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Jeongguk likes the colour red. It isn’t the colour of love, roses and candy hearts on Valentine’s, but the colour of victory. It is the battlefield soaked with blood. He likes his stories about dragons and knights, childish as they are. It is the rush he gets on stage. Skin glistening under the lights with sweat and lungs working hard. It is the flush of Jimin’s cheeks when he’s near. Breathing against his ear, “Merry Christmas.” Jeongguk can feel the blood under his soft and sweet skin and lacework of his veins dance. He wants to get clean of Jeongguk — water that burns him red and scrub that leaves him raw can’t get at what lies under. Jeongguk presses his nose into the curve of his neck and smiles crookedly. It might as well have been a blade because it hurt all the same. Eyelashes lips and fingertips against his skin Jimin can feel poison running through his veins. Poison he’s been drinking like wine, but now it tastes like ashes. They smile for the pictures. They almost look normal. Jeongguk is big eyes and bigger smile, but the smile the camera loves isn’t the same smile glinting at him when they’re alone. Victory is the sound of Jimin’s heart skipping.

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Jeongguk is a kid. Jimin knows this. He does. There are a lot of things Jimin knows. Jimin knows that he loves too easily. He holds out his heart and lets it get dropped and spat on and squished under well-worn sneakers. Jimin knows that when he looks at Jeongguk he feels the flowers Jeongguk has grown in his lungs choke him. Beautiful things have thorns too. His fingertips prickle at his when he tangles their hands together as if he has razorblades under his skin. But he doesn’t let go. Jimin has always held on too tightly to things that don’t belong to him.

Jeongguk doesn’t spin poetry. He isn’t the promise of spring he is a night song. He is the head pounding beat of the dark clubs that breathe of alcohol and loneliness. He is the lights that sting at his strung out eyes. He is coffee and painkillers turning in his stomach.

His touch feels like a kiss. Too intimate and familiar like a dream and it sets Jimin on fire. Jimin knows Jeongguk is too young to know the difference between infatuation and love. Sometimes he thinks he doesn’t know himself where the line ends. Like his limbs between his when Jeongguk crawls into his bed and pleads with his big eyes until Jimin lets him stay. His hands are cold, but feel like home against his. His name in his mouth is the most beautiful when he is sleep-torn and needy. He curls into the warmth of his embrace. Jeongguk uses his chest as a pillow. His heart is loud in his ear and sounds like the sad love songs Jimin likes to put on in the car rides. Jeongguk rests his hand over his heart even though he’s the one it needs protecting from.

"Go to sleep Jeonggukie,"

"If I go to sleep will you still be here when I wake up?" Jimin has never heard Jeongguk sound more like a kid than now. It makes him squeeze his arms around him until Jeongguk is pressing into his ribs. 

"You know I will." Jeongguk doesn’t know anything anymore.

His fingers dance over the thin material of his sleep shirt. He wishes clothes didn’t separate their skin. To the lull of his heart he falls into sleep. 

He dreams of a forever of them.

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Jeongguk is his favourite thing. Children have toys, cats have prey, but he only has Jeongguk. He finds he's the one being pulled apart like the flower petals in their "I NEED U" shoot. Their most popular songs are about the end of a relationship. The hurt of love, the blame... Jimin wonders if that was all people remembered. Jimin likes going up to the roof not because he likes heights, but because this is where Jeongguk goes to be alone. The day is grey. It has a warm streak in it like the dying of embers. The still air doesn't cool the sweat on his back. He looks across the skyline and he just sees reflections of buildings. It isn't like where he grew up, the misty dying of the afternoon and the smell of sea-salt. There were tiny houses there, laundry hanging out to dry, sons playing between the alleyways, and mothers looking sadder than they should have. He always remembered the look in their eyes, like they were already saying goodbye. Jeongguk watches the back of his neck. The way the collar of his shirt flutters. He can be so quiet when he thinks no one's watching. "This is my spot." Jeongguk says, folding his arms, before sitting beside him. He lets their legs dangle together. "I know that," When Jimin smiles he closes his eyes. "That's why I come here." It doesn't matter where they are. If it's the same skyline he's been looking at for years or a bright new city he'll always look at Jeongguk.

