It was Hosoeok who introduced them.
Hoseok was friendly to a fault, like the time Namjoon and Seokjin had to pick up Hoseok from prison when he accidentally helped his neighbor rob a house. In Hoseok’s defense he thought he was helping the guy move out of his old apartment. The police didn’t believe him. Namjoon had to calmly explain that their friend was a gullible idiot. Seokjin paid bail. They took Hoseok home and slapped him on the back of the head.
But most days, Hoseok’s sociability was an amiable trait. Like when he befriended Jimin, the tiny muscular waiter at their favorite underground bar, who memorized their drink orders, served them hot fries, and saved their favorite three person standing table.
That day the table was overlooked for a larger corner booth in the back. Hoseok insisted on it. That day they needed room for his new friend from work.
“You have friends?” Seokjin asked.
“Yes I do asshole,” Hoseok said, “he works at the quarry with me.”
Seokjin crinkled his nose in disgust. Quarry employees were by far the dirtiest people on Mars. Hoseok met Seokjin and Namjoon as soon as he punched out for the day, he did not have a chance to change before getting in Seokjin’s car. Seokjin forced him to sit in the passenger’s seat which was wrapped in plastic wrap to protect Seokjin’s car and sanity. Hoseok’s work pants, Hoseok’s everything, was stained red from Mars dust, the price of working in the quarry.
“You need to take better showers,” Seokjin scolded, he held Hoseok’s hand in his and found red caked under fingernails, “There’s three inches of dirt on your skin.”
Hoseok pulled back his hand, “Shut up, not everyone can get an indoor job.”
“This isn’t about who works where, this is about good hygiene,” Seokjin argued. Seokjin framed his face to emphasize how it was clean, smooth, and devoid of dirt. Hoseok glared. Seokjin smiled and tilted his head to the side. Hoseok rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath, “Fucking elitist, I can’t afford the water.”
Namjoon laughed. His own black and white ensemble perfectly clean, not for lack of care, Namjoon was one of those who believed maintenance was worth the price of water. His archive job at the museum required employees to wear white lab coats. He may have bought some extra ones for everyday above ground use.
“I don’t know if I can handle more than one quarry man at a time,” Namjoon teased. Hoseok glared. Namjoon smiled. Hoseok poked his dimple. “Deal with it.”
“I don’t know if these seats can handle more than one quarry man, you’re getting mud all over the booth,” Seokjin said.
Hoseok shrugged, “Jimin won’t care.”
Seokjin looked behind the counter, where the grimace Jimin made showed that he did care. Seokjin made a mental note to leave Jimin a big tip.
“How come we’ve never heard about this friend before,” Namjoon asked.
“This is his first month on Mars,” Hoseok said. He finished his beer and continued, “He just transferred in from the facility.”
“The facility?” Seokjin asked.
“You know the facility,” Hoseok clarified, he gestured widely, “the nursery on Venus.”
Oh, that facility. The clone nursery on Venus was the second largest one in their solar system, eclipsed only by the one on Jupiter. Then again, everything was bigger on Jupiter.
“Are clones allowed to live on Mars?” Namjoon asked. “The air is bad for lungs.”
“What if someone needs a heart and can’t make the flight to Earth?” Seokjin asked.
“He has to wear a gas mask when he works,” Hoseok said. He looked over Seokjin’s shoulder and waved. Seokjin turned to face the new guy. He was small, unbelievably small, his work jacket sleeves extended past his hands and hung off his shoulders. A black scarf covered his mouth. The new guy walked towards the table.
“Sup Hoseok?” he said, slight lisp in his voice. He pulled the scarf down. Seokjin froze.
“Yo. Yoongi, these are my friends Namjoon and Seokjin,” Hoseok introduced them.
Yoongi’s eyebrows shot up, “You have friends?”
“Fuck you,” Hoseok shouted. Namjoon laughed into his glass. Seokjin gave a slow laugh, his unease still in his bones. Yoongi’s eyes briefly met his.
Yoongi smiled, sharp teeth and gums on display. Seokjin leaned back on his chair and saw the serial number tattooed, the physical marker on every clone, on the back of Yoongi’s neck.
“What’s Venus like?” Namjoon asked, “I heard that all the cities are in the clouds?”
