Fate. Destiny. Some believe such notions exist, while others believe such things are utter nonsense.
Nevertheless, they are two incredible forces at play. Sometimes fates—destinies—can change. Contrary to popular belief, not everything is set in stone, but these two forces still exist in great power, molding things to their own whims. The universe likes to show this in interesting, sometimes questionable, ways.
Some say the universe hates us. Some say it treats everyone equally. When tragedy strikes somewhere far away, we are in awe of how lucky we are. When tragedy strikes close to home, we are in mourning for how the world seems to be against us.
Maybe the universe does want us to be happy. There are dozens of success stories and supposed miracles to support that. But there are also dozens of tragedies that go against it.
In a world of broken dreams and broken people, strange, unexplainable phenomenons occur. One time there was a girl who leapt through time. In this one, something arguably stranger occurs that links our two protagonists together.
Perhaps it was an act out of pity. Or a chance for change. The two didn’t know what they were meant to do with this strange discovery until it was almost too late.
It starts like any normal day for a person named Jeon Jeongguk. If only he were Jeongguk.
The stale coldness of the room wakes Taehyung up shivering. His face contorts into a grimace as he stretches his limbs trying to get the sleepiness out of his body. He usually sleeps curled up in a blanket. Or with his dog on top of him. But the warmth is missing from his body and he sighs, moving to lay on his side.
He feels odd.
He moves his hands around the bed, not yet opening his eyes, still feeling the drowsy effects of the morning.
That’s peculiar. Soonshim should have been beside him if he wasn’t lying on Taehyung—or licking his face. He feels tiredness seep into him again before he can question it further. He curls in on himself, fighting the cold while rubbing his shoulders. A few blissful minutes of silence pass before an alarm sounds sends him shooting off the bed, finally opening his eyes.
What greets him is not his own room. He stares at his surroundings in shock.
He doesn’t see his BigBang poster placed across his bed (guardian angels, he tells Yoongi when he asks if it’s weird to have them watch him sleep). He sees a plain desk with textbooks and paper scattered about with various writing and art utensils that aren’t his.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
He doesn’t see his own desk to his right holding his collection of Nintendo DS games and small library of books. He sees a dresser—clothes that aren’t his sticking out and a textbook hanging precariously on the edge of it.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
He blinks. To his left is a window, but he doesn’t see his dream catchers or his favorite photo of him, Yoongi, Holly, and Soonshim. He sees an unfamiliar city and small figurines of Iron Man and these characters from some game he doesn’t know.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
There’s no aroma of breakfast from his grandma. Instead, he smells the cold, stale air and a wisp of the sea.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
He blinks once. Beep. And once again—Beep. Where is that stupid alarm!—before he’s furiously looking for the phone to shut if off. The room quiets into an eerie silence when he silences the damn thing. And then the panic starts sinking in.
Oh my god what am I doing in another house? Was I kidnapped? Where am I? Who’s phone was that? Where is Soonshimmie? What if I’m being murdered, oh my god what am I-?
He screams and yelps when he doesn’t recognize his own scream. He brings a hand to his mouth and screams again when it’s not his hands he’s seeing.
He scrambles from the unfamiliar bed and stumbles to the dresser and opens it, finding a mirror there. He stares at himself.
It’s not him.
Who the fuck is staring back at him? It’s certainly not him —Kim Taehyung. He does not have black hair nor does he think he has that much muscle. He doesn’t have big, brown, doe eyes or an equally big nose.
He moves his hand to the right. Then to the left. And the mirrored version does as well. He makes the ugliest face at himself, watching the doe eyes he sees in the mirror widen, his own but not his, and his big nose scrunches up, small lips opening a smudge to bare his teeth.
Everything is mirrored back at him, and Taehyung is starting to feel the panic again at full force. He’s breathing too hard trying to process the information and he’s shaking, shudders rippling through his entire body and he's stumbling backwards, away from the mirror, and he feels like he can’t breathe, he can’t breathe, he can’t—
This is all a dream. This is all a dream. Right. This is what’s happening and that’s the only way Taehyung can really wrap his head around this. It’s not like he doesn’t believe this could happen. It’s just never happened to him before, and to be frank, it’s unnerving and new and scary. He’s dreaming. That explains it.
That explains it, but why is it so hard for him to believe? Everything feels so real and nothing is making sense. Nothing makes sense, it should be a dream, but why he can’t change anything? He pinches himself and frowns at the slight sting. Shouldn’t that have woken him up?
He sits back down on the bed and breathes out a sigh, calming his racing heart. Not his but whoever’s body he’s in during this strange dream or whatever this is. He supposes he should just go along with it. Ride it out. He’s usually known to take these types of things in stride. And he will. He will. Nothing bad could happen, right? He tries to think through this optimistically.
And okay, wow, maybe he should be more appreciative in this dream because damn does he have muscles now. He flexes and feels his biceps and is pleasantly surprised when he lifts his shirt and finds abs—not his soft tummy, which he doesn't mind it's just—abs. He's partially glad that no one seems to be around because he's sure he looks really fucking weird running a hand on his own thigh muscles and up his abs in a totally non-sexual way.
After that shameless moment, he takes this moment to look at his surroundings once more.
The first thing that hits him is the stillness of it all. There are distant noises of traffic outside of the window, but nothing else. It feels lonely. In Taehyung’s own home there would be noise everywhere; his entire family would be up and about. His grandma would be cooking breakfast, and his little sister would have woken him up, not an alarm on his phone. Soonshim would be beside him or at the edge of his bed, and he’d have his collection of BigBang merchandise and assortment of astronomy materials to greet him in the morning.
Here, it seems as if he’s the only one alive. He wonders if this person has any family, or if he’s old enough to be living by himself.
He startles when the phone beeps next to him on the bed. Panic flairs at him again when it hits him that what if this isn’t a dream and he is someone else and there are people who know that someone else, and not him, and he knows—he knows —this is not something he should be taking seriously, this is a dream , but Taehyung is known for taking things a little too far sometimes, and how is he supposed to pretend to be someone he’s not, who he doesn’t even know besides the fact that he’s cute and likes Iron Man and-
The phone beeps again and Taehyung groans into hands that aren’t his.
It’s going to be a long day.
Taehyung learns this person’s name is Jeongguk, and he has a friend named Yugyeom.
(The text was from a contact named ‘✧ yugyeomie ✧’ and the “GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE JEON JEONGGUK BEFORE I SET YOUR APARTMENT ON FIRE,, I’m N oT GOING TO BE LATE BECAUSE OF YOUR SORRY ASS AGAIN” kind of explained it for him.)
He managed to stumble around the dresser until he found the section with what looked like school uniforms and shrugged one on before he made his way outside of the apartment building stuffing a muffin in his mouth and typing a text to this ‘yugyeomie.’
He was shoved into a train before he could even blink.
(“Just because Jimin is in university now doesn’t mean I have to wake your sorry ass up everyday Guk.”)
Yugyeom was an interesting character. He talked for most of the train ride, grumbling about how they were almost late to class, but he kept a cheerful tone afterwards. If he noticed Taehyung’s unusual silence, he didn’t comment. He did, however, ask why he suddenly spoke in a different dialect, to which Taehyung just shrugged and remained quiet. He did hug him goodbye once they separated to their own classes (Taehyung was glad that Yugyeom walked him to his class or he would’ve been left floundering in the hallways) and expressed concern for him oversleeping so much. Jeongguk and Yugyeom seemed close. From that alone, Taehyung decided he liked him.
He managed to go through his classes without causing much of a fuss, besides forgetting that his name is Jeongguk and not Taehyung. That caused a lot of irritated teachers, but he eventually got used to it. He couldn’t help but speak in his own dialect, and got confused whenever someone spoke a phrase he didn’t know, but that couldn't be fixed easily.
The panic lessens as the day goes, and he talks a little more to the people around him, to Yugyeom and one of their other friends, Hoseok. He was older than Taehyung, and Jeongguk—who he learns is in the same grade as him—already out of high school, and they made plans to eat out after dance practice. Taehyung skillfully faked an upset stomach and leg cramps, and watched in awe while they danced at the studio. They knew something was up, and Taehyung could tell by the way they looked at him whenever he asked a question that he should’ve known, but they didn’t say anything and took Taehyung’s constant praises in stride.
This is a really nice dream, he concludes. It’s nice to be someone else for a change. He faintly recalls wishing for something like this before, but he the thought is lost as soon as they mention food.
He’s eating now at a small cafe with Yugyeom and Hoseok, each almost finished with their own food and proposing plans for another practice. He knew they were growing more suspicious by the second, but since this was a dream, Taehyung didn’t really care much anymore. And, since he wasn’t going to regret this later, he decided to get the most expensive thing on the menu, which led to Hoseok almost snorting the tea he was drinking. Just as his order had arrived, his phone goes off in his pocket, and he almost bites his tongue in surprise.
He pulls it out warily and sees a name and a face he had yet to see that day.
“Who’s Jimin?” He accidentally blurts out, and Yugyeom and Hoseok both give him an incredulous look.
“Guk, okay, I wasn’t going to say anything, but what the fuck is up with you?” Yugyeom asks first, leaning over to touch his forehead. “Jimin’s, like, your best friend aside from Hobi and me. Did you like, get amnesia or something? Are you getting Alzheimer’s this early in the game? You’re barely 18!”
“No! Yugyeom, please, I did not develop a memory problem, I swear to your delicious caramel latte that I am okay. And I remember now! I was just, thinking of, uh, the other Jimin I know. Yeah, sure. Just—sorry, I’ve been very bleh all day. Must’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed,” Taehyung says hurriedly. Yugyeom is about to say something, but Taehyung cuts him off by answering his phone.
“Hey… Jimin?” Taehyung tries to say casually.
“Don’t hey Jimin me! You even left the hyung out again, brat,” a sweet, but irritated voice says on the other side. “Where are you? Did something happen? Are you okay?”
“What? Yeah, I’m alright Jimin-hyung. Why wouldn’t I be?” Taehyung says, confusion dripping off his voice.
“Jeongguk! You have a shift right now! Be here in ten minutes or you’re fired.”
“Hyung wait—hyung!”, before Taehyung could finish his reply, Jimin hangs up, and the line goes silent. He stares at his meal with sadness laced in his eyes. He guesses he won’t be able to finish this now.
Yugyeom and Hoseok were looking at him expectantly, both eyeing the other while sipping at their drinks.
“I think that was the most I’d ever heard you say hyung to Jimin in my entire life, wow,” Hoseok says in disbelief.
“Jimin-hyung must’ve been so happy,” Yugyeom agrees solemnly.
“I don’t think he’s very happy,” Taehyung says. Instead of elaborating he prepares for their stares of disbelief and relentless questions when he asks, “Do you guys remember where I work?”
Taehyung, had been so lost in his next order that he almost forgets that his name is Jeongguk in this world/dream. It took Jimin another call of his name and touching his shoulder for him to respond, stopping him from going back outside of the kitchen for his last table of the day.
“Yes, hyung?” Taehyung asked. For the couple of hours he had worked, Jimin was there with an overlapping shift. Apparently they’d been best friends since birth, and Jimin was both offended and concerned when Hoseok told him that he had forgotten who he was.
And Taehyung liked Jimin. He was sweet, and short, and snarky. It was comforting how much they seemed to bicker, but also how much he seemed to care. He could tell he and Jeongguk were really close, and something about Jimin himself stood out the most apart from the all the others Taehyung had met. He knew that if he was in his own body, they’d be great friends.
“I-” Jimin started, but he paused, studying Taehyung for a moment. “Jeongguk-ah, are you sure you’re okay? You’ve been acting strange all day.”
Taehyung felt a flare of panic that he quickly dismissed along with Jimin’s concern. This was a dream anywho. “It’s just an off day hyung, you know how I easily forget things…”
Jimin was about to say something, probably similar to a ‘you don’t’ , but closes his mouth. Taehyung feels eyes boring into him as finally he moves to gather the orders. He picks up the trays carefully balancing on one hand—which had admittedly been harder than he thought it would be; he’d struggled the first few hours, earning yet another look of concern from Jimin.
