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First Love

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C H A P T E R    T H R E E

"Even when I look away

I am still looking."

Richard Siken

 

The siblings spoke in Busan satoori, quick and fiery, vowels shaped like bullets. Jimin's face was shadowed whilst Jinah dabbed his brow with a towel, delicate as a sunflower that was apologetic for how much sun it had received.

I tried to keep up but their conversation moved fast like cursive handwriting, impressive to watch but difficult to separate into standard Korean. My own Daegu dialect had become diluted over the years. I still found myself slipping into it when I felt anxious or threatened.

After taking my sweet time packing up the sound equipment, I said my goodbyes to the orchestra but Jimin noticed my deviation, breaking away from his sister and coming up to me, a puppy on a summery field. It had been a week since I'd given him the soundtrack CD as a gift and we'd been spending our breaks together, chatting about trivial stuff. It was funner than bearing the cold with the other smokers since he didn't smoke and it was only a stress habit for me.

Jimin had a way of fishing opinions out of me, ones that I didn't even know myself. The way my tongue loosened around him terrified me because I wasn't used to talking about myself for long bouts of time. But he was a good listener and the frequent brush of his hand on mine caught my breath. Jimin had one of those loud laughs, always funnier than the joke, the kid who set everybody else off, collapsing back, chin tipped, neck stretched, eyes shut tight as tears squeezed out of the corners. It was beautiful. I liked it best when his hand clapped my shoulder in explosive hilarity.

But it was the campfire of warmth in my chest that petrified me the mostpretending it didn't exist was my best bet right now.

"Yoongi hyung!" Namjoon was waving at me from the exit because we had to get to the club in Gangnam within an hour to set up before the night began.

"You're coming out tonight, right?" Jimin asked, eyes shrinking behind his smile. It was my favourite smile of his.

I turned around to look at Namjoon, letting out a groan. Seokjin must have invited all the dancers to come to our night out in Gangnam. I guess he had point, it was so much easier working when you could enjoy the rest of night with friends instead of sleazy strangers and brooding bouncers.

"I haven't got a choice," I answered. "I'm working as one of the DJs for tonight."

Jimin instantly perked up. "You are?"

"Sadly."

"Then I'll be there." Jimin grinned, brushing my shoulder. The campfire inside me glowed. "I want to see you in your element."

I laughed, touching my hair. It was in desperate need of a trim. "It really isn't anything special."

"Well if it's anything compared to your skills here then I'm sure you'll set the night on fire."

I laughed again. "Whatever. I'll catch you later."

Jimin's hand brushed my shoulder again. "You can count on that."

Reluctant to say goodbye, I moved towards the exit without turning my back to him. Jimin grinned at me, only breaking eye contact when he was spun around by Hoseok who draped an arm around him and began cracking jokes that made the second lead throw his head back with hysterical laughter. I wanted to make him laugh that way but I wasn't a funny person.

At the door, Namjoon wrapped a scarf around my neck.

"Thanks, man."

"It's cool." He studied my face. "You're not still mad about tonight are you, hyung?"

I tugged the scarf up to my nose, hiding my slight grin. "Yes, I am."

He breathed a laugh, relieved. "Good."

I socked his shoulder. "Loser."

"What? Can't I have kink for your rage?"

"Don't make me vomit."

"It's gift to look good when you're angry. Your passion on stage is unmatched when you're pissed off," he laughed, trotting down the marble stairs.The wind weaved fingers through his quiff. "Do you want to get grab a drink with the dancers after we set things up at the club? They're having pre-drinks and dinner at the restaurant near the station. It's all within the radius of the cafe if you wanna stop by home first."

"I'm alright thanks. I have to finishing arranging a new track I'm working on. I know I won't have time to do it when I get home."

"Workaholic."

"You know it."

