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survivin'

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after just having gotten into his car, fully loaded and ready to go, seokjin spends about two full minutes weighing the pros and cons of turning on his radio. the music would be a nice way to avoid the silence that’s sure to confront him with his thoughts and feelings; the exact ones he’s been trying to avoid for a substantial amount of time now.

on the other hand, the whole reason he’d decided to get away was because he needed that silence. he’s been caught up in the whirlwind that is his life and the people he’s surrounded himself with for a while now, and he’s not sure how much more he can take before he snaps.

he leaves the radio off as he backs out of his parking space and leaves the underground parking of his home. he begins the drive in silence, begging his thoughts to go easy on him for now.

perhaps seokjin’s a little scared. he knows what’s been looming over him, waiting to ensnare him in its toxic tendrils and swallow him whole. he knows it’s inevitable and that he’s going to suffer regardless, but he’s not sure he wants to let it have its way while he’s driving. a moving car isn’t the best way to do a heavy thinking session, especially not in one he’s driving himself. it seems kind of dangerous.

still, seokjin leaves the radio off. the only sound that fills the muted and safe atmosphere of his car every once in a while is the calm and polite voice of the navigator telling him where to go. she sounds like a nice lady. her voice is comforting and reassuring, and seokjin wishes she could narrate the struggles brewing right inside of his stupid brain.

what a breeze it would be. if he heard a seokjin is under the impression that he is a good for nothing. despite his wild success with his last book, he thinks himself a fraud. this is a prime example of the impostor syndrome at work in that soothing voice, he’d probably be able to laugh along with the nice lady, shake his head and go what a silly little author! who on earth would get so worked up about such an insignificant little thing?

but alas. the soothing voice only tells him when to make a right, and how many meters he has left before he’s supposed to get off the highway, and that he’s supposed to follow the road for a couple of kilometers, even when seokjin thinks the road couldn’t possibly lead him anywhere.

spoiler alert: it does. that long, winding road right through a thick forest coaxes him right past the town that the hotel he’s staying at is outside of.

but seokjin doesn’t know that when he first pulls up onto it. he goes right and left and around in what feels like a loop, doubting this will take him anywhere but so deep into the forest he’ll never be able to make it out.

it’s just when he’s beginning to doubt the lady with the nice voice, not yet resenting her but getting awfully close, that he finally zooms out of the trees into a massive clearing.

there’s farmland on either side of him, as far as the eye can see—or as much as he can see, not wanting to take his eyes off the road. it’s still as deserted as before, but he feels like he’s entered the land of the living again. no longer is he being stifled by the thick, overpowering atmosphere of the forest, seeking to cage him in and trap him in their spindly branches until the day he dies.

perhaps it’s a little grim. the trees are merely trees. the forest is only a forest. green. brown. dead and silent, yet alive and terribly loud. there’s no movement, and yet he believes to have seen a constant flurry of it just in his peripherals.

never when he quickly glances over, though.

whatever the case, seokjin is relieved to be clear of the trees. the farmland is boring and doesn’t offer him anything visually stimulating, but at least the lady is speaking to him again, going: “after five hundred meters, please turn right.”

turning right gives him more farmland on either side, with the added bonus of: more forest on the right and up ahead. when he sees those trees in front of him, he gets a sneaking suspicion he’s going to drive right into it again and that he won’t be so lucky to get out this time.

but he’ll see what to do about that once he gets there, he supposes. there’s no use worrying about the inevitable.

 

the hotel stands in the forest, like he’d started fearing along the way, but there is a pretty significant clearing around it, so he supposes it could be worse.

the hotel is beautiful, although architecturally confused. the moment he drives up the gravel path, he briefly wonders if he’s left korea and stepped into a victorian tale of horror. there’s no reason for this building to exist here, no reason at all, and yet it just exists.

the closer he gets to the house, the more he slows down, until he’s going at a crawl and he can lean over his steering wheel to look at the monstrosity that is the hotel. it doesn’t look monstrous per se. it’s just… it’s just…

seokjin parks his car where the sign tells him to and gets out slowly, unable to take his eyes off the hotel right in front of him. he can’t figure out why it looks so ominous, when it should be an otherwise innocent-looking building.

it’s only a building that looks completely out of place. it’s only a building that probably shouldn’t be here at all. seokjin’s brain can’t really make sense of it. he just knows it gives off some very strange vibes that he can’t accurately pinpoint.

he gets the idea that he shouldn’t be here at all. even so, this feels like the perfect place for him to be. he knows it’s conflicting, but the entire hotel is, so maybe that’s alright.

while staring at the building, he gets the feeling that there are several eyes on him. the feeling that he’s being watched isn’t one he’s able to shake. even when he scans every single room he’s able to see, he doesn’t notice anyone in the windows.

he stares at one particular room on the second floor for a while. there’s nothing there, even though he feels like there should be. what makes it worse is that he can clearly see a silhouette in the window two rooms over, except it’s not there when he looks straight at it.

seokjin frowns up at the hotel. no matter how long he looks at it, he knows he won’t see anything. he ends up turning around, facing his car, to get his stuff out. it’s the only useful thing he can do.

 

after getting all his stuff out and lugging it up the stairs to the entrance, seokjin stands in front of it while an overwhelming dose of apprehension washes over him. the entrance is made up of two giant, thick doors. they’re black and shiny looking, with tacky brass knobs and knockers that look a little too polished.

on closer inspection, the knobs look like small, little lion heads. seokjin doesn’t know how to feel about them, so he does the only thing he can: he straightens again, grips onto the knocker—it reminds him a little of a crude depiction of a really sad-looking medusa, which seokjin also doesn’t know how to feel about—lifts it up and brings it back down to knock.

even through the thick doors, seokjin can hear the knocking echo through the hall. he waits for about a second, before the door creaks open.

where he expects to find a person staring at him, he finds… no one. it’s only when he peeks in that he sees the reception area. there’s a person there, leaned over the counter and looking at their nails. either they haven’t noticed seokjin come in, or they simply don’t care.

seokjin steps in. once he’s through the door, he turns around to close it behind him, only to find it creaking shut behind him. there’s no one to push it shut. when he looks up, he doesn’t see any mechanism for it, either. maybe the walls aren’t straight, or the floor uneven. it’s fine.

looking away from the door, he finds the person at reception looking at him now. it’s hard to ignore how shamelessly seokjin’s being checked out. while he’s flattered, he’s also mildly unnerved. there’s something about those eyes, and the way he’s being appraised as though he’s nothing but a juicy piece of meat—and not in the fun way.

“hello,” he says, as he approaches the reception desk.

the person just smiles. it’s a pretty smile, but it looks a bit dangerous. seokjin gets the idea that there’s more to it than just a smile. it’s not supposed to be welcoming or friendly at all; it’s meant to be intimidating.

“fresh meat,” the person remarks. seokjin doubts it’s aimed at him, although he’s certain it is about him. “you’ve come to check in?”

seokjin nods slowly. feeling particularly nervous, he hoists his bag onto his shoulder a little more securely. he takes another few steps up to the desk, until he can drum his fingers on the surface if he so wishes to. he doesn’t, but he contemplates it. “i made a reservation?”

the person hums. “kim seokjin-ssi. we’ve been expecting you.”

“you have?” seokjin asks, before he remembers that’s what typically happens when you make a reservation. people will start expecting you, since they know you’re coming. “you have. ah. great.”

“allow me to check you in.”

seokjin gets the idea that it wouldn’t matter whether he’d allow it or not. he’s not getting out of this hotel. the moment he’d stepped in and the door closed behind him, his fate was sealed.

perhaps he’s just being dramatic. same difference.

“thank you,” seokjin smiles, he glances down at the employee’s name tag for a fraction of a second and hopes it comes across as smoothly as possible. “park jimin-ssi.”

since most of it was handled at reservation, there’s not much left to do. jimin spends some time on his computer filling in some details, before he turns around to face the key rack behind him and reaches for the right one. he hands it over with a flourish and steps out from behind the desk.

“let me show you to your room! is this all your luggage?” jimin asks, nodding toward the carrier standing next to seokjin’s feet.

seokjin nods and smiles politely. he’s a little surprised that the receptionist would step from behind his desk and take him to his room. aren’t there bellhops for that sort of thing? shouldn’t jimin stay at his post in case a guest is looking for assistance?

apparently, jimin notices his surprise. he smiles again, big and kind of predatory, but in a sexy sort of way that’s entirely confusing. “we no longer have a bellhop. poor thing got all gobbled up. shall we?” he waves to one of the elevators and raises his brows expectantly.

since seokjin is too afraid to ask, he just nods slowly, attempts another polite smile and follows closely behind.

 

the room is luxurious. it’s big and open and airy. the bed is comfortable and the desk has enough space for seokjin to write comfortably at, which is really all he needs. he’d come here for a desk and a quiet place to write. the room will do just fine.

there’s a balcony, too, which he finds himself drawn to almost immediately. he pulls the french doors open to step out and have a look at what stretches out below him.

there’s a ridiculously big lawn right in front of him. it’s greener than green. either it’s extremely fake, or they’re using an absurd amount of water and/or magic to keep it looking fresh.

“rich people,” seokjin mutters. he shakes his head.

there’s a hedge maze, too, off to the side. he can see crudely cut shapes meant to look like animals—possibly—and an ugly fountain right in the middle. there are some randomly placed benches along the way, too. they look kind of inviting.

he could take his laptop out there one day and attempt to write in the hedge maze. he wouldn’t be hidden from sight, considering all the hedges are low enough to look over even when sat on a bench, but that’s fine. he doesn’t need to hide.

after staring at the maze for some time, he turns back to look at the lawn. there hadn’t been anyone out there when he’d looked at it, nor had he seen anyone approach in his peripherals, but there’s a person now.

the person is casually standing right in the middle, hands stuffed in their pants’ pockets. whoever they are, they seem to be staring straight at seokjin.

seokjin stares back for some time, curious and wondering if they can actually see him from that distance, or if it’s just a mixture of coincidence and paranoia on seokjin’s side. after staring for some time, the person on the lawn starts thoroughly creeping him out. they don’t stop staring. they don’t move at all. seokjin couldn’t possibly see them blink from this distance, but he feels deep in his gut that they aren’t blinking at all.

sufficiently creeped out, seokjin finally turns around. he gets back inside and closes the doors behind him without glancing back toward the lawn. he doesn’t want to know whether the person is still there. he’d rather not know.

since he’s exhausted from his car ride, he trudges over to the bed and flops down onto it dramatically. he drifts off not too long after crawling under the covers.

despite the soft and comfortable bed, seokjin sleeps fitfully.

 

for a few minutes after waking up, seokjin does nothing but blearily blink up at the ceiling. it takes him a moment to realise he’s no longer at home. it takes him another moment to realise he’s in the hotel swallowed up by the forest. by extension, doesn’t that mean he has been swallowed up, as well?

i’m going to die here.

he’s not sure why the thought comes to him and he doesn’t do anything with it either. it comes and then it goes again, and he’s too sleepy to be shocked by it. in fact, he’s so sleepy that he forgets about it seconds after he thinks it.

maybe he wasn’t supposed to think it at all. maybe he’d thought something the hotel didn’t want him to think, so it made him forget.

seokjin sits up slowly. he frowns heavily as he rubs his face and wonders why he’s decided to give the hotel sentiency in his mind. is he bored? or is it an unfortunate byproduct that comes with being a writer?

rather than spend his first few waking moments confusing and picking apart his poor mind, he decides to give it a break and gets up to take a shower. the hot water will do him some good. he can leave his room after that and wander around a bit—see what the place has to offer.

 

“hello,” a voice says.

seokjin turns around to find himself in the library. he doesn’t remember walking there. he doesn’t remember leaving his room or even taking a shower. he stares down at his feet, as though they’re able to account for this gap in his memory.

have you guys taken me here?

the moment he shifts his foot, he remembers the shower, he remembers walking toward it and walking back out of it and out of his room, down the grand stairs and through various corridors. he remembers, although vaguely.

“i don’t remember seeing you before,” another voice says. “new arrival?”

seokjin blinks up. in front of him are two men. they’re smiling politely—kindly, even. unlike jimin’s smile, these two smiles don’t make him think he’s going to be devoured. “yeah. i got here around noon. you’re… guests?”

one of them nods happily. he’s the smiley of the two, and the friendly face makes seokjin feel a little more at ease. “we are! i’m hoseok. and this is my husband yoongi.” he gently elbows yoongi in the side.

“are you planning on staying a while?” yoongi asks. he smiles, too, but it’s a little more cautious. still, it’s a good smile that manages to make seokjin’s mind feel a little clearer. the fog is pulled back to reveal his descent down the stairs, step by step. now that he thinks about it, he remembers the way the railing felt beneath his hand as he trailed his fingers along it.

seokjin hums. he doesn’t know whether two weeks is a long or a short amount of time when it comes to staying at a hotel. it may be on the long side, but it also may not be. who is to say what’s a long time? “for a bit. have you been here long?”

“oh, yes,” hoseok says, smiling.

“too long,” yoongi jokes.

seokjin gets the idea that it’s not a particularly funny joke to them, but who is he to guess what they’re truly thinking? “this is a… nice place,” he says, nodding to himself as he looks around. he’s not sure whether he’s talking about the library or the hotel as a whole. the library is definitely a nice place, though. and the hotel is, too, if you ignore the creeping sensation that you’re being watched at every moment.

“sure!” hoseok says.

when seokjin turns back to face them, hoseok and yoongi are no longer there. he looks around, peeks behind the shelves just around him, but he doesn’t find the two husbands. had they even been there at all? where had they gone? they couldn’t have disappeared so quickly; he hadn’t even heard their footsteps; they hadn’t even said goodbye.

he’s a little unnerved, but not for very long. while he feels like he should be unnerved for much longer, his mind reassures him it’s quite alright. he’d probably dreamed or imagined it all. byproduct of being a writer.

it’s alright, seokjin. we’re just going to let it slide...

 

after that strange encounter in the library that seokjin’s decided to forget about for the time being, he figures it’s time to take it outside. maybe the fresh air will do him some good. maybe it’ll clear his mind a little and stop it from going all fumbled like before.

he leaves the library through the double doors leading to the outside, onto a terrace that overlooks the lawn. he doesn’t make it more than two steps before he spots another person.

rather than approach this new person, seokjin decides to stand still for a moment and observe. he wants to make sure this new person won’t disappear like yoongi and hoseok had. he’s not sure why he feels like he has to make sure of that, but his mind tells him to. he has to make sure.

the person in front of him doesn’t disappear. rather, he looks up and smiles warmly. “hello, newcomer.”

seokjin looks behind him to confirm that he’s the newcomer, that no other person had come in since his arrival at the hotel and stolen that coveted title from him. once he’s confirmed it, he turns back around and offers a smile of his own. “hi.”

“come sit,” the person says, sitting up and pulling out a chair just for seokjin.

it’s as seokjin plants his ass in the chair that’s been offered to him that he realises he’s sitting next to the person that had majorly creeped him out before, back in the questionable comfort of his own hotel room. this is the person who had been staring up at him from the lawn.

looking at the supposedly creepy person now, it’s hard for seokjin to remember why he’d been so unsettled. he’s quite friendly looking, and there’s nothing to suggest he’s creepy. it’d probably all been a coincidence; he hadn’t really been staring at seokjin back then, he’d probably just been staring up at the hotel. to admire it or something. who knows.

“i’m taehyung,” taehyung says. his smile grows a little wider and a little warmer and seokjin feels himself relax completely. yeah, there’s no way taehyung is a creep.

“seokjin,” he says.

“i know.”

seokjin lifts his brows in question. he’s been to a few hotels in his lifetime, but never before has a guest made known that they know his name without immediately going i’m a big fan after.

“jimin,” taehyung clarifies, with yet another charming smile. “he clues me in on everything.”

“ah. you’re not a guest, then? hotel staff?”

“me? oh, no. long-time guest. permanent resident, really.”

“oh, really? how long have you been here?” seokjin asks, wondering what on earth would possess someone to stay at the hotel for such a long time. the place may be beautiful, but he’s already vaguely starting to make up his mind about the fact that he shouldn’t be here.

he can’t imagine permanently staying at this place, but to each their own.

taehyung laughs softly and pleasantly. “forever. feels like i’ve never lived anywhere else!”

he moves on from the subject with ease and steers it back over to seokjin. he asks him what he does and whether he has any plans during his stay at the hotel, as well as how he came upon the place. they’re all pretty normal questions, and seokjin goes away from that conversation thinking nothing of it.

in the vast sea of strange that the hotel has offered seokjin in the short amount of time he’s been there, taehyung is an island of normalcy. it’s kind of nice. during his conversation with taehyung, seokjin feels like a normal hotel guest doing normal hotel guest things.

