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Disgusting

Chapter Text

“You’re worthless”

“An insult to humanity”

“Ugly”

“Pitiful”

“Attention seeking”

“A freak”

“A loser”

“Disgusting”

 

At least they weren’t lying, he thought. But if it was the truth, why did it hurt so much? Well I deserve it, he thought. Because I am disgusting.

Chapter Text

I let the dance take over, tried to forget my reality. Tried to ignore my sleep deprived body, my aching limbs and the still fresh cuts on the back of my thighs. Tried to ignore the fact that in a few short hours, I would have to return to my own personal hell. The place that held no good memories. Only pain, loneliness and more pain.

Where they would still sneer, teachers turning away, always a foot to trip you up just around the corner.

I tried to let it go, become one with the music. Everything faded, melting into oblivion. As the beat became faster, so did I. As the song built itself up, I let my body twist and turn, letting it tell the story. I kept my eyes closed, purely focused on the execution of my muscles.

When the song finished I sank to my knees, my head spinning. I braced myself on the floor, my arms outstretched. My breaths were shallow, my heart pounding in my ears. My vision blurring, I hurriedly blinked to clear the black spots from my eyes.

In my haze, I failed to acknowledge that I was no longer alone in the practice room.

“Jimin are you okay?”

Startled, my head turned towards the door, a little too fast, causing my head to spin.

“Pardon?” I croaked, my voice cracking.

“Shit Jimin, stop practicing, you’re about to pass out,” he said, moving forward to help me into a sitting position.

“I’m fine,” I said, trying to convince Hoseok of something I didn’t believe myself. “I’m fine.”

+++

I got to school early, after finally convincing Hoseok that I was indeed well enough to go to school, in hopes of of avoiding particular individuals. But unfortunately the fates weren’t in my favour. On the way to my locker, I was stopped by a rough hand.

“Ciao, ciao, amigos,” he said in a terrible accent, having the indecency to mix two languages. I kept my mouth shut, knowing from experience that it would be worse if I said anything. “You’re pitiful,” he said with a sneer, shoving my books out of my hands, before knocking my feet from under me. I didn’t have enough strength left to protest, just trying not to pass out in the hallway.

I didn’t even register that I had been kicked in the face, until I felt an all too familiar liquid dripping onto my hands. I heard sniggers, and then fading footsteps. I looked up to see that the hallways was empty, although I thought that I had seen a flash of something disappearing around the corner.

At a painfully slow pace, I managed to pick up my books, and begun to make my shaky way to the office. Keeping a dying grip on my consciousness, I knocked feebly on the nurse’s door. Almost immediately the door swung open, revealing a smiling figure. Although his smile dropped as fast as he had appeared.

Without a word, he helped me over to a chair, then returned with a cloth in had. We sat in silence as he cleaned the blood from my face. I didn’t know whether tears had joined the redness pouring from my nose, but was too worn to even try to stop them.

When he had finished, he gently raised my hand to hold a different cloth to my still heavily bleeding nose before moving out of sight. I didn’t know how much time passed, my head swimming.

“Are you going to report them?”

The sudden voice startled me, and I have to blink before everything came back into focus. “I don’t think so, sir.”

I heard him huff, and hoped he wasn’t that disappointed in me. He was the one person in this school, that I thought might honestly, even if was only a little, care for my wellbeing. “Jimin, I’ve told you before, it’s Jin or hyung. It’s sad for me to say, but I would like to think, that considering how much time you spend in here, that we could at least be on a first name basis,” his voice accompanied by what I think might have been a sad smile. “And why not Jimin? You know that what they did was wrong.”

“I don’t want to cause any trouble,” I said quietly, pleading for Jin to let the matter rest.

Maybe he could sense my tone, or maybe he was sick of arguing, but he didn’t push the issue. “Well you have about 15 minutes, I’ll let you stay to the bell, give you a better chance of blending in. And giving you some time so I can make sure you won’t lose consciousness in class. As much as I enjoy our chats, I don’t find the thought of you back in this room today appealing.”

“It’s fine,” I said, with no ounce of truth. “I can do it.” I hope I can.

+++

This morning had apparently not been enough for them, as they found me at lunch, and again after school. I had slept a little in my first class, and although I didn’t particularly like Maths, I still felt a little guilty. At least it was sufficient in providing my body with a little energy to make it back to the dance studio.

My dance clothes felt like a second skin to me, and I felt as if they gave me strength, which was silly because they were just coloured pieces of cloth. I caught up with Hoseok in the hallway, and we fell into a familiar conversation. As we were stretching, we started to discuss the topic of the new student.

“Miss Lee said he was good,” said Hoseok.

“But I wonder how he dances. What’s his style?” I questioned, as I reached down to touch my toes.

“I hope it’s hip hop,” he replied enthusiastically.

“Another one? There’s too many of you guys. We need more in contemporary,” I argued, scrunching my nose.

“You are your contemporary,” his tone joking, while he made an over exaggerated impression of my dancing.

I gave him a gentle shove, no malice behind it. “Maybe he’s neither.”

“Yeah, but I hope not. Then that will be boring.”

“Says you who perfected the robot move, and called it ‘art’.”

“It’s called popping thank you very much. And it is much more than ‘art’, it’s expression, it’s beauty, it’s-”

“Gather round everybody,” said the teacher, cutting off Hoseok’s elaborate explanation. I let out a laugh, as he narrowed his eyes at Miss Lee, for interrupting him. “We have a new student. Everyone this is Jungkook. Jungkook this is everyone.”

I stood on my tippy toes to try a catch a glimpse of him, cursing my short height. My eyes fell on a brown mop of hair, and my heart skipped a beat at the sheer beauty of him. As the teacher moved on to explain the rest of the lesson, I couldn't seem to take my eyes off him. I felt something unfamiliar coil in my chest, which had me quickly snapping out of my focused state.

I snapped my head to the teacher, only catching the last of what she said. Hoseok gave me a funny look, when I turned to him to ask him what exactly we were doing. I never drifted off in class, always too disciplined with myself.

As we stretched, I let my mind wander to the new student. Jungkook. I liked it. I didn’t realise I had frozen until, Hoseok nudged me on the shoulder.

“Hey are you okay?” his face full of concerned. “You gonna pass out or something?”

I shook my head in the negative, trying to pull myself together. “I’m good, don’t worry.”

+++

My head felt heavy, my arms hanging by my side, sore and overworked. Miss Lee was a wonderful teacher, but a hard one, not hesitating to keep the whole class late to perfect a routine. That coupled with the way Jungkook had practically run away from me, when I went to approach him, which made my heart hurt for reasons I couldn’t comprehend.

The sweltering heat didn’t help either, pushing my spirit lower, not that they were particularly high in the first place. Sweat covered to every inch of body, my clothes sticking to my body, making me frustrated. I tried to shake them off, suddenly annoyed by the fabric.

A frown overtook my face, and I scrunched my nose. Why couldn’t these clothes just not stick to my body? Why couldn’t they do what I wanted them to do? Anger coiled in my stomach and I didn’t even register that I was being irrational.

I was repulsed by the clothes that had provided me with confidence, disgusted by the way they wouldn’t just leave me alone, let me be free.

I wanted to punch something, to let someone know that I was frustrated and tired and just done with it all. My clenched fist slowly became slack, my displeasure fading into sadness. I felt guilty, and felt tears from falling down my cheeks.

I was hopeless and pathetic. Hell, I had just gotten mad at a shirt. But maybe the anger run deeper, maybe I would rather take my anger on a clothing item, than admit my pitiful reality.

+++

When I got home the house was dark, the silence almost overwhelming. My mum hadn’t stayed up for me, although she rarely did, knowing how late my practices could run. Even though all I wanted to do was collapse onto my mattress, I made sure that I changed out of my shirt, throwing it a little too aggressively at the clothes basket.

As I exited the bathroom, I noticed that one of the cuts had reopened on the back of my leg, a small patch of dried blood surrounding it. A sudden panic gripped me, as I thought back through the day. Had anyone noticed, had anyone found out? My heart clenched at the prospect of someone knowing.

I reached for a cloth, wetting it before cleaning the wound, feeling a certain satisfaction as it stung. I couldn’t afford for my mum to find out, after I had spent so long carefully keeping it a secret.

Finally I kneeled beside my mattress, collapsing onto it, begging for sleep to overcome me. Like usual it didn’t and I lay awake for god knows how long, drawing lazy patterns on the bed sheets underneath me. It gave my mind too long to wander, too long to let the voices overcome me.

Before I knew it tears that I thought would have run out by now, made their journey down my face. My chest grew tight, my breaths fast, my eyes burning.

Today had been bad, but a usual day in my vocabulary. But I had to take it, I deserved it. I was disgusting.

Chapter Text

Nerves filled my stomach, an anxious energy moving through my body. Miss Lee, I think that was her name, was introducing me to the class and I tried to keep my face blank, my hands determinedly in my pockets.

I kept my eyes glued to my toes, inspecting the little scrape on the top of one of them. The teacher was explaining that today we would be focusing on the concepts behind dance, and how we can use our movements to express a tale.

She said that we would focus today on using certain emotions, be it in our facial expressions or arm movements, to provoke a wanted reaction in the audience. I understood where she was coming from, but at the same time I didn’t want to dance for anybody.

I danced because I could, because I was good at it. I always rolled my eyes when people said they danced because it made them feel better or whatever waffle they wanted to say. Sure it made them feel better: about themselves.

I refocused my attention on Mz Lee, deciding to look up. Bad move. No one’s attention was on me, but that didn’t make feel any less jumpy. I nervously played with my fingers, trying to look around for something to distract me. Another bad move.

My eyes fell on a short boy, his hair falling in his eyes, like mine was. For some reason I felt draw to him, like my centre of gravity had shifted to him. A feeling of deja vu rose in me, and I couldn’t pinpoint where I had seen him before. I observed his small frame, the hunch in his shoulders, the way he seemed fidgety like me.

Suddenly I realised I had been staring and ripped my gaze away, my eyes heating up. I scanned the room, hoping no one had caught me. That would be embarrassing, and I don’t even know why he was staring in the first place.

Drawing in a shaky breath, I reverted my gaze to the teacher, just as she finished. I chided myself for already mucking up on my first day. I moved to begin stretching, keeping mainly to myself.

I moved out one leg, the bent the other. When I had finished I moved to the next one. People around me chatted quietly with their friends, and I chose to just observe everyone. Before long my eyes had been drawback to the oddly familiar boy.

I saw him reach down to his toes, while a boy beside him conversed lightly with him. As the lights illuminated his hair, I remembered something I had seen this morning. A boy on the ground, people surrounding him, his books and papers scattered on the floor.

The hair colour was the exact same shade as that boy’s had been, and I felt something stir in my stomach. Then I noticed the slight bruising across his arms, and the small swelling around his nose. He looked as if he might have used a little makeup to his some of the colouring.

A protective instinct rose in my stomach, and this boy who I had never before conversed with, this boy whose hair hung so perfectly across his forehead- Wait, I wasn’t supposed to be thinking that, especially because this person was a male for crying out loud.

A ball of tension grew in my chest, and I tried to distract himself, tried to focus on my movements, my stretches, pushing my body till it hurt.

+++

An hour into the lesson, and I still hadn’t been able to shake off the skittish, restlessness that seemed to have settled in my bones. We were on a short break, which had so far consisted of me chugging my entire water bottle. The dance studio definitely seemed harder than my one back home, well old home, but I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the challenge, the opportunity to push myself.

I leaned back into the wall, desperately hoping that no one would approach me. That was until he started towards me. Panic struck my body, and I averted my gaze, hoping to find an excuse to flee. I don’t even know why I felt scared, whether it was the scene from this morning, or the mysterious feeling inside my chest.