"Guys were looking for you, they wanted to watch a movie.." 

"Oh?" Jimin asks, because there is no they in deciding anything. They always let the maknae win.

They never watch romance movies, not even romcoms, because guys don't do that together besides Jimin's sentimental enough for all of them. Jeongguk has horrible tastes in movies. It's always some b-horror flick or anime-thing or a combination of the two. Hoseok will sit too close to Namjoon and hold onto him during the scary parts and Jin will dose off after he eats his popcorn, but Jimin doesn't mind. Jimin doesn't mind because Jeongguk sits between him and Taehyung and puts his feet up on the couch. He'll always find a way to further sink into Jimin.

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"Do you ever get homesick?" Jeongguk asks. They're asleep, or supposed to be. The lights are out and there's space enough in his bed for Jeongguk to crawl in. That's a funny question. It's the kind he'd only ask at this time of night. Jimin is too old to get homesick. Too have dread fill his stomach when going somewhere new, when new faces rushed in a crowded him, to have nothing look or smell... like home.  

"I don't get homesick... I get Jeonggukkie-sick."

"Ugh, hyung, you're such a sap."

But it's true. Home isn't a place for him anymore. It's Jeongguk. Whenever he's with him he's home. He can be sleeping in the bed next to him and Jimin can be watching videos of the two of them on his phone and it won't matter that they're halfway across the world from where they started. Jimin gets a window seat on the plane. He'll look out at the mountains, the ocean, the sky (becoming more polluted as they near the city.) The scenery changes, but how he feels never does. Sitting next to Jeongguk he gets the feeling like he's floating over water and he doesn't know if it's comforting or sickening.

"I think I'm homesick." He's quiet so he doesn't wake the others, but there's more than that tucked away in his voice.

"Come here." Jimin offers his heart as a home. It's shackled to his body, and it's not the heart Jeongguk wants, but he presses his fingers into it until it bruises. Jeongguk nestles against the natural curve of his body. He slips his leg between his and places his hand on his hipbone. It's prickly like a glass shard buried under skin. Jimin is smaller every time he holds him.

"Don't be sad, we'll be home soon."

His skin is soft (his touch softer.) It's like a slipcover for all they don't say. They don't dig too deeply in fear they'll bleed out.

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"I want to try..." Jeongguk says, and it's the beginning and end of everything."Alcohol."

"Come on--" Jeongguk can whine and Jimin will give in. Jeongguk can giggle his candid little laugh that belonged to a little boy eating pink candyfloss and tugging on his clothes and not a seventeen year old and Jimin will let him get away with anything. Seventeen and eleven months. Jeongguk would say. "Hyung," he adds as an afterthought.

"I'm an adult." He almost hiccups.

"Okay." Jimin swallows. There are a lot more inappropriate things he's done. Like that time he stole soju with Taehyung and they got drunk on the beach. Or how many pictures he has of Jeongguk saved on his phone.

Jeongguk starts with a few beers. Jimin watches as he tastes them, pouring a little bit into plastic cups and sipping as if it's expensive wine. He makes a funny face, but keeps drinking. "Just don't get drunk... I have enough to worry about."

"You worried about me?" Jeongguk smirks. "You could drink too, that'd help... they say it does."

"What do you know?"

"Enough." Jeongguk looks more adult than Jimin does, and then it's gone.

He's close enough to touch, but Jimin keeps his hands in his lap.

"Do you have anything stronger?"

"No, what do I look like?"

"I don't know... what do you look like?" Jeongguk smiles and Jimin can't help but smile back at him (he's the sun.)

Jimin's not his best friend. That's Taehyung. He's not his father figure.. that's always been Hoseok's role. He's not his older brother (his hyung), that's Jin. He's always fallen between the cracks.

