Yoongi hates water.
He’s been diagnosed with aquaphobia, and technically it’s not weird. He almost drowned when he was younger and no one still knows how he even survived. He fell off the cliff, and even though he’d fallen into the water and missed the jagged rocks below, the waves were definitely enough to kill him. But he hadn’t been pulled under or smashed up against a rock. He’d somehow been found on the beach, unconscious but unhurt and alive. People call it a miracle. All Yoongi remembers is a flash of dark maroon. He remembers nothing about the beach after that, even though there are pictures of himself at the beach. He remembers everything – his friends, school, everything – unless they have something to do with a beach. The only thing he remembers about the water is darkness and coldness, and then a sudden flash of dark maroon before something seems to pull him out of the water. He tells his therapist later on, who frowns and says, you mean like.. a mermaid?
Doc, are you fucking with me? I’m not five.
Okay, just making sure you know mermaids don’t exist. Some of my patients are insistent Disney movies are real.
I’m trying to cure my fear of water, not delusions.
Yoongi hasn’t seen that therapist in a while. He doesn’t think he can overcome his fear of water and it’s rational, kind of. Anyone who almost drowned in water is going to have a fear of water. Yoongi shakes the thought away. He can’t focus on his music lately, and it has everything to do with his new next-door neighbor, who just happens to have his hair dyed the exact shade of maroon that he remembers.
Kim Seokjin, he’s learned, is a shy man who smiles genuinely at everything. Yoongi has never seen a man so easily pleased. Kim Seokjin smiled when introducing himself, neat, round letters written cleanly on a white piece of paper. He smiled when Yoongi frowned at the paper, he smiled when Taehyung came crashing out of the elevator, and he smiled this morning when they happened to walk out of their doors at the same time, Yoongi still mostly asleep with his hair sticking in every possible direction and Seokjin the very definition of pristine. Kim Seokjin is probably the kindest person he knows (kind of knows) and is also probably the prettiest person he knows (kind of knows).
He’s also mute.
It doesn’t seem to affect Seokjin much – he carries around a small pad of paper to write on for people who don't know sign language. He’s not the nosy type that Yoongi hates (his old neighbor wanted to know everything Yoongi was doing and would ask why he came so late at night, etc, etc), but Yoongi runs into him pretty often.
In any case, Kim Seokjin is the reason why Yoongi can’t focus lately. Seokjin is pretty much always on Yoongi’s mind, and it scares Yoongi a bit if he’s being honest. He doesn’t really know Seokjin that well, which probably means he’s just attracted to Seokjin’s face. Yoongi has to admit Seokjin does have a rather pretty face, but Yoongi usually is not one to be so caught up about looks. But Yoongi can’t stop thinking about Seokjin’s warm smile or the shade of wine his hair turns into when the sun hits it just right.
Yoongi stares at his computer screen for a while before snatching his snapback up from the desk and pressing it on top of his head. He doesn’t even bother turning it off before rushing out of his studio.
He doesn’t know what he’s going to say. Hey you’re pretty can we get coffee? Or maybe hey we’ve been running into each other a lot let’s make out?
Yoongi isn’t very good at this. Obviously.
He rings Seokjin’s doorbell on a whim, and then regrets it right away. He’s half considering running away especially because Seokjin isn’t answering, but he’s about to turn around when the door opens. Seokjin’s hair is dripping onto the towel on his shoulders and his shirt is inside out. Yoongi winces. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to catch you in the shower.”
Seokjin looks around and grabs a notepad by the door – it’s different from the one Yoongi’s seen him carry around, so that probably means it’s something Seokjin keeps by the door. [It’s okay,] Seokjin writes, shows Yoongi, and then takes it back to write, [Hi?]
“Hey. Uh.” Yoongi winces. This is definitely not what he was imagining. Why was Seokjin showering in the middle of the day, anyway? “Sorry, I just – wanted to know if you wanted to get coffee? I mean, we run into each other really often but we never really got to talk. Uh, I mean. You know. Get to know each other.” Yoongi’s stumbling over all of his words, but Seokjin’s stifling a smile behind his hand, shoulders shaking a little in what Yoongi figures is supposed to be a giggle.
Seokjin’s eyes are still warm as he writes, [Sure. Come in and just give me a moment?]
“Oh. Yeah, sure.”
Seokjin steps aside to let Yoongi in. Yoongi normally tosses his sneakers off wherever, but Seokjin’s got his shoes all lined up neatly, so he takes them off as neatly as possible. Seokjin taps him on the shoulder to get his attention and Yoongi turns to see that he’s written, [Make yourself at home. Do you want something to drink?]
“Uh, no, it’s fine. I’ll just – sit there.”
