They left their worries in the Galaxy.
The first thing they noticed as they stepped out onto the untouched soil, were the colours. Seokjin couldn’t help but gasp, Taehyung stepping away from the door, slowly turning, taking in everything around them with wide amazed eyes.
Blues, reds, greens, purples, pinks, every colour they could think of surrounded them in the shapes of flowers, a field of plants that stretched on before them, curving down a long slopping hill towards a cluster of trees. The trees branches twisted like corkscrews, silver leaves that shimmered in the light breeze. In the distance was a river winding and twisting out of sight, a fog nestled in the valley’s lowest points. Mountain’s broke up the horizon, reaching up to kiss the deep lavender coloured sky and reach towards the bright sun that hovered above them.
Hoseok crouched down and gently brushed his fingers over a flower, it’s petals a deep red but when he twisted it towards the sun it looked gold. He touched it delicately, not wanting to cause any damage to a single thing in this world. It was Jungkook’s.
“I’ve never seen these plants before, the gem’s magic created entirely new species!” Hoseok said excitedly. “They’re so healthy too, there’s no pollution or toxins in the air.”
“It’s… perfect,” Seokjin said quietly, eyes watering. Namjoon put a gentle hand on his shoulder and gave him a soft understanding smile.
Taehyung closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around himself, feeling the breeze in his hair, against his face. “It feels like him. Like Jungkookie.”
The others had to agree. This world felt calm, gentle, kind, but there was an underlying fierceness to it. The protectiveness that Taehyung had felt when Jungkook stepped in front of him when the boy at the school had caused trouble. This world seemed to recognize them. It seemed to wrap around them in a way that suggested no harm would come to them here. It was safe here.
“The positive magic is just as potent as it is in the Galaxy. I didn’t feel any shift in my energy,” Namjoon observed, watching a flock of strange birds fly by. It was more then that though. They could all feel the presence of negative energy as well. Unlike what they were used too, the energy didn’t make them feel sick, didn’t cause a chill, or any fear. It was calm, as if the positive energy was keeping it tame. Just the same, the positive energy was less obvious, more subtle and discrete. It felt balanced.
Yoongi seemed to get over his awe of the world the quickest and Jimin looked at him with a frown when the phoenix began to look around him as if searching for something. “This isn’t right,” he heard the man mumble, growing more desperate as his eyes searched the area.
Jimin stepped towards him, “Yoongi? What is it?”
The others looked over at the concern in the Fae’s voice.
Yoongi ran both his hands through his hair, pausing a moment to grip it tightly before throwing his hands down, turning every which way, “There’s supposed to- he’s supposed to be here.”
Namjoon frowned, the others trading heartbroken looks. “Yoongi… love…” he reached a hand out to him but Yoongi stepped out of reach.
“No! You don’t- you don’t understand! He’s supposed to be here!” He was shouting now, his bangs falling in his eyes slightly. “Jungkook!” He cupped his hands around his mouth and called out across the field, “JUNGKOOK!”
“Yoongi! Enough!” Seokjin stepped forward, and took the others arm. “He’s gone love, he’s been gone for months, you know that!”
“We have to trust him! He told me- to trust him,” Yoongi grit his teeth, a few tears escaping his watery eyes. “That’s what you said right Kookie?!” He yelled out again, waiting for the boy to pop out of nowhere and show himself. “You told me to trust you even when you were dead and gone right?! I trust you! So please! I can’t- I can’t keep hoping for you to come home!”
Jimin clamped his eyes shut and turned his head away, trying to hold back his tears.
“I can’t keep- keep hoping anymore…” Yoongi sobbed, voice dying out as Seokjin pulled him against his chest. Yoongi gripped the orders shirt and buried his face against his chest, sobbing. “It hurts, Jinnie.”
Seokjin put a hand on the back of his head, keeping him close, heart weeping at his lover’s pain. It was a pain they’d all gotten familiar with over the last little while.
“He said- he said there was always hope, but I’m losing it. I’m losing it and I’m scared. I can’t see the hope any-anymore,” Yoongi cried.
“It’s okay to lose hope Yoongi,” Taehyung said, lip quivering slightly. “It’s okay to be scared. Hope isn’t a one time thing, if you’ve lost it right now, you just have to find it again later. You just have to look for it,” Taehyung said, tears in his eyes but a smile on his face as he crouched down to pick a flower that was a gorgeous sky blue. He walked over to them and gently tucked the floor behind Yoongi’s ear before wiping his tears away with his thumbs. “And you don’t have to look alone right?”