“Jeongguk-ah, you grabbed the wrong dish, again,” Jimin said, already taking the tray from him and replacing it with his. Jimin didn’t say anything explicitly, but Taehyung could hear the concern beneath the irritation in his voice. He should really try harder to convince them that he was really this Jeongguk person.
Faintly, before he could leave the kitchen he heard someone whisper, “Is that really Jeongguk? He called you hyung. What the fuck.”
“I know right? Something’s up, I can feel it.”
“At least he’s respecting you now, though he did ask me some really weird questions earlier. And he said some things in a dialect I couldn’t understand.”
“Mmm… you’re right. He’s way nicer to me, too! Whoever this Jeongguk is, I should make them stay. He hasn’t called me hyung like that in so long.”
Taehyung smiled to himself as he walked out the door.
Just like that, the day was over.
The rays of light, flashed through the windows of the apartment, a truck momentarily obstructing the sun, creating marvelous moving shadows across Taehyung and the room.
After work, Jimin offered a movie night, and Taehyung couldn’t refuse. He’d grown too fond of Jimin’s presence over their short time together. It was nice having friends like this, not that he didn’t have any of his own in his own body. It was nice all the same. He gave up on trying to act like Jeongguk a third of the way into the movie and let Jimin give him all the odd looks he wanted with his remarks. Despite that, they got along splendidly.
He left after a teary session of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and hugged him goodbye with a promise of seeing him tomorrow leaving his lips. Somehow Taehyung knew he wouldn’t be there by then. He didn’t even know if he’d have this dream again.
He’d miss this, he admitted to himself. Jimin, Yugyeom, and Hoseok seemed like nice people, he would’ve liked more time to get to know them.
Somewhere between looking through the drawings scattered about on Jeongguk’s desk and the collection of anime and video games in his living room, Taehyung finds himself writing small notes with comments on them. Most of them praise, and others criticizing his anime choices. It was all really self-indulgent, and he giggles every time he writes a new one. He doesn’t even know why he’s writing them, if this is just a dream. He likes this Jeongguk—this person he was supposed to be. They would probably get along well, if they’d met in person.
It is weird to be in silence for so long. He once again thinks about his family in his own body, and wonders if this Jeongguk switched with him. The silence engulfs the apartment; it’s suffocating. He wonders if Jeongguk ever gets lonely, or if it’s just Taehyung’s own extroverted personality making him feel this way. He thinks you could feel lonely like this, watching the shadows move as cars pass your window, even if you were introverted and preferred being alone.
He ends the night by lying in his bed and scrolling through Jeongguk’s phone. He’s surprised to find a collection of journals in his notes, but he feels as if it’s too private to take a look. It was nicely organized, and Taehyung appreciated that. He moves onto the pictures and laughs at all the photos he’s taken of Yugyeom, Hoseok, and Jimin. He takes a lot of selcas, which Taehyung hums in approval whenever he sees. He has to admit—Jeongguk is pretty cute. The rest of the pictures are a variety of internet memes, anime screenshots, art, and scenery. What seems to be missing are pictures of family, and he wonders again if Jeongguk has any family. He can’t imagine a life without his own, and frowns at the thought of Jeongguk missing out on having one.
Before Taehyung knows it, he slips away into his dreams, his soul flying, crossing time and space.
In a time out of place, it goes like this.
Taehyung arrives at a train station. It takes him an hour. He gets out and weaves through the crowd and he knows this is around the time he should be here. He knows. And he’s right.
He finds him. Taehyung reaches out, as if to grab, to pull close, to hug, and to say hello. The boy passes by him, and Taehyung frowns. He says his name and makes to grab his hand.
“D-do I know you?”
Realization dawns on him. Taehyung gives him the bracelet on his wrist, and leaves the boy confused and with only a few words from him.
“My name is Taehyung.”
Taehyung awakens and it’s not to the cold or to the smell of the sea. His dog is licking his face, a giant lump on his chest, and Taehyung feels warm.
“Morning to you, too, Soonshim,” Taehyung says, with a sleepy smile. He seems relieved to hear his own voice, for some reason. He remembers it has something to do with his dream—which he recalls faintly—, but the thought vanishes when he hears his grandmother calling him for breakfast.
He smiles at the dreamcatchers to his left, and the relief settles nicely into his bones once again. His mind flashes with images of a desk with drawings and small Iron Man figurines.
“Taehyung-ah. Come before your sister eats your breakfast.” Taehyung smiles at his grandmother’s teasing.
“Coming ma.” He gathers his things, careful not to trip over Soonshim, and starts his day.
The sun is out; the sky is clear—a nice day in his small farm town. He smiles widely when he walks out of his house, shoes crunching softly on the gravel, and sees Yoongi waiting for him with a fixed, questioning gaze.
“Why are you staring at me like that, hyung?” Taehyung opens the gate that separates the sidewalk and his home, and walks through.
“Are you feeling better today, Tae?” He asks. They start walking, but Taehyung gives Yoongi a puzzled look.
“What do you mean? I felt fine yesterday.” Taehyung kicks a pebble down the sidewalk. He speeds up his walking to kick it again.
“No… You told me you felt sick.” Yoongi says, walking slowly behind him. “You were acting weird yesterday.”
“What did I do?” Taehyung asks, still not convinced. He acts weird every day by this town’s standards. But Yoongi does know him better than even his family.
“You were acting shy all day. You sometimes spoke in a different dialect for some reason, and I couldn’t understand you and you couldn’t understand me. You didn’t even remember where your first class was. I had to walk you. And Jesus Christ, everyone was staring . I hate that fucking school. You know that.” Yoongi stuffs his hands into his jacket pockets. “You had the nerve to ask me where my classroom was. I graduated two years ago, Tae.”
“I did, what?” Taehyung blinked and he stopped in his tracks. Yoongi had to be kidding. What the fuck. Wait. “Yoongi? What day is it?”
“Tuesday. Why?” Yoongi caught up to him. He sighed as he watched Taehyung’s eyes grow wide with realization.
“Yeah no kidding. I think you passed some just now.”
“Yoongi, oh my god. It really happened! It wasn’t a dream!” Taehyung grabbed Yoongi by the shoulders and was shouting loud enough for the neighbors and passing students to stare at them.
“Tae, calm down.” He held the other back and tried to stop him from jumping up and down, but to no avail. “What the fuck happened?”
Suddenly Taehyung became quiet and picked up his bag he left on the floor. He kept walking, and Yoongi was left to stare at him. Even if this was odd, Yoongi did not deny that this was more like him then how he acted the day before.
“Hmm?” They rounded another corner, and Taehyung’s high school came into view.
“Are you gonna tell me what the hell that was?”
“I can’t. It’s a secret. Bye hyung!” He winked and gave him a grin that he knew his hyung was weak for. He turned around and entered through the gates before Yoongi could utter another word. Taehyung’s mind was reeling on the inside.
That was real. That wasn’t a dream yesterday. They really switched. Taehyung was in Jeongguk’s body, and he was in Taehyung’s.
His head hurt thinking about it, and he couldn’t wrap his mind about the logistics of what happened. It just did. Semantics , Taehyung thinks bitterly. Taehyung runs a hand through his red hair.
He didn’t know if he was excited at the prospect or panicked like he was the day before. This only ever happens in movies. He didn’t even know it would happen again. Though, the thought is nice, switching with Jeongguk again. He’s not going to lie, he’s a bit uneasy about how he’d act when they switch, but they can set ground rules—things that he should and shouldn’t do. He smiles as he walks into his first class.
This could be fun.
Jeongguk groans, trying to move to lay on his side, but a huge weight on his stomach prevents him from doing so. He opens his eyes and is greeted by the familiar dog. The dog, Soonshim(?), licks up at his face and Jeongguk’s features grimace as he says, “Not now boy.”
He manages to get up after Taehyung’s sister opens the door and Soonshim bounds out. He mutters a quiet thanks, then stares at the ceiling to contemplate what is happening in his life. He closes his eyes, for just another moment, as he breathes in the sweet smell of vanilla and hint of strawberry.
In the bathroom, he splashes water on his face, looking up and confirms his thoughts. Okay. Yeah. They switched again. As he watches himself in the mirror, he has to admit that Taehyung is beautiful. He quietly groans as he closes his eyes. He knows he should be more surprised, but this time a weird feeling had bubbled in his stomach and he just knew they were going to switch today. He wonders if Taehyung had felt it, too.
He thought back to the notes left all over his apartment a couple days ago—that was when he knew it wasn’t a dream. (Another thing that gave it away was the fact that Jimin and Yugyeom called him immediately that morning to ask if he was okay and if he wasn’t losing his memory. That was a fun conversation.) Taehyung was an interesting person. He liked a lot of the same things Jeongguk liked, and his friends and family were sweet that day he first switched, which was a faint memory, but he remembers the key moments. It couldn’t be that bad.
Though, he does admit he is worried about how Taehyung will act in his body. He was left with a gaping hole in his wallet the first time it happened and maybe he was a little angry. Okay, more than a little.
His phone dings in his pocket, and Jeongguk pulls it out, surprised to see a memo addressing him specifically. It’s similar to the journal notes he keeps on his own phone.
When he swipes the phone open, and he’s surprised to find a myriad of notes, presumably from Taehyung.
He smiles when he sees the note on top entitled To Jeonggukie~♡ .
Hey! I’m not sure why I’m writing this, but I think we’re going to switch tomorrow. You can feel it too right? I’m not the only one crazy here?
I wanted to say hi! My name is Taehyung. You probably already know, but I’ve never formally introduced myself. Good luck being me today! Try not to confuse everyone again, Yoongi-hyung was on my ass for days after that. Hopefully you didn’t mind that I was late to your job. Apparently you had a perfect record before that?
I don’t really know what else to say… I feel silly writing this. What if we don’t switch?
Jeongguk feels warmth spread through him as he reads the note. Jeongguk swipes to the right, then clicks the Add New Note button in response.
We did switch! And hi, my name is Jeongguk :)
I’ll try my best, but I still don’t really remember who is who yet. Maybe next time.
Don’t worry, I’m not mad, but don’t do it again! I don’t have all the money in the world, y’know.
Okay, maybe that’s a lie. Jeongguk was petty when he realized he lost his perfect attendance record and irritated when he'd lost a quarter of his salary on one meal, but he can’t change it now.
Thank you for the notes. They were really cute. Except the one about Captain America being better than Iron Man, excuse me. Stop this slander, we cannot be friends if you’re going to be like this.
I tried to answer all of them with notes next to it, hopefully you see. thanks for liking my art so much, you’re actually one of the first people that’s seen them...
It’s weird considering them friends now, but what else would they call each other? Body switching buddies? He wouldn’t call them strangers because he’d actually been inside Taehyung’s body. Even in just one day, they knew more about the other then they would have thought possible.
For the rest of the day, Jeongguk likes to think he plays Taehyung better than before, knowing his way to classes now and not getting lost. This time, he notices the distance his classmates put around him, but he glares at them whenever they snicker. Yoongi still eyed him weirdly, but he was happy when Jeongguk showed interest in the new track he was working on.
Before he gets to bed, he decides that the notes on his phone aren’t enough, and starts to sketch him something.
He goes to sleep afterwards, with the moonlight flashing through the blinds, interrupted by the swaying dreamcatchers, window slightly open, pleased with how the day went by and the interactions he’d had with everyone.
He expects to wake up in his own room, or maybe even spend another day in Taehyung’s but he ends up blinking into a small cafe.
He’s sitting down already, drink in hand, and looking out the window. He turns his head to look at the person sat in front of him and almost spits his drink out.
In front of him sits Kim Taehyung, in all his red haired, tan skinned glory. Taehyung is swirling the cup of tea in front of him with a spoon and hums softly.
Jeongguk doesn’t think he’s ever met someone so beautiful. It’s different when he’s not in Taehyung’s body—and trust him, he has definitely appreciated Taehyung's body when they were swapped—and he’s watching from an outside perspective. He opens his mouth to say something, probably something along the lines of “holy shit, you’re gorgeous”, but fails once Taehyung looks up to stare at him.
Now this, this had to be a dream.
“I think it is,” Taehyung suddenly says, with a shrug.
Jeongguk sets down his coffee mug and tilts his head, still taking in his smooth, deep voice. It’s different then when he speaks as Taehyung, this voice is much deeper. “Is it weird that it feels like we’ve done this before?”