Seokjin quiet-giggles again, looks down at his inside-out shirt and fans his face. [I’ll be right out.] He rushes to the bathroom again and Yoongi watches the door click shut before he looks around. The apartment is a mirror image of his, structurally. Everything is flipped, since they’re facing each other on the same floor, but otherwise everything is as Yoongi expects. Seokjin’s apartment feels warm and homey. Not that Yoongi’s doesn’t, because he likes his messy, single-man-in-20s apartment, thank you very much, but Seokjin’s house is warmly domestic.
His socked feet make no noise on the wooden floor and he looks around. It looks like Seokjin really likes the ocean. He’s got pictures of the sea everywhere. Most of the pictures are of the empty beach, calm and serene with waves that slide onto the beach. There are few of the angry, stormy ocean, but they look perfectly fitted in the living room. Seokjin also had a gigantic fish tank in the living room, one that looked like it was perfectly kept, with all sorts of fish in the tank.
Yoongi turned around when the bathroom door opened again. Seokjin’s hair was damp but no longer dripping onto his shoulders, and he’d changed into a darker t-shirt. Seokjin waves with a little smile and picks up the notepad again. [Sorry about that.]
“Hey, my fault for randomly ringing your doorbell. You really like the ocean, huh?”
Seokjin’s eyes soften, and Yoongi raises his eyebrow at the tenderness in his eyes as he places his palm on the fishtank. There’s a moment of quietness before Seokjin picks his notepad up and writes, [I miss it, that’s all.]
“You used to live on the beach? Before you moved here?”
Seokjin nods and smiles shyly again. [You wanted to get coffee?]
They don’t head anywhere fancy – just down to the apartment complex’s Paris Croissant where Seokjin picks up a strawberry danish and a pomegranate lemonade, and Yoongi opts for raspberry iced tea. Yoongi offers to pay – the total comes to less than 10,000 won anyway – and they settle on a quiet corner of the café. It’s not overly busy at 3PM on a Thursday afternoon, and Seokjin smiles warmly at him across the table. Yoongi realizes that with Seokjin’s disability and his own inability to understand sign language, Yoongi has to do most of the talking as Seokjin’s notepad is kind of an inconvenience. The thought kind of strikes him because he’s never the one talking more – it’s always everyone else. But Seokjin’s got his head tilted expectantly, so he blurts out, “I really hate water.”
That’s probably a weird move, but Seokjin’s smile widens and he silent-giggles again. Yoongi takes that as a good sign and carefully continues, “I had a traumatic experience when I was in high school. Ever since then, I can’t stand water. I mean. Drinking water, fine. Wading pool, I can do. Anything bigger, no.”
Seokjin nods understandingly. He writes, [Did you almost drown?]
“Yup. Fell off a cliff.” Seokjin’s eyes widen and he stops cutting into his strawberry pastry. “I didn’t get hurt at all, though. Everyone said it was a miracle that I managed to wash up on shore at all without crashing into the rocks. It was impossible, with the storm and all. My brother said it was like someone pulled me out of there.”
Seokjin writes and smiles, [Like the Little Mermaid.]
Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Yeah, like the Little Mermaid.”
Yoongi’s pleasantly surprised to find he and Seokjin get along pretty well. They’re still awkwardly polite with each other – it’s not like he can punch Seokjin in the arm in greeting like he does to Taehyung – but he’s comfortable around Seokjin. The conversation flows pretty easily from his hate of water to Seokjin’s love of it, and even when Yoongi runs out of things to say, Seokjin doesn’t make things awkward. They sit in quiet silence, with Seokjin taking little bites of his danish.
One thing Yoongi does notice is that Seokjin has a necklace that he keeps reaching for. It’s nothing fancy: a black string threaded through what looks like a scale of some sort that’s the same exact shade of Seokjin’s hair. “Special to you?” Yoongi asks, hoping he’s not being too nosy.
Seokjin blinks at him in confusion, and Yoongi points to the necklace. Seokjin’s rubbing the scale between his thumb and forefinger, and he looks down as if he doesn’t know what’s there. He smiles a little when he sees the necklace. [It’s pretty special.] He pauses and then writes, [A memento of where I used to live.]
Seokjin looks like he has more to say, but he doesn’t say anything and Yoongi doesn’t push. They go back to their drinks, Yoongi offers to buy (and does buy) Seokjin another strawberry pastry, and they start playing gomoku on Seokjin’s notepad.
Yoongi doesn’t even realize how much time they’ve spent going back and forth between more drinks (Yoongi tries the strawberry lemonade and Seokjin gets a blueberry yogurt smoothie), playing on Seokjin’s little paper pad and talking about random things. He learns Seokjin doesn’t actually work – he gets money from his parents – but he volunteers at the local community center for mute children. He also learns Seokjin wasn’t always mute. He’d actually become mute recently through an accident, and he stumbles over his sign language. Yoongi tells Seokjin about the music he does, about Namjoon who breaks everything and Taehyung who’s just crazy, and Seokjin’s silent giggle is nothing but endearing.