We cut across campus in the dying light, the cutting breeze making our eyes stream. In the main courtyard, the grass was just coming through, growing like the hairs of a gel-obsessed teenagerspiky and tousled. Our boots crushed baby dandelions but as Namjoon lit a cigarette for us to share, I crouched down for a second, blowing a dandelion until it went out like a birthday candle. I didn't know what I was wishing for except change. Life had been a dull hum of grey since I'd been rejected from SIA four years ago. Since then I'd been drifting from club to studio to rave, playing music to dead ears, writing lyrics in my room until sunrise. My name was whispered in the underground scene but I didn't want applause, I just wanted to make art. My art. I had only applied to SIA to please my mum so the rejection letter came like sweet wine, but now I was drunk with aimlessness and didn't know what to do with myself. Having no direction didn't always mean freedom if you were stuck in the same spot, trapped. Lately I found myself busy with the coffee shop but the smell of coffee beans was like death to me now, abandoned dreams that I had forgotten to sow and reap.

Namjoon took a long drag and passed the cigarette to me. "So are you going to tell me what's bothering you or am I going to have to buy you drinks all night long until you talk?"

I tapped off the ash and took a long drag, holding it in until my lungs collapsed like a house of cards. Smoke rushed out of my nose and mouth.

"It's nothing," I replied, leaning against the tree behind me. Tipping my head back, I marvelled at the sky until my eyes stung from the brightness. "I just feel stuck here."

He reworked his face from curiosity to confusion. "I thought this showcase was something you really wanted to do."

"I do . . . I did." I winced. "I just feel like I should be doing more but the days are short and I'm just so busy all the time." I sighed, pulling my leather jacket tighter around my chest. "You were right about moving onto to bigger and better things. Maybe this showcase isn't a step up."

"It is."

I chuckled at his defiance. "But Seokjin"

He spoke at the same time, imitating me. "Seokjin specifically asked us to help him and we honoured that request because that's what friendship is about. Loyalty. Plus you two are all I have," Namjoon paused. "Did he ever tell you why it had to be us? We're not exactly qualified sound technicians." Patting himself on the back, he added, "I'm pretty much learning as we go along. And you're only a whiz because your dad was one of the best sound engineers ever."

I passed him the cigarette and blew on my cold hands. "No he didn't. I figured it was best to just leave it, but I'm sure he had a valid reason."

Namjoon grew quiet with thought. "I guess so." He looked around the courtyard. "Speaking of the devil, Seokjin's finally done talking to Jinah. That lasted shorter than I expected."

When Seokjin arrived, his hands forked through his hair one too many times.

"You okay?" I asked as we set off, the wind messing his hair even more.

He yanked a beanie over his unruly locks and nodded. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Namjoon and I glanced over my shoulder where Jinah and Hoseok were just exiting the grand theatre, heads close like two mushrooms growing too closely together. Hoseok's face was shadowed and Jinah seemed to be talking in a hurry.

"You didn't try anything, did you?" Namjoon asked, turning back to face Seokjin.

"Of course I didn't," he answered, pulling his hat further down. It didn't cover his blushing ears.

 

*******

Neon lights skated over the walls in cones, spotlighting the dance floor in rainbow polka dots. Sweaty arms were raised like crooked branches, drinks slopping everywhere, their eyes half-shut and mouth sagging open with laughter and shouty conversations. From the upper deck at bird's eye viewthe best vantage pointI tried to spot a mop of pink but under the changing neon lights everybody looked like they had pastel pink hair.

"You should take a break," Namjoon shouted over the music, pushing his headphones around his neck like a choker. "You've been standing here for two hours and even covered half my set. Go enjoy yourself. I'll wrap up the last hour with a dubstep mix."

My arms were heavy with exhaustion. I hadn't slept in two days straight, each movement sloppier than the first. My set had been full of unnoticeable errors but who would call me out for it? Drunk people danced to anything you played for them. The only person sparing me concerned glances was Namjoon, who returned after the clock passed one in the morning with a water bottle in one hand and a girl in the other. I knew she'd be impressed by the mixing board and disc player, making me eager to escape.

"Do you want a drink?" I asked him as I unhooked my headphones and put them in my bag so I wouldn't forget them later.

"I'm good," he answered, grinning. "I had a couple of beers earlier."

"Whereabouts is Seokjin again?"

"He went home about an hour ago. Said he didn't feel too well and has a paper to hand in on Monday. I think he's just really upset about the whole Jinah situation. Who knew she had a thing with Jung Hoseok?"

I groaned. "So he didn't really kiss her?"

