It’s going to be Summer soon.
Yoongi isn’t looking forward to it. He’s a winter person; sweaters, turtlenecks, extremely hot coffee, the weight of heavy blankets making it a lot harder to get out of bed. He likes those things.
He sighs and turns his head to the side: from where he’s sitting on the emergency metal staircase at the back of his flat, he has a decent view of the little garden of the condo. It’s not much. Most of the bushes will be dry and dead as soon as summer hits Seoul at its fullest.
Yoongi rubs his neck before he leans with his shoulder against the staircase railing and sits a bit straighter: the position is more comfortable than before. He pats his jeans for his lighter and, once he finds it, he lights up the cigarette that he’s been keeping between his lips for a while now, for enough time that the filter feels unpleasantly moist when he breathes in smoke. He rubs his nose, swears he can smell someone frying kimchi from one of the apartments; maybe it’s granny Jihae, from the floor above his. He hasn’t seen her in a while, last time they met she had promised him some homemade food that she was going to bring him. She must have forgotten.
Yoongi throws a look at the window of his flat, left opened so that he can walk back inside. The lights are turned off in the house, but it’s still sunny. The days have been getting longer.
It’s going to be Summer soon.
Yoongi feels himself swallowing thickly, almost with some difficulty. He takes another drag of smoke and waits. His phone hasn’t buzzed once. It’s been three hours, but it hasn’t buzzed again, not once. Yoongi notices that he’s been nibbling at the flesh around his nails and he swears he can hear his voice going “That’s so bad for you, hyung. So bad.” echoing from somewhere in his head. With a grimace, Yoongi drops his hand on his lap and puckers his lips around the cigarette again.
“So bad for you, hyung. So bad. And your hands are so pretty too, so—
Maybe Yoongi should make a call. Maybe not. It could be such a bad idea, calling right now. His hand hovers near the phone but, in the end, he doesn’t grab it.
It gets quiet outside all of a sudden, or maybe it was slowly and Yoongi simply noticed just now. It gets quiet enough that Yoongi is able to hear the crisp noise the cigarette paper makes when he takes a drag and it burns into a small, crimson circle that then fades to white ash. Then, he thinks he hears the sound of a bus in the distance, from the main road in front of the condo.
The sky is turning pink and orange with a sunset despite the days getting longer lately.
It’s going to be Summer soon and—
The noise of metallic steps reaches him and he throws away the cigarette, already standing up. Yoongi doesn’t move and waits, hearing the sounds of someone climbing up the stairs getting closer and closer and closer, until—
“Ah.” Jungkook blinks at him and halts his movements, one hand curled around the metal rail, the other around the strap of his huge backpack. After a moment, he smiles. “Sorry. It took me a while.”
Yoongi breathes in through his nose, exhales from his mouth. His eyes follow Jungkook’s figure closely, taking in every step he makes as he starts climbing up again, noticing the bruised chin and split lip, and the little hunch of his shoulders.
“Hyung, where you waiting for me?” Jungkook stands on the step right below Yoongi’s. Still, he’s as tall as him.
Yoongi swears he can remember a time when Jungkook was shorter than him.
“You were, weren’t you?” Jungkook grins and there’s this small glint of cockiness in his eyes that makes Yoongi want to scoff at him. “Waiting for me, I mean.”
Of course I was, Yoongi wants to say. Almost does.
With a sigh, Yoongi raises his hand and, careful, he taps the pad of his finger on the fresh bruise on his chin. Jungkook’s grin falters for a second, his eyes get wider.
“What happened?” Yoongi asks.
Jungkook just smiles. He looks past Yoongi, at the window of the man’s flat, then at Yoongi again. He tilts his head to the side a little, presses his lips together. His hand tightens around the strap of his backpack and Yoongi squints at the dried blood on his knuckles, makes it to say something, but Jungkook beats him to it.
“Hyung,” he says. “Remember that promise you made me?”
Yoongi looks at him and he wonders briefly if there’s a way to train his own heart to beat less loudly, less quickly, less violently. A weak machine like his heart should probably be tamed, one way or another.
It’s going to kill him sooner or later.
“Yeah,” he replies. His voice comes out soft, almost shy. “I remember.”
Jungkook nods. He, too, seems bashful.
“Can we do that now?” Jungkook asks.
Yoongi eyes the backpack again.
“I didn’t find a place yet,” Yoongi says. “You know that, right?”
Jungkook nods. “I don’t care.”
It’s not that he doesn’t care.
He probably does, way more than Yoongi could possibly imagine. The truth is, he doesn’t have a choice, does he? Not anymore.
Yoongi steps aside and he nods towards the opened window.
“Come on,” he says. “But we’re ordering food. I can’t be arsed to cook.”
Jungkook hesitates. Behind him, the sky is turning red with a sunset despite the days getting longer and Yoongi thinks that Summer chases after Jungkook the same way Yoongi’s heart chases after—
“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says. His voice shakes just enough to make Yoongi ache. “Hyung, I’m sorry because we-we had a promise and—”
“Jungkook-ah,” Yoongi sighs and he offers Jungkook his hand. “Come inside with hyung, mh?”
Jungkook’s lips wobble for a second and he looks like a child all over again. Still, he holds Yoongi’s hand and lets himself be dragged inside the house, entering from the window like they’re trying to hide something.
Inside, Jungkook kicks off his shoes and he walks deeper into the small flat; he drops the backpack on the floor and then heads to the brown piano with a little stutter in his breath. Yoongi crosses his arms over his chest, watches Jungkook as he caresses the piano’s keyboard with the tips of his fingers, gently, making sure he doesn’t actually push them. Yoongi’s nails dig in the skin of his bicep and he looks away.
“In case you forgot,” Yoongi begins saying and he waits for Jungkook to turn to him, “I don’t have a spare bed.”
Jungkook does this thing where he speaks very quietly when it’s about things that upset him.
Yoongi dabs the disinfectant-soaked cotton ball over Jungkook’s knuckles and listens, strains his neck to really catch every single word that Jungkook whispers, to what has actually happened. It’s not that far off from what he imagined.
“He didn’t even hit me,” Jungkook murmurs. “He did it by mistake.”
“Really. He turned around all of a sudden and just hit my chin with his elbow. I was sitting down so the height was just right. It wasn’t even on purpose.” Jungkook frowns and keeps whispering. “Honestly, dad doesn’t care enough about me to hit me.”
Jungkook blinks and looks down at his own hand being held by Yoongi’s. Now that Yoongi got rid of the dried blood, the skin looks split open in some points, heavily gruffed in others.
“I punched a wall.”
Yoongi shakes his head and he gets off the bed. He collects the dirty cotton and goes to throw them in the trash bin. “Why the hell would you do that?”
“Why did you use to you burn stuff?”
Yoongi twists around to look at him. Jungkook looks like he’s already ashamed of what he said and he starts fiddling with the sleeves of his hoodie.
“I did it because I wanted to see if that would have gotten a reaction out of them.”
Of course he did.
Yoongi sits back on the bed and he sighs. “Well? Did it?”
As soon as they got upstairs to the lofted area, Jungkook had opened the window: it’s dark outside now, but the air smells like spring and lingering sunlight, smells like summer is coming.
Chasing after them. After Jungkook.
In the end, Jungkook shrugs. “Mom looked worried for a bit. But then she realized I didn’t actually break my hand. Or the wall. So she stopped caring.”
Yoongi opens the box of bandaids and starts unwrapping one. “And your father?”
Yoongi always thought that Jungkook had a smile too big for his face.
“He just looked at me and sighed,” he replies, then remains silent for a few seconds. When he speaks again, his voice is still low. “I was going to leave anyway. Sooner or later.”
“Yeah, you were.” Yoongi gestures for Jungkook to give him his hand again. Once the boy does as asked, Yoongi carefully places the first band aid on the bruised skin. “But this is sudden.”
“I didn’t even find a place yet.”
“Do you want me to leave?”
“No.” Yoongi throws him a glance. “I want you to be sure of this.”
Jungkook doesn’t reply immediately. Yoongi lets him take his time, focuses on applying another band aid on the skin that tore open over Jungkook’s knuckles; in his head, a memory with similar images flashes fast, makes his fingers twitch for a second as it comes, but it fades away just as quickly.
There’s this thing about the last days of Spring: the colors are pretty and kind, pinks never too bright, reds and oranges always a bit quieter than usual, and the air smells different. Smells like fizzy soda sounds.
“I’m sure,” Jungkook says in the end.
Yoongi knows he is. The truth is, he’s not sure about himself.
It’s not like he has a choice.
“Okay, then.” Yoongi grabs the plastic wraps of the band aids and goes to throw them in the bin. “The flat is small, though.”
“It’s really not a big deal, hyung.”
“No, I just mean that I gotta work harder in finding another place.”
Yoongi thinks he hears Jungkook holding back a gasp. He turns around and quirks up an eyebrow. “What?”
“Just—” Jungkook blinks.
“You living here doesn’t change stuff,” Yoongi says. He has to look away then; he focuses on the staircase that leads downstairs, to the main floor. “I made you a promise.”
It was Winter when he made that promise and his voice sounded a lot heavier than it is now, the sky was dark with rain and Jungkook looked smaller, less bright, more scared.
Now it’s Spring and it’s going to be Summer soon.
Yoongi glances at Jungkook, sees him opening his mouth to say something, but that’s when the doorbell rings. Jungkook startles and Yoongi sighs.
“That’s probably the food,” he says before going to the staircase. As he climbs down the stairs, the carpeted steps creak under his weight. Sooner or later they’re gonna give up on him, he’s sure of it. He walks past the old, crooked sofa and heads to the door, straightening his t-shirt before he opens it. Grabbing the plastic bag with the two boxes of spicy fried chicken is a quick affair, the delivery-boy keeps his head low, his helmet still on, and he accepts the money Yoongi gives him with a quiet thank you and bow. Yoongi closes the door, nudging it with his foot, then turns around and drops the bag of food on the sofa.
He goes upstairs again then, ready to tell Jungkook that there’s food and that he should eat something, but his voice dies down the moment he spots Jungkook laying on the bed, in the middle of the mattress.
For a few moments, Yoongi stands by the end of the bed without knowing what to do. Hesitating, Yoongi found out a few years ago, quickly becomes the norm when it’s about Jungkook. Actually, a lot of things become the norm when they’re about him, only Jungkook seems to remain completely and utterly impossible. Inexplicable. The one exception in a very ordinary and well rounded universe.
Jungkook is breathing slowly, his back rising and falling in a quiet rhythm. He’s still wearing his clothes, the ripped jeans, the t-shirt and the yellow jacket. With a quiet sigh, Yoongi starts peeling the jacket off Jungkook, slowly and carefully because he doesn’t want to wake him up, he’s actually surprised and relieved that Jungkook fell asleep in the first place. He finally manages to take the jacket off, Jungkook groaned quietly when Yoongi pulled at the left sleeve but he kept on sleeping, squirmed a bit on the bed.
Yoongi looks around himself for a couple of seconds, not sure on what to do. In the end, he puts away Jungkook’s jacket and climbs on the bed too, sitting at the top of it and fixing a pillow between the wall and his back.
This isn’t what he was expecting.
Or at least, not so soon. It was going to happen, sooner or later, but Yoongi didn’t imagine that it was going to be so sudden.
Jungkook acts like he’s okay and that he’s fine with this but he kept whispering instead of speaking up, so what’s the truth?
What if his family comes looking for him? Yoongi knows that if they did, they’d come knocking on Yoongi’s door first. What would he do then? Would he fight them off? How? He’s not a fighter, his will isn’t particularly strong and his heart is extremely weak, so—
Jungkook mumbles something in his sleep and turns until he’s laying on his side, knees raised up close to his stomach. Yoongi brings his hand to Jungkook’s hand and buries his fingers between brown hair, the pads of his fingers brushing against the younger man’s scalp.
His hair got too long. And it’s always so messy because Jungkook can’t be bothered to brush it, never could.
With Summer chasing after Jungkook and dooming over Yoongi’s shoulder, it is with an impossibly heavy and tight dread that he realizes he doesn’t know how to take care of them both.
He doesn’t know.
The first time they met, they were in a dimly lit room that smelled of dust and humidity.
There were five more people but Yoongi remembers that his gaze kept being pulled to one of them in particular. He doesn’t know why.
He wasn’t particularly interesting.
Jungkook was a lot younger than he is now and his nose sat too big on his face, his shoulders were a lot narrower than they are today and his gaze seemed to be as lost as Yoongi felt.
A quiet, lost, scrawny little thing. Not particularly interesting.
Yoongi couldn’t stop looking.
Maybe, even back then, in a way he already knew.
When Jungkook turned around and his gaze met Yoongi’s, something softened in his eyes and he didn’t seem as lost as before.
The next morning, Jungkook makes them breakfast.
“We need to buy groceries, though,” Jungkook mutters as he puts a bowl of oi naengguk on the table next to Yoongi’s bowl of rice. “I couldn’t make much.”
“You didn’t have to do anything,” Yoongi replies. He doesn’t really have the heart to tell Jungkook he doesn’t usually eat breakfast. “Is that kimchi?”
“There was some in your fridge still.”
Yoongi had forgotten he had any kimchi left, truth be told. In the end, Jungkook hands Yoongi a cup of warm coffee too and then sits on the other side of the small wooden table, already digging in his food.
“It’s an apology for yesterday,” Jungkook manages to say despite the mouthful of rice. “‘Cus I fell asleep and didn’t eat the chicken you got us.”
“It’s fine, really.”
“But I put it in the fridge. If we heat it up later it’s still gonna be good, right?”
“If you like soggy chicken, then yeah.”
“I like anything.”
“Then it’s gonna be delicious.” Yoongi takes a sip of coffee and looks at Jungkook, eating happily. This feels oddly domestic. Maybe a bit too much.
Yoongi squirms in his seat and then forces some bites of food down his throat. They stay quiet for a while as they eat and Yoongi sends a look at the window; it’s very sunny. No clouds. Bright blue sky and green trees with leaves that sway to the side when the breeze is strong enough.
Spring already is feeling too much like Summer.
“Do you have plans for today?”
Yoongi looks at Jungkook, finds the boy staring back at him. “Huh?”
“If you have something to do.”
“I have work.”
Jungkook blinks. “You work.”
“Well, I have to pay bills somehow.”
“Right.” Jungkook chuckles but it’s strained. “You didn’t work last time we met. But that was a while ago, so—”
Three months. It was still Autumn when they last met. Or heard from each other at all. Yoongi looks down to the bowl of rice in front of him and he barely made a dent in it but his stomach has totally shut down now. Jungkook, too, has stopped eating.
Yoongi feels like it’s his fault, so he clears his voice and manages a tight smile. “What are you gonna do today, mh?”
Jungkook stays quiet for a few seconds, flicks with his thumb at his glass of water. “Maybe I’ll find a job too.”
Yoongi frowns. Jungkook sends him a shy glance, then shrugs. “I live here, I should pay my side of the bills right?”
“You don’t have to do anything.”
