relationship. Before he and Woosung started dating again, Jungkook only told him a vague story about an ex who left under complicated circumstances.

 

Five months into their relationship, Jungkook told Woosung Jimin’s name. Jungkook was angry, reasonably so, and shared more details about Jimin, like how stubborn he was, and honest. How he was hard to argue against because he always had to be right, even when he was wrong about so many things. About how all the things he found endearing in the moment left him feeling frustrated when he no longer felt the need to excuse Jimin’s arrogance on account of him being from a different world.

 

Jungkook told Woosung that he would be fine knowing Jimin is somewhere out there without him because he never shared the intimate details about his life with Jimin as he did with Woosung. He left out the reason, being that they had no time for backstory, and that Jungkook’s life wasn’t relevant in Jimin’s curriculum. 

 

Their relationship boiled down to mentor and student, magically bonded because their stars, or whatever, were stuck together with the strongest glue in the universe. 

 

“I know everything he’s feeling,” Jimin says, surprisingly calm considering the implications of crimson dust. 

 

“Really? You think you knew him? You didn’t even know his birthday!”

 

Jimin is holding back. Jungkook thinks the room might explode from the tension. 

 

“Or what about his family?” Woosung continues. “His favorite color? His favorite song? You knew nothing—”

 

“His favorite color is green,” Jimin says. 

 

Oh, no. 

 

“It’s orange, asshole.”

 

“It’s orange now?” Jimin asks Jungkook. He isn’t upset at Woosung’s response. He looks almost delighted before his expression fades back into a scowl.

 

Jungkook changed his mind when he missed Jimin’s fiery hair, his wings, the dust clouds reflecting his joy. Orange reminds him of his pixie.

 

He holds his forearm where he regretfully commissioned a tattoo of pixie wings in Jimin’s exact colors. It was two months after Jimin’s departure, before his anger phase, when he wanted the constant reminder that his soul was bound to a pixie he would never see again. 

 

The tattoo artist laughed at Jungkook’s request, claiming there had been dozens before him who requested the design after the exhibit opened. The idea that there were that many people in the world with Jimin’s body pictured on theirs made Jungkook sick. They don’t deserve him. 

 

“And what about his family?” Woosung continues. “His—”

 

“Woosung, please stop,” Jungkook says. 

 

Woosung shakes his head. “No. You don’t have to deal with him anymore. You’ve already been through so much shit, everything he put you through—”

 

Woosung. Stop. Please.”

 

It was easier to pretend he knew what he would feel if he saw Jimin again. Knowing Jimin is back, Jungkook could never live a normal human life with a normal human boyfriend working a normal human job. Yoongi and Hoseok have Gahyeon now. They don’t need him. 

 

Jungkook shakes away the crazy fantasy in which he and Jimin live the rest of their happy, possibly eternal lives together. It’s just not realistic.

 

“I’m not going to leave again.” Jimin says, turning back to Jungkook. 

 

“How do I know that?” Jungkook doesn’t mean to say it out loud. 

 

“Hye kicked me out. I can’t go home. Hye won’t allow it and the bridge closed—”

 

“Stop!’ Jungkook covers Jimin’s mouth with his hand. “Nope. None of that.”

 

“But you asked,” Jimin says, muffled through Jungkook’s fingers. 

 

Jungkook drops his hand. “Don’t tell me how long you were gone, but, it wasn’t two years, was it?”

 

Jimin shakes his head. 

 

Jungkook knows what it’s like to return to a home where he is no longer welcome. If Jungkook were in Jimin’s situation, he would want to be heard and understood. 

 

And if he’s being honest, Jungkook has had a pretty boring last two years. No magical ice cream cake that never melts, no pixie dust to wash out of his hair, no tears that become diamonds when they fall, no nature documentaries to watch with someone equally as enthusiastic about nature documentaries. 

 

Woosung was convenient. It wouldn’t be fair to Woosung to continue like Jungkook doesn’t already have a soulmate. It wouldn’t be fair to Jimin—who, for all he knows, could have only been gone a year, or even less—not to give him a chance. 

 

As if by magic from the cosmical contract that held Jungkook and Jimin’s stars in place together insuring they would always find each other, so they would never forget each other, all of Jungkook’s animosity towards Jimin fades in an instant. 

 

He looks around the room, lightheaded as he notices everyone staring at the giant pixie wings in front of the door. Like the last time they were here, the first time they met, Jungkook needs to protect the one he couldn’t yesterday, and Jimin is here to give him his second chance. 

 

Jungkook turns to Yoongi. “Did he break the door again?”

 

“This isn’t even the first time?” Woosung asks, incredulous. “Is he that strong?”

 

“He ripped the lock right out,” Hoseok admits. 

 

“Yeah, I saw that. You,” Woosung points at Jimin, “need to get help. Steroids will fuck you up. You need to leave. I’ll call you a taxi.”

 

“He’s not on drugs,” Jungkook says.

 

“And you don’t need to defend him. I saw him bust the fucking lock,” Woosung yells, motioning at the wide open doors, beyond which anyone could walk by and see Jimin’s wings out. 

 

Woosung is passionate. He would never hurt anyone on purpose. He would never call the cops on an addict. He’s smarter than that, and Jungkook wouldn’t be dating him otherwise. Since they have been together for nine months, Jungkook can’t blame him for his reaction. He cares about Jungkook. It’s why he’s so defensive. If he knew who Jimin was, what how unique and incomprehensible his situation is, he would understand. 

 

If he knew who Jimin was he would be in danger. 

 

“What’s going on, Jungkook?” Jimin asks. 

 

Jungkook didn’t know what he was doing with his charade as a scholar, thinking he was qualified to teach Jimin about the complexities of human emotions and how to deal with them when he himself doesn’t even know the word for Jimin’s pain—a cocktail of jealousy, betrayal, aggrievance, inexplicable hurt. 

 

No one here knows what they’re doing with their own emotions. 

 

“Jimin,” the name tastes bitter, “you’ve been gone a long time, and h—” he stops at the word humans. “I can’t explain everything right now.”

 

Jimin is close to tears. He is shaking and fighting to hold back the blue dust that escapes despite his efforts. 

 

“Just tell me why it hurts,” Jimin pleads, clenching his sweater over his chest where a human’s heart would be and crushing Jungkook’s heart in only six words. “You never taught me about this one.”

 

Jungkook steps toward Jimin before Woosung stops him with a hand on his shoulder. It would be comforting if everyone in the room was human without the ability to hear someone’s intentions in their heartbeat. 

 

Jungkook saw how Jimin reacted with jealousy to the concept of humans preferring fairies—he is decidedly not a fairy—and between the fairy comment and the way he’s the one holding Jungkook away from him, Woosung doesn’t have a good case against Jimin’s predispositions about humans. 

 

Hoseok panics when he sees Jimin dust. He knows what Jimin can do with it, at least the scary parts. He tries to put himself between Jimin and Jungkook, as if Jimin would ever use his dust to hurt Jungkook. 

 

When Hoseok approaches, Jimin’s stance widens. 

 

“Stay back,” he demands softly. A single spark flies from his fingertips. Jungkook lunges for Jimin’s hand before his dust starts to swirl. 

 

“Calm down. Please,” Jungkook begs. 

 

You’re not even calm!” Jimin tightens his grip around Jungkook’s hand. Even human-sized his hands are small, and his fingers barely wrap all the way around Jungkook’s. “No one here is calm. When I saw you before I crossed the bridge, your heart sounded—”

 

Stop—”

 

“The same as it did when you and that human were—”

 

Jungkook breaks away from Jimin’s vice grip and covers his mouth again, the only way to ensure Jimin will actually stop talking, because he won’t listen to Jungkook. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. 

 

“‘Human?’” Woosung repeats. 

 

Jimin pushes Jungkook’s hand away. “I know I’m not supposed to be out in the open,” he says. “I had to come because Bora said I needed to see you and she said you would be here and I don’t know how to hide my wings yet and if I didn’t find you I would die, you know I would die, because we would both be unhappy, and I don’t want to die on Terra!” Jimin takes a breath and finally starts to cry.  

 

Jungkook is useless to stop him. He’s talking faster than Jungkook can think. 

 

“And Siyeon said that feeling so many emotions made me too much like a human to go home ever again and that Seokjin is right about you being my Tomorrow—” his breath hitches as he soaks up his tears with the end of his sleeve. Some escape, clattering on the wood as they harden. “And I hated being at home because I couldn’t feel anything anymore and I only remembered you because I heard Siyeon’s voice—”

 

“Enough—” Yoongi tries. Jimin is relentless, and much louder. 

 

“And when we made the contract about Simi and the kissing I was teasing you—the contracts were fake. I did it because it sounded like it made you happy and you said you’re happy when I am and I know you have other ways to be happy but I don’t know how to be happy without you!” 

 

Jimin’s words echo off the high ceilings and nail Jungkook in the chest. Jimin is crying, heaving, overwhelmed by the confusion and chaos in all their hearts. The air rings with silence. Nothing feels like the right thing to say.

 

“Did you understand any of that?” Woosung asks, breaking the barrier between Jungkook’s sudden flood of emotions and the world around him.  

 

Jungkook understood every word. He knew it all already. Except the part about the contracts being fake. 

 

“You’re Jimin,” Gahyeon says. It isn’t a question. 

 

With Hoseok no longer guarding her from the chaos between Jungkook, his jealous human boyfriend, and his dangerous pixie soulmate, Gahyeon pushes in front of Jungkook and Woosung to stare directly into Jimin’s eyes, unafraid, as the only person in the room without a clue about Jimin. 

 

Now Jungkook has gotten her involved. 

 

This was not supposed to happen tonight. If Jimin was going to come back, it would have been sooner, and when Jungkook was alone, or with Siyeon and Bora. He was not supposed to come crashing through these doors again, hurt and afraid because everything is new and intimidating. He was not supposed to feel emotions again and be subject to the harsh atmosphere devoid of all magic that humans have to live in. Jungkook was not supposed to fall in love with a pixie.

 

“I am Jimin,” he answers. 

 

Gahyeon reaches for a handshake. Jungkook never taught him that one.  

 

“I’m Gahyeon.” 

 

Jimin looks down at her hand, then up to Jungkook for an answer. When he doesn’t take it, Gahyeon drops her hand. 

 

“You look familiar.”

 

Jungkook didn’t tell her much, and he never showed her pictures. She picked up what little she knows from conversations he had with Hoseok when he thought the water was running loud enough.

 

“We’ve never—” Jimin’s lips continue to move, however, no words come out as he can’t finish his thought. “I don’t know who you are,” he says instead.

 

“Jungkook didn’t talk about you much. You left before I got to formally meet you.”

 

“Not for very long,” Jimin says. 

 

Jungkook is surprised he’s even having this conversation with her. 

 

“Two years is a long time to most people.”

 

“It wasn’t two years.” 

 

“Well,” Gahyeon sighs, “I’m going to say it, because we’re all thinking it. You’re not exactly people, are you.” It isn’t a question.

 

Jimin says nothing.

 

“What gave it away?” Yoongi mutters. “The wings? The real, magical wings?”

 

“Yoongi,” Jungkook warns. 

 

“There’s no coming back from that rant, Jungkook. They’re not stupid.” 

 

“There’s also the dust,” Hoseok adds. “The exhibit was all over the news. Whether or not you told us anything about him, we all know what a pixie looks like.”

 

“I didn’t know about the super strength,” Gahyeon chimes in. “They left that part out at the exhibit.”

 

“You saw him?” Jungkook panics like it’s not already painfully obvious what’s happening.  

 

“We talked, actually.” Gahyeon eyes Jimin up and down. “Sort of.”

 

“No,” Woosung cuts in, pushing between Jungkook and Gahyeon to cut them off. “Hold on. Wait. Are you talking about the pixie from the zoo? That was just a hologram. He’s wearing a Halloween costume.”

 

Hoseok and Yoongi turn their heads in opposite directions, away from Woosung, avoiding eye contact when he tries to reason with them. Gahyeon bites her lip. She looks embarrassed for him. 

 

“Jungkook, help me out here.”

 

“Jimin’s human,” he lies. Woosung knows Jungkook enough to know he’s lying, and for that he does not need magical heart hearing abilities.

 

“I’m not—” Jimin tries. “I’m a…” He can’t finish. He is still pixie enough that he can’t lie, and human enough that he can’t go home. “I’m something…”

 

“It doesn’t matter what you are, so don’t hurt yourself trying to figure it out,” Jungkook says.

 

“I just—I don’t know what’s happening,” Jimin cries. “I don’t kn—know what I am.” He sniffs, wipes his eyes, can’t catch his breath when he begins hyperventilating through his tears. “I don’t know why you’re not—why aren’t you happy to see me?”

 

Jungkook is afraid to move. Even when Jimin’s breathing slows and he can see clearly now that the dust has settled, he is at a loss. The urge to comfort Jimin and tell him it will all wash away, that all he needs is a bubble bath that never cools and a slice of cake with homemade hibiscus frosting, combats Jungkook’s yearning to continue the peaceful normalcy with his family he fought against the stars themselves to find.

 

Seeing Jimin like this, shrouded in the blues of his dust, the regret, rejection, and the diamonds that form from his tears, Jungkook recognizes only Jimin under the glittery clouds that would look magnificent had Jungkook not learned what these colors mean. Not a pixie or a human or anything of this world, just Jimin.

 

No one, not even Siyeon, knows what exactly Seokjin created by bringing Jimin to this realm. Though he is a pixie, there is more beneath those wings than any one thing could be. Pixies do not feel emotions, and humans do not have dust. Pixies do not belong in this realm just as much as humans do not belong in Hyeastra.

 

Thanks to their stars and to Seokjin, the only place in the universe Jimin belongs is with Jungkook.

 

He already lost Jimin twice. A third time would be unacceptable, and Jungkook knows that if he says goodbye to Jimin tonight, regret will corrode his heart for the rest of his life, and Jimin’s for the rest of eternity. They need time to figure this out somewhere only they know, and that place is not the Magic Shoppe.  

 

“Has Siyeon taken you to the bluebells?”

 

Jimin shakes his head, too choked up to speak.

 

Jimin probably doesn’t know any more than he did the night he left. It took Jungkook three whole days to recover emotionally from what he saw, and since then his brain has walled off the memories in defense of his own sanity. He can’t let Jimin go on alone knowing what he forgot. Jungkook has to be there with him in the bluebells, he owes him that much for being a part of the reason Jimin is still in this mess of a realm.  

 

“Siyeon can still alter a human’s memories, right?” Jungkook says like he’s going to see Siyeon again. “She doesn’t need to create a second life to do that?”

 

Jimin huffs. It could have been a laugh. It’s hard to tell. “All she needs is dust as long as the memories are fresh.”

 

“Okay,” Jungkook lets out a deep breath, rolling his shoulders and preparing for the most stupid decision he has made in over two years. “We should hurry, then.”

 

Every face in the room asks him the same question he is asking himself. Is he really going through with this?

 

“What? No!” Gahyeon erupts. “I don’t want that! I promise I won’t tell! I’m cool, okay? I fully support your interspecies relationship!” she pleads with Jungkook, eyes sparkling with hope. 

 

“Could she do that the whole time?” Yoongi asks. “Did she do something to you in high school?”

 

“Not to me, specifically. Well, at least not in high school. She probably messed with the teachers, though.”

 

“Are you talking about the Siyeon we shared classes with?” Woosung asks. “Lee Siyeon? Like, from-biology-Siyeon who threw a beaker at my head without touching it?”

 

High school Woosung probably deserved it. He’s changed. Siyeon really hasn’t. 

 

“I didn’t know she could do that,” Hoseok says. 

 

“Are you all trying to make me think I’m crazy, or does everyone here believe magic exists?”

 

No one answers. Had he the power, Jungkook would not only jumble up their memories from tonight, he would eradicate Jimin from Woosung’s mind entirely.

 

“Can she erase memories completely?” Jungkook asks. Jimin’s safety is riding on her abilities. There’s nothing Jungkook can do to deescalate the situation.  

 

Jimin bites his lip, looking at the floor. “I think she stopped committing war crimes after her banishment.”

 

What a sentence to drop. Jungkook can’t follow that up. 

 

“War crimes,” Hoseok repeats. “You were harboring an intergalactic war criminal?”

 

“She was harboring us, first of all,” Jungkook says, “and she’s more like an inter-realm war criminal.” 

 

Seeing Hoseok’s eyes widen, the way Yoongi takes a step back, how Gahyeon’s jaw drops, reminds Jungkook of how badass it is that he used to be best friends with a warlock.

 

“Jimin says she’s the most powerful warlock to exist—”

 

“One of the most—”

 

“And she would do anything to keep Jimin safe. Including wiping your memories. Or worse, if any of you were thinking about being a narc.” Jungkook eyes the other humans in the room, a dare.

 

“I swear,” Gahyeon takes Jungkook’s hand, “I would never, ever, call the cops on anyone.” 

 

Jungkook didn’t even have to radicalize her. She’s been smart the whole time. 

 

He is going to miss Gahyeon and Yoongi and Hoseok and Woosung while he accompanies Jimin to the bluebells and through the potential aftereffects. It shouldn’t be more than a few days.

 

It will not be more than a few days, he reaffirms.

 

“I know you wont,” Jungkook says and squeezes her hand for reassurance before dropping it. He turns to Yoongi. “How bad did he break the door this time?”

 

Yoongi swings one of the doors on its hinges. The wood cracks and it refuses to close. 

 

“He annihilated them. And he’s leaking dust. I’m going to have to buy new floors. There’s still glitter in here from last time.”

 

Just a few days. He fears if he says as much out loud, Jimin might call him out for lying.

 

“Take it out of my paycheck.” Jungkook pushes past them to the breakroom to grab his bag. “And give the rest to Gahyeon.”

 

It may be a bit more than a few days.

 

Jungkook has done some pretty stupid things in his life. He knew he was stupid the moment he pulled down Jimin’s mask and opened his heart to a pixie who was never going to commit his life to Terra. He was reckless and impulsive back then. He is still reckless and impulsive, just not stupid enough to abandon Jimin. It might be childish impulse, the anticipation of a new beginning, or it might be the magical pull from a cosmic level that will not allow Jungkook to let Jimin leave alone, that decides what he wants for him.

 

Jungkook brushes past Hoseok, pulling his car keys from his pocket and grabbing an energy drink from the cooler behind the register. 

 

“Kook,” Hoseok warns, “if what I think it happening is happening, it better not be.”

 

He pays no attention to Hoseok. He doesn’t know where he’s going to take Jimin yet. Somewhere far from the busy city where Jimin can fly freely.

 

Gahyeon looks just as enthused as Jimin while Yoongi and Hoseok have a silent conversation about Jungkook with their eyes. He doesn’t care and pretends not to notice.

 

“Did I miss something?” Woosung asks. 

 

Right. Jungkook almost forgot to break up with his boyfriend before getting back with his ex. 

 

“It’s complicated,” Jungkook says.

 

“I can see that.”

 

When he looks up into Woosung’s eyes he sees a man who is patient and loyal and supportive in every sense of the word. He tries to find something behind them, something golden and glowing. All he sees is a human. He won’t lie and say it will all be okay for them.

 

“I’ll call you and we can talk about this another time and you don’t deserve this but—” Jungkook looks over to Jimin, just as confused as Woosung, “—but, I have a soulmate already. Like, a literal, actual soulmate.”

 

“Your soulmate is a pixie,” Woosung laughs, shaking his head. “With super strength? Who escaped from an exhibit and broke up with you two years ago?” 

 

“Yes.”

 

“And you wouldn’t call me crazy for not believing you, right?” Woosung touches Jungkook’s shoulder. “Jungkook, I love you, but…”

 

Jimin tenses. Jungkook steps away and pulls him to his side. He is not ready to break up with Woosung yet. More than anything, he just wants to see Jimin safe and happy, and he can work out the details of what this means for his human relationships when he is ready to slow down. If he doesn’t keep his momentum going, he might do something stupid like decide to stay. 

 

Despite everything, Jimin is still his Tomorrow. Something like a soulmate. Someone whose literal stars are bound together with the only thing in the universe stronger than stardust.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook addresses the room. Then to Woosung, “I’ll call you, okay?”

 

“You’re not kidding? He’s really a pixie? And you’re really just—just leaving with him? This is so unlike you, Kook.”

 

The nickname almost breaks Jungkook’s momentum. 

 

Everyone here has abandonment issues. Which is why Jungkook isn’t abandoning him. It’s more of a sabbatical. 

 

“I’m not breaking up with you,” Jungkook says, thankful Jimin doesn’t understand what any of this means. Jimin doesn’t need to know he’s been kissing another boy for nine months. “I’ll call you.” 

 

Woosung kisses Jungkook’s cheek. Jimin’s hand tightens. Jungkook squeezes back to reassure him and guides him out the broken doors of the Magic Shoppe.  

 

Jungkook is stupid. He knew this the second he kissed a pixie he knew would be leaving in a month. When he decided it was okay to fall in love with someone who was going to leave this realm never to return. When he got a tattoo of Jimin’s wings. 

 

“Do I really get his paycheck?” Gahyeon asks. “Because if I do, I totally don’t mind you fucking off with your ex. No judgement here.”

 

“What about classes?” Yoongi follows behind Jungkook. “Car payments? Your stuff in Woosung’s apartment?”

 

Jimin looks like he’s finally caught up to what’s happening and lets a cloud of orange dust fly that leaves the other humans coughing.

 

“I can do that online. And I can get new things.”

 

“I’ll clear your stuff out of Woosung’s house if you let me keep your flannels!” Gahyeon offers. 

 

“See? None of you have to do any work. Thanks, Gahyeon. I’ll text you too.”

 

Gahyeon bounces and cheers at the promise of a dozen flannels. “Drive safe!” is the last thing he hears before she closes the broken doors behind them.

 

“I’m confused,” Jimin says when Jungkook stops at his car. It’s nothing fancy—at least it’s not a ratty old van. And it has bluetooth. 

 

“What about?” He pulls Jimin’s door open and Jimin reluctantly lets go of his hand. 

 

“You’re really happy.”

 

“Yes.” Jungkook slides in and pulls his door closed. “I’m extremely happy to see you. Euphoric. Elated. Bewildered. I’m on cloud nine and I don’t want to slow down enough to regret it, so let’s go. Close your door.”

 

Jimin closes his door and adjusts uncomfortably in his seat so his wings don’t bend. They angle down on either side of him to avoid the roof of the car, tucked behind his back, sticking out through two slits in the back of his sweater. 

 

“The human you called Woosung said he loves you.”

 

“Seatbelt,” Jungkook says. He wants to hear Jimin’s voice, listen to music, anything but talk about his feelings for Woosung. It is going to catch up to him, and hopefully they will be hours away before that happens. 

 

To his surprise, Jimin puts on his seatbelt without arguing or bargaining for a kiss. “When he said—"

 

“Let’s not talk about Woosung. Anything else.”

 

“But it was a harp when he did a kiss with you. I saw it when I came back. He’s clearly fond of you. I don’t understand why you weren’t terrified.”

 

“Jimin, please, I don’t want to talk about this right now. Just tell me how you’re doing. What was it like being home?”

 

Jimin never talked about home. Hyeastra. Jungkook was afraid to ask because he didn’t want to think about Jimin leaving. Now that there is no daunting countdown of their days left with each other, it’s Jungkook’s turn to ask questions. 

 

“Did he hurt you?” Jimin asks. 

 

“Never. How is Bora?” Jungkook asks. Jimin has no grasp on the concept of trying to change the subject.

 

“If he loves you he’s going to come after you.”

 

It’s almost like Jimin is trying to change his mind. 

 

“Nothing bad is going to happen because of Woosung, I promise. I’ll make a magical contract with you if you don’t believe me. Woosung loves me, yeah, but we’ll work it out. And I—” Jungkook pauses. 

 

Does he?

 

“And I love you. So, don’t worry about it.”

 

Fuck it. He loves Jimin. It doesn’t matter that they only knew each other for a month two years ago. What matters is their incredibly complicated circumstance in which it would be literally impossible for Jungkook not to love him. That’s what soulmates are. That’s what Tomorrows are. 

 

He doesn’t expect Jimin to say it back. He also doesn’t expect the silence that follows. He is about to pull onto the road when he looks over to see that Jimin’s eyes are wide and he’s recoiled against the door.

 

“Sarcasm, right?”

 

“No, I mean it.” And he has no choice after what Seokjin did to them. 

 

It has been ten minutes and Jungkook already scared Jimin. He’s had him back for ten minutes and Jimin already looks like he’d rather be anywhere but near him.

 

“I know love can be scary—”

 

“That’s all love is. It’s terrifying. Why would you say something like that?”

 

Jimin’s wings darken with his dust, flickering from sunset orange to brown, and forest green to dark grey. Purple, Jungkook’s least favorite color, lands on the dashboard.

 

“What did Seokjin tell you about love?”

 

“Seokjin didn’t talk about love. What do you think love is?”

 

If Jungkook knew the answer, if any human knew the answer, the world would be a less complicated place. Philosophers would be out of a job. 

 

“Love is something lots of mammals feel when they like something or someone a lot in a special way. It’s not scary. Well, it’s not supposed to be scary, even though admitting you love someone is scary sometimes.”

 

“The man with fake eyes said he loves me a lot.”

 

The way Jimin spent his whole time on Earth being afraid of love, of all things, makes Jungkook’s stomach twist. He hasn’t been this angry with anyone since he saw the bastard on the TV screen with his sick fake eyes and crooked smile. 

 

Jungkook grips the wheel tight. He hasn’t thought about him in years. No one has been able to find him since Jimin’s escape. If he’s lucky, Seokjin got to him before Jungkook could. He would love to see how Doctor Yoon likes the feeling of his limbs ripped off and flaunted in front of him.

 

When Jungkook feels his emotions and dark fantasies about what he would do to Doctor Yoon spiral, he takes a breath to stay calm for Jimin.

 

“That man is a piece of shit and I promise you, Jimin,” Jungkook waits until Jimin is looking at him to continue, “he did not love you. He was obsessed with you. He got joy from seeing you hurt, and that’s not love.”

 

Jimin’s expression softens. He believes Jungkook. 

 

“Do you remember when we watched The Last Unicorn? And how she fell in love with the prince? Did that not teach you anything about how good love can be?”

 

“I thought he was evil. Why else would he love her?”

 

“He liked her a lot, though.”

 

“Well, he’s also the reason she could never be a true unicorn again. While she was stuck as a human it was his fault he made her feel regret and love against her will and too many human emotions to…”

 

Jimin stops suddenly, eyes welling with tears before he brushes them away with his sleeve.

 

To ever go back home.

 

At the time, Jungkook knew Bora’s choice of movie was a bit too accurate, only, he never expected it would become his reality.

 

She couldn’t have known.

 

“What about the documentaries we watched talking about mother lions loving their cubs so much, they would defend them from anything?”

 

Jimin tugs at his seatbelt, staring expressionless out the windshield. “The man with fake eyes said he would keep me safe in the operating room.”

 

“He’s a liar and a sicko. He didn’t love you, and I am so sorry you’ve spent all this time being afraid of the most wonderful human emotion you can feel.”

 

“Well, I’ve never felt it.” 

 

“I think you have. When your dust is pink.”

 

“That one is love?”

 

According to Siyeon, pink dust makes the strongest love potions. It has to be love. 

 

When he told Woosung he loved him, it was different from what he feels for Jimin. With Jimin it’s stronger. It’s more potent. It’s something magical that he can’t understand, he’s never felt it before. 

 

“Yeah, that’s what love feels like.”

 

“So, if you like someone a lot, you love them?” Jimin asks.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Jungkook waits for Jimin to finish his thought. Maybe with a confirmation—something that clicked about Jungkook. Instead, he contemplates. Jungkook pulls onto the road. 

 

Jungkook might have some regrets in the morning when his decisions catch up to him. Chugging an entire candy-flavored energy drink before a five hour drive is going to be the least of his problems. 

 

They drive in silence, deafening after the weight of their conversation. Jungkook turns up the heat in the car just to hear something, focuses on the rain tapping the roof, the splash of his tires on the road as he pulls onto the highway that takes them to the ocean. 

 

Soon he can’t handle the silence. If he doesn’t have something to ground him, he might start to reflect on his actions and that’s never a good thing.  

 

“How long were you gone?” he asks. 

 

“You asked me not to tell you.”

 

“Yeah, in front of the humans. It’s just me now.”

 

“You’re a human.”

 

“I don’t count.”

 

“Fifteen minutes.”

 

Fifteen minutes.

 

Fifteen minutes ago, Jungkook kissed Jimin goodbye and broke down in front of Siyeon and Bora before he said goodbye to his soulmate and cried over the sight of two half empty bottles and some cake. He’s the same pixie he was the last time Jungkook saw him.

 

Jungkook hopes he’s not the same man he was two years ago. After Siyeon confessed to the reason she was banished from Hyeastra, and explained the harrowing reality of Jungkook’s situation which she kept from him the entire time they’ve known each other, Jungkook did not come out of that conversation the same. 

 

Humans aren’t equipped to deal with the stress of knowing their best friend from high school was wrongfully accused of murdering her crush’s girlfriend. He tried to rationalize that their fate wasn’t her fault, however, no matter how he looked at the timeline, thought about all the opportunities she had to tell Jungkook before he had to say goodbye to his fabricated soulmate, he couldn’t bring himself to speak to her again until he had a chance to work out his feelings far away from the source of his angst. 

 

“Where are we going?” Jimin asks. 

 

It’s a good question. Jungkook doesn’t have the answer. He thought he knew, and then he remembered why he had never returned. 

 

“It depends. What do you know about Siyeon? Beyond what she told us when we lived with her, I mean.”

 

It’s vague, but it’s a good place to start. 

 

“You’re talking about the hell spell.”

 

He didn’t mean that far back, to the origin of their intertwined fate. If Jimin knew everything the entire time too and it was only Jungkook and Bora left in the dark, he might start to second guess his recent decisions.

 

“So, you know, then? You’ve known about this the whole time?”

 

Jimin contemplates, staring out his window at the street lights zipping by. In his window’s reflection, Jungkook can see his eyes flicker between gold and blue laced with the colors of the scenery. Everything, from his eyes to his wings to his very dust, is more vibrant than before, and the colors come out in a wider range of hues and shades. He thought a pixie couldn’t get more magnificent.

 

“I didn’t know about Seokjin’s motives if that’s what you mean. I didn’t remember that until I was on my stump.”

 

“That’s all?”

 

“No. I knew that when Siyeon was the King’s general of warcraft, she invented a spell that people of Hyeastra called the hell spell and that he framed her, even though he was the one who used it. Possibly,” he adds.

 

Siyeon having invented the spell is news to Jungkook. 

 

Jimin traces a pattern on the window where his breath fogs the glass, distracted. 

 

“But you didn’t know about Seokjin changing the, um…” What exactly it was that Seokjin had the power to adjust is still incomprehensible to Jungkook. Siyeon refused to call it a timeline because time does not exist in a line. Time is written in the stars as they move, and that a being like Seokjin is one of the few with agency over them is terrifying. “You know about how he rewrote our…reality, then?”

 

“I didn’t remember ‘til I was home,” Jimin says. “A butterfly told me.”

 

Jungkook lets out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. At least he and Bora were not the only ones Siyeon kept it from, and at least Jimin wasn’t hiding any reality-shattering secrets from him.

 

“I remembered everything at home,” he continues quietly, remorsefully. “I knew when you remembered everything too because the contract we bonded yesterday was fulfilled.”  

 

Remembered isn’t the word he would use. Was informed a lifetime too late is more accurate. In our past life is more appropriate than the use of the word yesterday.

 

Jungkook reclines and follows the highway signs that lead to Siyeon’s home as if by habit, as if urged by a force stronger than fate that he can’t shake.

 

“I was told the story of why Siyeon and Seokjin didn’t exactly love each other because of all the, um, war crimes and all. But you knew that already, didn’t you?”

 

Jimin doesn’t respond, lost in the colors of the city lights that grow smaller by the second. Unlike a human he doesn’t try to mask that he is hurt and still doesn’t know why, even though Jungkook abandoned his life for him again. Together isn’t enough. They’ve lived in two entirely separate worlds for the past couple of years, and unlike Jungkook, Jimin hasn’t aged. To him it was just tonight that he was trapped behind the glass of the now abandoned exhibit they tore down to replace the butterflies. In this new world, humans not only know pixies exist, but have obsessed over conspiracies and fake sightings of other magical beings as well. Jimin must be more careful now. It all happened within fifteen minutes.  

 

Jungkook notices the way Jimin avoids looking at him. He recognizes that there is nothing astonishing about seeing Jungkook again and he has no feelings to catch up on, even if the Jungkook he is now isn’t the Jungkook he left in Siyeon’s basement.

 

That Jungkook might have pleaded for Jimin’s attention. Instead, he gives Jimin adequate time to answer. After several minutes, Jungkook can’t handle the silence.

 

“Jimin? Did you know?” He doesn’t mean to press. He can’t think clearly through the adrenaline of running away with a pixie again and the rush from the energy drink. He wants to hear Jimin’s voice to remind him why he is here and not scrubbing dishes with his family.

 

Jimin sits up and struggles to tuck his wings behind him in the seat. They look flexible and delicate, like stained glass made of leather, and they shine with thin golden whisps that roll through the membrains in tandem with his breathing.

 

“I knew the stars told him to get rid of her or he would meet his demise at her hand,” Jimin begins, “so he… Well, I hadn’t been born yet, so, I can’t say for certain if he framed her or if she really killed the King’s lover—”

 

“She didn’t.”

 

Jimin perks up and faces him. “If you know then why did you ask?”

 

“I wanted to hear it from a reputable source.”

 

It is not that Siyeon lied, technically. Omitting information like that isn’t a crime, however, it doesn’t mean Jungkook is ready to forgive her and face her yet.

 

Jimin is not interested in continuing this conversation, so Jungkook drops it for now. If thinking about it is making Jimin this upset, and it wasn’t a conversation Jungkook was prepared to have tonight to begin with, further discussion would achieve nothing but heartache. Jungkook thought that tonight he was going to go home with Woosung and help him study for winter midterms and shit talk all the nasty customers that came in today. War crimes and evil star thieves were worries of the past. 

 

Thinking about his current life, it doesn’t feel real that Jimin is here. Jimin is here. This is a dream. It’s a trip. There is no pixie who loves him enough to follow him to Earth all the way from the safety of his realm.

 

Jimin faces the window again, his back turned and wings extended, blocking Jungkook’s view of the side mirror. The way his cheek squishes as he rests his head on his arm is so endearing Jungkook can’t keep his eyes on the road. Of all the things he forced out of his head, forced himself to admit was all a delusion even though he and Yoongi and Hoseok tried to convince him he knew better, he could never forget how innocent and childish Jimin was when he wasn’t trying to set fire to Jungkook’s clothes, and how endearing it made him.

 

“You don’t trust Siyeon,” Jimin says after a while. “And you hate her.”

 

“I don’t hate her,” Jungkook says. “We didn’t exactly say goodbye on the best terms, but I don’t hate her, and I know that she didn’t use the hell spell on anyone for the sake of a crush.”

 

Just the idea that Jungkook might hate Siyeon gets to Jimin, like he’s realized how different things are going to be. Though it is too dark to tell, Jungkook thinks Jimin’s dust might be blue when it leaves his body.

 

“You said a butterfly told you all this?” he says to divert the conversation from his personal strife.

 

“A butterfly helped me remember. It told me what happened yesterday.”

 

Yesterday is a term that pixies use to refer to a previous reality or life. Only those with souls bound together in the stars will be reborn tomorrow when those in power over the stars decide yesterday ends.

 

Siyeon told Jungkook to think about it like a past life that never happened, because it didn’t, and also not to think too hard about it because he will never be able to comprehend it in human terms. She told him no one remembers yesterday unless they have something to fulfill in the next life and the life after that, like a contract or a grudge so strong it defies the will of someone like Seokjin.

 

Jungkook did hold a grudge strong enough to span two lives against Doctor Yoon and Seokjin being the reason he had to watch Jimin die. Still, that is not what held Jimin’s and his stars together. That much can be credited to Jimin and the white dust that bonded their contract to find each other tomorrow—which is now today, apparently—and to the contract he made with Siyeon which she fulfilled by sending Jimin home.

 

After learning this, it made sense why the first time he touched Jimin it burned like he was touching an open flame, and why it was so easy to fall in love with him in the limited time they had. He already felt those feelings, and a whisper of them remained. He only needed to meet Jimin again for those feelings to resurface. 

 

“I didn’t like being human,” Jimin says into his arm. “I didn’t want to stay here that long.”

 

“You’re not human, Jimin. You’re still a pixie. You have your wings.” 

 

“I’m talking about yesterday.”

