[Several Years Ago]
The sound of a gunshot.
A dark starless sky blankets the countryside similar to what is described in macabre tales and terrors of the night. It was strange for the residents. The sky out here is usually twinkling and dotted by golden balls of hydrogen and helium. It is befitting for tonight’s circumstance.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful boy who lived in a beautiful mansion.
He wore the fairest skin over flesh and bones, and a face whose blueprint was stolen from the angels and carved by devils. His face has been passed down from generations, a curse that enthralls and can control those delicate neurotransmitters in the brain that humans call love.
God remains fair.
You don’t inherit beauty without being stained with the ugly.
The beautiful boy has defective eyes that cannot see in the dark, and his family’s humorous attempt to shelter him from this obstacle backfires.
As do most fairy tales, there is always a monster, a villain, or a tempest.
They live in the forest and their face is also an inheritance. His eyes carry the souls of his ancestors, and behind a rifle, they sometimes peer out and greet the outside world.
But this is the charming and gruesome reality; people can both be beautiful and the monster, unbound by labels and stereotypes. Humans are fluid creatures nurtured by nature. They’re built to make choices and live out these choices as if they’re shedding skin.
Seokjin lays down the forest ground and sees nothing. He feels the rush of endorphins all over his system, fighting to keep him from feeling. He hears his name being shouted and feet hitting the dirt to get to him. His last thought before he closes his eyes is that when he wakes up, he’d have to comfort Jungkook for almost killing him.
From the large window, Seokjin sees home. He’s lived there all his life. Looking at it from this distance, he realizes that he knows the twists and turns of the interior but he's never actually seen the whole exterior. He wasn’t aware the lavender fields extended that far, almost reaching his best friend’s own house. He’s sitting on the window’s seat, white marble like the walls and floors of the room. Not really a room. It’s more of a hall.
The columns are made of marble too. They spiral up and into a high ceiling, creating an illusion of spaciousness. The chandeliers are rusty yet beautiful. They’re haunting; obtained and restored from expeditions of the Titanic and won from high stake auctions. Now, it hangs in this fortress the Jeons call their home.
Seokjin wonders if this is his moment of enlightenment.
He is outside, looking at the outside, and is highly aware of what happens inside. He’s now spending time being confined in walls he would never know about if circumstance didn’t drive him to it. After his recovery, he’ll leave and come back to his own space, with the knowledge of what it’s like on the other side. He knows he wouldn’t truly understand these ranks and hierarchy of normal society, but in this microcosm the layman calls the world of the elite, he’s starting to understand it. Bit by bit. One luxury at a time.
Perhaps this is how people learn their place in the world, when you are awoken with an epiphany that something or someone out there occupies higher importance than you do.
There’s a veil that glitters right in front of the eyes of children, and it’s so fragile that with a single tear, it unravels and reveals that it was all a filter and that the fundamentality of its beauty is in its deception.
In Seokjin’s case, it wasn’t a tear. It was a bullet to his leg. It pierced through skin, fat, and fascia, lodging itself in his body. His doctors have assured him numerous times he will be okay, physiologically and aesthetically. It seems that even ballistics are nothing in the face of money.
He hears the sound of echoing footsteps bouncing against the walls. There really is no need for a room like this. The walls are bare and there isn’t even any sort of decorative plant. It’s just another structure built to be able to say one has the capacity to do so. Every sound and movement is therefore maximized.
Seokjin wouldn’t say he was found. He likes staying in this room. The staff knows that. They probably think it’s because he gets to see home here. The real reason is simple. Nobody else cares to go here. This room does not hold any beginnings or ends. There is something melancholic and beautiful about being frozen in time.
The footsteps stop. Seokjin cranes his head back, swan-like neck stiff and his chin resting on his shoulder.
Seokjin never thought that gods could look this remorseful. He’s dressed in his riding gear. His black hair is messy. He looks like he threw his helmet and gloves on the floor as he made his way to the marble room.
This is the first time Seokjin has seen him since… he doesn’t even remember the last time. Technically speaking, it was the night Jungkook shot him, but Seokjin couldn’t see anything at all in the dark, so he disregards that one. He was brought to the hospital where the lights are never turned off. He met Jungkook’s parents and his grandparents. His parents bowed to them despite their golden boy being the reason Seokjin was in the hospital. They paid for his bills and the treatment. They’re currently paying for his physical therapy. For their final act of goodwill, they invited Seokjin to stay with them. He’s been here for a month now.
Seokjin waits for Jungkook to speak. He’s been waiting for this conversation to happen far too long. There’s no harm in waiting longer.
Jungkook walks up to him. He goes up the elevated portion of the room where Seokjin is at. He glances at the wheelchair, positioned close for Seokjin to grab at when he wants to leave. He stops a few steps away from Seokjin whose eyes never leave his. Up close, Seokjin can see the bags on his sun-kissed skin.
“Jin.” Jungkook says his name like it’s the hardest thing he ever had to do.
“What is it?” Seokjin replies, neck still craned backwards. He finds it amusing that Jungkook remains resolute over his issues about calling Seokjin his hyung.
“Can I come closer?”
Seokjin blinks in surprise. He didn’t expect that one.
Jungkook walks until he’s looking down and Seokjin is staring up at him. Tears start forming at the corner of his eyes. Seokjin automatically wraps his fingers around Jungkook’s wrist, tugging him closer until he’s forcing Jungkook to sit next to him. Jungkook rubs his eyes with his free hand, the other maneuvering to entwine his and Seokjin’s together.
“Grandfather said I should apologize,” Jungkook hiccups.
Seokjin nods in understanding even though Jungkook cannot see it. He gets it. Jungkook’s family are the type to remind him that the world owes him nothing.
“Hyung forgives you, Jungkookie.”
“I haven’t said sorry yet.”
Seokjin chuckles at the confusion on the younger’s features. His eyes are wet, nose red and sniffling.
“No need. I know you are.”
Jungkook meets his eyes. It darts upwards, then to the side. Seokjin wonders what he’s seeing. He nods, tightens his hold on Seokjin’s hand and leans closer until his knee hits Seokjin’s own.
The voice in Seokjin’s head that sounds suspiciously like Jimin whispers to him, “You spoil him too much.”
“Did it hurt?” Jungkook’s voice is small. His other hand is laying between them, flat on the cushion of the window seat and mere inches away from Seokjin.
Seokjin gazes down his lap. He’s wearing shorts because of the heat. The bandages wrapped around his right leg are visible.
“Are you lying to make me feel better?”
Jungkook cozies up to him. Seokjin lets him. Jungkook rests the side of his head on Seokjin’s shoulder.
“…do you remember it?” Jungkook whispers.
“No,” Seokjin answers truthfully, “I don’t.”
“I shot you and you laid on the dirt and comforted me while I cried.” Jungkook says it like he’s spitting something poisonous out.
“I did?” Seokjin doesn’t remember anything that night but it does sound like something he would do.
“I’m really sorry,” Jungkook hiccups. He’s crying again. “I’m sorry. I’m a coward. I couldn’t do anything.”
Seokjin purses his lips together.
“You’re literally still a child,” Seokjin reminds him, “Stop beating yourself up over things you don’t have the capacity to do yet.”
“But I could have killed you.”
Seokjin knows that. He doesn’t say anything, only wraps his arm around Jungkook’s heaving shoulders, and pats his head in comfort.
“I never miss,” Jungkook turns to him. “This is the first time.”
“Well, thank goodness you did.” Seokjin teases. “I would be gone if you didn’t.”
The quiet takes over. He lets Jungkook cuddle up to him and cry on his shoulder. Seokjin doesn’t find his company grating.
“Do you like staying here because you can see your house?” Jungkook suddenly asks, voice small.
“Not really. I just like it.”
“There’s nothing to see here though.”
Seokjin hums. He traces the patterns on the marble with his eyes, something he doesn’t seem to get tired of doing. “Maybe that’s why I like it. It’s fun to imagine what can be hung here. I’m thinking Monet.”
“What about music?”
“Mendelssohn.” Seokjin is quick to say. “Schumann if I’m feeling under the weather.”
“Boring,” Jungkook grumbles. “But I’ll learn it for you.”
Jungkook buries himself deeper on Seokjin’s side. “You do need to marry me first if you want to own this place.”
Seokjin sputters and then laughs.
Jungkook ignores him.
“Jungkook-ah,” Seokjin sighs, feeling soft over the other. “I’m torn between wanting you to grow up quickly so you can know more about the world… or if I want you to remain this starry-eyed.”
“But you’ll love me either way?”
Seokjin doesn’t know. He never thought of it like that.
Fact. Jungkook shot him blind in the dark because he came out from nowhere. The target was a deer. He dissapeared in the forest after an argument with Seokjin about matters they don’t remember. Seokjin came looking for him because of course he would. He never knew he couldn’t see at night but that didn’t stop him.
And… fact. There is nothing to forgive. Jungkook could have shot him somewhere fatal, or even did it bad enough that he had to lose his leg, but he would still comfort him. He’d allow Jungkook to sit right next to him here, apologize for all he’s worth, and Seokjin would accept it without a second thought.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful boy who lived in a beautiful mansion.
He came into the forest and was shot down.
The suspect is also a prince, and under the amber afternoon sun, one can barely tell if he was sent to smother the air off the beautiful boy or breathe life into him.
They sit on the windowsill. The two princes are folded into each other. A pair of wings shelter them from the outside world. The length of it spans the entire room, so that when people from the outside look in, they cannot tell where it begins and ends, or whose back it has sprouted from.
The dark air-conditioned room’s only light source is the projector in the middle of the aisle. The screen shows a still from Marie Antoinette, the next one from The Virgin Suicides.
“Sofia Coppola’s main criticism is that she has a certain type: blonde, waifish, and privileged. If you examine her works, her characters all share this socioeconomic background. It leads us to ask… is she capable of writing more diverse characters? Is she a one-hit wonder?”
Seokjin’s red laser pointer disappears. He’s standing at the back of the class, wearing a crisp suit, and glasses on his nose.
“If you ask me, Coppola is simply sticking to the golden rule of writing; write only about what you know. Through this, we can argue that Coppola’s filmography touches on the mind at another level. She can go as deep as she can, exploring themes connected to it. She can exploit those human emotions because she has the background down to a pat. Now, can someone tell me what are the emotions we can easily pinpoint in a Coppola film?”
Several students raise their hands. Seokjin randomly calls on someone among the many enthusiastic students.
“Loneliness, impostor syndrome, and girlhood.”
“Correct. Nobody does privileged sadness like Coppola does.”
The class laughs at the sarcasm and it makes Seokjin himself grin.
“We must mention that if the characters in her films come from a different background, the story will take a completely different turn. But they aren’t. They are one of the same. They’re Coppola herself. It gets to us because she gives a part of herself in every one of those characters. We are able to recognize humanity whether we are doing it on purpose or not. And perhaps that’s the lesson we will take home with us today: stick to what we know and grow from there.”
Wrapping up class is therapeutic for Seokjin. He tells his students goodbye while some stay behind to hang out in the room. Seokjin would be reading a book or on his laptop during the small breaks between his classes while drinking a cafe latte from the school cafeteria and pinching pieces off a cinnamon roll or glazed donut.
The sun goes down and work is done. He exits the building and is met by the professors of the literature and film departments. The disparity in ages seem to not matter here.
