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Crash and Learn (Retrograde)

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His name is Jungkook.

He’s tall—taller than most. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Jimin was so afraid of him at first. Maybe it’s why his parents still are and why everyone Jungkook approaches assumes he’s going to take their money on their life. He may come off as threatening, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. And neither would Jimin. He loves the way Jungkook’s dark leather and combat boots reflect beautifully against the shiny platinum of his bike as they zip down silent roads hearing nothing but the wind and a powerful engine.

But Jimin absolutely hates the pink bike. He’s not the only one. It’s the reason people are afraid to look Jungkook in the eye—here, motorcyclists only exist in Hollywood violence and gangs. Which doesn’t make sense at all to Jimin, and the only mystery bigger than how Jungkook managed to acquire a motorcycle in this shade of pink is the fact that people can associate anything of the color fuchsia with violence. So maybe the reason they avoid him is that they are afraid of being sucked in by an unknown force, like his dark irises are a black hole, and the only light able to escape is the glistin of his silver gauges on either ear.

The motorcycle growls beneath them as they accelerate uphill, away from the sirens growing closer with every sharp turn, making Jimin nearly regret recent choices. Jimin feels like he’s losing part of his hearing from the noise, and he guesses Jungkook must have lost most of his from these late night rides when the wind was almost as loud as the engine. It’s the loudest thing he’s heard since an outsider construction company decided to tear down their old town hall for a newer, better, shinier palace-like building. It still looks out of place against the background of their city—a shiny dime among rusty pennies.

As they pass the exact building, down the only major road within miles, Jungkook doesn’t care or slow down even though the noise is enough to wake up an entire block. He ignores it just like he ignores old Reverend Choi when he asks Jungkook politely not to grind his longboard on the chapel rails and he does anyways. Just like he ignores Principal Lee when he has to remind him that not only is pot illegal to smoke in a middle school parking lot, but it’s also unequivocally illegal. But he’s never called the cops on Jungkook before because he knows the Chief wouldn’t have it in her to put the “young heathen ruining the town” behind bars. And that’s because Chief Park’s eldest son is, depending on the amount of eyeliner Jungkook is wearing that day, absolutely, undeniably, doubtlessly in love with Jungkook.

His name is Jimin.

He’s far from the tallest, even though he was the first in his Sunday school class to have a growth spurt. Maybe that’s why he’s still playfully teased for his sweater sleeves reaching past his fingers. They keep his fingers warm on these night-rides, keep away the numbness from the cold whipping through his jacket sleeves when they have to ride faster to keep the distance between themselves and the sirens. His oversized sleeves also make it hard to keep the fabric out of the dirt he spends his days tending to at his part time job at the flower shop. And maybe his work is why he always smells sweeter than roses; it was the reason Jungkook picked him out of the crowd gathered around his bike when he first showed up in their otherwise boring home. He parked it in front of the cemetery to “light up”—a term Jimin had never heard before—behind a large gravestone, and when he came back, there was a swarm gathered around it. But Jimin’s flowery innocence definitely isn’t the only thing that made Jungkook fall absolutely, undeniably, doubtlessly in love with the pastel apron-clad 175-centimeter-tall son of the police chief.

Maybe it happened when Jimin was so quick to step in when Chief Park reprimanded Jungkook’s father for Jungkook’s contemptuous habits. The innocent words, “He just needs someone like me in his life,” rolled off Jimin’s tongue in such a pleasant way that Jungkook nearly dropped the six-pack of beer he had tried to slip off the shelf and into his bag as the store was closing. No one had a sweeter voice and prettier eyes but could also completely shut down the chief of police.

Jimin hates Jungkook, like everyone here, and rightly so. He’s the type they were raised to avoid. But it wasn’t the constant, unfamiliar smell that had everyone curious (before they discovered that’s what pot smells like), and it wasn’t the way Jungkook flirted with anything with two legs, ten fingers, and the power to slap him on the cheek hard enough to bruise, that made him hate Jungkook so much. What really made Jimin hate Jungkook was the first time Jungkook was allowed back into the public pool after being kicked out for “indecent exposure.” Jimin let it slip past him that a nice boy like himself shouldn’t stare at another man’s back muscles for so long from the lifeguard’s chair.

Park Jimin absolutely, undeniably, doubtlessly hates Jeon Jungkook just as much as he loves him.

And this is why he can’t bring himself to care about the sirens growing closer as he clings to Jungkook from the back of his bike, doubling the residential speed limit and almost crashing into the perfectly trimmed bushes in front of Jimin’s house as they zip past, ignoring Jimin’s curfew. They know nothing consequential would happen to them because Jimin would bat his eyes at Officer Jin, and Jungkook would rev his bike and book it when he wasn’t looking. Jimin is sure of this because due to unfortunate events—a rabbit darting in front of the bike that made Jungkook brake hard—the sirens caught up, and it’s happening again. Right now. It’s freezing outside, but the cop car has heated leather seats. Tax money well spent.

“You’re such a good kid, Jimin,” the officer sighs, shutting the passenger door on Jimin’s view of his boyfriend disappearing into the night with no headlights.

He got away again. Jimin would almost be happy for him is he himself wasn’t the one who was reprimanded instead.

Jimin has grown used to this seat in the last five months. He even has a stash of Skittles hidden under it for all the times he’s forced to take a slower ride home, going on six times now, but the stash is gone when he reaches under the seat to claim them. Jimin decides Jungkook owes him at least four to seven more packs, depending on how long he has to sit through his mother lecturing him about the danger Jungkook is putting him in daily. She never refers to Jungkook as her son’s boyfriend, and maybe it’s because she’s too afraid to admit her son is already not only breaking the law but his own personal morals. Or maybe it’s because she, like the rest of this Hollywood-small town, takes Jimin’s “I love you”s and Jungkook’s “Let’s get married”s platonically.  

“I’m only, like, three years younger than you, so I’m not much of a kid anymore, Mr. Kim. I’m twenty-one.” Jimin huffs like the kid he isn’t, refusing to look anywhere but out the window when the officer pulls back onto the road. The spinning red and white lights reflecting off every window are because of Jimin, and it’s a sight he’s grown used to in the last few months, no matter how much he hates it and promises it will never happen again. “I’m old enough to make my own decisions about how late I stay out,” he mumbles more to himself than to Jin, his least favorite officer. Kim Seokjin goes by Jin, just Jin. He makes Jimin share his Skittles or threatens to throw them away when he gets back to the station. Too bad Jin doesn’t know he, a cop, is eating stolen candy.

“This isn’t about curfew, Mr. Park ,” he says, mocking Jimin’s tone. “It’s about breaking the law on multiple occasions and about waking up my dog with that damn engine. Do you know hard it is to get him to stop yapping after you two drive by?”

“I’m sorry,” Jimin says quietly. In all honesty, he is sorry—he really is. Yet time after time, he lets Jungkook take him out at night when he knows children have school the next day and he has to wake up early to volunteer on the weekdays at the puppy daycare. That’s usually where he’ll see Jungkook next, waiting outside the building, assuming he decides not to sneak into Jimin’s room that night and risk setting off the alarms in their backyard—the ones his parents had installed because of Jungkook in the first place.

“If breaking the law was a more regular occurrence, you wouldn’t get away with a ride back to your house and an IOU,” Jin continues. “Speeding isn’t the worst. I mean it when I say you’re a good kid. But your friend needs to work on developing decent habits that he’s not learning at home.”

“You still think it’s because he doesn’t have a mom, don’t you?” Jimin asks. This topic almost always comes up around authority when Jungkook is involved. Jimin was asked to tame Jungkook when they first started making their “platonic” relationship public. He was supposed to be the good example that he never had. Sometimes when people come into his shop to pick up their flower arrangements, they ask him questions about Jungkook that they would usually ask a mother, like “Is he staying in school?” (No, because Jungkook graduated already) or “Did you buy the eyeliner for him?” (No, because he can’t tell them that Jungkook probably steals the makeup from the store where they work.)

“I’ve said that in the past...” Jin doesn’t finish. He knows Jimin already knows his answer. Jin isn’t a bad guy. He’s nice, despite stealing the stolen candy. But he, like the rest of this Whoville knockoff of a town, has a hard time stomaching that there are three men living under one roof, and two of them are called “Dad.”

Jimin doesn’t like the fact that he can relate to Jungkook’s crappy pop-punk music so much, but he really does hate this town.

The rest of the drive is silent save for Jimin’s humming and a static from Jin’s receiver. It’s an unremitting noise that Jimin uses to phase down the feeling of how nervous he really is. It’s not normal for Jimin to be a rule breaker, and everyone in the 5,000 population town would agree that Jimin just needs to go to church and get his priorities as straight as his sexuality. To Jimin, this technically means he’s right where he needs to be, though there are 4,996 residents in this town who see it differently. 4,997 if you count Jin’s yapping devil. He’s the only dog who bites Jimin when he’s at the daycare, and he makes it his furry little job to do so first thing when Jimin walks in. It sort of pisses off his boyfriend.

“No, Jungkook,” Jimin would have to repeat every Monday through Friday on his volunteer shifts, “You can’t maim a creature of God just because he likes to nip where he shouldn’t.”

“Where’s your source?”

“If that were the case, I’d have maimed you a while ago.”

And Jungkook would shut up.  

Jimin knows he can expect that to be similar to their next conversation, again assuming Jungkook doesn’t sneak past the ADT and force Jimin’s window open from the roof. Jimin sighs and silently hopes he won’t do that again tonight, but he knows it will happen anyway. So he’s not the slightest bit surprised when he sees a glint of silver parked in the bushes in front of his porch when the headlights pass over it.

By the time Jin pulls up to his house, Jimin can already see his mother standing next to his father and brother by the window, looking torn and defeated because her eldest, yet again, had broken a law and has to ask Reverend Choi for redemption tomorrow.

Jin gives him the same look. “You know the drill.”

“Yessir,” Jimin says. His head drops in “shame,” but a shifty smile tugs at his lips. He can see that Jungkook is already on the roof, breaking into his bedroom window above the backyard right now. And Jimin knows this talk will be roughly a million times more unbearable with the knowledge that Jungkook is waiting for him.

Jimin skips through the grass in his yard, and Jin follows him silently to the door. He rings the doorbell, even though he knows they have been waiting and watching him since Jin opened the car door for him. His parents must be teeming with disappointment after seeing the poor example Jimin is setting for his teenage brother.

“Thanks, Kim,” Jimin’s mother says upon opening the door. “I owe you again.”

Jin waves her off and smiles. “If he was a real problem I’d have taken him back to the station. Have a good night, Chief.”

His mother nods back as Jin takes his leave. Inside it’s much warmer. Jimin hadn’t realized how cold it really was outside before stepping into his cozy, well lit and living room and kicking off his shoes overtop of the rest of the neatly stacked pairs. Upstairs, Jimin’s window slides open. It’s just barely loud enough to be heard from outside before the door closes behind him. Jimin’s heart skips and tumbles and cartwheels and everything else it’s supposed to do when you know you’re doing about twenty-five things you’re not supposed to be doing.

“Jimin—”

“I know, Mom.”

“Does he , though?”

“It’s not Jungkook’s fault.”

His mother sighs and drops her head to her hand, contemplating life and death and the meaning of her existence or the economy or whatever she’s going to try to lecture Jimin on this time, despite him being a full-time adult with a job, a high school diploma, a plan, and a partner. Though, it’s probably best that subject four doesn’t come up at family dinners. His father excuses himself to bed, and Jihyun follows without a word.