 

Jungkook has no follow up. He wishes he could forget all over again so he wouldn’t know that Jimin is talking about his first last moments in this realm. He wishes he could wash away their memories and they could fall in love again without intervention from Seokjin or evil doctors or warlocks with hidden agendas.

 

Jimin shifts in his seat every few seconds to accommodate his wings. No matter what position he tries, they brush against the roof or bend against the seat. The way they curve with his will like a muscle makes Jungkook wonder if Jimin can feel the sensations on his wings as he could his own arms, or if the nerves stop at his back where they attach, so he works up the courage to touch the glowing fibers, interwoven with deep brown veins so dark they almost look black.

 

As gentle as he can, he strokes the outer rim, afraid he might break it and it will scatter into dust, or that it will burn his skin, or that his hand will fall off as punishment. Jimin says nothing, and Jungkook still has all his fingers, so he continues.

 

Though his wings are soft like a butterfly’s, they are nowhere near as delicate. Jungkook lightly rubs the edge between his fingers and his thumb. They flutter under the contact until Jimin relaxes, his breath fogging the window as he sighs and closes his eyes. Jungkook never imagined how intimate it would feel to caress a pixie’s wings, and how hard it would be to stop.

 

Reluctantly, he pulls away to keep both hands on the steering wheel while reminding himself he will have the next eternity to run his hands along their alluring glow. 

 

“Again,” Jimin mumbles into his elbow.  

 

Jungkook laughs softly, deciding road etiquette can wait when his pixie needs a wing massage. He continues the way he did before, brushing back and forth over the upper edge of Jimin’s wing. Jimin presses his wing into Jungkook’s touch, extending them wide until he can no longer see Jimin behind them.  

 

At this point, there is nowhere to go but back to Siyeon’s house—at least to drop Jimin off until Jungkook is ready to face her again.

 

It isn’t until they merge off the highway that Jungkook realizes he forgot something important. He lets go of Jimin’s wing, only realizing that Jimin had fallen asleep when his eyes snap open and his wings tighten against his back. 

 

“Are you still with me?” Jungkook asks.

 

Jimin hums in response.

 

“I need you to send a text. I’ll walk you through it.”

 

Jimin doesn’t ask for a contract this time in return for a favor. Jungkook wants to kiss him as soon as they’re off the road anyways. 

 

The second he pulls out Jungkook’s phone, it starts to ring, because fortune tellers are scary good like that. 

 

“I can’t touch that while driving,” Jungkook says. “Press the green button and pull it left for me?”

 

Jimin answers the call.

 

“Now hit the speaker—the um, one with the mic—uh, the one in the middle.”

 

Jimin turns the phone on speaker. 

 

“Don’t even think about texting and driving.”

 

Jungkook hasn’t been happier to hear Siyeon’s voice since the first time he called her to ask if he could take a pixie to her house, even if at the same time he feels contempt. The last time he heard her voice he ran hundreds of kilometers away and hasn’t spoken to her since. Neither of them were happy about it, and least of all Bora.

 

“I was going to ask Jimin to do it,” he says. “I’m a safe driver.” 

 

“What was I going to do?” Jimin asks. 

 

“Focus on the road. I’ll see you soon.”

 

“Jimin!” Bora yells inn the background. “How did it go? Did you wear something cute? Is that what did it?”

 

“You can press the red button now.”

 

 

 

 

Jimin is asleep by the time Jungkook drives through the bittersweet familiarity of the dirt road that leads up the hill to Siyeon’s home. He has never been to the ocean during the winter, so it’s colder than he expected when he steps out of his heated car with his bag over his shoulder to open Jimin’s door. 

 

Even after two years have passed and he hasn’t thought about this driveway in months, it feels like only yesterday he showed up here with Jimin, asleep, and close to dying. Now that yesterday has more than one meaning, the phrase doesn’t sit well with Jungkook. 

 

This time before he helps a sleeping pixie out of his car, he snaps ten pictures of his face pressed against the window. He’s just as cute, just as human looking as the first time, except for the giant magical pixie wings. When he opens the door, Jimin falls into his arms before jolting awake.

 

“I’m not going to carry you in,” Jungkook says.

 

Jimin knows he’s lying even before Jungkook hoists him into his arms, one under his legs and the other around his back, careful not to put pressure on Jimin’s wings as he kicks the car door closed and carries Jimin to the porch. 

 

Memories of his last visit flood into him the minute he steps up to the door. There is still pink glitter in the cracks in the wood, reflecting the light from billions of stars that are right where they should be. Every creak, every mossy plant outlining the railing, and the smell of hibiscus wafting on the wind from the garden is exactly how he remembered them.

 

Jungkook knows what a well is this time. He still doesn’t know what to look for, if he has the ability to see it with his human eyes.  

 

Before Jungkook has to set Jimin down to knock on the door, someone fumbles with the handle from the other side and the door swings open. 

 

Jungkook thought he would be prepared for the sight, the warm glow from a dozen lit candles, the face of a pajama clad human he hasn’t seen in years whom he missed dearly and never had incentive to call. Her hair has grown and the frames of her glasses are larger. Her eyes are just as wide, and her smile brightens the entire porch until it fades into a look of concern. 

 

“Is he okay?” Bora reaches for Jimin’s forehead to check for a fever. 

 

“He’s fine,” Jungkook whispers, “Just sleepy.”

 

They stand still, both unsure of what to say. 

 

It’s been a while. 

 

I’m sorry for leaving.

 

I’m not here to stay.

 

“This thing is heavy,” Jungkook says, jostling Jimin’s body in his arms. “Mind if I set it down inside?”

 

Bora steps out of the way and closes the door behind them, smiling so wide it’s hard to remember why Jungkook left that smile in the first place. It wasn’t Bora’s fault. It wasn’t Siyeon’s, either, that he didn’t have the decency to call until he was on his way. 

 

“Do you need help bringing anything in?” she asks. 

 

Jimin stirs against Jungkook’s shoulder as he steps out of his shoes. Bora helps him with Jimin’s. 

 

“I didn’t get to pack this time. And all my stuff is with—” someone whose existence seems so insignificant compared to everything that has led Jungkook to this spot, “—just a place.”

 

With a place?” 

 

“A person.” Jungkook looks down at Jimin, then back to Bora, hoping she will read the room.

 

Oh,” she gasps. “Is it a b-o-y-f—”

 

“He can spell, Bora.”

 

“Yeah, but does he know what that is?”

 

“I haven’t taught him that one yet.” Conversation happens as naturally as if he saw her this morning. It’s almost as if he’s spent two lifetimes knowing her. “You were right, though,” he says.

 

“Of course I was.” She pauses. “About what?”

 

“When you asked how I could ever date a human again after meeting one of these.” He tilts his head toward Jimin.

 

“Well, yeah, obviously I was right. I’m never wrong.”

 

“Never? Even when you told me unicorns actually barf rainbows?”

 

“Ah-ah,” she holds up a finger, “that was what’s called a lie. I knew the truth.”

 

They both know she’s lying. They stare, unsure of what comes next, until Bora bursts into silent laughter as to not wake the sleeping pixie. Jungkook laughs too, seeing her happy, seeing her in front of him, in her home, surrounded by magic and adventure that Jungkook has been desperately lacking. 

 

“Is Siyeon here?” he asks. 

 

“Also sleeping,” Bora says, patting Jimin’s hair softly. “You should be too. You remember where the bedroom is, right? Do you need a house tour?”

 

“It hasn’t been that long.”

 

“It’s been too long.” She steps away from Jimin and pushes up her glasses, taking in the sight of Jungkook holding a pixie with massive wings in her living room. Her eyes tear up and she doesn’t try to hide it. 

 

Jungkook hasn’t let himself calm down yet, knowing when he does he will have to have a nice cry about it too. If he lets go now, he is afraid of losing his momentum and ending up back at the Magic Shoppe for his eight o’clock shift tomorrow morning.  

 

“Anyways,” Bora says, wiping under her eye with her sleeve, “It’s way past bedtime. Let’s go.”

 

It is hard to keep Jimin’s feet from bumping into the walls on the way up the stairs. He has to be awake by now, using his sleepiness as an excuse for Jungkook to carry him just like a human child would do. 

 

Bora stops at the top of the stairs and turns around. 

 

“Oh,” she hisses, pressing her fingers to her forehead, “I forgot something. Siyeon asked me to put new sheets on both beds.” She smirks behind her hand. 

 

“You didn’t forget.” 

 

“Wow, it totally slipped my mind.” She leans against the wall, sighing theatrically. “You’ll have to figure out what to do about that, I guess.”

 

“I’ll do it myself. Where do you keep the sheets?”

 

“Oh! I forgot. We only have one set of sheets.”

 

He should have expected this.

 

Dropping his plan to drop Jimin off and leave, find a motel until he figures out what the hell he is going to do now that they’re here again, he clicks his tongue and says, “Man, that sucks. I’ll find a way to live with it, I guess.” 

 

“Thank you for being such an understanding guest.”

 

“Right.”

 

“If only there was any way to—”

 

“Bora.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I missed you.”

 

“Aw,” Bora coos, “I missed you too. I’d hug you but, um…”

 

They both look at Jimin, who might not appreciate the idea of being sandwiched between two humans at the moment.  

 

“See you in the morning,” Jungkook whispers.

 

“Of course! Goodnight, love bugs,” she says, patting Jimin’s hair one more time, ruffling Jungkook’s, and scampering into her bedroom. 

 

A burst of orange dusts puffs in Jungkook’s face as he enters the bedroom he stayed in before. The room is as warm and monochrome as the day he left.

 

“What are you so happy about?” Jungkook asks as he sets Jimin on the bed and drops his bag. 

 

Jimin scrunches his eyes closed in response. 

 

“Humans don’t do that when they sleep.” 

 

When he lowers by the bed to meet Jimin at eye level, Jimin presses his lips together, trying not to smile. Jungkook knows exactly what he wants, and Jimin knows that Jungkook knows. 

 

Unfortunately, it still counts as cheating, even if it’s with his soulmate. 

 

Jimin’s eyes shoot open. 

 

“You’re not happy. Why?”

 

One would think, after being able to talk to a pixie about second lives and celestial thieves and betrayals of a kingdom in an entirely different realm, Jungkook would be able to handle a conversation about the simplistic way in which humans must respect the rules of a relationship as basic decency. He still remembers that sometimes the simplest concepts are the hardest for Jimin to grasp. 

 

“I love you,” Jungkook says. He walks to the other side of the bed and lays at Jimin’s side, afraid to move closer or he might get too attached.

 

“That’s not why you’re sad,” Jimin says over his wings. 

 

Ignoring his accusation, Jungkook rolls Jimin over to face him, pressing his palm against Jimin’s cheek. Jimin leans into the touch and does the same to Jungkook. 

 

All it would take is one quick text and Jungkook would be able to kiss Jimin again like he’s unknowingly wanted for years. The supernatural pull on Jungkook’s heart makes it hard for him to resist. All it would take is one call.

 

Jungkook does something stupid. 

 

“Can you hand me my phone?” Jungkook asks. He could do it himself, then reasons that making Jimin get up is fair punishment for the way he left without a trace and told Jungkook he wouldn’t feel bad about it before hurdling back into his life and breaking the Magic Shoppe doors a second time.

 

Without lifting a finger, Jimin brings Jungkook his phone on a cloud of orange dust that falls into their faces. Having a pixie boyfriend is incredibly convenient. 

 

Not a boyfriend. Jungkook doesn’t get two. 

 

The light blinds him as he opens his phone to a lockscreen of Woosung holding his hand in front of the camera to stop Jungkook from taking the picture. Over his face, one missed call and three text messages block out his smile. 

 

Jungkook doesn’t know whether to be relieved or feel like the shittiest of all shitty boyfriends, and Jimin reacts to his discomfort, pushing up onto his elbow, concerned and waiting for Jungkook to acknowledge him.

 

I gave Gahyeon a ride home. She says thanks for the flannels and combat boots. Call me as soon as you can.

 

Jungkook is going to miss those.

 

Hoseok and I had a conversation. I don’t really understand, but I still love you and I’m willing to give you another chance.

 

Actually don’t worry about it. This must be important to you, more than I am, so I hope he makes you happy. I’m not going to put my feelings on hold for someone who already found his “literal” soulmate.

 

Jungkook is going to worry about it. It’s going to keep Jungkook awake for the next week, reflecting on what a shitty decision it was to leave and make Woosung feel the way Jungkook did when Jimin left. What he won’t have to worry about it deciding whether it is okay to kiss his actual soulmate until tomorrow morning when he can break up with his boyfriend who was fated to be temporary, because he can kiss him without remorse now that he doesn’t have a boyfriend.

 

Without thinking, too impatient to put more thought into his response than a few seconds, Jungkook starts to type.

 

I’m sorry. It’s not my fault that

 

He deletes the second half.

 

I’m sorry. I know that what I did was fucked up. I still love you and I’m just as confused as you are

 

He deletes the whole message and starts again, anxious because Jimin can hear everything he’s feeling. He wonders what Jimin meant when he said he saw what Jungkook and that human did before Jungkook cut him off. He wonders what Jimin meant when he said his heart sounded the same as when they said goodbye. He wonders if he should ask or if bringing it up would only make him shameful.

 

I’m sorry. I wish I understood this magical bullshit too.

 

Jungkook hits send and, not wanting to scare Jimin away with any more of his complex human grievances, Jungkook tosses the phone behind him and laughs into the pillow. 

 

“This is so fucked,” he mumbles. 

 

“What’s fucked?” Jimin leans over him to check his phone. Jungkook stops him by intercepting his hand and holding it close to his chest instead. 

 

Jungkook forgot about the rush that came with teaching Jimin a new way to use a word.

 

“It means messed up,” he says into the pillow.

 

“What is it that’s messed up?”

 

Jungkook sighs, rolling over to face the ceiling. “I’m officially single again.”

 

“I don’t know what that means.”

 

It means Jungkook is going to have a lot of reflecting to do and a lot of angry phone calls to take from the people in his life who know he’s better than this. It means in an instant he unlearns every lesson about impulsivity the last two years taught him. He is a more patient, less impulsive, slightly more toned version of himself after he subscribed to a gym membership like adults do when they’re trying to become a new person. However, in this moment, Jungkook is a kid stupid in love with the pixie in front of him.

 

“It means I think I have to kiss you now.” 

 

Jimin beams, pulling Jungkook closer before he finishes his sentence, muffled by Jimin’s lips.

 

The angle of the kiss is awkward with the way Jungkook is still laying on his stomach, so he’s not satisfied when he pulls away. A cloud of pink settles around them. Jungkook doesn’t want to sit up yet. He takes a risk.

 

Jimin gasps when Jungkook pushes him onto his back. His wings spread past both ends of the bed and shine like a glowing watercolor canvas, translucent against the white sheets.

 

Jungkook rolls over him and asks, “Is this okay?”

 

Jimin nods quickly. 

 

Even with the permission, Jungkook has to remind himself of who Jimin is. He’s not like Woosung, a human, who knows what to expect. Two years away from Jimin and Jungkook has forgotten how to behave around him. What’s normal to his human ex-boyfriend is something entirely unexplored for Jimin. 

 

He hovers above Jimin, their lips almost touching, until he notices the open door, beyond which any human or warlock could pass by and see them. 

 

“What’s wrong?” Jimin asks. 

 

“I left the door open.”

 

The door swings shut and a cloud of bright orange dust falls from the handle to the floor.

 

After going home, Jimin’s dust has replenished, his wings are where they should be, and his powers are at their full potential. It’s like Jungkook is dating a real pixie.

 

Not dating. He is going to ask Jimin about a label, just not now. Not when he could make out with him instead. 

 

Jimin touches Jungkook’s chest. “Your heart is really fast.”

 

“It’s fast in the good way,” Jungkook says.

 

“You’re nervous.”

 

“I just don’t want to make you uncomfortable.” 

 

Jimin would have protested if he was uncomfortable. It’s Jungkook who isn’t sure how weird he’s being—if he’s taking advantage of Jimin’s innocence and inexperience as a pixie, even if said pixie is hundreds of years older than Jungkook. 

 

“Why would I be uncomfortable? What are you going to do?”

 

“I want to try a different kind of kiss, if that’s okay.”

 

“Like when you kissed me here?” Jimin points to his forehead where Jungkook kissed him after Jimin named Simi. 

 

“No, still here,” Jungkook says, pressing his thumb to Jimin’s bottom lip. “Just, tell me if you want to stop, okay?”

 

“I’ll tell you.”

 

“Cool.”

 

It’s cool, right? To make out with a pixie who doesn’t know what making out is? It’s not like they’re having sex.

 

Jungkook sits on Jimin’s lap, then leans down and lightly presses their lips together. Even if he is still fresh out of a relationship Jimin doesn’t have to know that’s weird. 

 

“Try to, sort of, copy what I do. If you want,” Jungkook whispers, kissing him again. 

 

Jungkook doesn’t know what to do with his hands, how much he’s willing to touch Jimin. For now, he rests his hands on Jimin’s chest, pressing him into the bed as he kisses him. Slowly, Jimin picks up on Jungkook’s movements and slides his lips against Jungkook’s the same way, though clumsier, in a way that finds extremely hot. 

 

He doesn’t know how he suddenly became so attracted to Jimin this way. Maybe because it has been so long since he saw him, and the last two years haven’t been exactly vanilla for him. He ignores the memories, the way he coped with his loneliness when Jimin left. He doesn’t want to think about sex with someone else while he’s trying to make out with Jimin. 

 

As softly as he can, Jungkook scrapes Jimin’s bottom lip with his teeth and tugs. Jimin gasps. He liked it. Jungkook bites his lip again, harder, before kissing over the bite and resting his arms by Jimin’s head.

 

When Jimin’s hips twitch Jungkook considers stopping. Jimin is eager to continue, holding the back of Jungkook’s head and keeping him locked in place. Jungkook swipes his tongue across Jimin’s lips. He liked that too. His wings stutter against the sheets. 

 

“Still okay?” Jungkook doesn’t notice until he pulls back that the pillows, the headboard, the floor, everything around them is covered in pure magenta. 

 

“I like this,” Jimin says, breathing heavy.

 

“Cool.” Cool is such an uncool thing to say while making out. “Let me know if you want to stop.”

 

“You can’t hurt me, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

 

Jungkook rolls his eyes. Arrogance is such a mood-killer. 

 

“I know. You’re way stronger, you’re faster, you can use magic, et cetera. I haven’t forgotten.”

 

“Then stop acting like I’m going to break. I trust you. I wouldn’t let you on top of me if I didn’t like it.”

 

“I trust you too,” Jungkook says. “Part your lips.”

 

Jimin listens, tilting his head back and lets his lips naturally part to accommodate his heavy breathing. Jungkooks is beyond the point of questioning how weird this all is when Jimin looks at him like that.

 

He finds Jimin’s arms at his sides and laces their fingers together as he presses their hands into the pillow on either side of his head. When he kisses him again he pushes the tip of his tongue past Jimin’s lips, nothing too risky, until Jimin moans. It’s more like a squeak escaping from built up pressure that he’s trying to suppress.

 

Jimin’s cheeks are pink to match his dust and his lips shine. Jungkook never realized how hot Jimin would look like this, never took the time to consider it. Now, it’s all he wants to think about—kissing Jimin, pressing his tongue against Jimin’s, doing everything he can to make Jimin feel good the way Jungkook feels. 

 

Jimin moans again, a real, loud moan when Jungkook opens Jimin’s lips further with his own and licks into his mouth. Jimin’s grip on the back of his neck tightens, the space between their hips lessens. Jungkook grinds softly against Jimin and smirks when Jimin’s hips rut against him and he gasps. He can feel how hard Jimin is already through his leggings.

 

“Is it okay to keep going?” Jungkook asks.

 

“Do that again,” Jimin breathes. 

 

Jungkook grinds his hips down again, and instead of kissing Jimin, he mouths at Jimin’s jaw. Without the pressure on his mouth, Jimin moans louder, higher, encouraging Jungkook to keep going. Jungkook moves up his jaw until he reaches his ear and presses his lips right below, then he nips his earlobe and licks over it. 

 

“Fuck,” Jimin hisses, arching his back, pulling Jungkook into him.

 

Jungkook forgot he knew swears, how natural it is for humans to react with cursing when they’re turned on. It’s not something Jimin would have learned anywhere. Every time he moans and curses and grinds it’s completely instinct, which makes his reactions even hotter.

 

“Did you like that?” Jungkook whispers against his ear. 

 

“Again,” Jimin demands.

 

Jungkook laughs, repositioning himself so he is between Jimin’s legs. Jimin frowns when Jungkook pulls away. When he’s where he wants to be, Jungkook kisses him harder into the pillow. He trusts Jimin will tell him if he’s being too rough. 

 

Jimin is a panting, grinding mess under him. Jungkook takes a risk. 

 

“Jimin?” he asks. 

 

Jimin’s answer is barely a word, more of a noise in acknowledgment.

 

“Can I...touch you?”

 

“You are touching me,” Jimin says. 

 

Well, now it feels weird. Jimin has no idea what any of this is supposed to mean. 

 

“I mean somewhere humans only touch when they’re...close.” He winces. He sounds like a pervert.

 

“We are close. Oh,” Jimin gasps, “you mean like sex touching?”

 

Sex touching. He’s so hot when he’s cute. At least he has some idea of what Jungkook’s asking. This isn’t exactly one of the first topics Jungkook was eager to teach Jimin about.

 

He’s almost scared to know what Jimin learned about sex from Seokjin. 

 

“Yeah, sex touching,” Jungkook says. “Like…” he slides his hand down Jimin’s torso. “Down here?” Jungkook brushes over Jimin’s hardness. 

 

“What will happen if you do?”

 

“Hopefully, it’ll feel good, and then it’ll feel really good for a couple seconds.”

 

“I want to try it.”

 

“If it’s too much you’ll let me know, right?”

 

“I’ll tell you.”

 

Jungkook slides his hand into Jimin’s leggings, brushing over the lower most scars on his torso. He kisses Jimin again to hide how he winces, and hesitantly strokes Jimin’s thankfully human-feeling hard on. 

 

Jimin whines into Jungkook’s mouth and presses into his hand. “Again?”

 

Jungkook grows more confident at the encouragement and he slowly runs his hand up and down Jimin’s dick, giving him every opportunity to stop him. With the way Jimin moans into Jungkook’s mouth, Jungkook finds it harder to ignore his own, trying to keep his focus on Jimin for now. 

 

“Does it still feel good?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Jimin nods, unable to form a single word. He’s leaked all the dust it seems he can, enough to cover Jungkook’s entire hand pressed into the mattress by Jimin’s head. Underneath the dust Jimin’s wings glow in a sheen of peachy gold.

 

Jungkook lays his weight over Jimin and strokes him until Jimin can’t breathe normally. Jimin squeezes his eyes shut, grips Jungkook’s shoulders like he’s going to fall.

 

“Go f—ahfaster,” Jimin whispers into Jungkook’s lips. Unable to maintain a connection from Jimin’s panting, Jungkook stops kissing him and focuses solely on giving him the pleasure he deserves after all the pain he’s endured.

 

Jungkook takes another risk.

 

“Can you open your eyes for me?” he asks against Jimin’s ear. "I want to look at you if that's okay."

 

Jimin’s eyelids flutter open, his lips parted, thighs squeezing Jungkook’s waist. The usual golden glow in his irises have specs of pink hues. He is gorgeous in every sense of the word. Jungkook stares like he’s trying to seer the image into his mind as if this is the second last time he’ll see Jimin again.

 

Jimin slides his hands down Jungkook’s shoulders to his leggings, brushing against Jungkook’s wrist.

 

Jungkook stops immediately and lets go, panicing as he sits upright. “Do you want to stop?”

 

“No,” Jimin shakes his head quickly. “Just want this off. It’s too hot.”

 

The sight of Jimin pulling his leggings down slowly until his entire lower half is on display makes part of him him want to rip off his own pants, throw Jimin’s shirt across the floor, and heal all Jimin’s pain with pleasure. Instead, he lets Jimin take his time as he struggles to reach the end of his leggings, stuck at his ankles before he kicks them off completely.

 

Jungkook can’t help but stare, his heart pounding in his ears as he tries to not take it too far before Jimin is ready—before they’re completely alone and not one hallway across from a warlock and her pervert of a girlfriend.

 

“Are you okay?” Jimin asks as he presses over Jungkook’s rapidly beating heart, pulling Jungkook’s gaze upward.

 

“Yeah,” he kisses Jimin. “You’re just so beautiful.” Jungkook pushes Jimin’s bangs off his forehead, runs his hand down the side of Jimin’s face, cups his cheek, memorizing Jimin’s inhuman beauty and indulging in how he is the only one who gets to see Jimin like this. “You’re perfect.”

 

“Can we keep going?”

 

“So impatient,” Jungkook murmurs. He loves it.

 

Jungkook continues with quick, tender strokes while Jimin grinds into Jungkook’s hand until he comes, throwing his head back with a gasp. He’s breathing so heavy it’s all Jungkook hears. 

 

Jungkook kisses him slow and deep before his actions catch up to him. 

 

He totally just jerked off a pixie. That’s a thing that he just did.

 

He pulls back to check Jimin’s reaction as he catches his breath, eyes alight with gold sparks. 

 

“Did you...like it?” 

 

“Do it again,” Jimin breathes. 

 

“Not yet," Jungkook laughs. "People with our body types usually have to wait a little between orgasms, especially if it’s your first one.” 

 

“That was an orgasm? We did sex?”

 

If Jimin gets any cuter Jungkook’s heart might actually burst. 

 

“That’s one way to have sex. There’s a lot.”

 

“Can we have more later?” 

 

Jungkook’s heart explodes. 

 

“Not tonight. There’s some conversations we need to have before we do.” Jungkook doubts anyone in Hyeastra taught Jimin about consent and safe words.

 

When Jungkook sits back, he notices the weirdest thing on his hand and on Jimin’s stomach. It feels like cum, but it’s shimmery, like it’s laced with dust and it reflects holographically in the light. 

 

Jungkook continues to take risks. Jimin doesn’t have to know it’s weird to lick some of it off his fingers. He half expects it to taste like nail polish based on color and texture. Instead it tastes sweet, like powdered sugar. Jungkook sucks his whole thumb clean to be sure he’s really tasting what he thinks he’s tasting. It’s definitely sweet. 

 

The urge to blow Jimin and swallow suddenly makes it harder for him to ignore his own boring, human dick in his underwear. 

 

Jimin sits up, his naked thighs on either side of Jungkook’s. He suddenly wishes he had taken off at least one layer to accommodate the lessening space in his pants.

 

“What’s wrong?” 

 

“Nothing’s wrong. The opposite, actually. Your cum tastes like sugar,” are words Jungkook never imagined would make sense. 

 

If their relationship continues like this, Jimin is going to get all the blowjobs he wants. 

 

“And that’s good?”

 

“It’s different. Human cum tastes bad,” Jungkook says, tasting it again. 

 

“I want to try it.”

 

Oh, god. Okay. 

 

Jungkook slides what’s left onto one finger and presses into Jimin’s mouth. Jimin grimaces and pulls away. 

 

“I don’t like it,” he says. 

 

Jungkook winces at himself when, that’s okay, more for me, sits in the back of his mind. 

 

“I’m going to wash this off. Be right back.” 

 

Jungkook lifts Jimin off his lap and uses icy cold water to wash his hands in hopes his boner will go away by the time they go to sleep. He uses warm water to wet a wash cloth and returns to Jimin, who is still breathing heavy from his first orgasm. 

 

“What about you?” Jimin asks as Jungkook finishes cleaning sugary pixie cum off his torso. “You don’t have any on you.”

 

“I didn’t come,” Jungkook says, helping Jimin back into his leggings.

 

“Don’t you want to feel good too?” 

 

“I’ll be fine. I’ve done it lots. And I’m not really hard anymore.” It’s a half-truth for his half boner.  

 

After brushing away what dust he can from the bed, Jungkook strips out of his jeans and crawls under the comforter next to Jimin. It’s only weird if he makes it weird, he tells himself.

 

Jimin presses his whole body into Jungkook like they’ll never be this close again. If they had done this two years ago, that may have been true. Now that he is here to stay, Jungkook doesn’t plan on letting Jimin out of his grasp even for a minute. It is okay to get too attached this time around. It is okay for Jungkook to slip his hand up the back of Jimin’s sweater and massage the space between his wings. He doesn’t have to worry about waking up from nightmares that Jimin will be gone by morning and in the hands of an evil doctor or the man who stole the stars from the night sky.

 

Jimin curls into Jungkook’s chest, tightening Jungkook’s shirt in his fists like he is afraid Jungkook will be the one to disappear this time.

 

When he falls asleep, Jungkook dreams of a night sky filled with stars over a field of bluebells whispering to him Jimin’s name. This time, he knows what comes next.

 

Chapter Text

It isn’t the fluttering of wings the speed of a hummingbird against his nose that wakes him up, or by inhaling a cloud of yellow pixie dust as he has grown accustomed to in recent mornings. He awakes with a start and lunges for his phone before the ringtone disturbs Jimin’s sleep.

Yoongi has no business calling him at six in the morning when there is a pixie sized pixie laying on his pillow.

“What is it?” Jungkook asks quietly.  

“You saw the news, right?” Yoongi asks. “The—were you asleep?”

“It’s the middle of the night. Jimin’s sleeping too. What is it?”

“Shit, okay. I’ll send you the link. You need to—are you sleeping in the same bed?”

“Yeah, Mom, I am. I’m sleeping next to my boyfriend. ” Jungkook smiles into his pillow. His pixie boyfriend. Sort of. Not yet. He only broke up with his human boyfriend a few days ago, yet his time with Jimin seems to pick up where it left of, as if Jungkook has not grown and changed as a human and Jimin has not come back with a giant pair of wings and an amount of dust that would last him ten of Jungkook’s lifetimes.  

“Hey, I’m not trying to tell you what—wait, you explicitly said he wasn’t your boyfriend.”

“Can you finish a complete sentence, please?” Jungkook rubs his eyes, fighting to keep them open. “Just, tell me what you saw.”

 “Wait, then that that mean you…did you really bang the pixie?”

“Please don’t say it like that. And no! We haven’t… No. Why are you calling me?”

“Your pixie boyfriend is on the news. Again.”

Jungkook shoots up from the pillow. Jimin stirs. Thankfully, he hasn’t woken yet, still wrapped in his wings as a blanket and curled into himself for warmth. Jungkook wants to pet him like he’s a sleeping cat.

“Whatever it is, it’s fake. He’s been with me the whole time.”

“This happened years ago.”

Jimin did lots of news worthy things during their time together. He can’t think of anything that would justify a phone call before sunrise.

Except combust a police cruiser the night they met. 

“Is it the cop car thing?”

“You knew about this!”

Jungkook leans the phone away to avoid permanent ear damage. 

“I’m not here to judge you, but, come on, a cop car? He tried to kill two cops—”

“He didn’t!” Jungkook yells, then winces and checks on Jimin. Still sleeping. He lowers his voice and says, “He waited until they were out of the car. I watched him do it.”

“Oh, well, then it’s fine. As long as you watched him do it.”

“Cool. Goodnight—”

“What the hell were you thinking? Did you even consider, I don’t know, dash cams? Security tapes? Witnesses?”

Jungkook remembers the first time he met Jimin like it was last night. He remembers how starstruck he was, too entranced by Jimin’s magic and dust to think about things as trivial as being caught for criminal activity.  

“I don’t know, okay? I’m sorry. It was years ago. We were having fun, and if I tried to stop him, he might have killed me.”

“The man who you let sleep in your bed would have tried to kill you if you told him not to blow up a car in the middle of the street in broad daylight.”

“Well, you could make anyone sound evil if you put it like that.”

Still, Jungkook can see where Yoongi is coming from—Jimin is terrifying under his glowing eyes and messy orange hair. All Yoongi knows about Jimin is the little Jungkook allowed him and what he witnessed the night Jimin busted into the Magic Shoppe, how he broke Jungkook’s heart, and then appeared again at a time when Jungkook was finally at peace, so he can’t blame Yoongi for being suspicious.

“He wouldn’t kill me now.”

Yoongi’s end buzzes in silence. It is too early for either of them to have to think about this. 

“In broad daylight,” Yoongi repeats. 

“It was midnight, first of all. No one was around. It was right after we left the Magic Shoppe—”

“That’s worse! They could track you coming out of here, and then all of us would get our asses kicked sideways. What the hell were you thinking?”

“I was thinking it was a dream and that it had no consequences because pixies didn’t really exist. I’m sorry. I’ll see if Siyeon can do damage control in the morning—”

“Nope. Stop right there. I don’t want to know anything else. I love you, but it’s best that whatever magic business you’re into right now, you don’t tell me or anyone outside of your little trio.”

“There’s actually four—”

“Stop! There’s three of you. One of you might be an alien. The other can do a couple card tricks. That’s all I know.”

Jungkook falls back onto the bed. Jimin bounces on the pillow and snores softly, thankfully still asleep. His wings buzz in tandem with his breathing, twitching the way sleeping cats kick the air while they dream. He can’t do anything about his urge to pet his head until he has explicit consent.

“I’ll...contact my lawyer in the morning,” Jungkook says, “and she’ll see what she can do about the...collateral damage caused by my….” Jungkook is too tired for improv. He tilts his phone with his finger hovering over the call button, ready to pull the trigger before Yoongi can scream at him for, “Caused by my homicidal maniac pixie boyfriend goodnight!” 

He ends the call, cutting off his last word without giving Yoongi a chance to reprimand him further.  

Looking at Jimin now, fifteen centimeters tall, curled up in a ball and snoring so small and cute he can barely hear it, Jungkook wouldn’t believe he had it in him to blow apart a whole car with the snap of his fingers.

He sets his phone to the side, rolls over to face Jimin, and cups his tiny body, his heart throbbing from how adorable it is when Jimin presses into his hand. Jimin is going to make Jungkook’s heart explode just like that cop car. 

 

 


 

 

Jungkook thinks that maybe his normal human problems weren’t actually that bad. What is the stress of a few thousand dollars in monthly payments compared to his soulmate’s evil ex-torturer coming out of hiding with proof his boyfriend is a homicidal pixie maniac? 

Bora was already awake when Jungkook followed Jimin downstairs, and already hard at work. She scrolls rapidly up and down through the article on her laptop like she hasn’t read and reread it a hundred times already. After an hour of research there is nothing they don’t know about his case, what information is available to the public and to people willing to pay hundreds of dollars on the deep web for classified documents and pictures that, so far, have all been faked.

The hunt for the missing pixie and others like him has calmed over the last several months. Still, there are people dedicating their lives to meeting one themselves. All the sightings have been cosplayers or photoshop, and nothing incriminating like a real picture of his face that would put Jimin in danger as long as he stays human-sized. What they don’t know is why this has come out now, the day after Jimin returned, and what the person who leaked the footage to news outlets hopes to gain by framing a pixie as a weapon of destruction.

Doctor Yoon, renowned for his surgical excellence in, supposedly, the nation’s finest hospital, who showcased a pixie two years ago at an exhibit that ended within weeks of its debut, disappeared after Jimin’s escape and was presumed dead by most. He is their prime suspect.

“I don’t get why now, of all times, this surfaced,” Bora says, voicing Jungkook’s thoughts exactly. Across the table, Jungkook watches blocks of text reflect in her glasses while she reads a mile a minute searching for something new. “At least I can’t find anything anyone could use to identify when he’s human, so I think we’re fine on that front.”

The only evidence the cops have from that night is a blurry frame by frame of two humans running out of an alley away from a cop car that left behind a cloud of what they identified as pixie dust that, apparently, matched what of Yoon’s top-secret research he left behind. From the angle and the lack of lighting, Jungkook can’t even make out what color Jimin’s hair is or what any of his features look like. The only picture online that shows Jimin as a human was released the next morning.

Jungkook’s heart drops. He stops skimming the discussion boards committed to Jimin and other pixie sightings and shoots up in his chair, leaning halfway over the table.

“Wasn’t there an article about him being a convict who escaped a mental hospital?”

“Yep,” Bora says, much calmer than she should be. “I don’t think we have to worry about that. It says nothing about him being a pixie. The case closed when they couldn’t find him, and it was hard to dig up to begin with. I don’t see that being an issue.”

Jungkook relaxes. He trusts her with his and Jimin’s life, so he continues searching the pixie encounter threads. Jungkook feels dirty for finding many of the pictures the visitors at the exhibit took to be breathtaking. Even though he gets to see him like this every day, there is something unnaturally captivating about seeing Jimin in what humans assume a pixie’s natural habitat looks like, mushrooms and stumps and all, lit all around by LEDs that make his wings appear even brighter.

Jungkook closes the tab on his phone when he sees an image of Jimin laying lifeless in the fake grass captioned, “aw, it’s sleeping.”