Ever since Seokjin’s weekdays stopped being a series of getting to point a then b, the other professors mustered up their courage and asked him to join them in what is dubbed pub nights.
They resemble a murder of crows with their black billowing cloaks, thin frame glasses, and hats. They are a pretty loud group; a bunch of academics who graduated from the city and decided that they will teach in a resort town because… aesthetics. Seokjin doesn’t really have to talk much. He’s content listening or occasionally commenting, his quick wit and ability to joke in several languages, whether they be dead ones or not, makes his charm appear endless.
Tonight’s pub night brings them to a bar near the university premises. Students, professors, and school administrators alike frequent the said bar, especially since there really isn’t much to see in their town unless one exerts the effort to drive to the nearest city where there are classy and rowdy bars, cheap clubs, and high-end ones.
It only took Seokjin a couple of weeks to get used to this. To someone pushing the door to the pub open and holding it until they are all inside, to removing his coat and hanging it on one of racks, ordering a pint of Guinness, and munching on fried food. Everything on the menu is fried, even dessert, and Seokjin never thought he would enjoy it and look forward to nights like this. He likes how the beer washes down the dryness of his throat and how fried oreos taste. He finds himself smoking later, Chesterfield cigarette stick hanging between his lips, and someone lighting it up for him. He usually doesn’t smoke, but it fits. He likes fitting in.
At the mention of his name, Seokjin’s head whips toward his companion smoking with him outside the bar. His accent is heavy, hair light and eyes lighter.
“Your gaze…” They remove the cigarette from their lips and exhale the smoke out. “It reminds me of femme fatales up to no good.”
Seokjin laughs and rolls his eyes.
Seokjin takes a drag from his cigarette and wraps one arm across his chest. It’s quite cold today.
The language professor speaks up again. “You’re very beautiful, you know that?”
Seokjin tilts his head to the side and blinks up at him. “Yes, I do.”
The man smiles.
“If memory serves me right, you live around here.”
“You didn’t before.”
Seokjin shrugs. “It’s easier to live near work.”
The man chuckles. His voice is deep, a baritone, scruffy yet smooth similar to melting chocolate. “I remember how you were. You were dropped off and picked up everyday. In different vintage cars no less. The expensive kind, not the ones you pick up in a parking dump.”
“Observant, aren’t you?”
They laugh, and when they do, deep dimples appear on each side of their cheeks.
“There is one thing I do remember with such clarity…” He points with his finger at his neck and grins at Seokjin. “Your lover is very possessive.”
Seokjin pauses. The sentence washes over him. He wasn’t aware teachers also test their colleagues.
“Past tense,” Seokjin declares.
It’s his companion’s turn to be taken aback. Then, he grins and laughs again.
Seokjin doesn’t hide his eyes and openly stares at the other. Strong jaw, muscular build, and rough hands. His eyes are kind, a contrast to every sharp and pointy feature.
Good enough. More than good, if Seokjin’s being honest.
“Hm?” They raise their eyebrows in question at Seokjin’s heavy stare. “What is it, Professor Kim?”
To the other’s field of vision, what he sees is Kim Seokjin, staring him down so intimidatingly it can bring any man down to their knees. His hair, long and light brown, almost covers his eyes. His eyes are another category in itself. Pools of brown that can look innocent or sensual depending on how heavy his lids are, long lashes framing the orbs that kiss his skin at every blink. And speaking of kisses… the curve of Kim Seokjin’s mouth must be carved by the angels.
“I don’t ask, Professor. I get asked.”
A smile that says it all appears on the other professor’s face: the gauntlet has been thrown and he accepts.
“He never needs man; he’s what man needs,” they say in their native language.
Seokjin understands perfectly and he smiles in return. “Are you comparing my likeness to God?”
“God is violent and mysterious. Mortals think God makes them suffer for a greater purpose without questioning first if maybe it is their fault.” They smirk at Seokjin. “Are you going to make me suffer for no reason, Seokjin?”
Seokjin pretends to think about it. He’s… in his element. This is too easy.
“Humans wouldn’t need to endure all that suffering if they knew without doubt what they wanted.” Seokjin raises a brow. “Do you know what you want?”
An hour and thirty minutes pass.
They have said goodbye to their colleagues and hung around to smoke some more. Seokjin allows the man to walk him back to where he lives, a townhouse around the area within walking distance. He wraps his hand around the man’s wrist and asks, “Coming?”
Another hour passes.
Seokjin’s laying on his bed with the covers drawn up to his chin. The heater is working fine but he’s sensitive to the cold, especially when the only barrier his naked body has against it are his bed sheets. The man he slept with joins him underneath the covers, his arm snaking around Seokjin’s waist. He rests his chin on Seokjin’s shoulder.
The night lights shining from outside through the square window on the wall beside Seokjin’s bed bathe the room with a faint glow.
Seokjin has come down from the orgasm, his nerves now calm and not firing multiple impulses at once. He’s blinking blindly at the room, the light never enough against his night blindness.
This is the first time in six months that he slept with someone.
This is the first time in almost five years he slept with someone new.
Seokjin wonders if he is going crazy.
Jin, did you fuck him out of spite?
Seokjin refuses to acknowledge who the voice belongs to, not when he’s in the arms of someone else. He can almost hear it whispered over his head or against his ear, the tone dripping in amusement.
You’re so cute, thinking of me like this after being with someone else.
You’re still so mine, and you know it, don’t you?
A shudder goes through Seokjin’s body at the dark tone he is familiar with. Flames lick at his skin and battles against the coldness of his room, of the reality that it’s all in his head. There’s a part of him that wants to give in, let his body give up and for him to be on his knees, to beg to be possessed once more, beg for forgiveness and admit he wants to be held down and smothered in so much adoration that it suffocates him and drives him insane. A part of him is ready to promise that he won’t break anyone’s heart this time around.
His name is said directly to his ear that it makes him shiver.
Bare limbs drape over him and pull him closer towards their warmth. He doesn’t protest. In fact he welcomes it. He turns around and entangles himself fully with the other, hands going around their neck and fingers playing with the short cropped hair.
“I am,” Seokjin mumbles, closing his eyes and preparing to doze off.
Then again, he wouldn’t have gotten to experience this if he stayed.
Seokjin sits outside his balcony overlooking the town proper in a white polo with vertical blue stripes. It’s too big on him, the cuffs pooling over and sleeves drooping over his shoulder. His legs are bare and soaking up the sun, propped up on another chair.
Earlier, before the sun rose, he was kissed on the cheek goodbye by his… friend, before he left. Seokjin dragged himself up the stairs and fell asleep on his stomach, arms and legs spread all over the bed. He woke up to the sun burning through his eyelids and walked around the house with an uneven gait.
On the floor is a sweater he is sure isn’t his and can only be someone else’s. Definitely the man who was just in his bed. It’s white with yellow daisies knitted on the front. It’s cute. He decides to dump it in the laundry basket and return it some other time.
Seokjin plants his feet on the ground and leans his arms on the black rails. He squints and tries to make out the locations surrounding his townhouse. There’s a bakery right in front of the street, their display lined with golden goods. Seokjin’s mouth waters at the memory of how good they are with butter and sugar. Beside the bakery is a post office, and in this digital and modern world, Seokjin finds that romantic. It’s not some dying establishment around here. He likes that. He likes that he found out he likes these kinds of things.
The familiar jingle of a bell has Seokjin craning his head back. A golden retriever with the shiniest coat and kindest eyes trudges up to Seokjin. It immediately brings a smile to his face. The dog doesn’t bother him, only settles on her stomach right next to Seokjin.
Seokjin leans down and rubs behind the dog’s ears with his fingers.
“Andromeda,” Seokjin says. “Just you and me again today.”
The dog glances at him with their big brown eyes. Seokjin snorts at the emotion he believes he can decipher.
“Last night was a one time thing.”
Seokjin lays the upper half of his body on top of the table, his forearms cradling his head and face. For some reason, he feels how long his hair is in this position. The long and curling edges tickle his skin, strands gently moving with the wind. He adds another to-do in his growing list.
Grade papers, get groceries, return some calls and respond to certain emails, and now, cut his hair.
It takes Seokjin thirty more minutes to be roused into a state of wakefulness. He stands up on his feet and stretches. He feels the movement of the fabric over his skin and the heaviness of a thin silver chain around his neck. He doesn’t look at it. He knows what it is and what it reminds him of.
The chain lays daintily in between Seokjin’s collarbones. The heavy stone it carries is a testament to its strength despite its fragile design.
There are days when it feels like a collar around his neck.
Today doesn’t seem to be that day.
Seokjin begrudgingly showers and gets dressed. His hair takes too long to dry. He bumps getting a haircut up his priority list. A small, brown, toothed comb that he found in one of his bags is what he uses to smooth the strands out. The comb is now a permanent fixture on his bathroom counter.
A thin, salmon pink, button-up, brown khaki shorts, white sliders, and Wayfarers is how Seokjin exits his apartment. He has a canvas bag with the university’s logo hanging on one shoulder.
The town square is charming. The salon and farmer’s market are right across each other. There’s a cafe with more seats outside than inside, where people are actually drinking coffee and enjoying their day, spending it in leisure instead of in a hurry. It brings a smile to his face, this contentment in his chest he never knew could come from something so simple and considerably quaint.
Seokjin gets his haircut. It’s only supposed to be that, but then the person says this and that, and Seokjin found himself laughing and agreeing to whatever they suggested. He leisurely spends more hours inside the salon than what he originally intended. It pushes his plans a bit to the side but it doesn’t bother him. He exits and feels the air on his neck. Seokjin’s hair is as light as the sun, bleached blonde and forming a halo over his head, the color emphasizing the rosiness of his cheeks because of the heat.
The last time he dyed his hair was when he was still in college. He catches sight of himself on the bakery shop window while he buys coffee buns and garlic bread. His own reflection takes him aback. He looks different. The surprised expression is in itself surprising. The curve of his brows and his mouth are all dripping with insinuation when he used to be as blank as marble statues.
Seokjin ends up sitting on the round ledge of a fountain. The fountain is located at the epicenter of the town square and honestly takes up too much space. Seokjin’s legs are stretched out, hands busy unwrapping a coffee bun so he can bite into it. Seokjin decides that this is the perfect time to check off the rest of his to-do.
He takes his phone out from his canvas bag, a new one, bought only a month ago. He has an unopened text message from Jimin for almost a week now. Seokjin clicks on it and finds digital tickets to a ballet performance. One of Jimin’s shows, Seokjin assumes. He ignores it and opens his emails instead. He switches to his personal account, his work email clean and everything dealt with.
There are three unopened emails in Seokjin’s inbox. He opens the most innocent one, an email from the PR Manager of Hinoki Honey, inviting Seokjin to the big day. The movie premiere. Seokjin makes quick work on answering, a yes he will be attending, and a no he does not have a plus one.
The remaining two has Seokjin’s thumb hovering above the screen. He chooses based on which was delivered first.
The contact name says Kim Taehyung, and the body simply says: Please let me see you.
Simple and straight to the point. Seokjin almost wants to laugh because he ignored something so blunt for days. He taps out his response and stares at the last one. Seokjin purses his lips together. It’s from Yoongi. He already knows what the email will tell him; he’s been receiving various emails from Yoongi ever since the other decided to quit the university.
