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The Viper and His Bunny

Chapter Text

April 13th

“Ah!” Jimin shouted excitedly, gun still pointed at the lifeless body flopped over on the ground. “Guess we’re gonna have some fun today, boss!”

Taehyung shared a smile with him, locking eyes, cracked his neck, and bullets flew. Henchmen scattered around them, guns held up with shaky hands and sturdy ones alike, some ducking for cover, others going in blind and hoping a stray bullet may graze the Viper.

Taehyung cocked his gun back, aimed it straight for the eyes of a brave soul, blew his brains out, and ordered, “Take the whole damn place! You see anyone, you kill them! The Opalites are ours!”

The men belonging to the Violet dynasty took stance and let the fire pump through their veins. Killing was what they did best, going at burst speeds to find their first victims.

Jimin planted a foot on a dead man’s back and eyed up loud gunfire from the left hallway, weary of it finding them.

“I’m gonna head for the top. The men will take the middle.”

“I’ll get below, then,” Taehyung said, beginning to walk backwards, gun held up square to his blood stained shoulder. “See ya on the other side.”

Jimin saluted him, winked, and turned on his heel. “Don’t get lost down there!”

With his gun held securely by his hip and eyes darted in alert, Jimin hurried for the first stairwell, remembering it briefly from the blueprints. He turned the hallway, pulled his gun up at rapid speeds, and fired two shots.

Taehyung waited for him to keep moving, and when he did, he bounced back with a grin. He never had to worry about Jimin. The boy was born with a natural talent and instinct to dodge bullets and fire them like none other.

Taehyung headed for the stairs to the basement. To his knowledge, there were two options for entrance, and the nearest was on the other side of the warehouse. Gunshots fired all around him, his own men came up under his feet as a rarity, and his gun raised quickly to point in between eyebrows, but chaos never had an affect on his thought process anymore.

He thought clearly, kept a sharp eye, and found his way to the lower floor entrance with a visual stapled in his brain from the blueprints.

The first turn he came across, three men were waiting it out. They squatted against the corner of the hallway, guns poised by their heads, and index fingers at the ready. He stumbled to a stop, and scoffed.

“Oh, you didn’t think the fight would stay up there did you?” Taehyung asked with pity. “All that digging and breathing in dirt chip away at your brains or something?”

One of the men shakily raised his gun. They were slumped in baggy clothing and dirty skin, covered in brown grime. The only glint they ever saw were the jewels they dug up. These weren’t mobsters. They were workers.

“Y—You’re the Viper,” he said anxiously.

“Bingo. Hey, don’t go pointing that thing if you don’t know how to work it,” Taehyung scolded, waving his own gun to the side to coax him into lowering his. “You work with the boys up top?”

“We dig. That’s all.”

Another piped up. “We haven’t done anything to you. We just get the gems and go. Please.”

Taehyung sighed. Morals and all that bullshit. They were involved, minimally, but they weren’t in the business of selling on the blackmarket or smuggling into other countries. He huffed up at the ceiling.

“Don’t make this hard on me. I don’t have the time.” He nodded towards the door behind him. “Go. Now. My men may kill you, but that’ll be your fault if you’re not quick enough. Get out.”

Two men stood, knees wobbling and knocking, but one stayed squatted. One curious eye from Taehyung and he spoke with a shiver to his words.

“If they find out we did this…”

Taehyung slowly shut his eyes, shaking his head. The two men cooperating, their hearts pounded in the hallway, eyes flying to that bouncing gun.

“Oh, you just had to go and do that. We aren’t playing a game of tug-a-war. I don’t have time to babysit you while the whole damn place blows up around us. If you can’t tell, I’m a little busy.” He raised his gun, tilting his head. “Tsk, tsk. Should take a hand when it’s given to you.”

“No, wait—”

Three gunshots rang through the hallway, and Taehyung spit the metal out of his mouth, hopping over their bodies. He was the only man on the lower floors, plus or minus one of his minions who might stray from the plan.

After the reluctance of the first man he tried to save, he threw all courtesy out the window. Normally he didn’t wear that one on his sleeve much anyways. Practicing murder didn’t work well when courtesy joined the party. He blew away at any man he saw.

The Viper made a name for himself for how inhumanly and inhumanely he fired a bullet into a man’s body, pulling the trigger just as soon as his eyes darted to the side. He was trigger happy, grinned in the act, and moved with nothing more than a smooth, lawless, and vicious instinct. He drew his weapon faster than anyone could touch theirs.

He turned every corner with a vengeance to kill. Blood cradled every turn of the wall, splattered the floors, and leaked from the cries of a dying man’s last sound.

Silver hair untouched but navy blue button-up reddened at the cuff, he sprayed his way to the back of the lower floor, marking his path with the color scarlet. It was darker back here, no artificial lighting. The further back he got, the more he relied on the natural lighting from the windows above.

All around him were giant containers that would’ve found their way to a freight ship if it weren’t for the meddling Violets blowing down their front doors and mowing down their men. He meandered through the containers, listening for footsteps.

Guns fired further back. His men had cleared the middle floor and were conjoining downward. It was all part of the plan, because no one was meant to flood the upper floors. Best not to get in the way of Jimin.

He could see the back wall, he was gaining on it, when he found a couple strands of straw. Then more. Until the metal floor turned into the ground of a barn stall.

He destroyed a man’s shoulder, shattered it to pieces, and rounded around a container, flattening his back to it.

He could hear voices. One of them was of his men. The others were not. It was louder towards the entrance. They were about to have a war on their hands. Gun held up to his chest and ready to fire, he turned hard around the corner, where all of the last containers convened to the end of the lower floor, and came face to face with no soldier.

But against the wall, that was a different story. A story with hundreds of pages, one that he was curious of reading instead of the bland two-pages of the Opalites.

Against the wall was a boy tangled up in chains. A rabbit hybrid. In fluffy brown hair, short, white bunny ears sprouted up. Taehyung assumed a poofy tail came along with the set, but he couldn’t see from there.

Girthy, metal cuffs strapped to his ankles were connected to the ground by linked chains, heavy and giant compared to his bony body. Rope binded his wrists together. Blood smeared across his arms from irreparable damage left from rubbing his skin raw.

The poor thing was all skin and bones, eyes wide and absolutely fucking terrified. His chest heaved in short bursts, crawling back against the wall, searching for some type of sanctuary away from the scary man with the gun and bloody clothes.

Taehyung was still coming to terms with a hybrid being hidden away in the dark when he really focused his pupils and saw through the dim lighting.

Unfortunate. The only thing he wore was an oversized black shirt. Something told Taehyung that shirt once fit him properly, before they starved him of it. No pants, no boxers, and dark red and dried up brown coated the inside of his thighs. He hadn’t been cleaned for at least a week, stains from his sexual abuse and rough treatment mingling well with dirt and grime.

The bloody thighs didn’t come alone. Bruises littered his body like confetti. Handprints, fingerprints, marks the size of fists and shoes. Dried blood leaked from one of his eyebrows and his lip was busted in the inner corner.

He’d been tortured, misused, and left in the dark. There was no bathroom around. Two buckets lined the wall, and a strong stench wafted from them. Taehyung put two and two together and felt his heart twitch for the first time in years.

Jimin and Namjoon didn’t count. They started this with him. They were family. If anyone touched a hair on their heads, Taehyung would stuff them in a drum and drown them in wet concrete and feed their feet to the fish.

But the Viper hadn’t felt anything for anyone else since the day his mother was beaten to death by calloused, drunk knuckles, and he shot his father dead for it.

This hybrid took his heart and squeezed it in his little hands. He had these big, pearl eyes that just looked like a night sky. Big and black with sparkles painted in. And his folded ears plucked at his heartstrings.

He was first and foremost in disbelief that it was a rabbit hybrid. They were thought to be eradicated in all of Asia, and just barely hanging onto a thread in the Americas. They'd been killed off for their wares. Their ears, feet, tail, and fur were a hot product in the underground markets for decades. The ever decreasing population was discovered too late, and the species couldn't be saved. Sweeping the lands for rabbit hybrids, it became all too prevalent that humans had killed the breed off. Any living specimen found was treasured, and if not owned by a human who declined to give up ownership, rabbit hybrids were held in research facilities to attempt to revive the population.

To see one treated like a mere oyster compared to the pearl it was baffled Taehyung. He saw countless things in his travels, but he'd never seen such ignorance like this. A dying breed that had just recently spawned a worldwide amber alert and the Opalites were keeping him just on the edge of living. Like massacring the last northern white rhino just for the hell of it.

Taehyung lowered his gun. Footsteps grew closer. He could hear his man’s voice, then another, then a stranger’s.

“Hey,” Taehyung said softly, approaching the boy like the wild animal he may very well be. “Hey, there. Don’t worry any. I’m not gonna hurt you. Hurting a little bunny like you wouldn’t show much, ya know?”

He got closer, winced at the whimper the small thing made as it squashed its face against the wall. He got lower, holding one hand up and clearly showing his gun, promising safety, when shoes scuffled across the floor.

Taehyung looked in the corner of his eye, snapped up, and shot his gun back into the air, pointing it straight at the Opalite who skidded to a stop, not expecting to fall upon the Viper of all people.

“You. How long this hybrid been here?”

“I don’t know. Been here since I started working a couple years ago.”

Taehyung scoffed. “He been in this bad of shape the whole time?”

“Don’t know, Viper. He’s just here for stress relief. Gotta have some fun when you don’t have a girl waiting for you at home, yeah?” The man cocked back his gun, smirking like he’d already won. “I’ll have a good go at him after I take you—”

Taehyung shot him in the mouth. He didn’t want to hear another word, and the only way to assure that was to smash his tongue into smithereens. The hybrid jumped, scattering to cover his eyes.

Taehyung frowned, lowering his gun. Persuading the hybrid that he wasn’t a threat was nearly impossible when he had to go blowing jaws apart.

“It’s okay. I’m not—”

Another pair of footsteps. Taehyung took two back, watched as he was flanked on both sides, and ducked. He took a shot for the one on the left and pushed himself away from the bullet he expected from the right. On his shoulder and gun pointed towards the expected threat, Taehyung slumped in confusion when the offender dropped dead.

Jimin bounced around the corner, shoulders sagging in relief when he saw his leader untouched. He looked around them in distinct clarity, gun ready to fire.

“Pay attention, would ya? I don’t have time to be saving your ass.”

“Sorry. I’m a little tied up here,” Taehyung sighed, pulling himself back up to his feet with a finger pointed to the hybrid cowering in the corner.

Jimin saw him, took in his God awful condition, and dropped his head back. “Ah, hell. You gotta be kidding me.”

“Nope.”

“Well, fucking, listen. I don’t know what they’re feeding these sons of bitches, but they keep multiplying. They’ve cornered us in the lower floors. I’m about to go over there and break it up.”

“Good. That means by the time I get this little guy out of those chains, you’ll have the situation under control.”

Jimin raised his eyebrows. “You’re leaving all of it to me?”

“You don’t need me. You’ve got this. I take care of this, you go take down an army.” Taehyung shoved his gun into his holster, taking this hybrid thing seriously. “You’ve done it before. Easy-peasy.”

The blonde heaved a sigh, shot one look from Taehyung to the shivering hybrid, then knocked his head to the side. His tongue darted out, and his trigger finger tensed.

“Give me ten minutes. I’ll have it cleared so you can figure out what the hell you’re gonna do with the easter bunny.” Jimin had a desolate look when he peered at what could only be described as a warzone, preparing himself. “You owe me dinner for this.”

“Breakfast in bed. How’s that sound?”

“Fucking peachy,” Jimin grumbled, and went in head first.

Taehyung waited until Jimin was out of sight and in the middle of the scrimmage before he got back down on the ground. He had eyes on the cowering hybrid, but ears on their surroundings. An Opalite could come around the corner at any time if they slipped past Jimin.

“Listen. I’m not here to hurt you.” Taehyung squatted down a couple feet from him, ducking down to look into his eyes. “I can see what they’ve done to you. They haven’t taken care of you, little guy. This is no life for you.”

He took a step closer. The hybrid scrunched his shoulders up, covering up everything but his round, startled eyes. His fringe swept past his eyebrows, and his legs desperately tried to conceal his bottom half. It wasn’t working, but Taehyung kept his eyes up.

“You don’t have to be scared of me. I know I look like a very scary man coming in here with a gun and shooting people, but it’s because these are bad people. You already know that, though, don’t you?” Taehyung asked, another step closer. He was in touching range. “They haven’t been good to you. They’ve hurt you very bad. I don’t… I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m not going to leave you in here all alone, okay?”

Hands held up cautiously, Taehyung slowly lowered one, fingers spread out, until he touched one of the ankle cuffs. The hybrid’s breath hitched, eyes darting to the intrusive touch. It wasn’t anything intimate or over the line, but Taehyung imagined any touch led to painful consequences in this warehouse.

“Everyone in this place will be dead soon, but you. If you don’t come with me, you’ll starve to death. No one will be here to take care of you. But I can take you out of here. It’s really the only option here, little one.”

“You… you… hurt me?”

Oh, his voice. It was just darling. High-pitched and airy, light like the dust particles in the air. It was wet. Tears breached the corners of his eyes.

“No, no, just the opposite. I won’t hurt you. I don’t want anything from you, okay? I just can’t leave you here to die. That’s all.” Taehyung wasn’t too good at this whole good guy thing, but he was trying. “I need you to let me do that. I don’t want to fight you.”

The hybrid reluctantly nodded. There wasn’t a bone in his body that would let him say no regardless. It had been beaten out of him a long time ago.

“Good, good. Can you tell me your name?”

“Jungkook.”

“Jungkook. My name is Taehyung. I’m going to shoot these chains off of you and I need you to stay very still for me. Can you do that?”

The hybrid, now known as Jungkook, nodded with unsure breathing and shaking hands. He had his eyes glued to the chains, then the gun that seemed at home in Taehyung’s hand, then the chains all over again. He was going to pass out if he kept looking around like that.

“Cover your face.”

Taehyung waited for him to take the order to heart, covered his foot with his hand, and aimed the gun. Further down the line of individual chains, he hoped for the love of God that nothing sprayed back and injured the hybrid. His rescue mission would skyrocket in difficulty in a matter of seconds.

He squeezed the trigger. Jungkook shouted, curdling his face back into the wall, shaking like a leaf.

“You’re doing good. Stay right there.” He didn’t give the warning for the second chain. That would only make Jungkook flinch before he heard the gunshot. He shot the next set of chains, and winced at the second cry of fear. “Good job. The loud noises are over. Let me see your hands.”

The hybrid followed his orders nicely, keeping their train running smoothly. He was thankful for it. Rescuing a damsel in distress was less fun when the distress was embodied by a brat.

He whipped out his knife, long and recently sharpened by his blacksmith. Nervousness swirled the hybrid’s eyes when he lined the knife up in between his wrists, and took a good hold on them. They were already bruised from other hands, and the caked up blood made him slip.

Jungkook was whimpering now.

“I know. They hurt, huh? Bastards probably never took these off, did they?” A shake of the head urged him to shell out a couple more rounds for the hell of it. “Stay still. I don’t want to cut you.”

The thick ropes took a good few measures of sawing, but eventually he was able to take one swipe upward and freed the hybrid of his restraints. He was wholly free. Not a single string tied him down.

“Are you able to walk?” Jungkook shook his head, ducking his head. He hadn’t been on his feet in so long he’d forgotten what it felt like. “Okay,” Taehyung sighed, looking around them. “Okay. We can work with that. I’m going to carry you out of here. Do not fight me. You do that and things are going to change real fast, got it?” Jungkook nodded. “Good. Glad we’re on the same page.”

He took another good look at the poor sight of a living being and felt those weird moral things poking up their ugly heads. The boy didn’t have a lick of dignity without any pants on. He couldn’t just wave him around in front of his men like that. The boy had been through enough.

He made up his mind, started patting his clothes, then decided on which one he was willing to part with. He pulled his shirt off over his head, and got to work with unbuttoning it.

“Here,” he said, handing it to the hybrid. “Put this around your hips and button it up. You’ve had enough people stare at you.”

Jungkook took it with beady eyes and did as he was told, growing shy when he found this strange human pointedly looking away. His bare torso was hot with a thin sheen of sweat, accompanied with enough scars to catch Jungkook’s attention.

He finished buttoning it up as much as he could in the midst of a gang war. The small sound he made magnetized Taehyung’s attention once again.

“We have to go. We can’t be here much longer. The lower floor is too dangerous.” Taehyung kneeled next to him, and waved at him to come closer. “You need to hold on to me very tightly because I might still need my gun.”

He braced Jungkook by his knees and his shoulders, keeping his holstered gun on tabs. “Hands around my neck, very tightly. There you go.” He lifted them from the ground, and the shackles looked lonely in the bedding of hay.

This was the farthest the hybrid had been from his jail cell in years. He hadn’t felt air move around him, or the sun actually shift from one part of his body to the next. He may as well have been rendered paralyzed.

“No matter what happens, you don’t try to run from me. You stay right here. I can handle the rest. You understand, little one? No scurrying, no screaming. I need to focus.”

Jungkook nodded into his neck, tightening his arms. He wouldn’t be the reason that this man failed. They cut the container’s corner and Jungkook saw a different part of the world. He’d gotten well acquainted with his three freight containers and buckets.

The gunfire was deafening again. He’d been distracted by a human speaking to him without sneaking a hand up his thigh bravely. He couldn’t cover his ears this time.

Taehyung kept a close eye on every corner. The containers were trap infested, every which way a perfect destination for an enemy to camp out and wait for him to turn into their aim, distracted and heavy with a hybrid in his arms.

The gunfire sounded between only a few spare guns now, no where near the dozen. The war was coming to an end. Taehyung rushed to Jimin’s side, who hid behind a container with his gun up and poised.

Jimin huffed. “About time you showed up.”

“You’ve cleared them out nicely.”

“You gave me ten minutes. I still have two left. I’ve just been keeping them occupied waiting on your slow ass.”

“Well, stop holding us up. You’re playing with your food, Jimin.”

“I know.” He smiled. “You know I can’t help it.” His eyes flickered down to the shell shocked hybrid that flinched at every gunshot, blinking curiously. “Hey there, bunny. Guess you’re an official Violet. Welcome to our after school club.”

“Leave him alone and do your damn job.”

Jimin shrugged with a devious, little grin playing on his face. He eased toward the edge, cocking his head to the side. “Oh, you act like you don’t know me at all,” and spun into the clearing, into the eye of every gun trained on him.

Jimin took out the first man in sight, clipping his cheekbone with pure metal, and strode to the side, ducking under a bullet that flew past his head, and shot at a hiding figure. Two shots and he landed one due to the sound of a limp body smacking concrete floor.

He heard a trigger snap. He dropped to the floor, propelled himself back with his foot, and aimed up in the air, catching the glint of a gun in the rafters. He shot quicker than a hawk dove for a field mouse. Deadweight dropped twelve feet to the floor.

Jimin huffed and lowered his gun to his lap and his head to the floor. “Could’ve told me about the ceiling guy!”

“Figured you already knew,” Taehyung said, and reeled out of hiding, the exit in his sight. “Anyone else alive besides you?”

“Oh, yeah. Plenty. Just told them to get the hell out of here before we wasted all of that ammo.” He drug himself up to his feet. “The rest of the floors are clear as far as I know. We’ll do a sweep before we leave.”

Taehyung gazed around at all of his men resting outside of the warehouse, tending to their wounds and sharing stories. Packing up the dead.

“I don’t trust them. You stay back and make sure every head has a bullet in it. I have to take care of this.”

“Yeah, about that, you got any idea on what you’re planning? You don’t strike me as a hybrid type of guy.” Jimin strode next to him, hand on his holster. “You’re playing hero, I got that part, but what’s next?”

“I haven’t thought that far yet. I just know we can’t leave him back there. I’ll figure something out.”

“Sure you will,” Jimin said, eyes coasting. “You always do. Most of the time. Sometimes.” He sighed. “Eh, every now and then.”

“You ever shut your trap?”

“Haven’t yet, sugarplum. Don’t hold your breath. Makes me nothing short of perfect for interrogations, though.” Jimin stopped next to him at their cargo. “Let me know what you decide on. I’ll do a sweep.”

“I will. Be careful.”

“Will do. And hey,” Jimin called out to him as guards swarmed around their boss, catering him towards his car. “Take care of that thing. Looks like it’s been through hell and back.”

Problem was, Taehyung didn’t know how to take care of anything but a Russian, cigarette smoking mobster who smuggled himself into South Korea to start a market for his all new heart-stopping drugs.

Certainly not a hybrid.


He’d raised the partition after situating Jungkook in the car. Home wasn’t too far from here, but the real question was where Taehyung planned to bring the hybrid.

The headquarters were where his men were based. It would be a safe place to house the boy until further decisions were made. But their headquarters wasn’t just the home of his rough and tough men, and the location where they planned their raids and hits, but also where they kept prisoners.

Where they tortured them. Executed them. Dipped them in acid, cut their fingers into carrot slices, plucked out their teeth like corn on the cob.

Headquarters was where Taehyung housed his worst enemies (worth capturing and killing). Keeping Jungkook under the same roof was worrisome. He trusted his men to keep their prisoners of mafia wars under lock and key, but he wasn’t a hundred percent sure about putting a defenseless, already battered hybrid into the mix.

If a prisoner got out, his men could handle themselves. If Jungkook were caught in the crosswires, he could be stolen, or hurt, or taken. Or killed.

But taking the boy to his home was an equally as idiotic decision that could lead his enemies straight to his door. They could have planted a tracking device, or had him wired up. His home was secluded and so far untouched. Bringing this hybrid home could plunge him into a whole new world of hurt.

The thing seemed harmless so far. It was only what might be on his body that concerned Taehyung. He couldn’t very well go stripping him down and giving him a cavity search though. Even he would feel demonic if he did that to a wounded animal.

He craned his head back and sighed. Choices, choices. He had to make one soon.

“You said your name is Jungkook?”

The hybrid nodded. He sat politely in his seat, one away from Taehyung, hands in his lap and eyes on the ground. He was out of his element, lost in all of this nice leather and hi-tech gadgets. He ached everywhere.

“Yes.”

“So, Jungkook, can you tell me what those men were up to having you there?”

Jungkook fidgeted. “I don’t know. I only saw… one. Just one… not all at once.”

“One at a time?” Taehyung helped him. Being locked up in the dark for years and never spoken to could carve a vocabulary down to the bare bones.

“Yes. Just hurt me. I don’t know why they kept me.”

“I have an inkling,” Taehyung said. “And it isn’t good. They only had you for one reason, little one. To use you. They never spoke business with you?”

Jungkook shook his head, ducking his head. “No. I don’t know anything.”

“I’m gonna ask you something, and you need to think very clearly and carefully for me, okay?” He waited for a nod. “Think back. Have they ever put something on or in you? Like, an object.”

The hybrid nodded, and oh hell, Taehyung almost rolled down the petition to tell the driver to stop the car and throw the hybrid on the side of the road. He was already regretting it, taking a deep breath to seal his heart shut and null the emotions, when Jungkook elaborated.

“Not on me. In me. A… a lot of things, but I don’t want to say what. Please don’t make me.”

“No,” Taehyung said in misery, massaging at his temple. What the hell did he get himself into. “Not like that. It would be very, very small. Maybe a blinking light? Metal.”

Jungkook’s ears perked up. “Oh. Nothing like that.”

“And nothing on you, right?”

“No.”

“Have they ever drugged you? Put you under so you didn’t know what they were doing while you slept?”

“They have, b—but I don't think they put anything like that in me."

“Right. Okay,” Taehyung said in relief. “So they aren’t tracking you. No one should’ve lived, but just in case… Jungkook, how long have they had you?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t know time. Just the sun and the moon.” His big ol’ eyes blinked down at his hands. “Long.”

“Were they always so horrible to you?”

“I think so. I don’t remember before.” His perked up ears folded rather quickly. “I’m sorry. I don’t know anything.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to. Forgetting might just be the best thing you could do.” He looked out the window, drumming his fingers on his knee, then watched the continued fidgeting going on on the other side. “I’m going to take you to our headquarters. I need to figure some things out about you before we go forward. I think I’ve gotten in over my head for the first time.”

“Torture?” he asked, heart in his eyes and fear in his words.

“I told you, little one, I’m not going to hurt you. No one is. My men will be sworn off from even looking at you like that. Your days of being a punching bag are over. I just don’t know what the rest of your days are going to be.”

That sufficed for the hybrid. He turned towards the window, eyes casting over the blurring images. The outside world was a relic to him. Hidden for years, taken from him like a measly gumball. The tinted window made everything darker, but he didn’t know that. To him, the world was just dark.

He fit his hands between his thighs and leaned his temple onto the glass. The corner of his lips twitched up, his eyes sparkled, and that corner lifted in a rusty smile. Taehyung stopped breathing.

“The outside is so pretty,” Jungkook said in a daze, looking out into the crime filled, poverty riddled slums of the dead Opalite empire with the taste of blood in his mouth.

Taehyung wanted to show him Paris—wanted to show him better. That boy was crawling into his head and unscrewing too many bolts to keep his head straight.


 “Headquarters,” Taehyung had finally decided, declaring the next step to his driver.

Taking the hybrid to his home was too risky. If an attack was planned, at least it would take place at the headquarters, where he had weapons and numbers. He needed someone to protect the dynasty, and the gem they stole from the Opalites.

They arrived before the sun could start setting. The driver got out, the second guard, and Taehyung shoved his reluctance to the side and sucked it up. Bringing a hybrid home with him from the dynasty that he just left in ashes wasn’t exactly in his planner for the week, but shit happens, and it happened like hell today.

“Stay here,” Taehyung instructed.

He got out of the car. Guards were already there, guns on their hips and eyes glancing from one tree to the next. They looked at his shirtless body, but said not a single word. Questioning him was useless. He liked to throw them curveballs here and there.

“Things are gonna be a little different today. No questions, because I don’t have answers.” He looked over his shoulder and thrusted his thumb in the direction of his captive. “I’ve got a hybrid in there that’s a bit of a flight risk. I have to carry him, so just watch us, yeah?”

Their faces didn’t show it, but he knew they were running a mile a minute trying to catch up with this curveball. They nodded nevertheless, never one to keep the Viper waiting, and followed him silently. His guards liked to surround him like a bubble—they knew the danger he was in at all times.

Taehyung opened the door that Jungkook sat near and kneeled down by it, smiling at the hybrid.

“Alright, bud. We’re gonna get you inside. I’ll carry you, but you don’t have to hold tight again. Don’t really need a gun to protect us anymore.” He looked up at the men standing behind him, more than aware of the fearful look Jungkook kept sending them. “They’re with me. Those guns right there are to keep us safe, not hurt us. You gotta trust me, but either way, you can’t stay in the car.”

Ears folded, Jungkook outstretched his arms, eyes cemented on the scary, tall men, and let his new savior fit him into a carrying position. Taehyung hefted him out of the car, double checking that his makeshift pants hadn’t slipped and fallen.

“Hell, boss,” one said. “Looks like it’s been through the wringer a good few times.”

“If by wringer, you mean the Opalites are even worst pieces of shit than I thought they were? Then yeah, through the wringer.” Ears tickled the back of his head and a nose warmed up his neck. “More than a good few times.”

“Fucking animals.”

Taehyung sniffed a grin. “Literally.” He took a step back, remembering that he had a hybrid in his arms who could hear every word—kind and not. “But yeah, scum. I could’ve killed them a couple times over after finding him.”

The front doors opened, and Jungkook lifted his head. His eyes widened with every bright light that shined into them, white dotting his irises, ears perking up. It was magnificent. He liked the violet coating everything. It was classy, and suave, like the owner of the color. Looking around, his excitement for the decor was dampened by the eyes drawn to him.

People were staring. His bruises and bones might as well have been in a glass case with a magnifying glass attached. Their leader was carrying him after a successful raid of a giant empire, and he was the sparkling trophy.

Taehyung came back shirtless with a rabbit hybrid, blood smattered at the tips of his hair and across his collarbones. His finger ached from pulling triggers and cold blood flowed through his veins, ice in his eyes, and his followers detained any impulsions to impose on questions.

“I’m going to bring him to my room. You guys are good to go.”

“You sure?” the second guard asked, obviously gesturing towards the hybrid in his arms.

“Oh, don’t worry about that. Anyone touches him and I cut their hand off. I’ve got it from here.”

They branched off from each other, and Taehyung turned down a hallway, and another. The sounds of the rustling and bustling masses of people died down to a muted and faint pulse. Soon, they couldn’t hear a thing. Jungkook didn’t like how far they travelled from civilization. Safety in numbers and all that.

“My room is in the back with a couple of my better men, and my friends. If there’s ever an attack, we’ll have time to get on our feet and devise a plan.” Taehyung’s arms were starting to feel the burn. “Leaders die last. That’s just how it goes. The bottom of the totem pole might as well be a distraction to gain us some time.”

They came to a door. A hallway led to the right, where another bedroom door sat—Jimin’s room. In the middle of the opening, a stairwell led upward to the intelligence zone and Namjoon’s bedroom.

“We’re here.”

He opened it, and shut it behind him. Cool air wafted over their bodies. Encased in it’s own hole, his room felt different from the rest of the building. The floors were dark, and so were the walls. The bed was far across the room in the middle, pressed against the wall, headboard black. His sheets were a dark grey, and nothing was purple. A stark contrast to the rest of the mansion.

He didn’t want to be the Viper in his bedroom. Violet wasn’t a color in sight. He just wanted to be Taehyung. He wanted to be twelve again, sleeping in and not looking at any healing bullet wounds in the mirror.

A bathroom was connected to the left, and various furniture to the right. Spacious didn’t even begin to explain in. A bright, blue fish tank built into the wall housed beautiful creatures with striking colors and angled fins. Moonlight filtered in through the windows, and the skylight from above the bed.

Taehyung set him on the bed.

“This is my bedroom. No one is allowed in here but my two colleagues. You met one of them on the field, Jimin. You’ll be safe here until I figure something out.” He ran his hand through his hair, propped a hand on his hip, and sighed at the dropped bunny ears. “What am I going to do with you?”

Jungkook blinked, but when his mouth opened, the smart watch on Taehyung’s wrist sang. He swiped up to answer the call—Namjoon.

“Yes?”

“You’re home. Mind telling me next time?”

“Sorry. A bit busy over here. Listen, I need to talk to you, and it’s serious. Give me a minute and I’ll give you a heads up.”

“Sure thing. You didn’t lose, did you?”

“God, no,” Taehyung snarled, and peered down at his new problem. “I actually took home a little bit more than I was expected.”

“Huh?”

“I’ll text you.” Taehyung hung up on him, dropping his wrist. “Let’s get you cleaned up, yeah? I’ll grab you a shirt you can wear. Might be a little big, but… I guess you’re used to that. Some boxers too. Shorts,” he listed to himself.

He rummaged through his drawers. Would the hybrid want a sweater? No, not the best choice. He might overheat overnight and not say a word. A white, silky button-up long sleeve seemed appropriate enough, lightweight but would still cover up the majority of his bruises. A pair of boxers that should fit him okay because Taehyung had small hips too, and some socks. Pants would come later. He needed to tend to any wounds either way.

“Here. Do you remember how to work a shower?” Taehyung asked, laying the clothes over his arm. “No? Okay. I’ll show you how it works. C’mon.”

He waited, and forgot rather wonderfully that Jungkook couldn’t walk. He pursed his lips. This wouldn’t do for long. The damned thing needed to be able to walk if it wanted to live.

“Change of plans. What makes you think you can’t walk?”

“I haven’t… they hurt sometimes. My knees.”

From pushing his face into the hay and yanking his ass into the air. It troubled Taehyung to think about it. It was easier to let it slip when he had those bloody thighs covered up. Remembering what this hybrid had been through was too important to forget.

“You haven’t stood, so they’re probably weak, but you’ve been able to put some weight on them from those bastards pushing you around. And your knees don’t look deformed, so that’s good. That means they aren’t damaged. So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to help you walk to the bathroom.”

Jungkook’s eyes lost their life. “I don’t know…”

“You don’t have to know. I don’t have a damn clue either. We’re walking into this blind, buddy. C’mere. Put your hands on my shoulders. I’m going to hold you up, but I need you to try and put some weight on your legs, alright?”

“It’s going to hurt. I don’t think I—” The hybrid was starting to panic, breath coming to a quick pace. “I don’t want to hurt anymore. Not anymore.”

Taehyung’s face lightened. He dropped to his knees, holding out soothing hands, but didn’t touch. Touching was about the worst decision he could make. He was so used to fixing things like a brute, throwing patience behind him and just manhandling it until it worked. He couldn’t do that now.

“I don’t want you to either. That’s not what we’re doing. I’m not going to let you hurt. I’m gonna support you. You won’t fall, and if it’s hurting too much, you just have to let me know.” Taehyung took calm breaths in hopes that it would rub off on him. “I’m not trying to hurt any bunnies, now. I just don’t want you crippled.”

“You want me to try to walk?”

“I do,” Taehyung said. “I really do.”

Jungkook’s eyes looked heavy on his cheeks when he nodded and thumbed at the bones of Taehyung’s shoulders, moving his legs, feeling for their strength. He’d stood up a couple times, but the chains rubbed against his skin, and they weighed his feet down. After years of being used on the floor, standing wasn’t a viable option for him.

“Go slow. I’ve gotcha. You won’t fall.”

Taehyung touched his waist, hands cradling the inward curve of his body. Ribs suctioned at his skin. Touching the hybrid felt prohibited. He lent down, waited for Jungkook to get a steady hold, and guided him up. The hybrid’s legs straightened like two toothpicks holding up a house of cards, carrying little weight, but even weaker on the bottom.

A crash was coming quick, signaled by the strangled gasp that scratched up Jungkook’s throat and the spontaneous tensing of his arms, holding on for dear life. His knees buckled, his ears fell to his skull, and all Taehyung could do was act quick and catch him.

Catching him—holding him tight to his chest, binding around his waist, where he folded as he broke. Taehyung hushed into his ear.

“You’re okay. I gotcha, remember? Don’t go doubting me now. Get your bearings. Trust your knees. Plant your feet, lock your knees, and steady yourself. You can do it.”

“Scared,” he whispered. “Don’t wanna fall. No one’s ever caught me.”

“I’m not them. They were spineless cowards. I won’t let you fall, Jungkook. Give it a try. Feel how it feels to stand again.”

Fighting all of the fears and facing a tidal wave of anxiety, Jungkook breathed heavy into his neck and forced his knees to bend back, to actual lock . They did so unnervingly, quick and hard, unsteady and shaky. His feet fluttered over the floor, scared his wings might shatter in the wind.

“There you go. You got it. Those legs got nothin’ on you, bunny.”

Jungkook settled on his feet, re-learning where to put all of the pressure, the soul and the ball and the arch. All of it came jerky and rusty, knees cutting in and out like a ball bearing one centimeter too large for its dome. Leading him to walk was a new challenge on it’s own.

Knees locking and unlocking, but holding up, Taehyung let off just enough to give him the sensation of walking all on his own. Instead of twining himself around the human’s neck like an age old tree rooted around a skeleton, Jungkook looked ahead, watched himself walk. Got closer to the rug, closer to the closet, closer to the doorway, and strung his ears up higher, holding on tight to Taehyung’s chest.

He wished the shirt around his legs was where it belonged so he could hold on tight like a handle.

By the time they got to the bathroom and the white and grey reigned supreme and struck his bare feet with ice cold marbled floors, he was living again. Feeling the world underneath his feet again. His toes were tingling and his knees ached. He was so happy.

Taehyung caught it on his face. The subtle smile, the peek of his bunny teeth over his bottom lip, those wondrous eyes marveling over travelling from one room to the other all on his “own.”

Taehyung taught a class on how to function the shower. Left knob and right knob, how hot it needed to be, how hot it didn’t need to be, because from the looks of it, they never gave the boy a proper cleaning.

Hot water was too good of a friend to ever leave him that dirty. Must’ve been a bucket that splashed cold water over him.

He opted for the hybrid to use his shampoo and wash for the time being. Keeping the boy was still sitting on the fence, so buying special products was not on his immediate to do list. His products would get the job done.

“Take your time. If you need me, I’ll be in the room. Just yell, okay? I’ll hear you. If you slip and fall, for the love of God, please let me know.” Taehyung set the clothes down on the counter. “Put these on when you’re done. There’s a towel for you too. Make sure you—” he motioned to his ears, “—don’t get any water in those. Ear infections are probably a bitch for you bunnies.”

The smile that little joke dragged out called for an award. He left the bathroom with one hand on his phone and the other on the doorknob, shutting it. No locking, because if that hybrid busted his head open, he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t give him CPR.

Two minutes and Namjoon stepped in. The door’s lock resounded in the silence. His big, black glasses pushed up his nose, Namjoon raised an eyebrow.

“So, you got something to tell me?”

“I got a situation. Don’t ask me how I got into it, and don’t ask me how how I’m gonna get out of it, because I have no damn clue.” Taehyung paced in front of his bed, scrubbing at his forehead, watching Namjoon sit on his bed from the corner of his eye. “But it’s a biggie.”

“We can deal with biggies, Tae. We always have. Remember the Dust Dynasty? Didn’t think we were gonna make it out of that spike pit alive, but look at us now,” Namjoon said, smiling reassuringly. “Only a couple spikes in the back.”

“It’s not like that. It’s worst. This is bigger. This is life altering, Namjoon. I’m talking life changing.” He came to an abrupt stop. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Namjoon cut his eyes to the bathroom, to Taehyung, and asked oh so apprehensively, “Who’s in your shower, Taehyung?”

“A hybrid,” Taehyung rambled.

He blinked in disbelief. “One more time?”

“There’s a person with rabbit ears in my shower right now, Namjoon.” He threw his hands up. “A rabbit. With ears.”

“I… don’t know what to say. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? An in the middle thing?”

“I’m still trying to figure that part out,” Taehyung admitted. “He was chained up at the Opalites hideout. He looks horrible, like they put him through two lifetimes already. He’s fucked up. Can’t even walk, been raped by no-good miners, and just beaten, man. Just beaten.”

“I get it, but… since when do you do charity work?”

“I don’t know. I just couldn’t leave him. I could’ve unchained him and just left him to figure his own shit out, but we both know what would’ve happened to him. Scrappers would’ve found him. He’d have his ears cut off by now and sold for good luck.”

“Rabbit feet,” Namjoon offered. “Rabbit feet are good luck.”

“Not the point here, genius. I don’t know what happened. I saw him, and I couldn’t leave him. I don’t have an explanation, nothing makes sense right now, and I’ve royally fucked myself.”

“Well, not necessarily.” Namjoon shifted back on the bed, getting comfortable. “All you have to do is decide if you’re keeping your lucky rabbit or not.”

“Oh, yeah, real easy.”

“I mean it. It’s not hard. You have the means to do it. But you don’t have to. I’m sure we can find someone to take him, someone we know will treat him well. Or you can keep him. Sounds to me like this rabbit is doing something to you.”

Taehyung cringed. “Don’t get weird about it.”

“Sorry, I forgot you’re still playing that game where you don’t have any feelings.” He shared a look with his childhood symptom of causing constant problems. “You’re really bad at being nice with strangers, and your ass up and picked up a hybrid during a raid. You chose him.”

“You’re getting weird again.”

“Shut up and have adult emotions for once, you seven year old. It’s a hybrid. You’re a mafia leader,” he said. “Sounds like two puzzle pieces just waiting to get snug with each other.”

Crossing his arms, Taehyung asked, “You actually think it’s not a catastrophic idea for me to keep him?”

“Believe it or not, mister everything has to go wrong or the world isn’t in the right, I don’t.”

Mental crisis imploded by ten more amps, Taehyung regretted even inviting him in. Namjoon always opened up more pathways, showed him the grey area, and introduced him to imposing morals. He made Taehyung human.

“Doesn’t matter either way. He’s staying here until I figure my shit out. I’m not risking taking a random hybrid to my house and having some pack of guys chasing his tail.” He chewed on his lip. “I’ll just have to lock him in.”

“At least you aren’t chaining him up, and you’re feeding him.”

“No, I’m not. See, what would I do if I didn’t have you?" He glanced towards the bathroom. "Could you please go and get some food from the kitchen? I forgot that just because I’m not hungry doesn’t mean a starving hybrid isn’t.”

“You’re already thinking like an owner,” Namjoon said with a smile, slinging himself up. “Setting course, captain.”

The bathroom door slid open. Their heads whipped in it’s direction. In the dim light of the moon, a rabbit hybrid stood in the opening of the doorway, fixing the cuffs around his hands, draping over to cover them like a blanket. The shirt flooded him, smuggling his thighs away, covering the boxers he had underneath. His white socks shivered with his legs.

Weary when he looked at Namjoon, the hybrid grasped at the door frame for support. A newborn deer, Taehyung would call him.

“I told you to yell for me,” Taehyung huffed, hurrying over to his side. Arm around his waist, pulling him close, he smelled his shampoo on Jungkook's ears. “You need to listen to me.”

“But I was doing okay.”

“You were pushing yourself is what you were doing,” he sighed, and when they got close to the bed, Namjoon took two clear steps back because those eyes followed him like he was a predator. “C’mon, get up here.”

When Jungkook climbed onto the bed, he let his legs spread out underneath him, sitting his bottom in between his calves, shirt cascading over his thighs. A little bump wiggled—his tail. Taehyung couldn’t take his eyes off of it.

“Hi, there,” Namjoon said. Taehyung almost laughed at how awkward he still was this long after high school. “I’m Namjoon. It’s nice to meet you.”

Jungkook blinked at the sheets. “Hello.”

“He’s shy, and you’re weird, so I think it’s best you probably go get that food, yeah?” Taehyung urged him, holding back a laugh in the bottom of his throat. “Nothing too much. His stomach needs something bland right now.”

“Got it, boss.”

Namjoon cast one last glance over his shoulder before he left for good, sensing that the second he turned his back, their lonely, personal atmosphere was going to kick off. He found his cold hearted leader kneeling by the bed, speaking softly to the hybrid.

He’d never seen Taehyung look at someone like that before. Like the twinkle in their eye was the North star. The sweetness in his voice, the need to show that he cared, throwing himself out there when Jungkook could have made it to the bed just fine by himself. He couldn’t watch Jungkook struggle. He was careful with the hybrid, easy, took his time and touched him like a fingernail would break his skin with the same hands that broke necks like dried up twigs.

Somehow, that was the same man who waltzed into the Opalites hideout, raised his gun, and blew the brains of an empire leader to the high heavens without blinking first.

“Sorry. Namjoon is one of my closest advisors, and my friend. He’s one of the good guys. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. That’s why he stays back and blows breakers instead.” He smiled, taking a gander at the boy’s scrubbed skin. “Do you feel better?”

Jungkook nodded, a hybrid of lost inhibitions. “Mhm. I haven’t felt clean in a long time. My hair is going to be clean again, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. It’ll be all smooth and clean.” Taehyung stood back up, stretching his body. He walked over to the foot of the bed, pushing his hands in his pockets. “You’re like a whole new hybrid.”

The straw Jungkook slept on was scratchy and rough on his skin. He found inflamed, swollen welts on his thighs and bottom from sitting on it for so long. He’d forgotten what a bed felt like. The satin sheets underneath him felt like ice and clouds all together and his feet hollered happily at the sensation, knees singing.

He plopped over on his side, taking Taehyung by surprise, and rolled over the bed until he found a pillow, giggling to himself, smiling the grey away, and swept his whole body over the satin. It felt amazing on his skin. He bundled one of the pillows up to his chest and toppled back over onto his side to hide his face in it, sighing away the stress. He went limp, knees tucked to his chest and cheeks buzzing.

That wasn’t fair. Taehyung’s eyes were still a dime larger than before, arms going slack, hands itching in his pockets. He hadn’t seen the boy act like an actual hybrid yet.

Airy giggles sounded good from his mouth. A bunny rolling around on his sheets, so appreciative of something he slept on every single night and often forgot even existed. Jungkook was just ever so happy to be somewhere else, breathing in the smell of a pillow rather than the dust of stationary cargo containers, and actually feeling the world on his skin rather than on a layer of dirt.

Wiggling under his shirt, his tail was going crazy. Severing cuteness and endearment didn’t exist with this little one. It all wrapped up into one little present, sent right to his doorstep with his name written on the tag.

The risk was too great—giving the bunny to someone else. No one could do any job better than him. Killing in cold blood, dragging a used to be ringleader down to his knees, taking the city of Seoul by force, giving this hybrid a life worth living.

If you want the job done well, you gotta do it yourself, he realized. He sighed.

“How am I supposed to keep you?” Jungkook’s ears sonared his way to take in the new noise, poking one eye out of the pillow. “I know I shouldn’t. I know life would be better away from me—safer—but I just can’t imagine giving you up to someone else.”

The boy in the white, satin button-up pulled himself up, left the pillow in the dust, and took one tentative crawl towards his new, strange owner, then another, and stopped at the foot of the bed. Legs spread, thighs touching calves, he leaned forward, and pressed himself against Taehyung’s stomach.

It was the first time he'd ever seeked physical contact. Physical contact in his life meant grave consequences, and a bloody, painful ending. But tonight, in this room void of purple and quiet as the night, he held onto Taehyung’s waist like it meant a new world for him.

He whispered into his stomach, “I know it wouldn’t be better. I want you to keep me. I like you. I don’t want anyone else.”

Taehyung touched his back and in between his ears, and looked to the ceiling for answers. Preferably written out descriptively and clearly.

“You don’t know what you’re saying. I’m just the first nice person you’ve met in years.”

“No. You’re good.”

“I’m dangerous. I’m on a million hit lists. I forget how to touch people when I hold my gun for too long. I come home still seeing red and throw things and break shit. I run an empire built on crimes.” He massaged into the base of Jungkook’s ears, pursing his lips. “I think I've realized why I’m hesitating. Not because I’m not sure if I want you or not, but because I want to be somewhere safe for you, and I don’t think I can give that to you.”

The bunny vehemently shook his head into his shirt, scrunched up his nose, and constricted his arms. Why wasn’t this human listening to him?

“You’re the only safe place. I haven't found one in so long.”

“It won’t always be like that,” Taehyung murmured, gazing down at him. “They’ll want to hurt you—everyone who wants to hurt me.”

In one last gush of confidence, the hybrid said slow and sure, muffled by the folds of his shirt, “I want you.”

“Don’t say things like that,” Taehyung said, looking through his eyelashes at this point, closing his eyes before he could see the future of this hybrid’s near end. “You’ll make me want you too. And I always take what I want, little one.”

Chapter Text

The hybrid ate like he hadn't eaten in days. He hadn’t. The last meal he received was chalky bread, and a snatched off leftover from someone’s chicken they didn’t finish. He scarfed that down too, but it was never enough.

Steak and vegetables, chocolates, moist brownies, buttery bread that soaked into his tongue like the butter itself. Taehyung kept an eye on him momentarily, but gave him privacy when he devoured a carrot like his last meal before entering hell.

When Taehyung had brought the plate to him, his eyes could hold about three moons in each.

“This is… for me?”

“All of it. Try and eat as much as you can, but go slow so you don’t get sick, okay?” he had told the hybrid.

Namjoon left the room, and Jimin passed by him. Taehyung’s bedroom was a revolving door today, apparently. Of all days, when a brand new hybrid was stuffing his face on the bed with the soundtrack of his growling stomach.

The assassin walked in with hands on his belt, laying his eyes on the hybrid cleaned up and at home for the first time since bullets were ricocheting off of metal around them.

Eyes stuck where they were, Jimin said, “All good. No one made it out alive. Sent out a team to search the surrounding area and we didn’t find any survivors. Shouldn’t have any problems.”

“Good. Seoul will hear about the fall by the end of tomorrow.” He teetered in front of Jimin’s view, eyes squinted. “Hey. Stop staring.”

“Sorry, dude. He’s just… there’s a hybrid on your bed.”

“He hasn’t had any actual food in God knows how long. You want someone staring at you while you try to end your own starvation?” Taehyung whispered in a hiss.

Opting to switch his gaze to the feverous one of Taehyung’s, those legendary lips of his slid into an amused grin.

“Look at you, playing nice. Took ya long enough. Where was nice guy Taehyung when I had a knife in my thigh on the Galapagos islands?”

“Vacant because it was all your damn fault we were in that mess,” he reminded him. It wasn’t his idea that they stop the ship at the shore instead of using guerilla warfare. “How else am I supposed to play with a hybrid?”

“You’ve met plenty of hybrids. Remember the one in Costa Rica? You gave him up to the first civilian you saw. This isn’t Costa Rica you. This is Taehyung you.” All childish ploys dropped. He smiled, the way he always has since they were children, even the same night his family was murdered but he thought the stars above them were pretty. “You’re at war with yourself, aren’t you? With what to do next?”

“At a Goddamn crazy rate, yeah,” he admitted. “I’m talking tug-a-war right now. And there’s a tank on the other side but for some reason, I’m still pulling.”

“Which side is the tank on?”

“That there’s someplace better for him. Anywhere else but with me. That place was no life for him, but neither is this place.”

Jimin sighed, smiled like the moon, and took the collar of Taehyung’s soft button-up and tilted his head to the side, straightening everything up. Straightening up Taehyung had been his job since they swung on swings and played in sandboxes.

“You and I both know you’ve never let the world win. It’s in your blood to take everything and make it yours.” He looked up through his eyelashes. “Nothing has ever stopped you before. Why now?”

“I wouldn’t be able to protect him, Jimin. Not forever.”

“Don’t tell me you’re about to let a little bit of the unknown conquer you?”

“The unknown could get that hybrid thrown in a cell and tortured until I get down on my knees. I don’t know if I’m willing to make that bargain.”

Jimin patted Taehyung’s chest, grey eyes privy to information Taehyung was yet to have.

“Heads will roll before anyone lays a hand on that hybrid. Once he’s one of us, we’ll make enough blood to start a butchery before he knows pain under our empire.”

“I know you’d do anything.”

“You know me, big guy. Give me an order and I’ll have a knife in someone’s throat. Maybe I’d actually be able to have some fun for once. I’ve been real bored lately.”

“Maybe the problem isn’t the outside, but the psychos inside.” Jimin hit him on the arm, even though he wasn’t prepared to start a debate. His list of arguments would come up empty. “Kidding, but seriously, I hear you.”

“Let’s try it this way. Tell me in a yes or no fashion or I’ll strangle you. Do you want to keep him?”

“Yes,” he answered immediately.

“Then stop being a pussy and keep him. You wanting to add a living person to your day to day life is not something I have ever personally heard of, because you’re a sociopath, so something tells me this is a little bit more than an impulsive decision driven by curiosity or interest.” He coined an eye, knowing he was onto something. “You’re easy to read, Taehyung. You have attachments to him already. Something about him is special enough for you to turn your whole routine upside down.”

“You’re the only person who would say I’m easy to read.”

“Because I’m the only person who can. Don’t ignore the point.”

“Yes, okay? Yes. I don’t know now to explain it. I don’t know feelings, Jimin, you know that.” The assassin snorted. “I just know that imagining him with someone else makes me pissed and I want to kill imaginary people.”

“You want to own him. Only him, and only you. Hybrids are companion partners, and thinking about him choosing someone else—not knowing how they’ll treat him—scares you into murder. Am I right?”

Laying it all out on the table for him to see was how Jimin often took his words away, but gave them to his head to make sense of his tornado of emotions. Jimin knew how to spoon feed him how to be human.

“I…” Taehyung stuttered. “Yeah. Yeah.”

“Then own him. Make him yours. He’s your hybrid now. You care for him, you bond with him. Give him a better life.” Jimin shifted to one foot, throwing a hand in the air. “Is it that hard to comprehend, you neanderthal?”

“Shut up before I smack the shit out of you.”

“Give it a go. I’ll break your arm.” He looked over Taehyung’s shoulder, nodding in the direction. “He’s done and he looks lost and there’s chocolate on his cheek. Help the poor thing out, and help yourself out. Give yourself this. Give him this. You both deserve a little bit of life.”

Expecting him to answer wasn’t something Jimin was naive enough to do. Taehyung had a lot to think about and when he got like that, he started up a cluster in his brain, and the only thing to do from there was let him work it out himself.

So Jimin waved, sent a smile to the hybrid, and left the room knowing the torment he left in his wake. Giving Taehyung mental crises was his actual special talent, not flinging smugglers to the ground with his thighs.

Taehyung tried to ravel himself up, but it wasn’t going to according to plan, so he gave up and just let his mouth and body and head go like the breeze.

“All done?” he asked, taking a gander at the empty plate. Not even a crumb left. Wasting wasn’t known to a hybrid when they went without for so long.

“Yes,” Jungkook said. “Thank you.”

Taehyung took his plate, left it on the bedside table, but plucked the napkin from the bottom of it.

“Here, you’ve got some on your…” He pinched Jungkook’s thin chin and faced him to the side, brushing away the speck of chocolate on his cheek. “There.”

The hybrid looked up at him wide-eyed and all blinking eyelashes and moved his legs under the blanket, never this close to Taehyung’s face before.

“Are you going to keep me?”

“I think so, little one. I think so.” He balled up the napkin and tossed it onto the plate. “Ask me again in the morning. How’s that sound?”

He nodded, already waiting for the morning to come. “Okay. I can do that.” Then, he was looking from one spot of the room to the next. “Um… Taehyung?”

“Yeah?”

“Where can I… where do you want me to use the bathroom?”

“Oh.” He forgot. Forgot that the boy was thrown to the basement like a forgotten roach and left to his own devices. And those devices were buckets. “Sorry. I didn’t stop to think that you might have to go after such a long ride. Use the toilet in the bathroom. Did you see it while you were in there?”

“I did,” Jungkook said, picking at his thumbnail. “I just didn’t know if I was… allowed to use it.”

Taehyung frowned. “Hey. You are. You are allowed to everything that the rest of us have, and I mean that. Every bathroom is yours to use. Do you remember how they work or do I need to show you?”

“I remember,” he said softly, thinking back to the days when his original owner let him use the bathroom with free will. “I can do it… thank you.”

He did help the hybrid to the bathroom. What he didn’t do was conceal his mini heart attack when Jungkook tried to pull his boxers down right in front of him.

“No, no, no,” flew out of Taehyung’s mouth and he swiped up Jungkook’s wrist, faltering when the boy flinched back and hid his ears in his hair. “Sorry—I’m… you’re not in trouble. Don’t be scared.”

Only when Jungkook stopped looking at him like he’d yank him to the floor any second now did he explain himself.

“We don’t do things like that in front of other people. What you cover with your shorts, you don’t show anyone, okay? That’s only for you. If someone asks to see, you tell them no and then you tell me.” Taehyung soothed at the wrist he’d grabbed so frantically. “You shower alone. You go to the bathroom alone. You change alone, unless you need help with something. Okay?”

Jungkook mumbled, “Okay,” and that was that.

Taehyung didn’t stay in the bathroom. Thank God, because Jungkook was really starting to get confused. Who was allowed to do what with him?

Alone, he managed back to the bed with just a smidge of wobbling over. His legs were getting braver with every step.

“Get comfortable,” Taehyung said, stealing the empty plate off the bedside table. “We’re gonna be here for the night. You can take the bed. I’ll take the floor. I’ll make a palette and call it a slumber party.”

“The floor? You don’t have to do that.” Confidence was gaining in his words. Using his tongue more than just to scream in pain jogged his memory of the Korean language. “It’s your bed. Hybrids know the floor. It’s okay.”

Taehyung shook his head at even the thought. “You won’t be sleeping on the floor. Not under my care.” He backtracked to the door. “Don’t worry. I’ve slept on my fair share of uncomfortable places. Camping out before a raid can mean the backseat of a car or underneath a tree in the rain. My bedroom floor is definitely the least of my worries.”

Those ears kept moving. They reminded Taehyung of bending the wires above an old television set, pointing them to a higher frequency.

“But I’m supposed to sleep on the floor.”

“Just because you have some ears and a fluff ball doesn’t mean you’re automatically picked to sleep on the floor. In my days, it was pulling the short end of the straw.” Taehyung edged out of the door. “And that’s the only way as far as I’m concerned. I’m gonna take this to the cafeteria and grab some extra bedding. You stay right there, okay? No leaving. If you’re in danger, you scream the name Jimin. No leaving this room.”

Jungkook nodded obediently, tucking his feet underneath the comforter and wiggling them excitedly. Beds were just so great. Humans didn’t give them enough credit. They were clouds brought down from the sky just to help them sleep better and what a wonderful creation. Straw wasn’t a preferable substitution.

“No leaving.”

“Thank you,” Taehyung said, and he sounded tired. Weary. Leaving the hybrid alone felt like a death sentence. “If I turn around and you’re gone, I will find you, even if it means tackling you to the ground. Got it?”

Jungkook broke out into a smile, a little giggle bubbling in his mouth. “Got it.”

He left, praying the room didn’t combust in flames the second he left it unintended, and headed on his way to drop the plate and it’s napkin off. On the way, plenty of men congratulated him on the successful take down of the Opalites, fists in the air and smirks cutting through scars and busted lips. Greasy hair flopped when nodding at him and gloved hands sprouted up thumbs.

Not a word about the strange hybrid he toted in like a wounded warrior snatched up from the warzone. Their leader would speak when he felt necessary. Announcements were never pried from him, else someone might lose a tongue. He hated being rushed.

He gathered up a couple blankets and a pillow to join him on the floor, checked for extra padding to take him through the night so he didn’t wake up with a backache, and set out for his bedroom.

The night was getting late by now. Midnight wasn’t far from where they stood and the day was wearing away at his body. His trigger finger ached, his shoulder was wrung out, and exhaustion settled over him like a worn blanket.

He knocked first, and snuck in through the crack of the door. Opening it wide risked letting someone see his secret, and he wasn’t fond of letting secrets out of the bag.

Underneath the blankets, the hybrid was nothing short of a bundled up angel. The blankets rose to his chin, and his moon eyes beamed like an alligator hunting underwater. His ears sat limp on the pillow.

“Tired?” Taehyung asked.

“Very. Beds make you tired, don’t they? I wasn’t until I laid down.”

“They do. Because they’re comfortable and cushy. You slept on straw, so I’m sure sleeping wasn’t something you looked forward to.” Taehyung started laying out his blankets at the foot of the bed. “Or did, rather.”

“I was on it all the time, so just being on it wasn’t something I looked forward to… sleeping was better.”

Taehyung sniffed a grin at his own ignorance. “Of course you looked forward to sleeping. Who would wanna be awake in that hellhole? No one else is now.”

Quiet, the moon, the breeze, blankets rustling, then, “They’re dead? All of them?”

“Sorry, little one.” Taehyung placed his pillow down, on his knees and leaning back on his heels. He quirked his lip at the hybrid. “I had to kill them. That’s how the big league works. They wanted to play, so I played, and they lost.”

“Don’t apologize.” He pulled the blankets up to his nose, memories flashing before his eyes. Turmoil sat on his irises like legs swinging from the bridge of a lake. “They weren’t very nice men.”

“No. No, they weren’t,” he said, looking to his palette. “They sold jewels illegally. They put their underpaid minors in dangerous conditions and overworked them, and sold the merchandise alongside illegally poached animal pelts.” He added, “And they hurt you. That’s a good enough reason to leave them there to rot.”

Taehyung got underneath his makeshift covers, socks and pants and all, something he never tended to do. The only time he’d fallen asleep with his pants on was when he fell over into a bed blackout drunk.

Taking his pants off in front of a hybrid that had been abused into oblivion by countless men and torn apart in the process was not something he jumped at the chance to do. He felt uncomfortable. How the hybrid felt, well, he’d assume it was about the same.

“You can sleep up here, you know.”

“Oh, no,” Taehyung muttered, throwing his arm underneath his head. “I don’t want to do that after what they did. Not tonight. Have a bed to yourself, and I’ll be off to the side not copping any feels.”

“I know you wouldn’t,” he said shyly.

“Bunny, you haven’t an inch of what kind of person I am. The last thing you need to do is assume the best about me. Assume the worst, because I’ve done it.” He shut his eyes. They burned with the faces of the men he gunned down today. “Don’t be gullible. It’ll get you hurt.”

“But you wouldn’t.”

He sighed with his whole body, flopping over to his side, cramming his shoulder into the floor and regretting not grabbing that extra blanket he considered.

“Well, you’re right. But act like you aren’t. That’s the only way you’ll stay safe on this side of the world,” he said. “Need anything before I pass out?”

“No, but can I ask you something?”

“Go for it.”

“If they sold so much, had money, why did they treat me the way that they did?”

“I don’t know, Jungkook. I… I really don’t. There’s a lot of sick people out there and you were at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Maybe they didn’t know what they were doing.”

Taehyung opened his eyes, red and tired and burning, but couldn’t stay shut at that. He chuckled grimmly, shaking his head into his pillow.

“They knew, bunny. They knew.” Taehyung said in wonderment, “Dug up millions of jewels, gunned down for it, and in the end, you’re the only gem worth saving.” He snorted in amusement. “Sorry fuckers.”


Noise woke Taehyung up. A quiet one, soft, not too close, but close enough to trigger him like a gun. His eyes snapped open to a pitch black darkness.

A mafia leader’s senses were attuned to that of someone who slept on the outskirts of a bandits’ camp, just feet away behind a tree waiting for the perfect time to attack. He had the whole underworld at his neck, killed one too many people to ever sleep soundly. He slept like his window was unlocked and a rival’s eyes glinted in the bushes before sundown.

He slept like his death was in anyone’s hands, and they hid in his closet every night.

He blinked awake, adjusted to the dark, feeling around himself carefully so as to not expose himself if anyone were to be listening in. Not his bed, no mattress. He was on the floor on top of some thin ass blankets. Memory ran right up to him, and came all at once.

Ah, yes. The rabbit hybrid that he handed his bed over to like a good night’s rest wasn’t deserved by a man who turned an empire into shambles within mere hours.

The noise. It was the hybrid. He wasn’t accustomed to others in his bedroom, and neither were his instincts. He was trained to act at any sound because there wasn’t supposed to be any when he slept alone. Those days were over now, and the next nights ahead were going to be a damn hassle.

On his back, he turned his head towards the bed, just about to sit up to check and make sure the hybrid was okay and sleeping soundly, when he came face to face with Jungkook.

Curled up in a ball and ears flopped over, Jungkook was sleeping on top of his palette covers, not shivering from the cold, but certainly tensed instead of melting into the warmth. His eyelids were shaking. He wasn’t asleep.

Taehyung had killed too many people in their sleep to know what their eyelids looked like before they surged up to grab a knife inches from their eye.

“What are you doing?” Taehyung asked, knowing his eyes were going to open before they did.

“I didn't like being up there while you were down here.”

“Oh my—” Taehyung fussed, tearing the covers off of him. “You’re going to freeze to death. That’s why I gave you the bed. So you could sleep. Get back up there.”

“I don’t—I don’t want—” He froze, tightening in on himself, peering up at Taehyung like he had a hammer in the air. “I don’t want to be alone. I woke up and I was scared and this is a new place and I wanted you.” He flinched when Taehyung put his hand back down, clenching his eyes shut. “I’m sorry.”

Taehyung looked around the room and sighed. It was too damn early for this shit. The actual time didn’t matter. It was too damn early.

The hybrid cowering on his floor flashed back to the one cowering in a bed of straw next to buckets of his own bodily waste, and Taehyung couldn’t really have that. He tried to flip that switch, the one that pumped his blood again. The one that let him have human connections. To empathize.

“Hang on. Hang on. Calm down. I’m not going to make you go back up if you don’t want to. Breathe, okay?” Taehyung scrubbed at his face, waiting patiently for the rabbit to open his eyes again. “I’m not going to hit you, first of all, so you can open your eyes.” Jungkook did, slowly, and watched his hands closely. “Does it scare you to be alone?”

“Not… not really. But I was down there for so long that I don’t know what to do anymore. Most nights I wasn’t alone, they came to see me, so…”

“So you don’t know how to just sleep,” Taehyung explained for him. Clarity was creeping in. “Got it. Well, would it help if you slept next to me? You can watch me, see how it works, and we can sleep the night away together.”

That little bit of sass brought a smile to the hybrid’s face and that was good enough for him.

“I think it would help.”

“I guess that defeats the purpose of not sleeping in the bed.” Taehyung scratched the back of his head, catching his fingers in sleep induced knots. “Let's head over, play musical beds.”

He started to push up, but the hybrid reached for him. For the first time ever, he struck first contact. They both glanced at the hold he had on Taehyung’s wrist.

“Wait. Just tonight? The bed is so different from before. This feels better. Like an in the middle kind of thing.”

So, he was listening to their conversation.

“Going from straw to a bed could be a bit of a shock, I suppose. I thought it’d be a good one, though.”

“It was. Until I fell asleep.”

“I won’t question you. I will say you’re weird, but,” he said with a shrug, expecting a smile, and hip-hip-hurraying in his head when he got one. “Then I’ll get a pillow for you. Musical pillows, instead. I knew we’d play musical something tonight.”

He fetched a pillow from the bed and opened up the covers for the hybrid to crawl underneath. If you told Taehyung that he’d be having a slumber party with a hybrid on a palette after he took him from a warehouse burned to the ground, he’d tell you to get your head checked.

Funny how the world works.

Jungkook turned his way, he kept on his back, and hoped with all of his heart that the hybrid knew he wasn’t a threat. That his hands wouldn’t stray and his mind was in the right place. There were no gutters in his head.

A small whimper. He whipped his head around, scanning for the problem. What was it now?

“What? What’s wrong?”

Jungkook’s hand lingered between them. “Sleeping is harder than what they did. I see things when I sleep. Bad things.”

“Nightmares, bunny. You’re having nightmares.” He fumbled with himself. He didn’t know how to do this. “Do you see what they did?”

“All of it,” Jungkook murmured. “Their faces. Sometimes I feel like I can feel it, but I know I can’t.” His hand inched closer. Taehyung kept an eye trained on it. “They were mean. I don’t know why. What did I do?”

Taehyung swallowed hard. It was difficult to see the hybrid come apart right in front of him, drowning in the life he just walked away from. Water was gurgling in his lungs and coming out of his eyes.

“You didn’t do anything. That’s victim thinking. You were stolen, chained up, and turned into a stress reliever. They used you, and you couldn’t stop them. That’s usually how the bad guys work,” he added bitterly towards the end. “They hurt you because they could, not because of something you did.”

The bunny’s breath hitched into a loosely curled up fist and let the tears roll. “But you won’t hurt me, right? The hurting is over with, right?”

“Yeah. The hurting is over with.”

Helplessness was starting to set in. The hybrid wasn’t showing any signs of stopping, just starting back up when another memory sat in his head.

Crying always made Taehyung uncomfortable. The way his head worked, his only form of advice was to just stop it, manually hit reset and dry up the waterworks. Other people didn’t think that way, so he became the outsider, the misunderstood who couldn’t understand, and just twiddled his thumbs.

People crying bothered him because feeding into your emotions deep enough to elicit a reaction that is literally just falling apart and soaking yourself in your own salt flavored despair was unhealthy in his mind, because facing your emotions is unhealthy to begin with.

He killed people, wiped the blood off his face, cleared the slate, and kept going.

What was a man like him supposed to do for an emotionally wrecked hybrid like that?

He reached back into his childhood, clamped his hand around the emotional cord that he severed years ago, and thought about what his mother would do. Hybrids that were kept away from civilization and brainwashed and abused were damn near children for as long as it took to integrate them back into the world, so he had to treat Jungkook like one, at least until he started to develop.

His mother would have shushed him, coaxed him out of his tense ball that he created for himself to hide in his own little world, and would have held him, whispering into his ear that everything was going to be okay and she loved him to the moon and back.

He just had to do that. Yeah. The malicious, ill-intent, murderous Viper just had to whisper sweet nothings into a rescued hybrid’s ear. Easy. Like stealing candy from a baby.

But the more he thought on it, the more his brain began to shift. The softer his body became, the greater the mellow on his tongue. It wasn’t like stealing candy from a baby for him, but when he looked at those big, brown eyes swimming in tears and those limp ears, his chest went weird. Like, run for the hills weird.

Natural instinct. Not a motherly instinct, or a maternal, or even a paternal instinct. Not the type that he developed when Jimin locked his door and talked through it, begging Taehyung to come in, but not really, because too much glass was on the floor and he missed his mother so much.

No, this was something else. Like flowers growing in his chest. Like a placid lake in his stomach. Calm, still, the sound of the ocean late at night when all the people went home and left their footprints behind.

Feeling it for the first time, he kept going in the same way he always did—with faith. He trusted his body. It did him well, dragged him through life and death and the in between. If it wanted him to feel this, he needed to.

Maybe Jungkook was the key to this. All of this.

He spoke before his tongue had made a game plan. None of this made sense, so writing himself a script was just stalling. He followed his instinct.

“C’mere.” The hybrid looked at him like he’d just told him to leave and never look back. “I said, come here.”

He stretched his arm out, extending it towards Jungkook, and waited patiently for him to start moving. Careful eyes watching, he realized ahead of time that this boy was not going to move a muscle when a mafia leader was asking him to crawl into his arms.

So, he took control. He reached further, carded his hand into the hair between Jungkook’s ears, and scratched at his scalp, guiding him closer with a tentative tug.

Jungkook took his direction. He inched over to him, eyes cast downward and uneasy, perhaps expecting a hard hit on his head, or a harsh tug on his ears. None of the above happened, but rather, something out of the blue.

Taehyung pulled him in like the tide, curling his arms around him like a gentle tree’s roots. He cradled Jungkook’s head to his chest, and smoothed over his back, big hands cascading over his bony spine and shoulder blades.

“I know. I know that what they did to you sits. It festers. It comes to you when you sleep, and when you see the bruises, or God, when you sit down,” Taehyung whispered into his hair. “But you are more than what they used you for, and I’m going to show you that. You’ll never have to worry about it happening to you again, little one. Ever.”

“Things still hurt…” Jungkook hiccuped. “And when I move, I can feel it, and I think about them.”

“Healing doesn’t come easy. I know that, because I never did, it turned me into who I am today. But I’m going to make sure you do if it’s the last thing I do before someone kills me off.” He kissed the tip of one of his ears, surprising even himself on that one. “We’re gonna get you to our doctor tomorrow, get you looked at. If something’s still hurting, that worries me. You might have a tear somewhere.”

“I think I do,” he murmured into Taehyung’s shirt, rubbing his nose into it sweetly. “I’m still bleeding a little bit.”

Taehyung clicked his tongue. “See, I really wish I knew all of this before so I could have taken a couple hostage and just really driven home how pissed off I am.” Giving up his aspirations, he pouted into fluffy, brown hair. “I’m sorry. I haven’t said that yet. I don’t like to, but I’ll give you one. I’m sorry that humans are so awful.”

“Not all are awful.” That overactive nose scrunched up and he could feel it on his chest. “Like you.”

“If only you knew, bunny.”

“I do. I know what you’ve done for me.” His runny nose and clogged up throat was clearing up. “I don’t care about anything else. My owner is good.”

“Your… owner?”

“You want to keep me. You gave me food, and cleaned me, and gave me somewhere to sleep. You’re holding me, making all the scary things go away. My owner.”

“Is that a good thing? Do you hybrids like having owners?”

He nodded, letting his eyelashes lay on his cheekbones. If he were a cat hybrid, he’d be purring at the hand continuously rubbing up and down his back.

“Mhm, but only if they’re nice to us.”

“Well… I guess nice is okay. I can be nice. I shoot people instead of gutting them. That’s nice, I think.”

And Taehyung was on the fence of whether or not it could be classified as twisted that the hybrid chuckled into his chest instead of fighting for his life to get the hell away from him, but it could be classified as relieving. If Jungkook wasn’t able to stomach thievery and murder, they’d be at a crossroads. Coming home to talk about his day would be one hell of a dilemma.

“Thank you,” Jungkook whispered. “Thank you for taking me. I was hurting. I was scared. And now I have you.”

Taehyung rolled over onto his back now that the dam had closed up. Jungkook’s eyes rattled in the dark, confused as to where to go from here, so Taehyung accepted his duty as owner and led him.

He patted on his chest. “Here. Lay your head here. Or anywhere, really. You could sleep at my feet for all I care.”

“My ears…”

“Oh well. I got a bunny hybrid of all hybrids. If I can’t handle a little bit of ear in my face, then I might as well give up here.”

Taking him for his word and finally getting a hang of all that sarcasm and pessimism, Jungkook rolled closer to him, resting his head on his chest. Hearing his heartbeat, he cuddled up to him, nervously stretching an arm over him. When Taehyung didn’t throw him off, he settled, going pliant and sleepy.

Ears in his face wasn’t as big of a problem as he suspected. Mostly because Jungkook’s ears weren’t long and pointy. He must’ve had a genetic twist, because he wasn’t a hare, nor was he a lop eared bunny, but somewhere in between. Not as short as cat ears, and still rounded upward, but they just barely nicked his chin. If he looked down, he’d graze them.

“You feel better?”

“Mhm. ‘M not scared anymore.”

“You shouldn’t be. Anyone comes through that door that doesn’t have my permission isn’t making it three steps in. You’re always safe if I’m here.”

The temptation to touch the hybrid was strong. No factual evidence could back it, neither could emotion, because he wasn’t desperate for it in his head. There was just a gravitational pull between his hands and Jungkook’s body.

He scratched idly along the arm slung over his stomach, nails like a feather on his skin. Again, purring, he’d be doing it.

“I know,” Jungkook whispered.

“I need you to know that, because if you’re here, you’re always at risk. But I will always do everything in my power to keep you safe, and there’s a lot of power in my hands. The only thing that could stop me is if I’m dead, and that’s not happening anytime soon.”

“I know you could have better. I know I’m just something you found hidden away,” Jungkook said, sleep evident in his voice. “But I will be the best I can be for you.”

Taehyung sighed. Oh, how the world worked.

“Don’t bother asking me in the morning if I’m keeping you,” he said, seeking out an ear to brush his lips across. “It’d be a waste of time, because I already know I am.”


April 14th

It was afternoon and Taehyung still hadn’t come out of his cave. He never slept this late. He was a fitful sleeper, woke up to the meekest of sounds, and saw the sun just as it was rising.

Growing concerned that perhaps that hybrid really was just a ploy and he’d slit Taehyung’s throat overnight, Jimin tried at his doorknob, found it wasn’t locked, and called it fair game. Everyone knows you lock your door when Jimin’s your neighbor.

He opened the door half expecting blood trickling from the bed and the sour stench of a rotting body, a note describing the Opalites’ grand scheme to take down their leader.

Instead, he found what he would call more troubling.

On the floor, snoozing on a makeshift palette next to an empty, luxurious bed, was Taehyung, with his new to him hybrid slung over his chest, probably crushing his ribs right now. While sleeping, Jungkook had managed to shift further over him, chest to chest, forehead to opposite collarbone, and legs tangled like vines. Taehyung tucked him in close, hand on his waist and head craned back in a deep sleep.

If Jimin had his phone on hand, he would’ve already filled up his storage with pictures.

He’d never seen anyone sleep with Taehyung, let alone touch him in his sleep. Honestly, he did leave them last night pondering how they’d sleep, but no options came down to this. What unraveled to lead them there was a conversation he couldn’t wait to partake in.

He cracked the door behind him before anyone less deserving saw this event of adorable and cleared his throat, low, just enough that he knew it wouldn’t wake the hybrid, but definitely sense sensitive Taehyung.

His eyes fluttered open, one clenched shut in both exhaustion and sensitivity to the light. He met eyes with Jimin, took in his situation, and deemed himself the unluckiest man alive.

“You’ve really outdone yourself.”

“Fuck off, Jimin,” he rumbled, morning voice deep in his chest.

“I know you hate sharing a bed, but you didn’t have to go this far, Taehyung. You could’ve just kicked him off the bed like you always do me.”

“I gave him the bed and took the floor. Didn’t want to share. But then he got scared and came down here and… well, shit happened.” He blinked languidly down at their bodies. “We weren’t this tangled up when I fell asleep.”

“Oh, I doubt that. Shut that lying mouth of yours.” He leaned against the doorframe. “He looks comfortable,” he said, switching the tone like he always managed to do so flawlessly. “Probably hasn’t slept that well in years.”

“Feels like he is,” Taehyung said with a wince. “I told him last night I’d keep him. I meant it, too, Jimin.”

Smiling, his eyes turned to satin. “Good, Tae. I knew you were going to, but I hoped you would, anyways. He’s a good kid, deserves someone like you. Plus—” he shrugged, “—he might be the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever seen and I want to keep him.”

Taehyung grinned, rubbing up his back. Ears twitched by his cheek. “He is cute, huh?”

“That word sounds weird coming from your mouth, but just right. Maybe this thing isn’t so far off your path after all, bunny owner.”

“He’s damaged. There’s a lot in the way, Jimin. A lot we’ll have to fix and face, but I think he can do it. Hell, I couldn’t do it for myself, but I think I can do it for him.”

Jimin’s smile was getting fonder and fonder and his eyes could easily hold all the planets in them. Watching Taehyung bloom right before his eyes was tremendous and terrifying all at once. It was a long time coming.

“You can. You have to. Seems to me like your second chance came in the form of a bunny.” He danced two fingers in the air in long strides. “Hopped right into your heart.”

Taehyung laughed—reeled at the second chance part—but laughed, and the hybrid lying on top of him stirred, mumbling something into his collarbone. He lifted his head, Taehyung searched for his eyes, and Jimin panicked.

Jimin stumbled back for the door. “Gotta go.”

“You don’t have to—”

“If you don’t realize what an intimate moment is, you are seriously hopeless, you dunce,” Jimin exasperated as he swung the door closed behind him, doing so quietly as to not scare the rabbit.

Jungkook didn’t get straight up when he roused awake. Feeling Taehyung breathe underneath him, the hand soothing at his back, and the eyes that sought after his, he came to, for the first time ever, in a bed with an owner.

It was lovely. Just lovely. Waking up alone in a basement to scratchy skin was tough luck compared to the rise and fall of a steady chest beneath his. Getting up and away was not a viable option for him.

Jungkook kneaded into him, nosing into the arch of his collarbone, and pulled his arm up and underneath him, scrunching it up between them. Taehyung took the snuggle well, seeing as how snuggling was not in his archive of actions.

He breathed in heavy and deep, drowsy and lazy. “How long were you planning on sleeping, bunny?”

“Until you woke me up.”

Taehyung chuckled. “I like the honesty. Sleeping in this late isn’t something I usually do. It must’ve been the fact that my body felt like it was buried six feet under—figured there was no point in waking up.”

“I don’t sleep in either,” Jungkook mumbled into his shirt. “I couldn’t back there.”

“Well, you can sleep all you want when you’re here. Not really expecting you to do anything else, so, sleep to your heart’s content.”

“Is this—” He stopped, and got up on Taehyung’s chest, bracing himself on his wrists. His raw, red wrists. “Is every morning going to be like this? You told me not to ask, but… I’m scared you’ll change your mind.”

Taehyung smiled at him, and slid his hands up his back. Touching the hybrid was becoming a go-to thing for him. Normal, easy, not at all as ledge-skimming as it once was.

“I might not be here some mornings, some nights, but I’ll still come back to you. I’ll still be your owner.” One hand played on Jungkook’s back, while the other edged up his neck and to his head, massaging behind his ears. Chills ran up the hybrid’s spine. “I’m a man of my word, Jungkook. I do what I say and I don’t look back. I wouldn’t be alive today if I second guessed myself. You’re staying, and that’s my word.”

“Okay,” he whispered, eyes sliding closed at the nice tingles in his scalp and up his ears. “I trust you.”

What did I tell you? Taehyung almost erupted. To stop trusting men like him. To assume the worst. To keep guarded, keep a distance, and never turn a blind eye. But he knew the hybrid would no matter what. It was in his blood to be naive, gullible, childish, trusting. He’d crawl straight to the hand that slapped him down in the first place.

It was up to Taehyung to show him his DNA wasn’t at fault. Society was the issue here, not the blue skies and daisies in loving hybrids’ heads. He just had to be the first person to take that trust and uphold it.

“You can,” Taehyung said. “I’ll let you trust me. But you have to tell me something first.” He wanted to hold the hybrid closer than he’d ever let anyone get. “I wasn’t made to care for someone else. I was made to tear things apart. If I ever become something that is not good for you, you get away. Tell me you will.”

“I don’t know how to get away.”

“You will. You will if I’m tearing things apart, Jungkook. It’ll be the only thing you’ll want to do.” His heart beat hard against his chest. “It’s all I ask if you want to mix me and trust together.”

“Is it something you do a lot? Tear things apart?”

“No. But when I do...” Taehyung breathed in the smell of his own shampoo in the brush of white fur. “God, I hope you aren’t there.”

Because when Taehyung counted on his fingers how many men he’d killed, a finger counted for a hundred, and by the end of this year, he’d be out of fingers. And a man like that couldn’t help but lose himself in all the destruction.

Chapter Text

WARNING: This chapter contains explicit details of sexual abuse and real-life aftermath brought up during a medical/physical examination. If you do not want to read that part of this chapter, stop when Hoseok brings them into the examination room. You can pick back up when they return to the room, marked by a (***).


“Now, listen to me. We’re gonna get dressed and we’re gonna take a little walk to the infirmary.” Taehyung tugged like a feather at one of his ears, urging him to look at him instead of stuffing his face in his neck. “You’re in one hell of a shape and we’ve got some things to fix. It’s going to be scary, it’s going to hurt, but you’re going to be brave.”

“Is it… a boy doctor?”

“Yes,” Taehyung said, wilting at the anxiety that surged up in the hybrid’s eyes. “But he’s been with me for years. He’s going to take care of you, and I’m going to be right there the whole time. I’m not going to leave you alone with him.”

“You said not to trust anyone else but you.”

“Don’t. You don’t need to trust him. You need to trust that I will step in if anything seems off. Trust me, not him.”

After a little bit of candy coated coaxing, he finally got Jungkook on board. Not trusting someone was harder to comprehend than trusting everyone, they figured out, and it opened up more doorways of fear for the hybrid.

But Taehyung marked that a-okay. Being scared of strangers could save his life.

They ate a late lunch together. Jungkook more so than Taehyung, who hadn’t starved for years. The rabbit ate slower this time, more like he was hungry than someone was off to the side about to steal his food.

He let Jungkook’s stomach settle by giving him a brush to comb out his hair and the short, little hairs on his ears. His bunny tail was still a mystery to Taehyung. Catching a glimpse of it always mystified him.

Meanwhile, he called their resident doctor, specialized in removing a fuckton of bullets and splicing together something out of the remains of a blown open shoulder.

Doing an exam on Jungkook would either be the easiest job of his life, or the most morally challenging.

“Hey, doc,” he said when the phone clicked, and paced absentmindedly.

“What’s up, boss? Don’t tell me some little diamond necklace foragers got a bullet in you.”

“You really think I would’ve waited until morning?”

“Don’t play innocent. Real convenient how you forgot about the three infections I’ve had to treat for you because your dumbass said they were paper cuts.”

“Touché. Listen, I got one for you.”

“Would it happen to do with the talk of the day hybrid you carried into our base last night?”

“Bingo. You’ve got zingers today.” He took a good breath, dropped the humor, and replaced it with seldom. “He’s bad off. Those animals got him looking like a voodoo doll victim. His wrists and ankles are ruined, wouldn’t be surprised if something in him was broken, and he’s been sexually assaulted so many times that I don’t even know what could be wrong down there.”

The doctor sighed in grief. “Shit. Okay.”

“Think you can do that? Examine everything. Find out if there’s tearing, lesions, infections, hell, STDs.” He lowered his voice. “Can you?”

“I… yeah. Yeah, I can do it. I’d rather you hand me a shattered finger and tell me to make it all better overnight, but I can do it. How’s his temperament?”

“Scared. Not gonna lie to you. Doesn’t want to be hurt anymore, I can tell you that. But he’s sweet, pretty calm, and listens well. If he starts freaking out, I’ll be able to bring him back down. I know that much.”

“I can work with that. As long as he isn’t hissing and clawing at me, I can make it work.”

“He’s not a cat hybrid. There’s a difference, you racist.”

“Okay, sorry, as long as Thumper doesn’t go kicking the shit out of me and bouncing off the table. That better?”

“Better. Fits the species, you know? Remember those childhood books all about cute animals, like bunnies and cats and sheep. Don’t know if you read any or—” Click. “Doc?”

He smirked to himself. Chats with Hoseok were always entertaining.

Dressing Jungkook was more interesting this time around, because Taehyung had a hand in it. If they were going to drag him into the infirmary, expect him to just lay there and take being poked and prodded, then Taehyung should atleast have an idea of the damages.

“You want to look at me?”

“Yeah, but not just to stare at you. I need to know what’s hurt so I can tell him. I should’ve looked yesterday.” He stood, expecting, waiting. “I’m your owner now, right? That means I’m supposed to take care of you. I need to know the condition you’re in—what those low lifes did.”

“You told me to never undress in front anyone.”

“There are special circumstances, Jungkook. You don’t ever undress in front of anyone else, under any circumstances, I can tell you that. But this is different.”

“I… okay,” Jungkook muttered, fiddling with a button, casting his eyes to the floor. “I understand. You can watch.”

“Well, don’t say it like that,” Taehyung vexxed. This whole owner shebang was throwing him on a doozy. “I’m not watching you. I’m assessing you. I want to see what might hurt if I touch you, what I might miss because it’s covered up. That’s all. I’m not looking at you. That’s the last thing I want to do a day after scooping you out of hybrid hell.”

Thing is, Jungkook was taught at a young age that listening and acting obediently was all that mattered when in the presence of an owner. They tell you what to do, and you do it. He got the impression that Taehyung wasn’t like most owners and rather he’d speak up if uncomfortable or disagreeing of an order, but blame his biology for disregarding that and diving right in to unbutton his shirt.

“I’m skinny. I know that. And there’s black and blue, and some parts of me are yellow. I’m all sorts of colors,” he forewarned.

Taehyung watched him unbutton his shirt. “I know… what I have seen, I know it doesn’t stop there. It can’t.”

The last button unhitched, clicking in the quiet room, and it fell open, wafting back against his hips. He un-cuffed his sleeves from his hands, and neatly rolled up the shirt before placing it back on the bed.

Taehyung hadn’t been able to see beneath his shirt when he rescued Jungkook. What lay there was heartbreaking. Bruises, everywhere. Ribs covered in purple and sick yellow, chest black and hickeys scattered everywhere. Bruises ran down his hips and disappeared underneath his boxers that fit him like sleep shorts. From hands, fists, shoes, Taehyung didn’t know, but it didn’t matter now.

“Okay,” Taehyung sighed. “I see a few cuts. I’ll make sure he sees those… and under that cluster of bruises there, to make sure nothing’s broken.”

He’d never found a shirt so quick in his life. Seeing Jungkook’s bones protrude through his skin was too much for Taehyung to handle. How anyone could look at this sweet hybrid and make it a point not to feed him was beyond him.

He pulled out a light-weight long sleeve, black and thin. It hung over Jungkook’s hands and nearly surpassed his boxers. A pair of navy blue socks and Taehyung thought him prepared, looking him over once more.

“Alright. Doc said he’s free to see you. On a scale of one to ten, how ready are you to walk out there?”

“Around the other people?” Taehyung nodded. “Four.”

“You’re—”

“But that’s okay, because I’ll be with you.” He tentatively pinched the end of Taehyung’s button-up sleeve, still on the edge of how much he was allowed to touch him. “Right?”

“That’s right. Jungkook, I’m their leader. I promise no one’s going to mess with you. If anything, all the people past that door totally have the capability of forgetting who they are to become gushy, man-children. A little hybrid like you? They’re just gonna wanna play with your ears.”

“No one’s going to be mean?”

“Little one, if someone’s mean, I might have to tell you to cover your ears again,” Taehyung told him. “C’mon. You can hold onto my shirt. Whatever helps you.”

“Please,” he whispered, and took a firmer grasp.

“Here, just—” Taehyung prompted. He took Jungkook’s hand and moved it to curl around just above the bend of his elbow, smiling at him. “Like that.”

Jungkook ducked his head, eyes fluttering to the side. If Taehyung had to make a guess, he looked a whole lot like he was being shy. Like his crush just gave him flowers. Looping arms like he was just invited to dance with Taehyung had the hybrid blushing.

His owner was handsome, and kind. Things like this just made him giddy. Only one day out of his hell, he was walking on clouds.

Taehyung escorted them to the door. Slowly, he cracked it open, let Jungkook take in a good view of the area and prepare himself, and led him out. Because his bedroom was at the back of the facility, no one was passing by in any of the hallways that they traveled.

The long hallways from his bedroom to the rest of the headquarters was uneventful, not an eye to fall upon them, but as they integrated into the busy sections, the little hand on Taehyung’s hand got tighter and he knew he’d have to put on the face of the Viper.

He hardened his eyes, nothing like he’d let Jungkook see for the past twelve hours, and scanned the crowd with a perfect concoction of disinterest and warning. Disinterest because he didn’t deem a soul as a threat, but a warning because if they were stupid enough to try, he’d waste some energy to draw his gun.

It was a fuck off face. A come up to me right now and your ass will get laid out face. It wasn’t a new face, quite familiar actually, but today it wasn’t to guard himself, but the little hybrid on his arm.

Jungkook was a buzz, a giant gossip token, and a radiance that stole everyone’s attention and curiosity. But even more so, it was the fact that he was a bony, bruised up thing, and a rare bunny hybrid at that.

Basically, Jungkook never stood a chance of laying low.

Their eyes weren’t so much of a problem to Taehyung as they were annoying. Minding your own business was in the top ten rules of the underground, because a lot of people had a lot of business, and the more you stuck your nose in places it didn't belong, the closer you inched yourself to death. They knew better, yet they stared at Jungkook nonetheless.

“This is where most people hang out,” Taehyung told him, leaning down so he could hear him. Those big ears were ringing from all the noise. “The infirmary is this way. Won’t be long.”

Idiot, he thought to himself. They almost cleared out the public area, were this close to crossing to the hallway that led to the infirmary, when some asshole had to do it.

“What’s a little bunny rabbit hybrid doing in a place like this with a guy like you?”

Taehyung came to a stop quicker than the man could tense up. He sat at a table with a Violet who Taehyung recognized—a man who stared at his friend like he was a moron—and had a drink in his hand, head cocked up to look at Taehyung with beady eyes.

Taehyung craned his head to the side, looked him up and down, and felt the room’s vibration lower—quiet, nearly silent.

“Good. I’m glad someone decided to make an example of themselves.” He frowned. “Who are you?” he asked, complete disrespect in his tone, like asking took too much of his time.

“I’m…” He came all too late to the conclusion that opening his mouth was the last thing he should have done. “Tojin. Joined a week ago.”

“Tojin,” Taehyung rolled around in his mouth, and checked in the corner of his eye to make sure Jungkook wasn’t having a panic attack. “Dreadful to meet you. If I ever see you again in my building, I’ll do what I’m too lazy to do right now. Consider yourself lucky.” He glanced to the other man at the table. “Tell your friend what happened to the last person who left their brain back in society.”

He stepped forward and left the silence behind him. The talking picked up in his wake, hushed and uncertain.

“Sorry,” he said to Jungkook when they trotted into the hallway. “Never seen him before. He doesn’t know how it works here. The rest aren’t stupid enough to do something like that.”

“They all got quiet when you talked.”

“I’m their leader,” Taehyung reminded him gently, giving it easy because being owned by the leader of a mafia wasn’t so easy to take in. “They always listen to me.”

“Did they all join because of you?”

“Technically. I don’t remember giving the okay for that guy, to be honest, but I must’ve been half asleep.”

“So you made everything here?” Jungkook asked, looking up at the framed pictures on the walls. “You’re their leader.”

“I built this empire. Some days, I’m not too sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Depends on the day. Today, I’d say it’s a good thing.” He tugged Jungkook down a separate hallway. “If it weren’t for making this place, those men wouldn’t have a place to sleep, and you would still be with the Opalites.”

Jungkook squeezed his hand. “I’m glad you made this place.”

“I know you are, little one.”

They came to the infirmary where seats lined up against the walls in a morbid parody of a waiting room. No one waited for each other here. If Jimin had his leg blown off, Taehyung would be breathing down the doctor’s neck—not on a chair in an empty room. And his regular men, the ones who formed bonds and found friends, they sulked in their rooms and prepared to lose yet another person in their life.

Behind the desk was a neat looking man with chocolate hair and a prominent nose and dazzling eyes, pursing his lips at a diagram in boredom. He was studying something, eyes reading in lines and teeth pinching the inside of his cheek in thought.

“Long time no see.”

The stranger looked up. “Because you’re the only one in this place who doesn’t get himself hurt.” Though, the both of them knew Jimin and Namjoon weren’t included in that. The former danced around bullets and the latter never saw them. “Good to see ya. Heard good news about the takedown.”

He stood up and approached them casually, sparing a subsided glance at the hybrid. He’d cross that bridge when he came to it. Hand extended, Taehyung took it gruffly, clasping their hands in a clap.

“It went flawlessly. Not exactly smoothly, but without flaws—thanks to this one.” Taehyung smiled down at the hybrid. No flaws, because this one couldn’t do wrong. “This is Jungkook. This is the hybrid I told you about.”

Hoseok crossed the bridge, bowing politely with a soft smile on his face. “Hey there, Jungkook. That’s a nice name. I’m Hoseok, the resident doctor for this place.”

Ears bent back shyly, Jungkook blinked up at him. “It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Hoseok.”

“Just call me Hoseok.” When his back straightened, he sighed at Taehyung. “Oh, Taehyung. He’s darling,” he said like they were in a suburban neighborhood and Taehyung just made his first lap with a full stroller.

Taehyung just smiled. “He’s a sweet one. Just hasn’t had a good go at it, that’s all.”

“But he’s managed to be this sweet after all that?” Then, as if he realized they weren’t alone in this room and their subject was right there, he stopped. “I’m sorry, Jungkook. I don’t mean to be rude. I don’t get to treat hybrids very often, for years, actually. I’m just very grateful to have the chance to help you feel better.”

“Do you… do you know what could be wrong with me?”

“Oh, I think I have an idea.” He nodded towards the door to the examination room. “Let’s head back.”

Hoseok looked at Taehyung, and the two came to silent understanding. The boy had been kept from civilization for too long. Taehyung hoped that maybe Hoseok had some training in that too—early development, stunted growth, repressed social skills and knowledge.

It wasn’t that it bothered Taehyung. He didn’t get to be picky about the hybrid that he picked up at a submerged warehouse. Jungkook could be mute for all he cared, as long as he had food in his stomach and somewhere to use the bathroom with dignity.

But it upset him for Jungkook.

He wanted the boy to understand his surroundings. To not get shy and quiet when he spoke knowing full and well that what came out of his mouth probably wasn’t a hundred percent right. He wanted Jungkook to be confident and comfortable with himself.

“Do you remember what we talked about?” Taehyung asked.

Jungkook nodded. “Yes.” Hoseok listened in.

“This isn’t going to be fun. It might hurt, and it might scare you, but we have to do it, right?” Jungkook nodded. “And if you have to take your clothes off, you remember that I’m right there, right?”

Another nod, because Jungkook’s nerves were setting in. The door shut behind them—after Hoseok flipped his sign to say go away—and his ears flinched hard with the sound.

“First, we’re just gonna get your weight and height, okay? Nothing scary. I can tell you now that you’re underweight, but I can tell you by how much afterwards.” Hoseok led him to the scale. “Go ahead and stand on it. Be still for me.”

Jungkook did as he was told. This wasn’t so scary. He could follow these orders without a sweat. He watched his own weight come up on the screen with curious eyes, oblivious to what weight he should be. To him, he was just looking at three random numbers.

“Okay… we got ‘ya at 5’7 and 121 lbs.” Hoseok frowned, quirking one side of his lip in grimace. “I don’t know about that, buddy. That’s a dangerous low for your body size.”

Taehyung gingerly pulled him off the scale. “They didn’t feed him, and he lost all of his muscle mass from being chained up. There wasn’t a lot of moving around for him. Anything else worrying you?”

“Most of that would answer my worries, but because he was kept in bad conditions and fed probably morsels in a damp, dark environment, I might be concerned about any intestinal parasites,” Hoseok said. “But we’ll give him a few weeks of eating and walking before we start looking into that.”

“How low is he?”

“Ideally, he’d be at around 130.”

Damn,” Taehyung hissed, rubbing at Jungkook’s upper back, looking elsewhere thinking of all the meals he’s gonna have to come up with. “Gonna have to start feeding you better.”

“He’ll definitely need three, full meals a day. I wouldn’t even be against a smaller fourth one in there. He needs to start building up fat and muscle, gaining on his nutrients.”

“I’m… not enough?” Jungkook asked.

“Not enough,” Hoseok clarified. “You’re underweight by a good amount.”

“What happens when I’m underweight by a bad amount?”

Precious, they both thought, until they remembered the cause of his stumbling brain.

“The later stages of malnutrition can lead to organ failure, including the heart basically giving up,” Hoseok said, mostly talking to Taehyung, but glancing over at the hybrid to keep him involved. “His immune system is weak now, and it’ll only get weaker if he continues like this. He’s greatly susceptible to illnesses right now, and may show signs of decreased energy or lethargy.”

Taehyung frowned. “But we can start to reverse it, right?”

“We can. Some of the damage is already done, but we can get him back to good health with time.”

“Damage?” Jungkook asked.

Hoseok waved him to follow. “Let’s get you to the exam room so I can answer every question you’ve got for me.”

“Careful what you wish for,” Taehyung said. “He’s got a lot of them.”

“Good,” Hoseok said, sticking his hands in his lab coat pockets. “The more he talks, the better.”

The exam room was everything Jungkook expected it to be. Clean and comfortable, with a violet patient bed and a matching visitor’s chair. The floors had changed from the marble the rest of the mansion came packing with to a mellow hardwood floor.