“Well, you can’t exactly stand on the surface. It’s too hot for that, the concrete melts before it sets,” Yoongi explained. He removed his jacket, revealing more of his unbelievably small frame, and slid onto the open seat on Hoseok’s bench, directly across from Seokjin. Their legs inches away from each other. Yoongi continued, “All the buildings float.”
“Incredible,” Namjoon said, “So this is your first time on the ground?”
“Yeah, this is my first time on ground, and underground. Gravity is weird here,” Yoongi explained.
“Surface gravity is three times stronger than artificial gravity. Seokjin was shocked when he first arrived here,” Namjoon ruffled Seokjin’s hair. Seokjin swatted his hand away, and smoothed down his bangs.
“I wasn’t shocked,” Seokjin defended himself.
“You almost cried when you were first weighed,” Hoseok said, smirk on his lips.
Seokjin kicked Hoseok under the table. He missed and kicked the table stand instead. Namjoon and Hoseok laughed. Seokjin pouted.
“Where are you from?” Yoongi asked Seokjin.
Seokjin looked at the wooden table. “I was born on Jupiter,” Seokjin said in a small voice, “but I went to school on Earth.”
Yoongi’s eyebrows shot up, “Earth is expensive.”
Seokjin shrugged. “It paid off. Now I work in the citadel underground.”
Yoongi looked at him with dark eyes, cautiously, imploring. Seokjin felt his skin heat up. There was red dust on the corner of Yoongi’s eye. A cut on his wrist. Should he say something? His dark eyes brought back memories of another night and another place. But the slouch of his shoulders was new. Seokjin shook his head. He stared for too long.
Yoongi ran his hands through his blonde-almost white hair. Seokjin wanted to ask if that was natural or if Yoongi had changed it? Was Yoongi allowed to dye his hair. Were clones allowed to do anything?
Then Jimin came with a tray full of drinks and Seokjin’s thoughts were quieted.
“Everything is the same?” Namjoon asked.
“Yeah,” Yoongi answered dismissively. He drank half the glass of stout in one go.
“You don’t have super strength or extra sharp vision?” Namjoon asked.
Yoongi glared, “I’m a clone not a cyborg, they don’t experiment on us.”
“But you’re not a real person,” Namjoon said. Yoongi’s grip tightened on his glass. Namjoon didn’t notice, “You were grown in a lab, you don’t even have parents.”
“We all called the headmistress Mother,” Yoongi said.
“That’s not the same,” Namjoon said.
Yoongi’s jaw tightened.
Seokjin pinched Namjoon’s thigh, just as Hoseok asked Yoongi, “How do you like Mars?”
Yoongi’s jaw unclenched. “It’s different,” he muttered. He drank the rest of his beer and slammed his glass on the table. “Thanks for inviting me, Hoseok. But it’s getting late, we have any early shift tomorrow.”
“It was fun,” Hoseok said, slight tremor in his voice. “Seokjin can take you home.”
Seokjin glared at Hoseok.
Hoseok gave Seokjin a pointed look. “You’re the only one with a car.” Hoseok then spoke to Yoongi, “He can drive you back.”
“What about you?” Yoongi asked.
“Namjoon and I live on the other side of town, we’ll take the train back,” Hoseok said.
Yoongi gave Seokjin a once over. Seokjin stood up, displaying his full height. Yoongi’s eyes widened slightly.
“I don’t mind giving you a ride,” Seokjin said. Then he smiled.
Yoongi’s expression softened. He followed Seokjin. Seokjin stopped at the entrance. He ran to the bar, leaned over the counter and handed Jimin a large bill, “Sorry about the mud.” And then ran back to the front door. “We can go now.”
At the table, Hoseok glared at Namjoon. Namjoon mouthed ‘what did I do” Hoseok kicked his shin. Namjoon winced. Hoseok glared harder, and mouthed back ‘asshole.’
Seokjin had a silver hovercar. It was an older model but it ran smoothly and had good gas mileage. Yoongi was impressed, Venus didn’t have cars.
Yoongi leaned against the window, his gaze on the dry red wasteland. Only the quarries and the oil rigs were aboveground, the city life thrived just below the surface, with towers that went fourteen levels down and concrete roads weaving through hovels. They drove down a tunnel to the citadel below. Highways with green flashing lights on the tunnel walls.
