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a sky full of stars

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the night before he is meant to leave for the city—to pack up and uproot everything that he has made here, leave behind every bit of himself that he’s pulled out just to make himself fit—yoongi goes to the circus.

he stands just outside, surveying the massive striped tent as other circus-goers brush past him, eager to get inside and discover the world of the circus. yoongi can’t help being skeptical despite the excited shouts of children, adults of all ages handing over just a measly sum to be granted access. it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but yoongi knows—this circus isn’t just a circus. he knows that when he steps inside, he’ll be transported to a new world, maybe even literally.

he’s never been. it’s—not the scepticism that has kept him away, but his understanding of exactly how the circus works. yoongi has stayed away because the circus is made of magic, and something about that scares him more than he can put into words.

because yoongi is made of magic, too.

he squints up at the tent again, rolling a coin between his fingers. it’s his last chance—he’s leaving tomorrow morning, heading out of this little town that has never been a home to him. he’s going to find a place he can belong, a place that won’t make him feel like there’s something wrong with him merely for existing. the circus comes every year, stays for a few nights, moves on. yoongi is moving on, too, but first—the circus.

beside him, he hears a young girl chirping about how she wants to see the fairy dancers like last year. he watches as she disappears into the tent, holding her mother’s hand. yoongi considers what he might find, takes a deep breath, and then follows.

at the entrance there stands a woman in typical circus garb—something red and black and white, striped. she wears a top hat. yoongi hands over his coin, watches as she smirks at him just a little; not everyone pays with a coin. some people find a way not to pay at all, and some people try but are denied access. the circus doesn’t ask for monetary compensation for what it does here—all it asks for is a token of what someone needs most. yoongi, leaving home with nothing but the shirt on his back, figures what he needs most is money.

the woman looks at him. “i’m afraid this won’t be enough,” she says, handing the coin back to him. yoongi frowns, asking, “enough? do you need two?” and she smirks at him again, reaching out for the person behind him: an elderly couple who hand over an old watch. the woman examines it for a moment before she turns her hand, the watch disappearing before she gestures for them to go through.

time, yoongi thinks. what they need is time.

he looks down at the coin in his hand, turns it once, twice. he does need money, but maybe it’s not what he needs most. he thinks of—the packed bag in the corner of his room, the bus ticket on his dresser. thinks of the last time he saw his parents, how they said, they’re nothing but freaks. yoongi needs money, but what he needs more is—a home.

yoongi puts the coin back in his pocket, and instead feels… his house key. he pulls it out, looks down at it. sacrificing his keys to be let into a circus seems silly, but—for some reason, now that he hasn’t been let in once, he really wants it. so he gets back in line, hands the key over. this time, the woman grins, twisting the key through her fingers until it disappears, and then she gestures for him to enter.

when yoongi pulls aside the entrance of the tent, he finds not a circular ring filled with sand or hay, not wooden bleachers where people can sit and watch clowns or lion tamers. what he finds is endless—crowds of people mill about in front of him, stopping at raised wooden platforms spread through the tent where magicians are performing. he sees smaller tents advertising food and merchandise, sees larger tents further down that must contain some of the other acts, ones that don’t require a small audience. he can’t see either side of the tent, can’t see the back—it just goes on, as if by magic.

it goes on, by magic.

there’s music playing, some classic circus music he might have expected, but there’s something dangerous in it. a boy runs by with a massive bag of popcorn, nearly knocking into yoongi, and another boy chases after him, laughing—holding what looks like a wand with light emitting from the tip. if he looks up, he thinks he can see—stars, although that doesn’t make sense. none of this makes sense.

but. as he looks at all the circus has to offer, he feels for the first time that these are his people. these are the people who are proud of who they are, of what they were born with, and aren’t afraid to show it to others. they don’t have to hide. they don’t want to hide, and yoongi takes his first steps into the circus, determined to find what makes them so unashamed of who they are.

he moves through the crowd, peeking at the different performers on their platforms; he sees a woman who must have strength magic as she bends steel rods, lifts impossibly heavy weights. an amused snort leaves him as she gestures for the largest man in the small crowd to step onto the stage and she lifts him but with one finger, and the crowd applauds. he moves past a contortionist, a man who makes an endless amount of birds appear from his sleeves, a booth for a fortune teller whom he imagines can actually see the future.

yoongi stops near the platform of two performers, a man and woman. “the thing about the normal circus,” the man calls, “is that they’re all talented. they all have tricks up their sleeves, and for that, we applaud them. but they rely on you suspending your belief to make it real, while we only ask you to look.

the man grins, gleaming in the low lighting of the tent, and then moves his arm in an arc over his head, tracing a pattern as yoongi waits, and waits—and then the man opens his mouth and breathes fire. it moves along the same arc, curling into the air and making the little crowd gasp in delight. it’s another classic circus trick, he thinks, even if it’s real—and then the woman steps forward and opens her mouth, and what she breathes is ice, extinguishing the flames of her partner.

that’s something he’s never seen before.

yoongi watches them for another moment as they continue their act, something almost comedic as the man ‘accidentally’ lights the woman on fire and she douses his beard in water only to freeze it with a simple puff of air. he leaves them, sneaking out of the crowd, determined to find something more. he likes the tricks, the magic of it, but he knows there’s more. he wanders deeper into the tent, away from the initial crowds around the wooden platforms, past the food tents. he stops at the first larger tent, peering inside to see a larger crowd sitting around a dark stage, and a man on it, who appears to be moving objects with just a flick of his wrist. the next tent over has a pair of woman literally disappearing and reappearing in different parts of the crowd, leaving the onlookers delighted.

and that’s—strange, he thinks, to see people excited about witnessing magic. it’s not a common occurrence: neither the magic nor the delight. he’s never bothered to learn where magic comes from or how it chooses its victims; all yoongi knows is that sometimes, people are born with magic. they have to refine their skills, have to practice, but it’s hard, because magic isn’t so readily accepted in the world the way it is here. or maybe—maybe it’s just yoongi’s world. maybe it’s small town mentality, maybe it’s a fear of the unknown that has led people like his parents and his grandparents and everyone he’s ever known to denounce magic as something of demons.

that’s why he’s never told them. but it’s easy to hide his magic, because yoongi can’t breathe fire or ice, can’t make things disappear. he watches the women on the stage, one of them walking behind a thin pole and the other appearing on the other side, seamlessly. the effect is ruined, somewhat, by the strings—yoongi knows where the first woman has gone because he can see the thin red string wrapped around her ring finger, can see where it runs off of the stage and through the crowd and out of the tent, away away away, to her soulmate.