As a split second decision, I decided to go ask Miss Lee about something, anything. If I had looked back I might have caught the saddened expression on his face, or the way his shoulders sunk, making him seem even shorter, smaller, almost scared. Like someone had broken his heart.

+++

For the rest of the lesson I couldn’t focus, a constant fear in my stomach that he would approach me again. When we finished the class I practically ran out of the room, rushing into the car waiting for me like my life depended on it. My driver gave me a funny look, raising his eyebrow in question.

I just shook my head, leaning back into my chair, my breathing still laboured. In my head I did a little victory dance, glad that I got out of there without him confronting me again.

+++

I wake with a start, my heart beat loud in my ears. I raise a hand to my cheek, surprised to feel tears there. My thoughts drifted back to my dream and I felt an emotional wave hit me again.

I winced as if I was the one being hit, as if I was being pushed, shoved, beaten. I gripped the bedsheets, more tears finding there way down my cheeks. My breathing became shorter as the poor figure in my dream lay helpless under the layers of punches and kicks.

Finally when it was all over, I sat still in the dark of my bedroom, my heart feeling as if it had been torn up, placed in a blender then handed back to me, a few pieces missing.

In that moment of silence and vulnerability, I vowed to myself to save him. Save the boy who made me feel strange feelings, the boy I wanted to run both from and too.

If I had known then what it would take to save him, that I would not just be dealing with the insufferable bullies that vacated the hallways of school, but far more than that, I always wonder if my decision would be the same.

But in that moment, all I was thinking was if I could save the boy who was part of my nightmares, but somehow made them feel also dream like. Save the boy who meant nothing to me at the time, but might somehow be everything in the end.

Chapter Text

I fumbled the belongings now scattered on the footpath, face bright red. The cold whipped my ankles, somehow drastically different from the near death heat we had all been trying to survive yesterday.

“I really am sorry,” I tried again.

“Not to worry dear, it’s really nothing. No use crying over spilt milk now. I’m quite alright. Just because I’m old, doesn’t mean I’m incompetent.”

“Yes ma’am,” I started, and she let out a chuckle.

“I’d like too see more young folk have the manners you do, my boy. Your generation seem a lot less respectful than we were back in my day.”

I let out a small smile, handing back her handbag and papers that I had knocked unceremoniously to the ground not moments ago. She returned it good-naturedly and gave me a small pat on the shoulder, telling me to look after myself, before she was back on her way.

I let out a small sad sigh, then refocused back on my long journey to school. Tripping slightly on the broken back of my worn out shoes, I hoisted my backpack further onto my shoulders, shivering slightly from the breeze on my thin clothes.

The day had only just started and I was already messing up. How idiotic could I get?

+ + +

When head slipped out of my hand for the fifth time, I had almost consumed myself with anxiousness. The day seemed perfectly normal in my standards, the normal good morning kick and punch greetings from students, and teachers holding guilty expressions but never lifting a finger. Except for some reason every part of my body seemed to scream that there was something unquestionably wrong.

My nervousness was not helped when the bell rang through the classroom, causing me to almost fall out of my chair. It didn’t matter that I caught myself, because there was a hand reaching out to push me to the ground again, causing even more sniggers to fill the room.

Letting out a heavy sigh, I slowly got to my feet again, picking up my books trying to not too look too pathetic. When I felt someone looking at me, I lifted my head but was only met with the teacher packing away her books. My eyes drifted to the door as it clicked in place, and I wondered who had just closed it.

Bowing to the teacher I headed out of the classroom, only to be met with a throng of students heading to their lockers. Trying to make myself inconspicuous, I stuck to the walls, my shoulders bumping past people on the way. Everytime I mumbled sorry, but I got no replies in response.

When I finally surfaced from the mass, I let go of a breath of relief. I slowly flicked the numbers of my lock, when I noticed the feeling of being watched wash over me again. My eyes flicked around, trying to shake away what I thought was trivial worries. I felt a sense of familiarity at the sight of the back of a boy, but I couldn’t pinpoint it.

Letting out yet another sigh I turned back to my locker, sighing when my lunch was yet again non-existent. It was okay, I thought. It would just make me fat anyway.

+ + +

I had a free period, and normally where I would usually find an empty classroom and practice my dancing, I was locked in a bathroom stall. My arms drawn around my knees, I tried to draw even breaths. I didn’t even know why I was so worked up, why I felt so out of place.

I stared down at my hands, trying to calm myself in some way. The sight of them shaking rapidly did nothing, possibly even heightening the panic running through my body.

What was wrong with me?

+ + +

By the end of the day I was ready to pull my hair out. I was constantly uneasy, jumping at every loud noise. I couldn’t focus on my school work or anything for that matter, my brain feeling almost numb.

What made it worse was that nobody had approached me, which I would normally be happy with, but it just added to my nerves. My world felt upside down, and I felt as if I was almost looking at myself from outside of my body.

My shoes squeaked against the floor, as I walked lifelessly through the school’s corridors. People passed by me, not even sparing a glance in my direction. I felt hyperaware of every sound, every movement around me, the feeling of anxiety still sitting unplaced in my chest.

My heart beat loud in my ears, a fast approaching headache growing in my temples. I tried to block out my overwhelming thoughts but they just seemed to grow. My breaths seemed to quicken, my heartbeat beating even louder, adding to the rest of my senses.

I didn’t notice that my fingers were yet again shaking, nor that I had frozen in the middle of the footpath, those passing by shooting my annoyed looks. I felt like punching something or maybe screaming and crying. Anything to distract the mounting thought processes filling every small space in my mind.

Just when it seemed like I was going to explode I felt a hand on my shoulder, my head whipping around, eyes wide. The sense of familiarity that had struck me before rang through my entire body, and I felt everything in me give up.

For the first time since I had rolled out of bed in the morning, I felt as peace, as if every puzzle piece had fallen into place simultaneously. I didn’t even this about the fact that this guy was also a part of my dance class, that he could potentially destroy everything I had worked so hard to keep in place, and there was no reason for him to not.

My brain didn’t register that this person had practically acted like I had the plague last night or that he seemed to be scared of me, judging by the look on his face when he all but ran out of class. All my brain could seem to think was that this guy made everything in me calm, all the anxiety from my confusing day fading away almost as if it had never existed.

I looked up into his face, his expression seeming almost as shocked as mine, even though he had been the one to grab me. The silence between us seemed to have a voice of it’s own, as we stared at each other, something unrecognisable in our expressions.

“I’m Jungkook.”

Chapter Text

Now that I stood in front of him, nothing came to mind. I had spent the whole day trying to decide what I was going to say, not being able to focus on anything else. Now that the time had come my tongue seemed not able to function, my brain a jumble of thoughts.

Finally I blurted out, “I’m Jungkook.” I immediately regretted it, wondering how he would respond to my remark.

“Hi?” It felt more like a question rather than a greeting and I berated myself in my head for causing him discomfort.

“I’m sorry,” I tried. “That didn’t come out like I wanted it to.”

His confused expression didn’t change, and I could sense a hesitancy in his posture. Before I could say any more embarrassing things however, his gaze shifted to something behind me the air between us changing from awkward to scared. I turned to look at what was making him fearful, and my eyes widened when the guy I had seen in the corridor stood a few metres away from us.

I turned back to him, my expression mirroring his. He quickly mumbled out an apology, then before I could stop him, he turned on his heel. Maybe this would be harder than I thought.

+ + +

My spirits didn’t change as my shoes scuffed against the ground, having to walk home since my brother wasn’t available to pick me up. I didn’t know how I was going to approach my current predicament, my mind taking itself in loops, no answer coming to me.

I wanted to convince him to let me be there for him, to let me protect him. To save him. What I didn’t know was how to say that to him. I could flat out tell him but that might make him more awkward than he was in our conversation outside of school.

The pavement looked dull beneath me, my steps heavy. There seemed no answer, and it caused a knot of frustration and hopelessness build inside of me. I tried to clear it from my mind, knowing it wouldn’t help me solve it but it seemed to settle in my gut.

My street came into view and a small piece of happiness joined the tension at the sight of my grandma’s car. I broke into a run, a smile lighting up my face, eager to be surrounded by my family, hoping that it might easy my unsteady feelings inside me.

I ran up the path to the front door, trying to catch my breath as I turned the doorknob, the comforting essence of home hitting me, my dilemma momentarily forgotten.

“Mum I’m home,” I called through the house, chucking my bag aside, before making my way into the kitchen. My mum and grandma greeted me with smiles, and I drank in the smell of whatever they were baking.

My mum grinned at me with a knowing look in her eyes, reaching behind her to produce a plate filled with chocolate chip biscuits. “Your favorite,” she said, as I took one gratefully savouring the taste of freshly baked dough.

“Thanks mum and gran. They’re delicious.”

+ + +

When I entered the dance studio, I was determined to speak to him, the nervousness from yesterday’s class forgotten completely. My heart fell a little when I didn’t initially see him stretching or something.

The minutes ticked by, and I spotted the boy who had been hanging around with him last night, but he didn’t appear. I saw Mz Lee approaching the class, the clock showing exactly five o’clock.

Just as she was about to explain what we were going to do, the door opened and he appeared, looking flustered, like he had run all the way here. Mz Lee gave him a look I couldn’t decipher, but didn’t comment further on his arrival.

His presence made me both calm and hyper. I was glad that he was here, but the topic of how I would approach him sat front and centre in my mind. When break time came, I felt like collapsing, but steeled myself.

My eyes darted around the room, hoping for a glimpse of him. I saw his head just slip out the door, immediately getting to my feet to follow. I peaked out, checking the hallway, but receiving nothing. The corridor was empty, deserted except for a few bags that lay to the side.

My stomach dropped at the thought of him being gone, my mind jumping straight away to the conclusion that he had left class. Closing the door with a somber expression I returned to my bag, gulping down some water, before wiping my head with a towel.

What if he was gone? What if I couldn’t find him tomorrow? What if I never got to save him?

My thoughts ran wild, my nightmare from last night coming to the forefront of my mind. I saw the bullies looming over him, me standing helpless on the side. The tension from before returned full force, my determination slowly dwindling.

A cold sweat ran down my neck, my chest feeling unusually tight. Just when I thought that tears might start forming in my eyes, the door opened. I almost rejoiced, almost reaching out to throw my hand into the air in victory, as he joined the class just in time for Mz Lee to call the end of break.

An energy returned to me, throwing all I had into my dance, feeling almost unstoppable. My heart pounded, blood rushing in my ears. My movements seemed to flow easily, as I danced with something I had never before. A constant smile lay just behind my mouth, and I tried to contain my elation, which seemed so trivial as it was based off of such a small, to some meaningless occurrence.

When the Mz Lee finally called over, I raced to gather my things, before searching for the boy. Luckily for me, he was not hard to find, just chatting with someone, as he packed his bag. I stepped closer, soon beside them. His eyes darted up to mine, a look of recognition clear in his expression.

“Hi again,” he said softly. The person whom he had been chatting with, waved to him before leaving us alone. I could tell that did nothing for his mood, seeing how he stiffened slightly.

“Hi. You remember me!” He nodded in response to my statement although his eyes seemed to be avoiding mine. “I’m-”

“You can’t tell anyone.”

His voice surprised me, and I think that it surprised him too. I tilted my head in confusion, his tone throwing me off. “About what?”

“About me. About dancing here. You can’t tell. You can’t. They can’t know. Please promise me, that you won’t tell them. What am I even saying of course you’ll tell them? Everything is going to be ruined.”

His eyes looked close to tears, my mind frantically trying to comprehend what he had just said.

“Ruined?” My voice was shaking and I mentally cursed myself for letting my composure break.

“Look you already hate me. Everything is going to be worse. They’ll have something else to hurt me for. I’ll deserv-"

“I promise I won’t tell anyone.” My tone was soft in a way that I didn’t know it could be. “Not if you don’t want me too.”