As they get up, Yoongi buys Seokjin another strawberry pastry and they walk back, still playing gomoku on the way. Yoongi’s in 501 and Seokjin’s in 502, so they take the five flights of stairs up.
Yoongi sits down at his computer and works all night, and he doesn’t come across a single slump throughout the entire night.
“Damn,” Namjoon whistles lowly in appreciation. “Hyung, this is like the best you’ve put out. Like. Ever.” He takes his headphones off and raises an eyebrow. “I thought you were in like a slump or something?”
Yoongi shrugs. He doesn’t mention Seokjin to Namjoon. It’s kind of ridiculous that someone that he’s only really gotten to know for a day could be his muse. He just listens to the track he finished up yesterday. He silently agrees with Namjoon – it is the best he’s put out. Probably something he’s going to be keeping for himself instead of selling it to a bubbly idol group.
Yoongi thinks about Seokjin: the way he giggles silently with his broad shoulders trembling, the way he covers his mouth when his eyes crinkle into half-moons in a laugh, or the way he picks at his strawberries first and then nibbles through the rest of the pastry.
And the maroon of his hair that fits exactly with the shade in his memory.
Yoongi rings the doorbell to Seokjin’s apartment three days after and hears something crashing. Yoongi half-wonders if he’s caught Seokjin in the shower again. But Seokjin yanks open the door and he looks like he’s been crying. “What’s wrong?” Yoongi demands, almost dropping the bag of strawberry pastries he bought. “What’s going on?”
Seokjin wordlessly points to his living room and Yoongi peeks over to see a seagull perched on top of Seokjin’s sofa. Yoongi doesn’t know how the hell a seagull got into Seokjin’s living room to begin with. He hasn’t even known seagulls came to Seoul. The seagull squawks at Yoongi and Yoongi tries to shoo it away, but it dives at him. Yoongi manages to catch it with the bag of strawberry pastries and it squawks again, flying off and crashing into the screen. Yoongi sees the hole it ripped through and wonders for a moment what kind of seagull would do that, especially since Seokjin had no food around.
“Are you all right?” Yoongi slams the glass window shut and turns to examine Seokjin. “How the hell did that get in here?”
Seokjin pointed at the torn screen, shaking a little. The seagull had also apparently made a mess of Seokjin’s fish tank, splashing water everywhere, but it looked like it hadn’t managed to hurt any of the fish. Seokjin looks visibly shaken, and also a bit like he’s been crying, so Yoongi steers him to the couch. He upends the plastic bag – the pastry inside are squished from the hit but not too bad, so he opens up one of the better ones and offers it to Seokjin. “You okay?”
Seokjin shudders but nods, fumbling with the bread in his hands. He doesn’t really look like he’s got a hold on himself yet but Yoongi doesn’t exactly blame him – he’d be pretty shaken if a seagull tore through his screen and fucked up his living room. Seokjin starts patting around and Yoongi realizes he’s looking for his notepad, so he snatches the pad off the coffee table. [Thank you. I didn’t know what to do..]
Yoongi just shakes his head. Once Seokjin stops shaking and starts taking bites out of the bread, Yoongi gets up to examine the tear in the screen. “Do you have a repair kit?” Seokjin blinks at him so Yoongi figures the answer is no. “Hang on. I’ll be right back, all right?” Seokjin nods and watches curiously as Yoongi runs out into the hall into his apartment, and then back with a repair kit.
Seokjin watches curiously as Yoongi cuts the new piece to fit over the tear the seagull made, blinking almost owlishly at Yoongi’s work. [Thanks. I would have never known what to do with it..]
Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “You didn’t have to fix any screens where you used to live?”
Seokjin blushes a bit and writes, [Well.. whenever something broke, my father had someone to fix it.] He shows Yoongi, pauses, and then writes quickly, [You must think I’m spoiled.]
Yoongi shrugs with a shoulder. “Not really. You must come from a rich family, though.”
Seokjin shakes his head wildly and writes, [Not rich. We didn’t pay them to do it.] He pauses after that, frowning a bit at the paper. He seems to be looking for the word and finally settles on, [Respected.]
Yoongi leaves it at that and finishes patching up the hole. “Hopefully that seagull doesn’t try to come back through. The patch won’t really hold up if it tries to tear through again. It’ll just keep out bugs from coming in.” Seokjin looks distracted and Yoongi doesn’t exactly blame him – he’d be pretty out of it if a seagull randomly came in an attacked his living room and his fish tank, too. He steers Seokjin back to the couch and hands him another squished pastry that Seokjin takes and starts biting into.
Apparently that’s the wake up point because Seokjin blinks and then blushes. He grabs his notebook and writes quickly, [Let me get you something to eat. It’s lunchtime already, anyway.]
Yoongi doesn’t really get to protest because Seokjin’s already getting up. He follows Seokjin into the kitchen. “You don’t mind if I just.. stay here?”
