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“Jimin-ah, come give hyung a hand with this.”

Jimin snaps his head up from the heat induced drowsiness settling thickly in his skull, cushioning behind his eyes like warm cotton. He takes a cursory look around him, everything seems still in place. The loud crying of cicadas in the distance, skies an eternal blue without a cloud in sight, his sweat soaked t-shirt sticking to his back like a second skin. Yoongi hyung off to his right, his camera in hand fiddling expertly with the knobs and buttons.

“Jimin-ah?”

“Yup,” he startles, sits upright from the picnic table he’d been laying his head on, “yes, hyung.”

Yoongi has him fetch his tripod from his equipment bag, has him standing around to test a few settings and shots before setting to actually work. Once that started, Jimin wasn’t much needed. He hovers in the periphery, taking in the landscape around them. They were in Jeju-do for Yoongi’s photography project, a short trip sponsored by the man himself, if Jimin agreed to be his assistant.

It’s beautiful. Heartbreakingly so. Jimin listens to Yoongi’s shutter going off, a soothing accompaniment to the otherwise blaringly loud summer sounds. Nothing is out of place.

It’s been 49 days, 15 hours and 37 minutes.

Since Jimin’s world has taken a turn for the strange and peculiar.

 

_

 

He can’t really remember what had happened. Only that one mid afternoon, Jimin found himself sitting up on a beach in his hometown, disoriented and confused. Unable to locate his phone, he makes the trek home on trains and busses purely by muscle memory.

Later, is where it starts getting weird. He finds out from his mother that he was expected due home that day for summer vacation, and that he was, in fact, early. Aside from a few strange questions about why he returned without luggage, his family welcomed him home like any other time.

“Jimin, why didn’t you invite Yoongi to come down to Busan for a few days? You said you would this summer.”

That earns a frown from Jimin. Sensing that something is definitely amiss. Get Yoongi-hyung to haul ass all the way to Busan with him? Not a chance. He asks to borrow Jihyun’s phone to text Namjoon, at least, to let the others know that he’s somehow back in Busan. His mother gives him a strange look then.

“Namjoonie? Kim Namjoon? That genius friend of yours? I didn’t know you guys still talked.”

It went downhill from there, with Jimin descending into a panic induced mania, scaring his brother and worrying his mother almost to tears.

Quickly, he learns that Kim Namjoon, that genius friend of his, had moved to the USA over five years ago. That Jimin himself has been studying mathematics at Seoul National University for two years and is entering his third. That Yoongi, a photography major, is his roommate back in Seoul.

That BTS hadn’t debuted in 2013. All of his life’s work, time spent slaving away in practice rooms and tiny recording studios, the blood, sweat and tears, simply never happened.

Two days, five, a week and a half later, Jimin finally accepts the reality of it. He keeps waking up everyday, but never to the familiar, dark 5am ceilings of his shared dorm room back in Gangnam.

Somehow, he’s slipped into a dream that he can’t get out of, a world so similar, but different.

 

-

 

Jimin adapts. He’s always been good at it. Moving from his hometown to Seoul, transferring into a school that makes fun of his dialect, thrown into the midst of other trainees all more talented and qualified than him. He’s changed the way he talks, the way he looks and moves, just to achieve his dreams of debuting as a singer. He's transformed himself to fit the best version needed.

This, he could handle.

Summer vacation is filled with downtime anyways. He spends his days helping out his mother, and his nights hanging with his brother. Casually, he gathers information about the others, testing the boundaries of how far he could push before his family thinks they might need to send him to a “head doctor” again.

Apparently, he knows a Kim Seokjin in Seoul. An acquaintance who graduated a year ahead of Yoongi and is currently working in advertising in an independent company.

There is a Jung Hoseok in Seoul too. Someone who hangs out with Yoongi quite often. From a few photos on Jimin’s Twitter page, which peculiarly maintained his login details, he seemed close with Hoseok. Selfies of the two of them in what looks like a dance studio, flushed and sweaty from exertion. Sometimes, Yoongi is there too. It brings a smile to his face, seeing some familiarity.

There is no Jeon Jungkook in his life. Jihyun gave a confused shrug when he asked about the name, before narrowing his eyes at him suspiciously.

“Jeon Jungkook? You mean, like, same name as JayKay? The idol?”

True enough, JayKay’s naver profile says he debuted in 2013 (just as planned, Jimin muses), and is currently charming the pants off of the entire nation, and then some. Jimin spends a whole day, just scrolling past photos of Jungkook online. He doesn't look much different, he thinks, maybe a little lonely on all these stages without six other people.

It's weird. He's never met Jungkook in this world. The mere thought makes his chest seize up in anxiety.

Finally, he asks about Taehyung. Jihyun goes quiet, eyes briefly refusing to meet his.

“What?”

“Nothing,” he wipes his palms on his pants, “you just don't talk about him a lot. So I don't know what you’re hoping to find out. It's weird enough that you're asking me about your friends. You must've hit your head pretty hard in that accident.”

Jimin gulps, shrugs as nonchalantly as he could. That's the story he settled with to explain the startling realisation that he’s missing a chunk of time in his memory, that he'd somehow slipped and fell in school and is possibly disoriented. Their GP that his family brought him to checked out his vitals and gave him a bill of health, unable to explain his disorientation, up until Jimin told him about the “accident” he had a few weeks prior. He's been convincing enough so far.

After some more prodding and bribing, he gets Jihyun to spill. It turns out that Kim Taehyung is someone in past. Jihyun doesn't provide a lot, nothing beyond how they had been close before, how Taehyung used to visit their home every summer and vice versa. Then suddenly, Taehyung isn't seen around their household anymore.

“You never told me why even when I asked,” Jihyun shrugged, “not even after he’s gone.”

“What?”

“What?”

“I mean, where’s Taetae now?”

“Taetae? Wow I haven’t heard that in a long time-”

“Jihyun please, just,” Jimin takes a deep, shuddering breath. His blood pounds in his ears, too loudly, vision blurring slightly by the wild panic crawling up his throat. Gone? What did he mean by gone?

“He’s overseas. With Namjoon hyung,” Jihyun replies carefully, concern pinching his eyebrows, “hey, are you alright?”

Relief floods Jimin’s veins like cool rivers, eyes tightly shut and he just breathes. He tells Jihyun that he’s fine, that he’s just tired. Jihyun knows him well enough to take it as a sign that he should drop the matter, leaving him to his thoughts.

Jimin doesn’t tell him that he’s in love with his best friend, has been for years now. Taehyung had taught him his kindness, with wide smiles and gentle touches, had been his strength and pillar to lean on, his confidante, his too late or too early 4am secret.

A world without Taehyung, even if it’s not his own, is too cruel.

Jimin yearns, trying his best to recall the last image of his friend, the last thing he said to him, but coming up blank. The most recent event was dated months ago, during Yoongi’s birthday party.

Taehyung had gotten so drunk on sweet alcohol and good company. Jimin was right there beside him, when he had descended from his high, into a pile of burning warmth, nestled into Jimin’s side, arms looped loosely around his waist and infinitely beautiful.

 

-

 

He gets a new phone. Luckily, Yoongi’s number was one of the numbers that he’d actually bothered to memorise, thanks to a period of time as a trainee when he was particularly attached to Yoongi for being a doting elder brother he admired. Jimin dials the same number, holding his breath and hoping that this world kept certain details unchanged.

Miraculously, Yoongi picks up on the third ring.

“It’s about time you called you little punk,” Yoongi’s drawl filters through the receiver and Jimin feels immediate relief. Yoongi’s familiarity always had a calming effect on him. “Remember we’re meeting at the Starbucks at the arrival hall. Don’t forget to bring insect repellent.”

“Uhm, hi, hyung?” Jimin hopes he doesn’t sound as clueless as he feels.

“Jiminie, do not tell me you forgot,” even Yoongi’s warning tone sounded familiar, Jimin had to bite his lip to stop himself from whining at his hyung. “You did, didn’t you. Kid, you agreed to be my assistant for the project in Jeju-do, remember? The one where I foolishly offered to sponsor you?”

“You love me, hyung,” is all Jimin manages to say sweetly in reply, cranking up his charm the way he knows worked best on Yoongi back home, “what time is the flight?”

 

-

 

Summer passes by and Jimin gets increasingly anxious. He’s supposed to return to school in about a week’s time. Yoongi stops by his home for a bit after their trip in Jeju-do, as promised, and it was heartwarming to see his mother doting over the young man as if he were his own son. Jimin smiles a lot that week, despite everything. That part hasn’t changed. After spending most of his young adult life with the same boys, it’s like they’ve gained six extra families.

On the night before Yoongi leaves for Daegu, he pulls Jimin aside quietly. It’s late, the hour chasing the tail ends of night into the early morning. Yoongi’s bus leaves at 6am sharp. He chooses not to sleep the night before.

“Jiminie, come sit,” he starts, stubbing out a cigarette in the ashtray he’s brought outside, while Jimin plops himself down next to him on the steps of his house. This was another difference between this Yoongi and his Yoongi. Jimin adds onto a list he’s taken to keeping.

