There’s a soft series of taps from your bedroom window.
You frown and gently swing your legs off the bed, slipping into your fluffy blue slippers. You wrap your blanket around you tightly as you tiptoe towards the far side of the room, your eyes glancing at the alarm clock on the way.
Your eyebrows rise when you split your curtains to find Jungkook, waiting patiently on the other side. He’s wearing a beanie, loose black track pants and one of his signature white shirts, an outfit that makes your confusion only grow. You’re not surprised to find him on your windowsill per se, given this wasn’t exactly an unusual event – he’d been your neighbour since you were 5 and you’d both been sneaking into each others bedrooms for secret sleepovers for almost as long- but rather, you’re surprised because he was supposed to be at Jimin’s birthday bash, where the rest of your cohort currently was.
You’d been unable to go, still recovering from a bad case of the flu that had knocked you out for the past week, passed along to you by the guy currently balancing on your window sill.
To make up for it, Jungkook had promised to give you a run down of everything that went down at said party as soon as he got home tomorrow, your mum having put her foot down about anyone interrupting your recovery time this evening, even if it was Jungkook. I mean it, (Y/N), no sneaking him in either, I’m not stupid, you need to rest. So you definitely weren’t expecting him. And definitely not in such comfy clothes. Even if he was coming straight from the party, the Jungkook you knew would have been too lazy to go home to get changed first.
He gives you a little wave as you quickly unlock the window, pushing it out carefully so it doesn’t knock him off the side of the house. It’s a tricky manoeuvre you’d both perfected a long time ago.
“Are you okay?” you whisper, once he’s inside, looking him over for some kind of injury but finding nothing out of the ordinary.
“Of course, I’m not the one who’s sick,” he grins, closing the window behind him and slowly pulling the curtains shut. His smile widens as he takes you in, bundled in the quilt as you are, “Well, you look adorable.”
You scrunch your nose at him.
“I thought I told you Mum didn’t want you coming over tonight?” you whisper, eyes glancing warily to the door, as if she’d come barging in at any moment and catch you both red-handed.
You wait for him to elaborate, but he just grins at you, his lack of response making you move forward to playfully punch him in the stomach.
“Jungkook, are you trying to summon my mother’s wrath down upon us?” Your voice is a harsh whisper, “don’t you remember what happened last time?”
You weren’t going to rehash the event but let’s just say, Jungkook’s new motorcycle and your mother’s new fence were involved, and your punishment had seen you banned from sleepovers with Jungkook for a whole month. A punishment that had been extended to two months when your mum had found him in your room two weeks in. It had not been pretty.
“It’s not like she’s been very keen on me coming over recently anyway. It’ll be fine.”
Well, he had a point.
She’d never outrightly said anything, apart from earlier tonight, but lately you’d been getting the feeling that she wasn’t very keen on the sleepovers anymore. You suspected it was because she’d started to pick up on the crush you’d begun harbouring for him at the end of last year (okay, maybe it was slightly more than a mere crush, probably more in the realm of full-out love). You’d been friends with Jungkook for so long that the realisation that you considered him as something more had been surprising, to say the least. Something you’d boycotted for a solid few months before you’d given in and accepted your feelings.
But as far as you knew, for Jungkook, you were still safely planted in the friend-zone, so you didn’t understand her hesitation. You were perfectly happy pining away in silence and in secret. Sure, he made your heart flutter more often than not but you liked to believe you were good at hiding your feelings. And you were. He’d never let on that he’d noticed anything changing. So it was all fine, right?
“Just don’t come too close,” you sigh, covering your mouth with the blanket, “wouldn’t want to re-infect you.”
“That’s not how biology works, (Y/N),” he murmurs, a hand reaching up to ruffle the top of your head, a lopsided smile on his face.
“Why are you here?” you roll your eyes, ducking under his arm, shuffling back to your bed. You plonk yourself down on the left side of your queen where you’d set up a heater, propped up, perhaps a little precariously, on your desk chair.
“Isn’t it obvious? To check up on my dearest friend.”
“Uh huh. If you lost that grin, I might actually believe you.”
“How are you feeling?” he chuckles, as he shuffles to sit on the bed beside you, folding his legs underneath him. You choose to ignore how cute he looks as he blinks at you.