“Okay, so, why now?” he asks to distract himself from the image. “No human could have known Jimin came back. Right?” Jungkook turns around in his chair, trying to get Jimin’s attention. His eyes are glued to the new Planet Earth documentaries he missed that came out while he was away.

“Jimin? Did anyone see you before you, you know, appeared yesterday?” Appeared. More like came crash landing back into Jungkook’s life. He hopes Jimin understands which yesterday he is referring too—not the magical kind.

“No,” Jimin answers, not averting his attention at all. Jungkook has no choice but to believe him.

“So then, maybe Yoon is still alive and wants to draw him out?” Jungkook offers. “Why would the cops let something like this sit on the table and not release it the second the exhibit was made public? Or even the day after it happened?” Jungkook didn’t have time to think about it when he only had a month to teach Jimin about how humans really function, but there were many opportunities Yoon had to criminalize Jimin before now.

“Maybe Yoon offered someone hush-money so his exhibit would thrive. I don’t know a lot of people who would want to go see a pixie who was shown to have…” Bora eyes Jimin, smirks, “explosive tendencies.”

“That’s true. And I doubt Seokjin would have allowed it to be publicized either. Wasn’t this supposed to be like a stealth mission for him? Like, to get the pixie information he needed and get out?”

Discussing the events from three summers ago comes easier than Jungkook expected. Maybe because it has been so long that he became desensitized to the idea that someone on Earth was cruel enough to do what Yoon did, or maybe because it has not fully clicked that this is his reality again. Maybe it was the two years of growth and therapy he went through that made talking about this subject as easy as exchanging lecture notes with his classmates. Either way, he feels like he, personally, has passed the too soon point.  

Bora stops scrolling and peers over her glasses. “Seokjin hasn’t come back to Terra since the last time you saw him,” she says quickly in a don’t-ask-questions manner before resuming her scrolling.

“How do you know that?” he asks anyways.

“Maybe you would know too if you hadn’t run away.”

Her response sends a shiver down his spine, her tone and dark eyes reminding him of what Siyeon manifests in the air when she wants to be scary. Bora has always been scary with her inhuman confidence and unlimited energy, but he has never feared her. He wonders if the last two years changed her more than they did him.

“Focus on that,” she says, nodding to his phone.

Jungkook has no choice but to obey as if the command comes from a power greater than his free will. Instead of psychoanalyzing Bora, he opens the hidden wiki and starts from there again.

The worst part about the responses to the footage is that it is painted as an impulsive but purposeful attack on the police force and government agencies as a whole, and not just some young anarchists who wanted to vandalize some public property for kicks.

Yoon operated out of the capital in the upper levels of an active hospital for years without being detected. Nothing on the surface web, deep web, anything accessible with secure WiFi and a VPN alludes to Yoon being outed or blackmailed into allowing this incident to appear in the public, or that he survived Seokjin’s undoubted wrath at all.

Jungkook’s eyes start to hurt from staring at his screen for so long. “I’m just thinking outloud, but if Yoon is still alive, this might be an attempt to prosecute himself, seeing as he was the one who led the…research.” Jungkook manages to stay calm, looking at Jimin alive and distracted in the same room as him. “Maybe he thinks the prison system could protect him from Seokjin?” Jungkook asks. 

Bora looks over her laptop at Jungkook, expressionless. “Seokjin isn’t coming back,” she says. “He’s dying if he’s not dead already. He might have the magic left to build a bridge to Terra, but like you saw with Siyeon, building a bridge from Terra takes more minutes than he has left. He wouldn’t risk coming here.”

“So, his plan didn’t work,” Jungkook says, relived. 

“What do you mean?”

“Siyeon ended up killing him anyways, even if it took two lifetimes. And he didn’t get what he wanted from Jimin that could save himself. All of Yoon’s research was for nothing.”

Bora bites her lip. There is something she won’t tell Jungkook, at least until Siyeon is in the room. 

Jungkook glances to the living room where Jimin is entranced by a leopard seal in a high-speed chase with a swarm of penguins underwater. If he can hear them discussing him and Yoon, he doesn’t show it.

Jungkook lowers his voice and asks, “What do you know?”

“I don’t know what you’re implying.” Bora ignores him and pretends to reread the article on her screen. Jungkook pushes the laptop closed and Bora yelps, yanking her hands away from the keyboard before they get caught.  

“From one human to another,” Jungkook eyes the inhuman being on the couch, “what the hell do you know?”

The air darkens around them. At first, Jungkook thinks it manifests from Bora, finally showing her true colors as another inhuman being that leaves Jungkook alienated as the only human left. It isn’t until the sound of a warlock’s footsteps echo from the stairs that lead down to Siyeon’s magical home office that he drops his suspicion, replaced by a soul-crushing fear.

Jungkook grips the edges of his seat to hold himself together, afraid if he lets go the air will swallow him whole.

Aside from the way Siyeon has no problem with using her gut-wrenching magic around Jungkook, a lowly human, most of his animosity comes from years of unspoken tension that only festered the longer he waited to call her, until he decided he was never going to, and that bitterness lingered. He decided he can’t trust her. She had years to tell him. She could have mentioned something to Jungkook while they studied together, or when they had poker nights at Siyeon’s house, or even during one of their games of cards in the back of study hall.

Because she kept him in the dark, and because Jungkook chose to leave his memories with the bluebells, Jungkook does not remember any of his previous turn at life and how, apparently, he and Siyeon grew close enough that she shared her secrets, took him on the same magical adventures she took Bora in this life, until they finally met Bora after graduation and Siyeon knew she had to be with her. He doesn’t remember visiting the bluebells for their regular check-in on the bridge linking this realm to the next, or seeing Jimin for the first time, shrouded in white, laying helplessly among the flowers as they whispered his name.

He only knows because Siyeon finally decided to tell him, only after it was too late and Jimin had left this realm for good, before he found out what the word Tomorrow means, and why it meant he would never be allowed to move on. The rest of their story is kept safe by the bluebells who know more than a field of wildflowers should know, protecting the memories Jungkook rejected to hold so it would be easier to move on and live a normal human life.

“I used much of my most powerful dust to send him back to the stars,” Siyeon says from behind him. The pressure lessens, still lingering, though no longer in a way that makes Jungkook anticipate his demise. “If he’s found his way back to Terra, he shouldn’t be powerful enough to make even a human such as Yoon afraid. He shouldn’t even be able to stand.”

“He didn’t get Jimin’s dust, did he?” Jungkook dares to ask. He braces for his mouth it will fill with poison or for the hint of deep purple smoke that occupies the entire room to fill his lungs.

“He can get pixie dust from any pixie,” Jimin says, reminding Jungkook that he is still in the room, that Jungkook has someone he can trust on his side.

His response does not sit right with Jungkook. If Jimin remembered, and their contract from what otherworldly beings refer to as yesterday was fulfilled, he should know why Seokjin can’t steal dust from just any pixie. Jimin was supposed to have remembered everything when he left. Jungkook wonders if the bluebells reclaimed his memories again, and if he should take Jimin to them, or if it is better that Jimin does not see what happened to them last time—yesterday.  

His head fills with more inconclusive maybes, and suddenly the idea of his old life with ordinary human issues and relationships calls out to him. He finally loses the momentum built from the night he left. He doubts his recent decisions. He wonders if he even has a chance to make up for his actions and live harmoniously with the humans he abandoned.

If Jungkook was going to cry about his recent regrets, he would do so now and be halfway back home before Jimin’s documentary even ended and he would notice. If he was allowed to leave, if the stars would let him, he might have already. The idea of being cosmically bound to Jimin because of a single contract sealed with white pixie dust, prohibiting Seokjin from ripping them apart, physically written in the stars that he and Jimin were connected even through Seokjin’s universal reset, is not as exciting an idea as it was when Siyeon first explained everything. He had hoped Jimin would come back to him until Siyeon revealed his second contract.

If it weren’t written in the stars, Jungkook would be washing dishes and dreading his morning test that he failed to study for.

When the room fills with light again and Siyeon settles on the couch next to Jimin, only the other human in the room reacts to Jungkook’s discomfort. Bora scoots her chair around the table until her leg nudges Jungkook’s and she wraps her arm around his waist.

“I know none of this makes sense,” she says quietly.

Jungkook stiffens. “You could try explaining it, then.”

Bora takes a deep breath, like she is finally ready to stop being so vague about everything and finally share the rest of the story he missed.

“Maybe it isn’t Seokjin that the man with fake eyes is afraid of,” Jimin says.

“You think so?” Bora asks.

Jimin does not take his eyes off the screen. “He probably used the footage you’re talking about as bait to catch Seokjin’s attention and bargain with him, thinking he would be merciful enough to give him another chance before I found him.”

“That doesn’t explain why he would wait so long, though,” Bora says over Jungkook’s shoulder. “The fact that this happened right when you returned can’t be a coincidence.”

“Maybe it is because he is afraid of Seokjin that he wants to provoke you,” Siyeon says. Even when she isn’t being scary, she still manages to frighten Jungkook with the leftover underlying reverb in her already deep voice.  

“He should be afraid of me,” Jimin says. He doesn’t even take his eyes off the screen. “I told him I would kill him.”

Jimin never once expressed an urge to find and kill Yoon. Now that he has his dust and wings, his confidence must have grown. He could easily kill one human with the snap of his fingers.

“Are you going to hurt him?” Siyeon asks. She sounds excited. “I can find him if you want to hurt him.”

Jimin turns his back to the TV, resting his arms over the back of the couch. There’s a spark of gold in his eye. 

“Can I?” he asks. 

Bora stops playing with the end of her hair and stares at Jungkook. Siyeon stares as well. Jimin waits for an answer. 

“Why are you asking me?” Jungkook asks slowly, looking to Bora for assistance. She says nothing, only pulls her laptop to their side of the table and continues reading. “If you think you can, then… I mean, you didn’t want to kill those cops. Are you sure you could commit, like, actual murder and be okay with it?” 

“I didn’t kill those cops because I thought you would hurt me if you saw me killing another human. I didn’t think you would help me if you thought I was dangerous.”

And this whole time, Jungkook thought he had done it out of the kindness of his heart.

“Killing for revenge is different,” Jungkook says. Is it, though? He wouldn’t know. “Those guys you let off were innocent cops.” An oxymoron. “They hadn’t hurt you yet.” That’s better.

“So, you wouldn’t care if I hurt a human who hurt me?” Jimin looks way too cute in his excitement to be considering murder.

It is true that Jungkook might have dropped Jimin that night if he had murdered a human who, from Jimin’s perspective, had done nothing to hurt him. Jungkook imagined that if Jimin ever went on a murder spree in the operating room, he wouldn’t stop him, only ask to come along to witness it for himself. 

If Siyeon had dust it would be yellow to match Jimin’s. Witnessing Jimin and her go from taciturnity and boredom to homicidally excited is thrilling. He almost forgets that he is supposed to be giving Siyeon the cold shoulder. Grudges can wait until after the evil doctor is dead, Jungkook decides.

“If you’re sure this isn’t bait and you’re capable of...whatever it is you’re planning without getting caught, then, go for it, I guess? Just don’t end up in another zoo.”

“You’d still trust me if I killed a human?”

“This specific one, yeah.” Jimin can kill one human. As a treat. “Right?” Jungkook looks to Siyeon, who nods quickly, eyes darting between Jimin and Jungkook.

“Godspeed,” Bora says without looking up from her laptop, diligently scrolling through another article. She smirks. “Give ‘em hell, babe.”

“That’s the plan,” Siyeon says. 

Bora gasps and shoots up from the table like Siyeon just announced a Dreamcatcher comeback. “Really? For real really? You’re going to—can I come?”

“Absolutely not.”

Bora’s excitement fades as quick as it came and she pouts, falling back into her chair so hard it scoots across the wood and into the kitchen bar. 

“Do you mean the hell spell?” Jungkook asks, suddenly nervous that he’s agreed to letting his homicidal maniac pixie boyfriend go on a hunt with an equally homicidal war criminal banned from an entire realm for an association with the word “hell.”

“I didn’t know the hell spell worked on Terra,” Jimin says. “What was the point of sending you here?”

“It was mostly for show,” Bora says. “The King had no choice.”

“No, the King didn’t,” Siyeon says, sharing Bora’s smile.

“Can we get back to the part where you take my boyfriend out on a murder date? Is that really happening?”

What?” Bora shoots up again, slamming her hands on the table and towering over Jungkook. Jungkook leans all the way back in his chair to avoid a collision. “What did you just call him?”

“My...” It came out so naturally he didn’t even realize. “My boyfriend?”

“Hell yeah!” Bora throws her fists in the air. “This is the best day of my life!” 

“Of your life?” Siyeon asks. 

“Yes! My girlfriend is gonna commit a war crime with my pixie best friend, my other best friend has a boyfriend, the same pixie who is gonna break into a hospital or a prison or someone’s house to commit revenge homicide, and my nachos are gonna be done in, like, two minutes!” Bora looks around the room killing her vibes. “How are you all not as excited as I am?”

“What’s nachos?” 

“I’ll tell you when you’re a murderer.” Bora plops back into her chair, buzzing with excitement.

Jungkook gave up on trying to keep up two years ago. He is still trying to process what he just confirmed to Jimin was a totally okay thing to do. Jungkook was joking when he told Yoongi that Jimin was homicidal. 

It’s not homicide if it’s revenge, he tries to rationalize. 

Jungkook hasn’t seen Siyeon this happy since she hit Woosung in the head with a beaker, and it makes him wonder how healthy it is for him to be living with a group of people this excited about murder. Then he remembers how angry he was hearing about Yoon for the first time. 

“You got numbing agents when they cut you open?” rings in Jungkook’s ears like he’s still at that table, two years younger, no idea about his magical destiny to fall in love with the pixie across from him. 

To Jimin, only a few weeks have passed, yet he’s changed even more than Jungkook. Confidence radiates from him, no longer scared and afraid in a world where he is powerless to defy those who would love to see him in pain.

“Do you have a plan, or are you going to wing another break in?” Jungkook asks. 

“We’ll definitely have to take him somewhere far away to go unnoticed,” Siyeon says. “Maybe Guam?”

“How are you getting to Guam?”

“Jimin, how quick are you over water?” Siyeon asks. 

“I’m not carrying you and a human at the same time.”

Siyeon pouts. “Alright. We’ll think of something on the way there. Jungkook, may we borrow your car? I’ll remove the license plates.”

Sure, he thinks, go ahead and take the car Jungkook is still paying off to the scene of a murder of the most beloved doctor in the nation, and momentarily, the world. 

Jungkook sighs. Who is he to deny Jimin his first murder? 

“Go for it. Just don’t leave any evidence. The keys are by the bed—”

A flash of orange zips by Jungkook’s head and up the stairs, and when he blinks away the dust, Jimin is no longer on the couch. He comes back down the stairs as a pixie, holding Jungkook’s key ring that weighs more than he does as if they are made of feathers.

“We’ll clean out any bloodstains,” Siyeon says as Jimin drops the keys in her hands. 

In another opaque puff of bright orange, Jimin is standing as tall as a human, looking exactly the same as he did before he transitioned. 

“She’s joking,” Bora says before Jungkook catches up to the magic happening. “The hell spell doesn’t spill blood externally.”

“That’s...good?” He hopes.

“It’s kinda hot to hear you talk about bloodstains again.” Bora winks at Siyeon.  

Jungkook can’t believe what he’s hearing. Last week he was mopping crumbs and wiping tables. Now he’s talking about bloodstains in his convertible. He still doesn’t want to think about it too hard, but the idea his boyfriend who is stronger, quicker, and more capable than every human on Earth and is about to use his abilities to end the life of his ex-captor is something he could get into. 

“What if we took him to the operating room?” Jimin asks. 

Jungkook’s eyes widen. Siyeon smiles like a proud mother. The oven dings. 

Bora vaults the kitchen bar and throws on an oven mitt. 

“How incredibly human of you, Jimin.” Siyeon pats Jimin’s cheek and pulls him by his arm towards the door. “However, I would rather not risk your body reacting to the space that traumatized you.” Siyeon tugs on her boots and with her magic, wills the woolen jacket hanging by the door to place itself over her body. “If we leave now, we’ll be back in time for nachos.”

“Nuh-uh,” Bora yells from the kitchen “Make your own. I’m not letting my babies sit and get soggy in the time it takes you two to—ow—” she hisses and drops the sizzling tray onto the stovetop, “—drive all the way to Guam and back. I love you, but homemade tortilla chips don’t last that long.”

“Homemade?” Jungkook asks. 

The smell of jalapenos and melted cheddar reminds Jungkook of the kitchen at the Magic Shoppe almost makes Jungkook forget what’s happening. Almost. 

“Wait.” Jungkook meets Jimin at the door. He doesn’t know what he wants them to wait for. He’s just as ready to see Yoon die as they are to kill him. “Would it be weird if I asked you to take a video, or something?”

“Yes,” Siyeon says. “Only because you won’t see anything happen.”

“What exactly is going to happen?”

“Hell,” Bora says unhelpfully. That doesn’t explain anything. All he knows is he won’t bleed—externally—and something vague about the concept of hell. 

“You’re nervous,” Jimin says. 

“I feel like that’s valid.”

“I’m still killing him, even if you changed your mind.”

Jungkook takes both of Jimin’s hands in his and holds them against his chest. “I am extremely happy and excited for you,” he begins. “Sad I won’t get to see it, or...come along?”

Siyeon shakes her head. “No humans allowed.”

“Fine.” Jungkook turns back to Jimin. “I’m only nervous because I don’t know how you’re going to react. I mean, murder is all fun and games until you’re actually standing over a dead body.”

“I’ve done it.”

“And I know what he did to you was insanely—you what?”

“I’ve killed people,” Jimin says calmly as if what he said is normal and cool. “I’ve never killed a human before, but I don’t see it making a difference. Most pixies have killed people.”

Jungkook looks to Siyeon for...something. Any hint that this is normal and that he is overreacting. She bounces on her toes like she’s about to go to her first prom, or a future crime scene.

“Why?” He fears the answer.

“I’ve never turned down a contract.”

Jungkook’s boyfriend is a hitman. Normal and cool.

“What did you get from killing people?” Jungkook asks, equally worried and curious.

“Usually it was a firstborn.”

Normal. And cool. Nothing to worry about. He definitely is not worrying about what it was Jimin did with a firstborn, if his boyfriend created changelings, or if he ate babies. He prays for the former.

“Then, um, have fun?”

“You’re not nervous anymore.”

“Why would I be? You’re...you. And Siyeon is Siyeon. And Yoon is scum.”

“And you’re human,” Jimin painfully reminds him. “Are you going to be okay if I kill a human?”

Killing Yoon does not feel the same as killing a human. He is something else, something corrupt. He is a being capable of heinous acts of pure cruelty who agreed to find what it takes to kill a pixie through the worst forms of physical and psychological torture, two lifetimes in a row. He is the worst this world has to offer. Jungkook remembers one of the first conversations he had with Jimin, how Yoon’s lack of humanity has everything to do with how human he is. He is perfectly human.

“Just this one,” Jungkook says. “We’ll discuss racists and politicians another time.”

“What’s—”

“Another time.”

Jimin doesn’t move. He looks at Jungkook like he’s waiting for something. Something like letting go of his hands so he can leave.

Jungkook lets Jimin go. “Kick his ass, babe.”

In a final, deadly act of cute, Jimin stands on his toes to kiss Jungkook quickly before following Siyeon out the door. 

“They’ll be fine,” Bora says from the table. She nudges the nachos in Jungkook’s direction. Her eyes shine. “Wanna hear about the hell spell? They’ll be fine without us. Everyone’s a little homicidal, and that’s okay.”

Jungkook pulls out his chair, replaying what just happened in his head the way one tries to recall a dream while it is still fresh in their mind.

“Hell spell?” Bora asks again over a handful of dripping spicy nachos. 

Jungkook takes a piece from the corner. It burns his mouth, delicious nonetheless.

“Yes, please tell me what’s about to happen to Yoon in extreme detail while we eat.”

“Oh,” Bora picks a jalapeno from the top and eats it plain, “sorry. Another time.”

“I know that sounded like a joke, but seriously, tell me everything. Why is it called the ‘hell spell?’”

Bora smiles. She looks like she’s been waiting for this her whole life. 

“So, you’ve heard of hell. And you’ve heard of spells, right?”

Jungkook nods. “Sounds familiar.”

“The human concept of hell, is, by most accounts, a place,” she continues. “Sometimes it’s somewhere you go when you die on the naughty list. Sometimes you go there if you’re a boy who likes to kiss other boys. Sometimes it’s inescapable because humans are all filthy from birth, right?”

“Sure.”

“Wrong,” Bora snaps, stabbing the air with a nacho in Jungkook’s direction. A glob of hot cheese lands on Jungkook’s shirt. “Oops.”

Jungkook picks it off and drops it on the edge of the tray. “Keep going. Hell isn’t really the place where boys who like to kiss other boys go when they die?” 

“Shocking, I know.” Bora rolls her eyes. “Anyways, the concept of hell is real, but humans got one part wrong. Hell isn’t a place. It is eternal, though.”

“It’s a state of mind?” Jungkook tires. 

“Kind of. No.” 

“Hell is a teenager’s uncleaned gym locker.”

“No. You can keep guessing.”

Jungkook contemplates over his next chip. “A shopping mall retail job during a global pandemic?”

“Close.”

“These nachos?”

Bora gasps and swipes the tray away from Jungkook as he reaches for another chip. “He didn’t mean it,” she reassures the nachos. 

“Is hell when you’re trapped in an evil lab while an evil scientist picks you apart from the inside?” Jungkook asks. 

“That’s...surprisingly accurate, actually.” She stops withholding the tray so Jungkook can take another handful. “Where would you come up with such an idea?”

Jungkook shrugs. “No idea. I give up. What’s hell?”

Bora sits up straight in her chair, pulls out her phone, and shines the flash on her face from below, about to tell him a ghost story. It is still bright outside and they aren’t even by a campfire. The light is too much for her eyes, blinding her when it shines directly at her face, so she turns it off and drops her phone.

“Are you ready?” she asks, smiling wide. 

Jungkook nods, unable to answer through a mouthful of hot cheese. 

Bora’s voice drops when she gets into character. “During the first phase of the hell spell, your guts rearrange and twist around inside you until they snap from the tension.” She snaps a nacho between her fingers. It would be funny if she weren’t describing Jimin’s life for a whole decade.

 Jungkook sets a handful of chips back on the tray. Now is not the best time.

“You can’t die during the hell spell unless you are already dead. Even when you feel your bones crack and reform to break again and stretch out of your skin, and your lungs fill with boiling acid, you can’t scream to lessen the pain.”

That’s all Jungkook wants for Yoon. 

“You can breathe, but no relief comes with the air, only more acid.” She looks a little too excited about this. “You skin dries and peels back layer by layer,” she strips a nacho clean of its cheese and drops it, “as infinite needles stab into you from every angle and dimension. Your eyes are carved out with a gardening shovel and sewn back in using your own veins as thread.”

This is what Bora called “hot.”

“All of this happens at once. For a second you feel relief, thinking it’s finally over, until it starts again. At first, you think, ‘this is it, this is the last time,’ but there is never a last time. Not until she says it’s over.”

Bora flicks a jalapeno off a chip in Jungkook’s direction, then pushes the tray of nachos back to Jungkook. He shakes his head at the plate. He doesn’t have an appetite anymore. Bora shrugs and takes a handful of pure melted cheese and jalapenos and eats it plain. 

Jimin went through at least half of that without a spell without ever having deserved it. 

“Is that all?” Jungkook says.

“Just the physical stuff. And that’s just how we can describe it with language. Apparently, it’s indescribable. It gets worse when it comes to things like your consciousness and mentality.”

“And using this got Siyeon banished from her realm?”

“Using the hell spell isn’t a crime. Inventing it, however, and allegedly using it on the King’s lover is what gave the King no choice. Everyone knew how she and the King felt about each other.”

Hearing that his high school best friend invented hell is something Jungkook will never get used to. All he knows about her life before this realm has to do with a crime she committed during a time of war that ended with her allegedly killing the King’s lover in a fit of jealousy, because the hell spell is her specialty. No one expected Seokjin, a walking star himself, to have anything to do with the outcome. No one knew his motivation, not even the King herself, until it was too late, and Siyeon had been banished.

“Hot, right?”

“Is it?” Jungkook asks. “Is it really?”

“Maybe. I don’t know. I’ve never seen her do it. She hasn’t done it since her banishment.”

“How long has it been?”

“In human years? No idea.”

“What about in warlock years?”

“No idea.”

“And she’s going to be okay using it now? Does it have any side effects? Like, does she have to hear the screams of the damned every time she closes her eyes?”

Bora shakes her head as she finishes her last massive bite of nachos. There are only two chips left on the tray, stripped of their cheese and jalapenos. She gestures at the chips then to Jungkook, her mouth too full to speak.

“You can finish them,” he says.

Somehow, Bora manages to fit two more chips in her mouth. It is incredible to witness. Probably the most impressive thing he’s seen to date, pixies and warlocks included. He tries not to laugh as Bora struggles to clear her throat before she lets out a deep breath. That looked like a workout. 

“No side effects,” Bora says as she wipes her hands on the sides of her pants. “That’s what makes this one so dangerous.”

“There’s more than one?”

“No idea. Siyeon doesn’t like to talk about it. She didn’t tell me until we got high with these really friendly mermaids.” Bora pushes out from the table and rounds the kitchen bar to pour a glass of water. “Did you know they smoke actual seaweed?” she asks from behind the pitcher.

“No, I didn’t. Is it okay that you’re telling me this?”

“Yeah, it’s all good. This is what you missed out before you, you know, left. I’m just catching you up. Want something to drink?”

“I’m okay.” Jungkook taps his fingers on the table in a row, trying to come up with an excuse for leaving aside from pettiness and impulsivity. Even though Bora didn’t ask, he feels like he owes her an explanation.

“Are you sure you’re okay? I mean, it’s your boyfriend who’s gonna be helping her,” she says into the cup. She chugs the whole glass without taking a breath. 

It isn’t Jungkook’s place to distrust Siyeon’s judgement—magic wasn’t exactly his major. Still, he can’t help the protectiveness he feels for Jimin, despite Jimin being the strongest being known to this realm accompanied by the warlock who invented hell.

“I doubt he’ll actually be doing anything but providing dust. I think it was...purple she needed? And black? And the rest are colors humans can’t see.”

“What, no pink for the hell spell?”

“Oh, and pink!”

“I was kidding.”

“Well, there is pink. That’s for the healing process so it can happen over and over.”

The idea of Jimin’s ethereal pink dust anywhere near Yoon disgusts him.

“What about white?” 

Jungkook jumps at the voice behind him, banging his knee into the table as he shoots out of his chair as Bora yelps and drops her glass into a million shards on the tiles. Jungkook spins to a sickeningly familiar face that makes his heart beat like a drum. His chair skids across the floor from the momentum and bumps into Seokjin’s leg. 

“Jungkook, step away,” Bora demands, suddenly holding a kitchen knife the size of her forearm. Her voice is steady and loud, despite her hands shaking with fear. The human in her reacts instinctively. Jungkook knows the feeling.

He takes a step back like Bora commanded but goes no further. He didn’t have a choice.

“No time for that,” Seokjin says. “I need you both here for this.”

Seokjin wears the same long, velvet blue robes he wore when he stole the night sky right out from above Jimin and himself. This time he only stars stitched into the fabric flicker in and out sporadically across the body. No milky ways, no planets, no mysterious black holes when he widens his arms—just a few dying stars.

Seokjin takes a step towards Jungkook. Something whizzes by Jungkook’s head so fast he doesn’t register what it is until it’s impaled in the blue on Seokjin’s chest. The knife lands a clean hit, impeccable aim, and if Seokjin were human, it would have stopped his heart. 

Out of the two of them, Bora has more experience with magic, based on what she’s described domestic life with a warlock to be. However, Jungkook has more experience with Seokjin. If he nearly hit him the first time they met, when Seokjin had more stars at his will, Jungkook can take him this time.

“Jungkook, get back!” Bora yells.

Jungkook backs up until he bumps into the table.

“Jungkook, stay,” Seokjin says calmly.

“You have no idea whose home your invading,” Bora seethes.

Seokjin gasps theatrically, his eyes widening as he presses his hand to his chest. He would make a terrible actor.

“Did I stumble into the wrong crooked magician’s living room again?” He looks around the room, out the window, down at the floor. “No, this is the right place.”

“Jungkook, call Siyeon,” It is hardly her voice anymore, shrouded in underlying inhuman reverb. “Now!” Jungkook recognizes the deep echo, how it brings him the same chilling fear that Siyeon’s magic does when she turns the room dark and her eyes glow. Bora’s eyes don’t glow. She is still a human. Whatever trick she learned, or protection Siyeon placed on her, that is all it is.

“Jungkook, roll over,” Seokjin says. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Jungkook’s phone is on the other side of the room. He does not dare cross Seokjin, turn his back to him for even a second. Still, he feels like he has to, like an internal itch in his brain that will not disappear until he does.

Sparks of gold fly around Seokjin like a thousand sparklers, blockading Jungkook in this side of the room. Like Jimin’s dust, it floats lightly to the ground. It smells sweet, overwhelming the smell of Bora’s nachos and filling the room with something that smells distinctly like a star, indescribable.

This is the second most powerful magic in the universe, matched only by Jimin’s, and Jimin is not here.

Jungkook hasn’t felt this unnatural rage in years. He didn’t miss it. Nothing has made him more aggressive, more defensive, than looking one of Jimin’s tormentors in the eye and remembering what they did to him. 

Despite the help he could provide, Jungkook is glad Jimin is not here to hear his heart. The last time Seokjin stood before them, he made Jimin cry, and he scared him more than the evil star had. Wishing Jimin were here to protect him reminds Jungkook how weak he is compared to everyone. While he was taking notes and messing up orders, Bora continued to learn and live around magic.  

“Aren’t you supposed to be a corpse?” Jungkook grips the edge of the table as Seokjin takes another step forward, closing in until he is so close that the knife in his chest brushes against Jungkook’s shirt. This close, Jungkook can see a black hole in one of his eyes and window to a million stars in the other.

“Is this your new owner? She’s less dense than the last—” Seokjin tilts his head as he catches another knife aimed for his eyes. “Careful,” he warns. “You might miss one of these times and run the human through.” Seokjin runs the flat edge of the knife over Jungkook’s head in the same manner he would pet a dog before tossing the knife over his shoulder. It clatters on the wooden floor, echoing throughout the dining room.

Siyeon said he’s basically dead by now if he’s not already. Jungkook may be able to land a full punch this time. 

“You won’t find him here,” Bora says. Her voice is normal again. Jungkook needs to learn that trick too if he wants to acclimate to life here again.

Seokjin shakes his head, presses his hand to his forehead like a disappointed parent. 

Jungkook hears another knife slide out of the block. 

Seokjin aligns himself perfectly behind Jungkook. He’s taller and broader, and Jungkook doesn’t know how well Bora can aim, didn’t know she could at all. He doesn’t think she wouldn’t risk the knife going through Jungkook unless she is that confident in her abilities. 

The knife slides back into its block. She is not that confident.

Seokjin stands even taller than Jungkook by a few inches with how hunched and tense Jungkook became at the closeness. 

“May I have your name?” Seokjin asks over Jungkook’s shoulder. 

“No, you may not,” Bora says. “There is nothing here for you.”

“Are you going to tell me to leave?” Seokjin asks. “I will comply with all that which you desire.”

Though Jungkook can’t see Bora’s face, he can imagine her reaction based on Seokjin’s smirk and the way the flickering stars in his eyes brighten. Jungkook guesses her reaction is the same as his own—confusion and panic.

“Do you have the time?” Seokjin asks. 

“Jungkook,” Bora snaps. “Upstairs.”

The itch returns. Seokjin’s dust sets off thousands of small fires around the two of them, hissing in and out of existence from all directions. Unlike the last sparks, Jungkook can feel the heat closing in on him even after they have faded.

“May I have your answer?”

“A dying star can’t do anything with the daylight.”

Jungkook flinches when Seokjin claps his hands and holds them together.

“You’re right. I am a dead star walking. Not much time left in me,” he taps over one of the flickering stars on his wrist, “so I’ll ask a serious question now. Raise your hand if you know the answer.”

Jungkook braces for the question he hasn’t heard in years yet still torments him in his nightmares. He knows nothing can kill a pixie. More importantly, he knows Seokjin knows this. The question doesn’t scare Jungkook anymore.

“Who, in this room, has killed a pixie?”

“You can’t—” Jungkook lunges forward, halted by Seokjin’s hand against his chest. He can feel the radiation of a faraway sun seeping through Seokjin’s skin.  

“I’ll give you a hint.” Seokjin points to himself. “It’s not me.”

 

 


 

 

Jimin does not have to see past the walls of the house to know exactly where the man with fake eyes sits.

Anticipation. Underlying dread.

It is the most Jimin has ever heard from his heart. He had become accustomed to the tunes of humans hearts and knows that a doctor like the man with fake eyes has a heart that does not sing. It drones. It buzzes. The buzzing spikes occasionally, and that is when Jimin can identify what he’s feeling. 

The road on which Siyeon stopped driving continues perpendicular to the structure housing the man with fake eyes. There are other houses, similar in size and color, and they are vacant. Siyeon said Jimin would feel an eerie quiet where they were going. Aside from the tall trees bordering each dwelling and short, dying grass in front of them, the entire road lacks color. There are no birds, no rodents, no Terra fauna in the area. 

“How many humans do you hear?” Siyeon asks as she watches the human standing unmoving next to a door guarding the man with fake eyes.  

Jimin counts the heartbeats. Two humans are bored and agitated. They share a similar tune. One of the humans, the one standing outside the house between Jimin and the man with fake eyes, is alert. That human does not want to be here, however, they feel a sense of duty. There is another human inside the house coming from the same location as the man with fake eyes. They are angry. Jimin cannot decipher at whom the anger is directed. 

“There are four humans.”

“Are you sure?” Siyeon asks. 

“Four humans and one doctor.”

“Ah, right.” Siyeon turns to Jimin, hands dropping from the circle that guides the car. “I guess Jungkook never told you.”

“Told me what?”

“All doctors are humans.”

“Yes, different breeds.”

“No, Jimin. This is important. Not all doctors are like Yoon. The scientists in the operating room ran on a different set of morals.”

Jimin shifts in his seat and faces the window, uncomfortable with the notion that any human could be a doctor and he wouldn’t know it. He tightens his wings around his waist under his sweater for comfort. They wrap around his torso twice, adding bulk to the fabric. It is the best solution he and Siyeon came up with to hide them.

“Are you ready?” Siyeon asks, even though she knows the answer. 

According to their plan, Jimin will oversee everything except the final spell which Siyeon will use on the man with fake eyes as to not waste what little dust she brought with her and not deplete Jimin of his. 

From the front seat of Jungkook’s car, Jimin sends a cloud of crimson through the microscopic cracks between the window and the door that seeps into the street and follows his instructions, slithering like a snake up the stone path at the end of which stands the first unexpecting human. 

“Can I kill it?” Jimin asks. 

Siyeon sighs. Disappointment. “No. Only because you won’t be able to lie to Jungkook and tell him it was just one if he asks.”

Jimin scowls. He was starting to get a rush from the prospect of killing his first human. Something lingers with him from Seokjin’s teachings—an itch to destroy humanity after hearing about and experiencing the atrocities of which they are capable. He will have to learn to ignore it if he wants to live harmoniously on Terra, because he has no choice.

“You can hurt it,” Siyeon says. “Just make sure it doesn’t bleed. We need his hired men unconscious, not dead.”

The most efficient way to immobilize a human with his dust is by clogging their lungs until they pass out from lack of oxygen. After the human at the end of the stone path falls to their knees, eyes rolled back in their head, Jimin sends the red dust to the opposite end of the road where the other two humans hide in their own car. 

They have been watching Jimin and Siyeon this whole time under the impression that they were being inconspicuous. Hearing their hearts drop from boredom to terror brings a smile to Jimin’s face. He cannot wait to hear the heart of the one he is going to kill feel the same before coming to a slow stop. 

There is only one more human to take care of before the man with fake eyes—the angry one inside the house. 

Siyeon opens her door first and takes with her a small brush and a glass jar. 

“I’ll meet you inside after I clean up,” she says, nodding to the house. 

Jimin follows the stone path to the door near the unconscious human. Like Siyeon’s house, there are multiple levels, and the inside is filled with individual rooms. The walls are dark and there are sheets of fabric drawn over the windows. The floor is soft and clean. It smells of chemicals found only on Terra.