Seokjin smiles and shakes his head and pulls a dining table chair out for Yoongi. Yoongi notices Seokjin works with mostly seafood – not even shrimp or clams or crab, but mostly the vegetables of the sea. But whatever Seokjin’s making starts smelling positively delicious.
“You’re vegetarian?” Yoongi asks, once Seokjin puts out the food. It’s mostly seaweed dishes and some tofu. The jjigae doesn’t look like it has any meat. “Not that I care, you know, just curious.”
Seokjin smiles. [No,] he writes. [The jjigae is made from chicken stock. I just don’t really like eating marine animals and didn’t have any meat in the fridge.]
They eat in silence – it’s not exactly easy for Seokjin to keep writing and eating at the same time. The way Seokjin handles his utensils is a bit awkward, but Seokjin seems to be managing fine and Yoongi doesn’t say anything. “This tastes awesome,” Yoongi blinks. “Wait, seriously. It tastes great. I never thought seaweed could taste like this.”
Seokjin silent-giggles again. After the meal Yoongi volunteers to do the dishes and Seokjin starts making coffee on the side. “You enjoy cooking?” Yoongi asks. Seokjin’s face lights up as he nods and he looks like he wishes he could talk, but he manages to write his enthusiasm on his notepad. It must be hard, Yoongi thinks, for someone to lose their voice so late into their life. Seokjin looks like he would’ve been animated when he talked, with lots of hand gestures. His hands twitch like someone who wants to move them except they’re occupied with a pen and notebook when he talks. When he has the paper on the paper, his free hand moves excitedly.
He notes that most of the dishes – cross that, all of the dishes Seokjin writes about are seafood based. “We could go see the beach or something. Incheon isn’t that far away.”
Seokjin stops. A look Yoongi can’t read crosses his face and Yoongi wonders if he messed up, but Seokjin carefully writes, [When I came here, I gave up a lot and put everything behind just so I can fulfill my dream. If I see the ocean again I don’t think I’d be able to stand it.]
Yoongi shrugs. “Cool with me. I don’t like the sea anyway. Also.. I get it. I used to live in Daegu. I gave that all up to come here, just so I could pursue music. So I get it. And I respect you for it.”
Seokjin blushes and he ducks his head, but Yoongi doesn’t miss the shy smile that spreads across his lips.
The more Yoongi gets to know Seokjin, the more he falls for him. It’s kind of alarming how fond he’s getting of Seokjin, someone who he really only got to know at most a month ago, but he feels like he’s known Seokjin for a long, long time.
Seokjin likes going on walks at the park, wandering with a bag of bread crumbs to feed to the animals. He talks to them, and Yoongi swears the chipmunks and sparrows all understand Seokjin. They tilt their heads to listen whenever Seokjin says something and sometimes even chatter back. But it’s not like Seokjin is a Disney princess or anything, so Yoongi just writes it off as coincidence.
He also learns that Seokjin used to enjoy singing before he lost his voice. [I wasn’t very good,] he scribbles hastily, a blush covering his cheeks like he’s made a mistake. [My little brother was a lot better. But he used to ask me to sing to him to sleep.]
Yoongi studies Seokjin’s face. “You miss him, huh?” Seokjin sighs and nods, rubbing his thumb along the edge of his notepad. “What was his name? How old was he?”
[Jungkook. He’s 5 years younger than I am.] Seokjin writes. [He has the prettiest singing voice. He’s talented at everything. I called him little Golden because of how good at everything he was. I loved him. A lot. I mean, I still do. I just miss him a lot.]
“Why don’t you just ask him to come see you? I get you don’t want to go back, but still.”
Seokjin shakes his head. [He can’t. It’s just not possible.]
There’s something about the way Seokjin looks while he writes it that makes Yoongi think he doesn’t mean that Jungkook can’t come to Seoul because it’s too far or because Jungkook is busy with school or something, and Yoongi frowns. It feels like Seokjin’s open about a lot of things, but he also keeps everything under a veil. Yoongi’s not exactly the most open person either, so he feels like it’s not fair for him to think Seokjin’s hiding something. But Seokjin gets this look like he wants to tell Yoongi something but can’t.
Seokjin sighs and raises his head. [Tell me about how you were as a kid.]
Yoongi shrugs. “I was just the same as I am now, really. But I assume you mean the accident I had.” Seokjin blushes a bit and ducks his head, and Yoongi shrugs again. “I don’t mind. I used to live in Daegu, but my grandparents lived in one of those fishing villages. I went there every summer. Apparently I used to go play on the beach every day. Every day, even if it was raining. I don’t remember anything about it, though. I have pictures of me there – with family, with friends, whatever. But I don’t remember anything. Everything related to the beach or the ocean is wiped clean.”
Seokjin looks like he doesn’t know what to say. He looks a little sad, and his grip on his pen tightens and loosens for a bit before he writes, [That must feel horrible.]
“Well, it’s not too bad. It’s normal, apparently. Since I had such a traumatic incident. I do remember one thing, though.” Seokjin looks curiously up at him. “I remember a color. It was the exact shade of your dye job.”
