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act one


 

        

Above Yoongi the sun radiated an immense heat causing sweat to roll down the back of his neck despite being under the shade of a large tree, its leaves offering shelter from the relentlessness of the sun. The only solace from the heat was the breeze that would casually rustle through the trees, bringing with it the smell of summer. Yoongi leaned back on his palms, his legs stretched out in front of him in the grass.

“I can’t believe second semester starts tomorrow,” Hoseok said, throwing an arm over his eyes as he lay out in the grass in front of Yoongi.

“We’ll be graduating before you know it,” Namjoon added, shifting lower to lean against the trunk of the tree.

“Don’t remind me,” Hoseok groaned, “It’s bad enough that Jin-hyung already graduated.”

“Is it a bad thing? We’ll be with him again by this time next year.”

“That’s if we even get into University,” Yoongi countered, finally joining in on the conversation.

Namjoon clapped him on the shoulder, “Don’t worry about that Yoongi, there’s no way you couldn’t not get in.”

He knew that Yoongi was referring to himself rather than the others as he’d always doubted himself. Namjoon had been friends with Yoongi long enough to know that Yoongi’s doubts were always about himself, despite how much he hated admitting to be insecure. Although Yoongi would always protest that he wasn’t insecure, he was realistic: he claimed to see things as they were, as simple facts.

Yoongi lay down and used his arms to pillow his head as his eyes fell shut. For him there was no question about where he wanted to go to university, he’d known ever since he first started writing his own songs. There was nothing else he wanted to do, if he couldn’t make music then he didn’t want to do anything. What concerned Yoongi most was whether he would get into his top school or not—he hadn’t looked into others and it nagged at him. He knew he should have at least applied as a safety net if he didn’t get into the University of Arts.

“Speaking of Jin, have you talked to him?” Hoseok asked, shifting so he could turn to look at Namjoon.

“I talked to him yesterday. He said University is kicking his ass but he loves it,” he replied, “He only wishes we were there to enjoy it with him. He was telling me about this bar his roommate took him to that he wants to show us when we finally move up there. He said that on Friday nights they have an open mic night that we would enjoy.”

“Do people do their own songs?” Yoongi asked.

Namjoon thought about it for a moment, “I don’t know, I forgot to ask.”

“Of course you did,” Hoseok laughed.

Namjoon playfully hit Hoseok’s shoulder with his foot who merely laughed louder and tried to roll away. Namjoon, too tired from the heat to actually try and play fight with Hoseok, let him escape. This was how they typically spent their break: resting under the large tree in Namjoon’s backyard, playing basketball and just generally hanging out. More often than not Taehyung and Jungkook would join them whenever they didn’t have vocal lessons.

“On days like these a part of me wishes they won’t end,” Hoseok said quietly, the wind blew causing his air to lift as if it were dancing.

The other two hummed in agreement, basking in the beauty of the last day of their last summer vacation before they graduated high school.

 

             

Time seemed to stop existing. Or so it seemed to Yoongi as the first day of class began. He glanced out the window and took in the absurd vibrancy of the blue in the sky, the fluffy white clouds peppering the sky. It was such a lovely day and yet Yoongi was stuck indoors when he’d much rather be out on the basketball court or even wading in the river with his friends.

He tapped his pen against his notebook, trying to figure out to complete the melody of a song he was working on. He’d been stuck on it for days now and nothing he was coming up with sounded just right. It was always slightly off, not the sound or atmosphere he was trying to accomplish. Yoongi decided that after class he would go to the music room and work on it then. It was the first day back so hopefully no one else would be using it so he could have it, and the piano, all to himself. He never really liked practicing in front of other people, let alone composing and writing in front of them either. He didn’t want people to hear his work until it was finished and polished, the way he intended for it to sound.

Yoongi was pulled from his thoughts once the class quieted down as their homeroom teacher entered.

“Good morning!” He greeted. He was middle aged with hair that was already thinning and a round face, “I hope everyone had a good break.”

He set papers down on the desk in front of the room. Behind him on the blackboard “Welcome Back” was written in large characters. The classroom door opened again, drawing Yoongi’s attention.

“You must be our transfer student,” their teacher said, “Come, introduce yourself to the class.”

The boy stepped into the classroom and walked towards the front. He appeared shy but he was hard to miss with his bright orange hair. His figure was slim but his cheeks were chubby and round, giving him the appearance of looking younger than he probably was. He was short too, probably even shorter than Yoongi if he had to guess.

(Or was it wishful thinking?)

