Do you ever look at the Earth and marvel to yourself at how small it seems? Because it is--it's small. Isn't it? Fits just over the palm of your hand if you lean back and close one eye and squint the other, fits kind of like a basketball or a soccer ball or something like that.
Or like one of the dinner plates Jungkook places in the chute to be sucked off, back into the kitchens where it'll be sprayed down till it glitters.
"General repairs are coming up in 13 hours, get some sleep while you can, it's about to get rowdy."
Jungkook glances around as everyone chuckles; Jungkook keeps quiet. He's gotten good at that here, where usually, everything is quiet.
Outside, the artificial daylight is fading, the great titanium case above them opening shade by shade to reveal the universe, dark and speckled with stars from far off galaxies. Out here, it's hard to imagine life out there. Because even out here, life is scarce. Life is precious, even if it isn't always worth living.
It's hard to imagine the billions of people living on Earth, even when they can see it, right there, through the windows that make up this whole damn base. Jungkook dreams about giving the goddamn architect of the base a good punch to the sucker--no one who has ever lived in space for an extended amount of time would ever design something so damn open. It feels like you're floating and at first, it's exhilarating, like you can fly if you just jumped high enough but--
Jungkook presses his palm to the wall of the hallway as he walks down the tunnel-like structure, the smooth material of the wall cool against his skin. There are no windows here.
At least on Earth, you know that no matter how high you jump, it won't matter. At least on earth, a dream is a dream is a dream--unreachable.
Out here, if you jump too high, try to fly just a little harder than you had before, you find that you just might fall, and keep on falling. It gives "or die trying" a whole new definition. Of course, they were briefed on the dangers of wandering passed outposts and lines of demarcations and boundaries but all those words are just synonyms of rules, and everyone knows that it's only human nature to try and break the rules.
Jungkook had wandered beyond boundaries once, towards a territory that's no longer so uncharted as it was before but still relatively untouched--the dark side of the moon. It was terrifically underwhelming. His oxygen supply held fast and the ground was just as barren as the bright side (brighter side), but more pot marked by meteors, less marked by footprints. Less alive.
It's hard to imagine anything living out here, even himself.
Jungkook had jumped, just to see how high and the answer came when he realized that he hadn't fallen yet, his mind staticking till it blanked and when he came to again, Yoongi was staring down at him with a frown so deep it might never go away.
Jungkook grinned sheepishly.
"Do that again and I'll kick your ass right back to Earth."
"Wouldn't be the worst thing," Jungkook said, pushing himself up onto his elbows, watching as Yoongi chugged an entire canteen of water.
"You almost went floating off--we almost lost you." Yoongi's voice shook in a way that Jungkook had never heard it shake before and Jungkook looked down at his own hands. Inside his head, a voice said--still wouldn't be the worst thing. He bit them back; he swallowed.
There are words, hundreds upon hundreds of words piled at the back of his throat, tucked into his back pocket, strung around his neck in loops that only grow heavier with each passing day. No, not days, each passing cycle of 24 hours, by the clocks on the walls. Because there are no such thing as days out here, no sunrise or sunset or any of that.
It's hard to imagine anything living out here.
Jungkook curls up in bed, toying with the Velcro straps on either side of his blankets that connected to the bed itself. It's just a precaution (a just in case like almost everything is out here), but to him, it's just another tally, another strike against the non-living-ness of the so-called life out here.
He wakes up early. General repairs today.
Humans, Jungkook thinks, as if he weren't one himself. People. He grins as he makes his way to breakfast, downing his glass of orange juice and flashing Yoongi a smile. He's the closest thing Jungkook's got to a best friend here. A year and a half, and Yoongi's still the closest thing. They've spoken a bit more than a handful of times, and much less than enough for either of them to consider seeking the other out unless the really need it. You'd think that living on the Moon with a group of people about 1/5th the size of a normal high school graduating class would promote some kind of companionship, some form of closeness at least in shared experience but Jungkook has never felt more alone.
He can't help it--it's the atmosphere (or complete lack thereof) that does it.
Breakfast ends in relative peacefulness, nothing out of the ordinary here, but even the most outgoing of crew members are fidgeting by the time lunch rolls around. Jungkook has checked all the hatches and latching mechanisms about five times since breakfast. A quiet excitement buzzes through the air, like electricity, the kind that fizzles and shocks, not the silent, cool tubes of glowing something that keeps the whole base alight.
Jungkook wonders what sunlight feels like. Sure, it's only been a year and then some but it's still been a year since he's seen a real sunrise, felt a real breath of fresh air, not the artificial amalgamation of chemicals they pump through the corridors and halls.
Once, they tried to emulate the smell of grass, or nature, or something. The end result was something that smelled faintly like someone had accidentally set a Febreeze packet on fire.
A series of flashing lights cues everyone in to the imminent landing of the repair ship. The landing dock has never been so full.
Jungkook shoulders passed the crowd gathered around the large window (the only time they're thankful for the damn things), and gets ready to suit up to go greet the repair workers. These are customary visits but everyone looks forward to them, even if they don't show it, because it means human contact--as in contact with people who still knew what it meant to live and be alive.
The first repair ship came only three weeks after the beginning of Jungkook's two year tenure, so he wasn't so sure why everyone was this excited. Yoongi had been new then too, and they'd cocked their heads and scoffed, watched from afar as the old timers (the first wave have been here since three years ago) all gathered around the landing dock to watch, excited grins on their faces, unable to hide them any longer.
Jungkook takes a deep breath, Yoongi beside him as the pressurized door closes behind them with a soft hiss, the small cubical shooting up towards the landing dock where the ship had been stabilized and the evac tunnels had been connected. Jungkook fidgets with his suit, tugging at the fingers of his gloves, rocking on the balls of his feet, even with the awkward bulk of his suit. The evac tunnel connects to their cubical, airtight, and the doors hiss open.
Three people shuffle inside, peering out through their helmets, wide-eyed and curious, as they all were, once upon a time.
"Hi," one of them says--red hair, red like fire, like sun on sky, red like love and lust, like blood and brimstone. Jungkook stares, his heart in his throat. Oh, right, his favorite color had been red.
"Welcome to the Moonbase," Yoongi says in his customary drawl, though with a bit more kick than is perhaps normal for him, "I know you're only here for three days... but well," he throws up his hands as the three repair people turn towards him and away from Jungkook, "it's just formalities."
"I'm Yoongi, by the way, and this one's Jungkook--he's not half as old as he makes himself look."
Jungkook has the decency to shrug his shoulders, cheeks warming as the floor jerks and the cubical shoots back down the passageway, the air kicking up round them to clear it of all possible Moondust, sucking it out before it can get into the base.
"We've been assigned to help you guys," Jungkook says, all too aware of how strange his voice sounds, even to himself, a bit scratchy from disuse, a bit high pitched from nervousness, and he coughs to try and tune himself back to a semi-normal decibel before continuing, "so... don't be afraid to ask us if you have any questions."
"This isn't a safari trip though," Yoongi adds, and one of the repairs (one with straight teeth and a smile that's almost square it's so wide) laughs, crinkling his nose.