Chapter Text

Wandering through the cemetery it felt like something was watching me. I tried to shake the feeling off, trying to focus on something else. The grass crunched under my feet, as I followed the path I had created for myself, the trail second nature.

The place seemed reasonably empty, except for a woman standing over a headstone. I tried to not picture who she might have lost, hoping that it might have been someone who had lived a full life.

I spotted the stone surrounded by others just like it, last week’s flowers that should have brought sadness based on their dreary look, brought a small sense of home to me. I replaced the dead ones with new yellow ones, a small smile on my lips.

Kneeling down, I placed my hand on the ever so familiar stone. “Hey Papa.” My voice low, the usual lump in my throat creeping up on me. “Did you like the flowers? I don’t know why I chose them, I don’t normally bring yellow ones. For some reason it felt like the right decision. I hope you like them.”

I went quiet for a moment, my eyes drawing to the sky. The day seemed as if it should not fit in a cemetery, but somehow it did. Like it was trying to provide happiness for those grieving. I appreciated it.

“Papa,” my voice sounding vulnerable and weak. “What do I do?” Thoughts ran at a million miles in my head, as I leaned forward to place my head on my hand still resting on the cold stone. “What if I don’t want to stay? What if I can’t stay? What if I miss you too much, miss the family we had?”

My breaths were shaky, and I didn’t even try to hold back my tears. “What if I want mum back? Why did she leave? All she does is work, and she works so hard. I want the mum who smiled at every chance she got, who held me when I cried, ran her hands through my hair. The mum who loved to bake, constantly trying new recipes that we loved. The mum who wasn’t constantly stressed, wasn’t spending every cent she could find on me.”

Guilt washed over me, running through my veins. “She shouldn’t have to provide for a useless son. One that nobody could love, one that nobody ever should love. I want her to be free. I want the people at school to stop telling me things that I already know. I want to stop being so selfish. All I do is take. Mz Lee isn’t even making me pay for my dance classes. She says that she sees my potential, and wants to support me.”

I squeezed my eyes tight, hoping somehow it would all end. “I don’t have potential, Papa. I’m the worst dancer in the world, I can’t do anything. I don’t see what she sees in me, I’m worthless.” I watched my hand shake against the stone, trying to draw in breaths that seemed impossible.

My thoughts wandered to the dance class, and in particular, Jungkook. “Someone knows Papa. They know I dance and they go to my school. They’re going to tell everyone and they’ll hate me even more. I deserve it but it still hurts.”

I barely registered the tears that ran down my cheeks. Crying was something that I had always tried not to do, but it happened more than I liked to admit when I was alone.

“Papa, why is he talking to me? He can’t want to be my friend. Why would anyone want to be my friend? I’m ugly and fat and I don’t have any money. I’m stupid, both in school and out of it. I have too many scars on my body, all of them my fault. Nobody would want to be friends with someone as repulsive as me. Help me Papa, I don’t understand.”

“Come back, make everything right. Make Mama happy, make her smile like she used too, with sparkles in her eyes, her nose scrunching up. Make it so we don’t live like we do, make it all better. Please Papa, comeback and make us happy. We need you to make it better.”

Grief swirled in the pit of my stomach, a choked sob stuck in my throat. “Why do I have to live down here while you're so far from me? Why can't I be there with you? I don't want to live without you. I can’t do it. I can’t get up in the morning, I can’t sleep, I won’t eat. I want to end it, end all the pain.”

I sucked in a breath that seemed to rattle something inside of me. “Can I let go, Papa? I think you would want me to stay. I want to follow what you would say but it’s so hard. Why can’t it all just let me go? Let us be together again. I know that if you were here, or somehow listening you would tell me sharply to stop mopping and do what is right.”

“The truth is, I don’t know what’s right and wrong anymore.” Every emotion that I had bottled up seemed to be breaking. “Every day seems like the last, and endless blur of each other. Only when something good happens, does everything seem to slow down, to make sense again. But what good could possibly happen when you’re not here.”

I tried to think of things that made everything happen at normal pace. “Dancing helps,” I whispered. So does cutting I thought, a tinge of regret. My thoughts seem to stump, when a particular face came to mind. Jungkook seemed to have a presence to him, that made me feel comforted in a way. He did scare me, seeing as he knew my secret, but he also seemed to put something at peace. Did time seem to stop with Jungkook?

I shook my head immediately, trying to rid the thoughts from my mind. Jungkook probably hated me, no I knew he hated me. It didn’t matter what I thought of him. He was probably disgusted at the thought of even knowing me, like he should be.

That seemed to bring me back to reality, and I felt my feet start to go numb. When I looked around me I saw the lady from before had gone, realising I was alone in the alone in the cemetery.

I knew I had been here too long, getting unsteadily to my feet, realising my cheeks were wet with tears. I tried to wipe them with my sleeve, but that didn’t stop those still falling.

“I love you Papa.”

When I turned my back, it felt like every time before it, like I was leaving a piece of me behind. The feelings that I uttered, the emotions I let free, all whispered to the headstone with yellow flowers at its base.

I could do it because I knew deep down that there wasn’t anyone listening to me, as much as I wished there was. I knew deep down, that I was alone.

Chapter Text

It seemed as if every time that I tried, my efforts would just be spit back at me, like rubbing salt into wounds. I had lost count of the amount of times that I had tried to approach the boy, every single one a fail that was flung back at me.

We were nearing a competition for dance class, so I barely had enough energy to breath in the miniscule amount of time Mz Lee gave us for break. I could never seem to catch him before or after the class, so the only other option would be at school.

Which was what I found most difficult. I had promised to him that I would keep his secret, and I feared that if I approached him in school, it would seem as if I were breaking it. I didn’t want him to be uncomfortable around me, but I found that that was the position we found ourselves in on most occasions.

I didn’t know how to get close to him, how to move forward from our current predicament. I let out a sigh, my head dropping to the table. What if I just gave up? I shook my head at no-one in particular. Of course I couldn’t, I had already vowed to help him, and I couldn’t just stop now because I felt like it.

I heard a noise beside me, and looked up to meet my sister’s eyes.

“Hey little brother,” her voice far too cheery for my mood.

I replied with a groan, letting my head fall back onto my pile of books. “Hello dear sister.” I felt her roll her eyes, and copied her, even if she couldn’t see me.

“Whats got your knickers in a twist?” I simply hit my head on my books. “Or should I say who?”

My head snapped up to her, and I winced at the pain in my neck. “Excuse me?”

She let out a smirk to rival mine, seeming to think she’d hit the jackpot. “So it’s a who. Who's the lucky girl?”

“Lucky girl? There is no lucky girl.”

Her gaze was calculating, her smirk still in place. “What are you saying? Was I supposed to say he?”

I let out yet another groan, letting my head it the table for the third time that day. “There is no lucky she or he for that matter. I’m fine.”

“Yeah right, you’ve been distracted for days.” I felt like she was going to put her hand on her hip and start z snapping me. When she spoke however, her voice was much quieter. “Is it because of the move?”

I looked at her surprised, not expecting that. It wasn’t that I wasn’t nervous from the move, considering that I wasn’t the best at meeting new people, but it had kind of fallen into the back of my mind. In all honesty, I hadn’t really thought of it. I had talked to a few of my friends, but really we weren’t that close if you considered it.

I also hadn’t had the urge to befriend any of them, the way I had towards this boy. Maybe it was because it was all very new for someone to be so indecisive to me. First he had approached me then he had run away then asked me to keep a secret. Everything had been a surprise and I was utterly lost in where to step forward in the situation.

I remembered that my sister had been waiting for an answer, and quickly made to reassure her. “No that’s not it, don’t worry.”

“So you admit that there is an ‘it’?” Damn it I thought.

“Well,” I met her curious gaze and couldn’t hold it in anymore. “I having trouble with something.” I paused for moment because I didn’t know how to explain.

“Go on,” she said.

“I need to save someone,” my words rushed. There I had said it.

“You need to save someone? From what?”

I was stumped again. What would she say? “From-”

Just when I was about to continue I overheard part of conversation between two girls walking past our table. “Yeah, I passed him being cornered by them on my way here. It’s a bit sad don’t you think?”

Being cornered? Was it him? I immediately got to my feet, my sister still bewildered. Grabbing my books from the table, I rushed out of the room, as she only just caught up to me.

“Kook, where are you going?”

“I have to see if it’s him.” A thought struck me as I said it. What if he didn’t want me to help? Was I breaking his trust by interfering with what he did at school? What if I did save him? Would he still be uncomfortable around me then?

My mind was a jumble as walked down the corridors, hoping to catch a sight of whatever the girls meant. I didn’t want it to be him, didn’t want to see him cornered by them or worse. As selfish as it was, I wished that it would be someone else shoved against the wall. But I wasn’t that lucky.

When we turned a corner, my eyes immediately fell on the small crowd surrounding a few figures. My heart seemed to leap into my throat and I ripped my eyes away, turning my back on the scene.

“Does that mean it’s him?”

I had almost forgotten that my sister had followed me here. “Yes.” At first I thought she hadn’t heard me, due to the hushed tone of my voice, and the loud ones of those standing behind me. That was until she turned back to me, an almost fiery look in her eyes.

“Aren’t you going to stop them?”

“I can’t.” I winced when I realised how pathetic that sounded.

She placed her hand on her hip, her gaze a little judgmental. “Why not?”

I fiddled with my fingers, running a nervous hand through my hair. “I promised him.”

She narrowed her eyes at me, before turning back to the scene. “Fine then. I will.”

My jaw seemed to drop to the floor, as I tried to frantically shake my head. She didn’t seem to care, stepping closer to the crowd. She couldn’t do this, what if he found out? I would have broken my promise.

I clenched my fist, letting my books drop to the floor. It didn’t matter. I had said I was going to save him, so I would. Before my sister could even reach the crowd, I was pushing through people, until I was in the middle of the circle. Their eyes turned to mine and I tried not to meet the boy on the floors gaze.

“Back off.”

Chapter Text

I was surrounded, pushed to the ground. I was enclosed by not only the bullies, by a ring of people, who all seemed to hold their breaths. Waiting to laugh, to snigger, to call insults as well, silently thanking the gods it wasn’t them. I guess it was the reason that no one ever got between them and me. It was better to sneer, to stand on the sidelines, than to be in my place.

I prepared myself for the first hit to come, just like it always did. The first was swift kick to my side that had me almost crying out in pain. The kick was different, felt as if was reopening an old, deep wound. A wound that now felt fresh and vulnerable, memories of a certain darkness filling my mind.

In my moment of deja vu coupled with a frightening distress, I didn’t notice change in the air around me. When I tentatively raised my head, my mind went blank. I felt as if I was staring up at an angel. A real angel on Earth.

He wasn’t looking at me, but his side profile was enough to get my breath caught in my chest. His hair was tousled, as if hands had run through it a few too many times. His skin was practically glowing.

My brain finally caught up with my fantasy, connecting the angel to a name. Jungkook. I suddenly felt utterly exposed, more so than before. The boy who knew part of what I was hiding, the boy who could so easily add fuel to the hateful comments. The boy who could make it worse.

But then he spoke, the sound clear, ringing in my ears. “Back off.”

The two simple words seemed to throw everybody into chaos. Someone had spoken up, ripples spreading through the crowd. After a moment of shock and surprise, the bully stepped forward, getting in Jungkook’s face. “What you going to do about it faggot?”

“I said back off.”

Against everyone’s expectations, Jungkook didn’t swing the first punch. It should have been an unfair fight, one against four, but at some point a girl stepped in, the scene then turning from a confused disarray, to a full blown pandemonium.

I tried to get to my feet, help in someway, but my side spasmed in pain, making me almost dizzy. I tried to call out, make it stop before someone got really hurt. Something boiled inside of me, but as I took a step, I found that I could barely move, the pain too overwhelming.