 

after that pleasantly normal experience, seokjin decides to circle back to his room. there’s no need for him to explore everything the building has to offer right away, when he’d come here to lock himself away and write. exploring will perhaps grant him some inspiration, but he’s got time. he should probably try to get some writing done first.

seokjin spends the rest of the afternoon in his room, in front of an empty document, staring at a blinking cursor. it feels like he’s only been sat there for a few minutes when there’s a knock at his door.

he looks up and blinks. his eyes burn and his head is swimming. the room has gone dark, but the white glare from his laptop screen distorts his vision horribly, to the point that he has to squint at the door.

when had the daylight decided to go?

after another knock, seokjin slowly gets his stiff body into motion and walks up to the door. he opens it to find jimin there, smiling easily.

“good evening,” he greets. “i was sent to ask you whether you’d like to join everyone for dinner.”

“dinner? is it that time already?”

jimin hums. “time goes by quickly, huh? sometimes i blink and hours will have passed.”

under normal circumstances, seokjin would laugh and nod and think nothing of it, since acknowledging the passage of time is a very normal and very human thing to do. but time has been moving strangely ever since he came here, so the comment strikes him as odd.

“what do you say?” jimin prompts, when seokjin remains silent to think about time and how he wishes he had a better grip on it.

“huh?” seokjin says, shaking himself out of his stupor. “yeah, sure…” he’s unnerved by jimin’s grin and the concept of time, but he’s hungry and he didn’t think to bring anything to eat.

having dinner couldn’t hurt.

 

when seokjin makes his way down to the dining room, hoseok and yoongi are already sat there talking quietly among themselves. they seem wholly unaware of the fact that seokjin’s joined them, and they don’t look up or respond when he greets them. the two are so caught up in their own little world that they aren’t clued in on anything happening outside of it, it seems.

since they’re not aware of seokjin sitting opposite them, he takes the opportunity to study them carefully.

he still doesn’t understand how they’d just disappeared, as though they’d never been in the library in the first place. how could they have hidden from sight so quickly? where had they gone? why had they felt the need to disappear?

if they weren’t sitting there right in front of him looking quite corporeal, he would’ve thought they were a figment of his imagination, but here they are. they look as human as taehyung and jimin did, and as human as seokjin feels on a good day.

“oh, hello!” hoseok says, when he does finally look up and seems to take in seokjin’s existence. he smiles so wide that his eyes close. yoongi stares at him dreamily, which is very endearing.

“you… disappeared very suddenly today,” seokjin says, because he has to bring it up. if he doesn’t, he’s probably going to combust.

yoongi cocks his head just slightly, as though that’s news to him, and blinks softly a few times before he opens his mouth. “did we?” he’s silent for a few more beats, turning toward hoseok briefly, before he grins awkwardly. “we’re very sorry about that. the hotel, you know?”

seokjin doesn’t know. he truly doesn’t. he wishes he did, because he feels like that would make his stay a lot more enjoyable. even so, he just hums and nods along as though he fully understands. whatever their reason for leaving so suddenly had been, they obviously didn’t do it maliciously, so he’ll cut them some slack.

they talk a little among the three of them, although seokjin immediately forgets what they’d talked about as soon as two others join them in the dining room.

the newcomers have a very distinct vibe hanging around them. one of them takes a seat at the head of the table, while the other one sits on the very opposite. they just look at each other for a bit with beautiful and mysterious smiles, before they both turn to seokjin at once and greet him with smooth and warm voices.

they tell him they’re the owners of the hotel, jeon jungkook and kim namjoon, and that they’re pleased to make his acquaintance.

like everything else in this hotel, there’s a little bit of an unnerving edge to them. he can’t put his finger on what it is exactly, but there’s something off about them. it may very well be the keen eyes with which they take seokjin in, similarly to the way jimin had—as though he were a piece of meat and they the ravenous predators—or perhaps it’s something else entirely. maybe it’s the way they carry themselves: slowly and meticulously, with a very obvious meaning behind every little thing they say or do.

namjoon is to seokjin’s right. he’s the one to casually lean his elbow on the table, cheek resting in his open palm, while his exposed cheek offers seokjin a good view of a carefully crafted dimple.

he’s wearing a tight, black blouse that leaves very little to the imagination, the top few buttons open to expose a seemingly endless neck. right over his throat rests an unassuming choker with a ruby in the middle. by all means, it should be incredibly tacky, but it looks stunning on him.

on his left, jungkook is equally as stunning. sadly, his neck is covered; he’s wearing a tight, black turtleneck, but at least it accentuates his every curve—and, boy, are they some good curves.

after staring at jungkook’s chest for far too long without saying a damn thing, seokjin looks back over at namjoon. there’s a lot to admire there, but his eyes are naturally drawn to the ruby sitting proudly on his throat. it’s beautiful, especially when the light hits it in just the right way.

“it’s beautiful, isn’t it?” namjoon asks with a languid smile. he traces it with his elegant fingers, moving slowly and extremely deliberately, so that seokjin can see every minute movement.

seokjin sort of nods. he attempts to smile, but he fears he’s only mildly successful.

like yoongi and hoseok, namjoon and jungkook talk to seokjin for a little, too. unlike with them, though, seokjin doesn’t forget about the conversation as soon as it bleeds out. how could he, when there’s a poorly hidden, extremely flirtatious compliment in every sentence?

strangely enough, seokjin doesn’t remember whether yoongi and hoseok were around for the conversation. rationally, he knows they must have been present, but were they? were they actually there?

seokjin doesn’t remember. they’ve been strangely pushed to the background. it’s almost like namjoon and jungkook are crowding all of his senses.

namjoon and jungkook talk to seokjin until taehyung and jimin join them, too, after which they all dig in.

seokjin doesn’t remember how the food got on the table. he doesn’t recall being offered a plate; one moment he’s not eating, and the next he’s got a pair of chopsticks between his fingers and a glass of wine right in front of him.

the food is good, though. the company is even better.

sure, hoseok and yoongi’s plates look untouched the entire time, despite the fact that he thinks he’s seen them eat. sure, his head goes a little more fuzzy with every moment that passes, everything getting a bit blurry around the edges.

but that’s all fine. it’s all fine. there’s nothing wrong and seokjin is in good company. everything is fine.

 

the next morning, seokjin wakes up with a considerable gap in his memory. he doesn’t remember how dinner ended, nor how he got to his room and into his bed.

the last thing he remembers is namjoon topping off his glass of wine and jungkook telling him to drink up, but that’s about it. after that… darkness.

despite the lack of memories, seokjin feels great. no headache, no heavy limbs, no weird feeling of foreboding and certainly no sense of danger. seokjin has never felt better; he feels as light as a feather.

since he feels amazing, he rolls out of bed with a dreamy sigh, humming to himself while he brushes his teeth and looks back at his happy reflection in the mirror. what a great fucking day. he’s only just woken up, but he already feels content.

he feels so content that he takes the stairs two steps at a time as he makes his descent in search of some breakfast. he could use some food, and, who knows, maybe he’ll run into someone. maybe he’ll find some company.

who knows!

it’s jungkook he runs into, already munching on some food while blearily rubbing his eyes every now and then. he looks very sleepy

in the light of day, jungkook looks a lot less unnerving than he had the night before. he looks normal and very cute, as well as ridiculously hot, still. seokjin is glad, because it means it was probably just the dark looming over him and planting stupid ideas in his head. it means jungkook is a person he doesn’t have to steer clear of.

“did you sleep okay?” jungkook asks. his cheeks bunch up when he smiles

seokjin is quick to nod enthusiastically. he doesn’t tell jungkook that he doesn’t fully remember everything, but he supposes that’s not relevant to him. jungkook hadn’t asked him how his walk back to his room had been; he’d asked him how he slept. “wonderfully!” he says.

jungkook seems delighted to hear that, which is very endearing to seokjin, who cannot for the life of him remember why he’d thought jungkook to be unnerving. there’s not a creepy bone in his body—jungkook’s just soft and round and smiley. he’s just cute.

while they have breakfast, they talk a little. seokjin asks about the hotel; particularly, he wants to know about its history and how it came into their possession and, first and foremost, what would possess someone to want to run a hotel, which jungkook laughs at and says that he doesn’t know, either.

once they’ve got most of the general hotel-related questions out of the way, seokjin asks after namjoon. they hadn’t exactly hidden their relationship the night before—as far as seokjin can remember, anyway—but they hadn’t really said anything about it, either. they’d left it up to interpretation, which is understandable, since they didn’t owe seokjin any details of their private life.

still, seokjin asks casually how they came to run the place together, if they’re just friends that are close enough to run a business together or partners or—

“—lovers,” jungkook fills in with an easy smile.

lovers it is. as seokjin had expected.

he doesn’t ask after their relationship too much, but he does learn one valuable piece of information: jungkook is absolutely head over heels. he’s stupidly in love with his boyfriend, which is something seokjin loves to see. nothing better than a good romance plot.

much too soon, they’re done with their food and jungkook’s looking at his watch, frowning down at it as though he’s got important meetings. in a hotel such as this one, he supposes it makes sense for someone to have things to do, places to be. the place lends itself well to such figures.

he supposes that’s alright. while he’d love to chat more, he, too, has an important date with his laptop and empty document. he needs to get some writing done, or some brainstorming—he’ll take anything, really.

 

the cursor blink, blink, blinks up at him again. it’s mocking him, the way it has for some time now. it should be infuriating, but it’s not. he feels too hazy to be annoyed, or to have any particular feelings about it at all.

sure, he knows staring at his blinking cursor living in his very empty document isn’t a good thing. it’s been empty and blinking like this for a long time now, which is even worse. it’s all around just bad, straight up not good.

but why is it not good again? seokjin doesn’t remember, because he feels great and he doesn’t want to bother with annoying things.

he feels floaty and, yes, it’s a little confusing. no, he doesn’t think he should be feeling this way; he still can’t remember how the night ended and he has a huge writer’s block to contend with, so there’s no way he should be feeling good.

but here he is: feeling good. feeling amazing.

seokjin sits through three minutes of staring at his screen, only to realise three whole hours have passed, instead. he’s over it. when had three minutes become three hours, anyway? what kind of bullshit is that?

he remembers shutting his laptop and walking toward his door, but that’s where his memory becomes a little foggy. he sees vague snippets here and there of walking through a corridor, followed by another one, followed by a bright flash of green that must be the lawn, followed by the different shades of brown that make up the forest.

seokjin’s not sure why the trees call out to him. his mind is telling him not to go there, that the trees are bad and that they nearly swallowed him and his car up last time. his mind, however, is overshadowed by a soft voice whispering in his ears, telling him to come… come… seokjin… i need to show you something, my dear boy…

the words are spoken softly and carefully, with a tinge of sadness that is hard to ignore. it makes him want to weep or howl. it makes his heart hurt and the blood in his veins turn into ice.

he knows the woman is there, but he doesn’t see her.

he hears her laugh, hears it echo, hears the sound carry in front of him and follow him from behind. he sees her out of the corner of his eye, except she’s not there when he looks.

there’s a flash of red. a dress. he sees black. swishing hair. he sees a lot of white, because she’s pale. pale like death. so pale. so, so pale… but she’s so red at the same time. terribly red.

she’s not there, but she’s also everywhere, and she wants to show him something and seokjin can’t say no to her, because his body is unresponsive. it wants to go wherever she wants to take him, even though he can feel every muscle in his body lock up out of fear.

he’s frightened, but he’s not, because he still feels so pleasantly floaty. it can only mean that he’s dreaming, and that the black, white, red lady isn’t actually real, which is great news.

she guides him through the trees, through the brush, through piles of dead leaves. the forest is endless and everything looks alike, as though he isn’t moving at all, until the trees stop being alike and begrudgingly make way for a well.

the well is old and clearly not in use anymore. it’s busted up, covered in moss with a rotting wooden bucket standing right beside it. she wants him to go there and look inside.

he doesn’t want to. seokjin’s afraid she’s going to ask him to get in, or that she’ll just push him in if he refuses. he doesn’t want to die. not in an old well. not like this. he’s too young and too handsome to go.

but he doesn’t have a choice; she wants him to look, so he has to look. he doesn’t want her to get sad.

look down… see what’s below.

seokjin really doesn’t want to, but he’s drifting over without moving his feet. he’s being pushed right up to the edge, until he has no choice but to look down into the dark depths. the stone feels cold and slimy under his hands as he rests his palms on the surface, beginning to bend over.

“seokjin-ssi!”

he looks up. blinks. some of the fog in his mind is pushed out and he finds some clarity. the need to look into the well’s murky depths ebbs away slowly. he forgets about the lady almost instantly and is left wondering what he’s doing in the forest.

why is he hanging around a well? when had he even stopped writing?

namjoon steps up to him slowly. seokjin misses the caution in his face and movements and only registers the confusing feeling of relief washing through him at the sight of another human being. particularly, at seeing namjoon.

“you wandered from the hotel quite a bit,” namjoon says calmly. he smiles kindly. “i was just on my way back,” he says, outstretching his hand and touching his palm to seokjin’s elbow. very easily, he gets seokjin to walk away from the well. “would you like to accompany me?”

seokjin nods quickly. he doesn’t understand the urge to get away from the well and away from the trees, but he doesn’t question it. namjoon’s smile is so reassuring. “please.”

the walk back to the hotel is a very calm and clear one. seokjin is aware of everything around him in a way he hasn’t been all day. he hears the grass rustling beneath his feet and doesn’t forget about it as soon as he’s off the lawn; he feels the rays of the sun warm his face and still remembers why there’s a pleasant glow to his face when he steps inside.

he also remembers talking to namjoon, the same way he’d talked to jungkook that morning. like jungkook, namjoon seems a lot more normal and friendly now, as well as ragingly hot, which is nice.

 

for a very brief moment, back in his pristine hotel room, seokjin considers sitting behind the desk again and trying once more. he’d only tried writing for a few minutes, after all, so he shouldn’t give up so easily.

why write in his room, though, when there are so many places he could hide out? maybe the change of scenery will be good. if it doesn’t offer him a different perspective, at the very least he’ll have something different to stare at when writing doesn’t work out.

eventually, he makes up his mind and starts moving again. he grabs his laptop, stares down at his phone for a long while, before purposefully leaving it on his desk and turning his back to the room to walk out.

he finds his way into the empty library, where he takes a seat at one of the tables and folds his laptop open. his empty document is laughing right in his face. perhaps this was a terrible idea. perhaps he should quit writing altogether. he’s obviously lost his touch.

luckily, there’s something else to focus on aside from the torture that is writing; he can look around and admire the room and wonder how it can have such a high ceiling when he doesn’t remember the floor above it being that high up.

looks can be deceiving, apparently. he’s not sure whose looks are deceiving, but they are, and seokjin’s not in the mood to figure out who is the culprit. it doesn’t matter. there’s a ceiling and it’s high, which is interesting.

“you’re here again,” seokjin hears, as he’s still looking up at this impossibly high ceiling, wondering why it needs to be this high. it’s so high; it has no reason to be this high. but he respects it.

he looks down to find hoseok and yoongi standing on the other side of the table. they’re smiling and holding hands, which is quite the lovely sight, but seokjin still feels unbearably sad all of a sudden.

“hi,” he says. he smiles back. they were at dinner with him the night before. he knows they were. it’s just that he doesn’t really remember much. should he even acknowledge it, when he doesn’t remember?

luckily, neither hoseok nor yoongi seem very keen on bringing it up—probably because it was just a dinner and it isn’t important in the slightest, and the only reason seokjin is thinking about it is because of his lack of memory regarding the whole thing. they sit down with him after asking if he’s okay with that, which he is, and very casually but kind of insistently push him to go into town.

“oh, it’s a lovely place,” yoongi says. “you should check it out. maybe you’ll even find a different place to stay!”

seokjin frowns at the suggestion. it’s not that he finds it strange that he’s being recommended to check it out, it’s just that he’s a little hurt that they’d want him out of the hotel. do they not like him? do they want the place to themselves?

he doesn’t ask them that, though, and he thinks it’s a little silly of him to jump to that conclusion when they’re so friendly looking. there’s no way to fake such genuine smiles.

“i didn’t have any plans for lunch yet,” seokjin says. “but i guess i do now! i’ll go check it out. any recommendations?”

hoseok’s smile grows. it seems a little desperate now, as he quickly nods. “the side of town that’s the farthest away from the hotel is great. you should go there. you should go there soon.”

seokjin doesn’t want to ask, so he just nods along. he’s getting a little peckish, so it is a good suggestion.

who knows, maybe he’ll find something cool in town.

