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Crash and Learn (Retrograde)

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Jimin doesn’t remember much about Jungkook. He remembers how Jungkook was unpredictable. He remembers vague, still-frame strips apart from what Jungkook looks like. When he ventures too deep into his memories they start to feel sharp and send a stabbing sensation through his brain. He never knew how painful a memory could be until he lost most of his. 

 

Jimin audibly tells the aching in his chest to hush over and over, but it doesn’t help it leave. No amount of pain relievers can bring the levels down, he learned after several rounds of vicodin given to him for his leg. 

Retrograde amnesia wasn’t the only side effect from his coma, that’s what the doctors told him, and it’s the most excruciating part about the accident. The crash, the coma, the night Jimin nearly died. He expected to feel bad about lost time and memories. He did not expect to wake up one morning in a flurry of tears, screaming for a Jungkook he didn’t know. What he did know was that every bad thing about Jungkook is what Jimin loved. Jungkook had seen Jimin’s worst side and Jimin had seen Jungkook’s best, something not many people can say. Except Seokjin, perhaps. He has the worst timing—always showing up right when Jimin needed it the least and getting him in trouble. 

In order to distract himself from the gap in his subconscious, Jimin sips the rest of his smoothie fast enough to give him a brain freeze that ends the dissociated state he has been in for the last hour or so. It has to have been at least that, because Jimin remembers sitting down in the shade of the old tree where he had his first kiss; Jimin doesn’t remember who it was with but she must have been special to still occupy a space in his memories, even if it is just an outline of a memory instead of a full figure. But by now the sun has shined away at his smoothie to a melting point and the shade is behind him on the other side of the tree. It’s time to go home. Once he figures out which direction to go. 

It would be quite easy to pull up directions on his phone and type in his address had he any memory of his address or his phone password or why seeing his lock screen saver causes him a heartfreeze. It’s a picture of a pink motorcycle taken inside the cemetery. Oh, that’s right, 5665 . Kook. 

“Finally…” He’s been trying to remember all day. His phone opens to the last conversation he had with someone under the name “gay bee” and a chocolate chip cookie emoji. 

“Jimin woke up”

“He said your name in his sleep”

“He’s awake now” 

“Staff says you can’t come in yet. I’ll let you know when he’s released. I’ll keep you updated. Hang on for a couple days, k? I’ll let you know if anything happens”

“Thanks. Sorry”

“Don’t come by until I tell you to. I’ve never seen mom this angry. I promise you’ll be the first to know every detail”

“The doctors said Jimin is a lucky guy. No long or short-term effects from the hit, just a couple scars”

Wait . He didn’t send these? Only Jihyun would have been able to get into his phone. And for some reason used it to tell “gay bee” that he hadn’t suffered any injuries. The bruise on his cheek and the scar running up the side of his thigh is proof enough, he thinks as he opens his maps and struggles to stand up to go home. The cane he was given helps, but it can only do so much for him, to help him walk a bit more steady even though with every step he feels he might collapse. 

Leaning on his cane, Jimin walks to the sidewalk and contemplates the way home. He looks left, then right, then left again to see Seokjin rolling up to meet him. 

“Need a ride?” Seokjin asks as he rolls down the passenger window.

Jimin huffs. Of course he can remember everything about that Skittle stealing punk but can’t remember anything about Jungkook, his...manic pixie dream boy, or something. 

“Yeah, actually, can you take me home?”

“No,” Seokjin says. 

“Then, why did you offer?”

“I’m on my way to the airport—can’t tell you why. Cop ‘biz, and all. But I can tell with absolute certainty that you are gonna want to come with me.”

“Oh?”

“Jungkook is there at gate fifteen right now and I can’t let what happened happen. I heard all about it from the chief—will you please get in my car and come with me?”

Jimin doesn’t remember much, and he doesn’t remember Jungkook, but he remembers Kim Seokjin. He has no reason not to trust him. 

Sirens blare and houses pass at two times the speed limit. The last time Jimin was going this fast he was on his way away from the cops, not snacking on a bag of Skittles in the passenger seat of Seokjin’s car. Being angry would get Jimin nowhere, but the fuckery his brother pulled from his phone was enough to put him in a frenzy of emotions.  