“Like death. Thanks again for this,” you send him an unimpressed gaze as you motion at yourself – nose a little red, eyes puffy, attractive stuff- watching as he rests his face on his palm, propped up by an elbow on his knee, “really appreciate it.”
“Please, you almost look healthy.”
You hum, slanting your eyes at him before, “So, I guess the party was no good?”
His eyes dart away from yours as he sighs, pulling idly at a loose thread from your quilt, “It’s Jimin. A party of his could never be anything less than amazing. You know that.”
“Right. Guess that clarifies why you’re here and not there partying it up then.”
But Jungkook wasn’t listening anymore.
“Well, that’s not safe,” he murmurs distractedly. His eyes were focused on something to your right and when you follow his gaze, you notice that the heater had started to wobble a little, looking even unsteadier than before. To be fair, it was less the heater’s fault than your old desk chair’s. It had been passed down to you from your Dad, even though it probably should have been thrown out a long time ago. It was missing one wheel, chunks of its padding and the vibrant black the chair had arrived in a decade ago, was now nothing but a faded grey. So, yes, while it wasn’t exactly in tip-top shape anymore, you still loved the thing something reckless and couldn’t bare the thought of parting with it.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine-” you begin to say but Jungkook is already up, retrieving a few books from your bookshelf, the corners of your mouth lifting a little when you notice he only grabs the books he knows you hate and had received as Christmas presents from clueless relatives.
Apparently, when reading was your hobby, some people thought that meant you’d literally enjoy every book out there, when in fact, no, Aunt Susan, you didn’t happen to need or want a lover’s guide to toilet etiquette. Jungkook had had a field day when you’d shown him that particular gem. When you’d brandished How to poo on a date, he’d had about 45 laughing breaks before he’d even managed to read the full title out. Seriously, I need to meet your Aunt, he’d cackled. Of course, you’d never allow that to happen. The fact that she lived in Sweden made seeing that endeavour through very, very easy.
As Jungkook goes about stabilising the chair, and the heater, your eyes rake over him, over his above average form (okay, fine, perfect specimen of a body). And yet, as you watch the little wrinkle between his eyebrows become more defined as he focuses on his task, the tense line of his back and shoulders as he worked efficiently, you also notice the way he lingers slightly, his hands moving slowly as he rights the heater to the best of his ability. It was more than just concentration. It was unlike him to dodge your questions.
“Jungkook,” you say quietly.
“Mm,” he murmurs, as he fixes the last book into place, giving the chair a nudge, smiling when it no longer budged.
“Nothing’s-” he begins to say, pausing when he turns to face you, taking in your expression, your raised eyebrows, his words coming out a lot less certain when he finishes, “wrong.”
“Right,” you snort, patting the bed beside you.
Jungkook groans and slumps down on the bed beside you, flopping face down.
“Why did you leave the party?” you prompt, when he just lies there.
Jungkook muffles something into your quilt cover that you can’t make out.
Jungkook’s head turns to the side, eyes looking up at you, “I said I never went.”
Your face twists in confusion, “What?”
He sighs, pushing up to rest on his elbows, eyeing you warily, “I didn’t go to the party.”
“Right. But why is my question?”
Jungkook presses his lips together, one hand leaving his face to start fiddling with the duvet again, finger tracing idly along the intricate design. Your eyes dart between his roaming finger and distracted face. This was very… weird. Jungkook was being very-
“Why are you being so weird?” you frown at him.
“So weird,” you shake your head at him, tutting under your breath.
“You’re weird,” he quips back. You roll your eyes.
“Then why are you avoiding my questions?”
“I’ve answered your questions.”
“You’re not even looking at me.”
“Yes, I am.”
“No, you’re not.”
Only that he’s really not. He’s still stubbornly tracing the designs. You purse your lips at him, an action he doesn’t see, of course, before a thought hits you.
“Wait, what on earth have you been doing for the past three hours then?” He was supposed to be picking up Taehyung sat 9:00pm. You slump down so your head is beside his hand, trying to catch his gaze but he refuses to meet it.
“Debating,” he answers eventually, around a heavy sigh.
“Debating what?” You shuffle forward, wriggling like a caterpillar in your blanket cocoon, until your head all but covers his hand, immobilising it.
“Whether or not to come.”
You frown and there’s a beat of silence as you try to wrap your head around that.