“Go ahead and sit on the chair, my little patient. Today it’s all about you.” He plucked latex gloves out of a drawer and mumbled to himself, “Though, I have a feeling that’ll be every day now that you’re here.”

“C’mon up,” Taehyung said, helping him up on the chair.

Pushing himself up when walking itself was a brand new thing for him was nearly impossible. Taehyung held one hand and used his leg to push him up, chuckling when Jungkook snickered at the ticklish spot behind his knee.

Hoseok watched from afar, sitting on his rolly chair with a fond look. The hybrid had a cute laugh.

“Alright, Jungkook. Do you remember what it’s like to have visits with the doctor?” He politely shook his head. “That’s okay. I’m going to ask you some questions, and you just tell me whatever comes to mind. Try to be as clear and precise as you can be, okay? That makes it easier for me to take care of you the best that I can.” He politely nodded his head. “Now, I understand what we’ll talk about today may be upsetting to you and you might not want to think about it. If it upsets you, let me know and take your time. We have all day.”

“And if you don’t know something, it’s okay,” Taehyung added, dragging the visitor’s seat closer to the bed, refusing to be far from his hybrid being pried open for medicine.

“Okay, Jungkook,” Hoseok started, whipping out a small notepad from him coat pocket, setting it on his thigh. “How long were you at that place?”

“I don’t know. I think more than two years, though.”

“How much more? Would you say closer to two years or closer to five years?”

“Um, maybe, five years.”

“And were you in a similar situation before that place?”

“No, I had an owner before.”

“Okay,” Hoseok said, scribbling, then looked back up. “How long would you say the sexual abuse had been going on?”

There they were. The bomb had been dropped. It’s radiation was already eating away at their bones.

He found his thumbs to be interesting. “Since they took me.”

“And was this an everyday thing or every now and then?”

“Sometimes every day. Sometimes it stopped for a couple days. Different people.”

“Different people. Okay. And did they hit you too? Did they hurt you in any other way?”

“Mhm. They hit me and kicked me. Sometimes they burned me with their cigarettes and other stuff.” He tried to think back to all the horrors they did. “Um, d—does the first part count as what they did to my mouth o—or is that this question?”

Hearts fallen and hopes crushed, Taehyung peered at the floor and Hoseok said, “I’m about to ask you some questions about the sexual abuse, so stick that one in your mind so you don’t forget it. Now, what would you say is the other stuff?”

“Um, they made me drink stuff that I don’t know what it was. It made me all hot and itchy. They hurt me with knives too, and other things.”

“Like big, blunt objects? Those worry me, Jungkook, because those break bones and make you bleed on the inside.”

“A… a big piece of wood one time, but that was a while ago.”

“How long?”

Taehyung cleared his throat. “He doesn’t know anything about time if it wasn’t just this week. He just remembers when the sun came up and when it went down.”

“Got it,” Hoseok said, understanding now. It was futile to ask him. “Did you think they ever broke any of your bones? Were you unable to move an arm or a leg? Maybe not able to breathe?”

“There was one time I wasn’t able to breathe for a little bit, and my ribs were black. But I know they broke my wrist one time, because they put sticks on my wrist and taped them there.”

“They treated it there?” Hoseok asked in shock.

Taehyung looked down at his lap in annoyance, scrubbing at one of his eyes. Fucking scoundrels couldn’t even take the poor thing to a proper hospital.

“Yes. It kept swelling up, so they gave me pills, but they just made me really sleepy. They changed the sticks a lot, and when they did, my wrist turned a weird way.”

“Which wrist was it?”

Jungkook held up his left wrist. It looked normal to Taehyung, but the man with a medical degree who saw more than enough breaks in his life spotted a bulge on his bone.

“I’ll check that during the exam. It probably healed a little wonky. Do your ribs still hurt?”

“No. They only hurt for a couple weeks.”

“Broken ribs heal well on their own.” Hoseok took a second to gather his thoughts, no doubt coming to his own conclusion. “Now. The sexual abuse. Tell me if you need a second while we’re talking about it.” Jungkook nodded. “During the abuse, did they ever insert anything inside of you that was not their penis?”

Jungkook nodded, face creeping up in a red and ears falling back on his head. “Yes.”

“What did they use?”

Jungkook’s mouth opened wordlessly, and when he looked down at Taehyung, his tight chest was as evident in his eyes as the shame was on his cheeks.

“It’s okay, Jungkook,” Taehyung reassured him, sitting up in his chair. “You don’t need to be ashamed. None of this is your fault and no one’s here to judge you. We just want to help.”

“I’m sorry for prying, Jungkook, but the reason this question is very important is because if they used anything sharp, cuts inside of you can easily become infected and make you sick.”

Jungkook nodded. “A bottle. I don’t… think it was sharp. Some days I couldn’t feel anything, so it could have been. The side of a knife that wasn’t sharp—”

“The handle,” Taehyung taught with nausea on his tongue.

“And guns, too. The part where the bullet comes from.”

Their eyes widened before they could get a hold of their emotional reflexes.

“Was it loaded?” Taehyung asked stiffly.

“I don’t know…”

“Did you hear a click before they used it?”

Hoseok had heard that voice before. He’d heard it right before Taehyung swept everything off of the examination table and snapped his trigger at the floor, because he’d gotten back the results of Jimin’s examination—comatose. Two years ago wasn’t an easy time for the Violets.

That voice was a barely contained fury. It was the beginning of a cruel and ruthless thought process. The first plan to thinking up how and who he was going to kidnap and which part of their body he was going to take off first.

“A little one, and then a loud one.” He kept his eyes on his own legs. “He said things like he was going to pull the trigger. I’m sorry. I can’t remember anymore.”

Taehyung didn’t say anything, only sat back in his seat. He knew this was going to be difficult for Jungkook, and marginally so for himself, but he’d seen a man scalped one section at a time—things like this were nothing.

Except they weren’t, he realized. Sexual assault was a heinous crime, one that was lashed out with sickening power and handed out a shame that couldn’t be rivaled. It was the most personally vindictive thing you could do to someone, and it was so much worse when it was done to a defenseless hybrid.

Hoseok talked through the silence.

“Okay. You’re doing great, Jungkook. Hang in there a little longer. Did they ever hurt your penis?”

Jungkook fidgeted in his seat. “I don’t think so.”

“You don’t think so?”

“They—I don’t know what hurt is.”

“It would be something you didn’t like. Something that was painful.”

“Everything they did was hurting you,” Taehyung said, shining some light on the situation. “So just tell us what they did, because I promise it counts as hurting.”

“Okay, um, they made me lay down one time and put a piece of straw in where I pee.”

The quiet room exploded with Taehyung’s groan, sliding down in his chair with legs spread. He leant his head back, scrubbing at his face, hiding the look of murder.

“Taehyung,” Hoseok warned.

“I’m sorry,” he snapped, dropping his hands on his lap. “But they were sounding a hybrid who had no idea what was going on!”

“I know, but you need to calm down,” he said, looking over at Jungkook pointedly.

The hybrid’s ears were on his skull at this point, shoulders scrunched in and cheeks so red that they feared the little one was going to start crying at any time. His nervous hands played with each other on his thighs.

Taehyung took a calming, deep breath.

“Bunny, look at me.” He did, hesitantly, with the overwhelming urge to look away. “I’m just upset because they took advantage of you. That’s all. Nothing to do with you, always remember that. I know it isn’t easy to tell us any of this and you’re doing wonderful.”

“I don’t like you knowing what they did.”

“I like knowing,” Taehyung said. “I want to know what they did so I know what I need to fix. So, I need you to keep telling Hoseok everything you know.”

“Can you…” His hand twitched. “Can you hold my hand?”

Then, Hoseok was interested. Their relationship had already taken him by surprise, because he’d never seen Taehyung be so domestic and sweet with anyone. His love for Jimin and Namjoon were hidden under snarky comments and running into the middle of guns blazing to drag them to safety, not calling them cutesy names and speaking softly.

Now he really wanted to see if the famed Viper would allow himself to look so weak in front of one of his men.

For this hybrid, Taehyung would. Without question, without any second thoughts, he reached for the boy’s hand, letting it rest on his thin thigh. Those sulking ears crept back up, as did his lips, smiling little and happy.

“Better?” Taehyung asked.

“Better.”

Not too sure if he wanted to impede this moment or not, Hoseok said rather quietly, “Did they do anything else down there that I should know about?”

“No.”

“Did it burn to pee after they did those things?”

Jungkook’s ear tweaked in confusion. “A little, but it went away.”

“Well,” Hoseok sighed, clicking his tongue. “What they did was incredibly unsanitary and straw often has a lot of debris on it, and dust too, so I figured a UTI would occur. Does it burn right now?”

“No. They haven’t done it in a while.”

“Good. Let me know if it does burn and I’ll get you some medication for it. UTIs can be reoccuring,” Hoseok said. “Does it hurt when you go to the bathroom on the other end?” Taehyung watched him nod. “Is there any bleeding?”

“A lot when they did stuff with me, and dots all the time.”

“All the time?” Hoseok asked in concern. “Like right now?”

“I can’t feel it, but usually when I take my pants off, there are little dots in my underwear. There were this morning. When I was at that place, it would get on my bed—”

“On the straw ,” Taehyung corrected bitterly.

“And does anything hurt?”

“It always hurts.”

“Inside or outside?”

“Both of them hurt.”

Taehyung thought about all the times he’d seen the boy sit down slow and careful, and just how many times he’d seen him shift in discomfort just here in the examination room.

“Alright,” Hoseok said quietly, jotting down something in his little notepad. “Now, you mentioned something about your mouth? Did they perform oral sex on you?”

He nodded shakily. “They did. It made my jaw hurt and sometimes I threw up.” Taehyung’s hand hardened around his.

“That’s because they hit your gag reflex. Does your jaw ever hurt now?”

“No, not anymore.”

“Yeah, because we aren’t—” Taehyung thought better of it, and blinked stubbornly. “Sorry, nevermind.”

Hoseok snorted at his leader’s endearing attempt to wrangle in his loud mouth.

“Is there anything else that’s hurting you before we begin the exam? Besides any bruises and scratches, because I’m going to look at all of those.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Good, then—”

“One sec,” Taehyung said, and looked up at Jungkook. “Hey, bunny, cover your ears for a second. I need to talk to the doctor alone.”

Hoseok looked between them in confusion, and wasn’t all too surprised when the hybrid followed his order smoothly. He obediently clasped his hands over his ears and dropped his head, humming down at his lap.

“Wow, that works well,” Hoseok said in awe.

“Listen, there’s something I want you to check,” Taehyung said, leaning in close. Hoseok met him halfway. “They had him shitting and pissing in buckets right next to where he was chained. Check his lungs to make sure they haven’t fucked him for life breathing that in day and night.”

Hoseok scoffed. “Never been so happy for a raid in my life. It’s taking a lot not to get pissed, Tae.”

“Tell me about it. Imagine having to carry him out of there because he hadn’t walked in God knows how long.”

“Yeah, fuck that. I’ll check.”

They separated, secrets formed between each other, and Taehyung tapped on Jungkook’s thigh, meeting him with a smile when he peeked up with only one eye.

“We’re done, little one.”

“I’m gonna just start with the normal stuff. Check your heart, your lungs, your blood pressure. We’ll make sure your jaw’s doing okay, feel around your bones, check your reflexes, your ears and your mouth. All the good and easy stuff.”

His heart sounded okay, and so did his lungs, which Hoseok announced while looking Taehyung in the eyes. His blood pressure was a little low from dehydration and lack of nutrients. His bones passed the test—the broken wrist mended in it’s own and left no remnants of pain. His reflexes were a little too jittery for Hoseok’s liking, but that was expected for a flighty hybrid.

“Okay, let’s check your mouth.” Hoseok rolled forward until he was against the hybrid’s knees. Soon, he’d be in between them and his hands got sweaty just thinking about it.

Gloves on, he felt the hinges of Jungkook’s jaw, asking him to open and close his mouth, massaging into the discs.

“That hurt any?” Jungkook shook his head. He went into the inside of his mouth with one finger, pushing into his jaw and observing the boy’s face. He winced an eye, but didn’t groan in pain. “What about that?” Again he shook his head. “Let me get a look at the inside. Open wide for me.”

He took a tongue depressor and flattened Jungkook’s tongue, looking up into his mouth with a miniscule light.

“I need to get him to a dentist. Tough luck that he had a toothbrush at any time that they had him.”

“You need to,” Hoseok said, busy examining his mullers. “Has some cavities in the back. A few spots of rotting. We can slow it down, but he’ll probably need replacements in the next few years.”

Taehyung wasn’t shocked. “I can take care of that. I’ll make sure he gets to someone soon.”

“Any of your teeth sensitive, Jungkook?”

“They hurt if I bite down the wrong way.”

“All of them?”

“The ones in the back.”

“Yeah, those are the ones with cavities. But no worries, buddy, those can be fixed.” He rolled back, letting him shut his mouth. “Good news is, your jaw is just fine, and there’s no sign of any abrasions in the back of your throat.”

“So I’m okay?”

“Your teeth need some looking at, but that’s easy-peasy.” Only because his owner was Taehyung. The way Hoseok was talking sounded like tens of thousands of dollars, but Taehyung’s bank account could handle it if it were the last cent he had left. “Last thing is your ears.”

“My ears?”

“Mhm. I did some research waiting for you to come see me. Rabbit hybrids are pretty rare, so I’ve never gotten my hands on one of you guys to actually work on. I needed to do some studying.” He stood up, changing his gloves so saliva wouldn’t mingle with his hair. “Turns out those ears of yours are actually quite complicated.”

“Mine?” Jungkook asked, pointing at his ears, Hoseok coming up next to him.

“Yup. You actually have two ear canals. A vertical and a horizontal, and then your ear drum. And your eustachian tube—” he slowed the word down, “—is much further in than ours. Your ears require much less cleaning than us because they’re vertical and require less protection. However—” he gingerly held one of his ears by the base and shone a light into his canal, “—knowing where you came from, that environment would not allow you to freely move your ears and break up any oils secreted.”

“How do they look?”

“Definitely need a cleaning. Oh, don’t—don’t bend it, little one. I can’t see.”

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook mumbled. “It feels weird.”

“I know it. I’ll clean ‘em up and then I’ll leave them alone. Your ears are special to you, aren’t they?” Hoseok asked with a smile, rummaging through the drawers for his tools.

“Yes, sir. I like them a lot. I try to keep them safe, but people like to pull them and grab them.”

Taehyung frowned. “I’m sorry.”

“I can tell,” Hoseok hummed, filling his hands with squares of gauze, ear cleaner, and a suction bulb. “They have some irritation not related to the canal oils.”

Hoseok started dowsing one of the gauzes with ear cleaner. Taehyung leaned forward on his elbows and said, “I won’t pull your ears, how’s that sound?”

“I know you wouldn’t,” Jungkook ensured him. “But it sounds nice anyways.”

“I’m gonna clean your ears a little bit. Try to keep them up and straight for me, okay? I’m gonna move them around a little bit but I won’t hurt them.”

Hoseok held onto the tips of his ears to clean the upper shelf of his ears, then the base to get in deeper. Jungkook winced and scrunched his shoulders up, but Hoseok just shushed him and kept cleaning. They weren’t horrible, but he’d rather they be spotless so they never had to do it again and his ears could take on the job from here on out.

“I don’t like it,” Jungkook whined.

“I know, I know,” Taehyung sighed. “It won’t be much longer. Stay still for the doctor.”

He finished up with the bulb. That part was easier. Jungkook didn’t even feel it when Hoseok suctioned out a good few bunches of earwax. The only thing he felt was a new opening in his ears. His heightened senses were finally coming back to what they once were.

“There,” Hoseok said happily, scratching at his head momentarily as a reward. “All done.” He tossed his gauzes, another pair of gloves, and was already searching for another pair when his shoulders squared out and Taehyung waited for the inevitable. “Jungkook, you’re initial exam is done. Do you know what we need to do next?”

That giggly, little smile he was giving Taehyung simmered down at the sobered voice. Taehyung had just been teasing him and his little ears and he was so happy. The world had to come and snatch it away from him like it always did.

“Is it the scary part?”

“Yeah. It’s the scary part,” he said regretfully. “Do you want me to tell you what we’ll be doing?” Jungkook nodded. “First, you’re going to take your clothes off so I can do a full examination. I’m going to look over your bruises and abrasions and note any that worry me, which I’ll treat if needed. I’m going to double check your penis to make sure it wasn’t damaged. Then, I’m going to examine you for any trauma whatsoever. I’m going to put something inside of you that will expand you just a little, just enough for me to see inside to decide if there are any tears. My main objection is to find out why you’re still continuing to bleed. Does anything that I just said feel wrong to you? Like there isn’t a good reason for me to touch there?”

A revelation landed on Taehyung.

Hoseok was a good human being. He dedicated his life to helping wayward men who never got a real good chance to make it in life in the quote-unquote correct way. He worked diligently, kindly, and carefully with his patient’s best interest in mind.

But the way he spoke to Jungkook, bringing up things he’d never even thought to touch on, it had him wondering if Hoseok had dealt with this before.

He went in thinking like the victim. After being sexually abused, their sexual parts were wrapped up in police tape and locked away in a box. If anyone were to go touching there, there’d better be a good reason for it or it would just send them right back to the mindset of yet another person is taking advantage of my body.

“No…” Jungkook murmured. “It’s a good reason.”

“Are you sure? Tell me if it isn’t.”

“It is. I could be hurt, and you’re just making sure I’m not.”

“Smart boy,” Hoseok said, and backed up. “Brave, more so than anything. Taehyung, I’m about to have him undress if you want to go ahead and step out.”

“Oh, I’m not leaving,” Taehyung informed him and stood up, pushing his chair back against the wall. “I’m staying with him through the entire thing.”

Hoseok’s eyebrows shot up. “Are you sure? It isn’t going to be pretty. He’s going to lay out and I’m going to be examining him, Taehyung. You need to be sure .”

“I’m not going anywhere.” When he met eyes with Hoseok, they were hard and definite. “I’m not the worthless vermin who called themselves his owners. I’m staying here.”

“Alright. I warned you. Jungkook, are you okay with him staying? You’re going to be naked and I just want to make sure you’re aware of all that’s about to happen.”

It was crazy to him that Hoseok would even think of asking that, but on second thought, he had no idea they’d spoken about this already. In the end, he was thankful for Hoseok looking out for the little guy.

“Please. I don’t want him to go.”

“That’s okay. He doesn’t have to go. Hop down and take your clothes off. Just take your time.” He took steps back, a measured amount, and gave him space. “You can leave your socks on so you’re not so cold.”

Taehyung helped him off of the bed. He cast a look at the sheets on it and hoped they were warm and comfortable. He didn’t want his hybrid laying down on unforgivingly cold sheets while baring to the world all that he had.

Jungkook stood on unsteady feet, holding onto Taehyung’s forearms for support, not quite ready to be back on the ground. His hands were already shaking, ears drawn back and eyes so big he thought stars should surround them.

“It’s okay. You’re safe,” Taehyung whispered, wrangling him back in, but no rope was strong enough to fight trauma left behind by years of abuse and neglect. “No one’s going to hurt you.”

“But he’s going to touch me.”

“He’s going to examine you. There’s a difference, little one. You have to remember that. Come on now. You can do it.”

“P—Please help me,” Jungkook mumbled, because his shaky hands were not getting any grip onto his shirt. “I can’t do it.”

“I’ve got you,” Taehyung said oh so softly, and all Hoseok could do was stand to the side with his clenching heart and his tumbling stomach.

He’d never worked with such a terrified subject, nevertheless a scared hybrid . They were just so much more gutting than a human because anything that ever happened to them was never their choice.

Taehyung lifted his shirt over his head, maneuvering it safely around his ears. They were so stuck to his head that they just bumped back on his skull. His radiant skin glowed in the examination room, a pretty white underneath all of that yellow and purple. The giant, newer bruise on his ribs was the first to catch Hoseok’s eye.

“Can you get your boxers?” Taehyung asked, and his stomach was hot now.

This was different from the room. The boy never had to completely undress himself. He still had some dignity, and still had that barrier between what happened to him and the present. He was protected with his boxers on, but the second he took those off, he was right back to being an experiment up for public use and speculation.

He could see the memories flashing through Jungkook’s eyes. Could see his body tighten and morph, thinking it was back in the basement of the warehouse, preparing for the inevitable.

“I—y—yeah.” He hooked his thumbs under his boxers, and then his cheeks started to tremble. His eyes swelled up until they clamped closed and tears welled up in the corners. “I can’t. I don’t—I’m scared.”

His voice broke, and so did Taehyung’s control. He couldn’t sit back and watch the boy fall apart all alone.

Taehyung swept him up in his arms, pulling him to his chest with a hand on the back of his head and the bony rocks of his bare back.

“You’re okay,” he whispered into Jungkook’s hair, dampening at the little cry in his shirt. “You’re okay. It’s okay to be scared. We know, little one. We do. No one’s expecting anything from you.” He looked up to see the miserable state that Hoseok was in—rubbing at his temples, getting a headache from seeing society’s horrors firsthand. “You have to be strong, remember? We do this and we’re done. No one will ever touch you again.”

“E—Ever?”

“Never ever. Your body will be yours. We don’t take anything that isn’t ours around here. I just need you to look at me, let the doctor do what he needs to, and you won’t be touched ever again.”

Jungkook stepped back with a loud sniff. His face was red and wet, and eyes glittering in shiny tears. He wiped at his eyes but it was mostly useless when it was just skin on skin, so Taehyung used his sleeves instead, soaking up the tears that left his skin glistening.

“Look at you… okay.”

This time when he hooked his thumbs on his boxers, he followed through. He did so slowly, regretting every second of it but knowing he couldn’t turn back, and let them drop to the floor.

Taehyung breathed, keeping his eyes up and on his ears. He rubbed at Jungkook’s upper arms.

“Okay, there you go. Good job. Good boy. C’mon up on the bed. Don’t think about it. Just up on the bed.”

Jungkook was making little whimpers in the back of his throat, hating his skin out in the open. He’d already been ashamed enough, hadn’t he? Wasn’t that enough for the world? Apparently not, because here he was, yet another spectacle to be poked and prodded at.

“Lay back, Jungkook,” Hoseok instructed.

Taehyung helped him up on the bed, eyes nowhere but up, keeping attached to the warbling eyes of his distressed hybrid. He was petrified, breath coming out high and in the middle of small cries.

He guided Jungkook back, cushioning his head back on the sheet. The hybrid instinctively wanted to curl his legs up. He wanted to bunch them up to his stomach, round himself in a tight ball, and hide every inch of his skin. But when one leg tried crossing over and Taehyung saw it, his wishes were thwarted.

“Can we cover him up just until you get down there?”

Hoseok shook his head. “I’m sorry. I don’t want anything to get in the way. I’ll be down there quicker than it would take to even cover him up.”

Taehyung had every bit of power to overrule him and tell him to get his ass to the cabinet and pull out a drape, but he was already asking for a lot here. Hoseok could have easily said this was out of his medical practice and forced him to go elsewhere.

Best not to bite the hand that feeds you, even if it’s just a piece of bread.

Jungkook reached for anything to grab. His arms, his face, anything he could touch. Taehyung grabbed one of the hands mindlessly looking for him and held it in firmly, letting the other wayward searcher bundle up his shirt.

Taehyung smoothed back his hair, shushing him and his tears and his hiccup-breathing.

“I’m right here. All of this is okay. I wouldn’t let anyone touch you if it were bad.”

Hoseok approached, eyes guarded and filmed over by a medical gaze. He switched his emotions off. His job was to examine his patient efficiently and detailed without taking up an hour of time. He had a job.

And so did Taehyung—to keep him calm.

Knowing their jobs, Hoseok hovered over him, pressing into his bruises and lining the cuts, scrutinizing them closely, screening the worst and the best and considering whether they needed medical attention or not.

“All of these look okay,” Hoseok mused quietly, mostly to himself, but if they were listening, then good for them. He pressed into Jungkook’s stomach and looked for any flinching or clenching. “No internal pain. Good. Sit up, please.”

Jungkook’s body was just mucus and emotional chaos when he sat up, most of his strength coming from Taehyung. The hands rubbing in between his ears quieted some of his crying, but one or two tears still strayed.

“I see the burns.”

That peaked Taehyung’s interest, because he hadn’t seen that in the brief examination he did himself. The bedroom wasn’t as bright as this one. It escaped his eye.

Four scars lined down his tailbone, until they disappeared down where his bottom half began to split. The size of a burning cigarette, four perfect circles, left behind on his body in a marred burgundy. Taehyung could already picture it. Bent in half, someone inside of him, and they painted their cigarette into the first part of his body that they saw.

“I see,” Taehyung said reticently.

“You can lay back down now.”

He did, but didn’t like how Hoseok left. He was going lower, where he knew his indecency was. Where he’d been torn apart for years. The chair’s wheels clinked, and a mechanical noise—the chair lifting higher. The air around his legs moved.

“I’m going to examine your penis now, Jungkook.”

The warning was a heads up, but the hand that grabbed him nearly immediately after the warning ruined every second he had to prepare himself. Latex wrapped around his member and his whole body flinched, everything pulling inward.

He let out a loud sob, craning his head back. Jungkook couldn’t help it when his knees clinked together, instinct taking over, knowing it’s vessel was being shot with distress right now. It just wanted to protect him so bad.

“Please open your legs,” Hoseok urged him, frivolously  prying at his legs. Forcing open the legs of a sexual assault survivor was not his forte.

“Sh, sh, sh. It’s okay,” Taehyung whispered, pushing his hair back tenderly, getting close, cutting off his vision of everything around him. “Look at me. Look at me.”

Hyung.”

“I know, baby. Oh, I know.”

Hoseok was trying to be as concise as possible, but looking into a urethra wasn’t the easiest practice in medicine. From what he could see, there were no scratches or signs of irritation or infection. No redness or swelling.

“We’re done there. We’re done,” Hoseok said, out of breath and he wasn’t even the one fighting for his dignity. “Everything looks normal.”

“You’re doing good, sweetness. You’re doing so good,” Taehyung said, and the two humans in the room were becoming more and more aware of his crumbling facade. Endearments were flooding from his mouth like water through cracks and his voice was honey sweet by now. “Just a little bit longer.”

“I hate it,” Jungkook sobbed, thin eyes begging Taehyung for release. To just make it all stop. “I don’t like it. I want to go home.”

Where home was, they didn’t know. One supposed it was Taehyung’s room, and the other guessed it was just anywhere that he was safe. Jungkook probably didn’t even know what home was, just heard people talk about it and the yearning in their voice. Home had to be a good place.

“You can when we’re done. You can go home. I’ll even go with you. But right now, you just need to keep being strong.”

“I can’t.”

“You can,” Taehyung stressed, and knocked his head to the side, signalling for Hoseok to hurry the fuck up.

“Put your feet up on the stirrups, Jungkook,” Hoseok said.

“T—Taehyung.”

“Do what he says, baby. It’s gonna be okay. He can’t see you if your legs are down.” Taehyung blinked quick in thought, wanting to take in the situation but not wanting to betray his trust—even though neither of them spoke about him laying his eyes on Jungkook’s body. “Are you able to? Are your legs too weak?”

The hybrid nodded sadly, clenching his eyes shut. “I—I’m sorry.”

“Hush, baby. We can get them for you. Can I touch your legs, please?”

“W—Wait. Don’t go.”

“Okay, okay,” he calmed him. “Then, can Hoseok do it?”

He nodded. Hoseok took his time in slowly lifting his legs up, setting his feet in the stirrups, opening him up. Every time the latex touched his skin, a new kind of whimper pinched from his mouth.

“There we go. I need you to relax as much as you can for me. I know it isn’t easy, but do your best.” Hoseok swabbed his finger in a cup of lubrication that he prepared earlier. “I know you can be good, Jungkook.”

The hybrid’s warm breath came out in huffs and his hand tightened around Taehyung’s, staring up into his eyes. They hadn’t broken eye contact for minutes now. It was his only source of safety, and by God was Taehyung going to give him every last inch of his irises.

“There’s the blood,” Hoseok mumbled, for both his and Taehyung’s sake. “Looks like it’s coming from a tear.”

He touched with the tip of his finger, looking for anymore tears. The hybrid keened and nearly pulled Taehyung down by his shirt.

Hoseok. Wanna try being a little more gentle?”

“I am,” he breathed, stumped by the strong reaction. “There’s an infection. It’s going to hurt like hell no matter how careful I touch.”

“It’s infected?”

“Yeah. I’ve seen worst, but this definitely isn’t the best case I’ve seen. No pus formations, but there’s some irregular discharge there. We’ll put him on an antibiotic.” He reached for the speculum, readying it in his hand. “This is going to hurt. Get a good hold on him.”

The hybrid’s breath went uneven and Taehyung held onto his hand tight, and flattened his hand on the boy’s forehead, brushing his thumb over his eyebrow.

“Stay still. Stay still, Jungkook,” he flat out ordered, heart panging at the desperate fear in the boy’s eyes.

He was the only person Jungkook had to look for in hope. He was the only one he could trust in this new, grand place where eyes roamed over him and half the time someone was capitalizing on his past and current shape.

It felt like dunking a baby underwater when he timed up with Hoseok inserting the speculum to push Jungkook down to the bed. Even lathered in lubricant and the smallest size he could get his hands on, it still rocked Jungkook to the core.

He cried out, heart wrenching and gut twisting. If Jungkook pulled any harder, he was going to pull Taehyung onto the bed. Taehyung anchored himself down and hushed him and his throat-tearing cries, talking over the nonsense that spewed from his mouth.

“It hurts,” he mewled, banging his head back on the bed. He couldn’t fight the body on top of him and he couldn’t run away from the metal instrument inside of his body. He was trapped.

“I know it does. I know. It’s gotta hurt to make it better. I’m so sorry,” Taehyung said, the ice he’d built around his heart melting until the cold sparked up his emotions. “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Always hurting,” Jungkook moaned. “Why?”

Taehyung didn’t have an answer for him, because there wasn’t one, so he just shushed him, hoping that at this moment, he’d finally be something other than shit at being a good person. He hoped he didn’t look lifeless in the eyes, or like he didn’t care, but heartbroken.

Seeing this boy scream and cry had his heart convulsing, going rapid and turning inside out. He hadn’t felt pity or sympathy in quite some time.

It must’ve felt this way every time one of those savages used him, re-forming the tear and merely worsening it’s condition. If just one insertion had him this delirious, then the pistoning motion of sex could have only left him blacked out.

“Okay. Okay. I’m in. Keep him still, Taehyung. We’re almost done.”

Taehyung huffed. “Make it quick. I can’t do this much longer.”

“If he can, you can.” And hell, he had him there.

Hoseok grabbed his light and flipped the switch, doing an anal cavity search now that his workspace was open for him to examine. His medical field knowledge allowed him to disconnect from his patient and the unfortunate circumstances to focus solely on his findings.

He hummed. “There’s a couple anal fissures from rough penetration. They’re a little red. Not a hundred percent on infection, but I’d say they’re a risk.”

“Is that all? Are you done?”

“No. Need to make sure there hasn’t been anything left behind from the various items used on him.” He squinted his eyes. “Bowel movements would have cleared most of everything out but… bottles scare me. Broken glass can hide very well.”

Taehyung looked back down at the hybrid who had given up on struggling and just settled into the bed, weeping. He didn’t know which one was worst, the fight, or this.

“Jungkook, tell me if you can ever remember something breaking inside of you.”

“Y—Yes.” His breaths came harsh and heavy. “The bottle.”

“Fuck,” Hoseok groaned.

When panic began to set in on the hybrid’s face, Taehyung rushed in to prevent it from getting out of control.

“Don’t worry. That just means we have to look very closely. Just focus on breathing for me, that’s all you need to do.” Taehyung shot a look the doctor’s way. “You look real close, doc, because we aren’t doing this again.”

That wasn’t his friend Taehyung. That was his boss. There were no if, ands, or buts to it. He either found any left over glass now or he could consider his privileges in the rubble.

Pressure on, Hoseok rolled in closer, and slowly weaved the light in methodical strokes, no room to miss any evidence. A minute in and he nearly called it clear, until his brain finally turned the lights on.

The bleeding. The anal fissures weren’t actively oozing and the tear in his sphincter was nothing but clear fluid unless stretched. He had to be bleeding elsewhere, and if there was no blood in the picture—the speculum.

“Hang on tight.” He twisted it, keeping an eye on the opening. “Ah— ha.” There. Just a half an inch from his opening, right where the speculum’s long section covered. A shard of glass, barely the size of a grain of rice, but more than enough to hurt like a bitch if sandwiched between his inner walls. “Gotcha.”

“You found something?”

“Found what’s been causing the bleeding and most likely a lot of the pain. A shard of glass.”

Taehyung scoffed. “God knows how long that’s been there.”

“When did the bottle break, Jungkook?” Hoseok asked, grabbing a pair of tweezers.

“N—Not a week,” he said to his best ability.

“More than?”

“Y— Yes,” and stopped short when the tweezers plucked the glass out of him. One of his legs shot up and the other closed in, wringing himself of pain when the speculum didn't bend.

“No, no,” Taehyung hurried and manually reached down to pull his legs apart. He didn’t break any of his rules, though, and kept his eyes distant and his pupils away from the forbidden lands. “You’re okay. It’s over, he took it out.”

“I’m—I’m sorry. Couldn’t stay still.”

“That’s okay.” He turned to Hoseok. “Anything need any stitches?”

“No. Should heal okay on it’s own now that the glass is out. I’m gonna apply some antibiotic cream to the fissures and the tear and we can close him up.”

“You hear that?” Taehyung asked, smiling down at Jungkook and his wet lips and big eyes. “One more hard part and we’re done.”

“H—How hard?”

“Don’t think about it. Just try to relax for me.”

Hoseok applied the triple antibiotic ointment to a long swab and carefully directed it to the anal fissures. He found three, not including the opening the shard of glass left behind. Funny enough, the hybrid took the application of ointment better than he did anything else. Taehyung had a theory that he was going numb, Hoseok just thought his pain tolerance had tripled in the past ten minutes.

Taehyung spent the entire shitshow speaking to him calmly, all up until the moment Hoseok removed the speculum and applied the last, finishing touches to the tear in his rectum.

From there, he threw away his materials, snapped his gloves off, and the hybrid finally breathed.

“We’re done. It’s all over, baby. You don’t have to be touched anymore. I swear it.”

Hoseok was already gathering up the hybrid’s clothes when Taehyung guided the boy to a sitting position, grimacing at the groan of pain when all of his insides shifted around. Things felt different up there. Not just raw, but gooey.

They put his long-sleeve on first, covering up the majority of his goosebumped body. He slipped his boxers on when his feet touched the floor.

“You’ll need to change those when you get back because of the lubricant.” Hoseok smiled down at that tear-stained face. “I’m sorry, little one. I didn’t like doing that, but I had to be the one to. I only did it so we can get you feeling better. To do that, we have to know what’s wrong.”

“I know…” Jungkook murmured, voice wrecked and throat still wet.

“You don’t hate me, do you?”

“No,” he said quickly, rubbing at one of his eyes and tugging at their heartstrings. “Hyung’s taking care of me. I’m not mad.”

“Good. This isn’t the best way to start a friendship, but I sure hope we can be friends, Jungkook. I’ll be your doctor from now on and I want you to feel safe with me.”

“Considering that I’ve told him not to trust anyone but me, he won’t just because I’ve told him not to,” Taehyung said with a shrug. “You can blame me for that.”

Hoseok sighed. “Gotta keep him safe somehow. Anyways, I’m gonna write up some medical notes and you can read them later if you want a detailed report. For now, here’s your treatment, Jungkook.” He began writing on a new sheet of his notepad. “I’m going to give you an oral antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, as well as a topical antibiotic. You’re going to do the oral for two weeks and the topical for one. Do you know how to do the topical?”

Jungkook shook his head. “Topical?”

“Topical means it goes on your body. It’s an ointment, the one I used earlier. You’re going to apply on the outside of your rectum and on the inside, just as far as you can insert your finger.”

“Is it going to hurt?”

“At first, it might. The pills are going to make everything less angry, though. And the ointment will act as a lubricant for you, making it easy for you to get a finger inside,” Hoseok instructed. “If for any reason you don’t think you’re able to do it yourself, just let me know and I can apply it every day for you. I’ll make the time, okay?”

Even though they both knew there was no way in hell the hybrid was going to sign himself up for yet another torture session. He might as well tie the noose himself. And every person in that room knew Taehyung wasn’t going to do it.

“The pills are twice a day and the ointment is once a day. I’ll get them ready for you if you want to follow me.”

He handed over the paper with the names of the prescription drugs, their strength, and the dosage instructions. Taehyung led Jungkook in front of him, leaving that God awful room and all of it’s lubricants and speculums.

Hoseok went to fill the medications while Taehyung smoothed down the boy’s hair and spoke softly to him.

“You okay?”

“I’m okay. It’s over now.” Jungkook watched the doctor sort through medications in interest. “I know no one was trying to hurt me… thank you for talking me through it.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m not in the business of letting bunnies feel alone. Especially not my bunny.”


(***)

It took awhile for Jungkook to settle down in bed. His body still felt under attack and his hare genes bled through with bouncing legs and a bounding tongue, talking a mile a minute when asked why he liked the satin sheets so much.

For the first time, he was acting like a rabbit hybrid. Not a subtle and succulent cat hybrid, or a quiet and forlorn fox hybrid. He had energy, and he was finally letting it loose.

Taehyung didn’t mind the hindrance to getting him to bed. It was nice to see him living as a hybrid rather than a prisoner, especially after the torturous scene they just limped and thrashed through. His tears were dried up and his face was closer to honey than molten lava.

In a couple hours, he’d managed to make it through the hare-like symptoms, get Jungkook to brush his teeth, take his oral medicine and apply his ointment, and lay him down for bed. The bunny happily tucked himself away, tummy full and a heart satiated.

“I shouldn’t be gone for too long. Just got some business to attend to. Try to get some sleep, yeah? If you can’t, at least let your body rest. It’s been through a lot today.”

“I think I might sleep. I’m very tired tonight.”

“I bet you are. You should be exhausted. It was a big day for you.” Taehyung stood up from the bed and smiled down at him. “I’ll knock once before I come in. That’s how you’ll know it’s me. You’re safe here, so just relax. I’ll be back soon.”

“Be safe… it’s scary out there.”

“Nothing out there’s scary to me. I’ve seen it all.”

It’s scary out there. The hybrid had no idea where he was going or what waited for him at his destination. He was right, morbidly right on the dot. It was scary out there. Horrible things happened, and you could never know where.

It could be right beneath your nose.

Taehyung descended down a stairwell, brittle rock casing him in like a long coffin. It became darker as he went, using muscle memory to land him on the steps. There were lights down here, but he chose not to use them. What existed down this stairwell needed to stay in the dark.

One step off the stairs, shoes clicking against concrete, and he welcomed himself to hell. Down here, the sounds were akin to hell. They were sorrowful, anguished, miserable. All the words that made you consider jumping.

In the lowest floor of their headquarters were the prisoner cells and the interrogation rooms. That’s a nice way of saying torture rooms.

Namjoon said it sounded less barbaric, but that never stopped Jimin from calling them the fingernail collection rooms. It was less than politically correct, but hey, whatever made their enemies tremble.

They had two captives right now. One who tried to attack them on the outskirts of the Opalites’ base, and a man who they took hostage during the raid—the one in charge.

All this time he and Jimin had devised the same plan they always did—fake that they killed off every last one after Jimin covertly snatched a higher-up.

They always took a leader hostage for questioning. To learn more about what the fallen empire ran on, how it ran. It educated them on what they needed to avoid and possibly what they needed to adapt to. They used it as a lesson.

All previous concerns he had lined up to face the leader of the Opalites were nothing but a slug under his boot now. He only had one objective—consult on the hybrid.

He wanted to know exactly how long he’d been there, what his care was like. To end it, he wanted to drag out every last scream that man had to give. The poor fellow had absolutely no idea the amount of rage that had begun swirling inside of Taehyung’s hot-headed body.

His shoes gave away his appearance early. Two guards stood outside one of the cells, standing up straight and tall when their leader slowed down at the room.

“Hey, boss.”

“Bonjour. Anything eventful today?” Taehyung asked, gaze rivaling with the dim lighting to look over their shoulders. A black silhouette sat on a chair. “Looks like it’s been fairly quiet. The sludge behaving themselves today?”

“The guerilla warfare junky’s been stomping his feet and yelling about using his dick on us, but nothing new,” one guard said, shrugging. “Just some entertainment.”

“Use his dick, huh?” Taehyung asked, hair cascading when his head turned. The junky was silent in his presence. “I wanna see him try. Probably did, and that’s why I’m here.” He cracked his neck to the side and held out a hand, palm beseeching a key to what he liked to call the birdcages. “You guys don’t wanna stay for this one.”

“We’ve stomached you cutting a man’s stomach open like taking stitches out of a doll. I think we can stomach some good for nothing Opalite’s broken fingers.”

A new darkness was setting like the sun in Taehyung’s warm, sunset skin. He was transitioning to night, voice lowering to the quiver of a guitar string, and eyes on the price tag of their prisoner’s life.

“This one’s different. This one’s personal.” Abysmal eyes shot to meet theirs, and they knew he was no fraud. “The both of you need to leave. If junky starts banging the bars, I’ll just rattle his skull on them. Go.”

Not another word from them. They’d seen those eyes before. Those were the eyes that accompanied him in twisting a man’s leg until it snapped in half after Jimin got caught in an ambush. Those eyes saw through the flames of hell like they belonged to the devil himself.

Not willing to dance with the devil and smart enough to not even attempt it, they left the room, something that guards never did on their watch duty. It was their role to protect the rest of the facility from their dangerous wares, and to protect them from themselves, too.

They’d lost a prisoner to bashing his head into the wall, resulting in the first ally to be banished under Taehyung’s rule.

The lock shifted loudly in the basement, echoing off the walls. Taehyung snagged the key in his pocket and took his time, rattling the jail door behind him. The man lifted his head.

“Viper.”

Taehyung’s bored figure stood before him, hands in his pockets and satin red blouse pumping his blood hotter, craving blood on his hands and under his fingernails.

“Lee Sujo. Fucking awful to meet you.”

“You killed every last one of my men and that’s all you have to say to me?”

“Oh, I didn’t kill every last one. There’s—” He swung around, pointing a coy finger towards the junky’s cell. “There’s one of your men. I mean, all of him. I know, crazy. I haven’t disemboweled him.” Crude turned treacherous. “Haven’t gotten there yet.”

“You attacked us. You brought your men to us, and somehow I end up in this chair. What did we do to you?”

“I don’t have time to talk economy with you. I’ve got something a whole lot more disparaging to speak with you about,” Taehyung said, dragging over his own chair. It squealed across the floor. “You fucked up already. And if you give me the wrong answers, you’re gonna be fucked big time.”

“I’m fucked either way.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung sighed, dropping on the chair, sitting with his arms rested along the back of it, “but one way lets you keep your eyes before you die.”

Sujo clamped around the arms of his chair. Restraints held his wrists and ankles to the chair. Another strap plastered his back to it.

“What do you want? I’m not telling you shit about the gems, or the other branches.”

“Didn’t know there were other branches.” Sujo blanched. Taehyung smirked. “We don’t need your intel. We’ll find them. Thanks for the heads up though. I do hate wild goose chases. No, none of that matters to me. I wanna talk about the hybrid you had chained up in your basement.”

Sujo looked like he’d just heard a joke. He dipped his head back with an elated chuckle.

“The hybrid? That’s what you want to know about?”

“Yeah. The hybrid. The hybrid you had chained up for everyone to use at their disposal,” Taehyung said darkly, voice grabbing ahold of a rasp the further the man doubted his dangerous affairs. “That one. Remember him?”

“Oh, I remember him. Tight little thing. Didn’t matter how many times someone stuffed him.”

Fury on his fingertips, Taehyung swept up a dagger quicker than you could throw one, flipped it in the air, and plunged it into the man’s hand, cracking the wood beneath. Sujo hollered, swinging his head back.

“Ah, fuck.”

“That give you an idea of what I’m expecting from you right now? Because I’m expecting a whole lot right now, asshole,” Taehyung hissed over his anguish.

“Jesus Christ.”

“Let’s get started, shall we, Sujo?”

Chapter Text

“That’s just the beginning. You don’t even want to know what I dreamt of doing to you last night. I was just itching to dislocate every single one of your fingers during his medical examination today.”

“Medical examination?” Sujo huffed. “What the hell are you doing with that hybrid? He’s used. He belongs in the bottom of a trash can with how much cum he’s got inside of—”

Taehyung grabbed the handle of the knife and yanked it forward, pillaging through the bones and muscles in its way, stopping just short of the webs of his fingers before his hand became a sliced open cake.

“He’s mine now. I’m his owner, and unfortunately for you, I got my hands on you after finding out all the disgusting shit you and your men did to him.” Sujo was trying to scream through his words, but he just got louder. “So you’re gonna sit here and tell me how he lived with your circus troupe, and if you don’t answer my questions, you won’t die, do you hear me? I’ll shred your hands like confetti before I let you bleed out.”

“Since when did the Viper develop enough care in the world to take in a poor, ol’ bunny hybrid?”

“Since that poor ol’ bunny hybrid had the misfortune of crossing paths with you. I may be more of a demon than the rest of the men on the streets, but one thing’s for sure—I don’t exert my power over defenseless, little cotton-tailed hybrids.

Sujo snorted, laced with pain. “What are you gonna do with him? Brush his hair and take him on walks? Admit it, you’re looking forward to those long nights that he lets you use that rare body of his.”

“I’d rather have a picnic in the park with you,” and grabbed pliers, snatching up one of Sujo’s hands. The man tensed ruthlessly. “How long was he there?”

“I don’t know. Four years? Five?”

“C’mon, Sujo. You can do better than that.” He clamped down on the nail, and tore it right from the flesh of his nail bed. What was left was raw and mushy, the bottom layer of his skin burning at the touch of oxygen. “How long?”

“Five years,” he said in certainty, jaw so clenched that his words came out through a meat grinder. “Five fucking years.”

“Where’d you get him from?” Taehyung asked, screwing the pliers on the next fingernail. The nerves raved, anxious for the ripping to come.

“His owner was selling him on the street. I figured why the hell not.” His was out of breath. “Something for the guys to do when they had too much energy. I was tired of the rumbles and cat fights—”

Taehyung ripped that nail off too, just for insinuating that Jungkook was a punching bag. A fuckbag. Something to punch and kick when the fight outside waited too long. Someone to fuck into submission when the only women they could get were disease ridden prostitutes off the streets.

Sujo ground his teeth, screaming through them, muffled and poorly contained.

“You bought him for how much?”

“Two hundred.”

A rabbit doll manifested into a living creation deemed worth a mere two hundred dollars, sold to God knows where with little to no concern of where he ended up. Taehyung had shirts worth more than that.

“He in okay shape when you got him?”

“You really gonna ask me this kid’s entire timeline?”

Another nail. He was running out of playing room. He needed more nails to wrench out. “Was he?” Sujo nodded, and Taehyung snatched another one.

His hands were spazzing now, muscles on cocaine and fingernails dripping in the color of the cell’s stains. The pliers became a rising anxiety for Sujo, giving him convulsions everytime they clamped down on one of his nails. The open wounds precursing the tips of his fingers were tragically gruesome and marred.

“Where’d he sleep? I’ve seen it, so don’t you dare fucking lie to me.”

“On a straw bed.”

“It wasn’t a bed. It was a thin layer of rough straw thrown around on the concrete floor. He had lines up and down his body, you know, from sleeping on it.”

Sujo hung his head back. “I don’t fucking care what the mangy brat was doing.”

Three fingernails. All one after another like skyscrapers toppling onto each other. The screaming blended into one. Sujo’s eyes rolled back.

“You pass out on me and I will clot your bleeding until you wake up and we’ll start off right where we stopped. Pay attention.” Taehyung grabbed the handle of the knife protruding from between his knuckles and jarred it in a wiggle. “How many times your men pay him a visit? Once a week? Every other night? Every night?”

Sujo’s chest heaved, words tight and hand crippled in agony. “How ever many times they were hungry.”

Bad answer. Taehyung reeled the pliers back and whammed them into the bony part of Sujo’s temple, coughing up his breath and perhaps a tooth if Taehyung heard properly.

“Glutton. An abomination of a sin. Bothers me the most. You Opalites are the epitome of it. Gluttonous of treasures and shiny things, and always taking what isn’t yours. Guess you don’t stop at bodies.” He waved the pair of pliers in the air. “You got three more fingernails, and I’ve got plenty more questions. I want answers from you, not him. I want you to hear you say what your men did to him.”

A glassy fog sat over the man’s eyes as he fought to wake up from the birds tweeting in circles around his head. That whack to the head rammed him into the thin line between consciousness and unconsciousness.

“If you’re looking for guilt, there isn’t any to find. I’ve watched men get buried under rubble without so much of a warning. You think I’m gonna feel sorry for a bitch hybrid?”

Something between a grin and a grimace manifested itself upon Taehyung’s wicked face. “I’m not looking for guilt. Men like you and me don’t feel it.” He gripped the handle of the knife, “I’m looking for retribution,” and sliced the cake.

Blood poured, muscles ripped, and bone charred until fragments toppled into the pool of wine. Hand severed in two and fingers pounding in a dull thud and a spicy burn all at once, Sujo lost all ability to anything other than to soundlessly scream at the ceiling.

“And I’m going to get it,” Taehyung growled. “You see, your retribution to me is simple. I want you to feel every inch of the pain he did when your men treated him like a dog. Worst, even. You fucked him until he bled, and bled, and bled. Until infection set in.” He flipped the knife towards Sujo and crassly flicked it underneath his chin, drawing blood. “Your retribution is your scream for mercy being the last sound you ever make.”

“Fuck you.”

“Questions and answers, Sujo. Who fed him? What kind of leftovers did he scrap on?”

“He got what people didn’t eat, but not even what the trash saw. He got what they wanted him to,” Sujo coughed. “Someone didn’t finish their steak and felt generous that night, they threw the leftover bits at him.”

“He ever get any food that hadn’t been handled by your men’s grubby, dirty hands?”

“Nah. Half the time we forgot to feed the thing. It was easy to just fuck it and forget it was there until—” A fingernail. Two were left on the crime scene, practically dangling for dear life at this point. “Fucking fuck.”

“Tell me about the buckets you made him use. Tell me so you can hear it come from your own mouth.”

“Buckets to shit and piss in. Letting him use an actual bathroom took too much time. Besides, a bitch like him didn’t deserve—” Another. Taehyung was having trouble letting him finish lately. One nail left. He itched to twist it off. “Didn’t deserve a toilet like the humans. I’ll tell ya, it was real entertaining watching him when we collected the buckets.”

Malice sharpened Taehyung’s eyes. “Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah. Never seen something try to hide so bad in my life. Funny how far his ears could go back. Fucking ashamed is what he was. Heard my men taunt him for it too. All the time.” Sujo chuckled like his life wasn’t being bargained. “Always scared one of us would turn around the corner when he was pissin’ in a bucket like the whore he was.”

That last fingernail had overstayed its welcome and animosity was hitching a ride on Taehyung’s blood. Jaw tight and eyes venomous, he tore the last standing nail with a malicious detail, twisting with each fiber of his skin that tore.

“You like knowing a hybrid lived day in and day out humiliated in your care,” Taehyung said low in his throat. “I’ve never met a coward to your degree. Sex traffickers rank higher than you.”

“Amusing,” Sujo panted. All of his fingers had been unsheathed of their shells. “You think a hybrid is more worthy than a woman.”

“I think your morals are too fucking skewed to be putting mine under a microscope,” Taehyung hissed.

The pliers clanked onto his handy-dandy torture table, and as he thought of what he wished to address next, he played eenie-meenie-minie-moe for his persuasion of choice.

“Maybe,” Sujo said, “but atleast I’m not torturing a man over a kid with rabbit ears.”

“No, you’re just the man who tortured him,” Taehyung rumbled, hovering his hands over his choices. “What to choose… what should I use on you next? Your fingers hurting yet?”

“I’d never have thought you of all people would waste your time torturing a man just for the hell of it. No info, no logistics.”

“And there’s not even a catch,” Taehyung said with a snarky chuckle. “I just want you to fucking pay. That’s all. I want your last minutes on Earth to be Goddamn hell while I make his heavenly.”

“You’re looney.”

“No,” he sighed, and picked up one of the other daggers so kindly laid out for him, and then a lighter. “I’m insane. Get it right. If everyone’s going to talk about me, at least give me names that actually fit.”

Taehyung held the knife over the flame, fixated on it while his prisoner squirmed in his seat. The metal glowed red.

“We laughed a lot, you know,” Sujo mused, either entertained because he was a maniac, or because he was losing his mind. “When that little bitch tried to hide when he saw us. I found him trying to cover himself in straw one time. Dumb ears were poking right through. Had a real bad day one time, brought my buddy down there and we both just went at it. I’ll never forget the look on that whore’s face when my buddy said hey, think I can fit a piece of straw up his dick?” Sujo laughed. “Never seen eyes so wide in my life.”

The blade was crimson with heat and Taehyung’s eyes were crimson with murder when he’d heard enough and the lights in his head went black.

Maniacal couldn’t be reached when the conscious was alive. You had to unhinge.

Unhinged, Taehyung sprung from his chair, kicked it back, and grasped Sujo by the hair of his head and yanked it back, pressing his Adam’s apple into his skin. He took the scalding hot blade and pressed the flat edge against the underside of Sujo’s nostrils—and crushed it in until cartilage popped.

Sujo tried to scream, but it was muffled by the hand crunched against his teeth. He thrashed, wailed, and widened his eyes until they nearly popped.

Taehyung seethed, “You disgusting, miserable worm.”

Sujo’s muffled cries only aggravated him further. Only made him think of the low ears of a terrified hybrid instructed to lay back and allow themselves to be mutilated.

He pushed harder, until Sujo’s nose went crooked and the smell of burnt skin and hair shrivelled up his nose. It smelt nothing like the hazardous waste Jungkook slept next to.

“Heartless. I’ve heard it before,” Taehyung panted, and let off. The blade was melded to the man’s skin, liquified and bubbled around it like forging weapons. He slowly pried the blade from his skin, tickled by the strangled screams he had to talk over. “Used to describe me. But I don’t even compare to a man who pulls a weak hybrid apart piece by piece and plays with them like a disassembled toy.”

If he was expecting an answer from Sujo, he was to be sorely disappointed. The man had been strangled of his words. He was seizing, body convulsing back and forth in a chaotic need to release energy from the prolific agony radiating through his face. His fingers clawed, and torn shouts came out sporadically.

“You ever been tortured before, Sujo?” The man had just enough wits left to shake his head. “I can tell. First rule of being tortured—if you aren’t one hundred percent sure that you’re not gonna die, keep your fucking mouth shut,” and wedged the sizzling knife up his nose.

It impeded the gruesome wall of melted skin and scratched the inner lining of his nose. Sujo threw his head around, wanting so horribly to scream but the pain was too unbearable to do that—he didn’t know what to do with himself. It was golden to Taehyung.

“You think it’s smart to piss me off?” Taehyung growled, all decency out the window. He wasn’t a yielding owner in the torture exhibit. He was a mafia leader. “Let me tell you something, Sujo.” He ran the flat edge of the knife down his cheek, burning flesh wafting into the air, burnt skin dragging behind to flake into the newly distorted bite. “Running your mouth when I’ve taken that hybrid under my arm is not the smart way to go about this.”

“Okay. Okay,” Sujo gasped for the first time since high temperature metal scraped his face. He sounded nasally, nostrils closed off by melted skin.

“About time you realize who’s torturing you.” Taehyung held the knife up to his eye. Heat quivered in the air. “I’m the same man who disintegrated the Rio’s leader’s body one limb at a time—one finger at a time—in acid. It’d be real smart of you to wisen up and realize just what kind of shit you’re in for.” Metal brushed eyelashes. “Because I love the sound of a dying man and I’m gonna drag it out for as long as I can.”

“You’ve got the hybrid and I’m a dead man,” Sujo struggled. “What do you want from me?”

“I want it to sink in that I have that hybrid laying in silk with whatever food he wants in his stomach while you’re down here in the dark being picked apart. Just like you did to him,” he said. “That’s my retribution. To watch the tables turn.”

“He lived five years getting fucked. I’ll only be alive for a couple more hours. Doesn’t sound so even to me.”

“Think I can’t keep you alive for longer than a couple hours?” Taehyung jeered. “I’m good at making a man wish he had less time to live.”

“You’ll just kill me in the end.”

“Oh, of course. The only reason you weren’t killed by my right hand man was so I could have all the time I wanted with you. Naturally, you’ll still have to die. Wouldn’t be very fair if we let you live.” Taehyung dropped the knife on the table and let it bounce, changing direction. “You a part of the fun when someone stuck a glass bottle up him?”

Sujo spit out the blood that waterfalled from his nose. “No.”

“Well, unfortunately, pal, you’re gonna pay their dues.” Taehyung picked up the small, electric sander and passed it from one hand to the next. “Because one of your men stuck a glass bottle inside of him and it shattered. Anyone with a brain would surely think, huh, maybe we should check that out. But no, your man left him like that. We pulled a shard out of him today.” Taehyung readied his thumb on the power button. “It’s been almost two weeks that he’s had glass inside of him and your men were still raping him on a regular basis.”

The power sander flipped on, roaring to life. It’s circular body whirred until it blurred to one solid color.

“I don’t expect you to feel bad, but I sure as hell expect you to understand why I’m about to sand your skin off.”

He jammed the sander into Sujo’s thigh, smack-dab in the middle, and held it there. Blood splattered, flesh tore, and Sujo’s screams reached new heights. When Taehyung heard splintering and chipping, he knew he’d met bone. That didn’t stop him. That was the goal.

Bone fractured and smacked against the sander stubbornly until white flecked to the floor and Taehyung grew tired of hearing the man choke himself out. He removed the sander and whistled down at the damaged. A circle cookie-cut into his thigh, every muscle and tissue around the punch-hole mutilated and gored. His femur had been smoked, broken in pieces and smoothed to finish.

“Still not enough to make up for the rashes and scars on his legs from sitting on straw day in and day out,” Taehyung sighed, swinging the sander in circles. “Or the bones poking through his skin. Or the leftovers you scrounged up for him to eat when you knew he was starving to death!” He got loud. “You had a hybrid chained up in your basement that you knew was dying! Big man with a gun and a mafia but has to bully a little bunny into submission.”

“Fucking fuck,” Sujo choked. “Oh, my God.”

“You know how many holes I’m gonna put in you? As many holes as your men put in him. Four.”

He pressed he sander into him four times, ripping and shredding flesh, grinding through his bones. Two more in his legs, one on his stomach, and the last on the hand that had been sliced open. He didn’t have a hand anymore. All that was left were meat chunks and slabs of flayed skin.

Sujo lost consciousness twice during the process, only to be punched awake. Taehyung didn’t even give him the consideration of a slap. Waking him back up left swelling in his cheekbone and eye. His nose had dried up completely, cauterized closed, but the essentially open sore gave him one hell of a constant pain.

The grinder had parts stuck in it’s sanders when Taehyung tossed it to the floor, not willing to look at that nauseating mess. He’d look at the destruction of Sujo for years, though, if he could.

“How ya feeling, big guy?” Taehyung sighed, tweaking his lips in a thoughtful frown. “Regret your life choices yet?”

Sujo’s head swayed. “Just kill me.”

“Oh, don’t be silly. You’re skipping steps, Sujo. Don’t get ahead of yourself.” Taehyung tapped his fingers from torture device to torture device. “You didn’t end his suffering, did you? You let him fester like a wound down there. I’m sure he wanted to die a few times, but because he’s a hybrid —don’t forget on me, now—he probably didn’t even know what he was thinking. He just wanted it all to stop.” Taehyung’s fingers stopped on a kitchen blowtorch. “Probably would have forgiven you anyday if you unchained him. He’s too good hearted to hold a grudge. Bad news is, asshole, I’m not.”

He blasted the blowtorch onto the flimsy skin of his torn apart hand, where nerve receptors were still screaming for dear life. Where pure torment nestled in between skin fibers. He’d never seen a man try to move a hand that was in pieces before.

“He told me maybe you didn’t know what you were doing. You couldn’t possibly because he did nothing wrong to you, right? No human being would ever inflict such torture on an innocent soul, right? Tell me just how right I am, Sujo.”

“I can’t,” he screeched as the flame sporadically swept over his chest, bearing down on his ribs and cooking his insides like a microwave. “I knew. I knew!”

The blowtorch came to a halting stop. The air smelt burnt. Taehyung dropped it on the table like it was useless, like it couldn’t deal out the pain he so desperately wished to hand out like Death himself.

Taehyung took a fistful of Sujo’s hair and snarled down at him.

“I’m going to pick you apart until there’s nothing left of you. I want you to fall apart right before your very own eyes. Fingernails, teeth, eyeballs—all sat out in front of you so you can taste your own filthy medicine.”

Sujo wheezed, “You’re going to hell for this.”

“I was signed up for that a long time ago. My name’s on the fucking throne and I’m ready.”

Taehyung took the tip of his fingers off like chopped carrots. The loud crunch was delightful. Blood squirted onto his shirt more than he would have pleased, but no lion ever feasted with a clean mane. Clotting the blood kept Sujo alive, on a limb, and his breath came out ragged and exhausted. Each slice into his skin broke him out in more hives of cries.

In the end, ten tips sat on the table next to his fingernails.

“Reunited. How nice,” Taehyung grumbled. The fun had ended for him. Anguish was all he seeked. “Which tooth is your favorite, Sujo?” Sujo’s head lulled. His lips didn’t move. “I’m waiting patiently. Sujo.”

“Fuck you.”

Okay… guess I’ll have to choose for you. Did you know that your upper first molars are the deepest rooted of your teeth?” Taehyung grabbed the pair of pliers again, cracked his neck to the side, and grabbed Sujo by his face. “I could see why those would be your favorite. Good choice.”

He pieced the pliers around his first molar. “Quit squirming or I’m gonna knock you out and bring you back with a tooth down your throat,” and slowly, meticulously twisted and turned the pliers, crunching his tooth against his gums.

The screams vibrated his mouth and frankly, Taehyung didn’t have the time to keep a good hold. He yanked back, but the stubborn tooth only budged a smidge. One more good yank and the root ripped out of his gums.

Taehyung took out four more teeth, each eliciting desperate cries from his prey. Sujo always tensed right before, then exploded when he felt the root rush past his skull.

Taehyung wiped his hands off, staring unimpressed.

“All you leaders this weak? Am I really the only person who can sit through a torture session?”

“You’ve got all your teeth,” Sujo garbled, blood bubbling in his mouth and spilling to his lap.

“You think all of these are real?” Taehyung asked, sniffing a grin. “I’m losing the battle of being plastic as the years go by. Can’t say I’m not superficial anymore. Sounds like I got a nose job every time.” Hands clean, he took what looked like a scoop, thicker and deeper than a spoon. “Well, Sujo, my watch says it’s been three hours. I told Jungkook I’d be back in two.”

“Jungkook?”

Taehyung stopped, raising his head slow and sinister. His hand froze around the scoop. His knuckles turned white, vision turned red, and head turned blank.

“Jungkook,” he said, numb. “Jungkook,” he said again, like maybe the man would remember at any given time if he just drilled it in hard enough.

“I don’t—who the fuck is Jungkook?”

Taehyung’s Adam apple bobbed. He took two strides forward, rolled his tongue around in thought, and when he breathed out, it was shaky.

“You never asked him his name?”

Sujo looked up cluelessly. “Who?”

“You never asked him his name,” Taehyung decided bleakley with the eyes of a shark surfing the wall behind Sujo’s mangled body. “For five years, he didn’t have a name. When he told me his name, that was the first time he’d heard it in five years.” His words shook, and his eyes burned malevolent. “I’m going to scoop your eyes out for all the days that you looked at his naked body, and then I’m going to cut your tongue out for every chance you didn’t take to call him by his name.”

The scoop rested next to the dip of his eye socket. The beginning of a plea bubbled on his lips, but Taehyung’s ears were ringing and he wasn’t going to listen. He hadn’t plunged a spoon under a man’s eye in a while. A little rusty, he jimmied with it, watching Sujo’s eye move in the socket.

The strangled and confused cries beneath him sounded like heaven, even more than Jungkook looked on his first night sleeping on a real bed, and he pushed through—literally.

The deeper he went, the more the eyeball disconnected. It was breaching the outline of his socket, popping out, red veins like weeds on the whites of his eyes from screaming and straining. The optical cord kept his eyeball from plopping out, even though his squirming face tried to rival that.

“Keep moving. It hurts worse when you do. You’re really getting the hang of this.”

“My eye,” Sujo gasped. “My fucking eye.”

“Yeah, it’s out,” Taehyung informed him matter of factly. His toy was being unnecessarily loud now.

He reached for a scalpel on the table, and sawed through the optical cord. Sujo’s vision went out like the sun imploded. He was sobbing now, truly beginning to understand the situation. One of his eye sockets were empty and pitch black, and the other was in line for the same treatment. He was about to be blind.

“That one was just for the fun of it. I wanted to remember what it was like to scoop an eye out,” Taehyung said, dropped the scoop, and firmed up on the scalpel. “This one’s for him.”

Taehyung plunged the scalpel into the direct middle of his eye like his pupil was a bullseye. The man’s struggling kicked off, attempting to throw his legs around and gain momentum, but Taehyung just pressed harsh force into his face to keep him still.

To get the scalpel back out, Taehyung had to anchor it down and jerk the scalpel free, watching junks of eyeball splatter outward. The tortured blinked instinctively—rapidly—and fell into a new pit of pain when his eyelid dipped over his rampaged eye.

“Not done yet,” Taehyung growled. “I want you to forget what the world looks like, so you’ll never remember what he looks like, either.” And dove the scalpel in between his eyeball and the bone, wedging it to use it as leverage, see-sawing his eyeball up.

The man lurched, screaming vigorously enough that Taehyung considered checking to see if blood coughed up from his throat. The Viper was too busy smirking madly at the eyeball squeezing between bone and scalpel, nearly bursting, bringing the center to rubble.

It popped, falling onto his cheekbone. Chunks tumbled from the center. Taehyung sighed in content. This work of art, he’d painted multiple strokes to get here. His wrists were aching and his mind was tired, but the end result was worth it.

“You can keep that one. It can hang out for a while. I don’t think it wants to let go just yet.”

“Please,” Sujo mewled. “Please cut it.”

“Oh, so we’re begging now, huh?” Taehyung mocked, humming in interest. “Must be so heartbreaking to beg for all the pain to stop and no one listens to you.” He dropped the scalpel to switch it out for a dagger. “Sounds familiar. It’s uncanny, really.”

“I get it,” he said in woe. “I fucking get it. We tortured the hybrid. I can’t change that.”

“No,” Taehyung gripped his chin, shifting his jaw, “but you can do one thing for me now.”

Sujo just blinked up at him. He was dead, they both knew it the second his nose was melted, but maybe it could all end here instead of letting him live out this nightmare.

“I said I wanted your last words to be you begging for mercy.” His thumb edged Sujo’s mouth, keeping an eye on his tongue. “But I’ve changed my mind. It’s going to be his name.”

“His name?”

“Say it,” Taehyung ordered, crushed his jaw in his hand. “Say his name. Your last five years made him nameless, so your last breath is going to give it back to him.”

Sujo gasped for air. “Jungkook.” He was blind to the fingers pinching the tip of his tongue to extend it, and the blade that hovered at an angle.

“Keep his name out of your mouth.”

The blade sliced through like butter.


 Torture used to make him feel empty. He was numb to it now. Strangely, there was a difference to the two. He didn’t leave the jail cell bleak. He left unbothered. The change in his soul worried him years ago, but he’d since given into it. Sleeping came easier, spare the occasional night terrors that shook him awake.

At least he slept. He didn’t used to do that.

He left Sujo alive, eyes gouged and tongue severed, teeth missing and the tips of his fingers on a silver platter.

I want to see how long your vice can keep you alive, Taehyung had told him, and promised to be back in the morning to survey the damage—alive or dead.

He cracked the bedroom door open, tired, the hands of sleep dragging him down. Torturing another human being had that effect. It challenged every moral he had left in his bones, and sometimes it took a couple broken bones to snap someone else’s. It picked a fight with every human emotion he’d been born with. Most nights he won that fight, others he had to hope the sheets could wipe the sins from his skin because God sure as hell wasn’t going to do it.

He expected Jungkook to be asleep by now, underneath said sheets that had masterfully cloaked his wickedness countless nights, but the bunny was sat straight and aware, ears perked in the direction of sound.

“Why are you awake?” Taehyung asked, uncuffing his sleeves. Button-ups always felt exceptionally suffocating when blood seeped into the edges.

“I wanted to know where you were.”

“Bunny,” he said wearily, watching those ever-large eyes embed the wine stained into his hands and on his cheek. “You don’t want to know where I’ve been.”

“You’re bloody,” Jungkook noted with a dot of concern in his eyes, like he’d just discovered his owner trudging in with a wound.

But it didn’t add up to being Taehyung’s. It was splattered on his shirt and his sleeves were dipped in it. His collar was speckled and his hands were covered, face smeared faintly from wiping the sweat away.

Taehyung was untouchable, he knew that, so he wasn’t too well-off on the man being injured.

I’m not,” Taehyung corrected quietly. “Someone else is, and boys with cottontails don’t need to be privy of that. They need to be asleep.”

“Someone’s hurt?” His ears pressed back on his skull, hands bunching up the blanket nervously. “Are they okay?”

Taehyung smiled like a lie. “Yeah, they’re okay, bunny.”

“Did someone break in? Are we in trouble?”

“No, little one. Don’t you think I’d be grabbing you up right now and getting you somewhere safe?” Taehyung pointed out, unclasping the first button of his shirt, trickling down to the next and the next.

“Then… what happened?”

“You’ve got a lot of questions tonight,” he sighed, shrugging his shirt off. It fell to the floor like a drape. Now he just had red hands. “I didn’t leave you for that long.”

“No, but…” Jungkook crept further under the blankets, confidence washing away like a low tide. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” he said, backtracking immediately. You couldn’t put a sad bunny in his face and expect him to keep playing hard to get. “There’s blood on my clothes. I was gone for hours. I get it.”

He took a step towards the bathroom, feet aching and calves stringing along, but the bunny took in a quick breath.

“They’re not okay, are they?”

Taehyung’s heavy eyelids carried through the deep concave of his chest. His lips twitched, and he stopped, looking over his shoulder at the hybrid who so diligently read him like a book.

It was clear as day to Jungkook that he wasn’t getting the full story. Taehyung looked exhausted, inside and out. Like his head had been wrung out. He moved slow and expressionless, and his words came out on a string, following along behind each other just because they had to.

He hadn’t come right out with the story the second he walked into the room. He hid that someone was hurt until Jungkook pressured him, and even then, he answered too quick for the hybrid’s liking. Taehyung would have ran to his side and calmed him down, explained to him that everything was okay. He refrained. He held it in. It was something he didn’t want Jungkook to know.

“No,” Taehyung admitted. “No. They’re not okay.” Flat ears punched his heart.

“Yours?”

“No. Yours.” Confused, Jungkook froze. “Not a hybrid. One of the men who kept you. The leader of the Opalites.”

“You—” Bunny teeth sat uselessly on his bottom lip, stunned into a lack of vocabulary, and then panic began to crawl onto his face, pointedly looking towards the door. “He came? He came for me?”

“No, no,” Taehyung rectified, heartbroken that the hybrid would even think he was considered important enough to them to infiltrate a highly guarded facility. “He didn’t. You’re safe, don’t worry. We took him. We took him when we took down his men.”

The hybrid visibly relaxed. “The leader of the mean people? That’s the one who got hurt?”

“He didn’t get hurt. I hurt him, Jungkook.”

“You did?”

Shirtless—wishing he wasn’t but it was better than the alternative—Taehyung approached the bed, knowing full and well that with every sway forward, Jungkook was gaining knowledge that the man in front of him just did something very, very bad to the person who held him captive.

He was in the same room as a torturer.

“I wasn’t going to tell you. I didn’t want you to know this side of my world, but you’re smarter than that. I can’t lie to you,” he said. “His name is Sujo. I thought you should know that.”

“Sujo…” Jungkook considered.

“He’s in the basement. Right under our feet.” Taehyung settled down on the edge of the bed, smiling faintly at the indentation of little legs under the blanket. “Jungkook, you have to know I don’t hurt people for no reason. I’m a monster, I know that, but I’m not a savage. I do it for a reason.”

Jungkook said quietly, “I know.”

“He hurt you, and it makes me angry. I can’t say made, because I’m angry about it right now. What him and his men did to you is unforgivable, so I didn’t let him die easily. "I haven’t let him die at all. “Everything I did, he deserved.”

“You… he’s dead?”

White lies were harmless until they started to stack up into a big, bold one. Taehyung decided at that moment, he’d never lie to Jungkook again—after this. Peace was all he wished for Jungkook, and something told him that knowing a man suffered immensely wouldn’t give that to the hybrid.

“He’s dead. I killed him,” he said calmly. “But listen to me, it was for retribution. I had to make sure he knew what he did to you. I had to.”

Jungkook’s hands stole his attention. “Did he say he was sorry?”

Taehyung took those immeasurably antsy hands and held them in his own, anchoring them in something steadier.

“No. I’m sorry, but I don’t think he was. I’m being honest with you because I respect you, okay? It’s not to hurt your feelings. It’s because you deserve the truth,” he said. “Sujo showed no remorse. What him and his men did, they meant to do it and they aren’t sorry. You have to understand that the bad people out there mean to do the bad things.”

“They meant to hurt me,” Jungkook murmured. “Why do you think they did that?”

“Because men are despicable creatures, baby. They take what they want. They have no self control and you’re a pretty, little hybrid. That’s all.” He brushed his thumbs over Jungkook’s hands, wilting at the hybrid’s melancholic ears. “Men have always raped, they’ve always taken advantage of others, and they always will.”

Jungkook started to ease up on his shins, ears shivering against his hair. Taehyung couldn’t tell if it was from a soon to come sob, or if it was fear of the world, or perhaps of the man with blood on his hands.

Jungkook used his hands as leverage to scoot forward and closer to Taehyung, until their knees knocked. He was leaning closer, the human could tell, but he couldn’t tell why exactly.

Then, Jungkook must’ve decided to throw all caution out the window, because he crept up to Taehyung until he was nearly on his lap, the only thing stopping him being the position of his legs. All Taehyung could do was touch his back and hold his breath, weary of what the hybrid had in mind.

Jungkook finally committed. Eyes downcast and taking a risk, twisting Taehyung's heart because he knew what a belittled creature looked like when it feared being rejected or smacked down, Jungkook crawled into his lap, knees against his chest and nose in his neck.

“But not you,” he whispered. “You won’t hurt me like they did. You’re not like those bad men.”

Taehyung could go on for days about how he was. What he made up for in lack of his sexual prowess was equally as detrimental—murdering fathers in front of their children, gunning down prostitutes for being swindled into collecting information from him, walking past a robbery just because he couldn’t trust himself. He’d never raped anyone, thought the lowest of those who did, but that didn’t mean he was a good person.

He thought of the teeth he yanked out of Sujo’s skull and continued to tell himself it was all for Jungkook.

“No, baby. I won’t,” Taehyung said to him, rubbing up his back. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

He even shocked himself how well he was taking this. This was the first time he’d ever had a hybrid in his lap, much less this hybrid. The amount of trust the boy was instating in him to curl up in his lap where all things horrible laid—the same things that tore him in two—was phenomenal. It was breathtaking. It was humbling.

He’d met his match. His bravery was nothing compared to this little boy.

How Jungkook deemed him of all people as rightfully fit to hold that trust in his hand really confused him. It was as simple as that—confusing.

“You’re good to me,” he said, soft and quiet. “I keep having nightmares, and then I wake up and remember you found me, and I feel safe again.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t find you earlier. I’m sorry they did all of this to you. You didn’t even stand a chance.” Taehyung’s hand formed around the base of his skull, massaging into his tense shoulder muscles. “Humans ruin everything, I know that, but sometimes I forget they’re capable of what they did to you.”

“But they’re also capable of what you did.” And if that didn’t stab him right in the heart, nothing ever would. The hybrid who had been treated like subhuman trash, locked away in hiding and abused tremendously, had more faith in humanity than he ever did. “That’s all I care about now. You.”

“This isn’t easy for me, you know,” Taehyung murmured, and he could feel his chest start to get heavy. Emotions didn’t come easy to him, and expressing them came even harder. “Jimin’s the only person I really care about. But now that I have you, that’s changing, and I’m kind of a fish out of water right now. I want to tell you how I feel, but I can’t.”

“That’s okay. You don’t have to. I’m happy right here.” That warm, little nose rubbed into his neck. “You never have to tell me anything. I just want to be with you.”

“But that’s not fair,” Taehyung grumbled. “You expect too little from me. You’re a person, Jungkook. I know that’s hard to believe after what they did, but you’re equal to me.”

“Then tell me…”

“I…” He took in a deep breath. His hands trembled, but he hid them in Jungkook’s clothes. “I’m finding myself coming to the realization that all I care about is you too. I just want to give you a good life. That’s all. I want to give you the attention you deserve. The attention you should’ve gotten all along, but I don’t know how to give it.”

Jungkook knew.

“You gave me my first meal in a really long time,” Jungkook said, and then his voice got even quieter from what Taehyung could only assume was shame. “And somewhere to go to the bathroom all on my own, and you let me clean myself without watching me—”

“God, Jungkook,” Taehyung ached, for the first time letting it get to him. He’d controlled his reactions since the first time he met Jungkook, but he just couldn’t anymore now that he’d opened the gates. “I’m so fucking sorry. You should’ve always had that. They treated you like a damn animal.”

“I know,” he murmured. “I felt like one a lot. My ears never made me feel like one, but they did.”

“You’re not. Do you hear me?” His hand buried itself in the thicket of Jungkook’s hair. “I’ll never let you feel like that again. You do whatever you want around here. You can sit in the bath for two hours for all I care, baby, I’ll just come to check on you to make sure you haven’t drowned.”

Jungkook giggled and it was heaven on Earth. “I like baths. I miss taking baths.”

“Then I’ll get you bubbles. And bath salts to make the water smell nice,” Taehyung said, watching fearfully as his ice cold heart melted right before his eyes, but he followed it, because fear had always been his friend. “I’ll get you your own bathroom. I’ll do anything, Jungkook. I’m spiraling and I can feel it.”

“Is that okay?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “All my life, all I’ve done is lead in the criminal world. I don’t know how to be sweet. I don’t know how to feel this. But I’m trying.”

“You’ll tell me one day about your life?”

“One day, bunny. When we’re closer, when you know me and it won’t scare you away.” Taehyung brushed between his ears, which had since unfolded. “But I want to know about you, you know. I want to know how you got here and what life as a hybrid is like.”

“It was never good until now,” Jungkook said, nose twitching happily. “But it was worth it to get here.”

Taehyung sighed, sitting his chin on his head. “I’d love to listen to you more, but I think I need to clean up before I get any blood on the bed. Let me up, little one.”

Jungkook went to move, but paused. “You went through that just for me?”

“Through what?”

“Hurting him.”

“Torture isn’t hard for me anymore, bunny,” Taehyung told him, hands following his waist when he eventually slid off of his lap. “But yeah, I did it for you. You’re too goodhearted to want revenge, so I did it instead.”

“I’m not scared of you. I want you to know that,” Jungkook said, eyes on his blood stained hands. “I don’t want you worrying that it scares me.”

“How does it not scare you?” He wanted to elaborate, but he also didn’t want to ruin his own chances.

“I can’t explain it. We like our owners no matter what. I don’t know what the word is, but we get very close and trust a lot. We don’t care what you do, as long as you’re good to us.”

“You bond with your owners,” Taehyung answered for him, smiling when the hybrid’s ears jumped up in recognition. “Interesting. I didn’t know your bond was so owner focused.”

“Of course it is.” Jungkook fidgeted back under the blankets, getting cold. “You’re all that we have. When you leave, we just wait for you to come back. And when you’re here, we just wait for you to talk to us.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Taehyung pat in between his ears. “I’m gonna take a shower. It’s late, so go ahead and get snuggled up and try to sleep. I’ll be back soon.”

“Can I keep the lamp on?”

“Absolutely. Do you want the TV on?”

Jungkook’s ears stalled. “I don’t…”

“Not sure? That’s okay. Baby steps. Just lay down and let your eyes rest for right now.”


 When Taehyung came out of the bathroom with damp hair and a clean shirt and shorts, he walked next to the bed to find the hybrid fast asleep, bunched up in the blankets facing the bathroom. He’d fallen asleep waiting for Taehyung, mouth open in a quiet snore and arm splayed out across the bed. A bare leg stuck out from the covers.

He looked so comfortable and cozy that it was truly good for Taehyung’s heart to see it. He needed to see this—that he was doing okay by the hybrid, giving him some type of a better life.

And when he slouched down onto the floor on his freshly straightened pallet, he knew he was. No one else in the world had ever given up their bed for Jungkook, and slept on the floor instead. Be it a small sacrifice, it was one that Jungkook had never been given, so Taehyung congratulated himself on that. The second sacrifice was sleeping with the lamp on because he’d never been able to since he was a kid. Should’ve been proof to his mother that he was going to be a psycho—nightlights didn't make him feel safe. They annoyed him.

He shut his eyes, finally got comfortable, and then—

“Taehyung?”

It came out small. Maybe on the verge of panicking if Taehyung listened closely. The hybrid had woken up to the bathroom door open and the light off, and no Taehyung in sight. The blankets rustled, legs shifting as he sat up in search for his owner.

“Down here, bunny. Not goin’ anywhere.”

“Oh,” he said in relief, letting his ears flop sleepily. “Do you want to be alone?”

“Are you asking to come lay with me?” Taehyung asked, hands folded on his chest and eyes on the ceiling. If he weren’t so damn exhausted, he’d sit up.

“I slept better with you…” Jungkook said quietly, “but only if you want me to.”

“C’mon,” he murmured. “Come down here.”

He could hear the hybrid excitedly get out of bed, like he’d been waiting to hear that before Taehyung even took a shower. When he came around the bed with his socks on and his shirt slipping off of his shoulder, Taehyung suddenly felt like a fat oaf waiting on his wife bring him a beer.

On the contrary, he was a mafia leader who just got out of a three hour torture session and took on a hybrid only two days ago and was fucking tired. He wasn’t lying down because he was lazy. He was lying down because at this point, he felt like he couldn’t get up.

Jungkook slowly eased down on the blankets, leaving some space between them, and automatically curled up, head on the second pillow and face turned towards his owner.

Taehyung’s breathing was already heavy, just moments away from passing out. The lamp made no difference tonight. It was like slingshotting a pebble at a tree.

“You’re gonna freeze,” Taehyung said, throwing the blanket over him. “You can have as much as you want.”

“Thank you,” Jungkook whispered.

He only had to stare wantonly at Taehyung’s chest for a record breaking two minutes,️ and didn’t even need to finish stretching his hand out between them for Taehyung to open his mouth again.

“Do you want to come over here?”

“Yes…”

“I can tell. You’re looking at me like you do,” Taehyung said, voice bogged down by sleep. “C’mere.”

He wasted no time, wriggling over to Taehyung until he could take his chest hostage, rubbing his ears against the underside of Taehyung’s chin, wiggling his nose when an arm draped over him and his support heaved in a long, steady sigh.

“Are you tired?” Jungkook asked softly.

“Very,” he rumbled. “I’m gonna go to sleep now.”

“I’m sorry I kept you up.”

“You didn’t. I stayed up for you. There’s a difference.” Taehyung’s shut eyes grew heavy. “I don’t mind doing things like that for you. Get some sleep.”

“Okay,” Jungkook agreed, nuzzling into his chest like a living, breathing bunny. “Goodnight, Taehyung.”

“Goodnight, Jungkook.”

And even after Taehyung dropped heavy into sleep, Jungkook stayed up just a little while longer to listen to him breathe. To feel his hand gain weight on his side. To snuggle up as close as he could until he finally felt cherished.

Chapter Text

April 15th

Taehyung somehow managed to leave in the morning without waking Jungkook. Somewhere in the night, the hybrid had shifted over just enough to give Taehyung clearance.

There was a little bit of fussing from the little one, sniffing and screwing his eyes shut even more so, but one hush into his ear sent him into a lullaby.

Because it wasn’t time to get up, and what Taehyung had waiting for him at five in the morning was not something the hybrid needed to let intrude his dreams. It was gory. It was horrid. It was a nightmare, and no more of those for Jungkook.

He got up early for one thing and one thing early—to get to Sujo before death could take him. He’d left him alive in one last kick of spite, just to lengthen the agony and pull every last shred of his life out of him. If he waited too long, he’d miss the man’s last breath.

He shut the door quietly behind him, checking over his shoulder to make sure the hybrid was still asleep. His nose scrunched up in the pillow, and his eyelids took a rest. That was all Taehyung needed to follow the stone corridor down to the depths of hell, and breathe in the stench of death.

That stench never subsided for him. Years upon years of taking in the draw of a dead body and nausea still visited him full force. He pulled his collar over his nose and approached the cell he left his mark on.

The guards to the side were silent today. They’d walked into a massacre this morning. The body looked like vultures had scavenged bits and pieces of it. Fingers and teeth slung along the table, reddened eyeballs on the floor, flesh dripped to the ground from smattered matter.

Taehyung unlocked the cell, pupils dilating to catch his barely rising chest. The man was still alive, but only by a thread. The thread was snapping with every footstep that came closer.

“You made it to morning, Sujo. Gotta give it to you. You didn’t take it gracefully, but God, did you take it.” Taehyung cocked his head to the side. “What’s the matter? Snake got your tongue?”

Not a single twitch when Taehyung slit his throat, nor a word. He’d said his peace. All it did was take up his time. He often lost all interest in the subject after torture. His endorphins rushed, then they plunged and crash landed. 

“Do with him as you like,” Taehyung said, dropping the knife on the table and casting one last glacial glance at the dying man. “Parade him to the city for all I care. Let them know what happens if they touch my hybrid from this point on."


He wrapped a hand around his bedroom doorknob, weighed down by exhaustion, when Jimin’s voice came soft from behind him. No footsteps. No one knew what Jimin’s footsteps sounded like.

“It’s a real mess down there.”

Taehyung looked over his shoulder. “You saw?”

Jimin leaned against the wall, one foot kicked out in front of the other, arms crossed and hair untouched by sheets. He hadn’t been to sleep yet. Jimin never did. The demons came for him when he closed his eyes.

“I did. I interrogated the other prisoner this morning. You didn’t make it easy. The guy was traumatized. I could barely get a word out.”

“Did you get anything?"

“Oh, I got it. I can get anyone to speak, Taehyung. You know that. Just took some coaxing and sweet talking. Guess he’s one of those. Mommy kicked him out of the nest too early.” Jimin kicked off of the wall and got closer, smiling gently at him. “Feel better after picking him apart?”

“I could’ve done it one more time… but now that I have Jungkook, I just want to focus on him. Figured that one out when I got back to my room last night.”

Jimin winced. “Shit. Was he still awake?”

“Yup. Wide-eyed awake. I had to tell him. I couldn’t lie to him. Not when I came in with blood all over me,” Taehyung said.

“How’d he take it?”

“Better than I thought.”

“Well, this is the kid who’s lived one hell of a life. He’s the one who’s been tortured. Your stories probably wouldn’t even phase him.”

“Which I don’t like.”

“Well.” Jimin shrugged. “Think about it this way—your life won’t torment him. He won’t turn against you or some other victim shit. His morals are already a little iffy, just like yours. Sounds spiffy to me.”

“Shut up,” Taehyung grumbled, running a hand through his hair, pushing it out of his drained eyes. “I’m gonna go lay back down. Talk to me again at a reasonable hour where I don’t feel the need to tear your hair out.”

Jimin looked right over his harsh words. They were a cover, and Jimin knew all too well when Taehyung was trying to run someone off, because usually it was him.

“Seriously. I wouldn’t ask you this, but because the kid’s part of it and that was a gnarly scene I walked into, I have to. You alright?”

“Yes, I’m okay, Jimin. Since when has the aftermath of a torture session ever concerned you?”

“Since you obliterated a man’s hand, that’s when.”

“I’ve done worst.”

“And then you spent the week after that punching walls and breaking shit. Are you alright, asshole?”

Yes,” Taehyung stressed. He grabbed Jimin by his face, pushing his cheeks in and thumbing at his ears. “I am just as unbothered as always. I hated that man, and I took it out on him. That’s all. I did to him what I wanted. I had no cap. That is all. I’m alright.”

Jimin reached up for his arms, squeezing them, eyes softening at the sincerity in his.

“Okay. I just have to make sure. I wouldn’t be your best man if I didn’t.”

“My best friend. Now go. You look like you need more sleep than I do.”

“Namjoon mentioned we’d—"

“Tell Namjoon I said no. Go to sleep.”

Jimin smiled. “Yes, sir. I’ll try.”

They let go of each other and Jimin went back to his room, the both of them sharing a look before he shut his door to go into solitude. It was dark when his door was ajar, and Taehyung hoped it would assist him in getting at least an hour.

Stepping into his own room, the effects of the past day were beginning to come down on him. What he’d slept last night wasn’t enough to carry him after getting up so early to end a man’s life. His feet trudged, but quietly so as to not wake the hybrid.

But there was no hybrid. The pallet was empty. The blankets had been rustled, but the pillows stayed as they were. The bed was empty too, untouched by human or hybrid.

Eyebrows knitted confusion on his forehead when Taehyung came to a full stop.

He didn’t think the hybrid would get up this early. The last couple of days he’d slept until nearly noon if not stimulated. Thinking maybe he'd left their makeshift bed, Taehyung ignored the ignition of worry in his chest and turned for the bathroom.

The bathroom door was open. The boy hadn’t forgotten any of his new rules yet. All he’d done was follow them obediently, and closing the bathroom door was one of them. Forgetting this one, one that Taehyung had previously pushed, was not in the hybrid’s character.

“Jungkook?” he called into the bathroom, wavering by the walk in closet, too nervous to walk around the corner and invade his privacy if he were bathing. But the boy didn’t echo back at him.

Jungkook,” he said again, more like an order than anything, and turned the corner.

The bathroom was empty. Worry turned to panic. His chest exploded in hot metal, cracking near his lungs, speeding up the process of his chest barreling to the ground.

He hurried out of the bathroom, eyes coasting over the room.

Even though he didn’t see Jungkook, he tried again. It was a foolish attempt, because the last two calls rounded up no response, but he was a fool for the boy, so hell.

“Jungkook, if you’re hiding, I need you to stop playing, okay? You need to come out now.”

Nothing. No answer. He backtracked to the closet, tore the hanging clothes to the side, ran his hand over the tall shelves because he was so little that maybe he could make it work.

Empty handed and heart racing, Taehyung dropped next to the bed with a shaky breath.

It was the last place he could tear apart before things became more grim. Before he believed that someone snuck in and took Jungkook while he was wasting time on a dying man, chasing after revenge when he should have been here.

His heart pounded against the floor when he laid flat on his stomach and lifted the tail of the comforter to squint into the darkness. His eyes were friends with the dark, often performed covert missions in it, but nothing could prepare him for the time it took to really see what monsters hid under the bed.

Eyes and cheeks glistened in the dim lighting. Lips blubbered in the middle of a soft cry, the hybrid was curled up underneath the bed, ears fallen over in his hair. A balled up fist hid the majority of his face from the intruder.

How he fit underneath there, Taehyung didn’t know, because he couldn’t even fit a box of secrets or momentos. He scoured the boy’s face for any scratches left behind from the sharp edges of the bed frame.

In a sigh of relief, Taehyung said, “Oh, thank God, there you are. You scared me so bad, Jungkook. What are you doing under here?”

The boy simply looked him up and down and hid a whimper in his fist, shuffling, taking the weight off of his hip. He didn’t know how long Jungkook had been in hiding. Could have been five minutes, or it could have been thirty. He wasn’t out long, but half an hour left plenty for the unknown to sprout.

“Jungkook. It’s just me. It’s just Tae, remember? Come out. Come on out.”

Jungkook shook his head frantically. Instead of going towards Taehyung, he moved in the opposite direction, shimmying further away, eyes guarded and distrust splittingly obvious.

The human’s face fell. Even when he had a gun in his hand and men were falling all around them, Jungkook had jumped to trusting him. He’d taken to Taehyung so easily, but this was light years away from what he’d become.

They were right back to day one. It was discouraging, but Taehyung pilaged ahead. No one ever said this was going to be easy, because nothing had ever been, and if he were honest, he’d had it pretty easy with the hybrid.

He thought Jungkook would scurry away from him when they got home for the first time. He thought he’d look like a monster with the same intentions as the Opalites. The kid should have treated him as an enemy, cried himself to sleep, refused to eat, flinched at every movement. But he’d been brave, and easy to tend to.

Taehyung's luck had come to an end, which was okay. He hadn’t had much of that in life to begin with.

“Are you hurt? Talk to me, baby. Tell me if you’re hurt.” Jungkook shook his head again, but it wasn’t as fevered. “Good. That makes me feel better. It scared me when I couldn’t find you. Did something scare you too?” Taehyung asked, and stretched an arm out towards him.

Eyes shot down to his hand like it was a knife. Jungkook nodded, hiding his face in his balled up hand, retracting and distancing them. His safe place was being infiltrated and it didn’t matter who it was. His brain was skewed, trying to get it’s foot out of the past, trying to remind him that he wasn’t with the Opalites anymore, but it wasn’t working.

He was staring into a discolored glass, and everything was warping. His skin felt vulnerable, cold to the touch, and buzzed against the carpet. The world around him was thrumming. 

“What scared you, little one?” Taehyung asked, starting to lose traction. In any other situation, he’d reach in and drag out whoever was stubborn enough to hide under a bed and shake some sense into them. He couldn’t quite apply that technique here. “You aren’t coming to me. Does that mean that I scared you?” Another nod. “What’d I do to scare you?”

Jungkook was built on a belief system of doing as told. It poked it’s ugly head out every day. Whether it be following Taehyung’s instructions a little bit too quickly, or answering something that made his skin shiver but still squeezed it out of his throat.

Or when he used his numb lips to put wet words together that choked up in his throat, crammed under a bed and ignoring the burning pain in one of his cramping legs.

“Y—You left.”

Taehyung’s face fell. “What?”

“You left. You were g—gone when I woke up,” Jungkook cried, losing his voice in the midst of his heart breaking sob, turning his head into the carpet. His chest heaved. “I was so scared.”

“Oh… oh.” Taehyung stretched his arm further, cringing when Jungkook whimpered louder. “Jungkook. I… I’m so sorry. I wasn’t thinking about that. I didn’t think you’d…”

“I thought you left me. Or someone m—might come get me. You can’t leave.

Well, fuck, if anyone ever said something frozen to the core couldn’t be thawed, no one had ever seen Taehyung’s heart, because it was burning through his chest. This was him. He was the reason that his hybrid felt lonely all over again. Years in a dusty, dark basement, and he’d dragged himself right back to that climate just to hide.

Because he’d left Jungkook alone.

“I don’t… I don't know how to do this yet, baby. I only ever take care of myself. I didn’t know I couldn’t leave you. I didn’t know waking up alone would scare you, but it did, and I’m so sorry,” Taehyung said, drumming his fingers to remind the hybrid what he was reaching for. “I shouldn’t have left you. I know that now. Let me make it up to you. Please come out here.”

“I can’t.”

“You can. I’m here now, Jungkook. That means you can come out now. I’d never let you come out if it wasn’t safe. No one else is here but me. I promise you.”

“You… you promise?”

“Yes, sweetheart. If you’ll let my hand closer, and link your pinky finger with mine, I’ll pinky promise with you. We can’t break one of those.”

Jungkook’s eyes were starting to unhaze when he looked down at the pinky that stood in the air. Touching Taehyung connected him with the world outside of this little space, but he craved for that same attention.

Being a hybrid terrified of the world was a confusing way to live.

He gingerly curled his pinky finger with Taehyung’s, flinching back at the first touch. Of course he knew Taehyung wasn’t going to grab his hand and drag him out, but his feeble mind told him elsewise.

Gentle finger around his, he let out a couple extra hard breaths, preparing himself to bust his private bubble, and started inching towards the outside world.

“There you go. Come on, that’s good. You’re doing good.”

Jungkook squirmed out, and Taehyung hung off the edge when the hybrid forced himself past the rough edges of the bed frame, scalp no doubtedly scratching against it.

He just barely eased out when Taehyung grabbed ahold of him, bundling him up in his arms, letting out the grandest sigh of grief and relief and solace either of them had heard.

Hand on the back of Jungkook’s head to cradle him tight in his arms, Taehyung huffed into his hair, “I was so scared I lost you. I came in and you were gone, and I thought someone took you.” The more he ran his big mouth, the more he saw the parallels.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook whispered into his neck. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Wasn’t on purpose. Just scared.” It came out slurred and what Taehyung vaguely remembered children sounding like after a nightmare.

“I know, sugar. You could never do any wrong, you know that? I know it wasn’t on purpose. Waking up alone can be scary when you’re in this new, big place.” Taehyung smoothed his hand down his back, lowering to his hips. “But we don’t hide underneath beds when we get scared, or in closets or anywhere else. We go find someone to help us.”

“Find someone?”

“Yeah, like—” Taehyung came to a screeching stop, because his hand swiped over Jungkook’s thigh to find his knee, just to move him up on his lap, and he touched something.

