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siren song

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the thing about jungkook is that he’s a bit of a spacey witch.

it’s not like he can help it. there’s always something new to think about; another spell, another shopping spree for potions, another world to discover. his mind, more often than not, is too full to be paying attention to anything else but runs through the undercurrents of the air. he bumps into things a lot.

it’s a good thing that he’s standing in the corner of taehyung’s shop when he comes back to earth. taehyung is giving him a weird look, waving his hand up and down a couple of inches from jungkook’s face.

when jungkook startles and pushes his hand away, taehyung grins. “ah, so you’re awake! i was getting worried there, for a second.”

“what’s up?” he asks, blinking. turning to the cabinets, jungkook notices that they’re standing in front of the dried ingredients. he shakes his head and reads the labels quickly as taehyung says, “nothin’ - gramma was just gettin’ worried that you were out for the count.”

“oh, i’m fine,” jungkook pulls down two jars, one in each hand. “i was thinkin’ about what i was lookin’ for and then i forgot for a moment and then i remembered again. can i get 10 grams of each?”

“yeah, sure,” taehyung chirps, taking them both in his hands. his nose crinkles. “ah, what do you need dried elk leaves for? you makin’ pep-up or something?”

“something like that,” jungkook follows behind him. taehyung works in his grandmother’s shop of assorted teas and other rare ingredients; it’s name, ironically, is potions, brews, and other things. jungkook smiles at taehyung’s grandma, who is sitting behind the counter in a comfortable chair. she has her silver hair pulled back, eyes light amber when she looks up. a half-finished embroidered handkerchief lies on her lap.

“well, it’s nice to see you again, jungkook-ah,” grandma greets, and jungkook bows. the spark of magic from her is not rough or bright like jungkook’s - it’s smooth, polished, and cool. that’s what age does to magic; the more the years pass by, the stronger the magic gets in one’s blood. jungkook can only hope he will live as long as taehyung’s grandmother.

she has a thick daegu accent that coats her words; taehyung, too, can’t hide his daegu accent, but it’s okay. jungkook is pretty bad at hiding his busan accent, too. “i’m doin’ well, halmeoni.”

“give the boy a bit more, taehyung-ah,” she instructs. “look at how little that is; a witch like him would breeze through it like a horse in an open meadow.”

“yes, grams,” taehyung adds double that to jungkook’s original order, giving him a wink and a knowing smile.

“ah, halmeoni, you know i can’t pay for that,” jungkook rubs the back of his head.

she waves it off. “please. do you know how little witches there are in this big, sprawlin’ city? best take those an’ go home t’ share with that coven a’ yours.”

jungkook nods. “thank you, halmeoni. i’ll give you one my charms, if i can.”

taehyung’s grandma chuckles. “well, that would be lovely. get on, now. kim taehyung, c’mere an’ help your old gramma get up. it’s time for my tea.”

“of course, grams,” taehyung handles two bags - bigger than jungkook came in for - and ties them around the middle with the store’s customary ribbon. “wanna come up for tea, jungkookie?”

“nah,” jungkook takes the bags and gently puts them in his bag; he knows how easily this stuff can rip from previous encounters. “i have to go home and make a caffeine substitute for jimin-hyung. midterms are coming up soon and he’s freaking out.”

“no wonder you’re here, usually you call in beforehand,” taehyung muses. “alright, alright. grams, don’t try to get up by yourself!”

“i ain’t no invalid,” she snaps, and jungkook hides his laughter. with one last wave goodbye, he exits the small store. it’s barely noticeable in between all the other stores around it; a princess cafe above, a record store on the right, a furniture store on the left. it’s got a small opening, covered by various paper charms and windchimes. since it’s spring, the sounds are in full bloom; jungkook closes his eyes and listens to the breeze sing. it’s a familiar tune. he reminds himself to write it down later, in case the wind - capricious as it is - doesn’t want to sing for him again.

the apartment that jungkook shares with his hyung is only a couple of blocks away from where taehyung lives. originally, taehyung and jimin met when jimin came up from busan to study in seoul; they met when jimin was prowling outside the store, trying to understand if it was otherworldly or just another tea shop bust. then two years later, jungkook moved up to seoul himself, waving goodbye to his parents as they grinned at him from their house. his mother had wiggled her fingers and blew a kiss; jungkook heard her sweet voice as the car rolled away.

jimin had brought him in with open arms - they were neighbors, witches, coven - and over the few months that jungkook has lived in their shared apartment in the last few months, they’ve come to a steady routine.

the breeze calms down. jungkook sighs to himself in sadness; the winds in seoul have tempers, fleeting ephemeral emotions. busan is always calm and melodic, pushing and pulling, ringing with the waves of the ocean.

“hyung,” jungkook calls into the empty room, frowning at the closed lights. he opens up the living room light and walks in to see jimin sitting on the floor in front of their low table, hands put together. there are three candles in front of him. “what are you doing?”

“i didn’t finish my project at all,” jimin sniffs, finally putting his hands down and turning to face jungkook. “it’s due in two days. i’m praying to the spirits to give me otherworldly awareness.”

“so you can pull off two all-nighters?”

“exactly.” jimin unfolds himself and winces, stretching out his legs. “ow, god, i’ve been sitting here too long.”

jungkook’s voice is faint as he’s setting down his bag in the kitchen. “ever think that you might have gotten more done if you just spent that time actually working on your project?”

jimin heads to the kitchen, whining, “it was supposed to take a couple of minutes, but the spirits were being really rude.” jungkook shoots him an amused smile, carefully setting the bags on the counter. “wh - are you making me pep-up?”

“a little bit stronger than that,” jungkook admits. “it’s something new i thought about trying - if the spirits don’t answer you, you can use this to pull off your all nighter.”

jimin squeals - actually squeals. jungkook ‘oomph’s from the force of jimin’s hug. they’re swaying side to side, and jungkook has to hold onto the counter to gain his balance. “you’re the best,” he says dramatically. “literally the best!

“yeah, yeah, i know,” jungkook brushes him off, trying to get rid of jimin’s overly affectionate self from his person. “now get off, i have to start. you should go do to do your project; text me and i’ll drop it off. coffee, milk, two sugars, right?”

“yes, yes, all that,” jimin babbles. he’s already backing away, fingers running through his bright orange hair. he had done that with magic, and boy what an experience that was. “okay, okay, i’m leaving, i’m - i owe you one, jeon jungkook!”

jungkook snorts. jimin owes him more than just one. the count of how much jimin owes him in favors, however, is too long, starting from all the way back in middle school.

he starts with the leaves, taking approximately five of them and setting them aside. he still has a good few left if there’s a mistake, thanks to halmeoni. jungkook’s done this potion so many times that it’s become something of a second nature to him. one; to get through college himself, and two; to get jimin through all his exams and/or other important due dates that he tends to leave off until the last minute. it’s also something to keep the feeling of joy lingering longer in the heart. hey - if real happiness doesn’t cut it, then there’s nothing wrong with something a little brewed up.

he sets aside two to be crushed, and then leaves the other three as is. jungkook leans down to get the medium sized cauldron that his mom sent over during december, when jungkook got tired of mixing potions in a steel pot (it just wasn’t the same). he heats up the cauldron over the stove (which, thank god, comes with an oven - their washing machine is in the utility closet. jungkook doesn’t know how he would survive with one of those portable stoves on top of a machine) and gets out his best knife.

times like these are when he’s the most focused. he thinly slices the leaves and gets out a couple of other things in the cabinets above. jimin has a tendency to put stuff in one jar into another; jungkook absolutely hates that, especially after the goo incident where two things that were not supposed to ever touch each other accidentally did. jungkook labels the jars now; if jimin can’t keep the rest of the apartment clean, the least he can do is keep the ingredients in their right jars.

because of their cabinet being full, all their food is in a separate cupboard that’s stuffed to the brim with foodstuffs. the fridge and the space on top of the fridge is where everything else resides. jungkook thinks it’s cozy.

one by one, he drops everything in the cauldron at their appropriate time, humming underneath his breath. it’s just a mindless hum, with no set tune or rhythm, but he grins when the potion - before, a silvery and foggy liquid - turns into a deep cocoa color. that might have been due to the small amount of cocoa powder he put in for taste, but jungkook is sure that jimin won’t mind.

it gets hot by the time he’s done with putting everything in. the cauldron is scalding to touch. jungkook rolls up the sleeves of his white shirt and clips back his bangs so that they won’t get into his eyes. that way, no spare hairs will fall into the potion, either - that would be half a goddamn disaster.

he starts the coffeemaker and his nose wrinkles at the smell. jungkook doesn’t like coffee, not unless it’s in coffee cake or other pastries. coffee-flavored mochi. coffee-flavored bubble tea. coffee-flavored sweets. but coffee itself? no thanks. jimin swears that the spirits themselves would chug it down if they could, and he practically lives by it. “wait until you get to your third year,” he swore once, downing half a cup.

however, jimin prefers it when jungkook makes his coffee for him. he rarely, if ever, will go into the kitchen to cook anything other than ramen, instant meals, breakfast, and sandwiches. everything else is out of his domain, he argues. jungkook shakes his head but leaves it be; jimin does make a mean sandwich, after all.

jungkook checks the consistency of the potion, peering down into the bowl. he turns off the heat and steam rises from the potion’s bubbling surface. it looks thick and heavy. jungkook blows on his pointer finger gently until the tip glows; then he dips his finger in the boiling surface, only feeling a pleasantly warm sensation. when he pulls it out, the liquid is thick and viscous; just the right texture. when he gives it an experimental taste, it has a slight kick that tastes like peppermint and then a chocolate-y aftertaste.

smirking in victory, he takes a picture on his phone and texts taehyung, should i bring some over for you too?

is that blood stew? taehyung replies back when jungkook is taking the coffee pot out. like, with actual human blood? it looks like it. or is that the lighting?

i told you, it’s pep-up, jungkook texts. he can’t do a couple of things at once just by hand, so he waves a finger toward the coffee pot. the cabinet underneath opens slightly, two coffee cups floating out and settling themselves on the table. the white one is jungkook’s, while the purple one is jimin’s. they’re both a good, tall height, enough for a coffee addict like jimin to survive on throughout the day. jungkook uses his for water or juice or milkshakes. it’s...usually milkshakes.

yeah, send some over if you can, i have exams too TT i was gonna ask u but then i thought it might have been rude lmao

you could ask ur grandma to make u one, jungkook types, amused. the coffee pot pours hot liquid halfway through both mugs before settling itself down. the milk carton that jungkook had set out earlier moves and pours just the right amount.

oh my god, grams would make it old-school, taehyung says. jungkook can see his look of horror from here. do you know what that tastes like? spicy hell

it’s not that bad!!

YEAH WELL, i’d rather have the choclate-y goodness that your stuff tastes like. everything u make is like something out of a bakery lmao what is this sorcery

taehyung: lololol get it, sorcery?? :D

jungkook snorts. two spoons of sugar settle themselves in each mug.

ur being overdramatic

am i, jungkook. am i. gotta go, grams is asking me to rub her back~ (emoticon)

jungkook closes his phone and wipes the sweat on his brow. all that’s left is to put the potion in and mix everything together. he does so by getting out the ladle and spooning it slowly until the tops of each cup is filled; next time, he’s using a thermos. when there’s a little bit left in the cauldron, he taps the side of the pot with a wordless enchantment to keep warm until he comes back to it later. he closes up the coffee cups and shakes them both vigorously, feeling warmth spread through his fingers.

jungkook packs them in his bag and texts jimin for his address. he gets out an ice-cream bar from the fridge, opening it up to nibble on the chocolate coating when jimin answers.

screenshotting the room and building numbers, he heads out for the university.

/

there is a lot of noise coming from the recording room. jungkook wonders if he should go in; he’s bought a couple of croissants from the bakery next door to give to jimin - it’s nearing noon, and he’s sure jimin probably hasn’t eaten anything yet - but maybe he should have bought more? jungkook shrugs and knocks on the door anyway.

jimin is the one that opens it, practically throwing it open with a bang. under the dim studio lights, the shadows underneath his eyes look more pronounced. “oh my god you’re here bless you.” and he hugs jungkook again, nearly knocking them both over.

“ow, hyung,” jungkook replies, muffled in jimin’s shoulder. “okay, okay, get off now - i need to breathe, hyung.”

“anything for the love of my life,” jimin croons, moving back.

“is this the elusive 'tae', then?” a deep voice asks from the other side of the room.

no,” jimin snaps, face flushing, at the same time someone else with a raspy tenor responds, “tae and jiminie are the same age, remember?”

“i meant,” jimin sniffs, tugging jungkook into the room, “the coffee that jungkookie is carrying in his bag. it’s the stuff made of gods.”

“really,” the raspy one says again. he has short cropped blue-green hair that somehow works with his skin tone. when jungkook meets his eyes, his smile comes with dimples. the other guy is sitting faced toward the pc desktop, light playing on the angles of his jaw. his light-colored hair is tucked into a cap.

“really, hyung!” jimin affirms. “okay, okay - this is my precious little dongsaeng, jeon jungkook. he’s my roommate.” jimin pinches his cheek; jungkook waits through it sufferingly. “jungkookie, these are my hyungs and sunbaes - kim namjoon and min yoongi.”

“hey, kid,” namjoon raises an awkward hand. the other guy, yoongi, turns around to face them and nods briefly.

“hi,” jungkook says, and it hangs in the air awkwardly. “ah, jimin-hyung - “

“can’t believe this shit is a hyung,” yoongi comments, smirking in jimin’s direction. jimin, appropriately, argues with, “i’m kookie’s favorite hyung, excuse you!”

“jimin-hyung,” jungkook starts again. “i brought you food.” he hands jimin the warm, crisp packets of croissants and then reaches into his bags for the coffee cups. “ah, i didn’t bring any extra cups...” he knew he forgot something.

“it’s alright, we have it in the back,” jimin tells him absentmindedly. he takes the purple one and drinks from it in one big gulp, sighing in pleasure as he closes it again. “yeah, that’s the good stuff. nobody makes coffee better than you, jungkook.”

“i’m sure there’s someone,” jungkook says as he hands the other container to namjoon, who had gotten up to pour it in two cups he brought out from the back.

“ah, sorry, i’ll get a cup for you too, jungkook-ssi - “

“it’s okay, i don’t drink coffee,” jungkook cuts in.

“how does someone who doesn’t drink coffee make the best coffee in the world?”

“magic,” jimin retorts the same time jungkook murmurs the words softly. they share a knowing look and jungkook smiles a little.

“holy shit,” namjoon says after he’s taken a sip, “this is amazing. what the hell.” he’s looking down into his cup like there’s gold buried at the bottom.

yoongi, the only one who hasn’t moved yet, leans over to get the other cup. jungkook pushes jimin and chides, “don’t drink it all so fast, jimin.”

“it’s hyung, you brat,” jimin mutters, pinching his cheek in return.

jungkook crinkles his nose and leans in, “they know you have a crush on tae-hyung?”

“i do not have a crush on him!

unfortunately for jimin, he says this a little too loudly, and everyone else just gives him a variety of looks; judgmental from yoongi, knowing from namjoon, exasperated from jungkook. then, as namjoon is pouring himself another cup, yoongi says, “what the fuck.”

“right,” namjoon nods his head. “it’s like - whoa.”

“nice words there, hyung,” jimin says from his corner where he’s cuddled up on the couch, hugging his coffee mug close to his chest. jungkook can already see a healthy flush take across his face, dark circles underneath his eyes fading. it makes a little smile steal it’s way onto jungkook’s features; he’s finally gotten all the proportions right.

