When their leader Namjoon assigned him the responsibility of looking after the new addition to their coven, Jimin had to admit he was nervous. He was no veteran, being the second youngest in the group up until now, and handling a newly-turned was no walk in the park.
Seeing the newbie curled up in the corner of the room, howling in pain as his fingers curled around his neck and clawed at his chest was unsettling even though Jimin knew this was all perfectly normal. Having gone through it himself, he knew how painful it could be - your body was changing down to its very core and it hurt more than being ripped wide open and put back together piece by piece without any anesthesia. Even when you fell unconscious from the pain, the hunger pangs became so unbearable that soon enough you were thrashing around the room again, confused and hurt and sobbing uncontrollably (Or maybe that had just been him).
The other stilled for a second and Jimin already knew what was coming, quickly moved to grab the rabbit in the other room before the other could stir again. On his feet and ready to pounce on him at any moment, Jimin caught his head, gripping his hair tight as he resisted, and guided his fangs towards the animal. Instinct did the rest and before he knew it the creature was sucked dry and Jimin looked away from the mess that was the corpse in his hand. The transformation was not quite over yet and pretty soon the newbie was in the fetal position again, whimpering and trembling.
He trembled and whimpered and moaned in agony for hours, for a long time until suddenly he stilled and laid limp in the corner of the room. Out like a light and probably unconscious for a few more hours, at least, until either the pain of the transformation or the burning thirst roused him again.
This was something that took time, Jimin himself had taken a whole week, and as the one in charge it was his job to be there with him every step of the way. It was his job, but he still didn't want to do it, didn't want to listen to the other's whimpers and cries as he went through the painful process they had imposed on him. Process which would last days, he thought to himself and groaned, days of the newbie slipping in and out of consciousness, days of feeding him when he got hungry, days of cleaning up after him, days of doing nothing but wait in the room until it was all over.
Near the end of the third day, there was a knock on the door and whoever was on the other side didn't even bother waiting for his answer before entering.
"Hyung," he said, voice hoarse from disuse. "What are you doing here?"
"Seokjin hyung told me to check up on you," he said, then gesturing towards the other side of the room with a nod of his head. "How's the newbie doing?"
Jimin pouted at his words, he was one of the youngest in the coven but he was not incompetent, yet he still knew better than voice his complaints to Yoongi. "He's unconscious right now, shouldn't be too long before he gets hungry again."
Yoongi hummed at his words but didn't say anything, focusing instead on the body laying still on the other side of the room. His eyes studied the other carefully and Jimin saw a frown pull at the corner of his mouth. "He's so quiet..."
"Is that bad?" Alarm made its way to his voice, and he stood from his chair to meet Yoongi's eyes. "He's still now, but he does thrash around a lot when he's semi-conscious."
"No, that's great, actually; means the kid's taking the transition rather well. I was just hoping you'd have a little bit more trouble because you put me through hell," Yoongi said, shooting a teasing smirk his way before turning to look at the newbie again.
"Hyung! That was a long time ago... And -" Jimin crossed his arms and pouted "- I wasn't that bad."
Yoongi stared at him, lidded eyes boring into him and before he even opened his mouth to retort Jimin already knew he had made a mistake. "You cried the entire time. You got mad at me once you became lucid and I had to tie you up and leave you there for a whole day until you were willing to listen. You're trying to tell me you weren't that bad?"
Jimin could feel the heat rising up his neck. He knew it had been a mistake to keep the topic going - he had been trying to forget those details for years, decades, and Yoongi always made sure to bring them back up again and it wouldn't stop unless he remembered to avoid giving him so many opportunities to do so. "Anything else, hyung? I know you'd rather be somewhere else."
The elder chuckled at his obvious attempt to change the subject but went along with it anyway. "These," he said, raising a handful of books for him to see. "Taehyung told me to bring you some comics so you won't get so bored. You finished the ones he brought before, right?"
He nodded and motioned towards the table next to his chair. Yoongi set the new stack on the table and picked up the one he already read over the past few days. Just then, just as Yoongi swung the door open to leave, the newbie stirred and Jimin knew the cycle would start all over again.
"Good luck with that," was all Yoongi said before closing the door behind him and leaving Jimin alone with the semi-conscious newbie.
He sighed; the other's groans were already echoing throughout the room and he knew what he had to do. Jimin moved to the cage next to his chair, grabbed the fluffy white rabbit and tried not to close his eyes as he heard it squeak when he guided the newbie's fangs to its midsection.
The fifth day rolled by, according to his cellphone, and he was just beginning to read the last of the comic books when he heard weak, soft whispers coming from the crumpled body on the floor. Whispers, coherent whispers from the sounds of it. Jimin kneeled down next to him, unsure of whether the transition was truly over or not, but the bright red eyes that greeted him indicated that it really was.
"Someone's hungry," he mused to himself, trying to make light of things as he reached into the cage to grab another rabbit. He held the animal, squirming and trying to hop away, close to the other, who was quick to take it from his hands, dig his fangs into its skin, and taint its white fur crimson.