(His Yoongi lives and dies for music, this Yoongi sees life best through a camera lens; His Yoongi would say he’d spend a holiday sleeping through the day, this Yoongi prefers people watching and taking shots of street fashion.

One thing that stays the same is that both Yoongi’s enjoy attention and praise, a hunger Jimin doesn’t hesitate to feed.)

“What’s up, hyung?”

“Jimin, you know,” he stops, fidgets. Jimin hides his smile. “You know that, I love you, right?”

“Yeah, hyung, I know.” He gives up trying to stop smiling.

“Good. So you know that you can tell me anything, right? Is something wrong?”

Jimin seizes up, the smile turning frigid on his lips. It doesn't go unnoticed. Yoongi pins him with a look, one that says he knows he's hit a nerve. Sweat starts to dot along Jimin’s hairline and he curses this midsummer heat. Even the nights are unbearable.

“What if, just hypothetically, right,” he licks his dry lips, only for the moisture to disappears a moment later, “what if one day, you woke up, and you're like, in an alternate universe. Like everything is the same, but different. And you think, you think you could be going crazy, but if you tell anyone, they would think you're crazy. What would you do-”

“Jiminie, calm down,” Yoongi brows are furrowed, his feline lips down turned in concern, “jesus, what are you even talking about.”

Jimin clamps his mouth shut, eyes scanning Yoongi’s expression and finding nothing but genuine worry. He feels like an asshole, worrying his hyung like this. Yoongi is a good guy, a great guy. And Jimin is sure that he would do the right thing, if Jimin really breaks down before him.

Yoongi wouldn't believe him. Fuck, even Jimin wouldn't believe himself.

“It's nothing. It's just a dream I had recently after that thing that happened to my head. Freaked me out.” He turns to face the suburban road before him, tuning into the sounds of a summer night. “I'm fine, hyung.”

“Okay.” Yoongi sounds skeptical, but doesn't push and Jimin is grateful.

They sit together for a while longer, until Yoongi says he's gonna head to the bus station and Jimin fishes out his keys to drive him. The car ride is mostly silent, the two quietly confirming the schedule for the upcoming semester and when they would be moving back in, with Yoongi double confirming with Jimin the address of their apartment, for Jimin’s benefit.

While waiting at a stoplight, even though the roads are eerily clear, Yoongi speaks without looking up from his phone.

“I would pretend to be normal, I guess. But I would know, that the people I care about, would still love me.” He meets Jimin’s curious gaze here, before motioning with a nod of his head that the light is green. The car continues forward, so does Yoongi, quieter, “I would try to find a way back home.”

The thought stays with Jimin, even after he's said goodbye to Yoongi and watched the bus pull out of the station.

Home.

At the same stoplight, he touches his forehead to the steering wheel, knuckles white.

He wants to go home.

 

-

 

School isn't as difficult as Jimin feared. He’d always been good at math. With a bit of revising and a lot of help (read: a lot, Jimin promises Jeonghan he would buy him a full dinner if he passes the semester) from the student mentor program, he's managed to somehow keep afloat in his grades.

He meets Hoseok, who really isn't any different than his Hoseok. Loud, fun and caring. Jimin finds the days he spends with the addition of Hoseok are currently his favourite. Those days, he spends in the dance studio where apparently he and Hoseok co-teach a class.

Dancing, something so ingrained in his body that it is like second nature, brings him more relief than he expects.

Time flows by slowly but surely, turning the air colder and leaves an effervescent red. One morning whilst Yoongi and him are getting coffee from their favourite campus cafe, the elder stops Jimin’s stream of chatter with a palm in his face.

Jimin shuts up, curiously wondering what could be on Yoongi’s phone that is so interesting. From this angle he can tell that it's opened in kakaotalk. He dutifully waits, sipping at his hazelnut cappuccino and humming under his breath.

He has nothing planned for the day. All of his classes have been purposely scheduled so that he would have a break in the middle of the week, a rest day to do nothing but loiter in cafes, or at the Han river.

It's been 110 days, 9 hours and 27 minutes. Jimin is no closer to getting home than he was last summer.

Some days, while he's stewing in his thoughts, alone on a bench along the Han, he muses about how this life could be it. A life he's never had. A normal life.

All those interview questions that asked them what they would be doing, if they weren't doing the whole idol singer thing, come to mind. Jimin smiles wryly. Just a few months ago, right before their 6th year anniversary, they were asked the same question for their annual festa.

Their answers waver slightly over the years, but they don't stray too far. Salaryman, a producer, a dad, a filial son, a badminton star. He grins recalling Taehyung’s never changing answer.

I'd be a farmer, maybe. My family owns a farm. I would be a good son and elder brother. Ah, but I can't think about that, I think I would've wanted to meet my members either way, even if we didn't debut as BTS. I would want to know them in my life.”

His chest tightens, teeth sinking into his bottom lip. Taehyung had looked at him then, threw him a proud grin saying while bumping shoulders, “I wouldn't have it any other way.”

Jimin remembers agreeing with him. Telling the interviewer that they've forged a bond, that he's sure, by the pull of fate, no matter what, the universe would’ve set their paths to cross. He'd said so while pulling Taehyung into a one armed hug, smiling brightly at the cameras.

Jimin realises with a start that that was in June. He had woken up on the beach in Busan in the first week of July. He was still back home in June, with the others, with Taehyung.

“Hey, Jiminie, hey,” Yoongi’s voice coaxes, “you alright, man? You seem a bit restless.”

Jimin’s fingers are clutching at his coffee mug tight, his nails turning white from the pressure. He pulls his lips into a disarming smile, waves away Yoongi’s concern.

“What's up, hyung?”

Yoongi says nothing about the dismissive statement. “I was just texting Namjoon.”

“Namjoonie hyung?” Jimin leans forward, curious.

“Yeah, he's heard about how you scrambled up your head, told me to tell you, and I quote, ‘who's a clumsy buffoon now, my little Chimchim?’.”

Jimin gasps indignantly, pouting in mock hurt for Yoongi to snap a photo to send to Namjoon. Yoongi’s gums show throughout the whole exchange, causing a small fire of warmth in Jimin’s chest.

“I didn't know you kept in touch with Namjoon hyung.”

Yoongi snorts. “I forgive you because of your head injury that made you promptly forget that Joon and I are tight.”

“Tight.”

“Shut up, brat. Anyways,” his tone of voice shifts, so does his eye contact, “he wanted me to tell you that him and Taehyung are coming back for winter break.”

Jimin perks up, “Taehyung? When?”

“December. We’re gonna hang out, Joon, me, Hobi, Taehyung and you,” he shrugs, “you cool?”

“Yeah,” comes out as a breathy sigh. Yoongi gives him a look, “I mean yeah, yes.”

He tries to push down the excitement of seeing Taehyung again, but his heart betrays him, as always. Even so, Jimin marks the date in his calendar, starting an unofficial countdown in his head.

 

-

 

Jimin celebrates his 24th birthday quietly. With a few close friends at their favourite bar and grill. Yoongi pays for dinner, while Hoseok says he's buying the drinks after.

At the end of the night, Hoseok presents him with a signed copy of JayKay’s newest album.

“I had my noona get this for me. She has a friend who is a big, big, big like, massive fan,” Hoseok is grinning like he knows some super top secret information, wagging his brows suggestively.

Yoongi smacks his palm against the side of Hoseok’s face in annoyance, but he's smiling. “Jihyun told us you talked about him. Saw you ogling at him with heart eyes. I don't blame you. He's a good looking kid.”

Jimin stares open mouthed at the album in his hands, at Jungkook’s handsome face, his messy curvy signature, his rounded hangul.

Happy Birthday Jiminie hyung! Thank you for liking me and my music so much! Followed by several lopsided hearts.

Before he knows it, there are tears dripping hotly down his cheeks, dotting across the shiny laminated material of the album cover.

“Whoa-hey man are you crying?” Hoseok is by his side, pulling him into a tight hug, “fuck, didn't know you liked him that much!”

“Thank you, guys,” Jimin manages after a while. Smiling the best he can to hide how broken he feels on the inside, “yeah I really do like him so much. Do you even see those arms?”

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

He's almost forgotten it. The feeling of home. Jungkook’s playful banter, Seokjin hyung’s lame jokes, Namjoon hyung’s wistful words, Yoongi hyung, Hoseok hyung, the music, the lights. Taehyung.

Taehyung.

He spends the night of his birthday lying in bed, recounting in his head all the memories of his past. The good, the absolute horrible, everything in between.

He's gotta get home.

 

-

 

“Jimin, stop, or I swear to god I will break your legs myself.”

“I’m sorry, hyung,” Jimin stops his pacing, but his foot starts to tap out a rhythm mimicking the beating of his heart, “it’s just been so long.” It’s insane.

His eyes are kept trained on the arrival hall exit, darting from stranger to stranger in search. His excitement is justified, apparently, since according to their mutual friends, they haven’t seen or heard much from Taehyung after he’d left to do part of his studies at Namjoon’s university, since they're both majoring in the same field.