The doctors said Jimin is a lucky guy. No long or short-term effects from the hit, just a couple scars.

Not true. Not true at all. His leg, his cheek, and his memory are just a couple of the effects from the coma he was in. The coma that wasn’t Jungkook’s fault. Jimin was the one who didn’t wear a helmet. Jimin was the one who challenged fate and got on the back of the bike with Jungkook. And Jungkook probably hates Jimin now. Did Jihyun hate Jungkook that much that lying was the only way he could think of to fix his problem with him? 

Jimin’s leg throbs, matching the beat of his heart racing as fast as Seokjin’s car. They zip through the downtown area and tear asphalt past Jungkook’s old house. The church where he remembers spending a lot of his free time passes and Jimin wishes he could remember those times. He only has vague memories of being there with someone, with a lover. 

“Breathe, Jimin,” Seokjin says. Jimin lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. 

“Sorry,” he whispers. Seokjin can’t hear him over the sirens. They accelerate faster. Seokjin is serious about this. Seokjin is the only one taking him seriously. “Thank you,” Jimin says, louder this time. Seokjin not only offered to drive him to the airport to see Jungkook, at least to give Jimin closure even if Jungkook hates him now for not remembering, but he flicked on the lights and used his cop privileges to speed through traffic.

Jimin swallows the last of the skittles and clears his throat. “So, this cop ‘biz , can’t you tell me what it is? If you’re going to bring me along with you on a mission you may as well break the rules a bit more and tell me why, right?”

“Yoongi was a good friend of mine,” Seokjin says slowly, careful about the words he chooses. “Yoongi, Jungkook’s dad, was—is an okay guy. A great guy, actually. And he raised a good kid. Jungkook is…he’s okay. He’s an okay kid.”

“I know,” Jimin says. “I mean, I think I know. I don’t know how to feel about him right now.” A Yearning for Jungkook, that’s what he feels for him. It wasn’t Jungkook’s fault Jihyun lied to him. It wasn’t Jimin’s fault for not remembering who Jungkook was when he approached him after church on Sunday. 

“Is that why you’re going there—to take me there? Is Jungkook...” The tropical smoothie Skittles aren’t enough to mask the sour taste in Jimin’s mouth when he says Jungkook’s name outloud. “Will I see Jungkook again if he leaves today?”

Seokjin shakes his head. “I don’t want this to break you any more than it has. Your head could have cracked open. But the pain of losing someone, waking up to remember they were in your life only to realize they’re gone now….” Seokjin regrips the steering wheel. “Anyways, I talked to Yoongi. Their flight leaves in an hour.”

Jimin’s heart sinks. Will they make it in time for Jimin to see Jungkook off?

“We’ll be there in no more than half an hour, so you’ll have thirty minutes to get through security. You don’t have bags, so it should go quickly.”

Well, that’s definitely not a legal excuse to use the lights. 

“Thanks, Officer Kim.”

“Please call me Seokjin. It makes me feel less like a criminal for going against the Chief’s will. I heard what happened. I know it must have been hard for you to see Jungkook and not know what to do, and your mom, she… She wasn’t much help, was she?”

Jimin doesn’t want to think about his mom or the last time he saw Jungkook. He couldn’t place the feeling then and he can’t now, but the urge to be near Jungkook was so overwhelming he forced Jungkook out of his sight and out of his mind. 

“So. Gate fifteen,” Jimin says.

“Yes. Gate fifteen, flight to Hong Kong. That’s where you’ll find him. And Jimin, be honest.” Seokjin pauses. Jimin swallows hard. This isn’t like him. Or maybe it is. Maybe he doesn’t know who he is yet. He knows who he trusts, and Seokjin is one of those people. Officer Kim. A good friend of his mother and of Jungkook’s father, is a person who has Jimin’s best interests in mind. Unlike his family.

“Honest?” Jimin repeats.

“Tell him what happened. He might not understand, but it’s important that he knows you still care about him. This might be goodbye, but it’s not the end.”