Jimin looked away but he still saw it from the corner of his eye, still caught the other staring at the corpse in his hands, face smeared with blood (as was usual for newbies, they were always so messy, so uncontrolled) and dark brown eyes wet with unshed tears. He felt his chest constrict at the sight, but tried to convince himself there was no use in feeling that way because what was done was already done and there was no reversing it.
"It's..." He stopped himself as he thought of how to word things. He knew how difficult it was to take all in, how shocking everything was. He wanted to comfort the newbie, somehow, but he also knew there was no use hiding the harsh reality. "You'll get used to it."
"And what is this 'it'?" He croaked, voice still raspy, rough, and just a bit shaky and Jimin couldn't help but notice how young, how small he sounded.
"Ever heard of vampires? That sort of 'it', kind of." The younger didn't move, didn't say anything, just stared almost unblinking and Jimin realized that maybe he was going too fast. Maybe he was making something overwhelming even more so with how he was handling things.
"Um, first things first right?" He tried again and even when the other didn't respond, Jimin decided to assume he was listening. "What's your name?"
Silence followed and the younger wasn't even looking at him now. He was about to repeat the question, contemplated even nudging him gently to get his attention, when a small whisper echoed through the quiet room. "Jeongguk."
"Okay, Jeongguk, listen," He started one more time, his tone much more soft and gentle now. "I know this is hard, but the worst part is over, okay? You won't hurt anymore."
"I'm the one in charge of helping you with this transition, so tell me if you feel anything weird or if you have any questions." Jeongguk was staring at the floor now and Jimin sighed. He moved to take his seat again, picked up the comic book he was reading and figured the best thing to do was wait until it all sunk in, until Jeongguk himself approached him and asked him something.
The comic book had long been discarded when Jimin heard his voice again. He was messing with his cellphone, playing one of the games Taehyung had installed on it, and he almost didn't hear the other. He heard it though, just barely, and he was surprised at how collected it sounded, how calm.
"My throat's dry and everything burns and I feel a little bit dizzy."
Jimin turned to look at him and couldn't help but sigh at his pitiful expression, because even though Jeongguk's tone implied ignorance he could see the knowing look in his crestfallen eyes. "You're thirsty... You know what you have to do now, right?" Jeongguk's gaze followed his own towards the rabbit cage.
"Do I have to?"
"It's the lesser evil right now, trust me." And Jimin tried to ignore the whimper that escaped him, the heartbroken expression he wore as he moved to grab another fluffy white rabbit.
"Explain," Jeongguk finally said after two whole days of pointedly avoiding to look, speak, or even acknowledge Jimin's presence in the room. Even when he got thirsty and Jimin handed him a rabbit he made an effort to avoid looking at him, biting into the animal and discarding it once he was done without so much as glancing at him. He didn't say anything and remained huddled in the corner of the bare room without moving more than absolutely necessary. Jeongguk tried to look tough, he guessed, but Jimin caught him gazing at the rabbit corpse from the corner of his eyes before he cleaned the mess.
Now that he was lucid, Jimin could actually leave the room sometimes to hunt for himself (the burning in his throat had been becoming uncomfortable after so many days without a meal) and he left Seokjin to look after the newbie, just in case, but according to the elder Jeongguk gave everyone the same silent treatment, refusing to turn towards them even when spoken to, even as they brought him a rabbit so he could feed.
But things were starting to sink in now, so it seemed, and he wanted to believe the younger was finally getting over the initial shock. That he was finally willing to listen.
Jimin lifted himself off the chair and sat down on the floor next to where Jeongguk was huddled in the corner of the room. Unlike the past few days, with the exception of the first day of his becoming lucid, the newbie turned to look at him. "What do you want to know?"
"What did you do to me?" he said, eyes sharp as they bore into him. His lips were pressed in a thin line and Jimin worried for a second that Jeongguk would react just as violently as he had.
"You're no longer human, Jeongguk." Jimin saw him flinch at the words and the look on his face told him he had just confirmed the younger's suspicions. "I'm sure you can feel it - the way you hear better, see better. The thirs--"
"What am I?" and he sounded so upset, so lost and pained that Jimin felt guilt pricking at his chest like needles.
"With all the movies and series out there and the fact you've been sucking bunnies dry these past few days, you don't have any guesses?" He said with a forced chuckle, trying to lighten up the mood somehow, but once the words left his mouth he couldn't help but regret it. Couldn't help but feel that it had been out of place, that he had just made everything worse because no matter how he replayed what he said in his head it sounded inconsiderate. Rude.
Jeongguk looked at him sharply but Jimin felt that the look in his eyes was definitely not as forlorn as they were just moments ago. Maybe he was seeing things - although that was unlikely because he did have augmented sight after all - but he felt there was even something playful in his eyes. "I'm still warm, my heart's still beating, and I'm not any paler than I was before - so that's out."