Seokjin tapped the steering wheel. He spoke, “I’m sorry about Namjoon.”
Yoongi didn’t respond.
Seokjin continued, “He means well, he just has a lot to learn.”
“Everyone has to learn,” Yoongi scoffed.
“He’s just curious,” Seokjin tried to explain. Yoongi scoffed. Seokjin backtracked, “It’s not every day that Hoseok brings a clone to our group.”
Yoongi’s eyebrows raised. Seokjin noticed, “What?”
“Nothing,” Yoongi smirked, “Namjoon wasn’t the one who stared at me all night.”
Seokjin’s face flushed, “That was...”
“It’s okay,” Yoongi said, “I’m flattered.”
Seokjin didn't say anything. He pulled up to Yoongi’s apartment hovel.
Yoongi lingered outside the passenger’s seat. He turned around to face Seokjin’s car. “I haven’t finished unpacking,” Yoongi said, “But I have a mattress.”
Seokjin stared. Yoongi stared back with dark eyes. Seokjin turned off his ignition and followed Yoongi into his apartment.
After the first city on Mars celebrated its 100 year anniversary, humans moved outside of Earth and expanded to have territories on other planets. But since everyone was spread out, not all medical resources went with them. The medicine that was easily made on Earth could not be recreated on Neptune or Venus. In turn, scientists discovered that there was medicine that could only be created on these other planets.
That’s when the biomedical community proposed a radical solution: clones.
Cloning experiments had expanded past sheep and kittens. The first human had died within a week. Then they lived to a month, a year, three years. The human clones were surviving. Nurseries were created to raise the clones. And when they reached of age, their organs would be donated to the people who need them.
“It’s a bunch of bullshit,” Yoongi said. His fingers fumbled to light his cigarette. Seokjin took the lighter from him and lit it one try. Yoongi glared. Seokjin smiled. Yoongi rolled his eyes and took a drag.
“Calling them donations makes it sound like I chose this life,” Yoongi said, he exhaled a stream of smoke. “I was bred for it. My life never belonged to me.”
Seokjin’s smile turned sympathetic.
They were at Yoongi’s apartment, on his mattress on the floor, five inches of space in between them. One light glowed pink in the corner of the room, dusting Yoongi in a soft rose color. At night Yoongi was pale, almost like a ghost. Seokjin would have mistaken him for a spirit if not for the steady movement of his breathing chest.
Yoongi caught Seokjin’s stare and gave him a smug smile. Seokjin shuddered, the action pulled at a memory. He looked away, he reached for his pants at the foot of the mattress.
Yoongi exhaled smoke. “Days on Mars are too short.”
“Oh yeah,” Seokjin laughed. Seokjin stood up and shimmied into his jeans. “How long is a day on Venus?”
“About a third of a year on Earth,” Yoongi said. “The facility had us scheduled for ten hour intervals of work and sleep. And we had black out windows.”
“That’s crazy,” Seokjin said. He slipped his sweater over his head.
“You’re not going to spend the night?” Yoongi asked.
Seokjin froze. He ran a hand through his hair. “I have to work early tomorrow.”
Yoongi looked at him. He stubbed out his cigarette. “Lock the door on your way out.”
“Isn’t smoking against the rules?” Seokjin asked Yoongi one day.
Yoongi pulled a dented carton of cigarettes from his jacket pocket and lit one up. Yoongi slipped it from his hands and took a drag. He shrugged, “My doctor says that Mars air is as dangerous as smoking two packs a week. I’m not creating more damage.”
When Yoongi smoked it was art. Cigarette delicately held between two fingers. Motions fluid, as fluid as the smoke that spilled from his mouth and framed his face. Beautiful, ethereal, unable to be captured. Seokjin could watch him smoke forever, if only...
Yoongi stared at Seokjin’s lips.
Seokjin stole Yoongi’s cigarette and put in his mouth. He took a drag. He coughed on the smoke and returned the cigarette to Yoongi. Yoongi laughed.
Seokjin was on break for his job as an anesthesiologist.
“You’re the last thing people see before they go under,” Yoongi said.
Seokjin grimaced, the taste of nicotine still heavy on his tongue. He leaned against the guard rail of his office building. It was in one of the lower levels of the citadels, buried deep underground. If Seokjin looked up, he could see Mars’ red surface. “It’s not that big of deal.”