Yoongi’s gaze trailed him as he walked to the front of the classroom and stood before them all.

“My name is Park Jimin and I just transferred here from Busan,” his voice was soft but not as shy or quiet as Yoongi was expecting, “Please take care of me.”

Yoongi wondered what could possibly possess Jimin or his family to make them want to move to Damyang from Busan. There wasn’t much here to offer aside from the bamboo forest. Surely it would be vastly different and bit of a shock for a boy from the city to adjust living out here. It was to Yoongi, at least, when his family moved back here after spending a few years in Daegu.

Jimin quickly bowed to the classroom, a light flush appeared on his cheeks. It vaguely reminded Yoongi of mochi.

“You can have the seat next to Yoongi there by the window,” the teacher gestured to the empty seat on Yoongi’s left.

He watched as Jimin walked towards him and the empty chair, eyes cast down towards the floor. It wasn’t until Jimin reached down into his school bag to pull out his notebook that they made eye contact and Yoongi realized he was staring. He turned his gaze back towards the front of the classroom and didn’t give Jimin a second glance for the rest of the day.

 

 

The sound of sneakers shuffling across the court and the steady dribbling of a basketball filled the air. Overhead the sun beat down on them, not even a breeze would pass through as a brief solace from the agonizing heat. Yoongi panted, running towards the other end of the court as Hoseok passed him the ball. He stopped before the goal, lifting the ball to take a shot. It went in with a soft swish. No backboard.

“Ah, Yoongi you’re too good, it’s not fair,” Namjoon exclaims, hunched over and breathing heavy with his hands on his knees. Yoongi picked up the ball and dribbled it casually.

“That’s why you have Jungkook on your team,” Yoongi teased, “To at least make it some what fair.”

Jungkook and Hoseok laughed as Namjoon complained that it still wasn’t fair since Hoseok was on Yoongi’s team and he was almost just as good.

“Then Taehyung can be on your team, we’ll do three against two,” Yoongi offered, “That way you guys might actually stand a chance.”

Yoongi’s lips turned into a smug grin as Hoseok laughed at the sly drag. Jungkook punched Yoongi’s arm playfully but with a little more force than he realized. The youngest didn’t even know his own strength Yoongi figured as he rubbed his arm.

“Where is Taehyung? He normally comes out with you,” Namjoon asked, directing his question towards Jungkook who shrugged in response.

“I don’t know I didn’t see him after class today.”

A yell ripped across the court and all four of them turned towards its direction to see Taehyung jogging over towards them, a small figure jogging beside him. As the two got closer Yoongi finally made out the appearance of the person with Taehyung—it was the transfer student from before: Park Jimin.

Taehyung greeted them all with a bright smile and a special handshake with Jungkook.

“It’s about time you got here, we’ve been kicking their asses,” Hoseok said.

“Sorry I’m late,” Taehyung apologized, “But I have someone you guys should meet!”

Taehyung turned towards Jimin whose cheeks were vaguely pink. Yoongi wondered if it was permanent or if the boy just never stopped blushing.

“Everyone this is Park Jimin, he just transferred from Busan,” Taehyung introduced everyone in turn.

“Everyone here is in the same grade except Jungkookie here, he’s our beloved maknae.” Taehyung slung an arm around Jungkook’s shoulders who relaxed into it. At one point there was a time when Jungkook felt uneasy about Taehyung’s casual affection and skinship. Now you would never guess he ever had an issue with it. In truth they all had grown accustomed to Taehyung’s casual touching but Jungkook was the recipient more often than the others.

“Aren’t you two in my class?” Jimin finally spoke, gesturing towards Namjoon and Yoongi. Yoongi didn’t bother to join in on the conversation, preferring to stay quiet as the others talked to Jimin and pestered him with questions.

“How did you even meet Jimin if he’s in our class?” Namjoon questioned Taehyung.

“He got lost this morning looking for his classroom and luckily I was the one who found him.”

Yoongi scoffed, “Luckily, right.”

Taehyung scrunched up his nose and whined, “Don’t be mean Yoongi-hyung.”

“Why did you move here from Busan?” Jungkook asked, forgoing any honorifics like the little brat that he was.

Jimin seemed to hesitate for the briefest of moments before he answered, “My family didn’t like the city. They felt like Damyang would be better suited for us.”

“Yoongi used to live in the city too, except he lived in Daegu,” Hoseok said with a grin. Jimin turned to look at Yoongi who, until that moment, had preoccupied himself with the ball in his hands. He met Jimin’s gaze and felt a small uneasy sensation in the pit of his stomach. It confused him so he swallowed and willfully ignored its existence.