Jimin couldn't help but laugh at this because he wasn't wrong; he had asked Jeongguk to look at things from the perspective of a modern day teenager and he had done just that. Still, it was amusing as well as relieving (He really thought he had screwed up for a second) to receive an answer like that, impassive and bordering on sarcastic, despite the situation they were in.
"Aren't you supposed to help me?" He said and Jimin tried to compose himself. Cleared his throat and looked at the younger seriously.
"Sorry. We don't really fit into any type of creature known to man so far. Vampires are the closest thing, for the most part, so we generally just use that as a quick way to explain things."
"Okay, then, but what am I - what are we?" Jeongguk pressed on, the seriousness from before returning.
Jimin shrugged his shoulders and tried to keep things casual and nonchalant. "We don't really have a name for ourselves - we recognize when someone's of our kind and that's enough, I guess. Maybe there's a name for us out there, but our coven doesn't use it at least."
"Coven," Jeongguk repeated quietly to himself, hugging his knees and staring at the wall in front of them. "So there's a leader, right? Was it the guy you left me with before?"
"That was Seokjin hyung; he's the eldest, but he's not the leader. Namjoon hyung is. You'll get to meet him later. You'll get to meet them all, actually." Jimin said and leaned back to rest his weight on his elbows, smiling Jeongguk's way encouraging him to follow suit, but the other didn't move at all.
"If he's the eldest, how come he isn't the leader?"
"It's not by age - although that does play into things a bit, I guess - it's by... Well, it's kind of hard to explain," Jimin began, thinking back to how it was exactly that Namjoon became the leader. When he had joined the coven Namjoon had just taken up the responsibility and before that, so he gathered from what little Yoongi mentioned, it seemed like Yoongi shared the position of leader with Seokjin but the coven grew and somehow Namjoon stood out. Or Yoongi felt like it was too much of a hassle, which wouldn't surprise him if it was actually the case.
"Aren't you helpful..." Jimin heard and he shot straight back up in embarrassment.
"Sorry," he said but Jeongguk's expression remained the same, neutral . "It's complicated but the leader is the strongest one who's willing to assume the responsibility, I guess. It's the only way I can think of describing it."
Jeongguk hummed in response but didn't say anything else. He continued to stare at the wall in front of him with his brows furrowed, hugging his knees close to his chest. Jimin began to play with his shoelaces as he waited for the other to say something, anything, because the thought that he was going too fast always came to mind and he didn't want to mess up.
"Am I going too fast?" he muttered after a long wordless silence, glancing Jeongguk's way from the corner of his eye. "Too much?"
The newbie shook his head, though, and turned to look at him with an expression Jimin couldn't quite read. "A little, I guess? But I think it's fine. I've been thinking this over all this time and I'm kind of done freaking out over it."
"Really?" Jimin could already feel the heat rising up his neck. Jeongguk was taking everything a million times better than he did way back when and while it was relieving he already knew that without a doubt Yoongi would tease him for it. Would remind him for at least a few more decades of how he reacted to everything at first.
"Yeah," he said and his calm tone did not betray his words. "You'll help me get used to things, right?"
Jimin nodded, and again he was reminded of the responsibility resting over his shoulders. Right. Things were just beginning; Jeongguk had finished his transformation but there was still so much that Jimin had to explain, so much he had to teach him and guide him through.
"Yeah, that's what I'm here for. Any more questions?"
Jimin knew he must have been blushing or making a weird expression or something of sorts because Jeongguk was laughing, which only made everything even more embarrassing.
"Jimin!" He said a little too fast, leaning closer towards him with wide eyes. "I'm Jimin. Did I really not say it yet?" and he felt his face grow hot as Jeongguk shook his head with a chuckle.
"Sorry, I forgot then... Now -" Jimin straightened himself and tried to put on a more serious tone, but the damage was done and the younger's eyes had this distinct playful twinkle in them that made him even more self-conscious "- how about I take you over to the showers? You smell pretty bad." He said as he stood up and offered Jeongguk a hand.
"I've been here how long? You expect me to smell nice?" he grumbled but took the hand anyway to pull himself up, then wrinkled his nose in disgust as he looked down at his clothes and saw all the grime and animal blood. "So that was the smell..."
"It's been killing me too," Jimin said as he opened the door and he sniffed the fresh air with a sigh of relief. Almost an entire week without leaving the room and any type of air that didn't reek of dried dead blood cells and sweat was purity itself. Jeongguk was already staring at him and Jimin straightened his back again as he lead the younger through the hall. "Bathroom's this way."
The moment Jimin brought Jeongguk to the main room, hair still wet from the shower, towel wrapped around his neck, and clothed in a simple white shirt and jeans Seokjin had prepared, Taehyung and Hoseok flew up towards him faster than he could blink. He looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights as Taehyung put an arm around him and loudly welcomed Jeongguk to the coven while Hoseok looked him over and kept repeating how cute he was.
It took only one word from Seokjin for them to quiet down, put some space between them and the newbie, and Jimin saw Jeongguk's shoulder slump as he was released.