Glancing up to the heavens, Seokjin is met with endless blue. He wonders what difference will it make if he reads this at night while blanketed by his comforter and the starry night sky. He makes his decision. He reads it. Seokjin sighs and stands up from the fountain’s edge. He walks home and drops his bag on the nearby couch. He fills Andromeda’s bowl with food and climbs up the wooden stairs up to his bedroom.
Seokjin’s townhouse is extremely lacking in space compared to his previous lodgings. He likes it though, the fact that all this space is his. He strips and leaves his clothes on the floor, phone still on his hand. He makes his way towards the bathroom where a porcelain white clawfoot bathtub will catch the attention of anyone coming in. He fills the water up and opens his phone again.
While waiting for the water to fill, Seokjin lets out a laugh, quiet yet loud because he’s the only one here.
“Maybe you weren’t lying when you said you’ll never leave me alone.”
The water fills. Seokjin leaves his phone on the floor and climbs in the tub. He sinks down until only the upper half of his face is visible. He hugs his legs to his chest and closes his eyes.
The contents of Yoongi’s email plays out perfectly in his head, his imagination supplying him with visuals to accompany what he read.
He got into another fight.
Bruise under his eye.
He didn’t throw the first punch, so it’s not that hard to sweep.
There are times when Seokjin thinks that Yoongi was hired as a publicist for him just so he can continuously hover in Seokjin’s life. Seokjin knows that isn’t true, and since he’s thinking of him anyway, then whether it was meant that way or not, it’s working.
“A club?” The paper straw to the iced cafe latte Seokjin was sipping from lies close to his lips. “In the city?”
He’s having lunch with some of the professors from the linguistics department, sans a certain person he shared his bed with. It’s not that they are avoiding each other, really. Or perhaps the man is, seeing as how he tried insinuating a repeat of that night and Seokjin blatantly turns him down.
“It’ll be fun, Professor! Aren’t you sick of the dingy pubs around here? It would be fun to go somewhere expensive for once!”
Seokjin bites his straw. He regrets it after remembering it’s made of paper. He looks at it, crumpled and with teeth marks.
They cheer at his acceptance.
Seokjin forgets about it quickly. He busies himself with grading papers and reading mountains of essays from his overly enthusiastic students who either wax poetry about Sofia Coppola or outright despise the director.
Minutes, hours, and days pass by so quickly lately.
Seokjin’s alone in the faculty room. He’s gotten used to it. The rest of the staff are easygoing and push off their workload, preferring to take early leaves. He’s quietly working, encoding grades on the small laptop in front of him.
The door swings open, and Seokjin wouldn’t have bothered checking who it is if they didn’t say his name.
“Are you ready?” They ask.
Seokjin pauses and blinks at the person staring back at him. A colleague, no, a friend from the linguistics department.
“We brought out the family car so we can all fit.”
The conversation from a few days ago flash in Seokjin’s mind.
They laugh. “You aren’t ready?”
“I’m still working.”
“But you are coming?”
“I have to go home and change. Take a shower.” Seokjin reasons.
They hum in acknowledgement and shrug. “Okay, Professor Kim. We’ll be waiting for you.”
There's no escape.
Clubs are a territory Seokjin has no opinion about. Drinking in pubs is one thing, but going to an expensive club with young and rich twenty-somethings is an entirely different thing. He shifts on the couch he’s sitting on, his hand coming up his neck to adjust the black leather choker he wore. It’s cheap and something he doesn’t remember buying. It lays on his skin perfectly, the grip not too tight or loose.
His co-workers are obviously enjoying themselves. They order drinks that are way over the budget of a university professor, and the semi-private area they’re at in the club must have cost money too.
“Seokjin, you look so good with the blonde, did I tell you that?” One of them exclaims, their face red because of the alcohol.
Seokjin smiles and nods. “Yes, you did.”
“You can easily pass off as those pretty models hanging out with celebrities in the exclusive areas of this club,” another shouts over the loud music.
That one leaves a sour taste in Seokjin's mouth. He picks up the pink fruity cocktail in front of him on the glass coffee table and busies himself with getting in as much alcohol as possible in his system.
Seokjin thinks his tastes have changed. The cocktail feels bland and does nothing for him. He thought he would enjoy being here, a place where money is the anthem and otherworldly things happen under the table, but he somehow wishes he’s home instead, or in the pub downing cheap beer and watered down shots.
A lot has changed in five months.
The heaviness on Seokjin’s ring finger has gone away when in the beginning, he thought it never would. The tan lines around it are gone too, the color of his hands now equal on each side.
Seokjin places the cocktail down and settles instead with the hard liquor poured on tiny shot glasses. He keeps to himself while the others drag each other on the dance floor.
Another one of his colleagues remain seated on the couch with him, her thumbs flying across the screen of her phone that lights up her face. She must have noticed he’s staring, and that they’re the only ones here. She looks up and smiles, morose. Bitter.
“You should go and loosen up, Professor Kim.”
“I could say the same for you.”
She laughs and shrugs. “Matrimony changed me.”
She nods, brown hair following her movement. She shows him the ring on her finger, a simple gold band that does what it’s supposed to do: tie you down and warn others that you’re taken.
“I really want to enjoy tonight, I do,” She huffs. “But my husband and I are not on good terms right now. It’s like if one suffers, we both have to suffer.”
Seokjin finds himself smiling at that. “Marriage is similar to passing a bill in court. There’s a dark underbelly that the public never sees. The only thing that matters in the end is if it goes through or not. Marriage is war, but the highest virtue is still humility. Just like the law.”
There’s a passing silence that is engulfed by the expression on the other’s face. She picks up one of the fruity cocktails, one of the untouched cups in front of her.
“You’re married, aren’t you?”
She nods in understanding, eyebrows raising in acknowledgment.
“Yes. Something like that.”
She clicks her tongue and drinks. “They never do last. One person is always bound to change. Or look back. Or regret things. Perhaps wonder what life would be like if they kept looking and never settled so early.”
She produces a pack of cigarettes from her purse, and lights it up. She offers him one, and Seokjin accepts.
“Which one are you?”
Seokjin takes his time. She lights up his cigarette stick for him. He almost blanches at how heavy the taste is.
“I think the last one.”
“I’m not sure yet.”
She taps the ash carelessly on the floor. “What about them?”
“What do you mean?”
“What was their reason?”
Seokjin laughs, simply because he doesn’t know what to say. “I don’t know.”
“You must have an idea. You’re divorced after all.”
The word divorced is a loaded gun that fires at Seokjin and grazes him. It would pierce his heart and lungs if it was held by someone else.
“Aren’t you the one with the problems? Let us stop talking about me.”
She gives in easily. They toast and make peace, back to small talk and mundanity. Seokjin believes she’s a good wife.
And then Seokjin’s world spins.
He’s always drinking more than he could handle. It’s either he leaves feeling nothing, or he feels everything. Seokjin’s bladder fills up and he stands up to look for the nearest bathroom. He brushes away the offered help, assuring his conversational partner he can handle himself.
Seokjin doesn’t stagger or trip. He walks straight, albeit slowly. The nightclub is dark, flashes of artificial color here and there lighting up Seokjin’s way.
Night blindness was never a problem for Seokjin. He grew up with all the lights shining his path when night fell. He lived in an enormous mansion situated in the middle of nowhere, and when storms caused chaos and disrupted power lines, there was always a hand guiding him in the dark.
The club is designed similar to a flipped eight: infinite. The private rooms that cost an arm and a leg are all upstairs, accessible only by a private elevator. Seokjin is directed to the bathroom by one of the many security guards in the club.
Seokjin noticed that even the bathroom is fancy. He moves quickly, eyes blinking rapidly and slowly adapting to the sudden brightness. He washes his hands and stares at himself in the mirror. The blonde does make him look younger.
As soon as Seokjin pushes the door, he feels as if the breath in his lungs has been sucked out and gravity was pulled under him.
Is this thing on?
Seokjin steps back into the club, the door closing quietly behind him. His own voice, despite it being distorted, reverbed, slowed, speaks to him through the sound-surround speakers.
The dark club and the lights popping every now and then has Seokjin thinking if this is what it’s like, to hear music and see color, to hear him speak and see something you cannot see from anyone else.
Seokjin rests his back on the wall, palms flat against it. He sighs. Amore ends and a new song plays. It feels as if the magic spell has broken. The new song playing is for dancing. The artificial lights are almost gone, their bursts sporadic and following no pattern. Seokjin hangs his head down low. He should’ve asked for help. He doesn’t know how long this will take.
He blinks at nothing, brown eyes that sparkle under the sun now dull and useless. He still remembers the first time he realized he couldn’t see in the dark. He remembers being shot down and laying on his back.
“Do you need help?”
The sudden question surprises Seokjin. It doesn’t sink in to him at first, thinking it’s something his imagination conjured during this stressful moment. Seokjin turns his head to the side where the sound came from. He’s met by nothing.
Seokjin feels the brush of a jacket against his arm. He moves away instinctively, and the voice speaks up again.
“I only want to help you,” They continue, voice low. “That’s my arm. You can hold onto it and I’ll walk you back to wherever you want.”
Seokjin’s heartbeat quickens. He pushes himself off the wall and stands straighter. The stranger doesn’t leave him alone, nor does their arm fall to their side. Seokjin closes his eyes, this time the darkness of his own accord, and when he opens them again, he knows the stranger is still there.
“Can I trust you?” Seokjin asks, testing the waters.
The stranger chuckles. “Do you really have a choice?”
Seokjin takes the offered arm and links it with his own, his hand settling on the stranger’s bicep.
“Where to?” They ask.
Seokjin knows he cannot go back to his group after this. He contemplates for a few seconds.
“I think I want to go home.”
“Your friends won’t mind you disappearing on them?”
“I’ll send them a message.”
Seokjin is led through the crowd steadily. At one point he stumbles and almost falls. The stranger catches him, and they end up walking with the stranger’s arm around Seokjin, his fingers digging into Seokjin’s shoulder. He hears how they grit their teeth with their next words.
“What do you do now when this happens?”
“I rarely find myself in this kind of situation alone.”
“But you were. Standing alone at the side. In a crowded club. I don’t care if it doesn’t happen often anymore, because you just were, and a lot of things could’ve happened.”
Seokjin sighs. He doesn’t need the light to see this for what it is. He can be forgetful and perhaps not recognize who this voice belongs to, but fear instills something different in people. It doesn’t make you forget, and most importantly, it makes sure you remember.
And so Seokjin allows himself to be weaved out of the crowd and the club, because he knows these hands, and they have done this dance numerous times.
The hold on him tightens and he does the same.
A flower called bittersweet blooms in Seokjin’s chest, planting itself in his lungs and puncturing through it, growing steadfast among the bronchioles but not disrupting his breathing. Just enough for him to feel wetness at the corners of his eyes.
The tears don’t fall.
Instead of exiting from where he entered, they go through the back.
It’s the parking lot, and it’s not exactly empty.
Seokjin yelps in surprise at how quickly everything happens.
One moment he was still standing straight, eyes hazy and continuously adjusting, and then the next thing he knew the same jacket he’s been clinging to is now draped over his head. He’s pulled backward, against the other person’s chest, their arm now completely around him, hand on his head holding the jacket in place.
“Keep your head down,” they hurriedly say to him.
Seokjin hears it then, the shouts, the screams, and camera shutters going off.