 

it’s hard to say how exactly he feels when he drives away from the hotel, the building growing smaller and smaller in his rearview mirror, until it disappears from sight. he feels like a huge weight is slowly being lifted off of him, but, strangely enough, it doesn’t come as a relief.

he feels off balance without it, and the loss of that comfortable weight leaves room for a chasm to take seed right in his gut. it’s not too serious yet, nor does it incapacitate him, but it does make him feel restless.

for now at least, he’s fine enough to drive all the way into town, get out of his car and start walking around.

where he’d normally be a lot more interested in sightseeing and finding new places to explore, he finds little enthusiasm in doing so now. he wants to see new places, but he’s also wholly uninterested in what he’s doing. it feels almost… wrong… to leave the hotel behind.

despite his lack of enthusiasm, he still finds a place to eat. there’s barely anyone there, other than some locals, but he doesn’t mind the quiet. it helps him put his thoughts in order in hopes of taking a stab at how strange he’s been feeling, ever since…

ever since… ?

once he thinks he’s got a good grasp on his thoughts, on this idea he’s trying to analyse, it slips away from him again. it feels strange to him now, even though this isn’t the first time he’s been struggling with it. he’s lucid enough to know that’s something’s very off, but not nearly to figure out what is.

it’s just beyond his grasp. he can taste it. he know what it smells like and what shape it has. if he closes his eyes and imagines hard enough, he knows what it feels like. this concept that continues to elude him, it feels so familiar to him and, yet...

the owner, an older, extremely bored looking woman, doesn’t really talk to seokjin until she’s got his order ready and is putting it right in front of him. “day-trip tourist?” she acquires, voice more of a grumble. she sounds as though she’s being forced to ask this, and seokjin has to look away and bite back an amused smile.

“no, i’m in town for a while,” he responds.

that seems to make her a little more interested in seokjin’s existence. she lifts her brows in surprise and cocks her head while she looks him up and down, as though she’s seeing him in a new light. “where are you staying?”

the red sun.”

he doesn’t expect her to look at him strangely, since the hotel is so stately that he presumes it’s at least well-known around the area. how could you not know of such a massive hotel so close to your town? sure, seokjin is one of the very few guests, but he’s sure the hotel pulls a lot of tourism to the area in the right season.

the red sun,” she mutters. she taps her chin. “i could have sworn that place went out of business a long time ago. after what happened to the owners, it… oh, what were their names again? two kind young men. everyone in town loved them.”

seokjin finds himself frowning as he takes in her words and tries to mull them over. every time he thinks he comes close to forming a coherent thought, however, it dissipates.

“are you sure it’s called the red sun?” she inquires skeptically.

seokjin nods. he’s quite sure.

she pulls a face. clearly, she doesn’t believe him, but she doesn’t question him any further as she begins walking away. she waves a hand toward his food as if to say please, eat up, you lost tourist. maybe the food will stop you from being so completely wrong.

 

after lunch, seokjin finds himself surrounded by fresh air again. he looks left. he looks right. he looks right in front of him. there’s absolutely no direction that stands out to him, except the one that leads him back to his car, but he feels somewhere very deep down that he shouldn’t be going that way.

he should get away from his car. he should never return to it. or to the hotel. it went out of business years ago.

seokjin goes the opposite direction of where his car is located. he’s not running away, not really, because that would not only be a cowardly thing to do, but he isn’t even sure what he’s running away from. he can’t rationally explain why or what he should be running away from, which obviously means something.

it means he’s being irrational.

in the opposite direction of his car is a hiking trail. yoongi and hoseok had recommended it to him. it was more of a short walk than an actual hike, but it went uphill and the views were great at the top. seokjin would like it, they’d said. they were sure he’d like it.

the owner back at the restaurant had pointed him in the right direction and told him he’d like it, too.

he doesn’t really have any other place to go. there’s nothing in town that stands out to him, he’s already had lunch… it’s either this, or going back to the hotel.

hiking it is.

 

as yoongi and hoseok had predicted, seokjin really likes the trail. it’s quiet and peaceful and his surroundings are beautiful. there’s nothing not to love, and they were right to recommend it to him.

liking the trail doesn’t mean the urge to turn back and find his car becomes any less, though. hiking doesn’t make him stop thinking about the fact that he feels like he should be back at the hotel.

being away from it feels weird. the chasm inside of him had been growing wider since it’d first been birthed, and seokjin’s starting to feel it now.

there’s a horrible pit in his stomach. the emptiness is overwhelming and consuming, and it’s hard to ignore his mind’s helpful suggestion that going back to the hotel would fill it again. being there will fix it. he doesn’t know how or why, he just knows.

so seokjin turns around. he turns his back on the path that lies ahead of him, the one that will take him to the top of the hill and offer him some more beautiful views, and walks at a brisk pace toward his car.

he doesn’t stop anywhere along the way. he doesn’t care. there’s nothing he wants to see, nothing he wants to do. the pull on him is too strong to ignore; all he wants to do is go back. go back as soon as possible.

he needs to be at the hotel again.

as the car rolls closer to the red sun, seokjin is aware of his mind becoming more muddled. he feels a lot of his worries and suspicions slip away. he forgets about the voice of the restaurant owner, telling him it went out of business years ago. it’s not important.

but what if it is? what if it’s important to remember?

“what was important again?” seokjin mutters to himself, as he parks his car and steps out. the gravel crunches underneath his feet. with the increasingly louder crunching, the last it went out of business is pulled right from his mind.

he’s back. it’s not important.

but it is. it’s so important. it’s just that seokjin doesn’t remember anymore. he doesn’t even realise he’s forgotten.

 

back at the dining table, hoseok and yoongi look troubled when seokjin joins them again.

“back so soon?” yoongi asks.

hoseok frowns. he furtively glances toward yoongi, before he leans over the table a little to get closer to seokjin. “why didn’t you eat out?” he asks, sounding weirdly desperate.

seokjin opens his mouth to respond, the frown on his face mirroring hoseok’s, although he’s sure their frowns have different meanings. before he can say anything, though, yoongi and hoseok sit back immediately once taehyung coolly opens his mouth.

“hyungs… why are you trying to get rid of our guest? don’t be rude.”

seokjin registers the use of our in that sentence. if he had a tighter grip on his thoughts, he’d inspect the situation more closely and be at least a little hung up on that strange word usage. sadly, his mind wanders comfortably. instead, he takes a sip of wine and…

forgets.

 

time starts slipping away from seokjin. his days start getting a little blurry as they bleed over into one another, different activities repeating at pretty frequent intervals and making it harder for him to distinguish what time or what day it is.

there are times where he’s staring at his blinking cursor, his white document which will sometimes contain a word or two, a paragraph or two, or absolutely nothing. he doesn’t remember writing or erasing any words. sometimes they’re there, sometimes they aren’t and seokjin’s long since stopped caring about them.

and then other times where he takes it down to the library—with or without his laptop, because it seems to have little to do with whether he’s productive or not—and runs into yoongi and hoseok who never quite stop looking at him with worry. they push him to leave the hotel and their desperation just barely reaches seokjin.

he’s aware of it and wants to question their motives, but his mind won’t let him. each time seokjin decides yes, i’ll start thinking about why they so desperately want me to leave someone else comes along and swoops him right up, or no one else will come along, but a thick fog overtakes him and he’s left staring into space calmly wondering about very little.

when he isn’t writing, he runs into taehyung in- or outside of the hotel and they have pleasant conversation after pleasant conversation. that, or the forest is there again, with the well and the lady, and seokjin feels strangely compelled to go to it, even though it spooks him.

there are times when he wanders around late at night in a dream-like state and he hears and sees the strangest things. sometimes, during those walks, he sees the hotel as a rotting, dilapidated place where only pain and suffering have a home. he’ll see corpses and hear screams of anger and anguish alike.

he’s not sure whether those are real walks. maybe they’re just nightmares.

whatever the case—during the day, the hotel looks as normal and weirdly splendous as it always does. seokjin’s just having vivid nightmares, is all. it sucks, but what’s he going to do about it?

he sits through breakfast and lunch and dinner and all the others are there, talking to him or not talking to him. jimin will sometimes make comments that compare seokjin to their dinner, and other times he’ll simply allude to the fact that seokjin’s never leaving this hotel.

seokjin likes jimin. he’s fun to be around. he gives off slightly murderous vibes sometimes, but he’s a very sweet and caring guy at other times. he’s also stupidly hilarious and somehow manages to liven up the environment whenever needed. seokjin appreciates that.

most dinners, as well as breakfasts, aren’t dominated by jimin, taehyung, or yoongi and hoseok, however. it’s namjoon and jungkook, whose undivided attention leaves him flustered.

at the dining table, they’re never sat close enough that they’re able to casually place a hand on his knee, but they’ll make sure to stand behind him whenever they find a clever reason to and touch his neck and shoulders, or lean over him.

as a matter of fact, namjoon and jungkook are there for everything. they may not be with him in his hotel room while he writes—or attempts to write—but they’re everywhere else. they’re there when the nightmares get too awful and he’s on the brink of freaking out, and they’re there to pull him away from the well when the lady has managed to lure him close enough that she can almost push him over the edge.

they’re there to talk to him and keep him grounded, because his mind seems to get away from him all too often. he forgets a lot, but his memories that involve them are definitely the clearest.

namjoon and jungkook stay with him, physically and in his memories, while everything else blurs into the background when he doesn’t try hard enough to remember them or keep them in focus.

their words stay with him, but also their touches. although featherlight, whenever they touch seokjin casually, or in an attempt to calm him down or lead him away from places his mind wants to take him to, his body feels on fire in the best way.

it makes him want to be touched by them more and more, despite knowing that he shouldn’t want that, because they’re not available and they’re only being friendly, anyway.

 

namjoon’s still got his choker around his throat, but he’s not wearing much else. he’s still got his pants on, but his fly’s down and jungkook’s already slipped his hand inside. it’s only a matter of time until he ends up completely naked, but for now he’s spread out on his back on the bed with his sweet and horny and hot jungkook on top of him, very occupied with kissing his chest.

“kook-ah…” namjoon sighs. he bites his lip and looks down to find jungkook’s wide, round eyes staring up at him. “c’mere.”

the loss of jungkook’s hand in his pants is a sad one, but he’s not too hung up on it when he gets jungkook’s pretty face hovering over him instead. it’s a good trade-off.

he smiles languidly, trails his fingers down the side of jungkook’s face. “kiss me.”

“i have been kissing you,” jungkook murmurs, as he leans down and kisses the spot just below namjoon’s left eye. “i don’t know what you’re talking about.”

namjoon rolls his eyes. he takes jungkook’s chin between his fingers and angles his face up and captures his lips in a soft kiss. “not like that… you know what i mean.”

with his lips to namjoon’s, jungkook shakes his head. “no,” he says. “show me. teach me, hyung.”

“annoying…” namjoon mutters. he chuckles, before pulling jungkook down on top of him and kissing him deeply. his hands slip down to cup jungkook’s ass and squeeze tightly until he gets a squeal out of him.

the deep kiss turns into a languid make out, the two of them rolling around on the bed and slowly but surely losing more articles of clothing until there’s not much left to take off.

“hyung,” jungkook says, breaking away to bare his neck for namjoon hovering over him to explore.

“hm?” namjoon appreciates the sight of jungkook’s long neck, uncovered and all his. he bends down to kiss his shoulder, and then moves up his neck, kissing the underside of his jaw and wandering to the side to worry jungkook’s earlobe between his teeth.

he doesn’t stay in one spot for too long, because everything about jungkook is so distracting that he feels the need to pay attention to fifteen spots at once. the solution? haphazardly kiss and bite him all over, just the way jungkook likes.

“can we fool around with seokjin before we sacrifice him?” jungkook asks. he tilts his face up even further and takes a sharp intake of breath when namjoon licks at his throat. “i just want to get him in bed once… wanna know what sounds he can make… do you think he’s a top or a bottom?”

namjoon pulls back long enough to grin down at him. “don’t know… we should find out.”

 

on another nightly wander around the hotel’s dark corridors, seokjin finally runs into someone who isn’t in his imagination.

it’s not new for him to walk into them in the middle of the night. it’s definitely happened before, but there’s something different about this night. for once, they’re not necessarily concerned with helping him back to his room, or taking him down toward the kitchen to brew him some tea to help calm his nerves.

namjoon does take him by the elbow, but seokjin realises quickly enough that they’re not walking in the right direction at all. “where are we going?” he asks softly. it doesn’t really matter to him, he mostly just likes walking with them and putting behind him all the nasty memories of the nightmare that’d lured him out of bed, but he’s still curious.

“hm? oh… i’m sorry; i’m awfully distracted. we’re walking toward our bedroom. i’m sorry, i’ll—”

“that’s alright,” seokjin says. he doesn’t let namjoon pull him into the direction they came from and peers up ahead instead. he can’t see a thing in the dark, which is horrible, but at least he’s got namjoon and jungkook with him. “show me.”

“our… bedroom?” jungkook asks. he appears behind namjoon, leaning against his shoulder as he peeks around him to look at seokjin.

seokjin hums. “wanna know if you’ve offered me the smallest, least luxurious room. are you keeping the best one all to yourselves?” he smiles as jungkook presses up to his other side and finds his hand, beginning to tug him along.

“of course not,” jungkook murmurs. his fingers feel incredibly warm in seokjin’s. “you have the best one. we made sure of that.”

“i hope so…” seokjin says. he lets them guide him through the dark and doesn’t feel like anything is waiting to jump him for once. they make him feel safe and protected. they make him feel… ?

much too soon, they stop in front of an unassuming door. “oh, this is it?” he feels a little sad, because he’ll have to go back to his room once they show him theirs. it’s unlikely he’ll be able to buy time once they’re inside; there’s only so much they can show him.

jungkook pulls him inside, while namjoon is right there behind him. when seokjin steps just inside and stops moving, he can feel a light touch at his back. he looks over his shoulder to find namjoon studying him openly.

“it’s pretty…” seokjin says. he doesn’t take his eyes off namjoon’s face.

namjoon grins.

“how would you know?” jungkook asks softly. “you’re not even looking.” he steps closer to seokjin as well, until he fills up most of seokjin’s peripheral vision. he lets go of seokjin’s fingers, but only to rest them lightly on his hip.

seokjin glances at jungkook. “oh, i’m looking…”

namjoon chuckles softly. “do you like what you see?”

“yeah.” seokjin would look back over his shoulder, but jungkook’s placed his free hand on his cheek and keeps him from turning his head.

he doesn’t really mind. if he can’t look at namjoon now, he can always look at him later. in the meantime, only being able to stare at jungkook isn’t so bad. there’s enough to admire there.

“you should test out the bed,” jungkook says. the corner of his mouth quirks up. “make sure we’re offering you the same quality.”

seokjin can just barely see the bed behind jungkook. he glances at it briefly, before he finds jungkook again and shakes his head softly. “you’re not even trying…”

“what do you mean?” jungkook asks innocently. he fails spectacularly at keeping a straight face. “come…”

seokjin lets jungkook pull him forward again, while namjoon stays hot on his heels, hands at his hips to guide him through the room. he sits at the foot of the bed and watches jungkook sit down next to him, before he looks up again to find namjoon staring down at them with a playful smile tugging at his lips.

“what?” seokjin asks.

namjoon shakes his head. “nothing. i like your pajamas.” he reaches out to brush his fingers down seokjin’s ratty shirt. it’s nothing special, but at least he’s matching; his pajama pants are baby blue with tiny little clouds, while his t-shirt is a light grey with one big cloud right on his chest.

the tips of seokjin’s ears take on a red tint as he hangs his head a little. if he’d known he’d end up here, he’d have worn something else. “i know they’re childish.”

“not at all.” namjoon slowly sinks to a crouch right in front of him, resting his palms on seokjin’s soft pants. “i think they’re cute. you look cute.”

seokjin looks at namjoon from underneath his eyelashes. this isn’t where he’d expected to find himself when he’d booked the hotel, but he doesn’t mind at all. not only is he in the company of two ridiculously hot men, but, for once, he feels a surprising clarity within.

there’s no fog in his mind. the edges of his vision aren’t blurred and giving him suggestions of horrible nightmares waiting to pounce. it’s just him, with namjoon in front of him and jungkook just off to the side, fingers creeping up and down his spine in a way that makes him shiver.

for once, seokjin feels like himself. he feels normal.

“what do you think of the bed?” jungkook asks. his face comes closer, until he’s able to brush the tip of his nose over seokjin’s cheekbone, down his jaw… his mouth is close enough to seokjin’s cheek that their lips would brush if seokjin turned his head.

“don’t know… would have to test it more thoroughly to reach a verdict,” seokjin mumbles. he goes to place his hands behind him to pretend to test it out, only to end up placing one right on jungkook’s thigh because it’s in the way. it’s an honest mistake, truly, but now that his hand is resting there, he can’t bear to pull it away. it’s warm and soft and squishy, and his fingers seem to take on a mind of their own as they slip between jungkook’s legs to caress along his inner-thigh.