“Are we going to continue our game or not?” He asked instead of acknowledging the prior conversation.

“Do you play?” Namjoon asked Jimin who nodded in turn.

“Are you any good?” He asked, causing Jimin to laugh. Yoongi furrowed his eyebrows wondering how a laugh could possibly sound like that.

“I think so.”

“Now our teams can be even, it hasn’t been the same since Jin-hyung left,” Taehyung beamed.

“You can be on our team and Taehyung will join Yoongi and Hoseok,” Namjoon said. Yoongi bounced the ball a couple times, slowly making his way to the middle of the court as the others followed.

“Losers have to buy the winners ramyun!” Taehyung exclaimed.

Jungkook groaned, “But you have Yoongi on your team.”

“Is that you admitting defeat, Jungkookie?” Yoongi teased. Jungkook smirked and took the ball from Yoongi to get the game started.

“You wish.”

Jimin proved himself to be a fairly good player, certainly better than Namjoon. He managed to dance around Yoongi a few times, frustrating him as Jimin slipped away and scored points for his team. It fired up Yoongi to finally have a challenge during their usual basketball games ever since Jin went to university. The eldest wasn’t the best at basketball, but at least when he was there the playing fields were even. However, even with the balanced teams Yoongi’s team won their competition.

“Free ramyun!” Taehyung cheered, dancing around the opposing team. Namjoon laid sprawled out on the asphalt, panting and dripping with sweat.

Hoseok pat Jimin on the back, “That was a really good game; you should play with us again.”

Jimin smiled and somehow it managed to make his cheeks look even chubbier. It confused Yoongi how someone could manage to look so soft even with sweat dripping down his temple and bangs plastered to his forehead. Yoongi turned his gaze away and instead looked to the sky, the sun would be setting soon, the school grounds had long ago been deserted, even by those who stayed late to participate in school clubs.

“Don’t worry Jimin, since you’re new we won’t make you buy us ramyun this time,” Hoseok said.

           

 

The sun was setting causing the sky to turn into a medley of pinks and purples and blue. It dyed the clouds a darker shade of purple overhead as the stars slowly, one by one, began to make their appearance. Around them streetlights were starting to turn on calling out the arrival of night. Their bellies were full, bodies exhausted and weary.

“I’m never eating ramyun again, I’m so full I think I’m going to be sick,” Jungkook complained and rubbed his stomach.

Namjoon rolled his eyes, “You’ll be eating it again by tomorrow and didn’t I tell you not to eat so much?”

“But it’s so good.”

They reached the usual cross roads where they parted ways to head in the direction of their own homes.

“Hey Jimin, which way do you live?” Namjoon asked.

“Oh, I live just up the hill,” he replied, pointing in front of him.

“Yoongi lives up that way too,” Hoseok spoke up when Yoongi didn’t say anything, “You two can walk home together.”

They said their goodbyes and parted ways, Hoseok and Taehyung took a left while Namjoon and Jungkook took a right. If Jin were still there he’d be walking right alongside Namjoon and Jungkook. Yoongi and Jimin continued straight ahead.

Yoongi had grown accustomed to walking home alone that it felt odd having someone walk along beside him. They didn’t speak and there was a bit of distance between the two but Yoongi didn’t find the silence between them as stifling as he thought it be, albeit he still felt awkward being with someone he hardly knew. Just past the hill the road turned narrower and dirt. The trees in this part of town grew thicker on either side of the road, shielding the houses that sat further back from the main road. Hardly anyone lived out here and the neighbors Yoongi had were far and few in between. His family had been lucky enough to move back into the house that they had before their move to Daegu. It was the exact same as how they left it; the second to last step on the stairs always creaked, Yoongi’s closet door didn’t shut properly, the clothes line was shorter on end than the other and the bathroom window had to be jiggled in order to open. It was the exact same with just a couple more years of dust, as if it was waiting for their return, knowing that it was inevitable. It nearly suffocated Yoongi thinking about how badly he disliked having to move back to their small home town. The only saving grace were his friends. They were the only thing keeping him sane.

Daegu wasn’t his top pick for places to live but it was certainly better than here.

(And Yoongi never had to jiggle a window open in his home there.)