That had been almost a year ago, Yoongi told him. To Jimin, it does feel like he hasn’t seen Taehyung in over a year, though realistically he knows that he saw Taehyung at least a few months back, minus the missing blank in his timeline.

He feels a nudge on his back, Yoongi’s shoulder, and looks back. Yoongi cocks his head, a smile already pulling up the sides of his lips.

Jimin turns back around and feels his world slow down to a stop.

Before him is his best friend and his best kept secret.

Taehyung looks exactly the same, so incredibly beautiful it makes Jimin’s heart ache in dull throbs he’s already used to, maybe even welcomes. His hair is a soft chocolate brown, lips chapped from the cold and eyes wide with surprise.

“Taehyung,” Jimin says on an exhale once he’s come close enough, practically falling into Taehyung’s chest, arms winding tight around his back and just breathing. He smells different, like a country far away, time lost between them, but still, some hint of him remains so him.

Jimin knows, this isn’t his Taehyung. But the proximity and contact is comforting nonetheless, especially when he feels Taehyung’s long arms loop behind his own back.

“Hi Jimin,” his voice is scratchy from disuse, presumably from sleeping during the long haul flight, “it’s good to see you too.”

 

-

 

“So,” Taehyung pops another french fry into his mouth, chewing loudly, “you’re telling me, that somehow a few months ago, you went and got your pretty little head all messed up, and still can’t remember certain things?”

Jimin shrugs, pulling a wry face in acquiescence. They’re at a Burger King near Jimin and Yoongi’s building because Taehyung demanded it.

Jimin starts the list of similarities for Taehyung in his head.

It’s been a week since Taehyung and Namjoon had arrived. Hoseok has offered to house Namjoon in his apartment, while Yoongi and Jimin take Taehyung. It has been an interesting week, for Jimin. Surreal, in a sense that, after months, he can’t believe him and Taehyung are roommates again, can’t believe Taehyung is real, is here.

“Yeah but get this, he remembers the weirdest details,” Hoseok cuts in, “like he could memorise Yoongi hyung’s phone number digit by digit, JayKay’s favourite overwatch character-”

“-JayKay the idol?” Namjoon asks, frowning.

“He’s a fanboy.”

Namjoon’s turns a surprised look at Jimin. “He doesn’t look like your type, Jimin.” Jimin can only manage a tight lipped smile.

“Anyways, listen,” Hoseok interjects again, “you remember Kim Seokjin? Tall. Gorgeous. Shoulders you could land a plane on?” He gets a nod from Taehyung, “we met him at a party during his senior year. Except Joon, right. Well, get this, he remembers Kim Seokjin’s birthday, his family home address and the name of his dog.”

“I told you, I had a look at his sns because I was curious,” Jimin defends weakly.

Truthfully, it had been an accident. That day was coincidentally Seokjin’s birthday, and every year, Jimin made it a custom to send a birthday card back to Seokjin’s home addressed to Jjanggu. It had been a silly running joke between him and Seokjin, completely meaningless, but when Seokjin uploaded a photo of Jjanggu with the birthday card on their twitter page, it had gotten so much attention that Jimin decided he would keep doing it.

Of course, it completely slipped his mind this year and while he was writing up the card with Yoongi in the room, he’d gotten some really strange looks before realising that in this world, he’s only ever spoken to Kim Seokjin once.

“That’s crazy weird,” Taehyung chimes, “and there are also things you don’t remember.” It’s worded like a confirmation.

“Bits and pieces,” Jimin replies, chewing on his bottom lip.

Taehyung hums, seemingly in thought for a long time, before nodding resolutely to himself. “Okay, cool.”

“Okay, cool?” Namjoon echoes, raising a skeptical brow at his friend.

“Yeah, okay, cool,” he suddenly turns to face Jimin, “I haven’t seen Jimin in so long and I feel really super ultra mega guilty about it,” and he does, look super ultra mega guilty. Jimin coos inwardly. “So I’m gonna make it up by reminding him of all the good things he might’ve forgotten.”

“Taehyung,” Yoongi says, a hint of uncertainty in his tone, “you literally don’t have to do that. It’s been months and he’s sometimes confused, but he hasn’t failed theoretical math yet, so i say he’s completely fine.”

“Yeah, I’m sure! Right Jiminie?”

“Right.” Jimin answers without missing a beat, before flushing in embarrassment by how eager he probably sounded. He clears his throat, tries to change the subject, “so, enlighten me about what you’re doing all the way across the ocean now?”

“Oh god, you asked the Forbidden Question, capslocked,” Hoseok says into his palm.

Jimin looks a bit worried when Namjoon just gives him a pitiful look, motioning with his right hand in a cutting motion across his throat. Abort mission.

It’s too late anyways. Taehyung launches into a spiel about his year abroad, the sights he’s seen, the people he’s met, but most importantly, the phenomenon that has become his latest obsession.

Jimin frowns, watching as Taehyung slows down from wildly gesturing in the air, “tornadoes?”

“Yeah! Namjoon hyung and I are part of this research team studying tornadoes. How they’re formed, why they’re formed and how to better anticipate them. It’s really really cool.”

“The team gets funding from the faculty every year to do some really good work,” Namjoon supplies, reaching forward to pluck at the leftover fries on the table nobody is going to eat, “Taehyung is even part of a volunteer relief team. He helps out at shelters and hospitals in affected areas. He’s a good kid.” He says so with such a fond smile, and Taehyung is brimming with glee at the praise.

“That sounds way, way cooler than math,” Jimin laughs.

“It is, my little Jiminie, to this day I still cannot understand why you would subject yourself to such torture willingly,” Taehyung crows, completely melodramatic, “and I prided myself on knowing you pretty fucking well.” He falls over into the crook of his elbows, mimicking a terrible death, twitching occasionally.

Jimin erupts into tinkling laughter, one small fist rising to cover his mouth but effectively collapsing into Taehyung’s side, using his other hand to smack at Taehyung’s shoulder repeatedly.

Taehyung catches his hand suddenly, engulfing it in his own massive palm, himself dissolving into low rumbling laughter like a chain reaction. The feeling that blooms in Jimin’s chest is indescribable, just by looking at Taehyung next to him, his warmth comfortably plastered to his side.

For a short moment in this dingy Burger King, suspended in time, Jimin feels like he could be okay, now that Taehyung is here. Things could be okay.

 

-

 

Living with Taehyung again comes naturally. They fall into old habits and routines so familiar that even Jimin finds it strange.

In the morning, Taehyung would barge into the tiny bathroom while Jimin is still in there, bleary eyed and messy bedhead. He used to to this back in their shared dorm, so much so that Jimin doesn’t even bat an eyelash when he hooks his chin over Jimin’s shoulder, one hand reaching for his toothbrush. They brush their teeth like this in silence, Jimin standing there while he waits for Taehyung to finish up.

“What the fuck are you two doing?” Yoongi spits from the doorway, only to be met with greetings of morning, hyung around half formed yawns, “get out, I need to piss.”

Jimin has winter classes for the two weeks leading up to Christmas, so Taehyung tags along for lack of anything better to do. He knows Jimin’s favourite campus cafe, his coffee order and even the flavor of his preferred muffin. Taehyung spends school days playing with Jimin’s phone while he works, taking selfies with the snow app to fill up his camera roll.

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, Jimin gets all of Taehyung’s food choices right. One Saturday night, while they’re feeling too lazy to venture out into the city in search of dinner, Jimin suggests calling for takeout from their usual chinese place.

While the number is dialing, he yells out, “Yoongi hyung, i’m ordering your usual, Taehyung-ah, jjajjangmyeon with extra sauce and extra, extra kimchi, anything else?”

“Yes! You haven’t ordered for me in a year and you still remember my fav, that’s a true best friend.”

“What are you even saying, I always order for you after practice,” he catches himself before either Yoongi or Taehyung can question him, “w-what? I’m always in charge of ordering after practice at the studio. I’m good at this.”

They shrug it off once the food arrives.

 

Jimin adds to his mental list about his Taehyung and this Taehyung. Day by day, the list of similarities grow astoundingly.

This Taehyung also mains D.va in Overwatch.

This Taehyung also admires Van Gogh, Ryan McGinley, Ante Badzim.

This Taehyung also swears that he would lay down his life for musical genius Chet Baker.

One afternoon, while Jimin was rushing some last minute homework before his break, this Taehyung had grabbed his hand, pulled out his pinky and lined it up with his own outstretched finger. He starts laughing once the size difference is apparent, falling over wheezing and getting Jimin thrown out of the library.

It’s too similar. He’s too much alike.

 

Then there are the differences.

For one, he is certain that this Taehyung is gay, and out, judging from the interactions in his friend group. There is no talk of a boyfriend currently, but they have discussed, at length, the merits of JayKay’s muscular chest, toned arms, and destructively powerful thighs, during one night of stay at home drinking to celebrate Taehyung’s belated birthday cum the new year.

It had Jimin burning hot, from his cheeks to the his neck, all the way down to his chest.

“What do you think, Jiminie? You must be all over JayKay, since you're a fan.” Taehyung is already slurring his s’ and r’s, shooting him a greasy smile, tongue swiping his bottom lip exaggeratingly.

