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wishing for something called love

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Metallic.

The word generally used to describe the taste of blood. For most, it’s unpleasant. Biting your tongue hurts. Coughing up blood because it’s in your lungs, repulsive. Cannibalism, wrong. Blood is not supposed to serve as fuel when it runs down someone’s throat. It’s not supposed to be gratifying or addictive or cause your entire body to soar with stamina. It’s not supposed to do any of those things, yet it does.

At first, it made no sense to him. When the broad-chested man standing at his side held up a bag with red content and told him to drink, Taehyung did not understand. He’d been through enough in life to know what that bag contained. Yet, when he refused and the man more or less forced the substance down his throat, Taehyung didn’t taste metal. He tasted euphoria.

Now, three months later, he’s longing for that same feeling. Drives himself up the walls sometimes when the hunger becomes too intense.

No one in the coven can tell him what’s wrong with him. Why he can’t stomach human blood anymore. During the first few weeks after he turned, keeping the blood down was no issue. It became a normality. Drinking blood almost daily to keep himself content. The nausea came unexpectedly. From one day to another. At first they thought it was the blood bags, but even when Taehyung was allowed to drink warm, freshly-drawn blood, he was hurling not even a minute after.

The last method they wanted to try was a risk. Taehyung knew that going into this. Even so, he’s here now, sitting pressed up against a willing human being with her throat exposed, waiting for his fangs to make an appearance.

“Maybe try to kiss me?” she suggests, leaning closer with a devilish grin on her delicate face. Taehyung swallows as his eyes flicker town to those red, puffy, warm lips. He feels nothing once he pulls away, not even when the girl snakes her arm around his waist to keep him close.

The pounding music is supposed to relax the guests of the bar. It’s meant to almost hypnotize, and with a brief sweep of his eyes across the dim-lit space, it seems to be working on everyone but Taehyung. Every vampire and every human in the other booths are enthralled with one another, and Taehyung wants so bad it physically hurts.

“Not working?” the girl hums sweetly, dipping her head down to smear her lips along Taehyung’s jawline.

“No,” Taehyung breathes out. “I’m sorry, I’m not into—“

“Girls?” she finishes for him, smiling again. “Not even when I do this—“ There’s a sudden pressure between his legs and Taehyung’s knee jerks, hitting the underside of the table. He hisses, a mixture of pain and arousal, but it does work. Something sharp scrapes against his tongue, and though he isn’t sure if defending himself or acting on lust is what brought his fangs out, Taehyung doesn’t waste a second before he sinks them into the girl’s neck.

A delicious gasp spills from her lips, but not as delicious as the taste of blood exploding on his tongue. Relief shoots through him and he grabs on, sucking hard to feel more, to taste more. It’s the euphoria he’s been craving. That utter bliss he hasn’t experienced in an excruciatingly long time.

It’s exhilarating and the girl has to physically push him off with what little strength she’s got left, moaning at him that he’s had enough. Taehyung mutters out a complaint but slumps against the booth’s backrest, tongue coming out to lick the remnants around his mouth.

The pounding music becomes clearer as the high wears off, raising in volume until Taehyung has to cover his ears.

Then comes the nausea.

“Um, I—“ His vision starts to blur, the girl in front of him with a bloody neck duplicates and Taehyung retches. Squeezes his throat with his hand, a weak attempt at preventing what would be a humiliating disaster. “Oh, no, I’m so sorry—“ He gets to his feet on wobbly legs, stumbling out of the bar with several pairs of eyes staring after him. Outside is no different, but Taehyung doesn’t have time to worry about who sees him. Instead he flees around the corner just in time before sinking to his knees on the grass and emptying his stomach of every single drop of blood.

It burns and he coughs uncontrollably, tears welling in his eyes and spilling down his cheeks. “Fuck!” he yells, slamming his fist down on the grass. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK—“

“Taehyung!” Someone grabs his shoulder, startling him enough to stop yelling. “Shut up!” Namjoon hisses, pushing him down to sit on his ass in the grass. It’s wet and uncomfortable, but it’s nothing in comparison to the burn in his throat.

Taehyng blinks up at him through teary eyes, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand. “Hyung, I couldn’t do it. I— I tried but I…” The reality of the situation finally sinks in. Taehyung failed, again. The last option they resorted to wasn’t a success either. Choking up, he chokes out weakly, “I couldn’t.”

“No, you can’t do this here,” Namjoon rushes out, grabbing his arm. “Pull yourself together. Come on.”

It hurts when Namjoon more or less yanks him off the ground and down the busy street away from the club, but Taehyung knows there is no use of struggling against it. They might be of the same… kind, but Namjoon is still decades older than him, which means he’s uncomparably stronger. Taehyung wouldn’t have a chance even if he tried. He knows better though. Learned it the hard way.

They walk two blocks before Namjoon turns a corner and finally lets him go. “Do you know how near impossible it was for me to even get you into that place? And you make a scene like this?”

They continue down a less busy street, Taehyung trailing behind with his head bent low. Rubbing his arm, he mutters back, “It’s not like I can help it.”

“You didn’t have to scream and get everyone’s attention,” Namjoon shoots back angrily, barely looking back at him over his shoulder. “That place doesn’t accept fledglings and now they know—“

“Don’t call me that.”

“It’s what you are, Taehyung, whether you like it or not.” Namjoon stops abruptly, and turns around. Taehyung nearly knocks into him. “Until you’ve proven yourself fit for the council to clear you, you’re a fledgling.”

Taehyung used to walk tall. People at his university respected him, and looked up to him. He’s lost all of that. Now, everyone he’s surrounded by makes him feel small. Insignificant. Especially Namjoon who is tall and majestic and untouchable. Looking away, Taehyung says, “They said weeks, not months.”

“Yes well, your case is different. Fledglings rarely have issues drinking blood, but you do.”

“Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe I’m not a vampire.”

Namjoon sighs. “Taehyung, you have fangs and your heart is no longer beating in your chest. You’re a vampire.”

“Worth a shot.”

At that, Namjoon smiles. A white, pearly smile that shows off his sharp fangs. “Come on, let’s go before someone sends security after us.”

“Would you get in trouble?” Taehyung asks as he hurries after, instinctively looking behind them to see if they are being followed.

“Maybe.” Namjoon glances back at him with a smug look. “Depends on which security guard they send my way.”

Realizing, Taehyung makes a gagging sound. “Gross.”

Namjoon just laughs. Careless and loud, as if he knows that the looks they receive from people on the street are nothing but admiration. Kim Namjoon has a talent for catching people’s eyes, and Taehyung has no doubt that was also the case before he turned into a vampire with hypnotizing features. His good looks are near intimidating, yet even so, he’s also the kindest man Taehyung’s ever met. The solemn persona he wears is often just a barrier he puts up around anyone he doesn’t want close to him. Three months of knowing him and Taehyung’s been lucky enough to meet the real Namjoon.

The memories from the night he turned are ones Taehyung would rather forget, but not the part where Namjoon saved his life. Well… saved him.

The worst part is that Taehyung doesn’t know who turned him. Who killed him. The only detail they know is from what coven the vampire was from, because the bite was messy. Intended to kill. If it wasn’t for Namjoon, Taehyung would be dead now. As in really dead. Gone. No longer walking or talking. Taehyung can’t remember how Namjoon found him, but when he woke up in what appeared to be the inside of a courtroom, Namjoon told him everything. You died with my blood in your system because I fed it to you. You’re a vampire now.

There was no time to be in denial because Taehyung was rushed out of the court the minute he woke up and was taken to the headquarters where he would begin his training. Namjoon stayed by his side for the first few days, taking it upon himself to personally ease Taehyung into the world he was just introduced to. That’s why Taehyung believes he did surprisingly well. Having Namjoon close by was a comfort. He’d been the first face Taehyung saw after waking up, the one who spoke to him kindly and with patience. The court, that Taehyung would later learn are the vampires that are in charge, were not as understanding of his situation. Most likely because he’s only one in a long line of recently-turned vampires who don’t know of the creature’s existence until they become one themselves. For Namjoon, it was different. Taehyung learned that he’d never before taken someone under his wing the way he did with Taehyung. The bond they formed is mutually strong, and though Namjoon rarely shows it, Taehyung knows he is deeply cared for by the other.

Taehyung would not be able to list everything Namjoon’s done for him. The one thing he will never take for granted is Namjoon’s patience. Even when he’s mad, when he yells, he always takes the time to teach or lecture or even just listen. And it’s not easy. Taehyung knows that. He knows how annoyingly dense he can be sometimes, and still, Namjoon doesn’t judge him.

Despite all of this, there is a part of him that worries Namjoon will give up on him if Taehyung can’t get the not-being-able-to-drink-blood problem under control. If he can’t feed, he’ll grow even weaker than he already is and the court won’t want anything to do with him. And if they throw him out, there’s nothing Namjoon can do because he answers to them. To put it simply, Taehyung should be panicking right now because their final attempt failed and he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next. During the walk back to the headquarters, he stays calm though. Namjoon’s presence is calming enough, even though he is being quiet. Taehyung just has to trust there will be another solution for him. There has to be.

The hunger isn’t bad yet, but there is a constant prickling sensation in him that Taehyung knows he won’t be rid of until he successfully feeds. It will get worse too. There will come a point when the pain is excruciating and he’ll have urges to kill himself just to be free of the suffering. That’s what he’s been told. Namjoon promised him it won’t get to that, but after tonight, Taehyung doesn’t have much hope left.

There’s dried up, crusty blood on the collar of his shirt and the smell of metal is intense. An unwavering reminder of his failure. As they walk down the corridors of the headquarters, heads are turned at the sight of him and doors open because of the smell. Taehyung even hears someone laughing. Being a fledgling hasn’t been easy, and on top of that, he’s the new vampire that can’t keep blood down. The few connections he made have already moved on to avoiding him, weirded out by his abnormality. Taehyung can’t blame them.

“Wait, why are we going this way?” he asks Namjoon when the other takes a right turn instead of the usual left toward Taehyung’s room.

“We’re going to the court,” Namjoon tells him, not bothering to slow down.

“Already?” Taehyung questions, struggling to keep up. “Can’t I at least clean myself up first?” He’s a mess, and though it wouldn’t be the first time he’d present himself as such in front of the court, the preference is to at least look sane.

Namjoon finally stops when they reach the double doors leading into the courtroom. “They’re already waiting for us.”

Frowning, Taehyung turns to look at the doors, noticing the meeting in progress sign. “Wait, did you tell them to expect us?” Glaring back at Namjoon, he adds, “You knew this wouldn’t work!?”

“Tae, stop yelling.” Namjoon reaches out to take a hold of his arm, but Taehyung pulls it back. Namjoon rolls his eyes and puts his hands on his hips. “I knew it was a possibility, but so did you so don’t make me out to be the villain here.”

“They’re gonna exile me, aren’t they?”

“Don’t be dramatic,” Namjoon says with a sigh. He’s scowling. “I told you, that’s only happened a couple of times since I turned.”

“And who says I won’t be the third?”

“I do.”

Again, Taehyung’s finding it hard to trust Namjoon’s word on this. His confidence in the older vampire has failed him too many times for Taehyung to find the same comfort in it still. Swallowing past the lump in his throat, he asks, “Will Jungkook be there at least?”

“I think so,” Namjoon says, reaching out to fix the collar of Taehyung’s shirt. “He should be.”

“So what is this about?” Taehyung asks, looking up at Namjoon with empty eyes. The other is not that much taller than him, but it always appears that way and Taehyung feels small in situations like this. When he has screwed up again and Namjoon is there to offer any kind of support he can. When he shows his more protective side that — though Taehyung appreciates it — he wishes wouldn’t have to make such regular appearances.

“I need to report what happened,” Namjoon explains as he is correcting what he can of Taehyung’s more or less disastrous appearance.

“And then?” Taehyung prompts, like a clueless child. In some absurd ways, it’s what he is. “What will the court decide?”

Taking a step back, Namjoon breathes out somewhat tiredly, “I don’t know, Taehyung.”

“Great, then they might as well have someone on standby ready to escort me out,” Taehyung replies, a fake chirpiness in his tone.

Namjoon looks at him pointedly. “Look, I know you’re worried and I know the court has been hard on you. It’s only because they don’t know what’s wrong with you either. But they are good people. This coven is good and you don’t have to worry that they will throw you out on the street. Just trust me on that, alright?”

Feeling a little guilty now, Taehyung ducks his head and mumbles out, “Okay. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. Just lift your chin up and don’t make a scene in there.”

At that, Taehyung huffs, crossing his arms over his chest. “That was one time.”

“One time too much,” Namjoon says, and Taehyung can’t argue against that. “Now, come on.”

Taking a deep breath, Taehyung follows behind as Namjoon pushes the doors open and enters the courtroom. There are rows of raised stands built in a half-circle around the bench where the court sits. Leading up to that circular shape of the room is a small pathway between the tall stands, and it’s by the end of it that the two of them see Jungkook.

The court has yet to acknowledge their presence, so Taehyung hurries up to Jungkook, suddenly feeling the urge to cry. “Jungkook,” he croaks out when he reaches the younger, and Jungkook just has enough time to turn around before Taehyung is wrapping his arms around him.

“Oh my god, what happened?” Jungkook gasps, hugging Taehyung back and looking over his shoulder at Namjoon.

Namjoon just shrugs. “Guess.”

Jungkook’s face falls and he detaches himself from Taehyung, keeping his hands on his shoulders while seeking out his eyes. “It happened again?”

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” Taehyung sniffles, holding onto the front of the younger’s shirt.

“Hey,” Jungkook calls softly, bringing a hand to the side of Taehyung’s face. “We’ll figure it out, okay? Don’t worry, hyung. You’ll be fine.”

Strangely, Jungkook’s words manage to calm him down. In a way, Jungkook is the one who understands him more than anyone right now. Not because he’s gone through the same thing, but because he’s the second youngest vampire in their coven. It’s odd, because technically, Taehyung is older because he was born as a human before Jungkook. But he turned after and so in this life, he’s the younger one. Jungkook informed him early on though that he only turned within a year of Taehyung, so Taehyung is still his hyung. In many ways with their friendship, however, it’s the other way around.

Jungkook is still more experienced than him, so Taehyung is always the one to turn to him for advice. There’s a rule in the coven that the youngest vampire has to attend every court meeting related to a new fledgling, and so Jungkook has been around since day one. Normally, this rule doesn’t guarantee a friendship like theirs, but it came naturally for them. After just a few days, Taehyung found himself wanting Jungkook around as much as possible. They got along really well too, so Jungkook did not hesitate to stay by his side.

Taehyung doesn’t notice Namjoon leaving their side until a voice cuts through the silence, calling his name. “Kim Taehyung.”

Taehyung startles in Jungkook’s hold, and the younger squeezes his shoulder in an attempt to comfort before they both walk into the court’s line of sight. Namjoon is standing in front of the court bench now, waiting for them. Taehyung can’t help the rising shame as he and Jungkook walk up to join Namjoon, feeling painfully trivial under their scrutinizing glares. He bows, as does Jungkook before leaving to sit on the sidelines, and then the appointed judge clears her throat.

