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strawberries and tidal waves

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yoongi blames it on the butterfly effect. 

it's funny how he believes so much in facts and logic but still manages to find comfort in a theory. he knows the reason why he focus on the subtle things - like the way jungkook pronounces his name, or they way he looks at yoongi when he's had too much work and too little sleep - is because he needs to understand all that happens around him, all the causes and its consequences. yoongi knows he's not looking at an exception when he stares at the mirror but at a standard. he knows the gleam he believes that takes over jungkook's gaze when they lock eyes is just distorted data produced by his tired brain. he knows (he does) that the feelings he tries to keep buried under pounds of bones and exhaustion are nothing but coffee-induced hallucinations. 

(at least that's what he tells himself at night.)

but the butterfly effect: it makes sense at 3 a.m. if it weren’t for late alarms, he and jungkook probably would have never met. maybe, possibly, they’d cross paths at some point (they still went to the same university, after all), but they wouldn’t be anything more than acquaintances, than random faces with no names to be associated with. if it weren’t for the poor sense of direction yoongi deals with every day before having his first cup of coffee, or for the fucking optimistic haze that traps jungkook’s bright eyes in a hypnosis every once in a while, they wouldn’t have tripped over each other. jungkook wouldn’t have spilled an entire caramel macchiato on yoongi’s flannel shirt. they wouldn't have exchanged numbers ("oh my god, i'm so sorry, i didn't see you there. you can take my jacket, i'm not even wearing it anyway. keep it for the day, i'll give you my number so i can get it back") and everything that happened after that just wouldn't. exist.

it hurts thinking about it that way. of course, yoongi is grateful for the unintended consequences. he's thankful for them when jungkook smiles at him, pretty and oblivious, like nothing else matters in the world. until he remembers it's just trickery. lies dressed up in difficult grammar and beautiful words. and then, only then, he wishes causality didn't know who he was. he wouldn't have jungkook, but it would be easier somehow.

(he wants to gather these thoughts and set them on fire each time they cross his mind.)

  

-

 

"but hyung," jungkook continues, his brows furrowing as he scribbles on his notebook. "he's just so strange. he comes in everyday, goes to the biology section, flips through some books and leaves. he has never bought anything or sat down to actually read. i'm getting scared," jungkook has been going on about this creepy man who visits the bookstore he works at for fifteen minutes now. yoongi is almost telling him to shut up, but then he looks at the other boy and immediately knows he helpless.

"maybe he has a crush on you," yoongi bets it's not a rare occurrence. "i don't think he's dangerous, though. wouldn't he be shuffling through serial killer biography books if that was the case?" 

"not really. jimin likes that stuff and he's jimin," jungkook is doodling tiny aliens on the borders of his paper. he has apparently given up on writing a draft for the essay yoongi knows it's due in two weeks. it's a normal occurrence: his friend will procrastinate on doing his work until there's barely any time left, until he's freaking out and calling yoongi to bring him a liter of his favorite energy drink, until they stay up all night locked in jungkook's room, in the middle of an array of sheet music and psychology books. the younger boy still manages to get good grades, while yoongi, despite of all his planning, feels like the tracks he spends hours and hours pouring his entire being into are getting him nowhere.

he hates jungkook sometimes. it's selfish of him but he can't help it. yoongi hates how he always manages to look on the bright side of things, as if he had a fucking lantern with infinite battery stuck on top of his head. he hates his smile, the one that tells yoongi everything is going to be alright, when, in fact, it isn't. he hates jungkook for making him feel the way he does. he barely: can determine where the fine line between hate and love is located. and he almost: wishes this line could be cut with scissors, making his feelings drip and bleed into each other like water paint.

"hyung," jungkook's voice rips him out of his daydream like cold water. "how are the tracks going? have you finished any of them?"

"they're just. going." yoongi sighs. he doesn't want to admit out loud that they're a complete disaster. he hopes - the small part of him that is still capable of doing such - that soon everything will be better. it's only a bad month week, he had them before. he got over them before. it's the same old thing; there's no reason to panic.

(he forgets to highlight that, no, they have never been this bad, and that, yes, maybe this turn is different. the last time he was blocked, there was still a hint of color adorning his cheeks. his mixtape was selling well and his grades were good. he didn't have to work part time jobs to be able to pay rent.

the last time, he still dubbed the warmth that took over his chest when he met doe eyes and bunny teeth as nothing more than a crush. looking back, he acknowledges he already was 98,5% in love. the first 90% came from leather jackets and too-sweet coffee. the remaining 1,5% would come from falling asleep at the same bed and waking up with his face pressed against jungkook's chest, only to realize he was completely, utterly fucked.)

"i just think i'm not getting the feeling i want them to have quite right," yoongi continues, looking up to face jungkook. wrong move.

"maybe it's because you're focusing too much on it," how can he not? "you look too tense, hyung. from all i know, you're most likely living off instant coffee and two-hour naps. sometimes it's better to let go and allow things to figure themselves out."

that's one of those times. when he wants to open up jungkook's skull and explore his memories, looking for what didn't happened in his childhood that made him so optimistic. when he wants to stand up and shout stop you believe too much you dream too high stop i don't want life to hurt you. he stays silent.

"but, maybe you could use somebody else's opinion? i can come over today if you want. you're going to the studio after class, right?" yoongi nods. "perfect. hoseok hyung is meeting with the wardrobe staff today, so he called off dance practice. i will stop by at 9 and bring food. does it sound good to you?"

yoongi has learned that, when it comes to jungkook, "no" is a word he has yet to add to his vocabulary.

 

-

 

jungkook does show up like he said he would. yoongi is working on a hook when the door of the university studio (his studio, he likes to call it. he spends more time at the recording room 205 than at home, anyway) opens and jungkook comes in, with a white shirt, chinese takeout and a smile.

“hey, hyung,” jungkook says, putting the food on the table and his backpack on the ground. “i got those noodles i know you like. the spicy ones,” he only mentioned liking them once, but jungkook remembers. it’s the little things, that bring promises to yoongi’s mind and make him question it all. 

“kook,” yoongi grins, as jungkook takes one of the small wooden seats they keep there and sits close to yoongi. “hi. so, do you want to listen to the stuff i have came up with? it’s kind of a mess, though.” 

"please, hyung," jungkook rolls his eyes. "that's what i came here for. and it can't be bad if you made it, you know that."

he really, truly doesn't.

yoongi is in his senior year of college. the semester has barely started but yoongi is already neck deep in the project his class has to hand in at the end of the school year. he guesses picking a concept and writing a mini album based on it shouldn’t be that hard. he was is good at making music, after all. it should be easy, natural, like knowing the way back home when you’ve never gone too far. effortless, as jungkook would say. 

(but a lot of things aren’t easy anymore. yoongi is reminded of it by the ugly stares unhappy customers give him, by the mismatched notes blurring into one another at dawn.)

yoongi has been producing music since he was thirteen and got a nice computer as a birthday gift. before that, he already knew the piano keys better than he knew himself. yoongi isn't a man of many talents, but music was innate for him. although his high standards never let him consider his abilities typical of a genius, making music was something that gave him some sort of self-pride.

he made his first mixtape when he was sixteen, frustrated about high school and parents and trivialities like every other teenager. he rapped about breaking systems and falling in love, even though he hadn’t learned the meaning of that word yet. the melodies were overflowing angry chords and heavy beats, products of the goose bumps he got whenever he saw a boy smile that just shouldn’t be there.

people liked his music. he didn’t expect it to happen when he uploaded it to the internet, but it did anyway. things proceeded to happen naturally after that. he applied for a music program and he got accepted. his parents - to his surprise - weren’t exactly unhappy about his choice. they helped him with rent and food during his freshman year, despite of the fact they still preferred their son to be a lawyer or a engineer. yoongi kept making mixtapes and gigs on the weekend; they would provide him financial stability if his parents decided not to help him anymore. 

then - of course there was a then - everything around him got too bad too fast. his father lost his job. rent got more expensive. college made him busier so that he rarely performed anymore. the endless inspiration that burned bright inside of him just. died. it wasn’t like he never saw it coming. he felt it dimming and flickering: it was never that difficult to get the words right before. he watched helplessly as it darkened, becoming nothing but a weakened gleam. yoongi wishes he had an excuse, like someone broke my heart or i already reached everything i had to reach. none of those were the case; his heart, though it might be damaged, is not fully shattered yet. and he still has so much to reach. he remembers clearly how all the words and ideas and stories to be shared bumped into each other inside his brain. he understands he has plenty to accomplish. he would like to have an alibi, but since he doesn’t, he tries his best to accept that it just happened, like an accident.

he persuaded himself into accepting that a part-time job was necessary, into believing he didn’t really need more than four hours of sleep. his days now consisted of waking up before the sun rises, working and attending his classes, meeting jungkook if they both had a free time on their schedule (if yoongi woke up lucky enough) and staying at the studio, partly producing a tune and writing lyrics his past-self wouldn’t want to call his, mostly staring at the computer screen until it is midnight and his eyes are sore. 

yoongi reckons it's because he's weak. he's fragile and spoiled and can't handle the pressure. a lot of people deal with doing too much and feeling like they're not enough, so why can't he? he's young, he should be able to manage a busy life and bad times without breaking down into despair like a nine year old child. his friends do it. jungkook does it.

jungkook - he works so hard. the younger boy is majoring in psychology (because he wants to help people help themselves, he told yoongi one night) with nothing but achievements and good grades. he works at a bookstore and tutors underclassmen to get his money. he goes to the gym, practices dance. he is part of the university's baseball team and just last month he started taking french classes and - he does too much. yoongi wonders how he handles such a timetable with a smile on his face and hope on his eyes. yoongi spends enough time around him to know jungkook focuses fundamentally on the future, bringing up new ideas and goals he wants to reach like clockwork. his heart is too big for his body and the nights are too short to cage all his dreams, so they often find their way into daytime in the shape of vacant eyes and inspired words. he wants everything he can have, you can tell it from the moment he opens his mouth to talk. jungkook wants the world and yoongi believes that if anyone has the capability to get it, it's him.

jungkook pours his heart into everything he does, so the aftermaths of his actions are always perfect (always is a strong word and so is perfect, but hyperboles are always appropriate when it comes to jungkook). yoongi knows he is some sort of a role-model to the other boy. he doesn't quite grasp how he can be an example to another person when he's still trying to mold himself into someone he considers adequate. however, there's no denying the visible admiration that took over jungkook's expression when yoongi showed him his music for the first time. that was two years ago. yoongi has lost his shine, lost whatever he had that made jungkook appreciate him.

right now, jungkook's eyes show the same expectation they always did whenever he was about to listen to something new. jungkook expects too much and yoongi cares more than he should. this is the reason why he is reluctant to start the song and consequently demolish the vision jungkook still holds of him (which is one of the few things that are keeping him together. jungkook's recognition is a lifejacket and he doesn't want to dismiss the safety checks that are stopping him from drowning).

yoongi presses play.

he knows that, in reality, the song is not half as bad as he thinks. it's not mediocre, yoongi can acknowledge that much. but it seems almost automatic. robotic. there is no feeling to it, no happiness or pain or fear. the standards yoongi had set for himself are high, and this fact certainly has an influence on how critical he is of what he produces, but this requirement is only there because he had the ability to reach it once (or almost reach it, at least). he could press some piano keys, scribble some words and the final product would still feel like an audio version of who he is. now, the beat coming out of the speakers is far too feeble, the words his recorded voice is rapping are shallow and meaningless, and yoongi can't bring himself to look at jungkook's face.

jungkook is familiar with yoongi's old music. he most likely notices the metamorphosis that perturbed his style. yoongi is not looking forward to dealing with disapproval (although he knows jungkook is not like that. he's too thoughtful and too kind for his own good) so he finds entertainment in a loose string of his sweater until the track ends.

it ends abruptly. it takes yoongi way too many seconds to gather enough courage to look up. jungkook is staring at him.

the silence seems to last forever.

“so,” yoongi breaks it. he focuses his vision on everything but jungkook. the cracks on the wall. the cd collection the students collectively put together. the bright light of the computer. “it’s awful, right?”

“what?” jungkook seems startled. the crack in his voice makes yoongi look up. “no! hyung, it’s not awful.” yoongi can sense the hesitation staining his voice. the holding something back. he thinks it would hurt less if jungkook just said it all at once, as if ripping out a band-aid. 

(but jungkook is not like that.)

“you can say it, kook. it’s not even the slightest similar to my other tracks. it’s shit.” yoongi says. his words come out bitter, veiled by a thin layer of self-hatred. he has an ugly quirk to expect from other people the feedback he gets from himself. angry. harsh. way too critical. he extends this expectation to jungkook as well. he wants to free himself from the pre-determined judgment his subconscious utilizes as a rope curling tight around his neck just once, just once, just once. but breaking bad habits is easier said than done.

"no! it's not shit. i mean, it's different. i can see why you seem so upset about it. it's different from what you usually do but it doesn't make it bad," jungkook is twisting the rings on his fingers. yoongi is still fiddling with the sleeve of his sweater. "don't worry, hyung. it's still a good song. send that frown away from your face."

"but-" yoongi sighs. rubs his hands over his eyes. he gets up and walks over to the sleazy sofa on the opposite side of the studio. the one that makes his back hurt when he sleeps there, too tired to walk back home. he sits on one end. jungkook follows him. he's looking at yoongi, waiting for him to continue.

"i feel like - like whatever i'm doing on that computer is not worth much. i don't want other people to see it. i should have just, fuck, i don't know. maybe it wouldn't be like this if i had chosen another concept? but it's too late now, the professor said we can't change it anymore and-" jungkook's hand on his back stops the brainstorm from rushing out of yoongi's lips.

"breathe, hyung," there's warm fingers rubbing his shoulders over his clothes. "you didn't tell me there was a concept before. what's yours?" 

"love," yoongi laughs. "it's love, jungkook. can you believe it? there is so much to talk about and i picked a boring, cliché conceit that half the class is probably doing. I thought it would be a lot more - a lot easier, you know?" jungkook nods, but doesn't say anything. he knows yoongi is not finished. "i was already having trouble coming up with new songs for a while, so i reasoned composing about such a banal subject would be the best to do? everyone writes love songs, it can't be that bad, right? but it is. it's like i'm trapped and i have no idea how the fuck to get out. maybe i'm not feeling enough," maybe he's feeling too much.

he wouldn't do it, he had thought before. tell jungkook about his problems. talk about the things that have been bothering him. it's not all (it's not even a third of it) but it's still something. jungkook doesn't need to know about everything anyway. yoongi figures he doesn't need other people's problems thrown in his direction like rocks (which is ironic, since jungkook is studying to be a psychologist. phrasing it better: he doesn't need yoongi's shallow, self-pitying troubles. especially when they're partially induced by the unnecessary feelings yoongi harbors for his best friend). but then again, letting a part of what has been pilling up inside his mind is somewhat cathartic. although there are still chains around his feet, they feel significantly lighter. he takes jungkook's tender stare and the steady pressure his hands apply on yoongi's neck as a sign to keep talking.

"it doesn't feel like me," his voice is small. "it doesn't mean anything. and it has to. what's the point if it doesn't? this is not about finishing university with an excellent mark on my last assignment. i used to - no, i love music. it's the most important thing for me. so, yeah. it's more than just school work that doesn't end the way I intended it to."

jungkook is quiet for a few minutes. while yoongi was lost between thought and speech, he moved closer. their knees are touching and there's scarcely any space between them.

"i can't say i get it, hyung. of course, i get the idea behind it. but it would be disrespectful of me to say i understand exactly what you're going through. i don't have a passion. a talent. there's loads of things i have an interest in, and there are some of them i can do well. but i wouldn't be torn if they were taken away. i’d be sad, really, but it would be more out of habit than anything else," jungkook has a talent, yoongi believes. he is talented at making people feel again. feel better. yoongi knows it, and he knows jungkook knows it. (but jungkook is humble. he doesn't boast about anything, though he could. jungkook is kind and he's not. like. that. 

"what you're dealing with - it's something you need to fix yourself. because nothing i say, or your professors say, or anyone, in that matter, says is going to help. so you just need to let it heal itself over time. it will get better, eventually, everything does. what you can't do is believe you'll never get out of this situation - that'll only push you deeper into it," jungkook's words are wise, despite his little age. that's one of many things that make yoongi question how does he do it.

"thanks, jungkook. i feel a lot better," he means it. yoongi doesn't feel completely cured, by any means. but now, there's is a bandage on his wound and, though it's thin, it'll keep the blood from escaping for a while.

"and as you said, yoongi. it's not about the project itself. so remember to don't stress about too much about it. the melody is good, your voice sounds nice and the lyrics - in my opinion you really captured the feeling of being in love, even though you aren't in love," lies lies lies. "you're good at what you do, hyung. you may feel like you're not, but you are. don't forget that."

yoongi stares at jungkook. he's so close he can count his eyelashes. see the mole under his lips. if they were in an alternative universe, they would kiss. it would be allowed. yoongi would cup jungkook's cheeks and press their mouths together. tangle his hands on the boy's hair and bite his lower lip. but this is not an alternative universe, so yoongi does what he is allowed. he buries his head in jungkook's chest and circles his arms around his thin waist. jungkook is startled and motionless at first. then, he wraps his arms around yoongi's torso. jungkook is warm and yoongi holds him tighter.

they stay like that for some time. it could have been minutes, it could have been hours. yoongi wouldn't be able to know. all his notions of time were replaced by jungkook's vanilla scent. it's his body wash, or maybe his shampoo; yoongi can't tell. it's sweet - too sweet, and in any other situation it would make yoongi want to retch. when jungkook is the source of that scent, though, yoongi's stomach turns for completely different reasons.

