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the nights really were made for saying things you can't say tomorrow day

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in the dead of night, jungkook’s eyes are wide open. the ceiling has never looked uglier, but it’s better than staring through window blinds and watching flickering lamplights.

he’s learned to dread the moment when night changes to day – to dread catching the moment where bleak black sky turns into sullen grey – so that he can finally resign himself to being conscious until dawn. the thing is, he’s hyper-aware of everything that’s wrong. without sleep, the body aches bone-deep like it’s been hollowed and filled with sand, and jungkook has been in this position for hours, arms folded across his chest like a corpse, legs soldier-straight.

namjoon is snoring in the bed next to him, but he’s always been able to tune it out easily. what’s unbearable is the silence around him as his brain thinks as loud as possible.

if jungkook doesn’t move soon, he’ll go crazy.

everyone else is asleep; maybe he’ll find peace in a change of scenery. so jungkook carefully gathers up his courage and tiptoes out of the room, making a beeline for the common area. he thinks he’s safe, treading lightly into the living room, and lets his shoulders drop in relief. moonlight filters in and casts silver over this colorless realm. (that would make a really good line in a song, his mind interjects.) maybe this is the world he’ll have to resign himself to, now that he’s suddenly developed some kind of insomnia.

click.

a corner of the living room floods with color, and he can see his shadow very clearly against the wall. he freezes, caught.

“jungkook-ah, why are you awake? it’s three.”

jungkook slowly turns around. yoongi is sitting at the dinner table, hand raised to the wall and thumb on the light-switch. he has a pen and notepad before him. he also has an unreadable expression, and jungkook stares at him nervously.

yoongi notices his silence and sighs. “i’m not really in a position to scold you,” he deadpans, gesturing to himself at large. “just concerned. you couldn’t fall asleep?”

“yeah,” jungkook says quietly. he shuffles his feet.

yoongi regards him curiously while he inwardly shrivels up from the awkwardness. the likeliest chain of events is that hyung will tell him to go back to his room, letting him suffer through the rest of the night. it would be the best thing to do; jungkook could catch a cold out here (fools don’t catch colds, seokjin said to him once), and with sleep deprivation, his immune system’s compromised. additionally, namjoon would worry in the morning when he finds that jungkook is missing from the room.

still, jungkook already knows the constellation of imperfections on the ceiling like the back of his hand. the idea of having to go back makes his heart heavy.

in a rare turn of events, yoongi pats the spot next to him and finally says, “come sit down.”

jungkook doesn’t look gift horses in the mouth. he maneuvers over gratefully and tucks his legs under the table, awkwardly flattening his palms against his thighs. yoongi goes back to his notepad, pen in hand, tracing words with spindly fingers, and they sit in the quiet of the early am. 

except it’s not entirely quiet, because jungkook can hear the clock ticking and because his brain wouldn’t shut up in the first place, it is now helpfully supplying the information that yoongi must be letting him stay here so that he can feel how awkward it is and go back to his room without protest.

but at the same time, if it’s not like that, even if he were to go back to the room now, it’d be awkward as hell because wouldn’t that imply that he’s not comfortable around his hyung? and this hyung is particularly perceptive yet not easily rubbed the wrong way, but he’s the last person jungkook wants to offend successfully.

should’ve stayed in the room, jungkook thinks regretfully, ten minutes later, wanting to die, throat parched. he swallows, about to speak, about to consign himself to his fate, ready to spend the rest of the night awake and repentant back in his own bed, but yoongi looks up at him and silently gets to his feet before jungkook can say anything. he pads into the kitchen.

he returns moments later with a water bottle and sidles over to the light switch.

“grab my stuff,” yoongi orders, turning the light off. “it’ll be more comfortable sitting on the couch.”

maybe yoongi could feel how awkward it was too. jungkook stands, relieved, and shuffles over to the couch, sitting in the shadows bounded by the moonlight. his hyung sits a few inches away and quietly hands him the water bottle.

jungkook takes a few sips before putting the bottle on the coffee table. he lets himself relax, and the couch gives under his weight. his body melts against the cushions, his head lolls back, and he becomes boneless. “thanks, hyung,” he whispers.

there’s warmth radiating from yoongi, a homely kind of warmth that only comes from peaceful company. yoongi hums. the scritch-scratch of pen on paper almost lulls jungkook into sleep as his breathing slows to yoongi’s pace.

jungkook’s brain, though, suddenly decides to remember that he’s actually never stayed up this late with yoongi in such an intimate setting. it’s not that he and yoongi are distant; it’s just that the other members are always around, or they stay a little closer to the people around their age. (the fans even have them in the hyung line and maknae line.) but the two of them have a good relationship, and jungkook notices quirks about yoongi like he does for all the members. jungkook is introverted and yoongi is introverted, and the two of them can enjoy a calm, comfortable silence together when the other members are loud. in the pre-debut and debut days, jungkook was probably most comfortable with yoongi, because he was shy as hell, but yoongi was unapologetically himself, and the calmness of yoongi, along with his ability to get along with others, gave him hope.

and yoongi took jungkook out for lamb skewers once, just the two of them. it was some time ago, but yoongi said it was nice during a radio show they did, like fathers buying sons food. jungkook really only remembers stuffing his face and savoring the taste. he never knew yoongi had those feelings of pride, watching him eat – and watching him grow up and grow taller, even, as bangtan flourished. he wonders if he should’ve been more emotionally present.

and now he’s wide awake. he sighs and shifts on the couch, feeling a little guilty.

it must be around four now. he wonders if yoongi is waiting for him to fall asleep so that he can sleep too.

“jungkook,” yoongi says softly. “are you awake?”

“yes,” he whispers back. “sorry.”

“it’s fine.”

“you’re not tired, hyung?”

from where jungkook’s head is, he’s actually staring up at yoongi. and for the first time, he’s really looking at the older boy. it’s ethereal.

the moon truly favors min yoongi. it dusts soft shadows over his fair face, and there is a sharp contour on the column of his neck, under his jaw, over his cheekbone. it’s the kind of beauty that slowly blinds, and jungkook tries not to look away as yoongi turns splendent under lunar light.

