Hoseok is a daydreamer.
He daydreams about trivial details like the stitching in his black uniform or the infinite white walls of their underground base. Sometimes he forces himself to daydream to pass the time, other times he showers or goes on long, absent walks to daydream. It’s not a habit, not entirely. He thinks it’s more like reading the perfect book with the perfect genre and the perfect characters.
More than often, Hoseok finds himself perched on rooftops during night shifts, dangling his legs dangerously off the edge and wondering how it would feel to fall into the dark abyss below his feet. It isn't until Namjoon calls to him that it’s time to go when he notices how bright the moon is that night.
Most of all, he daydreams of the black that will slowly consume him before death and the people that won't remember him.
Hoseok is recruited two weeks after his tenth birthday, awkward limbs and empty eyes at the news that he’d lost his parents to the war.
It was the sort of emptiness that crept up on him during late hours of the night, flushed him with a cold sweat as his eyes shot open to the dark of his room. He never really knew his parents, not in the way that most children would. They’d visit him once a month, maybe two if he was lucky, when they weren’t on missions for the Divenire. They’d visit with overly soft teddy bears that felt strange under his fingertips and a sort of fondness in the way they’d wrap him up in their arms.
Hoseok remembers watching his parents every single morning growing up as a child, particularly one warm Sunday when the sky was bluer. They were putting on their uniforms with gentle smiles adorning their faces, a glow in the room as the morning filtered in like sheets of golden silk. His mom would wink at him every few seconds, and his dad would grip his shoulder tenderly and tell him how manly he looked even at the early age of six.
It’s his most vivid memory of them.
At the back of his mind, Hoseok had buried a box of curiosities for his parents’ death. But those were the curiosities that peeled him layer by layer, leaving him vulnerable in a way he never wanted to reveal.
But as the years progressed, he slowly became accustomed to the ways of the Divenire. He thinks it’s ironic, how it was exactly this that created distance in his family and ruined a perfectly normal childhood, and now it was exactly this that he’d signed up for, following in his parents’ footsteps no matter how blurry those footsteps were. The Divenire was his family now.
Hoseok remembers strong hands guiding him into the white doors of the base and a boy with blonde hair and charming dimples at the end of a long hallway, Namjoon, he’d introduced.
“Welcome to the gang,” he’d said, “Training starts now.”
Since then, Hoseok had signed some kind of invisible commitment to the Divenire, and included in this commitment was accepting that his average life as a human was over since the moment he’d stepped foot through those white doors.
He’d learned the pain from bruised knuckles and blistered feet, raw punches to the face when he’d lost battles in practice. Slowly, slowly, Hoseok grew from awkward limbs and empty eyes to toned muscles and experienced gazes. He was one of the hardest workers in his squad, and between the squad leaders, one of the best in combat. Hoseok was a fighter, mentally and physically. He thinks he got it from his dad, but he only ever says stuff like inheriting traits from his parents to sound pleasing and average.
When he hit the peak of puberty and his voice dropped, Hoseok learned the purpose of the Divenire from his squad leader one night after sparring practice, and it wasn’t until that moment that he realized how small of a presence his existence held in the world.
“I don’t know why I’m here,” Hoseok had murmured, sprawled on the mats and sore, “I really don’t get it.” His squad leader was beside him, gulping down water. His name was Seokjin, a few years older but a few years less bitter.
He’d said, “Hoseok, do you know what the Divenire do?”
He’d said, “No.”
“We don't train everyday for nothing, you know. Everything we do here, there’s always going to be a reason. I don’t want to call us guardians, but we keep an eye on our city from any… unwanted intruders,” Seokjin looks off to one side, “Our government is falling apart, has been since the war now. Security in the form of machines isn't exactly security. It’s like taking human emotions and replacing it with numbers and equations. Anyway my point is, once you do this long enough, everything will fall into place.” Hoseok nods, he doesn’t really get it, but he knows he will. Eventually.
“Namjoon told me we’re like a gang with good intentions.” Seokjin had laughed at that.
“Yeah,” he’d said, “Yeah. Something like that.”
They called them Syloe, humans that weren’t exactly human with cold hands, grey eyes that appeared sapphire under moonlight, and pale white skin. Syloe didn’t have shadows, their footsteps couldn't be heard, and they had heightened senses with hearts that beat a fourth of the average human’s.
They’d appeared after the war on Indaco, way back when technology was simpler and the buildings shorter, Part I they called it because it had led up to the second and third war where his parents passed. The attacks had introduced new diseases into the country. Unknown chemicals were used during combat as last resorts to the weapon shortages.
They say the Syloe were once human, but a rare sickness that arose during the war had infected a small part of the population and changed the makeup of the human body, decreasing their red blood cells considerably, increasing the hormones in their bodies, and overall creating a substantial imbalance. Since then, the Syloe have kept low and away from human eyes, and like the Divenire, their existence was no more than a few rumors on the streets or myths from fantasy fanatics.
But Hoseok recalls his first encounter with a Syloe, shaky and unsure. He hadn't noticed the pale skin or grey eyes, more the sharp fangs that pierced into the flesh of an innocent woman, like a wolf and its prey. He remembers the shock and confusion at seeing such a thing, and he also remembers the clear water and the white porcelain as he heaved into the toilet bowl later that night, sweat beading at his forehead and reassuring him that everything was real and death was even more.
He was only thirteen when he witnessed his first murder by a Syloe.
But now at twenty one and promoted to squad leader, Hoseok is used to the excessive amounts of blood and the harrowing sound of bodies collapsing to the floor when they don't arrive to the scene fast enough. It’s his job to guard the city and to fend off any Syloe from dining on their people, and he knows he’s failed himself if any succeed. But the Syloe are stronger than them, and they have strategies, one of their human characteristics that remind Hoseok that they're not just monsters. No one but the Divenire know of their existence, and it’s better this way to keep the people uninformed and controlled.
Sometimes he wonders if Syloe could be cured, if they remembered family, what it felt like to bathe in the sun, or if textures felt the same under their fingertips.
But most of the time.
Most of the time, he wonders what it’d sound like to hear the rush of blood leave his body.
On the outskirts of the city, the Syloe sit in the dark of their hideout, an abandoned warehouse from previous cities and lifetimes. Taehyung throws himself onto the worn, creaky couch, stretching himself out fully and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He feels a surge of energy pumping through his veins, and he blinks to focus his vision back to normal. Feeding usually gave him some sort of a high, putting his brain in a strange disposition where everything felt light and heavy all at once.
Taehyung mutters, “Hey, Yoongi. Do you remember what you were like when you were a kid?”
Yoongi, who’s on the other side of the warehouse, busy giving their humans sedatives to put them to sleep so he can feed, smirks in the darkness. “I was a punk, that’s for sure. I had this small toy spider that I carried with me in my pocket everywhere I went, even to the shower or to bed. And on days I wanted more milk, I’d throw this spider near the girls’ food. They’d run away screaming, looking for the teacher, and I’d take their milk cartons and maybe some of their snacks if I was hungry.”
Taehyung laughs and stares out of the skyline at the starry night sky that winks at him mockingly. He thinks he’s seen this same sky when he was younger. He says, “That sounds just like you. What a little shit,” Taehyung reaches his hand out blindly and stretches it towards the moon, “I think I was a loud kid that lived to be accepted and loved. But kids like that are usually the loneliest, you know?” He moves his fingers and pretends to catch stars and dreams, “I think I loved my family with all my heart, too. Till I was bursting at the seams.”
Jungkook is helping Yoongi with the sedatives, and the situation and conversation should be ironic, but it isn’t. No one’s really paying attention anyway. Yoongi’s gaze slices through the night, “Taehyung, you can’t think how much you loved someone, you just kind of know it.”
Jungkook nods in agreement and looks at Taehyung’s eyes that reflect the stars. He says, “Even if you don't remember it, I’m sure you loved them with all your heart, too.”
They’re sitting around a table when Namjoon comes walking in, slapping a folder in the middle of it with a heavy sigh, “Two killed and four reported missing. Looks like the Syloe switched game tactics again.”
Seokjin opens the file warily, “Damn. How did they get past last night’s group?”
Namjoon shakes his head and shrugs, “They probably figured out the formation already.”
Hoseok furrows his brows. “How did they already figure out the formation? We change it every three days and the Syloe only come once a week, twice at most,” he comments.
“I don’t know, but it’s the twelfth kidnapped victim since last month,” Namjoon replies.
Seokjin sits back with sigh, “Looks like they've found a way to feed without worrying about getting caught.”
Hoseok takes a look at the file and silence consumes the room, only the sounds of shuffling papers occupying the quiet space.
It takes exactly five silent minutes later for Namjoon to suggest a plan, simple and straight to the point, and although risky, it could be the only thing helping to prevent the kidnapping and deaths in their city.
“Let’s capture one of them,” he says. “That way we can get some questions answered.”
Seokjin rests his elbows on the table. Hoseok had always found a calmness to Seokjin’s movements. “I don't know, Namjoon. That’s pretty risky. The Divenire are already short on members as is, we can’t just throw them into such a direct mission and expect them to easily capture a Syloe and make it out alive,” Seokjin mutters.
Hoseok leans back in his chair, “Yeah, I agree. We only have three active squads right now, one squad under each of us. If we lose any more Divenire, they'll find out we’re short on people and attack in larger groups. We’re fucked if that happens.”
Namjoon pulls a chair out and sits down, back straight and tense, fingers rubbing circles in his temples. He says, “I understand that. That’s why I think the three of us need to take on this one.”
Hoseok raises an unconvinced brow, “Just us three? You do realize we usually send out squads of at least five each night to take over the shifts, right?”
Namjoon counters, “I get that, but we’re well off with just us three. We’ve done this long enough to understand their patterns.”
“But what if it’s three to five? There’s no way we can take them on,” Seokjin says.
“Just hear me out on this one, will you? Even if they did attack with five, which we know is rare of them to do, our main objective is to capture one, not start a fight. Once we get one, we flee,” Namjoon throws his hands up.
Hoseok shakes his head, “They’ll definitely follow us and try to get their member back. If anything, they’ll be fucking rabid. We can’t trace them back to our base. That’s just an invitation to be attacked.”
Namjoon holds up a finger, “That’s why we need a diversion. While two of us are in the forefront with a dummy, one of us will be in the back with the actual one,” he turns to point at Seokjin. “I say Seokjin and I be the distractions.
When they separate to find someone to feed on, the three of us will follow one of them, capture him, and spread out in different directions. Once the other Syloe members notice, Hoseok will stay low and head back to the base with the Syloe since you’re the fastest and, well, slyest. We’ll figure that path out once we study their patterns more this week. Seokjin and I will lead them to upper Seele where the streets are crowded with people and dump the dummy just on the outskirts of the city. They won’t be able to advance from there when there’s so many people around and no plan.”
Hoseok and Seokjin nod at the words slowly. It was dangerous and maybe even a death wish, but it could definitely work with the right amount of preparation. They needed to find a way to stop the increasing kidnappings and deaths one way or another, and this could be it.
Ever since he became a member of the Divenire, a gang of the Syloe species had only just started hunting on their city whereas before, the threat was as serious as any other crime in Seele. Back then, it was definitely nothing to send squads out every night for. He thinks his parents probably had a much easier job than him, and it makes him wonder why they were never there.
Hoseok taps on the folder in the middle of the table, considering the plan, “How do we know which of their members to take?”
Namjoon says, “We need to use this week and study them to see which one is the weakest. My squad will handle the shifts this week since we’re the best at observation. In the meantime, I need you and Seokjin to get ready for possible combat. We’re going through with this plan next week. Don’t forget to announce it to your squads,” he pauses, “I know we can do this.”
Hoseok turns to Seokjin and they exchange nods, confirming the idea. Seokjin crosses his arms, determination drawn on his face, says, “Alright. I’m giving this my all.”
And Hoseok nods and stares at white.
He says, “Yeah.”
Hoseok finds himself training at early hours of the morning till mysterious hours of the night the following week. He practices until the skin on his knuckles break into pretty purples and blues, sliding into his bathtub half full of ice each night to soothe his sore muscles before heading to bed.
His hands are a mess, like sunset skies that flush into the dark of night, and when the ice in the bathtub starts numbing his body from neck to toes, he runs his fingertips over his knuckles and wonders if his broken skin would spill his secrets between the cracks in splashes of red. It hurts, breaking already-broken skin each day he trains and does combat with Seokjin, but the pain is a reminder that he’s alive and that someone out there cared if he was still breathing.
Namjoon approaches them in the training room on the fourth day with a stack of papers and determined eyes, “We were able to track their most common paths these past few days, and it seems they’re sticking to sending out three at a time and no more. There seems to be a pattern with who they send out in relation to the members themselves, probably based on either their ability to work together or from their strengths and weaknesses. But there’s also that possibility that the order is completely random. So far we were able to identify four new faces. They finally sent out someone different last night from the usual three.”
Seokjin glances over Namjoon’s papers with notes scrawled neatly on the surface, “Were you able to figure out the weakest link of the group?”
Namjoon shakes his head, “Not quite yet. But I’m guessing the new face from last night is a candidate, and the three that have been hunting are the stronger ones.”
They take a seat on the mat, and Namjoon hands each of them a stack of papers. “Study these and remember it like the back of your hand. Hoseok, I gave you five possible routes to get back to the base, three on-ground and two rooftop routes. The first one is what we’re aiming for, but if anything goes wrong, you know what to do from there,” he turns to Seokjin, “You and I have all our formations and attack plans plus the route we’ll be taking to upper Seele.”
Hoseok thumbs through the stack of papers, carefully skimming the thoroughly mapped out routes of the city and alternative formation plans. He gets to the last few pages and stops. There’s four pictures of four guys who he assumes are the Syloe Namjoon had mentioned earlier. His eyes stop on one particular face labeled “S4”, a boy that looked slightly younger than himself with sharp eyes and dark hair. The picture had captured his profile, but there was something about that gaze that pierced through Hoseok.
Hoseok taps on the boy’s photo, “Who’s S4?”
Namjoon glances at the paper, “That’s the new face from last night also known as the possible weakest link.”
Hoseok lets his eyes scan the photo one last time before he rolls the stack of papers into a tight bundle.
Namjoon stands up, “I’ll let you guys get back to combat and keep you updated.” And with that, Namjoon leaves the room.
Hoseok squeezes the papers between his hands and sighs. The last thing he wanted to do was study new strategies and formations.
He turns to Seokjin, “Where’d we leave off?”
Suddenly Seokjin throws a swift punch to his stomach, another to the side of his head, but Hoseok easily dodges it.
He says, “Right about when I was kicking your ass.”
“Hey buddy, it’s your turn to come hunting with us tonight,” Yoongi predictably finds Taehyung on the rooftop of the warehouse, laying on the glass skyline and staring into the dark night. Taehyung says it’s like swimming in a sea of stars where drowning wouldn’t be so bad.
Taehyung turns to give Yoongi a once-over, nodding slowly, “Yeah, I know.”
Taehyung never really participates in the hunting, only when they really need him. He isn’t much of the running type, and it’s tiring as hell carrying dead weight on his back all the way back to their hideout. On top of that, his lack of athletic ability had been a risk a few years back when they'd almost gotten caught by the Divenire.
Taehyung had been in charge of carrying someone back, male, middle aged, frown lines and crow’s feet, but he’d slowed down halfway back to the warehouse, legs too tired and breathing too unsteady. Yoongi remembers grabbing the body instead, yelling at Taehyung to run and get back to the hideout before tucking himself behind a nearby dumpster and out of sight. It had been a dangerous attempt, needless to say, and he owed Yoongi his life for that incident.
But Taehyung still helps with the hunting every so often when he can, especially when they need someone to lure the prey in or distract passerby’s with his big, alluring eyes and innocent complexion. Since Jungkook had slipped on a loose brick last night on their way back to the warehouse, hurting his right ankle and slowing him down to a light jog, it was Taehyung’s duty to replace him. And it wasn’t like he was a terrible hunter, no, he just wasn't as good as the others.
Yoongi tries not to worry, he really does. It doesn't help that Taehyung is a bit of an airhead sometimes with the attention of a five year old boy, maybe even stubborn most of the time, but one thing was sure, and it was that he was stealthy.
Yoongi goes over the plan for the following nights slowly and thoroughly, explaining obstacles to watch out for like that one restaurant that’s opened twenty four hours or the apartment with the thirty year old woman who stays up till sunrise. He explains it once, twice, three times for good measure, and judging by the way Taehyung looks at him calmly, he knows Taehyung gets it.
After all, Taehyung wasn’t just a kid anymore.
The night before the big day, Hoseok feels tingles all the way from his teeth to the pit of his stomach. He isn’t so much nervous as he is anxious, and he knows that a part of him enjoyed the rush of it all anyway.
It was decided that S4 was their main target and that he’d be hunting with the other two, S1 and S3, on the second day of the new week. Hoseok had spent more time memorizing the sharp jawline and beauty mark on S4’s nose than he did memorizing backup strategies and formations, but Namjoon didn’t need to know that nor would he ever really find out. After all, memorizing came easy to Hoseok.
As the night slowly rolls around the next day, Hoseok starts to feel the nerves in his stomach and fidgety fingers. There was a fifty-fifty chance that they wouldn't make it out of this alive, and the thought of possibly dying made him more worried than the plan itself. He had barely accomplished anything in his twenty-one years, not even a single word or imprint left in his wake, and it’d be such a waste to go this soon.
Hoseok has his uniform on, steel wire rolled up in his pocket and other weapons hidden on various parts of his body. He tightens and releases his gloved fist, trying to ease his mind that seemed to be flying at infinite miles per hour. Namjoon and Seokjin are tightening up their shoes before standing up straight.
Namjoon says, “You guys ready?”
“More than I’ll ever be,” Seokjin nods assertively.
Hoseok copies his movements, “Let’s do this shit.”
And Namjoon claps both of them on the shoulder, “Let’s go.”
They’re perched on a five story building, waiting, when the Syloe arrive, quietly in the night like silky silhouettes.
It’s hard to spot them, especially since they had no shadows and soundless footsteps, but Hoseok, Namjoon, and Seokjin were experienced enough to spot movement several streets down from where they were seated. Just as Namjoon had observed, they strategically split into different directions as soon as they arrive, one on the west side, one on the east, and one further north near the high rise buildings.
Their target was the one on the west.
They stand furtively, Namjoon and Seokjin taking the low ground as Hoseok followed along on the rooftops, hidden in shadows and reflected moonlight. He follows the path, making sure to stay hidden from any of the three Syloe and swiftly ducks down as Namjoon and Seokjin squeeze behind a dumpster in the next instant.
S4 is talking to a homeless man in the alleyway a few yards away, squatting in front of him with his upper half leaning in slightly, cunning smile decorating his expression. From what Hoseok can see, he seems to be calmly talking to the man with slight nods every now and then. The only thing that gives him away is the intense gaze that adorns his face and the twinkle in his eye. The man is responding to S4’s questions casually and cluelessly, maybe a little tipsy, and Hoseok hopes Namjoon gives him the signal before anything happens to the innocent man.
He watches as the Syloe reaches forward to pat the man on his shoulder, laughing open-mouthed with his teeth barred and fingers tightening their grip on his shoulder, and it’s then that Namjoon holds up his hand as a makeshift gun. They lurch forward, and he sees Seokjin pull out his gun and shoot six tranquilizers, two to the chest, one to the neck, and the other three to his legs. It’s still not enough, but it gave them an eight minute window to move.
The Syloe groans loudly and falls back, cueing the sound for them to start paying attention to their window of time. Hoseok takes this chance to jump down and wrap the steel wire around his middle, making sure to bind his hands and his feet. He throws a black bag over S4’s head as he falls unconscious and lights a match. Seokjin throws him the medium sized piece of fabric, and he sets it on fire, fanning out the smoke on the body to mask his scent. The fabric quickly burns up completely within seconds, and Hoseok shoves the matches in his pocket. As he throws the limp body over his shoulder, he catches a glimpse of the homeless man, retreating into the main street with wide eyes and confusion written all over his face.
Hoseok is gone from the scene in the next second, mouthing good luck to Namjoon and Seokjin before sprinting into the shadows and out of sight.
He takes the low ground on the way back to the base, stopping in his tracks abruptly to wedge himself in between the buildings when he spots movement in the alley across. Once it’s clear, he alternates to taking the high ground and scales the rooftops as quickly as he can. Five minutes have gone by, he’d been counting, which meant he only had less than three minutes before S4 woke up. He was sweating profusely, but his breathing was as quiet as his footsteps.
Two blocks before reaching the base, he feels the weight on his shoulder starting to struggle. He’s strong, and Hoseok finds himself slowing down in an attempt to balance the body slung over his back. Eventually he pulls out his own tranquilizer and shoots one into the Syloe’s side before sprinting the rest of the way back.
He’s panting once he reaches the base and dizzy as he gets to the quarantine room, briskly punching in the code and throwing the body in the glass cell before shutting the door behind them. Hoseok reaches down to tear the bag off S4’s head and quickly clips the wires around his torso, hands, and ankles before the tranquilizer liquid wears off and the Syloe regains movement in his body.
He grabs the supplies and clambers to his feet to leave the cell, sitting down and throwing his head back against the wall with closed eyes to regain his breath. When he opens them again, S4 is sitting up and staring at him through the glass with low set eyes, a look of curiosity and something like knowing.
Hoseok feels a shiver run all the way down his spine like a xylophone, sending vibrations throughout his body till they reach his fingertips. He thinks those grey eyes could burn holes into his skull, and he fights off the feeling to shift under the heavy gaze. He also thinks they hold a story that has yet to be told.
S4 says, “Hasn’t anyone ever told you that it’s rude to tie someone up when you first meet them?”
Hoseok stares at him blankly. There’s something about the clear glass and the stark, white walls that makes it feel like there’s nothing separating them, like sitting at the edge of a cliff or staring into the eyes of a wild animal. He counters, “Hasn’t anyone ever told you it’s rude to bite out of people’s necks till they die?”