The answer was obvious when Namjoon grimaced, a wan smile. "I told him not to be so bold with freshmens but he never listens to me. The younger girls aren't like the seniors noonas. Those girls have experience. Freshmens are too delicate."

"You should have told me what he was planning if you knew so much about it."

Namjoon switched the best to an uptempo echo, the bass shaking over the track. I had to hold my ears to keep myself from jumping at the sudden change.

"Stop cutting tracks. Cross-fade from one track to another. Are you sure you can take over for the rest of the night?"

He nodded. "I'm sure."

I pointed my chin at the controller. "Keep your hand on the fader then."

"Go have fun, dad." To my irritation, his hand left the controller again. "Tonight might be your lucky night. I've never seen you take someone home before."

"Neither have you."

He winked, waving me down the stairs to the main floor of the club. "Not to mine I haven't. The SIA kids are by the bar by the way."

I pushed my way past the throngs of sweaty bodies, getting crushed between gyrating pelvises and elbows. A guy who was fist-pumping too violently got his wristwatch stuck to my jacket and tried to pick a fight when I got shoved into him.

The bar felt like a desert away and my lips felt parched. Even a smile from Jimin could make me forget the taste of water for weeks. It was strange the way crescent-shaped lips could arrange themselves into something so perfect, effortless and pure. Everybody felt more relaxed when Jimin smiled.

When I reached the far end of the club, Jimin and his troupe were nowhere in sight, instead a disorganised queue cluttered the bar's counter, groups of girls and eager men were chattering like kids in a playground. I pushed my way to the front and leaned over the marble counter, amazed at the hexagonal territory that the counter marked off-limits. Bartenders rushed to pour drinks from a fountain, rainbows of liquor pouring, moving so fast they looked like they were hopping on hot coal.

"What can I get you?" a lanky bartender asked, his uniform crisp as a butler.

Over the bartender's shoulders on the other side of the hexagon, I spotted a bobbing mop of pink hair moving in the background. Another flash of pink appeared next to the first. Butterflies took off inside me like doves at a wedding. I cursed my pathetic bubble of pre-teen happiness because it was silly to get excited over people I barely knew.

"Uh, three mojitos and a shot of double vodka please?"

The bartender nodded, a grasshopper on rollerblades with the way his twiggy arms skated back and forth between the shelves of bottles.

"That'll be 40,000 won." He slid the glasses towards me, taking the outstretched cash in my hand. I downed the shot with a sharp wince. "Can you give two of these glasses to the pink-haired boy and girl over there?"

The bartender looked as if he was going to drop a rude remark before mumbling, "For fuck's sake, what am I? A delivery man?" He crossed the inner perimeter of the hexagon, sliding the two glasses towards Jimin and Jinah before pointing at me. "Your friend over there paid for these."

Jimin glanced up. Then broke into a dazed grin. Jinah squealed and waved her hand at me to come and join them, so I snaked my way past pulses of people, dancing like heartbeats that could drop dead any moment. Most people were at the height of euphoria, but I had only started drinking. Once glance at Jimin and the night felt young, as if the seconds were shuffling backwards to make time for us. He pulled me forward when I was an arm's distance away and slung his arm around my neck. It was too crowded not to press my side against his, but my face doused itself in flames when he studied my side profile.

"Hey," he greeted me, shouting over the music.

His sister laughed at his light-bulb, bright smile and explained. "He's been looking for you all night."

I smiled at Jinah. "He has?"

She smiled back. "He has."

My gaze found Jimin "You have?"

He snorted a laugh, a mask struggling its way over his face. "No I haven't. Oh, there are the others. I thought we'd lost them." He waved excitedly, jumping up and down. "Hyung!"

Hoseok's head snapped in our direction. He cheered and rallied the others. A large group of ten waded their way towards us and we formed a circle. Wedged between Jimin and Jinah, I sipped my cocktail, a light warmth flurrying to my head. I rocked back and forth on my heels as the dancers chattered about the rehearsal while the musicians jumped into a debate about their favourite classical masterpieces, ordering round after round of shots, knocking them back like water. I stopped drinking after the fifth, but the dancers kept going until they hit the eighth shot. Some dispersed to the smokers' lounge outside whilst the rest of us gravitated towards the dance floor. Unable to handle any more alcohol, Jinah transformed from elegant lead dancer into baby giraffe legs, knees knocking together as she laid her head on Hoseok's shoulder. The tenderness in his gaze made me look away, afraid that I had invaded a moment that wasn't mine to share.