“That’s not fair. I should find a job and help out.”
Yoongi scoffs. “You should study, that’s what—”
“Don’t.” Jungkook looks down at the table. “Don’t talk like my dad.”
Yoongi feels like that’s a low blow and he’s sure Jungkook knows that. “I don’t want you to worry too much about money. Plus, you have something saved up right? So don’t, like, rush it.”
“But I want to help!” Jungkook exclaims and, suddenly, he sounds like a whiny child. His mouth is even pulling into a pout. “Let me help you out, hyung.”
“Jungkook-ah, I mean it, I can cover the bills by myself and—”
“I don’t mean just the bills.”
Something weird, bitter and nasty start twisting around in Yoongi’s stomach. It’s like it has tiny claws and they dig deep enough to sting but not enough to hurt. Yoongi is familiar with this feeling and, yet, he still hasn’t learned how to control it.
“I’ll take care of finding the new place,” Yoongi retorts, quiet. He takes cup of coffee, lukewarm by now, and takes a small sip. “I’ll find us a new place. I’ll get another part time if necessary, but I’ll do it.”
Small and pleading, maybe even tired, Jungkook breathes, “Hyung.”
“It’s my promise. So I should make it happen.”
“Thought it was our promise.”
When Yoongi looks back at Jungkook he’s met with an angry glare and the Spring sun behind his frame. The sight alone could terrify a God, Yoongi thinks.
This, in turn, makes the nasty thing in his stomach dig its little claws deeper into his flesh and Yoongi grimaces, stands up too quickly and makes Jungkook startle when the chair drags on the floor with a rough sound.
“Fine then,” Yoongi says, flat and proud and annoyed without a real reason. “Find a job. See how you like that.”
Jungkook doesn’t reply. He looks at the little rice left in his bowl with his fingers fisting the material of his tee-shirt and trembling lips.
God, Yoongi is gonna hate himself for this as soon as he steps out of this apartment.
“I need to go, my shift starts soon,” Yoongi mutters. “Thanks for the food.”
Jungkook’s eyebrows pull together. He murmurs, very quietly, “You didn’t even eat.” and Yoongi pretends he doesn’t hear.
He grabs his things, stuffs them in the pockets of his jacket and after he opens the door, just before he steps out, he hears Jungkook exclaim, “And I’m sleeping on the couch from now on!”
Yoongi shuts the door and, already, feels like he wants to close his eyes, fall asleep, and not think about the tiny claws scratching his stomach.
Yoongi works in a pojangmacha near Hongdae.
The tent is of an obnoxiously bright orange and it has a huge hole on one side that they keep trying to fix with tape. It never holds much.
During Winter, the inside of the tent smells of hotteok, dakkochi and soju, it’s always warm and the transparent bits of plastic of the tent are always fogged up. In Summer, the inside of the tent smells of hotteok, gimbap, soju and sweat. It’s way too warm. The transparent bits of the tent are always fogged up.
In Spring and Autumn, though, the tents don’t fog up much and the food doesn’t smell as strongly. The temperature is just right and the soju smells better.
At least, Yoongi thinks so.
The owner of the place is this old man who is even smaller than Yoongi and always smells like soap. He said he hired Yoongi because he looked like his grandson that he never gets to see, so he felt like Yoongi was going to be the next best option. Yoongi wasn’t going to question it.
The old man’s name is Lee Byungwook and he likes to act like he hates his pojangmacha and his regular clients. In reality, Yoongi thinks that Byungwook simply misses the times when he ran this place together with his wife. She died a couple of years ago, apparently.
Byungwook always slips a little extra in Yoongi’s paycheck and sometimes gives him the leftover food from the day. Always lets Yoongi have free weekends unless he really can’t help it.
Yoongi likes him.
It’s evening now and inside the tent it’s weirdly quiet, the breeze that seeps in through the gaps of the tent smells lively. It’s a lazy evening, but Yoongi knows that once the sun will set more clients will come. For now, it’s just the usual regulars: Byungwook’s friends, two old men who live around the block and like to pretend to be bitter and mad at the youth, and a businessman who just got out of work and always stops here on the way for a bottle of soju and a serving of spicy tteokbokki.
He always looks quite miserable, but there’s a smile pulling at his lips whenever he starts sipping at his soju, like this is one of the few pleasures of life that he isn’t willing to let go. Yoongi is throwing away the dirty paper dishes when Byungwook calls him over to the table where he’s sitting at, in between his two friends.
“Your tall friend is here again,” Byunwook tells him and waves a hand at him dismissively. “Get your break, kid.”
Yoongi thanks him and then he walks out of the tent, looking for—
Namjoon looks up from his phone and grins at him, two deep dimples settling at the corners of his mouth, eyes wide and bright and all kinds of wise. Because Namjoon looks like a young man with the gaze of a five centuries old spirit who keeps on roaming the Earth in a human body just for the kicks of it.
“What are you doing here?” Yoongi asks and he starts patting the pockets of his green apron to find his pack of cigarettes. “Need something?”
“Was walking by, thought of checking if you were working,” Namjoon replies and he pushes back his hair. He dyed it pink. It looks strangely good on him. “Rough day?”
Yoongi lights up a cigarette and he shrugs as he exhale smoke, then he crouches down, legs spread wide, elbows resting on his bent knees. “Not really. Lazy day at work. Why?”
Namjoon frowns. “But something happened, right?”
Yoongi sighs. Fucking centuries old roaming spirit. For sure.
Namjoon smells of autumn leaves after a thunderstorm and he quit college two months ago because “restrictions and deadlines terrify me more than death does”, but he still sneaks in to listen to the lectures.
“Hyung,” Namjoon adds then. “Did you know that when you crouch like that you look like an old drunkard?”
“Fuck you.” Yoongi brings the cigarette to his mouth. “Jungkook is staying at my flat.”
Namjoon’s eyebrows rise up. “Huh?”
“He ran from home.”
“I don’t know what happened exactly. But he said he couldn’t stay anymore.” Yoongi shrugs. “You know his parents. I’m glad he finally got out of there.”
They stay in silence for a while. From inside the tent, Byungwook yells at his friends that they’re cheating motherfuckers and that there’s hell waiting for friends who cheat at Go-Stop.
“And you can handle that?” Namjoon asks. Very mindful, very gentle. Usual Namjoon. “Having Jungkook around like that, I mean.”
Yoongi sniffs and then he shrugs, takes another drag of smoke. “It’s not like it wasn’t in the plans already. Living with him.”
Yoongi frowns. “Is it?”
Namjoon rolls his eyes at him. Sometimes Yoongi feels like Namjoon believes Yoongi constantly tries to take the piss at him, or is purposefully oblivious. The truth is that, most of the times, Yoongi struggles a lot with understanding things that are about himself.
“I guess I’m just worried,” Namjoon begins saying. “You’re the type of person who always feels like he has to take responsibility of everything. And everyone. You’re going to do it with Jungkook, you already have been for a long time now.”
Abruptly, Yoongi feels defensive. He breathes out smoke and arches an eyebrow. “And what’s bad about that?”
“Nothing.” Namjoon sends him a knowing look. “If it wasn’t for the feelings on the side.”
Yoongi’s upper lip twitches. Those tiny claws start digging again.
“Let’s change subject,” Yoongi mutters and he pretends he doesn’t see Namjoon’s shit-eating grin.
“Of course.” Namjoon looks around himself. The sky has turned pink at the horizon, framing the buildings’ silhouettes with a warm, orange glow. Then, he nods towards the tent. “Is this place gonna close for the Summer?”
“Mmh,” Yoongi hums. “In August.”
“Hoseok and Jimin have been trying to organize something. Like a trip.”
“And is Seokjin okay with that?”
Namjoon nods. “He’s encouraging it, even.”
Yoongi rolls his shoulders and then ducks his head, sighing at the feeling of his back stretching.
Namjoon stays quiet. Yoongi looks at him and finds him staring at the sky. These are the moments when Namjoon looks less like a spirit and more like a lost kid.
“Maybe you should ask him,” Yoongi says, careful.
“Maybe,” Namjoon replies. A bit curt. He blinks and turns to Yoongi, smiling again. “Anyway. Tell Jungkook. I gotta go now, my shift at the gas station is gonna start soon.”
Yoongi nods and he stands back up straight. “You ate, yeah?”
“Joon, if you haven’t I can sneak some gimbap out for you, y’know?”
Namjoon shakes his head and begins walking away, waving at Yoongi with his hand. “Don’t worry! And careful on the way back home! I’ll text you!”
“Hyung, be kind to yourself, yeah?”
“Just go, you tall freak.”
Namjoon laughs and turns around, walks into the crowd that always forms around this time of the evening and slowly blends in. Somehow, Yoongi feels like his laughter is still around, being carried by the Spring breeze.
Definitely a roaming spirit.
Byungwook decides to close the pojangmacha earlier because it’s clear at one point that, for tonight, nobody is coming. Lazy nights happen. Sometimes even Seoul wants to rest.
Yoongi gets home a few minutes before ten P.M. and as soon as he opens the door, he can smell food being cooked. The lights are on. He’s not alone in the flat. It feels weird to suddenly come back to someone else in his house when he had gotten so used to being alone.
Yoongi closes the door and kicks off his shoes, then he heads to the kitchen, finds Jungkook heating up yesterday’s chicken in the microwave and cooking rice in a pot.
“You haven’t eaten yet?” Yoongi asks, walking closer to the stove.
Jungkook doesn’t look at him, keeps his gaze steady on the microwave. “Wasn’t hungry.”
He was waiting for Yoongi, wasn’t he? He should give Jungkook his shifts, so that he doesn’t starve for him.
Yoongi then notices that all his mugs are clean and neatly organized up on the shelf above the stove. And his dishes, too, they’re out of the sink so they must have been washed. He looks down at the floor. Damn spotless.
Yoongi’s mouth twists in a shaky grin; Jungkook acts like children do when they feel like they did something wrong and need to earn their forgiveness.
“An old lady came today,” Jungkook says suddenly. “She said her name’s Jihae.”
“She brought us fried kimchi.”
“She does that sometimes.”
“She was very surprised when I opened the door and not you. But she seems nice.”
“She is, yeah.” They stay quiet for a bit. The plate of fried chicken in the microwave keeps rolling in a circle. “Met with Namjoon.”
Jungkook blinks, still doesn’t look at him. “Yeah?”
“Mh. He said there might be a trip in the making. For this summer, I mean. Apparently Jimin and Hoseok are organizing—”
“I’m sorry about this morning, Yoongi-hyung.”
There they go.
There’s a constant, low hum that comes from the microwave. Jungkook looks down to the floor and shifts his weight from one leg to the other.
Yoongi goes to stand next to him, leaning with his back against the wall.
“Don’t apologize,” he says. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Actually, you were right.” A pause. “You’re right most times.”
“Even though it’s been so long since we last met?”
“I don’t think stuff like that can change.”
Jungkook then takes his hand. It’s not the first time he does it. Actually, Yoongi remembers that back when they both went to highschool, Jungkook would hold his hand quite often. Despite that, Jungkook is still very hesitant when he does it: first he brushes his fingertips along the lines of Yoongi’s knuckles and then, when Yoongi stretches his fingers and opens his hand, Jungkook will fill in the gaps with his own hand. It’s always been like that.
Jungkook is still hesitant.
Yoongi still feels like something in his chest will burst.
“You’ve been biting around your nails again, haven’t you?” Jungkook rubs his thumb over Yoongi’s. “You’re the one who told me not to do it years ago, so why do you not listen to your own advices?”
The microwave suddenly beeps, light turning off. They stand still for a few moments. Jungkook twists his head around to look at Yoongi and they’re closer than Yoongi expected.
“Hyung.” Jungkook grins. “Should we stargaze after we eat?”
Seoul’s sky is never clear enough to see stars. Seoul barely sleeps, there are always lights on. So the sky is rarely clear enough for stars to be seen, especially when Spring starts to get closer and closer to Summer and the days get longer, the sky a dusty pink with orange clouds when the sun sets.
But, still, it’s a thing they do. Did? Back in highschool, they used to do this a lot. Yoongi can’t remember how many summer nights he spent sneaking out of his flat to run over to Jungkook’s house just so they could sit under a blank, dark sky together.
Really, sometimes his actions speak louder than his heart ever could.
“Are we really doing the trip?”
“Hoseok and Jimin want to. Namjoon seemed okay with the idea too.”
“Don’t know. You should ask him.”
Yoongi takes a drag of smoke. “Apparently, he’s encouraging it.”
“I haven’t seen hyung in a while.”
“Yeah, me neither.”
“That cloud looks like a mushroom.”
“Ah. It does.”
Jungkook hums and then crosses his legs, leaning against the metal of the emergency staircase rail with his shoulder, nose towards the sky and a quiet smile curling up his mouth at the corners. He has a bottle of cold beer held loosely by the neck in his left hand but he’s yet to take a sip.
Yoongi’s eyes fall on the column of Jungkook’s throat, skin smooth and soft-looking, with a mole on the left side. Yoongi stares at it, at that particular spot of Jungkook’s skin.
He wants to press his mouth there.
“Do you think they’d give me freebies if I worked at a 7Eleven?”
Yoongi blinks and looks away from Jungkook and down to his own hands. He flicks at the cigarette with his thumb and shrugs. “I don’t know.”
“I think they do. Or, like, they let you take the stuff the store ends up not selling in time.”
“Lots of banana milk to bring back home.”
“Lots of instant ramyeon too, though. And bread. You like bread, hyung.”
“The more you talk about it, the more I feel like you should work at a 7Eleven.”
When their usual silence falls again, Yoongi can’t help but look back at Jungkook. Truly, it’s like as soon as he stops thinking, as soon as he’s not given any sort of distraction, the world starts pulling him towards and to Jungkook. It’s tiring, fighting against a pull like that. But Yoongi still tries, loses every time.
Finally, Jungkook brings the bottle of bear to his mouth and takes a few, generous gulps. When he pulls back, his lips are shiny and slick and so very red, Yoongi imagines they taste of cheap beer and that watermelon chapstick that Jungkook used to always carry around when they were younger, he imagines they’d feel soft, he imagines—
Jungkook looks at him, his eyes widen for a moment, then he presses his lips together and tilts his chin up, staring once again at a dark, empty sky.
Yoongi sometimes wonders if Jungkook is aware of the way he’s being looked at. The way Yoongi looks at him.
There are moments when he thinks he does. When Jungkook blushes just a little and tries not to smile, happy and proud and bashful that Yoongi is looking at him like there’s no one else in the world.
Other times, most times, Jungkook just looks away and switches the attention on another subject.
This is one of those times.
“You know, I was scared about the future back when I was at my parents’ house,” Jungkook says. Quietly, almost in a whisper. He drinks some more, then rolls his shoulders. “I was terrified of it. But now I’m not. Right now, I mean. Isn’t it weird? ‘Cause now I don’t have any sort of certainty. No security. I don’t have any idea of what’s gonna happen. But the future seems a lot less frightening.”