S4 smirks at this, and Hoseok catches a glimpse of sharp fangs. He says, “That’s like me telling you it’s rude to eat a steak.” Hoseok doesn’t respond to that, doesn't know how to.
He feels tense and his mind isn't at ease, far from it. Not until he sees Namjoon and Seokjin return safely to the base. It doesn’t help that S4 is burning holes into his face with his cold eyes. He watches as S4 taps a single, pale finger on the glass, never breaking eye contact, tap, tap, tap.
S4 says, “If I wanted to, if I tried really hard, I could shatter this glass into a million pretty little pieces. Kind of like what I could do to you if I wanted, if I really wanted.” He presses the palm of his hand to the glass, “Because you’re human, you can break.”
Hoseok has never seen a Syloe this close. He thinks they're a flawless creature from the outside and that maybe, he could get lost in their eyes under other circumstances, but somewhere inside their heads was a loose screw and a broken gear. Hoseok says, “You’re not getting out of here until we let you, kid.”
There’s silence for a few moments before S4 is tapping his finger again, he says, “Yeah.”
The next forty minutes is full of silence, and Hoseok isn't sure how silence could ever fill empty space, but it does, and all he hears is the sound of his own breathing. He drowns himself in the nothingness, losing himself in his own nervous thoughts of his teammates, and he feels like he’s going one-ninety down a busy highway. But the highway is gone as soon as Namjoon and Seokjin come crashing through the door, panting and accomplished.
Namjoon shouts, “We did it. We fucking did it.”
“They stopped following us long before we reached upper Seele,” Seokjin continues.
Hoseok gets up and pulls them into a quick hug of satisfaction, “Thank god you guys made it.”
Seokjin laughs and pats his back before pulling away, “Have a little bit more faith in us next time, yeah?”
Namjoon cuts in, “Hell yeah we made it back. Who said there was any other choice?” He stops talking as soon as he lays eyes on the quarantine cell with S4 sitting quietly inside, pressed close to the glass and staring at them with that same burning gaze. Namjoon says, “So this is the guy.” Hoseok nods, and they walk up to the cell.
“I’ve never seen one this close,” Seokjin mutters in amusement, kneeling to examine the Syloe.
Namjoon follows suit, “Me neither.” He stares for a few seconds longer before straightening up, “We’ll deal with him tomorrow. For now, let’s rest up. I’ll get Jimin to watch over him tonight.”
Before he and Seokjin exit the room, Namjoon grabs their arms, says, “Good job tonight, guys.” Hoseok gives his forearm a squeeze before following behind Seokjin’s retreating back.
As he leaves the room, Hoseok feels eyes on his back and goosebumps on his neck. The last thing he remembers before falling asleep that night is clear glass walls and tap tap tap.
His name is Kim Taehyung, alias V, and everything else he claims to have forgotten. Age unknown, weight unknown, height unknown, family unknown.
They’d spent the better half of the day interrogating him, asking questions about the Syloe and why they chose Seele of all cities for hunting. Apparently the Syloe chose cities based on specific people and specific blood types, preferably blood type A, and from there, they didn't move on to others cities until it was necessary. They were like any other civilization that searched for environments and fitting conditions for their people, similar to a pack of wolves. The most his gang had ever stayed at a city was fifty years, the least being a month because of a sickness that had spread like wildfire throughout the small population, leaving too few to feed on.
Observing from the side, Hoseok could tell Taehyung was easy to answer anything they were going to ask him, laying on his back casually with an arm thrown over his eyes to shield the light. It didn’t make sense how compliant he was being, and something about it all was off, almost mocking, and it was grating on his nerves.
Hoseok abruptly speaks up, “Why are you answering everything so honestly?” His tone is slightly bitter, and he doesn't care that he’s just cut Namjoon off.
Taehyung glances over at him calmly, “They’re not going to come find me, you know.” Hoseok watches as his line of vision falls to his neck for a split second, “Syloe don't waste their time looking for missing members. Once they've lost one, it’s enough of a threat to push them to another region to feed.”
“Bullshit. It can’t be that easy,” Namjoon retorts.
Taehyung doesn’t falter, “Suit yourself. You can complicate this as much as you humanly want. The fact of the matter is that my gang has probably already started relocating without me.”
“Why would they go through so much trouble if they've only lost one person? Why wouldn't they try to get you back?” Seokjin comments, confused.
Taehyung glances at all three of them carefully, calculatingly, and settles his line of vision on Hoseok, “Losing a member of your gang is like running on one leg. It cripples everything we have, our teamwork, our hunting strategies, our bond, everything. We’re here for one thing and one thing only, and that’s to feed to keep us alive. That doesn’t include fighting and risking any of our other members if we don't need to. We can’t afford risking anymore of us. Don’t forget that Syloe are nothing like you.”
Hoseok looks away first, and Seokjin shakes his head, says, “We can’t trust him, not this easily. If we let our guards down, we could be risking our lives.”
Namjoon nods at Seokjin, “You’re right.” He runs a hand down his face tiredly, “Anyway let’s stop here. We’ve done enough questioning for today.”
Hoseok uncrosses his arms and straightens up from his position on the desk, “So who's turn is it to keep watch tonight?”
“My squad is on guard tonight, and Seokjin did it last night. So that leaves it to you, man,” Namjoon claps him lightly on the shoulder.
Hoseok sighs, “Alright, I’ll see you guys later then.”
He watches Namjoon and Seokjin retreat through the sliding door before turning to Taehyung. He’s laying on his side now, still pressed close to the glass of the cell, head resting on the floor and dark brown hair splayed out like ink spilt on white. He’s staring out and watching his every movement, as if melting himself against the wall like a fingerprint smeared on the glass, and Hoseok thinks he looks calm and gentle and lifeless.
Hoseok yanks his sweater off and throws it on the floor near the glass cell for cushion, taking his usual seat against the wall to keep watch. He closes his eyes and breathes, letting hours pass blindly before him with thoughts of flashing lights and crisp air. Taehyung doesn’t speak a word the entire time, but Hoseok doesn't expect to hear movement or breathing anyway. He doesn’t think they have anything to say to each other, and it’s the first time Hoseok has ever felt so out of place and different.
When the sun peeks shyly out of the horizon the next morning, Jimin arrives to switch places with him. He stands and grabs his flattened sweater off the floor stiffly, glancing at Taehyung’s unmoving form. It’s the first time he’s seen his eyes closed, grey orbs concealed and for once, he doesn’t feel threatened or guarded.
He thinks Taehyung looks peaceful like this, almost human if human could be just short of flawless, but he realizes he’s staring when Taehyung opens his eyes to stare intently back at him with cloudy skies.
Hoseok leaves without another word.
Yoongi is throwing their supplies and belongings into a backpack rigidly, Jungkook following suit along with the others. Yoongi’s hands are shaky and his mind isn’t exactly there. He thinks he’s left it at the bottom of the ocean or on the highway, but he feels unstable. He knows the littlest of things can set him off.
Jungkook has a pained expression on his face, looking around carefully as if thinking twice about what they were doing and maybe we should stay, or we can still get Taehyung back, but Yoongi wasn’t having it, not tonight. He was the alpha of the group, and they always stuck with the golden rule of putting the entire gang before the individuals. It was too risky, and they were already known amongst the others as the smallest Syloe gang with just barely nine members, now only eight, putting them at a huge disadvantage.
But it was Taehyung, and he was one of the originals of their small little pack. He was family. Losing him was like losing part of the whole, and Yoongi doesn't know how to deal with it. He couldn't sacrifice the entire group for one, and as a leader, he just didn’t have the time to create new strategies and plans, and he definitely didn't have enough experienced and combat-ready members to handle the Divenire to rescue Taehyung. They weren’t trained to fight, only to feed and survive. The worst they could do was start a battle with their stationed hunting ground, risking the chances of keeping their primary food source.
The fact of the matter was that they couldn’t take on the Divenire with just eight members, one of their strongest injured. They were lucky if they could get everyone fed in a large city with such a small, unorganized pack of Syloe. The best and most logical plan of action was to relocate, and Yoongi was adamant with the idea, no matter how difficult and personal the circumstances.
And eventually, he’d have time to think things through.
And eventually, he’d have them straightened out.
The Syloe attacks had almost completely stopped in Seele, maybe one or two every few weeks but from faces they'd never seen. It was clear that there weren't any Syloe gangs hunting on their city anymore, only Lone Syloe passing through to other cities, looking for a quick meal. Taehyung had surprisingly told the truth, but that didn’t stop them from letting their guards down.
They’d went from sending five squad members on duty each night to three, switching members out every few days instead of every day. Things had calmed down in the city almost abruptly, and news about kidnappings or animal attacks were rare.
Hoseok spent his free time training the other members and the new recruits to the Divenire, spending extra hours in the combat room or in the library teaching strategy and formation. When he wasn't busy with the Divenire, Hoseok allowed himself to wander aimlessly around the base to calm his busy mind, smiling at anyone that passed him like sunshine through a screen. The white of the base was comforting, clean and untainted, newborn hands reaching out to the light. Sometimes he’d pass by the quarantine room and sometimes he’d stop to stare at the door, trying hard not to purposely listen but eventually pretending to himself that he was trying not to.
Namjoon had caught him once, standing outside of the room blankly as the door slid open, revealing Namjoon’s surprised face. He wanted to turn away quickly and play it off, but he figured it’d be more obvious and embarrassing than standing his ground. Hoseok had made up some half-assed excuse about mistaking it for his own room, and although he knew Namjoon would see through his excuses, he tried anyway. Needless to say, he'd stopped visiting the quarantine room as often.
With his added free time, Hoseok had started something of a friendship with Jimin. He sat with him in the cafeteria when Namjoon and Seokjin were busy with other responsibilities. Jimin, Hoseok found, was an optimistic boy with a nice laugh and a bright smile that reached his eyes, a warm day in the middle of winter. Jimin was perfectly compatible with him, and before Hoseok knew it, he started considering Jimin a good friend.
On days when he had too much time and too little to do, he helped Jimin with combat, showing him tactics that could help him become victorious in his classes. Jimin was considerably more toned and defined than he was, and in certain situations, could probably break Hoseok in half. But Jimin was younger and less experienced, which made him less of a fighter than Hoseok, both mentally and physically.
Since Jimin was preparing to be released for ground duties as an active Divenire, Hoseok tried his best to prepare him for what was to come, the horrors of encountering his first Syloe attack and possibly his first face-to-face combat with one of them. In return for his hard work, Hoseok promised to request for Jimin to be on his squad.
But every so often when he didn’t have free time, Hoseok got the guard shift, and he spent hours in silence or lost between dreams and reality during these times. Sometimes Taehyung would close his eyes, and Hoseok would steal a look at the latter, watching him carefully, curiously, and there was so much he wanted to know yet no way to really put it into words. But as Divenire, he knew not to get emotionally attached to anything, and spilling the pages of his notebook with the stories of a Syloe was definitely more than feeding his curiosity.
On nights when sleep didn't come easily or even thoughts couldn’t occupy the time, Hoseok allowed himself to fill color in the white of Taehyung’s skin and the grey of his eyes. He allowed himself to wonder about his fingerprints and what they’d marked, if they'd ever marked the wrists of another or maybe the walls of a home. He wondered if Syloe remembered what humanity was like or if there were any Syloe that had humanity left in them.
When Hoseok can’t distinguish the line between dreams and reality, the feeling of being watched never leaves him until morning comes and it’s Jimin’s turn to take over.
He wonders if he’s ever made anyone feel so haunted with the windows of his eyes.
The kidnapped victims, as they'd suspected, were long since gone, lifeless bodies that had been thrown back into the city, each with their necks bitten out of, blood half drained, and reported as animal attacks. What the police couldn't figure out was why they all had identical bruise marks on their inner forearm from some sort of needle. They’d suspected drugs, but upon further research into the individuals backgrounds and their families, it was very likely that the cause of death was overdose.
While police were busy investigating the so-called animal attacks, Namjoon had long since discovered that Taehyung’s gang had given their victims sedatives to put them to sleep before feeding, hence the kidnappings. On-scene feeding was only for those that hadn't fed for substantial amounts of time, shortage of their supplies, or when they couldn’t bring people back in time. He forced himself not to think that there were such things as good Syloe because the last thing Namjoon was going to have was sympathy.
Namjoon says there’s nothing left to question of Taehyung, and with weeks having passed and the city free of any threat from the gang, they have no further use for him. They’d gotten all the information they needed for any incoming Syloe, and although each pack had different strategies and ways of hunting, it was still beneficial to help predict patterns.
“What are we going to do with him?” Hoseok had asked.
“We don't know yet, but for now we’ll just have to keep him quarantined here,” Namjoon had responded.
The captain had advised them against the Syloe’s release because of safety measures and precautions.
After all, letting Taehyung go was like sending a wild animal out for the kill.
They still take turns watching Taehyung. Namjoon takes on the responsibility of feeding him animal blood every few days to keep him hydrated and fed. Hoseok only comes and goes to complete his duties, nothing more, nothing less.
Each night he’s on watch, Hoseok opens his mouth as if to speak, but something inside him tells him no, and eventually he resorts to closing his eyes and counts to ninety-four. He won’t admit it, not even to himself, but on still, tasteless nights, the silence gets too much to handle. And tonight, the silence weighs oppressively on him, so much so that even his eyelids feel heavy. But unlike other nights when he passes the time with sleep, the silence in the white room is broken, and he thinks it’s almost enough to shatter the glass of the quarantine cell.
Taehyung is sitting near him, back facing Hoseok as he leans casually against the glass. His voice is like a knife that cuts through the silence, but it isn’t too loud and maybe even a little too gentle that Hoseok almost forgets he’s said anything at all. He doesn’t realize he’d been half-asleep until Taehyung’s low voice brings him back to consciousness.
“When was the last time you went to sleep because you wanted to, not because your body told you to, but because you told you to?” Taehyung asks, eyes trained on his hands.
Hoseok blinks his eyes open, surprised, taken off-guard, stunned even. He was so tired from training and combat that he’d forgotten the time and place for a split second. And now it was three a.m.
He rubs an eye lazily with the ball of his hand, slowly pondering over his words and how, exactly, to string them out coherently. “Probably ten, when I was a kid that could sleep whenever I felt, regardless of time and responsibilities.” Hoseok stretches his legs out in front of him, noticing how Taehyung had shifted to staring through the glass and straight into him like an open window with missing curtains. Hoseok says, “I can’t do that anymore.”
And Taehyung says, “Me neither.”
They fall back into an awkward silence, and now that Hoseok is wide awake, his hands are twisting in his lap to distract him from the stillness.
Taehyung turns to look at him again, this time with more intensity. He says, “I’ve seen you before. A really long time ago.” Taehyung looks down at his chin, his neck, then his hands, “You were keeping watch near the clock tower when I snuck behind you to advance towards the other side of town. And I had the chance to rip your throat open, to drink every last ounce of blood in that body of yours, you know? But I didn’t.” He looks back up at a spot behind Hoseok’s head.
Hoseok’s mind is spinning, and he doesn’t really get what Taehyung is saying. Somewhere in his mind, he refused to believe he’d allowed himself to become vulnerable. He shakes his head, “Why didn’t you just kill me right then and there?”
The side of Taehyung’s mouth lifts in amusement, fingers playing with the ring on his thumb as he looks off into the distance, something secretive that Hoseok will never come to understand. He says, “I don’t know. Something about the way you looked at the moon that night made me believe you were as lost as I was.”
Hoseok doesn't sleep for the next two nights.
“Hey, Hoseok, did you hear what I just said?” Jimin flicks the tip of his nose, and suddenly Hoseok’s line of vision is filled with the boy’s goofy grin and clear eyes.
Hoseok blinks his eyes dazedly. He’d been distracted lately, more so than usual, and the previous nights had been a mess of tossing and turning and staring resolutely at the ceiling for sleep to overcome him. Taehyung’s words had really struck a chord inside him.
“Sorry, what were you saying?” Hoseok presses his pointer finger to Jimin’s forehead and pushes him away teasingly.
Jimin frowns but sits back, “I said I passed Stage 3 of the test.”
Hoseok’s face splits into a smile and he sits up in his chair, “Shit, that’s great, it really is! You’re active!” He reaches across the table and pats Jimin on the head affectionately, “I’m proud of you, kid!”
Jimin’s smile widens by a hundred watts, and he waves him off bashfully, “I still have a long way to go though.”
“Don’t we all?” Hoseok raises his brows and rests his chin in his palm. “Anyway I’ll send in a request to the captain to get you put on my squad, yeah?”
Jimin nods excitedly, “Yeah. Yeah, that’d be really awesome.” He pauses, and his expression grows serious, “Thank you so much, you know, for everything. I wouldn't have gotten this far without your help.”
Hoseok ruffles his hair this time, “Hey, thank yourself. You worked hard to get it.” Jimin nods again, and this time Hoseok can see the confidence in his eyes.
“So what’s up with you? You look really tired,” Jimin comments.
Hoseok rubs an eye, “I’ve just been having trouble sleeping lately.”
Jimin furrows his eyebrows together, “How come?”
Hoseok shrugs heavily. He’d spent hours trying to answer it himself, but eventually, it all came down on him like a hammer when he realized it:
Taehyung had connected with him on a deeper level than anyone who’d ever came into his life.
He opened doors that no one had ever opened. They hardly talked, and he doesn’t know anything about Taehyung, and Taehyung doesn't know anything about him, but somewhere in the mix, they understood each other better than anyone else.
Hoseok shifts his gaze, he says, “I don’t really know.”
Since their first encounter, Hoseok notices the way he and Taehyung slowly warm up to each other. They’d broken the ice, and just like that, conversation eased like water. There was something in the tremors of Taehyung’s voice that pulled him in completely, and Hoseok found himself opening up like a glass door.
Talking to strangers about irrelevant matters was always easier, and there was no sense of commitment. He could walk up to anyone and tell them a life of lies, create a fake identity of what he wanted to be when he was twelve, maybe John, age seventeen with a young face, artist. No one would ever know. But the thing was, Taehyung wasn’t a stranger, just the perfect listener.
On some nights, Taehyung would tell him about the tall, green building down Larimer, old and rustic where all the broken kids went to smoke away their troubles. Hoseok sometimes rants about the shitty cafeteria food on that day or the kids that would fail their combat tests.
Hoseok doesn’t mind it, the talking, but he feels so comfortable engaging in small talk with him that he thinks he should be more bitter about the whole situation, he thinks he should be feeling something close to hatred for Taehyung. But he doesn’t.
He’d spent an entire day forcing himself to become angry towards Taehyung, thinking of all the innocent humans he and the Syloe had killed, but Hoseok was never one to become angry. He was logical, rather, and it wasn’t their fault that they needed to feed, he’d tell himself each time. He couldn’t find it in him to hate their kind because humans were just as awful. To put it simply, Hoseok was indifferent.
Instead of channeling his anger towards Taehyung that day, he ended up becoming cranky towards everyone that looked at him and easily lashed out at the younger members for giving him dirty looks, which was very unlikely of him to do. Seokjin had punched him in the stomach during combat later and told him to chill the fuck out.
He returned to his dormitory that night, made himself a cup of hot tea, and vowed to never force himself to become angry ever, ever again.
Hoseok arrives at the quarantine room, disgruntled and restless, running hands down his face and heaving a sigh as he sits down against the glass. It had been a long day of strategy formation studies and weapon combat with him and Seokjin’s squad, and he’d barely had time to eat, let alone sit. It didn't help that the captain came in to watch his squad during practice for evaluations, and although they'd done predictably well, it was still a tense situation to be in.
Hoseok is drained to the core, and he throws his head back against the wall to rest. Either Taehyung hadn’t noticed his off-putting mood, or he didn’t care.
Taehyung stands up and walks over to where he’s sitting. “I find it totally fascinating how humans find beauty in putting plants in empty spaces for decoration. Why fill up something with a figment of what’s outside?” Taehyung says, shaking his head.
Hoseok moves his neck side to side to stretch tense muscles, “We also find beauty in unmade beds and manmade rivers and potpourri.”
“Popery? What, like, religion?” Taehyung looks at him with one brow cocked.
Hoseok finally cracks a small smile to himself and shakes his head, “That too.” He glances at Taehyung, “You should know that, you were human once too.”
Taehyung stretches his legs out in front of him, “‘Once’ is a distant memory. I honestly can’t remember it anymore. I could have been a male stripper and never have known.”
Hoseok smirks, “Oh?”
Taehyung shrugs then shakes his head, “No, not really.”
There’s a long period of thought where Hoseok wonders about Taehyung’s past, his family and friends, and it’s strange knowing he was a human before this.
“But you know, sometimes I remember colors and textures and thoughts. They’re just all missing the feelings,” Taehyung says.
Hoseok looks at Taehyung and blinks twice.
He says, “Yeah, me too.”
Taehyung leans against the glass, staring down at Hoseok, “Hoseok, right?”
And Hoseok realizes that they’d never formally introduced each other. He knows Taehyung’s name from a file tucked away in their computer’s hard drive, and Taehyung knows his from overheard conversations. It’s like putting a face to the name without actually knowing why.
“Yeah, I’m Hoseok.” He opens his eyes to look up at the other, “Taehyung?” It’s more of a statement than it is a rhetorical question.
Taehyung gives him a lazy thumbs up, “Taehyung.”
The entire situation felt strange. He had to think it over twice to understand the fact that he had just introduced himself to a Syloe. But Hoseok smiles anyway, says, “Cool.” Taehyung is still staring at him when he goes back to closing his eyes comfortably.
Hoseok can feel the layers separating them strip away little by little with every word exchanged, kind of like the consistency of cotton candy. And whatever they were starting, friendship, acquaintanceship, he knew he’d be dappling in dangerous territory, but Hoseok let himself march right in.
They don't say much the rest of the night, but Hoseok thinks what was said held enough depth to last a lifetime.