Taehyung takes a sip of his tea then places his hand next to Jeongguk’s, barely brushing, but very present. Jeongguk flushes as Taehyung hums in agreement. He moves his fingers away, flustered, and brings his cup up to his mouth for another drink. He can’t help but notice the bracelet on Taehyung’s wrist, coincidentally very similar to the one on his own.
“Maybe, in another time, we were on a date. Maybe we were even boyfriends.”
Jeongguk chokes on his coffee. “Maybe,” is all Jeongguk manages to say.
“Awe, c’mon, you don’t think we could go on a date, Jeonggukie?” And Jeongguk almost melts at how he says his name.
“I’ve only just met you officially, just now? In a dream?” Jeongguk reasons. Taehyung rolls his eyes and leans back into his chair. He’s grinning and Jeongguk is blinded.
“Awe, c’mon, lighten up. I was just joking—” Taehyung nearly falls out of his chair from tipping it too far back. He ends up gripping his thigh tightly where it hit the table and almost spilled their drinks.
Jeongguk does nothing but laugh at the spectacle in front of him.
“I thought you couldn’t get hurt in dreams!” Taehyung whines, frowning at his lap.
“That actually, happened, holy shit,” is all Jeongguk had to say, and starts laughing more when Taehyung fakes a glare at him.
“You should laugh more often, Jeongguk-ah,” Taehyung says lightly and Jeongguk smiles.
Things get easier after that. They joke, and laugh, and talk about light things, small things, at first. Talking to someone had never been easier. They both feel the beginnings of something here, something that keeps butterflies in their stomachs and leaves a pleasant taste in their mouths when they wake up the next day.
Their dreams become a tri-weekly occurrence, always right after they switch, which happens at least two or three times a week. They don’t remember much in the beginning, memory always hazy—in both the dreams and their switches—, but they start to remember more and more as the weeks progress. Nonetheless, the dreams and switches always leave Jeongguk knowing more about Taehyung and Taehyung knowing more about Jeongguk, and they’re left with memories of laughter every night.
After that day, they start leaving notes on each other’s phones, talking to each other, as well as recounting their day to make it less confusing for the other when they come back. They even have little relationship trees, as per Taehyung’s suggestion, and common phrases in the other’s dialect. And to avoid any troubles with everyone around them, they make a list of do’s and don’ts, things to watch out for and whatnot. Taehyung still leaves notes in random places of Jeongguk’s lonely apartment and Jeongguk still leaves small sketches of his day on Taehyung’s desk. (They both have a box they put them in, tucked hidden beneath a bed or a dresser.)
For a while, things are magical.
The whole thing feels like a dream, but Taehyung is reminded every day, with every note and every drawing left on his desk that it’s reality. He’s not crazy. And with the addition of his dreams, he figures out that Jeon Jeongguk is one of the most passionate, artistic people he’s ever met and that he’s also stubborn as fuck.
And he kind of admits that he may, he may, have a crush on Jeongguk, but who can he tell? If he told anyone he knew, they would think he’s crazy, but Taehyung kind of thinks he’s crazy for liking someone he’s technically not even met yet.
Jeongguk has a similar predicament, though he mulls over it for days. He’s never quite felt like this for someone before, and he’s left confused and flustered. He likes seeing Taehyung in his dreams, and the notes he writes when they switch back. He likes listening to Taehyung talk about his family and his passions and even his troubles. His stomach does flips whenever Taehyung comes near him in dreams, but they’ve gotten comfortable enough with each other, that Jeongguk accepts his excessive skinship. He likes a lot of things about Taehyung, but he’s still confused.
He’s scared, too. Over the years of disappointment and rejection—from his parents abandoning him as a child, to the countless fake jerks he’d thought were his friends—he’s kept his heart closed off and walls up. Despite how easy it might’ve been to talk to him on the surface, he doesn’t simply let people in past that. He didn’t realize how fast Taehyung had knocked them over, until his heart did flips because of how close Taehyung had been to touching it. And he’s not sure he’s fearless enough to let him.
“Jeongguk are you listening?”
“Hmm. Yeah.” He’s not. He saw a cute dog picture on twitter and clicked on it thinking of Taehyung. He was saving as many as he could. He even found some looking like Soonshim, and started to put them on a folder on his phone, knowing Taehyung would like to look through them when they switched.
“Okay so anyway, he asked me out today. I was walking out of dance practice with Hoseok-hyung, and he approached me and asked me if I was free on Friday!”
“Wait, is this that grumpy guy you said you had a crush on?” Jeongguk momentarily stops his picture saving to comment because he’s pretty sure Taehyung mentioned meeting this guy, and he looked strangely similar to Yoongi-hyung.
“I told you his name, Gukkie.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention.”
“I knew it! What happened to the Gukkie that I could ask advice for.”
“When have I ever given you dating advice?”
“Last week! When I asked you about Hoseokie-hyung.”
“Ah, that must’ve been-” Taehyung.
“Sorry I got to go Jimin! I’ll talk to you later!”
“Jimin hyung! You-”
“Taehyung, why are you buying so much food? Do you even like these?” Yoongi’s pulling a cart full of a variety of food items, all put in by Taehyung. He pulls out a sketchbook and colored pencils. “And since when did you get into making art?”
Taehyung seems to have not heard what he said, peering into the aisle of cereal in deep thought. He’d been staring between a box of Coco Puffs and Fruit Loops for five minutes, as if staring at a blue bird holding cereal would solve all of life’s problems.
“Taehyung.” Yoongi is about to touch Taehyung’s shoulder when Taehyung suddenly jumps with a loud “Aha!” and gets two boxes of Fruit Loops with him.
“Jeonggukie likes Fruit Loops! I can’t believe it took me that long to remember.” Taehyung puts them in the cart and pulls it forward from the front, leaving Yoongi to roll his eyes and follow.
“Hmm? Nothing. I didn’t say anything.” That’s a lie, but Yoongi isn’t going to say anything. And it’s times like these that Yoongi wonders why he puts up with Taehyung. He’s noticed that Taehyung’s been happier recently, though, so whoever he’s talking about is making him happy at least. That’s all Yoongi ever wants for Taehyung.
One of Jeongguk’s particular passions that he’s not quite had a chance to explore is music. This is why hanging out with Yoongi-hyung is one of his favorite past times whenever he’s switched with Taehyung.
They’re in Yoongi’s apartment now, Jeongguk happily sitting on the couch, listening to Yoongi’s new track and supplying comments. In between songs he finds out that Yoongi wants to move out to Seoul one day, or live in a different town. It’s no secret that both Yoongi and Taehyung hate the town they live in, but they both have their family ties stuck here that keep them in place. For Yoongi, it was mostly just Taehyung, but Taehyung had his family and another year of high school to go through; he often told Jeongguk in their dreams that he wishes Yoongi could move on because he doesn’t want to hold him back from his full potential.
They’d been friends since the one day that Yoongi stopped bullies from hurting Taehyung in the first grade. Ever since, Taehyung had developed a deep respect for Yoongi—which Jeongguk had also developed—, and didn’t stop pestering him until they became best friends.
He could never quite understand why so many people made fun of Taehyung, who was sweet and interesting and had such a profound loyalty to his loved ones. Asking Yoongi was a no-go, and he still hadn’t talked about that particular topic with Taehyung, finding it hard to bring up because how could anyone hate Kim Taehyung . He gets hints, here and there from what his classmates whisper around him, but not enough to make sense.
Jeongguk quietly marvels at the photos all over Yoongi’s apartment of him and Taehyung. He’s smiling at a particular photo of the two of them at a waterpark when, out of the blue, Yoongi asks him, “So how’s that boyfriend of yours?”
That makes Jeongguk freeze in surprise. Boyfriend? Taehyung hadn’t mentioned anything about a boyfriend.
“Boyfriend? What boyfriend?” Jeongguk asks, confused and dazed.
“The one you told me about last week, when we went grocery shopping. Jeong-something?”
Before Jeongguk could even consider if he was talking about him(which would’ve been the right answer), he gets a text on his phone from Jeonghan . He blanches. Jeonghan was beautiful, nice, very sweet, and one of the few students in school that were nice to Taehyung. Even Jeongguk liked him.
The text reads, So, do you want to meet up tomorrow at my place, Babe?
Babe. Okay, okay, maybe Jeongguk didn’t like him.
Burning hot jealousy bubbles in him, but he tries to quell his anger. Why is he even jealous? It’s not like—it’s not like Taehyung’s his boyfriend. It’s not like that. It’s not like that .
Maybe he’s petty and maybe this is going to far, but Jeongguk can’t help it when he replies, no, why would I? sorry. Please don’t talk to me again, I hate you!
He immediately regrets it as soon as he sends it, but he ignores the question marks and concern texts he gets after.
He’s still upset. And the more he mulls over it, the more upset he gets. And maybe it’s less about Jeonghan (he’s still reeling about the babe ) and more because Taehyung didn’t tell him. Sure, okay he admits he’s a bit jealous, but if Taehyung is happy with him then he’d gladly hand him over. (Jeongguk mentally slaps himself because it’s not like Taehyung is someone that’s his to hand over anyway.) All he wants is for Taehyung to be happy because he deserves the world, and if that’s with Jeonghan then Jeongguk will have to deal with that.
But Taehyung didn’t tell him and maybe that hurts more. He thought they’d become pretty close over the past few weeks.
“Still here, Tae?”
Oh. In his annoyance and slight disappointment, he’d almost forgotten where he was. “Yeah, hyung. But I think I’m heading out now. I’m not feeling too well.”
“Are you okay, Tae?” His voice is laced with concern and Jeongguk almost feels bad for lying.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just—I just need to go.” Jeongguk leaves, almost slamming the door behind him.
His thoughts drift off to Jeonghan, and they had talked a lot, he admits. Pictures of the both of them doing cute couple-like things—scenarios that Jeongguk swears he has not fantasized about with Taehyung and himself before—start flooding through his mind.
Every thought leaves a bitter taste in his mouth, and he wonders if this is what it feels like when you’re free falling and you know no one is there to catch you.
He shouldn’t be this upset by this, he shouldn’t be. He shouldn’t be . He keeps telling himself as he sits in Taehyung’s room, arms wrapped around his legs and tears falling down his face.
It’s when he’s staring at his sketches scattered about Taehyung’s walls, and the Captain America plushie he got to spite him, and the box of Fruit Loops near the bed, that Jeongguk realizes that maybe, just maybe he lov— likes Taehyung.
And that just makes the tears fall faster.
He’s distant, in tonight’s dream. He doesn’t talk to Taehyung as much, letting him rant about whatever. He doesn’t realize that Taehyung’s stopped talking until he mentions his name.
“Jeongguk?” He doesn’t say anything, and it’s stupid and childish and Taehyung doesn’t deserve his silent treatment when he doesn’t know what he’s done wrong (if it’s even considered wrong), but he’s still upset . “Guk-ah, did I do something wrong?”
Despite this, Jeongguk doesn’t want him to think it’s his fault so he mutters a, “No. Of course not, Taehyung. I just—I’m not feeling well today.”
Taehyung’s face fades into concern and Jeongguk looks down, twiddling his thumbs. “Are you okay, Guk?”
“I’m fine, don’t worry about me, Taehyung.” Jeongguk tries to smile for him, and that appeases Taehyung well enough.
“You know you can tell me anything, right?” Taehyung says after a bout of silence.
“Of course,” Jeongguk says, but he’s not looking at Taehyung and the words feel hollow.
Two nights later, he wakes to find angry, irritated messages from Taehyung because of what he said to Jeonghan.
But he can’t bring himself to be sorry and acts more flippant around Jeonghan that day, denying his request to talk.
He tells Taehyung so in their dreams, and he didn’t think he could ever see Taehyung mad at someone— mad at him .
“Why Jeongguk? I told you repeatedly to be nice! He’s one of the only people at school that treats me fairly, and we—”
“I just don’t like him okay?”
“But, Jeongguk, I do , and if you’re going to be me, at least don’t change my relationships with people.”
His heart drops at seeing Taehyung mad at him, and moreso at the word relationship, but his anger takes over.
