“Hey,” The electronic bell fills the store and the sound of the refrigerators’ buzzing along with the orchestra of everyday noises gets replaced with footsteps on the chipped tiles, the constant shuffling of junk food bags and a hummed tone of a Big Bang song.
Jeongguk doesn’t lift up his head from the cool surface of the counter to spare a glance at the man rummaging through the aisles. He knows it’s Taehyung from the sound of the greeting and the unique humming of songs from Kpop to something of a whole different genre that he has no knowledge about.
He echoes the greeting with a groan as a complaint not because Taehyung’s there being attacked by falling cereal boxes in the breakfast section but because the heat could kill people and with the store’s AC down for repairs, he wishes he could just get inside the fridge along with a bunch of sodas and freeze to death.
It’s one of the things he hates about summer; the unbearable heat that a tub of ice cream can’t fix and the sweating it brings. God, he wants a bath and after that one, another bath because he just hates hates hates summer and curses summer to death but apparently, summer curses them too because a total of five old people died out of heatstroke this week.
Yes, he watches the news. Back off.
The thing is, it isn’t even summer break yet and he has more problems at the back of his head because of his Finance test but the weather bites already.
He doesn’t want to move. He feels that a single flinch of a muscle could make the place hotter but he doesn’t have a choice when Taehyung ungracefully drops all the junk food bags on his head .
“Ugh. Can’t you buy these from another convenience store, hyung?” He lifts his head up and a large bag of Ruffles falls to the floor. He sees Taehyung grinning, amused and of course, cheerful. Jeongguk questions how he can be so happy in such a heat wave. “Too tired to move.”
“No can do, Gukkie.” Taehyung ruffles his hair playfully. He’s looking at him now and he catches Line Town characters on the elder’s bright yellow shirt and Jeongguk doesn’t need to look down just to see Taehyung’s mismatched socks. “The customer has the right to choose on where he can buy Cheetos from.”
“The Cheetos next door tastes the same as the Cheetos here though.” Jeongguk replies, gathering a bag of Ruffles and some candy bars off the floor and he starts to scan them.
“Cheetos tastes better when you’re the one selling them.” Taehyung sings and pinches his cheeks hard as if to wake him up and Jeongguk lets him. He’s lucky that it’s Taehyung who’s buying snacks and not a stranger since never would he want to act all tired and annoyed with the heat with someone he doesn’t know.
Jeongguk just grimaces and continues to move his barcode gun over the snacks. A bottle of Coke, chips, lots of Cheetos and some Gold Flakes from the cereal section. Suddenly, he knows why the food on the counter seemed like a feast of unwanted calories and shortened lifespans; it’s movie night.
“You know, I could have been the one to bring snacks.” He says. It has been some sort of tradition that Jeongguk’s the one bringing snacks at movie night since he’s the one who works at 7-Eleven for extra money.
In fact, movie night’s a once a week tradition. It’s always on a Friday because of some God given miracle, none of them have morning classes slash work the next day. It’s the usual movie marathon scenario --- snacks, a bunch of movies that one of them handpicked and all seven of them seated and squeezed on Seokjin’s small couch.
“Is it wrong to buy snacks as an excuse to see you?” Taehyung replies and giggles. “Always knew you would be less lonely if I’m around. Fear not, Taehyung of Kim is here!” He continues, forming his fingers into a check under his chin with a wink then dabbing as if to copy a certain superhero.
Jeongguk almost caves in and smiles wide at this because he swears that anything Kim Taehyung does would make anyone do the same and fighting off whatever happiness spell he emits is like fighting off death. With a stick. A broken and weak stick. He takes it back. You fight death with a twig.
“Why would you think I’m lonely here?” Jeongguk asks, attempting to already fight death with his imaginary twig in his head because he’s at work and he swears his psycho of a boss must be watching him like a hawk behind the cameras.
“Because it’s hot and bunnies die when they’re lonely.” Taehyung pokes his nose. “You know you love me and I don’t want little bunny Jeonggukie to die.”
God, Tae don’t do this to me, I’m at work.
“And who says I wouldn’t die out of loneliness if you’re here?” He says back.
Taehyung clutches his heart in fake pain like he’s been hit by a bullet and dramatically yells, moving steps backward and letting a few more pants escape his mouth.
“You wound me, Jeon Jeongguk.” He says, stumbling forward and continuing the act as if he was a dying knight….well, if knights wore mismatched socks with Haikyuu characters blown up on them that is. But during his episode, Jeongguk still catches Taehyung’s hand wandering to the gum tray in front of the cash register and he’s quick enough to slap it away. “Ow!”
Taehyung retracts his hand from the trays and mouths a ‘Why?’
“No free candy.” Jeongguk says and Taehyung hisses. For someone who calls themselves tiger, he can act like a cute kitten at times.
Sometimes, Jeongguk thinks it’s unfair that someone could look cute while hissing and that someone happens to be Kim Taehyung. What the hell are you doing to me Kim Taehyung?
“It’s a pack of Juicy Fruit!” He replies and immediately widens his eyes and pouts his lips, the kind of face that Jeongguk knows as the ‘Make anyone guilty face’ because it really does make anyone guilty but not Jeongguk. Well, maybe a little but even he knows how to handle Taehyung with a little guilt. Yes, he does feel a guilty for choosing one pack of Juicy Fruit than the world’s brightest sunshine of a human.