“It is under my impression that you have something to report,” she says to Namjoon before her gaze falls on Taehyung, undoubtedly observing the blood on his clothes.

“Yes, your honor,” Namjoon confirms, squaring his shoulders. Taehyung can only guess how small and fragile he must look next to him. He wishes Jungkook was still standing beside him. “Taehyung-ssi had another incident drinking human blood.”

It seems the news comes as no surprise to the court members. Judging by Taehyung’s appearance, he supposes it wasn’t a hard guess. The court has been as patient as expected with Taehyung’s problem. The first few times it happened, they showed compassion. Assured Taehyung that he would be alright and that they would do everything in their power to help him. Now, with months passed, it’s apparent that they are as tired of this as he is. Taehyung wasn’t joking when he said they will exile him. Just by looking into the eyes of some of the court members, he can tell they’d rather just want him gone than having to deal with this burden.

Instead of offering options that could help as they did in the beginning, one of the members says, “And have you figured out why yet?”

Taehyung looks sideways at Namjoon then, hoping that maybe, for some reason, Namjoon hasn't told him yet and prepared to tell him and the court at the same time that yes, he figured out why. Much to Taehyung's disappointment but not surprise, Namjoon says with regret in his voice, “No, we haven’t.”

“You do understand what will happen eventually, do you not, Namjoon-ssi?”

“I do—” Namjoon starts, but he is cut off again.

“As Taehyung-ssi grows hungrier, he’ll become a danger to himself as well as us. At that point, we cannot let him stay here.”

There it is. The subtle acknowledgement that if this becomes that bad, Taehyung will be exiled.

His insides churn in his stomach, making him nauseous again. It was one thing waking up to the knowledge that he was a vampire, but this, knowing he can die as one within months, that’s something else. At least this is a version of life he’s learned to accept. Death after vampirism does not exist, and Taehyung is not ready to find that out for himself. There is no way he’ll survive on his own if he is exiled. Maybe for a few days, but eventually he’ll somehow get himself killed.

The court starts to blur before his eyes and Taehyung feels dizzy all of a sudden. He feels an arm slide around his waist and Jungkook’s voice saying something in the far distance. Next to him, Namjoon exchanges a few more words with the court and then Taehyung is being led outside. On the way, he vaguely hears someone call after them, “30 days,” and then everything around them submerges into darkness.

 

 

 

 

Taehyung gasps when his eyes fly open. His arms are scrambling for something, but then there’s a pressure holding him down, and he stops fighting. When his eyes refocus, Jungkook’s face comes into view, concern pulling at its features. “Hyung, you’re okay. You’re in your bed.”

“I passed out?” Taehyung breathes, blinking away the spots in his vision.

“The hunger and fear, most likely,” he hears Namjoon saying from somewhere in the room, and seconds later, he appears by the side of the bed as well.

“How long was I out?”

Jungkook snickers. “Like five minutes.”

Groaning, Taehyung sits up in bed, throwing his legs over the edge. He shakes his limbs before standing up, avoiding his friends’ worrying looks. He doesn’t want them seeing him like this, yet they are always around. He supposed that is why he can call them his friends. Once he’s collected himself, he turns to face them again. “So, I have 30 days?”

At that, Jungkook looks away and Namjoon scratches the side of his neck. “You heard that?”

Instead of replying, Taehyung asks almost desperately, “What are we gonna do?”

It seems they’ve tried every option there is. Hope is not as present as it was when this first started and really, Taehyung doubts they will actually find a solution. If there was one, it feels as though they would have found it by now. Maybe Taehyung isn’t meant to be a vampire. Maybe there is some kind of universal selection of turned vampires that are meant to simply starve and die. Considering he appears to be cursed with bad luck, Taehyung would not be surprised.

“Just, tell him, hyung,” Jungkook says, almost too quietly for Taehyung to decipher.

Taehyung’s eyes flicker between the two. “Tell me what?”

Namjoon visibly hesitates, fidgeting with the sleeve of his shirt, biting his lip. Then, with a defeated sigh, he says, “I think I know what might be wrong with you.”

For a moment, Taehyung just stares, not quite absorbing the meaning of Namjoon’s words. Then, shaking his head to focus, he asks, “You do?”

“I think a part of me always knew,” Namjoon starts out slowly, as if he is afraid his words will bring havoc. “This was the very last explanation I wanted to look into because it’s so rare. I only know of a few similar cases in Seoul.”

“What? What is it?” Taehyung demands, stepping closer until he’s almost in Namjoon’s personal space. Next to him, Jungkook stands from where he’d seated himself on Taehyung’s bed.

“I think…” Namjoon trails off again, and Taehyung sighs in frustration. Jungkook walks up to his side, reaching out for his arm but Taehyung shakes him off. “Just tell me,” he almost yells, frustrated by their cryptic behavior.

Again, Namjoon tries, “I think what you need is vampire blood.”

Taehyung’s brows shoot up and he barks out a laugh. “I think I’ve got plenty of that, thank you.”

“That’s not what he means,” Jungkook says softly next to him and Taehyung turns his head to look at him. It’s then that he realizes. For a split second, he entertains the idea of what Namjoon is saying, and then everything just kind of falls into place.

“Oh.”

“It’s extremely rare,” Namjoon says again. “I only personally know of one in Seoul and that’s why I didn’t think it was the reason why you couldn’t keep human blood down. But the court has given us an ultimatum and this is my last suggestion. I know this is hard to hear but… I think this is the reason.”

Jungkook’s holding Taehyung’s arm now, offering comfort that Taehyung can’t show appreciation for in this state. He feels numb. “So, you’re saying what I need… is to drink vampire blood?”

Namjoon nods. “Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”

Though he’d acknowledged the truth already, Taehyung still shudders hearing it out loud. It’s a lot to take in, so instead he continues to try and get a better idea of what that would actually mean. “And you can live like that?”

“That’s what I don’t know,” Namjoon tells him, shoulders slumping.

“But you said there was someone else in Seoul with the same problem as me?” Taehyung tries, voice growing higher in volume with every word. “They’re living aren’t they?”

“Yes. I just don’t know if it’s a way of life you’d want.”

Taehyung blinks at him. “Why, is it bad?”

“I’m telling you I don’t know. I’m just worried it might be.”

“Then let’s go talk to this person,” Taehyung suggests, slipping his arm out of Jungkook’s hold to go grab his jacket that’s hanging on the chair next to his bed. “Maybe they can help?”

“That’s what I was thinking too, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.”

“Why not?” Taehyung questions.

Namjoon’s next words are blurted out, like he’d stop himself from saying them if he’d hesitate. “They’re from the Venus coven.”

That makes Taehyung stop. “Oh.”

“Yeah.”

Taehyung looks over at Jungkook who’s been mostly quiet this whole time. He doesn’t know how much of this Jungkook was aware of, but by the guilty look on his face, Taehyung would guess he knew everything. He and Namjoon are close too and they’ve probably had several conversations about Taehyung, without Taehyung. More than anything, it makes Taehyung feel like even more of a burden. He imagines their lives were a whole lot easier before he entered the picture.

“I’ll call ahead though,” Namjoon says eventually, pulling his phone out from his back pocket. “Tell him we’re coming.”

“Okay. When do we leave?”

“As soon as he picks up and says yes.” Namjoon lifts the phone to his ear and turns to walk out to the hallway, closing the door behind him.

Taehyung immediately looks at Jungkook. “Is it just me or does this seem really weird to you too?”

“It would be weird if it wasn’t weird, hyung,” Jungkook says, walking over to slump down on Taehyung’s bed. He has a tendency to make himself comfortable here. “But you’ll be fine. Namjoon-hyung knows what he’s doing.”

Does he? is Taehyung’s first thought, but he knows Jungkook is right. Namjoon might have been hesitant to bring this up, but he seemed more confident as he went to make the phone call. Taehyung wonders who this person is. If they are a friend of Namjoon, or maybe the opposite. Taehyung doesn’t know much about the different vampire covens of Seoul yet, but he hasn’t heard many good things about Venus. If this man turns out to be the enemy, Taehyung’s not sure if he’d even offer them his help at all.

“I hope so.”

 

 

 

 

Only an hour later, Namjoon and Taehyung are off to seek out answers. Jungkook decides to stay behind, enveloping Taeyung in his arms to wish him good luck before they leave. Taehyung doesn’t know where they are going, but it’s far enough for them to take Namjoon’s car. The older vampire rarely drives — says he prefers walking or biking everywhere, and that’s how Taehyung knows they’ll leave the district.

The streets of Seoul are mostly empty as they drive through the city after 3 am. It’s a weekday, only a few lost souls wander the streets, accompanied by cars with drivers required somewhere at this hour. Taehyung still remembers what it felt like to be awake in the middle of the night as a human. Something about it always felt thrilling, like he was the only one not sleeping and that he had the power to do anything. It was the darkness of the night that made him feel alive, and it’s almost ironic how this life is now so similar. The city still sleeps while he’s awake, but the difference is that now he is supposed to be.

In the beginning, it was hard staying awake and he slept for most of the days’ 24 hours. It felt like jetlag and Taehyung barely made it out of his bed the first few days. Namjoon had told him that was normal, so he did not worry. Then with time, Taehyung’s eyes started to feel heavy only when the sun was about to rise and naturally, he adjusted to the new cycle. He would lie if he said he doesn’t like it. In fact, Taehyung’s always preferred being awake when it’s dark outside. His way of living just never allowed him that luxury. Taehyung still hasn’t sorted out his feelings toward his new living state though. Yes, he’s accepted it, but does he prefer it? He can’t tell yet. Before he died, his life wasn’t miraculous. He was just another college student unsure of what they wanted to do with their lives, majoring in computer science because he was told that would get him jobs that paid well.

Nothing has changed in terms of knowing what he wants to do with his life. His options now are just… very different.

Wanting to distract himself from his thoughts, Taehyung turns to look at Namjoon in the driver’s seat. “So where does this vampire live?”

“Just a few districts over,” Namjoon tells him, eyes still on the road. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to give Taehyung a more detailed answer, so Taehyung tries for something else.

“And you two are friends?”

At that question, Taehyung sees Namjoon’s lips twitch. “Something like that.” Then shifting so that he’s holding the steering wheel with his right hand and resting his head on the other propped up against the window, Namjoon adds, “It’s actually time I tell you about the Venus coven.”

“You think?” Taehyung jokes, earning a glare from Namjoon. He just returns a smile, leaning back in his seat to listen.

“As you already know,” Namjoon starts, looking back at the road in front of them. “Them and us are not exactly… congenial.”

Taehyung hums. “I know that, yes.”

“Well, there’s a reason for that. A very outdated reason that I fully believe should be forgotten about.”

“Okay?”

“This was years ago. Centuries, that is. The Venus coven and the Litera coven both had candidates for the chairman election. Back in those days, when the covens were living cooperatively, there was a council that ruled over them all. And the legend says that the candidate from the Venus coven was brutally murdered only days before the election. It was too close to the date to find someone else, and so the candidate from Litera was lawfully chosen as chairman. The murderer was never found, but it was a vampire who’d done it, they knew that much. And after that, Venus turned against everyone, especially Litera because they blamed them. Claimed they were behind the murder to ensure their win. There’s nothing in our history books that tell us the truth, but the rivalry still lives on until today.”

“What happened to the council?”

“It was eventually decided that each coven would have their own council, the court as we now call them. I believe it was because of the moral differences between each coven. Living under the same rules simply didn’t work anymore.”

“And the Venus coven, what are they like now?” Taehyung asks, somewhat anxiously knowing the vampire they are about to pay a visit to is from that coven.

“I honestly don’t know much,” Namjoon tells him. “Their reputation is that they are fearless, sloppy but also smart and attractive. Knows how to lure prays, if I were to put it that way. Likes to bend the rules in any which way they can. It’s just a reputation though. I haven’t interacted with many of them in my dead lifetime.”

“What about your friend?” Taehyung asks. “What’s he like?”

“He’s…” Namjoon trails off, seemingly searching for the right words. Frankly, Taehyung hasn’t heard Namjoon mention any friends before. As far as he knows, it’s just him and Jungkook. Maybe Namjoon has other people he associates with, but for the time being when Taehyung is the way he is, they most likely come second. In a way he hopes that’s true. Namjoon is too perfect to be stuck with just the two of them. “He’s special,” Namjoon says eventually, and Taehyung doesn’t think he’s going to elaborate before he opens his mouth again to continue. “He’s not the most social person I know. Likes to keep to himself. Goes out on his own terms. I think you’ll find him kind of intimidating, but he’s kind. It just takes a while for him to warm up to others.”

“Will he hiss at me if I get too close?” Taehyung chuckles dryly, remembering a certain incident a few weeks back.

Namjoon huffs out a laugh. “I doubt it, but maybe don’t risk it?”

Taehyung smiles. “Noted.”

The rest of the car drive is mostly silent, and Taehyung refocuses on the buildings outside that they pass. He’s starting to feel the hunger getting worse, little by little. What worries him is that a certain point, it will get worse much faster, from one second to the other and he won’t be ready for it. Namjoon has said that is very unlikely, but again, what Taehyung is suffering from is rare. He can’t trust that they know everything about his condition.

After a while of driving, Taehyung closes his eyes, and he doesn’t realize he’s dozed off until he jolts awake by the car screeching to a halt.

“We’re here,” he hears Namjoon say, followed by the sound of his seat belt unfastening.

Taehyung rubs the palm of his hands against his eyes, delirious. “How long did I sleep?”

“Like fifteen minutes,” Namjoon tells him before opening his door and stepping out of the car. Taehyung follows suit, unbuckling his seatbelt before pushing the car door open. He plants a foot on the ground, pushing himself out of the car, and comes to a complete stop when his eyes land on the house in front of them, a gasp escaping him.

“Holy—”

Standing majestically against the starry sky is a mansion like nothing Taehyung has ever seen. It sits on a raised hill, broad and beautiful, painted in a deep black that sends a shiver down Taehyung’s spine. Surrounding it is a glass fence and Taehyung can only guess that it is bullet proof. He can’t imagine who this vampire would want to protect himself from, but according to Namjoon, living alone and not with your coven is apparently a risk.

“He lives here alone?” Taehyung questions in awe, admiring the size of the house that Namjoon has parked in front of.

“He does,” Namjoon confirms, locking the car before starting to make his way up the up-hill driveway curved around the house and leading back to somewhere out of sight from the street. “I know he stays at the coven’s headquarters from time to time though. I think he has to. If it were up to him, he’d probably never leave this place.”

Taehyung follows Namjoon, tearing his eyes away from the house to watch where he is going. “He’s that closed-off, huh?”

“Just likes his privacy, that’s all. When he’s in the mood, he loves to have his preferred company around.”

“Preferred company?”

Namjoon shoots him a grin over the shoulder but doesn’t clarify what he means. Taehyung’s learned when not to expect an answer, so he doesn’t ask further. Instead he trails behind the other as they round the house, ending up at a secluded entrance with glass doors and a buzz code. Taehyung whistles, impressed. “This place is practically a sanctuary.”

“Usually worse,” Namjoon tells him, clicking on a button that triggers a ringing sound inside the house. “He knew we were coming so he probably eased up on the security.”