"You're scaring him," the elder said pointedly, offering Jeongguk a small smile. Knowing Seokjin it was meant as a reassuring gesture, but still Jimin saw how the younger inched towards him, moved to put him in between them two and he almost chuckled at the action.
"Jeongguk, this is Seokjin hyung. That's Hoseok hyung and that's Taehyung," Jimin said, moving aside so Jeongguk wasn't hidden behind him (Not like he was actually hidden, he was much younger but a lot taller... Unfortunately).
"Pleasure," Jeongguk mumbled.
"Oh, he speaks!" Hoseok said, moving to pat the younger on the back. "How did you get him to start talking? When I went to see him he totally ignored me and Seokjin hyung."
"Well, if that's how you react around him of course he's not going to talk to you," said a voice and they all turned towards the house entrance to see Yoongi crouched down, slipping off his shoe with one hand while the other worked on loosening his tie. "Jeonggukkie, right? I'm Yoongi."
Jeongguk nodded and Hoseok sped towards Yoongi voicing his protests. Protests the other turned a deaf ear to as he sunk into one of the sofas with a heavy sigh and reached out for the remote control. Jimin saw Jeongguk's shoulder sag and reminded himself that maybe it was too much, too overwhelming. Meeting nearly all of them at once had been a bad idea, probably, and the look Seokjin was sending him, as well as the worried look Taehyung threw the younger's way, told him they were thinking the same thing too. And it was his job to make sure Jeongguk was okay.
Jimin closed the distance between them and touched his arm lightly while Hoseok still pestered Yoongi, whining that he wasn't as loud as the elder claimed he was. The younger turned towards him, and Jimin offered him a smile. "Too much?" and he nodded shyly in response.
"I'm taking Jeongguk to his room!" Jimin announced loudly and nudged the younger towards the hall.
They walked in almost silence through the hall since the other's loud conversation - mostly Hoseok being loud, anyway, more than proving Yoongi's previous point and he could already hear Taehyung's hearty laugh as Seokjin pointed this out - filtered through the corridor. Jeongguk followed without a word, but as Jimin turned to the last room of the hall, he mumbled, "Thank you," and Jimin opened the door with a smile.
"You're welcome. That's why I'm here. They're always like that but you get used to it, I guess?" and he motioned the younger towards the room. The standard room they were all given (Except Namjoon, because leaders had privileges) with a simple bed set against the furthest corner of the room, a small nighstand besides it and a wooden wardrobe opposite to it. "This is your room and mine's right next door. If you need anything."
"Would you..." Jimin trailed off, looking as Jeongguk's eyes flickered across the room to take everything in. "Would you rather stay alone for a bit? Rest?"
"We can sleep?" He asked, turning to look at him with his eyebrows so high they hid behind his bangs.
"Yeah," Jimin chuckled, "It's not all that necessary but... It's nice and relaxing. Kind of like going out for a walk, you know? Not really necessary, but still something to treat yourself to from time to time."
Jeongguk hummed, eyeing the bed in the corner of the room. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," Jimin said, "I'll be in my room if you need anything. Just relax for now, take everything in," and after he saw Jeongguk nod in understanding he closed the door behind him.
One thing at a time. It was a lot to take in, after all; Yoongi wouldn't let him forget how much time it had taken him and he was prepared to be as patient as possible with Jeongguk.
Three weeks later, Seokjin suggested he take Jeongguk out for a walk to test the waters, see if he could handle being near humans, if he could keep his instincts in check by himself. They needed to make sure he could control himself before Jimin could teach him to hunt and that needed to happen in a nearby future because soon the animal blood would not be enough and nothing was worse than a thirsty newbie out of control.
This was serious business yet Jimin couldn't help but laugh as Jeongguk admired everything around them, as he stared at each and every tree and flowerbed as if he were seeing this all for the first time.
"Never been in a park before?"
"I've been locked in that house for more than three weeks, Jimin, shut up," he said with a huff, but the look on his face suggested he was embarrassed more than anything. He crossed his arms over his chest, tried to keep his eyes steady and lidded and not flickering from one place to the other wide with wonder. "Everything looks so clear, though," he mumbled.
"Yeah, that's normal but let's focus. Remember why we're here," Jimin said, closing the distance between them so that Jeongguk was at arm's length, close enough to grab him if anything happened.
"I know, I know - make sure I don't just pounce on someone. I'm fine so far, aren't I?" Jeongguk said, turning to him with an almost triumphant grin on his face. A grin Jimin knew wouldn't last at all because they had been in the park only half an hour so far and had yet run into a person or even come close to finding one.
"It's three o'clock in the morning, how many people do you think are out here? Keep walking," he said as he nudged Jeongguk with his elbow away from the nearby branch he was messing with and back towards the gravel path.
"Is it that bad, though? I mean, I'm not even thirsty, see?" He pointed to his eyes and he wasn't wrong - they were a deep, dark brown color without even a hint of red. He wasn't thirsty, he was very well fed and satiated. For now, at least.