“i’m not sleeping before i make this work,” yoongi tells him. he’s glowering at the notepad, flipping through it absentmindedly. “the delivery isn’t right or the beat or the words or some other shit.”

the metacarpals under his near-translucent skin shift, tense, and jungkook sucks in a breath.

jungkook has always thought that while yoongi works hard with dancing and singing and promotions, rap and lyric writing just come naturally. it’ll be in the dressing room, or during dinner, or in a shower and yoongi, if he’s not asleep, will be struck with inspiration. he’ll wait until everyone’s finished and he’ll pull hoseok and namjoon aside, wildly gesticulating, whispering lines, eyes glowing, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he lines out a verse that he wants to use.

logically, jungkook knows there’s such a thing as feeling uninspired, that writer’s block is possible, because he himself feels it often. it’s just odd to see yoongi like this when his default mode seems to be the trademark rapper confidence, when jungkook can only remember the times yoongi is in the creative zone.

with this revelation, jungkook wants to help. he’s just not sure how.

“can i listen to it?” he asks, curiously, before he realizes he might be overstepping.

yoongi turns to him, face genuinely blank, caught off-guard. then he bites his bottom lip and taps his pen against his knee, like he’s considering it.

jungkook opens his mouth – to formally rescind his statement or apologize or something – but then yoongi begins on the cusp of a shallow breath, cutting the tone low and furious.

“left me for dead in a castle that we built together with our fistfuls of sand,” he raps. and then his voice goes deadly, scarily soft. “i’ll never trust again, never be the same again; this crazy destiny as a red string bleeds me until my eyes are dry...”

--

jungkook wakes up to the sound of pots and pans clattering in the kitchen, cocooned in a blanket that probably isn’t his. (the scent is different.)

everything that is his, though – his body, his mind – aches in the wells of the millions of cells in his being. at least he managed to fall asleep, but he can’t remember when. the weirdest thing is that he had a pretty vivid dream, but the memory was blown to bits when he tried to chase the thought. it was about something important, and it was about yoongi.

he sits up and looks over the top of the couch.

“hyung?” he croaks, but yoongi is nowhere in sight.

instead, jin pops his head out from the kitchen. “finally awake, jungkook?” he greets. “you shouldn’t sleep outside, you know.”

jungkook opens his mouth to explain, but the words don’t come. he pulls the blanket tighter around him, and it feels like a hug.

(he knows who the blanket belongs to.)

“sorry, hyung, i accidentally fell asleep,” jungkook says and quietly shuffles out of the living room.

--

jungkook and yoongi exchange brief looks as the members wait for their ride arrive.

yoongi looks like how he always does after breakfast, like he’s regretting being conscious but trying desperately to find the willpower to stay that way. there are circles under his eyes (there must’ve always been) but last night, jungkook couldn’t remember seeing them. he wants to say something about the blanket, but then the van pulls up to the curb, and taehyung’s gently pushing him forward.

when everyone gets in, the arrangement is like this: maknae line in the back, hoseok, rapmon, and jin in the second row, and yoongi in the front with the manager. jungkook can barely see yoongi through the rearview mirror. from behind, it looks like he’s dozing off, head pressed against the window, one earbud hanging out of his ear.

“jungkookie,” jimin says next to him. “you look tired. stayed up late again?”

“i look like this every day,” jungkook says inattentively, because he’s thinking. yoongi stays up the most out of all the members, so him sleeping occasionally isn’t too unusual, but jungkook somehow feels responsible.

taehyung presses the pads of his fingers right under jungkook’s eyes, startling him. “you should sleep well and stay healthy,” he says seriously, tugging his fingers down. “or your skin will melt away.”

“i’m really okay.” jungkook tries to shift away, but jimin on the other side pats his hand.

“and then you’ll turn into yoongi hyung,” jimin says seriously.

jungkook glances toward yoongi in the shotgun seat and wonders if he heard, but there’s no movement.

in the front, namjoon snorts.

--

the makeup noona really has to cake on the concealer to hide away the dark circles under jungkook’s eyes.

it gives him time to think – since his brain isn’t going to give him a break – so he remembers how his mother used to tell him about people in the news who didn’t get enough sleep and how they died of heart attacks. jungkook doesn’t think he’ll die, but when he stayed up late before, he always had it under control, could replenish the sleep debt. now it’s like his body is rejecting his attempts to make amends, and that’s scary as hell. being able to recall fuzzily that yoongi was rapping softly when he fell asleep last night reassures him.

“ok, you’re good, jungkook-ssi,” the noona says.

he thanks her and lifts himself out of the chair, scanning the dressing room to find an open spot to rest his aching body before they go on air.

most of his hyungs are still in makeup chairs, except namjoon, who’s standing with his phone in hand, and yoongi, who’s on the couch asleep again. jungkook thinks that maybe in yoongi’s presence, he might be able to nap for a little while. it’s probably a long shot, but he makes his way over to yoongi anyway and sits down, mimicking his position, closing his eyes.

--

jungkook remembers the dream from before because it wasn’t a dream. it was a half-conscious memory.

he fell asleep on yoongi’s shoulder – even drooled a little. yoongi settled him down onto the couch and went to grab the blanket, and that’s when jungkook stirred.

when yoongi came back, he spread it across jungkook’s body and then gazed at him softly.

“go back to sleep, jungkook-ah,” he said, and jungkook’s eyes closed again.

--

nightfall hits, and jungkook, the last person to shower, reluctantly exits from the bathroom when it’s around one. they got home late after the performance, and jungkook barely managed to survive the broadcast and the car ride home, feeling feverish and feeling needles and pins prickling in every pore in his body. he should go to his room and try (in vain) to sleep, but the curiosity to see if yoongi is in the common area again is too strong and the desire to avoid his bed and the sleepless night as long as possible is even stronger, so he goes to the end of the hallway and peeks.

yoongi’s sitting on the couch, alone, head bent forward. he might be asleep. it’s the perfect chance for jungkook to return the blanket, so he quickly slips into his own room to retrieve it.

when he returns, yoongi’s changed position, but his breathing is so quiet that jungkook assumes he’s still unconscious. jungkook circles around the couch, blanket tucked in his arms, but yoongi’s head abruptly swivels toward him.

wide awake. his eyes are clear and contemplative. maybe he hadn’t been asleep at all.