“are you a barista or something, who even makes coffee like this,” yoongi says incredulously. he blinks at jungkook like he can’t believe that the younger exists. jungkook shrugs.

“i gotta go, jimin-hyung,” he waves to the others, “nice to meet you!”

/

jimin has a crush on taehyung, no matter how much he tries to deny it. it was one of those things that grew slowly, underneath his collarbone and inside his ribs, until the day comes that whenever jimin walks into that store, greenery begins to bloom. the floorboards crack open, splintering quietly under the weight of jimin’s affection, stems shooting up from beneath the cold, lifeless ground. he stands there, motionless, face devoid of all color as a small purple flower emerges from beneath the shyly growing shoot.

taehyung is left staring after his back with a look similar to a kicked puppy. he holds two pieces of paper in his hands and nearly crumples them before turning around wordlessly and walking up the stairs to the actual housing part of the building. taehyung’s grandma is the one who sees the shoots in the ground. she takes one look at it and then quietly breathes, “oh.”

“i - i - “ jimin lets go of jungkook’s hand to disappear the other way. wherever he steps, purple blossoms curl open like they’re soaking in the sun’s light. jungkook stares down at them in wonder, and then in realization.

“it’s lucky for him,” taehyung’s grandma says. she waves her hand and the flowers began to disappear, the entire row of them from outside the door to the very first one that grew underneath jimin’s feet. “that he fell in love with someone who already knows about this life.”

halmeoni?” jungkook queries.

“it’s hard,” she murmurs, looking down at her embroidery, “when you fall for someone who ain’t got a clue about the whispers and the spirits. they never understand - they say they do, but when time comes to it, it becomes too much.” her thin lips purse together. her knarly hands work on the embroidery again, a beautiful purple iris on black cloth. “that’s what happened t’ my husband. to taehyung’s father. ran away like fools,” she sneers, but it’s so sad, her eyes are so sad.

jungkook reaches down and plucks the bloom out of the ground. he keeps it in his book, pressed against the pages.

“he’s lucky that he fell in love with my grandson,” she continues, “because while he may also be a fool, he’s a fool with an open heart.” she goes back to her iris. the purple looks like it might bleed against the black.

jungkook doesn’t ask questions when he finds jimin at home, sitting in his room. the corner he’s in is like the entrance to a grove; vines have grown from the floor, breaking out of the plaster in the walls, curling around jimin. purple blossoms like the one jungkook has pressed in his book covers his orange haired hyung who is staring down at them in listlessness.

“they’re irises,” he says miserably. “taehyung told me about this book signing and he asked me to go with him and - it just - i didn’t mean it.”

“at least he knows about magic,” jungkook says, opening his book and handing jimin the pressed flower. his face is shiny with tears. jungkook doesn’t know what to do, how to help his hyung who is his blood brother. jungkook sits down, cross legged, on the floor. he reaches out to touch a flower, and it closes within itself in a blink.

“i don’t know how i can call myself a witch, losing control of my magic like that,” jimin sniffs, despite the fact that they both know this is only one of the many things that happens. “my dad had hydrangeas grow. everywhere he went, that’s all that grew.”

“my mom tripped over a rose bush,” jungkook tells him in secret. “she got scratches all down her legs. she still holds a grudge against my dad for that, honestly.”

jimin chuckles. he wipes his face on his arm. “i feel like a dumbass.”

“just because taehyung himself isn’t magic doesn’t mean he’s afraid,” jungkook says quietly. “in fact, i think he loves it more because of it - knowing that he’ll never have the ability to do the things we can, but learning about it anyway because it fascinates him. how could he ever - “

“it’s so hard to find those people,” jimin cuts in, breathing harshly. “there’s a reason why we’re a secret, yeah? why all of us have to live in hiding. why all the other creatures have to live in hiding. people are afraid, but i - i have never been more scared in my life of a human. and i know - i know he doesn’t care, because his grandmother is a witch and it’s in his blood but - i guess it’s just half relief and half fear. relief, because he knows, and he’s not scared of me or what i am.”

“scared, because?” jungkook prods.

jimin bites his lip, picking off a flower and settling it behind jungkook’s ear. “i’m scared because - what if he gets to know me and - and what if it’s not the magic that scares him off? what if it’s me?

there are many years of jimin’s life that taehyung still doesn’t know about. so many facets of his personality that has never breached the surface with just slow words and syrupy evenings in the store. taehyung may know a lot but he doesn’t know everything. jungkook hears this in the way jimin sniffles, the way he breathes, all the unknown words he doesn’t know how to say. jimin stretches his legs and jungkook can’t help but think how everything changes in such a small moment.

“i don’t know how to make you feel better,” jungkook tells him, putting a hand on jimin’s shoulder.

the orange-haired male smiles. “yeah, you do.”

they can hear it in each other. jungkook knows this fear, suddenly, like it’s tugging at him too at the bottom of his stomach; the fear that someone might not like him just because he is who he is. there are so many things about him that aren’t - aren’t likeable, he’s too loud and he’s too persistent and he always speaks before he thinks -

jungkook shakes his head; these aren’t his thoughts. jimin is leaking his feelings all over the place again. “hyung, i get it, i do.”

jimin tugs at the vines. “they won’t go away.”

the younger of them two shrugs. and pulls his hand away. “i’m going to get you a drink. don’t try to get rid of them. tell taehyung-hyung that you’d love to go with him.”

“what?”

“to the date,” jungkook shakes his head. “he’s been trying to ask you out for the last two weeks, how could you not know?” jungkook thinks back to the text conversation they had this morning, when taehyung showed him the tickets and asked for a pep talk. jungkook had given it to him to the best of his ability.

when taehyung asked today, jimin stood frozen, flowers growing under the heel of his feet before he ran away. taehyung hadn’t even noticed, so bummed that he ran to the back of the room. that’s when his grandma began to speak.

“oh,” jimin says, looking toward his phone. jungkook quietly leaves.

/

jimin is his chipper, cheery self when jungkook sees him next - that is, above jungkook’s face as he’s jerked awake from his dreamless sleep. he’s on the couch, there’s a crick in his neck, and jimin is fucking glowing with happiness.

“i’m sleeping,” he groans.

“sorry, sorry,” jimin beams. “just - thank you!” he leans forward and presses a kiss against jungkook’s forehead. “me and tae are going on a - on a date!! oh, fuck, there’s another one - okay, a date as soon as i figure out how to stop these flowers from - “

jungkook sighs and covers his head with a pillow. it smells like incense and puts him right back to sleep.

/

the thing about jimin and taehyung dating is that it brings it’s own set of complications.

it’s not like jungkook doesn’t like them together - he does. both of them are happier around each other. they give each other fond looks over the table, try to link hands beneath their coats, smile with apple-stained cheeks. jungkook does have to deal with everything that is left behind when love moves in.

while jungkook is spacey, jimin is forgetful. sometimes he leaves the stove on, steel pot bubbling with whatever potion he was focused on before taehyung texts him. sometimes he doesn’t do his share of the housework. he leaves the bathroom door open when he knows jungkook hates it and jimin’s always closed it before. he doesn’t go to class all the time. there are irises blooming all over the place; jungkook uses his magic to stem their growth, but they simply climb over the walls without a care. yesterday, a girl had pointed out that he had purple petals in his hair.

but jimin is happy. god, he’s so happy.

plus, now they get discounts. halmeoni is keen to teach jimin everything she knows about magic, and often, jimin will come home to ramble about it to jungkook and then ramble about taehyung to jungkook and then ramble about everything to jungkook.

it happens, one day, as jungkook is changing the window curtains - it’s may, after all, the time for summer to start, no room for old energy to be wafting around - that someone rings the doorbell.

he freezes. jimin wouldn’t ring the doorbell. taehyung always knocks three times before ringing it. no one else ever visits them; silent charms are what keeps the neighbors out. to the people around them, they’re always quiet as church mice.

he looks around the living room; colorful throw pillows embroidered in silk, red afghans on the couch, trinkets all along the shelf spaces, open texts and leather bound books - one of them jungkook’s own spellbook - the beaded curtains over their doors and the incense pots, the genie bottles and glass bottles and crystal bottles. jungkook closes all the books and shoves them into a corner, yelling out, “coming!”

there’s nothing he can do. if he waits anymore, it’ll be too obvious. he tries to wave away the irises on the ceiling, but they refuse to move. jungkook winces and then realizes one important thing: he’s magic.

waving his hands; the living room starts to make noise as one thing bumps into the other. there’s no time to dust anything; the curtains right themselves, the books are put in their proper place, the pillows line up on the couch. their rug - a persian rug, with deep, rich colors - fits right in with their colorful living room.

jungkook opens the door a smidgen and peeks outside. he catches a glimpse of light colored hair and a semi-familiar face. “ah, hello?”

“hi,” min yoongi responds, and jungkook pats himself on the back for remembering the name. “i’m here to pick up the work?”

“the...work?” jungkook opens the door a little bit more, so he can see min yoongi face to face. he hides a hand behind him and makes a sharp motion so that everything stops moving.

yoongi, for his part, looks unamused. there are circles underneath his eyes, and he looks fatigued. “yeah, the work that jimin did for his part of the project. he said he told you where it was, and that all i had to do was ask you.”

“uh,” jungkook flusters, racking his memory for such a thing, “no - no, sorry, he didn’t tell me.”

yoongi looks like he’s at a point where he’s ready to yell at someone; jungkook winces and automatically begins to close the door to protect himself from the oncoming temper tantrum, but yoongi only takes a deep breath in and exhales through his nose. he closes his eyes in frustration once before opening them. “dammit, i should have known. he’s been so fucking...”

“out of it?” jungkook offers. “since he started dating?”

yoongi chuckles humorlessly. “yeah, that.” he peers past jungkook. “guess i shouldn’t be complaining - you would know more about it, being his roommate, huh?”

jungkook shrugs. “i grew up with jimin hyung. he’s always like this when he finds someone he likes.” but this time, it’s more, he thinks to himself, the irises in jimin’s room growing steadily throughout their apartment. “i’m - i’m sorry, yoongi-ssi.”

“nah, it’s fine,” yoongi says, looking down immediately at his phone. jungkook is about to close the door, because it’s obvious that the conversation is pretty much over, but something about the slump of this man’s shoulders makes him pause. he just looks...so tired.

“why don’t you come in?” he finds himself blurting. yoongi looks up, eyebrow cocked. “ah...i can text him, and then look for it. no need to go and then come back, right? i have coffee.”

it’s the last part that makes yoongi consider. he pauses for a moment and then transparently says, “alright, i suppose i could wait for a couple of minutes.”

jungkook smiles and holds the door open wider. it’s only when yoongi is inside and the mess of color and antiquity reaches jungkook’s eyes that he forgets that this isn’t what a college student’s apartment typically looks like. or...what any apartment typically looks like.

“ah,” jungkook freezes, hand on the doorknob, head racing with things, but yoongi just shrugs and says, “not my style, but neat. is this stuff yours or jimin’s?”

jungkook feels some sort of tension drop from his shoulders. “it’s - both of ours. um, do you want to sit in the living room, or - i’ll just be a minute.”

“alright,” yoongi seems to notice jungkook’s tenseness and attempts to give him a reassuring look, but jungkook speeds away to the kitchen without a backward glance. yoongi rubs a palm over his face and takes a seat on the sofa, which is - admittedly - very comfortable.

jungkook just makes coffee as he usually does, taking out a little stopped vial from the cabinet. it’s the last from his batch last week, but now that he has the recipe down pat, he can make more. jungkook pours it all slowly in yoongi’s cup of coffee, also bothering to bring out a plate of the strawberry jam bread jimin asked him to make this week. it’s still warm and nice, having been kept in their enchanted bread basket, so he sets a couple of pieces on a plate along with a saucer of milk, some sugar in a cup, a small spoon, and a couple of fruits in a bowl.

“here,” he sets them down on the table in front of yoongi, wiping his hands on the back of his thighs. yoongi was looking at his phone before; when jungkook finally came in, he looked up from the screen.

“ah, hey, you didn’t need to do all that,” yoongi says; his embarrassment tints the air a little pink. jungkook smiles because he can see it, clear as day.

“it’s okay, you look like you need the break,” he replies truthfully. “i’m going to call jimin-hyung, i’ll just be a minute. help yourself.”

jungkook heads to jimin’s bedroom, sitting down on the unmade bed there. jimin’s chosen to use a warm green coverlet that only enhances the almost natural glow in his room. from the corner where the irises have grown at first is a whole bushel of them, growing all over the place. jimin’s put a little mini waterfall there with blinking, fake candlelights, and jungkook just sighs. fairy lights are hung up over the walls; there is a wall filled with polaroid pictures. half of them are of jungkook and jimin; a couple of them in a new corner have taehyung’s silly face in them. despite himself, jungkook smiles. the phone rings, and jungkook waits for jimin to pick up.

hello?”

“hello, hyung?” jungkook moves away and leans against the door. “hyung, you should have told me that your sunbae would come over to pick something up; he thought i knew where it was.”

oh, shit,” jimin says, the knowledge just coming upon him. “listen, i meant to tell you, but - “

“it’s okay, really, just tell me where it is now, please? he’s over here and he looks really tired.”

yeah, yoongi hyung is going through some shit,” jimin murmurs. “i’m not sure what it is, but he’s been really stressed recently. anyway, i put it in my second drawer. it should be a cd that says ‘pro 1’. that’s it, really; tell hyung that he can text me if he needs anything else.

“okay,” jungkook is already looking through the drawer; he finds the cd right away. “by the way, hyung, are you coming back for dinner?”

a guilty pause. “i mean - i don’t know. taehyung’s grandma asked me to stay for dinner, said she wanted to talk to me. is it alright if - “

“yeah, hyung, it’s fine,” jungkook interrupts, putting the cd in front of yoongi’s face. the light-haired man was halfway through his second bread, looking guilty at the crumbs on his hands. he wipes them on a towel that jungkook hands him silently. “i mean, it was just - “

shit, i promised to make dinner tonight, didn’t i?” jungkook supposes that if he tries hard enough, he can imagine jimin biting his lip. “i’m so sorry, jungkook - i’m going to cancel right now, i -

“no, no, it’s obviously important,” jungkook rushes. “listen, we always have dinner every week anyway, it’s fine. stay over at taehyung’s, don’t come back or else.

yeah, but all those times you made dinner, it’s my job as a hyung to- “

“i’m serious, hyung,” jungkook rolls his eyes, flicking a leaf on the wall, turned away from yoongi, “just - it’s fine, really. i’ll personally drag you there myself if i see you here, alright?”

....okay,” jimin finally says hesitantly. “ah, tell yoongi hyung i’m sorry for making him wait.”

“will do,” jungkook thumbs a flower. “goodnight, hyung.”

night, kookie. love you.”

“yeah,” jungkook says, before the line disconnects.

the air is really still, really quiet, and jungkook doesn’t want to be upset. he just changed the curtains - the energy shouldn’t be so off.

“hey,” yoongi says from behind him, “this is really fucking good.” he’s pointing to the strawberry jam bread. jungkook moves away from the wall and scratches the back of his neck. yoongi has crumbs on his hands and he wipes away the rest of his mouth; his coffee is already done. jungkook checks how he’s looking - already he looks more well-rested, the shadows disappearing from his face.

“thanks, i’m glad you like it,” jungkook smiles. “well, sorry you had to hear that.”

“we all have our bad days, right?” yoongi shifts. “by the way, i think i’m - sitting on something, sorry, this couch goes on for fucking miles, it feels like i’m sitting on a bean bag - here.” he takes out, to jungkook’s heart stopping realization, his spellbook.

jungkook tries not to feel too anxious when he takes the book back, but he knows he’s this close to snatching it out of the other’s hands. “thank you so much,” he says, hiding it behind him. “i didn’t realize i had...put it there. usually no one sits on the sofa.”

yoongi raises an eyebrow, and mercifully, he lets the odd behavior go. “where do you sit, then?”