"I know, but you've been feeding on animals. People are different and even if you aren't hungry, you're not used to being around them just yet. It's overwhelming, trust me, that's why we're here so you can get used to it and learn to restrain yourself." Jeongguk nodded, turning around to run his fingers through the leaves of a low branch as they continued down the park's marked path and Jimin didn't stop him this time.
"Do you really have to touch every single branch you can reach?" Jimin said once the other reached out for the umpteenth time, walking on the tip of his toes to touch the leaves overhead. Maybe he sounded defensive, but just a few minutes ago he had tried to do the same, join Jeongguk in this weird game of his since walking around doing nothing was boring, and the height difference had done him no favor.
"I like being outside and being able to see everything so well now is so cool," and he raised his hand again, latched onto the branch just above their heads and lowered it to the point that even Jimin could reach. Jeongguk shook it lightly, staring at him as he brought the leaves closer to Jimin.
Jimin tried to look offended but probably failed, embarrassed as he felt. Jeongguk had ignored him when he failed to reach before and he had thought for a second that he had missed it altogether, hadn't seen him struggle on the tip of his toes with his hand outstretched just barely brushing against the leaves with his fingers. But he had seen him and, god, going so far as to pull down a branch for him to reach was too much. He was doing it on purpose, too, he was sure - that look in his eyes and the raise of his eyebrow were definitely mocking. Playfully mocking, but still.
"No thanks," he mumbled and Jeongguk let go, his lips quirking in what he could only say was triumph. "Keep walking, will you? Stop getting distracted."
Jeongguk didn't even bother to contain the small chuckle and Jimin wanted to go ahead and leave the other behind but he couldn't do that. He had to stay by his side, alert for any signs of tension in his posture, to make sure that if they ran into someone nothing disastrous happened.
They walked in silence, Jeongguk still playing with some leaves from time to time, and there didn't seem to be anyone in the park. They walked on and on and on and didn't come even close to one. Just in case Jimin continued by his side because they could still run into a person any minute, even though it seemed more unlikely as the minutes ticked away.
"You're in charge of me, right?" Jeongguk said, breaking the silence as they continued down the winding gravel path and adding once Jimin nodded, "How come?"
"Custom. Every time we get a new member in the coven one of us assumes responsibility over them since you're kind of like a newborn baby." Jeongguk didn't look amused at the comparison, not in the least, and Jimin pat his shoulder with a satisfied chuckle (he still couldn't let go of the branch incident). "I don't mean it in a bad way, it's just we're pretty different from people so there's a lot of things you don't know and that's why I'm here."
"Who was in charge of you? When you just got in, I mean," Jeongguk said, kicking a rock out into the grass and watching as it skidded over the ground.
"Yoongi hyung," he answered and Jeongguk turned to look at him with slightly widened eyes. "Why the face?"
"I didn't expect it to be Yoongi hyung," he said, kicking another rock out of their way. "I don't know, he doesn't seem like the nurturing type. I thought it would have been Seokjin hyung or Hoseok hyung."
He couldn't help himself, the other had given him an opening. "Oh? So I seem like the nurturing type?" he began with a sly smile, "Glad you like my guidance, Jeonggukkie," and he bumped his shoulder into Jeongguk's and laughed as the younger stumbled to a stop.
"Not what I meant," he almost stuttered, hand running through his hair. "And weren't you the one who told me we had to focus? We've been walking since forever and haven't run into a single soul." Jimin pursed his lips and pulled out his cellphone to look at the time. A formality, really, he'd been keeping track of time in his head and he knew they had to leave soon since sunrise was just around the corner.
A pity, a waste of a perfectly good night but apparently no one in the city had deemed tonight a good one to wander around the park. Sunrise would come soon and so would the early morning joggers and pet owners and he knew without a doubt that it would be all too much for Jeongguk.
"Let's just call it a night for now and go back, it'll be morning soon and too many people --" Jeongguk tensed by his side, spine becoming rigid and shoulders stiffening, and Jimin could only guess someone had woken up earlier than usual and decided that they didn't feel like waiting until the sun rose.
He couldn't see where the person was, but he could feel they were nearby and their scent alone, as expected, was enough to trigger a reaction. He flew next to Jeongguk and held his arm in a vice grip, glancing at him nervously. The look on his face was a mixture of anger and sheer terror at the onslaught of sensations. Terror, he could tell, because Jimin knew all too well how strong everything felt, how powerful the instinct to run after the person, pin them down, and suck them dry was.
He knew all too well how terrifying everything was.
Through his grip on his arm he could feel each and every tremor running through Jeongguk's body and their close proximity made his labored breaths ring even louder in his ears. With each step they took, Jeongguk's face contorted painfully and if he concentrated hard enough he could make out pained noises coming from him.
"I'm fine," he said through gritted teeth, fangs already protruding between his lips. "I can handle it."