Seokjin’s hand reaches up to his hair. He looks surprised, which Yoongi doesn’t really blame him for. He manages to write, [Like my hair? Is that why you talked to me?]
Yoongi hums. “Hey, listen. I’m gonna be honest with you. About a week after you moved here, you were literally constantly in my head. So I talked to you. At first, maybe I noticed you because of your hair color and that fall is a pretty big event in my life. But now, to be honest, I don’t think of it at all.”
Seokjin nods slowly. He doesn’t look offended – just like he’s thinking. He carefully writes out something with his notebook facing him so Yoongi can’t see what he’s written right away. He looks at what he wrote, up at Yoongi, back down at his notebook, and then back up at Yoongi. His ears are flushed a bright red and he fumbles with the notebook, but he carefully flips the notebook so Yoongi can see. [I think about you a lot, too.] He ducks his head and he carefully uncovers a part of the notebook he was hiding with his hand. Written there, in small letters, is, [I like you.]
Yoongi stands, puts his hand over Seokjin’s words. He rubs the confession, feeling his chest swell, and links his fingers through Seokjin’s.
Dating Seokjin isn’t much different from what they’ve been doing, except he can’t stop smiling. “You’re a fucking sap, you know that?” Namjoon grumbles. “What happened to badass Yoongi? The one who used to glare at couples until they stopped holding hands?”
“Shut up.” Yoongi rolls his eyes and tweaks his newest track. Everything’s great. His music’s coming along beautifully, thanks to his silent muse. “You’re just annoyed you don’t have a muse like I do.”
Namjoon grumbles something under his breath but doesn’t say anything else, and Yoongi rolls his eyes again. He knows Namjoon has a point. He’s usually cynical and stoic. He doesn’t believe in love that lasts forever, or in love at first sight. He scoffs at fairy tales and princess stories. Even now, the cynical part of him expects the relationship to not last. The day will come, he still thinks, when the relationship will end and they’ll go their ways.
But it’s the first time he’s felt so happy about someone.
“I can’t believe you’re not going to tell your boyfriend about this event.” Namjoon sounds exasperated.
“Yeah, well, he doesn’t want to go back to the beach. I don’t want to make him feel like he’s obligated to go.” Yoongi has considered telling Seokjin about the performance, but in the end just decided not to. He doesn’t want Seokjin to feel like he has to go somewhere he doesn’t want to. He’d like it if Seokjin came to see him perform because it’s not everyday he really does. He’s more of a composer than a performer so he spends making more than he spends performing. But performances like this make him feel alive, and he’d like for Seokjin to see it.
Except it’s on a beach.
He’s not too keen about the idea either. Being that close to the ocean sits pretty high on his uncomfortableness meter, but he’s not going to freak out about it unless they put the stage in the water and make him fall in it or something, which they aren’t.
Namjoon rolls his eyes and jams his headphones over his head. “Whatever you say, dude.”
However, because Yoongi is an idiot who leaves things around, the next time Seokjin comes over to Yoongi’s house, he finds the envelope with the tickets lying on the couch. [What’s this?]
“Oh.” Yoongi frowns. “I forgot I left those there.” Seokjin stares at Yoongi until Yoongi sighs. “It’s a concert that I was invited to perform at. Tickets to the concert, but it’s.. in Incheon. By the beach.”
Seokjin’s expression dawns into understanding and he looks down at the tickets. He carefully writes, [But do you want me to go?]
Yoongi smiles and squeezes Seokjin’s hands. “No. There’ll be other times you can see me perform. I don’t want you to go back just for this. Trust me, there’ll be other times.”
Seokjin points out, [But this is the thing you talked about all the time.] Yoongi winces. He’s been kind of hoping Seokjin forgot that, but he guesses that was a hard call as Seokjin is one of those people who remembers even the smallest things. Also, Yoongi does talk about it pretty often. [I could go watch you. I mean, Incheon isn’t too far away… There’s supposed to be a storm on the day, too.]
Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “You know the weather for a date that’s a month and a half away?”
[I have a storm calendar that I look at when I get bored,] Seokjin explains, and flips the calendar app on his phone. Yoongi raises his eyebrow at it and Seokjin shrugs. [It’s a weird hobby, I know.] There’s a slight frown on his face. Yoongi waits until he writes carefully, [Are you going to be okay? On the beach in stormy weather?]
Yoong shrugs. “As long as they aren’t dropping me in the middle of the ocean, I should be fine. It’s a month and a half away, Seokjin. I’m sure that storm calendar is wrong. And even if there is one, it’ll be fine. It’s not like I’m gonna go waltzing into the ocean, you now. I’ll be gone for two days at most. You won’t even miss me.”
Seokjin sighs and looks worriedly down at the tickets and the pamphlet they come with. [You’ll be fine, right?]