“Still a no.” He says and suddenly, an idea pops into his head. “But you know, hot dogs are discounted. Want one?”
And for some weird reason, Taehyung says yes when he stares at the hot dogs rolling in the rotisserie so the younger starts getting his tongs, a stick and in a few minutes he’s dabbing some mayonnaise and ketchup until the hot dog’s ready to be eaten.
“I lied about the hot dog sale.” Jeongguk gives the hot dog to Taehyung and starts to to pack the snacks on the counter. “Once the mayonnaise lands, it’s the customer’s problem.”
“Ha! I knew that.” Taehyung scoffs then munches on the hot dog until it’s gone in a few seconds. “I’m raising the economy of your store, yeah you’re welcome, just for you to get a raise and if you get one, you’re treating me to those doughnuts near campus and it’s all because of your untruthful hot dogs. Plus, this is Jin-hyung’s money so…”
He lets out a laugh. Suddenly he’s not so annoyed about the heat anymore and the broken AC. Jeongguk doesn’t know how Taehyung does it but he has the power to lighten up any kind of atmosphere that even sweating too much won’t even make too big of a deal for Jeongguk. Taehyung’s the kind of summer that he wants; a warm and happy one, not a heatwave.
“Who’s picking the movies this time?” He gives the bag of snacks to Taehyung.
“So action movies?”
“No, Jimin saw him downloading movies with some scary movie posters.” Taehyung replies. “Hoseok-hyung’s going to cry from screaming tonight and maybe even Jiminie.”
That’s something new. He doesn’t really remember watching any horror movies under Yoongi’s choices. The man always handpicked action movies but Jeongguk thinks it’s good for a change once in a while.
“Say,” Taehyung starts and he hums. “It’s my turn to pick movies next week. I’ll let you choose on my behalf if you give me one of those surprise flavor ice Popsicles.”
Jeongguk doesn’t even have to think on this. He surely won’t be getting his pick on his week because of that seminar that fell on his schedule and unfortunately, his luck hasn’t even been that good. It’s ironic because he’s been known for having good luck but now he fails a test on Finance, loses on rock paper scissor bets and treats his hyungs to ice cream since last week. (He treated them to jajangmyeon yesterday and Seokjin looked like saw Heaven.)
“Guess the gods called. They’re taking Jeongguk’s talents and skills back.” Was Yoongi’s comment to Jeongguk’s decreasing luck. “Probably remembered that they shouldn’t make fucking people good at everything.”
He knows what Taehyung’s going to pick in his movie marathon list and he’s sure it’s going to be animated Ghibli movies. He always said he wanted to binge them but not everyone in their group likes animated movies so Taehyung chose different movies on his turn.
“Yeah sure.” He approves and cocks his head to the freezer.
Taehyung’s ecstatic of course, running to the freezer and taking a Popsicle like a happy kid, his smile big and he hums another song that’s full of cheer.
Now Jeongguk needs to gather some Ghibli movies from the internet. He thinks a change of genre would be good and he knows that somehow, their hyungs will come to like them. After all, Taehyung has pulled Seokjin into animated movies just recently too.
But the main purpose of it is just to make Taehyung happy.
Taehyung leaves with an energetic wave and Jeongguk puts money in the register for his hyung’s Popsicle.
o o o
where r u?
jeon jeongguk its movie night where the fck r u???
do u want to kill me? jin-hyung and namjoon-hyung are on the couch and if they make out i’ll vomit alone
do u want me to have my nausea episode alone?
well jimin and yoongi-hyung are here now
go find your chill hyung i’m already on my way
buy some cheetos otw jin-hyung ate the bags i bought TT___TT
he said he was sorry though but took it back
said he had the right to eat cheetos
and he’s the eldest
screw being the eldest he ate my cheetos >:--(((
eating cheetos w ur age as an excuse is abuse and a whole new level of disrespect
idk what you’re talking about bro
u enjoy being spoiled by us hyungs bc of your maknae express card
maknae express card?
u heard me.
can i buy a car with that?
i swear us middle borns get nothing
nothing except shame?
why r we dating? should we break up? i demand a divorce
but all of you wear it so well, baby~
WHY DID I FALL FOR U???
because you love this amazing maknae
go make use of ur maknae express card somewhere else ><
Just joking. ;--) love you baby
u get no love until u bring my cheetos
He does get love the moment he enters Seokjin’s house. He sees Taehyung’s eyes shoot open like a scene straight out of the fucking Exorcist and tackles him, his arms wrapping around his neck and Jeongguk almost stumbles (and screams from shock) by Taehyung’s sudden weight and added force. It’s the surprise embrace that Taehyung often does on celebrations or when he’s really happy or excited. It’s half affectionate and half prone to death because yes, he gets Taehyung’s love and the hug and that sunshine grin but at the same time he falls backwards and would land on who knows what.
But even so, he’d accept any kind of hug from Taehyung even he falls into a fiery pit.
“Were you trying to kill me!?” Taehyung says as he moves his hug to Jeongguk’s arm. “Look. I was sandwiched between those two pairs until I looked like a ghost. Hoseok-hyung’s still not out of work to save me.”
Jeongguk says an apology and hands him two bags of Cheetos --- in which Taehyung is generally pleased with --- and adds a box of Froot Loops that the elder’s eyes actually glow. They sit on the end of the couch when Yoongi and Jimin decides to sit on the carpeted floor with a blanket. Hoseok then arrives minutes later with a big bottle of soda and some paper cups to join them.