"you look like you haven't had a break in seventy five years, hyung," jungkook voices when they finally separate. "sleep at mine tonight. we can watch a movie, or those romcoms you like. try to forget about everything for the rest of the day. maybe it'll do you some good."

yoongi likes the idea. 

(there have been lots of liking lately, but at this particular moment they don't bother him as much as they usually do.)

while he is packing his things to leave the building, he takes one last glance at the computer. he hopes jungkook is right.

there is a street on the way to jungkook's house that has the narrowest sidewalk yoongi has ever seen. on an average day, he hates it. it's dangerous and odd and someone always slams into him when he walks through it. now, the street is empty except for the two of them. their shoulders bump and their hands brush from time to time. yoongi feels a warmth takes over his chest, but it's not the kind that makes him want to scream and rip his lungs open. it's rather pleasant.

(he manages to follow jungkook's advice: from the time they enter his flat till dawn, all the worries running wildly inside his head are replaced by his favorite episodes of friends and the quiet snores that make jungkook's body tremble ever so lightly when he sleeps.)

 

-

 

kook [7:23 p.m.] hey hyung is there any chance you're free rn? if yes can you help me with something?

yoongi hyung [7:25 p.m.] i have time until 10 and yes.

kook [7:25 p.m.] cool! are you home?

yoongi hyung [7:26 p.m.] i am.

kook [7:26 p.m.] i'll pick you up in five

 

“when you said you needed my help that was not what i had in mind.”

yoongi is standing in the middle of a room fully clad with mirrors, in front of a very handsome and very underdressed jungkook. 

“what did you think i was going to ask you? to elope and go live somewhere in the north pole?” jungkook jokes (it hurts a little). he sits on the ground and spreads his legs, beginning to do his stretching routine. his hands reach his feet, causing his body to bend in a way it shouldn’t be able to bend. fuck.

“that makes more sense, actually,” yoongi says, resting against the reflective wall. jungkook proceeds to doing a split. he leans backwards, torso arching. fuckfuckfuck. “i’m sure you’re aware that i know absolutely nothing about dance. i have zero experience. nothing. nada."

"everyone else who could help me with this is busy. hoseok is working, jimin is on a date, momo has a lecture and so it goes. but you're free. it must be destiny, you should know better than to ignore it," yoongi knows that jungkook has more friends who share his interest in dance than the ones he mentioned. knowing that he still called yoongi, chose yoongi, makes his request seem a little bit less dreadful. 

"you can't blame me if i mess up your whole performance with my exceptional judging skills," yoongi says, in part because he truly has no idea how to do this, but also because he's still hoping there's an way out of the whole watching jungkook moving sweating being beautiful thing. he hasn't seen jungkook dance in a long time, and from what he remembers, this particular situation was not kind with his heart.

“you know a lot about music. it’s the same, hyung. the only difference is that my instrument is my body instead of a piano or something like that,” jungkook gets up. he’s wearing a nearly transparent tank top and some ridiculously short shorts. the sight itself makes yoongi’s mouth go dry. he doesn’t even want to know what jungkook would look like doing hip thrusts. “i only need you to tell me if my moves are coordinated with the song. i usually can do this on my own, but this routine is really tricky. come on, it’s not that hard. just rhythm and shit. you’ve got a sharp eye,” jungkook goes over to where his phone is charging. he turns on the speakers before yoongi can say anything. yoongi rolls his eyes, defeated.

the track is one he has never heard before. an english song. he doesn't understand precisely what the lyrics are saying (his english skills are not the best), but he doesn't really need to. the vibe delivers the meaning on its own. it's a heavy, sensual song. jungkook's moves do it justice. the first steps are tame, almost shy, like something is being held back.

then the chorus comes.

yoongi can feel his cheeks heating up when jungkook moves his hips. he feels his breath hitch and his skin prickle. the boy's movements are controlled and sharp and powerful. his body slides along the melody, in perfect timing. it's clockwork. yoongi feels mesmerized. jungkook has said earlier that his body is the instrument, but yoongi disagrees. the song is not playing him, he is playing the song. he has the upper hand, craning his neck and twisting his arms, molding audio into vision. ethereal, yoongi decides.

yoongi's exterior stays frozen as jungkook finishes his dance number on the ground. his mind is frenzied when jungkook stands up and walks to his direction.

"so," his eyes are shining and his chest rises and falls quickly. yoongi presses his hands together. they're clammy. "what did you think?"

yoongi mulls over his question for a while (not that he has to, obviously. he already knows what he thinks. he just can't say it). "it's really - it's amazing, jungkook. you don't have to worry about not being in sync. everything is perfect from what i can see."

"thanks, hyung," jungkook is smiling. the pretty smile, the smile that makes his eyes small and his nose crunch. the smile that makes yoongi's heart cry a little. "i had recorded myself dancing about five times before, but it's not the same as having someone else judge you. it's easy for your mind to come up with mistakes that aren't even there, you know," yoongi knows it drastically well.

"yeah, but i can assure you my mind has no ability of doing such a thing. not when it comes to other people anyway," yoongi says while jungkook chugs down a bottle of cold water. his skin is glowing and his hair is messy and yoongi is weak. "but if i were you, i'd still go over things with someone from your dance crew. just to make sure," yoongi doesn't give this advice because of jungkook. he knows his performance is flawless. but something inside his head, the awful noise that doesn't let him sleep at night, tells him he shouldn't be trusted with anything. that his opinion can't be someone else's safety pin.

(although yoongi tries, and tries hard, he hasn't learned how to kill this particular sound yet.)

"there's no need. i trust you, hyung."

(the voice doesn't go away, by all means. but it gets significantly quieter.)

"so," jungkook voices as he leans against the mirror beside yoongi. "it's still half past eight," his head gestures to the big clock hanging on the wall. "do you want to hang out? maybe we could go grab something to eat. go to the playground. it's been a long time since we did it."

jungkook is right. there is a playground near jungkook's apartment they used to go to all the time when yoongi was a sophomore and jungkook a freshman. they would get there after sundown and spend time until they were barely awake or nearly bored. yoongi'd bring food: chips and soda and those gummy candies jungkook likes. jungkook'd talk about whatever the stars inspired him in that particular day. sometimes, when vodka was involved, he'd insist that the playground was actually haunted by lonely ghosts who didn't get enough love when they were kids. yoongi would laugh, but scoot closer to jungkook just to make sure.

(they eventually stopped with their impromptu playground antics. by the time yoongi's junior year was coming to an end, ghost banter and swings brought nothing but distant good memories to his mind.)

"you're right. i miss it," i miss you. "let's go and get some fried chicken to take," yoongi finishes, stepping away from the wall. as jungkook skips to where his bag is thrown on the ground, yoongi takes a look at himself on the mirror. he looks awful. his blond hair is dry and desperately in need of a salon appointment. his cheeks are sunken in and his eyes look dull. yoongi knows he's staring at all the results of the constant agony gnawing on his brain. his creative block - he reasoned it would be less horrible if he gave it a pretty name - is still perpetuating its presence in yoongi's days. the tactic he settled on to fight it was simply ignoring it until it had enough of his misery and went away; clearly his plan was not working.

“i’m ready,” jungkook’s voice jolts him. yoongi follows him through the way out of the dance studio.

the streets are windy. it’s the start of october, that awkward time of the year when it’s no longer hot enough to go out with a t-shirt only, but still not cold enough to take out the heavy coats that have been littering the back of your closet. yoongi wears a jacket and a jumper underneath it. he is always icy, even when the weather is still pleasant and the leaves are burning bright orange on the trees. jungkook hasn’t put anything over his tank top. maybe exercise really does warm you up. probably, jungkook is warm all on his own.

as they walk towards the fried chicken restaurant they both like, jungkook asks yoongi about the project. he answers that nothing has changed. they don’t talk about it the rest of the way. jungkook’s report on the new TA for his statistics class who is just so smart and so beautiful fills every last bit of silence.

(yoongi fights the green jealous monster that wants to make its presence known inside yoongi's heart. the better, rational side of him knows he's not entitled to be jealous. jungkook is not his property. but there's still the human, messy side that wants to tell that seokjin guy he can go fuck himself for all he cares.

yoongi doesn't like that side.)

they end up ordering enough food to feed five people because jungkook is starving, as he erroneously phrases it. they stop at the convenience store to get something to drink. they argue on who should pay it. yoongi gives up his pride and lets jungkook handle the bill ("come on, hyung, it's just beer, i have to treat you from time to time"). the cashier gives them a weird look, but neither of them comment on it.

when they get to the playground, it's luckily empty. it hasn't changed much, from what yoongi remembers. the swings are still old, the slide is still dusty and the cats still like to think of the little garden as a chemical toilet, from what it looks like. he and jungkook climb up the tree house (he can't remember if it's strong enough to support their weight) and settle the food on top of the sweater jungkook had in his bag. there's no weird noises. good.

"wow," jungkook says as he opens a bottle of beer. "look at the moon, yoongi. it looks so pretty today. a full moon. i wish i had a camera here to take a nice picture."

"i know you have over a hundred pictures of a full moon on your computer," yoongi voices as he opens the box of chicken. "i think it's becoming an obsession, kook."

"i just like to capture the beauty of things," is jungkook's explanation. yoongi takes a look at the sky. jungkook's right. the moon looks particularly good today. he doesn't know if it's the clear sky, or the nostalgia starting to creep up his body, but yoongi wants to take a picture of the moon too. although he's not a fan of photography like jungkook, it'd be nice to - 

click.

a strong light comes from his right. yoongi startles. that was definitely a camera noise. an digital one, like phones make, but still. he turns around to look at jungkook and is surprised when he sees the younger holding his phone to yoongi's face.

"jungkook," yoongi's voice is stern. he's not angry or anything, only confused. "did you just take a picture of me?"

"yes i did," jungkook answers, smiling. he shows his phone screen to yoongi. "look, hyung. you're a literal puppy," in the photo, yoongi is holding the bottle close to his lips, like he had just finished taking a swig from it. his eyes are droopy and - is that a pout? 

"may i know why you took a picture of me, looking very stupid?"

"you don't look stupid. you look sleepy. that's not a bad thing," jungkook takes a piece of chicken and fits it all in his mouth. once he's done with the whole chewing and swallowing process, he gives yoongi an answer. "and it's like i said, yoongi. i enjoy taking pictures of pretty things." 

yoongi's arm that is reaching for another beer halts. pretty? did jungkook just call him pretty? the hint of a smile starts to tug at the corner of his mouth. yoongi can feel the pink hue forming on his cheeks. he can't help but to be somewhat happy.

(it doesn't last much, though. it takes him a few seconds, but he remembers that jungkook is a natural flirt, and he probably says stuff like that to everyone. yoongi is not an exception. yoongi is a standard, and this recurring thought that appears at all the worst moments makes yoongi's hands tremble for all the wrong reasons.)

when he looks back up, jungkook is still staring at him. he's waiting for something. yoongi coughs.

"thanks, kook. you're not too bad yourself," jungkook smirks.

they finish eating in a comfortable silence. then, they take the remaining beers, the empty box and sauce packets and get back to the ground. jungkook takes the trash to a nearby trashcan and yoongi goes to the other side of the playground, sitting on one of the swings. they're big enough to fit him - small miracles. jungkook comes back and sits beside him. 

"hyung," jungkook's voice is chirpy. "are you free on sunday afternoon? i have a baseball game and after i'm going to go out with namjoon and some other friends. do you want to come watch me play? and then hang out? if you can, of course," jungkook stutters a bit at the end. yoongi doesn't really want to know why. it's likely nothing. maybe one of the pebbles jungkook is kicking was slightly too big and gave him a tiny scare. yoongi stills wishes, though, that jungkook seemed nervous because he truly wants yoongi to go (it's the side of him that is greedy and desperate and just wants to be wanted). 

"i have a clear schedule on sunday. i'll be there," yoongi replies. he doesn't have any shifts at the convenience store on sunday and he hasn't taken any other side job on that particular day - big miracles. he was planning on spending the entire day locked inside the studio, of course, but it can be postponed. he's not getting anything good out of it anyway.

"great! it's going to be fun, pretty much everyone's going. jimin, tae, hobi hyung, tzuyu, jihyo, everyone. we haven't been out together in ages," it's true. they used to go out a lot, before life, well. happened. yoongi misses his friends. he still meets up with them when possible, obviously. not as much as he sees jungkook, but that's because of reasons yoongi knows way too well. he doesn't think he has ever met tzuyu, though. it’s a triviality jungkook doesn't notice and yoongi doesn't mention. 

yoongi looks at his clock. 9:27 p.m. he has some time left - it's not enough time, yet it's better than nothing. he watches jungkook as he drinks his beer. it must be what? his fourth one? yoongi doesn't know. he stopped drinking after the second. he might have an high alcohol tolerance, but there's a five hour night shift at the convenience store waiting for him. the person who works at this time of the day is sick and yoongi could use the money. it doesn't bother him as much: not a lot of people visit after ten, so he can get some work done. write some lyrics. or random words on paper. same thing. 

the crickets and city noises are the only background sounds for some time. it makes yoongi starts dwelling.

(not that he needs a trigger or anything. he doesn't need to get bored. yoongi starts thinking, and thinking hard, all on his own in most occasions.)

(sometimes, he wishes a scientist would come up with a nano white noise machine that can be implanted on human brains. he hates white noise. maybe his thoughts would quit screaming at him if they had something else to shut up.) 

when it gets too much, yoongi breaks the pseudo-silence.

"how do you do it, kook?" yoongi's voice is barely louder than a whisper. 

"do what?" jungkook asks, eyes glued on the sky. yoongi looks upwards as well.

"how do you make it seem so easy? i mean - it's like you never stop. i just can't-" jungkook cuts him off before he can finish.

"do you know the stars, hyung?” yoongi looks at him for a few moments. then, he nods. "you see, some of them are not actually there. they have died millions of years ago, but we still see their light when it gets dark. it happens because they're so far from earth it takes forever for the light to get here. so, in the end, we don't take the actual stars into consideration, just the afterimage of them."

yoongi doesn’t say a word. jungkook takes his quietness as a cue to continue.

"it’s been a long time since they have blown up into infinite pieces, but the idea just lives on. so yeah, that’s what i do, i guess. keep traveling, like their light. even if what gave me the flight impulse is no longer there, there’s still a destination i have to reach," his words melt into each other. yoongi has to take some time to process them. he realizes he's more tired than he deemed he was (he knows he didn't drink that much).

"i still don't know what you mean."

"what i mean is that i try not to care so much about what it is, and choose to think of what it could be," yoongi steals a glance at jungkook. the moonlight makes his eyes seem shiny, almost like they're about to be flooded by tears. "i know how tired you are, hyung. i can see it in your eyes and hear it in your music. i'm tired too. but we have to keep moving on. we have to keep waking up early and working shitty jobs and maintaining a poor sleeping schedule. we have to believe that there's something better waiting for us down the road. it might sound silly to get your energy and motivation from a simple possibility, but that's what humans have been doing until now, right?"

yoongi looks down at his hands. he cracks his knuckles and muses about what jungkook just said. it's true. humans actually have been living off potential energy, he guesses. discovering things based on what ifs and curiosity. building the present based on the future. yoongi has never been a prospective kind of guy. he cared about the now, about what he could do to get bigger at that moment. a good future would come naturally after a good present, he reasoned.

then he hit a crossroad. he met the bad present. he has no idea how to withstand it and try to see the light shining from miles and miles in front of him.

(that night, when it's almost one a.m., when there's no one looking for ramen or condoms and the only bearable thing playing on tv is a show in which two men blow up things for scientific purposes, yoongi takes out his notebook from the front pocket of his backpack. he thinks about jungkook, about possibilities and chemicals explosions. he thinks about a lot, as he writes too fast and his handwriting gets messy.

he goes back home with a headache and the best lyrics he has written in a long time.)

 

-

 

1:34 a.m.

yoongi has a tab that reads thesaurus open on his phone. he alternates it with buzzfeed nonsensical personality tests.

 

1:38 a.m.

he can’t pick a word that rhymes with cosmic. they all sound dumb and add no meaning to what he is writing. he closes the thesaurus website and rests his head on the keyboard.

 

1:44 a.m.

yoongi has officially given up™. when he is scrolling down the buzzfeed homepage, he comes across an article on beautiful words. he clicks on the link.

 

2:13 a.m.

yoongi writes a mental review for his favorite ones:

 

 

aquiver (adj.)

quivering, trembling

it's in his hands when jungkook gets too close. it's in his heart when they hug. it takes over his mind when he walks home from the studio at ungodly hours, controls his torso and makes his stomach churn. it runs through his whole body when the nights are too cold, and he's thinking too much and just wants to be static.

 

mellifluous (adj.)

a sound that is sweet and smooth, pleasing to hear.

jungkook's voice is akin to the rain. sometimes, it is loud and it is bold and it is storm. his vocal chords tell yoongi about theories that will never be proven true, about worlds better than our own, about dreams and reveries and all sorts of things that make yoongi want to press a pillow into his ears until the heavy drops stop hitting his window. most times, it is soft and it is gentle and it is drizzle. his adam's apple will bob up and down as he discloses about his day, about the stray cat he saw on his way to work, about the same dreams and the same reveries that eventually manage to venture into yoongi's mind and whisper it's okay to simply believe. yoongi likes this voice better, he ponders; the one that is barely audible when it drops on the windshield as he falls asleep.