Yoongi searched his eyes for a moment before sniffing and nodding, taking over and wiping at his eyes, “R-right.” He said wetly.
Hoseok came over and kissed Yoongi’s temple gently, giving Taehyung a small proud smile. Namjoon smiled calmly and gave Jimin’s hand a squeeze as the younger slid beside him to hug his arm and hold his hand.
They took one last look at the world around them in silence.
“Let come back to explore another day,” Jimin suggested.
Namjoon hummed and nodded. “Baby steps. We’ll take this slow.”
All agreeing, they made their way back through the door to the Galaxy, Yoongi looking over his shoulder all the while.
They had to be gentle with this world.
They had to be gentle with themselves.
They didn’t go back the next day. Or the day after that.
They wanted to be sure they wouldn’t harm any of the life there but they still wanted to research it and take samples. New species would need new names and they needed to record all of their findings.
They spent those days getting supplies. Namjoon finding some empty notebooks to write observations in, they needed sample vials and gloves (in case anything was poisonous) and all kinds of other things they think they might need for future research.
Hoseok thought about it while he was walking to the clearing on the third morning since the door unlocked. They didn’t need to check if it was still open any more but they were in such a habit of doing it, that they felt it wasn’t a bad thing to double check.
They were all so eager for a distraction and now they had one that would take lifetimes to study, one that would make them feel closer to Jungkook as they did.
Maybe that was what Jungkook had left for them. He remembered the boy had once worried about them forgetting him, especially given their lifespans. It was an understandable fear, and it had been one Hoseok had worried about too. He would never forget Jungkook himself. The things he did and said and the impact he had on them would forever be in his mind.
But the little things faded with time. The sound of his voice, his laugh, the shine in his eyes, his little habits, his scent and the way he moved, had already become so hard to remember that he knew in a few more months he wouldn’t be able too.
It made him a little sad, but he couldn’t be too upset when he just needed to step through an impossible door to feel like Jungkook was right by his side again.
Hoseok paused, eyes landing on Jungkook’s door to the human world. He held such a fondness for that door. It had always been right where they needed it to be.
His eyes drifted to the purple tinted door and he straightened up, staring in shock.
The door was wide open.
Jimin hummed to himself quietly, standing behind the counter in the Magic Shop and going through the inventory. With all the talk of exploring Jungkook’s world, Jimin thought they should start looking at opening up the shop once more. All of the product hadn’t been touched since they’d closed so a lot of it needed to be thrown out.
Jimin huffed as he emptied another vial into the scraps bin. He’d burn it up later to use the waste for another potion.
It felt strange to be working again as if everything was returning to normal.
“Jiminie do we have any more Bay Leaf? I couldn’t find any in the storage,” Taehyung said walking into the room. He stopped on the other side of the counter and looked at the products his lover had splayed out on the surface. “Ew, what did this used to be?”
Jimin looked up at the vial Taehyung held and blinked. “Only the Guardian knows,” he shook his head and turned to the piece of paper he’d been making notes on. “I think we’re out of Bay Leaf, we’ll have to get more. Could you check for Lumi-bark?”
“Kiss first,” Taehyung hummed and set the vial down, leaning slightly over the counter. Jimin chuckled and walked over, leaning over to meet him halfway. He kissed him gently, lingering for a moment before pulling away and giving him a peck on the nose. Taehyung grinned and laughed. “I’m on it!”
Jimin shook his head in amusement, watching his lover head back to the storage room again.
He picked up all the still usable vials and carried them over to the shelf. Standing on his toes, he reached up to put them away gently.
There was a knock at the door.
Gasping, a vial slipped from Jimin’s hands and he scrambled to catch it, barely managing too before it hit the ground. Sighing in relief he reached up once more to put it away but slowed.
A memory struck him then. A fond memory.
Shaking his head he stepped away from the shelf and wiped his hands on his pants, heading to the door just as there was another insistent knock. “Madam Hyunri, I told you we aren’t going to be open for another-”
It wasn’t Madam Hyunri who stood on the other side of the door when he opened it.
It wasn’t a sweet little old lady who liked to bring them pastries.
Jimin simultaneously felt his heart stop and rise to his throat as his eyes traced over the person before him.
Neither boy said anything for a long moment.
They both took each other in.
He was beautiful. Despite that his hair was now blonde, and shorter than it was, it still looked just as soft. He would recognize his dark eyes, his nose, his lips, his beautiful tan skin anywhere. His chest was heaving, his breathing quick as if he had been running.
His voice, oh guardian above, his beautiful captivating smooth voice. Jimin sucked in a breath.