Taehyung lets his head lean on Jeongguk’s shoulder while his arms basically cradle a mountain of sweets and two bags of Cheetos and Jeongguk’s reminded of Taehyung’s love for everything sweet.
“You know, you’ll get diabetes if you keep that up.” Jeongguk comments, his hand wandering up to Taehyung’s soft hair and his fingers start playing with the brown threads.
“I’ll slap diabetes in the face with a frozen fish.” Taehyung says, shoving dried out-of-the-box pieces of Froot Loops in his mouth like a squirrel gathering nuts.
“You’ll get sick either way and your metaphorical fish slapping won’t help you.” Jeongguk replies and when Taehyung opens his mouth Yoongi shushes them and turns toward the opening scene of whatever horror movie he chose to play.
Apparently, the movie Yoongi decided on was The Grudge and just as expected, Jimin is covering his eyes with the blanket around him and Yoongi whenever the music stops or that stupid violin horror hyping music starts to play while Hoseok just literally screams at every jump scare.
“Why did you even pick this, Yoongi-hyung?” Hoseok asks and Yoongi just shrugs, his smug look and mood not even hidden.
Taehyung on the other hand, isn’t scared and the closest he gets to being scared is a flinch. Jeongguk’s surprised that the guy doesn’t even scream at whatever thing the movie throws at them.
“Why aren’t you scared?” Jeongguk whispers to him, grabbing some of Taehyung’s sweets and eating them himself just to avoid the scenario of the elder being bed ridden by some impromptu stomachache.
“Guk, that’s a woman who hasn’t even heard of a shower and that’s a boy who’s suffering from eyeliner abuse. Why would I be scared?” He asked glancing up at him. “Unless you want me to be scared and cuddle with you even more.”
“Maybe?” Jeongguk smiles at this. Does he want that? Who knows? But he does pull Taehyung closer to him; the elder rests his head on Jeongguk’s chest and he sends out a small laugh once he nuzzles his nose on his neck.
The lady on the screen --- that Taehyung said has never heard of a shower --- starts killing people and Hoseok screams at the scene but Jeongguk takes the chance to snake his arm on Taehyung’s waist to find his hand but for a while, he couldn’t make contact with it so he looks down on Taehyung’s snacks and finds it a few centimeters away from his.
He takes his hand and squeezes. Taehyung doesn’t say anything but he squeezes back.
o o o
Jeongguk is ready for summer break but he is not ready to jump into the fiery pits of Hell in which is the perfect way to describe the humid feeling that comes with summer. Summer could kill but Jeongguk guesses that laying on a bed with the air conditioner on full blast while doing nothing would be better than dying in school.
He’s still isn’t over that test he almost failed in Finance despite the break ahead of him and it’s driving him crazy to the point where Yoongi threatened to throw him outside the room and force him to sleep on a bench if he starts to talk about it one more time.
“I fucking swear Jeon Jeongguk if you talk about that Finance test one more time I’ll be exiling you from the apartment. I’ll even give you some newspapers for your blanket as a consolation prize. A good deal huh?” Yoongi shoves some fries on his face and with a mouthful, he adds: “Who cares if you split the rent with me?”
“Apparently, the law does care.” Seokjin answers and he brings a tray of burgers along with Namjoon from the counter.
Yoongi scoffs and then throws his head back to laugh. “Hyung, if you’ve heard him whine about it and memorized whatever he’s been saying about it at fucking 3AM, you won’t even care about something as little as the law.” He finger quotes at this and Seokjin shrugs as a reply.
School days are coming to an end and everything at university seems to be getting laxer by the second. His professors are getting inside the rooms in shorts and palm tree printed shirts, they don’t bother on using chalk for discussions and Jeongguk swears on his college tuition that four of his lecturers just let them watch movies like The Internship while they lay back on the table and wear their shades.Yes, they bring shades.
Jeongguk can’t blame them. The students are tired, the staffs are tired and he’s sure that even his strict as fuck professors are tired of not breathing in their tight collared business suits. In conclusion, everyone’s tired and everyone already wants to leave university for summer that no one really cares anymore.
And right now, they’re having lunch outside campus in a diner that Hoseok found and somehow, they’ve grown attached to the greasy burgers they serve though mostly everyone agrees that they aren’t anything special.
They’ve been having lunch together recently. Seokjin’s cake business seems to be a little slow, Namjoon and Yoongi are basically geniuses that can spare some time other than using all of it for song writing, Hoseok’s schedule is free at lunch and Jimin should have had class but his professor has been canceling his classes for the past week (again, nobody cares anymore) while he and Taehyung had some hours to spare before their next classes so there wasn’t a reason not to meet up.
“Enough with Jeongguk’s Finance grades, I’m sure he’ll end up with a good average like always.” Jimin says and he must have noticed the slight change in Jeongguk’s face because Jimin turns to him and then pats his shoulder. “It’s just one test, Guk.”
Next to Jimin, Taehyung smiles at him, his eyes seeming to agree with what Jimin said and that alone puts him at ease for the time being.
“Instead of tests, I heard Taehyung’s going to that Unity Seminar.” Namjoon chews on his burger and Hoseok’s there to clap his hands and let out a small ‘ooh’ in amazement.
“Oh yeah,” Jimin says. “Guk and I are going too.”
Seokjin extends his hand to shake theirs and suddenly he asks “So which department are you representing, Taehyung?”