“Sounds like he’s got a lot of enemies.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

Taehyung frowns a little at that, but he doesn’t have time to dwell on it because next, the door in front of them clicks and slides open. Except no one is there. Taehyung turns to Namjoon, frowning, but the other seems unbothered by the abnormality of the situation. Instead he steps forward and into the house, and Taehyung, despite his instincts, follows.

The inside is not any less grandiose than the outside. Sleek, is the word Taehyung would use to describe its interior. Large furniture, simplistic but at the same time complex architecture, dim lighting that sets a mood Taehyung’s certain would be alluring if he wasn’t so nervous. The first floor’s open space consists of a kitchen and a living room, both grand in size. Long, smooth surfaces that appear untouched. Taehyung could almost guess that the house’s owner hasn’t been here in ages.

Namjoon doesn’t appear to be on the hunt for his friend, simply walking into the living room to drift around. Taehyung supposes he will come to them. Still, it seems odd that they’ve been in the house for at least five minutes now and the host has yet to greet them.

It’s almost as though Taehyung’s thoughts summon him.

“This room is massive,” Taehyung says to Namjoon, eyes filled with wonder as they sweep across the living room area.

“You should see the bedroom,” says a voice that does not belong to Namjoon.

It comes from somewhere behind Taehyung and he whips around, frozen in place when his eyes lands on a third person having appeared quite literally out of nowhere. The first thing that Taehyung notices is the hair — ash blond and thick, curling around his face. Next is the skin, pale like his own, but refined, like porcelain. The man is wrapped in a black, silk robe tied around his waist, appearing to wear nothing else underneath. When he speaks again, Taehyung zones in on his lips, remarkably plump. “Pardon me, I was occupied upstairs.”

It’s only then that Taehyung notices the two red holes in the man’s neck, undoubtedly bite marks from another vampire. Suddenly, his mouth feels a little dry. His tongue comes out to lick his lips and he sees how the man’s eyes follow the motion.

“Jimin, I know we’re a bit early,” Taehyung can hear Namjoon say behind him. “I apologize.”

Jimin, Taehyung echoes in his mind. It’s nice to put a face and a name to the man Namjoon’s been talking about for the past couple of hours, but even so, the mystery surrounding him doesn’t exactly cease to exist.

“No need,” Jimin says. “My companion upstairs can wait.”

Namjoon comes to stand beside Taehyung, a comfort allowing him to relax somewhat. “We would have waited if we knew you had company.”

Jimin waves him off with a delicate hand, pushing himself off the cased opening where he is leaning. When he walks, the robe flutters behind him, exposing slim naked legs. “Oh, no need. I understand this matter is urgent,” he assures them, beckoning for them to follow as he walks toward the kitchen. Namjoon does without hesitation and Taehyung follows his lead, fidgeting with the hem of his shirt as he trails behind.

There’s a certain confidence in the way Jimin holds himself, the way he walks and talks and it’s not quite what Taehyung had expected. From what he’d gathered from Namjoon, Taehyung did not imagine Jimin to appear so young in his looks. He’d imagine an older man, a wise ancient vampire. But then again, most vampires turn in their twenties, so he’s not sure why he’d expected Jimin to be any different. There’s also his undeniable charm that seems to add to his confidence. Jimin knows he’s pretty, that’s for sure. Taehyung has no trouble imagining him enchanting his prey with his looks as Namjoon said vampires of the Venus coven tend to do. You would have to be blind to not acknowledge Jimin’s beauty.

Instead of staying in the kitchen, Jimin takes them to a room behind it that Taehyung had missed. It turns out to be some kind of study, this room a lot more intimate than the others. There’s a desk in the middle, two armchairs placed in front of it and that is where Jimin tells them to sit down.

As Jimin himself rounds the desk to sit down, he looks over at Taehyung and says, “And what is your name, sweet thing?”

Pressing his lips together, Taehyung tries his best to appear unaffected by Jimin’s presence, but he’s not sure if he’s successful when his voice comes out a little strained. “Taehyung.”

“Taehyung,” Jimin copies, smiling when he says his name. “Cute.”

Taehyung is about to say something like a thank you, but Namjoon is faster “Can you help him, Jimin?”

Jimin, who’s been staring at Taehyung since the three of them sat down, turns to look at his friend. “Straight to the point, huh? No catching up?”

“I’m sorry,” Namjoon says again, but it doesn’t seem like he really means it. “But we don’t have much time left to solve this issue. It would be great if you could help us as soon as possible.”

If Taehyung knew him any better, he’d say he sees a flash of hurt across Jimin’s face, but it’s too quick to tell. Jimin plasters on a smile, leaning forward with his arms on the desk, looking between the two of them. “So I hear Taehyung-ssi is having a little bit of trouble keeping human blood down, yes?”

“Yes,” both Namjoon and Taehyung confirm at the same time.

Jimin hums, looking over at Taehyung with an observant gaze. “When did you turn?”

“About three months ago,” Taehyung tells him, unsure of why that is relevant. Maybe it’s not and Jimin is just asking questions he wants to know the answer to.

“And you could drink human blood at first?”

“Yes.”

Another hum. Taehyung wishes Jimin would speak his thoughts out loud, because it appears he’s got many of them. The way he is looking at Taehyung tells him that Jimin might already have the answers they want. “Sounds like me back when I turned.”

Next to him, Namjoon exhales sharply. It’s a start, Taehyung thinks. With that being something the two of them have in common, maybe Taehyung is heading down the path that Jimin has walked. If that were true, Jimin would most likely know the next step.

Only according to Namjoon, Jimin never saw their condition as a problem. If the puncture wounds on his neck is anything to go by, he still doesn’t. “But Namjoon said—”

“That I still drink vampire blood?” Jimin offers, grinning when Taehyung nods. “Correct.”

“Jimin.” Namjoon says his name like a warning, gritted out through clenched teeth.

Jimin flashes him a smile, fangs sparkling. “Just telling him the truth, darling.”

Taehyung can’t figure out the dynamic between the two. They seem friendly with an underlying tension that Taehyung can’t quite place. From what Namjoon’s told him before, vampires from different covens don’t really associate, especially not Venus and Litera. He wonders how the two of them met in the first place considering their different covens. Namjoon is fully committed to Litera, working hard to one day become a part of the court and that makes it hard for Taehyung to believe that he’d befriend someone from their acclaimed rival coven.

“Then why can’t I—” Taehyung starts, but Namjoon cuts him off before he can get to his point.

“No, that’s not an option.”

“Why not?”

This time, it’s Jimin that answers him. “It’s not important,” he says, shifting back to retrieve something from a desk drawer. “There’s only one way to test this theory,” he tells them as he scribbles something down on a piece of paper.

“So you are sure this is what’s wrong with him?” Namjoon asks, reaching over to place a hand on Taehyung’s leg. Taehyung notices how Jimin’s eyes flicker down to it.

“There’s no way of knowing until we test the theory, now is there?” Jimin says, reaching over the desk to hand Namjoon the paper he was writing on. “Meet me at this address tomorrow at midnight.”

Namjoon eyes the address, skeptical. “Jimin—”

“Trust me,” Jimin insists, voice dripping with that resolute confidence. “You wanted my help didn’t you? Well, I’m telling you, this is the only way of knowing if Taehyung-ssi needs vampire blood.”

Sighing in defeat, Namjoon pockets the note with a nod. Taehyung knows how much he prefers being in control of things, so he understands how frustrating it must be to not be in control in a situation like this. Namjoon’s always been very protective of him.

“Will I always need it?” Taehyung asks Jimin, hating how weak he sounds. He adds, “If that’s the case, I mean.”

“No,” Jimin says simply, and Namjoon’s head perks up. “There are ways of transitioning back to human blood. Mixing them little by little, adding more human blood every time until you have no issues keeping it down anymore.”

A wave of relief washes over Taehyung, and he feels the fear he’s been carrying around be lifted from his shoulders. “And then I will be fine?” he asks, trying to not sound too hopeful. “It will stay like that?”

“Well, I wouldn’t know personally,” Jimin says, a hint of a smile tugging at his lips. “But yes, that’s what I’ve heard.”

“From?” Taehyung inquires, leaning forward in his seat.

“Doesn’t matter.”

“But—”

“Okay, Taehyung, time to go,” Namjoon interjects, squeezing his thigh. “Can you wait outside?”

Taehyung looks at Namjoon, then at Jimin, receiving neutral looks from the both of them. He sighs, standing up. There’s no use in arguing. The two of them clearly want privacy, and Taehyung isn’t about to get in between what seems to be a complicated relationship with a messy history.

After thanking Jimin, Taehyung steps out of the study, closing the door behind him — and nearly jumps when he spots someone else on the other side of the large kitchen island. Another man, also a vampire judging by the glass of something red in his hand.

“Uh, hi,” Taehyung offers when their eyes meet. He almost gasps then, seeing the red of the man’s irises. That’s something that vampires can control, and everyone in Taehyung’s coven including himself chose to always keep the eye color they had as humans at all times. Apparently, when feeding, the red can appear instinctually, but Taehyung’s never had that happening since he’s never actually fed on someone successfully. This vampire clearly has no issues with them.

Taehyung also notices the bite marks on his neck, similar to the ones on Jimin’s. He tries not to gape, but clearly he fails because when the man finally speaks, he says, “It’s rude to stare.”

Tearing his eyes away from the wound, Taehyung takes a step forward, holding out his arms in front of his body as if to say he means no harm. He isn’t sure why he does that though considering he’s obviously not an intruder in the house. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. I just—”

“Haven’t seen a vampire with bite marks before?” the guy finishes for him, grinning, and it’s clear that he wasn’t serious before. In fact, his entire harsh dememour drops when Taehyung nods, laughing as he brings the glass of blood to his lips. After taking a sip, he says, “That’s kind of cute actually. Got a name?”

“Uh, it’s Taehyung.”

“Well, Taehyung,” the man drawls, stepping away from the kitchen island. “I hope to see you back here sometime.”

Taehyung is too stunned to say anything as the man walks away and disappears as if he was never there. Taehyung is about to call after him, ask for his name back, but murmured voices from inside the study stop him. It seems Namjoon and Jimin have moved closer to the door, speaking wish hushed voices. Taehyung leans closer, focusing his attention and using his enhanced hearing to pick up what they are saying.

“Jimin are you sure you can help? I don’t want him to have false hope.”

“I’m sure, Joon. Relax.”

“He’s good, Jimin-ah. He doesn’t deserve this.”

A pause.

“Tell me, what is your relationship with him?”

“I mentor him.”

“He isn’t your lover?”

“What? No. Absolutely not.”

“Alright, just asking.”

“I should go. I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yes, midnight. Don’t be late.”

Realizing the conversation is over, Taehyung hurries away from the door and out of the kitchen, stopping by the front entrance where he waits. A few seconds later, Namjoon appears without Jimin.

“Let’s go,” he mutters as he passes Taehyung.

Taehyung looks over his shoulder as he follows Namjoon out, but Jimin is once again nowhere to be seen.

 

 

 

 

“How come there are so few vampires feeding on other vampires?”

Namjoon looks over at Taehyung walking by his side. It’s not uncalled for that Taehyung is asking. It was more so a matter of how long it would take before he brought it up with Namjoon.

“It’s sort of illegal,” Namjoon says as he looks forward again. They are on their way to the address given my Jimin, only a few blocks away now. “At least in our coven.”

“Why?” Taehyung inquires, unsure of how such an act can be seen as unlawful.

Namjoon shrugs, voice nonchalant as he says, “Morals, I don’t know? Vampire blood is said to be stronger than human blood. Almost like a drug, if you’re not careful.”

Taehyung is no stranger to the relationship between drugs and the law, and so he supposes it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the world of vampires isn’t much different. The behavior drugs tend to call for in users is not exactly encouraged — aggression, irrationality, lack of respect for rules. If drinking blood of their own kind is to bring that out of vampires, Taehyung can’t see it being anything but illegal.

“But not in the Venus coven?” he asks, remembering the stories Namjoon shared.

“No, from what Jimin’s told me, it’s allowed. Which explains their erratic behavior.”

“Jimin didn’t seem erratic,” Taehyung remarks out loud, thinking back on how utterly calm and collected Jimin had appeared, though implied by physical evidence, he’d recently fed on another vampire. The vampire Taehyung had met and who also seemed anything but erratic.

“Because he only drinks vampire blood,” Namjoon tells him as they round a street corner, now walking down the street on which the designated address is. “Others drink it as a drug, to get a high.”

Looking down at his shoes as they walk, Taehyung says, “I can see why that’d be problematic.”

“Yeah,” Namjoon agrees. “Quite problematic.”

The two of them slow down as they approach a lineup of people, undoubtedly vampires with how the moonlight seems to reflect upon their pale skin. They are standing outside what appears to be a nightclub, its entrance lit up by a neon sign of the word Sinners, glowing with a bright red. There is a bouncer at the door, holding off the eager people wanting to go inside. It seems the club is already open, which tells them the lineup is a statement of how popular this place is.

“This is it,” Namjoon says, looking down at the piece of paper in his hand given to him by Jimin yesterday. “Sinners.”

“Suiting,” Taehyung mutters, trailing behind Namjoon with a sigh as they go to stand at the back of the line. Only as they pass the entrance, they are stopped by a familiar voice.

“You’re late.”

The pair stops, both turning at the same time to where the voice had spoken. Jimin stands beside the bouncer now, wearing a glorious smile along with an attire certainly made for a night out. Taehyung takes notice of how different he appears now from yesterday when he was wearing nothing but a silk robe. It’s clear that his hair had not been styled either, because tonight it is swept back from his face with a glistening hair product, showing off sharp angels Taehyung did not see yesterday. Suddenly, he feels very out of place.

Next to him, Namjoon looks at his watch with a snort. “One minute late.”

“One minute too long,” Jimin says back smugly before turning on his heel. “Come.”

The bouncer steps forward and removes the rope from its place to let them in, much to the lineup's dismay. There’s a few people that protest, but Namjoon and Taehyung hurry along inside before anything nasty is thrown their way.

The first part of the club is nothing but a barely-lit black corridor. It’s only thanks to their enhanced sight that the three of them make their way through it without issues. At the end of the corridor is another bouncer, standing by two red velvet curtains hiding the boisterous scene behind it. All Jimin has to say is, “They’re with me,” before the curtains are swept back.

Something sweet lingering in the air washes over them the second they step into the club. A quick glance around tells Taehyung that this is like any other nightclub in Seoul — people dancing close together, a bar serving drinks, people making out in different corners. It’s a scene Taehyung is familiar with from his human days and it’s a relief to not have found himself somewhere completely foregin.

Although, as they drift further into the club, Taehyung notices the differences. The more closely he looks, the more apparent they are. The sweet scent occupying their senses is blood, the drinks served at the bar are all red and the people engaged in intimate acts are not quite kissing, but sucking, mouths buried in each other’s necks.

A shiver crawls its way down Taehyung’s spine as he realizes what kind of place this is.

When the three of them reach the bar, Jimin turns to Namjoon. “Darling, I believe it’s best you stay here while I take Taehyung to the back.”

