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“dude… are you ok?” jimin’s own voice scrapes at the insides of his ears, buzzing in his skull.

more importantly, jungkook nods slowly, turning his head only half towards jimin and keeping his gaze on the clothes rack in front of them.

the mall is deserted on a tuesday afternoon, every scrape of a chair echoing from the food court.

jungkook blinks at the clothes suddenly, jerking his arm up into a lazy angle to point at the rack.
he’s been moving like this all day; electric shocks taking hold of his muscles in single motions.

“do you like any of ‘em?”

jimin shrugs and plucks a hanger, hands alarmingly jittery compared to jungkook’s subdued gestures.

he can barely focus on the fabric at all, mind already moving on to the gurgle in his stomach.

“i don’t know, let’s go get something to eat,” he murmurs, punctuating his change of pace with the clang of the hanger hitting the rack.

it takes a second for jungkook to rouse his body into walking again, feet dragging over the grimy multicolored floor.

“tired?” jimin asks, blinking hard to make himself refocus on thinking about what he should eat.

jungkook has no response, it seems, eyes dully following his sneakers traveling over cracks in the tile.

the walk is agonizing -- jungkook’s so slow, and jimin wants to be accommodating because he’s obviously not feeling well, but god he just wants to get there.

he twists rings around on his fingers and finds himself holding his breath for short periods; a lulling cradle for busy busy thoughts.

he almost zones out completely and walks right past the food court, (and he has no doubt that in this state jungkook would follow him into narnia without batting an eyelash) but the sound of a soda machine hissing into a paper cup cuts through his engineered fog.

his shoe squeaks as he veers sharply to the right, and he sees jungkook stumble a little in his peripheral.

jimin knows exactly what he wants -- general tsao’s chicken, and his stomach wails in agony once he marches close enough to smell sweet and sour sauce.

he makes it through ordering and paying with laser-like focus, only to turn around and realize he’s momentarily forgotten jungkook.

dark hair hangs over the shaven side of his head and curls around his neck, red nose curving through long strands to give shape to his profile. jimin’s heart gives a small, extra hard pound as he is struck again by just how goddamn hot his best friend is.

he bounces away from the wontons and chicken to hug jungkook from behind, sending an oof through his chest that shifts his hair.

the feeling of jungkook’s spine against his own sternum is perhaps, one of the most calming sensations in jimin’s life.

jungkook huffs a little laugh and jerkily brings his hands up to jimin’s wrists, half pulling away and half steadying.

“what d’you want kookie?”

“can i just share yours? not that hungry.”

jimin nods into his hair, shaved portion now fuzzy enough to be pleasant to rub his cheeks on (a favored pastime).

jungkook picks the table while jimin goes to collect their food (and a sweet tea on a whim).

jimin ends up feeding jungkook tiny bites of chicken and rice while he plays piano tiles on his phone, and jimin sketches out messy doodles of a belltower he’s been wanting to draw for days.

when jimin starts carving out the curves of jungkook’s face on his napkin instead, jungkook lets out a tiny groan and lays his head on the tabletop, shoving the sweet tea away, ice rattling, and boxing in his cranium with his arms.

jimin immediately sets his pen down and reaches out with his stubby fingers to pull on jungkook’s sleeves.

“tell me,” he says, voice coming out steadier than expected.

jungkook shifts a little, helix piercing glinting under the sunlight filtering through the glass square directly above.

a sigh curls out and up from jungkook’s head sanctuary, and he says with dejection,

“new meds.”

“oh god,” jimin grimaces in sympathy, and his brain races to fit everything into the What’s Wrong With Jungkook puzzle.

sluggishness, reluctance to be verbal, less responsive to environmental stimuli -- just about everything on the standard new-meds-checklist.

jimin curls his fist into the fabric of jungkook’s sweater.

“i’m sorry kookie, you should’ve told me...we didn’t have to go out today.”

jungkook shakes his head as much as he can in this position, and gives an upset gurgle in his throat, getting caught up in his sinuses from the sound of it.

“wanted to come. thought i would feel better.”

jimin nods sagely -- though jungkook can’t see.

“you should ask namjoon about these side effects, huh? no doubt he’ll call your psychiatrist to tell him he’s an idiot again, but.”

jungkook snorts, mucus shifting in his nose, and finally raises his head to grab a napkin and attempt to blow some sinus build-up into next week.

“m’out of flunosolide. pollen season’s about to start. i lowkey feel like i’m on horse tranquilizers. when did life become this, jiminnie?”

jimin slaps his elbow at the nickname, but hums in understanding and says, “yeah. when did life become this.”

х

namjoon, over speaker phone and what sounds like several textbooks, does indeed call jungkook’s psychiatrist an idiot, but promises not to call the office directly to complain on jungkook’s behalf this time.

lexapro, honestly i don’t know what he was thinking. it’s more expensive than celexa, even though you told him you’re on a budget. and it’s also just? clearly not going to do well with dysthymia and your insomnia. i mean -- ok, maybe i’m biased because i know you but he has your family history! medical records! i can’t believe we’re living in a world where mental health professionals still have financial ulterior motives! honestly just -- you know, fuck capitalism.”

jungkook sighs and jimin snickers from the other end of the couch.