“usually on the floor. it’s closer to the earth.”

“i mean, you live on the fifth floor,” yoongi points out. his eyes gaze over to the living, breathing ivory walls, jimin’s affection sprawling and beating over the upholstery. “makes sense if you guys are nature hippies...i didn’t think jimin was the type. those are pretty, though.”

“jimin grew those,” jungkook admits, even though he feels like he should have sucked it up and said he grew them instead. “all of them. he’s been...growing a lot of them nowadays.”

“that so,” yoongi remarks. he coughs, wiping his hands off on the towel, before turning the cd around in his hands. “at least he finally finished this. i’ve been awake far too long nowadays, it feels like i haven’t slept in years,” he goes on conversationally. despite that, he looks less tired already. his face is brighter and jungkook can clearly see the dark brown of his eyes. yoongi is relaxed, practically melting on their couch. “but really, it’s just been a little bit of stress.”

it looks like this sunbae is also very talkative when he’s better rested. jungkook hides his smile and picks up the tray to put it back into the kitchen. “jimin-hyung told me that you seemed to be under a lot of stress recently.”

he goes to the kitchen and comes back; yoongi is looking up at him when he does, eyes clear. “yeah, that’s...i’ve been snappier than usual, recently. namjoon kicked me out of my chair after i snapped at him. about damn killed him for it, too,” yoongi chuckles. “but i guess i deserved it. it’s just some shitty family stress. nothin’ to worry about, but those fools worry anyway, and it just gets me more stressed.”

jungkook recognizes those curling words, all of a sudden. his accent is very faint, almost nonexistent - jungkook wouldn’t have realized it if it weren’t for his slight drawl on a single word. blinking, the younger asks, “are you from daegu?”

yoongi raises an eyebrow. “wow, got it in one. guess i slipped a little, huh?”

the corners of jungkook’s mouth pulls up. “jimin-hyung’s boyfriend, taehyung, is from daegu, and he has a much thicker accent.”

“almost as thick as yours?” yoongi asks, leaning back with his arms crossed. he’s got a smirk on his face. “i could hear that busan dialect from the first word you said.”

frowning, jungkook huffs, “i’ve been practicing, okay - “

“you still got that little,” yoongi leans forward and pinches his fingers together as a show of how much, “that little twang. it’s cute, don’t worry.”

“no, now i have to practice more - “

yoongi laughs, and it’s a deep, pleasant sound. “listen, i don’t think you’d go far. you slip into dialect sometimes when you’re not paying attention - did it earlier with jimin.”

jungkook touches his mouth; did he really?

yoongi clears his throat all of a sudden. “anyways,” he starts, running a hand through his hair - is it silver or blonde? “i gotta go back to the studio. thanks for all this, and for the cd. i would’ve killed park jimin otherwise.”

“glad you’re feeling better, yoongi-ssi,” jungkook replies genially. when yoongi isn’t as cranky or stressed, he’s a pretty nice guy to talk to.

yoongi pauses. he looks surprised, like he’s just realized something important. “you - yeah, i am feeling better, surprisingly. damn. guess i really needed to take a break.” he gives jungkook an unreadable look after that, almost like he’s trying to pull something out of jungkook’s expression. eventually he says, “give me your phone.”

jungkook hands it over reluctantly, but all yoongi does is program his own number in there. after a moment, he gives it back with a new number saved under yoongi-hyung. jungkook looks up.

“i don’t like being called yoongi-ssi all that much,” he reveals. “just call me hyung. see you around.”

as he’s walking out the door, seeing himself out, jungkook gathers up the loudest voice he can muster and says, “see you around, hyung!”

he catches a glimpse of yoongi’s smile as the door closes.

/

jimin makes it up by dragging jungkook along to a samgyeopsal restaurant and assuring jungkook that he will pay for everything, even the drinks, even seconds. jungkook snorts and says, “what about thirds?”

“where the hell are you gonna keep it, huh,” jimin demands, looking down at his stomach.

“i could always magic my way - “

“i’m not made of money, you little shit,” jimin swears, reaching over to ruffle jungkook’s hair in annoyance. there’s around a two to three centimeter height difference between them, but jimin has practice in doing so. he reaches for jungkook’s ear and tugs on it. “c’mon, there’s a free table in the corner.”

“all the way in the corner?”

jimin crinkles his nose. “i’m feeling uncomfortable with open spaces nowadays.”

“huh,” jungkook settles himself in the seat across from the window. “did you drink something you weren’t supposed to again?”

“i haven’t made any new potions or spells, nothing like that,” jimin frowns. the place is a little bit full, so jimin waves his fingers in seemingly harmless motions, like he’s got a little finger tic. jungkook recognizes it for what it is; he taps his fingers on the counter and joins jimin in his weaving of magic, threading a privacy spell over their table. right after the comfortable blanket of magic washes over them - the familiar feeling of a heaviness on his shoulders - jimin reaches a hand out and motions for a waiter’s attention.

after they say their order, jungkook admits, “i’ve been trying to cut down the flowers in our apartment, but they keep growing. what’s wrong, hyung?”

jimin grimaces. “i don’t know why they’re not stopping,” he says. “i’ve - i’m already with taehyung, right, we’re dating and...i just don’t understand. something is happening and i just - “ jimin frowns, biting his bottom lip. he looks more worried than jungkook has seen him in ages. “it feels like something is wrong. i don’t even know why flowers grow when a witch falls in love, anyway,” he mutters the last sentence.

they both pause as the waiter brings over a tray of meat and banchan. neither are up to drinking, so they pass on the alcoholic drinks. the grill is started up, vegetables and onions put on first to grill slowly. “i can look it up, i’m sure it’s in one of the books somewhere,” jungkook suggests. “i’ve been having a slow time in school recently, too. i don’t mind.”

“you just hate the flowers because they won’t respond to you, don’t you,” jimin says dryly.

“i’m sneezing all the time,” jungkook doggedly argues. “i tried cutting them manually, charming, hexing, using a spell..nothing works, it’s so annoying.”

jimin snickers.

“hyung, i’m serious! yesterday i woke up and there was an iris tickling my nose, that’s how far it grew. i couldn’t cut it so i had to redirect the growth back to your room. this is getting kind of ridiculous.”

jimin sobers up a little. “i’m sorry. ‘m trying to stop it from going out of bounds, too; i just have no idea on how to control it. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

“yeah, well,” jungkook shifts while he makes a wrap for himself with the first finished pieces of meat, “i hope i don’t ever fall in love.”

“i wonder what kind of flowers you’ll get,” jimin muses. jungkook aggressively stuffs the wrap in his mouth, making his cheeks inflate. “aigoo, how cute. didn’t your mom get roses?”

jungkook nods, chewing before swallowing to answer. “yeah; she never let my dad go for that one, because she got scratched against the thorns continuously whenever they would grow.” it’s one of their most precious family stories, one that’s passed around every holiday and every family gathering. his mom would tell it with her usual dramatic and tittering self, and his dad would chuckle and mention how is it my fault if it’s your flowers that grow?

because they were your favorite, she always shot back.

“so,” jimin begins, “yoongi-hyung saw our room.”

jungkook blinks, remembering the encounter. “ah, yeah, he did.”

“he mentioned it to me,” the elder continues. “i think he was a little weirded out or a little impressed. or both.”

“i didn’t know there was going to be people coming over, or else i would have cleaned up faster,” jungkook gives jimin a baleful look. “as it was, magic had to do.”

jimin grins sheepishly. “right, right, uh - are you doing anything? making any garlands for the summer season? i think i might make one out of irises and give them to halmeoni. she likes irises.” he abruptly changes the subject, knowing that it was his fault before.

jungkook gets a sudden image of a work that taehyung’s grandmother was working on a couple of days ago; the black cloth with a bleeding purple flower. an iris. he continues to chew and keeps it to himself. for some reason, the memory settles in him as something uneasy. shifting in his seat to physically get rid of the feeling of unease, jungkook absentmindedly draws a rune on the table.

jimin notices it, of course, with curious eyes and a mouthful of food. “is that protection?” he asks, swallowing when jungkook gives him a disgusted glance. “what? is it? i can’t read it upside down.”

“it’s protection, yeah,” he responds. “i said i would make halmeoni and taehyung-hyung charms sometime. i think i should get on that.”

“oh?”

“something in the air feels weird, all of a sudden,” jungkook reveals. his stomach begins to turn the tiniest bit. “i don’t know what it is, but it’s - kind of overbearing.”

the thing about jimin is that he rarely ever goes against jungkook’s gut feelings. they’re part of the same coven; they’ve shared blood, secrets, magic. while jimin is good at physical spells and elements, jungkook is good at the senses. they’re siren witches, using their voices to cement spells into the very fabric of the air, listening to the voices of the earth as she cries out in the night. jungkook hears more; jimin responds more. it’s the way their tiny, two-witch coven works. and it works well.

“i’ll make some charms too, then, against fire and stuff,” jimin adds. “i’ll need to go back to the store.”

jungkook nods. “i’ll look up about the flower thing for you, hyung. it may be common knowledge, but i still think there’s some things that we’re missing.” the rate at which jimin’s irises are growing in their room is unprecedented. there’s usually a couple of vines and sometimes a trail of them wherever a witch steps, but soon the magic of love calms down in their bones and it all settles, disappearing into dust. not jimin’s - it’s like the more settled he gets in his relationship, the wilder they grow.

/

jungkook, unfortunately, doesn’t have any books on these things. they’re typical things most witches are aware of, knowledge passed down by oral tradition. he looks through all the books they’ve hoarded throughout the years, running his fingers over each inky page and scroll, but none of them have what he’s looking for. in the meanwhile, he manages to clean up the living room and put everything back in their proper place, including the stuff in the bookshelves. scrolls on one end, books on the other, loosely bound manuscripts in a pile on the lower ledges. his fingers smell of ink and vanilla when he’s done. he also gets a refresher in things such as runes, hexes, and charms - which is kind of helpful, jungkook has been getting foggy - but nothing, nothing about the natural characteristics of a witch that come with birth.

in fact, most of their books are either that of instruction or history, nothing of science or theology. those were things that he and jimin learned extensively and comprehensively as children, so they didn’t think it was pertinent to bring along that knowledge with them to seoul. he’s sure that in his home in busan, his mom still has all those beginner books and scrolls she made him and jimin practice their calligraphy on.

jungkook mulls over calling her, but figures that it would be a moot point. his mother would get too interested, and then she’d come up to seoul herself. having a woman like his mom around would be simultaneously wonderful and awful - wonderful, because she’s powerful and knowledgeable, and awful because she’s so nosy. jungkook throws up a prayer that she doesn’t hear this thoughts in the wind, and then puts on his jacket.

the second place he goes to when he needs to think and find answers is the library. well - the second place is usually taehyung’s shop, but he has another uneasy feeling at the thought. it makes his stomach roll in nervousness when he thinks about mentioning this to taehyung’s grandmother. her eyes, sharp as glass, looking through jungkook like he’s transparent. so jungkook goes to the library.

most of their stuff is a mismatch of fantasy and old myth; a lot of nonfiction about witches is honestly nothing jungkook can handle, especially the persecution of them. there’s a reason why witches keep to themselves, after all. a lot of it is sifting through the false information - stuff that he knows to be untrue - to get to the things that have questionable sources and possible answers. big, dusty textbooks and collections that are all located in the research part of the library.

jungkook strolls through the familiar aisles, whistling underneath his breath. he notices some of the spines tremble as he walks by. it’s a little trick he’s learned; every witch leaves their magical imprint on something. jungkook is just trying to find it by poking around and looking for whatever reacts. he has no real idea of where to start, after all.

finally, as he’s heading toward the end of the aisle, there’s a brief screech and a book practically jumps out of the shelf. it’s from one of the top shelves, too high up for even jungkook to reach, and it falls to the ground behind jungkook with a whump. for a moment, the book twitches, and then jungkook gives a sharp little whistle and it calms.

he goes over to the pick up the book; it’s heavy, with thick, ragged pages and a leather spine. witches have a fondness for leather, jungkook included. leather is heavy and keeps the imprints of magic much more than any other covering. magical beings are territorial. it smells like jasmine oil. jungkook closes the book; it’s about as wide as his arms, and when he lifts it to his chest, it covers his face all the way up to his nose. he tries not to stagger too much as he finds the nearest table and sets it down, huffing.

he takes a picture of it with his phone in case the book can’t be found later. jungkook doubts that he’ll be able to get a lot out of it right now, but there might be something in there for future use. his mom didn’t raise an idiot.

it’s a collection of old fairytales from europe; most of these jungkook are unfamiliar with. the lot of them are stuff he finds in passing with the other symbols that he’s used to that have influenced his own work, but a lot of his charms and magic is based off the japanese and chinese folklore. the european witches use their words differently; treat the earth differently; spin their pots and use their flames disproportionately. even still, there is always something to learn from others - hasn’t he learned from the many mistakes made in his own history? - so he settles down and starts to peer at the translation of such stories into korean.

jungkook has to be careful with the book, because it’s fragile and the paper hums when he touches it. when he’s flipping through the pages for something that seems remotely close to the predicament he’s in, he notices strange, glinting things from the margins. he holds his breath and picks at it. he runs his fingers over the strange, blank spaces of paper, furrowing his brow. there is something there, he thinks, and jungkook curls his fingernails over a page about a sea serpent to try and make something out of the glittering, translucent words underneath. from the strokes, he can deduce that it’s definitely in korean.

nothing works, however, not even when he whistles an unmasking jinx. he has no materials for spells and no place to perform one, being in public, but he knows that if he wants to know something, he’s going to have to see what’s underneath the wording.

with a huff, he gives up. jungkook stands and does a cursory glance for any other book in the library with his magic, but none in this section is even remotely magical, or have any magical influence. they won’t do him much help. jungkook frowns and decides to take the book with him, looking around for any barcode tag, or anything that might signal that it’s from this library.

with an uneasy feeling, jungkook lugs it up and takes it to the front desk. he doesn’t get any weird looks, which is in itself, a weird thing.

the librarian peers at him from behind the counter, and then startles. jungkook sets down the big book on the counter and asks, “can i check this out, please?”

“um,” the librarian looks down at the book. “i’m sorry, sir, but that book is not a part of our library.”

jungkook blinks. “i’m - excuse me?”

the librarian shrugs. “it’s not a part of our library. all our books have a tag on them; this one does not. i can’t help you.”

“ah, alright,” jungkook steps back and thanks the librarian for his time, a million thoughts running through his head.

now that he thinks about it, it is pretty weird that in the first library he goes to, without any aim of what he’s researching on, he finds a magical book with the stories of many different types of magical creatures. there’s no tag on the book, and it hums with an electrical energy that continues to thrum underneath jungkook’s fingers.

a chill strings it’s way along his spine. did someone - did someone put this here on purpose for him to find?

no, it couldn’t be possible. he told no one about what he was doing, save jimin. but the book - it might have answers, and how could he have found it this easily otherwise? jungkook rarely went to the library. he wasn’t a master researcher.

with a heavy swallow, he returns to his previous spot away from other people. he runs his hands over the front of the book and closes his eyes. with a small hum, energy floods from his fingers to the cover in front of him. when he’s looking again, the book has gone to a pocket-sized little thing, as compact as his phone. he bites his lip and stuffs it in his bag quickly.

when he’s leaving the library, he hides behind a tall woman that blocks the librarian’s view of him. there are more questions than answers, at this point.

