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The Boy in the Music Box

Chapter Text

 

 

The attic is riddled with dust and cobwebs, the little spider kingdoms hanging just about everywhere, from the corners, the tiny round window, between the shelves, from the non-functioning, dingy chandelier. There's barely any room to walk, what with all the boxes and shelves and cabinets filling the space from the walls in. There's even a grand antique writing desk shoved up against the farthest wall, a thing that has probably been very beautiful at some point and could possibly be worth a lot to an antiquities dealer.

 

That is, Yoongi muses with a sigh, if they actually manage to dig it out from underneath all the random stuff perched on top of it and evict any possible arachnids living there. “Seriously, halmeoni,” he says, “how haven’t you cleaned this shit up before now?”

 

He fakes a frown when his grandmother smacks him on the arm. “Language, boy,” she snaps, though without missing a beat, she adds, “and I’m an old lady now, too old to clean up my own shit, so spare me the sass, Yoonyoon, and get to work!”

 

There’s a muffled snort from the bottom of the stairs and Yoongi exchanges a quick glance with Taehyung and Namjoon, who had offered to help Yoongi on his quest to clean up his grandmother’s attic. “Yeah, Yoonyoon, spare us the sass,” Taehyung says smugly, quickly stepping in behind Yoongi's grandmother when Yoongi raises his hand as if to throw his flashlight at the kid. “Wow, so aggressive!”

 

“Yah, just because I treat you like a little brother doesn't mean I won't kick your skinny ass,” Yoongi scoffs, frowning for real when his grandmother hits him on the arm again. “Halmeoni!”

 

“What?” she shoots back, sounding ridiculously amused. “You gonna kick my skinny ass too?”

 

Taehyung is almost bent in half from poorly suppressed laughter, and while Namjoon is more successful in keeping his composure, his telltale dimples are on full display as he presses his lips together in an attempt to not smile. Bastards. “Of course not, ma'am,” Yoongi huffs and turns his back on them all in favor of taking another look at the attic again. “This is gonna take all day. Namjoon, can you start bringing up the boxes that’ll go to charity? And Taehyung-ah, bring a couple of those trash bags on your way up.”

 

“Yes, sir!” Taehyung says and brings his hand to his forehead in a military salute, which makes Yoongi snort and his grandmother smile fondly.

 

“Halmeoni, you think you can make it up these stairs?” Yoongi asks of her, gesturing at the steep staircase. “It’d be easier to have you up here to tell us what should and shouldn’t be saved, but--”

 

“Yah, boy, don’t underestimate me just because I’m old,” she says with a scoff, waving her hand in a shooing motion to get him to climb the rest of the way up and make room for her. “I’ll come up there and perch my ass on a chair and watch you young boys do my work for me. I’ll enjoy that a hell of a lot more than being bored in the study.”

 

Min Seongi is definitely not a soft-spoken woman, blunt in her words and straightforward in her actions, and Yoongi loves her to death.

 

“Yes, ma’am,” he says again, smiling as he climbs up onto the dust-ridden floor of the attic. It’s not too dark, with the sun shining in from the small window, so Yoongi pushes his flashlight into the back pocket of his jeans and looks around for anything his grandmother could, as she so delicately put it, perch her ass on. He finds a questionable chair in the far back and dusts it off before testing it himself, making sure its dingy structure can handle any sort of weight at all. Content, he drags it to the center of the attic and motions for his grandmother to take a seat.

 

“Man, I love your grandmother,” Namjoon tells him with a dimpled grin when he joins them upstairs, balancing a stack of empty plastic boxes in his arms. “We should come to Daegu more often.”

 

“Sure,” Yoongi snorts, “as soon as you convince our professors to stop working us to death every single week.” Both he and Namjoon are in the music production department at a university in Seoul, both in the third year, and it’s absolute hell, with projects and assignments and exams that force them to stay late at the studios at least four times a week. “Taehyung’s the only one out of us who could visit more often, and I don’t want him alone with my grandmother.”

 

He earns a poke in the side from that and turns to bat Taehyung’s hand away. “Why not?” the boy asks, lips forming a pout. “We get along really well.”

 

Too well,” Yoongi says with a huff. “I swear, you’re either going to turn her into an anime-loving ray of sunshine, or she’s gonna teach you every single curse word in existence and you’ll end up like me. None of which I want to happen.”

 

There’s a short bark of laughter from behind the three of them. “Listen to this child trying to be a cool big brother,” Yoongi’s grandmother croons with a fond smile, quirking a thin brow at Taehyung. “But he’s right, Taehyung-ah, as much as I do love you, I swear I’m going to strap a goddamn muzzle on you if I have to listen to you talk about that ninja cartoon one more time. I’m too old for that shit.”

 

“No one’s too old for Naruto, halmeoni,” Taehyung argues cheerfully, boxy grin in full force when she only scoffs in return.

 

“Alright, let’s get to work or we’ll still be here tomorrow,” Yoongi says, nudging the closest dusty box with his toes. “Our train leaves in seven hours, so let’s finish up as much as we can before we leave.”

 

“You’re gonna leave this half-finished?” his grandmother asks briskly, a definite tut to her voice. “I thought I raised you better, Yoonyoon.”

 

“I’m not the one who’s going on a trip at ass o’clock tomorrow morning, halmeoni,” Yoongi says airily, too used to his grandmother’s complaining to take it seriously. “I’m pretty sure you don’t want three university students alone in your house after you leave.” He looks up to send her a pointed smirk. “Who knows what kind of stupid shit we’d get up to if left alone.”

 

She grins toothily at that and emits a smug giggle. “You know me so well, Yoonyoon,” she croons before raising a hand to motion for them to start working. “Youngsters these days aren’t as pure as they were in my time. And mind your language!”

 

The task ends up going smoother than Yoongi had expected. With his grandmother present to yay or nay everything they pick out of a container or a shelf, they quickly fill up the boxes of donatable things, and stuff the rest in the big garbage bags. Yoongi’s grandmother doesn’t want to save almost any of the things they find, stating that if she hasn’t missed it in all the years it’s been up here gathering dust, she’s not going to miss it when it’s out of her house. She does decide to keep a few old photographs, such as one from her and her late husband’s honeymoon, a black-and-white picture of them sharing an ice-cream cone on a beach.

 

Taehyung asks if she’s a hundred years old for the picture to be so old it lacks color, and she smacks him up the head with a dusty old rag for his cheekiness.

 

It’s not until Yoongi gets started on clearing away things from the writing desk that his grandmother looks up with interest, her lips curling into a fond smile when she sees Yoongi pick up a beautifully painted wooden box, swirls of faded red and yellow decorating the exterior. “Oh, I’m definitely keeping that one,” she says and stands up, shuffling past a stack of charity boxes to walk up next to Yoongi. “There’s too many good memories in that box.”

 

“What is it?” Yoongi asks, carefully tracing his fingers along the faded paint.

 

“Remember the stories I used to tell you about when I did fortune telling at some local carnivals?” his grandmother croons and bats Yoongi’s hand away so she can open the small crate. “These are all the things I used in my acts.”