But his words felt like they were more to reassure himself than anything. Jimin guided the younger away from where he felt the person was, but Jeongguk resisted and planted his feet on the ground. Even while struggling with himself he looked defiant, stubborn, and sent Jimin an expression that told him he did not plan on giving up just yet. Jimin saw the toll this was taking on him, though, saw the way his brown eyes reddened with each passing second, saw the way his eyes became wet with tears at how unbearable it was to keep himself in check and knew that he wouldn't handle it much longer, no matter how well he was doing for his first time.
Jimin sighed, "This takes time, Jeongguk, no one expects you to have perfect self control the first time around." He tugged some more but the other still didn't budge, still looked at him in a way that said he wasn't convinced just yet. "Come on, we'll come back another day. You'll get better with time."
Jeongguk let himself be dragged away eventually, probably more out of exhaustion than anything, and Jimin tried to reassure him that he had done a lot better than anyone ever expected.
"So, we're not going out tonight?" Jeongguk asked from Jimin's bed while he looked on as he stood close to his mirror trying to put on eyeliner. They had their separate rooms but still every night Jeongguk found his way into his, taking over his bed and asking to play or go out to the park to practice his restraint. Normally he would indulge him, play some video games with him or take him out to the nearest park, but tonight he didn't have the time.
"Not today, you need to rest some more still," Jimin said, drawing out the dark lines around his eyes, looking closely into the mirror to ensure he did them right. His eyes flickered towards Jeongguk's reflection. "I'm going out with Taehyung and Hoseok hyung, though. I'm thirsty."
"How's the eyeliner going to help you with that?" and Jimin saw his confused expression through the mirror.
It hadn't occurred to him until now that he never actually told the younger how it was they hunted. They were so used to it by now, it was so natural to them after all these years that he didn't even think about Jeongguk not having a clue unless he said anything. His only guide was the concept of vampires from movies and for decades now that was the farthest from the truth.
A few chuckles escaped him despite himself and he knew it was a little mean of him but he wanted to play with the younger a bit. "You've been watching too many horror movies, Jeonggukkie. How do you think we hunt?" and he already knew the answer, he'd seen a few of the movies himself, but he couldn't help it.
"I don't know. Dark alleys, running after people, knocking them out and --"
"Stop, stop right there," Jimin said, putting the eyeliner away and sitting down next to Jeongguk on the bed, slinging an arm around his shoulders. "No running after people, we also don't usually use dark alleys since they're dirty, and don't worry they knock themselves out of their senses without needing our help. It's not anything like the movies, at least not anymore."
Jeongguk turned to him with wide, curious eyes. "Not anymore?"
"I wasn't alive yet, but Seokjin hyung and Yoongi hyung were. They said in the past we really did lurk around the wilderness and kill travelers and whatnot, but we can't really do that nowadays, you know?" Jeongguk nodded in understanding. "We'd get caught right away or would have to do a lot of bribing not to get caught, so we had to adapt to the times."
"Do we still kill them?" Jimin caught the worry in his tone and squeezed his shoulder reassuringly.
"No, we don't do that anymore. We try to avoid it as much as possible, at least, although sometimes it's inevitable."
"That's," Jeongguk paused and his eyes trailed towards his lap, "that's kind of relieving actually," and for a while he didn't say anything else. He didn't have to, in a way, because Jimin felt his muscles relax under his arm and he understood what the other was feeling.
"Wait, so how do we hunt now?" He said, breaking the silence and turning to look at him again.
Jimin winked at him. "We go clubbing."
Jeongguk squirmed under his arm. "Clubbing? Really? How does that work out?"
"Is our little Jeonggukkie nervous? Don't worry, I'll be with you the whole time," he said with another light squeeze of his shoulder. "It's quite simple; in the dark club full of slightly intoxicated people it's acceptable to get close to another person's neck. Ever made out? It's the perfect opportunity for it and if you bite carefully enough it just looks like a hickey."
The more he explained it, the more Jeongguk fidgeted under his arm and his face lost its color. "Okay, so that's why you've been teaching me how to control myself while biting. Got it."
"Exactly," he said, lifting himself off the bed and moving back towards the mirror. "Now let me finish getting ready because Taehyung and Hoseok hyung aren't going to wait for me."
"How're you feeling?" Jimin asked nonchalantly as he threw a red number nine into the pile of cards in the center of their small table. He only had four cards in his hand while Jeongguk still had seven, he could win this.
"Just fine," He answered, brows pinched together in concentration as he threw a card of his own to the pile. "Color blue."
Jimin stared at the cards in his hand, all four of them, none of which were the new designated color. "Why..."
A month had passed since the first failed attempt with Jeongguk at the park and since then things had gotten better and the younger had grown to control his instincts more. It had been a slow process, but gradually Jeongguk didn't shake with strain every time a human was nearby. His face didn't contort in pain and thirst and fear, no tears made their way to his eyes, and he actually managed to maintain a neutral expression.
With the improvement, they started going to the park earlier, Jimin by his side and gripping his arm just in case but he realized after a few successful outings that it wasn't necessary anymore. They could actually come to the park just a little bit after the sun went down and even though there were still plenty of people roaming around them as they played on one of the park's tables Jeongguk was still doing very well.