“Think about it. If they die during surgery, you would have been the last thing they saw,” Yoongi said with morbid fascination.
Seokjin winced. “No one’s died during surgery. Not since I’ve been there.”
Yoongi laughed. He took a drag of his cigarette.
“Besides, plastic surgery isn’t a serious operation,” Seokjin said, “not like organ replacement.”
Yoongi’s smile went away. He exhaled a stream of smoke and asked, “You ever worked in one of those?”
“No, but I’d like to one day.” See if there are any differences between a clone and a human.
Yoongi stomped on his cigarette. His black work boots, caked with red mud, stained the clean citadel floor. He brushed back his bangs. He licked his lips, a habit from the dry air.
Seokjin watched every movement. He spoke, “My shift ends early today.”
Yoongi searched his face. “I have a checkup after my shift.”
Two per month. A requirement of every clone.
Yoongi asked, “After that, can I go over?”
Seokjin paused, “I’ll drive to your place.”
Yoongi smirked. He stepped into Seokjin’s space. His arms went around Seokjin’s waist and he tipped his head up. Seokjin expected a kiss on the mouth, and was surprised when Yoongi’s mouth went to his neck. Seokjin’s breath hitched. He rubbed the back of Yoongi’s neck, and stroked the serial code tattoo.
Yoongi pulled back with a cheeky grin. “As a teaser.”
Seokjin blushed, and slammed his hand on the bruise. Yoongi laughed.
“I have to work,” Seokjin whined.
Yoongi waved good bye.
“This doesn’t look professional!” Seokjin shouted at Yoongi’s retreating back. Yoongi’s shoulders shook with laughter, he was too far away, he was gone.
Seokjin groaned. He popped the collar of his white jacket and went back in the office. There was a rhinoplasty he was assigned to that afternoon. Maybe no one will notice.
“What are you doing here?” Yoongi asked.
Seokjin was at the quarry. He was stiff. He stepped carefully, as to not lift the red dust and stain his outfit. “I brought lunch for you and Hoseok,” Seokjin held out the plastic containers. Yoongi hesitated, then he took the boxes.
“Could you give it to him?” Seokjin asked.
“Sure.” Yoongi smiled softly, “I wish everyone was half as considerate as you.”
“It’s not a big deal. I had leftovers from dinner last night,” Seokjin brushed it off. To be honest, Seokjin had cooked too much on purpose, just so he could see Yoongi’s fond smile directed at him. Seokjin’s face warmed under Yoongi’s gaze.
Seokjin made an excuse, something about having back to back chin shavings, those always scared him and he needed to mentally prepare for those. Maybe Yoongi believed him. Seokjin didn’t think that he did. Yoongi was one of those people with a sixth sense for bullshit.
Sure enough, when Seokjin drove home after work, he found Yoongi leaning against doorframe of his apartment, a trail of smoke shrouding his figure.
Seokjin stole the cigarette from between his fingers and took a drag. This time, he didn’t cough. This time he blew the smoke into Yoongi’s face. Yoongi waved it away. “What are you doing here?” Seokjin asked.
“I needed to return these.” Yoongi held up the empty plastic containers. “Hoseok said thanks, you’re a good cook.”
“That was nothing,” Seokjin smirked, “I can do better.”
“Prove it,” Yoongi challenged him, he stepped into Seokjin’s space, “Make me dinner.”
Seokjin dropped the cigarette to the ground and stomped on it. He unlocked the door. He held the door open for Yoongi. He pushed Yoongi against the closed door and kissed him.
They never made dinner.
Seokjin’s room had a mattress and a bed frame and cabinets and a dresser and all the furniture a bedroom should have but Yoongi’s didn’t. And everything was organized and put away and clean. Yoongi laughed. More in amusement then anything. Of course Seokjin would be that one.
Yoongi’s finger traced down Seokjin’s sternum, where there was bright pink raised skin.
“What’s the story behind this scar?” he asked.
Seokjin rolled away from him. “It’s a birthmark,” he answered in a terse tone.
He pulled the nearest shirt over his head. It was Yoongi’s the sleeves ended mid forearm. It’s easy to forget how small Yoongi is, so tiny and frail. Seokjin couldn’t believe they chose someone so small to be cloned.