Something wet. He held his breath, fanned his fingers out over Jungkook’s thigh and his boxer shorts, and became all too aware of the warmth that spread over his lap. And the smell. The smell of urine. The scrunching of Jungkook’s shoulders as he felt his sin come to light, nose nudging into Taehyung’s neck.

“Jungkook, did you…” he whispered, looking over at his hand, watching light bounce off the thin sheen of fluid, and swallowed hard. “Baby, did you wet yourself?”

Nails clawed into his shirt and Jungkook curled into himself, hiding away from the shame like his face wasn’t wet with it, and his chest shook when his breath rattled.

It was a louder answer than any word could ever make.

“Oh, sweetheart, don’t cry anymore. It's okay. Okay. Okay.

Taehyung took a deep breath to steady himself, gripped tighter onto the hybrid who seemed to quiver worst than a leaf in a hurricane, and went full insane to talk to himself in his head.

He killed for a living. Lived to kill. Coaxing a distrusting hybrid out from underneath a bed rather than commanding it to listen was already a step up for Taehyung, and something he prided himself on. Nurturing he could manage, patience, on the other hand, was a lack luster item in his life's tool belt.

And handling a hybrid that wet himself took a whole lot of patience. His patience derived from the strange, pulsing affection he felt for Jungkook at such a rapid pace, because he somehow pushed himself even further. Took one step ahead than he’d ever gone, and fell into a pit of adoring patience.

He only wanted this boy to be comfortable, safe, and happy. Three simple, overused words, but classic and true. Seeing his body crumble in shame, literally mending together into as small of a ball as he could make himself, little whimpers cooing into thin fabric—it all plugged into his heart and pumped it full of sadness.

A simple, overused word, but a routine one for his days lately. If he tried to come up with a new one every time he felt it, he’d need to start making up words.

“I’m not mad. You’re not in trouble. It’s not your fault,” Taehyung hushed, and pulled him in close. He was already soiled. Might as well make the boy feel like this was okay rather than shoving him off. “It’s not your fault. You were just scared, right?”

Jungkook blew bubbles into his shirt. “Y—Yes. I’m so sorry. S—So sorry, Tae. It happened before I could stop it.”

“Don’t apologize. You don’t have to. Not to me, not ever. I’m the one who left you alone.” Rubbing over his back haphazardly, covering as much ground as he could, Taehyung tried to formulate a plan whilst calming down a torn up hybrid. “You can’t stay like this. You need to take a shower, okay? No bath. Not this time.”

Nodded pitifully into his collarbone, Jungkook put his slack arms around Taehyung’s neck when he hefted him up into his arms. Legs wrapped around his owner’s waist, Jungkook couldn’t even begin to understand the intimacy of it when he was drowning in the stench of his own creation. It wasn’t horribly pungent, but it was all he could smell.

He might even smell if for days if he knew himself at all.

The bathroom was too bright for his eyes after leaving the dank darkness of under the bed. He clenched his eyes shut in Taehyung’s shoulders. The air that wafted over his bottom was cold, and the hands that gripped onto his thighs burned into his skin. He knew they could feel the dampness.

“You’re not going to punish me?”

“I would never punish you for something like this. You couldn’t control it, or you wouldn’t have done it, right?” Taehyung said, easing him down onto the side of the tub. “This is all part of transitioning. Scary things. Hard things. Things that will make you feel not so good, like right now. But all those things are with me, and I’ve seen too many things in life to hold it against you, bunny."

Still too embarrassment and feeling like a piece at an exhibit with all the bright lights, Jungkook hid his face in various ways. Rubbing at his eyes, pressing into his cheeks, hanging his head.

His dignity had already been buried years ago, but Taehyung was digging it up. Problem is, some days, dirt kept falling back onto it, even by just a freckle. But the freckles were the worst. The small things seemed to hit him like an asteroid rather than a pebble.

This was an asteroid that could wipe the Earth clean a second time.

“Thank you… I really am sorry. When I heard the door open, I didn’t know it was you. That’s when I…” He squinted down at his lap, fighting a losing battle against the impending tears. “I d—did it.”

“You were scared. You are fresh out of hell. Nothing is going to come easy to you.” He brushed wet hair out of Jungkook’s eyes. “I, personally, was preparing myself for a hybrid who was so disassociated that he wouldn’t even be able to communicate. You are a blessing. I swear you are. If losing your bladder when scared is all you do, then I’m counting myself lucky.”

His plan was working. To desensitize the accident. To pull Jungkook away from the social norms of wetting himself. Wiping the shame from the situation was step number one. Step number two was to make it seem puny in the grand scheme of things.

Jungkook nodded, and let Taehyung run his fingers through his hair one more time before he left him with a clean pair of boxer shorts and a long sleeve shirt to really pull him through the day with covered up skin.

Outside of the bathroom, listening in on the water beating the porcelain, Taehyung stared hard at his phone, huffing when Jimin’s name popped up in his notifications.

Taehyung: please tell me i’m doing good right now, because i feel like i’m fucking up

Jimin: you probably are, idiot. everyone’s first hamster dies a horrible death. your first hybrid isn’t to go smoothly at first

Taehyung: you’re a god awful person

Jimin: sorry. what i meant was, no one expects you to be perfect, including him. i think you’ll find that you’re doing much better than you think you are

Taehyung: you think so?

Jimin: i know so. that kid is doing a million times better and it’s only been three days. hang in there. he needs you to

He tossed his phone to the side. No amount of measurements could help him get through this. Not after ten minutes of pushing the bed aside and scrubbing at the carpet. Thankfully, the hybrid was taking a long shower tonight to wash away the events.


“You just want to snuggle up with people all the time, don’t you?” Taehyung mumbled into his hair. “You bunnies are big time snugglers.”

All clean, the boy had dropped onto the bed like he was magnetized. Taehyung had never seen him push so hard into his side before, bearing down on him, pushing his face into his neck. His tail wiggled underneath his shirt and he’d just groaned into Taehyung like it somehow voiced all of his troubles.

Now, he hadn’t said a word but calmly breathed in his owner’s body wash so he wouldn’t have to smell the carpet cleaner.

Taehyung tried to get him to talk about it, but Jungkook was closed lipped about it. Pushing him into talking about it would only push him further into his head.

Jungkook nodded. “I like it. Like laying with you. Like being tucked in.”

“It’s those genes of yours. Baby bunnies sleep in bundles, did you know that? All curled up in their nests.” Taehyung’s eyes were on the docuseries they found, but his attention was elsewhere. “I can tuck you in tighter, if you want.”

Big eyes looked up at him. “Really?”

“Really. I can make anything happen if it’s for you. You’re a little one, remember? I could make you into a little ball any day.”

Everything he did was just to make the hybrid forget. Sweet words always seemed to pull him out of a mental block. His hybrid DNA soared when he was called little.

“C’mere, you fluff ball. Can I touch your leg?”

“Mhm.”

Taehyung grabbed the leg that sat near his hip and tenderly held under his knee, stroking with his thumb for just a moment to warn him, then hiked his leg over his waist. The hybrid breathed in sharp, but smoothed out just as quickly, blinking down at the manhandling hand that moved him around so easily.

Jungkook rubbed his ears into Taehyung’s chin, one hand between them, and the other arm laid out over Taehyung’s chest, loosely toying with the pillow beneath the leader’s head.

“There. All tucked in a bunny ball.”

Jungkook giggled. “A bunny ball.”

“That’s the best way to explain you with that little tail of yours going crazy. Happy, huh?”

Jungkook nuzzled into his neck like a proper bunny and sighed, toes curling in. “I’m very happy. I’m with you.”

“I hope so.” Taehyung quieted down. “I hope you’re happy with me. I know I messed up today, and I just want to make sure this is still where you want to be.”

“I… Tae?”

“Yeah?”

“I know why it scared me.”

“Because you were alone?”

“Not… n—not all the way.” Completely, he wanted to say, but that word wasn’t in his vocabulary book yet.

“Why did it scare you?” Taehyung urged. God forbid the kid finally talked about his feelings.

“With the mean men, I woke up to them hurting me. It happened in the night, at different times. It would wake me up. I never slept all the way…” Jungkook’s warm breath rolled onto his neck in a weak huff. “But when I sleep with you, I know no one will wake me up hurting me. I’ll wake up on my own, or to you. When you were gone… I thought maybe someone would be able to hurt me now. Because you weren’t there to stop it.”

“Or someone might come get me.”

Not someone in the base. Not someone to steal him. He was thinking back to the Opalites, and how being with Taehyung led to his first nights of sleeping all the way through without someone slipping a hand down his thigh. Take away Taehyung, and his fragile mind couldn’t put two and two together.

“You don’t have to have me for that. In this place, from here on out, you will never have someone come in while you’re sleeping to hurt you, okay? You can be alone when you sleep. I promise it isn’t me keeping them away. I could be gone for a month and no one will even touch this room.”

“But I didn’t know that this morning.”

“I know you didn’t. But now you do,” Taehyung said softly, playing with his hair. “So what happens if you wake up and I’m not here?”

“Nothing happens.”

“That’s right. Nothing. You go back to sleep and get all the rest you can.” Taehyung smudged his cheek into Jungkook’s head and sighed at the smell of a clean hybrid. “Might make me go on a murdering spree next time you make me think one of my men took you.”

“I didn’t go find you. That was good, right?”

“Yes. Good. If I turned around where I was and found you, I would’ve had a personality split.”

Today marked the first day in years that Taehyung didn’t show his face in the headquarters. The only thing that kept Jimin from busting down his door was a text message assuring him all was fine.

From dawn ‘til dusk, the bunny stayed tucked in his owner’s side, pointing with a finger when something interesting happened on the TV. Namjoon delivered them food, only because the smartie pants insisted on the both of them eating, even if it meant leaving his intel area.

Things were good, and Taehyung didn’t leave Jungkook again. Couldn’t. Not after his heart took nearly twenty-four hours to be sewn back up.

He felt lazy. He left like a slob. But more than anything, he felt forgiven.

Mafia leaders didn’t seek forgiveness. It was often crushed in a clenched fist. Their crimes were too heinous to ask for forgiveness, if ever asked for. Usually there wasn’t anyone left to ask for forgiveness.

This one, this boy, he never wanted to wrong again.


April 16th

In the morning, Jungkook only woke up because Taehyung did. Deciding whether or not to move and wake up the body draped over him was a decision he wasn’t able to make clearly with half of his brain functioning, but he stood behind waiting ten minutes and then stirring.

It was nice just lying with Jungkook. His ears had a mind of their own when he slept. They twitched and flicked, bending in the middle occasionally. That was how he knew he was dreaming. The very sense of having the hybrid in his arms, comfortable and warm and tended to was essentially everything he ever wanted from this.

There had to be something excruciatingly relieving for the hybrid to do it. To go from a straw bed where drafts gave him goosebumps late at night, to bundled up under the blankets, curled up against a kind owner. It was gratifying.

He had the same feeling with his stuffed animals when he was a child, always wanting to tuck them in and hold them close. That was before his life pipelined into destruction.

The early morning made him think. And the only thing he could think about this morning was how Jungkook was the purest part of his life. Possibly the most untainted thing he’d ever touched.

And he didn’t mean the boy wasn’t undoubtedly damaged inside and out, but that it didn’t change him. It made him nervous, defective in social situations, but he retained his wonder in the world. He looked around with big, brown eyes like everything sparkled back at him.

Jimin was the best thing Taehyung had in his life, but Jimin was wrapped up in the same crumbling world as him. They loved each other, would die for one another, but Jimin still had one foot in the mafia world.

Jungkook was clean. He was unaffiliated. He was beautiful and sweet and hadn’t a single drop of blood on his hands.

In a world of destruction, the hybrid that fell into his life was merely a butterfly landing on the rubble.

“I’m still tired,” Jungkook had mumbled when Taehyung woke him up, rubbing at his eyes and damn near pouting.

“You can keep sleeping. It’s me who has to suffer in the early world,” Taehyung said, cracking the sleep out of his neck. “Since I spent all my time with you yesterday, I have a lot to do today.”

“A lot?”

“I have a couple things I need to go over with my men. You don’t need to worry about any of that.” He forced himself off the bed, while Jungkook nosed into the pillow he’d just left behind. “I’m gonna get you some breakfast to start off. Gotta remember to take your pills with it.”

“And do my ointment.”

“And your ointment. Good boy.” Taehyung started rifling through his shirts, more than pleased to find the hybrid un-moved when he turned around. “Go ahead and do that while I get you your food. I’ll be back soon, yeah?”

He’d chosen a basic, black shirt and Jungkook liked the look of it. He eventually sat up when Taehyung fit his handgun in his holster, wished they could stay under the covers for longer, but smiled at him nonetheless.

“Okay.”

He meant it when he said he had business to take care of. He served a plate of breakfast to Jungkook, nearly double what he would normally serve himself, and held a quiet conversation. Asked how he was doing, how his wounds felt, if he was feeling any better from yesterday, if he needed anything in particular.

All of the answers just felt like the hybrid was giving what was expected from him, but Taehyung let it slide for now. They’d get into the nooks and crannies when he cleared his schedule and really hunkered down.

And then after that, Taehyung wiped Jungkook’s chin with his napkin because he never seemed to slow down, like someone would snatch his food right from his hands, and sighed in final.

“Alright, bunny. I’d take you with me, but I’d rather you have a few more days to rest. The last thing you need is to be acquainted with the chaos that is my world,” Taehyung told him with a smile. “So, stay here and watch some cartoons or something. Maybe a little Bugs Bunny. Relax some.”

“I’ll go wherever you want me to,” Jungkook said. “But when you do want me to go with you, I’ll be happy. When I’m here, I just wait for you.”

“And I mean, that’s okay, as long as you don’t just stand there if the building starts burning down.”

“I might,” Jungkook said with a wince.

“Don’t worry. If this place burns down, the first place I’ll come is here for you.” Taehyung patted his knee. “Which reminds me. We haven’t had this talk, but we need to after yesterday.”

“Talk…?”

“If anything happens—you see something, you hear something, or you feel something—I don’t care—you do not hide. You go get Jimin. If Jimin isn’t in his room, you go get Namjoon. I can’t stress that enough. If you are scared or nervous for any reason whatsoever, you go to them. I’ve already talked to them. They know their duty to you.”

Jungkook fidgeted. “So they… they won’t get mad at me?”

“God, no, bun. They want you safe just like I do.”

“Okay,” Jungkook mumbled. “But can you show me their rooms before you go? And does this mean that you might be gone for a really long time?”

“Of course I can,” he said, “and no, but that depends on what you consider a really long time. If it’s a few hours, then I’m in trouble.”

“So not a few days?”

Taehyung climbed off the bed, urging the hybrid to follow him, frowning deeply that the hybrid would even think he’d leave him alone for that long.

“I’m not leaving for a few days. If I was, I can promise you that we’d be doing this a whole lot different. I’d be moving you into Jimin’s room and giving you a long lecture on not forgetting about me,” he said, making sure Jungkook was following him to the door. “No, I’ll only be gone for a few hours. Hopefully no more than a few. But sometimes things do come up.”

“That’s okay,” Jungkook said, easing out the door next to him. “As long as you come back.”

“I’ll do my very best now that I have you,” and refused to think of the opposite option. They looked out into the hallway. “That door right over there is Jimin’s. It’s close enough that if something does happen, he’ll hear you call for something. And up those stairs is Namjoon’s room. He’s a little further up, so always go for Jimin first.”

“Do I knock? Will they see me?”

“Knock, unless something’s happening, then you scream as loud as you can, alright?” Taehyung gripped his shoulders softly, squaring up their eyes. “The goal is to get help immediately. Nothing should ever happen, Jungkook. Nothing ever does, but in this life, you always need a backup plan and an escape route.”

“Okay. Knock, and scream if I’m in trouble. Jimin first, then Nam…”

“Namjoon.”

“Then Namjoon.”

“That’s what I like to hear. Now go back inside and be a normal hybrid for once. Just lay around on the bed and eat the snacks I left on the bedside table. There’s cookies in there and something tells me you like cookies.”

“I do like cookies.”

Perfect. Go eat cookies. Be good. Don’t light any fires, lock the door behind me, and do not open any doors for anybody. Jimin and Namjoon have keys, don’t forget that.”

“Yes, sir,” Jungkook said in a near joking tone and it was the first time Taehyung had ever heard it. It was cute. “If I burn the place down, do I still wait for you?”

“Oh, you’ve got jokes now, huh?” Taehyung said with a grin, and ruffled the hair between his ears. “I like it. You’re a cheeky, little bunny. Think of some more while I’m gone. But stuff your face first. We have to cover up those bones.”

Jungkook’s bunny teeth flared. “I’ll eat a lot for you. Please come back soon, Tae.”

“I’ll come back as soon as I can.”


He ate the cookies as requested. Watched cartoons just like Taehyung wanted him to. Rolled around in the bed a few times until his tail started wiggling in excitement and his ears perked up. For two hours, he tried to satisfy all of Taehyung’s requests, and a couple of his own.

Like try to find those cavities the doctor spoke of, and count how many bruises stitched along his skin.

Two hours in, he heard a noise. It was a bump, like an elbow too close to the wall or a head leaning back too far. He wrote it off the first time.

The second time it happened, his ears sounded the alarm. They strickened like a highly-tuned string, alert and concerned.

He didn’t like it to begin with, but when another noise thudded from the bathroom, he really didn’t like it.

His heart started to whirl like a motor and his fingers took on a quiver. Paranoia crept in like a thief and stole his peace of mind like it never minded in the first place. He could hear his own blood rushing through his ears when he tried so hard to focus his sense of hearing to hear any other sounds.

The longer he waited, the more fearful he grew, and when the next thud came, his zoned in ears twitched back and he catapulted off of the bed, running for the door. He needed out of that room, away from whatever was lurking in the dark.

Maybe they had come for him. Maybe Taehyung was mistaken. They could be in the depths of the closet, waiting for their chance to take him back, where the straw and the buckets and the bruises were.

He heard a final, distinct sound—couldn’t pinpoint what kind or where—in the rush of air by his ears, hurrying out of the room.

Jimin. Go to Jimin. Knock on the door. He scampered over, ears throbbing against his head and heart absolutely knocking his chest down. Breathing came harsh to him and so did his steps.

He still hadn’t completely gotten back his balance or his strength. Using the wall to support him, he bounced up to the lonesome door and hovered his fist over it.

He’d never spoken to Jimin. Only seen him a couple times. He hadn’t raised any red flags, but all he’d heard and seen of him was a depiction of… crass. Rude curses and haughty grins and smirks, firing bullets into the air without a single thought about it, nailing them in between the eyes without breaking a sweat.

Taehyung promised he wouldn’t get angry, and someone was in his room—he had to.

Jungkook knew how to do things he had to, like eating something even if it had mold on it, or swatting down those spiders with long, brown legs that his past owner once called a brown recluse.

He rapped his knuckles on the door, gentle and quiet, because he didn’t have much in him. Strength was a luxury for him, and so was courage. Neither of which he had, the entire reason he was at Jimin’s door to begin with.

For a moment he worried he wasn’t loud enough. Then he worried even more because he couldn’t get louder.

The door opened. It didn’t creek, it didn’t burst any air. But maybe that was just because Jungkook couldn’t hear anything but his heartbeat.

The assassin had his poker face on when he first opened the door. It was his default, because he’d spent countless years perfecting it. Until he saw the hybrid. Then his eyes sharpened, and he was alert.

He’d had the talk with Taehyung yesterday. He was the hybrid’s first source of secondary safety. If anything happened, Jungkook was to come to him. Big or small, any problem whatsoever, his door needed to be open.

And that went both ways—if he heard explosions or ruckus, he was to go straight to the hybrid’s room and secure him, first and foremost.

The hybrid was his responsibility just as much as he was Taehyung’s, because he wasn’t just Taehyung’s partner—he was his best friend. If he cherished the hybrid, then so did Jimin.

Besides, he’d been there when they found Jungkook. Saw the conditions he lived in, his bare body, the whites of his eyes, the twitch of his ears at every bullet that fired. His heart had broken too. It was still fractured every time he looked at the poor thing and remembered.

Hybrids were his weakness. He’d wanted one for years, but refused to contribute to the broken system, so he lived empty handed. Jungkook made them feel more empty than ever.

His duty was to protect Jungkook with his life. That was well understood.

“Jungkook?” he asked. “Everything okay?”

He didn’t say what’s wrong for the hybrid’s sake only, though he knew something was, because the hybrid was at his door.

Jungkook took in a raddled breath. He was notably nervous and on edge, hands shaking in his sweater and ears folded back.

“I don’t know. I think someone’s in my room.”

“What?” Jimin asked, and right before Jungkook’s eyes, he transitioned from casual to armed defective.

His eyes snapped up, sharp and focused, years of training and seconds of turning the corner on a gun inches from his face driving his pupils like a laser. The area was clear, the hybrid was secure, but the threat was not eliminated.

Jimin swiped his handgun out of his holster, always strapped to his thigh or snug under his pillow, and took the hybrid by the back of his neck, dragging him forward and close, eyes diamond-cut and muscles tight.

Assassin's weren’t detectives or hitmen. They were cold-blooded killers, bred by the red of their blood to seize and persist until the job was done. They were snakes by birth and slithered and striked until their venom took affect.

Jimin wasn’t just one of Taehyung’s men. That was a decree signed by Hell’s master himself.

“Why do you think someone’s in your room?” he asked, and took tentative steps for the afflicted zone, mapping it out in his mind as they spoke.

“Something in the closet. Moving.”

“Alright. Listen closely, Jungkook. First of all, nice to meet you. Second, you’re gonna be a good boy today. You’re gonna stay with me at all costs. You go where I move you, and you stay quiet,” Jimin instructed, fingertips kneading into the muscles of his neck. “I leave you in my room and I risk someone snatching you up while I’m not looking, so you’re coming with me.”

“But… b—but what if they get me?”

“You think I’m gonna let anyone get you?” He stopped at the bedroom door, still ajar. “I’m the one person in this place who won’t ever lose. Don’t let Taehyung tell you any different.” He scoffed, and raised his weapon. “He’s got a lot of misplaced air in his head.”

Using his shoulder to creep the door open, gun poised and squared with his shoulder, Jimin held a finger up and soundlessly shushed him, making direct eye contact. Terror in someone else’s eyes was something Jimin had come to know quite well, but it felt different in these eyes.

The hand on his neck lowered, stiffening on his shoulder blade, bunched up his sweater, and tugged him along. The gun pointing to the ceiling slung forward, aimed for wherever it’s owner looked next.

Jimin’s hawk eyes swept over the room, feet stepping lightly, finger rested on the trigger. The room itself looked clear, regardless of beneath the bed, but Jimin never believed a clean slate when he saw one. Too many bullets in bones and knives to the neck to fall victim to a fake scene.

Front to the bathroom, prepared to shoot if anything so much as cast a shadow through the large windows above the bathtub, Jimin slowly knelt to the floor, but when it came to redirecting his eyes from the source of the noise, he moved like lightning, examining the absence of light beneath the mattress like it was counting to ten.

He sprung up to his feet, and approached the bathroom walkway with the closet door on the right like a rabid dog was awaiting his company on the other side of the room.

He flattened his back to the wall—right on the edge of the doorframe—and felt the cold steele of his handgun against his cheek. He took a controlled breath, one that Jungkook’s ears couldn’t even pick up, and curtly turned the corner with his gun raised and purpose to kill.

He didn’t breathe in relief when it came up empty. He wasn’t an amateur. Basking in relief too early could get the back of your head knocked out mid-sigh. He continued a stoic mask, eyed up the careful resolve of the hybrid who was shaking so hard that he was certain his held-together breath was merely following orders.

Rifling through the clothes, Jimin deemed it safe enough to lead Jungkook to the last location. The bathroom was stark white and open, nowhere to hide, and he came up empty within seconds.

Jimin’s weapon dropped to his thigh and he sighed, not so much in relief, but in final.

“The area’s clear. No one’s here,” he said, scanning around them one more time for good measures. “Must’ve just been some ruckus downstairs... or upstairs."

The events unfolded on top of Jungkook’s chest. He’d dragged Jimin out of his room just to come up empty. To make him search an empty room on what could be considered an off day for him. The first time Taehyung leaves him and he went and panicked.

Jungkook got small. Real small. Jimin had never seen something wilt so much, ears folding back like they’d been rained on, and hands tearing harshly at his sweater, eyes down and borderline tortured.

“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”

“What—”

“It was nothing and I made you leave your room and I’m sorry. I’ll—” He was looking around for something to apologize with, even if it were him. “I’ll do anything to make up for it. I’m sorry.”

“Hey, uh-uh,” Jimin said in sudden surprise. The hybrid was crumbling, falling apart with every failed attempt to come up for a payment for his time. “Don’t do that. Don’t be sorry. You thought someone was in here, and you came and got me like you were supposed to. You did everything right, Jungkook.”

“But I was wrong…”

“I’m glad you were. It’s a good thing, buddy.” Jimin took a step forward, and another, and talked himself into another one. “If you weren’t wrong and you didn’t come get me, someone could have hurt you. That’s what we don’t want.”

“I just didn’t want to be hurt again.”

“I know. I know. C’mere, you little thing,” Jimin said with a grieving sigh, that sad, little face taking a toll on him.

He welcomed Jungkook close to him by a hand on the back of his head and another on his back, gun back where it belonged to recharge.

“I really am sorry.”

“I’m not. You were smart. You did just what you should.”

Jungkook didn’t expect him to be like this, intimate so soon and close. The Jimin he’d witnessed had been harsh and distant in a closed-off way, clearly holding a history with Taehyung, but covering up his human words with robotic, preconceived jabs.

He put his gun up and switched to a completely different person. Though, he had to remember he’d never actually spoke with Jimin before, and he was jumping the gun to assume his personality.

Him and Taehyung were certainly not the same character. They were apparently a fairly different species altogether.

Jungkook—of course—melted into his chest. No hybrid ever turned down affectionate attention.

“Thank you,” he murmured.

“Not a problem. I’m just glad we didn’t have any breaches in security. That would be one hell of a hole to plug.” Jimin rubbed at his back. “C’mon. Back to bed. You should be resting.”

At least the hybrid had quit shaking, though, he was still shaken. Shaken that someone had come back to take him away, and is easily torn nerves were soaring. Sensitivity was already a based component of a hybrid, bring in abuse and you could double that.

“Is—Is Taehyung coming back soon?”

“I don’t know, Jungkook. Taehyung deals with a lot of stuff outside of this room, and sometimes it can take a long time.”

“But what if…” He climbed up on the bed with one leg folded to pull himself up. His little bones weren’t strong enough. His tail twitched against the covers. “I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want someone to get me.”

“I checked everywhere. There isn’t anyone here. I wouldn’t stop searching if I had any concerns. I’m the one who searches the area after a raid to make sure no one’s hiding, and I have a perfect record on my belt. It’s my speciality to win hide and seek.”

“I trust you, but now I’m just scared,” he murmured, and didn’t really know how to explain it. It didn’t make sense that clearly no one was in his room but he still wanted to look over his shoulder. “I don’t feel safe.”

“This is the safest you’ll ever be,” Jimin said softly.

“I don’t feel it.”

“Would you…” Jimin glanced at the doorway, worked something up in his mouth, and said tentatively, “Would you feel better if I stayed?”

Jungkook’s ears raised just an inch. “You would?”

“It’s my job to make sure you feel safe, and I really can’t go back to my room knowing I’m leaving a bunny behind to check over his shoulder every two seconds,” Jimin said with a smile and cracked his neck to the side. “So how about we put something on to watch and I find out just how cuddly a bunny can be?”

“You…” Jungkook pulled his thumbs together. “You want to sit with me?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Jimin asked like he was crazy, and he placed his weapon on the bedside table after flipping the safety on—there might as well have been a child in the room. “I know I look scary, but my mother used to call me a teddy bear, and I love to spoil cute things, so, you know what that means for you, right?”

Jungkook wormed up to the head of the bed and looked just about out of his environment. When he called this rash mouthed boy into his room, he didn’t think said haughty boy would come in with soft eyes and gentle hands.

“I… get spoiled?”

“Smart boy. You got it.” Jimin unlatched his holster from his hip and peeled it off. “I guess all you’ve ever seen of me is shooting people and giving Taehyung a hard time. But the first one’s my hobby and the second one’s my life’s calling, but the third thing you haven’t seen is that I might as well be as mushy as cookie dough.”

“I like… I like when people are nice to me,” Jungkook said slowly. “And I know Tae likes you, and I want to like you too. So… you can lay down with me, if you want to.”

“Nothing would make me happier. I’ve wanted to give you lovings ever since you stepped foot in this place, but Taehyung kept you all to himself,” Jimin said with a sigh, and rounded around to the other side of the bed. “Selfish jerk.”

Jungkook had heard the bad men at the Opalites compound talk about him like that. They spoke of passing him around—sharing him, holding out. But this sounded different, genuine, sweet.

When the assassin lugged a leg over the bed, his eyes were all on the hybrid’s body language. It was almost alien how strong his senses were radiating—so careful and subtle, yet Jungkook knew he could see every intake of air he took.

Jimin was thankfully in comfortable clothes, considering that he was caught off guard. His baggy, long sleeve shirt and his mid-thigh shorts came along with him for the ride and they were perfect for the occasion.

Jungkook rung his arms together, watching him closely.

“You still okay?”

“I’m okay,” Jungkook said quietly. “I really am.”

“You wouldn’t happen to be talking yourself into believing that, would you? Or are you telling the truth?”

“I won’t ever lie to my owners,” he murmured, ears cocking back. “You feed me and keep me safe. I won’t lie.”

Jimin frowned. “Hey, I don’t think you’d lie. I’m not saying that, buddy. Just making sure, that’s all. Relax. I’m not the one who’s gonna grill you. That’s Taehyung.” He settled back against the headboard, smiling to the side at Jungkook. “I’m the fun one. I’ll just watch movies with you and feed you chocolate, but you have to keep it a secret from Taehyung.”

“I do?”

“He can be a bit of a buzz-kill, and I’m not gonna let that stop me from spoiling you.” Jimin wiggled back against the headboard and sighed. “I’m here with you until Tae gets back, so whatcha wanna watch, bunny?”

“I don’t know…” Jungkook mumbled, and picked up the remote weakly, nonchalantly easing it closer to Jimin. “You can pick. I’ll like anything you pick.”

“You sure?”

“You’re staying to make me feel better. You should choose.”

Jimin shrugged. “Okay. I’ll pick it, but you tell me if you don’t like it, alright?”

“Alright.”

“I’m gonna go with a no on scary movies right off the bat, huh?” Jimin asked, mulling over his options. Episodes, documentaries, movies. The choices were endless.

Jungkook nodded quickly. “Yeah. I don’t like them. Not right now.”

“I figured. You spook too easy,” he said with a smile. “Here, we’ll just watch a nice, little documentary about the ocean. What do you think about that?”

“Whatever you like,” he said. “I like the ocean. I’ve never seen it before, though.”

Jimin hummed simply to that, in thought. Maybe they’d have to change that. He couldn’t have that for their hybrid, now could he?

With the documentary chosen and the room growing quiet, Jimin was quite comfortable where he was, leaning back on the headboard with his hands resting in his lap.

But five minutes in, it was clear that Jungkook was having some issues.

The hybrid was fidgeting, and every now and then, his body would teeter-totter toward Jimin, then straighten back up. His ears would lop over, like he was arguing with himself over something. He kept looking over in the corner of his eye and at this point, Jimin was concerned he couldn’t even pay attention to the TV.

But he knew what this was. An attention depraved hybrid so close to a kind, receptive person and it wasn’t gaining any affection from it.

He’d heard the medical report from Hoseok. He threatened to dig a knife in his thigh if he didn’t spill. Of course he did. He knew of the horrors, and Taehyung had told him plenty about the food scraps and lack of privacy. He himself saw the conditions of his “bed” and his uncovered body.

Jimin knew what the poor thing needed. He needed plain, simple love. It would take years of overflowing affection to make up for the abuse, and he was starved of it.

Jimin knew Taehyung had already made a dent, but hell, you could only shit in buckets for so long before kind human contact became a drug.

It wasn’t a problem when he realized that Jungkook was yearning for his affection, because when he pictured in his head someone throwing a tough, unwanted piece of steak all chewed apart onto the floor in front of Jungkook, he wanted nothing more than to give that affection.

“Hey,” Jimin said quietly. “Are you wanting to come over here?”

Jungkook’s eyes fell to the sheets. Like Jimin would actually have the heart to say no. Like the floor might fall under him if he answered this wrong.

“I… would like to, please.”

The smile that graced Jimin’s face was doused by the sparkle in his eyes. He held his arms open.

“C’mon. Any way you want, little one. Just whatever’s comfy.”

“Any way?” he asked in uncertainty. He was expecting a lot of trick questions, apparently.

“Any way,” Jimin confirmed, beckoning him closer.

The hesitancy in his body language and his words broke Jimin’s ever loving heart and opened up a door of many revelations.

The Opalites must’ve been cruel tricksters, inviting him, tricking him into thinking they actually cared or wanted him, then let the ball drop. He hoped the boy never got shoved, or hit for it.

He must have been. Because when Jungkook edged closer to him, his ear and it’s corresponding eye twitched, like this was right about the time someone would bring their fist down on his head.

He wasn’t Taehyung. That was the issue. For all Jungkook knew, Jimin could be just another trickster going behind his boss’ back to fuck around with the newly arrived hybrid.

But when Jungkook got closer and closer and pain didn’t radiate through his head, he thought maybe this would be okay. Maybe the tricks really were over.

He made contact with Jimin’s side and the arm that hovered just a centimeter from his back made his skin tingle.

He needed it. He needed to be held so bad. He didn’t care who, just that their intentions weren’t to slip a hand between his thighs when he relaxed.

“There we go. You’re doing good. I’m not going to hurt you, Jungkook. Lay down any way you want,” Jimin reassured him, watching his clumsy hands carry him closer.

Jungkook believed him with all of his heart and the same thing was what always got him in trouble to begin with. Believing men who knew how to be cunning, only to be cast to the side like an overbearing blanket.

He tentatively curled up next to Jimin, but when the assassin wrapped an arm around him and it was like the cherry on top, he had no choice but to fall into his instincts.

He was a rabbit hybrid, and rabbit hybrids coiled and curled and hid in the grass in bundles of fur. So, he kept going.

He used Jimin’s body as leverage to keep him up—which was surprisingly sturdy for a small stature—and fit his legs between Jimin’s. Not a single inch of it felt sexual, which was strange for him, but the human exerted a big brother energy that just drowned all gutter thoughts.

Legs warm, and body happy in Jimin’s arms, he nudged his head against Jimin’s chest and sighed, wiggling his nose into his long sleeve.

“Comfy?”

Jungkook said with light on his heart, “Yes, sir.”

“Good, baby,” he answered and kissed the top of the hybrid’s head. “You can hold on tight. I won’t break.” Because he could feel that little hand massaging into his side like it needed more.

Jungkook happily strengthened his arm around the human’s waist, but kept the other bunched up between them. His ears relaxed against his head, not folded, but not rigid either.

“Now just relax. I’ve got you. Not a thing’s gonna get to you.”

“Thank you,” he whispered.

The documentary was a little over an hour. Twenty minutes in, Jimin turned to scratching his back. It was an urge he couldn’t fight, really. He had the chance to give this hybrid all the love he deserved, and he’d be damned if he didn’t take it while he had it.

Though, he knew he’d have plenty of other chances, because no way in hell was Taehyung going to be able to keep him away from him.

Forty minutes in, a key fit into the lock and jimmied it. They both turned their heads, and Jungkook—who had been on the doorstep of sleep—lifted his head. He subconsciously held onto Jimin tighter.

Someone coming into his room already messed with his nerves, even if he knew it was one of the three key owners.

The door careened open, Taehyung took two steps in, looked up from his phone, and froze. A lot of emotions sparked on his face, and a lot of thoughts ran through his head.

First off, it took a second for him to recognize it was Jimin who was in his bed with his hybrid. His first reaction was to reach for his weapon, because someone was in his bed with his hybrid. It didn’t need a lot of explaining.

If it weren’t for the fact that it was Jimin and he knew the assassin would only ever be in that bed for good reasons, he would’ve already rang the room with gunfire.

Second, why the hell was Jimin in here?

Really, a million other thoughts passed his mind, but the first and foremost stumbled out of his mouth as he shut the door behind him.

“What happened?”

“Right to the bad stuff, huh?” Jimin asked, rubbing soothingly into the hybrid’s upper back. “Hey to you too. Oh, and you’re welcome. He thought he heard someone in his room, so he came and got me. Didn’t want to be alone after that.”

Taehyung’s face fell. With every new day that came, Jimin was becoming increasingly more interested and amused in the many seasons of this new emotional Taehyung.

“Oh, honey,” Taehyung said with a frown, crossing to the bed and dropping his phone on the bedside table. “Are you okay?”

Jimin almost took it personal how quick Jungkook left his side without a second thought. But, the way that his ears lopped over and he crawled over to Taehyung so easily compared to his previously anxious nature really wiped away any and all jealousy.

“I’m okay,” he said, crawling into the arms that were wide open just for him. “It turned out that no one was here.”

“I see that, but it was probably still scary, huh?” Taehyung asked, kissing his temple and rubbing into his back.

“Yeah… I was scared. But Jimin came in and checked the room and everything looks okay. I was just wrong.”

“Which is okay, remember?” Jimin reminded him. “We talked about this.”

“Which is okay,” Jungkook said softly.

Taehyung looked over the hybrid’s shoulder and met with crescent moon eyes, all scrunched up from smiling. He mouthed a thank you, and Jimin nodded once to him. The sweet coating on his face told Taehyung it wasn’t a problem.

“Good. You did good, little one, going to get him. That was very smart of you.” He leaned back, smiling down at the little hands that crowded between Jungkook’s spread knees. “I’m just glad you’re okay. It scared me when I saw Jimin here.”

“Yeah, usually people come and get me when the worst case scenario hits,” Jimin said with a laugh.

Taehyung rolled his eyes. “You just come in after all the work’s done, that’s all. You’re the person who gets the cap off a drink after six people have loosened it up.”

“I’ll remember that next time you send me in first into a fucking army of sword swinging samurais."

Ignoring him for the time being, because that was one time, Taehyung turned back to the hybrid who was all eyes on him.

“I see you got some cuddle time in with Jimin. Did you have fun?”

“Mhm,” Jungkook said with a nod. “And we watched a documentary about the ocean. I got to learn a bunch of things about dolphins.”

“Yeah? What’s one of the things that you learned?”

Being able to express his new knowledge made the hybrid’s bunny teeth poke out. The boy never felt confident in himself, nor did he ever feel like he brought something new to the table. He just always felt like he was telling Taehyung something he already knew.

“They have an extra lung for when they go really deep in the water. One of their lungs give up, and that one pumps up to fix it.”

“Oh, really?” Taehyung asked. “Well, you can tell me all about the dolphins after you get some lunch, okay?”

“Okay. I am a little hungry.”

“Good,” he said and rubbed up the boy’s arm, redirecting to Jimin. “I’m assuming everything was clear?”

“No,” Jimin smarted with pinched eyes. “I just waited on you so you wouldn’t feel left out.”

“Don’t be a smartass.”

“Yes, the area is clear. No signs of any break-ins or recent activity that isn’t you or him. I think it was probably just someone rough housing downstairs or possibly Namjoon making a racket that vibrated all the way down here.”

“Good…” Taehyung said, but looked suspicious. Now he was on edge. “I’ll do another roundabout to make sure.”

“Since when do you not trust me?” Jimin asked, climbing off the bed, but stopped halfway when he found his own answer. “Since it involved the hybrid. Gettin’ a little protective over there, aye?”

Taehyung watched him cross over to the foot of the bed with his sleeves rolling over his hands. “It’s my job. I can’t very well keep him and give two shits about his safety, now can I?”

“Nope,” Jimin popped the p. “Not when he can’t take care of himself. Do another check. I would if it were my hybrid. Go on, I’ll watch the rabbit.”

Taehyung left the room to search the bathroom from top to bottom, while Jimin smoothed over those relaxed ears. It was nice to seem them when they weren’t stiff.

“He’s a worry wart, huh?” Jimin asked with jovial eyes.

Jungkook preened at the pets. “He is.”

“That’s Taehyung for you,” he said with a lingering gaze on his high strung friend.

He remembered all the nights Taehyung asked him the same thing— they didn’t mess with you today, did they? because the gangs in their neighborhood were becoming gruesome and brave, branching out further into the city, marking their territory and terrorizing good folk. And then it turned into they left your mom alone today, right? until it all came tumbling down at who did it, Jimin?

“Always taking care of things… and people, and anything he can get his hands on.” Jimin’s eyes went warm. “He’s a worry wart, but only because he can’t stand to lose anyone else.”

Chapter Text

April 17th

“Can I go with you?”

Taehyung clipped his gun holster, nearly missed it in a slip of stupor, and looked up at the hybrid who had his legs tucked underneath him and his ears dropped

“I’m sorry?”

“I want… I want to see what you do. Jimin said you do a lot during your morning rounds, he called it. And I always stay back here.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung said, eyebrows burrowing like the falling bravery in the hybrid’s body, “because you already get scared in here. I’m keeping you in here until you’re better acclimated and every little sound doesn’t set you off.”

“I won’t set off!” Jungkook argued, even if he didn’t know what that meant. He leant harder onto his knees, butt coming off the bed, palms buried in the sheets. “I’ll be good. I’ll stay with you.”

“Why do you want to go so bad?”

Taehyung’s hand sat securely on his firearm and even a week into being in this place—watching a gun be fondled and molested and treated like a familiar friend—Jungkook hadn’t gotten used to it. That weapon stayed at his hip, less than it did on Jimin, but rather prevalently.

If Taehyung wasn’t in his bedroom, his weapon came along, close to his hip specifically for the day that the enemy mustered up enough guts to break into the headquarters of the Vipers and jump in the middle of a hundred loaded weapons.

His trigger finger could handle any situation, but it needed it’s catalyst to do it.

“Because I’m yours… and I don’t want to be hidden away anymore. Not like I was.”

Part of him expected Taehyung to pop back at him, that his life was what Taehyung decided it to be, as he already did for every other man in this building, but none of the sort. Taehyung’s lip curved up in a proud grin and he cocked his head to the side.

“C’mon then. Put some socks on and I’ll show you the tedious and annoying morning routine that you don’t have to actually deal with, but for some reason choose to.”

“Tedious?” Jungkook asked, hopping off the bed to go to the drawer that Taehyung taught him, because he was always seeking something to pull over his heels.

“It means aggravatingly slow and something that should be easy but isn’t. It’s something you know you can do, but you really don’t want to.”

“But… Tae, isn’t that what being a leader means?”

“Getting the logistics of our mafia? Hell no. That’s not why I became a leader.”

“Then why?” he asked, ever so inquisitive, and brave, in Taehyung’s opinion.

“Wanna hold my hand or my arm?” was what Taehyung asked instead of answering, the same thing he did to Jimin when the boy picked into his brain.

Jungkook answered silently by curling his fingers around Taehyung’s elbow, pulsing them in little squeezes as the two headed for the bedroom door.

“Tae?”

“Yeah?”

“Why?”

The boy wasn’t planning on letting it go, and if that was anything for Taehyung to take into account, he had to wonder just how stubborn and hardheaded he’d be when he actually recovered and had a mind for himself.

“You don’t give up easily.”

“If I were someone who gave up, you would have been too late.”

Taehyung sucked in a hard breath, face opening up in a silent strike. You didn’t have to tell him that Jungkook wasn’t just a hand-me-down, but a survivor, but damn did telling him hit somewhere sensitive.

“Got me there. Way to make my heart crunch,” Taehyung grumbled, leading them into the hallway, focusing on the hand that seemed to anchor onto him. “I became who I am because I wanted to fight. Because I had a lot I wanted to fight about. I was angry, and I needed something to take it out on. So I chose to hurt people who hurt.”

“Does it work?”

“As much as it can. It works when I can actually use that outlet, but the down time feels a lot like the lights going out.”

“It gets dark?”

“Yeah. It gets dark,” Taehyung said. “I became a criminal because I was good at being a homewrecker and putting people down. I can bring an empire to its knees much quicker than anything else I can give this world. The gangs in Seoul… they needed someone to remind them they're expendable. So I did.”

The corridors weren’t as scary as the second day. Jungkook hadn’t seen them since then, but the sound of people talking and things bumping against things didn’t make his hair stand up. His ears ticked to the side to every voice and every bump, but his eyes just filled with what Taehyung couldn’t decide was curiosity or turbulence.

“So you don’t have a boss?”

“No,” Taehyung laughed, and those snake eyes of his thinned in amusement. “I’d kill him. Anyone tries to tell me what to do and the last they’ll hear is the entire city of Seoul laughing at them.”

At least he was honest. Jungkook expected it at this point. He should be more frightened of the man than he was, but he stuck to his original plan of watching and waiting for it to be aimed at him. It hadn’t been yet, so he bathed in the luxuries of his blind spot.

In his own little bubble, curled up in his room and having food brought in to him and all needs taken upon request, Jungkook often forgot the power his owner relished in.

He wasn’t in a house. His owner wasn’t a man who worked a nine to five behind a desk, took a bus ticket home, and loosened his tie at the door. He was a man who could single handedly wipe out the flush sewers of the underground mafias with the snap of a finger.

He was the X on everyone’s map, and he grinned like a mad man knowing it.

Maybe that was why Jungkook didn’t think about it much, let it slip his mind and fell head first into the man’s sweet smile—because some things were best left alone. If he sat on it too long, he may dwell on the inch that separated him and danger’s hands.

Jungkook was better prepared for all of the eyes that followed them in the main hub. The trip to the doctor’s gave him a taste of it. Now he was gorging, tail tucked up and ears twisting to the side.

Deciding who was more interested in his mythical appearance or Taehyung’s critical presence was like a game of rolling the dice, because the odds were everyone was crossing their eyes to double dip.

Even after all these years, Taehyung was still an intimidating force that made the air freeze, and Jungkook was the loudest talk of the Violets. Putting them together caused traffic.

“The first thing I do is just take it all in and do a general sweep over the main area, because that’s where everyone usually hangs. Sometimes literally,” Taehyung added, glancing down at Jungkook to catch his taken aback face. “I look for anyone laying out dying, any wounds to tell me something happened overnight, any fights. You can tell a lot by my men’s faces.”

“What are they saying now?”

“Well, besides looking like a bunch of gumdrop gobstopped idiots because you’re out and about,” he said almost bitterly, “they look good. No one died, and no one’s trying to do it as we speak. We didn’t have any attempted attacks or patrol would be waiting for me.”

“You can tell that just by their faces?”

“No blood. No red faces. They’re eating breakfast instead of drowning in alcohol. You’ll learn.” He tugged Jungkook towards the peak of the room, where the ground elevated in a two-step landing. “This is roll call. I don’t have the time to call out names and wait for hands, so they come in every morning before nine and sign their name. If the number changes from one day to the next, I know I’m missing someone.”

“And then what?”

“And then I ask Jimin to investigate. He finds out if someone just left, or if they’re in a ditch somewhere. We won’t stop anyone from leaving. I don’t need anyone bad enough to do that. But, that doesn’t mean they can leave.”

“You can’t?”

“No. They know too much. Our location, the blueprints of the inside, the landscape of the outside. Our plans. Our residents. It’s too dangerous for them to sneak off in the middle of the night and leak it to people trying to get my head on a stick.”

“What happens if they leave?” Jungkook asked, peering down at the list of names scrawled into paper. Some were neat, others were chicken scratch.

“Don’t ask that question,” he evaded simply, thumbing at the page, pointing at the number in the right corner. “Jimin counted the same number as yesterday. No one’s missing.”

“But…” Jungkook mumbled, losing his footing when his question was bypassed so smoothly, until his hybrid DNA poked its ugly head out and decided his new priority. “Does that mean Jimin’s around?”

“He could be. After he counts roll call, he’s free to do whatever he wants. Sometimes he’s up in the intelligence zone with Namjoon, or he’s keeping watch on the parameter. I’ve seen him garden a couple times,” Taehyung said with a shrug. “He likes to stay out here and talk to the guys, see how everything’s going and if they need anything. He’ll report to me if they do. You could say he likes to keep tabs on everything.”

“Woah,” Jungkook said with a round mouth. “He does a lot.”

“He likes to keep busy… keep his head clear,” Taehyung said with a soft tongue, like it was something he’d thought a lot on, and then smiled. “Ready for the next part of the fun?”

“Yeah!”

Taehyung chuckled. “You’re too excited for something so dreary. Give me some of that before you overflow with it.”

“I didn’t get to walk around, or see all the things that happen in a place like this. I didn’t get to see the people,” Jungkook reminded him, leaning closer to him, pointing at the ceiling with fantastic eyes. “Like that.”

“The chandelier?” Taehyung blinked up at it, then at the finger that desperately got its point across. “You’ve never seen one?” He stopped—being stupid. “That’s right. The Opalites were living in rocks. Yeah, that’s a chandelier.”

“Chandelier…” he sounded out, and really liked the word and the way it felt in his mouth. “That’s a big one.”

“Keep it in your head. Don’t forget it. I’ll ask you again tonight, so don’t fail your test, little one,” Taehyung said. “Next thing I always check is supplies. Armory, food, cleaning shit. What these people need to live somewhat normal lives.”

“It’s like a big hotel.”

“That is a magnificent parallel. A hotel for the massively criminally inclined minds.”

“But a good hotel. They wouldn’t have anywhere else to go if it wasn‘t here.”

“Yeah. I know…” Taehyung drifted, because he never did like talking about himself in any way that wasn’t slightly incriminating or self-destructive. “But we don’t make anyone fund their own here. They kill for me. They do what I ask. That’s the trade off. I’m not about to ask for three dollars to wash their clothes knowing I might send them out tomorrow to risk their lives.”

“Tae takes care of everyone.”

Taehyung had noticed that. The third person. It came and went, sometimes just once, rarely more than twice in a sentence. Then he snapped back into frame and acted like nothing ever happened.

Lacking in mental or social nourishment, Hoseok had warned him behind the scenes that he may do or say things considered inappropriate or out of place. The kid wasn’t masturbating in public or taking off his clothes if approached, so Taehyung counted his blessings and hung them up from the ceiling.

“I try to. What I can. Jimin’s better at it than I am. I just give my card number to the right people and tell them to order whatever the hell they need to.” Taehyung took him down one hallway, then another, but not a series like the travel to his room. “I have a man who keeps an eye on inventory. I don’t really have to keep in contact with him, but I run my shit, so I like to know what’s going on.”

They came to a room with the door removed to give it a brisk opening, giving the violet walls room to breathe before they suffocated the entire place.

A man sat behind the desk, pen tapping on a sheet of paper that was surrounded by hundreds of others.

“Seokjin.”

He looked up quick, full cheeks puffing up when he frowned at the interruption of peace. He had lips that were princesses compared to Jimin’s queens, and hot eyes.

Said man didn’t seem like the type to trust with the inventory numbers, seeing as how his desk was littered with paper. But Taehyung had a reason for everything, and Jungkook chose to believe that.

“You mind knocking before you come in spitting out my name like that?”

“There’s no door.”

“There’s a wall, isn’t there?” Seokjin hissed back with a twitching eyebrow, but quickly plummeted when his eyes fell downward. Face lax and body turning to melted wax, Seokjin went jackjawed. “Oh. Hi there. Sorry for being so rude. It’s nice to meet you…?” he dragged out, looking for a name.

“Jungkook. Seokjin, this Jungkook. I’m sure you’ve heard of him by now.”

“I have.”

“He’s tagging along for my morning rounds. Now that you’ve shown him how ungrateful my staff is, mind telling me how everything’s looking?”

“Oh, don’t you even start acting like you’re an angel. Like you’ve never snuck in here and scared the life out of me or stolen a vital piece of my inventory and swore you’d seen it in the trash until I had a meltdown.”

“That’s what you get for sleeping on the job.”

“Don’t let him fool you, Jungkook,” Seokjin fussed, looking him dead in the eye, fully aware of the little thing easing behind Taehyung. “He’s a menace and he deserves everything that comes his way.”

“Seokjin.”

“I mean it. You let me know if he’s an animal, Jungkook. I’ll straighten him up real quick.”

Seokjin.”

“Yes, your majesty,” he said haughtily and clacked some of his papers together. “Everything looks great. I’m ordering a couple things today but everything’s on track.”

“And how’s the new guy doing on bills?”

“As far as I know, good. The lights are still on, aren’t they?”

“And I’m ready to leave. Already. Would you look at that,” Taehyung sighed, subtly leading Jungkook back towards the door.

It surprised Jungkook how different Taehyung acted with others. When Jimin acted this way with him, he split his face in a grin and fought back just as hard, threatening his life and falling into a beautiful routine of hard comebacks. But with Seokjin, he held back. He kept professional, still familiar, but kept his intimidation on lock.

He didn’t come on as strong with his other Violets, and Jungkook was still trying to wrap his head around the why.

“You never do stay for long.”

“Because you’re insufferable.”

“Oh, I am not,” Seokjin pouted.

“We’ll try again tomorrow, Seokjin.”

“And the next day and the next day! See ya, boss. Take it easy,” Seokjin said to him in a more chipper tone. “And bye-bye, Jungkook. Keep him in line, okay?”

Not knowing what else to do, Jungkook just nodded and held onto him tight. Scurrying to stay with Taehyung.

“Take it easy,” Taehyung said when they got away from the inventory room. “Don’t hold your breath like that. No one here is any kind of dangerous. There’s some blunt personalities, but there’s a reason for everyone.”

“What happened with Seokjin?”

“His is a little odd for us. Seokjin kept inventory at a bank, but he snuck too much in his pocket to keep it out of the big brother’s eyes. He’s running right now, but I agreed to keep him in hiding if he took care of inventory.”

“How long has he been here?”

“Going on three years, I think. I lose count when I’ve got so many long-termers.”

“So does he hurt people too?”

“No. Not everyone here gets their hands dirty. Some prefer their brains to, like Namjoon and Seokjin. If Namjoon weren’t in his hole so often, you’d get to see him more like you have Jimin,” Taehyung busted the man out. “But we’re going to the next stop, and that’s where another one of my men who’s been here for a long time is.”

“How long?”

“Four years. I wouldn’t let anyone else take care of the armory but him. If he gets sick, you can bet your ass either me or Jimin will be keeping watch instead.”

“Four?” Jungkook said in awe. “Hands or brain?”

“Both. I’ve used him in the field before when things got bad. But he likes to keep here, clean the guns and mark who’s taken them and returned them. He doesn’t like killing, but unfortunately, the both of us know he’s good at it.”

“How’d he get here?”

“Military. He went in young, as young as he could, but he wanted too much from it. He didn’t like the plans his commander gave him, and he went out on his own and took the enemy out without permission. Treason by the state. The government would do anything to get their hands on him.”

“Treason?”

“He disobeyed the government. The worst thing you can do in this world. He’d have a lesser sentence if he committed mass genocide.”

Jungkook didn’t ask what genocide meant. He’d jog his own memory before he asked for yet another today. His test was going to be too long tonight if he kept opening his mouth.

“He sounds scary. Seokjin wasn’t scary.”

“If I told you Jimin’s story, you’d think the same about him,” Taehyung said, catching his interest. But all Jungkook could think was—what about yours? “He sounds scary, yeah, but he’s tired. I get it after all the shit he’s told me he had to do under the government. Reality is, he’d rather babysit you and read you a bedtime story than fire another gun.”

“I don’t know if I want him to read me a story,” he mumbled apprehensively.

“I don’t know about that. He can be a real softie. You just gotta look past all the rough edges, like you did with me.”

The twisting hallways became blurry after so long. All the doors, all the upper stairways that crossed over their heads. Taehyung told him it was the countless bedrooms they’d built with the place to accommodate current and new recruitments.

“You can’t take people if you don’t have the room. The place is big, yes, but most of it’s just rooms that aren’t the size of closets because my men aren’t rats or dust mites.”

Because he’d seen the shape of other headquarters after blowing it to smithereens. He’d seen the twin beds and the narrow rooms. The low hanging ceilings and the moldy walls. No way in hell would he ever subject his men to the living space of a lab rat.

The twisting came to an end at a highly lit room, brighter than Seokjin’s warm yellow. It pricked at the eyes at first, until they adjusted the same as they would to the dark. Jungkook held an arm over his eyes and trusted Taehyung to lead him in without banging his head on the doorframe.

“Well, look who’s paying me a visit.”

It was a gruff voice. Deep, but not fathomless. It rolled off the tongue quite nicely. Jungkook lowered his arm and battered his eyelashes, meeting eyes with the stranger.

He had a lithe frame, not what Jungkook expected for a military grade man with a low voice. His black hair fluffed over his face and his teeth played over his lip in a smooth smile. Foot up on the desk, he had a small firearm propped on his knee with a clothe two knuckles deep.

“I always do. Don’t act like I don’t impede your clearly distinct need to be alone all the time.”

“Oh, I’m not talking to you. You always bother me. I’m talking to you,” the man said, blatantly staring at the wide eyes that couldn’t break from his. “I’ve known you’ve been here for days now. I just didn’t know when you’d grace this hellhole with yourself.”

“I… um….”

“Jungkook,” Taehyung said softly, “this is Yoongi.”

“Jungkook?” the man named Yoongi asked, his smile getting bigger. “Huh. I thought Jimin was fucking with me. I haven’t heard that name in so long. It died when I was a teenager. Never understood why. It’s such a pretty name.”

The hybrid blinked through his blush like he could cool it down and pulled the same self-saving maneuver he always did, taking a step closer to Taehyung’s back.

“Thank you,” he murmured.

“You’re welcome. I’m glad you’ve come to see me. I was waiting on it.” He turned back to Taehyung and his eyes were somewhat fond. “You been hiding him away?”

“You could say that. He needed time to figure himself out. It was actually him who asked to come out today.”

“Oh, really?” Yoongi asked, and dropped his leg from the table, clicking his chair back to the floor. Setting the gun in his lap, he asked, “It’s not so scary, is it?”

“No,” Jungkook said meekly. “Everyone’s been very nice so far. I’m happy that they like me.”

“Well, of course they like you. Only a monster wouldn’t consider a hybrid a bundle of joy. You’re the last hope for humanity, if you ask me.” Yoongi dropped his firearm on the table, whipping his cloth in the air. “And don’t ever let anyone tell him different,” Yoongi said, looking at Taehyung through his eyelashes.

“You won’t catch me doing that, just my hands around their throat. How’s gun stock?”

“Perfect. Numbers are on. Last night’s patrol brought in all guns this morning, and today’s took theirs with their shift a few hours ago.”

“Need any replacements?”

“Nah,” Yoongi said, scanning the room as he spoke, eyes hitching over the firearms hung on the wall and placed neatly in the bins. “A couple starting to age, but I can spiff them up enough for the next few months. They’ll work like brand new. I’ll let you know when they don’t.”

“Jimin told me he heard someone griping about their gun having some gun powder lodged,” Taehyung said with a hand on his gun holster.

“Yeah, I know. He told me too, gave me a name. Took the guy by his mouth and told him to lick it up next time."

And that was that, because Taehyung had his top men, and those men climbed their way up. He didn’t doubt them. Didn’t question them. Just kept a careful eye on them and watched them shine.


“You look like a future trouble maker to me. But don’t be any trouble for Taehyung. Just come back to me instead and we’ll have some fun,” Yoongi had said.

They left the armory with a new found acceptance in Jungkook’s heart. He’d met two new people today, two people who Taehyung considered important and crucial to their team, and both of them treated him as just another member. Maybe a little more gentle, but his point still stood.

They got back to the main hub when Taehyung explained that the last step to his morning rounds would be speaking to the current patrol team about any findings from the night patrol team.

“We’re gonna go outside and—”

Taehyung’s words suddenly didn’t matter because Jungkook gasped loud enough to cut him off, hand taking his elbow by a death grip. He’d seen Jimin, and that meant all hell was about to break loose.

Jimin stayed late last night. He stayed to brush Jungkook’s hair while he told Taehyung all about the new facts he learned from the documentary. Jimin giggled at everything he said, prompted him to speak with encouraging words trapped in an encouraging smile, and touched Jungkook with the tenderness of a mother.

Long story short, Jungkook fell hard for Jimin, and while Taehyung saw it coming from day one, he still wasn’t prepared for his best friend and his new hybrid to be inseparable.

“Jimin!” Jungkook proclaimed, ears going as high as the clouds, bouncing on his heels.

It was loud enough for Jimin to hear, and everyone else around them, because not only did Jimin look their way, but so did every other damn eye. This would be a good time for Taehyung to remind Jungkook that he preferred not to be high-profiled.

Jimin broke out in a smile, like the hybrid was the first sign of the sun all morning, and let go of his gun holster to hold his arms out and start walking towards them.

“Is that my bunny?” Jimin exclaimed, and fell into a laugh when Jungkook nearly broke free from Taehyung to hurry towards him.

They were just a few feet away from each other, Taehyung accepting this miserable case of a dramatic meeting with a full heart, when he heard something by his ear. It moved like the wind, in and out, but he heard it.

“Both of them fuckin’ him now?” a scrawny man grumbled underneath his breath, coffee in one hand and scowl on his face, hunched over the bar table that others scattered about at.

Kim Taehyung was a man of fire. Fire that warped metal and burnt bone to ash. Furious flames that cradled his heart to make a hell of a soulless one and licked up his throat to form molten words. Fire was unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Fire was combustible.

He exploded like a match set on gasoline, tore his arm out of Jungkook’s hold, slinging the boy with him simply by doing what fire does—drag its surroundings to the ground. He matched the face with the voice, dug his fingers into unkept hair, and slammed the man’s face into the table just as fast as fire smolders.

Jimin lunged with one step and wrapped Jungkook in another, turning him away, twisting them on his heel until he could drag the boy to safety. White ears tucked into his chest and all Jungkook could do was watch.

Taehyung lifted his head like smoke rises and smashed it again, looming over him, blooming in the silence of a room witnessing their timebomb blow.

“I oughta cut your tongue out for that,” Taehyung seethed, talking over the man who somehow thought it was a good idea to ask him what the big deal was. “Fucking forget you ever said that, because I’ll never let you speak it again, but you’ll apologize right now or I’ll crush your nose into the back of your brain.”

The man wormed against the table, blood smearing over his cheeks, and Jimin kept his breathing in control just for the sensitive ears pressed into his chest that could hear the speed of his heart.

“I said apologize. I’m not your fucking fairy or your landlord. I’m your Goddamn leader who’s never turned down the chance to kill if it teaches a lesson,” Taehyung growled, and his gun rattled in his holster when he grabbed it. “Let me make this very clear.” He rose his voice, and his head. “I will not hear a word about my hybrid if any Violet has survival instincts. Because if I do hear it, I will not hesitate to put it to an end with a bullet in the head. Hear me now and hear me well before I start a massacre.”

A few utters of understanding crossed through the room, but every last head up and downed with diligence. But the man beneath him said not a word, and so Taehyung didn’t turn down the chance.

Metal blistered when Taehyung whipped his gun to the back of the man’s head, pushed him down with a flat hand, and blinked slow with clarity.

“There is no room for pride here. It will only get you killed.”

Jimin covered Jungkook’s ears, and the room rang. Scarlet stained violet and marble floors. One less breath filled the room. Jungkook cried out into Jimin’s chest, and blood painted the shirt that Jungkook picked out for his owner this morning.

Taehyung hung his gun until his muscles got over the shock of the kickback and holstered it. Showing no weakness before his men, already considering the possible ramifications of showing his true nature to Jungkook, Taehyung stood tall and motioned at the man who was sliding to the floor.

“Hold your tongue if you want to keep it. You’ll go against us before you speak a dirty word on him. Lesson taught.”

Jimin swallowed down at Jungkook, cradling his shaking body against him, and tilted his head towards the body, “Get him. Dispose of him.” He was talking to the first Violet he could lay eyes on, and the random nobody almost tripped when given an order by the assassin.

Taehyung walked back from the body to let his men clean up his mess. Usually he didn’t leave it up to them, but he had other things to tend to. More important, shivering, droopy-eared things.

The eyes staring back at him weren’t disappointed, but he knew when Jimin preferred different results from him, and today was one of those times. He could hear him in his head saying you could have taken him somewhere private. It was logical and made sense and all the things that Jimin thought of instead of him.

“Guess I’ll change the roll call,” Jimin sighed.

Taehyung snorted weakly. “Guess you should. We’re down by one less idiot.” He smoothed a hand down the back of Jungkook’s head and ducked down, looking for his face. “Hey, baby.”

“Tae,” he said under his breath, and transferred himself over. Jimin let him go willingly.

Taehyung took him into his arms, kissing into his hair, breathing in his shampoo to unclog his head of murderous thoughts. His blood was still rushing and his hands had that post-kill tremor he never grew out of.

“I’m sorry that had to happen in front of you. I had to take care of it right then and there so that it wouldn’t ever happen again.”

“Is he…?”

“Yeah. He is,” he answered simply, keeping the gruesome details to himself. “But don’t worry about any of that. Are you okay?”

“I’m okay. I didn’t see it. Jimin didn’t let me.”

“Good. I’ll have to thank Jimin for that,” he said, glancing up at the annoyed frown he got for that one, because they both knew damn well he wasn’t planning on it.

“What… what did he say to make you mad?”

“You don’t need to know that, Jungkook. Nothing good comes from it. You should just know it wasn’t good and no one says bad things to you, okay?” Taehyung took his cheeks in his palms. “Always remember that. You tell me if they do and I’ll take care of it.”

The hybrid nodded in his hands, ears coming back from the dead, keeping his eyes off the blood that he knew splattered all over the floor.

“No one says bad things to me.”

“No one.” He kissed his forehead, drawing his focus from what happened to the seal of his lips. “Jimin will you check with patrol for me? He’s had enough of the outside world for today. He needs to get back to his room.”

“Not a problem. I think that’s the only smart thought you’ve had all morning,” Jimin agreed, and gave Jungkook a massage into his shoulder. “I’m gonna go talk to them, then. I’ll swing by and come see you in a couple hours to make up for this. I won’t be long.”

Jungkook’s near glistening eyes had dried up, much to the relief of the two grown men gritting their teeth and their fingers just waiting for him to burst into tears. He took the trade, got a hug that wasn’t purposed to protect him from an execution, and let Taehyung take him back to the room.

Namjoon sat at the bottom of the stairs, falling asleep with his chin in his hands, glasses crooked on his nose.

“Wake up before you fall down and I have to do a homecall with Hoseok.”

The brains of the operation blinked awake, just a couple snores from actually falling asleep. He sat up straight, cracking his sore back after hours of looking over blueprints, and winced until he fixed his glasses.

“What was that gun shot?” was all he asked.

Taehyung already knew he’d be there when they returned. The man never left his solitude. He infiltrated Jimin’s room when the assassin refused to meet him halfway, and he knocked at Taehyung’s door when he needed answers on a mission he was planning.

He’d never given them any other reason for his strange behavior but that it was safe. Danger mortified him. It struck him to the core. He froze, and years ago, when they were smaller and not so hidden and another gang had found them, it cost Taehyung the feeling in his thigh for half a year.

What was I supposed to do? he’d asked Namjoon later that night when the man lost his breath crying. Watch you die before you could ever utter my name?

In his own lair, and in the rooms of those he trusted the most, Namjoon was separated from the streets and the warfields and the deafening gun shots.

The two had become his life, but they didn’t mind. They were okay with bringing him food three times a day. They were okay with taking a trip to his room at three in the morning to guide him to bed because he’d fallen asleep for the fourth time while studying.

They were okay with it all, because the three men who broke into Namjoon’s house at three AM and shot his mother and stole his little brother were the same three men who disappeared overnight before Taehyung implemented roll call.

They ruined Namjoon's life, so they slowly sewed it back together. Gun shots still made his head lock up, and his eyes glazed over in memories better left buried, but he’d found his way into Taehyung’s room at a late hour enough times to fix the bridge that Taehyung helped burned.

Jimin, well, Jimin didn’t have a lot to prove, but he’d never turn away a broken soul that needed mending. It always ended up being him who wrapped Namjoon up in a blanket and quietly cussed him out for exhausting himself, and was the first to bring him toast in the afternoon.

“Everything’s okay. Someone stepped out of line. That’s all.”

“Oh,” Namjoon said, shoulders dropping in relief. “Thank God. I figured after just one… but…”

“It’s all good, Namjoon. Nothing to worry that big head about. Sorry if I woke you up.”

“You did, but I can’t be mad, because I needed to get back to work.”

“What are you working on so much lately?” Taehyung asked, smoothing his hand up and down Jungkook’s back. “This is the fourth night you’ve gone down with the moon.”

“It’s a radar. I think it could cover the entire base territory if I fiddle with it enough. I just need some more time. It could show us bodies with heat sensing technology. You could take it with you to raids too.”

“Damn. Big plans over there.”

“You…” Jungkook started shyly, and Namjoon looked at him in surprise. The last time they were in the same room, Jungkook was walking like a newborn fawn. “You make things?”

“Yeah,” he said with an easy smile. “Sometimes. I map out our plans. I look for loopholes and possible mess ups for our missions. And on the side, I invent things. Try to, at least.”

Exhaustion sat on his voice. The day they met was in between projects, the only time he ever got enough sleep to setback the bags under his eyes right before he gained them all back in one night’s time.

“Like an evil scientist?” Jungkook asked in wonder. He was coming out of his shell right before their eyes, all due to his natural affinity for curiosity.

Namjoon chuckled. “Maybe not evil. Sometimes I have the hair to play the part, but not the nerve. Scientist works though.”

“So a…”

“Friendly scientist,” Namjoon said, fitting his fingers together in his lap. “But I’d rather you call me Joon. How’s that?”

“Joon. I like Joon.”

“Good. You can keep it, then. Just bring it back to me when you see me again.” It made Jungkook giggle and his eyes wane to crescent moons. “I guess I’ll go back and keep working since the place isn’t falling apart.”

“Think about some sleep while you’re at it, buddy,” Taehyung gently pushed, nothing but bare genuity. “You won’t get much done if you can’t think clearly.”

“I’ve done it on less sleep.”

“Doesn’t mean you should.”

“Oh, don’t lecture me,” Namjoon disputed with a little smile, dragging himself up. “Maybe one of these days I’ll show you all the trinkets I have up there, Jungkook.”

“Really?” Jungkook asked.

“Why not? You’d like all the blinking lights. There’s a lot of ‘em up there. Just let me know, yeah?”

“Can I… can I come tomorrow?” he asked in that small voice he dipped into when things got grey and his boundaries were pushed.

The other two men locked eyes in interest. Neither were surprised at this point, but didn’t see that one coming. A hybrid who’d been hidden away for years absorbed by the concept of technology. Maybe Taehyung had an intellect on his hands.

Jungkook looked up at the silver haired terror for permission.

“It’s up to Namjoon,” Taehyung said.

Namjoon didn’t let many people linger in his area. It masked him from the world. It possessed every little thing he worked tireless, mind bending nights on. The nights that broke him often spit out the greatest creations, and those were planted in the intelligence zone. It was what kept him separated from the gunshots.

Jimin and Taehyung were allowed, but not for long. Not long enough for the blood that stained their skin to evaporate into the air and touch him.

But hell, for the kid humanity shredded, for the kid who knew what it felt like to be pierced by a bullet that didn’t hit him, Namjoon could let another in, just as he had before.

"Why not? I'll take you off Taehyung's hands for a little bit. Maybe show you a thing or two. But if he comes back electrocuted, it's not on me."

Jungkook looked nervous, but Taehyung just pushed him along towards the door. "He's kidding, little one," he said, eyeing up Namjoon eerily. "I think."

Chapter Text

April 18th

“Are you nervous?” Taehyung asked, gathering the coat he prepared for Jungkook even though he already had a black sweater on.

His baby was going somewhere without him. Of course he was over-preparing and over-fretting, thinking maybe Jungkook would get cold up there. He even considered grabbing snacks, but he knew Namjoon had his own stash.

“A little bit,” Jungkook murmured.

“Are you sure you’re okay with doing this?” he asked. “You don’t have to. You can see the blinking lights in a couple weeks when you’ve settled. They aren’t going anywhere.”

Taehyung was being endearing, and Jungkook loved it. He must admit, he hadn’t expected himself to adjust as well as he had either. The life he knew turned him into the dust bunny under the couch, not a primed one treated like royalty.

But something about being surrounded by affection changed everything for him. He hadn’t had a proper owner before, and never got the chance to delve deep into his biological instincts that him a hybrid.

Until Taehyung.

The second he met Taehyung, even as fearful as he was, even as crumbled as his spirit was, he’d felt the kindness just from his voice. Taehyung gave him something he hadn’t had in years, and his internal cravings crashed into him.

He found out first hand that his body could recognize a good owner, and when it did, it jumped in head first. All walls lowered, all inhibitions released, all hesitation thrown out. It plunged into that owner and gave them all that it had to offer.

For Jungkook, that was Taehyung, and he was learning how to hand himself over and take in someone else.

Hybrids took a loving environment like hermit crabs did their new shells—they fit in snug, and let it engulf them.

Knowing he was in safe hands, knowing everyone around him wouldn’t dare harm the Viper’s baby, Jungkook’s blood was rushing to find more and more affection until he was full of it.

Taehyung was his one true owner. The first man to dig him out of the rubble. But if Jimin and Namjoon wanted to wiggle their way in, he'd welcome them with open arms.

The more the better, if you ever asked a healthy, happy hybrid. Just never ask Jungkook from a week ago or maybe you’d get a different answer.

“I wanna go… I do,” Jungkook said, eyeing up Taehyung’s hand for what they both knew he wanted. “But just as long as you’re away. I don’t want to be gone long.”

“Oh, no, I won’t be able to keep you up there if I’m not running around being busy. I’m gonna need you with me,” Taehyung almost grumbled. He was getting pouty and Jungkook could hear it loud and clear.

“Are you… okay with me going to see Joon?”

“What?” Taehyung asked, holding his hand out. “Of course I am. I just… it’s not easy handing you over, you know. You’ve been with me this whole time.”

Jungkook took his hand with a growing smile, chest buzzing at the horribly hidden possessiveness. Whether it was jealousy or failure to accept anyone else’s ability to take care of him, Taehyung was feeling something.

“I’m not Joon’s,” he reminded him. “I’m yours. I’ll be okay just until you get back.”

“I know you’re not his,” he said, annoyed just thinking of that man trying to own a living creature. A fish would die in his care. “God, no, I wouldn’t let him have you for more than a couple hours.”

“Is he not a good owner?”

“He’d fall asleep before he fed you. He might also let you walk right into whatever time traveling gadgets he has in there because he’s too preoccupied staring at the same blueprint for two hours.”

“Oh…” Jungkook mumbled. “Maybe come get me soon.”

“I won’t be long. Just the normal stuff I did yesterday. Remember?”

“I remember. But what if something else happens?”

“Then you’ll stay with Namjoon for a little longer,” Taehyung said, leading them out of their room, checking towards Jimin’s room by habit. “Or you can just come with me. Always an option.”

“I don’t want to disappoint Joon,” he mumbled, drumming his fingertips over Taehyung’s knuckles. “I told him I’d go. I’m okay, Tae.”

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do ever. No one will be disappointed in you.”

“Tae.”

“I mean it. And not just for now. Not just when you make plans to get to know someone. I mean for anything. We don’t put feelings first here. Hurt feelings don’t happen,” Taehyung said to him, taking the few steps to the end of the stairway. “You take care of yourself first. It’s almost a rule. Nevermind. It is one. I just made it.”

“I don’t take care of myself first, Tae. I’m a hybrid. We don’t do that,” Jungkook said softly. “Can I say something?”

They were at the foot of the stairs, not going forward for some reason. An invisible barrier kept them out, or chains naked to the eye pulled them back. The walkway was silent, and they couldn’t take their eyes off of their rising chests.

“I’d like you to.”

“I think you’re the one who’s nervous.”

Taehyung laughed through his nose. Feelings still made zero sense to him—and difference—but they sure did entertain him.

“Might be. Maybe it’s easier to bust into an unknown territory with a hundred guns cocking at me than it is to drop you off somewhere,” Taehyung admitted. “But before I bring you up there, Jungkook, I have to tell you something.” He brought the boy’s hand to his mouth, the back of it, and just barely brushed his lips across it. “I’m bad at compliments, because I’m just too used to always expecting better from my men, but when it comes to you, I am… stupidly proud of how well you’ve acclimated in the last week.”

Jungkook’s feet shuffled alongside the blush creeping up his neck, blinking down at the floor.

“Thank you. I want to be good. I’ve always tried to be, but no one ever lets me be.”

“You’re not just good. You’re more resilient than any man I’ve ever lead into the face of death.” He squeezed that hand with as little might as he could manage. “I can’t wait to see you in just a month.”

The hybrid leaned a little closer, just a little bit, until his ears drooped near Taehyung’s neck.

“I hope you’ll see me in a year too.”

“As many years as I’m still alive. I don’t plan on letting this city take me any time soon, so we’ll count on that year,” Taehyung said, and finally broke that barrier holding them back, stepping on the first step. “C’mon. We need to make sure Namjoon is even awake.”

“It is really early…”

“Don’t wanna hear it. You could have kept sleeping.”

Jungkook giggled. “But you were awake.”

“And if I go killing people, do you do that too?”

“No,” he said rather quickly, taking it all back.

“Exactly. Don’t do as I do, little one, or we’ll have a problem on our hands.”

The stairway was a straight shot, until it came to a hard left, where an oak door sat menacingly—that’s what Jungkook would call it if he could recall the word. It was a lonely thing in a tight space. The doorknob turned easily, and the hinges were well oiled. The hallway behind it was well lit in a warm glow.

“Welcome to the intelligence zone,” Taehyung said.

Jungkook looked all around them, falling upon the many doors that lined the hallway and followed the sides of the clearing in the close distance. An immediate room to the right, two towards the end, and one further down on the left.

“This is where all the inside jobs are created. Inner intel begins and stays here until missions are complete. We make all decisions up here. Who we target next, any issues that have been reported back to us, intel on the gangs that we have a close watch on or have deals with. The ones we’re weary of and the ones we keep alive,” he said. “This is the planning room.”

Pointing to the room on the right, Taehyung led him in the doorway. In the middle of the room was a long, black table with eight chairs positioned at it. Papers were spread out over the table, the ones left behind from the Opalites raid.

“This is where we plan our missions from start to finish. The objective, the blueprints of the infrastructure. We devise the plan, smooth out all the wrinkles, and set up the getaway. A lot of hours are hanging in this room.”

“Big things in this room,” Jungkook said.

“Yup. A lot of historical raids were planned right here in this room. The gang that ruled Seoul years ago, the one that I took down to put me on top… their doom was picked apart piece by piece for three months in here.”

“Three months?”

“I try to get as little people killed as I can,” he said, taking one last look at the room. “That can mean no sleep. Arguments. Empty ideas for weeks. Ideas falling through left and right. It’s all part of the process.”

“A lot of time.”

“A lot of time,” Taehyung agreed. He showed Jungkook the right room on the far end. “This room is where we keep all of our printed information. We can’t keep everything digital in case of a surge or a hacking. We need backups. Plus, it’s a whole lot easier to hover over a map than it is a screen.”

Folders upon folders. Jungkook had seen this in a crime show scene before, where they kept classified evidence. Except, these files had names printed on the end. Mafia names. Some were thick, some had a #2 next to the name, and others were as thin as the paper inside.

“We have the info on every gang in Seoul and a majority of outsiders in the rest of South Korea. The big guys. The ones that might cause me some trouble.”

“You know all of these?”

“Not personally, but they damn sure know me,” Taehyung said brashly. “Some are dead. Others are under my rule. All the thin ones, those are small fry who I haven’t had to step in to intervene yet. Just drugs on the street or pimping out prostitutes. Scum, but not dangerous.”

“So many of them,” Jungkook said. “The big ones…?”

“Depends. The Luciants were eradicated six months ago, but I investigated them for nearly eight. On the other hand, the Verts are thriving, but not without my permission. Every day they’re alive, they pay their breath to me.”

“Tae is so…”

“Scary?”

“No. Powerful.”

“Ah,” Taehyung sighed. “That one too. Don’t worry about this room over here. It’s no fun. Just some equipment overflow. This room, though,” he said, guiding them to the door on the left. “This is the magic show.”

The door didn’t lead to a room. It led to a laboratory of mythical proportions.

A small set of stairs dropped into a grand room in blue, little and large lights of all shapes and sizes warping the room in a sapphire hugh. Lacking in windows, visibility relied on the technology and the hanging lightbulbs scattered throughout the room.

Blackout curtains covered the windows to hide the time of day from Namjoon. He didn’t need to be reminded why he was so exhausted.

Giant machinery made to cut and shape metal, to print out three dimensional creations, all the way to miniscule gimmicks.

Some devices beeped in high pitches, many whirred in power, coding echoed through the room in a series of monotoned signals.

Monitor screens surrounded the room. Several laptops, a spread of desktops, high powered computers along the walls underneath desks. Any and all desks had some sort of contraption lying on them, whole or unscrewed and pulled apart for tinkering.

Green plants surviving in fluorescent lights dipped green down the walls, a specific liking in vinery detailing the room. They survived in the same way their caretaker did—just barely, hanging by a thread.

The lair of a mad scientist. The only thing it was missing was open electricity flowing from one antenna to the next and a maniacal cackle.

“Here’s Namjoon’s workplace. And bedroom. And bathroom…” Taehyung said, wincing. “He never really leaves. Workaholic, insomniac, caffeine addict, perfectionist. That’s Namjoon.”

If you would’ve told Taehyung that Jungkook would look this much in awe, he would’ve brought the boy earlier. But a hybrid stuffed away behind dusty containers for five years hadn’t seen such high technology like this, and embarrassingly had no idea it even existed.

“Big,” was all he said, and, “The lights…”

“Hey, lugnut!” Taehyung suddenly shouted, making the hybrid jump. “I know you have better manners than to leave your guests hanging.”

“Oh, Taehyung, I—oh, h—hang on!” a voice yelled from somewhere distant, dropping and jumping up like he was crawling out from somewhere. A bang came from the right, a grunt of pain, and the two glanced at each other. “Coming, coming, sorry!”

Namjoon came from behind one of the taller machines, fixing his glasses over his nose, hair tousled and a little device in his hand.

Taehyung hitched an eyebrow. “You good?”

“Peachy. Perfect. Sorry, I dropped a piece of the radar and finding a screw is like looking for an eye contact. You just don’t find it.”

“You didn’t find it?”

“Of course not. I hold funerals the second a screw touches these floors,” Namjoon said, hands on his hips and a smile on his lips. “Welcome to my playground, Jungkook. I hope it isn’t too loud.”

“No… not at all,” he said quietly. “It’s very pretty. Like fireflies.”

“Fireflies,” Namjoon considered, looking over the laboratory that he often thought of as a pain in the ass, grime and oil infested time sucker. To the boy, it was a night sky. “Okay. I like that. We’ll go with that.”

“He does that,” Taehyung added like their way of thinking was grim. Like they didn’t already know. “He makes things sound nicer than they are. Makes me feel like a lost cause.”

“You’re telling me,” Namjoon mumbled. “Are you off for your morning rounds?”

“Yeah. I’m going to come back and get him when I’m done. You’re cool with keeping him that long?”

“Are you kidding me?” he asked in offense. “I’ve been staring at this radar ever since I finished planning the Opalites’ raid. I could use some hybrid company right about now.”

“Well, he’s good at that.” Taehyung started leading Jungkook down the stairs. “He can take anything off your mind, because you don’t have a choice in the matter if I’m handing him over to you.” Namjoon raised his eyebrows. “Because you’re going to give him your undivided attention, your eyes will be on him at all times, or else.”

“Or else?”

Taehyung shoved the coat against Namjoon’s chest, who scurried to hold it against his chest, but he didn’t have to when Taehyung had it pinned with a hard fist.

“Or else I’ll remind you who’s hybrid this is. Put this coat on him if he gets cold, got it? He stays warm. He’s already had breakfast, but if he gets hungry, take him to me. If something happens, take him to me. If he asks for me, take him to me.”

“I see a pattern here.”

Taehyung stepped back. “Good. Learn it.”


April 25th

A week passed. Taehyung felt like he was watching a flower bloom. A flower that had withered under little care, only to find it’s color again when it drank enough water to revive it’s roots.

Jungkook blossomed in just a week. He was growing confidence like none other, but with confidence came facing his struggles.

Some struggles came out victorious, others crumbled right before Taehyung’s eyes.

The boy was crawling in intelligence. It had been hidden in an unsocialized and unencouraged head for long enough to make it shrink to the far corner of his brain, pushing survival instincts to the front, but it was fighting it’s way back to the light.

In a safe environment, he broadened his horizons and cautiously opened the windows to his brain once again. He let the light in streak by streak. Just within a little over a week, his basket of knowledge had captured countless words and terminology.

He spoke louder, braver, and explored every new word that Taehyung said to him. It may take him a moment to retrieve it from where mold and roots hankored it down, and sounding it out, often ended in stutters, but Taehyung nonetheless beamed in absolute pride whenever he showed off his ever growing skills.

They didn’t have to be spectacular, because even the smallest of a planted seed could grow a colossal tree given time.

Besides his improvement in speech, Jungkook’s communication had taken flight just as well. He still reacted promptly to “orders” and didn’t think twice if it meant throwing himself into a pit of alligators, but he asked questions now.

Just two days ago, Taehyung had told him they needed to go to bed earlier than normal even if the hybrid was awake and ready to hike a mountain.

He had asked why. It was tentative, scared shitless that a hand might slap down on his cheek as the answer, but by God, he asked.

Consequently, Taehyung didn’t make them go to sleep.

Consequently, Taehyung was learning very broadly that he was a softie for the hybrid and no one was going to harden him.

Who knew the Viper would ever turn into a bitch for a baby, Jimin said so cocky.

Communication was key, and while Jungkook didn’t directly say no or express any disliking to situations or questions, he was coming around just by proving that he had the ability to think for himself.

Taehyung was beginning to think he’d been permanently brain damaged or brainwashed, but his brain was taking itself back wonderfully.

But the road blocks. Oh, the road blocks.

The night terrors that rattled Jungkook out of his sleep just to send him into fits of hyperventilation. The type that sucked Taehyung out of his sleep like a vacuum. Rocking, shushing, dragging fingernails through hair—it was all Taehyung could do to ever coax the boy back to sleep.

The constant insecurities in Jungkook’s voice and in the way he carried himself, shy when a hand raised and incapable of asking for something without his voice cracking and his ears falling into the abyss of his morning curls.

The ribs that poked and stabbed and the bruises that faded much too slow for Taehyung’s liking. No matter the food he shoveled into Jungkook’s stomach, it didn’t show as quick as he’d like. Patience was a virtue and he wasn’t a very virtuous man.

But above all green lights and stop signs, they had something that worked, and it was something that made Jungkook feel safe for the first time in his life.

Structure without brutality, strict rules, or expectations. The only expectations for Jungkook was to open his mouth if something didn’t feel right, and to never leave the bedroom on his own unless he was seeking help. General rules like not breaking the window or playing hairdresser on himself was just assumed.

Every day was different, and they liked it that way. Taehyung hated boredom, and Jungkook used to wake up in the same place and breathe in dust as a hobby.

Crumbling into tears or riding on a high, they’d take both over a stale living.

There was so much to getting to know someone. Dips and concaves, curves and twists. The roads could get slippery, and occasionally trees fell in the road and construction created detours.

And when that someone didn’t even know themselves, sometimes more than one person could be surprised.

Taehyung worked diligently to figure them out. Who they were to each other. Their schedules. Their dance. Most mornings he woke up and set off on the right foot, sent Jungkook to do his ointment while he gathered them some food.

Other mornings he knew the day just wasn’t going to come together when the hybrid sat up with limp ears and a croak in his throat.

Breakfast wasn’t just a stepping stone for them. It was the green light to wake up and be. It was silly, really, but not to them. Breakfast meant sitting down together, filling up the hybrid’s stomach with warm food, and finding easy, simple conversations to share.

Always the same questions to begin with—how Jungkook felt physically on a scale of one to ten (it averaged around six) and how he felt about the world around him (always a nine).

What kept him from a ten, he didn’t know yet.

Taehyung would get dressed in something loose around his waist but tight on his shoulders and would leave with their plates to do his regular morning rounds.

He’d kiss Jungkook on the head, remind him that relaxing was what good bunnies did, and left him to his own imagination.

They didn’t go together on the morning rounds anymore. Not after what happened last time. Taehyung wanted things to settle down before he threw Jungkook back into the world.

Something else was part of their morning rituals. Every time he came back to the bedroom, Jungkook was lying on his back, arms spread out, and looking out the skylight.

Curiosity killed the cat one day and Taehyung finally asked.

“What’s always got your attention on the sky, bunny?”

“It’s very big,” he said. “And pretty. I like how blue it is, and how the clouds move over it. And when it rains, the sound makes me sleepy and it hits the glass like little bursts. Sometimes I even get to see the birds.”

“Do they come say hello?” Taehyung asked, and sat next to him, even if he didn’t respond to the bed dipping down.

“No. I think they’re scared they’ll fall through.”

“Do you like birds?”

“Mhm. They can fly and go anywhere they want.” Jungkook finally looked at him, and tipped his head to the side, smiling. “They aren’t stuck anywhere.”

“Are you stuck?” Taehyung murmured with a heart that could beat itself into a comatose state.

“Uh-uh, Tae. I’m just as free as them.” He looked back out the window, hair dragging over his eyebrow. “I’m just not in the sky. But that’s okay. Being down here is okay if you are too.”

Every day that Taehyung walked back into the bedroom, Jungkook was looking elsewhere. And that was okay, because the stars in his eyes made up for the lack of a blue sky.

This morning was like any other morning.

Taehyung slunk in past the door, tried to shrug off the chip on his shoulder that an insubordinate Violet with a mouth too loose for his own good placed there, and looked in the same place he always did.

Jungkook had a hand on an ear, eyes on the sky, and feet bouncing to a tune in his head. He hadn’t heard music in ages but he heard Jimin humming under his breath the other night and now he couldn’t break the broken record in his head.

“See anything new today?” Taehyung asked, situating his gun in his holster.

“I think I saw a plane. Have you ever been on a plane, Tae?”

“I have,” he said, and lowered onto the edge of the bad. His body ached more than usual today. “I have my own.”

“You do?” he asked in shock.

“I do… it’s smaller than the giant one you saw,” Taehyung said. Looking over the hybrid’s body, and the wonder that seemed to dim more and more these days, Taehyung wanted to turn the walls to glass. “It’s taken me to a lot of different places. Places that even threw me for a whirl. Places that made me want to stay.”

“You were up there.”

Taehyung frowned. The sky. That was all Jungkook seemed to connect with, all he knew of. Not the frozen mountains or the waves of the ocean. The magnificent architecture, ancient and modern alike. Not where the plane could go.

He didn’t mind the boy’s fascination in the sky. Soon, he’d go to the library and pick out some books. Him and Namjoon had already talked it over, and personally, he had a couple astrology and biology books in mind.

But he knew there was more for Jungkook.

“There’s so much more out there than the same spot of the sky that you’ve made friends with. I want you to see the rest of the world again. Today.”

Jungkook looked up, blinking away the clouds. “Huh?”

“You’ve been stored away for long enough,” Taehyung said. “You need to see how big the world is, just so that you know it isn’t all out to get you.”

“I shouldn't trust anyone… but I can trust the world?”

“The world won’t hurt you, Jungkook. It’s the people in it that will. You said it yourself—it’s pretty out there,” Taehyung mused. “The trees, the breeze, the flowers. That’s what you need to see. Not these walls.”

“But going outside puts me around those people.”

Taehyung snorted. “You’re a little devil’s advocate today.”

“A what?” Jungkook asked, blinking away the cluelessness.

“Nothing. Sorry. We’ll learn that one later.” Taehyung got to his feet, and held out his hands. “I’ll explain everything. C’mon. There’s some pretty woods around here. I hear bunnies like the greenery.”

Clothes were still an issue. They hadn’t gone to get any clothes for him because the boy wasn’t ready for public places and Taehyung wasn’t ready to shop for a hybrid.

Jimin already offered to the other day, and he was genuinely considering it.

When he thought about what he would do at a hybrid’s clothing store, he drowned in all of the imaginary pastel colors and frilly laces, and the opposite, because how the hell was he supposed to know if Jungkook wanted to dress cutesy like all the other hybrids or worm his way into a plain sweater?

The boxer shorts held up their usefulness, because Jungkook said time and time again that they were comfortable and he fancied wearing them as shorts. Whenever Taehyung even suggested sweatpants, it got real bad. Apparently Jungkook wasn’t a baggy pants kinda boy.

For now, he untucked a white sweater from his closet. It was warm outside, in the dead of spring, but Hoseok had warned him diligently to keep him covered until he built up weight and his immune system recovered.

“His legs are okay,” Hoseok said. “But if he’s got goosebumps on those arms, you wrap him up like a burrito and take his temperature. I’m not playing with you, Taehyung.”

“Look at those ribs. They’re already starting to go back into hiding.”

Jungkook frowned down at himself. “I don’t see a big difference.”

“Well, I do.” He didn’t. But no plant grows without water. “You’re already getting better.” Taehyung held the sweater over Jungkook’s head. “Arms up.”

Jungkook’s ears twitched happily, and when Taehyung slotted his arms through the sleeves and pulled them down, his sensitive ears shivered and shared it with his whole body. The way his ears flicked back and forward to rid them of the strange sensation made Taehyung’s cheeks buzz.

“Are you done brushing your ears?”

“Mhm,” Jungkook said with a polite nod, tugging at the cuffs of his sleeves until they fell over his hands. “I am.”

“Good. Your special ones should be in any day. I have no idea what any of them do, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out. You’re a smart rabbit,” Taehyung teased, and motioned for him to sit down on the bed. “Socks. I wish you’d let me get you some shoes.”

“Don’t want ‘em,” Jungkook mumbled, popping the socks over his feet and popping his lip in concentration. “Not yet.”

“Not yet…” Taehyung said in thought, an entertained smile growing on his face.

“I want to feel stuff under my feet. I forgot what it feels like,” he explained, wiggling his toes proudly, swinging himself up from the bed.

“You have forgotten what it feels like.”

“I’ve forgotten,” Jungkook sounded out, correcting himself with eyebrows as serious as Jimin’s commitment issues. “I’ve forgotten what it feels like. Everything feels new.”

“Do you remember what grass feels like?”

“I don’t remember what it feels like. I don’t remember what it looks like. It’s been so long, Tae.”

Taehyung was smiling, but Jungkook could see it. Could see that same dying light in his eyes when he came face to face with the desolation of his life. When he came upon reminders of what happened before, when Jungkook asked questions that usually died before elementary school.

“That ends today,” Taehyung said with a sigh. “Well, remembering grass does. I’m gonna show you the world with time.” He held his hand out for Jungkook’s. “Palm trees. Crystal clear oceans. Mountain peaks. All the snow you can see for miles. Cherry blossoms that’ll look splendid in your hair.”

“My hair?” Jungkook asked, peeking his fingers into his brunette curls, feeling around like maybe one had snuck into their room. “What about rain?”

“That’s a nice feeling too, but it can give you a cold.”

“Maybe not. Hoseok told me not to get a cold.”

“Good thinking. If I lose you to anything, it’s certainly not going to be a damn cold,” Taehyung said, and nodded towards the door. “Come on. You ready?”

“Mhm,” he said with a brave nod.

They breached the main hub area, and the amount of shock the Violets had for him hadn’t died down any. The room got quiet, but only for a second, before they saw the sharp eyes of the Violet sweep over the crowd and no one wanted to be the one caught in the act.

Even when the noise picked back up, human nature couldn’t stop anyone from stealing glances of the infamous hybrid linked to their leader by tight hands.

Jimin was leaning against the wall talking to someone, someone who Jungkook thought looked a little too rough around the edges to be so close to his hyung, until Jimin spotted them and gave some half-assed reply to his “friend” as a fuck you, choosing to leave for them instead.

“Well, look who made it out of the room,” Jimin said with a disgustingly sweet smile, looking directly at Jungkook with zero interest in his so called best friend, arms held open.

Jungkook let go of Taehyung’s hand and skipped into those open arms with a, “Jiminie!”

Jimin had become a fan favorite. It wasn’t a new thing, but Taehyung didn’t expect it to happen so fast. The two connected immediately. Jimin liked to come see him later at night and ask him how his day went, rub into his ears, and call him sugary sweet names like his teeth were rotten with cavities.

Two nights ago, nothing could have made Jimin say no to can Jiminie stay for a movie? even if it meant resurrected all the men he’d killed from behind.

Basically, Jimin had a soft spot in his heart that Jungkook fit in perfectly at first sight, and Jungkook yearned to be everyone’s soft spot. It was a match made in heaven.

Taehyung had to face the inevitable the first night when he came back from his nightly rounds and Jimin was brushing Jungkook’s ears, but the giggles he’d heard down the hall sold him without any haggling.

Jimin was a second friend in the world, and he played an immeasurable part in getting Jungkook acclimated. Taehyung had already thanked Jimin more times in the last week than he had for him saving his life.

“Hey, sugarplum,” Jimin said, doubling over him, squeezing him tight. “What’s got you being a brave boy and adventuring out?”

The three of them acted like every Violet wasn’t looking at Jimin oozing from his heart like they’d seen a mauling.

Everyone knew Jimin could act a man to death, be a cutesy, naive boy who just wanted some company, and no one ever forgot when in the event that shit hit the fan, he’d grab the face of a spiraling man and tell them they were going to fucking make it or I’ll drag you out of here myself with a bullet in my shoulder and a fucking grudge.