“h-hey, hyung,” jungkook blurts, blinking.

yoongi’s gaze zeroes in on the blanket. “it’s not good to stay up late, you know.”

“yeah,” jungkook agrees.

he still stands there awkwardly with the blanket. they stare at each other.

yoongi raises a brow. “are you trying to sleep on the couch again?”

“no, i’m – “ jungkook has to look a little to the left because his hyung’s gaze is so intense. “i wanted to return the blanket. and say sorry.”

“for what?”

“you stayed up really late, didn’t you?”

yoongi shrugs. “it’s normal for me.”

“you slept a lot today though,” jungkook points out.

“we performed today,” yoongi returns, amused. “and jungkook-ah, you don’t have to worry about that. i’ve pretty much screwed up my circadian rhythm since i was a trainee.”

“okay.” jungkook can’t help but worry, but he decides not to pursue the topic. he shifts the blanket in his arms before holding it out. “thanks for the blanket, hyung.”

“will you be able to fall asleep?” yoongi asks, concerned, taking the blanket. his fingers touch jungkook’s arm, and eyebrows raising in faint alarm, he tugs jungkook down a little to press a palm against his forehead. the blanket falls to the floor. “you’re feverish.”

“i’m not sick,” jungkook says quickly.

yoongi gives him a knowing look. “it happens when you stay up late and exert yourself on top of that,” he informs jungkook. “you have to sleep.”

jungkook can’t sleep, but yoongi probably doesn’t know that, probably thinks that him staying up late was a one-time thing. he doesn’t want to say anything to inconvenience his hyung, but yoongi practically rapped him to sleep last night. he wonders if yoongi would be willing to do it again or if he’ll dismiss jungkook with a weirded-out face.

“i can’t fall asleep anymore. i haven’t slept well for a while,” jungkook admits quietly, finally giving into the discomfort in every inch of his flesh. he wants rest. he looks at his hyung meaningfully, hopefully, too embarrassed to explain.

the realization dawns on yoongi’s face, and jungkook is a little mortified but somehow manages to resist the urge to run away.

“my rap helps you sleep,” yoongi fills in for him, sounding done. “are you serious?”

he wishes he weren’t, because it’s exactly as embarrassing in his head as it is out in the air, but he gives yoongi a small nod.

“ok,” yoongi says slowly. “ok.”

he pulls jungkook down onto the couch and gets the blanket, throwing it across jungkook’s shoulders.

“all radio djs have to start somewhere,” he sighs, but he doesn’t sound put-upon. his voice is actually quite gentle. “any special requests?”

--

yoongi isn’t there when jungkook wakes up, which is expected. he is once again cocooned in yoongi’s warm blanket, and this time, namjoon’s the one who catches him outside in the living room.

“is it my snoring?” namjoon asks, worried. “seokjin hyung told me you were sleeping out here yesterday too.”

“hyung, no, no, it wouldn’t suddenly be because of your snoring,” jungkook says, trying to reassure him. “i just fell asleep outside because i had a lot of work to finish.”

he feels bad for lying, but he doesn’t want to reveal his sleeping problems to any more members. namjoon gives him a skeptical look because he no doubt remembers seeing jungkook’s computer in their room, meaning not the living room. jungkook didn’t think that one through, so he scrambles for purchase.

“i wanted to be closer to the moonlight,” he says. “so i can get inspiration for lyrics.”

somehow, this is the type of explanation that namjoon actually believes, because he pats jungkook’s back, looking proud and encouraging, and says to jungkook that he can come by any time to the studio to hang out, watch producers work, watch yoongi and hoseok and him write their raps – but not today, because they actually have to talk to p-dogg and slow rabbit about some stuff. jungkook nods, and namjoon squeezes his shoulder and heads out.

jungkook resolves to set an alarm for before any of his hyungs wake up.

--

after a good dinner outside of the dorm, normally jungkook would be the type to race jimin and taehyung up the sidewalk or avoid the cracks like the devil. this time, he falls back until he’s in the vanguard with yoongi, who ambles along and gazes at the streets and the skies.

“hey, yoongi hyung.”

i wanted to be closer to the moonlight, so i can get inspiration for lyrics,” yoongi quotes him without preamble, teasing. he’s looking past jungkook’s face, probably at a coffee shop sign, before his gaze flickers elsewhere. “namjoon actually bought it.”

jungkook’s only a little embarrassed. “i do want to start writing though,” he protests. “i’ve got some ideas.”

“yeah?” yoongi says, inclining his head towards him, and their eyes meet unexpectedly.

jungkook straightens up in reflex.

“you should come by the studio more often,” yoongi tells him. “it’s peaceful and quiet too. you’d like it.”

--

jungkook does like it. he enters the studio and the acoustics are fantastic. even the sound of him walking is crisp and clear. yoongi looks surprised, but pleasantly so, when he realizes it’s jungkook who’s come in.

“it’s really peaceful,” jungkook says.

yoongi smiles, in his element. “pull up a chair. i’ll show you some tracks.”

.

.

.

the next thing jungkook remembers is waking up in the chair. yoongi’s shaking his shoulder gently.

“sorry,” jungkook says, yawning.

his body is significantly less sore than it has been in the past week, even though he fell asleep in a chair, and he has no intention of getting up. it’s comfortable.

and then he looks at the time and gapes.

“oh, i’m really sorry,” he repeats, turning to stare at yoongi. “it’s been two hours?”

yoongi nods. “you look like you needed the sleep,” he offers. “and dinner’s ready. namjoon just texted me. time to go back to the dorm.”

they stay there for a little longer, though, because jungkook’s body protests when he tries to move. yoongi stays with him, patting his wrist.

