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The rise and death of Yoonmin

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---//---// PRESENT//---//---

 

"Why did you do this to me, Seokjin? Why did you let Yoongi do this to me?" Jimin asked, the pain of betrayal written on his beautiful face that was now reddened and wet from his tears.

"Jimin, you have to listen to me... things aren’t that simple!" Seokjin said, too shocked to even feel the need to cry. 

"When were you going to tell me?"  Jimin asked, his hands lightly pulling at his own hair. He was feeling so confused.

"I... -" Seokjin muttered. That was a difficult question, he didn't know the answer.

"During all this time you hid that from me! You saw my anguish, saw my suffering... You even comforted me! I cried on your shoulder! The worse part is that during all this time you knew everything!" Jimin shouted, while new tears come streaming down his face.

"Jimin, please forgive me," Seokjin whispered with begging eyes.

"I hate Yoongi. I hate you, Seokjin!" It was all Jimin said in return.

 

---//---// PAST //---//---

 

Yoongi and Jimin met in elementary school. Their friendship had nothing to do with Jimin's fluffy cheeks or the way he smiled not just with his mouth but also with his eyes. Neither was the strong temperament or Yoongi's beautiful eyes that strengthened the rapprochement of the two boys. No one could say why children of such distinguished personalities became inseparable friends.

"Jiminie, I don't know if you have noticed, but I shouldn't keep giving you my lunch bag everyday," Yoongi said to the little boy who was sitting alone at the table in the school cafeteria.

"I know, but I don't want to get in trouble," Jimin said, shyly reaching up the lunch bag on Yoongi hands.

"So do you want to keep getting beaten up?" Yoongi asked, the anger clear in his voice and posture.

"No..." Jimin replied staring at his own hands.

"Do you want to keep giving your money to that boys?" Yoongi continued, the tone of his voice full of encouragement.

Shaking his head in denial, Jimin subtly looked up, the grubby ceiling of the cafeteria suddenly a great way to avoid the other's gaze.

Taking the food out of the lunch bag and placing it in front of the younger boy, Yoongi asked, "Do you want to keep hiding in the corners of this shitty school?"

"Don't say that word... it's wrong," Jimin whispered with a reprehensible look on his face. "The other way of saying poop. Is it okay for your mom to hear you say it?"

"Shit is not even a cursing. Come on, how old are you? Five?"

"No, eight. And shit IS a cursing! Oops..."

"I'm eleven years old, I'm not scared! Be a man!" Yoongi shouted.

He wasn't angry with Jimin. He wanted the other boy to understand what he was saying. And 'be a man' was what Yoongi always heard from his father when he fell or cried, no matter how much it hurt. He didn't know exactly what it meant to be a man, and what it had to do with his tears, but he would rather obey his father in silence.

"I'm not a man..." Jimin said softly. Then realizing Yoongi's wide eyes, he explained himself, "I'm a boy and I know a man, a very serious man who will be very angry with me if I get in trouble... my dad!"

"Please, Jimin! We will not be alone, other kids will be there too."

"Yeah.. the other two kids who get beaten up  more often than I do. Now I feel better, Min Yoongi. Why didn't you say that before?"

Yoongi needed to make Jimin understand that what was happening at that school was wrong, they couldn't just lower their heads and pretend everything was fine, "If we get there together, we'll be four against three people! You don't have to say anything, just stand by my side... by our side."

"Why do you care about it? They don't even bother you," Jimin said, before breaking a cookie in the middle, and giving a part of it to the other kid.

"But I'm tired of having to defend one of you every damn week! You guys, have to learn how to protect yourselfs, or at least how to run faster!"

Lowering his gaze, Jimin said softly, "I'll try to protect myself better, I'm sorry."

"See?! You're apologizing for something that you don't even are guilty! That's why we have to go there and tell them to stop this bullshit! But if I go alone it's no use, they'll never learn to respect you guys."

Jimin knew that in a way, Yoongi was right. He didn't want to let him angry, but he did not want to be grounded either, "What's the point of not get beaten up by them today, but get beaten up by my dad when I get home and he had find out that I got in trouble?"

"There will not be any mess, we'll just get there and talk to them."