“I should say the same to you! You’re always changing how others think of me on my side and you haven’t seen me complaining.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, unconvinced. And that’s how it starts. They’re shouting more complaints about the other, something that they both had really not minded since they were small things, but in the heat of the moment it seems like everything Jeongguk has done while being Taehyung has been wrong and vice versa.
It’s at after a slight pause when Taehyung sighs, running a hand through his hair, and says, “But Jeonghan’s my only—”
And Jeongguk really did not want him to say boyfriend so he interrupts, getting up to leave the empty cafe that had taken the setting of their room.
“You know what? I can’t take this anymore. Today has been shit, and you’re not making it better.” Like you usually do . “I’m just going to leave.”
“Wait! Guk—” He storms out before Taehyung can say more. As soon as he steps out, he feels the dream end, slipping slowly into darkness.
The next time they switch, the dream ends with them not talking to each other, Taehyung forcefully ending the dream by leaving. They awaken in their own bodies, each with matching words on written on their faces. It reads “fool” and given any other circumstance Jeongguk would’ve laughed at how similar their thinking was.
Later that day, when Jimin asks him if he’s okay because “Did something happen? You’ve been looking like shit all week. You look like a heartbroken bunny,” he realizes that he is a fool.
Things had been miserable without Taehyung’s happy notes and dreams. And he didn’t want to admit it, but he really, truly missed Taehyung.
He kept thinking of the way Taehyung’s eyes sparkled when he spoke of something he was passionate about, how he always knew what to say to Jeongguk to make him feel better on his shitty days, and how he was always there . Someone that he didn’t know he needed, but was always, always there .
But that was before Jeongguk had to mess everything up. And now he’s not beside him anymore. He’s not beside him anymore, and he’s left feeling empty.
They switch again two days later, and Jeongguk is ready to apologize.
He feels even guiltier when he apologizes to Jeonghan first, and realizes that no, they are not boyfriends and yes, they had only been partners for a project in class and I call everyone, babe, Taehyung. You know this.
He draws and paints Taehyung three things that night, each an apology. One is a portrait—of Taehyung, always Taehyung—, another is a galaxy, and the last is a cafe that takes the place of most of their dreams, memorably the first one.
When the dream that night starts, he sees that Taehyung is still mad at him, having not glanced up at him once. So Jeongguk makes the first move.
“Taehyung?” But he doesn’t bat an eye. So Jeongguk moves to kneel in front of him. “Taehyung.” He tries again, but still Taehyung doesn’t say anything. Jeongguk grabs his hands and moves so that his face is right in front of Taehyung’s, close enough that if they moved an inch, they would be touching. “Tae.”
He blushes at the proximity, and looks away, muttering a “Yes, Guk?”
“I want to say I’m sorry.”
The relief floods visibly into Taehyung, but he quickly masks it when he pouts, looking at Jeongguk again. “About time.”
“I know, I’m sorry.”
“I’m still mad at you.” He glances up at Jeongguk, who’s now moved farther away, still on his knees on the floor next to where Taehyung’s sitting. Jeongguk’s hand is still warm, loosely holding onto Taehyung’s.
“I know, but I’ll make it up to you.” Jeongguk’s voice is sincere. He squeezes Taehyung’s hands. Taehyung is weak to those big brown doe eyes pleading at him.
And at this point, Taehyung has already forgiven him. He’d missed this. He’d missed Jeongguk. The week of silence and contrived annoyance was a weight on both of them. It was miserable. But Taehyung still wanted to tease, so he responded with, “How?”
“I’ll do anything you want for a month. I’ll let you spend as much as you want on food at that cafe and I won’t slack off in your classes anymore and—”
“Okay, okay, I get it. I forgive you.” Taehyung smiles and pulls Jeongguk into a hug. They both visibly relax at that, glad to have something familiar.
Jeongguk’s playing with Taehyung’s hair trailing up his fingers up his nape, a few minutes later still in the same position, and Taehyung’s rubbing circles on his back.
“I still want to know why you don’t like Jeonghan so much.”
“The reason is stupid.”
“Hit me with it. I won’t judge.”
“Trust me, you will.”
“Awe, c’mon Guk.”
Jeongguk has stopped playing with Taehyung’s hair and has resorted to resting his forehead on Taehyung’s shoulder, mumbling his answer into it.
“I didn’t hear you. Can you say it again?”
“I… I thought he was your boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend?” Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh at the prospect. “Jeonggukie, were you jealous ?”
“No!” Jeongguk denies, quickly. He groans into Taehyung’s shoulder, burying his face to hide his embarrassment.
Taehyung smiles and giggles, slapping Jeongguk lightly, because he definitely is and Taehyung wakes up that morning feeling lighter and satisfied.
(The paintings make Taehyung cry when he sees them. It’s not written or drawn but he sees the “I love you” hidden under the details of the cafe, the stars sprinkled across the galaxy, and the careful details of his face—no one had ever made him feel so beautiful—and even if he’s not sure that’s what it’s saying, he still feels it.)
Things go back to normal after that, if you could call what was happening to them normal.
And at some point after they fought and before they made up, they both realized how much they cared about the other. But they both still hadn’t made up their minds about how they would tell the other about their feelings— if they were telling the other about their feelings. They were left in a stagnant state of subtle flirting and genuine compliments.
It was bound to happen sooner or later, someone just had to take the initiative.
It was one night, during a dream, that Jeongguk finally came to terms with the odd feelings fluttering around his heart.
He wakes to see Taehyung in front of him. He smiles when Taehyung gives him that grin of his, the one that shows so much mirth.
“Close your eyes.”
And he does. He can feel Taehyung shift closer and Taehyung starts to talk softly to fill the silence.
“You know, I’m still laughing at the fact that we were so stupid last week.”
I missed you, is what he means, and Jeongguk hears it.
“I can’t believe we didn’t talk for so long because of something so dumb.”
You mean a lot to me, is what he means, and Taehyung hears it.
He feels a hand going through his hair and his heart beats erratically in his chest. Taehyung’s hand massages his scalp, moving down to move his bangs from his eyes.
“I know. I’m hoping to catch up on as much quality time with you as possible in these dreams.”
“That’s a good idea.”
His hand moves from his hair to his cheek. And Jeongguk shivers at the touch. “Hey Guk.” It almost startles Jeongguk how close Taehyung sounds.
He hums in response.
“Open your eyes.”
Taehyung is in front of him. Hand on his cheek, the other next to his lap, propping Taehyung up. He remembers that they’re dreaming and gravity begins to disappear, leaving them floating in the vast whiteness that has taken the setting of their dream.
Taehyung chuckles quietly when he realizes what’s happening and Jeongguk wishes he could have his phone in this dreamworld to capture Taehyung’s expression.
“You really are something huh, Jeongguk-ah?”
“What can I say? I’m a very creative person. And I know you like space and zero-gravity. So.”
He cringes at his own words but then considers their positions. Jeongguk takes in their closeness again, feeling Taehyung’s breathing softly on his face. He doesn’t look directly into Taehyung’s eyes, not yet. His eyes trail from his neck, to his lips, up to his nose, his cute nose mole that he wants to boop—much like how Taehyung does to him—then finally to his eyes, noting his long eyelashes that curl a little bit on the edges. When he looks into them, he feels like he’s drowning in the Sahara Desert, and floating at the bottom of the ocean, but oddly, he feels at home while his heart does laps across the world.
Both of their breaths catch the same time.
“Can I kiss you?”
He feels warm lips press against his and remembers sighing. Jeongguk’s world tilts and the edges turn black. The feeling of lips against his, tastes of lilacs, honey, oh so sweet vanilla, and Taehyung’s thumb caressing his scar, all of that, keep him company into the darkness.
Jeongguk didn’t know when it had become Taehyung, Taehyung, Taehyung, but he’s perfectly okay with that. He didn’t know when his apartment wasn’t just for one, but for two, which somehow worked with only him living in the apartment. Remnants of Taehyung had scattered the place through the notes he left every time they switched, to the various snack foods Taehyung stockpiled in his kitchen, and he couldn’t tell you when it started. He could tell you that he didn't think he wanted it to stop.
Taehyung didn’t know when it had become Jeongguk, Jeongguk, Jeongguk, but he’s perfectly okay with that. He didn’t know when it became so hard not mention him to Yoongi, which he was more careful with after the whole Jeonghan debacle, because at some point, Jeongguk had crossed the line between body swapping buddies to something arguably more important in his life.
And they hadn’t even met each other.
Little did they know, their time was ticking, slipping through their fingers like fine sand, and they could do nothing to stop it.
“Do you ever wonder why we keep switching?” They’re lying on a grassy field this time around, staring at the stars.
“At first I did, but I haven’t really been thinking about it lately.” Jeongguk reaches out to intertwine their fingers. Taehyung looks at him, tracing the slope of Jeongguk’s nose, lips, chin with his eyes as Jeongguk stares at the sky. Every dream feels like a date now.
“Do you think it’s for a reason?”
“Maybe… But, I got to meet you in the process, so…” Jeongguk squeezes Taehyung’s hand and trains his eyes to their interlocked fingers. He’s glad it’s dark in this dream because Taehyung can’t see how flushed face had become.
Jeongguk is silent, embarrassed at what he was going to say.
“Awe, c’mon Jeon, you never get this sentimental with me.” Taehyung boops Jeongguk’s nose with his index finger and scoots closer to him, both sitting up now.
Jeongguk relents because Taehyung is close, and Jeongguk’s oh so weak when it comes to him. He takes a deep breath, eyes closing. He opens them, making sure he’s staring into Taehyung’s eyes, and Taehyung’s looking back. “I’m really glad I met you, alright? I don’t know what the universe is getting out of us doing this, but I’m glad they made us switch bodies that one day. I’m glad you’re not dating Jeonghan. I’m glad we made up. I’m glad we’re dreaming right now. I’m glad you’re holding my hand. I’m glad that I can kiss you right now if I wanted to.”
“Why don’t you?” Taehyung asks, pressing their foreheads together. Their breaths mingle, noses touching. He can count his eyelashes from this close, and watch how the dim lights reflects his brown eyes. He runs his fingers through Jeongguk’s hair, rubbing his thumb against his temple. Jeongguk leans into the touch and sighs.
“Whenever we kiss, the dream always ends,” Jeongguk says with a pout. He opts to bring Taehyung’s hand closer to his lips so he could kiss the tops of his knuckles instead.
“I have a confession to make,” Taehyung smiles at the feeling of Jeongguk’s lips pressing against his knuckles. “I really, really, really like you, you know?” He can’t stop his grin from getting wider as he processes Jeongguk’s words, his giggle making his heart flutter, feeling an overwhelming sense of something he’s not quite sure what to name. It feels like a mixture of fondness and happiness and amazement. It feels a little like the “L” word but he’s still unsure. He wants to believe in that, despite the anxieties flooding his heart. His voice is soft when he continues. “But we’ll have plenty of time to hang out again in our dreams won’t we?”
Jeongguk chuckles quietly and lets Taehyung press their lips together.
“Why do people make fun of you all the time, Tae?”
“Don’t worry about it, Guk. Just ignore it. I’ve gotten used to it.”
“But—but why? You’re like, the most loyal person I’ve ever met. You’re beautiful, and talented, and passionate, and you can talk about anything and it wouldn’t be boring. How can anyone hate you?”
“Jeongguk, did you just—”
“Don’t stray from the question, Tae.”
“Fine… You know my dad?”
“Sort of. He’s never home, and your family doesn’t seem to take note of it.”
“He’s the mayor.”
“As the son of a political figure in our really small town, I guess people kind of pin everything they don’t like about him on me. And people get kind of envious about the things I have, I guess, since he’s the mayor. He also puts me on a sort of pedestal sometimes. And really, he accepts that I’m gay, and don’t get me wrong, I love my dad. He’s just distant. But the rest of the town is filled with some old hypocrites and they aren’t so accepting.”
“Well, you have me. So fuck everyone in that town. Except your family and Yoongi of course.”
“And I’m just going to say, that you deserve none of that hate okay? I hope one day they see you for who you are and not for what your sexuality is and who your parents are. Because you’re honestly the most beautiful person inside and out, that I’ve ever met.”
“... Hey, Guk.”
“I really, really, really like you. Have I told you that already?”
“I really, really, really, really , like you too, Tae. A lot. And yeah, you have.”