“Absolutely not, I’m coming,” Namjoon shoots back, placing a protective hand on Taehyung’s arm.

Jimin smiles tightly. “With all due respect, your presence will be a distraction. You want me to help him, don’t you?”

Taehyung can sense the frustration rolling off Namjoon’s shoulders. Knows how hard it is for him to not be by Taehyung’s side through this. But at the same time, Taehyung trusts Jimin. They only met yesterday, but he still somehow feels safe with Jimin here. If he weren’t, Taehyung is quite sure he and Namjoon would be kicked out simply for looking out of place. So, turning to his friend, speaking to only him, Taehyung says, “Hyung, it’s okay. I’ll be fine.”

“Taehyung, I’m not sure—”

“I’ll be fine,” Taehyung says again, more persistently this time. Even though he will always be grateful to Namjoon for everything he’s done, there’s still that wish to be independent. To be able to live his life without having to rely on someone else constantly. If this is the first step toward that life, then Taehyung is not about to be too cautious.

With some more convincing, Namjoon finally agrees to wait at the bar while Jimin takes Taehyung with him alone. His hand is holding Taehyung’s now, tugging him along as they make their way to the back of the club where another set of curtains hide what’s behind them.

They stop outside them and Jimin turns to Taehyung, addressing him properly since he first arrived. “So, Taehyung-ssi, my guess is you’ve figured out what this place is?”

Taehyung gulps, more nervous now that they’re alone. It’s not fear that’s clogging his throat, really, but something closer to adrenaline. “Ah, yes. I think so.”

“And so you must know why I’ve brought you here?”

That Taehyung isn’t as sure of. It’s clear this place is meant for vampires wanting to feed on other vampires, but Taehyung doubts Jimin thinks he’s there already. Surely there must be another way of knowing what blood Taehyung needs than having him sink his teeth into another vampire straight away. When he tells Jimin that, the other laughs.

“Of course not, darling. If my theory is correct, I’m afraid it would be quite dangerous for you to drink out of someone’s neck first thing.”

”Oh, alright.” Taehyung rubs his palms together. “Then what are we doing?”

“A little experiment,” Jimin tells him with a hint of excitement before taking Taehyung’s hand again and leading them through the curtains.

Behind this one are six doors, three on each side of the hallway they find themselves in. Each door is labeled with a number and Jimin knocks on the 5th. A voice replies, telling them to come in and next, Jimin is pushing the door open, pulling Taehyung with him.

The room is relatively small, furnitured with nothing but a black, u-shaped booth similar to ones in high-end restaurants, the fabric a rich suede. The walls are of damask wallpaper, gold and velvet and in the ceiling hangs a simple yet elegant chandelier. Taehyung only has a second to admire the room before his eyes land on the woman perched on the couch.

Thick, black hair is tied into a braid, snaked around her neck and down her naked shoulder. The tiny red dress she is wearing does not cover much, and Taehyung is rendered speechless when her eyes meet his, equally red.

“My love,” Jimin breathes out as he leaves Taehyung’s side, seating himself beside the woman and leaning forward to plant a kiss on her cheek.

“He is cute, Jimin-ah, I must admit,” the woman says, her voice dipped in honey as it rolls off her tongue. Taehyung suppresses a shudder.

Taehyung finds himself tuning into Jimin then, waiting for his response, but it seems he isn’t paying Taehyung much attention anymore. ”How’ve you been?” Jimin asks her instead, and Taehyung watches, astonished, as Jimin dips his head down to kiss her slender neck.

What has he gotten himself into?

“Oh you know, the usual,” the woman replies, though her eyes do not leave Taehyung’s. In fact, they haven’t since he stepped into the room. “Come forward, honey,” she says, beckoning Taehyung closer.

He can’t do anything but comply, shuffling toward them until he’s seated on the very edge of the couch on Jimin’s side. “Taehyung was your name, yes?”

Taehyung only nods and the woman laughs.

“No need to be frightened.”

“I’m not,” Taehyung blurts out, trying his very best not to openly stare at the way Jimin is mouthing at her neck. Clearly, he doesn’t do a very good job because next, she is pushing Jimin away gently.

“Don’t be rude, Jimin-ah,” she tsks, though she keeps him close, a graceful hand now on his thigh.

Pulled out of the spell the woman seems to have cast upon him since they entered the room, Jimin finally angles himself toward Taehyung again. “This is El, a friend of mine. It’s her blood you’ll be drinking.”

Taehyung’s eyes widen. “Uh, I thought I wasn’t going to—“

“Not directly from her,” Jimin cuts in. “I’ll be drinking from her neck and then give you some of it.”

Taehyung’s eyes flicker between the two of them. ”H-how?”

The smile Jimin gives him then is wicked. “You’ll see.”

After that, everything happens all at once. Taehyung receives no warning before Jimin refocuses on the woman, pushing his body up against hers. Taehyung catches the fairest glance of fangs and then the woman gasps, arching off the couch as Jimin’s teeth bury themselves in her neck. Her eyes roll back into her skull, a lazy grin pulling at her lips while her blood gets sucked out of her. A filthy sound cuts through the air and Taehyung feels something rush to his stomach when he realizes it came from Jimin.

The action is brief and before Taehyung can properly take in what he is seeing, Jimin is detaching himself from the woman and shifting to where Taehyung sits.

Taehyung can’t help the gasp that slips past his lips when he sees Jimin’s red eyes. It’s an intense color, burning fiercely, and he all but drowns in them as Jimin hovers closer. He’s towering over Taehyung now, having risen to his knees. A finger slips under Taehyung’s chin, tilting his head back. “Open up, darling,” he drawls, and Taehyung parts his lips, sensing a certain haze settling over his conscience.

Something drips onto his tongue, warm and wet, and moments later, a flavor so intense it has him moaning explodes in his mouth. Unintentionally, his hands fly to Jimin’s waist, nails digging into the fabric of his suit jacket, his eyelids fluttering close. Somewhere in the background, someone else moans back. The taste overpowers him, shutting out anything that isn’t the fierce sense of ecstasy bubbling beneath his skin. It consumes him entirely, a feeling like nothing he’s ever felt before. He thinks, this is what I’ve been missing out on. Despite his efforts at savouring every bit of the sensation, eventually, it wears off. Something soft brushes against his lips, and then it’s over.

When Taehyung opens his eyes again, Jimin is sitting beside him again, watching him with a scrutinizing regard. Seconds and minutes pass as Taehyung catches his breath, still tasting the blood on his tongue, and yet… nothing.

No nausea, no dizziness, no pain.

Nothing but the lingering pleasure of feeding.

 

 

 

 

Once the sun has risen, Taehyung struggles to fall asleep. There are no windows in his room, in the entire headquarters actually, but it still feels as though the sun is somehow seeping through his walls, weakening his limbs. The first thing he was taught is that sunlight will not kill him instantly, but being exposed to it for too long will weaken him naturally, and eventually, burn him alive.

Taehyung is lying in his bed, resting on his back with his eyes glued to the ceiling. His body is spent, but it isn’t tiredness he feels. It’s more of a sluggish type of feeling, lulling his limbs in a way that makes him think that if he were to try and stand, they would give out on him. He doesn’t try though. He doesn’t have the energy. Ever since they returned from Sinners, his body has felt frail. Jimin assured them it was the after effects of the vampire blood, which had at least calmed Namjoon down.

After coming down from what Jimin told him was a high, he took Taehyung back out to Namjoon. The other had gasped at the state Taehyung was in, but Jimin assured him it was normal. Expected even, considering this was Taehyung’s first time drinking vampire blood, even if it wasn’t more than a few drops. The point was to find out whether he would be able to keep it down or not, which they got their answer to.

Namjoon was quite upset with Jimin for not telling them beforehand what his plan was, but Jimin insisted it was better that they didn’t know. Taehyung agreed, knowing that Namjoon might not have allowed it. At least in that setting.

Once Jimin and Taehyung came back out and it was clear that Taehyung does indeed need vampire blood, Namjoon demanded to know why they couldn’t have simply tried it yesterday with Jimin himself in his home. The answer to that was vague, but Jimin at least explained that his friend El had been more than happy to help when she heard of Taehyung’s condition.

For the sake of not arguing around in circles, Namjoon eventually caved. They got their answer. That was all that matters.

Before leaving, Jimin made a promise to help Taehyung regain his thirst and need for human blood, for the price of money of course. Namjoon assured Taehyung that money was not an issue for them. Though Sinners made it perfectly clear that feeding on other vampires is possible, in their coven, it is illegal and therefore not an option. He needs this, though. It made Namjoon quite anxious to know that the process of getting Taehyung back to “normal”, meaning only needing human blood, would take weeks. Months, possibly, unless done properly. According to Jimin, he is well equipped and ready to shorten the process as much as possible. For that, both Taehyung and Namjoon were grateful. From the sounds of it, the exercise can be rather unpleasant. Even the tiny drops of human blood might make him nauseous in the beginning, and getting past that will be the hardest part.

Taehyung has absolutely no clue of what he is in for, but Jimin’s confidence surely helps him to not feel so panicked. If a few more instances feeling nauseous is all he’s got to endure to live a lifetime without it, then he does not plan on complaining.

When they returned to their headquarters, Jungkook was all over him, asking questions Taehyung hadn’t even thought of asking himself. Is there a chance he’ll go back to needing vampire blood? Will being around other vampires be a challenge? Will he ever be able to be in a relationship with another vampire?

Right now, all Taehyung can think about is not dying of starvation. It’s amazing what the few drops El had given him did to soothe his hunger, but it’s still there. Ever so present. A constant itch he cannot scratch. He understands that that feeling is not something that Jungkook and Namjoon are constantly aware of like he is, and he tries to not complain about it too much. In the end though, it’s what he longs for the most. Not necessarily drinking blood, but to have this constant ache be gone. To feel healthy and to feel alive despite the reality of what he is now. He still remembers that feeling and he misses it.

These three months of agony have kept him occupied and Taehyung hasn’t really been given a chance to think of anything else. For example, the future.

Taehyung knows he’s got an eternity ahead, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t plan on living every day to its fullest. He’s been told that vampires date and get married and have families, and he still wants that someday. He’s been told that they can get jobs, usually temporary ones before their co-workers notice that they aren’t aging. Even though he still isn’t sure what he wants to do with his life in terms of work, Taehyung can still see himself go back to school someday. As long as he attends another college than the one he used to, it shouldn’t be a problem.

His parents always wanted him to finish his degree and make them proud. He wanted that too, so badly, and that’s really the only reason he went at first. Being there though, he realized how important it was. It wasn’t just about making them proud anymore, but making himself proud as well.

That is still his biggest regret, not being able to fulfill his promise to them and finish college. Maybe one day he will, but it won’t be to their knowledge. Soon after Taehyung turned, his death was ruled a homicide by the police. There was no body, but the blood in his dorm was enough to tell the investigators that he wouldn’t have survived that amount of blood loss.

Taehyung didn’t see his parents for months before he turned and weeks had gone by since they last spoke on the phone. In a way, he is glad they still live in Daegu because the temptation of going to visit them would be too great if they lived in Seoul. Maybe one day he’ll at least be able to go there and see them from afar, just to see how they are doing. To make sure his dad isn’t straining his back at the workshop and that his mother isn’t too busy taking care of the children at the hospital to take care of herself. Taehyung always had to remind her of that. He just hopes she remembers by herself now.

What pains him the most is knowing that his parents will live out their lives without knowing what happened to their only son.

That day as he sleeps, he dreams of them. Of his father’s kind smile and his mother’s gentle hands.

One day.

 

 

 

 

The following night, Taehyung is back at Sinners. Only it’s not open yet and the place is empty save for a couple of employees prepping for another wild night. Taehyung is seated at the bar where he’s been told to wait for Jimin by one of the workers.

Apparently, Jimin owns this place.

It didn’t even cross Taehyung’s mind that that was the case yesterday, but it does explain a whole lot. It tells him why Jimin walked through this place like it was his (which it is), it explains why Taehyung and Namjoon didn’t have to wait in line, and it also explains Jimin’s extravagant house. Sinners is popular, to say the least, and to no one’s surprise, expensive. Taehyung is let off the hook because he’s with Jimin, which is a relief because there is no way he’d afford anything served at this place. Hell, Taehyung doesn’t even have money. Not his own, at least. He can’t use the bank account he had when he was still human, and it’s not like he’s had the time to get a job. The money he has is the coven’s money, meaning Taehyung doesn’t have a lot. Fledglings aren’t given much in the beginning, he’s been informed.

“I’m surprised they let you in looking like that,” a voice behind him says, and Taehyung spins around on the barstool. Jimin has a tendency to do this, he’s noticed. Sneaking up on people. Taehyung can’t tell if it’s intentional or he is simply that soundless. He would guess the first one, because he believes Jimin likes to make an entrance.

Taehyung looks down at himself with a frown. He’s wearing blue jeans and a black bomber jacket on top of a white t-shirt. As basic as one can be, really. Jimin, on the other hand, is stressed in a silk shirt with two chains crossed over his chest, leather glued onto his legs and black boots with heels adorning his feet. This is the third outfit Taehyung has seen him in, but he’s got a feeling Jimin likes to dress with style for any occasion.

“Uh, I don’t really own fancy clothes,” Taehyung says eventually, lifting his head to look over at Jimin again. The outfit he wore yesterday was his only nice one, and he thinks showing up in that again might have been worse than this.

Jimin chuckles and walks around the bar, gesturing for Taehyung to stay seated. “Lucky for you, I’m not very picky.”

Taehyung wonders why that would matter, but perhaps some vampires pick who they associate with based on their fashion. It wouldn’t be surprising really, considering all the peculiar things Taehyung continues to learn about his new kind.

“So, Taehyung,” Jimin starts as he bends down to retrieve two glasses that he places between them on the bartop. “Do you wanna tell me how you turned?”

Taehyung blinks. “I’m sorry, what?”

Jimin doesn’t seem to think the question is of the same private nature as Taehyung does, judging by his unfaced look. Instead, he explains, “The information might help me figure out why this happened to you.”

It’s been months since he last spoke about that day. Only Namjoon and Jungkook have heard it from him personally, and he believes they passed the information on to the court. Though he doesn’t quite see the connection Jimin is making, he convinces himself to trust the other. “Uh, okay.”

The topic always makes him uncomfortable and there’s a part of him that thinks it always will. Even so, he bites the bullet and tells Jimin, with as little detail as he can, about the day he turned.

“It was uh— It happened in my college dorms. Kind of like someone’s worst nightmare, actually. I’d left my window open because it was summer and the room was hot. My roommate slept at a friend's place and so I was alone. I don’t actually know how they got in because I was asleep, but I’m guessing it was through my open window. I woke up wanting to scream, but nothing came out. I felt numb, barely felt the pain of the fangs in my throat. Then my consciousness just got… sucked out of me. It was kind of like falling asleep again, only I died. I woke up again at the Litera headquarters. Namjoon was there. They said that the particular vampire who turned me had been doing so illegally to many, except most of them died. They said I must have consumed his blood somehow as well, because that’s how you turn. Told me I died with vampire blood in my system. They guessed that he had injured himself while climbing into my dorm and somehow, his blood got into my mouth.” Taehyung shudders at the memory. He barely remembers that night, but he does remember all the blood. It was everywhere. “Anyway, they caught him only days after and killed him. I think I was his last victim. They said I was lucky to survive but… I don’t know if that’s true…”

Taehyung trails off, feeling as though he’s said enough. Surprisingly, telling the story again wasn’t as hard as the first few times. There is a part of him that has moved on, has accepted what he is now. He supposes the memories of that night will eventually fade, and the only thing remaining will be the vague memories of once being human.