I noticed Jimin staring at me.

"What?" I asked, touching my hair.

He laughed. "Did you hear a word I just said?"

I pursed my lips. "Yeah of course."

He laughed again, softer. As the waves foamed in my mind, my vision began to fracture and I lost trail of the conversation again as it bounced around like a ball. I couldn't focus on Jimin when he was studying my expression wearing that dazed smile of his, so I conjured up his face behind my eyelids, my eyes shut and head nodding in time to the crazy beat that Namjoon was playing. I lost myself in a daydream of sweet nothings before snapping out of it and glancing up at the VIP area on the first floor, running my eyes around the inner balcony to find Namjoon flashing a thumbs up at me. He knew I loved this song. I shook my head, embarrassed of letting go of my self-control. Drinking made me young and reckless. It dumbed down my age back to twenty-two instead of the adult I had become since my dad passed away. I didn't like to go back because it felt like undoing time's progress and my healing.

Namjoon cut the track to a popular dance anthem. The club roared with delight, hands shot out, wrists were grabbed; I found myself being yanked into the centre of the dance floor with a shot in one hand and Jimin's fingers caught in the other.

"Dance with me," he said breathlessly, throwing his arms over his head, carefree as a child in a field of sunflowers. His laughter spiralled like balloon released into the sky.

"I don't know how to dance," I answered, shuffling from side to side.

"'Course you do." His eyes fluttered shut, entirely consumed by the music.

The warm liquor in my stomach dizzied me. Something came undone when Jimin spun in circles around me, the music lifting him off the ground like gravity trusted him enough to let him go. He always came back, landing and rising, the dance floor becoming his trampoline. We danced like a pillow fight with no feathers, full of back-bent laughter, too funny to stand straight. I was all elbows and angles, but Jimin softened my corners until I was swaying with my eyes shut. I wanted to move like him, like dye in water, spreading into the colourlessness around him.

I wanted to live in the song forever, but like all things it came to an end.

My eyes opened slowly. Jimin was already looking at me. I blinked into the spray of neon lights and asked, "What? Is there something on my face?"

I couldn't tell if he moved closer or if the ground between us shrunk.

"I didn't know you could dance."

I barked a laugh. "I can't."

His eyes melted into mine. "Funny. You do know how to let go."

"What does that have to do with dancing?"

"Dancing isn't about keeping control. It's about losing control so you can find it again."

Confused, I sidestepped a couple that pushed past. "I don't understand."

Jimin's eyes crossed together, dazed. "It's okay." He paused, adding, "I like it though. You look so . . . young."

"I'm still your hyung."

The heteronormative hierarchy troubled his face. "Of course." The eclipse passed when the track cut to an Agust D number and I cringed, making a mental note to kill Namjoon later. 

"Oh my god, I love this song."

"You do?"

"Yes," Jimin breathed, pulling me closer.

I stumbled, staggering whenever my vision split into twos and threes. I felt like a butterfly on hallucinogens, full of beating warmth and excitement at this new life of freedom. This is must be how summer feels when spring finally surrenders to longer days and beachy Sundays.

We danced to a few more songs, hands catching each other, hair flipping onto our foreheads and back. Sweat dampened my upper lip and nape, but the neon lights echoed behind my eyes like ambulance sirens and the next round of drinks struck my limit like a wall.

"I need fresh air," I said suddenly, stirring to life like a robot born again. Self-control stiffened my limbs and I lost the elasticity that came from dancing with Jimin. "Do you want to go outside for a bit?"

Before Jimin could reply, a few of his friends broke us apart with another round of shots. I shook my head, unstable to stomach any more. The girl with ropy braids shrugged and offered my shot to Jimin who downed both in seconds. My stomach gurgled. He swiped a sleeve over his mouth and grinned at me, the asymmetrical kind, goofy and aloof. I hated that my insides burned more when he smiled than it did with the hard liquor the dancers had egged me to down earlier.

"You okay?" I asked when he staggered towards me.