“For three hours?” you eventually ask, voice a tamed incredulousness.
Jungkook takes a deep breath, chest puffing out a bit like he’s bracing himself for something. As he exhales, his mouth opening, his eyes finally meet yours. However, the moment they do, you see a flicker of uncertainty flash across his features and he closes his mouth again, his shoulders deflating. He closes his eyes for the briefest of seconds and when they blink back open, the seriousness from before is now replaced by something significantly less somber.
“I have something to show you.”
“Wait Jungkook, what did you me-”
But he’s already pushing himself up to his knees, “I thought it would cheer you up.”
“Jungkook, don’t-” you’re trying to sit up but you’re struggling. You can’t find the part in your covers, thanks to the wriggling from before, so you weren’t getting much leverage to force yourself back up to an upright position.
You couldn’t let Jungkook brush off what he was about to confide in you. As far as you knew, he’d never hesitated before coming over. Why would he? What reason could he possibly have to debate coming over? And for three hours at that. It wasn’t like you were in a fight, and even in the rare times that you did have legit, heated arguments, the both of you weren’t the types to hold grudges so by the end of any quarrels you’d be fine again. Therefore, you really wanted to know what was troubling him, one of your oldest friends. It must be serious if he was trying his best to avoid it, even after putting it off for three hours.
“Jungkook-” you try again, attempting to roll yourself up the pillows, to no prevail mind you.
Jungkook chuckles at your failed attempts, eventually taking pity on you, leaning down to wrap a hand on either side of where your waist approximately was under all that fabric, gently lifting you until you were sitting rather than lying in your cocoon. Even through all those layers you could still feel how warm his hands were, the contact sending a shiver up your spine. You wouldn’t mind it if he were to let his hands linger there, to let him wrap his arms completely around you, squishing you to his body but you squash down the longing immediately, before it has a chance to fully form. It was not the time. It was never the time.
He releases you as soon as you’re steady, resting back on his heels. You tell yourself you don’t miss their warmth. You never do.
You frown at him, “Jungkook, tell-”
“Look, let me do this first, okay?” Before you argue he slides the beanie from his head and you choke on air as his hair, quite literally, pops straight up. And it doesn’t flop back down.
“Ring a bell?” he grins and he begins moving his head from side to side. He’d made ten small pony-tails around the top of his head and goodness, you didn’t even want to know how much styling gel and hairspray he’d used to get them to remain standing at attention. He looked ridiculous; the very definition of an utter moron, but you could still feel the gigantic grin that was making its way across your mouth.
Of course, it rang a bell.
You’d been randomly flicking through cartoons on a lazy Saturday afternoon last week, settling on one that seemed reasonable and about half way through there’d been a character with hair exactly like what Jungkook was currently sporting, attempting to use it as a way of attracting females. The character would bob his head from side to side, making sure his hair jiggled while his body did a weird wiggle of its own, which was apparently a flawless, woman-enamouring strategy. Needless to say, for some reason you’d thought it was the funniest thing you’d ever seen, so much so that you’d been in literal tears. Eventually, Jungkook’s laughter had joined yours, though you suspected his amusement was directed more at you throwing yourself at him, cackling like there was no tomorrow, than the TV show.
“You didn’t,” you breathed, trying to hold your laughter at bay but when he eyes you with a faux serene expression, arching an eyebrow your composure breaks. You erupt in a fit of giggles and before you know it, you’re back to lying on the bed, body heaving with your laughter as you watch him wiggle and jiggle about in the most bizarre yet comical way. You love the way his mouth pouts; the way he pulls funny faces in a way that somehow still makes him look perfect.
It was moments like this that were the most difficult for you. The most difficult to keep a reign on your emotions, to stop your heart from stuttering, from aching. Small gestures like this that made you feel like you were just about ready to burst from affection.
It’s moments like this where you remember that he does care about you. Just not in the way you hoped he would.
For the millionth time you find yourself wondering just how do you hide your heart from your eyes whilst beaming at someone for doing something so thoughtful, something so silly to make you laugh and feel better? Someone riddle you that, please.
“I’ve decided to adopt the guy’s seduction strategies. What do you think?”
He demonstrates another dramatic head tilt, adding an overenthusiastic hip thrust to complete the action, sending the both of you back into round of hushed laughter.