But not a nurturing, sickeningly tender mother bear.

“We’re going outside to explore the base grounds. He’s getting a little outside-sick.”

“I asked him, not you,” Jimin argued, because he never couldn’t.

“He doesn’t know, asshole,” Taehyung argued right back. “He’s just following me and hoping I’m not leading us to death.”

Jimin scoffed. “Yeah, join the party, bucko,” he teased, even if Taehyung was glaring. “You gonna go see the woods, Kook?”

“Yeah,” Jungkook said, and leaned away from his chest, looking up at him. “Tae wants me to see more than what’s out the window.”

“I promise there’s a whole lot more sky out there for you to see,” Jimin reassured him. “Sky that goes on for days upon days. Just do me a favor and don’t go getting lost, okay?”

“You have such little faith in your boss,” Taehyung tutted. “I’m not going to let him get lost.”

“You say that until you have a rabbit scampering around in the woods. Don’t get comfortable. You know what happens when you do that.” Someone dies. “Go on, bud. Go have fun. I’ll be here when you get back.”

“You don’t wanna come?”

“Oh, no. Next time. This one’s for you and Tae.”

“Okay,” he mumbled.

“C’mon, Jungkook,” Taehyung said sweetly, holding out his hand, nodding at Jimin. “I got him. I keep all these rascals in place. I think I can keep an eye on him.”

“Maybe, but these rascals aren’t in wonder of the world,” Jimin said in doubt, swinging his leg to set off for the middle of the room, shrugging. “It’s a good thing, though, getting him out. He needs it.”

“I know,” was all Taehyung said and opened the door, letting the light in.

It was brighter than the window. It came straight from the sun itself. It fell onto Jungkook’s legs and opened them up to a brand new warmth that had only been created just for him.

He squinted, flinched when the sun reached right into his eyes, but took a hard breath of the freshest air he’d ever had and opened wide.

Eyes being as big as the moon, they rivaled the sun, eclipsed, and the world seeped back into view.

It bled into his eyes like the rays. The driveway’s cobblestone bounced it all back on him. The trees that sprouted from the ground. The velvety yellow of the somethings that grew on the edges of rock, fighting to take back the Earth from manmade cuts.

The bedroom, the thing he knew, the thing he thought had been his safety and his virtue, was frowning in comparison to this unending smile of a sunny world.

“Pretty, isn’t it?” Taehyung asked.

Pretty couldn’t begin. Pretty was just the first letter of the essay. Jungkook grabbed his arm, grabbed his sleeve, tugged and pulled, mouth falling open until his tongue tasted the world in the air and ears sprung straight up like the flowers reaching for the sun’s nectar.

“It’s…” He came up empty. “Look at the sky!” He pointed up at it, and how long it seemed to go. “Does it ever stop?”

“That’s the thing about the sky. It goes on for forever. And so does the rest of the world. This is just the beginning, little one,” Taehyung said, and took a step to the side, almost pulling Jungkook down like a pole tied to a wire. “Bigger than your window, huh?”

“So much bigger.”

“Did your original owner not ever take you outside?” Taehyung asked, leading down the side pathway, shoes clicking against stone and hands gripping onto him tightly.

“Not much. It was so long ago that I can’t remember, but he lived far into the city. I saw a lot of cars and street lights. Trees are… wow, they’re so tall.”

“That’s where we’re going,” he said, pointing at the larger landscape of woodland they headed toward. “We only cleared out enough for the base. The rest is untouched.”

“Is this whole hill yours?”

“No.” Jungkook looked up at him in confusion, already thinking up all the scary possibilities of neighbors. “It’s not mine. It’s ours.”

“It’s… mine too?”

“Sure is. The world is yours, baby. I can make anything yours. But how about we just stick with the trees for now.”

They ventured underneath the undercarriage of the foliage above them. A bridge of leaves of all colors, lemon green and some emerald, a splatter of maple orange for the late bloomers.

The sun beamed down through the leaves in a mosaic painting of brushed out colors, mellow in the dirt that scuffed under their feet. Critters scampered around them, above and below and in between.

Lower limbs licked at shoulders and bunny ears and pinecones crunched when stepped on, but a certain pair of feet hopped around them, never ones to destroy a single thing.

Birds twittered like a house of mirrors, from every branch and perch.

Jungkook’s eyes glimmered, and today, they didn’t look like the stars when they feasted on the forest around him. They were too full of the sun, too burning in a radiance when he dragged his fingers over weathered bark, flinching at first, but breaking into a blinding smile after.

Taehyung fell in love with the way his eyes plunged into the green like they had nothing to lose. Like it would be okay if this were the last thing he ever saw. They caught onto every living creature, every bristling leaf, every rainbow of light that bounced off them.

Taehyung had never seen his ears so up and confident in themselves, vibrating to catch every last word the Earth had to speak to him.

He had an epiphany that maybe Jungkook really was a woodland animal, that the rabbit in him held true here, found its home and was reaching out for him desperately, because Jungkook tugged him by his hand into a coliseum of mother Earth’s creation that engulfed him and frolicked around him.

He belonged here with his starry eyes and body made of wonder and heart shrouded in goodness.

Taehyung wasn’t supposed to be the one losing himself in awe, but he’d done it. Looking at the hybrid’s unfleeting fascination, innocence running through the woods in his feet, Taehyung forgot how to keep his guard.

He wasn’t wired to have a strong hold on his emotions and his face and the emotions that tried to pop up on it. It was self-taught. And a little rabbit hybrid walked right up and snatched it out of his hands.

“The wind feels like a hug,” Jungkook said, turning on his heel, bouncing on it, looking up into the canopy of green. “And the birds are actually sitting.” He leaned back on his heel, stretched their arms, and said, “Taehyung?”

Taehyung didn’t realize he wasn’t breathing. His shoulders dusted up, and his mouth clamped shut. He blinked awake, even if he was still dreaming.

“Sorry. It’s a breeze. It’s gentle, just enough to move the leaves, but not enough to blow your clothes, see?” Taehyung said, and fell into his tug, traipsing further into the woods. “They don’t fly all the time, you know. They have a home they go to, just like you. Freedom isn’t always running away from what you know.”

“It’s knowing you can, right?” he asked.

“Right, bunny.”

They sat down in a clearing. Where the trees kept their distance and the leaves hung away. The ground was warm with the birthmark of the beating sun.

Taehyung’s legs stretched out like the roots around them, and Jungkook bunched his up against his chest, arms wrapped around them and eyes scouring the area.

“I’m glad you like it, because you’re meant to be here,” Taehyung said, following in his footsteps. “Looks like it’s been waiting for you for a long time.”

“You think so?”

Taehyung smiled over the bird that landed on the branch that Jungkook scratched his fingers red on, cocking its head at the white ears that burned ethereal in the forest. It had never seen a cottontail with white ears.

“Yeah. Like old friends who haven’t seen you in a while.”

“They knew you’d bring me here one day,” Jungkook said. “Before you and I did, Tae. That you’d take me from the scary men and show me the woods.”

“I want to show you everything, Jungkook,” he almost whispered. “I hated the world before. I hated what it had to offer. I just always thought of the horrid shit it all had hidden in there, but now it’s different. Now I just want to see it all in your eyes and what they look like when they see all the lights and the—” He stopped himself, before he could hear himself tumble and crash.

“Taehyung…” he almost whispered back. “Sometimes I think you’re more scared than I am.”

“What?”

“I can tell it scares you when you talk with me. I don’t want you to be scared, like you don’t want me to be.” Jungkook eased for his hand, but couldn’t commit to it, never did, so Taehyung did it for him. “I don’t really know how to feel yet. I just know I want what I feel when I’m with you, and I think I know you do too but you get scared.”

“Nothing scares me anymore, Jungkook.”

“I… sometimes I think I scare you.”

“You don’t—” Taehyung huffed. “You don’t scare me. What… scares me is having something with such a big heart in my hands and not knowing to match it.”

“Tae?”

“Yeah?”

“Have you never loved something before?”

Loaded questions. They came with a shock. They short-circuited a man who had long ago decided that whatever a loaded question wanted was too dangerous to spill. They could never mean good. Half the time they came up in a torture session and he’d rather spit his teeth out than let loose one miniscule skeletons in his closet.

Never. Not ever. The boy’s choice of words were particular, and something about the choice stabbed harshly. Never, like the possibility of him loving anyone or anything was lower on the list of odds.

There was a 1 in 10 chance that he’d ever felt love before and Jungkook had betted safe.

Loaded questions. Spitting his teeth. Skeletons. Big, brown eyes looking through him like he wasn’t a dense, black, lost cause.

“I’ve loved in my life,” he said with a hand closed around his lungs. “I’ve loved so hard that I lost everything for it. The last time I loved someone, they were snatched away from me right before my eyes and I killed my first person for it.” He swallowed, looked back into those brown eyes, and felt his own plummet. “The last time I loved someone, I became a monster."

Jungkook took in a little breath, the kind that should follow with words but just couldn’t find the courage to do it. His lips twitched, and his head spun, until finally he spoke like the breeze around them.

“Who did you love?”

“I loved my mother.”

“She was… snatched away?”

Jungkook had wondered, but never implored on such a sensitive subject. He was so clueless of Taehyung’s life that every subject sat on eggshells and the only thing he could do was tip-toe around them.

In the world of a man as torn apart as Taehyung, re-built into a ruthless killer, anything could be the beginning of the end.

“Jungkook. I don’t know about this. I don’t think it’s time yet. I can’t—”

“I had two owners before the mean men. I was on sale for not even an hour before I was bought at thirteen.”

He’d never seen Taehyung’s eyes so wide before. Nothing in the world could jar him anymore, but today, in the middle of the woods and chest getting pried apart, Kim Taehyung was rendered useless.

“Thirteen?” he whispered, hoarse.

“I was raised in a place for hybrids until I was ten… I remember because they told me I had hit two numbers, and that meant I was old enough to learn to be a pet.”

“They said that?”

“The hybrid place never lied to us when we turned ten. They took our toys away and told us someone would own us some day and we’d be good pets,” he said, staring at his shaking hands. “I was trained for three years, and put in a glass box when I was thirteen. It was kind of hard to breathe, and cold because they took my clothes off, but I wasn't in it for very long.”

Taehyung was silent, still reeling in the way his hybrid had jumped in with a bravery he apparently didn’t have himself.

“My first owner took me back two weeks later because I got scared when he touched me. I didn’t like it. I wanted to play with toys again and go outside… but that wasn’t what he wanted."

"Sounds like a piece of shit to me."

“I got in trouble for going back. They tried to train me more, but I still didn’t like it. My second owner kept me for a really long time, though. I was only on sale for a couple hours before he bought me.”

“What was he like?” Taehyung asked, only because he had a feeling the hybrid wouldn’t be able to cross that bridge unless he was led over it.

“He was okay. I think. I don’t know. He made me do things I didn’t want to, but he was still nice doing it. You wouldn’t have liked him.”

“No?” he asked softly.

“Uh-uh. He did the things that make you mad. My first time was with him. But the mean men, they showed me that he wasn’t as mean as them. He didn’t hurt me a lot like they did.”

“Was he actually nice, Jungkook? You know what a decent owner is like now. I know I’m far from perfect, but I haven’t hurt you once, always take care of your needs. And him?”

“I think so… maybe.”

“Jungkook,” he coaxed, touching trembling hands until they settled in his. “You can tell me. I want to know. Your past doesn’t have to be a secret you keep from me.”

“I… he was nice, but he wanted a lot, and he yelled at me when I messed up. He would grab my ears if I didn’t hear him the first time. Sometimes when I tried to clean something up, he’d make fun of me, but that was only when he got drunk.”

Someone embarrassing Jungkook had a special spot in hell and it took a lot for Taehyung not to give Namjoon new orders in searching for someone.

“Did he drink a lot?”

Jungkook nodded. “When the night came. I think he was sad a lot of the time. No one ever came to see him, or called him. I was all he had. But I don’t think I was enough.”

“It wasn’t your job to be enough.”

“He asked me to do things I didn’t want to, though, and he’d tell me I was a bad hybrid for it. But I just didn’t want to. I thought it was okay for me not to want to.”

“It is. It is now.”

“He, um, he’d come home from work and make me go to the bed. I didn’t like those nights,” he murmured. The hold Taehyung had on his hands took away his options to fidget. “Those nights scared me. He never asked, he just did it. But it didn’t really hurt back then. I just didn’t want to.”

“And that’s okay. You know that, right?” Taehyung asked him, hand itching for his holster. It was a chore to keep a soft voice when he wanted to spill blood. “Hybrids aren’t sex toys. You aren’t up for public use. You have a say in all of that too.”

“I know. Kind of. Just because of you. I was trained to do it, and owners ordered me… but it was manageable with my second owner,” he said, sounding out that “big” word with teeth flashing. “He let me sleep in the bed afterwards, and cleaned me up too. And there was food when I woke up. A bathroom. It really wasn’t so bad.”

“You had low standards because you never had anything better. It was bad. Don’t try to paint over it, baby. You were being used, and just because it didn’t hurt so bad doesn’t mean it was consensual.”

“Consensual?”

“When you agree for something to happen to you. When you want something to happen. In this case, sex is only consensual when you want it.”

“Oh…” he said. “I’ve never had… consensual sex?”

“No,” Taehyung made clear, disgruntled. “The laws say you couldn’t have. Not until you turned twenty. You were too young to ever consent to what they did to you.”

“Really?” he asked in disbelief.

“Really. You said September first was your twentieth birthday. Only after that were you able to consent, little one.”

“Even for hybrids?”

“That doesn’t matter to me. Rabbit ears or not, your age of consent should be no different from mine.” Taehyung didn’t elaborate. The law said hybrids didn’t have an age of consent. They were property. Any legal citizen could do with their property as they wished. “Tell me, baby, what happened with your second owner?”

“He lost his job,” he said, growing meek again at the reminder of his greedy past. “He tried to keep me for a couple months, but I started missing meals when he could only pay for his.”

“Did you go hungry?”

“My tummy growled sometimes, but I still got food. Just not as much as him. He couldn’t afford the stuff he drank anymore—”

“Alcohol.”

“He couldn’t afford alcohol anymore, so he got really mad some nights. The lights went out one day, and then they never came back on. I don’t remember how long he kept me after that… maybe a couple days.”

“Sujo told me he sold you,” Taehyung admitted. “But that was all he told me.”

Jungkook nodded. “Outside of a store. He took me there a couple times when he got groceries, but we hadn’t been in so long. Just like the place that I grew up in, it only took a couple hours before someone bought me.”

“The Opalites.”

“I don’t really want to talk about them if that’s okay.”

“That one’s too fresh. I get it, baby. Don’t push yourself. God knows I know what that feels like,” Taehyung soothed, bringing his hands to his lips. “Thank you for telling me what you have. I can learn more later in the years ahead of us. Patience comes slow to me, but tearing something out of someone comes even slower.”

“There’s so much more, but I just can’t remember it right now. Don’t want to.”

“Then don’t. Listen to the birds. Getting lost in your head never did anyone any good.”

The birds held full conversations in their lack of words. Hands in hands, the trembling had stopped, but a new tingling had come to visit.

It smelt green when Taehyung breathed in.

Fuck it.

“My mother was with a man who treated her like dirt. He choked on alcohol every night and choked her afterwards. He left bruises on her, pushed her down, talked to her like a dog. He called her every name in the book. I fucking hate the word slut. It makes me want to strangle someone with my bare hands until their throat closes in around the word,” Taehyung rasped. “She stayed with him because she didn’t have the money to leave, and he knew that no one else would bring a drunkard into their home, so he did everything he could to keep her stuck. He cut her off from the family. I haven’t seen my grandparents since I was seven. He sold her car, stranded her. He got her fired from work, drained her bank account. He did it all.”

“Your… your dad?”

“I don’t like to call him that.”

“Okay. Did he hurt her a lot?”

“Every night. She was too scared to talk half the time. I just wanted… I just wanted to pull the stitching out of her lips and just make her talk.” His voice shook. He tried to stop it, tried to stabilize it, but the undertow was too strong. “But when she did, she wasn’t my mother. She was gone, too worried about him coming home, if the house was clean or if dinner was cooked. Her hands always shook and she flinched at everything and listened just for his voice, beckoning to his every call.”

“She was scared he’d hurt her.”

“Yeah, she was, and rightfully so, because he would.” Taehyung found himself relying on the little hands in his now. “Do you really want to know what happened to my mother?”

“I do.” If it would make any sense of the person Taehyung had become at such a young age.

“He downed two bottles of straight vodka, paced around the house until my mother cowered in the bedroom, and then drowned in the person he was,” Taehyung said with an ever growing resentment in his voice. “He did what he was always going to do. He beat my mother into the ground. She screamed bloody murder. I can still hear the bones in her face cracking. She stopped screaming after three minutes.”

Jungkook was speechless. Just like Taehyung remembered himself being.

“I grabbed the gun I knew he had under the mattress because he put it in my mother’s mouth when I was too young to know what it was. I aimed it at him, could see him laughing but couldn’t hear it because my ears rang from the screams, and shot him in the chest,” he said. “I shot my father over my mother’s dead body and had never felt so red in my life. I knew from that day on, if I had just fucking grabbed that gun one day earlier and done what had to be done, my mother would still be alive.”

Jungkook eased closer to him, leaning against him and his hard dropping shoulders.

“I was a coward. I was a worthless child who couldn't even keep his mother alive. I shot that man dead too late and I swore to myself I’d never kill late again.”

“Taehyung,” Jungkook whined, pushing into his neck, chest throbbing at the ache in his voice.

“You asked why I am who I am? Because I hear her every single second, and the only thing that can stop it is feeling his death on my hands all over again,” he said coarsely. “Because I’m addicted to killing and my father was my gateway drug. I can’t live without it because it’s the only way I can kill him in my head.”

“Okay, Taehyung,” he whispered, not sure if Taehyung really understood that he heard him.

“So, yeah, you scare me, Jungkook, because I’ve already taken Seoul to erase her. If I have to forget you too, I’m going to paint every inch of South Korea red.”

Chapter Text

“Are you ready to go back?” Taehyung asked.

“I’ll get to see it again, right?”

“Any time you want to. If you think I’m not going to show you everything this world has to offer, you’re sorely mistaken, my cottontail,” Taehyung teased, pushing himself off of the ground.

He brushed the dirt off his hands before he held them out for Jungkook, because even a dust of dirt on his boy’s skin would be atrocious. He pulled Jungkook up, touching his waist when his legs shook. The muscular atrophy in his legs healed near completely, but still buckled at quick movements.

They started off for the base, taking in the emerald before they had to leave it behind for amethyst.

“I think your mother would have really liked you,” Jungkook said so suddenly that Taehyung swore he could hear the clouds moving above him. “You would have taken care of her.”

I didn’t. Cobblestone crunched under his shoes. I didn’t when it mattered the most.

“Thank you,” he said quieter than the hybrid and that was a rare occasion. “I think she would have liked you too. She would have spoiled the hell out of you. I wouldn’t even have you half the time. I know it.”

Thinking of that world made Jungkook smile. Thinking of a world where Taehyung’s mother could wrap him in her arms and cover his ears in her hair and tickle his neck with it. A world where Taehyung would have someone to hold him.

But in that world, Taehyung would never have crossed paths with the lonely hybrid stored away like a non-perishable item.

Back at the base, two steps in, their magical morning came to a screeching halt. Just like most good things in Taehyung’s life.

The life in the Violet headquarters was not moseying about as it usually did. People were tense, slinging their heads his way when he showed up. And right in the front, just close enough to the door without getting ran into, his closest entourage stood.

Waiting for him, Jimin stood with his arms crossed and his eyes glinting in trouble. Namjoon had his hands in his pockets to stop them from problem solving, the cogs in his brain already turning. And Chanyeol, his top man below Jimin’s ranking.

“Welcome back,” Jimin announced. “Hate to be the buzzkill, but we got a problem.”

“What’s the problem?” Taehyung practically demanded, and dragged Jungkook close, eyes automatically scanning the room for danger. A man with a gun, a hacker toying with the lights.

“Patrol found someone on the premises. Three minutes ago. I took him in. He’s locked up.”

The Viper had this thing about him. It had existed since the first day he saw blood. He could change the temperature of his blood by the snap of a finger, and could capture his mind in a white fist, cut off all thoughts but calculations. He morphed as easily as lightning struck the sky.

Soft and easy from the trees and open hearts, Taehyung shifted to the man who saw distractions as an excuse to kill something off. He hardened, thinned his eyes, and squared his jaw.

“Namjoon,” he ordered, and the man’s head snapped in his direction. “Take Jungkook to his bedroom. I’m going with Jimin.”

Jungkook looked up at him. “Tae?”

This distraction he couldn’t kill. He couldn’t just end it’s annoying interruption. It was too precious.

“I have to go, Jungkook. Go with Namjoon.”

“But I… okay,” he murmured, and let the intellect touch his upper back. “Is everything okay?”

“It will be. Don’t you ever worry about that. Go, now,” Taehyung directed him, walking next to Jimin, who met his pace with experience. “Listen to Namjoon and be good.”

Taehyung didn’t look back. Couldn’t, not when Jimin had his hand on his holster and Jungkook looked so worried. Someone trespassed onto their land for the first time since they built it.

The Violets kept covert, never played with mischief when it came to their base. They were too hot of a target. Any mafia would go green in the eyes if they found their location. The top of everyone’s hit list, and just one tip could turn the tables. If their base burned to the ground, the Violets would take a hit they might not come back up from.

“Is it an Opalite?”

“No. I made sure every last man in that place was blown to smithereens.”

“Any idea who we’re dealing with then?”

“No fucking clue. No identifiers I’ve ever seen before. I thought maybe the Verts were finally making their move, but no emerald ring,” Jimin said, gruff and borderline nervous. Nerves weren’t something Jimin had, and if Jimin was bending, you best bet Taehyung would follow. “Whoever this is, they're trouble if they’re sniffing around the right place.”

“You know for a fact they knew where they were?”

“He didn’t look surprised when they dragged him in and dropped him at my feet. Tells me the son of a bitch knew exactly what he was doing. Didn’t try to fight, no attacks. You know what that means.”

“Suicide run. He wasn’t trying to attack. He had other plans.”

“Scoping it out,” Jimin said, cutting behind Taehyung when they began the trek down the basement stairs. “But he knew he wasn’t going to make it back.”

“He’s wired.”

“Watch what you say.”

The duo clomped down onto the floor of the jail cells and came to a stop, blood rushing the same way it always did when their thoughts formed a bridge. Their connection was riveting even all these years later.

Four guards lined the cells this time. Two wasn’t enough for a trespass protocol. The main cell—the one they almost gave up on after Sujo’s torture—held their new prisoner, head hung low and arms tied behind his chair.

“Boss,” a guard greeted.

“Hey. He say anything yet?”

“No, sir.”

“He didn’t say one word on the way down here,” Jimin said, taking his time in approaching the cell. “Couldn’t even get a name out of him. Threatening to take his ears off didn’t really get the job done, but it made me feel better, so.”

Taehyung snorted. “Interesting. The ears, eh? Haven’t seen you do those in a long time. Might be refreshing.”

He knocked the cage door open, entering with his partner by his side. The prisoner lifted his head, long hair drawn back in a low bun, heavy eyes deep in his skull.

The striking thing about him were the tattoos on his face. Under each eye were thin, milky white lines, scripted into his skin with no pattern to follow. Taehyung tilted his head at it, eyes squinting in suspicion.

“I’m back,” Jimin said. “Miss me?” No answer. Empty eyes. “I brought a friend. Probably the man you were looking for. But I’ll warn you,” he lowered his voice, “I go a little easier than he does.”

Physically, yes, but Taehyung would rather pull his own body apart before he’d ever be interrogated by Jimin. Because if he weren’t dead by the time Jimin got ahold of him, his brain would be picked at like a science experiment.

Taehyung stole answers with sheer force. Jimin finessed them psychological agony.

“I’d say it’s nice to meet you, but I’ve heard you’ve got quite the quiet mouth. It’s not very polite of you to keep your name to yourself,” Taehyung pondered, observing him hard enough to see through his skin. “The first thing I ever ask someone is their name. I like to know who I’m talking to, but you won’t even budge. You showed up on my property, and that’s reason enough to burn you in front of your men. But that’s my very problem… who are your men and what are you doing here?”

The man rejoiced in silence. His skin cut around his bones sharp. Emaciation was a long way away, but food had been spared. An athletic build, a thin layer of muscle and scarce fat. He was clean, though. Where he came from kept him clean.

“I know every gang worth knowing in Seoul, and don’t think I haven’t dirtied my hands in the rest of South Korea. But, among all the dynasties and empires and alleyway sideshows, I’ve never seen this before,” Taehyung said, and ran a fingertip over the lines of white under the man’s eye, who gave not a single flinch. “This tattoo. What does it mean? Who do you belong to?”

He’d never seen someone so disinterested in an interrogation. His eyes hadn’t left the floor. Not a muscle in his face twitched. He wasn’t in the room with them.

Taehyung stepped back, but not in disappointment. The Violets always found a loophole, whether they slipped into it or they tore it open.

“Jimin. Get me answers.”

The blonde smirked, eyes tweaking in a glint just at the thought. Foot propped up on the chair arm, boot scratching on the prisoner’s arm, he hooked a thumb on his military belt.

“I’ll get ‘em like a dream—normally,” Jimin said. “Question is, does this guy’s tongue work to give them? He’s been awfully quiet.”

Taehyung turned around, gliding through the guards who split by the jail cell door. His boots clunked against the cement floor.

“Make him scream and you’ll find out. Child’s play, Jimin.”


Taehyung snuck in through the bedroom door only to come upon an empty room. Unlike any other day, his blood didn’t run cold. Jungkook was left in Namjoon’s hands. That man would have never lost the hybrid on his watch or he’d already be packing his bags—unasked.

He whirled out for the stairs, jogging up them, mind racing through every deadend and cliff he could reach.

His head worked like a computer. It categorized. It calculated ahead, put together every possibility before it could even begin. It acted as the red string stretched across an investigation board.

What was already in motion? Was there a troup heading their way, were there more in the woods? How escalated was the situation?

Every question, every forewarning, every paranoia. His supposedly secret base had been trespassed, the wires were tripped, and his alarms were sounded.

Coincidences didn’t occur in Seoul’s gangland. Only preconceived moves and warnings. Anything could be the beginning of an all out war.

He bust into the upstairs area. Didn’t mean to, but his heart was pounding with anxiety. Controlled anxiety, something that only existed in the heart of a maniac who needed it to fuel his outstanding decisions.

Turning the corner for the laboratory, he stopped and felt all the air fill his lungs and just breathed. His little one was safe, unaware, and it was a lifesaver. He gripped onto the railing of the stairs to steady himself, energy flashing through his body like a blur.

Jungkook was on the floor next to Namjoon. In his hands was a broken down contraption. Some pieces filled it’s innards, others were strewn about like dropped pennies.

His ears were perked in concentration, sock-clad foot brushing against the floor absentmindedly to somehow propel his problem solving skills.

Both of them looked up at the sound of boots.

“Tae!”

Namjoon smiled and shrugged sheepishly. “Sorry. He didn’t want to be alone.”

“It’s okay. I wouldn’t want to be alone either,” he said softly, clicking down the stairs languidly, forcing his body to slow down. “What are you doing, bunny?”

Jungkook looked up from his jimmying and smiled brightly, reaching out for Taehyung’s sleeve to tug him down. He happily knelt down for the hybrid, raising his eyebrows expectedly.

“Joonie took this apart and told me to put it back together. Said it would keep my mind off things."

Appreciation on his face, Taehyung looked over to the inventor with soft eyes that anyone could see the overthinking behind.

“Thank you.”

“Any time you need it, you just tell me.”

“Tae?”

Taehyung looked back to him, fond eyes flicking down to his working hands. “Yeah?”

“What… what’s going on with that guy?”

He shared a look with Namjoon. When they got more information, Jungkook would have to be alone—even for just ten minutes—because Namjoon was about to have his hands full and his computers bursting at the seams.

If they didn’t get answers tonight, they needed to scour every surveillance camera in Seoul, in South Korea if they had to. Investigate the milky tattoo. Do the research that often left new bags under Namjoon’s eyes.

But the inventor knew what was in store for him if answers weren’t dropped at their feet. It was inevitable. It was his job.

“I don’t know yet. He won’t give us anything. Jimin’s talking to him now.”

“Talking… like…”

“Interrogating. He’s asking him questions and prying him for answers. That’s what Jimin does really well. He gets the bad men to talk.”

“What’d you think about the guy?” Namjoon asked him, after tearing his eyes off the hybrid.

“Didn’t even look up while we were in there. If he wasn’t moving his fingers, I’d say he was paralyzed. He knows where he is and no one gets captured here without showing the whites of their eyes,” Taehyung said. “Guy had lines tattooed under his eyes. Milky white. Ever seen ‘em?”

“White lines? Never. White tattoos belong to nothing in South Korea. It doesn’t really make any statements, but under the eyes… that’s too much of one. Strange.”

“My thoughts exactly. A freakshow. He was clean, but lacking on weight.”

“Could be a newbie they just snatched off the street, sent on a suicide mission, signed his life away, and didn’t tell him a damn thing. Still skinny from no food and the drugs on the streets.”

“Could be…” Taehyung pondered. “Throwing one of their men out there like a frog in steadily boiling water, though? Risky.”

“I fear what that could mean.”

“They have enough numbers to throw them out like field mice with cameras strapped to their backs.”

Jungkook asked, “Are they watching us?” much like a child who overheard his parents arguing about an increase in the electricity bill.

“I don’t know, baby. We’re figuring it out, though.” Taehyung smoothed the boy’s bangs down. “In the meantime, let’s just stay in here for a bit. Keep putting that together. I could use a second to think.”

In the blue lights, Jungkook picked apart the device. He was supposed to be putting it back together, but when things didn’t fit right, he started all over. Namjoon tried to explain that he could just backpedal a couple steps, but Jungkook said, “If I’m going to do it, Joonie, I want to do it from the beginning.”

Repetition. That was his method of learning. Whispering new words under his breath, putting a tricky shirt on over and over again until his elbow didn’t get caught, twisting the shower knobs three times when he forgot what direction they turned in. Starting at the first part when his devise building got stiff and tight.

Fifteen minutes since Taehyung entered the room and Jungkook clasped the back of the device closed, held it up in the air proudly, and squeaked Taehyung’s name. The leader’s eyes popped open, head leant back on the wall to rest.

“Did you do it?”

“Yeah! But I don't know what it does,” he murmured, turning it over in his hands.

“Let’s not mess with it. You might press a button and explode something downstairs.” Taehyung sat up and leaned closer to him, talking over Namjoon’s quiet clapping. “You put this back together all on your own, huh?”

“Uh-huh,” he beamed with a twitchy nose and hopping ears.

“My baby’s so smart,” Taehyung fretted and cradled the device to his stomach. He ruffled the top of Jungkook’s fluffy head and pulled him in for a forehead kiss. “If we aren’t careful, you might just be our next hacker.”

“Hacker?” he asked, eyes already sparkling like data was flashing in the reflections of his irises.

Realistically, he was just humoring the boy. At the moment. His social skills and mentality were too inferior to even enlist him in a job that required expertise and high levels of understanding and quick thinking, but given a couple years, he might have something completely different on his hands.

Jungkook clearly had a higher leveled brain power. He excelled considering his conditions and past, and furthered himself as a person tremendously farther than Taehyung could have ever expected. Most people took steps. Jungkook took jumps.

But that didn’t mean he was ready for anything big. For the time being, he was just Taehyung’s baby, and he was more than content with that job title.

“Namjoon does everything technical here. When we need someone behind enemy lines, or an eye through the cameras, or we need to infiltrate their data to either obtain information or destroy it, he hacks into their systems. He takes over all of their technology,” Taehyung said, examining the mystery device. “You up for a big job like that?”

“Does it work?” was all Jungkook asked in response, nodding towards the device. It’s lights were dead.

Taehyung blinked down at it, and found the switch on the back of the cover. He flipped it up, and watched the seams blare a liquid green, and the screen flash a blue start-up screen, inputting data it had lost in it’s death screen.

Namjoon said, “It senses movements in a radius of seventeen miles. It maps out every step taken.” He sniffed a grin. “It didn’t work before.”

Eyebrows up and bottom lip low, Taehyung said, “Big job my ass.”

Namjoon gave the boy something else to fiddle with—which Taehyung first asked what it was so nothing blasted the walls down if Jungkook misplaced a piece—and Taehyung resumed his resting.

Chest rising and falling steadily, he hardly moved for the hours they spent in Namjoon’s nook. The blue lights put him into a placid state, head combing over their next steps, the million options he had before him. And the very one he’d have to bet all his chips on.

Three hours. It never took three hours for Jimin to web up his victims. His tantalizing fingers wrapped them up like dying bugs, spun them in beautiful silk just like the glint in his eyes and the sheen on his lips. They always came willingly to him like broken apart cases of mommy and daddy issues, feeding right into his sweet voice.

But at the three hour mark, when Jimin stood at the top of the stairs with a solemn look and a measly smile towards the hybrid he normally tripped over, Taehyung knew they’d met a new foe.

“Taehyung,” Jimin said, and beckoned him up the stairs. His eyes darted over to Jungkook. “You stay there, sweetness.”

The bunny sank back to the floor, wilted ears perking up when Taehyung rubbed over them.

“I’ll be back, Jungkook. I promise I won’t be long. Namjoon, go ahead and take him back to my room. He needs to eat something. Make sure he gets full, okay?”

“Fill him up. Got it.”

“And no more building. His fingers are turning red.”

He left Jungkook in his wake, already annoyed with this new inconvenience. Whoever this was, they were cutting into the boy’s recovery time. Every second was crucial and white lined men were inserting themselves.

Jimin didn’t say a word until they scaled the stairs that dropped them back to their rooms, but no sleep for them. More heinous work awaited them.

“You don’t look like you have good news for me.”

“He won’t speak. Not a damn word. Not even a sound. Eerily void of any emotion.”

“There’s no blood on you. Maybe that’s way.”

“I never get blood on me. I’m not a behemoth like you. I know how to use my utensils,” Jimin said, sticking out his ring finger. A drop of blood stained the tip. “Took his ears but it felt like it was fucking mine because the maniac didn’t even open his mouth.”

“He didn’t open his mouth?”

“No. Not a sound.”

“So what are you thinking?”

“I think he completed what he was sent here to do. I think he’s waiting to die.”

The cobbled stairway to the holding cells echoed their steps off the walls.

“It’s not going to be that easy. I’m not letting our only clue get away that easy. There’s a group out there who know where we are. If he dies, our only chance of figuring this out is dead too.”

“The risks are high, Taehyung. We’re almost on code red right now. Any minute now—”

“Any minute now we could be attacked. I know."

They trickled into the room, Taehyung’s chest starting to grow hot. What a fucking annoyance. The unknown was as annoying as annoying got. It left him without answers. Left him floating.

A man always in control spun when he lost the joystick.

The guards were steered to the side to avoid the gruesome mess left behind Jimin’s work.

Jimin’s methods were particular. His spider webs were neat, never overlapped, and had a pattern. The pattern was whispering in ears, drawing them in, but when words couldn’t entice, he tightened his silk and cut through their skin with a dainty, fine brutality.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, indeed.

The absence of his ears left open caverns in his head, the inner workings of his ear canal open like an unearthed ant colony. The cuts were cleanly severed, no carnage left behind. That was where his and Taehyung’s techniques differed. Flesh and blood wasn’t tossed around the room like an opened blender spun with body parts.

Jimin liked to keep things sanitary. Minus the gloves. They got in the way of picking eyelashes out until the eyes under them seeped red.

Small cuts lined the man’s throat, circling his adam’s apple, none deep enough to make trails of blood. Cuts in his knuckles made his fingernails quiver.

Their guest didn’t look up.

“You’ve got a fighting spirit. And sealed lips. I don’t like sealed lips,” Taehyung growled, looming over him, hand itching for the dagger on the table. “You came onto my grounds. You belong to someone, dead man. Someone coward enough to send you my way and keep your mouth shut.” Nothing. “I can find out who you are. It’ll be the easiest thing I’ve done in my career. And trust that when I do, I will find everyone you have ever crossed paths with. I will find out where you came from, so I can sniff out where you went.”

Taehyung hovered his hand over the gaping hole in his head.

“Your mother. Your father. Whoever is still breathing and can give me an answer because you wouldn’t. That’s what happens when you cast the first stone, bottom feeder. You better be ready to tell me where to throw mine or I will bury every single thing you’ve known since you took your first step.”

The man breathed harsh, and his jaw churned, dropping hard, words building up in the back of his throat but just weighing down his mouth.

Taehyung knitted his brows. That wasn’t the face men made when you tried to tear words out of their mouth. They clenched their jaws and shook their heads and replaced information with short, begging words.

“Jimin?”

“Yeah?”

Eyes glued on the man’s mouth, Taehyung said soberly, “Did you think to check his mouth?”

“His mouth?”

“Wish you were the type to pull teeth,” he grumbled, grabbed the man by his chin, and squeezed his jaw until it popped open. “You’ve gone and made a mute man deaf.”

Jimin’s eyes widened.

In the pinks of his irritated and infected mouth, he had no tongue. Half of it was chopped off, edges jagged and stitched up. Looked like it was done in the last week. And by the infection in the stitching, his days were numbered.

“This wasn’t a suicide mission,” Jimin said in disbelief. “This was a death sentence.”

“And he isn’t wired with a mic. He’s got a camera on him,” Taehyung hissed. “Where is it?”

Whoever sat on the other side of that camera knew the route to their base, through the front doors, and down to the holding cells. They’d already gotten behind doors.

The unknown nosed towards the pocket of his flannel button up. Jimin grabbed the button, and lined his finger alongside the front of it until it lifted over a miniscule bump as small as a grain of rice. Grabbing it, he found something else. The tip of paper deep in his pocket.

He smashed the camera under his boot while Taehyung snatched the paper from him, unravelling it.

In dark black ink wrote:

death to the viper and the siren

“Oh, lovely,” Jimin said with a frown. “They’ve got it out personally for me now.”

Only those in it to spill blood and dodge bullets called Jimin by his sworn name. The Siren. A distractingly beautiful phenomenon that tempted wayward souls with his sweet voice and captivating smile, but when trusted, those full lips were topped off with fangs and inviting eyes stormed with disastrous desires. A siren who called men to bed to strangle them with the sheets.

Unlike Taehyung, who boasted proudly with the title Viper, Jimin worked in the shadows, therefore, so did his sworn name. It was only said in the dark. Never bravely written on paper.

“What the fuck,” Taehyung said plainly, sick of wit and punchlines.

They looked back to the man, still grasping onto the situation. He opened his jaw, wedged it back and forth, until a pill spilled onto his tongue.

“Wait—!” Jimin shouted, and dove down for the pill, grabbing him by his head, but the pill fell down his throat before either of them could stop it.

Wide eyes stared up at Jimin as he sent his own death upon himself, and suddenly the espionage didn’t want to be touching him anymore. There were the whites of his eyes. Taehyung called it, but he never thought it would be this way.

The man’s eyes rolled in the back of his head, and the pill that had to be three-hundred milligrams or more from the size of it took its toll on the body that couldn’t weigh more than 140 lbs. His head stiffened and his muscles roped together, until his body began to jerk in half seconds of convulsions.

Jimin stepped back, letting go of his convulsing head like it’d burned him, bumping into Taehyung. Foam speckled his clicking throat. His convulsions lasted less than a minute, before he dropped lifeless.

Taehyung dragged a hand through his hair. “Cyanide.”

“That wasn’t a lethal dose. That was a biohazardous dose.”

“They weren’t risking a single word from him. Tongue or not…” Taehyung shut his eyes. “We aren’t dealing with alleyway ruffians. He came from a psychotic hole in the wall. Somewhere hidden. Somewhere off our radar.”

“I didn’t think anything was off our radar. If they’re new, they’ve got good connections if they can get their hands on high dosage cyanide capsules.”

“The only concern I have is how they found my men, and how the fuck I’m going to kill every last one of them when I find them,” Taehyung growled. “No one else is getting off easy with a pill. Take a picture of the tattoos, send it to Namjoon, and tell him if he doesn’t look at every intersection, over every gas station counter, through the dingiest alleyway he can find, I’ll find him a new job in cleaning the breakers.”

“Hot damn, we’re back at it,” Jimin said, cracking his neck. “Never a break for us. I want a vacation after this. If I’m not drinking from a coconut by the end of the year, I’m putting in for retirement.”

“If you retire, I’m pulling your plug,” Taehyung said nonchalantly. “I need to talk to you real quick before I talk to patrol. We’re gonna go up to eight at all times. I want this place covered.”

“I’ll join them tonight.”

“You don’t have to.”

“But I’m going to. We’ve got Jungkook now. The last thing he needs is an attack just two weeks into being here. His recovery is going to plunge into the water the second he feels unsafe.”

“He’s what I need to talk to you about.”

“You’re so predictable. The spark in this relationship is gone,” Jimin said, and turned towards the guards. “Search him for any other secrets. Toss him after. I don’t want a nameless nobody down here.”

The guards didn’t say anything. They were just relieved this one was called dibs by Jimin. Cleaning up after him took hours less than Taehyung.

The hallways were empty. Jimin waited patiently, peaking over at him for every minute he didn’t speak. Taehyung wasn’t a man of speaking, even if he was a man of words, but when he needed to clear his mouth, he normally got it out as soon as possible, even if they had an audience.

He was waiting for the right moment, and that meant Jimin needed to pay close attention.

“He’s in my room now and I don’t want him to hear us. Your room.”

“What is this? You aren’t planning on getting rid of him, are you?” Jimin asked, looking back at him when he unlocked his door. It stayed locked even if he was inside of it.

“God, no. Clean your mouth out with soap.”

“Well, sorry, but what else am I supposed to think with that look on your face?” Jimin asked, falling back on his bed. He kicked his feet before letting his heels sit on the floor. “Taehyung, you really keep me on my toes, big boy.”

“Shut up,” he grumbled and sat next to Jimin.

“You’re nervous. Wow. You’re nervous.”

“I’m not nervous.”

“You’re nervous. Tell me what’s going on, Tae. I’m done being a wench. I’m listening.”

“I’ve been doing some research,” he started, looking at Jimin suspiciously, waiting for a smart remark that didn’t come. “I’ve been learning about hybrids… and rabbit hybrids in general. Not their care, I already did that, but what makes them hybrids. Half animal. What makes them different from us.”

“Besides their ears and tails. I’m on board with you.”

“And I found out a lot. Most of it I’m not having any issues coming to grips with. They need special attention. They need affection, warmth, support, ownership. I get all that. But there’s some shit they don’t tell you about, Jimin.”

“Okay. Then tell me what it is. It can’t be anything we can’t handle.”

“It might be. It might be the first thing that’s intimidated me in years.”

“Hell, what is it, Taehyung.”

“Rabbit hybrids have heats.”

Jimin’s fuse blew. His lights went out. “Huh?”

“They have heats. No other hybrid has them because the genetic mutations were only implanted in rabbit hybrids for the experimentation. It went through years of testing years ago, but they ended up cutting it because the mutation was too unpredictable. The other hybrids were never implanted, but it was too late for the rabbits,” Taehyung said. “The fucking mutations were done before Jungkook was born. It’s in him. He has it. He has heats.”

“Heats?” Jimin asked, dumb. “Like when cats rub all over everything and hike their asses up? Like the type that makes dogs jump fences? Those heats?”

“Yes, those heats. He goes into season.”

“He… alright, Taehyung, you got me. I’m stumped. I’ve got nothing. I don’t even want to talk about this when it’s about that baby in there.”

“I realize that, Jimin, so just imagine the frenzy that’s been in my head all day. I found out last night and had to sleep next to him. It’s the owner’s job to get them through it. How am I supposed to get him through it?”

“Literally. Actually. What does it mean that you have to get him through it?”

“It means I—Christ, don’t make me say it, Jimin.”

“You punched a hole in our hotel in Japan when we followed the Yangs across the fucking continent, so you’re gonna say it.”

“I have to fuck him until it’s over, alright? Fuck. That. I have to do that. I have to help him through it because he can’t do it himself. Apparently, it drives them crazy and it… it hurts, and if an owner isn’t there to aleve the pain, they just suffer.”

“This is…” Jimin said. “Him? The boy in that room, right?”

“That boy. Jungkook.”

“Has he… do you know if he’s had a heat before? I mean, he’s old enough, surely. Why hasn’t he mentioned it before? He’s horrible at keeping personal things to himself.”

“He hasn't mentioned it once. And there’s more to it.”

Jimin slung his head back. “Oh, more. Of course there is.”

“There’s awakenings in every hybrid. Jungkook already had his first one, even if he doesn’t realize it yet. He had his emotional awakening the first night with me. He didn’t understand why he was so quick to bond with me, and I didn’t either until I re-educated myself on the dynamics.”

“We should’ve taken the damn hybrid course in high school. Would’ve really came in handy.”

“You were the one who talked me out of it. Don’t forget that,” Taehyung reminded him. “Well, the next step, the sexual awakening. You remember that one?”

“When they get comfortable and feel safe with their owners, they go through it. Yeah. I remember. Heightened senses, sensitive skin, pushable pressure points. Poor things turn into pin cushions.”

“Apparently not a lot of them get to have that awakening because theirs owners are shitty and don’t make any effort in giving humanity any hope,” Taehyung said in a spontaneous bout of human hatred. “But when they do reach it, that’s when their heat cycles start.”

“Well how often? How long? When is this kid going to go through hell’s puberty?”

“It said cycles are different for everyone, but most rabbit hybrids averaged at four days at a time, once a year,” Taehyung explained. “But Jimin, I don’t know if this is clicking with you or not the same way it is for me, but that means… how am I supposed to do that?”

“Forget the heat for a second. His sexual awakening is going to come first. That’s what you need to worry about,” Jimin said. “That could happen any time.”

“But it’s not like a craving of some sort. It just makes them more sensitive. Opens more doors for them with intimacy. If we’re not doing anything intimate, he won’t need to have any cravings. He can just masturbate like every other normal boy.”

“First of all, gross. I don’t want to think about that precious bun-bun doing that,” Jimin said with a scowl. “Now, I’ve got an out of the blue question for you, Taehyung, because you know I like to give you those.”

“I know. You’re a masochist.”

“But you have to take me seriously first.”

“I always take you seriously.”

Jimin’s face flat panned. “Taehyung. No more joking. Take a deep breath in, forget about the heats and the white lined tattoos, and give me an honest answer. Even if it takes you all night.”

“Just fucking give it to me.”

“You’ve been with Jungkook for two weeks. You’ve bonded. You’ve grown close. The fondness you have for him is something I have never seen on you before, and that boy absolutely adores you,” Jimin said calmly, and spoke over the ever growing anxiety in Taehyung’s hands. “You’ve shared a bed, kissed him everywhere but his lips—”

“Jimin.”

Everywhere but his lips,” Jimin maintained, strong and stubborn and reminding Taehyung that interrupting him never worked out well. “Now you need to tell me, are you sure that by the time he hits his second awakening, you won’t already be intimate?”

“We’re done,” Taehyung said, and pushed himself off the bed.

“We are not done,” Jimin countered, and yanked him back down by his arm.

Taehyung’s instinct was to reel around and put a bruise around his eye, but the last time he turned Jimin purple was three years ago and he still had nightmares of it. He instead dropped his hand on Jimin’s thigh and strickened like a boa.

“Jungkook has been through enough. I don’t care what happens inside of me, I won’t ever be like the Opalites.”

“The Opalites hurt him for their own greed. You will never be like them. If you ever laid a hand on that boy, it would be with love and you have to see that.”

“I promised him no one would ever touch him again. I am in that promise.”

“Touch him in a way that he didn’t want it—”

“He never will after what they did to him!”

“He can and he will! Have you not already seen it, you blind bat? That boy absolutely loves your attention, trusts you with every inch of his skin. Hybrids are biologically engineered to seek relationships with owners they bond with and he bonded with you. That was his decision, Taehyung,” Jimin drilled into his head. “I’m not saying he’s out for sex, because that baby is tired and just wants to be loved, but in the up coming months, years if that’s what it takes, if he wants to kiss you, wants more from this, can you swear that you’ll have no feelings?”

“I can’t—Jimin, you don’t get it.”

“Oh, I get it. I get that you run from things that could mess with your head and get in the way of the main mission. Things that you can’t control,” Jimin said. “I get you. You’re absolutely Goddamn terrified of that hybrid because you know he could change everything any second now.”

“You say any of this like there’s something there already.”

“I see it. I see it when you two are together. It hasn’t bloomed yet, it isn’t grown yet, but it’s there. You’re so worried about what you’ll do for his second awakening and what you’ll do for his heats, when you need to worry about what you’re going to tonight and tomorrow and the next day,” Jimin said. “You’ve got a hybrid in your room right now, who only knows you. And he’s been drowning for years, but you’re teaching him how to swim, and you’re scared that putting your own feelings in the mix will hinder that. Am I right?”

“I don’t—”

“Am I right?”

“He isn’t a normal hybrid that I just got all squeaky and clean from the store. He’s broken. He’s been picked apart by vultures and I… if I feel something, I don’t want to be just another person who put their hormones before his recovery.”

“You are his recovery, Taehyung. The second he met you, all he’s wanted to do is learn by your side.”

“But none of this means anything if I don’t even feel anything for Jungkook.”

“But you especially never will if you don’t face this first. I know you won’t. You’ll bury that mess as deep as you can and internalize it.”

“There isn’t a point to any of this,” Taehyung sighed. “None of it matters. Not when he just needs to get better.”

“It does matter, dimwit. The point is that you’re going to keep sleeping in the same bed. You’re going to keep spending your days and nights by each other. You’re going to keep bonding. It’s going to get stronger, even. And before you know it, his DNA is going to pack him up for a trip on the love train and you’re gonna have to be prepared to hop on or stay at the station.”

“Fucking stupid analogy.”

“You’re fucking stupid. Keep up.”

“I hear you. I do.”

“Then if you hear me, answer me. If any of that clung to your mushy, little brain, you’ll be able to answer my original question: will you have feelings for him?” Jimin asked again, refusing to be ignored again.

“I don’t know if I will.”

“Then how about this. You tell me you don’t know again and you’re lying straight to my face. Do you have feelings for him now?”

“I think I… even if I did, I couldn’t.”

“That’s not what I asked. Do you?” Jimin pushed.

Jimin.

“I’m asking not because I’m nosy. Not because I’m dreaming of a day that you two share your vows. I’m asking because that boy looks at you like you lit the sun’s light with a match all on your own and you treat him like the last gem the Opalites ever dug up.”

“I… I don’t know what it feels like to like someone, Jimin. I wasn’t made to be in a relationship,” Taehyung said like a broken stallion that had bucked until the sun fell. “I was made to order the underground grime, not love something. I can’t tell you if I like him.”

“Then tell me this. If he kissed you right now, would you push him away?”

“If you kissed me, I wouldn’t. That means nothing.”

Jimin rolled his eyes. “We’re different. If he were just a pet to you, just a hybrid, you would be uncomfortable. It would be a line crossed.”

“If he kissed me, I… I wouldn’t push him away, no.”

“Then there you have it,” Jimin said with a smile and patted the hand that had long loosened on his thigh. “You won’t have any problems by the time his second awakening comes.”


Jungkook ate dinner quieter than normal. Taehyung kept stealing glances of him, worried that maybe his teeth were starting to hurt him. His trusted dentist couldn’t get him in until the start of next week.

Upon further investigation, he decided the boy was just heavy in the head with thoughts. He kept asking questions about the movie they were watching, not catching small lines like he normally would. He was distracted.

“Jungkook?” Taehyung asked when he stacked their plates on the bedside table.

“Hm?” the boy hummed, pulling the blankets over his knees, eyes on the sheets. Normally he kept eye contact because he hadn’t been allowed to for so long.

“Is everything okay? You seem a little out of it tonight. Did your ointment hurt, or your teeth?”

Just asking those questions inflated the internal war in Taehyung’s head. The kid was still applying his ointment for rectal tears, and his teeth were riddled with cavities and rot from years of not brushing them. This wasn’t a living creature that was to be sexualized in any kind of way.

And for Taehyung, for some crooked reason in his crooked head, thinking of kissing Jungkook felt as intimate as a long night. He was so hands-off that anything felt like third base.

“No. Nothing hurts. I… I’m sorry, Tae. I didn’t mean to be quiet.”

“Don’t apologize,” Taehyung said with a frown. “You can have nights where you’re quiet. I have those nights too. It’s normal. But the reason is always important. Is there a reason you’re quiet?”

“Yeah,” he said softly, wiggling further down in his pillow. “That guy scared me today.”

“He won’t hurt you, Jungkook. He’s already gone.”

“I know he won’t. But if he found us… I’m scared someone else might, and they’re going to take me from you,” Jungkook said, ears falling over like the air in the room was too harsh. “I don’t want someone to take me away.”

“Hey,” Taehyung hushed, and made his way back to the bed. “No one is going to take you from me. You don’t have to think about that.”

“But I do, because I only want to be with you, and you said the bad people out there might try to get to me. What if they do get me?”

“They won’t. I’m not letting anyone take you from me. Do you hear me, bunny?” Taehyung asked, and grabbed one of the hands that gripped the blanket tightly. “That man that made it to our grounds today was the only one. We’re figuring out where he came from now and when we do, I’ll wipe them away like they never existed, and you won’t have to worry about a thing.”

Jungkook nodded hesitantly and finally looked up at him, eyes slightly glassy just at the thought of being snatched from Taehyung. His ears twitched when he shimmied up the pillow and tentatively touched the arm extended to him.

“Can you please hold me?”

The blood thirsty Viper melted like hot chocolate, smile like oozing marshmallow. He patted his own thigh and kept the arm that Jungkook touched perfectly still, never one to ruin art.

“You don’t have to ask. Just put yourself in my arms and I’ll know what you need.”

The hybrid unravelled his legs from the blanket and crawled over, hair falling into his eyes. He squirmed into the opening of Taehyung’s legs, bunched his knees against Taehyung’s front, and rested his head on his shoulder. The embrace that wrapped so fruitfully around him turned his cheeks pink and strummed the strings of his heart.

Taehyung’s chest rose against him and his sigh was warm in his hair. Hands cascading over a thick sweater, the two fell easily into each other.

“Always feels so nice right here,” Jungkook said.

“Yeah? It’s where you belong. Right here,” Taehyung said before he could stop himself. “With me.”

His mouth was an avalanche. Piles of nonsense just flooding out of him and there was nothing he could do about it. Perhaps he had his own awakenings to go through.

And Jimin unscrewed the top to his emotional awakening.

“You take good care of me,” he murmured.

“It’s simply what a boy like you deserves. I have yet to understand what your past owners didn’t understand about that,” Taehyung said gruffly. “I don’t do a lot of good in this world, but doing right by you is all I want to do.”

“Tae?”

“Yes, little one?”

“If someone ever took me, would you get me back?”

“Jungkook, if someone took you from me, all of these gangs would realize that their so-called Viper doesn’t play nearly as rough as they think I can. If they thought I was dangerous before, take you and see what happens,” Taehyung nearly growled, smoothing back his ears. “I’d tear this town to shreds to get you back.”

Jungkook whined into his neck, nosing harder against him.

"Thank you."

“I dealt with that man so swiftly because I have you now. Don’t forget that. Everything is more at stake now. I have more to anchor down at home than I ever have.”

Jungkook leant back in his hold, knees falling apart just enough to open some room between them. Jungkook was closer to him than his heart could take right now with an overactive mind reeling in his head.

“Today, you said you didn’t want to have to forget me. So you have to promise me you won’t,” he said, and the little shake in his voice came from the little show of bravery. “That you’ll keep me forever. That I can keep feeling this way with you.”

“I’m never letting you go unless you want to leave, Jungkook. I promise you. And even then, I’ll have an eye on you from every street corner to make sure you were always safe,” Taehyung said. “But can you tell me something? What do you feel?”

Because I don’t know how to feel, and maybe an emotionally scarred hybrid knows how to do that better than I do.

“I’ve never felt it before so I don’t really know. I feel warm. Does that count?”

“It counts.”

“I feel warm and I feel fuzzy in my cheeks. My chest kind of… when you hum, you know that feeling? That’s what my chest feels like. And I just want to smile, and touch you. I like touching you.”

Taehyung smiled down at him. “Those are a lot of feelings. Good feelings. And they’re all for me.”

“What do you feel?”

“Belonging,” he said without thinking. He supposes that was what people meant when they said from the heart. “I feel belonging. I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I haven’t felt that in a long time.”

He tucked one of his hands underneath Jungkook’s ear and cradled it, brushing a sweet thumb over it, mesmerized by how soft his fur was. It was satin white and felt like it too.

The boy truly did astonish him in every way possible.

Even now. Especially now, when Jungkook’s eyes lingered on his lips and his free ear drooped to the side and he looked so conflicted with himself. Taehyung could feel the sweating set in—inside and out—just by listening to the angel and the devil going on and on into his ears.

He was defeated. The Viper had been conquered by a rabbit.

Jungkook kissed him, soft and pure and lasting only two seconds. Long enough to introduce their lips, but short enough to make Taehyung forget how it felt immediately after.

They were as sugary as he imagined them to be. Soft as snow. The little air that tucked into Jungkook’s mouth rocked his spine with chills.

He blinked at the hybrid and said with empty lungs, “What did that mean?”

Jungkook’s eyes fell to the sheets and the red of his cheeks bled into his bottom eyelashes.

“I don’t know. I just wanted to.”

“Okay,” he said carefully. “Do you know what kisses mean?”

“Mhm,” he hummed. “I do. I want you to feel like I feel. Taken care of. Loved. If I belong here, then so do you, because you belong to me too.”

“But… sorry, you’ve officially brought me to my knees. That’s never happened before. I’m lost. You kissed me, Jungkook. On the lips.”

“Does it have to mean something?”

“Well, if I asked you how you feel now, would it be any different?”

“Maybe,” Jungkook said shyly. “Maybe I’d say that I want to kiss you again.”

Scorn Jimin. Write his name in the skies of hell. Sell his soul to the devil for practicing witchcraft. Go back in time and never help him escape from that cannibalistic tribe in Thailand that listed his lips at a hefty cost of half a thousand online.

If he had just kept his mouth shut.

Chapter Text

 April 25th

Taehyung was frazzled when he dragged himself to the outside of the base to speak with patrol. His lips were still buzzing. It didn’t make any sense, but he swore they felt like they were going to float off of his face.

When he got there, he had one thing on his mind and another in front of his face. He had important matters in his bedroom and on his grounds and all over Seoul and if one more person put another problem in his hands, he was going to implode and kill someone—literally.

That quote-unquote joke wasn’t laughed at when it came from his mouth.

Three stood before the front entrance. They all turned their heads to the door swinging open in the silent night. Dealing with the mute stranger put them right into the middle of the night, exhausting them all the more than they already were.

“Hey,” Taehyung greeted. “Everything look okay so far?”

“Nothing out of the ordinary. It’s been quiet,” one said.

“I’m assuming that because there are three of you here, someone already informed you of the change in numbers. That we're increasing them until the threat is eliminated.”

“Yes, sir,” another said. “Jimin told us. Said you had some matters to attend to in the meantime. He assigned four more to the watch.”

“He out there too?”

“Yes, sir. He joined five of them out on the parameter.”

Taehyung glanced off into the woods begrudgingly. He didn’t want the assassin to put himself out there in the first place. Not like he’d sleep anyway, but at least he’d be indoors and in his own bed. Not that the other men on watch weren’t a priority to Taehyung, but Jimin wasn’t a priority—he was the reason.

“Alright. Make sure when the morning patrol comes in to relieve you, he makes it back inside. If I find out he kept walking those woods, someone’s ass is fired.”

“Yes, sir,” they all said.

Havoc was banished to the outside world where gangs popped bullets into anyone and anybody who looked at them wrong.

But it had made it inside. Inside of Taehyung’s room, when his whole body gloomed into a crisis at the sight of Jungkook snuggled up with his pillow, fast asleep.

He tried to be quiet, but the day’s events left him harsh to the touch and uncaring of heavy footsteps and goliath hands that just grabbed and flung.

The day had been busy, even for the hybrid. Not a wince to his eyes in all of Taehyung’s bedtime ritual. Not bothering with a shower, Taehyung settled with simply changing into something more comfortable and combing through his hand-swept hair.

The bed dipped. The hybrid didn’t move. He pulled the covers over him, sat up to ensure he’d left plenty on the other side, and stretched over Jungkook to steal the other pillow. There was no way in hell he was taking his back from a snuggling bunny.

He waited, expecting the other to wake up at his presence and squirm closer to him, take up his body and surge his body temperature up by three degrees. Waited, and waited, until he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore.

He fell asleep without seeing Jungkook move. The bunny was passed out, and his last thoughts before exhaustion knocked him out was how much of a toll today must’ve taken on the boy.


Time switched over to 3:45 in the morning when Taehyung roused awake from what he thought would be a deep enough sleep to carry him through the night. When his head was heavy, he either slept like a baby or woke up periodically like one too.

He peeled an eye open and rubbed his face into his pillow, chest jumping up in a deep breath. Legs strained in a stretch, he went limp with eyes closed and body content.

Turns out his skills in being easily disturbed while sleeping had dulled to the touch when he welcomed Jungkook in his life. Because a living, breathing, could’ve been a threat thing was pressed against his back, hand balled up on his side and forehead on his upper back.

Taehyung had to remind himself he had a hybrid before he reached under the mattress for his concealed weapon. Gun or knife, he’d use either on an unwelcome visitor.

He took a calming breath, pushed down the unkind urges, and fed the hungry beast in his chest with a shivering hand. Harming Jungkook was his biggest fear, and the only one always on his doorstep.

He gently took the little fist on his side and held onto it, listening closely to the quick breath Jungkook took in. Being touched in his sleep still sparked him with a crackle of fear, waking him up to look for what hell might be enforced upon him.

But for the last two weeks, all he’d woken up to were soft eyes and a quiet how’d you end up over there?

He blinked up, eyes fighting a losing battle, and pulled his hand in front of his face, confused as to why the other was entrapped in Taehyung’s.

“The pillow wasn’t enough, I see,” Taehyung husked and dropped back down next to Jungkook, one eye cracked and the other weak to the world.

Jungkook shook his head into the pillow. “No. It’s not you.”

“C’mere, you little thing,” he said, pulling at Jungkook’s hand. Metal had burned away his fingerprints and tenderness, but he somehow always found it in himself to do things carefully with this boy. “Sorry to wake you, but I couldn’t let you keep sleeping against a wall.”

“Your back’s okay,” Jungkook said, even though they both knew it was just to satiate Taehyung.

All those years spent on straw gave him a heedy need for comfort when sleeping and a back just didn’t suffice. He needed arms. A moving chest. A chin just above his head.

He wiggled in against Taehyung’s chest, ears falling to accompany the little space. Taehyung had said before that he didn’t mind them in his face, but you wouldn’t catch Jungkook doing it unless it was accidental.

Hearing Taehyung sniff when the tip of his ear brushed his nose was plenty reason for Jungkook to bend them.

The small things were earthbreaking for Jungkook, because all he’d ever had was big things actually rocking him to the core. It was Taehyung getting comfortable against him, draping an arm around him. That arm stirring so his shoulder could rest. Taehyung nosing into the pillow above Jungkook’s head, breathing out of his mouth and sucking back in the permission to sleep.

Jungkook tumbled right down to his stomach for it all, felt it in his indulged gut. Never did he ever know how good it could feel to be a pampered hybrid.

“Go back to sleep,” Taehyung whispered.

“When did you come to bed?”

“Doesn’t matter. Late. I’m here now,” he answered, the night pulling his words to the sheets. “And you got in early… the only thing I’m interested in. Go back to sleep.”

The cottontail didn’t pursue answers, though he was realizing with time that Taehyung didn’t make much time for himself. He buried himself in the mafia, gave it every last limb he had before he dumped himself back to his bed when the night had already settled in to the sky.

Jungkook folded his ears lower, laid them out on the bed just like him. No tickling Taehyung tonight.


April 26th

“Why can’t I go?”

Taehyung had opened a can of worms. He blamed himself, took a hundred percent of responsibility for it, but when they were wriggling about and were virtually indestructible, it didn’t help him when he already didn’t know how to handle being an owner.

He broke the news to Jungkook that he was setting off today with Jimin to get some necessities for their new rabbit, and seeing as how both of them were impulsive owners, they knew beforehand they were going to get in over their heads and climb down a rabbit hole.

But the punchline was that Jungkook wasn’t coming with them.

“Because we’re going to stores. Big stores, with lots of people. Small stores, cramped with people crammed in like sardines. You don’t need to be around people of any sort right now.”

“But I… you’re going for me,” he argued weakly, because he didn’t have one hard bone in his body. “I want to go with you. I don’t want to stay here.”

Taehyung buttoned up the third to last button on his shirt and dropped his shoulders. “Sweetness, you can’t.”

“But why?”

“Because if someone brushes against you or looks at you or even looks in your direction, I’m gonna itch for the gun I have concealed on me and I’m supposed to be under the radar right now,” he said low in his throat.

Jungkook’s hands—missing in his long sleeves and cozy in between his legs—hooked around each other, nose to the sheets and ears unsure.

“Oh.”

“Don’t look like that. I don’t have a choice in this either.” When he didn’t get an answer, Taehyung sighed towards the sky and flattened Jungkook’s ears down. “Hybrids are treated like attractions out there. Make you a rabbit hybrid and I’m going to have my hands full. Give me some time, let me get myself contained, and I’ll take you out, okay?”

“But you won’t, Tae.”

“I won’t what?”

“You’ll never get yourself contained because you always call me your baby and people are always going to look at me,” he said sadly, lips pouted and pulling at Taehyung’s heart. “So I’ll never be able to go out with you.”

“You have it all wrong. I’ll get myself contained. Meaning I’ll still want to put every person down on their knees, but I won’t do it. If you went out with me today, as fresh out of the Opalites and new to me as you are, I can promise my whole career to you that I’ll knock someone down.”

“If you just keep me by your side—”

“Then I’ll blow their hand off if they reach in close. You can’t come today, baby,” he said, shrivelling knowing he’d put his bunny in this state of forlornness. “Besides, even when I do have myself under wraps, you’re going to be right next to you. I don’t trust anyone out there with you.”

Taehyung scratched at the base of his left ear, cooing when Jungkook’s ears were so flat. The boy hadn’t even moved to interrupt his borderline annoying antics. He could probably tie his ears in a knot and Jungkook wouldn’t complain.

“I have to stay home, then.”

“You’ll be safe here. At least I know that much. You can do whatever you want with Namjoon. You can explore the base. You can build a laser for all I care. Just be here, not out there where people will want to touch you like a petting zoo.”

Jungkook wormed his hands out from his legs to drop them in his lap. He nodded soberly.

“Okay. I’ll stay here and be safe.”

“Don’t do that,” Taehyung damn near whined like the Viper was rolling in his grave. “Don’t be mad at me. Pouting bunnies are not easy on the soul.”

“I’m not mad. Just don’t want to miss you.”

“If it's any consolation, I’ve never left this place without you since I got you and I’m going to figure out just how much of an overbearing owner I can be today,” Taehyung said. “If you see Namjoon checking his phone every two minutes, go ahead and bank on it being me.”

“Wouldn’t have to if you took me with you.”

“You are a spoiled little thing,” he said, sounding more impressed than anything. He slid his hand down Jungkook’s temple and down to his chin, tilting it up. “Keep it that way, but watch your little mouth too, because spoiled boys can sometimes get a little too mouthy.”

Face red, ears high in alert, and eyes ghosted in juvenile upset, Jungkook let all of his oxygen out through his parted lips.

Oh.

“Now, tell me, do you like wearing all black because that’s all you ever pick out of my closet, or do you like all the cute clothes the other hybrids are wearing?”

“I like black,” Jungkook said in a stupor. “But I like to feel… cute too.”

“So if I bought you pink, you’d wear it?”

“It depends…”

“Picky. Got it. I’ll just imagine you in it. If you don’t like it, that’s okay. We’ll just get you five more to make up for it.”


 

Try and tell Taehyung what hybrids wore and he’d still stare at you like you just explained one of Einstein’s theories. He could skim the walls of an enemy complex and slide a knife in the back of someone’s throat before they could sound the alarm, but dressing a hybrid was calculus class.

He didn’t pass calculus.

Jimin handled that portion of the mission. After getting the report from Taehyung that dark colors were a go and cutesy colors were a maybe, he told Taehyung to sit his useless ass down and let him do all the work.

He measured by eye. Without their subject there, Jimin had to give an educated guess on sizing. They both decided he preferred his shirts and sweaters a little overized, based solely on the fact that he liked to flap his sleeves over his hands and point his finger even when it didn’t poke out.

“Is this too girly?” Jimin asked.

“Let’s keep the frills to a minimum,” Taehyung winced. “I think when he said depends, he meant that he didn’t want to look like a seven year old child.”

“No frills. What do you think about lace?”

“Depends.”

“Indecisiveness is only cute when it’s on him. Be a big boy and answer me.”

“It does depend, asshole. Those socks right there—under your elbow—he’ll like those because it’s just the tops. But anything more than that and he won’t touch it.”

“I’ll go easy on the lace then. Frills are less girly than lace I think.”

“Agreed. Best we avoid both, though.”

Jimin cocked his head at the mound of clothes in his hands and rolled his tongue in his mouth.

“When did we become suburban, middle-aged moms?”

Taehyung leaned back against the bench and shrugged, looking at his own misery straight in the face with eyes of woe.

“I don’t know but when I look in that mirror over there, I feel like I’m gonna shatter it.”

“Really need to knock someone’s teeth out,” Jimin lamented and picked a shirt out of his chosen winners.

Shoes were a no-go. The boy still refused to wear them. Hoseok, who Taehyung was paying frequent visits to lately with his multitude of questions, said it could be part of his disassociation with being considered part of the pack.

Wearing clothes was something he didn’t have a choice in due to the unacceptable nature of being naked around other people, but shoes could be avoided.

“He may be associating shoes with social acceptance. Think back to high school, when you were scared to join in with the cool kids because they might not accept you,” Hoseok had explained. “It’s small, I know, but every little detail means something in abuse cases. He’s scared to act like he’s one of us. If he could sit on the floor and wear nothing, that might put him at ease more than you think.”

“Does he not feel like he belongs?”

“He didn’t even have a bathroom for Christ’s sake, Taehyung. Give him time. Adjusting to being treated like a human isn’t a change that happens overnight.”

Taehyung hadn’t pushed him into it yet, but in the future, he’d have to. If Jungkook ever wanted to go out into the world with him like he expressed so strongly, then he’d have to join society.

“His brushes came in right?”

“Yeah. He loves ‘em. They all look the same to me, but he says they have different functions. I’m just gonna trust in him that I didn’t spend so much on a set of the same brush,” Taehyung admitted. “But he does need shampoo for his ears and tail.”

“I wonder if hybrid shampoo actually does anything or if it’s just a money ploy.”

“Well, considering they have fur, I think it makes a pretty big difference. Do you use human shampoo on dogs?”

Jimin shrugged. “Could.”

“Doesn’t mean you should.”

There were too many types of shampoo in Taehyung’s opinion. Some claimed to turn fur to cotton, others swore on softer than daisies. None of them made any sense to him, so he just settled on the most expensive one—that made some sense.

A whitening hybrid shampoo to keep his boy’s fur silky smooth and white as a dove.

After enough weird baby products made specifically for hybrids to make both of them tilt their heads, and lingerie hung across the walls to tempt Taehyung to rip them all down, they made it out of the hybrid stores alive.

The malls were infested with them. Stores hidden in the corners because even they knew their religious showcasing of hybrid sex wares was an act of satanic worshipping. Random pop-ups in the way of walkways sold collars and leashes. Giant lines in the middle of regular stores to separate the human and hybrid clothing.

Taehyung didn’t go shopping enough to noticr before, but all he could do now was look around in wonder—hybrids were an economic boom.

They left the mall with arms strained inside bag handles and a bone to pick with all the idiots walking in the halls like cows on a summer day. They wore masks out to deplete any chances of being recognized for their bloody work, but took them off before they went back into the base. The hybrid had never seen their faces covered before.

“I’ll let you carry all the bags so you get all the glory.”

“Oh, that’s why,” Taehyung snarked, and walked through the doors that his front door patrol held open for him.

There were a lot of things that Taehyung gave up trying to understand about owning a refuge for rough and tough scoundrels. Some days fights broke out and guns joined the party, and other days you couldn’t rile up anyone in the Violets headquarters because they were too busy chatting it up about old memories and dead friends.

Well, today, give Taehyung a slap on the back and wish him luck because his brain was one watt away from frying and if their control center short circuited, they could kiss their asses goodbye.

In the main hub of the house of the most feared and respected gang of all Seoul, a number of his men had gathered around two good souls who struck the violet room like twinkling, little stars—Jungkook and Namjoon.

They sat on the elevated area at the forefront of the room, where Taehyung gave his speeches and called for the attention of the masses. Jungkook was criss-crossed next to Namjoon, confusion and a stumbling focus on his face, leaning in closer to something a Violet was saying to him.

Namjoon sat on a chair next to him, obviously understanding the story told before than the hybrid.

“On second thought,” Jimin backtracked, plucking the bags out of Taehyung’s hands. “I’ll take those.”

The reason why Namjoon took his hybrid out into the broad, populated space of the front entrance was beyond Taehyung, and certainly put him to a stop. Seeing his boy surrounded by those close enough to surround kicked his stomach to his throat, and it didn’t help that every other Violet meandering through the room was either sitting down afar and watching, or passing through and showing some sort of interest.

Heads turned at the door opening for someone to come or go, and hilariously—only to Jimin—their faces blanked and were re-written with anxiety because by the look of his face, this little excursion was unknown to him.

Taehyung weaved through the people, though he didn’t have to do much of that when every living thing ducked out of his way. He walked up the two steps when Namjoon finally looked over Jungkook’s head and saw him, sitting up straight.

The man talking to Jungkook lost his energy and zipped his mouth shut.

“Hey,” Namjoon greeted with a smile.

Jungkook’s ears twisted to the side, never one to like people sneaking up behind him when in front of him was already troublesome enough. He tilted his head all the way back, found Taehyung, and his eyes leapt with excitement..

“Tae!”

Hand on his hip and the other hanging down by Jungkook to interlace their fingers, Taehyung asked slowly, “What’s going on?”

“He wanted to come out. Didn’t want to be in his room. But then he didn’t want to be in mine either,” Namjoon said. “He said you okayed taking him to see the base, so I showed him around a little.”

“Show him around,” Taehyung said, keeping calm even when his men could hear the sneaking tone clear as day. “Not show him.”

Jungkook’s ears lowered just a tad, and just like that, Taehyung hated nothing more than hovering over him like this, hands laced together or not.

“I liked being around everyone. Listening to them. But then they came to talk to me,” Jungkook said. He was apprehensive, watching his step in these unknown waters of a sharp Taehyung. “And then I got to make some friends.”

“Friends?” Taehyung asked.

Jimin from behind the crowd nodded his head vehemently, aggression bleeding from his eyes and a threat on the tip of his tongue.

Taehyung could hear him now—if you tell that boy they aren’t his friends, I’m going to string you up by your foot and have a fucking piñata party .

Then he saw the front row. Saw the subtle smiles on their faces, and remembered what they normally smiled about. Reminiscing on fallen comrades. Sharing stories of what their mothers used to cook, the skewed renegades that led them down this path. The fun they had as rambunctious teenagers before everything came into place for the end of their lives.

They were smiling because of him. The first sight of purity in the Violet house, childish and good-hearted and untouched by the world they fought day in and day out. Jungkook was the first cry of a baby in a town lost of hope for their future.

Not only was he not going to take this from Jungkook, but not from them, either.

“You made some friends, huh?” he asked, kneeling down next to Jungkook. The hybrid nodded happily, beaming under the friendly scientist’s eye. “You’ve got some rough looking friends for a fuzzy cottontail.”

“No, I don’t,” Jungkook argued. “They’re just like me.”

Survivors of a life gone wrong. Survivors of the beaten path that twisted ankles and burned them in scorched heat. No different from Jungkook, who hadn’t had a chance from the start. He was chemically prepared in a lab and sold to the first buyer, where they were made in shambled apartments with graffitied gang signs on their fence.

Another day, another gesture from Jungkook’s golden heart.

“Well,” Taehyung said, “if they are just like you, then that just means this is the place for you too. Don’t you think?”

“My place is wherever you are,” was all Jungkook said to crack a dozen hearts and send Taehyung into panic mode, because before he knew it, Jungkook was pushing against his chest and burying his face in his neck.

He wasn’t gone that long, but here they were, putting Taehyung on the stage like an episode counting down to begin, picturing the very moment he turned into a weak ass bitch in front of his men.

There wasn’t a chance in hell he was going to reject Jungkook in light of his dimming masculinity, so he kissed his reputation goodbye and coddled Jungkook close to him, petting down his ears.

“I know,” he said softly.


“This is all for me?”

Taehyung combed through the bags, thanking God he gave himself all that closet space when they built the base. If he hadn’t saved himself the trouble in retrospect, some clothes would have to go, and it sure as hell wouldn’t be Jungkook’s.

All he ever wore was button-ups anyways, so he could spare a couple duplicates. Maybe fold them up in a drawer. Wrinkles and pleats would be worth Jungkook prancing around in a new sweater every day.

“All of it. I can’t really remember what’s in here, but it all has your name on it,” Taehyung admitted shamelessly. He was a mobster, not an established homemaker. “I’ll hang up and fold the clothes for you.”

“You don’t have to,” Jungkook objected.

“Well, those little hands aren’t going to do it, so I’m next in line.” He could already see another excused coming, but simply thrived in it—his boy was braver each day. “I don’t wanna hear it. Those hands won’t see another day of work in their lifetime. Just let me do it, alright? I think I can put some clothes up.”

“Fine,” Jungkook said in a huff, slumping his shoulders. Sat on the edge of the bed with hands rolled up in his sleeves, he kicked his legs, shortening their span so he didn’t kick the silverette knelt on the floor. “Do I get to try them on?” he asked.

His beady eyes tracked every piece of clothing that Taehyung stacked neatly on the floor. In the face of lavish spoils, he often thought back to the dingy air and the dirt that pelted his skin until it dried up in thick layers. It was inevitable for a hybrid that went through that caliber of abuse to connect the correlations.

From an old, stretched out shirt to a pile of frivolously purchased clothes that Jungkook knew full and well that their price tags were never checked.

The expenses of his species was inflated and ridiculously blown out of proportion. He would know. Given a budget of thirty dollars for his clothes for the year was a challenge in and of itself, but finding even one shirt with that price limit was a rarity.

“If you want to. Or you can just pick out what you want every day, toss what you don’t like. Up to you. I’m going to take you out later so you can go on a spree and do whatever you want,” Taehyung said, crunching up an empty bag. “I’ll just hand you my card and let you spend it.”

He was looking down, bundling up all of the damn socks Jimin threw into the shopping bag, so he didn’t get to see the flash of red over Jungkook’s cheeks.

Give a hybrid a home and a loving owner and they’ll give every last bit of devotion their body is made of. Give a hybrid an owner with a black card willing to spend the last dime on them and they’ll roll over on their backs.

“Okay,” he practically wheezed.

“Got you with that one, didn’t I?” Taehyung said with a smirk towards the ground and Jungkook—for the first time ever—felt the need to clench his fists. “I plan to spoil you, bunny, and things usually go as planned for me.”

Taehyung usually showered people in bullets, but for the boy with ears as tall as the lights in his eyes, he could learn how to shower with presents instead.

“I like… I like when you say things like that.”

Taehyung looked up. Dealing with Jungkook was constantly preparing himself for blunt interactions. The boy didn’t beat around the bush, and while he appreciated that afterwards, the process was grueling and knocked him back a step.

“I would hope so. Hybrids like an owner who can take care of them, right?” Jungkook nodded. “Financial stability. All the gifts you can hold. That’s how it should be.” He finally emptied out the clothes, ignoring the pile he needed to deal with for right now. “You’re dependant things. Good things. Hybrids should be taken care of. You shouldn’t ever have to worry if there’s food on the table, or if there’s a roof over your head. Even more so, because Jimin likes to say I’m a cocky airhead and I’ll always strive to live up to my many names, you shouldn’t want something and not get it.”

Jungkook quirked his lip down at his lap. “I’ve never had an owner that got me things I wanted. I always wanted candy at the store, but he said things were tight. I don’t know what that means, but it made me sad.”

“It means he didn’t have a lot of leeway with his money.” Jungkook blinked at him. “Sorry. That wasn’t any easier. Leeway means wiggle room. No wiggle room in his bank account. If he had bought you anything extra, he’d be low on funds.”

“Oh,” Jungkook mumbled. “That makes sense.”

“But it doesn’t.” Taehyung leaned closer to him, touching his knee. “You should have everything you lay your eyes on, Jungkook. That’s why I’m here now. Touch it and it’s yours.”

“I don’t feel like I should.”

“I take care of my people here, Jungkook. My men don’t go without. And you, my little one, are the little flower for the Violets now,” he said with a small smile, eyes warm to the touch, reaching for something down below. “You’re one of us now, and I want to make sure you know that.”

Jungkook watched him wearily.

“Violets have a tattoo right here,” he said, tracing a circle around his abdomen. “That’s how we become Violets. We cut it into our skin, so this life won’t ever leave us. But I’m not letting a needle touch your skin, so I found an alternative.”

Before Jungkook could impetuously ask to see the tattoo, Taehyung lifted the alternative into view, falling back on his heels as he kneeled for his treasured gem. The Viper had never knelt before anyone since the day he felt blood on his hands.

His knees were undusted, head held high, but as of now, he was a crippled man.

In the palm of Taehyung’s hand sat two little bows that glimmered in the skylight. Violet by association, dazzling, smooth amethysts puckered in the middle of each bow. A regal purple, silky to the eye.

Jungkook tried to find a reaction within himself. No one had ever held something so beautiful out to him. Never trusted him with it. He was a clumsy, goofy-footed idiot—or so they said.

“For your ears. So everyone knows who you belong to.”

“For… for me?” he asked in disbelief, couldn’t take his eyes off them. “They look so elegant.” He re-learned that word two days ago.

“They are. Only the most luxurious for you. Made from mulberry silk in Tamil Nadu, it’s the finest silk of them all. I thought long and hard before I picked these out,” Taehyung said. “The amethysts are real, but they’re light. I made sure my connections understood the implications of how delicate your ears are.”

“I don’t know if I can wear these, Taehyung. I really—” he fretted, eyes frazzled and already backing out before he could touch them. “They’re too nice for someone like me.”

“Someone like you?” Taehyung asked with dipped eyebrows. “What does that mean, Jungkook?”

Because he wanted to know—needed to know—what Jungkook thought of himself. What could possibly toy with his head until it fell into a looping disaster of self-deprecation.

“I’m not what you think I am,” he said, hushed. “I don’t deserve all of this.”

“I think you do. I think you deserve every gem chipped out of the highest mountain. Every man I have to gun down until they know you’re untouchable. Every last grain of salt on every beach I plan to take you to,” Taehyung said, leaning in closer, placing the dainty bows in Jungkook’s shaking hands. “You are the most deserving boy on this planet.”

“But what they did to me doesn’t feel like that, Tae.”

“What they did to you died with them the day I fed their bodies to the soil. You are still here and will live out your days in my care,” Taehyung said. “I’ll drown you in diamonds if it’s what it takes to show you that you deserve nothing less than all the world has to offer.”

Jungkook gulped down at the bows in his hands. They were clouds against his skin, vapor on his fingertips. The amethyst boiled him in a stew of perpetual regality. They belonged on the neck of a royal, not him.

But according to Taehyung, they only belonged on him. And if Taehyung said so, he wouldn’t ever risk doubt.

“They’re very pretty. You think I’m pretty enough to wear these?”

“I think you are the prettiest boy that’s ever walked on this wretched Earth,” Taehyung said, lifting higher on his heels, encapsulating Jungkook’s knees in his hands. “But somehow you pull it out of it’s own hell. I don’t know how you do it. Here,” he offered, and took the bows from his shy hands, unclipping the backs of them. “They’re small clips. I made sure they wouldn’t hurt any. Your fur is too soft for that.”

Carefully, Taehyung steadied one ear at a time with the hands of a clockmaker. They cradled easily foldable ears like cogs and hands, clipping each bow at the base of white velvet. Eyes winced at each click, but not a thing hurt. Noises in the crook of his ear made him jumpy.

Taking in the sight of his lovely boy’s ears kissed with violet, Taehyung had a fright that he’d lose his voice.

“It scares me how much I want to flaunt you in violet,” he said. “This color means a killing in Seoul. But on you, it’s simply the likes of a flower.”

Jungkook touched at the bows like they’d break if he smudged his fingerprints on them.

“Pretty,” he whispered to himself, like maybe it’d come true if he said it quiet enough for mother nature to hear.

The wine tint glazed over his cheeks knocked on Taehyung’s chest. No one was home. He thought. It’d been vacant for a decade now. A decade of cobwebs and crow caws and a lush misting of fog on the worst of days.

But today, kneeled before Jungkook and pressed against his bony legs, inches from his face radiating in abashed warmth, someone cracked the door open. The lights flickered on, lightbulbs slow to remember how electricity flows. Someone was home. His empty house of mice and mourns held footsteps in it for the first time since his father’s naked feet stomped on the wooden floors.

Jungkook had never looked so moonstriking before. He glew with the pinpoints of his face dusted peach, bridge of his nose coral and the bow of his lip a pink lemonade of worry. His cheekbones rose with rouge, but a mute one, the type that made Taehyung’s head spin.

The boy looked at a loss for words, and for once, they were both on the same page. Heads dipped in archaic grasp, all they knew was how to rely on their bodies to carry them through this thicket of brume.

One of these days Taehyung may be able to explain why he leaned in first. Not today. Not when he was still dusting his untouched windows to let the air into his stuffy chest.

They met lips first, but something pulled Taehyung in harder, caught him in the high tides and swept him in on the rip current. His naturally imposing body couldn’t help itself, familiar with dictating situations and assuming control.

He leaned in on Jungkook’s knees—light like a feather, because those bones were too close to skin to risk breaking the brittle—and kissed up into his mouth, relishing in the shiver that followed Jungkook’s body like a hard, high mile curve.

Jungkook blindly grabbed at his shirt, other hand tensing around his own sleeve, not just at a loss for words but also basic bodily functions. He’d gone rigid, stiff to the bones. Not because Taehyung made him uncomfortable, but because he made him rethink everything he thought he knew.

Like how a touch could be so nice. The thumb swiping over his knee sent tendrils of spice up his leg, and being forced back by a man’s raw power—just enough to lean him back—kicked off a light show in between his ribs.

Jungkook easily bent back under his authority. The natural intensity that Taehyung’s body flourished in was a fitting puzzle piece for Jungkook’s natural submission. He was created to fall under the weight of his owner’s body.

Their kiss lasted longer than two seconds this time.

Kissing wasn’t logged in Jungkook’s book of experience. No one ever really kissed him when they stole his dignity. But Taehyung knew the boy was teeming with acceptance by the way his fingers subtly tugged Taehyung closer by his shirt, and the small hum he let out in the middle of taking a breath.

Still as innocent and sweet as could be, Taehyung couldn’t imagine it any other way. A ruthless mobster was destined to seek out partners who could match his recklessness in between the sheets, but he wanted nothing of the sort when he had Jungkook’s clammy hands.

They knew they’d crossed a line they couldn’t step back over when they were short of breath. If it lasted long enough to deprive their lungs, it wasn’t an I don’t know what that was anymore.

Taehyung didn’t pull away completely. Couldn’t. He was drawn to him like bees on honey. He savored the short, little breaths Jungkook took in.

“Tae?” he asked, and it was unsure.

“It’s okay,” Taehyung murmured. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t stop myself.”

“Don’t be sorry.” His hand fled to Taehyung’s hair, until it held onto the base of his skull by a thread. “I like kissing you.”

“I like kissing you too, but I don’t know what to do with that knowledge.”

“Kiss me,” Jungkook said like it should be the easiest answer to the constant commotion in Taehyung’s busy head. “You kiss me.”


 April 27th

The last time Namjoon saw sleep was twenty-nine hours ago. If he saw one more crosswalk feed, he was going to blow his brains out. The computer screens blurred together. The sun sat on the ground.

Twenty-four hour surveillance of Seoul’s highest trafficked subway. Hacked records of every possible suspect reported and detained by local and far spread authorities—petty theft, manslaughter, arson, harassment. Still-shots of heavily populated crime areas. All documents of districts shackled under the Violets’ reign, and those that were free. The number of districts Taehyung hadn’t claimed were minute, but the smallest of pests could fit under any crack or floorboard.

Not a white tattoo in sight.

Chapter Text

PLEASE READ: In the first chapter, when asked if he'd ever been drugged, Jungkook denied it. That chapter was written FAR in advance before the plot was decided. I have changed chapter one to go in according with current information. Move forward with this chapter. :)

April 29th

“Any luck?” Taehyung asked, setting down a cup of coffee on the desk littered with rings from all the past coffee cups.

“It’s like they don’t even exist,” Namjoon said. “I’ve tapped into every camera feed I can find in Seoul and the only face tattoos I’ve seen have been black.”

His search for their elusive threat didn’t come without sacrifice—his sanity. The last time he sounded this brain dead was during their hunt for the cloaked Pasos in the jungles and all Namjoon had to rely on was 8-bit footage outside of drop off zones and the locals.

Dark circles shadowed his eyes, heavy on his cheekbones every time he blinked. His voice was so unused in stuffing himself away from society to continue his search that it scratched at his throat and took clearing it before a comprehensible word could be made.

Namjoon had thrown himself into finding their cryptic rivals, and it looked like he fell down a hole for it. Exhausted, run-down, drained, trying every possible option over and over expecting something to work.

He was going out of his mind, if he didn’t collapse before that happened.

But that was what Namjoon did. He hated unfinished puzzles, forgotten mysteries. Cliffhangers drove him over the edge. Namjoon was a man of deducing and solving. He liked answers.

The white tattooed man gave him one clue, and as a sleuth, he could confidently say it was the most deadend pointed he could have ever traced.

Loss of sleep wasn’t an issue because he couldn’t sleep with an incomplete thought on his mind.

“Maybe they aren’t in Seoul,” Taehyung said.

“It’s possible. But if they aren’t, it could take me months to search all over Asia. If it doesn’t stop at Seoul, then it might not stop at South Korea.”

“Then we search Asia. I don’t give a damn where they are. As long as they have our location, I’ll fly across the world to smack the shit out of them.”

Namjoon fixed his glasses, letting his eyes rest. Closing them was a risk when sleep wanted so badly to claim him.

“I can do it. Just give me time.”

“I trust your judgement. Look where you see promise in finding them. I’ll keep thinking.”

“If you think of something, let me know. Could help.”

“I will,” Taehyung said. He patted his back and pointed at his coffee. “Either take a nap or drink that. If you’re gonna stay up, the least you can do is be awake.”

“I forget what being awake feels like.”

“It’s miserable. Keep the amnesia.”


The inside of Jungkook’s head was a strange place. Sometimes he didn't quite grasp what was running around up there. Sometimes it stomped, other times it tip-toed and he had to think long and hard to figure it out.

His thoughts were tip-toeing like a late night robbery, too light for him to grab hold of and demand answers from. Quiet thoughts, thoughts he wasn’t so sure of.

Being a hybrid came with hundreds of setbacks. Nevermind the life-long discrimination or the realization that you don’t even own yourself. One of Jungkook’s greatest struggles as a hybrid was one he hadn’t met until the last couple of days—distinguishing between the bond with an owner and intimate feelings for another boy.

No other owner had dropped him at that crossroad. Not until Taehyung burned the prison around him and whisked him to a new life.

At first, he knew it was only the bond. He wanted to be Taehyung’s hybrid, follow him dutifully and let him scratch his ears and do anything he asked.

But then things went awry in that ginormous place in his head. Where normal, natural infatuations for his owner sat, new, confusing attractions crawled from the grave.

Taehyung was an attractive man. Emphasize on the man part. There was no denying that. Hybrids were suckers for a strapping, capable owner, but in their first days of getting into the rhythm, he simply looked at Taehyung as inspiring.

But two days ago, he woke up next to Taehyung, felt the swell in the arm around him, rolled over and saw the sculpturing of his face, and felt a blizzard in his stomach. He’d never gone cold with affection, but it had something to do with how scolding his chest and neck got.

And it all had something to do with how handsome Taehyung looked in the morning. How the human’s hand lay right next to his stomach like it was no sweat when Jungkook was sweating like a maniac. How stupidly good it felt to press his cheek against that smooth up and down of his chest.

And when he finally woke up—because Jungkook was too polite to ruin a masterpiece—he said Jungkook’s name in his sleep voice and nothing could ever matter again.

Little things just kept stealing Jungkook’s breath. When Taehyung didn’t call him by his name, but every other sweet endearment in the book. When they met eyes and just smiled because remembering they had each other ignited them. When he said Taehyung’s name and the man forgot everything else around him.

The sense of home when he got closer, when the world just got too big for him, and Taehyung touched his skin and made it all small again. Because next to Taehyung, nothing was too big.

Losing himself in Taehyung’s lips when he spoke couldn’t be just part of the bond. Bubbling up when he caught Taehyung’s eyes on him, up and down in an inspection, or watching him closely when someone else had his attention had to mean more.

Burning up like a star when their lips sparked together wasn’t affection for his owner. It was for Taehyung. It was for the boy with the snake eyes that melted when they fell on his bunny.

The inside of Jungkook’s head was a strange place. It was tripping with yearning and wants for something he wasn’t entirely sure how he wanted it.

But one thing had to be certain—their bond didn’t just stop there. The next morning after their second kiss, he woke up without Taehyung by his side, dropped into a cataclysmic hole, heard the shower, and soared like a meteor.

Definitely more than just a bond.


“Guess someone’s getting fired,” Taehyung announced, hands in his pockets and shoes slow against the fallen leaves.

Jimin looked his way, finger tensing around the trigger of his gun. Taehyung could see a trigger finger from a mile away. Especially Jimin’s.

“If you’re talking about me, we both know pulling that off isn’t going to be easy.”

“No. I’m talking about the guard that I told to collect you before he ended his night duty,” he said, stopping in front of Jimin. “It took me half an hour to find you out here.”

“He tried to tell me you wanted me to come inside, but I told him to tell you to fuck off. Guess he didn’t play along,” Jimin revealed, shoulders jumping in a playful shrug. “A lot of telling, but I’m sick of talking. I’m sick of not doing anything.”

“I know,” Taehyung said, letting it go. “You know I hate sitting around too, but there isn’t much more we can do right now if we don’t have a target to shoot at.”

“We can go out and look for them.” He cut his eyes Taehyung’s way. “We can find them and put more lines in them.”

“And look where, exactly?”

“Everywhere. Anywhere we have to destroy. I’ll blow buildings up to find these creeps. Cutting tongues off and starting something they can’t finish,” Jimin spat. “They’re asking for it.”

“As much as I love jumping the gun—literally—that method isn’t going to help us any this time around, my dear spitfire,” Taehyung said. “Searching for a myth will only leave us scattered and separated. They want us to panic. They want us falling off the bone.”

“So we just sit and wait,” Jimin said bitterly. “When the hell have we ever done that?”

“Since sitting and waiting attracted the bees, Jimin. We wait. Running around like someone took our heads is shameful for a Violet.”

“Oh, I won’t. I’ll climb into their hideaway, drag them into the light, and step on them like the roaches they are.”

“Give Namjoon some time,” Taehyung persuaded. “Looking for a rival that we can’t even see will only divide us.”

“We’ll wait on him, but this doesn’t feel right, Taehyung.”

“It doesn’t feel right because we usually have a target to release hell on. This is the right call. Give him a couple more days. If he hasn’t found anything, we’ll start a search. At least on the grounds to make sure nothing’s going on right beneath our noses.”

“And if we find nothing?”

“I don’t know, Jimin. How about we cross that bridge when we get there.”

“That hybrid’s really making you soft.”

Taehyung frowned. “Because I’m being tactical?”

“No,” Jimin said with a snort. “Because normally this is when we go for each other’s throats and shove our opinions down them. You just gave in.”

“I didn’t give in.”

“You gave in.”


“Do I really have to go?” Jungkook asked.

Hoseok smiled at Taehyung, the two of them sharing a knowing look.

“Yeah, bud. You gotta go. You want your teeth to get better, right?”

“I do, but you said they’re better now.”

“I said your gingivitis is improving, not that your teeth were magically saved.” He pulled the light out of Jungkook’s mouth, clicking his teeth. “Do that. Make your teeth fight. See how that’s sensitive? It hurts. Some of those teeth are rotted, and those don’t just get better. They take the right kind of doctor.”

“You’re a doctor,” Jungkook pouted.

“But I’m not a dentist. If I were, I would have already fixed you all up. I was never trained in dentistry. Mouths gross me out, so it’s really not for the best.”

“Do they look any different?” Taehyung asked.

“The rotting in his bottom left premolar looks like it’s progressed since I last checked it. The others are holding steady. His gums are incredible compared to before. Good job, both of you,” Hoseok said, examining his mouth even if his teeth hid away. “They’ll probably want to replace that premolar, but the others should be saved by root canals.”

Jungkook frowned. “That sounds like a scary word.”

“It’s not so scary, but root canals do a great job of making everything sound scary. What they do is they go into your tooth and they remove all that rotted stuff inside so that your tooth can repair itself.”

Jungkook touched at his jaw. “And you said… replace?”