He nods in understanding, allowing the other to guide his path and away from the commotion.
It’s instinctive though, Seokjin’s eyes following the noise. He peeks up for a second, and he wishes he hadn’t.
The number of people, paparazzi, in the parking lot makes him nauseous.
“JJK look here!”
“Jungkook!” They scream. “Jungkook, who are you with!”
“What’s your name, sweetheart! Why are you with Jungkook!”
Their statements are posed as questions but it’s obvious they are only saying it to rile Jungkook up.
There’s a difference between knowing who it was through one sense alone versus being assaulted by it everywhere, their name being shouted over and over again.
Seokjin could only keep his head down, the world still vague and dark, the flash of the cameras acting like lighthouses. Except, rather than being overcome with relief, a weird feeling curls in Seokjin’s stomach, a reflex that wants to rise up.
Jungkook must know.
He always does.
His hand on Seokjin’s head pushes Seokjin deeper into his chest. The jacket creates a barrier between their skin, and perhaps if it wasn’t there, Jungkook’s fingers would be digging into Seokjin’s scalp as distraction and comfort.
Seokjin feels someone who isn’t Jungkook touch him. His mouth curls in disgust at the feeling. It’s only when he leans his full weight and submits all control of walking with his own two feet to Jungkook, does Seokjin realize he has his own upper limbs bent on Jungkook’s chest, his hands balled into fists and resting on Jungkook’s sternum.
He hears someone shout for the crowds to move and disperse. Bouncers, probably.
It’s starting to become suffocating. The crowd seems to never end, a hydra that grows eight more heads when one is cut off. Seokjin is starting to panic, his breath becoming labored. The alcohol he drank earlier decided that this is the time to be absorbed by his cells, their effect making its way all throughout his nervous system.
“Jungkook, don’t be selfish! Introduce us to your friend!”
“Are you a model? Actor? Singer? Just one smile for the camera, love!”
The walk to wherever Jungkook is taking him to seems to never end.
Someone touches him again. This time around, he flinches. The situation is too overwhelming and sudden for Seokjin to react.
The sharks with cameras are starting to become brave. The adrenaline rush and excitement to see a celebrity and someone new on their arm precedes basic morality for these people.
Unlike the fleeting touches from earlier wherein the paparazzi try to get his attention, someone grabs Seokjin. They pull his elbow, and it’s strong enough for him to move away from Jungkook’s grip on him.
If Seokjin could see how it transpired, maybe he would have gasped along with the crowd, then see their bloodthirsty smiles at the scene, the same thought running through their heads: this will sell and make headlines.
Jungkook pivots his body to the side, pulling Seokjin back to him with one arm while the other catches the offending hand that grabbed Seokjin. Jungkook grips the person’s wrist, squeezing on flesh and bone.
“If you touch him again,” Jungkook growls out. “I’ll break your fingers.”
Jungkook lets them go. They fall down the concrete, whether it be out of dramatics or Jungkook making sure they end up there.
They resume walking, pace faster this time around. Their purgatory-like situation finally ends. Seokjin is pushed inside a car. Jungkook adjusts the jacket around his head, making sure it covers Seokjin thoroughly away from the invasive lens of the camera. He tells Seokjin, “Don’t let them see you.”
The door on Seokjin’s side shuts. The side of Seokjin’s head hits the leather seats of the car. He grips the edges of the jacket, keeps his face down and covered. He shuts his eyes and prays to a higher being that this finally ends. He focuses on taking deep breaths, mentally counting from one to ten, then ten to one. He feels hot and cold at the same time. There’s sweat on his brow and the blasting air conditioner in the car doesn’t help.
Warm palms wrap around Seokjin’s balled fists, coaxing him to let the jacket go. He doesn’t, but it does allow the wandering appendage to sneak inside the tent he made from the jacket to cup his cheeks. He feels the familiar swiping motion of thumbs against his cheekbone. He realizes his cheeks are wet. He’s not sure if it’s sweat or if he cried. It could be both.
Something heavy leans on Seokjin’s forehead.
The warmth is now directly hitting him, a calming and familiar soft breathing that fans over his face.
The familiarity of this position blows away the walls he built for whenever he is feeling weak.
Seokjin is the last person to admit to weakness, but if someone manages to climb walls you didn’t even know you had, then you have no choice but to make room for them. They leave a mark on you that cannot be removed. Their touch, their words, everything, engraved into you.
Opening his eyes, Seokjin is met with Jungkook’s own brown orbs, heavy-lidded and staring right into him.
Seokjin realizes that the car they’re in is moving. He glances to the side and sees the driver behind the steering wheel and the street lights outside the window.
“Good?” Jungkook asks in a whisper.
Seokjin nods, allowing himself to be comforted by the only person who knows this side of him; the only person in the world who knows what to do when he becomes like this.
It starts out soft and gentle. A sweet caress. The music box lullaby before the carnage.
Jungkook tells the driver to pull the divider up and they quickly comply. His full attention returns to Seokjin.
“Heart feeling fine?”
“Mind not jumbled?”
The crescendo comes in full throttle.
Seokjin knows this.
Jungkook knows this too.
He will always reach out. He will always know what to do. He will always be lenient, then commanding.
And they will always fall for each other a bit deeper, because they have done this before, and they will do it again.
Jungkook’s thumbs resting on the skin underneath Seokjin’s eyes move to the side, his palms cupping Seokjin’s face like he’s filling them with water from an oasis.
“Where are you right now?”
The first question is always the hardest.
Seokjin feels the silk-like grip become harder. He doesn’t mind. Never did. This is what he needs.
“I asked you a question.” Jungkook’s voice is smooth and still kind. “Open your mouth and use your words.”
Seokjin swallows. The corners of his lips are shaking.
“Don’t make me ask again.”
“I’m in a moving vehicle.”
Jungkook doesn’t reward him. Not yet.
“What happened to you?”
“I—“ Even the thought of voicing it has Seokjin wanting to throw up. He needs to spit it out. He knows he can because Jungkook doesn’t mind these ugly parts of him. “I had a panic attack.”
“How did you fix it?”
“Did it work?”
Jungkook smiles and nods in acknowledgement.
“Who am I?”
Seokjin… he used to love this part. It means it’s almost over, because this part is the easiest. He doesn’t know if he does anymore, not when it brings up memories that should’ve been buried.
He’s so beautiful, Seokjin thinks.
Jungkook is a being sent by either god or the devil to be his other half. There is no separation or dissolution in heaven or in hell, not when you are bound to each other by the red string of fate, beings made from the same clay.
Jungkook’s head tilts to the side. “And who are you?”
Matrimony is a covenant made up of wild laws, secret histories, and savage acts. The blood from a married couple’s teeth and those drying under their nails can be washed away, but the fact that it has spilled does not.
An outsider can never try to make sense of the fights, the feelings, and the magnitude of it all, because people are created from the image of god, and if there is one god, then no two people can perceive things the exact same way.
Jungkook laid his eyes on Seokjin once and decided he’s the one.
The aforementioned analogy about perception and divine providence does not apply, not when you’re one soul in different bodies.
The car continues moving against the concrete, passing numerous street lamps and buildings. The scenery has yet to change into the one Seokjin is familiar and attributes home with.
As soon as the spell breaks, Jungkook moves away from him, leaving Seokjin in the middle of the seat and blinking in confusion. Seokjin tentatively copies Jungkook, pushing himself to the side and leaning on the car door.
Seokjin thinks he should make conversation. He’s not exactly sure what to say. He realizes what he should say, but before he could get the words out, Jungkook beats him to it.
“Who were you with tonight?”
Whipping his head to the side, Seokjin is met with Jungkook who is looking straight at him.
This is the first time he’s seeing Jungkook in five months. In person. His eyes snap to the side of Jungkook’s face. There are two, silver, metallic dots on his eyebrow. His hair is back to black, short and clean, reminding Seokjin of when he was younger.
“You got your eyebrow pierced.”
Jungkook raises the aforementioned brow. He doesn’t speak. Seokjin realizes it’s because he completely ignored what Jungkook asked him.
“Friends from work.”
“I’m assuming it’s a special occasion?”
“Not really. They simply wanted to go out of town.”
“You do this often, then? Go out with your coworkers and drink?”
Seokjin nods. “It has been going on for a while, yes.”
Silence rules over them for a few seconds before Seokjin realizes the situation he’s in and he’s asking, “Where are we going?”
Jungkook glances at him. “I was hoping you could tell me.” He clicks a button on the side and the divider rolls down. He gestures for Seokjin to tell the driver his address who voices out his affirmation. Judging by the roads they are taking, it seems they are already making their way back to the resort town.
“I know you’re renting a townhouse there,” Jungkook explains. “But I don’t know where exactly.”
Seokjin plays with his fingers. The atmosphere is awkward and tense. He’s not used to not knowing what to say or feel. The last time they saw each other was when Seokjin moved out of the house. He knows Jungkook did the same. The house is now empty, a marvel in the middle of nowhere.
“What about you? Who were you with?” Seokjin asks.
Seokjin can imagine that if they did not meet tonight, Jungkook would be gracing the headlines tomorrow with someone else.
Not that he reads them to be up-to-date. Jungkook is just… everywhere. It’s harder avoiding him these days in comparison to before when looking for him was the name of the game.
“Why did you approach me in the club?”
There’s a million other things Seokjin could’ve asked or can ask, but he settles with the one that rolls off his tongue the easiest.
“What was I supposed to do? Leave you alone?” Jungkook shoots back. His tone remains indifferent. He settled comfortably in his seat, a sound of contentment exiting his lips. He props his elbow up on the car door, his chin resting on his open palm. He turns to Seokjin and raises one brow at him, his piercing following his movement. It’s intimidating, hypnotic, and Seokjin wants to berate himself for following the jewelry with his eyes.
An uncharacteristic pettiness rises in Seokjin. It’s probably the alcohol still running in his system speaking when he talks back to Jungkook, saying, “Yes, that’s what I want you to do.”
Seokjin’s not sure if he heard correctly, but what he hears is Jungkook mumbling under his breath, “You’re so fucking ungrateful.”
Seokjin blinks repeatedly in surprise as his brain slowly comprehends it. He lets out a sound that’s between a scoff and a laugh.
“What did you just say to me?”
Jungkook’s head tilts to the side. He smirks at Seokjin in challenge. He tongues the side of his cheek, mulling over his response and watching Seokjin who he tries not to squirm under the scrutiny.
“I know you heard me.” Jungkook breezily admits. “But I’ll repeat it for you: you’re ungrateful.”
“Is this because of the prenup?” Seokjin can hear how his voice raise in volume, a rare occurrence because he always keeps his cool. “Is this about money?”
“Why is that the first thing you think of?” Jungkook mockingly asks. He raises both his brows in question, increasing the anger and something else brewing in Seokjin’s chest at this game Jungkook is playing at. “If that’s what you think I mean, then you really should reflect on it.”
Seokjin knows Jungkook is pushing his buttons on purpose. He wants to see Seokjin explode, and in a way, punish him for his transgressions.
The past months flash in Seokjin’s mind.
The divorce, numerous papers, one-sided battles regarding legal procedures, packing his bags and leaving the house, Jungkook doing the same, and so much more.
It exhausted Seokjin to his very being. He sat down in front of a table and faced Jungkook who was at the other end. Their lawyers shout and fight with each other but it was no use.