Yoongi puckers his lips around the butt of the cigarette and breathes in smoke, then blows it out. “Why?”
Is it because of me?
Jungkook turns to Yoongi and gazes at him with a sort of look that makes Yoongi’s heart stutter and cry out in his chest.
Please, say that you’re less scared because I’m here.
Jungkook grins and then, abruptly, he stands up and pats at his jeans. He starts climbing back inside the flat from the window and Yoongi sighs, throws away the cigarette and gets up as well, following Jungkook inside.
“I’m tired,” Jungkook says. “Can I use the shower? Or do you wanna go first?”
Yoongi shakes his head. “Go for it, don’t worry.”
“‘kay. Thanks.” He makes it to leave but hesitates. “I don’t actually want to sleep on the couch.”
May washes upon them with a certain gentleness, like Spring is trying to say “There’s still some time, don’t panic just yet”.
Jungkook does end up working at a 7Eleven, because Jungkook is all kinds of stubborn and he loves his snacks. After the first week of work, he comes back with a bag full of packs of different flavored instant ramyeon and a blissful, almost dazed glint in his eyes.
“They really do give you what they don’t sell, hyung,” he had whispered in awe.
Yoongi never thought one could get tired of eating ramyeon and too much sodium, but life never fails to prove him wrong.
Despite May being so gentle when it comes, the heat starts picking up as if it’s saying “Yeah, sure, there is some time still. But time moves quick.”
Summer, in the end, will come and Yoongi can’t stop it.
Sometimes, when they sleep, Jungkook starts muttering things in his sleep. Most of the time they make no sense, just random, quiet words and slurs. But whenever it happens, Jungkook always sounds like he’s distressed and in pain and his eyebrows pull together and he starts kicking his legs in this sluggish, lazy kind of way. When that happens, Yoongi finds himself brushing Jungkook’s hair off his forehead, whispering that it’s just a dream, everything is fine, just a dream, find a better dream and focus on that instead.
After a while, Jungkook will sigh and he’ll fall back into a blissful, maybe dreamless sleep.
Byungwook's tent gets new regulars.
They're four foreigners, when they speak Korean it's thick with an American accent, all around Yoongi's age, probably here in a student exchange program. They seem to love the pojangmacha, they probably think it's some sort of super typical, cultural thing. Yoongi doesn't have the heart to tell them that the governement has been trying to shut down pojangmachas for years because they're not exactly legal and, apparently, also an eyesore for locals.
Still, Americans like to tip so Yoongi doesn't complain. Neither does Byungwook.
One day, Jimin and Hoseok come visit him at work.
It feels weird seeing Jimin again after all this time. Too much time, surely. It has Yoongi hesitating once he pushes the plastic tent aside.
He feels like Jimin is the one who changed the most since they were kids.
“Hyung!” Jimin exclaims once Yoongi finally walks out of the tent. He lets go of Hoseok's hand and walks closer to him, smiling happily. “It's been so long, hasn't it?”
Yoongi hums. He realizes that he's smiling back without even meaning to. “Mmh. What's that color, huh?”
Jimin rolls his eyes and he cards his fingers through locks of extremely orange hair. “Hoseok-hyung tried his best.”
“I think it looks good, I don't know what the fuss is,” Hoseok mutters as he goes to stand by Jimin's side. “Besides, you're one to talk hyung.”
Yoongi shrugs. Ever since he dyed it green, his hair has been fucked. He stopped caring a long time ago, hair grows back anyway.
“How are you two doing, mh?” Yoongi asks. He grabs a cigarette from his pack and then offers one to Hoseok, who accepts with a nod.
Jimin starts telling him about the small coreographing jobs Hoseok managed to land, raves about them, really, and then, a lot more bashful, tells him about the dance studio where he's been accepted. Maybe he'll get to dance in an idol's music video, who knows.
Yoongi listens without saying much, crouching down as usual and stretching his muscles like that, breathing in smoke and then blowing it out with a small smile dancing on his mouth, pulling at his lips.
He thinks Spring fits Jimin and Hoseok a lot more than any other season.
“Ah, hyung, the pojangmacha closes in August, yeah?” Hoseok asks suddenly.
“Then you're coming with us, you have no excuses.”
“Ah,” Yoongi sighs. “You mean the roadtrip, yeah? Namjoon told me something about it.”
“Yep!” Jimin hooks his chin on Hoseok's shoulder, grinning from ear to ear. “We’re gonna have an actual roadtrip! Like, with stops and everything.”
Yoongi frowns. “Stops.”
“Because Jin-hyung has a house on the beach,” Hoseok explains. He, too, looks extremely excited. “And so, before we spend a week or so at that house, we were thinking of camping for a night!”
Yeah, Yoongi knows of the damn house.
The tips of his fingers itch in an uncomfortable way and he brings the cigarette to his mouth again. After a deep drag of smoke he clears his voice. “Jin-hyung is giving us the house?”
Jimin nods. “Yeah.”
Yoongi hums, clicks his tongue. “'s that so?”
Jimin blinks, seemingly confused. By his side, Hoseok narrows his eyes at Yoongi, as if he's telling him to drop it. Which is fine and dandy and easy for Hoseok to say, considering he's not the one who got royally fucked when—
“Nothing,” Yoongi mutters. “Don't mind me.”
Jimin frowns and there's something sad tugging at his expression.
“You don’t wanna come?” He asks then, voice small and eyes pleading. Enough to make Yoongi feel like an asshole.
“Ah, no, Jimin-ah, of course I wanna come.” Yoongi is quick to reply. He twists towards the pojangmacha. “As long as that drunk ahjussi over there gives me my summer break!”
From inside the tent, Byungwook yells, “Respect your elders!”
When Jimin speaks again he has that grin of his back on his face.
“Jungkook really wants to go! He seems excited,” he says.
At the mention of Jungkook, Yoongi's fingers twitch faintly. “Ah, you spoke with him?”
Hoseok hums. “I went to see him at work a couple of weeks ago? Yeah, two weeks ago. He’s doing okay, yeah?”
A beat of silence. Hoseok looks at him, and then, “Are you sure?”
Something about it makes Yoongi's face sting, makes his chest tigthen and grow hotter.
Almost in a hiss, Yoongi says, “Why are you asking it like I wouldn’t take care of him?”
Hoseok's expression falls. “I didn’t say that.”
No one speaks for a few moments. Jimin's eyes keep flickering from Hoseok to Yoongi, then he claps his hands once and clears his voice.
Jimin has never been great with confrontations. It seems like that, at least, hasn't changed.
“Anyway! We were also thinking of going out for dinner one of these days? Hopefully before we leave for our trip. At that usual place, the one we used to go back in highschool.”
Yoongi wishes he'd know the reason why everyone lately wants to force some sort of fucking nostalgia out of him. He doesn't like remembering those days, he knows damn well that the same goes for the others, so why—
“Yeah, sounds good,” he replies in the end. “That is, if you manage to find a time that works for all of us.”
“We'll manage!” Hoseok exclaims, sounding hopeful. Yoongi can't even remember the last time all seven of them were in the same spot all at once.
He remembers every detail of that day, everything, even the smells, the lights, the—
“We’ll text then.” Jimin checks his wristwatch and gasps. “Ah, shit, we gotta go now.”
Yoongi gets up. “I gotta get back to work too.”
“I'll come visit again if you tell me the food is good,” Jimin adds.
“Then we'll come one of these evenings,” Hoseok smiles. “Don't work too hard, hyung.”
They leave holding hands.
Yoongi stares after them, trying to will whatever weird sense of longing and misery he feels coiling around his ribs.
But he's glad that those two managed to find some sort of happiness. At least them.
Three weeks later, Yoongi gets home with aching feet and sore arms. It had been a hectic day at the pojangmacha, all day tourists and locals alike came and left non-stop, a hoard of people looking for cheap food and even cheaper booze.
As he kicks off his shoes, Yoongi notices that the lights upstairs on the lofted area are on. He sighs and starts climbing up the stairs slowly, grimacing a little at the creaking of the wood under his weight.
He told Jungkook over and over that he shouldn't stay up to wait for him and just go to sleep, but most often than not Jungkook doesn't listen and ends up passing out in bed, still dressed, with the lights on. Yoongi imagines tonight won't be any different.
Jungkook is awake, sitting on the bed, sharing the space with someone else. It takes Yoongi's brain a moment to recognize Taehyung's sleeping face but when he does he rushes to the bed, kneeling on the mattress.
“What happened?” Yoongi asks in a whisper, reaching for Taehyung's face with hesitant fingers. For some reason, Yoongi keeps expecting to see bruises and blood on Taehyung's face despite his father being long gone from his life.
Still, it's as if that fear has lodged itself in his brain like a bullet.
But no, Taehyung looks fine. Just tired and pale, the delicate skin around his eyes is reddened as if he rubbed at it for hours, but he's fine.
“He showed up at where I work,” Jungkook whispers. He, too, seems quite tired. And concern has settled deep in the crease between his brows and the downturn of his lips. “He was just… really weird and upset.”
“Weird?” Yoongi brushes Taehyung's hair away from his eyes and pushes it back.
“He kept talking nonsense. I couldn't even catch his words, he was speaking too quick.” He sighs. “So I told him to wait until my shift was over and come here and- I don’t know, he wouldn’t stop crying, he said something about Namjoon-hyung but—”
“Did they fight?”
Jungkook shrugs, blinking slowly. He looks ready to drop down and fall asleep at any moment.
“I don’t think so? But he was so angry and sad. And then he just fell asleep, I think he was really tired.”
Yoongi hums. “You seem tired too. Get some sleep, yeah?” “
Jungkook looks like he wants to oppose to that for all but five seconds. In the end, he nods and starts laying down, eyes already fluttering closed and body fitting closely against Taehyung's back, an arm curled around his stomach.
Yoongi looks at them for a few moments. They used to sleep like that when they were kids too. It had been weird, seeing Taehyung and Jungkook become close; it had been slow and then, abrupt all of a sudden like the burst of a firework.
He gets off the bed and grabs his phone, typing out a message.
Taehyung is with me
Sent 01:35 AM
The reply comes after barely a few seconds.
Thank you hyung
I was looking for him everywhere
fuck thank you
Received 01:35 AM
Come get him tomorrow morning
Sent 01:36 AM
Yoongi puts away the phone, sees that the window is opened. There's a soft, crisp breeze coming inside, filling the room with a vibrant scent.
It smells a lot like a Summer breeze and Yoongi shivers.
Yoongi wakes up at one point. It's not as dark as he expected in the room, from the opened window there's a cold light coming in, the sun hasn't risen yet but it must be early morning. Yoongi sighs and he stirs before sitting up and realizing that Taehyung is awake too.
Taehyung isn't looking at him. He sits in the center of the bed, cross-legged, a hand buried in Jungkook's hair, fingers carding through it.
Yoongi looks at Taehyung's silhouette and it hurts a little to see how broad his shoulders became whilst Taehyung's posture remained the one of a scared child.
“Did you and Namjoon fight?”
Taehyung's hand twitches for a moment, then he starts stroking Jungkook's hair again.
“No,” he replies in a hoarse voice.
“Then why are you here?” Yoongi asks.
“We didn’t fight,” Taehyung repeats.
Yoongi breathes out slowly and then, quietly, he says, “Okay.”
They stay in silence for a long while after this.
For some reason, after everyone sort of drifted away but also not really, not truly, Taehyung was the only one who kept seeking Yoongi out.
It made no sense at first.
But Taehyung seemed to be able to find Yoongi without even trying. Yoongi once found him waiting outside the pojangmacha despite him not knowing that Yoongi worked there. Found him in front of his apartment one night even though he had never told Taehyung that he lived there. Met him in the middle of empty streets and lonesome alleys.
At first, it made no sense. Now, Yoongi thinks that maybe the reason Taehyung keeps finding him is because Yoongi's the closest to understanding how miserable it feels to be alone.
“He’s good. Too good to me,” Taehyung says all of a sudden. Yoongi doesn't need to ask who Taehyung is referring to. “For me.”
Yoongi sighs and he finds Taehyung's free hand fisting the sheets. He takes it and squeezes it between his fingers. “Don’t say that.”
“But I keep thinking that, and that—“ Taehyung pauses, breathes in. “That I’m a burden to him.”
“I can’t stand feeling that way. It’s not fair.” He turns around and looks at Yoongi with watery eyes and trembling lips. “I pay my part of the bills and I pay for half of the groceries, always, and-and I work the fucking hell shifts in that convenience store. It’s unfair that I still feel like I’m burdening him. I’m not. I know I’m not. We’re not in higschool anymore, I’m not a burden to anyone.”
Yoongi hums, thumb stroking circles on the taut skin of Taehyung's hand.
“Maybe you should start believing that,” he says.
Taehyung seems to stiffen but he doesn't say anything else. Jungkook stirs for a second and Taehyung stops caressing his hair until he settles again with a deep breath.
“You weren’t a burden to him back then either,” Yoongi adds, then he rolls his shoulders. “I texted Namjoon though. He’ll come here tomorrow morning.”
Taehyung nods. “Thank you”
“And maybe you two could talk.”
Yoongi tries a smile and he sees Taehyung's lips quirking up at the corners too. “Namjoon likes to act like he’s an old, wise man, but he’s as clueless as anyone when it comes to these things, I guess. You, on the other hand, are good at talking. You talk a lot.”
Taehyung grimaces. “It’s different.”
“It’s not. If you tell him why you feel the way you feel he’ll bust his ass to make sure you stop believing that. You deserve some reassurance.”
Taehyung blinks. He tilts his head to the side, eyes sharp even in the dim room.
“That’s good advice,” he says.
Yoongi scoffs. “I know.”
“Ever thought about listening to your own advice and applying it to your life?”
This fucking kid.
“You guys are really fucking quick at flipping everything I say and making it about me, y’know?” Yoongi grumbles, slightly irked off. “It’s a fucking talent.”
Softer this time, Taehyung says, “Hyung.”
“I’m fine. We’re fine.” Yoongi lets go of Taehyung's hand. “Jungkook is fine.”
A pause. Outside, a car drives by the building.
“Is he now?”
Yoongi looks at Taehyung and finds him staring right back.
Taehyung always had a sort of violent intrusiveness in his gaze. Always looked at people like he wanted to pull their skin apart to look inside and steal at all their secrets.
“What did he say?” Yoongi asks.
Taehyung arches an eyebrow. “What do you think?”
“Taehyung, what did he tell you?”
And Taehyung has always been so passionately protective of the people he loves, always treated Jungkook and Jimin like they were made of glass and he was the only thing that could have kept them from shattering.
“We’re not in highschool anymore, Yoongi-hyung,” Taehyung murmurs. “You don’t have to keep feeling guilty for something you had no fault in. You can allow yourself to be just a little greedy.”
Yoongi stays quiet.
With a hum, Taehyung drops back down on the mattress, stretching his back.
“Despite you trying so damn hard at it, you can't control your feelings,” Taehyung says as he closes his eyes. “Or his, for that matter.”