“They’re going to take the whole tooth out and—”

All of it?” he panicked, tensing in his chair. His fingers sprawled out over his mouth protectively.

“Hey, hey,” Taehyung hushed, and shot a glare at Hoseok. “Have you never had a class on letting news down easy?”

“Sorry,” Hoseok apologized quickly, running his hands over each other in a nervous habit. “I keep forgetting you’re still a baby to this because you’ve come so far from your first day.”

He ran his fingers through Jungkook’s fringe, calming him down.

Their stiff, medical relationship had grown into something more familiar over the last couple of weeks. It was the random check-ins that Hoseok did, hands in his lab coat and kind smile on his face and how’s my favorite, little patient doing?

Their start was rocky, and it set Jungkook off on a distrusting foot. But with time, he began to let Hoseok touch his ears without flinching, even almost took him up on the offer for help on his ointment when he worried it wasn’t working—thankfully, Hoseok informed him he’d just have to increase the duration of application.

Today, Hoseok could place a calming effect on him by smoothing down his hair and talking over his inner demons.

“He still spooks, you know,” Taehyung said, disgruntled and scratching the back of Jungkook’s ear absentmindedly.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I’m not talking to one of the thick skinned maniacs out there,” he said. “I’m so used to Jimin not responding to anything that isn’t brutal honesty.”

“It’s okay,” Jungkook said, but his voice was high from being startled.

“I’ll try again. That tooth is too far gone, so they’re going to take it away so it can’t hurt you anymore. It’ll be gone, yes, but they’re going to replace it with a brand new one,” Hoseok said, softer this time. “I don’t think they’ll do anymore than that one, but I can’t promise you anything.”

“Will it… does the root canal—” he spelled every letter with his tongue—”hurt?”

“It can. Just a little, though. Afterwards. Things may be a little swollen and hot. But during the procedure, you’re going to be put under anesthesia so you don’t feel anything.” Hoseok jumped to speak before he could ask. “Anesthesia is a good drug. It puts you to sleep until it’s all over.”

Jungkook’s ears plummeted before anyone could even think. They hit his skull like cement, and dried rock hard. It was one of the quickest transitions Taehyung had ever seen him go through.

Taehyung frowned. “Jungkook?” The boy locked eyes with the hands in his lap. “Hey, what’s the matter?” Instead of just staring at his shaky fingers and making the two Violets stare at each other in alarm, he shook his head. “You don’t want to tell me?”

“N—No,” he muttered, head ducked. “Do I have to?”

“Of course not, little one,” he reassured, sharing a look with Hoseok. “You can keep it. Do you want to go back to our room?”

He nodded solemnly, and that was how Taehyung knew they had prodded a deep scar. The boy found every reason to stay out with his new friends. He enjoyed his alone time with Taehyung, but anyone could see he thrived with the people he gradually placed his trust in.

“Okay,” Taehyung said gently, tipping his head to the side. “C’mon.”

Hoseok smiled at him the best he could, hands in his pockets—as always—and looking down over the boy in that observant way he always did. Hoseok always made him feel seen. Not just emotionally, but like a condition would catch Hoseok’s eye before he even knew about it.

“Bye, Kook,” Hoseok said sweetly, rubbing over his hair. “I’ll see you after the dentist. Take it easy, okay? I’ll make sure you’re all better afterwards.”

Because he’d seen this before. Years of treating men drowning in their own pasts gave a doctor plenty of experience in pushing through an episode of PTSD. He knew that look, and he wasn’t going to pry.

“Bye, Hoseokie,” Jungkook mumbled, and pushed his head into Hoseok’s hand. “Please take care of me when I get back.”

“I’ll be there the second he gets you in bed. Swear it.”

The walk back to the bedroom was quiet. Jungkook didn’t swing their hands, didn’t point out any of the shenanigans going on around them, didn’t ask where Jimin was. He pitter-pattered next to Taehyung with a closed mouth and thought filled face.

His head had a busy signal and pulling him out of it was borderline impossible.

“You wanna take your bath, bun?” Taehyung asked. “I can go ahead and get your dinner so it’s ready for you.”

“I don’t… I don’t really wanna take one right now. Can I take it in the morning?” he responded, and that was the cut off for Taehyung. That was all the answer he needed to find out just how buried in his head Jungkook was.

The poor boy spent five years in his own dirt and sweat. Baths had become a ritual for him. He took one every single night, used a different scent of bath salts Taehyung got him, and lavished himself in them. Sometimes his baths lasted up to an hour, but he made every second count.

“That’s fine. You can take it whenever you want to, but Jungkook… I’ll never force you to talk to me—I know what it’s like to keep things to yourself—but something happened back there at the doctor’s office,” Taehyung said. “I know what it looks like when someone’s demon catches up to them, and I also know what it looks like when someone has gotten far away from those demons.” He eyed up the bed, wishing he could just order the boy to sit down. “And I don’t want them to catch you just because you’re scared to talk about it.

Jungkook blinked at the floor, and somehow didn’t hear a single word Taehyung said. “Can I…” His feet shuffled. “Do I have to go tomorrow?”

“What is—” Taehyung started in disbelief, but shook it out of his head, and pointed at the bed. “Sit down, please.”

Little feet scuffing, he obediently followed orders, head low and ears lopping to the beat. He dropped onto the bed, bouncing a couple times until his ankles could lock and his hands could find solace in each other.

Taehyung stood before him. “You have been so excited for the dentist. All you’ve done this week is talk about how you can’t wait to have those pretty, new teeth. What’s gotten into you?”

“W—We can still do it, Tae. But maybe next week,” he tried, life coming into his voice, hoping maybe his big eyes might be convincing enough.

Usually they were, but Taehyung stood firm, stumped out of his mind and remembering that he owned a hybrid, not another twenty year old human.

“Not next week. I scheduled this two weeks ago and the dentist has wiped out his other appointments just for you, because he wanted to take all of his time,” Taehyung said. “He knows not to mess up a single tooth in there.”

“I know…” Jungkook said, almost squirming in his socks.

Taehyung sighed. “I’m sorry, Jungkook, but you’re going in tomorrow. Your health isn’t exactly a bargaining chip. The first thing we agreed to do was get you all fixed up, right?” Jungkook nodded in agreeance. “We got your wounds taken care of. We’re working on your weight. Teeth are next.”

“Okay,” he murmured, nodding his head, wincing when one of his lifeless ears dropped in front of his eye. “Okay, Tae. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t want to be the bad guy in here, bunny, because I’m already that out there, but I have to take care of you.” Taehyung shut his eyes and dipped his head back, because that was easier than looking at those dwindling eyes. “Sometimes taking care of you means making the hard decisions, even if you don’t like them. I do it enough with my men, trust me, I don't want to do it with you, either.”

“No,” Jungkook jumped, interjecting with restlessness. “You’re not the bad guy. I know you have to. I don’t want to be any trouble, Tae.”

Taehyung reached forward to fondle those sweet ears, so sensitive to every change in Jungkook’s head.

“You aren’t any trouble, my little one. You’re the easiest thing on my mind right now.”

He’d never tacked on that my before. It shot right through Jungkook’s heart. Ah, right, he thought. Not the bond. The touch to my ears. Definitely not just the bond.

“I know taking care of me isn’t easy when you have everyone else to worry about. I’ll go tomorrow. I promise I’ll be really good tomorrow.”

“Baby,” Taehyung sighed. “You are always good. Now tell me what’s got you so scared of the dentist and let’s see what I can do about it.”

The ears that sprouted up the tiniest bit to the sugary endearments went limp in his hands all over again. They often spoke in place of Jungkook’s lack of communication.

“Hoseok said they’ll use something to put me to sleep. I don’t remember what it was called.”

“General anesthesia. Let’s call it sleepy drugs.”

“The sleepy drugs… I don’t want them.”

Taehyung figured this was his cue to sit down next to the boy. His voice had gotten low, his eyes followed along, and those ears were drained of all life. That usually pre-cursed a not-so simple talk.

He sat down, and Jungkook took his company like it re-built his nerves, turning to face him, squishing his legs up against Taehyung’s thigh. What could he say? He liked having an anchor when he felt the waves coming for him.

“And why don’t you want them?” Taehyung asked. “Be honest with me, now. I don’t like that you’re holding this one in when all the others came out like nothing. I promise this can’t be any worse than what you’ve told me so far.”

“Yeah, but this one… I don’t want to say this one, because I don’t—I don’t know what happened.”

“Jungkook, honey,” Taehyung said. “Just tell me. There isn’t a damn thing you can’t tell me.”

“The mean men used sleepy drugs on me sometimes and hurt me while I was asleep,” he mumbled, heart strained through his words. “I don’t want—” his voice shook, and so did Taehyung’s self control. “I don't want it to happen again.”

“They drugged you?” Taehyung asked, and even he couldn’t keep the death threats out of his voice.

Jungkook nodded, scratching at his wrist nervously. Strong fingers wrapped around his, closing them in like a cage.

“I woke up and I knew they’d done stuff. I didn’t know what, or who… or how long. Sometimes the sun came up really soon after.”

“You were already chained up like an animal. They didn’t need to drug you,” Taehyung said. “Something tells me you weren’t the type to fight.”

Jungkook shook his head. “I didn’t want anyone to be mad at me.”

Oh,” Taehyung sighed, hanging his head, silver caressing his face and tickling at his angry cheeks. “What I would do to go back in time. What I would do to burn them from the feet up.”

“Tae?”

“What, baby?” he asked, and looked back up, only to look haunted. Leaned in close, eyes full of all the wishes he had for Jungkook, he looked ready to break Brooklyn for a pair of ears.

“I don’t wanna wake up bleeding anymore.” Tears. Deep in his throat, flashing in his eyes. “Don’t wanna look at myself to find out what they did.”

The worst part was feeling himself to make sure no one forgot something inside of him. The first time he’d been drugged and his legs were spread and stuck to the hay with blood and sweat, he woke up screaming, and later found a blunt, black thing inside of him. To this day, he has no idea what it was, but God willing it didn’t get stuck because hell would make it to the surface before any Opalite took him to a hospital.

Little actually came to Taehyung’s tongue. He was too busy suffocating in the unwelcomed images of the aftermath. What came after the destruction. And what came before, too. The look in Jungkook’s eyes when he felt himself going away, helpless to keep awake.

Him in his soft sweater. Him in his fuzzy socks and the one bow on his right ear. Him, as precious as can be—laid out on the ground like a good time.

“You don’t have to,” Taehyung said, fierce and aggressive. Thinking of what he’d do to the men who wielded the syringe needles made him that way. “Never again. God, never.”

Following those new instincts growing inside of him, Taehyung pulled Jungkook in by the back of his head, pressing his face to his neck, speaking quietly into his hair.

“When you go to bed, baby, all I do is make sure it’s warm enough and you’re sleeping sound. You don’t ever have to be scared to sleep again.”

“B—But the sleepy drugs—”

“I’ll be there from the second you enter that room until you leave. I won’t take a step out, not even if I find out the Violets are falling to the ground,” Taehyung said in between his ears, massaging into the nape of his neck. “No one will touch you when you’re asleep. I’ll take their teeth out if they try to.”

“You’ll be there the whole time?”

“I’m not going to leave you, Jungkook. I fucking swear. Not after what those rodents did to you.”

That night, Taehyung tucked the blankets extra tight around Jungkook’s back, dragging him into what he educated was the most comfortable position for him, facing Taehyung with his nose in the pillow and arms drawn up. He kissed between his ears three times and put on a children’s movie, hoping it might get those optimistic bubbles rising in Jungkook’s stomach.

And when he fell asleep, Taehyung watched the night. He couldn’t sleep. He’d seen hell in person before. He’d walked into a barn tucked away in the trees of a far away assailant’s hideaway and smelled the decrepit stench of trafficked humans covered in their own bodily waste, heard a baby cry from somewhere in the corner. He’d blown enough brains to paint a wall.

But the little boy in his arms—eyes finally at rest and lips open in a gentle breath—kept him awake at night. All he could do was think about this angel being rocked into the floor of a warehouse, unaware, with that sweet face unbeknownst.

Jungkook had a knack for breaking a heart that wasn’t even there.


April 30th

Going to the dentist without a proper human ID was a strange course of action. It included Taehyung signing them in, the receptionist noticing the time and remembering who was supposed to come in at this time and was responsible for the emptying of the rest of the day—she looked down rapidly—and Taehyung sitting them down with not a paper to fill out.

A couple questions later and Taehyung decided to spill the beans on the matter.

“I saved the dentist’s daughter from a trafficker a couple years back. He found out it was me, got into contact, and said he had a debt to pay. I declined, told him to forget it ever happened, but instead, he said he knew I had a lot of men without insurance or proof of even being a citizen, and said I could send anyone here, no questions asked. I still pay him even though he tells me not to. I know the struggle. I’m not about to take from a man’s wallet.”

“Woah,” was all Jungkook could say.

They waited in the waiting room patiently. The receptionist informed them they were prepping the room for him. Jungkook fought the urge to play with the toys in the corner of the room. Taehyung rubbed through one of his ears, read a magazine, and sent a pointed look to the man who came in for his recheck medication.

Until someone opened the door and called Jungkook’s name, waving him in with an inviting smile.

Taehyung had to coax him up. It was easy to forget that the boy hadn’t been to an actual establishment since he was rescued. His home was with the Violets, as was his doctor.

It was easy for any other normal person to forget. Taehyung caught onto every social cue. Every dart of his eyes, every jolt of his shoulders. The sound of the drill in the other room screwed his ears up, taking a step back until Taehyung eased him forward again.

He was remarkable for his first time. He did hang his head submissively when he passed the nurse who called him in, and his sock-clad feet didn’t really know where to go until Taehyung guided him, fully believing that everywhere was off limits for his kind.

He flinched, short-circuited, got quiet, but the fact that he wasn’t cowering under a desk was definitely something to celebrate

The nurse sat him down at his chair and worked minimally with him. Taehyung requested strictly that the doctor work with him as much as possible.

The only thing she got out of him was X-Rays on his teeth. Normally, this would be the patient’s second appointment and all things would be preempted, but all hail the Viper, they supposed.

The rubber slabs hurt. They dug into his gums and underneath his tongue. His eyes watered and winced closed and little whines trickled from his mouth. Taehyung rubbed at his hand and talked him through it, told him how cool it would be to see his teeth.

She showed them the X-Rays on the screen, announced the doctor would be in shortly, and left the room. Taehyung pointed which teeth were which, molars and canines, but when he started adding pre as a suffix, Jungkook tapped out.

The doctor was an older man, in his fifties, but he didn’t move around like one. He was spry, lean and slender, a goofy smile on his face. He looked like the kids loved him.

“Well, is this the boy I’ve been waiting to meet for two weeks now?” the dentist greeted him.

His hands were on his hips. Not in his pockets like Hoseok so often did. It spoke volumes. A man with hands eager to work instead of sorted away, and a man of high calculation and examination putting his hands at ease so his head could do the talking.

Taehyung snorted. “I didn’t make you wait. You wanted the whole day to do it.”

“Well, of course. I have a special patient to tend to. It’s nice to finally meet you, Jungkook. I’m Dr. Lee. I’m going to be taking care of your teeth from now on.”

He held his hand out, and the hybrid shook it cautiously. Shaking hands still made no sense to his below-society hands. That was for the humans with suits and pearl necklaces.

“Hi, Dr. Lee.”

“Boy, have you got some pretty teeth, Jungkook.” Dr. Lee ducked his head to look at his mouth, lips open in awe. “Those front teeth match those ears, alright, but the rest of them are just so straight. No braces?”

“N—No, sir. They said I didn’t need them.” They . The people who grew him in a test tube.

“They were certainly on the right track. You’ve got the loveliest teeth. You’re a lucky one for that. Now,” he started, sitting down on his stool and rolling forward. “I hear we’ve got some issues with these perfect teeth. Taehyung here informed me of the length of time you were at your last residence. Did you have any access to oral hygiene?”

Residence . Jungkook wondered just how much Taehyung let slip, but in the meantime, he just shook his head.

“No toothbrush? Mouthwash?”

Another shake.

“Five years,” Taehyung offered up. “Five years they denied him all hygiene products.”

Dr. Lee glanced his way. He’d gotten the rundown. Some deadbeat owners who didn’t give him a life at all. He knew the boy came out of there in rough shape, was still mentally behind, and physically weary, but he wasn’t given specifics.

Seeing him now, it was hard to believe that the hybrid didn’t even have shampoo to rinse his hair with.

“No brushing for five years, huh? That’s not good, bud. We recommend at least twice a day. At first glance, your teeth are doing okay. That makes you feel better, right? They aren’t rotting in the front where you can see them. But, that doesn’t mean the inside is healthy, and I bet you’ve been feeling that, haven’t you?”

“Mhm,” Jungkook hummed with a shy nod. He was the epitome of shy today. “Hurts when I bite down or food gets in them.”

“That’s because your little teeth are failing, Jungkook. Let me tell you a fun story about how teeth start to fail. First it starts with cavities. Cavities are tooth decay. When I say decay, imagine your teeth dying,” Dr. Lee explained with expressive hands, gloves flying through the air. “As the cavity continues to worsen without any further care, the decay carries down to the pulp. Now, that’s what we call all the good stuff inside your tooth, like the nerves that help you feel.”

“Like the pulp in orange juice?”

“Precisely. The thick stuff. Now, that’s when things start to really hurt and bacteria gets involved. The deeper the decay gets, the more damaged the tooth gets. Once it reaches the root of the tooth, that’s when we turn to root canals.”

“Hoseok said he thinks I’ll need some of those.”

Dr. Lee looked to Taehyung in question, in which he further explained, “Our doctor on base.”

“And he’s probably right,” Dr. Lee continued. “With five years of zero dental hygiene, root canals are probably our first step. That’s why I blocked this whole day out just for you.”

“Doc also mentioned replacements if the tooth was past saving. Think we can do that today if it’s needed?” Taehyung asked, leaning back in his seat next to Jungkook’s patient chair. “I don’t want him doing anymore visits than necessary.”

“Unfortunately, if I want to do the best by Jungkook, considering every alley of his health, implanting a tooth immediately after extraction is not the best idea.”

Taehyung nodded curtly. “What’s the reasoning?”

Dr. Lee always hated being in the hot seat when it was Taehyung doing the questioning.

“The success rate is much lower than if we waited three months to implant. I prefer even four. The tooth is less likely to anchor down to the actual bone if implanted the same day,” he said. “By adding a bone graft and seeing him again in four months, our success rate will wager much higher and he won’t have to worry about recheck appointments and revision surgery.”

“Good enough for me,” Taehyung said, because if it meant taking Jungkook in less, he’d do it. A professional in killing didn’t know much about teeth, so he stepped aside. “Do what you think will fix him up quicker.”

“Alright. So, Jungkook, let me start by saying your X-Rays look magnificent.” The boy’s ears perked up. “Your wisdom teeth look like they may need removal, but not right now. That’s a very common procedure we do here and you’ll do just fine. Besides that, everything looks good, no obstructions or abscesses.”

“How soon do you think he’ll need his wisdom taken out?”

“Looking at the size of his mouth and the direction they’re growing in, I’d say a year. Once he starts to feel some pressure in the back of his mouth, give me a call. We’ll get him in.” Dr. Lee gripped one of his armrests and placed his foot on a pedal. “I’m gonna lean you back, Jungkook. Just rest easy. I’m gonna start looking in your mouth now. Is that okay?”

Jungkook nodded, eyes switching over to Taehyung to help read the situation. Taehyung didn’t seem concerned, so he shut his eyes and let the chair lay him back. Admittedly, he wasn’t ready for this and his tail was cramped underneath him.

He didn’t like being asked to open wide. He’d heard it before over the years and it never led to anything good. But through the bright light shining down into his eyes, a metal instrument and Taehyung’s hawk eyes were all he saw, so he opened wide and shoved back the leftovers of abuse.

Metal clanking around in his mouth made him wince every time. The dentist kept telling him to cry wolf if anything hurt, but everything hurt and he certainly didn’t have the bravery to talk that much.

Dr. Lee kept making noises when he’d see a blackened tooth in the little mirror in his mouth. He was starting to feel like every tooth was going to fall out of his head right here in the dental chair.

“Good news is, some of these are just cavities and will do just fine with some fillings. But a few of these will need root canals, buddy. They’re all the way down to the root.” Dr. Lee drew his hands out of Jungkook’s mouth and frowned when he saw both eyes clenched shut and nose scrunched. “You poor thing. I know those have to hurt.”

“They’re that bad?” Taehyung asked, stroking an ear, already punching himself for not noticing sooner. The hybrid was a mastermind in cloaking his pain.

“They’re pretty bad, but if I really do my best, I can save him from any implants. As far away as we can get from taking out his natural teeth, the better.”

Taehyung sighed in relief, letting his eyes close. “Thank Christ. I didn’t want him losing any teeth today.” He opened them just to smile them down at Jungkook, pushing his ears back and coddling them. “I know he didn’t, either.”

Dr. Lee took a well needed moment to observe them, take in the precious moment of Taehyung putting someone else's needs before his. Doing his very best with what others would call a lost cause, refusing the idea that anyone could ever be lost.

“Then I’ll work my magic. How does that sound, Jungkook?”

The hybrid tucked his ears back, getting them twisted in Taehyung’s smoothing hands. “If you can save them..."

“Then I’ll save every last one of them. Give me a second to plan all this out and I’ll be back in. We’ll start the procedures as soon as possible so you aren’t here all night.”

Dr. Lee left the room with gloves snapped off of his wrists. Taehyung kept smoothing Jungkook’s ears back, loved the way his eyes draped closed and his hair hugged his ears with open arms.

“You’re doing so well, Jungkook.”

“Thank you,” he whispered. “I’m a little scared, but I’m trying to be brave.”

“I hate that I have to ask you of that. But just this one last time. After today, the only thing you have to ever be is a spoiled little rabbit.”

Jungkook liked the sound of that. His tail fought to wiggle underneath his weight, pinned to the chair.

When the dentist came back, he was accompanied by a bustier woman. All the nurses he’d seen so far were thin and primed. This woman looked all work and no fun, hair in a tight bun and glasses high on her nose.

Taehyung didn’t like the look of her. Not that a woman on a mission was something he’d ever frown down at, but when it came to Jungkook, he needed over the top kind.

“See? I wasn’t gone for long, now was I?” Dr. Lee asked and sat down back in his rolly chair. “This is Rina. She will be my assistant today. It’s very important that I have her here today because we will be doing general anesthesia. Now, do you know what that means, Jungkook?”

“They’re sleepy drugs…” he murmured, and Taehyung smiled down at his lap.

“That’s right. Normally we do what we call local anesthesia. That’s where we just numb your mouth or the tooth we’re working on. But for patients that may not do so well with the drilling and all the loud noises, we use the general anesthesia.”

Children, usually, but he left that part out.

“I think I would do okay with the noises,” Jungkook said, words seeping his mouth with unconfidence.

Dr. Lee looked to Taehyung for answers, and Taehyung sat up straight, shaking his head.

“Baby, we’re doing the sleepy drugs, okay?” was all he had to say for Jungkook to nod and go back to looking at his feet.

“Now, for me to do this, Rina has to be here. She is a nurse anesthetist. That means she’s trained in keeping you safe while you’re under anesthesia so I can focus on your teeth. To minimize trauma, we’ll be putting an oxygen mask on you instead of inserting a breathing tube. Those can make your throat sore for a couple days after.”

“I won’t be able to breathe?”

“Not predictably, no. Your body will be totally asleep, and not the type that you have at night. We can’t be for sure that you’re breathing okay unless we monitor you.”

That brought up plenty of reasons to keep Taehyung up another night. How deep was his sedative back at the Opalites? Was his body so unhinged that any moment he could have stopped breathing or aspirated? How many times did he get lucky?

A few more explanations and Rina stood to the side of Jungkook, tying a bright green band around his upper arm to cut off blood flow. His fingers felt tingly when she stabilized his arm for the dentist, who held up a sterile syringe needle full of a white, milky liquid that made his heart race.

Taehyung’s voice was in his ear, but he couldn’t pick out a single word. The needle neared his arm, aimed for the pulsing, blue vein under his pale skin. Taehyung was talking, but black edged around his eyes.

“Sit still, fluffball. If I break this needle in your arm and you get tetanus, I don’t wanna hear your crying,” one of the men said, looming over his thrashing body like it was in the way.

“I don’t—I don’t want it. Please, p—please, I’ll be good. You can touch me, I won’t stop you. I don’t wanna sleep.”

“Sit fuckin’ still, you mangy whore,” he growled, and slammed Jungkook’s shoulder into the ground, huffing over his cry of peril.

Gouging Jungkook’s stomach out with his knee to keep him still, another Opalite grabbed him by his hair and pulled it until it almost split, spit flying from his mouth when he hissed, “Go to sleep so we don’t have to hear that whiny voice of yours.”

Jungkook craned his head back in an attempt to save his scalp and shook it all at once, bruised body scratching against the floor.

“Don’t wanna sleep. Don’t wanna sleep. Be good. I promise.”

The executioner finally steadied his arm well enough to jab the needle into his vein, cringing when he felt the metal scrape across the inside of it.

Jungkook yelped, twisting and turning but all it did was hurt everything worse. His hair tugged on his scalp and organs shifted underneath the knee stabbing through to his spine.

He’d let them do anything they wanted. He’d hold his tongue and bite back the tears and make his eyes all pretty. He did his best to be good all the time. He didn’t understand why they wanted to put him to sleep just to play with his body. It was the same when he was awake, just able to remember everything.

“There we go. Not worth a whole fucking ordeal, shithead. Just take the good stuff and go frolic in a field,” the man responsible for his blurring vision said. “All we’re gonna do is play with that hole of yours. Nothing you ain’t used to.”

“Scared… don’t…”

“Shut the fuck up already,” the other griped, genuinely annoyed that he hadn’t dropped unconscious yet. “I’ve been waiting all day for this.”

The last thing he saw was hunger, and the last thing he felt was a hand grabbing his thigh like it wanted him to break.

Taehyung saw it coming. He saw the spiral. Predicted where they were heading when Jungkook’s pupils dilated at the approaching needle.

But hell, he wasn’t expecting this.

“W—Wait,” Jungkook suddenly stammered.

Taehyung leaned in close, thought this was a fear they had to work through instead of take a warning from, and spoke calmly into his ear.

“You’re okay. I’m right here,” Taehyung said. “You can do this. Everything’s going to be okay.”

The needle touched his skin and he felt hands on his thighs and the piercing eyes of a starving vulture who watched his prey limp in the heat for days. His chest rattled and his lungs stopped in time.

He kicked up a little bit, pushing himself away from the needle, but Taehyung kept reassuring him instead of telling the dentist to pull back. The hands.

“I said wait. I said wait. P—Please—”

Panic rose until it sprayed. Until the pressure blew the top off and all he knew at that moment was that he needed to get away. Taehyung’s voice faded, sterile gloves and masks got lost in translation, and the woman holding his arm had a knee in his gut and a hand down his spine.

“No. No!” he screamed, and forgot where he was.

He started flipping, trying to crawl back, flinching violently away from the stranger’s—Taehyung’s—hands that desperately tried to grab his face to bring him back to the surface of the water he was drowning in. He kicked, he wailed his arms, and Dr. Lee breeched back, removing the needle from the equation.

Taehyung spoke to him rationally and firmly, hoping to break through glazed eyes and continuous spewing of no and please. Dr. Lee calmly put space between them.

But Rina. The ghastly witch, Taehyung decided in a matter of seconds, tightened her hold on Jungkook’s arm and braced her own over his chest, strapping him back against the chair.

Dr. Lee got one good word out, “Rina, hold off—” before Taehyung got his two cents in.

“Get her out of here. Get that Goddamn idiot out of here,” Taehyung shouted, finding it hard to hear himself over Jungkook’s pleading.

Dr. Lee demanded she leave, which she did so hastily, pushed by the fury in Taehyung’s eyes and the obvious intent to hurt her if she weren’t a female. He’d go even on a woman trained in the field, but not a heavy-set nurse.

The second she let go, Jungkook collapsed. He fell back on the chair and drew his legs up, sobbing cheeks red with tears when he weakly nuzzled in Taehyung’s direction, searching for somewhere safe to put his sensitive nose.

Taehyung wrapped him up smoothly, hugging him to his chest, shushing into his neck even though it was beat-red to the eye.

“You’re okay. You’re okay. I’ve got you. Not a damn thing in this world can touch you if I’ve got you.”

“Taehyung,” Jungkook cried, grabbing at his shirt. “I can be good awake. I can be. I swear.”

Taehyung shook his head. “I know you can be, but I don’t want you scared. We have to do this, sugar. You can’t think about what they did. You’re going to hurt yourself running away from it.”

“Didn’t wanna be held down,” he murmured weakly, the struggle taking its tole on him. “She was like them.”

“I know. I know. She won’t be back in here.”

“That might be a problem,” Dr. Lee said, sounding stable even if he was clearly shaken. “She’s my only nurse certified in anesthesia. I can’t legally perform under anesthesia without a certified nurse in the room.”

“Well, then you’re not gonna like what I’ve got to say next, Doc.”

“What?” he asked wearily.

“The only way this is going to work is if I put that needle in his arm. I’m the only one he’ll trust to do it.”

You?" Dr. Lee asked incredulously. “Letting you administer Propofol under my supervision is about the most negligent thing I can do.”

“No questions asked,” he said, tenderly peeling himself from a very sniffly, droopy hybrid. “That was the deal.”

“Yeah, no questions. I don’t care where you got him from. I care that you’re trying to practice bad medicine—illegal medicine—in my office.”

Taehyung stood up, wiped the tears from underneath Jungkook’s eyes with his thumb, and held his hand out in front of the dentist. The syringe sat idly just out of his reach.

Dr. Lee looked like he’d just been kicked out of his own skin.

“You’re serious?”

“Do I make jokes, Lee? No. I make cities erupt. Give me the syringe or the kid isn’t going under.”

It shook in his hand when he dropped it in Taehyung’s palm, every law he ever agreed to when he received his degree flashing before his eyes, like he’d died. He hadn’t yet, but his career may very well.

“I could lose my license over this.”

“Guess we’ll just have to keep this between you and me,” Taehyung said, and kneeled next to the bunny going in and out of reality. “I’m good at keeping secrets. And so are you, remember, Doc?”


Two root canals, five porcelain cavities, and a deep cleaning later, Jungkook was waking up and Taehyung was fighting sleep.

It took four and a half hours. At the first sign of him being knocked out, the dentist had been at hard work from the get-go. Forced to focus on removing decay, he also had to monitor Jungkook’s breathing and vitals. He managed, but not without beads of sweat that eventually collected in his collarbones.

“When he wakes up, how loopy is he going to be?”

“Funny enough, not as bad as if we gave him laughing gas. It’ll take him a minute to remember where he is, but after that, he’ll just be a little loose lipped.”

“So he won’t be seeing rainbows and aliens?”

“No,” Dr. Lee chuckled. “But he might want to tell you all of his feelings.”

“Hell, I should’ve done this sooner.”

They expected Jungkook to wake up crying. It was the only thing they could guess he’d do if he thought he was waking up at the Opalites again. Instead, when he woke up, the first thing he did was look down at himself, saw his clothed body, and dropped his head back down just a little too hard.

“Woah, easy there,” Taehyung said, cradling his head, soothing at what the seat battered.

“Tae?” he asked into the air, eyes elsewhere, for some reason looking at the far right corner of the room.

“I’m right here, bunny. I haven’t left. Everything went perfect and you made it out on the other side.”

“I did?” he asked, and winced at the light. “Bright.”

“I bet it is. You’ve been asleep for a while.”

“How long?”

“A good few hours, but you’re awake now. How are you feeling, brave thing?”

“I don’t know,” he muttered, mouth swollen around his words even if everything looked normal. “Hurts, Tae. Tired.”

Dr. Lee reminded him of his existence. “It might be a bit sore for the next day or so. That’s completely normal. It shouldn’t be bad enough to interrupt your daily activities. The two that you’re feeling right now are the root canals.”

“Feels… red,” Jungkook said, touching at his cheek.

“Red?” Taehyung asked in amusement, rubbing his ears, something they both expected from him at all times now. “Good play on words. You mean they feel inflamed?”

“Mhm.”

“That’ll go down overnight,” Dr. Lee said. “I’ve got discharge information for you, and then you can get this little guy home. I think he’s ready to get back.”


Taehyung left Jungkook in the bedroom, promised him he’d be back in just a second, and left him with Hoseok. He was in good hands, and the boy knew he was safe after all the carrying Taehyung did because his legs were too wobbly to hold him up.

He wanted to tell Jimin the boy was back, because both smaller parties craved to be together after such a big step towards his future.

He found Jimin standing at the front of the main area, waiting patiently with his eyes on the door, the night patrol standing next to him with boredom on their faces. At least the day patrol could see what was around them and find something to keep themselves awake with.

“Hey,” Taehyung called out, lifting at the smile Jimin had when he recognized that familiar voice. “Couldn’t find you when I first got here.”

“I was in my room. Sorry, lack of sleep caught up to me.”

“Finally. Shame it takes a collapse before you actually shut your damn eyes,” Taehyung grieved, even though both of them knew it was a genuine problem to him. “Just wanted to tell you Jungkook’s back and in our room. He made it through okay.”

“Shouldn’t you be with him?” Jimin asked, eye coasting to the corner to watch the day patrol trickle in through the front doors.

“He’s delirious. He thinks he’s awake, but the next second he goes limp. He’s not missing me right now,” Taehyung said. “He’ll want to see you, though. I can tell you that much.”

“I’ll pay a visit after I switch patrols. I missed that boy today,” he almost grumbled—like a child.

“I’ll tell you all about it, but he didn’t take the anesthesia well.”

“Go figure,” Jimin said quietly, drawing his shoulders back when their men lined up in front of him. “He doesn’t trust the world awake. He won’t trust it asleep, either.”

“Hey, boss,” one of the men greeted, saluting Taehyung with a cock-eyed grin because sleep was just around the corner. “Everything looked good. No problems tonight.”

“Good,” Taehyung said, nodding his way. “A quiet day is a good day. Never thought I say that.”

Jimin wasn't listening. Taehyung could see his trigger finger a mile away.

Metal clicking slashed through everyone’s attention. Jimin’s holster rocked against his thigh. His handgun flipped in his hand, whistled through the air, and pointed dead at the head of one of their day patrols.

Muscles tensed up. Eyes shot open. Knees locked. Taehyung looked at him wildly, considering just what kind of plan it would be to snatch that weapon out of his hand, and just how valid it was to think that Jimin had finally lost it.

“Hey, what—”

The room wasn’t silent anymore. Chamber aimed at the man’s head, Jimin snapped it down to his leg and fired, stone-cold face and steady chest. His hand didn’t shake, his skin didn’t jump, even when every last body in the room almost dropped to the ground.

Horror fled into every Violet’s face. Jimin had shot down one of their own. The man rolled over on the floor, cried out in pain, tucked his leg to his chest. His knee was shattered.

“Jimin, what the fuck?”

Jimin hadn’t even blinked yet and Taehyung felt like he should be doing anything other than that right now. Jimin holstered his gun and took a step forward, heel loud in the dead silence of the room.

“None of our men left with a green hoodie on this morning," Jimin said eerily evenly. "He's not ours."

Chapter Text

The room fell into an echo of discussion as Jimin briskly approached the enemy writhing around on the floor, clawing at white marble shot with blood next to his cramping leg. He looked up hopelessly when the assassin knelt down next to him.

Jimin grabbed him by his hair and snatched it until he had no choice but to bear his face for all to see.

Jimin smudged his thumb underneath his left eye to smear the thick, cakey foundation, and watched as the elusive, white lines appeared on his skin like a magic act. Taehyung’s eyes hardened. Realization dawned on every man in the room, slack jawed. 

No one had ever infiltrated the Violets’ base. No one had suicidal intentions. The rest of Seoul wanted to stay alive, thank you very much. Apparently a new player to the game didn’t care much for life.

“Whoever sent you didn’t brief you on the men residing here—like me. Your first mistake was stepping in front of me. I can not be fooled, anomaly,” Jimin scowled, personally offended that someone would underestimate him like that.

“Cyanide pill,” was all Taehyung had to instruct, and Jimin roughly took the mystery man's jaw and clawed inward until his mouth popped open.

“Bite me and I’ll bite back, asshole,” Jimin warned, turning his head and looking into his mouth. “Clear. By God, he’s got a tongue, but he doesn’t have a death wish.”

Jimin let his chin go. The man snarled up at him, spit foaming at the mouth, choking on the pain that exploded every time his knee shifted.

“You will soon, though. ‘Cause your mouth is in tact, you slimy little bastard, and you’re gonna be using it after I’m done with you.”

Jimin leant back on his heel and dug his knee into the man’s crunched gut. He figured that was enough to hold down a man debilitated by pain. Surely he couldn’t overthrow Jimin in the state of emergency he was in. 

For the first time in Jimin’s life, he was short-sighted. He had to admit, he let his guard down. In their territory, surrounded by their men, he underestimated the severity of the situation. He didn’t search—he ran his mouth. Running his mouth never did get him anywhere good.

He could hear Taehyung start, “Check him for—” when all hell broke loose.

Hands loose, the anomaly jerked down the collar of his hoodie in a flash, revealing a blinking light that wired down his chest, a beady button in the middle. It begged to be pressed, and when the white-lined man slung his arm up to his chest, heading straight for their demise, hearts stopped like clocks.

It was too fast. Even for a man like Jimin who survived solely on his quick wit and rapidfire reactions.

“Bomb!” Jimin barked, praying to God the men around him knew how to move fast.

Shoes scuttled, shouts blew through the room, and feet danced in a torn war between saving themselves and tackling their two leaders down to safety. In the end, someone reached for the back of Jimin’s shirt and snatched him back, shielding their eyes in a half-second acceptance of death. 

But it didn’t make a difference, because Jimin and Taehyung both knew that all the talk of being the last line of defense—the men who died last to keep the legacy alive—was always just a method to comfort each other.

Taehyung lunged forward instead of backward. No one knew if it was a hopeless attempt to thwart the attack, or perhaps a desperate last chance to throw Jimin somewhere safe. 

That didn’t make a difference either, not when Jimin leaned harder onto the stranger, somehow hoping to shelter the Violets from the blast.

Jimin would cover the explosive with his body and Taehyung would try to beat him to it. They’d take the shrapnel before any of their men could feel the flames. That was the way of the Viper and the Siren. They ran directly into fire knowing their skin could take the burns better than any of their men.

Would. There was no damn way they’d ever have to use present tense. They weren’t planning on going to hell from just one, measly bomb right here in their home. This was their domain. Fuck that. 

No one else got to decide when they finally bit the bullet.

In the blink of an eye, which he didn’t do just in case it sabotaged even an inch of his hand-eye coordination, Jimin had to make a decision: grab his arm and risk him getting around to the button anyways, or, well… the way they always did things.

Jimin snapped his gun up, felt the adrenaline run his blood at hyperspeed, and fired a bullet into the anomaly’s head. 

His hand shook. His hand never shook. But he’d also never been sat on top of a bomb and his best friend just feet away from him. Even his nerves couldn’t stand tall at that.

Too fast, he thought once again with a little shaky laugh in the back of his head. Nothing was ever too fast for a snake or a killer.

The blast of the bullet shredded his skull, but it didn’t blow his hand away. Hovered above the button, it dropped lifelessly, and Jimin was already cursing himself to the seven realms when Taehyung’s knees crashed to the floor.

The Viper caught the dead hand on the detonator. His knuckles twitched against the blinking light. He threw it to the side, pissed at an inanimate object and no shame in sight.

The room’s air shifted. The Violets waited in horror to hear their leader speak or see their assassin rest his hard shoulders. They fell, and Taehyung sighed his whole life away. Heads hung in relief and talk skipped across the room.

“Fuck me. Sorry.” Jimin leaned back, out of breath. “Guess you can’t question a dead man.”

“Couldn’t just knock him out?”

Jimin shook his head vehemently. “I’m not risking him pressing that button when Jungkook’s in the building and you’re right there. A dead man with answers is better than a dead Violet.”

Taehyung cracked his neck, chewing on the inside of his cheek. Pissed was an understatement. Pissed was calling an angry cat with claws at the ready grumpy. Pissed was elementary compared to the animosity grooming his heart to grow into a morsel of murder.

“You just watched a war begin,” Taehyung suddenly announced, pulling himself up, tall as the clouds and casting a shadow over his men. “And I swear to you, you’ll watch it end too.” Eyes as firm as his tongue—the windows to the fires of hell. “I want every person you don’t know, dead. If you suspect someone, you bring them straight to me. They’re slithering in our halls, on our grounds. You don’t take a snake down without taking it’s head. Believe me, I know.”

“If you hesitate, just know they will die in the end,” Jimin added, putting his gun away. “Today or in a month, they will die. End their suffering while you can.”

“White lined tattoos are the Violets’ official target. Use them as practice,” Taehyung declared, finger itching to pull his trigger in a crowd. “This city is ours and it looks like there’s some rotten kids running amok trying to get their fingerprints on our crown who need reminding of that.”

Footsteps sounded through the nearly silent room.

Oh.”

The two and their speechless men all turned at the voice of their residential doctor. Hoseok blinked down at the dead body, confusion clear on his face, but he’d always been a pro at leaving things alone. Cleaning and prepping wounds was always so much easier than asking how they got there.

“Don’t worry. It’s handled,” Taehyung reassured him.

“It always is,” Hoseok smiled, keeping his cool under all the damn eyes on him—could they not. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but Jungkook’s asking for you.”

Words flew from mouth to mouth at the name of the mythical rabbit. Those not close enough to hear fed on the grapevine. He was still the topic of choice amongst the Violets. 

Taehyung’s eyes widened. “He’s already awake?”

“Yeah,” he said with a nod. “He’s okay. Just wanting you very specifically.”

“I…” He sighed, looking at the mess around him. The real one, and the one in the air and in every mind in the room. He ran a hand through his hair.

“Go,” Jimin decided for him, nodding towards the far rooms. “He comes first. He’s asking for you, isn’t he?”

“But—”

“I’ve got this. Go.”

“Fuck. Fine.” He gave in easy knowing a bunny was waiting for him back in his room. “Just because you’re on it. I want a patrol team sent out to search for our missing man.” His hard eyes fell on the dead enemy, voice falling in deep. “I don’t want him just laying out there in the woods like he doesn’t mean anything to anyone.”

“I know,” Jimin said, allowing his adrenaline to step aside for a more gentle approach. He knew how important Taehyung’s men were to him. They were his castaways who found something worth living for with him. “He means something to us. We’ll find him.”

“I want you on the patrol team.”

“You got it, boss. Get out of here.”

Joining alongside Hoseok, he took a few steps with the doctor, just enough to start Jimin on pushing off of the body. He stopped, turned around.

“Do you remember who you sent out this morning… who didn’t come back?”

Casting a quick glance to the grouped men recovering from the shock, he nodded with a pinch in his throat.

“Yeah.” Eyes on brains. “Mingyu.”

“Mingyu,” Taehyung said again. “Find Mingyu.”


 

“How’s he doing?”

“As good as a hybrid’s going to get after waking up from sedation. He wants his owner, attention, and comfort. He's pretty drugged up, talking like he doesn't have the filter he usually does," Hoseok said. "He didn’t know where he was at first. All he said was your name.”

Oh, well if Taehyung hadn’t already fallen into yet another hole of an expanding reality, he was tumbling down some stairs now. Thing is, setting up for war with an unknown perpetrator was a piece of cake compared to being the first thing a vulnerable creature thought of when they woke up from sedation.

The little sparks in his skin told a different story. Like fireworks just pelting him from within. God, he couldn’t wait to get in there and bring relief to that sweet boy’s face and he was just smitten, damn it.

“Was he scared?”

“I wouldn’t say scared. More like… he knew something was missing. He wasn’t home per say until he saw you. I could imagine waking up floating off the ground and head spinning without your owner could be a bit frazzling.”

“Well aren’t you just observant,” Taehyung tutted, earning himself a grin. “I should’ve been there. I didn’t think I’d be gone that long.” 

They stopped before the bedroom door, Taehyung’s hand on the doorknob, heart thumping in his chest. A glazed over bunny was in there waiting for him, probably throwing those little stars in his eyes all over the place.

“You had business to attend to. He understands.”

“You’re not going to ask what happened out there?” Taehyung asked.

Hoseok shrugged. “I know that whatever it is, you’ll see it to the end. I’ll just be in the way if I get involved. That’s what you’re for.” He leaned closer to the door, prompting them forward. “Besides, I’ve got a patient that needs me. Keeping people healthy and alive is my only reason for being here. Even if that’s when the whole place is coming down.”

Violets did their jobs to the end. Hacking the systems. Keeping watch outside for out of control havoc or escapees. Supplying weapons. Protecting lesser men who were still stuck on the streets mentally. And tending to the wounded. 

A job was a job and Taehyung expected nothing less from one of his men.

“Every second you take care of him, I owe you, Hoseok. Remember that.”

He left for the door, and Hoseok followed him in humbly, a quiet recipient of praise. Taehyung turned the corner, saw the sight in his bed, and washed all of the world ending rivalry right off his body.

Jungkook laid tight under the covers on his back, head turned upward, seemingly moving around fitfully, hair thrown about on his head and mouth hung open, breathing slow and heavy. He cracked his eyes open to look for his new visitors, hoping to God the nice doctor brought his owner back to him.

He saw Taehyung and stars just fell everywhere.

He blinked those wide eyes open, and then his ears flopped over on his head, so overwhelmed with need to see his owner that everything just kind of fell over. His eyes went all needy and his eyebrows curved upward and his bunny teeth were a step away from suckling his bottom lip.

“T—Tae!” he said in surprise, but more than anything, desperation. 

Taehyung expected him to be happy. Not falling apart at the seams. He looked like the first night he got him, just withering away for someone to touch him with careful hands and talk sweetly to him. 

You’d think Taehyung had punished him, wrapped him up in cruel words, and locked him away for a night with the way he clamored up onto his butt like a deprived pet.

“Hey, hey,” Taehyung hushed, rushing over to the bed. If he didn’t, Jungkook might just crawl over to him. “Settle. You need to keep resting.”

“I just wanted Tae,” he whined, reaching out his hands like a toddler, grabbing for Taehyung’s shirt. “Didn’t know where you were.”

God those puffy cheeks were going to pull his heart apart like a thin, frayed string. It put weight on his face, and Taehyung wanted him healthy and plump more than ever.

“Oh, I’m sorry, precious. You were still out of it when I left. I didn’t mean to miss you waking up,” Taehyung said, hurrying to sit next to him before he toppled off the bed.

Jungkook grabbed at his shirt and you’d think a koala’s DNA was implanted into his. He pushed his nose into Taehyung’s neck and bunched up against him, humming unhappily in the back of his throat.

“You’re here now.”

“And I’m not going anywhere.” He rubbed long, fat lines down his back. “How are you feeling?”

“I—I’m okay but… but those sounds. Is everyone okay?”

“Oh, Jungkook, I’m fine. Those sounds don’t matter right now. I'll tell you all about them later. Let's talk about you instead.”

Jungkook didn't push the subject. He never did.

“My head feels really light. Like it might go away if I don’t think hard enough,” Jungkook mumbled.

“What about your mouth?”

“Feels weird too.”

“Does it hurt?”

“A little,” he murmured, and tugged at Taehyung’s heart—literally, at his shirt, like a kid begging for attention. “But Hoseokie gave me something for it.”

“Yeah?” he asked, pushing Jungkook’s sad ears back, craning back to try and see his face. “I don’t want my bunny hurting, so you let me know if it gets bad, okay?”

“Okay, Tae…” He fussed at being pulled away and just pressed his twitching nose harder into the edge of Taehyung’s jaw. “Your bunny,” he said as fuzzy as his stomach was.

Hoseok smirked from the sidelines. He had a degree in medicine. He was certified in countless surgeries. Studying kicked his ass until it was sore every time he sat down at his desk. Some infatuation and early puppy love wasn’t hard for him to catch onto.

“Well, you are mine.”

Hoseok cleared his throat. “Before I feel like I’m hearing something I shouldn’t, let me check his mouth so I can go away and leave you two alone.”

Examining the boy’s mouth, Hoseok monitored the swelling and redness of his gums. Jungkook grasped weakly onto his wrist, wincing the whole way through, nails scratching into his skin.

“His jaw is going to be sore for a couple of days from being open for so long. Tooth pain is obvious, but the pain and anti-inflammatories will keep that under wraps. I also gave him an antibiotic. Messing around with teeth really spreads bacteria around.”

Frowning at the clear discomfort on Jungkook’s face, Taehyung shooed his medical hand away. 

“You’ve looked long enough. Let him rest.”

“Yeah, yeah. And one more thing. Make sure you do two things tonight: tell me if he’s experiencing fever symptoms, and keep the food on his stomach light. Anesthesia is never easy on the stomach.”

“First we fast him over night, now he can barely eat,” Taehyung sighed. “Seems redundant when we’re trying to get his weight up.”

“I know, but just until the morning. You act like you’ve never had to fork up some luxuries for medical improvement.”

I’m different. I can go days without eating. It’s him,” Taehyung said, petting down Jungkook’s ears while he massaged at his jaw with his little, soft fingers. “If his stomach growls, I’m gonna get hot.”

“You can host a feast for him in the morning for all I care. It’s better than him puking his guts up, right?”

“I know,” Taehyung said, disgruntled, at his daily cap of letting Hoseok see the other side of the moon. “He should be tired enough to sleep through it tonight. I’ll follow instructions, Doc. Don’t worry. I’ve got him from here.”

“Sure. Take him from me, why don’t you,” Hoseok joked, but they both knew it came from somewhere validated. He smiled down at Jungkook. “Make Taehyung come get me if it hurts too much or something doesn’t feel right. You aren’t supposed to be overly uncomfortable. You’ve got this, buddy. I know you can do it.”

“Thank you, Hoseokie,” he mumbled, feelings still hurt from the mouth examination.

Hoseok left the room with a wave to the two of them, but mostly to the hybrid who waved back with a weak hand, fingers falling over into his palm.

Alone, Taehyung pulled his meddlesome hands away from his jaw. “You did so good waking up, you know that?”

“I did?”

“You sure did. You weren’t even a bit scared. Sleepy, but of course you were,” and as he said it, he could hear the dripping, sweet honey in his own voice. “We had you asleep.”

His mouth had never been a honeycomb, but a wasp’s nest. Honey didn’t seep from his words or sit in his teeth. Heedless malice and spite did. Two bunny ears and a tail turned his words to syrup.

He’d watched himself spiral before. In enragement. In vengeance. In madness. In disassociation. All of which usually ended in poor decisions and outcomes, dead bodies, and broken things. 

Spiraling was something Taehyung knew well, but seeing himself spiral in adoration was a first. To think of someone as precious—to him, and just as—took his world, crumbled it up, and forced him to smooth out the wrinkles and figure out what the fuck kind of world he lived in now.

“I wasn’t scared because I saw you,” he admitted. “You wouldn’t let anyone do anything bad to me.”

“Not unless they took me down first, which I think we both know isn’t going to happen. C’mon,” Taehyung said. “Lay back. You’re gonna get dizzy.”

“Is that what I’m feeling?”

Taehyung chuckled. “I don’t know. Maybe. You’re supposed to be telling me how you feel.”

Jungkook let those magic hands do all the work. He followed their commands, let Taehyung maneuver him by his hips and waist and arms, all up until he laid his head back on the pillow. 

God, he loved when Taehyung touched him. His skin lifted off of his body every time. 

Taehyung wasn’t complaining. A big part of who he was played on control. He liked knowing the bones under his hands were fragile, and that the hybrid moved with such obedience under his touch. A guilty pleasure, if you will.

“There we go. Your head’s still sensitive, so that means you can’t go throwing it around or getting excited. As much as it hits home to see you perking up, I need you to stay calm tonight. Can you do that?”

Jungkook hummed like a good boy, then, “So good to me. I have to be good for you.”

“You don’t have to be. I’d still keep you even if you were a mean, little thing,” he said. “I just got lucky with you.”

“I do have to be. I’m happy, and it’s because of you. I just want to be the best for you,” and in came the loose lips on his loopy head. Taehyung knew it had to come eventually. “Everyone will be so jealous when you finally let me out with you.”

“What was that?” Taehyung asked again, because even he could be taken aback from time to time.

“Other hybrids are gonna be jealous, Tae,” he repeated, pushing his nose into the pillow. His face itched. “I’ve got the most handsome owner who goes so easy on me.” It really itched. He rubbed his cheek into the fabric. “Even when I’m a bad boy.”

Taehyung didn’t blush. He didn’t have it in him to do so. But his skin and his chest were too different things and he was burning internally.

“You’re never a bad boy. You could throw a temper tantrum and you still wouldn’t be bad.”

“Won’t be bad for you,” Jungkook said in a fairly far away voice. The sedation was fighting it’s way back into his eyes.

“You’re going out of it, baby. I can see it,” Taehyung said sadly. “How about you close your eyes for a second?”

“Not tired.”

“You’re slurring and your eyes are barely open. Don’t tell me you aren’t tired. Close your eyes, stop motion blurring them, and I’ll go get you something light to put on your stomach so you can go to sleep.”

His eyes fought back open. “You’re leaving again?”

“Just for a second. Just to get you something to eat. You know I’m not going to stay away for long.”

“But… but…” His bottom lip fell hopelessly, until he swallowed his tiny argument and rolled over in bed, shoved his face into the pillow, and nodded reluctantly. “Okay,” he relented, muffled.

“You’re such a bunny right now,” Taehyung said fondly, smiling down at the bubblegum hissy fit he called earlier. “Don’t be pouty. I can’t take pouty you. Cuddle up to that pillow and breathe it in, okay? I’ll be right back.”

Sedated Jungkook really pulled the sappiness out of Taehyung—wiped off the cobwebs on his sweet voice mechanics. He was just too fucking cute and open with his hybrid genetics. He was needy, high-pitched, and falling over himself to get ahold of Taehyung’s attention.

Or Taehyung was just lying to himself and this was who he was now. Only time would tell.

Floppy ears bounced around in a final nod and Taehyung left to get something to put on the boy’s stomach. Half way down the hall, a horrifying thought bogged down his head, and eventually his stomach.

Is this what Jungkook was like during his heat—but ten times worst? Nuzzling his nose into everything, whining until the sun came up. Grabbing and wrapping his fingers around everything, not a damn thing safe from his deprived hands.

He didn’t think about the other aspects of a heat, waiting patiently for one of his cooks to gather a plate for Jungkook. That wasn’t a line he was ready to cross. Not because it was unthinkable, but because it wasn’t

The distinct interest in experiencing that side of Jungkook—small as a pen-point but big enough to blot out his mind—was the scariest part. It should be an immediate decline in his head, not a fluctuation.

“You don’t look like you’re having fun fighting it anymore.”

Jungkook had to peel his eye open, but kept the other pressed against the pillow. At least one side of his head could keep asleep.

“You were right.”

“I usually am,” he teased, sitting on the edge of the bed with a plate in his lap. “Sit up for me. It won’t take long.”

“Wanna sleep.”

“Oh, now you do. You can’t sleep without putting something on your stomach or you’ll have fasted for over twenty-four hours. I don’t know about you, but I am not okay with you not eating for that long.” Taehyung rubbed at his back. “I’m not asking you, bun. You gotta do it.”

His ears fell forward on his head when he perched up on his elbows, sleepily sitting up. His jaw quivered with a yawn that never crossed the finish line.

“Okay…”

“Thank you. Bland chicken will be easy on your stomach, just like the doctor ordered. It’s not going to taste amazing, but you’re not picky, are you?”

Jungkook shook his head. “Uh-uh. As long as I’m not hungry again.”

“I won’t ever let you be…” he said absentmindedly, hoping he wasn’t too pushy in monitoring how fast Jungkook ate his chicken. He picked it apart with his hands, shredding it into little pieces. “Are you warm any? Hurting?”

“No. Kinda itchy, but doesn’t hurt.”

“You might be itching due to a reaction to the anesthesia. Doesn’t seem so bad so far. You’re not breaking out in a rash, are you?” Jungkook shook his head. “Good. I’ll bring it up with Hoseok.”

He got Jungkook to finish eating at least three-fourths of the chicken. Never had he ever denied a meal after years of being starved, putting his discomfort in plain sight. They’d already capped out on his pain meds though, and Hoseok simply explained that due to him being a hybrid, his pain tolerance was extremely lower than any of them.

So he tucked the boy in and hugged him close, talking to him about his day. Neither of them were tired enough to sleep, but were too down and out to do anything other than listen to the crickets outside.

In the midst of Jungkook detailing what he dreamed of during his sedation, someone knocked on the door.

“Yes?” Taehyung called out, stomach twisting at the idea of it being someone unwelcomed. His room was off riddance, but the occasional idiot strayed off the path.

“It’s Jimin.”

The knot in his stomach unravelled. “Get in here.”

Jimin peeked around the corner, and when he breathed, it was utterly destitudous.

“Oh. Didn’t mean to interrupt the cutest thing that’s ever happened on this planet,” he griped, fingers twitching by his hip where they normally held onto his holster.

He couldn’t be near a weapon right now when God’s finest creation was right in front of him.

Taehyung’s arm under his head, Jungkook had to look over his shoulder to see Jimin, the two facing each other in their quiet conversations. His tail picked up speed through the blanket and his eyes took a major hit.

“Jiminie!”

“Calm, remember?” Taehyung reminded him gently, revealing his arm from under the blankets—Jimin wondered what that was doing—to squeeze his shoulder.

“Sorry,” Jungkook whined, and suffered pitifully with that tail going crazy and his ears drooping just at the tips. He wanted to run over there so bad.

“I’m coming over there, don’t worry, bunny. Don’t look so sad or I’m pretty sure my heart’s going to give out,” Jimin said, placing a bandaid over the bunny’s wounded feelings. “Oh, look at that tail, you little, fluffy thing.”

Jungkook preened deep in his throat and stretched his hand out, frowning.

“You can sit up and go see him,” Taehyung permitted.

He didn’t waste any time, meeting Jimin before his butt could even make contact with the edge of the bed. He tangled his arms up around Jimin’s neck, nose twitching like crazy. 

Jimin laughed, pulling him in close, bobbing him side to side in his arms. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner, but you knew I wouldn’t miss coming to see you, right?”

“Mhm. You always come.”

“You got that right. How’re you feeling?”

“Okay. Hurts a little bit but Hoseokie said it’s because bunnies like me hurt easier.”

Jimin nodded over his head, and addressed Taehyung. “He gonna give him something in the morning?”

Taehyung stretched his arms over his head and let them drop lazily onto the pillow, muscles flexing in his arms.

“Yeah. He said he’ll give him a good dose tomorrow when the sedation isn’t still fucking with his system. Something about possible irreversible damage known to happen in hybrids, like paralysis. Not trying to risk it.”

“You take his legs and I’ll take yours,” Jimin threatened half-heartedly and gave a big, fat smooch on the hybrid’s head. “I heard you did really well, but the anesthesia was a little scary. I’m proud of you big time, little guy.”

Jungkook leant back, ears soaring to the sky. “Thank you. The doctor was really nice but the nurse was really mean.”

“The nurse was mean?” Jimin asked, and shot a look Taehyung’s way.

“We’ll talk about it—” Taehyung started.

“She held me down when I got scared,” Jungkook interrupted, a little too excited in seeing Jimin to have a good hold on his self-control, and a little too lost in the waters of sedation to have self-control. “I didn’t like her, but Tae made her leave and did it instead.”

“Held you down?” Jimin asked quieter this time, growing somber at the news. Taehyung nodded in matched energy, eyes dull. “I’m sorry, Jungkook. Some people just don’t know how to handle little ones like you.”

“Tae and you do,” Jungkook praised.

“We do. And that’s why you’re with us and nobody else.” He smoothed Jungkook’s bangs down and kissed the sheen of them. “You need to get some sleep, and I bet Taehyung does too. You two have had a long day.” The next time he spoke, his eyes were on Taehyung. “I’ve got everything taken care of out there, so you two just stay here and relax.”

Jungkook didn’t even notice the break in eye contact. The hand nestled between his ears was enough. But between the two with blood on their hands, an entire understanding stretched between them.


 

Taehyung’s eyes shot open in the dead of the night. Something woke him up. Something loud and grotesque that sat in the depths of his ears

Gagging. The type that ripped out from a throat and into the room, but it wasn’t an empty threat. Determined by the wet flop of liquid sloshing to the floor and the in and out wretch, it came bearing a purpose.

That was the sound of someone whose throat was going to feel that for a day or two—and whatever they ate in the last couple hours.

Taehyung jolted up and fumbled with the lamp, searching the newly lit room for the only other person who could possibly be in his room at this time of night.

Jungkook.

Halfway to the bathroom, crumbled on his knees and hanging his head over a pile of vile and stripped chicken, Jungkook’s body was riddled with tremors. Little cries crawled up his throat and so did grunts of possible more to come, throat flexing and tearing and just overall in miserable shape.

The light startled him. In the act, his shoulders cringed inward, looking for ways to get smaller before another person could see him. Before his beloved owner could see the wreck he’d become and the mess he made.

He met eyes with Taehyung, and flinched at the sudden movement of legs and arms swinging off the bed. His self-camouflage didn’t work. The elephant in the room was loud and far from proud.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook croaked. It came out like a reflex. Like that was the only thing he knew to do in a situation like this. Maybe if he apologized early, the punishment wouldn’t be so brutal.

Taehyung dropped to his knees next to him and flattened his hand on the shivers of Jungkook’s spine, rubbing away the urge to vomit, or perhaps rubbing it up . He didn’t know how long the episode had gone on for and the chances of Jungkook being finished were slim. 

If his heightened senses in his sleep were anything like they used to be, he should've woken up at the first gag. 

“Oh, Jungkook, you can’t help it. It’s okay. Your stomach’s all twisted up.”

“I couldn’t make it to the bathroom. I tried.”

“I know. I know,” Taehyung hushed, pulling his hair out of his face before he soiled it. “We put that anesthesia in you, baby, not you. This isn’t your fault. It isn’t.” 

“I’m sorry. I’ll clean it up.”

“You are not cleaning it up,” Taehyung corrected.

He caressed the back of Jungkook’s head, something he’d done time and time again, more than he probably ever should if he didn’t want to seem obsessed. But this time around, the touch sparked something in the boy—fear. 

Jungkook coiled inward like a ball of paper smashed between two fists, hissing between his teeth and clenching his eyes shut. Instead of running away like any normal living thing, he cowered into Taehyung, clinging to his shoulders and shaking his head desperately. 

It made Taehyung wonder if there was ever a time he didn’t run from the Opalites. If one kicked him and he crawled to another, got a boot in the face, and just looked around for the next pair of shoes to search for safety in.

Needless to say, Taehyung was stuck in his head on this one.

“Please don’t,” Jungkook begged. “Please don’t.”

“Don’t what? You gotta help me out here,” Taehyung struggled, at a loss for words and a reason. He retracted his hand, looked for a wound on the back of Jungkook’s head or his ears, something that could have burned at the touch.

“D—Don’t put my face in it,” he warbled, voice no better than an old, rickety ride in a storm. “I swear I’m sorry. I won’t do it again, just d—don’t. I don’t like the smell, it’s not good.”

Every note the bunny made in the midst of begging hit Taehyung’s ears like sharp metal. He didn’t sound good begging. It sounded like a noise Taehyung could train himself to turn rabid at.

Jungkook refused to look at the vomit on the floor, like a dog presented it’s puddle of urine. His ears cascaded down his head, limp and demeaned. His dignity—chipped away like an old house battered by rocks—was losing its legs.

“Fuck,” Taehyung could only sigh, engulfing him into his chest, not thinking twice of the possible transfer of vomit from his lips to Taehyung’s drawn taut shirt. 

Of course the Opalites would. They were minions of hell. They had no shortage of tortuous ideas, driving his dignity into the ground like it was planning a day out on the town.

Vomiting didn’t come unwarranted. It came from illness. It came from disgust, horror. It also came from violent oral sex and the crashing nausea that visited a person when during violation.

They forced it up his throat and pushed his face right back into it.

“Don’t you dare ever think I’d put your face in it. I’d smash in the face of whoever did that to you. I just want to clean your face,” Taehyung said into his hair, massaging into his ribs, thin enough to wrap his arms all the way around. “I’m not going to shame you. I’m not going to bury you in guilt when you already blame yourself for everything. And I’m sure as hell not going to put your face in it.”

Jungkook sniffled into his collarbone. “You promise you won’t?”

“I promise. I just want to get you back to bed. That’s all.” Taehyung massaged just a little harder to get the blood flowing and the body stimulated. “How about I carry you to the bathroom, let you clean up, and I’ll get this?” He leaned back and made Jungkook look at him, startling his heart with those teary eyes. “Hm? How’s that sound?”

Nodding with a shy pucker of his lips, Jungkook nervously pulled at one of his ears and snuggled back up against him. 

“Tummy hurts.”

“I bet it does,” Taehyung hummed, lifting Jungkook up carefully. “Don’t think for a second you’re the only one feeling bad here. I’m the one who put you in that chair and injected the anesthesia.”

“No,” he argued, shaking his head, nose brushing along Taehyung’s neck in mutiny. “You’re just making my teeth better. Not your fault.”

“I’m glad you think so, because I’m beating myself up a little over here, and I don’t do that often.”

Taehyung was a man who stood behind his decisions, verbal and physical. Even if said decision destroyed an entire empire—even if it were an accident, Jimin loved telling that story—he’d stick with it. 

But taking a bunny with some sore teeth but otherwise doing okay and giving him a PTSD episode, a swollen mouth, and a rude awakening from his stomach felt like one he should step away from. Even if it was better in the long run, even if it needed to be done in Jungkook’s best interest, the painful path in the middle made him swim in guilt he never dipped a toe in.

Taehyung sat him on the edge of the tub and fetched a warm, wet washcloth to clean his mouth with. Instructing him to brush his teeth afterwards, Taehyung took to cleaning up the mess.

Most of it was bile. His stomach was empty before the chicken, and even that had already been digested—for the most part—thanks to the simplicity of it. 

He stole the carpet cleaner tucked away in his dresser. Most nights he came home sparkly clean. On the worst of nights—or the best, if you asked him—he came in dripping with blood. He was no stranger to scrubbing a crimson spot from plush fibers. 

The faucet had stopped running minutes ago. He chucked the towel into the dirty laundry basket, vowed to take it out first thing in the morning, and went looking for the eerily quiet boy. Him not running straight to Taehyung for emotional support was worrying.

Jungkook stood uncomfortable by the sink, toothbrush wet and stored away and hands tangled up by his hips.

“Are you hiding in here because you still think you’re in trouble?”

“No. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to be in the way.”

“What did I tell you about being sorry?” Taehyung gently scolded. He could see the visible tick in Jungkook’s face when he swallowed another apology. “And you’re not in the way. You are the way. Whatever the hell that means.”

He took Jungkook back to bed, legs wobbly and knees unstable. They hurt when he crawled into bed, borderline worthless in holding his weight. He didn’t automatically curl up under the blanket like he normally would, having lived too many years without one. He just stared at the sheets, trembling, having complications in getting over the aftershocks.

“Do you still feel nauseous?” Taehyung asked him, tentatively pulling the blanket back, hoping it might entice him to crawl under and disappear. 

Bunnies have little holes that they kick into and slumber in, right? When the weather gets rough and the predators come out to play. Only, in Jungkook’s world, the predators weren’t foxes or hunting rifles, but inner demons.

“No, but won’t stop shaking.”

“Vomiting does that to you. Your body’s in shock. What you really need to do right now is lay down so your body can start healing up again.”

“I’m scared to.”

“To lay down?”

“What if… what if I lay down and it happens again?”

“Jungkook,” Taehyung said calmly. “Lay your head down and let it get some rest. If you comb through everything that can go wrong right now, you’ll be up for hours.” 

“But then at least I won’t throw up, right?”

He took Jungkook’s hand, felt it shake in his. “Let me try something else.”

Jungkook blinked up at him, humming in question. He didn’t know if he should be worried or not.

“Some things are going to make you cry, or puff up your cheeks because you want to be mad at me. But I might make you do those things because I can see it’s better for you than what you want to do.”

“Okay…”

“Because I’m your owner, right?” Big eyes gleamed. “I can’t go making you happy all the time. There’s a reason why kids don’t get all the candy they want. They aren’t thinking about cavities just like you aren’t thinking about exhaustion.”

He tugged at Jungkook’s hand, tilting his chin up authoritatively.

“So, it's an order. Jungkook, lay down. Now.”

Obedience was an enamoring quality on the bunny. He oozed of it. It glowed on his skin, flushed cheeks a beauty in the orange light, a simple but pleasant breath that whisked over his tongue in surprise.

In a flat second, his shoulders eased of their stress and he skimmed under the sheets, eyes guarded but empty of resentment. 

He relied on Taehyung to speak for him when his inner hybrid skewed his head. When it forced him to hide and think the worst, he trusted Taehyung to step in and remove him from his own entrapment.

Being a hybrid wasn’t all just being a good boy and feeling over the moon with your owner, a precious mind and thoughts and always looking on the bright side. It was falling victim to the victim mindset of your counterpart. It was being half prey—a game animal that spent almost every day scampering away from shadows cast down from the sky and every leaf that cracked in the distance, possibly by a heavy, hunting boot.

Rabbits fell so easily to survival instincts, being as how their greatest feature for escape was running. He could kick all he wanted, but he didn’t get those genes, unfortunately. He just got overly sensitive senses that could catch danger a mile away, and strong fight or flight urges—usually flight.

That was where the trust came in. Why he needed to trust Taehyung. His counterpart kept him on edge every second of the day. Smiling and playing with Namjoon, the next he could drop on his knees and beg that someone didn’t take him away… all just because someone dropped their plate on the other side of the room.

It was Taehyung’s job to pull him out of it. To drag him further away from his own demise and show him the actual realities of what was around him.

Right now, his inner rabbit wanted him to believe that if it happened once, it’ll happen again. And if it happened again, he’d get his ears knocked off of his head. 

Taehyung rerouted that thought process, and forced him to see past it.

Ears limp on the pillow, he waited for it to happen, but as Taehyung pulled the blanket higher up on his chest and whispered, “It’s okay. I told you it’d be okay,” the instincts that had blocked his mind welled up in his mouth. 

“Thank you,” he choked, and sought after the warm feeling of scrunching his nose against Taehyung’s shirt and drawing in every last bit of his natural scent.

“It’s okay,” was all he said again, pulling Jungkook’s ears through his hand like velvet.

That was all he felt the need to say tonight. To make sure the boy knew it was okay. No smart remarks, no overly sentimental bullshit. Just security. 

Because things had to be okay for Jungkook soon or later, or he was going to have to just burn the whole city down and start all over.

Chapter Text

April 31st

In the morning, Jungkook woke up with a clear head. The neediness in his voice took a seat. Taehyung had a mental discrepancy with the disappointment he met at the first sound of Jungkook’s normal voice.

Yes, he liked when the boy sounded on the verge of tears for his attention. Yes, he missed that pretty tail trembling at the touch of an owner. And yes, Taehyung had some talking to do with himself. Sue him.

Jungkook reported his mouth feeling much better, just a little sore behind his cheeks, he said. Regardless, Hoseok supplied him a dose of pain relievers, informing them of split reactions. It was possible his mouth was recovering fine momentarily, but in a matter of hours, he could feel the after effects without any medical intervention.

“You told me you’d tell me.”

Taehyung looked up from his untouched plate. Neither of them had an appetite. Two different reasons. The milky white eggs with the yellow yolk in the middle made their stomachs churn.

“I’d tell you?”

“The sounds yesterday… were they gunshots?”

“You’re too smart for your own good.” He took a good, hardy breath, felt the buttons of his shirt strain against his chest. “Yeah. Jimin shot them.”

“What’s going on, Tae?” he asked, ears such a strange height on his head for the blood in their water. “The one they caught the other day, and last night…”

“Jungkook, we’re gonna have a talk. I need you to listen to me,” Taehyung said. "I will not sugar coat this because your safety is my priority and ignorance means death."

"I'm listening."

“I took you from the Opalites, but I didn’t take you out of the woods. There are still wolves everywhere. I am one. Jimin is one. Everyone around you is. Hoseok is. Do you really think some nice, white picket fenced doctor would join a group of deranged murderers?”

“I know,” Jungkook muttered. “Everyone is here for a reason. I don’t care about that, though.”

“You should.” An indescribable, palpable heat fell into Jungkook’s stomach like gasoline waiting for it’s flame. “We’re out to kill. We’ve got blood on our hands and in our tracks. I found you killing, and I will keep you killing. I am the wolf, and because the world likes a good game to play, I got my hands on a rabbit.”

A rabbit with snow-white fur stained so easily with the blood he thrashed out of broken necks. His teeth were soaked, and the rest of the world expected it to be with the cottontail’s entrails.

“And now that I have you, you are covered by them. You should watch every single person here and every other pair of eyes you meet out there,” Taehyung warned. “Because I will never lie to you, Jungkook, and that means I have to remind you of where you are. You’re in the home of the number one man to kill. No one has the guts to do it, but recently, those men you’ve seen? They’re gutsy and we have a problem on our hands.”

“A problem?” Jungkook asked quietly, lungs dry and heaved under the refuge of Taehyung’s hard hitting words.

“There’s a gang, somewhere that we can’t pinpoint. They killed one of our men last night and infiltrated the base.” The sun and the moon could fit in Jungkook’s eyes. “Jimin saw through his disguise and shot him down. That was the first shot you heard. The second was him shooting him dead when he tried to detonate a bomb.”

“A… bomb?” he asked in disbelief. “He was going to hurt everyone?”

“I don’t know if they know about you. For all I know, they were just trying to take us all out. But Jungkook, if they know about you, they weren’t going to spare you.” Taehyung fit his hands over Jungkook’s. “That’s how things are. People die, and sometimes it’s the people who don’t deserve it. They don’t care who you are. You’re an accessory. You’re a Violet. You aren’t safe anymore, Jungkook. That is why I need you to care.”

He fidgeted. “Are they going to come back?”

“Yes,” he said simply. “They will. I don’t know how or when, but they’ll attack again. We don’t know who they are yet.”

“Did this one have the white on his face too?”

“He did, and that’s all we know about them. They have white lines tattooed under their eyes. This one painted makeup on his face to hide them,” he said. “Poor son of a bitch didn’t plan for Jimin’s eighth sense, though.”

“Is everyone okay?”

“Everyone’s fine. No one got hurt. But we did lose the chance to question him. We’re back to square one.” His eyes sharpened just at the reminder of the streets. “Don’t get me wrong, brave and stupid people have always existed. Guns fired at me while traveling, ploys to overthrow me, betrayal, loud mouths. I’ve put plenty of young idiots down just because they’re too spruced up with the excitement of the streets, but this is different. This is meticulous. These are kids with a plan in place and procedures to carry it out.”

“Do they scare you?” Jungkook asked tentatively. “All the stories say everyone’s below you, but you sound worried.”

“They don’t scare me,” he said. “They can burn this building to the ground. They can tear every one of my men away. But in the end, even if it’s in the rubble, I’ll kill them. It’s just a matter of time until it ends the way it always does.”

Jungkook took a shot in the dark, stepping out on the thinnest ledge he’d ever balanced on. Taehyung was burning in his own fires and too close of a touch could turn the boy to ashes.

“What do they want?”

“They want me dead, and then they want everything that I own,” Taehyung said. “But they better rethink it, because Jimin will take himself out before anyone owns him, and the only person who owns you is me. They don’t know the flames they’re feeding right now.”

“Big ones,” the bunny uttered.


 May 1st

They found Mingyu’s body under the leaves packed in a ditch behind tough roots. Throat slit to to the bone, he bled out in minutes. The weapon of choice was nowhere to be found. 

Only by the years of suppressed reactions and a life devoid of emotions could Jimin play an act last night. He talked like a breeze to Jungkook with his lost man’s dead eyes playing in his head.

He’d squeezed his handgun’s trigger when he broke the news to Taehyung. A deafening click bounced off the walls. The safety was on.

“We’ll revenge him, Jimin.”

“Let me find them. Let me take every last one of them and show them what hell looks like before they get there.”

On the other end of the spectrum, where Jimin wasn’t looking to spray South Korea with blood, Namjoon came up empty in his search. One more camera and he was going to blow his head off. 

Jimin wasn’t waiting any longer, and after an argument between the intellect and the assassin left a consulting Violet no other choice but to step in between them, a search mission was delegated to comb through the woods for any hideouts.

It became tense before the clock struck two minutes. Jimin jumped directly into the next plan. Namjoon nestled into the current one. And from then on, it was a clusterfuck, in layman's terms.

“Since when did we make you the genius of this shitshow when all you want to do is sit and wait for more men to die?” Jimin asked.

“Since our assassin wanted to run around blindly and blow our cover.”

“Tearing the city up by the roots is completely different from launching a covert search operation,” Jimin said. “Letting all of our men get plucked off one by one means there won’t even be a cover to blow.”

“I’m trying to think this through. You’re trying to be a hothead who loves the attention of a loud gun,” he argued. “You’re a ticking time bomb who’s getting impatient because he hasn’t seen enough blood lately.”

“Call me a ticking time bomb one more time and I’ll show you what one looks like when it blows.”

“Give me any bomb you want and I can defuse it—but you, because there are no wires, no circumstances. Just a device eager to destroy.”

“Fuck you, Namjoon,” Jimin spat. “I can put you down at any given time for getting in my way, but I haven’t yet. Those are my wires.”

“Snip the red wire and do it then.”

“Don’t tempt me,” he warned. because an inconvenience was an inconvenience. He wasn’t prejudice.

“Okay, okay,” a consultant intervened, stepping between them. “Someone needs to leave this room before Jimin pulls a knife from out of somewhere.”

Jimin couldn’t be budged. Namjoon was escorted out of the room, and blood dripped from Jimin’s palms.

He had the focus of a rifle when he signed up for a mission, and Namjoon was a smear in his lense—a blade of grass in his view. He needed to be removed from the situation, but Jimin loved him too damn much to bury him.

This was why feelings were deadly to a deadly man’s line of work. They clouded the head. They led him astray from his mission. They got in the way.

Jimin didn’t live in the moment. He despised the moment. Insanity made him go looney if he couldn’t take five steps ahead of everyone else. He calculated what every move added up to, and this was the wrong one.

Now they had to sit in the moment, and a restless Jimin was but a pacing tiger.


May 3rd

Taehyung wasn’t surprised when Jungkook volunteered to join the hunt. After being turned down, he begged. That wasn’t so surprising either. What was, was Taehyung’s worthless resolve and quick surrender.

He couldn’t keep Jungkook locked up forever. He had to agree on one thing—the days that Jungkook ventured out further into the world were his best days, when his mouth flooded with new words and his easily jumpy self simmered down. 

“You gotta be kidding me.”

“Huh?” Jungkook asked, shaking his sleeves over his fingers. He wore one of his new sweaters, baby blue and teddy bear material. 

“I’ll kill Jimin for that one,” he said under his breath, securing his handgun in his holster.

Huh?

“I said I’ll kill Jimin for that.” He pointed accusingly at Jungkook’s sweater. “He picked it out. It’s fucking cute, alright? It’s cute and he bought for you and he knew what he was doing.”

Jungkook’s voice softened like his eyes. “You think it’s cute?”

“Don’t grill me. You know for a fact that I do. Get in there and brush your teeth,” he ordered, turning him around by his shoulders. The puffy material of the sweater moved like clouds under his hands. “Gently. Remember?”

“I remember!” Jungkook said happily. Of course he did, good boys always listened to their owners well. “It can negatively affect my dental work,” he repeated after Hoseok, focusing on every last syllable.

Taehyung rolled his eyes at his oddly placed excitement. You could hand him an ice cream cone and he’d just be over the moon that you trusted him with it.

The sink ran while Taehyung finished up, checking his phone for an update from Jimin. His right hand had gathered a large sum of their men to conduct the widespread search.

“All done,” Jungkook announced, running his tongue over his teeth. Such a wild sensation not to feel the rough texture of tartar and built up sludge.

“Good. Come here. Gotta put your bows on.”

The hybrid hopped in elation, tail pulling his weight as he obliged wonderfully, sitting politely on the bed before Taehyung. Hands in his lap and ears poised and perfectly stood straight, he gave Taehyung the best medium to work with.

“You trust me to wear them outside?”

“I trust you. You take care of your things. Even if I didn’t trust you, I can get you another pair if it means you lost them having fun,” Taehyung said, carefully handling the bows. “It’s the ears they’re on that really matters.”

“We can’t get another pair of those.”

“No,” Taehyung chuckled, snapping one bow into the base of one are. “We cannot.”

Technically they could, but Taehyung doubted if he had it in him to sever the ears of another rare type somewhere across the seas just to aid his. If it came down to it, he would. He’d murder dozens to get Jimin a heart transplant.

“But I’ll still keep these safe,” Jungkook said, reaching up to touch them once they were in place. They sat in his fur like an egg in a nest. “My first bows ever.”

“It’s blasphemy that it took this long to put a bow on you.”

Jungkook was the type of hybrid that you dressed up in treasures. Twinkling, blinding gems and dazzling accessories. Diamonds that cost riches and rare ores that took weeks of mining to cultivate. The softest of silks and threads.

“I like them.” His fingers danced over the amethysts, but ever so lightly. “Feels like… I don’t know how to say it, Tae.”

“Probably what a collar feels like. A stake. Ownership. 

The tip of his nose matched with his cheeks. “Not exactly. You know how you said you wanted to spoil me?” His shoulders tweaked at the word. “Like that… but not.”

He was struggling with his words again. They came to him faster these days, sometimes ran on his tongue too fast, but that wasn’t always the case. Frustration lingered on his face when his mouth came to a dead stop, empty and at a literal loss for words. He wanted so badly to communicate, but communication was lost to him for too many years to find it that easily.

But Taehyung still understood him, somehow always did. 

“Like I’m showcasing you?” The hybrid bounced happily at the choice of words. “I’m not just owning you, I’m telling everyone that I do? Yeah, bunny. You’re right on the nose with that one.”

“Just makes me happy when you show me to other people,” Jungkook said, shifting closer to him, even if they were on different levels. “No one ever wanted to before.”

“Oh, if only you knew,” Taehyung sighed, looking around for anything he might’ve left behind. “I haven’t taken you out much not because I want to keep you hidden, but because I want to keep you all to myself.” He held out his hand, ready to disclose his treasure to the rest of the world. “You aren’t a forgotten piece anymore, Jungkook. A lot of people are going to want you, and I am awful at sharing.”


It took a handful of courage and an ocean-ful of self-control to take Jungkook out for the search.

It wasn’t that the Violets were of any concern to Taehyung. He would never welcome the vile kind of a rapist, or any such thing considered as harassment on a lesser or weaker being. What couldn’t be helped was that the majority of his force was men, and men were notoriously, chemically created with raging testosterone that developed a keen habit of looking at what wasn’t theirs.

They would never lay a hand on Jungkook. Would never speak inappropriately to him. He was their leader’s property, and crossing him meant immediate consequences to their life—often times the end of it. But they were men, and men were things that craved.

It was inevitable that Taehyung would have to accept them admiring Jungkook. He couldn’t stop them from thinking about the hybrid, nor could he inadvertently put an end to every single eye that fell on him. If he did, he wouldn’t have a force to uphold his business.

Statistics told Taehyung that a very small fraction of his men chanced being any sort of queer with homosexual tendencies. Had he seen his men interact intimately? Rarely. That being said, he never saw behind closed doors.

Hybrids were an exception, and that was the very reason for him being on guard.

Hybrids were chemically induced from the day of birth to be sexually alluring. They were sold on the basis of sexual needs and attraction, trained to be obedient in and out of the bedroom, and educated on pleasing their owners. It wasn’t a choice for them—they were raised to be used under the sheets. 

They were physically bewitching and emotionally tempting, and knowing that they were designed specifically to please, hybrids overruled all sexuality.

Someone could have zero desire in being sexually or romantically involved with another of their same sex and still find interest in a hybrid due to their sexual nature. 

They weren’t of the human kind, bordering alien, and therefore, did not fit mother nature’s laws. Hybrids were exempt from all social regulations.

Taehyung’s paranoia was not unwarranted. It was highly respectable. He owned a rare rabbit hybrid who was an absolute doll in every aspect. Anyone was going to look at him and not see a young boy, but a young hybrid.

Unfortunately, the two played a different role in a human’s mindset.

So, yeah, Jungkook in his fluffy, big sweater and his little shorts had Taehyung sweating and looking every which way. And it definitely wasn’t because it was warm outside, but because Jungkook grabbed his hand before they could even make it out of the room and rocked on his heels like Taehyung’s heart could take it.

How the hell he was supposed to focus on this search was beyond him.

Jimin had already laughed at him twice. Once when the bunny jumped into Jimin's chest and all he could do was look over Jungkook’s head and catch every shifty look Taehyung threw the Violets’ ways. 

And again when Taehyung didn’t just grab his hand back, but pulled him close to his side when he announced the beginning of the search.

“We’ll fall back and stay behind,” Taehyung explained to him. “Jimin’s going to lead it.”

“Why aren’t you leading?”

“Because Jimin likes to start things, and I like to finish them. If he finds someone, he’ll catch them before me, but I’ll brings us to a conclusion.” He kept Jungkook back at the front door, waiting for his men to form a structure. “We’ve developed that tactic over the years. We found out it works better if he brings the men to me and I take it from there.”

“Being a leader is confusing,” Jungkook said.

“It doesn’t mean I do everything, Jungkook. It means I step in when they need a focus. Not just that, but I take over what they can’t. Some missions are too much for them. Sometimes I do have to do everything. I capture the guy, get the answers, and lead the raid. It all depends on what we’re dealing with.”

Taehyung pulled on his hand, setting them on course for the acreage of forestry surrounding their base. As instructed beforehand, they split off in groups. The lesser, smaller groups thinned out to search the flat lands, where possible guerrilla warfare wasn’t waiting for them in the trees. Two of those headed in the other direction.

In their direction was one larger group lead by Jimin and trailed by them, some scouting off further to the edges to broaden their view. But with Jimin at the bow of the ship, they wouldn’t miss anything regardless.

Unfortunately, searching for any signs of trespassing and camping left no stone unturned.

“So the big and scary stuff, you do that?”

“What I know needs me, I’ll do. Jimin likes using his brain. He likes testing himself and pushing boundaries. So, I let him. If he wants to conduct a questioning, then by all means, take it off my plate,” Taehyung said. “But other times he just wants to observe, so then I step in.”

“Ah…” he said, pink lips open in awe.

“If we’re facing off with a powerful identity, you’ll see me on the front lines. I’ll never let my men go in before me if I know casualties will be involved.”

“Were you on the front lines with the mean men?”

“I was,” Taehyung confirmed, trees cascading above them. “I lead the attack on the Opalites. Shot their co-leader in a room full of ‘em and declared their termination. I don’t go killing for the fun of it, Jungkook. I told you that. You weren’t aware of it, but the business the Opalites dealt was on a much grander scale than you may think.”

“You told me they weren’t good people. Work… conditions—” that one was hard to remember, “—weren’t safe, right? They hurt animals too.”

“Over half of their workforce was at a consistent fatality rate, which means that at all times, half of them were dropping like flies. No equipment to protect them from the fumes and dust in the air. No treatment of wounds received on the job. Barely paid them anything and didn’t supply them with food,” Taehyung explained. “Now, you have to remember that they had their gang members and their workforce. Two different things. Their members ate well.”

“The workers never hurt me. I don’t think.”

“They might have. You were there for a long time, bunny. A lot of faces and clothes to get mixed up. There’s still a lot for you to learn, and remember too.”

They let it get quiet for long enough to hear the conversations around them. Men talking about their lack-luster night and morning and every hour on the clock. Others telling random stories that just dinged into their heads late last night. 

There was something peaceful to a man dipped deep into the criminal world to think back to easier days, or simply think of something easy that happened yesterday. Easy was a luxury for them and not one to be taken likely.

Hearing them laugh smoothed over the worry lines in Taehyung’s chest. High morale could make or break any team.

“Taehyung?”

“Jungkook?”

“Is Jimin mad today?”

“Is he mad?” Taehyung asked, squinting into the distance to focus on Jimin. He was looking around diligently, putting in one hundred percent as always. “I wouldn’t say mad, no. Tense, maybe.”

“Why is he tense?”

“This wasn’t his idea. Jimin doesn’t want to search the area for camps. He wants to hunt the enemy down. He feels like this is a waste of time. Namjoon, on the other hand, feels very adamant that hunting them down is not the right action.” Taehyung heaved a sigh and quirked his lip. “Which leads us to Jimin trying to be amicable, and that never bodes well for him.”

Amicable didn’t come to mind, but Jungkook could put two and two together. 

“That explains it...” Jungkook said. “He’s almost jumpier than me.”

“Jimin does things his way. If he has to change plans to accommodate someone else, it gets under his skin. He gets impatient. Nervous. Things that go his way, go well. Things that don’t, fail. Basically, right now he just feels like we’ve postponed their defeat and it’s bothering him.” Taehyung cradled his hand a little bit more tender. “Of course it has nothing to do with you. You’re still the apple of his eye.”

“I know,” he said quickly before he could go red in the face. “I hate that him and Joonie are fighting.”

“This isn’t new. It happens all the time. You can’t put a brainiac and an actionist on the same team and expect it to go smoothly every time. Both think tactical, but in different ways of the word—like a scientist, and like an assassin.”

“What do you think we should do?” Jungkook asked. The answer didn’t matter to him. He’d agree with it blindly as long as it came from Taehyung. 

“Somehow I’ve kept out of the middle of those two. Usually I’m not so lucky, but if I had to pick my own course of action, which I will after this search, I’m not going to let Jimin search the entire city of Seoul and the cities around it. Not yet. We need some other proof besides their tattoos.”

“So Namjoon’s?”

“Not quite. I don’t want to wait until they come knocking at our doors. A clue as to where they’re located. That’s all I need and Jimin can storm the whole place alone for all I care.”

Like he’d ever let Jimin go alone.

“I have a question, and I’m sorry for asking if I shouldn’t. Please tell me no if you want to."

“Well, I can’t tell you no if you don’t ask me.”

Jungkook pursed his lips in thought. Something about this one felt taboo. Untouchable, under lock and key.

“You told me about you, and a couple others, but you never told me about Hoseok... but especially Jimin. How they got here with you.”

“Ah. Hoseok’s easy. His big ol’ heart got him in some trouble. Seoul’s full of people who need help but don’t have the money for it. He was secretly seeing patients who couldn’t afford treatments, and dispensed medicine without logging it so no one knew about it. He even told me about a couple surgeries he performed off the books. Four years ago he lost his license under malpractice.”

“Hoseokie's such a good doctor."

“He is, but the medical field doesn’t consider illegal actions good. He wanted to help people who had no other place to turn to, but it ended his career.”

“How’d he get here?”

“He got mixed up with some people from the underground during his last couple of months in practicing medicine. One too many suspicious wounds treated without reporting them. Word spread that the doctor who didn’t ask questions was in trouble, I remembered a time he treated one of my men’s broken wrists without demanding payment up front, and I called dibs on him. The rest is history.”

“I wondered how someone like Hoseokie got here. He’s so nice.”

“What? I’m not nice?”

Jungkook laughed and bumped against him. It was like a bird trying to move a tree.

“Tae, you know what I mean. I think you’re the nicest.”

“It’s so refreshing to hear someone call me something other than heartless. I do get tired of the same thing over and over again,” Taehyung teased. “Now I can add the nicest to the list.”

Jungkook could think of countless things to call him. Nice was just the beginning. Nice was mellow compared to the rest. Breathtaking. Home. Striking. Perilous—he learned that one from Namjoon. Skip over to synonyms of handsome and he could go on for days.

Sadly, he had other things he needed to touch on.

“And what about Jimin?”

“Jimin… Jimin’s way here is a scar. I’ll let him tell you that story when he’s ready.”

In retrospect, he knew notably nothing about Jimin, and a minimal amount about Taehyung between the death of his mother and his current reign of Seoul. How he got here was another story, one to be read out loud somewhere more private.

Jungkook stopped asking questions, Taehyung focused on the search, and they let the lull of the forest and the men around them take them in. 

Hands fitted perfectly together, they didn’t need much more from each other, and Taehyung had a job to do. Every now and then, Jungkook would swing their hands or point something out, but he kept relatively quiet to not be a distraction.

Fifteen minutes into the search, they somehow managed to gain on the group. Going with the flow, Taehyung ended up flanked, and one of their men walked alongside Jungkook with a respectful distance between them.

“Have you ever seen a bunny out in the wild?”

Taehyung woke up, in a deep haze looking out through the trees for any fires or tents set up.

“I have. I’ve seen the type that live in the woods, and the type that run around in neighborhoods.”

“Do they have white ears and a tail like me?”

“Ears, no. You must’ve had a genetic mutation. Now, the cottontails do have white on the undercarriage of their tails,” Taehyung said. “I can’t remember because I haven’t seen much of it. Is your tail all white, or just underneath?”

“Um, I think it’s just…” Jungkook thought out loud, looking over his shoulder. Their pace stumbled. “I don’t remember. Let me look.”

“Don’t look here. You’re fine. We’ll check when we get back home.”

If you’d ever seen a man fall out from underneath himself, you’d know Taehyung’s bottom just dropped. Of all the men around them and those susceptible to hearing their conversation and spying on them in curiosity, Taehyung had every rash intention to hold onto Jungkook’s hands before he ever displayed that tail to anyone else.

Showing his tail meant lifting his sweater. Lifting his sweater showed off his grabbable waist. And under his waist was the scrumptious tail that Taehyung would easily fight someone for. That part of Jungkook just felt so intimate.

But intimacy meant nothing to Jungkook as of right now. He didn’t have the social understanding to know why putting his tail on display would bother someone like Taehyung—his owner, his caretaker, his something.

That was a scary thought. He wanted to call himself something other than his owner. Something more validated, more fit to exemplify the closeness of their relationship. Boyfriend wasn’t on the table, but he wanted to use it.

Yet again, a talk he needed to have with himself.

Jungkook had a grip on the bottom hem of his sweater. “But I want to see, Tae. I can’t remember.”

He lifted his damn sweater and Taehyung about hid some bodies in the leaves. He was about to be who they were searching for. A mass hysteria, or a mass slaughter was about to go down on the Violet estate.

His waist blinded the eye in these woods, and his tail tinkered as the interest in his head followed down his spine. Looking over his shoulder, he couldn’t really get a good look at it.

Meanwhile, Taehyung was hot. The man next to Jungkook didn’t know how to be secretive. His eyes were drilling into Jungkook’s lower back.

Taehyung spotted the color transition of his tail, stared the man down, and said calmly, “Looks like cream on the top and white on the bottom, baby.”

His voice and the term of endearment snapped the man out of it and when he looked up, sparks flew in the middle of their gaze, and he knew he’d been caught.

Taehyung’s hand inched onto his holster, thumb riding the handle, eyes dead set on his prey. A warning. One that he’d proven twice now was a viable threat. 

Jungkook dropped his sweater, Taehyung stood his ground, and the Violet looked away like his life depended on it. It did.

“Cream?” Jungkook asked. When he looked up, Taehyung didn’t have eyes for him anymore. That didn’t happen a lot. “Taehyung?” He tugged at his hand.

The Viper let his weapon go. His message came loud and clear. The skin beneath was only for him to see. That waist was owned property. And that tail belonged to him only. Prolonged stares and greedy hands would grieve their eyes and their ability to grab.

“Yeah, baby. Cream. Not quite white up top. Must be the cottontail in you.”

Looking pointedly over Jungkook’s sunny ears to the man who’d snap his neck if he turned it anymore, Taehyung could boast all day how it felt to be given the esteem of witnessing his tail in it’s bouncy glory. 

While Jungkook may be clueless in how humans interact together and how that made a handful of his actions uncomfortable, he did know what it meant to be drooled over like a feast. He knew his body was considered up for grabs to the majority of society, but a sanctity to his new owner and friends.

Arguably a promiscuous part of a rabbit hybrid according to the grapevine, trusting Taehyung with his tail was no leap of faith. Enough screws were loose to okay him lifting his sweater, because he acted on impulse and followed it blindly in hopes that it was a way of pleasing the humans around him, but that didn’t take away from the speciality of sharing his tail.

“I guess I don’t look at my tail very much.”

“You don’t?” Taehyung asked. His voice lowered in the presence of the Violets. “That’s a shame. Guess you’ll just have to let me do it for you.”


The search came up empty. An hour and a half later, all groups reported zero findings of camping. No left behind debris, no forgotten items, no person in sight. Jimin left the search group hotter than he started, and Taehyung followed him to his room after directing Jungkook to their shared bedroom.

He caught the door before Jimin could slam it shut.

“Hey,” Taehyung intervened. “I need to talk to you.”

“If it’s about the inch of life I’m letting Namjoon keep before I wire him up for those psychotic fucks who are watching our every move, save it.”

“It’s not. I don’t give a fuck if you two punch the daylights out of each other. Maybe it’d do the both of you some good. That’s not what I want to talk about. I need to talk to you, Jimin.”

Jimin let the door go lax. It inched further open, his drawn tight face opening up. Inner fires kept him groiling, but the sincere trouble in Taehyung’s voice put it all on the back burner. His anger was miniscule compared to his friend’s needs.

“What’s going on?”

“Can I come in? Not out here.”

“Yeah. Fine, but where’s Jungkook?”  he asked, peeking over Taehyung’s shoulder.

“He’s getting in the bath. It’s about him.” The reveal came unsure from his own mouth. “I need… fuck, Jimin, I need you to talk me through this.”