Seokjin was to gain nothing and Jungkook will get everything back. What’s worse is that Seokjin couldn’t even change his name, and hasn't changed it yet. The process of changing his surname back to Kim is a long and arduous one that they both know is because of someone meddling into the affair of it all. Seokjin cannot gain a cent back from his own family, and there’s nothing left for him.
Of course, his grandparents and his parents wouldn’t let him starve out on the streets. Yet there is something about it that makes him ache. He has nothing on his name when the name he legally has carries everything.
So if Jungkook wants to be petty, then Seokjin will throw it back to him without remorse. He has nothing to lose because there is an endless abyss in Seokjin that isn’t closing anytime soon.
“Because that’s what I wanted from you.”
Seokjin doesn’t mean it. It hurts the moment he says it. He doesn’t know if it hurts more that Jungkook is unfazed, like he has come to that conclusion already before Seokjin himself had the chance to say it.
It’s a low blow, but Seokjin adds, “Why do you think I left you?”
Jungkook only grins, teeth flashing and an amused snort coming out of him.
“What was it you said… If needed, I’ll tear it to pieces and swallow it.” Jungkook laughs and shakes his head. “Your desperation resembles city skylines, you know? Stars trying to twinkle and make themselves known amidst all that light pollution. Smoke and charcoal; that’s your color when you’re desperate.”
Sobriety returns to Seokjin in full-force. The whiplash of Jungkook helping and comforting him to now acting this way is enough to slap Seokjin back to reality.
Crossing his arms over his chest, Seokjin lets the stiffness of sitting up straight melt into leaning against the leather seats.
“Why are you punishing me? We’re living different lives now. Soon enough, even my last name will be separated from yours.”
Jungkook clicks his tongue. He tuts at Seokjin while shaking his head.
“You think I’m punishing you? If I was, then you’d know.” Jungkook drawls. “You’d feel it too.” Jungkook smiles and it reaches his eyes. “Do you still remember what it was like when I did?”
Seokjin burns at the sudden shift in conversation. He tries to look anywhere but Jungkook. It caught him completely off-guard. He doesn’t know what else to say or do, so Seokjin pretends to not hear what was just said, and stares out the window. Surprisingly enough, they’re almost at his residence.
Feeling a little braver thanks to the familiar roads, Seokjin glances at Jungkook who was staring straight then immediately looks back.
“You’re acting like a bratty teenager who skipped etiquette class.”
Jungkook shakes his head again. “Now, don’t turn this dynamic around on me. You hurt me badly, Jin. This is how it is now.”
Seokjin’s traitorous heart skips a beat at the mention of his name. For the first time in five months, he finally hears his name exit Jungkook’s mouth. It lights up his nerves and makes his skin prick, the brush of fabric against it enough to make him shudder in sensitivity.
Licking his lips, Seokjin tentatively decides on handing out the olive branch. He’s almost home after all. He doesn’t want to go to sleep angry.
“Did I?” Seokjin asks.
“Did you what?”
“Hurt you badly.”
“You know you did.”
Seokjin nods. He doesn’t apologize even though that’s what he wants to do. The moment isn’t right. Seokjin wants to say it but he’s not ready, and he knows that Jungkook wants to hear it, but he doesn’t want to listen.
The car stops. Seokjin sees his townhouse outside. The streetlamps are on, casting an amber glow on the narrow walkway leading to the one-door entrance. Jumgkook’s comment about him being ungrateful rings in his head.
“Thank you for helping me in the club and for the ride home.”
He’s preparing to leave when Jungkook quips, “This is where you’re staying?”
Seokjin second guesses if he should deign Jungkook a reply or not. “Yes.”
Jungkook bends forward and peeks outside through the car windows.
“I'm going now.”
The car doors are unlocked, and Seokjin pushes it open. He’s halfway outside when Jungkook asks, “Can I use your bathroom?”
The incredulousness of it all makes Seokjin scoff. The switch between protectiveness, caring, and then outright taunting him to now being polite is giving Seokjin a headache.
Jungkook tells his driver to wait for him before he jumps out his side of the car and joins Seokjin on the empty and mist-filled street. He rounds around the front of the car, hands inside his pockets.
Seokjin easily produces his keys from his pants’ pocket. He feels Jungkook hover behind him, watching over Seokjin’s shoulder as he pushes in the heavy, antique, key into the door and pushes it open.
The moment Seokjin steps foot into the apartment, he remembers something that he cannot believe he forgot about. He says, “Lock the door behind you!” before rushing inside and disappearing into the kitchen.
“What’s wrong?” Jungkook calls back to him, his tone remaining unbothered.
“I forgot to feed the baby!”
If Seokjin could see Jungkook, he would’ve seen how he freezes midway from closing the door. He could’ve seen how Jungkook’s eyes widen, then blazes wifh fury, and how he stomps his way to where Seokjin disappeared into.
“What the fuck do you mean by baby?” Jungkook snarls without thought.
And perhaps Seokjin meant for it to be interpreted that way as revenge. He blinks innocently at Jungkook.
They’re both standing in the middle of the kitchen.
In all honesty, they aren’t used to such small spaces. Running after each other in large and labyrinthine hallways while demanding answers are more their speed.
Seokjin ignores Jungkook and rummages around the kitchen.
“We’ve only been divorced for five months.” Jungkook states calmly. He regained his cool so quickly, Seokjin notes, a weird sense of pride bubbling in him.
But some things never change, Seokjin thinks, mentally sighing.
Like his endearment towards Jungkook for example.
“I’m talking about my neighbor’s dog.”
Numerous emotions play on Jungkook’s face.
“Yes, Jungkookie. A dog My neighbor is out of town and they asked me to dog-sit.”
Seokjin savors the effect it has on Jungkook. He wonders what Jungkook is seeing right now as they speak, what colors blossom in his vision as Seokjin finally mellows down and calls him by his name.
As if on cue, Seokjin hears Andromeda running down the stairs and into the kitchen. She stops when she sees Jungkook.
“She’s pretty useless,” Seokjin comments, watching Jungkook extend his hand towards the dog. “She’s friendly with everyone. A thief could climb up my window and Andromeda wouldn’t let out a single sound.”
“Andromeda, huh?” Jungkook chuckles. “What’s her breed?”
Seokjin leans over the kitchen counter. The doggy bowl on the floor filled and forgotten. He watches Jungkook kneel on the floor to pet Andromeda who seems to be enjoying the attention of a new human.
“She’s a golden retriever.”
Jungkook lets out a loud laugh when Andromeda paws on him, her legs resting on his thighs. It makes Seokjin’s heart ache. It’s a scene straight out of a Hallmark movie. Snow will probably fall any second now, and the theme song would be an old Christmas jingle sung by a pop artist specially for the movie.
“I thought you were going to use the bathroom,” Seokjin reminds his visitor.
The spell breaks for Jungkook too. He seems to realize where he is, who he’s with, and what he’s doing. He clears his throat and stands up from the floor. Seokjin gestures for Andromeda who happily comes up to him, her attention now stolen by the bowl on the floor filled with dog food.
“Right. Where is it?”
“There’s no guest bathroom. You can use mine. It’s upstairs. You wouldn’t miss it.”
Jungkook nods, turns around, and walks out of the kitchen.
Seokjin lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding in. Looking down, he sees Andromeda looking at him with her big brown eyes. Seokjin feels ridiculous for talking to a dog, but he already let Jungkook inside his home, so what’s one more?
“Cute, isn’t he?” Seokjin snickers at the low bark Andromeda lets out. “You didn’t interrupt when I brought someone else before. I see how it is.”
Leaving the kitchen, Seokjin climbs up the narrow stairs. It’s made of wood, old and rickety, yet remains sturdy. The second floor of the townhouse resembles a studio apartment. It’s a space Seokjin isn’t used to occupying, but it’s more than enough to contain him, and he supposes that’s what matters.
As soon as he arrives at the top of the stairs, Jungkook exits the bathroom, paper towels clutched in his hand to dry them.
Before Seokjin could even contemplate on what to say, Jungkook beats him to it.
“You have my comb.”
Despite it being Seokjin’s house, the sudden statement makes him feel awkward standing there in the middle of the room.
Jungkook disappears again into the bathroom to throw the paper towels away. He closes the door behind him.
“My comb. If you look at the underside closely, you’ll see my initials embossed on it. It’s lame now but I got it when I was a kid, so.”
“If it’s yours, then why is it here?”
“What about you then? Why are you here?”
There’s silence. Jungkook’s eyes twinkle in anticipation underneath the cheap lighting. He’s already moving his arms, opening them in wait, and Seokjin hates him for it.
Hates that Jungkook knows him so well. Hates that Jungkook knows what to say and what to do to break Seokjin down into pieces until he only has one thing left in him: wanting.
It’s muscle memory, Seokjin thinks, trying to comfort himself, that when Jungkook does this he has no choice but to follow the movement.
Five steps is all it takes for Seokjin to close the gap between them. Five steps to wrap his arms around Jungkook’s neck, fingers fisting his hair so he can angle their mouths together before smashing his own against Jungkook’s who laughs and mumbles, “Ungrateful and selfish, too.”
Five steps for five months is all it takes.
Seokjin mentally laughs, high off the adrenaline rush.
And Jungkook thinks he doesn’t feel a thing.
Jungkook steadies him, hands moving from Seokjin’s waist to his face. He holds Seokjin with both hands while kissing him. He chuckles in between the open-mouthed kisses, at Seokjin’s labored breathing and whines, and he knows he’s keening too, because kissing Seokjin incites sounds and produces color Jungkook hasn’t seen in five months.
“We’re still divorced,” Seokjin reminds him. He doesn’t finish his sentence, muffled by Jungkook’s tongue entering his mouth. Jungkook pulls back just as quickly, laughing when Seokjin chases after him.
Jungkook leans forward and grazes his lips against Seokjin’s. He smiles when he feels Seokjin tremble, holding himself back to do more but not wanting to appear desperate in front of Jungkook.
Seokjin didn’t know people could change this much after only five months. He didn’t know Jungkook looks so different up close after five steps. He’s not used to the short hair, how it emphasizes his jaw and the mole under his bottom lip. He wants to know if Jungkook got any new tattoos as well underneath his jacket and shirt.
“And I still hate you,” Seokjin adds, proud of the fact that he does not sound breathless even though Jungkook has knocked the air out of his lungs ever since he came up to Seokjin in the club.
Jungkook kisses him again. Rough and unforgiving. He maneuvers the both of them around, until he falls on his back on the bed with Seokjin on top of him. Jungkook’s arms are now around Seokjin’s waist, keeping him in place while Seokjin’s hands are on either side of Jungkook’s head.
“I hate you too,” Jungkook says in between kissing Seokjin.
It sounds fake. Too sensual and endeared to be true. This is probably what it sounded like to Jungkook when he said it.
Seokjin stops Jungkook by grabbing his chin and holding him in place.
“I hate you,” Seokjin repeats. “For punishing me over my decisions.”
Jungkook finds that amusing. He lets Seokjin know by cocking his eyebrow up. He rests his hands under Seokjin’s shirt, against his skin.
“You want me for one thing and I’m here to give it to you. How is that a punishment?”
Saying what they are doing, or about to do, outloud brings Seokjin back down to earth. He hates him but he brought Jungkook here. He hates Jungkook but he’s here on Seokjin’s bed and underneath him.