Finally, Taehyung looks at Jimin who’s been silent all this time. The other is watching him with a slight frown, nodding his head slowly.

Taehyung sighs. “That wasn’t helpful knowing at all, was it?”

Jimin inhales sharply, standing up straight again from where he’d been leaning on his elbows on the bartop. “No, not really,” he says, rummaging around for something under the bar again. “But worth a shot right? Now I know you a bit better at least,” he says, grinning up at Taehyung.

“Mhm.”

They move on from the topic fairly quickly once Jimin places a glass bottle of red liquid next to the two glasses, undoubtedly blood. What kind, Taehyung isn’t sure. There’s no way of telling by just looking at it. So instead, he looks at Jimin, eyebrows raised in question. He receives nothing but a small chuckle before Jimin removes the bottle’s lid and pours its content into both glasses. He fills one glass half way, and the other with barely nothing, a few millimeters at most.

Then, looking at Taehyung, Jimin asks, “See the difference?”

“Quite clearly, yes,” Taehyung responds back without much enthusiasm.

Jimin rolls his eyes at Taehyung’s long face but continues with his demonstration nonetheless. “It’s not just the quantity that’s different. It doesn’t matter if you have one drop or a full glass of human blood, you still can’t keep it down.”

“Uhu.”

“That’s not the case if you mix it with any other substance.”

That peaks Taehyung’s interest, and leans forward a bit, listening more closely now. “Okay?”

“At this point, you can only really mix this amount,” Jimin says and points at the glass with barely any blood. Then, pointing at the other, he adds, “Mixing this amount will definitely make you hurl. Only with time, using more and more human blood into the mix, you will be able to. Basically, you’ll build up a tolerance for it and eventually your body will no longer reject human blood.”

Jimin finishes his little speech with a big smile on his face, holding up both hands with spread fingers in a sort of ta-da gesture. It seems his elegant demeanour has dropped and standing before Taehyung now is a passionate instructor excitingly teaching an apprentice.

Taehyung looks at Jimin, unimpressed. “So that’s all? Measuring and mixing?”

“Easy, right?” Jimin says proudly, swooping up both glasses of blood and downing them both in one go. Taehyung still doesn’t know whether it was human or vampire.

“I feel like I could do this on my own,” Taehyung says as Jimin clears the bartop, tidying the place as he does so. “Why do I need your help?”

“Because I’m what they call an expert,” Jimin tells him, throwing a cheeky smile his way.

Taehyung scoffs, and without really meaning to, he says, “You’re just doing it for the money.”

He regrets his words instantly when Jimin suddenly stops what he is doing. Taehyung can’t tell what he’s thinking because his back is toward him, but when Jimin turns back around, there’s a smile there. Taehyung doesn’t know him well enough to decipher it. “Would that be such a bad thing?”

Objectively, Taehyung can’t really blame him. If the roles were reversed, he’d probably be in it for the money as well. So, with a slight shrug, he says, “No, I suppose not.”

Jimin sighs and walks back over to where Taehyung is sitting, and for the first time since they met, there’s a certain gentleness in his voice as he speaks. “It’s not all about measuring and mixing, Taehyung. You can’t know how your body will react to mixed blood, or one of the two. Me being around every time you feed, at least in the beginning, is a precaution.”

It’s useless to deny that he doesn’t need help, but the amount he is getting makes it hard to accept more. Partly because he hates feeling so reliant on others. Still, Jimin’s already helped him plenty, and so he feels a bit guilty for asserting it isn’t necessary. “I know. I’m sorry,” he says, as sincerely as he can. “I do appreciate you helping me.”

Jimin offers him a kind smile, and Taehyung has a hard time seeing the man in front of him as the same man who Namjoon gave a rather opposite description of. “I’m gonna show you a few things you can mix the blood into to make this process more fun. Us vampires can eat and drink other stuff as well.”

“We can?” 

“Of course. It just doesn’t give us any nutrition. Taste however...” When Jimin straightens again, there’s an orange in his hand. He places it in front of Taehyung with a knowing grin. “Bet you miss this juicy fruit?” Before Taehyung can reply, Jimin places a syringe with a tiny amount of blood next to it. “Inject a little bit of human blood in there and it reduces the chances of your body rejecting it. Works the same as vampire blood.”

Taehyung eyes the orange and the syringe. “Huh, I didn’t know that.”

 

“Most people who drink human blood don’t,” Jimin tells him, taking the objects and holding them out for Taehyung to take. “They don’t need to know, for obvious reasons.”

“And if I vomit?” Taehyung asks, hesitantly taking the fruit and the device.

Jimin shrugs. “Then you vomit,” he says simply. “Won’t know until you try, right?”

The orange in his hand feels exotic now. Taehyung used to have one almost every day, and he thought those days were gone. Yet now it seems so foreign, like something he’s never tried before. He might not need vitamin C anymore, but like Jimin said, the taste… he remembers that. Taehyung looks at the syringe in his other hand, turning it over to see the blood move inside. He touches the needle to the orange skin.

“Just a little?” he asks, looking up at Jimin.

“Just a little,” Jimin confirms, patient.

It’s strange. Probably one of the stranger things he’s ever done. Once the blood has been emptied from the syringe, Taehyung peels it. The rich scent fills his nostrils and he can’t help but smile over his excitement for a fruit. Once it’s peeled fully, Taehyung bites into a wedge, sighing when the citrus flavor melts on his tongue. There is a bit of a blood taste, but it’s pleasant. He finishes the entire fruit, offering Jimin a piece that the other declines respectfully, happy to watch Taehyung eat.

Once it’s all gone, they wait.

The nausea never comes.

Taehyung feels exhilarated, giggling as Jimin puts the remains away. He’s smiling too, and Taehyung finds himself happy for Jimin’s sake as well. In a way, this is an accomplishment for him as well.

After a while of quietly watching Jimin work behind the bar, Taehyung eventually dares to ask what he’s been wanting to ask since the two met. Clearing his throat to get Jimin’s attention, Taehyung says, “Can I ask you a question? It’s kind of personal.”

Jimin turns to face him again, smiling as he dries his hand on a towel. “I suppose since you told me how you turned, I owe you something back.”

“You don’t owe me anything,” Taehyung says, something of a nervous chuckle following. He places his palms flat on the bartop, unsure of how to phrase himself. “But um, why are you a part of the Venus coven? I mean, how did you end up there?” he corrects himself, realizing how the first question might have sounded.

“Ah.” The corner of Jimin’s mouth twitches. “I’m afraid the answer to that isn’t as exciting as you might think.”

“I don’t think anything,” Taehyung assures him. “I’m just curious.”

“Because of what Namjoon’s told you about Venus?”

Technically, that’s true yes. Taehyung wouldn’t have asked if he hadn’t known about the coven’s reputation. Frankly, when Namjoon described Jimin before they met, it sounded like he fit right in. Only now when Taehyung has gotten his own idea of who Jimin is, that’s not really the case anymore. Jimin is a lot warmer than Namjoon made him out to be, and though maybe that’s because of Taehyung’s situation and Jimin going easy on him for it, he feels as though there is more to discover about the other.

He isn’t sure where this interest comes from, but it’s there.

“Well, my story is much like yours,” Jimin tells him, moving closer again to lean against the bartop. “When I turned, they found me and took me in.”

“How long ago was that?” Taehyung asks. He still has no idea how old Jimin actually is.

“Doesn’t matter,” Jimin says. “The coven hasn't changed since.”

“Yet you stay with them?”

Laughing, Jimin straightens again. “Maybe they’re not as bad as you think.”

“Then why do you have your own house?” Taehyung asks, not realizing he is overstepping until he sees the way Jimin’s smile falls. He is quick to apologize. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s fine. It’s just not something I talk about,” Jimin explains, looking away. After glancing at the clock on the wall, he turns back to Taehyung. “I think it’s best you leave now. The club opens in twenty minutes.”

“Right, of course.” Taehyung slides off the stool, reaching for his jacket that he took off a while back. “Uh, thank you for your time,” he says awkwardly, thankfully stopping himself in time before he also extends his hand.

“I’m glad I could help,” Jimin tells him as he walks around the bar, joining Taehyung on the other side.

Putting his jacket back on, Taehyung says, “See you soon then?”

“Yes, call me in a couple of days. Namjoon has my number.”

There’s something about Jimin not giving Taehyung his number himself that strikes him as odd, but Taehyung thinks he’s used up all of his personal questions for one night. Instead he thanks Jimin again for the help before leaving, noting how there’s already a lineup outside.

As he walks down the street away from the club, he can’t help but wonder if he’ll ever go to Sinners just for fun.

 

 

 

 

When Taehyung returns to the Litera headquarters, Jungkook is waiting for him outside his room. The second he sees Taehyung come walking down the hallway, he’s hurrying toward him, grabbing his wrists before pulling him aside.

“Jungkook, what’s going on?” Taehyung asks him, laughing a little at the other’s behavior.

“You seem better,” Jungkook notes, doing a double take of Taehyung’s appearance.

Taehyung shrugs. “Blood therapy’s working already.”

“Funny,” Jungkook says with an ironic smile, eyes darting to their surroundings. The hallways are as usual empty. The vampires tend to be out as much as they can, or stay in their rooms, so Taehyung rarely seems them just hanging around.

Seeking out his eyes, somewhat worried now, Taehyung says, “Jungkook, what’s up?”

“The court has called on you,” Jungkook tells him, finally letting him go. “They’re waiting.”

The court calling on you is usually not a good thing. They are there for the very reason of keeping things in order and making sure to implement punishments for those who decide not to follow rules. Taehyung surely is not someone who’s made it easy for them to maintain their flawless record of incidents.

As he and Jungkook walk through the hallways to the court, Taehyung tries to think what they would want this time. There hasn’t been an incident. In fact, quite the opposite. Perhaps they simply want an update on his case. Outside the courtroom, Namjoon is waiting for them. He too does not know why the court has called upon them.

As usual, it’s only the three of them there. The court sits behind their bench, waiting as the trio take their seats in front of them.

It’s quiet for what feels like a lifetime while the judge is writing something down. No one dares to speak before her, and so they wait in silence. Taehyung’s leg is bouncing where he sits, eyes moving between the court members. Next to him, Namjoon lays a hand on his thigh, wordlessly telling him to calm down.

Taehyung doesn’t calm down, but he forces his leg to be still.

Finally, the judge lifts her head to look at the three of them. “It has come to my attention that Taehyung-ssi is in need of vampire blood.” Her voice is cold, bored. Taehyung doesn’t think he’s ever seen her smile.

“Um—” Taehyung starts, but then Namjoon is speaking, stopping him from saying anything at all.

“Yes, your honor, we realized this is why he could not keep human blood down.”

The judge squints her eyes at him. “And you did not think to inform me of this matter?”

“We only found out yesterday—” Namjoon begins to explain, but this time, he is the one that is cut off.

“We do not allow vampires in our coven to feed on other vampires,” another member of the court says. This one looks older, but Taehyung knows he only turned a few years ago. His appearance is deceiving in that sense.

“I assure you, sir, that Taehyung will do no such thing,” Namjoon tells them, and Taehyung is not sure why he isn’t being allowed to speak for himself. Well, it could be because he isn’t as well-spoken as Namjoon and has a tendency to stutter in front of the court. Still, it frustrates him.

“But he needs vampire blood, does he not?” the judge asks, and the way she is avoiding looking at Taehyung makes it seem like he isn’t there at all.

He realizes why when he sees the look on their faces when Namjoon speaks again. “Yes, but he’s been getting help from a vampire from the Venus coven.”

The blood in Taehyung’s body runs colder. He wouldn’t be able to explain the disapproval he sees in the eyes of the members then. In fact, it shocks him that Namjoon would utter the enemy’s name in court like this. Clearly the court themselves are not any less shocked, though their expressions speak more of dismay than surprise.

“I do believe Taehyung-ssi is aware of this coven's relationship with Venus,” another member says coldly, his voice cutting through the icy silence.

“Yes, I’m aware,” Taehyung is quick to say, receiving a look from Namjoon that clearly tells him to be quiet.

The smile on the member who just spoke is bordering amused, and Taehyung can tell they are all enjoying this. Namjoon once said the court are good people, but Taehyung is starting to believe that’s only true when it doesn’t concern a matter as complicated as his. He still imagines that they would all prefer if he just disappeared so that they wouldn’t have to deal with him. “Then you should also be aware that any sort of interaction with a Venus vampire results in immediate exile?”

Next to Taehyung, Namjoon rushes out of his chair. “Your honor!”

And to his left, Jungkook exclaims, “What, no!?”

Murmurs erupt from both the members and the three vampires, but they are all silenced when the judge roars, “ORDER!”

Taehyung remains seated, staring at a crack in the stone floors and keeping his eyes locked there. Namjoon is told to sit down again and he does, but Taehyung can tell by simply having him close that Namjoon would rather be pacing around while making his case. Jungkook’s hand is in his now, squeezing it so hard it’s as if he thinks Taehyung will slip away and disappear at any second. When the judge speaks again, Taehyung barely registers her words.

“We have a strict policy that prohibits you from doing exactly what you are doing. There’s very little that you can say or do that we will accept besides simply ceasing all communication with them.”

“Your honor, they are the only ones in Seoul that can help Taehyung,” Namjoon begins to explain, his voice notably strained. “Respectfully, you said we had to fix Taehyung in order for him to stay with us. That is all we are doing, your honor, so I beg of you, let us do this. Once he’s okay, we’ll break all contact with the Venus vampire, you have my word.”

Taehyung has to admit, Namjoon is good. His toned-down tirade even has some of the members quirk their eyebrows and eye each other sideways with subtly impressed looks. It seems he’s even left an impression on the judge herself.

Leaning forward with a certain sharpness in her eyes, the judge asks him, “And how do you know this person yourself, Namjoon-ssi?”

As if he’d been prepared for the question, Namjoon replies promptly, “They’re an acquaintance of mine.”

“Then you shall be exiled too, should you not?”

Namjoon shakes his head with confidence. “No. Before this I hadn’t seen them since this policy was implemented years ago.” That, Taehyung knows is a lie, but the court does not know that. Taehyung would believe him too, if it wasn’t for the obvious tension between Jimin and Namjoon. He still doesn’t know what went down between them, but whatever it was, he finds it hard to believe that it was years ago.

“Right then, I believe this session is over,” the judge announces. “I want weekly updates from you on this matter. As soon as we know Taehyung-ssi can feed normally, these meetings end, is that clear?”

Taehyung and Namjoon look at each other, a mutual understanding spoken between them without words. When they turn back to face the court members, there are subtle smiles on their faces.