Jihyun hardly talks to Jimin anymore, not since he started spending more time making out with Jungkook than playing video games with his brother, but Jihyun is the only one who knows that and knows Jimin is ready to fight him if he opens his mouth about it. Others have their skepticism but refuse to delve into the matter, only seeing what they want to see, only hearing what they want to hear, and only accepting the sexualities they’re taught to accept.

In other words, everyone knows, but they pretend not to. Maybe it helps them sleep at night. If that’s really the case, though, Them is just a bunch of dickholes who need to broaden their horizons. Then again, it’s probably better for Jimin if he can live each day knowing that nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, under dimmed lights, on top of feather comforters. Jungkook is just a friend to Jimin to the people around him. He’s someone Jimin looks after and sets a good example for. Some call this being two-faced. No, Jimin is not two-faced. He isn’t fake, either. He has one face, and one side is the sunkissed, delightful, angelic boy who volunteers at puppy daycares and teaches Sunday school classes while the other side is, in a more literal sense of the word, just plain kissed—and marked and hugged and bruised and loved through the night.

Jimin takes a deep breath and holds it, waiting for his mother’s guilt trip about how sorry she is for failing him as a parent, for not teaching him sooner, and for staying up late into the next morning (it’s only midnight) to make sure Jimin lived to see tomorrow. But the trip doesn’t come.

“Mom?”

“What is so fun about committing a felony?” Jimin’s mother looks at him from under worn, creased brows, greying hair, and thin-rimmed glasses that don't do much for her worsening eyesight.

“We were just speeding…”

“‘Just speeding’? We have laws against that for a reason! Why do you need to tear up asphalt on your way home?”

They were going to Jungkook’s house, actually.  

“It’s faster.”

His mother groans. Jimin knew she would. When she’s too tired to take the guilt trip, she’s too tired to deal with Jimin’s excuses.

“It’s only happened, like, six times.”

His mother doesn’t look at him.

“And… I’ve never been in any other sort of trouble with him before. I could be smoking marijuana or, I don’t know, getting someone pregnant—”

Jimin—”

“—But all I’m doing is going a little fast.”

“Officer Jin deserves half my paycheck for the trouble you’ve been putting him through.”

He’d probably spend it all on Skittles. “I’ll tell Jungkook to keep it slow next time.”

“Next time?”

“Next time.”

“Jimin…”

“Mom...”

“Why do you let that kid stick around?”

“You know why.”

She turns and incoherently mumbles something about “your generation” but Jimin doesn’t feel like paying complete attention. Jimin keeps his feet planted, his head lowered, and his hands balled tightly on the railing of the stairs to keep himself from sprinting up to see Jungkook. He’s trying to decide whether to hit him for ditching him again or kiss him goodnight before he leaves.

Even at twenty-one, Jimin is still living with his parents and therefore has to abide by their rules, no matter how obnoxious, time consuming, and biased they might be. They think Jimin’s “ignorant fondness” of Jungkook is a trend. They see it as a phase or something you grow out of like Heelys and bubblegum tape. They hope that Jimin will grow out of Jungkook or Jungkook will leave their precious sanctuary of a town one day and find his home somewhere in the mountains with some nice monks who can teach him about morals. Jimin also wishes he would, because he really does hate him as much as he loves him. He’s like a cursed blessing, or a sweet misfortune. Put simply, a fuckup.

“I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. If it does, I’ll make sure Jungkook is caught, not me,” Jimin half-jokes. His mother takes his words into consideration, nodding. Maybe she didn’t catch on that Jimin wasn’t being serious; he wouldn’t actually let them get caught again. But throwing Jungkook under the metaphorical cop car, that’s something he’d revel in. One more mishap on Jungkook’s account could get them into actual trouble or raise suspicion that they have higher motives, like that Jungkook is converting Jimin to satanism or they’re planning underground black market mafia renegades for the gay agenda.

“You’ve probably had a rough night,” Mrs. Park says quietly. “You can go to bed now, if you’d—” Jimin is halfway up the stairs “—like.”

Goodnight sorry I love you it won’t happen again tell dad I love him too !” says the twenty-one year old man with a curfew and a kind-of-track record with the police department. Jimin’s door slams on his last word.

His room is untouched, his bed is made, and his slippers sit right where he took them off last. The window is closed, locked, bolted, and the bar has been put back in place. His lamp is on, highlighting his untouched—and unloved by everyone else in the house—SNSD poster. (Jimin doesn’t even feel bad for them if they missed such an early “I’m not a heterosexual” warning sign.) The door to his conjoined bathroom is ajar and the light is on. The toilet flushes. Jimin braces himself against the bed, getting lightheaded from the notion of Jungkook being in his house, in his room, against all morals and rules and a couple laws. It’s not the first time, but each night Jungkook breaks the rules to compensate for Jimin’s lack of rebellion, Jimin’s heart does that fluttering thing. Like when he rode a motorcycle for the first time and almost hit a tree. It’s the adrenaline of knowing he’s being a dumbass that could get caught, but it doesn’t matter. And even though Jimin has yet to see Jungkook again, the same feeling hits his gut.

The sink runs, the light is flicked off, the door opens, and suddenly Jimin is up in the air, holding a hand over his mouth so he doesn’t scream at sudden light pinches on his waist and hips, his most ticklish spots.

“Jung —hey !” Jimin whisper-screams. “Stop, Jungkook— mph !”

“What’s up?” Jungkook says. He keeps Jimin’s torso pinned to his shoulder with a hand wrapped around his waist.

“A-Asshole,” Jimin grinds out. His useless prying gets him nowhere but a more awkward position further over Jungkook’s back where he has to brace himself to keep from falling.

Jungkook gasps. “Naughty word, Minni. Do you even know what it means?”

“Shut up, you ass! Put me down!”

“Two in one night? I think I’m rubbing off on you.”

Down .”

“God, Jimin. You’re so fucking heavy. What do they feed you here, rocks?”

“Why? Is your head missing some?”

“Words hurt, you know.” Jungkook’s deep voice masked by such an innocent tone should be as illegal as breaking and entering into Jimin’s room. The faint smell of cigarette smoke wafts from his clothes, also a juxtaposition to his counterfeit halo.

“So does having a shoulder in your stomach,” Jimin whisper-shouts.

Jungkook laughs. “Did you miss me?” He shouldn’t be the one laughing—he’s not being tickle-tortured in the air. But Jimin can’t be mad. The feeling of Jungkook being in his house after running from the cops, ditching him in the process, and probably carrying at least three types of illegal substances on him overwhelms him. It’s the adrenaline that comes with Jungkook in everyday life that stuck Jimin on him before he could say, “Yes, I have standards.”

“No. I just saw you, like, ten minutes ago, driving away on your dumb bike, leaving me alone with the police.” The torture stops, but Jungkook keeps Jimin suspended over his back.

“She’s not dumb. You’re dumb.”

Jimin huffs. “Date your bike, then.”

As Jungkook silently contemplates this, two doors down, Jimin hears the sound of his brother’s door opening. The light in the hallway flashes on, and Jimin freezes completely. He holds his breath too, which proves to be most uncomfortable with his lung already crushed from Jungkook’s manhandling. The steps fade, and the wooden stairs creak under Juhyun’s weight. Jimin is safe. He’s still in Jungkook’s vice grip, but he’s safe from exposure, at least. He hadn’t even realized how loud Jungkook was breathing until his brother disappeared. Self-acclaimed Bad Boy is afraid of being caught too, it seems. Not that Jihyun has any reason to be in Jimin’s room this late at night, but there is a slim chance karma would choose today to bite him in the butt.

“Maybe I should go say hi to your brother.”

Or, maybe Jungkook isn’t afraid of being caught.

“The hell you should!”

Jungkook gasps again, this one more fake than the obviously fake previous one. “This is the most I’ve heard you curse in one night. Are you feeling okay, Jimin?” Jungkook sets Jimin on the bed, quick to pin Jimin in place with his arms and knee, caging in Jimin at another awkward angle with his feet still on the floor and his back bent uncomfortably. “The first day we met you told me to never use words like that around you. I never heard you curse until you asked me to ‘cut the shit’ and ask you out.”

“Did I? I don’t remember,” Jimin lies.

“Actually, I can recall one night you dirtied your tongue a little more…”

Jimin tries to scoot away where the shadows hide his blush, but the wall that is Jeon Jungkook has him boxed in, and the only way he’s going to get out of this position without kicking—tempting, deadly—is through flattery. Which, obviously, isn’t an option, because Jimin hates Jungkook too much to find anything likable about him aside from everything he loves about him, which is most things that he doesn’t hate. So he’s stuck with his back bent and his breathing uneven, with a smirking, leather-clad douche hovering a mile too close to his face.

In just the light of his lamp, only half of Jungkook’s face is highlighted, and it’s a damn good half to be able to stare at this close. For someone who is apparently just a friend to Jimin, as per town vote, Jimin shouldn’t find just fifty-percent of his face one hundred percent attractive. It’s probably the piercings that make this side of him so nice too look at, so different from what he’s used to. Jungkook has almost more metal than actual ear. If his gauges moved up a size, Jimin could probably fit a padlock in one—something he would threaten to do if Jungkook tickled him again—but it’s more fun to run his fingers over them and contemplate what it would be like to have his own. Jungkook likes when Jimin plays with his piercings almost as much as Jimin loves making fun of him for them.

“Wanna move?” Jimin pushes Jungkook’s chest. “I can’t breathe.”

“Do you remember that day?”

“I hardly remember what oxygen tastes like.”

“I remember it really well,” Jungkook whispers. “I was looking forward to that again tonight.”

“I only said what I was thinking,” Jimin says. He often tries to forget the day he made Jungkook ask him to be his boyfriend. It’s embarrassing, and Jungkook loves to bring up how much of a baby Jimin was right after. “You said some pretty out-of-character things, too.”

Too keep and to cherish. That’s what Jungkook promised him. He had taken the “keep” part a little too literally and somehow replaced the “cherish” bit with “manhandle.” To own and to manhandle. That’s what Jungkook promised him that day. That, and a party-sized bag of Skittles like the one he bought him today.

Today’s date was the only one he can remember that Jungkook had semi-respected personal space and boundaries. The two of them had spent all afternoon together just walking around the tiny excuse of a downtown area. Jungkook used every viable excuse he could formulate to hold Jimin’s hand, and Jimin used his full strength to pry Jungkook’s fingers away, as much as he also wanted to hold his hand. He wanted to follow Jungkook’s example and shout a big “fuck you” to the people who stared or looked away too fast when they saw two men holding hands for a purpose other than a firm business handshake. He was even tempted to kiss him at one point when Jungkook was being stupid-adorable by following and imitating a duckling behind a group of them crossing the street.

Jimin abruptly stops thinking about their date before he grins and Jungkook asks him,

“What are you thinking about, babe?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t lie,” Jungkook says as he pinches Jimin’s side, making him yelp. “Shh,” he teases.

“You shush .”

“Did you just shush me ?”

“You were being loud.”

“We wouldn’t have to be quiet if we were at my house.”

Jimin groans, turning his head to the side, hopelessly trying to avoid Jungkook’s eyes. “We were going there, but you decided to speed and get us caught .”