"Yeah," he breathed, jerking upwards in an ill-planned jump. Gravity didn't trust him this time. He slid down my arms like melting wax. For a dancer he sure was clumsy. First the stage and now this?

"Okay, you need a break, mister." I tightened my arm around his waist and tapped Jinah with my other hand. Hoseok's face was buried in her hair. I didn't know how they were slow dancing to an upbeat song.

"Jimin-ah," he called over the music. His smile fell when Jimin burped and clapped a hand over his mouth.

I hoisted Jimin upright as he giggled, a sound much like bells. My chest flipped itself and I felt myself about to melt like wax too. Jinah's eyes dilated with concern, her words continued to blur. "What'swrongwithhim?"

"I think he's had too much to drink," I said.

"He needs water," Hoseok said, detaching himself from Jinah. "I'll be right back."

"I'm fine," Jimin said, giggling again. He didn't make an effort to stand on his own.

Jinah and I exchanged a look. Hoseok returned with a glass and we all watched Jimin's adam's apple bob up and down as he chugged it down.

"Better?" Jinah asked, cupping her brother's cheek.

He nodded in slow motion, eyes lit like a child on Christmas morning. Hoseok chuckled and clapped me on the back.

"He's a real keeper, this one."

I couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic or suggestive. I brushed away their concern with a reassuring smile. "He'll be fine with some fresh air." I pointed at the nearest exit where two bouncers were talking closely. "We'll be outside if you need us."

Hoseok nodded but Jinah still looked unconvinced. "Make sure he sobers up." She blinked slowly, disorientated, her own drunkenness betraying the stern edge to her voice. "I'm not taking him home like this."

Jimin's face contorted. "You . . . water . . . first."

The sudden friction between the siblings caught me off guard but Hoseok seemed untouched by the sting.

I hauled Jimin to the nearest exit that opened up to an alleyway full of smokers. Red-bricked walls glistened under red neon signs, mostly aesthetic quotes and lyrics in English. Wading through the mass of bodies and smoke, we trudged towards the far end of the alleyway near the dumpsters, I balanced Jimin against the wall where he threw up a waterfall and coughed violently. I rubbed circles on his back, my free hand clasping his shoulder when he leaned forward and teetered like a collapsing building.

"Go easy, buddy."

I let him slide down the wall. press his head between his knees.

"I feel like shit."

"I'll get you water."

He didn't say anything, just a defeated nod. I returned with two cups, pressing them both into his palm. He sipped one and left the second untouched.

"Aren't you going to drink that?" I asked, sitting cross-legged in front of him. The gravel pinched my bottom, making me wince every time I shifted.

"You need it more than I do," he answered, toneless. My smile fell. Jimin picked up on it, his lips stretching out a little. "I didn't mean anything by it. You're just a little too buzzed right now."

Liquid confidence made me bold. "So what? I feel good."

He looked around, then up at the sky, his angular jawline cutting and masculine yet softened by the rest of his exhausted expression.

"You wanna get out of here?" I asked, crawling into a standing position. I brushed gravel off my jeans.

"Mmm hmm," he murmured, nodding.

"Can you walk?"

"I think so."

He limped alongside me as we entered the club again so I could grab my bag from the VIP area. The smell of sweat and liquor hit me, a strange mix alongside cologne and flowery perfume. It's weird how you can't notice bad smells until you go back inside a room. My nose prickled and I sneezed.

"Cute," Jimin said, tripping over his feet. He caught himself and broke out into a sheepish smile. I followed the staircase of warmth inside me, going higher up the ranks until my face was a shade short of red.

When we reached the upper balcony, he asked, "Are you sure we're even allowed up here?"

"I am," I replied, holding out my stamped wrist. "You're not."

"You're telling me now?"

"Just stick with me and you'll be fine." I lifted a hand and waved over the dancing couples to grab Namjoon's attention. "'Sup, bro."

His eyes ran tracks over my face, finishing at my crooked grin and misty eyes. "Well someone's having the time of their life. How much did you have to drink?"

I pinched my fingers together. "That little."

"Clearly," he drawled. "Are you leaving already?"

I nodded, jerking a thumb behind me where Jimin was leaning over the banister and surveying the thinning crowd below. The SIA students were nowhere in sight.

"I need to take this one home," I said, reaching for my bag.