“hyung…” jungkook begins. his voice is a little rough and deep, and seokjin swears he can feel it cut straight through him. “can i kiss you?”

seokjin shudders. he bites his lip, nods slowly. there’s nothing more he’d love, except maybe kiss namjoon; he’s not sure whom he’d like to kiss more. his eyes close when jungkook presses his lips to his neck. he feels a warm, tickling sensation there as jungkook litters the area with the smallest little pecks; each softer than the last.

namjoon’s still sat in front of him, and when seokjin opens his eyes, he finds namjoon smiling at him.

seokjin reaches for namjoon’s face, rests his palm on his cheek and slips his fingers into his hair. namjoon closes his eyes and presses the side of his face further into seokjin’s hand.

“hyung,” namjoon says, as he pushes up onto his knees. his palms press down onto seokjin’s thighs a little higher up and he squeezes lightly as he leans in to capture seokjin’s lips in a short kiss. “do you want some red wine? there’s a bottle we’ve been saving for a special occasion… i think today’s a good day to open it.”

“wine would be nice,” seokjin manages to utter, before jungkook takes his face between his hands and moves up from his neck to slot their lips together.

while they make out, hot and heavy and barely stopping for breath, namjoon gets up to fix them some wine. he spends some time with his back to them, using a desk on the far side of the room to fill three glasses.

just when seokjin’s beginning to wonder where namjoon’s at, he sidles back up to them. he hands a glass of wine to jungkook and another to seokjin, before taking seokjin’s chin between his fingers to pull him in again. he leaves a kiss right on the corner of his mouth, before he sits back and leans his arm on seokjin’s knees. “drink up.”

seokjin isn’t usually a clutz, but he ends up spilling some wine when he goes to take a sip. he attributes it to the fact that jungkook places a kiss in his neck at that exact moment, as though he’s perfectly timed it.

the wine drips down the corner of his mouth, all the way to his chin, before he’s even aware of what’s happening.

“don’t spill it,” namjoon tuts. he leans in again and holds seokjin’s eyes for a moment so that the playful glint in his own is perfectly visible. finally, when the wine is just about to drip onto seokjin’s shirt, he bridges the remaining gap between them and runs his tongue up seokjin’s chin, until he reaches his mouth and licks right into it.

as they share the few drops of wine between them, seokjin realises wine has never tasted this good. any wine he drinks after this will bleak in comparison, because it won’t be pushed into his mouth by namjoon’s tongue.

seokjin feels warmth pool in his chest, feels it trickle down toward his stomach and settle low in his groin. more warmth rolls down his back, along his spine, making him feel comfortable and pliant. very slowly, every muscle in his body starts relaxing.

as they press more hot kisses into his skin, seokjin starts feeling hotter and hotter. an inexplicable need clutches onto him and crawls underneath his skin, fuelling the fire blazing brightly right inside of him.

their kisses and touches are amazing, but they’re not enough. each and every single one of them makes him more needy, until his head is heady, swimming. there’s another fog surrounding him, but this one feels different; it comes from inside of him, rather than from an external force.

“how’re you feeling?” jungkook asks. his voice sounds warm and inviting. seokjin wants to crawl right inside of him and never let go. “good?” he kisses along seokjin’s jaw and moves on to suck a bruise into his neck.

seokjin hums. his tongue feels too heavy to move. if he were to open his mouth and attempt to speak, he’d probably just end up slurring everything. “good…” he mumbles anyway. “so… so turned on. ‘m sorry...”

namjoon laughs pleasantly. he starts pushing seokjin onto his back and hovers over him. “that’s alright,” he says softly. his fingers wander down and leave a trail of fire all over seokjin’s body. when he cups seokjin through his pants, he’s rewarded with a quiet little moan. “can we help you take care of it? you’re so hard… could poke an eye out with that thing…”

seokjin nods slowly, only to gasp when jungkook’s fingers join namjoon’s. he’s honestly afraid he may just up and die if they keep this up; he feels so hot… everything is tingling and going insane, yet his body feels so heavy he can’t do anything but lie on his back and hope they fucking ravage him.

 

“are you a top or a bottom, hyung?” namjoon asks. his voice comes from afar, until seokjin hones in on it and he realises just how close namjoon is. his hand is seokjin’s underwear, stroking him languidly.

seokjin doesn’t remember when he’d scooted up the bed, when his head had hit a pillow, or when he’d lost his shirt. all he knows is that namjoon and jungkook are stretched out on either side of him, leaning on their elbows to caress both seokjin’s and each other’s bodies.

“i’m…” seokjin frowns. his tongue feels like lead in his mouth now. the sensation is strange, but it doesn’t worry him; he can’t really focus on anything but the way their touches feel on his skin and how badly he wants them.

namjoon swirls his tongue around seokjin’s nipple and laughs softly when seokjin arches into him. “jungkookie’s a top. sometimes he’ll be nice and let me fuck him, but it’s been a while… what about you?”

“could you…” seokjin struggles to swallow. “... fuck me?”

“who do you want?” jungkook asks. his slick fingers travel down over balls, his perineum. seokjin wants him to move further down, but jungkook lets them rest there, tickling.

“both.”

“that can be arranged,” jungkook whispers. smiling sweetly, he kisses seokjin’s chest. he looks up at him coyly, continuing to tickle seokjin’s inner-thighs and the curve of his ass, smearing everything with sticky lube. “do you want me to prep you?”

seokjin parts his thighs a little more. he nods slowly. before he can steel himself, jungkook’s fingers have found their way up, rubbing over his rim, circling it and pressing down, but not enough to enter him. he smiles appreciatively at the way it makes seokjin jolt.

“f-fuck…” seokjin gasps, when jungkook pushes in very slowly. one finger isn’t particularly a stretch for him, but it’s been a while, and everything feels a hundred times more sensitive than usual.

jungkook doesn’t seem to want to play around too much. through their kisses and touches they’ve already wound seokjin up so much that he’ll probably combust if he drags out the fingering too much, so jungkook makes quick work of stretching him open so that he can comfortably take the both of them.

once seokjin becomes too squirmy, feeling like he’s going to cum any minute if namjoon doesn’t stop playing with his nipples while he’s being fingered, jungkook slowly pulls his fingers back out. he wipes them on the inside of seokjin’s thigh, giving him a lopsided smile when he receives a complaint about it.

they murmur sweet praises into his skin while they undress him fully and reposition themselves so that jungkook’s on his back, with seokjin straddling his thighs. he thinks it’s because jungkook asked him if he wanted to ride him, which seokjin definitely wouldn’t mind, but their plans change when namjoon can’t quite seem to keep his hands off of seokjin while he’s behind him, keeping him up.

“jungkookie…” namjoon mutters. “i’m going to cut in line.”

“wh—” jungkook splutters. he works himself up onto his elbows, squints at namjoon and pouts and frowns at the same time.

namjoon kisses the side of seokjin’s face. “do you mind? or would you like him to go first?”

his cock presses into seokjin’s ass, sliding up to his low back, already slick. blindly, seokjin reaches behind him for namjoon’s hip. he steadies himself, before his hand wanders again in search of namjoon’s cock. “i don’t mind. just wanna be fucked…”

“but—” jungkook pouts. he drops back down with a sigh and grips onto seokjin’s thighs. “hyung

it’s unclear which hyung jungkook’s referring to, but seokjin is the one to answer. “i’m not going anywhere.”

while jungkook knows he’s got a point, he still makes sure to pout exaggeratedly. it lasts about five seconds, until seokjin bends down and kisses him gently. after that, the pout melts right off of his face and makes way for a beaming smile. he looks much too happy about having a front-row seat to seokjin being fucked, but it’s still very endearing and kind of hot.

luckily for seokjin, namjoon doesn’t waste time. as soon as jungkook’s pout has gone and he’s found a condom, he guides his cock right to seokjin’s ass and pushes in. he slides in, in one fluid motion, before seokjin’s even aware of what’s happening.

as soon as he is, however, he keens. the relief that washes over him at having something fucked into him, even if at a slow pace, is mindblowing. he doesn’t remember it feeling this good, he doesn’t remember ever feeling this needy.

seokjin tries to stay upright while namjoon pistons into him, but it’s so very hard to do when he feels the thrusts all the way in his toes. it doesn’t help that jungkook’s got his fist wrapped around seokjin’s cock, alternating between squeezing and jerking him off, as out of sync as possible with namjoon’s motions.

“you sound so pretty, hyung,” namjoon pants into seokjin’s ear. he sucks on seokjin’s earlobe, hooking his arm around his waist to support his weight. “didn’t think you could moan like this…”

only then does seokjin become aware of the sounds that are spilling from his lips. there are moans and gasps, and nonsensical words. he isn’t usually a vocal person, so hearing himself is a little surprising. what’s gotten into him?

by the time namjoon’s thrusting has become erratic, hips stuttering and his arm tightening around seokjin to keep him as close as physically possible, seokjin’s almost entirely leaning into him and hanging from his arm. his body feels like putty, ready to be molded by them if they were to put their hands on him. he’s also rock-hard, on the verge of crying if he doesn’t cum any time soon, but neither of them seem very interested in making him cum just yet.

when namjoon cums, he lets out a muffled moan right into seokjin’s neck. his grip tightens and his hips falter. for a moment, he stays inside, catching his breath, until seokjin whimpers.

he wants to cum so badly. every inch of his body is wound tight, waiting for the right moment to release, but… he tips his head back onto namjoon’s shoulder, sighing. “please…”

namjoon hums. “i know… do you want to lie on your back? jungkookie will take good care of you, i promise. he always takes such good care of me, don’t you?”

jungkook nods proudly. he rubs seokjin’s thighs in comfort, before sitting up slowly and helping namjoon maneuver seokjin onto his back. they get a pillow underneath his hips and bend over him to pepper his sticky and sweaty skin with kisses, until seokjin grumbles that he can’t take it anymore and that he’ll fuck himself if they don’t want to.

after that thinly veiled threat, jungkook gets into motion immediately. he pushes namjoon out of the way and settles between seokjin’s legs before anyone can so much as blink.

despite seokjin’s horniness taking over every cell in his body, he still manages to snort at the fast response. eager jungkook is cute. he likes eager jungkook.

like namjoon, jungkook is inside before seokjin’s fully aware of it. he works up to a fast pace before either of them can fully adjust, but that suits seokjin just fine; namjoon had pulled out so quickly that it’s only right that jungkook finishes what namjoon started.

seokjin attempts to hold open his thighs for jungkook, but the thrusts are rocking him up the bed so much so that his hands keep slipping. it doesn’t help that his thighs are so slick, or that he barely has any strength left in his fingers.

it doesn’t matter, though. jungkook keeps him open just fine. he presses seokjin’s thighs as far apart as possible and ups his pace as though his life depends on it.

“you feel so nice, hyung,” jungkook babbles. his fingers dig into seokjin’s thighs. a particularly well-placed thrust makes them both moan in tandem. “you’re so hot. don’t ever want to let you go…”

seokjin thinks he’d like that. there’s nothing more he’d love than to lie there forever and let them fuck him until he doesn’t remember his name. he’s already well on his way to forgetting, anyway.

when jungkook slows down, grinding into him and eventually finding stillness while panting harshly, seokjin is surprised to look down and find cum on his belly. he hadn’t noticed he’d cum at all.

“fuck,” seokjin breathes. while namjoon kisses him softly, he closes his eyes and slips his fingers into jungkook’s hair, who is just bending down to lie on top of him, pressing their bodies close.

“how was that, hyung?” namjoon asks. “good?” he brushes his fingers down seokjin’s hip, rubbing his thumb in tight little circles.

seokjin hums. “still hard, though. still so turned on… i feel satisfied, but...” he sighs.

“starving for cock?” jungkook fills in. he grins, until namjoon jabs him in the side.

“i guess,” seokjin snorts.

“give him a few minutes,” namjoon says. “he barely has any refractory time. he can fuck you stupid in a bit…”

“that sounds like a dream,” seokjin mumbles. perhaps it is exactly that. what a strangely realistic dream for once. he’s going to feel so embarrassed when he wakes up, but he supposes that’s a problem for future seokjin.

“so i can?” jungkook pipes up. “because i will, hyung. i totally will.”

seokjin and namjoon laugh softly.

 

the ceiling is different when seokjin opens his eyes. there’s gentle sunlight streaming from between the curtains, but it’s coming from a different direction than normal. for a moment, he just feels like something’s slightly off, but he can’t put his finger on what it is exactly.

turning onto his side, he realises what’s different.

this is not his room. seokjin’s in their room. in namjoon and jungkook’s room. he’s in their bed. he can only see jungkook right in front of him, but he can feel namjoon behind him, curling into him and scooting closer in his sleep.

if they weren’t all naked, seokjin would be a little more confused as to what he’s doing in their bed. he obviously slept with them. with namjoon. and jungkook. but why doesn’t he remember?

when he turns onto his back once more to sigh up at the ceiling, he accidentally rolls onto namjoon’s hand. he tries to roll back, but it’s already too late; namjoon’s eyes crack open and he hums sleepily.

“i’m sorry,” seokjin whispers. he desperately wants to ask how am i here? why do i not remember? but he doesn’t, because that would be weird, wouldn’t it?

namjoon shakes his head slowly. “don’t be. good morning...” he lifts his hand and brushes his fingers over seokjin’s chest. “did you sleep okay? i’d say i’m sorry for tiring you out, but i’m not, and i’m sure jungkook isn’t either…”

he slowly pushes up onto his elbow and leans over seokjin to kiss his sternum, all while maintaining eye-contact with him and grinning playfully. “i can’t see a damn thing, but your blurry figure looks pretty sexy.”

seokjin stares up at namjoon. his hair is a mess and his face is a little puffy, but he looks awfully cute so early in the morning. why the fuck had namjoon allowed him in their bed? why had jungkook? did he really get unfortunate enough to sleep with them and have no recollection of it?

“what is it?” namjoon asks. he frowns a little. even though he can’t see, he still notices seokjin’s hesitation.

seokjin bites his lip. he turns his head to peer at jungkook when he registers movement next to him, and is just in time to see him yawn. it’s a sight so endearing that he’s left wondering once more how he’d gotten both lucky enough to wake up in between them and unlucky enough not to remember a single thing about ending up there.

after some more hesitation, seokjin turns back to look up at namjoon. “how did i end up here?” he asks quietly, feeling like an ass.

“you don’t—” jungkook stops to yawn. “remember?”

seokjin slowly shakes his head. once he’s free of namjoon’s weight on top of him, he sits up. he rubs his face, opening his mouth to apologise, when he sees flashes from the night before.

he sees himself walking through a corridor, and then he sees himself in their room, on their bed. he sees jungkook kiss him, and then namjoon. he can feel it now; their hot mouths on his.

he remembers the feeling of their hands on him, their warm bodies and low voices. he remembers the wine and the unbelievably hot sensation growing inside of him. he remembers feeling overtaken with want, and knowing that that they’re the only two beings on the planet that could possibly help him out.

slowly, he lies back down. he sighs as he stares up at the ceiling once more.

jungkook caresses his forehead. “what’s wrong? you didn’t have fun last night, hyung?”

seokjin hesitates. “i did… have fun.” the truth is that he did, as far as he remembers. he remembers the details only vaguely now, but they’re clear enough for him to know that it was good, and that it’s something he’s wanted for a while.

he’s just confused. even with some of his memories having come back, he’s still fuzzy on most of it. mainly, he’s extremely confused about how everything went down. it’s all too blurry in his mind. he remembers being sat down on the bed, and then…

the action he does remember. he remembers most of it in detail. how they got to that point, however… everything gets a little murky there. it’s hard for him to recall.

namjoon and jungkook both stare at him for some time, as though they’re trying to read his mind or look inside of him.

“you’re sure?” jungkook asks. in the morning, just after having woken up like he has now, jungkook is so innocent-looking. seokjin likes that a lot. he appreciates the really sexy and confident jungkook that he’s met multiple times, but the current version of him is really nice, too. “you had fun?”

seokjin nods a little more firmly now. he did have fun. he did. he’s confused, but he had fun. they made him feel good, and he thinks he made them feel good, as well. what’s not to like?

“you’re still blurry on some of the details?” namjoon asks in a low murmur. he drapes his forearm over seokjin’s chest and dumps some of his weight on top of him. he quirks the corner of his mouth up and bends down to press his lips over seokjin’s ear. he slips his hand beneath the sheets, bypassing seokjin’s cock to squeeze a thigh instead. “would you like us to give you a refresher?”

seokjin’s grin nearly splits his face in half. “yeah, i’d like that…”

 

after he’s finally made it back to his own room, he collapses onto his bed with a great sigh. he stares up at the ceiling, wishing his memory weren’t so spotty, wishing it didn’t wander all the time…

how had he ended up in their bed? they never really said.

despite his worries and confusion, seokjin is so exhausted that he ends up passing out shortly after making it to bed. he’s pulled under into a dreamless sleep. not even the dead could wake him.