Yoongi visits the Divenire base on nights when they aren’t hunting. It’d taken awhile, and albeit dangerous, he’d followed one of the members of the Divenire back to their hideout alone, a new member with toned arms and innocent eyes. Scaling the buildings and following at a far distance, it’d taken Yoongi days, weeks to track them all the way back to the base successfully and completely. He’d also learned this new member, Jimin the others called him, was faint-hearted and had a habit of closing his eyes whenever Lone Syloe came into the city to feed. He was an amateur, and maybe it wasn’t in this lifetime for him to be fighting, but as time passed and he’d witnessed more and more deaths, his eyes slowly hardened as did his heart.
But Yoongi doesn't visit often. Their new hunting ground was in a city miles and miles from Seele called Von, smaller but busier with more noise and less souls. Hunting here was harder, but it was also easier because of the higher crime rate.
They were still adjusting to the new city, new plans and new hunting teams forcing them to adapt to the change in a short time span. Yoongi had spent the first four weeks under stress with a few breakdowns in between, trying to figure everything out on his own and forcing them to engage in on-scene feeding instead of kidnappings just to get something in their system. But eventually, everything got better, and the gang was able to go back to their old hunting and feeding methods.
Jungkook had been there the entire time, and Yoongi knows he owes the younger something close to his life for being there with him every step of the way. And sometimes he forgets he isn’t the only one touched by Taehyung’s existence. It’s those realizations that he remembers he isn’t alone.
On nights when Yoongi gets the chance to sneak near the base, he sits perched on a building near the underground lair and listens. Sometimes he hears the low hum of Taehyung’s voice, talking about everything and nothing all at once, and to his relief, Taehyung was okay, and that was all that mattered. He allows himself to stay awhile longer, basking in the comfort of Taehyung’s voice with a smile adorning his face, and although he isn't there, he knows Taehyung can sense him too.
Sometimes Yoongi imagines breaking into the Divenire base and bringing Taehyung home, but even he knows he wouldn't make it out alive, with or without his gang, and risking his life as alpha meant jeopardizing the others selfishly. He couldn't find it in himself to implement such an irrational plan, a suicide mission even. Rescuing Taehyung would require a lot more planning that their given circumstances just didn't offer, what with the relocating.
So for now, for now Yoongi listens to the vibrations of Taehyung’s voice and smiles to himself before standing up and heading back home.
“There was this one time, I was walking through a new city with new faces. It was funny, I passed by this Chinese restaurant, the ‘open’ sign wasn’t working, and this man was yelling at the woman for screwing up his order. He looked so frustrated, and all the blood in his body was rushing to his head and his pulse was stuttering. The smell was overwhelming,” Taehyung says, and Hoseok takes his usual seat and watches as the other moves to sit near him, facing the glass wall with crossed legs as he spoke.
Taehyung continues, grin in place, “And the woman, bangs pinned back and pink shirt, was hacking at this cooked duck. She didn’t give two fucks about the guy.” Taehyung laughs to himself and shakes his head a little, “Since that moment, I started categorizing people into two groups, like, there are people who are the man or people that are the woman.” He smirks, “Humans are so grand.”
By now Hoseok is used to Taehyung’s random outbursts, and maybe they make sense and connect in some alternate universe. Hoseok pushes the front of his hair up into the mess of a hairstyle he had, “I’ve been to a Chinese restaurant once.”
Taehyung absentmindedly smoothes the side of his hair down, “Yeah? How was it?”
“Shitty,” Hoseok cocks a smile. “Then again, I wasn’t expecting it to be a luxury, either, ‘cause luxurious Chinese restaurants are just as shitty with their fake ass Chinese food. And the people stare at you like, I don’t know, like you’re foreign even though we’re all people.”
Taehyung nods at the remark, “But they notice you.”
Hoseok shakes his head, “Not in the way that I want.”
“What do you want?” Taehyung asks, pressing fingertips to the glass.
He takes awhile to absorb the question. It’s a tricky one to answer, he doesn’t even know what he wants to drink sometimes at the cafeteria. Hoseok crosses his legs at the ankles and wiggles his foot, pressing his own fingertips to the glass absentmindedly, “I just want to wake up at five a.m. knowing that the sun is going to rise.”
Hoseok turns to look at Taehyung, not out of approval for his answer, but out of curiosity of how he’d respond. Taehyung smiles down at the ring on his finger before looking up, “We’ll see.”
It’s the first time Hoseok had looked Taehyung in the eyes in weeks, and he’s caught off guard. Taehyung’s eyes are dull, and his gaze is far from the intensity Hoseok had seen the first time. The dark circles under his eyes seem more prominent tonight, he’s sure it isn’t because of the lighting, and his hair had lightened considerably from dark brown to an ashy hazel. The way he looks is like the life had been sucked out of him, tired, anemic, sick, a wilted flower in autumn.
He furrows his brows, “Hey, are you feeling okay?”
Taehyung looks up at him with lackluster eyes and shrugs, he says, “I’m just… feeling.” By the way his hands are shaking slightly, Hoseok knows it isn't normal, but he lets it slide.
It’s quiet for a few minutes, Hoseok concentrating on the creases of his pants. He says, “Do you miss them?”
Taehyung nods and glances at the ceiling, “All the time. But it’s comforting because I know they do the same.”
“You know why we can’t let you go, right?” Hoseok says, carefully and guarded.
All Taehyung says in response is, “It makes sense.”
Hoseok drops the subject.
“Do you talk to him?”
They’re laying on the mats in the combat room, exhausted and panting as practice finally comes to an end. It’d been awhile since they stayed up this late to spar, mostly because they'd both been busy training with the newbies, and Hoseok can tell they'd both gotten rusty with technique. The bruise blooming on his upper arm and at the back of his thigh is evidence enough from where Seokjin caught him earlier off-guard.
Hoseok stretches his sore legs and looks off to one side, “Sometimes? I don’t know, do you?” It’s a clear lie considering the fact that he talked to Taehyung more than anyone else in Divenire, even more than Seokjin and Namjoon.
“Nope, not at all, actually,” Seokjin yawns. “He’s always doing this thing, you know, where he looks like he’s asleep, but I mean, obviously he isn’t.”
Hoseok briefly wonders if Taehyung only talked to him, and somewhere deep down, he took pride in possibly being the only one Taehyung opened up to. He wants to say yeah, he knows more about me than my own parents did, but he keeps it to himself. There were some things that were better left unsaid.
So instead, he says, “Yeah. Obviously.” Hoseok sits up and leans back on his palms, “But whenever we do, it’s kind of like, talking to someone who prefers their coffee black or their shoes one size too big.”
“Except for the fact that they’re not human,” Seokjin murmurs calmly, but his tone is indifferent from what Hoseok’s just said. And Hoseok doesn't blame him.
“But sometimes we aren't so human either,” Hoseok whispers, glancing in the opposite direction. He knows Seokjin is looking at him questioningly.
Seokjin looks at him carefully, eyebrow raised, “Why are you defending him…?”
Hoseok shifts his gaze to the mat and shakes his head. “I’m not. I’m just being… logical.”
“Well I’m not going to say you don’t have a point, but,” he pauses, “Just keep in mind that not all Syloe are like V,” Seokjin says firmly, standing up and dusting off his pants.
Hoseok wants to believe otherwise, that there were other Syloe out there that shared the same qualities as Taehyung. In the back of his mind, he knew there had to be others, and given that his former gang had used anesthetics on their victims to numb the pain rather than eating them alive, it was clear that they weren't just bloodthirsty animals only looking to feed on the innocent.
But tonight wasn't the night for debates or intellectual conversations, and he knows Seokjin is just as tired as he.
He says, “Yeah, I know.”
Taehyung's hair is grey the next time he stops in.
He's sitting slouched in the corner of the quarantine cell, eyes closed, and Hoseok knows something is wrong when he doesn't glance over as Hoseok enters the room. He shuffles up to the glass, squatting where Taehyung is sitting, and knocks on the glass, "Hey, you alright in there?” He’d been asking this a lot lately, but Taehyung never really answered.
When Taehyung doesn't respond, not a movement in his body showing any signs that he'd heard Hoseok. He knocks again, this time near his ear. He says, "Taehyung."
Taehyung's eyes remain closed, but his voice is so small and weak and shaky when he finally responds that Hoseok has to press close to the glass just to hear.
"I'm so hungry,” Taehyung manages to get out.
Hoseok frowns, "Did Namjoon forget to give you a pack of animal blood?"
Taehyung shakes his head slightly, Hoseok almost misses the small gesture, "He did,” he pauses to swallow moisture into his dry throat, "but that shit is like drinking water without having food."
Hoseok sits back, "Are you fucking kidding me? And you're only now telling us?"
Taehyung rests the side of his head against the glass, and Hoseok thinks his skin looks like porcelain, fragile and breakable, "What am I supposed to say? Can I borrow a human to feed on?"
Hoseok falters for a second, "So you were just going to let yourself die?"
Taehyung presses his cheek to the glass, “Dammit," he breathes, and Hoseok absentmindedly presses his fingers to the glass where Taehyung's cheek rests, "Why do you even care?"
Hoseok furrows his brows. He doesn't know how to respond because he doesn't know the answer himself. Minutes pass in silence as he struggles to find some kind of logical reasoning because he’s run out of excuses, but as Taehyung falls limp somewhere in the process, he taps firmly on the glass, "Hey, stay with me."
But Taehyung doesn't respond no matter how hard he taps the glass and Hoseok is starting to worry. He continues tapping on the glass frantically, Taehyung, Taehyung, seriously, come on, but Taehyung doesn't move a finger. So Hoseok stands up and does the first thing that comes to mind.
Hoseok runs up to the entrance to the glass quarantine, punches in the code, and pushes past the sliding door. He hesitates as he approaches Taehyung once he realizes how spontaneously and thoughtlessly he’d entered the cell. It’s the first time since they’d captured him that he’d ever gotten this close without the glass as a separation, and his stomach is stirring uneasily.
Hoseok rushes up to Taehyung and slides to his knees roughly. His hands are shaking with the thought that he could be risking his life right now, and he knows if anything happens, Namjoon will scold him for being reckless, if he was even alive to experience that.
It’d been awhile since he last trusted someone like this, with his entire life, and Hoseok had always kept a line of distance with the people around him even though he appeared genial on the outside, his signature smile always in place. And right now, at any moment, Taehyung could wake up and snap him like a twig for trusting too easily. And just like that, he’d be gone.
He’s mostly wishing for his life.
Taehyung’s hair is soft under his fingers as he grabs his face and shakes him firmly, “Taehyung, you gotta wake up, kid, come on.” Hoseok is shaking him as much as his own hands are shaking, as much as his breathing is shaking, but Taehyung is lifeless, and his eyes don’t open. He slaps him once, twice, and on the third, Hoseok knows it isn’t enough.
Hoseok reaches for his back pocket, pulling out his folding knife and inhales heavily before pulling the neck of his shirt to the side, pressing the blade against the smooth skin of his shoulder. He winces as the blade makes an incision, blood pooling in the white of the fabric instantly and staining his shirt a deep red. Hoseok grabs Taehyung by the shoulders and pulls him forward, adjusting Taehyung’s head on his own shoulder and holding his face near the open wound.
He says, “Fuck, get up. Hurry and drink.” His blood is smearing on Taehyung’s cheek and on Taehyung’s nose, and he also has his own blood on his hands. Hoseok thinks it looks nauseating.
After minutes of jostling Taehyung’s head and holding him in place on his shoulder, Taehyung stirs slightly, and his eyes slowly but gradually reveal grey. Within seconds of regaining consciousness, Taehyung’s pupils dilate, and his hands grip the back of Hoseok’s shirt with so much force the fabric threatens to tear.
When Taehyung glances up at him, unsure and confused, Hoseok bites the inside of his cheek roughly, “Just do it.” Taehyung doesn’t need to be told twice before he pulls his lips back, revealing sharp fangs.
It’s the shock of teeth piercing into his flesh that numbs the initial pain as they sink into his shoulder. He can hear the blood rushing in his ears like a raging tide, just as he’d always wondered, and the sound alone makes him dizzy. His pulse is racing with adrenaline, and his limbs feel like jello, weak and heavy. It hurts a lot less than he’d ever imagined, but it doesn't not hurt either. His entire shoulder feels like it’s on fire, and Taehyung is feasting on his blood without holding back. It may be his first actual meal in the few months that had passed, and it’s probably the reason Taehyung was feeding so eagerly. Hoseok bites on his lip roughly.
Eventually his vision gets blurry, and he’s fading in and out of consciousness. He’s losing feeling in his fingers, but he grips at Taehyung’s arm with white knuckles, swallowing thickly, “You’re going to kill me if you don’t stop.”
Suddenly Taehyung is pulling back with wide eyes, glancing down at his shoulder wound, confusion coloring his face, blood dripping from his chin obscenely. Hoseok is sure he looks pretty terrible right now, and he can barely open his eyes all the way. Taehyung pulls away completely, “Fuck,” he says, “Fuck, what did I do. I don’t, I didn’t, I’m so sorry-“
Hoseok glances at the door quickly as he hears Seokjin’s voice approaching. He reaches across, attempting to wipe at Taehyung’s mouth, “You need to wipe your face now,” and he clambers to the quarantine door sluggishly, practically dragging his body there and tripping over his own feet in the short distance. He punches in his code with difficulty from blurred vision and shaky knees, pushing through the door before it slides open all the way and collapses hurriedly against the glass. Hoseok grabs his sweater off the floor and throws it on.
The room is spinning at infinite miles an hour, and he feels like he really might just pass out at any second. He’s already struggling to keep his eyes open. Taehyung is looking at him with confusion and irritation and guilt all in one expression, but Hoseok tries to relax and look alive before Seokjin enters.
The door slides open, and Seokjin comes walking in. “Hey, just checking in to make sure everything is alright,” Seokjin says, scanning the room.
Hoseok nods stiffly. He can feel blood dampening his black sweater and sliding down his torso uncomfortably. He glances at Taehyung, eyes trained on the floor to conceal his face, and Hoseok looks away in slight relief to see that he’d wiped his mouth of any remnants of blood. Hoseok forces a smiles that doesn't reach his eyes, “Yeah, everything is cool.”
Seokjin takes a few steps forward, and Hoseok tenses nervously, “You sure? You look like you’re about to faint, Hoseok.” Seokjin squints his eyes, concern slowly showing, “You also look really sick.” He turns to look at Taehyung who hastily drops his head again and stares at his lap.
Hoseok quickly speaks up, “I’m fine, Seokjin. I think I have a small cold or something. Jimin probably gave it to me.”
Seokjin glances back to Taehyung but looks at him with a smirk, “Oh? How’d that happen?”
Judging by the smirk, Hoseok knows he’s successfully averted Seokjin’s attention. He relaxes his muscles and cracks a small smile, “Fuck you. I’ve been helping him with combat lately because of active duty.”
Seokjin scoffs, “Active duty. Right.” He grabs the stack of papers from the desk and walks to the door, “Anyway, don’t push yourself. You look pretty terrible. Just call for one of us if you need to rest and we’ll get someone to take over. Yeah?”
Hoseok nods and watches Seokjin disappear through the door, and within seconds, Taehyung is squatting near him, as close as he could get in the quarantine cell, eyes narrowed with his chin resting in an open palm. He says, “Yeah. You want to explain what you were thinking just now or…?”
Hoseok winces when he shifts to straighten his back, struggling to pull off his sweater with just one hand. He’s got an arm halfway out - this was the tricky part - and he starts pulling it over his head once he’s got one sleeve off, “Just be happy I saved your ass.”
Taehyung nods sarcastically and snorts, “Right, so you let me drink half of your body’s blood supply till you’re at the brink of death and then you call it ‘saving’.”
Hoseok isn’t really paying attention to Taehyung. He’s got blood soaked in his clothes and his entire right side feels sore. He says, “You weren’t there when I called, and then I found you. That’s saving.” Hoseok looks up from his sweater, “And plus, you didn't have to feed off of me,” he half-growls and looks at Taehyung pointedly, “You had a choice.” Taehyung doesn’t look any more amused, Hoseok finds it irritating. It’s the first time Hoseok had ever seen Taehyung lose his cool. But as he stares at Taehyung under the light, he notices the color had returned in his hair, the intensity back in his eyes, and although still pale, he didn’t look like death.
“Let’s get this straight, we Syloe will so much as devour whatever smells the slightest of blood when we haven’t fed in over a week. Maybe even less. I’ve seen some of us feed on humans till their heads fell off because they hadn’t fed in days,” Taehyung says under his breath, never once taking his eyes off Hoseok as he spoke. “I haven’t fed properly in god knows how long, and what you did just now could have led to murder. I just… you’re lucky you even made it out alive,” pause, “What if I couldn’t stop myself?”
Hoseok had stopped struggling with his sweater, but he did finally get it off with his shirt in one move earlier. “If you think I didn’t know what I was walking into when I did what I did, you're wrong. There’s a certain level of trust you can have in people that stems from knowing who they are and how they'll react. I trusted- trust you enough to know you weren't going to dismember my fucking head, okay? You should be appreciating the fact that we’re both alive,” Hoseok responds, standing up shakily, “Kind of.” Taehyung stops talking and stares up at him blankly.
His skin is smeared with his own blood, and he balances himself before shuffling carefully to the restroom to grab paper towels, stopping to glance at his shoulder in the mirror. It isn’t as bad as he’d thought, one cut from his blade and two holes from Taehyung’s teeth, like a mess of shapes, but somehow, the two punctures were already closing up. The skin in the surrounding areas blush a light pink, bordering his wounds as the skin swells a little. He runs his fingers lightly over his shoulder, sensitive but numb.
With one last look, Hoseok cleans the cut and applies ointment before pressing a large bandage to his shoulder, grimacing at the pressure. He runs his shirt under warm water, rinsing the blood out and throws it over the chair to dry on his way out. Taehyung is playing with his lips, eyes averted and deep in thought. Hoseok quietly goes to sit near him, back pressed against the glass.
Taehyung presses his own back against the glass beside Hoseok within the cell. “When Syloe feed, they get a glimpse of the person’s memory. It’s so quick we can barely understand it, let alone remember it. Kind of like a dream,” he mutters, pulling a knee into his chest.
Hoseok nods slowly, “So what did you see with me?”
Taehyung looks up at the ceiling for a moment, says, “The moon. But I also felt a rush of warmth.”
“Warmth?” Hoseok asks, turning to look at Taehyung.
Taehyung nods, “Yeah. As if your blood spread through me and warmed my veins or something. It was a weird feeling, like playing with fire but never actually getting burned, you know? I’ve never fed on someone and felt warm before.”
Hoseok furrows his brows, “That is weird.”
Taehyung laughs quietly to himself, “Your blood tasted good, though. Really good. Very sweet and rich.” Taehyung hums to himself - Hoseok isn't sure if he’s meant to hear it - and licks his lips, “I can still taste it. Not going to lie, under other circumstances when I’m not a rabid dog, I’d do it again.”
Hoseok makes a face, but his stomach curls, “Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
Taehyung says, “Yeah.” He rests his head on the glass, “It’s faint, but while I was feeding on you, I remembered it after I saw your memory. I don’t know how, but I had an entire bottle of wine in my hand. And I was sitting in an empty field under a sky full of stars. The taste of your blood reminded me of that wine.”
Hoseok looks at Taehyung through the glass, “Sounds lonely.”
Taehyung turns to face him, and Hoseok lets himself get lost in grey, cloudy skies and rainy days. “It was,” he whispers, scanning Hoseok’s face.
Hoseok glances down at Taehyung’s lips, stained a rosy red, and he looks up to see the latter doing the same, eyes trailing down to his bare chest and bandaged shoulder. Hoseok’s lips twitch under pressure. He rests his head against the glass, too, mirroring Taehyung, and exhales.
They stay like this the rest of the night till Hoseok falls asleep to the sight of Taehyung watching him with gentle eyes.
Hoseok takes it upon himself to stop by the quarantine room more often, offering to take over Namjoon’s guard shift with a convincing spiel about how he needed a break from all the extra training he’d been doing with the other members. Namjoon is easily convinced because he couldn't stand being stuffed in a room hours at a time with nothing to do. He isn’t surprised, Namjoon was the type that was always on his feet and enjoyed being busy. A sitting job just wasn’t his thing.
Jimin had found him asleep, shirtless, and bandaged when he entered the room after the incident last week. Hoseok had jumped and stood up too quickly, all the blood rushing to his feet, and he ended up falling backwards with his head spinning. He could see Taehyung in his peripheral vision lean forward, but Jimin had lunged forward too and caught him before he hit the floor.
As for the bandage, he’d made up some dumb excuse about getting hurt during combat practice from one of the knives, which didn't explain why he was shirtless, but Jimin didn’t question him further, and he was thankful Jimin wasn’t one to push matters. His shoulder felt significantly better, and although sore, he could actually move his arm without the feeling of pain shooting up the right side of his body. He had gingerly thrown his shirt over his head before leaving the room, glancing behind him to see Taehyung watching. He stalled till Jimin was looking away before flashing a small smile at Taehyung as he left.
The image of Taehyung’s smiling face replayed itself in Hoseok’s mind the rest of the day.
Yoongi kneels along the rooftop’s edge, staring down to observe the Divenire squad just below him. There’s only three of them tonight getting ready to separate to guard different grounds for the last few hours before sunrise, blending in with the night in their fitted black tees and pants. Yoongi thinks he should be heading back now, but he wants to wait for the right time, the right moment when his mind won’t wander into dangerous territory on his way back home, when he doesn't need to question Taehyung’s safety.
He watches as the other two retreat in different directions quietly, leaving one to guard the area that Yoongi had been loitering in for the past three hours. It’s Jimin, Yoongi can tell by his messy light brown hair and squared shoulders. He had been observing long enough to know Jimin got nervous when they broke off into individual groups, shifty eyes and white-knuckled grip a dead giveaway to his shaky demeanor, and he wasn't the best at hiding his nervousness, which made him an easy target.