"My set finishes in twenty-five minutes. Stick around and we'll split the cab?"

I laughed at his attempt to save money. "I live less than ten minutes away, why would I pay for a cab?"

"I was talking about Park Jimin. He lives on campus, right? That's at least an hour away."

I hadn't thought that far ahead. "In that case I'm gonna look around for Jinah. Pretty sure his crew are waiting for him outside."

Namjoon shrugged. "I haven't seen them in a while. Wanna give them a call?"

"Have you got their number?"

"Not Jinah's. Use Jimin's phone."

After grabbing my things, I waved goodbye to Namjoon, the lights changing his blonde hair into shades of red, blue, purple and green. It was nice of him to burden the workload tonight. Usually I was the one letting him off the hook after an hour and half of a set. Did I really look so drained these past few days for him to cut me some slack? I wanted to ask him how his mum was faring but couldn't find the time or place to ask the important questions. We all seemed so busy all the time.

"Hey, mind if I use your phone to text your sister?"

Shaking his head, Jimin pocketed his cellphone. I considered getting him another glass of water but it'd only make him need the bathroom; as long as he could walk without my support, then we were all good.

"I already texted to leave without me," he confessed.

My heart jumped, frenzied. "What? Why?"

Jimin's face grew muddled. "Aren't we going to go someplace else?"

"Yeah . . . Home."

"Yours?"

My throat tightened. I swallowed spit, a boulder. "What are you trying to suggest?"

The tips of his ears reddened. "No, no . . . nothing like that. I just thought we were going someplace to hang out . . . Shit, that sounds wrong too." He turned up the collar to his leather jacket. "To talk," he finally corrected himself.

My face was on fire. I kept my back to him as we descended down the stairs, the cold banister tethering me to a reality that was becoming too hot and uncomfortable. Hell could have been beneath me with the way Jimin was scorching my thoughts. I didn't know what to do with myself but to continue charging towards the main exit.

Yet my feet took me to the bar.

"What are you doing?" Jimin asked, eyes bouncing between the bartender and me.

"I need a drink," I replied, paying for a shot of whisky. It tasted vile, but the burn coated the wildfire Jimin kept waking up inside me. I felt hot again but it was a different kind of hot. Safer.

"I'm good thanks," he said.

I snorted a light laugh. "As if I'd let you drink after earlier."

"That was a tactical chunder."

"Of course it was."

"Didn't you used to do that in high school?"

"Chunder?" I asked, appalled as I pushed myself away from the bar towards the left exit. "Why would I throw up just for the sake of drinking more?" Turning around, I caught his eye. "Why? Did you?"

"Sure, everybody did it."

"Didn't have you down as a follower? You seem like a leader."

The night swallowed his face as we fell into step. "Haven't you noticed? I'm playing the Black Swan. I'm just a shadow."

I didn't know what to say so I kicked forward a stone. "But what is a person without a shadow? Aren't shadows proof that light exists? The White Swan is nothing without you."

I continued walking before realising that Jimin was no longer beside me. I came to halt. My steps were zigzagged and I imagined a tightrope lay between us as I found my way back to him.

"Why did you stop?"

Jimin looked up from the pavement. A spot of moonlight bleached his hair. "Why do you keep staying?"

Confused, I rocked back and forth on my heels. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Yes you do." He kicked a pebble forward, trudging forward again. I latched onto his wrist and he spun into me like a ballroom dancer. I dropped his hand before his chest could touch mine. "The practice room. The dance floor. This, right now. You're here."

I had more questions to ask but he seemed to be looking for an answer. I knew what to say, but I didn't know what it would mean for us.

"I'm here," I echoed, taking his wrist again, letting my fingers slide until they fell between his, limp and afraid. He gave me a grateful squeeze and I realised that he needed a friend as much as I needed one from this showcase. "I'm here," I repeated. "Right now. Here. With you."

His face, a lake that had frozen over with agony, broke into a whispering smile. "It's silly but I can't help but feel like this isn't a coincidence. That your being here is for a reason. You're here to say all the right things to me because no one else can tell me the truth about myself."

It was a lot to swallow so I returned the squeeze. "I can be that person if you want."