--

jungkook wonders if it’s yoongi’s rap or his presence that helps jungkook sleep, but he doesn’t bother to distinguish. in dressing rooms, he’ll plop down near yoongi and wait patiently for broadcast. whenever their van pulls up, he glances at yoongi, and yoongi just shrugs and gets into the back rows (even though he likes the shotgun space) so that jungkook can sit next to him, and then the both of them doze off together.

it’s something new to the members, but they don’t say anything.

jungkook thinks that they’re becoming closer. even if it’s because of his reliance on yoongi to help him sleep and not die, he thinks it’s a good thing. yoongi responds more to the other members’ quips, especially jimin – he really mercilessly teases jimin – as jungkook watches from his side.

--

at night, the things they don’t say to each other during the day come out.

“the choreography was especially rough today,” yoongi sighs when they take their places on the couch. “i might die.”

"you don't stretch enough, hyung," jungkook points out.

"you know i'm not flexible, right?"

he smiles because he definitely knows. "i can help you stretch tomorrow? if you want."

yoongi gives him an unreadable expression, and jungkook wonders if he's said something weird, but then he shrugs with a hesitant "okay."

--

“are you actually helping me stretch or is this just a really bad massage?” yoongi asks dubiously, watching jungkook knead his shoulders in the studio mirror.

“relax your shoulders and lean forward,” jungkook says. “they’re really tense.”

"ow, ow, ow - that hurts, jeon jungkook," yoongi yelps as jungkook pushes down between his shoulder blades. "i'll get you for this later."

"turn onto your back, hyung. raise your right leg," jungkook orders.

yoongi reluctantly turns over. jimin and hoseok are over on the side, watching curiously, as jungkook pushes yoongi's extended leg as far as it will go. yoongi groans and swears under his breath, and jungkook's face feels a little hot from the sounds he's making, but he pushes on.

"park jimin," yoongi warns, grimacing, as jimin approaches. "hoseok, not you too."

hoseok holds his hands up in peace, laughing. "this is a first, hyung."

"need help, jungkookie?" jimin says innocently.

"his other leg," jungkook says, and yoongi shoots him a dark look as jimin comes over to his left.

and that's exactly why, three minutes later, the three kim's walk in and see yoongi bodily dragging jungkook and jimin along with his hand on both of their collars, like they’re misbehaving puppies. he’s trailing after hoseok intently like a hunter.

"yoongi?" seokjin asks, trying not to laugh. "what's going on?"

"stretching," yoongi says, ambling over to them as hoseok giggles and sneaks behind taehyung. taehyung looks so confused, but he's smiling, glancing at jungkook who's unusually pliant under yoongi's hold. 

"taetae, help us," jimin begs.

yoongi arches an eyebrow at taehyung, and taehyung stays stock still, looking apologetically at jimin. "sorry, jiminie," he says. "i'm too young to die."

"it looks like you brought this on yourselves," namjoon says sagely, beginning his own odd ritual of stretching with seokjin. "you know yoongi hyung's not flexible, right?"

“hyung," jimin says quickly, breaking free of yoongi's hold. "we'll help you stretch."

hoseok joins in, pulling taehyung along. "yeah, let's go, dance monster, jin hyung!"

yoongi releases jungkook to let him join in, but he still lingers around, watching yoongi's expression. he wonders if yoongi is mad, but the small smile on the other's face is enough to tell him otherwise. he looks more relaxed than he has in the past few weeks. jungkook admires the way he stands a little taller, arms akimbo, gazing fondly on the other members. he really doesn’t like to be obvious about it, jungkook muses.

now, yoongi is looking back at him, and that's when he realizes he’s been looking for a little too long.

"you're staring, jungkook," yoongi says. there's something weird in his voice under the playfulness. "go stretch or you'll be sore."

"i know that!" jungkook protests and goes off to stretch by himself. his heart beats a little harder, but he doesn’t know why, so he ignores it.

--

(it’s only a few weeks later that jungkook comes to the realization.)

“i rap in our songs. you could’ve just listened to them or to my parts on loop or something,” yoongi mock-complains, groaning. “why didn’t you think of that? why didn’t i think of that?”

“it’s because you don’t sleep enough,” jungkook replies cheekily. “and it’s just not the same.”

yoongi rolls his eyes. “yeah, it’s my presence that knocks you out, right? jimin kindly informed me that i’ve somehow corrupted you with sleepiness because you’re always around me now.”

“i like being around you,” jungkook says, voice dead-serious. his face is another story. “don’t you like my company too, hyung?”

“stop being greasy,” yoongi says, avoiding the question, but he sounds pleased.

he throws an arm around jungkook, though, palm warm against jungkook’s shoulder, and that’s when jungkook knows something’s changed.

--

“it’s not too bad,” yoongi admits quietly, when he thinks jungkook is asleep.

--

on one radio show, the mc tells bangtan to reveal something embarrassing about the person next to them.

“suga hyung sleeps everywhere,” jungkook says thoughtfully. but it has to be embarrassing, so he adds, “ so he’s probably fallen asleep on the toilet once.”

“rap monster doesn’t wipe his back after he showers,” yoongi says, but he’s side-eying jungkook with a dangerous smirk, and jungkook looks back, challenging.

later, when that particular segment finishes with jin saying “v talks to himself, even when there are other people around,” yoongi whispers so that only jungkook can hear: “jeon jungkookie once drooled so much on my shoulder that part of my shirt was soaked,” and jungkook splutters and tries to cover it up with coughs, face turning red. the other members turn to look at him questioningly, and yoongi leans back in his seat, composed, face blank and innocent, hands steepled under his chin.

jimin hands him his water bottle, and jungkook gratefully takes a few sips, fanning his face, as yoongi gives him a secret smile.

--

after a different broadcast:

“are you trying to tell me something?” yoongi asks, amused. “let’s go eat lamb skewers. you only mentioned it about ten times today.”

.

.

.

eating with yoongi is a profound experience. they both bring pens and pads, and though yoongi starts writing immediately, jungkook sits there, staring at him, tracing his form, committing everything to memory. they haven’t eaten alone together since last year.

(he doesn't know why he thinks this, but in another world, this might’ve been a date.)

he takes out his phone to take a picture of yoongi eating, and like he expected, it’s unflattering, and he snorts. yoongi looks up at the flash with his cheeks stuffed and mouth full, and rolls his eyes while he insistently pushes the plate of lamb skewers over to jungkook.

jungkook’s dumb heart flutters at the sight.