“I feel like it’s easily the best decision you’ve ever made,” you grin up at him. You convince yourself that you imagine the tips of Jungkook’s ears becoming red, imagine the soft dusting of rouge on his cheeks too. You’re both breathing slightly heavier. When Jungkook stops, resting back against his heels once more, his hands retrieve his beanie, pulling it back over his head before they fall to his lap, and for a few moments only the sounds of your unsteady breaths can be heard.
You study him, your smile slowly fading back into concern. He’s avoiding your eyes again but even so, you can see the thoughts racing through his mind. You’ve half the mind to unroll yourself and take his hand, to offer some comfort, but the other half of you is imploring you to wait, to let him get out what he came here to say at his own pace. Heck he’d been debating for three hours. It obviously wasn’t something easy.
“(Y/N),” he finally starts and your body tenses, preparing yourself for whatever this was, “I-”
You were suddenly very aware of your position. “Jungkook,” he breathes out at your interruption, eyes finally finding yours, “I’m so sorry, but this seems like a conversation I should be sitting for. Do you mind propping me back up?” You give him a sheepish smile.
A short chuckle bursts from his mouth, “Of course.” He gently manoeuvres you back into a sitting position with a smile, hands lingering around your waist slightly, “That better?”
“Much. Fire away,” you smile gently, wanting him to feel at ease. Whatever it was, you’d help in any way you could. He releases a long breath.
“(Y/N),” he tries again. No words follow and you recognise the frown that comes to rest on his features. Exasperation. Frustration. He’s never been good at expressing how he feels, what he wants to say. He rubs at the back of his neck, something he always did when he was nervous. What a combo of emotions. Your heart warms even more at his nervousness, the need to comfort growing unbearable.
“Jungkook,” you murmur, “seriously, just get it out. You know I won’t judge. I’m sorry if I’ve done anything to make you doubt our friendship in some way. If it takes you three whole hours of debating before you find the courage to come and confide in me, that’s not okay.”
Jungkook’s shaking his head before you even finish, a deep frown pulling at his brows, “No, no, how could you- don’t even say that. I was being a-just, you’re a good friend. You could never be unsupportive. That’s not it, okay?”
You consider him for a second, biting your lip, feeling your insides sigh in relief.
“Okay,” you say slowly, “Then what is it?”
He shifts uncomfortably, dropping his gaze, before a nervous laugh escapes him, “You know when I was talking to Jimin he made this sound so easy-”
You try not to be offended at the news that he had told Jimin first, but your face must be more transparent than you’d been hoping because when Jungkook looks back up at you, his eyes widen and he hurries to say, “- no, damn it. Man, I suck at this. You’ll understand in a second why you weren’t the first, or at least why I needed input from someone that wasn’t you first before I- just, just bear with me, okay?”
“I guess le party animal Jimbo does give some good advice when he wants to,” you try to jest, but his eyes turn pleading.
“Please don’t, not right now,” his voice sounds strained.
You duck your head, cheeks suddenly blazing, mumbling softly, “Sorry.”
“No, it’s fine, it’s-” he lets out a frustrated sound as he rakes a hand through his hair. You don’t think you’ve seen Jungkook this frazzled before. He was making you nervous, your stomach clenching uncomfortably, preparing for… you didn’t even know what you were preparing yourself for but the more Jungkook dragged it out, the more anxious you were becoming.
“I just want to say in advance that I don’t want anything to change, and I hope it doesn’t, though I suspect it inevitably will for a period of time, but I’m willing to risk it because it doesn’t sit well with me anymore, keeping this from you. I thought you should know and,” he says, eyes cautious as he watches you, watching every small movement, every shift of muscle, every expression on your face, “…and Jimin may or may not have said he’d tell you himself if I didn’t hurry up and get over myself and tell you. So there’s also that.”
Okay, there was a lot to address in that - willing to risk it? Willing to risk what Jungkook? - but you decide on the most pressing.
“Jungkook, you know- you don’t have to force yourself to tell me anything you don’t want to, especially if its just because someone else is pressuring you to do so,” you murmur, eyebrows drawing together with worry, body so tense, so alert.
“No, no, I want to tell you. I’ve wanted to tell you for a long-” he lets out a breath, “long time. Trust me, the metaphorical kick in the butt is totally warranted.”