“Yes, your honor.”

 

 

 

 

“What did happen between you and Jimin?” Taehyung asks Namjoon when they are back in Taehyung’s room.

Behind him, Jungkook clears his throat. “Uh, I’m gonna go… do something,” he tells them before slipping back out the door, closing it behind him.

Taehyung frowns when he looks back over at Namjoon now seated in the armchair by the closet. “It’s that bad, huh?”

“Not really,” Namjoon tells him, huffing out something like a chuckle. “Jungkook probably just wanted to give us some privacy.”

“Now I’m even more intrigued,” Taehyung says as he settles on his bed, leaning against the wall and fixing Namjoon with an attentive regard.

Namjoon sighs. “Before this policy was implemented 14 years ago, we were friends. Best friends, I would say. Of course, the Venus coven doesn’t have any kind of rules prohibiting them from associating with others than their own. Litera has always been stricter in that way. So when these new rules came, I told Jimin I couldn’t see him anymore. I think I approached him in the wrong way, made it seem like I didn’t want to fight for our friendship. So we had a falling out and I didn’t see him for years. Lately we’ve been in contact, I go see him at the house sometimes, in secret of course, but our friendship just isn’t the same anymore.”

Once Namjoon finishes speaking, there’s a certain sadness in his expression that wasn’t there before. Taehyung’s heart aches for him. He’s no stranger to lost friendships. Shifting on the bed, Taehyung tells him, “That explains a lot.”

“Jimin’s a good person,” Namjoon assures him with a smile. “Probably better than me. He’s just a very private person too. Hard to get to know. Once you do though, he’s amazing. You’d like him.”

It is difficult to see beyond the persona Jimin presents when he is around them. Taehyung doesn’t know him well enough to guess what could be hiding behind it, but there’s something about Namjoon’s words that convinces him that it’s worth looking for.

Joking to lighten the mood, he says, “Guess I shouldn’t start liking him too much since us hanging out is practically forbidden.”

Namjoon looks at him with a frown, but then he shakes his head and nods. “Right, guess so.”

He can tell the topic is distracting Namjoon and Taehyung decides to let him go be alone with his thoughts. “Well thanks... for telling me,” Taehyung says, moving to sit on the edge of his bed. “You didn’t have to.”

Truth is, Taehyung hadn’t expected to hear their story at all. Now that he has, he’s not sure if his perception of them both has changed or not.

Standing up, Namjoon rubs his palms against his thighs, eyes cast down on the floor. “It’s only fair since I introduced you to him.” Before Namjoon opens the door, he looks back at Taehyung with an unreadable expression on his face. “Just, be careful, okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll be careful,” Taehyung promises, but later when Namjoon is gone, he realizes he has no idea what exactly Namjoon had meant.

 

 

 

 

Three days pass before Taehyung is back at Sinners. It’s not as busy of a night as last time and so when the club opens at 11pm, the place is quite empty for a while. Taehyung doesn’t mind though. He’s not here to party. As usual, he’s here for lessons in blood drinking. Taehyung got Jimin’s number from Namjoon like Jimin had told him to do, and Taehyung was quick to schedule another meeting. Although he was going to suggest Jimin’s house this time, Jimin beat him to it and suggested Sinners first. It made Taehyung wonder how much time the other really spends at the club, considering Jimin probably isn’t required to be there every night like the bartenders.

The two are seated at the bar again, off to the very side where no one will interrupt them. Taehyung is mixing his own drink this time, a full glass of blood, and Jimin is getting what he needs from the bar.

“So how busy is this place usually?” Taehyung asks while he watches Jimin rummage around behind the bar.

“Too busy,” Jimin tells him, shooting him a smile over his shoulder. “The first hour is always like this, but every night is packed. We’re doing well.”

“I don’t doubt that,” Taehyung says, turning around on his stool to look around the room. He can see why this place would attract so many vampires. It’s dark and exclusive and allows people to devour each other in public. Made for everyone with a bit of an exhibitionism kink, which according to Jungkook, is every single vampire from the Venus coven. It’s no surprise the place consists of mostly them considering its owner, but Taehyung wonders what other coven vampires make appearances here. Surely there must be several. There’s over thirty covens in Seoul, Taehyung’s been told, and though some of them are very small in comparison to Venus and Litera and a few other big ones, they surely come out to play as well. There is really no way of knowing what coven a vampire is from without asking them, which according to Taehyung kind of proves their insignificance. He’s never been a fan of labels.

Taehyung is grateful for Litera because they took him in, made sure he had a home after he turned and though they’ve had significant issues with him lately, Taehyung is still aware of how much they’ve done for him. Without them he wouldn’t know Namjoon and Jungkook. Would maybe even be dead dead because of his blood problem. There’s no way of knowing how other covens would treat a condition like his, but in the end, Taehyung’s glad he’s being allowed to handle it on his own. Well, on his terms at least. The court getting involved might have made this process a lot more difficult.

“Alright, here you go.”

Turning back on his chair, Taehyung takes a look at the two bottles of blood that Jimin has put out for him, clearly labeled HUMAN and VAMPIRE. His eyes lift to Jimin’s for approval, and Jimin nods his head reassuringly.

Taehyung takes the glass also put out for him, reaching for the bottle with vampire blood. “I’ve never had this much vampire blood,” he says, eyeing the glass Jimin’s put out as well. “What if I get… really high?”

Jimin laughs. “You only get really high if it’s fresh from somebody’s neck. This blood is not. The human blood will also reduce the effect and it doesn’t last very long, but yes you might feel some of it. I’ll be here though so you don’t have to worry.”

The first time he tried vampire blood, all Taehyung remembers is the high. Jimin later told him he made Taehyung drink it fresh only because he wanted the strongest kind to make sure Taehyung’s case was like his. Now that they know that, he doesn’t have to drink from a vampire ever again. Taehyung hasn’t dared to admit to his friends that he has mixed feelings about that.

As Taehyung first pours the vampire blood into the glass, Jimin watches him carefully. Tells Taehyung to stop when the glass is half full. For the human blood, Jimin gives him a measuring cup to use, just to be safe.

“You didn’t use a measuring cup,” Taehyung says when Jimin hands him the tool.

“Because I’m experienced with this,” Jimin explains, fixing him with a pointed look.

Shrugging, Taehyung takes the bottle and fills the cup first halfway. He pours it into the glass to mix it, but decides to add some more.

“Um, I think what you have now is enough,” Jimin says, reaching out to cover the top of the glass.

“I want to try more,” Taehyung insists. He didn’t feel nauseous last time and this added amount isn’t that much more. When he tells the other that, Jimin reluctantly withdraws his hand, but Taehyung can tell he’s still doubtful.

Wanting to prove a point, Taehyung pours the rest of the human blood in the cup into the glass, mixing it around with a smile on his face. Jimin watches, quietly, as he brings it to his lips. The sweet scent is pleasant and Taehyung closes his eyes, and then he drinks.

The blood tastes good, amazing even and he savors every drop of it. Licks his lips as he places the glass back down. Jimin still doesn’t say anything, just watches Taehyung with his arms on his hips, brows slightly raised.

“See, totally fi—”

Oh, no.

Taehyung doesn’t miss the way Jimin’s lips twitch, an almost-smile mocking him as the panic on Taehyung’s face spirals. “Jimin, I—”

The nausea comes quickly, and Taehyung’s hand flies to his mouth, a very stubborn part of his brain telling him to not throw up here in front of all these people. He thinks there is concern in Jimin’s eyes when the other rounds the bar and takes Taehyung’s free hand.

“Come on,” he hears Jimin say, and then he is being pulled to his feet. They don’t go toward the exit, but toward the other side of the club where the bathrooms are. As they rush inside, Taehyung suffers nasty flashbacks from his early college days, seeing himself bent over toilets, emptying his stomach while someone bangs on the door on the other side.

Jimin just manages to close and lock the door before Taehyung is throwing himself on the floor in front of the toilet seat. He coughs and retches and barely registers Jimin crouching down beside him, rubbing a hand against the small of Taehyung’s back. The other’s presence is as calming as it is humiliating. Taehyung hates when this happens in front of people, and for reasons he can’t fathom right now, it’s particularly mortifying to have Jimin see him like this.

At the back of his head, he hears Jimin’s calm voice beside him. “It’s okay, it’s alright. I’m here.”

Taehyung wants to both wrap himself in Jimin’s arms and run away from him at the same time, but he settles for neither as he slides down against the wall, whimpering softly. Jimin is there in an instant, wiping Taehyung’s mouth with a paper towel. Taehyung feels too exhausted to complain. If there’s anything he hates it’s being babied, but he doesn’t have it in him to move away from Jimin. Instead he finds himself leaning into the touch when Jimin’s hand comes up to brush away his bangs.

Unsurprisingly, when Taehyung has calmed down, Jimin leans back and says, “I told you so.”

All Taehyung can do is groan.

Once he’s steady enough to stand up, Jimin helps Taehyung back on his feet, insisting on holding him with an arm around his waist as they wander back out to the club.

“You still need to feed,” Jimin tells him when they reach the bar. Taehyung slumps back down on the chair, noting how the club has filled up more now. He sits there, staring at the elated vampires, wishing he was one of them. “Here,” Jimin says, giving him a new glass of blood. Taehyung doesn't even ask how much human blood is in it, just down it all in one go.

“Come on, let’s get you home,” Jimin says when Taehyung places the glass back on the bar.

“It’s fine,” Taehyung drawls, running his tongue over his dry lips. His mouth feels weird. “I can walk by myself.”

“Taehyung, you’re still lethargic.”

“I’m fine,” Taehyung insists, getting up. He stumbles, but Jimin is there, catching him.

“You’re not,” Jimin argues. He’s stubborn, Taehyung learns. “I’m coming.”

As much as Taehyung would actually love for Jimin to walk him home, he knows that’s not an option. So, clearing his throat to get his voice to sound more convincing, he says, “You can’t.”

“Why—” Jimin starts, but then he trails off as realization settles over his features. He looks away, tongue pressing against the inside of his cheek. “Right, the policy.”

Taehyung doesn’t know why he apologizes, but all he can think to say is, “I’m sorry.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Jimin says, but when their eyes meet again, Taehyung can tell he’s upset. “Just, don’t end up falling asleep in a bush somewhere on your way home, okay?”

It’s happened before, Taehyung thinks, but right now is not the moment to admit that. Instead, he offers the most genuine smile he can muster. “I won’t.” Then, after a pause of contemplation, he adds, “I’ll text you when I get there.”

Jimin nods. “Good. Now go.”

It feels wrong to leave, but Taehyung doesn’t really have a choice. He always feels faint after an incident like this one and he knows he doesn’t have much time before his body and mind will give up on him. So regretfully, he bids Jimin goodbye and leaves the club.

Later when he finally walks through the door to his room at the headquarters, he uses his last bit of energy to send Jimin a text to assure him that he’s home and safe. He is out cold before he can read Jimin’s reply.

park jimin, 00:17
thank you for letting me know
rest well taehyung

 

 

 

 

With every day that passes, drinking human blood gets a little bit easier. Like he was told, it’s a tough process. The nausea lingers after feeding even if he manages to keep it down, the effect of the vampire blood makes him tired and Taehyung sleeps during parts of the nights as well. Though he could go out if he wanted to, he’s just too tired and unmotivated most of the time. The court also advised him to stay inside during this transition process, and so Taehyung decided to do that as much as possible.

Namjoon and Jungkook keep him as distracted as best they can, but they have their own lives to live as well. Namjoon is still working hard to fill the list of qualifications for becoming a part of the court. It might be sometime soon, he told Taehyung, and so the older vampire isn’t around as much as he would like. Jungkook isn’t as busy, but he likes to go out and see friends. Taehyung appreciates when they spend even just a few hours together, because Jungkook is usually out and about as well.

Taehyung doesn’t mind spending time alone though because he knows it’s just temporary. All this freetime has allowed him to catch up on all the history books Namjoon gave him months ago. Said it’s important that Taehyung knows the vampires’ history in order to be a good one. Taehyung had laughed at that, but now that he’s working his way through them, he has to admit the life ahead doesn’t feel as impossible as it once did. When he first turned, Taehyung only focused on the differences between humans and vampires and all the things that he would have to give up. That prevented him from seeing all the similarities and the opportunities.

The history of vampires and humans is frankly quite similar. They’ve lived side by side for centuries, through the same eras and wars. When looking at such details, it really doesn’t come as a surprise that the two species aren’t that much different. Before he turned, Taehyung wasn’t aware of the vampires’ existence, and though some humans are, he believes vampires are safer staying hidden.

It’s fascinating to read the history of his new people, but even though Taehyung loves to read, he still gets tired of it eventually. So sometimes, when he’s really bored and doesn’t have any ideas of how to pass time, Taehyung will call Jimin.

They still see each other a couple times a week when Taehyung needs to feed, but that’s the only time together. As soon as he’s fed and Jimin’s given his usual lecture on whatever topic Taehyung brings up, Taehyung has to go. The more time he spends with Jimin the harder it gets to just up and leave each time. He almost always wants to stay, to talk more and ask things about the other. So far, Taehyung doesn’t know much about Jimin at all which is hard to believe considering they’ve known each other for over a month now.

During the last couple of weeks though, they’ve started talking on the phone. It started with Taehyung having a question that was too complicated to ask over text, and so he called Jimin instead. After that, it became a more regular thing. They still rarely talk about anything personal, but Taehyung still thinks he’s getting a better idea of who Jimin is. Knows what can make him laugh, which for Jimin is something more like a snort followed by a second or two of snickering. Taehyung has never actually heard him laugh properly.

Taehyung thinks that Jimin is warming up to him though. Would like to consider them friends.

Even when there’s a notification on his phone, Taehyung reaches for it thinking it’s Jimin. It’s not, and he finds himself almost… disappointed?

jungkookie, 05:43
i’m bored in the library
come hang out

With a sigh, Taehyung rolls out of bed and toes on his sandals before leaving his room. As usual, the hallways are empty. Taehyung prefers that. He’s noticed that whenever he walks past someone, they either stare at him for a second too long or whisper something to their friend as if Taehyung can’t hear them perfectly. The coven does not exactly dislike him, but no one really approaches him either. It’s easier to stay away from the new fledgling with a blood problem. Too messy. Taehyung is just grateful that Namjoon and Jungkook have stuck around this long.

The worst part is that Taehyung is missing that sense of belonging that Jungkook so often talks about. The feeling that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, surrounded by your people and your leaders. Taehyung can see why Jungkook is so fond of Litera, but personally, he just feels out of place. Never got a chance to settle in before his problems started happening. Every day he walks these hallways like an outsider, most days treated as one as well, and it makes him wonder if this is all he’s going to get? Will the other vampires ever see him as one of their own? Even if he gets his condition under control, Taehyung’s already been labeled as the odd man out.

Pushing the two, heavy wooden doors open, Taehyung walks into the coven’s shared library, immediately spotting Jungkook over by the reading section. His head is bent over what Taehyung would guess is a book, but as he approaches him, he realizes Jungkook is staring at his phone that is currently playing a video. He looks up when Taehyung pulls out the chair opposite him, locking his phone as the other sits down.