“Jeongguk, how the fuck did you get Min Yoonji to rise from the dead? I’ve been trying to get him in that wig again for years! ” Taehyung lunged at Jeongguk the moment he was fully conscious in the dream, jumping up and down in excitement.
Jeongguk could only shrug, smirking at his accomplishment. Then he realized, “Shit! He did it while I wasn’t there! Did you get pictures at least. I wanted to actually see him wear it, oh my god.”
“I was gonna leave it as a surprise, but fuck, there’s a five minute video waiting for you on my phone, along with a wall of scrambled text of me freaking out. I don’t know how you did it, but that was the best day I’d had in a long time Jeongguk-ah.” Taehyung hugged him and nuzzled his face into his neck. Jeongguk closed his eyes at the warmth and rubbed circles soothingly down Taehyung’s back.
“Anything to make you feel better.” Jeongguk doesn’t even wait a full second before Taehyung kisses him hard, leaving him breathless.
“Hey, why do you like Iron Man so much?”
“I don’t know. Why do you like Captain America so much?”
“I think I know when it started though.”
“Two years ago. I kind of forgot about this but someone called me Iron Man on the way to school once. I looked him up and thought he was so cool. It just stuck.”
“Awe, Guk, your nickname is now Iron Man. That’s adorable. You’re adorable. I adore you.”
“Whatever you say, Captain America.”
How do you know you love someone? How can you look at someone, and just know that that’s it. They’re your forever. You love them. How are people not scared? How are people so certain?
“Jeongguk, have you been marathoning through Nicholas Sparks films again?”
“Since when have you been interested in this?”
“What’s wrong with being interested in this?”
“Nothing , I just didn’t expect it from you.”
“So are you going to answer?”
“I don’t have all the answers in the world, Guk-ah.”
“Why am I friends with you again, Gyeom?”
“You love me.”
“I hate you.”
“Fine, I won’t give you my two cents.”
“Yugyeom, have I ever told you how much good you’ve been looking lately? You can even dance the new piece better than me this time around, and—”
“Do you want me to answer you or not?”
“I think, it’s not that hard to know. Love is when you’re out at a store and you see something they’d like, and you buy it without a second thought. It’s when you’re scrolling on your twitter feed and past this cheesy quote and the first person you think of is them. It’s when you see them, all of them, even the skeleton’s in their closets, and living cells of their bodies, and you’re willing, and you want to have it all. All you want is their happiness, and it doesn’t have to be from you. If someone else can make their eyes light up like they were just given the universe, and it’s not you, you accept that, because you just want them to be happy.”
Jeongguk stares at Yugyeom, partly in shock, partly in disbelief, and partly realizing something that he’s somehow always known. He was just too scared to let it be.
“No problem, Guk.”
“When were you going to tell me you were a secret romantic?”
“Shut the fuck up Mr. I cried for five hours after I watched Me Before You for the third time this week.”
Jeongguk is sketching, graphite rolling smoothly over paper, when Jimin decides to ask him an unexpected question.
“Are you seeing anyone Jeongguk?” Jimin is looking at him expectantly, with raised eyebrows. His fingers are locked together under his chin and he leans forward.
“What?” Jeongguk flushes at the suggestion. “What makes you and everyone else think that?” Yugyeom had asked him a week ago, and Hoseok had teased him about it once already—now Jimin had, too. He gently starts to erase the jagged line he made on the paper he was drawing on. They were having one of their weekly get-togethers at a cafe. Most of the time Jeongguk would draw while they talked, and Jimin was good company. They sometimes made it an art date, Jimin’s artistic side never failing to impress Jeongguk. He has a nagging feeling Jimin could tell when Taehyung was here instead of him, but Jimin never said anything.
“I’m just saying,” Jimin says with a teasing lilt to his voice. “You look happier nowadays, Guk. Not so lonely.”
“Oh and in order to be happy, I just need someone else to complete me. I see your views on romance, Jimin-ah. I could just be happy and by myself you know?” He’s teasing, but Jeongguk lets Jimin ruffle his hair as he takes in the words. He has been happier. Way happier. Happiest person in the world even, especially when he’s with Taehyung. And he may or may not have a boyfriend. Really, he doesn’t know what to call what he and Taehyung have because it’s only ever in his dreams—which he finds ironic—but boyfriend does sound nice. And honest to God, talking to Yugyeom made him realize something very important about his feelings for Taehyung. But boyfriend would just be really really hard to explain to Jimin, Yugyeom, and Hoseok.
“Of course you don’t need someone to be happy! I get that. Don’t twist my words, Guk.” Jimin pouts, crossing his arms lightly. He then points at a small sketch Jeongguk had done on the side of the page. “You’re just always drawing him . You’ve been doing it for months now, kid. You’re so obvious.”
And at that, Jeongguk was at a loss at what to say. Jimin was pointing to a drawing of Taehyung. He’d gotten into the habit of drawing him from time to time, he was just so damn beautiful. And it sucked not being able to have pictures of him, so he figured portraits based off of memory would do. But nothing was better than seeing Taehyung in front of him.
“See, now I have you thinking about him.” Jimin comments. He studies the way Jeongguk’s face changes expressions as he’s deep in thought. “You’re smiling so much. Even if you don’t tell me who it is, at least I know they make you happy.”
Jeongguk flushes, but he doesn’t deny. He moves to change the subject. If he continues to talk about this more, he knows he’d spill the beans about the switching. It was getting harder and harder to keep it to himself. “Enough about me, hyung. Tell me about grumpy coffee guy.”
Jimin rolls his eyes. “That conversation is not over Guk.” But Jimin smiles as he stares at the coffee on the table, obviously thinking about the ‘grumpy coffee guy.’ “I’ve told you his name a million times Jeongguk. When are you going to remember?”
Jeongguk shrugs, already using his selective hearing as he sketches out more of the scene before him. It’s the view right outside Taehyung’s family temple, one he’d visited only once, but Taehyung had told him about it multiple times. It was a breathtaking view of the entire town. “So are you guys going out now, or?”
“Do you remember the festival in a few days? It’s supposed to coincide with the meteor shower. He wants to take me on a date there.” Jimin is sipping happily at his coffee, and Jeongguk wonders if this is what he looks like when he thinks of Taehyung.
“A meteor shower?” Jeongguk asks. He suddenly wishes he could go to where Taehyung lived or he could come here, without switching, so they could watch the falling stars together. This time, not in a dream. This time, in real life. And maybe there, Jeongguk can finally tell Taehyung what he’s been wanting to since he and Yugyeom talked.
“Yep. For a full five minutes!” Five minutes, that’s a really long time and now Jeongguk could only think of seeing it with Taehyung. “Are you coming?”
Without hesitation, Jeongguk replies. “Of course.”
Later that day, he would try to text Taehyung about it. They’d given each other their phone numbers, but they never really used it much. He typed up a message and hit send.
Unexpectedly, an error message pops up, saying the number isn’t in use.
Taehyung had probably mistyped the number, Jeongguk reasoned with himself. He would ask him about the festival over their notes, or maybe in their dreams. He had a feeling they were switching tomorrow.
Taehyung had been enthusiastic about the idea.
He didn’t stop talking about it that night in their dream. He already planned out what he would be wearing, where they would meet, at what time, and he was so excited. Jeongguk couldn’t help but smile as his best friend and sort of boyfriend lit up with joy.
This dream felt different. It seemed to last longer than the others, and maybe they should’ve taken that as the first sign.
They were in a festival like scenario, most likely built around their own desires to go to the festival the following day. They were holding hands, already done with most of the activities to be done there, and they walked down the street. Kids passed them by, shouting at each other while running to the next booth. Taehyung stared at them fondly, and it was the first time Jeongguk really noticed that he liked kids. He stored that mentally in his head to bring up later.
As they neared the end of the strip, Taehyung pulled him to a quiet corner, away from the faceless adults and rowdy kids. He gripped Jeongguk’s hand tightly and squeezed as they sat on a bench, watching the festival before them.
“You said there’d be a meteor shower, right?” Tae asks, looking up at the sky.
“Yep.” Jeongguk hums and closes his eyes. The next time him opens them, they are lying in a field, much like in one of their previous dreams.
They sit in silence, watching the meteors streak across the sky. Two minutes in, Jeongguk turns his head to stare at the brightest star of them all.
“Hey, Jeongguk.” Taehyung says, breaking the silence. Jeongguk squeezes Taehyung’s hand in response.
“Yeah, Tae?” Slowly, Taehyung looks over at Jeongguk, and he sees a seriousness in Taehyung’s eyes that he’s only ever seen once.
“Don’t forget about me, okay?” Jeongguk wants to wipe the strange mix of worry and concern off of Taehyung’s face. He doesn’t know where this is coming from but he wants Taehyung to stop worrying about it.
How could I ever forget about you? He wants to say, but instead says, “I won’t.”
“I have a confession to make.” The familiar words draw warmth in Jeongguk’s heart.
Taehyung comes closer, and eventually lays on top of him. Jeongguk is breathless, and he’s once again blown away by how beautiful Taehyung looks under the starlight. His face is inches away from Jeongguk’s, and they’re staring at each other. He wonders what this would be like in real life. He brushes a few stray strands of red hair from Taehyung’s face. His eyes sparkle with a sort of vibrancy that Jeongguk has become addicted to. He moves forward, attempting to catch a kiss, but Taehyung stops him. Jeongguk’s about to whine, when Taehyung blurts out three words that makes him choke on his own. Jeongguk feels like he’s free falling.
“I love you.” His voice holds so much emotion, conviction, certainty that Jeongguk is left breathless, speechless. His eyes tell him everything and more and he’s filled with so much warmth, and butterflies, and so much love .
A feeling of dread rolls in Jeongguk’s stomach just as he brings himself to his senses and begins to say it back. Because he loves him, he really loves him, and he’d only realized it a few days ago and he wants to—needs to say it back and show him all the love he deserves and more.
His hands reach out to pull Taehyung closer, the words on the tip of his tongue, but he’s too late. Taehyung disappears in his arms and Jeongguk is left wide-eyed and alone. Taehyung disappeared. Gone. And just like that, he’s alone.
Jeongguk dismisses it at first because they promised to meet each other at the train station around the time Jeongguk is there for school. He’s going to meet him and everything will be fine. One messed up dream won’t make a difference.
That’s what he tells himself.
That’s what he keeps telling himself when he’s been waiting three hours, the festival having already begun, and Taehyung isn’t there yet.
He waits another hour.
He watches various strangers go through the line, scanning passes, hurrying to work or to the festival. He swears he almost catches a familiar patch of red hair once before he sees the person’s face and realizes it’s not Taehyung.
He waits some more.
Finally, he gets up from his seat and walks out. He can’t tell if he’s disappointed, angry, sad, or worried. Maybe all four. Definitely all four.
It’s already dark outside when he walks up the staircase to the bridge over the train station. The meteor shower had already begun.
He takes out his phone, and takes a picture, placing the flowers he got for Taehyung in it so he knew what he missed. He sends it to Taehyung’s number, but realizes he never asked him to make sure it was the right one.
He tries again, anyway, and when the messenger responds with the same failure message, he gives the number a call.
The phone beeps in a horrible dissonance, and tells him the number is disconnected.
At this point, he’s tired, and sad, and fairly disappointed. He had the day planned out, a perfect date. But something must’ve gone wrong. Taehyung would never bail on him like that. Never. So Jeongguk leaves the bridge that day feeling a little sad, a little tired, a little disappointed, but also very worried.
But if Taehyung had taught him anything, it was to hope for the best.
In a time, out of place, it goes like this.
Jeongguk is sixteen, ready to head to school, when the most beautiful person he’d ever seen grabs his wrist and calls his name.
He’s a shy, soft spoken teen, and he doesn’t know what a pretty teenager, looking barely eighteen, would be doing with someone like him. How did he know his name?
“D-do I know you?” Jeongguk curses himself for the stutter.
He watches the man’s face go through a variety of emotions that Jeongguk can’t quite name. The man takes off his bracelet and places it in Jeongguk’s hand, closing his fingers around it. The man looks him straight in the eyes, and Jeongguk finds it hard to look away.
He says his name, pauses, says goodbye, then walks away, leaving Jeongguk confused at what had just happened. He stares at the bracelet in his hand for a moment, running his fingers over the black beads, stopping the singular white when, then puts it on.