A teacher seemed to finally notice the uproar, and in Jungkook, the girl, the bully who threw the first punch, and I, all sat in strained silence. The door of the principal's office opened, and she entered, all giving us a once over.

Her eyes seemed to linger on the bloodied state of Jungkook’s lip, and the already purple condition of the bully’s eye. I couldn’t tell if she noticed to careful way I held my aching side, but her eyes didn’t seem to change, her expression stony.

“So,” she started, sifting through her papers to check something. “I feel as if it is pertinent to ask, what exactly happened?” Her eyes drifted over all of us, to land on me. “Jimin, you start.”

A lump formed in my throat, glancing to my left to meet the threatening gaze of my bully. I quickly looked away, staring down at my knee. I didn’t know what to say. If I told her about the bullying, then it just would get worse. But if I didn’t say that he had thrown the first punch, then Jungkook might get into trouble. I forced myself to meet her eyes, but yet words failed me.

“Jimin,” her voice considerably softer from what it was. “I can’t help you, if you don’t tell me what happened.”

This time I looked to my right, meeting the gaze of Jungkook. His eyes seemed to have a language of their own. As if they were encouraging me, gently urging me to go ahead. It made something in me calm, that even if I did tell her what the bully had done, that he wouldn’t let them harm me. That he would protect me.

“I was walking to lunch,” I managed to stutter out, my hand shaking where it held my waist. “I got cornered.” I didn’t know if I was going to be able to continue. I glanced to my right again. Jungkook’s gaze made me feel as if I could accomplish anything. As if he was squeezing my hand, telling me everything would be alright. “I got cornered by him and two others, and I was pushed to the ground. I was kicked once-”

“On your waist?” she asked, making note of something on a piece of paper beside her.

I nodded in response, digging my fingers into the wound. “It’s been hurt before though.”

Her eyes seemed to be calculating something, her gaze again sweeping the room, stopping on each of us. “Continue.”

And so I did, despite the glare I could feel stabbing me from my left, with every word that fell from my mouth. “Jungkook came in, and he told him to back off.” I faltered, remembering what came next. The insult the bully had spat back.

“What happened?” she prompted carefully.

“I didn’t say anything-”

She held her hand up to silence the bully. “It’s Jimin’s turn to speak, you will have yours after.”

“He said ‘what are you going to do about it, faggot’,” I mumbled, squeezing my eyes shut, preparing myself for a hit, a kick, something, but it never came. The bully seemed slightly speechless, his fists clenched tightly together. I opened my mouth again, for some reason just letting it all out. “When Jungkook told him to back off again, he punched him. You, I’m sorry I don’t know your name,” I said, pointing to the girl, “Stepped in, helping them fight off the others. I tried to help, and then the teacher came. That’s all.”

A weight seemed to be lifted clean off my shoulders, I felt exhausted in relief. I had done it, the principle thanking me, her eyes showing something that almost could have been pride. When she finally dismissed us all, the fear from before was brought back. The bully had a twitch in his eye, his threat clear as day. I wanted to shrink away, to run and hide. To my surprise however, he quickly left when Jungkook and the girl, appeared behind me.

When I turned to thank them, wondering how I could find the words to thank them. “I don’t know why you stood up for me, but thank you.” My eyes fell the Jungkook’s bruised lip, and the small bruises on the girl. “I’m so sorry you got hurt.”

They jumped in immediately, shaking their heads. “Don’t be sorry, it was our choice,” assured the girl.

“Really don’t worry about us. We’re just glad we were able to stop it. How’s your side?” Jungkook’s sincerity almost had me reeling back.

“It’s okay,” I stuttered, cringing at my broken words. “I’ll go see Jin- I mean the nurse. Do you want to come?” I asked, gesturing to Jungkook’s lip. He raised a hand too it, almost as if he had forgotten it was there.

“I guess,” he shrugged. “You coming?” His question directed at the girl. She shook her head, saying that she wasn’t that bad, and that she would get his books for him.

As we made our way over to the nurse's office a thought hit me. Was Jungkook and this girl together? A foreign feeling slithered in my stomach, unpleasant on my tongue, as if I wanted to vomit. As I knocked on the door, I contemplated what it would mean if they were together. Why did I want to run away at the thought of it? Why did it bother me so much?

Chapter Text

“You named your pillow Stark?”

“Hey don’t judge,” I replied, raising my hands defensively, but Jimin only laughed.

Grinning up at him, Jimin’s eyes glinted with amusement. “What next? Do you have a blanket named Tony?” I could only scratch the back of my neck, avoiding his eyes. It only made him laugh harder, the sound so beautiful to me, I had to smile in response. “You’re such a child."

“Me?” I spluttered, my mouth falling open, with a hand over my heart. “Oh how little you think of me, Jimin.”

“That’s hyung to you,” mirth boiling in his eyes. “Kid,” he added with a smirk.

"I'm still taller than you," I pointed out, puffing my chest out before cheekily adding, "H yung."

"Well I'm older so I win," he concluded, grinning at me, my chest feeling warm.

"Fine you win," I said quietly, then because I couldn't help myself. "I am still taller right?"

"Aish," he cried, stamping his foot in mock annoyance.

Our banter continued, the nurse checking in on us from time to time. Although my lip had been tended too, he allowed us to stay, although I didn’t really know why. He seemed really nice, and Jimin seemed comfortable with him like they were old friends.

Soon the school bell was ringing, much to my dismay. The time seemed to have flown by, Jimin’s presence enjoyable, our conversation flowing naturally. I waved goodbye to him, calling out that I’d see him in dance class before pouting slightly, while he scrunched up his nose in response. An easy laugh fell from my lips, my chest feeling light, the world suddenly not so dull.

Pushing the thoughts of what that could mean away, I adjusted the straps on my bag, intending to make my way out the front of the school. Before I could even make it to the gate, I voice was calling my name, footsteps loud as the slapped against the concrete.

“Jungkook. Thank god I caught up with you in time. I thought you might have already left.”

Slightly bewildered, I cocked my head to the side. “Nurse Kim? Is something wrong?”

The older boy shook his head, drawing in breaths after his run to find me. “Call me Seokjin, and no there’s nothing wrong. In fact it’s the opposite. I wanted to thank you.”

My confusion hadn’t worn off, so I simply asked him, “What for?”

He seemed to finally catch his breath, righting himself, to look at me with a smile. “For making Jimin laugh. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that happy. And you were the one who made his eyes disappear from that smile of his.”

“Oh that,” I mumbled, my hand rubbing over the back of my head in embarrassment. “It’s was really nothing. It was great fun talking to him.”

“Well,” said Seokjin, the warm smile not leaving his face. “Intentional or not, I still would like to thank you. That boy,” he paused for a moment, contemplating what his next words would be. “Has been through a lot, quite a bit of it he’s still going through. It’s more than anyone would probably like to admit, including him. Today, you made him seem like he had no problems in the world, the carefree 17 year old he should be. No forced smiles, no lies of everything is fine."

Seokjin’s gaze continued to hold mine, making sure that I was taking everyone of his words for what they were.

“Jimin was happy. And that’s all the biggest thing that I wish for that boy. To be able to be happy. So Jungkook, yes. Thank you a million times.”

There was a silence, before I steeled myself to speak, having the uncanny urge to let tears fall. “I made a promise, well two actually,” I started, my voice a little shaky at first, but gaining strength. “One I made to Jimin, and one I made to myself. I want you to know that I wish to honour mine, and I hope that Jimin will be able to forgive me for breaking his. I want him to be happy too, want him to smile whenever, just because there are clouds in the sky, or just because he feels like it. I want him to be happy, just as much as you.”

I drew in a long breath, still holding his look. “I want him to be happy because he deserves it. He doesn’t deserve the darkness that surrounds him, no one does.” I stopped for a moment to compose myself again.

“The promise I made to myself, at the time I wasn’t thinking. Too much filled my mind, and I decided to swear it too myself without thinking of anything else, what it might mean, what lengths I would have to take. But as a statement to that, it doesn’t mean I’m giving up.”

My knees seemed close to shaky, but that didn’t stop me. “I tell this too you because you seem to care about him, as much as I am learning to do. Finding out that the road is long and hard, doesn’t make me cower in fear, but instead try harder. Because considering everything he’s been through, it just makes him deserve it even more.”

This quiet was longer than the one before it, both studying each other, reflecting on what each person said.

“Thank you.” Seokjin’s voice was soft, but resonated through the air between them. “Thank you for showing me that people like you, really do exist in the real world.”

“Jimin is starting to be one of the things I care about. Really, I think he’s already one of those things.” I stopped for a moment, letting our eyes meet again. “Can I thank you?”

He looked mystified, but shrugged his shoulders. “What for?”

“For caring about him too.”

Chapter Text

I can't remember the last time there was someone who seemed to show interest in me. I had cut off all ties with people around me following my father's death, and for as long as I could really remember, that was how I functioned. I had numbed myself from those who surrounded me, especially those who found amusement in throwing a punch at me because they were bored.

The memories that were filled with my father, seemed to be locked away inside me, in a place where they couldn't plague my mind, slowly ripping down my sanity. Of course I hadn't forgotten about him, would never forget about the person who, like my mother, raised me from day one, always there supporting and caring for me.

Ever since he had been taken from me, everything seemed harder. The most menial things, such as getting out of bed, took an almost painful amount of effort. The biggest thing, and something I might never admit, was loving myself and appreciating myself. I no longer saw any pride in my achievements, saw nothing special in myself. Really, I don't know how I ever did.

My body, mind, existence appeared utterly worthless to me. I didn't know why I was even present in this world, why I chose to burden everyone around me, when it would be a much better place with me gone. I weighed down my mother the most, so much that she barely ate to feed me.

I always tried to refuse, claiming that she needed it much more than me, that I didn't work as much as her. It usually worked, not that I would eat much if it didn't. My body was fat enough, and I didn't want to be even more revolting than I already was.

Every part of my body was ugly, especially the scars that ran up my arms, some freshly bandaged. They were another constant reminder that I was useless, unworthy. They were a sign of my weakness, hate for myself woven into each one.

I didn't know why I couldn't just let go, to leave everyone to live in peace like they would without me. Why I couldn't join my father, leave this world that I where I wasn't wanted or needed. Where I didn't even belong.

The idea that there was someone else who cared to interact with me, or show even the tiniest inclination that they might want to know more about me, was so foreign, was that my first reaction was to run. And run I had.

I had been scared of Jungkook, the idea of someone knowing me, seeing me for the worthless person I actually was. I had made him promise he wouldn't tell anyone that I attended a dance class, fearing of further punches or such thrown my way. He had been so sincere, but seemed to be behind every corner I turned.

Somehow despite it all, I wanted to trust him, wanted to think that he might keep my secret, save me from further humiliation. My heart had been constantly in my throat, as we tiptoed around each other, unable to focus on anything else.

Yet while we did, I felt a small part of me rejoice every time he came close. Some part of me that hoped we could possibly be friends, that he might accept the ugly, worthless person that I was.

Trust had been hard for me after my father's death, like most things. I was scared to be honest and place my trust in another person, in fear that, like he, they would be stolen from me when I least expected it. One day they would be by my side, and the next they would slip from my grasp. How could I let someone in, if they could leave any second?

Yet as Jungkook stood before me, something in me screamed to take every risk, to forget about the consequences, or the waters that lay at the bottom of the cliff. It urged me to take the step, to jump and not worry as my body came closer and closer to the waves that lapped at the cliff's edges.

A part of me wanted to forget that my whole being was meaningless, and terribly unimportant. That I held others down, that I was better dead than alive. A part of me begged to get lost in a life I could only dream of, free of my self doubt and loathing.