"Aw, and here I was looking forward to spending all day with you guys," he says. His voice is deep enough to startle Jungkook; how does that sound, come out of that body?
Yoongi eyes him with a kind of softened trepidation, "so don't ask too many questions," he finishes, voice trailing off.
"Taehyung," deep-voice says, reaching out a hand to Yoongi, who shakes it with a quirked brow and a light smile and Jungkook can tell he's sold. Yoongi doesn't smile so easy.
"Jimin," red-hair says, turning to Jungkook and Jungkook takes a moment because Jimin's voice is much softer than he had expected it to be. Smooth, almost sweet. Jungkook licks his lips, noting for the first time how entirely dry his mouth tastes as he cracks a smile that feels strange to his face.
Jimin nudges the third repair in the side.
"Namjoon," the third repair says and it takes all of them by surprise because he'd been so perfectly still and silent since entering the hatch. He makes no move to shake anyone's hand, or attempt to initiate further contact, so Jungkook nods, glances at Yoongi, and turns back to Jimin.
"Nice to meet you," Jungkook says, his hand closing over Jimin's, the solidness of touch seeping through the thick material of their gloves, and Jungkook lets their hands linger, Jimin squeezing down over his fingers. Jungkook fights down the urge to snatch his hand back.
Jimin opens his mouth to say something, breath fogging up the pane on his helmet when the airtight door behind him opens and a hushed wave of sound washes over them, the rest of the base all crowded around the entrance hatch, vying for a glimpse. Jungkook gives Jimin a tightlipped grin and turns to motion for them to follow, Yoongi bringing up the rear.
Everyone moves out of the way to let them through.
Jimin bumps into Jungkook as they file out and he makes a sound that's almost like a giggle but Jungkook can't tell--it's been a while since he's heard someone giggling. It trickles down his skin, light but sticky, and pools around the base of his neck, warming him till he can feel the tips of his ears burn. It's nice.
He shows them their temporary quarters, where the dining commons are, the gym (just in case they need them, but probably not because they're going back to Earth in Three Days’ Time), and all the facilities, falling into the ritual of it all, tuning out even himself as he goes through the motions. All the while, the three repairs trail after him, taking things in as they do; Jungkook can feel Jimin's eyes on him, Namjoon's too if he paid more attention, and he almost tugs at the ghost of those giggles still settled around his neck--reaches for them out of need for reassurance.
"And... I think that's it," he says, voice trailing off.
Taehyung grins huge and wide and all too bright. Namjoon nods. Jimin is still watching him.
"What's your favorite place up here?"
"What?" Jungkook turns, eyes settling on Jimin's for the first time since the beginning of the tour.
Jimin quirks his head; the ghost-giggles around Jungkook's neck burn.
"What's your favorite place? Here, I mean, on the base," Jimin adds, as if there's anywhere else to be.
Words solidify on Jungkook's tongue, heavy and smooth, marbles of truth that threaten to roll right out and shatter on the carefully polished floors if he were to open his mouth and let them. Instead, he takes a breath--
"Dining hall--cause food is... a thing."
Namjoon laughs and Yoongi echoes the sound, though a bit more derisively, so Jungkook thinks. He looks at them both and wonders if Yoongi only knew what laughter sounded like because of Namjoon. It wouldn't be the worst thing.
"Uhm, I think I've made a sufficient idiot of myself," Jungkook says, words running together as he ducks his head, cheeks flushing with a heat so intense it makes his head spin, his throat seize, "so, you guys are free to go, if you want. You probably do."
Jimin giggles again, and this time it's for sure, and a second later Jungkook is met by a pair of eyes--Jimin's eyes, specifically, close (too close) to his face, wide and pretty and filled to the brim with laughter and suddenly, Jungkook remembers the sound too. Laughter--he feels it bubbling up at the base of his stomach, welling up into his throat.
"You never answered my question," Jimin trills, all too pleased.
"Yes I did," Jungkook says, as Yoongi says something probably toeing the line of actual deprecation and Taehyung and Namjoon follow him off somewhere, someway. Jungkook casts their backs a glance, then turns back to Jimin, who is still grinning like the foreshadow of laughter pressing up against his lips and Jungkook's stomach bubbles, bubbles, turns.
"No, you didn't--you said what you probably say to everyone. But I wanna know your answer."
"Your favorite place," Jimin presses on, "because from the looks of you, food is not as much of a thing as you're saying it is."
Jungkook bites his lips, something akin to annoyance, or maybe fascination, or maybe addiction, scratching at him from just below the surface. He regards Jimin for one more half-minute before turning on his heels and heading towards the back hatch.
Jimin laughs, falling into step right next to him and in all Jungkook's years of being at Moonbase, he realizes that the hallway is just wide enough for two people to walk side by side.
"This is the border," Jungkook presses his booted toes to the wide white line drawn into the dirt, "the line of demarcation. Everything beyond here is supposed to be the Dark Side of the Moon kinda thing."
"Whoa," Jimin makes a move to step across. Jungkook reaches out to stop him.
"Don't--we're not allowed."
"I'm standing on the Moon, and I'm leaving in like two days," Jimin says, eyes brighter than any of the stars, and even though he doesn't finish this sentence, leaves it hanging in the non-gravity between them, suspended, Jungkook nods.
"You coming?" Jimin asks, a foot poised over the line.
Jungkook's laughter pours out of him in tides as he jumps over the line first, grounding himself in Jimin's smile as he follows.
"You should take one of the Moonrocks back with you," Jungkook says as they walk, side by side, down invisible hallways that lead to somewhere other than here.
"What do you think I am, a tourist?" Jimin scuffs his boots against the ground, eyes downcast, then he bends down and picks up a handful of dust. Moondust.
"Well, yes," Jungkook says, and there it is, that laughter he'd forgotten the taste of. Sweet, and kind of tangy. He thinks of childhood and pop rocks as he watches Jimin let the Moondust trickle out from between his fingers.
Jimin rolls his eyes, "You're not wrong but I'd like to think my paygrade is higher than that."
Jungkook's eyebrows hitch up, a grin hinging on his lips, "Is it?"
Jimin throws the remaining dust at Jungkook. It scatters off his helmet but he still jerks back, eyes wide, something thrumming in his veins, a taste swelling in his mouth like happiness. Rich and thick. He laughs, picks up a handful of Moondust and tosses it at Jimin, who runs off towards the deep side of the Moon. The side that's never quite seen light before and Jungkook watches him for a second before following, shouting something, breath fogging up his helmet, laughing, laughing, laughing.
"We can make angels!" Jimin says, lowering himself to the dusty surface of the moon and spreading his arms and legs, flapping them like a child. Jungkook doesn't think twice before joining him, still laughing like he has the world at his feet and from here, with the Earth spinning slow and far in the endless darkness stretching before them, it feels like it.
"Moondust angels," Jungkook says.
"Stardust angels," Jimin says, turning his head to look at Jungkook, who looks back, breath still coming in pants. There is more life here than there is in that entire Moonbase, he's sure of it now.
"The moon isn't a star," Jungkook says, rather dumbly.