It's not that easy. Yoongi wishes it were that easy.
But maybe it is and maybe the truth is that Yoongi is just too scared of exploding.
When it becomes clear that Yoongi won't say anything, Taehyung sighs. “Goodnight, hyung.”
Sometimes, Yoongi fantasizes.
He imagines himself and Jungkook in a made up future where things are different and easier. Where his heart doesn’t feel as heavy as it does now, and where Jungkook's smile is there just because he’s happy, not because he’s trying to hide something.
Sometimes, in those fantasies, Yoongi is brave enough to let himself be loved. To let himself explode.
Not all times.
June is a lot less kind than May. It arrives in a rush and leaves just as quickly. Yoongi has barely time to keep count of all his shifts at the pojangmacha and to notice that the old Byungwook lost some weight before July crushes into them.
There's no stopping time, Yoongi knows it. Hates it.
It's been Summer for a while now and he just refuses to admit it.
They don't meet for that dinner like Jimin said. They try, but their schedules never fit together and so the groupchat is filled with Jimin's disappointed emojis.
The heat became something sticky and gross, oppressive in the way it curls around Yoongi's limbs at night, making him toss and turn and lay awake.
Summer chases after Jungkook, and Jungkook has always let it catch up to him and steal him from the rest of the seasons.
Jungkook is always at his prime during Summer.
Jungkook looks breathtaking.
If he had doubts about Jungkook maybe not realizing how Yoongi looks at him, they start disappearing as July goes on.
It's partly Yoongi's fault. He stops caring about being caught staring at a particular spot of Jungkook's neck, or at the lines of his collarbones. So Jungkook catches him staring. More than once. Up until the point that it becomes too obvious and Jungkook starts blushing about it. Until he stops doing that too, and becomes somewhat more bold. It's in the way he begins carrying himself when he's around Yoongi, it's in the obvious stretching of his neck when they're sitting next to each other, in the choice of tee-shirt he wears to go to sleep, one that shows so much of his collarbones and skin. It's in the careful, still somewhat shy, way he curls his hand around Yoongi's wrist when he walks past him.
The way he starts holding Yoongi's gaze longer and longer, almost as if there's a challenge going on that Yoongi doesn't know about.
Yoongi doesn't know a lot of things despite him pretending otherwise.
One thing he knows, is that all of this is dangerous for the weak machine that his heart is. Has become ever since he met Jungkook when they were kids.
One night, they're stargazing.
The air is humid and hot and Yoongi keeps brushing damp hair off his forehead as he looks up at a blank sky, a bottle of cheap and lukewarm beer in his left hand.
“Do you ever think about the world ending?”
Yoongi glances at Jungkook. His skin is glossy with a thin layer of sweat. Yoongi looks back at the sky again before he does something stupid like throwing himself at Jungkook and get a taste of him.
“Not really,” Yoongi replies. “You do?”
“It's not—“ Jungkook pauses. “I don't think much about the possibility of it, more about possible scenarios. Like. How it could happen.”
“Mmh. And what did your twisted mind come up with?”
Jungkook laughs and Yoongi's eyes almost fall closed at the sound.
“You know the Big Bang, right?”
“Well, sooner or later Space will stop expanding. Because the strength and heat of the explosion will cease and so the Universe will just-just shrink back to the source. Back into the core.” Jungkook sighs. “We could disappear just like that. Vacuumed.”
Yoongi takes a sip of his beer.
“And are you scared of it?”
“Of the vacuum?”
“Of the world ending.”
Yoongi can feel that Jungkook is looking at him now. He keeps his eyes on a sky empty of stars.
“I think I'd be scared of not seeing certain people one last time before the world ends.”
Yoongi hums and the conversation ends there.
Yoongi isn't scared of the world ending. He's not even scared of death in itself. He's seen what death can do and fearing something so inevitable and grand is stupid.
But he's terrified at the idea of someone as incredible and bright and good and huge as Jungkook disappearing all at once because the damn Universe has decided to shrink back to the core.
The pojangmacha closes on the third of August.
Byungwook leaves Yoongi with a paycheck (and a little extra slipped inside) and a promise to see him back at work by the tenth of September.
The dinner that Jimin told him about and kept bringing up in the groupchat finally happens.
It's the seventh of August. They're meant to leave for the damn roadtrip tomorrow morning. Talk about organization.
Yoongi doesn't care.
They're sitting in a BBQ restaurant and it smells like smoke, grilled meat, soju and grease. It's the first time in God even knows how long that all seven of them are sitting in the same place at the same time.
Seokjin is here too.
“You're burning the damn garlic, you asshole!” Taehyung exclaims and he rips the pliers out of Jimin's hand, rushing to rescue the garlic. “This is awful.”
Yoongi hasn't seen Seokjin in a year. One full year.
“You take shit out of my hands one more time, I will stuff whatever it is you took from me up your asshole.” Jimin grabs the plate full of pieces of jumulleok and starts putting them on the hot grill.
Last time they met, one year ago, Yoongi and Seokjin had beaten the shit out of each other. Or, well, Yoongi had beaten the shit out of Seokjin and Seokjin had let him. Didn't even try to defend himself.
“Pass me the soju,” Namjoon tells Hoseok, who shoves the bottle in the man's chest without much grace. “Geez, thanks.”
Hoseok snorts and apologizes, grinning from ear to ear.
Yoongi, during this year, has tried his very best to convince himself that the past is in the past and that he's, oh, so very over it. That they were all kids back then, and kids are stupid and do stupid things. Just a ripple in the ocean. Another grain of sand in an endless desert.
But now, looking at Seokjin who sits right opposite to him, he starts doubting himself.
“I wanted samgyeopsal,” Jungkook whines.
“Beef first, pork later,” Taehyung retorts.
“Who decided that? Who made that rule?”
“Well, fuck you then.”
“Not now, maybe later.”
Jungkook grabs a napkin and throws it at Taehyung's face, who splutters and almost stabs one of his chopsticks up Jungkook's nostril.
Seokjin laughs at the scene.
Yoongi's knee jerks up.
They eat too much. So much that Yoongi's stomach starts aching at one point and he genuinely thinks he's going to feel sick. The fact that they all keep laughing like a pack of hyenas over things that aren't even that funny doesn't exactly help his stomach, but there's not much he can do about it.
At one point, Taehyung manages to fit a raw slab of samgyeopsal in between his lips and teeth and then he suddenly turned to the side to face Namjoon, smiling wide. Namjoon had choked on his soju and started coughing and punching the table, unable to ask for help but clearly needing it. Hoseok almost fell off the chair because of how hard he was laughing, and Yoongi's eyes were watery as he wheezed at the scene.
Jungkook especially looks like he's having a great time.
Yoongi gets it. He's not the funniest person to be around and, in the last few months, Jungkook has only really spent time with him and the clients of the 7Eleven where he works. Yoongi knows Jungkook missed them, that Jungkook misses their old days more than anyone else at this table.
But then, he hears Seokjin's laughter over the others' and his whole body locks.
Seokjin has the kind of laughter that it's impossible to miss. It's loud and vibrant and on anyone else it would be unbearable. Not on Seokjin. It sounds like a goddamn miracle on Seokjin.
Every single time Yoongi hears Seokjin's laughter, his mind goes back to that day.
To that abandoned classroom and to the way the specks of dust floated against streaks of sunlight that filtered through the shutters. To how peaceful it could have been at that moment. To how content Jungkook was as Yoongi played the old piano and how happy Yoongi himself felt for those fleeting moments, knowing that Jungkook was behind him, listening to him, smiling, his gorgeous boy with his gorgeous heart and gorgeous kindness. To how it all managed to change in a damn second.
To how small and scared Jungkook looked behind a much bigger man with much broader shoulders.
To how terrified Yoongi had felt because he knew he was about to explode back then, could feel his weak heart kicking and screaming and building the explosion more and more, felt that he was just going to burst, explode, destroy everything in his path and even now, even fucking now he—
Yoongi stands up and makes it to walk away from the table as Hoseok throws himself into a detailed description of that time a very drunk Jimin had almost took a shit in the middle of a very crowded street. A hand closes around his wrist, though, and Yoongi looks down to find Jungkook staring at him with wide, concerned eyes.
Yoongi smiles. “Need a cigarette, I ate too much. I'll be right back.”
Jungkook blinks and then nods, letting him go. Yoongi rushes outside the restaurant.
Outside, it has started raining. It's still a very light drizzle, with raindrops so thin one can see them only when they are against the light of a lamp post. It will get heavier though, for sure.
He leans against the restaurant's wall and lights up a cigarette, sparing a glance at the door by his side when it opens and a couple walks out holding hands.
As he smokes, his heart begins slowing down. Stops threatening to explode at any moment.
God, it's hot tonight. And so damn humid because of the rain, it makes everything sticky. Yoongi fans himself with his free hand and the door opens again.
Yoongi keeps a scoff to himself when Seokjin walks in front of him and then stops by his side, back against the wall just like him.
They stay in silence for a while and Yoongi focuses on smoking. Can't help but feeling self-conscious about his cheap tee-shirt and worn-down jeans standing right next to Kim Seokjin and his spotless button down and expensive denim.
If Seokjin had any common sense left, he'd stay quiet and walk back inside that restaurant.
But Seokjin, of course, doesn't work following the guidelines of common sense.
“It’s been a while, mh?”
Yoongi takes a drag of smoke. “Mh.”
“You’re coming to the trip right?”
Why is he sounding so weirdly hopeful?
“Yeah,” Yoongi replies anyway. When the silence lingers for too long, he clears his voice. “You’re lending us the house?” “Ah!” Seokjin exclaims and he claps his hands once, smiling and nodding to himself. “I’ve been wanting to use that place for ages! We’ll fit just fine there, I promise. You guys will love it. It's super close to the beach.”
“It will be just like old times.”
Yoongi flicks the cigarette's butt with his thumb, ash falls down to the floor. “Great.”
The last time they met, Seokjin had brought up the good old times as well. And then Yoongi had thrown himself at the man like a rabid dog.
He shakes himself out of it with a shrug of his shoulders. “What have you been up to?”
That has Seokjin's smile dimming down quick.
“Ah, you know.” Seokjin wets his mouth. “School.”
Yoongi hums. “Right. Mr. surgeon.”
“Not a surgeon yet,” Seokjin says with a chuckle.
Seokjin's smile falls completely off his face and his body gets stiff in a second. Yoongi, too, can feel his own muscles getting rigid and his face get hotter with shame.
“I don’t know why I said that,” he mutters before he brings the cigarette back to his lips.
Seokjin looks at him for a few moments and then his body relaxes once more, smile back in its place.
“I do,” he says, easily.
Yoongi scoffs. “Right, you always know everything.” He register that he said this out loud after a handful of seconds, then he's sighing. “Shit. Sorry.”
“Yoongi-yah.” Seokjin tilts his head to the side in a way that makes him look almost endearing. “Are you still mad at me?”
That's a stupid question.
Of course he is. Yoongi wishes he wasn't and had even tried to convince himself of that, but that's clearly not the case. Still, he feels like admitting that would mean losing to Seokjin, who is still as composed and perfect as ever. So he stays quiet.
Seokjin breathes in, then says, “Jungkook is.”
“What?” Yoongi glances at him with a frown. “No, he- he’s not, he wouldn’t—”
Seokjin grins. “He hates me.”
“Don’t be stupid, he doesn’t.” Yoongi takes another drag of smoke before he throws the cigarette away. “Jungkook isn't capable of hating anyone, let alone—“
“Yoongi, if you think Jungkook would ever forgive anyone who managed to hurt you, then you’re denser than I thought.”
Yoongi's heart, weak and pathetic as it is, twists and aches in his chest with something very similar to pride.
God, he's awful.
Seokjin stares at him for a few moments and then he nods towards the entrance with a gentle expression his face.
“Let’s go back inside.”
When Yoongi and Seokjin walk back in the room, a very tipsy Taehyung starts begging Seokjin to order more meat.
Yoongi sits down and feels Jungkook's hand curling around his wrist once more, squeezing it tightly for long seconds. Yoongi holds his breath.
Jungkook lets go of him, turns back to joking around with Taehyung and Jimin, and Yoongi treasures the lingering feeling of Jungkook's skin on his.
By the time they made it back home, they're drenched to their bones.
A few minutes after leaving the restaurant with the promise of meeting the others at the bus stop near Yoongi's apartment in the morning, the rain had started falling down angry and heavy, almost as if Summer were throwing a tantrum.
Yoongi and Jungkook had ran back home, screeching and laughing breathlessly, but that hadn't stopped them from getting absolutely drowned in rain.
Yoongi is still panting once he finally closes the door of the flat behind him. They both kick their soaked shoes off and walk deeper into the house with sore legs and aching lungs.
Jungkook is still giggling, eyes a little glossy and dazes with alcohol, his posture thrown off.
“Oh. Oh, that was so fun.”
“Was it now?”
“So fun, Yoongi-hyung. We shuh-should do it more often.”
Yoongi pushes his drenched hair back and groans. “Right. Okay, next time it starts raining I'll tell you and we can have another jogging session.”
Jungkook giggles again. Breathless and flushed and beautiful and all sorts of things that make Yoongi wish he could stop time just to stare a little longer.
“Come on, Kook-ah, get those wet clothes off of you.”
“But I don't wanna.”
“Yes you do, or you'll catch your death. And go take a shower.”
“I'm not an old guy like you.”
“Yah!” Yoongi pretends to try kicking him on the thigh. “Why are you acting like I'm fucking senile, huh?”
“I'm young! The rain only makes me stronger!”
“Whatever you say,” Yoongi chuckles. He heads to the kitchen, hearing Jungkook following closely behind him. “I'm gonna make some tea, I think.”
His skin is itching where the fabric of the drenched tee-shirt sticks. With an annoyed groan, Yoongi strips the shirt off and lets it drop on the floor, shivering faintly when the cool air touches his wet skin.
He realizes, once he's inside the kitchen, that they left the window wide open. Rain has gotten inside, wetting the floor just under the ledge, but it's not that bad, at least it's not too hot inside the house.
“You should shower whilst I make tea,” Yoongi says then and he turns around.
Even in the darkness, with just the faint glow of lamp posts from outside casting a dim light inside the room, Yoongi can see the way Jungkook is looking at him. Can recognize it, even. It has Yoongi holding his breath.
Jungkook stands still, very still, just by the door, eyes hot and greedy as they take in Yoongi, every detail, everything Yoongi has to show, and want has always been something so easily recognizable even if it changes from person to person.
Right now, it's unmistakable. It's in the slow, measured, rise and fall of Jungkook's chest. In the light trembling of his fingers by his sides. In the soft parting of his lips.
Yoongi can't move.
Jungkook looks up. They gaze at each other, the room dead quiet. Yoongi's skin is burning. He thinks there might be something in his gaze that is equally as terrifyingly hungry as Jungkook's, because suddenly he's being cornered against the wall and Jungkook's fingertips are brushing along his hips.