 

seokjin wanders more and more and more. he ends up in strange places he doesn’t recognise, places he shouldn’t have even been able to go to, places where he’s intruding. he sees a lot of shadows of former beings go about their past lives and wonders if he’s ever going to end up like that; a shadow.

part of him has started living like that already. his mind has steadily started going in that direction, so it’s only a matter of time before his body does, too. he’s sure the hotel will take it when the time comes. it will collect his body.

whatever that means.

his wandering is broken up by his blinking cursor. it blinks, and then he opens his eyes to find himself staring at the well. it has blood running down the stone wall, and there’s a clawed hand just beginning to fold around the edge, pulling its dead weight up, trying to climb out. terrified, seokjin squeezes his eyes shut.

by the time he opens them again, he’s in the library sat in front of yoongi and hoseok, who are holding hands and smiling and talking. he blinks and he’s still in the library, but they’re not there. when he blinks again, they’re back, but they’re crying now. they’re mourning, but seokjin can’t ask them why, because he’s dreaming, and he’s forgotten how to use his voice.

he closes his eyes when he gets too sad for them, when he feels like he’s about to cry with them. the next time he opens his eyes, seokjin’s walking through the hedge maze with taehyung at his side.

taehyung is red with blood. he leaves a bloody trail on the gravel, and seokjin tells him they should go get a bucket of water to wash away the blood. the suggestion is hilarious to taehyung, who looks behind them with a cocked head and asks him:

“what blood?”

seokjin blinks. there’s no blood. there’s never been any blood.

when he blinks again, he’s sat behind his laptop in the lounge and jimin appears in front of him with a tray with some tea and a plate of cookies. he sits down next to seokjin and touches the back of seokjin’s hand in concern.

“you have to stop dreaming now,” he says. “you don’t have long. you want your last days to mean something.”

the cursor blinks.

jungkook’s lips are so soft. namjoon’s hands wander. their wine tastes so sweet, but it makes him forget, which is kind of sad. he wants to remember. he wants to remember so badly, but he can’t, because his mind has been getting awfully slippery lately and it’s getting hard to grasp onto anything tangible.

he hasn’t written in so long. he’d come to the hotel to… why had he come to the hotel?

to write.

seokjin had come to the hotel because he wanted to…

what was it he wanted to do again?

 

“how is writing going lately?” taehyung asks. he sits down next to seokjin, who shoots up, startled by the sudden voice.

“huh?”

“writing,” taehyung repeats. he smiles. “how is it going?”

seokjin looks ahead of him again. the lawn is stretched out in front of him, looking as lush as ever. just last night, it’d been wet with blood in an awful dream. it’d been so vicious that even his crappy memory hadn’t been able to make him forget. he shakes his head.

taehyung makes a small noise of sympathy. “that bad, huh? i’m sorry to hear that. i hope it turns around for you. give it more time, hyung.”

seokjin shakes his head again. for the first time in days, he remembers that he’s supposed to be locked away in a remote place to write. he’s supposed to be behind his screen right now, banging away at his keyboard, but he’s not, because he hadn’t remembered what he was supposed to be doing.

it makes him feel bitter and useless and annoyed.

“it’s alright…” taehyung says. he attempts a reassuring smile. “writer’s blocks are hard to overcome, aren’t they? don’t beat yourself up over it. you’re trying. i see you sit in front of your screen every day, frowning down at it or banging away furiously at your keyboard. you work very hard, and you should be proud of that.”

seokjin blinks at taehyung. for the first time in days, his consciousness is scarily clear. he doesn’t remember being in front of his laptop, however. up until now, he hadn’t even remembered he’d come to the hotel to write. “what do you mean?” he asks softly. his brows furrow.

taehyung cocks his head. “are you okay? you seem very distracted.”

seokjin wants to shake his head angrily, or perhaps even scream or cry. he wants to tell taehyung that he isn’t okay, that he’s steadily been going mad and that he doesn’t remember. he doesn’t remember what he doesn’t remember.

“i came here to write. that’s why i came here,” seokjin says, as a reminder to himself. he’s going to forget in a matter of minutes, maybe even seconds, so it feels silly to try, but what else is he to do? “i’m so disappointed in myself.”

“why are you disappointed?” taehyung asks.

seokjin’s not sure. he thinks about it for a while, enjoying the use of his mind while it allows him to take the reins for a short moment. “i haven’t been writing,” he says. “i came here to write, but what have i been doing instead?”

taehyung raises his brows in curiosity. “what have you been doing instead?”

seokjin shakes his head slowly. “i don’t know. what have i been doing this entire time, taehyung-ah? i forget...”

there’s sympathy in taehyung’s smile. he reaches for seokjin’s knee and pats it softly. apparently, he doesn’t find seokjin’s behaviour strange, the same way the others haven’t indicated anything either.

either it’s all in his head, or…

he shakes his head again. “i haven’t written a single word since arriving here.”

“what do you mean?” asks taehyung now. “i’ve seen you write.”

“but there’s nothing there when i look,” seokjin admits softly. “just a blank page. i feel like i’m never going to write another word. i’m useless. i’m… a fraud. i’ve sold books. i think. how did i do that? i don’t remember what writing is like. have i been deceiving everyone this entire time?”

he doesn’t realise he’s crying until taehyung wipes at his face. seokjin wipes at it, too, and watches his wet fingers. he presses his shaking hand to his mouth and sobs into it. “i don’t know what’s happening to me. am i going mad? am i losing myself? i don’t know who i am anymore. i keep forgetting. i keep forgetting everything. i don’t—i don’t know what’s real anymore...”

“this is real,” taehyung says very softly.

through his tears, seokjin can’t quite see taehyung’s face clearly, but he sees something he knows not to be real: a dark face, glowing eyes, an endless void… he shakes his head while he continues crying, harder and harder, while void and dark and monstrous taehyung pats his knee softly and murmurs strange, yet soothing words of comfort to him.

“let’s get you to your room…” jimin’s kind voice comes from behind. seokjin lets the two guide him away and tuck him into bed.

 

the cool air of the night is calming to seokjin as he stands on his balcony, overlooking the lawn.

in the middle of the night, it’s impossibly dark and quiet. it isn’t always this quiet at this hour—it usually isn’t, actually. more often than not, the middle of the night is a busier time period than during the day—but he greatly prefers it like this. it gives him a sense of normalcy. this is the way the hotel is supposed to be.

a voice had woken him up. for once, it’d been clear as day. there’d been nothing in his room when he’d opened his eyes, but that didn’t bother him much. the owner of the voice didn’t usually show themselves to seokjin that easily.

come.

seokjin steps away from the balcony, back inside, and follows the voice out of his room. for a fleeting moment, he thinks to put on shoes since he’s barefooted, but the thought doesn’t stay with him long enough for him to do something with it.

he walks down the grand stairs, through different corridors until he finds his way out onto the terrace. it’s not that cold, luckily, but the ground underneath his feet is. he walks quickly, until he steps onto the lawn, which is a little more kind on his feet. the grass tickles and is a little wet, but it’s better than the cold tiles of the terrace.

come…

he traverses the impossibly big lawn. the forest is there in front of him, looming in the distance. for a while, the distance between him and the trees doesn’t seem to shrink and he wonders if he’s going to be walking forever and ever, just feeling eternal dread knowing the trees are going to swallow him up some day.

you must see me today.

seokjin doesn’t agree, but he doesn’t really have a choice. there’s a lucid part in his mind that firmly tells him that he musn’t see the owner of the voice, but his body doesn’t listen to that lucid part. his body follows the voice, because that’s what it must do. it must follow and then it must see.

you will see me today .

the voice has always had a kind ring to it, but it starts warping now. he hears it echo in different pitches and different tones, some angrier than others. they’re angry at him for not seeing, but they’re also angry at the others for not letting him see.

the others are mostly jungkook and namjoon, who don’t want him near the well and have said as much.

“it’s dangerous, hyung. what if you fall in? we can’t let her get to you.” jungkook had said on one occasion, while leading seokjin away.

and namjoon, on a different occasion, seconds before seokjin was finally going to witness what was down below: “oh! let’s not get that close to it. it’s not safe. there are unspeakable things down there, hyung. best stay away.”

they’d say these things to him when they knew he wasn’t fully present, when he wasn’t all there to think about things and wonder why the things they said and did were so odd. they made sure to only behave like themselves when seokjin was mostly asleep. he’d always wake up the morning after and not remember.

but now he remembers. he remembers very clearly.

they’re keeping you away from me. i won’t let them get away with it any longer.

seokjin doesn’t think it’s such a bad thing that they’re trying to keep him away from the well. he doesn’t like it; it gives him a very bad feeling. the woman is bad news. whatever is down in the well is bad news. it’s going to consume him.

come see me…

the well is there before he even realises he’s made it into the forest. he didn’t see a moon in the sky while he was traversing the lawn, and yet there’s still moonlight shining through the trees, like a spotlight shining on the well, beckoning him.

come closer.

seokjin steps closer. the woman is in his peripheral vision, guiding him. he knows better than to look at her now; he knows she doesn’t like it when he tries to get a glimpse of her.

the stone is icy cold underneath his fingertips. he feels the soft moss, but he also feels something slimy and warm.

look over the edge.

he bends over. he sees the ledge. he sees his pale fingers resting on the stone. he sees the edge of the stone, as he bends over a little more.

down below is red. there’s a dark red liquid, bubbling and sloshing. there are things floating in that red liquid. he sees hands sticking out, he sees a face. multiple faces. one of them rises out to meet him, its mouth opening up, jaw unhinging slowly to reveal row after row of sharp teeth.

he knows the liquid is blood. he’s seen enough of it during his stay at the hotel to know what is and isn’t blood. the problem isn’t that he’s seeing blood, actually; the problem is that he knows all the blood he’s seen previously was all in his imagination.

this blood isn’t. he doesn’t know how he knows—he just knows that it’s real.

it’s that realisation that finally breaks the spell. his body unlocks and allows him to stumble back from the ledge. he trips over his own feet as he walks backward and falls hard on his ass, but the pain is so dull that he barely feels it. he’s breathing hard and fast, feeling lightheaded.

he keeps his eyes wide open as he looks at the well, as he sees a bloody claw beginning to curl around the ledge to pull itself up. seokjin scoots backward, unable to remember how to get up, how to use his limbs correctly to get away.

his fingers are behind him, palms on the earth as he uses them to pull himself away from the well. he feels leaves and soft, wet earth under his hands, until he doesn’t; there’s something hard, and something mushy, something wet and slimy.

seokjin looks down with more dread than he’s ever felt in his entire life to find two wide open, lifeless eyes staring at him. the corpse is behind him, sticking half out of the earth. he must have been inching toward it this entire time.

he screams.

when he looks back up front, trying to will his body to crawl forward, or to the side, or wherever, he finds her right in front of him.

she’s like the corpse. he knows they’re not the same. the corpse behind him is merely a body, rotting. its only purpose is to show him what his future is going to look like.

the woman isn’t like that. she’s not just an example. she’s there to take him with her.

like the corpse, she’s rotting. half of the skin of her face is falling off or has already sloughed off, exposing her teeth and jaw and a hole where her nose should have been. the clumps of hair that are still sticking to her head are matted with blood and other bits of the human body that seokjin doesn’t want to think about.

she advances slowly on him, dragging one foot behind her as she hobbles toward him with an outstretched, rotting hand. he could get away from her quite easily, could outrun her without breaking a sweat, no doubt. if only it were that simple.

the issue is that his limbs are locked in place, fear racing through his veins and incapacitating him to the point where he can’t move or even look away. he’s stuck looking at her in all her gory detail, wishing she’d move faster so that his misery would come to an end sooner. her speed is so agonizingly slow that it gives his fear even more time to fully take root and glue him into place.

just when seokjin thinks he’s found the courage to close his eyes, a voice makes him open them wide again:

“how many times do we have to tell you to stay the fuck away from him?” jungkook says. within a few seconds, he’s stepped into seokjin’s field of view. without fear, he marches up to her, his own arm outstretched as well.

seokjin watches dully as she flies up into the air, hanging like a ragdoll as an unseen force pushes her right back into the well. she screams in rage, an awful, guttural noise that echoes through the well and makes him wince.

“hey… hyung,” namjoon says softly. he sinks down right in front of seokjin and blocks him from seeing whatever else is happening around the cursed well. he smiles and strokes seokjin’s hair. “it’s okay. you’re safe now.”

seokjin blinks rapidly. he shakes his head, wrapping his arms around his knees and softly rocking his body.

he can’t even speak. there are no words, nothing to say; he doesn’t know how to, doesn’t understand what’s just happened. the only thing he can do is shake his head and speed up his breathing, until he starts to feel lightheaded and his vision swims.

he knows he’s going to pass out, which terrifies him even more. what if she comes back? he won’t be able to get away then. he’ll be utterly defenseless. she’ll kill him, like she’s been meaning to this entire time.

“hyung, slow down,” namjoon tries. he cups seokjin’s face, getting even closer, until seokjin’s entire vision is filled with namjoon’s face. “she can’t hurt you. jungkook’s got it covered.”

it doesn’t help. seokjin can no longer think straight; he can only panic and try not to scream.

namjoon looks over his shoulder, finding jungkook bent over to peer down into the well with a scowl on his face. there’s some blood on his fingers, but namjoon knows it’s not his. “i can’t get him to calm down, jungkook-ah.”

jungkook doesn’t look up. he bends down enough to yank the rotting bucket next to his feet off the ground and bring it down on the woman’s head when she peeks out again. with a sickening crack and an inhumane growl, she goes down again. “make him sleep, hyung.” he murmurs. “we’ll carry him back.”

namjoon looks back at seokjin with a concerned frown on his face. “i’m sorry, hyung… we failed to protect you.” he says. he strokes the side of seokjin’s face with the back of his hand, before he pulls it back and snaps his fingers right in front of him. “sleep.”

and so seokjin does.

 

namjoon and jungkook sit on the bed on either side of seokjin’s sleeping form, looking down on him with grim faces. he’s sleeping peacefully for once, but things will change once he wakes up.

there’s no telling how much he’ll remember, or how much they’ll be able to rectify. they’ve gotten to the point where they can’t hide behind shrouding him in confusion any longer, because he’s been subjected to far too much.

there’s only so much you can make a person forget.

“it’s time, isn’t it?” jungkook asks sadly. he pouts down into his lap and fights weakly against namjoon’s hand when he takes jungkook’s chin between his fingers to nudge his face up a little. “i don’t want to…”

“we have no choice, jungkook-ah. you know that.” namjoon lets go of jungkook’s chin to sit back and rearrange himself until he’s with his back toward the headboard and his legs sideways off the bed. “come here,” he says, waiting for jungkook to get off the bed, walk around it, and lie back down with his head in namjoon’s lap.

“but we can try, right?” he asks in pout. he turns onto his side so that he can see part of seokjin and reaches out to hold his hand.

“we’ve already pushed the limit. any more, and we’ll end up rupturing his mind. haven’t we made him suffer enough?”

“i don’t want him to suffer. i want him to stay here of sound mind, hyung. i like him. i don’t like what we’re doing to him. can’t we find a different soul for taehyung to consume?”

namjoon sighs softly. he slips his fingers into jungkook’s hair, scritches at his scalp. “i don’t know, babe. it’d take too long, and what if we anger him? he likes seokjin. he’s set his sights on him. the risk would be too great. as much as we like seokjin…”

“you don’t want to keep him around?” jungkook asks softly. he looks away from seokjin to make eye-contact with namjoon. “you don’t like him enough?”

“‘course i do. it’s not about not liking him enough. it’s just that it’s too dangerous. what if taehyung gets mad and decides to take you?”

“so you’re just going to let him get sacrificed?” jungkook asks. he’s pouting childishly again, which makes namjoon snort.

he shakes his head softly, fondly, and flicks jungkook’s forehead. “i’m not letting him get sacrificed. we’re sacrificing him. as much as it pains me, i don’t think we have a choice anymore, jungkook-ah…”

“i know,” jungkook mutters. “i was just hoping…” he worries his bottom lip between his teeth and sighs.

namjoon bends down to press a kiss to jungkook’s forehead. “what? what were you hoping?”

“i don’t know,” jungkook says. “i just don’t want him to die.”

namjoon agrees with a shake of his head, grimacing. “yeah… me neither.”

 

in the library, taehyung’s just enjoying a dusty old book that hasn’t seen the light of day in centuries, when his favourite couple appear behind him with twin looks of disapproval. he doesn’t even have to turn around to know they’re frowning angrily at him. he snorts. “hey.”