Jimin giggles and they settle around Jungkook's neck, warming him to the tips of his toes, "I know that but everything was once starstuff, right? Matter can't be--"
"--destroyed, only recycled, right," Jungkook finishes, grinning, letting his arms and legs spread in the dust on the surface of the moon. He lets them glide through the roughness, feels the larger pieces of moonrock scratching up against his suit.
"We are not figuratively, but literally made of stardust," Jimin quotes and Jungkook nods.
"Neil DeGrasse Tyson--he was the reason I wanted to become an astronaut, when I was little, y'know."
"I just always really liked the stars."
Jungkook turns his head to look at Jimin. It should be hard to see on the dark side of the moon; it should be hard to make out the lines of Jimin's face because Jungkook doesn't even know him yet, doesn't know his favorite color, his favorite food, or what his parents are like. He doesn't know if Jimin has siblings or what time he likes to go to bed but he does know that when Jimin was little, he fell in love with the stars.
It should be hard to see on the dark side of the moon but it's not.
He can see it, so clearly, etched into Jimin's face, the way his eyes are brighter than any of the stars winking right back at the pair of them, lying there, on the face of the moon that it never gets to show to the world.
"Aren't you guys supposed to be eating like... weird freeze-dried food?" Jimin plops down next to Jungkook with the most spectacular head of bed hair Jungkook has ever seen.
Jungkook laughs, elbow knocking into Jimin's, shoulder bumping, "That was like... 100 years ago. Space cuisine has come a long way since then," and forks another giant bite of bacon into his mouth. The oils slick down the back of his throat and his whole body hums.
"And here I was hoping to jumpstart my diet..."
"If I hear you say diet one more time, I'll steal your spacesuit," Taehyung says, popping out of seemingly nowhere as he slides into the seat across from Jimin and grins at Jungkook. Yoongi and Namjoon walk in together and Taehyung waves them over.
Jimin rolls his eyes, "I was joking. Kinda."
"Well you're not very funny, now are you," Taehyung says over an inhuman mouthful of biscuit and butter.
"Quit bickering like a married couple," Namjoon says, spinning an apple on his finger with a soft frown between his brows. Yoongi reaches over to snatch the apple from him, popping it onto his own finger with a grin.
"But we are married, so it's fine, right honey?" Taehyung winks at Jimin, who makes an exaggerated gagging sound over his French toast.
Jungkook picks at his own food with his head down, shoulders tensing as the bickering continues. It's barely been 24 hours.
"So, repairs and checkups shouldn't take more than half the day," Jimin says, polishing off his tankard of OJ, licking his lips as he scrapes the last of his eggs off his plate, "let's go exploring afterwards."
Everyone else had finished already--Jungkook too, but he's still sitting right next to Jimin, watching him eat.
"Not much to explore--"
"There's a whole side of the moon that no one's really--"
"There's not much to explore," Jungkook says, fixing Jimin with a look. Jimin pauses mid-bite, eyes flickering over Jungkook's face before he swallows. He looks around; no one else seems to be paying attention but he grins anyway.
"Right. Then... what do you wanna do?"
"What makes you think I haven't got better things to do than hang around with you?" Jungkook's lips twist into a smirk and the scoff that leaves Jimin's is more than satisfying.
"First, ouch," Jimin tosses his fork down before turning to face Jungkook again, an even wider smirk spreading across his lips, "second, because you're still here, and you were the first one done with your food."
Jungkook chews on his lips and has the decency to look down at his long-empty plate, a somewhat familiar heat crawling up his neck. He huffs, shoulders rising towards his cheeks in some kind of innate defensive reaction before he can force them back down and fix his eyes on a point over Jimin's shoulder, a frown still tugging at his brows.
"There's the telescope room," Jungkook says, with every attempt to sound disinterested, but Jimin grins too wide for Jungkook not to smile back, if only just a little.
"Telescope room it is. See you soon?" And he could have kept it as a statement, Jungkook thinks, he could have made it a definitive because yes, he'd already agreed, but the lilt in Jimin's voice catches on Jungkook's throat and there's a tentativeness there, a hopeful tint of something that Jungkook doesn't quite know how to define and Jungkook nods.
"See you soon."
Jimin smiles like the sun and Jungkook has to fight the urge to look away because too bright, he thinks.
"Soon," Jungkook mouths over the word as Jimin puts away his tray and leaves the dinning commons, a bounce to his step that Jungkook can only associate with children in faraway lands, from long-ago stories.
Soon never comes soon enough, so Jungkook decides as he rolls around in his bunk, staring up at the off-white ceiling of his room. It's been three hours, and repairs can't need more than three hours, right? Right. The Moonbase is in tip top condition--he makes sure of that; what do people think he does with all his free time?
Then, it occurs to him that he'd never let Jimin know which room is his, that Jimin might be back at the dining commons, waiting for him.
He bolts up, blood rushing to his head from the sudden movement, black squiggles claw at the edges of his vision as he waits for his body to stabilize before hurrying down the huge stretch of hallway, turning down one corner, then the other, breath locked in his chest as he bumps into someone with such force he's knocked back, right onto his ass, a string of swears spilling from his mouth as he scowls and glares up at the body and--
"Sorry, sorry! Oh--"
"I was trying to figure out where you might be--thought you might have been at the dining--are you okay? Sorry... Yoongi-hyung said you'd be in your room so I was just heading--"
"It's this way," Jungkook says, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.
Jimin laughs, a nervous, tittering thing that sounds nothing like how his laugh had sounded on the dark side of the moon, "Yeah, Yoongi-hyung... told me."
"Right," Jungkook says, pressing his palms to his thighs; they're strange and sweaty and he doesn't remember the last time he'd sweat outside of the workout room. The Moonbase is kept dry and well ventilated.
His skin is sticky and warm and as Jimin grins and nods his head, echoing right right back at him, Jungkook thinks he doesn't really mind the warm, the sticky. Not so long as he can keep looking at Jimin's smile.
Jimin quirks his eyebrows, swinging his arms, rocking on the balls of his feet as if waiting for Jungkook to do something.
Jungkook struggles to find words because the way Jimin's lips tilt up just the slightest around the edges has his head spinning like it does when his suit runs low on oxygen but that can't be right, the base is well stocked on oxygen, the generator makes sure of that and--
"The... telescope room?" Jimin prompts, that same, tilted smile still hinged over his lips and Jungkook blushes like a right mess, ducking his head and turning on his heels.
"Yeah... right. That. That's this way too."
He hears Jimin giggle in that terrible, beautiful, necklace-of-giggles kind of way and they're warm as ever as Jungkook feels them clinging to his skin; he feels Jimin catching up to him, falling into step next to him and once more, Jungkook gives silent appreciation to the hallways--they were made for two people to walk side by side.
The telescope room is just one huge dome of a room with a gargantuan telescope situated at the middle. It rests on a turntable base and the eyepiece is adjustable for maximum comfort and stability when stargazing. All of this, Jungkook tells Jimin in a muted voice, hushed whispers as he presses his sticky, warm palm to the cool wall of the room and searches for a small switch.
"But... if you don't want to sit in that weirdly shaped chair and be super uncomfortable, the telescope also comes with a projecting mechanism that--" his fingers make contact with the small switch and he flicks it.