On several occasions, Yoongi had doubted Jimin’s abilities, thinking he would be dead by sunrise, but to his surprise and slight amusement, Jimin was a fighter, determined and hardworking in the sense that he fought hard to survive for the Divenire, not for himself. He had traits Yoongi wished he embodied as alpha of his group, and deep, deep down, he admired the boy for the code he lived by.
Yoongi watches as Jimin glances around before jumping up to grab hold of the ladder at the back of the apartment complex, yanking it down and making his way up to the rooftop. And it’s funny, kneeling on parallel rooftops with the enemy when he didn’t know he was being watched. He could easily jump to the next rooftop, maybe even have Jimin as a late night snack. But he knew that the Divenire were trained well enough to be able to protect themselves even in situations where they were caught off-guard.
So instead, he waits a few minutes, watching Jimin stare into the flashing lights of the city, neon signs and headlights reflecting in his eyes like a kaleidoscope.
“Calming, isn't it?” Yoongi says, loud enough for Jimin to hear.
Jimin is shocked out of his daze, swiftly whipping around towards the source of the voice, guard up and ready to attack. His eyes land on Yoongi, and he cautiously takes a step backwards, eyes narrowed. “Don’t you dare move,” he growls, reaching one hand to the back of his belt and resting a hand on his switch blade.
Yoongi chuckles softly, and Jimin frowns in confusion. “Chill, I’m not here to hurt anyone. My gang left this city awhile ago because you took one of us,” he responds calmly. His tone is almost bitter, but Yoongi tries to save the drama for another time.
Jimin doesn't relax from his stance, not visibly, but Yoongi does see realization cross his face. “So you came to get him back,” Jimin says stiffly.
“I came to reminisce in the ghost of a memory,” Yoongi responds, staring out at the city before them, rushing past like a whirlwind of stories with missing pages.
Jimin furrows his brows, “I don't believe you.”
“I didn't ask you to,” he comments, staring Jimin in the eyes. “If I was here to feed, don't you think I would've done it earlier and not two hours before sunrise?” He raises a skeptical brow.
Jimin lowers his arms, “Who are you?”
“Just another face, kid.” Yoongi points at the other, “But you're Jimin.”
Shock colors Jimin’s face, and he almost completely drops his guard, “What- how do you know my name?” He asks firmly, seriously.
Yoongi stands with his hands up as he takes a step on the edge of the roof. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything,” he reassures.
He jumps the short distance to join Jimin, landing on the gravel. Jimin instinctively puts his guard up again, backing away a few steps, and Yoongi can see his eyes quivering.
Yoongi puts his hands in his jacket pocket, “I’ve been watching you this past month. Creepy as fuck, I know, but I didn't know what to do after we lost Taehyung from our group. So I watched the enemy instead.”
Jimin shakes his head, frown still in place, “That makes no sense. You Syloe don't just coexist with humans as equals, you feed off of us. So why are you coming into our city just to observe our kind?”
“To understand what we used to be.”
The words hit Jimin like a fist in the stomach, and his arms slowly drop to his sides. He doesn't quite get it completely, but what he does get is that the Syloe also had human qualities, and it still hurt to get a loved one taken from their lives, regardless if their hearts beat slower or if their skin was paler. Somewhere in him, it hits home because he knows the feeling.
Yoongi takes a step forward, “You know, we aren't as bad as you think.” He reaches out and swipes a cold hand against Jimin’s neck where his pulse is, feeling each and every vibration that runs through his body before stepping back.
“Try to keep that pretty little face of yours out of danger, okay?”
And Yoongi jumps off the rooftop and disappears into dawn.
He doesn’t know how it began or why they had been okay with it, but somewhere in the mess, Hoseok lets Taehyung feed on his blood whenever the animal blood isn't enough.
And it doesn't make sense. They’d had a small argument the first time around about how it shouldn't have happened because Hoseok had almost died. But a week after the feeding incident, Taehyung is back to his weak and frail self after being exposed to human blood again. His body was slowly starting to reject the animal blood, and the exposure to Hoseok’s blood made it realize how much it needed human blood to function regularly. In a way, Hoseok had made a big mistake, and only he could deal with it.
But Hoseok vividly remembers the night when it had seemingly become normal. Taehyung had been staring at him with fire in his eyes till he was shifting uncomfortably under his gaze. The wound on his shoulder had already healed, Taehyung explaining that their puncture wounds closed up after a few hours along with the pain if the “supplier” wasn’t killed.
Throughout the night, regardless of what he was talking about, whether it be Namjoon’s terrible sense of humor or how bad the restrooms smelled, Taehyung would randomly moan against the glass, eyes closed and eyebrows scrunched. Hoseok was thoroughly confused at first, and all he could notice was how Taehyung would lick his lips every few seconds, biting on them so hard that the skin broke (Hoseok had smacked the glass in the middle of his sentence, what the fuck are you doing?)
Needless to say, it was weird, but Taehyung had finally admitted to being starved, and the scent of Hoseok’s blood was driving him crazy. It explained why Taehyung looked so frail and delicate slouched against the wall, and he should've known from the last time.
Taehyung had been adamant in the first few hours against Hoseok’s offer to feed off of him, and they had argued, again, about the risks and how unethical the situation was for another very long hour. Eventually Taehyung caved as the night progressed and his hunger grew, and Hoseok had entered the cell, squatting on one knee in front of the other with an arm extended.
“Don’t drain me this time,” he’d warned.
Taehyung had wrapped strong, thin hands around his forearm, said, “Yeah,” with desperation lacing his voice.
There was discomfort as Taehyung slowly sank his teeth into his forearm, and the pain was subdued by the pressure of Taehyung’s hands squeezing his wrist and elbow tightly to direct the blood. He stared down at Taehyung, lifting his other hand to lightly run through the other’s soft hair as he fed.
Just before he started feeling lightheaded, Taehyung pulled away with a loud sigh of satisfaction, like chugging an entire bottle of water in one gulp. “So good,” he groaned, eyes dilated and half-lidded.
Taehyung made sure to lick away any remnants of blood on Hoseok’s arm and swiped his tongue along the top row of his teeth, savoring every drop. Hoseok pulled back the hand around Taehyung’s neck and scrunched his nose up at the slight pain in his arm.
As he stood up to leave the cell, Taehyung had grabbed Hoseok by the wrist gently, giving his new puncture wounds a small peck and smiled up at him happily with his wide rectangular smile. Hoseok had smacked him across the head.
And they continued like this, in secrecy, until Hoseok was waking up in the middle of the night with sweat beading on his forehead and heat in his lower half, the image of sharp teeth and piercing grey eyes and blushed lips fading away in his mind as he blinked the sleep away.
But at the end of the day, Hoseok blames the imbalance in his body on the loss of blood and not because of the tingles Taehyung’s lips left in their wake on his skin.
“Hey, turn towards me.”
Hoseok turns to face Taehyung and squints.
Taehyung looks confused, but he complies and moves so that he’s facing Hoseok on the opposite side of the glass, legs crossed. He drops his gaze down to Hoseok’s neck, a habit he’d grown since he’d started feeding on the latter.
Hoseok motions with his finger, “Look at me.” He leans back and frowns, “Are you regaining color in your skin?” His eyebrows shoot up.
Taehyung squishes his brows together, “What? I don't know, I shouldn't be. That wouldn’t make any sense.”
“No, you're definitely more peachy than you were a few days ago. I can tell ‘cause you're normally pale as hell,” Hoseok is nodding his head amusedly and surely. He wasn’t an artist, but he could tell the difference between white and cream.
“Okay, either I fed too much on you the other day or you're losing it,” Taehyung snorts skeptically.
Hoseok raps his knuckles on the glass and smirks, “Maybe. But there’s no doubt your skin looks brighter.” He takes one last once-over and looks away, saving the matter for another time. Taehyung turns his body and sits next to him, the same nightly routine they’d followed for weeks now. Hoseok thinks he’s gotten more used to it than waking up every morning to brush his teeth and prepare coffee, but he preferred this over the monotony.
“Anyway do you need to feed tonight? It’s been a few days since we last did it,” Hoseok yawns, ghosting his fingers over his forearm where Taehyung last bit into. The skin there looks slightly lighter than the rest of his body, but he thinks it might also be the lighting.
Taehyung doesn’t answer for awhile, so Hoseok presses in the pass code and enters the glass cell, squatting beside him and rolls up his sleeve past the elbow. Getting blood taken from his forearm hurt a lot less than from his neck or hand, but he knew Taehyung liked it best from his shoulder like the first time he’d fed on him.
Taehyung grabs his wrist to halt the movement midair. “Hey, I don't know if this has to do anything with your comment before, about my skin, but can we just, for a little bit,” and he pulls Hoseok into a tight embrace, wrapping thin arms around his torso and resting his forehead against Hoseok’s chin. “My fingers were itching to touch you since you walked in.”
Hoseok doesn’t know what to say, so he doesn’t at all. His arms feel awkward on his own body, like two pieces of cardboard jagged around the edges, and he doesn’t know exactly where to put them, eventually resorting to resting one at the back of Taehyung’s neck and the other on his own knee.
Taehyung’s body, although mostly cold, felt warm in random instances, almost as if it came and went with every other pulse inconsistently. The hair at the back of his neck was soft as he played distractedly with it, feathery and silky, and Hoseok wondered what it would feel like to press his nose against the skin there.
It’d been awhile since he’d last had human contact with anyone besides Seokjin during combat, and the closest he’d ever physically gotten to Taehyung were the times he’d let him feed on his shoulder or neck. He’d dreamt of running his lips down Taehyung’s back more times than he’d ever admit, and his hands itched to slide up his shirt every so often when he couldn't focus during strategy lessons, but the most they’d ever actually gotten to intimacy with blood put aside was the small kiss Taehyung had left on his forearm last week. And now with Taehyung pressed against his chest, Hoseok can’t help but notice the smell of roses and winter in his hair.
Taehyung exhales a breathy laugh that tickles against his neck, and Hoseok almost anticipates sharp teeth to graze his neck, “All the blood rushing to your cheeks is making me hungry.”
Hoseok hadn’t realized his beat-red face, but with Taehyung’s fingers lightly gripping the back of his shirt and his still chest pressed against his own steadily increasing heartbeat, Hoseok realizes why he’d been waking up in the middle of the night gasping with the fading image of Taehyung in his mind.
He’d fallen for the wrong side.
He’d fallen for a Syloe.
“Do you remember anything about a small red ball when you were a kid?” Taehyung rests his head against the glass and stares at the curves in Hoseok’s fingers. The last time he’d fed on Hoseok, he'd seen the memory of the object, and it made him curious since.
Hoseok watches Taehyung’s reflection through the glass, “Yeah, actually I do.” He blinks and looks at the ceiling in thought, “My mom gave it to me when I was about six. She had this huge smile on her face when she placed it in my hands, like suddenly she’d handed the world over to me and not some toy that I would accidentally pop a few months later.”
Taehyung hums and licks his lips, “Maybe she did give you the world.”
Hoseok scoffs and shakes his head lightly, “No.” He looks down at his open palms, “No, she gave me my childhood and left it in my own hands.”
Silence consumes the room, and Hoseok allows himself to explore his curiosity and memories. Normally he wouldn't trudge into the depths of his mind, but he wasn’t alone this time, which guaranteed that he wouldn’t stray too far.
After a few minutes, Taehyung shifts inside the cell, “Hey, can you come sit in here with me? This glass is pissing me off because I really like touching you.”
Taehyung’s body is the slightest bit warmer as he leans his chest against Hoseok’s back from behind, hands coming around the front to embrace his middle, and he thinks it’s oddly comforting, like lukewarm water on days when he fell ill. He lets Taehyung press his nose at the spot behind his ear, through his hair, against his spinal chord. He can feel Taehyung slightly sniffing and inhaling his scent, and when he feels the neckline of his shirt pulled aside to reveal the top of his shoulder, he turns his head to look behind him.
“Are you hungry already? I let you feed yesterday,” Hoseok says amusedly and lifts his eyebrows.
What he doesn’t expect is for Taehyung’s lips to replace the feeling of teeth as he presses a small kiss to the juncture between his shoulder and neck, trailing more the rest of the way down to the bruise on his arm. His eyes soften at the feeling.
Hoseok pulls away and turns to face Taehyung. He takes the time to revel in Taehyung’s sharp eyes and plush lips, reaching forward to swipe his thumb along his bottom lip slowly to feel every line in the skin.
“I wouldn’t have to feel this way if you weren’t such a pretty little thing… you know that?” Hoseok mumbles, mostly to himself, holding his thumb at the corner of Taehyung’s lips. They were slightly red on the inner parts, like blood had stained the pale flesh the same way wine spilt on white fabric.
Taehyung’s tongue peeks out and pulls the tip of his thumb into a warm, inviting mouth. “Tell me how you feel,” he breathes.
Hoseok leans forward and ghosts his lips over Taehyung’s stained ones. It’d been weeks since he wished they'd stain his too.
He pulls his hand away, biting on the inside of his mouth as a string of Taehyung’s saliva follows his thumb almost obscenely, his mouth partly open to reveal just the tips of his teeth. Hoseok presses his forehead gently against Taehyung’s.
He whispers, like this, before he molds their lips together.
Hoseok thinks Taehyung is a mellow evening in September, dusk casting soft, sweet air on the moon, but he’d never seen anybody with rays so covered in black.
He thinks Taehyung has the perfect hands and thumbs even if they held a past so dark that even the brightest of blood couldn't reveal it. But Hoseok never asks about the mothers he’d killed or the lovers he’d left to die alone, separated with matching necklaces soaked in blood. Instead he reminds himself of survival and life whenever he looks into Taehyung’s glinting grey eyes. It was only fair because Taehyung never asked about the Syloe children he’d executed or the harmless Syloe women he’d killed that had begged to be saved. There was a list of his regrets, numbered off only at the odds. Hoseok had done more than a handful of things that he didn’t want to be reminded of either.
But as of late, all he can see is the possibility that those glowing grey eyes could one day turn black. And Hoseok doesn’t think he’d be able to find his way out.
He says, “Would you want to become human again?”
Hoseok forces his mind out of the dark. That was dangerous territory he didn’t want to dabble in, unless it meant drifting off to sleep moments later where he could soak himself in misery and not remember it the following morning. Hoseok had never been much of an explorer, and that included the depths of his mind.
Taehyung looks down at Hoseok’s head resting in his lap and threads long fingers through messy hair, watching it fall like sand through the gaps of his hand. He tugs at random strands playfully. “Any day,” he responds without hesitation, as if he were already expecting the question.
Hoseok’s eyes widen just slightly, but not enough to circle his irises in white. “Really? Death and all?” He asks skeptically.
“Death and all. I’d much rather die with my loved ones than live to watch them go,” Taehyung comments, ghosting fingertips over his collarbones. “I miss having a shadow to chase and footsteps to guide me.”
Hoseok smiles and shakes his head a little, “I think I was just a toddler at the time. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, when it's so still it actually makes you feel like you’re the only one that’s alive. I went to grab a glass of milk, and on my way back, I got paranoid ‘cause of my own shadow. It followed me along the walls, and my footsteps were so loud I thought someone was behind me the entire time, yet I ran the entire way back anyway and threw myself under the covers.”
Hoseok laughs softly and stares at a random spot on the ceiling, wondering if Taehyung shared similar childhood memories of fear and innocence, or maybe he was a courageous kid with a plastic sword that wasn’t afraid of the dark. He turns his head to one side, brushing the tip of his nose against the flat of Taehyung’s stomach. “You can share mine, my shadow,” he mumbles. “I mean, I can’t even recognize myself in my own shadow sometimes, and I guess that scares me.”
Taehyung traces Hoseok’s collarbones until even he feels like an artist of some sort. “If it makes you feel any better, I don’t even recognize myself sometimes. I look at myself, and all I see is white,” he responds, distantly, like a resonating chord reaching silence. “But that’d be pretty wonderful if I could share yours. That way I don’t have to deal with the sun all by myself.”
Taehyung curls his fingers in the hem of Hoseok’s sleeve and leaves it there, pausing to organize his thoughts the same way he counts the stitching along the edge. “Don’t be scared of your shadow. It’s you, you know, just without all your small, little habits and flaws,” Taehyung says.
Hoseok wants to tell him about the way he can’t feel his fingertips or his toes when he looks at Taehyung and that sometimes he gets lightheaded without Taehyung having to feed on him. And sometimes his hands feel like they can reach the sky when Taehyung draws memories into the palms of his hands. Because when Hoseok looked at Taehyung, he saw a myriad of colors in the form of emotions the same way paint splattered blank canvases. But instead of ranting, he closes his eyes and hums in response, simple, because he doesn’t know if he can handle the emotions once they’ve left his mouth and take shape as actual words.
And anyway, Hoseok can’t seem to pay attention to anything but Taehyung’s perfect hands and thumbs. Hoseok thinks the way Taehyung grips onto the fabric of his shirt is like an angel who’s lost his wings, clinging onto clouds to avoid the fall from heaven. He reaches out and covers Taehyung’s hand with his own.
Before Taehyung leans down to kiss him, Hoseok says, “White is my favorite color.”
The moon is especially bright that night, but Jimin doesn’t think it could get any darker, what with the lone Syloe at his heels, trying to suck his blood dry.
It’d been the usual split within their half-team, two members heading to guard the other parts of the city, when he’d been attacked by a thirsty Syloe looking for an onsite meal, charging at him from his blind spot. He’d gotten in a few blows to the jaw and a good shot in its shoulder, giving him time to flee from the scene, but the gash in his right thigh from the Syloe’s fangs slowed him down considerably to a limping mess, and he knew the smell of his blood would give him away wherever he decided to hide.
Panting, Jimin quickly tears a strip of fabric from his shirt and ties it tight around his thigh to help stop the bleeding. It was a deep bite, that was for sure, and he’d definitely need a couple stitches for it when and if he got back to headquarters. He winces at the pressure and tries wiping his bloody hands in the dirt to hide the smell.
Jimin leans against the brick wall behind him, wedged in a small gap between two buildings and out of sight from the common eye. His earpiece had broken back when the Syloe had crashed into him from behind, shoving him to the ground roughly with the sound of teeth clacking near his ear.
Somewhere during the thrashing, he heard something crunch only to see his earpiece shattered to pieces beneath the Syloe’s left foot. There was no other way in trying to contact his squad members, and he knew he’d have to wait it out until morning unless one of them sensed danger and went looking for him. But now, it was only a matter of time until the Syloe found him.
He’s in the middle of crunching dirt in his hands when he hears the sound of nails scratching along the dumpsters, and his blood runs cold. His breath hitches in his throat, and he doesn’t dare breath, not even a small gasp of air leaving his mouth. Jimin’s hands still their movement in the dirt, and his eyes trail to the sliver of moonlight just beside him as the sound gradually approaches.
Suddenly the scratching stops, and the night becomes unbearably quiet as he strains his ears to pick up any sound of movement. He thinks his lungs might burst from holding his breath for so long.
Just as he starts inhaling slowly, firm hands grab for his ankle and sharp teeth move to bite into his wounded leg.
Jimin’s yell resonates throughout the block loudly, echoing in the nearby alleyways and ringing in his ears like a bell. It was against squad rules to scream and potentially draw attention or help from any civilians, but he’d just been viciously attacked by surprise, and his life was on the line. At this point, he was going to try anything it took to garner attention from his squad members.
His hands are shaking against the Syloe’s forehead as he tries to shove the salivating mouth away from his wounded thigh. He reaches for the gun at his side, knocking the butt of it against the creature’s head with all his strength. On the second swing, the Syloe easily dodges it, pulling away and lurching for his neck before he has time to aim his gun to shoot. Jimin isn’t sure if he’d accidentally grabbed his tranquilizer gun or his loaded hand gun, but either one was going to help him from becoming a meal. He briefly thinks about all of his failures from his twenty years of living.
Jimin is pushed back against the brick wall with a loud thump as the Syloe inches sharp fangs towards any part of his body it could get to. He’s trying his best to fend off the enemy, but he’s far weaker in comparison and can’t move his arms under the firm grip of the Syloe. His body is shaking both from fear and exhaustion, and he doesn’t think he can hold up much longer.
Thirsty Syloe that traveled alone were by-far the most dangerous kinds of Syloe; they were stronger than the ones that fed regularly and from the ones that worked in gangs where they depended on each other. Their eyes were bloodshot, fangs much larger and sharper, and their skin tone had a small, subtle tint of green than the solid pale grey the dependent Syloe had. Seeing one up so close, Jimin thinks they’re like rabid dogs foaming at the mouth.
Jimin’s arms were going to give out any second, and once they did, he was going to be eaten alive. The thought of dying right then and there by a Loner made him more frightened than ever, and he briefly wishes it’d been a regular Syloe feeding on him instead. Tears brim his eyes as he tries freeing his arms from the Syloe’s hands, and at this point, he isn’t sure if the quiet noises escaping his mouth are sobs or growls.
Just as his arms go slack, he prepares himself for the sting, but the weight of the Syloe disappears before he can blink as something solid crashes into it. Jimin quickly tries pulling himself up onto two feet, but his body had lost an excessive amount of blood, and his head is spinning so fast his vision is blurred. He stumbles back onto the ground, kicking his good leg in an attempt to crawl away from the alley. But as soon as Jimin glances behind him, his eyes go wide in shock.
The Syloe from the other night is straddling his attacker, a knee on each of its arms to hold it still. His body is more petite than the one beneath him, but judging by his strength, he wasn’t one to mess with, and Jimin wasn’t going to take any chances.
Yoongi grabs the knife from the side of his shoe, twirling it between his fingers unhurriedly. Jimin imagines he’s smirking while doing it. He twirls it one last time before gripping it tightly, and in one swift movement, dives the blade deep into the attacker’s throat without hesitation. Yoongi stands up and pulls the blade from the motionless body and turns to advance towards Jimin.