This is also puzzling to Jeongguk --- about Taehyung’s departments. He understands why he took Theater, he always mentioned about wanting to be an actor but what Jeongguk doesn’t get is why he took Chemistry on a whim when it’s not even close to theater.
“Both actually.” Taehyung shrugs with a smug face. Jimin’s already clapping his hands with Hoseok. “Can’t help if I’m good at both Theater and Chem.”
“Then the subjects must be easy this year.” Namjoon comments and everyone starts to burst in laughter.
“You guys are mean!” Taehyung complains but doesn’t really mean it when he laughs after.
“Okay, what have I been missing? Y’all need to spill.” Yoongi asks, leaning closer to the six of them. “We’re all excited about Taehyung actually being part of this but I can’t be amazed by it if I don’t know what this fucking Unity Seminar is.”
Hoseok’s the one who explains it to him and it’s the usual information he uses to fill in Yoongi. The wording’s the same, the requirements and everything. Jeongguk wonders if Hoseok intentionally memorized each word that the teachers used for it.
However, no matter how much his senior praises whatever the Unity Seminar does, Jeongguk doesn’t really think it could do much difference. As he heard, it’s just a normal seminar for the personnel to conduct before recruitment. Basically, they choose good students from freshmen to juniors to advertise the university in high schools.
It’s some kind of strategy to have students tell other students how wonderful and great their university is even if it’s not that great. The Unity Seminar basically teaches them to exaggerate while teachers sugarcoat it as: guiding the youths to make the right choices and continuing legacy and that shit.
“Sounds like shit.” Yoongi seems to agree but Jeongguk doesn’t voice this out of course. He doesn’t want Hoseok’s face to fall even more. “They’re teaching kids to exaggerate for half a day.” Exactly.
Jeongguk’s only going for the credit it can give and of course, it would look good at a resume since after all, only chosen students get to go.
The rest of lunch goes with Jimin partly complaining that he doesn’t want to be in the Unity Seminar since it’s going to be his third year being in one while Taehyung seemed to be a little excited for it.
He starts to finish his fries and when he glances at Taehyung, the elder grins and sends him a wink.
He already knows what he means so he winks back.
o o o
A girl in his class named Minyoung sent a group text to all that classes under Mr. Choi are canceled until next week and he’s happy about it (he doesn’t need to be reminded by his Finance teacher that he needs to catch that failed test back) but he goes back to school anyway after lunch remembering that small message in a form of a wink that Taehyung sent.
Like hugs, Taehyung has a variety of winks. There’s one where he gazes at him and licks his lips seductively that sometimes makes Jeongguk’s knees feel weak, one where he’s too excited and his smile’s reaching his eyes playfully and lastly, the random one that comes out of nowhere whenever Jeongguk just coincidentally glances at him.
The wink Taehyung gave probably meant the empty sticky note on the metal surface of his locker. He finds a smile creeping up onto his face and he shakes his head at the random spark of happiness that an empty sticky note just brought him.
Except the sticky note isn’t really empty.
Jeongguk digs for his phone and turns on its flashlight, letting the beam of light scan over the yellow piece of paper, revealing shiny glowing letters written messily in Taehyung’s distinct handwriting.
“Meet me in the campus rooftop at 10PM, we’re going stargazing.” Jeongguk whispers to the paper covered in invisible ink and translates the code.
“Another secret date.” Jeongguk almost lets out an un-Jeongguk screech when an arm just snakes over his shoulders. Jimin’s voice is laced up in curiosity and his eyes are already peering up to the sticky note. “I’m jealous. You’re taking my best friend.”
Jeongguk turns off his phone’s flashlight and keeps Taehyung’s sticky note.
“Please, you have secret dates with Yoongi-hyung all the time.” Jeongguk rolls his eyes while Jimin’s ears burn red.
The elder’s in his sweats and his hair’s still wet from a suspected shower so Jeongguk guesses that Jimin just finished dancing in the studio with Hoseok.
“But unlike you two cheesy ones, you actually have a secret code and you still use those invisible ink markers for ten year old failed spies.” Jimin points out.
Yes, they do have a lot of secret codes --- a whole notebook filled with funny nicknames and metaphors hiding in Taehyung’s bed.
“And Yoongi-hyung writes you songs. You can be cheesy too.” He says back, remembering two pages of lyrics dedicated to how Park Jimin laughs and laughs alone even though his hyung denies it all the time.
The red in Jimin’s ears starts to spread on his cheeks. “God, Guk, enough with me and Yoongi-hyung.” He covers his face in embarrassment and Jeongguk takes his time laughing until Jimin recovers from it. “But still though, the invisible ink gig. At first glance people would think it was Tae’s idea and not yours.”
This time, it’s Jeongguk turning red and he knows this because he feels the heat in his face and Jimin’s smirk is getting wider that it almost looks evil.
The invisible ink passing is indeed playful and fun, people would think that Taehyung started it but the whole reason as to why Taehyung uses it to date is because Jeongguk answered Taehyung’s whirlwind of a confession through math notes filled with invisible ink.
“What I remember when you say that is partly Tae and I starting out and the other half’s of you threatening to strangle me with your little hands and scaring me with the curse word ammo Yoongi-hyung infected you with.” Jeongguk says, his hand going up to his head to give it a nervous scratch. “Makes high school unforgettable.”