/

jungkook is reading over notes for his composition class when someone drops into the seat beside him. he just got to the university square to cram study before his test this afternoon, finding the open area a much better place to get his thoughts in order. at home, in his room, is the old book that he still doesn’t know what to do with, resting on his nightside table. jungkook shakes his head and flinches when the person beside him sighs, his brain taking a moment to realize who it is.

“y-yoongi-hyung?” he stutters, blinking.

min yoongi shrugs, leaning back. he’s got a cup of coffee in hand and a little bit of a strained look to his eye, but he looks much better than before. “sorry; all the tables were full and you were the only person i recognized, so.”

jungkook looks around the courtyard and sees everyone either studying, like him, or hanging out with friends. “ah, it’s no problem. i’m going to be studying for my exam, so...”

“not a problem,” yoongi says breezily. “i’m just going to do a bit of work, hope you don’t mind.”

jungkook nods and looks back down at his notes, but now he finds another reason to not be able to concentrate. now, instead of being distracted by the book in his room and the irises littering the ceiling, his mind wanders to how close yoongi is. their elbows brush if jungkook moves. he can feel the heat of yoongi’s side against his own. yoongi moves slow and easy, and sometimes jungkook’s eye gets caught on the veins on his hand, the rings on his fingers. then he quickly moves his eyes back down to his paper, down to the same line he’s read three times.

they have an entire table to themselves, but yoongi is sitting right next to him. jungkook wonders how rude it would be to get up and sit a little bit further, because the proximity is doing something funny to his stomach.

yoongi leans back for a moment, stretching, and he’s strangely close to jungkook again. the younger gets a whiff of something citrus-y, light, and woodsy. it’s immediately addicting, and despite himself he sways a little bit closer.

“damn,” yoongi mumbles, tapping away at his laptop. jungkook forces himself to stay back, realizing that he’s gone closer to the older man without even realizing it. he doesn’t want to be a creep.

jungkook flips the page in his book and takes his pen to start scribbling notes. he has to focus. he has to focus.

/

the book is lying there harmlessly.

jungkook is on his bed, staring it down as if it’ll leap forward and eat him. his hair is damp from his shower; he’s in his comfiest sweats and a hoodie, snuggling into the fleece warmth it offers. he had texted jimin to see where he was going to be for the night; thankfully, jimin seemed to be out on some double date with taehyung and a couple other people.

he pauses, and then rolls over. on his bed. there are no purple flowers in his room, thank god, but jungkook is starting to get a real headache over this entire business. it’s just much easier to ask his mom for help, or taehyung’s grandmother, but he knows that neither is a good option. his mom would get too involved and taehyung’s grandmother...doesn’t need to be bothered. she’s so happy that jimin is dating her son, after all, what would she think if jungkook comes along and says something is wrong with her grandson’s happiness?

jungkook snorts. it looks like he’s a jealous pining piner who pines. he shakes his head and groans into his pillow.

there are very few people who can help him. neither he nor jimin have made much contact with the other covens around the school or even in seoul. they were small, a coven of two, and so they knew that no one would bother them much. covens are usually much larger, with up to ten to more witches. those are strong ties in between people of all places, always gravitating back together. jungkook only has jimin. magical beings are territorial; he has no idea how willing other people are to share stories, if they want to share any information at all.

so how can he get more information?

his eyes travel to the book, now normal size, on his side table.

abruptly, he gets up and says to the empty air, “i should really clean.”

he cleans his room with a magical swipe - a couple movements of his fingers and the sound of his voice hitting the hair is enough for everything to start moving to their places by themselves. his books and textbooks shuffle up in line in his bookcase; his clothes are neatly folded in a second and float their way inside his drawer. he whistles, and a broom from the living room barges in, sweeping the floor in a moment. he smiles and takes a hold of the broom at the last moment, leaving it at the corner of his room. the window curtains aren’t dusty, but he gives them a good shake anyway. when he comes back to the bed an hour later, the book is still there, untouched.

well, it’s not like he can read the important things, jungkook thinks grumpily. by important, he means the things he can’t read, aka the hidden writing. he has to figure out what kind of magic it is; so far, it isn’t a hex or a jinx or a regular spell. he’s thinking that maybe the person wrote in a magical ink instead, that’s why it looks like it’s been bled into the page, but then he has to find something to make that magic ink show. how would he do that if he doesn’t know what is in the ink in the first place?

his stomach growls. jungkook puts a hand on his stomach and huffs.

he feels too lazy to cook, so he grabs his keys and heads out. there’s a lamb skewer place nearby, but he never gets a chance to go because jimin’s not a very big fan of lamb skewers; he prefers the regular grill. when he enters, the ahjumma in the store gives him a nod and jungkook bows in return, quickly heading to a table.

he knows he looks like the epitome of a college student, in ratty - but comfortable - clothes, his phone out and glowing, his keys swinging from the lanyard wrapped around his wrist. he puts his keys in his pocket and leans on the wall, closing his eyes.

jungkook opens his eyes where there’s a voice above him asking, “jeon jungkook?”

with a slight blink, jungkook looks up. “yoongi-hyung?”

“i just keep bumping into you, don’t i,” yoongi says. shadows dance under his eyes from the lighting in the room. “here for dinner?”

“yeah,” jungkook affirms. “you’re here too, hyung?”

“‘i just finished eating,” yoongi tells him. he’s got his bag hefted on one shoulder. “this is the only decent skewer place near the university, but namjoon doesn’t like eating here, so i go by myself.”

“jimin-hyung doesn’t like it here either, so it’s like my second or third time coming,” he admits. “i don’t like eating by myself most of the time.” unfortunately that’s what it seems like he’s been doing often; jimin is mostly busy with his boyfriend so jungkook is left to eat his meals alone. it makes him wonder if those stream stars have a thing going on with their mukbangs.

yoongi slides in across from him easily, setting his bag down. “hyung, what are you doing?” jungkook asks, bewildered.

“you said you don’t like eating alone, right?” yoongi shrugs. “i don’t have anything else to do all night, so.”

“hyung, i couldn’t take up your time. you should go home.”

“i’ll stay if i want to, kid.”

jungkook hesitates. “hyung, seriously, it’ll be weird...”

yoongi gives him a look. “how will it be weird?”

muttering, jungkook fidgets. “you’ll just be watching me, because there’s nothing else to do...isn’t that kind of perverted?”

“perver - “ yoongi splutters, face turning red. “how - wha - how the fu - frick is that per - “ yoongi sighs heavily through his nose and rubs a hand down his face. he looks like he’s trying hard not to say anything, but his ears a bright red underneath his silver hair. jungkook shuffles.

“i was just gonna sit here and read a book or something,” he finally says.

“no, hyung, that would be worse,” jungkook scowls. “what’s the point of eating with someone if they’re on their phone or doing somethin’ else? if you’re not gonna talk then i might as well eat by myself.”

“alright, alright, you’re so picky,” yoongi grumbles. “i’m seriously not going to eat anything, though.”

“but then you’re just going to watch me,” jungkook points out. “which is perverted.”

“how is that - “ yoongi takes a deep breath. “jesus christ, kid. i’ll take your kimchi or something, just - eat.” he’s trying to handle his cursing because of the group of high school kids right next to him, all of them eating together. by the time jungkook gets two sets of chopsticks ready and two spoons for them both, the food has already arrived. yoongi starts up the grill and he sees the waitress give yoongi a strange look, like, weren’t you eating a whole meal by yourself before? it makes jungkook laugh silently to himself, and for a moment, he forgets all his troubles.

he sits cross legged across from yoongi on the low table, pulling his sleeves over his wrists so he won’t get cold. yoongi has already started putting meat on the skewers to put them on the grill, rubbing the back of his head.

he looks tired. jungkook notices the shadows underneath his eyes growing larger and larger. his skin looks a little unnaturally pale. jungkook taps his fingers on the table and asks, “i know we’re not close, hyung, but are you okay?”

yoongi startles and the tongs he was using to grill clangs against the side of the machinery. “what? what - yeah, i’m fine.”

“you look tired,” jungkook prods. “like you haven’t gotten a good rest.”

“last time i felt good was when i stopped by your place for jimin’s cds,” he admits, rubbing one eye. “damn, i need sleep, but i also need to finish all the crap i have to do.”

“do you have any time to sleep at all?” he asks quietly.

yoongi laughs dryly. “trust me, if i could sleep all day, i would. as it is, there’s just too much to do right now - too much on my mind.” he licks his lips and seems to catch himself. “you know, you’re easy to talk to. i didn’t expect i would be saying this much.”

“guess i have one of those faces,” jungkook jokes. yoongi’s eyes skitter across his face, much more intense than jungkook expects, and it makes the back of his neck burn.

“yeah,” yoongi’s voice fades in the dim.

they fall into quiet for a while. it’s everything jungkook is afraid of; the silence, so thick and heavy, leaning over both of them like a shadow. and while there is something holding itself over them both, at least there is no awkwardness. he doesn’t feel like he should hide his face in his sleeves when yoongi is around. there is none of that need to press himself against the background and wait for the feeling to pass. he feels floaty and open, comfortable in his home clothes, and his magic sparks dimly.

the wind is breezy outside. jungkook can hear it from here. for a moment, he closes his eyes and leans his head against the wall. it he listens close enough, he can make out the waving sounds in between the leaves, the hollows of tree trunks, and the sidewalk. it’s a familiar beat, a familiar haunting tune. jungkook refrains from humming.

“hey, hey,” yoongi snaps in front of his face. “don’t fall asleep on me now,” he says warily. “you paid for these, you gotta eat ‘em.”

the smell of cooked meat and rich sauces wakes him up from his stupor. jungkook goes through a complete 180, eyes widening in excitement and hands leaning forward to take the bowl of skewered meat yoongi’s handed him. he doesn’t even wait; with his chopsticks, he dips a piece in his favorite sauce and plops it straight in his mouth.

it practically melts. jungkook makes a noise that sounds like it’s a cross between a grunt and a moan. “what - the hell, hyung, you’re so good at grilling.”

“i’m just okay,” yoongi mutters, but his ears are pink again. “you’re really hungry, huh? stuff your face, hyung will do the rest.”

“yes please,” jungkook eagerly gets the next portion and stuffs it in his mouth, aware that he probably stupidly looks like a chipmunk. jimin always makes fun of his baby fat; jungkook retaliates that jimin’s not a baby anymore, so why does he still have his?

yoongi is a little bit of a talker. he’s nowhere near as fast or as off topic as jimin is, but he’s a good conversationalist. even though jungkook hadn’t put any potion in his drink this time around, he looks a little less stressed already. he thinks it might be the easy, mindless work of grilling meat; all he has to do is turn them over until they’re done the way yoongi likes ‘em, which is apparently the same way jungkook likes ‘em. while he’s doing all this, though, he just quietly keeps up a stream of words.

jungkook decides that he likes yoongi’s voice. it’s very low, with a timbre to it that is unique to yoongi alone. he mouths his words in a way that gives them shape; almost like jungkook can see the words themselves in the air. he likes it when yoongi talks. he’s like the rolling river; the coolness of his voice washes over jungkook, a feeling he welcomes.

not that he’d admit to it. not even under duress.

but maybe jungkook’s mind strays along to other ideas, such as having yoongi’s voice bottled up for himself; he wonders, vaguely how that would work out. rushing, moving air in a bottle.

“hey, are you listening?” the same voice cuts through his thoughts now, and jungkook realizes he’s been tapping the side of a bowl for the last minute or two. all the meat is nearly done. yoongi looks at him with a raised eyebrow. “you’ve asked me to talk for most of the time, but you barely said anything.”

for a moment, jungkook simply stares at him with wide eyes, disoriented. “i didn’t say i was going to talk.”

“you - “

“i’m kinda full,” jungkook admits, shrugging.”hyung, do you want to eat?”

yoongi stares oddly at him. “i said - i said i already ate, earlier. remember, i was leaving?”

“oh yeah,” jungkook does remember that now, actually. “well - eonni! can i get this to go?” he motions for a female waitress, who nods and comes over. the check is already there, so jungkook reaches into his wallet and takes out the appropriate money.

“i can’t believe i just spent another hour here,” yoongi mutters.

jungkook smiles. “but you feel better, right, hyung?”

yoongi opens his mouth to retort but finds that - he actually does feel better. he didn’t think he would have, the headache that he had before has all but dissipated. he feels lighter, more relaxed, shoulders easing without all the tension in them. “what kind of sorcery is this?”

“no magic, hyung,” jungkook half-smiles, filled with secrets, “just made you forget about the world for a moment. eonni, is that all of it?”

“huh,” yoongi follows after him as jungkook leaves the restaurant.

“thanks for eating with me - you didn’t have to, since we don’t know each other that well,” jungkook bows a little, just to be polite. “i’m going home now.”

“hey,” yoongi stops him, a strange light in his eyes, “it’s pretty late - i’ll walk you home.”

“i’ll be okay,” jungkook points to the general direction his apartment building is in. if he looks hard enough, he can see his complex. “i live right there. you should go home and rest, hyung; just because you have work to do doesn’t mean you can forget about sleep.”

yoongi scoffs. “since when were you this talkative?”

“i’m not talking a lot,” jungkook huffs; honestly, he only said a sentence. “i’m going home now. bye!”

he doesn’t see yoongi staring after him as he leaves.

/

the book remains in his room, but the irises grow faster. now they start glowing an almost unnatural purple glow from the inside, like something is lighting them up. jungkook is working on his composition class work when he hears jimin retch in the bathroom.

he rushes over, knocking on the door. “hyung? hyung?” there’s no answer. “...jimin?”

“it’s hyung to you,” comes the weak answer. jungkook knocks on the door again. “hyung, please, let me in; can i see what’s wrong?”

“ugh.” there’s the sound of the toilet flushing. “i got a stomach virus, or something. i had to go home yesterday from dinner with tae and his grandma because of it.”

when jimin finally comes out of the bathroom, he looks physically ill; his face is wan, lips chapped without him wearing his usual tint, and his hair is a mess. he’s cloaked in a big sweater that looks like taehyung’s and definitely not his, and he’s holding both palms to his stomach.

jungkook frowns, holding onto his elbow. “do you want me to make you soup?”

“chicken soup,” jimin says pitifully. “the spicy kind. with dinner rolls.”

“of course, hyung, i insist on making you food,” jungkook deadpans. “no, please, i want to make you feel better, stop trying to tell me no.”

“since when would i ever say no to food,” jimin groans, leaning down on the sofa. he rests his head on one of the throw pillows they have there. he waves a hand in front of his face and his nose crinkles. “did you burn incense recently?”

“no,” jungkook sets a blanket on him. “and not being able to say no to food is probably what got you sick anyway. don’t use magic; i don’t want to clean mucus on the ceiling again.”

one fucking time,” jimin mutters hotly, before covering his face with the blanket and shuffling on the sofa.

jimin does feel a bit better after soup and bread; he starts blabbering about the drama on tv and complaining about the male lead that is, quote unquote “doing shitty things to the female lead - don’t drag her everywhere oh my god?” and jungkook knows he’ll be just fine.

/

except, the next day, jimin is throwing up again.

jungkook catches him sometime after four o’clock, after his last class has finished. jimin is in the bathroom again, head bowed over the toilet, and he looks tired and wan. his skin has paled incredibly; his hair is limp and he’s trembling like a leaf. jungkook’s bookbag hits the floor with a thump, a fact he barely realizes when he runs to jimin’s side.

“hyung - hyung!” he pulls jimin’s tense shoulders away from the toilet bowl and stares down, alarmed, at the blood dripping from jimin’s lip.

“hyung - oh my god,” he says weakly, his eyes swimming at the sight of blood. he swallows thickly.