He had only met Namjoon a year before he moved, but they had instantly clicked which was unusual for Yoongi. Making friends didn’t come easy to him and he spent a lot of time on his own before meeting Namjoon by chance when the other had accidentally collided into him during gym when they were twelve. Namjoon couldn’t stop apologizing and asking if he was Yoongi despite only having minor pain and a small knot on the back of his head. Yoongi wasn’t sure how exactly they became friends after that but that was the first time he ever encountered the dangerously destructive Namjoon. Once Yoongi moved away they maintained contact through emails and texting. Yoongi showed him the music the kids at his new school got him into it. He wouldn’t call them friends but he supposed they were more than just classmates. Besides, they introduced him to the Daegu rap scene and ever since then he was hooked. And so was Namjoon. Perhaps tomorrow he’d ask Namjoon to help him with the melody of the song he was working on; he didn’t get a chance to do it earlier that day as Hoseok had immediately dragged him out to the basketball court once classes were finished for the day.

“Well this is my house,” Jimin’s voice broke through Yoongi’s thoughts. He had been so deep into his memories and thinking about the troublesome melody that he had completely forgotten that he was walking with Jimin. Yoongi wondered if Jimin had tried speaking to him throughout their walk home only to be ignored as Yoongi was lost in thought and muscle memory took him home.

Yoongi looked around at his surroundings; his house was just the next one down, not very far at all from where Jimin apparently lived. Speaking of Jimin, he stood at the end of his drive way, trees dense on either side, hiding his house almost completely from view. If Yoongi tried hard enough, or walked in just the right direction he would be able to see the side of the house with its small garden out front.

“I’m just up the road,” Yoongi said awkwardly, not sure how to say goodbye.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Jimin smiled at him and Yoongi felt that uneasy feeling from before again. He pushed it out of mind, opting to ignore it once more.

 

 

In stark contrast to the day before the air was thick with the smell before a storm, dark clouds threatened to pour at any moment and the wind took umbrellas, hats, and loose papers with it. A summer storm brought on suddenly.

With the second day came routine and everyone shifted back into the grind of the school day. The rain meant that there would be no basketball game today which allowed Yoongi to sneak away to the music room after school in order to use the piano to practice. He could hardly pay attention to any of his lessons, too caught up in his eagerness to finally play. He was determined to leave today with his melody nearly perfected, even if he had to be there until late hours or a staff member told him to leave.

The sky fell out shortly before the day ended. Students huddled under umbrellas and book bags, they hurriedly left and raced the storm home. Yoongi had immediately slipped out of the classroom as soon as lessons ended with a quick goodbye to Namjoon as he escaped. He sighed with relief when he found the music room empty, not a sign of anyone to be found. Rain pattered against the window and the dark clouds outside darkened the room.

Yoongi flipped the light switch and the room lit up in a warm yellow glow. He set his school bag on a chair as he made his way to the piano in the corner of the room. He slipped into the familiar bench, hands resting against the keys. Overhead thunder rolled slowly, dragging out of the storm and shook the windows just slightly. Yoongi paid it no mind and quite honestly found it quite soothing. A perfect aid to help him write the rest of the melody that was troubling him. He gently played a few keys, familiarizing himself again with the piano before him. His hands glided over them without trouble and instantly Yoongi felt like he was in his element. He softly played a song he knew well to warm himself up. He hadn’t gotten to play over the break and for a moment simply played to enjoy it before he began his work. Nothing would ever compare to the way Yoongi felt as he played, to the way the keys felt under his fingertips, to the beautiful and elegant sounds that the piano emitted at his command. It was soothing and beautiful and even powerful, all at once.

Another clap of thunder resonated throughout the building. Yoongi stood to grab the notebook from his bag that he wrote all his music in—from piano pieces to rap lyrics. He set it on the stand and opened it to the song he was currently working on. There were mostly notes scribbled on the song and how he wanted it to progress, along with lyrics and fragments here and there. For the most part the song just came to him and any pieces or bits he struggled with he’d scribble down. The beginning was easy enough; it was something that had just come to him one day as he sat in that very seat, just playing for the sake of playing. Since that day it evolved and molded itself into its current form: a song without a middle that Yoongi had been struggling with endlessly. He played through what he already had, what he already knew, what had come easily to him. He was so lost in playing his song that the door suddenly opening stopped him abruptly. He looked up from the keys splayed out underneath his fingertips to glare at the intruder only to be met with one Park Jimin.

“Oh, it’s you Yoongi-hyung,” he said, cheeks turning just the slightest shade of pink.

“What do you want?” It came out harsher than Yoongi intended but then again Jimin did interrupt him during a very important moment.