Jimin swallows, finger swiping at his philtrum, a habit when he's put on the spot. He considers what he should say, something that wouldn't give him away. After all, from the way Taehyung sung high praises about JayKay’s physique, Jimin probably doesn't stand a chance.

“Yeah, Kookie is really handsome. A muscle bunny. He's too cheeky though, needs to respect his elders.”

Kookie?!” Hoseok yells, falling backwards with laughter, “wow Jiminie you are in so deep, speaking like you actually know him.”

Oh, oops. He's gone too far again. Jimin flushes even harder, burying his face into the rim of his wine filled mug. “Shut the fuck up, Hobi-hyung.”

When he looks up at Taehyung, he's surprised to see the split moment of intensity in his gaze, straight back at Jimin. Then it's gone, melting into his default mischievous glint.

That's one big difference on the list. A game changer, for Jimin.

 

He wakes up the next morning, moaning softly with his hangover properly in place. The first thing he notices is that his bed is incredibly cramped. He turns onto his side to promptly find a faceful of his best friend all up in his space. He’s startled for all of two seconds before the serenity of a morning prior to anybody else in the house awakens settles in.

Jimin is used to this. Back during the days when they were poor teenage boys with vigorous training hours and little to no sleep, anywhere they could lay their head down for a few hours of rest was precious.

He’s used to squeezing into a measly little single with his best friend. He’s comfortable like this, head pillowed on his own arm, limbs pressed together until they’re too warm.

Regretfully, Jimin is also used to watching Taehyung doze. When the sky outside is still a deep blue, morning still in the process of slowly waking up, Jimin is already there. Watching the way Taehyung’s long ass lashes fan across his cheeks, his mouth parted unattractively, breathing in and out.

His heart aches for him. Jimin tries to breathe as quietly as he can, his lungs stuttering.

Taehyung is right there in front of him. Right within his reach. Even so. He turns onto his other side, curls up against the wall.

It’s a new year. It’s been 184 days, 5 hours and 13 minutes.

He misses Taehyung.

 

-

 

“What do you find so interesting about storms anyways?” Hoseok asks over lunch one day.

“He’s really, really into it,” Jimin says first, waving around a spoon of yoghurt in the air, before Taehyung can elaborate, “I asked him about it and he started using all this weather jargon, trust me, hyung, you’d rather not know.”

Automatically, Taehyung grabs hold of Jimin’s wrist, pulling it close to close his mouth over the spoon, licking it clean of strawberry yoghurt. Jimin doesn’t flinch.

“I love the energy,” Taehyung answers, completely serious, “when you look at a storm, when you’re right under it, it’s electrifying, majestic, so very mysterious.”

“It sounds like you’re describing some sexually charged moment with a hot guy in the club, Tae,” Hoseok scoffs, unconvinced.

“No, no, listen,” Taehyung sits up straighter, leaning forward to seem more persuasive, “remember that one storm in Busan last year? Around summer? The really, really weird one. It went from mild to insane in like minutes.”

“The one with the rumored tornado? That nobody got on video evidence anyways.”

“Yeah that one! Don’t you think that’s amazing? We are nowhere near close enough for a meteorological phenomenon like that to happen, and yet, there are news reports about it.”

“A...tornado?” Jimin asks, interest sufficiently piqued once he heard his hometown namedropped, “in South Korea? In Busan? Get real.”

“No, really! It was right before your summer break. You’re lucky you weren’t travelling on that day, Jiminie. The reports of the storm were bad, like, really bad. There was a pileup on the highway. Two casualties.”

“In June? The end of June?” Jimin feels his heart rate pick up, his palms starting to get sweaty.

He remembers that day. Sudden visions flashing through his mind.

He was in the car. They were on their way to a music festival. Right. Jin hyung had some obnoxious music playing because it was his turn to sit shotgun and take over the radio. Right. Jungkook was knocked out on his left with drool all over his shoulder. And Taehyung-

The last thing he remembers was making eye contact with Taehyung, urgent and devastated. Right before a blunt force had ripped him away from the rest of them, flinging him like a rag doll through the air and knocking him unconscious.

A tornado? That’s impossible. And yet, there it is on the news article Taehyung had pulled up on his phone. He’s unable to deny that there were freakish weather conditions the moment they pulled onto Gyeongbu Expressway. The 1pm news on the radio had reported that there was likely going to be a storm heading their way, touching down in Busan around nightfall. Jimin remembers hearing Sejin say, ”thank god the event is indoors.”

Thank god. Thank god. But for what-

“Jiminie, hey, Jimin!”

Jimin snaps out of his reverie, staring wide eyed into Taehyung’s concerned face. The blood pounding in his ears is deafening, barely drowning out Taehyung’s voice telling him to calm down, Jiminie, you’re alright.

But how can he be alright? He’s been stuck in a fever dream for months, after being swept away in a bizarre storm. He doesn’t even know if his friends and his family are okay, whether they’re even alive.

Taehyung is letting him clutch onto his hands, squeezing so tightly that Jimin is sure that there will be ugly little fingernail imprints. And yet, he can’t seem to let go. Taehyung’s grip and soothing words are the only thing grounding him. Some pieces of the puzzle fall into place, but instead of bringing him relief, Jimin feels himself sinking further, down under.

 

-

 

He doesn’t tell them the reason he broke down, doesn’t want to worry them. It’s innate, this mechanism to put others before himself. Jimin recalls one time Namjoon had called him out on it, told him, in a tone of voice befitting his leader, ‘you should take care of yourself, Jimin.’

Namjoon has returned early to start his semester in February, leaving Taehyung behind as his own program doesn’t start until late spring. Taehyung tells them that the remainder of his time in USA will be for a final research project that he’s part of, that will be transferred as credit for his studies back at home later in the year.

“So you’re stuck with me for a few more months, Jiminie!” He bellows, pulling Jimin into a headlock and nuzzling his forehead to Jimin’s temple, “sucks to be you, huh?”

Jimin doesn’t bother to hide the smile. He’s decided to accept Taehyung as he comes, just like he’s always done.

His heart does the same. Reacting like a man dying of thirst, finally given a mouthful of cooling stream water, every time Taehyung looks his direction, smiles at him that special way, tender and soft. It’s traitorous, beating too fast and too loudly, every time Taehyung reaches to take his hand nonchalantly, bringing it into his lap while he presses and kneads at each knuckle.

Jimin wonders, sometimes, a lot, often. How would his Taehyung have reacted to his affections. He did so when he was still an idol, living everyday until his bones were on the verge of breaking, but living his dream. Too scared to say anything. Terrified for the worst outcome.

He wonders about it now, too, having made a daily sport out of watching Taehyung sleep for the few minutes before his alarm goes off. Since the new year, Taehyung has declared that sleeping on the sofa bed in their living room gave him terrible neck pains, insisting instead that Jimin’s bed is more than capable to fit the two of them.

And when has Jimin ever denied him.

How would this Taehyung react if he’d just inched a little bit closer in his bed, if he’d just brush away Taehyung’s stray blond fringe, cup the side of his neck.

If he’d just be a little bit more courageous, beyond whispering quiet Taehyung, I think I might like you’s into the early morning silence.

 

Taehyung’s eyes flutter open, completely awake. Jimin gasps, having not noticed that Taehyung’s telltale snores have stopped quite a while ago, while he was mid wondering. He feels his cheeks start to heat up, unable to break eye contact with his best friend. He tries to retract the hand he has lying warm against Taehyung’s neck, but Taehyung is faster, cupping his own hand over it, trapping it there and his eyes search.

The moment Jimin decides to tear his eyes away, Taehyung surges forward, lips pressing gently against Jimin’s chin, just shy of his target. Jimin freezes up, feeling Taehyung’s breath hot and so close. He pulls back just enough to readjust, slotting their mouths together, moving like flowing water.

They kiss, and kiss and kiss again, until Taehyung has Jimin lying on top of him, head tucked in the crook of his neck, lips kiss swollen, body an active furnace.

“I’ve waited so long to do that, you have no idea,” Jimin mumbles against Taehyung’s collarbone. He isn’t lying. He’s been waiting for years and years.

Taehyung doesn’t respond for a few moments, fingers carding through Jimin’s hair thoughtfully. Just as the seconds ticking by become too long for comfort, Jimin rises onto his elbows to look Taehyung in the eye, only to be met with mischief, dancing across his devilishly handsome face.

Jimin groans, burying his head back against Taehyung’s clothed chest, “why the fuck are you so hot.”

“Oh, so now you think i’m hot, do you?” Gone is his morning voice, in its place, a tone laced with tease and endless charm. He sits up suddenly, flipping Jimin onto his back and caging him in with arms on either side of his head. “Then I guess, we should make out some more, to make up for lost time.”

Jimin misses his first class of the semester.

 

-

 

‘Dating Taehyung’ gets added onto the list for differences. Though technically, Jimin can’t safely say that it would be different entirely if he were to date his Taehyung. He hasn’t tried yet.