“Shit. It’s that bad, huh? If you’re asking me to make sense of it, it has to be.” Jimin stepped aside, jerking at Taehyung’s sleeve, practically demanding he get a foot through the door and his ass on the bed. “Sorry. Should’ve told me that before I went on a tangent.”

“Like I could ever get a word in during your tangents.”

“That was a swing at me but I won’t say your wrong,” Jimin said and sat next to him, trying to breathe out the bed aura resonating in his body. His beef with Namjoon needed to spoil. “Tell me what’s going on since you keep getting yourself in trouble these days.”

“I’m in deep shit this time.”

“No. We’re in deep shit. Spill it.”

“I… all the deep rooted, traumatic, idiotic shit I’ve ever told you and for some reason this is what’s hard to tell you.”

“Nothing should ever be hard to tell me. Of all the bullets we’ve taken, half of them were for each other. We’re in this for life, and I’m pretty sure nothing in this world could ever come in between life.” Minus all the bullets, but where those landed were up to them, too.

God bless Jimin. God bless his undying loyalty. His fearlessness to conquer the tallest of mountains and grandest of criminals to keep his promise of a lifetime. 

“We’ve never dealt with this, though.”

“What we’re dealing with is secondary. You are primary,” Jimin reminded him. “Hell, hearing you sound guilty about something might just break my ever loving heart, because you know I'd never judge you, right, Taehyung?”

“I know that.”

“Then tell me. Get it off your chest so we can figure it out. I don’t care what you’ve done. I don’t care what you want to do. You could turn on me and I’d still chase you down. Talk to me.”

All those nights they stayed late after Jimin’s mother’s tragic end, spilling the insatiable need to rip their teeth through throats and play in the blood of those who dragged them down to the gluttonous, engorging monsters they became.

They said it as they thought it. They avoided judgement by welcoming their ravenous thoughts to each other, and to the world. Inner guilt and shame couldn’t form when they’d met their desires head on, together, out loud.

Anything could come out of his mouth and Jimin would follow it like a home-bound traveler. Never convicted, never put on trial, never hung on a cross—they saw each other for the boys they were before their worlds were gashed open.

The world had already turned its back on them. They’d never do it to each other.

And that was why Taehyung felt at home saying, “I don’t think what I want for Jungkook is innocent anymore.”

“Okay,” he accepted easily. “What do you think it is, then?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is it greedy? Is it hungry?” Jimin asked. “You know I have to ask because this is you. You’re used to taking things and making them yours.”

“No, it’s…” Taehyung problem solving skills tripped. Why couldn’t this just be a multiple choice answer? “It’s not like that. I don't want him like I want to take cities."

"Forget the underground. You need to stop thinking like the Viper and think like Taehyung."

“Don’t get philosophical on me.”

“This is past philosophical. There’s a serious, underlying issue here that you’re trying to skip over, and I’m going to drag it out of you if it takes all night to,” Jimin said, and turned fully, lifted his chin, and scared the daylights out of Taehyung. “When was the last time you felt this way around him?”

“Today. He lifted his shirt to show his tail and I caught a Violet watching him.”

“What did you want to do about that?”

“I wanted to gut him for it.”

“No. Not him. What did you want to do about Jungkook doing that?”

“What’s he got to do with it? He wasn’t doing it on purpose.”

“Answer the question.”

“I wanted to…” Taehyung thought hard on it. What ran through his mind before it dwelled on burying that man alive and calling it a day?

Grabbable waist.

“Be brutally honest with me, but first, yourself.”

“I thought I wanted to pull his shirt down. I wanted to scold him for it, because others don’t get to see that.” Fingernails scratched the sheets, balled them up in a fist. “But then I wanted to touch his tail. I wanted to touch his skin. I wanted to touch him the way that he wouldn’t let anyone else but me.”

Jimin’s shoulders relaxed, in relief, or maybe the way someone let the air leave their lungs before they put their hands on an impossible situation. 

“Listen to yourself. Denial doesn’t suit you, Taehyung. You don’t just want to own him.”

The push and pull of a messy attraction made him dizzy, hit him with nausea and a mute conscience dusted off.

“No. No. I want more. I want him.

“And that’s okay.”

“It’s not. How did I let it get like this? I just wanted him somewhere safe, even if I knew that wasn’t always going to be me. I tried. Fuck, I tried.”

“Tried to do what, push back the inevitable? You couldn’t avoid this one, Taehyung.”

“I could have.”

“Shut the hell up and stop thinking like that. You are human. You are a man. You have needs, but more importantly, you have feelings.”

“I didn’t a month ago.”

“Oh, you did, drama queen, but you definitely weren’t cracked open like the walnut you are now,” Jimin said. “Point is, you like Jungkook. Not a hybrid. You aren’t looking at him like a piece of meat. You’re looking at him like the sweet, good natured boy that you’ve single handedly pulled out of the pits of hell.”

“I feel like I’m grooming him.”

“Which makes you an idiot. We already distinguished that. He knows you're not priming him to be your perfect night in. I know that. Namjoon knows that. Everyone knows that,” Jimin discerned. “You can call yourself every demonizing name in the book, but what you aren’t is a predator.”

“What if I told you I kissed him? Would that change your mind?”

“Then I’d say I called it less than a week ago, that I’m always right, and that I bet he kissed you first."

“He did,” Taehyung sighed, like his plan to foil himself crashed pitifully. “Goddamn it, Jimin. You’re supposed to tell me I’m corrupt and poke holes in my alibi.”

“You are corrupt. You sit so high up because there’s a mountain of bodies underneath you. But not on this. Not this time.”

“How, even after I’ve just become another notch on his belt of violation?”

“Remember the whole idiot thing?”

“Yes, asshole.”

“Well, yeah, idiot. He kissed you first. Are you not taking into consideration what he’s feeling?”

“It’s a little hard to trust what he’s feeling when he doesn’t even know what it is.”

“Then you’ve just let him down, because Jungkook isn’t a child. He’s underdeveloped, yes, but he’s been through just as much as we have, if not more. He knows what he wants. He can speak for himself, Taehyung. Don’t tell him his head is wrong when that’s the only thing he has for himself.”

“I’ve told him that time and time again that’s my equal.”

“Then hold up your word. Listen to him. Whether you like it or not, hybrids bond with their owners and because their owner is the only person they know, they develop romantic feelings. That’s just how the damn cookie crumbles and you gotta get on with it.”

“Easier said than done.”

“It’s really not. You’re just a self-absorbed cynic. Let what would’ve always happened happen. If he finds happiness in you and you find humanity in him, snatch it up. We’ve never let the past hold onto us, Taehyung. Don’t let it do it now.” Jimin sighed. “Besides, we had this same talk a week ago and I’m about out of new things to say.”

“Jimin…” he whined, tired of thinking.

“So, you hoppin’ on the love train or what?”

Jimin.”


He didn’t hop on it. It ran him over. In the darkness of his room, his eyes adjusted to the balled up bunny underneath the blankets, a certain Violet’s pillow bundled up in his arms.

“What are you doing all alone in the dark?” he asked, worried. Jungkook hated the dark.

“Waiting for you,” he mumbled, and the more Taehyung could see, the loppier his ears were. “I didn’t want to go to sleep until you came back.”

“Oh, sweetheart, what if I had been gone for long?”

“Then I’d be up for long… that’s okay, though. I don’t mind waiting.”

“I know you don’t, but I hate you just lying awake waiting for me to come back. I could’ve gone to a meeting or done more investigating. What if I didn’t come back until three?”

“I’d still wait. When you got rid of Sujo, I waited.”

Well, he got him there. The boy had waited astronomically long for him to return and he was an hour late from what he promised. 

Instead of arguing with him, Taehyung took to removing his shoes. Undressing was still off limits even a month later.

"Did you dry your hair well? Can't have you catching a cold."

"I did. It's a lot harder when it isn't you doing it. A lot of things are harder without you."

“Like falling asleep?” Taehyung asked, and drew the comforter back.

Jungkook’s curled in legs flashed in the dark light and when the hybrid stretched an arm out for him and buried his face in the pillow, Taehyung forgot everything him and Jimin talked about. It was just them now.

“Mhm,” he mumbled.

“Do you not feel safe?”

“I know I’m safe all the time,” Jungkook said. “But it’s not the same as when you’re here.”

“No?” He readily took the boy’s eager body, fitting him in close, hugging him to his side. “Tell me how it’s different.”

“It’s not as comfy. I like your arms. I like feeling like I’m cradled up in them,” Jungkook said, and when he looked at Taehyung, he forgot how close they were. “And your voice. I used to have trouble going to sleep, but your voice puts me to sleep like a lullaby.” A sleepy song, he had called it a couple days before. “I like sleeping with you. All of it. Every part of you.”

Taehyung looked down at him. The night was quiet, but nothing like their steady hearts.

“Do you like being awake with me too?”

“I like anything if it’s with you.”

His eyes were on Taehyung’s lips. They had been for a long time now. They were bigger than the night sky. It welcomed them from above, but those other-worldly eyes dragged Taehyung in like a black hole.

“Do you want to kiss me?” Taehyung asked. "You look like you want to kiss me."

“Yeah..."

“You asked me if it had to mean something. If you kiss me tonight, it does. It has to.”

And it did. Jungkook fought through the thick air to water the flowers on Taehyung’s lips, and they bloomed spectacularly. Flowers shouldn’t survive in hell, but they made an exception for their horned owner.

Jungkook pushed up into his lips, stealing whatever breath he had left from running. Running to save the day. Running to figure out this mess they were in. Running from himself.

He spread his hand out over the waist he wanted so bad today and soared at the happy hum the hybrid made, baring his ribs harder into his skin, seemingly stretching his side out longer for Taehyung’s hand to explore. He was scared to go too far over the plateau of skin, but all Jungkook did was vibrate.

Their first kiss was nothing but a touch. Their second was a deep, breath swallowing one. Their third hit like a platonic shift. 

He never thought of Jungkook’s sensual abilities. His background involved training and brainwashing, but Taehyung never dwelled on such a disgusting part of his upbringing long enough to consider the outcome of it. 

But now—now he dwelled on it, because Jungkook didn’t ravage him. He didn’t put his skills of a succubus to work. Pliant, delicate, he made the simplest, smallest of sounds, not the lewd and mind-shatteringly erotic moans the adult business boasted of.

He cupped Taehyung’s chin like it held him up from falling apart and that wasn’t too far fetched of a theory. He’d gone weak, muscles deteriorating at the sinfully fantastic sensation of someone breathing into him.

“Okay?” Taehyung asked, learning just how warm the inside of Jungkook’s mouth was.

The hybrid nodded vigilantly, and began to tip back. He pulled at Taehyung’s shirt where it stretched over his shoulder instead of speaking, because hybrids were obsessive creatures and he was addicted, scared if he got in the way then it’d be detrimental.

“What? You want under me?” he asked, and it came out half hesitant and half entranced by Jungkook’s natural need to be beneath him. “Oh, how am I going to handle you.”

Jungkook’s ears twisted together in delight and he finally rolled over onto his back, tentative at first, but comfortable when Taehyung followed seamlessly. Elbows supporting him, Taehyung worked a fine rhythm into their kiss. 

Jungkook was a messy thing, burning up in the cheeks and wet in the eyes. His fingertips dug into one of Taehyung’s wrists and around his shoulder, losing grip and starting all over again. It didn’t take a lot to work up a hybrid.

“Jungkook,” he rasped, elbows burned into the sheets.

“Taehyung,” he breathed right back at him.

“Tell me. Tell me you aren’t crucifying yourself. That you want me just as much as I want you.”

“I do,” he murmured, lips hot and swollen. “I like you.”

“You keep saying I’m good but I’m not and I need you to see that before you take the throne with me. You have to know that I'm chaos, Jungkook. I can live with a lot, but not you regretting this when you see what I can do with these hands.”

“I know what you can do,” and when he said it, he fanned his fingers out over Taehyung’s cheeks and a haze of surety in himself laid upon his face like the rarity of a diamond. So often crippled in his turbulent thoughts, Jungkook had never spoken with poise. “And I still want you. I want you more for it. I can’t have an owner who doesn’t know what I’ve been through and can’t take care of me. I want you. I already told you that.”

He could accept Taehyung’s red hot blood, because he came with a different type of blood too. With pieces missing and falling off. No one was right in the head here. Everyone had a screw loose, and some couldn’t be tightened.

He knew what he signed up for. Someone good who stepped too far into the bad. Black scorned his hands and the back of his ribs, but that didn’t mean the rest of Taehyung was lost, just adrift.

It meant the untouched was that much more immaculate.

“You were mine the first time I laid my eyes on you in that filthy warehouse,” Taehyung burned. “I knew I’d become a sadist with you in my hands. I knew I’d lose myself in you. I took you against my better judgement, and now that you want me, I’ll put you on top of the world, my little one.”

Nose twitching and eyes falling shut, Jungkook let his head lay back on the pillow. 

Taehyung could see the fire playing in Jungkook, riding the edge of his old and new. Taken from dirt to dressed in gems, in the soft hands of the hardest man he’d been stolen by. Tasting the sweet nectar of rose water on his skin to scrub away his defilement.

Spoiled at his finest, pampered at his lowest, babied at his worst—indulged by it’s definition, he was the Viper’s pretension.

“Spoil, flaunt, showcase. All these words you’ve taught me and you still haven’t used love.”

“Because I don’t love things, Jungkook. I burn them up. But maybe I can learn something from you.” His grin was criminal. “Besides, I’m more of a worshipper, if you don’t mind.”

Chapter Text

May 4th

Jungkook in the morning was something Taehyung would pay for. He’d throw half of his bank account out the window and spend his last dime just to witness it.

Jungkook loved sleeping in a bed so much that he didn’t just push his face into the pillow, but pressed his body against the mattress, got wrapped up in the blankets, made little noises into the pillowcase. He’d never take one for granted again after waking up to straw embedded in his skin.

Some mornings he woke up with his face in Taehyung’s chest, sometimes his stomach. Other mornings he opened his eyes to the sheets, dreaming too hard to keep still, an ankle crossed over Taehyung’s.

This morning, he woke up alone. The bed was warm, the air was stagnant, but he still shivered. Waking up alone wasn’t something he did these days, especially not after admitting their little secret to each other last night.

His ears played a sad tune while he brushed his teeth. He stopped his ointment a few days ago, and still got teary-eyed when he heard Hoseok in his head—see? I told you you’d come out on top of this, buddy.

He itched his eyes on his pillow. He drew in the scent of Taehyung’s. He broke out into a whine minutes later when he realized the last hour had only been ten minutes long. He stared at the bedroom door. He brushed through his ears. He stared at the door longer.

It opened an hour after Jungkook woke up. His bedhead had enough time to settle, but his hurting heart didn’t. He perked up in bed, legs crossed, and held onto his ankles in anticipation. 

Taehyung came around the corner and that whine he made a half an hour ago keened out of his mouth and stopped Taehyung before he could say anything, eyes just as shocked as his held up hands.

“What—”

“Where’d you go?” Jungkook asked him, huffy and a little exasperated. He’d sat for an hour, after all, watching that door until it opened. 

“Good morning to you too,” Taehyung said with a chuckle, and the hybrid didn’t understand why he wasn’t taking him seriously. “You’re upset that I wasn’t there when you woke up, aren’t you?”

Yes,” he stressed, ears strong on his head, but they fell over when Taehyung got closer.

His bravery always shrivelled when that man loomed over him with his big, slender hands and his broad chest.

Oh, he always thought, he’s big. Not that he ever forgot, but his shadow casted over Jungkook darker when he looked down at him.

“Bunny, have you had time to look at the time?” Taehyung asked, and flattened his hand over his flat ears, put the other in his pocket. “Or have you been too occupied watching the door?”

Despite the embarrassment that shaded his cheeks, Jungkook had the strength to shake his head with a swallow of all his regrets.

“I haven’t been—” No lying. It was burned into his brain. “I haven’t looked… waiting for you.”

“I know you were. It’s two in the afternoon, drowsy. I had to get up and go tend to some business. Didn’t want to wake you up.” His hand followed the curve of his head until it laid on the nape of his neck. “Sorry to leave you alone, but unfortunately, you aren’t my only business to tend to. The first, but not the only.”

“I slept until two?”

It irked him. It bit at an inherit expectation deep within him. Hybrids weren’t hermits. They didn’t mooch off of their owner. They got up when their owner did and stood by their side. Made them coffee if asked, straightened the house up before they went to work, if asked. Sleeping in until the afternoon disobeyed every lecture he’d sat through during his training.

Just because Taehyung put his all into Jungkook to rehabilitate him, that didn’t mean it would happen overnight. It just meant it would happen in nights instead of years. 

Taehyung didn’t expect him to wake up at any given time, or roll out of bed awake and alert to serve him. God knows he didn’t give a shit—Jungkook knew he didn’t, but a washed brain saw no omissions.

“You did. You slept through me getting dressed and kissing you because I couldn’t help myself,” he said, scratching into his scalp. “But you had a tiring night.” Could’ve made it a lot more tiring. “You needed to sleep that off.”

“But you got up early,” he said with a pout coming up.

“I have things to do. You don’t. Don’t mistake your position here… but I don’t think you have, because I came back to the prettiest boy waiting on me.”

That blush he had earlier bit his tongue, and he might’ve swallowed it. He looked up at Taehyung with his hands needy around his ankles.

“Like when you call me that.”

“I know you do,” he said quietly, and traced his hand up his jaw until it balanced his chin beautifully. “Did you miss me?”

Jungkook hummed sweetly. “Very much.”

“I didn’t miss you any.” Sad ears vibrated. “In everything I did today, I had you in my head. I couldn’t miss you. You’re really becoming a distraction for me, my bunny.”

“Good…” he said, being brave when he couldn’t afford to be. “T—That means you can just pay attention to me.”

“One good kiss and you’re a big boy now, huh? Baby boys do tend to be brats from time to time.”

Taehyung dipped his head back by the hand on his chin and flushed their lips together. It took Jungkook by surprise, and the stretch of his neck knocked him off kilter until he teetered back.

A gentle hand took his ribs and balanced him, pulling him forward.

His courage didn’t fool Taehyung. The shake in his voice was evident, the stiffness of his body. He was reaching out to feel for how this new thing was going to play out, and as far as Taehyung was concerned, it was however far the hybrid let it go.

Taehyung kissed him slow and watched his teeth, kept his hand innocent, didn’t get swept away in the currents where other men did before. Jungkook was learning to walk and forcing him to run would only cause damage.

“You don’t have to tell me to keep my eyes on you, because they already are. Don’t worry that little head of yours, bunny, I’m hooked.”

“It’s okay I want just your attention?”

“Oh, baby, it’s all I want you to do. Some days I won’t be able to give it to you, but damn will my day go faster knowing you’re waiting so patiently.”

“I am,” he said so eagerly, falling off the edge of the bed thinking maybe Taehyung didn’t believe him. “I can be very patient.”

“I know you can be.” Then, he frowned, and something like a sigh dropped from his chest. “I need you to be patient for a little while longer.”

His shoulders dropped. “Huh?”

“I need to do something today and you can not come with me this time. It won’t be long, but—”

“You’re leaving again?”

“It won’t be long,” Taehyung repeated, also practicing his patience. Needy Jungkook was a cute thing, but he’d lived his days all the way up until now without anyone else caring where he went. He was rogue, and now someone constricting him took getting used to. “I warned you, didn’t I, sweetheart? I have matters to take care of around here. I do have an eye on all of Seoul. Keeping an entire city’s rugrats tame isn’t something I can do on the side.”

“I know. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be pushy. I’m sorry.” Before Taehyung could make him take back such a pitiful apology, he said, “I just like being with you. I don’t like being alone.”

“I know you don’t. You love when you have someone wrapped around your finger. That’s why I’d never leave you all alone in here to entertain yourself.” He lined his thumb under the lace of Jungkook’s lower eyelashes. “I already talked to Namjoon. He’s going to watch you while I’m gone, and from what I heard, Jimin’s up there with him.”

That made all the difference. Almost gave Taehyung’s jealousy issues a run for his money. The boy’s eyes lit up like a city coming back from a blackout. He breathed in fast enough to inflate his chest and make his lungs wheeze.

“I get to be with Joon and Jimin?”

“You do. Makes me want to keep you more, though,” he said, on the side of disgruntled and regretful of making any plans for the day. “Hate that I have to leave you to deal with these pesky complications. Now I have to let those dweebs keep you.”

“I hate it too, but Tae, what is it that I can’t go with you?” Jungkook asked. “I can go out there now. I’ve done good lately, right? You said it yourself."

“It isn’t that you can’t handle it. This is something I want to keep you out of for right now. It isn’t fun, it isn’t something you’ll be able to make fun,” he said. “Just go up to the lab and spend some time with your friends. I’ll feel better if you’re there.”

“If it makes you feel better…” he said, pout climbing back up on his face, but for a different reason now.

He knew Taehyung didn’t see him as too naive, but he definitely didn’t trust him with confidential subjects. Whatever it was he was doing, he was withholding it from Jungkook.

He promised to never lie to him. And if it took leaving him in the dark on some occasions, then so be it. The work he did couldn't possibly be placed on the hybrid's shoulders yet. Soon, he hoped, because swallowing his words just felt wrong.

“It will. I like knowing you’re somewhere you can play. Being the bunny you’re supposed to be.”

“Okay,” he relented, waking up his ears. They’d played asleep for most of it. “Whatever Tae tells me.”

“That’s the spirit.” Taehyung huffed at that inner dialogue in his head sparking up a war. “But not.”

Obedient Jungkook was a blessing, but when it came down to him sacrificing something of himself or his thoughts, Taehyung felt unsure of his power for the first time since he held it in his palm.

Jungkook looked confused, so he pulled him along and got Jungkook ready to leave the room. Where he was going never came back up in conversation, and the leader was more than happy to keep it that way.

“Is it warm enough?” Taehyung asked, feeling the sweater’s material around Jungkook’s arms. 

“Mhm,” he hummed with a nod.

“It can get cold in the lab, so you have to tell someone if you get a chill, alright? Promise me you will.”

“I promise.”

“Can’t have you getting a cold. I hate pumping all if this medicine into your system. It’s all I’ve done since I took you home.”

“It’s good medicine, Tae. It made me better. I don’t mind.”

“Antibiotics are a different story. Cold medicine will just make you a zombie, and I’m about sick of seeing you drugged up. Big, clear eyes, and an active brain is what I’m looking for.” He got quieter. “Your eyes are too pretty to have them glossed over.”

He brought an extra jacket with him, the same that he brought last time. He didn’t take chances in this household, or whatever the hell it was, not when it came to Jungkook. 

Up the stairs and to the left, Jungkook almost had it memorized by now. He liked to get lost in Namjoon’s tinkering. Listening to him speak to himself quietly under his breath, talking himself through the steps. He was a vocal man, but only during his work.

He held Taehyung’s hand all up until they turned the corner, their faces took on the glow of the blue lights, and he saw all of his closest friends.

Huddled around a work table, Jimin leaned back on an arm, head tilted in confusion and in the middle of chastising Namjoon for his methods. Namjoon’s shoulders hunched up, leant over the map he had spread out before them.

They both turned their heads when they heard Taehyung’s shoes. Not Jungkook’s sock-clad padding.

Jimin never did seem to take on the blue hughe when he visited the lab. His lips were too dark and skin too blushed. His eyes took on his warm smile, nothing like the blue—more of an orange. 

“There you are,” he said so tenderly. “Made me wait for you. That’s just not nice at all.”

Jungkook broke into a grin and skipped down the stairs, hand carefully untangling from Taehyung’s.

He might as well have fell into Jimin’s arms.

The blonde had his own way of holding him. Unlike Taehyung who had the habit of cradling him close by the back of his head, Jimin often pressed the inside of his elbow into the back of his neck and just swaddled him.

Even if Jungkook’s gene pool didn’t go quite right—whoever the lab tech was that mutated him—and he came out on the taller side, that never hindered Jimin from finding a way to stand taller than him.

He gave good hugs. Full, tight, and all-over hugs. 

“Didn’t mean to,” the bunny muffled into his neck.

“I know you didn’t. You’d never make me wait,” Jimin cooed at him, feeling the presence of Namjoon next to him. “I heard you slept in today.”

Jungkook only pulled back when Jimin let him. “I did.” His ears bounced with his nod. “Really late.”

“Good,” Jimin said, and smoothed both hands down on the opposite sides of his ears. “You sleep in all you want, my love.”

“Don’t be rude, baby,” Taehyung suddenly said, descending the stairs with a subtle smile, and pointed at Namjoon. “Someone else has been waiting for you.”

Jungkook popped in realization and without any warning, headbutted Namjoon’s chest, burrowed against him, and took handfuls—polite and soft, albeit—of his jacket on his sides.

“I’m sorry. Hi, Joonie.”

“Hey, Kook,” Namjoon laughed, rubbing up his back. Physical affection never did bode well for him, but turning away the hybrid made as much sense as defying physics. 

“How long is he staying?” Jimin asked, losing his hand in the hair on the back of Jungkook’s head. He was so touchy.

“Not sure. Might be a couple hours,” Taehyung said. “Could be more. You know how these things go.” 

Curiosity was killing Jungkook when the two seemed to just know, but his nature was stronger than any other tarnished feelings.

That was what the training facility called them. Tarnished feelings. They were explained as parasitic. Ways of thinking that the world’s sins latched onto a growing human. They were to be acquired, not born with, and no hybrid should ever allow the world to tarnish them. Stay pure. Stay untarnished.

Curiosity. Greed. Selfishness. Rebellion. Pride. Qualities that hybrid were banned from adopting.

Curiosity was creeping into his brain and if he listened to anything they taught him, he needed to be cleansed. Dunked in water until his perspired lungs breathed in fresh, clean water.

But if he followed Taehyung’s lead, he was to seek it out.

“All too well, unfortunately. Don’t worry any, he’s no trouble. I think I speak for the both of us when I say it’s a treat to watch him,” Jimin said, still just glowing, eyes on the hybrid and not the man who built this place from the ground up.

“For once, you speak for me accurately,” Namjoon said, timing how much longer Jungkook apologized with his whole body.

“Good,” Taehyung mused, joining the fucking club, heart-eyes on Jungkook. “He likes being with you guys. Could use some social time, anyways. C’mere, baby. I gotta say bye.”

Jungkook unravelled from Namjoon and just buried himself right into another person’s chest. He liked losing his nose in shirts and sweaters.

But this time, it was Taehyung, and all things with him always hit harder. 

“Do you have to?”

“You know I do, or I’d spend the day with you.” The boy acted as if they were never separated. Ever since they faced their infatuations, he’d been desperate for attention. “Have fun with the boys and be good for them. Listen carefully to that. Be good for them.”

The two looked at each other, and Jungkook nodded eagerly, looking up at him with those strikingly childish eyes.

“I’ll be very good for hyungs.”

“I know you will be. I’ll be back soon. Tell them if you get hungry or cold, okay? Remember, no one can read your mind.” 

Because he was terrible at telling anyone any of that in his first week. He could have been bleeding out and still would have kept quiet.

A kiss to the head, and when he drew back, Jungkook went in for the kiss. The kiss that he would have rathered avoid in front of others. The kiss he wasn’t ready to go into detail about.

He’d already dropped the bomb to Jimin, but Namjoon was none the wiser.

Their lips caught and there wasn’t a strand of grass on God’s green Earth that could make Taehyung pull away. The boy was easily discouraged, and took just about everything personal if not explained in thorough detail as to why it wasn’t anyone’s fault.

All that coding finally caught up to Namjoon. The computer in his head buffered. He darted his eyes to Jimin and the knowing smirk on the assassin’s face. 

“I’ll see you later, bunny.”

“Bye, Tae,” he might as well have pouted.

“Remember what I’m leaving with you,” Taehyung said, and ascended the stairs. He looked over his shoulder. “I can do a lot at the drop of a dime, boys. Let’s not find out how much.”

Jimin sighed, never so annoyed by another being in his life. “Gonna do it just to make him shut the fuck up. He needs to kill something soon or I’m going to.”

Not knowing how long they’d have the boy, Jimin started by asking how his day had been, how sensitive his ears were, what movies Taehyung had shown him recently. 

He liked listening to the boy, regardless. He spoke rather endearingly, stumbling on his words and throwing out run-on sentences, too excited to pause in between. He always started out unsure, but the more they nodded and smiled, the bolder he got—louder, faster, higher. 

A hybrid going on about a factoid he learned about slugs, in which he hopped down a rabbit hole of a million more, connected questions, was undeniably entertaining. His ears bounced when his body tipped forward in exuberance, and his voice reached the sky when he ended with what do you think?

Namjoon always answered politically correct. Jimin fucked off just to make him laugh, because he liked what heaven sounded like.

Eventually, he ran out of steam. There was only so much to talk about when contained in a building twenty-four-seven. Unless they unpacked some trauma from their past out and capitalized on that for ten minutes, they had to find something else to do.

Namjoon handed Jungkook a blueprint and instructed him to memorize it. It was the base’s.

Work like that would dampen any normal boy’s joy. Not Jungkook. He adored learning. He grasped it better than he did communicating. Feeding his brain came easier than milking it. 

Give him a device to pull apart and put back together and he won’t miss a piece. Toss him a book and watch his eyes sit on one word for as long as it takes to learn it’s context. Place a blueprint in front of him, give him a job, and he’ll follow through with it happily.

It was working his brain, making him feel useful after years of letting it sit unappreciated and underestimated.

You could only be deemed worthless so long before you yearned to prove your worth.

He traced his finger over the lines and spoke under his breath. Jimin had a map of Seoul in his hands, sat on the floor with his back against the wall, playing with a ring on his finger. Namjoon tinkered with a toy.

“What’s that?” Jimin asked, nodding at the device in his hands.

“It’s a radar. It’s supposed to read any movements within seventeen miles. It wasn’t working, Jungkook put it back together, it worked, and now it’s broken again.” He shook his head, keeping his aggravation at bay around Jungkook. “I thought he fixed it. I don't know what's up with the damn thing.”

“Did you make it?”

“Yeah?”

“Well there’s your answer,” Jimin snorted.

They had time to recover from their argument. In their terms, anyhow. Namjoon didn’t take it personal. He had his beliefs and found peace in them. Killing never felt good for his soul, and if he played a part in less of it, then he rested easier at night. 

And Jimin just didn’t hold grudges. He didn’t have the time to. He could take a punch. He could wipe the blood from his busted lip and keep moving through the smoke. His tunnel vision would put him in his grave one day, but he wouldn’t regret it.

He punched a wall in his bedroom that night. Namjoon saw the scratches on his knuckles the next morning, wrapped them up patiently, and told him he was the bravest thing he’d ever met on the planet Earth.

Jimin told him he’d die if he kept up the way he was going—and you know I’ll go before I let you, so try not to get me killed.

Namjoon glared, but not at Jimin. At the poor, uninvolved machine on the table.

“I’m not the problem. It worked when it was pieced together after disassembly. I don’t know what’s wrong.”

“Disassemble it again.”

“That won’t do anything. If it malfunctioned the first time after disassembly, it’ll do it again. I need to try something else.” Namjoon popped the back off, tilted it to the side, examined the parts to his eye. “Something isn’t right. I knew what I was doing when I created this. It should be fool proof.”

“Just fucking bounce it on the floor or something,” Jimin offered helpfully. Helping wasn’t his forte.

This time, the glare was all for him. “How about your head?”

“Bounce it on my head and I’ll bounce yours on the ground.”

Ignoring him with precision, Namjoon hovered his fingers above the naked back, picking and choosing parts to his liking, before he pinched a wire.

“This? Is it kinked?”

He plucked it.

Jungkook was in his own little world, too engrossed in his blueprint to hear any of their bickering. Until the wire unkinked. 

The radar exploded in Namjoon’s hand. The deafening sound ricocheted off the walls and shook the bookshelves. The blue lights blurred. Akin to the blow of a gun, it rang through their ears, confused their pupils into making two of their surroundings.

Jimin kneed himself in the chest and gripped his gun instinctively. Namjoon, in close proximity, dropped the device and pinched his eyes shut, seeing stark white and groaning quietly under his breath.

Jungkook hit the ground. The repulsively piercing sound crippled his ears, damaged them internally, and sent them deep into hiding in his hair. He covered his ears for all he was worth, screamed fearfully, sucked in one, sharp breath, and exhaled in a sob.

Jimin’s chest moved like a frightened animal, looked up at Namjoon first, then landed on Jungkook, and fought to pull his thoughts together. Namjoon was debilitated. Gunshots froze him cold. He needed to come back to Earth. So it was up to him, as most things ended up to be.

Jungkook was crumbling into himself and Jimin was the only person in their right mind. Gunshots didn’t frighten him. They woke him up.

He let his gun go and slid across the floor, pulling himself closer to the chaos. Smoke billowed from the radar, and all he could think about was the smoke alarms. If those went off, Jungkook was going to go into an episode.

“Jungkook. Jungkook. It’s okay,” Jimin pried. He ran his hand over the boy’s back only to make him jump like a skipped rock. “It’s okay. Listen to me. You have to—”

A particularly heartbreaking cry tore from his throat and blew Jimin’s cover. He was trying to stay calm, but a hostage situation was easier to maneuver than pulling a traumatized hybrid out of their head.

“No one’s going to hurt you. It was just the radar, baby. Just the radar. I’m right here.”

He wasn’t listening, but what he was was limp. Jimin used that to his advantage and dragged him off of the floor to cradle him close, scratching into his scalp even if the boy flinched at every other touch. He was magnetized to the floor, stuck to in an ignorant trust that it would protect him more than Jimin could.

He didn’t remember Jungkook being this easily scared by loud noises. They’d had guns shot, by Taehyung and Jimin alike. He didn’t react to those. In fact, he took them rather well for a survivor of a massacre in his own destroyed home.

Flinches were usually his greatest reaction. That or grabbing whoever was closest to him and anchoring himself down. A plate broke in his second week here and his knees locked and hunkered him down, but he didn't squeal and fall to his knees.

But the more Jimin thought about it, the more the shivering boy made sense to him.

He wasn’t paying any attention. Taehyung wasn’t in sight. The so called “gunshot” popped behind him. All things considered, he was taken off guard, caught in a vulnerable state, and was separated from his go-to safe haven.

The answer didn't matter in the long run. Trauma wasn't picky, and had no pattern.

“Namjoon,” Jimin said loudly—not shouted, because he wasn’t an idiot—and carefully. “You back with me yet, buddy?”

“Y—Yeah.” He didn’t sound so sure, shaky and spaced out.

“Good, because I need you over here now.”

Namjoon got up from the table even if his legs had never been so unstable in his life and tripped over to them. Jimin was folded over a collapsed Jungkook, scratching along his shoulders, helpless in talking over his crying.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think that’d happen. I don’t—”

“That doesn’t matter right now. We just need to calm him down. Focus, Namjoon.”

“This isn’t something for us,” Namjoon stressed, and pulled his phone out of his pocket, fumbling with it shortly. "He needs to come back. I’m calling Taehyung.”

“Don’t you fucking do it,” Jimin suddenly hissed, and smacked his phone out of his hand.

Namjoon looked from the phone, to Jimin, to the phone, to Jimin—“What the hell, Jimin?”

“You call him and we’ll never hear the end of it. I’ll be in Guatemala in four years and you couldn’t even watch Jungkook for an hour without it going to shit.”

“But he’s—” Namjoon whined, knees cramping against the floor when he touched flippantly at Jungkook’s ears. He winced when the boy wailed louder. “Look at him! What do we do?”

“You just—God, Namjoon, do I have to do everything around here?”

Yes. You know this!”

Jimin’s chest caved in from breathing out too hard and he looked through the tunnel. Moved through the smoke. Rolled with the punches. Only, it wasn’t his blood he was wiping away this time.

Instead of battling the sound, he went under. He ducked close to Jungkook’s ear, separated himself from the sobs, and whispered, “Jungkook. Jimin’s here. Everything’s okay.”

It seemed to work to an effect. A floppy ear twitched at the sound. It made it through his defenses, snuck through the discord and brought serenity. Going low often played tricks on what lingered above.

“I know that was a scary sound, and I’m so sorry that you heard it, but you have to know that it wasn’t real.”

Jungkook’s throat breached with a harsh gasp. “N—Not real?”

“Not real, sweetheart,” Jimin said with a shake of his head. “Just a sound that hurt your ears. I need you to wake up and come back to me. I know you’re brave enough to do it. I hate seeing you like this. I need you to come back."

“I’m sorry. So loud.”

Jimin was just about tired of everyone apologizing for everything under the sun. He could trip in the hallway and someone would lay their life down in an apology.

“Don’t be sorry. Just wake up.” He smoothed his thumb over an ear and watched Jungkook’s hair moved against his whispers. “If someone shot a gun in here, there would have been a second, I promise. It's just you, me, and Joonie."

“You… you pinky promise?”

“Pinky promise, but you have to give me yours first, and I have to see those big eyes to do it. It's kind of the rules."

Jungkook hesitantly lifted his head, and used those big eyes to his favor. They popped just as much as the frayed metal did, shiny and wet in the blue lights. He leaned heavy on Jimin, fisting the fabric on his back.

“Pinky promise n—now?” he asked sweetly, holding his pinky out in a child-like trust, easily crushable in the wrong hands.

It was put in the right hands, though, and Jimin gingerly linked their pinkies.

“I pinky promise. Joonie’s little radar malfunctioned and exploded. Scary, huh?” 

Jungkook nodded earnestly. “I—I thought someone came in to hurt us. I didn’t like it.” At that, tears welled back up in his eyes in a furious speed, his bottom lip trembling.

“Hey, hey, c’mon. No more crying. I’m here, remember?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t stop. My heart hurts, hyung.”

“Hush,” he stressed stronger, sensing the boy peaking once again, overrun by his own emotions. "Just breathe with me. Don't talk."

They sat like that, the occasional word crossing between them, waiting out the downpour. Namjoon stepped away to disassemble the radar before he could spark another travesty. 

The top of Jimin's shirt was soaked, but beginning to dry. The fists on his back loosened with time. By the time the hybrid was able to speak again, he ambitiously used his words.

Deep in tear-stained words, Jungkook said, “Tae says it’s okay to cry, and sometimes I can’t stop. But hyung…” He wiped at his eyes, wet lips strawberry red. “I know you do it, but you know how to stop.”

“What?” Jimin asked, even his heart quiet. “What’d you just say?”

“My ears… th—they are really sensitive to high-pitched noises. I can hear you in your room at bed time, hyung. Sometimes it’s hard to sleep because I can… I want to make you feel b—better.”

Jimin’s heart was pumping like it’s machine was falling apart, which it really was, but he held himself together somehow. 

The overwhelming urge to run startled him. He wanted to take off, flee the scene before anyone could pry him open and find his kinked wire. Unkinking it could lead to a deadly explosion, the type that obliterated everything around it.

One thing stopped Jimin. The ever learning eyes of the earnest boy watching his every move, scrawling it down in his brain. 

Running from his problems wasn’t only highly problematic—he’d heard the lecture countless times—and a habitual knack Jungkook needed to take on, but a closed door, too. One that he needed to open.

Jungkook needed to know he wasn’t the only one falling apart. That he wasn’t alone in this place. That even the bravest, the meanest, the bloodiest could cry when the moon came to say hello.

Soul shaking, innards clenched, teeth aching, Jimin opened it. He opened it even when the doorknob burned his hand.

“I do cry. I cry because it gets too quiet. I cry because I have nightmares. You aren’t as alone around here as you think you are.”

“H—How?”

“How what?” Jimin asked, and kneaded his fingers into the tuck of Jungkook’s waist.

“How’d you get here? What makes you cry, Jiminie?” He sniffed hard, somehow still spilling tears even after the fact. “Tae wouldn’t tell me.”

“Good… he’s got some sense in him.” Jimin tried to breathe the anxiety out of him. “You want to know how I got here? You really want to know—even if it isn’t pretty?”

“Please.”

He was calming down. This course of action wasn't necessary anymore. Jimin could get away with backing out, he knew he could, but once you pour the gasoline, the reason to burn it will always come after you.

"You know we grew up together, right?"

"Mhm. Best friends," the hybrid said, making it sound grossly more romanticized than it really was. No fairies or princes. Just heartache.

“We grew up in what started as a good neighborhood, until we got into high school. A local gang moved in, and then another, until turf wars kept everyone in at night. No more playing out by the street lights like we always did,” Jimin said. “Taehyung already had his hand in the pot of crime. I avoided it, tried to pull him away from it… I didn’t know it was inevitable for me too."

Jungkook leaned back, took his weight off of Jimin's crushed chest, and wiped under his eyes.

“My father was gone... don't know to where. My mother worked at a floral store. She was the perfect cliché, a mother who loved pretty flowers with a pretty son who was going to go off to art school and make her good money. They just needed to make it through high school and make it out of that town,” Jimin said. “But they didn’t have that much time.”

"A floral store? She seems nice."

“She was. Smelled like the flowers she sold. Talked like them, too. She taught me what it meant to move like a flower petal. Silky, she called it. Move like you’re made of silk, and never let anyone call you a rose, because thorns didn’t belong in such a good boy like me.”

The look in his eyes punched Jungkook in the gut.

“But it didn’t matter how nice she was, because they still went after her. The local gang bothered her every night on her way home from work. They hassled her, followed her, sniffed up her skirt. Never touched her, though. They had manners,” Jimin scowled. “Truth is, they were hell spawns. Most of her flowers went to graves that only existed because of them.

“She came home and told me about it some nights. Most of the time she kept it to herself. Taehyung tried to help, but even his involvement in the streets came up empty when I couldn’t tell him which gang it was. He offered to just go out and kill them all.” Jimin snorted. “Back then, he really thought he could take down anyone."

“Did Tae find them?”

“No. No, Taehyung didn’t find them. She left work one night and they followed her on the streets…” He wasn’t present, speaking from a shell. It was the first time Jungkook had seen despair in him. “They stabbed her and they let her bleed out. She made it to our street. I found her on the sidewalk. The knife was still in her throat.” His voice harshened like sandpaper. “They carved their name into her chest, like a brand. They played with her before they staked her. My mother. My flower." He didn’t mean to dig his nails into Jungkook’s skin. “Deity in her skin. She died with their name on her.”

“Jimin,” he crackled, bunching up Jimin’s shirt in his hands, feeling useless.

“I brought her inside where it smelt like flowers so she’d feel at home, and I went to Taehyung’s house. He asked who it was. I barely got it out. The Deities were ash in three days. I found the man who took my mother and put a knife through the back of his throat, just like he did to her.”

“Was that your first time?"

“He was the first man I killed."

The blood never left his hands. It stained them crimson. He could still smell it. Not the flowers in his dead mother's vase.

"I’ve been told that I’m a ticking time bomb. That there are no wires to cut for me,” Jimin said. “They already cut my red wire, Jungkook, and I’ve been explosive ever since then.”

Their first takedown. The first time anyone ever cared to hear Taehyung’s name in the underground. Whispers carried throughout the streets of the silver-haired demon who diminished the historic gang single-handedly in one night, and the boy who moved like silk in the shadows.

Their legacy began there.

“She is everything I am today. I do what I do because I can only kill, Jungkook. I have a craving for it. I’m angry. I’m angry for the mothers we’ve yet to lose. If I kill more before they can take anymore good people, I’ll have won, right?” Jimin asked. “That’s what I tell myself, but really, I think losing her just put me at the end of the ledge, and I just love playing my odds.”

“Mothers… they sound dangerous.”

“Hm?”

“They make killers.” Jimin blinked. “N—Not in a bad way. They’re so… so lovely that when they’re lost, their children turn into different people.” He looked to his lap. “I don’t know. I’ve never had one, but they sound powerful. Is that why people call the weather and the seasons Mother Nature?”

Jimin could cry. He could cry and it wasn’t even nighttime. It was daylight, the radar was still smoking, and Namjoon was horrible at concealing his eavesdropping.

“Yeah, bunny, because she takes care of all of us, but she can wipe us out, too.”

“Did your mother take care of you?”

“All the time. Every second of the day. Everything she did was for me—for Taehyung too. The only reason he didn’t take up her offer to move in while he was on the run was so he didn’t get her mixed up in it. She was willing to harbor a fugitive after he killed his father. She adored that boy with all of her big, big heart,” Jimin said. “I assume Taehyung never told you this in the midst of hiding my own past, but did he tell you how he came up with our name—the Violets?”

Jungkook shook his head. “No. I just thought he liked the color.”

“No,” Jimin smiled. “They were my favorite flowers, so my mother brought them home with her every night. She always thought it was so silly that my favorite flower barely had any fragrance. When Taehyung came to visit, she always sent him home with a cluster of them, talked over his whining...” His smile faltered. “She carried those violets all the way until the end. She couldn’t miss a day bringing them to me. They were in her hand when I found her.”

Jungkook was teary-eyed, and it felt counterproductive.

“The violets she wanted to bring to me, we carry them now. In every decision we make, it’s in her name, because from the very beginning, she started it all. She was the downfall of Seoul’s criminals.”

Taehyung’s mother was the gasoline.

Jimin’s was the match.

Chapter Text

It took two hours for footsteps to echo down the hallway. 

Jungkook had managed to calm down significantly. Still a little wounded, eyes rubbed red and eyelashes stuck together in his vision, but the little laughs he allowed himself to give were good signs. 

His head was on Jimin’s shoulder when the footsteps got closer. They sat against the wall, avoided every last chair in the room, and spoke softly over a map of Seoul.

They raised their heads at the approaching person, and only relaxed when Taehyung rounded the doorway, shoes coming to a stop at the head of the stairs. The calm in the room didn’t last long, though. Not when Jungkook’s face broke out into a smile so big he could fall head over heels into it. 

Jungkook leapt up from the floor, aided by the casually helpful hand from Jimin, who held him up with his growing muscles quivered.

He might as well have slammed into Taehyung, and when Jimin stood up and took his time getting close, he might as well have stayed right where he was.

Because Taehyung got a closer look before the bunny buried into his chest. Before his arms strapped around him like a belt, Taehyung saw everything.

The red smudged beneath his eyes. The dull sheen over them that only came after a downpour. The red branches that stretched out from the corners. The elasticity of his face.

He’d seen the boy out of his mind. He knew what he looked like after a simple cry, and he knew what he looked like after the dam burst. The dam was in shambles and he was one milliliter from joining it.

He looked over Jungkook’s head, and Jimin already knew he’d been fucking caught. All these years and the face of doom hadn’t changed one bit.

“Jungkook, I need you to leave the room, please.”

“What?” he asked, confused. “Tae?”

“Step out of the room. Stand by the door. Get me if you need me, but otherwise, don’t.”

His hardened voice erased any room for resistance. Jungkook knew when an order could be undermined or wiggled underneath, and this was not one of those times. This was get moving or face repercussions.

Even if all Taehyung wanted to do was wrap him up in the sheets and run a cold washcloth over his rubbed raw skin, the rapids of his bloodstream didn’t give him the benefit of doing so.

The bunny’s footsteps on the stairs were silent. The Viper and the Siren held their gaze. One hardly contained, the other patient. Jimin was no stranger to his fury. He breathed fire right back.

The room was stark in it’s thick air. Taehyung approached him, slow then fast, until he was close enough to fist a bundle of Jimin’s sweater and jerk him forward. Even this close, their chests cleared steady and their eyes came unhedged. 

Venom spilled over steel.

“You wanna tell me why I’m picking up my hybrid in shambles?”

Jimin moved willingly with him. He wouldn’t have if he didn’t want to. Standing his ground was a necessity for his pride, but years of history could leave him caring less. He had nothing to prove to Taehyung. He’d already done so.

“Hey, hold on, it wasn’t him—” Namjoon panicked. It didn’t matter that he’d seen them tussle a hundred times. Each time stopped his heart. Fire on fire just blew up.

“Shut up, Namjoon,” Taehyung ordered, freezing hell and burning the Arctic all in one blow. A death sentence seemed like the other result to ignoring that order.

Jimin smirked. “Looks like it’s me doing all the talking once again. Tiring, really.”

“I don’t know why you think this is a fucking joke. Like I haven’t put my hand around your throat before.”

“Like I haven’t liked it before.”

He throttled him. “Jimin."

“Careful. Turn anymore red and you’ll beat the record of any blood you’ve slain.” Jimin scoffed, and dropped the humor in his voice like hot metal. “You’re pissed he’s been crying, so instead of asking questions, you go right in for the kill? Sounds just like you.”

“Why the fuck has he been crying?” he asked, never one to fall for Jimin’s distracting antics.

Jimin snatched at his hand, dug their bones together, and met the snake’s eyes with an equal force.

“Your fuse is burning a touch too short, Taehyung. It’s fogging your senses. Don’t forget I’m not one of your subordinates you can sling around. Let me go before I remind you why.”

Taehyung unlatched his hand against his urges. They roared loud in his ear, twitched his muscles to dictate his movements. Jimin stretched his neck, glaring down at the hand that invaded his policy of no touching.

“Try me.”

“Don’t invite trouble. You have enough of it. It’s best you tell me why you’re turning on me right now.”

“Answer my question.”

“I’ll answer you. Even though you’re being a dick, and what I really should do is make you leave this room until your hotheaded ass takes a minute to cool down.”

“If you think I’m hotheaded now, wait and see what happens if you keep your mouth shut.”

“You want me to open it? Now, of all times.” Jimin rolled his eyes. “He’s fine. He’s perfectly fine. No injuries. No episodes. One of Namjoon’s novelties blew up. It scared him, like a loud thing normally would a rabbit.”

“It blew up?”

“Faulty wiring,” Namjoon noted quietly.

“I thought I told you to shut up?” Taehyung snapped, glaring over his shoulder at the suddenly smaller than a speck of dust scientist. 

“I’m trying to figure out what you thought happened. That we hurt him? Picked on him? Taped him to the wall and threw darts around his body?” Jimin asked. “Consider your answer carefully. If you thought we hurt him, I will walk out of this room right now.”

“No, I didn’t think you hurt him, but I knew you let something happen when I left him in your hands. I left him for two hours, in your hands, and you dropped the ball.”

“You don’t think it was Namjoon who got down on the floor and let the rabbit soak him in tears and snot, do you? No.”

“Should have never had to.”

“Well, guess what, Taehyung, shit happens. It was out of my control. If I could prevent anything ever happening to that boy, you know I would.”

“You didn’t even fucking try to!”

“How!?” Jimin shouted right back.

“Do you think I’m just giddy sitting on my damn bed if I’m not crowd controlling out there? Do you think I like cleaning my weapons outside of my room? No, but that’s the only way I know he won’t have a setback. You didn’t do everything in your power and that is why I want to beat your ass into the ground right now, Jimin.”

“Namjoon got his hands on a short-circuited toy. It’s my job to snatch it away from him, fine. And then what? It’s my job to make sure no birds fly into the window? You gonna tear me a new one if someone fires a gun on patrol?”

“That’s different and you know it is. I can hear it in your voice. You get what I’m saying, because if there’s anyone in the Violets who doesn’t miss a single thing, it’s you. You got complacent. You got comfortable. And you fucked up.”

“Tell me real easy how I fucked up.”

“It isn’t anyone’s fault if a baby gets ahold of a battery on the counter, is it? Because the brat shouldn’t be able to reach that far, and they never thought in a million worlds it would even think to eat one,” he argued. “But they left that battery there, when it could have been avoided by thinking a step ahead. Don’t play with faulty equipment full of wires when you have a hybrid who can’t handle sudden noises. Just don’t.

“You’ve made your point,” Jimin glared. “What you’ve also done is make me out to be the bad guy who might as well have waterboarded Jungkook by your reaction.”

“No, but damn short-sighted today. I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but you’re always a step ahead. I expected you to bubble wrap everything and give him a coloring book, not let Namjoon fix something when said something always explodes before he gets to step two.”

His sticky stubbornness was melting. Not his choice in the matter, but rather his own insecurities. Having always held high expectations for himself, Jimin started poking holes in his own resolve.

He had felt a twist in his stomach when Namjoon grabbed that radar. Something didn’t feel right about it. Strangely, it was Jungkook’s presence, and now it was all coming together.

“You’re getting into my head.”

“It’s easy to get into today. That isn’t like you.”

Fists by his side and veins swelling in his arms, Jimin gritted, “It was an accident.”

“And some accidents can be avoided. You know that. You know that. I don’t care if it was Namjoon. You were here.”

Accidents. Avoided. Men disseminated around him because he overlooked a scheduled event at the compound they raided. Bullets in bones because he called the attack too early. Pleads to keep living because he couldn’t get there fast enough.

Accidents. Avoided.

They could always be avoided. But that was what made accidents so infuriating, wasn’t it? Retrospect. Knowing the one change in event that could have changed history, but only if. 

If he had just told Namjoon to hold off on the radar—

“Take him back to his room. I need to walk.”

“Go walk,” Taehyung said simply, and didn’t spare even a blink his way. “Clear your head. It isn’t in the right place. Get it back before we go into war and you doubt yourself on the field and get someone killed.”

Jimin watched him leave, throat in a grasp. Get someone killed. That was what clogged his head, split his normally arranged thoughts.

Someone needed to die. A plethora of people needed to die. And here he was, babysitting.


“You didn’t have to yell at them…” Jungkook said quietly, half sulking, half confused.

“Rectifying the situation nicely is not an option with people like us. It isn’t personal, baby. I don’t hate Jimin any more than I already did, but I got my point across. Next time he’ll think more clearly and that means my job is done.”

“He’s… I don’t know if you want me to say it.”

“Is it you playing devil’s advocate and disagreeing with me? Then, yes. I always want you to speak out on what you’re thinking, even if our thoughts don’t match.”

“Okay,” Jungkook said wearily, and blinked hard at their clasped hands. Almost to the bedroom, his hands felt seconds from sweating. “Maybe it’s just because Jiminie has a lot on his mind.”

“Jimin has a clusterfuck on his mind. That means he’s pre-occupied. What that doesn’t mean is that he’s allowed to split apart,” he said. “And it also means that he isn’t the only one. Being mentally weighed down is not an excuse, or else everyone here would be falling apart.”

“Even you?”

Taehyung stared ahead. 

“If I folded under the thoughts in my head, the Violets wouldn’t be peacekeepers. I would have already stripped Seoul to the ground and turned it into a wasteland. I’d be maniacal. And if Jimin folded, men would come up missing every night.”

“Okay,” he said softly. 

No point in arguing on a topic he was lightyears away from understanding. Death and gore wasn’t on his checklist of interests, he wasn’t good at it. He just shrunk down low and hoped the blood sprayed over him.

“I don’t want to scare you. But you know what I promised to do.”

“To always be honest with me.”

“Right. And that’s the honest reason why Jimin is not allowed to fumble his hands. He has too much relying on him, including me. There isn’t any other man I’d rely on and unfortunately, that’s a lot of weight on his shoulders,” Taehyung said, then continued bitterly in a way that Jungkook wasn’t sure was for him to hear. “But tough fucking luck. We’ve all got something pressuring us. Straighten up and get it together.”

It had to be the outsiders knocking on their doors. It had to the unknown consequences to every decision they made regarding the anomalies, and the forked roads and heads butting over said decisions. The assassin and his leader had never gotten so violet since he met them—Jungkook had peeked around the corner and saw the death grip Taehyung had on his shirt.

And Jungkook knew humans were like that. They cracked under stress. Their nerves were easily pinched, temper just waiting to rise out of control. Overdue bills slathered spouses in arguments. Long workday hours tore chunks of hair out of the skull.

And in the criminal world where there was nowhere to run, where you had to face the tidal wave about to drop or kiss your ass goodbye, he imagined the stress was overbearing. 

The stress compressed anyone aware of their touchy position. Enemies were amongst them. No one was safe. And coming back to his hybrid red with tears was just another betrayal in Taehyung’s world.

“I’m sorry everyone’s so stressed.” Jungkook squeezed his hand, felt his ears fall to his hair, cheeks getting red again. “I wish I could make you feel better. I would. I promise. T—Tell me if I make it worse, okay?”

Taehyung led him into the bedroom, eyebrows heavy on his forehead. “What? You?

“I know you have so much to worry about, and then I—I just have to go and get scared and cry and make you and Jiminie fight. I wouldn’t have if I knew, Tae.”

Knew the world was riding on his back. Knew the storm sweeping through his head.

“Wouldn’t have been startled?” Taehyung asked, and God help him when Jungkook hesitated to sit next to him on the bed when he loved playing in the sheets. “Jungkook, you can’t help that. It’s trauma. It’s reflex. Not a soul would get scared of loud noises if they had a choice.”

“But that isn’t all, Tae. I always put more on you. I know I do. I’m supposed to please and give you relief and be good for you, not stressful.”

“What are you talking about?” Taehyung asked, and gave up on getting him to sit down, but instead met him on his feet, propping his thumb on his cheek. “Where is this coming from?”

“I’m sorry you have to stay in your room all the time. I’m sorry you have to clean your guns elsewhere because they scare me…” He puckered his lips, holding back the tears because his eyes already burned and Taehyung shouldn’t have to deal with anymore fragility today. “A—And I know you also hate planning around me, and always looking around us when we’re out, and finding things for me to do when I’m bored even though all I ever want to do is be with you—”

Taehyung cut him off in the best way he knew—with his own lips. They put an end to his babbles and his babied voice that trembled in hiccups and wet embarrassment. The little hands that grabbed at his shirt shook terribly, weak and nimble when he couldn’t breathe. His throat tweaked in little cries suffocated in Taehyung’s mouth, nose wet and ears hot.

“You have to stop. You have to.”

“I—I’m s—”

“All I ever want to do is be with you too. I want to bury my knuckles in my best friend because he didn’t take care of you the way I would have. The urge to kill was in my blood again today, and for you, again.

Jungkook tried to catch his breath, but he wasn’t doing a great job at it. It strangled Taehyung’s lips. Face fevered like a hot summer day, but like strawberries, not tomatoes. A pink tinge underneath that spread up to his ears. 

Jungkook looked fucked, but Taehyung was fucked.

He continued, “Don’t apologize for what they made you. I knew very well what I was taking home with me. And now that I’ve learned who you are, I take you wholly. I’ve taken many things for granted in my life, like my mother and living without death on my mind, Jungkook, but I won’t ever let that be you.”

“It’s okay if you do.”

“I told you you have to stop. Stop belittling yourself. Stop lessening your importance. Do you not see what you’ve done to me?”

“I…” He was out of words to put together.

“Some might say I pulled you out of hell, but no one’s mentioning how you turned around and put the hell in me. Fire, Jungkook. Just fire to throw this world into flames for what it did to you,” Taehyung said, heart skidding when he felt the lapse in tremors in the boy’s hands. “But not just that. Something else. It’s nothing like fire. It’s like the embers. Hot, but not out to hurt. I don’t make any sense, fuck, but it’s gotta be something like love.”

There were too many complicated set-ups for Jungkook to comprehend. The most common of words often came slow to him. Bring in feelings masked in a wordy frenzy dripping with emotion and he couldn’t keep up, too engrossed in the peaking fervor in the eyes before him.

He just held on tight before he could get swept away. 

“... Love?”

“I don’t know. I wish I could give that to you. I wish I could say right now it’s all I ever feel, but I know something’s there, Jungkook.”

“I know it isn’t easy for you.”

“It’s not that it’s hard because I can’t give it—I know it’s buried deep down there somewhere.” He risked biting his tongue. “It’s hard because it nips at me when things like that happen. When someone looks at you. When you’re hurting and I can’t stop it. When the only person I trust lets you down.”

“Taehyung,” Jungkook huffed, and that was when the Viper finally shut his trap. His full name meant pay attention. “You don’t have to give anything to me… don’t have to prove anything. I know. I do.”

“You don’t. You have no idea what’s inside of me.”

“And that’s okay,” he said softly, prayed his hands slowed down, hoped his head caught up. “Because I know that I love you, and that’s enough. I can give enough for the two of us.”

“You love me?” Taehyung asked, head in the clouds, heart in a soundproof box, lungs in for it..

Jungkook couldn’t do anything but nod and suck in a new wave of tears. It wasn’t easy to say. He didn’t know what any of it meant. Just that he needed to bury his face in Taehyung’s skin and separate himself from the world long enough to forget it.

Taehyung didn’t pull the words out of him. Didn’t have them, himself. Jungkook’s hands never stopped shaking. 

Taehyung held him close and hard that night. Close enough to make up for the gaping hole in his chest. Fighting with Jimin never felt right. If there was anything he hated more than sharing a bed with the joker, it was being against him.

He put white fur in his face, knowing full and well Jungkook kept trying to bend them away. They weren’t bothersome. They smelt like him. They dampened the fires, and relit them when the time came.

The next morning, he cracked an eye open at his phone.

Jimin: you know i’d do anything for you and him. you also know this won’t ever end in an apology. so do us both a favor and take this weight off my chest, tae. see you at roll call?

Taehyung: fuck off jimin

Jimin: so, i’ll see you there?

He smiled, still stuck by thorns, but for her, he picked them out. He couldn’t stick her son, not after she spent her years teaching them to be anything but a rose.

Taehyung: see you soon


May 14th

The days molded together. Jungkook still rolled around in the sheets in the morning light, still stole heart after heart when his tail flicked all over the place. Taehyung still smiled over him and called him the morning sun, still went back and forth with his men on what to do with their impending turf war.

They blended together, but every day had something new to bring to the table. A possible sighting of an anomaly. A strange tiff between the Viper and his assassin, oddly displaced after their scuffle. A longer kiss. But overall, it stayed quiet, uneventful, and for once, the Violets were thankful for it.

Until tonight.

Taehyung was a killing machine. He was born with a red hot spike in his blood that rushed when his weapon fired. His eyes twinkled when they gulped up the stunning color of blood, and nothing ever came easier to him. He trained his eye to aim quicker than he ever learned the difference between an adjective and an adverb.

Taking on a hybrid was never something he did because he was born with malice in his head. Snapping was too high of a risk. The other side of his head—the abysmal side that bottled up all of the dying breaths he’d ever pulled out in the shadows—it wasn’t supposed to flip to the front unless a gun burned into his hand. 

But with a line as thin as the torched lining of his insides, flipping the switch wasn’t always in his control.

He’d slammed a Violet’s head into a table. Not because he was disrespectful, or because he’d grown too many balls and tried to be a big boy. It was because the man—who he never learned the name of—clicked his fingernails on the table too loudly.

That man never woke up.

Taehyung didn’t make a conscious decision to snap. He didn’t allow the malice to hammer it’s way to the forefront. It took over. One second he was casually watching his men bask in dinner after a raid, and the next his blood was flowing with a glutton to fucking destroy. To dominate. To remind the world who was in charge.

When he took in Jungkook, the first thing he thought of was his dissociative tendencies. His inhuman ability to boil alive from the inside out until it changed his skin. A skinwalker—never a warning from his brain before his eyes glowed in the dark.

He’d done marvelously. Better than anyone betted on, countless chips lost to the pile. Almost three months that he managed to chain himself down and rattle them instead of shoot them apart. Two months. 

Two months was when the machine’s gears turned.

The night was normal. Taehyung finished up his rounds while Jungkook took his nightly bath, applying his lotions and soaking in bath salts. 

Over the months, Taehyung had collected quite the bath salt collection for his rabbit. Something about the bubbling of the water was just so satisfying. Jungkook always said it felt like the bath salts cleaned him even more, though Taehyung never believed him. He’d just smile and good, baby.

**WARNING: THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS MENTION SUICIDE**

A normal night, expect it wasn’t. At the end of his rounds, he landed on a Violet limp on his bathroom floor with an empty bottle of prescription drugs cracked on the floor. No suicide note. Just crushing despair.

Despair that he couldn’t stop it. Wanted desperately to. A man dying on the field was different. They died as a homage to their mafia. But when they suffocated on their own mouth foam, riddled with mental inconsistencies, he worried he could have done more. A home, food, warmth, family for some. But that was all he could give, and it was a hard truth to swallow.

**SAFE TO READ AGAIN**

To top it all off, he got into it with Jimin on his way back to his room. What was new. They’d been rocky for weeks now.

Needless to say, Taehyung was on edge. A chip was on his shoulder, his muscles were tight, and every little thing aggravated him. He couldn’t get his left shoe off and he honest to God chucked the thing across the room with a held in shout.

He almost laid down when he remembered an important factor of this whole life thing. Jungkook. He took in a deep breath and let his head fall back, containing a groan. The hybrid had never been a burden for him before, but damn did he just want to pass out on the bed and forget all about today.

He didn’t have to go find the hybrid. He could get into bed and fall asleep until the boy joined him, but he’d never called it a day first and didn’t know how the hybrid would react.

Taehyung lugged himself off of the bed and sludged over to the bathroom door, tugging his belt off. He unbuckled it, but let it lay limp on his belt loops. That would just have to wait.

He knocked once—quiet—and slipped in, looking straight for the tub and the hybrid he knew would be soaking in rose scented water.

Bubble baths kept his decency. Taehyung gained entry a week ago when he forgot his phone in the bathroom and Jungkook simply said, “It’s okay, Tae. You can’t see any of me.”

Jungkook had a hand full of bubbles, blinking large and wondrous at them, hair wet and shiny. At the sound of the door, he perked up, ears sonaring to the side.

“Tae!” he said happily. “Did everything go okay?”

“Yeah. Everything went okay,” Taehyung said—no way in hell dropping any bombs tonight—leaning on the wall. “Hey, listen. It’s been a long day, so how about you come on out so we can go to bed?”

Jungkook’s bubbles evaporated, quirked ears following his curious head tilt. “But I’m not done yet.”

“You’re not? It’s been almost an hour,” Taehyung said as gently as he could without it sounding like what the fuck have you been doing? “Have you washed your hair?”

“Yes.”

“Have you washed your body?”

He nodded again. “Yes.”

“Then you’re done. Come on,” he said, pushing off of the wall and taking slow, tired steps toward the tub. “You can soak as long as you want tomorrow, okay? I’ll help you dry off.”

Instead of sitting up and responding reactively with Taehyung like he normally did when an order was hidden in sweet words, Jungkook did the opposite. He submerged himself further with wilting ears. Guarded, defensive.

“But I’m not ready.”

Taehyung came to a halting stop, confounded. The hybrid never did this. Brat was not one of his adjectives, and neither was disobedient or difficult. He listened well. He was never trouble.

But this, ears low and clearly avoiding eye contact, Jungkook looked like he was about to stand his ground, and if he didn’t get what he wanted, a tantrum was in order.

Hybrids came trained. Unravel that training and they lost direction. It was up to the owner to rewire it however fits them, and given such lenient rules, Jungkook was clearly struggling with what was allowed. He’d been told multiple times to do as he wanted, and couldn’t be blamed for digging his heels into the ground when given a sudden change in instructions.

Taehyung must’ve looked as taken aback as he felt, because Jungkook fidgeted with the bubbles absentmindedly.

“I’m sorry?” Taehyung asked, low in his throat, eyebrows scrunched together. He was in genuine awe.

“I said… I said I’m not ready.”

“You’ve been in there for an hour, Jungkook. I’m sorry if you’re not ready, but it’s almost ten o’clock and it’s been a long day,” Taehyung said with a carefully controlled voice. “I can’t sleep until you come out, so please, Jungkook, get out of the tub and come to bed.”

“I don’t want to.”

His scrunched eyebrows raised. “You don’t want to?” he asked, and he could already feel his heart start to pump harder. “I’m asking you nicely, Jungkook. You come out now, I’ll dry you off and make sure you’re comfortable, and we’ll go to bed. Is that not how you want to do it?”

Jungkook got lower, and something about that just really irked Taehyung. It was basically a fuck you, look at me. The subtle move was a clear message—I’m not listening to you. I want to stay in here, and you can’t do anything about it.

“You told me I could stay in as long as I want to. I want to stay in. You said that.”

“I know I said that, but not all things are concrete like that. You can’t take things so literal. There are circumstances to things, Jungkook. Tonight is one. It is late, you’re all clean, so it’s time.”

“You said you were asking me nicely,” Jungkook said quietly, and his chest was beat red. The water had lost its heat a long time ago. “Like you won’t ask me nicely next time.”

“Don’t do that,” Taehyung shot back. “Don't put me in that position. I’m trying to be patient right now and for some reason you’re fighting against me. Just get out of the bath and stop pushing me.”

“I said no.”

“Look at me.”

No.”

“I said look at me!”

His voice shattered the low frequency of the room. It was the first time he’d ever shouted at Jungkook, and the both of them spiraled. Jungkook jumped a foot and Taehyung felt his grasp on his malice slip. 

It was switching. The face of his brain was flipping.

He tried to grab ahold of it, desperately and frantically, petrified of what could happen if he let the tornado tear the room apart. The only thing he could see was the wide-eyed, terrified look of his darling everything, and then it was the last thing he saw.

“If I ever become something that is not good for you, you get away. Tell me you will.”

“I don’t know how to get away.”

“You will. You will if I’m tearing things apart, Jungkook. It’ll be the only thing you’ll want to do.” His heart beat hard against his chest. “It’s all I ask if you want to mix me and trust together.”

“Is it something you do a lot? Tear things apart?”

“No. But when I do...” Taehyung breathed in the smell of his own shampoo in the brush of white fur. “God, I hope you aren’t there.”

He snapped. Two months.

Jungkook’s chest heaved. “Stop it. Stop yelling at me.”

“Oh, you want me to stop yelling? Then stop pushing me! Stop being a brat and get out of that bath right now.”

“You’re scaring me,” Jungkook whimpered, and more than ever he didn’t want to get out. The bath was safety. It was walls and security. He grabbed at his ears and sunk further into the water. “S—Stop it, Tae. Please.”

“Get out. Now. I won’t ask you again, Jungkook. I have had the worst fucking day and you’re just keeping me here!”

Jungkook breathed like a feral cat caught in the corner, moon eyes at full and lips trembling. This wasn't Taehyung. It couldn’t be. Taehyung never yelled at him. He never blamed him for anything, never made him feel like a burden. This couldn’t be him.

Since the first second he was in Taehyung’s arms, the man had never made him feel unsafe. Right now, naked in the water and suddenly pinned by a strong air of anger, he worried that the gun underneath Taehyung’s pillow was too close.

Feeling that way made his heart crumble to his stomach. It hurt to think of his hero and love as a danger. The one person who kept all the scary things away was suddenly the scariest thing he’d ever seen.

Jungkook refused to believe it. Any minute now, he swore, Taehyung would snap out of it and realize what he was doing. Surely. Absolutely. 

He was wrong.

“I—I don't know what—” Jungkook stuttered. “I don’t want you to touch me. I don’t want out. Please leave me alone. P—Please, Tae. Leave me—”

“Fucking ridiculous,” Taehyung spat and before Jungkook could blink, he was bent over the tub.

Jungkook hadn’t felt this kind of fear since he was whisked away from the Opalites. His heart hit the breaks and he stopped breathing. 

Taehyung’s arms plunged into the water, trying to wrap around him, and Jungkook started to thrash. He kicked and he squirmed, and he hugged himself, because he didn’t have it in him to push Taehyung away. Fear was what he felt, not survival instincts.

“Stop. S—Stop. D—Don’t!”

Taehyung tilted his head back, wincing when water splashed back in his face, until he got a good hold. The hybrid was wet and slippery, but he grabbed him by his knees and his upper body, hefting him out.

“You wanna act like a brat, you’ll get treated like one!”

And he haphazardly dropped Jungkook on his feet. But the floor was tiled, he was sopping wet, and there was no traction. 

Jungkook slipped. His feet went out from underneath him, and when he fell on his side, the dull thud of his body smacking the tile was deafening. Skin smacked, bones knocked together, and his shoulder and hip jammed underneath him.

First there was a cry of shock. Then a scream of pain.

When Taehyung heard it, his heart stopped. But when he looked down and saw his sweet, vulnerable hybrid naked on the floor and coughing in sobs, he woke up.

He snapped out of it. He saw everything. Heard everything he said, and fell into horror when Jungkook coiled into himself, eyes clenched shut in the middle of a sob, chest wracking and hands shaking.

He was trying to cover between his legs when Taehyung grabbed his own hair and walked away, shouting, “Fuck!”

He moved with instinct, listening to the loud, heart-tearing sobs of the hybrid losing his sanity on the floor of the bathroom. He grabbed his phone, and dialed a number.

He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t trust himself. Not after what he’d done. The hybrid could slip again, and he could snap again. His hands were tainted.

Jimin answered with, “Got something else to say?”

“Get in here,” Taehyung ordered, loud and harsh and uneven and petrified. “Now.”

Jimin hung up. He barrelled into the room before Taehyung could toss his phone back onto his bed, hands tearing into his scalp, cursing under his breath.

Jimin had wide eyes and a gun cocked in his hand, breathing heavy with ruffled hair. 

“What? What’s wrong?”

“Get him. Get him,” Taehyung rasped, pacing back and forth, eyes squeezed shut. “I did it. I snapped. I did it, Jimin.”

“What—” Jimin started, jumping in the middle here and entirely confused, but he came to an end when he heard what he could only describe as a scared animal from the bathroom. “Jungkook? No. What happened, Taehyung?” When he just paced, Jimin grabbed his arms under the knowledge that it could very well get him knocked off his feet. “Taehyung. What happened.”

“I snapped. I dragged him out of the bath and he slipped and he might be hurt but I can’t touch him, Jimin. I can’t.

Jimin’s face fell. “Oh, Taehyung,” he mumbled, and dragged a hand through the distraught man’s hair, pulling at the rotting thoughts under his scalp. “It’s okay. It’s gonna be okay. I’ve got him. I’ve got him now. Sit tight.”

He’d never heard Jungkook make those noises. He’d seen a lot in his days. Women chained up in groups of four in tiny cells, covered in shit and piss and blood. Men ripped to shreds, children sold for profit, used by grown ass men. 

But he was nervous to turn the corner, and nothing ever shredded his nerves. Their little hybrid was practically screaming into his arms, and knowing that he’d slipped—well, Jimin would rather raid a sex traffic ring again.

He turned the corner, but only with an immense amount of sheer willpower, and felt every single shattered piece of his heart clatter to the floor.

Jungkook was curled up on the wet floor in his own puddle of spilled water, trembling from the crying and the cold and the fear, arms tucked in between his legs to cup his genitals, ashamed and out on display for the whole world to see.

Just like the first they lucked out on finding him.

He wailed like an animal waiting on death, but unlike the others, this one just didn’t know what to do but weep.

“Jungkook,” Jimin said cautiously, feeling warmth prick at his eyes. “Oh, baby, you’re okay. Jimin’s here, honey.”

Jungkook just hitched his cries and shook his head pitifully into his knees, scrunching closer into himself. His hands moved to cover his face, flashing himself momentarily, before he remembered what he was covering and quickly spread his hands out as much as he could, but that didn’t mean he was completely covered.

“No, baby, it’s okay. I’m not looking down there. I know what happened. I know you’re scared. Are you hurt? Does anything hurt?” Jungkook nodded, sobbing hard into the air. “Okay, sweetie. I bet it does hurt. You slipped, huh?” 

“I—I—” Jungkook struggled. 

“Shh, I know it. But that’s okay. It’s okay that you slipped. It wasn’t your fault. I know it hurt, and I need to get you up off the floor, okay?”

“It hurts,” he whimpered. “It hurts. I’m c—cold and it hurts.

Jimin could hear Taehyung groan from the bedroom, but he quickly talked over it, because hearing him may send the hybrid back into a frenzy.

“You fell and hit some stuff, right?” Jimin asked, and inched closer to him, squatting. “Was it your side? Did you fall on the side you’re laying down on?”

Jungkook nodded with a hiccup. “Y—Ye—Yes. A—And my shoulder.”

One more inch. “Is that all? Everything else is okay?”

“N—No.”

Another. “What else hurts, honey?”

“M—My… My—” he sucked in a deep breath and his face twisted in shame, shaking his head in a futile attempt to give up. Instead of talking, he just shifted his lower body around, every movement pointing in between his legs.

“You hurt you private parts?” All the hybrid could do was choke on his own throat and nod. “Okay. I got you, baby. I hear you. I’m going to pick you up, alright? Gonna take you to the bed so you aren’t lying in the cold water.”

“N—No!” Jungkook nearly exploded. “I don’t wanna fall again. Please don’t!”

The last inch. “Sh, sh, sh, honey,” Jimin hushed, tentatively reaching for him. A touch to his arm, and Jungkook flinched. “I’m not going to drop you. I’m going to carry you all the way to the bed. You’re hurt and you need to get somewhere warm and soft.”

“I don’t wanna fall,” he mewled.

“Listen to my voice. Listen to me,” Jimin instructed, because he was going in for a hold and there was no telling how much of a fight he was going to have to take. “Jimin’s here, little one.”

He fit an arm underneath Jungkook’s knees, and another behind his shoulders, but instead of fighting, the hybrid did the complete opposite. The feeling of a gentle touch spoke true to his inner hybrid, and all he could do was fall apart in those arms.

His body hurt, he was exposed and his hair kept dripping onto his face. A pair of loving hands was a sanctuary right about now.

“C’mon. The floor’s no place for you, my little bunny.”

“Hurts…”

“I know it does. I know.”

When Jimin carried Jungkook back into the room, he knew he was running on empty, because the boy was soaking wet and Taehyung was sitting at the foot of the bed and hell, he didn’t know what the fuck to do. He was an assassin, not a counselor or a wizard with a wand.

He slowly laid Jungkook on the bed, hushing into his hair, but the boy was having none of it. The second he felt the comforter underneath him, Jungkook scurried. He scurried like a scared animal.

He dug underneath the pillows and tried to fit himself underneath them, poking his toes underneath the blankets as the sheets dampened beneath them.

Jimin hurried after him, touching his side. “Hey, don’t do that. Don’t—”

“Let him,” Taehyung croaked. It was the first time he’d spoken since he’d heard his precious boy say he hurt his private parts. “It’s the only way he’ll feel safe. Please just let him.”

Jimin sunk back, hand mid-air. “Taehyung…”

“Whatever it takes. I just want him to feel safe.”

The hybrid shivered under the pillows. Taehyung hung his head in his hands. And Jimin felt like he was in the middle of an alternate reality, where everything went wrong and nothing made sense.

“He needs to be dried off.”

“I… I know. You can go now. Thank you, Jimin,” he said, muffled in his hands. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Thank you.”

“Are you… are you sure?” Jimin asked, hesitancy hanging in his voice.

“Yeah,” he rasped. “I am. There isn’t anything else you can do. You got him off the floor. That’s all I can ask for.”

Jimin reluctantly leant off of the bed, keeping a close eye on his best friend. He’d never seen him so torn before. Snapping wasn’t common for him, but he was still used to it and bounced back easily. He crossed a line today.

“Okay. Jungkook, I’m gonna go back to my room now. If you need me, you know you can come get me. Tae’s got you now, okay? He’ll make sure those ouchies feel better, little one.” 

An answer came deep from one of the pillows, but it just sounded like a grunt. So he counted his blessings, didn’t touch the hybrid, and carefully eased up to Taehyung. He touched the back of his neck, and leaned in close.

“This isn’t your fault,” said the believer who refused to let hope sink. “You didn’t ask to be this way, but neither did he. You have to fix this, because desecrating isn’t the only thing you can do, Taehyung.”

And Jimin left without looking back, because two broken human beings wasn’t an easy sight to linger on.

The door clicked shut. Taehyung swallowed hard. He could hear Jungkook’s ears shaking. Silence. The water in the bath was still moving.

“I’m so sorry, Jungkook.” A rift split through his tongue, until a sob welled up in the disastrous devastation of a blighted man. “I’m so sorry.”

His hands barbed at his hair, and his mouth fell open in a pathetic noise, nearly silent until he stroked for air, high and sharp, and it came back out as a loud sob. His body shook with it.

He didn’t feel the bed move because his body thought it was standing on an earthquake. He cried too loud to hear anything around him, like the bed sheets rustling. His eyes were too pinched to see the movement in the corner of his vision.

Until a quaking hand touched his shoulder, and the bed dipped, and water seeped through his shirt. He shot his head up, blinking away the tears to see through the blur. Jungkook was there, chest twitching with little cries and ears as flopped as they’d ever been. 

He shakily crawled into Taehyung’s lap. A lamb to the slaughter. The cleaver was dull. There was too much blood. Couldn’t see through it.

God, help them.

Chapter Text

Unstable and almost falling over, arms so quickly jumped to him and pulled him close.

Jungkook tucked his knees in close and clung onto his neck, fitting his face into his collarbone. His wet hair dropped droplets down the back of Taehyung’s shirt.

Taehyung held his breath.

“Jungkook, why?”

He sounded frustrated. Like the damn thing wouldn’t just get it. He wasn’t a beacon. He was the opposite. Jungkook was supposed to get away from him.

Taehyung acted on impulse. Not by the color of blood as he did earlier, but in the only way he figured would keep Jungkook safe right now. He carefully grabbed Jungkook by his sides and prodded him back.

The hybrid’s arms constricted. “No,” he whimpered.

“Don’t give me another chance. Don’t. I’ll take it, Jungkook.” He had to claw into himself to keep from shoving Jungkook off, would rather take himself out first. “I’ll take it even if I don’t deserve it.”

“Stop it,” Jungkook choked, nose swimming in the stream of tears his eye kept pooling into Taehyung’s neck. “Wasn’t you.”

“It was. That was me.” He craned his head back, the meager thought of being close to the boy’s wet face cracking apart his ribs. His words came out wonky on tears. “I did that to you. I snatched you out of the bathtub and let you fall. I took you down just like I knew I eventually would and now the both of us are falling the fuck apart."

Taehyung,” he whined, and somehow found a way to hold on tighter, clenched around the neck of popped veins, begging Taehyung to listen to him. “P—Please stop crying. Can’t take it.”

“I hurt you,” and it fell apart just like the man who spoke it.

The hybrid keened loud, heart physically aching, body tearing in half to somehow merge into Taehyung’s, willing to take a sum of the pain if he could. He could bear it, put it on his small shoulders and hope his muscles had recovered from the years of malnutrition enough to buckle down.

Hearing Taehyung’s chest rattle washed him up on shore. Filled his lungs and splashed him in the same panic and disorientation getting swept up in crashing waves destined. 

Desperation was the word he was looking for, but so many others that didn’t exist. He needed a new word for this core-aching pain he felt strung along between him and Taehyung. 

It didn’t matter that things felt bruised. Not a portion of his worries revolved around the dipping temperature of his body. Every fiber of his being was drawn to one thing only, and that was the distress of his owner. 

Busted lip, broken tailbone, crushed soul—any of it and all he could hear was the subtle twitch of Taehyung’s breath.

“I know,” Jungkook affirmed, though he didn’t want to linger so much on that, only did so for Taehyung. “Hurts.”

“God fucking damn it,” was all Taehyung could wring out before he gave up—before he accepted there was no other way to go from here. 

He couldn’t run from this, and Jungkook wasn’t going to run away.

The hybrid shook harder just enough to catch Taehyung’s attention. The anger in his voice wasn’t towards him, he knew that, but it brought him back to the grit of Taehyung’s voice before he damn near ruined everything.

Taehyung wrapped his arms around him like he’d waited years to. He shoved his face in the trembling pocket between Jungkook’s shoulder and neck and blocked out the rest of the world. He couldn’t handle it right now. He could only handle the boy in his arms—and even that was too much.

“I don’t deserve you. I don’t fucking deserve you. Why are you here when you should be running. Why are you on my lap like I couldn’t just do it all over again.”

None of them were questions. They were damnations. Begging the sky to strike him down before he did it himself.

“Stop it,” Jungkook cried. “Stop, Tae. Wake up.”

Wake up. Like he was still gone. Like the man before him wasn’t the same he woke up with. The embodiment of a nightmare.

“I’m here. I’m here,” Taehyung said breathlessly. “Tell me you are too. Tell me you’re still with me, that I didn’t throw you back to them.”

“I’m here,” he said back, in relief and hesitancy. 

He hadn’t always been there through thus ordeal. On the floor, naked and a show for all to wince at, think oh, what a poor thing, he felt like the piece of meat he once was, gnawed on and torn to shreds.

“Let me just… let me…”

Taehyung lost his voice in a consuming sigh, felt the dirty regrets piling up in his throat, couldn’t swallow any of it down. Hands pressed into skin, arms seized tighter around bones picking at the surface—Taehyung breathed in until his chest molded with Jungkook’s.

Needed to feel he really was there. In tact. Bloodless. Somehow all-membered when his hands liked to pick things apart so insatiably. Violence wielded his hands like a smoldered hammer, shaped everything around him by force, bent and toyed and burned. Somehow, he hadn’t beaten the hybrid into a new piece.

Jungkook’s damp skin stuck to his hands like honey, shuttering chest rocked his innards like a stoned sinner. Capable of flipping Taehyung’s throne, gifted in pulling his heart through his ribs until it pumped back to life, the being in his arms was no lesser—Jungkook was cataclysmic.

The fevered temptation to crush Jungkook like the breakable thing he was and the simultaneous lure to maim anyone who dared cast a look his way. Drifting precariously between pushing Jungkook to his knees and lifting him above all else, a back and forth in his head—Taehyung was volatile.

Cataclysmic and volatile was crashing a planet into its orbiting moon. It could create something new, or it could end in decimation.

Taehyung feared the worst, but just like every other time he fell into doubt, just thinking of the boy put him right back where he started. It was a sickening game in his head, gave him motion sickness, but yet again, the boy’s face always settled his stomach.

Naturally, holding Jungkook tight to him, breathing alongside him, listening to his breath gradually even out, Taehyung met himself at first base.

Collisions were what he did best, anyways.

“Jungkook,” he said calmly, turning his nose into the hybrid’s neck. “I didn't mean for it to happen. That's a shit thing to say, because in the end, I'm the one who landed you on that floor, but if I could have  stopped myself, I would have."

“I know,” he said. “I've never seen you cry. I know you didn't want this."

Simple in his head, things came easy. Someone cries, they’re truly sorry. Not just fucked in the head, but emotionally torn enough to actually experience morality and empathy. Two things Taehyung didn’t know he had.

But if a creature with a limpid consciousness as such as Jungkook’s deemed him sincere, he’d bow down to it. He glowered down at men on their knees and still refused their apologies... he was in no position to argue morals.

The twitch of a tail against his thigh dragged him back to their physical reality. The skin against him was suddenly so much more, so naked, so exhibited. All that shaking wasn’t all just due to the cold seeping in, either, nor the crying, but the bruised parts underneath.

“I can't talk to you like this. I swore to myself you’d never be naked and crying at the same time ever again.” The boy stiffened, seemingly remembered his exposure. “You’re too precious for that. Too fucking good to be treated like a dog. C’mon, slide off so I can get you a towel and some clothes.”

What he wasn’t expecting was for Jungkook to tighten around his neck frantically, as if he wasn’t quick enough, he’d be yanked away without a choice. He shook his head and pushed his eyelashes into Taehyung’s shoulder.

“Please don’t let go.”

“You… Jungkook, I know that both of our heads are little turned around right now, but I don’t think I should be this close to you when you’re undressed.”

“No. It’s okay,” he whispered. “Know you won’t do anything. I’m not scared of you, just of being left alone.”

Morality. Remember that one? Not a big priority on Taehyung’s list, but hell, even he knew this one was riding on the wrong side. The hybrid was vulnerable at it’s finest, lost not only to his sensitive emotions, but his built in instincts, too. There was a great chance that anything he did was partially due to his service to his owner.

They hadn’t had the talk about sex. It went unsaid that it was off the table for the time being. Jungkook never brought it up, Taehyung never pushed it, and they kept their hands to themselves and their lips cautious. The removal of clothes was a clear limit. Taehyung still refused to go to bed in only boxers in fear that he’d come off as pushy.

Now Jungkook was naked on his lap. 

He hadn’t seen him like this since his medical examination. So much had changed since then—them, their relationship. There was an unspoken air between them knowing sex was an actual possibility, and every day the chance of furthering their physical relationship was always in the back of their heads. It was only a matter of time.

Taehyung was a grown man with hormones. Jungkook was an absolute doll skillful in catching his eye. If it weren’t for the situation, he’d be having a completely different moral dilemma right now.

“You tell me the second I scare you. I won’t touch an inch of your skin without permission, you hear me?” Taehyung reminded him. 

“Mhm,” he answered.

“I’ll have to pick you up if you’re going to hold onto me. How do you want me to do that?”

“Like this,” he sniffled, and for the first time since his head stopped spinning, Taehyung realized he was straddling him. “That’s okay.”

“You’re—” How was he supposed to put it into words? That holding Jungkook like this would mean either putting an arm or a hand under him. “God, you are too trusting. You should not be in my hands.”

“Only of you.”

And he didn’t deserve it. He knew he didn’t. His cracked open head didn’t deserve to be filled and mended by the boy who hadn’t even repaired his yet. 

“But not of who just hurt you, right?”

“No.” Jungkook shrunk against him. “Not him.”

The multiple facets of personalities in his head were rioting. He wasn’t schizophrenic. He wasn’t bipolar. He was a maniac. He was so overgrown with instability that the roots had closed around his brain, cut him in sections, turned others off when one took over. 

If you asked Taehyung, he’d exempt all excuses. Multiple voices due to his own psychopathic tendencies didn’t rationalize harming Jungkook.

He didn’t respond to that, couldn’t when the guilt ate through him like a wriggle of maggots.

Looking around, he figured the sheets were already too soaked to be used tonight anyhow, and jerked the loose fitted sheet off of the mattress. Nowhere in his head could he justify touching Jungkook’s bottom skin to skin in their emotional state. The boy had done more than enough to earn that respect.

Taehyung swept the sheet underneath him, braced his bottom with his arm, and lifted them from the bed. Lithe legs tightened around him and a flicking nose ran wet against his neck.

“Get you a fluffy towel and a nice, big sweater. Nothing will ever be enough to make up for this, but the least I can do is pull you together.”

“A b—big one?” he stuttered, hopeful.

“That’s right, sweetheart. But the first thing you have to do is tell me what’s still hurting.”

Taehyung gathered a towel from the bathroom. He carefully stepped over the slippery sheen, heart panging just at the look of it. His little one was just broken down there—all because of him. He kept forgetting that part. His brain was fighting hard to cover it up. 

You couldn’t blame it. Of all the hell his life consisted of, his brain waded through the misery of it all to tuck away the worst. Whatever it took to keep him moving.

Only, this one he needed to remember. This one served a purpose.

As he tossed the towel to the bed, Jungkook mulled over his thoughts.

The majority of physical pain in a hybrid often came from a wounded heart. They wore their hearts on their sleeves, and when it was wrung out painfully, every nerve, every muscle, every pain receptor absolutely blenched. Hurt a hybrid’s feelings, scare the daylights out of them, and you inadvertently filled them to the brim with hot lava.

Sensitivity overruled all molecular houses in a hybrid. Emotional, sexual, relational. Their skin spasmed as if a touch to their insides was tangible.

What pain in his body was actually tied to the fall was a tough one for Jungkook to decide. Half of him was determined that everything hurt head to toe—actually—and the other half presumed the existential ache in his heart was causing his bones to melt away.

“I can’t tell what hurts because of the fall or because of my heart.”

“I—” Just fucking throw me away, Taehyung thought, like the disgusting obomination that I am. “Baby, I don’t know. Just tell me and I’ll look. If it’s your heart, I can fix that later.”

“You’ll look?”

Taehyung stopped, knees to the bed, and rubbed his fingerprints in between Jungkook’s shoulder blades. 

“I have to make sure you’re not hurt too bad. No blood or open scratches. I don’t think so, but I’m not going to guess when it comes to you.” Taehyung kissed behind his ear. “You have to let go now. When I set you down, put the sheet over your lap, okay?”

“O—Okay. You’re not leaving, right?”

“No. Never going anywhere again.”

The air was cold against his skin when Taehyung lowered him to the bed, just off of the edge. Arms around himself, wishing they weren’t his, his ears sat heavy on his head—literally. The water weighed them down acutely. Water dripped to his shoulders from hair acting like full, black clouds.

He tentatively took the sheet and laid it out over his thighs, peeking up to find Taehyung’s eyes on the ceiling. Even to this day, the act of a man considering him worthy enough of dignity set his stomach on a whirlwind.

“I’m covered,” he said softly.

Taehyung rolled his neck to work the kinks out and smiled down at him. “Better. Go ahead and dry off while I get that sweater. I’ll check you then. And don’t stand up… not yet.”

He picked out the softest white sweater Jimin could scour the store for. It looked like it would adonish the boy’s ears beautifully, and it felt like it would soothe his skin just enough to string those ears up a touch.

He’d forgotten he too had been crying until he turned around and dropped his gaze on the boy scrubbing his ears with the towel, one eye winced and the other big on his lap. His wet hair and his wet skin had Taehyung’s eyes wet all over again.

How could he? Just how could he?

“This one okay?”

Jungkook looked up through both eyes. “Yeah,” he said, too sweet in Taehyung’s opinion. Bitter and sour—the way he should have said it.

Taehyung knelt down before him, cheeks pricked and prodded when he saw the boy’s pink knees and turned-in feet. 

“Your legs aren’t dry,” he said, and tenderly tugged the towel out of a shaky hand.

“You’re crying again.”

“Don’t,” he whispered, and wrapped Jungkook’s leg in the towel like a relic. “Not right now."

The moon watched them through the skylight. It could have pushed them. Could have drawn the blinds, turned the lights off, but it was steady, filtered through the wisps of Jungkook’s drying curls, elaborated the angelic give of snow white, limp ears. Pulled the whites of his skin through the olives, calf soft in Taehyung’s hard hands. 

Calluses and scars met untouched perfection like a crescent wave did silky sand—came crashing in, but glossed over at collision.

For the first time in the longest stretch, when Taehyung looked up, the moon almost won the fight against the two eyes he swore he saw humanity itself in. Lackluster. More like space than it’s dazzling, eye-catching orbiters.

He took the moons out of them.

“Your knees aren’t red,” he noted quietly, and coddled the underneath of his feet. “You didn't fall on them?"

He asked because the moment was absent from his head. He only heard blood curdling carnage in the back of his head.

The answer was delayed. Not because Jungkook had to think about it, but because his head was busy with something else.

Taehyung didn’t understand the gravity of him on his knees drying Jungkook’s legs and feet, and if he did, Jungkook was going to burst.

He grew up being taught to kneel for his owners. Get on his knees and submit. Older generations regularly demanded their feet kissed and massaged. The act had only fallen out of practice recently. An owner holding his feet was bordering heresy.

He bit his lip, scared to draw blood, but almost felt deserving of it.

“No. Doesn’t hurt.”

“Tell me what does. God, tell me, because I can’t do this anymore.” Out of breath, Taehyung leaned forward to catch himself before he gave out. “I’m going to lose my fucking mind if I can’t just hold you right now, Jungkook. You have no idea.”

Self-control was something he could have used before. Now that he did have it, it was fractured, and it barely kept him away from Jungkook, but he couldn’t just bury him in blankets until he knew nothing was split open. 

“Elbows,” Jungkook suddenly murmured, catching on real quick to Taehyung’s thin restraint. “My r… right hip and shoulder.”

“I heard him say your private parts.” If damp ears could be lower, they would be. Just as low as his head suddenly was. “No, no, don’t be embarrassed. I’m the one who let you slip, not you. It’s okay to tell me. Do they still hurt?”

“Um… n—not as bad,” he said while his chest burned from the inside out, face as red as a strawberry. “I think it just happened when my legs closed together really hard.”

“Okay,” Taehyung said. He brought one of his hands to his lips, just because he knew that one was hard to get out. “Good. Let me know if it gets worse or stays that way. Turn this way so I can see your shoulder.”

It was dry of droplets only for so long. His hair had grown since he came to them. No matter the amount of men on base who could barber, Taehyung didn’t trust any of them enough to put a pair of scissors near his face. Not yet.

Bulbous droplets on his shoulder, it was dusted pink like every other pin-point part of his body, but closer to his upper back, it was red with irritation. This strawberry wasn’t as sweet. It filled the mouth too abruptly.

“That’s gonna bruise, sweetheart.”

“Is it?” Jungkook asked, disappointment playing hop-scotch in his words.

From there, with his body turned and the sheet crumpled, Taehyung could see his hip. The bone protruded from his skin, and where it pressed out, purple was already branching out across his skin.

Strawberries to plums.

“And that’s already bruising.”

“But I… the other ones were going away, Tae. I—I was losing them,” he snivelled, watching his tongue, looking for those eggshells before he jerked anymore tears out of his owner’s eyes. “I have more?”

Taehyung couldn’t utter a word. If he did, it’d come out wet. When it rains, it pours, and apparently that saying was made years ago just to pretext the Viper letting his eyes get glassy.

Lower than he’d ever been, he touched his forehead to one knee still pink rather than purple and just took a calming breath of air before his insides mauled out of him. He tenderly held onto Jungkook’s ankles, tapped his fingers over his satin skin, feared even just a touch could blossom a bruise now.

“Taehyung…”

“I told you to run away. I told you.”

“I’m not leaving you. I told you, too. In the beginning, on our first night. You’re good and I want you. Even… even if something bad happens, because I know what it feels like to have a head that doesn’t help you.”

The night was empty of crickets and planes and bumps from the laboratory. Just the night taking them in, the moon anchoring them, yet pulling them in all at once.

“God, you’re so beautiful.”

Rabbit ears tilted over. That was out of the blue. “Huh?”

Cherry eyes and a stem tied in his tongue, Taehyung lifted his head, and the moon held no competition even to the two blank spaces of stars before him.

“I don’t mean what I see, but what’s inside your head and that heart of yours. I don’t know what to do with a heart like that, Jungkook.”

Suddenly, little hands cradled his face, meek and terribly unsure of themselves. Tremors overstayed their welcome, but they rested on Taehyung’s face.

“You do. You just have to remember how.”

Jungkook really did belong here, where shattered men retraced their steps to find their pieces. In his mind, they had a future as one piece, even if Taehyung swore he’d never be whole again.