"There's something else I want to try."

"Jeongguk I... we should get some sleep." Jin had tried to get them to sleep early, but they had just fidgeted in bed and kept everyone awake.

"Who are you and what'd you do with the real Jimin? Is it true what Namjoon said? You got no jams,"

"Shut up," Jimin has a temper, but he never snaps at Jeongguk. His angry is invisible. It's beneath the surface of his skin and it shakes his bones.

"Kiss me, kiss me if you want me to shut up," Jeongguk says. To Jeongguk this is a game. (everything can be rewound in his head.)

Jimin rests his head against the couch. He wishes it was a wall and he could bang his head until he got his thoughts under control. They were like ants crawling in every direction.

"For fuck sake..." Fuck is such a beautiful word in the right mouth and Jeongguk's is perfect. Jeongguk straddles him. His thighs pin him to the couch cushion. Jeongguk kisses him. Shy, soft lips brushing against his until Jimin pulled him closer and kissed him hard enough for Jeongguk to forget he was sitting on the lap of his hyung in the lounge where anyone could see. Jeongguk tastes bittersweet. Like licorice.

"So this is what they write about..." Jeongguk breathes. Forehead against his. Poetry, novels, songs (hits or sang to drunkards in bars.) It was about this... a kiss was a prelude to everything.

"I don't think we're doing it right..." Jimin says and kisses him again. He hasn't had as much to drink as Jeongguk, but kissing him is intoxicating. He can feel his cock pressing against his thigh.

"Someone could walk in Jeongguk..." The words only make him ache, lust furling in his stomach and his cock throbbing. Jimin says it again as he runs the palm of his hand down his chest to rest against his stomach. Jeongguk sucks in his breath. His shirt sticking to his skin. Please. He hears. It's so needy, and unlike Jeongguk all Jimin can do is compel. He's never said no to Jeongguk he's not about to start now. 

Jimin feels a moan drumming in his throat. His teeth scrape against his Adam's Apple. With his hair in his face and his head tilted back Jimin swears he is the most goddamn beautiful thing. The feeling of friction between his cock and Jimin's thigh and his teeth indenting his skin is enough. He shutters against Jimin as he comes. He rests there, face buried in the crook of his neck and breathes in his scent. Jimin is his hiding place.

Jeongguk brushes his fingers up and down the zipper of his jeans. Hair disheveled and sweat tracking up the little makeup he has on, he smiles. Not his big stupid kid grin. He smiles that smile he saves for the audience. Innocence is a three syllable word and it burns like soju.

He gets on his knees in front of him. It's a holy sight. Jeongguk palms at his erection through his jeans. It makes Jimin want to grab him by the back of his neck and push his face into his crotch. Jeongguk teases with little flicks of his tongue and looks up at Jimin. Flushed in the cheeks, lips red and swollen and open like he's the one who should have a cock in his mouth Jimin..

How. The look on his face spells.

""You really should lock your phone," Jeongguk smirks. Jimin would hit him if he didn't have his lips around his cock.

Jimin rolls his hips up off the couch --fucking into the heat of his mouth-- and sinks his fingertips into the spaces between his fingers. He comes fast and hard, gripping his hair and moaning, "Jeonggukkie."

It's like he's having one of his wet dreams. The only difference is the amount of laundry he has to do.  

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"Hold my hand," Jeongguk says. It doesn't matter that they're in public or that it's 90 degrees and Jimin's hand is running with sweat. In winter their quilted coats make it easier for Jimin to fit his fingers into Jeongguk's sleeve and hold his hand.

Jeongguk likes being treated like a baby, though he'll never say. He likes sitting on laps and having arms wrap around him. Jimin's his favourite, and it's not because of their history, it's because Jimin soothes his hair back and tucks his chin into his shoulder. Jeongguk likes the feeling of his thighs under him and gentleness of his breath. The warmth that pools.

"Hold my hand," He says and it's the sweetest thing.