 

The container is full with what looks like packs of tarot cards, dice, colorful fabrics, cloth pouches, hell, there’s even an honest to god crystal ball. “Wow,” Taehyung exclaims in awe, having walked up behind the two to get a good look, and his grin is radiating childlike glee at the sight of the box’s content. “You were like a legit magician, halmeoni!”

 

“I absolutely was,” she says, sounding mighty satisfied with the boy’s reaction. “And I was good, too. I did palm-readings, I foresaw things in the crystal ball, I read tarot cards and made charms for all kinds of things, such as luck and love and protection.” She emits a cheery giggle and picks up a purple pouch, squeezing it slightly to test its contents. “I even did spells,” she tells Taehyung in an over-exaggeratedly mysterious voice, her grin running from ear to ear when the boy’s eyes widen in amazement. “I was a hit amongst young lovers. They wanted me to bless their relationship, you know, make it last forever or some stupid shit like that.”

 

Yoongi emits a bark of laughter at his grandmother’s choice of words, the sound mellowing out into a chuckle when Taehyung starts loudly dictating something about how magic is not stupid and totally real and how Yoongi’s grandmother shouldn’t just dismiss it like that. She seems happy enough listening to his ranting, her smile full with adoration, so Yoongi gets back to the task at hand, carefully shifting the box aside on the desk so he can continue cleaning.

 

He doesn’t make it very far until something else catches his eye. Hiding in the shadow of the crate full of magic tricks is another box, circular and small enough to fit in the palm of Yoongi’s hand. It’s ornate and beautifully made, the wooden exterior a deep blue color with decorative threads of what looks like real gold encasing it, twisting and swirling into patterns that resemble clouds, stars, a sun and a moon.

 

The lid is open, and in the middle of the box stands a little ballerina - or ballerino , based on the lack of a dress - with its arms raised above its head and its back arched, like it’s reaching for something above. Almost the entire figure is painted black with a few traces of white, and at first, Yoongi wonders if the other colors have merely faded, but when he picks up the box to better inspect it, he realizes the ballerina’s hair is a silver grey, its skin a pale peach.

 

“Oh, yes.” He looks up at his grandmother, whose eyes are focused on the box in his hands, a warm smile on her lips. “The music box,” she says softly. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen it.” Yoongi registers something odd in her gaze as she looks at the box, but she blinks and looks away before he can ask. “You want it, Yoonyoon?”

 

Surprised, Yoongi looks back down at the music box. “Uh,” he starts, turning it over in his hands to look at it from all angles before carefully closing the lid. “I don’t know? I mean, not really. Wouldn’t have much use for it.”

 

His grandmother emits a scoff at that and smacks his arm for the umpteenth time today, reproach knitting her brows into a frown. “You could use it to brighten up your boring-ass apartment, that’s what,” she tells him dryly, holding up a hand when he parts his lips to protest. “Don’t you try arguing with me, Min Yoongi, I know you have as much of a sense for interior design as a dog, all black and white and boring, so take it and put it on a shelf somewhere.

 

“Alright, alright, damn, I’ll take it,” Yoongi says loudly, making a show of putting the music box on top of his hoodie, which he’d taken off and tossed onto the floor halfway through their cleaning. “There, you happy?”

 

“Very,” his grandmother snorts ironically, though she really does look content. “I’m going back to my seat now. Namjoon-ah, bring the magic box to my study and make sure Taehyung doesn’t take anything out of it. And don’t drop it, I’ve already seen you almost break an old set of whiskey tumblers.”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” Namjoon says in a much too accurate imitation of Yoongi’s default response, smirking at Yoongi before shooing Taehyung away from the colorful box and closing it. He rolls his eyes at the boy’s dissatisfied pout and moves towards the stairs, taking great care with every step down the steep ladder, and both Yoongi and his grandmother sigh in relief when they hear him reach the floor without a crash.

 

Much to Yoongi’s surprise, they finish cleaning up the attic with a whole hour to spare before they even have to start getting ready to leave. He’s sweaty from carrying boxes and trash bags down to the front yard, across a total of three flights of stairs, but he’s satisfied with their work, nodding to himself with a huff when he sets down the last box. He claps his hands to dust them off and to regain the sensation in his fingers - that last box was heavy - and he takes a moment to catch his breath before going back inside the house, following the scent of his grandmother’s cooking.

 

“What are you gonna do with the furniture that’s still up there?” Namjoon is asking when Yoongi steps into the kitchen. “You’ve got two cabinets, a writing desk, a few rolled-up carpets and two chairs. Will you keep them or should we drive them somewhere to be sold off?”

 

“It’ll probably be the latter,” the old lady says absentmindedly, her focus on the bubbling pot of kkotgetang. “But we can leave that for when I’m back from my trip. As long as you boys take away the trash when you leave, I’ll be satisfied.” She looks up when Yoongi plops into his seat next to Taehyung. “Did you pack the music box?”

 

He resists the urge to roll his eyes; at this point, he’s almost surprised his grandmother hasn’t ordered him to send her pictures of the music box once he gets back home to Seoul. “Yes, halmeoni,” he says and reaches for his glass of water. “Wrapped my scarf around it and put it in my backpack. It’s perfectly safe.”

 

“Good,” she says promptly and nods in approval before turning back to her cooking, stirring the pot a few times before going over to the refrigerator to grab a few tupperware boxes full of side dishes and handing them to Namjoon. “Pass these around.” They finish setting the table just in time for the main course, and Yoongi can feel his stomach growling when he’s handed his bowl of stew. “Enjoy, boys,” his grandmother says with a warm grin. “You’ll be back to your shitty cup noodles by tonight, so take your time and eat slowly.”

 

They do end up eating slowly, but that’s mostly because Taehyung can’t stop interrupting them all with his endless supply of stories to tell about what his first months of university have been like, how exciting it is, how interesting studying art is, how one of his professors is a complete dick but his course is the best and so on and so forth. It ends with Yoongi’s grandmother having to bring up what she’d said about a muzzle earlier, and Namjoon laughs so hard he knocks over his half-full glass of water.

 

After dinner, they borrow Yoongi’s grandmother’s truck to take away the trash and bring the plastic boxes to a nearby charity foundation, where the owners will sell what they’ve brought and donate the profits to a children’s hospital. Yoongi calls a taxi on their way back, and the car is already waiting to take them to the train station when they return to his grandmother’s house.

 

“You boys have everything with you?” she asks while ushering them into the taxi, hugging them each in turn and pushing a small box of homemade rice cakes into their hands. “Have a safe trip home.” She leans forward when Yoongi rolls down his window to say a final goodbye. “Let me know when you’re home, Yoonyoon,” she says, reaching into the car to pinch his cheek when he nods. “Good. Do you have the music box?”

 

Yoongi really does roll his eyes this time. “Unless it’s grown legs of its own and crawled out of my bag,” he snorts, his brows knitting into a small frown. “Seriously, halmeoni, are you sure you’re okay with me taking it? You seem really attached to it.”