Jungkook allows Jimin the space he needs to scoot himself onto the bed fully and sit upright. Now that he’s at eye-level with Jimin, Jungkook is less intimidating. The lamp light that hits his face is softer but doesn’t make Jimin feel any less frightened by his own boyfriend. Sometimes he wonders if it’s normal to be scared for his life when staring into his partner’s eyes, not knowing if the next move he makes will melt his heart or break it. With the way Jungkook stands out in this town like the devil himself sitting among church pews, Jimin would assume it’s just him. He could have found a nice brunette girl with morals and a good human heart, but no, he had to fall on his face for a bike-riding, beer-stealing, weed-smoking, duck-imitating butthead who has Jimin double-knotted around his finger at the drop of his Blink-182 hat. (Jimin hated that beanie, especially when he wore it in the summer.)

Jihyun comes back up the stairs, turns off the hall light, and shuts his door, once again reminding Jimin that they aren’t alone in the house. He wants to turn off the lamp and go to bed, but there’s still the problem of the person Jimin hates the most, sitting on the edge of his bed staring at Jimin like he owes him something. Which reminds Jimin about Jungkook’s debt to him...

“You owe me Skittles.”

“Do I?”

“Why do you second guess everything I tell you?”

“Why do you give me false information all the time?”

“What? When?”

Jungkook’s gaze on it’s own is enough to push Jimin against his headboard, even though Jungkook hasn’t moved at all. It terrifies Jimin that Jungkook has the power to make him feel small like this and that he’s not afraid to use that power. But there are times when Jungkook makes him feel like a god, like someone who deserves the immense amount of praise Jungkook is more than willing to give him. He works hard to make sure life is as easy for Jimin as it can be. Jungkook picks up Jimin from his volunteer shift at the shelter with his heart-eyes and compliments. Jungkook would tell him how ugly he made the other puppies look when he was around them, and Jimin would try to convince Jungkook that he wasn’t a puppy. It never works. The scariest part to this side of Jungkook is that it works just as well when it comes to bending Jimin to his will.

Thinking about the compliments makes Jimin’s heart do that fluttery thing again. It’s hard to comprehend how the same person who brings him ice cream at work with a handwritten note and butterfly kisses can also drag him into a state of semi-terror.

“How about when you told me you’d skip work today to spend more time with me?”

“I changed my mind.”

“I haven’t changed mine. You owe me .”

“I don’t! I hardly want to be around you anymore.” A half-truth. Jimin wanted the cute, preferably brunette girl who would sing him to sleep at night and hold his hand in public without being glared at. They would have had an amazing time raising cute kids together, and she never would have thrown him on the back on a motorcycle without a helmet. Because of this, he absolutely hates the boy leaning in to kiss him.

“I’ll always want you, my precious mini boyfriend.” Jungkook’s arms enveloping him in a sense of security that contradicts the unease he was inflicting on him earlier.

“I’m not that small.”

“You’re small enough to fit on my lap when we ride my bike.”

“We were going, like, four miles an hour!” Jimin catches himself before yelling too loud, then sighs. “It’s late, and Dad is going to want me to go to the church tomorrow to confess because of you. You should leave.”

“Why do you let them treat you like you’re in middle school?”

“As much of a point you have, please leave.”

Jungkook lifts his head. Jimin can feel how rosey his cheeks are, how heavy his eyes must appear, and how in love he looks when he’s looking at Jungkook, and Jungkook is looking back at him. Why is it so hard for everyone else to see? They aren’t trying to hide their relationship, so why is it so hard to comprehend that Jimin and Jungkook are in love? Why can’t anyone see that they don’t care whether or not anyone else thinks it’s a phase or a false sense of obsession mistaken for infatuation? Why does everyone resort to thinking that Jimin is trying to be the mother figure Jungkook never had? Jimin is quick to tell anyone that he hates Jungkook too much to care about setting a good example, but it only took Jimin about a month to realize his love for Jungkook equated his hate—the hate that’s brought back in moments like this, when Jimin is trying to reminisce, and all Jungkook wants to do is wrap himself around Jimin.

“No,” Jimin says, pushing Jungkook’s arms from his waist. He cups Jungkook’s cheeks and looks him dead in the eye. “No,” he says again. “Bad.” It’s a tactic they use on the dogs at the daycare when they bite, and Jungkook is no different from them sometimes. He pouts, whines, and is in constant need of attention. He steals Jimin’s food and is too loud sometimes, always follows Jimin around, and growls when people get too close to Jimin.

Jimin has a dog, not a boyfriend. It all makes sense now.

“Why are you laughing?” Jungkook says when Jimin slaps a hand over his mouth to keep in his totally-not-squeaky laughter. “What the hell? Stop.”

“You’re so cute,” Jimin says through staggered breaths.

“Hey.” Jungkook forcibly takes Jimin’s hand away from his face, then the other, both by the wrist before holding them out in front of him, glaring at Jimin. “How am I supposed to look tough if you think I’m only cute?”

“Shh! You’re being loud again.”

“Like I said,” Jungkook says, hardly quieter than before, “We wouldn’t have to be so quiet if we went back to my house. You told me you wanted to.”

“That was before we got pulled over.”

“That’s why I was speeding in the first place.”

“Goodnight, Jungkook.”

For a precious, beautiful, blissful second, Jungkook retreats, and Jimin immediately feels his ability to take in a substantial amount of oxygen return. But a second isn’t a long time, and all too soon Jungkook is curling up beside Jimin.

“I said—”

“Hush.”

Wrapping his arms around Jimin’s waist, Jungkook collapses back onto the bed, possessive with a strong right arm scooping Jimin’s back against his chest. Jimin panics, but unfortunately what Jungkook said about him being small—and in relation, weaker—stands true in this moment.

“Goodnight, Mini Minni.”

“Goodnight meant go home .”

Jungkook laughs at Jimin struggling to make use of his trapped arms, and Jimin finds himself absolutely, undeniably, doubtlessly stuck because of Jungkook in every way.

“If you don’t leave someone will find your bike in the morning.”

“So let them,” Jungkook says through a deep sigh. He buries his nose in Jimin’s sweater that Jimin doesn’t want to be wearing. It’s too hot. His jeans also start to feel constricting under the blankets, but those are absolutely, undeniably, doubtlessly not coming off.

The same strength used to hold up both of their bodies at that time is applied to Jimin’s waist as he’s constricted into Jungkook’s grasp. Jimin will never tell him, because he’s not one for giving away valuable information that can be used to humiliate him in public, but he’s almost as in love with Jungkook’s strength as he hates him. It makes him feel secure, like he’s being protected from bad people, held back from poor choices, which is about as ironic as Jimin screaming “ God ” as his cum hit the holy white tiles of aforementioned holy restroom. Jungkook’s strength also makes him feel trapped, energy depleted, spacey, and lacking control in the same way as being held against the corresponding holy wall.

“Want this off, too?” Jungkook lifts up the bottom of Jimin’s sweater, slowly, teasingly, like he was actually going to listen to Jimin’s answer. And thus, Park Jimin ends up nearly naked in bed with his boyfriend, two rooms away from his sleeping parents and one hallway across from his precious little brother. For the same reason he couldn’t make Jungkook wait until they got home before tarnishing a holy space, Jimin can’t turn over to double check if he locked the door. Part of him wishes that they’ll be caught because he really does hate Jungkook, and the only way he’s going to get rid of him is if someone else does it for him. He doesn’t have the strength to push Jungkook away himself.

He loves him too much.



It’s approximately two , early in the morning. Too early in the morning. The sun isn’t even awake, but for some better-be-good reason, Jimin is. He has Jungkook to thank for that. Or not thank. Probably not. He has Jungkook to hit for making him wake up before dawn for some undeniably dumb reason that will end up giving Jimin anxiety or a nice bruise on his eye where Jimin will (be too nice to actually) hit him. It’ll nicely compliment the bags under his eyes from waking up so early that make him look like he picked a fight and lost. In a way, he has: if the battle was between sleep and forced consciousness.

The cold hits Jimin the second he rolls over to glare at Jungkook, but he’s not where he fell asleep last night. He’s not on the bed at all, and Jimin would be the one lying if he said it didn’t bother him that he didn’t get to wake up to Jungkook right behind him. He hears the revving of a bike, followed by the vibration of his phone.

After being blinded by all the light that exists in the world coming out of his phone screen, Jimin blinks away tiredness he shouldn’t have this early in the morning in the first place and reads the text from the regretfully named Gay Bee , which is still a step up from Jungkook’s suggestion of Hung Kook , which was quickly rejected. Their text conversations are something on a completely different plane, but Jimin never has it in him to delete them, and it’s embarrassing considering his brother knows his password and uses his phone quite frequently—something about better camera quality and Jimin doesn’t question it.

Wake up bb, followed by, You sleep like a fucking rock.

And Jimin replies, Makes sense since you are what you eat, right? He waits for it to send, then, Also, I’m locking you out. And Jimin means it. Jungkook is like a annoying cat sometimes—as cute as they are, they’re more of a hassle than anything.

I’ve already got my helmet on. Let’s go.

Jimin groans. There is no way Jungkook expects him to leave the comfort of his bed while he’s still wearing yesterday's clothes, climb out the window after Jungkook, and go on an early morning ride just because . He’d be crazy to assume Jimin would just drop his phone, search for his hoodie on the floor next to his sweater, put on some fuzzy socks, a beanie, and tennis shoes, then make his bed again. And he’d be insane to think that Jimin would bother to brush his teeth, too, to make sure he doesn’t scare away his boyfriend with pre-morning breath, then quietly dangle his legs over the windowsill and push off, bending his knees to lessen the impact when he hitting the ground. Jungkook is as unstable as he is cocky and hot and dangerous to be around.

Once in his backyard, Jimin pulls the strings of his hoodie to protect himself against the cold. His breath comes out in puffs in front of him, spelling out why the fuck are you doing this before dissolving into crisp winter air. The fact that the air can be described as crisp should be enough of a sign to stay away . One day, Jimin is going to have to decide between Jungkook and his standard human morals, and unfortunately, he’s prepared to give up either. It’s as scary as it is true, and even scarier that Jimin doesn’t mind.

Despite the way his feet sink into the muddy grass with each step and how he can hardly see ten steps in front of him from fog and the lack of light, added to a fuzzy consciousness of still being half-asleep, it’s a miracle he's able to focus hard enough to unlock and open the back gate soundlessly enough that his parents won’t notice their adult son sneaking out of the house to ride on the back of a motorcycle. Jungkook, as promised, is waiting for Jimin, holding his extra helmet out. His own is pushed up to his forehead, revealing an unnecessary lip bite. It’s not hot, Jimin swears. Added onto the leather jacket, combat boots, and pre-ripped jeans—that Jungkook swears was actually from a longboarding accident over a fiery ravine of crocodiles—Jungkook reminds Jimin that he’s everything he hates. Trouble is literally his middle name. He had it legally changed when he was adopted, or so Jimin is told.

“You look cold.”

Climbing onto the back of the bike, Jimin pretends he can’t hear him over the motor. He takes the helmet from Jungkook’s hand, replacing his hood with the headgear. When Jimin researched proper motorcycle attire after his first time riding, he found that to say safe you either have to wear all leather or an entire suit of armor. When he found that chainmail was out of his budget, Jimin settled for borrowing Jihyun’s leather jacket. Unfortunately, he needed it back if Jimin wasn’t going to pay him for it. A hoodie and thrift store jeans shouldn’t be enough for Jimin to decide that he feels safe enough for this, but he ignores reason because he can’t hear it over the unnecessary revving and thumping in his chest.

Here they go again, the two oddballs of the town breaking the rules, disregarding the norm in place of being good citizens, and wreaking havoc for fun. Or something like that.