But dating this Taehyung is wonderful. Jimin chalks it up to not having that much experience with dating as an idol, and enjoys the novelty of it to extreme lengths. Every moment he gets, he takes it. Morning kisses, and goodnight kisses, hand holding on public transport, movie dates and art gallery dates, slow dancing in their bedroom, dirty dancing in their favourite club.

It’s like Jimin is on a whirlwind to experience everything while he can.

And Taehyung has been nothing short of the perfect boyfriend. A gentleman through and through.

Then there’s the sex. As much as he is a gentleman, he fucks just as wildly.

After one night when innocent petting was taken too far, Taehyung had Jimin in his lap, grinding filthily onto his thigh with his hands down the back of Jimin’s jeans, kneading at his ass. He’d made Jimin rub himself out to orgasm purely by humping his leg, until he came all over the inside of his boxers, body twitching in sensitivity when Taehyung bent down to kiss at his shoulder.

Since then, they’ve made a game out of finding the most creative places where they could fuck, quickly or slowly. The tally shows Taehyung taking the lead, given to him after he’d talked Jimin into sucking him off in the ‘quiet’ section of the campus library, hidden behind one shelf of books separating them from some very unsuspecting psych majors.

Jimin’s honestly had more action within the three weeks of dating Taehyung than he’s ever had in his young adult life. It makes his cheeks pink with shame when he thinks about that, makes him want to strangle Yoongi with his bare hands when the elder would grin at him over the top of his coffee mug during breakfast, telling him you look completely fucked out, not even softly to make sure Taehyung hears it from his bedroom.

He huffs. Adds one for the similarities list. As he suspected, Taehyung has seriously good hip game.

 

-

 

Since his revelation, Jimin’s been doing some poking around, asking questions about the mysterious storm in June, reading up on witness accounts of the supposed tornado. Taehyung is delighted at this progression, glad to gain Jimin as a willing audience to his nonstop commentary.

After some extensive research (read: having Taehyung explain the research to him), and meticulously picking apart his memory of that day’s events on the highway, Jimin has come to the conclusion that it was the storm, or the tornado, that swept him into this world. Somehow.

It sounds utterly insane, entirely impossible, but frankly, nothing has been quite what it’s supposed to be.

“Hey, if you’re so interested in storms all of a sudden, why don’t you join my research project? We’ll be collecting some data that will require being out in the field, it’ll be exciting.”

Jimin turns around in Taehyung’s hold, staring at him from behind his prescription glasses. They’re busy cuddling while Jimin has another article about the Busan Storm pulled up on his laptop. Truthfully, he’s tried to read the article three times now, all of which proves useless due to Taehyung’s wandering hands under his hoodie.

“Out in the field? What does that even mean?”

“Mm,” Taehyung stalls, choosing instead to press kisses to Jimin’s neck and shoulder, “I mean we’ll be out there, storm chasing.”

“Storm chasing?”

“Yeah, like in vehicles. Our professor has this tank-like thing that he razzle-dazzled himself. It’s built to withstand insane weather conditions. Like tornadoes. It’s fitted with all these snazzy equipment to help predict where the storms are and where it’s likely to see tornadoes. But the student teams won’t be in those.

Namjoon hyung and I will be in his car, probably. We’re only allowed to chase from a distance and observe. Later, we’ll need to present a report that will be worth 50% of our final grade.”

Jimin has pushed aside his laptop, completely turned around in Taehyung’s lap. His mind going a mile a minute.

“You’ll be physically near storms.”

“Technically, our goal is to study tornadoes. That’s why I was so fascinated by the incident in Busan.”

“Okay, you’re going to be literally fucking chasing, tornadoes, Jesus Christ Tae, isn’t that fucking dangerous?!” He erupts, his voice raising in volume the longer he thought about it.

Taehyung is crazy, Namjoon is crazy. A tornado was the thing that fucking got him into this mess in the first place-

Wait. What if. What if a tornado will do the same. What if a tornado will bring him home.

“It really won’t be that dangerous, babe,” Taehyung tries to appease him, both hands holding Jimin’s balled up little fists, “you’re so cute when you’re mad.”

“Shut up,” Jimin huffs, gnawing on his bottom lip in thought.

“Seriously, my professor has been storm chasing for a decade. Namjoon hyung has been doing it for three years now. I went with him last year. It was amazing. I want to show it to you.”

Jimin hums into the kiss, hands sliding through Taehyung’s hair like second nature. Later, when he’s drifting off into sleep, arms wrapped around Taehyung’s waist, he tells Taehyung’s shoulder that he would think about it.

In truth, he’s already decided.

 

-

 

“Storm chasing season starts in two weeks. As students,” Namjoon turns to address Jimin briefly, “and volunteer, we don’t have much to prepare, other than our computers and,” he gestures to his temple, “what’s up here.”

“And lots of water and food, and change of clothes, we’ll be on the road a lot. Video camera! An umbrella. Helmets, power banks,” Taehyung pauses to tap through his phone screen, the crooning of one Bruno Mars starts playing from his scratchy phone speakers, “good music.”

Jimin giggles despite himself, despite how fucking anxious he feels about the entire ordeal. He’d really hopped on a plane with Taehyung and flew with him out to his affiliated university. Namjoon had been surprised, but welcomed him. He seemed less surprised at Taehyung’s hand curling low on Jimin’s back, or when Taehyung outright kissed a petulant protest off of Jimin’s lips.

Even as Namjoon got the okay from his faculty to bring Jimin along as an entourage, and Taehyung seemingly getting more and more excited as the week progressed, the tendrils of guilt sitting low in Jimin’s stomach keeps him awake some nights.

He’s ultimately here with an ulterior motive. One that he can’t exactly figure out how to achieve yet. How is he going to discreetly find a tornado, get close enough to it, and fling himself into the midst of it? All while lying to his boyfriend.

As chase day draws closer, Jimin contemplates whether he should come clean. He’s definitely gonna need help. Taehyung and Namjoon aren’t allowed to go near the storms by the school, but off record, technically they’re allowed to drive wherever they want, right?

It is with this mindset that the first day of chase season begins.

 

For the most part, storm chasing has been incredibly boring, in Jimin’s opinion. They’ve spent a lot of time sitting in Namjoon’s Honda, with Taehyung at the wheel and Namjoon shotgun. His laptop, mounted to the dashboard, is opened on a storm forecast website, a walkie talkie in his left hand.

Periodically, he gets instructions from their professor, speaking in a slew of English too fast for Jimin to understand. Namjoon replies, directs Taehyung, and they drive for hours.

They spend the first few days chasing a couple of storm cells forming across Texas, with no luck. The instructions from their professor have been more misses than hits. Jimin doesn’t mind that much. During downtime between drives, he spends it sightseeing.

For all their touring in the USA, he’s never had a chance to come out to this part of the nation. It’s always the big cities, New York, LA, San Francisco. The landscape on the road across what Namjoon had told him is named Tornado Alley, gives Jimin a road trip feel. Out here, he feels a bit less suffocated.

When he gets to sit shotgun on a three hour drive to the next town and Namjoon decides he’d rather take a nap in the backseat, he takes advantage of it by focusing on Taehyung.

Back home, they rarely get time to drive on their own. Being shuffled around in a group is much easier for them. Now, he watches the relaxed way Taehyung has his hands on the steering wheel, his body poised in the most comfortable slouch he can afford. He’s humming to the song playing from his phone, connected to the car speakers by bluetooth. It sounds like Little Star.

“What?” Taehyung catches him staring, a smug grin playing on his lips.

He’s so beautiful. With his too long fringe and white button down and ugly sandals.

“Nothing.”

Maybe. What if Jimin stayed? With Taehyung. Here.

Taehyung reaches out to interlace their fingers, tugging Jimin’s hand up to kiss his knuckles, eyes never once leaving the road. He keeps their hands together across the center console.

 

-

 

On the second week of their chase, they finally get caught in a storm of any significance. Namjoon calls it first, from observing the live weather data on his laptop. They wait for another half hour before getting the go ahead from their professor to head in the direction of a storm forming massive wall clouds outside a small city in Oklahoma.

As they draw closer, Jimin is startled by the blaring of a siren coming from the direction of the town. He looks to Namjoon, who's looking out the window attentively.

“Tornado warning sirens,” he answers Jimin’s unasked question, “the weather looks possible for a tornado.”

“Look at that,” Taehyung’s voice sounds so awed, reverent. He's staring straight out at the looming open sky, dark clouds gathering ominously. “It's beautiful.”

Suddenly, the car starts being berated by loud thunks on the roof, causing Jimin to yelp, startled. Taehyung pulls over to wait out it out, as well as for further instructions.

“It's hail, Jiminie, look,” Taehyung opens the door for a swift moment to pick some up off the ground, twisting in his seat to show it to Jimin with a wide boxy grin.

“Hail is a good sign of the weather conditions we’re hoping for,” Namjoon says, “look, Tae, that looks like it's rotating.”

“Fuck, for real, where's the camera?”