 

His grandmother smiles at that and hums as she pats his arm, gently. “Of course,” she hums, and there’s something so incredibly soft about her voice that it makes Yoongi’s eyes widen in surprise. “I’ll miss it, but I feel like you should have it. Plus,” she adds, the dryness back to her tone as she straightens up, “you’re a night-owl, so he’ll be much happier with you than with me.”

 

Yoongi’s frown only deepens at that, but before he can do more than repeat, “He?” in bewilderment, the taxi driver turns on the engines and they take off, and all Yoongi can do is wave at his grandmother before they disappear around the corner and out of sight. He leans back in his seat, unable to shake this weird feeling that he really shouldn’t have taken the music box away from his grandmother.

 

Then Taehyung kicks the back of his seat and loudly declares he wants to eat rice cakes, and all thoughts about the music box flies out of his head as he turns around to try and land a smack on the boy’s leg to get him to shut up.

 

They don’t get back to Seoul until half past 9PM. They share a cab from the train station to the university campus site, where Yoongi says goodnight to Taehyung and Namjoon; while they live at the dorms, Yoongi’s got an apartment just on the outskirts of it. It’s a small two-room flat that he can barely afford, but anything’s better than having to share an apartment with another human being. Yoongi enjoys his peace and quiet, thank you very much.

 

It doesn’t hit him how tired he is until he walks into his bedroom and slumps down on his bed, groaning into the sheets. He’s never been one for physical activities, so spending five and a half straight hours lifting things, moving more things, and cleaning even more things has left him completely drained. He considers for a moment to just close his eyes and fall asleep right on the spot, but then he remembers how sweaty he got carrying all those boxes and pushes himself up from the bed to go take a shower.

 

It’s past 10PM when he’s done freshening himself up. Yoongi hasn’t been tired this early in ages, so he just stands in his bedroom for a moment, wondering if he should go to sleep or remain true to his night-owl status, as his grandmother had said. “Ah, speaking of,” he mumbles to himself and goes to fetch his backpack, snorting when he unwraps the little music box from his scarf. “Alright, where do I put you…”

 

He settles for placing it on top of the small dresser standing opposite of his bed, and when he backs away a bit, his brows arch in pleasant surprise; the light from his nightstand lamp reflects nicely in the gold ornaments, making the stars glimmer against the dark blue background. Okay, so maybe his grandmother was right and the music box is a nice addition to his room, which, he realizes as he looks around, could probably use more color.

 

Yoongi snaps a quick picture of it and sends it to his grandmother along with a quick message of ‘took your precious baby home safely’ before tossing his phone onto the bed. He goes to fetch his laptop, figuring he can drift off to some random series on Netflix, but he pauses just as he’s about to sit down, his eyes going to the music box. “A music box,” he says quietly and steps up to his dresser, inclining his head as he opens the lid and searches for a way to get it to play something.

 

He finds a small winding key at the very back of it and carefully twists it a few times, pausing when the little ballerina trembles slightly where it stands. Yoongi spends ten whole seconds making sure the movement was just from the little dancer being wound up and not breakage, and then he turns the key a few more times before releasing it and taking a step back.

 

The melody starts slowly, an endearingly soft tune rising from the depths of the music box, and Yoongi somehow can’t fight the smile that graces his lips as he watches the ballerina start spinning slowly, its arms moving every few seconds, falling to its sides before going up again, then lowering one arm while keeping the other raised, then mirroring the movement before starting all over again.

 

By the time the melody fades away and the ballerina stops dancing, Yoongi’s so tired he moves his laptop onto the floor and slips in under his duvet, sighing contentedly as he curls up and closes his eyes, falling asleep not three minutes later.

 

-

 

When Yoongi sits down for lunch the next day, he realizes he’s never been so grateful for a full night’s sleep in all his life.

 

One of his professors had called him at 10AM and asked him to stop by his office before lunch, which in and of itself is already a form of blasphemy, seeing as Yoongi has taken great care to arrange his lectures in a way that ensures he never has to show up at school until after lunchtime. Then his professor had proceeded onto asking him to take part of a project to produce a list of tracks for one of the university’s affiliating music companies, which is a big fucking deal and a great opportunity, and of course Yoongi accepted it on the spot.

 

And so it's only when he sits down for lunch that he realizes he won’t be getting a wink of sleep for the month remaining until the deadline.

 

It’s not that the project is so urgent that Yoongi won’t have time to sleep. No, the problem lies with Yoongi himself; when he gets inspired, motivated, or simply caught up in his work, he chooses to put aside less important things, such as fresh air, sunlight, food, and sleep. He can already imagine how his upcoming weeks are going to look like, and so, as he shoves a spoonful of rice into his mouth, he sends a silent thanks to the music box on his dresser, without which he would’ve stayed up watching Netflix and missed the chance to sleep a full ten hours.

 

“Yoongi-hyung!” He startles at the loud voice right behind him and looks up from his food to frown at Namjoon, who almost tips over his bowl of kimchi jjigae in his hurry to sit down. “You’ll never guess what Professor Kim just asked me,” he says, dimpled grin out in full force and practically radiating excitement.

 

Yoongi lowers his spoon, his eyes widening; there can only be one reason for his best friend to be this worked up. “No shit,” he says slowly, feeling a wide grin take over his face. “You were asked to be on the music project too? For AOMG?”

 

“You too, hyung?” Namjoon’s smile looks like it’s threatening to split his face in half. “I should’ve known, Professor Kim would’ve been crazy not to include you,” he beams, so excited he can barely sit still. “You got any idea what kind of music they’re expecting?”


“No, Kim said we’re gonna get an email about the concept sometime today,” Yoongi says, tapping his phone, which he’s laid face up on the table so he can pick it up the very instant he gets an email notification. “But holy fuck, Namjoon, you have any idea what this is gonna do for us if we do a good job?”

 

Namjoon doesn’t get the chance to answer before someone plops down in the seat next to him and pokes at his arm. “Elbows off the table, Joonie,” Seokjin tells him firmly before leaning over and pecking him on the cheek. “If you ask me to have lunch with you, you’d better show me your best table manners.”

 

“Sorry, darling,” Namjoon says and sits up straight, turning his excited smile to his boyfriend instead. “I’m so happy you could come.”

 

“Can you two be any more married?” Yoongi turns to exchange an amused look with Hoseok, who’s taken the seat next to him. “Seriously, the lunch lady asked me to congratulate you two on your engagement last week,” he says with an over-exaggeratedly dramatic roll of his eyes. “I told her Jin was pregnant, and she actually believed me and asked me if it was a boy or a girl.”

 

Wha- oh my god, is that why she asked me how I’m gonna balance work and home just now?” Seokjin asks with an indignant look while Yoongi laughs into his hand, almost choking on his food. “What the hell, Hoseok? We're not engaged, and I’m a man, how would that even work?”

 

“Genders become obsolete when you’re as grossly in love as you two,” Hoseok sing-songs, scooting his chair out of range just in time to dodge the punch Jin aims at his arm. “You gonna take time off from the restaurant when the baby comes, hyung?”