When Jimin has his arms secured tightly around Jungkook’s waist in what Jungkook calls the Girlfriend Position, they begin to move. One would assume that after each time riding on the back of a bike, the feeling of wind cutting through your clothes and the sensation of slicing directly through air would grow on you, maybe even become old and anticipated rather than exhilarating, but that would be wrong. And assuming that the feeling of being free and flying with no one to stop you (besides cops and the law but that’s whatever) sticks with you every time you accelerate, and that each ride is a new adventure to be had, well, that’s also wrong. Far off. Farther off than the former. Neither apply unless you’re someone like Jungkook or have no regards for your own mortality. The truth is that it’s freaking scary as balls. With every ninety degree turn or dangerously close to forty-degree lean, Jimin feels his soul exceed several planes beyond his mortal body and slap him in the face for his dumb trust in Jungkook. He never did confirm that Jungkook had a license to drive this death-on-wheels, or insurance, or proper training. He probably didn’t even read the instructions manual. Do motorcycles come with those? Does it come with a step-by-step assembly guide?

In record time Jungkook is already blowing stop signs and taking sharp turns faster than safe. They’re going too fast for Jimin to judge by feel where they’re going, and opening his eyes is a poor choice because he’d rather not puke in Jungkook’s only extra helmet. The amount of trust he’s putting in Jungkook daily really isn’t fair compared to the amount of stupid stuff Jungkook does without Jimin’s permission, but day after strenuous day, Jimin comes back. Jimin has never fallen from the bike or been poisoned from secondhand smoke or broken a bone from late-night window-jumps, so he trusts it won’t happen as long as Jungkook is around to save him. Not to jinx it or anything.

If it wasn’t too late to change his mind, Jimin would be on the next ride back to his warm bed to sleep and dream about the easier life he lived before Jungkook, and before he realized he had a fear of going over 60 miles an hour on back roads. He never thought he’d need someone to help him realize this fear. He shouldn’t have to. He shouldn’t be clinging so tight to someone’s waist that he can feel his own arms losing circulation. Jungkook loves it, he’s sure. He’s going to make fun of Jimin for how clingy he is and how he wants him to do it more often and tell him how cute he looks wearing his helmet.

Thankfully, against all logic, the world stops zipping by at impossible speeds, and Jimin is able to catch his breath. Under his vice grip, he feels the tension leave Jungkook’s muscles as they slow to a humane speed, and Jimin can finally tell where they stopped. From the amount of turns they seemed to take  and the speed they were going, Jimin would imagine they’d be at the border or something. Time goes by a lot slower when you’re scared witless, apparently, because they aren’t more than a couple streets away from the chapel where Jimin gave away his innocence to Jungkook. Part of it, anyways.

Everything bad that’s happened to Jimin because of Jungkook has started or ended here. His first kiss with Jungkook happened behind a large oak tree growing over their church’s sign. Jimin had just skipped down the steps after the service and was ready to go home and take a nap, spend time with his little brother, eat lunch, you know, normal things twenty-going-on-twenty-one-year-olds do on a Sunday afternoon when they aren’t watching school children or attending a brunch.

And Jungkook, well, he was doing everything wrong.

No one had told him that you’re not supposed to wear skulls or logos or provoking symbols of any kind on a church property. And he had no way of knowing how strong the smell of weed is to people who have never been exposed to any substance stronger than incense. Most people ignored it and were able to walk away and reminisce on the sermon given, not be forcefully yanked to the side out of a crowd of people, dragged away from family, and shoved against the stone banner boasting the name of their church.

Scream is what Jimin’s conscience told him. Run is what his gut screamed at him. Let it happen ran through his mind.

No one said anything. Maybe his family didn’t notice, or maybe they didn’t care. Jimin kept his eyes closed through cars starting and pulling out of the lot and people chatting about what they were going to do when they got home, something Jimin wished he had the luxury of at the time. Instead of following Jihyun and his parents, Jimin was stuck with a hand over his mouth and the new kid who he’d been mutually crushing on for three weeks since the pool incident back in June was too close. It was mid-July now, and both of them decided that it was time to stop pining and start putting feelings into words and words into actions. The action part had been Jungkook’s to initiate from the second he cupped Jimin’s face and brought it to meet his in the middle.

There, under the shade of the oldest and holiest building in their town, Jimin gave his first kiss to a boy who drinks and smokes and has had premarital sex and hadn’t lived in the area for more than a month or two but still knew Jimin more than anyone he’d grown up with.

Thinking about how warm the kiss felt in the summer, how soft Jungkook’s lips felt pressed against his for what had to have been at least three hours, it seemed, makes Jimin feel even colder now in his hoodie and jeans and lack of proper winter-wear.

Jungkook is tackling that problem in a second, wrapping Jimin in his arms from behind and breathing on his cheek. Jimin melts, dropping his helmet on the spot and turning to face Jungkook. In the dull light provided by an array of stars and the moon—but mostly street lamps that haven’t been blotted by pollution and man-made fumes—Jimin is reminded why he ever let Jungkook into his life to begin with, why he let him kiss him in front of the church that day where no one could see, even if they had only been dating for three days at the time, and why he gave in when Jungkook woke him up at two in the morning to go on a random ride. There isn’t one absolute reason that Jimin can point out, and maybe that’s the beauty of his attraction. Beauty, setback, ignorance, any of those, really.

“Now what?” Jimin asks. It comes through chattering teeth, and Jungkook laughs at him, tightening his grip like it will do some good instead of suffocate Jimin.

“I don’t know,” Jungkook sighs. Oh. Okay, so, Jungkook is just wasting Jimin’s time. Surprise.

“The man with no plan,” Jimin mumbles into Jungkook’s shirt. “This is who I’m gonna marry someday.”

Jungkook pulls away. “Marry?”

“Is… Is that not something you’ve seriously thought about?”

Jungkook is quick to shake his head and push Jimin’s face back into his chest. “It is! It really is. That’s just, uh…”

“Too gay for you to think about?” Jimin jokes.

“I don’t think I could ever marry someone so tiny.”

“I’m not—”

Proving Jimin doubtlessly wrong, Jungkook has Jimin up in the air, his strong arms leaving Jimin suspended a few feet off the ground. He wraps his legs around Jungkook’s torso to hold himself steady, and at the same time, Jungkook is stealing his breath away with a kiss that weakens Jimin to the point of going limp in Jungkook’s arms. Suddenly the freezing weather doesn’t affect Jimin anymore as it’s overtaken by his own heart warming him from the inside out. Jimin sees sparks behind his eyelids. The good kind. Not the kind you see after staring at a bright light for too long. The kind that you see when a kiss makes you giddy and want to laugh and cry at the same time because the emotions you feel for the person in front of you are so overwhelming.

If it had been in daylight, Jimin would already be pushing Jungkook away, scolding him on how potentially dangerous it could be if someone saw them. It’s early in the morning, though, dark, and no one is awake besides the two of them. Nothing could make Jimin want to push him away. He’s too wrapped in Jungkook’s warmth—so much so that he hardly realizes the shift in positions, and how suddenly he’s sitting on Jungkook’s lap in the wet grass.

“Marry me, Park Jimin,” Jungkook says between butterfly kisses to his cheeks, nose, and chin.

Now, Jimin has never been drunk in his life, and he never plans on it, but Jungkook’s words have a way of making him feel like he could be drunk on love and on Jungkook and on the night and on the kiss and on these foreign emotions that he’d be lying if he said didn’t scare him as much as they elated him.

“Let’s do that,” Jimin breathes.

“Wait, really?”

“Eventually. Once we’ve moved out of this crappy place and settled.”

Jungkook scrunches his nose. “I never want to settle in one place.”

“We can keep moving. We can be like your dads.”

“Okay.”

Jimin buries his face in Jungkook’s shoulder. It takes everything in Jimin to throw away thoughts of being caught and scolded. He tries not to focus on his mother and father somehow finding out that he snuck out again. He already put his dad through enough worry to turn his hair grey when he first had Jungkook over to their house. And the first time he accidentally caught one of their goodnight kisses before Jungkook left for the night, Jimin could see him lose about fifteen to twenty years of his life just from the disappointment in his eyes. It didn’t stop Jimin from keeping Jungkook around, though. The idea sinks to the back of his mind and is replaced with thoughts of how good it feels to be able to be with Jungkook like this without the constant worry of being seen.

Jimin swears he is going to get whiplash from all the sudden position changes and hypothermia from the wetness of the grass now soaking into his back. Jungkook lays down next to him. He shines brighter than all of the stars above them combined. Jimin immediately feels how cold it is when a gust of wind blows over them, and he clings to Jungkook to steal his warmth. Jungkook welcomes Jimin onto his lap, curled in a ball and breathing into his chest. Maybe it’s from the cold, or maybe Jungkook is affected in the same way as Jimin after kissing, but for some reason, the beat of his boyfriend’s heart is more audible than it’s ever been.

“Where do you want to move first?”

Jimin can feel the vibration with every word.

“Away. Somewhere warm, I think.”

“Are you just saying that because you’re cold?” Jungkook laughs, constricting Jimin until his face is pressed against the cotton of his shirt. How is he able to keep his jacket open like this? Like a crazy person? Jimin is dating a crazy person. “You said the opposite last summer.”

“I’m sure,” Jimin hums as he nuzzles into Jungkook’s chest. Being held like this is one of Jimin’s favorite things about Jungkook and one of the few things about him that he doesn’t hate. He loves when Jungkook treats him the way he’d treat a wilting flower in the shop—baby it, give it water and warmth and talk to it on occasion or pick it up and without a second thought, discard it and make it feel inferior. Plants have just as many feelings as Jimin does, and he’s sure that sometimes they can feel neglected and unable to do anything about it because they’re so small and so much weaker than the one handling them. An inkling in the back of Jimin’s mind always causes him to wonder why Jungkook chose to call him Minni instead of his flower or something. Jimin would never voice this to Jungkook because he isn’t a crazy person. Jungkook is the crazy one. He wears unzipped jackets and broken jeans in the winter.

“How about Fiji? It’s warm there.”

Jimin shakes his head, messing up his own hair where it presses against Jungkook. “I’m afraid of sharks. What if there are sharks in Fiji?”

More vibrations rumble through Jungkook’s body as he throws his head back in laughter.

“Don’t make fun of me!”

“I didn’t say anything!”

“You were thinking mean things. I hate you.”

“Mhm. I love you.” Jungkook wraps his arm around Jimin tighter and kisses the top of Jimin’s head.

“I love you, too.”

“You can’t love me and hate me. You have to choose.”

“Okay. I hate you.”

“You’re cute.”

“No, you.”

“My cute, mini Minni.”

“Oh my gosh, Jungkook. That nickname is going to get old. It did a while ago.”

“Give me a better one, then.”

And Jimin drops it, because he knows he could only make it worse. He’s too tired to think of a new name, anyways. But maybe it’s time Jimin gave Jungkook a nickname. An embarrassing one. Something that makes him look soft and delicate. But the only one he can think of is so painfully obvious….

“Kookie…”

“Excuse me?”

“My soft,” Jimin traces a heart with his finger over Jungkook’s chest, “Soft, delicate, sweet Kookie.” He can’t see well enough to know if he’s even tracing it over his heart but he doesn’t care because Jungkook doesn’t correct him.

“You think these biceps of fucking steel are soft?”

Jimin giggles. He assumed Jungkook would at the very least get a little heated, but he doesn’t expect Jungkook to suffocate him against his body, leaving Jimin literally breathless from the hug supposed to prove his point. But Jimin still uses what little air he has left in his lungs to laugh at his arrogant boyfriend.