Sweet things make you fat and pretty things suffocate you, but Jeongguk drives him to a state of perfection. Dressing rooms find his flaws. He hates the mirrors in there. His reflection rips him apart like he has shards of glass stuck under the surface of his skin, but the way his body fits with Jeongguk --how he gets him to sleep easier than anything-- is the only perfect thing about him.

At the end of the day he's still sleeping alone. They don't have forever's. Jimin is too kind to tell Jeongguk forever isn't meant for them. It's made for girls with plastic smiles, their fingers tightly wound in the fabric of their dress, and weary men.

Jeongguk says goodnight to him, he slips his hand under the blanket and kneads their fingers together, it's a second and it's already too long. He spends too long on goodnights and goodbyes, a little longer every time. Jeongguk will always cling to Jimin, even if it's just the hem of his sweater. It's the only relief he gets.

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His gaze strips him down. Jimin is more naked than flesh. His eyes peel back his layers and devour him without even touching him. It's exotic; almost. Jeongguk has a thing for his neck --the veins that gather when he hits a hit note, the flinch of his pulse, the marks he wants to, but can't, leave-- his hand wraps around delicately. (and squeezes.)

Silence is so beautiful when it's an afterthought.

But with Jeongguk... Jimin fears his silences. His moods a violent storm with no calm. Jeongguk can push him back and say no with only his eyes and then come to him in the night like a dream. (no is no with everyone, but Jeongguk.)

The bathroom door never locks and there is too much familiarity between them for Jeongguk to knock.

His hand slips down him like soap studs and finds his cock already hard. He presses him back against the shower wall with a kiss. "Getting off to me without me?" Jeongguk checks him for bruises. The practice room floor is hard, but he's harder.

Jeongguk can mark him under the collar of his shirt. He can know at least that the bruises on his hips and thighs are from him. If Jimin is obsessive, Jeongguk is possessive. Wet hair and water glossing down his cheeks --his makeup noonas make his skin look like silk-- he slides down his body. There is no view Jimin enjoys more than watching Jeongguk work diligently to get him off and their four star hotel rooms with king size beds and terraces have had some pretty great views, but alone he falls asleep hungry and aching. He never feels that way with Jeongguk between his legs.

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"I don't like it here." The music is nauseatingly loud and the red lights follow the curve of his body like raindrops. They dance over his skin. Red lights hide every flaw. Jimin feels a little more safe under their gaze.

"You said you wanted to go to a party." The words are pressed against his ear so he can hear him. "This is a party."

"Turn up! Go party!" Jeongguk hears Taehyung shout and smiles instinctively. He doesn't feel like smiling. He feels like going home.

There is a lightness in Taehyung. It's why Jeongguk loves him. It isn't dithering, fading with time. It can't be turned off. That kind of beauty illuminates everything and one around, but is blinding to look directly at.

"It's too loud." Jeongguk just looks at Jimin. He doesn't even have to search his eyes to know what he wants. Jimin always knows.

:Come on." Jimin finds his fingers in his over sized sweater that cover his hands and takes him up the roof. "You always used to go up here."

The city lights sprawl below them, everything looks small and insignificant from up high. He took to nesting up on roofs when he was a kid. It was where birds went so he looked at them to learn something about freedom. He sketched, sang, danced just to get out of his room. It was different when just the sky and the birds were watching him. Now the world watches.

"I don't like heights, Jimin I just came up there to be alone."

"I was there.." Jimin used to watch him dance. It was his way of being close to him. Watching him silently; his shirt clinging to the small of his back... the weight of his inhale.

"I know." Jeongguk says softly. A ghost of a voice in the blackness.

"Do you know how long i watched you?" Jimin closes his eyes. It's just dots. The lit up skyscrapers with all the people still inside, with their lives and their dreams strangled in their heads is just a starry skyline.

They haven't talked about that night or any night since. Jeongguk will press him against a wall and touch him until he is quivering for release. (kiss his neck without ever meeting his eyes.) Jimin can never push him away.