“I know a surgery scar when I see one. My appendix was removed years ago,” Yoongi said.
Seokjin’s eyebrows furrowed, “People don’t get their appendixes replaced.”
“Who said I donated it? It burst. I was in pain. They removed it,” Yoongi explained Seokjin laughed.
“Not all of me belongs to the government,” Yoongi said.
He laid back on the bed, his arms behind his head, smiling up at the ceiling. He looked like he belonged there. Seokjin almost agreed.
Seokjin stopped laughing. He laced up his shoes.
“Leaving so soon?” Yoongi asked.
“Yeah, I have the early shift this morning,” Seokjin said. Yoongi didn’t protest.
Seokjin shrugged his duffelbag over his shoulder. He paused at the doorway.
He licked his lips and said, “I’m not looking for anything serious. This is sex, that’s all it is.”
“I know,” Yoongi answered without pause. “Who would date a clone?” some self depreciating humor. He cocooned himself in Seokjin’s blankets. “I can’t belong to anyone else, I’m a serial number waiting to be cut up.”
Seokjin hadn’t mean that. He meant… he couldn’t articulate what he meant.
“Can you lock the door when you leave?” Seokjin asked.
“Yeah sure,” Yoongi said, “Bye Seokjin.”
The truth was Seokjin had always wanted to be an anesthesiologist. It was a decision he firmly made when he was ten years old.
But when he finished school the sent him to a plastic surgery clinic. His counselor said that a face like his would make them more money. People who were unsure about surgery would get one look at Seokjin and think wow, they want to look like that guy. That’s how Seokjin’s counselor sold the job.
“So that’s why you’re so handsome, you’ve had work done,” Yoongi said.
“Ew no, how dare you accuse my face of being fake?” Seokjin whined.
Yoongi laughed, exposing white teeth and gums. Seokjin’s chest constricted.
To be honest, Seokjin never wanted to work in plastic surgery. It was all artifice, voluntary, selfish surgeries to reach an unachievable goal.
Seokjin wanted to work on organ transplants in the pediatrics ward. Children needed more happiness in their lives.
Especially clone children. Sweet oblivious clone children who didn’t know what they were giving up.
A new guy transferred to the quarry, a young kid with pale skin and big eyes who was born on Pluto. Within a month he had established himself as the fastest employee.
“What the fuck, kid?” Yoongi asked him one day.
Jungkook smirked, “The ground on Pluto is harder, and it’s warmer here on Mars. Working the quarry is easy.”
They were at the underground bar where they first met Yoongi. It was the quarry workers, Hoseok, Yoongi, and Jungkook, and Seokjin. Namjoon couldn’t make it, the archaeology labs had a major exhibition that would open up in two weeks. There was archival research that still needed to be done.
“Seriously, you’re twice as fast as me,” Yoongi said.
Jungkook shrugged, “Just proves that the original is better than a copy.”
Yoongi stopped smiling. Seokjin wrapped an arm around Yoongi, “Don’t they have manners on Pluto?” Seokjin defended, “They don’t teach their children to respect their elders.”
Jungkook pointed at Seokjin, “I’ll treat you like an elder when you start acting like one.”
Seokjin stood up, he towered over Jungkook. Jungkook shrunk in his seat. “Seokjin, sir. Would you like more beer?” In an act of submission, Jungkook raised the jug and refilled Seokjin’s glass. Everyone at the table laughed. Even Yoongi, big toothy grin, gummy smile.
The night continued like that. Hoseok scolded Jungkook for not washing his hair. When Hoseok shook Jungkook’s head, red dust fell on the table, to reveal the black hair underneath.
Seokjin winced. Yoongi glared. “How do you go that long without showering?”
“We don’t shower that often on Pluto,” Jungkook smiled sheepishly, “we don’t really sweat.”
Seokjin winced, “That’s gross.”
At that moment, a boy, almost Jungkook’s age if not older, ran up to the table, pink lips, long eyelashes, hair stained orange from Mars’s red dust.
“Excuse me,” he spoke directly to Yoongi, “are you August D?”
Yoongi blinked in confusion, “Who’s that?”
The boy’s shoulders fell but he continued talking, “He’s an underground rapper. If you’re not him then you must share his original.”