Jimin wiped a sleeve over his eyes and nodded. I thought that gravity really hadn't let him down tonight. It lived inside of him, sometimes a centrifugal force that exploded with passion, other times a collapsing black hole. It kept him grounded, too. But what if it consumed him and broke the ground? What if he let his personal hell take over? The Black Swan wasn't known for being merciful. She was cruel and restless.

As we staggered to mine, I thought about many things, mostly how I didn't want to be the person who takes a ice-pick to his lake because fragile people shattered easily. So I hailed a taxi, wrapped my scarf around his neck and bundled him inside, giving the driver the campus address.

"We'll hang out another time, I promise. But you need to get some sleep tonight. You're tired."

He didn't protest or make excuses. "Okay."

"Can I borrow your phone quickly?" I asked, leaning against the open door. Jimin wrestled his back pocket to fish out his cellphone, unlocking it before passing it over.

I scrolled through the address book, copying Hoseok and Jinah's number into my phone, before remembering I didn't have his number either. A boyish smile tickled my lips as I saved my number in his phonebook.

"Yoongi," he read out loud when he took his phone back, stifled.

I shut the door, giving the driver a handful of cash, and patted the taxi's boot. My eyes stayed on the yellow plate until it became a dot in the horizon. The sunrise throbbed in his wake, a pomegranate pit, spilling like cranberry juice on a blue tablecloth, a red smile over the concrete jungle of Seoul. A gust of wind nipped my cheeks as my feet sleepwalked home, carefully tiptoeing up the backstairs of the coffee shop to our apartment.

My mum had fallen asleep with the TV on again, an empty glass of wine slack in her hand, a home video playing from our summer vacation to Taiwan in '97, my dad's weathered face holding laughter and youth. I looked away, heartbeat rising to my throat.

"Mum," I called softly, putting the glass on the coffee table. She murmured a sob. I returned from her room with a bundle of blankets, raising her head to slip a pillow beneath her head.

In the privacy of my soundproof room, I left the curtains open so the race-car blue walls could be dyed purple in the red sunrise. My desk sat opposite the window, tax receipts cluttering the side and sketches for an update menu on the other side. I shuffled everything into a neat pile and collapsed into my desk chair, playing my latest project, and listening to it with my eyes shut. Something still wasn't right. It sounded like a rainbow missing every other colour, pinks and blues without reds and greens. I thought about Jimin danced tonight like a prism shooting out a full spectrum of light. My thighs tensed but I kept going, eyes fluttering shut as I mapped out his eyes on the midi keyboard, tracing his jawline on the mixing board, a beat materialising from the sound of his laughter. Just like a painter, I drew his face in sounds, listening to the smooth dip of his cupid's bow, swallowing his breaths like smoke.

The room grew hotter. My fingers stopped producing, putting the track on repeat like a lullaby so Jimin could come alive behind my eyelids. My hands traced my own body like I wanted to trace him, hesitant at first, then sure as blistering summer drought. I remembered how Jimin talking about losing self-control to find it again, a rediscovery.

My bedroom glowed and I bit my lip. Jimin's name was the last breath to leave my lips that night.

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A/N: hey, this chapter was so fun to write. i know y'all want explicit shit, and the time will come  (trust me) but i don't want smut to overpower the theme just yet. i need to establish the story first before shit gets heavy... but it will get hot and heavy real soon.

i'm easing back into my old style of writing and it feels SO good, like slipping on your favourite old sweater. i love it. 

anyways comment how you find this chapter! yoonmin feels were pretty strong. i bet y'all are curious about taekook's whereabouts ;) be patient my loves.

QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BTS MUSIC VIDEO?

(HYYH era was my favourite, each member's storyline was beautiful filmed: the scenery, the ships, the colour imagery, the theories. the Prologue short film is so underrated. bighit really delivered us christmas with every comeback. we're so lucky... i mean INU was aasdjklajdfdljal but the RUN mv really holds a place in my heart. it wasn't my first BTS mv (i watched Boy In Luv back in 2014 but when I watched RUN, that was it. i found my home. i've always drawn to aesthetic mv's like NCT U's The 7th Sense, and Monsta X's Beautiful . . . so For You and Spring Day are tied 1st with RUN.)

don't forget to vote if you haven't :)

- kaddy x