Jungkook had a way of making me feel weightless, drifting in the clouds. It wasn't the numbness that I had built to protect myself, in fact the exact opposite. It was a blissful happiness, one that belonged with the sun, flowers dancing in the soft breeze, laughter filling your ears.

It was as if Jungkook was offering the life I had made myself forget, one full of my complete family, where my mother's smiles were second nature, a regular occurrence. The ones I hadn't realised to cherish, to love as if they were the most precious gift.

Jungkook seemed to radiate a life where getting out of bed was nothing more than a huff, or a grumble that you weren't able to sleep longer. I yearned for the easiness in which he experienced life, constant, looming worry not present in every moment.

I wanted to give him everything, yet nothing all at once. Wanted to take the risk of exposing my world to him, yet wanted to run from him life before. Wanted to see him in my rear view mirror, so that I wouldn't have to face rejection, or worse, the possibility of him being taken from me unexpectedly.

My gaze raised to join with his, leaving my nervously shaking hands. His look was almost cautious, as if he was scared that he might say or do something wrong. I didn't know whether to take it good or badly. Maybe I didn't really care.

Maybe, somehow, he might actually want to be my friend, might actually care for me in some way. Maybe I could forget about what was next to come, where we might stop at next. I offered him a small smile, as if to reassure him. He quickly offered one in return, his posture visible relaxing, his eyes brighter than before.

"Shall we?"

He gestured to the large house in front of him, the one that had blown my breath away. One that reminded me so much of my old house, that it made something pang mournfully in my chest.

It was something as normal as visiting a friends place, yet I felt as if it was something far more than Jungkook leading me into his house. I glance down at my no longer shaking hand, then back up at his face.

Another smile stretched easily across my face, simple and genuine. I release a breath that I didn't know I had been holding.

"Lead the way."

It wasn't everything, I didn't think I was ready to give him everything yet. But it was a step, a step towards the cliff's edge. I could almost feel the sea breeze whipping my hair across my face, smell the salt. I thought maybe if I were to reach out a hand, that I might have Jungkook's grasped in mine.

It wasn't everything, but maybe someday it would be.

Chapter Text

Days trickled into months, time seeming just to pass by. The sun was disappearing for longer, the weather slowly growing cold and grey. People huddled against the wind, protecting themselves with scarfs and fluffy jackets, relishing in their homes, warmth surrounding them, blankets wrapped tightly around them.

The winter brought another change with it, one that crept through me slowly, making me almost not realise it. The time I spent with Jimin increased, though I was not at all disgruntled by it. The days felt, somehow, like something I had stolen something, had hold of something I shouldn't have.

Spending time with him became almost a necessity. I could never seem to get enough of the smiles that reached his eyes, that took over his face, shining impossibly bright. I took every single one as a sign of hope, that it the end everything would be alright.

I had to catch myself sometimes, had to remind myself that I was trying to save him. But the task was somehow seeming impossible. I didn’t know what I was saving him from anymore. The bullies had stopped, taking both the principles and my involvement as an indicator that it would be best to stop.

In the beginning, I thought that in order to save him, that I would just need to protect him from the bullies. But something still felt off, as if there was still a part of him holding back. I could see it in the way he sometimes slipped up, letting something slip out that I knew from his facial expressions, that he hadn’t meant to say.

There were times where he wouldn’t even meet my eye, that it was so obvious to me that he wasn’t telling me something, that I didn’t get to see or know everything. There were times where he would catch himself, just as I did.

But even if I wanted him to let me in, I chose to treasure every moment that I was given. That I would not push for more, would wait for the day that he would let me in, not just a foot in the door, but to have the door wide open.

I wanted the moments where he slipped up, let me in intentionally, wanted them to be always there. Where the lines would become softer, melt away. The mask he wore would unhinge, fall around his neck, to be like his face should be.

He shined even brighter than his smile, his usually blank and hard expression turning softer. His eyes were so pure and hopefully, mesmerising, his happiness unmistakably abundant, every muscle blissfully relaxed. It wouldn’t be a surprise if his mouth quirked up in the side, an unconscious action, or if a full blown smile, rising to his eyes, were to occur.

Yet to me, it was heartbreaking. No one had ever told me, that something so impossibly free, could cause such pain. Nobody told me that a simple, easy smile, might make my heart clench horribly, or a carefree laugh could bring up feelings of grief and loss.

I hadn’t ever been told, that finding someone who could be so happy, content and consciously held himself back from said happiness, would cause such a sorrow to twist itself inside me. The potential for such joy always being locked away, that Jimin never willingly took off his mask.

Would I ever be able to get Jimin to let go of his facade? Would I ever be able to destroy the mask, and everything thought that came with it? Would there ever be a day where Jimin was free?

Thoughts swirled on and on through my head, curling themselves around each other, more and more questions arising. I didn’t notice the people that milled around me, an endless sea of mindless chatter, talk of plans for the weekend, everyone headed for the school gates, hurrying home. I somehow found myself in a empty corridor, to caught up in my head to see where my footsteps had taken me.

Resigning to join the crowd again and find my way to my locker, I turned on my heel. But before I could fully turn, a noise drifted to me. Eyebrows drawing together, I attempted to follow the noise. It got louder and louder, muffled voices and some scuffling.

Finally I turned a corner, my eyes going wide. Ducking back out of sight, I peeked around the corner to see an all too familiar sight. A group of boys surrounded a figure on the ground, who was being held down. The very recognizable figure of the boy who used to torment Jimin, stood in the middle, looking down onto someone.

Trying to get a closer look, ready to intervene, I saw a flash of a face. I felt so guilty when I let out a relieved sigh. Guilt plaguing me, as I slid down the wall, thankful that it wasn’t him, horribly thankful that it wasn’t Jimin that they towered over. I shouldn’t be relieved that it was another poor boy who was stuck in their vicious cycle of bullying, but I couldn’t help it.

Before I could even decide about what course of action to follow, scuffling stopped, followed by a thud, and the voices slowly got further and further away, till nothing but the ragged breaths of someone were heard.

Craning my head around, I spotted him lying, huddled in on himself, alone. Before I could stop myself, my feet were moving, slowly approaching. I cleared my throat to let my presence be known, saddened by his flinch.

I kneeled beside him, as he pushed himself up on shaking hands. I wanted to reach out and help, but decided against it. His eyes blinked up to met mine, his hair falling messily across his face. His cheeks were wet, his frame shaking.

“Are you okay?”

Stupid question, I told myself. Of course the boy was not okay. Cursing myself internally, I tried to squash my embarrassment.

“I’m okay.” His voice was a little cracked, and I couldn’t help but notice the careful way he clutched his arm.

“Of course you're not, I’m sorry for asking.” I extended my hand in offering. “Here, I’ll take you to the nurse.”

He looked surprised, ready to shake his head. “No, please I’m fine.” His wince was unmistakable.

“The nurse is really nice, I promise he’ll bandage you up,” I leaned a little closer to make my next sentence more prominent. “And if you ask him not to, he won’t tell.”

His eyebrows furrowed, and he searched my face. Apparently deciding that I could be trusted, he gripped my hand and I helped him up. Refusing my help to walk, I lead him slowly down a few corridors, thankful that we didn’t have to pass through the throng of students.

With a final look for confirmation, and a nod of his head in response, I knocked on the door. When it opened, Seokjin raised an eyebrow at me, before he turned to the slightly shaking boy next to me. His posture immediately changed, quickly assessing him, before ushering him inside. Just before he closed the door, he shot me a look.

I could only heavily sigh in response, before the door swung shut.

Drawing in a deep breath, I focused my attention back on the corridor, trying to remember what I was supposed to be doing. I spotted Jimin walking past the office, and all thoughts of the boy seem to fly away. Making my way to greet him, I couldn’t help the smile that tugged on the corner of my lips.

“Jimin wait up,” I called out after him, raising my voice so he could hear me.

He turned at the sound, a smile of his own taking over his mouth. I wanted to grasp the smile, bottle it up and keep it forever. I fell into step beside him, and I followed him out into the front on the school. We caught up on the boringness of whatever classes we had both had, making our way down the path.

I was just about to mention something about the homework that my teacher had set, when Jimin stopped dead in his tracks, I followed his eyes to where they were locked, travelling to a figure in front of us.

Looking back at Jimin to question what was happening, I was taken aback to see the expression on his face. He looked broken, emotion flooding his face. His mouth opened and closed wordlessly, his eyes still fixed.

“Hey Jiminie! I’ve been waiting for ages. How is my little brother?”

Chapter Text

"I'll let you guys catch up okay?" Jungkook shot me a smile I couldn't bring myself to return. "See tomorrow, hyung."

I so desperately wanted to call him back, to ask him to stay. I didn't want to face my mother's reaction to my older brother, if anything I wanted him to be there. I didn’t want a confirmation that my brother meant more to my mother, than I did. That I wasn’t enough to keep her from falling into her own despair.

Even though I might never be able to admit it, Jungkook calmed everything in me, just with his presence. He was an anchor, keeping me sane. It was not okay that he was waving to me over his shoulder, wasn't okay that he slipped around to corner, wasn't okay that he wasn't still here.

I don't think my brother understand or recognized any of my internal battles, probably too nervous himself to notice the way my hands shook, how I hang my head low, accepting that I would be in this alone.

I slowly lead him up down the path, our walk silent. I didn’t know if it was my facial expressions, or my lack of speech that held him back, but whatever it was I wanted it to stay. I didn’t want to accept that this wa reality, wanted to wake up at any moment, and realise this horrible nightmare.

Carefully avoiding his eyes the whole way, so that I wouldn't see pity shining from them, I held my head low. My feet followed the familiar footpath, and before long we were at the door, as I pulled the key from my pocket.

I paused for a moment, hesitating. I looked up at my brother, then back down at the door. He lifted and eyebrow in question, confused to as why I hadn't yet opened the door.

It was silly, I knew it was. It was silly that I didn't want to let him in, more rather let him into my life. My life no longer seemed to hold my older brother, him falling out of my schedule long before now. He didn't fit anymore into my routine, didn't seemed right in the landscape.

Letting him into the apartment, meant showing him the life I had had to face, had been forced to adapt to. After mother and I were left to provide for ourselves, there had been no other choice than the very small apartment, that barely passed for a proper shelter for us.

After the loss of my father, then disappearance of my older brother, we had been forced to sell his childhood home to buy our essentials. It kept us alive in between the period of time where mother and I had to search for jobs.

Letting my brother into the apartment, which reflected none of the life I now only dreamed about, would mean letting him back into my life in a way. It meant opening up a small part of myself, that I had barely even showed to Jungkook. Drawing in a deep breath, I twisted the key, then pushed open the door.

A full thirty seconds passed, my brother neither moving or making a sound. I would be concerned if his chest wasn't rising and falling. I still could reach his eyes, the pity definitely pouring out of them in waves. I moved to enter, depositing my bag on the mattress in the corner.

I rummaged through the cupboards, looking for tea bags I already knew we didn’t have. They weren’t a necessity, so they were seldom brought. After finding nothing from my fruitless quest, it left with nothing to do, other than face him.

He still seemed shocked, his expression one that I had seen all too many times before. It was on the faces of the people who attended my father’s funeral, on the faces of the teachers at school when they yet again turned a blind eye, on the face of my dance teacher when I asked her if I could pay from my classes next week.

It was an expression which I despised. I didn’t want people’s pity, didn’t want them to try and put themselves in my shoes. I wanted to feel normal, like my life wasn’t just a jumble of tragedies.

“Welcome home,” I said feebly, not knowing what else to say. This was my home, although it never felt that way to me. The faulty appliances, the heat which never worked and the water which only sometimes ran warm. The mattress that lay on the floor, right next to the beaten couch. The living, dining and kitchen all crammed into one, the mattress out of place, my mother’s mirroring it across the room.