The month flies by pretty quickly, and while Seokjin looks worried as Yoongi starts packing Namjoon’s car with their stuff, he only watches. “I’ll bring him back in one piece,” Namjoon grins at Seokjin, mock-saluting him. “There’s no reason to worry.”
“Look, the sky’s clear, too.” Yoongi points to the cloudless skies above them. The weather forecast had also said the weekend was going to be sunny.
[No, a storm’s coming,] Seokjin writes with a sigh. [Just be careful, okay?] He tucks his notebook under his arm and starts worriedly rubbing the scale pendant he has around his neck. He looks more worried than Yoongi thinks makes logical sense, so he reaches over to squeeze Seokjin’s hand.
He smiles reassuringly at him before sliding into Namjoon’s car. “I’ll keep texting you so you aren’t worrying the entire day. But I swear, Seokjin, you’ve got no reason to worry.”
“Looks like Seokjin might’ve been right,” Namjoon says, and Yoongi follows his gaze out the tents that the artists are preparing in. The sky is turning gray over their heads, and Yoongi frowns at the wind that whips around at the trees. “Man, I need to get a hold of that app he’s using. It told him about this months ago?”
Yoongi frowns. “Is the stage going to be all right?”
“I think they’re looking into it right now.” Namjoon shrugs. “Maybe they’ll postpone it if it’s too rainy.”
Yoongi somehow doubts that. These concerts cost way too much money to be just delayed, not to mention it’s going to be a headache trying to refund and redo tickets. He looks back when someone asks if they can enter, and Namjoon yells to come in. “Hey, Yoongi,” one of the staff says, “I’ve someone here with your invitational tickets, and uh.. I mean. He can’t talk, but I figured I should check with you if you really did know him..”
Yoongi’s eyes widen. “Seokjin?”
“That’s what he said his name was -Wait, so you do know him?” The staff sighs. “Damn. Hang on, lemme go let him in. I thought he was some fanboy who managed to get your invitational tickets because I never saw him around you.”
“No, I’ll go get him.” Yoongi rushes out the makeshift tents holding the artists to find Seokjin bundled up a windbreaker. He looks nervous but his face lights up when he sees Yoongi. “Hey, what are you doing here?
Seokjin writes, [I was worried about you. The storm.]
Yoongi glances up at the skies again. Without the other tents in the way, the sky does look pretty bad. “I’m not scared of storms, you know.” He jerks his head to the ocean. They’re far enough up on the beach that the waves, even when they’re getting a little rough, can just barely be seen over the expanse of the sand. “I’ll be fine. You didn’t have to come over.”
[It’s okay.] Seokjin smiles, but he looks worried. [I wanted to watch you perform, anyway.] He’s fumbling with the scale necklace around his neck and he bites his lip. He hands Yoongi his notebook and Yoongi takes it, watching curiously as Seokjin fumbles with the necklace. Seokjin hesitates before cautiously offering it to Yoongi.
Yoogi takes it. “Your necklace?” He hands Seokjin’s notebook back and watches Seokjin scrawl quickly.
[It’s like my good luck charm. I know it’s dumb but it’d just make me feel better if you had it.] Seokjin’s blushing but Yoongi just laughs and wraps it around his wrist, clasping the ends tightly so it won’t slip off. Seokjin smiles and fans his face with the notebook like that’s going to get the blush off his cheeks. He pauses and writes, [Thanks for indulging me.]
“Hey, it’s nothing.” Yoongi reaches to squeeze Seokjin’s hand and Seokjin beams at him.
“I’m STILL HERE!” Namjoon yells, tossing a pen in their direction, and Seokjin dissolves into a fit of giggles.
The storm doesn’t hit while Yoongi is performing, and he counts that as a win. Seokjin is beaming at him from under the stage and Yoongi is a little distracted by that, but he manages not to fuck up. He texts Seokjin, [How was I?]
[Oh my God, aosdifjaiosdfjaosdf?!] is what Yoongi gets in reply and he grins, and Namjoon punches his arm. Yoongi grins at the mass of excited texts from Seokjin and he draws away from the crowd a little. Seokjin’s waiting for him near the stages, and when he spots Yoongi he beams. The sand must get in his sneakers when he runs, but Seokjin seems to play no heed as he bounces up to Yoongi.
Yoongi takes his hand and smiles. “You liked it that much?”
Yoongi has to let go of Seokjin’s hand so Seokjin can write, but watching Seokjin smile as he writes on his notebook is good enough. [I don’t regret coming here, that’s for sure.] Seokjin giggles silently, his shoulders shaking as he hides his mouth behind his hands, and Yoongi can’t help but smile back. [The storm’s on its way, though. Do you have to stay?]
“Yeah, I’ve got the afterparty. You should come.” Seokjin looks unsure, but nods uncertainly anyway, gripping onto his notebook. “It’ll be fine. It’s inside.” Seokjin giggles a little at that again and looks a little more at ease. They make their way back to the boardwalk and Yoongi notices Seokjin’s determinedly not looking at the beach behind them.