When Jimin twists the handle to encourage the door to open, it clicks and refuses to turn completely. Jimin yanks the handle out of place to rid the door of its locking mechanism and tosses the brass handle into the grass. Two human hearts beat from a cluster of blue cushioned chairs inside the house on left. Among the cluster Jimin sees a human whose face he does not recognize, even though the stale drone of his heart is unmistakable.

Jimin does not waste time observing the human next to the man with fake eyes as they stand and point something at Jimin’s chest. From the way they grip the handle, Jimin assumes it is a weapon. 

“Stop!” the human barks. The weapon clicks. Jimin considers letting the human use the weapon to observe how it works. “Don’t fuckin’ move or I’ll shoot.”

Shoot. A projectile weapon that gives this human confidence—a bow of some kind?

The man with fake eyes is smiling. Jimin can no longer gauge his emotions. He has none. The human with the projectile, on the other hand, is overcome by adrenaline and a hunger for power, unconfounded.

A surge of arrogance, and a blast echoes in the room. It comes from the human with the projectile. At the same time, Jimin feels a searing parcel of metal rip through the front of his shirt and collide with a barrier of dust over his chest. The kick knocks Jimin back as he braces with one foot planted behind him, his heel dug into the hardwood. He feels no pain, as expected. The projectile falls from the inside of his sweater to his feet and clatters across the floor.

Before the human processes his failure, they collapse under Jimin’s dust, wrapped around the human’s torso in a vice grip. Jimin watches the struggle, the plea in the human’s eyes directed at the man with fake eyes until the oxygen depletes and the human in unconscious.  

Wonder comes from the man with fake eyes. Instead of feeling discouraged, seeing the man with fake eyes with normal human eyes and normal human hands no longer bound in rubber, Jimin grows ecstatic.

He does not so much as blink when he locks eyes, human to human eyes, with the man who made Jungkook cry after witnessing what he had done to Jimin’s torso, scattered with scars that Jungkook healed with human kisses. Jimin suffered through hearing Jungkook sob all night. The pain he felt hearing Jungkook’s despair is different and greater than the pain he felt when receiving the scars.

“Is it just you?” Yoon asks, surprisingly calm as his normal human eyes squint at Jimin as if he is looking at a fluorescent white light from an operating table. His voice sends a shiver down Jimin’s spine that stops at his wings. There is no reason to be afraid of a human when he is no longer handicapped by their injections and bound to a table. 

Jimin does not answer. 

“I missed you,” he coos, unmoving from his seat. He is hunched over his knees, hands folder under his chin. “The angel said you wouldn’t get the chance to stop by and visit me in my retirement before he sent me downstairs. Thank you for coming to give your father one last visit before the end.”

Jimin understands none of his words in context. He does not let it show. “I don’t have a father.”

“I don’t have kids,” Yoon says. “If I did, I could never love them as much as I love you, my precious little mantis.”

When Jimin does not respond or make a move toward him, Yoon’s heart speeds. He is feeling an inkling of a human emotion, something akin to what Jimin felt the day he woke up and realized his wings were gone. 

“You got my message, I’m guessing?”

It would be best to kill him now. Something human in Jimin wants to know more, to hear him speak from a position of vulnerability.

“You had better hurry and answer or my anticipation will kill me before you can. You got my cry for salvation, correct? Aren’t you glad I paid off the rotten department of justice and brutality to give me, and only me, access to the footage that caught you attacking the city’s security?”

“I told you I was going to kill you,” Jimin says, ignoring the parts of Yoon’s speech he does not understand, does not care to have explained. What matters is that he had called for Jimin, and Jimin came, and Yoon is going to regret it. Whatever his plan was, he already failed.

“Somehow, I never believed you.”

“You know I can’t lie.” The amount of empty threats he made from the operating table catch up to him. He has a lot of promises to fulfill, all ending in Yoon’s death. 

“But you’ve hesitated. Could it be...you don’t want to see me die?” He tilts his head to the side. His hair shines unnaturally silver in the light from the window. “Do you love me that much?”

Jimin steps further into the house, crossing half the distance between them in two steps. Yoon does not flinch. His eyes widen, but he isn’t afraid. 

“Don’t you have any questions you want to ask me first?” Impatience. “Why did I cut you to pieces and rearranged your guts? Have you figured it out?” His breath reeks of arrogance. 

Disgust. It is a new feeling to Jimin. So far one of Jimin’s least favorite emotions. 

“Why did you release the image of me destroying human property?” He did not want to ask, he did not think he cared. However, he has all the time he wants to provoke Yoon, to pick at his brain with his words, to see him struggling to stay calm in Jimin’s presence. It makes Jimin feel powerful, and he enjoys the feeling of power.

“Well, knowing you or your band of magic creatures would see it is why I hired these useless men.” Yoon nudges the unconscious body with his foot. “I would much rather be killed by your pretty pixie dust instead of suffering eternally at the hand of the angel. He said you would not have the pleasure of killing me before he did. Unfortunately, I don’t believe he knew I still had leverage. Come sit?” Yoon motions to a chair beside him.

Jimin stays standing. 

“You were much more vocal on the operating table. I miss hearing your voice. Will you scream for me again?”

At the mention of the operating table, the air between them festers with Jimin’s agony, darkening the room in a thin cloud of purple that Jimin tries to suppress.

“The angel said you had learned how to feel emotions. I was hoping to see it with my own eyes.”

“You know Seokjin,” Jimin says. 

“We’ve met, yes. I did not believe in angels before he came to my door asking for my help. I’ll tell you more if you come sit next to me. I can’t see very far without my glasses. You’re nothing but a blur from all the way over there.”

“What were the conditions of your contract with Seokjin?”

Yoon stiffens at the word contract

“You’ll be able to tell if I’m lying, won’t you?”

“I know everything you’re feeling right now. You can’t hide anything from me.”

Yoon taps the armrest of the seat next to him once more. This will end sooner if Jimin accepts his offer. He would be more willing to talk to Jimin if they were at eye level. 

Jimin gathers a fistful of dust and yanks the chair across the room. It screeches against the floor and spins behind Jimin. He delights in the way Yoon flinches, how his heart reacts with awe and helplessness, defenseless as Jimin was, as if he is strapped in his place on the table with Jimin as the needles above his eyes. 

Jimin lowers into the seat from a distance, sitting tall and attentive on the edge. “What were the conditions of your contract with Seokjin?” he demands.  

Yoon hesitates. Jimin summons a spark of red dust to his fingertips that singes the chair and fills the air with the smell of smoke and the sound of a racing human heart that knows it can’t win.

Yoon clears his throat and matches Jimin’s posture. “The conditions were as follows: I tear you apart cell by cell until I find out just what you are. What makes you breathe? What makes your heart beat? What causes your dust to form? And above all else, what does it take to kill a pixie?”

The same question Seokjin had for Jungkook. 

“There is nothing a pixie. Humans, however, die very quickly.”

“Oh? And how would you know?” Yoon leans forward. Excitement.

“I studied humans longer than you studied me.” A spike of fear. Jimin continues, “I know how you work. I know what you are. I know what makes you breathe, and what makes your human heart beat.” He revels in the way Yoon reacts to his own words, his own ego betrayed him. “I’m curious to know what it sounds like when it stops.”

“I’ve accepted my fate and I’m not afraid,” Yoon lies. “If I knew it would be at the hands of my own creation that I would meet my end, I never would have allowed your escape. Unfortunately, it was you, or the man who was capable of sending me to hell. I would much rather die and become dust of the Earth than suffer what he had planned for me.”

Jimin clenches his jaw and presses his nails into the armchair, trying to hold back a cloud of deep brown boiling under his skin. Yoon left the door cracked on by design, his ego overriding the logic of the risk. Jimin is pained by the memory.  

Yoon studies Jimin’s face as Jimin bites down harder to suppress the tell of his anger. Yoon is not worth his dust. 

“Do you know what made Seokjin so right about us humans, Jimin?”

Jimin stares. Yoon smirks. He will be dead in a matter of minutes. He’s not worth Jimin’s emotions. There is no way out of this room for Yoon. It is just a matter of how much of his gut-wrenching voice that grinds against Jimin’s ears like gravel crunching under a snakes belly he can withstand.  

“He knew I would give him the answers he desired. When I figured out what it took to kill a pixie, Seokjin was unsatisfied.”

“Pixies can’t be killed,” Jimin reminds him.

Yoon gasps in delight, satisfied with Jimin’s response. “Very good, little roach. I could not figure out on my own what it took to kill you, this is true.”

Jimin despises the pride, the hint of security that reaches his ears over the monotone drone of Yoon’s otherwise emotionless heart. 

“I’ll tell you what it took to kill you, but I need you to promise me you’ll let me see your reaction. I’m going to die, anyways. Set aside your pride and let me shock you one last time.”

Jimin does not value his human pride. If what it will take for answers is ignoring his human ego, he will. 

“I won’t hide anything,” Jimin says. 

Yoon waits for Jimin to relax in his seat before continuing. “A pixie died, Jimin. A pixie was murdered by a human on this very Earth, not too long ago.”

Jimin cannot react if he cannot make sense of Yoon’s words. They are reminiscent of a time he cannot recall. Something intercepted his memories when he returned to Terra, blurring them in an outline of blues and greens, a field of bluebells providing a barrier between his mind and that which he cannot remember.

Jimin nods for Yoon to continue. 

“The pixie’s wings were destroyed upon contact when Seokjin brought his teeny tiny body into my lab after our…arrangement. I wish I could tell you why I was chosen, but as I’m sure you know, Seokjin is, as humans, capable of lying without consequence, so I could never be sure.”

Everything Yoon says is true. After Jimin kills Yoon, Jimin is going to kill Seokjin. Without a contract, without the promise of sentimental gain, Jimin is going to finish what Siyeon began. 

“When the pixie’s wings were destroyed, I had no leverage. If I let the pixie go, he would never come back to me. Then, one day, during an open lung surgery, the anomaly inside the pixie erupted in my face.” Yoon emphasizes with his hands, mimicking the shape of an explosion. “Despite all my progress and effort, he vanished in a cloud of white dust that never existed until that day. I was sure I had blocked it all.”

White dust does not exist outside of Hye’s palace, yet somehow, Yoon is not lying.

As agreed, Jimin lets go of a small amount of purple that he had previously held back. Along with the horror he feels shame—shame he did not know there was a pixie with white dust on Terra, a pixie who Yoon killed. Shame that he let Yoon see his dust one more time. 

“Is this what I missed when I had you on dust blockers?” Yoon gestures to the layer of purple in the grains of the wood surrounding them. “It’s beautiful.”

“How did you kill the pixie?” Jimin demands. 

“I didn’t.” Yoon sits straight in his chair, legs crossed and arms resting at his sides. His pride sounds like shards of glass cutting into Jimin’s skin. “After his escape, the pixie went on to follow the only sound he found familiar—you know what, I’ll fast-forward through the boring bits. Seokjin made the story seem much more interesting.” Yoon’s voice drops. He’s excited. “The pixie flew away and, at the last gap between our realms, met a human,” he drawls, tilting his head to from side to side and rolling his hand through the air as his voice bounces with impatience, as if telling this story is a burden. “They fell in love, et cetera, the pixie refused to leave,” the speed at which he talks increases with each word, “the pixie’s dust depleted from the tears on his back until there was none left, et cetera, et cetera,” he finishes quickly with a sigh. He tilts his head back, like he’s bored, like this is a story he’s told again and again. 

In a way, Jimin is thankful he does not draw out the time it takes to tell him the story. The quicker Jimin learns what he wants, the sooner he can kill Yoon.

“With his wings destroyed and an infinite pool of dust leaking from the scars on his back,” Yoon continues, “the pixie eventually lost every last drop of what made him pixie. You know how it goes. Or, do you?”

Bright white flashes behind Jimin’s eyes when he blinks. He is still in the chair, still meters away from Yoon, but he can feel the heat from the lamps and blinding fluorescents swinging above him as if he is under Yoon’s control once again. As Yoon’s confidence grows, Jimin’s wavers.

“Seokjin had no reason to be angry with me—I had no idea destroying his wings would eventually kill the pixie!” He throws his hands in the air. 

Jimin flinches at Yoon’s movements, remembering what always came next. He braces for a sharp pain that does not come. They are not in the operating room.

“At the time, I didn’t know the only way to kill a pixie was to take away everything that separated him from a human until he eventually became one. I didn’t know what I had done to you in the operating room would catch up with your fully human anatomy.”

My anatomy?” Jimin has his wings. He has dust. He is a pixie. He will never be like the pixie Yoon killed. Seokjin will never take his wings from him. 

“Still following?”

Slowly, Jimin nods for him to continue. 

“Use your words, cricket.”

“Yes,” Jimin says through gritted teeth. 

Yoon smiles the way doctors smile before making an incision. He smiles the way he smiled when he laughed at Jimin through his agony. He revels in Jimin’s discomfort, and Jimin cannot wait to see the light leave his eyes and hear his heart beat its last beat. 

“So, to answer your question from earlier—granted immunity to eternal damnation. That’s what the angel offered me in return for my services. I could tell he was dying. The color drained from the stars on his body,” he indicates his words with his hands, pulling down on the air. “His eyes were no longer golden swirls to match the sun itself. They were dull, cloudy greys like an overcast sky.” 

Jimin follows his eyes to the window behind him. 

“Much like today,” Yoon says.  

Outside, the only exposed window in the house, the sky is filled with stratus clouds shrouding everything beneath in a filter of bleak grey. It looks like it might rain.

“Keep going,” Jimin demands.

Yoon’s heart rushes with fearful anticipation. Part of him is delighted.

“So, after the angel realized he had failed to get his answer, I gave him the most scientifically advanced advice one can give: If you want to achieve a new outcome, you must adjust the starting factors.” He leans forward. “I asked him, what was it that made the pixie’s dust leak? Who was the human who captured his heart that made him decide to stay long enough that his he became one? What were this pixie’s predisposed feelings about humans before Seokjin took him to me?”

Jimin contemplates, shuffling through the memories he can access and connecting them to Yoon’s story.

“The pixie’s dust leaked because he had no wings,” Jimin repeats.

Yoon nods in confirmation.

Seokjin adjusted that factor—Yoon did not destroy Jimin’s wings, as he could use them for his aforementioned leverage to lure Jimin back to him after he escaped. His dust would not leak entirely, and he would not be out of reach if Yoon kept his wings. That much makes sense to Jimin considering the evidence.  

“If the pixie feared the humans, he would never accept becoming one,” Jimin says, organizing his thoughts out loud and seeking confirmation. “He would be more inclined to stay behind the counterfeit safety of the operating room, or go home as soon as he had the chance. Is that what you were hoping for?”

“I see it’s finally clicking,” Yoon says. “This isn’t your first time on Earth. Or, as you creatures adorably put it, Terra. Did you know there is a man who can rewrite the stars?”

“Seokjin was dying. He couldn’t have rearranged all the stars it would take to reset that many events.”

“It’s not my place to argue with a creature of magic about the laws of magic, I know. I heard that magic doesn’t exist on Terra. As a human scientist, I can only make an educated guess, but perhaps the reason this realm is depleted of magic is because Seokjin already made use of it after his first visit. Which, technically, never happened, according to the stars.”

It sickens Jimin how much sense it makes, how willing he is to agree with Yoon. Yoon knows nothing of magic and the realms beyond the one in which he resides, and he’s human enough to hypothesize. Jimin unfortunately agrees with his theory. 

“How did Seokjin know I had white dust?” Jimin asks. “You said you don’t understand why he chose you. I don’t understand why he chose me.”

“Oh!” Yoon claps his hands together, smiling wide. “I forgot about that part—it’s my favorite. It’s why he was so upset when you died a human, because, as I’m sure you know, the dust humans leave behind when they die is nothing compared what becomes of your tiny little bodies. You become the dust from which you were born—“

“I know this,” Jimin says as calmy as he can. He is losing his patience. “Tell me how Seokjin knew I was born from white dust.

Yoon displays the primal human instinct to curl into himself when he is afraid, as if leaning away from Jimin would save him.

“Details aside,” Yoon says to the floor, “he said he watched you hand over some of your precious pearly dust to a corrupt magician, who then used it to harm him.” His voice shakes. Jimin likes it better this way. “Because of this, he wanted to be the first and last to have agency over your dust, the only thing capable of harming him. In the human world, we call that a monopoly.

Jimin does not remember making a contract with Siyeon for his dust, and until recently, did not even know he wielded it. He wonders what other memories were stolen and hidden away in the bluebells. He is anxious, more than anything, to find out.

“Jimin, do you think the angel is an evil man?”

The question catches him off guard. He asks so sincerely that Jimin knows he is not making a joke. He is truly asking Jimin, someone he claims to know more about than anyone, if he thinks that Seokjin is an evil man. Jimin almost wants to laugh.

“No,” he says. “Don’t assume I measure morality on the same dimension as a human.”

“Do you think…I am evil?” He sounds pained, afraid of the answer.

The word no catches in his throat.

“Yes,” he says softly, testing the word. He was not sure if he would be able to answer at all.

Intrigue. Yoon relaxes, lets his shoulders drop as he smiles a doctor’s smile.

“Interesting.”

“It doesn’t matter. Have you any more information regarding Seokjin?”

“Whether it was revenge or self-defense, does not matter to you, does it?” Yoon ignores his question. “Though, they are often one and the same. You can continue to think of me as evil until the end, I don’t mind. Although, we all pretend to be the heroes, always on the good side, we’re all villains on the other.”

Jimin feels disgust once more at the thought that he and Yoon have anything in common, even something as trivial as the concept of evil. His human ego betrays him, his frustration let out in crimson and green that he does not suppress.

“Your dust is beautiful. I heard pixies usually turn to grey when they die. Is that true?”

Nothing Yoon says matters to Jimin anymore. He stands from his chair and brushes dust off the front of his shirt and from his shoulders. He has answers he did not even know he had questions for. Knowing he has his human Jungkook to return to when he’s finished his business here fills Jimin with a sense of accomplishment. 

“Have you any more information regarding Seokjin?” Jimin asks again.

Yoon bows his head and his heart beats rapidly, hitting the same ugly note every time. 

“Only that he was going to send me to hell when he killed me. I would much rather be killed by you, Jimin.”

Jimin laughs in a manner like a doctor’s. It is a laugh of pity, knowing that he has complete control, and that Yoon is clueless. He made the wrong decision.

“Seokjin is dying. He is not strong enough to use the hell spell.”

“Is that what it is, then? The afterlife is a spell?”

“Hell is spell Seokjin is in capable of using.”

Dread in the deepest note possible. Regret.

“You can’t lie, can you?”

“I can’t lie.” Jimin could kill him now, but he wants to make Yoon feel even worse before he dies, make sure there is no spark left in his heart before it stops. “Seokjin wanted this to happen. If he can’t put you through hell, he knows I will make sure to. You were ignorant enough to play into his trap.”

Horror. Yoon failed.

“You should have kept your leverage to yourself.” Jimin towers over Yoon the same way he towered over Jimin on the operating table. If this is the same expression Jimin had, Jimin understands, now, why Yoon got such human joy from studying Jimin. “Anything else?” he asks, forcing Yoon’s head up by his hair, making him see Jimin’s face the way Jimin saw him.

Yoon is entranced by Jimin. In this moment, Yoon sounds of every human emotion possible, a symphony of feelings, some of which he deserves to feel, and others he does not. Jimin wonders if all humans sound this way before they die, or if it is unique to doctors with fake eyes and evil hearts.

“I told you all I know, my graceful little beetle. But, if you have any questions about your own body and mind, I would be happy to—” 

Yoon chokes on his words and Jimin drops his head and his dust surrounds his body, blocking all light and dampening his screams as Jimin tightens his fist to guide the dust. After a minute, his ugly grey heartbeat hits its last note. Jimin releases his grip to let Yoon’s body slide off the chair and thud against the floor next to the unconscious human. Blood leaks from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, and seeps from his neck where his skin split from the pressure. 

Seeing the man with fake eyes dead at his hand does not bring Jimin the joy he anticipated. It was boring and quick, and though he did scream, Jimin felt no satisfaction from the noise. 

Siyeon enters behind him, a solemn expression on her face and she opens her arms to Jimin. He steps forward and accepts her hug, even though it makes him feel nothing. She rubs her hands up and down his arms in a way humans would find comforting. Jimin finds no emotional release tied to the action. He feels almost pixie again. For the first time since entering Terra, Jimin does not feel anything a human would feel. He has the instinctual urge to inquire the nearest being for a contract. 

“Don’t feel bad for not knowing what he did,” she says, “you’re still years behind. The bluebells kept the rest of your answers safe.”

“I don’t feel bad,” Jimin says. 

“You’re not feeling anything, are you?”

“I feel like a pixie.”

Siyeon runs her hand through Jimin’s hair and shakes out the colors. “Unfortunately, what you’re feeling—or not feeling—is not pixie-related. It’s a human response to stress. A temporary shut off to your emotions.”

“For how long?” Jimin thinks he does not want to go back to feeling emotions like a human would, then he finds he does not have a preference. 

“I don’t know. I stopped being able to predict things about you and Jungkook the second he defied one of my fortunes and made that contract with you.” She hugs Jimin again as if it will do anything for him. Maybe she is doing it for herself. 

“Alright,” she lets go of Jimin, “I’m going to give Yoon hell now, because the longer I wait, the longer his soul wanders in peace.”

Jimin has seen warlocks use Siyeon’s spell. There is not much to look at. She murmurs her incantations, her aura that humans interpret as a purple glow seeps into his soul, and the body’s eyes implode to begin the process. 

Jimin tries to find something in Siyeon’s actions that indicate the temperature change Bora suggested. He doesn’t feel any warmer, the hell spell is in no way hot as she described.

 

 


 

 

There is not much Jungkook wouldn’t do for Jimin. He abandoned his entire life twice for him already, even though he still feels shitty about the way he left Woosung, and how unfair it was for him to drop him and everyone else so suddenly. Jungkook imagines all the ways in which Jimin has grown since his first night out of the operating room. He asks more questions. He can identify more emotions. He understands that there is so much more to learn about this realm that Seokjin never covered. Jungkook holds onto the imagine of Jimin immersed in a textbook, whispering the words to himself as he reads.

Picturing the bluebells as they sway in the wind and whisper a name only makes it harder to stay mentally present. What he left in the bluebells haunts him.

Next, Jungkook pictures a stack of dirty dishes, a powerpoint with too many words on it, a failing grade, a late bus. It takes his human problems to tie him down to reality instead of dissociating at the site of Seokjin’s grin as he points back and forth between Jungkook and Bora. He needs to focus, or Bora might get hurt.

“Any guesses?” Seokjin asks, pouting when neither of them makes a sound. “I seriously do not have much time,” he urges. 

Jungkook thinks of his last customer interaction. They left the store ten minutes after close and made Gahyeon fall from her exhaustion. Knowing Gahyeon will have double the paycheck she’s been receiving brings Jungkook some relief.

It isn’t enough to think about Gahyeon’s beautiful voice, or Yoongi’s fake uptight attitude in his own emotional defense, or Woosung’s smile every time before they kissed. Jungkook can feel his brain taking him to far away places, to mentally remove himself from the situation entirely.

“Fine,” Seokjin huffs. He drops his head pokes Jungkook in the center of his chest. “It’s this one.” 

Jungkook doesn’t understand what he did or what the question was. Even as Seokjin searches Jungkook’s eyes for his reaction, he gets nothing. Bora is silent behind them. 

“Did you hear me?” Seokjin asks, annoyed. “I said you killed a pixie.”

Pixies can’t be killed. A human like Jungkook is incapable of such a feat.

The moment catches up to Jungkook and he stops dissociating, staring back into the eyes of the man who caused all Jimin’s grief telling him that he killed a pixie. 

“He’s lying,” Bora says. “He’s desperate. He’ll be dead any second if he stays here.”

Seokjin places his free hand over his heart. “I would never lie in the presence of the King. Not even a star is capable of such heresy.” 

A knife clashes to the kitchen floor as Bora gasps. 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she says through her hand.

“But apparently, you would lie to me.”

Reacting on instinct, before he can stop his fragile human body, Jungkook grabs Seokjin’s hand on his chest and twists. Instead of a pained groan or a sickening cry for help, Seokjin laughs and rips his hand away. He shakes it a couple times before holding his wrist. 

Bora is right. He does look like he is dying. He is weak enough that he stumbles when Jungkook knocks him backwards, catching himself on the back of the couch. The black hole in his eye grows.

Jungkook, who killed a pixie, and Bora, the King. At first, nothing makes sense, and he wishes he had kept the memories he received in the bluebells. Deciding to let them hold onto what Jungkook had learned is what helped him recover and live a normal human life. Now, he is unequipped, unprepared, because like a coward he chose to forget again.

Seokjin, the man laughing in front of him, who rearranged the stars to keep Jungkook and Jimin apart, to kill Jimin on his own and collect Jimin’s white dust to heal his wounds from the warlock who betrayed her King. This is what Siyeon told him, what memories he had to keep because they happened today—this life.

“Impressive strength, human,” Seokjin says. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if I let you hit me all those years ago. No wonder you had what it took to kill a pixie. I would be terrified of that monster pumping in your chest too.” Seokjin points at Jungkook’s heart.

“I didn’t kill anyone!” He steps forward in an unforeseen burst of confidence. “Why are you even here? Why were you following me?”

“It doesn’t matter, Jungkook. Don’t give him the satisfaction of your reaction.”

Because it is Bora, and she is still a human, Jungkook listens. It can’t be that because when she tells him to, Jungkook’s voice catches in his throat like it would burn his tongue to defy her. Humans do not have such a power.

“Seeing you hurt and confused, as the pixies say, brightened my spirit enough to keep me going,” Seokjin says. “Are you going to try to hit me again? You better make it count.”

“Jungkook!” Bora warns. It isn’t Bora’s voice, laced with the same reverbs from before, much like Jimin’s when he towered over Jungkook with the threat of killing him. 

Bora isn’t human.

Jungkook can’t trust her.

Bora pretended to be a human, and Siyeon and Jimin let Jungkook believe it.

He turns, expecting to see a grotesque monster or a fairy behind him. It is just Bora. Around her, the glasses in the cupboards and the knives in their block quake at the sound of her voice as if she has agency over them as well.

Jungkook wants to return to the calm of a late night with Hoseok and Yoongi. Instead, he is caught between the man who stole the stars from the night sky and the King. The only King he knows banished Siyeon from her home for supposed treason during a time of war when trust between members of her court was more vital than ever.

Unable to focus on more than his own thoughts, Jungkook loses control of his body. His knees buckle and he falls to the floor. When he tries to gain control of his emotions and fight the urge to curl into a ball, his body betrays him, and his resolve crumbles into a pitiful fit of shock and terror. This must be how Jimin feels when he hears Jungkook’s heart beat like a drum.

Seokjin, the man who framed Siyeon for the death of the King’s lover whom the king did not love kneels in front of Jungkook and tilts his chin up with one finger, forcing eye-to-black hole contact. Jungkook is useless to stop him.

“Try not to kill any more pixies when I’m gone, alright?” he whispers.

“Leave Terra,” a voice that does not belong to Bora echoes through the room.

Jaw clenched, eyes swirling with nothing but a void that could suck the entire galaxy into them and the emptiness still would not be filled, Seokjin lets Jungkook’s head fall. “Y-Yes,” he grinds out. “Of course, your majesty.” He stands tall over Jungkook.

“Immediately,” the voice that does not belong to Bora commands.

“Her absolutism is terrifying, isn’t it?” Seokjin says, nudging Jungkook’s leg with his foot.

Absolutism is not a trait humans possess, whatever it is.

Bora, who masqueraded as a human, somehow has the authority to command Seokjin. Jungkook’s tears hit the floor before he realizes they have welled in his eyes.

The air above Jungkook cracks open and starts to pull the oxygen from the room. A black funnel forms, collecting golden dust while colors in a dimension Jungkook has never experienced gather around the edges of the nothing inside the black hole. It is not only empty blackness or a hollow void, but nothing at all.

“I have to admit, Siyeon’s bridge is prettier than mine. At least mine don’t take calendar months to build.” Seokjin laughs.

Jungkook is afraid to look directly at the bridge or Seokjin. He stares at the golden dust falling around him as it covers his hands and clothes and catches in the little light from the window is not sucked into Seokjin’s bridge.

“Don’t cry, human,” he says before his blue robes fall among a pile of pale gold dust, twinkling like stars in the soft light of the overcast. “When you need me, ask the bluebells where to find me. Do you know how to kill a star?”

Jungkook squeezes his eyes shut, shaking his head. He just wants it to be over. He wants to wake up next to his human boyfriend and tell his therapist about the insane dream he had where a pixie he once knew came back, and the warlock he knew in high school is dating a girl with the power of an absolute command. Then he will help his human boyfriend study for exams as the winter semester comes to an end, take human customer’s orders, and fall asleep again, dreaming about a field of bluebells telling him they will keep his memories safe.

“You can’t kill a star,” Seokjin answers himself. “Just like you can’t kill a pixie. But, if you love one enough to make it human, well, we all know how easily humans die. It is a good thing a star is incapable of love, isn’t it?”

What does that mean? Jungkook wants to ask. Why are you telling me this? To brighten his spirit, apparently. Stalking Jungkook kept Seokjin edging the line between death by Siyeon’s magic and the immortality he sought through Jimin’s dust. He feels as though his voice was sucked into the nothing along with Seokjin.

“Try not to kill any more pixies while I’m gone, okay?”

Light rushes back into the room, shining bright behind Jungkook’s eyelids. When he opens them, he will find his alarm clock next to his charging phone, or the face of a human he knows and loves.

It is not a human’s voice he hears. Bora is decidedly not human.

“Jungkook!” Bora yells. Suddenly she is at his side, pulling him into a hug he can’t resist, petrified in the revelation that nothing is as it seems. “Are you okay?” she asks, running her hand through his hair, holding his head against her chest as she rocks them back and forth. “He was lying,” she whispers. “You didn’t kill a pixie. It wasn’t your fault. Remember the bluebells.”

Seokjin was not the only one lying to him, but right now, he believes him more than he does Bora. He thought he remembered everything in the bluebells. He thought their contract had ended, and that he would never see Jimin again. He thought his contract with Siyeon had been fulfilled the moment she sent him home as she promised yesterday, and that the literally Earth-shattering lies were no longer one of his worries.

“Let go,” Jungkook says softly. 

Bora drops her arms and leans back on her heels, staring at Jungkook with a look of pity which mimics that of a human.

“I’m sorry,” she says. She cries normal tears the way a human would, and they don’t turn to diamonds on the wood floor. “I wasn’t sure until after you left and I—you had just come back and there wasn’t time to fill you in—” she hiccups, “to fill you in on what Siyeon hadn’t finished explaining before you left. I was going to tell you once we took Jimin to the bluebells.”

Jungkook has made a bad habit of leaving suddenly in recent years. Disappearing impulsively without warning and with no plan has become his brand. It is not Bora’s fault he left before hearing the rest of the story.

“I’m still a human,” Bora continues. “I’m still—”

“You’re not human,” Jungkook says. 

He wants to hug Bora and tell her that it’s okay that she isn’t human and that it’s okay that she lied to him. The only one who hasn’t lied to Jungkook is Jimin, and only because he is physically incapable of it. 

He remembers why he left in the first place. He doesn’t belong with magic because he can’t keep up. Siyeon was right to leave him out of her life this time, even if he ended up finding his way back anyways through the supernatural force of a single contract. If Jimin and Siyeon weren’t out with his car already, Jungkook would on his way back home, forgetting once again about the magic and the people around him who always seem to know more than he knows, even when he thinks he has finally caught up. 

Jungkook shudders, gripping his knees, trying to ground himself and keep from hyperventilating.

“Seokjin is gone,” Bora says. “I sent him to the stars. He won’t be back—"

“Humans can’t send someone to the stars.”  

“I’m sorry,” she whispers. “I really am human. I’m not really the King. I’m just someone compatible with her that she could reside in. I mean, we’re the same person, but, I’m—I don’t have any memories from before and—and I wish I could explain it but as a human it’s hard to understand myself—”

“It’s fine.” Jungkook is just as capable of lying as any other being. He opens his eyes to Bora brushing the stray dust into one pile, running her hands through it as it ripples like water. She catches Jungkook staring. 

“It’s soft,” she says, “Like bubbles.”

“Should you really be touching that?”

A cloud of dust hits Jungkook in the face, and behind it, Bora laughs and blows another pile at him. 

“Gross!” he says, swatting the air. “Aren’t these basically his ashes?”

“It’s stardust.” She blows another pile into Jungkook’s face, but not before he tosses a handful into hers, each laughing through their tears. “He’s still alive. When Siyeon said he would die soon she didn’t mean in the human sort of soon—your soon and her soon aren’t the same.”

“And which soon is yours?”

“I’m a human, Jungkook.” Bora tosses another pile of dust in his face. He holds his breath as not to inhale any.  

“Is this going to kill me? Siyeon said this shit is dangerous. Like, the second most powerful thing in the universe besides white pixie dust.” He hits Bora in the chest with the glittering ash. 

“It can’t hurt you unless the right person is wielding it. And tastes phenomenal in soup. I wish I had some when I made my nachos.”

Stardust makes good soup seasoning. It sounds like another lie, while simultaneously the most honest thing Bora has ever said.  

“I wouldn’t have touched the nachos if you put Seokjin’s body in them.”

“Well, good thing I didn’t tell you about the hippocamp scales I put in th—” She coughs through a cloud of dust that hits her nose, right on target, and glares at Jungkook. “You better run, human,” she says in her deep, inhuman voice. This time it makes Jungkook laugh instead of loose his balance.

Grabbing one more pile of stardust, Jungkook pushes off the ground and bolts to the other side of the room to avoid a handful thrown in his direction, meeting it in the middle with his own. 

Stardust fills in the air from corner to corner and covers every surface around them as they fling handfuls like powdery snowballs at each other. The original pile is on Bora’s side of the room, forcing Jungkook to swipe what he can off the floor and pack it into his hand.

When Jungkook accidentally catches some in his mouth, he panics and spits it out. It tastes like a star, a taste he can’t describe. It’s something not sweet, a little spicy, definitely magical. 

Intrigued, he licks more of the dust off his lips. 

“Right?” Bora says, tasting the dust from what is stuck on her hand. “It’s good, isn’t it?”

Suddenly Jungkook remembers where the dust came from and spits it out, wiping his tongue with the bottom of his shirt, which only covers his tongue and around his mouth in more stardust.

The fight continues until the pile where Seokjin once stood has been spewed all over the living room, dining room, kitchen, and every surface in the downstairs. Bora bends to scoop up the last of it while Jungkook ducks behind the couch, knowing he’s lost. 

Bora’s footsteps echo, kicking up plumes of dust in her wake as she closes in on Jungkook.

“Any last words?” she asks, her voice as human as it has always been. Somehow, the human voice Jungkook is used to is scarier. It carries more weight. When he hears it, he knows she is going to cause trouble.

He looks up just in time to see her sprinkle the rest of the dust into his face when the front door swings open followed by two worried voices. 

“Where’s Seokjin?” they yell at the same time. 

Bora freezes with her hand above Jungkook’s face as the rest of the dust falls from her fingers. Jungkook and Bora look at each other in shock that turns to amusement when they realize the state of the living room. 

Jimin drops to Jungkook’s side, brushing away the excess Seokjin from his face while Siyeon searches the room for the intruder before realizing where Seokjin is. To answer their question, he is everywhere, even in Jungkook’s mouth. 

“Bora…” Siyeon says, a warning.  

Bora gulps. “Yeah, babe?”

“Why did I feel Seokjin's presence? Did you kill a star in our living room and then scatter all over the house?”

“He’s not dead. I absolted—absoluteded him.” Bora struggles, repeating the word softly to herself, trying to get it right.

Jungkook wants to correct her, but he finds he cannot remember the word either. The world is golden as the room spins. Jungkook’s reaction time is slow, his memory hazy like he smoked a bowl and forgot about it.

“Why was Seokjin here? How did you get rid of him?” Jimin is more worried than Jungkook has ever seen him. “Jungkook? What happened?” He holds Jungkook’s face so tight in his hands that Jungkook’s cheeks squish inward and he can’t talk. His eyes might be glowing, or it might be Jungkook’s mind clouded in dust that makes Jimin look like a supernatural being.

It takes Jungkook a second to remember that he is, in fact, not of this Earth. Jimin is a supernatural being—something from folklore. Instead of bothering him like he expects, he laughs. He can’t help it. There was definitely something in the dust that Bora didn’t tell him about.

Jungkook holds Jimin’s wrists and lowers his hands to his lap. He looks to Bora for an answer because he wasn’t exactly mentally present for everything that went down, and he barely is now.

Siyeon crosses the room with her hands on her hips, tapping her fingers impatiently and glaring at Bora with urgency. 