 

hiraeth (n)

a homesickness for a home you can't return to, or that never was.

(yoongi thinks the movie playing on the screen of his laptop is about aliens. or superheroes. maybe both. he hasn't been paying attention. jungkook and yoongi are laying down on the bed, shoulders touching. they're sharing a blanket. something blows up and pixels shake erratically. jungkook makes a tiny surprised noise and yoongi comes to the conclusion that there are two reasons why he's so aloof. 

  1. he misses his music. the old one. he misses staying awake after hours because he had so many ideas and sleeping would be a waste of time, instead of staying up so he would be able to tell the mirror the next morning that he tried. he misses it bad. he also knows that, as of now, it stands at the starting point of a labyrinth, but he's lost in the middle and left no trail to find his way back. 
  1. he misses jungkook. if that makes sense. he's here, on yoongi's bed, and there's almost no space between their bodies, but he's the furthest he's ever been. yoongi wonders if jungkook is staying the night. he hopes he is (he hopes he goes home). yoongi questions if it is possible to long for something you never had. he thinks about the 'could be' jungkook is so fond of and declares it is at least partially logical. he misses him, especially, because he doesn't have anything to miss.)

 

epiphany (n)

a moment of sudden revelation.

yoongi wouldn't diminish it to a single moment. it was a series of small mishaps, that make him think he should have noticed them before. text me when you get home, it's freezing out there so take my scarf and all the actions we often deem to be courtesy but speak louder than any confession do.

 

oblivion (n)

the state of being unaware of what is happening around you.

("yoongi. hyung. yoongi hyung," is what takes for yoongi to stop spacing out and face jungkook. although he's pretty sure he has been staring at the mole under jungkook's lips this whole time, he decides to trust his luck for once and suppose the other boy never noticed it.)

 

ephemeral (adj.)

lasting for a very short time.

this word describes the thoughts yoongi gets at dawn. the ones that are so brief sometimes he doesn't even notice them. the why do you keep trying, the you should just give up, the stop, you don't do anything right. they are blatant and in the split second they come to life, their power is enough to chew on yoongi's heart and drain the blood from his veins. for some reason yoongi has yet to figure out, they never get too far, fading quickly like blown candles.

 

-

  

if yoongi said sunday didn't take forever to come, he would be lying.

he didn't see jungkook for the rest of the week, but they talked through texts that were always answered three hours later. yoongi spent a fair amount of time locked up in the studio, where he barely managed to get something acceptable done. when he read over everything he wrote that week, it ended up being too abstract and also too personal to use in his project. he did want to find his connection with music again, but citing names wouldn't do it. the instrumental he came up with was useful, though.

on sunday, yoongi has lunch at the university cafeteria. he sits alone, observing other students. on a table next to him, a boy is feeding his girlfriend strawberries. she ends up licking his fingers the majority of time. gross. but if he couldn't find inspiration within himself to get the love concept nailed down, the outside world would have to do it. 

he goes back to his apartment and mindlessly watches variety shows until two. he is supposed to meet everyone at jimin's apartment - they would go to the uni stadium from there. jungkook had to meet up with the team earlier to run through game strategies or something similar. when the alarm he set on his phone rings, he gets changed, grabs his keys and leaves the flat.

he had never been to jimin's house before, so he checks the address they sent on the group chat once again. that has to be it. he rings the bell. a few moments later, the door flies open, revealing the pretty eyes and the pretty hair and the pretty girl standing behind it. joohyun.

"yoongi!" her voice is saccharine. just like how yoongi recalls it. "i haven't seen you in forever," she pulls yoongi in for a hug and he lets her, hugging her back.

joohyun and yoongi were really close, once. he met her when he first got into college. he was a freshman who believed he held the world in his hands and she was the gorgeous upperclassmen he chose to look up to. they started to talk: he asked for help with his classes and tips for dealing with grumpy teachers and she always gave him good advice. a year later, she graduated early and they lost any contact other than social media. he wonders why she's here - jungkook never met her in person. however, he's glad they have the chance to meet again.

he thinks he would have fallen for her, if he were into girls. somewhere in the multiverse, a random version of him who is straight assumably did. he wishes the feelings of his alternative self are corresponded. 

"hi, noona. i've missed you," he mumbles into her hair.

"i missed you too, yoongi. oh! you dyed your hair. it looks good on you," her smile is bright and familiar and it pours over him like deja vu. "come in, almost everyone is here already. we were just waiting for you and tzuyu, then we'll leave. she should be arriving soon."

yoongi follows her into the apartment. he sees jimin, hoseok and momo on the kitchen using the mixer. making some kind of dancer protein smoothie, he thinks. he wouldn't be able to tell. he greets them and moves on to the living room. there, he spots taehyung, jihyo, namjoon and seulgi sitting on the couch and reading chairs. he greets them as well and slumps in one of the empty spaces.

they fall into easy talk. yoongi is not so fond of chit-chat, but it is the most effortless way to warm up to friends you haven't seen in a while. once they're past topics about the weather and schoolwork, they find real (and useless) subjects to talk about. in the midst of a deep conversation about how it's impossible to calculate the number of chairs that exist in the world (courtesy of namjoon: "humans have houses. houses have tables. six chairs average. but there are restaurants. and houses that for some reason don't have tables. don't even get me started on furniture stores," and other nonsense around these lines), yoongi notices that joohyun goes over to seulgi and sits on her lap. the younger girl wraps her arms around joohyun's waist and kisses her cheek.

oh. seulgi is on jungkook's dance crew. so that's how joohyun ended up here. destiny, the bastard. yoongi notices he could afford to loosen up to fate a little.

"guys!" jimin's voice is loud. "we can go now. tzuyu is here," yoongi notices a girl standing beside hoseok. she's tall and looks like someone you only see in magazines. tzuyu, he supposes.

they leave jimin's apartment. while they walk to the stadium, the air is constantly filled with voices, all kinds of voices. low and tenor, like taehyung's. rushed and mellow, like jimin's. soft and gentle, like joohyun's. yoongi likes the noise. it's comfortable and silences his thoughts a little.

yoongi falls behind along with joohyun and seulgi. he doesn't know seulgi that well, but he knows of her. the sweet, hard-working girl who has a innate talent for dancing and helping others. the one everyone had a crush on at some point, even jungkook. those were strenuous three weeks, on yoongi's behalf. 

joohyun updates yoongi on how she's been doing. she works at a record label now, and teaches piano lessons for kids. yoongi doesn't tell her much about how he's doing. not that he minds - her life seems significantly more interesting. joohyun tells him about how she met seulgi at a party on march, how the neon lights shined so pretty on her joohyun knew exactly at that moment she was in love. from the blush that takes over seulgi's cheeks every time joohyun smiles at her, yoongi knows the feeling is equally mutual. 

(it makes him bitter to a degree, though he won't admit it. it leads him into to thinking that he wants love as well, he wants jungkook someone to look at him that way. he wants it so much and why can't he have it why why why.) 

when they get to where the game is going to be held, the place is already half full. people yoongi has never seen before wearing the university colors fill out the seats. they find an area that has enough chairs for them to sit together. yoongi ends up with joohyun on his left and namjoon on his right. jimin and momo announce they're going to buy some snacks, asking everyone what they want to eat. yoongi picks cotton candy. 

"have you ever been to one of jungkook's games, hyung?" namjoon asks. he almost misses it: the stadium is filling up fast and getting louder and louder.

"no, actually," yoongi says. "it's the first time i watch it."

"oh! i figured you had already," jungkook had asked him to go to his games before. he had wanted to go. jungkook got into the baseball team last year, around the same time yoongi started working part time jobs. every match before this one seemed to be on a saturday and saturday is a particularly busy day for yoongi, so he never made it. "you better prepare yourself, then. jungkook is a beast on the field. it's a life changing experience." yoongi knows namjoon has a fondness for exaggerating things. so, when he says it, yoongi guesses it's just one of his hyperboles.

and then the game starts.

when jungkook walks in with the rest of his team, yoongi's mouth goes dry. he looks good, hair mussed, holding his baseball bat. his uniform has stripes and it fits tight on his body. jungkook scams the crowd for a while. when his vision gets to where they're sitting, his eyes meet yoongi. jungkook smiles and yoongi's heart melts like the candy inside his mouth.

yoongi knows nothing about baseball, so he asks namjoon to give him an overall about how the sport works. after they're done, yoongi goes completely silent. his entire focus is on jungkook, on how good he looks facing the pitcher. he stays quiet until jungkook scores a home run. then, he stands up like the rest of his friends and cheers.

there are more points after that. jungkook is not the only good player; from what it looks like, his university has a strong baseball team. they end up winning the match. when the victory point is scored, jungkook takes off his cap and starts to run across the field, smiling and glowing and screaming.

it's the most beautiful thing yoongi has ever seen.

when the game is over and everyone in the audience is leaving, yoongi's phone rings.

 

kook [6:12 p.m.] hyung tell everyone i'm waiting outside, in front of the water fountain

 

yoongi lets jungkook's message be known. they take a while to leave the stadium, because taehyung just swears there's an easier way out than the one most people are going towards. it turns out there isn't. fifteen minutes later, after they turned the other way around from the empty locker room taehyung has lead them to, they finally manage to leave the building. jungkook is at the fountain, like he said he would be. he's wearing a varsity jacket, his bag thrown across his shoulder. his brows are furrowed as he stares at his phone screen, probably trying to beat his own high score in some game. when he sees them approaching, he puts the phone in his pocket and runs to their direction.

"hyung!" jungkook doesn't say his name, but yoongi knows he's talking to him. "you came," jungkook stops in front of him. from up close, he looks even better.

"i said i would, didn't i?" yoongi looks from jungkook's lips (sometimes he wonders how he hasn't been exposed yet) to his eyes, which are big and pretty. he forgets there's other people around them. their friends, who became silent and resorted to stare at the both of them with curiosity printed on their faces.

"jungkookie!" jimin is the one who bursts the bubble yoongi and jungkook were trapped in. "have you forgotten about your jimin hyung?"

"hello, jimin hyung," jungkook says, rolling his eyes as jimin wraps him in a headlock. "hi, guys," he greets everyone else.

"you were so good out there!" taehyung chimes in. his words incite a storm of compliments to fall over jungkook. when yoongi takes part and says jungkook played really well, that he could tell he was a good player even with his limited knowledge of baseball, jungkook smiles wider.

they go to a italian restaurant. to celebrate, as hoseok says, but yoongi knows they would have gone there as well had jungkook's team lost the match. it's still nice, though, to think of it as a celebration. makes the food taste better and the people look happier.

yoongi sits beside jungkook, who orders for both of them. the plate of pasta that comes for each is big and hot and bright red. jungkook pours a glass of wine for him and yoongi, who has never actually liked the taste of it but drinks it anyway. celebration, he remembers.

"and then she said her friend told her that i was the one who asked for her number, when clearly that wasn't what happened. but she was cute, so we're going on another date next week," jimin is talking about the girl he went on a date with, about her shiny eyes and her creepy friend who pretty much stalked him in order to give him the girl's number.

yoongi feels good. he feels nice, even. he muses that going out with friends is one of those things you don't realize how much you miss until you get it back. he watches everyone's smiles. watches seulgi and joohyun impersonating the spaghetti scene form the lady and the tramp (which, originally, is supposed to be gross. yoongi doesn't like cheesy and corny but seeing his friend so happy compensates it for him), taehyung and namjoon immersed in deep discussion on whether noodles are chinese or italian, the lovesick glances jihyo and tzuyu are stealing from each other. he watches how neither of them seem to be aware of it.

"hyung," jungkook says. his cheeks are burning bright pink from the alcohol and he looks alluring under the yellow light of the restaurant. "you look happy."

"i am. i really am," yoongi grins. he doesn't know if he's starting to lose any sense of space perception or if jungkook is actually getting closer and leaning in and -

"guys!" hoseok suddenly stands up, hitting his open hands on the table. "you fuckers haven't forgotten about the halloween party, right? because jimin and i are putting a lot of effort for it to be perfect and i hope, for your sake, that you all manage to show up. thank you," he goes back to his seat.

"halloween party?" yoongi asks, to no one in particular. he seems to be the only person on the table who doesn't know about it.

"yes, hyung, i was about to tell about that," jungkook says. "hobi hyung is hosting a party. on halloween night. he's telling everyone about it in advance so no one misses it, which is kind of inevitable but. you're invited too, obviously. do you think you can make it?"

yoongi thinks for a second. he doesn't recall having anything in particular scheduled on halloween. he has work, a morning shift. and afternoon classes. studio sessions but that can be arranged. other than that, there's no reason for him not to go.

"i can. i can go," yoongi answers.

"great!" jungkook says, grabbing a piece of bread from the tiny basket and dipping it on the remaining sauce on his plate. "it's a costume party, of course, so you might want to start thinking what your costume is going to be."

"costumes? do we have to?" yoongi doesn't want to be a party killer but the idea of wearing a costume doesn't stick well with him. he hasn't worn one since middle school.

"well, not exactly. though it would be way more fun if we all wore one. i'm going to," he notices the uneasy look on yoongi's face. "let's do it do, hyung. we can even get matching costumes. please. for me."

yoongi looks away from jungkook's persuasive expression and pours himself another glass of wine.

 

 

yoongi has yet to learn how to deny anything jungkook asks him. 

that’s how he ends up, a week later, browsing through costume stores with the younger in tow. no matching costumes, though. they agreed on that once there was no more booze blurring their thought process.

 

-

 

there are some points in yoongi and jungkook’s relationship that are more important than the others. milestones, whatever one may call it. like when they went from strangers to friends or when yoongi finally came to terms that the turmoil disrupting the bottom of his heart every time jungkook smiled was not undiagnosed arrhythmia.

 

september 19th 2015

 

yoongi stares at the contact information that has been recently added to his phone. jungkook, it says. 

the worn out leather clings to his flannel shirt. if he zips it up till the top, the brownish stain that decorates the front of his clothes will pretty much be unnoticeable (he doesn’t really care about his dirty garments, though).

the clock on the studio wall reads 5 p.m. he figures the boy who was kind enough to give him his leather jacket that morning shouldn’t be too busy by now.

(he is a freshman, yoongi assumes. he must be, judging by the nonchalant expression he was wearing so soon in the morning, giving in the aura of someone who has barely started university. 

he’s most likely a freshman: yoongi didn’t have a tight-knit schedule during his first few weeks of college, so he guesses, based on the entirety of jungkook’s demeanor, that the other boy doesn’t as well.)

yoongi’s mom had taught him from a very young age that he should always be nice to people who are nice to him. so, with the intention to return the jacket and at least buy a replacement for the coffee that is now cold and crusty on the front of his shirt, he presses the contact name and makes the call.

 

september 29th 2015

 

yoongi doesn’t know exactly how it happens, but getting coffee with jungkook becomes an almost fixed task on his daily to-do list. on the first time they get together at a café, after yoongi returns the jacket and buys jungkook a steaming caramel macchiato (dealing with some protest from jungkook’s part), they start to talk.

yoongi finds out that jungkook is, indeed, a freshman. psychology major. he asks yoongi about uni life, and even though they have different majors, yoongi is able to answer most of his questions.

they normally meet up in the late afternoons, when jungkook is done with his classes and yoongi is in dire need of a break before he heads to the studio, but on a particular day, the two of them find themselves drinking americanos at 11 p.m.

after the coffee shop they usually visit closes for the night, jungkook takes yoongi to this weird looking playground. they drink a lot of soju, talk about their similar taste in music and, well. the rest is history.

 

april 2nd 2016

 

over the past week, jungkook has acquired a new denim jacket, a year worth supply of instant coffee and a crush. yoongi spends two hours hearing about how seulgi is so pretty and so talented and, though he's ashamed to admit it, he fights the urge to rip out the straws from their drinks and stick them in his ears.

during the time they spend at the library hunched over their books (but they don't study. unless the detailed description of the way seulgi's shiny hair bounces when she dances is considered studying), yoongi comes to the realization that this is the first time jungkook talks about someone that way. his first puppy love since the time he and yoongi have met (maybe not the only crush he has during this time, but the first one he deems important enough to let other people know about them). yoongi doesn't know what to do with the obnoxious feeling he gets every time jungkook mentions seulgi's name. it's not like he hates her (he doesn't even know her). but he hates what she represents.

it's only a month later, when jungkook has gathered enough courage to ask her out just to be turned down with a i think it's better if we're just friends, that yoongi can finally sleep well again.

 

october 7th 2016

 

yoongi sighs as he checks the chips and candy packages on the cashier machine. his eyes feel heavy and he wonders what someone could possibly do with so much junk food. he glances at the angry frown that takes over the customer’s face and comes to the conclusion he doesn’t want to know.

the tv is displaying a video of an idol group performing a song that he actually really likes, but he can’t focus on the pretty girls dancing up on stage.

the phone call he had with his mom a few weeks ago keeps replaying in his mind.