The whole room slowly lights up with tiny specks and he hears a satisfactory kind of gasp from Jimin, whose elbow brushes Jungkook's. The contact makes him shiver, makes his skin prickle up with goosebumps, or stars. Or both.
"--projects the stars onto the ceiling," Jungkook finishes, a triumphant smile on his face as he turns to look at Jimin and catches the look on Jimin's face as he takes a step forward, towards the center of the room, and then another, as if he were being pulled by some inexplicable force--as if he didn't have a choice, as if he were in love.
And all of a sudden, Jungkook's stomach hollows out, his heart seizes and this doesn't feel like winning (or any kind of triumph for that matter), in fact it feels a lot like losing (his mind, his heart, his something. His everything, maybe).
"Sometimes I like to come here and just lay down on the ground," Jungkook says, walking by Jimin on light feet, dropping to the ground and patting the space next to him. Jimin sits, and then lowers himself onto his back, stretching out with the most ridiculous smile. Jungkook watches, fights the urge to lean down and figure out just how that smile might taste. Less for romantic purposes (because really, he doesn't know anything about romance sans what Yoongi had deadpanned to him three years prior about his younger siblings then-current addiction to "shitty romance novels" so he'd put it), more because he feels his own lips tingle with the curiosity of just one little taste.
After a brief silence, Jimin shifts.
"I think I might cry."
Jungkook laughs, turning his head to look at Jimin. There's something written along the lines of his face, and there he goes again, lighting up places that used to be dark--first the dark side of the moon, now the telescope room, bursting to the brim with stars.
"Don't--I can't have people going around saying that I make my visitors cry." Jungkook reaches forward a hand to skim along Jimin's cheeks, immediately retracting it when he realizes what he's doing, when feels the heat of Jimin's cheek under his skin.
"I'll try not to but it's hard," Jimin says, sniffling and Jungkook can see the stars caught in his eyelashes, along the rim of his eyes as they water. For a second, he wonders how beautiful it just might be to drown in those stars instead of the ones here, the ones above them, and then beyond that. He wonders if he'll love it as much as he hated it here, love it as much as he despised being surrounded by these countless stars that knew nothing of his loneliness, love it as much as he wished he could just pluck one of them out of the sky, out of their fairytale world of falling from the sky and granting wishes along the way, and swallow it whole just to feel the burn.
"Sometimes, when I'm feeling really lonely, I come here, and I stare at the stars, and I think to myself that even if everyone else in the world leaves me, at least I'll still have these," Jungkook says, and the words come rushing out, one after the other, stringing and stumbling, but then they're out and he feels so light he could float away.
"I hate you--you're gonna make me cry."
Jungkook laughs the shadow of a laugh, "Sorry about it."
"You caught me."
Jimin inches closer, close enough that their hands are touching and then he asks, "If I promise not to make you cry, can you promise me the same thing?"
Jungkook gives Jimin a sidelong glance--he wants to say yes he wants to say of course he wants to say for you, anything--before shrugging with a "Sure. But you gotta promise first."
"Okay, I promise," Jimin says, voice quivering with his sniffles, but strong enough to stick as he nudges Jungkook to say it as well.
"Then I promise too," Jungkook says, hooking their pinkies on the ground, and it's then that he realizes that Jimin's palms are sweaty too.
Warm, and sticky, and something close to perfect.
They spend the rest of the night holding hands beneath an entire sea of shifting stars.
Breakfast is laughter dunked in OJ, half-formed truths crumbling at the corners of Jungkook's mouth as Jimin smiles and the sun comes up and Jungkook thinks that he could really get used to sunrise.
"Damn, I didn't know you could make that sound," Yoongi says as he slides into the seat across from Jungkook and snatches the apple from his plate. Jungkook doesn't even try to get it back, instead he just grins, all cheek and teeth and Jimin giggles at the sight and suddenly, it's all worth it. Namjoon sits down next to Yoongi and Taehyung is nowhere to be seen.
"He's on early morning repairs," Namjoon answers before Jimin can get his question out, and that seems to have settled matter.
"Are you all packed?" Yoongi asks over a mouthful of toast and jam and Jungkook's stomach lurches. Beside him, Jimin shrugs, nose crinkling the way it does when he's not entirely happy about something, like the way Jungkook takes so long to speak his mind, or the way the stars had to be put away last night.
"Kinda," Jimin says, picking at his plate. There's still an entire egg and a good chunk of sausage.
"We're leaving tomorrow," Namjoon says, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world and it is--at least it should be.
Jungkook forces himself to swallow the bacon caught in his throat and chugs down his tall class of soymilk. He feels Jimin's eyes on him and it takes every single fiber of his being not to dash out of the room. He's good at that, he is, running away from his problems.
"Why'd you decide to come up here?" Jimin asks, hand held up towards the great domed ceiling, the stars splattered across it winking, winking, winking.
Jungkook takes a breath, shifting so that their linked pinkies are pressed.
"I ran away from home," he says.
Jimin turns his head. "You ran away from home... to the Moon?"
Jungkook nods, "Yep... pretty drastic huh."
"Must have been some home."
"I thought I'd be happier... y'know, away from the world and all it's problems."
"And are you?"
"I don't... really... know."
"What do you mean, you don't really know?" Jimin sounds curious, slightly exasperated but curious nonetheless.
"It's... been a really long time since I've really felt anything... so, I don't really know if I'm all that happy or not," Jungkook admits, cheeks warming as he feels Jimin's pinky hook tighter around his.
"Oh... well, that's easy then--" and then Jimin shifts, hand leaving Jungkook's for a heart stopping second, but the next second he's pulling Jungkook towards him and the sky above them spins for a moment till it settles and Jungkook realizes that Jimin is hugging him, holding him around the shoulders with Jungkook's ear pressed to his chest.
Jimin's heartbeat is steady and strong.
And for a while, Jimin just holds him, just like that, and the pair of them just breathe, just like that, and Jungkook just listens to Jimin's heart whispering in his ear, thumping against his cheek. Just like that.
"How about now?" Jimin asks, his fingers making soft circles against Jungkook's arms.
"Do I know if I feel happy about running away--"
"No, no--" Jimin giggles and his chest moves with the sound and Jungkook's heart thuds up against his voice box, "do you remember what it feels like to be happy?"
Jungkook nods, without thinking, because he doesn't need to think to know the answer right now, right now. He nods and sighs and smiles and draws circles into Jimin's thigh, over the material of his pants and the stars above them wink like they do every night, but now, Jungkook thinks that they have a proper secret to keep and that they better not tell the dark side of the moon.
"Yeah, we are," Jimin says, eyes flickering from Jungkook to Namjoon and back and Yoongi scoffs.
"Oh please, don't tell me you've fallen for each other or something--do you have any idea how cliché that is?"
Jimin giggles and rolls his eyes. Jungkook forces his brows into a frown but when he meets Yoongi's eyes, he can tell that Yoongi knows.
He's going to get an earful about this later for sure.
"I'm gonna go see if Tae needs any help," Jimin says as he clears off his plate, wiping his mouth, his leg brushing against Jungkook's and Jungkook tries his hardest not to flinch. Yoongi watches with a quirked brow and nods as Jimin excuses himself with a quick wave and a grin.