--

jungkook was too busy staring at yoongi the whole time, so all he wrote down was lamb skewer. he also drew a really rough sketch of yoongi eating, which he shows yoongi when they’re sitting across from each other at the kitchen island in the twilight hours.

yoongi takes it in stride and reaches into his jacket pockets and puts out maybe twenty crumpled paper balls on the table. jungkook laughs quietly, while yoongi gives him a judging look, but he can feel the affection permeate their little bubble. it’s nice, he thinksto exist along min yoongi like this, when everyone around them is asleep. something has changed the way that they are, and though it’s weird to be glad for someone’s existence, jungkook is glad nonetheless. he doesn’t know if it’s because of always sleeping late, but his heart feels three sizes too big for his three-sizes-too-small chest.

“there are several that i wrote while we were eating,” yoongi confides, tossing a paper ball at him. “i liked this one, bird bones, except it’s not really a rap. and another one was about – ”

“seagulls getting more girls?” jungkook quips as he catches the ball and opens it up. yoongi throws another ball in his direction, and it bounces off his arm.

jungkook, reading the paper, thinks ‘bird bones’ could have been a verse, but something about it is oddly romantic. he tries to imagine yoongi rapping this out loud – and then, unbidden, his traitorous mind tries to imagine yoongi rapping this to him, serenading him with an aching rasp and an intense scowl—and—and—and his face fills with heat.

“you rascal, it was about attaining fame while keeping it real,” yoongi replies to his earlier remark, oblivious.

yoongi fumbles around the paper balls, separating them into two piles; the ones he will keep and the ones he has rejected. he picks the last one up gingerly and opens it. his nose wrinkles when he sees the contents, and then with the quick snap of a wrist, it lands in a nearby wastepaper basket.

it’s easy to forget that yoongi once played basketball and was good enough to be scouted. that’s another thing jungkook admires. being like this makes him feel as if he’s meeting the person min yoongi would have been had he not become an idol.

okay. that was too sappy. jungkook coughs and scoops up some of the paper balls yoongi has officially discarded and quickly gets up from the kitchen island. the stool screeches against the linoleum, but neither of them notice.

“i bet i can score more paper balls than you, hyung,” jungkook says.

yoongi arches an eyebrow and gestures arrogantly at the basket. “all right then; be my guest.”

jungkook’s lips tremble in excitement as he gathers all of the paper balls into his fist. yoongi thinks he’s going to try field goals, but:

“slam dunk,” he says forcefully and ungracefully throws down the clump of paper into the wastebasket.

unfortunately, the rim isn’t really wide enough, so a few bounce off and scatter. jungkook kicks the castoffs away, pretending like they made it in, and looks over at yoongi triumphantly, fist-pumping the air. yoongi’s blinking for a moment, like he can’t believe what he’s just seen. then his shoulders are shaking; the smile spreads across his face like he can’t hold it back anymore and he’s choking, eyes tearing up in incredulity because jungkook is actually a meme and he’s so ridiculously lame.

“yah, jeon jungkook,” yoongi wheezes. “what was that?

“ten points,” jungkook says innocently.

“cheater,” yoongi says breathlessly and grabs a fistful of paper. “watch this.”

he moves over to jungkook, and jungkook is watching, laughing too, grinning from ear-to-ear.

yoongi’s smile is gummy and sweet, and jungkook thinks his heart might be failing him. yoongi hooks his arm like he’s about to make the shot – and then he grabs jungkook’s collar and stuffs the whole lot down his shirt, laughter exploding from his lips.

jungkook yelps. “hyung!”

.

.

.

they’re both picking up the mess they made when seokjin stumbles into the living room, almost walking into the doorway.

“why are you both still awake,” seokjin groans.

yoongi clears his throat. “sorry for waking you.”

“it’s one in the morning,” seokjin says sternly. “jungkook-ah, go sleep in your room.”

jungkook swallows, nervous, and does as he’s told. seokjin and yoongi are still outside when he looks for the last time and enters the room he hasn’t slept in for so long.

--

the next morning, yoongi is the first one up, rubbing his eyes blearily. jungkook hesitantly seats himself next to him, wondering if yoongi was scolded last night.

yoongi turns to him, and his lips quirk up in a familiar, knowing smile. “morning. sleep well?” he says, dry, already knowing the answer.

jungkook laughs.

--

they learn to talk to each other quietly. when it’s just them in the living room, sotto voce is a necessity so that they don’t wake up the others.

but then it becomes a habit, and even in broad daylight with his hyungs, he turns to yoongi, and his voice goes soft.

(“what are you whispering about?” hoseok asks curiously.

“you,” yoongi says, sincere, and hoseok rolls his eyes with a snort.)

--

at two in the morning, jungkook gathers his courage.

“can i keep this?” he asks.

yoongi glances over the crumpled paper in jungkook’s palm. the angles and the edges of the folds cast on the wall a peculiar shadow that might have been a bird.

“bird bones,” yoongi mouths to himself and looks up to search jungkook’s eyes.

jungkook isn’t sure what he’s looking for, but maybe he’s found it, because he nods and says, heavy with indecipherable meaning:

“it’s yours.”

--

it’s hopeless and weird, but jungkook wishes that ‘bird bones’ were about him.

--

jungkook wants yoongi to rap to him, but a different type of rapping; instead of spitting a verse, he wants to hear bird bones spoken like a prayer.

--

hollow and if i press my fingers down i know

that i’d break your wishbone

maybe i want to split your sternum

see your insides

string your ribs back together

knit the flesh back and leave my mark

deep in your bird bones

--

‘what’s your ideal type’ gets old after a while.

yoongi says on broadcast that his ideal type is someone quiet like him, someone with a similar personality so that they won’t misunderstand him. jungkook is actually staring at him as he faces the camera, so when the mc turns the question to jungkook, he blinks, completely wrong-footed.

his heart pounds in his ears.