After adjusting to the sudden, unexpected switches, both of them did not have any foresight to think about what would happen if it suddenly stopped.
They hadn’t even considered the notion.
Whatever this was, good or bad, everything had to end. They say things end with a bang, but this ended with a slow, but sudden simmer.
You never know how good you’ve got it until it’s gone.
He never knew you could miss someone you’ve never actually met.
(He never knew you could love someone so deeply, especially someone you’ve never actually met.)
Someone he only ever met in his dreams.
Like a naive hopeless romantic, he never thought that this would come to an end. But it did. And it’s breaking him more than he can bear because he misses him. And he shouldn’t be missing someone who might not have even been real, but he does. And he knows it in his gut that he is real and he is out there. Somewhere. He is out there with his soft red hair and big brown eyes and probably wearing that bandana because Jeongguk said it looked good on him.
He missed the little things. The waking up to Taehyung’s cute memos. Yoongi’s banter. The selfies he’d look through on Taehyung’s phone and seeing how happy he was. His smile. The way his eyes turned into crescents when he was happy. The little dimples on his arm that he said looked like elephants. The matching one’s he said Jeongguk had on his thigh. He missed the dreams that never came, he missed the people on Taehyung’s side, he missed Soonshim, he missed Taehyung . He was staring out the window thinking about elephants and foxes and dreams catchers and how bright everything seemed in the eyes of Kim Taehyung.
(And he thinks of cafes and festivals and meteors, picking at the bracelet on his wrist, the matching one he has with Taehyung, and wonders if they’re looking under the same stars.)
It was a week of continuously not switching and no dreams that Jeongguk decides that something is wrong.
It’s a strange feeling. Once he accepts the fact that something is wrong, a sensation of dread rattles inside him, making him stay up at night. Burning memories end up with him drawing scenery he remembers from the place Taehyung lived. The next day he goes on a Naver hunt, trying to pin the place down, but comes back with nothing but tales of the recent festival and small towns that don’t fit his drawings at all.
It’s later that night, under the heat of the lamp on his desk, when Jeongguk is drawing the slope of Taehyung’s nose, remembering a particular night of stargazing, that he is struck with an idea.
He phones someone. It couldn’t be Jimin or Yugyeom, they would ask too many questions. He’s pretty sure Jimin is occupied with his new boyfriend, the grumpy coffee guy, so he wouldn’t be available regardless. So he rings up Hoseok-hyung and he’s not surprised when he takes his sudden request for a roadtrip in stride without getting too curious.
He emails his teachers about his absence, and thanks his good grades and the fact that this is his final year of high school, that he doesn’t have to worry much about missing out on school.
He gathers a few things from his desk, namely his phone with Taehyung’s memos, his drawings of Taehyung’s small town (including the ones he’d made of Taehyung himself), and a box he’d hidden under his bed that hadn’t been opened since their last switch.
He places them in his bag, shoving a few clothes and other necessities in it. Taking a deep breath, he buys the bus tickets online. He’s only going as far as Daegu in terms of towns. For some reason, things like names of places, dates, and times escape him when he returns to his body, but he didn’t really care much at the time. (And for some unexplainable reason, the name of the town disappears from his notes.) It didn’t help now that he wanted to find Taehyung.
He feels as if heading towards Daegu is the right option, though nothing in the pictures he’s seen has really matched up with what he’s drawn from his memories. He recalls it being an hours train ride away, just as Taehyung said he was, so he takes that as a good sign. He just hopes the feeling in his gut is pointing him in the right direction.
He leaves a note for Jimin because he knows he’ll come barging in after a few days of silence on his end. He doesn’t know why he knows it’ll take more than a few days, he just does.
He brings out his phone, and his finger hovers over the message app. He opens it and stares at the error message he received after sending Taehyung a text.
Message Failure. This number is not in service.
Before he leaves, he is surprised that there’s a package right outside his door. He doesn’t know how he could’ve missed the doorbell, but all he’d been thinking about was Taehyung, Taehyung, Taehyung , so he guesses he can excuse his ignorance. He flips it around, and he can see Taehyung’s messy scrawl on it (which you apparently keep even when in a different body).
Filled with a feeling of warmth and sadness and confusion—because when did he send this — , he opens the package.
He can’t help but smile when it reveals a small bunny plushie, an Iron Man plushie (to match with Taehyung’s Captain America one), and matching Iron Man socks.
Good luck with finals Guk! Hopefully this arrives on time ;~; I hope you like these! I got them just for you! for my favorite bunny :D I’ll see you in my dreams when we switch tonight~!
P.S. I used your credit card ꒰๑˃͈꒳˂͈๑꒱ﾉ*ﾞ̥ Please don’t be mad!
He grumbles about the money lost for a second, but ends up cooing at Taehyung taking the time to draw the emoticons out on paper. He almost cries. He’s not sure why. He doesn’t know when he’d become such a sap. He’s smiling like a maniac as he stuffs the items in his backpack, taking care to put the note in the box he took with him. This just makes him want to find Taehyung more, to thank him, hug him, and touch him for the first time in real life.
Something in his heart clenches and overwhelms his happy feelings. He just hopes he can find Taehyung to begin with.
“What’s in the box, Guk?”
“Just some notes I like to keep.”
“Why’d you bring them?”
“I think they’re going to help me find what I’m looking for.”
“What exactly are you looking for?”
“Uh…” Taehyung . “Myself, I guess?”
“Awe, my little Jeonggukie. All grown up. I remember when you were this small and—”
“I’ve only known you for two years, hyung.”
“You’ve grown, like six inches since then!”
And just like that, his mood immediately lifts. He’s glad he brought Hoseok with him even if he can’t tell him the whole truth.
“Thanks for coming with me so unexpectedly, hyung.”
“No problem, Guk.”
Amidst the slow descent of the sun and the tired haze of switching buses and entering motel rooms, Jeongguk realizes just how lonely he is. Even with Hoseok on the bed next to him, and with the dozens of other people surrounding him on the buses, he feels that cold, trembling hand of loneliness wrapped around his own. It had never been much of a problem before. He sought freedom and independence the moment he could move out on his own, and yet.
Sometime between the switches and the dreams and the memos and drawings and gifts, Taehyung had slipped into his side. He crept into the hole Jeongguk had only carved for one, in which Taehyung squeezed in and made for two. He had firmly rooted himself inside, and it seemed as if he would stay for as long as they’d live.
And the months that it went on, even without the physical presence by his side, it was a comforting knowledge that they would switch, and Taehyung would be back in his dreams to talk and chatter and fill the silence of one’s own thoughts.
But now that there wasn’t that guarantee that they would switch—and Jeongguk didn’t even know if he was alright or alive or worse—, there was room in Jeongguk’s hole that Taehyung left vacant. The roots had been uprooted, and they left painful indents of where they had once been.
He missed the warmth and the familiarity. He missed the laughter and the silence. He missed the red hair and the brown eyes. He missed his voice and his hands. He missed the way he said his name and the way his eyes would crinkle into stars when he smiled. He missed him. He missed him. He missed-
“Hey, Jeonggukie,” Hoseok nudged Jeongguk in his sleep. Jeongguk rolled to his side and groaned into a pillow. “Rise and shine, Jeongguk-ah. According to you, we have a lot planned for today!”
Jeongguk’s muffled “Five-more minutes, hyung” went unheeded as it was the fifth time he’d said it. He gets dumped off the bed, ungraciously, and groans.
“C’mon Jeongguk! I showed a man one of your drawings, he says he recognizes it.”
That gets Jeongguk up staggering and swaying from his sudden uprightness. He doesn’t question how Hoseok knew what to do, despite Jeongguk not explicitly telling him what he was looking for. There was a reason Hoseok was such a good friend of his.
The man ended up pointing them in the direction of Daegu. A long time ago, he had passed through the village for supplies. He couldn’t give the exact name and location, but it was on the outskirts of Daegu.
Jeongguk knew his gut was right in leading him towards Daegu. He could only hope that Taehyung was there and hadn’t disappeared on him.
They show more people the pictures, staying in multiple motels around the outskirts of Daegu. Only a few had recognized it, but none had an exact location.
Jeongguk slowly grew more and more frustrated because the longer he doesn’t find the town the more he forgets. He doesn’t want to, never wants to, but the notes on his phone start to slowly disappear, causing him to unexpectedly panic in the middle of the night. It’s like how it was at the start of it all, everything was becoming a haze and the one thing Jeongguk held onto was his name, Taehyung . He can’t forget Taehyung.
They went around for a few days, not getting anywhere until one man Jeongguk asks had remembered the name of the town.
That night, Jeongguk went to the local library of the town they were in. He looks up history books, news reports, anything regarding the town and quickly comes up with various articles.
He doesn’t like what he finds.
All of them describe a horrible fire that had destroyed the entire city two years ago, and all the people in it had died. The thought makes Jeongguk’s stomach churn uncomfortably with dread. No, he’s alive. He’s alive. I know he’s alive.
He looks up pictures of the town before it was burned, and the dread comes fills his stomach more because it looks exactly like his drawings. Exactly like what he remembered .
This can’t be possible. He can’t be dead. But Jeongguk should know by now that nothing is impossible, considering he’s been switching bodies with Taehyung for months now.
But he can’t be dead. He can’t.
He ends up looking up the death records of the town. He pulls the book off of the shelf and opens it. It’s raining outside. The light flickers on and off next to him, the only lighting in the dim setting. He reaches the Kim’s section and his index finger going down the list. He traces over Taehyung’s grandmother’s name, his sisters, his father, his mother—his heart stops when he sees the entry for “Kim Taehyung”, a picture of his school ID next to his name, age, date of death.
He comes back to the hotel room in shock. Hoseok had opted to stay in that day, to get rest, and is worried when he sees Jeongguk numbly walk in.
“Jeongguk-ah, what’s wrong?” He doesn’t expect Jeongguk to start babbling incoherently—words like "can't", "dead", and "no" don't escape him and Hoseok's heart clenches—, tears threatening to fall from his face, as he walks closer into Hoseok’s open arms. Something in the mumbles he says catches his ears. “Hey, hey, slow down, Guk. I’m here. I’m here.” After Jeongguk calms down enough that he’s gone silent in Hoseok’s embrace, tears freely falling now, he asks, softly, “Can you say the name of the town again?”
Jeongguk nods and mumbles it softly into his shoulder. Hoseok hears him. He’s smiling because he’s got a lead, at least.
“Jeongguk. Hey, look at me.” Hoseok says, pulling the boy away from his shoulder. He rubs comforting circles on Jeongguk’s shoulders as Jeongguk looks up, eyes puffy.
“I think I know someone who used to live there. Guess who’s going home?”
Jeongguk’s really confused as to why they’re back at Busan, namely so close to where Jimin lived. He’s pretty sure Hoseok has told him where they’re going and who this person was, but nothing has really been registering well in the past twenty four hours. He can’t be dead. He keeps telling himself this. But his logic fights him because Kim Taehyung was clearly in the death records.
Hoseok is leading him into an apartment now, it’s early afternoon the following day. Hoseok goes ahead of him while Jeongguk takes his shoes off. There’s a man Hoseok is talking to in the dining area, and the voice seems familiar but he can’t quite place it. That is, until they mystery man walks out to greet him.
“Yoongi-hyung.” Jeongguk stands still. Shocked. This can’t be. Is this the same Yoongi from Taehyung’s town? The more he looks at him, the more he’s convinced that it is the one and only Min Yoongi, best friend of Kim Taehyung, and the best rapper in Daegu. But that doesn’t make sense. Where there’s Yoongi, there’s Taehyung. They had been inseparable since birth, much like Jimin and Jeongguk.
So where’s Taehyung? Dead, according to history. But shouldn’t Yoongi be dead, too? He wouldn’t have let Taehyung die on his own. He wouldn’t.
Hoseok shifts a little beside Yoongi. “Do you guys know each other already?”
Jeongguk almost says yes, but Yoongi beats him to it with a curt, “No.” And Jeongguk is reminded that he was Taehyung when he met Yoongi, and of course he would not have known him.
“Yeah, sorry, I thought you were someone else I know. You guys must have the same name,” Jeongguk says, awkwardly. He doesn’t know how to process this newfound information.