Jimin didn’t tell Seokjin about the text Jihyun sent. About how he made Jungkook believe Jimin would fake amnesia to get rid of him. About how his mother hurried the moving process with Jungkook’s parents. Jimin had to find all this out on his own by putting together the pieces of their last conversation and filling in the gaps himself. 

In thirty short minutes, Jimin is stumbling out of Seokjin’s car at the international terminal drop off. Jimin doesn’t remember much. He doesn’t know if Jungkook will want to see him. He only knows what is in his heart and what was on his phone. He can’t trust his brain, telling him to turn back. He can’t trust his family. 

Jimin runs. The last time Jimin was going this fast, he was on the back of a motorcycle. A fuschia Yamaha. Helmets are important. But it wasn’t Jungkook’s fault. And wasn’t Jimin’s fault for not remembering, for not acting on the impulse to jump into Jungkook’s arms when he saw him outside the church, but he was held back by a pain in his leg and a look from his mother. He didn’t know if the urge was to punch or to hug or to kiss Jungkook but he knew that in that moment he wanted to be near him. He only remembered what he meant to him. 

He still doesn’t know the whole story, why they lost everything, why his family refused to help him recover his memories. He has so many questions running through his mind but he doesn’t have time to stop and think about the answers. He breezes through airport security and snaps his head around to find gate fifteen. That’s where he’ll find Jungkook. Then he can ask questions.

He doesn’t know what Jungkook looks like, so he yells for him.

***

“Jungkook!”

“Yeah, Dad?” 

“I just got a text from Seokjin, do you want to hear it?”

That doesn’t sit right. 

“No,” he answers. It isn’t Jimin so he might never know for sure. He knows nothing. He has never been here before; his system is in shock. 

Crumbled. Let down. A mistake but one he can’t say he didn’t see coming. 

Remember to breathe. Remember to feel, Hoseok said. Remember. Remember nothing. He doesn’t have the luxury of not remembering. 

If you run out of words to say, pick up a pencil and write, Yoongi said. He doesn’t have a pencil, but he did bring his phone with him. He misses the pictures he deleted from his phone—the pictures, the memories, all the good times they had, so he pictures the memories instead. Then he shakes his head to get rid of the thoughts. 

Jungkook pulls out a metal seat and sits down, missing the bustle of the airport for the sound of his thoughts racing, yelling at him to not text Jimin . Jungkook doesn’t have the luxury of forgetting Jimin’s number. The part of him that wants to shoot a simple “wth” to Jimin’s mother for the fuckery she admitted to pulling the last time they talked almost overrides the other part, which usually wins. The part of him that knows there is nothing left for him back there. In an a few minutes, it won’t matter. 

“Jungkook!”

So many questions. He stares at the entrance to the plane, then to his phone. Maybe it wasn’t Jimin he heard. He thinks he heard Jimin because he wants more than anything to see him again, one last time before moving away forever. He might never be able to let Jimin go. Maybe someday, but no time soon. It feels like losing a limb, cutting Jimin out of his life. 

But then Jimin shouts his name again and Jungkook drops his luggage. 

What does Jimin want to do with him? He doesn’t remember Jungkook, he must be here for someone else. It can’t be Jimin’s bruised eyes that Jungkook locks onto, hurdling at him until he is inches away from his face, crushing himself into Jungkook’s chest. 

His duffle bag falls from his shoulder and he wraps his arms around Jimin’s waist. 

This isn’t real. Jungkook is afraid to say a word because it might break the facade of Jimin being right here again, in front of him. It has to be the psychedellics he drowned himself in within the last week, fucking with him. 

Jimin doesn’t remember Jungkook. He doesn’t know the cure to his amnesia but he sees stars when Jungkook hugs him back and knows it must be him. He doesn’t have to borrow opinions and emotions from his family anymore. Jungkook is who he wants. 

“What are you doing here?” Jungkook whispers into Jimin’s shoulder. If this is his last chance to hold Jimin, all he wants to know is what Jimin thinks of him. If he knows who Jungkook is, what he did, the stress he caused Jimin and his family, Jimin shouldn’t want him back. 

