Chapter 1: prologue
for once, after all this time, the light coming from my window wasn't dreaded, but welcomed. it was warm.
it was still the same routine: pill one, pill two, take a deep breath and head to the bathroom. or at least, i tried. something stopped me from limply rolling out of bed, and it wasn't my usual ten minute moping.
i turned around and met with a sleepy gaze and a wonderful, relaxing soft smile. and, once again breaking the horrid routine i'd built over the years, i returned it with a grin of my own.
"good morning, honey."
Chapter 2: anastasis
getting here was difficult.
he wasn't yet fully healed, no. there were numerous, recent nights in which he'd wake up sobbing. nights he'd rather stay awake. days he couldn't get himself out of his home. days he didn't feel at home anywhere.
there were also nights full of laughter, nights when sleeping was ludicrous and he'd much rather enjoy the momentary bliss. days where his home was vibrant and inviting. days he felt the world envelop him in a warm hug.
he guessed this was his normal now. the weird swinging and tugging back and forth of his daily routine lulling him to sleep, keeping him awake. swinging was his new normal, but so was staying in one place. he had come to accept this, whether negative or positive. he had come to accept this living.
he had also come to accept he'd never again see him.
it was one of those hard, cold negatives. juxtaposingly, it was sometimes a positive.
although, he'd be lying if he said he never cheated. he'd sometimes let his eyes linger on a magazine cover, on a photo posted online by his mum. he allowed himself these glimpses for six years.
jimin was a coward.
at least that's what he told himself during those positives that felt like negatives, when the world felt like it was crashing down, but just in his periphery. during these days it felt easy to label him as a coward. he left with no explanation; he could've at least told his parents and best friends. he avoided him like the plague whenever he came back to visit his parents. he never tried to contact his friends, not for an explanation, a justification for his actions, at least an apology.
but yoongi was a coward, as well. he could've broken jimin's vicious cycle of hide and run. he could have done so on many different occasions. what stopped him was knowing he was the reason jimin had left.
he really couldn't blame the younger for wanting to run for the hills. if yoongi could run from his abuser, why couldn't jimin do it? that really wouldn't be fair. it wouldn't be.
the first night without him was a cold one. it was definitely his coldest summer. his chest ached as if it had been torn open, he felt like he was in flames. and yet, his body shook, and everything felt in the negatives. his fingers no longer recognised warmth.
yes, that night was supposed to be special. no, the word "special" no longer held that light, fluffy meaning it did prior to that day. and that's when it began, the spiralling downward, yoongi's descent into what he could only describe as his true metamorphosis.
that night changed him. sometimes he would allow his mind to wander, let himself fantasise about what jimin would think about him. would he like this version? or was there nothing to like at all?
he knew these weren't healthy thoughts, but he allowed them nonetheless.
even now, as he waited behind a few coworkers to clock out.
"i can't believe you're actually going on PTO," one of his coworkers gushed, "since you're a vicious workaholic! where are you going?"
yoongi found himself humming as he tapped his badge on the reader. "who knows? i didn't really think this through."
giggles ensued. friendly banter about how "yoongi" it was to say that, and that he would most likely stay home and mope because he wasn't working. yoongi allowed himself to laugh because they were right, and because it was better than saying goodbye. he didn't like those. instead, the trio joked all the way to the elevator that would take them to their assigned parking level and the atmosphere remained light and carefree.
when they were exiting the parking structure, they were still smiling at each other through the mirrors, yoongi's smile slowly fading as they went their separate ways.
it was true that he didn't plan his vacations through. actually, the decision to take the 300 accumulated hours off was something sporadic in nature, just a feeling he had to appease. he couldn't comprehend his own decision. 300 hours was twenty-five days of work, and he worked three times a week, not counting the overtime he so frequently did. it was going to be a long, long break.
when he arrived home, he found yixing sprawled on the living room floor, cuddling their doberman, heracles. their cat, dionysus, was perched on the foot of the stairwell.
"you look so comfortable," yoongi threw playfully, crossing his arms as yixing sat up with a groan.
yoongi always looked forward to this time of the day, walking to yixing and sinking to the floor, head on yixing's lap. "i'm regretting this," he confessed, "i really have no idea what i'll do for an entire seven weeks." heracles huffed and made his way to the stairwell and yoongi adjusted his position as yixing rolled his eyes. "don't roll your eyes at me. i can feel the boredom already."
a warm, familiar hand carded through his hair, and he could feel yixing's laugh rumble. "am i just painted on the wall or something? how're you gonna be bored when you have me?"