Seokjin felt Yoongi stiffen. He answered in a quiet voice, “Maybe…”
“Sorry to bother you,” the boy said. He scratched the back of his neck, “I’m a clone too. This is my first time meeting another one on Mars.”
At this Yoongi’s expression brightened, “Yeah, what nursery are you from?”
“The one on Jupiter. It’s so big that I grew up with someone who shared my original. He lives on Neptune now. I’m V, by the way.”
Hoseok and Jungkook moved in their booth so that V could join their table. Yoongi and V spent an hour going back and forth comparing nurseries and complaining about medical appointments. Then Hoseok mentioned that Seokjin was born on Jupiter, and transferred V’s attention from Yoongi to Seokjin.
V took one look at Seokjin’s wide shoulders and unfair height and asked, “Everything really is bigger on Jupiter. How’s your equipment?”
“Equipment?” Seokjin asked.
V raised an eyebrow. Seokjin blushed. The table laughed.
Yoongi and Seokjin were the first to leave. They said their good byes and left the bar. Yoongi squeezed Seokjin’s hand and didn’t let go. Seokjin followed Yoongi into his apartment.
There wasn’t sex. They cuddled on the mattress. Yoongi sat between Seokjin’s legs and leaned against his chest. They set up the light, so that they made stars on the ceiling. Yoongi stared up at them.
Yoongi spoke, “I don’t want to meet someone who shares my original. I don’t want to judge them. “
He hugged Seokjin’s arm. “Sometimes I wonder which parts of my personality are mine, and which ones come from a ghost.”
His fingernails dug into Seokjin’s forearm. “What if there are five other people exactly like me out there in the universe?”
Seokjin looked at the serial number on the back of Yoongi’s neck. Black letters a stark contrast against his pale skin. Seokjin kissed the numbers.
Yoongi shifted in Seokjin’s arms, so that they looked at each other. His eyes red, threatening to cry. He swallowed, “What if none of this belongs to me?”
Seokjin didn’t know. He wrapped his arms around Yoongi and hugged him. Seokjin would never understand those fears, he couldn’t even begin to comprehend them. Seokjin pushed Yoongi down on the mattress, moved so that he hovered over Yoongi. Tears pooled at the corner of Yoongi’s eyes. He looked fragile, as if he would break at any moment. Seokjin tenderly kissed him.
Yoongi was loose and pliant, vulnerable and open. His breathless shudders and whines and moans, Seokjin swallowed them in kisses. Yoongi gripped onto Seokjin’s back. And afterwards, he fell asleep on Seokjin’s chest. Head resting right on top of the pink scar.
Seokjin left before Yoongi woke up the next morning.
Yoongi called three days later.
Seokjin didn’t answer.
Hoseok missed his train to work. Seokjin hated driving Hoseok, he lived on the other side of town, far away from Seokjin’s apartment. Seokjin dropped Hoseok off at the the quarry. Hoseok lingered in the passenger seat.
“Do you want to say hi to the guys?” he asked.
Seokjin closed his eyes. He remembered Yoongi’s vulnerable expression last time they spoke. He shook his head, no.
Hoseok sighed. “You’ll have to talk to him eventually.”
“And what would I say?” Seokjin asked.
“That’s all you,” Hoseok got out of the car. He beat on the hood. “Jungkook wanted to know if you’ll drive him and V to a concert.”
“V?” Seokjin asked.
“The kid we met at the bar.” Hoseok clarified.
Seokjin tapped on the steering wheel. He asked, “Who’s performing?”
“August D,” Hoseok answered.
Seokjin stopped tapping. “I’ll drive them.”
Hoseok walked to the quarry. Seokjin watched him leave. A flash of blonde, Seokjin didn’t even get a look at his face, and drove off.
The concert was in an underground bar at the heart of the citadel. V bounced in the back seat of Seokjin’s car. Seokjin smiled. “Calm down.”
Jungkook gripped V’s shoulder.
“It’s so cool, he’s a clone and a rapper,” V said, his face pulled into a big box smile, “How cool is that?”
“I wish I could become famous, then I could fight for clone rights. I would convince the public that we’re not just a new liver, or heart, or an excuse to not live a healthy life. We’re people too.”