 

“Oh yeah, for long enough to break a stove up your ass, you bastard,” Seokjin says snappishly before turning away with his nose in the air, aiming a quick glare at the still grinning Yoongi before addressing Namjoon. “You said you had something big to tell me. What’s up?”

 

The two music students share a look of barely contained excitement before Namjoon says, “Yoongi and I were asked to help produce a few tracks for AOMG, you know, the record label.”

 

Both Seokjin and Hosek stumble over their words in their hurry to congratulate them, their loud voices earning them several disapproving looks from their fellow students, but Yoongi really couldn’t care less at the moment. He’s smiling so wide it’s hurting his cheeks, laughing as he watches Jin smother Namjoon in hugs and kisses, and he doesn’t even protest when Hoseok hugs him and shakes him so hard he’s worried his head is gonna fall off.

 

“This is huge, you guys,” Seokjin coos when he’s managed to calm himself a little, though he’s still speaking quite loudly. “If you do a good job and they like what you give them, this could set you up for a job at that company!”

 

“Yeah, it could,” Namjoon says, nodding enthusiastically. “We still don’t know what kind of music they want us to produce, but I know AOMG focuses heavily on hip-hop, so it should be right up our area.” He has his phone in his hand, most likely refreshing his email app every five seconds just in case their instructions would’ve arrived. He doesn’t look up until Seokjin puts a hand on his shoulder and tell him to eat his food before it goes cold. “Where’s Taehyung, by the way?” he asks around a mouthful of stew.

 

“He’s having lunch with Jeongguk at his school,” Yoongi says, still unable to stop grinning. “Apparently, being away from that kid for 24 hours is too much to bear, so Taehyung-ah jumped on a bus the very second he got out of class.” He reaches for his phone, automatically checking his email before opening Kakao Talk. “I’ll let him know the good news.”

 

Barely two minutes pass before Yoongi’s phone goes off like crazy, a bombardment of messages flashing on his screen, ranging from heavy caps-lock congratulations to blurry selcas; Taehyung is apparently too excited to hold his phone still. Yoongi snorts as he flicks through the many pictures, a rapidfire series of peace-signs, fistpumps and just general spazzing out, and next to the hyperactive mess that is Taehyung, Yoongi can see a slightly alarmed-looking Jeongguk.

 

He holds up his phone and shows it to Namjoon. “I think Taehyung’s more excited than both of us combined,” he says and laughs along with the rest.

 

Half an hour later, Yoongi and Namjoon receive a lengthy email from their professor, listing the instructions and criteria of the tracks they are to produce, as well as a chunk of text about the project’s purposes. The two of them promptly forget all about Seokjin and Hoseok and fall into a deep discussion about how they should go about their task, from which they don’t resurface until lunch is over and they’ve missed the first half hour of their 1 o’clock lectures. With identical sheepish grins, they decide to take the rest of the day off from their studies and get to work on their project, and so they head to the studios with the unspoken intent of staying until security forces them to leave.

 

-

 

If there’s one thing everyone knows about Min Yoongi, it’s that he’s not an easy man to surprise. He has nerves of steel that repel sudden scares, a cool and calculating mind whose first reaction is always to assess rather than respond with shock. He’s quick to analyze, which, sure, means that his friends gave up on trying to plan surprise birthday parties for him many years ago, but it also means that if ever there’s a situation, any kind of situation, everyone knows that Min Yoongi is the best man to have around.

 

But when Yoongi steps through his front door at 2AM and finds a complete stranger perched in his favorite armchair with one of his favorite books in his lap, wearing his favorite hoodie, with a cup - his favorite cup - of tea steaming peacefully on the coffee table, well, suddenly all that calm logic and those nerves of steel go flying out the window, and Yoongi just stares.

 

The man - boy is more like it, what with his young face - looks perfectly at peace where he sits, his feet propped up on the very edge of the armchair, the book perched against his knees. He has one elbow braced against the armrest, his head resting comfortably in his small, open hand. Yoongi vaguely registers that the boy’s face is quite beautiful, with round cheeks and full lips and innocent eyes that are almost hidden under a heavy fringe of silvery blonde hair. For all the softness of his face, however, his jaw is strong and well-defined, and somehow, if it’s even possible, the many piercings in his ears give him an almost regal look.

 

Yoongi has never seen this boy in his entire life. He’s not a relative. He’s not a neighbor, either, nor is he a student, or at least Yoongi doesn’t think so; he’s fairly certain he’d remember someone as ethereally pretty as this intruder. He can’t be a friend of a friend, because no one within his circle of friends would be stupid enough to let someone into Min Yoongi’s apartment and then just leave him there without so much as a text message to Yoongi himself.

 

Yoongi’s beaten the living shit out of people for less, and everyone knows it.

 

His confusion takes an even deeper plunge when the stranger notices his presence and looks up, a bright smile gracing his lips as he says, “Hello,” in a cheerful tone before going back to reading his book. Yoongi’s book.

 

What.

 

It takes Yoongi’s brain a good while to catch up with what has got to be one of the most bizarre things that has ever happened to him in his life, and when it does, it's accompanied by anger and heavy, heavy irritation. “What the fuck?” he demands loudly, snapping the boy’s attention right back up. “Who are you? What are you doing in my apartment? Did you break in? Why are you wearing my clothes? And that’s my book.”

 

The boy blinks at him for a few seconds, looking genuinely surprised by Yoongi’s reaction, as if he hadn’t expected this kind of response for breaking and entering into someone else’s home. “I’m Park Jimin,” he says simply, his tone incredibly casual, as if he thinks that’s enough of an answer for all of Yoongi’s questions. When all he gets from Yoongi is an incredulous stare, he heaves a light sigh and adds, “You know, from the music box.”

 

“From the- huh?” Yoongi is so confused, so fucking confused. He has no idea what’s going on or who this Park Jimin is or why he’s in his apartment, and as he feels a headache creeping up on him, he kinda wants to lie down on the floor and pretend like he’s all alone and just sleep.

 

But no, he’s not allowed to do that, because the boy has the nerve to snort at him, the sound laced with bright amusement as he gestures towards Yoongi’s bedroom. “You left the lid open,” he says, once again spouting the most random shit he possibly can in a tone that suggests Yoongi should be able to understand him loud and clear. “But you weren’t here when I came out, so I just made myself at home.”

 

Yoongi reaches up and pinches the bridge of his nose in frustration, and he has to take a deep breath before he can trust himself to be able to speak at least somewhat calmly. “Look, listen, kid,” he says, his voice strained. “Park Jimin, was it?” He wants to throw something against the wall when the boy offers him another cheerful smile and nods, because no, this isn’t how one acts after committing a crime. “Right, Park Jimin. I don’t know who you are or where the fuck you came from or how you even got in here, and honestly, I’m too tired to give a shit, so-”

 

“You brought me here.”