His hand in his, Jeongguk twists their fingers tightly together and pushes his weight back against the rail. He knows he won't fall, not with Jimin holding onto him. Codependency makes for awful company.

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The first time they fuck Jeongguk cries. It hurts, but Jeongguk likes to win. He stuffs the bed sheets into his mouth and spreads his cheeks. Jimin is rough, he knots his fingers in his hair and shoves into him. Jeongguk is his wall to hit and lean against and to collapse into when everything is an agonizing too much. Please Jeonggukie. He repeated. His voice wore Jeongguk down. Jimin had smiled sincerely at him and pressed kisses to the curve of his mouth and Jeongguk had let him. He hates seeing the kid cry so he fucks him from behind. A hand around his throat and his fingers in his mouth. Watching porn on his phone did not make Park Jimin know what he was doing. Jeongguk knew this now, as he knew many things. His world fracturing and breaking up and rebuilding itself. He had toy blocks when he was growing up. He could remove a piece and watch everything tumble down. (everything seemed easier when it was just a child's mess to be put back in a box.) Jimin gets himself off first. He comes on his back and in his hair. Splattering himself across his skin and jerking his head up. Jeongguk is an afterthought until he is rolling his hips up off the bed. He spills into Jimin's hand. His breath a blade cutting the velvety darkness. He wants to wrap his fingers in it and pull it down around him.

"You're too big to be held, Jeonggukie," Jimin says after.

"I've always been bigger than you," He can feel him smile against his skin. Cocky bastard.

"Thanks for reminding me." Jimin never forgets.

Met with silence Jeongguk says, "Wet fit together perfectly."

Jimin knows he only says it because he needs to hear those words. He always needsneedsneeds.

"I love you," Jimin doesn't know why he says it. No, that's a lie. He says it because it's been sitting on the tip of his tongue, wanting to spill out of his mouth for months. He says it because he doesn't know how to be happy with what he already has. The words have pooled and coagulated around his lips like blood. Jeongguk shifts into the spot beside his. Still warm. Why'd you have to say anything, why couldn't you leave this alone. Jimin can see the words sprawled on his skin. Like a map waiting for his fingertips.

Jimin kisses him. Jeongguk hasn't learned to pull away from him or hesitant his touch. The kiss, if it can be called that and not goodbye, is slow and uneven. Jeongguk has left him already. Quietly, coldly like a lover in the night. Jimin promised himself he wouldn't beg him to stay.

There's two years between them and it feels like an ocean.

Jimin thought he was a good swimmer.

It's a week, a month, a year. He thought he'd come back to him. Jeongguk doesn't ask him to hold his hand anymore. Not even his fingers skimming over the end of his sleeve. Distance can't be measured when they smile and act like nothing has changed when the cameras roll. The ship is still sailing to everyone, but them. Jimin doesn't remember what floating on top of water feels like. Their ship should have been a submarine.

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Jeongguk is eighteen and he still doesn't know how to breathe without Jimin lifting his head up (and keeping him from drowning.) He is eighteen. Jeongguk repeats, a litany to himself in the darkness of the empty dorm room. And Jimin won't always be there. Jeongguk can hear those words, muddled and distant -- I love you. It's three words and it fucks him. He really is a child.

 

-

 

Jimin rolls over in bed, awake. He hasn't begun to sleep. He checks his phone, even though he would hear the ping of a new message. The screen illuminates his skin in blue. It's comforting, almost. He tries to sleep, rolling onto his back and adjusting his blankets. He lies there, with the last person he wants on his mind and that perpetual question, "what did I do wrong?" perturbing his sleep. He's almost thankful when his phone alerts him to a new message.

"Do you know what you said in our first interview together... hyung, are you there?"

"I'm here." Jimin doesn't know what else to say.