Jimin tries to escape, but his back hits the wall behind him yet again, trapping him from escaping. He figures it just isn’t in his cards to survive tonight. “Don’t kill me,” he breathes shakily, desperation lacing his words like smoke. “Please don’t.”
Yoongi raises a brow and kneels down in front of Jimin on one knee. “Isn’t it against squad rules to beg Syloe for mercy?” He asks amusedly.
Jimin flinches as Yoongi reaches down to his wounded thigh, shutting his eyes tight, “Please, don’t do this.” He swallows the lump in his throat and prays to whatever god existed, hoping his death would be a quick one. Maybe he’d bleed out within the next few seconds if he was lucky.
“Just shut up, will you,” Yoongi mumbles with a sigh. He clips the piece of fabric wrapped around Jimin’s thigh, cutting a large hole into his pants and tearing it wider, revealing the bloody bite mark in his leg. “Damn, that asshole really chomped your thigh, didn’t he?” he mutters, furrowing his brows to control himself from all the blood. His eyes are dilating, and his shoulders are tense.
Jimin opens his eyes slowly, vision blurry. He can’t tell if it’s from the loss of blood or if his eyes were shut too tight. He blinks in confusion, “What the fuck, why are you- you’re not going to kill me…?”
“Look, kid. I’ve said this before, if I wanted to feed on you, I wouldn't be sitting here giving a fuck and tending to this bite. You’re going to die if we don’t get this closed up,” Yoongi responds, setting his knife down beside him. “The Syloe that did this to you didn’t bother shrinking the bite, no surprise, so I’m going to have to do it myself. Just relax, don’t struggle, and shut the fuck up. I’ll get you fixed up if you make this easy for me.”
Jimin watches as Yoongi leans down to press his lips against the wound. He groans in pain as Yoongi sucks at the large holes in his thigh. Jimin clenches his hands into fists, pulling his bottom lip in between his teeth. His entire leg feels like it’s on fire, and he can feel his leg muscles twitch spastically from the pain, the feeling of weakness consuming him so much he isn’t sure if he wants to laugh or cry. Yet even amidst all the pain and blood loss, Jimin can feel his face turn red at Yoongi’s head nestled in his lap.
Yoongi’s tongue sweeps along the wound rhythmically, and after a few minutes, he pulls away with red lips, exhaling a breath of air. Jimin notices the way he gulps and looks away slightly.
“That should do it. Give it a little less than an hour and it’ll close up. The bleeding should stop soon too, enough so that you won’t die,” Yoongi mutters huskily, clearing his throat and glancing behind him at the dead Syloe.
Jimin slowly releases his tight fists and tries moving his leg. A sharp pain shoots up his thigh. “Ow, fuck,” he grimaces, letting out a low groan of frustration.
Yoongi has a smug look on his face as he wipes the blade of his knife along his pants before placing it back into its holder on the side of his shoe. “That Syloe definitely wanted to eat you up,” Yoongi says with raised brows. He swipes his tongue along the corner of his mouth slowly, as if savoring the taste, “I don’t blame him, I would too.”
Jimin frowns and braces a hand on the side of his wounded leg. “Why did you help me? I mean… why would you kill your own kind just to help mine?” Jimin asks confusedly, looking anywhere but Yoongi’s lips colored with his blood and the lifeless body just a few feet from them, reeking of iron.
“To be really damn honest, I don’t know why I did it. But one thing’s for sure, and it’s that we Syloe dislike the Loners just as much as you. Yet…” he says, pausing and running fingertips around the punctures in Jimin’s leg. Jimin winces. “Killing him was one thing, but saving you is another. There’s something about you… And it makes me want to protect you,” Yoongi whispers.
Yoongi squints in thought, and Jimin pulls back slightly when the Syloe reaches forward to run a thumb along his cheekbone before pulling away completely, standing up and moving towards the dead corpse. Yoongi grabs the body by the arm, heaving it over his shoulder with a huff. He grunts and takes a few steps forward in the opposite direction, getting ready to retreat into the shadows of the night to dispose of the body before sunrise. He’d already revealed too much about himself, and he had no other reason to stick around longer.
Jimin’s cheek tingles as he watches Yoongi blankly, like the first few drops of rain before the storm. He doesn’t think he’ll ever come to understand the tenderness in the Syloe’s eyes whenever their gazes lock.
Jimin sits forward abruptly, hand shooting out to stop him from leaving. “Wait I-“ he begins, gritting his teeth gingerly at his immobile leg. “I owe you for saving my life back there,” he mumbles, shifting his eyes to the dead body.
Yoongi makes a face and adjusts the body on his shoulder. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he responds with the slightest of smiles, walking away silently with a half wave.
Jimin stutters, “What’s your name?”
And Yoongi looks over his shoulder, “Yoongi.”
Jimin stumbles the entire way back to headquarters with the feeling of Yoongi’s lips against him in the same way the name rolled off his tongue till sunrise.
"What do you guys think you'd be doing if you weren't in Divenire?" Seokjin asks thoughtfully.
Hoseok, Namjoon, and Seokjin are in the library's blueprint room, helping the newcomers with strategy studies. Hoseok and Seokjin had joined Namjoon after they'd spent the better part of the morning bringing in the new shipment of weapons from upper Seele, sorting them into their respective rooms and making sure the extras were locked up securely in storage.
Jimin was still on guard duty with Taehyung, but something about his absence felt strange as the three of them casually passed the time, talking aimlessly about things that held no weight, about everything and nothing all at once. Hoseok thinks it’s okay because most of the time, the weight on his shoulders is too much that even he couldn’t handle it.
Namjoon leans back in his chair, legs draped over the surface of the table like the rebels in the movies with nice hair. He grabs the pen behind his ear and taps it rhythmically on his knee. "Maybe an author. Or a music artist," he drawls out slowly, eyes squinted in contemplation.
Hoseok smirks, "Emotional, huh?" Namjoon throws the pen at him, but Hoseok dodges it swiftly, picking it up from the floor and hitting Namjoon square in the chest.
Seokjin rolls his eyes and sits up straight. He crosses his arms on the table, "Not going to lie, I'd probably be a chef."
Hoseok looks down at his hands as Namjoon and Seokjin turn to him expectantly, unintentionally avoiding eye contact to think about a good response. He collapses back against his chair, cocking his head to one side. "I don't really know. I guess so long as I'm happy, I don't really care what I'd be doing," he responds with furrowed brows, staring at a random spot behind Seokjin's head.
Namjoon snickers, "Who invited the hippie?"
Hoseok kicks his foot from under the table and grumbles, "Don't be an ass, I'm being serious." He turns to glance at the group of newcomers, huddled over blueprints and handouts with various formation studies and makeshift scenarios. He thinks about how they’ll be doing that for years to come.
Hoseok remembers the days when he was once a newcomer, working on the same things with Namjoon hovering over his shoulder, pointing here and there to help him understand. "I mean, be honest. Are you guys happy here?"
Namjoon's smirk falls from his face, expression growing serious as quickly as the air thickening in the room. Seokjin seems to notice, too, because he sits back and pretends like he didn’t hear the question.
Hoseok knows the question hits home because Namjoon had been at Divenire the longest, growing up as a child at the base the same way most children grew up in regular homes with freshly baked cookies in a jar every morning. And although Namjoon would never admit it, Hoseok knows he pretends as much as they do about being fully content at Divenire, throwing on a mask to hide the disinterest in the monotonous lifestyle. He could tell by Namjoon’s dull eyes that were always a dead giveaway.
In the end, Namjoon was afraid of facing the real world, resorting to hiding behind the secure walls of Divenire like a child hiding behind his parents.
Just in time, one of the newcomers approaches Namjoon for help on a question. Namjoon locks gazes with him for a long moment before turning his attention away. He knows Namjoon will run the question over and over in his head like his favorite song until the words taste bitter on his tongue.
This wasn’t happiness.
“I remembered another fragment of my own memories the other day I fed on you. And it was really nice, I mean, other than your blood. I had to be about sixteen I’m guessing, but I was sitting with my dad cutting these really red apples that sliced like, I don’t know, like there wasn’t any other day better than that exact moment to cut them in half. I imagine that they tasted incredible.”
Hoseok watches the glint in Taehyung’s eyes as he speaks, like stars in the night sky, grin in place as he explains the memory in vivid detail as if any second, he’d forget and let it regrettably slip through his fingers. He nods along from outside of the glass, “Don’t you know what apples taste like?”
Taehyung shakes his head and pulls his lips to one side, “I know what they should taste like, but when it’s on my tongue, it isn’t remotely the same. Kind of like chewing on candles for humans?” He scoffs and shakes his head slightly, “But I bet that apple I remembered cutting probably tasted as wonderful as you.”
Hoseok’s cheeks tint a bright red, but he wills himself to calm down, knowing Taehyung could smell it. “Yeah, maybe,” he mutters, pretending that the loose thread of his shirt is highly interesting in comparison to Taehyung’s “compliment”. By the way Taehyung smiles warmly at him, tapping on his chin, he knows he’s been caught.
“Oh, I’ve been forgetting to tell you about your memories,” Taehyung speaks up, but his expression is somewhat distant, and he wonders if maybe Taehyung had seen something he’d forced himself to forget long ago, suppressed like the nights he submerged himself under water, wondering if he had the guts to stay under until his lungs stopped working.
Hoseok briefly thinks back to his childhood, to the golden sunlight in his parents’ bedroom. “Care to share?” he asks calmly.
Taehyung lays on his back with his arms behind his head, shirt lifting just inches above his hips almost sinfully. Hoseok has to swallow back the urge to paint purple crescent-shaped bruises in the pale skin with his fingertips, and like van Gogh, he’d marvel in the delicate swirls he’d leave on his body.
“Well, here’s the thing. The fragments I see with you, they're almost always these human characteristics that I feel rather than plain old memories. I know you never talk about it, but I felt the loneliness you felt whenever you were with your parents, like watching the world pass before you, without you.
Or the time you came home two hours later than usual because someone at school made you feel like you weren't good enough. So you went to the ice cream parlor not even five minutes from your house and ate ice cream until your mouth was numb because maybe, it’d also numb away the pain in your chest.”
Taehyung isn't looking at him as he speaks, but Hoseok feels transparent, like all his flaws were laid out before him, washed up at shore and out of the water’s reach.
He’s looking at his hands, thinking back to the times he lashed out whenever he felt inferior. He thinks the lack of a parent figure growing up made him that way. His sense of self and independence was far greater than anyone his age, and he had always felt the need to stand up for himself whenever something brought him down. But in the end, he was more self-conscious than anything, and he found it hard to open up to anyone but his own mind.
Taehyung turns his head to look at him with gentle eyes, hair splayed out on the floor like when they first met. “And I know I’m stomping in on your personal space and everything, but. I don’t think I’ve met anyone with such a beautiful mind.”
Hoseok relaxes his hands, and he feels his heart pick up speed, just slightly, but enough so that it rings in his ears. He tries to hide his smile, pretending to scratch his nose, “Hey, isn’t it unfair that you get to see inside my mind and I don’t get to see into yours?”
Taehyung chuckles softly, like leaves falling from the trees in autumn, “I’d love to share that with you, if I could remember anything other than my current existence.” He pauses and his smile falters slightly, “But every time I feed on you, it’s like unlocking doors to myself that I never knew existed. It’s strange… kind of like walking into this huge room with even more doors with complicated locks. That’s never happened to me before.”
Hoseok finds himself glancing back at the expanse of skin above Taehyung’s waist, and his fingers tingle again, the same way his heart does whenever Taehyung smiles. He says, “Sometimes it’s good not having to remember.”
Taehyung is looking at him solemnly again, the kind that almost resembles pity, but Hoseok doesn’t think Taehyung pitied anyone. He leans up on his forearm, motioning at Hoseok, “Come here.”
Hoseok doesn’t hesitate to enter the glass cell anymore, only when he senses someone outside. He punches in the code and walks up to Taehyung’s sitting form, close enough so that their knees touch. Taehyung reaches out to cradle the side of his face tenderly and observes him thoughtfully. Hoseok can feel his thumb caressing back and forth against his cheekbone, like the arms of a clock lulling him to sleep.
“Forcing yourself not to remember just means hiding away parts of yourself from yourself. Rather than these hidden doors, it’s like walking into a minefield. And these forgotten fragments in your mind, eventually they'll grow so dark you forget about them until they come back and bite you in ass,” Taehyung shrugs a shoulder and moves his hand to his neck, brushing each finger along his pulse, “I want to know everything about you, Hoseok, what you think about before you sleep, what makes you angry, what makes you sad… what you sound like when your body feels good.” Taehyung bites his bottom lip and glances down at Hoseok’s. Hoseok shivers under the gaze and leans into the touch.
Taehyung pushes Hoseok until his back is pressed against the glass wall and straddles his waist. Hoseok slides his hands under his shirt and grips at his bony hips, like holding onto porcelain dolls with white skin. He thinks they feel better than he could ever imagine. Taehyung wraps thin arms around his neck and leans down to brush soft lips against his before Hoseok molds them together completely, desperately.
And when Hoseok knicks his tongue against one of Taehyung’s sharp teeth, Taehyung makes a noise at the back of his throat and sucks at the small wound greedily. Hoseok grips Taehyung’s hips tighter at the feeling, enough to paint the Starry Night into flawless skin. His lips are swollen and his hair a mess from clingy hands. Taehyung’s barely-warm body flush against his had him searching for more.
But Taehyung pulls away after awhile, breathing heavily against his cheek. From the corner of his eye, he can see Taehyung’s mouth slightly agape.
Taehyung groans into his ear, eyes dilated and half-lidded, and Hoseok swears the sound goes straight down south. “Fuck. The smell of your blood rushing is going to make me explode right here and now,” he breathes hotly against his neck. Hoseok wills every part of himself not to roll his hips up against Taehyung’s.
Taehyung stays still for a few minutes, and Hoseok knows he’s struggling to fight the urge to feed on him. But he thinks it’s okay just like this, with Taehyung so close in his lap he could name out precisely every bone in his body. It’s okay simply because Taehyung was listening to his heartbeat so intimately he had to control himself.
Hoseok presses their foreheads together and lightly trails his lips over Taehyung’s nose with every ounce of adoration in his body. “Taehyung, you’re so damn beautiful,” he mumbles against the corner of Taehyung’s mouth.
Taehyung smiles against him and wraps his arms tighter, “Stop that.”
And Hoseok closes his eyes and memorizes the curves of Taehyung’s body like the ocean’s waves on a calm summer’s day, the palms of his hands smoothing along the surface.
He says, “Not ever.”
They stay like this until the sun rises in the morning and Hoseok has memorized every beauty mark that blemished his skin.
Yoongi doesn't know when it started, and he doesn’t recall how, either.
Maybe it’d been during his frequent visits to Divenire headquarters to check in on Taehyung, or his quick ventures to the city to observe and understand the location better, but Jungkook was slowly taking over his position as leader in the gang, and he doesn’t know how to deal with it.
It wasn’t that he felt like his authority was diminishing, per se, but the connection the gang once had when Taehyung was a part of it was no longer there, like an empty void filling what used to be a tight knit group. It was as if he was leading an entirely new gang with faces he didn’t recognize. And there were faces that he was unfamiliar with, simply because he hadn’t bothered getting to know the new recruits on a deeper level than the original members. In reality, it was mostly because Jungkook had invited the new Syloe members carelessly without thinking it through nor did he bother getting his permission before recruiting them. But Yoongi brushed it off because they needed more members anyway. If it was for the matter of the group, Yoongi never hesitated to agree.
Jungkook had taken the responsibility of teaching the new recruits about their strategies for feeding as well as the other things Yoongi used to be in charge of. He didn’t mind taking care of the alpha priorities, considering he’d started the gang to begin with, but now that Jungkook had been adamantly offering to help him out with the duties, he didn’t mind splitting the responsibilities, and he definitely wasn’t going to complain. Jungkook’s sudden interest in the alpha roles had Yoongi wondering more than once, but he thinks if he were to hand over the alpha position to anyone else, it would be Jungkook without a doubt.
He thinks Jungkook had matured alarmingly fast, eyes hardening from the innocent look they used to illuminate when Taehyung was still with them. The thought makes his chest hurt at the realization that the Jungkook he’d found huddled over a can of ravioli years ago was no longer there, replaced with cracks and tears filled with sadness like cement.
Yoongi wishes he could mend his worn heart, but even he doesn’t have strong enough hands to heal a broken soul.
But as he considered the situation later in the night, Yoongi knows his role as leader was slowly but surely starting to slip out of the palms of his hands.
And even if he wasn’t going to admit it, he wasn’t doing anything to tighten his grasp, like throwing memories down the drain.
For as long as Hoseok could remember, he had always grown up resenting his parents.
He doesn’t remember a time when he’d shared a proud memory of them, and he certainly doesn’t recall any times he’d felt like they were a family. For twenty-one years, Hoseok only remembered them in fragments that reminded him of how alone he’d always been, like a torn up picture with missing pieces and a hole straight through the center where smiles were supposed to be.
He’d spent countless nights wide awake from endless curiosities about what his mother’s favorite color was or his father’s favorite dessert. He wonders if cooking breakfast in the morning with them - egg shells in his hair and pancake batter on his nose because maybe his mother had smeared it teasingly on him - could have been one of his favorite things to do if they’d done it. He wonders if he’d be stronger if only he’d been able to crawl into bed between his parents on nights when the thunder was too loud. And on some night, he wakes up crying when he forgets for a just a moment what his parents looked like.
But during those years, Hoseok had found people to fill the emptiness he felt in his chest, like peering into beer bottles and squinting to find the bottom. He’d found Namjoon to fill the left side of his chest, Seokjin for the right, Jimin for the gap under his ribcage, and Taehyung for the emptiness in his heart.
He used to wonder why crowding his sorrows with people had made him feel emptier only to realize he was filling himself up with the ghosts of expectations. It’d taken him even longer to realize that the past didn’t matter if he had the people he loved stitching up his rips and tears with stronger threads this time around.
And now, at the age of twenty-one, Hoseok finally learns to let go.
Taehyung cleans up the residue blood around the wound on Hoseok’s shoulder, thorough as always to make sure nothing went to waste. His eyes are dilated, and by the stuttered breathing gently fanning against his neck, Hoseok could tell Taehyung was still in the aftermath of feeding, trying to regain his composure.
Taehyung sits back, tongue sneaking out to wipe red from his lips. “You’re not hurting, right?” He asks routinely as he did for every feeding.
Hoseok shakes his head, eyes distracted by Taehyung’s crimson tongue, soft like palms running down his arms whenever his ear was caught between Taehyung’s lips. His gaze trails along his face, and suddenly he’s reminded of the color regaining in Taehyung’s skin.
He says, “Hey, have you been feeling… different lately?” Hoseok tears open a new bandage and hands it to Taehyung.
Taehyung grabs it naturally and begins smoothing it lightly over the two puncture wounds in Hoseok’s shoulder, “I mean, besides wanting to kiss you all the time - not that it’s a bad thing, it’s pretty amazing actually - I think the blood in my body started pumping a little faster? And the usual ‘feeling warmer’ shenanigan. I don’t feel like a sack of ice as much as I did before. Barely noticeable though.”
Hoseok chokes a little at the first half of the sentence. He doesn’t think he’ll ever get used to Taehyung’s straightforward way of speaking, so blatant and nonchalant that sometimes he doesn’t comprehend what he’s actually just said. But it’s nice, like diving into a body of water head first without testing it.
Taehyung is smirking at him, but he tries focusing on the fact that Taehyung was possibly becoming less Syloe, more human, and gradually changing from the consistent intake of his human blood.
He says, “Taehyung, you do realize that my blood could be healing your body? And, I don’t know, just maybe, if we keep this up, you might just start becoming human again. It’s not too far of a stretch.”
The thought of Taehyung potentially becoming human again makes his throat close up and his palms jittery. For one thing, it meant potentially finding a cure for the other Syloe beyond Divenire headquarters, a cure for the world they lived in where creatures didn’t have to feed on humans to survive.
He was hopeful, more than ever, and maybe if it was true, that Taehyung was becoming human, he could prove and convince the Authority in Divenire to let him go. Living each day without knowing what was planned for Taehyung’s future made the road ahead darker. But it was worth a try, and Hoseok was willing to give up half his blood if it meant giving Taehyung a better life.
Taehyung scoffs a little, but he goes silent when the serious expression on Hoseok’s face doesn’t falter. Hoseok opens his mouth as if to speak but hesitates. “I mean, maybe if you started intaking more of my blood, it could speed up the process, and we’ll see results faster. I think it’s worth a try,” Hoseok suggests firmly, adjusting his shirt back onto his shoulder.
Taehyung furrows his eyebrows, “Hoseok… you know I can’t just start feeding on you more. You’ll become anemic and start getting sick. Hell, you’re going to look pasty and shit. Like me.”
Hoseok shrugs, “I’ll just start eating more foods with iron in it, or dairy products? I’ll figure something out.”
“And what if it doesn’t work out? What if I’m just reacting differently to your blood because I’m becoming dependent? Which also reminds me, what if I start becoming too dependent after all of this?” Taehyung refutes, raising a brow.
“We’ll work something out. I don’t know, Taehyung. Let’s just give it a try, and if nothing changes within the next month, we’ll stop. Hopefully a month isn’t too long for you to get used to feeding more, so I’m also asking you to will your body not to rely on so much blood so often,” Hoseok answers, confidently with tense shoulders. He needed Taehyung to agree otherwise he was going to be a full Syloe forever with potential life blooming inside of him.
Hoseok reaches for Taehyung’s hand, “Come on, do it for me. There’s just so much in what’s happening to your body after you started feeding on me… the pigment in your skin, the temperature of your body, your increased heart rate, we can’t just let all this go to waste.”