yoongi can see the string. he can see all of the strings. before he learned how to see past them, all he could see was red, all he could focus on was the lines cutting through his vision, sometimes taut, sometimes loose. always red, always there. before he learned what seeing the strings meant, when he was just a child, he used to tell people and they’d laugh, or stare. it took him years to understand they were frightened, and then he stopped saying anything, just—tried, sometimes, to help.

he looks down at the countless strings running taut near his ankles, all of those people in the tent. there’s one on the ground, loose in looping trails, which means the soulmates are near, and he reaches for it—lets his finger touch it, just lightly. in his mind, he sees it, just briefly—a young woman, hair dark, eyes dark. she sits under a tree, and when she looks up, she smiles at another woman, hair light, eyes light. it’s just a moment, just a flash, but it’s there: the future. or what could be the future, were the soulmates to find each other.

maybe they have. yoongi doesn’t let himself wonder, because what he’s learned over the past twenty-three years is that, when he’s the only one who knows that soulmates even exist, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to make everyone else see. sometimes soulmates don’t end up together. sometimes they do, and it doesn’t work out. sometimes people can just be happy without them.

anyway—yoongi doesn’t like crowds, because all he sees is red. he doesn’t like the disappearing act, because it’s not much of a disappearing act for him at all. he turns away from the stage, then, moving back through the circus. he sees a couple with a young girl walking ahead of him, their hands attached not only physically but also by the red string between them. he sees another couple, sees their strings leading away, and. that’s fine, too. yoongi knows that sometimes, that’s more than fine, too.

he hums as he works through the circus, occasionally stopping at different tents to watch the acts. it’s all—magic, but almost a superficial sort of magic. everyone is genuine, but it’s still a circus. yoongi lets his own magic bleed out here, unafraid to see it, unafraid to use it. for the first time, he feels safe. he reaches out and touches strings, images flashing in his mind—a wedding day. a funeral. someone is crying. a baby is being born. he steps over a string that runs too much like a trip wire, turning to look at an alley of the tent advertising animals. he ignores the red in his vision, following the strings that lead into the next cluster of tents.

there are animals of all sorts—he almost believes they might have just be a figment of his imagination, something put into his mind by the woman in a typical lion tamer’s outfit moving through the tent, seemingly not taming anything. there are elephants, horses, seals. he hears a lion roaring to his right, steps toward it, and then—something jerks his hand backward, almost causing him to stumble. yoongi turns around, expecting to see someone behind him, whoever grabbed his hand. but—there’s nothing, no one. just a baby elephant stomping around, happily wiggling its ears.

yoongi’s eyebrows furrow, and then he steps toward the lion tent again only for his hand to be jerked back for a second time, and yoongi spins around faster to catch the culprit. this time, he actually looks down at his right hand, and sees—the little red string tied around his own ring finger, the one that’s always there. it seems to mock him, at times, knowing that he’s the only one who can see it, the only on who knows. anyone can be confident in their relationships if they don’t know if the person is their soulmate, but yoongi—

yoongi knows. yoongi knows, but he can’t know more than a simple yes or no, because touching his own string brings him no vision of the future. it’s just a fucking string.

it’s just a fucking string, which—is trailing loose on the ground, suddenly, not taut like it usually is. he stares at it, where it disappears out of the animal tent. he stares, and then—the string jerks again, making yoongi stumble forward a step with the force of it. and that’s never happened before, but it means—it means.

his soulmate is close. his soulmate is here.

yoongi’s hand trembles as he crouches down and picks up the string. he pulls it until it’s taut, keeping it pressed close to his chest, and then he begins to follow it. he slides his hand over the string as he walks, no longer paying attention to the circus as he keeps his eyes trained on the red string to follow it. he’s wondered, for twenty-three years, who his soulmate would be, if he ever found them. as a teenager, he used to try to follow his string as far as he could, walking along beside it as it ran down the road and then down down down until it disappeared and never led him to a person. sometimes it ran down a different road, completely different directions. his soulmate never stayed in one spot, it seemed.

as an adult, yoongi has taught himself not to hope, not to dream. his magic is magic, but maybe his parents are right—it’s a curse. it’s a curse to always know that there is someone out there for him, someone that might be right, that might accept him like this and love him for it. a someone who might end up being the home he’s always longed for.

yoongi stopped looking, at some point. and now—he picks up the string as he goes, wrapping it around his hand for safe-keeping as he follows it through the crowd. he expects to bump into someone at some point, to find that his string ends where theirs begins. but it goes and goes and goes, and yoongi keeps his head down, following it, until—yoongi finds himself stepping into another tent, this one even further from the entrance than all the rest. there’s a hush in the tent, as though no one is even breathing as they watch. yoongi almost stumbles into someone’s back, staring as his string goes upward, suddenly, and he follows it with his eyes as he looks up up up and sees—a hoop suspended in mid air, high above the crowd, and a boy hanging from it by nothing but his feet.

yoongi stops breathing as he watches, the boy swinging back and forth before he swings right off of the hoop, and the crowd gasps, and he swings a hand out instead, catching himself before he plummets to the ground below. he’s an acrobat.

yoongi’s red string is attached to the acrobat.

he watches, breathless, as the boy continues to twirl on the hoop as though he’s a master over gravity—and he probably is. that’s probably his magic, although there’s something else magical about the way he moves; yoongi can’t take his eyes off of him, watching as the boy continues his routine of twisting and turning, pulling himself through the hoop and hanging off of it by a knee, a hand, doing the splits through it, contorting his body in elegant and beautiful ways.

and yoongi watches the string, watches how the boy moving his hand has the string jerking, moving yoongi’s hand with it, as though the boy is his puppeteer. he never tangles with it, as though the string is magical, too, but yoongi knows that no one else is affected by them physically, not like yoongi. he wonders if the boy would fall if yoongi were to pull on the string, or if his magic would save him, allow him to float the way he does now as he turns on the hoop, sending a blinding smile to the crowd as the hoop slowly lowers itself to the ground until he can touch down and let go.

he bows, and the crowd—does nothing for a moment, collectively holding their breath again even though the show has ended, even though the boy is safe on the ground. yoongi clutches at the string, trailing on the ground again now that the acrobat is no longer in the air, and it takes him five, ten seconds to realize that everyone around him is applauding furiously, thunderously. he can’t stop staring, feels like he’s been put under a spell that has nothing to do with magic.

that’s his soulmate. that boy, with the big eyes and the big smile and the big, big applause all for him—that’s yoongi’s soulmate.