“you’re still going through with this?” yoongi asks. he takes the book away from taehyung, closes it and slides it away from him so that he doesn’t have anything else to focus on. “after everything you’ve put him through?”

taehyung just raises his brow. “what have i put him through? i haven’t done anything.”

“they’re doing this for you,” hoseok says. “don’t play dumb. they wouldn’t be doing this were they not servicing you.”

“and it’s my fault they chose to service me? i never asked. i never told them specifically to go for him.”

“do you not care that he’s struggling? he can’t even write anymore, because they’ve been feeding him your blood and it’s fucking with him. he’s constantly out of it, his memories are fucked… you really don’t care?”

taehyung cocks his head. “i’m only a minor deity, min yoongi. what makes you think i have the capacity to care? what makes you think i want to care?”

“we’ve seen you talk to him,” hoseok says. “you don’t usually do that. you don’t care to get to know your sacrifices, because they’re just food to you. and yet you willingly hang around him. you like talking to him; don’t deny it.”

taehyung won’t deny it, but he won’t admit to it, either. it’s true that he’s grown partial to seokjin and that he’s started to question whether he won’t miss him once he’s gone, but still. who do they think they are, talking to taehyung like that?

“what?” yoongi questions. he crosses his arms in front of his chest. “why are you glaring at us? you don’t get to glare at us like that, after what you brought to this hotel. and certainly not when you’ve made up your mind about accepting seokjin as a sacrifice. i thought you were better than this.”

taehyung doesn’t mean to, but yoongi’s comment makes him gasp. of course he’s better than that.

but is he really?

is he really, or is he just another tragic bastard that’s ended up semi-stuck in this wretched hotel? why else would he even consider consuming seokjin, when he’s been nothing but a lovely and kind person?

taehyung likes hanging out with seokjin. he likes seokjin’s company. seokjin isn’t a bad person at all; he doesn’t deserve to end up with such a shitty fate.

“fuck off,” he sighs. he groans exaggeratedly and rubs his face in annoyance, wishing he’d never made a connection with seokjin so that he could eat him without feeling guilty in the slightest.

yoongi and hoseok know enough. they look at each other over taehyung’s hung head and exchange triumphant smiles. seokjin’s going to be spared. taehyung’s no longer going to consume him. their work is done here.

 

“let seokjin go,” taehyung says, when he finds namjoon and jungkook later that day in their workroom, getting the first few materials for the ritual ready, since it won’t be long now. “i’ve changed my mind. he’s grown on me. i don’t want to consume him.”

jungkook’s head whips up, eyes wide and hopeful. namjoon is a little slower, but he can’t hide the hope in his expression, either. they’re both very clearly relieved, although a little disbelieving that taehyung would let such a tasty meal go.

“are…” jungkook swallows thickly. he glances at namjoon for a second, before he finds taehyung again. “are you sure?”

taehyung hums. “quite sure. like i said, he’s grown on me. i’d be sad to see him go. i’d much prefer for him to stick around alive and well.”

they nod quickly, trying to tone down their enthusiasm even just a little.

“what should we do instead?” namjoon asks carefully. “you have to feed. we can’t let you starve. if we leave him alone, it’ll be a while before we have a new body ready.”

“yeah, i know. it’s fine. i can wait. just get me one of those stupid businessmen,” taehyung says dismissively. “they taste alright… one of the nastier ones, if you can. i like it when they cry.”

“we’ll find you the nastiest and tastiest of them all, hyung,” jungkook assures him. “we promise.”

“alright,” taehyung mumbles. “please… undo whatever you did with him. we’ve tortured him for long enough; i think it’s time we set him free, don’t you think?”

namjoon and jungkook nod eagerly. they watch taehyung leave and turn to each other with relieved sighs.

“thank fuck,” jungkook mutters, leaning his forehead onto namjoon’s shoulder.

“we’re not out of the clear yet, jungkook-ah,” namjoon murmurs. “we can’t undo this without telling him everything. we’ll have to wake him up and… very gently…”

“yeah,” jungkook sighs.

they know full well that there’s no gentle way of easing him into anything. once they undo everything, seokjin is in for a rough time.

 

for once, seokjin looks completely peaceful. yoongi and hoseok stand over him and watch him sleep for a little while, wondering how they’re going to do this. he’ll stop looking so peaceful once they’re done, but they know it’s the right thing to do.

“they gave him the antidote, right?” hoseok asks. “they’re clearing the fog?”

yoongi nods. “it shouldn’t be long now. once he wakes up, he should be back to normal.”

hoseok sighs. he doesn’t want to do this any more than yoongi does, but they both know it’s necessary. they need to show himeverything, the unfiltered truth, to prevent the others from keeping him in the dark as much as possible.

“okay. let’s go.”

hoseok holds onto yoongi’s hand tightly, while yoongi touches two fingers to seokjin’s forehead. they close their eyes.

 

the hotel is shrouded in darkness when they step in through the open door. there’s a lot of fog hanging low to the ground, all the way up to their knees; so thick they can’t even see their feet when they look down.

“where do you think he’s hiding?” hoseok asks. squeezing yoongi’s hand a little tighter, he walks ahead very carefully. his eyes sweep from left to right to peer into every empty room they pass in hopes of catching a glimpse of seokjin.

“let’s try his room. maybe he’s still in bed.”

hoseok hums. “if not, we can try the library. or the terrace.”

“the well…”

hoseok grimaces. “i hope not. he’s not safe from her in his dreams. she has more power in this realm than in the waking one.”

they walk on in silence, passing more empty rooms and steering clear of wandering spirits. hoseok and yoongi will be safe if they interact with them, but they don’t want to risk leading them right to seokjin, who won’t be able to protect himself like they can. his mind has been completely exposed due to consuming taehyung’s blood for so long; any old spirit would be able to come in and take over now.

until he wakes up, he’s not safe at all.

luckily, they find seokjin tucked away in his room. he’s behind his desk, staring at his white screen uninterrupted. he looks like he’s been sitting there for a long time.

“hey…” yoongi tries, when they approach him. “what are you doing behind your laptop?” he rests his hand on seokjin’s shoulder and squeezes softly.

seokjin looks up slowly. he blinks. “i’ve been trying to write for so long… i can’t do it. i think i’ve lost my touch.”

“it’s okay,” hoseok tells him. “you don’t have to write right now.”

“why is the room so dark?” seokjin asks. he looks around, notices the long shadows cast on the walls, on the floor… they come from nowhere and everywhere and he knows that can’t be right, but he’s not sure why it’s not right.

“you’re dreaming.”

“have i been dreaming this entire time?” seokjin asks distractedly. “my mind has been slipping away from me recently. has it all just been a dream? i’ve seen some horrible things...”

hoseok walks around seokjin, shuts his laptop and leans against the desk. he shakes his head and gives him an apologetic smile. “no, sorry. some of it was hallucination, but most of it was real.”

“is this real, too, then?”

“no,” yoongi says. “this is a dream. when you wake up, everything will be much clearer to you.”

seokjin looks over his shoulder at yoongi. he pouts a little and his brows furrow. “promise? i’m really tired of forgetting.”

“promise. would you like to come with us? we have some things to show you. we want to show you what happened.” yoongi lifts his hand off seokjin’s shoulder and holds it out to him for grab, pulling him up once he’s done so.

“what are you going to show me?”

hoseok comes to stand on seokjin’s other side and takes his hand, as well. “everything. don’t be scared, okay? we’ll protect you.”

seokjin just nods. he lets them pull him along, out of his room, through the corridor and down the stairs… all the way out of the hotel to show him the outside. this is where it all started, after all. if they want to show him everything, they have to start at the beginning.

“why is it rotting?” seokjin asks. he’s not taken aback or surprised, because he’s seen it before, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look any less creepy.

“do you believe that places have souls?” hoseok asks.

seokjin cocks his head while he contemplates the question, as well as the state of the hotel. “not until now.”

“too many awful things have happened here,” says yoongi. “it’s hard for a building not to absorb at least some of it.”

“what kinds of awful things?”

yoongi looks at seokjin and shakes his head. “you don’t want to know.”

seokjin accepts that with a nod. he lets them pull him up the steps toward the entrance. when they step inside, they’re in the dining room, where jimin’s just pouring seokjin a glass of wine.

the moment seokjin looks away, namjoon bends over and puts a drop of a red liquid in it. they watch as seokjin drinks it.

“what did he put in my drink?”

“taehyung’s blood.”

“why?”

“to prepare you.”

seokjin wants to ask for what, but it seems silly to ask, because he kind of already knows what all of this has been for. “he’s not human. what is he?”

“he’s a minor deity,” hoseok says.

the night fast forwards a little. they feed seokjin more of taehyung’s blood, and seokjin, yoongi and hoseok watch as seokjin becomes sleepier and sleepier, until he no longer has the energy to get up of his own accord and walk upstairs. namjoon and jungkook sling seokjin’s arms over their shoulders and walk him upstairs.

they remain standing at the foot of the stairs, until the three are out of sight.

“aren’t deities supposed to be kind?”

yoongi chuckles softly. he shakes his head. “no. no, they’re not.”

“taehyung was kind to me. i thought he liked me.”

“he does. he likes your company.”

“but he’s going to eat me once i wake up.”

“not anymore.”

“oh.”

 

yoongi and hoseok show him a memory that isn’t his own. it belongs to the house, which is the only reason they’re able to witness it.

in it, a previous victim shows up and is fed taehyung’s blood. seokjin watches dully as he rapidly descends into madness. he ends up in places he doesn’t remember going to, sees things that aren’t there and forgets huge chunks of memory.

one thing that stands out to seokjin is that the victim is largely ignored by the others, other than to feed into his insanity. taehyung doesn’t sit with him, yoongi and hoseok don’t interact with him, nor do they try to send him away, and namjoon and jungkook only interact with him enough to feed him more blood and make sure he doesn’t become aware of what they’re doing to him.

the memory goes on to show him the ritual, where the victim willingly steps up to taehyung and offers himself as a sacrifice.

“why is he offering himself? who would do that?” seokjin closes his eyes and turns away when taehyung accepts the sacrifice. he doesn’t want to see; it makes him feel sick to his stomach.

“it’s the blood,” yoongi explains. he gently pulls seokjin away, out of the memory and back into seokjin’s own consciousness. “it wants to go back to taehyung, so it manipulates its host.”

“that’s fucked…”

they wander into namjoon and jungkook’s room, where they find seokjin sat on the bed. jungkook’s next to him, kissing and caressing his face, while namjoon’s with his back to them, fixing them some wine. he puts a few drops into seokjin’s, before handing the glasses over.

“was that part of the ritual, too?” seokjin asks sadly. “what did he put in my wine? it wasn’t blood…”

“no, they weren’t supposed to do that,” yoongi sighs. “they don’t sleep with their victims.”

“they fed you an aphrodisiac,” hoseok explains. he respectfully averts his eyes when jungkook begins tugging seokjin’s shirt up over his head.

seokjin wants to look away, he really does, but he can’t seem to stop. of all the things he’s forgotten about, he hated forgetting this night the most. it’s not like he didn’t think it was strange that the night was so hazy to him, but every night had been, so it didn’t really stand out.

seeing it play out now, clear as day, has him curious but sad. “i would’ve slept with them without it,” he says. “i came with them to their room to—you know. i was going to before they gave me that.”

he watches the scene unfold a little more, until he can no longer bear to watch and he has to look away. “can we go somewhere else?”

and so they take him on the rest of the tour of his maze of memories. they show him every little thing he’d forgotten, every conversation about him regarding the sacrifice, until seokjin tells them he’s seen enough.

“why would you show me all this?” seokjin asks, as he sits down on his bed once they’re back in his room.

“it was jimin who gave us the idea, actually,” hoseok admits. “we came up with the idea together. we wanted to make sure you wouldn’t be kept in the dark any longer. while we don’t doubt that namjoon and jungkook care about you, we wanted to make sure they don’t keep anything from you. it seems likely they wouldn’t tell you everything, since they want you to like them. we thought it would be better if we showed you using your own memories. we thought it’d be easier. that way, we could show you that you hadn’t gone mad.”

seokjin looks down at his folded hands placed neatly in his lap. despite everything they’ve shown him and everything he’s learned, he’s not afraid of them. weirdly enough, he still trusts them. “why? why not try to lie to me?”

“we like you. we wanted you to know everything.”

“you weren’t involved in the ritual? you… tried to get me to leave the hotel.”

yoongi hangs his head, while hoseok reaches out for seokjin, only to change his mind at the very last second. he pulls his hand back and places it in his own lap. “yeah, but we still let it happen. we should have tried to intervene. we’re very sorry we let it get this far.”

seokjin slowly lies down on his bed. with his eyes trained on the ceiling, he sighs again. what a shitty situation. what a shitty fucking situation. “who was the woman? in the well. she’s not with you? jungkook fought her off… they’ve continuously tried to keep me away from her. she was trying to kill me, i think.”

“she’s… an unrelated horror. she was there before our time. we know that taehyung locked her in there, but no one’s sure why. she’s… never been good news, though, even before she was forced in there.”

“so they did protect me.” seokjin purses his lips while he tries to put all his thoughts and the new information he’s gathered in a neat little row. they’d protected him on multiple occasions, but it’s likely they did so only because they wanted to protect their sacrifice; not because they actually cared about him.

“they did,” hoseok says. “they’re not bad guys. they’re just…”

“they’re witches who dabble in black magic,” yoongi goes on. “they’ve signed a contract they can’t easily walk away from. not to justify what they’ve done, of course, because it doesn’t make it any less shitty…”

seokjin sighs again. he doesn’t really know what else to do, now that he’s here in his dream, trying to process everything he’s been shown. “i’m going to wake up and freak out about all of this, aren’t i? i can’t believe i’m so calm right now… is it because i’m dreaming?”

hoseok hums. “most likely.”

after staring at his ceiling some more, he turns his head to the side to find yoongi looking at him cautiously, searching his face for any hint of what he’s thinking about. “jimin… he’s… ?”

“taehyung’s servant. they came down from the deity realm together.”

“he’s a little murderous.”

“he means well.”

seokjin snorts. maybe everyone in the hotel fits that description. they all seem a little murderous, but well-meaning. maybe. “and you? what… who are you two? how are you able to get inside of my dream? are you witches, too?”

neither hoseok nor yoongi respond. they turn toward him and pat his arm and shoulder, stroke his hair and forehead while smiling down at him. their gentle hands make him sleepier and sleepier, until seokjin can no longer fight it and he finds himself falling asleep.

 

“we have to wake him up,” namjoon says softly, while lifting his arm for jungkook to fit underneath as he comes walking into the room. he rubs jungkook’s back and tries not to pout childishly.

“i hope he’ll be okay,” jungkook says, voice muffled in namjoon’s shoulder. he upturns his face and leans his chin right on namjoon’s chest. “do you think he’ll still like us once we tell him? what if he doesn’t want us?”

“we still have to tell him,” namjoon says decisively. “even if it means he’ll run out of here screaming.”

jungkook groans. “i know. but i don’t want to.”

“don’t be a baby.”

“i’m going to be a baby.” jungkook narrows his eyes. “what are you going to do about it?”

namjoon smiles lightly. “i’ll kiss you if you stop being a baby. how’s that sound?” he tries not to be too offended by the time it takes for jungkook to decide whether he likes that deal. he gasps in disbelief and pokes him in the side.

jungkook tries to shy away, but he doesn’t get very far, since namjoon’s got him trapped against his side. “hyung,” he whines, trying to pluck namjoon’s arm off. “let go.”

“let me kiss you first,” namjoon murmurs into jungkook’s hair. “i need some courage.”

jungkook tilts his face up again, purses his lips and makes a stupid kissy sound until namjoon rolls his eyes and stops him by pressing his own mouth to jungkook’s. they kiss for a short while, until they break away and sigh in unison. they can’t put it off any longer; poor seokjin’s been out for long enough, it’s time they wake him up.

 

“hey… hyung…” jungkook tries, wincing at the loud and fake sound of his voice as he peers down at seokjin, who is just beginning to open his eyes. he tries to smile, but he’s aware of how painful it looks. “you’re awake. hey...”

gingerly, namjoon sits down on the edge of the bed. he can’t even look at seokjin, can’t find the courage to face him after everything they’ve done. he stares at a spot on the headboard just above seokjin’s head. “hi, hyung.”

seokjin is extremely disoriented when he finally opens his eyes. he remembers his dream, remembers everything yoongi and hoseok showed him. he remembers other things, too, now that they’ve pulled back the curtains for him. he’s still trying to get his bearings, but he’s already starting to feel the seed of fear.

it’s been planted inside of him ever since he first set foot in the hotel, but it hasn’t had the change to firmly take root until now. there’s nothing left in his system to inhibit his feelings and, stupidly enough, he wishes he was still under the influence of taehyung’s blood.

he doesn’t want to deal with fear right now. seokjin doesn’t want to deal with anything.