“I don’t understand.” It was one of the only times I could remember, that my brother sounded so young. Like a child begging his mother for an explanation, even if he didn’t understand it either. His eyes fell on mine, and I wanted to turn away. “Can’t we go home?”

Something seemed to break inside of me, as if his sadness awoke mine. “You can’t because there is no home.” My mind took over my mouth, words flowing from some part of me that I usually kept locked away, dreams and cries pouring from me.

“There is no path that we can follow to lead us to the door, no front lawn covered in small flowers, the smell of mum’s baking wafting out the windows. There isn’t the exciting feeling that we get, when we spot dad’s car in the driveway meaning he came home early.”

I let everything go, for once not caring to hold back my words. “Mum isn’t standing in the kitchen, waiting for you to run and hug her legs, while dad throws me in the air in greeting, bringing me down so I can fling my arms around his neck, with a loud ‘Papa’s home!’. It’s all gone, we can’t go home.”

I broke from his gaze, my breaths ragged, tears falling down my cheeks. “This is it.”

We stood in utter silence, nothing but the sound of our broken and breathless sobs which broke and stuttered from our chests. Through the pain, there seemed to be a swirl of relief. Relief that I had let go, said the words that I had kept to myself, exposed a throbbing, heartbroken side of myself.

I heard him draw in a big breath, wondering if he was going to say something. Before any words fell from his lips, the doorknob turned, breaking our silence. My mother’s figure appeared as the door swung open. Her eyes first fell on me, then, as dread built inside me, to my brother.

He turned as if in slow motion, eyes meeting hers. My world shifted around me, as my mother’s eyes lay transfixed on his face. Then, her lips drew up, curling on the edges. It reached her eyes, glowing so bright, too bright.

She had smile, a real smile, and it broke every little piece of me. I wasn’t enough, was never enough. And this was proof of exactly that.

All that was left to do was run. Slip past them, and let my feet carry me away. My mother didn’t need me, didn’t want me.

Nobody did.

Chapter Text

My mind seemed, as usual, tangled around itself caught up in questions, with no answers ever presenting themselves. After giving up on entertaining myself at home, feeling awfully contained in my bedroom, I returned to the streets, once again wandering.

The sky was darkening, the sun slipping away to make way for the moon. The clouds were a beautiful orange, but even a sunset could not distract me from the mutterings in my head. I was glad that my mother had forced me to wear a jacket, before I went out the door, the breeze fluttering by.

I passed generic houses, all their lawns perfectly trimmed and well kept. The lights were on in a few rooms, and for a moment I pictured a happy family all sat round a table, enjoying their meal and each other’s company. The little boy was showing off the project he had just finished and they were all admiring it.

Somehow, my mind still fell back to Jimin, picturing him at my family’s dining table, smile smooth and not faked, myself enjoying my mother’s delicious food, as well as his presence beside me. We all chatted well into the night, retiring to the living room for hot chocolate, laughter bubbling from everyone.

I knew my parents liked Jimin, they had told me countless times before, pleased that I had found a friend in a new school. I could tell they admired his modesty and soft spoken words, finding him kind hearted and sweet.

I could feel my mother’s gaze on me sometimes, could catch her mind wandering. Her lips were pressed together, her eyebrows drawn together in thought. I always wondered if she had worked something out, knew something just by looking at him.

As my feet pressed further along the sidewalk, my mind continued to twist and turn, working faster than I could keep up with, thoughts slipping off each other and out of reach. I found myself on a familiar path, illuminated only by streetlights.

My eyes followed the bridge, a few cars passing over it. I watched for a few moments, standing still simply observing, before my eyes drifted further, to a shadow. It fell behind a figure, whose feet dangled over the edge, back turned towards me.

Before I could stop myself, my feet propelled me over the road, draw towards the figure. As I got closer and closer, a lump rose in my throat, everything utterly familiar.

I tried to speak, at first my words completely failing me, until I could croak out a shaky, “Jimin?”

His head whipped to the side, gaze meeting mine. My heart was beating painfully in my ears as my eyes swept over his tear stained cheeks.

“Jimin.” My breath was shaky, and I struggled for words.

His mouth opened and closed wordlessly, before he said, “How-” then another pause. “You have to go. You can’t see me like this.” His words would almost sound strong, if not for the shakiness of them.

“I can’t.”

His eyes filled with more tears, and I wanted to wipe them away, as if they never existed.

“Why not? Please, I need to do this. You don’t understand, but you have to trust me. Everything will be alright. Please forgive me.” He looked as if he was going to reach out to me, but his hand remained my him. “It’s not your fault.” His voice was soft, too soft. “I’m sorry that I disappointed you, I’m sorry that I’m so useless. Please don’t cry Kookie.”

“Please Jimin, please don’t.” I had to hold back a sob, tried not to think of what this all meant. I needed to get him down, needed it more than anything. I had never seen Jimin like this, so far gone, misery stamped all over him. “You don’t have to go. You can stay. Anything, please don’t leave me like this Jimin, please.”

Jimin was shaking, and I suspected that I was too. "Kookie, please. In a life where everybody has left me, how am I expected to be the one to stay? I’m not strong enough, I can’t do it."

I reached out a hand to gently enclose his, lifting it until his palm flush against me. "I haven't left." Underneath his fingers, my heart beat rhythmically, my heart beat for him. “I’m still here.”

His tear filled eyes met mine, watery but still beautiful. I took another step forward, and another, till I was right beside him, his hand still grasped in mine.

“You aren’t alone, you won’t be alone anymore. I’ll help you fight, I’ll help you stay.”

I still held my breath, watching his face until it broke. His shoulders slumped forward, the fight draining out of him. I reached up gently to pull him down, until I had him in my arms. I drew him close, sliding to my knees.

“I’ve got you, Jiminie. I’m right here.”

I rocked us side to side, wiping the tears that still fell from his eyes, arms enclosing him. I whispered reassurances to him over and over, repeating them like a mantra. Only when his body completely slumped, going limp in my arms, did I allow myself to fall silent.

I had almost lost him, almost had him slip from my grasp. I couldn’t imagine what wouldn’t have happened it I had been here, if I had arrived a few minutes later. I tried to remind myself that Jimin was still alive, remember that he was in my arms, his chest rising and falling. I tried to tell myself that he wasn’t floating in the dark depths of the water, hadn’t left me.

My grip instinctively tightened around Jimin’s smaller body. Only then did I realize how cold his skin was to touch, how thin his clothing was. Shrugging out of my coat, careful not to disturb him, I slipped it over him not caring that the wind slipped through my t-shirt.

Before I could let my brain slip back into dread and guilt, my back pocket vibrated, and I pulled out my phone to see it flashing ‘Mum’. Glancing up at the sky, remembering the lateness of the night, I swiped my finger across the screen to raise it to my ear.

“Hello?” I didn’t mean for my voice to come out so torn, wincing at the sound of it.

“Jungkook? Where are you?”

I looked up and down the bridge, eyes travelling over rails and streetlights.

“I’m on the bridge,” I managed to get out.

I could practically see my mother’s worried face from over the phone. “The bridge? What happened?” I immediately looked down at Jimin, who I still held closely. “Kook, talk to me.”

“He was on the bridge, and I was really worried.” My mind took over my mouth, moving automatically. “I got him down, but I was so scared. What if I hadn’t been here? I’m still scared now and I don’t know what to do.”

My mother’s voice was reassuring, the same tone that I had used for Jimin. Soft and so familiar, like it had a power of it’s own. It brought me a little peace, like the middle of the storm, the eye of the tornado. A moment of calm in a whirlwind of everything at once. “I’m coming, Kook. Don’t worry.”

How could I not worry, if Jimin had just sat on the edge of the bridge, telling me that everything would be alright? How would anything be alright? How could I function in a world without him?

I burrowed my nose into Jimin’s neck, my phone slipping to the side. I could feel the steady beat of his heart, letting my tears fall. “ Please don’t leave me .”

Chapter Text

I couldn’t feel anything. There were noises around me, almost like chattering but it was drowned out by something else entirely. They sounded like sirens, but they seemed able to consume any other thought around me.

After what felt like years, I noticed that my eyes were closed. Feeling seemed to grow in my arms and legs, and only then did I realize how empty it had felt before

Slowly, ever so slowly, I opened my eyes. I felt as if I should know the place, a feeling of deja vu clung to my mind. It was as if every thought and action I did was in slow motion, as I turned my head to look left and right, I realized that I was standing somewhere.

Suddenly I felt something painful jolt through me. I was on a bridge. My eyes fell to the side, and I saw myself. For some reason, it felt entirely normal as I watched myself sit on the ledge. I felt no need to move or talk, I just watched.

I knew my face too well, knew what the hunch in my shoulders meant. Could see the way my shoulders slowly shook. I knew what was going to happen, knew exactly why I was sitting on the ledge, so I waited. It didn’t feel right to do anything but watch.

I watched the was my shoulders drew back, the way I sat up a little straighter. I knew that this way the end. My lips turned up on the sides, a smile I hadn’t meant to make. It was almost wistful, as I whispered to myself, goodbye.

I didn’t care about the footsteps that seemed to be getting louder, or the sounds of cars driving by. It was almost in slow motion as I saw myself push off the edge, watch myself fall, watch myself disappear.

The sirens seemed to fade into nothing, and something overwhelming swept over me. Everything seemed to go silent, the twist of my lips almost bitter sweet. It felt like relief. It was over.

But then it was broken. A voice broke through the peace, a voice that felt so utterly tragic. I opened the eyes I didn’t know I had closed, and they immediately fell to a figure hunched on the ground in front of me. The hair strands were oddly familiar, and I felt my feet move by themselves.

I almost reeled back when the figure screamed again. So full of anguish and despair. The person seemed to be saying something. Saying my name. He repeated ‘Jimin’ over and over again. He turned his face upwards, knees still folded underneath him.

There were tears on his face, and with a startle I saw that it was Jungkook, hunched on the pavement, face grief-stricken, as if someone had just told him that he had lost everything he had. He seemed to be reaching out the edge of the bridge, reaching out for what I thought might actually be me.

My breath caught in my throat. I wanted nothing more than for Jungkook’s expression to disappear, to be replaced with his bunny smile or his small pout. Even if it was the smug smirk that Jungkook only got when he had won something, I would replace it with anything other than what was there now.

I tried reaching out, to try to console him, but he just seemed to ignore me, eyes still focused on the ledge.

“Kookie, I’m right here.”

His face stayed the same, not changing at all, and he didn’t even look up.

“Stop crying, please, Kook I’m still here.” I was pleading now. “Please Kookie, I’m just here, just look at me.” My tears now matched his, the peaceful moment I had had long forgotten. My chest felt too tight, as I tried to grip his arm. “Why can’t you hear me? I’m right here.”

I was getting frantic, my hands shaking. Why wasn’t Jungkook listening? Through my panicked haze, I hadn’t realized that he was getting to his feet. My blood ran cold. He took another step forward, and before I knew it he was on the edge, where I had been just before.

I couldn’t draw breath, everything seemed to be closing in on me. “Kook, what are you doing?” I strangled out. “Please get down.” I tried reaching out and pulling him down, but I couldn’t even seem to grab him in the first place. He was getting further and further away from me. I tried to run forward, but he stayed the same.

“Why did you leave me Jimin?”

It wasn’t my own whisper, and it had me frozen to the spot. I was so close to Jungkook all of a sudden, but my hands were glued to my sides.

“Why was I not enough?”

I wanted to scream, to beg, to call out. I wanted to tell Jungkook that I was right here, that I was sorry for everything. I wanted to tell him that he was enough, that I was stupid for jumping, that everything was my fault. That I would find a way to fix it, if he just got down from the ledge.