he watches, slipping away from the entrance of the tent, as most of the crowd files out and onto other things, their strings going with them. a few people stay behind as the boy steps out of the ring to talk to them, hearing them congratulate him, compliment him. despite how tired he must be from the display, yoongi notes that he smiles at everyone who talks to him, cheeks colouring not just from the physical exertion but from the praise, too. he seems almost bashful now that the lights are off, the magic is over. he performs with such grace and beauty, and on the ground, he’s still beautiful, but—it’s a different sort of beauty.

yoongi still can’t stop staring. he wondered for years what his soulmate would be like, who they would be. as he watches the boy sign a little girl’s notebook, asking her questions about her favourite part of the circus and what kind of magic she’d like to have if she could, yoongi thinks—there are far worse people his string could be attached to.

he waits until everyone else has filed out of the tent, and the boy gives a little sigh of relief, turning to leave, and yoongi—panics, just a little, realizing that he’s going to miss his chance. he steps forward, into the light, calls, “wait—”

the boy turns around, startled by yoongi’s voice, and then relaxes when he sees yoongi standing near the edge of the ring, almost afraid to step into the space where the boy performs. closer now, he can see that the acrobat can’t be much older than eighteen or nineteen. his face is youthful despite the muscles that he boasts, the build of his body in the tight costume that he wears. there’s a faint scar on his cheek. yoongi wonders if it was from an acrobatic accident, when he was first learning how to use his magic and hadn’t quite gotten his hands around it yet.

yoongi realizes, then, that he should say something else. “um,” he begins. “sorry, i just—i wanted to let you know that… that was really beautiful. your act, i mean.”

the boy relaxes, the easy grin returning to his lips. “thank you,” he says.

“i don’t know much about acrobatics,” says yoongi, cheeks colouring, “but i’d venture to say that’s some of the best there is. it was mesmerizing.”

the boy chuckles a little, the grin not quite meeting his eyes. “yeah,” he says. “probably the magic, you know? that’s the whole point of the circus, isn’t it?”

there’s something about the way he says it that makes yoongi’s heart hurt, like—even though the circus is magical for everyone else, it’s different for the performers. they’re taking the gifts they were born with and exploiting them for a profit, no matter how much they love what they do. “even without the magic,” yoongi adds quietly. “i think there’s something magical about you as a person, even without your abilities.”

the boy looks at him for a long moment. yoongi wonders if anyone has ever complimented him on anything other than his magical abilities—and maybe that’s the danger of doing this: the performers no longer become people, but caricatures of their magic. the fire breather, the lion tamer, the acrobat.

finally, he says, “thank you,” dipping his head a little, hiding behind his sweaty fringe.

“how long have you been part of the circus?” yoongi asks curiously, wanting to know everything about this boy now that he knows they’re soulmates. he might want to know even if they weren’t.

“i was born into it, actually,” he says. “my parents are performers here. they actually met here, so… i’m the circus’ baby.” how strange, yoongi thinks, to know nothing but the circus—to know nothing but magic, nothing of how the outside world perceives people like them. and how lucky, too.

“so you’ve—been here before?” asks yoongi, thinking how the circus comes every year. how his soulmate was here every year, and it took until now for yoongi to come and find him.

the boy nods. “yeah,” he says, eyes skirting sideways, toward the exit; yoongi realizes, suddenly, that the boy wants to leave, that he’s less interested in this conversation than yoongi is—that he probably has conversations like this all the time, people only wanting to know about his magic, about the circus. yoongi doesn’t have to touch their string and see the future to know that the boy is going to excuse himself and leave and yoongi will never see him again, not when he leaves for the city and the circus becomes but a strange and distant memory. the acrobat is yoongi’s soulmate, and yoongi is about to lose him.

as if on cue, the boy takes a step back, says, “well, thank you for the compliments, but i sh—”

“i’m magical, too,” yoongi blurts out—the first thing that comes to mind, the only thing he can think of to make the boy stay.

and—the boy pauses, mouth still open to speak. as yoongi watches, something passes over his face: first confusion, then intrigue. and then something like understanding, like relief. yoongi, as far as he’s aware, is the only person in his entire town who is magical. he wonders just how many other magical folk the circus comes across, how many find ways to come out of their shells and admit the truth when they see people like this acrobat, who puts his magic on display, makes it entertainment.

yoongi curls his hands into fists at his side. it’s the first time he’s ever admitted it like that. “i’m magical, too,” he repeats, a little quieter, softer. “i just—i’ve never seen people who aren’t trying to hide it. around here… magic is a curse. they call us freaks, think there’s something wrong with us. i’ve never—i don’t tell people. i broke my arm once, because i—” he shakes his head. he doesn’t know why he’s saying it, just wants someone to understand. wants someone who maybe understands to tell him that there isn’t anything wrong with him just because he can see the strings. wants the boy to stay.

“what kind of magic?” asks the boy carefully.

yoongi thinks—he can’t tell this boy that they’re soulmates. he can’t tell him that he can see red strings of fate, but what he can tell him is: “i can see the possible future, sometimes. just brief glimpses, but—it counts. right?”

it counts, right, he asks, which means—do you believe me, am i magical enough to be like you, will you stay. will you let me stay.

the boy licks his lips. he turns to look over his shoulder, where he was retreating before. and then he turns to look at yoongi again, and asks, “what’s your name?”

“yoongi.”

“i’m jeongguk,” says the boy, the acrobat. his soulmate—jeongguk. “do you… like, want to hang out? with me?” yoongi’s hands itch. he realizes, belatedly, that their string is still wrapped around his right hand in great loops, and for a moment, he focuses on where the string ends around jeongguk’s finger, where it trails on the ground and comes back to him. now that he’s this close—

“yeah,” says yoongi, with a grin. “yeah, that would be cool.”

jeongguk makes him wait in the ring so he can change out of his costume, claiming that yoongi isn’t allowed to go backstage, and he watches as their string unravels from his hand the further jeongguk gets from him. he tries not to feel sick at it, knowing that jeongguk is coming back, and it’s weird how he’s spent so long trying to tell himself that he doesn’t care about finding his soulmate, trying to placate himself with whoever he might end up with even if he knows they’re not the one. but now that he has found his soulmate, it’s different. all of the hopeless romantic desires of his teenage years come rushing back along with jeongguk as the acrobat steps back through the curtain seemingly without an entrance—now dressed in civilian clothing.

they head out of the acrobat tent and into the rest of the circus, yoongi’s hands stuck in his coat pockets so he doesn’t feel the need to do something silly, like try to hold jeongguk’s. he thinks they need to be friends first, because he doesn’t want to force jeongguk into anything, so. so.