Taehyung pauses and stares at Hoseok’s face blankly for a few minutes. “…alright. But we’re stopping after a month if there are no noticeable changes,” Taehyung asserts, pointing a finger towards Hoseok with emphasis on his words.
Hoseok breaks out into a smile. “Let’s start tomorrow when I come in for my shift.”
Taehyung tilts his head to one side questionably. “Are you trying to imply that you’d only like me if I was human?” Taehyung says, scoffing teasingly.
Hoseok’s smile doesn’t falter, and he grabs Taehyung’s hand tightly, “No, not at all.”
He thinks, I like you just as you are, with every ounce of my blood and heart.
Hoseok remembers meeting Seokjin a few weeks after joining Divenire.
He remembers hating Seokjin at the beginning for the main reason that he’d gotten his ass kicked by him during his first lesson in combat without showing any mercy. His pride had pummeled to the floor the same way his body crashed against the mats, over and over, and the embarrassment of losing so easily was what motivated him to make something of himself. He thinks without Seokjin, he’d be as miserable as he’d been when he joined.
And Seokjin was always calm to be around, something he enjoyed when he wanted to be alone in the company of others at the same time. It was something that no one else had understoond, but he remembers the night they’d sat on the roof of the headquarters, looking off into separate directions, thinking different thoughts, and it was then that he realized they shared the same need for comfort in loneliness.
Hoseok had discovered later that they shared that mutual understanding because Seokjin had been through similar circumstances as he, although he never explained it in full detail. He doesn’t blame him for not wanting to. But Hoseok understands it, just by looking into his eyes on days when sparring Seokjin had been far too easy because his mind was in the clouds.
He found that Seokjin was good at comforting during the rare times Hoseok had vented to him, offering mature advice whenever he needed a second thought besides his own. It wasn’t until later that Hoseok realized he cherished Seokjin.
He thinks if he ever had an older brother, he’d want him to be like Seokjin.
As planned, Taehyung starts feeding on Hoseok two to three times more than they used to. Hoseok would be lying if he said he didn’t feel under the weather lately because of it.
He keeps a small journal with tables of Taehyung’s average heart rate every three days and records observations about his hair color, eye color, skin color, even going as far as measuring the size of his fangs, before and after feeding. He measures Taehyung’s body temperature daily, too, but within the first week, his temperature stays consistent around sixty degrees fahrenheit.
Hoseok had stolen the memory chip from the file room that held information regarding Taehyung, sneaking past the receptionist during her shift change so he didn’t need to scan himself at the door for his Identity. He’d easily slipped past and into the back where they kept small cells that weren’t authorized to anyone unless someone from Authority had approved it.
The chip contained data recorded back when they were interrogating Taehyung for information about Syloe. It also contained records of Taehyung’s body, things like his weight, height, unknown blood type. What Hoseok was most interested in was his average heart rate at the time as well as his body temperature and Identity scan, which allowed him a visual of what Taehyung looked like a few months back. He needed something to compare to because although Taehyung was engraved into his mind like the veins on his body, he needed something that wasn’t filled with reasons why he liked Taehyung’s lips most or the scar on his jaw least.
Taehyung’s body temperature was around fifty when they’d first captured him, and that alone was enough to prove that his blood was definitely changing Taehyung’s body in some way. His average heart rate at that time had only been two beats per minute, and it made sense considering Syloe were dead humans turned into a different species. But from the past week, Taehyung’s heart rate had increased to five beats per minute. Judging by his Identity hologram, his skin color had also become more saturated.
And it’s strange, seeing everything written out and calculated, and compared to human characteristics, Hoseok can’t help but to notice that Syloe really were different from his kind. He wonders if something was potentially wrong with him when he’d fallen for one, maybe he’d gotten infected when it happened, or maybe he’d hit his head hard on something the night before.
But every time he questions it, Hoseok remembers that he’d fallen for Taehyung’s mind before anything else.
And minds, like the heart, were universal no matter how different human and Syloe were.
Since the Syloe attack, Jimin lays low from night duties till he can mentally recover from the trauma. He files in a few off-days for the excuse that he was busy training for upcoming examinations and would be back no later than a few days.
His thigh had healed up without a single trace that he’d ever been attacked, maybe left behind a small, unnoticeable patch of discolored skin like the birthmark at the back of his knee, shaped like a pair of wings getting ready for takeoff. He mentally thanks Yoongi for saving his life each time his mind replays that night like a broken record.
His squad members had wondered worriedly about him when he didn’t report back to their usual check point once sunrise came. They called out the other squad members for a search party not knowing Jimin had already scanned in with his Identity at four a.m. A member from Namjoon’s squad had spoken up before the group headed out in search of him, saying something about seeing Jimin dragging himself through the doors early that morning with a forced smile and sweat running down his face. They canceled the search team before stepping outside of headquarters during the daytime disguised as ordinary civilians.
Jimin hadn’t told anyone about the incident. He didn’t find it necessary if he was okay, besides the slight trauma the attack left behind where he found himself waking up randomly throughout the night with the image of sharp teeth ripping his neck open like a perfectly ripe watermelon in summer. He’d shoot up in bed panting with his hand reaching for his neck to check that it was still intact, sighing in relief at the realization that it was just a bad dream. It’s usually the image of Yoongi’s lips that calms him on most nights.
Ever since the day Jimin joined Divenire, he had vowed to keep all his personal troubles to himself. It’d proved to be helpful through his training days when he’d aspired to be one of the best, and he’d become one of the top members of his group in no time, even earning acknowledgment from the Authority as one of the best in defense and observation. The acknowledgment got him a few shifts that Authority normally wouldn’t hand out to the trainees, one being guard duties for the Syloe held captive in the East wing. His skills were the reason the Authority had trusted him with the case.
But a lot of the time, he found it hard keeping everything to himself, like a pile of books just waiting to fall or a balloon waiting to burst. And sometimes, he wanted to spill all his thoughts to Hoseok just for the hell of it. It’d be nice to share the weight on his shoulders and not have to deal with it all on his own, but he figured Hoseok had enough on his shoulders to deal with his, too.
And when his mind pushed him into sad thoughts about family and achievements, he forces himself to picture the outline of Yoongi’s eyes looking into his, warm despite his cold exterior.
Because sometimes, the last thing he could think to comfort him during times of hardship, comforted him most.
Hoseok looks down at his hands and notices his skin starting to pale, his hands trembling slightly as he holds them up to examine.
A small flight of stairs easily had him short of breath, and standing up too quickly made him dizzy all too quickly. Sometimes he feels dangerously close to fainting during combat practice, and he knows Seokjin can tell by his slow movements and weak hits.
Hoseok was known as a direct fighter, not a defender, and the way he spent most of sparring blocking Seokjin’s attacks rather than advancing on him was a dead giveaway that his body couldn’t keep up with him. Hoseok brushes it off as a fever whenever Seokjin asks, but he lets him sit out for the rest of practice anyway, and Hoseok is glad Seokjin doesn’t question it any further.
But really, he’s sure anyone can tell at this point by the circles under his eyes.
Despite his ill condition, he’d been prepared for the consequences of letting Taehyung feed more. So Hoseok spends breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any other free time he had chugging bottles of water and orange juice and trying to eat twice as many green, leafy vegetables than even Jimin ate. Namjoon gives him weird stares every so often, but otherwise he doesn’t point it out.
Namjoon was the type that never really questioned why someone did what they did. The fact that they’d consciously chosen to do it was reason enough. Plus, there was nothing wrong with eating healthy after all.
During one of their shift changes for guard duties, Hoseok makes sure to ask Jimin for some iron supplements from the pharmacy department before he leaves, considering Jimin was a regular for his strict diet and workout routine. Hoseok would have gotten them himself if he could, but by Divenire regulations, he was required to get a check up for the supplements, which wasn’t an option because his body levels were completely out of balance. His blood pressure was drastically lower than his records stated, and they'd definitely wonder why.
Although the supplements helped, they only lasted until the next feeding session. He tells himself it’s better than nothing. Taehyung’s body was changing, albeit slowly, but he was getting better. His heart rate was increasing every few feeding sessions, and so was his body temperature. Hoseok thinks it’s one of his best achievements, seeing Taehyung get better by the day, and backing out wasn’t an option, not when they’d gotten this far.
He thinks it’ll all be worth it when he finally has Taehyung’s hand in his, warm and alive.
When the gang isn’t busy looking for people to feed on, Yoongi spends time on the roof of their new hideout, reaching out to the stars the same way he’d watched Taehyung do for so many years.
He understands now, the feeling of wanting to drown in them, until he too was shining from the inside out instead of the black void that filled his body. He wishes Taehyung could see the sky from where he was because for Taehyung, home was where the stars swam.
The gang was still slowly recruiting new members from the city, more Syloe that weren’t exactly Loners but ones that came from disbanded groups from the lack of members.
Yoongi couldn’t stand the Loners and their lack of control. They were usually the ones that left their gangs because they couldn’t stand having a leader to follow, a pride complex that proved to take over their logic and rationality. They jeopardized the Syloe species with their ignorance, and Yoongi wasn’t going to deal with it.
He’d barely seen Jungkook lately, only during times when he needed to help with the hunting missions. There was something about Jungkook that made him feel uneasy, the way he hardly spoke anymore or how he’d feed on their humans so viciously his hands left bruise marks in their wake and broken necks from the pressure. Yoongi didn’t like to assume, but Jungkook seemed to grow angrier and darker by the night. He’d always avoid the question whenever Yoongi asked.
But Yoongi figured everyone dealt with their issues in their own way, and he wasn’t one to judge. So he pushes his concerns to the back of his mind and allows himself to get lost in the sea of stars.
Taehyung reminded Hoseok of a warm cup of morning tea on days when he had proudly risen before the sun.
The sound of his voice soothed his ears like a nice lavender, and Hoseok thinks he wouldn’t mind drowning in it if it meant feeling the vibrations ripple all along his skin, like laying in the middle of the ocean in the calm before the storm.
His favorite, though, was the feeling of Taehyung’s smooth lips pressed against his, like a hot cup of peach that burned in the pit of his stomach when he greedily wanted more. Taehyung’s tongue was always sweet against his, softer against the skin of his neck. And now, as Hoseok pulled the collar of his own shirt aside and tilted his head to the other, preparing himself for the burning feeling of sharp fangs sinking into the spot just above his collarbone, he swallows thickly and gulps down the bitter drops of tea left in the bottom of the cup.
Taehyung leans forward to graze his fangs along Hoseok’s neck gently, carefully, but instead of sinking his teeth into the milky skin like a sailor and his love for the sea, he presses his lips tenderly against the spot until purple and pink bruises scatter the surface, marking Hoseok’s body as his own the same way sunrise embraces the ocean’s horizon.
When he pulls away just enough, Taehyung says, “I’m not hungry today. Is that alright?”
And like a calming cup of morning tea, Hoseok wraps his hands around the delicate porcelain cup of Taehyung’s body and presses his lips against the mouth till his legs are weak like warm liquid.
“Would you believe me if I told you V is becoming human?
Namjoon looks up from his book, lowering his eyes slightly as he processes the question. Hoseok wants to swallow the lump of anxiety in his throat, but the air had gotten so still he thinks the sound would be as loud as the pounding in his ears.
They’re sitting across from each other on the floor of the library’s politics aisle, researching quietly as they did every so often. Hoseok enjoyed Namjoon’s company on days he didn’t want to be alone or needed some motivation. They were the same age, yet Hoseok was still an amateur at best compared to him, and he’d known that since the moment Namjoon had lead him through the giant white doors of Divenire.
But they understood each other far past the surfaces of their exterior, no words needed, and Hoseok was thankful for their unspoken friendship, tied together with a web of respect and admiration. Hoseok woouldn’t admit it now , but if the time came, he knows he’d take a bullet for Namjoon in a heartbeat.
Namjoon tilts his head, “No, I wouldn’t actually.”
Hoseok inhales a shaky breath. He says, “Well… he is.”
Namjoon closes his book and sets it down on the floor beside him, “And how do you know that…?”
Hoseok grips his fingers around the spine of his book and feels his own spine tense under the pressure of Namjoon’s gaze, “The animal blood isn’t nearly enough to feed a Syloe. A few months ago, he was dying of thirst. I didn’t know what else to do, so I… gave him a small vial of my blood. I’ve been doing that every week or so, but it’s actually starting to change his body.” Hoseok bites his tongue at the small lie. Half of it was true, but judging by the way Namjoon seemed to be taking in the situation, he thinks against telling the cold hard truth.
Namjoon’s jaw had dropped in the middle of his explanation, eyes wide as he sat forward with furrowed brows. “What the fuck, Hoseok. If Authority finds out, you’re going to get kicked out of Divenire or even sent to the fucking prison ward,” Namjoon growls in shock. “What the hell were you thinking?”
Hoseok shuts his book, “I wasn’t, okay? And why the hell does it matter if no one got hurt, anyway?”
Namjoon grits his teeth, “He’s a fucking Syloe. Or did you forget? They feed on our kind.”
“They feed for survival,” Hoseok responds lowly. He inhales a breath of air and tries to calm his nerves. “He’s becoming human from my blood, Namjoon. Do you realize what this means? There’s potential that we can cure them.”
“Since when did we have to find a cure for them?” Namjoon refutes, squinting his eyes into slits.
“Since the moment we found out they used to be humans. What does that make us if we just ignore that fact like it’s a myth?”
Namjoon grows silent and stares at him for a long while. He leans back against the bookshelf and heaves a sigh. “We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one,” he mumbles quietly, shaking his head.
Hoseok finally swallows the lump in his throat, shifting his eyes down to his white knuckles and releasing his death grip on the book. He doesn’t know how to respond, so he chooses not to.
Namjoon knocks his ankle against his hip after minutes of silence, “I’m not going to stop you, Hoseok, but understand that these things come with a risk. Just- fuck. Be careful, you hear me?”
Hoseok looks up at Namjoon hesitantly. There’s something about the way Namjoon is looking back at him that makes him want to feel guilty. He nods, once, twice, before they both open their books and pretend to be researching.
As Hoseok rereads the same paragraph for the next two hours, the familiar feeling of being alone crawls its way back into his mind like a ghost of the past.
It’s two in the morning when Hoseok suggests it, a certain kind of thrill running down his spine as the words leave his mouth in the closed space of the cell.
Taehyung seems to be caught off-guard just as much as he is with himself, but there’s a glint in his eyes that tells Hoseok he’d won him over.
“I want you to see the inside of my room,” Hoseok mumbles out of thought.
Taehyung looks at him confusion, he says, “What?”
Hoseok turns to look at Taehyung with unwavering eyes. “Come see my room,” he repeats, a small smile hidden in the corner of his lips. “Namjoon and Seokjin are out on a small mission tonight. And Jimin won’t be here till five.”
Taehyung squints his eyes and tries to hide his smirk, “Oh? And tell me, what happens if we get caught?” He reaches out to play with the strands of hair covering Hoseok’s ear.
Hoseok grips the hand and holds it against his mouth affectionately. He says, “That’s an entirely different story that I won’t be telling.” He presses his smile into the knuckles of Taehyung’s fingers, “You’ll follow me, won’t you? It’s only a few hallways down.”
The amount of trust Hoseok had with Taehyung was more than he’d ever had in himself, and he thinks it’s kind of beautiful, leaving it in the cold palms of someone else’s hands to see if they’d cradle it and watch it grow or crush it into pieces.
He isn’t sure what he’s doing by inviting Taehyung out of the cell, but he wanted nothing more than to hold Taehyung against him in the confines of his blankets, especially since they had finished feeding sessions for the day. He wanted to understand the anatomy of Taehyung’s body in a way the cell wouldn’t allow, how his legs felt intertwined with his the same way vines attached themselves to anything in hopes of touching the sun.
Taehyung leans forward and replaces his hands with his lips, pressing his mouth against Hoseok’s in a chaste kiss. He says, “Lead the way.”
On the way to his dorm room, Hoseok had taken off his sweater and pulled it over Taehyung’s head to wear over his clothes in hopes that he’d blend in with anyone that happened to pass by. It was unlikely at this time of the night in the far end of the East wing, but he didn’t want risk it. Taehyung was as pale as ever against the white walls of the building, but the idea of him finally leaving the cell made Hoseok’s chest bloom with excitement.
He’d securely locked the quarantine room so that no one could accidentally stumble in before grabbing Taehyung’s hand and leading him cautiously through the halls. Thankfully there was no one out and about, so Hoseok relaxed his tense muscles and hurriedly lead them to his room in section B.
His room is nothing but white and grey interior, roomy with all his belongings tucked away either into shelves or behind closet doors. There’s nothing exciting about it, but he feels dizzy watching Taehyung run his fingers along his desk and open his drawers curiously.
Taehyung glances at him as he opens his closet and peeks in. “Simple,” he states with interest, pulling the corners of his lips down in mock amusement.
Hoseok sits down on the edge of his bed, “I just needed an excuse to lay with you.”
Taehyung crosses the room slowly until he’s standing in front of Hoseok. He takes a few steps forward and wraps his arms around Hoseok’s shoulders, wedging himself between strong thighs. Taehyung leans down and presses his forehead tenderly against Hoseok’s.
“Give me one hundred and one excuses, and I still wouldn’t care if you gave me none so long as I get to lay with you,” Taehyung whispers before pushing Hoseok back against the mattress.
Hoseok doesn’t have enough time to memorize the lines and curves of Taehyung’s body against his, but the way their knees knock against each other whenever Taehyung turns to face him or the way Taehyung hooks his feet around his boney ankles whenever they kiss is enough to make him feel lightheaded.
It almost hurts how much he’d fallen for the Syloe, and he briefly wonders if the strongest love in the world hurt the most.
Hoseok spends the rest of the night tracing I love you’s against Taehyung shoulder blades backwards because that was exactly how he’d came to love Taehyung. He hopes the latter doesn’t notice that he’d spilt himself against the sharp shoulder blades, but when Taehyung turns to press his face into the pillow beneath him, attempting to hide a smile, Hoseok figures he knows.
And before Hoseok leaves the quarantine room that morning to switch with Jimin, Taehyung hugs him from behind tightly.
“You shouldn’t be afraid that you’re capable of loving.”
Since the time Hoseok had confessed to giving the Syloe vials of his blood, Namjoon had picked up on things that got him thinking twice as he sat in his room, pen twirling between his pointer finger and thumb repeatedly as the gears in his mind shifted. He was one of the notable observers in Divenire after all, so something as obvious as this wasn’t left unnoticed.
What confused him most was why Hoseok was becoming paler and weaker by the day if he was only supplying the Syloe with small samples of his blood, maybe equivalent to that of a bad nose bleed. Judging by his appearance, Hoseok had become anemic in the span of a few short weeks, which was alarming for a fit and healthy body like Hoseok’s.
Seokjin had come to him the other day with his worries for Hoseok’s failing health, telling him about sitting Hoseok out during combat practices because his body just couldn’t keep up, and if he pushed any harder, he could have fainted. That in itself spoke volumes because Hoseok was their main combat fighter, and from what Namjoon could recall, Hoseok had always given his all during practices, even if it meant battling off the flu.
No matter how much everyone around Hoseok worried, nothing was going to stop Hoseok when he’d made a decision, even more so when he’d set a goal. Since they’d met, Hoseok had always been as closed off as ever, not realizing that he had friends to help make the path easier. He was the type to keep everything to himself for the sake of others. Namjoon thinks it’s selfish because he had people holding their hands out for him to take, only to unknowingly leave them cold with rejection.
But Namjoon considered Hoseok his brother even if Hoseok didn’t realize it yet, because he’d follow Hoseok through the storm if it meant pulling him back out.
Taehyung falls back against the glass of the cell, sighing contentedly and running a hand through his hair. A low groan sounds from his throat as he says, “Fuck.”
Hoseok tries to ignore the heat growing in the pit of his stomach at the sight and sound, trying to focus on bandaging up the holes on his shoulder and shoving his notepad and other supplies in the backpack he’d brought along to record observations about Taehyung’s changing body.
As usual, Taehyung’s heart rate and body temperature had gone up one or two digits compared to last week’s measurements, but the pigment of his skin had stayed consistent for the past few days, which doesn’t come as a surprise to Hoseok because Taehyung’s skin was considerably pale, and skin pigment wasn’t something that was going to saturate quickly and noticeably in a couple of days for him.
A small dribble of blood glides down the side of Taehyung’s lips, and Hoseok watches it dazedly, reaching out to swipe it clean before it soaks its way into Taehyung’s shirt. Taehyung grabs his wrist before he retracts his hand, licking the droplet off his thumb with his eyes fixated on Hoseok’s, unwavering and intense. He looks hungry, but something in the back of Hoseok's mind was telling him that Taehyung was hungry for something else.
Taehyung leans forward swiftly before Hoseok has time to blink and licks a clean swipe up the side of his cheek. If it had been anyone else, Hoseok knows he would have found it odd, but the way Taehyung was biting on his bottom lip and breathing against his cheek made everything travel south. He definitely wouldn’t mind if Taehyung had done it again.
But if Hoseok were to be completely honest, their feeding sessions had been arousing him far stronger than they used to these past few weeks. It’s embarrassing, trying to will his hormones to calm themselves, but he doesn’t think Taehyung had ever noticed, too caught up in the high he always got after feeding. It was the sight of Taehyung trying to compose himself after feeding that had him shooting his eyes open in the night, the image of Taehyung’s head thrown back, eyes closed in ecstasy, and mouth slightly agape that he’d been losing sleep to because of the problem in his boxers.
He’d become hypersensitive to minute details, like the sound of Taehyung gulping down his blood and the feeling of his fingertips digging into the spot between his shoulder blades that made him bite back small noises threatening to escape his mouth. And now, with Taehyung in his lap pressing sharp hips against his and breathing hotly against his cheek, he doesn’t know if he can hide any longer.
Taehyung presses him back against the glass, wrapping arms around Hoseok’s neck, “I’m sorry, but I seriously can’t hold back anymore. I need to feel you against me.”