His back didn’t straighten like mine had, instead he stayed hunched over himself. I somehow still knew that it was the end. I knew even if I said it, there really would be no fix. If I had stood their quietly, blissfully watching myself do the exact same thing, why was it different for him.

I couldn’t watch his disappear off the edge, couldn’t do it with a smile like I had done my own. When I opened my eyes again to see the empty ledge, I suddenly understood why my mother had always said that suicide was selfish.

I had willingly watched myself fall off the edge of the bridge, not a word falling from my mouth. But as I watched Jungkook approach the ledge, I had felt broken, devastated. Maybe not for everyone, but my suicide had been selfish, the way I had watched it had been selfish.

I might have thought that in that moment it was the most selfless thing to do, but as I stared at the empty space on the bridge, I knew I had broken Jungkook’s heart, had forced him to join me, had forced him to take his own life as well.

Agony seemed to twist itself around my lungs, guilt winding itself across my chest. It gripped their even after I fell to my knees, had been my last thing to feel as everything else seemed to slip away, until I was nothing but the torture only seemed to grow.

But as it all seemed to be finally ending, fading away, I knew, really, that it had all been my fault.

+ + +

My mind was in a daze, my eyes to tired to open. I could hear soft voices, but they were all jumbled together, to my ears they were just sounds. I could feel them, running through me, as if I was touching the thing that made them.

What ever I was laying on was soft and warm, and I almost whined when the comfort was gone. I think that maybe I was moving, although my brain wouldn't grasp many thoughts for long. I heard another noise, a small click, and more murmurs.

And then the warmth was back. Content bubbling inside me, I shuffled closer, burrowing into something sturdy and comforting. Something else was moving, and I imagined a fleeting image of myself on a boat, rocking side to side.

I didn't know where the boat was taking me, but I let it pull me back into unconsciousness. What might have been fingers carded through my heart, and although I didn't know who they belonged to, my sleep addled brain told me not to worry. I was safe now.

Chapter Text

The ache in my neck, coupled with a light being shone onto my eyelids was what kickstarted my brain into action. I reached up a hand to wipe across my face, stretching out to other which had gone numb from me laying on it.

I blinked around my room, which felt odd waking up in and not being in my bed. I didn’t know exactly how I had ended up on the floor, vaguely remembering that I had fallen asleep in the armchair that my mum had brought in, somehow understanding that I wouldn’t leave the room.

With a groan, I pushed myself up from the hard wooden floor. My legs were stiff from laying down, and I quickly deposited myself in the armchair. A pain was throbbing up my back, but I tried to ignore in, my eyes instead falling upon the figure curled under my sheets.

My brain flashed images of the night before. I tried to stop myself from asking what if, tried to assure myself that Jimin was here, that Jimin was alive. But could I keep it that way, I asked myself. What if it happened again?

I thought back to the night before. Everything in me had felt so cold and frozen but my mind had felt on fire. I felt like I was sinking into images and memories. As if I had a grip on something that was slowly falling apart.

I saw a body lying on the bottom of a river, cold and still, hair floating softly in the water. I saw the scene up on the ledge, but I’d got their too late, because there nobody sitting on the bridge, just a floating body on top of the water, nothing left for me to save.

A noise broke my thoughts and my eyes snapped to the bed. Jimin’s eyes were still closed, but his hands gripped tightly onto the sheets. His whole body was tensed, his face contorted as if he was in pain. His mouth opened and closed as if he wanted to say something but no words came out.

His body started to thrash side to side and I quickly got to my feet, moving to his side. I didn’t know what to do, as I sat down on the bed next to him. It was hard to maneuver around his flailing arms but I managed to grip onto his shoulders, carefully shaking him.

If felt like forever before his eyes flew open, tears streaming down his cheeks. He immediately jerked away from me, as if he didn’t recognize me.

“Hey,” I said, trying to keep my tone soft. “It’s just me, okay?

All of a sudden he was moving towards me, gripping onto the front of my shirt. His face was buried in my shoulder and I felt his tears seep through my shirt.

“You can’t jump, Kook, please you can’t.”

I drew my arms around his waist, resting my cheek against the top of his head. “I’m right here, and I’m not ready to leave you okay? I’m staying for as long as you’ll let me.”

It was as if we were in an alternate universe. It seemed an eternity ago where I had been begging for him to hold onto this world, promising anything if he would simply stay . Now I was reassuring him, as he pleaded for me to not make the same choice he almost had.

I slowly rocked us side to side, a feeling of deja vu washing over me from the night before. I whispered soft words for what felt like an infinity until Jimin’s body stopped shaking and his grip on my t-shirt loosened.

He moved his head from my shoulder, shuffling backwards a little to sit in front of me. Slowly he looked up to meet my eyes, his own red and puffy with tears streaked along his cheeks.

“I’m so freaking sorry, Kook.”

“No. Don’t ever apologize for something like that. It’s not your fault.”

“But it was.” Jimin’s hand found mine and gripped it tightly. “I had this dream…” he paused for a moment, drawing in a shaky breath. “I realized that what I did was not what I wanted. I don’t really know how to hold onto to this, my life, but I want to try.”

My words seemed stuck in my throat, tight and constricting. “You’re going to stay?” My voice was choked and shaky, but I felt filled with something warm and vibrant. Something like hope spread through my veins.

Jimin’s eyes never let go of mine, as a small smile light up the edges of his lips. “I’ll try but you got to help me.”

It took a moment, but a grin split the edges of my face, my eyes glistening with tears of my own. “I promise.”

Jimin’s small smile grew and his grip on my hands tightened. He let out a breath that he had seemed to be holding. “There’s just one more thing.” I nodded immediately in response. “I want you to understand why.”

“You don’t have to explain it to me. If you’re not ready, don’t force yourself to.”

“But I want to.” His eyes shone, and I couldn’t have felt higher if I was standing on the top of the Namsan Seoul Tower. “There’s something you need to see and I think you deserve to know everything.”

His hand never left my grip as we made down the hall, and through my house that suddenly seemed to foreign to me, as if I was seeing it again for the first time. I called out a goodbye to my mum, assuring her that we would be back later. At some point I would have to tell her everything, but as Jimin lead me down the street, it didn’t even cross my mind.

Despite living in the town for a few months, I only really knew my way a few blocks around my house, and the route to school. Jimin led me through houses and buildings like it was the back of his hand. For some reason it made me want to explore the city, to know it in it’s absolute.

All my life my family had moved from town to town, moving from my dad’s job. I had never minded before, but for once I wanted to be anchored by something. I had always warned myself to not get too close to someone because I would always have to move away at some point.

With Jimin’s fingers laced between mine, I knew that I was already too late, and I didn’t mind one bit. Instead it filled with me with an immense sense of fulfillment. I was content in a way that I could never remember feeling.

Jimin was going to try to stay. It didn’t matter what hardships he might have, he was going to try and right now that was all I need to hope, to dream .

I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn’t realize where we had ended up. We were standing at the entrance to a cemetery, and my gaze flicked to Jimin, who was holding his head low.

We followed a well-worn path, and my heart stopped in my throat as to where it might lead. Finally they came to a stop in front of a headstone, a small bunch of flowers lying at its base. It read:

In everloving memory of

Park Jisung

1966-2010

A father, son, brother, husband, friend

May our memories be his second life,

And our hearts always make shelter for his spirit

I sank down beside Jimin, who had knelt before the headstone. No words could leave my throat, and if they could I wouldn’t know what to say. All I could do was merely sit, my hand still clasped tightly in his.

“For a long time, I blamed myself.” Jimin’s voice was soft, and it seemed to fit with the faraway rustling of trees and the somber nature of the place holding hundreds of people who once lived amongst us. “I might still blame myself for what happened.”

There was a pause, that seemed to draw on, shaky breaths inhaled and exhaled. “After my father’s death, my family fell apart. I don’t know how else to describe it. I remember the days, even weeks after where no one spoke a word. The funeral was the worst of all. The looks they gave us still haunt me still, but maybe it was the hope that scares me to this day.”

Tears slid down my cheeks but I didn’t lift my hand to wipe them away, letting him continue. “It was like they expected this all to go back to normal, at least one day. Grief isn’t supposed to last years, is it? I wouldn’t know myself. All I knew is that there was no way that my family would ever be the same as it was.”

“It was two months later that he left. I guess my brother couldn’t stand it. Everyone in the town knew, always approaching him, and us, wanting to give their condolences. Even more than that I don’t think he could stand what our home had turned into.”

I could hear his shaky breaths as if they were my own. “So he left. He packed his things while I was at school and mum was at work and everything was gone by the time we got home. He was old enough to leave, and he wasn’t weighed down by school or a job. There was nothing left here for him. His family was in ruins.”

His grip was impossibly tight on my hand, but my body felt numb compared to the thoughts flooding my brain. “Mum broke,” his voice was almost a whisper, would have been caught by the wind if I hadn’t been sitting so close.

“I could tell that she was struggling after dad’s death, but the loss of my older brother drove her under. I had always had the suspicion that my mother favoured my brother more than be, but I never thought much of it because I had my father, and just because she favoured him doesn’t mean that she didn’t love me.”

“But I always wonder what would have happened if he didn’t leave and I did. Maybe she would have been able to hang on. Maybe I wasn’t enough to keep her stable.” My heart felt a little more heavy with every word he uttered.

“We struggled for years. Seeing as my mum didn’t make enough money, we couldn’t keep the house. I had grown up under the shelter of that roof and between those four worlds. When we had to sell it, it felt as if it was another piece of me that I was leaving behind and would never find again.”

“Years passed and everyday I saw my mother grow worse. I forgot what she looked like when she smiled, when she laughed. I forgot what it was like to see her happy, with no dark circles under her eyes, no wrinkles lining her face.”

“Everything else just seemed to happen around me, the bullies, the scars, the food I didn’t eat. Days and weeks blurred together until I couldn’t remember feeling anything. It sounds like something out of a cheesy film, but when you came along, for a moment everything felt like those days again.”

This time he spoke it was as if I could feel the smile in his voice.

“Going to you house felt like stepping back through time. Smiles became easier, and days started to be clearer. There were still days where the lines became messy and everything just hurt, but there were times where you made it all go away.”

“When I saw my brother outside of the school gates, it felt like every time he had come to pick me up from school. But not the times where dad had been alive, but the weeks were darkness surrounded my family, where teachers would shoot looks of sympathy, letting me off on not handing in homework or assignments.”

“It reminded me of the last time that he had picked me up from school before he had left. I didn’t know it was the last time that he would greet me before guiding me down the roads to our house. I didn’t know what he had probably already planned, didn’t know that there was probably a train ticket or boarding pass sitting in his bag, set for the date of tomorrow.”

“I had to take him home, or to what I now call home. The only apartment that mum and I can afford together. When I opened the door I could feel what he was feeling, and it was bitter because it was the exact same emotions that had been radiating off of the people at his funeral, or my teachers, or our friends, or the church ladies who left us casseroles every time they came to see how we were going.”

He paused for a moment, drawing in breaths as if he was preparing himself. “My mum got home, and every feeling of insecurity that I had been trying to forget rose in my gut. Her smile was real, weren’t the feeble attempts that were just turning the ends of your lips up. It took over her face.”

“It was my fault that my mother fell into depression, it was my fault that she slipped into grief, because I wasn’t enough to ever get her to smile like that. To not just simply go through a five or six step routine day by day, never stopping to breathe.”

His head turned towards me, but he didn’t raise his eyes to meet mine. “That’s why I jumped. My mother wasn’t dead and neither was my brother, but they had still found a way to leave me stranded in the dark, with no light to pull me out. It seemed as if their headstones should lie behind my fathers, because they no longer seemed to exist in my world.”

“But when you came I realized something.” His eyes finally moved up to hold mine, glossy but hopeful. “I’m not ready to lay alongside these people, in a coffin of my own. You made me realize that no matter how alone I had felt, that you were there.”