Yoongi shivers. He had expected that Jungkook's skin was going to feel cold with how wet he is, but intead they feel like they might melt the flesh off Yoongi's bones.
The first touch of Jungkook's lips on his is as soft and light as a feather. It has the world tilting for a moment, steals a gasp out of Yoongi. Jungkook's breathing has turned shallow and his hands are gripping Yoongi a bit tighter, just a bit. He looks at Yoongi for one more second, raindrops caught between his lashes. Then he kisses Yoongi again and this time it's harder, this time Jungkook's eyes close and his hands move to press fingertips on the small of Yoongi's back.
Yoongi wonders, for a second, if it feels like he has imagined. If it's similar to his fantasies. He's not sure. It doesn't matter.
He tilts his head to the side, hands curling around Jungkook's neck and then he's kissing him back, eyes fluttering closed when Jungkook presses against him, chest flush on him, lips moving hesitantly, barely opening.
It hits him, then, that this is probably Jungkook's first kiss.
Yoongi's eyes open and he pulls back in a sharp movement, heart aching when Jungkook tries to follow his mouth.
“Stop,” Yoongi whispers and Jungkook does.
He blinks at Yoongi, confusion clear on his face.
“Hyung,” Jungkook murmurs, voice thick with something that makes Yoongi's resolve almost crumble immediately.
“Sshht.” Yoongi shakes his head. “Stop.”
Jungkook still hasn't let go of him. His hands are still as hot as before and they're still pressed on Yoongi's damp skin. It doesn't seem as if he'd let go of him anytime soon.
“Yoongi-hyung,” Jungkook leans in faintly. “You didn't like it?”
It was so different from Yoongi's fantasies and yet so familiar, it had Yoongi drunk with the feeling.
Yoongi swallows. “You're drunk.”
“Was I not good?”
“Jungkook-ah. Stop it.”
“You don't want me?”
Yoongi has been wanting for years. From the moment he found out what real want felt like and even before that. Everything, he had wanted everything, remained silent and hungry and greedy, head filled with fantasies and what ifs, but now—
When Yoongi doesn't answer him, Jungkook's hands finally start loosening the grip they have on Yoongi.
“But can we still sleep together?”
God, this is all Summer's fault, now it's here and it wants Jungkook just as much as Yoongi does.
“Yeah,” Yoongi replies in a whisper. “Yeah, of couse we can.”
Jungkook pulls back a little, the crease between his brows softens.
“Listen, why don't you—“ Yoongi clears his voice and, as subtly as he can, he nudges Jungkook back with the palm of his hand. “Why don't you go upstairs in the meantime, mh? And change into dry clothes. I-I need to shower.”
Jungkook blinks at him, eyes clouded with the lingering effect of alcohol once more. Still, it's clear that he can feel something is wrong. He nods, wordlessly, and steps back, swaying only a little on the spot before he turns around and walks out of the kitchen.
Yoongi stands still, pressed against the wall, barely breathing until he hears Jungkook's steps as he climbs up the stairs. Then he drops down on the floor.
He feels like his heart will explode. He's going to explode, for sure, he almost did the second Jungkook's lips were on him, it's terrifying. He clutches his chest, can almost feel it vibrating. He brings his free hand to his mouth and presses trembling fingers on his own lips, tracing the line of them, almost feeling the heat of Jungkook's mouth.
If he were to lick them, would he also taste him again?
He wants to explode. He wants his heart to burst and he wants to love, he wants to touch and be touched, he wants everything Jungkook will give him and to steal the rest, keep it hidden inside of him so that no one else gets a chance of touching that boy and it's gross, feeling like this is disgusting, but—
Yoongi loves him.
He's been loving hard and blindly for so long, controlling the strength of his feelings out of fear that he'll explode and it hurts. It's draining, it hurts.
Now that he got a taste of what it truly could feel like, it hurts even more.
Yoongi knows Jungkook. Prides himself in knowing Jungkook more than he knows himself or how winter mornings smell like.
All Jungkook wants, has ever wanted, is love.
Yoongi can't be just anyone. It would kill him.
They're sitting on the bench at the bus stop the next morning.
It stopped raining hours ago and whilst the air still carries some moisture, the sun is so hot that the streets are already dry.
Despite sitting in the shade, Yoongi feels like his skin is already getting sunburnt; he pats his cheek and feels it extremely hot against his palm. He clicks his tongue and then puts the cigarette between his lips as he lights it up.
By his side, Jungkook fidgets with the straps of his backpack in silence, eyes staring at an undefined spot in the distance.
They haven't talked at all since last night. When Yoongi woke up, Jungkook was already dressed and he hadn't even looked at him.
Yoongi rubs his nose and sniffs. “How's your head?”
Jungkook blinks but doesn't look at Yoongi. “Mh?”
“Your head. You must be hungover, does it hurt?”
Jungkook shrugs. “I wasn't that drunk yesterday, even though you want to believe that.”
Yoongi holds his breath for a few moments. A stray cat crosses the road just then, steps light and hurried, and he disappears in an alley.
After a deep breath, Yoongi says, “Jungkook-ah—”
“What?” Jungkook glances at him for a brief second, gaze hard and jaw clenched. “Are you going to tell me that we should act like nothing happened? That we should forget?”
Shouldn't that be the right way to go? Yoongi thinks it is.
“We were both drunk,” he says in the end though.
“That's not an answer.”
“You were drunk.”
“And you kissed me back.”
It's so hot today that the asphalt is scorching as well, so much so that heat rises from it in transparent waves.
Yoongi smokes. His fingers tremble and it doesn't matter how much time he spent last night rubbing his mouth raw with water, the feeling of Junkook's kiss is still there.
“Do as you fucking want, hyung,” Jungkook says in the end, when Yoongi stays quiet for too long. “Pretend like nothing happened. I don't want to forget, though. And I won't.”
Of course he won't.
Stubborn as he is, Jungkook will never walk back on one of his decisions. Yoongi knows this. Even loves this about him.
His lips part to say something, Yoongi doesn't even know what, but then Seokjin's van appears from around the corner and drives towards them. Jungkook stands up and fixes the backpack on his shoulder whilst Yoongi drops the cigarette's butt on the ground and squishes it under the heel of his boot.
Seokjin says that the van belonged to his uncle.
Yoongi thinks it's a miracle this thing even works considering the horrible noises that come from the engine whenever the car goes just a bit faster than before.
But the vehicle is still spacious enough to feel comfortable. There are two rows of seats, the first one for the driver and a passenger, whilst the second row has three seats. Behind them, there's just empty space that has been filled with a mattress, blankets and cushions. That's where Yoongi is sitting, along with Hoseok. It can't be exactly legal, to travel like this, Yoongi imagines.
But it's comfortable, for sure.
Jimin, Taehyung and Jungkook sit in the second row of seats. Jungkook keeps looking out the window, chin placed on the palm of his hand whilst Jimin and Taehyung keep talking about some show that they've been watching.
Seokjin drives and, by his side, Namjoon acts as a navigator. Which, in Yoongi's mind, is a terrible idea. But whatever.
They've been driving for a good two hours now, chatting over nothing and everything at the same time, singing along to pop songs on the radio. The fact that everyone is in such an awful good mood makes it so that Yoongi can't even try to wallow in self pity for a while. Instead, he tries his best to smile and be decent company. Not good, but decent.
They stop after one more hour in front of a supermarket. Seokjin and Namjoon get off the van, saying that they'll go buy some food and snacks for tonight, and an electric stove too, considering they'll be camping.
Jungkook and Taehyung decide they'll go to the Burger King close-by to get something greasy to eat before they start driving again, leaving Yoongi alone with Jimin and Hoseok.
They sit on the mattress in silence for a while, Hoseok with his head resting on Jimin's lap, and Yoongi counts the stickers that have been stuck on the van's walls. They're colorful and almost nonsensical, but they seem to have been stuck with a certain criteria, as if they have a very specific order.
There are also some trinkets hanging from the van's roof: wooden sticks that have been tied with rough, thin ropes into simple shapes, like triangles and circles, shards of a mirror and stained glass with small holes in them so that they could all be tied together with colorful ribbons. With every movement of the car, these sway and cling together, reflecting colored sunlight against the van's walls.
“Did you and Jungkook fight?”
Yoongi turns to Jimin and looks at him for a while. “Why are you asking that?”
Jimin shrugs. “Jungkook doesn't look very happy.”
“He could have a thousand reasons why he's not happy today but you just give for granted that I'm it?”
Jimin smiles. “Not many things have the power to impact his mood like that. You happen to be one of them.”
Yoongi hates that, as usual, his heart fills with heated pride at this. It's like greed became his God ages ago, when he first laid eyes on Jungkook, and now it got so hungry that it will devour anything related to him.
“We didn't fight,” Yoongi replies in the end. He closes his eyes and leans more comfortably against the van's wall. “Not yet, at least.”
“So you're expecting a fight?”
“Mmh. I don't know what I'm expecting.”
Silence follows and it hangs airily in the van, with no rush or pressure. Yoongi already knows Jimin will ask more questions.
Not even a minute of quiet goes by before Jimin asks, “What happened, hyung?”
Yoongi breathes in, then out. The air inside the van smells of the dried flowers Seokjin keeps in a small box in the glove compartment and of air-freshner.
“He did something he didn't mean to do.”
“You sure are nosy, Jimin-ah. I forgot that about you.”
That's not true at all. Yoongi remembers everything about everyone. Besides, that's just how Jimin is: terribly curious, awfully inquisitive and aggressively kind.
“No one forgets anything about me,” Jimin retorts. “Tell me what he did.”
But Yoongi doesn't.
He's scared that if he does speak of it out loud, then he will never be able to forget about it. Most importantly, he'd never be able to rid himself og the lingering feel of Jungkook's mouth on his, or the shallow of his breath when they pulled apart.
He can't have that.
“Or don't, fine,” Jimin sighs. Exasperated but in a fond way, always. “And why are you so convinced he didn't mean to do it?”
Yoongi closes his eyes, leans his head against the van's wall. “Why would he ever want to do something like that?”
“Maybe because he just wanted to.”
Yoongi snorts. “It makes no sense.”
Jimin stays silent for a few seconds, Yoongi can hear a car parking right next to their van. “Hyung, if what he did has something to do with you, then he probably meant to do it.”
Yoongi opens his eyes and looks at him. There's no trace of mockery or fake kindness in Jimin's gaze. Just stubborn resolution. “How did you two do it?”
Jimin blinks. “Huh?”
“How did you manage to make it? You two were as fucked up as any of us. But you still made it. You're—“ Yoongi gestures at the both of them. “Together. Happy.”
“Happy?” Hoseok frowns and rolls on his back, head still resting on Jimin's lap. He looks at the other boy in the eyes. “Are we happy, you and I?”
“You drive me fucking insane most times, so I wouldn't know.”
“You know what I mean,” Yoongi says and doesn't try to hide the note of bitterness in his voice. Even now, they look the portrait of happy and blindly in love couple.
“I really don't,” Hoseok replies though. “Happiness isn't something you just suddenly have because you finally got some action with the guy you've been in love with for ages.”
“What a not crass and super romantic way of putting it,” Jimin mutters.
“Hyung, do you want happiness?” Hoseok asks. “Or do you want to be with Jungkook? Because the two things don't go hand in hand, you know?”
“What I want doesn't matter.”
“What I want isn't what Jungkook wants, so—“
“Stop assuming what he wants,” Jimin says then, and the slight hostility in his voice doesn't go unnoticed. “And instead start talking to him.”
“I know it's not easy, it never is, and I understand your fears and why you'd think what you think, but Jungkook is his own person and the only one who gets to control his feelings is Jungkook himself. Not you. Not us.” Jimin takes a deep breath. “And Jungkook doesn't want to control a damn thing. He's not you.”
Thank God he isn't, Yoongi wants to say.
Instead, he stays quiet and after a few minutes, Namjoon and Seokjin come back from the supermarket, plastic bags filled with junk food in their hands.
The rest of the trip goes mostly quiet.
They eat the burgers and fries Taehyung and Jungkook brought back without saying much and the behavior follows through for the next hours.
Yoongi doesn't know if it's because the novelty and excitement of the trip has worn off or if it's due to the obvious tension that hangs between he and Jungkook, but he finds himself grateful for the quiet.
Once they get to the camping zone, though, that changes. Suddenly, everyone is in a frenzy, moving from one side of the van to the other, untying the tent from the top of the van and then getting to actually build it. Thankfully, it's one of the more modern ones and it doesn't take much to follow simple instructions.
The area that Namjoon chose to camp in is on top of a not very steep hill, on a clearance surrounded by tall trees and bushes. There's already a designated circle made with stones where they can light up a fire, with ash and burnt, black wood still in the middle of it.
They have to park the van further away from the actual camping site because of the trees, but the distance is a mere five minutes walk.
“I think three people can fit in the tent just fine,” Seokjin says as he grabs some electric lamps from a box he had tied to the van's rooftop along with the tent. “Four people can go sleep in the van.”
“We can take the tent,” Hoseok says, nodding towards Jimin, who's nose deep into the instruction booklet. “Jin-hyung, wanna sleep with us?”
Hoseok wiggles his brows. “It's going to be one steamy night.”
“On a second though, I think I'll sleep on the cold, harsh ground.”
Hoseok barks a laughter whilst Jimin tells Taehyung that he's building the tent all wrong. Taehyung's reply is to go sit on a beehive.
Yoongi and Namjoon carry the snacks and drinks to the area where they'll light up the campfire. Jungkook stands alone by the tent, wordless, not even trying to help Jimin and Taehyung, eyes blank as he stares at the trees around him.
“Dare,” Jimin says.
“This is so stupid,” Hoseok mutters. “Who the hell still plays this game? We're basically senile.”
Yoongi snorts and takes a swing of cheap beer. It tastes just like bitter water, but the geniuses forgot to buy water, so they're stuck with discount soda, cheap beer and, for some reason, apple juice.
“I dare you to find a worm and eat it,” Taehyung says with a wicked grin.
Jimin blanches and Hoseok snorts.
“That is inhuman,” Namjoon protests with a shake of his head. He's been trying to roast a marshmallow for the best part of an hour. It keeps either melting completely off the stick or just catching fire. “That worm is innocent, why the hell would you do that?”
“Oh, right, it's inhuman to the worm, not me.” Jimin still stands up and starts scanning the ground for worms. “What if I find none?”
“Oh, you'll find them just fine. It even rained yesterday, so.” Taehyung takes another gulp of his beer, still looking too pleased with himself.
“Well, I can't see any. The ground is too dry, there's no way that— oh, you must be fucking kidding me.”
Seokjin starts laughing loudly, slapping his own thigh once Jimin picks up from the ground a small, wriggling worm. He sits back down by Hoseok's side, staring miserably at the little thing.
“I don't want to eat it,” Jimin murmurs.
“Wait, now I'm feeling bad.” Taehyung blinks at the worm. “No, it's too small, I feel like a monster, put it down. Just lick Hoseok's palm instead.”