He barely showed any signs of difficulty - the only visible sign that he was under any amount of strain was the furrow in his brow as he stared at his cards but Jimin was sure that it had more to do with the fact that he was losing than any real struggle to control himself.
Great news in itself, because Jimin could see the slight tint of red that never seemed to go away in his eyes these days. The animal blood was becoming insufficient but luckily he seemed more than ready to go out with him and the others.
"Tomorrow night we'll go out with Taehyung and Hoseok hyung," Jimin said and tried not to smile as he placed another card on the table. "Green and draw four cards."
Jeongguk huffed, scowling as he drew more cards from the deck. He had ten cards now and Jimin could already taste his incoming victory, could already see the pout on Jeongguk's face that would be the cherry on top. "I don't need you telling me to draw four... I know the rules."
"Did you hear what I said?" He said, nudging him underneath the table with his shoe. Jeongguk drew his legs back, eyes flickering towards him only for an instant before focusing on the cards again. Jimin lowered himself in his seat to reach his leg again, hitting it lightly with the tip of his tennis shoe. "Nervous?"
"A little," Jeongguk mumbled, eyes still trained on the cards in his hand.
"Don't be, you'll do fine," he said, sitting upright in his seat and placing his hand over Jeongguk's. "I'll be there and so will Tae and hyung. Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it soon enough."
"I hope so," he said after some time. His eyes fell towards the cards again and soon his almost somber expression cracked into a smile as he threw his next card onto the pile. "Now, blue and draw four."
"Are you okay?" Taehyung asked while they waited in line at the club's entrance. Jeongguk fidgeted between them, eyes trained on the back of the man in front of them and he didn't even seem to acknowledge the other's words.
Jimin nudged him with his shoulder and he started at the touch. "Are you okay?" he echoed and Jeongguk nodded stiffly by his side. For a moment he worried that maybe there were too many people around them, that maybe the younger was overwhelmed, but that didn't seem the case. There was no visible sign of strain - at least not yet - only nerves as Jeongguk shifted from one foot to the other, as one of his hands twirled and twisted a short strand of hair from the back of his neck.
Taehyung and Hoseok talked excitedly among themselves, the music reverberating from the club's open doors already making them bounce on the balls of their feet while they scanned the crowd for potential targets. Normally Jimin would join them - over the years he had come to find this as enjoyable and exhilarating as they did - but tonight he had to admit that he was nervous as well.
He was the one in charge of Jeongguk and he had to make sure everything went smoothly or, at least, that it didn't end up a huge disaster. Seeing the younger jittery and nervous only made him even more aware of everything around him, even more conscious of how many ways tonight could go wrong.
Jimin nudged Jeongguk again. "It's okay, you'll do fine," but the truth was that he was trying to comfort himself more than anything as they neared the entrance and finally entered the club. He tugged Jeongguk along the place, following behind Taehyung and Hoseok as they dove into the crowded space.
Jeongguk slowed him down, however, and Jimin called out to Hoseok as he almost disappeared in the sea of people. He turned around slightly, enough to look at him while still keeping an eye on Taehyung from the corner of his eye.
"What?" he mouthed, body still half turned towards Taehyung's direction.
"I'll stay with Jeongguk, you make sure he doesn't get someone that's too hammered or high, unless you're the one that's going to drag him back home this time."
Hoseok laughed and gave him a thumbs up before going after Taehyung, arms and hips already moving rhythmically to the deafening beat pulsing through the club.
By his side, Jeongguk was tense and his eyes flickered from one place to the other without ever settling on anything longer than a few seconds. Again the thought of him losing control crossed his mind but Jimin was quick to brush it away as he tugged the younger through the crowd towards an empty corner. He was nervous just like he was, that was it.
"Okay, remember all those times we practiced how to bite softly?" Jimin whispered, standing on the tip of his toes so he could reach Jeongguk's ear. "That's what you have to do, approach someone and get them comfortable, get them to like you, get them in the mood so you can manage a bite. Easy, right?"
"Just make sure they're not high or too drunk because -- Jeonggukkie?" Through the incessantly blinking lights Jimin could see the color draining from his face, the panicked expression he wore as his grip on his arm tightened to the point it hurt. "Jeonggukkie? Are you okay?"
He felt himself panic, felt the adrenaline rushing through his veins seeing such a reaction from the younger. Realizing that maybe, possibly his earlier feeling had been right and he was losing control in a place teeming with people. In the middle of a club, of all places, where people were drunk out of their minds and exits were few and inconveniently placed. A disaster waiting to happen and Jimin couldn't believe he would have to handle it all by himself.
He tried to move Jeongguk over to one of the exits but the younger wouldn't budge. Instead, Jeongguk held him in place, grabbing at his shoulders with a vice grip and leaning down until their faces were close enough that Jimin could feel his warm breath, erratic and labored, fanning at his face. "Jeonggukkie?"
"Jimin," he breathed out, throat constricted and dry and his eyes wide like saucers. "Get me out of here."