"you'll get tired of me after a week," yoongi replied.
he and yixing had been roommates since college, friends before that, and have for a few years been what they liked to call soul lovers. he couldn't lie, they weren't the closest of friends before they began rooming and the term acquaintances was a better fit, but now yixing was one of the most important people in his life.
funny how things changed over the years.
it was cold outside, and yixing was warm, and he began to daydream about possible things to do with his time off, when his phone rang. he pulled it out of his scrubs pocket and answered.
"hey, dad," he mumbled. "how are you?"
his dad's voice was hesitant on the other line and he could picture his dad clearly--a fidgety, embarrassed mess.
"yoongi…" he tried, "you can say no. it's up to you… but i need your car. i would actually like it if you drove us there, but… that would be too much to ask."
yoongi sat up, sharing a look with yixing who no doubt had heard that. "is everything okay? do you need me to go over now?" he asked frantically, biting his lip down to ease up.
he heard his dad release the breath he was holding. "...no. its for tomorrow morning. we need extra space and you're the one with the big car." yoongi didn't understand why his dad sounded so uncomfortable asking for a simple favour but he shrugged, accepting he probably has his reasons.
so he looked toward yixing who was staring at him expectantly. "extra space? sure you can borrow it. or i can take you wherever it is you need to go. yixing and i don't mind helping, if you need his help too."
his dad sucked in a deep breath before groaning. "maybe yixing should come instead of you. yoongi… we're gonna go pick up jimin from the airport. he's coming down for the holidays."
yoongi's chest constricted uncomfortably. "no. he got thanksgiving. i get christmas. we trade every year."
now yixing was alert, scooting closer and hovering over yoongi almost. he inched himself closer to the cellphone and yoongi pulled the phone from his ear and put it on speaker. "can't we just do one holiday as a family? can you please try at least this once? it's not good for jiah, or for your mother, or for you and me. just this once." he broke off and in a lower voice, murmured a, "please."
yixing nodded furiously, reaching for his shoulder and giving it a friendly squeeze. yoongi in turn shook his head vigorously, wide eyed. "dad, i don't think--."
"he'll do it! i'll make sure he's up bright and early! don't worry, mr min!"
"i'm hanging up now! bye!" he took the phone and slid it away from them, wrestling yoongi in the process. "yoongi, maybe this is what you need!" he struggled to flip the position, giving up and letting himself be pinned down against the cold hardwood floor. "it's what you need. i've been sheltering you for years and this needs to come to a stop."
yoongi looked up at yixing, deep frown on the verge of permanence as he tried to formulate a rebuttal. nothing came to mind. he couldn't find a way to defend himself against this.
i'm fine was a lie.
i'm over it was another lie.
i don't want to see him was even worse.
so he sighed, still frowning but lifting his head up just enough to kiss yixing's nose in utter defeat.
Chapter 3: LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal (Terminal B)
yoongi stretched with a groan, snoozing his alarm for the third time but actually sitting up this time when he smelled the food. heracles was sprawled at his feet and stirred at the movement, opening one eye to send a death glare at yoongi.
"you're supposed to be our watchdog, you know? not a pampered brat." the dog opened his eyes again to make eye contact as he gave him a disdainful scoff. he turned away from the doberman to fetch his medications.
pill one, pill two. the cycle continued. he got ready fairly quickly, carelessly brushing his hair after he washed his face and brushed his teeth. he then put on random clothes.
it's not like he had to impress anybody, he thought bitterly.
yixing was waiting for him with breakfast, and a hug of encouragement was enough to somewhat thaw him and sit him down. they ate side by side, yixing scooting his chair closer to yoongi while the younger poured him a cup of juice. the silence settled comfortably at first, until yoongi's thoughts began to race.
"yixing…" he tried, stabbing at his breakfast aimlessly. he couldn't get himself to eat. every bite tasted like nothing and swallowing was almost impossible. "i'm scared."
the older stiffened next to him, not knowing what to say. he reached for yoongi's free hand slowly, unsure. yoongi subconsciously linked their index fingers together. "i've sheltered you too much. i'm sorry. but i promise you, yoongi. whatever happens today will happen only because it needs to. and, whatever it is, i'm sure it'll behoove you. besides," yixing tried, looking away for a moment but looking back at him right after. "i know it's not much, but you have me. we got each other, in whatever shape way or form that may be. i'll be here when you come back home, just like you've always been here for me."