“I love you. I don’t know you, but I know I love you. I’m so so so sorry.”  There’s nothing Jimin could say or do that will let Jungkook know what he means to him, but for now, a hug might be enough. “Jihyun didn’t mean it, I don’t know why he would tell you I didn’t have anything wrong with me I—I can’t remember things and—”

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says. He rubs his hand along Jimin’s back to calm him down. “I’m the one who should be sorry. Jihyun was only trying to help you, I understand that.”

“He lied to you I don’t remember who you are but I—”

“Shh,” Jungkook coaxes into Jimin’s hands as he holds them up to his face, gently rubbing his thumbs on the backs of Jimin’s hands. “I believe you.” Jimin must be referring to the unread message Jungkook had before he deleted his contact. Jungkook remembers how distraught he felt in that moment, going through his phone and erasing Jimin. It’s been days, but the memory sticks to the front of his mind like a vice and he didn’t know where to go with it until now. 

Not everything has to make sense.

“How—” Jungkook pulls back. “Why are you here?” he asks into Jimin’s eyes. The look makes Jimin’s knees give, or maybe it was his hurt thigh that causes Jungkook to catch him on his way down and walk him to a bench. It’s then that he realizes where he is, how he was going to leave without seeing Jimin again. But now that he’s here he realizes that he couldn’t live another day without Jimin. He’s not going anywhere. 

Hoseok smiles and waves as he boards the plane, followed by Yoongi. The decision to stay or leave is up to Jungkook. He has only a few minutes to decide.

***

Jimin doesn’t remember meeting Jungkook. He doesn’t remember their first kiss or their second or their last. The long term effects from the crash affects him every day, and sometimes he forgets where he is. He forgets the flower shop he works at, right below their apartment in a busy city—much busier than the one he left behind when he and Jungkook decided to get on a different plane and say goodbye to Jungkook’s dads. 

Jimin hasn’t talked to his mother in a year. He hasn’t seen or talked to his brother or his father, despite their pleas for him to come back home. He moved on without a second thought, and then forgot the decision quickly. 

Waking up every day with Jungkook is the best way he could imagine starting the day. Sometimes he forgets, but it’s okay. Sometimes the memories don’t completely tie together, and sometimes the flashbacks he has are too much for him to handle alone. 

Jimin doesn’t remember who he is sometimes, but it’s okay, because Jungkook is there to remind him of what’s important. Jimin feels safe with him, like he belongs, a feeling that escaped him in that hell of a small town. Sometimes he misses Officer Kim Seokjin. He wonders what it was that led Seokjin to such a decision as to bring him to Jungkook. As to speed their way through the city to the airport to Jungkook. 

Jungkook says Jimin should talk to his parents, but he isn’t ready. He’ll need more than a year to figure things out. To remember who he is and be able to wake up every day knowing where he is. Right now he knows he is in the flower shop, the one he co-owns with Jungkook. The one he wanted to start ever since he can remember. Which isn’t much, the way his memory has been working since the accident.

“Hoseok sent us another basket,” Jungkook says on his way in, kicking the door closed behind him. Jimin looks up from the register and smiles when he sees another woven basket full of flowers and chocolates wrapped in plastic being carried by his fiance. 

“Bring it upstairs,” Jimin says. Jungkook leans over the counter to give him a kiss on the cheek. 

“Jungkook, not during business hours,” Jimin whines through a smile. There are no customers in the shop right now, no one buying the flowers that Jimin grows himself. The business is small, but it’s what he loves to do. He loves wearing long sweaters with rolled up sleeves to avoid getting dirt on the ends. He loves when Jungkook surprises him with visits from upstairs where their apartment is and brings him lunch and kisses. 

Jimin doesn’t remember much of the time they spent together in his hometown, but he remembers how much he loves Jungkook and how much Jungkook has done for him. And he knows that Jungkook, with absolute, undeniable, doubtless certainty, loves him back and would never put him in harm's way on purpose. 

Jungkook doesn’t want to settle. He doesn’t consider being with Jimin a form of “settling,” no matter how long they stay in one place. Every day is a new day with Jimin. Every day he has to remind Jimin of simple truths like where he works and how much he loves him. Jungkook doesn’t always follow the rules, but he does when Jimin wants him to. And no matter where they move, what they do, what experiences he forgets, he knows that he loves Jungkook, and that’s enough for him.