“I realized that you were there to pull me out, and even if I wanted to struggle or scream or cry, that you would still always be there. That your grip wouldn’t leave mine. Thank you for saving me.”

Saving . I had saved him. My thoughts strayed back to that promise I had made so long ago, when I had not known what I was really promising.

“I can’t promise that I’ll be able to fix every single of the challenges that we will face,” I never dropped my gaze from his, “but I promise with all my heart, that you will never have to face them on your own. I’ll be here when you need me, and even when you don’t.”

His smile could light up a million galaxies, his eyes shining with more unshed tears. “Thank you for staying by my side, after I pushed you away. Thank you for everything.”

I let my smile flood my face. My hands were gentle around his, our fingers intertwined. "You struggled for so long by yourself, and I would give up anything just so I could be there for you. The only thing I can do for you right now, is be by your side and like I said, I will continue to do that until you get sick of me.”

I made sure that his full attention was on me before I said my next words. His eyes locked directly with mine, and I squeezed tightly on his hands, that were held between mine.

“I think it's time you forgive yourself.”

Chapter Text

I might be afraid of falling, but I’m not afraid to land.



“Just wrap the left bit around‒ not that part‒” Jungkook let out a sigh, Jimin simply giggling at his distress. “How are you so bad at this?”

Jimin looked back at himself in the mirror, the tie hanging messily around his neck. “Maybe I don’t have the best teacher?”

The younger only let out another huff, rolling onto his back, the bed sheets rustling under him. “Maybe you’re just really bad at listening?”

Jimin threw the tie at him before diving onto the bed to wrestle the pillow out of Jungkook’s hands. “You big brat.”

Jimin’s words were followed by dramatic cries from Jungkook, who was trying to shield himself from Jimin’s attack with the pillow while also trying not to burst out into giggles. “No, I’m too young to die!”

His hands found themselves to Jimin’s waist, giving himself to upper hand as he tickled his sides. Jimin’s grip from his pillow weapon fell as laughter burst from his lips, falling beside Jungkook on the bed.

Before the two could continue their antics there was a knock on the door, and Jungkook’s mum peeked her head into the room. “You guys are going to mess up your suits if you keep playing around.”

Jimin tried to smooth down his shirt, while Jungkook unsuccessfully tried to tame his hair. Jungkook’s mother could only grin at the two of them, chuckling softly. “Are you guys ready to go? We’re leaving in ten minutes.”

They both nodded quickly, picking themselves off the bed. Mrs Jeon could only smile sweetly at them one more time before she closed the door behind her. They both scrambled for their shoes, bumping into each other playfully as they did.

Just when Jimin was about to make his way over to the door, Jungkook’s hand caught his arm, tugging him back. “You forgot your tie, numpty.”

Jimin just narrowed his eyes, taking the dark blue tie from Jungkook’s outstretched hand. He slipped it around his neck, looking down at it with a huff. He was going to call Jungkook out on giggling at him before a pair of hands reached up to replace his own.

His eyes drifted up to Jungkook’s face, the youngers lips pulled tight in concentration as he adjusted Jimin’s tie. A soft little smile found itself onto the shorter’s lips, as he took in the boy’s features. He wanted to reach out a hand and smooth out the way Jungkook’s eyebrows were drawn together.

Finally, Jungkook’s hands stopped, his eyes moving up to meet Jimin’s, who didn’t realize he had been holding his breath until that moment. “All done,” the younger replied softly, his hands coming to rest gently on Jimin’s shoulders.

“You look handsome tonight, Jungkookie.”

The younger’s breath caught in his throat, his cheeks turning a soft pink. “I‒ well ” His words jumbled together, but all he could think of was the way Jimin was watching him, his eyes warm and gentle and he could no longer find it in him to be embarrassed about mumbling. “You look handsome too, hyung.”

It was Jimin’s turn to blush, his eyes crinkling a little on the sides. It seemed like he wanted to say something else, or maybe Jungkook did, but their moment was broken as Mrs Jeon knocked on the door again, reminding them of how little time they had to spare.

Before Jungkook could even think of holding onto him, Jimin ducked under his arm, moving to the mirror to smooth out his suit one last time. The younger snapped out of his daze, reaching down to finish tying his shoe.

“You nervous, Kook?”

There was a little more shuffling before Jungkook straightened himself, meeting Jimin’s eyes in the mirror. “A little. Everything is going to change now, isn’t it? Everything that we’ve known for the past five or whatever years, it’s all going to be gone.”

The shorter seemed to sniff a smile at that, shaking his head a little. “Not everything is going to change,” he said, stressing the second word. He paused for a second, his hands stilling where they were fruitlessly trying to straighten non-existent crinkles. “I won’t change.”

Jungkook didn’t know what to say that his heart feeling all warm and bubbly in his chest. Before his brain could formulate words of any kind, Jimin was slipping his arm between his and tugging them both out of the room.

If Jungkook’s sister asked why he seemed to be very flushed in the cheeks, she didn’t have to know why.






The gym looked completely different. Jungkook couldn’t imagine playing basketball in there, or doing laps while the teacher called for them to ‘run faster, turtles are crying about how slow you guys are’.

Rows and rows of chairs spread across the floor, the stage standing proud and decorated elaborately with the blues and reds of their school.

The decorating department had really gone to town on readying the gym, and Jungkook wanted to admire more of it, but he and Jimin were being ushered to the side to get into their graduation robes and take their hats.

He somehow lost Jimin in the crowd, in their search for classes and other friends calling him over to greet each other. A weird feeling had settled into his chest when he stepped into the gym, and he didn’t really know what to do with it. It felt close to happiness but also tinged with a sad feeling of nostalgia.

Before he could dwell further, he was being pulled into line and found himself back next to Jimin. He was surprised to see tears clinging to his eyelashes.

“My mum is here.” He said it so softly that it was almost lost in the crowd, but there was no way that Jungkook couldn’t see the smile gracing Jimin’s lips. “She and my brother. They both came, Jungkookie.”

The student captain was calling them forward, ushering them toward their seats but Jungkook still leaned forward to pull Jimin into a hug, their arms winding around each other. Jimin dug his face into his shoulder, the tear stains on the younger’s robes never crossing their minds.

They stood together, wrapped around each other in a sea of blue and red. The captain was calling them, louder this time. Jungkook merely pressed his face into Jimin’s soft hair which they had dyed blonde last week. Jimin didn’t want to let go, didn’t want to do anything but hold onto the younger until he could get his mind back into order.

But the student captain called out to them again, and it was clear that their time was up. Jungkook reached down to squeeze Jimin’s hand instead, neither of them separating as they made their way into the gym and to their seats.




 

 

There was a nervous energy buzzing through all the students, as they sat in the rows of chairs. The prospect of graduation seemed to be upon them, and they watched as the school principal took his spot at the podium, realizing that it would be the last time that the woman would address them like this.

Her words filtered through the speakers, a speech of new beginnings, saying goodbye to school and venturing into the world. About how this had been a foundation for their lives from this point onwards, how they were finally free. Reminding them all of how hard they had worked to end up here. Her voice rang out clearly within the hall, a few students tearing up a little.

There was a change in her voice, and she took a moment to pause and look out across the mass of students. “A group of students stepped through those doors a few years ago. A little excited, a little nervous, a little hopeful.”

Jimin watched her silently, a small smile playing on his lips. His mind drifted back to all those years ago when he had first stepped foot in this gym, nervously tugging at his uniform.

She had stood at the same podium, addressed them so warmly and welcoming them into the school. Now it all felt like a bittersweet goodbye. “Students from that group have come and gone over the years, people have changed and grown. But still, here you sit before me. Just like you did when you arrived.”

Somehow Jimin and Jungkook’s hands found each other, and neither decided to question why.

The principal's smile was just as soft and kind as always. “I shared with you a quote from an author who I love ever so dearly. You might not remember it well, but I would like for you to listen closely for a moment.”

She reached down to smooth out her papers gently. “If there is something that I would like to give you before you leave this school for the last time, it is the wisdom that I have learnt from this quote.”

“From Roald Dahl last children’s story, he says: And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.

“I wish you all the best in your future endeavours and know that you will always have a place at this school. Please enjoy your night.”

Jungkook almost didn’t notice the way she reached for a tissue, as the hall was filled with a applause. Students whooped and whistled, adrenaline running high. Jungkook almost felt like he was floating, suspended in this bubble of joy and nostalgia.

Jimin was pressing closer, winding an arm around his shoulders and he felt a little blinded by the sweetness of his smile. He was so distracted that he didn’t notice that the applause had died out and their student captain was taking was taking the principal's spot.

There were a few hoots from the crowd and someone in the back let out a whistle. He took is all graciously with a smile, settling his papers onto the podium. “Well, it looks like we’re graduating everyone,” his grin wide as he was met with more calls from the audience.

“To those who don’t know me, my name is Kim Namjoon, head of the student body. And it is my honour to be graduating this year alongside my peers.”

Surveying the room, Jimin felt something warm bloom softly in his chest, as their captain continued to talk. His eyes moved across the decorations and plaques littering the walls, the soft smile on Mrs Choi’s face, or the soft sniffling from one of the students.

His gaze finds its way to Jungkook, who is watching Namjoon carefully as he gives his speech, but whose hand still draws soft patterns onto Jimin’s leg. If anyone were to tell him a year ago that a boy with bunny smiles and a scar across his cheek would stand next to him proudly, would hold him as he cried, he would have laughed bitterly at them.

His sudden revelation was broken, by students breaking into hoots and hollers breaking out across the room. Namjoon leans close to the microphone, letting out a cheer before saying, “who knows what the future holds, but let’s make sure to fly together with our beautiful wings.”

The students burst into an applause, getting to their feet to cheer and Jimin joins them. They continue to cheer, bidding both their student captain goodbye. The warm feeling in Jimin’s chest returns and as his and Jungkook’s shouts join the noise it feels almost like family.

The shared spirit and emotions pulsing through the room and everyone seemed to have forgotten why they started to cheer but it doesn’t stop them stomping and shouting. There’s not really much left to say, and as the principal retakes her spot no one decides to sit down again.

They fall silent, and she doesn’t seem to mind where they are as long as their listening. With one last smile, she claps her hands together. “Congratulations everybody.”

The crowd kickstarts back into action, and hats are finding their way into the air, people shouting and applauding.

This. This was it. The most beautiful moment in life. Before innocence fell away completely before adulthood and society overtook and consumed. Where you still had teachers and textbooks and throw chips at your friends and hang out after school.

Jimin turns to Jungkook to find him already looking at him. They somehow fit next to each other, arms settling perfectly around each other.

“We did it, Kook.”

The world seems to stop for a moment, the noise fading into the background. Their lips are pressed together and it feels so perfect that Jungkook’s chest feels like it’s going to cave in, but Jimin is smiling against his mouth and he’s all he can think about.

Maybe they’d look back on this moment and it’ll be cheesy and sweet and everyone will cringe, but it won’t ever change the fact that this was their moment. A moment that they will get to cherish forever. A beautiful moment to share with each other.

Jimin was pulling away, and there were tears shining in his eyes and Jungkook had never thought he looked more beautiful.

“Do you think he’s proud of me?”

Jungkook didn’t need to ask who he was talking about. He pressed his forehead gently against Jimin’s, his eyes falling shut. “Almost as proud as I am.”

Their lips found each others again. A whole world of life and love and experiences were out there waiting for them, filled with questions and what ifs. But it was okay. Because they had time.

They had each other.







Life’s long so take it slow,

If you have moments where you feel happiness for a while,

It’s alright to stop,

Now we don’t run without even knowing the destination,

It’s alright to not have a dream,

All the breaths you breathe is already in paradise

 

낙원 (Paradise)