“have you been to the circus before, yoongi-ssi?” jeongguk asks as they walk, yoongi peering over at the other tents and performers on their wooden platforms.

“you can call me hyung,” says yoongi, ignoring the blush on his cheeks. “i mean, i assume. how old are you?”

“nineteen.”

“twenty-three. but, um—no, this is my first time.”

jeongguk gives him a grin at that, like it’s more exciting that yoongi has never been before. “are you enjoying it so far?”

“it’s… interesting,” admits yoongi. “i’m not one for the circus, which is why i’ve never been before, but—i think i’ve been a little afraid of it, knowing that the whole point is the magic. that there are people who aren’t afraid to show their magic and in fact, bank on people wanting to see their magic to run this whole thing. it’s weird to me. and… i guess i was a little angry at that, how you could be so open about it but i’ve spent my whole life hiding my magic because it makes me wrong in the eyes of everyone i know.” he shrugs a little, peeking at jeongguk after he’s said it; it’s the first time he’s been able to be honest about it.

but jeongguk just nods in understanding. “it’s dangerous coming to places like these,” says jeongguk, “where people don’t really accept magic. we’ve had some trouble with that in the past—people trying to get us shut down, trying to burn the tent in the middle of the night because they think we’re all from hell and should go back there. but we’re still here. i think… no matter what people do to try to stomp out magic, it’s always going to be here. even if those people got the circus shut down, that’s not going to get rid of magic, is it?”

“doesn’t it scare you, though?” asks yoongi. “to know that there are people out there who hate you just because you were born with magic?”

“of course,” says jeongguk, “but what i’ve learned from being in the circus is that there’s no use focusing on them. what’s the point of having magic if you’re not going to use it however you want? whether that’s in a circus, or just… for yourself? and maybe what makes you happy is hiding it. but if it doesn’t—then find a way to be happy.”

yoongi snorts, because that’s exactly what he’s doing now. he comes to a stop at the back of a small crowd watching someone do card tricks, too real to be anything but actual magic. “that’s why i came here, actually,” he admits. “i’m leaving tomorrow—i’m just gonna go and see what else is out there for me. but i thought i should come to the circus, first.”

he feels jeongguk knocking their shoulders together, just lightly. “i’m glad,” he says. “for your sake, at least—that you can see people who have accepted their magic and are happy to use it.”

“so far, i’ve seen a lot of showy things,” says yoongi, turning to grin at jeongguk. “but i’m sure you know all of the hidden gems of the circus… show me?”

jeongguk leads him further into the circus, down twisting alleys that yoongi didn’t even realize existed, confusing signs pointing the way—and yoongi is glad that he’ll have someone to help him get back. he could get lost in here forever and hope that the magic would lead him home. they stop outside a tent advertising a singer with the most beautiful voice in the world, and yoongi raises a sceptical brow at jeongguk.

“she has a golden voice,” he says, grinning as he waves yoongi inside. “you’ll see.”

the tent is pitch black other than the single spotlight in the middle, where an elderly woman stands. yoongi is confused at first, until he feels jeongguk taking his hand and pulling him further in, finding them a spot on benches in front of the woman. they sit and wait, and yoongi waits for her to sing—he thinks suddenly of a lullaby that his mother used to sing for him, back when he was a kid and hadn’t known how vindictive she could get.

and then the elderly woman is singing it—she opens her mouth and out come the notes, the words, even without her moving her lips more than that. he hears it and stares and stares and stares at her, and it’s. his mother’s voice. it’s his mother’s voice singing to him, singing the lullaby that he’s long lost, and yoongi tightens his grip on jeongguk’s hand without meaning to, just needing an anchor. he doesn’t know how she has his mother’s voice, but she does. she sings for him.

after, when jeongguk pulls him back out of the tent because he’s not sure he could do it himself, he blinks away tears that cling to his lashes, and he stares at jeongguk’s face, realizing he has to look up just a little, and jeongguk grins back down at him.

“how did she do that?” he breathes. “how did—she had my mother’s voice, jeongguk-ah.”

“wasn’t it the most beautiful voice in the world?”

there’s something sad in his eyes. and yoongi doesn’t understand it, but maybe he doesn’t have to.

“i heard the voice of an old friend,” says jeongguk. “he used to be part of the circus, and he wasn’t a singer, but he used to sing for me, anyway, especially when i got overwhelmed and afraid and didn’t want people looking at me while i performed. it always calmed me down. but—he’s gone now, so. it was nice to hear him again.”

yoongi looks back towards the tent. he wouldn’t know how to live with that sort of magic, knowing he could instil that sort of sorrow in someone—or happiness, too, in jeongguk’s case. or both, maybe.

“does she even have her own voice?”

“she’s mute,” jeongguk says, and that’s—that’s. yoongi isn’t sure. but he’s glad when jeongguk tugs him away from the tent, still attached by the hands, toward some other treasure that other circus-goers are less likely to find. here, in these back alleys, there are less people, and yoongi is sure the only ones who find these tents are the ones who have been here before, who have had the time to explore. the circus puts the exciting acts first, lets them catch all of the attention, so that the acts like these are reserved only for people who know how to find them.

who know what they’re finding in the first place.

jeongguk takes him to see a man who transforms into animals next—but can only transform into domestic house cats, jeongguk says, which means that it’s less exciting than showing someone lions or elephants. they sit in the tent with the man turned cat, and the cat curls itself into yoongi’s lap and falls asleep, and jeongguk laughs at him, at how he awkwardly tries to pet the cat without disturbing it, feeling strange that it’s actually a human he’s petting.

they enter a tent with a pair of twins who can control the weather. jeongguk explains that they don’t have much of an act since they usually make sure the weather is right for when the circus shows up in a town, making sure that they’ll get as many audience members as possible. but they know jeongguk, and they like him, so they put on a show anyway.

“what do you want?” jeongguk asks excitedly once he’s begged the twins to show yoongi their magic. he still hasn’t let go of yoongi’s hand. “hyung—what weather do you want?”

it’s the middle of summer, so—“snow,” he says with a shrug. “make it snow, jeongguk-ah.”

the twins do it, but. yoongi pretends that it’s jeongguk, and he keeps his head tilted back as he waits. slowly, he sees the first flakes falling from above them, the endless abyss of the star-studded sky of the tent, another magic trick. the snow falls slowly on them, around them, and it’s not cold. yoongi watches it with wide eyes, with a smile, following the flakes as they twist down, and then when he looks down, he sees jeongguk with his head tilted back, mouth open to catch the flakes.