“So uh, Seokjin showed up when you guys left,” Bora backs away from Jungkook and wipes the dust off her hands with her shirt, “and then, uh…”

Siyeon closes in on Bora. “And then you had a dustball fight inside the house,” she finishes for her. 

“I don’t remember,” Bora says. “I swallowed a lot of dust.”

Siyeon’s glare intensifies as she fights harder to hold back her laughter.

“How did it go with Yoon?” Jungkook blurts before Siyeon gets scary, even for the sake of a bit.

“He’s dead,” Jimin says. “What did Seokjin do to you?” 

Seokjin is the last thing Jungkook wants to talk about right now. He wants to know how Jimin’s first human murder went, or what it looked like when he was sent to hell, or how many cow pastures they drove by on the way there and back, anything but the substance covering his clothes and hair. 

As the rest of the dust clears and the sun parts through the clouds, highlighting every surface in a shimmer and shining a light on the game they played with one of the most powerful substances in the universe, unsupervised, Bora and Jungkook burst out in uncontrollable laughter that comes from nowhere.

“Oh, no,” Siyeon says, cradling Bora’s head through her giggling, “How much of this stuff did you inhale? Are you high, darling?”

“That can happen?” Jungkook panics.

“I told you,” Bora says, “You can use this stuff to make edibles.”

“You did not say anything about edibles. You said soup!” Jungkook laughs, tempted to ingest some more to increase the feeling.

In front of him, Jimin’s eyes glow the same gold as the stardust. His wings reflect beautifully, like an angel, and his lips shine in the sunlight. Jungkook can’t help but pull Jimin onto his lap by the front of his sweater. There is a hole in the fabric over his chest. It might be the stardust, but Jungkook thinks the hole is seared along the outer edges. The skin underneath is unharmed, not even a little bit red.

Jungkook hooks his finger through the hole and uses it to pull Jimin onto his lap. “What happened here?” he asks, swirling around the blackened ring.

Jimin looks at his chest. Jungkook stops moving. He didn’t realize how intrusive he was being.

“A human fired a projectile into me. It was quicker than an arrow. I don’t know what it was.”

“Don’t freak out,” Siyeon says, causing Jungkook to freak out, “but your boyfriend is bulletproof.”

Wicked,” Bora breathes.

A bulletproof boyfriend sounds nice. It takes a minute for Jungkook to register the implication. If he were fully functioning, he would panic and check for damage, for another scar, for reassurance that Jimin is okay and totally cool with the fact that he, apparently, has been shot.

“Aw, in your favorite sweater?” is what his brain comes up with.

“I can sew it up.”

Jungkook presses his palm over it, as if covering the hole will make it magically disappear. At this point, he would believe anything, even a magically disappearing hole in the front of Jimin’s sweater seems possible. He is covered in stardust, and there is a pixie on his lap, so why the hell stop believing in the unreal now?

“Can I kiss it better?” Remembering the last time he kissed Jimin’s chest, he feels like he should clarify, “The hole, I mean.”

“Oh, he’s high high.” Bora snickers into Siyeon’s shoulder. “Reminds me of my first time.”

Jungkook ignores her. He can’t focus on her when there is a human-sized pixie leaning in to kiss him. Jimin licks over Jungkook’s lips, and for a moment Jungkook thinks he knows where Jimin wants to take this, until he realizes that when he pulls away, the leftover dust on his lips is gone, and on Jimin’s tongue.

“It tastes better in soup,” Jimin says. “At least, that’s what I’ve heard witches say."

Jungkook looks him over from his wings to his lap where he sits on top of Jungkook. Jungkook can’t remember when Jimin got so close.

“I’m going to keep your tiny body in my pocket,” he says, patting the pocket in the jeans and Jimin’s cheek with the other.

“Boo, get a room,” Bora drawls, laughing as she loses her balance and Siyeon has to catch her before she falls. 

“I don’t tell you when and where you get to kiss your girlfriend, your majesty,” Jungkook teases. It’s funnier to him and Bora than it is to Siyeon and Jimin, who share the same worried look, as if Jungkook wasn't supposed to know yet. 

“I told you,” Bora drawls, “I’m not the King. I’m a menaf—a manisfiss—a min—”

“Take your time,” Siyeon says. 

“A manifestation of her.”

Unsure of what a manifestation of a King entails, and unconcerned, Jungkook decides it’s not worth trying to understand everything right away. Instead, he focuses on Jimin in front of him, Jimin helping him stand up and holding him steady so he doesn’t fall from the sudden dizziness, Jimin brushing dust from his front and back until he is free of excess Seokjin. 

“So messy,” Jimin scolds, shaking his head. “Is this going to happen every time we leave you two alone?”

“Did you just say the thing I said but about me?” Jungkook isn’t sure half of the words he meant to say came out correctly, too giggly to care. “You’re cute.”

Finally, like he has wanted to do since the first time he saw Jimin asleep in Yoongi’s van, Jungkook builds up the courage to pinch Jimin’s cute, soft, dust-ridden cheeks. It was definitely worth the wait. Jimin doesn’t know how to react, only stares at Jungkook with an eyebrow raised until Jungkook has had his fill of Jimin’s adorable squishy cheeks.

“How long will it last?” Jimin asks Siyeon.

“For a human? No idea. Give him a couple hours, he may come down.”

Jungkook, the only human in the room to which she could be referring, does not want this to end in a couple hours.

“Have fun with that one,” Siyeon says, wrapping her arm around Bora’s waist to coax her up the stairs as she giggles uncontrollably, throwing her head back against Siyeon’s shoulder.

“They are soooo cute together,” Bora coos, her voice growing distant as it echoes down the stairwell.

“You’re cute.”

“No, you.”

The door to their bedroom closes. Jungkook is buzzed and alone with his adorable bulletproof pixie boyfriend. He starts to think about what they could do now that Siyeon and Bora are upstairs and Jimin is back from his first murder, but his thoughts don't wander very far before Jimin brings him back to reality. 

"Once the dust wears off you're going to tell me everything what happened while I was gone," Jimin says.

Jungkook likes when Jimin is assertive, even more so in this state. 

"Aw, you're worried about me?"

"Of course I am." 

Jimin is breathtaking. Jungkook is the luckiest human in the realm to have Jimin all to himself. 

“Did you have fun?” Jungkook asks as Jimin guides him to the couch. Jungkook falls backwards and bounces on the cushions, follows by Jimin landing back on his lap.

“I think I did enjoy killing him,” Jimin says.

“That’s hot,” Jungkook says accidentally. That was supposed to stay in his head.

“You and Bora keep saying that. I don’t know what that means.”

Jimin holds the back of Jungkook’s neck and plays with the ends of his hair. It has grown a few inches since he last saw him, as Jungkook only allowed Gahyeon to cut it once, and only because she wanted to practice before trying it on her friend. He wonders if Jimin likes it, if he has a preference. It doesn’t matter, he is going to grow it out anyways.

They sit in silence, neither of them saying anything, the only sound in the room from the filter in Simi’s tank and his own heart pounding in his ears as he comes into and out of the room, lost in a haze. Jimin continues playing with his hair, brushing it out of his face, pulling it back and forth, until he takes all of Jungkook’s hair between his fingers and pulls it behind him as if he were about to tie it in a bun.

Jimin gasps.

“What?” Jungkook asks, reaching for Jimin’s waist to pull him closer so he can protect him. The thought is ridiculous considering the everything about him, but Jungkook is too blissed out on stardust to think logically, even if there is no danger in the room.

“It's fine. Don't worry about it.” Jimin’s hands drop to Jungkook’s shoulders.

If he squints, Jungkook can see a cloud of magenta fall into the piles of gold on the couch. Oh, Jimin definitely likes Jungkook’s long hair. 

Chapter Text

When Jungkook wakes up there is pixie dust on his pillow, covering his entire face and the sheets around him. Jimin dust the first things he sees. He smiles brighter than the morning sun reflecting on the leaves outside his window, and his hair is powdered in the same peachy dust covering Jungkook’s eyelids.

Waking up to Jimin staring at him like an impatient golden retriever every morning instead of to a phone call or a nightmare about what he saw in the bluebells, Jungkook realizes his feelings for Jimin never went away, he just learned how to bury them. Now, even as a different person with two more years of therapy and life experience to help him understand emotions he as a human couldn’t understand, and Jimin, as a pixie, couldn’t comprehend, he has accepted that this is the life he wants to live forever.

 

“Morning,” Jungkook mumbles.

 

“You forgot,” Jimin says. His hands are planted on either side of Jungkook’s head as he hovers over him.

 

Jungkook blinks away sleep and dust. He didn’t forget. He slept in on purpose. 

 

“Forgot what?” he asks. 

 

“You said we were going to do a picnic when the clock says thirty-after-ten. You’re five minutes late.”

 

Jungkook holds back a smile, pretending he’s too tired to understand. “Wasn’t that tomorrow?”

 

Jimin straightens his back. “Siyeon said you wouldn’t forget.”

 

“Did she?” Jungkook closes his eyes again and rolls over to hide his face and smiles into the pillow.

 

“You broke the contract.”

 

Jungkook wants to argue that is was not a real contract, that they would both be dead and Siyeon would have to fish their souls back from the afterlife had he broken a real pixie contract. Instead, he lets out a deep breath into the pillow that sends pixie dust flying. This is exactly what he wanted.

 

“What was it I had to do if I made you wait, again?”

 

“Bora says you already know and that’s why you’re still in bed.”

 

Jungkook scoffs, sending more pixie dust into the air. “Do you guys talk about anything besides me?” 

 

Jimin doesn’t respond. Jungkook opens his eyes to another burst of peachy dust. 

 

“You don’t have to break a contract every time you want to do a kiss,” Jimin says.

 

“It wasn’t a real contract.”

 

“But it was on purpose?” Jimin sounds more excited than disappointed that Jungkook slept in just to kiss him. 

 

“Yeah, you caught me.” Jungkook slides his hands up Jimin’s legs from his knees to his thighs, back and forth. “I did it on purpose. What are you going to do about it?”

 

Jimin’s eyes flare gold before quickly fading back to brown. He climbs on top of Jungkook and runs through Jungkook’s hair while Jungkook grips his hips. Jimin’s lips are parted when they meet Jungkook’s and he sees nothing but magenta right before closing his eyes. As much as Jungkook wants to make out again, show him more of the joys of being human, he cuts it off at one kiss.

 

“Can you do that thing again?” Jimin asks, pushing himself up using Jungkook’s chest.

 

“Which thing?” Jungkook knows. The magenta is hard to miss.  

 

“The sex touching.” In case Jungkook forgot, Jimin reminds him by lightly rolling his hips into Jungkook’s lap. He is almost too cute to resist when he pouts. The image of Jimin riding him, wings fluttering and dust pluming with every thrust, makes it harder for Jungkook to stay on task.

 

“Later,” it takes all his willpower to say, sitting up with Jimin on his lap. “We can do whatever you want whenever you want after our picnic.” 

 

Disappointed, Jimin rolls off Jungkook, sure he was sure he was going to get some, and disappears in a cloud of orange dust, which Jungkook has learned not only indicates joy, but also it is the default color he uses for accomplishing simple tasks. When the dust clears Jimin is pixie-sized and has his arms folded. Stubbornness doesn’t look good on anyone but Jimin. 

 

The shift still it amazes Jungkook every time. As a pixie, his body is wrapped in a skinsuit of glittery rose gold dust that parts at his hips, stopping at his upper thigh, and tapering up his torso like a sheer halter neckline. It would be impossible for Jungkook not to take a picture when the dust clears as he turns to face him. 

 

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Jimin asks through Jungkook’s phone screen. 

 

Jungkook snaps ten pictures in a row. “I don’t get to see you like this enough. You’re really pretty.”

 

Jimin blushes the way pixies blush—a nearly invisible cloud of pink mixed with mint green. 

 

“Lets go,” Jimin says quickly, darting out the door and leaving Jungkook in a mess of pastels.

 

He manages to brush most of the dust from his body and hair and checks the weather on his phone before deciding on the ripped denim shorts Siyeon loaned him until he can thrift some clothes to replace what he left to Gahyeon. Short shorts are more practical than the sweatpants—easier to hide a boner and weather convenient. He has no idea why men are so afraid of them. 

 

Jungkook is relieved he prepared their sandwiches and salads and other classic picnic foods he can’t wait to show Jimin last night. All they have to do is make it out of the house and into his car before Bora catches them and asks questions. He doesn’t think they were too loud last night, they only made out and grinded, just a little. They couldn’t have been nearly as loud as they were their first night back. It has been barely a week that they have lived here again, and if anyone heard them, they would have teased Jungkook by now. A human with normal human hearing probably can’t hear them with the door closed. As for a warlock, Jungkook is afraid to find out. 

 

Jimin is on Bora’s shoulder at the kitchen bar watching her do homework on her laptop, braiding small sections of her hair in a complex pattern Jungkook has never seen a human create. 

 

“Nice shorts, Kook,” Bora says through a mouthful of chocolate chip cookie. Crumbs spill all over her keyboard and she brushes them away without a care, not looking up from the screen.

 

“Thanks,” he says. “Jimin, you can pick out a few drinks from the cooler. I’ll meet you in the car.”

 

“What’s the cooler?” he asks as he sections off the end of the braid.

 

“That big metal box outside,” Jungkook points to the patio door. “Just pick whichever ones look fun.”

 

“How many?”

 

“As many as you think you can drink.”

 

Jimin’s wings flutter and he darts outside, leaving in his path a trail of orange glitter. Jungkook will never get tired of seeing him take off. Jimin never takes a step the human way if he doesn’t need to. Jungkook is tempted to ask Siyeon where he can get a pair of wings, or at least a potion that gives him temporary flight. He would have already had he warmed up to the idea of having a conversation with Siyeon.  

 

“Those shorts look really good on you,” Bora says as Jungkook packs their sandwiches into a tote. She’s smirking. That’s never a good sign. 

 

“Thank you?” he says slowly, suspicious.

 

“Did they come with the magenta glitter, or is that new?”

 

Jungkook’s head barely misses the edge of the fridge as he shoots up, wiping the sides of the shorts. There is no dust on his hands. There is no pink glitter on the shorts.  

 

“Sike!” Bora throws her head back cackling. “You looked terrified for a second. You good?” she asks. “Should I be worried?”

 

“Why would you need to worry?” There should be nothing suspicious about a little bit of pink dust. Jimin leaves dust everywhere. Jungkook finishes packing and grabs two cookies from her plate on his way to the door. 

 

“Well, I’m sure you know by now that dark pink pixie dust is poisonous to humans if you inhale too much.”

 

It is?” Jungkook panics, freezing with his shoes only halfway on. He has been exposed to every color of dust Jimin has, none of which have side effects aside from making him sneeze and clogging his vision. It stings when it gets in his eyes and lungs, but, poison? Siyeon would have warned him. 

 

“Sike!” 

 

Jungkook gently frisbees a cookie at her head, which she barely dodges.

She looks at him with wide eyes, jaw dropped. “You tried to kill me!” She gasps, pressing her hand to her chest in feigned disbelief, swerving her head between Jungkook and the crumbled cookie on the kitchen floor. “I was making a harmless joke, and you tried to murder me.”

 

Jungkook laughs, too caught up in her reaction to register another cookie flying right toward his head. He spins behind the door and the cookie thuds against it, spraying crumbs all over the foyer. Jungkook peeks out behind the door. Bora holds another cookie in the air threateningly. 

 

“I’ve got ten,” she warns. “You only have one left. Pick your next move carefully.”

 

She’s right. Jungkook is outgunned. 

 

“We’ll be back in a few hours,” Jungkook says, flinging his last cookie back into the house. It misses her completely and crumbles against the cabinets. He flinches at another thud next to his head, followed by Bora cackling as he closes the door and jogs to meet Jimin at the car, cookieless. 

 

 


 

 

Jimin hears the well before he sees the bluebells. It’s feint, nearly dried, still here as Siyeon said it would be. Jungkook follows close behind as they enter the clearing behind a row of evergreen trees so thick and tall no human would be able to navigate through them. Only those able to hear the well on the other side would find their way out. He feels a sense of familiarity as they walk through the waist high sea of bluebells towards the sound of the well. All sides of the meadow are lined with the same dense forest, and on the southern side of the clearing, Jimin notices a pond that he’s seen before. 

 

He stops halfway through the clearing where the well is the loudest.  

 

“Is this a good spot?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Jimin forgot why they were here, so he doesn’t answer. 

 

Jungkook sets down his bag and pulls out a rolled up woven blanket, dark blue yarn laced with gold thread resembling the floors of Siyeon’s tower outside this realm, and spreads it over a patch of grass. He presses down on all the edges so they have a place to sit. Seeing Jungkook here like this is strange and out of place, too calm and safe. Then he remembers that they are here because they are on a picnic to eat, like humans do, and not to do whatever it was they came here for last time.

 

Jungkook settles in the middle of the blanket and picks at the grass poking through the woven threads. “Do you...see anything?” he asks. 

 

All Jimin sees is the meadow, and Siyeon isn’t here this time. He can’t remember the first time he saw Bora. The bluebells have hidden those memories from him.

 

“There’s a pond,” is all Jimin says.  

 

“Come sit down.”

 

Jimin turns to Jungkook, surrounded by human foods and drinks. He doesn’t remember Jungkook having ramune with him last time, so he hesitates, scouting the field for Siyeon. When he doesn’t find her, he joins Jungkook on the blanket that matches the color of the bluebells. 

 

“I’m not really sure how it’s supposed to work,” Jungkook says. “It took me a few minutes before I, uh, felt it. I’ll be right here the whole time, I promise.”

 

Jimin picks up a human food known as a sandwich, a roll of bread like he’s seen served in taverns. Humans fill the bread with leaves and fruits to suite their tastes. Sometimes they add crushed seeds or pieces of cooked animal flesh. This one doesn’t have animal flesh, only plants. 

 

“What am I supposed to be feeling?” Jimin asks, picking at the paper around his sandwich. He isn’t hungry, despite how he wants to taste it. He’s missing something, hollow in the inside.

 

Jungkook slides closer to Jimin until their legs touch, side by side. “It might help to lay down,” he says, taking the sandwich from Jimin and setting it to the side next to the other foods. “This is what Siyeon had me and Bora do.”

 

“When were you here with her?”

 

“Most recently, about two years ago. It was the night after you…” Sorrow. “It would have breached our contract if she told me. She needed me to see it before she explained, or it wouldn’t count as remembering. And you were gone, so, she never got a chance to show you.”

 

“I think I remembered anyways.” All he remembers is a butterfly, and after that, a row of hawthorn trees between Jungkook and himself. “What am I going to see?”

 

“I can’t tell you that yet. Siyeon gave me clear instructions that I shouldn’t give you spoilers.”

 

Irritation. It is directed at Siyeon. Jimin will not say anything, because it would only make Jungkook sadder, but seeing him too upset with Siyeon to live harmoniously in the same house makes Jimin’s dust blue. He hears nothing from Siyeon most of the time. When Jungkook rejects her attempts at conversation, no matter the importance, she feels what Jimin feels now.

 

Jungkook pats the blanket behind Jimin and falls on his back. “Try laying down.”

 

The bluebells tower above them when he lays next to Jungkook, blocking the forest line completely, cradling them in their safety. Humans shouldn’t be here. This is not part of Terra. Bluebells are not natural to Terra. As an invasive species, however, they do reside here. When Siyeon brought the first seed over the bridge, long before humans had the language to describe them, they were no longer sacred only to the pixies. Even then she must have seen their involvement to come in her life, knowing she would one day need a place to safekeep a being’s memories even before she was exiled.

 

Jimin watches the bluebells sway in front of the clouds and waits for them to speak. They shade his eyes from the sun and then swing back with the direction of the wind, over and over, while nothing happens. He looks to the sky for what Jungkook wants him to see. Nothing, not even a bird passes over them. The only other beings in the meadow are butterflies, the kind that are incapable or reluctant to sing to them.

 

“Anything?” Jungkook asks. 

 

Jimin rolls onto his side to face Jungkook. “No. What am I supposed to be feeling?”

 

Jungkook rests his hand on Jimin’s waist. Though comforting, it is not the answer Jimin was looking for. 

 

“Try closing your eyes,” Jungkook says. “I’ll be right here.”

 

Jimin is safe, protected by the bluebells. He is safe with Jungkook. He closes his eyes, feeling nothing. 

 

“What is that?”

 

Jimin bolts up at the sound of a voice on the other end of the field. When he opens his eyes, Jungkook is no longer laying on the blanket next to him. He can hear his heart, but it is much farther than before. It comes from the edge of the tree line. The sky has darkened. It is no longer noon, barely twilight. 

 

Siyeon is with Jungkook at the edge and Bora follows behind while swerving her head and holding the bag Jungkook brought with him on their picnic. When Jimin looks around the blanket, the bag, as well at the food they brought, is gone. The only thing reminiscent of their picnic is the blue woven blanket. The interlocking stitches glow between the fibers. 

 

“Jungkook?” Jimin yells, but no sound comes out. 

 

Jungkook said he would be right here with Jimin. Humans cannot move that fast. Jimin does not remember falling asleep. 

 

Panic. 

 

Jimin crawls to the edge of the blanket and peeks over the grass. He is afraid to leave the circle in or he might fall into the earth. He doesn’t think even his wings could catch him if he fell from here, so he stays in place, watching Jungkook, Bora, and Siyeon make their way into the meadow. 

 

“That’s pixie dust, right?” Jungkook asks. 

 

“Possibly,” Siyeon says. 

 

“Really?” Bora runs to Jungkook’s side. Siyeon slows and falls behind, holding a book in front of her and changing its angle to line it up with something in the trees.  

 

Bora and Jungkook bolt across the meadow to the pond where a cloud of white dust like smoke falls into the wildflowers. Siyeon takes her time, takes each step intentionally, until she meets them.

 

“Pixies have wings, right?” Jungkook says, bending over the cloud. 

 

“They’re also supposed to be tiny. Siyeon? Are you sure it was a pixie you saw in there?”

 

Siyeon closes the book and kneels next to patch of grass stained pure white. She says something too quiet for Jimin to hear, but he remembers what she said anyways:

 

“This one is dying.”

 

“What? No! Can you do something?” Bora falls to the ground next to her, followed by Jungkook. 

 

“How did a pixie even get here? I thought you said the bridge was closed?”

 

“From this side, yes. Pixies have no business on Terra, even at a well. I think this one was already here when I saw his dust in the pages.”

 

Jungkook leans over where the cloud settled and whispers something Jimin can’t hear. Again, he remembers what Jungkook said anyways:

 

“Are we allowed to help this time? I know we couldn’t save that selkie, but…”

 

Jimin remembers Bora’s response. 

 

“We just have to lift the pixie’s spirit, right? How do we do that? Siyeon?”

 

Siyeon flips through her book. It does not seem to be helping. 

 

Jimin still can’t hear anything from their hearts or see the pixie on the ground. He can feel the grass burning around him from the white dust like he is there with them, but he’s too far to smell the smoke. 

 

“Shit,” Siyeon hisses. “I don’t remember how to find a name. This fucking book—” she shakes the pages hoping something will fall out of them if she tries harder, “—didn’t say anything about wingless pixies. If I knew there was a pixie here sooner, I could have saved them before they started dying.” She drops the book on her lap, clutching her skirt, trying not to cry. She cries anyways. “Even a pixie with white dust can’t survive here.”

 

“Let’s ask for a name,” Jungkook says. 

 

“If you think you can get a pixie to tell you their name, go for it,” Siyeon sighs. “Otherwise, this one will die like whoever threw him here intended.”

 

“Are those scars normal, for a pixie?” 

 

Jimin can feel where Jungkook first touched him—over his heart. His warm and human hand sends a jolt through Jimin’s chest where two diagonal scars once intersected. Jimin never cared about the scarring. His human body was never going to last, anyway. 

 

“Was it Hye?” Bora asks. 

 

“No one has agency over a pixie with white dust, not even their sun. They choose not to take advantage of their power because they can’t care enough. But this one…”

 

From here, Jimin can feel where Siyeon’s fingers wrap around his wrist and lift his arm to check for the tattoo of a contract bond. Her hands, warm like a human’s though not as comforting as Jungkook’s, slide behind his torso and stop at the emptiness where his wings should be. When she pulls her hands out from under him, they are covered in black dust that fades as it falls from her fingertips.

 

Jimin buzzes his wings to make sure he still has them. They are right where they need to be.

 

“I don’t even think he’s a pixie anymore,” Siyeon says.

 

Anguish.

 

It was not Hye who sent Jimin to Terra. It was a flash of indigo dark enough to blot out Hye’s light that allowed a star to steal him through the bridge in the same way he reclaimed the pixie to bring him back to the man with fake eyes. 

 

“You all heard that, right?” Jungkook looks around the bluebells, searching for a sound invisible to the rest. Not even Jimin can hear it from here.

 

“No. What did you hear?” Bora asks. 

 

“I think the pixie’s name is Jimin.” 

 

The first time Jungkook spoke his name, Jimin awoke. The bluebells kept Jimin’s name hidden from all other beings. Not even Siyeon heard their whispers. Not even she knew what the wildflowers kept in their bells.

 

Suddenly, the sky darkens. Countless stars shine above the bluebells in a way unfamiliar to Terra, because here in the meadow, there are no human produced gases and no atmosphere to block out their shine. Here there is a tear between realms, the perfect place to build a bridge.

 

When Jimin looks back to the ground, Siyeon, Bora, and Jungkook are no longer kneeling over Jimin’s body. Jimin is standing next to them in the middle of the field, closer to where he still grips the blanket holding him in place. When he leans forward the bluebells in front of him weave together to form an impenetrable barrier.

 

“Jungkook!” he yells. Jungkook cannot hear him.

 

He sees himself speak from the bridge, radiating in a color he had not observed on Terra through his human eyes. Beyond the bridge a long, crooked path of pure magic and pixie dust shows the way to the well on the other side. The bridge is unsafe for most to travel without wings. It is inefficient, requiring more time and more dust than a bridge built from a realm where magic is abundant.

 

At the time Siyeon built this bridge there was magic in Terra’s atmosphere. Still, it failed to compare to the boundless amount of magic within the air in his realm. Hyeastra has the densest air of magic of all the homes in his realm due to the number of pixies who reside there, leaving dust scattered all over and painting the trees and the grass in every shade and hue unimaginable.

 

Jimin knew it would be a trek to return to Hyeastra through a bridge built with scavenged magic and the pitiful amount of dust Jimin could provide from Terra while the tears on his back leaked dust almost as quickly as he regained it.

 

“You need to be sure,” Siyeon says, taking Jimin’s hands where the four of them stand in front of the bridge. “I can hold it no more than an hour, maybe less.”

 

“I’m sure,” Jimin says, too quiet to hear, but Jimin remembers anyways. “I’m sure. I won’t feel anything on the other side.”

 

“If you won’t feel, doesn’t that mean you won’t regret it either?” Jungkook asks. He is trying to convince Jimin to go, even though his heart screams in contradiction. “Are—” his sobs break the sentence. He coughs into his hand to recover. As it did then, it makes Jimin cry again now. At the time, his tears did not turn to diamonds, and he was already too human to care that he was slowly losing all that which made him a pixie.

 

Utter sorrow. Grief. Longing. Love.

 

“If you stay by my side,” Jimin begins softly. He takes a deep breath. “If you can promise me that, then I’m sure. A life here with you is worth more than my immortality in Hyeastra. I’d just to fly from contract to contract until I became dust.”

 

The look on Jungkook’s tear-soaked face is still seared into the walls of Jimin’s mind. His heart grew so loud it overwhelmed Jimin. It was no longer just a harp, an intrumentless melody played by an infinite orchestra of emotions Jimin had already learned. More than any other emotion, what Jimin heard was love. He hears it again from the blanket, even across the field, just as loud at if he were still standing in front of him.

 

Jimin’s dust is pink when it explodes from his body and he throws himself into Jungkook’s open arms.

 

“Stop crying,” Jimin says from the blanket at the same time Jungkook speaks from the bridge, remembering his next words exactly. “You’re going to make me cry,” he whispers to himself in unison with Jungkook.

 

“You’re already crying,” Jimin responds in kind like he did into Jungkook’s shoulder.

 

Bora tackles Jimin into Jungkook, squeezing Jimin so hard he remembers the breath being knocked from his lungs. He laughed and welcomed the feeling.

 

The scene ends and the bluebells around the blanket sink into the ground, slowly consumed by rising water that grows angrier the higher it rises with waves so chaotic the entire realm looks like it is nearing its end. Jimin hooks his fingers into the woven gold and blue for security as he floats above the waves. The blanket does not move with their rhythm. 

 

“Jungkook!” he yells as the waves override the human, leaving the scene in bluebells to sink to the bottom of the ocean. He knows Jungkook can’t hear him. Still, he has to try. “Jungkook!” His plea goes unacknowledged. 

 

Not again. 

 

“Jungkook,” Jimin says. It does not come from him, rather, from the Jimin standing where Jungkook, Siyeon, and Bora stand at the end of where the field used to be. Instead of a pond there is a boating dock that creaks as it rocks chaotically back and forth above the waves.

 

Jimin recognizes the scene, as he has been here twice before with Jungkook. The second, when he kissed Jungkook in the rain after being chased from Siyeon’s home. He nearly remembered that time. The first, yesterday.

 

The wind and rain ripping through the air swallow the words Jimin does not need to hear, as he remembers what he said.

 

“Make a contract with me.” 

 

“What kind of contract?” It was not Jungkook’s first contract. He knew how they worked at this point in their life. It was his last contract. 

 

“I won’t forget,” Jimin says from far away from the blanket he clings to, “so, promise me that you won’t either.”

 

“Okay.” Jungkook’s grief reaches Jimin’s ears over the storm.

 

Jungkook knew what he agreed to. He knew the second Jimin took his hand, placing his palm over Jungkook’s wrist, what the consequences were of the impossible request. It did not matter. If Seokjin was going to untie this universe to thread it back together to suit his plan, nothing they did mattered. At the time, even Siyeon did not know they were wrong, and how powerful white pixie dust is in its purest form.

 

Stars fall out of the sky, the world around them consumed by nothing—not a void, or a black hole, or the dark infinite space, but nothing. 

 

As the boating dock cracks under him, a tattoo appears on Jimin’s shoulder, signifying their unbreakable contract bonded with all the white dust Jimin had left. It was the last of the dust in his body.

 

The pain of dying was nothing compared to the pain he felt when he saw Jungkook’s face twist into horror as he realized what their contract meant for Jimin. A pixie with no dust and no wings is not a pixie, something different entirely. Not something new, as Jimin is now, but something unfortunate, something capable of learning and falling in and out of love. Something without an immortal body that held itself together through its dust.

 

Their contract ripped away the last things that made Jimin a pixie until he was no longer one. A human stood in his place, hunched over, coughing up blood the way humans do when their internal organs bleed, when their wounds form years of surgery and battering no mortal body can withstand finally reach his mortal body. His wings destroyed, his dust depleted, unlike a pixie he did not scatter like dust on the howling wind. 

 

On the woven blanket, Jimin feels a surge of pain in his chest, in his wings, coursing through his entire body as he remembers how it felt. He remembers the last song he heard from Jungkook’s heart—the agony, despair, grief—everything unpleasant about facing mortality at once as the light faded from Jimin’s eyes, once the brightest light above the waves.

 

Jimin grips the bluebells so tight they should tear, but they hold strong to protect him. His tears are lost to the violent waves splashing onto the blanket as Siyeon catches Jungkook before he chases the nothing that consumes the space where Jimin once died. A crash of thunder, a flash of light, and Jimin sits alone at the universe edge as the stars remove themselves, following Seokjin’s commands so he can start again.

 

The suggestion made by the man with fake eyes: adjust the factors. To Seokjin, that meant teaching Jimin about the awful and grotesque habits of humanity. It meant instructing the man with fake eyes to bottle up Jimin’s wings and keep them on hand instead of destroying them this time should Jimin’s dust run out from the tears where they once were. It meant ripping Jimin’s and Jungkook’s stars apart and flinging them to opposite ends of the universe because, should they meet again, Jimin might have once again made the decision to stay and produce the same outcome.

 

There is nothing beyond the blanket but the fading sound of a distant harp song, and one final conversation spoken at the edge of time. 

 

“Make a contract with me,” Jungkook whispers. His voice echoes in nothing. “You still have some of his dust, right?” 

 

“What are the conditions?” Siyeon asks from nowhere.  

 

“When we meet again, you’re going to send Jimin home. No matter how hard he fights it, make sure he doesn’t die on Terra.”

 

“It’s not your fault, Jungkook.”

 

Jungkook refuses to be convinced. Jimin can hear the guilt.

 

“I’m the one who made the decision!” Jimin yells voicelessly what couldn’t before. “I would make it again!” It must be true if he can say it. He wasn’t sure he could.

 

“Bond the contract.” Jungkook’s voice echoes as it dies.

 

“I agree to the conditions,” Siyeon says. “I’ll see you soon.”

 

Soon does not happen for the duration of all of time until Jungkook is born again, meets Siyeon again, finds Jimin again. Soon won’t happen until Seokjin commands it. 

 

The tug of Jimin’s Tomorrow pulls him towards a white light hovering above the blanket through a black mist as he shakes violently. He doesn’t have time to process the memories, to compare them to that which he knows, that which he heard from the butterfly, that which he had with Jungkook today

 

Jimin waits for the end to this dream, to wake up next to Jungkook in the bluebells. He remembered. He saw it all. Their contract is complete, and Jungkook is free of his duty to Jimin through their bond. 

 

The nothing fades to black to white, and white to a feint drone that smells like steel and alcohol, blood and rubber 

 

From a place above, Jimin sees his body on the operating table where he never left. His white dust does not help him like it did before. It does not protect him long enough to carry him to the sound of the last well on Terra among the field of bluebells where he learned his name. Jimin does not escape this time by fighting through his last breath to appear in front of Jungkook in the flowers. 

 

On this day, Jimin was set loose. 

 

The man with fake eyes and a metal heart sets his tools to the side one final time, rinses his textureless blue hands, and leaves Jimin strapped to the metal sheet. 

 

His ears buzzed to loud to hear his wings calling for him. He wasn’t thinking about his wings, only survival—only the way the man with fake eyes bumped into his cart of tools on the way out. Only the missing click of the door sliding shut behind the doctor, the sound of a thousand human heartbeats beneath him as he broke through the straps he had never been able to before, ripped out the wires and tubes from his arms as he bled, and ran. 

 

Soon, Jimin would find the exit by following the human heartbeats outside the operating room to pass crossed patterns on the walls and isles of gurneys and worried humans on his way. Outside the building, blinded by neon and reflections from the puddles in the night, he was struck by a creature moving too fast for him to react. 

 

This was decidedly not a part of Seokjin’s plan. This was the product of the ego of the man with fake eyes. This is the way in which he chose to play with Jimin, to make him believe he had control over his fate on Terra.

 

The second first time Jimin met Jungkook, he described a hit and run—a part of the chaos of Terra over which Seokjin had no agency as he cowered in Hyeastra to avoid the wrath of the warlock who would see him bound in her hell spell. 

 

Despite everything, Jimin would always be able to find the human whose path intertwined with his by the will of the stars, still bound by their last contract, and the only thing in the universe more powerful than stardust itself.

 

The bluebells whisper to Jimin. The bluebells on Terra are familiar with him and know what he is.

 

These belong to you.

 

Jimin has no voice to respond. Still, he is able find his answer.

 

I wish to remember.

 

The bluebells sing him awake.

 

Jimin finds himself not in the belly of a creature with red eyes and a low growl like he expects, but to the sound of bluebells swaying in the breeze and a song played on a harp in a familiar tune, warm and safe, against his ear. 

 

Jimin didn’t need to see what happened next. He remembers. What happened next happened not too long ago.

 

He doesn’t know when he started to cry or when Jungkook wrapped him so tight he loses his breathe, or when he started to hyperventilate the way humans react in stressful situations beyond their control. 

 

“I’m here,” Jimin whispers, clinging to Jungkook’s shirt. If he lets go he feels he might fall away into the nothing he witnessed. 

 

“You’re here,” Jungkook whispers. “I’m sorry. I had no idea you could still feel what was happening. Siyeon failed to mention any panic attacks when I saw…whatever that was.”

 

Surrounding the blanket, covering the foods and their bodies, dust in all colors from blue to yellow to pink to black form a thick layer. Jimin remembers everything. He remembers that the first time met Jungkook he did not hate humans. He had no reason not to trust Jungkook when he heard Jungkook’s concern for him, his eagerness to help Jimin recover.

 

A pixie with white dust is rare. Legendary. A pixie with white dust shouldn’t exist. It’s what humans would refer to as a mutation. Anomaly. Pixies do not have a word for it, because it isn’t supposed to exist. 