Jimin does that far too happily. He grabs Hoseok's wrist and ignores the man's screeches as he licks a slow, fat line up Hoseok's palm, right between his fingers. Taehyung and Seokjin are wheezing by this point and Hoseok looks torn between being disgusted and getting a boner. In the end, he dries his hand on Namjoon's jeans and gets a melted marshmallow thrown at his face as revenge.
This is good, Yoongi thinks.
The weather is nice: the sticky, suffocating heat of Seoul is lost up here. The air is crisp, and it carries the smell of wood and leaves.
Here, the sky isn't blank. There are visible stars.
Yoongi looks at Jungkook: he's been just staring at the fire ever since they all sat down around it, the bottle of beer in his hand untouched.
“Yoongi's turn!” Namjoon exclaims.
“Huh?” Yoongi frowns. “Wait, I'm playing too?”
“No, you're just there to look pretty,” Taehyung says. “Of course you are.”
“What if I don't want to?”
“What if I draw a penis on your cheek whilst you sleep.”
“Jesus fucking Christ, Taehyung, what are you? Twelve?”
“And a half.”
“You insufferable, little—“
“Truth or dare?” Namjoon asks then, snapping his fingers. “Choose in one, two, three—“
“Truth,” Yoongi replies, exasperated.
Namjoon hums, eyebrows pushing together in concentration as he tries to think of something to ask. He clicks his tongue and looks at Yoongi, opens his mouth to speak.
“Are you in love with me?”
Silence drops on them like a hammer, knocks the breath out of Yoongi's lungs for a second. No one dares to speak, only the sounds of the fire eating at the wood fills the air, and everyone slowly turns to look at Jungkook.
He's staring right at Yoongi, with something nasty in his gaze.
When Yoongi doesn't reply his question, Jungkook arches an eyebrow. “So?”
Anger rises up and coils around Yoongi's stomach, squeezing and tugging.
Red faced, he asks, “What the fuck are you trying to do now?”
Jungkook shrugs. “Are you?”
What's going on?
“Stop that,” Yoongi says. His voice comes out too weak. He can feel his own breathing changing.
But Jungkook doesn't stop and the nasty, dark glint in his eyes stays there.
“If you're in love with me then why did you stop me yesterday?”
“Jungkook,” Yoongi hisses. He wants to bring a hand to his chest to feel the beating of his heart, because he feels like he's close to exploding and he doesn't want to, not right now, not like this, not in front of Seokjin. Not again. “I said drop it.”
Jungkook scoffs, eyes rolling. He looks like he wants the challenge and Yoongi wishes he could stop him.
“I know you're in love with me and I know you want me.” He says it like it's an insult. Yoongi's hand around the neck's bottle tightens. “I think everyone knows. You're not exactly subtle, so—“
“I said stop it!”
This one, though, this one is absolutely awful.
Yoongi could barely recognize his voice with the way it sounded like rough stone against glass. He knows the others are looking at him, but he can only feel and focus on Jungkook's shocked gaze.
He yelled at him.
Jungkook blinks, eyes huge and lips parted. He's holding his breath.
Yoongi yelled at him. Screamed at Jungkook.
It's the first time he does this. He's never raised his voice against Jungkook before in his life, not even jokingly like Taehyung does sometimes. Hell, he didn't raise his voice at Jungkook even when, years ago, he had scolded him for getting dangerously drunk at some random college guy's party.
Yoongi never screamed at him. He didn't even like screaming, it felt draining.
But now that he did, he could feel that he had lost all control on the volume of his voice or on his words.
And so, he exploded.
“What the fuck do you know, huh?!” Yoongi snarls, dropping the beer bottle on the ground as he stands up. “You don't know shit!”
“Yoongi-hyung,” Jimin whispers but Yoongi ignores him.
“You have no idea of how I feel! Or how hard it even was to push you away last night, how it fucking killed me to see you so upset! But I was fucking looking after you, as I always fucking do, and you hold it against me?! Instead of acting like a fucking child and causing a scene, start asking yourself if maybe, this one time, you are the one at fault!”
He's heaving by the time he stops talking. The fire feels too hot and his fingers keep twitching, itching at the very tips. He has the sudden, disgusting urge to bring his nails to his mouth and bite around them until the skin starts aching so much that it brings tears to his eyes.
Jungkook keeps looking at him, his eyes wide and confused, maybe even scared. And then, they start reddening and they get glassy, watery.
God, he's going to cry, Yoongi made him cry.
He wants to do something: run to Jungkook, kneel in front of him and hold his hands and tell him he's not actually mad, everything is fine, there's no need to cry, not over someone like him. But he can't move.
Jungkook, though, can. He blinks himself out of his stupor and stands up on unsteady legs, already turning around to walk away.
Seokjin sighs and he stands up too. “Jungkook-ah, wait—“
“You shut the fuck up!” Jungkook screams as he twists around, pinning Seokjin under a heated glare. The man actually flinches.
Yoongi, too, shivers. He doesn't think he's ever seen this kind of expression on Jungkook's face, not one filled with so much anger and—
Is that actual hate?
“Mind your own fucking business!” Jungkook shouts and, then, he scoffs. “What, you think that this dumbass, goddamn trip was gonna change what you did?!”
Yoongi sees Seokjin's hands trembling. “Jungkook.”
“You're a selfish, entitled prick who keeps looking at us like we're beneath you just because your dad keeps sending you to uni! You think Yoongi-hyung didn't want to go?!”
“Jungkook!” Yoongi hisses, takes a step forward. He doesn't want to have this conversation, doesn't want to hear any of it, but Jungkook doesn't seem to have even heard him. He keeps his eyes on Seokjin and his mouth twisted in a grimace.
“You think you're so good and smart and incredible! But the truth is, you ruined his life and you fucked up mine, so go screw yourself!”
Jungkook's words hang in the air for a few moments and then he storms away, steps fast and long, his breathing too quick until he disappears between the bushes and woods.
For long moments, no one moves, Yoongi thinks they don't even breathe. Then, Jimin stands up and runs after him.
Yoongi stares into the direction where they left and hears the pounding of his heart slowing down before he feels it. All that he's left with is a bitter taste at the back of his tongue and a whirling stomach, nausea seazing him in its dizzying grip.
He staggers. “I'm gonna be sick.”
He drops on his knees, sure that he's about to vomit. Taehyung is by his side fast, an arm around his hips and his other hand pressing on his nape, thumb pressing gentle, soothing cirles in his skin.
“I'm so-so sorry,” Seokjin says in a murmur. “I just— I'm sorry, it's my fault.”
Yoongi closes his eyes and focuses on breathing right and not spilling his guts on the ground. Taehyung's presence helps; his hand is cool on his skin and even though Yoongi's ears are ringing and he can't exactly make out the words that Taehyung is speaking softly, his voice is solid and grounding enough on its own.
Slowly, he feels his breathing ease, his stomach settles. He straightens up and swallows the excess saliva in his mouth before he begins standing up on his feet with Taehyung's help.
“Are you okay?” Hoseok asks, all concerned eyes and sad tilt of his lips.
“I'm sorry,” Seokjin says again. Namjoon is by his side, rubbing a hand on the man's arm. “Yoongi-yah, really, I—“
“Jungkook is right, shut the fuck up.” Yoongi sniffs and pats dirt off his jeans. “Where did he go?”
“I think he went to the van,” Taehyung replies. “You need to talk to him.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I know.” Still, he hesitates. “I know.”
The walk to the van is spent in silence and lack of thoughts. Yoongi just focuses on putting one step after the other without tripping over the roots of the trees. It's dark, with the sun having set a few minutes ago, but Yoongi just keeps walking straight until he sees the outline of the van in the distance. Once he's close enough, he can hear muffled voices from inside the vehicle and he stops in front of the back door.
“—what to do,” Jungkook says, voice a wavering, little thing.
“You should talk to him,” Jimin replies. “You both need to.”
“He won't listen to me, he won't care.”
“Of course he will, he adores you.”
Yoongi holds his breath, hand hovering above the door handle.
“I'm not sure he does.”
Yoongi slides the door open hard enough that Jimin startles with a gasp. They share a look and then Jimin offers him a smile as he climbs off the van. He gives Yoongi a pat on the shoulder and then walks away, back to the campfire, leaving him alone with Jungkook.
Yoongi looks at Jungkook, trying to catch his gaze, but it's useless. What he sees, though, is crimson circle lighting up in the dim van, right where Jungkook's mouth should be.
In a sharp movement, Yoongi reaches out and grabs the cigarette from Jungkook's fingers, throwing it on the ground and stomping on it.
“I told you already,” he rasps, feeling his chest tightening with lingering panic. “Don't fucking smoke when you're on a fucking mattress. I don't care if you're wide awake or not, don't fucking do it.” He pauses. “And since we're at it, don't smoke at all.”
“Sorry,” Jungkook whispers.
“What was that all about, mh?” Yoongi climbs inside the van and slides the door closed. He sits opposite to Jungkook's, head against the van's door. Like this, it's even darker inside, but the moonlight is bright enough to still let Yoongi make out Jungkook's features.
Jungkook shrugs. He's picking at the hem of his tee-shirt.
“Stop acting like a kid who's getting scolded and let's talk.”
Jungkook glares at him. “Is that what I am to you? A spoiled, whiny child?”
“No,” Yoongi sighs.
“'Cause that's what you called me before, too. A child. Is that all you see when you look at me?”
“I don't see you as a child but if you keep acting like one then maybe I will.”
Jungkook's breath stutters. “You're being mean.”
“I—“ Yoongi swallows. “I just want to understand. You scared me back there, I never saw you like that.”
“Yeah,” Jungkook murmurs. “Me neither.”
More guilt. It's going to keep piling up like mud, until Yoongi will get stuck beneath it, choking on it.
“I didn't want to scream at you like that,” Yoongi says, eyes low. “I'm sorry. Really, I am so sorry. I just— I lost control.”
A beat of silence.
Then, hard as steel, Jungkook says, “That would be a first.”
“You love to keep everything under control, don't you hyung?” Jungkook looks down to his lap. “Gotta control everything. Gotta control the way you act. The way you touch me.”
“Always under control with me.” Jungkook presses his lips together. “I wish you could lose control around me and do as you want for once. I don't get it.”
“What I want isn't what you want.”
“Who are you to decide that?”
“I'm not deciding anything.”
“Yes, you are!” Jungkook exclaims, voice raising, thick with hurt. “Hyung, I'm sorry about before, I really am. I don't know why I said that, why I-I put you on the spot like that, I feel terrible about it. But I couldn't stop myself and the words kept coming out. This isn't easy, okay? It hurts me too.”
“Tell me why it hurts, then,” Yoongi says.
Jungkook grimaces. “It's not easy.”
“Nothing seems to be easy. Try.”
Jungkook's mouth opens as if he's about to speak but no sound comes out. He looks down, at his fingers that keep tugging and twisting the hem of his shirt. He wets his lips, looks like he's about to talk countless times, but the silence lingers.
Yoongi doesn't push. He just waits until the sounds they make as they breathe become the loudest things in the world.
Jungkook looks at him. In a voice so quiet Yoongi would miss it if he weren't bound soul and body to Jungkook, he says, “You know I have nightmares sometimes, right?”
Yoongi nods. “Yeah.”
“What do you think they're about?”
“I don't know. Your dad, mostly.”
Jungkook shakes his head. “In one, I'm in the darkness and there are hands coming from the shadows. They start tickling me. I can barely breathe and I laugh so much and for so long that I end up feeling sick and I vomit. When I look up, you're standing in front of me, laughing.”
Yoongi's chest turns cold, his body stiffens.
“In-in another one we're at a festival. We're walking in between all the stands, eating-eating skewers. At one point I try to hold your hand, but as soon as I do so it's like holding a mannequin's hand, it's made of plastic and detached from your wrist. I look at you and you're laughing at me.”
Jungkook squirms where he's sitting, voice getting thinner and lips quivering.
“And there's this other one, this one I hate so much. I'm naked and-and I want to touch you.”
“Hey...” Yoongi gets on his knees, starts moving closer to Jungkook.
“I want to touch you and you-you let me do it but then you start laughing again.”
“The more I try to-to look good for you and to be beautiful and touch you so that you feel good, the more you laugh, until I start trembling and crying and you still won't stop laughing.” Jungkook seems to swallow down a sob and Yoongi sees tears already trailing down his cheeks. He reaches for Jungkook's face and starts wiping them off with his fingers. Jungkook stares at him with huge, glassy eyes. “And in all of these dreams you-you're huge. Like, you're so tuh-tall. And you always look down at me, like a dad does with a little kid.”
“I'm not a kid anymore!” Jungkook yells, then sobs. “I'm not! I don't want you to luh-look at me like a I'm a kid, I want you to-to look at me and like what you see and kiss me and touch me because—“ He grips Yoongi's shirt. “Because I've been wanting that for so long and—“
Yoongi's hand curves around the line of Jungkook's cheek and then he presses their mouths together. It's like there are still words caught on the seam of Jungkook's lips and Yoongi licks at it, tastes them on his tongue when Jungkook's body melts and his hands move to grip Yoongi's hair in a tight hold.
Yoongi has doubts. And his heart aches. But if this is what Jungkook needs now then he'll give it to him and take something in return. Greed is as alive as ever in his chest and Yoongi lets it hold him in its grasp for once.
“More,” Jungkook demands on his lips, voice thick. “More, please.”
So Yoongi bites at Jungkook's bottom lip, chest thrumming at the hitch in Jungkook's breathing, licks and kisses until Jungkook's lips part. When he licks into his mouth, Yoongi feels the way Jungkook's body gives in and presses against him more.
Once more, it feels so different from his fantasies and yet so familiar that it makes him grow bolder, makes him tug and push and kiss until Jungkook is laying on the mattress, legs parted and hands tight around Yoongi's hips.
Yoongi pulls away for a second, just to breathe, and a small whine leaves Jungkook's mouth.
“Don't stop,” he says. “Touch me more.”
Yoongi looks at him, elbows braces by the sides of Jungkook's head; his mouth is red and slick, his breathing all stutters and gasps, and he's flushed down to his neck.
Again, always, he looks breathtaking.
Yoongi's eyes trail down to the mole on Jungkook's neck and before he can stop himself, he's pressing his mouth there. Jungkook's body twitches, then relaxes when Yoongi's lips part and his tongue presses flat on his skin.
“Yuh-” Jungkook swallows and bares his neck more. “Yoongi-hyung.”
Yoongi hums, sucks on heated skin more, savors the taste that settles on his tongue. His hands start becoming greedy too and they move down to Jungkook's hips, under his tee-shirt. He can feel goosebumps rising beneath his fingertips, swears that he's tracing heat wherever he touches, the shift of Jungkook's muscles against his hands becomes addicting.
He sucks harder on the boy's neck, hears Jungkook letting out a small sound and it's enough to make Yoongi's entire body thrum.
“More,” Jungkook breathes, the softest order Yoongi has ever heard.
When he brings his hand down to Jungkook's groin, he feels him hard under the denim.