Jimin replied, putting the straw from the juice box into Yoongi's mouth, "We'll talk with your mouths and they'll talk througth punch and kicks. I can already even see it happening."

"Jiminie..."

With a sad tone of voice, Jimin said, "Sorry, Yoongi. Since I can't help you, you also don't have to help me when they come after me."

"OK then. It's up to you," Yoongi said as he stood up from the table.

"Be careful, okay?" Without getting any response, he then made the most threatening facial expression he could, "Yoongi..."

"Okay, I'll be careful," Yoongi grunted, looking amused at the other boy's face.

"Promise?"

"I promise."

"Pinky promise?" Jimin asked with a broad smile on his face.

"Aish... pinky promise."

Without seeming to believe what Yoongi was saying, Jimin frowned and said, "You can't break a pinky promise. Otherwise I will have to cut your pinky finger. Do you know that, right?"

When their fingers intertwined, Yoongi giggled and said, "Your fingers are so chubby..."

"Are you going to start making fun of me?"

Playing with Jimin's fingers, Yoongi continued, "That's why the other boys can't take you serious. They know you can't punch them with those cute little hands."

"You should care about YOUR hands, since YOU are the pianist here," Jimin said, jerking his hand away from Yoongi and hiding it under his T-shirt.

"Speak lower! I already told you that no one can know that I play the piano."

Looking bored by the boy's comment, Jimin said, "Just because you want to look mean. You play it very well, Yoongi! I should tell everyone about it, so they would all be jealous of you."

"Jealous because of what? If you tell about that to even only one person I will tell to the whole school that while I play the piano YOU is the one that are there dancing."

"You always said to me that I’m dancing well..."  Jimin whimpered with a slightly sad face.

"I said, and it's true. But, you have your secrets and I have mine."

Saying that, Yoongi grabed his backpack and without looking back he started to walk toward the classrooms, trying to get there before the teacher for the first time .

"Yoongi... after school, are you going to play some board game at my house?" Jimin asked, raising his voice a little bit.

"Is your mother going to make something to eat?" Yoongi replied, walking straight.

"Yes!"

It was only then that the older boy paused his walk for a brief moment and partially turned in the direction where Jimin still sat. With a discreet smile displaying on his face, he said, "In this case I will be there... but it's only for the food."

 

When the students were allowed to go home, Yoongi and Hongbin went to Jaehwan's classroom, another boy who was having problems with Hyunwoo, a 12-year-old student who along with his two friends, liked to threaten and beat up younger boys.

Jaehwan was no longer inside the classroom, but Yoongi knew of a place where he could be if he hadn't been able to hide in proper time.

Most of the students tried to please the group of bullies in every way or else they tried to pass as unnoticed as possible, some of them don't approve the three boys' behaviour, but they also don't make any move to stand for the kids who became the target of the aggressions. Getting to become Hyunwoo's target, was very easy, you just needed to have some feature that was considered "different" according to his standards. He focused on the children who seemed most insecure, the most vulnerable in his eyes. The school students were so afraid that if one day Hyunwoo decide that a student's hair is weird, something that until then was considered irrelevant, it would became a mockery to the whole school, and that child who don't see any problem about their hair, someone who even likes that, would begin to like it less and less.

The fear of not being accepted, or being abandoned by friends, or becoming Hyunwoo's next target, or of getting beaten up even more, was what often prevented other children from confronting him or seeking help from parents and teachers. It was these factors that interfered in Yoongi's plan for to put an end in Hyunwoo's reign.

"Hey Hyunwoo! Leave Jaehwan alone!" Yoongi shouted, as he approaches the back of the school, a less crowded place where Hyunwoo often cornered his victims. Jaehwan, was the target this time.

"Mind your own fucking business, Yoongi, or it'll be over for you too," Hyunwoo said without letting go of the boy he was pressing against the wall.

"Leave him alone! We want to talk to you..." Yoongi said, trying to control his voice so as not to convey the anger he felt at the moment.

"What do you mean by "we"?"

Sounding confident, Yoongi replied, "Jaehwan, Hongbin, and me."

"I don't care about what a bunch of suckers have to say. Unless you want to talk about when you will give me more money. So if it's not that... get out of here."