 

For the second time in less than two minutes, Yoongi finds himself so confused he just wants to pretend none of this is happening and just pass out. The boy - Jimin - is blinking owlishly up at him, reciprocating none of Yoongi’s exhausted irritation; on the contrary, he seems downright perky, which is wrong for at least two reasons, one of them being that it’s 2 o'clock at night. The other might have something to do with the fact that oh yes, he’s committed a crime and really shouldn’t look so happy about it.

 

“I brought you here,” Yoongi echoes, at a complete and utter loss. “When the flying fuck did I do that?”

 

“You curse a lot,” Jimin points out without a trace of distaste in his voice. A simple statement. “You brought me here yesterday. Or, well,” he throws a glance at the small clock on Yoongi’s wall, which is showing a few minutes past 2AM, “the day before yesterday. You don’t remember?”

 

“I really fucking don’t, and I think I’d remember bringing a human being into my house,” Yoongi snaps, unable to keep his nerves under control. He has a headache pounding behind one eye now, he’s tired, he’s confused out of his mind, and this, this intruder with his sunny smile really isn’t helping. “Look, I’m too tired for this shit. If it was daytime, I’d call the police on you, or I’d kick your ass and then call the police, but I’ve been working for the past fourteen hours and I want to sleep and pretend this never happened, so can you just get the fuck out of my house and let me do that?”

 

Jimin takes ten whole seconds to answer, ten excruciatingly long seconds during which he does nothing but look at Yoongi, without even the slightest hint of fear or intimidation anywhere in his gaze. He looks at Yoongi with a softness to his eyes that partly makes Yoongi want to throw him out the window, while the other part wants to cower, to hide itself from that piercing look. What the fuck, Yoongi thinks, fighting the shudder that creeps up his spine. What the actual flying fuck is-

 

“No.” The feeling is gone as quickly as it came, leaving Yoongi to blink dumbly at the boy’s response, spoken in such a calm manner. “I can’t leave,” Jimin adds when he notices Yoongi’s reaction, as if that would clarify a single thing.

 

Yoongi contemplates punching himself in the face, just to have something to punch in the face. “And why the fuck not?” he asks through teeth gritted so hard the bones of his jaw creaks.

 

And Park fucking Jimin has the audacity to sigh, a smidgen of impatience finally finding its way into his chipper personality. “Alright,” he huffs and rises to his feet, carefully putting the book down onto the table before walking towards Yoongi’s bedroom as if he owns the place, as if he actually lives here. “I’ll show you.”

 

Yoongi is so utterly baffled, he doesn’t even protest when Jimin takes his hand and pulls him towards the bedroom.

 

Jimin stops in front of Yoongi’s dresser and raises a hand to point at the music box, and Yoongi’s eyes widen when he notices the little ballerina is gone. “What the fuck?” he asks, feeling a rush of panic rise in his chest; his grandmother is going to kill him if she finds out he’s broken the music box. “Where did- did you break it?”

 

The intruder’s cheerful expression morphs into one of shock, as if he’s never heard anything as terrible in all his life. “No,” he says loudly and fervently shakes his head. “Why would you think that?”

 

“Because the dancer thing is gone,” Yoongi retorts, his voice equally loud as he turns around to scan his room. “Fuck, where is it? Did it fall behind the dresser or-”

 

“Um.” Jimin releases his grip on Yoongi’s wrist and brings his hand up to place it against his shoulder instead to get his attention, and when Yoongi looks at him, he smiles that annoyingly bright smile of his. “I’m right here.”

 

Yoongi squints at him in frustrated bewilderment and barks out, “What?”

 

“I’m here,” Jimin repeats patiently, pointing from the music box to himself. “That little dancer? That’s me.”

 

What.

 

The fuck?

 

The first thought that passes through Yoongi’s head is a general wondering about what the punishment for manslaughter is these days. The second is that he should probably call the nearest mental hospital and ask if they’re missing a patient. The third and final one is the same he’s had twice in the past ten minutes, something about just wanting to go to sleep and pretend none of this is actually happening.

 

“What the actual fuck?” are the first words that find their way past his lips, and he must’ve spoken them in such a confused voice, because Park fucking Jimin’s smile turns sympathetic. “Don’t bullshit me, brat,” Yoongi says and detaches himself from the intruder’s grip. “I meant it when I said I’m too tired for this shit, so either you tell me what you’ve done to the dancer or I’ll make you tell me.”

 

Jimin looks utterly unaffected by the threat. On the contrary, he seems almost amused; he heaves a light sigh and shakes his head, smiling as if he thinks Yoongi is being adorable. He probably doesn’t mean to come across as patronizing, but Yoongi’s too worked up to care about any possible alternatives. Before he can raise his voice again, however, the boy grabs the hem of the hoodie he’s wearing - Yoongi’s hoodie - and pulls it up over his head.

 

Yoongi’s lips part to demand what the hell he’s doing, but his words catch in his throat, because his initial thoughts about Jimin being regally pretty resurface now, with more strength than before. The boy is wearing all black, a loose, billowing shirt that accents his narrow shoulders and falls over his chest in a way that shows he’s definitely not as delicate as one would believe upon first glance. His legs are covered by black, skin-tight leggings, a fact Yoongi definitely didn’t notice up until now. They fit snugly around his bottom and thighs and stretch all the way to the tips of his toes, cut open at the heel and toes to give his feet breathing room.

 

“Wind it up.”

 

The boy’s voice snaps Yoongi’s attention back up and he blinks dumbly for a few seconds, and as he watches Jimin roll his head to stretch his neck, he has to forcibly remind himself that he’s supposed to be quite pissed off at the moment. “What,” he begins, stopping to clear his throat and resummon his previous irritation, but when he parts his lips again, the only word he can think of is the one he already spoke. “What?”

 

The smile on Jimin’s lips is almost smug. Almost. “The music box,” he says slowly. “Wind the box up. Play the music.”

 

“What the-” There’s a smidgen of a teasing tone to the boy’s voice, so very small yet more than enough to pluck at the frail line that is Yoongi’s state of mind. “Why the fuck would I do that?” he snaps, feeling his headache steadily becoming more and more painful.

 

Jimin giggles, he actually giggles, bringing up a hand to muffle the sound before offering a stunned Yoongi an apologetic look. “Just do it,” he says brightly, “so I can prove to you who I am.”

 

“For fuck’s sake… fine.” Yoongi pretends like he can’t see the almost radiant smile on the intruder’s lips and reaches for the music box, taking a second or two to calm himself down a bit so he won’t accidentally put too much strength into his hands and break the ornament. He twists the winding key five times and holds the box up, glaring at Jimin when the soft music starts playing. “There, you happy?”

 

He regrets the question when Jimin nods, because dammit, he does look very happy. He lets his eyes flutter close and takes a deep breath, and as his chest expands from the inhale, he rises onto the tips of his toes and lifts his arms up over his head, his spine arching slightly. The atmosphere in the room changes instantly, and Yoongi’s eyes widen as he takes in the familiar posture. Like he’s reaching for something, he remembers himself thinking when first seeing the little ballerina in his grandmother’s attic.