This wasn’t… this couldn’t be real. How could this be real? He must have inhaled a bad ingredient. He was hallucinating.
Jungkook licked his lips and stepped towards him, a hand reaching out tentatively. Jimin couldn’t move, his feet locked to the floor. He watched Jungkook (this couldn’t really be him, this couldn’t be real) hesitate to brush the tips of his fingers against his cheek. This couldn’t be Jungkook.
This couldn’t be-
The moment he felt his skin against his own it was as if an electric shock shot through him, awakening every cell in his body, releasing him from his stupor. Jimin sobbed before tears even fell, searching Jungkook’s eyes, grabbing the boys hand with both of his own and pressing his palm against his cheek desperately.
The way Jungkook’s shoulders sagged, the way he let out a half sob half laugh as tears came to his own eyes, the way he held out his other arm in offering, it was him. It was him. He was really there in front of Jimin.
Jimin slammed into him hard enough to knock them back out onto the porch, hugging his lost lover fiercely. He wailed against his chest, loudly and unabashed. It had been so long, so long since he felt the boy against him, felt his arms around him, heard his voice. Jimin couldn’t stop moving his hands, wanting to be impossibly closer to the other.
He was confused, he was scared, he was relieved and he dared to let himself hope this was real.
“I’m so sorry Minnie, I’m so sorry,” Jungkook was saying through his own tears, his hand resting on the back of his head the other around his waist. “I’m here sweetheart, it’s me.”
The nickname only served to make him cry so hard he was practically screaming, clawing at his shirt. Only Jungkook could know that nickname for him. Jungkook only called him that. No one else. Just him. It was his name. Jungkook knew his name so it must be him.
He felt Jungkook shift, lift his head and suddenly Jimin was being ripped away from him, pulled out of his arms, away from his warmth. He managed to get out a “N-No!” as he fought against Taehyungs hands that pulled him further back into the shop, shoving him behind his lover.
Jimin looked at his expression and saw the suspicion, the hope, the fear that Jimin himself was feeling but choosing to ignore in favour of trying to get back to Jungkook.
“How are- Who- You can’t be-” Taehyung was unable to finish a question, scouring Jungkook for anything that would tell them if this was real or not. “You’re dead,” he whispered, voice shaking.
Jungkook tried to wipe his tears away and it only made Jimin want to get to him all the more. Their Jungkook was crying, their bunny.
“Tae-hyung, god,” Jungkook sobbed, “I- fuck- I’m so sorry. It’s-”
Jungkook jumped and turned to look behind him to look over at the others who were running out of the house lead by Hoseok. Jimin watched Jungkook cover his mouth and sob into his hand as he took a small step back towards the side of the porch.
Jimin slipped past Taehyung and they quickly ran to the door, watching as Hoseok started up the porch steps. “Guys Jungkook’s door was op-”
Jimin watched the dragon’s eyes glance towards Jungkook before snapping back to him. Hoseok’s eyes widened and he staggered back, toe slipping off a step making him fall backwards. Jungkook took a quick step forward but stopped when he saw Namjoon catch the man around his waist.
Namjoon looked at Jungkook then too and almost lost his own balance but managed to right them. Seokjin quickly looked between Jungkook and Jimin and Taehyung, as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
Yoongi froze behind them.
For a moment it was silent again, only interrupted by Jimin’s occasional hiccup as he tried to breath. Jungkook’s brow pinched and he grabbed the hem of his oversized shirt and sniffed.
“H-Hyungs… I know this- I know this doesn’t make sense but it- it’s me. I promise it’s me.”
“We… watched you- we had a, we buried you, how..?” Hoseok spoke quietly as if he might startle Jungkook and he would disappear again.
Jungkook licked his lips again and all of them snapped their eyes to the motion because it was just, so Jungkook.
“The gem, it, there was no way to save my body. So it, it saved m-my soul instead. It trapped my soul inside of it so it could bring me to the new world and then it, it created a new body for me,” Jungkook looked at his hands then and held them up to show them. “S-See, brand new.”
There were no scars on his palms, no sign there had ever even been an injury there.
Jungkook kept talking when he noticed their silence, beginning to rant, “I-I mean, it created an entire world, and new life so- It’s also, been you know in me for a long time so I guess it learned my physiology really well and it could, well copy it I guess and um, and I don’t know everything it didn’t really, explain anything, not that it could cause it’s a gem but-”
Jimin had stopped hearing what he was saying awhile ago. Now he was just listening to his voice, watching his motions. He wanted to touch him again, so badly it was almost painful.
