“Hello?” Urgency. Rough voice.
“Yeah?" pleasant greeting, a little distracted like he always is.
“I--Seokjin hyung?” The voice breaks.
“Yes?” Questioning. Pondering. Looking around for aisle 4.
“Oh my god, it worked…” Relief.
Seokjin stood still when he heard a few choked sobs on the line.
It is a summer morning and the train station is abuzz with people, all awake at 6AM except for a little kid half asleep with his father dragging him along. Seokjin is going visit his cousins in Daegu, a two hour journey and he has a novel in his backpack ready. He packed light, not anticipating for staying there longer than the week. Seokjin looked at his ticket and spotted Aisle 4 from the corner of his eye before returning back to the call.
“Who’s this?” he also, and the crying on the other end subdues.
“You’ll never have to know,” the guy said, his voice shaky. There was no background noises, unlike Seokjin's own station that was making it hard to hear, but an eerie silence and the slight echoing of the words being spoken but nothing else.
Seokjin's eyebrows furrowed in worry, and in his calmest voice continued, "Hey, I think you've got the wrong n--"
“If this is Seokjin, Kim Seokjin then it's the right number. And it is you, I'd recognize your voice anywhere."
At the mention of his last name, Seokjin narrowed his eyes. Surely it's too early for prank calls. Seokjin scans the station looking for the likely guilty culprit. On the opposite platform, a group of businessmen and wo me click away at their Samsumg phones, some teenagers loitering near the Hotspot free WiFi zone, and the previous child fully asleep and being carried by father. “What?”
“I've found you, Jin hyung. I never thought it would've worked but it did, this-this is perfect."
“Who are you?” Confusion. It's really too early for crazy people.
“Sorry, I'm. Yoongi. Just call me that.”
“You know my last name, but you won’t say yours?” Seokjin's never had a stalker but he's heard from his female friends about infatuated callers.
“I’m sorry, it’s off better this way.” The voice gets quiet.
“Is this a prank call?” Seokjin asks, the thought relieving him. "Fuck, is this you Taehyung? Did Jungkook put you up to it?" Thinking of his younger dongsaengs who often liked to trick their hyung if they could get away with it.
"Taehyung's at Jimin's and Jungkook sleeps till 12, you know that." The voice, Yoongi, resignedly explains.
A chill went down Seokjin's spine in this sunny day, and he gripped the phone tighter. "How do you know them?"
"I know all your friends, Seokjin-ah. I a-was your best one." Something about Yoongi's voice is so sad, so lost, so tired, not in the slightest malicious or threatening Seokjin.
A train rolled up to the platform on the other side. Its engine screeches to a halt and in the blink of an eye, an array of people get off and get in. The father-son duo from earlier are gone. Seokjin holds on to his ticket tightly.
“Who are you then? An old classmate? Some crazy ex friend?”
“No, and it doesn't matter, because we're never gonna meet and we're never gonna be best friends." Resignation. Frustration. Anger. Seokjin is not going to deal with some stranger's bullshit first thing in the morning.
“Listen, I'm going to hang up n-" Seokjin threatens but is cut off by Yoongi's short laugh.
“You never hang up on people, hyung. You can’t even hang up on sales calls. That's why you bought the same rice cooker twice because the damn telesales wouldn't stop calling.”
Seokjin feels a little embarrassed, but in this defense those calls are extremely persuasive at making Seokjin believe that he absolutely needs 4 pairs of heart shaped oven mittens. Another shocking realization is that he hasn't told about the rice cooker incident to anyone yet. "H-how did you know that?"
“I told you,” Yoongi says, his voice gentle, “I used to be a friend. I used to be your significant other.”
Seokjin's pacing around the platform, he was wearing a thin shirt and the sun wasn't up yet but he was sweating and his heart pounding.
"What? No! I'm not--I haven't even dated anyone in forever. You're lying." Seokjin stumbles on his own words, the ticket in his fist crumpling.
“I'm not lying. You're Kim Seokjin, you're 23, you have a scar on your thigh that happened when you stabbed yourself with a pencil, but-- you tell people it's when you fell off a bike. You hate strawberry flavoured red food but love fresh strawberries. Your favorite colour--- is orange, but people assume it's pink. You wish your parents divorced. Your neck hurts sporadically and you think it might mean something bad b-but you're too stubborn to go to the Doctor's even though I've told you a million times, hyung! You never listen, you never did, and...it won't matter because we're never gonna see each other." The last few words were a sob, the entire speech punctured punctured by small breaths like it physically hurt to get these words out.