"I don't have any money. I already gave you all the money I has!" Jaehwan cried out in tears.

"It's a lie!" Hyunwoo shouted furious.

"I said leave him alone!" Yoongi yelled using both arms to push Hyunwoo away from Jaehwan.

Without waiting for Yoongi to finish what he was saying, Hyunwoo turned to the boy and throwing Jaehwan on the floor he shouted, "Are you crazy, Yoongi? Do you want to be beaten up too? Look, this whole time I've been taking it light on you, but you're already making me angry!"

"We came here to talk, not to fight... You started to insult us," Yoongi replied.

Then Hyunwoo made a subtle gesture with his fingers, signaling to his friends that they could leave, that the job of taking Jaehwan's money was over, "I have something better to do than to be here wasting my time with alosers."

"No! Wait... " Yoongi said, lightly squeezing Hyunwoo's forearm, just to have his attention again.

"Don't touch me!"

"We're here to tell you that you and your friends aren't better than us! We just come to this fucking school because our parents make us. Why do you want to make things even more hard? Aren't these boring classes and that lot of homework just bad enough?"

"Yoongi, why don't you go play with your dollhouse... you and your friend, eh? That chubby kid... By the way, where is he? He still hasn't given me any money today," Hyunwoo smirked.

"Leave him alone," Yoongi said in a serious tone of voice.

Hyunwoo was already getting annoyed with that situation. It wasn't the first time that Yoongi wanted to face him, so he said, "Even that brat was clever enough to not come here to bother me, and then you, who I thought that was a little less worse, are here getting into what's none of your business. Tell your friend that tomorrow he'll have to pay double. it's no use of talking about having no money, otherwise you already know what will happen..."

"This is wrong! Jimin's only 8 years old, you're a lot older than him. This is unfair!" Yoongi shouted.

Pretending to feel extremely offended by that comment Hyunwoo said, "I agree with you! What do you think I am? That's why Minhyuk is here, it may not seem like it, but he's 11 years old. We're not to blame if you all are some malnourished dwarfs. You guys keep complaining so much about me, but I think it's Jimin who's stealing your food, huh."

"Shut up! Don't talk about him like that! He isn't even here to defend himself!" Yoongi  said, pushing Hyunwoo  slightly backwards

"If he was here, he would do what? He is just a crybaby, isn't even funny beating him up. He doesn't even try to run. Just stand there crying 'Please don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me'...  He acts like a little girl."

"Shut up! We only came here to talk, but if you keep talking like this about Jimin things will change."

Laughing to his friends Hyunwoo said, "’We’?  I don’t know if you noticed, but your friends are nowhere in sight."

For a moment Yoongi even thought that Hyunwoo was just saying that to annoy him, for a moment Yoongi hoped that when he looked back, someone would shout, 'No, he's not alone!' But that wasn't what happened.

Then Hyunwoo continued, "Stop trying to play the hero and try to defend your little princess. Go home before I change my mind and send Minhyuk to scare a little bit your dear Jimin. The last time he almost pissed his pants! It was very funny! He still lives in that street near the grocery store, right?"

"Leave him alone, you son of a bitch!" Yoongi shouted, punching Hyunwoo's mouth.

"You shouldn't have mentioned my mother, Yoongi!"

That was how Yoongi found himself being pushed to the ground, and in seconds Hyunwoo was about to get ready to punch him, which came not too long afterwards. It only took a few more seconds for Yoongi to feel a sharp pain in his jaw. However he didn't have much time to get used to the pain since soon after Hyunwoo was already giving him another punch.

Not that Yoongi wasn't defending himself, quite the contrary. He tried his very best to get away from the punches, trying to push off the boy who was older and havier than him. But Yoongi wasn't strong enough to do it, he didn't feel strong enough. Before Hyunwoo get the chance for an third punch, Yoongi recalled:

 

"- Be careful, okay?

- ...

- Yoongi...

- Okay, I'll be careful.

- Promise?

- I promise.

- Pinky promise?

- Aish ... pinky promise.

- You can't break a pinky promise. Otherwise I will have to cut your pinky finger. Do you know that, right?"