Jeongguk remembers high school pretty clearly. The teenage mood swings and immature people acting to be mature and the evil atmosphere that chokes everyone up but mostly, Jeongguk remembers a hurricane of stupid feelings and random emotional breakdowns. God, it was a mess back then especially when Taehyung approached him all flustered and everything and said: “Jeongguk. I really like, no, I really like-like you.”
And Jeongguk’s brain sent alarm bells in every fiber of his being because “like” had a huge difference with “like-like”, any word repeated twice makes a difference like how Jimin’s name ultimately becomes ten times cuter when people call him ChimChim.
“Like” meant platonic-bro-friendly admiration. “Like-Like” on the other hand meant ultra extreme I-don’t-know-why-I’m-feeling-this-but-I-really-love-you in big bold capital letters probably in red ink that often leads up to holding hands and kissing and hugging and sex and commitment in the future.
That’s probably why Jeongguk just froze when Taehyung said he like-liked him, because the younger like-liked him too but the like-like words were stuck in his throat and everywhere in his body was so sweaty because of that fucking like-like and he was so nervous and his feelings were getting constipated with his heart wanting to just give in; basically Jeongguk felt like he was dying.
Taehyung of course, misinterpreted his silent breakdown so he took it back immediately and said: “No, it’s okay if you don’t like-like me back. I’m sure if we keep some distance it’ll disappear. No need to be pressured, Jeonggukie.” before Jeongguk could even say anything back.
He remembered just standing there that day, wondering if there was anything more painful than seeing Taehyung forcing his smile and holding his tears.
Taehyung avoided him like the damn plague, like being near Jeongguk and the air he breathes would result to instant death. The weeks were just hell with Taehyung running away, avoiding his eyes and not breathing when they’re near each other that he just wanted to lift Taehyung up and trap him on a wall just for them to talk again.
But Jeongguk didn’t do it because he may or may not scare him to death and make him cry and he wasn’t sure if he could live with that.
The Jeongguk plague apparently took a turn for the worst when Taehyung didn’t go to school for three days and Jimin started pining him against the lockers with his small hands and threatening him with a variety of curse words and Busan satoori that made everything worse.
Jeongguk swears, he literally swears on his entire life that a five-foot Jimin with threatening words and slamming locker techniques was the scariest thing he had ever seen.
“Fuck, Jeon Jeongguk are you playing with Tae’s feelings? Is that how you fucking do things?” Jimin said to him. Jeongguk was ready to die. “Look, I’ve been holding back for Taehyung but if you fucking see him crying to Howl’s Moving Castle while saying your shitty name, it makes you wanna fucking die, okay? There’s no Jeon Jeongguk in Howl’s Moving fucking Castle! If you like him, then say so and if you don’t why don’t you just tell the fucking truth? Be a man and say so because that’s better than giving him nothing!”
Jimin took a pause back then, shaking his head in frustration and really trying hard to stop himself from inflicting physical damage to Jeongguk’s body.
“The only things holding me from strangling you are Tae’s feelings and the law.” He hissed between his teeth and forcefully slams Jeongguk back on the lockers before leaving him with a bigger hole in his heart after being filled on the fact that Taehyung cried because of him. He would’ve felt better if Jimin spared him a punch.
That was the time when he faced his emotional constipation. Taehyung still wouldn’t talk to him (or breathe near him) so he took the initiative to just ask Jimin for Taehyung’s Math notes --- in which Jimin also almost tried to strangle him when he asked --- bought some invisible ink markers and had the elder read it under his desk lamp while studying for his test.
Each page was filled with things that Jeongguk liked about Taehyung ---- his smile, the way he looks at him, the way he’s so down to earth and easy to get along and a hundred more things ---- but Jeongguk made sure to write on the very last page on his notes:
Hyung, I like-like you too.
The next morning, Taehyung ran up to him the moment he stepped on school grounds for a big embrace saying his name as if he was a long lost loved one returning from war.
“I love you, Gukkie.” Taehyung whispered on his ear.
Jeongguk tightened his hug on him, burying face on Taehyung’s shoulder and just thinking of how he missed Taehyung so damn much.
“I love you too, baby.”
Taehyung stopped laughing at that time and pulled back to look at his face. The elder’s eyes were wide, his mouth agape and mouthing invisible words that Jeongguk couldn’t understand.
“I love you, Gukkie.” He repeated softly, there’s passion in his eyes mixed with a warm feeling that made them look so bright.
“I love you too, baby.” Jeongguk smiled and pulled him into a kiss.
At some time, Jeongguk’s sure that high school would become a blur for him but he’s also sure that he would never forget the feeling of Taehyung’s lips that time.
o o o
The rooftop they always meet up in is the arts building and even if Jeongguk has been in it more times than he should, everything inside as he climbs up the stairs give off a scarier vibe with fine arts projects staring at him intently in the dark; he feels the marble statues moving and the eyes of the row of portraits keep following him but he keeps climbing the spiral stairs until they can’t be seen anymore.
He looks at the time before opening the door to the rooftop; 15 minutes before the clock strikes ten. He might have to wait for Taehyung for a while but when he opens the door, he already sees Taehyung with his back against the wired fence covered in a midnight blue blanket littered with stars, a phone in front of his face; taking a selca.
“Hey,” He walks toward Taehyung and the elder shifts and extends his blanket, inviting Jeongguk.
“Hey, bunny.” Taehyung keeps his phone while Jeongguk shuffles next to him and covers himself in the elder’s midnight blue blanket.