He glances behind them at the angry waves and suppresses the shudder creeping up his spine. He doesn’t exactly blame Seokjin.
Seokjin looks antsy during the entire afterparty, and Yoongi can’t figure out if it’s because he doesn’t like parties or it’s because he’s so close to the ocean. “Do you want to leave? We can go back home as soon as the storm dies down. Who knew it’d get this bad, seriously?”
Seokjin smiles uncertainly. [Yeah,] is all he writes, and his hand fidgets nervously, drumming uneven rhythms on the sides of his notebook.
Yoongi squeezes his hands, smiling in what he hopes is a reassuring way. Seokjin smiles exasperatedly back and squeezes his hands back, and nods toward someone who’s calling Yoongi over. “You’ll be okay by yourself?”
Seokjin rolls his eyes in reply and picks up his notebook. Seokjin finds Namjoon quite easily and Namjoon tugs him along, excitedly introducing him to their friends. Yoongi turns to the man calling him and rolls his eyes. “Wonsik, you know I quit smoking.”
“I actually didn’t know that.” Wonsik snorts, throwing a window open. “Let’s go into the balcony. It’s got a roof thing, and the last time I checked, not much rain is getting on it. Wind blowing the opposite way.”
Yoongi scowls when they reach said balcony. “This is not much rain? The wind is definitely blowing this way.”
“Yoongi, you’re a smoker. Or used to be. Since when do we let these things stop us?” Wonsik snickers, and Yoongi sighs but can’t disagree. They lean up against the railing, their backs to the wind. “Your boyfriend is cute. He smiles at everyone. Literally everyone. And he tries to write really fast on his notebook so he can talk to people. He’s kind of endearing.” They stand in silence for a bit and Wonsik considers his cigarette. “Man, I really gotta quit. Taekwoon’s been trying to get me to quit, and I’ve been cutting down, but you know.”
Yoongi snorts. “Yeah. Give me one.”
Wonsik snickers and offers Yoongi a cigarette. “Hey, nice bracelet.”
“Oh.” Yoongi pauses with the cigarette halfway out of the carton. “Oh, it’s Seokjin’s. He wanted me to have it for good luck today. I should give it back.” He unwraps the string off his wrist and looks up to look for Seokjin.
Until the wind whips it out of his hands. Yoongi isn’t quite thinking as he whips around into the rain, thinking, oh shit, that’s important to Seokjin, and he dives for it. It’s not until he’s got the necklace clutched in his hands that he realizes he’s halfway past the railing. He hears Wonsik yell Yoongi! before he plummets.
The water is cold. It’s so cold that it hurts and every time Yoongi tries to surface, waves crash over him and there is so much rain that Yoongi feels like he’s drowning anyway.
He remembers the terror he felt, so long ago, the pain of icy cold water as it fills it lungs. It’s the same, he realizes – the cold, the terror.
The flash of maroon before his world goes black.
Yoongi comes to coughing violently, and his body on reflex twists before he throws up a stomach full of salt water. There’s a hand on his back that rubs circles on his back, but he doesn’t quite register it until he lifts his head, spitting the last of bile onto the sand. “..Seokjin.”
“Hey,” Seokjin smiles. He looks sad. “You’re going to be fine.”
“Holy shit, what the fuck happened?” Yoongi coughs more, wincing. His entire body hurts. “I fell into the water I think, and then-“ Yoongi freezes, blinks, and hits the side of his head. He squeezes his eyes shut and repeats the process, and he can’t help but flinch. “Wait, you talked.”
Seokjin sighs. “Yeah, I did, didn’t I?” He squeezes Yoongi’s hand. “That’s the only thing you noticed?”
Yoongi blinks, and Seokjin sighs as he points down to his lap. Yoongi’s eyes fall and he pulls back. “What the – what the fuck.”
In place of what was Seokjin’s legs is now a giant fin. Shimmering, scales glittering in the shade of maroon that’s Seokjin’s hair. And the one in his memory. “I know it’s a lot to take in.” Seokjin whispers, drumming his fingers nervously together. “Please listen.”
Yoongi stares at the fin. “You rescued me. When I was young. There was a merman.”
Seokjin bites his lip. “I did. I know you won’t remember – I was told there was no magic involved and that it really was just a tragedy. But we knew each other, you know. A long ago. When we were both children and – before your accident, you’d always come to the beach. Every summer, every winter. Your parents and grandparents would wonder why you’d go by yourself, but it was because of me. We were so, so close. I loved you, I think. Even though we were so little, and I couldn’t stand not seeing you after you never came back. So I made a deal with a witch and… I gave up my voice and my fins for legs. And a life up here, on land. Jungkook hated it, you know. He sent that seagull to try to come get me back.” Seokjin offers Yoongi a small smile. “But now it’s done.”