“You’re really… you then? It’s really you?” Seokjin asked hesitantly, afraid of the answer.
Jungkook looked at him and smiled, giving them a nod and it almost brought them all to their knees. It had been so long since they’d seen that beautiful smile in person.
“I trusted you.”
Jungkook’s eyes locked on Yoongi and he let out a quiet whimper that almost had Seokjin running to the boys side. Shock and disbelief had them all staying where they were. Except Yoongi.
The phoenix slipped past the others and walked up the steps slowly, too controlled, too precise. He stopped in front of Jungkook and looked him in the eyes. “You said to trust you. I trusted you.”
Jungkook tilted his head to the side a bit and smiled softly, cheeks glistening from the tears that ran down them, “And I came back. I came home,” he said lifting a hand and cupping Yoongi’s cheek. That’s all it took for the man to crumble, closing the gap between them, throwing his arms over Jungkook’s shoulders and kissing him so hard it would likely bruise them.
That had the rest of them moving. Taehyung bolted from the door and slammed into their sides, knocking them over onto the porch roughly. Jimin was joining them right after, dropping to his knees and wrapping his arms around Jungkook from behind, tucking his face against his back and breathing him in.
Hoseok pressed behind him, getting as close to Jungkook as he could, kissing his head, his temple, his shoulder. Seokjin found one of his hands, cradled it in his own, pressed it against his cheek, cried harder when Jungkook’s thumb brushed his tears away. Namjoon reached over Yoongi who was sobbing against Jungkook’s chest, hand pressed flat over his heart. His beating heart.
“Bun, you’re home, you came home,” Namjoon said cupping Jungkook’s face in his hands and smiling so wide it looked painful. “We missed you, we missed you so much.”
Jungkook was crying as hard as they were. He had closed his eyes for a long moment, just feeling them around him and when he opened them he looked at Namjoon and nodded quickly. “I’m so sorry, I’m so so sorry. I couldn’t- I couldn’t tell you in case it didn’t- if it didn’t work and I gave you- you false hope I couldn’t-”
“Shhh bun, you’re here. You’re here and you’re okay. That’s all that matters. Guardian above you’re actually here,” Seokjin kissed his palm, the skin softer than what he remembered his hands being.
“Don’t ever do that again! Ever!” Taehyung yelled, hands gripping Jungkook’s arm tightly and shaking him a little. Jungkook could only nod vigorously.
They stayed like that for hours.
Sitting on the porch curled around the boy they never thought they’d see again, crying until there was nothing left in them.
In between the tears, Jungkook had managed to ask how long he’d been gone. Three months (a painful realization) was a long time and he wished he’d been aware of it. He told them that he had just woken up not long ago on a forest floor surrounded by rose gold grass and trees as dark as night.
He’d ran to the door, following the warmth, and he didn’t stop until he was back in the Galaxy and in their arms.
Jungkook had also taken a long moment to cradle Jimin in his arms with a hand over his stomach apologizing profusely over and over for hurting him, to which Jimin just asked him to keep apologizing, to keep speaking so he could hear his voice. So Jungkook did.
When Jungkook saw the Guardian swim down to hover gently in front of the porch, he had to, very reluctantly, pull himself free of the others, with promises that he wouldn’t leave their sight, that he wouldn’t go far. He wasn’t leaving them again. Ever again.
They slowly got to their feet, stiff from being tangled together so long, and they followed closely behind Jungkook as he made his way down the steps towards the Guardian.
Jungkook didn’t mind the clinginess. He welcomed it eagerly.
He stopped in front of the Guardian and looked at the whale fondly, smiling. He was exhausted, his heart felt like it had been through the ringer multiple times and he had a major headache from crying. But he’d never been happier in his life.
“Welcome back little one,” The Guardian said, the same fondness colouring it’s voice in his head.
Jungkook laughed and threw himself at the whale, hugging what little of its head that he could. “Thank you. Thank you for helping me.”
“Of course. You are brave little one, it was an honour to assist your plan.”
Namjoon spoke from behind them and Jungkook dropped his arms to look at him, “I don’t… I’m still not exactly clear on why you chose to create the world Kookie. I mean, I know you had to expel the energy and I know the gem kept your soul safe, but why the world?”
Jungkook rubbed his neck, “Something Jiho said stuck with me. That the Galaxy wouldn’t last forever. I thought a lot about that and what you guys told me about echo realms, about how it’s a reflection of earth, that it’s not it’s own whole dimension. So, I asked the Guardian when you guys brought me to the clearing, if what he said was true, if the Galaxy would one day not be able to support life.”