“You’re early.” Jeongguk comments. Taehyung chuckles and Jeongguk feels his heart skip a beat. It’s like the elder actually intended to be early and waited for him and now he’s just looking up into the stars, his hand making its way to Jeongguk’s under the blanket, slowly their fingers start to intertwine. He looks at him and then for a second, it seemed like everything stopped.
He just freezes at the sight. He’s stuck in the moment of just seeing Taehyung basked under the pale moonlight looking so happy and so … Taehyung.
They are under the stars, looking for whatever beautiful thing they’ve always pictured of what space could be. They are gazing at the wide and vast bluish-blackness above them littered with glowing lights that could convince anyone that the world is a definition of beauty but he could hardly believe that because Taehyung ---- the man he fell for, the man he loves --- wouldn’t even compare to the sky’s beauty or a star’s magnificence because Jeongguk always believes that Taehyung is more than that ---- more beautiful, more wonderful.
Jeongguk unconsciously has his phone out, he’s staring at the elder on his camera screen and just captures the moment of everything; the bluish-blackness, the pale moonlight and Taehyung himself. For a few seconds he just stares at it and wonders of how many people would look at Taehyung and think of how beautiful he is. Jeongguk always takes pictures of him so he knows a faint idea of how many people would be awestruck by just a photo but as he stares at the photo on his phone, he erases the thought of social media all in all because this is a part of Taehyung that he wants to keep for himself; a part of Taehyung that he wants no one to see but him.
It is some sort of reminder for Jeongguk --- that Taehyung is his and he is Taehyung’s.
“Hey,” Taehyung calls and there’s a smirk on his face once he sees Jeongguk’s phone in front of him but he doesn’t question it. Instead, he presents the younger with a Rubik’s Cube from under the blanket covered in bright contrasting stickers with its colors splashed all over the place. “It’s yours now.”
“Tae,” He hesitantly reaches for it but before his fingers could even brush the 3D puzzle, Taehyung grabs his arm and makes him accept it. Jeongguk laughs at the action but mostly because he didn’t know what else to say. “You had this since high school.” Taehyung just hums in response.
He has seen it in Taehyung and Jimin’s room back in high school. It was always on display on Taehyung’s table and Jeongguk recognizes it because he could spot a small ‘T’ on a yellow sticker.
“Is it my birthday?” Jeongguk asks and he doesn’t know how wide his smile is right now.
“Nope, I just felt like giving it to you.” Taehyung replies.
“I’m not good at solving these though.” He comments, staring at the puzzle and noticing some ripped edged stickers and some faded colors. It really was the thing the elder had back then.
Taehyung whistles at the fact. “Wow. Golden maknae ain’t so golden anymore. Congrats on being silver.”
He playfully hits at the elder’s head with a scoff and Taehyung rubs on the spot.
“I have no complaints on being silver or golden or bronze, hyung.” He says.
Taehyung pauses for a while and then turns at him and studies his face. His fingers make his way onto Jeongguk’s black hair and ruffles it messily before his hands slide down to his nape and uses a little force to pull him in for their foreheads to bump.
“Jeonggukie,” Taehyung whispers and then there’s a slight tug on his lips. “Even if you aren’t golden or silver or bronze or any metallic shade in the table of elements, I’d still fall for you, bunny.”
And Jeongguk doesn’t know what to say, what to react and overall what to do besides look at him and for a while he just feels it, an unusual sense of calmness --- relief, all because he just didn’t expect how much release would happen when he hears those words.
“You’re thinking too much about it. Your Finance test, your grades, how you can’t solve a damn Rubik’s cube.” Taehyung lets go of Jeongguk’s nape and pushes his head away from him to lean on his shoulder then lets out an exasperated sigh. “Your psycho boss at 7-Eleven and how people see you, God, Gukkie it’s your freshman year. Live a little.”
He sometimes forgets that Taehyung is two years older than him. He forgets that Taehyung has eaten more bowls of rice than him and has breathed more air than him in a span of two years. He’s the type to just play around and act skits randomly together with him as well as spend hours in a room ranting and playing Overwatch. Yes, that’s Taehyung but the guy notices that there’s something bugging Jeongguk and at times when he reminds him on how to live life with no worries, he could only admire the hyung side of Taehyung too.
“But even so, Yoongi-hyung was kinda right. The gods called, they want their talents back.” Taehyung continues.
He takes it back. Hyung who?
Taehyung must have how his eyes shoot up at the comment since he immediately stands and raises his hands in defense. “Hey, Jeongguk, Guk --- Gukkie, baby I was just kidding, you don’t need to, bunny---”
While the elder stutters, Jeongguk stands and pushes all force in his legs chasing Taehyung in the small rooftop space.
“Come back here, Kim Taehyung!” He shouts.
“Yeah, if I have a death wish!” He shouts back and Jeongguk just picks up the pace. “Okay, I’m sorry! I’m sorry oh my God!”
Jeongguk has been doing track in high school so it’s easy to catch up to Taehyung and when he does, he grabs his waist and starts tickling.
“I’m --- Sorry!” He says in laugh language. “Stop t-tickling me!”
But the younger continues anyway until the entire rooftop is filled with his and Taehyung’s laughter and until the breath leaves the elder’s lungs. They both collapse on the ground, breathless and sweaty; it’s the only time that Jeongguk doesn’t hate the heat rising to his head.