Namjoon doesn't reply, he's on the walkie with their professor, confirming their positions. Jimin looks on, tries to see the changes in the sky that the others see. “Copy that,” Namjoon hops off the walkie and immediately starts explaining, “a wall cloud, the one you see near the horizon there, if it starts to lower, and tighten up, it could cause a tornado.”

Jimin takes it all in stride but it’s pretty hopeless. To him, it’s just some really menacing looking weather. He startles when Taehyung shouts, “Joon, I see a funnel.”

“Okay, okay drive, let’s chase it.”

They speed off in the direction of what seems like to Jimin, strangely moving clouds. Taehyung gets more and more excited the closer they get to it, while Namjoon mans the handheld video camera.

“Stop at the next intersection, Tae,” Namjoon calls out, “it’s going to pass right next to us.”

“I thought you said you’re not supposed to get so close?”

“We’re not, that close, when Joonie hyung says it,” they stop next to the road and the two pile out of the car, facing a dark sky to the east. Jimin follows, pulling his jacket tighter around himself once the winds outside come slapping at him.

It looks pretty fucking close to him. The giant cloud structure looks like it right above them. He shivers, body remembering the faint sensation of being hit by cutting winds the last time he came this near.

Taehyung comes right up next to him, “see that?” He points to a tail like cloud reaching its way down from the sky, “that is going to be a tornado, once the tail end touches the ground.”

Jimin feels the hair on the back of his neck stand, watching as the cloud descends. He clutches tighter at his arms, filled with anticipation and dread.

They watch on while the tail finally touches down, kicking up a whirl of dust around it.

“It’s on the ground,” he hears Namjoon say to his left, “look at that.”

Jimin does. It’s slender, even from this far away, a twisting tube of air and cloud and dust, reaching up into a darkened sky, and gliding across the countryside terrain.

He's fucking terrified. The looming funnel charges sideways, only miles away from where they stood. Even Jimin, someone completely devoid of any meteorological knowledge, can feel the energy buzzing in the air, every particle charged and almost prickling.

He has half a mind to run towards it. A voice in his head telling him to go, to come home.

“Spectacular,” he hears Taehyung say right next to his ear, snapping out of his thoughts to find that Taehyung has his arms looped around Jimin’s waist, one hand holding his fingers. Jimin is shaking like a leaf.

He turns to look at Taehyung and sees the complete wonder, starbursting in his eyes.

Adds one to the list of similarities. Taehyung looking at something he’s completely in love with, mouth dropped open, eyes nearly unblinking, brimming with admiration.

The winds pick up ferociously and Namjoon is suddenly yelling, “fuck, get back in the car! We gotta go!”

“What?”

“Get in the car, Jimin,” Taehyung pushes him urgently, “go.”

“Why? What's happening?”

“Look, behind us, those cells are circulating really fast, and way too close,” Namjoon replies, “close the fucking door, Tae, this is not time for one of your suicide missions. We gotta go, prof just told me that his radar indicated massive tornado potential right in our path.”

“Okay, okay, yeah.”

By the time they’re on the move again, night has fallen and with it, a heavy, full blown storm. They’ve been given instructions to get out of the area as quickly as they can. Zero visibility at night made storms extremely unpredictable to deal with.

“This doesn’t look good, Joonie hyung,” Taehyung says through gritted teeth, sounding worried for the first time, once they’re well inside torrential rains, thunder deafening and the only source of light to assess the storm above them comes from lightning streaking across the sky, “we don’t know if we’re driving straight into tornadoes.”

“We need to get out of here,” Namjoon agrees, “keep driving.”

In the back seat, Jimin’s grip on the leather seat gets tighter. With every flash of lightning, he sees the fleeting last moments of that car ride, feels the warmth being ripped away from around him, flung into the air, up, up and up.

And then plummeting down.

He shuts his eyes, willing himself to drown out the sounds of the storm, of hail plowing against the roof, Namjoon telling Taehyung to fucking drive faster, everything.

The next time he opens them, it’s to Taehyung’s kind gaze, staring down at him from above.

“Hey, you,” Taehyung says, brushing away his fringe that had fallen over his eyes, “you really slept through that storm. Amazing.”

“Where are we?” he sits up, realising he’s been using Taehyung’s thigh as a pillow.

“Still on the road, Joonie hyung is driving,” Taehyung replies, pulling Jimin into his lap, “are you okay?”

The drop from the adrenaline high earlier, together with the emotional stress and residue of physical trauma finally proves too hard for Jimin. He collapses onto Taehyung’s chest, shoulders shuddering as little sobs bubble up past his lips.

“Jimin,” Taehyung’s tone is alarmed, “baby, you’re alright. You’re okay,” he soothes.

“I’m okay,” Jimin repeats against Taehyung’s shoulder, “I’m okay, now.”

 

Namjoon bids them goodnight after reaching their hotel a little past midnight.

It's approaching the one year anniversary of Jimin being here. After today’s events, the creeping what if’s are getting stronger and stronger, his resolution weakening with the growing dread of being near the sheer power of a storm again.

Does he want to return to his old life? Every day was a struggle from the moment his eyes are forced open in the morning, right through to the brief reprieve of dreamless dead sleep. Rinse, repeat.

It was tiring. As the years passed by, his dream became a job, a routine. One of constant insecurities, backlash and harsh judgments. One where he's never good enough, the mask that he's crafted carefully over time, still not what others demand of him. It's bone crushing, mind numbing, a kind of torture that he's picked for himself. The poison that he's selected.

This life could be easy. Maybe it was the second chance he's been unconsciously praying for, his what if.

"Jimin-ssi, what about you, what would you be doing if you weren't in BTS?”

“I don't know really. Maybe a student in university? That's what normal people my age are doing, right?”

An ordinary life. With ordinary friends. An ordinary best friend as his boyfriend.

 

Taehyung comes out of the shower to find Jimin curled up on his side, thumbing through another article of the Busan storm. He plucks Jimin’s phone out of his hands and clicks it shut, all while pressing close lipped kisses to Jimin’s mouth.

“You alright?”

Jimin stares at him, hands tangling into Taehyung’s hair, stroking down the back of his neck, across his shoulders and sliding down his bare chest. “What did you feel out there today, Tae? Seeing that tornado.”

For a full minute, Jimin waits. He's broken eye contact with Taehyung around the 10 second mark, choosing instead to gaze at the little patterns he's drawing on Taehyung’s collarbone instead. It's making him antsy to hear Taehyung’s answer.

He gets it in the form of Taehyung kissing the side of his neck, licking hotly up his jaw to reach the shell of his ear.

“I like the rush,” he says, voice breathy and octave lowered, “I like the power coursing through the air, I like when the sky is dark, ominous, scary, I like that it's unpredictable, that I'm at its mercy.”

He's moved on to mouthing down Jimin’s chest, after pulling off Taehyung’s Ohio uni sweater he's pilfered the week before. It did something to Taehyung, seeing him in the oversized piece of clothing and Jimin took full advantage of that.

Taehyung reaches Jimin’s stomach, pressing wet, open mouthed kisses where he knows Jimin sometimes feel irrationally insecure about.

“Then there's the tornado,” he mumbles against Jimin’s belly, one hand pressing large fingerprints into Jimin’s upper thigh, “the adrenaline high from feeling warm wind currents cutting at you, the thrill of being so close to danger, succumbing to nature’s immense destructive energy,” he leans down further, laving with his tongue a strip up Jimin’s dick over his straining boxers, “it makes me horny as fuck.”

Jimin exhales harshly, pupils blown. He tugs a fistful of Taehyung’s hair to pull him close and crash their lips together messily, more tongue and teeth than actual kissing, “you're fucking crazy.”

“Only for you, baby,” Taehyung makes a kissy face at him before actually kissing him again, slotting their hips together just to hear Jimin whine into his mouth, “wanna suck you off.”

Jimin feels himself overheating. Every time Taehyung touches him, brushes his hand down his side, palm curving around the meat of his thigh, leaves him scorching. He shakes his head no, pushing away Taehyung’s hand palming at his cock, only to pull off his boxers quickly, “wanna fuck.”

“I won’t say no to that,” Taehyung laughs, as he watches Jimin shuffle through the contents of his duffel for lube, “but I still wanna suck your dick.”

Even so, he leans his weight back onto his hands, relaxed as he watches Jimin wet his own fingers with lube, and reaches back to quickly push one, then two fingers inside himself. Taehyung slides his right hand thumb across Jimin’s bottom lip, prompting him to free the pink flesh from the torture of his teeth. Instead, Jimin obediently takes his thumb into his mouth, tongue lapping at the digit, before trying to speak around it.

“What? What did you say, Jiminie?”

“Wanna,” he’s almost out of breath, practically sitting back onto his fingers, from what Taehyung could see. Coyly, he bats his lashes up at Taehyung, mouth pulling off to just hover over Taehyung’s thumb, “wanna come just from your cock, Taetae.”

“You little minx,” Taehyung spits, eyes wide and throat dry, “fuck.”

Jimin has Taehyung slip on a condom and wet in under two minutes, falling back onto the pillows and pulling Taehyung over him, “come on, Tae.”

“What’s up with you,” Taehyung muses aloud even as he pushes in slowly, “extra needy tonight.”