“I will throw you across the pond.”

Jimin peeks his head up to gauge the distance of the pond across the street from the church. To be honest, Jungkook totally could if he tried.

“How would you do it? Discus style or like pitching a baseball?”

“I’d probably just punt you.”

“I’m leaving you.”

“Are you really, though?”

“I—” Jimin immediately regrets opening his mouth. An unstoppable yawn takes him by surprise. He’s barely been keeping his head up, trying his darndest not to yawn because Jungkook will pinch his cheeks and call him cute and spam him with pictures of yawning puppies for the next three hours straight saying, “this is you.” It was a big mistake Jimin made in the past, and accompanied by cursed sweater sleeves extending past his fingertips, Jimin made himself an easy target for an entire week of nothing but teasing. He couldn’t even hold a conversation without Jungkook bringing it up again.

Jungkook says nothing, but Jimin knows what’s coming later anyways.

“I know it’s not smart to be in love with someone like you. It’s irresponsible, and I hate you for that,” he finishes when the yawn passes.

Jungkook, who was still swooning over said yawn, pushes Jimin to the edge of his criss-crossed legs. With his hands on Jimin’s waist keeping him still, he looks Jimin dead in the eye. It’s a look he’s only seen several times in his short time with Jungkook, and it has had the same effect every time, causing Jimin’s heart to pick up and his thoughts to process in slow motion and his head to spin as his body does just the opposite. Jungkook stared at him this way when he first picked out Jimin from the crowd around his bike, and he continued to stare that way until finally asking Jimin out on a date and stole Jimin’s first kiss with a boy. It’s odd that there is such a specific gleam that Jimin can recognize.

“I hate you, too,” Jungkook whispers. “I hate the way you make me feel like boxing in my own interests to accommodate yours. I hate how exposed and you make me feel in my own skin. I hate that my heart chose you when common sense was telling me not to bother the perfect world you lived in before I fucked all hell up and shit on your reputation as the resident sunshine—”

“Jungkook, stop—”

“I’m not done.”

“Yes, you are.”

“I’m not—”

It’s not that deep .”

Jungkook is about to protest but he closes his mouth immediately. Jimin takes Jungkook’s hand in his own. It’s warm, warmer than his. The contrast has Jimin in a temporary shock. It’s not fair that he gets to be warm while Jimin, the so called “sunshine,” can feel hypothermia spreading up his legs.

Jungkook looks at his hand on Jimin’s lap, then back to his tired eyes. Jimin’s eyelids are magnets to his cheekbones, and it’s getting harder each second to keep them from falling. To keep himself awake, he kisses Jungkook, something he very much enjoys doing. But he would never tell him that, or Jungkook want to make out all the time and it would make moments like these less special. Jimin pulls him close and Jungkook kisses him back at Jimin’s own pace. His breath quickens when Jungkook lets out one of those noises he holds back most of the time.

“I was kidding about earlier,” Jungkook says suddenly, pulling away. “No one as small as you could have that much of an impact on me.”

“I know,” Jimin says. “I wasn’t kidding, though. I hate you. Now that it’s settled that we both doubtlessly hate each other, let’s go to bed. I’m tired.”

Jimin tries to stand up. He doesn’t know why he tried. It’s not unexpected that Jungkook pulls him back down, trapping his body and soul to his chest. His heart beats loudly again, and Jimin starts to wonder if Jungkook really has one, or if the bass from his music sunk into his body and replaced his entire being with amplifiers and pop-punk tropes like the one they’re living.

“No going anywhere without another kiss,” Jungkook pouts. It’s not cute.

Jimin obeys. With one hand on Jungkook’s cheek and the other still sucking the warmth from Jungkook’s hand, Jimin kisses Jungkook. He melts under Jungkook’s touch. He gets the same feeling every time he kisses Jungkook. It lets him know who he’s dealing with. It reminds him of their contrast, and how even the two of them having any sort of physical contact is a juxtaposition that would be better for everyone had it not existed. In the midst of the heat, Jimin almost forgets what it feels like to breath. He’s trapped to Jungkook, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Let’s get you home,” Jungkook says as he breaks the kiss. “Tomorrow we can talk about just how much we hate each other, okay?”

Jimin nods and lets his head fall to Jungkook’s shoulder. “You’re strong. Carry me.”

Jungkook actually listens, hoisting Jimin into the air at the same time he stands up himself. Jimin would be in awe of his leg and core strength had he been fully conscious, but instead he’s half asleep. No one can blame him. Jungkook woke him up seven hours earlier than he should have. He owes it to Jimin to carry him at least to the bike. And then into his house. And then up to his room and then tuck him in and give him a goodnight kiss he’ll pretend to be asleep for even though it makes him giddy all over.

Jungkook sets Jimin’s helmet on over Jimin’s drooping eyes that aren’t cute, regardless of what he’s whispering to Jimin right now, and pats him twice on the head before lifting him onto the seat. The motor starting is barely enough to snap Jimin back to reality and realize Jungkook can’t go anywhere until he’s holding onto his waist.

“Are you going to be able to hold on?” Jungkook asks.

Jimin nods and locks his arms around Jungkook, but it’s obvious why he isn’t convinced. Jimin is fighting as hard as his tired mind will let him just to keep his fingers locked around his forearms.

“I don’t want you falling off….”

“I’ll be fine,” Jimin hums. “Just go slow, okay?”

Slow doesn’t exist in Jungkook’s vocabulary, but he shows promise when he kicks off the ground, and they start driving in the direction of Jimin’s house. Jimin finds it easy to stay awake enough to keep his grip firm, even on sharp turns, and at the times Jungkook forgets that he has a semi-loose boyfriend tied to his back. But they make it back to the main road okay. Occasionally, Jimin will feel the bike slow almost to a stop, and Jungkook’s hand will come down to grip Jimin’s and confirm that he’s still awake.

Jimin grows more confident with every turn, every hook, every curve that Jungkook is taking a little too fast. He lets his arms relax and puts complete trust in Jungkook to get him home safely. It would probably be easier for the two of them if one or both died here. Jungkook wouldn’t have to worry about Jimin nagging him to “stay safe” and “go the speed limit” and “use blinkers” and “turn on headlights” and all those things he “forgets.” He would never wear a helmet if Jimin didn’t make him. And if Jimin was gone, he wouldn’t have to figure out a way to sneak back into his bedroom without waking up anyone in the house, without setting off alarms, and without thinking how much easier it would be if he just moved out and got an apartment with Jungkook where they could live together without rules or limits. Besides the helmet rule. Jungkook would run out of excuses not to wear one, and hopefully it would become a habit so Jimin didn’t have to remind him every time he left. He’d probably be leaving for work at a dealership or something. Jimin will have to remember to nag him to find an interest so he can stop living off his parents and get a job when they move out together. Jimin would watch him leave from their balcony where he grows every sort of flower. Yeah, every single flower. He’ll grow it.

Jimin can’t pinpoint the exact time at which his fantasy became a dream, but he can pinpoint the exact moment everything around him stopped feeling real. He’s floated in dreams before; this isn’t like that, though. This sort of floating feels…different. It feels wrong. It feels cold, and then suddenly hot. Then he feels cold again, and the world turns to ice around him. He’s laughing uncontrollably. He’s laughing so hard he cries. Jimin feels himself starting to cry so hard his head hurts. Suddenly his face feels hot on one side, but freezing on the other. The world spins. Then it, like Jimin’s legs, freeze, too.  

Upon opening his eyes after he didn’t remember closing them, Jimin can see that Jungkook is still in front of him. But he’s facing him. And Jimin is no longer hanging onto his waist. He’s no longer hanging onto anything. He can’t feel his arms to tighten his grip—he can’t even feel his arms, move his fingers, reach out to Jungkook to see if he’s okay. Something covers his left eye from above, and suddenly, he can’t see out of it, so he keeps his right eye extra-open. He’s on grass. They are no longer moving.

Jungkook is talking to him, yelling at him, but his words are delayed and he sounds like he’s speaking to Jimin from underwater. Maybe that’s why he felt like he was floating? Maybe that’s why he feels the left side of his head is all wet, like it’s covered in… sticky water.

Jimin blinks, and when he opens his eyes again, Jungkook is crouching in front of him. He’s crying too, but he’s trying to wipe away Jimin’s tears away at the same time. When Jimin blinks again, Jungkook is standing as he yells into a phone, but the words are muffled still. Is he mad at Jimin? Where is his Ducati? He should ask.

“Hey, Jungkook?”

Jungkook drops the phone and falls in front of Jimin, looking so panicked. What happened? Maybe he should ask that instead? It hurts to move his mouth. His throat feels dry and takes more strength than he’d anticipated to get out a word.

“Are you okay?” Jimin asks, reaching up to wipe away his boyfriend’s tear.

“Yes, you’re okay,” Jungkook says, nodding. He moves faster than light and catches Jimin’s hand in his own before he makes it halfway. “You’re okay. It’s okay.”

Maybe he didn’t hear him correctly? Jimin tries again. “Jungkook, what happened?” His mouth tastes sour, but when he tries to swallow away the nasty feeling, he feels it caught in his throat. Jimin can still breath properly, even though it hurts, and he’ll use every breath to make sure Jungkook is okay.

“Yes!” Jungkook nods desperately. His tears drop faster. “Yes, it’s me, Jungkook. You’ll be okay. Just don’t try to move until the ambulance gets here, alright?”

Ambulance?

“Who got hurt?”

“I know it—” he hiccups, covering his mouth with his hand. “I know it hurts. Jesus— fuck! You’re losing so much blood,” he whispers, eyes quickly darting all over Jimin’s face. Why isn’t he answering Jimin’s questions?

Jungkook wipes away some of the hot, sappy water clogging Jimin’s vision. Or blood, apparently.

Jimin blinks again. His head hurts like hell now, but he can still hear Jungkook’s heart, louder and closer than ever. It’s almost like it’s in his head, not Jungkook’s chest. And Jungkook shines brighter than any star above him—when did he get above Jimin? He’s…literally shining. Jungkook is shining and the light grows larger around him at a constant rate until all he can see of his boyfriend is a blurry outline.

He blinks again. There are more people around him. Two of them he recognizes, but he can’t think of specific names, and even if he could, his throat hurts too much to call out to them. Suddenly Jimin feels scared. And hurt. He reaches for Jungkook’s hand, but his arms are made of lead. His eyelids start to feel the same.

“I love you, Jungkook,” Jimin says as he starts floating again. He doesn’t know why. It just felt like the right thing to say. Why does Jungkook look sadder?

A high-pitched ringing starts to blare louder than the beating in his head. Jungkook is getting further away. Jimin can only hope Jungkook says it back before he fades into nothing. Everything dissolves around Jimin. His head hurts. His heart hurts. He hopes Jungkook doesn't hurt as much as he does, but he, too, was crying. Jimin has never seen him cry before. Whatever happened must have been pretty bad if Jungkook is crying that hard.

A dark, seriously scary feeling rushes over Jimin. This is the last time he’ll ever see Jungkook. He’ll never get to see his stupid piercings again. He’ll never run a hand through his messy hair and get his fingers caught in the knots again. He’ll never get to smell that disgusting cigarette smoke or fan away the smell of beer or wipe off eyeliner that starts to smudge in too much heat. He won’t get to kiss those dry, unkempt lips. Jungkook will never hug Jimin from behind as he falls asleep. This might be the last time Jimin falls asleep at all, to the staggering beat of his own heart and the constant beep so heavily flooding his mind. He can’t think about anything but the rhythmic beat that loses its rhythm and becomes a constant monotone. He wonders when he’ll wake up from this dream.