Namjoon is smiling too wide into his bowl of untouched cereal.
"That's rich, coming from you, Yoongi," he says, and Jungkook snaps up just in time to see Yoongi blushing up a solar storm.
Namjoon looks pleased; Yoongi looks mortified.
"I will literally sabotage your suit," Yoongi says, shoving half an entire toast into his mouth, almost choking, then chugging most of Namjoon's apple juice to wash it down. Namjoon leans back and shrugs.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Jungkook grins, and by now his lips are used to the feeling, "what's this all about?"
Namjoon turns to him and winks, "Ask Yoongi. There's a reason that Taehyung didn't have time to grab breakfast this morning."
A dull thump rocks the table and Namjoon winces. Yoongi has his head ducked and is hounding down his food with the intensity of an Olympic athlete on game day and Jungkook can't help laughing, can't help the sound, now so familiar to him, bubbling up and out of his body like it was meant to be heard by the world.
Yoongi looks at him as if it's the first time he's ever seen Jungkook before.
Jungkook looks back as if it's his first time realizing that he could be seen.
Then Yoongi sighs, like he does when Jungkook knows he understands, and he'll still get an earful later but it'll be less of an earful than before and for that, Jungkook is thankful.
"Let's finish up and see if they need any help, hm?" Yoongi asks, sliding the empty cup of apple juice back to Namjoon, who looks caught halfway between indignant and amused.
"Does that mean I can go--"
"Yes," Yoongi says, turning to Namjoon, who is grinning like he knows something that none of them ever will and he probably does, "that means you can go wander but... just try not to jump too high. This one almost fell out of the gravity field and out into space and we had to pull him back from the brink of death."
"Sounds like an adventure," Namjoon says.
"That I don't want to have to go through again, so don't," Yoongi says, stacking their plates like the mother hen he pretends he isn't, and tossing them into the trash.
"Aye, aye, Captain," Namjoon grins with a hand to his forehead; Yoongi makes sure to flip him off on their way out, Jungkook in tow, Namjoon watching them go, grinning as if he knows all the secrets the stars have to tell and Jungkook wouldn't be surprised if he did. Stars were never great shakes at keeping secrets.
They find Taehyung and Jimin right where they're supposed to be, heads bent over the holographic blueprint of something, voices low, pointing here and there and then pausing, and then doing it all over again. Jungkook watches them with Yoongi two steps ahead of him and it isn't till Yoongi clears his throat that they both look up.
Jimin's eyes glide by Yoongi to settle on Jungkook and he smiles.
Jungkook smiles too. Hapless. Helpless.
"So how broken is the generator?" Yoongi asks. Taehyung moves over to let him see the hologram; Jungkook doesn't miss the way Taehyung's fingers twitch towards Yoongi or how Yoongi instinctively leans towards Taehyung as he speaks.
"Not as broken as we thought--everything should be on schedule if we get started right now. It'll be a full-day job, but we should be able to get it done... in time." Taehyung's eyes never leave Yoongi and he sounds nothing like the bubbly, teasing boy that had landed three days prior.
This is what the Moon does, Jungkook thinks, watching them, watching them watch each other.
It changes you--
Jimin's thumb skims by his wrist and Jungkook turns to look at him. He's still smiling.
"Just... do what you need," Yoongi says, voice coming out in a sigh and it settles around the room like a thick blanket of dust. It chokes Jungkook, leaves him gasping. Yoongi jerks his head.
"C'mon, we've bugged them for long enough."
Jungkook nods, making to leave. Jimin's finger hooks around his wrist and Jungkook looks back, feeling Jimin's thumb press into his pulse.
"I'll see you later?" he asks.
Jungkook nods. "See you."
Yoongi walks next to him, shoulder to shoulder, as they leave. The hallways fit them perfectly.
"I'm going to go take a nap," Yoongi says, and Jungkook nods. He watches Yoongi close his door behind him and the hallway stretches out towards infinity on either side of him.
There's a tension wound so tight in his chest, Jungkook has to swallow down the urge not to scream, or cry, or punch the wall till his hand gives out. He hasn't felt like this since before he ran away from home. Instead, he just turns down the hallway and makes for the telescope room.
When he gets there, there's already someone else there--Namjoon.
"Pretty cool place," he says, looking up from the lens as Jungkook walks in. The room is dark, the stars shut off, only visible through the great big tube in the middle of the room Namjoon is sitting in front of.
"Jimin told me about this place," Namjoon goes on, spinning slow in his chair, propelling him by his feet, "you should have heard the way he talked about it, like it was the portal to Neverland or something."
"Neverland? Y'know--where kids don't grow old and life is hope and trust and pixie-dust?"
Jungkook shakes his head and Namjoon chuckles. "Damn, when did they stop reading the kids bedtime stories."
"Neither of my parents loved me enough to, I guess," Jungkook says, words blunt enough to bruise. Namjoon winces accordingly.
"Ouch--sorry about that."
"Nothing to be sorry about," Jungkook says, letting the door click shut behind him, "just the truth."
"Harsh truth," Namjoon says.
Jungkook grins, "Aren't they all?"
"How incredibly self-aware." Namjoon spins himself once, twice, three times, and Jungkook watches from the edge of the room. When finally, Namjoon is facing him again, he opens his hands.
"Oh, sorry--did you want a go?"
Jungkook shakes his head, "Plenty of time for that after you guys leave."
"That's true," Namjoon says, shrugging, eyes tracing Jungkook as he sets off around the perimeter of the room, walking with one foot directly in front of the other as if he were walking on an invisible tightrope.
"So, what're you going to do after we leave?" Namjoon's voice catches Jungkook off guard and he stumbles.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you and Jimin."
"What about me and Jimin?"
Namjoon scoffs, "I wasn't born yesterday," and he raises a hand before Jungkook can open his mouth for a retort, "it doesn't take a genius to figure out that you like him and he likes you. He gets all.... starry-eyed when he mentions you, really thinks you're something."
"I like a lot of people." Jungkook resumes his tightrope walk, head bent, brows furrowed in concentration. Or something else.
"Yeah, and Yoongi's going to the next Miss America," Namjoon says, snorting. Jungkook laughs at that, the smile that stays after the laughter fades hurts his face, so he lets it go. He lets it go and turns to face Namjoon again.
"I don't know what I'm--what we're going to do."
"Suppose you can't really tell till you get there, huh," Namjoon muses, digging his heel into the ground to get the chair moving again. Jungkook watches him spin like some strange figure in a music box; he can almost hear the music, the faint click-click-click of the wind-up mechanism.
"I thought you were supposed to give me some magical, brilliant answer after asking such a rhetorical question."
"This isn't a soap, or a movie," Namjoon says, "or some kind of novel--no one has all the answers. No one even has any of the answers."
Jungkook scoffs. "Wow, you must be a real ball at parties."
Namjoon smiles, "Oh yeah, everyone wants a piece of this existentialism."
"We could videochat, and stuff," Jungkook says.
Namjoon nods, "You could."
"You don't sound convinced."
"I don't believe in things I can't see or touch and all that."
Jungkook's eyebrows hike up, "Then why are you asking me all this?"