“that’s probably not healthy,” says yoongi. “magic weather.”

“i haven’t died yet,” jeongguk tells him. “and it’s just about the only snow i actually get to see.”

yoongi thinks about it, about being part of a magical travelling circus—jeongguk is here every night, doing his acrobatic tricks. and maybe exploring the circus is less about showing yoongi and more about jeongguk finding a way to enjoy something he’s grown up in, the only life that he knows. he’s heard that the circus doesn’t just stay in korea, either, but travels around the continent, even the world, and maybe he’s right; maybe jeongguk doesn’t get this sort of thing.

this quiet.

“what’s it like?” asks yoongi quietly, as the snow falls around them softly. it catches in jeongguk’s hair, in his eyelashes. not for the first time, yoongi thinks there’s something magical about him, something that has nothing to do with magic and everything to do with jeongguk himself. “growing up in the circus, being here… what’s it really like?”

jeongguk is still grinning when he looks down at yoongi, but there’s a hint of something sad in it. “i like it,” he says. “really and honestly, i do. i love magic, love being surrounded by all of these people who have amazing abilities. and i do love being an acrobat, not just for the praise—it’s fun. being in the circus is fun. but…” he pauses, looking back up at the fat snowflakes drifting from above. “i often wonder what more there is. we get to go out and visit the towns we stop in, but it’s not the same. i’ve never really had a home, not in the way other people do—i’ve never had one place to call home, other than the circus.”

it strikes yoongi, then, that there’s something similar about them. they’re not just soulmates, not just tied together by a silly red string that only yoongi can see. yoongi is looking for a home, but jeongguk is, too. maybe there’s something about fate, there.

“and,” continues jeongguk. “and it’s great to be magical and to be in a place where magic is not only accepted but celebrated, like you said. but…” he almost laughs, breaths coming out visibly now as the tent turns cold from the snow, the flakes beginning to blanket the ground in white. “my magic has nothing to do with acrobatics.”

yoongi blinks at him. “what?”

“you assumed it did, right?” asks jeongguk. “because that’s what we do here—we make acts and performances out of our magic. we sell our magic as entertainment to make people forget about their mundane lives, if only for a night. but my magic… the ring master doesn’t think it can be utilized in the circus. doesn’t want it to be, no matter how many times i tell her otherwise. but i was born into the circus, and to be useful, i had to learn something. so i learned how to be an acrobat.”

when he’d seen jeongguk do his act, he had assumed that jeongguk’s magic was something to do with acrobatics—gravity manipulation or something of the sort. but he’d also recognized that there was something else about jeongguk that meant he couldn’t keep his eyes off of him, and it’s the same sort of thing he feels now, which maybe has nothing to do with magic at all, or has something to do with his true ability.

“what is it?” yoongi finds himself asking. “why can’t it be used in the circus?”

jeongguk just grins at him, and yoongi knows he’s not going to get an answer. instead, jeongguk asks, “do you want to see my parents?” and yoongi has no choice but to nod, to go along with whatever this wonderful and beautiful and mysterious boy wants him to.

his parents, it turns out, perform a traditional sort of magic show—the sort that non-magical folk have been doing for centuries in an attempt to replicate real magic. and yoongi only now realizes how strange it is that they’ll condemn magical people for having magic and then try to be magical themselves, but—anyway. jeongguk’s father is the magician who makes his mother, the assistant, disappear. he saws her in half, pulls birds from his jacket, puts a rabbit in his hat and puts the hat on his head. yoongi watches near the back of the crowd for ten minutes before he turns to jeongguk and has to ask what the magic part of it is, and jeongguk grins at him, says, “the tricks aren’t magical. my mother—she can manipulate thoughts to a certain degree. what you see isn’t actually happening, but you believe it is, because she’s telling you to.”

when yoongi looks back to the stage, he sees jeongguk’s mother pull a sheet of fabric over his father for just a second, and then drop it to reveal that his father has a completely different outfit on. he tries to see past it, tries to understand it, but he can’t—the magic is too great. or maybe jeongguk is lying.

either way—“what does your father do, then?”

“he’s our doctor,” says jeongguk. “he can heal people, magically. he was never part of the circus as an act, at least until my mother joined and they fell in love and the ring master decided that having a married double act would sell well.” he pauses, casts a glance around the tent—it’s packed, more people trying to squeeze in through the entrance. “i think it worked.”

yoongi watches for a few minutes longer, finding himself entertained by the antics on stage no matter how basic they may seem. but sometimes all it takes is something simple for a person to be amazed, especially for the majority of the audience, who aren’t able to do magic themselves.

he notes, with something curling in his gut, that jeongguk’s father’s red string is attached to his mother. and his mother’s red string keeps going, pulled taut out of the tent. and maybe it should be sad, but—but. they’re happy here, as far as yoongi knows. they have a son here. and maybe that’s okay, too. maybe all of those possible futures that yoongi sees are just that—possible. they’re not the only futures possible. but he turns to look at jeongguk, to watch him watching, and he thinks—he wishes he could see theirs. but maybe the point of not seeing his own future is that he’s supposed to make it himself. he’s supposed to make sure that something happens, if he wants it to.

and jeongguk is—pretty and kind and magic. jeongguk is made of magic, too. he’s looking for a home, and so is yoongi. so why can’t they find it in each other?

yoongi asks, quiet and quiet: “are you happy here, jeongguk-ah?”

the crowd breaks into thunderous applause as the act ends, and jeongguk looks at him, and yoongi doesn’t see anything else. just sees how jeongguk looks, how he grins again—that same sad grin he’s been wearing the whole time, and yoongi. yoongi wants to fix it. he wants to fix it not because they’re soulmates, but because he likes jeongguk, because he’s spent only an hour or two with him and already feels like there’s more to them. feels like they have the same heart.

“what’s not to be happy about, yoongi-hyung?” asks jeongguk.

yoongi buys them popcorn after—or yoongi ‘buys’ them popcorn, which is really yoongi ordering popcorn and jeongguk giving a little wave to the worker as a clear show of who he is and then the worker getting them popcorn for free, but. it still counts. they wander through the circus now, not stopping at any one tent or performance but merely eating their popcorn together, hands occasionally bumping when they reach for it at the same time.

he thinks about jeongguk opening up, thinks about how it feels like this is the first time jeongguk has been able to admit his troubles, just like it’s the first time for yoongi. he says, “i told you i’m leaving tomorrow, right? i’ve heard that urban centers are supposed to be a lot more accepting of magic. i don’t know if that’s true, but… i think i need to leave here anyway. i’m tired of feeling like my magic makes me a bad person.”