“fuck…” he whispers. “oh, fuck…”

taehyung and jimin appear quietly, as well as yoongi and hoseok. the six of them all look down at him in various degrees of concern and apprehension, while seokjin can’t decide whether to scream or sigh really loudly.

“are you…” seokjin begins. he breathes heavily, swallowing thickly. his throat and mouth are so dry he’s afraid his tongue will get stuck to the roof of his mouth. it’s a miracle he’s even able to talk. “... are we still on for my ritualistic sacrifice at five?”

both yoongi and hoseok turn their faces away to hide their amusement, but seokjin can still hear them snort loudly.

“oh…” jungkook says dumbly. he looks up at namjoon. “he knows. why does he know?”

namjoon slowly turns his head until he finds yoongi and hoseok. he stares them down, even though they refuse to look at him. “would you like to tell us what you did?”

“it was jimin who suggested it…” hoseok says under his breath. he still doesn’t look in namjoon’s direction.

jimin gasps. “i only said it in passing! shut up! i was just—”

the six bicker loudly and childishly, all standing around the bed, while seokjin lies quietly and tries to calm himself down. everything was made clear to him in his dream, but he’s only just starting to make sense of it all in the waking world.

there’s too much he has to take in, but the worst part of it all is that he has to come to terms with the fact that the horrible scene at the well wasn’t part of his imagination.

it seems silly and almost fucked up that that’s the part he’s hung up about, and not the part where they were all going to sacrifice him, or the part where they kept him practically drugged for weeks, or even the part where namjoon and jungkook slipped him something before they had sex. that’s not it.

those parts suck, too, but not as much as the part where a whole ass fucking corpse climbed out of a well and tried to drag him back into its rotten depths.

what the fuck.

suddenly terrified beyond all measure, seokjin bursts into tears. “everyone shut the fuck up and get out!” he shrieks. he presses his fists to his eyes and feels the skin on his knuckles soak in tears.

they all fall silent, perplexed by his sudden outburst. it’s not that they’d forgotten about his existence, but he’s been so quiet up until now that they’re startled to realise they’ve been arguing right in front of his nose. he must be so overwhelmed, trying to make sense of everything while six people stand over him and bicker with each other.

if seokjin had any energy in him after everything he’d been through, he’d crawl out of bed and march straight out of the cursed hotel. but as it stands, he doubts he could even sit up properly without flopping back down like a ragdoll. all he can do is lie in bed and hope they leave.

he needs to be alone. he needs to cry and scream into his pillow while he’s finally lucid. he needs to be alone with his thoughts for once, now that he’s able to access them again.

“please, just get out,” he begs. “i’m so tired. i don’t want to see you right now. you were going to sacrifice me!

since no one can really argue with that, they all leave silently, except for jimin, who sticks around long enough to get seokjin a glass of water and set it down next to him on his bedside table. just in the door opening, he turns back around to tell him: “call me if you need anything. i’m really sorry. we all are.”

 

they all try to give seokjin some space over the next few days while he stays in bed, trying to recover from the absolute shitshow he’s been subjected to. that doesn’t mean they don’t still stop by to see how he’s doing, though, or to come bring him some food or drink.

they sit with him for a bit, heads hung in shame, until seokjin tells them to piss off. he doesn’t want to talk to anyone, other than perhaps yoongi and hoseok, who have given him plenty of reason to trust them.

he lets them sit with him, and listens with caution as they talk about the others and try to let seokjin know that they—specifically namjoon and jungkook, who he’s been thinking about the most—aren’t all that bad.

yes, they sacrifice people sometimes. yes, they do sketchy things. yes, their moral compass is absolutely busted...

“is this supposed to convince me to trust them?” seokjin sighs. “like, what’s the goal here? because this doesn’t make them sound any better.”

hoseok purses his lips at that while he thinks long and hard about what he was going to say, and what the point of his words was supposed to be. “i don’t know. i’m just saying it’s not all black and white.”

“everything is a fucking grey area here,” seokjin grumbles into his hands. “fucking annoying…”

 

after about a full week of slowly regaining his strength, seokjin finally feels equipped enough to get to his feet and bolt immediately.

he puts only enough thought into his move to find his car keys and wallet—although that last one is mostly by accident, since it’s in the pocket of the coat he puts on—but he doesn’t think to get any of his other stuff. he doesn’t want to stay around to gather everything. he just wants to leave. he has to leave the hotel.

it’s hard to say now how he feels. he’s frightened, but he can’t say for certain what he’s frightened of.

the hotel? sure. the hotel creeps him out to no end, which mostly has to do with the fact that he now knows that its foundations are absolutely drenched in blood and death and all kinds of sorrow.

is he frightened of its inhabitants? and, if yes, which ones? there are a lot, more than he thought there were at first, and he knows not all of them mean harm. some do. some are pure evil and it’s not very hard to tell, but yet others aren’t so black and white.

some people are a little evil, but only as much as their circumstances have made them.

seokjin’s not so sure whether that truly makes someone evil. if you have no other choice, wouldn’t that just make you an unfortunate semi-bastard? a vague-victim? a…

seokjin doesn’t know. the only thing he’s sure of is that he has feelings he’s not supposed to have, and that he should hate namjoon and jungkook a whole lot more than he actually does—which is to say: he doesn’t hate them, but he probably should.

he should probably put as much distance between him and the hotel as possible, but he doesn’t want to flee back home. he still has stuff lying at the hotel, so he can’t just up and leave.

the next best thing after leaving for home, is to go back to the nearby town. it’s still too close, but it puts some distance between him and that small little hell. it also brings him one step closer to civilisation.

naturally, he ends up at the same restaurant as last time. the owner still remembers him and smiles warmly, only to cock her head and look at him in concern while she takes him in from head to toe.

“you look rough,” she says bluntly. “are you doing okay, boy?”

seokjin doesn’t even know where to begin, if he’s honest. he’s very far from being okay, but he doubts he has the vocabulary necessary to actually get into it. instead of struggling to say anything, he just smiles vaguely and nods.

“i was thinking of you, you know,” she says, as she puts a bowl of food in front of him. she pulls the stool next to him from under the table and sits down next to him. “after you left, i couldn’t stop thinking about the red sun. i was wracking my brain, trying to remember the last owners, trying to remember their names… it drove me mad!”

seokjin sniffs. he knows a thing or two about being driven to near-insanity, although he knows he’s gotten very lucky compared to the other victim he’d been shown in his dream. “did you ever figure it out?”

she nods enthusiastically now. “i did! i realised i still had a newspaper clipping about the horrible events that took place back then. i took apart the entire house to find it, but in the end i did. their names were right there. min yoongi and jung hoseok. they were good men. they really were. such sweet people.”

the spoon hovering about midway between his food and his mouth clatters right in his soup. seokjin stares at her with his jaw slack, eyes wide. “excuse me?”

“their deaths shook up the entire town,” she says with a sad little sigh, while she shakes her head.

seokjin looks down into his soup slowly. he’s not even surprised. not really. he’s a little shocked, sure, but he’s not surprised. now that he thinks about everything, he’s starting to realise that all the signs were pointing to it.

the random disappearances. the fact that they were able to show up in his dream… the way they talked, and the way the others talked about them. it makes sense.

why hadn’t he realised before?

why hadn’t they told him?

 

since seokjin doesn’t really know what to do now that he’s here—he hadn’t come here with a plan, after all. he actually doesn’t have a fucking clue what to do now that he’s out of the hotel—he decides to retrace his steps.

he remembers vaguely where he’d gone the one and only time he left the hotel, but he doesn’t truly remember. that, and he’d never finished the hiking trail. hoseok and yoongi had recommended it to him, so it seems fitting to walk it, knowing what he knows now.

the trail is nice. he’s actually fully aware of where he’s walking now, and doesn’t feel the inexplicable urge to turn around and run all the way back. he just gets to enjoy being out in nature without interruption.

for the first time in a while, seokjin just gets to exist on his own. he feels free and light, like he’s finally able to breathe again after having his airways blocked.

he’s had time to recover in his room after waking up, both to regain his energy and his memories, as well as his agency, but only now does he truly feel like he’s regaining himself. out in nature, walking up a hill surrounded by nature that doesn’t stifle him, seokjin finally feels like himself again.

he walks all the way to the top, where there’s a deck that allows him to look out over the town and the surrounding area without obstruction. there isn’t anything noteworthy to see, but it’s a nice view; the calm and the quiet would look boring to most, but that’s precisely what seokjin likes about it.

the boredom is extremely soothing to him, because it’s the reason he’d come to this place, the hotel. he hasn’t had a chance to experience it up until now, leaning his forearms on the railing as he looks down into the boring valley and feels completely at peace.

he tries not to think about anything that’s transpired, tries to allow himself not to really think about anything, but he can’t help it. he can’t help but think about hoseok and yoongi while standing there, which inevitably leads him to think about the hotel, as well as seokjin’s very puzzling experience with it, which leads him to think about namjoon and jungkook.

seokjin’s not mad at them. he truly wants to be. he wants to hate them and wishes he could find it in him to despise them after everything, but… he can’t. the only stupid reason he can think of for not resenting them is that his feelings are very complicated.

it’s hard to think of anyone in that hotel as truly good or bad. objectively, eating people isn’t great, but to what degree can seokjin apply human morality when taehyung isn’t even human? do things change when he takes into account the fact that taehyung had seemed truly remorseful, even if only because he got to know seokjin and decided he really liked him? does it help that taehyung had sat down by his bed and told him, in the same very questionable conversation, that:

“bad people taste amazing. murderers especially, they have this spice to them that no human spices could ever replicate. whenever possible, i ask namjoon and jungkook to lure the nastiest people to us, because they have more flavour to them than good humans do.”

and:

“you humans eat animals. some of you, at least. you need them for food. i eat a human every now and then, because i need to feed. what’s the difference? you could argue that animals are a lot purer than humans are, so what’s the problem?”

which are two things seokjin still hasn’t been able to argue with for multiple reasons.

there are taehyung and jimin, who pose a very big question mark for seokjin.

there are yoongi and hoseok, who are ghosts, which is something seokjin’s going to have to try to process, and who haven't exactly gone out of their way to stop the others from preparing seokjin to be eaten.

seokjin doesn’t fault the couple for that, he truly doesn’t, because it seems like a comparatively minor offence when stacked up against everything else. however, it does mean that even yoongi and hoseok, who seokjin considers to be very good people, are in a bit of a grey area.

lastly, namjoon and jungkook. they’d more or less orchestrated the whole thing. they’d drugged him. they’d led him astray...

but they’d also protected him. they’d taken care of him after he’d woken up. they were, apparently, bound by some sort of contract, which meant they probably didn’t sacrifice people just for the fun of it.

“you can’t still have feelings for them,” seokjin mutters to himself. he rubs his eyes. “what is wrong with you? it wasn’t real. you were practically drugged the entire time! are you stupid? they were going to sacrifice you, it’s not rocket science.”

except it most definitely feels like rocket science to him. he can’t for the life of him figure out how he’s supposed to feel. he knows the objective truth of it all, which is a pretty terrible truth, and he knows other would be horrified to learn of it, but then there’s seokjin’s personal truth, which feels a lot more jumbled up by pesky emotions.

“they’re bad people,” he tries to remind himself. “bad. people. really bad. yes, they’re hot, but they’re also bad. villains are often sexy, and yet superheroes don’t go and fuck them. stop it.

with a loud and dramatic groan, seokjin lets his forehead smack against the railing. it hurts, which is good, because maybe that means he’ll come to his senses.

he stays hunched over in that position, mentally beating himself up, until an idea starts to form and, ultimately, comes crashing in quite violently once it’s taken shape. he shoots up, eyes wild, smile beginning to grow.

“that’s it. that’s it!”

frantically, he searches his pockets for his phone, or anything to write on, but he has nothing on him. “fuck,” he curses.

after one last sweep over the boring valley whose sight seokjin adores, he turns his back to it and barrels down the path he’d taken, straight to his car. he needs to get back to the hotel, to his laptop, and write everything down before he forgets. he has a habit of forgetting his ideas if he doesn’t write them down immediately, as well as a recent habit of plain and simple forgetting—no thanks to them—so he’s in a bit of a hurry.

at no point during his trip back to the hotel does it cross his mind that he’ll be going back to them, to the hotel. all he can think about is wanting to jot down his idea. for the first time in a long while, seokjin can feel the adrenaline of inspiration course through him and the feeling is so addicting that he doesn’t really care about anything else.

 

when he makes it back to the hotel, he sprints out of his car and nearly trips over his own feet while taking the stairs two steps at a time. he doesn’t close his car door, nor does he shut the hotel’s front door.

once he’s inside, he barrels straight past a very confused jimin up the stairs.

“what’s going on?” he calls after seokjin, following him at a slower pace.

“can’t talk!” seokjin just says. “idea! have to write it down.”

his explanation may be incredibly cryptic, but jimin seems to get the gist of it. when he’s joined by namjoon and jungkook, looking equally as confused, he just says: “i think he’s in writer mode.”

“what’s writer mode?” jungkook asks in a loud whisper.

“i think it means he’s found inspiration,” namjoon muses.

the three hesitantly step into seokjin’s room—he’s left this door open, too, because closing it is a second wasted he could have spent writing—and hover a little behind him to watch him log into his user account and drum his fingers on his keyboard while he waits for his text document to load.

“can we get you anything, hyung?” namjoon asks. “anything we can do?”

seokjin just shakes his head furiously, fingers beginning to fly over his keyboard at a speed they haven’t seen anyone type before. he types with a fury that is honestly quite commendable. “i’m going to exploit you for content,” he warns. “if you complain or distract me, i will eat you.”

which is a fair threat.

 

for the most part, the six let seokjin write in peace. they check up on him from time to time, sticking their heads into the room to see how he’s doing and whether he needs anything. sometimes, they’ll just quietly drop off a drink or something to eat without saying so much as a word.

namjoon and jungkook in particular stop by a lot. more often than not, they keep quiet. they’ll sit at the foot of the bed and look at him for a while, or they’ll stand behind him for a bit and read over his shoulder after he’s told them it’s fine, that they can look all they want.

seokjin may be in the writing zone, but he’s still aware of the fact that they’re hovering around him, anxious to know how he’s actually doing. he knows they feel guilty for everything that’s gone down, but he’s not in the mood to reassure them.

for one, he’s much too busy banging away at his laptop to stop and hold an actual conversation. if it were a very short i’m fine how are you thank you for bringing me drinks he’d think about looking away from his screen, but he knows a conversation like that won’t cut it when it comes to them. he’ll have to sit down with them and actually talk about things, but not right now. now, he has to write.

secondly, he also thinks it’s kind of fun to let them sweat. he won’t let them worry endlessly, but they kind of deserve it. they can wait. he knows they will.

so seokjin continues to type away like a madman, knowing his fingers will probably catch fire if he writes any faster. he writes and writes and writes. truthfully, he doesn’t know how much time passes.

he eats and drinks what they give him—they’d already drugged him twice, so he reckons it can’t get much worse—and, whenever he falls asleep, he wakes up with a blanket draped over his shoulders, as well as his laptop pushed away safely.

they may all be dickheads, but seokjin appreciates them. in their own little ways, they’re taking care of him. by all means, it looks like it goes unnoticed, but it really doesn’t. seokjin takes note of everything.

he won’t just forgive them because they bring him blankets and food and drinks, but it’s a start.

 

after a few days of only getting up for quick bathroom breaks, seokjin finishes his last sentence and stares at his screen. he sighs once, very loudly, and closes his laptop. he sits back to stare at the wall. blinking.

his eyes are tired, but he’s not tired. it’s the morning, he’s gotten in a few hours of sleep and woken up to another blanket draped over his shoulders. he doesn’t really want to curl up in bed right now; finishing his first draft has given him enough renewed energy to get up and head to his bathroom and clean himself up a little.

after taking a very long shower—a very needed one—seokjin leaves his room for the first time in days.

the hotel feels very different now. it looks normal, for one, and kind of boring. it looks the way a hotel is supposed to look at first glance, until you start looking a little closer and realise that a lot of things are just slightly off.

there are strange paintings hanging all along the corridors, with people in them that seem to be staring at seokjin as he walks past. maybe they are. seokjin wouldn’t be surprised.

there are other things, but they aren’t exactly tangible. the biggest one is probably the creeping sensation that something is just out of his line of sight. he constantly has the feeling that he’ll catch something if he just glances to the side quickly enough.

it doesn’t faze seokjin anymore. he doesn’t really know what’s causing it, but he knows it won’t hurt him. he knows he’s being protected from a myriad of bad things by beings that once wanted to inflict a myriad of those bad things upon him.

what a strange development.