"You said: Jeongguk is cute and innocent and mine... and I just laughed and didn't say anything because we barely knew each other, but I think you knew... you always knew what you felt for me. I just wanted to give you what you wanted. I was scared. I was scared of giving you what you wanted, I was scared of not giving you what you wanted."

Jeongguk is always scared, but he holds it in. His fear is a fire gently congealing his wounds. It scars, but he's kept alive. He rushes head first into everything like a kid, because if he knew the danger... the hurt that was waiting for him he wouldn't do anything. 

Jimin reads the message over again, every time he feels a little more hollow. "I'm sorry." He doesn't know how many times he's said that by now, it hasn't changed anything between them.

Jeongguk doesn't reply, eventually Jimin stops expecting him to.

He wants to say, "I miss you."

He wants to say, "I wish you were here." But he swallows it down.

 

-

 

"I don't know Jimin if you're so worried about him, why don't you call him?" It isn't hard to miss the irritation in Yoongi's voice.

"It's weird." Jimin runs a hand through his black hair. It's fine from all the years of dying it.

"It's not weird, we were in the same band for seven years." Yoongi looks at him, dully.

"It's weird." Jimin says again. Everything is so easy to Yoongi who's never been in love.

Finally he does call him.

 

-

 

The wet sand is squishy between his toes.

Jimin wanted to take Jeongguk here when they were younger. When they were in love. Jimin thinks it isn't a coincidence that poetry is written about young love, pure and bright like the white sand beating under that sun. It had been all he wanted for awhile. The sound of ocean waves and Jeongguk looking out at the blue. He had said three little words and suddenly Jimin hadn't felt like a home to him, he felt like a knife pressed under his rib cage.

He is in love with the feeling of being in love and the waves echo back his heartache.

Love isn't a stain. It doesn't wash out with the tide. Jimin grew up with sand between his toes, with his skin drenched in sun, his hair smelling of the sea and the ocean's roar in his ears. He has salt skin, but the ocean never taught him how to let go. He holds on with human strength, frightening and desperate and slipping in memory.

He lives in between the memories when he knew how to love. 

Jeongguk listens to the waves. They come in and roll away, how familiar their touch must feel to the shore. It stings upon its descent into the blue. The sky never looks as infinite as the ocean. They sit side by side, with their feet buried in the white sand, and the sun kissing their shoulders.

"You were it for me."

His words are sharp, digging in like a razor. He could spill his blood into the sea.

"You were it for me too... for awhile."

Silence comes rushing in. Jimin forgets that the sea is also turbulent. It is speed bumps and nausea and leaves only salt on his skin. Their history goes out with the tide.

"It's beautiful here, hyung."

"I can see you in this place and it in you--"

"Is that a compliment?"

Jeongguk half smiles. The big, goofy smile that Jimin craves are for the cameras, not him. "You know I never give you those."

A weak smile tugs at the corners of his mouth.

"I could stay like this forever." Jimin breathes, damning himself for the sentiment. He used to say things like that when he was inside him (when he was kissing his honey skin.) Happiness is watching him dance and listening to the music his heartbeat makes and the crack of his smile against his neck at four in the morning. Jeongguk used to sleep so close. 

"You said forever wasn't made for us." His eyes are on the horizon. Pink bleeding into red. His favourite color drips into the sea.

His hair is dark brown--almost black--and perfumed by sea spray and the sun crisscrosses shadows on his skin. He has looked at Jeongguk thousands of times, even when the view is breathtaking and Taehyung is begging for his attention. "Look at this!" Taehyung would exclaim all the while Jimin kept looking at Jeongguk. Jimin exhales the poison in his lungs, only to inhale it again. He looks at Jeongguk when there is a world waiting for him. Jeongguk is the only world he wanted. He is the only kind of peace Jimin knows, who knew peace was this agonizing.

It's the perfect day. There are people around them, sneaking photos, and the sun is too hot and Jeongguk has no inclination of leaning closer to him. But Jimin was never one for negativity. It's the perfect day because Jeongguk is by his side, again, and for a second he can pretend.