And when I do, is Jungkook going to be there with me?

Chapter Text

There is a heartbeat. A dull, distant heartbeat playing on one of those hospital machines used to determine if someone is dead or not. It’s impossible to count the beats past about sixty because once Jungkook gets there, all he can think of is the minutes Jimin is wasting trapped in an ugly green gown, all the bandages being used for blood that shouldn't be spilling. Counting was the only way he could distract himself from all the horrible thoughts threatening to infiltrate his mind—thoughts of how it’s completely his fault that Jimin’s head is mummified in layers of bandages and how if he had just listened to Jimin and left him at home last night that’s where he would still be. It’s where he’s supposed to be at six in the morning, hidden under layers of blankets on top of his soft, extra bouncy mattress that Jungkook hates, not on a piece of foam barely as big as Jimin is. He should be in pajamas and have raging bedhead that Jungkook loves to tease him about, not a papery dress and what’s essentially a towel draped over his body to try to keep him warm. Even worse thoughts like how it should have been Jungkook instead, or someone completely unrelated, passed through his otherwise empty mind while he sat outside the room, leaning against the door.

He’s since left the stale building, but being further away doesn’t do anything to lessen the guilt he feels. He’s never felt like anything was his fault before, and now he’s being forced to face the facts with someone he met only months ago who had a greater impact on his life than planned.

When your parents make a living refurbishing homes, you move a lot. And when you move a lot, you learn not to get attached to a home, whether it’s the cities or the people. Jungkook almost let himself forget that last part. He almost meant all the things he entertained Jimin with. The talk of spending eternity with him, taking him with wherever he goes in the future. He almost meant it when he said they were unbreakable. But the word unbreakable is only as strong as the barriers in the way of trying to become invincible, which is what Jimin thought they were. Invincible. And Jungkook had been starting to believe they could be.

A slippery road and loose helmet proved dreadfully otherwise.

Moderate to severe head trauma, concussion, internal bleeding, amnesia, blurry or double vision, inability to focus, the internet tells him could be the possible outcomes from a head-on collision with hard dirt from the moderate speed they were going. It also says that had Jimin hit a tree, asphalt, or even a small rock, he wouldn’t have even made it to the E.R.

Jungkook wonders how long he should stay away, how long it’ll take for Jimin to miss him enough to forgive him without Jungkook having to get on his knees and beg for it. Hell, maybe he’s knocked into a coma and won’t even notice Jungkook hasn’t shown up with flowers. But he can’t bring him flowers because there’s no one working at the only flower shop today in this goddamn hole-in-the-wall place. Jungkook knows that if he does find a way to see him, be it through bringing flowers or otherwise, the part of him that wants to drop everything and spend forever with Jimin will overwhelm the part of him that knows it’s no good.

The doctors won’t tell him anything aside from Jimin’s conscious status which has been the same for hours. He’s “sleeping his way to a healthy recovery.” They won’t tell him how long that could be or how many more hours—days, even—he’ll be in the hospital. Apparently only the family has access to this information, and they’re probably hoping they can hang it over Jungkook’s head for what he did to their son.

As Jungkook yanks out his bike from the hedge he shoved it in to hide the night before, just in case someone would try to take away his most prized possession, he tries to convince himself that no matter what happened last night, they never would have lasted regardless. Not when Jungkook has every place to be that isn’t with Jimin, no future ahead of him, no motivation to work and make it possible to give Jimin the better life he deserves. He knew this coming into their relationship, but Jimin, with his mind-stunning, heart-thumping beauty, made him forget that he only has until the paint dries in his house before he’ll move God only knows where again. Without Jimin. Probably far away from Jimin.

Jungkook’s phone buzzes persistently, but he ignores it, continuing to roll his bike back to his house. He’s been ignoring calls from his dad all morning. He isn’t even aware that Jungkook was nearly responsible for the death of the boyfriend they liked more than their own son. It’s not something he could really bring up over a family dinner. Both of his dads were always so happy to see Jimin at their house whenever he came over, and they would dote on him like he was their own son, even pouting when Jungkook dragged him away when Jimin wanted to cuddle instead of whatever Jungkook had in mind.

Thankfully, when Jungkook finally digs his phone from his pocket, it isn’t a message telling him his boyfriend is dead. Unfortunately, it is from Jimin’s phone. Jungkook’s heart sinks to his stomach.

He’s breaking up with Jungkook over text. Of all the shitty ways they could have said goodbye, Jimin is telling him “it’s over” with some broken heart emojis.

Jimin woke up , the first text reads. Jungkook lets out a breath. It must be Jihyun. Shouldn’t he hate the guy who stole his brother and then threw him off his motorcycle? He said your name in his sleep. And the next, He’s awake now. Staff says you can’t come in yet. I’ll let you know when he’s released. Another text comes in as Jungkook finishes reading the previous ones. I’ll keep you updated. Hang on for a couple days, k? I’ll let you know if anything happens.

Jungkook rests the bike on its stand and starts to type. It’s hard to do when they keyboard is blurred through his tears, harder still to type over the drops before wiping off his phone with an already damp sleeve. Thanks. Sorry, is all Jungkook can say.

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.

Jungkook wants to ask why he cares about keeping him informed, but he drops it. He’d rather not have anything to do with Jimin’s family right now, especially his kiddish little brother. The last time he talked to Jihyun was to convince him that he was in no way hurting his older brother, and that the bruises lining Jimin’s collarbone weren’t hurting him. That had been during the only time they were caught making out at Jimin’s house and it was also the last because after that Jimin made a rule that if they were going anywhere further than a peck on the cheek, it would have to be in Jungkook’s house.

 

Going a day without Jimin isn’t as difficult as Jungkook imagined, which hurts him just as much as it makes him feel relieved. He’s either not going to miss Jimin when he leaves and therefore doesn’t have to worry about how he’ll find a way to move on without him—maybe start a dating hiatus—or he’s really just a lowlife asshole with even less feelings than he thought. Then everyone who slapped him in high school telling him so was right. The third conclusion, more desirable and less logical than the first two, is that he’s so hopeful Jimin will want to keep him after he wakes up that he doesn’t even care about the time he has to wait. The idea is a stretch for sure.

 

But two days pass, and he feels no different. Aside from the constant thumping in his heart and head, for once not from having the bass up too loud, Jungkook finds that he’s capable of being patient without going crazy. He’s never waited this long for anyone before.

 

On the third boyfriend-free day he hasn’t moved far from his dining room table, wondering how long it will be until he gets the next text from Jihyun on whether Jimin is on his way to recovery or if Jungkook fucked up worse than he thought. The thought stresses him so much that he’s made it almost to his last Ziploc of weed, but he won’t be able to restock until his supplier is out of holding.

 

Jungkook can live without Jimin. Fine. He’s accepted that by the fourth day. He’ll have to accept it whether Jimin forgives him after this or not when he moves anyways. He’s not staying in this awful place for longer than he needs to. What he can’t live with is the guilt of having put out such a radiant star a hundred years before the world was ready to let it go. God wouldn’t let Jimin die yet.

That night, Jungkook wakes up in a frenzy of fear and guilt from a nightmare he had where Jimin fell off his bike and he hit the ground tumbling. The scariest part was waking up and realizing it wasn’t a dream. Not knowing the outcome is even scarier. It leaves him waking up sweating with a tear-soaked pillow. Both of his dads run into his room with worried, pitying looks. He hasn’t told them anything so they have no way of knowing about Jimin. Jimin’s parents have never reached out to Jungkook’s, despite him being a constant in their son’s life. No one really does. No one has a reason to come by the torn up homes they buy for cheap, sell for more than they’re worth, and leave after a short period of time to find their next project.

 

After five days Jungkook decides he is not going to worry about Jimin because whatever will happen will happen, and he doesn’t need the constant reminder of his biggest fuckup so far weighing him down and ruining his mood all the time. His posture starts failing, and he finds it hard to move from the living room until his dad stops letting him slouch on the couch watching South Park and tells him he needs to either go outside for some fresh air, away from sawdust and the smell of spackle, or help him rewire the master bathroom light fixture. That day Jungkook quickly learns how not to connect a ground wire and short circuit the whole upstairs, and that he’s not a handyman like his fathers.

 

It’s been six days and Jihyun hasn’t texted him shit. Maybe he really doesn’t care if Jungkook knows what’s happening to his brother and the messages last week were to get Jungkook excited, make him anxious, put him through not even half of what Jihyun himself must be feeling. Jungkook still stares at his phone for an hour, not leaving the home screen, waiting for anything that would tell him where Jimin is.

 

Seven days. A week without Jimin. Jungkook is out of psychedelics. He’s out of anything that could get him buzzed. His parents haven’t been out of the house to buy any alcohol to keep away Jungkook’s sobriety. The longer he stays sober, the closer he comes to accepting that Jimin isn’t going to come back into his life. He still won’t tell his dads what’s going on, why he refuses to eat much and won’t even go for a ride to breathe in fresh air. They’re concerned that the paint fumes are going to get to his head. Painting is one of the last things they do when they finish a house. It’s almost time to move again.

 

Day eight of being alone and wondering has Jungkook seated in front of his parents, looking down at the makeshift dining room table between them and avoiding two pairs of accusing eyes. The high school woodshop project replica Jungkook threw together was his only contribution to the house. It’s uneven and haphazardly held together with wood glue, but there was no point in getting fancy with something beyond some scrapped two-by-fours and a few of the nails strewn about the floor. Compared to the rest of the house now that they’ve been working on it for months, it looks shitty and out of place. It’s the only thing that stands out in what’s become a beautiful, livable home compared to the dump it was when they bought it.

The space between Jungkook and two concerned faces seems to grow smaller the longer they stare. Now Jungkook can sort of understand what Jimin must go through, to some extent, when he’s taken home late and lectured. Jungkook’s chair squeaks below him as he shifts from one side to the other repeatedly, and he finds it hard to think of anything to say to fill the gaps between. His hands shake below the table so that he doesn’t flip it and walk out of the room. If he’s like this after hardly a week without Jimin, how was he expecting to say goodbye forever?

“Jungkook,” his dad’s voice cuts through the silence. Hoseok has never been the most outspoken or straightforward of the two, always letting Yoongi say his part first because Yoongi has always been better with words, so it surprises Jungkook that he’s the first to say something. Jungkook looks past him. “Would you stop tapping your foot? It’s giving Yoongi anxiety.”

Jungkook freezes. He didn’t realize he was doing that. He doesn’t even notice the table shaking until he stops. They never sit down to have “family discussion” bullshit. No one can blame Jungkook for being on edge when he knows he’ll have to talk about Jimin. He doesn’t want to talk about Jimin because then he’ll be tempted to expose how he really feels, and he’s never been one for discussing his feelings with family because he’s never had to before.

“He’s lying,” Yoongi says calmly. “Hoseok is the one who dropped a can of paint on his foot because he was shaking from seeing you act so weird.”

“I didn’t!”

Yoongi looks pointedly at Jungkook, making him feel small despite being significantly taller than Yoongi, even when sitting. One too many times has Jungkook felt like using his height for his advantage when it came to swaying his dad in his favor for important decisions or for things like getting out of trouble, but every time the idea crosses his mind he’s stomped it out because despite barely being taller than Jimin, he can be intimidating enough to make up for the three-centimeter gap tenfold.