“I’m bored,” Jungkook announces once more, lips formed into a pout.

“Then why are you sitting here?” Taehyung asks with a laugh.

Leaning back in his chair, Jungkook tells him, “Everyone else went out but I didn’t feel like joining.”

Odd. Jungkook never says no to going out into the spirited city. Brows furrowing, Taehyung asks him, “You feeling okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Jungkook grunts. “I’m just worried about Namjoon-hyung.”

“Namjoon?” Taehyung’s frown deepens. Out of the three of them, Namjoon is the last one expected to fall off the rails. “Why?”

“He’s working really hard to impress the court,” Jungkook clarifies. “I know he’s barely sleeping. It’s like he’s going out of his way to please them, and for what? We all know they won’t change for the better just because he joins them.”

It’s no secret that Jungkook isn’t the court’s biggest fan either. His time after turning wasn’t as hard as Taehyung’s has been, but there’s been enough instances that have made Jungkook resentful toward them. Though they give Namjoon their full support, neither of the two truly understands why he’d want a place amongst the court members.

“I’m sure Namjoon knows what he’s doing,” Taehyung tries, but it doesn’t help to erase the crease between Jungkook’s eyebrows though, or the sour tilt of his mouth. The younger huffs, crossing his arms over his chest as he balances back on the chair. Taehyung refrains from telling him to be careful, knowing the younger won’t listen.

“I just don’t want him to overwork himself.”

The worried look on Taehyung’s face is replaced by a smile. A knowing smile that Jungkook immediately dismisses with a bitter, “Don’t.

“What? I didn’t say anything!” Taehyung laughs.

“Whatever.” Jungkook shifts forward until all four legs of his chair touch ground again. “So what’s new with you?” He reaches for a discarded book lying between them, mindlessly starting to flip through the pages.

“Not much. The blood thing is improving.”

Jungkook hums, eyes still glued to the book. There is something that Taehyung’s been entertaining the idea of, but he hasn’t brought it up with either of his friends. Feeling as though this might be a good time, because it will surely give Jungkook something else to think about, Taehyung says a bit hesitantly, “I’ve been thinking of maybe leaving the coven.”

Surely, that grabs Jungkook’s attention by the throat. He jerks his head up, eyes wide with shock. “You what!?”

Taehyung sighs. “I just don’t feel like I belong here.”

Jungkook’s eyes narrow, catching on. “And where do you belong, hyung?”

“Jungkook—”

“Cause you better not say Venus.”

“I just feel like it would be a better fit for me?”

“Why, because they can drink vampire blood freely? Hyung, you’re not like them.”

“How can I really know that though?”

“Because I’m telling you!” Jungkook exclaims, leaning forward and closer. “They are selfish, reckless and vicious and the exact opposite of who you are.” Gesturing quite wildly with his arms, Jungkook argues, “It would be like someone from Ravenclaw suddenly joining Slytherin!”

Taehyung snorts. Sometimes he forgets Jungkook and he grew up within the same generation. “I don’t think they’re all bad, Jungkook.”

Jungkook cocks his head to the side. “Maybe Jimin isn’t, but everyone else is.”

Something twists uncomfortably inside of him and Taehyung looks away. Jungkook already knows him too well.

Placing both hands on the table between them, Jungkook says, “Don’t you think I get that this is about Jimin?”

“It’s not,” Taehyung mumbles through gritted teeth..

“You do realize he’s just helping you for the money right?” Jungkook says next, and the words sting like the tip of a blade.

Not because Taehyung doesn’t believe him, but because Jungkook is simply just stating the truth. The truth that Taehyung always avoids to acknowledge. Instead he imagines that Jimin is helping him because he genuinely wants to. Because he cares about Taehyung. It hurts his confidence to recognize the actual reason for their weekly meetups, but in the end, that can only ever be the reason.

Taehyung glares at the other, fists clenched under the table. “Nice.” He pushes the chair back, nearly toppling it onto the floor, and stalks out of the library.

“Wait, hyung, I’m sorry I didn’t mean it like that. Taehyung!” he hears Jungkook call after him, but Taehyung just keeps walking.

 

 

 

 

After that day, it seems to have become Jungkook’s sole mission to make Taehyung feel at home in the Litera coven. It didn’t require more than two minutes of begging for forgiveness for Taehyung to forget the incident in the library. In fact, Jungkook didn’t really have anything to apologize for considering he was simply telling the truth. Taehyung decided he couldn’t hold a grudge against him for that and let it go easily.

What Taehyung had said about switching covens stuck with the younger, however, and so tonight they are gathered with a few other vampires from the coven, mostly Jungkook’s friends. It’s game night. Taehyung hadn’t realized until now that game night is something vampires do as well. The games are quite different from any he played as a human, but Taehyung still finds himself enjoying their company. They all knew each other prior to this night of course, but Taehyung never spent any actual time with Jungkook’s friends before. It made him nervous to the point of considering just not coming at all. But both Namjoon and Jungkook had insisted, so bailing wasn’t really an option. Taehyung is sure Jungkook told Namjoon about their conversation as well, because the older vampire seems just as dedicated to making Taehyung feel wanted around here.

And for the duration of the hours they spend together, he does.

It’s easy to forget about your problems when surrounded by good company. The night is a fun one and Taehyung laughs more than he has since he first arrived here. Jungkook’s friends are entertaining and Taehyung can see why he spends so much time with them. One girl in particular, Ara, Taehyung grows very fond of. She sits beside him all night, asking him questions when the others become too loud or disagree over a game rule. She’s the only girl in their group, and though she makes sure Taehyung is included in everything, she can still be as loud as her guy friends. It encourages him to be loud too, which is what helps him ease into the group as the hours pass.

Namjoon sits opposite Taehyung, occasionally offering him a smile. Ever since Jungkook brought up his concerns about the other, Taheyung has noticed the change in his appearance. Vampires already have the looks of a dead person, and so Taehyung didn’t think they could look much worse. But the strain of hard work is clearly visible on Namjoon. There are darker bags under his eyes, his cheeks are hollower and there’s a certain slow-pace in which he moves. He sounds and acts the same, but Taehyung can tell the sleep deprivation is getting to him. Talking to Namjoon would be useless though. Taehyung can only hope this won’t continue much longer.

“Taehyung-ah, it’s your turn!” someone calls, and Taehyung blinks, looking away from Namjoon who he’d apparently been staring at.

They’re playing UNO, the first and only game he actually already knew how to play. Taehyung places a blue 7 and Ara whines next to him. After picking up her cards, Jungkook who is sitting beside her goes next. It’s when it is Namjoon’s turn that Taehyung’s phone starts ringing. They all look at him and he mumbles out a sorry as he reaches for his phone, muting it before looking at the called ID.

Jimin

Next to him, Ara leans over, wiggling her eyebrows at him. “Boyfriend?”

Taehyung’s eyes immediately go to Namjoon, finding that the other is already looking at him. “Um, no, just… a friend.” Then, to the whole group, he says, “Sorry guys, I need to take this. You can continue without me.” After adding his cards to the pile in the middle, Taehyung quickly swipes his thumb across the phone screen before hurrying out of the room.

“Hello.”

Through the line, Jimin’s voice greets him gently. “Taehyung, hi. Is this a bad time?”

“No, not at all,” Taehyung says quietly as he closes the door behind him, already walking toward his own room.

“Okay well, I just wanted to check in to see when you wanted to schedule our next meetup.”

Oh, right. Taehyung had completely forgotten about that. Jungkook’s been dragging him everywhere for the past two days that Taehyung failed to remember to text Jimin. Instantly, he feels bad. Jimin must have waited for him to reach out “Oh, I’m so sorry, I forgot to text you. The last few days have been so busy.”

“Oh yeah?” There’s a smile in Jimin’s voice. “Good busy?”

“I think so, yeah,” Taehyung says, smiling too, as he rounds a corner. “Jungkook has introduced me to his friends.”

“That sounds fun.”

When he reaches his own corridor, Taehyung walks past another two vampires, and like always, there are whispers exchanged, not meant for his ears but still reaching them. Taehyung ignores the words as best as he can, walking faster to his room. He unlocks the door and steps inside, making sure it’s locked again before moving toward his bed.

“Taehyung?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” he breathes out, flopping down onto his stomach on the bed.

“Are you okay?” The worry in Jimin’s voice sounds so genuine, and Taehyung allows himself to believe that it is. Closes his eyes and nods.

Says because Jimin can’t see him, “Yeah, I’m alright. Just tired.”

“Okay,” Jimin replies, though he doesn’t sound fully convinced. “Well, when do you want to meet up? Tomorrow?”

The idea of seeing Jimin tomorrow has Taehyung longing for it already. Trying to hide the eagerness in his voice, he says, “Yeah, tomorrow works. Sinners?”

“Yes. I won’t have to stay tomorrow so I can drive you home.”

It’s something that Jimin has started doing. Mostly because he always insists after that one time Taehyung fell asleep on a bench and woke up just before sunrise. He always drops Taehyung off a block away from the Litera headquarters just to be safe, and it’s become something Taehyung looks forward to. The drive is as long as two songs and because Jimin shockingly doesn’t really listen to music, Taehyung is always the one to choose. That has also become a thing, him introducing new music to Jimin. Though he’s always the more enthusiastic one, it still seems like Jimin appreciates the song recommendations. One time, one of the songs Taehyung showed him was playing at Sinners when he arrived, and it had made him happier than he would like to admit. “It’s not a big deal,” Jimin had said, but to Taehyung it was.

“How was your night?” Taehyung asks, rolling onto his back. He stretches his arm up in the air, pressing his hand against the lowered, tilting ceiling.

“Ah, you know, the usual. Stayed at Sinners until 5 before going home to read.”

A reason why Taehyung gave effort into reading is because it’s Jimin’s favorite thing to do. Taehyung has never been much of a reader himself beyond the books he had to read for school. But to hear Jimin talk so passionately about it made him want to give literature a try. There’s still a long way to go before he’ll enjoy it as much as Jimin, but at least it doesn’t bore him anymore.

“What about you?” Jimin asks next. “What did you do?”

“Just hung out with Jungkook’s friends. They’re nice.”

“Oh, did I interrupt you guys?”

Technically yes, because Jimin calling made Taehyung leave the others. But instead of saying that, Taehyung settles more comfortably on the bed and tells Jimin, “No, not at all.”

Jimin hums softly. “Okay, good.”

Taehyung doesn’t mean to, but he ends up talking with Jimin on the phone for another hour. After some time had passed, Jungkook texted him asking where he went, and Taehyung responded saying he felt tired and went to sleep and to say sorry to the others. The response told him to not be sorry and that the others wished him a good sleep, and Taehyung almost felt guilty. Almost.

 

 

 

 

They wait in silence, the suspense prickling uncomfortably at their patience. Taehyung licks his lips, still tasting the blood there. Jimin stands beside him, ready with his hand clasped around Taehyung’s arm in case the nausea springs on him unannounced. It never comes though and after a full minute of nothing, Taehyung turns his head to look at Jimin, eyes nearly popping out of his sockets.

“I don’t… feel anything?”

“Really? You’re sure?” Jimin double-checks, not quite letting the relief show on his face.

Taehyung nods. “Nothing. Just feels like I’ve fed.”

Jimin lets go of his arm and lets out a small laugh, “Not what I had expected.”

The shock slips from Taehyung’s expression and he laughs too, pressing his palm against his mouth. He stares at the glass in front of him, not quite able to grasp that only minutes ago, it was filled with almost only human blood. They felt confident enough today to add less vampire blood than planned, both skeptical when mixing the drink together. Taehyung was ready to puke. Expected it the second the last drop ran down his throat. Except he feels fine. He feels more than fine, he feels fantastic. Full for the first time in months.

“Me neither,” Taehyung breathes out, shaking his head.

“Still want me to drive you home?” Jimin says, mostly as a joke because for obvious reasons, he doesn’t have to. They only ever started doing that because Taehyung struggled walking home by himself. Tonight, he won’t face that same problem, but a part of him wants to.

So, hoping his intentions aren’t too transparent, he says, “I wouldn’t mind it.”

It appears his answer is what Jimin had expected, because the other simply laughs and grabs his jacket before walking toward the exit. Taehyung hurries after, noting the glances thrown their way as they walk side by side out the club. The regulars at Sinners have undoubtedly noticed Taehyung’s presence there, even more so his interactions with Jimin. Every guest of the club knows who Jimin is, and so Taehyung can only imagine how badly they want to know who he is and why he is spending time with Jimin. Taehyung wishes the reason wasn’t as unexciting as it is.

Jimin drives a Porsche. The first night Taehyung had seen it, his jaw had dropped to the ground. He’d expected Jimin’s car to be nice much like everything else he owns, but a Porsche? He didn’t mention this to Jimin, but Taehyung has a thing for this particular car brand. When he sat in the passenger seat for the first time, he purred, relishing in the scent of clean leather.

Now, he still admires the car, but he has gotten used to it. Slides into the seat next to Jimin as if it’s second nature. He knows he shouldn’t. Knows this is all just temporary. Tonight, that thought is particularly present because he feels fine, meaning soon, he won’t need Jimin’s help anymore. That scares him, because during these past few weeks, he’s managed to carve out a space in his life just for Jimin. Once they stop seeing each other, Taehyung is afraid that space will feel like a void.

As Jimin starts up the car, he naturally hands Taehyung his phone. And Taehyung, also naturally, types in the passcode he memorized a long time ago. Like always, he plays a song he has not yet showed Jimin. They listen to it mostly in silence, Taehyung mouthing along to the words and Jimin moving his head with the beat. From an outer point of view, they probably look like friends. Taehyung never asked, but he wants to consider Jimin his friend. A part of him knows they can’t be because of their covens and truthfully, he doubts Jimin would risk it for him.

The second song is nearing its end by the time Jimin parks the car a block away from the Litera headquarters. Taehyung’s hands are pressed together in his lap, not wanting to reach for the car door handle.

“I better get going,” he says, though he makes no move to leave.

Beside him, Jimin lowers the volume of the music and nods. “Yeah. Today was really successful, Taehyung. I think this problem of yours will be gone very soon.”

Taehyung forces a smile. “Can’t wait.”

It’s strange, how weeks ago, he wanted nothing but to drink human blood again. Now, the very idea of living normally feels wrong. Like it’s not who he is.

Taehyung’s phone vibrates in his lap and he turns it over in his palm. “Namjoon is asking when I’ll be home,” he tells Jimin.

“Ah.” Jimin smiles a little. “How is Namjoon these days? We haven’t spoken in a while.”

It’s the million dollar question really, because even though Namjoon says he is perfectly fine, his appearance tells another story. Shrugging, Taehyung says, “He’s doing okay. Working hard to be elected as one of the court members.”

“Really?” Well, I’m not surprised. Namjoon’s always enjoyed being in a leadership position.”

“Mm,” Taehyung agrees. With somewhat of an amused tone, he adds, “I just hope he won’t be too nervous and make a fool out of himself. It’s happened before.”