Namjoon lifts himself up off the chair and makes for the door.
"Because it's something I can see; I don't need to touch it to know it's there."
He's almost out the door when Jungkook calls him back. He turns.
Jungkook's cheeks are pink. "Do--do you--do you remember what it feels like to be in love?"
Namjoon smiles his cryptic, ass-eating smile and nods, "Sure, do you?"
Jungkook almost stomps his feet in exaggeration, "If I did, would I be asking you?"
"If you'd forgotten, you wouldn't have remembered to ask."
And then he's really gone and Jeon Jungkook decides that he is thankful Yoongi isn't anything like Namjoon but at the same time, so damn similar.
It's nearly midnight when Jimin comes in, door swinging open to a solid chunk of liquid light. Jungkook rouses from his nap to peer at the shape by the door. It's only been three days but he knows Jimin's silhouette by heart.
"Wanna go for a walk?" Jimin asks, rolling on the balls of his feet, looking as tired as he is nervous, as haggard as he is excited, with his hair sticking up in random directions, his eyes a little glazed over with fatigue.
Jungkook picks himself up off the floor of the telescope room to join Jimin by the door. It occurs to him then that Jimin is small--at least compared to him--smaller than him by a couple of sizes, though he's never quite felt that way before.
"Where to?" Jungkook asks. Jimin chances him a glance, their shoulders brushing.
"Dark side of the moon," he answers, as if it's their spot, and it's only been three days so they shouldn't have a spot. On the other hand, Jungkook reasons as he nods, smiles, reaches out to link their pinkies so their arms swing between their bodies, it's only been three day so everywhere could be their spot.
Everything is theirs.
That's the beauty of brevity--the eternalness of it all.
They stand at the edge of the line that marks the end of light, the beginning of dark, they teeter, pinkies still connected. They've barely said a handful of words to each other and Jungkook feels the world welling up in his throat and he's sure that if he were to kiss Jimin right now, he'd taste the exact same--the salt of an ocean's worth of words that neither of them would ever have enough time to say.
"C'mon," Jimin says, and leads Jungkook over the edge. Jungkook lets himself be pulled over, the Moondust kicking up behind his heels as he trails behind Jimin. Jimin leads him like he's the one who's been living here for almost three years, and Jungkook is the one on a three-day repairs mission.
Jimin leads Jungkook so far Jungkook stops keeping count of how many steps they've taken (usually, he keeps count; steps are rare on the dark side of the moon) and instead tries to not notice the way his steps and Jimin's steps, however mismatched they seem to be in the beginning, always end up perfectly in sync.
"Look--you can see the world from here," Jimin says, pointing.
And sure enough, there it is, the Earth, in all it's globular, blue-white glory. So far yet so close Jungkook's head spins even though he's been acclimated to Earth induced vertigo since his third week here.
"You're going back there tomorrow morning," Jungkook says.
"Today morning, actually," Jimin says, cheeks lifting as he grins, sheepish when their hands swing back and forth.
"Today morning," Jungkook amends, feeling the weight settle between them, hinged on their linked fingers, pendulous and precarious. If they stopped now, everything would fall and shatter; or maybe it would just fall and keep on falling like Yoongi had always warned him it would if he jumped too high.
At least Yoongi has to eat his words.
"How do you want to spend your last night on the Moon?" Jungkook asks, giving Jimin a small tug as he slowly drops to the ground, the landscape beneath them just as eerie and still as it was the last time they were here, their footprints still fresh as if they'd never left. In a sense, they hadn't. In a sense, they never will.
"With you," Jimin says, simply, perhaps, but it's the lightness in his voice, the echo of his helmet, the forced space and negative space between then, the Space around them, stretching both outwards and inwards all at once, in every single direction, that hits Jungkook in the chest like a well-aimed punch, cushioned only by his lungs and heart and ribs, things not meant to withstand direct hits and yet they all do anyway.
"Okay," is the only thing Jungkook manages to say for the rest of their night there, sitting on the dark side of the moon, watching the world turn, an arm's breath away.
They walk back to Jungkook's room together, pinkies linked, at least till Jimin shifts and breaks contact between their hands only to lace their fingers properly, the mesh and fit of their palms a little awkward because they're still technically strangers, but Jungkook squeezes Jimin's hand and they keep on walking, elbows brushing, shoulders pressing, their steps a perfect staccato skip, not perfectly in sync, but matched in a way that sounds like hidden music seeping into their toes as they keep on walking down the hallways made for exactly two people.
At Jungkook's door, they pause. They turn to each other.
Jimin smiles, a sleepy little smile, and Jungkook once again has to fight the urge to lean down for a taste.
He chews on his own lips instead.
"You'll be there tomorrow morning right?" Jimin asks.
"Today morning," Jungkook corrects.
"Today morning," Jimin echoes, his shoulders hunching as he smiles wider, his teeth on display, the tiny crook in his front tooth snagging Jungkook's thoughts, catching it in an infinite loop--just one taste, just one taste.
Jimin giggles, his signature soft, skin-pooling giggle and Jungkook's thoughts uncatch, speed forward to now.
"You look like you want to kiss me," Jimin says.
Jungkook forgets to breathe and doesn't remember answering in any kind of way but he must have said something along the lines of yes or I do because the next second Jimin is taking another step forward, leaning up onto his tip toes, words fanning over Jungkook's lips.
"No one's stopping you."
Jungkook blinks down at Jimin for what must have been a whole century, it feels like that anyway, before letting the make shift gravity pull him into Jimin, their lips meeting somewhere in the vast spaces between them.
He should have known one taste wouldn't be enough, but then again it isn't his fault Jimin tastes like bedtime stories parents tell their kids about the Moon, how it keeps the night sky bright to stave off the monsters that lurk in all the hidden corners, the unseen places. He tastes something like remembering what it is to be happy because if Jungkook could only pick one emotion to connect to this moment for the rest of his life it would be happiness, remembered or otherwise.
For a moment, their lips brush, skimming dry skin against skin, for a moment, their breaths freeze and then melt, liquefy on their tongues as they adjust to each other. For a moment, Jungkook breathes in and Jimin breathes out and they trade breaths like trading secrets, breaths like lives, like they could keep on doing this for the rest of their lives, and then some because even when all the air in the universe has gone, they'd still be able to live off shared breaths in each other's lungs.
Jungkook feels Jimin lean into the kiss, so he leans back, and their lips fit the way any two pairs of lips might fit at first--tentative, hesitant, but eager, trembling because neither of them know what to expect from the other, and yet they know that this is what they want. The only thing they want, right now--
Jimin licks at Jungkook's lips and Jungkook's fingers find themselves cupping around Jimin's face, holding him precious, holding him dear, holding him as if he were cupping a handful of fallen stars.
Jungkook opens his mouth and he's sure Jimin is going to taste the ocean he's not yet said but wants to.
Jimin kisses him till he doesn't remember what it is to breathe without Jimin's lungs in his own. Jungkook kisses back till he forgets that he is not made of all the bits of himself he's always wants to give.
When Jimin finally pulls back, it leaves Jungkook gasping.
Jimin takes a step back, a little shy despite all that's happened, and his bangs flick over his eyes.