They take the time to catch their breath, smiles on their faces and their head towards the stars. He finds Taehyung’s hand and holds it but flinches at the cold feeling of the elder’s skin spitting back at him. His brows furrow and he turns toward Taehyung’s breathless face and asks: “Hey, you okay? Your hand’s really cold.”
“Huh?” Taehyung’s voice is laced in confusion and the younger takes his hand once again. The coldness is gone, replaced with the usual warmth he remembers.
“No, it was really cold earlier.” He says.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Guk.” Taehyung says in between pants and then sighs. “But look at the stars. Damn, you don’t see that everyday anymore, do you?”
So Jeongguk turns his head back to the sky again and it is true, it’s rare to see such a starry sky these days.
“But you know what’s more beautiful?” A mischievous tone enters his ears, bringing a smirk to the younger’s face.
They turn to each other and start laughing when they answer in unison like telepaths.
Laughs fill the sky again but Jeongguk acknowledges what they’ve said. After all, their Jin-hyung is world wide handsome.
They stay in that position for a while and when the clock strikes twelve, instead of going home, Taehyung insists on taking a walk around the neighboring alleys, marveling at the beauty of late night sights and bright lighted side bars here and there.
Taehyung hops on his back so Jeongguk’s hands are wrapped around his legs so he could carry him.
“Smile for the camera, Jeonggukie!” A phone is in front of his face and it reflects both his and Taehyung’s faces with a side of rising emoticons and comments appearing then fading out. “It’s live.”
Jeongguk waves at it and so does Taehyung.
“We’re out here late at night in a wandering spree! It’s after our secret date and we may or may not get soju --- “
“Hyung, we are not getting soju.” He cuts Taehyung off. “You can’t handle alcohol and I’m not dragging your ass to Jimin-hyung’s.”
“I’m just kidding, Gukkie.” Taehyung pouts and lands his chin gently on Jeongguk’s shoulder.
agust-d: no, you’re getting fucking arrested.
EATJIN: NO SOJU. GO BACK HOME. IT’S LATE.
agust-d: should i report them?
rapmon: why are you out this late?
The comments start to fill up and Taehyung is definitely amused by them.
“If we get arrested, we’ll run away and if we do get caught because of some mistake I make and Jeongguk refuses to leave me then Jin-hyung will bail us out even if he doesn’t want to.” Taehyung says to the camera and the comments blow up again.
agust-d: THE NERVE OF THIS FUCKING KID.
j-hooooooope: TAEGUK RISE!!!!! <33333
rapmon: don’t support them hoseok
EATJIN: I AM OFFENDED. >:/
mochichim: taehyungie get back here i’m getting tired of keeping my eyes open :---////
“I’ll be back by two or something, Chim.” Taehyung hands out finger hearts.
agust-d: i’m not waiting for you btw jeon i’m locking the door
mochichim: don’t believe him guk. you’ll get back at five and you’ll still find him waiting
agust-d: aren’t you supposed to be on my side?
mochichim: bros before boyfriend baby~
j-hooooooope: I LOVE FRIENDSHIP. I WISH I HAD FRIENDS
EATJIN: what are we then? Potatoes?
Jeongguk laughs at the comments and then looks back at Taehyung. “I don’t know if they’re worried or just really wanting us to get arrested.”
Taehyung looks back at the camera and smiles. “They’re worried. I know it. I think.”
He reads the comments once more. A bunch of new ones were there (mostly from Yoongi and Jimin fretting or not-so fretting about them getting back). There’s a light bulb in his head and as the user names and words rise, his head turns to Taehyung and then the screen.
He presses his lips on Taehyung’s cheek on camera and the elder freezes.
“Even if I don’t get home, I’m sure both of us we’ll live for a night.” He says to the camera. “I have hyung after all.”
The comments explode.
mochichim: THIS IS ILLEGAL
rapmon: KEEP IT UNDER 18 GUYS
j-hooooooope: Ugh. Why am I still single? Why are u making me question my relationships?
EATJIN: we know you’re in love, no need to remind us.
agust-d: I’M LOCKING THE DOOR JEON.
agust-d: ….just get yourself and tae back by 2 okay, kid?
mochichim: see? You’re a softie :3
“We’ll get back home, hyung.” Taehyung finally speaks and waves at the camera again before he finishes the live. The elder gets off of Jeongguk’s back and keeps his phone. “Never knew you like surprise attacks, bunny.”
“Why? You don’t like surprise attacks?” He lifts up a brow and forms a mischievous smirk on his face in which Taehyung only copies.
“Surprise me even more, Jeon Jeongguk.” He replies. “But for now, let’s go home, yeah?”
He skips a few steps in front of him and when Jeongguk was about to follow and catch up, he feels his phone vibrating in his pocket. He sees an Instagram post Jimin tagged him instead of a threat text from Yoongi telling him to come back.
Jimin has his arm cover his eyes on the photo and his lips making a slight pout. He’s covered in blankets and the picture’s almost white because of them.
Sleepy. Waiting for @kim-tae to return from his secret date with @GoldenJeon
He clicks on the heart icon, swiftly liking it and decides not to comment. When he keeps his phone, he expected Taehyung to be already ahead of him by some distance, screaming his name and asking what’s keeping him and that he’s going to run and leave him in attempts to chase him but instead, he’s greeted by an empty alleyway with the darkness decorating each nook and cranny into an ominous feeling of inky blackness.