“I was waiting for the rain to stop since I forgot my umbrella this morning,” Jimin explained, “That’s when I heard you playing. I came to see who it was.”

Yoongi fixed him with a stare.

“It’s beautiful, “ Jimin continued when Yoongi didn’t say anything, “the song you were playing. I’ve never heard it before.”

“That’s because I wrote it,” Yoongi replied curtly.

“You did?” Jimin stepped into the classroom and shut the door behind him. Yoongi took his fingers off the keys and rested his hands in his lap. It didn’t look like he’d be able to continue practice since it appeared as though Jimin was going to stay. The boy took a seat at the desk closest to the piano. He leaned forward and rested his chin on his arms folded on top of the desk.

“You’re so talented, it really did sound beautiful.”         

Yoongi shrugged, “It’s not finished yet.”

“Well I’m sure it’s going to sound even better when it is finished,” Jimin smiled at him. Yoongi’s brows furrowed. Why was Jimin so nice to him? It’s not like they really had a conversation. In fact, Yoongi has probably said about five sentences to the boy since he transferred.

The two fell quiet, only the sound of rain and distant thunder between them.

“You can keep playing,” Jimin said. Yoongi looked up at him but was not met with a gaze of his own or a smile—instead Jimin was staring out the window and watching the rain fall.

“I don’t like to practice in front of people, at least not the unfinished songs,” Yoongi replied, slouching where he sat.

“Why not?”

Yoongi shrugged even though Jimin still wasn’t looking at him, “I don’t want anyone to hear it until I’ve perfected it.”

“Well it sounded good to me,” Jimin mumbled almost too low for Yoongi to hear over the rain.

“Can you not practice at home then? Don’t you think that a place like this would mean anyone could listen in?”

Jesus the boy asked a lot of questions. Yoongi played a few random keys softly, “I used to but we had to sell our piano when we moved to Daegu. We didn’t have enough room for it in the new house. I’ve really been struggling with this new song but I haven’t had the chance to come here to work on it,”

Yoongi didn’t know why he was talking about this, let alone to someone he just met. Let alone Park Jimin. He barely even opened up to his close friends, finding it horribly difficult to find the right words to express what he was feeling. Even if he did he always found it so difficult to just say them. Perhaps that’s why he liked rap so much—he had the ability to say what he couldn’t to others.

“I won’t bother you,” Jimin finally turned his gaze towards Yoongi. The storm combined with the lights from above cast odd shadows across his face but he still looked soft with a small pleading smile played across his lips.

“I promise.”

Yoongi sighed, “Alright, I’ll let you stay. But you have to stay quiet and you can’t look at me like that.”

“Like what?” Jimin laughed. Yoongi’s mouth fell into a straight line and his brows were knit together. His expression only made Jimin laugh more.

“Okay, okay. I promise I won’t look at you hyung.”

And just like he promised Jimin turned his gaze back towards the window. A bolt of lightning lit up the sky followed by a clap of thunder that made the windows shake. It appeared as though the rain wouldn’t be relenting any time soon. Yoongi’s fingers danced across the keys, playing songs that he knew by heart, ones that weren’t his own and a few here and there that were, all the while Jimin listened closely. They both found themselves lost in the graceful beauty of the music.

“The rain stopped finally,” Jimin said.

Yoongi’s fingers came to a halt, “What’d you say?”

“I said the rain stopped,” Jimin finally looked at him. Yoongi hummed in response, not sure what to say.

“Do you want to walk home together?” Jimin asked suddenly to Yoongi’s surprise. He hesitated; he hadn’t got to work on his song like he wanted. It probably would be a good idea to go ahead home now, while he had the chance since it was no longer raining. Who knew if it would pick back up? But did that even matter? Unlike Jimin, Yoongi remembered to bring an umbrella with him that morning.

“You can go ahead, I’m going to work on my melody for a little while longer,” Yoongi finally replied. Jimin chewed on his bottom lip before standing and slinging his school bag over his shoulder.

“Thank you for letting me listen to you play, you really are good, you know? I know you’ll finish your song soon,” Jimin smiled at him, his eyes turning into crescents that smiled along with his lips.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he called out as he left.

Yoongi stared at the door until long after Jimin had already left. It was strange to have someone sit in silence and just listen. Typically when he played around other people it was to either perform a finished piece of his or whenever he and someone from the group were recording a song. Yoongi shook his head and pushed all thoughts of Jimin from his mind. He’d barely even known the boy for a day but he was already shaking Yoongi up.

 

(If only Yoongi knew what was to come.)