 

Yoongi made a promise, a pinky promise... with his best friend... with JIMIN! He knew that if he had promised to be careful, then there was no other way out, he had to be careful. Although maybe it was a bit late for that. Gathering all the strength he possessed, and even those he didn't know he had, before Hyunwoo could punch him, it was Yoongi who struck by punching the older boy's belly. Taking advantage of the moment that Hyunwoo cringed in pain, Yoongi shifted his position and now it was he who was above and ready to return the punches he had received, but at the same time a male voice was approaching. Sungjae, the school janitor.

"Stop fighting!"

"I was just defending myself!" Yoongi shoulted.

"It's a lie! I was going home when that idiot came out of nowhere and started talking bullshit! He cursed my mother and then started hitting me! You can ask anybody there!"

Approaching the group of boys Sungjae said, "Don't play the victim, Hyunwoo. I know you very well. If Yoongi get to the point to beaten you up, you have done something really bad to him. The school is almost empty, and you guys are making this mess... This time I'll let it go, but if it happens again I'll take both of you to have a little talk with the school head-master!"

"Sungjae, it wasn't my fault! Yoongi started the whole thing!" Hyunwoo cried out.

"I don't want to know who started it. I want you all to go home right now! Do you prefer that I call your parents and ask them to come here and give you a ride?" Sungjae smirked.

Without waiting another minute, Hyunwoo and his two friends hurriedly started walking toward to the school exit.

"Oh, that's what I thought. You, Min Yoongi..." Sungjae said looking to the boy who was staring at his own sneakers.  "You're short, but you aren't one to take things lying down, do you?"

"He was insulting Jimin," Yoongi replied trying to clean the dirty from his clothes.

"Park Jimin? That boy is the most adorable kid in the world! I don't understand why someone would insult him. But anyway, go home Yoongi. It's past time. I'll keep an eye on you tomorrow! No fight!"

 

Not far from there, oblivious to everything that happened to Yoongi inside the school where they studied, Jimin, sitting in front of the door of his house waits the boy. The problem is that some time had passed and Yoongi didn't appeared. In Jimin's head it had been too long, he was getting tired of waiting.

"Jimin, it's getting late. I just baked a delicious cake, it's in the kitchen. Come with me, huh?" Sarang asked as she approached the door.

"No yet, mom. Let me stay here just a little bit more. Yoongi told me that after school he would come and play with me," Jimin whimpered.

"No, Jimin. It will be dark soon," she replied in serious tone of voice.

“But I'm almost inside, just leave the door open that way.” Jimin said, opening the door and then sitting again on the floor, but this time with his legs wide apart so one of his feet was leaning subtly on the house's floor and the other feet on the balcony's floor. “See? I'm inside the house!"

"Park Jimin..." Sarang said, trying not to laugh at the boy's cute behavior.

"Mom... please."

Bending down so she could stay as tall as her son, Sarang said, "Look, why don't we go inside the house and then we can make a phone call to Yoongi's mother? What do you think?"

With a broad grin on his face, Jimin said excitedly, "Why don't we go to Yoongi's house? What do you think?"

"Jimin..."

"Mom..."

Giving up trying to make her son change his mind, sighing loudly, she said, "Aish... Ok, but it will be a quick visit huh? I will go there only to give to Yoongi's mother one of the cakes I made, since she was the one who gave me the recipe."

 

One of the advantages of living in a small neighborhood is that almost everyone gets to know each other, so either you isolate yourself and become the weird neighbor with the haunted house, or you in one way or another make friends with just about everyone and learns about everyone's life, since the baker is the cousin of the hairdresser who is the childhood friend of the owner of the grocery store, who is the mother of the newspaper delivery boy, and so on.

However, for Jimin the main advantage of living in a small neighborhood is that he could study in the same school as Yoongi, and that he didn't have to travel a long distance to visit his best friend. He didn't even need a car, just a 10 minute walk and he was already there. This is because he has short legs, Jimin was sure that when he grows up he will be able to reach Yoongi's house in 3 minutes at most, and in a matter of seconds if he runs.

When Yooni's mother finally opened the front door of the house, with a smile on her face Sarang said, "Hi Yoonah, good evening. Sorry to show up here without warning, but we came to bring you this cake. Do you remember that recipe you gave me? I tried to do-"

"Is Yoongi at home? Could you please let him play with me just a little bit?” Jimin interrupted, trying to make one of his sweetest facial expressions.