“we know, joonie! we are diligently fighting the machine with you every day of this miserable existence!”

jungkook mutters, “in spirit,” and jimin glares.

namjoon, clearly in the middle of some sort of caffeine-fueled nightmare study session remains oblivious and gives a noncommittal grunt from the other end.

“anyway, yeah, split a pill in half tomorrow and then stop for a day, and then you can finish off the celexa while you wait for another appointment -- and jungkook i know it’s tough being on your parents’ health care still, but i’ve got your back as always.”

jungkook smiles, front teeth just barely over-shooting his lower lip, reassured.

“thanks hyung, talk to you later. and get some sleep.”

namjoon cackles and says something about pharma degrees being sleep repellent -- and promptly hangs up.

jimin bounces on the cushions before pouncing and draping himself over jungkook at all the wrong angles, and begins braiding a tiny strand of hair curling in front of jungkook’s ear.

jimin, tactile as ever.

“so. yoongi’s doing spoken word at the cafe tonight, so we could do that. or we could bother hoseokkie hyung but now that i think about it he’ll probably also be at the cafe so. yeah.”

jungkook swallows and shrugs.

“i’m still kinda tired. i don’t know if i can hear another fifteen minute long metaphor about society that i won’t get.”

jimin giggles soundlessly, wetting his lips and carefully pulling more strands from jungkook’s hair to start a french braid.

jimin, gentle as ever.

jungkook fiddles with his earlobes, fingertips brushing jimin’s knuckles as he braids, left and right and middle and back again.

х

they do end up going to the cafe, because yoongi really does secretly love it when everyone shows up.

his hair is pink now, watermelon and rose under the single light on the Performance Stool.

tonight is actually a several stanza poem, rhyming and all. yoongi talks about the ocean and seaweed and the ocean and seaweed, in different ways and in different rhythms and dazzling all the same. yoongi’s voice rasps and catches on his interdental lisp and goes croaky towards the middle, and it’s dazzling all the same. dappled sunlight beneath the surface, seaweed brushing ankles, breathing water like air.

dazzling.

jimin watches jungkook listen. watches him sway slightly and settle his jaw so his overbite doesn’t bother him. watches him love, and admire.

(dazzling.)

they clap louder than anyone and yoongi scrambles off the stool and pulls his sleeves down faster than you could say social anxiety. he pulls his clothes around himself, sinking into the fabric, and stomps over to them to take his coffee from jungkook’s outstretched hand.

“you liked it?” he asks, gruffly, but more obviously hopeful.

jungkook squeaks a little and takes a breath and just overflows.

jimin smiles over his tea and watches jungkook put all his love into lots and lots of words, and watches yoongi preen and glow under the praise.

here, where there’s a low hum of conversation and the smell of coffee and the taste of tea, and yoongi leaning on the table and jungkook hunching over a little with his hair messed up, speaking emphatically and just dazzling… here, jimin feels the most lovely parts of life.

cotton and warm, perfectly lit and all the lines seem just right; picturesque.

jimin sets down his mug and takes jungkook’s hand, sets his chin on jungkook’s shoulder, concaves his chest so they fit.

jimin notices yoongi noticing, watermelon rose framing an amused smile for just a moment.

х

jungkook texts jimin in the first hour past midnight, and jimin drives over, and it’s at times like these that he thinks their lives would be easier together.

it’s humid as hell, and jungkook’s sniffling and dripping, but tonight has too much energy not to take a walk.

jimin takes his hand again, and this time jungkook notices, and laces their fingers. the moon shines, royal and mystic, making everything on jungkook twinkle.

his eyes, and the metal in his ear, and his collarbones where his shirt dips low enough.

he’s on celexa again and it’s removed a certain dullness, but jimin knows it isn’t worth the sleepless nights.

(but maybe just this one.)

jimin says, “do you ever think…” and tries to conduct his train of thought so the words will come out just right.

more quietly, under a big tree that takes away their moonlight, he says,

“do you ever think. our lives are better together?”

somehow, jungkook’s eyes still twinkle.

“i think… life is better. i think, when we’re together… i stop thinking ‘when did life become this,’ and i start thinking, ‘i didn’t know life could be this.’”

jimin realizes, he is watching jungkook love.

jungkook kisses him, and jimin runs his hand through the fuzzy and the long sides.

and then, they reappear under the moonlight and keep walking through the humid night.

jimin thinks that probably, they’ve always been heading here. sitting next to each other on the bus and then realizing they’re going to get off at the same stop.

jungkook looks contemplative as well.

they notice each other, noticing, and laugh together.

jimin hugs him, and jungkook holds him, and oh, life seems loveliest like this.