"yixing--," yoongi tried to protest, looking up from his mess of a plate to stare into frail eyes. the older shook his head, however, and the words on the tip of yoongi's tongue went unheard.
their relationship was a weird one.
the term soul lovers was weird, too. yixing had told him it was different than soulmates. he insisted yoongi's "friend soulmate" was namjoon, and that his "romantic soulmate" was yet to come, and that's why yixing was there. not quite a forever romance, not quite his bestest friend, but someone whose soul still resonated with his. much like most of what his friends said, yoongi accepted yixing's definition and rolled with it.
they've been lovers for three years, if he could call it that. it was nothing official, yet they were exclusive. however, they were both aware the other's heart yearned for someone else. it never got in the way of what they had, it was a separate thing. yoongi had told him the moment jeongguk finally accepted yixing's advances that they'd go back to just friends.
yixing had kind of given up on jeongguk but he still liked him, after so many years.
"what are you thinking?" yixing murmured, watching as yoongi's fingers had gone limp around the fork.
"you," yoongi replied automatically. "i'm glad i have you. that's all." his voice painfully trailed off in the end, cheeks heating up embarrassingly. yixing grinned, letting go of yoongi's finger to lightly pinch his cheeks. standing up from his seat with a stretch, he groaned before asking yoongi if he had taken his medication.
and the rest of the morning went as usual until yoongi's dad called.
to be honest, hate wasn't something yoongi thought much about anymore. but if there was one thing he actually wholeheartedly hated was the LA traffic.
and he was willingly driving into it today.
on his first day of a very well deserved holiday.
he shook his head and made his way to his old house.
every time he drove up here, he felt weird butterflies in his stomach. so many memories, regrets, mistakes, tears... but it was too late to take anything back. he learned from it. he's become a decent person. or, at least he's been told. he was doing great now, though. he had good friends, great parents, a job he loved... the only thing he needed was…
no, he thought, reprimanding himself. it was shameful, really, the way his heart discredited the happiness he had now because it didn't come from jimin.
a person whose name yoongi couldn't even say out loud.
"damn it, yoongi. just say his name once. just once is okay. be casual. be strong." knuckles whitened as he struggled to focus on the road. "be strong."
he made it to his old home at exactly seven o'clock.
his parents and little sister were waiting for him outside already, equipped for the crisp december morning. yoongi handed jiah, his baby sister, a small kitkat. "sir yixing says hello," he said with a smile, relaying the message. jiah grinned, shoving the chocolate in a pocket. "morning," he said to everyone as his parents settled in. his mum sat with him in the front seat, his dad and jiah riding in the back seat.
his mum had learned how to read him, and yoongi easily read the worry on her face when they made eye contact. "yoongi… are you sure you can do this? god knows i want to finally get over this but if you can't handle it i refuse to force you."
he shrugged. "i'm already here. it would be a waste."
"big brother misses jimin!" jiah sang. yoongi froze, startled by her loud and sudden input. their dad hushed her, and yoongi drove the rest of the way without a word.
traffic wasn't as bad as yoongi and his parents had anticipated so they got to the airport a bit early. the international terminal was always buzzing with activity, the busy atmosphere usually serving as comfort to yoongi when he travelled. today, though, he felt restless. everything was too crowded. too loud. it put him at edge as he tried to take deep but discreet breaths.
jiah was perched on his shoulders, searching the crowd with small, green and blue binoculars. "see anything, captain?" yoongi asked. it was easy to pretend he was fine if he focused on his baby sister's weight on him.
"nothing but sleepy zombies with terrible fashion. who dressed them? my dad?"
yoongi found himself laughing at that. "it's an airport, jiji. it's not a fashion show. they're allowed to look like unfashionable zombies."
jiah pouted, but it of course went unseen. "jimin always looks good."
of course he did , he thought bitterly. he's a model. models look good.
"do you think he missed me?" jiah asked shyly. yoongi felt his heart twinge at that, bringing him back from his thoughts to his sister.
"well, duh, jiah. why do you think he's coming over? who wouldn't miss you, anyway? you're adorable!"
yoongi nodded, smiling. "super loveable!"
"i love you, yooni."