“s’rry,” jimin slurs, “s’rry, kookie - know y’r not good ‘round blood - “ he hitches forward and coughs into the toilet. a moment later he dry heaves, air swelling and expelling from his lungs in great heaves. he shudders, and he feels so cold to touch. jungkook looks away and tries not to feel lightheaded himself. something hums underneath his skin, and his own stomach rolls with the sense of something is wrong, wrong, wrong, something is wrong.

“oh my god, hyung, please - i need to - “

“no do’ter,” jimin says, knuckles white as he grips the side of the porcelain bowl.

“i’m not - i’m not stupid, hyung, but i need to get someone to help you - “ doctors are bad for them; stuff about their bodies are different, and some doctors - well, they just wouldn’t understand. magic held in their bodies doesn’t like when it’s being prodded, either. “i don’t know what to do,” jungkook admits, tears starting to burn at the back of his eyes.

“bed,” jimin croaks out, holding onto jungkook’s hand with a deathly grip. jungkook helps him stand up on shaky legs and pointedly doesn’t look at the bloody mess that jimin left behind in the bathroom. they stumble to jimin’s room; when jungkook opens the door, he’s immediately assaulted.

the scent of irises are everywhere. they’re covered every inch of the room, taking over every space and corner. jungkook watches with mild horror as they keep growing, moving, like a living and breathing thing.

he helps jimin get into bed when the other says, “y’ gotta, - tell hyungs i can’ come t’day, work - “

“hyung, how can you be thinking about this right now - “

“pl’se,” jimin holds onto his wrist. “pl’se, kookie, it’s importan’ t’ me.”

“okay, okay,” jungkook says soothingly, wincing as jimin lets go of his wrist; that’s going to leave a bruise. “i promise, i’ll tell them. just - get some sleep, please?”

jimin groans and his head lolls over, limp. he looks achingly sick, and it’s - it’s frightening. jungkook doesn’t know what to do. he sort of skitters around jimin’s body before pulling away, trying to calm his shaking nerves and hands.

he tries to get his thoughts into order, at least for jimin if not for himself. jungkook takes a deep breath - jimin wanted him to tell his hyungs that today was a bad day to come to to studio, so that’s exactly what he’s going to do first. he grabs jimin’s cellphone and looks through his contacts.

jungkook’s finger taps hesitantly over the contact yoongi hyung. eyes flickering to jimin once a while, jungkook bites his lip and prays his voice doesn’t sound as shaky as he feels. the phone rings and rings, some song he doesn’t recognize coming out of the speakers, and it’s almost enough to drive jungkook crazy enough to hang up and try the other hyung instead -

hello?”

“hello, yoongi-hyung?” jungkook blurts out. “are you - are you there?”

there’s a pause, and then, “ah, i’m not yoongi, sorry; he just stepped out for a moment.

jungkook doesn’t know whether to be relieved or saddened. “that’s - that’s fine. it’s - could you tell him and if he’s there, a nam - nam - “

namjoon? kim namjoon?

“y-yes,” jungkook coughs, starting to feel a little lightheaded himself. he blinks and looks down at his wrist. what’s going on? “yes, them - tell them that p-park j-j-jimin w-won’t be - “ he gets cut off by another cough, racking his lungs.

hey, hey? are you - are you there? hello? are you okay?!

jungkook gasps and blinks, spots dancing in front of his eyes. was his skin that pale a couple of minutes ago? it’s suddenly so, so hard to breathe. “i - i’m - “

hey - anyone there? hello? hello!

the phone drops from jungkook’s hand as soon as he collapses.

/

when he comes to, he’s in his own room. the ceiling is too bright for him to look at; jungkook groans, and then coughs, feeling like his lungs are hacking themselves up with the simple movement. he feels weak. his entire body is like - it’s like it’s being sapped of something. he leans back, head against the pillow, groaning.

there’s a sound from next to his bed as soon as he opens his mouth, and then a semi-familiar voice says, “jungkook?”

jungkook tries to open his eyes, but the world is still too bright. he licks his lips, but it’s too dry. “who...?”

“it’s me, yoongi,” the voice says again. “listen, kid - just hold on for a sec, alright? jin! jin hyung!”

jungkook groans, because yoongi is too loud. his voice, once soothing and pleasant, rings harshly against jungkook’s now-sensitive ears. he wants to cry; he wants to hold his hands against his head to make the sound go away.

“you’re alright,” a different voice says this time, smoothing back the hair on his feverish forehead. it’s much less grating than yoongi’s deep tones. “you’re okay - jungkook, right? you’ll be fine.”

“what’s - what’s wrong with him?” he hears distantly.

a pause. “i’m - there’s a lot of things i never told you or namjoon, yoongi. i’m sorry.”

“what - “

the pleasant voice starts again, followed by a cool hand on temple. “don’t - i’ll explain everything, okay? i can’t hide it from you guys any longer, but please - let me do what i can right now. are you...going to stay?”

“like hell i’m gonna leave. he looks like he’s - “

“shh,” the voice says now, close to jungkook’s ear. “jungkook-ah, can you please tell me what you are?”

jungkook groans, hands fisting his sheets, fingers dry and numb. he’s in so much pain, like it’s radiating from the inside out. “s-siren,” he stutters, before his stomach rolls once more.

“a siren witch, okay, that’s good, thank you - i’m a hedge witch, okay? i’m here to help you. i promise you i will. please - how long have the flowers been here? are they yours?”

“j-j-imin’s,” jungkook coughs, shivers racing down his spine. he still hasn’t opened his eyes more than a sliver. “the - i-irises, un-n-natural g-growth.”

“you’re right, you’re right,” another cool feeling on his forehead. “i noticed. who is he in love with?”

“k-kim t-taehyu-ng,” he gasps, right when a bolt of pain flashes through at the core. he barely bites back a scream, clutching to his stomach.

“what the fuck is - happening to him, christ - “

“shh, both of you,” the voice says. jungkook feels a hand over his throat, his chest, then his temple once more. “go to sleep, jungkook, one more time. i’ll make it better, i promise.”

/

when jungkook wakes up, everything is quiet.

it’s startlingly and eerily quiet. it’s never quiet in their apartment; the sound of beads rattling, the sound of the tv playing, the sound of the wind flowing outside of his window. it’s never quiet, not like how it is right now; for a moment, there is nothing but deafening silence, and jungkook tries to hear himself breathe. when he realizes he can’t, he screams and grapples at his ears.

someone grabs onto his wrists, pulling them away from his head. with a sudden pop the world comes back into sound; he hears the raggedy heaving of his own lungs, the wind, the beads, everything. jungkook groans and takes his wrists back from the strange man sitting across from him, who has both his hands up as if in surrender.

“hey, hey, i’m here to help,” the stranger says in a soothing voice. he runs a hand down jungkook’s arm. “i’m here, okay? i’m here. you’ve had quite a rough time these last few days.”

“days?” he repeats, voice hoarse. “what - “

“here, this should help you.” jungkook is handed a bowl of soup on a tray; it smells divine. “just eat slowly, okay? do you need me to feed you? my name is kim seokjin. i’m namjoon’s boyfriend. do you remember who namjoon is?”

“namjoon-ssi,” jungkook repeats, a flash of a face appearing in his mind. “he’s friends with yoongi-hyung, right?” jungkook coughs and leans forward to take a bit of soup; it tastes just as good as it smells. he almost bowls over to start drinking again, but seokjin’s hand is heavy on his knee, telling him to take it easy.

“right,” seokjin beams. “do you remember what happened, jungkook-ah?”

“i - “ jungkook frowns. “i came home and then i heard jimin-hyung in the bathroom. he left the door open...it was awful, there was puke and blood - “ here he stops and swallows reflexively. “i tried to get him to his bedroom, in his bed, and when i did he kept - he kept telling me to call the hyungs he was working with, and i thought i would get that out of the way before i could think of something else to do. i didn’t know that i was - “

“going to get poisoned too?” seokjin finishes, giving jungkook a sympathetic wince. “jimin has a real bad case of magical poisoning, jungkook-ah. i tested him when i came here, but i could tell. the flowers - “

“- they’re unnatural,” jungkook whispers, pushing the bowl away, feeling sick. “i knew it. i knew something was wrong. it’s just...i never had time to look over anything, and everything was going too fast...”

“it’s not your fault,” seokjin says quietly. “you couldn’t have known. it seems like jimin had an inkling of what was happening to him, because he - it seemed like he was forcing himself to throw up, to get whatever was poisoning him out of his stomach.”

“he knew?”

“yeah, seems so,” seokjin rubs his elbows, a reassuring movement. “at least, he had an idea. he wasn’t...quick enough, sadly.” there’s a moment of silence; jungkook recognizes these silences. they’re heavy and speak of only bad news. “he’s...jungkook, he’s asleep right now. i don’t think he’ll be waking up until he gets better.”

panic grips jungkook like a vise. “n-no, i mean - you can help him like you helped me, right? you can save him - make him feel better - “

seokjin stops him from jostling the bowl of soup near him. “jungkook, you were only affected by the poison at close proximity; i could save you because it didn’t touch your body, but jimin...it’s too far into jimin’s body for me to heal like i healed you. i would need to know what kind of poisoning jimin had - airborn, ingested, through skin, and what spell it was - “

“ - i’ll help you,” jungkook cuts in, already ready to get on his knees, “please, just - save him. he’s my big brother.”

seokjin pauses, looking stricken at something, eyes far away. then he smiles weakly. he reaches over to pat jungkook on the head, a soothing motion jungkook hasn’t felt since his mother’s own touch. “of course; i’ll do whatever i can.”

“thank you,” jungkook swallows dryly, leaning back and taking another sip of soup.

when it’s all done, seokjin takes the bowl and hands him a glass of water. there’s nothing in the food, jungkook senses, it’s just plain old good cooking. he sips the water slowly as well, letting it cool down his dry throat. he feels better already, some strength already returning to his bones.

“i’m jeon jungkook,” he says after seokjin has put everything on a tray on the floor beside him. “i’m - i didn’t get to introduce myself before. please take care of me.”

seokjin gives him a half smile. jungkook notices that this guy is pretty good looking; he commends namjoon. “we’re past awkwardness, aren’t we? thank you, anyway; yoongi told me about you.”

jungkook’s eyes flicker up in interest at that. “yoongi-hyung?” he asks, voice laced with wonder.

for a moment, seokjin gives him a thorough look, as if trying to peer in behind jungkook’s skin. then he gives a wide smile that says he’s just learned a secret that jungkook doesn’t know about. “oh, yeah. he’s been here the three days you’ve been out, taking shifts with me. namjoon and i have been looking after jimin, too.”

“he - “ jungkook coughs in surprise. “what?”

seokjin shrugs, but it’s definitely with an air of embarrassment. a little softly, he says, “they know, now. i can’t actually believe it...i’ve been dating namjoon for two years now, and he never...yoongi either. i had to tell them.”

“what happened?” jungkook asks, mind racing.

“hmm. three days ago, you called yoongi’s cell; he was in the bathroom, and namjoon had his earphones in, so i took the call. when your call finished, yoongi came back, and he heard the tail end of your voice. i told him what happened, and he dragged me and namjoon to your apartment...i swear to you, jungkook, i didn’t know that you and jimin were magic. i just assumed you had fallen, or something worse, so i tagged along,” seokjin scratches the back of his head. “i’m in medical school, so i figured i could help in some way, but then when i came in, i could tell immediately that this wasn’t an ordinary fainting patient. your door was open, by the way; they saw everything...the flowers, the magic, the bathroom...i couldn’t stop them. and then they found you and jimin in the bedroom.”

“oh,” jungkook says vaguely. head spinning. “oh, that’s - “

he can’t imagine the picture they must have made. jimin’s room itself...

seokjin nods. “yes. namjoon, i thought, would at least have had - but yoongi was so shocked, but he didn’t leave, jungkook - he stayed outside that door when i was in here and then - “

they’re both interrupted by the sound of jungkook’s door opening. at the mouth of the door is a harried yoongi, wearing a worn leather jacket and faded jeans with hair that looks like it hasn’t been combed in days. he’s holding a plastic bag in his hand and his phone in the other, and the scowl on his face disappears as soon as he sees jungkook upright.

“you - “ yoongi shuts the door behind him, walking in a hesitant step. “you’re awake.”

there’s something weird between them, jungkook thinks. the air is suddenly thick and electric. it feels like he can’t breathe, but in a different way; when yoongi looks at him, mouth pulled down into a frown and eyes dark and intense, his stomach does something akin to fluttering.

“uh-huh,” his mouth says instead. jungkook winces. “i’m - okay.”

“didn’t seem like it,” yoongi shoots back, before grimacing. “shit, i didn’t mean - here, hyung, i got what you wanted,” he mutters, throwing the plastic bag at seokjin. “don’t know why you wanted me to get these things, especially when i have no idea what half this shit is, but here’s to hoping i didn’t fuck up.”

seokjin looks in the bag, pulling out - a familiar package. “thank you, yoongi.”

jungkook leans forward. “is that - “

“you said,” seokjin starts, voice light and kind, “that jimin’s boyfriend is someone named kim taehyung?”

jungkook’s stomach drops.

“that was the name of the kid behind the counter at the store,” yoongi comments. he sits down at the foot of jungkook’s bed, close to jungkook’s ankles. “wouldn’t shut up.”

but jungkook knows where this is heading. he can see the ingredients in seokjin’s hands, the bags that jungkook himself has a collection of in one of the cabinets from how much he’s gone to that same store. taehyung, who pinches jungkook’s cheeks and asks him for dating help (like he’d be help, seriously) and always sings trot songs while he’s mopping the floor. seokjin thinks -

“taehyung-hyung didn’t poison jimin,” jungkook spits, face twisting in anger. “how could he? that’s - how could you even think that?”

“sometimes people do terrible things to the ones they love,” seokjin says grimly. yoongi’s eyes flutter between them both, trying to catch up to the information. “please, jungkook, it’s a valid suspicion. he has all the necessary ingredients for a spell of this magnitude - he could be putting it into jimin’s food, quietly, while they’re on a date.”

“except for one thing - taehyung-hyung isn’t magic,” jungkook snarls, fight rising up in him in defense of his friend. taehyung, who has never been anything but sweet to him, treated him like a little brother. “how could he make anything if he doesn’t have a drop of magic in him, huh?”

“maybe,” seokjin says quietly, “that’s why he’s poisoning jimin. to get his magic. not all potions require magic to make, jungkook - if one has the right materials...you, of all people, should know this. and the flowers, jungkook...why else do you think they’re growing unnaturally?”

the wind knocks out of jungkook. despite himself, tears start rising to his eyes. his head is pounding with all the insinuations. “i - “

there’s something warm over his shoulders, then, covering up his back; an arm around his shoulders, and then a familiar citrus-y, woodsy scent. “hey, okay, he just woke up,” yoongi offers, tightening the arm around jungkook’s shoulders for a moment before pulling away, keeping a good amount of space in between them on the bed. “hyung, maybe you guys should talk about this later?”

seokjin pauses. jungkook doesn’t look at him through his blurry eyes, but when seokjin takes to long to reply, he looks up and catches a glance of his reluctant face. he doesn’t look like he’s reluctant to leave; rather he looks like he’s reluctant to say something or not. he keeps opening his mouth and closing it. finally, he secedes, “i’ll be in the living room; namjoon is probably sleeping at an awkward angle again.”

he leaves them both alone in the room, and jungkook wipes at his face harshly, wishing his tears would disappear.

it’s quiet again in his room, save for his hiccuping breaths as he tries to get a hold of himself. yoongi’s jacket is warm around his shoulders from body heat, and jungkook guiltily holds it closer. yoongi is still sitting beside him on the bed, close enough for jungkook to feel his presence there but far enough for them not to be touching.