“Ignore your father,” Yoongi says. Hoseok may have kicked him under the table from the way Yoongi winces, and Yoongi may have kicked him back. It’s hard to tell from where Jungkook sits, and even harder when he’s unable to focus his eyes on anything but nothing in the distance, but whatever they do passes quickly and they’re back to facing Jungkook, their full attention on their problematic son who hasn’t seen sunlight in more than a week and is starting to break out on his face from lack of movement and proper nutrition.

“Kook,” Yoongi starts again once he has Jungkook’s attention. “Did you finally break up with him? Is that all that’s happening?”

If Jungkook didn’t know Yoongi, didn’t know that he means no harm in brushing off Jimin like he’s another one of Jungkook’s flings, he’d be mad enough to really flip the table on this conversation and run out the door. But as far as they know, as far as Jungkook knew until he fucked everything up and nearly killed him, Jimin is just another empty “I love you.” He’s just another promise unkept that they’ll leave behind like the bent nails and half-dried gallons of paint.

Jungkook looks away from them, inhales, and doesn’t let out a breath for a whole minute while his parents stare at him, tapping his foot again. How bad would it really be if he stormed out right now? Would they then take him seriously enough not to treat this like something he’s been through before?

Is that all that’s happening? All that’s happening is Jungkook’s losing it.

“If you wait an hour or two, we’ll be done with the upstairs loft and we can go to the beach or something. Brighten your spirits?” Hoseok must be high on paint fumes and parenting books.

“No matter what you’re caught up in, we can help,” Yoongi says. “You need to talk to us, though, for us to help. Well…” Yoongi turns to Hoseok, then back to Jungkook, a solemn expression on his face. “Excluding meth. We can’t help with that,” he laughs suddenly, and the mood brightens slightly with his carefree attitude. “If you get hooked on that stuff you’re fucked—

“Yoongi, he’s not on meth!” Hoseok butts in.

“Right, how could I forget? That’s your problem,” he says playfully. Jungkook braces himself for an off-topic argument that’s going to make him wait another hour before he can get a word in. It’s usually entertaining, but not when Jungkook’s sanity is on the line.

“Are you referring to that one time you came into the kitchen and thought the flour on my nose was drugs? And then asked why I didn’t share?”

“You say it was flour.”

“Isn’t cocaine the one that looks like flour, anyways?”

Yoongi shrugs. It’s like they’ve forgotten their son is two feet away and dealing with the worst issues he’s had since puberty was kicking his ass. “You say it’s been eleven years since you fucked around with that stuff—”

Hoseok jumps up to cover Yoongi’s mouth as if it would corrupt Jungkook to hear that, like they suddenly remember he exists and is having a quarter life crisis unfold in front of their eyes. He’s that kind of parent. The kind that views it more as a duty to raise Jungkook well rather than enjoy the experience. Where one would usually hide alcohol, Hoseok hides parenting books. (Where one would usually keep parenting books, i.e. a shelf in the living room, that’s where Jungkook has found things he wishes he didn’t know they had in their house.) He had to meet the parents of every friend Jungkook hung out with in middle school and high school until Yoongi told him he was embarrassing him too. It’s like sometimes he’s a condensed balloon of anxiety waiting to pop.

This was what Yoongi told him when the first time they met. It showed when Jungkook’s birth parents met the duo for the first time over coffee and adoption papers. Hoseok seemed calm, calmer than Yoongi, until they were walking away and Hoseok dropped the professionalism and had a breakdown in the parking lot over whether or not he screwed up in front of them.

The Hoseok of ten years ago and the Hoseok in front of him with a fist in Yoongi’s sleeve are identical, save for the fact that he’s grown slightly more lax with Jungkook’s dating habits.

Jungkook almost resents how the bummer mood lifts completely, wanting to brood more than see his dads fail at being serious for two minutes straight. But that’s the thing about Hoseok and Yoongi—they wouldn’t be able to keep their heads on if Jungkook wasn’t there to throw things or slam doors and remind them that they have a teenage son, like that somehow keeps things together. They’ve told him before that that’s why they adopted him. That it makes everything a little more settled in their home, and the day he moves out they’re going to stop pretending they’d rather watch American football than Real Housewives.

Jungkook coughs to get their attention again. If he doesn’t have to be here, then he won’t be. It’s been a long time since he’s been to the hospital to attempt a check-up on Jimin. Each day he goes by without a text from Jihyun makes him wonder if he’s hiding something, like Jimin has already left for home and forgotten about him. Or maybe he’s been forced to cut communication with him. Sitting at a broken table with his parents making middle school-humor jokes is on the bottom of Jungkook's list of Things To Do When Your Boyfriend Could Be Dead.

“Sorry,” Hoseok tries. “What is it about? Would you want to talk about it over some burgers and a Christian Slater movie?”

“I don’t need a pick-me-up,” Jungkook snaps at his attempt to be funny. He knows they’re just trying to help him, and bringing Jungkook’s confidential crush into the picture is supposed to make him feel better, but he can’t help but feel worse for himself. He’s their son that they love to the moon and sun and back eight times over, who they’d die for (and maybe even give up their hard-copies of the first five seasons of Charlie’s Angels for, but that’s still up for debate), but sometimes it seems like they couldn't tell him apart from any other kid.

With the silence after his rude tone that left Hoseok and Yoongi unable to say anything, everything starts to annoy Jungkook, and the fact that he’s annoyed annoys him even more, because how the hell is he this annoyed over a boy? His breakups are something his parents are just as accustomed to as he is. They used to place bets on how long it would take for him to get slapped for being a dick, then on how many days it would take for them to come back to Jungkook with flowers and beg to be let back into his life. Dating is a game that he’s played way too often, too well until now to let the result of one loss affect him this much. And it’s conditioned not only him but his parents into thinking it couldn’t be anything more than that. Jungkook always left without a kiss and with a different number, wishing his exes the best and leaving them to continue their lives without him. They didn’t have staying power. Nothing kept Jungkook coming back for them, not the constant reminders of how much they loved each other or the empty promises of reunion that never came. But the worst part of the shitshow in his head is that it isn’t just his emotions that make him teem with impatience. Everything around him seems like it’s trying to make him more confused, more frustrated with himself.

The smell of wet paint now smells like chemicals burning his brain through his nose, the distant humming of flickering lights that barely serve purpose until they’re rewired block out every other sound, the small slivers of wood that peel up off the edges of the makeshift table make him want to rip up the entire project and throw it out a window then burn what’s left but having a giant pile of shitty wood in their yard would annoy him too. And his annoying Ducati that fucked up everything for him to begin with is sitting in the yard already. Instead of literally flipping the table, he picks at the peeling wood and waits for someone else to talk.

“Jungkook, darling, listen,” Hoseok says, trying hard to ignore the cringe and scoff at the distasteful nickname. “We’ll be out of here by Monday night and you won’t have to worry about whatever happened between you two anymore.” He looks over at Yoongi, who is also picking a the table. When he looks up at Hoseok and sees him smiling softly, his face light up as well as Hoseok’s. They look a little too excited for the situation they’re facing.

“We sold the house already!” Yoongi says proudly. “The real estate company who bought it signed last night while you were sleeping on the couch.”

To this, Jungkook has no response. It’s obvious they both want him to be happy, not for them, but for himself so he doesn’t have to worry about Jimin anymore. Yet he can’t find himself able to manage a smile.

“How long ago did you know you had a buyer? I—I thought you were off the market for at least another couple weeks,” Jungkook says, visibly trying to keep his voice from shaking.

Yoongi glances at Hoseok, then says, “Last week they contacted us saying someone called them about a newly remodeled three-bedroom house in a friendly neighborhood. Just a little bit before Jimin stopped coming over.”

Jungkook cringes.

“And they were so excited after seeing the pictures we sent, they were willing to leave their jurisdiction to come see it!” Hoseok adds, and Jungkook wishes he could find it in him to be happy for them.

Seeing his reaction, or lack thereof, Hoseok reaches out to cover Jungkook’s hand from tearing the entire table apart sliver by sliver. He’s not going to clean up the pieces he’s throwing on the floor. Jungkook slides back and folds his arms.

“We would have told you yesterday had we thought it would matter this much to you. But we’ve all been through hard breakups, so we understand where you’re coming from.”

“It wasn’t just a break up,” Jungkook admits, laughing at how pitiful it feels to say it out loud. “It was a fuckup. I fucked up bad, Dad.” Jungkook slams his hand on the wood, shaking the table. “ I’m a fuckup! I fucked up, and now he’s fucked up and bandaged up! Is it—” Jungkook stands abruptly, forcing his chair back until it hits the counter behind him and falls over. “Is it selfish to still want him after this?” Jungkook looks back and forth between his parents, trying his damndest to hold back the anger boiling up inside him. “I almost fucking killed him, Dad! In fact, he could actually be dead! And—And now I’m expected to just vanish from this hellhole without time to fix things?” Jungkook can feel his body starting to let go of all self restraint as he digs his fingers so hard into the table it starts to splinter even more beneath them.

“There’s something you’re not telling us” Yoongi says, voice stern.

“Like how you didn’t tell me we’re moving again already?

“Well it’s not like some cute kid has ever given you a reason to stay before,” he says in a raised voice. Hoseok looks like he’s racking his brain to remember what his parenting handbooks had said to do in this sort of situation.

“He’s not just a cute kid!” Jungkook argues. “I love him! No,” Jungkook stops Yoongi from interrupting, “Not like I ‘loved’ Yujin, or Namjoon, or Taehyung, or Siyeon or…” He takes a breath. “Jimin is… He’s...”

The tension in the air seems to dissipate with his words, but Jungkook still isn’t cooled down enough to let Yoongi say anything more on the matter. After Jungkook recovers the chair he sent flying, the three of them are sitting around the table again. It’s surprising it hasn’t collapsed under the thickness of the air between them.

“Jimin is the kind of beautiful that people like me would want to see break. But I don’t want to be the one who does that to him.”

“So, you want to stay? Is that what you’re telling us?” Hoseok, who hasn’t spoken since Jungkook lashed out, speaks up. The thought being offered isn’t something he’s considered before. But it’s not like Hoseok could be serious. He continues, “You want to stay in a cold, tiny, unfamiliar place with people who hate you, stare at you, and wouldn’t want you near their daughters and sons or any of their children, just for Jimin?”

The familiar words carry a different weight when his own father is the one saying them. Knowing their son is a beacon of trouble to the whole town is one thing, but admitting it in front of him, it shows Jungkook just how deep of a hole he dug for himself.

“Because if so,” Hoseok continues, reaching across the table with his sleeve to wipe away the faint wetness forming under Jungkook’s eyes, “We won’t make you pack up just yet. You should go see him now. Or, try to see him, though it seems you haven’t been very lucky with that. But if this is what you want,” he checks on Yoongi, who is staring at him with the same distant look with which Hoseok looks at Jungkook, “We’ll help you get a life started here. But it would take all of the funds and living expenses we’ve saved for you—”

“I want that more than anything!” Jungkook shoots up from his chair again, sending it into the counter again. Yoongi cringes at the impact. He just painted that.

Jungkook ,” Hoseok says. “Let me finish?”

Jungkooks gathers the chair again and sits down.

“We’ve already bought the next house, thinking about our future and stuff,” he says slowly, making sure Jungkook catches every word clearly. “Somewhere far away and different. A place like no where you’ve ever been to before.”

“Okay…”

“We took into consideration that ‘big change’ you’ve always wanted. You know, never settling in one spot.”

 

“Once we’ve moved out of this crappy place and settled.”