Then a hopeless rabbit walked through their doors with a longing for something better, swore it could happen, and suddenly, a purpose wasn’t so out of reach.

“You think I can remember?”

“I do,” he said with a nod, lips nervous on his face, but yet curled in a ginger smile. “I think you already are remembering.”

“My mother always told me I had a God-awful memory,” was all he could cough up, waited patiently for the boy to put his boxers and sweater on, and nursed down the overwhelming drive to either fucking pour or push the hybrid deep into his chest until he got lost in there.

Jungkook watched from the corner of the bed while Taehyung stripped it of it’s damp sheets, and helped tuck his corner in when a sheet flew his way. Legs crossed and ears steadily rising, he didn’t do too great, and simply sat back while Taehyung finished his corner for him.

A pair of sheets stretched over the mattress. The moon had drawn to the side of the sky and dismantled the shimmer that once fed on them. Darkness settled. 

Taehyung’s heart picked up pace when they got under the covers. It considered mutiny when it just stopped in his chest. 

“Need you over here,” he said, voice stripped.

Jungkook didn’t make him wait. Didn’t want to wait on his own. His skin itched for the touch of his owner, hurt all over—all over again. This close, sheets soft on his skin, a bed still so luxurious in his mind, head snatched back to the air-dusted, spider infested, terrible place, he could vomit from the churning in his stomach.

It was agony to be given a crown and have it slapped off of his head like his skin on the floor, but it was worse to think of a rift between him and Taehyung. Being a hybrid was constant internal discordance.

He got within an inch of Taehyung and lost control over the situation. The man grabbed him by his back, arms, anything he could get ahold of and pulled him in, damn near fisting up his ears.

He breathed in Taehyung’s scent, felt the wires in his body untangle, and melted like a strawberry and plum concoction.

“I don’t have the words to tell you how sorry I am.”

“It’s okay, I probably don't know them.”

Taehyung couldn’t help but smile. Not just because the boy so easily humored him, but because stability sounded good on his tongue. He always thought he’d grow insane before Jungkook grew courageous, but turns out the boy was always meant to sprout yards with just a single drop of water.

“I hate the word sorry. It’s too overused, doesn’t do any justice to anything.”

“That’s why I just like it when you touch me. It’s so much louder that way."

“We’ll just skip the words, then. They won’t do us any good. They don't know what’s going on, anyway,” Taehyung said, and lost his lips in between his ears. “But we do. So just listen… right here, with me, on my chest.”

He could only skip the words for as long as it took for Jungkook’s breathing to dip low and his heart rate to slow down enough to pace them into a sleepy haze.

“I hated how that felt. That’s how I know what you are to me.”

Jungkook hummed quietly. The room was too glazed over in sleep for him to throw around words he really didn’t care for. He’d rather listen to Taehyung, in both ways.

“I’ve punched Jimin bloody, and it felt like a weight was lifted off my chest. You… it felt like someone just filled it with a whole fucking ocean.”

Jungkook spoke with touch. Louder, he attested. Words just didn’t belong tonight. He whispered wordlessly into Taehyung’s neck, lips parted, warmth curling around his cupid’s bow and pooling into Taehyung’s collarbone, until he caught onto the sharp edge of his jaw and followed its silver lining.

He stopped at the corner of Taehyung’s lips, felt the residue of long dried tears, tasted the salt. Louder than any word he could think of, he stayed there, until the taste grew stronger, and the ocean that sat on Taehyung’s chest finally fell through the cracks.


May 15th

You wouldn’t believe Taehyung if he told you his eyes weren’t swollen in the morning in contrast to his hybrid’s pearly, bright eyes, moonlight recovered like it hadn’t been snatched out ruthlessly.

But you would believe him if he told you that apparently Jungkook had a tougher heart than he did, and if that wasn’t a plot twist, he didn’t know what was.

It was a rough night. That was his excuse for rubbing at his eyes twenty minutes after waking up while Jungkook rolled around in the sheets. One of them was holding up their morning tradition. The other couldn’t see through the sun shining down on him.

Jungkook looked like an absolute view in the sunlight. The world was so gob-smacked by an eclipse, but try putting two moons in the sun’s radiance, go to Seoul, and find the first man to ever be smited down.

He was so smiley that it hurt, differently than it did last night. It was a good hurt. More like anguish, if you took Taehyung’s mental crisis into consideration. 

His feet under his bottom and his tail at a constant thrum, hands pushing past the sheets that got in his way, Jungkook threw his ears in every direction.

“Taehyung,” he whined sweetly. “How long are you going to lay there?”

“Until the sun goes down again.”

“That’s going to be forever.” His body finally came to a stop, shoulders drooping. Taehyung didn’t see it—if he did, he would have frowned. “A whole day.”

“Technically half a day.”

Tae,” he mewled, poking his lip out, shifting on his knees.

“Why are you so spry right now? Are all of you bunnies this quick to bounce back?” Taehyung huffed. He uncovered his eyes and stretched his arm out, curled his fingers in. “Come here, you ball of energy. Get over here.”

He didn’t have to tell him twice. Getting over there? With Taehyung? He’d been waiting all morning.

Because the thing was, creatures like him couldn’t hold grudges. They could scar. They could hold onto trauma. But they were forgiving, eagerly so, and Taehyung earned it last night.

With every hitch in his breath, every nail he tried not to dig into creamy skin, every incoherent word that toppled out of his mouth, drowned in the choked regret of his cries, it became clear to Jungkook the reality of his throes.

He was ashamed. Lost in himself, falling over his own mind and whatever part of himself took over that day. He’d yet to say it’s okay, because it wasn’t, but Taehyung sunk into his misery until he couldn’t keep his eyes open, and Jungkook knew more than enough that a sorry really couldn’t cover it all. Words truly did come up empty this time around.

That was why when he woke up, his chest felt lighter than it had for days. Taehyung wasn’t sorry—he was rebuilding. He fell apart last night, and sometimes, that meant starting over.

This time, Taehyung was building around him.

He crawled over to Taehyung, pushed against him, sat on his shins. Hands folded on his chest, Jungkook rested his chin on them, and smiled. Two pairs of squinted eyes, one happier than the other.

“Good morning,” Jungkook said.

“It is. I’ve still got you here even if I’m a fuck up.”

Jungkook’s smile brightened up, and then the squint of Taehyung’s eyes was just a little bit happier, and he leant up to touch their lips together. Kissing him was still a paralyzing thing, in the way that he never wanted to move and make it stop. 

He tasted like strawberries, not plums. And Taehyung didn’t taste like salt.

“Not going anywhere.”

There was that big heart that he was just fumbling at this point. Probably shouldn’t be entrusted to him, but Jungkook kept handing it off to him.

“Glad you’re not, because then I wouldn’t be able to see right now for no good reason.”

“Because your eyes are so swollen, you look like you have smile eyes forever.” The bunny seemingly did. “I really like it.”

“You do?” Taehyung asked in amusement, eyes sliding into a tease. “I’ll just have to cry more often then.”

“No!” Jungkook giggled, and tipped his head over until his cheek squished up on his knuckles. “You just have to smile more, hyung.”

“Well, since you’re not going anywhere, I imagine I’ll be doing more of that too.”

Taehyung didn't promise it would never happen again, because that's what his father always said before he choked on those words not a night later. He didn't beg for forgiveness, because he never took anything he hadn't earned fair and square.

And he hadn't earned it just yet, not until his boy was all strawberries again. Purple wasn't allowed in his room unless it was the two, little bows that sat on his bunny's ears, so you could be damn sure the plum on his skin had to go, and stay gone.

Chapter Text

May 15th

He wished he could stay in bed with Jungkook all day long, but there was too much calling for him, his head screaming to make too much right.

He’d been bending for days, he realized. Snapping was what had to happen to pull him back. He’d been accusing everyone else of losing track of their thoughts, falling off the path and losing focus, when it was him getting bogged down in the mind.

Too many things at once. Too many new ones. When things went wrong before, he could let them sit and fester. A fight with Jimin didn’t always mean communicating and mending the bond. Sometimes it meant not talking for weeks until it was time to raise hell.

But that wasn’t what he wanted now. Not that he ever did, but he wasn’t a big enough man to step up. He didn’t care enough. His heart was steady on him and him only, now it had split open to bleed, took in the boy with ears, and remembered the absolute love he held for Jimin.

That was why he left Jungkook after kissing the sun off of his cheeks to go find the one person who knew how to go missing. Assassins could sneak around any corner, skate under any crack, moved without a single noise—but the one person Jimin could never hide from was Taehyung.

The gardens. Where he tended to the flowers, kept them alive, found a green thumb when his mother lost hers. The rising acidity in his chest to kill always simmered down when coaxing a blossom to open up and see the world. He always came back in with brown fingers, but the look of letting go in his eyes.

Working with the flowers was a bridge to the afterlife for Jimin. The more he gave life to them, the more he felt hers. It was a chance to talk to her one last time.

Violets sprouted beautifully all over the property, Jimin made sure of it. They lined elegantly along the entryway, sat in carefully crafted boxes in the windowsills that Namjoon built for him the night he found out about the death tied to their name. Vases cradled them down the halls, pots hung from the walls. 

On the left side of the base, where the woods didn’t tower so closely, he had spread them out years ago. Taehyung didn’t know flowers could live that long until Jimin put his hands on one. 

Jimin was troubled in nurturing. Children would never fill his home with laughter, or his arms with their love or their problems, because he’d crush them, but when it came to the flowers fluorescent on their grounds and under his bare fingers, he had never broken a petal.

In her name, he couldn’t.

“Jimin.”

The florist turned, on his knees by the mulch, inspecting a crowd of purples and baby blues. His hair fell into his eyes, until he blinked them, filled them to the brim with weariness.

“What are you doing out here?”

“Came to see you,” Taehyung said, hands in his pockets, steps light, never wanted to disturb the flowers. He smiled in the sun. “Is she doing okay today?”

“Yeah… she’s okay.”

“You tell her I miss her?”

Jimin looked lost in the hollyhocks. “I always do.”

“I know,” he said, coming to a stop when Jimin was at his feet, and suddenly all he could remember was before all of this. 

When Jimin would tie his shoes before school, bookbag on his back, and the only thing they had to worry about was if they studied hard enough for their math test. 

When Taehyung would hold a hand out for him to get up, listen to the books rustle in that red bag he refused to give up on, and tell him how many times do I have to tell you to double knot your shoelaces?

Taehyung held a hand out, and and all he wanted so fucking bad was to see Jimin tie his old, ragged shoes up again, stubborn in all his ways with a singular knot.

Jimin took his hand, and Taehyung remembered the night so clearly—how he still hadn’t double knotted them, and they came undone when they picked her up off the street.

Eye to eye, he remembered how they didn’t pass that math test, and how they laughed about it, because things could always be worse, right?

They learned that with time.

“What’d you come out here—”

Taehyung couldn’t listen to him when his head was so full of the old Jimin’s voice, just spewing with jubilation and a pulse for life. 

He yanked Jimin against him, clawed to have him close, and held strong like they hadn’t been burned away years ago. Like they weren’t just embers left from the fires that started them.

“To tell you how much I fucking love you before one day I can’t.”

Jimin stiffened in his arms at first. Feuding for days, they hadn’t exchanged many words, and what they did was never amicable. It was heated and harsh and sharp, sometimes a jab at each other. Just talking was rocky for them, let alone embracing.

In his head, if he thought about Taehyung hugging him, he’d imagine himself pushing him away, telling him to fuck off, and then brushing his skin cells off of him. Because damn it, he didn’t do anything wrong—nothing that warranted getting his ass chewed apart.

But here, now, with the arms tight around his neck instead of his ribs like Taehyung always did, head still swimming and full from last night’s scare, he fell into their old ways.

They’d done it since middle school. Argue and bicker, throw some words around, avoid each other for a couple days but still keep in touch in case anyone feel alone or abandoned, and then make up because they were the only people they had.

That was a greater truth now than ever. Taehyung, when it all boiled down to it, was the only person he had. Others, he cared for, and you could bet he’d lay his life down for them, but no one was Taehyung. No one else was in his head like him. No one else knew what he was thinking before it came out of his mouth like him.

No one else was so damn foolheaded to interrupt his time in the garden just to mend the fracture between them—because he couldn’t wait another minute.

It felt nice to just be them sometimes. Forget who the Viper and the Siren was, and just be Taehyung and Jimin. The two boys in a little town who just liked to debate over which side of buttered toast was supposed to touch your tongue first.

“Hey,” Jimin said softly, and tucked a hand in his silver, messy hair, hugged his ribs this time around, because maybe there was one thing he could nurture. “I love you too. You don’t think a little fight could change that, do you?”

“Doesn’t matter. Last night I needed you, and I need you now, and I need you all the time, and I’m a fucking asshole for making you feel otherwise.”

“I know you need me. I always know that. I always need you,” he said into Taehyung’s ear, spreading his fingers out over his back. “We both had a part in that shitshow.”

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung breathed, not letting go, but the contrary, actually. “If you won’t say it, I will, because I’m done with this. I can’t do this without you every step of the way. I’m sorry for getting pissed about something you couldn’t help, and I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you.”

Jimin chuckled into his neck, taking him by surprise. He could feel the smile against his skin.

“Is that what it takes to get an apology out of you? Just being a brat? I thought I already did that well enough.”

“Just shut up and accept it.”

Now I shut up. Got it,” Jimin teased. “I accept it, even though there isn’t anything to accept, because I already knew there was something to your madness that night.”

“What?” Taehyung said, and pulled back, held Jimin by his shoulders.

“I knew from the get-go that Namjoon should have put that thing away. Anyone else but me and you would have been out of line, but it was me, so you were right to feel let down,” he admitted, “because I did let you down. It won’t happen again. I’m back, my head’s back, and I’m locked.”

“Then I guess we’re both idiots.”

“We already knew that, doofus,” Jimin said. 

He enticed his hands from Taehyung’s back to hook his thumbs under his jaw, and wrapped a set of fingers around the back of his neck. He urged him forward delicately—always drove Taehyung crazy how intricate his touches could be—until he could put his lips on Taehyung’s forehead.

Of course he was on his toes. Of course Taehyung stopped breathing. Of course the world went quiet.

“I’m never gone. I don’t care if you hurt me so bad I can’t come back from it. I’m still going to come back to you.”

“And I won’t ever have to come back,” Taehyung breathed, letting Jimin linger for as long as he wanted, “because ever since we were kids, it never crossed my mind to leave.”

Jimin curled his lips into a smile on his forehead and refused to open his eyes. Refused to lose the image of young Taehyung running in the park with his loose jacket falling off his shoulder and his strangely silvered hair picking a fight with the fall leaves in the air.

He liked to close his eyes and touch Taehyung and picture back then, maybe trick himself into thinking he was touching that same kid again, at six in the morning when their alarm clock blared into the room and they cracked their eyes open, dreading school.

Jimin lived in nostalgia, not regret. He missed those days when they didn’t have a care in the world when Taehyung’s father wasn’t on an alcohol binge. 

Even those nights were precious in their minds—meeting each other on Jimin’s doorstep at three o’clock, arms wide open, one red-eyed from sleep and the other from sobbing, Jimin’s mother waiting in the living room with her soft robe tied around the front, just waiting to call him baby.

But not regret. Who they were today was always going to happen, and what lived between them only grew and grew and continued to this day. Every second in the Violets, every chance they had to prove their promise to each other in the midst of flying bullets, they became one all over again.

These days were different, but they were a good different. They weren’t trudging to school in the foggy mornings, but they met for the morning rounds with serenity in their hearts to know they had each other another night. No mother waited for them at the door with her heart ready to engulf them, but they found a way to connect theirs.

But it wasn’t always this cleancut.

For a period of time, just after the tragedy of Jimin’s mother and the downfall of the Deities, they only had each other—in a different way from before. Homeless and starving different.

A lot of nights spent on the sidewalk, plenty of days spent roaming, a plethora of heart-racing chances when they weren’t the leaders of the Violets, but just two boys lost on the streets and ripe for the picking.

Taehyung broke three of his knuckles a week and a half after the Deities, on the face of a local gang member who thought Jimin looked a little too pretty to be sitting all alone. Well, he wasn’t alone, come to find out. 

It was the first time, but Christ was it not the last time. 

Taehyung owed a good portion of his street credentials to the gathering of men he had to put down just because they thought Jimin was offering his body as compensation for protection. Prostitution and body buying was more out of control than Taehyung ever predicted.

Back then, Jimin didn’t know how to protect himself, and Taehyung was just a riled up, pissed off machine waiting for a fight.

Somewhere along those lines, up until the last few years, lines were crossed. They found warmth in each other on winter nights. They fed on their words when food was sparse. They were all they had, and loneliness and heartache got the best of them.

They didn’t like to put it that way, but it was probably the truth. Odds are, they would have never done it if their worlds weren’t so consumed by trauma.

It started with just a simple kiss in the chilly breeze of an October night, on the corner of an alleyway, half-empty slushie they shared right next to them. Then it wasn’t simple, and both of their tongues were blue, and neither of them knew what to do but stop—Taehyung made a joke that he should have gotten a red slushie instead so they could make purple, but it fell on confounded ears.

It didn’t stop, though. Some nights, the worst nights, they sought after some type of affection with their hands on their bodies and breath lost to the night air. 

They were all they had, damn it. If the world wanted to take every single thing they had, then they were going to make use of the last thing it left behind—each other.

They weren’t a constant thing. Not a fling, either. Taehyung would rather cut his hands off than treat Jimin like something he could ever quit. They were emotions personified. Whatever they were at that time in their lives, it was simply their skin carving open to feel .

They’d been stripped of all normalized emotions and left with the remnants that just burned holes into them. The lust to kill, the urge to meltdown, the risk of dissipating into a self-raging massacre, eager to throw it all away.

To touch someone, feel their skin under their hands, give someone something good , it was remarkable. It was unknown to them. Touching each other was none other than releasing the cap to their pent up frustrations with being picked up and thrown out onto the streets before they could even figure out how to be regular teenagers.

There was no prom. No first kiss behind the bleachers. No first date with shaky hands at the local café. 

If Jimin had to put it into words, he’d say those nights spent with Taehyung were to feel human again.

It went off and on, unspoken for the longest time, reawoken without words when someone drifted their hands far over the other’s waist. Eventually, when the Violets became a known name, and the streets were seeming less viable and too small, torn down shelters were where they ended up, Taehyung finally brought it up.

“I don’t know what it is, but if it makes you feel like a person again, I don’t want to stop. I don’t. It’s the only time my hands don’t want to break what they touch.”

“It doesn’t have to be anything. It can just be us . I want to feel normal again, Taehyung, just sometimes, and just with you.” He felt the skin over Taehyung’s cheekbone. “It makes me think of the old us, too.”

“Don’t say that,” Taehyung said with a wince. “That isn’t us anymore.”

“Sorry…” His hand dropped. “I know.”

“I’ll tell you one thing, the first time we have sex isn’t going to be on the street or in some fucking shed. That isn’t you, Jimin, and I’m not going to make it you,” Taehyung said. “We’ll be somewhere soon. I know it.”

Not but two days later, they attacked their next target.

Taehyung didn’t know Jimin’s plan that night. His little starlight led the leader to his bedroom, and fell down onto a bed with someone on top of him for the first time. 

When Jimin found him during the fight and reported the leader dead with his clothes rumpled and a hickey forming on his neck, Taehyung didn’t want to fight anymore—didn’t want the warehouse and it’s beds anymore.

They tied themselves together that same night, Taehyung too disturbed to leave whatever traces that man had left behind inside of Jimin.

To this day, Jimin believed that to be his first time. For Taehyung, it just was.

Off the streets and building an empire, making a name for themselves, the emptiness slowed down, as did the need to fill it. They knew from the beginning that the sex wasn’t romantic, rather just finding a little bit of what being human felt like.

It wasn’t something they had to put a name to. They loved each other. There wasn’t much more to it.

The kissing stopped, but not fully. They still slipped back in line when together, just because being lifelong partners meant it was never going to just stop. They weren’t together. They were just… together

Taehyung tried to make sense of that a year ago to Namjoon and he’d never felt so betrayed by his mouth in his life.

What happened before they settled down never left their minds. It was pleasant. It soothed their souls. It was thought of fondly when it came up, but they’d found their own stillness just being next to each other.

Just when they thought they couldn’t twist together any tighter, they went and tied the knot—sexually, in bed, and Taehyung could confidently say that yes, he understood why Jimin’s tactics for assassination was sex, and yes he wanted to murder every man that ever touched Jimin.

God forbid if Jimin didn’t kill his victims before Taehyung got to them. 

“Never?” Jimin asked. “Not even when I made you steal a pretzel for me at the Busan seaports?”

“Never, because now I’d just kill the vendor and get you the whole cart.”

Jimin laughed. “Ooh, la, la. You really know how to make a boy swoon, don’t you?”

“You, yeah. Just be as primal as can be and consider you wrapped up in a nice, little box.”

“Wrapped up?” Jimin asked, eyes sliding into suggestion. “Didn’t know you liked that, Kim Taehyung.”

“What the fuck ever, yes you did.”

Things weren’t like they used to be, but that could be said about every era of their life. 

They left home and wondered if they’d ever find another, then they fell on the streets and found one in each other. 

After the Violets expanded, they doubted the separate beds, the lesser of kisses, the lack of more first times—questioned what they were supposed to be now.

And now they knew, things were always what they were supposed to be. They changed, but only so much, because when Jimin knocked their foreheads together and they could hear their smiles amongst the violets, they were still the same little kids who fucking bombed that math test.


Talking about last night felt less like reopening a wound than he thought it would. Partially because it was Jimin he was telling, but mostly because he’d come to a sort of peace to it. He fucked up, Jungkook was okay, and all he could do now was smooth over the wrinkles. It wasn’t like he hadn’t done it all before.

“You owe me a night with him after putting me through that.”

“I owe a lot of things for last night, Jimin.”

Jimin collectively decided that no matter how bouncy or happy Jungkook seemed to be, he wasn’t okay, and needed some time away and with him. Taehyung relented, but couldn’t give any commitment at the moment. There needed to be some fixing done before he could hand the boy off for an entire day.

But he could manage an hour.

But if you do want to watch him for a minute, I need to do a couple things and I really don’t want him to—”

“I’ll do it.”

Taehyung blinked, stopped in the hallway. “I didn’t even finish.”

“Because I don’t care. I’ll do it. Hand him over before I go feral.”

“You are…” He shook his head. “Rabid. Just rabid.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you but you’re still holding out on me like I won’t knock your knees out.” Jimin aggressively waved towards the door.

“Knock my knees out and you’re going down with me.”

“It’s a long way down with a head like yours,” Jimin grumbled. “Hurry up so I can take him away.”

“What—right now? You have nothing else to do?”

Yes, right now. I have a dozen things to do, but I’ve been itching to have him all night long.” Jimin took a grasp of his shirt and pulled him towards the door. “Knees.”

“You’ll knock ‘em out,” Taehyung griped. “I got it, I got it.”

“I don’t think you do.”

“Why’d I make up with you, again?”

“I don’t know,” Jimin said, and just as the bedroom door cracked open, “Why’d you used to make out with me, again?”

They blanched, caught red handed. Standing there in his bunched up socks and even more bunched up sweater, Jungkook looked up at them with giant clusters of brown.

“Oh,” Taehyung peeped.

“Huh,” Jimin noted curiously, head tilted.

“I heard you through the door…” Jungkook said, pointing his toes together like they might save him from the chaos of this place. “I waited, but then you didn’t come in.”

“We’re just gonna keep this rolling before I have to explain anything,” Jimin clipped, twirled his index finger in a vortex, and picked the conversation back up even quicker. “Jungkook, baby, hey,” he cooed like jelly, taking matters into his own hands before anyone could note the red shade of Taehyung’s neck.

Jimin opened his arms and he didn’t have to say a word. He never did when it came to Jungkook. The boy normally just shouted his name like he was Christ risen a second time, but a little less preaching and little more love.

Oh, but this time was even better. If this was an option, he’d sign himself up for a mix of both. 

Jungkook just pressed his face into his chest and said Jimin’s name like a prayer, under his breath and meant for the only man listening for it—Jimin wasn’t God, but he could pretend for the time being.

Seeping wet with sweetness, nose smushed against his chest, Jungkook could easily take his heart out with his teeth right now and he’d still feel full.

“I missed you. If I had the self-control of a smoker, I would have snatched you out of bed this morning and given Taehyung a heart attack.”

“If you cause a shootout because I think someone has stolen him just so that you can coddle your obsessive compulsions, I will personally lose the key to one of our holding cells, coincidentally with you in it.”

“I’ll dig my way out and put you in a coma,” Jimin said in the same disgustingly gooey voice he used when pressing his lips into Jungkook’s hair. “And then you’d be all mine, little bunny.”

Jungkook giggled, oddly undisturbed by the threats flying around in the air. It pulled down on Taehyung’s eyebrows—the boy really wouldn’t care if he got the daylights knocked out of him, huh?

With a heart that big, he had a different view on people. Many believed hybrids saw souls rather than bodies, but no hybrid had ever denied or confirmed, because they didn’t know the difference.

Blood painting their clothes, gore in their words, ghosts in their tracks, and Jungkook would still smile bigger than the demons in their head when he saw them. 

“Stop plotting to steal him or I might start believing you.”

Start? Boy, you better get with it before I win like I always do.”

Jungkook nudged him with his head. “Quit it, Jiminie.”

Jiming quitting it was archaic. Telling him to cease and desist would just decease the brave moron who said it. But hell, when it came from Jungkook’s mouth, he was a brand new man.

“Sorry. My unruly mouth acts up sometimes.”

Taehyung snorted, eyes on the wall. “Mhm.”

Jimin didn’t know if he was supposed to grin or frown, so he just did a mix of both just to be safe, ruffling Jungkook’s hair to keep his ears elsewhere. Good ears didn’t overhear words that should fall through the cracks.

“How are you today, sweetness?” he asked, and leant back until Jungkook unburrowed from his shirt, placing a hand on each cheek, smile warm to the touch. “It was a rough night.”

The boy’s ears deflated just enough to pinch their hearts. In the middle of smoothing things over with Taehyung, he managed to forget Jimin came into the bathroom last night and picked his naked, quaking body up off the floor while he mewled about everything that hurt.

Shame came and went. It arose when he remembered the state he was in just over two months ago. It gnawed at his confidence when he felt even the smallest bit of it—why are you teasing Taehyung when you were fed the leftover meat on the bone?

Sometimes when he smiled too big, a dreadful cloud of black swept up from the back of his head. It didn’t have a name or a trigger, just said you really think you should be that bold?

He still hadn’t allowed himself the luxury of shoes, and some nights he second guessed getting into bed with Taehyung. Today, God, today, remembering that last night he was that peeled back, embarrassing mess just made to be chuckled at, he couldn’t swallow it down.

“I’m okay.”

“Oh,” Jimin said with a tented tongue, friendliness falling away to reveal pity. “Oh, I know, bunny, but you don’t think I’ve never been such a mess that I’m pretty sure it had to be brought on by God himself, do you?”

The hybrid’s lips couldn’t be poutier if he tried.

“Really?”

“Yeah, really. Someone who we won’t name betrayed the bunny rules of never making one cry, and so if you ask me, crying is the only due punishment.”

Jungkook’s eyes swam with abashment. If things hadn’t ended the way they did, he could see Jimin being an elementary school teacher. If a child wet themselves or just flopped around in frustration because they couldn’t get their point across, he’d have that same golden voice to bring them back down and settle their nerves.

He’d also handle a case of a stolen crayon wrong, and maybe advise the kid to meet the perpetrator behind the jungle gym.

“I don’t wanna punish Tae…”

“Believe me,” Taehyung said quietly. “Tae’s been punished.”

“No, he hasn’t. Not nearly enough,” Jimin said, making Jungkook’s eyes go big and Taehyung roll his. “That’s why I’m going to steal you away from him for a little bit. How’s that for a punishment?”

Jungkook thought that was going easy on him, but he wasn’t going to tell Jimin that. The lesser the sentence, the better. Taehyung could survive this one.

“I get to go with you?” he asked as his ears jumped back up to normal, pressing forward on the balls of his feet. “Are we going to watch the next episode of the stingrays?”

“Not tonight,” Jimin laughed. “Though I love that smart brain of yours ticking away.”

“Then what are we gonna do?”

“I don’t know yet. We’ll figure it out. I can steal you as soon as you’re ready. 

“I—Tae?” Jungkook asked, and his hand had a mind of it’s own when it reached for his sleeve, pinched it in uncertainty  looking for something to hang on to. Hanging onto Taehyung always felt like finding shelter in a storm. “Can I play with Jiminie today?”

Taehyung could hardly see when his smile just obliterated his eyes. Who knew affection could be so heavy on the eyelids.

“Of course you can, baby,” he said, and flattened down his ears, suffering the aftereffects of drug use when Jungkook’s eyes fluttered shut. He didn’t mention it was already planned—the boy’s politeness was something to uphold, not disregard. “I have a couple errands I have to take care of anyway. I think you’ll have more fun with Jimin.”

Jungkook felt like he should point out the fact that no, actually, everything was always better when he was with Taehyung, but he’d had enough of going against the grain. He also wasn't about to act like spending time with Jimin wasn’t his favorite pastime.

Though, he was disappointed they weren’t watching their documentary. He’d gotten so entranced in the ocean. 

Jimin liked to say that jellyfish in the right lighting mimicked his eyes (not the other way around) and Jungkook got in the habit of jumping in excitement when one would come on screen and he’d asked, like that, Jiminie, my eyes are like that?

“But… what are you doing, Tae?”

“Boring stuff. Talk to some of my men. I have to make sure everything’s still going on track, right?” Taehyung reminded him. “I’ve been too focused on you this morning that I’ve swept some things aside for too long.”

Taehyung liked to do a tightrope act between I commandeer the Violets with a close eye and I couldn’t give a fuck what they do. He played it off well.


"Well, look who came to pay me a visit?”

“You talking to me this time?”

In his natural habitat, Yoongi was busy doing as he always was—caught with a greased up cloth in one hand and a weapon in the other. It took his mind off what these guns would later accomplish.

“It’s just you, isn’t it?” he asked, eyes drooping in consideration for the possible future. “I’m not seeing all of the people my guns have killed yet. Not unless you’re planning on giving me up anytime soon.”

The desk shined under Yoongi’s scuffed boot, always propped up, never on the floor. He kept his things cleaner than he did himself. A spotless tool got you further, he always told Taehyung.

“Funny,” Taehyung scoffed, fingers dancing on his holstered firearm, a habit of those who had a very particular itch. “You think you could kill me.”

“Let’s not find that out, Taehyung,” Yoongi said blandly down to the handgun he gave a sheen to, almost bored, and maybe it was a little insulting. “I’m sure everyone in the surrounding area would appreciate it.”

“Would be one hell of a betting event.”

“And all of it would go to fixing this place up afterwards,” he mused, and when he turned his handgun to observe his work, he flashed the barrel Taehyung’s way—he knew better, it was a cheap shot. “And probably funding Jimin a new heart since he’ll be taking in your hybrid.”

“So your bets are on you?”

“My bets are thrown out. No one would make it out of that alive, Taehyung, and you know it.” His gun went limp in his lap, neck loose when he tilted it to the side, tipping his chair back. “Speaking of the little tyke, where’s your boy at? Real unlike yourself to not flash your possessions.”

“The only time I’ll be flashing him is to see who's deserving of a bullet in their head. He’s with Jimin. I’m putting the brat to work.”

Yoongi’s eyebrows shot up. “You’re calling Jungkook a brat now?”

“What? No.” Taehyung looked just as shocked as him. “No, Christ. He’s an angel. I’m talking about Jimin.”

“Oh. Him, yeah.”

“He’s going to get some energy out of Jungkook. He was antsy this morning, and I think he needs someone more willing to hop around with him than I am.”

“He’s got a playmate now,” Yoongi said, nodding in discernment. “And by he, that is not exclusive to just one of them.”

“Yeah… Jimin’s definitely taking advantage of it, and Jungkook looks like someone plugged him in every time he’s with him.” 

The joviality in Taehyung’s eyes took a dip, until the only thing in them was dark contemplation. He didn’t have to say anything. Yoongi read people better than he interacted with them. A man as aware of inner turmoil as him could see a shift in the eyes in a dark night blinded by warfare.

“You didn’t come in here to check on the armory.”

“No, I didn’t.”

Yoongi had eyes of steel. They stared at it all day long to soak in it’s characteristics. The metal had come point-blank to his face enough times to leave it’s remnants behind, as did digging his sweating fingers into it to consume another man’s last breath.

He watched you like a blink could tell him everything. The weight of your eyes spoke of how many hours you slept, and how many you didn’t when your conscious spoke all night long. 

But steel was sharp to the eye, and that was one thing he had over it. He managed to appear dull, not in the mind, but in the process. Reactions did him no good—they got him banned from the country to begin with.

His eyes didn’t have a shiny finish, looks weren’t the main priority. It was the brain behind them that cut like steel. Expressions merely got in the way.

“You look like someone finally got under your scales and it’s getting crowded in there,” Yoongi said. “You’re never troubled. And you never come to me when you are. You must be up shit’s creek, but you’ve got a paddle… there’s a hole in your boat, isn’t there? You’re moving, but you need to toss some water before you get anywhere.”

“Stop with your metaphors,” Taehyung tutted. 

“And you think I can patch the hole up with hands shredded with scars?”

“Yeah, actually. They’re the key to this.”

Yoongi hummed, and let his chair drop to the floor. He dropped the stained cloth to the table and tore his gaze off the steel beauty in his hands.

“Now I’m interested.”

“You could start by asking me what the fuck is wrong.”

“Oh, Taehyung, I can’t sit here for hours. The guns don’t clean themselves.”

His leader took a calming breath to alleviate the aggravation in his easily hot chest. When he did that, you knew you pushed a button, and you better put your hands together and get on your knees and pray that it wasn’t the big, red one.

“I’m serious, fucker. Mind treating this the same?”

The close range compatist rolled his eyes. “Obviously I already am. I already called you out. You’ve got something that needs specialized treatment. By specialized, I mean someone just as fucked who can level with you.” He grinned a little. “Or more. I’m listening. These days, things aren’t terribly demanding of my attention. You have it all.”

Taehyung’s finger really itched his weapon now. Cockiness came top on his list of annoyances—even if he was his worst enemy. 

But he stopped, felt a sedative flow through his veins rapid enough to take his blood pressure down within seconds. Thinking of Jungkook did that to him.

“How do you… how do you turn your switch off?”

Yoongi’s slouched posture pointed itself upward. Taehyung wasn’t kidding. He normally wasn’t, but Yoongi never took anything by word of mouth. Too many lies in their field. Too many commanders who told him everyone made it back alive before a livestream of a prisoner of war torture kicked off the next day—the same kid he ate breakfast next to the morning before.

“My switch? I didn’t know I had one.”

“You do. You just never saw it flipped like I did. About a year after you were here, you bit your tongue, you swore off killing—”

“I didn’t swear it off,” Yoongi corrected, index finger in the air. “I learned some deserved to die more than others, and it’s such a shame to waste a bullet.”

“Fine, but you changed, Yoongi. I haven’t forgotten when you shot my fucking foot on your second day here. I can’t when I still have phantom pains.”

“Yeah,” he said, but didn’t sound too heartbroken about it. “Sorry about that.”

“Don’t be. You were an undomesticated demon. Just filling your quota.”

Yoongi gave him a subtle glare, but digressed. “But, see? Someone else out there deserved that more than you. A bullet wasted.”

“Forget the shooting. Forget the bullets and throwing punches. Think tantrums. Think letting the red take over.”

“I know what you’re looking for. I’m just giving you a hard time because someone has to or else you’ll never learn a lesson from these yes men,” Yoongi said. “You’re talking about my temper being short enough to blow with just a spark.”

“And now it isn’t.”

“Tell me first, what’s got you asking?” He leaned back in his chair. “Your short temper keeps your life span long. Why give it up now?”

“Asking for advice doesn’t mean giving away information.”

“You’ll give it to me if I ask,” Yoongi said. “I know we’re not throwing any slumber parties and painting our nails, but you’re hiding me from the government and I’m supplying you weapons to uphold the criminal scene. I think I can take a secret or two.”

Taehyung ground his mullers. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Yoongi. Yoongi would never two-time him. His survival was at stake. One ‘anonymous’ tip to the government and either Yoongi fought to the death, or they shot him on sight. That was if Taehyung didn’t give it a go first.

It was the consistent issue he’d had since he was a kid—sharing. Secrets, long lost lies, feelings, Jimin, Jungkook, himself. Kids are taught to share early in life, but his mother didn’t have time to do that when she couldn’t share shit because his father sucked in everything like a massive blackhole.

The criminal grounds were infested with pests who invested in people’s confidentiality, accrued interest on it, until the inevitable happened and backs turned to each other and knifes pressed again throats—then suddenly, your secrets were a bargaining chip. A currency. Blackmail was as valuable as untraceable money.

Who it was didn’t matter. Anyone could be an enemy. He knew that all too well.

But Yoongi was the enemy. He was on the top of lists—not as many as Taehyung, though. He had nothing to lose to host a therapy session, and everything to leak it.

“My temper got the best of me last night… and Jungkook got the worst.”

Yoongi sobered quicker than a tense family dinner. “Did you hurt him?”

“He got hurt, yes.”

“That’s not what I asked. Did you hurt him?” 

“I… I didn’t hit him, or throw him, or anything like that. I don’t want to get into the details, because he doesn’t fucking deserve that, but he slipped and fell when I put him on the floor, so I hurt him, yes.”

“Okay…” Yoongi leaned forward, putting his thoughts down heavy with his elbows on the table. “We’re not going backwards. What happened, happened. I have no room to speak on it, frankly.”

“You can tell me I fucked up if you want to.”

“I don’t have to. You already know that, Taehyung. I know you’ve been telling yourself that all day.”

A dolorous scoff. “Like a hellish prayer.”

“He’s a good kid, and you’re the scary stories they tell all the good kids to keep them blowing bubbles. If you really thought this was going to go smoothly, you’ve gotten out of touch.”

“I didn’t,” Taehyung said, defensive. “I knew when I used bloody hands to get him out of his chains.”

Yoongi eyeballed him in scrutiny, and remembered why he liked guns. They didn’t talk. They didn’t cling to life when they broke down. Humans were squirmy, stubborn worms who refused to accept defeat.

He was one of them. He knew he should be dead right now, or locked up for life, fodder for the government’s victory speeches. 

If another human chose to resist the unavoidable for just a little longer before fate snatched them up and turned them into what they were always meant to be… well, he never did like how the worms kept squirming even after his dad put them on the fishing hook.

“There isn’t a switch, Taehyung. You don’t just turn it off. You won’t be able to. You’re damned.”

“I’m aware.”

“But if you put the same energy towards controlling your fire as you do starting it, then maybe you’ll be redeemable.”

“And how do I do that?”

“You tell yourself to suffocate it. Kill the oxygen. Whatever thing it is that’s in your head screaming, silence it. Muzzle it for as long as it takes to see again.”

“I’ve never… pushed it down. It rears up when I hear gunfire, or someone grates against my nerves, and I just follow it.”

“Do not follow. Lead. I know it’s kind of your thing to walk into a building and take it down like arson, but you have to be able to put it out too. And when you put a fire out, you don’t spray the flames—you spray the source.”

“My head.”

“It’s on fire. You’ve gotta learn how to hone that fire.”

“You know how to hone yours now?” Taehyung asked. “Is that why you aren’t shooting the place up anymore?”

“I like to think so. I came to the realization that there are things not worth losing over a little bit of heat in the head. It feels damn good to give in to it, but the aftermath doesn’t. What’s the point to tearing your house apart if you have to pick it all up in the morning?” Yoongi scoffed. “There’s nothing quite like cleaning up your own destruction to give you a reality check.”

“Reality check is an understatement.” He tried not to think back to it—like it wasn’t in his head all day already. “I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to look at my hands and not like what I saw.”

“It’s all fun and games setting things on fire until it’s yours. Being an arsonist takes delicacy, else you’ll catch everything around you.”

“Yeah, well, the drapes caught last night.”

“And I bet it feels like the whole fucking house burned down.”

Yeah,” he said again, but deep in his chest, coveted in a hard sigh. “To the ground.”

“Historical,” Yoongi said simply, looking at him like an experiment gone outlandish.

“Huh?”

“Jungkook got under your scales, now you’re thinking of shedding and becoming a new man… never thought I’d see the day.”

“You’re gonna rue it too if you don’t shut up.”


 Taehyung went looking for the playdate kids with a new stack of thoughts in his head. They never seemed to stop these days. It was easier when all he used to have to think of was who was next on his list and how he was going to knock them off of it.

Now he was doubting the one thing that swallowed him whole, but spit him back out when he was safe—the hell inside of his head.

Some things couldn’t change. They were too far embedded in the bone of his skull and the orifices of his brain to chuck out like they were never there.

The fires had to burn. If they went out, he’d be as dim as a light gone out, and that was as dangerous as a blackout in a major city. Chaos and loss of direction. His hands may get bloodier just to re-light that fire.

But Yoongi was onto something. 

The fires didn’t have to be stomped out, just disciplined. Not for the men harassing the streets, or the culprits bagging substances and illegal goods, but the little boy looking at him like his fire was to lead him safely through the dark.

Restraint had to be taught. He did say that maybe Jungkook could teach him a thing or two.

Finding them wasn’t difficult. He could have said marko and gotten polo in a second. They were just right around the corner in the main area, sitting at one of the tables against the far side wall.

Content with each other, Jungkook on Jimin’s lap, the assassin was smiling tenderly at something the hybrid was saying, hands curling together in excitement because whatever was coming out of his mouth had him happy as could be.

“Having fun, bunny?”

Jungkook’s head snapped up and his way, eyes shining bright at that familiar voice. It slept with him in his dreams most nights.

“Tae!”

“I got him a cinnamon roll… well, two, and it took me a minute to get him settled,” Jimin said, love so heavy in his voice that it sounded deeper today. “I made him say he hated me every time he bounced his leg. He hasn’t bounced it in a record two minutes.”

Taehyung snickered and swept Jungkook’s bangs back.

“Did you get some sweets?”

“Mhm. I like cinnamon.”

“Did you know that already or after Jimin filled you up with sugar like you aren’t already oozing with it?”

Jungkook seemed to fight between melting under the praise and jumping at the sugar in his veins, tongue getting twisted—tell him he put that sugar in you, but wait, no, Jimin did with the cinnamon, ugh.

“After. I—” He made a small, high-pitched noise in the back of his throat and the two men’s eyes almost shut with adoration.

“After. That’s all you have to say,” Taehyung said, knowing he was taunting the boy. “I’ll remember you like cinnamon. It’s not hard to, considering that you like every single sweet out there.”

“Which makes no sense, really,” Jimin sighed. “You’d think you’d be tired of it after being a sweet yourself.”

All the bunny could do was fidget pitifully. It was the sugar in his system. It was definitely being seated on Jimin’s lap as a punishment for bouncing everywhere, because on Jimin’s lap he wasn’t allowed to bounce.

“Enough teasing. I’m taking back what’s mine now, if you don’t mind.”

“I mind.”

“And all these years later, I still don’t care.”

He ended up having to tear Jungkook away from Jimin, something about, a crying bunny is a sign of the end of the world, a biblical event, a tragedy.

Jimin found healing in holding the boy after last night. 

Leaving just when things calmed down, but also just when Jungkook was a rattled, quiet thing left him on the edge of his seat. Unfinished business. He craved to put a period to the end of it, but that wasn’t his job, so thank Christ he didn’t have to put a period to Taehyung’s life this morning.

Taehyung promised he’d plan another playdate, but they had somewhere else to be.

Somewhere else being the intelligence room.

Jungkook held in his questioning all the way up to the stairs. Taehyung commended him for it, because he knew with his fast rising chest and his fingers tapping against Taehyung’s knuckles that he was growing ever curious.

“Why are we going to the smart room?”

The smart room. Taehyung could cry.

“I need to study and think. Make a plan regarding our new enemy. I could be in there for a while and I don’t want you sitting in your room all alone… but I also don’t want you with Jimin all day.”

“So you… you want me to be with you,” he prodded, seeking out that reassurance from Taehyung that the need to be together was, in fact, mutual.

“Yes,” the leader said simply, knew full well that he wasn’t going to get away with avoiding the exact words. “Time with you is about all I want right now.”

Jungkook didn’t tell him that was all he ever wanted. The man had already heard it countless times. He could hear metal clanking from the laboratory when Taehyung led them into the secluded area.

The walls covered in folders made Jungkook feel claustrophobic and tucked in tight at the same time. If he were alone, he’d lose his breath, but with Taehyung, the smell of the papers and the warmth of the crowded space made him want to build a pallet and pass out.

It didn’t concuss the sugar-high, but he at least felt like he could go to sleep.

“You can look through anything you want, just put it back where you found it, okay?”

“I don’t want to touch anything. I’m scared I’ll mess it up, because… I don’t think my brain’s big enough to trust me with it, Tae.”

“If I hear you say something like that again,” Taehyung warned, “I’ll make you say you hate me.”

“I don’t want to say that…”

“Then don’t ever insult your intelligence. Small is not the word for your brain. Picking up speed is more like it.”

“O—Okay, but I still don’t want to touch anything. Can I just sit and watch you?”

“You can. Just don’t think I’m ignoring you, alright? I’m just thinking.”

Jungkook knew it wasn’t neglect that kept Taehyung silent. It was the overload of data running through his brain, eyes ticking from one folder to the next, attempting to remember who it was and what they did to be notated in his library. 

When he couldn’t put his finger on it, he, well, put his finger on it and pulled it, skimmed it until his memory picked it back up. 

Some folders he put back in their slot. Others he slid onto the table, next to Jungkook who sat on one of the conference chairs with his legs crossed and dragging his fingers over the names of the pulled gangs.

Jungkook didn’t think some of them put a lot of thought into their names. Boring ones, like the Pompous and the Ravens. Others twinkled in his mind, gave him a little spark in the imagination—the Jubials, the Whinescents. None of the words made any sense to him, but they sounded good on the mind.

None of them were as pretty as the Violets.

It took nearly an hour for him to search the walls and come up with a considerably sized collection of pinpointed foes. The stack sat high as Jungkook’s head, which was full of eye-catching names.

He didn’t mind watching Taehyung that long. Needy, he was, but not picky. Any time spent with his owner was well spent, even if it was watching the clouds move on a clear day.

“Stop bouncing your leg.”

“Sorry.” It came to a full stop.

Taehyung snorted. “I know rabbits can’t help it, but at this rate, you’ll burn away all the fat you’ve built up and there isn’t enough to spare.”

“I think cinnamon is too sugary for me.”

“I think you are too sugary for me,” Taehyung said, and sat at the head of the conference table.

The length of the table allotted a comfortable space between each chair, especially the head chair, giving the host plenty of room of speak without feeling congested, but Jungkook found no comfort in space. Just seclusion.

Blame it on last night, or just blame it on the ever increasing fever in his blood for his owner, but he hated being this close without being close.

“Taehyung?”

“Hmm?” he sounded, flipping one of the folders open to reveal neatly placed papers organized by dividers.

“Can I… can I?”

“Can you what?”

Oh. He forgot that part—the whole slow your lightyear speed brain down and communicate like a human.

“Can I come over there, please?” he asked. It could have possibly been categorized as under the breath. “I—I won’t if it might distract you.”

Taehyung pulled his eyes off the papers to put them on him.

“Over here? Like…” If he were an idiot, he’d look around him for another chair. “My lap?”

“Yeah,” Jungkook verified with hands anxiously flattened in between his legs.

“Oh… well, sure, of course, baby,” he said easier than expected, already pushing his chair back to make room for the both of them.

His hands sat empty on the table, arms spread to make the space around him claimable. He met Jungkook with a welcoming smile, checking on the state of his shaky hands to make sure they weren’t any worse off.

He expected Jungkook to go around the other side of him to hang his legs off of one side and just cozy up against his chest. What he got stifled his lungs more than the dusty, old charts.

Jungkook shyly straddled him. Those words didn’t fit well together in a sentence, but damn it, Taehyung swore that was how it happened. Hands twiddling with his sweater and eyes elsewhere, the hybrid put one leg on either side of his thighs.

The first thing the boy did was bury his face in Taehyung’s neck and fold his arms up against his chest, tucking them away right next to the peaches of his cheeks.

Taehyung was sent away from Yoongi with homework, and that was to contain his fire. Now, his first time alone with Jungkook since, and he was burning up from the inside out. 

It wasn’t the same, though. It was a fire that seeked anticipation, not debilitation. It licked at his insides not to demand ruinment… actually, yeah, it did. A ruinment he’d never felt before. 

To engulf the boy. To leave a disaster behind. He couldn’t choose which disaster he yearned to see—cheeks buzzing and eyes watering from laughing and getting tangled up in the comforter, or red-faced from losing his breath and writhing his bare skin against the sheets. 

Taehyung had a bet going on with himself for how long it would take to think of Jungkook like that . In the middle of the intelligence room, folders splayed out on the table, and a newfound desire to actually control himself, and now was when he lost his own bet.

It couldn’t be helped. God given, Jungkook was the most gorgeous thing to ever cross his sight, and their kisses as of late had been a little hotter than he’d like to admit. On his lap, legs spread and thighs plastered together, Taehyung forgot all about fires—he needed self-control exacted somewhere else today.

He kissed Jungkook’s shoulder, wasn’t even surprised when he couldn’t stop there and kissed up his neck. The boy shifted on him, pressed against him harder.

“Need to be close to me today?”

“Mhm. Smell good.”

Taehyung choked on the inside. He sighed on the outside.

“You can scent me if you want, and stay right here. I don’t mind looking over you to study. Whatever my baby wants.”

Scenting. He found out that was an actual thing a week ago and Jungkook wasn’t just sniffing him because he smelled halfway decent. He had a natural scent and Jungkook’s halfbreed nose was able to smell it.

It was a comforting mechanic for hybrids. Every human’s scent was different, and only one could have their owner’s scent. Pushing into their neck and breathing in a dose of it set off a systemic sedative.

He surged with pride every time Jungkook buried his nose in his skin or his clothes or his pillow.

Jungkook sat quietly for a few minutes, listening to the sound of paper turning and dividers clipping. He never realized how calming paperwork could be until his eyes began to droop.

The sugar in his system melted to Taehyung’s touch. He was pliant in his lap, hare-like symptoms worked out of him by the very presence of his compelling, authoritative owner.

When he did speak, he words slurred together.

“What are you looking for?”

“For any ties to the white tattooed men. Any notes we wrote down that could associate the two together. Any groups I might find suspicious.”

“Suspicious?”

“If we had a turf war recently, or if I killed one of their allies in the past year. Anything that might connect one of the known groups around us to the anomalies. I’ve seen it before, done to avenge the dead.”

“Are any of your friend groups in there?”

“There are no friends, Jungkook. Just people I let live.”

Jungkook thought it was commendable the amount of time he put into researching past missions and information gathered in the process. Things as simple as their name and their specialties to as complicated as every deal, out-branching, and sell they made in the months before their raid or branding of the Viper’s domination.

He saw the Opalites folder at the bottom of the stack. The first one Taehyung pulled, but he wasn’t interested in it, preoccupied with the warm body he sat on top of.

Taehyung had taken to rubbing along his back and sides. They were going on three hours of him combing through information, sometimes twice if it didn’t seem clear enough the first time around. He knew the boy must be bored, but the way he rested limp against Taehyung instead of getting antsy and asking how much longer begged his pardon.

Rubbing was a peace offering. A distraction. It didn’t stop at his back. Taehyung was getting bored himself and let interest whisk him away.

Mind on the papers, he let his body roam. He scratched up Jungkook’s neck, smiled at the little squirm that got him, and kept moving up until he found his precious, above all else ears.

Taehyung scratched the base of his right ear. He’d done it many times before, but tonight, it took a harder toll on the hybrid.

If Jungkook could, he’d thump a foot. Instead, he got whiny in Taehyung’s neck, didn’t even know what he was doing, said something like a—ah, Tae, and craned his head back to push into Taehyung’s hand with heavy-lidded eyes.

Well, fuck, if Taehyung didn’t have more to think about tonight when the fire in his head plummeted six stories down to his gut and took him that much closer to hell.

Chapter Text

This chapter contains what some may consider dubious consent due to Jungkook’s innocent nature. While he is aware of their activities, what they mean, and is 100% consenting, he is still naive.

Jungkook is NOT underage, rather unsocialized and mentally redacted after years of physical and sexual abuse. He simply needs to re-learn how to be in a healthy, intimate relationship.

Starting now and in the future: Jungkook’s sexual awakening is going to be rocky, but rest assured, Taehyung will always take consent as the number one priority.

 


 

“A—Ah, Tae.”

Taehyung didn’t know if he could stop even if he wanted to. The subtle shiver of Jungkook’s back when it curved just enough to press their chests together was addicting. 

He never dipped into the drugs on the streets, thought them to be a waste of time and money, but this one he’d blow millions on just to get a high.

He slowed his scratches down to meticulous rubbing with his fingertips, Adam’s apple rolling when he felt the haze cloud over his eyes, staring down at the hybrid who couldn’t possibly know what a delectable sight he was.

Taehyung was an impatient man, but not when it came to Jungkook. Patience was a virtue for a hybrid taking one step a time and wobbling while doing it, but just because he didn’t act didn’t mean he didn’t think.

A patient man— man. A man with a willful, spectacularly beautiful creature in his lap just bending for him. No outside knowledge or circumstance could stop the heat pumping underneath his skin, but what it could do was draw him back, tighten his chains.

Didn’t mean he couldn’t have a little restricted fun.

“Your ears are sensitive, hm?”

Jungkook’s eyelids fluttered. “Ears and tail,” he breathed, heavenly in heaven as fingernails occasionally slipped and jerked that pleasure out of him. “Feels good.”

“Your tail too?” Taehyung asked, and smiled, hoping it might cover up the weakening hold he had on himself. “Remind me of that later when you feel comfortable, baby, so I can see what that’s like.”

The little hybrid sighed, hands in loosely balled up fists on Taehyung’s chest. “Okay.”

“Sometimes I forget you’re a hybrid, if that makes any damn sense. I forget you have ears and a tail and different blood in your veins. That things feel different, inside and out… if only I could feel what you feel for a day.”

“You forget?” Jungkook asked, and the scratching slowed down. “Like I’m… like I’m human?”

“Like I don’t care what you are. You’re just Jungkook to me. Just my little one,” and before the hybrid could tear up because he could sense it coming, he said, “but that doesn’t mean I still don’t want to explore what makes you a hybrid. I’m still your owner, right?”

Jungkook nodded. “Right.”

“Then I want to know what makes you a hybrid. What reacts to my touch that wouldn’t on a human. What makes you…” Taehyung stammered, not out of nervousness, but hesitancy. How far he could go between them, he didn’t know yet. “Hybrids are submissive by blood. I want to know exactly what it takes to see that.”

Maybe he should have just shut up, maybe the hesitancy should have slapped him in the mouth. The boy blinked at him, fists tighter, bottom lip fallen. That stare felt like he was just another man who looked him up and down to pinpoint the button to put him on his knees.

But Jungkook didn’t react that way. Of course he didn’t. He was submissive by blood, Taehyung remembered, and head over fucking heels.

“I always am for you,” he murmured, lost his confidence, and shoved his twitching nose into his neck. “You just don’t see it because you don’t think of me like that.”

Taehyung flattened his hands on his back, thought over his words, couldn’t find any that would work—decided that none would until they took that jump.

“And what if I did, Jungkook?”

“I… I would let you see it.”

“Okay… good boy,” Taehyung said, because it just felt like the right time to congratulate Jungkook on not falling apart under the pressure like he admittedly was. “Sit still for me. A little bit more studying, okay?”

Sit still because it was a fucking magic trick that he didn’t get a hard on right there in the intelligence room, moaning hybrid in his lap with those pretty ears fallen over in pleasure.

“Yes, sir,” he said, and Taehyung knew that it wasn’t meant to rile him up, quite possibly a joke, but after that conversation, his magic trick almost fell through.

Put the bunny back in the fucking hat, Taehyung.

He only had a few more folders to sort through. Three were pulled to the side, four sat in their stack ready to be combed through by steadily tiring eyes. 

Astounding, Taehyung decided, was Jungkook’s patience. The boy had always said he didn’t mind what he was doing as long as it was with Taehyung, than when he wasn’t with Taehyung, a lot of wall staring happened, but the first time he’d really seen it in action was today.

Before the ear scratching revelation, Jungkook hadn’t moved a muscle. He was limp, tricking Taehyung into thinking he’d fallen asleep numerous times. After, he upheld his pliancy, only this time had found distraction in toying with Taehyung’s shirt, rubbing it between his fingers, thumbing it.

He could be whining. Taehyung was sure most hybrids would, asking their owner how much longer, talking over their progress and asking every other minute did you find anything? They were all good hearted and best intentioned, he knew that, but they were universally known as needy. 

His boy, though, fuck, his boy was just perfect. He sat calm and quiet, not a single word except for his one interest when they started this whole thing hours ago. One or two interruptions wouldn’t be a problem for Taehyung, but the boy still didn’t.

He regarded Taehyung’s work highly. It needed his focus and attention, not Jungkook. If all he did was be in his owner’s presence, breathe in the scent of his neck unsoiled with fragrance, then he was content.

Easily content and happy, the most selfless being he’d ever met, Taehyung could just squeeze him when he thought about it, looked at the time, and counted down all the minutes his hybrid just sat.

“The Opalites,” he mused, felt the hybrid stiffen up after hours of being relaxed and almost regretted it. “The last one and then I can get you back to the bedroom, sweetheart.”

“Do you think it has anything to do with them?”

“I don’t know. I can’t rule them out… they were relatively cut off from all other gang activity, but you never know.”

“And you just took them down.”

“Right. Thinking tactfully, they would be the first perpetrator considering the recent raid, but all of their information is still highly fresh in my mind. I don’t remember anything that noted them being in alliance with another group.”

“They, um, they mined gems, right?”

“Mhm. Opals, specifically, but the majority of that they had to get out of the area. Makes it damn near impossible to track who they ever came into contact with,” Taehyung thought out loud, swiping his hand across the second sheet. “That goes for the same for everyone, though. The bigger the group, the greater the reach. Some smuggle from islands, other countries. Seoul has a booming industry and there’s only so much information I can get ahold of, even with Namjoon.”

“So maybe they have nothing to do with it.”

“And maybe someone else does,” he sighed, and let his tired eyes close. “If I read one more word I think my eyes are going to bleed. I’m about ready to head back. What d’ya think, bunny?”

He leaned back, rubbed one knuckle into his eye, and smiled at the hybrid who unstuck from his front. He kept a hand on Jungkook’s lower back because that was just where it belonged, frankly.

“Your eyes hurt?” Jungkook asked with a frown. “It hurts to read?”

Then Taehyung was frowning too. “It… Jungkook, how much have you read?”

“They taught me how to read, so I know how to, but they said it was just so that I wouldn’t be a bother if something was written. I’ve never read a book, or read long enough to know it hurt.” He pet at Taehyung’s cheek before his owner could express his decided aggravation over purposefully restricting hybrids from education. “I don’t like that it hurts. What makes it better?”

Taehyung fought to get his smile back. “Looking at you instead of all those words.”

Jungkook scrunched his nose. “Tae.”

“What? I’m not even teasing you. You are what they call easy on the eyes.”

“Easy on the eyes?”

“Delightful to look at. A sight to see. I could keep going if you wanted, but it’d be easiest to just say I could stare at you all day even if my eyes were burning. Easy.”

Jungkook looked a day old right now, like he’d never been flirted with by a confident man like Taehyung. He pinched two folds of Taehyung’s shirt together, pulled all of his courage together in the swells of his cheeks, and leaned in to kiss Taehyung slow.

Then there were two hands on his lower back, spanned out to cover him like he was all his. Taehyung smiled into his lips, closed his eyes even though they didn’t hurt anymore just looking at Jungkook.

“Don’t know what to do so you just kiss me?” Jungkook hummed affirmatively. “I like that coping mechanism. Don’t get rid of it.”

“Stop… t—talking,” he whined, pout loud against Taehyung’s lips. 

Taehyung smirked then. They were crossing into his territory now, put aside the cutesy touches and puffed out cheeks and replaced it with the heat of their thighs together and how easy it was to devour Jungkook.

“Yeah, little bunny?” he teased, dark in his voice but light in his hands as he cradled his waist. “Want me to shut my mouth or open it? Because I think the fun you’re looking for is with an open one.”

The rabbit clearly wasn’t well attuned to teasing when he was falling into Taehyung’s warm breath, ears tripping backward at that sinister sound of his words—like someone who found a sweet, little bunny in the grass with a hunting rifle slung over their shoulder.

He just squeezed a noise from the back of his throat, cut his hands across Taehyung’s shirt, found too much traction under his damp hands.

Taehyung held onto that waist he would make a decree for, signed at the bottom in ink, tilted his head back in a yielding to the boy, let him lean him back. 

Never did he think he’d be the type to get off on making out with his honey in the intelligence room, a secret right under Namjoon’s nose. Waiting for someone to walk around the room fixated him—wanted to keep this Jungkook hidden, but wanted so bad to get caught with his pretty legs spread like this.

A guilty pleasure for a filthy mind like the Viper, but a simple enjoyment for the bunny.

All of this was okay. Hot and heavy lip smacking was new for him, their bodies actually moving, bare thighs scratching across denim, waist bent every time he pushed up to meet Taehyung halfway—or all the way there if he got ahead of himself—but it was okay. The waist grabbing, the loss of breath. 

Until Taehyung’s hands lingered too high on his ribs, and they slid further up, and Jungkook’s shirt hiked up, and then it wasn’t okay. Air washed over his skin, then hands, and he felt covered in the worst way.

His hands scrambled on Taehyung’s chest, one balled up his shirt and the other put distance between them, torn on which way he wanted Taehyung to go.

“H—Hands. Hands.”

Jungkook didn’t grab them. Wouldn’t dare. They weren't his to command. In his mind, Taehyung could do with them as he pleased—could do with Jungkook as he pleased. He just hoped and prayed that his words would actually make a difference. In the past, they’d always fallen flat because no was a killjoy.

They did, but so did his broken ears and his clenched shut eyes, hands squeezing down on his shirt like he’d just wait and see if his frantic words would mean anything. Like he wouldn’t put up a fight if they didn’t.

Taehyung’s hands jumped off like his ribs had turned on him, threatened to cage his hands up. They hovered, useless, no longer sure where they could land.

Just like that, the hot air dissipated. It rose, left them dizzy in its wake.

He’d waited for this. Knew Jungkook had a point, just had to reach it. Now it was his turn to make a point out of it.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he soothed. “Jungkook, it’s okay. I hear you. They’re off.” He tried again, because the bunny’s eyes were frozen shut like his shaking had to do with the cold. “I didn’t mean to. I’m not going to touch you again. Open your eyes.”

Jungkook shook his head a little. “I’m sorry,” he said, as if the room wasn’t already filled with those.

“That’s me. Not you. You’re okay. You did good. You did so good telling me to stop,” he just almost cooed, itching to smooth back those fallen ears, but any touch could send him back into that frame of mind. “I should’ve asked first. I will next time.”

“Good?” he asked, and unpinched an eye, wrists wavering against Taehyung’s chest.

“Better than good. You have to let me know if you don’t want something, and you told me so fast. That’s exactly what I want from you.”

Both eyes opened up, and you could go ahead and count Taehyung drowned because they were watery. His shivers cooled down, and all he was left to do was throw those bunny eyes at Taehyung like he didn’t already feel bad enough.

“I know you weren’t trying to touch me. It just scared me. Didn’t like how it felt.”

“I’m sorry I scared you.”

“No! You… you—”

“I scared you. It’s okay to say it. As long as you keep me in check and tell me what is and isn’t okay. I’m not going to get mad, baby. I want you comfortable.”

“I want to be too,” he murmured, and instead of cuddling up to Taehyung’s chest like normal, he sat up. Shirt still hiked up, Taehyung reached behind him to tug it down.

“I think we need to talk about this.”

“About what?”

“Talk about what you’re ready for,” Taehyung said. “And not just in passing. I think you’d feel better if we communicated that clearly so you aren’t sitting there worrying your tail away that I’m expecting a certain thing from you.”

“Here?” he asked, ears not too happy with that idea.

“No… we’ll go back to the bedroom. This isn’t something to talk about in the open.”

Jungkook still had trouble understanding what was appropriate in public. Making out apparently was. He didn’t understand what a rush was, or how a risk could make one that much quicker. To him, it was just yet another thing men did to coax the fire. 

He didn’t have the experience to understand that Taehyung would have stopped them if someone walked in, or that they would never have even started if anyone was around. So why can’t they talk about their boundaries here, too?

Jungkook trudged through his confusion back to the bedroom. Already upset with himself for abruptly ruining something that Taehyung was enjoying, he could just give up tonight and not even feel guilty.

The sheets were cold when they crawled in.

Intimacy was left unsaid after their first kiss and crashing realization that feelings were evident, but after Taehyung caught himself lingering on the shape of Jungkook’s body and praying that his waist really was that small, it couldn’t stay unheard.

Not when for just a second, when Jungkook lifted off of his lap, he imagined him coming down harder. This had to be taken care of now.

“Has anyone ever had a talk like this with you before, Jungkook? I doubt it, knowing the bottom feeders that owned you before.”

“About what I’m ready for? Uh… no. Not before. They just did things and I did them too because they wanted to.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung said with a troubled sigh. “That’s why we’re having this talk. That isn’t how this is going to go with me, alright? Because if it does and I find out later that I crossed a boundary and you didn’t tell me, I’m going to lose my last thread of sanity.”

Jungkook’s ears were weary. “Okay.”

“It isn’t going to be easy for you, not when everyone’s made your choices for you before. So, let me make it easy. I want you to tell me at any time when you aren’t comfortable.”

“Like in the smart room?”

“Like in the smart room. I got too handsy and I got away from myself. Like the good boy you are, you told me you didn’t like it,” he said. “You can say it any way you need to. I’m a man of few words, bunny, and I can read a situation without any. You said hands. That was more than enough for me to catch on. I don’t care how you tell me, just get it across that I need to stop.”

“Just get your attention…”

“I’ll know by the tone of your voice. Simple as that.”

“Okay.”

“You feel unsure, like maybe it isn’t something you should be doing yet. You feel icky, embarrassed, panicked, scared. You get that weird, fast feeling in your chest. Angry. Any of it. Stop me.”

“Even… even if you don’t feel bad?”

“Even more so. If I’m having fun and you’re not, cut me right there. I shouldn’t be.”

Jungkook nodded politely, ears twitching to the side in thought, archiving all of the information that contradicted everything he’d ever been taught before.

“But that goes for things you like, too. Tell me. God, Jungkook, tell me. I’d love to hear it from your mouth that I’m doing something good, so I can do it more.”

Cheeks rosy, Jungkook said, “Just tell you… out of nowhere?”

“It isn’t out of nowhere. Everyone does it. Communication isn’t just important to establish safety, but it also helps me put together what you like so I can make it all the better for you.”

“And you’ll tell me too? If you don’t like something, or you do?” he asked, inching his fingers along his own knee to distract himself.

“I’ll like anything you do, bunny,” Taehyung assured him with a short scoff. “No boundaries on my end. I’m all up for grabs.”

“So everything’s okay?”

“Everything.”

“Got it.”

“Good. Now, I’m going to ask you some things and you’re going to tell me if you’d feel okay doing those. Be honest with me, remember?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Kissing,” Taehyung started.

“Kissing’s good.”

“All kinds of kissing? Like a little excited like we got back in there?”

Really good.” The way he said it just felt lewd.

“What about kissing other places? Your neck?” Taehyung said.

“That’s okay.”

“Your chest?”

“Okay too.”

“Let’s go a little further. What about hickies? Sucking on your skin.”

“Um… I don’t know yet. I think so? I’ve never gotten one from you. I think it’d be nice, though.”

“We’ll go slow on that one then,” Taehyung said, still trying to come to terms with the Viper having a base by base talk with a hybrid who would easily do all of it even if it made his stomach churn. “Biting?”

Jungkook’s face became apprehensive. “B…Biting? My skin? That hurts, doesn’t it?” He didn’t think Taehyung would ever even think of drawing blood from him.

“Maybe the way they did it, yeah, but not with me. It’s like nipping. Just the tip of my teeth, usually in the middle of a hickey.”

“It wouldn’t hurt?” He tangled his hands together. “Maybe. Can we… can we try it one day before I say yes or no? All it’s ever done is hurt.”

“Of course. Most things you won’t really know until we try them, and that’s okay. It went okay today, right?”

Jungkook wasn’t so sure about that. They played it by ear and now he was having a discussion when he always figured he’d just lay back and let Taehyung do whatever because that was what good boys did, right?

“Right.”

“Touching you. Things I can touch. I know you’re okay with your waist and your arms. What do you know you like?”

“I, um… I really like when you touch my waist, Tae,” he confirmed just because.

“Okay,” Taehyung humored with a chuckle. “I like when I do too.”

“My legs are nice.”

“All the way up to your thighs?”

“Oh, uh, maybe not? Normally I think it’s okay, but if we’re…” He didn’t know how to put it into words. Sex wasn’t intimate to him. It was a function. Deciding when touching was sexual and when it wasn’t was fucking calculus to him. “If you’re touching me, I don’t think so yet.”

“Is that something we need to try first before you know?”

“Y—Yeah. Please.”

“Okay. I think we learned you don’t like above your waist being touched. Was it the actual touch that upset you? What was the overwhelming point? Let me in your head, sweetheart.”

“I don’t know. It was all okay, until your hands went over my ribs and it felt like… you were squeezing them?”

“But I wasn’t, so does that mean your chest got really tight? It was hard to breathe?”

“Y—Yes?” If his mouth could work, that’d be great. “I don’t know how to say it, but your hands felt really big all of a sudden and really heavy, and then my shirt lifted… I just didn’t like any of it.”

“Does that mean taking your shirt off is off limits?”

“Uh-huh,” Jungkook said quickly. “I don’t like being naked anymore, Tae. They took my shirt away when I was bad and I don’t want to feel like that again.”

“They took your one fucking last piece of decency as a disciplinary tool?” he asked, and it came out rougher than he meant it to in a quiet conversation like this.

“They wouldn’t always give it back right away… I didn’t know when I’d get it back.”

“Then I won’t take your shirt off,” Taehyung reassured him with a sigh, and smoothed over his ears, just once, just to wipe away the shame residing in his head. As little touching as possible to keep from physically persuading him. “The next one I already know, but I need to hear you say it.”

“What is it?”

“Touching between your legs.”

The reaction was immediate. Just the thought of it crawled under his skin, pulled his legs together, flattened his ears deep in his hair. Eyes winced and down on the sheets, he shook his head vehemently.

“No. Not there. Not okay.”

“Okay. Okay, baby,” Taehyung hushed, and clasped his hands over Jungkook’s, couldn’t look over their nervous breakdown anymore. “That’s perfectly fine. We won’t do that. Hands above your hips. No touching anywhere you don’t like, remember? No matter what.”

“Last time you said that, you told me some things had special circumstances,” he said shyly, knowing he was sticking his throat out on this one.

“Oh, Jungkook, this is different. Your body doesn’t have circumstances. Unless your dying and I have to rip your shirt apart to give you compressions or put pressure to a wound, I’m not touching anything I’m not allowed to.”

Jungkook’s body uncased itself, shoulders wider.

“Even if you want to?”

“Just because I want you does not mean I’m permitted you. You need to be retaught countless things, but this is most important—your body is yours now. Not mine. Not anyone’s.”

“If it’s mine… I don’t want anyone to touch me. Not just you, but anyone. I still feel like hands on me hurt and they’re going to go somewhere I don’t want,” he said, stepping slowly and carefully through his choice of words. “I love you, and I want to be with you, but not yet. I don’t know when.”

“You don’t have to know when,” Taehyung promised him with a hand in his hair. “You just have to know then. I’m a patient man, Jungkook. I’m more than happy to watch something grow from the ground. The only thing I care about is that you know when you know.”

There was no point in asking about sex. Clearly, it wasn’t on their list of sanctions. Biting and shirtless wasn’t even greenlighted yet.

“I need you to listen to me very closely.” The boy blinked wide at him, disciplined. “If you do not tell me and I find out that I did anything you didn’t like, I will put all of this to a stop until I can trust you again. Am I understood?”

A big voice for a giant topic, Jungkook realized. He hated when Taehyung got low with him, dropping fathoms in sincerity. He was so used to that divine baby voice that when it switched up on him, his instincts just sent him for a loop—sit up, ears refined, behave.

“Yes, Tae. I understand.”

“Say it back to me. Now.”

Jungkook could roll over. Voice bare and coming straight from the belly of authority itself, it pulled every one of his strings, jerked him to an upright, down-eared, obedient posture.

“If I don’t tell you I don’t like something, you’ll stop playing with me until you can trust me again.”

A hand from hell choked Taehyung, but he was accustomed to the burning of the underworld. He held through the thick of it, swore he could smell his own burning flesh when he doubted how he’d fought hell’s grasp for this long—that hybrid was so damn sweet to the mind.

And then they were decided. Nothing sexual until Jungkook commenced it, asked for it, pushed it, and absolutely knew. When he was ready, they’d know. For the time being, Taehyung was well acquainted with his own hand and it satisfied him just fine.


 May 19th

It took teaching, patience, and a book full of dead ends, accidents, and lessons learned.

Like touching above so many things. Above his sides and above his lower thigh. It didn’t matter the heat transference between their mouths, or the downright nonsensical sweet nothings he was putting into Jungkook’s ear—touching him there broke him down.

Let’s get this straight, Taehyung was quite possibly more terrified about this than Jungkook was. He had a situation on his hands that had strings tangled up in lines and balls linking consent with control. He could very well fuck all of this up, and knowing that that was what he did best, the likleyhood of dwindling down to his second nature was unbelievably high.

But he’d managed to do amazingly, somehow controlled his own hands when they were down to just explore. His fingertips were weighted, pulled him astray, but the consequences were even heavier.

It helped having outside interferences. His raging hormones—not this deranged since his teenage years—often lost the mood when reminded of their reality.

The first couple nights after Taehyung snapped, Jungkook had to be coaxed into approaching the bathtub, so much so that Taehyung feared the worst—he’d have to stay with him throughout it, something that would no doubt be a traumatic experience for the boy.

“What if you come back in a—and—”

“I’m not going to come back in and yell at you, Jungkook. It’s not going to happen again. You just have to trust me on this.”

“B—But if you stay, you can’t come back in mad,” he said, like he didn’t hear a single word through his crowded mind.

“I can’t stay in here, baby,” Taehyung said, looking hopelessness right in it’s stubborn eyes.

Night three and he went in without a fuss. Taehyung was so damn proud he kissed his hair dry. Overlooking his fears sometimes took weeks, but other times it took days, and those were the greatest moments for them—triumphing the miserable anxieties that put him to a stop.

Their talk about green and yellow and red lights left much to be explored. Four days was all it took for them to push the limits, for Taehyung to tip-toe along the line until he fell on either one side.

“You looked so cute playing with Jimin today,” Taehyung said into his neck.

He’d ended up on top of Jungkook, resting against him, the boy’s chest still airy from giggling because Taehyung just had to fall on him. Again, he was cute today, and the man just couldn’t help himself.

“I did?” Jungkook asked, carding a hand through Taehyung’s hair, fawning over the weight of his head on his chest. 

“Mhm. Wanted you all to myself, but what’s new?” he asked, and kissed, just a small one, in the junction of his neck. “And you weren’t even wearing a sweater today. Didn’t like so much of you showing today.”

“I’m all yours now,” he mused, and rolled his head to the side to open his skin up.

“And so is that pretty skin of yours.”

Taehyung dropped another kiss, swallowed Jungkook’s sigh whole, felt the product of unsatiated authority vibrate in his chest. He loved the sounds of a satisfied hybrid. Loved knowing he left them there.

“I still love your sweaters, maybe they’re okay out there so no one else sees you… but in here, maybe you’ll give me special permission to see more.”

“I didn’t know my arms were special…” He had been in a t-shirt with the Opalites, after all. They certainly didn’t spare his arms a glance when his thighs were out for all to see.

“Every last inch of you is, Jungkook.”

Taehyung moved lower on his neck, until he reached his collarbones, and kissed along the line of them, a little deeper at the dip, listened for the boy’s loss of breath. Jungkook tilted his head graciously, silently okaying for his lips to hunker down on his skin.

Hickeys were a go. They learned that two nights ago when Taehyung got too entranced in the back of his shoulders, where he let the boy sit between his legs while a random-selected movie played. Jungkook had just gasped and twisted for a moment, before the sensation settled and he could think through it—thought that he liked it.

A little red mark sat pompously there.

“I don’t want to share any of it. Just want to leave my mark all over you, so everyone knows who it is that owns you. Don’t think anyone would even look at you if the Viper’s mark covered you.”

“Y—You can,” Jungkook said softly, eyes closed and body losing all muscle control.

“I can? So you don’t mind if I leave one here,” he kissed in the concave at the bottom of his throat, “and here,” then the skin just under his shirt’s collar.

“Taehyung, p—please, you can. Lower too.”

“Lower?” Taehyung asked against his skin, still peeling his collar back to leave his traces where no other Violet had ever gone. “That’s under your shirt, baby.”

“I know. That’s okay,” he said, starting to squirm. “I know I’m not being bad.”

“No. God, no. You couldn’t do a damn thing wrong tonight. If I take your shirt off, it’s because I need more to worship, sweetheart, not because I’m taking something from you.”

“You just can’t forget my bones, Tae,” Jungkook forced out through his huffy mouth, body moving against the sheets like it could lift away the thin layer of sweat building up. “You haven’t seen me in so long…”

He often changed in the bathroom. Not to avoid Taehyung’s eyes, but because being naked for longer than just a few minutes felt like slavery again rather than covered up in clothes the humans made.

“Your body has no defects,” Taehyung said against his chest, lowering down his body with lips dragging against his shirt, hands weightless on his waist. “You are impeccable, Jungkook. Not an imperfection.”

“But—”

“I’ll fatten you up with time. Reversing what they did has been the hardest job I’ve ever taken, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like what I see in the meantime.” His lips ghosted over a covered abdomen and the skin there shivered. “You and your sharp edges are just as lovable as your plumper thighs.”

Jungkook liked the word plump when it was used on him. It never had been. His first owner liked things thin, and his second starved him of the chance. Taehyung kneaded into the thicker part of his hips and the way his skin actually lifted around his fingers.

Taehyung slipped his hands under his shirt, spoke softly into his stomach, “This okay?”

“Yeah,” he breathed, and watched his own shirt raise past his hips, until skin peeked out, fair compared to Taehyung’s sunkissed honey.

He kept rising, keep smoothing his hands over skin he forgot was this soft. Jungkook’s shirt rode up his wrists, until pink and pointy ribs caged through his skin, beautiful in the dusk light of the afternoon. The lowering sun carved him inhumanely.

Jungkook let his head rest back on the pillow and reached down for Taehyung’s arms. Not to stop him, not to slow things down, but to feel him, spreading his fingers over his forearms.

His shirt bundled up against the top of his chest, Jungkook regulated his breathing and his thoughts, couldn’t let either of them go running off. Breath uneasy, everything quivered. Thinking had to stop or he’d fall back into the warehouse basement, when they ripped his flimsy shirt off of him, tore at his wrists and slung his shoulders in his chains.

“Tell me what you’re feeling.”

“Hot,” he choked. “Not bad. Feels like you’re touching everywhere but I know you aren’t.”

“Sensitive,” Taehyung thought out loud. “What’re you going to do with yourself when I kiss your pretty, little chest… can I take your shirt off over your arms, baby?”

Jungkook nodded eagerly, lifted his arms, needed assistance in it. His body had handed itself over to Taehyung, muscles liquid and bones pulling down to the mattress.

Taehyung eased up on him, kissed his chest bone, so slow it burned his skin. Skin warm and flustered, Taehyung grinned artfully against it.

“What are my rules, babydoll. What can’t I touch tonight since you’re being so brave.”

“B—Below my hips.”

He’d trespassed on his ribs once. Now, shirt tossed to the side and chest rising nervously, ribs suddenly weren’t such a big deal. The seal slapped onto Jungkook’s upper body peeled off, and the opportunity to explore blinded him.

Taehyung acted like he hadn’t had human contact in years. He smothered Jungkook’s ribs in his hands, felt them span out all the way around him, wondered how he hadn’t crushed him yet.

Raspberry red marked across Jungkook’s chest, the boy lifting his knees to bump against Taehyung, fisting the pillow in his needy hands, he almost regretted asking for this, had no idea how to deal with it.

Taehyung wasn’t too far off. The world before now let him snatch the helpless in his hands and manipulate, but here, he had to retreat from the hunger that enveloped him.

“Tell me how you have me praying again. Gods are greedy and malicious things, but fuck, I keep asking them to give you to me.”

It wasn’t pleasurable persay, nothing elicit enough to reach the depths of either of their stomachs—scratch Taehyung out of that statement. Their cheeks matched his skin, and Jungkook’s pink, wet tongue made a few noises that almost ran Taehyung off before he tasted too much to walk away, but it wasn’t all just that.

It was watching Jungkook fall into himself, even if his skin was one with the air under the skylight, below the sky’s eye. It was seeing the hybrid slip back into place.


 May 20th

“Could’ve at least tried to be more conspicuous.”

“Conspicuous, me? Regarding what?”

Jimin cocked an eyebrow. “Regarding the snakebites you left all over him. His sweaters are oversized, dumbfuck, every touch of venom you put in his chest has been saying hello to every fucking person when he bends down.”

Jungkook took a book from Namjoon, the same one he’d asked about a few days and Namjoon promised to go searching for in his old boxes of adolescent reads.

“I’ve never done things quietly, Jimin. That’s kind of why you’re here.”

“And when—” Jimin shoved him, “—were you going to tell me you’re at that point with him?”

“After I dropped him off with Namjoon, but you had to be impatient. I may be loud, but atleast I’m not bratty.”

“Oh, the stunt you’re pulling to stake your claim is about as bratty as it gets. We get it. He’s yours. Don’t fucking maim him for it.”


 May 28th

It had been such a good day for them. Taehyung wasn’t pulled away too much, and when he was away, Jungkook found entertainment in watching Namjoon piece together some new equipment they recently invested in. The boy’s eyes glew like all of the flashing lights and Taehyung’s heart swelled when he poked his head in. No further signs of the anomalies or any other interferences.

And when they had good days, spirits were high and confidence was exceptional for a hybrid who was still trying to feel out this new world of freedom and possibilities.

Coming back to the room on a good day meant no lectures or talking sessions. No feeling through something that happened, or smoothing down raised fur. It meant they could just come together as owners and lovers and just be.

Taehyung took his showers in the morning, and Jungkook cut his bath short tonight. His pale skin sheened squeaky clean when he crawled into bed with his scrunched up socks and his long shirt, in his boxers alone and bunny tail hiking up his shirt.

“Good bath?” Taehyung asked, setting his phone down and smiling, glasses low on his nose. His round glasses always made Jungkook smile.

“Mhm. I picked lavender tonight.”

“I can tell,” he said, and dropped his phone on the bedside table. “You smell nice.”

You smell nice, he said, and when he did, he spread his hand out over Jungkook’s thigh. Innocent enough, for them at least, because touching didn’t exist between them. Not intimately. At the moment, they had a clear boundary.

So the hand on Jungkook’s thigh, it was a caring caress. Not a beginning to the end, the start of a journey. It wasn’t going to head North, rather, it would rub into his skin until tingles flourished there.

They got handsy many nights, mostly because hybrids naturally craved physical attention and Jungkook just couldn’t help the chills he got when a large hand covered his skin like space around a planet, but tonight, it hit him in an entirely different way.

The chills rippled up his back as usual, but then a tingle trumped up his thigh and to places he’d never even thought of since someone stuck a piece of straw in him. Heat touched his stomach—not so much that the yearning was overwhelming, but enough to make his legs squirm.

Taehyung’s hand sat comfortable on his lower thigh as he removed his glasses and cracked his neck to the side—oblivious to the coral that shaded the boy’s cheek—and clacked them on the bedside table.

Jungkook touched at his hand, and trailed up his arm, faintly feeling out the definition of muscle there. Taehyung blinked in minor shock and turned back to him.

“Jungkook?”

The hybrid didn’t have time to explain himself. The hand on his thigh was heavenly and the bare look on Taehyung’s face dragged him in. 

The cravings were coming down hard, not sure of what they meant or what he was supposed to do about them, Jungkook leaned in and fit their lips together. Soft and sweet, leaning forward on his knees, sparks flying when that hand spread out even further, nearly encapsulating the whole of his thigh.

Taehyung grunted quietly into the kiss, unexpected and out of the blue, but he caught on quick. It was hard to surprise the Viper and elicit a reaction, but his hybrid did it so well.

He met every small movement with a loving caress to Jungkook’s thigh, brushing his thumb on the inside like he was judging a flower petal’s softness. 

“Someone wanting some extra attention tonight?” Taehyung whispered against his lips.

Jungkook nodded and hummed eagerly, ears folded back on his head because this part still wasn’t so easy—letting someone in, kissing, opening the window to fiends. 

But then it wasn’t enough, and he didn’t know what enough was. Enough had always been so easy to achieve. Just being next to Taehyung was always enough, but here, leaning into him and tasting the inside of his lips, he knew that whatever enough was, was one step further than he’d ever taken.

So he took it. Because it felt right, and Taehyung always told him to listen if it felt right.

Jungkook used the thickness of Taehyung’s shoulder to help swing himself over Taehyung’s lap, who very swiftly grabbed at his hips, remembering all the times the boy’s lack of nutrients made him unbalanced. 

Jungkook straddled his lap like it might break, legs fluttering from nearly holding himself up, cupping the other’s shoulders for stability.

“Relax, baby,” Taehyung murmured. “Sit. You’re okay. I can take you.”

It wasn’t just his weight. They both knew that. This was a compromising position that put him at stake. Hips pressed together, ass where Taehyung’s given manhood sat, as intimate as they’d ever been, he was breaking down the boundaries he’d uplifted left and right. It was different in the intelligence room—public, in a chair, not in the privacy of their room on their silk sheets.

It wasn’t easy for someone like him to place themselves on the lap of a well endowed man and sink their bodies together, in the same position that many normal couples took late at night in the throes of darker acts.

But Taehyung had yet to pressure him, even ask. No hands slithered down his stomach without prompt, or any bulges sneakily pressed against him. Just patient love and company. 

And when his DNA was running rampant, he almost couldn’t give a fuck. All the makeout sessions, the hickeys Taehyung left on his skin, hands mapping out the bones under his skin, none of it got him hot like right now.

It dawned on him, and not like the sun did, gradual and calming.

This wasn’t a coincidence.

A hybrid’s sexual awakening didn’t come so harshly. It was more of a fade than a skip. It took his body sensing an environmental settlement before it could even consider heading towards a sexual awakening. He was adapting, developing, transitioning. His instincts no longer deemed his surroundings a danger.

There was a grace period, and he just entered it. 

With this newfound knowledge, he wasn’t so fearful of this new, crazed need to be closer to Taehyung, to let him deeper into his mouth. It felt right. It had a reason.

He took a deep, calming breath and reminded himself that this was all okay. This was all natural. He was supposed to want to sit on his partner’s lap and feel the thickness of his thighs and take in his breath. Makeout sessions were normal.

So, he sat. He let their bodies press together, hips to hips and chests within breathing range. He didn’t really know what to do with his hands, but Taehyung’s shoulders felt nice, so he held onto those.

He was shy. There was no doubt about that, and while Taehyung was taken aback by this random surge of bravery, he wasn’t mistaken. This was a surge. It came and went, and he needed to be there at equal energy, or he wouldn’t catch the hybrid when he fell back down.

“What is it, pretty?” Taehyung teased sweetly, tenderly rubbing into his waist. “You missed me that much?”

Jungkook whined quietly into his mouth, wishing Taehyung would just focus on wrapping their tongues around each other and notice the little bit of saliva that slipped down the corner of his mouth.

“Like when you call me pretty.”

“I know you do, pretty,” he said, low. “Cause you know it’s true. I’ve got the prettiest bunny there is.”

Jungkook had never kissed someone this hard before. Never had someone lick the roof of his mouth, or tangle their tongues until they couldn’t pull apart. It was hot. It was hot and wet and made that strange feeling in his stomach quicken and buzz and scorch his skin.

Jungkook had never felt this before. That part of his instincts was nullified even with his original owner, because it wasn’t exactly a perfect situation. He still didn’t feel the urge to start something. With Taehyung, in their bed and warm under the yellow of their lamp, he burned under the new sensation.

“Is this something new, Jungkook?” Taehyung panted against the corner of his mouth. “Just want to make sure you aren’t spiraling. You’ve never… wanted this much.”

“I don’t know what it is, but it’s new. I think it’s my instincts, Tae. I think they’re waking up.”

“Your instincts… oh,” he said with wide eyes. “Your sexual awakening. Are you… is it here, bunny?” He assumed the boy was taught his own biology in his upbringing.

“I—I think so, but not—not like that,” he stammered. “Like I just want to kiss you a lot. And let you touch me, my skin, just anywhere, really… I don’t know.”

Taehyung’s face melted and Jungkook didn’t know why. He just knew that he liked putting such a sickly sweet look on his owner’s face. 

“Oh, baby, that just means your body has decided you’re finally safe,” Taehyung whispered. “It’s all natural. This is supposed to happen. That doesn’t mean we have to do anything about it, but I can tell you, I’m more than happy to just touch you if that’s what you need.”

“Like… like my arms, my legs… and my back, too. It feels so nice.”

“I bet it does,” he said, and as a man of his word, he was already rubbing up and down Jungkook’s sides. “A pretty boy like you deserves to feel all the nice things. Touching your body makes me so happy, baby. I’m such a lucky man—”

He couldn’t finish, because Jungkook plunged back into his mouth, wrapping his arms tight around his neck and suffocating the both of them.

“Tell me,” Taehyung breathed. “Tell me if it’s too much,” and moved a hand down Jungkook’s hip, followed the curve of his body until he felt the smooth skin of his thigh.

Jungkook’s ears were twitching and his tail was too. Then he pulled back, cheeks red to the bone and eyes glazed. Taehyung took the chance to kiss down his jaw, and along his neck, until the hybrid whined loud in his throat. It wasn’t in pleasure or overstimulation, but abashment.

That whine belonged to a child who didn’t understand what to do with a square block and a circle hole.

Taehyung drew back like lightning. “Too much? Are you doing okay?”

“N—No—I’m—Something’s happening.”

Taehyung’s face screwed up in confusion. The hybrid’s body was stiff, all except for his legs. They fidgeted, and Jungkook grasped onto Taehyung’s shirt weakly for a lifeline.

“What’s happening? Where is it, honey? What do you mean?”

“M—My…” he stuttered, and Taehyung couldn’t tell if he was just being shy, or if he was embarrassed. Upon closer examination, it was equally both. “Between my legs. It hurts but it…”

Taehyung blinked down. Oh. In his boxers sat a little tent. His spread legs framed it perfectly. In the time that they’d known each other, this was the first time Taehyung had seen anything remotely close to the definition of his cock and he hadn’t realized until now. During the health examination, he’d kept his eyes on Jungkook’s.

He took a careful breath. This was blurry territory. This was originally no-trespassing zones, but now, with his new instincts awakened, the bold lines were smudged and needed to be re-invented. 

He had to be careful with this. He had to observe the boy like he was investigating him. Yes and no wasn’t always a sure fire way to consider the hybrid’s willingness, and half the time it took reading his body language and his eyes to actually get a true answer and call him out on his tendency to not hold his ground.

In dangerous waters, Taehyung flipped the switch. He had to take back control.

“You’re hard, Jungkook,” he said softly. “Have you never been hard before?”

“I don’t think so. M—Maybe, but I can’t remember.”

What the Opalites did to him, it would never welcome an erection. And in their care, his surroundings were so horrid that his body would never even let him rush with blood when dirt and bodily waste sat near him.

“It’s okay. It’s completely normal. It means that what we’re doing feels good, and you’re comfortable with me and your body. Does it feel good right now?”

“I can’t tell.” He winced. “A little, but it burns.”

“Because you’re sensitive and not paying it any attention.” Taehyung massaged into his leg. “When you get hard, you get rid of it by making it feel better."

“How do I make it feel better?” he croaked, knees starting to whirl in discomfort.

It made Taehyung's heart heavy to see him struggle with something so natural and normal, something that was snatched from him by unsafe exposure and uncomfortable conditions. He should’ve experienced this when he was younger, more reckless, more likely to just grab himself and explore his body.

Now, he was damaged, traumatized, and in the middle of a makeout session with his new partner. It wasn’t the best timing and clearly set a new shade of embarrassment over his face.

Worst of all, Taehyung had read up plenty on how a hybrid’s body worked differently from a human’s. The number one topic—and selling point, for that matter—was overly heightened senses.

Every nerve ending in his body was working tenfold compared to Taehyung’s at any given time. It was always safe to assume that whatever sensation Jungkook was experiencing was borderline too much for him to handle. 

Blood rushing between his legs wasn’t as simple for him as it would be for Taehyung, especially in the wake of his triggered sexual awakening.

“You touch it,” Taehyung said, “or someone else touches it.”

Like he hadn't seen the Opalites doing it over his body. He hadn't, truthfully, was too covered in tears.

“I don’t… I don’t want you to touch me, though. I’m not ready yet,” he said with a small hint of fear in his eyes. “D—Does that mean it won’t ever go away?”

No. It’ll go away on its own eventually but you don’t want to do that. It’s going to hurt you if you leave it.” Taehyung swirled around his hip, really having to dig deep to find calming words for something he’d already found out in middle school. “I know you don’t want me to touch you—I don’t have to. But listen to me, okay?”

“Okay.”

“I’m going to show you something. If it makes you uncomfortable, you tell me immediately. No waiting, no hesitating. Tell me the second you don’t want it,” Taehyung instructed slow and clear. “Tell me.”

“Y—Yes, Tae. I’ll tell you.”

He didn’t forget Taehyung’s ultimatum. He wanted to play too bad to forget.

“Good. Give me your right hand.”

Breath shuttering and body overheated, Jungkook handed it over, fingers trembling and the others still bunched up in Taehyung’s shirt. 

Taehyung lead his hand for in between his legs, and while the human watched his reaction carefully, the hybrid’s heart leapt.

“W—Wait, don’t want you to d—do it, Tae.

Hush, baby. I’m not going to,” Taehyung reassured him quietly, reaching up to smooth at his cheek. “You trust me, don’t you?”

“Y—Yes.”

“You told me not to touch you. That means I won’t touch you. I will not.”

The conviction in his eyes calmed Jungkook down and his standing tall ears finally weakened. He knew he needed to trust Taehyung, but this was all so new to him.

“Right here. Put your hand right here,” and let Jungkook’s hand rest on the swell of his boxers.

Jungkook hissed, breathed in harsh and bucked his hips randomly. What came out sounded like a cry, but Taehyung knew better. The boy made high pitched noises when he was in vulnerable states.

“Does that feel good?”

Jungkook nodded. “M—Mhm.”

“Move your hand, or your hips, or both of them. It’s called touching yourself. You’re allowed to do it anytime when you’re alone. It takes the pain away.”

“This isn’t bad?”

“Not at all.”

“Do you… do you do it?”

Taehyung smoothed down his leg, letting his head rest back on the headboard and his hair part over his forehead.

“Yeah, baby. I do. When you aren’t around.”

Those words spiked it all back up. The hot throbbing. The pleasure coursing through him. Just thinking about Taehyung in the shower touching himself had his chest sprouting roses.

He moved his hips, just a little, just for a feel, and his eyes dropped shut, mouth falling open. God, it did feel good. He’d never felt this before. He was used for sex, and touching him usually had nothing to do with that. After the ill treatment he suffered to his penis, correlating anything pleasurable to it didn’t seem right to him.

Damn, was he wrong. He wasn’t an impulsive being, most hybrids weren’t unless given an order, but all he could do was chase that amazing feeling.

He palmed at himself, short of sure because a part of him felt like this wasn’t something he should be doing in front of Taehyung. 

It was strange. Being sexually active with Taehyung was something he shied away from terribly, but this he found himself willing to give a try. The line between the two was so thin that he could imagine Taehyung’s hand pressing into him instead of his own.

But while a hint of embarrassment did accompany the act, and a landfill of insecurities, he followed what he could only hope was a good guidance between both his instincts and his boyfriend.

The heel of his hand kneaded into his cock, and his chest seized, breath coming to a short gasp when he pushed just the right way.

Taehyung tried his best to hide his stare but he really couldn’t help himself. Part of this was a learning experience for Jungkook, but Taehyung had graduated a long time ago, and this was more of a kink than anything.

To watch his lovely, little hybrid touch himself, cock hard under his hand and one eye pinched on top of a blush, straddling his owner’s hips with his circling hand mere inches away from Taehyung’s lap.

Taehyung was going through it, all right. It took an extraordinary amount of sheer will-power and spacing out to keep his own cock from hardening. Even then, nature was cruel, and he could feel it tugging.

His hybrid was so fucking beautiful. 

“H—How do I know I’m doing it right?”

“Whatever feels good, sweetness. You can’t go wrong. Everyone feels best in different ways,” Taehyung said, scratching down to his knee. “Just feel for it. Feel yourself. Take your time.” Back up to his hip. “You can go in, too. You’re allowed to. You can put your hand around yourself and move up and down.”

“But that’s… it feels wrong.”