Yoongi runs a hand through his hair. “Okay, no. Listen, you can get legs back, right? Or maybe I could get a fin? Or – I mean, if neither of those work, then we could still make this work, you know. I’ll move to the seaside, we can see each other every day-“
Seokjin shakes his head, “Yoongi, no. Look.” Seokjin takes a shuddered breath as he motions to his fin. Yoongi looks back down, and at first he can’t quite see what Seokjin’s talking about, but his breath catches in his throat when he notices Seokjin’s fin is dissipating into white foam that washes away every time the waves lap at Seokjin. “I had 5 months up here. I thought I could fight it, and the witch told me it was going to be either me or you, after that. But I thought I could fight it. That’s why I never came back to the sea, you know. Like the fairytale. She won. But…” Seokjin winces, “I thought I could avoid it. She tried to take you and I couldn’t let that happen.”
“Oh god, if I didn’t – if I didn’t dive after the necklace-“
“Yoongi, it’s not your fault. It’s mine. I was stupid and naïve.” Seokjin smiles sadly at Yoongi. “But I – I was really happy. I don’t regret it. Don’t blame yourself, okay? This was all my doing. I couldn’t handle not seeing you and look, here I am. It’s okay.”
Seokjin slumps and Yoongi grabs him, panicking when he sees that Seokjin’s getting more and more washed away. He tries to drag Seokjin away from the lapping waves, but they reach higher and higher. “Fuck, it’s not – it’s not okay. I don’t – I love you.”
Seokjin only smiles and his head falls on Yoongi’s chest. He drops his necklace on Yoongi’s hand, carefully smoothing his finger along Yoongi’s rough knuckles, and sighs. “I know,” he whispers. “And me too.”
And just like that, a wave comes over Yoongi, crashing just over his front. Yoongi coughs and tries to grip at the water but by the time the wave’s receded, there’s nothing on his lap but seafoam. He shivers and squeezes his eyes shut, but a soft whistle makes him look up.
There’s someone in the water, glaring intently at him. He dives back into the water, and Yoongi sees a glimpse of blue scales before the man surfaces back up.
“You’re a merman,” Yoongi says, a little stupidly. His clothes are soaked through with seafoam. Some of it still cling to him like a desperate attempt to stay with him for as long as possible and he chokes on his breath. “Jungkook?”
“He talked to you about me,” the blue-tailed merman says softly. His tail laps at the waves and he runs his fingers through the remainder of the seafoam on the sand. He holds his hand out, and Yoongi stares. “The necklace. I’ll take it. He wanted me to come erase your memories of him, so you wouldn’t suffer from this. It was his failsafe. He didn’t want you hurt in any way.”
It’s an automatic response for Yoongi to pull back, but he can’t close his fingers around it. The scale sparkles in the sunlight, in the exact shade it’s always been in Yoongi’s clouded memories. “I loved him. I’ll… keep it.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Jungkook whispers. “Yes, you did love him. And he loved you. That’s why he did it, you know.” He looks up when he hears people. “I’ve.. got to go. Take good care of it.” He nods at the scale. “I’m giving it to you when I myself have nothing to remember him by. He wanted you never to be hurt, but he’d hate it if you forgot him.”
Yoongi watches the merman disappear under the waves. Namjoon grabs him, yelling in his ear about something he can’t understand and something about how it was miraculous he survived the fall. He chokes at the word miracle and he grips his fingers around the scale.
He lives the next few weeks in a daze. He rarely comes out of the house and doesn’t touch his music. The songs that used to flow beautifully from his head have all silenced themselves. The scale that he keeps with him instead fill his world with the noisy chatter of the animals around him. The fish in Seokjin’s apartment tell him how much Seokjin talked about Yoongi, how happy he got, and how the seagull that broke in the apartment was one of Seokjin’s father’s servants demanding he come back.
Things fall into place. The way Seokjin loved the sea but couldn’t go back. The way he ate nothing but seafood, the way he never knew how to fix a screen, the way he seemed like he always wanted to tell Yoongi everything but couldn’t. No one remembers Seokjin. His apartment is still filled with his furniture, but no one remembers him. Not Namjoon. Not Wonsik. Yoongi returns the fish to the pet store.
Yoongi finds himself back at the cliff where everything started. No, he thinks. It started when they met, as little boy and little merman, curious about each other and unafraid of barriers. He steps past the badly fixed railing and sits at the edge, letting his legs hang off the end. The waves crash angrily against the bottom of the cliff, splashing white seafoam against the jagged rocks below.
People had called his survival a miracle. He’d missed all the rocks and hadn’t even drowned. But that had been Seokjin carefully pulling him through the angry waves, steering him smoothly around sharp rocks. And now Seokjin…
Yoongi stands at the very edge of the cliff, and his fingers close carefully around the scale hanging around his neck. He’s pretty sure it isn’t his imagination that seafoam calms the waves below. He closes his eyes and takes a step forward.