“God,” Yoongi murmurs just as Jungkook bites off a moan. “You want me.”
He undoes the button of Jungkook's jeans and pulls the zipper down, then strokes him lightly from above the brief's fabric.
“I want—“ Jungkook gasps, his fingers digging in the soft flesh of Yoongi's hips. “Yoongi.”
Yoongi shifts so that his knee is between Jungkook's leg, so that his thigh presses against Jungkook's hard cock. Immediately, Jungkook's hips beging moving earnestly, grinding against the rough denim of Yoongi's jeans, and Jungkook moans at the feeling.
Yoongi pulls away from his neck just to look at him: Jungkook's eyes are closed, mouth parted around small gasps and moans, brows pulled together, hair a mess. There's a thin layer of sweat on his forehead and his back keeps arching as he grins against Yoongi's thigh.
“Look at you,” Yoongi murmurs as he grips Jungkook's hips and helps him move against him.
There is something undeniably terrifying about the intensity of Yoongi's heart when it whispers to him, I want him to be mine and mine alone, and I want to be his even more.
Jungkook's hips falter and he makes a small, keening sound. His eyes flutter opened, dark with want and glassy with something kinder. He grabs the collar of Yoongi's tee-shirt and pulls.
“Kiss me,” he breathes out. “Please.”
Yoongi does, eyes closed and mouth hungry, chest tight with the hammering of his own heart, Jungkook's hands tugging at his shirt to pull him impossibly closer, trying to touch as much of Yoongi as possible at the same time, the movements of his hips frantic and desperate. But the way he kisses Yoongi—
Jungkook kisses him like this is the last chance he gets at doing so and like he's being held by something holy at the same time.
Yoongi presses his thigh harder against Jungkook, earning a breathless moan that breaks over his lips. Jungkook doesn't stop moving, but his grinding becomes more sluggish, his breathing broken.
“Feels good?” Yoongi asks.
“Good,” Jungkook gasps, eyes lidded as if he's fighting to keep them open. He still tries to chase after Yoongi's lips. “'m gonna—“
“Gonna cum?” Jungkook moans and Yoongi noses along the line of his jaw. “Do it, make yourself feel good.”
Jungkook works his hips more, lips parting, holding his breath, and when Yoongi starts kissing and mouthing wetly at the same spot as before on his neck, Jungkook cums with a tight moan, a sound so choked and overlwhemed it makes Yoongi shudder.
As seconds go by, the small tremors in Jungkook's thighs don't ease, his breathing doesn't slow down.
Yoongi pulls away from his neck to press a light kiss on his mouth.
“Easy, Jungkook-ah,” he whispers, presses his lips on Jungkook's cheek. “It's all good.”
Jungkook's eyes close and he nods. Eventually, the arch of his back flattens and his chest starts rising and falling in a more even rhythm. His thighs won't stop quivering faintly, but he seems to be feeling good.
“Hyung?” Jungkook calls quietly.
“Don't leave now.”
“I'm not, don't worry.”
Yoongi hums and he brushes his lips over Jungkook's nose. “I'm gonna move now, but I'm not leaving.” Carefully, Yoongi moves away from Jungkook to lay down by his side. It takes Jungkook a few moments to realize the change of positions and, when he does, he easily rolls on his side and presses his face against Yoongi's chest.
“Do you want me to touch you too?” Jungkook asks then, but his words are already slurred and thick with sleep.
“Don't worry about me.”
“But do you wanna?”
“Tonight wasn't about me.”
He thinks Jungkook might be frowning when he replies, “Okay.”
It doesn't matter, he wasn't lying.
He listens to Jungkook's breathing as it eases into something lazy and vulnerable, body lax against Yoongi's as he falls asleep.
Yoongi runs his fingers between Jungkook's shoulders and presses his mouth on the crown of Jungkook's head, eyes closing, a sigh building in his lungs.
He thinks, This might be the only time I get to hold you like this.
Yoongi then whispers, “I'm terrified that this is all you've ever wanted from me. Nothing more.”
Jungkook keeps sleeping and, soon enough, Yoongi's mind goes black.
After he was expelled, Yoongi didn't see Jungkook for more than a month. His parents wouldn't allow him, and his mother would drive him to and from school, every day, with no exceptions.
It took the combined help of both Taehyung and Jimin to get him out of that house one, rainy night, promising to his parents that they were just going to study at Jimin's house.
When Jungkook had stepped in Jimin's room and saw Yoongi sitting on the bed, he had dropped his bag and thrown himself at him, arms tight around Yoongi's neck and body already shaking with sobs.
“Shit, Kook, don't cry,” Yoongi had said. “You're not a kid anymore, what are you crying about?”
But it had taken him almost an entire hour to calm Jungkook down and just as much to swallow down his own tears.
In the end, Jimin had let them sleep in a guestroom and they had laid close to each other without actually touching, the tips of their fingers brushing.
“I tried to get dad to talk to the principal and tell him the truth,” Jungkook has whispered. “He didn't care. He doesn't want anyone to know about what happened. He just—“
“They all threw you away. They expelled you. It's not fair.”
“Hey, was I ever much of a student? The answer is no. It's fine, Kook-ah, I didn't care about school anyway.”
That was a lie. He did. Maybe not about highschool, but he had plans for after that. He had music in his mind, he wanted to do something with that.
He guessed, at that point, there wasn't much he could do about it.
“I'm so sorry, Yoongi-hyung.”
“Stop saying that.”
“I hate them,” Jungkook had said. Yoongi could see it in his gaze that he meant it. “I hate them both. They don't care about me. They never did. I was an investment. I hate them.”
It was at that moment that Yoongi made a decision.
“Once you get out of highschool,” Yoongi began saying. “And once I have a stable job, I'll find us a place.”
Jungkook blinked. “Huh?”
“A house for us. Only us. And we will live in it and do what we damn want, stay up all night, play music for hours, eat anything you like.”
Yoongi nodded, and he held up his hand, pinkie raised. “I'll make us happy. Promise.”
Jungkook smiled, curled his pinkie around Yoongi's. “We'll be happy.”
Yoongi wakes up maybe just as the sun begins to rise. There is a strong light coming through the small windows of the van, it has Yoongi blinking furiously for several seconds before it stops hurting his eyes.
Jungkook is still asleep, eyes shut tight, lips parted and features slack. Yoongi brushes his hair off his forehead, grinning when Jungkook frowns and stirs in his sleep.
Slowly, he sits up straight and startles when he sees Namjoon and Taehyung sleeping close to them on the mattress. Seokjin did say that four people could sleep in the van, Yoongi had forgotten. He blinks at the impossible position that those two are sleeping in (Namjoon's face pressed against Taehyung's stomach, Taehyung's arms looped around Namjoon's thigh), then he slides the door of the van as silently as possible before climbing off and closing it once again.
Once he's back to the tent, he finds Seokjin awake, sitting in front of a dead fire. Seokjin is sipping what smells like coffee from a mug, and there's a small kettle with warm water over the still incandescent pieces of wood. Once their eyes meet, Seokjin raises a hand in salute, then he beckons Yoongi closer. He sits opposite to the man and watches him as Seokjin grabs another mug from a sports bag and fills it with the warm water of the kettle. Then, he drops two spoonfuls of instant coffee and begins stirring.
“It tastes like brown piss,” Seokjin says as he hands the mug to Yoongi. His voice is extremely low first thing in the morning. “But it does the job.”
“What does brown piss taste like?” Yoongi asks.
“You're about to find out.”
He takes a sip. Yoongi doesn't know about brown piss, but it tastes absolutely foul without any doubt. He still keeps drinking it, though.
“Yeah, it was fine,” Yoongi answers. “You?”
Seokjin hums, eyebrows raised. “Hoseok kept snoring in my ear and Jimin's knee found home in my ribs. But I slept.”
It steals a grin from Yoongi. Seokjin seems pleased with that.
“What's the plan for today?”
“We pack our stuff, get something to eat and then drive to the sea.” Seokjin drinks some more coffee and then he grimaces. “It's not that far off at this point, maybe a six hours drive.”
“And then we can stay there for as much as we like.”
They stay in silence, drinking their terrible coffees. The pink sky starts turning blue, thin, white clouds drawing shapes against it.
Seokjin inhales deeply.
“I want you to say it, Yoongi.”
Yoongi blinks at him. “Say what?”
“That you're mad at me and haven't forgiven me.”
Yoongi's jaw clenches and he hides the downturn of his mouth behind the mug. “Drop it.”
Seokjin braces his elbows on his knees, leaning forward. “I want you to say that you hate me.”
“I don't hate you.”
“Yes, you do!” Seokjin exclaims, loud enough to make Yoongi flinch. “You're mad at me for what I did and you hate me! Jungkook hates me too! Hell, fucking Taehyung hates me, so just say it!”
Why is he being like this?
Yoongi had tried so damn hard to be better than what Seokjin had bargained him for, bullied himself into pretending like rage and hostility wasn't biting at his guts whenever anyone brought Seokjin up. So why now?
Yoongi shakes his head. “I'm not going to.”
“Just fucking say it!”
“Fucking hell, Seokjin, I'm trying not to hate you!” Yoongi puts the mug down. “I've been trying my damn best, but if you want my hate so damn much then fucking take it, see if I care!”
“I want you to be honest!”
“No, you want to be a martyr!”
Seokjin's lips press tightly together, and color rises to his cheeks, almost as if he's ashamed.
Yoongi sighs. “You want me to say I'm mad?” He arches an eyebrow. “That would be a lie. I'm not mad, I'm rageful. I don't hate you, I don't think I'll ever be able to, but fuck did I despise you. For getting me expelled, for making Jungkook's parents even more distant and controlling. I despised you for those reasons.” He swallows, feeling the rest of the words he wants to say heavier than the others on his tongue. “And it killed me having such negative feelings for you.”
Seokjin's gaze softens, a crestfallen expression making his features drop.
“I'm tired of being mad at you and I don't know if I'll ever be able to forgive you. But I just—“ Yoongi rolls his eyes. “God, I just wish I could understand why you did it.”
“Then ask me.” Seokjin flicks his thumb against the handle of the mug. “You never did.”
“You could have just told us yourself. It would have made it easier.”
Yoongi hesitates. He realizes that he's scared that, if he were to be disappointed with Seokjin's answer, he truly might end up hating him for good.
“Why did you tell the principal we were hiding in that classroom?”
Seokjin gulps down the rest of his coffee and then he breathes in deep, as if he's bracing himself.
“You said it yourself last night at the restaurant, didn't you?” He gives Yoongi a rueful smile. “Daddy's dearest.”
“Mh, you haven't called me that in a while.” Seokjin shakes his head. “I don't expect you to understand, or anyone for that matter. But there are different shades to violence and fear and my father was a master in some of them. He raised me with the intent of shaping me into a copy of him and in doing so he made sure I knew I was beneath him. That I wouldn't be anything if it wasn't for him. Be a good boy, Seokjin, listen to your father, do as your told. Or you can just go back to Los Angeles and become a failure, good for nothing except for drying your grandmother's drool off her chin.” He swallows harshly and looks down at the cracked soil between his feet. “You grow up hearing that, to survive, you need to live in someone's shadow and you end up losing your identity.”
“You were scared of him.”
Seokjin scoffs and stares into his empty mug. “I still am.” He shrugs. “My father was a big sponsor of that highschool. Lots of donations. The principal thought that that meant he could use me to get rid of the bad apples, so that the prestige of the school wouldn't lower. And he was right. He knew that I had skipped class with you and even if he never said it out loud, the threat was there. That he would tell my father if I didn't tell him certain things.” Seokjin's eyelids flutter as if his eyes started stinging, but he doesn't rub at them. “I know that it's not an excuse, but I never thought it would have gotten to that point. I just thought you and Jungkook would have gotten some hours of detention, I didn't think you would—“
“What, it's my fault now?”
“I didn't say that.”
A few moments go by, Yoongi loses any fight he had in his system. He starts tapping his index finger over his knee.“I couldn't control myself that day. I just— Jungkook was shorter than me back then. And he was scared and that-that man was being violent and I couldn't control myself.”
Seokjin lets some silence go by. Maybe he needs it too, to make sure his voice doesn't shake when he speaks next.
“And now you can't stop trying to control everything,” he says. “Including your feelings.”
Yoongi looks at him. “Is it that bad?”
“Bad? No. Your feelings are yours and you're free to do what you want with them. But it becomes bad when you try to control Jungkook's heart too.”
Yoongi sends a look in the direction of the van. “I do it because I'm a coward.”
“You're just human.”
“I'm terrified that all Jungkook wants is love. Just love. Anyone's love. Just so that he can find out what it feels like to be wanted by someone.”
“Did he tell you that?”
“No, of course not.”
“Then why do you assume that?”
“Is it because of your mother?”
Yoongi rolls his eyes, feels his fingertips itch. “I don't think we're back on so peaceful grounds that I wanna talk about her with you.”
“But I'm right.”
“When are you ever wrong, huh?”
“Oh, so very often,” Seokjin sighs. “You're like him. You've never been loved. Or wanted. And so you're convinced he could never love you, because that's just how it goes.”
“No, I— well, yeah, but that's not the only reason.”
“Okay, tell me the other reason then.”
“Fuck, why would he want me? Or love me? I don't—“ Yoongi huffs out an incredulous breath. “Have you seen him?”
Seokjin gives him a smile. A very gentle one, a smile that could probably give peace of mind to most people.
“I have,” he replies. “And have you seen yourself?”
Yoongi feels himself flushing.
He can't find any word that feels right for a reply. He just knows that, for some reason, Seokjin's simple words are enough to make him doubt himself, to make his chest feel warmer.
At that moment, Namjoon emerges from the trees.
He looks at Yoongi first, then Seokjin. “I'm having struggles.”
Seokjin nods. “Alright. What struggle?”
“I am looking for a good place to pee.”
What the hell.
“Namjoon-ah,” Yoongi says. “There's a literal wood behind you.”
Namjoon shakes his head. “That's the point. I'm looking for a place to pee that won't bother the trees.”
“Ah, I see,” Seokjin says. “Why don't you try further down the hill.”
“Mh. I'll do that.” And then Namjoon walks away, disappearing once again behind trees and bushes.
“Sometimes I think that Namjoon might be a roaming spirit,” Yoongi says.
Seokjin nods wordlessly.
They leave soon enough. Once everything is packed and everyone had their share of brown piss coffee, they're all back inside the van.
Yoongi and Jungkook don't talk to each other, but it's not tense. Not at all. Jungkook sits next to him on the back of the van, hand curled loosely around Yoongi's wrist and, for now, that's enough.
They have breakfast in a small, cozy coffee shop in the town just under the hill where they camped. The coffee here tastes actually delightful, and the waffles they order are tall and beautifully buttery, the sweet sciroup they're soaked with just helps them down the treats faster. Jungkook steals the blueberries off Yoongi's waffle and doesn't even try to hide how pleased with himself he is.
Yoongi doesn't try to hide how charmed he feels.