“jungkook is too awkward around girls,” namjoon supplies helpfully. the other members laugh, except yoongi, who just looks at him seriously.

his ideal type always has been someone like his mother. tall, pretty, good at cooking. yoongi is a decent cook, he’d probably bristle at being called pretty by anyone other than their fans, but jungkook realizes ideal types are false constructs anyway.

this time, he says, “someone who takes care of me.”

“isn’t that what everyone wants?” hoseok jokes, setting off another round of laughter.

jungkook tries to defend himself. “someone who takes care of me especially,” he amends, but seokjin just points out that it’s the same.

jungkook gazes at the other members as jimin answers and at last rests his gaze on yoongi, who’s looking away now. he thinks helplessly that it’s not the same at all.

--

when he wakes up warm at six in the morning, he finds that yoongi is there, asleep. they’re both lying horizontally on the couch, which only surprises jungkook further. it’s the first time this has ever happened, and he wonders if it’s because of the stupid stuff he said on broadcast, or the fact that he was staring too much. (they all rewatched the broadcast, and jimin pointed it out.) or it was probably because jungkook’s hands have loose fistfuls of his shirt. jungkook’s curled into him, pressing him against the couch. he couldn’t have left.

yoongi’s jaw is slack, mouth open, but all of the lines in his face have relaxed. dawn is pink-orange and pulls itself up over the horizon, and yoongi is beautiful.

he can’t hold it in anymore.

“yoongi hyung,” jungkook whispers to yoongi’s still form.

with trembling fingers and flaming cheeks, he tugs the blanket over the both of them and confesses into the space between. 

--

this time, yoongi doesn’t sit next to him in the car. he’s quiet in the dressing room, keeping a respectful distance between them, and jungkook wonders why.

--

“jungkook-ah,” yoongi tells him later that night. he’s standing. “i don’t think this is a good idea.”

at first, jungkook can’t comprehend, confused.

and then he realizes, when he sees that yoongi’s face is filled with apology and regret.

he blinks; he opens his mouth to say something, but everything loud in his brain that’s been suppressed is suddenly unblocked, and his thoughts scatter from the hurt.

he can only listen as yoongi retreats into the hallway, and then he hears a door shut with a finality that stings.

it's a rejection.

--

it's pretty clear to the members that something between them has changed for the worse. taehyung, jimin, and hoseok are the first to notice when the distance between them increases and increases until they aren’t even in the same room unless the whole group’s there, unless it’s for a broadcast, interview, performance. taehyung hugs him a lot. jimin gives him worried glances and fleeting touches whenever his subdued gaze is visible, and hoseok tries to comfort him with words and cheek-pats without quite knowing what exactly is wrong and without daring to ask. jungkook is glad that he doesn’t.

they probably wouldn’t try to force it out of yoongi either, because they know that when yoongi’s face is dark and stormy, something’s eating at him too. but jin must have tried, because the cold shoulder becomes positively arctic. during dance practice, they’re all too busy trying to get the moves down, but during dinner, when they’re recording parts for a track—even coming out of the bathroom—jungkook can feel his heart’s slow deterioration into stone, something like cement pressing under his lungs and making it hard to breathe, when yoongi passes him by and stares right through him.

now, he’s doing a pretty good job of avoiding yoongi too.

“jungkook-ah,” namjoon says to him in their shared room. (jungkook hasn’t been in here for so long.) “you had some ideas for the outro, right? if you want to pursue this, p-dogg’s interested in talking to you.”

it’s like deja-vu; he remembers how long ago it was that namjoon invited him down to the studio. he swallows.

“hyung, i don’t think that’s a good idea,” he says slowly. mainly, he knows that if he goes down to the studio, yoongi will be there, and upon seeing jungkook, will retreat into himself, so he adds lamely, “i had a few lines, but they aren’t that good.”

namjoon gives him a heavy look, a sad expression, and sits him down on his bed. jungkook feels mildly alarmed, but he lets namjoon put an arm around his shoulder and ruffle his hair softly. he wants to say something but doesn't know how. jungkook can tell.

“did yoongi hyung tell you that?” namjoon asks seriously.

it completely catches him off guard. “what?”

“did he say that to you?” namjoon repeats, looking troubled. jungkook shakes his head in complete denial, but namjoon doesn’t look convinced. “jungkook-ah, you and yoongi hyung fought recently, right? all of us noticed” – noticed how close they’d become and now how far apart they are – “and we weren’t going to say anything, but you guys both look so unhappy. it's been two weeks."

jungkook wishes a hole would open up in the floor and swallow him, but the hole has apparently already formed in his throat.

“you can tell me,” namjoon promises. “group leader-member confidentiality.”

jungkook looks at him and sees his earnest face. 

“it was me—i think i messed up,” jungkook admits and then falls back onto the bed. the ceiling has never looked uglier, so he covers his face with a hand, staring at the fragments through his fingers, and repeats, “i messed up.”

--

he shouldn’t have said anything.

“what do you mean, jungkook?” namjoon asks. “jungkook-ah, please talk to me. what do you mean, ‘you shouldn’t have said anything?’”

--

namjoon insists that he come down to the studio anyway, so he does.

except when he gets there, namjoon is nowhere to be found, and yoongi turns around, saying, “namjoon, did you really have to pee that long?” his posture stiffens and his face goes slack with surprise when he sees jungkook.

jungkook swallows as they stare at each other, and then yoongi’s the one who looks away, turning his gaze to the wall.

“jungkook,” yoongi begins. all the warmth is gone; all that’s left is the weirdness.

he bolts before his hyung can see his face fall.

--

in the dead of night, jungkook sits on the couch by himself.

he has never felt more alone.

he feels so alone in being the only one conscious, being the only one with all these confusing emotions. he holds his head in his hands. there’s something wrong with him, and he can’t fall asleep. he’ll die of a heart attack or heartbreak or both, and it won’t make sense when they find his body and split open his chest and see the mangled mess inside.

“jungkook,” a voice calls.

jungkook looks up, feeling stupid with hope as he sees yoongi standing in the hallway, arms crossed over his chest. his hair looks a little damp from the shower, his skin soft and devastating as usual.