"Gnight," he says in a voice soft enough to be a whisper.
Jungkook wants to say stop he wants to say no he wants to say just one more taste.
But all he says is, "Gnight, sleep well."
It's oddly formal and he watches as Jimin makes his way back down the hallway towards where his guest bunk is with Taehyung and Namjoon.
The narrow hallway leading up to the elevator is crowded, everyone come to see the three repairs go off as they are wont to do--still though, it's almost like watching the sunset, watching the life bleed out of the sky knowing that the night will be dark, and cold, and lonely. Feeling the warmth kiss your skin one last time.
It's hard, remembering what it is to live. But if only for a while, they've managed to remember on borrowed memories.
"We'll keep in touch?" Jungkook asks, almost rocking on the balls of his feet.
Jimin smiles and reaches out to rest his palm on Jungkook's twisting fingers. Keep in touch.
"Of course," he says, as if it's given and granted. As if it weren't something worth making Jungkook's heart swell up inside his throat till he can't breathe, his tongue feel thick and swollen as he fights to make it move like it usually does, taste the words he wants to say, make sure they are nothing less than sweet before they leave his lips.
"Good," Jungkook says, and nods, somewhat dumbly, as he watches Jimin turn away, the outer passage opening, leading into the ship that would take Jimin away from him forever.
Not forever, he tries to remind himself, no such thing as forever.
He watches Jimin walk away, the ship lift off, the Earth spin a hundred thousand miles away, but close enough to taste. Jeon Jungkook watches the world turn, arms curling around his knees, pulled into his chest, sitting on the dark side of the moon. He spends too much time moping, not enough time eating, and Yoongi has to pull him into the dining hall for dinner.
That night, he stares up at the ceiling of his room, the beige and gray of the walls cold under the LED lights. His computer beeps and he turns. The screensaver is an old image of the galaxy as the old Hubble had pictured it--wide and expansive and endless. Full of secrets and mysteries.
Jungkook peels himself off his bed, the Velcro worn from use, to click open his desktop, the thing dusty from disuse. He used to bury himself in computer games, used to spend all his time online in the hopes of not losing touch with his old friends on Earth, used to spin his nights away on forums and chats and online groups where people bemoaned their isolation and loneliness on Earth, arms breath away from an entire world of people. But that was years ago, or it felt like years ago and Jungkook had long since abandoned online excursions for nights spent lying on his back, piecing out fragments of thoughts he used to be able to chase into coherent memories, strings of words he might be able to say out loud if he thought about it hard enough.
He clicks on the alert and Jimin's grinning face appears on the screen.
"It's been like... half a day, but I dunno... I missed you. That's weird, isn't it? Sorry... we're en route back to Earth," he glances around the room he's in, some kind of control room or cockpit but not the proper one, too small, before looking back at the camera, "It's gonna be lonely without you to tell me about the stars and.... there's not really like a 'dark side of earth' you can sit on. No moondust angels," Jimin giggles to himself and Jungkook has to remind himself to breathe, "I'm just being sappy, but uhm... I miss you. That's it." He smiles then, and Jungkook smiles too, despite himself.
"Message me back soon, okay? I'm shit at waiting."
And then he waves and the screen is still again.
Jungkook is moving in less than three seconds, turning on his camera, mussing up his hair and smoothing it down, frowning at the image of himself on screen because he looks washed out and sleep deprived, but he can't deny either counts so he settles and clicks reply before staring up into the camera, grinning lopsided and awkward.
"Uhm--hey. Sorry I'm not good at this stuff but I saw your message and uhm--" he clear his throat, eyes darting about towards nothing at all before settling back on the camera and his gaze softens, voice lowers, "Miss you too... the hallways are too big without you here and... it's weird sitting by myself outside... but I've only got like half a year before I go back to Earth for good, and that's not all that long, right? So..." and it only hits Jungkook then how the request sitting solid and heavy on his tongue will sound once he lets it out; he lets it out anyway, "wait for me, okay? I'll be back soon."
He waves, hand carding through his hair on habit, "Call me when you get back. I like calling."
He hits send before he can talk himself out of it and the sheer awkwardness of it all hits him hard enough to bowl him over. It occurs to him that he's never done this before, that in all his life, this is the first time he's ever, ever tried to share himself like he's sharing himself now, with a person rather than the universe he'd always tried so hard to pull into his chest.
He spends the rest of the night in the telescope room, counting stars till he falls asleep.
"You're literally going to have the worst back problems if you keep doing this," Yoongi hovers above him, scowling.
"Sleeping on hard material is good for you."
"Yeah, but not on the ground."
"Since when did you know so much about sleep health?"
"Since you started camping in the telescope room." Yoongi offers a hand; Jungkook takes it and lets himself be pulled up. He bites down the wince as his muscles ache in protest.
"It's only been a few days."
"Just every day since repairs left. Mhm."
Jungkook ducks his head and heads for the door. "I'm fine."
"My ass," Yoongi echoes.
Jungkook swallows his retort about Yoongi's workroom habits since Taehyung left and decides that it's not worth Yoongi's sulking to bring it back up again.
"My mom wants to meet you," Jimin laughs, adjusting the camera as he settles into his computer seat, Jungkook settling into his, stretching his arms above his head. It's been a good couple of hours since they started talking.
"I'd love to meet her too," Jungkook says, grinning, all cheek and no shame.
Jimin rolls his eyes, "How about we save that for when you get back?"
Jungkook shrugs, "Hey, live every moment like your last right? What if I don't--"
"Have you been talking to Namjoon?" Jimin's voices dries up immediately, eyes flattening as he pins Jungkook with a look.
"Only like... a little."
"Kay, bye," Jimin waves in exaggerated fashion and Jungkook laughs, yawning as he checks the time. It's morning. For the both of them.
"Wait--don't go yet..." Jungkook stops himself from lurching forward, but the yearning in his voice is hard to miss.
Jimin blushes, the color obvious even through the screen, "What... what do you want?"
Jungkook is tempted for a moment to grin and say you like Jimin does every single time but he just grins and Jimin understands.
"Miss you more."
"Miss you most."
"I don't lie to you."
"I couldn't... even if I wanted to."
Jimin has his nose buried in a book and Jungkook watches with his chin propped on the heel of his hand, head quirked slightly to one side. Jimin flips the page and smiles, glancing up at the screen before flipping the page around to show Jungkook.
"Isn't that cool? They finally have the formula figured out for the exponential expansion of the universe--and at this rate it'll only be a couple hundred more years before we can't see any stars at all."
The smile that had somehow made it's way onto Jungkook's face as Jimin spoke freezes, and leaves. Jimin blinks, his own words hanging thick around them as he realizes what he's saying. Jungkook laughs and the moment melts, dripping down their arms to pool around their toes.
"It is kinda cool. Shitty, but kinda."
Jimin nods, eyes flickering back down to the page. Jungkook almost reaches out to touch the screen.
"Do you think people will believe us?" Jungkook asks, two page-flips later.
Jimin looks up, head lilting with an unasked question.