At that, Jimin starts laughing. Really laughing and Taehyung looks at him at first, surprised because Jimin never actually laughs. Eventually, he joins in as Jimin croaks out, “No, let’s hope not,” and the two laugh together for a good minute. Taehyung decides that he really likes Jimin’s laugh and would like to hear it more often.

Once they calm down, Taehyung looks away, picking at a thread in his ripped, black jeans. “Well, I should go.” When he turns to look at Jimin again, they’re suddenly a lot closer. Swallowing, he says, “Thank you for driving me.”

Taehyung is not sure what it is, but there’s a definite pull between the two of them. This close, he can see the mole on Jimin’s pale cheekbone. The tip of his fangs. The deep rose of his lips. His eyes linger there, barely registering Jimin telling him, “Anytime.”

Jimin is so close and the only thing on Taehyung’s mind is how he never wants them to be further apart than this. It’s been the reason for his unease these days, knowing he might never see the other again once this is all over. The knowledge claws at his insides and he doesn’t know how to soothe it. When his eyes flicker up to Jimin’s again, he notices how Jimin is staring at his lips too. There’s want there, for something unknown, and Taehyung breathes out slowly. So close. “Jimin—”

He feels Jimin’s breath against his skin, sweet and irresistible. It’s gone the second Jimin pulls back, and Taehyung finds himself wanting to chase it. “Ah,” the space between them is back, greater this time, as Jimin sits back in his seat. He doesn’t look at Taehyung when he says, “You should go.”

Panic rises in Taehyung’s chest. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s fine,” Jimin assures him. “You’re just confused.”

“Confused?” Taehyung frowns at his profile before looking away. Under his breath, barely audible, he says, “You really are just doing this for the money.”

Jimin looks over at him. “Sorry?”

“Nothing.” Taehyung unfastens his seatbelt, hurrying out of the car before Jimin can see the humiliated look on his face. “I’ll see you later.”

“Taehyung—”

Slam.

 

 

 

 

Taehyung runs home. He waits until he rounds a corner and is out of Jimin’s sight before speeding up, feeling as though the entire world just saw him completely embarrass himself. Humiliation prickles at the corners of his eyes. How could he be so unbelievably stupid? Of course Jimin doesn’t want him like that. The thought hadn’t even crossed Taehyung’s mind until that split moment when he imagined what it would feel like to have those cold lips press against his own.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” he chants quietly as he strides down he hallways toward his room. The wish of no one seeing him is neglected when Taehyung hears someone calling his name.

Turning toward the library he just passed, Taehyung spots both Namjoon and Jungkook making their way over to him. Taehyung pulls himself together, smiling like he normally would when they reach him. “Hey.”

“We’re going out,” Jungkook says, not bothering with a hello. “And you’re coming.”

“Out as in?”

“Clubbing, yes.”

Taehyung sighs. What he’d rather do right now is hide away in his room and be left alone with his misery, but judging by the look on Jungkook’s face, he knows there’s no getting out of this. Besides, maybe it’s better to keep himself distracted instead of going over tonight’s events in his head over and over and over.

“Alright, I’m in. Let me just go change.”

Thirty something minutes later, a group of them leave the headquarters together. It’s Friday, meaning whatever club they go to will be significantly more packed than on the weekdays. Even vampires prefer the weekends to go out. They enjoy moving around more humans, expanding their menu. There are a couple of clubs close to the Litera Headquarters that offer services for both humans and vampires. Jungkook’s favorite place is called Violin because it's known for human customers who are willing. Meaning, they are well aware of the vampires around them and will happily give up their necks for the high.

Since he turned, Taehyung has only ever drank from one human, and that ended with him running out of the club to hurl, making quite a scene. Even though it’s in his nature now, the idea of sinking his teeth into a human being seems so foregin to him. He knows it’s the most exceptional high a vampire can feel and from the too detailed descriptions he’s gotten from Jungkook, Taehyung doesn’t doubt he’ll love it too once it doesn’t make him sick anymore.

When they arrive at Violin, the lineup isn’t too bad. It’s sometime in between the first and the second wave of people arriving, so they only spend about five minutes queuing before they’re let inside. The atmosphere of the club is no different from all the others. Heavy beats blast from hidden speakers, neon lights setting the mood to accompany them. It reminds him of Sinners in many ways, the only difference being that vampires can’t drink from people’s neck out in the open here. Taehyung spots a few couples here and there who are undoubtedly human and vampire, minutes away from finding someplace private for what they are both craving at this point.

At the sight of people dancing, Taehyung’s state of mind immediately shifts. While the others march over to the bar, Taehyung is already making his way toward the dance floor. He’s swallowed up by the crowd, pressed against warm and cold bodies as they jump around, drunk on the ambience alone. It allows Taehyung to completely push away any kind of intruding thoughts. Allows him to shut his brain off completely and simply drown in the ocean of people surrounding him.

At some point, Namjoon and Jungkook are beside him, equally high on the atmosphere. In environments like these, Namjoon tends to flourish. He’s more reserved and careful about the way he acts in front of others, but here, no one cares. Here he can let go of everything that is a constant stressful factor and simply enjoy himself. Jungkook is still very much himself, loud and always drawing attention from those around him. Dances like nobody is watching and laughs louder than the music. Taehyung is somewhere in between, but tonight he is on the quieter side. Simply lets himself be led by everything and everyone around him.

They are on and off the dance floor for an hour before Taehyung decides he needs a break. Yells to his friends over the music that he will be right back before making his way through the thick crowd. The club is much busier now, bodies everywhere. Taehyung pushes past them all on his way toward the exit, craving the fresh air even though he no longer needs it the same. Outside, there is no lineup anymore. The sidewalk is only occupied by a few smokers and so Taehyung rounds the corner of the venue and goes into its side alley, hoping to be alone for a while.

At first he believes he is, not spotting the other boy standing a few meters away. It isn’t until he moves out of the shadows that Taehyung spots him from where he’s leaning against the club’s brick exterior. A street lamp serves as a weak spotlight for the boy, highlighting the features of his face as he approaches Taehyung.

“You’re a vampire, aren’t you?” the boy asks without any kind of introduction whatsoever.

It does strike Taehyung as odd, but judging by the nature of the boy’s gaze on him, he’d say there is no interest there for a name exchange or something alike. Normally, Taehyung wouldn’t go and share such a detail about himself to humans, but this one is clearly already well aware of his kind. Is probably a visitor of Violin tonight as well. His hair is dyed a caramel brown, similar to his honeyed skin, and his attire tells Taehyung that he is probably a college student — ripped jeans, converse, flannel and a jean-jacket on the nicer side. In some ways, he reminds Taehyung of himself.

The boy is standing in front of him now, smiling knowingly as he waits for Taehyung’s answer.

Adjusting his posture, still leaning against the wall, Taehyung tells the boy, “You’re human, aren’t you?”

“Human,” the boy chuckles, tilting his head slightly as he examines Taehyung closer. “Yes, I suppose I am.”

“What’s so funny?”

The boy shrugs. “I’ve just never been asked that question.”

Taehyung hums. If he would take a wild guess, he’d say this isn’t this boy’s first interaction with a vampire. He doesn’t seem scared, doesn’t seem all that amazed. More than anything, it seems as though he wants something from Taehyung. “So, what can I do for you?”

This time, the boy’s scoffs, but it’s more of an amused one than offended. “Are you guys always this formal?”

“Depends.”

“On?”

“The human.”

“Ah.” Taking a bold step forward, leaving only a small space between them, the boy says, “What kind of human am I, then?”

Frankly, Taehyung is still way too young of a vampire to be able to answer that question. Since he turned, he has had very few interactions with humans and even less impressions left after meeting them. He’s not sure what it is about himself that makes this boy believe otherwise, but Taehyung decides to roll with it. Enjoys the fascination that he hasn’t quite experienced in this lifetime yet.

It’s Taehyung’s turn to examine the other. Squints his eyes to demonstrate that he’s taken the question seriously. His eyes travel across the boy’s face, lingering on his lips before moving down to his neck. Under his thin skin, the jugular vein pops out slightly, blood visibly pumping through it. Taehyung licks his lips, hunger making itself known beneath his own skin. “I think you’re the reckless kind of human. The kind that lingers in dark alleyways in the hopes of being bitten.”

The boy notably swallows, and Taehyung swears he’s even closer now. Can practically already taste the blood in his mouth. There’s a smile on the boy’s face when he asks, “Why reckless?”

“Because you never know what kind of vampire you will meet.”

“No?” The grin widens and Taehyung wants it gone. “Then what kind are you?”

Tearing his eyes away from the exposed neck, Taehyung looks at the boy with hunger in his eyes. One that contradicts his next words. “One that might not bite you no matter how much you beg for it.”

Taehyung isn’t sure what has gotten into him. He doesn’t feel like himself when he speaks, the bold words foreign on his tongue. Never has he encountered a human that has brought out a side like this. A part of him likes it, likes the control. But another is terrified because he doesn’t want to hurt this boy. Is worried he will because the hunger he’s feeling now is greater than ever and for once he feels as though human blood will sate him. Doesn’t feel appalled by the idea of sinking his teeth into this boy.

“Not even if I say please?” the boy drawls. Taehyung is too honed in on his neck to notice how close they are now, the front of their bodies touching. The boy slots a leg between Taehyung’s, leaning forward to brush his nose against the side of Taehyung’s face. Whispers into his ear, “I know you want to.”

Something inside Taehyung snaps. He flips them around at the speed of light, pressing the boy up against the wall. A hand flies to one side of the boy’s neck, Taehyung’s teeth digging into the other and blood exploding in his mouth. He barely registers the boy gasping, moaning or the way he presses himself closer. The taste of blood is so powerful that the ecstasy completely overthrows Taehyung’s, shutting out everything but the sweet flavour from his conscience.

Too many seconds pass, and if it wasn’t for the thunder of voices coming from the street, he wouldn’t have noticed the boy going limp in his hold. Taehyung pulls away with a gasp, watching with wide eyes as the boy sinks to the ground. Two puncture wounds adorn his neck, blood still oozing out. He’s still conscious, eyes slim but open when he tilts his head back against the wall. Taehyung towers over him, waits for ten seconds, twenty, thirty and when an entire minute has passed without him feeling nauseous, Taehyung starts laughing. It’s a victorious laughter, but it sounds wicked to his ears and he can only imagine how insane he must look.

Eventually, he pulls himself together enough to help the boy back on his feet. It’s then that the voices around the corner grow louder. They are angry, fighting and Taehyung goes on instinct. Something in his gut tells him to run, and so he does, leaving the boy without as much as a goodbye. The boy calls after him but Taehyung is already gone, worried now because he definitely just heard Jungkook’s voice.

Indeed outside Violin is a group of people, undoubtedly vampires, and in the middle stands Jungkook, anger apparent in his appearance. Namjoon is right behind him with a hand clasped around the younger’s arm, brows knitted with worry. Taehyung recognizes the other group of vampires as Venus, and it’s only then that he realizes how ugly this might actually be.

Taehyung speeds up, hurrying toward them despite not knowing what the hell he’s going to do. It doesn’t matter. He is too late. Everything happens really fast, and when Jungkook suddenly charges forward, the vampire closest to him draws a knife. Taehyung only catches a glimpse of it in the moonlight before Jungkook falls to the ground with an ear splitting cry. After that, chaos erupts. Vampires scatter left and right, even the Litera ones. Taehyung doesn’t understand why until he reaches his friends, only then catching the sirens drawing closer.

“Taehyung!” Namjoon exclaims when he reaches them, looking up at him from where he has thrown himself next to Jungkook on the ground. “Help me get him up. We need to go, now!”

They move fast, pulling Jungkook onto his feet despite his protest. They stumble away down the sidewalk and away from the club, waiting until they are alone and out of sight before utilizing their vampire speed to get home.

At the headquarters, they make it to Jungkook’s room undetected. If the court found out about this, things would only get worse. According to Namjoon, there hasn’t been an incident between Venus and Litera for years, and some vampires have even moved on to believe that the century-long feud is over. Clearly, it’s not.

As they tend to Jungkook’s wound, Namjoon explains to Taehyung what happened. Apparently, the fight had started inside the club. After the two covens got a whim of each other, a provocative encounter was inevitable. According to Namjoon, a Venus vampire had approached Jungkook by the bar, and Jungkook, too prideful for his own good, hadn’t handled the situation all that way. Had asked to take it outside and in the process, brought his entire friend group with him. Of course, the Venus vampire did as well.

The cut isn’t as deep as it first appeared. Vampires heal fast and so after Namjoon has cleaned out the wound and the blood around it, Jungkook’s skin is already starting to close.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there,” Taehyung whispers to his friend, leaning forward to brush his fingers through Jungkook’s bangs.

“It’s okay, hyung,” Jungkook promises with a weak smile.

It’s not. Taehyung knows he should have been there, knows Namjoon must have searched for him when it all went down. Knowing he might have been able to prevent this from happening makes him feel terribly guilty, especially because of where he’d actually been.

It all sort of hits him all at once.

It’s been a long night. What happened with Jimin earlier feels like yesterday. Drinking blood feels like hours ago. The memories pound in his head and Taehyung excuses himself quietly before moving away from the bed. Promises to bring Jungkook a blood bag from the minifridge to strengthen him up.

While at the other side of the room, Taehyung can hear the other two whisper quietly to each other. He hears the strain in Namjoon’s voice and the regret in Jungkook’s. Taehyung can only imagine how scared Namjoon must have been. He saw it in his eyes when Jungkook had fallen.

“You can’t go putting yourself in situations like this, Jungkook-ah.”

“I know.”

“I’m serious. Never again, do you hear me?”

“I hear you, hyung. I’m sorry.”

Taehyung looks over at them, ache tugging at his heartstrings. Namjoon is bent down, forehead resting against Jungkook’s. There’s a tear on the younger’s cheek, but Taehyung can’t tell who it belongs to.

It’s a private moment between the two, and although he knows he isn’t, Taehyung feels as though he is an intruder of something too intimate for his eyes. They love each other more than anything and anyone, and after what happened tonight, Taehyung wants them to have a moment alone. So, leaving the blood bag on the counter, Taehyung slips out of Jungkook’s room quietly. He will visit him later to make sure he is okay, but as long as Namjoon is there, Taehyung knows Jungkook will be just fine.

The headquarters are quiet this close to sunrise, mostly everyone has fallen asleep at this point. There’s still another hour or so before the sun will rise above the horizon though, and so Taehyung decides to go for a walk. With too many thoughts weighing down on him, he knows staying in his room will only suffocate him more.

The air feels nice as he walks toward the city center again, blowing through his hair gently. The sky is no longer pitch black, the sun already giving it some color ahead of its appearance. Taehyung hasn’t seen a blue sky in a long time, and although he could still see it if he wanted too, he knows it wouldn’t be the same. Would hurt too much knowing it’s no longer what his body needs because of what he is now.

The streets are empty this early in the morning. Not a single soul in sight. That is why Taehyung should have heard them. Should have sensed that someone was following him.

Only he doesn’t. Taehyung is completely oblivious and doesn’t have as much as a second to scream for help before something rams into the back of his head, knocking him out cold.

He never saw it coming.