“Actually, we’ve never met, but I do know of you.” Yoongi clarifies. “You’ve probably heard of me because of Jimin.”
“I… Oh.” Jeongguk says and it clicks. This must be the grumpy coffee guy that Jimin’s been talking about. Hoseok looks at him with concern, but goes back to talk to Yoongi. Jeongguk observes that he looks at Yoongi with a certain fondness that he’s never seen Hoseok give, not even to him—a favorite dongsaeng. He keeps that information tucked in the back of his mind, to talk about later. “Jeongguk has been looking all over for this town, and I remembered you used to live there.”
At the mention of his old town, Yoongi looks as if he doesn’t want to say anything. It must’ve been still fresh for him, much like it is to Jeongguk. But Yoongi had lived through it. It must’ve been so painful. Jeongguk can only imagine what it must’ve been like.
But he needs to know. He needs to. So he looks at Yoongi and says in a sincere voice, “Please. I need to know what happened.”
Yoongi looks like he’s about to say no, but he glances at Hoseok, who’s face is also pleading, and shakes his head. He motions towards the dining table. “Sit. I’ll get tea. It’s a long story.”
(Yoongi comes back with the tea, steaming and hot, and Jeongguk realizes that it’s Taehyung’s favorite.)
In a time, out of place, it goes like this.
Taehyung arrives at a train station, a bundle of nerves, but excited nonetheless. It takes the train an hour of travelling time, and he spends it going over various scenarios in his head and sighs happily with each one. He gets out and weaves through the crowd, expecting to see a tall familiar teenager with flowers in his hands. He looks around and doesn’t see anyone like that, but he knows this is around the time he should be here. He knows. And he’s right.
He’s shorter than Taehyung expected, but he finds him. He finds him, but something about him looks different. His pants look too pristine, his hair parted differently, his collar buttoned up all the way, his shoes unscuffed. He looks younger, different, and Taehyung can’t believe his eyes. Taehyung leaves his arms open as if to hug and to say hello. The boy passes by him, and Taehyung frowns.
“Jeongguk?” He says, deep voice thick with confusion. He reaches out to and touches his arm. He turns and it’s him. It’s no mistake. He just looks younger, softer.
“D-do I know you?” Taehyung’s heart shatters to pieces on the floor, but something isn’t adding up. He looked like a sixteen-year-old Jeongguk he’d only seen in pictures and not the eighteen-year-old one he knew.
Realization dawns on him, and Taehyung can’t help but notice that he’s missing his bracelet, the matching one he has, in what he realizes is—what must be—the future. He pulls his own bracelet off, and puts it into the hand he was holding onto. He looks at him, really looks at him, straight into his big doe eyes once, and says, “My name is Taehyung.” He waits for recognition, and gets none. “I’ll see you around, Iron Man.”
He’s back inside his train without another word, and Taehyung doesn’t know if he should be confused or sad. All he knows is that his eyes are watery, and when he blinks, tears start to cascade down his face.
It takes a while for Yoongi to start. Hoseok is beside him, having sensed that it must’ve been a rough topic. Jeongguk doesn’t push. But he knows Yoongi well enough to know that he will tell him, eventually.
He’s not quite sure if he’s ready to hear it, though.
He sips his tea, calmly, and nods when Yoongi asks if he knows about the fire. That’s when he starts.
“I was out of town that weekend. M-my best friend, he. He convinced me to try out for a music company down in Seoul. And, God, I wish I hadn’t gone. I wish I had stayed—I wish I could’ve done something , but—” Hoseok puts an arm comfortingly over his shoulder. Yoongi stays quiet for a minute, and Jeongguk doesn’t say anything.
“It was unexpected. We heard there was a fire spreading nearby, but it wasn’t heading our way.” Jeongguk vaguely remembers hearing about it on the news, the last time they switched, seemingly a lifetime ago. “Then some bullshit wind change happened overnight, and that was the same night they were doing maintenance on communications and shit. So no one heard about the warnings. And, they were—they were all asleep when it happened. It happened so fast and nobody could make it out on time. The only thing that’s left standing is the Kim Shrine. It’s on the outskirts of the city, th—that’s why it wasn’t touched. Fuck—if only I’d told him to go there. We used to meet up there all the time. ”
“Can you—can you take me there?” Jeongguk suddenly asks. Yoongi looks uneasy, immediately frowning at the suggestion.
“The last time I was there was two years ago, kid. I don’t know if I can—”
“Please, Yoongi-ssi. Please.” And Yoongi can’t say no. Not when Jeongguk’s voice almost cracks, and he looks at Yoongi with pleading eyes like he’s his only hope he’s got left. Not when he looks over at Hoseok, who’s also pleading, lightly touching his shoulder. Not when he thinks of Jimin, of how much he’s talked and worried of Jeongguk. Not when Jeongguk reminds him so much of how Taehyung had been acting the few months before the fire.
“Okay,” Yoongi finally says and it comes out, as low as a whisper. Jeongguk could barely hear it, but it’s enough. “Okay, I’ll take you. But I can’t stay for long, I have something to do with Jimin tonight. I have to be back here by then.”
Jeongguk’s suddenly hugging Yoongi, and he takes a step back in surprise. His arms slowly wrap themselves around Jeongguk, as the younger mutters “thank you” into his shoulder.
True to his word, Yoongi isn’t able to stay long. He brings them to the edge of the town, the village looking nothing like what it had been before, but the surrounding outskirts are the same. It’s still charred and burnt, some vines and plants in the overgrowth. It’s like the town had been forgotten by everyone but Yoongi, left to rot in it’s destroyed misery.
They walk to the temple, and Jeongguk takes his time to look over at the charred remains of the town. Even from this distance, he could tell where Yoongi's apartment complex used to be, the school, the grocery store, Taehyung’s house. Images of the town flashed through his mind as he looked at the scene. Flashbacks of the one time he’d been here with Yoongi come to the forefront of his mind.
“What’s in the there?”
“You would know better than I do, Tae.”
“Refresh my mind?”
“Isn’t it that special sake? The one with yours and your sisters’ spit in it?”
“Yeah, it was supposed to be a religious thing. It was a whole ceremony about a year ago. You talked non-stop about it, Tae. It was a really important part of your life.”
“Huh, I must’ve forgotten. Thanks, hyung.”
He wanders around the entrance, not yet willing to enter. Not yet. Since they’d arrived, Yoongi looked like he was trying his best not to cry. Jeongguk doesn’t look, knowing that Hoseok was there to keep him company. It felt private, as well, and he knows that Yoongi must’ve been filled with guilt and sadness.
Yoongi needs to leave, a few minutes after they get there. Hoseok goes back to the hotel room with him, and Jeongguk is left alone at the entrance. He goes inside.
A voice urges him and guides him through the shrine. He’s not quite sure what it is, but it leads him to a corridor. At the end of the corridor, Jeongguk spots what he’s been looking for. It’s the sake that Yoongi had told him about. It was a far off conclusion, but the voice urges him on to drink it, hoping to reconnect with Taehyung through it. He doesn’t understand why, or how, but he does know that he hears Taehyung’s voice, mixed with a strange entity, that tells him to drink it.
So he does. The world fades to black as the strong need to pass out overtakes him, and he feels it. The sensation he gets right before they switch. His world tilts and he’s gone.
Jeongguk awakens to the smell of vanilla and a familiar weight next to him. After a few moments of drowsiness, he remembers what happened. He shoots up from bed, Soonshim barking at him, and grabs his phone to check the date. He feels relief as he realizes that this was the day after they were supposed to meet for the festival. He’s alive. This is the night of the fire, but he’s still alive. Curiously, he looks at his wrist and realizes that his bracelet was gone.
He brushes the thought away focusing on his newfound time. Now that he’s here, he has to find a way to save the town, to save everyone. He sits back down on his bed, Soonshim immediately laying on his lap. He brushes through her fur contemplatively and asks her, “What am I going to do? How am I going to evacuate the entire village?” He stares at her black eyes as if she had all the answers in the universe. Soonshim tilts her head and blinks up at him. Hmm. Maybe not.
He thinks about just telling everyone that the fire was going to hit tonight, at school, but he doesn’t think that would go well. His classmates already have a grudge on him as it is, for all the wrong reasons.
He has to create it himself. He has to find a way to tell everyone to leave and go the shrine grounds. Like… like an emergency broadcast of some sort.
Suddenly, knocking him out of his thoughts, someone knocks on the door to his room. He lets out a quiet “Come in.” Yoongi enters the room and he’s surprised.
“I thought you were going to that audition, hot shot,” Jeongguk says, confused.
“I was just about to leave, Tae,” Yoongi says, rolling his eyes. “I wanted to say goodbye before I left. And to thank you.”
“No need to thank me. You deserve to be found, Yoongi. You have talent.” Jeongguk hopes he realizes that.
“Thanks, kid,” Yoongi says, giving him that rare gummy smile. “I’ll see you later.”
Just then, an idea comes to him.
“Wait! Hyung. I—actually. I know I just told you, you deserve to be found, but can you stay a little longer? I need your help.”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“You’d think I’m crazy if I told you.”
“There’s a fire that’s going to hit town tonight killing everyone. And I need your help to convince everyone to leave.”
“What the fuck?”
“I told you.”
“What the fuck, Tae? How do you know? The news has been reporting that the fire is heading the opposite direction?”
“I just do , hyung. It’s supposed to be some weird ass unexpected wind shift. Or something. And we didn’t hear because of some communications problem or some shit—the point is, will you help me?”
Yoongi stares at him for the longest time, and looks into his eyes, searching for something. “Are you sure, Tae?”
“More sure than anything in my entire life.”
“Okay, I’ll help. Tell me what you want me to do.”
It’s almost sunset when Yoongi manages to infiltrate the emergency broadcast system in Taehyung’s high school.
As soon as he does, he can see the mass confusion of the townspeople, but most importantly, he sees them following it.
It’s almost time for him to implement the next part of his plan, but first, he has to go somewhere.
When he gets to the top of the hill, near the shrine, he feels Taehyung, in Jeongguk’s body, is close. He starts running as soon as he can feel the tug, pulling his soul closer to Taehyung.
Bells ring softly in the background and Jeongguk stops. He realizes he’s in his own body, but where’s Taehyung .
He turns around at the same time the other does, and he almost cries because he is real and he’s alive and he’s here. He’s here in the flesh, in all his red haired, tanned skinned glory, and it’s not a dream. It’s not a dream.
Taehyung seems to realize it, too, because soon Jeongguk’s burying his face into Taehyung’s neck, arms around the other, as he whispers, “You’re alive. You’re here.” repeatedly. He says it to Taehyung, but it’s mostly to comfort himself.
“Of course I’m alive.” Taehyung whispers, into his ear, reassuring, and kisses at the junction where his ear and jaw meet. He straightens the creases of Jeongguk’s shirt, stroking his back in comforting motions. “I’m here.”
They stay like that for a few moments, taking the other in. This is real. Taehyung can barely believe it. He’s actually touching Jeongguk. It’s not a dream. He’s not switched with Jeongguk. He inhales the smell the fresh pine of his shampoo and touches his hair and face and arms. Jeongguk is almost crying in his arms, muttering the same words over and over again, but he fits perfectly into Taehyung’s body and Taehyung marvels at thought. Everything in this moment feels right—the feeling of Jeongguk’s body against his, hands raking through his hair, arms tight around his body. This is real, and Taehyung can barely believe it.
But the strange feeling happens again and crushes the moment before they can fully grasp it.
“Tae, do you feel it, too?” Jeongguk whispers, finally calm enough to move his head from Taehyung’s shoulder and looks at him—really looks at him, trying to savour the moment.
“Yeah,” Taehyung admits, arms loosening around Jeongguk, hands trailing down his arms to grab Jeongguk’s. He brings Jeongguk’s hands up to his lips, kissing the knuckles, as he says, “Yeah, I do.”
“You have to do the rest, Tae. You have to get your dad to evacuate the town, I’m sure Yoongi’s already gotten caught. The only way they’ll keep evacuating is if you get your dad to do it.” Jeongguk tells him, voice grave.
“I know.” He brings Jeongguk’s hands up to either side of his face. “And I’ll do it, but first, you have to do something for me.”