“It isn’t,” he rushed out, scared that any of this may just deepen Jungkook's sexual trauma. The last thing they needed was the boy getting different ideas. “Everyone does it. You have to feel good, baby. Your body’s telling you to.”

Because he could live with Jungkook never finding the courage to be intimate with him, but with himself was just a fundamental need.

“O… Okay.”

Jungkook lifted his shirt to get to his boxers, and dipped his fingers underneath his waistband, but as they slid under, they fumbled and shook like a leaf.

Taehyung steadied his wrist, rubbing into it.

“You’re okay. Don’t be nervous, my sweet boy. I’m right here. Everything’s okay if I’m here, right?”

“I know… I haven’t d—done anything like this since I left the mean men.”

“Because it’s all about you, baby. It’s time to make yourself feel good. When I kiss you and touch you, you’re supposed to feel good and you’re supposed to get hard. You’re supposed to touch yourself. This is okay.”

Jungkook nodded shakily and took a clearing breath, before wiggling his hand further down his boxers until it met the core of his problem. The skin to skin touch rattled him. His breath hitched, like a moan and cry mixed together, and subtly spread his legs further apart, curling his feet around Taehyung’s legs.

“Wrap around yourself. The tip feels the best, but go slow. Take your time. We’re in no rush.”

Jungkook nodded again like the perfect listener he was and did just as he was told—like always—and tentatively curled his fingers around himself. The first thing he expected was fear. Touching this part of himself had never resulted in anything less, but he actually, for the first time, found something gratifying to it.

He damn near keened, head tilting back in a purr as his hips lifted off of Taehyung’s, energy flowing through his body. He was so fucking hot. This was what a sexual awakening was like, huh? Body on fire and head full of wanting to roll over and just feel good .

“God, you’re so pretty,” Taehyung said, astounded in all of his glory. How someone could just sell this hybrid, use and throw him to the side—it made no sense.

“I—I—” he tried, but his words failed him, just like they always did.

So he forgot about words all together and sought after a new means of security. He reached an arm around Taehyung’s neck to bury in the hair at the base and shoved his forehead into Taehyung’s neck.

Taehyung cooed at him quietly, rubbing over his back and his thigh all at once, kissing the back of his head. He could feel Jungkook’s hand against his stomach—it was moving now, in a pattern.

The hybrid was beginning to understand that if he placed his thumb on the tip, fireworks flew into the air. He didn’t really know what his hips were doing, but they were moving, and they were the bane of Taehyung’s existence.

His whirling hips were grinding against Taehyung now. He was already on thin ice just hearing the hybrid moan into his ear, but now he was getting a third party lap dance and a grown man could only have so much self-control.

“How’s it feel, baby?”

“Feels good,” Jungkook panted. “So good. I’m okay?”

“You are. Doing wonderful. You sound lovely, my bunny. Just lovely. I’ve got the most darling hybrid in the world,” Taehyung breathed. He was out of breath because an erection was really pulling at his groin. “It’s gonna get stronger. Don't be scared. Just ride it out.”

A poor choice of words for a man on his last leg while a hybrid ground against his dick— this close to riding him.

“Ride it out?”

“Keep going. Keep touching yourself until you feel something wet on your hand.”

Jungkook almost said so that’s what it was when he remembered all of the milky liquid that the Opalites always spurted inside and on top of him, but he really couldn’t make his tongue do more than lay heavy and wet.

It was building. Soon, too, because his body was so sensitive and untouched in this area. His actual cock was relatively a virgin. No one ever stimulated it, including himself.

His moans shot up in pitch. He was sounding more and more high as the pumps got quicker, and he tried not to second guess himself when he did it. Taehyung told him that whatever felt good was right, and going fast really felt good right now. He was practically mewling, panting and whining like it made any difference to his overwhelmed insides.

Taehyung was in heaven. Touching himself was going to be inevitable tonight in the shower. It had to happen. His growing erection told him so. Rubbing all over Jungkook, he worked hard to hide it from the boy.

“It—It’s getting more—I think I’m almost there.”

“Good, bunny. Go faster. You’re doing so well,” he praised, lingering his hand on Jungkook’s upper thigh. 

Jungkook thanked God for the praises because he didn’t know what the hell he was doing, just knew that he felt like he was about to burst and the pleasure was climbing fast. 

He pumped himself quicker, held on tight to Taehyung’s neck, and ran out of breath. He whined loud and pitiful, felt it all come at once, and every muscle in his body tightened. 

It was scary for just a second, and the panicked sound he made rang clear, because Taehyung kissed at his hair and, “You’re okay. I’ve got you,” and the fear fell like rain from a cloud. 

He cried out, eyes burning with tears as he rode out his orgasm, pumping until he felt the wetness that Taehyung talked about.

His mouth open in a cry took in gasps of air, hand slowing down, body loosening up until he was loose and out of breath and his hand went limp, right alongside his member.

Taehyung soothed at his back. “There you go, baby. There you go. You did so good. So good.”

Jungkook huffed. “It still feels a little bit.”

“It will for a second, but it’s done. You’ll feel relaxed and sleepy soon and all that stress will melt away,” he said to him, trying desperately to ignore his own problem. “Look at me.”

Jungkook looked up and he was a mess. Teary-eyed and rosy-cheeked, he was splendid. Goddamn awe-striking. He was what Taehyung imagined a supernova would look like.

Taehyung held him by his chin and cradled his cheek.

“I’m so proud of you,” and leaned in to press into his lips.

The hybrid’s puffy and wet lips slid against Taehyung’s perfectly, falling closer to him, nothing but putty in his owner’s hands. Good to know that he’s a good boy after cumming.

Until those wet lips got wetter, and salty, and his chest hitched up in weak stutters.

Taehyung thought everything went okay, that he handled it properly, guided Jungkook through a complicated step all in a compromised situation. Did he go wrong somewhere?

“Woah, woah, hey,” he stammered, and jerked away from Jungkook. “What are those tears for?”

The movement was too jarring for his sensitive heart. He grabbed at Taehyung, shook his head desperately, needed to be close after peeling his skin back so precisely.

Thank you.

“W...What?” he asked like an idiot. Bunnies didn’t cry unless their feelings were hurt, but Jungkook’s lips trembled to a messy smile.

“I’ve never felt so close to myself like this before, always felt like it wasn’t mine—my body, my body wasn’t mine. They always taught me others, but never mine.”

He never felt like he had access to his own body. He was disconnected from it, locked out of the server. Only those on the outside could toy with it, do with it as they so much wanted to.

“Yours is the only one that matters. You need to know it before you ever meet anyone elses. It’s time.”

“I…” Jungkook seemed to give up, squinted when the tears reemerged, and cupped the corners of Taehyung’s face, liked the way his thumbs felt on his cheeks. “I didn’t know there was more of me to find until you, Taehyung.”

“There’s so much of you in there—I can see it. I want you to know the same remarkable boy that I’ve known since the first day I found you, Jungkook.”

Heart in his eyes and sitting on his ribs, Jungkook eased their noses together, looked past the tears drying on his cheeks.

“I love you too much.”

Taehyung had never wanted to say something back so vigorously, but all of his wit and silver tongue fell short, left him empty handed and on the edge of his own mind. Could he say it back? Was it always going to be on the tip of his tongue until he nudged it off?

For now, he only fit their lips together. A closed mouth didn’t get fed, but at least he wouldn’t spew out something he’d regret.

“No such thing as too much.”

Hypocrite, he thought to himself, just before he thought about how he was going to explain taking a second shower for the night.

Chapter Text

A hybrid’s sexual awakening wasn’t as clean cut as Taehyung thought it would be. No one told him that it had to be worked out of the system, that an abnormal amount of lust just sat until it was juiced from Jungkook’s body. 

Puberty hit all over again, but it didn’t stretch out over years of adolescence. Those years were compacted into a span of a handful of days, chewed Jungkook up and spit him out—he was so bad off that he even thought that would feel fucking fantastic.

Taehyung was in over his head. Give him something to shoot for God’s sake, not Jungkook rushing to the bathroom in the middle of watching the most boring documentary they could find.

He felt useless, couldn’t do a damn thing to relieve the helpless boy of his tension. His eyes would bubble up in tears sometimes, overwhelmed and frustrated and Taehyung would try to hold him, but he had other matters to tend to, had to run off for the third time that day.

It happened at the worst of times, crept up on them out of nowhere, sent Jungkook reeling in shame.

Walking around the main area, talking about how it had been raining for three days straight, when that familiar electricity shot through Jungkook’s stomach, struck him on every wall and made his skin shiver. 

The way he explained it was nothing like Taehyung ever thought a human suffered. Like his abdomen was empty, then all of a sudden it was full with hot water electrified, immediate surgence between his legs, so strong that his tail twitched and he forgot how to breathe.

He’d grabbed Taehyung by his sleeve, tried to hold the tears back, whimpered, “T—Taehyung, it—I need to—”

Taehyung had cursed under his breath, and he knew it wasn’t because of him, for him, but it still crushed his ears and just made his burning cheeks all the more scalding.

He was going to just walk them out, guide Jungkook by his hand to the nearest hallway, just anywhere out of the public’s eye, but they didn’t have time for that. He glanced down, realized that the one day Jungkook didn’t wear something long enough to cover his shorts, was the same day he was tenting.

The boy just looked miserable, displayed for show and tell, tugging harder at Taehyung’s shirt to please help him before his cheeks got too wet to hide them.

“Okay,” Taehyung decided abruptly, could see no other option. “C’mere. Up.”

He crouched down and handled Jungkook by his upper thighs, only available to touch outside of intimate affairs, and hefted him up. Frantically, Jungkook wrapped his arms around his stressed shoulders and held on tight, legs braced around Taehyung’s waist, like maybe the pressure would push his little problem back down.

Taehyung looked around privily for eyes that may have seen his swelling, didn’t see any before he swooped the boy up, and prayed they were safe. Jungkook just didn’t deserve to be an exhibition anymore.

Before getting caught and averting their gaze, multiple Violets gravitated towards the movement. Their leader normally didn’t move so swiftly unless he was going for the kill.

Some whispered, was the boy okay? Was he sobbing loud or bleeding anywhere? Taehyung’s hand hard on the back of his head and the other bracing his bottom, they didn’t have much to go on but that they shouldn’t look any longer or he would be going for the kill.

Tae.”

“I know. God, fuck your body for doing this to you,” Taehyung sighed, cutting them around the corner, trying not to listen to the estranged whines in the back of Jungkook’s throat, knew so well how hard the boy was holding them back.

“N—No one saw, did they?”

“I don’t think so, baby,” he said, heart hurdling for a crash at the seeping shame in his voice, fucking terrified of being the talk of the base. “Doesn’t matter. I’ll kill anyone who says a word.”

“Want it to stop.”

“I don’t know how much longer we’ll have to do this, but hopefully not much longer or I’m going to find the technician that personally created you in that lab and I’m going to wring his throat.”

Dropping him off at the bedroom felt just as useless as always. As useless as he felt when he woke up an hour before the sun rose and saw the bathroom light on, waited, and came to the realization that Jungkook was not using the bathroom. 

As good for nothing as he knew he was when Jungkook didn’t know how to tell Jimin he had to leave now without saying I’m going to burst if I don’t burst.

Jimin hadn’t even a clue what was going on. Taehyung didn’t think it was his news to hand out. The assassin just knew that one moment Jungkook was doing okay in the laboratory, and the next he was crying.

“Please call Tae. I need him. P—Please call him.”

“I will, of course, but sugar, what’s going on?” Jimin asked, touched his arm, and startled at the harsh flinch it got him for it. “Are you hurt? I gotta tell Tae, baby, what is it?”

“I—I’m not—I can’t—call him, please, hyung!”

He’d never gotten loud with Jimin before, not that he’d ever really call it that when the boy just slapped his own thigh and seemed to suffocate in his own frustrations. 

He was pulling at his ears when Taehyung got there, only crumbling more with each time Jimin tried to stop him, grabbing his hands so gently but they jerked away like it burned. Everything did. The longer he waited, the more he roasted in his own internal heat.

“Oh, Jungkook, hey,” Taehyung hushed, literally flew down the stairs quicker than he’d ever done at a raid, and Jimin just looked flabbergasted. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I’m sorry.”

He was picking up Jungkook, and Jimin couldn’t even make himself stand up.

“Taehyung, what is going on?”

He sounded mortified, scared, ready to fight if that was what it took—just wanted an answer. Taehyung wished he could give him one.

“Curious, aren’t you, Jimin?”

A cloaked phrase. Code for can’t talk about it right now, regularly used in front of their men in high stake missions or in the company of guests or potential targets.

Except normally it came out as a tease, something casual enough for them that it killed any suspicion.

This time it came out like rapid waters, a loose hold on his breath when he carried the boy up the stairs with soft words in his hair.

Jimin needed to pick up his jaw, and Jungkook needed to jerk the pain out of his body, barely waited until he was alone. 

Taehyung left the bedroom with an unwelcome greed swarming him—Jungkook had grinded against him halfway down the stairs, took him off guard just enough to almost tear him from his own restraints.

Jungkook trying to find relief and never getting enough didn’t leave him desirous. Watching the boy fall into sobs because he couldn’t catch a break wasn’t erotic. 

It was when the boy cut the thin string separating them, took a step onto his side, rubbed against him, brushed a hand against his cock when going for his own. That was lecherous. 

It felt like loading a bullet and cocking his gun back. Losing control was too easy that it felt good. Knuckles white, he never let Jungkook see it. Played a game of masquerade, hid it all behind a mask and a tailcoat, the tension that rose all over, blood pressure clenching his veins in a vice grip.

He left the bedroom with his fist itching for a wall, and landed it when Jimin came down the stairs so idiotically worried—worried when all Taehyung could think of was replacing that hybrid’s hand with his.


June 3rd

“Last time we were in here together, I almost beat your cheekbone into the back of your head.”

“Thanks for reminding me, Jimin,” Namjoon said to his annoying grin, always just wanted to rip it off. He couldn’t remember a day Jimin didn’t have it. “I almost forgot.”

“Shut up,” Taehyung interrupted, hand stern on the back of his chair. “I’m not babysitting today.”

“Actually you are,” Jimin said, nodding at the bundle of black sweater in Taehyung’s lap. “Which is why you should keep those dirty words out of your mouth.”

His other hand sat on Jungkook’s back, fingers spread out, prints all over the boy’s sweater and the back of his neck. They had gathered for a meeting following a hushed conversation in the gardens about the impending threat.

And due to recent events, separating Jungkook from his owner for just an hour might as well seem like he was being sold off. Fat tears splashing onto his cheeks, arms stretched out like Taehyung was miles away, blubbering something about being left alone.

In Taehyung’s mind, cool and collected, he thought it better the boy stay in his room, that way if a specific need were too arise, he could tend to it in his own privacy. They had been utterly unpredictable up until now, and Taehyung didn’t need to be a genius to catch a pattern—there wasn’t one. 

Jungkook, on the other hand, wasn’t thinking with a cool and collected head. It was burning hot and muddled. It wasn’t always looking for a means to an end, but God, was it always looking for Taehyung.

There was no fighting him on joining the meeting. You’d have to torture the master torturer to get him to leave Jungkook all alone in the bedroom to roll around in his own tears, because he would—would just sob into Taehyung’s pillow and choke when he sniffed in his scent and got tears instead.

“They’ll come out of your mouth eventually. I’m not concerned in breaking the ice early.”

“Works for me,” Jimin said with a shrug, and leaned back in his chair with a lean of his head. “Now I don’t have to watch my mouth.”

“Like you ever do,” Taehyung said with a glint in his eye.

“Before you two start making nice-like, can we start this? I don’t know about you, but I have plenty to do.”

Taehyung snorted Namjoon’s way. “Your tinkering can wait, Victor Frankenstein. 

“That’s an insult. I’m not mad.”

“No, you just stay in your laboratory day and night and fix up all the creations you think up in that stupendous head of yours. Besides, insane and mad are all the same,” Taehyung said, and picked up a corner of his mouth. “As the Cheshire Cat said, Namjoon.”

“Quit teasing him,” Jimin said, but his amusement gleamed on his teeth. “Get on with it.”

Taehyung sighed, and looked down at the hybrid to re-collect his thoughts. Jungkook gave up in trying to keep up with their jovial banter a long time ago. Too many words that skipped right over his cognitive thoughts.

“We need to discuss the threat.”

“The freaks with the white tattoos?” Jimin affirmed, casting a glance to Namjoon who straightened up in a line. “Yeah. Happy to do it. I’m getting nervous, and I don’t like being nervous.”

“They’ve gone quiet. No attacks, no attempts at communication, no sightings. If we were gullible, we’d call it a win. We didn’t claim our position being gullible. We did it by taking anyone out before they could even attempt to take a hit out on us,” Taehyung said. “Issue is, the trail’s gone cold.”

“How to not be gullible but sit here all at the same time,” Jimin wondered, nearly with a snatch in his tone. “The trail isn’t cold. They’re planning. They’re playing the waiting game.”

“And we’re playing along right next to them.”

“Are we?” Namjoon asked. “Because as I see it from here, and every other perspective of the situation, there isn’t really anything other than waiting to do.”

“We both know I don’t agree with that.”

“Jimin, we’ll get to that,” Taehyung jumped in, sensing the flirt of tension between the two who only recently recovered over their tiff. “We have other matters regarding them to speak about. Gonna need you to keep your blood cold just for one second. Think you can do that?”

“I don’t know, what do you think, boss?” Jimin asked boredly.

“I think you’re a big boy and can hold your mouth.”

Jimin snorted. “Go for it.”

“I dug into the archives. Spent a few hours scouring every last chart that piqued suspicion. Felt like chasing after air with our little to no damn information, but I made it work. Problem is, I came up empty.”

“I’m not surprised,” Namjoon said. “They’re off the grid. I’ve never heard of that tattoo, not in intel, not in any interrogations or trade-offs. I made some connections and even they haven’t heard of white tattoos under the eyes. We’re chasing a myth, as far as we know.”

“But we’ve seen their men,” Jimin said. “On our property, in our home. They’re real and slipping in like the fucking cold.”

“Question is,” Taehyung started, “how do we approach this? Jimin, don’t jump too quick. You might get lightheaded.”

“Shut the hell up,” he countered.

“How,” Namjoon stated—not questioned. “Let’s just wait a moment, take a step back.” In the corner of his eyes, Jimin shuffled in impatience. “We’re forgetting where how starts. They’re untouchable, unfindable, so how do we even start to find them?”

“Look for them.”

“Good idea, Jimin, where are we looking?” Namjoon set him up, spanned himself back on his seat, ticking his head expectedly.

“I’ve seen many beds, Namjoon. Every dark and damp room Seoul has to offer. I can work through the cobwebs and look around. You don’t think you’re the only one with connections, do you?”

“You’ll contract something before you ever find a single source.”

“Doesn’t concern you. At least I’m offering something. You tried your cameras. Unless you’ve got anything else to bring to the table, don’t talk at it.”

“Jimin, your temper’s showing again,” Taehyung warned.

“I’m sure it is,” he said in quiet frustration.

His self-restraint hadn’t been the same lately. The stress was getting to him, biting holes in his skin, letting the anger just leak from him. It was the only thing keeping Namjoon from reacting just as explosively this time—he knew Jimin’s nerves were worn down.

“At this time, the only other option is to sit and wait for another intrusion. Outside sources have failed us. We’re going internal,” Taehyung said. “So, Jimin,” he looked to the assassin, “you got any leads?”

“I have a couple stops in mind. You remember that grouchy old man who helped us find the hideout of the Omens?”

“I’d never forget that pervert, or the Omens. Still makes my skin crawl, those disgusting city slugs.”

“He might know something. The Prophets are my next stop.”

“The Prophets?” Jungkook asked, finger wrapped tight in Taehyung’s shirt.

“They’re a group hidden in Seoul. They deal in the trade of dirty knowledge. Filthy secrets. Things that could get any political leader’s dirty hands washed clean in court. They specialize in gossip, and use it to put a knife to your throat,” Jimin explained. “They’ve even got a couple tidbits about us. Found that out with a good game of chips and some alcohol in the system.”

“Meaning if anyone knows anything, the Prophets will,” Taehyung said with a sweet hand to his back.

“They’re a bunch of cracked shells if you ask me,” Namjoon said. “And hardboiled, at that.”

“You’re just mad that someone has more information than you.”

“The way they obtain it, yeah. I don’t keep secrets in my back pocket, ready to pass out for alliances. I’m not accepting confessions in return for handing out the files of a high profile man’s search history of child pornography.”

“Sounds like you’re in the wrong business, then.”

“I could say the same thing to you too, Jimin. Ever think of becoming a succubus?”

“Young of you to think I’m not already one.”

“Regroup and stop getting into catfights,” Taehyung said, wishing they’d go back to before they were butting heads this bad. “Anything else under your sleeve, Jimin?”

“If the Prophets don’t already have one of their secrets, and the pervert for once isn’t being a peeping Tom, then I’m calling it quits and becoming a rat on the streets of Seoul for a day. Maybe they’re just squatting in the damn sewers.”

Jungkook winced. “Please don’t go in the sewers, Jiminie. It’s dark and gross in there. You might get lost.”

“Some would say I belong there, baby, but don’t worry, I’m not actually going in the sewers.”

Namjoon’s eyebrows shot up momentarily in a spike of attitude, being one of those people, and cleared his throat.

“I haven’t had the time to mention something else I researched.”

Taehyung was all ears, and it was loud and clear. “What do you have?”

“The camera we found on the first man. I traced it back to its original supplier. Hacking into the records and tracking the orders wasn’t a piece of cake, I’ll tell you that. Hundreds of orders a week. I could have looked over it due to the mass supplying, but I didn’t see any odd purchases.”

“Okay,” Taehyung prodded.

“Then I examined the explosive. There weren’t any key identifiers. Not until I pulled it apart. Guess what I found.”

“Share with the class, Joon,” Jimin said.

“A cursive C wrapped in foliage.”

“For the sake of my sanity, tell me you’re fucking with me.”

The sour pucker in Taehyung’s rasp rippled across Jungkook’s skin until it pushed bumps up through.

“I am, in fact, not fucking with you.”

“What does that mean?” Jungkook asked, coming up with anything the letter C could mean. His lack of street knowledge left him clueless, but he had to try.

“It’s the brand of the Colites,” Taehyung said, words slowly roasting over the fire under his tongue. “For years they were major contributors to the ridiculous amount of weapon trafficking in Seoul. They ran the streets because every bullet used in turf wars were made by them.”

“And we put a stop to that eight months ago,” Jimin said bitterly.

“The leader didn’t take my warning seriously. So, I strung one of his men up on a pole and told him to rethink it,” Taehyung said, simple as that, and smiled just as simply when he smoothed Jungkook’s ears back. “He used his little brain a little harder that day and pulled his weapons from the streets.”

“But looks like he’s back at it again.”

“More than that,” Namjoon said cautiously. “Kwan never just sold his products to every needy hand looking for some loud noises. He asked questions. Either the threat gave a bold-faced lie and Kwan bought it—”

“Or Kwan’s just as keen as he was and knew exactly what that bomb was going to be used for.”

“To hurt us…” Jungkook mumbled.

“We never did any business with the Colites, therefore I have no connections. I gave him a chance, that was all that was.” Taehyung almost looked regretful. “He bit the hand. I’ll deal with him.”

“Deal with him?” Jungkook asked.

“I’m retracting the contract. If I start a contract with you, that means you’re on your last leg. Break it, and I break that last leg. He won’t be a problem again.”

“It means we have another raid lined up,” Jimin said. The light in his eyes when he foresaw the flash of gunfire never settled well with Jungkook—anyone, really. “And I can finally work out the kink in my trigger finger.”

“I’ll contact them, then. Tomorrow. I would bust in there tonight just to see their hair stand up, but I need to get my bearings together.” He directed an index finger Jimin’s way. “That means no sneaking out tonight, Jimin.”

“I can’t climb out my window to go see my Romeo?” Jimin teased, but just fell into a scoff, because the bloodlust hovered heavy in him. “Fuck. Fine. Whatever bearings you need to get, scramble ‘em together. The sooner the better. I’m going to chew my fucking leg off if you keep me chained up any longer.”

Taehyung chose to ignore his brattish attempts at pushing him, and said across the table, “Namjoon?”

“It’s not a terrible idea. Showing up guns blazing might be the worst thing you can do, though. We need answers, not more dead people.”

“Correction,” Jimin said, “we need both.”

“We won’t perform the raid tomorrow. We have bigger fish to fry. After the anomalies are out of our hair, I’ll take care of the Colites. We’ll play good tomorrow, Namjoon.”

“You? Good? Never heard of it.”

Taehyung smiled his way. He’d always been thankful for Namjoon’s voice of reason. If it weren’t for him, they’d blow every cover they ever found. The Violets built their foundation and credentials on reckless attacks and audacious gambles, but when you reach the top, it only takes one wrong step to topple.

Namjoon was there to be his no man. To pull him back in before thrill seeker Jimin could talk him into taking every risk they were presented with.

He didn’t even realize he had a hand on the back of Jungkook’s ear until the boy was rolling his head back on his wrist, pushing, looking for more. 

Jimin grumbled something under his breath to Namjoon, shifting in his seat to get comfortable. Fabric rustled, Namjoon rolled his eyes, the room was relatively quiet.

Quiet enough to hear the whine that loomed in the back of Jungkook’s mouth, over his tongue in a glisten.

Taehyung’s ears perked, and Jungkook’s dropped like gravity was picking a fight, nails suddenly dragging into Taehyung’s chest, pulling his shirt into a wrinkle.

“Jungkook?” he asked, so quiet even he couldn’t hear it himself, but those big ears could.

“Y—Yeah,” the boy shook past his teeth, his flushed face evident on his tongue.

The hybrid’s legs squirmed, only so much, to cover or to relieve, Taehyung didn’t take the time to decide.

Lately, the boy had gone from settled to agitated quicker than he ever had. Relaxed and calm, his body would clamp in on itself and shut down all functions but blood flow and the insatiable need for relief that pumped his eyes full of frustrated tears.

Taehyung braced him close, and pushed the chair back. Wood scratching wood caught everyone’s attention, but it was the hybrid buried in his chest and losing his breath that did the job.

“Everything okay?” Jimin asked. It was a familiar scene. He just never thought it was one that would replay.

“Yeah. Everything’s okay. I have to go. Keep talking if you need to—” Taehyung tried to keep track of his own thoughts, but they spun in circles in his head as he picked Jungkook up, “—but we’re going tomorrow night.”

“Okay,” Namjoon said, a certain reassurance in his voice to claim loyalty for the unusually frazzled leader. “We’ll hash it out tomorrow. Bye, bunny.”

“Bye, Jungkook, sweetheart, I’ll see you later.”

Jimin sounded worried again. The same worry that drove Taehyung’s fist into the wall.

Jungkook tried to make something close to a sensible sentence for them, never one to be impolite and ignore his hyungs, but the saddest whine came out instead, fists tight enough in the back of Taehyung’s shirt to ghost his knuckles.

“I knew you should have stayed in the bedroom. I told you, baby,” Taehyung husked, careful on the stairs, but he just wanted to scale them, knees going weak. “Why wouldn’t you just listen to me?”

“No—D—Don’t—Bad.”

“No, you’re—” he sucked in a harsh breath. “Not bad. You’re not bad. Not you. Never you.”

It’s fucking me

He wanted Jungkook to stay in that room so he wouldn’t have to clench his stomach and re-route his thoughts when the boy inevitably got off in his lap. So that he didn’t put another hole in the wall, or three.


June 4th

Jungkook woke up alone. It wasn’t the first time he had. After his adventures under the bed, he’d woken up many times without squeezing himself into a hiding place even he could barely fit in. 

It was later in the morning than he normally woke up. They were on the cusp of the afternoon, and Taehyung didn’t usually stay away for this long. He’d do work at his desk until the rabbit woke up, or linger with Jimin in the hallway to catch up.

The boy splashed water over his face and fluffed up his hair, brushed through the fine, white hairs of his ears and his cottontail, fixed his bows in his hair—with a frown. He liked it better when Taehyung kneeled before him and clipped them in. He always did it painlessly.

An hour. An hour and Taehyung still hadn’t returned. If something drastic had happened, an injured Violet, an attack, Taehyung would have collected him by now, wouldn’t stand to have him out of his sight.

So, Jungkook put clothes on, shook his hands out of his sleeves, breathed in the bravery he didn’t have enough of to go using, and stuck his head out the bedroom door.

He quirked an eyebrow. Not in the hallway consulting with Jimin. 

Leaving the bedroom without an escort was against the rules. He didn’t like breaking the rules. Rules were there to keep him in place and safe, his trainers always told him. Follow them and your owner can better take care of you.

The rules, spoken eloquently by a sincere Taehyung who was so sincere that he declared them with a lack of curse words, were given simply and slowly, in a way he could understand with no exceptions.

Therefore, he was breaking them. You are not to leave this room alone unless you are in danger. Yeah, broken, as he put one foot out the door.

He knew the base well enough. He’d walked from the main area to Hoseok’s office alone before, of course with Taehyung’s eyes on him, but that wasn’t the point. He’d ran up the stairs to show Namjoon his drawing fast enough to get lost from Taehyung’s view for three seconds—a record time, and he survived, didn’t he?

He knew how to get around. And the Violets knew him by now. If he got lost, he could just ask for the way.

Regardless, for just today, he wasn’t planning on running all over the base—yet. His destination was Jimin’s room. It was just across the room. If he got lost this easily, he’d never make it out in the world.

Almost giggling to himself at the thought, that a rabbit like him could get lost in a hallway, he started his journey for Jimin’s room.

Footsteps clicked down the hallway to the right, the direction of the rest of the base, their own little catty corner secluded from the building. 

He stopped, just at the juncture of the hallway, and waited, ears high in the air. Maybe he didn’t have to go searching for silver hair. Tail twinkling, they got closer, but as they did, his ears cocked to the side.

They were loud. Clumsy. Rushed. Nothing Taehyung would ever let himself stoop so low to be. Following the pattern of the footsteps, he could hear arms swinging quickly.

He took a step back. Maybe this was a—

Footsteps turned into a body. They hunkered down to the ground, shook the floorboards.

—mistake.

Tall. Tall and imminent, like a storm in the distance. Baggy clothes swallowed the man in black. A mask cloaked half of his face, no deeper in color than a blackhole.

The hallway dimmed. Jungkook couldn’t decide if it was the panic lacing the outer edges of his vision, or if the man was so calloused that he sucked the energy from the lights.

A flash of skin looked over his mask. White lines transcribed the paleness under his eyes. Eyes soulless, until a glimmer of muse brought life to them. 

“There you are, little rabbit.”

Jungkook hadn’t breathed. Dryness burned his eyes like alcohol. Cottonmouth, throat vexing in the shallow air of his stillborn lungs. Hands hung loosely by his sides, knees relying on the unknown to keep them afloat. 

Words weren’t his strong suit, but even he knew this wasn’t a case of lost words.

The nightmarishly sinister bodings that fed on the man before him, eery in it’s waking, chilling to his bones, pulling at them like a ghoulish harbinger, Jungkook was in the direful’s clawed grasp.

Lifeless eyes, until he was in their reflection, then amusement. What a rabbit saw before the neighborhood’s disturbed child tore it’s limbs off and played in it’s insides. Jungkook could feel the pricks in his arms, the pins that plastered him to the examination board.

No Opalite was hair-raising like this. The anomaly clouded with onyx ghastlies rose his bones through his skin, and pulled him to the ground, to the grave he suddenly felt like he needed to be in.

“You aren’t following the rules.”

He took a step. Jungkook choked on his closed throat.

“Taehyung.” For a call for help, it was pathetic.

“You were supposed to be in your room, and I was supposed to pull you out the window. Easy job. Now you’re here, snake feed.”

“Taehyung,” he tried louder, but his heart had beat his lungs to a pulp. “Taehyung.

If you’re ever in trouble, call for Jimin. He hadn’t forgotten. Good boys didn’t forget rules. They didn’t venture out into the base when told not to. They didn’t—but he couldn’t get any other name out of his mouth.

“Rabbit’s too quiet, huh?”

He took another step. The vibrations of it snapped up his spine and broke the magnetic pull. His legs buckled when he moved back, weak for the man who seemed like he could scythe the soul out of his chest.

“Taehyung! Taehyung!”

A desperate ploy. Desperate measures. Only, Taehyung could be miles off. Another search. Another raid. Maybe they went to see the Colites earlier than planned, and he was a rabbit caught in a snare.

Footsteps on the stairs. Wood rattled. The man looked above them, stance stiff, foot placed backward in preparation to push off and flee. The options scrawled across his eyes, and as tears submerged Jungkook’s, he hoped he didn’t pick the brightest flashing one—grab him and go.

The man picked too late. He lunged forward for Jungkook, elicited a horrified scream and the sound of a body collapsing to the floor like a folded, crumpled thing, snatched one of Jungkook’s ears and pulled him hard enough to move him—but too late. 

Taehyung hit the floor with a bullseye shot at the threat's shoulder.

It shattered bone. His arm hooked until it went limp, and let go of Jungkook’s raging ear, leaving a burn he couldn’t soothe.

The anomaly cut his ankle in two jerking to the side and evading for the hallway.

Taehyung had his firearm up and aimed, finger trembling on the trigger. He had the shot. The enemy had made it to the untouchable. He could take it.

But the sobs of a turmoiled hybrid broke his line of sight, and he lowered it with a furious, “Fuck,” and dropped next to boy who had yet to lift his head from the ground.

His ear was extended, limp on the floor, and if Taehyung didn’t think it was just the adrenaline, he’d say it was pulsing.

“Jungkook, I’m here. I’m right here. He’s gone.”

He gathered Jungkook up. Just that. Gathered him, like the bones in his body weren’t bones anymore, and the muscles that wrapped around them were playing a cruel joke of trust fall and stepped back.

He tried to talk over the boy’s sobs, but his ear hadn’t gone back into place yet, strung out and stripped, and the words drowned out in his chest were, "Rules are supposed to keep me safe."

You were supposed to be in your room, and I was supposed to pull you out the window.

Chapter Text

“Rules. What about rules. What are you talking about?”

Trying to focus on the long string of words tumbling from Jungkook’s mouth while simultaneously hearing the infuriatingly far away footsteps of the intruder down the hallway was like sucking air through the straw—he’d rather just crush his own throat.

Wanted to cover his hands in sticky red. Craved the warmth of it in retribution for the wet tears clinging his shirt to his chest. Had never felt like a drug addict until now, until his weapon was a metal spoon and his trigger finger was the crushed pill. 

His blood ran hot like he wished the metal of his gun would. Adrenaline ate away at his skin like thrilled acid, pumping his heart hard enough to carry him through a field of war but all he was doing was sitting there, cradling Jungkook close with a body that was being fed a meal of murder but couldn’t take the final shot.

A loaded gun but jammed at the shot, Taehyung couldn’t go anywhere. Priorities.

Three months ago his priority would have been clear—chase the culprit down and blow his Achilles heel. Except there wouldn’t be a chase. The Viper was known for his efficiency in killing, quick and clean, through the head or in an organ. A shot to the shoulder was messy. 

Before Jungkook, before his priority list went through the wringer, he’d have two options: drop the intruder at first sight, or disable and catch for questioning.

Today, neither occurred, and all of the wires in his brain were crossed and tangled and blended to shreds.

But Taehyung knew what he was doing. He didn’t get to decide his priorities. Jungkook was number one. He knew he’d missed his chance, and knew damn well he’d just let someone escape him in their very own base, but there wasn’t an argument in his head, just in his blood supply.

His blood could go fuck itself. He’d lost enough of it to not rely on it anymore, and anything he couldn’t rely on wasn’t an accomplice of his. His brain knew why he missed that shot, and his brain was his partner.

“The rules.”

What rules, Jungkook? I need you to forget about the rules and tell me what he did. Did he touch you before I got here?”

“N—No. Grabbed my ear. Ear hurts, Tae. It hurts.”

Taehyung sighed, measured and controlled, unlike the veins that shook in his hands. “I know it does. He dragged you, baby, just pulled you. I could kill him for it. I would. I would, but I don’t want to leave you.”

And as he said it, he looked back over his shoulder, second guessing everything, a particular dread sitting in his stomach waiting to hear the shot of a gun. Screaming. Mob mentality. Anything but silence.

“Feels like it isn’t on right.”

“Your ear?” he asked, questioning what came next. 

Where do they go. Should he call Jimin to tell him to go on a search, or to warn him that they just lost their best chance at finding their rivals just because the Violets somehow became number three on his list of priorities.

“Yeah,” Jungkook whimpered, rubbing his nose into the flat, hard bone of Taehyung’s chest. “Fell.”

He glanced down to look at what fell meant, hadn’t seen the injured ear since it’s first moment of damage, didn’t know how much worse it had gotten, but the pounding of footsteps stole his attention.

Jungkook tensed up, cowered against him, cried out words he couldn’t understand, and then Taehyung really knew something wasn’t right—Jungkook heard them at the same time as the human in the room.

Two pairs of feet, flat shoes, short heels that clicked, messy and shuffling, quick and angry.

He looked over his shoulder again, snatched his gun out of his holster, and aimed it for the hallway, cocked his trigger finger into place.

The intruder was thrown to the ground, and blonde came in a blur, heels loud on the floor. Two guns aimed at the masked man, and Jimin’s was point-blank, standing over him like he’d crush a heel into his skull if he could.

“This yours?” Jimin gruffed, eyes piercing when they cut in their direction, death in his eyes, the only hellish being able to put the anomaly to shame.

Taehyung huffed, scratchy and overwhelmed. “Fuck,” was all that jumped from his tongue, relieved in a way, knowing he had Jimin to catch the situation when it slipped from his hands.

Jimin sniffed a grin, shook his head. “Stop letting your prey get away. I don’t like sloppy seconds.” His knuckles were white around steel, but his hand was steady, and his knees were locked. “What’d he do?”

“Cornered Jungkook and got a hand on him.”

That devilish grin fell like the devil did when he had wings. For the first time, Jimin’s eyes fell on Jungkook, unfocused, dizzy like his head, bottom lip floated low like the cries ringing through the hall.

Trembled. His hand trembled. 

“Jungkook,” he said, a lost attempt, they already knew.

The hybrid keened into Taehyung, hated to hear his name, wanted to forget he existed in case it might take the pain away. 

Jimin didn’t try again with him. “What’d he do?”

“Don’t know what he said yet, but the fucker took him by his ear and tried to take him before I put a bullet in him.”

“Explains why it isn’t you burning gun metal into his neck right now,” Jimin said, and even the blackhole beneath him could hear the strangle in his words—the suffocation of his own predatory instincts to destroy the prey under his aim. “Doesn’t explain why I haven’t yet.”

“Because we need him for questioning.”

Jimin looked back to the anomaly, jaw stirring, teeth grinding, ire in his eyes.

“Count yourself lucky that someone here has a head.” He got low, fluidly, like silver, crouched above the man who wore a blank face. “Because my tantrums could swallow hell whole, and if you don’t think I’m going to throw a fit when I find out you’ve damaged him for good, you’re going to wish the devil came to get you himself.”

Taehyung’s breath came out thin. “Get the intruder settled in. I have to get him to Hoseok.”

Arm on his knee and hand loose, open, fingers drumming the air, Jimin jingled his gun inches from the intruder’s eyes. 

“My pleasure. You’re coming with me, fox. Catch a rabbit in your teeth and I’ll rip them out myself.”

He clawed a clump of the man’s hood in his hand and yanked him up, smaller body built in all the right places, stable even when dragging up the slightly uncooperative enemy. The lack of escape attempt made Jimin’s job easy, but easy wasn’t just boring, but suspicious.

No hands bound. No struggle, just defiant. Jimin had only found a dagger hidden in his waistband. The man wasn’t in any position to take the Violets down to track down the package.

Curious as ever, Jimin pushed him in the direction of the hallway, where the holding cells waited for them.

But first, “Jungkook, sweetheart, Jiminie has the bad guy. You’re going to be okay. Be easy with your ear, okay?”

Jungkook simply nodded, hadn’t shown his face in minutes, crippled under the crunch of his ear and the loud sound of pulsing blood. He didn’t want to see the man that brought him to the floor just by the macabre look in his eyes. Just wanted to soak his tears up in Taehyung’s scent.

Boots scuffed the floor, the man went along willingly, but not without a little bit of dragging to his feet.

“Okay… okay,” Taehyung said, all for himself in a means of pulling his thoughts back together. Injured hybrid, Jimin knocking on murder’s door. The intruder. He was haywired. “Gotta get you to Hoseok to look at your ear. Now.”

“N—Now?” he sniffled, pretty, little red nose rubbed raw from the fabric of Taehyung’s shirt. “Wanna lay down. Tired.”

“I know you are. God, you’ve gotta be so overwhelmed right now, but you have to listen to me. Your ear is injured and we have to get it seen right away. It hurts, right?”

“Mhm.” Jungkook nodded. “At the bottom.”

“Then no sleep. Jimin has him under ropes. We’re secure again. You can let your haunches relax and just let me take care of you, yeah?” Taehyung coaxed, feeling over the bones of his back. “These things can get worse with time and I am not neglecting an injured ear.”

“O—Okay, but can Tae carry me, please?” he asked politely, even if his nose was all snotty and his cheeks were stained with tears. “Legs tired.”

“They’re scared , too. A scary thing just happened. Your legs are weak because of it,” Taehyung said. “Of course I’ll carry you. Get you as far away from these degenerates as I can get you. Don’t even want you touching the floor.”

The boy agreed wholeheartedly, held on tight, and nodded until his nose left a thin stripe of sheen across Taehyung’s neck. It should be gross. If a kid snotted on his skin, he’d be in cuffs, but when Jungkook did it, his heart was pitted like a damn olive.

He hoisted him up, got used to the feeling of Jungkook’s legs bracketed around his waist, and the trust the boy put in him to hold onto his bottom and not get handsy. Wet nose in his neck, Taehyung coddled him close and headed for the infirmary.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t get here earlier.”

“Not sorry. Didn’t know.” 

In his arms and coming down from a high, Jungkook slurred like a pro and forgot about half of the Korean dictionary.

“I shouldn’t have left you alone.” He thought longer on that. “But you shouldn’t have—what were you doing outside of your room?”

A tired groan rumbled from Jungkook’s throat. “Didn’t know where you were. Took too long. Find you.”

“You left to come find me?” he asked, and could hear the rising discipline in his voice, did everything he could to swallow it back down like a hard pill. “Doesn’t matter. You would have been caught either way. He wouldn’t have stopped until he found you. We’ll deal with that later—all of it. Right now, your ear is all I care about.”

If Jungkook weren’t so dropped in his own head, he’d take notice to the strange control vibrating in Taehyung. Vibrating, because it was forced, a constant decision on his part, hands splitting at the ridiculing rage that they held so tightly onto.

Barely withholding. Burning from within with the flames that stroked higher and higher the clearer the memory came to him. As the adrenaline ticked away, every step closer to the infirmary, he remembered like a bad taste.

The destitute in his hybrid’s eyes. His hybrid, cowered to the ground, taking submission like it was his only calling, giving himself up, calling for Taehyung, not like he was his last hope, but because he was. His boy huddled into himself, ripe for the taking, not an inch of fight in his body—and the way he just fell when dragged.

The veins that popped in the intruder’s hand because he yanked that hard. The whites of his knuckles, the tense of his arm, the push of his calf. And the sound of crackling that Taehyung could only hear now, now that blood wasn’t coursing past his ears. 

Cartlidge. Bone. Vessels. Skin. What crackled, he couldn’t pinpoint, but it crunched away in his ear, couldn’t get it out of his head.

The adrenaline was better than the poorly submerged anger that crawled up to him with a proposition. Both of the two blocked things out just as well, but unlike adrenaline, anger didn’t push him along like it meant survival—it just amplified everything.

“I need you to do something for me, Jungkook, and I’m asking you think very hard when you answer. I know it’s hard to talk right now, but tell Tae carefully, okay?”

“Mhm,” he hummed into his neck, sniffing when a new wave of tears kicked at the back of his eyelids. “Be good.”

“Hush. Always good,” Taehyung reminded him, couldn’t not , no matter what he had to say next. “I want you to think on it first. Don’t tell me yet. I know your sweet, little head is so full right now and I need to know exactly the answer, nothing jumbled, okay?”

“Okay, Tae.”

“I want you to tell me everything he said to you. Big or small. Everything is important, sweetheart.” 

The bunny made the smallest of a whine into his neck, overwhelmed, caught in the stress of it all, tightening his body like it was a fiber. The main area exploded around them, people talking, feet scuffling, the infirmary was close, but Jungkook’s senses were already flooded.

“A lot, Tae.”

“Don’t let it scare you. I know you’ll do incredible. You’ll remember. My smart boy, remember?”

Taehyung’s voice cracked. Dread snaked up Jungkook’s spine, coiled in a tight rope at the bottom of his stomach. The hand on the back of his head dug in deep, lost it’s prints in his messy, tousled hair.

Because it hit. Just then. The adrenaline stepped aside, the anger took flight high enough to make room for something else. Fear. Complete, muscle twisting, bone rocking fear.

“My smart boy,” he said again, saw the people around them stop, but didn’t hear them—the frantic whispers, the curses, the questions. It shook. His breath was stuck. “My good, smart boy, knew exactly what he was doing when he called for me. Knew not to run. You knew, didn’t you?”

“I knew,” he said, jumped to say, because the trembling of Taehyung’s voice was unsettling. “Called for you.” Then, just as walls came back around them, the hallway to the infirmary, he tentatively rubbed his fingers in circles at the base of Taehyung’s neck, said even softer than them, “I’m okay.”

“No, you’re not, baby. Don’t say you are.”

Jungkook didn’t argue. If Taehyung said so, then maybe he wasn’t okay. White walls surged up around him. Footsteps on sterile tiling. Wheels rolled—Hoseok pushed back on his chair, studying the usual stack of medicinal reports on his desk.

“Hey,” Hoseok greeted, eyes cascading down the limp body in Taehyung’s arms, hadn’t caught all the way up to the shaken disturbance of Taehyung’s face, but he was gaining on. “Didn’t know you were planning on stopping by today. Everything okay?” he asked in concern.

The way he was already standing up and abandoning his desk paid homage to his years of experience in men charging into his room with a face anyone else would call stoic, but he could always see right past it. Hoseok knew a false face when he saw one.

Hoseok’s arms stretched out, and Taehyung used his last inch of control to loosen his fingers before they knotted Jungkook’s hair in his fist like a hostage victim.

“Need you, Hoseok. Right fucking now.”

“I'm right here. What happened?”

“Our security’s breached. An intruder made it all the way to the back of the base, to our rooms.”

What?” Hoseok hissed, stalling in place, gears grinding and eyes flashing a frustrated shock.

“He’s been apprehended and Jimin has him in custody. I’m keeping it quiet. I don’t know how far the bitch got before Jimin caught him, but the hub wasn’t exploding with panic, so I’m assuming no one knows. We’re at ease right now.”

“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t give a damn about the security right now, Taehyung. Why are you bringing him to me?” Hoseok urged, hands hovering by Jungkook’s back, raking his eyes over and over in search for a wound, a gunshot, thick, red coating. 

“Intruder tried to get him, Hoseok. Snatched him by his ear and tried to drag him like a fucking bag,” he said, and shifted Jungkook in his arms. “He’s hiding it. You can’t see. It’s fallen, and he said it hurts and feels like it isn’t on right. That’s all I know.”

Hoseok huffed, the glaze in his eyes shifting, letting his doctorate move to the front of the class, medical vision cutting through his pupils. 

“Any other wounds?”

“No.”

A stripped ear. No other wounds. Recent injury. His checklists marked one by one in his head, information flooding up the careens of his skull, Hoseok threw himself into diagnostics and treatment the same way he always had since he first learned saving lives was the only thing for him.

“No other wounds means this isn’t mortal. He’ll be fine, Taehyung. Let’s get him to the examination room,” Hoseok instructed, and lead the way, looking over his shoulder. “Is he verbal right now?”

“Yeah, he’s verbal, but spaced out. You won’t get fully fledged sentences or descriptive answers.”

“I can work with that. All a doctor needs is a yes or no to pull it all together.” He ushered Taehyung into the room, shut the door behind him, and watched as the leader lined up with the examination bed. “Sit him down. I’m going to examine his ear.”

“Easier said than done, doc,” Taehyung nearly grumbled. Ear full of Jungkook’s little sniffles and tearful hiccups, his heart was stained with guilt when he massaged into the back of the boy’s head and said, “Baby, do you know where you are?”

Jungkook shook his head, nose cold on his skin. “Nuh-uh.”

“You’re with Hoseokie. Remember Hoseokie? Your doctor? Why don’t you lift your head, sweetheart, so you can see him?”

“H—Hoseokie?” he inquired, and did as told, lifting his head, and with that, came the ear he’d shielded in the crevice between him and Taehyung’s neck. 

His big, wet eyes were tormented with glossy tears, new and old, fingers curled inward against Taehyung’s upper back as his ear throbbed and snot tickled above his cupid’s bow.

Ear uncloaked, Hoseok’s face fell, but only for a moment, because eyes that could speak for Nasa personally were on him, and he had a job to do. Ensure and stabilize. A doctor incapable of keeping their patients pacified was a shame.

“Hey, little guy. I thought we were done meeting here for other things rather than check ups, hm? We agreed on no more bad things.”

“I—I didn’t do it, H—Ho—”

“I know you didn’t. Doctor’s pick, right? They always do. Today’s just another day.” Re-route. Pacify. Decline panic. “I think you’re in good enough shape to take my picking, don’t you think?”

“I don’t think so,” he whimpered.

“You don’t? Then that must explain why your little cottontail is back in my exam room. Why don’t you sit down on the exam bed for me so we can talk about what’s going on, yeah?”

Taehyung was going to lose his mind, what was left of it—not a lot, and he’d appreciate it if the universe left him even an ounce of sanity. 

That’s just the thing, though. His blood was running hot with immeasurable dysfunctionality, enough raging hormones to throw him into a Coliseum fight or die playdate and come out unscathed, but then there was Hoseok, as collected as a stack of cards.

Taehyung was playing fifty-two pick up right now, for comparison.

The doctor was trained in handling frantic and scarred patients, symptoms from within and out. Whether Taehyung knew that before or not, it was verified on the day of Jungkook’s first exam when he willingly and knowingly applied medical assistance through brute force on a traumatized hybrid, and somehow pulled through with as little as a mere snap in the tone.

The doctor and the Viper held their composure in common, but what they didn’t share was the stability in it. A good few jabs and not enough of a motivation and Taehyung could lose his at the snap of a mind.

Hoseok nodded towards the bed, because Jungkook had nodded too, and Taehyung bit his tongue when he lowered the boy down—wanted to say if this place was burning down, would you still talk like a storyteller?

Jungkook eased down to the bed, hands gripping and pinching onto pieces of Taehyung’s clothes and skin, skin jumping at the cold touch of the sterile sheets. He already missed being in Taehyung’s arms.

“There you go. You’re fine, bunny. Right there.”

“Tae, don’t like being away.”

“I know you don’t,” he said, and then with instinct, almost flattened his hand over the boy’s ears, watched his addiction crumble around him. “Believe me when I say I don’t like it either.”

Hoseok slipped in between them, fell in so easily in front of Jungkook after their many re-checks and follow ups. This was a familiar position for them, but lately, tears didn’t accompany them. Today was unfortunate on the heart.

Hoseok stood squared in front of him, getting a front view of the imbalance. 

“It’s this one, right? Your right ear?”

It was an obvious answer. Anyone could see, but getting the boy to communicate was about as important as the physical examination.

“Yes, sir.”

Hoseok’s face had fallen earlier because his diagnosis was already complete. This didn’t need diagnostics or lengthy consideration.

He’d done his research in the first month of Jungkook joining the Violets. Being the best he could for his patients was the only option for him, no less, and he hadn’t been trained in hybrid medicine. He found his own books, his own archives, his own research reports and educational findings.

He’d studied rabbit hybrids starting from their first conception in the laboratory, a single cell, up until their incubation, all the way to adolescence and adulthood. Chemical making, molecular structure, anatomy, sensitivities, heats. 

Even going as far as dabbling into the psychology of hybrids, something he’d always strayed from. The body was much clearer to him than the mind was. It came with rules and guidelines, unlike the sponge in their cranium that even when being the last processor of life and all functions, was somehow so stupidly easy to damage.

The most crucial focal point for a rabbit hybrid was their ears. Most of their anatomy was borrowed from the unaltered species, the ears for the most part entirely identical. Therefore, their ears being attached to a human body did not transfer over the durability that the human body contained, meaning they retained the original fragility that the rabbit species holds.

Rabbit ears are easily the most brittle part of a rabbit’s body, and that pertained to Jungkook just as well. One wrong hold, grab, or motion can damage a rabbit’s ear, and more often than not, it is irreparable.

Looking at it now, Hoseok already knew the consequences to the intruder’s actions. Thing is, he didn’t want to admit it, not to himself, the hybrid, or the owner.

“Tell me what your ear feels like.”

“It hurts,” Jungkook said blandly, and lifted a hand to hover by his ear, considered touching it, to rub out the source of the pain and have his pride and joy back, but he thought better of it. “Feels wrong.”

“Where does it hurt the most?”

“At the bottom. Deep in.”

“Is it sharp or dull?”

“D...Dull.” Atleast, he thought so.

“Is it pulsing, hot?”

“Pulsing?”

“You know how your heart beats in your chest? Like a badum?” Hoseok motioned with a loose fist, stressed and relaxed at a constant pace, pulsing his fist. “What it would feel like is blood moving, and you might be able to hear it too.”

“Think so, but not bad. Hot.”

“I figured. There’s some swelling at the base of your ear. The long part of your ear, the part we’re always touching? That’s the pinna, and that shouldn’t hurt any. Am I right?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Good. That means the rest of your ear isn’t injured. Now, Jungkook, I want to do something, but I have to warn you, it may hurt a little bit more after I start, but I need to examine the inside of your ear,” Hoseok stated calmly, and Jungkook didn’t mistake it—it was not a question. “What do you think about that?”

Hoseok sorted through equipment he had lined up on the walls while Jungkook rolled that around in his head for a moment, avoiding eye contact with Taehyung. 

“I don’t—um—gonna hurt?”

“I think it will, bud, but remember what we talked about? Some things have to hurt before they can feel better.” Hoseok had his back to Jungkook while preparing. “I need to get a look inside of your ear before I tell you for sure what's wrong.”

Stood next to him, Taehyung rubbed circles into his back, even if his skin was jumping and flinching from oversensitivity.

“You need to let the doctor do what’s needed, right?”

Jungkook looked up at him, winced an eye shut when jostling his ears, and his head twitched. An injured ear affected the entire afflicted side of the head.

“But…”

“But what, baby?”

It wasn’t a trap like some owners found joy in setting. It was encouragement to rethink whatever was about to come out of his mouth. Fear overruled, and it was Taehyung’s job to bring him back to Earth.

“But… I don’t wanna hurt.”

“Why would you, baby? You’re sick of hurting. I know you are, but you need to sit still for us and be a good boy, even if it doesn’t feel good,” Taehyung tried, waging a war on what was most important—Jungkook’s comfort, or his health. “We get it over with and we can get you to bed.”

If he let ignorance rule his choice, he’d turn a blind eye, scoop Jungkook off that examination table, and take him somewhere only they would know. He’d tuck his boy away before the world could get it’s grubby, sinister hands on him again.

But ignorance wasn’t in the marrow of his bones. Blindness would be the death of him. He was made up of rationality and a burdening sense, seeing all even when blindness would better suit his heart.

Jungkook busied himself with his sleeves, and nodded hesitantly. Clearly he didn’t agree with this, didn’t understand how being good equated to letting someone hurt him when all Taehyung ever said was to call for help if harm was done to him—his help was here, and had a hand in it all.

But above all else, he’d grown in his few months here. He knew what Hoseok’s hands were for. They broke him apart so they could mend him back together again, but better. And among the plethora of things Jungkook held for Taehyung, complete and unbreakable trust was one of them.

He let his good ear droop, and wearily watched as Hoseok approached him, closer, slow and steady, like a cornered cat that could pounce at any moment. 

“I’m going to pick up the long part of your ear, and then I’m going to put this otoscope into it. You remember this from the first time I examined you? It doesn’t hurt, remember?”

Jungkook nodded, but it was faint. He was drifting, looking out the corners of his eyes. Floating, he realized, but not like he was lightheaded. Like his body was desperately attempting to pull him away.

Taehyung kneeled down in front of him. Hoseok stood next to him. He flipped the light switch on the otoscope. Jungkook flinched. Fingers locked around each other, fabric caught in between. Hands on his knees. The softest voice below him, but the words came out as incoherent noise, swirled in his ear canal like verbal smoke.

Something touched his ear. Hoseok’s hand, right? He thought so, but his chest was caught in a burning building, and his head was nowhere but up. He swallowed hard. Tentative fingers lifted his ear, Taehyung tried to catch his line of vision, looked like he was catching onto the mass hysteria that leveled out into silence in Jungkook’s head.

Pain panged deep in his ear. He winced, hissed sharp through his teeth, and snapped his head to the side, away from the hand causing it. 

That was what he was supposed to do, right? Run from those looking to hurt him. Why was Hoseokie grabbing his ear when it brought tears to his eyes?

Taehyung’s lips moved. Nothing left them. Hoseok didn’t let go, kept lifting, something shifted in his canal, crunched where he couldn’t feel, and fingers dug a little deeper into his knees.

“Stay still,” he finally heard, straight out of Taehyung’s mouth, sounded like something he’d hear moments before cruelty.

The humans wanted him to stay still, even if broken material ground around inside of him. Wanted him to stay still so they could eat away at him, put more holes when he’d already filled too many to come back from. His own owner, leaving indentations in his skin, speaking quicker, even if he couldn’t hear him. The otoscope neared his ear. 

Agonizing. Ear screaming like the gates of hell, and every sinner burned inside of his ear like an underworld of sadists with their pitchforks and torches.

Taehyung pushed his legs down to the examination bed. His mind blanked. His chest ran like a machine trying to die, grinding and overheating and hot like metal, jerking to life like it was it’s last chance to live, and finally, he could hear.

He could hear.

Rules. Rules. They were supposed to help him.

The world came rushing back to him, hit him like a tsunami, the ocean in his head disturbed by the erratic waves of his core. Water left his ears and impact knocked him breathless.

Loud. Shouting. When did he start thrashing? Taehyung was surging up. The otoscope lay on the floor. One of his palms burned. Salt tasted on his tongue. 

“He’s panicking. He’s panicking!” Hoseok warned, average calm ebbing away at the edges.

Taehyung fought past the hybrid’s hands pushing against his chest and pulled him in. It wasn’t an embrace Jungkook could fall so easily into. It constricted him, bent in his ribs, suffocated his already drowning lungs. 

He swung his legs, kicked at Taehyung, heard the collision of bone, felt his toes jolt backward with the force of it. Felt his heart tear knowing he was the one pulling the grunts out of Taehyung’s throat, but he’d been snared, a hunter had a dagger ready to dig in, and the rules weren’t there to protect him anymore. 

Sit still, little bunny.

“Jungkook. Jungkook!”

Sit still while they pull your ears and pluck your tail. Watch the tears build up in your eyes because, God, do they look so much prettier that way. Listen to the begs step off your tongue like a man with nothing left to lose. Wind you up and let you go until boredom sets in and you’re left loose a couple of screws and lost in your head with no one to control it.

Taehyung’s lips sat against his good ear, right in the dip of it, spoke loud enough to break his sound barrier.

“You need to stop. You need to stop. Everything is okay.”

He jerked side to side, threw his head back, sobbed for the God’s to hear, hoped the demons below did too. Throat torn like rust fell from his cries, Jungkook rioted the human straightjacket sealing him inward. 

He just wanted away. Wanted it to stop. Stop touching him. Stop making it hurt. Just stop.

Jungkook’s ear bent back with the momentum of the fray, and he screamed in pain, dropped his head to the side to alleviate the pressure, chased better days, and Taehyung suppressed a growl, gritted his teeth.

“Stop right now. That is an order, Jungkook. Now.”

The strings thrashing him, bending him, they snapped. Clean, dropped him lifeless. Instincts crawled over his skin and through his mind like a colony of ants, overthrew the panic, ran out the manipulation of believed betrayal.

He breathed in the air of the room, forgot what it tasted like. His tongue was dipped in copper. Strange. The last time he tasted that was after an Opalite smacked him in the mouth two days before Taehyung found him.

Taehyung. Copper wasn’t in his mouth with Taehyung. Chocolate was, and the second sense of his scent when he slept close enough. His legs felt bruised, his chest shook from crushed lungs sucking in air hard enough to drive his ribs in like spiked bars.

But the second he leant against Taehyung, the hold hoarding him enough to tell him breathing wasn’t up for debate—it loosened, but he still followed it, exhausted, watched his own fight leave from his body.

An order. It held his heart in its hands. Took the anarchy in him and snuffed out it’s smoke bombs. Slid his eyelids down to touch because the walls were too white and his hands shook enough to blur.

Taehyung took his weight carefully, didn’t pull completely back, breathed hard into the back of Jungkook’s head, tried to pull his line in after reeling.

“Just stay. Just stay and breathe.”

Jungkook was heaving, chest the only thing not an abandoned puppet. The wailing, the howling, the chastening of his own muscles like he’d been exorcised by a demon, it all left him stranded without a stable lung. 

Forehead pressed to Taehyung’s shoulder and arms fallen by his sides, whimpers sprouting between his teeth every second closer he came to reality, he sucked in the only scent he’d ever memorized intricately.

“Hoseok. Go.”

“He’s bleeding from his mouth. He bit his—”

“Hoseok. You fucking do it now or I will take one of your scalpels to your throat.”

It wasn’t a jest. Hoseok’s spine shivered, all the way to his jugular where surgical metal would splice right through like paper. His breath skipped a beat, and he fumbled the otoscope in his hand.

Nervous to touch the boy’s ear this time, morality twisted his stomach up in a knot. Jungkook didn’t move an inch. Not when he lifted his pinna, when it straightened up and the tiniest of wince drew Jungkook’s eye closed. Relief and dolor danced around each other—the boy was just letting him hurt him.

Taehyung whispered into his ear, “You’re doing wonderful, my sweet boy. Wonderful,” and Hoseok shined the otoscope down the canal of his ear.

Jungkook shuddered, shoulders an aftershock to his ears, and Taehyung massaged into his back to keep him grounded, paranoid he’d float away again.

“You’re okay,” his owner hushed.

Hoseok played around in his ear for a mere fifteen seconds. Not enough to warrant the fight, Taehyung thought, but the demons in his hybrid’s head loved to fight. Loved to egg on the devil on his shoulder.

The struggle didn’t have to happen. Taehyung could string Hoseok up, even if it wasn’t warranted. He didn’t have any demons in his head, just the devil that graduated from his shoulder years ago. No one egged him on. He just wanted to murder Hoseok because he could.

The doctor detracted the otoscope, and Jungkook’s eyes slid shut all over again.

“Tell me you got something from that,” Taehyung said from the back of his throat, “and if it isn’t worth his mind cracking, that otoscope is going in your eye.”

“I did,” Hoseok said calmly, holding it together. “His ear canal isn’t crushed. No spotting or bruising, meaning no internal bleeding. There is swelling, but due to general inflammation and a secondary reaction to the trauma.”

“I’m not hearing a diagnosis,” he gruffed, and looked up from Jungkook’s hair to cut through him with blown pupils.

Hoseok backtracked to try and find out when he got into deep shit. Understandably, the mental break upset Taehyung, but they’d been through this before. The first examination brought Jungkook to incoherent sobbing.

This time was different, and he knew that. Could tell by the cloak over Taehyung's emotions. He was blocked off. Reasons and answers only.

“My biggest and first worry was trauma to what we call the labyrinth. Rabbit’s rely on the labyrinth to level out and balance their ears. Damage can cause permanent head tilt and irregular pupil movement, but there is no tilt and his pupils are steady.”

“Then?”

“Unfortunately, Taehyung, I think the cartilage at the base of his ear has been fractured,” he said apprehensively. 

“Fractured cartilage?”

“The cartilage at the base of their ears is prone to damage. Lop-eared type rabbits are lop-eared due to their weakened cartilage, therefore, erect-eared rabbits rely on the carriage of their ears to keep them erect,” Hoseok explained. He couldn’t withhold from sharing information even when he was on thin ice. “When fractured, the cartilage support gives away, and their ear falls.”

“How can you know for sure it’s that?” Taehyung asked, not to argue, but to cover bases. Half-assed guesses led to a murder spree if it endured his hybrid through incorrect treatment.

“I could take x-ray views of his ear, and maybe be able to spot a fracture, but we’d just put him through more of a struggle when I know, Taehyung. His labyrinth is in tact. His ear canal is clear. It’s cartilage. There are miniscule bones included in the ear anatomy, but they are so off course and untouched that I’m not concerned about them.”

A gulp, thoughts crowded behind his eyes, Taehyung said, “You can’t fix a fracture.”

“No…” Hoseok sighed. “No, you can’t.”

“Fuck, Hoseok,” Taehyung said, desolate and feeling like maybe he was meeting his Goddamn creator. He leaned forward on Jungkook. “Fuck.”

The hybrid tensed up, didn’t like the aggression in the voice that slipped into his deep space. Taehyung ran a hand up his back.

“If you can’t fix it, what are we left with?”

“Rabbits ears are significantly rewarding in healing properties. Fractured ears can heal on their own, but that doesn’t mean he’ll ever have an erect ear again. The cartilage may never gain its strength back.”

“But that’s cosmetic. I don’t care if his ear is gone. How long will it take for a fracture to heal, how long is his ear going to be painful?”

“Hybrids give and take their animal counterpart’s genetics. If he’s lucky, if he inherited the quick healing properties in his ears, it could be as little as a couple of weeks or less. If he didn’t, months—six, eight, I don’t know.”

“But he’ll heal?”

“He’ll heal. There are researches and findings connected to cartilage replacement and treatment, but that needs to be a last resort. We’ll try natural repairment first. Pain medication, anti-inflammatories, take it easy on his ear. I’ll look into protection methods, especially for when he’s sleeping.”

Taehyung scoffed. “More meds. More poking and prodding.”

“I’m sorry, Taehyung,” Hoseok offered, glancing down to the boy who hadn’t moved other than his bodily shivering. “It’s the best I can do.”

“I know,” he answered back tight, “but not mine.” Because I wasn’t quick enough.

“By the way. He bit his tongue.”

Taehyung tasted copper.


 Jungkook left without a fight. Arms heavy around Taehyung’s neck, legs even heavier. He weighed more than he did when he went in. He hadn’t spoken a word, so neither did Taehyung.

The only good thing about any of this was the medications in his back pocket and the end of Jungkook’s shaking. He was half asleep, dozing in and out, too lulled to even hear the talk spreading through the main area.

His boy knocked out in his arms, a red tinge to Jungkook’s bottom lip no matter how much he tried to wash the blood off. Ear dropped on his head and twitching ever so often.

Taehyung slowed to a stop in front of his bedroom door. Guests stood by it, leaned against the wall, and he wasn’t really in the mood for any chatting.

“You aren’t in there yet?” Taehyung asked, confused, looking Jimin up and down and wondering why the hell he wasn’t in a holding cell instead of leaning on his door frame.

“We need to talk first. I’ve got some concerns on what move we’re making from here,” Jimin said, eyes crossed, eyes on the hybrid in his arms. “How’s he doing?”

“Looks asleep.”

Yoongi. 

He never came around these parts. Preferred the armory and the bedroom attached to it. Too much socialization risked annoying him, and annoyance kicked him over the edge quicker than anything.

“About. He worked himself up and tuckered out. He needs to sleep.”

“Well?” Jimin pressed, gentle, knew the tightness in Taehyung’s shoulders like an old friend. “What’s the diagnosis?”

“Fractured cartilage, base of his ear. No hearing loss or inner ear damage.”

“A fracture. Fuck.”

“What I said. We’re leaving it up to time to heal. I fucking hate time,” Taehyung said, quiet in case it roused the boy. “Hoseok said it could be as little as a few weeks, but could be as long as months. He won’t know until he starts to progress.”

“Meds?”

“Got ‘em,” Taehyung said. “What do you need to talk about? I’ve got to get him taken care of, Jimin. I don’t want to disappear, but he can’t be alone right now and I’m not going to drag him through a meeting.”

He looked tired. As tired as the hybrid sleeping in his arms. Eyes drooped, shoulders frail under the world, brittle under every new problem arising around him. One more problem and he could see himself burning the whole place down just to mass solve it all.

Jimin treaded lightly.

“I need to know how I’m going into this. He’s our first successful catch. We can’t fuck this up. We need to be on the same page, and we need to be decisive. Am I just going in for answers? Am I breaking him quick? Am I dragging it out?”

“Isn’t this your specialty?”

“Taehyung,” Jimin said, “this isn’t our average interrogation where if it falls through, we can just attack with lesser information. We don’t have a target. I know your head is full right now, fuck, I know, but we need to have our shit together before I go in there.”

“I’ll take him.”

Taehyung’s eyes snapped in Yoongi’s direction. Any other mortal being would have hit rock bottom at a look like that. Yoongi already knew rock bottom, had seen beneath it, and Taehyung wasn’t going to send him back.

“You’ll take him?”

“Jimin’s right. This prisoner isn’t normal. If him and any information he has falls through the cracks, we’re right back to square one and risking another attack,” Yoongi said, boring holes into the back of Jungkook’s head. “You need to talk, and Jungkook can’t be alone. I get it. Let me take him while you talk.”

“He was just almost—”

“Stolen right beneath your nose. I’m aware. I know what you need from me. I’ll easily give it. I’ll take the building down before anyone gets their hands on him. You know that. I’ll take the little guy and tuck him in, give him his meds, make sure he’s good.”

“Yoongi… you understand what you’re asking, right?”

“A lot. Namjoon and Hoseok can’t protect him, and if there’s another intruder hiding away, leaving Jungkook with one of them will only risk more lives than necessary. No one will get past me. I’m asking you to ask his protection of me.”

Jimin looked between them, arms loosening. He was slightly taken aback, if he had to admit it. It wasn’t that Yoongi and Taehyung were mortal enemies, but there was always a rift between them. Two people who relied on intimidation to get by who couldn’t be intimidated. Together, heads were bound to butt. 

There wasn’t distrust. Taehyung didn’t keep advisors who he couldn’t trust as far as he could throw them, but just because he trusted Yoongi didn’t mean he liked him. They were in business together. They had blackmail on eachother. They were partners, nothing more, nothing less.

Handing over his precious hybrid over to a man who he wasn’t wholeheartedly sure he even liked wasn’t in his character. However, if Jimin couldn’t watch him, Yoongi was the only other person applicable in a scenario of a security breach.

“If I give him to you and something happens to him—”

“It’ll be my head—if you can catch me. I know. Nothing will happen to him. I’ll lose my head before it does.”

Taehyung moved closer, didn’t even look when Jimin stepped aside, removed himself from the tension. Normally he thrived in it, but he’d felt this aura before. It only ever came when Taehyung was imagining offing someone.

“I mean it. I need you to listen to me very carefully.”

Yoongi peered up at him, eyelashes heavy above steeled eyes. “I’m listening.”

“Anything happens to him on your watch—he so much as cries a single fucking tear,“ Taehyung warned, breath hot on his tongue and whirled around his words, “and you’ll wish the government got their hands on you before I did.”

The fugitive’s lips tweaked in a smirk. “I can run from the government. Something tells me I can’t run from you.”

I’m the one hiding you. Finding you will come naturally, Yoongi.”

“You won’t have to find me. You’re hiding me, afterall,” he reminded him. “The boy’s safe with me. If he wakes up, I’ll just read him a bedtime story and tell him you’re off bettering the world. I’m no monster, Taehyung. Not the kind under the bed, at least.”


 Taehyung left him in Yoongi’s hands. His calloused, scarred hands that had nearly as many deaths on them as Taehyung’s. Hands that worked best around weapons, now in the midst of brushing through Jungkook’s hair.

Taehyung whispered into Jungkook’s ear, even if he couldn’t hear him. Told him he’d be back. Asked him not to leave to come looking for him. Swore on his life that he’d make it all better, just give him some time, please, I know I can make this all better.

He had to tear himself away from dipping his hands over the peaks of his shoulder blades, tear his eyes from the limp ear twitching even in his sleep.

Tear himself away just to meet Jimin in the intelligence room and miss hearing the word smart from his sweet boy’s voice. He tried to shake the nonsense from his head. Going into a meeting drowsy and guilty only placed the odds against him. 

Namjoon wasn’t in the laboratory. The gunshot had pushed him into his room, seeking asylum. Jimin must have come to check on him, because he normally came out like a nervous animal to gain information on the use of ammo. 

Most days he got good answers. Others, he didn’t, and he retreated to safety.

“You took him down to the holding cells. First impression?”

“Different from the others. He actually matters to them. Tongue attached, no bomb to blow him to smithereens. He came to stay alive. I think we both know what he was sent here to do.”

“To capture Jungkook. I was going to talk to him after the infirmary, try and find out what the guy said to him, but that’s out the window now.”

“They’re trying to bag the Viper’s hybrid. Not you. Not me. They could place an explosive on the walls and take this place down if they wanted to. The advantage of breaking in and entering,” Jimin said. “But instead, they want him. Why?”

“Looks like you have your first question to ask."

"Are we going to discuss the obvious here?"

"You mean how he knew where Jungkook would be? He came all the way to the back of the base. The little shit with the camera, he could have mapped out this entire place for the boys back at home."

"And he probably did."

Taehyung sighed. “We need answers. We'll start there, figure it out as we go. We miss out on this, and we’re back to square one. You do what you need to get answers out of him. Try not to break him, though, because we aren’t just looking for a motive. We need a name. A location. Who the hell these people are and where they’re coming from.”

“A slow drip. Got it,” Jimin said with a hum, and leaned back against the table, thighs solid. “I know what he did, and I know what you might want. You want me to leave his head somewhat there so you can deal your damage?”

“Yeah. He can be a shell, but I need him to be conscious enough to see me drill holes into his unlucky cartlidge.”

Jimin smirked. “I like it. Fine, I’ll stop just before he’s gone. Takes away a little bit of my fun, though.” He shrugged. “You know I like watching their minds leave their bodies.”

“All too well. I prefer to watch their lives slip away, but to each his own. Yours is less bloody.” Taehyung blinked down to the floor, and took a deep breath. “Find out who they are and where they are. All I care about. I’m leaving this one to you, Jimin.”

“I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry any. I'm guessing the Colites are on the back burner?"

Taehyung snorted. "I'd say so, yeah."

"What a shame. I was looking forward to it... Taehyung?” Jimin started, and Taehyung already wanted to end it. “Keep me in there, alright?” He tapped his own temple. “Tell me if you need to. Don’t let it fester. Can’t have your head getting necrotic on me.”

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Taehyung said, and his voice was dry. “They’re already dead to me. When I find them, they’ll know it, too.”


Heels clicked on the floors. Hips moved with little to no effort, side to side, swishing like a cat’s tail. Hands in his pockets and chin lifted high, eyelids hooded, all eyes were on Jimin when he walked straight for the inhabited holding cell.

Guards stepped aside. Jimin smiled tantalizingly at them, a tease by blood, never ask him to help it or he’d grab your thigh under the table.

The cell door rattled behind him. A guard whispered in his wake. His eyes glamored in the low lighting, Jimin let his head lull back, and swiped his tongue across his bottom lip.

“Caught ya, didn’t I?”

The intruder sneered up at him, legs spread on the chair and thighs flat. Straps held him down securely. 

“You’re just as intolerable as the stories say.”

“Ah, yes, the stories. Rude, isn’t it?” Hips living to kill, Jimin leant down in front of him, pressed a finger into his chest. “Kissing and telling.”

“Kiss enough and it gets around.”

“Precisely why I stopped letting them live,” he said, and inched his finger up, a familiar excitement flourishing under his skin when the man’s eyes lit up at the touch. “They just had to run their mouths. Can’t give anyone anything good without them ruining it.”

“Where’s the Viper?”

Jimin’s finger deadended on his collarbone, caught off guard, not that it showed through his poker face.

“Oh, you need some training, don’t you? We’re talking about me, not him.” His finger picked back up, skipped to his neck. “I hear his name enough.”

“I just didn’t think they’d send in the cat before the snake. Thought the boss would handle me, not you.”

“Don’t you think it’s a bit impolite to assume that I can’t handle the bad guys all on my own?” Jimin asked, eyes shaded like the dark everlying across his words, finger dragging slower and slower along the anomaly’s jugular.

“The only thing you can do is curl up in a lap all pretty-like.”

“Pretty-like?” he toyed owlishly, wishing his mouse would squirm just a bit more, wriggle it’s tail about so he could catch it and string it up until it thrashed.

The prisoner sneered at his attempt to wind-up a veneer.

“Watching ragged strays like you try to make-believe a house cat makes my stomach fucking churn.”

The finger on his Adam’s apple sharpened, turned knife-like, and bladed up his throat, drew a mouth-watering, coral line up to his chin.

“Do not mistake me for a purring cat. I could tear you to shreds just when you think I’m about to roll over,” Jimin hissed, embedded his nail just below the crescent of his bottom lip. “You ever meet a feral cat, Jinyoung?”

One end of his lips inched up, enthralled.

“I have now, Siren.”

Chapter Text

Hybrids were created to undergo stress. They were made to bend and bend until they punctured themselves, but never break. They were spawned to take the most hideous of acts like nothing short of a small pin-prick, simply because humans were capable of devising the greatest of sins made tangible.

Of those sins, a weak hybrid could not withstand them. Could not withstand the countless abuse cases, riddled with scorched skin and missing appendages, covered in detailings of sexual assault with an obherrence great enough to leave then internally damaged.

The hybrid cases spoken of in courts, brought to attention during the many attempts in bringing stricter laws forward in protecting hybrids that inevitably failed, they were the very epitome of humanity’s horrors.

Thankfully, hybrids were modified to survive humanity’s pin-pricks. Even if it left them faceless, fearless, opened from the inside out, they were to see another day.

Yoongi thought that was the cruelest process that went into creating a hybrid in a jar—making sure they wouldn’t crumble in a human’s tortuous hands too soon.  

No one likes a quitter.

Jungkook wasn’t one. God, he wasn’t, and Yoongi couldn’t decide if he should be grateful or just beg God to finally put him out of his misery.

Laying there in bed, body still limp after Taehyung eased him under the blankets and whispered something that Yoongi’s war-flashed ears couldn’t catch, Jungkook looked like he’d finally punctured himself.

The worst part was knowing he’d still wake up from this. And he’d come back from this, like humans hadn’t bent and bent him until his bones turned to elastic and his mind too.

Subjected to those good ol’ human horrors, left to degrade within himself, turning to bits and pieces anytime someone even so much as jabbed at him, because admittedly, he was as stable as a pile of thin, first-fallen snow.

Yoongi sat on the edge of the bed, grimacing every time he let his eyes graze of his fallen ear. The inflammation had settled. A pill bottle sat on the bedside table and Yoongi half-wondered how he was going to get those down Jungkook’s throat, and half-wondered when. If the boy choked due to a lax throat and less than helpful gag reflex, he’d be up for the Viper’s frankly nonexistent mercy.

For now, he watched. The boy’s eyes twitched ever so often. He wasn’t completely unconscious, he hadn’t been when Taehyung laid him in bed, but he was wiped out. Physically he couldn’t manage the strength to move, and Yoongi imagined mentally, he was but a twig ready to snap, holding up that pulsing brain of his, overrun with troubles and thoughts.

Always trying to look ahead. Always trying to find the next way to be a good boy. Always on his toes.

It was the opposite result that Taehyung was looking for when he made the nearsighted decision to snatch him up from a rival gang and domesticate him, but everyone involved knew ahead of time—domestication was running the feral out, and they knew feral all too well.

Feral didn’t just leave.

When Jungkook’s eyelids inched up, and his swollen eyes blinked around him, Yoongi tried to wrap his head around feral having two different meanings. 

He had been feral once, learned how to be inside of four walls, but Jungkook wasn’t his type of feral. Jungkook was the type of feral that didn’t understand what a good hand was when it came for his ears. 

Jungkook’s cracked open eyes didn’t wince any. Yoongi had dimmed the lights. He knew all too well what it felt like to be bombarded by bright lights after a cranial combustion. Felt like the white-hot spray of a bullet fired too close to his ear.

“Hey, buddy,” Yoongi said softly, and before Jungkook could really come to, he settled his hand on his chest. “Hey. Stay calm for me, keep laying back.”

“Hyung?” Jungkook asked, and flickered his eyes down at the hand on top of him, but found the rest of the room more imperative. “T—Tae?”

“Taehyung is with Jimin. They had to talk about some pretty boring stuff, so he left you with me. He gave you a kiss before he left, though, I promise,” he reassured, and let his hand grow heavy as an anchor. “Is that okay with you, that you’re with me?”

“In Tae’s room?”

“Mhm. I can be in his room, but just because he wants me to watch you. No one’s in trouble for this. Is that okay?”

His uneasiness was expected. In the grand scheme of things, Yoongi was a stranger to him. On the outside, due to his overly friendly disposition, some would say Jungkook didn’t know strangers—but that was before. Sitting with the Violets and holding a show and tell was before

Now, his guard was up, and he’d never been alone with Yoongi.

The last time he wasn’t with Taehyung, someone came around the corner and tried to steal him away. He didn’t like being stolen. Only by Taehyung, of course, in the midst of gunfire ricocheting off the walls and a so-called Jimin bustling around the corner, but only then.

Big eyes watched Yoongi like a prey too close to their predator, waiting for the surge in muscles, the quick, unexpected lurch forward, the swipe that could press him to the bed in one harsh blow. 

His tired head was circling around itself. 

Kind Yoongi, who spoke to him sweetly in between cutting Taehyung with his sharp words. 

Deadly Yoongi, who handled guns like the old friends he watched die from them. 

Unknown Yoongi, on the side of his bed, applying a constant pressure to his chest, a jack of all trades, who could pick and pull which trade he felt like today.

But Taehyung left him with this man. Entrusted him to this man while he was caught up in all of this mess. Mind hazy and heart hurting, he wormed past all of the nonsense to get to the trust he held for Taehyung. That one was unflawed.

He felt more sedated now than he did in the dentist chair.

Jungkook’s ear twitched. He winced. It could be the whirling of his head, but he swore doing that hurt worse earlier. The fingers he had on the blankets tightened, and Yoongi’s eyes breezed over to the movement. He never missed a beat.

“It’s okay, hyung. Tae’s okay? Jiminie?”

“They’re all okay, buddy. They’re more worried about you than anything. You had a bad spell there. How are you feeling?”

“I… I probably shouldn’t tell anyone but Tae.”

Yoongi smiled. Oh, how lovely this species was. “You can tell me. Sometimes Jimin likes to say I’m like a confessional. Do you know what that is?”

He shook his head. “Nuh-uh.”

“It’s a place you go to church to tell all of your sins to. I think it’s a bunch of malachary, if you ask me—” Jungkook’s nose scrunched up in a borderline smile, “—but nothing ever leaves the confessional. Jimin calls me one because you can always tell me anything, and it won’t leave me and you.”

“So, that means, you don’t tell anyone else?”

“Not a soul. Just yours and mine. I’m an open book, but I always close.”

Jungkook thought back to all the times he heard hybrids didn’t have souls, that their blood wasn’t the same, either. Yoongi thought he had a soul?

“Then, I… maybe I can tell you,” he said, like the answer to the mystery of his lifetime was about to come out of his mouth. “Tired. I’m tired, and Tae ordered me, so I think that’s why I’m really tired. My ear hurts. I don’t like how it feels. Heavy? Kinda heavy. I feel far away.”

“Those are a lot of feelings. But can I just say, how well you said them?”

Jungkook was too sleepy to puff up, but he would if he could. “Huh?”

“Three months go and you would have told me you were bad. Just bad, because that’s all you could put together. You just really are blooming right before our eyes, aren’t you?”

Jungkook didn’t understand. He’d just woken up from a bloody, mental breakdown, after an intruder prevailed the Violets’ security and almost succeeded in abducting the hidden jewel of the Viper’s, injuring him in the process, and Yoongi was blowing smoke up his cottontail.

He was too tired to see the meticulous methods curling right on top of Yoongi’s tongue.

A distraction. He wasn’t the one meant to pull Jungkook back together, but until Taehyung could get here, he had to make due with what he had in the meantime. Distraction. If he couldn’t pull Jungkook together, he’d pull him away. If they strayed from the current chaos for long enough, the hybrid had a fighting chance.

Yoongi never liked talking about the cause when he woke up from his own mental power outage. It only dragged him back in like an undertow.

He wasn’t inside the hybrid’s head, but he figured he’d like to keep his clear, too.

Besides, sue him. The boy had dipped right back into hell after being through it a hundred times, and Yoongi had a fuck you ready for anyone who had an issue with inflating the boy’s ego a little bit. He just wanted to see some light in those eyes again.

“I am?”

“You are. Hearing you talk is like a damn present, every time, because you just get better and better at it,” Yoongi said, and kneaded into Jungkook’s chest. The boy almost fell through the mattress, so relaxed that he dropped. “I know you’re tired. Don’t move too much. You said your ear is hurting, right?”

Jungkook nodded. “A little.”

“Hoseok prescribed a medication for that very reason. He’s always trying to shove pills down someone’s throat, but I really think you should take these. Do you wanna know what they’re gonna do?”

Jungkook linked his index fingers together. “Uh-huh.”

“They’ll bring down the swelling in your ear, all that redness and puffiness will calm down, just like you have. And it’s going to make that ear of yours feel better. Can you take them for me?”

His eyes shifted from Yoongi to the bottle on the table. His heart thumped. Trust nobody but Taehyung. Someone who might as well be a stranger trying to put an unknown substance into his body made him nervous, and rightfully so.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t?” Yoongi asked, and hummed with a smirk. “Smart. Smarter than I thought. Don’t take pills strangers put in the palm of your hand. Could be cyanide.”

“Cyanide?”

“It’s a pill that takes you out quicker than you take it. Consider any pill dangerous, bunny.” He picked the bottle up from the table and the hybrid wearily watched him unscrew it. “Consider any drink poisoned or drugged. Unless given to you by someone trusted, don’t take it.”

Jungkook’s good ear quirked to the side when Yoongi shook a pill into his scarred up hand, and rolled it around with his thumb.

“Hyung?”

“So you’ve gotta trust me, yeah?”

Palm to his mouth, Yoongi knocked the pill down his throat. He’d taken enough medications to thwart the need for washing it down. His apple bobbed, and he smiled Jungkook’s way.

“See? Won’t do much for me because your dosage is so small, but it also won’t make me froth at the mouth anytime soon.”

Jungkook pursed his lips, eyelids heavy when he blinked in thought, and then so slowly, measured with taped off courage, he stuck his hand out. It shook in the air, from trauma, stress, and the anxiety of a war criminal offering him drugs.

“Hoseokie would never give me bad things to take.”

“Poor guy doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Until you put a fake spider on his exam table and he throws a thermometer at your face, but that’s a story for another time.”

Finally. Finally, the smallest of a giggle trickled out of Jungkook’s mouth. It sounded good on his tired tongue and in between his dreary words. For a boy normally bouncing out of his seat, his exuberant voice had come out grey all along, and it was taking a toll on Yoongi’s normally toll-free heart. 

A breath of fresh air.

“Spiders are scary…”

“That they are, bunny. Ask him about it some day. He’d love to talk about it,” Yoongi said, dropped a pill onto Jungkook’s hand, and looked to the old glass of water on the bedside table, from before the ground shook beneath them. “Let me get you some water. Your throat’s too dry to swallow that.”

“Right there,” he answered, and pointed at the glass next to him. “Didn’t finish it this morning.”

Yoongi smiled. “Oh, didn’t see that. Thank you, Jungkook.”

He filled up the glass in the bathroom. 

Combs and brushes were laid out on the counter space. Fur softener in a container with the lid placed neatly on, never left ajar, because he never wasted what Taehyung spent his money on. A towel strung up next to the bathtub, still damp from this morning.

Just another normal morning for the hybrid. If only he could have known. Would he have put his bows in his hair if he knew they’d be sitting in Hoseok’s examination room, forgotten and a little beaten up?

Yoongi sighed to himself. What a fucking mess. The boy couldn’t even have a routine without some schmucks coming out of the woodworks to ruin it. 

He sat back down on the edge of the bed, where Jungkook had sat up a smidge more, fingertips rubbing against the blankets, ear twitching momentarily before it fell back onto his head.

“If it’s worth anything, I like your wonky ear.”

Jungkook took the glass of water, double checked the corner of Yoongi’s mouth for any frothing, and let the pill sit on the tip of his lips. 

“You do?”

“Yeah,” he said fondly, but Jungkook could have easily taken it as a tease. “Really makes your eyes pop.”

Jungkook almost choked on his water, chuckles spewing from his mouth like the pill tried to, but he swallowed fitfully, shaking his head to clear away the unpleasant taste of a pill that sat too long.

Yoongi continued, “And not in the way that they do when they’re scooped out. I meant, like, the color—you know, making jokes in this line of work is a chore.”

Hyung.”

“Poor timing on my part. My bad. You okay?”

The hybrid shakily handed the glass back to him with a nod, even though his throat burned and there might be some water up his nose.

“I’m okay. Pills are hard.”

“They are hard,” Yoongi agreed with a snort, they’d be easier if you didn’t have me fucking with you. “Which is why one day we’re going to make you all better so you can stop taking them. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Jungkook’s shoulders wiggled a little. “Yeah… it’d be nice.”

“For now, let’s get that medicine kicking in. Lay back, bub, and rest your little head.”

Hearing Yoongi talk like that always startled Jungkook. It was like all the lamps turned on in Yoongi’s dark and damp head, and he drew the curtains, and light just filtered in. All for the little hybrid that made his heart croak. 

There was just something about the boy. Originally, it was simply that he was a hybrid. Hybrids were the only good thing about this damned Earth, if you asked Yoongi. They were created by basketcase scientists looking to fulfill their sick urges, and out came the flowers that rose up from the cracked ground of humanity.

How hybrids managed to bring beauty into such an ugly world that called them nothing but filthy put Yoongi’s mind in the corner and told him to cover his ears.

But then it wasn’t just because he was a hybrid. Then it was because he was Jungkook. The endearing means of everything he did twisted Yoongi up in his green vines and swallowed him whole into his bloom, because Jungkook truly was a flower in the desert, one who needed no rain, no attention, just seeped with nectar for whatever creature wanted to harvest it from him—good or bad.

And maybe Yoongi just so desperately needed to see something good in this world. 

Bloodshed had drained him. Betrayal had wounded him. Loss had alienated him. The boy, on the other hand, had done nothing but crown prospect as his victor and spark a chance of hope within him.

He situated the blankets around Jungkook, tucked them in very lightly, didn’t want the boy getting too warm when his ear already had his head hot.

“When is Tae coming back?”

“I don’t know, bud. He’s making sure everything is safe for you, and we both know he won’t cut any corners when it comes to that.”

Jungkook didn’t know what corners had to do with any of this. “H—He’s okay, right?” 

It didn’t matter that he already asked that. Being away from his owner at a time like this was hard on his instincts, and the only thing keeping him at bay was knowing his owner had taken the extra steps to leave him with someone capable.

“He’s okay. Perfectly okay. Not a scratch on him. He’s doing what he has to do, even if he wants to be with you right now. Now it’s your turn. You have to do your part too, and that’s getting some rest so your head can clear up by the time he’s back.”

“But I can’t—I can’t sleep, hyung. Tae isn’t here, the bad guy is, my ear—”

“Hey, hey, don’t go gettin’ lost on me again, now. We just got you settled,” Yoongi tutted, and put his hand on his chest again, watched the boy’s raised fur smooth out quite quickly. “Taehyung will be back. You’re the only thing on his mind right now, and the only thing he wants to come back to. Don’t forget that.”

“But—”

And,” he interrupted, “the bad guy is far, far away from you, and he won’t ever get near you again. No one will allow it.”

“He’s locked away?”

“Locked away and under Jimin’s eye. You don’t think Jimin would ever let him get to you, do you?”

His healthy ear squinted. “No.”

“Then calm down. Your ear will heal with due time. Until then, the meds I gave you are going to help with the pain. Now, can you do your part, Jungkook?”

Jungkook looked conflicted. “Wanna.”

“You can,” he said quietly, and brushed his hand back and forth, knew he’d hear purrs if Jungkook were linked with a feline bloodline. “You can. You just gotta relax and let your head take a break.”

If Jungkook knew how to be eloquent, he’d say his head felt like it was going to break instead, but instead, he simply whined in frustration.

“I knew this wouldn’t be easy for you, so I brought something,” Yoongi said, and even the socially inadequate hybrid could hear the hesitation in his voice. He was second guessing himself even as he spoke. “Something to help you sleep.”

Jungkook frowned. Normally he’d jump out of his skin and choke on the stars in his eyes, go really, really, hyung!? but not today. Today he was out of orbit.

“You brought something… for me?”

“I did,” he said with a single nod, and reached for below the bed, where he smuggled his secret before the hybrid could wake up. “Do you want to see?”

“Please,” Jungkook said, peering down below, trying to extend far enough to see before Yoongi could actually present it. 

It wasn’t anything he’d ever expect. When Taehyung mentioned it in a fleeting joke, he hadn’t taken it seriously. He never actually thought he’d see a children’s book in Yoongi’s hands, long fingers brushed across the thick lettering.

“I brought you a book. One that might help put you to sleep. Have you ever been read a bedtime story before, Jungkook?”

And the way he asked it, Jungkook could well up in tears if he weren’t all dried up. He asked like he already knew the answer, and was just waiting so he could change it. A lull of caution carried in his tone, because most people didn’t like being reminded of their shitty childhoods. 

Well, Jungkook’s definitely took the cake, and Yoongi waned at the thought of a child never getting read a bedtime story. Jungkook should have already fallen asleep before he could hear the ending, just to bother his parents the next day to finish it for him.

Instead, he shook his head.

“No. I’ve never… been read anything before. We learned how to read a little, but not a lot. That looks like a very pretty book. We didn’t get to see pretty books.”

Yoongi smiled apologetically. “It is a pretty book. I think you’ll really like it. Can I tell you something about this very book?”

“Mhm.”

“It belonged to someone else before me. Not like it normally does, passed around in a library. It was someone I knew. He fought alongside me a good couple of weeks.” Jungkook looked heavy on his pillow. “He was older, but not by much, only a couple of years, which was why it annoyed me that he called me kid all the time.”

Yoongi flashed a smile down at the book. Nostalgia crept up into his eyes. 

“He had a little girl. He called her every single night and read her stories to help her sleep. Sometimes we were at camp, and he could go to sleep with her. Other times we were in hiding, in bushes and under trees, but he’d act like he was in camp—he never wanted her to know he didn’t have a bed. He’d say goodnight and stay up for the rest of the night trying to keep the rain off the pages.”

“Was she really little?”

“She was big enough to play in the playground, but not big enough to go places alone. She was still little, loved the sound of his voice every time her mom answered the phone for her.”

“He loved her a lot to lie to her like that to make her feel better. I know Tae does it sometimes.”

“Because he loves you a lot too.”

“I know…” he said, even if he’d never heard it.

“But you see, this guy was still at war, even when he was on the phone with her. He never missed a night. One night, he called her, even though we were just on the outskirts of the enemy’s barracks, and I guess, well, I guess we were never hiding from them, really.” Yoongi’s golden eyes turned burnt orange. “Because they knew we were there. An eye on was on us. Shot him right in the chest mid-story. He hung up on her before he even looked down, but I still wonder if she heard it happen. She had to have. Had to hear the bang.”

“Hyung…”

“Like I said, this belonged to him. This was the book he was reading her that night. I didn’t want it to die with him. I thought if I held onto it, maybe the line he was reading didn’t have to end there, you know?” Burnt orange to merigold. “And maybe one day I could finish it for him.”

Jungkook wondered how he never got choked up. How he could lose so many people and not get lost in talking about them. 

But Yoongi never shared stories of his past, only a few to a few, and liked to spread it out by a year or so. Jungkook didn’t need a human brain to be aware of that. He knew a rarity when he saw one.

“With me?” he asked. “You’d finish it with me?”

“Of course I would. He’d want me to read it to you. He was a big believer that words could heal all wounds. You just had to listen hard enough.”

“I would love if hyung read to me.”

“Okay, but don’t think you have to stay awake for it. This is to help you sleep, remember? Don’t fight it just because you want to listen for longer.”

“Even if it’s a good story?”

“I can always get more books, Jungkook. This won’t be our last storytime if it’s something you like.”

“Okay,” he said. That little bit of excitement was coming back into his voice. 

Yoongi nodded at the bed. “Get comfy. As comfy as you can get. Do you need anything before we start?”

“No. Don’t need anything.”

Jungkook wriggled onto his side until he was comfortable, fluffed the blankets up around his chest, shimmied until his shirt wasn’t wrinkled underneath him, and then went still. Not a stir, not a squirm, only a good, hefty sigh.

“Good?”

“Good.”

“Good. We’ll start with the name. I’d say the universe was trying to tell me something long ago. This story is called ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit.’”

Jungkook’s eyes widened. “Rabbit?”

“Uh-huh, but this rabbit isn’t much like you. He’s a mischievous, little rabbit who’s up to no good.”

His hands twitched in front of his face. “I’m not mischievous.”

“No. Never.” He smirked a little. It wasn’t entirely without mischief. “And certainly not up to no good.”

“No…” he murmured. “Jungkook’s good.”

“Jungkook is good,” he said back, his heart growing in size like the boy’s sleep clouds. He clea