You try to process that. Jungkook had been keeping something from you for a long time. He hadn’t felt comfortable telling you for a long time? You bite your lip. Jungkook wouldn’t keep anything from you, not unless it was something he thought would hurt you - oh my God.
“Jungkook,” you breath quietly, dread filling your voice, “Are-are you sick? Sick sick?”
“No!” he rushes to say, “No-”
“Then, Is someone dying?”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that. No, I’m fine. Everyone’s fine.”
You’re only feel reassured for a second before your worry returns. If it wasn’t that, then what was it?
He slowly shuffles closer towards you, planting himself right beside you, eyes downcast, breathing in and out a couple of times before his eyes dart up to meet yours.
“(Y/N),” he says slowly, before he swallows. He looks petrified but he doesn’t look away from you. In the corner of your eye you can see his hands clenching and unclenching around the corner of your quilt.
Your heart drops. W-wait-
“(Y/N), you’ve been my friend for over a decade,” he continues, voice so soft, “you know how much you mean to me.”
Your throat suddenly feels drier than it has all week, your heart pounding alarmingly loud in your ears. He couldn’t be – there was no way…
His gaze doesn’t waver and everything stutters. Wait, was he waiting for you to answer? You manage a disjointed nod.
“And I assume I mean something to you?” His gaze is focused, direct; you can’t look away even if you’d tried.
“Of course you do,” you manage to breath out, voice raspy.
You watch him swallow, nodding, “I’m glad”, then more softly, “I’m glad.”
You’re frozen, your whole body strung tight with the amount of tension in the air. You were afraid to breathe, your quilt cocoon suddenly feeling too constricting, suffocating, the heat poignant but you’re too afraid too move, effectively paralysed by the boy beside you.
“But I…” he licks his lips, “I think I mean something different to you… than what you mean to me.”
A shaky breath leaves your mouth. It couldn’t be. No, you didn’t dare to think it. You would not dare to think it.
But how couldn’t you when he was looking at you like that? Wasn’t that how you looked at him when you were certain he wasn’t looking? Wasn’t that how you’d dreamed he’d look at you one day?
The feelings you’d been burying deep, suppressing with all your might, were starting to make their way back up to the surface. You were scared of what would happen when they did. You didn’t think you’d be able to shove them back down once they were out in the open.
“What do you think you mean to me?” you hear yourself say.
His eyes turn pained at your question, and he takes a long breath, so you force out another instead, gathering all your courage.
“W-what do I mean to you?” your eyes dart between his, the hairs on your arms rising. You wonder if he could hear the incredulity in your tone, whether he could hear the hint of hope.
“What do you mean to me?” he repeats, gulping, the slightest trace of fear accompanying the raw look of vulnerability in his eyes. His fingers clench into fists, and your stomach clenches along with his action.
A wave of your own fear hits you so suddenly, so strongly, you can’t breathe. It’s as if you’re perched at the edge of a cliff, seconds away from leaping or tumbling of its fringe, but you’re so afraid that you’re wrong, that you’re mis-reading, that this isn’t actually happening, that you find your mouth rambling-
“Jungkook, it’s okay,” you hurry to say, “it’s fine. You don’t have to - we don’t have to - it’s okay. Don’t-”
Go there. Don’t say it. What if- Maybe you can stop this before you both jump and rui-
But Jungkook ignores you, if anything, his gaze becomes even more determined.
“…Everything,” he says.
You freeze. Everything freezes and he looks coiled just as tightly, but his words are strong and confident, “You’re bloody everything.”
And as quickly as it had come, your fear vanishes, the warmth in his eyes curling around you, your heart pounding in your chest.
“E-everything,” you have to clear your throat, “in-in a platonic way?” The words are whispers in the space between you. You know the answer. But you have to ask. Have to make sure.
There’s a small shake of his head, the slightest lift in the corner of his lips, “No, not in a platonic way. Definitely not in a platonic way.”
You let out a shaky breath and you can feel your eyes becoming wet.
“Do you mean it?” you ask, voice breaking, “you’re not messing with me, right?” Your heart feels like it’s about to implode. Heck, you felt you were about to burst with the amount of emotion whirling within you.
“No, I’m not messing with you.” He looked so exposed, so unsure. If only he knew. Goodness you wanted to tackle him, you wanted to… your cocoon is too much, it’s once comforting embrace now feels claustrophobic.