Seokjin's beach house is a large and tall building, but it's discreet. It blends easily amongst the other beach houses, that might be smaller in measure but carry the same style and color of paint.
It watches right over the sea. There's a front gate, from where they come in, and another one at the back of the house that lets them step immediately on the sand, just a few feet away from the water.
Inside, the house is all white walls and light wood furniture. There's a main hall with a large, blue couch and a chimney for the winter. The kitchen is as big as Yoongi's entire flat, but it still manages to look homely with its ceramic tiles on the walls.
They drop their luggage on the floor of the living room and Seokjin starts opening the windows to let fresh air inside; outside, the sun is about to set.
“Okay, so,” he begins saying. “There are two guest bedrooms and a master bedroom. You guys take those and I'll sleep on the couch.”
“Hyung, it's your house,” Jimin protests. “You shouldn't sleep on the couch.”
“Oh, no, really, it's one of those couches that turn into beds. You know,” he gestures as he heads towards another closed window. “Those that have a mattress that you can pull out. I'll be fine, I love that damn couch. So, yeah, go on, go pick your rooms, unpack, then we can go take a walk on the beach or something. I have a surprise for you, too.”
Taehyung grabs his backpack and sprints upstairs, screaming that he's gonna get the master bedroom. Hoseok is immediately running after him, a wicked grin on his face.
“They're going to murder each other for a room,” Namjoon mutters as he heads upstairs too.
Yoongi and Jungkook end up in one of the guestrooms.
The walls are a creamy, soft color, and there are framed pictures of the ocean hanging close to the bed. There's also a small desk, a vanity, and a private bathroom.
“It's so cozy,” Jungkook marvels as he puts down his bag. “Can we paint the flat this color?”
Yoongi picks at the crystal figurine of a seahorse and he clears his voice. “Sure. You can choose the color you prefer for the walls of our next place.”
He hears Jungkook halting all movements.
Yoongi pretends he hasn't noticed anything and that he's not feeling like he could burst into flames at any moment. He notices that the window is closed in the room and goes to open it.
“Woah,” he breathes once the shutters are pushed open. “This is one hell of a view.”
The sky is a burnt yellow with streaks of bright red as the sun sets behind the line of an orange sea. The air smells of salt and sand.
“It's so beautiful here,” Jungkook says, then he grins. “Hyung, let's go see what Seokjin's surprise is.”
In Yoongi's opinion, the surpise is quite disappointing.
It's a box full of those cheap fireworks overzealous parents give to their small children, simple metal sticks with inflamable powder that burns into a yellow spark.
Yoongi grows bored with his own in maybe ten seconds. The others, though, seem to be absolutely delighted.
He stares, unimpressed, at how Jimin and Taehyung keep chasing each other whilst swaying their yellow sparks in the air, creating fleeting, glowing circles in the darkness.
Namjoon has been trying to write his name in the air for maybe ten minutes now.
Hoseok has maybe fifteen of those sticks in one hand, all lighted up at once, creating a huge spark that smokes like a damn fire.
Seokjin is crouched down on the sand, toes curling as he grins at his own small glowing stick.
A bunch of children.
Yoongi looks around himself, looking for Jungkook. He spots him a bit further away, closer to the shore. Taehyung suddenly runs up to Yoongi and hooks an arm around his shoulders.
“So,” he says. “Are you gonna go and talk to him?”
Yoongi shrugs. “Maybe he just wants some alone time and—“
Taehyung shoves him towards Jungkook and then pretends to kick his ass when Yoongi turns around with a scowl.
Still, he goes to Jungkook, bare feet sinking into the still warm sand. Jungkook is staring at the horizon but when Yoongi is close enough, he turns around and smiles.
“Hyung, walk with me?”
Yoongi thinks it's a silly question. As if he would ever say no to the possibility of simply being around Jungkook.
They walk by the shore in silence for a while. Occasionally, Jungkook crouches down and picks a seashell from the ground, stuffing it into the pocket of his jeans after he brushed sand off of it.
Then, Jungkook asks, “You remember last time we all went to the sea?”
“Yeah,” Yoongi replies. “I do.”
“Weren't we looking for something?”
“Ah, yeah. What was it? A rock?”
“A rock? Really?”
Yoongi smiles. “I think it granted wishes or something.”
“Wow, we were really stupid.”
“Shit, yeah, we were.” He glances at Jungkook. “You used to bite your nails back then.”
“Sometimes I still do.”
“Drop that shitty habit, really.”
“Did you drop it?”
“Not exactly a role model, am I?”
Then quiet again. The sound of the waves breaking onto shore it's far more gentle than Yoongi remembers it being. The wet sand creaks under their feet as they walk, leaving footprints behind them that will be erased by the water as soon as the tide comes.
Suddenly, Jungkook stops walking.
“Do you love me, hyung?”
Yoongi looks at him. With the lingering colors of the sunset, Jungkook's skin looks like it has been painted orange and red in streaks.
Yoongi breathes in. “Of course I do.”
Jungkook shakes his head. “No, that's not what I mean.”
Yoongi knows what he means. Knows what answer Jungkook wants. “Spell it out for me, then?”
He sees Jungkook hesitating and he almost laughs. How Jungkook has any doubts, it's still beyond him. But he waits all the same.
Finally, Jungkook takes a deep breath.
“Are you in love with me?”
In any other situation, on any other day, Yoongi would have teased him. Told him to stop being silly. Would have tried to avoid the question at all costs.
But now, at this point, he wants to believe that he's not imagining the hope in Jungkook's voice.
“I am,” Yoongi breathes out, quiet enough that the waves could swallow his voice. But Jungkook hears it all the same. “Of course I am.”
“You say it like it's an obvious thing.”
Yoongi smiles. “It is for me.”
“It's hard to imagine myself not loving you.”
Jungkook steps forward, feet a little unsteady on the sand.
“Why did you never tell me?”
“Did I need to? You seem to know already.”
“It's not the same as being sure of it.”
“Didn't want to get my heart broken some more, I guess.”
He stops in front of Yoongi. “You just assumed I'd break your heart?”
Yoongi takes in the slope of Jungkook's nose and the soft arch of his cupid bow.
“You've been breaking it for quite some time now, Jungkook-ah.”
“I don't want it to break.”
“Is that so?”
“I want to make sure it stays whole. And beating.” Jungkook swallows. His hands twitch as if he was about to reach over and touch him. He looks at the sea, then at Yoongi again, lips moving around nothing for a few moments, until, “Yoongi-hyung, I love you.”
Yoongi hears the words, sees them shaped by Jungkook's mouth. Somehow, they still don't feel real.
“You love me,” he repeats.
Jungkook nods. “I love you.”
His voice breaks. Jungkook's gaze softens and, finally, he does reach for him. His fingertips brush along Yoongi's cheek, then down to his neck.
“Yoongi,” he breathes. “I love you.” Jungkook leans in. “No one else, just you.”
They're beginning to feel real.
“Just me,” Yoongi says, feels the words leave him in an exhale like a prayer.
Jungkook's mouth brushes against his, dark eyes pleading. “Is this alright, can I—“
Yoongi kisses him.
There's sea breeze breathing into their room from the window and Jungkook's skin tastes like salt and sun.
The more Yoongi gets of him, the more he wants. Kissing Jungkook soon isn't enough, that spot on his neck that has Jungkook arching and gripping onto Yoongi's shoulders isn't enough, the dips of his collarbones, the curve of his stomach, the soft skin of his inner thighs, everything calls for more.
Yoongi would spend the entire night just kissing and tasting every inch of Jungkook's skin if it wasn't for the soft demands Jungkook moans at times.
“There,” he breathes, a hand buried in Yoongi's hair. “Fuck, touch me more there.”
Yoongi takes him in his mouth and revels in the sound that leaves Jungkook's mouth, something caught in between an overwhelmed moan and a surprised gasp, his whole body drawn taut, thighs trembling.
He presses his tongue flat along Jungkook's cock, wraps his mouth around the tip, does everything he can to steal more of those moans from Jungkook, his own body hot and aching just at the idea of being the one who's making Jungkook shake like this.
“Stop,” Jungkook gasps. “No, 'm close, stop.”
Yoongi does, pushes himself up until his nose brushes against Jungkook's. “Good?”
Jungkook nods, his breathing fast and his eyes dark. “You too.”
“Wanna touch you too. With you, I want to—“ Jungkook surges up, presses his mouth on Yoongi's. “Can I touch?”
Yoongi's heart kicks and pulls, weak and broken all over again, chest too hot.
“You can do what you want with me,” Yoongi says. “Do what you want.”
Jungkook's fingers are hesitant at first when they trace the line of Yoongi's jaw and neck, but grow more bold the longer they're on his skin.
When Jungkook wraps his hand around both his and Yoongi's cocks his eyes flutter closed for a moment, mouth opening in a silent gasp. Yoongi is quick to steal another kiss, lick into Jungkook's mouth to savor the taste of his moan before the sound even comes out.
Yoongi traces the curve of Jungkook's bottom lip with his fingers, sucks in a sharp breath when Jungkook licks at them and then tilts his head to press against Yoongi's palm, quiet moans and whimpers falling out of him the faster he strokes them.
Yoongi thinks there's something addicting about the way Jungkook accepts pleasure and thrives with the attention that comes with it.
Something that makes him want to be even greedier.
When Jungkook cums a few moments later, with a choked noise and a thrumming body, he keeps his eyes on Yoongi, keeps his hand working their cocks until he's trembling with sensitivity and Yoongi cums too, mouth pressed on Jungkook's throat. They lay still, breaths shallow and warm, the air still smelling of the sea.
After a few moments, Jungkook noses along his cheek and murmurs his name, once and then twice and then one more time, until Yoongi pulls back to look at him.
“You're calling my name.”
“I just wanted to say it,” Jungkook replies. “Should I not?”
Yoongi groans, face flushed. He drops down next to Jungkook and brushes Jungkook's shoulder with his nose. “Told you already, do what you want.”
“Anything I want?”
Yoongi thinks about it. “Within limits.”
Jungkook giggles, still breathless and loose-limbed.
“Then I'll keep saying your name.” He rolls on his side and brushes hair off Yoongi's brow. “And I'll keep your heart whole.”
“That would be very appreciated.”
“Good. My heart is a very weak machine.”
“I'll take care of it, then.” A pause and then, quieter, “I promise you.”
Yoongi knows Jungkook means it. For the first time, he feels like he can believe this without second guessing himself. Doesn't feel like he should try and control the beatings of his heart.
They've always worked best on promises.
“Jesus, this thing is so fucking heavy.”
“Less complaining, more dragging it up the stairs.”
“You got it, guys, don't give up.”
From higher up the staircase and behind the piano, Taehyung's outraged face appears. “Why aren't you helping? The piano is yours.”
Yoongi leans against the railing and shrugs. “Weak arms.”
“I'll fucking break your arms, then we'll see what's weak.”
“Save your breath, Tae,” Namjoon grunts as he holds the other side of the piano. “We're almost there, come on.”
They start dragging the piano up the stairs once more. When Yoongi tells them to be careful about not scratching the wood, Taehyung almost drops the piano right there and then to lunge himself at Yoongi's throat.
The loft is old, and it used to be a warehouse for clothes shipments from overseas. It still smells faintly of moisture, the walls needs several new layers of paint, one window has a cracked panel of glass, but it will work. It's spacious, and it always has so much natural light during the day, the electricity works just fine and it already has a bathroom installed.
They'll make it work.
“You know I'm one hundred percent supportive of this, guys,” Seokjin says behind a plastic cup filled with discount soda. “But, well, where's the furniture?”
Jungkook, who's sitting cross-legged on a piece of cardboard on the dusty floor, shrugs. “We gotta buy it. Ah, but our bed arrives tomorrow.”
Seokjin nods. “Okay. So, do you plan on sleeping on cardboard tonight, or—“
Yoongi grins. “Who said anything about sleeping?”
“Stop, no, don't,” Jimin groans and waves a hand at him. “Don't ever make innuendos again.”
Jungkook takes a sip of his orange juice. “I thought it was, like, law to fuck on every available surface of your new house, though.”
Yoongi snaps his fingers together. “Exactly.”
“Yeah, too bad you two don't have any surface to fuck on,” Hoseok adds as he scans the large, empty space of the loft. “Except the piano. But Yoongi wouldn't dare to perform such a foul act on the sacred instrument.”
Yoongi scoffs. “Don't be ridiculous. We tried, it didn't work because it's too small and narrow.”
“I'm going to throw up,” Jimin mutters.
“Next thing I'll buy will be a grand piano, that will give us more space.”
“That sounds like a great idea.” Jungkook raises his plastic cup. “Speak it into existence, hyung.”
“I can't believe I miss the times when you two were just pining,” Taehyung says. “But here we are. Life works in a mysterious way.”
The seven of them fall into an easy silence then, everyone sipping their drinks as they lounge on boxes full of clothes or just stray pieces of cardboard.
“You guys don't have a kitchen yet, do you?” Namjoon asks.
Yoongi clicks his tongue. “No kitchen.”
“And when are you planning on buying it?”
“Who knows,” Jungkook replies.
Namjoon sighs and pulls out his phone. “I'm just going to order chicken for tonight.”
It's far deeper into the night when Yoongi is sitting at the piano, fingers dancing carelessly over white and black tiles, the heat of Jungkook's body a solid thing by his side.
Jungkook has his eyes closed, lips curved into an easy smile, a hand around Yoongi's knee. He's humming along the melody, somehow falling perfectly in time with it despite Yoongi making it up as he plays.
“You know,” Jungkook says at one point. “You should write a song for me.”
Yoongi snorts, keeps playing. “'s that so?”
“For my love.”
“Love doesn't pay bills.”
“That's not very romantic of yours.”
“I'm not romantic. You should know by now.”
“A guy can dream.”
Yoongi wonders if another year will have to pass before he finds the courage to tell Jungkook that every song he's ever written, every melody he ever played, all of them are for Jungkook. About Jungkook.
“Maybe I'll write you a song when you stop using my toothbrush.”
Jungkook whines. “For the last time, it was a mistake, I was still half-asleep.”
“Excuses, excuses. I got your germs on my toothbrush.”
Jungkook scoffs. “Oh, trust me, you've had plenty of opportunities to get my germs in your—“
“Don't be disgusting.”
He hears Jungkook giggling and Yoongi's fingers falter, lose their tempo for a moment, but then he starts playing again.
From an opened window, a fresh, vibrant breeze strokes his face and neck.
It's still spring. May washed over them less gently than last year. June is rushing over to bring heat and harsher sunlight.
Yoongi stops playing when Jungkook leans over to press a kiss on his mouth, lips curved in a smile even as they kiss, hands warm when they rest on Yoongi's cheek and neck.
Kissing Jungkook still feels different from his fantasies but familiar all the same. Yoongi's breath gets caught in his throat everytime, like it's the first time they have ever touched each other. Jungkook's lips taste of that watermelon chapstick he uses sometimes and of fizzy soda.
Kissing him still feels different and yet familiar.
It feels like Summer.