Jungkook must have sensed his hesitation and embarrassment. The filter lifts a little and he is quick to put a stop to it. He leans up, arms now on the bed, elbows supporting his upper body weight. He brings his lips to Seokjin’s ear to give him the offer he’s sure Seokjin cannot refuse.
“I’ll do it how you like it,” Jungkook mumbles. One of his hands reached up to hold the back of Seokjin’s head. “Suck you off until you’re shaking then fuck you nice and deep.”
Seokjin’s response is breathlessness. It’s the last thing Jungkook needs to hear. There’s an invisible music page that only Jungkook is able to see. Whenever a certain sound comes out of Seokjin, it glows and jumps, and Jungkook wishes he can bottle or synthesize these feelings and hallucinations in a laboratory, because only Seokjin can get him this high.
Back then, when they were still married, kissing and fucking was never boring. They could be cooped up in the same house and simply be in different rooms, Jungkook in the west wing and Seokjin in the east, but it was always exciting.
Now that they aren’t together anymore, zero obligations toward each other but with a history that wouldn’t let them breathe without being reminded of the other, it’s… different.
Seokjin removes his clothes and tugs at Jungkook’s own, grumbling at him to hurry up. Jungkook laughs at the impatience. Seokjin takes it upon himself to pull Jungkook’s jacket down and throw it on his bedroom floor because Jungkook is too busy kissing him. He pulls back to remove his shirt, and Seokjin watches, mouth dry, when he sees the tattoo sleeve so distinct and unique to Jungkook.
Jungkook pulls Seokjin down with him and uses the moment to flip them over. He helps Seokjin with his tight jeans, tattooed hand wrapping around Seokjin’s ankle and tugging him forward. Seokjin’s hands go on each side of his head, hands grasping on the bed sheets.
“I saw it, you know?” Jungkook says conversationally. Seokjin moves forward, hand on the waistband of Jungkook’s black sweatpants. Jungkook swats his hands away, chuckling at the glare Seokjin gives him.
“White sweater with daisies…” Jungkook’s words has Seokjin blinking in confusion, then in realization. Jungkook laughs and kisses Seokjin’s ankle, soft and sudden. “What was it like, baby?”
Seokjin bristles at the nickname. “Shut up,” He snarls at Jungkook. “You talk too much.”
“Yeah? Are you mad because I’m talking back to you now?”
Jungkook moans as his head is pulled back, Seokjin sitting up on the bed and his hand fisting Jungkook’s hair.
“Do I need to shut you up myself?” Seokjin demands. The grip he has on Jungkook’s hair is tight to the point of pain. Seokjin takes this as his chance to kiss Jungkook again, using it as a distraction to remove Jungkook’s pants who only scoff at the ministrations like he knew it was what Seokjin wanted to do.
Everything Jungkook does is orchestrated musicality. He doesn’t miss a beat and pushes Seokjin down again. This time, he lays down the bed on his stomach and in between Seokjin’s legs. He holds Seokjin’s thighs, a squeeze earning him another impatient whine.
“I haven’t done anything and you’re already shaking.” Jungkook intently keeps his eyes on Seokjin who looks like he wants to look away but doesn’t simply because he doesn’t want Jungkook to gain the upper hand. The glare he’s giving Jungkook is overshadowed by the redness of his cheeks and lips.
Keeping his eyes on Seokjin, Jungkook wraps his mouth on the head of Seokjin’s cock, the fabric of underwear pushing against his tongue and becoming wet. Seokjin throws his head back and lets out a sound accompanied by violet hues in Jungkook’s vision.
Jungkook missed this so much. He missed these pretty and blinding purples that only come out when he’s making Seokjin feel this good.
He doesn’t bother removing the underwear Seokjin’s wearing. He continues mouthing at him, tracing his lips down the length and back. He grazes his finger on Seokjin’s balls, the new sensation earning Jungkook another fist to his hair. He enjoys the feeling of it for a moment before opening his eyes again.
“Are you going to cum for me from just this? You’re so easy.” Jungkook teases. The effect of his words on Seokjin has always been different when they’re like this. His hips jerk forward, begging to be touched without barriers and continuously.
Jungkook sighs. He props one elbow up and leans his cheek on it. With his other hand, he runs his palm all over Seokjin’s still clothed cock. Jungkook presses down on the patch of wetness from his spit and Seokjin’s arousal with his thumb. He grins at the curse Seokjin let’s out.
Seokjin’s not going to beg.
Jungkook knows exactly what to do to break him so good . He finally relents and tugs Seokjin’s underwear down. He doesn’t break eye contact. He swipes the tip of his tongue over his front teeth to gather saliva in his mouth. He spits on his palm and wraps his tattooed hand around Seokjin’s cock, jerking him with the confidence that can only come from knowing Seokjin’s body better than the back of his hand.
Seokjin likes it when he palms him from the base to the tip, eliciting breathy whimpers and whines at the flick of a wrist. The stimulation is starting to get too much. Seokjin’s bottom lip has been bitten raw. He tries his best to keep his sounds to himself, wanting it to be his last rebellion, still denying Jungkook of what he has been deprived of for months.
“Look at me.”
Seokjin catches himself a second too late. He’s already doing it without even thinking twice. The drag of Jungkook’s hand slows down, reduced to lazy strokes. Seokjin’s almost afraid he would stop, but he’s also a bit glad for the change in pace. He’s so close he can almost taste it, feels it at the pit of his belly.
Jungkook glows at Seokjin’s obedience.
This is a dynamic exclusive for the four walls of a bedroom. Or whatever surface or space they found themselves in back then. Seokjin can push him around and say whatever he wants, do whatever he likes, but under Jungkook’s hands, he needs to give in and listen. It’s a mutual exchange of control, and it was one of the best things in their relationship. It’s a testament to how good it serves the both of them that it remains even when the divorce papers have been laid out and signed.
Seokjin can only resist for so long. The ball of fire licking on his nerves is forcing them into summation. He’s close. He’s fisting bed sheets, his thighs shaking just like how Jungkook said he would be doing, tears forming at the corners of his eyes from holding himself back. Jungkook’s pupils are blown wide, entranced at Seokjin’s control. He can’t wait for him to burst and cover the room with color.
Jungkook’s thumb runs over the slit of Seokjin’s cock. It causes Seokjin to let go of his bottom lip, the sound that comes out of him unrestrained and heavenly.
Jungkook keeps going. He’s still sprawled on the bed. The casualty of it and how easily he can make Seokjin spill lights something in him too. He wants to touch himself alongside Seokjin, but that can wait.
“Cum.” The nonchalant tone in Jungkook’s voice, like this is some afterthought while Seokjin’s about to reach the kind of high he’s been craving for, is the final push. He spills on Jungkook’s hand and himself. Jungkook’s awestruck at the way Seokjin’s eyes stay on him because he hasn’t told him to look away, his plush lips parted, and a drawn out moan ringing in his ears and the room.
Pink and purple rain in his vision.
Seokjin always has the prettiest colors.
While Seokjin remains blissed out, Jungkook takes this as the chance to rummage over the small drawer beside Seokjin’s bed. He finds the familiar bottle of lube they used to keep at home, and Jungkook almost wants to laugh at how familiar this is. He glances down and sees Seokjin with his eyes closed, blonde hair sticking to his sweaty forehead. Jungkook cages him between his arms, leaning down on Seokjin who moans as their skin touches.
Jungkook kisses his jaw, uncaring of the sweat. He sucks a mark on Seokjin’s neck. Still uncaring. He keeps plucking red blooms on Seokjin’s skin until Seokjin’s coherent enough to mumble, “Stop leaving it where people can see.”
Ignoring him, Jungkook instead guides Seokjin’s hand down, until blunt nails are grazing his stomach. Seokjin wraps his long fingers around Jungkook who groans at finally getting some friction on his hardness. He lets go of Seokjin’s wrist in favor of fumbling around with the bottle of lube. He squirts the coldness of it on his fingers and waits until they’re warm. He kisses Seokjin as a distraction, moaning into his mouth while Seokjin lazily jerks him off.
At the brush of his forefinger against Seokjin’s entrance, Seokjin freezes. Jungkook moves back to look into Seokjin’s eyes. He kisses his cheek.
“I can stop if you want me to.”
How was Seokjin supposed to say no when he already felt a tease of it? Instead of answering, he lets go of Jungkook’s cock in favor of wrapping it around his wrist. He hears Jungkook mumble, “Fuck,” as he pushes himself down Jungkook’s finger. He moans at the stretch and digs his fingers on Jungkook’s pulse.
“You lied to me,” Seokjin complains while fucking himself on Jungkook’s finger. “You said you’d suck me off but you didn’t. Are you not going to fuck me too?”
The fucked out look on Seokjin’s face, his flushed skin, and sinful mouth does things to Jungkook.The momentary care and sweetness he was feeling is thrown out of the window. His mind becomes clouded with one single goal, eliminating anything else.
He pumps his finger that’s inside Seokjin alongside every sink and grind. His middle finger makes itself known at every glide of his forefinger. Seokjin groans louder and brings himself down deeper.
“Take your time,” Jungkook tells him.
Seokjin grumbles at him, impatient. “Fuck off.”
Jungkook laughs and doesn’t hesitate anymore. He pushes two fingers in and it effectively shuts Seokjin up. Seokjin’s walls are tight around Jungkook’s finger. He helps Seokjin chase his pleasure and pushes deeper. He feels the resistance loosen up for him, allowing him to find the bundle of nerves located inside Seokjin easily. He crooks his fingers and presses down, and Seokjin’s pleasure emits out of him in waves and in the form of a long, drawn-out moan. Seokjin’s head drops down the pillow. His hold on Jungkook’s wrist loosens, and the rhythm of his hips stutter beautifully. Jungkook turns his fingers around inside Seokjin so his thumb is facing inward, allowing him to rub on Seokjin’s perineum while stretching him.
At the addition of a third finger, that’s when Seokjin’s breath starts getting caught in his throat. Jungkook holds Seokjin’s hip down while he makes sure to rub at Seokjin’s prostate. His eyes flicker from Seokjin’s face down to where Seokjin’s body is swallowing his fingers up. He’s starting to get impatient. He needs to feel the delicious stretch and wetness around him.
“Condom?” Jungkook asks.
Seokjin blinks at him, eyes hazy and unfocused. He gestures somewhere over his head. “Second compartment.”
Jungkook reaches for the drawer again and immediately sees the scattered packets of foil. His brows raise in question at the clutter. Seokjin is pristine and proper, and this extends toward his belongings. Someone rummaged through it and messed it all up, this Jungkook knows for sure. He rips the foil open with his teeth and puts the condom on. His eyebrows are drawn together, his mouth set in a frown.
“Hey,” Seokjin’s voice snaps Jungkook back to reality. He tilts his head to the side to study the expression on Jungkook’s face. He still looks lost, glowing from his orgasm and hungry for another. Jungkook must be acting so obviously for Seokjin to snap out of it. “You look like you want to fight with me instead of fucking me.”
Jungkook doesn’t want to ruin the moment. In all honesty, he thinks it’s fucked up that he’s here. He feels like a junkie down bad on withdrawals and Seokjin is the ecstasy he’s chasing. It’s a confusing situation because he knows they’re both still angry but sex makes them soft.