Jungkook clarifies, "About the stars--I mean, cause we see them now right, and we're taking all these photographs and stuff, but do you think they'll believe us? When they won't be able to see anything? Because... well I guess we all believe in dinosaurs right but they're still kind of... I dunno, surreal, right?"
Jimin grins, "You obviously haven't seen Jurassic Park enough times then."
Jungkook crinkles his nose. "You know what I mean."
Jimin nods, letting his book fall shut, "Yeah, yeah... I dunno... I hope they will. I can't imagine what it'd be like to look up and not see anything... sounds really lonely to me."
Jungkook hums in agreement, a soft sigh at the edge of his lips.
Jimin misses a video-date.
Jungkook gets a message--
Jimin breathless in front of the screen, looking both imploring and apologetic, "Sorry I missed out date Kookie--something came up and I was super busy. But I'll be on tonight for sure. For sure, for sure," he repeats at the end as if it'll make it somehow more true.
"But I'm really happy--and I'll tell you more about it later, but right now I gotta go--talk to you soon!"
That night, Jungkook doesn't ask and Jimin doesn't volunteer any information. The silences stretch thin, till Jungkook says he has to go grab dinner, even though they both know it's far too late for the kitchens to be open. Jimin nods, almost absent as he glances off the screen towards something Jungkook can't see.
Jungkook suits up, movements mechanical and well-practiced, and makes his way to the dark side of the moon. He finds the angels he and Jimin made, still there, fresh as if they'd just made them yesterday, though a bit more pot marked by small asteroids than before. He lays down in the one that Jimin made and stares up (or down, or whatever) at the blue orb just out of reach.
And he's never felt so damn far away from home.
"What movie do you want to see once I get back?" Jungkook asks, feet propped up on the table, watching Jimin hound down his food.
"Hm... good question. Something old--I like old movies."
"Like last century old or like black-and-white old?"
"Both--but I dunno if I can handle black and white stuff anymore. I know they're classics but anything that's not 3D just doesn't feel real to me."
Jungkook laughs. "How did people live back then?"
Jimin smiles at him with a grain of rice on his cheek, "I know right? Insane."
Jungkook packs all his bags. Jungkook sweeps the entire base once, twice, three times for things he might have left hanging around. Jungkook spends the night in Yoongi's room, helping him back. Neither of them sleep that night.
"We're gonna have the worst headaches once we get back," Yoongi says, groaning as he settles into bed. Jungkook zips himself into the sleeping bag on the floor and grunts.
"They say it goes away in a couple of weeks though. And there are pain meds for that kinda stuff."
"Speak for yourself."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Jungkook allows himself a grin, knowing that it's too dark for Yoongi to see.
After a moment, Yoongi scoffs, "It's about Jimin isn't it?"
"What if it is? Don't tell me you're not excited to see Taehyung."
Silence answers. Then, Yoongi shifts and Jungkook feels his stomach drop.
"We haven't... talked in a pretty long time."
"Oh," is the only thing Jungkook can offer and it isn't enough, not by a long shot.
"Do you know if you're going to see him though?"
"We talked about it before... dunno if any of it still applies."
Jungkook bites his lip and curls in on himself. Jimin had promised to be there.
Their ship lands on Earth at around 6PM on a Saturday afternoon. The sun hangs low in the sky, the world inked in a saltine kind of orange as it decides whether or not to let the sun set. It's spring, or almost summer by the taste of the air and the first breath of it almost knocks Jungkook off his feet.
It's sweet, and thick, and so full.
He takes one breath, and then another, the sky expanding above him as he looks up, bright as it is, one end already seeped in deep purples, fading into a tonic blue before bleeding out onto the opposite horizon in a blanket of dip-dye reds and oranges. It doesn't look like fire so much as it looks like the entire world's memories bubbling and boiling on a single line, down to a single point of contact between the earth and sky.
A small crowd of people is gathered some distance away--a few of them in suits, those are the ones who are going to replace Jungkook and Yoongi and the few others who are coming home for good.
It reminds Jungkook of the relay tag races they used to play in middle-school.
Each step he takes is another memory reclaimed, rediscovered, re-membered.
He reaches the crowd with a duffle bag on his shoulders, a grin on his lips; he scans the crowd and draws a blank.
Then, he feels someone tap him on the shoulder.
Jungkook turns, and there stands Jimin, all suited up and ready to go.
Jungkook blinks, and blinks, and blinks.
Jimin rocks on the balls of his feet, an awkward smile painted over his lips as if he's been unable to make it go away after practicing for one time too long in the mirror.
"I know--it's not what you expected when I told you I'd be here when you got back... but I decided that this--" he gestures to the suit, "is what I want--those few days up there--they were some of the best of my life and I just--there's still so much to learn and if I were just a tiny bit closer to the stars, I think I might be able to figure them out better, y'know?"
Jungkook watches Jimin's lips move. He frowns as if he doesn't understand but in truth, there's a warmth creeping up the back of his neck that says he knows exactly what Jimin is thinking. It's what everyone thinks before going up there. It's what he thought before he left.
"I'll call you every single day--and it's the shortest term--I picked the shortest one. Two years. That's it, and then I'll be back."
Jungkook nods, looking Jimin up and down, realizing that he's never seen Jimin out of gear. Not quite at least.
Jimin is still rocking, back and forth, back and forth, waiting. Jungkook opens his mouth and the words that come out don't ask his permission.
"Two years is a long time."
Jimin sighs, nodding, eyes falling to a point between the points of their toes.
"I guess... I guess I'm not the best with promises huh..."
Jungkook chuckles. "I'm not crying just yet, don't give yourself so much credit."
"I didn't mean you..." Jimin doesn't lift his head.
Jungkook doesn't try to make him.
"Our stardust angels are still up there," Jungkook says.
Jimin sniffles once, and then looks up--his eyes are bright and watery but he's trying his best to smile.
"Come up and visit sometime. We can make new ones."
Jimin's pocket beeps and he reaches into it for his phone. The video feed comes through with a nondescript female projection reminding him that takeoff is in two hours.
Jimin tucks the phone back into his pocket and gives Jungkook one of those looks. Jungkook nods again, readjusting his bag on his shoulder.
"Message me when you land."
Jimin takes a breath, one of his last real ones for a long, long while, "Promise me something."
Jungkook quirks an eyebrow, "Again with the promises?"
"Just do it," Jimin says with a tiny smile.
"Promise that you'll remember--for me."
Jungkook almost frowns; he almost asks.
"Sure. So long as you promise not to forget."
Jimin presses his lips, "I'm not the best with promises, remember?"
Jungkook laughs at his choice of words and shakes his head, "Not yet, but I will."
"Go," Jungkook says.
Jimin smiles wide and proper before turning and making off as efficiently as he can in a bulky spacesuit.
Jungkook watches him go, backtracking till it's a safe distance, where there's grass that smells like real grass, and sits down to watch the ship. Two hours pass by in the blink of an eye and he watches it take off, lifting a hand to wave it away even though he knows Jimin can't see anything on earth anymore.
He lays down on the lush, green grass and watches the ship get smaller, and smaller, and smaller, feeling very much like a little boy with a dream he doesn't think he could ever, ever reach.
The message comes through--
"Kookie--you were right. The hallways really are a bit too wide for just one person."