“what did he mean, the flowers are growing unnaturally?” yoongi asks out of the blue. jungkook startles and looks up, meeting his eyes. “what did he mean by that? those purple things all around the entire place?”

“irises,” jungkook corrects. “they’re...jimin-hyung’s.”

“you said he grew them,” yoongi points out, remembering even that tiny bit of information. “so why are they growing wrong?”

jungkook pauses, biting his lip. he know what yoongi’s trying to do; distract him by making him focus on something close to the subject, but not all the way there, just to calm his nerves. “when a witch falls in love,” he starts slowly, “flowers grow underneath their feet. no one knows why - it’s been like this for as long as we can remember. when that love is returned, the flowers stop growing. they’re usually the favorite of the person that they fell in love with.” jungkook sighs. “jimin has been dating taehyung for the longest time now. the irises should have stopped growing.”

“but they didn’t,” yoongi finishes.

“no,” jungkook says glumly, “they didn’t.”

a moment, then, “have they ever grown for you?”

the question takes jungkook aback. he turns his head and sees yoongi look at his hands, seemingly occupied with his phone.

“no,” the word slips out of his mouth before he realizes he’s said it. “no, they’ve never grown for me.”

yoongi nods, but he stops playing with his phone. he spares jungkook another look this time; his features are softer, now. jungkook thinks: he’s not the most handsome of guys, but there’s something about yoongi that you can’t look away from. he thinks that he should keep his thoughts about this quiet. yoongi licks his bottom lip before chuckling, “magic, huh?”

jungkook laughs a little with him. “yeah. i’m sorry you found out this way, hyung.” he grimaces. “or that you found out at all.”

yoongi’s head snaps up. “what? why? think i can't handle a little - “

“no, no,” jungkook hurries to rush. he sighs and motions around his room. “i’m not exactly...normal. never have been. i grew up with all this, so i don’t know how to - “ jungkook huffs in frustration. “i don’t know how to act normal. and what if... the things i do, what if people get scared and don’t want to talk to me anymore, and - “ he stops himself before more of himself can be laid out in front of the world for everyone to see.

“aw, kid,” yoongi sighs, all the anger leaving his body. “you think i’m a good example of what’s normal? me?” he points a lazy hand to himself, and jungkook finds himself smiling despite himself. “and so what, the magic is part of you? namjoon does fuckin’ math problems in the morning to wake himself up. he thinks they’re fun. seokjin hyung has to bake cookies in the evening or else they won’t ‘taste as good’ or some shit like that. we’re all pretty fucked up, some way or another.” he puts a hand on jungkook’s shoulder. “and if people don’t want to hang out with you because of who you are, it’s their loss. a great fucking shame, really.”

jungkook chuckles. “we’ve barely even talked, hyung.”

“if i ate dinner with you, you’re practically one of my best friends,” yoongi says dryly. “i won’t lie, i was a bit shocked, but it made a lot of sense. all this? it doesn’t make you less, jungkook. if anything, it makes you more than any of us can ever hope to be.”

he doesn’t know what to say that; the way that yoongi talks to him, voice reassuring and confident and so, so sure, is all the things jungkook wants to be. yoongi may think of him as more, but yoongi is the one who is more. he’s the one with a personality that can draw in people and get them to stay.

“once,” jungkook starts, quiet and a little shy, “i convinced jimin to jump off a pier.”

yoongi barks out a laugh, taken off guard. “how the hell did you manage to do that?”

jungkook smiles, stretching out his legs underneath the covers. “i’m a siren witch; my affinity is with sounds and air. most of us are from busan. jimin-hyung is one too. he sang and convinced me to bury myself in the sand, so to get back at him, i sang and got him to climb up on a rock and jump.” jungkook finds himself holding back giggles at the memory even now. “he was so outraged, but i was still buried, so i wasn’t going to let him go easily.” his smile fades. “and now...now he’s - “

“hey,” yoongi shakes him slightly, big palms a comforting weight on his shoulder. “listen - he’ll be fine, okay? he’ll be fine. seokjin himself said so.”

“but taehyung, hyung’s boyfriend?” jungkook shakes his head. “if you met him, hyung, you’d see what it’s such an unbelievable thing. taehyung-hyung wouldn’t do such a thing - couldn’t, even. i don’t think he has the capacity to do that.”

yoongi stays silent, because he can’t speak against taehyung. he doesn’t know the shop owner’s grandson at all other than a brief interaction when he went to buy what seokjin asked for. with a pursed mouth, yoongi offers, “i think namjoon and seokjin might know him.”

“w-what?”

“namjoon got all wound up when seokjin said his name,” he continues on mildly, frowning at the door. “this was after he told me, but before he told namjoon. i think they know that place somehow. i think - seokjin-hyung knows exactly who taehyung is.”

jungkook licks his lips. “you...don’t you trust that hyung?” why would yoongi be putting these seeds of hesitance in jungkook’s mind against someone he trusted?

yoongi shrugs. “the people you love hurt you the most, right,” he repeats, before half-sighing, half-laughing. “man, i don’t fucking know. i haven’t slept properly in ages. i don’t think i’m thinking straight.”

this gets jungkook’s attention. “hyung, you should sleep.”

that gets a chuckle. “even when you’re in your sick bed, you’re nagging me, jeon jungkook.”

jungkook makes a face at him. it’s weak and he doesn’t mean it completely because there’s a thousand thoughts running through his mind, but he realizes that he feels better than before. there’s not a crushing weight in his lungs; there’s no hands pulling him down into the darkness. for a moment, he feels peace, content, like the shores of busan when they still before the tide comes in. when the winds are all still, waiting in patience for the moon to rise and begin her reign in the sky.

with an exhale, jungkook releases his fingers from where they’ve been gripping yoongi’s jacket so tight his knuckles have turned white. yoongi looks tired, tired in a way he didn’t before. his eyes are like sunken holes in his pale, pale face; his lips are white and while he’s looking away, eyes trained on his phone instead of pinning a focused stare at jungkook, he realizes that no pep-up potion can fix this type of exhaustion.

he has to thank yoongi for a lot of things; for dragging seokjin to the apartment, for providing him company, staying behind, a simply presence by his side even without knowing about jungkook’s hatred - his fear - of loneliness. it’s unthinkable to properly consider what this man - who, just a couple of weeks ago, was a complete stranger - has done for him.

“i could sing to you, hyung,” jungkook offers. he doesn’t look yoongi in the eye when he says it. “help you get to sleep.”

“i haven’t fallen asleep to lullabies since i was four,” yoongi retorts without even looking up.

“but hyung,” jungkook starts quietly, starting to dredge up whatever magic is buried in him, like air expanding in his lungs, “i’m magic.”

yoongi lets the silence between them go for a bit longer before he laughs. “yeah, okay, if you want to play that card.”

jungkook spares a half smile and opens his mouth to sing. this is something he’s familiar with; this is something he knows how to do very well. he knows how to sing, how to tilt his voice, how to lower it and raise it until he gets the air around him to move along with his whims. he knows how to creep into someone’s rib cages and take space there until jungkook is moving along with the oxygen in one’s blood, rushing at full speed to the heart, to the brain. his magic is familiar and soft and does exactly what he wants, pliant in his hands. he’s never been sure where the power comes from - all he knows is that it once came from the earth, and then travelled up the sole of one’s foot to somewhere inside the body where the soul resides. magic is something that belongs to nature and will return one day, to nature, to lightning and fire and tsunami and hurricane. there is no stopping it; there is only following along with the wave.

for him now, his magic is soft, lilting, and jungkook thinks of the moon singing her stars to sleep. he thinks of his mom pushing back his hair and murmuring words on his skin, letting them disappear beneath his blood until they’re a part of him. he asks that yoongi go to sleep, quietly, peacefully, his dreams untainted by the bad spirits of the world. he asks that the moon watches over him long enough for him to rest his body between the stellar planes that make up the earth. jungkook asks and the magic gives like it’s another limb of his, entwining itself with the song of the air and dissipating in long, sweet sounds.

yoongi puts his head on the pillow and he’s asleep in moments. his body is still and quiet, breathing even, when jungkook stops.

the last note is a drawn out one, and causes him to blink a little in tiredness. he’s not fully recuperated yet - his magic must have been affected by the poisoning as well, he must still be a little weak, that’s why his limbs feel weak...maybe he should lay down and rest his eyes for a moment too. just for a moment, so he can get his bearings back and let his body rebuild...just for a moment...

/

when he opens his eyes for the third time, jungkook knows he’s dreaming.

he’s standing in the middle of one of busan’s numerous beaches, long and sprawling wide for miles. the sun is high in the sky, blue as can be, white clouds passing by without a care. the beach sand is dark at the shore and white at others. he’s standing in the part where the sand caves beneath his toes. the air is salty and sweet, just as he remembers it, and the water is clear and blue. off in the horizon, there is someone standing in the middle of the tide.

“jimin-hyung,” jungkook breathes. the breeze picks up and jungkook shivers; it’s then he realizes he has a leather jacket around his shoulders. his jeans are rolled up to the knees. he starts running toward jimin, who still has his back turned toward the sun. “hyung - jimin hyung - hyung!

jungkook’s feet hit the wet sand, now more firm beneath his feet, but he finds that he can’t move any more when he tries to take another step. the tide is starting to come in faster now, faster and faster, the sun setting at a pace unprecedented. jungkook has to hold his arms in front of his face not to get blinded. he tries yelling again, this time, as loud as he can possibly make it: “jimin hyung!

jimin startles, this time, turning around with wide eyes. he catches sight of jungkook and manages to get out of whatever lull he was in before, swaying left and right. “jungkook?”

“jimin hyung,” jungkook shouts, helpless. “wake up, hyung?”

“wake up,” jimin repeats, confused, looking down at the water crowding along his feet. “i am awake?”

“you’re sick,” jungkook says desperately, even though the sand is crawling up higher and higher across his legs. “please, hyung, wake up! you’re the only one i can trust! please - “ the sand, cool to the touch before, now grows steadily warmer. it’s at his knees.

“jungkook, where are you going?” jimin murmurs, watching jungkook slip in between. “don’t you want to play in the water with me? ah, i see, you’re burying yourself in the sand. should i jump in the water?”

“no, no! wake up, hyung, wake up!”

“i can’t move,” jimin admits, looking lost and out of place. “why can’t i move?”

the sand is up to his waist. “you’ve been poisoned, hyung, someone is trying to take your magic. please, please wake up - get better while you’re conscious, okay? everyone is telling me different things and i don’t - i don’t know how to help you.”

jimin presses his lips together. “poisoned?”

jungkook would stomp his foot if he could. “yes, poisoned! can’t you hear me?”

“you sound so far away, jungkookie,” jimin says faintly. “i can’t hear you at all.” the sand is up to his armpits. jungkook feels desperation crawl up his throat.

“please, hyung, you can always hear me,” jungkook yells out with whatever left he has. “we’re brothers, remember? blood brothers! please, please - “

he sinks under.

/

jungkook wakes up again with namjoon beside him. he looks all around his bedroom to make sure that it’s his - he steals in heavy gulps of air to make sure that he’s not drowning in sand. namjoon jumps up from his chair, looking worse for wear but actually clean. he swears, “oh - shit! crap, uh, you didn’t hear me say that - “ before rushing out the door calling from “jin! seokjin!”

jungkook holds a hand to his forehead and feels his own feverish self. as he sits up, he notices the leather jacket yoongi left on him slip off to rest in his lap. it was covering his chest before. he licks his dry lips and seokjin bursts through the door. “jungkook - are you okay?” behind him, yoongi walks in wearing the same clothes he wore the last time jungkook saw him.

he looks much better now, much more rested, but a lot worse for wear by his expression.

“i’m fine,” jungkook gasps, wiping his forehead. “just a - a dream. how long was i out?”

“an entire day,” yoongi says flatly, speaking up instead of seokjin. “you had a fever the entire day. i woke up and you were pale and jerking in your sleep - “ yoongi tenses.

“jungkook, did you use magic before you fell asleep?” seokjin asks.

“yes, i did. what does that have to do with anything?”

“what did you do?”

jungkook frowns, not liking this questioning. “i just - helped yoongi-hyung go to sleep.”

“you used a siren song,” seokjin clarifies. when jungkook nods, he rubs an eye. “jungkook, it took so much out of you that you accidentally put your healing system back into shock; it took us a while before you became stable again. at least you were away from jimin this time. it might have been worse if you caught what he has.”

“but, but i’ve done siren songs since i was a kid,” jungkook says, ignoring the way his hands shake a little. “they’ve never been hard. it’s a part of me, the easiest thing i can do - “

“jungkook, i know,” seokjin interrupts. he looks troubled. “and usually, even when your system is healing, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to handle this kind of stuff. so i have to ask, jungkook...how many people are in your coven? five, six? where are the rest of them? do you think it’s possible i can call them?”

“there is no one else,” jungkook responds tiredly. “it’s just me and jimin.”

seokjin freezes. “just the two of you?”

“yeah,” he says, defeated.

“why, is that a problem?” yoongi demands.

“covens are usually five or more people, because magic is a thing that’s shared,” seokjin explains, even though his eyes are fully focused on jungkook. “having a small coven is detrimental because that means more power is shared between the members. closer links. it’s never healthy to have two people in a coven, jungkook, and i know you know that. every witch knows that.”

of course jungkook knows that. of course he knows that it’s bad to have such few people in a coven; magic is more than just a thing that’s shared, it’s what links every witch in the world. it’s an essence of their blood that calls them from the deep graves of the earth. magic is what makes witches go out in the rain to see lightning flash before their eyes, touch their temples; magic is what makes witches step into the ocean and let themselves be dragged under, just to feel the water around their fingers; magic is what causes witches to step into the pyre and breathe in the flame. magic is the base of their everything. of course he knows.

that magic needs to be shared, because keeping it in the loop of one person is bad. it builds and builds and builds until it can’t hold itself back any longer. covens help take the ease of that magic off, sharing the power built inside their bodies by circulating it around. jungkook and jimin have been their two man coven since the beginning; they’ve used each other to create their loop, to keep the magic flowing in between them.

and now, jungkook realizes, jimin’s side of the circle has been abruptly cut off.

his face falls into one of pure terror. seokjin makes a small sound of understanding and says, “i’m sorry.”

“what,” yoongi looks between them uneasily, then at namjoon who only shows a troubled, impassive stare, “what are you sorry for? what’s going on? dammit, seokjin-hyung!”

“i’m dying,” jungkook breathes, awake of the words clogging up his throat.

yoongi stills; for an entire moment, jungkook sees his body stay in place. then he gives a harsh laugh. “the fuck you talking about?”

“it’s true,” seokjin says, voice small and sad. he looks much more wrecked than jungkook expected him to be. “because jungkook - covens are - it’s like a life force. big covens means more life to share.” by life, he means magic; they’re one and the same. “and when jimin got poisoned...that’s why jungkook fell ill so quick. his magic began to get poisoned too.”

the silence is overbearing.

“and now, it’s going through his system as well. not as fast, but it’s there.”

“like a tumor,” jungkook explains woodenly. “it’ll just grow with time.”

namjoon, who hasn’t spoken the entire time, clenches his fist. “then we’ll make you better,” he says, voice like steel. his eyes are cold. “seokjin, c’mon.”

“namjoon, now’s not the time.”