Hoseok thinks the situation is reversed, like the words had been taken right out of his mouth. He bites his bottom lip from the sensory overload. It’d been awhile since he’d gotten this intimate with anyone in years.
Hoseok whispers, “Show me.”
Taehyung rocks his hips roughly against his, and Hoseok’s head falls forward against his chest, a low moan bubbling from his throat as Taehyung swiveled his hips in a circular motion against the heat coiling in his pants. The sound of Taehyung’s breathy whimpers against his ears makes his head spin.
Hoseok is sure the walls of the cell are starting to fog from their heavy breathing. He grabs Taehyung’s hips to still him, pulling back slightly. “Not here,” he stutters. “My room, maybe?” Taehyung nods, and Hoseok doesn’t wait a second longer before standing up and leading them out of the cell.
Before they exit, Hoseok turns around and yanks off his sweater, pulling it over Taehyung’s head. He pauses when their eyes lock, gazing tenderly into grey orbs. Hoseok leans forward slowly, pressing an open-mouthed kiss to Taehyung’s lips and pulls him out of the quarantine room, checking twice that he’d locked the door.
Hoseok thinks there’s nothing better than Taehyung’s body melting against his own, the feeling of moist skin brushing and limbs knocking as they tossed around in bed. And although he feels dizzy from the feeding session before, he wills himself to focus everything on Taehyung. He finds a newfound love for kissing the spot behind Taehyung’s knees and brushing his nose teasingly along his inner thigh just to feel Taehyung’s legs quake like the gasps caught in his throat.
He discovers the scar tucked below Taehyung’s left shoulder blade and traces it with his tongue with the same silkiness as Taehyung moaning quietly below him, the sound muffled by the pillow as he tore the fabric open with his sharp teeth, a mess of cotton and feathers littering the floor like a collage of white clouds and birds with magnificent wings.
Hoseok finds it kind of beautiful, the way Taehyung’s back arched each time he pressed into him, and he makes sure to let him know by kissing little bruise marks in the skin until Taehyung was a canvas of purple butterflies. He likes the way Taehyung groans his name like a symphony, so Hoseok runs his hands and fingers against every nook of his body and plays the most beautiful piece he’d ever heard.
When Taehyung flips them over so that he’s sitting in his lap, the sounds of the mattress creaking like a mantra behind their breathy moans, Hoseok grips sharp hips at the slight pain as Taehyung presses his wrist against his fangs and sucks at the small incision obscenely. With just the first few drops of blood, Taehyung’s eyes dilate, and Hoseok throws his head back as he feels Taehyung grind deeper onto him.
When he reaches his climax, Hoseok sees the galaxy, like stars bursting behind his eyelids, in his chest, in the tips of his fingers and toes. He opens his eyes and sees Taehyung shining brightly back at him.
And later, when they’re lying in his bathtub, warm water seeping between the cracks in their bodies, Taehyung’s head nestled on his chest and arms wrapped securely around his waist, Hoseok thinks he wouldn’t mind running away with Taehyung.
He wouldn’t mind it at all.
Eventually Jimin and Seokjin find out about Hoseok and his plans to cure V, prying it out of Namjoon after his tongue had slipped during lunch one afternoon. Namjoon had denied it for a good twenty minutes, but Seokjin’s stern yet worried expression had broken him, and he’d pulled them to a separate room to discuss the matter privately.
It wasn’t in their place to find out this way, through anyone besides Hoseok himself, but they’d all been equally worried about Hoseok’s condition and just as confused as to why he’d become so ill in so little time.
Seokjin thinks he should be more surprised than he actually is, but it made sense, all the questions Hoseok had about the Syloe and his opinion on the subject, or the casual segue into conversations about V. What he is surprised about, though, is how he hadn’t picked up on Hoseok’s sudden interest in the topic long ago. And now that he thinks back, none of them talked about V as much as Hoseok had.
Seokjin doesn’t ask about it the next few practices or during strategy. He can’t help but to feel disappointed in himself that Hoseok was hiding something as big as this from him, and something in his chest hurt as he watched Hoseok from afar, like a small pin diving it’s way slowly through his heart.
Jimin, on the other hand, doesn’t mention the fact that he’d also come in contact with a Syloe, more than once, actually, but it made him feel significantly better knowing he wasn’t alone when he replayed tender grey eyes in his mind. It was reassuring knowing he wasn’t the only one that could sympathize with the enemy, a being that fed on their kind. He hopes that maybe one day, he could muster up the confidence to talk to Hoseok about Yoongi.
Namjoon forces them to promise aloud to not let Hoseok know he’d told them about his plans. He crosses his fingers to stop his worries from spilling and hopes to God no one but the three of them get involved.
They’re laying on the floor of the combat room, sweaty and panting from practice. Hoseok’s vision is fading in and out, but he’d eaten a large meal beforehand, which helped with the dizziness.
But he thinks it’s nice, laying there with Namjoon, Seokjin, and Jimin after they’d all sparred for the past hour or two. Someone from Authority was taking over the guard shift in Seokjin’s place for awhile because apparently, the network was down on one of the computers in the room.
It’d been awhile since they all got together and practiced like they did when he’d first joined Divenire. He recalls the last time being half a year ago, minus Jimin. Hoseok had gone down easily the last few rounds because of his body. For a brief moment, he’s bitter knowing that just a month ago, he could have easily won against Namjoon and Jimin. But he focuses on the fact that this was temporary, and maybe down the line, he would definitely get Jimin back for cuffing him in the jaw.
(He feels guilty later in the night knowing he’d been bitter at all about helping Taehyung become human again.)
For the first time, Hoseok smiles genuinely because of the mere fact that he was in the company of his friends, joking around and throwing insults at each other carelessly without responsibilities crowding their minds. Taehyung had told him once that the reason he never cried about his parents was because he had people to fill that void with something mom and dad never gave him. He reckons this was what Taehyung was referring to, and he regrets not appreciating it sooner.
Hoseok feels Jimin throw his legs over his, “Namjoon fights like he’s got a stick shoved up his ass.”
Namjoon’s jaw drops, “Hey, shut your mouth before I actually shove one up yours. That can be arranged, okay.” He waves his hand aimlessly. “I swear, you have a brick wall taped around your stomach or some shit.”
Jimin laughs and pats his stomach, “That’s exactly what it is.”
Seokjin holds his hand up as to quiet the bickering. “We all did good today,” he says reassuringly. “But I obviously did the best.”
Hoseok laughs and slaps him on the chest playfully, “Fucker, you’re so full of yourself.”
It isn’t until half an hour later when they decide to get up and leave the combat room, heading separate ways for the night. As Hoseok kneels down to tie his shoe, his loose shirt shifts to one side.
He doesn’t notice the way Namjoon, Jimin, and Seokjin glance at each other as they catch a glimpse of two fading holes on his shoulder.
Taehyung leans forward and rests his forehead against Hoseok’s shoulder, rolling his head side to side against the soft fabric of his sweater.
Taehyung hums calmly, “Guess what memory I saw when I fed on you today.”
Hoseok turns to press his nose into Taehyung’s soft hair, “What?”
Taehyung reaches his hand out to hold onto his forearm, “I saw me. I’ve been feeding on only you for awhile now, so some of the memories are recent.”
He says, “Huh, I never thought about that possibility. Do you ever see the same memory more than once?”
Taehyung shakes his head, “Never. Humans are constantly making memories. There’s just no room for a repeat.”
“Have you been seeing more of yours?” Hoseok asks, turning his head to look down at Taehyung.
“Memories? Yeah… yeah I have, actually,” Taehyung responds with a small nod.
Hoseok thinks Taehyung may not see them more than once, but he definitely had a fair share of cherished memories that repeated in his mind whenever he drifted off throughout the day. Like the time Taehyung slipped his hand into his when his eyes burned with tears as they talked about his parents or the times Taehyung climbed into his lap just to press their bodies tightly together, whispering random facts he knew about the stars into his ear till Hoseok felt smitten.
Minutes pass and somehow Hoseok’s hand manages to find it’s resting place under Taehyung’s shirt, firmly gripping his sharp hipbones, his other hand nestled in Taehyung’s locks as he rested the side of his face on Hoseok’s shoulder. They’d spent the past hour talking about fragments from Taehyung’s previous life, his mischievous pranks on teachers and his favorite pair of shoes when he was nine.
Hoseok checks the time. Jimin would be there soon.
He shifts slightly under the weight of Taehyung’s body, tapping his finger against his hip, “Hey, I gotta go now.”
Taehyung sighs against his jawline, like a breeze of air in spring, “Alright.”
Before he steps out of the cell, Hoseok feels a pair of thin yet strong arms wrap around his torso from behind as Taehyung presses his nose lightly against the back of his neck. Taehyung doesn’t say anything for awhile, and Hoseok is starting to feel antsy because at any time, Jimin could walk in.
Hoseok says, “Taehyung.”
But Taehyung cuts him off and mumbles, “Hey, Hoseok. I love you.”
Hoseok feels flowers bloom in the gaps between his bones. He says, “Yeah.” Pause. “Yeah, me too.”
Outside of the cell, Hoseok stops mid-step, turning on his heels and moving so he’s close to the glass separating he and Taehyung. Hoseok reaches a hand up and presses it gently against the glass, watching as Taehyung mirrors his movement. He leans forward slowly to press a light kiss against the smooth surface, and he’s glad when Taehyung does the same.
Hoseok exits the room with a pounding heart and a dizzy head as he waves goodbye to Jimin on the way out.
But on his way back to his dorm room, Hoseok’s vision starts to blur, too. He reaches a hand out to brace his body against the wall, realizing he’d forgotten to take his supplements today and hadn’t eaten a full meal since breakfast.
Before everything goes black, Hoseok sees a flash of grey eyes. It isn’t until he faints that he realizes he doesn’t recognize them.
“Hey Jimin, have you seen Hoseok around? I need him to help me with training the newcomers.”
Seokjin had been looking for Hoseok all morning, but the latter was nowhere to be found, and he figured Jimin would know since they had lunch together regularly. It was only convenient that the last place he planned to check, the quarantine room, also happened to include Jimin.
Jimin looks up from his screen, glancing at the Syloe in the cell. “Hoseok was taken straight to the hospital in West after his shift last night… he fainted on his way back to his room. I’m worried… I mean he’s been that way these past few weeks,” Jimin mutters with concern, frowning at Seokjin.
Seokjin lowers his eyes, mirroring his frown, “I know… Have you tried talking to him about it?” Seokjin’s eyes flicker to the glass cell as he cocks his head in the general direction of the Syloe, and Jimin picks up on the hint easily. “If this keeps up, he’ll get cut from Divenire, regardless if he’s a squad leader or not… health is the main priority.”
Taehyung pretends he isn’t listening from his spot inside the cell, but his jaw is tense as he bites the inside of his mouth, regret and a million apologies burning in the pit of his stomach as he thinks about Hoseok falling helplessly to the floor from the loss of blood.
“Yeah, I tried. But he avoids the topic every time I try to ask if he’s okay,” Jimin responds with a sigh.
Seokjin leans against the table beside Jimin and crosses his arms against his chest. “This is the first time Hoseok has ever gone to the hospital since he joined Divenire,” he says aloud.
Jimin nods lightly. He says, “Maybe it can be a good warning.” He thinks, Maybe it can help get his mind straightened out.
Taehyung cancels out the rest of Jimin and Seokjin’s conversation, his surroundings becoming a dull blur of lights and clear glass. He feels like dirt for not noticing Hoseok’s condition, even worse for being the cause of it. And now that Hoseok was in the hospital because of him, Taehyung thinks if he were human, he’d be close to keeling over and vomiting from how bad he felt for endangering Hoseok’s life for his own.
In actuality, he didn’t have a life to begin with, yet he had been depending on Hoseok to give it to him without anything to offer in return. It was so incredibly selfish, and cold tears brimmed the corner of his eyes like icicles. There was nothing he could do, and it made him shake with guilt.
He wanted nothing more than to see if Hoseok was okay, to hold his hand until he woke up and tell him that the feeding had to stop, but Taehyung also wanted to push Hoseok away as far as he could. Hoseok could have a better life that way, one that didn’t revolve around giving half his blood supply to a monster who selfishly wanted to become human again. It was foolish of him to agree so easily when Hoseok had suggested the plan.
As a single tear falls from his grey eyes like rain, Taehyung wills his heart to beat slower, slower, and slower.
Hoseok had taken the entire morning off at the hospital, leaving around noon without a direct explanation as to why his blood pressure had dropped so drastically within the span of a couple of weeks.
He’d snuck out while the nurse went to grab the doctor, avoiding further questioning that could have easily raised some suspicions. He knew how to take care of himself, anyway, and only made the mistake of foolishly skipping his meal that day.
Before guard duties that night, Hoseok spends the majority of the evening resting in bed after forcing himself to eat two meals and chug down four water bottles. Jimin had found him halfway through his binging session in the cafeteria with a concerned expression on his face, asking if he was okay. Hoseok doesn’t know how he’d found out about his visit to the hospital, but he shrugs it off and throws in the excuse that he’d overworked himself. Jimin sits with him until he’s finished, and they part ways outside of the cafeteria doors.
When Hoseok enters the quarantine room later that night for his shift, Taehyung has his back facing the door and doesn’t respond when he says, “Hey.”
Hoseok frowns and paces over to the cell, standing at the side. He waves slightly, mostly to get Taehyung’s attention, but the latter doesn’t seem to notice. Hoseok moves to enter in the key to open the cell door, but in the next instant, Taehyung’s head shoots up, a distant expression marring his face. He growls, “Don’t come in.”
Hoseok retracts his hand, “What- Taehyung, what’s wrong?”
Taehyung shakes his head, “Just don’t fucking come in, Hoseok.”
The words shoot straight through his chest. His eyebrows furrow in confusion. “Why are you being like this? Did I do something wrong?” he asks, perplexed.
Taehyung opens his mouth but hesitates. He says, “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to feed on you anymore.”
Hoseok’s arms slacken at his sides, “Taehyung, I don’t understand. Is it me? Just tell me if I did something wrong!” Hoseok is starting to sound desperate, and for the first time in his life, he’s afraid he’ll lose something precious.
Taehyung’s face hardens, “Yes, it is you, actually. I can’t stand the taste of your blood anymore, okay?” Hoseok swallows thickly. Taehyung bares his teeth as he speaks, scowl in place, “I’m a fucking Syloe, not a human. Do you understand that? I kill humans to feed on their blood, and that doesn’t include feeding on the same person over and over and over. Fuck, I just, I can’t do that anymore! It’s like eating the same shit every single day, and I’m sick of it!”
Hoseok feels like shattered glass, and his eyes start to flood with tears. He forces himself to hold them back, but the lump in his throat hurts as much as Taehyung’s words. He wants to say something, but his voice would crack, followed by sobs and tears to fill the space in-between. Taehyung hasn’t looked him in the eyes since he’d walked in. He thinks that hurts most.
Taehyung slams a fist against the glass roughly, “Please, just. Get out. Just get out.”
Hoseok bites the inside of his cheek and clenches his hands into fists. He doesn’t waste another second before turning to walk away, stopping at the entrance with tense shoulders. Hoseok lightly presses his forehead against the door and grits his teeth. He glances back at Taehyung’s slouched figure, “I don’t know why you're saying shit like this, and I don’t know what you're going through. But I’m not giving up on you. And that’s because I love you too much.”
On the way out the door, Hoseok doesn’t notice the way Taehyung falls forward, body shaking violently as tears fall silently into the palms of his hands.
They don’t see each other for a week.
Hoseok forces himself to believe that the small break was good for his heart.
After the argument, Hoseok had asked Jimin to cover for him at the last minute because he wasn’t feeling good. He feels bad for using his hospital visit as an excuse, but he needed a legitimate reason because Seokjin and Namjoon would definitely wonder when it was time to switch shifts. In the end, he eventually confronts them and asks the three of them if they could cover his shift for the next few days so that he could work on his health. The way they respond without an ounce of hesitation makes Hoseok raise a brow questioningly, but he let’s it pass.
It’s surprising, how much his body had recovered within the few days he’d spent away from Taehyung. He forces himself not to dwell on the argument too much, simply because it hurt too much to think about, and finds his escape in the combat room, training twice as hard to make up for the past few months. It’d been awhile, but he finally beats Seokjin in a sparring battle.
But even if Hoseok spent countless hours training, everything he did reminded him of Taehyung, and it was driving him crazy. Taehyung’s words had hurt more than the time he’d scraped the entire right side of his forearm against broken glass. He thinks Taehyung’s words had cut far deeper than that. But something in the back of Hoseok’s mind was telling him there was more to it, that Taehyung didn’t mean the things he said. He couldn’t stand to believe otherwise.
Hoseok wasn’t much of an optimist, but this time, he was wishing on the stars.
It’s the eighth day when Hoseok decides to finally confront Taehyung and straighten things out. But when he enters the room for his shift that night, Taehyung isn’t there.
And the sight alone is so unfamiliar and empty that the confusion he feels makes him stumble as panic sets in.
The room is too white, like waking up one morning to a completely different face in the mirror or opening the wardrobe to his shirts in the third drawer rather than the first. He’d been so used to being welcomed by Taehyung’s figure sitting on the floor that his absence makes Hoseok’s heart fall to his feet, ice-cold blood and chills running down his spine like drops of sweat. He calls out, but all he hears is his own voice.
Hoseok turns on his heels, preparing to sprint out of the room and look for Taehyung, but the door slides open before he has time to go anywhere. Seokjin walks in calmly with a stack of papers.
Seokjin glances up from the sheets in his hand and throws him a half smile. “Oh, hey,” he says nonchalantly.
Hoseok grabs his forearm with shaky hands. “Where’s the Syloe?” He asks cautiously, voice low and unstable.
Seokjin drops his gaze to the hand on his arm, “You didn’t hear? The guy tried attacking two of our members the other night that went in to grab the first aid kit. No idea how he got out. Poor trainees didn't even know what to expect… they're being held at the West wing because no one but the squad leaders, Jimin, and the Authority were supposed to know that we were keeping a Syloe hostage.”
Hoseok gulps, “Where did Authority take him then?”
“They took him to the Pit,” Seokjin responds and looks Hoseok in the eyes. “I heard from Commander that they’re planning on ‘exterminating’ him as punishment after further consideration because he’s dangerous.” Seokjin grabs his wrist and looks at him with solemn eyes, “Hoseok, don’t do anything stupid.”
Hoseok doesn’t waste another second before he runs out of the room and heads down to the Pit.
Hoseok had only been down to the Pit a few times whenever he had to deal with any of the criminals they captured for imprisonment and interrogation.
The entrance was located in the basement of the East wing, enormous with the entire interior made of steel, and stretched throughout the expanse of the Divenire headquarters.
Hoseok quickly scans his Identity and pushes past the large metal doors, quickly hiding behind the extended wall on the opposite end of the second entrance and waits quietly with practiced movement. He wasn’t authorized to enter into the Pit with his squad leader Identity alone, no one was. The Authority were secure about what they wanted to keep hidden from the rest of the organization, so they locked off the section and forbid anyone who wasn’t allowed from entering. It required that he needed to be with Authority or at least have a pass to get in, otherwise it was against Divenire rules to sneak in and discover confidential information.
Luckily for Hoseok, he only waited ten minutes for one of the members of the Authority to enter in and scan their Identity, the light chime sounding throughout the steel, empty space, indicating the approval. Hoseok swiftly catches up and slips past the closing metal doors after the stranger, glancing behind to see if anyone had seen.
Once he was inside, Hoseok sprinted past the numerous halls and glass rooms, keeping his head low and hidden from anyone who could potentially notice him. He stuck out like a sore thumb, the only kid surrounded by a bundle of adults. So long as no one questioned him, the entire situation could be easy or turn into a mess with just one wrong word.
Hoseok wanders around for a few long minutes, circling in and out of the different hallways only to realize they probably kept Taehyung in the experimenting ward of the Pit since the cell in there was strongest. He hurriedly jogs to section E, hidden far at the back with barely any lights to illuminate the area.
Hoseok quietly steps in as the doors slide open, scaling the walls to keep hidden. He glances around carefully before noticing that the room was completely empty aside from the familiar figure in the center of the smaller, brighter cell. Hoseok’s breath hitches in his throat, and he runs up to the glass, knocking on it frantically.
Taehyung turns to look at the source of the noise, eyes dull and lifeless until he sees Hoseok. His face visibly brightens, and he moves to press his forward tenderly against the glass where Hoseok was standing. Hoseok mirrors the motion, his heart threatening to burst any second.
But they didn’t have a lot of time, and at any moment, someone could walk in and catch them.
Taehyung sighs, the sound so small and weak Hoseok wills himself not to break, “I’m so sorry, Hoseok.” He says, “I’m so, so sorry.”
Hoseok knows he’d been right all along, that Taehyung didn’t mean what he said a week ago. He feels the weight on his chest lift and smiles to himself. But now wasn’t the time to discuss it; there wasn’t going to be a happy ending in store for them if Hoseok didn’t get Taehyung out within the next few minutes.
Hoseok stands up straight, “Taehyung, I need to get you out of here. They’re going to kill you if I don’t.” Hoseok examines the cell’s entrance, running shaky fingers over the keypad. It was locked with an Identity scanner along with a six digit passcode.
Taehyung follows him from the inside, standing on the other side of the door, “Hoseok, you can’t just break me out of here without there being consequences. Do you realize how much trouble you're getting yourself into?”
Hoseok scoffs, “It’s too late to even try and tell me stuff like that, Taehyung.” He stills his hands for a second, “I really don’t care what happens after this. But I know if they kill you, I won’t be able to live with myself.”