 

“You remember the dance, right?” Jimin’s voice is soft and focused, and he doesn’t wait for Yoongi to answer before he moves, gracefully lowering his arms to his sides as if to embrace whatever it is he sees behind his closed eyes. He holds that pose for three beats of the music box’s melody before bringing his arms up again, then lowering only his left arm and holding, again for three beats, then raising his arm and repeating the process with his right.

 

Yoongi doesn’t quite know what to do other than just look, his full attention on the way the boy moves. He recognizes the dance, his movements an exact copy of the little ballerina’s, the short dance that had made Yoongi smile last night, and when his eyes trail over Jimin’s front, he realizes he recognizes a few other things as well. Silvery grey hair contrasting against the black of his clothes, so light it had made Yoongi wonder if the colors had faded with time, and skin a pale peach.

 

Jimin repeats the short routine one more time before cracking his eyes open and looking at Yoongi, flashing him a toothy smile before rocking back down onto his heels, lowering his arms and clasping his hands behind his back. “Well?” he muses, leaning forward a bit to get a better look at Yoongi’s shocked expression. “You believe me now?”

 

“What the hell,” Yoongi breathes, staring at the boy with what’s probably a comically confused expression, eyes wide, brows knitted and lips parted in silent shock. It’s absolutely ridiculous, the idea that this intruder is the little ballerina from the music box Yoongi’s currently clutching onto quite hard, his fingers gripping the ornament tightly. It’s ridiculous, it’s impossible, actually. It’s so fucking ridiculous that Yoongi wants to laugh.

 

But for some reason, he doesn’t laugh. He doesn’t, and no matter how much he wants to deny it, no matter how much he wants to believe that it can’t be true, there’s a part of him that has already accepted it. It’s the same part that watched the boy’s short dance with rapt attention, the part that instantly connected his ethereal beauty to that of the music box ballerina’s. The part that thinks the boy’s smile could light up the night sky.

 

Before Yoongi can recover from the groundbreaking shock of this information, Jimin clears his throat and pins him under another one of his chipper smiles. “Right, so,” he says promptly, emitting another one of his little giggles when Yoongi just blinks at him. “From the top; my name is Park Jimin. I was born in Busan in the late 1930s, though back then it was known as Fusan, you know, when Korea was still ruled by the Japanese.”

 

All Yoongi does is stare, but the boy doesn’t seem to mind his complete lack of responses or reactions at all. “I got myself trapped in that music box when I was twenty-two years old,” he says and points at the ornament in Yoongi’s hand. “I was looking for something, I still am, and I had a friend of mine bind me to the box so I wouldn’t age and die until I’ve found it. It’s not a big deal, really, could happen to anyone.” He giggles at his own words. “I come to life every day at midnight, provided that the music box’s lid is left open, and I can move around however I want until the sun comes up. Then it’s back to the box for me.”

 

Slowly, the gears in Yoongi’s head start turning again, doing their best to process the information he’s being fed by this boy who’s actually not a boy at all, but around eighty years old, almost as old as his grandmother. An eighty year-old man with the face and body of a twenty year-old boy. Okay. A boy born before Korea was even Korea, magically and apparently eternally bound to a music box. Right. A boy who can only materialize in the middle of the night. Sure.

 

… Actually, no.

 

“Yeah, okay, no, what the fuck?” Yoongi demands when he finally snaps out of his daze, his voice louder than intended. He shoves the music box back onto the dresser and rounds on Jimin, who’s got that goddamn look of mild curiosity on his face. “Okay, what the fuck is this? You’re telling me you got yourself bound to a music box, that you’re a tiny little wooden toy by day and an actual human being by night? You- I found that music box in my grandmother’s attic! Does she know you exist?!”

 

“I think you should calm down a little,” Jimin says carefully, raising his hands as if in surrender, but Yoongi shakes his head and jabs a finger at the boy.

 

“No, I don’t fucking think so!” he almost shouts, too freaked out to be able to maintain whatever poor control he’d had on his emotions. “This is fucked up! This is really fucking fucked up, how can you be so calm about this? What, you think it’s normal for shit like this to happen? Jesus fuck, I come home from the studio and a kid who’s actually like a hundred years old tells me I brought him here in a music box and that he only comes alive at night, what the hell?!”

 

“Why are you so upset?” Jimin asks, and his tone is so genuinely curious that Yoongi almost forgets to be upset. Almost. He’s so close to letting it go, but then the boy continues speaking and says, “You didn’t seem to mind me being here last night.”

 

Yoongi blinks once, twice, and then a third time. “Last… what?” he croaks, his voice suddenly void of all its previous strength.

 

“Yeah, I mean, I told you you left the lid open,” Jimin says slowly, raising a hand to rub at the back of his neck, suddenly looking a bit concerned, and Yoongi absentmindedly wonders if it’s because he’s worried about Yoongi, or worried about whether or not he should actually be saying these words. “I was out last night. I even waved at you when you went to the bathroom sometime around 4AM, but I guess you were too tired to notice.”

 

He rolls his shoulders in a shrug, completely impervious to Yoongi’s shellshocked stare. “Anyway,” Jimin huffs, “I was here and you didn’t seem to care, so what’s the big deal now?”

 

The silence that follows is definitely the longest one yet, during which not a single coherent thought passes Yoongi’s head. All he can do is stare at the boy, and when he finally catches up with what he’s just heard, he closes his eyes, raises a hand and pinches the bridge of nose, hissing as he feels the dull throb of his headache against his temple. “What the fuck,” he mutters under his breath, so utterly done with everything that’s happened since the very second he stepped through his front door.

 

Jimin doesn’t make an attempt to break the silence this time. He rocks back and forth on the balls of his feet, quietly humming the tune of the music box, and again, Yoongi has to put actual effort into keeping his anger alive. He could very easily let it go, he realizes, but it wouldn’t be right, since he’s 100% justified in being frustrated, irritated, exasperated, every single adjective in the book that has to do with anger. And he's freaked the fuck out, because apparently this boy had been in his apartment when he was having the best night’s sleep he’d had in years.

 

Almost two whole minutes have passed when Yoongi comes to a decision. He lowers his hand from his face and fixates Jimin with a cold glare and clenches his jaw when the boy meets his eyes with innocent curiosity. “Alright, look,” Yoongi says, impressed with himself for speaking so calmly. “I want you out of here.”

 

“Huh?”

 

The first hint of fear appears in Jimin’s eyes, so miniscule Yoongi barely catches it. He does catch it, but he pretends not to, gritting his teeth and swallowing before raising his voice again. “You heard me,” he snaps, folding his arms over his chest. “Take that music box with you and get out. This is too fucking weird for me. I don’t want anything to do with this shit.”

 

Jimin parts his lips and closes them again, his eyes flickering from Yoongi to the music box and back, and Yoongi can see his jaw clench as if he’s chewing on his words. He suddenly looks a lot smaller than before, the lack of his previous cheerfulness making Yoongi’s heart clench uncomfortably. “I-I can’t,” Jimin says quietly. “I can’t touch it.”