With a scolding look Sarang said, "Jimin! You didn't even properly greet Yoongi's mother."

Nodding sweetly to his mother, Jimin apologized, "Good evening, Yoongi's mother. Is Yoongi at home? Could you please let him play with me just a little bit?"

"I hate to say no to a boy as cute as you Jimin, but today Yoongi can't play." Yoonah said as she gently cross her fingers across the boy's hair. "Let's go to the kitchen. I can't wait to try the cake you made Sarang!"

"Why Yoongi can't play with me?" Jimin whimpered.

"He's grounded Jimin, because he got in trouble again. Unfortunately, he isn't a good little boy like you." Yoonah responded.

 

As the mothers excitedly chatted about the famous fruitcake recipe and how Jimin's mother had improved in cooking, he sat on the couch thinking about every word Yoonah had told him and quickly he began to feel sad, feeling something he hadn't been able to name until then. "Is he punished because of me? Is he angry at me? " He sat on the couch alone for a few more minutes, trying to figure out what was going on. A short time later he realized that the best he could do was ask Yoongi himself.

One of the advantages of being a child is that when adults engage in lively conversation, they get a little distracted and phrases such as "Where did that kid go? She was here almost now!" or even "How could this happen? I took my eyes off him for only one minute!" became quite frequent. Considering this, Jimin didn't need much effort to go unnoticed up the stairs and go to Yoongi's room.

"Yoongiiiii" Jimin whispered with his mouth next to the door that was now closed. Hearing no answer from inside the room, he whispered again, only a little louder. “Yoongiiii!”

Knowing that it wouldn't be long before anyone noticed his absence downstairs, Jimin decided to open the door slowly and enter the room that had the lights off.

"Yoongi?" He said in a low voice, as if afraid of scaring the other boy.

"Jimin, is that you? What are you doing here?" Yoongi asked in surprise as he sat on the bed.

"You didn't show up at my house to play with me," Jimin whimpered.

"Did you wait for me all this time?"

"I did," Jimin replied, still near the bedroom's door. "Yoongi, can you turn on the light? I don't really like the darkness."

Directing his arm to the lamp, Yoongi said, "Sure... Since I'm grounded, there's not much I can do but trying to sleep."

When the room finally brightened and Jimin could look properly at the boy who was now sitting on the bed, Jimin can't help but widen his eyes and with one hand over his mouth he ran towards his friend.

"Yoongi! They hurt you!" Jimin said, unable to look away from the not-so-severe, yet worrying, injuries that were located in the mouth and nose of the older boy.

"It's not that bad."

"They hurt you guys, Yoongi!" The boy said sliding his little index finger in the areas near the wounds, almost without touching them.

"It wasn't ‘them’since who hit me was only Hyunwoo, and wasn't in ‘you guys’ since only me was beaten up. In the middle of our ‘conversation’ when I looked back there was no one else there," Yoongi replied with a sad voice.

"They left you alone? How could they... Well, at least at some point they were there right? I did worse."

Holding Jimin's hand, Yoongi tried to comfort him, "Don't say it, it's not your fault. The truth is that in the end you were right all along. Hyunwoo wasn't in the mood to talk."

"You promised to be careful..." Jimin said, his eyes watering.

"I kept my promise! Do you think if I hadn't been careful I would only get these scratches? I would be here without all my teeth! I bet if that had happened to me you'd be laughing at my face, I'm sure."

Upon hearing such a comment, Jimin can't help but sketch a small smile as he imagines what it would be like to see Yoongi smiling with no teeth in his mouth, like a younger version of old people who lost their denture in their soup.

"Does it hurt?" he asked, not looking away for a moment and without stopping his delicate touches, yet loaded with affection.

"A little, but like I told you, I'm a man. I can handle it."

Rolling his eyes, Jimin murmured, "Aish... let me kiss it better."

As soon as Jimin had time to get his lips away from Yoongi's cheek, he could hear the voice of a slightly angry mother, by bad luck, Jimin was sure that this mother was his, "Jimin! How could you go walking around our neighbor's house without even asking for permission?"