 

A pixie born from white dust is not dangerous. A snake with white dust, or a warlock, or a star, or any number of beings who would seek the gift of white dust, is catastrophic. Pixies do not care enough to utilize white dust, and if a pixie with white dust is born, word never leaves the sidhe. As a pixie, Jimin would have no emotions attached to the knowledge that he carries white dust. The part of him infested with human emotions is scared, awed, excited.

 

A dying star who witnessed a pixie born from white dust is dangerous. A pixie with white dust and a human Tomorrow is catastrophic. The flutter of a butterfly’s wing from across an entire ocean can create a typhoon at the other shore. After adjusting his factors, Seokjin altered their path entirely. The butterfly effect is not a phenomena known only to Terra.

 

Jimin lifts his head to a field empty of humans except for Jungkook, in the present, lying next to him where he closed his eyes. 

 

“What was it like for you?” Jimin asks.

 

Jungkook runs his hand through Jimin’s hair, stopping at the back of his neck and holding him close.

 

“I chose not to remember.” Regret. “All I know is Siyeon’s version of the story. She recapped so I would at least know, even if I didn’t remember seeing it.” A pause. He doesn’t want to continue. “I know I heard the bluebells tell me your name, and you weren’t afraid of me, that time, but you probably should have been” Jungkook laughs, playing with Jimin’s hair behind his ear, staring past him into the field. “I guess Seokjin thought you wouldn’t be able to fall in love with me if you were afraid of humans, let alone give up on going home to stay with one.”

 

Remorse. 

 

Jungkook’s eyes trace every detail of Jimin’s face as if trying to find something he lost to the bluebells. 

 

“You didn’t kill me,” Jimin says. 

 

Jungkook stops twirling his hair.

 

“You should have gone home.” Jungkook’s eyes fill with tears. Not enough to fall, just enough for Jimin to notice. “I made Siyeon promise at the risk of losing our souls together that she would send you home this time.”

 

“She did, though. I went through the bridge. I’m not a human. I’m not going to die as long as you’re with me.” Jimin doesn’t believe his own words until he utters them. It must be the truth. He wipes a tear from Jungkook’s cheek before it can off the side onto blanket.

 

“You were so scared the night I found you.” Jungkook returns the action, wiping away a tear that hardens into a diamond upon leaving him cheek.  

 

Jimin remembers the horror, the adrenaline, the terror the night he escaped.

 

“You knew about pixies when you found me in the bluebells,” Jimin says. “How?”

 

Jungkook adjusts to rest his head on his hand, looking beyond Jimin to find what he forgot in the bluebells. 

 

“Siyeon didn’t leave me out of the equation that time. We were still friends when she opened up and took me along with her. Once we found Bora the three of us moved out here. I missed out on a whole lot thanks to,” Jungkook pauses, then gestures vaguely above him, “to this.”

 

The reason Jimin met Jungkook and loved him enough to stay, gave up on his goal of returning home only to die once everything pixie about him was lost, was something Siyeon intended to avoid. She couldn’t keep them apart despite her efforts. Jimin thinks he understands Jungkook’s frustration with her. He isn’t sure what empathy feels like.

 

“When I first met Siyeon,” Jungkook continues, “I mean, the second time, I guess—she kept those things about herself hidden. And a couple days after you left, Siyeon took me here and told me she had planned on removing me from the situation entirely so she could find you alone with Bora and avoid what made you stay. She left me behind.”

 

If Jungkook had gone with Siyeon, he would have missed Jimin. His sorrow is unnecessary. Jimin tries to reassure him.  

 

“You would have come with her to this field and I would have been left alone with the humans Yoongi and Hoseok.”

 

Jimin’s wings flutter when Jungkook laughs.

 

“I can’t imagine how that would have gone if I didn’t show up when I did.” Jungkook plays with Jimin’s hair again, twirling it behind his ear. “I don’t think they really would have called the cops, but things would have turned out a lot different. You might have been stuck cleaning dishes instead of finding your way back home.” 

 

Jimin scrunches his nose at the thought of being stuck with humans far more incompetent than Jungkook had he not found him. 

 

“What?” Jungkook asks. “The thought of taking my position at the Magic Shoppe and waiting on humans for the rest of your life doesn’t sound like a dream?”

 

“Not if you’re not in it.”

 

Love is the most beautiful tune in Jungkook’s heart. Jimin needs to hear it forever. 

 

Jungkook rolls onto his back and stares at the sky, his hands over his chest, rising and falling with each deep breath. The song of love clashes with irritation.

 

“Kinda fucked up to keep all this a secret, though. She could have told us right away.”

 

Jungkook reaches behind him and plucks a blade of grass, bending it between his fingers, tugging on it, fidgeting with it as his heart’s song deepens. Jimin snaps another blade from the line and copies him. It doesn’t help him think like it does for Jungkook. He tosses it back into the field. 

 

“Maybe she saw a future where she tried to tell us and decided it wasn’t worth it,” Jimin argues to keep Jungkook from feeling worse.

 

“But that’s bullshit.” The blade of grass snaps with his last word and he tosses the pieces into the air before reaching for another. “She said she couldn’t see my future anymore, or Bora’s, once she changed the timeline herself by abandoning me.”

 

Jimin wants to remind Jungkook what would have happened if she hadn’t abandoned him with Bora. He doesn’t, because it would not do much to stop his frustration. The human ability to overlook logic with such passion still astounds Jimin. 

 

“And I expected to live the rest of my life knowing all this shit,” Jungkook pulls on his new piece of grass, “as if it wasn’t the literally biggest thing to happen to me, and probably to anyone on Earth—Terra, whatever, and not even be able to tell anyone.”

 

Another snap, and Jungkook tears off a third blade to fidget with. He isn’t calm, but the frustration subsides with each word, so Jimin listens attentively. Jungkook needs this.

 

“I didn’t even know what to tell my therapist. Who was gonna believe that I fell in love with the wrong pixie,” Jungkook says as he picks apart another blade and tosses one of the pieces into the air, “pissed off a literal star,” another piece flies, “to the point where he turned back fucking time to lie to you about humans so you would hate us too much to fall in love with one again,” and another piece, harder as he raises his voice, “because his wounds, or whatever, inflicted by an ancient warlock was riding on that pixie not becoming human and losing all his dust. Seriously, who would be able to help me with that?”

 

Therapist is a new term. He doesn’t ask, sets it aside in his mind for later to allow Jungkook to let out the pent up emotions he has had to suppress. His anger grows while his frustration lessens.

 

“And he didn’t know how to kill you himself, so he hired a fucking evil scientist to do the job for him? And, also, my warlock high school best friend invented hell!” Jungkook tosses both remaining pieces of grass and drops his arms behind his head. “How did she expect me to deal with that?”

 

He’s angry, but it’s more than that. Jimin knows humans grow and learn quickly. Two years is a long time for a human, and personally Jimin does not like to wait as much as two minutes before voicing his concerns. If he were there to ground Jungkook when he learned, he might have handled the information in a calmer manner rather than with the anger he feels now. At the same time, Jimin does not want to imagine how scary his heart would have sounded and what it would have done to him.

 

Jimin hands Jungkook his blade of grass. He looks like he needs to rip something else, and it wasn’t helping Jimin anyways. 

 

“You know what’s the most fucked up part about all of this?”

 

Jimin shakes his head, straightening upright and tucking his legs under himself.

 

“Aside, from, you know, commissioning a human to dissect the shit out of you to find out how to kill you—is that he found one willing to do it!”

 

“You’re surprised he found a human like that? It shouldn’t come as a surprise.”

 

It is like Jungkook doesn’t even hear him. He needs to work out everything out loud before Jimin can reach him.

 

“And here I was, trying to teach you that humans aren’t as fucked up as you thought they were, but humans were Seokjin’s first thought! His go-to torture species. He thought, ‘hey, I’m a dumbass who doesn’t know how science works, and Dracula and Lucifer or whatever have too much empathy, I’m gonna ask a human to torture this innocent creature for me.’ And then Yoon did!” 

 

Jimin is ready with another blade of grass for Jungkook’s urge to destroy. He hopes the bluebells don’t mind.

 

“And I was a dumbass too for trying to convince you that you were wrong, because honestly, Seokjin kinda hit the jackpot on that shit he said about humans.”

 

Jimin adds jackpot to a growing list of words he needs defined.

 

“Even the cannibalism part! Some humans do eat other humans! It’s rare, and it usually makes national headlines, but, fuck, man, we have movies and TV shows dedicated to it, because humans are so goddamn obsessed with creepy shit like that, but they don’t wanna do it themselves, but then they’ll watch it happen and enjoy it!” 

 

Jimin tries hard not to, but like a human or a fairy, he can’t help but laugh. He covers his mouth with his hand to hide his smile, because Jungkook is clearly upset and would not want to see Jimin delighted at his rage. Still, Jimin finds it humorous how right now, it is Jungkook aggressively expressing his hatred for humanity. Not much has changed in his two years.

 

Though Jimin agrees with most of it, he almost wants to defend them. He finds it insulting Jungkook thinks Jimin would choose a species so terrible over returning home.

 

“What?” Jungkook asks. “What’s so funny? I’m not joking, they really like watching other humans eat people! It’s fake, it’s fiction, but it’s so fucked up!”

 

“Yes, that is fucked up,” Jimin agrees, hoping he uses the term correctly. “But what’s more fucked up is that, before today, I would have agreed with you, and we would both be wrong. Do you think I would have given up on going home and finding my wings if humans were that awful?”

 

Jungkook opens his mouth to start another tirade, then stops, squints, and looks around the sky. 

 

“Jimin,” he says after a minute, “you’re incredible. What’s happening right now?”

 

“I don’t know what you mean.”

 

“That was extremely right, but also extremely out of character.” Jungkook sits up and pulls Jimin close, tilting Jimin’s head side to side and forward like he’s looking for something on his head. “Are you still my Jimin?”

 

“I’m still Jimin,” he says. 

 

“Thank god. I thought you were a real human for a second.”

 

Jimin grimaces. “Never.”

 

“There’s my pixie.”

 

Showing Jimin’s distaste for humans made Jungkook happy. Jimin tries again.

 

“I hate humans,” he says. 

 

“Good.”

 

“Most of them.”

 

“That’s fine.”

 

“I don’t hate you.”

 

“I could kiss you right now.”

 

“You can,” Jimin agrees. 

 

“Cool.”

 

Jungkook pulls Jimin back onto the blanket and kisses him. It does not last long enough, as Jungkook is smiling too wide to maintain a connection. Jimin holds his head in place and presses them closer. That only makes Jungkook smile even wider 

 

After Jimin’s first night back, Jimin doesn’t want to go back to normal human kissing. Whatever Jungkook did to him made him feel something he never knew he could feel. Even more than when he feels pink dust. It’s not in his chest, but lower in his stomach, like the feeling he gets when he free falls before extending his wings. He chases that feeling when Jungkook pulls Jimin down with him and kisses him against the blanket. 

 

Jimin wants nothing but Jungkook close to him, above him, kissing him, his hands grabbing his waist, making Jimin jolt. 

 

“You’re incredible,” Jungkook says into Jimin’s lips. 

 

Jimin’s body reacts the way humans do when they’re close to other humans, the way he reacted when Jungkook kissed him like this the first time. It seems he will have human-like tendencies for the rest of his existence, which scares him just as much as it excites him. He doesn’t remember what it feels like to be fully human. With his wings, his dust, his ability to cross bridges, he knows he will never experience it again, and he prefers it this way, but he likes that Jungkook is one. He likes that Jungkook likes that he’s a pixie, and that Jungkook likes kissing Jimin as much as Jimin likes kissing Jungkook. 

 

“I love you,” Jungkook breathes. “I love you so fucking much.” Jungkook holds his head in place with one hand and with the other, tilts his chin back to look directly up at him when Jimin chases to reconnect their lips. “Whether or not we’re soulmates, or Tomorrows, or whatever, I’d still love you.”

 

Jungkook looks like he’s waiting for something. Jimin just wants to go back to kissing. 

 

“I also love you,” Jimin says. 

 

That was it. Jimin has never heard a heart so elated. 

 

“Be my boyfriend,” Jungkook says. 

 

“You keep saying that word. What’s boyfriend?”

 

Jungkook kisses him again. 

 

“Someone you get to kiss all the time.”

 

“I want that.”

 

“Cool.”

 

Humans use of temperatures to describe situations is lost to him. Jimin still doesn’t know what cool and hot mean, but if he asks, Jungkook will stop kissing him. 

 

“Wait,” Jungkook says. Jimin doesn’t want to wait. “We forgot to eat.”

 

Dust in all hues known to human eyes cover their food forgotten at the edge of the blanket. 

 

“It can wait,” Jimin says, pulling Jungkook back down. “I’m not really hungry after what I saw.”

 

“No way,” Jungkook resists.  “I spent an hour making all this. We have forever to kiss as much as we want, but these sandwiches are going to get soggy within ten minutes.”

 

Suppressing a cloud of teal that he knows is only his first instinct and not what he truly feels, Jimin pushes off the ground and takes one of the colorful glass bottles he picked out and rolls it from one hand to the other, watching the bubbles rise to the top each time it settles. His human anatomy betrays him, and the thought of food and drink, no matter how tempting they look, does not appeal to him.

 

Jungkook is unbothered. He doesn’t realize how wrong he is. His forever and Jimin’s forever are two different things entirely. Jimin wants to tell Jungkook that he doesn’t have forever. The thoughts that creep into Jimin’s mind when the considers the reality of their differing futures make him shudder. Jimin would never feel safe without Jungkook, even with Siyeon and the Bora on his side, and the time he will spend alone when Jungkook’s fragile and temporary human body lasts its term will feel even longer than the eternity Jimin has. It would be better not to alarm Jungkook with the issue when is feeling what Jimin feels as his dust is pink, and Jimin would hate to turn it blue. Still, like a human, his thoughts will repeat until Jimin finds a way to settle them.

 

Jimin would rather offer Jungkook longevity than destroy his own so he would be able to join Jungkook on his journey to tomorrow. All he needs is magic in its purest form, like snow or the blood of a unicorn, neither of which he has the power to harness on Terra. The white dust that flows inside him for which he had no sentiment as a pixie is strong enough to heal a dying star, as white is the first and last thing living beings see through their mortal eyes. It is the remedy to Jimin’s repeating thoughts.

 

When Jimin stares at Jungkook he sees a temporary vessel that, with the right magic, may become permanent. Jimin stares unblinking until his eyes water, taking in everything about Jungkook as he is now. His hair that grows without human intervention, his chest rising and falling, the way he is weaker than Jimin but stronger than an average human, his larger frame that casts a shadow over Jimin’s whole body, all indicators that there is life in him. It would not take too complicated a spell to alter the speed at which that life decays.

 

“Are you still not hungry?” Jungkook asks when he notices Jimin staring and sets down his sandwich with a frown.

 

Jimin throws his leg over Jungkook’s and settles on his lap. He wants to be as close as possible to hear the precise moment his heart rises when he hears his offer. Jungkook immediately wraps his arms around Jimin’s waist and rests his hands at the base of Jimin’s wings. He brushes the edges between his fingers and smiles up at Jimin. He is already so happy, feeling so much love in his heart, that Jimin doesn’t know if the tune can even rise any higher.

 

“Are all pixies this impatient?” Jungkook asks, misunderstanding Jimin entirely.

 

“You said forever,” Jimin says. “But it’s not really forever for both of us.”

 

There is a sudden drop in his heart when he understands. It won’t last. His heart will be soaring soon.  

 

“Let me give you forever,” Jimin whispers.

 

The hands on his wings stop moving. Jimin has never heard this tune before.

 

 

 

 

The bluebells bow in the direction the wind commands and whisper among themselves the answer Jungkook has not yet given.

 

Peace, they tell him. What Jimin hears is peace. He thinks he might feel it too. The melody of peace in Jungkook’s heart following Jimin’s offer harmonizes with the bluebells as they sing them to sleep under a night sky full of stars, all where they should be.  

 

 

Chapter Text

Pixies are among the most impatient, least subtle beings Jungkook has met. Out of the four beings he has met—humans, warlocks, pixies, and kings—Jimin is the only one who always says what he is thinking, because most of the time he has no choice. Jungkook has begun to take notes.

He knew from the beginning that Jimin doesn’t hide his discouragement when Jungkook can’t answer his questions. He demands an answer in his own cute way—green dust in frustration—and if an answer is not offered, he reminds Jungkook of his scholar status, and Jungkook thinks it’s his form of teasing.

Jimin is blunt, as he has always been, but more so now that their together is permanent. Permanent in the sense that it will last as long as Jungkook lives, and after that, Jimin’s immortality will carry on and Jungkook will have been no more than a blink in his existence.

Jimin is blunt when he repeats his offer that Jungkook never imagined possible, and doesn’t hide his discouragement when Jungkook can’t answer right away.

“That’s a lot to think about, Tiny,” Jungkook says, toying with a loose string at the end of his shirt. He needed a nickname, because every cute couple have nicknames. He is still exploring his options to see what Jimin responds to. 

Jimin doesn’t understand Jungkook’s answer. It shows in the way he narrows his eyes, leans closer to Jungkook on the couch, trying to gauge how serious Jungkook is.

“I’m serious,” Jungkook says. “It’s incomprehensible. I need at least a couple years to think about it.”

Jimin leans back on his heels, still staring as if the pressure will make Jungkook to change his mind. He folds his arms and tightens his lips. “What if you don’t have a year?”

“Is that a threat?” Jungkook is kidding until Jimin doesn’t answer. “Jimin?” he asks slowly.

There is no Siyeon here to force him to come down from his dark pixie state should he explode again. Jungkook likes to believe his boyfriend won’t kill him. Still, he isn’t sure.

“It’s not a threat,” Jimin says.

“A...prediction?” Jungkook asks nervously, drawing inwards as Jimin’s eyes lose their golden glow.

Jimin shakes his head. “You’re weak and you break too easily,” he says. “And there are no disadvantages to the spell. I don’t understand why you’re afraid.”

Jungkook wants to say he’s not afraid before he remembers his boyfriend is a walking lie detector.

“Maybe for someone who has already been granted eternity it’s not that hard to comprehend, but humans can’t comprehend living forever. We’re not built for it.”

“It doesn’t have to be forever. The spell only lasts a few decades until you have to restart the process.”

And eternal life with his soulmate, at first, didn’t sound all that bad. Bora has already accepted it, and Siyeon has begun collecting the ingredients she requires for the ritual, which she already assumed Jungkook would take part in, as if it’s not up to Jungkook whether or not he wants to stop his body clock entirely for thirty years while his friends and the family he has left age around him.

It isn’t a simple issue.

“I’ll think about it.”

“For how long?” Jimin presses.

Jungkook doesn’t know, and he is about to break it to Jimin that it might take him years to contemplate his offer. He doesn’t need to, as the oven alarm goes off and Jungkook leaps off the couch to save his lasagna from burning.

The recipe he followed called for a third of the cheese Jungkook used, and upon Bora’s recommendation, he flew too close to the sun with the layers. He knows he shouldn’t have trusted her the second he throws on an oven mit and opens the oven to a tin of cheese and tomato sauce boiling over the edge and dripping onto the bottom of the stove.

“Goddammit,” he hisses. He saves what he can with a spatula and forces it back on top before removing the tin completely.

Jimin and Jungkook shared a guest bedroom for two weeks since he kicked down the doors in the Magic Shoppe a second time. He has only lived alone with Jimin for two days. Two days since they found this location, and only one day since Siyeon bargained with a pixie in Hyeastra for her second round of construction supplies. In return, she only asked for a handful of Jimin’s white dust, which he was happy to show off. Jimin’s magic made building the bridge a breeze, and more efficient than the one Siyeon had built. The lag was only two hours, not two years. 

Two days, and Jungkook has already made a mess of their kitchen, and Jimin has spilled dust so deep into the carpet that, no matter how many times he vacuumed and scrubbed, Jungkook was useless to clear it all. It’s part of the aesthetic now. 

What is more embarrassing than a ruined lasagna and rainbow stained carpet is that not only is his pixie boyfriend who just learned how to taunt is laughing at him, but he won’t be safe from his family’s critique either. Yoongi has high standards, and Hoseok’s are higher. If they walk in to a glitter filled living room and a trashed kitchen due to Jungkook’s negligence, Jimin’s threat might become reality. Yoongi would kill him.

Jimin hovers next to Jungkook’s head, his tiny wings buzzing in Jungkook’s ear and tickling his cheek with each gust from his hummingbird-like speed.

“We can still eat it,” Jimin says.

“That’s not the issue here,” Jungkook sighs, slamming the oven closed and leaning over his bubbling and bursting lasagna attempt. The smell of burning cheese pooled at the bottom of the oven fills the kitchen. Not even the open windows and the winter breeze drafting through the house can clear it away. 

Jimin lands on Jungkook’s shoulder and makes his heart burst. He hopes he never gets used to the way his boyfriend is sometimes only fifteen centimeters tall.

“If you lived longer, you could practice baking until you have it mastered like Siyeon,” Jimin says unhelpfully. If he weren’t so cute Jungkook would shake him off his shoulder and mope over ruined lasagna. 

It isn’t really about the lasagna, rather the gravity of his situation in comparison to that of his friends and family. The lasagna has nothing to do with it. Jungkook is too overwhelmed to react to the ruined tin normally.

“Eat as much as you want,” Jungkook says, scowling as he tosses his oven mit onto the counter. “I’m going to take a nap.”

As expected, Jimin doesn’t move, only grips tighter to Jungkook’s sleeve as he takes them both to their bedroom. Their room is plain and white from the curtains to the bedsheets to the carpet and not nearly colorful enough for Jungkook’s tastes. He thinks the design might have been intentional on Siyeon’s part. Jimin’s dust adds a splash of color to everything, and it shows up best on white. Scouring every craft and thrift store in the city to find appropriate decore is a treat he is saving for after the stress of Yoongi and Hoseok visiting is over. 

A burst of orange, and Jimin is sitting on the bed before Jungkook even enters the room, human sized and taking up half the bed with his wings.

“Can you stop being upset?” Jimin asks. It’s like everything he’s learned about humans was thrown out the window the second he realized he was going to have to live with them for a while.

“Easier said than done.” But not as hard as he expected it to be when his cute human-sized pixie boyfriend is looking up at him with his cheeks puffed and arms folded.

Human-sized pixies don’t try to hide their emotions. He couldn’t if he tried, made obvious when his dust starts to leak. It’s not teal in rejection or a dull red and dark green in frustration like Jungkook expects. Jimin’s dust is magenta. Jungkook rolls his eyes, but internally, his stomach does flips. Of course that’s what is on Jimin’s mind. It has been, nonstop, since Jungkook told him he would have to wait for more until they were alone. 

Two days that Jimin has waited impatiently for Jungkook to show him more about sex touching . Two days that Jungkook has had to think over how to go about it in a respectful way that doesn’t make him feel like he is taking advantage of someone who knows nothing about the experience. 

He bites back a smile and pretends he doesn’t see the dust, sliding past Jimin to lay on the half of the bed not occupied by his wings. They catch the light through the window, casting orange and green shadows on the bed from the clear winter sky like pristine stained glass in a grand hall. Jungkook traces the outline of the membrane patterns on the sheets to further distract himself. The shadows shift and disappear entirely when Jimin’s wings fold down and he replaces them on the comforter next to Jungkook, looking down at him wordlessy and expectant.

Jungkook’s heart skips just enough for Jimin to catch it. He’s giddy like a virgin on prom night, but he would never give Jimin the satisfaction of knowing the affect he has on him because, like a pixie, Jimin would use it against him. Jungkook’s hands shake. He absolutely wants to have sex more than anything right now—more than he wants to try to salvage his first attempt at baking in their new home, or add some color to their house to make Jimin’s dust a little more subtle when Yoongi and Hoseok visit.

“Do you want something?” Jungkook asks, closing his eyes to continue his uninterested charad.

Jimin is as impatient as a pixie and just as blunt.

“I want to have more sex if you also want to.”

As much as he wants to continue to drag Jimin on, tease him until he bursts, he decides to save it for another time. Right now, he wants to have sex with his pixie boyfriend for the first time. He tried not to think too hard about it at risk of an awkward boner while they lived with two women, to the point he hadn’t even put thought into some major factors.

Jimin is waiting for an answer. Jungkook gives him one—a short, soft kiss on his lips made even puffier the way his cheek squishes into the pillow as he rests his hand on Jimin’s hip.

“Of course I want to,” he whispers. “I just need to make sure you’re ready first.”

Pink and yellow might be Jungkook’s favorite pixie emotion. The orange it blends into is softer than Jimin’s default cloud of sunset gold when he changes his form, or when he preforms menial tasks like closing doors and lifting the remote so he doesn’t have to get up from the couch.

“What do I need to do?” Jimin asks. He presses closer to Jungkook until their legs touch.

First, the basics.

“You can’t, um…” Jungkook hesitates, trying to push through the awkward conversation so they can get on with it. There is no subtle way to ask. “You can’t get...pregnant,” Jungkook winces as he says the word, “right?”

“I can’t get pregnant. Can you?”

“No,” he says quickly. “Not at all.”

Okay—one obstruction out of the way. Jungkook should have brought up this conversation before they got horny.

“Is that a problem?” Jimin asks.

“No! The opposite. I’m not ready for kids.” Especially, he thinks, if he might one day outlive them in an eternally young body along with his pixie boyfriend.

“What else?” Jimin sits up and Jungkook follows, grateful Jimin is capable of some level of patience despite the frequency his dust puffs from his body.

The dust is soft like powdered snow as Jungkook brushes his hand through the growing layer while he builds up the confidence to have the rest of this conversation that would be way easier if he were dating a human again. Dating Jimin, a being unfamiliar with human societal norms and shame, should make topics like this smoother. But now he is afraid to find out where Jimin learned about sex and reproduction, how he knows he can’t get pregnant, and if he knows the answer to the next very necessary, very touchy subject.

Jungkook takes a deep breath and pushes through. “Do you know if pixies…”

“You’re very embarrassed,” Jimin says, pressing his hand to Jungkook’s rapidly beating heart to further his point.

Jungkook feels like that’s valid.

 “Do you know if you carry any supernatural sexually transmitted diseases?” he asks so quickly Jimin’s response is delayed. “I’m sorry but it’s important to know.” 

“We don’t,” he says after a minute.

Jungkook almost asks if he’s sure, asks him how he knows, even knowing a pixie can’t lie. And his answer is most likely going to be that he learned from Seokjin, or Doctor Yoon, the mood killers to end all mood killers.

“Bora said you would ask that.”

 He got his answer anyways. Still, a total mood killer.

“And she told you that you don’t?”

“Siyeon said—”

“Forget it,” Jungkook says, “It’s okay. I believe you.”

“So can we have more sex now?” Jimin leans closer until they are almost kissing, smiling as he does so. 

The way Jimin just… says things sometimes.

“One more thing,” Jungkook says. “Well, usually there’s two more, but we I don’t think we need to worry about cleaning because you don’t, um… Anyways, we need a safe word. A safe word is—”

“Something we say if we’re uncomfortable in any way,” Jimin finishes for him. “And consent can be revoked at any time if either of us want to stop.”

Jungkook’s soft laughter blows Jimin’s bangs out of his face. Jimin smiles back as they fall back into his eyes. 

“Let me guess—Bora already had the talk with you, didn’t she?”

“She said it was important.”

“When did you have the time? Actually—nevermind. I don’t want to think about Bora or what ever she taught you right now. Wait,” he hopes he is wrong, “Bora didn’t...teach you anything else, did she?”

Jimin’s legs squirm as he tries to be patient. His yellow dust mixes with green hues. He is trying very hard not to burst, and Jungkook gets that.

“No,” he shakes his head, “she said she was saving the good stuff for you.”

The good stuff. How thoughtful. 

“So then, did you come up with a word together?”

“Magic Shoppe. That’s the word.”

“Good choice,” Jungkook says. He really means it. He can’t think of a single more unsexy image to pull them out of the moment that doesn’t cause actual stress. The thought of washing dishes and spilling drinks would pull Jungkook to a full stop for sure. 

“So it’s okay? That’s our word?” Jimin asks. 

“It’s perfect.” Jungkook finally pulls Jimin’s leg over his own and locks his arms around Jimin’s waist. “You’re perfect,” he whispers against Jimin’s lips as the room fills with magenta deeper and thicker than before. 

Jimin has no patience left and runs his hand through Jungkook’s hair as he kisses him. Jungkook remembers what worked last time and scrapes his teeth over Jimin’s lip. Jimin gasps, allowing Jungkook to lick into his mouth to elicit a moan so high it could only come from a pixie. He is more sensitive and responsive than any human Jungkook has been with who wasn’t exaggerating. 

“We’re doing it now?” Jimin asks, already breathless. 

“Is that okay?” 

“It’s okay.” 

“Cool.” Jungkook has to find a sexier word for that. 

Like a pixie, Jimin picks up quickly, shown in the way he copies Jungkook’s rhythm exactly from the last time they made out. Making out with someone with an identical kissing style is new to him, and he loves it. If he knew this is what everyone he’s made out with gets to experience, he would have envied his previous partners. Jimin will find his own pace eventually, but for now, Jungkook is okay with the way they both open their mouths at the same time, the way Jimin sucks Jungkook’s bottom lip into his mouth just as Jungkook is about to do, a perfect imitation. 

Jungkook laughs into Jimin’s lips. Is he really that easy to mimic, or just predictable? 

Jimin pauses to look at Jungkook from this angle, slightly higher than him. He wets his lips as Jungkook swallows hard. The idea of sex hasn’t felt this fresh and exciting in years. With humans he knew more or less what to expect, and they knew what they wanted from him. With Jimin he feels like he is back at square one, inexperienced, not anticipating what comes next, rather, acting in the moment. 

Jimin slides his hands down Jungkook’s chest, and suddenly, they are wearing too many clothes. 

“What are you thinking?” Jungkook asks against Jimin’s jaw, not yet a kiss, but close enough that Jimin’s breath catches. 

“I don’t want my clothes on for this,” Jimin says, arching away from Jungkook to ease the pressure in his leggings. “It hurts.” 

“Can I lay you on your back?”

Jimin’s answer is to fall backwards himself. His wings splay out against the sheets, sending dust swirling into the air when he lands and bounces on the mattress. “Off?” he asks. 

Jungkook may have been wrong about not knowing what to expect. At the very least, he can tell Jimin is going to be a needy lover. Jungkook is okay with that. Actually, right now Jungkook is more than okay with that—it is what he hoped for. If Jimin knows what he wants and is willing to ask for it, Jungkook feels less awkward about the experience gap, less like he is taking advantage of him for his innocence. 

Jungkook slides Jimin’s leggings to his knees and pauses, entranced once again by the sight of Jimin like this. This time there is light in the room, and he doesn’t have to split his mind between taking care of Jimin and being wary of the warlock and her inhuman girlfriend being just across the hall. Jungkook wants to breathe in every moment and burn it into his memory. Jimin is definitely his soulmate, looking like a man straight out of Jungkook’s fantasies. 

Jungkook traces the curve from Jimin’s wasit to the inside of his thigh before he looks up at him for a sign to keep going. Jimin’s cheeks are pink, and it isn’t from his dust. His lips are parted, his eyes attentive. Jungkook does something for himself, one of his favorite parts about human bodies. He squeezes the backs of Jimin’s thighs and runs his hand up and down the curve. Jimin liked that. And Jungkook liked it too. He pushes Jimin’s legs further apart and runs his hands down his thighs to his hips slowly so he can feel every inch of his skin too soft to be human. 

“I really let you walk around for a whole month looking like this,” Jungkook whispers, “and didn’t even know it.” The two years he spent without Jimin would have been made all the more difficult had his younger self seen Jimin like this. He might not have let him walk through that bridge, or it might be his brain making up fantasies because he is horny and it’s making every memory of Jimin into a sexy one.

“I would look like this whether or not you allowed it,” Jimin says, deflecting Jungkook’s attempt at dirty talk. “A month is only a long time for you to wait because you’re a human.”

Jimin doesn’t instinctually encourage the dirty talk. Jungkook tries to come up with something that someone like Jimin would want to hear and tries again, closer to his ear as he spreads Jimin’s legs further to fit between them. 

“Was it worth the wait?” he asks as low and breathy as he can. “Now that we’re alone,” he licks his lips, skimming Jimin’s ear with the tip of his tongue, “and we can do anything you want together?” 

Jungkook struck a chord. Jimin like -liked that. His legs come up to tighten around Jungkook as he grips Jungkook’s shirt like he would fall if he let go. He nods quickly, already breathing heavy. He wants to hear Jimin moan again and know he is the one making him feel this good. He wants to give him all the pleasure he deserves after all the pain he endured. He starts with touching, feeling it out to find what Jimin responds most to. He already knows Jimin has a thing for Jungkook whispering in his ear, and he liked when Jungkook squeezed his thighs. 

Leaning back, Jungkook slides his hands from Jimin’s legs to his ass and squeezes, fingers grazing over Jimin’s entrance before quickly pulling back like it’s something forbidden that Jungkook can’t have yet. 

“You can talk, you know,” Jungkook says. “Tell me if what I’m doing feels good or not.”

“It—it feels good when you touch me.”

“Here?” Jungkook asks with his hands back on top of Jimin’s thighs. 

“And here.” Jimin slides his hands from the underside of his thighs to his ass to show Jungkook. “And when you did here.” He rubs his own dick, already half-hard against his stomach. Jungkook’s mouth waters from the sight and from the thought of Jimin’s sugary holographic cum. 

“That was called a handjob. We can do that again or try something new. It’s up to you.”

“What else is there to do?”

And now Jungkook feels weird again, invasive. He should have led with this. Jungkook runs his hands up and down Jimin’s legs more to comfort himself than anything else. 

“There’s lots of different ways we could do this,” Jungkook says. “The way I usually have sex, and what most people picture when they think of sex, is…” Jungkook takes a breath to steady himself. There is nothing to worry about. Jimin knows how to set boundaries. It’s only weird if he makes it weird. “Either I could put my dick inside you or you could put your dick inside me and—and um, then you move around a bit so it feels good for both of us and then—”

“I know what sex is ,” Jimin clarifies. “It’s similar for all mammals.”

Ohthankgod ,” Jungkook breathes. “I didn’t want to have to explain what a dick is.” The only time he recalls coming anywhere near the subject was when he told Jimin in the pet shop they visited all those years ago that people might think he is a dick, someone rude. He didn’t learn anything else from Jungkook. 

“I meant, what am I supposed to do?”

“Literally anything you want,” Jungkook laughs. “You can tell me if you want me to do something, or you can do what you want to me. Don’t be ashamed to say what you want.” 

“You’re the only one feeling shame right now.”

Jungkook lightly pinches Jimin’s ass and Jimin yelps, followed by giggling so beautiful it could only come from a pixie. Thankfully he takes it well. There is nothing to be embarrassed about with Jimin.

“Fine,” Jimin says as a puff of magenta lands on the pillows. “I want you to take off your clothes. I want to see what you look like too.”

Jimin is so cute when he’s hot. 

Jimin sits up, his legs on either side of his body in a way that looks extremely uncomfortable for someone with human anatomy, the way models and anime girls pose, except it’s Jimin, and it’s right in front of him. 

“My shirt?” Jungkook teases with the bottom of his shirt pulled above his hips. He can’t believe Jimin wants him to strip. Well, he can, because that’s kind of important if they’re going to do what they’re about to do, but the fact that it’s Jimin, and that it is what he commands, makes it feel like a dream. 

“And pants,” Jimin clarifies, his hands slipping under Jungkook’s waistband. 

Jungkook loses his shirt while magenta manifests all around their heads in a cloud so thick Jungkook can only see Jimin’s silhouette. With a quick buzz of his wings Jimin clears the dust and sends it to the edges of the room. Jungkook blows away what’s left in the air and brushes it from Jimin’s legs before tossing his pants aside with the dust. 

“Why are you wearing two?” Jimin asks, hooking his fingers under Jungkook’s underwear. 

“It’s just a human thing. Do you want them off too?”

“Your embarrassment is spreading,” Jimin says. “It’s making my dust green.” 

“There’s no need for you to be embarrassed.”

“I know there isn’t. I still don’t understand why you are.” Jungkook is about to argue that he isn’t. Jimin beats him to it. “But I do understand that you’re human, and that this behavior is normal for you.” Jimin holds Jungkook’s face the way he does when he is about to say something serious, something he thinks Jungkook won’t understand unless he is making direct eye contact. “It’s because of this behavior that I feel love for you, so don’t be ashamed to be embarrassed.”