They stared at him in amazement, Jimin turning to look at the Guardian, “Is that true?”
“It is. The Galaxy has grown weaker. One day, in the distant future, it will no longer be stable enough to reside in,” it confirmed. “The little one’s world is much the same. It is sick and growing weaker. It might come a day when this new world is needed for both our kinds.”
Taehyung held his hands up and shook his head, “H-Hold on. Hold on. When did you have time to think about this? You, you were in so much pain,” the Fae cringed at the memory.
Jungkook smiled softly at him, stepping over to take his hand reassuringly. “I knew I was pressed for time, but I knew Jiho wouldn’t be so desperate to put everything on the line if there wasn’t something more at stake. When people’s pride gets hurt, they become angry, not desperate, so I knew there was something more. It was kind of a last-minute decision to try to encourage the gem to create the world though.”
“You are…” Hoseok shook his head and smiled brightly, “You are amazing Jungkookie.”
Seokjin looked at him with wide eyes, “You saved both worlds… and their futures? Kookie you…”
Jungkook quickly waved his hands, “Don’t look at me like I’m some big hero or something. If I’m… being honest, as long as you guys were okay, I didn’t um, I didn’t really care about anyone else.”
He had to cringe at that. It sounded bad to say but it was true. Creating the world had come secondary to saving his lovers. Had he thought for a moment that it would have risked his original plan to return to them, he wouldn’t have even considered it.
He was selfish that way. And he didn’t care.
Taehyung was kissing him then, gently, fingers holding his collar, lips fitting against his perfectly. It hadn’t been that long for Jungkook since he’d seen them. Or, it hadn’t felt that long. It felt like he’d woken up from a long nap.
But for them, they were awake and living every moment of that three months.
Jungkook promised to spend the rest of his life making up for the lost time, apologizing in every way he could.
Taehyung pulled away and nuzzled his cheek, laughing gently and smiling widely, “I love you so much Kookie.”
Jungkook’s heart swelled at the words, breathing out happily he hooked his arms around the Fae’s waist and held him close. “I love you too. I love all of you. And I promise, I won’t let this kind of thing happen again.”
Taehyung quickly, almost too eagerly, held up his pinky and looked at him with wide excited eyes. Jungkook laughed, feeling like his heart was about to explode. He hooked his pinky around the boys and sealed it with their thumbs.
Taehyung tucked his head against Jungkook’s neck as the Guardian spoke, making them all look over as they crowded once more around Jungkook. “This new world is going to need a protector little one.”
Jungkook blinked, “A protect- me? I can’t protect a whole world.”
“You just did, two actually,” Yoongi scoffed, eyes and cheeks puffy from crying.
Oh yeah, that was kind of true.
“I’m not- I can’t do it alone though,” Jungkook looked at them.
Hoseok reached over and ran a hand through Jungkook’s light blonde hair, “You aren’t going to do it alone. You’ve got us love.”
Yeah he had them.
There were still a lot of things they needed to talk about, a lot of things that Jungkook didn’t know about this… new body of his, the logistics behind everything. That could all come later.
For now, Jungkook was going to spend the foreseeable future in the presence of his hyungs, showering them with all the love he wasn’t able to in the months he was gone.
“Seokjinnie-hyung? Could you make me some food?” He asked, resting his chin on top of Taehyung’s head.
Seokjin lit up so brightly that Jungkook couldn’t help smiling too, “Of course! Of course, come on, lets go inside and get cleaned up, I’ll make some tea and your favourites.”
Taehyung gasped and pulled away enough to take his hand, pulling him along to the house. “Cooky missed you too! You have to say hi to him!”
Jimin swooped in and took his free hand while the others followed up the path to the house. “Let’s take a bath after!”
“Blonde really suits you,” Namjoon hummed from behind them and Jungkook blushed a bit at that. His face hurt from smiling as much as his head hurt from crying.
They didn’t stop talking the whole time they ushered him into the house. He struggled to keep up but they all had things they wanted to tell him that they couldn’t while he was gone. For a moment he let himself pause by the door as Seokjin rushed to the kitchen and the others went to tidy up misplaced things a bit. As if they were embarrassed about the slight messes.
The house’s warmth wrapped around him, the wood of the stairs creaked and Jungkook closed his eyes and smiled.
He had missed it too.
It was when his eyes found the painting on the living room wall that he knew things were going to be alright.
The family painting of the seven of them, huddled close on the path in front of the house, smiling happily surrounded by Smeraldos.
He was home.