(“yoongi, honey. your father lost his job. we can’t keep sending you money anymore.”)

it’s not that he hates the idea of having a job. he has noticed he doesn’t enjoy working at a convenience store during the little time he has been working in one, but it’s not the worst thing ever. yoongi has been lucky by now. he had a family who sent him cash every month so he could focus on college, he had the support a lot of students never had. 

(so. he should be grateful that he didn’t need to get a job until his junior year. he doesn’t want to be the one who harbors a deep distaste for something that almost everyone does with no major complaints. but the dull, tired pain that has settled in the back of his eyes and the fact that his studio hours don’t feel as productive anymore makes him admit to himself that, yes, he hates it a little bit.)

when there’s only fifteen minutes left till his shift ends, the bell attached to the door of the establishment rings. yoongi is surprised when he looks up and sees it’s jungkook instead of just a regular costumer.

“hey, hyung!” jungkook says. “i just finished my shift at the bookstore and i thought i’d bring you something. you looked kind of down earlier,” yoongi notices that jungkook is holding a paper cup. he hands it to yoongi. the beverage warms his cold hands.

“oh. thanks, kook. you didn’t have to,” yoongi says, sipping the drink. it’s coffee. dark roast, yoongi’s favorite.

“i wanted to.” jungkook shakes his head and smiles.

and in that moment, when he grasps that such a casual thing can mean that much and make his day ten times better, yoongi realizes he can’t keep denying the things that have been bubbling up inside of him anymore.

 

-

  

unlike jungkook's baseball game, halloween comes around faster than yoongi expected it to. maybe it's his time perception that has changed. the hours tend to go by faster when you're happy.

(he wouldn't say he is happy. but he's technically not miserable anymore. over the past weeks, he has been seeing jungkook and his other friends a lot more. he got a raise on his job, which is unusual but welcome. he's been spending less time on the studio since he has become way more productive. consequently, he's getting more hours of sleep. last friday, yoongi has managed to finish two songs that don't make him want to rip his eyes out.

he's not happy but he's getting somewhere.)

when his last class finishes, he goes straight home to get changed. he has some time until eight, but he assumes perfecting his look will be a bit difficult, considering his excellent make up skills. 

after he showers, gets dressed and spends nearly two hours living under the constant danger of poking himself on the eye with an eyeshadow brush, yoongi is finally ready. he gets his phone, his keys and leaves the house.

he doesn't get any weird looks from passersby. a good part of the people on the streets are either dressed up as well and on their way to some party, or simply too preoccupied with their own lives to care about how someone chooses to dress. good for them, yoongi thinks.

twenty minutes later, he arrives at hoseok's apartment. yoongi can already see it's much bigger and more expensive than his own. he tells the doorman he's there for hoseok's party and the man lets him in, no more questions asked. great apartment, doubtful security. when he gets to hoseok's door, yoongi texts the group chat since there's no way anyone will hear the doorbell with all the noise coming from inside.

"i don't know if i'm supposed to cry over how cute you are or run off to look for someplace to hide because you actually look scary," taehyung says. it's the first thing he hears when the door of hoseok's flat opens. taehyung stands in front of yoongi, leaning on the wall. he's dressed as the joker, the red lipstick on his lips accentuating his smirk. taehyung takes a step backwards for yoongi to come in.

"uh, thanks? i guess. your costume looks good too. very accurate," yoongi says as he follows taehyung through the small crowd of people that appears to be forming, though the party has barely started.

"i know. i put a lot of thought into it. i personally find that this outfit makes me slightly hotter than i already am. i'm glad to hear you agree with me, hyung."

yoongi smiles, choosing to ignore taehyung's commentary. it's true, after all. he takes a look around: the house is meticulously adorned with halloween miscellaneous, from the themed snacks on top of the table to the fake spider webs that hang on every corner of the ceiling.

"jungkook and the others were in hyung's room last time i checked," taehyung says once they get to the living room. there's people, some that yoongi has never met, sitting on every surface available, treating human laps as makeshift chairs. "they're playing truth or dare or something - not that important. everyone's still pretty sober so these games are no fun at the moment. you can meet them there, or chill in here if you want. i have to stay here for the people that are still arriving. there's no need for that, but you know how hoseok is," yoongi nods at his words. taehyung goes away into the kitchen and he is left alone.

it takes a few minutes, but yoongi is able to find hoseok's room (after he opens the bathroom door and accidentally is met with too much noise, too much skin, and an image imprinted on the back of his eyes that he certainly could live without). when he opens the door, he sees some of his friends sitting in a circle. there's a bottle in the middle. 

when jungkook looks up and sees yoongi, he stands up and walks to him, almost tripping over a dancing jimin, who's in the middle of doing really inappropriate moves to the floor. 

"yoongi!" jungkook says. he's a police officer for tonight. predictable, yoongi would say, but he lets it pass since jungkook's costume fits him well. too well. his pants are tight, his shirt shows his toned body, leaving little to imagination. there's a golden badge on his chest and fucking handcuffs hanging from his belt. his hair is slightly more put together than usual. he looks almost professional. it shouldn't make yoongi feel the things he's feeling but it does. he bets everyone in the room has the same problem. "you're early!"

"hi, kook. are you by any chance implying that i'm usually late?" yoongi jokes, trying his best to keep his gaze away from jungkook's lips (they're more pink than usual. don't blame him).

"no! no, it's just. i figured you would take a longer time to get ready. because of the make up and stuff," jungkook gestures to yoongi's face. "which, by the way, looks really good. i told you this would be perfect for you," there's a pause. jungkook's brows furrow. "wait, is your hair color lighter?" 

"uh, yeah. i bleached it again yesterday," yoongi figured it wouldn't cost him anything. it would complement the whole look. yoongi was reassured of that when he looked at himself on the mirror one last time before leaving. he is dressed in all white, shirt and pants ripped at the ends. his eyeshadow is dark, strong and smudged around his eyes. a layer of translucent foundation and dark red lip tint finish it off. when jungkook first brought up the idea of yoongi dressing as a ghost, he hated it. he thought he would look stupid and plain and overall boring. but he was wrong, it seems.

"it looks nice. you look nice. but i already told you that," jungkook says. it seems to yoongi that, lately, there has been a lot more of compliments and awkward flirting and mixed signs.

(he tries to look at it optimistically, but at the end of the day he still can't afford to be optimistic. he can't look at stuff that is there but is not completely there and be totally satisfied. he can't live off maybes or whatever it is that jungkook does. he needs proof and he needs something concrete to rely on.

yoongi is not afraid of love nor he is afraid of being loved. he's afraid of loving too much and not receiving this love back in the same intensity.

he's afraid of giving more than he should and ultimately being left with nothing at all.)

"jungkook! yoongi! come play with us," jihyo extends the last s and that is enough to bring yoongi's attention back to the real world.

"no, thanks. i'm tired of seeing your failed attempts to get a kiss from tzuyu. just ask her already!" jungkook says and yoongi watches as jihyo's cheeks turn bright red.

"come, hyung. let's get something to drink," yoongi doesn't know it yet but this moment is the telltale of disaster. the catalyst of every other event that would come after. but he doesn't know it yet, so he just follows jungkook, holding his belt loop with the excuse that they would drift apart if yoongi doesn't (which is not true. the number of people in the hallways is constantly increasing but it's not abnormal. yoongi wants a way to be closer, so he takes what he can get).

as soon as they enter the kitchen, jungkook grabs two paper cups and creates a colorful concoction. yoongi swears he mixes three types of alcoholic drinks, and it can't be harmless but there's blueberries and lime and yoongi honestly doesn't care. it ends up a pretty blue and it's sweet. he couldn't ask for more.

they stay in the kitchen drinking as the minutes pass. joohyun and seulgi arrive and go talk to them. seulgi is dressed as little red riding hood. joohyun wears a pretty black dress and fluffy ears on top of her head. yoongi assumes she's a wolf. cute.

the girls go away after sometime, which leaves yoongi alone with jungkook, some people he doesn't know and the decreasing amount of vodka inside the bottle. his vision is blurry, getting blurrier by the minute. jungkook is pretty, getting prettier by the second. he should have stopped there. no more than three fruit flavored drinks and catastrophe would most likely be avoided. but, of course, this yoongi perched on top of the kitchen counter, who's paying close attention to all of jungkook's dumb jokes, doesn't know it yet. so he downs another shot of tequila while wishing he had someone to lick salt off.

"yoongi. my dear yoongi hyung," jungkook stutters. "did you know. that. i'm going to be an astronaut someday?" jungkook looks serious for a second, then he laughs loud and high pitched. yoongi follows suit. "why are you laughing?"

"i'm laughing because you're laughing!"

"but i mean it!" one of jungkook's hands finds its way to yoongi's thigh. he squeezes it. yoongi's laughter comes to a halt for a moment. "i'm going to wear one of those really awesome space clothes. when i get off the spaceship and land my feet on the moon i won't even walk. i'll fucking run."

"yeah, you just have to overcome the moon's gravitational field first," yoongi says. jungkook's fingers continue to knead yoongi's leg. he doesn't seem to be aware of what he's doing.

"hyung. anything is possible until proven otherwise. and even then there has to be some way to breach the rules," jungkook gets closer. he stands practically between yoongi's legs; both of his hands rest on yoongi's body now. "and then i'll go to mars as well. try to find life in there or some shit. you can come with me. you should come with me, earth is becoming a horrible place."

"i know it is. i'd run away with you any day," yoongi replies. here's the problem: yoongi is quite drunk, but he's not nearly drunk enough to withstand jungkook's hot breath hitting his face every time he says a word. he grabs the bottle on his left and drinks straight from it as jungkook keeps rambling about aliens and interstellar trips.

if someone asked yoongi how he would describe being in love at any other moment, he would say it feels like gulping down a very delicious, yet very scorching cup of unsweetened coffee. yoongi appreciates coffee. he likes to have a mug filled with it first thing in the morning to prepare him for his day. he likes coffee, and he likes it hot, but burning the skin of your throat when you could simply enjoy it is not a pleasant experience.

that’s what love feels like to him: something that helps you go on with your day but usually ends up hurting you and making you gag. it keeps you up all night if you have too much. the reason why he has this opinion is not because he believes love can't feel gentle and lukewarm. he knows some people are lucky enough to find this kind of love.

but coffee has never been anything other than painful and bitter to yoongi. he is so eager to have it he always forgets to add sugar and let it cool down for a bit, which forces him to deal with a numb tongue for the rest of the day. with love is all the same: he knows the potential for it to be something sweet and good is there. yoongi just wants to taste it so bad he forgets to wait and prepare it correctly.

right now, though, as he watches jungkook talk from where he’s sitting on the kitchen counter, love feels more like a vanilla frappuccino. saccharine and delicious and if he drinks it everyday he’ll probably end up with some extra pounds and annoying breakouts on his skin. he can’t say he gives a fuck. he just wants to find out if the chantilly on top taste as good on his tongue as it looks.

"hyung," jungkook's lips are almost touching his ear. "let's dance."

"what? no, you know I don't dance," yoongi says, but jungkook has already managed to get him off the counter and is pulling yoongi by the hand to the middle of the living room, where, well. no one is dancing.

"everyone dances, yoongi," jungkook says as he comes to a halt. he turns around and put both hands around yoongi's waist.

"i don't see anyone dancing now," yoongi replies. jungkook doesn't seem to mind being the center of attention, though, because he keeps moving his body and pushing yoongi to do the same. it's weird. they're slow dancing to fucking do re mi. yoongi doesn't know if it's the alcohol induced adrenaline running through his veins, or if is the way jungkook is muttering the lyrics with both eyes closes, but by the time the chorus comes, he has his hands wrapped around jungkook's neck. they're trembling. 

"the people are just waiting for a kick starter," jungkook says. he turns out to be right, because three songs later there's a considerable number of bodies on the improvised dance floor. girls in short clothes, dressed as sexy you name it, boys in all kinds of uniforms, each one of them smiling and having fun.

"weren't you the one who said he can't dance?" jungkook asks. his voice hits yoongi's nape. jungkook is pressed against yoongi's back now, the slow dancing completely left behind. their hips move according to the beat of the song that's playing.

(yoongi would say, if the two people almost grinding in the middle of the living room weren't he and jungkook, that this is classified as flirting. fuck, it is definitely classified as flirting, whatever it is they're doing. but yoongi doesn't allow himself to think of it like that. they're just friends and they're just drunk. there is a lot of justs that can be applied to their situation and each one of them reinforces the conviction yoongi has that none of this, in fact, really means anything.) 

"and i can't," yoongi says. he feels the music going through his whole body, feels the bass making its way from his eardrums to his stomach. he's nauseous, but it's the good kind. the kind of nauseous you are when you see a beautiful person, when you feel someone else's hands running through your body.

"keep lying to yourself then," yoongi's foggy mind is able to catch the sly jab thrown his way. he's aware that's not what jungkook meant, he truly is. but it's hard to ignore such a statement when all he does is, as a matter of fact, deceive himself.

they stop dancing a few minutes later, when jimin trips on the stereo cable, shutting it off. for some reason, it won't turn on again. while namjoon and tzuyu are crouched over the machine, trying to fix it, they sit on the couch: yoongi is on jungkook's lap (but that's solely because there's nowhere else to sit, yoongi muses). taehyung is on their right, trying to decide what is the worst way to die in a horror movie. hoseok is screaming at jimin, about how he's gonna burn the house down someday. jimin ignores him and keeps dancing with momo.

there is another cup on his hands; he doesn't know how it got there. jungkook is nursing a drink as well, something sweet. yoongi can tell it is when jungkook leans in and asks:

"hyung," jungkook's voice is low and husky. "let's get out of here."

 

half and hour later, as jungkook is hovered over the table stuffing his face with french fries, yoongi chides himself for the thoughts that flashed his mind when jungkook made the invitation to leave.

jungkook was just hungry for fast food, it turns out. that's why they're the only ones sitting at a cheap diner at two a.m.

"these are the best fries i've ever eaten like. ever. in my whole life. don't you agree, hyung?" jungkook asks. yoongi doesn't agree. the ones they're eating now are too oily and they're not fried properly. yoongi bets he can make better french fries and he's shit at cooking. jungkook seems to be adamant on their good quality, though, so yoongi just nods. 

"i wonder who started eating french fries with ketchup. do you like it that way, hyung? i mean, it's like reading your horoscope every morning. it's nice and all, but you can live without it," jungkook says. yoongi knows jungkook believes in astrology, even if he'd deny if someone asked him. he lost count of how many times the other has talked about astral charts and planet positions and other things yoongi doesn't care about entirely (though they're slightly more interesting when jungkook is the one handing out facts about them), but yoongi doesn't comment on it.

"yeah, kook. ketchup is fine." 

"what about mustard?"

"never tried."

"mayonnaise?"

"gross," yoongi is grinning. jungkook laughs as well and pushes another handful of unhealthy food into his mouth. when there's nothing on the little basket but a greasy napkin, they pay the bill and leave.

"let's go back to the party?" yoongi asks once they're out of the establishment, the cold air of autumn hitting his face. "they probably fixed the stereo by now."

jungkook is quiet for a few seconds. he runs his fingers through the brick wall and plays with the handcuffs attached to his belt.

"i was thinking we could go somewhere else. there's probably not much happening at the party anyway," yoongi is surprised by jungkook's answer. the younger boy usually stays at parties till the sun is up and everyone else has already left.

"uh, okay. where do you want to go?"

"the playground. let's go, hyung, maybe we'll find some of your ghost friends," after finishing his sentence, jungkook sprints down the street. yoongi runs after him.

the playground is not too far from where they were but it is still a long walk for yoongi and his short legs to follow jungkook's fast pace comfortably, so he ends up with a heaving chest and red cheeks.

twenty minutes later, they're sitting on the swings. placed on the ground in front of them is the six-pack jungkook insisted on picking up at the convenience store.

after two bottles of beer, jungkook is telling him about time travel and paradoxes.

"but you see, yoongi," jungkook says the moment glass leaves his lips. "there's a big fire. huge. killed a lot of people and everything. and no one really knows what caused it. so this guy decides to travel back in time. it's up to you how he does it. but he goes back and is able to find out why the fire started. he discovers whatever it is he needs to do to prevent it. what do you think he does?"

"he stops the fire from happening? it's kind of obvious."

"i don't know, he could be a pyromaniac or something. but yeah, let's go with the most plausible option. he stops the fire. no smoke, no ashes. everyone is saved. now, here's the thing: if he stopped the fire, then it never happened. if it never happened, he wouldn't need to go back in time to prevent it. my mind," jungkook pauses, shaking his head so hard he almost hits it on the metal that's holding the swing's bench. "is blown."

"our whole existence is a lie," yoongi says. he stands up to toss his finished beer away. jungkook follows him, leaning on the wall next to the trash can. yoongi goes to stand beside him. 

he notices, then, how different he and jungkook really are. yoongi prefers to believe in what has material, literal proof. and all jungkook has been talking about all night are conspiracy theories and dreams and what ifs. it's not that he thinks being a dreamer is a bad thing; he just envies them. he's jealous of how jungkook can look into the future and see meticulously threaded ropes of plans and things he's working on to achieve in a long time from the present. all yoongi has when he thinks about how his life is going to be is a question mark, that increases in size after long nights spent staring at a pixelated screen. yoongi has learned that dreaming is not for him. he has to focus on what he can achieve for now, because good things and great possibilities tend to slip out from his reach like butterflies.

yoongi thinks too much. he thinks too much and he thinks too deep, but jungkook's voice seems to rip him off his merciless brain every time.