“I…” Jungkook thinks he has a response, but he doesn’t even know where to begin with what Jimin just said. “I… I’ve never cried during sex before.” At least, not from his emotions. “Don’t make me now,” he says into Jimin’s hand, kissing his palm as Jimin’s thumb wipes away a tear forming under his eye. Jungkook has never felt adoration and love so strongly. No drug could give him the same high as Jimin’s words. Just Jimin is enough. 

“You’re not embarrassed anymore,” Jimin says, smiling as he kisses him. 

“Did you say that just to make me feel something else?” Jungkook laughs into Jimin’s lips. “Because it worked.”

“I know.”

“You’re so…” Jungkook doesn’t know what word he was searching for other than Jimin, just Jimin. “You’re such a pixie,” he groans, rolling his eyes in mock frustration as he nudges Jimin to fall backwards and climbes over him. 

Jimin helps him drag his underwear as far as he can reach from where he lays before Jungkook tugs them all the way off and they land next to his pants. 

He has been naked in front of many people, partners, one night stands, people of all genders and preferences, but never in front of an otherworldly being who has—probably—never seen another person’s dick before. So he shouldn’t be surprised when Jimin stares, eyes wide and lips parted, when Jungkook is sitting in front of him entirely exposed. He can’t tell if what he feels is embarrassment or pride with the way he can’t take his eyes off him. 

“Does that—” Jungkook’s voice cracks. It’s definitely embarrassment, despite Jimin’s encouragement. “Does that, uh, do anything for you?” he asks, wincing at how perverted he sounds, not knowing what else he could have said to break the silence. 

“What’s it supposed to do?” Jimin stares. 

“Nothing, I guess? I mean, maybe something? I don’t know.” Jungkook says. “I don’t really know why I asked that.” 

Jimin looks up at him, eyes swirling with gold and lips shiny and red in almost the same hue as his dust, and smiles a smile so adorable it could only come from a pixie. “It’s cute,” he says. 

Cute, he said.

“You think my dick is cute?”

“No I—well, maybe, but I was talking about you.” Jimin pats Jungkook’s cheek the way he’s done to Jimin a thousand times. “I don’t often get to see you this kind of nervous. Your cheeks are red.” Jimin looks at Jungkook’s lap. “Can I touch it?”

“Yes, please.” Jungkook cringes and clears his throat. “I mean, um, yeah go for it, if you want.” That’s not really better, but he’s already tried twice. Jimin gets it. 

Jungkook repositions to spread his legs apart. Jimin’s soft pixie fingers wrap around his cock while the other hand pushes hard against his chest all the way back onto the bed. Jungkook gasps. He was not expecting that. He was not expected how turned on he would be seeing Jimin above him like this, his wings towering over them and blocking out the light from the ceiling and the window. He would be terrifying like this if he didn’t have his hand around Jungkook’s dick and a smile on his face too cute to be human. 

“I’m supposed to go up and down, right? That’s what you did?”

”That’s the general idea,” he says. “You can try—” Jungkook’s words catch in his throat. His mouth drops open, eyes fluttering shut until the shock subsides. 

Jimin strokes him slowly, experimenting with the angle and pace to see what Jungkook responds to. Jimin concentrates hard and moves slowly with a simple up and down motion. Nothing risky and much gentler than any human he has been with in a while. 

“Do you like it?” Jimin asks, so close to understanding dirty talk, if only his expression matched. He looks genuinely curious. Jungkook forgets to answer the question until Jimin raises an eyebrow. 

“Yeah, feels amazing.” Not knowing where to touch Jimin, as confused as he was his first time, Jungkook covers Jimin’s hand on his chest to hold him steady with each pump. 

Jimin’s eyes dart between Jungkook’s and his hand on his dick, making sure Jungkook is still enjoying it every time he tries something new. He changes the angle by lifting his wrist when he nears the tip, changes his grip, twists his hand on the way up and down. Jungkook drinks up every movement, picks up every minuscule adjustment Jimin makes until he sets a rhythm similar to what Jungkook gave him before. Like their kiss, Jimin is too pixie not to use Jungkook’s own technique against him. 

Jungkook is going to come to quick if he lets Jimin continue. Then Jimin stops to stare with his hand halfway up his cock.  

“Having fun?” Jungkook asks, snapping Jimin from a trance. 

“What’s the one that makes you…” 

“Hard?” 

“Hard,” Jimin repeats softly, nodding. “I don’t know the word for this one.”

“Do you know the color?”

“Magenta.”

“Yeah, that one is horny or turned on. Or lust, I guess, if you want to be formal.” 

“Horny,” He repeats again, this time tilting his head. “Humans don’t have horns.” 

“Not all of our terms makes sense. Haven’t you learned that by now?” 

“I’m still learning,” he admits. “What do I do next?”

Jungkook almost tells him anything you want before remembering that Jimin actually has no idea about foreplay. 

“Well, we’re both hard now. We could…” Jungkook clears his throat. “We could try anal, if you want. Or oral, or…”

“What do you want to do next?”

Jungkook wants to eat Jimin up as he fucks him into the mattress. The thought makes him shudder. Jimin reacts to his sudden burst of desire, losing a cloud of magenta himself. 

Jungkook pushes onto his elbows and, holding Jimin by the back of the neck, pulls him back down into a hungry kiss. Jimin collapses onto Jungkook’s chest, sits on his lap, and kisses back, but he can’t keep up. He lets his mouth hang open while Jungkook loses himself, just a little, in his attempt to show Jimin what he’s missed out on for the last several millennia as a pixie. 

Sliding his hands up Jimin’s sides, Jungkook bunches Jimin’s shirt until it stops under his arms. Jimin takes the hint and slips out the rest of the way to let Jungkook toss it on the bed behind them. Every single part of Jimin is the most beautiful part of him, from his legs to his face to his wings, all covered in dust like body glitter. 

Jungkook’s hands roam Jimin’s body back down to his ass where he squeezes, making Jimin gasp and grind his cock against Jungkook’s. 

“Is anal okay?” he asks as he holds Jimin’s hips in place. He isn’t ready to come yet, and at this point if Jimin does and he ends up with holographic pixie cum all over, Jungkook might come on sight. “That’s here,” Jungkook clarifies, palming Jimin’s ass, brushing over his entrance. “Yours or mine,” he adds.

“I want to know what it feels like inside me.” In case Jungkook was unaware what it is, Jimin positions himself over Jungkook’s cock and presses it between his ass. 

Jungkook’s hands fly to Jimin’s hips. “ Wait not yet—”

“I know,” Jimin laughs and sits up on his knees. “We need lubricant first and you need to stretch it open with your fingers. I told you—I know what sex touching is . I just thought it would feel good for you.” Jimin leans to whisper right in Jungkook’s ear, “It did, didn’t it? I could tell.”

Jungkook is speechless when Jimin kisses him right next to his ear. It’s almost like Jimin figured out that the first things Jungkook tried on him were his personal turn ons. 

“Do you have anything we can use for lubricant?” Jimin asks. 

Jungkook nods eagerly. “I keep it in the bathroom. One sec—”

Jimin pushes Jungkook back onto the bed when he starts to get up. “Stay here,” he commands.

More often than not Jungkook would consider himself dominant-leaning in bed, but he loses his mind at the image of Jimin taking complete control like he has more experience than Jungkook. He doesn’t have time to fantasize about Jimin telling him hands and knees, human, before he is pulled out of the fantasy by a cloud of orange burnt and magenta settling next to Jungkook’s head along with it the bottle of lube. 

“This one, right?” Jimin holds the label to his face. The dominance has left his voice. He’s being cute again as he holds the bottle close and mouths the words. Jungkook would be surprised if he could glean anything from the heavily stylized font and sexual euphemisms. 

“That’s the one. You’re incredible, did you know that?” 

Jimin nods. Of course he knows. Jungkook doesn’t let him go an hour without hearing it. His ego is almost as big as a real human’s by now. He hands Jungkook the lube and crawls off his lap. 

“How do you want me?” he asks, making Jungkook’s heart implode in just five words. He almost comes on the spot. The air fills with pastel pink, shimmering and shifting in the light and gracing every surface of the room. Jungkook is going to be cleaning pixie dust out of his everywhere for the next week. 

“You can sit or lay in whatever way feels most comfortable.” Jungkook pops open the bottle and slicks up his shaking fingers at the sight of Jimin falling onto his back and opening his legs, his wings splayed against the white sheets turned pink like a water color canvas and Jungkook almost leaves him to grab his phone and take a picture if he weren’t so entranced. 

“This is what my body wants right now,” Jimin says. “Will this work?”

Hhhhh oly fuck,” Jungkook moans under his breath, he can’t help it. He can’t believe how turned on he is by the idea that Jimin, attuned only to his instincts, naturally spreads his legs because it’s what his body wants . And what Jungkook wants is to eat him up like this. “Yeah, that works.”

Jimin reads his mind. “You can touch me anywhere, I trust you. Everything you have done has felt good so far.” Jimin is the only partner Jungkook has had whom he actually believe when he says this. 

“Can I blow you?” Jungkook asks even though Jimin already gave him the okay. He would feel invasive otherwise. 

“Can I assume that doesn’t mean you’re going to blow air on me?” He learns so fast and is so cute about it that Jungkook would die if he didn’t kiss him, so he does. 

“A blowjob is when you suck someone’s dick,” he says against Jimin’s lips as he palms Jimin’s cock. Jimin gasps into his mouth. 

“What does suck mean in this context?”

“Oh, that one is literal. I’m actually going to put my mouth on your dick and suck. If that’s okay with you,” he finishes quickly. 

“I told you anything you want to do is okay.”

“I know, but it’s important to me that you know you’re allowed to say no to anything.”

“You’re cute.” Jimin’s dust is pastel pink as he scoots up the bed and guides Jungkook so Jungkook’s mouth is lined up with his dick. “Show me a blowjob.”

Jungkook’s mouth waters as a moan catches in his throat. He needs to hear Jimin ordering him to suck his dick every day of his life. He strokes Jimin before pressing his tongue against the base, licking up until his lips wrap around the head. The sound Jimin makes has Jungkook moaning too. High pitched whines so delicate they could only come from a pixie fill the room. He tangles his fingers in Jungkook’s hair, grinding against his tongue as he loses himself in the unfamiliar sensation. 

Jungkook sucks lightly on his way up and rolls his tongue under and around the head, over the slit to see what Jimin responds to best. Every reaction Jimin has is as intense as the last, which works well for Jungkook because he, too, loves every part of sucking dick. 

Before Jungkook pushes him too close and Jimin comes before the promised anal, Jungkook slowly removes his lips, sucking one lsast time as the tip falls out of his mouth, and he presses his lubed fingers against Jimin’s entrance. 

“Does it feel okay?” Jungkook asks. 

“It feels so good,” Jimin breathes. “Why does it feel so good?”

“Because you deserve it,” Jungkook says.

“That’s not really why th- ough ! Fuck, Jungkook…” Jimin’s wings stutter against the sheets when he spreads his lips over Jimin’s cock again, faster this time to distract from whatever pain he feels from the stretch, if he feels any at all. He still doesn’t know how much more resilient Jimin’s body is now that he has his dust and his wings and a little bit more pixie back in him. His response only indicates pleasure, so Jungkook’s confidence grows. 

After a few seconds it has already been too long since he kissed Jimin. Jungkook pulls his fingers out just long enough to reposition directly above Jimin where he can see the moment Jimin’s eyelids flutter and his lips part when he presses two fingers against his entrance. He kisses him as Jimin grinds up to pull him in further, tightening around his knuckles so hard Jungkook is afraid he hurt him. The microsecond of panic subsides the moment Jimin’s wings vibrate against the bed and Jungkook realizes what caused the reaction. 

“It’s not too much, is it?” he asks. 

Jimin’s eyes fly open like he forgot he was in the room before landing on Jungkook’s, a sea of gold waves crashing against the edges of his irises. There are sparks of pink speckled between the gold as Jimin blinks away a tear forming from the pleasure.  

“It’s okay to keep going,” Jimin says. “I like it.”

“Are you sure?” 

“If it’s you, I’m sure.”

Jungkook groans into Jimin’s shoulder. “Why are you so fucking cute?” he whispers and plants a kiss at the base of his neck. “You are literally the most adorable thing on this planet.” Another kiss higher on his neck as he works two fingers in deeper. “Even when you’re trying to look stubborn or angry,” he trails kisses all the way to Jimin’s jaw, “you’re still so endearing.” He stops pumping into Jimin and waits for his eyes to open so he has his full attention. “I love you,” he whispers before continuing to suck on Jimin’s neck, unsure whether Jimin’s anatomy will actually leave a hickey. 

Jimin giggles at the feeling the way a pixie would giggle, catching Jungkook off guard. There is nothing human about the overlapping high-pitched echoes under the sound of his laughter, like a thousand tiny little forest creatures laughing underneath Jimin’s real voice. It takes Jungkook a second to realize the noise comes from Jimin. 

“I didn’t know you could make that sound.” 

Jimin blushes with his dust. “Pixies only laugh when they need to.” He avoids Jungkook’s eyes. It’s adorable what Jimin does and doesn’t get embarrassed over. It only makes sense because it’s Jimin. 

“You should laugh like a pixie more often.”

“That’s…” Jimin bites his lip.

“I didn’t say that to tease you.” Jungkook pushes Jimin’s hair out of his eyes with the hand that isn’t knuckle deep inside him and kisses his forehead. “I think pixie laughter is adorable.” 

“Pixies don’t laugh like that.” 

“Then...what was that sound you made?” Maybe Jungkook should be scared after all. 

Jimin takes a deep breath, his grip on Jungkook’s shoulders relaxing as he does. “I’m only telling you this because you’re frightened and you shouldn’t be.” More mint green pixie blush follows. He turns away from Jungkook and buries his face in the blanket, “That’s sometimes what f-fairies sound like,” he stumbles over the word like a curse. 

Now is not the best time to tease Jimin. He doesn’t want to ruin the mood. But they can always get horny again, and opportunities to tease Jimin are growing scarce as he learns. So Jungkook pushes up and pretends to check Jimin’s temperature on his forehead. He tilts Jimin’s head both ways to look for something that isn’t there. 

“What are you doing?”

“I’m making sure my pixie boyfriend didn’t accidentally come back a fairy boyfriend.”

“I’m not! I—” he stops when Jungkook breaks character. “Oh. Don’t be gross.” Jimin pushes his hand away. “I’m not a fairy. Pixies can’t become fairies.”

“Like you couldn’t become human?” He wonders if that was too soon. 

Jimin crinkles his nose. “ Don’t be gross.” It wasn’t. 

“Fine, sorry. You are decidedly not a human or a fairy. What if that’s just what pixies would sound like if they could laugh?”

“We can laugh, but not from joy like this.”

Jungkook can’t think of an appropriate response. He can’t tell him it’s cute, or he would be complimenting fairies. He can’t convince Jimin that it is okay to sound like a fairy because, well, what does he know? He can’t say he hated it because not only would Jimin know he was lying, but also because he really, really wants to hear it again. 

“I know you liked it even though fairies sound like that,” Jimin accuses. 

“Only because it’s you! I swear.”

Jimin rolls his eyes and laughs a boring human laugh. “Humans are so susceptible to fairies. It’s embarrassing for you.”

“Wait, that’s not fair. I didn’t know fairies sound like that. Maybe if other pixies could feel joy they would sound like that too?”  

“Stop talking about fairies and keep going.” Jimin grinds down on Jungkook’s fingers, still very much inside him where Jungkook forgot he left them. “You’re going to make me associate fairies with sex.” 

“No fairy-talk in bed. Got it.” Jungkook pulls his fingers out to add more lube.

He works Jimin open to three fingers, and as much as he wants to draw it out, push Jimin to the edge and pull him back so his pleasure never has to end, he also really wants to make his new Jimin come on his dick for the first time. 

“When are you going to put it in me?” Pixies are nothing if not blunt, and honest, and incredibly sexy while being so.

Jungkook spreads his fingers to make sure. “Right now, I guess? If you’re ready. 

“I’m ready. I want both of us to feel good.”

Jungkook laughs and pulls his fingers out, falling on top of Jimin and squeezing his sides. “I’m feeling great,” he whispers into Jimin’s ear, “so don’t worry about that, okay? Everything about this is so fucking perfect.” He kisses Jimin’s cheek.

“So, are you going to put it inside me now?”

“If you’re comfortable with that.”

Jimin cups Jungkook’s cheeks. His hands are warm and soft and slightly damp from sweat, and they fit perfectly around Jungkook’s face like he was meant to hold him. 

“Jungkook,” he says, his tone as serious as the night he met him. 

“Hm?”

“Are you holding back because you think you’ll hurt me?” Jimin pushes himself up without letting go of Jungkook’s face, taking Jungkook with him until they meet at eye level. “You’re not going to break me. There’s nothing you are capable of that could physically hurt me. Do you understand that?”

Jungkook nods quickly, feeling like he’s being scolded. The thought of being scolded by Jimin is kind of a turn on. Something he’ll explore another time. 

“Great.” When Jimin smiles, his eyes disappear, and when he kisses Jungkook’s nose, Jungkook mind collapses in on itself. “Let’s keep going.” 

“Do you want to keep doing the same thing or try something different?” Jungkook asks. “I’m okay either way.” 

“I want to know what it feels like to have you inside me again. With that,” he clarifies, eyeing Jungkook’s lap. 

Jimin giggles an unfortunately human giggle when Jungkook wraps his arms around his waist and pulls him into a kiss.  

“There’s a lot of ways to make that happen,” Jungkook says. He slides his hand down Jimin’s back and and teases his entrance. “You can into a position that feels comfortable and I’ll do the rest.”

Jimin climbs onto Jungkook’s lap and grinds into his abdomen, sliding back down so Jungkook’s cock slides between his ass. His wings span the length of the bed and beyond casting orange and green shadows from the setting sun on the white sheets. It makes Jungkook feel like he is being courted by one of the exotic birds from the documentaries Jimin likes, displaying his prowess and coaxing Jungkook into submission. It’s working. 

“L-Like this, then?” 

“I like being on top of you. It makes me…” Jimin searches Jungkook’s face for the word, “turned on,” he says simply as if it’s not the sexiest thing that’s ever come out of his mouth. 

“Hand me one of those pillows?” Jungkook asks as he finds the lube and spreads it on his fingers, rubbing them together to warm it up. 

Jimin takes a pillow from behind him and slides it under Jungkook’s head, then props himself up with his palms on Jungkook’s chest. 

“Ready?” Jungkook coats his entire cock with more than enough lube. 

“I’m ready. What should I do?” 

Jungkook lines up his cock with Jimin’s entrance. “Take in as much as your comfortable with.”

Jimin lowers until the tip presses past his entrance, not fully inside him, barely prodding at his walls. 

“Go as slow as you want,” Jungkook says. 

Jimin lowers his hips until the head pushes all the way in, his eyes squeezed shut and his eyebrows lifting as his mouth hangs open. The look on his face is the definition of erotic, and the sound he makes has he takes Jungkook in has Jungkook shivering.Dust flies from the bed, swirling around Jimin’s wings as they flutter. The gust of air is refreshing against Jungkook’s hot skin. Jimin drops down another two inches before it seems that’s all he can take for now. 

“N-Now what?” he asks. 

“You can move up and down or side to side—just experiment until something feels good.”

“Will it feel good for you?”

“Feels so fucking good,” Jungkook breathes. He squeezes Jimin’s thighs to reassure him. 

Jimin lifts his hips until Jungkook slides all the way out. “I didn’t mean to do that,” he says. 

“It’s alright,” Jungkook laughs. “It’ll take a minute to get used to it.” 

Through experimentation and little help from Jungkook, Jimin finds a pace he likes taking in a little bit more each time until he’s sitting flush against Jungkook’s hips. He looks down to watch Jungkook move in and out of him. Every so often he breathes an oh when he finds something he likes. 

Despite the generous amount of lube Jimin is still tight around him. His walls tug against Jungkook’s cock him when he raises his hips, and every time he reaches the tip and sinks again Jungkook is sucked in deeper. Taking an entire dick his first time bottoming is one of the sexiest things about Jimin. He feels deeper than a human. One day Jungkook wants to see how deep Jimin can really take him. 

Jungkook can tell when Jimin found his favorite spot when the small breaths erupt into a full on moan through his bitten lower lip and his wings buzz frantically. His elbows buckle as he grinds around Jungkook in the same spot while keeping their hips close. 

Through heavy breaths and low moans that spur Jimin on, Jungkook presses his hand flat against Jimin’s head and lightly tightens his grip in Jimin’s hair. When Jimin presses his face into  Jungkook’s neck he can feel his smile, his wet lips hot against his skin. For a second Jungkook thinks he might give him a hickey, but he keeps smiling. With every slow grind his breath sends a shiver down Jungkook’s spine. 

Jungkook hums and tightens his grip in Jimin’s hair to tilt his head and whisper directly against his ear, “Having fun?” 

“I—It’s the best feeling.” He buries his head in Jungkook’s shoulder again and uses Jungkook’s cock to massage whatever a pixie has for a g-spot inside him. 

“You sound tired,” he continues in the sexiest voice he can—a mix of breathless laughter and a low tone that Jimin reacts to instantly.

“I’m n—I’m not sure what to do next,” he breaths. 

Jungkook holds him tighter against his body. “Keep doing whatever feels good. I promise it’ll feel good for me too.”

Jimin nods, though Jungkook is not sure he even heard him over his own moan. His pace slows. He is tired and didn’t want to admit it. 

“Are you okay if I move now too?” he asks. 

“Yes.” Jimin pushes up from Jungkook’s chest. His bangs are disheveled after rubbing against Jungkook’s neck and his eyes are only half-open. “Please, it feels so good.” 

He loses his purchase on Jungkook’s chest. Instead of falling, his buzzing wings send him upwards until he’s fully lifted off from Jungkook’s lap. Jungkook bursts into laughter while Jimin blushes with his dust in pinks and mint green. 

“Sorry,” Jimin says. 

“No, it’s—” Jungkook throws his head back laughing and struggles to complete a thought. "You’re fine,” he manages to say. “That was adorable. Is that going to happen every time we bang? Not that I mind, but I’d like to be prepared.”

“That’s what this is called? Banging?” he asks with so much innocence it’s hard to believe he was just riding Jungkook into the mattress. And he thought Jimin couldn’t get any cuter.

“That’s one way of saying it. Banging, fucking, um, copulating, I guess? The dance-with-no-pants—the list goes on.”

“Seokjin said it was called breeding.”

Please do not talk about Seokjin when you’re on my dick. Aw, shit.” Jungkook cringes and squeezes his eyes shut. “I just thought of him. Fuck. I hate that.” There isn’t a more effective mood killer in the universe.

“Sorry,” Jimin says, but he’s laughing too. “Sorry,” he says again. “No fairies or stars while we’re banging. Can we keep going?”

“Yes! Please! I need to wash my eyes out or something.”

Still giggling, Jimin reaches behind him, lines Jungkook’s cock up, and presses all the way down until he’s entirely inside of him again, then he angles his hips forward and back, up and down, like he’s had years of experience already, and that’s one hell of a distraction. 

Jimin doesn’t wince with each thrust anymore. He’s almost smirking. He knows exactly what he’s doing, when and where to angle his body and pace, and it’s a little suspicious. 

“Who taught you how to ride like that?” 

“No one taught me,” Jimin says calmly. “I can hear when it feels good for you so I keep doing that.”

If Jimin get’s any sexier Jungkook is going to—

“Oh!” Jimin cries. “Jungkook, it’s— hah —fuck, fuck. It’s s-so…”

Jimin’s wings buzz fast in small spurts. When he starts to lift into the air again Jungkook tugs him back down. It only makes them flutter harder and create a stronger draft. After a long battle between the strength of his arms and Jimin’s wings, Jungkook wraps his arm around Jimin’s lower back to keep him from flying away. With a firm grip on Jimin to keep him from flying away he strokes Jimin’s cock with his free hand and continues to thrust up into him. 

“Jungkook I think I—”

“Yeah? You gonna come?” Jungkook asks out of habit. “Come for me Jimin.”

Jimin finds Jungkook’s lips with an open mouth and eager tongue. Jungkook kisses back as Jimin comes. He bites Jungkook’s lip hard as if trying to tether himself to Jungkook. The force from his wings grows stronger as he comes and jerks Jimin upwards with Jungkook’s arm still around Jimin’s waist. Jungkook’s back arches off the mattress following Jimin and he comes instantly.

Jungkook thinks he might have blacked out for a second. Jimin is leaning over him and smiling brighter than the sun, giggling like a human, as Jungkook blinks his way back into the room. Holographic glitter covers his stomach and Jimin’s. They are both both heaving after the best orgasms of their lives. He knows it was the best for himself and Jimin because the last one didn’t send Jimin into the heavens. 

“Is that going to happen every time we have sex?” Jungkook asks, catching his breath. 

“Is that going to be a problem?” The way Jimin asks, he knows the answer already. 

“Not at all. Holy shit.” Jungkook looks at the mess of dust around the room, the mess of cum on their torsos, the messy state of Jimin’s blown out hair from the gust. He takes a risk. “If you’re going to fly away every time we have sex I might need to bring out those handcuffs.” 

“What’s handcuffs ?”

Jungkook blushes. “Remember the first night we met and you tried on some jewelry you found in my room?”

“Yes, the ones that humans use to restrain other humans.” Jimin tilts his head the way cute pixies do. 

Jungkook is about to panic, feeling like he selected the wrong dialogue option in a video game until a heavy puff of magenta comes from nowhere. Jimin is loaded with dust and it doesn’t end.  

“If—if you think it will help keep me down, then…”

“Are you blushing?” Jungkook asks, reaching up to stroke Jimin’s cheek. “We’re naked and dick is literally inside you right now and you’re blushing?” Jungkook laughs. He doesn’t actually think there is anything unnatural about Jimin blushing—he just likes to put Jimin on the spot. 

Jimin grabs his hand to stop him and pins it against his chest. “You are too,” he mutters. “You’re all red.”

“I think that’s from your dust.”

“No it’s not. It’s because your capillaries dilate to direct the heat in your body to the surface so you can sweat and reduce your body’s temperature.”

“But it’s also from the dust.”

Jimin narrows his eyes. Jungkook bites his lip to keep from smiling. 

“My dust has nothing to do with your blood vessels. It’s coming from inside your body because your anatomy—oh,” Jimin pauses. “You’re teasing me.” He grins. 

“It’s fun to tease you but I also do it because hearing you say smart things. You enjoy being right even when you're wrong.”

“I’m not wr—you’re teasing again.”

“Of course I am. You’re always right.”

“Sarcasm,” Jimin accuses. He’s getting better. He sits up on his knees and stares down at Jungkook the way Jungkook looks at him, like he has anything more beautiful. It’s a bold assumption considering the magical world Jimin is from, but he wants to believe it anyways. He looks absolutely lost in love. Jungkook is sure he looks about the same. 

He thinks about what Bora said years ago, how it would be impossible to date a human again after being with someone like Jimin or Siyeon. He can’t imagine how he was able to pretend for so long that Jimin wasn’t all he dreamed of. Having a boyfriend who takes flight when he comes scares and excited Jungkook, and he wonders what other otherworldly secrets Jimin is hiding. At this point he wouldn’t be surprised if Jimin could breathe underwater or survive the vacuum of space. 

Something on his stomach glittering in the light catches Jungkook’s eye. He swipes his finger through the cum and tastes it. It wasn’t a dream. His pixie boyfriend’s cum tastes like powdered sugar. 

“You can lick it off,” Jimin says, reading his mind. “You really want to.”

“I think you really want me to.”

“We both do.” 

Jungkook pulls Jimin down and flips him onto his back. Jimin shivers, locking his fingers in Jungkook’s hair to encourage him until he’s cleaned everything from his stomach to the head of his cock. Jimin glows from the swirls in his eyes to the shimmering pale pink mist setting around them. 

“When can we do it again?” 

Jungkook licks the rest from his lips. “Later,” he says. “After we finish with the aftercare and take a bath and get something to eat.” Jungkook remembers the fate of his lasagna and frowns. “Maybe I’ll go pick up some takeout before everything closes. 

Jimin’s wings catch the last sunlight through the window behind him. They glow translucent and heavenly, spread as wide as they will go and fluttering in tandem with Jimin’s bated breath. Jimin is the most ethereal sight Jungkook has had the privilege of witnessing. With each breath the cloud of pink shifts between them until it settles completely, and he stares at Jimin as long as Jimin will allow it.

“I love you,” Jungkook says. He’s never meant the words so much.

Jimin leans forward and kisses him softly.

“I love you,” he says against Jungkook’s lips. “You taste like my cum.”

 

 


 

 

Jungkook has exactly an hour to vacuum what he can of Jimin’s dust from the carpet, change their bedsheets, and mentally prepare for his family to officially meet his pixie boyfriend for the first time. Not while terrified or confused, rather casual and relaxed. 

The first time Jimin met Yoongi and Hoseok he tried to kill them, or at least planned to, and then whisked Jungkook away on a magical adventure. The second time, he broke their door again and played the homewrecker. 

The third time Jimin meets Jungkook’s family Jungkook holds his breath and waits for someone else to speak first. Yoongi picks at the ribbon around the paper bag with fancy wine he brought as a housewarming gift while Hoseok gawks shamelessly at Jimin’s wings from the porch. 

Jimin perches on Jungkook’s shoulder after having guided Hoseok and Yoongi through the forest that would swallow a human should they try to enter the field of bluebells. The winter breeze whistles through the trees and blows the curtains next to the door to the side. The fireplace roars, and the bluebells sway in the meadow behind Yoongi and Hoseok as they shiver. 

Hoseok clears his throat. 

“Nice to see you again, Kook,” he says. He doesn’t move. 

Jungkook hasn’t invited them inside yet, too caught up in the reality of his two worlds officially colliding—this time, on purpose. 

“Sorry, please come in!” He steps aside. Jimin grasps his sleeve for support. 

Suddenly Jungkook is hyper-aware of what the space looks like. It’s bland with a white carpet and white walls. The only color comes from the dust imbedded in the carpet that Jungkook has to accept will never come out. It’s mostly orange with some yellow, some green, and a small amount of pink and magenta. Like Siyeon’s house, the space is open. The front door leads directly into the living room with the kitchen in the back and a very plain looking set of white stairs leading to their bedroom and the only bathroom. It’s small, but they don’t need very much room when one of them is the size of a canary half the time. 

“This place was a nightmare to find,” Yoongi says, stepping out of his shoes and following Jungkook into the living room. “I thought you were kidding when you said you were literally off the grid.” 

When he hands Jungkook the paper bag, Jimin immediately swoops down to peer inside. His wings buzz faintly as he hovers. Hoseok is fixed on his tiny body as he hangs his coat at the door, and Jungkook stays completely still, afraid his legs will give out if he tries to take another step. 

It’s not every day his family meets his pixie boyfriend from another realm while he’s in tiny mode like it’s completely normal. He can’t imagine what must be going through their heads, what Jimin is hearing from their hearts. 

“Humans aren’t supposed to be able to find this place.” Jungkook closes the door behind them. 

“How do you do that?” Yoongi asks. 

“What? What’d I do?”

“You said ‘humans.’”

Jimin looks up. 

“I did,” Jungkook says. 

“And that’s just normal for you now, isn’t it?”

Normal doesn’t exist. The pixie fluttering back to his shoulder is a good indicator. After spending a month and a half, albeit on and off, surrounded by magic and learning about alternate realities and soulmates— tomorrows —and witnessing the death of a star in his own living room, learning that none of the people around were human, even the ones he knew for years, the concept of a human as opposed to whatever else there is carries no weight. He can’t help but feel judged, even if Yoongi didn’t mean it. It’s all a lot to process, and he expected a reaction of this kind. 

Before Jungkook responds, Hoseok steps in and says, “I like what you’ve done with the carpet,” as glitter clouds around his step. “Didn’t you say humans allergic to this stuff?”

Yoongi cringes and Jungkook relaxes at the use of the word human

“I’ve built a tolerance.” It’s a half-truth. Though it doesn’t make his cough and sneeze with every wiff, dust is still dust, and his lungs are not immune, especially when Jimin does something like poof into tiny on their pillow or release dust directly into his mouth while Jungkook is trying to give him a hickey. 

“Thanks for the wine,” Jungkook adds, trying to bring the conversation back to a level of human normalcy

Jimin jumps off his shoulder and floats over the edge of the paper bag. “There’s wine in here?” he asks. “Humans drink wine?” 

“Humans are obsessed with wine,” Hoseok says. “Do you have wine in…on…?” He looks to Jungkook to finish his thought. 

“Can I tell them?” Jungkook asks. 

Jimin nods while dipping his upper half into the bag to get a closer look at the label. His buzzing wings brush against the top of the bag on the other end and rip a small tear through the edge from the friction. 

“He’s from the realm called Hyeastra.” Jungkook mispronounces it, unable to mimic Jimin’s accent. 

“That’s not what the realm is called,” Jimin says from inside the bag. He offers no further explanation. 

“Okay, he’s from a place called Hyeastra.”

Hyeastra ,” Jimin corrects in a voice Jungkook can’t replicate. 

“That’s the one,” Jungkook says. 

“We have wine in Hyeastra." Jimin lands on Jungkook’s shoulder again. “It’s not consumable by humans. The alcohol would poison your immune systems like foxglove elixir.”

Hoseok pretends to understand what that means. Jungkook shrugs. Yoongi takes in the room, the high ceilings, the stale whiteness of the minimal decor. It’s Jimin’s favorite color, but eventually, Jungkook is going to have to make some adjustments. 

“Alcohol is, technically, poisonous to humans,” Hoseok says. 

A thin sheen of purple appears in Jungkook’s peripheral as Jimin tenses. 

“They’re not trying to poison us,” Jungkook says quickly. 

Jimin looks unsure, continuing to kick the bag from where he sits against Jungkook's neck. “He was telling the truth,” Jimin whispers. “There’s poison in there.”

Jungkook laughs and pulls out the bottle and sets it on the kitchen counter before scooping Jimin off his shoulder. Jimin clings to his thumb with tiny hands, looks up at him with tiny, worried eyes. 

“Humans do a lot of stupid things to our bodies,” Jungkook explains. He sets Jimin next to the bottle and points to the label. “This one is only eight-percent alcohol. In moderation it just makes us a little tipsy.”

Jimin examines the bottle all the way around. Jungkook turns back to their confused guests who are very obviously trying to act like this is all normal. 

“Is he going to be, um, normal-sized when we go out? Or does he hide in your hat?” Yoongi asks. 

“This is normal for him,” Hoseok says. “Right?”

By now, Jungkook has forgotten what the word means. He’s learned to stop expecting to understand anything about Jimin’s existence. 

“He’ll be bigger when we leave.”

“And the wings?” Yoongi asks. 

Jimin is still impartial to leaving the house due to the everything about him. Together they worked out a layering system to pad out his wings using hoodies and scarves. Until the colder months end, hiding the very large, very magical pixie wings against his back and around his torso won’t be as difficult as it’s going to be during crop top season. 

“They can lay flat,” Jungkook says. 

“And the dust?”

“He’s getting better at suppressing it.”

“How often does he dust like that?” Yoongi asks, pointedly at Jungkook, like Jimin isn’t right in the room with them. 

Hoseok catches on. 

“Jimin, what makes your dust happen?”

“Lots of things,” Jimin says, sitting criss-cross in front of the bottle of wine trying to memorize every word. He looks up at them after silence follows, then back to the bottle. “When I want to move things or use magic I can summon it.”

“And that’s how you moved the tables around at the Magic Shoppe,” Hoseok says. Something clicked. 

“What about just now? It was purple.” Yoongi says. 

“I was frightened because I thought you were trying to kill Jungkook,” he says casually, like he didn’t just accuse Jungkook’s family of trying to murder him. 

Hoseok bends to brush his hand through the carpet and examines the colors reflecting on his fingers. It’s mostly yellow mixed with other pastels. Thankfully, Jimin hasn’t had a panic attack or burst into anger since they moved in, so no black and very little purple show up among the palette. 

Yoongi copies Hoseok while picking up the pink and magenta at his feet. 

“Why is this dust yellow?”

“And pink?” 

“Yellow is excited—do you know what excitement is?” Jimin meets them at eye level in the air. 

“They know about emotions,” Jungkook laughs. 

“What about pink?” Yoongi asks again. 

“That’s—” Jimin flies close to Yoongi’s hand to get a closer look at the dust. He tilts his head, lifts his finger to the side, inspecting every particle. 

Yoongi checks with Jungkook that this is okay, that it’s normal and fine for a pixie to be touching him. Jungkook only smiles and leans against the counter, watching gleefully as Jimin continues to astonish Yoongi and Hoseok just by existing near them. 

“Pink is love,” he says finally. 

“Aw,” Hoseok coos, “that’s adorable.”

“That’s not pink, though.” Jimin lifts Yoongi’s finger again to make sure he’s right. 