“then when is the time?” he snaps. “all these years, and my family was hiding this shit from me? was this the reason - “ he laughs, now, mad and angry, “shit, maybe this was the reason they finally kicked me out, huh? the real reason why i fucking left? i can’t fucking wait to see how this all plays out. and now, now when i have an actual family, actual friends,” his breathing turns ragged, “one of them is possibly on his deathbed.”

jungkook replays the words in his head. “your - your family?”

namjoon turns to him, anger slipping from his face until he’s just an empty, regretful shell. he bows, then, which is the most confusing thing, throwing jungkook completely off his axis -

“my name is kim namjoon, and kim taehyung is my little brother,” namjoon says, looking down at the floor. “and this...you don’t know how sorry i am for this. i am so, so sorry, jungkook.”

he leaves, the door left open behind him. seokjin rushes to follow, calling out his name.

jungkook takes in a deep breath. “i’m so tired of this.”

he expects yoongi to answer, expects yoongi to join in his little pity party or at least give him some company and let him talk for a while, because jungkook still has yet to speak about his odd, odd, dream, but yoongi does neither. instead he bounds forward until he’s meeting jungkook nose to nose, suddenly in his face, arms holding on tightly to jungkook’s biceps.

“don’t ever do that again,” he intones, voice low and gravelly and serious, sounding like he’d just gone through a blender. “don’t - that siren song thing, don’t ever make me fall asleep like that again.”

jungkook watches him with wide eyes, unable to do anything else when he’s this close. “but - you look so much better now, hyung, like you can actually think - “

“i would rather make stupid decisions,” yoongi says unevenly, “than wake up and see you suffering next to me. don’t ever do that again.”

jungkook, mouth dry, can do nothing but nod. yoongi’s eyes pass over his face one more time before he lets go. jungkook lets a breath he didn’t know he was holding; his heart is beating twice per minute in his chest.

“i don’t know if i can let you see jimin, because he might get you sick again,” yoongi tells him, looking shaky and trying so hard to put himself back together, “but i can help you walk around. get yourself used to your legs again. maybe get out of this godforsaken apartment for a while.”

“a-alright,” jungkook replies, dazed.

“i could get you - some ice cream,” yoongi offers, scratching the back of his head. “ah, fuck.”

“ice cream sounds okay, hyung,” and that, at least, seems to help yoongi put his head back on.

he leans over to help jungkook get up; jungkook is wearing different clothes than he remembers wearing a couple of days ago, and he doesn’t feel gross and his hair doesn’t feel oily, so he flushes. he probably has seokjin to thank for that. yoongi stares at his jacket on jungkook’s lap and then looks at the sleep shirt jungkook is wearing, along with his sweatpants. “put that on, you’ll get cold outside.”

“it’s almost summer,” jungkook says incredulously. well, it should be summer, at least. almost. spring should be almost over.

“it’s pretty windy outside,” yoongi tugs the jacket over his shoulders and jungkook puts his arms through them. it’s a nice fit. “c’mon.”

yoongi puts a hand underneath jungkook’s arm and slowly, they get up together. his legs feel a little numb from lack of usage, but all in all, he doesn’t think it’s too bad - that is, until, he gets up on both feet and promptly falls against yoongi’s side.

yoongi hisses and jungkook knows he accidentally grabbed him too hard. “sorry, sorry!”

“don’t be,” yoongi grimaces. “i did it too fast. alright, again.”

this time they succeed in getting jungkook on his feet. after a moment the feeling returns to his legs anyway, and even though he feels a little frail, jungkook knows that yoongi is there to help him stand up.

they practice walking until jungkook gets a better handle of it again, enough to walk fast. yoongi grabs his keys and his phone and his wallet and heads for the door; jungkook passes by jimin’s closed door, vines growing out the sides, and shudders. the irises are still all over the living room, and they’re just a reminder of what jungkook has to face eventually, what he should have faced before things took a turn for the worst.

he sees yoongi tapping something out on his phone - something to seokjin, probably, he can’t hear any of them in his apartment - when jungkook stops behind him. he remembers yoongi’s warm hands on his shoulders and arms, and suddenly, he reaches forward to grab yoongi’s free hand in both of his own.

the older man jerks in surprise and gives jungkook a double raised eyebrow look of surprise.

“i don’t think i can walk quickly yet,” jungkook lies hastily. “hyung, please?”

“yeah,” quietly, yoongi curls jungkook’s hand in his, their palms different in size but still fitting well together. yoongi’s hands are actually kind of big; he’s not wearing any rings or bracelets, and there are calluses all over his fingers. jungkook closes the apartment door behind him and tries not to think of jimin standing in the water.

/

jungkook doesn’t expect the weakness, but it comes in short bursts. one moment, he’ll be fine - the next, his hands will shake and before he knows it, his ice cream cone is falling to the ground. at the sight of his vanilla swirl on the floor, jungkook sighs. his bones feel strangely hollow.

“damn,” yoongi looks down at the mess. “here, have mine - i got two scoops anyway.” yoongi got mint chocolate chip. not jungkook’s favorite, but certainly not something he’d turn away, either.

“how’re you feeling?” yoongi asks carefully.

jungkook flexes his hand and frowns. “i think maybe you should keep it, hyung. i might drop it again.”

“that’s not an answer.”

“anxious,” jungkook admits. “tired. sometimes i feel okay, and then others i want to collapse.”

it’s the poison, jungkook knows. it’s the fact that jimin is at their apartment, barely breathing in his own room. jungkook can’t see him without being affected again, so even checking up on him in person is out of the question. he just - wonders. poisoning like that doesn’t come all at once. it happens over a steady amount of time, building up with the hours. how did jungkook let the signs all pass him by? sure, jimin wasn’t around for much of the time due to his new relationship, but jungkook has known jimin for years - how did he not notice the sickness?

“so, what’s that siren song business about?” yoongi asks him casually, handing over his ice cream for jungkook to sullenly lick.

“you ask so many questions,” jungkook mumbles. “didn’t you ask seokjin-hyung?”

yoongi hits the back of his head lightly; rather than feeling like a hit, it feels more like a caress. yoongi’s fingers card through his hair briefly before letting go. “seokjin’s a bit of a scatterbrain when in the middle of a disaster, if you haven’t noticed. how about this; i ask you a question and you get to ask me a question back, alright?”

jungkook ponders. “okay.”

“so - siren song?”

“well,” jungkook winces as he trips, his knee radiating pain for a second. he motions for the nearest seat to sit down and take a break. “all witches are born with an affinity. we’re all trained in the basics, first - spells and all their magical components, and then the magical elements, and then when we get older - around six or seven, i guess? - whatever your magic responds to most is what kind of witch you are. it’s not always stuff like fire or water, though you can be one of those too.” jungkook knows of a friend of his, yugyeom, who has an affinity for fire. “i could make people do what i wanted with my voice, and i could hear things that no one else could hear. therefore, siren.” jungkook shrugs, remembering the first time he had sang a song with his brother and made him overflow the tub. “i grew up with jimin-hyung, and he was the same as me. there are a lot of us from busan; a bunch of water witches too.”

yoongi takes all this information in carefully. “and seokjin?”

“he’s a hedgewitch. they’re known for being good with herbs and growing things; he probably has a deeper affinity for the earth, if you ask me. maybe he can figure out what to do with all the flowers in our room.” jungkook kicks at the pavement. “i tried, but i’m only ever good at singing.”

“worked wonders for me,” yoongi says lightly, trying to keep the conversation light. jungkook knows it must be a difficult, especially since this same hyung was scolding him about it earlier.

“it’s dangerous,” he responds, looking off in the distance. “so dangerous, hyung...being able to control someone else just by speaking? by singing? me and jimin were so scared when we heard about what others of our kind could do. what they did do.”

there were horror stories of siren witches using their voices to lure people from the shores into the ocean deep. often, witches killed for power - blood is sacred, after all - but some of them did things for the rush, for the longevity, for the ability to bend the world’s will to their fingers. there was one siren witch, in busan, who had convinced a girl to fall in love with him; she stayed in love with him, trapped and confused in her own muggled mind, for ten years until the witch died. when she came to, she was left with a massive debt and a decade of her life gone.

jungkook doesn’t want to say these things to yoongi. he doesn’t want to scare him away.

“you’re not like that,” yoongi begins carefully.

jungkook stays quiet.

“seriously, kid - you’re not fuckin’ like that, alright? you only did that to get me to sleep, because i was and idiot who wor - didn’t catch enough sleep,” he finishes with a grimace. “if anything, it’s my fault, not yours. so just quit your moping. you’re the one that suffered anyway.”

at this, jungkook shrugs. “those are siren songs,” he says instead, finishing up the rest of the cone in his hand and wiping his sticky hands with a tissue. “songs we sing that can get you to do anything. it’s not your fault, hyung,” jungkook turns to him with a slight depreciating smile, “i shouldn’t have done it. you never had a chance.”

it’s kind of ironic how nice the day is. jungkook feels ratty right now, in his pajamas and cloaked in yoongi’s jacket. yoongi is quiet beside him, like he always is, and jungkook kicks his boots again against the pavement. all he wants is for jimin to wake up. maybe he’ll stop feeling like such shit. he had sung to yoongi because he thought it was a good idea at the time - because yoongi looked exhausted and he himself was a little out of his mind and he thought, just for a second, he could do right to someone.

for a moment, jungkook thinks yoongi is going to say something else, like tell him about his “misplaced guilt” - but instead he shocks jungkook by stiffening and stating, “is that kim taehyung?”

jungkook tenses immediately. he looks in the direction yoongi is looking in, and indeed, there is taehyung running toward jungkook at full speed. he starts yelling halfway too, loud instances of “jungkook! jungkookie!”, causing everyone to turn in their direction.

“shit,” he rarely curses, but he figures now is a good time as any. “we have to go.”

“he already saw you,” yoongi points out, just as taehyung ends up in front of them. “jungkookie, i’m so glad i found you, i - “ he pauses when he sees jungkook and the strange - to taehyung, at least - man sitting next to him. immediately, he turns a little embarrassed. “ah, i’m sorry, did i interrupt something?”

jungkook’s first instinct is to say no, but then he remembers seokjin’s words and a flash of betrayal, quick as lightning, passes through him. “yeah,” he says shortly. “sorry, hyung.” he can’t find it in him to be straight out mean, though.

“oh,” taehyung deflates. “well, i just - i just wanted to ask you if jimin was alright?” he bites his lip, and jungkook inhales sharply. “i haven’t - i just haven’t heard from him recently, like in the last few days. he hasn’t been to class, i think, and he hasn’t been answering my texts or calls...i have no idea what to do. is he alright? did -did something happen?”

god, was taehyung really this great of an actor?

jungkook can’t tell. that’s his problem with most people - he can never discern if they’re well meaning or not. he looks into taehyung’s eyes and wonder if this is a man who is trying to steal away his family from him or if this is a man who is genuinely, dearly upset about his missing boyfriend. jungkook doesn’t know if he can trust him, and that’s what hurts the most.

so he stays quiet. he looks down at the floor at their shoes, unable to look taehyung in the eye.

“jungkook,” yoongi’s voice pipes up, “we can leave if you want - “

“one second, hyung,” jungkook responds distractedly. he struggles to get the next words out. “hyung...taehyung-hyung...where were you on monday?”

“monday?” taehyung takes a moment to think about it. “i had class, and then i worked in the store for a couple of hours until closing time. then me and jiminie went and ate dinner at my house - i made stew, so i thought he’d like it! he said he liked - “

“oh god,” jungkook says faintly. tears burn at the back of his eyes. does - is it really taehyung? if he was guilty, how could he be speaking of all these things with such a happy tone?

“it was a nice day - jimin bought me a sunflower from the flower stall nearby, you know the one run by old man shin? they’re my favorite, and he’s been bringing me one every week - “

“what,” jungkook’s head snaps up and his eyes widen. he stumbles to his feet from the park bench; yoongi is standing up next to him in an instant when jungkook trips as he tries to get up. “what did you say?”

taehyung pauses, looking uneasily between jungkook and yoongi. “i said he was..bringing a sunflower every week...”

“no, before that?” jungkook is almost hyperventilating now. “what is - what’s your favorite flower?”

“um, sunflowers?” taehyung says, his answer ending up as a question.

“jungkook, is something wrong?” yoongi asks him urgently, patting his shoulder. “yah - say something!”

for a moment, jungkook just trembles, staring wide-eyed at taehyung. then he blurts, “jimin’s been magically poisoned. he’s super sick, hyung, he’s almost dying at home. you haven’t been here because - because - “

“what,” taehyung cries out, looking stricken. “what - “

“were you supposed to tell him that,” yoongi hisses.

“he didn’t do it, hyung,” jungkook says loudly, unable to control his voice. this, he knows for sure. “he didn’t do it. taehyung-hyung, you need to come back with me.”

it’s a bit of a walk back to his apartment, but it’s made fast by jungkook’s insistence that they both help him on his feet. he stumbles often but they make it there just as fine, bursting through his door where namjoon and seokjin are preoccupied with something in the kitchen. namjoon is holding a box of something in his hands and seokjin is standing over jungkook’s favorite cauldron pot. as soon as namjoon sees taehyung standing at the doorway, the box in his hand drops; a million little cloves fall to the floor.

“kim namjoon!” seokjin yells, struck out of his stupor by the accident.

“hyungnim?” taehyung says weakly from behind him.

“what is he doing here, are you crazy?!” seokjin focuses on taehyung, who is taking in all of their apartment in it’s messy, ruined glory. “jeon jungkook - “

“it’s not him,” jungkook breathes, “his favorite flower - they’re sunflowers.”

seokjin freezes. “w-what?” he turns to namjoon. “doesn’t - isn’t your favorite flower the iris? they grew when i - your entire family - “

“well, my mom hated irises, so that was the only reason i liked ‘em,” namjoon says in a rush. “said they reminded her of dad, but her favorites were always - “

“sunflowers,” taehyung echoes the last part with namjoon. “and grandma’s are irises, too.”

namjoon waves that away. “how could you possibly know that? grandma died before you were born.”

no one notices taehyung still. jungkook, too, looks at namjoon as if he’s seen a ghost. for all intents and purposes, he might just have been for the past year or so. yoongi is the one to notice that something’s wrong with the people next to him, because jungkook’s skin has gone clammy.

“that’s not possible,” jungkook says, brow furrowing. he takes a look at taehyung, who looks like he’s about to faint. “i saw - i saw halmeoni two weeks ago.”

“i made breakfast for her this morning,” taehyung sounds distant.

namjoon steals a glance around. “taehyung, dad hasn’t been with us with since you were born. grandma died while mom was with you; we have no other family other than mom, and god, she’s a certifiable a nutcase.”

“mom died when i was fifteen, after you left,” taehyung chokes. “and grandma - grandma came to pick me up. we moved to seoul and i didn’t have to go to an orphanage - “

“that’s not grandma, taehyung,” namjoon inches a little bit closer, face drawn in guilt and worry.

“ - no,” taehyung whispers, before his voice rises in a yell. “no, you’re wrong! what would you know about family, anyway? you left us! you left everything you had - you left me and you didn’t look back! so i went with - with grandma, and she gave me family - “

“tae,” namjoon winces, trying to get a hold of taehyung’s arm, but the younger rips it away. “did you know about magic before...grandma told you?”

taehyung stops fighting. “n-no.”

“neither did i,” namjoon says softly. “mom never told us that she was a witch. i think it drove her crazy, because she was always alone. do you know what happens to witches who don’t have a coven?” taehyung’s eyes, despite themselves, flicker to jungkook. he knows, alright. “i think - i think that’s why she did the things she did to us. but that woman you’re calling grandma? she’s not our real grandma. the only family we have left,” namjoon exhales bitterly, “is each other. and i - “

taehyung doesn’t let him finish. he steps back until his back hits the door. “you said jiminie was poisoned,” taehyung rasps.