"hey, yoongi! check this out," yoongi looks at the direction the sound came from. jungkook's leaning against the wall, legs folded as if he's sitting on air. his arms are up and open. "tell me the truth: do you think i look like a spider doing this? well, a human spider," jungkook's hands make a grabby motion. when yoongi doesn't reply, he stands up straight. "okay. I respect your opinion. i still think i looked like a super realistic spider. but I couldn't exactly see myself, so maybe i looked more like a crab?" yoongi laughs. he doesn't think jungkook realizes his words are not making any sense.

"you're wasted, kook. i think it's time for me to take you home," yoongi steps forward, planning on putting his words into actions and guide them to jungkook's apartment safely. before he can get a foot worth of distance between his back and the wall, jungkook's arms cage him in.

"i think it's time for you to kiss me," jungkook's voice is low. he gets closer and yoongi's back hits cement. he doesn't understand what jungkook said, not instantly. he hears the words, each one of them, yet he dances around the possibility that his subconscious is only messing with his poor, pining self. he can't see jungkook's eyes clearly, but he feels them boring into his lips, dark and dangerous.

"what?" he can't say much more. especially when jungkook's hands travel to his waist, pulling yoongi towards his own body.

"kiss me, hyung," there's wet lips on his cheek. one of jungkook's hands goes to rest on his hips and yoongi wraps his fingers around jungkook's neck instinctively. as the sane, careful side of his mind tells him loudly to stop this isn't how it's supposed to go he's fucking hammered stop, the other part, the mundane part that gets lonely and just wants to feel something, whispers for him to given in. they battle over who can shut the other one up first. yoongi's stomach gets queasy when mutter starts to feel louder than screams. 

"no. no, kook. you don't want this and you're drunk-"

"you're drunk too!" jungkook moves back a bit to face yoongi. he looks stubborn. angry, like a child who just found out they no longer have their favorite cereal. "and i want this, hyung. i want you, please."

"you want me now," now is not enough for yoongi. maybe it is when it's about everything else but not when it comes to jungkook.

"i want you - i have wanted you for a long time. come here," jungkook dives in for yoongi's mouth, but he is quick enough to dodge the kiss. this reaction doesn't seem to please jungkook, since the younger grips tight onto yoongi's hips with one hand and tugs at the corner of yoongi's mouth with the other. he presses their foreheads together.

"jungkook. no," jungkook's breath is warm on his face. the temperature is rising, both figuratively and literally. yoongi has difficulty even when trying to think at this point.

"then will you kiss me tomorrow? if you can't today, then promise me you'll kiss me tomorrow. promise."

"i do. i promise, kook, now let's go," yoongi says. jungkook is doing this because he's plastered, right? he's simply drunk and horny and yoongi knows how cuddly he gets when he needs to sleep. jungkook won't want to kiss him when there's no significant percentage of alcohol in his veins. he won't. yoongi won't even have to break his promise. jungkook will break it himself.

the younger boy has seemingly forgotten about his proposition, because his hands are still holding yoongi's hips and his mouth is still chasing after yoongi's.

yoongi tries to keep jungkook's teeth away from his own. away from his neck. as much as he would like to kiss him, he doesn't want it to be like this. tired. dirty. drunk. yoongi is not sober himself, but he doesn't want to feel like he's taking advantage of jungkook. if they do kiss, he might wake up tomorrow and regret, he might never want to see yoongi again, he might -

"hyung. hyung," jungkook's hand is cold when he cups yoongi's face. "look at me. i want you. i - i want you so much right now. don't you want me too? just kiss - just kiss me, yoongi. please. please, kiss me. i'll do anything."

yoongi doesn't want it to be like this. he doesn't. but jungkook looks pretty under the moonlight. under his thumb. yoongi wants to kiss him and he can think of a million reasons not to; ultimately, he chooses to ignore them all. 

jungkook's lips taste like rum and strawberries.

it all goes downhill from there. the walk to jungkook's apartment is disoriented and they take an extra fifteen minutes because they need to stop at every vacant corner to kiss. when they finally get there, they run up the stairs since the elevator takes too long to arrive.

yoongi's mind, though hazy, is able to capture every single one of the small moments that build up to the to a bigger moment. he mentally labels each scene with a hurried handwriting, hanging them up on the corners of his heart like polaroids. he memorizes scents and senses, touches and images he doesn't want to forget.

like yoongi kissing jungkook's neck as he fumbles with his keys and opens the door.

or jungkook grabbing yoongi by the back of his thighs and carrying him to his room.

also, yoongi being dropped on a messy, unmade bed. everything around him smells like vanilla and liquor and boy.

that night, under the moonlight coming through the spaces of jungkook's curtains, under the euphoria of walking into unknown territory, under blankets and dimmed lights, they are stripped off their clothes and off any notion of carefulness and it's better if we don't that still insisted on gripping tight onto their skin like tattoos.

as jungkook bites yoongi's earlobes and whispers his name, as yoongi whimpers when jungkook grips his hips harder, as they breathe heavy and move fast, yoongi sees it all. he sees the advertised side effects, he sees the collateral damage and warning signs telling him there's a dead end road five hundred meters away.

yoongi has never been much of a believer, but when he feels jungkook's teeth wandering on his collarbones, yoongi mindlessly steps on the accelerator and prays for the best.

 

-

 

the next morning, yoongi wakes up to white noise, black spots dancing around his vision and an empty bed.

 

Chapter Text

 

two weeks. 

it's been two weeks since yoongi left jungkook's apartment at 7 a.m., on a cold, cloudy november morning.

half a month since he woke up confused, hungry and lost only to have a turmoil of memories about what he and jungkook had been up to the previous night flood his brain and make bile rise up his throat. when he awakened and saw white sheets around him that couldn't possibly be his, he panicked. he immediately freaked, picked up his clothes from where they were laying on the ground, got dressed and rushed out of the apartment like a hurricane.

it didn't occur to yoongi, not until he was two blocks away from his own house, that jungkook was calling out for him when he left. that the reason why he woke up alone was because jungkook was in the kitchen, cooking breakfast for the both of them.

he wants to believe it couldn't have gone any other way. he would have panicked no matter what, he knows he would. losing his sense of reality at unnecessary situations is a characteristic coded in yoongi's dna. so he chooses to think it would, indeed, have ended badly, as any product of self doubt and hangovers would. it doesn't excuse him, not at all, but it makes yoongi hate himself a little less.

by 5 p.m. of the same day yoongi made a belated walk of shame, jungkook had texted him 7 times and called 2. yoongi didn't read any of the messages and pretended he couldn't hear his phone ring.

it was not the best way to fix the problem, he admits it now. ignoring jungkook as if his attempts to contact yoongi were nothing more than software update notifications was certainly not a good way to redeem himself. hiding his phone under every sock he had in his drawer would only aggravate the situation, bury yoongi deeper into the moving sand. but his restless mind figured that, sometimes, it's better to ignore a scratch until it goes away on its own.

however, exactly fourteen days after the halloween party the scratch had evolved to an ugly, bloody open wound, leading yoongi into discovering that, no, ignoring everything was definitely not the best approach.

yoongi doesn't remember a time when he didn't spoke to jungkook for more than four days since they met. but everything has a first, apparently. on the 5th of november, jungkook sent only one message, instead of the usual three yoongi was growing familiar with. on the 7th, he sent none.

in the middle of pretty much pretending his best friend didn't exist, yoongi tried the best he could to move on with his life. he attended his classes, went to work, spent time in the studio (he wasn't able to write or compose anything substantial, but that's footnote information).

yoongi knew he couldn’t keep shutting jungkook off forever. he's not a child. but he wasn’t exactly eager to hear the infamous we should just forget that, we were drunk, i don't want to ruin our friendship he knew was coming his way.

yoongi defined december as his deadline. he has always worked better under schedules anyway.

ultimately, his surrender comes sooner than he expected it to.

yoongi is in his studio, having completely given up on trying to create something good, stereo blasting a random drake song and phone loading a stupid game he just downloaded, when the door opens. he figures it's chaeyoung, since she told him, when they were leaving the class they shared, that she would be coming over for help (as if he is capable of helping anyone, at this point), so he turns around unbothered.

he almost drops his phone when he realizes the person standing by the door is actually a wide eyed, half smiling jungkook. he is wearing specs and a leather jacket. fuck. 

for what seems like forever, they do nothing but stare. jungkook and his stupid grin, the one that would make yoongi go to the fucking moon for no reason at all. yoongi and his stupid face, the one that bares all his excuses and insecurities as if they were freckles.

"hi, hyung," jungkook breaks the quietude. "can we talk?"

"uh. we can. come in," yoongi's voice is three quarters air and one quarter sound. it's rough and low, as if he hasn't talked to anyone in days. jungkook closes the door behind him and sits on the couch. yoongi does the same, but he assures to keep an adequate distance between them.

"you’ve been ignoring my texts," jungkook says, matter-of-factly. yoongi doesn’t hear anger from his tone but a certain degree of sadness is clearly there. yoongi feels sick.

"yeah," he’s not looking directly at jungkook, but he can feel doe eyes directed at him. "look, jungkook, i’m sorry." he thinks that, in situations like this one, anything else other than i’m sorry feels like fakery disguised by technicalities.

"it's okay, hyung. i'm the one who should be sorry,” jungkook says. yoongi can't hold back any longer so he looks at him. jungkook has bags under his eyes. they're subtle, but still there.

"you don't have anything to apologize for," yoongi has never been good at finding the right words, but the tiredness and guilt visible on jungkook's face makes him try his best. before he can even notice what his subconscious is telling his body to do, one of his hands are on jungkook's shoulder.

"but it's kind of my fault it happened," yoongi can't help the disappointment from showing on his features and jungkook can't help but noticing. "not that it was a mistake!" the younger says. yoongi's expression softens. "but now things between us are weird and i don't like it when it's weird so," jungkook pauses, scooting closer to yoongi. "i'm sorry." 

"it was my fault as well. and i’m not really looking forward to apologizing for something else so stop saying you're sorry, otherwise i’ll feel bad and convince myself that i need to say i’m sorry too,” yoongi’s words are jumbled and spitted out too fast, a product of the brainstorm he is currently having. they trip over one another and yoongi can only wait to see if they made any sense.

“okay,” jungkook says after a while. “okay. i guess we can look at it as something that just happened, then. it doesn’t have to change anything between us.”

yoongi likes what jungkook is proposing. he does like it but he doesn’t know if it’s realistic. for him, at least. something on the back of his mind tells him that jungkook’s hands pulling his hair lightly and the low sounds jungkook is capable of making won’t fade from his memories any time soon. but trying to get over them it’s still worth a shot, yoongi hopes.

“yeah, that’s a good idea,” it’s not. but jungkook doesn’t have to know about it.

“i mean, friends want to kiss each other from time to time,” jungkook says and yoongi realizes they are sitting closer than they were before. their thighs are almost touching. “i just happened to want to kiss you that night,” jungkook sounds uneasy and unsure. as if he’s trying out his first few words on a foreign language. he looks at yoongi’s lips, it lasts a millisecond but it happens, anyway.

“and i happened to want to kiss you too. we can blame it on coincidence,” yoongi doesn’t process the words until he hears his own voice saying them. he doesn’t know where it comes from, but the urge to get closer to jungkook is bigger than his better judgment. so that’s what he does. their faces are not even inches apart.

“and beer. it should also take the fault,” jungkook adds. his right hand cups yoongi’s face.

“right. we can leave it behind us now. move on,” the inside of yoongi’s head is a mess. he knows he shouldn’t - but he climbs on jungkook’s lap anyway. and in that moment, he labels himself as dumb, selfish, masochist and every other self-depreciating insult his caffeine pumped brain is able to come up with. although he knows he’s just getting hurt and he’s sure he shouldn’t, when jungkook’s hands come to rest on his hips yoongi manages to deceive himself into believing that, just maybe, he should.

“moving on sounds like a good-“

this time around, jungkook's lips taste like peppermint and second chances.

 

-

 

yoongi wishes he could say everything worked out perfectly fine after their second rendezvous. it would be nice if it did, but yoongi knows that life is not a romantic comedy. he knows because when they're no longer heaving and desperate, when the climax hysteria has finally left every inch of their bodies, it's all strange again. it's silent and uncomfortable and yoongi wonders why the fuck he thought, even for a few neurotic moments, that it would be any different.

it's stupidity, he knows that. but then again, love was never meant for the smart.

on the morning after they slept together for the second time, yoongi doesn't even consider leaving jungkook as soon as he wakes up. partly because they went to yoongi's house and leaving jungkook there would be just odd. but mostly because he doesn't feel like doing it all again: the avoiding, the not checking his messages, the being away from jungkook. 

yoongi doesn't have a choice, anyway. when he opens his eyes, he notices a strong arm thrown across his waist and brown eyes intently watching him.

"good morning, hyung," jungkook's voice is simultaneously honey and lime.

"good morning, kook," and that's it. they get out of bed, get dressed, have breakfast, talk about trivialities and leave the house to do whatever it is they have to do. they don't speak to each other the rest of the day. or, well, until jungkook shows up at yoongi's door fifteen minutes before one in the morning, tasting like pizza and wine.

 

-

 

they fall into a routine. it shouldn't be so bad, since yoongi actually likes having a routine, organizing and arranging his days into patterns, but he has never seen a messier one. yoongi gets used to sleeping beside another warm person everyday, he learns how to fall into unconsciousness to loud breathing sounds. yoongi leaves some clothes at jungkook's house and he buys an extra toothbrush that takes a place close to his own.

at a first glance, there's no major changes, aside from the fact that they have sex now. yoongi and jungkook continue going to school and working crappy jobs.

(he does notice, though, that jungkook's dance practices happen now two times a week instead of the usual three. yoongi doesn't go to the studio every night anymore.)

december comes around and yoongi realizes that there are, indeed, some major changes, like the fact that silence has become uncomfortable and yet they can't hold a conversation for more than ten minutes.

yoongi tries to look at the positive side: the post tryst atmosphere is not so strange anymore. of course, it doesn't stop being weird, but it gets less weird each day that passes. however, positive aspects mean nothing when he doesn't know what jungkook actually thinks of their wordless agreement, since they don't mention anything about what happens when the lights are off and the room is quiet except for the sound of the bed creaking and yoongi's muffled moans. it should be somewhat convenient to jungkook, though, for him to keep coming back to yoongi.

(or maybe he can read all the little signs printed across everything yoongi does, giving out his feelings. maybe jungkook simply doesn't want yoongi to get hurt.)

as for yoongi, he keeps coming back because he wants jungkook that much and because he honestly doesn't know what else to do. he keeps coming back because it means he can have jungkook, somehow, even if it's not the way he considers ideal.

yoongi can only hope that his touches feel like they mean less than they actually do.

 

-

 

when winter break comes around, yoongi goes back to daegu to spend christmas with his family. jungkook also goes back home. they share a cab to the train station, saying goodbye with an awkward hug and shy smiles. yoongi starts missing jungkook the moment he gets on the train. he tells himself it's because he'd grown used to jungkook's presence, even though he's aware that their busy days only allow them to see each other when the sun is no longer up in the sky.

but it's a good thing, coming home. it's been almost seven months since he visited and he misses his family a lot. his mother calls him every week, though sometimes he can't pick up when her name shows up on the screen and yoongi forgets to return the call (he doesn't exactly forget. but it's better to phrase it that way than to say he ignores his mother with no real reason. she asks too much about his life. yoongi can't lie and she can't not worry). his dad engages in the calls once in a while; it seems like he's always working. he hasn't spoken to his brother since the last time they saw each other in person, but they have never been really close anyway.

his mother picks him up when he arrives. her car still smells like grenadines and she got a dog named molly. yoongi enjoys playing with his fluffy hair and by the way the tiny animal licks yoongi's fingers, the puppy likes him as well.

"yoongi, is everything okay?" his mom asks when they hit a red light.

"yes, mom. everything's fine," nothing is fine. his whole situation with jungkook threatens to asphyxiate him at least five times a day, and the keyboard, which used to be so kind to yoongi, has become a unknown device. yoongi can't write anymore and he feels like getting in a car accident that would induce him to a coma wouldn't be that bad. but his mom worries too much, so he doesn't say anything.

"you look tired, dear," she says. the dog in yoongi lap has fallen asleep. "is college tiring you out? you look like another person. maybe it's because i haven't seen you in so long!"

"senior year is tough," yoongi forces a smile, even though his mother's eyes are on the road. "i'm okay, mom. thanks."