Unfortunately he is. It is hard to tell in the dim light from the setting sun, in the mix of other pastels and shimmers, but the dust on Yoongi’s hand is, upon closer inspection, decidedly not pink. 

“It looks pink,” Hoseok says, capturing Yoongi’s hand and looking closer. 

Yoongi brushes the dust on his pants. 

“It’s not pink,” Jimin says. “This is magenta—”

“Doesn’t the cafe close in like two hours?” Jungkook cuts in. He swipes Jimin out of the air and pulls him into his chest. “We should head out.”

“You’re right,” Yoongi says, “I forgot how early things close around here.”

Living on the coast has its perks and its downsides, one of those being how early the downtown area closes. In the winter, locally owned shops pack up by six p.m. to allow the owners enough daylight to walk or ride home. Unlike the busy city where he lived before, the nightlife dies down the minute the sky darkens, and the buses stop running at dusk. 

In most cases it would be inconvenient. For Jungkook and Jimin, it’s perfect. Jimin has the entire night sky to explore without having to worry about photography students and flashing signs catching on his wings. All he has to watch out for are hawks and seagulls and other air traffic.

Among all the things Jungkook has been paranoid about in regards to his relationships, his boyfriend being eaten by a hawk has never been as big a concern as it is now. He would be lying if he said there wasn’t some level of normalcy he missed. 

 

 


 

 

Humans are pack animals and they travel as such. Every human outside is accompanied by at least one other. Different sizes and ages of humans surround them and display rapidly changing emotions, some Jimin recognizes, and many he doesn’t. To learn and adapt, Jimin analyzes. 

When he steps out of the van he notices that the humans here move slowly. They walk with intention and don’t stop for any reason other than to allow other humans to pass in front of them. The humans that travel on two wheels speed by so quickly Jimin can’t hear anything form their hearts. 

Humans wear a variety of clothing that often seems impractical. There are humans in thin layers and pants cut off above the knee that would do nothing to protect them from the cold. Most wear scarves and round cotton hats similar to the ones worn by the humans with him, Jungkook included, and large coats dyed in patterns over varying textiles. Humans crave variety. No two are dressed the same. 

Down the hill from where they stopped in the van, crowds of humans gather around the boating dock where he and Jungkook sat the first time they did a kiss. Years of wind and rain has washed the road and wooden planks clean of dust. Unlike the last time they came here, these humans are aware of Jimin’s existence. None of them know who Doctor Yoon was, or who Seokjin is, or who Siyeon is, and it makes their experiences seem insignificant to Jimin despite each human having lived a life they perceive as momentous. 

Jimin has not seen this many humans at one time since he was trapped. This time, outside the glass, none of them so much as glance his way or pay him any attention aside from the one he cares about. Jungkook holds him close and guides him hand in hand behind Yoongi and Hoseok into a communal space where humans eat and drink together. Yoongi called it a cafe . The Magic Shoppe is also one of these cafes. 

Yoongi holds the door open for the rest of them to pass through and follows them into the heated and brightly lit area. Unlike the Magic Shoppe, this cafe is walled with windows and the space is larger on the inside. It operates in a similar fashion laid out in clusters of tables and chairs where packs of humans converse and drink together. 

Jimin pulls Jungkook into him and ducks his chin into his scarf when they are addressed by a human too cheery for their heart’s tune. 

“Take a seat anywhere! I’ll be right with you!” the human demands. 

Jimin already doesn’t like the way the human orders them or the way Jungkook, Yoongi, and Hoseok obey. Jungkook lets go of Jimin’s hand to remove his jacket and throw it over his arm. Jimin has no logical reason to be as worried as he does when he loses the grip, still he feels like a current is going to sweep him away into a crowd of unfamiliar humans and he will not be able to find Jungkook again. He latches onto Jungkook’s sleeve, narrowing his eyes at the humans whose eyes follow them. Most of their hearts ring indifference. Two humans behind a counter at the back of the room sound annoyed. One heart buzzes with excitement. The human who greeted them is no longer bored. 

“Sorry,” Jungkook whispers close to Jimin’s ear. “I didn’t expect it to be so crowded.”

“You shouldn’t feel guilt for not knowing,” Jimin says. “I don’t hate that it’s crowded.”

Jungkook told Jimin they can leave at any time if he feels the slightest discomfort. Jimin is eager to observe humans now that he is going to be living among them, so it works to Jimin’s advantage that Jungkook was wrong about the amount of humans they would see. Jimin starts observing patterns right away. 

“If it’s a problem we can go somewhere else,” Hoseok offers. Hoseok is more frightened than Yoongi, but he doesn’t show it. He masks his nervousness with high social volume and feigned eagerness, presumably projecting the energy from his anxiety into a charismatic charade. Jimin knows why he does it, but he can’t find a way to relate. 

“Yeah! There was that kebab stand we passed on the way over,” Yoongi adds. He is less expressive but more reliable than Hoseok with his emotions. He is not as excitable, just as scared. His hands still shake after the door closes behind them where the icy winter breeze no longer reaches them. 

“What is a kebab ?” Jimin asks. 

“You wouldn’t like it. Jimin doesn’t eat meat,” Jungkook says. “He said he doesn’t hate it here, so we have to believe him.” He smiles and squeezes Jimin’s hand as he pulls him toward a seating arrangement against one of the windows. 

“Are most people vegetarian where you’re from?” Hoseok slides in next to Yoongi on the cushioned bench. 

Jungkook guides Jimin into the same arrangement and nudges him to towards the window before sliding in himself and trapping Jimin between the window and his body. 

Jimin doesn’t have to ask before Jungkook clarifies, “Vegetarian means you don’t eat meat.”

“Most…” he scans the room for a word he can use, “ people eat meat at home,” Jimin says. “ People like me and a few others often eat fruit, or don’t not at all.” 

“Ah, fruitarian. Got it,” Hoseok says, as if he could ever understand anything from Jimin’s world. “What’s your favorite fruit, then?”

“I was unable to form a preference—” 

The human who stood in front of them at the entrance invases their space. Anticipation . It is unmatched by every other human in the same grey clothing fitted under what looks like the front half of a dress draped over their waste. From a pouch on the front of the half-dress, the human pulls out a stack of paper and removes a pen from where their hair is tied on top of their head. Jimin already does not like the way their eyes linger on him longer than the others. He keeps his head down, shoving his chin into his scarf, and waits for one of the humans to take care of the situation. 

“Do we need some menus, or are we ready to order?” the human asks with forced eagerness behind a disingenuous smile. 

“I know what I want,” Hoseok says. 

“Same,” Jungkook agrees. 

“Me too. Jimin?”

Jimin panics when Yoongi says his name. He has no desire to interact with the human standing over them, or any human at the table aside from Jungkook for that matter, until he can observe their behavior and adjust his accordingly. 

“We’ll take two peach teas—once iced—and two fruit tarts,” Jungkook says. 

“One tiramisu and a hot chocolate, please,” Hoseok adds. 

Tiramisu ,” Jimin mouths silently. He wants to ask Jungkook about their dialogue and what it all means. He can’t while the unfamiliar human is here. Jimin hears the scratch of a pen and looks up to see the human scribing without looking at the paper. 

“Perfect. And you?” they ask Yoongi directly. 

“I’ll have a tall iced mocha with hemp milk, no whip, and a slice of lemon meringue.” It is like Yoongi speaks a language that only he and the other human understand, as they nod and tap the side of the square of paper with their pen. 

“Great! Anything else?”

“I think that’s all. Thank you.” Jungkook offers a smile. 

Pride comes from the unfamiliar human as they leave them alone at last. 

“You okay?” Jungkook asks quietly. Concern should not be an issue of his. 

“I’m okay.”

“Are you sure? Your hands are sweating.” Jungkook disconnects their fingers and hands Jimin a paper square from a box that grows another identical square in its place after he offers it to Jimin. 

When Jimin doesn’t take it, not knowing what Jungkook wants him to do with it, Jungkook laughs and runs it over Jimin’s palm. The square dries Jimin’s hand completely and Jungkook rolls the paper into itself to form a ball and sets it at edge of the table against the wall. Jimin notes every detail so he knows what to do the next time his body creates sweat. 

“I didn’t know you eat tarts here,” Jimin says. They are among the most colorful dishes and taste sweet, despite their name. It only now occurs to Jimin that with his human pallette he will be able to appreciate the foods that some at home would consider a novelty the way those who are able to form preferences based on taste are able. 

“Humans probably have more in common with you than you think,” Hoseok says. His smile quickly drops. He freezes when he realizes he addressed them as humans , as if someone here is not one, when he sees panic is visible on his face and Jimin’s eyes widen.

Jungkook and Yoongi laugh together despite Hoseok’s and Jimin’s obvious discomfort. 

“Don’t worry, Jimin,” Yoongi says. “Even if anyone heard, him, no one cares.”

He is right—not a single heart sped at the mention. Jungkook is relaxed as ever, joyous if anything. 

“Sorry, I’ll be more careful with that,” Hoseok says.

“No, it’s… It’s fine." Jimin looks around. Not a single human reacted. "You know more about the culture here than I do,” it pains him to admit. 

Shock . It comes from Jungkook. 

“Did you just—hold on.” Jungkook turns Jimin by his shoulders to face him, studying his face, narrowing his eyes. “Could you repeat that?”

“I said that Hoseok knows more—”

Jungkook’s jaw drops, eyes alight. 

“What?” Jimin asks. 

“Yeah, what?” Hoseok folds his arms. “Is it that hard to believe I know a thing or two about the world I grew up in?”

“No, no, this is great. You do know more than he does. I’ve never heard Jimin admit it.”

“I…” admitted nothing gets caught in his throat. “I didn’t think about what I was saying.”

“Say you know more about humanity than Hoseok, then." Jungkook smirks. 

“You’re teasing me again.”

“I’m not teasing you. I’m daring you. Say that there is no way Hoseok could know more about us than you do.” Jungkook is not teasing him. He is as serious as ever. 

“Hey, wait a minute,” Hoseok protests. 

"No, I want to hear him say it too.” Yoongi leans closer over the table.

Jimin sinks into his seat under the pressure of their gazes. “I know…” He tries again, “I studied you so I know…” He searches every word he knows in human languages trying to find a way to tell them that he does know more. When he can’t, he tries to think of a way to phrase it so they at least believe he does. “I have more knowledge about…” 

Frustration. Shame. Jimin hates these two. 

Jungkook gasps. Elation . “I never thought I'd see the day.” Delight . Hearing it from Jungkook makes Jimin feel less negative about his inability to complete his request—his dare. “Jimin, do you know what that’s called?”

“I don’t know what you want me to say.”

"Character development."

"I didn't develop anything." Jimin looks tucks his chin into his scarf again and turns his shoulders away from the rest of the humans to look at the seagulls out the window. 

“This is the best day of my life.” Jungkook slides his phone across the table. It stops at Hoseok’s chest. “Quick, take a picture!” 

A white light flashes that leaves Jimin blinking out dark spots that invade his vision like he looked directly at a sun like Hye for too long. Jungkook beams at his phone while Yoongi laughs over his hand and Hoseok looks just as confused as Jimin. 

“Did I miss something? Is somebody going to fill me in?” Hoseok asks for the both of them. 

“Jimin can’t lie, remember?” Yoongi says, as if it should be obvious. How he knows is a mystery to Jimin. “Remember when Jungkook was crying on our couch about how much he missed him—”

“Hey—” Jungkook interjects. 

“—and how much he missed Jimin’s arrogance? How he missed that Jimin thought he knew everything because humans are stupid and less evolved?”

“I never said that outloud,” Jimin argues. 

“Of course I remember—oh!” Hoseok gasps. “Congrats, Kook!” 

“Jungkook, what’s happening?” Jimin tugs his sleeve. Jungkook is lost in his phone’s screen while he pulls the image on the surface towards him to enlargen Jimin’s neutral expression. 

“Thanks, Hobi,” Jungkook says, still staring at his phone. 

Jimin is being ignored. Hoseok and Yoongi are happier than he has heard them before, and Jimin cannot keep up. 

“Sorry about the wait!” The human who keeps visiting them invades their space again. “I’ve got your teas here…” The invasive human bumps a cart covered in a floor-length white cloth against the edge of the table and slides two beverages in front of Jungkook, who passes the steaming cup to Jimin’s side of the table. “And a hot chocolate for you.” They smile easily, ignoring the way Jimin glares. “And a mocha with no whip for you. I’ll be right back with the pastries!” The human tugs their tray back in the direction they came. 

Jimin remembers the way Jungkook conversed with humans at the shop with rodents and fish and other prisoners humans claim as companions. He was collected and confident then as he is now, though as much as Jimin trusts Jungkook, it would be unwise to put his faith in all of Jungkook’s instincts over his own. Without the ability to hear intentions, humans betray each other easily. 

“Hey,” Jungkook holds Jimin’s leg from bouncing, “don’t get scary. That human is probably not feeling whatever you’re thinking. They don’t want to hurt anyone.”

Jimin doesn’t get to protest before their conversation is again interrupted. Anticipation as the human returns with four dishes and four identical cloth scrolls that clank against the table. This time they leave without a word. 

“Just drink your tea,” Jungkook says quiet enough for only Jimin to hear. He sounds worried, but not for himself like he should be. “If you don’t like it we can get you something else.”

“I’m not concerned about the tea. I think that human is unsafe to be around. They won’t leave us alone and they aren’t approaching any other humans.” 

“That’s because they’re waiting on us right now. It’s their job. I did that same thing for years before I met you.”

“You’re different.” Jimin isn’t sure what he means by different . There are many ways in which Jungkook is different from other humans. In this context it could mean anything, so he doesn’t elaborate. 

Jungkook rolls his eyes, dismissive. “We’re all safe with you, aren’t we? You’re strong enough to fend off one human if they try anything. Or are there any more revelations you’ve come to that you’d like to admit?” Jungkook lowers his voice and says with a fairy-like grin, “You were wrong about knowing more about humans than us, so are you sure you’re still stronger than a human too?” 

Sarcasm. Hoseok and Yoongi react to the joke. Yoongi smiles through a bite of what he called meringue and Hoseok chuckles into his cup. 

Jimin wants to participate in their joke. “ You’re safe with me,” he says to Jungkook, then he glances pointedly at Yoongi, a fake mischievous smirk tugging the corners of his lips. If Jungkook would be upset to see them hurt, Jimin will do anything he needs to make sure they are unharmed. But Yoongi doesn’t need to know that yet. 

“Wait, I don’t like that tone you took.” Fear . Yoongi fell for it. “You all saw that, right? Jungkook, your alien boyfriend is plotting to kill me.” He swerves his head between Jungkook and Hoseok and avoids Jimin’s eyes. “You all saw that, right?” 

Jimin asks. “I said you’re safe with me. Why are you scared?”

“Yoongi, stop letting him play mind games with you. It gets to his head,” Jungkook says. He sips around the ice floating in his cup and stirs the pink from the bottom with his straw.

Jimin smirks into his scarf. He got the reaction he wanted and it was as fun to hear Yoongi’s momentary fear as he thought it would be.

“And Jimin, you have to find a better way of playing tricks on people that doesn’t involve their death.” 

No, Jimin doesn’t, and he won’t, but Jungkook doesn’t need to know that. 

“Aren’t pi—” Hoseok catches himself. “Aren’t people like Jimin supposed to play pranks? Isn’t that kind of in their description?”  

“I’m not supposed to do anything.”

Jungkook laughs over his straw. His heart sounds content. “Drink.” He pushes Jimin’s cup into his chest. 

Jimin sips from the steaming mug that warms his entire body from his palms. The tea is sweet like the kind Siyeon makes, though not as calming. There is no stardust in this tea. When he looks up, every human at the table is paying close attention to him, expectant. 

Anticipation again, this time from Yoongi. Wonder is the loudest in Hoseok’s heart. Adoration from Jungkook’s. 

"Why are you looking at me?"

“Because you’re adorable,” Jungkook says, ruffling Jimin’s hair into his eyes, and suddenly all of Jimin’s animosity for their environment turns to pride at the endearment in Jungkook’s heart. “Drink, before it gets cold.” 

Jimin listens and sips his tea. 

“Incredible,” Hoseok whispers. “How did you tame a—a Jimin?”

“I’m not tamed—” 

“With affection and ice cream cake. Sometimes nature documentaries.”

 

 


 

 

After Jungkook says his goodbyes outside the forest and they are in their home within the safety of the bluebells, Jimin shrugs off his jacket and lifts his shirt to free his wings. The shirt he is wearing has no cuts in the back to let them free, so he lifts is high enough for him to unwrap his torso. He winces after aving them plastered to himself for so long they grew stiff against his skin. 

“Easy,” Jungkook coaxes, holding the back of Jimin’s shirt up. “Don’t hurt yourself.”

Jimin bites his lip, presses his eyes shut tight as he slowly unveils his wings. Like his human arms and legs, if they remain in one position for too long, it hurts more to unravel them than it does to keep them where they are. Jungkook helps guide them, brushing the edges between his fingers and lets Jimin stretch out at his own slow pace. 

“Do you want to sit down?” 

“No. Almost there.” Jimin’s voice is weak as he tries to mask the pain. 

Jungkook pulls his shirt up higher to accommodate their length until it is all the way at his neck. Jimin pulls his shirt off completely from the front and drops to let his wings spring free entirely. When Jungkook bends to pick up his shirt they collide with Jungkook’s face.

“Ow,” Jungkook gasps.  

“Sorry,” Jimin giggles. 

Once they are at their full length spread so wide they take up half the room, Jimin rolls his shoulders and relaxes. He buzzes them loosen them fully until the pain has subsided and he can move freely again. 

“Why is it yellow?” Jungkook asks.

Jimin turns around to a cloud of his own dust that he hadn’t realized was there. Behind it, Jungkook waves the cloud until it disperses, then pulls Jimin to the couch. 

“It’s yellow because had fun,” Jimin says. “You’re feeling excited too.” 

Jungkook turns on the TV to an array of documentaries listed on the screen and pulls Jimin onto his lap. Jimin lands uncomfortably with his leg bent at an awkward angle under him when Jungkook lays against the side of the couch. He sits up to readjust, but Jungkook holds him in place. 

“Don’t go,” Jungkook says. He is close enough to Jimin’s hear that he can feel his breath on his skin. It is not only excitement Jungkook feels, Jimin realizes. A similar tune but deeper. The tune changed when Jimin dropped his shirt. Jungkook is thinking about sex already. They have only been alone for a few minutes. 

“I’m not going anywhere.” Jimin continues to reposition. Instead of settling with his back against Jungkook’s chest like he was going to he turns to face him with his knees on either side of Jungkook. 

Jimin feels it too—the specific kind of excitement that he only feels alone with Jungkook. The kind that makes his pink dust darken. Jungkook’s hands run up Jimin’s side and around his back to rest at the base of his wings

“Good,” he says. “You’re right where I want you.” He smiles up at Jimin as he loses a plume of dust. The color is only visible in the light of the silent TV.  “Don’t get too excited.” Jungkook brushes dust out of Jimin’s hair. “Maybe I just wanted to cuddle.”

“That’s not what you’re feeling,” Jimin argues, pressing his hand over Jungkook’s heart. They don’t stay that way for too long. Jungkook moves Jimin’s arms so they rest on his shoulders to bring him closer, tilting his head up so their lips are almost touching. 

“It’s not?” he asks. 

Jimin wishes he would just kiss him already. He didn’t know he would have to explain to Jungkook what his own feelings mean. 

“You want to kiss me right now,” he says. 

The kiss is light and quick. 

“Is that all?” Jungkook asks. 

Jimin shakes his head. “You also want to have sex.”

Jungkook feigns surprise. “Wait, really? How can you tell?” 

Even though they both know the answer, pretending makes Jungkook happy, and Jimin is willing to play along. 

“It’s not just your heart.” Jimin leans against Jungkook’s chest and presses his hips into his lap. “I can feel it under me.”

Jungkook’s eyes squeeze shut and he gasps, then smiles into another quick kiss.

“Are we really about to do it on the couch?” he asks. 

“Do what?” Jimin asks even though knows. “By it do you mean have a discussion about using my dust to make you stronger and live as long as me?” 

“You’re cute,” Jungkook says. It carries a different tone than usual. His smile is forced. 

“So you’re ready to talk about—” Jungkook cuts him off with a kiss. “We need to talk about—” Again, Jimin loses his words to Jungkook. He leans in and kisses back with the same enthusiasm. 

“Okay,” Jungkook holds Jimin’s head in place to break the kiss. “Let’s talk—” 

Jimin doesn’t let him finish, smiling into their kiss when Jungkook gives in and cups Jimin’s cheeks to angle their faces together perfectly. After only disconnecting their lips for a moment, Jungkook lifts Jimin off his lap and pushes him up the stairs to their bed. At the top, eyes closed as they kiss and distracted by Jungkook’s hands wandering his back and his wings, Jimin only realizes they have been moving in the wrong direction away from the bed when the edges of his wings brush the wall. They press flat against his back as Jungkook pushes him against itl. 

Desire for something specific rings over everything else in his heart. Jungkook pulls Jimin’s leg up to hold it at his waist to lessen the distance between them. Softly, he presses his hips upwards against Jimin’s front, eliciting the feeling that turns his dust magenta and stiffens his leggings. 

“Wait,” Jungkook whispers, letting go of Jimin’s leg right when he starts to feel Jungkook’s dick against his abdomen. 

A whine escapes before Jimin knows it is coming. He does not want to wait , and Jungkook doesn’t sound like he really does either. 

“Wall sex is great but I want you on the bed right now.” 

Jimin makes it only one step past Jungkook before he is forcefully spun around. His wings flare to stay balanced, but he falls anyways and lands on his back on the bed. 

Lust . Jungkook’s lust rings loud in Jimin’s ears and he complies with his human desire to let Jungkook take control of both their bodies. He relaxes his mind without focussing on what he thinks would be an appropriate response and lets his body naturally fall how it wants to. 

He leans his head back and open his legs for Jungkook to push between. He learned about this particular reaction in mammal reproduction rituals— submission . The exhilaration from the tumble combined with Jungkook in a predatory position that makes Jimin’s body react in submission. The way Jungkook’s heart deepens with his voice, the way his eyes stay locked on Jimin’s, the way he pushes Jimin all the way onto the bed and follows until he covers Jimin’s body with his own, Jimin recognizes his body language as an act of dominance unlike the first time, when Jungkook was more patient and confused than anything. 

“Can you put it inside me again?” Jimin blurts, not knowing where it came from, just knowing that it is what his instincts wanted. 

Jungkook breaks out of his intense expression and the lust in his heart disappears, replaced with the sound of laughter and fluttering harp tune. The desire is still there, but less so, drowned out by his amusement. Though it is subtle, Jimin can pick out the parts of Jungkook that have been altered by time. His harp is more even with a steadier rhythm. His face has not changed much, though more is covered by his hair that grown in waves of deep brown the color of a darkwood forest. He is wider at the shoulders and his arms and torso are more firm. Jimin can feel the difference when Jungkook collapses on top of Jimin and buries his face against the crook of Jimin’s neck. His hair brushes Jimin’s cheek and makes him flinch at the soft, pleasant feeling, like a feather has grazed his skin. Jungkook’s front bounces against his own the way humans do when they laugh. 

Not wanting to be left out of an opportunity to experience the same amusement, Jimin brushes his fingers through Jungkook’s and asks, “What’s funny?”

 Jungkook leans away. Too far away. “You are,” he says.

“I wasn’t doing sarcasm or joking. It was a serious question.”

“I know it was. I just think it’s funny that someone with so much power and knowledge and experience in multiple dimensions who has lived infinitely longer than I have and, apparently, killed numbers of people, and can make things explode with the snap of his fingers, and has tried to kill me more than once, and can fly —” Jungkook runs his hand along the upper edge of Jimin’s wing against the blankets. “I forgot where I was going with this.”

“You think I’m being funny,” Jimin reminds him. 

“Oh, right. I just think it’s funny that someone like you can be so innocent while so eager and it’s…it’s refreshing.”

A hint of sorrow surfaces beneath Jungkook’s amusement. Jimin needs to rid him of it. Reassurance usually works. 

“I also think you’re funny when you switch from dominance to amusement so quickly.” 

It worked. Love is, by far, Jimin’s favorite. 

“I don’t even know where to begin with what you just said.” 

Jungkook kisses him hard in a way that halts all Jimin’s questions. He tightens his fingers in Jungkook’s hair as his whole body tenses. Jungkook moans loudly, vibrating through his entire upper body. He scrapes Jimin’s bottom lip with his teeth at the same time before quickly pulling back, panting. 

“Warn me next time, okay?” Jungkook says as he catches his breath. Something in their kiss made Jungkook’s body react. Jimin can feel it pressing against his thigh. 

“You liked that a lot.” Jimin wets his lips and stares at front of Jungkook’s pants where he has grown. 

“Sorry,” Jungkook covers his front with his hand. “I didn’t expect you to pull my hair. That’s kind of one of my…” He starts to move away from Jimin. 

Jimin mourns the loss of his warmth when Jungkook sits up between Jimin’s legs, reaching for him to return. “It’s okay. I don’t mind it. I’m also…that way.” Jimin rests his palm over the front of his leggings. 

“Turned on?” Jungkook asks. He applies pressure over Jimin’s hand and rubs up and back down in a way that makes Jimin lift his hips into the touch, then Jungkook laughs and says, “I’m going to need you to learn what all this is called. Otherwise you sound like a kid and I can’t think of a bigger turn off.”

Turn off in this context must be the opposite of turned on , which he used to refer to the way his body reacted. 

“Is turned off what you felt when I asked about Seokjin last time?”

“Shit, Jimin. It’s like you’re trying to make this awkward. He’s the biggest turn off in the world.”

“You just said sounding like a kid was the biggest turn off. You contradicted yourself.”

“It’s called hyperbole. Let’s forget about this and go back to the part where I teach you the way adults refer to this, okay?” 

“Okay,” Jimin agrees through a puff of yellow. He wants to learn equally as much as he wants to experience sex again. It feels so good that he wonders why humans are not in a constant state of chasing the feeling. “Can you teach me while we have sex?” Everything is magenta. Pure lust. He does not want it to stop. 

Jungkook feels it too. Jimin’s proposition makes him excited in the same way. Turned on. 

“That’s the sexiest idea you’ve ever had. I can do that.” 

Jungkook climbs back on top of him, positioning his legs on either side of Jimin’s as he sits on his lap. The pressure almost hurts. The word pleasure comes into his mind and as he shudders an involuntary sound slips past his lips. 

“First of all,” he cups Jimin through his leggings, “you call this a dick.” Jimin figured that out the first time they had sex. “Or cock, or length. And when it’s hard—that’s the word for when it gets longer, by the way. When it’s hard and you're in a sexy mood it’s also called an erection, or hard on, or boner. And under it is…” Jungkook slides his hand lower, “those are your balls.”. 

“What do you want me to call it when we have sex?”

“Cock is fine,” he says quietly. “Dick is okay too. Whatever you’re comfortable with, actually.”  Jungkook stops groping him, instead sliding Jimin’s leggings down to expose his cock completely. 

Something like confidence rings in his heart when he scoots back and leans down so his breath ghosts over his stomach and the tip of his cock. Jimin thinks he might put his mouth on his dick again. It was one of his favorite parts about having sex. There is a growing smirk on Jungkook’s face when he looks up at Jimin. Instead of taking him all the way in his mouth like last time, Jungkook kisses up the length, only sucking the tip past his lips before he pulls back completely.

Jimin’s hips follow involuntarily but Jungkook’s grip on them is firm. 

“Still okay?” Jungkook asks. Jimin finds his hesitance cute. 

“Yes. Please, I…” Jimin doesn’t know what to ask for. “I want to feel you all over.” 

“We’ll get there.” Jungkook presses his lips against Jimin’s neck at the curve of his jaw. Jimin throws his head back and gasps when Jungkook scrapes his skin with his teeth and uses his tongue to sooth the bite. 

Jimin has seen this behavior before. Because the jugular vein is located in the neck, it is where vampires prefer to drink from to consume the most blood they can in the least amount of time. Wolves bite their mate’s neck to secure a bond. Snakes sink their teeth into the neck to inject their venom. When Jungkook does it his bite does not break skin, and Jimin still has all his blood, so he stays relaxed. 

“This is called a hickey,” Jungkook whispers directly into Jimin’s ear. He doesn’t stay there long enough, moving back to Jimin’s neck. He sucks Jimin’s skin as if he is trying to suck out his blood, biting and licking with no specific pattern. 

Each movement has Jimin gripping his hands in Jungkook’s shirt against his chest. He did not know how well he would respond to the idea of being eaten from his neck until he grows harder. He can’t help the way his hips snap up. When his cock meets Jungkook’s abdomen, Jungkook smiles against his neck. 

“And that’s called grinding,” he says over Jimin’s ear. He grows even more sensitive when Jungkook grinds back, applying pressure directly on Jimin’s cock. 

Jungkook sits up and backs up Jimin’s body until he is on his lap again, angled forward so when Jimin grind up he rubs against Jungkook’s own dick through his pants. The fabric is abrasive and in the way, and Jimin wants it off now. 

“Are you going to teach me more?” Jimin asks. “I want to see you without clothes again.” 

Jungkook appears calm and collected even though his heart rate is rapid, his cock presses hard against his pants, and he is starting to breathe heavy. He loses both layers of pants and his shirt and tosses them over the side of the bed. Jimin’s legs fall further apart and he is unable to think about anything aside from what it felt like to have it inside him. 

“Wow,” Jungkook says, looking everywhere on Jimin’s body but his face, “I can’t believe…”

“Can’t believe what?”

Wonder. Elation

“I can’t believe I get to see you again. And after all this time, you still want to be with me.” A hint of sorrow crowds his positive emotions. 

Jimin is about to argue that it has not been that long, that a few days should mean nothing to a human who lives for hundreds of calendar years. The words catch in his throat and are unable to pass his lips when he remembers their different experiences. A few days might not mean much to a human. More than two years, as he has learned, is a more than significant portion of their lifetimes. Jimin missed out on two whole years of Jungkook’s extremely limited lifetime. 

“Sorry for ruining the mood,” Jungkook says. “I just got distracted. You’re so beautiful, and I thought I would never get to see you again, and you’re here, and we were having sex, and I was about to teach you about nipple play, and then I ruined it, and I’m sorry.” 

“It’s okay. You haven’t done anything wrong. What’s nipple play?”

Desire returns. 

“You remember our safeword?” Jungkook asks. 

“Magic Shoppe,” Jimin confirms. 

“And you’ll tell me if I’m making you uncomfortable? Even a little?”

“I told you I would. You’ll tell me too, right?”

Jungkook laughs. “You’d be able to hear it anyways. But yes, I will. Sex is supposed to be fun but it’s only fun when everyone is enjoying it.”

“I am enjoying it. I want to learn more.”  

“So, nipple play.” Jungkook brushes his hands under Jimin’s pectorals, pressing upwards as he swirls his thumbs under Jimin’s nipples where he is, apparently, going to play . “Some people like it and some people don’t, so it’s okay if it does nothing for you.”

“Do you like it?” 

“I like everything. Well, no, not everything. But most of the basics, yes. What I mean is, yes, I like it on both ends.” He sounds nervous as he tries to get as many words out as quick as possible. “I usually like giving, but sometimes being on the receiving end feels nice too. As long as my partner is enjoying it.” 

Jimin arches his back as the feeling of Jungkook’s lips on his chest. He licks over Jimin’s nipple, massaging the other with his thumb. 

“Again?” Jimin breathes. 

Jimin doesn’t have to see Jungkook’s face to know how he smirks, he can feel it against his skin. The sensation makes Jimin harder. Jimin needs something to grind against to relieve the hurt and Jungkook isn’t close enough, so he holds his own dick and rubs himself the way Jungkook does. 

After one more open-mouth kiss over his nipple, Jungkook pulls away to watch Jimin grind into his own hand. At the way he stares, the way the harp in his heart speeds, Jimin feels pride . He smiles when Jimin smiles, and it turns into a laugh of pure bliss. 

“Keep teaching me.” Jimin stops grinding into his hand to let Jungkook take control again. “I’m having fun.”

Jungkook eyes Jimin’s body. Lust , the strongest form, rings in his heart. Excitement. Anticipation

“I’m going to show you rimming next. It’s also called eating someone out.” 

“You’re going to eat me,” Jimin repeats. Somehow, the thought is not as intimidating as it would be coming from a snake or a wolf. If it is Jungkook, he trusts him, and based on Jungkook’s heart, the way it pounds with excitement and desire, Jimin guesses the term eating out is another way in which humans have secret, second definitions for words, like a code. 

“I won’t actually eat you,” Jungkook laughs. “Eating out is when you sort of, like, lick and suck on someone’s, uh, hole. Whatever they have down here. It’s also called an entrance. The inside is sometimes called your walls.” He brushes his fingers where he entered Jimin. 

“Is it like a hickey?”

“It’s the same idea. Rimming is specifically when you eat someone’s ass. And you have a great ass,” he adds, reaching around Jimin’s hips to squeeze the fat and muscle humans refer to as an ass

The compliment sends oranges and pinks into the pile of magenta and yellow. His wings flutter against the sheets. He never realized how sensitive his nerves are there or how touching him would make Jungkook’s heart burst with excitement. 

“It’ll work best if you’re on your hands and knees,” Jungkook says. 

Jimin rolls over and pushes onto his knees and looks over his shoulder. He parts his wings and angles them down to accommodate Jungkook, who looks like he wants to actually eat him. The way he parts and massages Jimin’s ass makes his knees weak and his dick hurt the good kind of hurt that he only feels with Jungkook. 

Jungkook licks his lips before leaning so his face is hidden by Jimin’s body. Jungkook covers Jimin’s hole with his tongue pressed flat and Jimin loses his strength, his elbows collapsing and wings buzzing at the same time. When his arms give out he is held up by the gust. He doesn’t expect the hand on his back between them that presses him back into the bed, this time falling onto his elbows and face into the pillow, and yelps when he bounces on the bed. 

Over the resounding buzz floats Jungkook’s laughter. “I knew that would happen,” he chuckles. “Try to keep the take-off to a minimum, hummingbird.” 

Hummingbird . A species of fauna not exclusive to Terra but not often found in other realms. Hummingbirds are as large as a pixie and can flap their wings at half the speed, an incredible feat for an avian no matter the realm. Jimin nearly corrects him, tell him that he is nothing like a bird, but the connotation in his tone, the way his voice grew lower it sounded like a kind of compliment. 

Jimin couldn’t say anything if he wanted to the way his throat tightens and all that passes his lips is a sound he makes involuntarily when Jungkook presses his tongue flat against Jimin’s hole before dragging upwards so the tip of his tongue flicks into him and his lower lip catches on the rim. 

Rimming , Jungkook called it. Jimin thinks he understands now. He begins to understand the other term Jungkook used for it— eating out —when Jungkook slides his lips around his entrance the way he does when he kisses Jimin and sucks him in like he were giving him a hickey. Jimin does his best to keep his wings steady, but he can’t cut his focus between controlling them and how incredible it feels to have Jungkook’s mouth on him. He loses agency over his wings and his vocal chords and falls into a state of instinct where he doesn’t analyze what he feels or why he feels that way. He can’t even bring himself to pay attention to Jungkook’s heart to observe what makes him feel better. 

Jimin’s eyes squeeze shut on their own and his fists ball the sheets around his head. His forehead presses into the pillow and his legs fall open. He gives Jungkook control and trusts him to keep him where he needs to be while he loses himself to the feeling of Jungkook playing with his tongue around his rim. With one hand on his ass tethering him to the bed and the other around his thigh holding him up, Jungkook continues to work his tongue over his entrance. He opens and closes his lips around his rim in a rhythm Jimin matches grinding backwards into his mouth. 

Jungkook’s nose rubs above where his tongue works in gently. His hair falls over the side and brushes feather light against his ass where his skin is sensitive, making Jimin tense and clench around Jungkook’s tongue. He smirks through Jimin’s reaction—Jimin can feel the way his lips widen against his skin and feel his breath blow hot over him. 

Jimin’s back straightens and his knuckles loosen around the sheets when the heat is lost and Jungkook’s palm presses flat against his back between his wings. Other times the gesture is comforting and warm, but now it makes Jimin feel weak and even more turned on. 

“Jimin?”

Jimin hums and leans his whole body back to chase the loss of heat. He wants Jungkook to go back to eating him out. 

“Hummingbird?” 

Jimin moans. “W-What?” he manages. 

Jungkook’s laughter is deep, like when he teases Jimin, but lower. The mattress dips when Jungkook shifts onto his knees and leans all the way over Jimin’s back with his chest pressing his wings flatter and his cock against Jimin’s ass. Ji