“magical poisoning,” seokjin provides quietly. the space between them feels too open, like a wound. gazing around only reminds jungkook that there’s too much hurt piling up in one place. his stomach rolls, because something doesn’t feel right, and that’s what he’s been thinking about up until the moment namjoon said his grandmother - their grandmother - was dead. “i’m trying to work on the antidote now, but i just - i don’t know what the last component is.”

“what’s in it?” jungkook asks while yoongi helps him sit down on the sofa. when yoongi tries to leave, jungkook latches onto his sleeve to make him stop. he pretends not to notice.

“it’s an ingested type, so it’s barely detected in food. it would be odorless, colorless, and tasteless. the only thing i know is...” seokjin rattles off a list of things jungkook has no familiarity with; it’s obvious that this is something more complicated than he’s ever learned. while seokjin is finishing up, a punched out feeling hits jungkook from the back; it feels like his lungs have been punctured, and he jerks forward despite himself.

“oh my god,” he groans, before coughing up a storm. it’s like his lungs are trying to throw themselves up on his apartment floor; when he comes to, he finds that there’s something red all over his hands. he’d coughed up blood.

seokjin’s breath hitches. “i have to finish this before jimin gets worse, but i still have to figure out what the last - “

wordlessly, taehyung holds out a plucked iris from the wall. it’s a pulsing, gleaming thing, otherworldly. “use this.”

“ah - how would - “

“i know what i’m doing,” taehyung states, face streaked with dry tears. somewhere in the middle of his reunion with namjoon and worrying about jimin, he had begun to cry. “i’ve worked in that shop for a while. i know what i’m doing. put every single petal in and then give it to him - please.”

jungkook coughs up more blood. breathing is starting to become a difficult thing to do.

“it’s done, it’s done,” seokjin hurries to say, yelling as he takes a bowl of the antidote and opens the door to jimin’s room. jungkook is hit with the scent, the - feeling of something rotting. even though he’s all the way in the living room, he cringes.

“yoongi, namjoon, bring jungkook, please!” seokjin yells. “we don’t have time!”

“i can’t,” jungkook feels weak at the thought of walking. it’s like something awful is covering him, covering him whole and digging its way deep inside his pores. “shit, kid, wait,” he hears yoongi’s voice say before namjoon picks him up in a fireman’s carry in one go.

“no, no, i can’t go in there,” jungkook moans, sweat starting to bead on his forehead. “no, please - “

“jungkook, we’ll take care of you, okay? you’ll be fine,” taehyung says from beside him, wrecked. “i’m so sorry, jungkookie - i love you and jimin both, i love you guys - “

jungkook is put down beside jimin on his bed, and he groans. he can’t see how jimin is now, but he does notice the leaves of the irises crawling up the bedside to grab at jimin’s wrists, at different parts of his body. he’s unresponsive. being near him is both a relief and a pain; jimin’s magic recognizes his from this proximity and greedily latches onto it. jungkook can feel it draining out of him.

seokjin opens jimin’s mouth and pours the antidote in, little by little. to jungkook, he says, “sing.”

“hyung, no,” yoongi warns from the end of the bed.

“a siren song,” seokjin prods, voice incredibly soft. distantly, as jungkook coughs again, he thinks that seokjin would be a wonderful doctor one day. “sing him awake, jungkook.”

“i can’t,” he says weakly. his body feels numb. the blackness, the darkness spreading inside jimin - it’s spreading inside him too. he doesn’t think he can sing right now.

“if we don’t pull him out of wherever he is inside his mind, there’s a chance he might not wake up,” seokjin continues in that same voice. there’s an anguished cry from somewhere beside him that’s most probably taehyung. “please, please try.”

jungkook looks for something inside of him; a distant, almost forgotten tune. anything. he thinks of making jimin jump in the water. he thinks of burying himself in the sand.

quietly, he starts singing. his voice is hoarse and awful and he probably sounds like a screeching violin, but he sings, skin turning cold, color washing from his face.

“he’s waking up!” taehyung cries, voice loud and etched with relief.

“good job, jungkook,” seokjin praises him; jungkook sees a watery smile before the last notes of his own weave out. spots dance in front of his eyes.

“the irises are disappearing,” namjoon says in wonder.

jungkook wishes he could see it. as it is, as he continues to sing, the air starts to deplete from his lungs. the last few notes are a wheezing, soft thing.

“jungkook?” yoongi starts, alarmed.

from beside him, jungkook hears jimin wake up with a huge inhale of breath. he smiles before he shuts his eyes.

/

“you scared the shit out of me,” is the first thing jungkook hears when he wakes up. for maybe the fourth or fifth time this week, who the hell knows? he’s been unconscious for the most of it, he feels. there’s a familiar sniff from his right. “goddammit, jeon jungkook.”

“not fair, hyung,” jungkook croaks, “you were the one that got poisoned.

“that was not my fault,” jimin shoots back. jungkook opens his eyes and finds that he doesn’t feel weak or tired at all; just a bit winded, like he woke up from a nap that went on for too long. he sits up and settles his back against the wall.

jimin looks worse than he does; he looks like he’s still going through the process of recovery. his hair is limp. shadows take cover underneath his eyes, and his lips are chapped and pale. he himself looks thinner, wan, and flushed out.

“i’m going to make you chocolate cake,” jungkook promises, and that, at least, gets a grin out of him.

“mom used to make me cake when i got sick,” jimin reminisces wistfully. “i should probably call her.”

it’s a quietly agreed thing between them; neither of them will tell their parents. at all.

“who was it?” jimin asks, looking down at his bandaged wrists. “the hyungs and taehyung, they won’t tell me who it is. i’ve been here for three days and they won’t say a word about it; namjoon hyung and taehyung said they would ‘take care of it’, along with hyung’s boyfriend. can you believe namjoon and tae are related?”

“kismet,” is all jungkook has to say.

“the spirits love fucking with us,” jimin agrees.

“i was out for three days?”

“sleeping like a baby,” he’s told cheerfully. “here, have this tea. seokjin-hyung told me to give it to you when you woke up.” jimin picks up a cup of tea on his bedside table before frowning. “what’s this book, kookie?”

“some random magic book i found in the library while i was trying to research,” jungkook takes the cup. “i completely forgot about it until now.”

jimin leans forward, and traces his fingers over the cover of the book. there’s a leather rune in the front that jungkook assumed was a family rune or something. he takes a sip of the tea seokjin left for him and sighs in happiness; it tastes wonderful.

“i know this,” he says quietly. “jungkookie - i know this symbol.”

“a fire symbol?” jungkook mulls over his tea.

“no,” jimin swallows. “this was the symbol that taehyung’s grandmother had all over her house. whenever i went over for dinner, she would have this etched into the door molding, the corners - i felt them everywhere. i don’t think i can forget them.”

jungkook sets down the tea cup. “hyung...they're pretty sure it’s taehyung’s grandmother who - “

“i know,” jimin cuts him off. “taehyung wouldn’t stop apologizing. he got on his knees and - “ jimin’s voice breaks. “ - asked for my forgiveness. i wish i didn’t have to see that, jungkook. i think a part of me broke at hearing him cry.”

jungkook closes his mouth.

jimin rubs at his face. “what a clusterfuck this week has been. and i thought i just got the flu, or something.”

at this jungkook gives him a look, because not once in all the years jimin has ever lived, never once did he ever get the flu. allergies, colds, viruses, and sometimes the odd diarrhea, yes (jimin talked too much about himself late at night) but never the flu. yet he always goddamn insists.

at his look, jimin shuffles in his chair and huffs. “whatever.”

“shouldn’t you be resting,” jungkook snorts.

“good thing about being in a small coven,” jimin pokes his nose. “is that even though you get sick quicker, you heal quicker too. thanks for being my magical powerhouse backup.”

“any day, hyung,” and jungkook smiles, wide and bright and really kind of meaning it. “did you figure out why irises grew instead of sunflowers?”

“apparently it was a love potion at first,” jimin smiles bitterly. “the old hag got me with some airborn spell. it didn’t help that tae, apparently, already had a crush on me.” he looks to jungkook for validation.

“boy, did he,” jungkook snorts.

“yeah, well,” jimin shrugs jerkily. “i was trying to come into my own feelings when it happened. she caught me in her grasp because i kept coming back for tae. he blames himself for having feelings for me.” jimin licks his upper lip, hesitantly continuing, “but when i took a step this morning, a sunflower grew.”

jungkook smiles, eyes crinkling. again, he says, “kismet.”

that, at the very least, makes the other laugh. who would have known - jimin actually falling in love with taehyung after all this? there will be problems, jungkook knows. there’s going to be questions of truthfulness and trust but jungkook thinks that they’ll be able to get through it. there’s always going to be questions that have yet to be answered.

“so,” jimin leans forward and raises a suggestive eyebrow. “yoongi-hyung, huh?”

for some reason, jungkook’s face burns red. probably an after effect of the - the poisoning, he reasons to himself. “what about yoongi-hyung?”

“don’t play this game with me, jeon jungkook,” jimin scoffs. “you know exactly what i mean. he barely left this apartment when you were sleeping and namjoon told me - in secret, of course - that he was a bit of a veritable mess when you collapsed over the phone. went batshit and dragged both him and seokjin-hyung to our place.”

jungkook is pretty sure even his ears are red now.

“you liiiiike him,” jimin sings, a wide, teasing grin on his face. “you have a cruuuuuuush on him - “

“shut up,” he hisses, eyes flickering to the door where yoongi might be.

jimin gives him a judgemental look. “please. he’s in twilight levels of love with you. it’s kind of obvious.” here, he pauses. “well, not obvious in a typical human being kind of way, but obvious in a yoongi-hyung kind of way. he’s a little bit of a dork when it comes to relationships.”

“hyung, please stop,” jungkook mutters, rubbing at his flaming cheeks.

“are you kidding you’re adorable when you have a crush. i’m never letting this go. this day is going down in my phone calendar: the day jeon jungkook started dating min yoongi.

“we’re not dating!”

yet.”

jungkook has half a mind to dump his tea over jimin's head.

but there is something terrifying inside his stomach, something like butterflies that keep on fluttering inside of him whenever he thinks too long about how he feels. so jungkook looks down at his lap and mutters, “how do you even know he likes me back? it’s just a crush.”

a stupid, seemingly baseless crush. he just liked the way yoongi smelled, the way he listened to jungkook talking, the way he put his hand on jungkook’s shoulder - an anchor to keep him steady. he liked yoongi’s intense stare that made jungkook feel like the only person in yoongi’s world. he likes all these little things about yoongi; his scent, his hands, his low chuckle. that just keep growing with time.

jimin makes an unattractive sound. “you’re such a dumbass.”

you’re a dumbass,” jungkook snarks.

“he’s just different around you,” jimin says abruptly. he crosses his arms and leans back. “with us, me and namjoon, it takes effort to get his attention if it’s not something about music. but you - whenever you’re there, it’s like you’re the only thing he can focus on. he’s - i dunno, softer around you. you know what i mean. he’s different. it’s there, i can feel it. maybe i don’t know how you guys are together, but i know something about you changes him.”

jimin leans forward and works his fingers into a couple of movements. jungkook starts, alarmed. “hyung, you shouldn’t be - “

jimin lets out a soft little hum. in his hands is a small ball of condensed air, spinning all around each other like chasing children. it’s a trick jimin did for him often when they were children. the air turns into smoky figures that move the way jimin wants to; their personal picture show, right there in the middle of the room.

“maybe it’s not love,” jimin says, when he brings up a little figurette of yoongi, slumped to the side, his head knocked over as he sleeps on their couch. “but maybe it can be. i want you to be happy. does he make you happy?”

he does. jungkook doesn’t know why.

jimin grins, pats his hand, and stumbles only once when he leaves the room.

/

despite everything that’s happened, seokjin comes back with bad news; taehyung’s grandmother has disappeared. they’ve deduced that she came from a coven of powerful witches that trace their lineage back to the old days of witchhood, when all of them would still be hunted in the dead of the night with swords and torches. the iris, seokjin says, is a symbol of their coven. namjoon’s father had been a non magic user born from one of the coven members, probably, and the story of namjoon and taehyung’s mother, how their father abandoned her when she didn’t have children with the gift -

seokjin doesn’t tell it more than once. namjoon never knew his mother was magic; taehyung only learned about the other world later on. the grandmother is gone; the shop left in the disarray that it once was. most of the materials are gone. taehyung doesn’t know what to do, but jimin puts their foreheads together and promises him that they’re in it together.

there are still no clear answers. where did the book come from, and how did jungkook get a hold of it? what is this awful coven trying to take magic from sparse witches across seoul? so many questions that have yet to be answered. jungkook hopes one day they’ll have to answer for their crimes, but for now, he hands paper charms around the apartment and prays to the spirits and asks that nothing touches the people he cares about.

jimin is still a little too worn out to go to school, so taehyung moves in for a moment - sleeping in jimin’s room, obviously - and takes care of him while he can. yoongi, namjoon, and seokjin have been taking turns sleeping on the sofa and on the floor, apparently.

“thank you so much,” jungkook can’t stop bowing to seokjin, who literally came over to save a stranger - even though he didn’t have to. “thank you so much, hyung, i’m forever in your debt. please, if you ever - “

“stop it,” seokjin smacks him on the shoulder and then brings him in for a hug. “after i’ve seen you throw up twice and cough blood we’re pretty much family. none of that grateful stuff, alright? you’re such a strong kid.”

“ditto,” namjoon says fondly, ruffling jungkook’s hair as he takes himself and seokjin and returns back to his apartment. jungkook knows he and taehyung have traded numbers after losing contact for so long.

the apartment feels empty without those two there. taehyung and jimin are in their rooms, and yoongi looks like he’s preparing to get his stuff to leave, too. jungkook has changed and showered, feeling a little bit more like himself again.

something in him rises up in a panic when he sees yoongi take his keys and wallet. somehow, this feels like an awful goodbye. what if they go back to their lives, and everything will be like what it was before? none of those quick glimpses of peace when yoongi is around. no more moments of brief stillness where the world is calm and he doesn’t have to let the million thoughts in his brain - in the air - weigh so heavily on him.

jungkook grabs yoongi’s hand, curling his fingers around his palm. yoongi jerks to a stop.

“hyung, do you want to stay over for coffee?” jungkook asks slowly, and yoongi cocks his head. he gives jungkook that look again, the same look that speaks of something more than just a casual like. a possibility of more. yoongi’s hand is warm in his and jungkook feels electricity at his touch.

“will it be that coffee you make that’s fuckin’ out of this world?”

jungkook smiles. “i could try.”

he flicks his fingers and the coffeemaker turns on. the fridge opens and the milk carton pours itself into a pot that’s magically gone from the cupboard onto the lit stove. the jar with coffee beans opens and empties into the coffeemaker.

yoongi laughs, open and amused. “no wonder i found you so bewitching,” he says.

jungkook flushes. “awful. that was awful.”

“you found it charming,” he shrugs carelessly, sitting back down on jungkook’s sofa like he belongs.

i did, jungkook thinks. he takes a step to sit next to yoongi on the sofa and a shoot blooms from the heel of his feet; another step, another stem. leaves curl out of hiding and a soft red bloom opens in the middle. it fades out to wide, six tepals, curling toward yoongi.

he sits next to yoongi and putting his head on the elder’s shoulder. yoongi leans down and brushes his mouth against jungkook’s ear. “it’s called amaryllis,” he murmurs. jungkook understands; yoongi’s favorite flower.

around them, jungkook’s magic runs rampant, cleaning up everything that’s happened in the past few days, leaving jungkook and yoongi sitting calmly in the eye of the storm. the wind whistles a siren song of home.

/