"just don't forget to sleep and don't skip meals," yoongi really doesn't have the heart to tell her. "oh! i made a chocolate cake for you," she mentions as she parks the car on their garage. "with strawberries! that one you liked when you were a kid. i remember once when you sneaked the cake out from the refrigerator and ate almost half of it. you got so sick afterwards we had to take you to the doctors."

and just like that, through memories of his childhood that yoongi would rather not remember, the subject is dropped. they don't talk about it for the rest of the trip.

when yoongi first walks in his old room, a subtle wave of nostalgia hits him. as he starts going through his old cds, fumbling with the boxes that keep crumpled posters of the bands yoongi liked as a teen, the wave is not so subtle anymore.

the old computer he used to synthesize his first song is still there. when yoongi turns it on, it takes almost ten minutes for the screen to finally light up. he clicks on all the files available, thinking that maybe he will be able to find something he can use now. he listens to low quality audios of his own voice, to backtracks he has already used to something else. he finds word documents of lyrics that are way too angry and way too chaotic but still make him feel proud, somehow. he concludes that everything stored in the computer's hard drive can't be anything more than good memories.

yoongi then finds solace on the brown piano that still stands on the living room. since he left for college, he hasn't played much on an acoustic piano. even though he's out of practice, his hands fly over the keys as he plays one of chopin's nocturnes. the notes melt harmoniously into one another. his mind catches on the very few as and bs that yoongi misses, but the muscle memory guarantees that he plays the piece mostly well.

on his second day home, yoongi asks his mom where all his sheet music for the classics are. when she gives them to him, he plays each one he has once learned.

on the third day, he improvises at the end of moonlight sonata.

by three in the morning of his fourth day home, yoongi has sore wrists and three pages of handwritten sheet music.

it's not much, really. the piece is simple and short, but yoongi can hear the feelings and emotions he has bottled up inside of him when he plays it. it doesn't feel dull like everything else he's been composing. it's not perfect; but it's a start. he plays it for his mom and she says it's beautiful.

the remaining days of yoongi's trip go by like this, filled by the homesickness he didn't realize he had until he came home, by his mom's cooking and by the black notes of the piano.

(he thinks about jungkook. it's impossible not to. but, for some reason, thinking about him now hurts a little bit less.)

when christmas eve comes around, he gets a text on his phone. it's from jungkook: the first one he has sent since they left seoul five days ago.

 

kook [11:46 p.m.] merry christmas hyung

 

yoongi says it back a few minutes later. it feels blunt and harsh, it replaces everything yoongi really wants to say.

i miss you. he types it when it's already dawn and he can't sleep. he should be able to say it, shouldn’t he? they’re still friends, they obviously miss each other. but yoongi is reminded that no, they’re not just friends anymore, and saying that would feel like a breach of the very skeptically messed up law they have constructed over the past month (or yoongi thinks they did. but still).

yoongi doesn’t want to break any rules. he doesn’t want to mess up their mess. so he deletes every character and goes to sleep instead.

 

-

 

two days after christmas, when both yoongi and jungkook return from their respective homes, they meet up.

jungkook shows up at yoongi's place at night. yoongi wasn't expecting him so soon. when the doorbell of his apartment rings and yoongi takes way too much time to answer it, because who would be visiting him, he is mostly happy to see jungkook standing there, the tip of his nose red from the cold.

yoongi can't tell who takes the first step, but the next thing he knows is that their lips are pressed together and jungkook's hands are wrapped around his waist. jungkook's lips are chapped and yoongi is pretty sure the stubble on his face can scratch. it's too fast and before yoongi can realize, he's straddling jungkook on the couch.

it's rude and it's raw. it's wanting to kiss as much as wanting to bite.

ideally, it's not what yoongi really wants. ideally, yoongi would like if the entire situation was a whole lot sweeter.

but for that split moment, he wouldn't have it any other way.

 

"do you want to get something to eat? i'm kind of hungry," jungkook says after an hour of making out. yoongi is still on his lap and jungkook's fingers are playing with the tiny hairs at the back of yoongi's neck.

"sure. what do you want to get?"

"i don't know yet. maybe we can go out and then we'll see?" jungkook asks. yoongi turns around to look at him. he gets a little startled by the fact that jungkook wants to leave the house. they hadn't gone out together much since halloween. the closest thing they did to actually entering a restaurant and eating there was getting coffee in the few occasions they woke up with time to spare. it wasn't the same as before, though. the silence in the table was enough to make yoongi's apple pie taste bitter.

"uh, we could. let's go," yoongi says. if he had to spend awkward, silent hours, he would rather do it in the comfort of his house, but he has a feeling that tonight will be better. well, not better, but at least noisier. yoongi makes a mental commitment to try and talk more.

(also, jungkook kissed him differently today. maybe. yoongi probably just missed him too much.)

they end up going for burger and fries because, according to jungkook, junk food gets tastier when it's cold. go figure. when they sit down on the table to eat, the silence isn't there. jungkook talks about jungkook things and yoongi listens, as he always did.

yoongi almost feels like they're back to normal. almost.

"so, i was there in the beach. and it was freezing and my fucking sweater was completely soaked," jungkook says, pausing frequently to shove french fries on his mouth. "you know, i missed the sea. i just wasn't expecting missing it enough to be literally lured by it. i don't know what i was thinking."

"did you take off your shoes at least?" yoongi asks.

"yeah, i remembered to do that. but in my defense the waves were pretty calm. that's until i stepped into the water, of course."

"luck has always been your forte, kook," yoongi says with a hint of irony on his voice. the comment makes the corners of jungkook's mouth turn upwards.

"luck totally loves me," jungkook agrees, his voice bearing the same degree of sarcasm. it's nice, to be joking like this again. yoongi feels that he doesn't have to dance around his words anymore. "but the whole point of this is - i don't know, actually, but it got me thinking. tidal waves are usually caused by some sort of disruption that happens underwater, like an earthquake or something like that. and we can't really see it happening, so it's hard to know it's coming just by looking. you only see the result of a change you didn't even realize was there and the next thing you know you're shivering and all your clothes are wet and your face is also wet from all the crying, but-" 

jungkook cuts himself off. yoongi notices he's gripping the bottle of beer so hard his knuckles are turning white.

"forget it, hyung. i don't know what i'm talking about""

yoongi also doesn't know what jungkook is talking about.

(maybe he does. he wants to believe he does. but jungkook talks in metaphors and yoongi has never been an idealist.)

"seems like you really missed the ocean," yoongi doesn't know what else to say.

"i did," jungkook sighs. they resume eating. yoongi can feel the tension that wasn't there before, creeping on his shoulder and making his back hurt. he pretends to not notice it and takes another sip of his drink.

"sorry about that, yoongi. it was confusing," jungkook apologizes once they finish their food.

"life is confusing, in general."

"i agree," jungkook says as they take their trays to the trashcans. they leave the restaurant and face the icy air of december again. they walk close, fingers almost brushing. yoongi wants to hold jungkook's hand. he want to do something out of the ordinary simply to see what happens, but the shadow (the same one that shoots a thousand question marks into yoongi's brain, the one that broods over them and kills every word in the room, the one that often makes yoongi's stomach feel like it's made out of lead) tells him he better not.

"yoongi, do you want to get ice cream? i know it's freezing but i really want it. there's this new place near the coffee shop and jin hyung tells me it's really good," jungkook asks. jin hyung? yoongi doesn't think he knows him.

"ice cream would be nice," yoongi answers. "who is jin hyung?" he can't help but asking after a while.

"seokjin. he's my TA for statistics," he clarifies. oh. jungkook has mentioned him before. jungkook has definitely mentioned him before, and he didn't try to hide his exact thoughts on the guy's handsome face and soft hair.

yoongi doesn't ask any further questions.

the ice cream ends up being actually delicious, yoongi has to grant that. they sit on a booth inside the shop, facing each other. yoongi is distracted when he feels jungkook's thumb swipe over his chin. he watches as the younger brings his finger to his mouth and licks it off.

"you had some of the ice cream on you're face," he explains.

yoongi laughs and jungkook does the same. they start talking again. yoongi tells him of daegu, of how everything's the same and yet so different, of molly. jungkook shares the story of how his little sister introduced her first boyfriend to their parents, of the priceless face the boy made when their dad started to ask too many questions. they talk for a long time, until the cashier warns them that they're about to close.

when they're walking to yoongi's apartment (he doesn't question it. it looks like nothing has changed at the end of the day), the strawberry flavor of the ice cream still lingers on yoongi's tongue and the place where jungkook swept it off still burns.

"i really like having a friend like you, hyung," jungkook voices when they're waiting for the elevator.

(it's in the way he says it. like he couldn't be more sure. his voice doesn't falter or shake, because those actions are left for yoongi's heart and hands. and it's not like yoongi doesn't expect it; they are friends, that much is true. but at the same time, it is a truth that has been distorted, puzzled and twisted, in a way that the truth alone doesn't really mean anything anymore; what is written between the lines needs to be read as well.

at least that's what yoongi thinks. the part of his heart that holds the best of what is left of their relationship, the one who wishes and hopes and waits, thought that maybe, only maybe, jungkook would feel that way as well. but if he did, he couldn't have said that with such confidence. jungkook is a bad liar, yoongi had discovered when he dyed his hair the wrong shade of blue.)

the moment they go through the front door, all that has happened that night feels like a collection of moments detached of their reality. the almost normality yoongi could swear that was there is a far away dream.

jungkook's mouth feels good against his own, so yoongi tries to postpone all the worries showing up on his mind.

later, when yoongi is fundamentally shaky limbs and sore throat, when jungkook is deep in slumber on his right, the moonlight is the only one who witnesses the faint i love you yoongi whispers into jungkook's hair. it doesn't feel right, doing it as disguised and fearfully as he does, but that's what yoongi has for now.

when sleep doesn't come, yoongi allows himself to think: 

yoongi is not afraid of actually telling jungkook he loves him. he's a honest person, he knows that much. he doesn't dread the action as much as the aftermath. he fears the heartbreak that might come from these specific words, but mostly, he fears indifference. yoongi can deal with being lovesick just fine (he can't), but he's almost certain he couldn't deal with the possible absence of jungkook. they're comfortable now. almost. they're friends and they laugh together (sometimes). they fuck and fall asleep on the same bed (most times). yoongi knows there's a big, deadly elephant in the room every morning when they get dressed in silence. he judges they can afford to ignore for a little longer.

maybe yoongi is being greedy, wanting to bite more than he can chew (more than what is available for him to bite). he wanted jungkook: he got him. sort of. he wanted jungkook to like him, to love him the same way: he got the physical part down. although it should be able to satisfy him, it only increases his agony. he doesn't truly know how jungkook feels about him. he doesn't know if the other boy sees the same stars when their bodies are close, if he shivers the same way. it should satisfy him, but yoongi finds more downs than ups when living in doubt.

(he remembers when namjoon told him about schrödinger's cat. he doesn't want to open the box only to find the animal cold and lifeless.)

yoongi isn't fond of the gray area they have been walking on. however, the few positive aspects of uncertainty manage to warm up his heart. sometimes it's nice to go to bed thinking that maybe, perhaps, there's the possibility of jungkook liking him back.

yoongi dubs the electricity he feels whenever he and jungkook are alone in the same room as potentiality; a disaster phenomenon just waiting to happen. it's hidden under layers of corrupted precaution and he's not sure if jungkook can feel it too, but he knows the heat clutching to his organs is a sleeping volcano. it's matches that haven't been lit, gasoline that hasn't been spilled. the fire is not truly there yet, but yoongi still feels it scorching his skin.

he can't tell if it's worse to keep blazing steady and slow, or to combust until only ashes remain.

 

-

 

on new year's eve, yoongi and jungkook go to a party at taehyung's place. yoongi wasn't expecting to have somewhere to spend new year's eve at. usually, he would hang out with his friends, but most of them seemed to be still traveling. in the morning of the 29th of december, taehyung sends a text to their group chat:

 

tae [8:34 a.m.] i know most of you assholes decided it would be a nice time to take a vacation and all

tae [8:34 a.m.] but i hope you guys remember that tomorrow is the day the most beautiful creature came to life aka my birthday

tae [8:35 a.m.] please whoever is still in seoul come to my house nys eve

tae [8:35 a.m.] so we can celebrate the start of a new year and most importantly celebrate me

 

that's how yoongi finds himself in a room full of people he doesn't know once again. 

"i thought this was going to be a small thing," yoongi says to jungkook as they walk into the apartment. "i mean, taehyung didn't make a big deal out of it in the texts." 

"he probably was angry half of us couldn't go and decided to invite the whole vet department."

"makes sense," yoongi agrees once he sees a girl holding the tiniest puppy he has ever seen. he briefly wonders why would anyone bring a dog so small to a party, but then his eyes catch taehyung walking around with his iguana resting on his shoulders and he decides it's best if he doesn't question anything tonight.

"hey, kook! hyung!" taehyung says. he grabs the animal's tiny hand and waves it around a little. "tania is saying hi too."

after they wish taehyung a belated happy birthday, jungkook grabs yoongi by the wrist and takes him to the kitchen. it feels like an obligation at this point, really. if there's alcohol available, they're probably drinking it. the drink jungkook makes for them is too sour and too strong for yoongi's liking, but he doesn't comment on it.

jungkook takes a bottle of tequila from the upper cabinet and drags yoongi to the living room. when they get there, taehyung is showing some sort of trick his iguana can do to momo while jimin and namjoon watch unamused from the couch. jungkook sits down and pulls yoongi to fall on top of him, so that he's half on the couch, half on jungkook's legs (unwanted flashbacks come up on his mind. he focuses on the talent show happening in front of him and dismisses them).

"so, when exactly will taehyung finally ask momo out?" namjoon asks. yoongi then notices the nervous smile taehyung has on his face as he explains to her how he trained the iguana.

"i honestly don't know," jimin answers. "you guys are too slow. admitting your feelings is not going to take twenty years off your life, for fuck's sake," he says, running a hand through his hair.

jimin's words make his head pound and his body shiver. but yoongi understands it.

"right, kookie?" yoongi doesn't understand it.

"what do you mean?" jungkook asks as he takes a large sip of his drink. the bottle of tequila is between their bodies, poking yoongi's stomach.

"why didn't you ask your jin hyung to come, kook?" jimin wants to know. namjoon turns around to look at jungkook with a new found enthusiasm.

jin hyung. seokjin, jungkook's TA. jimin knows about him. he also knows about the crush jungkook apparently harbors for the guy. obviously. obviously. yoongi puts the pieces together. jungkook likes seokjin. he probably does, right? he has mentioned him before. he didn't talk about seokjin explicitly in that way, though he wouldn't have told yoongi about his latest love interest. it makes sense he talked to jimin; jungkook usually went for yoongi when he wanted romantic assistance (don't ask him why, he doesn't get it either) but given their current relationship, it wouldn't feel right.

"because taehyung’s dumb ass only decided to have this party like, yesterday," jungkook says, rolling his eyes. "and he wouldn't have come anyway."

"i can imagine how much you would like if he came," jimin says, smirk clear on his face. yoongi wants to disappear.

"jimin, do me a favor and shut up," jungkook says. he looks particularly pissed off, but yoongi reckons it as the usual bickering he and jimin seem to find necessary to maintain their friendship. "go suck face with your girlfriend or something."

"i would, if she were here," jimin pouts. "but at least i have someone to suck face with!"

at that, jungkook looks at yoongi. it's quick and subtle and no one else notices. but it still makes yoongi's whole body tremble. yoongi is helpless when he watches jungkook glance away and open the bottle of tequila, drinking straight from it.

namjoon, who has been as quiet as yoongi during the whole time, decides to give his opinion. he distorts the subject to his liking, though.

"you look weird. you and jungkook," namjoon tilts his head as trying to see things from another angle, either figuratively or literally. "something is not right. i can feel it. it's like the lab rats, you know? after they have spun around in those tiny ferry wheels for 72 hours straight. you both got that dizzy look on your face. i mean, you're still the same, but just - i can't explain it," namjoon finishes, leaving the three of them with equal puzzled looks on their faces.

"then i'm not even going to act like i understood what the fuck you meant," jungkook says.

"don't mind him, guys," jimin assures. "he spent the last week making a beeline from the labs to the library, trying to finish his essay on comparative psych. you know you're not making sense, right, hyung?" he looks at namjoon.

"i am! just - fuck, you guys don't get it," namjoon says, turning his attention back to taehyung's desperate attempts to make momo laugh.

"i'm not nearly drunk enough for that lab rat bullshit," yoongi breaks the muteness he's been in since they sat down. he stands up quickly and storms off to the kitchen. he's not angry - but listening to the whole seokjin and research animals ordeal has gotten into him, in some way.

(yoongi kind of knows what namjoon is saying, though. well, he knows his interpretation of what namjoon is saying. because he does feel a little dizzy, and it's not entirely because of the drink he's been nursing for the past half hour. they are stuck in a vicious cycle, he and jungkook. it's like the fucking lab rats and their tiny ferry wheels. they talk, kiss, fuck, regret wake up, move on with their day and don't talk about it. rinse and repeat.)

when he comes back, jungkook is standing by the window, staring at the city lights. yoongi goes over and stops by his side, leaning his elbows on the windowpane. jungkook acknowledges his presence with a smile.

they don't say anything. yoongi and jungkook simply stand there, listening to people talking loudly, to the whistle-like sound the frigid wind makes, to the faint fall out boy song coming out of the speakers. another songs comes up, one yoongi has never heard. it is followed by another one, then another, the minutes going by fast and yoongi’s legs starting to hurt.

yoongi looks at the sky. no stars today, not even the ones who are close and alive.

 

"one minute to midnight!" someone screams.

"hurry, guys, help me close all the windows. there are vulnerable animals in here," taehyung says, almost tripping over yoongi when he moves to shut said windows.

jungkook doesn't kiss yoongi when the clock hits midnight. it would've been too easy, and what they're doing, whatever it is, isn't simple. it's unhealthy and it can't possibly end well. it's a complex plan, with too many buts and too many maybes.

as yoongi sees the fireworks reflecting in jungkook's eyes, as he stands there unable to do anything but watch and wait, he comes to the conclusion it's just heartbreak with extra steps.

when jungkook fucks him that night, he holds yoongi's hips so hard it's almost certain they'll bare purple marks the next day. a reminder only for the two of them that, though it's nice when the lights are off and the moon it's up, the aftermath is still purple and ugly.