Seokjin heart rate escalates at every word, secrets he's never told anyone, condemned himself for even thinking them, are spilling out of this stranger's mouth like water through a tap.
“How, how do you know all this? Why will we never meet? If you know me so well, we must’ve met!”
“Oh, we have,” Yoongi says.
“You’re not making sense. I don't remember you!”
“Today's 14th June, 2016. You're visiting your cousins in Daegu. I just came from an international flight and taking a train to my hometown at around 7AM. We'll have the very same seat number, 88B, and we'll start talking. By the end of this ride, we'll have exchanged numbers. We keep in contact. Social media and kakaotalk. I meet your brother, and Taehyung and Jimin. By the end of this year, we will love in love. We will fall deep in love. And that's going to be our biggest undoing."
“Why?” Seokjin asks, his eye on the large digital clock on the schedule board. 7 minutes left. His voice comes out weak and dry. “What do you mean, 'our biggest undoing'?”
“You're going to die.”
Seokjin stands still, or maybe the world comes to a standstill. He can't breathe. The station is full of people but he can't hear them, can't hear the little kids running past and the elderly man complaining about late arrivals and the whistle signaling a nearby train. All he can hear is the soft breathing on the phone and the thud of his own heart, loud as a drum.
Yoongi doesn't speak for a minute or so, then exhales and softly continues, "We're together for 4 years. It's discreet but close friends and family know. You work as a preschool teacher, you love the brats, you always did. I work as a producer. I proposed, you said yes. I was in Shanghai and you had just landed in Beijing. You always wanted to see the Summer Palace. I'm sorry I couldn't take you there, I'm s-sorry I wasn't there." Once again, the words break down, the connection crystal clear but the echo increasing.
“And then?” Seokjin asks, but he knows
“- it doesn’t matter.” The sound of echo became stronger. Wherever Yoongi is, it became more vast, more empty. Or maybe his voice was just filling with sadness.
“Where are you?” Seokjin asks, breathless.
“I’m at the station, but don't try to find me. My future is set in stone, it cannot be changed. I’ve lost you. But I don’t want to lose you again, in another world, in another time. I want to set the next circle of events straight. I want to make sure we never meet. I want you to live, happily, and become the man you were destined to be.”
Seokjin feels it now, prickling at his eyes - tears. They threatened to drop, ha wouldn't be the first time someone's ever cried at a train station. His hand holding the mobile is sweaty. He could hardly get a firm grip.
“Oh, Seokjin-ah,” Yoongi whispers, and Seokjin wants to memorize it, the voice that is his everything in another life, “I love you so, so much.”
“You can’t stop me,” Seokjin says, shakily, “you can’t stop me from meeting you now.” Yoongi doesn't answer.
“You’re coming on my right?” Seokjin repeats his earlier, running across the platform. The train must be a few minutes late because there's only two station where there's people pooling around. Aisle 4.
“Listen to me, you bastard," Seokjin desperately speaks into the line that's not dead but has gone quiet, "If you know me, if you knew your Seokjin, you'd know that I am one stubborn motherfucker. And if I'm giving up the chance to meet the love of my life, then you owe me some fucking answers. I want to know everything. From that first conversation to texts, to however we started dating to how you proposed--I need to know. You hear me? Or I'm walking in that train right now!"
The train rolls into the platform. The doors opens, this is the first carriage of the day so it's empty, and people begin crowding in but Seokjin doesn't see him until-- A guy, blond hair and wearing a striped shirt, with headphones around his neck and carrying a black travel suitcase that's not ideal for a 2 hour journey, looks out at him for a second and battles the crowd of people around him. Seokjin's in shock or something, because he stops moving and gets shoved by the rushing crowd while his brain is screaming this is him!!!
Seokjin watches dumbly but doesn't get on, watches the train doors close, and through the wide windows he looks at the people shuffling to their seats, and beyond that on the other side of the platform, he sees the same blonde man but in a different shirt and this time he has a phone in his hand instead of headphones around his neck, and he's holding out a white paper that Seokjin can't make out in the distance--but he doesn't have to. He's holding the same paper in his own hand. Aisle 4, 88B.
The train sets off, and goes off with a blur. The phone line has disconnected. As it completely moves away it leaves the station dry and empty, there's no one on the other side of the platform.