“do you ever use it?” asks jeongguk. “do you ever find out people’s futures, whether for them or not?”

“sometimes,” he admits. “i used to tell people about my magic, before i realized it was a bad idea. and i—i would use it on people without them knowing. i can never see enough of the future to help them, but sometimes i use it to remind myself that i am magic. that i do have this power, that someday… i’ll find people who don’t make me feel bad about having it.”

“you don’t have to feel bad about it,” jeongguk tells him. “not here.”

and he wants to tell jeongguk—wants to admit the truth of who he is, of who they are. he sees red, sees the strings, can’t not see them, and he wonders—if they weren’t soulmates, would they still be together? and does being soulmates mean that they have to be together, anyway, or is it a strange paradox in the end? and should it matter? and does it have to?

“well then,” says yoongi, offering the last of the popcorn to jeongguk. “i hope that i find a place like this wherever i end up.” he doesn’t look at jeongguk as he says it, doesn’t want to see his face. but he can’t help the wobbly little sigh he lets out; he’s excited to find a place where he belongs, but he’s terrified. he’s worried. there are twenty-three years of sorrow weighing down on his chest, and no matter where he goes, he’ll have to bring it with him.

then jeongguk—jeongguk takes the box of popcorn from him and tosses it in the nearest trash can, and holds out his left hand instead. for a moment, yoongi looks down at it and sees where the red string is tied around his ring finger, and then looks at where the string is spooled between them until it connects to yoongi’s right hand. he takes it, intertwines their fingers until he can feel the string on jeongguk’s finger rubbing against the string on his finger, and that’s—that’s what he wants. wherever he goes, he wants to bring this, but he still can’t bring himself to say it.

and jeongguk says, “you’re sad, yoongi-hyung. aren’t you?”

he hadn’t meant to make it obvious.

he doesn’t answer, though, not before jeongguk says, “i can help you. if you let me show you something.”

yoongi lets him—yoongi realizes he might let jeongguk do anything, and isn’t that ridiculous? but isn’t it the truth—that yoongi has been searching for so long, and for the first time in his life, he feels as though his heart is at rest. in the midst of a chaotic circus filled with magic and screaming children, he’s found the eye of the storm in an acrobat boy, the child of the circus, this magical, magical being.

jeongguk leads him back through the circus, past the acrobats tent, past the back alleys to the woman with the golden voice and the man who can transform into a cat. they keep going and going until he’s sure they’ve walked farther than can be possible considering they’re still in the tent—until the sounds of laughter and cheering have faded behind them, until not a single soul is breathing around them. they keep walking past tent after tent until they come to the very last, until yoongi finally sees the back wall of the tent. when he turns around, he can barely see where they came from, just vague light in the distance.

and then jeongguk tugs him into the last tent, through a flap in the material that almost flutters at jeongguk’s presence, and into—the night sky.

it’s the only way yoongi can describe it. everything is dark, black, but overhead is a sky full of hundreds of stars as far as he can see. he looks up and gasps as he sees it, sees them shining like that—arranged in delicate patterns. he sees colours just faintly, nebulas and supernovas lighting up the sky. yoongi takes a few steps in, and feels jeongguk let go of him, and he feels—infinite. feels alone in the vastness of time and space, feels like he is the sky. after a moment, the stars move, coming down to greet him. some of them hover near him, just tiny balls of light, some bigger than others.

gingerly, yoongi reaches out for one, holds it in the palm of his hand. it doesn’t hurt his eyes to look at, merely glowing in the darkness, and he can’t stop looking, can’t stop seeing, mesmerized by the stars in a way that he was mesmerized only by jeongguk’s act.

that’s how he knows, somehow.

“you made this?” asks yoongi, feeling almost silly as he speaks into the darkness, not knowing where jeongguk has gone.

but jeongguk’s voice comes from beside him, not far—“yeah,” he says quietly. “this is my act. or it could be, if the ring master would let it be, but—i guess she doesn’t want the circus to become an art exhibit.”

“it’s… beautiful, jeongguk-ah. it’s already my favourite part of the circus.”

“you don’t have to say that,” says jeongguk. “it’s not fire breathing or card tricks.”

“what is it?” asks yoongi, curiously—he knows it’s magic. knows it has to be something that jeongguk can do, his magic, but he doesn’t quite understand.

not until jeongguk says—“it’s sadness. and anger, and fear, and anxiety.” he sees jeongguk step into his line of sight, illuminated only by the glow of the nearest stars. jeongguk reaches out for them, catching one in his hand, holding it gently, delicately. “my magic is being able to take people’s emotions and… turn them into stars. it’s so specific, almost strange, but—my parents think it’s because they’re both magical, so it was streamlined to me. something powerful. i’m not quite an empath, because i can’t feel people’s emotions, but…” he pushes the star in his hand further into the sky, and yoongi watches as it shoots off, leaving a tail behind like a comet. “that’s what i do. i take away people’s pain.”

yoongi lets out the breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding, looking up at all of those stars—thinking of all the times jeongguk has helped someone, has taken their sadness and their anger and turned it into stars, making something beautiful out of a negative emotion.

“that’s…” yoongi begins. “that’s really amazing, jeongguk-ah.”

“it’s really not,” he laughs. “i don’t mean that in a, i don’t think my magic is cool way. i mean… when i was growing up and getting a handle on it, i used to use it on the circus performers all the time. i wanted them to be happy all the time, never wanted them to be upset or hurt or angry. i made half of this room by the time i turned ten, because i would take their emotions every time they showed anything other than happiness, and i thought… i thought it was good. the ring master wanted me to make that my act, when i was a teenager—to have a booth where someone could tell me their troubles and i would take the sadness away, would give them a little star in return.”

yoongi watches him. “why didn’t you do it?”

“because,” says jeongguk. “sadness and anger and pain… those are all necessary parts of our lives. i’ve realized that you can’t experience happiness if you don’t experience sadness. you can’t appreciate the good if you don’t have the bad, and maybe that makes me selfish—to have this magic that can take away pain and sorrow, but choose not to use it, or not to use it unless it’s absolutely necessary. but we have to feel those things, yoongi-hyung. that’s what makes us human.

jeongguk reaches out and takes another star, cradling it in his hands. he doesn’t look at yoongi as he speaks, and yoongi is glad—it gives him an excuse to watch, to convince himself not to touch. “i want to make people happy,” says jeongguk, “but i want to do it by giving them something rather than taking something away. i could—show them my stars, and give them wonder and awe. because they have to find a way to lessen their own pain, and i can’t do that for them.”

it’s profound, strangely so for a nineteen-year-old boy who has lived in a circus for his entire life. but it’s true, too. he understands what jeongguk is saying.