“I’m not, I just, want you to fuck me,” Jimin tries his best to keep the whiny edge from his tone, “come on, I’m ready,” he says, pushing back only to have Taehyung hold him down by his hips.

“God,” Taehyung groans, low and gravelly, right up against Jimin’s ear. He starts rolling his hips smoothly, pulling back to stare down at Jimin.

And he is a sight, cheeks dusted pink and kiss swollen lips, remnants of Taehyung’s tongue and teeth starting from the base of his neck littering all the way down to the v of his hipbone. Jimin has his hands fisted in the pillow by his head, body rocking and arching with every fuck forwards, every pull back, soft little pants of pleasure leaving his lips.

Taehyung hooks Jimin’s legs over his shoulders, slides hands upwards from Jimin’s sides, over his ribs to settle cupping around his jaw, and he sounds reverent, like worship, when he breathes onto Jimin’s lips, “you’re my lucky star, Jimin, my saviour.”

Jimin’s heart is frantic, a rush of desperation bubbling up from his gut, he’s so close, he needs this. He needs to feel Taehyung taking care of him, to give into the gentle caress of Taehyung’s kindness, needs to be held. He needs Taehyung to know, needs him to know that-

“I love you,” Jimin gasps weakly, arms looping around Taehyung’s shoulders to pull him close, even as he’s being bent nearly in half, Taehyung fucking into him relentlessly, “T-tae, please, please, i-”

He comes messily between their stomachs, a broken off cry swallowed by Taehyung’s eager kisses. “Fuck,” Taehyung pants against his lips, pulling out to quickly discard of the condom. He spits into his hand hastily before tugging himself to completion, painting a mess across Jimin’s torso.

Jimin watches as Taehyung cleans them up and crashes down next to him. They assume a familiar position, curled up facing each other with their legs tangled under the sheets. Taehyung combs his hand through Jimin’s hair, settling at the base of his skull for his comfort.

“Out there today, you were pretty spooked.” When Jimin doesn't respond, Taehyung prods, “Jimin, why are you suddenly so obsessed with tornadoes if they scare the fuck out of you.”

It’s a tipping point, too many thoughts bottled up, overflowing. Jimin blames it on the safety of darkness. Like this, the two of them lying in bed with only the moonlight streaming in through the window, Jimin can almost pretend that he’s back home, in his room with Hobi hyung in the other bed up against the opposite wall, that he’s with Taehyung, his soulmate, his safety. That it’s okay to tell him all of his deepest, darkest, most hated secrets.

So he does. He tells Taehyung the truth about the past year, how he’s actually Park Jimin from Busan, idol and singer, that he was caught in that mysterious tornado in June, that he’s been trying to find a way back home.

By the end of it, he’s fallen into one of his moods, eyes glassy and throat constricting. He can’t even look Taehyung in the eye, everything is so mad, so ridiculous, so, so wrong-

“Jiminie, hey,” again, Taehyung is there, holding his hands like he’s his only lifeline, “it’s okay, you’re okay.”

Taehyung must think he's lost it. Jimin has half a mind to start apologising, like he did to Jihyun and his parents, Yoongi hyung.

“I believe you.”

“You what? Taetae, you actually believe me? You don’t think i’m crazy.”

Taehyung smiles at him, gentle and a little bit wise. He traces one hand down the side of Jimin’s face, cups his jaw and strokes his thumb across Jimin’s soft cheek.

“Yeah I believe you.” His smile turns sad then, eyes looking away for a brief moment before reconnecting with Jimin’s. “I know you’re telling the truth.”

“Why? How?” Jimin insists, “even i think I sound fucking insane.”

“Because,” Taehyung licks his dry lips, Jimin’s eyes following the movement, “because I’ve already asked my Jimin out. Two summers ago.”

Jimin’s breath gets caught in his throat, eyes widening.

“You rejected me,” Taehyung laughs, the sound of it painful, “well, technically, the other Jimin rejected me. My Jimin.”

“What.” Never in any of Jimin’s wildest speculations, would he think that he would ever reject Taehyung. God, he loved him. And he was absolutely convinced that he would always, in every universe, love Taehyung.

“Yeah,” right now, before him, this Taehyung is frustrated. He’s running fingers through his messy fringe, heaving a heavy sigh. “You told me, you said, that you didn’t feel the same way, that we were only friends.”

Oh.

Jimin feels his gut wrenching. He’s collapsing on himself from the inside. He’s hurt Taehyung. The mere idea of it has him choking back a sob of despair.

“That’s why I believe you, that you’re not from this world. My Jimin wouldn’t have held me like this,” Taehyung raises Jimin’s hands to his lips, kisses his baby fingers, “wouldn’t have kissed me, or fucked me.” He chuckles.

“My Jimin wouldn’t have loved me back.”

 

-

 

After an entire three days of silence, Taehyung decides that he’d much rather be fighting Jimin than awkwardly ignoring him for no reason. During long hours of downtime one day while the teams were waiting on their professor to fix up some mechanical problem with his tank, Taehyung pulls Jimin off to wander a small town nearby.

They slip into a diner and Taehyung orders them coffee with sweet short stack pancakes, speaking in lilting tones while Jimin watches.

He adds to the list of differences, or similarities? Taehyung is good at English. Or maybe, Taehyung has so much natural charm and ability to get whatever he wants. He smiles when the waitress scuttles away with fluttering lashes.

“So,” Taehyung says, “I did some research, on storms and tornadoes. Not the ordinary kind.”

Jimin raises his eyebrows, indicating for him to continue.

“And I’ve come across some literature, lore, if you will, that says that tornadoes are believed to be gateways.”

“Gateways?” Jimin frowns, resting his head in his palm propped up on the table, “gateways to where?”

“To other dimensions.”

Jimin sits up straighter, eyes wide, “dimensions, like, other worlds.”

“Yup, it’s said that, by travelling into the eye of the storm, one will be sucked up through the funnel into a portal, and exit the other side, into a parallel world. So you were right,” he slouches back into the loud red cushion seat, “you did travel through space and time to get here.”

“That sounds-”

“-fucking crazy, I know, you’ve been repeating that a lot. Ergo! The way to get you back is simple enough.”

Taehyung thanks the waitress for their pancakes, promptly cutting into them and shoving forkfuls into his mouth. Jimin reaches over wordlessly to wipe away a stray crumb on his chin.

“We just gotta find a tornado strong enough to generate the massive energy needed to rip apart the fabric of space and then you just, like, run into it. Voila.”

“You’re being sarcastic,” Jimin says, cutting his own pancakes into neat little squares.

“Fuck yeah I’m being sarcastic,” he grumbles, cheeks full of batter doused in butter and syrup, and points his fork accusatorily at Jimin, “but you’re actually serious. You have a death wish.”

There isn’t a single thing Jimin can say to that. He was serious when he’d promised Taehyung he’d come on the trip with him. He was serious when he’d confessed his vague motives to Taehyung that night. He was seriously considering asking Taehyung and Namjoon to help drive him into a violent storm.

He presses his lips into a tight line, pushing around his food.

“What if I just don’t leave,” Jimin suggests softly. Across from him, Taehyung stops chewing. Jimin is startled himself. Saying it out loud for the first time makes it real. He licks his lips nervously, “there’s no confirmation that I won’t just get ripped to pieces by a tornado, you said so yourself. It’s nuts.”

“The rational thing to do is to not do it. Right?” He says, desperation creeping into his voice. “I should just stay here. I’ve done it for so long, I’d be okay, right? Graduate from school, get a normal job.”

Give up the stage, his dreams, his hard work. All those hours of wondering whether he’d make it, the years of achieving success. His fans, his team. His Taehyung.

“Jiminah.”

Jimin looks up. Taehyung is smiling at him. The same precious smile always reserved for only Jimin, the same one from both worlds. Taehyung reaches between them to push aside their plates and interlock their fingers on both hands. It’s familiar.

The similarities and differences lists are merging together and Jimin is terrified.

“Do you remember that day when we went on holiday and shared a hotel room? And we had a bit of soju and then got all emo. We took pics of the city streets, and then stupid pics of our hands, just like this,” he wiggles their joined hands in the air, “and posted them onto your twitter? God it was so fucking gay, everyone asked whether we were together.”

Jimin remembers it different, but nods his head all the same.

“We even captioned it something gross, god, what did it say? Let’s go on for a long time-”

“-I only have you. You even signed off with your name.”

“Yeah! Even though it was your account,” Taehyung giggles, in the way that twisted his lips strangely, entirely endearing. He adds quietly, “you really are just like him.”

“I’m sorry,” Jimin blurts unexpectedly, surprising both himself and Taehyung.

Taehyung squeezes Jimin’s hands, tries a smile, “me too.”

“You should go home,” Taehyung announces resolutely.

“What?”

“I said you should run into a fucking tornado. Take the risk. Life is not worth living if there isn’t something you would risk it for.”

Jimin thinks about his words, for a long, long time, and Taehyung is patient. Taehyung is good to him. In this world, he has Taehyung.