 

Yoongi’s frown deepens. “You what?”

 

“I can’t touch the music box,” the boy clarifies, now looking so nervous it takes quite a lot of conscious effort for Yoongi to not just tell him he can stay, simply for the sake of seeing the brightness return to Jimin’s features. “Not when I’m outside of it.”

 

“That doesn’t explain anything,” Yoongi presses out, his teeth gritted to keep himself from saying or doing something stupid. “The fuck do you mean, you can’t touch it?”

 

Jimin just looks at him for a few seconds, his teeth worrying his lower lip as he seems to think about how to best phrase his words. He seems to decide against explaining it, however, because all he says is a quick, “This,” before reaching out to the music box.

 

The very second his fingers touch the ornament, there’s a sharp sound like a crack of lightning, accompanied by a bright flash of light, causing Yoongi to flinch in shock, almost stumbling over his own feet in his hurry to take a step back. Jimin recoils quickly, withdrawing his hand and clutching his wrist with his other, a hiss finding its way past his gritted teeth.

 

“Fucking shit, what-” Yoongi’s eyes widen when he recovers from his shock and notices the boy’s state, and he reaches out before he can stop himself, his fingers closing around Jimin’s wrist, trapping the boy’s hand under his own. “Holy shit,” he exclaims, taking in the sight of the slightly blackened fingertips. “Are you okay?”

 

Jimin emits a strained sound, something between a groan and a chuckle. “Ah, I forgot how much that hurts,” he says quietly, wincing as he straightens his fingers, but the smile is back on his lips when he looks up at Yoongi. “I’m fine, this’ll go away in a little bi- whoa!”

 

Without waiting for him to finish his sentence, Yoongi tightens his grip on his hand and drags him out of the bedroom and towards the kitchen, ignoring the boy’s startled protests. He opens the tap and adjusts the water to a proper cool temperature before bringing Jimin’s hand under the stream, simultaneously tugging the boy almost flush against his chest. “Why the fuck did you touch it if you knew that was gonna happen?” Yoongi demands loudly, glaring at his reddening skin.

 

“Y-you kept asking,” Jimin squeaks, a slight stutter in his voice as he stares at Yoongi with wide eyes.

 

“So then explain, for fuck’s sake,” Yoongi barks, tearing his eyes off Jimin’s hand to glare at the boy himself, too caught up in his sudden worry to notice their proximity. “Don’t purposely hurt yourself, you absolute dumbass!”

 

Jimin looks as shellshocked as Yoongi felt not two minutes ago, blinking at him, his lips parting and closing as if he has no idea what he should do or say. “O-okay,” he manages at last, his voice thin. “I’m sorry.”

 

Yoongi scoffs at his apology and turns back to look at his hand, moving his own to press a thumb against the palm of Jimin’s hand to coax him to open it more and let the current of water hit the irritated skin directly. His scowl smoothens out a bit when he hears Jimin’s sharp intake of air. “Why can’t you touch it?” Yoongi asks after a few seconds of silence, his voice lacking almost all of its previous irritation.

 

“You just saw-”

 

“Park fucking Jimin.”

 

“Alright, alright.” The boy giggles, and Yoongi finds himself feeling an unfamiliar sense of content when he glances at Jimin and sees the bright smile has returned to his lips. “You’re so serious,” he croons, shaking his head when Yoongi’s eyes narrow in warning. “Okay. It’s a safety measure. For myself.”

 

Yoongi grimaces at that. “How the hell is that a safety measure?” he asks dryly.

 

“In case I’d decide to kill myself.”

 

The answer is spoken so incredibly casually, it takes Yoongi a moment to even realize what he’d just heard. When he does, his eyes widen and he turns his head to face Jimin so quickly, the muscles of his neck twinge in protest. “What the fuck?” is the most intelligent reaction he can come up with.

 

Jimin emits another bright. “Shocking, isn’t it?” he asks, sounding way too chipper for someone who just uttered such severe words. “I looked like that when I first heard it, too.” His smile softens and he lowers his eyes. “It’s a reasonable thing, though. I mean, I’m sort of immortal, right, and I will be until I find what I’m looking for. But the lady who bound me to the box figured I was gonna lose hope somewhere down the road and get so sad I’d just want to end it all.”

 

There’s a brief silence, only two seconds long, but in those two seconds, Yoongi catches himself wanting to comfort the boy somehow; it’s not that he sounds particularly sad, but he speaks the words as if he acknowledges the frightening truth behind them. As if he agrees that it could’ve been a possibility.

 

“This was her way of making sure it can’t happen,” Jimin continues, heaving a light sigh as he looks at his hand, flexing it in Yoongi’s grip. “I can only die if the music box is destroyed, so just in case, she made it so that I can’t touch it.”

 

For several seconds, all Yoongi can do is look at him. There are several things he wants to ask of the boy, everything from why he’s trapped in a music box to begin with to why on earth he would trust Yoongi with such a crucial piece of information about his alleged immortality and how to break it. He has no idea what he should feel, how he should react, and in the end, all he says is, “That’s kinda fucked up, Park Jimin.”

 

Jimin bursts out laughing, a bright, breathy sound, and Yoongi’s chest fills with a buzzing sensation, his eyes widening a fraction as he watches the boy’s eyes crinkle into little crescents in his glee. “That’s exactly what I told her!” Jimin says when he sobers up enough to speak. “And she smacked me up the head and told me to mind my language.”

 

Yoongi hears himself chuckle and quickly covers the sound up by clearing his throat, quickly turning away from Jimin to look at his hand. He realizes the black marks have faded and figures the boy should be good to stop rinsing his hand now, but Yoongi doesn’t immediately let him go. He’s a human being, he thinks, the ghost of a frown marring his brow as he traces his thumb along the palm of Jimin’s hand. But only for a few hours every day.

 

If Jimin finds the contact weird, he doesn’t say anything. They stand in silence for a moment, the only sound the running of the water, and Yoongi has no idea how long has passed before he finally catches himself rubbing small circles into the boy’s hand. He quickly lets go and closes the tap, avoiding Jimin’s gaze in favor of looking for a towel he can use to dry off his hand. “Does it feel better?” he asks quietly and tosses the small kitchen towel at the boy before shuffling out of the kitchen.

 

“Yeah, I feel fine,” Jimin chirps, dabbing at his hand before stretching his fingers and smiling. “Thank you. You’re really kind.”

 

Yoongi almost does a double take at that, snorting before he can stop himself; it’s like the boy has forgotten that Yoongi was almost screaming profanities at him up until five minutes ago. “Right,” he says, unable to keep the dry amusement out of his voice. “Sure.” He walks halfway to his bedroom before stopping dead in his tracks, wondering what exactly he should do now. “Uh-”

 

“Do you want me to leave?”


The question makes him turn around, eyebrows raised in surprise, and the words tumble easily from his mouth. “What, no, of course not,” he says, and only when Jimin’s face lights up with the most radiant smile so far does Yoongi realize that his mood has done a complete 180 degree turn. His previous anger is long gone, his irritation has dissipated, and he can’t even remember why he’d decided to throw the boy out in the first place.