Seokjin’s smile was sympathetic.
“I think you’re a person,” Jungkook said. V smiled at him. Jungkook turned away, unsuccessfully hiding his blush.
He dropped them off at the front then drove around for a parking spot. He missed the first fifteen minutes of the concert. He had to stand on the balcony, but he had a great view of the stage.
August D had red cropped hair. He had metal curved all around his ears. He had facial tattoos on the corners of his eyes and a tiger tattooed on his middle finger. His fingernails were painted black. Kohl outlined familiar eyes.
He was good, really good. He held eye contact with the audience, got them to laugh between sets and jump with the rhythm. And in the middle of the concert, he looked up at the balcony and caught Seokjin’s gaze. He was stunned, only for a moment, then continued with the rest of the set.
The audience screamed. A fight broke out in the pit. Seokjin hoped V and Jungkook were safe. August D blew a kiss to the audience.
Seokjin made his way to the back of the bar. August D stood in front of the stage door. A cigarette held firmly in his hand, and waved Seokjin with the other.
“Long time no see, Jinnie,” he smiled as he spoke.
Seokjin swallowed. He tried to shake off his tension. His pose too stiff. “I left Earth a long time ago, I finished school and got assigned to Mars.”
“That explains it.” The Gloss pulled out his lighter, a heavy metal zippo with a rose engraved on it, and lit the cigarette.
“You kept it,” Seokjin said in a quiet voice.
“I did,” August D, tossed in the air and caught it, “I kept all of your gifts.”
Seokjin blushed. August D. Fucking August D. That was the only name Seokjin had for him. The rapper never said his birth name. He only went by this name, the one he chose, one that wasn't assigned to an embryo grown in a lab.
August D looked Seokjin up and down, eyes lingering on the ripped sweater and exposed collarbones “You look good,” he said. “The eyeliner suits you.”
Seokjin knew. “The kids said I had to wear it if I wanted to fit in.”
“Kids are smart.”
Seokjin shuddered. August D looked good, real good. Black leather jacket, skinny jeans, combat boots. Seokjin wondered how Yoongi would look in that same outfit.
“I’m not here for sex,” Seokjin said.
“I know. You made that very clear on Earth,” August D took a drag, “Why are you here?”
He still had that husky tone in his voice. The one that Seokjin had been drawn to when he first met the rapper.
“I know someone who shares your original,” Seokjin told him.
“Oh yeah,” August D exhaled a stream of smoke, “Is he any fun?”
“He actually goes to his checkups,” Seokjin said.
The rapper snorted, “He doesn’t need to.”
“He knows, at least I think he does,” Seokjin furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. “He goes anyway.”
“He’s dumber than I thought,” August D leaned against the stage door, “Is he a good lay?”
Seokjin’s face heated up, “He’s better than you.”
August D glared at him. His hands twitched every so often. He was thinner than the last time. He looked like Yoongi when he first started work at the quarry. Thin, small, frail.
The space was too small for the both of them.
“I just wanted to say hi,” Seokjin said.
“God Jinnie, you’re still awkward, I miss that about you.” August D laughed, all sharp teeth and pink gums, just like Yoongi. “I hope you and him make up.”
Seokjin was about to protest. August D interrupted, “Your face is too pale. It only gets like that when you’re stressing out over a guy.”
August D dropped the cigarette and stubbed out the flame with his heavy combat boot.
“Fix it, then bring him to one of my concerts. I’d love to meet someone who shares my original. We can complain about the bastard together. And how he had no right to get himself cloned.”
And then he walked off.
Seokjin had 15 messages from V and Jungkook, all asking where he was. Seokjin took a deep breath. He texted them saying he’ll meet them at the car. And then he sent a message to someone else.
We need to talk.
Seokjin waited in the quarry parking lot for Yoongi to get off his shift.
Yoongi noticed him immediately. His boots were caked in mud. His hair red from the dirt. He took off the gas mask. He shook out his hair, reveling some of the blonde. He glared at Seokjin. Seokjin waved.
Yoongi spoke first, “Jungkook told me that you drove him and V to the concert.”
“I did,” Seokjin said.
Yoongi winced. He licked his lips and asked, “Were he and I similar?”
Seokjin thought of August D, and his husky voice and how he flirted with everyone. Seokjin shook his head, “Not at all.”