(the same way the bruises sting on his body, yoongi feels the pain more. he’s sure he does.)

hours later, when the sun is rising for the first time of the year, yoongi makes a promise to himself. he’ll stop it. he’ll find some way to end their hideous fling that should have ended weeks ago. he’ll do it and, if he’s lucky, yoongi and jungkook will be able to keep their friendship. it won’t be the same, but yoongi holds onto every reminiscence of hope.

 

-

 

two months go by and yoongi is still falling asleep to jungkook’s hot breath fanning his neck.

 

-

 

yoongi hears a knock on his door. it's loud and frantic, one that would be able to wake him up if he was asleep. he closes the notebook he'd been writing on and walks towards the door.

when he opens it, he is met with big, teary eyes staring back at him. doe eyes. jungkook's. yoongi is a bit dumbfounded, since the other had told him that he would be locked in the library cramming for this big test he had. jungkook is leaning on the wall, looking disheveled with his red cheeks and messy hair.

"hyung," jungkook whines, stepping in the apartment and immediately wrapping his arms around yoongi. he missteps, almost causing them both to fall to the ground. "hyung, look, hyung! i'm here," jungkook extends the last e, only stopping when a hiccup comes out from his throat.

"kook," yoongi says, assembling all his physical strength to take jungkook to the couch. "kook, what happened?"

"everything happened! or nothing," jungkook says before he starts sobbing. he leans into yoongi, falling head first into his lap. yoongi starts running his fingers through jungkook's hair. he doesn't know what's going on.

"kook?" jungkook cries louder. "jungkook, why are you crying? please, tell me," yoongi's voice is stern. turning cold is the only coping mechanism that keeps him from crying as well.

"i just - it's too much," jungkook straightens his body, so that he's staring at yoongi, their faces inches apart. given their proximity, yoongi can smell the sharp stench of whiskey coming from jungkook. "i don't want to do it, hyung, can i just stay here? please," what comes out of jungkook's mouth is more like a stuttered and stammering mess of those words, but yoongi can make them out. 

"yeah, of course," yoongi says. "come on, kook, let's go to sleep. you have a test tomorrow," yoongi doubts jungkook will be able to get a satisfatory result on the test, or even be fit to take it. but the more he rest, bigger the chances are.

"wait!" jungkook grabs yoongi's wrist as he's standing up. "can you get me something to drink first?"

"i'll get you a cup of water, hang in there."

"no! not water," yoongi halts, turning around. "do you have something else?"

"i think i have some orange juice-"

"no, hyung," jungkook stands up fast and goes over to yoongi. he almost trips over the coffee table. "i mean like a real drink. do you?"

jungkook's eyes are lost, nearly absent, and he's gripping yoongi's t-shirt so hard yoongi is sure the fabric will crumple. it's strange, seeing jungkook so disoriented, since he always appears to have everything under control, a resistant shell keeping all the ugly human feelings from escaping. yoongi can't remember if he ever saw jungkook cry before.

"no, jungkook," yoongi says. "you're drunk, i won't let you make the state you're in even worse," jungkook wails, burying his head on yoongi's shoulder. "let's go to bed."

it's a struggle, but yoongi manages to take jungkook to his room. he helps jungkook take his boots off, doing the same thing with his rings. when he's settled, yoongi goes to the kitchen and brings him some water. then he turns the lights off and lays beside jungkook.

unlike the last time jungkook was this drunk, at the halloween party, they don't kiss. they don't do anything except laying next to each other. after a few minutes, jungkook turns around and tucks his head into yoongi's chest. yoongi put his arms around jungkook and plays with his hair.

(yoongi lies there and he just can't understand. it hurts, seeing jungkook so broken and not knowing the reason, not knowing what he can do about it. yoongi is agonized by jungkook's sadness, but, even though he hates himself for thinking that way, he is somehow relieved that people like jungkook, people who always seem strong and stable, also lose themselves sometimes.)

ten minutes later, jungkook is deep in slumber, his tiny snores being the only sound in the room. yoongi doesn't fall asleep until the shear sunlight is peeking through the window.

 

-

 

"min yoongi!" his professor says when yoongi's already halfway out of the door. he turns around to look at her piling up some papers and shoveling them into already stuffed folders, blowing out the strands of hair that insist on falling over her eyes. "could you stay for a bit? i need to talk to you."

yoongi swallows. mrs. park, his music theory professor, has never asked to speak privately with him after class before. he goes over to the desk as she finishes tidying up the mess that was previously covering the entire hardwood surface.

"good," she says when she's done. "as you probably know, i'm one the supervisors for the project your class is supposed to be handing in as the last assignment," yoongi nods. "i was checking the drafts the students submitted, but i couldn't find any of yours," she raises her eyebrows.

of course. fuck. yoongi had momentarily forgotten about the project his graduation is partly depending on (it's not like he completely dismissed it, but this particular worry went from the main concern to background hassle on his mind). yoongi feels cold drops of sweat running down his nape.

"i, uh. i forgot to send them," that much is true. he had started all of the drafts. he even finished a couple of them (the final product wasn't as good as yoongi wanted, but he has learned he can't always get what he wants). he genuinely procrastinated on submitting the rough versions of the tracks, the ones his teachers would five feedback on, which was stupid since it was a way he could get the help he needed. when he came to terms, it was already march and only now he receives a reminder in the shape of his professor's voice.

she looks at him for a few seconds. then, she adjusts the thin framed glasses that are slipping from the bridge of her nose and says, "right. sending it wasn't mandatory, but it's advisable. you can still turn them in and i suggest you do."

"i will," yoongi says. "thank you," he bows to her and proceeds to leaving the room.

"wait, yoongi," he halts abruptly and does a 180 with his body for the second time in the span of ten minutes. "are you okay? if you don't mind me asking. you look," she pauses and her expression gets softer. "a little overworked."

he is. when he's not working or attending his classes (or in bed with jungkook), he's stuck inside the studio, trying to finish the fucking project (trying to finish anything) and failing consecutively. apart from the couple songs that are done, he has 2 a.m. scribbled lyrics, which sometimes are good and often are shallow and dull, and a considerable amount of sheet music he wrote in the piano that he can't figure out how to make useful for the bittersweet love concept he's going for. 

(it doesn't make sense. yoongi always saw the piano as an instrument that brings out the nostalgic, lovesick side of him. it should work. he should be able to overlap his rap verses with the melody, as he has done it before.

but he doesn't dwell too much on it; most things don't make sense lately.)

"i'm good," he lies. "i've just been working a lot, as my appearance can probably show," he fakes a smile. mrs. park tilts her head and looks complacently at him, the corners of her lips turning up in a subtle smile. "but thank you for worrying, mrs. park."

"of course," she says. "try to get some rest. but don't forget to send the drafts!"

he says he will definitely remember, thanks her one last time and finally leaves the classroom. 

as he's walking down the hallways, yoongi makes a mental effort to assemble all that has been going on in his life. all that has been going wrong.

the first topic that comes up, underlined in red and highlighted in yellow is his music. or the absence of his music. it has been an ongoing problem for the past year, always pinching at his sides and nagging him on his sleep like an outraged ghost. at first, yoongi thought it was just a fluke. it would go away once it had enough fun with his misery. but now, an year later, he recognizes that is it, indeed, a dilemma that keeps him from being at peace with himself and, in a way, being able to graduate. it deserves a headline on the weekly issue of yoongi's distress.

then second, but controversially not less important, comes jungkook, circled by a red maker and underlined by two thick black lines. jungkook has also been a constant problem (though he was mostly everything yoongi could ever ask for) since they met. sure, until some time ago, he was just a giant signboard spelling out 'maybe', surrounded by blinking fairy lights that made yoongi wonder and ache. now, the doubt is still there but some of the tiny lamps are unstable and on the brink of ceasing forever.

as he strides through the corridor, surrounded by announcements glued to the walls and nearly lifeless fellow senior students, yoongi reflects about which situation he can fix.

although it would be very nice to get his musical ability restored, it's not really a thing you can decide on. it comes natural, regardless of how hard you try to get it back. yoongi knows this very well based on the amount of time he spent trying to chant it back to his hands.

and jungkook, well. there is something he can do about it. he could tell jungkook how he really feels about him. it's not rocket science; in reality, it's fairly simple, yoongi just couldn't muster enough nerve to do it yet. his brain has provided him every possible outcome and he isn't fond of most of them.

but still, something needs to be done. yoongi leaves the music department with a new commitment: he's going to tell jungkook. today. their relationship can't stay what it currently is for much longer anyway. telling jungkook will either end well for both of them and murder yoongi's constant uncertainty (he doubts that's what will happen, though. but, god, does he want it to) or it will make them part ways a little bit earlier than planned. either way it goes, it's not an option anymore.

yoongi finds within himself a spurt of courage he never knew was there. he lets his fresh determination take control of his muscles, make his legs take him to the psychology building, where jungkook is having his last class of the day. when he gets there he sits on a wood bench, waiting for the class to be over.

some time later, when yoongi is already getting distracted by the butterflies that seem to enjoy going from flower to flower, he catches a glimpse of dark caramel hair. it's jungkook. yoongi stands up fast and strolls to the main entrance of the department building. he's almost shouting out jungkook's name to get his attention when he sees him.

jungkook is not alone. there's a guy talking to him, all glossy black hair and broad shoulders. yoongi has never seen him before. he stands a few meters away from them, in a spot they aren't able to see him. yoongi stares as they walk out, jungkook laughing at something the other said. even from a distance yoongi can see jungkook's cheeks turning pink.

then everything makes sense. the man must be seokjin, jungkook's TA. the subject of jungkook's infatuation, apparently.

(yoongi thinks he never stood a chance.)

yoongi could go over and talk to them. introduce himself to seokjin, like a human being would in a normal situation. but this is far from normal. it's messy and sloppy and yoongi still can't tell exactly where he stands in jungkook's book.

yoongi ignores the mindset he was adamant on just a few minutes ago and decides he's not capable of making a choice that follows all the established criteria of his and jungkook's fucked up dynamics. so he looks at them one last time, swallows the lump that has been forming in his throat and walks away.

 

 

kook [11:18 p.m.] hyung

kook [11:18 p.m.] can you come over?

 

yoongi makes his way to jungkook's apartment. because he's stupid and weak and it has become second nature by now, a routine that feels more like addiction. he goes because he doesn't know any better (hypothetically he does, but in midst of all the extra incognitos that have been added to the case, theory doesn't seem to mean a lot).

he goes because the determination is still burning bright in his head, though its initial purpose might have changed. he’s going to fix something. gain back the control, even if it means he’ll break his own heart in the process. 

it seems like jungkook had been waiting for yoongi by the door, since that when yoongi arrives at his apartment, jungkook is pulling him inside before the buzzing sound of the doorbell is even finished. jungkook's lips on his neck is familiar but his fingertips on yoongi's skin still blazes. jungkook picks him up and carries him to his room, yoongi's legs instinctively curl around the other's waist. it's fucking nice, of course it is, and yoongi is going to miss this. he’s going to miss jungkook.

when jungkook drops him on the bed and takes off his shirt, yoongi fights the distraction tanned skin usually gives him and remembers that he has to do it. so, as jungkook leans down, bracing his elbows on each side of yoongi’s head, yoongi puts his hands on jungkook’s shoulders and slowly starts to push him away.

“jungkook,” yoongi says. “stop. stop, we need to talk,” those few words are enough for jungkook to sit up right, looking confused. his hands move to rest on yoongi’s thigh.

“what’s wrong?” jungkook asks. his fingers play with the loose strings on the rips of yoongi’s jeans.

although yoongi wonders how jungkook has the need to ask what’s wrong when everything is clearly wrong, he kind of understands him. usually, once they’re nothing but wandering hands and labored breathing, they don't talk. they don’t say anything but swear words and each other’s names.

“we can’t do this anymore,” yoongi says. he’s looking down, staring at his knuckles. he feels jungkook’s fingers become motionless on top of his jeans.

“but,” jungkook starts, cutting himself off abruptly. yoongi raises his head and is met with jungkook looking even more confused than he was before. “but this is - it’s nice, right? what we have. i mean,” he stops talking. jungkook sighs and rubs a hand on his neck.

“i think we should stop seeing each other for some time,” yoongi says before jungkook can finish. it’s not the smartest option available, he’s aware of that. but in this moment, considering yoongi’s puzzled state of mind and the ugly feeling he had when he saw jungkook smiling so bright at seokjin, it feels like the one that’ll hurt the less in the long term.

(he doesn’t want to go back to not having jungkook. but having him while he’s still not entirely his is practically the same.)

“hyung,” jungkook says. “i don’t understand. i like,” jungkook closes his mouth fast, as if he was about to say something he shouldn’t. he looks up at the ceiling, then at the floor, then at the bed. anywhere else but at yoongi. “i like sleeping with you.”

yoongi blinks. so this is what it is about. he should’ve known. he spent some of his nocturne thinking hours pondering about why jungkook kept him for so long. first, he thought his feelings were too obvious and jungkook’s not the kind to hurt anyone easily. he considered the possibility of jungkook feeling something for him as well (this particular option was always crossed out fast and always came back). but now he sees it. he’s convenient.

yoongi mutters i’m sorry before standing up and going towards the hallway. 

it’s euthanasia, what yoongi is about to do. he’ll metaphorically kill himself, pump meds into his veins. it’s a desperate measure. the moments that precede the one when his heart finally stops (when he finally leaves jungkook on his bed, pliant and so, so beautiful) will hurt like a bitch, but it will be like the darkness before the dawn. the bright strenuous light he will see before everything goes pitch black. the deadly hit that will put an end to his suffering.

he opens jungkook's front door and signs his DNR.

when he gets home, yoongi shoves his face into the pillow and screams. he screams until his throat is sore and his voice is rough, until he's out of breath, until his head is pounding and the back of his eyes is burning. he lifts his head when he thinks he's close to passing out and notices the pillowcase is wet. yoongi's crying because of jungkook (because of himself) for the first time. he rubs his fists on his eyes, in a failed attempt to stop the tears from falling. yoongi's throat tightens and his whole body shakes, bottom lip quivering and hiccups escaping from his mouth. before he knows it, he's sobbing.

he doesn't stop until exhaustion takes over.

 

-

 

after the initial punches, it should hurt more, yoongi thinks. it should feel like he just got his heart ripped out from his chest and is being forced to watch as some faceless scientists dissect it and write down any new data they find on heartbreak. it should feel like heavy hands closing around his throat, slowly choking the life out of him. it should feel like dying, but it doesn't: it feels like yoongi has never been alive in the first place.

yoongi is numb. it's a sensation (or the lack of) akin to the one he felt on the drive home, when he was 17 and took out his wisdom teeth. deep down his bones, masked by a high dosage of anesthesia, the pain is there. seething, waiting. he knows the ache exists, but he's still on that weird, hazy post op stage, when he doesn't feel anything, when he can't tell apart nightmare dream from reality, when everything that happens outside the car window is either funny or terrifying.

novocaine has been running inside his veins since he left jungkook's apartment for the last time, and yoongi can't tell if he should be relieved or afraid for the time the medicine finally wears out.

jungkook doesn't call. he doesn't text. yoongi makes no attempts at contacting him, either. after all, this is probably for the best. now jungkook can go after seokjin (who is much more beautiful and adequate than yoongi, who would make jungkook so happy) without feeling like he's cheating on yoongi (which can't really be considered as cheating. but jungkook's sense of morality is too high for his own good).

yoongi won't feel like a nuisance anymore, since that's what he became the moment they crossed boundaries that shouldn't have been crossed, the moment yoongi died a little bit.

(maybe the reason why he doesn't think it's hurting is because he's been hurting all along.)

spring arrives. the cherry blossoms yoongi has always been so fond of look dead and colorless. yoongi walks by the playground one day, the same day he is able to stop himself and turn around when he realizes he's two blocks away from jungkook's apartment, out of habit. the cats that still hang around the garden hiss at him. yoongi walks faster.

the days go by slowly but april comes at some point. yoongi makes a mental countdown for graduation; instead of hours and days, he measures time in text messages from his friends he never replies to. in impulsive thoughts that tell him horrible things he somehow manages to block out. in music scores, that let all he's been piling up inside his mind bleed out on paper, turning out to be nothing but messy and chaotic. in rough drafts he never finishes, that are mostly made out of e minor and sorrow and jungkook.

 

-

 

namjoon [7:45 p.m.] hey yoongi hyung, can you meet with me now? 

namjoon [7:49 p.m.] i never asked you anything hyung

namjoon [7:50 p.m.] it's a life and death matter

 

yoongi ultimately decides to meet namjoon because, it's true, he has never asked him something out of the blue before, so it must be really important. but also because yoongi knows he can't hide in his studio or under his blankets forever. he hasn't seen any of his friends in almost two months.

yoongi saves the draft of the song he has been working on for the past hour or so (he actually likes it. it's happening a lot more often lately, producing songs he can call his. it doesn't mean he's back at the level he whishes he was. he's definitely not, but he's getting there. maybe having his heart chewed on has its perks). he leaves the building a few minutes after eight and goes straight to the diner they agreed to meet at. 

when he gets there, he spots namjoon, all thick framed glasses and pastel clothes, already sitting at a table, a plate of french fries and two milkshakes in front of him.

