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soul-tied

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You're perfect to me.

They curl around Jimin's wrist like a bracelet he can never take off, an eternal reminder of an end that began the moment he was born. An end that everyone was born into--the last words their soulmate would ever say to them.

Perhaps it was god's way of teaching humans a lesson, or just some kind of really sick joke the deities decided to play. But it takes you don't know what you got till it's gone to an entirely new level. Some people go insane, some people try to burn/cut/scratch the words off in hopes that they can somehow detach themselves from a predestined fate, grasping for some illusion of freedom that was never there. They always reappear, the dark ink pressing against the surface of your skin like an invisible hand carving them in right beneath where you can see, where you can touch, the haunting last line of a book destined for romantic tragedy of which you are the unwilling main character. Eat your heart out William Shakespeare.

Some people fall in love anyway and pretend that they don't spend every living moment in fear of the words slipping from their lips and watching the love of their lives walk away.

Still. Some people fall in love anyway.

Jungkook bites his lips, watching Jimin through the practice room mirror. His moves are sharp and slick, soft and fixed with such precision Jungkook finds himself mesmerized. Perfect. The word sits on his tongue like poison, tantalizing and persistent, pressing against his teeth, daring him to try. It hisses in his ear and he swallows it back down. It burns and boils in the pit of his stomach, waiting, waiting, waiting.

"How was that?" Jimin asks, eyes glittering with hope and love and everything in between, glazed over in anticipation, expectation.

"Pretty good," Jungkook says, nodding, blinking to keep from staring. He almost hears Jimin's excitement fade, the vim of exhilaration simmering down to a low flame as Jimin sits down next to Jungkook and leans a head on his shoulder. Jungkook laces their fingers and gives them a squeeze.

"Just pretty good?"

"Never just," Jungkook says, but he doesn't explain further, only turning his head to press a kiss into Jimin’s sweaty hair, laughing as he pulls back, "Ew, you really need a shower."

"Join me?" Jimin asks, eyebrows doing their signature dance of doom. Jungkook rolls his eyes but tips his head for a kiss. One that Jimin responds to with a fervor uncommon to those who have just finished a very intense two hour dance session. But this is Jimin, and where Jungkook is involved, he always has energy to spare.

The water skims down skin flushed and tender, the room steaming, the mirror fogging over with the heat of bodies intertwined. Jungkook's cheek is pressed into cool tile, gasping, eyes squeezing shut as Jimin works into him from behind, his fingers solid over Jungkook's hips. Jimin’s fingers trace against the words along his spine--I've had enough.

We can't be soulmates then, Jimin had once said, laughing as he snuggles into Jungkook's side, their bodies still buzzing from that post-coital high. Jungkook starts and looks down at him, eyes wide. But Jimin had just smiled and kissed him.

Because I could never have enough of you.

Jungkook had sighed into the kiss, contented himself with curling his fingers into the hairs at the base of Jimin's neck, had lost himself in trailing his tongue along the column of Jimin's neck, savoring the little gasps and moans and mewls Jimin is so generous with. Jungkook had buried himself again and again in the dark safety of Jimin's skin, in the lulling warmth of his arms, if only to forget because even if Jimin could never get enough of him, Jimin has always been perfect to him. And Jungkook is terrified.

He wakes up at night, heart thudding so loudly it might wake the entire building, fingers desperately searching the bed next to him, stomach tight with the what if--but he's always found Jimin right there, right where he's supposed to be, where he belongs, by Jungkook's side. More than once, Jimin has woken up to Jungkook pulling him so close he could barely breathe but he never asks, only ever wrapping his arms tighter about Jungkook’s middle and pressing reassuring kisses into Jungkook’s jaw, shushing him back to sleep.

That's how the story begins.

You see, back when souls were free to meet and unmeet, twine and untwine, and be left scarred, left to heal and find anew, people grew insensitive to love. No one knew what it was anymore, convinced that the miracle of it has been washed out centuries before, and all that's left is forgotten love songs and sonnets written in an era when people had enough time to wax poetic about it. Love had become a shadow and people grew impatient. No one believed in soulmates anymore.

And then one day, the words appeared.

And perhaps it's an overused phrase (aren't they all), but all endings have to begin somewhere.

It took a while. But people are smart, and the slow dawning realization crept up on everyone as they continued to live their lives, at first confused, and then horrified. People watched their mothers and fathers exchange words over signed divorce papers, people watched their grandparents kiss for one last time, the words slipping from their lips as they close their eyes. People watched each other crossing the street, calling out, and then cars come zooming by too fast and people watched. And they learned.

Oh boy did they learn.

For the first time in forever, people relearned the meaning of love and how easy it is to lose it. How inevitable it is to lose it. After all, don't most love stories end in tragedy?