He looked into his eyes, searched for the telltale signs of thirst - dilated pupils, crimson iris - and found none. His eyes were normal, full of fear and panic and maybe a slight tint of red because the animal blood was losing its effect, but they didn't foretell the disaster his body was suggesting. He grabbed Jeongguk's hand from his shoulder, thread their fingers together, and this time the other obediently followed his lead towards one of the exits and up the stairs out of the club.
Jeongguk's breathing was heavy as he leaned against the wall. He was clutching at his chest, shaking, and his eyes unseeing as they stared out into the distance. He let himself fall to the dirty floor, sitting against the wall and Jimin followed suit, sticking close to his side without really understanding or knowing what was going on and how he could help him.
Jimin felt even worse as the younger continued to breathe painfully hard and loud and he couldn't think of any single way he could help other than placing a hand on his back for comfort. Jeongguk, trembling, reached out for his other hand and held it tightly, counting under his breath and trying to breathe in and out deeply, although his breaths came out shaky. Jimin felt like he should try and do something, anything, but in his panic ended up only rubbing his back awkwardly, unsure whether that was of any use.
"I'm sorry," Jeongguk muttered between light pants some time later, breathing evening out slowly as he continued to inhale and exhale deeply. "I screwed up."
"What happened in there? What was that? Are you okay?" Jimin asked in a hush, then berated himself the moment the words left his lips because he was sure his onslaught of questions did not help the other calm down at all; he wouldn't be surprised if it only made matters worse. To his relief Jeongguk remained calm, squeezing his hand and sighing but not turning to look at him.
"I didn't think that would happen," he muttered, eyes trained on the dirty concrete below them. Jimin waited for him to answer the questions, any of the three, waited in silence for a few minutes but Jeongguk offered no further explanation.
"What happened?" he chanced again once Jeongguk's breathing had evened out. He didn't answer, didn't look at him, and Jimin let his hand travel from the younger's lower back to his shoulder. Repeated his question and this time Jeongguk shifted to look at him from the corner of his eye.
"I don't like dark, cramped spaces or big crowds. I..." He trailed off, eyes falling to the ground again. "I thought I'd be okay by now."
Jimin pat his shoulder. A better outcome than him losing control in the club, maybe, but it was a troublesome outcome nonetheless. It was a problem if he couldn't stand being inside nightclubs since they were one of the perfect environments for them to do what they did. Where else could they get away with sweet talking people until it was acceptable for them to get close to their necks enough to take a bite? Where else could they suck at their necks, softly so they didn't feel more than a slight twinge of pain mixed in with the pleasure, without it being weird or too obvious what they were doing?
This was a problem. Definitely a problem and to make matters worse Jimin saw the hint of red in Jeongguk's eyes as he turned to look at him and reminded himself that they were pressed for time. The animal blood was losing its effect and one of the best means of getting human blood was now discarded.
"Let me try again," Jeongguk said and Jimin stared. "Let's come back tomorrow and see if I can do it."
"No," he sighed, "I don't think it works like that, Jeongguk."
Jeongguk shifted and Jimin let his arm fall back to his side. "I can do it, just --"
"Quit being stubborn, okay? Did you not see how you reacted just a while ago?" It was a little harsh considering the circumstances, considering Jeongguk was probably feeling a lot worse than him right now, but the adrenaline was still rushing through his veins and how much of a problem this was still kept running through his head and souring his mood. He ran a hand through his hair and lowered his voice, tried to soften his tone. "I'll tell Namjoon hyung about this when we get home, he and Yoongi hyung and Seokjin hyung will think of something."
Jeongguk nodded. "I'm sorry, I know this is a problem..."
Jimin wanted to say it wasn't, wanted to lie but he couldn't bring himself to do it. "It's fine, we'll figure something out. Yoongi hyung doesn't do clubbing either. This isn't the only way, but it is the easiest."
Jeongguk perked up somewhat at his words. "How does he feed, then?"
"He hated going out so much he actually went to college and got himself a degree in psychology. Every once in a while he uses hypnosis on one of his patients and ta-dah, dinner," he finished with a chuckle and he wondered if it sounded as forced to Jeongguk as it did to his ears.
"How unethical," Jeongguk said with a quirk of his lips. "That's not really an option for me now, though, is it? It'll take a while for me to get a degree."
"We'll think of something," He said and he knew he didn't have the authority to decide anything, that only Namjoon could make decisions and enforce them in the coven. The few times he asked for counsel were either from Seokjin or Yoongi or both and only the three of them had any real power of decision in the group. Yet still he tried to think of a solution himself, running options through his head and discarding them almost immediately by how impossible they all were, because he was the one responsible for Jeongguk and he felt the weight on his shoulders, especially knowing they didn't have much time before the animal blood became useless.
The way his eyes became a stronger shade of red with each passing day was a constant reminder that the clock was ticking, that they needed to think of something and fast.
"For now," Jimin began, picking himself up and holding out a hand for Jeongguk. "Let's just call it a day and go home."