“for what it’s worth,” says yoongi. “i would come to the circus just for this. i’m sorry the ring master doesn’t think it’s worth showing to people.”

“it’s okay,” shrugs jeongguk. “she wants what’s best for the circus, and i understand that. but it still makes me sad. that’s why i have so many stars, i think.”

“jeongguk-ah,” he begins.

“i was joking,” says jeongguk. “mostly.”

“i’m sorry that you’re sad,” says yoongi. in the glow of the stars, he can just make out the string. it seems to haunt him. “i wish that i could do something about it.”

“it’s okay, hyung,” says jeongguk. “i’m just—a little lonely. that’s all. all i know is this circus and the people here, and that’s good. i love the circus. i love the people here. but it’s not…”

“home,” says yoongi.

“home,” agrees jeongguk. they look at each other, then, for a time—yoongi feels like the string tightens around his finger, tells him to do something. jeongguk doesn’t have to be lonely anymore, if only yoongi could work up the courage to admit the truth. but he fears it, even now—wonders, of course, what jeongguk will say. if he’ll be angry. if he’ll laugh, if he’ll say that it’s unfortunate. (yoongi has tried to cut the string, knows it doesn’t work.)

it’s jeongguk, again, who beats him to it, who lets go of the star in his hand and steps forward, says, “do you want to see how it works?” and yoongi thinks of the weight on his chest, thinks of jeongguk’s words. it’s true that he can’t experience the good without the bad, but maybe he’s had the bad for so long. maybe he wants jeongguk to fix it, so yoongi can find a way to fix jeongguk’s pain, too.

so he nods. and he doesn’t know what’s meant to happen next, but he watches as jeongguk takes a step toward him, and then another, and another. he moves until he and yoongi are close, closer, and yoongi has to hold his breath as he keeps his eyes trained on jeongguk’s, tilting his head back just a little to see properly. their toes knock together when jeongguk stops. he’s silhouetted by stars, just barely, the nearest casting a faint glow on the side of jeongguk’s face, the one with the scar.

yoongi realizes, belatedly, what jeongguk is going to do. but he lets it happen, because he doesn’t want to be sad anymore—not about this, not here. he wants to swallow jeongguk’s magic whole, wants to give his up if only for another moment here, where he feels like he’s finally found the place he belongs.

jeongguk leans in, just a little, and then stops. and yoongi lifts his eyes from jeongguk’s mouth, his lips, and looks up into those unfathomable eyes, and maybe there’s something about magic here. something about time. he thinks of the old couple when he first entered the circus, thinks about the watch they handed over, and he wonders, briefly, if they did find time here. and if this has all happened because yoongi handed over his house keys, and is that the point, and what if it is, and what if it isn’t

“s’okay, guk-ah,” whispers yoongi, almost reaching out—“s’okay.”

and jeongguk leans in the rest of the way, tilting his head downward as their noses brush together first, and then their lips—for one, two seconds, and yoongi breathes. and then leans up the rest of the way, pressing their lips together in a firm kiss. something sparks low in his gut, and he can almost feel something happening, something pulling itself right out of his veins at the kiss. it’s nothing more than a press of their lips and yoongi curling his fingers into the hem of jeongguk’s shirt like he’s afraid jeongguk might leave—and then jeongguk pulling back, their lips detaching with a soft click.

for a second, yoongi thinks that jeongguk will kiss him again—and he wants wants wants, wants all the stars and the moon, too, wants magic. he doesn’t let go of jeongguk’s shirt, watching as jeongguk tips his head back, up toward the sky, and then exhales. slowly, pinpoints of light float out of his mouth and up to the sky, bit by bit as they cling together like magnets, adding with each piece of light that jeongguk exhales. yoongi watches, fascinated, until the last bit of light attaches itself to the little clump, making itself into a tiny ball of light: a star.

yoongi’s sadness.

he almost forgot about it, somehow, forgot that the kiss wasn’t just a kiss. and he presses a hand to his chest, tries to feel the weight—it’s not gone, not entirely. he isn’t not sad anymore, but. he feels lighter, somehow. feels a little more like there’s something out there for him, that there’s hope.

jeongguk reaches up, curling his hand around the little star, and then holds it between them, opening his hand as yoongi stares down at it. “wow,” yoongi breathes.

“i hope it helps,” says jeongguk.

and yoongi says—“i don’t think it’s the magic that’s helping.” maybe that’s it—maybe jeongguk’s magic of being able to take away pain is less the magic, more just jeongguk. maybe it’s just having spent the past few hours with him, having realized that jeongguk is something very precious. it’s realizing that even if they weren’t soulmates, he’d still fall hard and fast.

jeongguk lets go of the star and it slowly floats up between them, back to join the rest of the stars. and yoongi doesn’t watch it go, instead watching jeongguk’s face instead, trying to understand the tangle of feelings in his chest, in his stomach. he can feel the string, like it’s pulsing, like it knows.

“do you have to kiss everyone?” yoongi asks suddenly, voice hushed. “to take away their sadness—do you have to kiss them all?”

jeongguk’s lips curl up, just slightly. “only you,” he says, and yoongi’s own magic flares within him.

he’s about to ask about it—do you like me do you like me do you like me like i like you—when there’s the sound of a curtain fluttering behind them and someone shouting jeongguk’s name. yoongi turns, startled, to see a small woman standing in the entrance to the tent, the light from the larger tent spilling in. yoongi remembers, suddenly, that they’re still at the circus, that it isn’t just them.

“jeongguk-ah!” the woman calls again. “you’re supposed to be on in ten minutes. where have you been?”

“oh my god,” says jeongguk from behind him. “i completely forgot. i—i’m so sorry, noona, i’ll be right there.” the woman nods her head, stepping back out of the tent, and yoongi doesn’t have time to turn around before jeongguk grabs his hand and starts pulling him toward the exit, out of the tent of stars.

“wait—” he begins.