Taehyung sighs heavily, “I’m so sorry… I just, the other night, when those kids came in to get the first aid kit, one of them had a cut on their arm, and the smell just filled up the entire room. I was so thirsty because I became so dependent on your blood. I couldn’t hold myself back in time…”
Hoseok stills his wandering hands, dropping his arms to his sides and lowering his head, “Don’t apologize, Taehyung. It’s my fault for not coming back for you sooner.” Hoseok shakes his head and grabs the gun from his belt, “Stand back.”
Hoseok raises the gun and aims it at the lock. He fires the gun four times before the keypad shuts off, smoke seeping from the small box. Hoseok smashes the butt of the gun against the keypad until it breaks off. He pulls the sliding glass doors apart, grabbing Taehyung’s hand to pull him out hurriedly.
Hoseok presses his face into Taehyung’s neck as they embrace, breathing in his scent, “Taehyung, you need to get out of here. Now.”
Taehyung holds him tighter, “What about you? I can’t just leave you here alone.”
“They won’t kill me, Taehyung. Please, just listen to me. There’s a small door just outside of here that leads outside to the city. Find it and run as far away from the headquarters as you can, or they’ll shoot you onsite,” Hoseok breathes. He’s scared, but he couldn’t show it in a situation like this. He needed to be strong for the both of them.
Taehyung sobs into Hoseok’s shoulder, “Hoseok, I don’t know if I can leave you.”
But Hoseok pushes at his chest, brushing a gentle hand against Taehyung’s cheek in the midst of all the chaos. He smiles reassuringly, “You need to go.” He leans forward and presses their foreheads together, “I love y-“
The pressure of Hoseok against him is gone in the next instant, and Taehyung looks around frantically. Out of the corner of his eye, he spots movement near the entrance and shoots his gaze to the left. His mouth drops when his eyes fall on a familiar figure, a cold rush running through his body.
Jungkook is standing at the doorway with Hoseok slumped over his body, motionless. He smirks, “So this is what you’ve been doing this whole time while we all worried our asses off for you.” His face darkens as he pulls the gun from Hoseok’s belt, “Tell me, did you even try to come back or did you just let these fuckers keep you captive in a weak glass container instead of breaking out?” He chucks the gun at the glass cell with so much force it shatters straight through one of the walls of the cell.
Taehyung flinches at the sound of the shattering cell, taking a careful step forward. He gulps, wondering when Jungkook had gained so much strength, almost as much as the full potential of an alpha like Yoongi. “Jungkook, please, don’t hurt him. He’s here to help me escape,” Taehyung forces out, his throat closing up as he reaches a shaky hand out.
Jungkook laughs bitterly, “No, actually. He’s here to keep you here.” Jungkook shakes his head from side to side, “Come back to the gang, and I’ll let him go.”
Jungkook slides past the doors and disappears before Taehyung has time to reason with him. He runs after Jungkook, but rough hands are pushing him back as another quickly presses a needle into his neck. He falls unconscious with his hand extended, searching for Hoseok’s warmth only to be met with the cold surface of glass.
Hoseok blinks his eyes open.
The first thing he sees is a pair of reddish-grey eyes staring directly into his.
It’s a Syloe, no doubt, with a snarl on his face and hard, round eyes that pierce straight into him like lasers. Upon closer inspection, Hoseok recognizes him as S3 from their booklet back during the kidnapping mission with Taehyung, observed as one of the stronger ones of the gang. Judging from the expression, Hoseok knows this was more than just a meal.
This was personal.
The back of his mind is telling him that this was his last breathing moment on earth, and the fear that consumes him is the kind that knows he stands no chance against the enemy. He doesn't have any of his weapons on him, and his hands and feet were stuck.
Hoseok glances down at his hands in his lap, bound by ropes so tightly that they were starting to turn purple. The side of his face hurts, and his lip is split open from where he’d been knocked out. He gingerly tongues at the injury and looks around with squinted eyes. They're in a dark warehouse with small windows lining the walls, allowing moonlight to shine in and illuminate them in a white glow. They’re alone, and judging by the stillness outside, they were probably isolated away from Seele.
The Syloe straightens up and grits his teeth, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees, “Finally awake are we?” He pauses and his expression gets darker, “This is payback for taking Taehyung from us.”
Hoseok averts his gaze and frowns down at his numb hands, opening and closing them to try and circulate the blood. “You should be thanking us for not killing him,” he says through tight lips.
Jungkook laughs bitterly, “Thank you guys? You guys kidnapped my brother and forced us to relocate from our home to a new city with a shortage of food because you fucked us over. I’d rather have my teeth pulled one by fucking one than have to thank the pricks that did this to us because they couldn't accept life.” He leans forward in the chair till they're mere inches apart and grabs Hoseok’s chin roughly, tilting it towards his direction, “You guys have filthier hands than we do.”
Hoseok pulls back sharply, “Don’t fucking touch me.”
S3 grabs for his chin again, this time with such force that the nails gripping along his jawline start to break skin, “I don’t care if you so much as rot here in this chair as a lifeless corpse. Divenire and all your little friends are going to feel what we did when you took Taehyung away from us. And when they come to rescue you, I’m going to take your life right before their eyes. This warehouse is going to be your grave.”
Hoseok winces as S3 pulls his hand away, and he can feel blood sliding down his neck. If he was being honest, he figured S3 wasn’t just going to let him walk out of there alive. And anyway, Divenire were a lot like Syloe in the sense that they didn't go out on a limb to save one member if it meant jeopardizing the whole, and it made sense because he’d committed a crime against them. This really could be his last.
He remembers back to the night when Seokjin had warned him not all Syloe were like Taehyung, and although he knew Seokjin’s words held truth, he never thought he'd be experiencing it. And seeing the vicious appearance of S3, Hoseok is reminded of Taehyung’s soft skin and warm smile.
Hoseok pushes the thought to the back of his mind and examines his surroundings. With S3 sitting a few feet away from him, eyes locked on his every movement, it was near impossible for him to implement any strategies to escape. The windows were a perfect escape, but he’d have to be alone in the warehouse for that. Physical attacks were another option, but there was no doubt that a Syloe’s strength far outdid Hoseok’s, especially with his hands and feet bound together. So for now, all he could do was wait helplessly.
S3 smirks and runs his tongue along his fingertips, cleaning up any blood that had smeared onto his hand.
He says, “Well, that is if I don't eat you up before they come.”
“Fuck, you have to let me help you. Please.”
Taehyung is begging from within the quarantine cell, hands strapped behind him from the tight bundle of wire wrapped around his torso and the thick metal holding his wrists together behind him. On the other side of the glass, Namjoon, Seokjin, and Jimin stand, frazzled and anxious.
Taehyung had regained consciousness hours after he’d been sedated to the sounds of three people talking, shooting his eyes open and catching the end of their conversation about Divenire not helping with Hoseok’s kidnapping because he’d committed a crime that put the entire organization in danger. They’d been relocated to a different room, and he figures Divenire had left Namjoom, Jimin, and Seokjin to deal with this on their own.
Namjoon slams his fist against the desk in anger, rattling the pens off the surface and onto the floors, “This is my fault for carrying out that mission to begin with. Now look where it’s gotten us!”
Seokjin frowns and tightens his fists, “It’s not the time to point fingers, Namjoon, we need to figure something out before it’s too late.”
Taehyung bangs the side of his body against the glass, “Please, you guys don’t understand. I could get him back if you just let me help. I know Jungkook better than anyone here… he won’t listen unless I agree to return.”
Jimin nods slowly, “He’s got a point guys. It’ll also take us far longer to hunt down his whereabouts. I’ll bet he won’t go down without a fight, too. We’d need backup, and if we do secretly recruit members to help us, there’s a good chance he’ll take out more than half of our men, and the Captain definitely won’t allow that. You know it too. He specifically ordered us to keep this whole ordeal to ourselves because no one else in Divenire know we have a Syloe captive and Hoseok committed a pretty serious crime…” Jimin’s jaw tenses. “It’s fucked up that they won’t send in more backup to save Hoseok, but they’re our orders.”
Namjoon paces back and forth nervously, “It’s because it’s our mess… they don’t like feeling their security threatened.” He shakes his head and glances at Taehyung. “Even if his inner makeup is starting to become human again, he’s still a Syloe and could kill us all the moment we let him out and release him back into the wild. There’s a reason he’s here in the Pit in the first place. I can’t allow that because I can’t insure ours and our city’s safety.” Taehyung raises his brows. He wonders how the others found out about Hoseok’s plans to help him become human, but he figures Hoseok had told them himself.
Seokjin remembers back to the countless moments Hoseok had defended the Syloe, subtly but surely, and he knows if someone with as big of a heart as Hoseok wanted to help their kind, they also had to have some faith. “I know this is crazy, but we just- we have to trust him, Namjoon,” Seokjin mutters under his breath in agreement.
“I’ve been feeding on Hoseok for months now, and I guarantee you, I haven’t hurt a hair on his body. You would've noticed unless you're all a bunch of oblivious fucks. Don’t you think if I wanted to fucking kill anyone, I would've killed Hoseok by now?” Taehyung says firmly. “You just have to trust me on this one. By the time you guys locate Hoseok, he’ll have starved to death.”
Namjoon, Seokjin, and Jimin glance at each other knowingly. Judging by Taehyung’s words, Namjoon’s suspicions had been right all along about Taehyung feeding directly on Hoseok rather than vials of his blood. The bite marks he and the others had seen were unmistakably those of a Syloe, but he felt guilty that Hoseok had kept it a secret from all three of them and that Hoseok had been dealing with this on his own.
“He’s right,” Jimin murmurs, looking down at his open hands. “Hoseok doesn't easily trust people, you guys should know that better than anyone else. If Hoseok trusts him with his life…” he pauses and looks up at Taehyung with slanted eyes, “Well, I think Hoseok would want us to do the same.”
Namjoon and Seokjin don't say anything in return, and Jimin knows there’s no other choice but to let Taehyung help seek out Hoseok. There was simply nothing left to discuss.
After a long few minutes of silence, Namjoon looks to Seokjin, and they both nod their heads slightly. Namjoon squeezes his hands into tight fists and bites his tongue. He slowly walks up to the door of the cell and hesitantly punches in the code, holding his breath the entire way. Namjoon takes hesitant steps towards Taehyung, pulling his knife out to cut the wires in one swift movement and presses in the code to release the cuffs. He’s nervous, scared, and determined all at once.
Taehyung slides past the glass doors and inhales heavily, stretching his arms over his head. Namjoon, Seokjin, and Jimin all stand close to the walls, tense and guarded.
The moment they step out into the night, Taehyung barely has time to adjust his eyes before his back hits the wall behind him roughly, and his head collides against brick. He’s about to get ready to push at his attacker when he hears, “Taehyung?” His eyes come back into focus, and he sees Yoongi standing in front of him with wide eyes and mouth agape.
Yoongi breaks out into a wide smile and shakes his head, pulling him into a tight embrace. Taehyung wraps his own arms around Yoongi’s torso. “I’ve missed you so much,” Taehyung breathes into his shoulder. Yoongi nods against him.
Within the next instant, Yoongi pulls back quickly and looks at Taehyung with dark eyes, his expression grim, “Jungkook’s gone fucking berserk. He’s kidnapped one of them because of what they did to you.” Yoongi glances at the rest of their group, locking eyes with Jimin, who drops his gaze to the floor.
Taehyung nods and looks at a spot past Yoongi’s shoulder, “I know.” He says, “Yoongi… you need to help me get him back.”
Yoongi squints and takes a step back, “Wait… you’ve been helping them?”
Taehyung grits his teeth, “I know it’s hard to understand, but. Hoseok’s been helping me. And now it’s my turn to return the favor.” He looks at the skin on arms, fingers, palms, “I’ve been feeding on Hoseok for months now, Yoongi, and it’s just. I don't know how, but it’s making me human again.”
Yoongi shakes his head, scoffing lightly, “Bullshit.”
“Feel my pulse,” Taehyung challenges, extending his wrist for Yoongi to feel.
Yoongi wraps two fingers around his thin wrist skeptically, but his expression is evidence enough that there was no denying Taehyung’s words. His pulse was clearly faster compared to Yoongi’s.
“You’re… warmer too,” Yoongi drawls, confused. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
Taehyung shakes his head and takes a step forward, “Yoongi, please. Help me, help us. We’re running out of time, and I need to find him.” He pauses and glances at Namjoon, Seokjin, and Jimin standing behind him, hesitating for a few moments, “…They can help you become human too. I know how bad you want that.”
Namjoon and Seokjin furrow their brows confusedly, speaking up all at once and denying the the offer. This wasn’t part of the plan.
“We never agreed to this,” Namjoon interjects sternly. “The plan was that-“
“I’ll help,” Jimin cuts in, voice shaky. “I’ll help you become human if you help us find Hoseok and bring him back.” Namjoon glares darts at him, getting ready to shoot down his compromise, but it wasn't his place to tell him what he could and couldn't do with his own body. He just wished he wouldn't regret this later. After all, he owed it to Yoongi for saving his life.
Yoongi looks at Jimin calculatingly and glances down at his pale, cold hands, ones that used to frighten little girls for their snacks and milk cartons. He thinks about all the lifeless eyes he’d witnessed and the sleepless nights he'd endured. He thinks about the darkness in his mind when he tries to remember life before death and the family he once had. Suddenly he yearns to understand warmth.
Yoongi looks up into Taehyung’s eyes, “Jungkook couldn't have gone too far.”
It takes four hours to track down Hoseok’s scent outside of the Divenire headquarters.
Jungkook had found a way to mask the scent, but only temporarily, and anywhere beyond the headquarters was completely void of Hoseok’s smell. Yoongi had picked up on it just outside of Seele near Varuo, and from thereon south, the scent was just a clear path away from finding Hoseok. Jungkook couldn’t have gone farther than the next city in the past fourteen hours. But Hoseok’s scent was light and subtle. Anytime soon it could vanish in the wind, and finding Hoseok would be as probable as capturing thin air.
As soon as they locked in on the smell, Namjoon, Seokjin, and Jimin hurried back to headquarters to suit up and gather up some tranquilizing guns just in case Jungkook decided to run or attack.
Jimin climbs onto the back of Namjoon’s bike just as Seokjin turns on the ignition on his. There’s nothing but a determined silence ringing throughout the garage. He follows suit as Seokjin pulls the helmet over his head.
Namjoon pauses halfway and sets his helmet in his lap, turning towards the two of them with a serious expression, the kind he puts on when their lives are on the line or when his mind won’t think straight. Jimin remembers seeing that same expression a few weeks back.
He says, “Let’s go get Hoseok back.”
The roar of the engines as they speed out of the garage echoes so loud Jimin hears it till they reach the outskirts of Seele.
“We’re getting closer, I can smell them!” Taehyung shouts over his shoulder, glancing at Yoongi beside him in the corner of his eye.
Taehyung and Yoongi are traveling overhead by feet while Jimin, Namjoon, and Seokjin travel below, speeding through the city on their bikes and watching as the world passes by in a blur of colors. Taehyung knows he’s going too fast, but at any second Hoseok could be killed, and it wasn’t something he could risk, especially if it meant dying because of him.
They’d passed through the territory border into Varuo, an empty city full of ghosts and rundown factory buildings. He’d been there only once or twice with Yoongi and the gang, passing through just to get into Seele. He remembers the smell of dust and rusting metal, and the sound of broken glass beneath his shoes makes him wonder about the places he grew up in as a child.
“You smell that?” Yoongi mutters hesitantly, more as a statement than a question, pulling Taehyung’s focus back to the situation at hand.
Taehyung inhales slightly, and almost instantly, he feels his eyes dilate and his chest quake. His body, by instinct, reacts to the scent of Hoseok’s blood, but he feels his muscles tense at the realization that Hoseok was hurt because he certainly wasn't the cause of the bleeding. Hoseok only bled for him. Not even for Death himself. He bites down on his lip until he tastes dust and rusting metal.
Taehyung picks up his pace almost frantically, and he feels his lungs threatening to burst. The scent gets stronger each feet they travel until he’s breathing Hoseok’s blood. He knows Yoongi is thinking the same by the way his jaw tightens and his pupils dilate.
Yoongi grabs his arm and stops, leaning against the wall of the nearby building and points to the warehouse a few blocks down. He places a finger over his lips and gestures for him to be quiet. Taehyung nods, and together they jump down to ground level. Namjoon, Seokjin, and Jimin join them seconds later, turning off their bikes and parking it nearby.
This was where he was.
The warehouse is large with few windows lining the exterior. From the outside, Taehyung can hear Hoseok’s shaky breathing.
Without waiting another second, Yoongi breaks down the door, and they walk into the dark building carefully, squinting into the night. Taehyung spots Hoseok’s slumped figure, strapped into a chair in the middle of the warehouse. The side of his face is bleeding from the long cut on his forehead, and his throat had been scratched up, blood pooling in the collar of his shirt. Taehyung lunges forward, but Yoongi shoots his arm out to stop him.
Hoseok whirls around at the sound and sighs in relief. But before he can say anything, Jungkook grabs him by his shirt, yanking him up into a standing position and grips his throat from behind, mouth dangerously close to his jugular. Hoseok glances around the warehouse, and only now does he notice he’d been surrounded by more Syloe.
Jungkook takes a step back, pulling Hoseok with him but stills once he sees Yoongi. He says, “Yoongi what are you- why are you helping them?” His voice quivers slightly, and Hoseok thinks he sounds like a lost soul.
Yoongi takes a firm step forward, eyes lowered threateningly. Judging by the way the others in the warehouse step back slowly, Hoseok figures he’s the leader.
A low growl sounds from the back of Yoongi’s throat as he says, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing, Jungkook?”
Jungkook’s grip tightens on his throat, “Don’t you get it? I’m trying to bring Taehyung back, and you're just getting in the fucking way!”
Namjoon steps forward and raises his gun, “Let him go or I’m going to shoot, I swear I will.”
Jungkook smirks, “There isn’t a chance that bullet is going to be fast enough for me to kill him.”
Namjoon presses his finger on the trigger, but one of the other Syloe in the warehouse lunges at him unexpectedly, catching him off-guard. Namjoon dodges him and pushes him to the floor. He falls on his wrist roughly, enough to fracture a bone and grimaces. Seokjin raises his own gun to help Namjoon, but another Syloe attacks him from the side, knocking the gun from his hand. Jimin kicks the Syloe off easily, tackling him to the floor in a bundle of punches as Seokjin moved to grab for Namjoon.
Suddenly Yoongi is in front of Hoseok and Jungkook before Hoseok has time to blink, his sharp fangs close as he locks gazes with Jungkook. He reaches forward and pries Jungkook’s hands off his throat, grabbing Hoseok by the shirt and throwing him off to the side. Jungkook tries to pull himself free, but Yoongi doesn’t let off easily. He throws a kick and a punch to the side of his jaw, getting in a few hits, but Yoongi dodges most of them. He falls back as Yoongi slams him against the wall.
Yoongi turns his gaze behind him at the other Syloe, growling harshly with his teeth barred, “I’m your fucking leader, and I order you all to stand the fuck down.” As the other members of the Syloe gang see Jungkook pinned down from Yoongi’s strength, they stand up and retreat, backing away along the walls of the building.
Yoongi turns back to Jungkook with narrows eyes. He says, “You don't realize this, but that guy is special to Taehyung. It’s already shitty enough being a Syloe, so tell me, why is it bad that he’s found happiness?”
Jungkook yells in frustration, shoving Yoongi roughly at the shoulders to get him to let go, “What about us? What about his friends?”
Yoongi pushes Jungkook to the floor. “Why can't he have both?” He shouts with clenched fists. “When the fuck did you become such a murderer?” Jungkook flinches at the words, and his eyes glaze over.
Yoongi shakes his head, “Just take the gang and get out of here.” He pauses, “I know you’re more than capable of taking over the leader’s position.”
Taehyung had grabbed Hoseok and pulled him off to the side. He watches Yoongi and Jungkook solemly, his chest hurting as he watched his friends, his brothers fight because of him. He says, “Yoongi, don’t hurt him”
Jungkook’s eyes fill with tears from the realization of what he’d done, and now he’d lost Yoongi too. Yoongi releases his grip carefully, and Jungkook punches the floor violently. With one last glance to Taehyung, sadness flooding his eyes, he stands up, and within the next second, he and the gang retreat from the warehouse.
With Hoseok in his embrace, Taehyung exhales the breath he’d been holding. He finally relaxes his tense shoulders knowing that Hoseok was okay with minor injuries and looks up at the dark sky, only a few stars twinkling back.
Before they leave the warehouse, Taehyung vows that he would apologize to Jungkook one day. It wasn’t Jungkook’s fault for loving him too hard.
After all, it was his fault for breaking him.
On the outskirts of Seele, Hoseok sits and watches the sun peek over the horizon. Jimin and Yoongi are on his right side, Namjoon and Seokjin on the left. Taehyung is behind him, squatting with his knees on either side of Hoseok, arms lazily draped over his shoulders.
Hoseok’s face and neck hurt, but he was alive and breathing, and that was all that mattered. He says, “I can’t go back… you guys know that already.”
Seokjin nods, “I wouldn't want you to.”
Jimin swallows nervously, “I.. won’t be going back either.” He glances at Yoongi, calmly starring out at the orange sky, “I have a favor to repay.”
Namjoon turns to Hoseok, and their eyes lock as he smiles confidently, “Fuck it, I’ve been there long enough.”
Hoseok feels Taehyung rest his chin on the top of his head, and he reaches up to hold onto the arms over his shoulders. The sky is a mixture of oranges, pinks, and blues in some places, but mostly black in others as night persisted for a few more hours. He thinks it’s like colored smoke seeping from his lungs, warm and breathtaking as he watched it reflect in the eyes of his friends. He looks up and marvels as the colors reflect off Taehyung’s skin, as the stars that still littered the sky twinkled in his smile.
Before the sun rises an hour later, kissing the horizon the same way his heart bloomed in five different places until it reached for the sun, he closes his eyes and breathes at the blinking lights in the clouds.
He says, “Let’s go swimming with the stars.”
And Taehyung kisses him until he’s warm.