“And what’s that?” Jeongguk asks, moving his face closer to Taehyung, thumb running across Taehyung’s bottom lip, already knowing the answer.
There noises touch briefly, as Taehyung says, “Kiss me.”
When they kiss, the world could’ve turned upside down, and they wouldn’t have noticed. In that moment, it was just Jeongguk and Taehyung, and Taehyung and Jeongguk. And it felt right, as Jeongguk moved his hands to rake his fingers through Taehyung’s hair, and as Taehyung pulled him closer, deepening the kiss.
When they pull apart, it takes a while to catch their breath. The sun is almost setting. They can feel their own times pulling them back to their present. Taehyung belongs here, two years from Jeongguk’s present, and Jeongguk belongs two years in the future, in his.
“I should go,” Taehyung whispers, pressing their foreheads together.
“I don’t want you to.” Jeongguk says, pecking him on the lips.
“I don’t either, but I have to,” Taehyung reasons. It takes a lot in him to pull away, only their hands left holding the other. They can both feel their time together running short. “Someone has to save this town, and Iron Man is busy.”
Jeongguk chuckles. “You were the one that called me Iron Man, right?”
“You bet I did.” Taehyung winks. He steps away, fully before Jeongguk realizes something.
“Wait! Taehyung, wait. Here.” He gives him his bracelet, the one he’d gotten from Taehyung. Black beads strung together surrounding a single white one. A distance bracelet. He gives it to him, putting it on his wrist, and then pulls out a black sharpie. He writes something on Taehyung’s palm then hands it to him. “Write your name on my hand. Whenever I was back in my own time, I could feel myself slowly start to forget you.”
Taehyung writes something on his palm, finishing just as he feels his hand pass through Jeongguk’s, as if he was a ghost. His eyes widen in realization. Their time is up. Jeongguk bites his bottom lip, eyes sad, already missing the heat of Taehyung’s hand. Already forgetting.
“I’ll see you later, Captain America,” he says, eyes watering. “Go.”
And Taehyung does.
As Taehyung runs from the shrine, he whispers Jeongguk’s name over and over again in his head, willing himself not to forget. He trips ungraciously near the bottom of the hill, and momentarily loses his train of thought. Wait, wait. No. What’s his name?
He looks at his palm and stares at the words.
I love you - JJK
He feels tears fall from his face, and all he can think about is how much he loves someone he can’t remember the name of. How utterly stupid they had been to not write their name.
He’s running again.
The more time passes, the more he feels like he’s forgetting something. All he knows is that there’s going to be a fire, and that he’s heading to his father to get him to evacuate the town. He can’t remember why or how he knows, but he’s never been more sure of something in his life. But he feels like he’s forgetting something important. Very important.
He walks in on his father in the broadcasting towers of their town. He gives him a hard look and tells him everything he knows. His father is staring at him for a long time, searching his eyes and looking for something.
Whatever it is, he finds it. He continues the emergency broadcast and they leave within a matter of hours.
Later the next morning—after finding the wind had changed and burned all of their houses just as Taehyung had said it would—they ask Taehyung how he knew. He shrugs because he doesn’t remember.
He stares at his palm, wondering who wrote its’ words and why he feels his heart ache every time he sees them.
(Ever since that day, Taehyung has been looking for something, chasing a dream he seems to be missing. Something important that makes his heart whole. It’s a creeping sense of someone he can’t quite grasp, who’s always on the tip of his tongue, nails on a chalkboard screeching loudly in his ear to remember . But every time he tries, it hurts. But he chases the dreams, the feelings, whatever it is that he’s missing because he thinks it would hurt more to never find whatever’s gone.)
The sun rises from the hills and casts its light over Jeongguk’s sleeping form. He wakes with an aching back and a fuzzy recollection. He sits up, feeling the rough dirt on the palms of his hands as he looks at the sunrise. How long had he been asleep? He doesn’t know why he’s here, at the top of a mountain overlooking a charred, ghost town. He vaguely remembers being there the day before, travelling aimlessly around Daegu, trying to find this place in his dreams. But he doesn’t remember why it was so important to him.
It eats at him, this feeling of not knowing. He should know. He’s not the type to do something like this on a whim. It must’ve been important. He furrows his eyebrows and reaches his right hand to his temple. His head hurts. A memory is dancing on a line it cannot pass and it hurts.
He moves to stand, but something on his right palm catches his eye. He frowns as he’s faced with scribbled handwriting that he can’t quite place, but he feels a ghost touch of someone’s long calloused fingers holding his wrist. He doesn’t remember and yet he does.
His eyes are suddenly blurry, but he doesn’t know why. When the first tear falls, he’s shocked. He doesn’t know why he’s sad. He doesn’t remember.
He doesn't remember.
He returned to the hotel later that morning to a worried Hoseok. After a tight hug and a scolding, the first question out of the man’s mouth was “Have you been crying? What is that?” Pointing to the words on his palm. Jeongguk could only shrug and say,
“Let’s go home.”
It was sudden. Unexpected. And when Hoseok went to question him—because Jeongguk had been so stubbornly fixed upon finding something, someone, that it was hard to believe that he wanted to go home just like that—, Jeongguk just waved a hand at him dismissively. Tiredness dripped from his voice, and his face was the picture of exhaustion. Hoseok couldn’t say no to that.
He gathered his things absent-mindedly, but stopped short at a box that lay open on the desk of his hotel room. Inside lay multiple pieces of paper, but none of them had anything written on them.
He furrowed his eyebrows. Why did he bring a box of blank, detached pieces of paper?
He sighed in exasperation. He was too tired to deal with the confusion. Gathering up the notes, he walked them to the trashcan to throw them away. He stopped short of doing so. Something made him stop. He sucked in his lower lip in thought. He ended up putting the box in his bag.
“Did you find what you were looking for?”
They’re laying on beds in a hotel that night, opting to spend one more day in Daegu before going back to Busan. The whirring of the fan and chirping of the crickets fill the silence between words. No lights are on, only the setting sun illuminates the growing darkness of the room.
“...I think I did.”
“Mmm. It doesn’t seem like it. What happened to your bracelet? I’ve never seen you without it.”
Jeongguk hadn’t even noticed. He glanced at his wrist, half in shadow, half in light. It is gone.
“I must’ve lost it,” he muttered softly.
He slept an uneasy, dreamless sleep.
It takes him days to fully wash the sharpied words off of his hand. Normally he wouldn’t stand something like that being on his hand for so long, but he can't make himself scrub it raw.
It’s a similar feeling to when he finds various drawings of a town he’s never been to fill his room. Drawings and portraits and paintings of someone he can’t remember, but whom he finds undeniably beautiful, are in all of his sketchbooks, too. There’s the Iron Man plushie he unpacks from his backpack and he can’t remember who gave it to him, just that it was by someone important but who also wasn’t Jimin, Yugyeom, or Hoseok. There’s the chocolate muffins and various teas in his pantry that he can’t remember buying and he doesn’t know why they’re there because he’s not too fond of tea or muffins. But eating them brings some sort of comfort to him.
The weeks after, he would lay in bed thinking about all of the things he’d come back to finding oddly out of place, but his head would start to hurt and he would figure it wasn't worth the pain.
The words fade like a dream and soon Jeongguk forgets about them as well.
( “Well, what does it say, Jeonggukie?”
“Mmm it’s weird.”
“C’mon let me see.”
“Hmm… ‘Don’t forget about me. Signed Kim T.’”
“Odd, isn’t it? I don’t even know who Kim T. is.”
“And you didn't write this?”
“No… it just appeared on my hand that morning, like I told you before.” )
Jeongguk stares at his palms absent-mindedly, body rocking with the movement of the train. His fingers trace over non existent words on his right palm. Something he hadn’t thought about in years. He has a feeling, something deep and nostalgic bubbling inside him tasting like chocolate muffins and caramel lattes and smelling of vanilla and strawberries. It stirs within him as his fingers trace each stroke over his palm. It stirs something melancholy, something sad. A feeling.
He startles when the train stops. He glances up and realizes it’s his. He leaves the forgotten words traced over his palm on his warm seat in the train and picks up his backpack from the floor.
He couldn’t tell you exactly what the words were the moment he got up. He remembers he felt like he was tracing a don’t forget about me that feels strangely like an i love you, but there’s always something missing. Something he can’t quite place. He forgets that it’s the letters after the don’t forget about me but before his finger stops tracing. It feels like a kim but it feels like something missing. He can’t go much with kim regardless, there are thousands with the same surname in his country. Maybe that’s why it’s something he easily forgets.
There’s always something missing, and it comes with an unbearable loneliness that eats at his bones and makes him shiver when he’s curled up alone on his bed at night, hands tightening around his arms and legs as he hugs himself to sleep. But he manages. He’s always been independent. But now there’s something missing.
( It somehow eases his mind when his friend, Yoongi, buys him a vanilla scented candle and a replacement bracelet for his old one, but he doesn’t know why. )
He’s walking. It’s a familiar path, one he usually passes. Feeling spontaneous he decides to take the stairs up and across the bridge instead of his usual route.
It takes him by surprise. He sees soft brown hair, tan skin, a beige scarf, and round glasses. He is blinded. He flicks his eyes periodically to the side, but he can’t help but stare, especially when he catches the other man looking back. There’s a look on his face, and he swears it’s recognition, and it’s almost like that with him, but he can’t describe it. The feeling is back, at full force, but it leaves something more than a bitter taste of melancholy in his mouth. It’s like there’s memories wanting to burst from his mind, at the tip of his tongue, his fingertips, his eyes, but there’s nothing.
And he’s already halfway up the stairs and the other man meets him halfway down. Their fingers almost touch on the railing between them, feeling electric, magnetic, gravitating towards the other.
They pass each other, and bells ring somewhere off in the distance. It feels like eternity but a deep, rich voice pulls him back. He could’ve gotten whiplash when he looked behind him to stare at the brown hair and tan skin and beige scarf and round glasses. He blinks and sees him with red hair and a cut up red sweatshirt. He blinks and it’s gone.
( “Hey, Jeongguk.” )
“Hey, uh, do I know you? What’s your name?”
( “Yeah, Tae?” )
“Jeon Jeongguk. What’s yours?”
( “Don’t forget about me, okay?” )
( “I won’t.” )
“It-it’s nice to meet you.”
( It reads as a promise and leaves as an I love you . )
The floodgates open, and the water breaks free.
( “Hey are you okay? You’re crying.”
Jeon Jeongguk. Jeongguk. It feels like deja vu but not at the same time. The name is familiar on his tongue and he thinks Yoongi mentioned it when he asked to come stay at his place, but it feels wrong to remember it like that. It feels wrong to just say he was a friend of Yoongi's because it feels like something more but he feels like something’s missing.
It feels like he’s missing something important. Something he can’t quite place. Like the words on his palm. But he feels so close. It’s almost clicking, but it won’t fit. He needs to turn to key more, just a little bit, to get it to slide into the hole.
“I-I don’t know, I-” Taehyung reaches up to touch his face and wipes the tears away, but they don’t stop. He’s crying in front of some stranger(?) and it should embarrass him but he feels an odd weight lift when he looks up and sees Jeongguk. He looks up at his big, brown, doe eyes and- “You’re crying, too.”
Jeongguk stops short of touching Taehyung’s hand, frozen at the realization, and Taehyung almost wishes he didn’t say anything. He’s wearing a bracelet so familiar—it looks eerily like the one on his own wrist—, yet Taehyung can’t place it. So instead, Taehyung reaches up and wipes the tears for him.
As soon as they touch, he gasps. The key fits and turns and unlocks. The something missing, becomes something found. And before he knows it, he’s laughing and crying at the same time, his hands still on Jeongguk’s face, caressing it, thumb wiping away more tears.
They must’ve looked ridiculous. Two grown men crying on the steps near the Busan train station, holding each other, with nothing but a railing separating them. )
( “Remember when you said you’d never forget me?”
“I never did. I never forgot you.”
“Hmm, something tells me otherwise.”
“You were always there, Tae. I didn’t know it, but you were the words on my palm, the hole in my life. Something missing… but I found you.”
“You found me.”
Jeongguk feels the smile on his lips as Taehyung closes the gap between them. )