“Do you want to continue?” Seokjin asks.
“Of course I do,” Jungkook snaps.
“Then what are you waiting for?”
Jungkook doesn’t want to say it, he doesn’t even want to think about it. Realistically speaking, it’s not surprising that Seokjin is fucking other people, especially because he’s doing the same.
He grabs Seokjin’s arm and with a display of strength that has gone over Seokjin’s head, he flips Seokjin to his stomach, his cheek pressing on the pillow and hard cock rubbing against the mattress. He’s about to complain when he feels the head of Jungkook’s cock against his entrance. He tenses in surprise but quickly forces himself to relax. He feels Jungkook’s hand touching him, running from his shoulder down the end of his spine and on the curve of his ass. Jungkook squeezes and it has Seokjin’s hips digging on the bed for friction on his almost painfully hard cock.
Seokjin hears Jungkook ask, “You remember your safeword?”
“Say it to me.”
Jungkook pushes the tip of his cock inside Seokjin. Their breathing turns into sharp intakes of air. Seokjin grapples for the bed sheets while Jungkook makes a home for himself inside Seokjin’s body. He’s gripping Seokjin’s waist, watching his cock disappear inside Seokjin inch by inch. Seokjin’s moans are muffled by the pillow.
This was supposed to be quick and dirty; hate sex that they’ll both regret right after it’s over. It was supposed to relieve the tension between them that never truly goes away. Instead of taking and taking, Jungkook takes his time.
“Baby, does it hurt?” slips out from Jungkook without a second thought. “Let me know if I can move.”
Seokjin must be in his feelings too. Instead of snapping at Jungkook, he cranes his head back and extends his arm out.
Knowing what Seokjin wants from him through action alone, Jungkook leans down, careful not to push in. Seokjin’s arm wraps around Jungkook’s head, fingers running through Jungkook’s sweat-drenched strands. Jungkook’s moving his hips albeit languidly. His hips stutter and he pushes in more deeply in comparison to the pace he set. Seokjin’s gasp of surprise is soothed with soft pecks all over his face.
“You’re taking me so well,” Jungkook praises between his kisses. His distraction works, the tightness that clamps down on him relaxing to accommodate more of his size. He steadily pushes in, continually kissing Seokjin’s face until he catches the tip of Seokjin’s earlobe between his lips and tugs.
Jungkook makes good on his words. He rolls his hips into Seokjin slowly, groaning as he goes deeper until he bottoms out and the whole of his throbbing length is nestled inside Seokjin. He doesn’t move. Instead, he sits back up on his knees, strong legs folded on either side of Seokjin. Jungkook lifts him up, hands around Seokjin’s waist, forcing his spine and back to arch under his ministrations.
“Move,” Seokjin says. “Move or I’ll do it myself.”
Jungkook grins and shakes his head although Seokjin can’t see him. He’s so feisty even when Jungkook’s dick is inside him.
“Next time,” Jungkook promises. “You can use me all you want next time.” His thrusts are barely noticeable, slow and deep grinds that ensure he’s hitting Seokjin in places he didn’t know could be stimulated.
“There’s no next time,” Seokjin tells him. He sounds adamant and sure about it.
Jungkook doesn’t like that Seokjin’s still speaking coherently. He pulls out midway and pushes back in again. Seokjin gasps, and Jungkook couldn’t help but think, That’s more like it.
“Because we hate each other,” Seokjin’s reply is cut off by another thrust that shakes him completely.
Jungkook’s getting sick of that word.
He starts fucking Seokjin in the way he knows will reduce the other into incoherence. Seokjin’s voice becomes whiny and soft, unrecognizable from his usual indifference and snark. Jungkook has him right where he wants him.
Seokjin is moaning into and desperately clutching his pillow. The tips of his blonde hair curl on the nape of his neck. Jungkook wants to smother him into his chest and bite down wherever he can. The want to watch Seokjin’s entire body tremble for him every time he pulls Seokjin down his cock and pound into him deeper is stronger though.
Shifting his weight around, Jungkook presses Seokjin down on the bed. One of his hand’s now beside Seokjin’s head, the tattooed one on Seokjin’s shoulder. The new position allows him to fuck into Seokjin better, each drag of his cock against the wet and warm walls hits Seokjin’s prostate spot on.
“Jungkook—!” Seokjin cries out. He doesn’t muffle himself anymore, probably because he can’t.
“Yeah? What is it?” Jungkook rasps out, his movement precise and infallible. He can almost see it; that perfect moment where Seokjin cannot hold anything back and it tumbles from his mouth all at once.
“Kook— fuck, you’re so—,” Seokjin lets out a sound that seems to be a mix between frustration and overstimulation.
“I’m so what?”
Seokjin tells him what he wants to hear. Seokjin tells him that he's fucking him so good, and it makes him smug.
“Say you hate me now, Jin.” Jungkook’s hand moves from Seokjin’s shoulder to his neck. He doesn’t do anything, simply lays it there. He shifts his weight on one hand so he doesn’t end up pressing down on Seokjin’s neck. Unless that’s what he wants.
He fucks Seokjin like he owns him. Once upon a time he did; owned Seokjin the same way Seokjin owned him. It fills him with satisfaction that this part of their lives hasn’t changed especially since everything has spiraled out of control.
Jungkook stops. He’s breathing hard, and so is Seokjin. He lifts himself off Seokjin and sits on the heels of his feet.
“Kook, why’d you stop?” Seokjin asks him, turning his head around to look at Jungkook. Licking his lips, Jungkook’s eyes fall on Seokjin’s ass. He slaps one cheek without a second thought, causing Seokjin to instinctively move away. He doesn’t get far, not with Jungkook’s cock still inside him.
“I asked you to do something.” Jungkook simply says. He soothes the cheek with his palm. It amazes him how Seokjin’s skin turn red so easily.
“I didn’t hear you,” is Seokjin’s reply. He’s also catching his breath, and the way he stares at Jungkook tells him everything.
"Tell me you hate me."
Seokjin tenses from head to toe. He shakes his head side to side, refusing to spit out what he has been repeatedly saying. The way he tightens around Jungkook and his grasp on the sheets tell Jungkook he's close. He resumes fucking into Seokjin, relishes over the pulsations on his cock and the rise and fall of Seokjin's chest. He's familiar with this. He knows the staccato of Seokjin's voice, how the grip he has on Jungkook refuses to let go.
"Are you gonna cum for me?"
He doesn't need to ask. Jungkook knows he is. He focuses on pushing into Seokjin a certain way so that each thrust into his heat causes Seokjin's lower half to rub against the bedsheets. He knows he's fucking him through his second orgasm, and he grins in satisfaction that he made good on his word. It messes with his head how perfect Seokjin is for him, how much they fit each other. He remembers in a flash how he used to be overcome with pleasure and his hips loose rhythm and stutter because of how good everything feels.
Seokjin pleads for him, and who is he to deny him?
"Come on," Jungkook encourages. "Give me one more, Jin." He purrs.
The hand he has around Seokjin's neck squeezes in encouragement. If he does it harder, whether he does it on purpose to cut off Seokjin's breathing or not, it always leave a red spot on the sensitive skin.
Seokjin says his name again. He comes around Jungkook and loses all the balance he has on himself.
Twice in under thirty minutes.
Jungkook cannot help but let pride bloom in his chest and manifest as a smirk on his lips. He focuses on chasing his own end.
Seokjin voices out his sensitivity and overstimulation. Jungkook apologizes by running his hands on Seokjin's back, fingers going back to where they were gripping from the start: Seokjin's tiny waist. Seokjin lays his palms flat on the the bed and turns around to look at Jungkook. His pretty lips are parted, letting out little gasps at every push into him.
"Give it to me," Jungkook hears Seokjin say. "Come and make a mess of me."
The stimuli builds up to the crescendo of an orgasm.
Jungkook spills and his vision is filled with what he has been missing out on.
It's similar to the colors he sees when he hears the beat to Amore.
The groan of pleasure he lets out makes Seokjin jolt.
It is mutualistic, and it nourishes and grows, how the other never fails to cause unstoppable lust shooting up their systems even after everything has been said and done.
Jungkook falls on Seokjin's back. He's taking in gulps of air and Seokjin joins in to steal some more of it.
There's parasitism between them too.
Seokjin dives in for a kiss and mutters, "I really hate you."
Jungkook laughs and returns it with as much vigor. He grips Seokjin's hair, and he thinks that if Seokjin wants him losing air, he'll drag them down together for it.
"I hate you too."
Time shatters and is put back together again.
Seokjin stops staring at the ceiling and gets out of bed.
Only twenty minutes have passed but it feels like a lifetime.
He drags himself through the cold floor. Upon second thought, he opens the small dresser in the room and produces a thin white comforter from the drawers. He places it on his head and wraps it around himself. He shivers at the warmth.
Standing there in the middle of the room gives him a clear view of the balcony. The glass sliding door is left open. Jungkook is sitting outside, shirtless and in grey sweatpants he dug out from Seokjin’s closet. His elbows are resting on the railing. Seokjin can see wisps of smoke in the air.
Seokjin stands by the door, leaning on the end of the wall.
“What are you smoking?”
Jungkook doesn’t turn around. “Cigarettes.”
“Are you smoking a lot lately?”
“Only when I go out.”
Stepping out onto the balcony, Seokjin pulls the comforter tighter around him. He peers down and sees that the car that drove them here is still there. He stands there, his back on the rails while Jungkook continues smoking and looking out into the distance.
“We can’t do this again.”
There, Seokjin thinks, let this be the first drop of blood.
“Do what?” Jungkook asks. The way he smokes is that he holds it between his third and fourth finger. He sucks, inhales, and his thumb ends up touching the corners of his mouth.
“Sex. Talk. See each other. ”
Seokjin keeps his eyes on Jungkook, wary of whatever expression he may make. He doesn’t react. He waits for him to get angry or fight him about it.
“Why are you so quiet?” Seokjin whispers.
Jungkook ignores the question and asks his own. “Is this the kind of life you wanted?”
Seokjin doesn’t know the answer to that. Jungkook finally finishes his cigarette. He throws the butt out into the streets.
“I’m trying to find that out.”
Jungkook shrugs. “Fair.”
“Why didn’t you fight for me?” Seokjin prays the tremble in his voice is all in his head.
“I simply gave you what you wanted.”
“What I want and what I need are two very different things.”
Jungkook meets Seokjin’s gaze. He raises his head and juts his chin out. “Tell me you need me then.”
“I don’t know that, Jungkookie.” Seokjin reasons. “I don’t know if I was with you because I wanted you, and I don’t know if I need you because I want you.”
“That’s the difference between you and me,” Jungkook drawls. “I didn’t need to leave to know what my feelings for you meant.”
Seokjin sighs. His head falls, face hidden. His cheek rests on the softness of the comforter.
“Not everyone has the luxury to know. I’m not like you. I don’t see life for what it is and believe me, I wish I could, because then I wouldn’t have to second guess everything and think about what-ifs.”
“What are those what-ifs?”
Seokjin shrugs. “It’s… what-ifs are simply afterthoughts. I could live with having them. Something else has always bothered me.” Seokjin lifts his head up and smiles at Jungkook who is watching him with the same intensity he always has. “I think you have an idea what it is.”
“Your family,” Jungkook replies simply.
Seokjin nods. He adjusts the comforter around him.