“just in time for breakfast,” jungkook says in a gentle voice. he’s barefaced and smiling tentatively, like he’s unsure whether he’s allowed to smile at seokjin, or even talk to him.

seokjin hums. “coffee?”

jungkook nods. “please.”

they don’t speak while seokjin fixes them some coffee. he’s got his back turned toward jungkook while he works quietly, ignoring the eyes he feels boring holes into his back. even without looking at him, seokjin is aware of how nervous jungkook is. his nerves are palpable, and seokjin feels a little bad.

not bad enough to turn around and ease his worry, though. he wants to make him sweat a little, after they’ve made him sweat for a while. it’s only fair.

as he sets down a mug in front of jungkook and sits down opposite of him, he folds his fingers around his own mug. “i finished my first draft,” he mentions casually.

“oh! really? that’s so fast. that’s amazing, hyung.”

seokjin hums. he smiles a little and nods. the process that had led him to the first draft had been a painful one, but at least the writing part of it had gone swimmingly. he doesn’t remember ever writing that quickly. “it’s really rough, but it’s a start.”

“i’m glad you finally got to write again,” jungkook says softly.

seokjin just levels him a stare. he lifts a brow, head cocked a little, as though to ask and whose fault is it that i didn’t get to write until now?

head hung low, jungkook pulls his shoulders up to his ears. he may be a tall, muscular guy, but he looks terribly small all of a sudden. when he pouts, seokjin feels the urge to reach out to him and pat his head.

the only reason he doesn’t is because he feels like he should let him sweat for a while longer. he feels like he should. like he should give himself that, even though he kind of just wants to hug him. he hasn’t actually done that; not with a clear mind, at least.

before he can get up and wrap jungkook up in a hug, namjoon appears in the door opening. he shuffles in after studying seokjin’s face for a bit and judging that it’s safe to join. he sits gingerly. “good morning.”

“hi.” seokjin says.

“you’re not in front of your laptop.”

seokjin nods. it’s a stupid response to a very stupid observation. he doesn’t really know what to say. he hasn’t been in a situation like this before; not one that’s so awkward. “i finished,” he ends up saying.

“oh. wow… that’s…” namjoon nods awkwardly. “fast.”

“uh-huh.”

“we’re really sorry, hyung,” jungkook blurts. as soon as he’s said it, he slaps his hand over his mouth and cringes, as though he hadn’t meant to say that out loud. he sighs, peeks at namjoon, and finds seokjin’s gaze again. “we’re sorry, hyung,” he mutters once more.

“we can’t undo what we’ve done, but if there’s anything we—” namjoon begins. he trails off, shoulders drooping like jungkook’s.

“what are you sorry for?” seokjin asks calmly. he may not actually be angry at them, not in the way he should be, but he can certainly make them admit to everything out loud. maybe it’ll make him realise what they’ve done and he’ll feel more horrified by it all.

jungkook takes a deep breath, before folding his hands on the table and sighing softly. “we’re sorry for drugging you this entire time. and for making you think you were losing it. and for almost letting the well lady kill you.”

“and for almost feeding you to taehyung, and for keeping you in the dark. we’re also very sorry for…” namjoon trails off for a moment, and seokjin realises immediately why, and what he was going to say.

“for… ?” seokjin prompts gently. perhaps, of all the things that had gone down, this was the biggest one. even now, after having seen a bit of it in his dream, he isn’t sure what went down that night. how much control had he had? had they given him any control at all?

“for spiking your drink,” namjoon finally says. it takes a lot for him to look up, but when he does, he holds seokjin’s gaze. “i know we’ve already crossed all lines in existence, but we crossed that line. and we shouldn’t have. we took advantage of you.”

seokjin nods. with a weird feeling of relief, seokjin’s shoulder drop instantly. they feel lighter, somehow, now that it’s been put into words. he sits back with a sigh and keeps his gaze fixed on an empty spot on the table. “why? i was told it wasn’t even part of the ritual. so why?”

“because we liked you. like you, i mean,” jungkook answers in a mumble.

“but why slip me something? i already came back to your room with you. why did you think you needed to give me something to convince me to sleep with you? what was it that you gave me, anyway?”

“an aphrodisiac,” namjoon says. “it… turns people on. makes them more pliable. you were all fucked up from taehyung’s blood, so we weren’t sure you’d even be able to get turned on. we… we wanted you to want us.”

seokjin rubs his face slowly. he wishes there were many thoughts going through his head, little voices telling him how wrong it is, that it’s about time he leave the premises, but he doesn’t hear any of the sort. it’s stupidly quiet in his head, because he doesn’t really know how to feel. he wants to feel angry, because he knows he should, and he does feel some anger, but it’s not nearly enough.

“did you not want me without it?” he ends up asking. “would sleeping with me without it have been too boring for you? do you like drugging people and sleeping with them?”

if it weren’t such a serious topic they’re discussing, seokjin would’ve probably laughed at how quickly they shake their heads. “no!” they say at the same time. seokjin snorts.

“not at all,” jungkook stresses. “it wasn’t about that. it was never about that. we like using it on each other sometimes, but not… not unsuspecting strangers.”

seokjin purses his lips. he finds his coffee on the table, takes a swig to have something to do. he worries his teeth on his bottom lip while he sits back and tries to will himself to feel the things he should feel.

maybe there’s something wrong with him. why else would he not have run away screaming yet?

“i already kind of know what happened. yoongi and hoseok showed me everything. but i want you to tell me. start at the beginning.”

 

namjoon and jungkook have a hard time figuring out how to start, before realising the only way to tell seokjin everything is to actually tell him everything.

they start with taehyung and explain in broad lines what he is, although seokjin still only barely grasps the concept. he’s a deity of sorts, although he’s closer to a demonic entity than he is to being a god. the hotel isn’t technically his home, but his home in the deity realm stands right on top of it, so the hotel is the closest thing to home in the human realm for him.

“how long has he been here?”

“years,” jungkook says. “it’s hard to say. even hyung himself doesn’t really know.”

they explain that they’re witches, that they dabble in black magic, which isn’t a type of magic that should be practiced, really. it’s not good magic. it feeds on things it shouldn’t and consumes life.

it’s the reason they’ve signed a contract with taehyung. with his power, they don’t have to worry about consuming their own lives when they use black magic. they’re more or less protected from its parasitic tendencies.

when seokjin asks them why they even resorted to black magic in the first place, the two just look at each other for a bit with wry smiles.

“we found each other that way. we were both unfortunate enough to have needed it at some point in our lives. once you start, it’s hard to stop. using black magic leaves a mark on your soul. it’ll push you to continue using it, to continue marking your soul. once you use it, you’re doomed.”

seokjin has no hard time believing that, but he also guesses it’s not just that. namjoon and jungkook don’t seem to particularly mind. back in the memory the house had shown him in his dream, there’s been a weird sort of pleasure on their faces when they’d completed the ritual.

jungkook hums, despite the fact that seokjin hasn’t said it out loud. “yeah. we’re also just not very great people.”

at that, seokjin cocks his head. “maybe, in your own way, you are good people. you just have… questionable morals.”

they explain the process behind the offers to taehyung. there’s a vetting process normally, because they want to give him the best sacrifices they could possibly find, but sometimes they don’t have much choice. when tourism slows to a trickle, they either have to start luring someone to the hotel, or they have to settle for whichever unlucky bastard decided to vacation at their hotel of unspeakable horrors.

“so i was unlucky,” seokjin muses. “or did you lure me?”

“unlucky,” namjoon says. “if we’d have lured you, it would’ve been for… different purposes.”

seokjin just snorts. he shakes his head slowly and waves his hand to indicate that they can continue their explanation.

they launch into the process of preparing someone for the ritual, how taehyung’s blood is vital and that it fucks with someone’s perception of reality, as well as their memory. it muddles the senses and enhances that which isn’t actually there, until there’s enough disorientation that offering yourself to a bloodthirsty deity no longer seems like a big no-no.

“i saw a ritual. the guy didn’t even flinch. he just sat there, while…” seokjin grimaces, shaking his head and shivering in distant horror. he’s done a lot of forgetting these past few weeks, so he doesn’t really want to forget anything else, but that scene is definitely one he wouldn’t mind not remembering.

jungkook nods slowly. “it’s not pretty.”

“definitely not,” seokjin concludes. “i included some of it in my draft, but i had to tone it down and make it… you know. more digestible.”

“so you’re really writing about everything that happens here?” namjoon asks. he smiles lightly. “we can read over your draft, if you want. help you with some details.”

seokjin nods gratefully. “you owe me that much.”

“we owe you much more than that,” jungkook says. when he looks up to catch seokjin’s gaze, he finally seems a little less anxious. telling seokjin everything, talking about everything, seems to have helped him relax a little. he slides his hand out on the table toward seokjin, flips it palm up.

after looking down at it for a while, seokjin rests his hand on top of it and sighs heavily. “i want to be mad at you, and i am, like… a little,” he warns. “but not really. i should be angrier, frankly.”

they nod, having already expected as much.

“i like you,” seokjin says bluntly. “i don’t know why. it’s not like i was completely sober for… for most of this. but i do, and i can’t just shove those feelings away. i’m just annoyed that the only times we’ve kissed or done anything, i haven’t been fully there. it’s unfair.”

“we can kiss you now,” namjoon suggests. “you know, to level the playing field a little...”

seokjin narrows his eyes. “okay… but that doesn’t mean i’m not still mad at you.”

“of course!” namjoon says. “of course.”

seokjin lets the two of them move to sit closer. he watches as jungkook moves in first and, after some careful deliberation, softly presses his lips to seokjin’s. it’s clear that he’s holding back a lot, unsure of how much seokjin is willing to give and preferring to leave it up to him.

namjoon kisses him, too. like jungkook, he’s soft and gentle about it, treating him like a fragile little bird in how carefully he holds seokjin’s face and caresses it.

“ah…” seokjin sighs. he sits back slowly, contemplating everything. “that’s why i’m not angrier at you. it makes sense now.”

after exchanging furtive glances, the three chuckle softly.

 

the three sit in relative silence for a while. they have breakfast and sit with what they’ve talked about. there are still things to talk about, but there’s time for that later; not everything needs to be addressed right away.

the others trickle in slowly. not all of them need to have breakfast—at least, that’s what seokjin thinks. he’s not entirely sure—they only join them to sit with seokjin now that he’s finally pulled himself away from his screen. they look anxious to talk to him, but also hesitant to approach.

“i’m not going to bite,” seokjin sasses, once they’re all there, staring at him and keeping quiet.

“what if i want you to?” jungkook mutters under his breath. it’s followed by a yelp as taehyung jabs him in the side, which all sets them off. through laughing about jungkook’s stupid comment and taehyung’s response, everyone finally manages to relax.

“you’re ghosts,” seokjin says, addressing yoongi and hoseok. “why didn’t you tell me?”

they smile awkwardly at his question and look down at their hands. “we didn’t want to scare you,” yoongi admits. “we’d already piled so much onto you that we wanted to give you some peace.”

seokjin cocks his head. he gets where they’re coming from, but he questions how much it would have mattered. “i saw the lady in the well crawl out to murder me. i saw a man get sacrificed. you think i would’ve been scared by the fact that you were ghosts? after all that i was shown?”

hoseok shrugs. “we didn’t really know what to do. i’m sorry. we should have told you.”

“it’s okay,” seokjin says. he means it. since there’s no malicious intent behind the omission, he can’t really fault them for it. they just wanted to spare him. “a lady in town… she told me. i wasn’t mad to hear; just sad. you’ve been hanging around here for a while?”

“before namjoon and jungkook came to this place, yes,” yoongi says.

seokjin kind of wants to ask how they passed away out of a morbid sort of curiosity, but he wisely keeps his mouth shut. he doesn’t want them to have to bring up old, possibly painful, memories.

“the lady in the well,” hoseok says, as though he’s read seokjin’s mind. “she did to us what she tried to do to you.”

“oh.” seokjin feels a shiver travel through his spine at the mere thought. while every other memory doesn’t seem too scary anymore now that he’s seen everything in a new light, the lady in the well is still scary to him. the fact that she doesn’t seem to be part of their little group frightens him. “is that why she was locked in the well?” he asks.

they nod.

seokjin frowns, suddenly remembering their conversation about her. “wait, but you said no one knew why taehyung had locked her in there.”

hoseok pushes his lips together and quirks the corners of his mouth up into an embarrassed smile. “i lied.”

“she’d murdered before,” taehyung says, after clearing his throat. “sometimes she’d get to my sacrifices before me… sometimes they’d be unrelated. she was a nuisance, but i tolerated her, until she killed my friends. i didn’t like that.”

“you…” seokjin looks back over at yoongi and hoseok, who are smiling fondly at taehyung. “you were like namjoon and jungkook? you brought him sacrifices?”

“oh, no,” taehyung answers for them. he hangs his head while he laughs softly. “they had no idea who i was. i hung around this place far before they became the new owners. i grew a liking to them, but i didn’t think they’d approve of what i was doing. so i pretended to be a guest. i became a permanent one, and sent jimin to apply for a job at the hotel. they had no idea, until the night they were killed. they were quite mad at me.”

“rightfully so!” yoongi grumbles. “guests went missing all the damn time. some ran away. we were stumped, until she came and murdered us. it was a nasty death. you shouldn’t have let her roam!”

taehyung splutters a little. “i didn’t think it was fair to kick her out! i murder, too. what gives me the right to kick out another monster?”

seokjin sighs softly. the conversation is a little too much for him, even if it’s highly entertaining. he catches jimin’s gaze when he looks away and snorts when jimin lifts his hand, moving his fingers to simulate an endlessly talking mouth.

he looks off to the side to find jungkook staring at him curiously, openly. he reaches out when their eyes meet and their fingers weave together underneath the table.

on his other side, namjoon knocks his knee into seokjin’s thigh. when seokjin turns to look at him, he finds namjoon smiling at him lightly. seokjin pats namjoon’s knee, squeezes gently and leaves his hand there.

when he looks back up again, he finds that the others have stopped bickering and are all looking at them in equal parts amusement and fondness. he fights the urge to avert his eyes and start blushing heavily.

“hyung,” jungkook says. he pulls their hands from underneath the table and rests them on the surface for all to see. “what are your plans? are you… leaving?”

seokjin sucks his bottom lip into his mouth while he thinks. he knows what he should do, but it doesn’t align with what he actually wants to do. not at all. he should have been running away from them by now, but all he wants to do is run toward them.

“no,” he finally says. he sighs tiredly, feeling exhausted with himself. it shouldn’t be so complicated, and yet he’s making it very hard for himself for no apparent reason. “like i said: i’m going to exploit this for content. i won’t leave this forsaken place until i have a final draft. i’m not leaving, even if you try to eat me, or if the well lady decides to have another go at murdering me. i’m not leaving.”

the others all seem relieved to hear that. some smile, while others sigh softly. namjoon places his hand palm up on the table and wiggles his fingers in seokjin’s direction, while jungkook lifts seokjin’s hand up to his lips and kisses his knuckles.

seokjin may be a little pleased that they’re all relieved that he’s not leaving. he may be even more pleased that namjoon and jungkook are relieved. maybe he’s relieved that they’re relieved.

but they can’t prove that, and he’ll fervently deny when asked.

“i, uh…” seokjin purses his lips. “i should probably get back to my room. need to check in with people. i should let them know i’m still alive.”

even after having said that, he remains seated and alternates between staring at the table and glancing up at them. he clears his throat. “anyway.”

when he gets up, namjoon and jungkook follow him out silently. he let go of their hands when getting up, but they each reach for him again once they’ve left the room and it’s just the three of them walking side by side through the massive hallways.

he lets them tangle their fingers with his and hangs his head to smile down at his feet. he doesn’t glance up at them again until they reach the door to his room and he turns around to face them.

“we’re really sorry, hyung,” namjoon says again. after studying seokjin’s face for some time and not detecting any resentment, he takes a step closer to crowd seokjin against the door. “i’m sorry,” he murmurs, brushing his lips along seokjin’s cheekbone, down to his jaw and into his neck. his fingers rest on seokjin’s ribs, moving with each intake of breath.

jungkook’s there, too. seokjin can’t say for certain when he’d come closer, but he’s there now, pressing in alongside namjoon. he finds seokjin’s mouth, kisses him softly a few times. his fingers slip into seokjin’s hair and slip toward the back of his neck.

“just—” seokjin begins, feeling his resolve break. “come bring me lunch later.”

“we can bring it right now,” jungkook suggests. “room service.”

seokjin sighs very slowly. he reaches behind him, fiddles with his door until he gets it to open with only one hand and without looking. clumsily, he pushes it open and shuffles backward, pulling them along with him.

“if you bill me for the room service, i’m going to leave a scathing review...”