Yoongi was cautious.
But Seokjin threaded their fingers together and squeezed Yoongi’s hand. Yoongi returned the gesture. And allowed Seokjin to tip his head back and kiss him. This, this was nothing like August D. August D kissed Seokjin like he was trying to break them both. Yoongi kissed as if Seokjin would run away at any moment. Seokjin stroked his cheek, and tried to kiss the worry away.
When they separated there was pink blush on Yoongi’s cheeks.
“I’m not leaving,” Seokjin whispered against his lips.
Yoongi looked like he didn’t believe Seokjin. That’s okay. Seokjin could use a challenge. Seokjin wrapped his arms around Yoongi’s waist and leaned in for another kiss. Seokjin sucked on Yoongi’s bottom lip and Yoongi wrapped his arm around Seokjin’s neck.
They have plenty of time.
Seokjin woke up in Yoongi’s apartment, on that one mattress on the floor. Yoongi never did finish unpacking, there were boxes stacked all around them. Seokjin blinked awake to find Yoongi staring at him. Yoongi looked away.
“You stayed,” Yoongi mumbled.
Seokjin yawned. He wrapped his arms around Yoongi’s waist and buried his head in Yoongi’s lap. “I told you, I’m not leaving.”
“You’re cute,” Yoongi said with a fond tone. He ran his fingers through Seokjin’s hair. Seokjin moved so that Yoongi could brush more. Yoongi laughed, “You’re too cute.”
Seokjin remembered what August D had said. Seokjin mumbled against Yoongi’s skin, “They’re never going to use you, or any other clone from your line.”
Yoongi’s hand stilled.
Seokjin continued, “He told me that your original had Huntington’s Disease.”
Yoongi sighed, “I know.”
Seokjin sat upright. Yoongi sighed again. “My doctor’s appointments weren’t just checkups, they were to monitor my disease, to see when the Huntington’s would arrive.”
Seokjin should have known.
“It’s early onset,” Yoongi said. His fingertips traced Seokjin’s cheek. “My only purpose was to die so that someone else could live, and I couldn’t even do that.”
Yoongi's hand stilled. He sighed, “Namjoon’s right, I’m not even a real human.”
Seokjin gripped Yoongi’s hand, “I believe you’re human.”
Yoongi glared, “You’re only saying that because I’m mad at you.”
“I mean it,” Seokjin kissed Yoongi’s palm. Seokjin placed Yoongi’s hand on the pink scar above his sternum, and spoke “I had a heart transplant when I was ten.”
Yoongi’s eyes widened.
“That’s why my family moved to Earth, the best doctors work there,” Seokjin said, “Because of a clone I’m alive today."
"I visited him when he was alive. He was a child like me, and he had already donated an eye and a piece of his liver. I was going to be his last donation,” Seokjin smiled wistfully, “Now I visit him once a year. He’s at the cemetery on the moon, Phobos. On the dark side, so all of the crosses have lights around them.”
Yoongi stroked the raised pink scar. He pressed kiss to Seokjin’s chest. “Can I go with you next time?” he asked, “I want to thank him.”
Seokjin blushed. “Sure.”
“And I need to start looking for my plot.”
Seokjin smiled, “How morbid.”
“My brain will be pudding in 15 years, I can be morbid if I want to.” He laughed.
He pushed Seokjin down on the mattress and kissed him.
Yoongi worried about being human. That his blood wasn't the same, and that his thoughts weren't valid because he was born in a lab.
Seokjin disagreed. Because when Seokjin kissed Yoongi's back, he left various shades of red and purple on white skin.
Seokjin insisted that Yoongi was human.
Seokjin wrapped his arm around Yoongi and pressed the palm of his hand to Yoongi’s chest. He felt a heartbeat. The steady rhythm of Yoongi’s breathing.
Sometimes Yoongi had those moments. When he would break down and question life, and if he was better off dead.
Seokjin would grab his hand and kiss his fingers, and remind him that people would miss him. That if Yoongi can’t believe inhimself, he should believe in Seokjin, because Seokjin will always believe in Yoongi.
And then Yoongi will laugh and pull his hand away, and mutter, "Fucking romantic," under his breath.
Seokjin would have to agree. But all of his romance was for Yoongi.