“They wanted me for you,” Jungkook says slowly. “And you tried so hard to not want me yourself because it meant giving in to the future your family wanted for you.”
“Yes,” Seokjin affirms. “That’s… what I always felt.”
“Do you hate me then? Do you hate that you ended up loving me?”
“I don’t, but—”
Jungkook cuts him off, swift and indifferent. “You can’t put this on me. I did nothing but love you. It’s not my fault.” The last sentence lets slip a sadness and hurt that makes Seokjin bristle. “It’s not my fault you thought about those kinds of things, and I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve being left alone like this.”
This is the breaking point.
Seokjin gets off the rails and envelopes Jungkook in a hug. He wraps his arms around Jungkook’s neck and pulls him to his chest. Jungkook quickly follows, arms going around Seokjin’s waist, his face pressed against the comforter. Seokjin’s hand finds his hair, and he runs his fingers through the short strands to soothe him.
“You don’t, Jungkookie. You don’t deserve it. I’m sorry.” Seokjin’s unsure if what he says next is a feeble attempt of comfort or if it’s the truth. It hurts either way. “And I don’t deserve you.”
“I still love you. But I can’t express it anymore. Not when it’s like this.” Jungkook confesses. “Not when you’re like this.”
Seokjin’s throat burns when he chuckles. “What love do you expect from me, Jungkook?”
“The kind that is selfish and cruel. I want you to want me and be greedy to the point that the people around us cannot stand the sight of us two together. I want you to want that so much that you’d spill blood for me.”
Seokjin takes a deep breath. He holds Jungkook’s face in his hands. The world fits in his palms so easily. He tilts Jungkook’s head up, and it’s beautiful how one person can contain the sky and the stars in their eyes.
“But you want to be a bird, Jin. You want to test your wings and see how far you can go. I’ll give you your freedom. It doesn’t really matter to me because I know I chose well.” Jungkook’s hold on him tightens. He slips out of Seokjin's hold and buries his face into Seokjin until the comforter is shed away and he is able to press a kiss on the skin of Seokjin’s stomach.
There’s a hidden meaning behind Jungkook’s oration.
A phantom pain on his leg that he has not felt in years starts throbbing and letting itself known.
That it will always be there.
And it will always be a part of him.
In their world, the clanking of bells and chimes are similar to chains. Whether they be studded with diamonds and sapphires or other stones, shackles all have the same function: to bind and restrain you down. It is all what a wedding ring is; a small, pretty, dainty thing that wards off other people who wishes to make a feast out of you.
And he should have realized this sooner.
Love is a desire sustained by unfulfillment, and Jungkook has dined on his heart so long ago that Seokjin never realized he’s been living in his belly the entire time.
Hong Haeil is a person who has come to terms with the mediocrity of his life early on.
He did well in high school and was able to attend one of the prestigious universities that was stereotypically expected from Asian-Americans like him, opening doors and forging connections that he wouldn’t have gotten if he went anywhere else. Among the sons and daughters of CEOs and celebrities, he was normal. It wasn’t anything bad for him. He didn’t pay it any mind.
That is to say he doesn’t enjoy where he is currently at in his career. If it wasn’t for all those fine threads he has become entangled with, he wouldn’t be able to land his current job.
The difference between him and his peers remain. Some have started their own agencies or are handling A-list celebrities, yet here he is as an intern. He’s not complaing. It has been proven that for people like him in the food chain, rewards take time but is given to those who work hard.
The TV station is busy. He makes his way through the crowd of people, his hold on the coffee tray steady. He greets everyone with a smile and they grin back. It’s an exciting day.
One of the most popular celebrities on the planet agreed to an interview with their network. What’s more is that this superstar barely agrees to interviews. He’s been the subject of gossip since his rise to stardom. He was talked about when he laid low, and he is all people spoke of these past months.
JJK’s timeline is easy to navigate compared to others. He was only 18 year old who came out with his first album; one that earned several awards and accolades. He disappeared for a few years from the music scene after his world tour. He’s known as the paparazzi’s most hated and loved. His name sells out papers and garners millions of clicks, but he never really gave people a reason to until a year ago. From the rumors surrounding him and actor Kim Taehyung, to his zero promotion of his second album (which didn’t matter seeing as how well it did and is doing in the charts), and the exposure of his elite background… this interview is a big deal.
Besides the fact that getting JJK on the network will pay for Haeil’s rent and groceries, he’s also a fan. There’s a saying that it’s rarer to meet someone who doesn’t like JJK versus those who follow him and his music.
He hears, “Thank you, Haeil!” as he passes around the coffee.
There are two more left on his tray.
An iced americano and iced chamomile.
Haeil gulps and tries to calm down the butterflies fluttering in his stomach. He takes a few seconds to stand somewhere on the sidelines to smooth out his white dress shirt and reposition his ID. He clears his throat and prays he doesn’t mess this up.
It’s just drinks, Haeil reminds himself. Another part of him thinks, So JJK prefers tea.
Haeil resumes walking. He first sees a pale man decked in black from head to toe, the thin metal frame of his reading glasses also black. He’s on his phone and standing behind an occupied rolling chair. The stylist fussing over the person seated in front of the vanity mirror is holding a straightening iron.
Moving closer, Haeil sees him and immediately feels lightheaded. His knees become weak, and if it wasn’t for his will to not embarrass himself greater, he would have already stumbled and stammered.
JJK is… something else.
His eyes are close, head tilted to the side. His lips are parted, and it doesn’t take a genius to tell he’s asleep. The contrast between his soft features and sharp jaw is breathtaking. He’s also wearing a white dress shirt; definitely expensive and tailor-made in comparison to Haeil’s that was bought online during a Black Friday sale. The first few buttons are open, showing his skin. The sleeves are pulled all the way down his wrists, hiding his tattoo sleeve.
Haeil is starstruck.
He cannot believe people are capable of looking like this.
The stylist is almost finished with her work. She purposely lets a strand of JJK’s hair curl and fall on his forehead.
Haeil approaches them and before he could speak, the man in black exclaims, “Finally!” He takes the iced americano from the tray and thanks Haeil who could only nod, still dizzy and unsure of left and right. The stylist is called by someone and they leave in a hurry, passing by Haeil who’s unsure if he should leave the iced tea on the desk.
The man standing must have noticed his fidgeting. He taps JJK on the shoulder.
“Jungkook, your iced tea’s here.”
JJK wakes up slowly. His eyes flutter open and he blinks the sleepiness away. He glances to the side of where Haeil is standing and grabs for his drink without looking up.
“Straw?” He asks, slowly shaking the drink in a circle.
Haeil fumbles and picks up the straw on the tray. He hands it over and it’s received by JJK’s tattooed hand.
“Thank you.” He mumbles.
Haeil nods, unable to find his voice. JJK tears the paper covering away and plops it in his drink. Haeil takes it as his cue to leave. He turns around, but once he does, he knows he’ll regret it if he lets this opportunity come to past.
He turns back around and says, “Can I get your autograph?”
The man chuckles at his breathlessness. It brings color to Haeil’s cheeks. He swallows the embarrassment down and instead looks at the mirror. JJK is staring straight at him. Haeil’s heart starts beating loudly against his chest, and he kind of regrets it now.
“I mean— if it’s okay of course! You don’t have to if you don’t want to!”
JJK turns his entire body around. He’s still looking at Haeil. It intimidates him.
“Where is it?” The man asks.
The man in black interjects, “What do you want him to sign?”
“Yoongi.” JJK interrupts. He places his iced tea on the desk. “Go find something.”
The man, Yoongi, glares at JJK through the mirror. He sighs before turning around and leaving them alone.
“Ohmygod, thank you so much. I— I really shouldn’t loiter but I’m a fan! I have all your albums!”
JJK smirks at him. “I only have two.”
Haeil blushes. He knows he’ll be repeating this in his head later when he’s alone. He’d probably stare at the wall and wonder if this really happened.
“I listened to everything. Even your old SoundCloud releases! You’re—“ Haeil stops his tirade. The intensity he’s feeling doesn’t decrease. It sinks into him that he’s standing here interacting with someone supposedly out of reach.
“You’re—“ Haeil takes a deep breath. His grip on the coffee tray tightens. “Cool. You’re really cool.”
JJK smiles at him. He doesn’t just smile, he grins. Eyes crinkling, nose scrunching, and head tilting to the side. He licks his lips, casts his eyes down then back again.
It’s the second time JJK says it to Haeil. This time around, it’s different. It’s genuine. It’s specifically for Haeil and not a faceless staff.
“Paper and pen. Best I could come up with.”
Yoongi’s reappearance forces Haeil to step back. He hands it to JJK who snorts.
“Really? This is the best you could do?”
“Brat. This isn’t my real job. Be glad I’m actually entertaining your whims.”
JJK laughs at that. He folds the bond paper in half and goes to the desk. He signs it quickly and hands it to Haeil face down.
“Come on,” Yoongi grumbles. “We need to do the test shots.”
JJK sighs and gets out of the chair. Haeil steps back some more and is amazed that he has to look up. He’s even more stunning like this.
“What’s your name?”
Haeil blinks in confusion. “Me?”
JJK raises a brow. They removed his eyebrow piercing and Hael believes that it’s a shame the stylists did.
“You know who I am and I know Yoongi. Of course I meant you.”
“I— Haeil. Hong Haeil.”
JJK nods. He grabs his iced tea from the vanity desk and takes a sip. He lets out a sound of satisfaction and smiles at Haeil once more.
“Hong Haeil,” He extends his tattooed arm towards Haeil. “I’m Jungkook.”
Haeil stares at the hand offered to him. He sputters and shakes it. “Nice to meet you!”
“Your hand’s warm.” JJK, no, Jungkook, says. He hasn’t let go. “Just like the color of your words.”
Yoongi usually walks behind Jungkook.
It gives him this window of opportunity to study the younger man on different occasions.
His shoulders are straight and he’s walking with a confidence that makes Yoongi think this interview may perhaps be a breeze.
“What was that about?” Yoongi casually asks.
He hears Jungkook hum. Usually, it means that he heard Yoongi but he has no intentions of speaking.
It seems today is indeed full of surprises because Jungkook takes the moment to glance at him, the hint of a smile on his face. He slows down, until he’s walking right next to Yoongi.
“What do you think life would be like if you never saw a certain color again?”
The question is odd. Yoongi’s brows narrow in confusion. He does entertain it. He may be a publicist now but his foundation will always belong to languages.
“Perhaps it would be like you lost a limb?”
Jungkook shrugs. “Perhaps.” He returns to sipping his iced tea.
Yoongi gives up. Jungkook can be impossible to talk to if he wants to be.
“You never talk to the staff. What’s different?”
“Have you been to the ocean on a good day?”
“A lot of people tell me I’m cool.” Jungkook chuckles at that. He takes a moment to mull his words over. “He said it and I saw blue. Like the beach when the sun is out but there’s a breeze.”
Yoongi did not see that one coming. It’s the last thing he expected Jungkook to say. He gets this look on his face he’s never seen.
Or maybe he did before, back when things were different. His life for the last couple of months has changed. He doesn’t remember anymore what it was like to not be doing this.
Maybe Jungkook did too.
“I’ve never seen that kind of color before,” Jungkook sounds and looks mesmerized. “Makes me miss the beach… and all the other things I’ve been missing out on.”