“I never want to settle in one place.”

 

“Okay…”

“Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes. But I don’t think I can be anywhere Jimin isn’t, no matter how many hours away.” Sure, it’ll be hard, at first, to live far from his parents for the first time in his life, but he’s an adult. He has an education and ambitions and someone he loves more than anyone anchoring him to this place. “Maybe I can take Jimin to visit on my bike!” he offers. He’s unsure where the sudden burst of optimism comes from, but he’s glad it does, otherwise he might still be slouching and crying over something he can’t do anything to change at this point.

“This isn’t somewhere you can just hop on a bike and ride to,” Yoongi says.

“What, why? Did you pick a place in the middle of the ocean, or…?”

“More like across.”

“O-Oh.” Jungkook sinks into the chair. “ Oh ,” he breathes again. The optimism vanishes and is soon replaced by a sick, hopeless feeling that he hasn’t felt since the night of the accident. The familiar feeling makes him want to vomit, and at the same time curl up and cry. But also hold Jimin. The want to have him here to guide him through this—this avalanche-sized information overwhelms the part of him that wants to be left alone to cry.

“Jungkook? Don’t cry—”

“I’m not! I’m…I’m fine. I know what I want.”

“You don’t have to decide this second—”

Jungkook nods. “I want Minni.”

Hoseok and Yoongi exchange a worried, yet somehow understanding glance that only a parent can have. “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely!” The chair goes flying again as he stands. Jungkook wants Jimin. Of this, he’s absolutely, undeniably, doubtlessly sure.

“Then stop denting our walls and go find him,” Hoseok says, nodding to Jungkook’s keys on the counter behind him. Jungkook doesn’t hesitate. He wants to yell and cuss Jimin out for coming into his life like this and making him want to throw away his own interests to give Jimin what he wants. He wishes it was as easy to slam a door on someone’s existence as it is to slam his front door closed behind him. He’s back on the bike Jimin hates so goddamn much within a second of the door slamming.

Fuck that Jungkook has never maintained a connection. He wants Jimin. Everything in Jungkook is screaming at him to keep this one around, not dump him like the fling he was supposed to be. Jimin represents everything Jungkook hoped to take away from this shit place, and he hates him for it. He hates that he meant everything he said that night, from I hate the way you make me feel like boxing in my own interests to accommodate yours to how he loves Jimin. From I hate how exposed and you make me feel in my own skin to asking Jimin to marry him. Even if he didn’t know it at the time, Jungkook meant that he wanted to make Jimin his husband. Not just for that night, but forever.

As he gets closer to the hospital, Jungkook realizes how much he wouldn’t mind waking up to Jimin’s beauty, unbroken, untainted no matter what Jungkook put him through or made him feel.

Despite his hands sweating so hard he worries about holding his grip, despite his shaking feet trying to find a hold, and despite the inside of his helmet fogging up so bad from Jungkook’s tears, he manages to make it to the hospital safely. No, he hadn’t learned his lesson about taking corners slower. Not even when he passed the Jimin-shaped trail on some random asshole’s lawn and felt a pang of guilt did he slow down or tighten his helmet.

By the time he parks his bike just outside the main entrance, Jungkook’s phone buzzes again. As he throws open the doors, he realizes it’s from Jimin’s phone.

Jimin’s dead, flashes on the screen. Jungkook blinks once and it’s gone, the message still unopened. Jimin says he hates you. Don’t come. Jungkook blinks again, and the text disappears. Lack of sleep can really fuck with the brain, he discovers, as he sees that the text hasn’t even been opened yet.

Jungkook has barely made it past the doorway into the waiting room before deciding he doesn’t want to see what it says. He shouldn’t have to hear about it from Jimin’s little brother. It’s time the doctors tell him what’s happening, because there is no reason he has less of a right to know what’s happening to someone he…someone he cares about more than anyone. Dozens of ways to convince the nurses to finally let him see Jimin rush through his head, but none that he hasn’t tried before. His chest tightens to a point where he has to focus on each individual breath just to keep breathing until he reaches the front desk, preventing him from managing anything past a desperate look to the man sitting at the computer. There is no one else in this stale, pale green room. No one is waiting on the shiny leather couches or in line by the desk to talk to the only man sitting behind the counter, and he seems to be the only staff in the area. So why the fuck does it take him so long to acknowledge Jungkook ?

Jungkook clears his throat. The man doesn’t look at him, but he does nod in his direction.

“Are you here visiting someone?” he asks coolly, as if every goddamn nurse in this building doesn’t know exactly who he is and exactly the aggravation they’re putting him through for absolutely no reason. When Jungkook’s only response is a frustrated sigh, he continues in a quieter, less cheery voice, “You won’t find Jimin here.”

The words make Jungkook’s heart drop to his stomach, then to the floor. His mind goes numb, and all he can think of to say is, “What the hell does that—!” Jungkook pauses just before his hand comes in fatal contact with the marble counter. The man looks terrified now that his attention is fully on Jungkook. Jungkook swallows hard. “Is he… Did Minni…”

“Visiting hours for friends and extended family end early on Sundays , just so you know.” He carries out the last words slowly like he’s telling Jungkook something taboo. Then he swivels in his chair to his keyboard, overlooking the fact Jungkook is still in front of him on the verge of a breakdown.

Sunday. It’s Sunday? Already? It’s Sunday… Oh.

Jungkook bolts back out the glass doors, smashes the home button on his phone, and nearly passes his bike in his rush. the time reads five minutes to eleven o'clock. Five minutes until Jimin crosses the church lawn to his family's car and goes back home.

Hoseok had said they were leaving on Monday, which means they’re moving tomorrow. Which means that no matter what Jimin thinks of him, Jungkook won’t have time to change it. That scares him so, so much.

“Shit,” Jungkook mumbles as he struggles to fit his helmet on his head and start up the bike. “Shit shit shit !” If he can meet Jimin there before he goes back home, he won’t have to face him alone at home. It’s safe to guess that Jimin won’t be back at work for while if the amount of blood and how far he tumbled was anything to go by, so he won't be able to guarantee seeing Jimin away from his family until next week.

Jungkook flies past half the town within a minute, rushing reach to the church on time. The residential area makes up the largest portion and has the most streets, and next to the last row of houses to the east is the main “downtown” area. It’s sad and dull and doesn’t have much besides the basic necessities of the few thousand people that live in the area. Jungkook likes to spend minimal time there. Just past the last building, the flower shop Jimin has worked at for two years, is a bit of undeveloped land, and then there’s the pool where he noticed Jimin staring at him for the first time. Next is the cemetery, which stretches all the way to the border of the town, and across from it is the church.

The front doors open just as Jungkook falls off his bike in his hurry. He parks it next to the grass just as Jimin’s little brother stands out amongst a growing crowd of people dressed in mostly white and pastels. Then he sees Jimin and freezes. Jimin is holding his mother’s hand as he leans slightly towards her with each step. Even under his slacks, the bulge of a bandage around his upper left thigh is apparent. That’s something Jungkook didn’t expect. Then, he also couldn’t have expected to see him in such good condition, or in any condition at all, for that matter.

Jungkook’s heart swells as he grips the railing at the bottom of the stairs to keep himself from running against the crowd and tackling Jimin into the ground with a hug. Jihyun sees him but makes no attempt to point Jimin his way. Could this be anything but bad?

So many thoughts and regrets and memories race through his mind so fast that even after the drive here it leaves Jungkook dizzy. He never meant to kiss Jimin. He never meant for what they had to mean this much. He sees Jimin again at the same time Jimin sees him. His brother stops first, then his dad, and then he and his mom stop in front of Jungkook. Jimin looks as healthy and level headed and short and shining as ever minus a fading bruise on his cheekbone and the limp in his walk.

“Minni.” Jungkook manages a smile when Jimin doesn’t scoff or brush past him. This is the best Jungkook has felt since Jimin asked him to marry him. His mom won’t look at Jungkook. His dad takes Jihyun to the car, and Jimin just stares. “Jimin I’m so—”

“Sorry,” Jimin interrupts, frowning. He looks Jungkook up and down, a blank expression on his face, then a forced smile as he says, “What was your name?” He smiles sheepishly and looks between his mother and Jungkook, expecting someone to say something. Chief Park speaks before Jungkook can ask even one of the questions burning on his tongue.

“Sorry, he’s still recovering from, um,” she gives Jungkook an accusatory look telling him how much of a piece of shit he is for giving her son whatever terrible diagnosis he has, “Retrograde amnesia. It isn’t a simple issue.” Then, she quickly changes the subject before Jungkook has enough time to let it sink in that a simple rejection or welcome won’t be as easy to get from Jimin. It was what Jungkook was banking on by rushing here. “I heard your parents finally sold the house, is this true?” Despite the way she stumbles over the word parents , she says this in a friendly, knowing tone, that sets something off in Jungkook. She says this like she has any right to know what’s going on in Jungkook’s house right now.

Jungkook nods despite the discomfort, not taking his eyes off Jimin. If Jungkook didn’t know him so well, he might miss the slight fear in Jimin’s eyes as he avoids Jungkook’s.

“I’m glad,” she continues. “When I called the real estate company to let them know there would be an empty house in the area, I never expected they would have closed a deal so soon.”

You did that?”

Because of course she’d somehow find a way to fuck Jungkook’s life over even more. Of course it had to be her, Jimin’s mother, who sends Jungkook’s mind places he never knew it’d visit before today happened. If Jimin can’t remember who Jungkook is by now, how is he ever going to rekindle the same love they had before? And with his own mother, and whole town, really, against the idea of the two of them being together, would it really be easy to bring Jimin back to him?

And am I really willing to risk it all for him if he won’t love me back?

Jimin’s weight suddenly shifts to lean against his mother, his leg seeming to give out from standing still for too long. He looks uneasy and uncomfortable. Jungkook did this to him.

“Let’s get you home, okay, Jimin?”

Jimin nods. He walks right past Jungkook.

“Have a safe move,” she says over her shoulder.

“I have no choice, do I?” Jungkook whispers. He stays cemented to the ground. Somewhere above the sound of his own unsteady heartbeat, Jungkook can hear Jimin whisper to his mother asking “who that was.” He doesn’t hear what her response is.

Jungkook turns back to his bike just then, so he misses when Jimin falters, swinging his head around and watching Jungkook drag himself onto the seat. Jungkook misses the absolute longing in Jimin’s gaze as he sets his helmet on his head, not bothering to secure it completely. It’s an undeniably stupid idea, considering that the last time he left a loose helmet on someone’s head it almost killed him, but Jungkook has had a long enough life to figure out that he’s doubtlessly the worst decision-maker. Jungkook is already on his way back to his house to pack, and he doesn’t know that the last image Jimin will have of him is with his back turned. He leaves too soon to see the hesitant look on Jimin’s face as he gets into his car or hear his sigh when he finally closes the door.

Deciding it would only be fair, when he parks his bike, he reaches into his pocket for his phone to delete all memories from his phone that he has of Jimin. He erases every picture he took of Jimin working at the flower shop. He erases pictures of Jimin holding puppies at the daycare, of Jimin kissing puppies, of puppies kissing Jimin. He erases Jimin’s sleeping face, his bedhead, of Jungkook kissing his bedhead. He erases pictures of his lips pressed sweetly against his own, and all the pictures where the love in their eyes is visible even on the small screen. He erases all of their conversations, and lastly, his contact information. Before doing so, he doesn’t get the chance to read the last text he received from Jihyun that reads:

 

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

Chapter Text

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.