"I'm sorry mom. I just wanted to see Yoongi," he replied softly, lowering his gaze.

It was only when Sarang heard the mention of the other boy's name that she seemed to notice the presence of him.

"Yoongi, what happened to you? Was that a school fight?" she asked, walking over to the boy to take a closer look at the wounds.

"No, Sarang. He said it was a fight, a basketball thing," Yoongi's mother responded, even before he could open his mouth to say something.

"But the fight was with some of the boys from your school? You know very well Yoongi that despite not being your teacher, I still work at that school. I can help you," Sarang said with an affectionate look.

"They're from another school, I don't know them very well,"  Yoongi said, not looking at Sarang, focusing only on Jimin standing by the bed listening carefully to the conversation.

Beginning to feel uncomfortable with that conversation, Yoonah said, "You don't have to worry about it, Sarang, I know you already have a lot of work with your students in school. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Yoongi has gotten in trouble."

Looking affectionately at Yoongi, as if in a last attempt to make him feel more confident to talk about it, Sarang takes one of Yoongi's hands, pressing it gently as a kind of affection. Before leaving the room she said, "Yoongi, if you need help or want to talk about anything, you know where to find me. I am indeed a very busy person, but I can gladly manage some free time to talk to you. That goes for any student who needs my help, don’t worry."

 

All the way back home and through the dinner, Jimin wondered about what his mother had said to Yoongi and about the wounds on the boy's face, injuries that were only there because he went to help his friends, among them Jimin himself. He couldn't see it in any other way. He knew he couldn't help Yoongi trying to fight Hyunwoo, it would probably make things even worse. Then when his mother was kissing him good night, he saw in her the most reliable source of help. After all, from what he can remember, she's always been there with him, always caressing him, trying to learn how to cook delicious foods (albeit without much success). Even that time when he ate too much candy, she had caressed his belly, made some tea (it wasn't very tasty, but it helped ease the pain). She didn't even walk away when he vomited about three times! Even though during the day she was one of the most respected teachers at that school, outside that place she was just Jimin's loving mother.

Much of the respect earned by Sarang as a teacher was achieved by her hard work at school and by the good relationship she maintained with the students' parents. So, days after Jimin had told her what had been going on at school when the teachers weren't looking, and how Yoongi got that bruises, she had already begun to draw up a project involving parents, students, teachers, and all the school staff to create strategies to reduce bullying practices, seeking to help both parties, aggressors and victims.

While Hyunwoo and his friends were gradually looking for other ways to get respect from the other students without appealing to aggressive attitudes, Jimin was more certain every day that he made the right decision by asking for help from a trusted adult, since he no longer had to give his money to bullies, no one tried to steal his food only to later complain that it was horrible (he really likes the deflated cakes and the lightly burned cookies his mother makes) and most importantly, for a long time Yoongi didn't get in the middle of any fight, his beautiful face and his pianist hands without any injury.

This isn't to say that school had now become a paradise on earth, far from it. There were still quarrels and discussions, at least once a month someone did something wrong, looking like they wanted to get Hyunwoo's old role, but unlike the way things used to be, now the students felt less helpless. Hitting or being beaten up were no longer the only ways out of dealing with bullying.

 

Yoongi and Jimin met in elementary school. Their friendship had nothing to do with Jimin's fluffy cheeks or the way he smiled not just with his mouth but also with his eyes. Neither was the strong temperament or Yoongi's beautiful eyes that strengthened the rapprochement of the two boys. No one could say why children of such distinguished personalities became inseparable friends.

However Jimin and Yoongi knew that much of this had to do with things like never breaking pinky promises, stating with conviction that the "kiss it better" from a special person is really able to relieve pain and heal wounds, not to be ashamed to apologize and to ask help. Companionship. It was about turn on a light when the other is afraid of the darkness and also was about the ability to eat and praise the food of doubtful taste prepared by caring mothers. What made Jimin and Yoongi look at each other for the first time or start a conversation isn't something relevant, maybe it was fate. This isn't a love-at-first-sight story.

 

 ----

 

 

P.S I don't know who owns this drawing, so unfortunately I can't give the proper credits.