“yoongi hyung,” jungkook breathes, and his voice cracks.

yoongi comes over, looking uneasy, and sits down next to him.

he wants to ask yoongi to rap again, or to go back to how they used to be – even if it means before they started watching the sky change together. he wants to explain that he thinks it might be the only thing that will ever let him rest again, be okay again, and he wants to ask about all these feelings that he’s been having and if yoongi really is so unaffected while he’s here agonizing alone. but then he starts with, “will you rap to me again?” and it sounds so embarrassing and childish that it reinforces the self-doubt in him. he falters.

“you know, the fact that my rap puts you to sleep should be insulting,” yoongi says wryly.

“n-no, it’s not – your rap doesn’t put me to sleep,” jungkook says. “it’s your voice.”

except that comes out wrong and he realizes it does right as yoongi raises a brow.

“wait – i mean – “ he wants to punch himself in the face, but buries it in his hands instead, shoulders slumping. “hyung, i’m sorry, my brain is all scrambled.”

“not sleeping does that,” yoongi says, dry as sand, but he wraps an arm around jungkook’s shoulders anyway, pulling him back and tucking him into his side.

like a puzzle piece. it’s a weird configuration. jungkook is taller and all-around bigger than his hyung, but in this moment, he feels small and protected. yoongi gently cards fingers through his hair, nails gently kneading his scalp, sending shivers down his spine. he’s so afraid to move, so afraid that if he says or does something wrong, this will end, and yoongi will go back to ignoring him. anything but that, he thinks. he would do anything rather than go through that again.

warm fingers pat his forehead. “cold?” yoongi asks.

far from it, jungkook thinks, but nods anyway, and yoongi just pulls him closer until jungkook’s cheek is resting on his collarbone.

“are you going to rap?” jungkook asks softly.

“it’s my voice, right?” yoongi says. “i’ll talk for a while.”

“...okay.”

this isn’t going to end well.

“i care about you a lot. but i internalize a lot of things,” yoongi begins. “so sometimes i forget to show my insides to the outside world. i've scored high on every personality test for introversion, and though it’s not supposed to be a bad thing, it is pretty bad since it’s me. i'm not too keen on affection in public, but sometimes that extends to private too. it's possible that i might not even talk for days on end. at the same time, i speak my mind too easily. i try not to be too harsh but there are times when i don’t know i’m doing it. i'm also older than you by four years.” jungkook can feel yoongi’s grimace in his bones. “jungkook-ah, i’m not good at things like this. i’m actually seriously shit at these things.”

this is the conversation that jungkook wanted to have, but not the way he wanted to have it. he feels like he’s getting rejected a second time, except more firmly. he feels like someone’s cornered him and pressed ice over the flesh of his sore heart, forcing it to claw its way out from its cavity.

“hyung—”

“it’s better if we forget about this,” yoongi pleads softly. "you'll hurt because of me. a lot. it’s better to stop this now.”

jungkook swallows the hurt that he’s feeling right now and angles his face up toward yoongi, chin defiantly jutting out. over the course of his soliloquy, yoongi held him tenderly, so tight, like a man in love, that jungkook’s battered heart is getting mixed signals. it just can’t be possible that he’s the only one who’s so overwhelmed with these feelings.

“so, yoongi hyung,” he says boldly, voice shaking, cheeks a shameful red. last chance, one last move. “you like me then?”

“yes,” yoongi says reluctantly. the sigh that follows sounds like his soul is trying to depart from his body. “is that all you got from what i just said?”

when jungkook doesn’t trust himself to reply, yoongi shakes his head. “okay.” he glances down at jungkook before gazing back at the wall. “remember the rap i showed you the first night?”

jungkook nods.

“what’s missing?”

“what?”

“first thing that comes to mind,” yoongi presses. “just say it. i won’t get mad.”

the change of conversation is what really lets the hope die. so this is how it ends. jungkook didn't even get to say all of the things he was feeling, couldn't even convey the depth of what he had inside of him, and he wants to turn the conversation back, but it's over. jungkook wonders, sadly, if that verse is his destiny. he wonders if his wrecked heart will bleed out into his own body. he knows what’s missing from that verse, because all of it is inside him, terrible and letting his organs waste away like dying flowers.

"the sadness," jungkook says, barely audible, pressing his face into yoongi's chest. he can't help his face crumpling, can't stop himself from trembling. "it's missing the sadness."

"that's what it was," yoongi murmurs like a revelation into his hair.

jungkook is a real man. he might be a little heartbroken, but he definitely doesn't want to cry in front of his hyung. any moment, yoongi will depart from this couch, depart from this thing between them, and things will never be the same. jungkook will never be the same.

it's wretchedly quiet, a sinister bastardization of all the times they sat in comfortable silence, basking in each other's company. he supposes it's kind of hard not to cry now that he thinks about what he's lost.

"do you still want to hear me rap?" yoongi asks, surprising him.

because he's wondering why yoongi is prolonging his suffering, jungkook looks up, which proves to be a total mistake, because yoongi's looking down intently, unhappily, at him, keen eyes storm-dark with gloomy contemplation, staring into him. yoongi's long, spindly fingers are still combing through his hair. their faces are less than an inch apart. it's so intimate that jungkook can feel his face burn, and yoongi's cool wrist brushes against the warm shell of his ear.

"yoongi hyung," he says, pained, wondering why they can’t make things a little easier.

yoongi must see something pitiful in his expression, or the wetness in his eyes, the misery written in the lines of his frown, because his fingers still their movements, and for one scary moment, jungkook thinks he's going to pull away. he impulsively grasps the other's wrist, swallows his thumping heart that has somehow relocated to his throat, and licks his chapped lips anxiously. yoongi's eyes flicker down, and something scorching burgeons painfully under jungkook's ribs.

he can't do this. his heart won’t survive. abort, abort, there's no way -

"your pulse, jungkook-ah," yoongi says.