 

Even his headache is almost gone.

 

“Holy shit, thank god!” Jimin exclaims and surges forward, throwing his arms around Yoongi’s neck and pulling him into a bone-crushing hug, completely ignoring his shocked protests. “I was really freaked out when I woke up in a strange apartment last night and I saw you and you didn’t seem like a bad person so I just rolled with it, but then you told me to leave and I thought you were serious, and-”

 

“Yah, c-can you calm down for a second?” Yoongi interrupts and squirms his way out of Jimin’s embrace, fighting off a shudder; he’s never been one for physical contact, even amongst friends, but the goosebumps that break out across are definitely not from discomfort this time. Fuck. “There are a bunch of things we need to talk about here,” he says stiffly. “Like, a fuckton of things, starting with, uh, well,” his voice trails off and he awkwardly raises his right hand towards Jimin. “I’m Min Yoongi.”

 

The boy’s smile is almost endearing, and he giggles softly as he takes Yoongi’s hand, his small hand fitting comfortably in Yoongi’s. “I know,” he says, grinning when Yoongi frowns, and he turns to gesture at the coffee table by the armchair, where a small pile of the past week’s newspapers are stacked neatly. “I wanted to catch up with the world a little, and all the papers were addressed to a Min Yoongi, so, you know, I figured.”

 

“Right, okay.” Yoongi nods to himself and looks from the papers to Jimin, and only when the boy inclines his head in a curious manner does he realize they’re still holding hands. “Right,” he says again and quickly lets go, bringing his hand up to rub at his neck. “Uh, so… so how does this work, really? You just… come to life every day at midnight?”

 

Jimin nods. “As long as the lid’s open.”

 

“What if it’s not?” Yoongi asks, quirking a brow.

 

The boy purses his lips and adapts an expression of thoughtfulness. “Then I’m trapped in the box until someone opens it,” he says, offering Yoongi a lopsided smile. “Doesn’t sound too great, does it? I mean, I’m not conscious at all when I’m in the box, I have no idea what’s going on around me, so someone could close the lid and let years go past and I wouldn’t notice until I’m let out again.”

 

Yoongi’s face must’ve taken on a quite disturbed expression, because Jimin quickly raises his hands and waves them frantically as if to shoo away Yoongi’s concerns. “Don’t worry, that has never happened,” he tells him firmly, his smile reassuring. “I mean, on some occasions, it’s been unavoidable for me to be stuck for a couple of days, like if the box had to be carried in a bag or packed away for moving or something. But never longer!”

 

“Right,” Yoongi says for the third time in two minutes, his brain too ridiculously confused by the situation to provide him with any other ways to respond. “Uh, well… this is weird. Since you’re staying here, we’re basically gonna be living together.”

 

“Well yeah, but just barely,” Jimin hums, rocking back and forth where he stands for a few seconds before turning on the heel and walking over to the armchair and plopping down into the seat, smiling as he motions for Yoongi to sit down on the couch. As if he owns the place. “You’ll probably be sleeping whenever I’m awake,” he curls his fingers in quotation marks, “so I shouldn’t get in your way much. I could really use a key, though. I’ll be going out a lot, since I am looking for something.”

 

Yoongi just stands there for a moment, contemplating whether or not he should yell at the kid for acting so at home, but in the end, he really is too tired for that shit, so he just moves over to the couch and sits down. “You mentioned that before,” he says slowly. “What is it you’re looking for?”

 

Dimly, Yoongi wonders how a person’s smile can have so many different tones. The small curl of Jimin’s lips is patient, kind, and apologetic all at once, and it really shouldn’t be possible. “I can’t tell you that,” the boy says casually and rolls his shoulders in a shrug.

 

Yoongi nods, not at all irritated by Jimin’s words; it’s a pretty personal question to ask, he figures, seeing as the boy had actually gotten himself bound to a music box to find whatever it is he’s looking for. “Okay,” he says and is about to ask something entirely else when Jimin leans forward, an innocent look on his face.

 

“It’s not that I don’t want to tell you, Yoongi-hyung,” he says kindly, “but I literally can’t. It’s part of the whole,” he gestures vaguely towards himself, “bound-to-a-music-box thing. I have no idea how it works. I’m thinking about the answer right now, I’ve got the words in my head, but I can’t say it.” He heaves a light sigh and leans back into the chair, taking a moment to drag his teeth across his bottom lip. “It’s probably to stop others from helping me find it,” he mumbles.

 

His explanation makes Yoongi scoff, a wry smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. “The fuck kind of shady-ass magic did you get yourself into if you can’t even talk properly?” he asks, grinning when Jimin puffs out his cheeks in an expression of feigned offense.

 

“Hey, I can too talk properly!” the boy protests. “And it wasn’t shady, the lady who did it was very nice and supportive.”

 

“Right, before putting you on some kind of suicide watch and tongue-twisting you for all eternity.”

 

“Well, yeah, if you phrase it like that…”

 

Yoongi emits a bark of laughter before he can stop himself, which in turn prompts Jimin to do the same, and so they just sit there, in Yoongi’s living room at half past 2AM, laughing at something as bizarre as the thought of being magically bound to a music box. Yoongi’s surprised with himself, surprised that he’s in such a non-angry mood, considering he’d been ready to throw the intruder out his window not that long ago.

 

He simply looks at Jimin for a few seconds, wondering what on earth it is about him that makes Yoongi feel comfortable, or at least comfortable enough to even consider actually letting him stay. Yoongi would compare him to a stray cat if the boy wasn’t so utterly defenseless in his mannerisms, so open and straightforward while simultaneously portraying an immense amount of fearlessness. And he’s so happy, like damn, Yoongi has never seen a human being so overwhelmingly bright, like an embodiment of sunlight, and that’s saying a lot, considering Taehyung and Hoseok are two of Yoongi’s closest friends.

 

The two of them end up talking through the night, with Yoongi firing question after question at the boy, who's more than happy to reply to every single one of them. Yoongi learns that Jimin was a dancer already before ending up in the music box, having had a passion for it ever since he saw a ballet performance when he was four years old. He learns that Jimin’s parents died before he got himself stuck in the music box, and that he was an only child, so he hasn’t lost any siblings during his extended lifespan. He learns that Jimin’s favorite food is fried chicken, but that he doesn’t eat it very often. In fact, Jimin doesn’t eat very often at all, he tells Yoongi, because he doesn’t need to; his hunger resets every time he goes back to the music box, so he doesn’t need to eat or drink. Jimin tells him about how the first movie he ever saw was one of the very first screenings of the Wizard of Oz, and that it’s still his favorite movie, even though he likes the Avengers a lot, too.

 

Yoongi learns that despite his circumstances, Jimin is as normal as normal can be.


They talk until Yoongi falls asleep, sprawled out on the couch, and when he wakes up to the blearing of his alarm, Jimin is gone and the little ballerina is back in the music box.