"and i love you, jiji," he replied, ignoring the way his voice wavered. now was not the time.
a few minutes of more standing later, their parents went to sit down instead of standing there and waiting. yoongi's restlessness kicked in even more, pacing back and forth slowly with jiah still perched on him.
it's been a long time.
so much has changed.
yet, his heart shook from the anticipation of seeing him in person in over half a decade. could he call it anticipation? was it dread? he was all over the place, scanning the crowd so erratically that there was no way he would even be able to spot him like that. what was he looking for, anyway? he didn't know what the younger was wearing, or if his hair was still blonde (the magazine cover he last took a peek at showed him with blonde hair), or what colour his suitcase was. in a sea of faces, wouldn't jimin be just another one?
no, he told himself. of course it wouldn't.
he felt jiah jolt to attention on his shoulders and his heartbeat mimicked her excitement, feeling like it would eventually break past his sternum.
"i see him! i see jimin!"
"is that my jiji?" he heard a voice say.
when that voice made it to his ears a piece of his somewhat healed heart splintered. he turned around slowly, just a bit to his left, and immediately met with a black haired man. the ringing in yoongi's ears successfully drowned jiah's squeals of elation.
that face… so familiar and yet so distant… the same cheeks, just more sculpted, as was his jaw. his eyes, unwavering waves of heat against his own, were still the same deep chocolate he had fallen for. lips rosey and plump, pressed into a contemptuous line as yoongi fought to swallow. he tried to say his name, but the younger's cold gaze froze him in place. the ringing in his ears suddenly stopped and the bustling and noise of the airport overwhelmed him, along with jiah's babbling right above him. he stepped back once, then once more. jimin's eyes softened for a fraction of a second, lips parting to say something, but he composed himself and sighed.
"yeah. hi to you, too. can i get jiah?" yoongi nodded fervently, chest hurting with every note the younger uttered. he unlatched jiah from his shoulders and carefully set her down on the floor as their parents approached them.
"i'll take your carryon," yoongi fumbled, extending his hand. jimin arched a brow at the offer but held it out to him before picking jiah up in his arms. something shiny caught yoongi's gaze, and his body processed it before his mind did, freezing as his parents hugged him and greeted him with excitement.
he couldn't stop the words that tumbled from his lips as his eyes zeroed in on the shiny band on his left ring finger.
"you're engaged? holy shit, congratulations!"
the phrase was an automatic one, one he had once practised over and over but slowly forgot about, since he figured he'd never see jimin again. however, this was a moment yoongi had anticipated, and he naturally said it without much thinking. the smile jimin shot at him was dim, and his eyes never morphed into those crescent moons he had fallen for. a cold thanks directed at him, he turned to their parents and began to gush.
"surprise! that's why i'm here! kind of! i wanted to introduce you to my fiance! he just had to use the toilet. do we have room for all our stuff? we brought three suitcases." he dismissively pointed to the bright yellow suitcase parked next to him that yoongi hadn't even noticed. his mum took jimin's left hand and enthusiastically examined the ring. yoongi's ears began to ring again.
this was too much.
he wasn't ready for this.
not only did he have to see jimin, he had to see his engagement ring and meet the fiance, too?
bullshit. this was all bullshit.
he slung jimin's carryon on his shoulder, his sudden movement making jiah tear her attention away from the commotion to look at him.
her smile fell from her face as he saw the moisture accumulating in yoongi's eyes. her brother wanted to cry. she hated that. hated it so much. she tangled her fingers together, biting the inside of her cheek. she couldn't think of anything to cheer him up.
until she did.
she dug for the kitkat in her jacket pocket and walked the short distance to him, grabbing his clenched hand and wringing his fingers apart before depositing the small candy bar into his palm. yoongi looked down in confusion and jiah offered him a grin.
"sir yixing says hi."
yoongi's lips twitched into a watery smile as he flicked her forehead. "you're not allowed to be this smart. you're a baby."
"a baby?!" jiah grumbled indignantly. "i'm seven! that's a lot! namjoonie says that's two thousand and five hundred days!"
jimin observed the exchange with a poker face, left hand clenching.
sir yixing says hi, jiah's voice rang in his head.
yoongi unwrapped the kitkat and gave half to jiah, grinning more easily. the smile fell a little when he met jimin's gaze, and the younger noticed the way his eyes lost brightness once again.
good, he thought to himself. hate me.