"sorry."

his stupid wildly beating heart will pretty much discredit any half baked lie his sleep-deprived brain serves up. he doesn't know what to do. all he's doing right now is staring wide-eyed at yoongi, wondering how he can be so up close to someone who won't have him, wondering if something will happen, which is silly, but yoongi's right there, lips parted in rapt, undivided attention. jungkook's never seen him focus so completely on one person.

and now his face is positively on fire with the realization that yoongi is really looking at him.

if he closes his eyes, he knows yoongi won't kiss him. he isn't the type to do things out of pity, and jungkook doesn't want him to either, but jungkook can't help but stare at yoongi's mouth. he's never actually kissed anyone before; too busy with big hit, then with debut and everything bangtan-related. he became a trainee so young. yoongi, though; his tongue probably does send people to hong kong. he's four years older, four years more experienced in life and relationships. maybe jungkook is really just a kid in his eyes.

jungkook remembers the first night, when yoongi laid him to rest on the couch and put a blanket over his body. he was barely conscious, but yoongi's expression was so soft, so much in pure, unbridled awe, that he must've subconsciously found his way back to yoongi every time.

now, yoongi looks like he's beyond troubled. he looks defeated.

"i'm going to sue you, jeon jungkook," yoongi mutters, half in wonder, half in resignation, catching him by surprise.

"wh - ?" but he doesn't get to finish, because yoongi tilts his head forward, closing the distance between them, and slots his mouth over jungkook's.

the kiss is slow and painful, filling jungkook's heart with lead and bleeding the air from his lungs. it's the physical connection they finally have formed after bodily resisting for over a month. and then yoongi angles his head sideways to deepen the kiss and pushes jungkook against the couch, warm palms cupping jungkook's neck and the back of his head, forearms pressing him down so he can't escape, and suddenly it's so hot that jungkook wants to peel his skin off. the kiss runs darker until he's drowning in the taste of mint toothpaste and the smell of peach shampoo, and he kisses back, sloppy and inexperienced but eager and over the moon, and yoongi groans softly, makes filthy sounds when he licks unrelentingly into jungkook's mouth and sucks on his tongue, trailing a hand down his shirt and rucking it up to palm the hot skin underneath.

jungkook tries to be quiet. he can’t even breathe; his hands quiver uncontrollably in yoongi's damp hair, and his vision starts swimming, tinting dark.

his mouth is thoroughly plundered, still tingling with the traces of yoongi when yoongi finally lets up and lets him breathe again and peppers kisses along his jaw and nose and even his eyelids.

jungkook's head takes a while to clear, and then his eyes refocus in the moonlight. in one moment, jungkook's marveling at yoongi's swollen, red mouth, and in the next, yoongi is pushing jungkook's head forward into his chest and silencing jungkook's brain. but not the fluttering beneath his sternum, and definitely not his lungs, because he's gasping for air - the both of them are.

jungkook touches his lips, and his fingertips come away messy and wet. then he tries to look up, but yoongi's hand firmly presses on the crown of his head.

"h-hyung."

"don't look right now," yoongi says unevenly.

yoongi is definitely affected. definitely. jungkook wonders if he’s blushing.

"i don't think i can fall asleep," he whispers to yoongi's heart instead, giddy. it’s racing in yoongi’s chest and, with the knowledge that he's the reason why, that yoongi feels as strongly and desperately as he does, he laughs. "your pulse, yoongi hyung."

"shut up."

(in the romance novels that jungkook once found under taehyung's bed, something similar like this happened. the protagonist said "make me" and her love interest kissed her.)

"are you going to kiss me again?" jungkook asks.

yoongi sucks in a sharp breath, and his hand slips from jungkook's head. jungkook looks up.

the moon still favors min yoongi, but in the silver light, his pale cheeks are tinged with soft, rose pink, his pupils dark and wide, eyes blinking lazily. yoongi gives him a look, helplessly fond and put-upon. jungkook smiles.

"that's pretty cheeky," yoongi notes, "for someone who almost passed out."

"but that was because of hyung," jungkook protests, refusing to blush and failing.

the color on yoongi's face, as he remembers the kiss, also deepens into red. it's fascinating. (jungkook gets the sudden desire to tease him, see how red yoongi will turn, and it feels novel knowing that yoongi will let him.)

"i know," yoongi says, sounding remorseful, pressing a hand to his face. "i'm sorry. i was seriously at my limit. your face was ridiculous, and it was because of me, and i realized i was fucking everything up. i'm sorry, jungkook." yoongi looks troubled again.

"we're good, hyung," jungkook says, heartfelt, retrieving the blanket and wrapping it around his shoulders. he adds, as a relevant afterthought, "that was my first kiss."

this catches yoongi completely off-guard. he looks surprised, apologetic even, and opens his mouth to say something, but jungkook pushes him down into the couch, slowly making his way up the length of yoongi's body until he's right over him. the blanket hangs over his body, curtaining the two of them off from the rest of the world.

yoongi looks cornered with jungkook's hands on either side of his head, and his eyes close, slowly, like he’s giving in, giving jungkook free reign.

it's really tempting, but jungkook is also known for torturing his hyungs. so he yawns noisily in yoongi's expectant, trusting face and simply lies down beside him.

"night, hyung," he says, and yoongi opens his eyes and flicks his shoulder with a huff.

"this is familiar," yoongi says, tugging the blanket tighter around them both, because he has to have the last word in.

"you confessed to me like this," yoongi continues - and great, jungkook's back to blushing again. yoongi smiles at him, eyes like crescents, and touches his sternum.

"bird bones was about me, right?" jungkook shoots back.

"it's only right that you hear it out loud," yoongi muses.

jungkook waits. he's memorized the lines on that crumpled sheet of paper; he's still got it folded in his phone case.

yoongi slings an arm and leg over him and pulls him closer, shutting his eyes. jungkook curls into yoongi’s smaller frame and his heart pounds a little in anticipation.

"i like you too. now go to sleep."

--

"knew it," namjoon says in the morning. "there were several obvious reasons, but jungkook's bed hasn't been slept in for ages."

"at least he's sleeping now," seokjin sighs. "maybe we should change up the roommate assignments."

jimin snickers. "i don't think they'll get any sleep that way."

seokjin looks a little scandalized, second-hand embarrassment strong in the red of his cheeks, but namjoon shrugs because it's true. taehyung and hoseok stumble bleary-eyed into the living room as yoongi stirs from sleep with a dark glower and says, "you're all too noisy. let him rest."