“I could stay,” he whispers, looking at Taehyung from under his lashes, too afraid to do so otherwise, “if you asked me, I could stay.”

Taehyung doesn’t even look surprised. He smiles, chin tilted towards his chest, like he’d been waiting for Jimin to ask him.

“No, Jimin. There you go again. You need to be selfish sometimes, you need to be selfish now.”

He lets go of one hand, bringing it up to brush against Jimin’s cheek. Jimin feels his gaze, so intensely scanning across his face as if to memorize every detail.

“I love you, so, so much,” Taehyung says steadily, his voice unwavering, “I deserve a chance to know that you love me back, don’t I?”

Jimin turns slightly to press a kiss to Taehyung’s wrist.

“Go home, Jimin.”

It’s been 342 days, 17 hours and 45 minutes.

 

-

 

A massive weather system is approaching SouthWestern Kansas. Their professor told all the students that there will be guaranteed tornadoes for the whole week. It’s nearing the middle of the season, the last week of June. They’ve been chasing the past few weeks with minimal success and the entire team is getting antsy.

“We’re gonna head to Garden City,” Namjoon says, eyes scanning the road system displayed on his computer screen, “I think it looks like it has the most possible chance for tornadoes.”

“This storm is going nuts,” Taehyung comments, eyeing the foreboding cluster of clouds in the horizon, “I sure hope this works out today,” he turns around to grin at Jimin, “though you’re probably more excited to see some rainbows, aren’t you, Jiminie?”

“Shut the fuck up, Tae,” Jimin’s cheeks pink, he kicks the back of the driver’s seat in retaliation.

“Hey, hey,” Namjoon says, dropping his chupa chup into his paper coffee cup, “quit it, Jimin, this is my car!”

Jimin sticks his tongue out, Taehyung returns the gesture in the rearview mirror.

They’ve decided to throw caution into the wind. Find a big tornado and drive straight into its path. The rest of the plan would be impromptu. And they’d have to do it without Namjoon knowing.

Perfect. Jimin feels a little bit delirious from the absurdity of the idea of him running into a gigantic column of air, but it’s too late to change his mind.

Throughout the course of the day, they’ve chased a couple of storms, all of which showed potential to form tornadoes, only to rope out while mid extension. The light is dying in the sky when they happen upon a storm looming ominously, as if it had been gathering energy from the mini cells surrounding it just for this fated moment.

Jimin turns towards the sky, watching as the abnormally large wall cloud circulates. It’s generating something powerful. Jimin closes his eyes and feels it, a familiar sensation like he did back in the car on that Busan highway. This is the one.

“That’s a rapid rotation, fuck, this whole thing is spinning, Tae, this one is big,” Namjoon crows, cheek almost pressed up against the glass window in awe.

“Alright,” Taehyung turns to Jimin and as if he’s read his mind, repeats, “this is the one.”

He smashes the gas pedal, speeding towards the cloud as it tightens up, reaching for the ground like a massive claw.

“What the fuck, Tae!” Jimin hears Namjoon shouting, “you’re driving into its path! We’re storm chasers, not storm suicide pact!”

“Sorry,” Taehyung shouts, paying his friend no mind, “fuck, the road’s ended, we’re going into the dirt, hang on!”

Jimin’s grip on his seat tightens as Taehyung steers them onto muddy roads. The winds pelting against the body of the care are deafening. He’s just about to tell Taehyung to slow down when the car swerves, losing traction in the slippery wet dirt.

He hears Namjoon yelling at Taehyung to hit the brakes, but it’s virtually useless. He’s plastered to the car door until it finally stops moving, the inertia of stopping throwing him forward against his seat belt.

“Jimin!” That’s Taehyung, yelling from beside him. He opens his eyes to see Namjoon knocked out in the passenger seat, turns to see Taehyung outside his door, pulling his seatbelt free and tugging him by the arm, “Jimin, we have to go, now!”

Frantically, he looks past Taehyung and sees it. There it is. The monster of a tornado already on the ground. It’s heading in the direction diagonal to them. If Jimin moves now, he could make it into its path.

“Come on! Let’s go, we have to run!” Taehyung is shouting, fighting to be heard above the winds whipping past them.

We? He looks at Taehyung, searching. There is not a sliver of doubt in his eyes. Taehyung is planning on going with him.

“No! Tae, you are not coming with me, you have to take Namjoon hyung and get out of here.”

“Jimin-”

“No!” Jimin pushes at his chest, his arms. How could he do this? How could Taehyung do this to him-

“Jimin! Baby, look at me,” Taehyung cradles Jimin’s face in his hands, knocking their foreheads together, “I’m not going. You’re right, I’m responsible for Namjoon’s safety.”

Jimin clutches desperately around Taehyung’s wrists. His heart is beating incredibly fast, the panic rising like acid in his throat. The buzzing in the air around them amplifies as the storm draws to a crescendo. He feels the tears hot on his cheeks before he realises he’s crying.

“I’m scared,” he says, “I’m so fucking scared, Tae. What if, what if I wake up and next time, you’re not there?”

A world without you isn’t worth it. I don’t want it.

“I’ll be there, Jimin,” he forces Jimin’s jaw up so their eyes meet and oh, he’s crying too. “I’ll be there, always. When you wake up, this will all be just a really long, really bad dream, okay? I’ll find you, no matter what. I promise. We only have each other, right?” His voice wavers and breaks near the end, so does Jimin’s heart.

What a cruel man he is. How can it be a bad dream if Taehyung loved him? Jimin decides that this time, he has to be brave. He surges forward, kissing Taehyung like his confession all over again, like it’s the last time. It is, for them.

“Thank you,” Jimin says, tries to smile as brightly as he can, “go!”

He pushes Taehyung aside, taking off towards the direction of the tornado without looking back. He doesn’t dare, for fear that seeing Taehyung would change his mind. Jimin keeps his thoughts on the memories as he runs, chanting them like a spell.

The Bighit practice room, their dorm, recording studio, home.

Late night dance practices, ordering takeout, standing in a sold out stadium, home.

Early morning blue skies, the lingering moon, quietly watching his best friend sleep, home.

The sound of the wind is deafening, his vision obscured by clouds of dust and debris. He tries his best to look in the direction of Namjoon’s car, but it’s useless. He’s already being ripped sideways, feet leaving the ground, going up, up, up. He doesn’t manage to scream.

 

 

-

 


Jimin blinks open his eyes slowly at the sound of Closer playing. It’s Hoseok’s 5:45am alarm.

He sits up in bed, wincing in pain. Everywhere hurts, like he’s just been knocked around from all sides, and then forcefully thrown back down onto solid ground-

What the fuck.

Jimin whips his head towards Hoseok’s bed to find his hyung burrowed under blankets after hitting snooze on his alarm. Like always.

He turns to look down at his hands for a full minute before reaching to grab his phone and pulling it free from the charger.

The date reads 2nd of July.

He hears the faucet running in the toilet outside his room, sleepy footsteps padding past the hallway towards the living space. Jimin leaps out of bed, heart pounding, almost crashing into Jungkook as he passes him to reach Namjoon’s door and throwing it open.

Jimin doesn’t realise he’s been holding his breath until he exhales shakily at the sight of Taehyung still sound asleep. His mouth is opened unattractively, drool dried up on his face and nose twitching every now and then. Jimin feels like crying.

367 days, 5 hours and 51 minutes. He’s home.

 

“What are you looking at?”

Jimin hums, eyes still trained on his laptop screen, scrolling down the news.

“That’s in english,” Taehyung makes a face, looping one arm around Jimin’s shoulder, “since when do you read english news? What’s this about, anyways? A tornado?”

“Yeah.”

On the 1st of July, there were multiple tornadoes reported in and around the west of Kansas. A particularly large EF 3 tornado ripped through a farm outside a small town. No casualties. Apparently a few storm chasers managed to alert the authorities in time for the family to safely evacuate.

He explains as much to Taehyung, who seemed thoroughly amazed by the big words he was using.

“Were you always this smart? You sound like Joonie hyung,” Taehyung teases, pushing the side of their faces together when Jimin starts to pinch at his thigh in retaliation.

Eventually, their rough housing ended with Jimin collapsing on Taehyung, laying his upper body across Taehyung’s lap. They stay like that in silence, while the staff and crew hustle around them in preparation for an upcoming recording.

Taehyung has one hand combing through Jimin’s still unstyled hair, occasionally applying soothing pressure to his skull. His other is scrolling on his cellphone, attention sufficiently occupied. Jimin takes his chance to stare discreetly up at his best friend.

He studies Taehyung’s face, memorising his features like it’s the first time he’s seen him. The list resurfaces in Jimin’s thoughts. He’s reminded of Taehyung’s touch, his fervent kisses, can feel the phantom sensation of lips against lips.

Taehyung had made a promise to find him and he did. Jimin had made a promise to be brave, to be selfish sometimes.

He owed Taehyung that much. He deserves to know that Jimin loves him, loves him back.

He gathers up all the courage he can. Jimin has risked a lifetime, left behind a heart that beats for him, too much to back down now.

“Taehyung, I have something to tell you.”