“Unwrap me,” you plead, and his eyes widen at the sudden impatience in your voice, “please, unwrap me.” Hurry.
Thankfully, he does as he’s told, quickly lifting you to untuck the blanket, finding the opening and releasing your body from its clutches.
As soon as you’re free, you’re closing the distance between you, throwing yourself at him, almost taking him out as wrap your arms around his neck but he manages to remain kneeling and you dig your face against his chest. You try and blink your tears away. You can’t believe it. You can’t believe-
“Jungkook,” you mumble repeatedly into his chest, squeezing him tight. His arms wrap around you instantly, but you can tell its more out of habit than anything, can still feel the shock in the slight stiffness of his arms. You wait for his brain to catch up.
The moment it does his arms tighten around you and can feel a breathy, incredulous laugh by your ear.
“Oh my God, you like me too.”
You giggle, pulling back, your hands lifting to gently frame his face, “I like you too. So much.”
His answering smile is radiant, warming you from the tips of your toes to your fingers. You know you’re beaming just as wide. He gently pulls you forward, thumbs gently running under your eyes, wiping away a couple of stray tears before pressing your foreheads together.
“Well, screw it. I may as well go all out then. I’m fucking in love with you, (Y/N).”
You laugh, hands moving to squeeze him tighter. Gah, you felt invincible. You were confident you could take out the Hulk with a single punch.
“Well that’s fan-freaking-tastic, Jungkook.”
“Mm, because I love you.”
You see his eyes dart briefly to your lips and you can’t help your smile from widening.
“Wanna know something else?”
His brows rise questioningly.
“If I wasn’t sick right now, I’d kiss you.”
His eyes widen, his gaze dipping down to your mouth again, sucking in a shaky breath, “You’re not that sick anymore. And you’ve been breathing on me for the last 5 minutes. If we’re going by your version of biology, I’d be re-infected anyway. So, therefore, in conclusion, you should definitely do what you were just saying you would do, if you weren’t sick.”
You snicker, eyes shining as you lift a hand to his face, placing it gently against his cheek, running a finger down the sharp line of his jaw.
“But think of the germs.”
“I want all of your germs,” he answers immediately, inching closer. You giggle, resting forward to lean your forehead against his once more, your cheeks aching from smiling.
“You really debated for three whole hours?”
“Aren’t we going to kiss now?” he whines.
“Whether or not to come and confess to me?” you ignore him, enjoying the petulant pout that follows.
“Yes, I did,” he answers quickly, “Now, where are we on the kissing situation?”
“Man, guess I better thank Jimbo for giving you a metaphorical kick in the butt, hey?”
“(Y/N).” Your name is a frustrated sound, a mix between an outright groan and whine, and your smile only widens.
“Jimbo really coming through-”
“Guess I’ll do it myself then,” he says to himself, patience obviously running out as he closes the distance between you. Your eyes flutter shut as his lips connect with yours, something you’d never thought get to feel. Something you’d only ever dreamed about. You still couldn’t believe this was real. If this turned out to be some final flu-induced illusion, you’d… heck, you had no idea what you would do.
But no, it felt much too real. You couldn’t have dreamt up how amazing his lips felt against yours. The way your body lit up under his hands. The way he was holding you, tugging you closer, commanding your attention, dominating your space, making your nerves electrify.
You smile against his lips, pushing away his beanie as you press closer. You’d, of course, forgotten about the state of his hair and so when your fingers go to slide into his locks and instead come in contact with the hardened spikes you pull back in confusion.
“What-” Laughter ripples from your mouth when you realise. Jungkook looks a little dazed but smiles, so very fond, when he focuses on you.
You’re shaking your head, tugging on a spike, “Man, I still can’t believe you did this.”
Jungkook shrugs, “I figured I might be able to get a ‘pity yes’ if everything went to shit.”
You giggle, arms curling back around his neck, “Lucky you picked such a flawless wooing strategy then, hey?”
Jungkook hums, “Guess so.”
You study him, biting your lip, still barely resisting the urge to pinch yourself.
“It doesn’t feel real,” you confess quietly, “are you really mine? All mine?”
Jungkook just smiles wide.
“C’mere,” he murmurs, hand coming to rest on your jaw, pulling you back towards him, and with a happiness you’ve never known before, you let him.