"hi, yoongi," namjoon greets him as he takes a seat. "i ordered for you. it's vanilla? everyone likes it so i picked that one. well, maybe not everyone," namjoon looks carefully at him.

"it's fine," yoongi says, feigning a smile. "i like vanilla. thanks."

"no problem," namjoon rests his hands on the table. "so. you have to promise you won't be mad at me."

"uh," yoongi starts, not so sure of what namjoon means. "i promise?"

"good, remember that. the reason why i called you here is not exactly so urgent," namjoon says. "i mean, it is! but no one is dying or anything."

"okay," yoongi takes a tentative sip at his milkshake (he doesn't really like vanilla. it brings up memories he would rather leave forgotten). "can you tell me the reason then?" 

namjoon squints his eyes. "it's about you and jungkook."

"what about me and jungkook?" yoongi's grip on the glass gets tighter. he should have known it was something about jungkook.

"don't play coy, hyung. we all know you guys haven't been talking to each other. or even seeing each other, for that matter."

"we're just," yoongi starts, trying to come up with his best excuse. "we're both really busy with classes and work. but we're fine. really."

"you're not fine, hyung. you look like you're dead in all levels expect physical," namjoon leans back on his chair, as if trying to get a better look. "and if your dark circles get any darker, you won't even have the benefit of the doubt anymore."

"uh, sorry?" yoongi shrugs. "i'm just tired, that's it. it doesn't have anything to do with jungkook."

"yeah, right," namjoon rolls his eyes. "it's weird, you know. seeing you and jungkook act so distant. if you think about it, we all became friends because of the two of you." 

they did, theoretically. yoongi thinks jungkook is the person who brought everyone together, who created the perfect conditions for them all to become friends. yoongi had namjoon and joohyun, before he met jungkook. he had other friends, of course, but they were the kind of friends that, at some point, would inevitably drift apart and become nothing more than contact numbers he still insists on keeping on his phone even though he never calls.

jungkook introduced him and namjoon to jimin and hoseok and everyone else, so yoongi understands why it would feel a bit odd not having them around. 

"i know," yoongi gives in. "but i have no idea what to do about it." 

"maybe it would help if you tried talking to him? i met up with jungkook last week and he definitely looked like he wanted to make things right again," namjoon suggests, mixing what's left of his milkshake with the straw. "he's just stubborn, you know that."

"i do," yoongi sighs. "look, namjoon, thanks for caring and all but i think it's best if we just leave it like it is. friends have fall outs from time to time, we just have to wait for things to fix themselves."

"although this strategy might work for a myriad of things," namjoon says. "it won't work for this specific problem. you know why." 

"no," yoongi tilts his head. "i don't, actually. will you enlighten me?"

namjoon stares at him for a while. when he glances away, he looks around the diner, inspecting the walls, the ceiling. it seems like he's trying to count every tiny crack there is on the surface. then, namjoon's eyes are back on yoongi. he takes his glasses off and presses his thumb and index finger on the red indents they left on his face.

"yoongi," he sounds hesitant. "i know about you and jungkook. i know you were sleeping together." 

yoongi almost chokes on air. he's glad he has already finished drinking the milkshake, otherwise, the cleaning staff would be really angry at him. once he has composed himself, he starts to talk. 

"what? but how-"

"it doesn't matter how," namjoon cuts him off. "but i know that you're going through a hard time and so is he, therefore, i beg you, fix things up." 

"i don't really know how to," he repeats what he said earlier using different words, because he truly doesn't know what to do. if he knew, he wouldn't be so miserable. all the outcomes of the possible approaches that his mind is able to come up don't seem like a valuable upgrade from his current situation. namjoon knowing about everything just makes it worse.

"you just have to stop swallowing down your feelings," namjoon says, blunt and curt. yoongi knows his tone seems a bit rude because he's genuinely worried for them, but he follows with an equally low answer anyway.

"i like swallowing down my feelings, actually. believe it or not, they taste like strawberries." they really do. they're sweet and poisonous and make yoongi want to bend over and throw up his lunch.

"fine, do whatever you want with your feelings, just don't disregard them," namjoon says, crossing his arms in front of his chest. "this will only harm you and jungkook." 

yoongi doesn't reply anything. he sits there, staring at the fries that are starting to get cold and gross. he knows namjoon has a great point and that he could benefit from following his advice. but yoongi has gotten used to it: hiding his feelings, not taking any risk. although he doesn't like the habit he has established for himself, something (the shadow, he remembers. the one that hoovers over him at all times and makes him doubt everything. it walks around hanging from his neck, keeping him from making certain decisions because they probably won't do you any good) tells him he's comfortable under its wraps, that he won't get any more hurt than he already is if yoongi just follow its lead. 

"i talked to jungkook before coming here," namjoon's voice brings his glance up. "he'll be waiting for you. at the playground? that's what he told me, at least."

"what? you set us up in a blind date?" yoongi thought their conversation couldn't get any more embarrassing. "a really sour one, i mean."

"it's not a blind date," namjoon clarifies. "because you both know. and it won't be sour if you don't make it sour."

"no," yoongi shakes his head. "no. sorry, namjoon, but i can't go. we've been avoiding each other for the past two months, how do you expect it to turn out well?" 

"if you're worried about jungkook not wanting to talk to you, don't be. i already told you, he's not doing so great. he wants to make things right, hyung, so just go."

 "i don't know," yoongi says, taking off his beanie and running a hand through his hair.

"please, hyung. jungkook already agreed, so don't leave him waiting. please go meet him," namjoon's eyes are glistening, waiting for yoongi's answer and expecting he'll agree too.

"you do realize you set a fucking play date for us, don't you? what are we? twelve-year-olds?" yoongi's words rip the brightness out of namjoon's eyes, replacing it with something that looks more like tiredness.

"it's not a play date. you guys need to have a serious conversation for your sake and for mine as well," namjoon emphasizes. "and yes. you might as well be, since you're acting like children."

yoongi doesn't want to meet jungkook, regardless if his refusal makes him seem like a teenager going through his emo phase. but then again, it would be nice to just let go. ignore the shadow for once and put a final dot in the story, whether it signals a happy or sad ending.

so, in a split second decision, he grunts out fine, causing a closed lip grin to appear on namjoon's face.

he doesn't know what will happen. fuck, he can't possibly imagine what will happen. but when he walks out of the diner, leaves namjoon behind and starts walking, then sprinting towards the playground, he finally allows the uncertainty he despises so much to take over the next hours, and decides to put all the faith he has left on serendipity.

 

-

 

yoongi arrives at the playground sooner than he usually would. he's having a hard time catching his breath and his calves burn from the running. jungkook is already there waiting for him, like namjoon said he would. he's in one of the swings, slightly moving, folding his legs as the front of his all stars stay firm on the ground. his eyes look distant.

he looks different. a little bit thinner, judging by the way his cheekbones jut out more than they did before. when yoongi gets closer, he can see the purple coloring jungkook's under eyes. yoongi feels like he's going to get sick.

yoongi sits on the other swing. the harsh noise it makes is enough to bring jungkook out of the haze he was in.

"yoongi," jungkook says. he flinches, along with wide eyes and raised eyebrows. "you came."

"i did," yoongi says. "hi, kook," the words feel odd on his tongue.

"hi, hyung," jungkook replies. the corners of his lips turn up. it's barely enough to be considered a smile, though it is better than nothing. yoongi smiles back, but he doesn't say anything. there are many phrases coming up on his brain and still none of them seems quite right. it's not like namjoon, or anyone else, gave him a manual explaining in detail what to do in those situations. it'd be nice if they did but yoongi is already used to not getting what he needs.

except for the background noise, they remain in silence.

yoongi remembers reading about liminal spaces. the places where your perception of time and reality feels a little bit altered, where you stand between what was and what will be; places of transition and change. he thinks the playground is one of those spaces. after all, it was the scenario in which he and jungkook went from friendly to friends, from friends so something more. now, they stand beside the sandbox and the sliders again.

yoongi guesses that the next big transformation is about to happen. it’s like there’s no city lights or car noises around them, just wonder and expectation and lonely ghosts.

"why did you leave that day, hyung?" jungkook is the first one to speak, after what feels like a good couple years. "i can't understand why you did that without giving me a reason."

yoongi doesn't understand as well. a few minutes after he left jungkook's apartment, he realized that he had fucked up. but it wasn't like he could go back and do it all again, in a nicer way. yoongi can't truly believe how jungkook still seems so oblivious to it all, how he can't see the reason that is so obvious to yoongi. the reason he can't completely admit out loud yet, recurring to a shamelessly adulterated version of it.

"i couldn't do it anymore," yoongi says. "i was hurting myself and i figured getting away from you would help. but it obviously didn't," yoongi figures it's still valuable if he leaves the source of his pain out. 

"hurting yourself? i don't understand."

"being so close to you and still feeling so far away. having you but not having you entirely," yoongi's not sure if he's making the right choices when picking out his words, but he goes on anyway. "i thought i could do it for a while, but every morning when we woke up it was strenuous and i told myself i would end it. but i was afraid of losing you so each night it all began again. i felt like i couldn't do anything about it. that day, i realized i would lose you regardless of what i did, so i figured it was better to end it. i thought it would hurt less." 

it's sort of relieving, speaking about some of the things that were bothering yoongi. he still wishes he didn't have to skip the most important parts, though.

"i'm sorry," jungkook looks startled, chewing on his lower lip. "i'm sorry, yoongi, i didn't want you to feel like i was taking advantage of you," yoongi wasn't expecting that answer. it wasn't his purpose to make jungkook feel like he was the bad guy of the situation. as usual, his good intentions were for nothing.

"what are you talking about?" yoongi asks. he stands up and jungkook does the same.

"i should have noticed you didn't want to keep having sex with me-" 

"i wanted to!" yoongi interrupts him. he sighs, mentally cursing his defected brain to mouth filter and asking himself how can he think so much of what to say and ultimately end up saying all the wrong things. "i don't think we're on the same page here, jungkook."

"it seems to me that it was a burden to you so i'm sorry," jungkook's voice is small and unsteady. his eyes are glistening and yoongi has the urge to do something about it, to fix things, but all that he seems able to do is make them even worse. 

"just stop apologizing," he tries. "i liked having sex with you. it just wasn't something i should be doing, not like this."

"if you wanted to stop you could have just said-"

"i’m fucking in love with you!" yoongi says, voice loud and shaking. he can't tell what exactly makes him say it: if it's how broken jungkook looks, or how broken yoongi is. maybe you can only keep hiding what you feel for a limited period of time, before words come flying out like air escapes an punctured balloon. "i’m in love with you. fuck. and i was doing well trying to hide it but then you kissed me and everything just happened so fast-"

jungkook’s lips are on his. they’re cold and rough and his mouth still tastes like fucking strawberries for some reason. yoongi’s legs almost give out on him but jungkook is quick to hold him steady by the waist.

yoongi thought it was supposed to be cathartic, finally letting go of what has been weighting him down for so long. but he only feels like he’s starting it all again and he can’t breathe right so, before he knows it, his hands are against jungkook’s chest, pushing him away.

"why do you keep doing that?" yoongi says when they break apart. his vision is getting blurry and when he lifts a hand to rub his eyes, he notices he’s crying. there are fat, giant tears streaming down his cheeks and could he get any more pathetic? "it was more than just sex for me, you know that now, so why?"

“i like you, hyung," jungkook says, words rushed and messy. he stays quiet for a while, staring at yoongi with tear-rimmed eyes. he blinks hard, tears being forcefully pushed out, and continues, "it was more for me as well," yoongi's consciousness fails to instantly process jungkook's words. so, at first, yoongi just stares at him, mouth agape. 

“but seokjin," it's the first thought that comes to yoongi's mind when he absolves everything in. after all, jungkook's TA played a big roll on the downfall of the cracked little word they were living in. yoongi knows it wasn't intentional, but still. "didn't you like him?"

"he has a girlfriend! they’re pretty much married," jungkook says, loud and sharp. he cradles one hand on the curve of yoongi's neck and continues. "i told jimin about him before halloween because i wanted to think i was over you. i just wanted," jungkook sighs, pressing the heel of his other hand on his eyes. "i thought that if i told someone something that implied i didn’t have these stupid feelings for my best friend anymore they would eventually go away. but they were still there. and that day you looked good with your ghost costume and i was drunk and-"

jungkook looks down at yoongi's lips. then, he shakes his head and talks again. "but i forgot namjoon hyung actually knows seokjin, so a few days after the new year’s eve party he asked me why i was crushing on someone who’s taken. so i told him. i told him everything."

yoongi is a mess. a mess prettier than the one he usually is, but it's clutter nonetheless. he tries to grasp all that has happened in the previous minutes: jungkook isn't head over heels for seokjin, like yoongi spent months assuming he was; jungkook likes him. maybe not as much as yoongi likes jungkook (the doubt doesn't go away that easily) but it's still something; the past months meant something more than painful fun to jungkook too.

he comes to the conclusion that the final outcome is mostly good. yoongi does his best to avoid the thought that it all could have been fixed with better communication.

"so," yoongi starts, hesitant. "you've liked me this whole time?"

"yes, hyung. and i couldn't say anything because i thought that, if you knew about my feelings and didn't correspond them, you would want to stop sleeping with me. it was selfish of me, but i figured the only person i was hurting was myself. having that kind of relationship wasn't what i wanted but i thought that if it was all you could be to me then i'd take it." 

"we're fucking dumb," yoongi says. suddenly, he starts laughing, boisterous and unrestrained. he laughs so much he has to let go of his hold on jungkook to curve his body, an arm across his stomach and the other reaching his face to wipe the now mostly happy tears that are dampening it. at first, jungkook is quiet. but then he smiles. a smile that turns to giggles that turn to a laugh as obnoxiously intense as yoongi's.

once they both calm down, yoongi straightens his body to look at jungkook. he's beautiful. his cheeks are stained red and all the tiredness that remains stamped on his face is not enough to diminish his beauty. yoongi brings jungkook closer by the waist and kisses him. it's not their best kiss, yoongi has to acknowledge that. their teeth clash and it's too wet. yoongi's face feels hot and damp, and when jungkook raises his hand to cup his cheek, the zipper of his jacket's sleeve somehow gets momentarily stuck on yoongi's earring and it hurts, a twinge brief and strong.

but this kiss still feels different from all the ones they shared before. it's slower and sweeter. yoongi doesn't have to worry if he'll be able to kiss jungkook again, not this time. so, although it's not their best kiss, yoongi is pretty sure it's his favorite one.

"do you want this?" yoongi asks when they break apart. "do you want me?"

"in every way," jungkook says, fitting a quick kiss on yoongi's lips between every word. yoongi manages to ignore jungkook's melodramatic display of affection and opts for kissing him once more. 

"i think we should start this again. the right way," yoongi suggests, taking advantage of the few moments their lips are apart.

"that's a good idea," jungkook agrees, tracing a line with his fingertip from yoongi's ears to his chin.

"jungkook," yoongi meets jungkook's eyes. he doesn't want to ever look elsewhere. "will you be my boyfriend?"

"I thought you'd never ask," he smiles. 

jungkook leans down to kiss him again. yoongi meets him halfway.

 

-

 

yoongi saves the audio file under a folder named moonlight and wine. it's the last one. once he uploads it to a pen drive, he sighs. as yoongi stretches back in his chair and locks his fingers under his head, he realizes how great it feels to put an end to something he thought he would never finish just a couple months ago. his project didn't turn out perfect, like yoongi would like it to. but, given the countless hours he spent trying to make something out of the nothingness that insisted on clouding his mind, the result was good enough.

the project itself wasn't what really mattered. the fact that yoongi was able to overcome the metaphorical two hundred meter tall barrier that stood between him and his music was.

(it hasn't returned to him yet, not entirely. the lyrics and melodies come back gradually; they are slow and careful like a shy lover. but, as the days go by, their appearances become more frequent, their sound becomes louder. they want to be heard and yoongi listens closely.)

jungkook shows up at the studio door as yoongi is turning the computer off. 

"hi, hyung," jungkook says, pressing his hands on yoongi's shoulders and leaning down to kiss him on the cheek. "are you ready to go?"

"almost," yoongi says, turning around to greet him properly. he stands up and hugs jungkook, pushing his face onto his flannel shirt. yoongi's flannel shirt. jungkook is warm and he smells like a mixture of sugary drinks and home.

"let's go," yoongi says once he notices the screen has gone black. he pulls jungkook by the hand, grabbing his jacket that was thrown over the couch. "hamburgers and milkshakes?" yoongi asks as they're leaving the room.

"can't think of anything better."

 

when they're waiting for the traffic light to turn red so they can cross the street, yoongi notices all the people around them. he remembers how he used to imagine the different lives each passerby had. how he used to wonder if they were in love, if they were struggling as much as he was, if someday he could be as happy as some of them looked like they were. with jungkook's fingers intertwined with his, yoongi doesn't give doubt a second thought.

jungkook hasn’t told him he loves him too. not literally. not yet. but, right now, it seems like a small detail that holds no value to the big picture. he doesn’t have the proof; he has the idea, nonetheless. yoongi holds jungkook’s hand tighter. he stands on his tiptoes and presses his lips against jungkook’s neck, landing a peck there. he watches jungkook smile and then he watches the stars. they’re shining still. even though they are dead, he sees their light. and, for once, it’s enough.

 

fin.