“i’m sorry, hyung,” jeongguk says hurriedly as they step out of the tent and he steers them back toward the rest of the circus. “i really have to get ready for my act or i’ll be in huge trouble. but, um—will you be here, after? it should only take like, an hour.”

yoongi thinks of the train ticket on his dresser, thinks of all he’s yet to prepare, and he—would, he wants to, but. “jeongguk-ah,” he begins, and jeongguk slows down just enough to look over his shoulder. “i… i can’t stay.”

jeongguk comes to a stop as yoongi slips his hand out of jeongguk’s grasp, and he thinks. this isn’t how he wanted it to go, but maybe it’s for the best. jeongguk has to go back to the circus, because he’s part of the circus. and yoongi has to go, has to find somewhere new. one night in a magical circus was maybe enough. maybe their red string is always meant to be taut.

“oh,” says jeongguk, sounding so disappointed that it brings all that sadness right back, the sadness that jeongguk took from him. “oh, that’s—that’s okay, hyung. i understand. it was… it was really nice to meet you. i had fun.”

jeongguk had said, i’m just a little lonely, is all.

“jeongguk,” he begins again, rethinking it, and jeongguk shakes his head, takes a step back, turns, and he’s leaving, he’s leaving, again, just like the first time, and, and—“i lied to you,” says yoongi, loud enough to make jeongguk stop. he keeps his eyes trained somewhere past jeongguk’s head, even as he sees the boy turn to look at him. “about my magic. i can—i can see the future, but i can only see the future when i touch the strings.”

a beat, a spell, a moment—“what strings?”

yoongi swallows tightly. he looks down, then, at their string. he wraps his thumb around it once, twice, like a safety net. “red strings of fate,” he says. “i can see red strings of fate. i can… see soulmates. that’s my magic.” he lifts his eyes carefully, sees how jeongguk has stopped to look at him: a little confused. a little intrigued. “we’re… jeongguk-ah. your string and my string are the same. we’re—” he stops, stalls. swallows against the lump in his throat. “we’re soulmates.”

he keeps his eyes trained on jeongguk’s face, afraid to see his reaction—afraid of anger, of pain. he’d never want that for jeongguk. but jeongguk just looks at him for a long time, acrobatic act forgotten.

and then jeongguk says, “prove it.”

yoongi has never had to. every other time he’s told someone about his magic, they’ve called him a freak or asked if he was joking. but jeongguk doesn’t doubt him—not the way the others did. so yoongi reaches down for their string, picks it up, and wraps it around his hand a few times, until it’s taut, watching jeongguk the whole time.

and then he pulls.

jeongguk’s hand is immediately pulled forward, and the rest of him along with it, stumbling the few steps between them until he almost crashes right into yoongi’s chest, were it not for yoongi being prepared, were it not for yoongi catching him. for a second, jeongguk stays there, awkwardly held in yoongi’s arm, before he says, “oh.” and then jeongguk straightens up again, taking a tiny step back and staring at him, wide-eyed—fearful this time, just a little. confused. mostly—mostly amazed.

“i’m sorry i didn’t tell you earlier,” yoongi says quickly. “i knew… from the moment i saw you, i knew. but i didn’t want to say anything because i didn’t want to force you into anything. i didn’t want you to think that i was hanging out with you just because of that, and i wasn’t because you’re—you’re really lovely and pretty and a great person, and us being soulmates doesn’t have anything to do with me liking you, although i do li—”

“stop talking,” says jeongguk, and yoongi immediately shuts his mouth. “i’m not mad at you. i get it—s’why i didn’t tell you about my magic earlier, either.”

“oh,” whispers yoongi.

“and for the record, i like you too.”

“we don’t have to do anything,” yoongi adds. “soulmates don’t have to end up together. sometimes it’s better that they don’t.”

jeongguk grins. “what if it’s better that they do?”

it’s—something they have to talk about properly, probably. but before yoongi can open his mouth, someone is calling jeongguk’s name again and he peers down the alley to see the woman from before gesturing wildly at him, calling about show time in five minutes. and. what if it doesn’t change anything?

“i really have to go,” says jeongguk.

“please be safe,” whispers yoongi, and jeongguk seems to waver, looks like he might kiss yoongi again or like he might run away, and then—

“come with us,” says jeongguk. “with me. come with me.”

“what?”

“you’re leaving anyway, right? why not—why not leave with us? you don’t have to be a part of the circus, but you can travel with us, even for a little bit. you can…” he falters here, the confidence wavering. “you can be with me, even for a little bit.”

he knows what jeongguk is asking. and it feels like—it feels like jeongguk sees it, too, understands something about home. yoongi is looking for one, and maybe he’s found it here. maybe he hasn’t found it yet, but maybe it will be here. maybe jeongguk can be that for him.

jeongguk-ah!” the woman calls from behind them.

“just think about it,” jeongguk says quickly. “just—please, hyung? please think about it?” and yoongi nods, a little numbly, and jeongguk darts forward at the last second, pressing a kiss to yoongi’s cheek before he turns and hurries away, back toward his tent, their string unravelling and following after him as he goes.

yoongi watches jeongguk’s performance. he sits near the back, watching as jeongguk appears with the hoop hovering just above him. now that he knows that this has nothing to do with magic and everything to do with skill, there’s something even more magical about the way jeongguk moves. he’s lithe and elegant, twisting through the hoop to the delight of the audience. he knows how to charm them, knows how to work them all so that they’re hanging on his every move, convinced that he’s going to fall only for jeongguk to grab the hoop at the last second, to leave them all breathless and wanting.

yoongi watches him. and he thinks about the magic part of jeongguk that has been kept hidden, because it’s not worthy enough to be part of the circus, according to the ring master. he thinks of his own magic that has been hidden because it makes him wrong, somehow, in the eyes of his parents and the rest of the world. he thinks about jeongguk’s determination to be happy here with what he has, to understand that he needs the sadness, too, even if he doesn’t always want it. he thinks about jeongguk wanting to find home in the midst of something like this, and how, somehow, yoongi has become it, soulmate or not.

he thinks about how jeongguk has somehow become his point of home, too. soulmate or not. their string hangs down from jeongguk’s hand, twisting and turning along with him, sometimes seeming to wrap him up but never doing so—always letting jeongguk be free. and that’s it, yoongi thinks. they’re soulmates, but it’s always been about choice.

jeongguk hangs from the hoop by one of his knees, slowly turning, and their eyes suddenly meet in the middle of a crowded room—jeongguk lifts his left hand and wraps his hand around an invisible string, the one he can’t see. he gives it a little tug, not enough to move yoongi, but enough for him to know.

yoongi knows his choice—he wraps his hand around his end of the string, giving it a tiny tug back. and jeongguk grins, wide and blinding, only for him even in the middle of a circus. and yoongi thinks—he chooses magic, and soulmates, and home. he chooses this.