So Jimin learns to live with Jungkook's silent compliments, learning to read the lines on his face as he smiles, learning to taste the words on his lips as they kiss, learning to feel the inexpressible emotions thrumming beneath his skin as they make and unmake themselves against each other.

So love is to be.

But all things wear and tear and even the rocks give way to drops of water, given enough time and fifteen years is a long time.

"Never good enough, am I?" Jimin asks, arms knotted over his front, venom dripping from every syllable.

"You know--" Jungkook cuts off with a frustrated sigh, raking a hand through his hair. His eyes sweep the walls and land on their wedding photo, the pair of them with their hands laced, kissing like happiness had nothing on them. Back then, it really didn't. Nabokov's seraphs would have been green with jealousy; maybe this is their revenge.

"Do I?" Jimin scoffs, licking his lips, eyebrow jerking up. His voice is falling flat, his stance loosening, "Because so far as I'm concerned, you've never once confirmed--"

"Do you really need my confirmation that bad? Shouldn't you know me better than that by now?" Jungkook's eyes snap back to Jimin's and they stare at each other across a deafening silence.

"I'm starting to think I don't know you at all," Jimin says, voice softening, eyes falling to the ground.

Jungkook feels something solidifying in the pit of his stomach, weighing him down as he fights for breath.

"How could you say that?"

"All I've ever wanted..." Jimin takes a shaky breath, "All I've ever wanted is one word. Just one. And yet you've never--"

Jungkook crosses the room in three steps and takes Jimin by the shoulders, shaking him as if it could knock some sense into him but when their eyes meet, Jungkook can't find himself there anymore. What used to be soft is now hard, what used to be bright is now dark. What used to be an open window through which he could see every one of Jimin's thoughts and desires is now closed, shuttered, so Jungkook for the love of him, can't figure out a thing.

"I love you, isn't that enough?" he says, and he's begging now. Please, please, please don't--

"Enough," Jimin says, nodding, tongue flickering out again to wet his lips, "Yeah... enough."

Jungkook falters, fingers loosening as his mind goes blank. No, no, no this can't be it, this can't be it.

"I've had enough," Jimin says, finally, in a voice that is soft as it is tender, looking up to meet Jungkook's gaze one last time. And for a split second, Jungkook finds himself, a shadow of it, flickering behind those eyes he had grown to love so damn much, grown to know the width and depths of like the sky knows the seas.

Jungkook takes two steps back as Jimin grabs his phone from the counter, watching in a stunned silence as he makes for the door. It clicks open and Jungkook thinks Jimin might pause, might turn back, might do something other than this other than resign.

As Jimin disappears around the door, Jungkook stumbles over, and he sees Jimin's shadow making his way across the front lawn towards the car.

And he shouts because what else has he left to do, "You're perfect--you always have been. You're perfect to me," and he watches as Jimin pauses, head lowering to look at his wrist.

"Always," Jungkook says, more to himself because he's afraid of what will happen if he says it too loud, if Jimin hears. He can't hear. That's not how it works.

Across the lawn, Jimin takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders, and keeps on walking.

A lot can be said about humans and their capacity to learn, but none more so than that they're hilariously bad at it for a race so self-proclaimed to be the most intelligent beings on earth. It takes a long time before people grew enough to consider the what if of turning back, the weight of their happiness and love against the supposed fates and fortunes and predestinations.

It takes years for people to understand that there is always a choice and that perhaps the hamartia of mankind has been its willingness to resign to that which it thinks it cannot conquer. And it takes another few years for people to understand fully the connotations of those realizations.

Jimin heaves a deep sigh as he flips through his mail for the week, sorting through the advertisements and magazines under the dim, flickering light of the apartment complex lobby. He comes across a postcard of a house that he thinks he's seen before. He flips it over and his heart thuds of a stop.

You're perfect to me. Always.

He swallows the thickness in his throat and scans the postcard for a return address, finding it through the blur of heat prickling at his eyes. He doesn't need Google Maps to find his way, his fingers remembering as his body does, and he pulls up outside the house on the postcard. He kills the engine and takes a breath that shakes an entire lifetime.

When he knocks on the door, it takes half a minute for it to fly open and Jungkook is standing there, his hair longer than Jimin remembers, the line of his jaw more pronounced, thinner for sure. From what? Jimin wonders, but he will have time for that later. He'll have time for a lot of things later but for now, he smiles and bites his lips, unsure of how to proceed, unsure of how this works.

Jungkook closes the space between them in seconds, hands coming up to cup the sides of Jimin's face, their lips melting against each other in a fit made in a place above even that which the noble-winged seraphs in heaven can conceive. When they break for breath, Jimin lets out a shaky laugh and says, "I could never have enough of you."