He looks around, to the bar at the left, to the houses at the right. He stares at the road in front and turns around, as if expecting Taehyung to just pop out behind him.
“Tae?” He calls as he spins, each detail from the lights the bar uses to the pale color of the residence roofs but still no sign of the elder. There’s panic in his chest now, his stomach’s doing somersaults and his throat’s starting to itch. “Hyung? Taehyung!”
He walks to where Taehyung was skipping off earlier and as his steps on the asphalt echo, he feels himself moving faster, his legs taking him farther into the alley. There are different scenarios rolling into his head, all grungy and blurry like old tapes but they aren’t pretty; Jeongguk’s heart is in his ears by just thinking about them.
Taehyung getting hurt. Taehyung getting kidnapped. Taehyung getting arrested. Taehyung getting mugged ----
“Taehyung!” He screams, he’s not even caring if someone reports him or if someone thinks he’s drunk. “Taehyung!” He repeats.
He’s spinning again. The younger is back on the spot he started from and now he’s sure that his blood is made out of panic and its filling his lungs so well that he can’t breathe but he gathers up whatever breath he has left to let out another call. Before he screams, he stops himself when a pair of hands land roughly on his shoulders as if snapping him awake.
There’s a sting spreading on his body with the hands on his shoulders and when he turns to look up front, the alley imagery is replaced by Taehyung, looking at him with a wide fearful gaze mixed with an expression of worry.
“What the hell were you doing?” Taehyung asks, his hands still on Jeongguk’s shoulders.
His head is aching. How could Taehyung get right in front of him without him noticing?
“What was I doing?” Jeongguk echoes back, offended. “I was looking for you, Taehyung. You just disappeared, God, I was worried! Why were you fucking hiding?”
“What? Guk, I was calling you over and over when you started running like a madman.” Taehyung looks at him with his brows furrowed, worry replaced with confusion in his eyes. “You got that Insta post from Jimin at the same time I did so I went back a few steps in front of you and then you just---”
“You were gone then, hyung!” Jeongguk didn’t mean to cut him off and he certainly didn’t mean to raise his voice at Taehyung like that so when he sees his hyung’s lips trembling and his eyes slightly widening with shock, he sobers up from the panic in his veins and starts to collect himself. “Shit. Tae, I didn’t mean to yell.”
“It’s okay, Guk.” Taehyung replies. “You were really panicked. I was just worried too.”
He suddenly feels bad about it and then he just thinks. He must have been tired or bothered with his grades that he just ended up thinking Taehyung wasn’t there. He also thought about his hyung playing a prank on him but the expression on his face looks too genuine to be one so Jeongguk leans on being tired.
“Sorry.” Jeongguk whispers, bringing his hand on Taehyung’s cheek while the elder leans on the touch. “Forgive me?”
In a heartbeat, he feels the atmosphere lifting up and Taehyung’s grin is back on his face along with soft chuckle.
“I’ll forgive you if you race me back to the dorms.”
There’s already a smug smirk forming on Jeongguk’s lips that’s filled with advanced victory.
o o o
Jeongguk finds himself dreaming that night and he knows he’s dreaming because he sees another Jeongguk being more handsome than he’ll ever be in fifty years in front of him and in a damn suit for goodness’ sake looking all dashing and sleek.
Jeongguk tries to call him of course, he would want to know the secrets on how to get his face to look like that but the other him --- which he’ll be referring to as JamesBond! Jeongguk or JBJ --- didn’t reply nor acknowledge his existence.
He follows JBJ anyway and holy shit, the man has a Mustang and like seven other cars lined up in the parking lot. Jeongguk wonders if he’s seeing the future because if he is then damn.
He marvels at JBJ’s life; all luxurious and shiny with gold and silver. He feels his stomach growling when he sees JBJ eat food he hasn’t even seen before.
When night falls, JBJ is in a restaurant with Min Yoongi; his hair dyed in a flashy color of pink and Jeongguk wonders if this is the future Yoongi too because Yoongi has the blackest hair he had ever seen and now all of a sudden with a bottle of pink dye, his hair looks edible and non black hole-ish.
They talk for a while, mostly JBJ just asking Pink Yoongi how he’s doing in the music industry in which the pale man answers with confidence.
If this is the future, then great. Sign Jeongguk the fuck up. But in a split second, he takes it back when he sees Kim Taehyung as this fancy waiter in a tailcoat, asking for JBJ’s order and JBJ doesn’t know him.
Jeongguk wanted to just scream at his ear. That’s supposed to be his boyfriend, the one he fell for, the one he loves.
“C-Can I get your name, please?” JBJ asks after the order and Jeongguk sees Pink Yoongi smirking with all the mischievous amusement.
Fancy Taehyung smiles at him, flattered obviously. “It’s Kim Taehyung, sir.”
Jeongguk delays his useless scream because after Taehyung mentions his name, he sees JBJ look at the elder with longing in his eyes like he’s falling into the existence of this tailcoat waiter named Kim Taehyung.
Jeongguk smiles at this. He’s happy to see himself --- even in the form of JBJ ---- fall for Taehyung all over again.
o o o
He repeats what Yoongi said about the Unity Seminar: Sounds like shit.
The girl --- Minyoung --- beside him looks really focused and he doesn’t know why, He spots Jimin on the other side of the room looking tired and he knows his eyes will probably close after ten seconds while Taehyung sitting a few rows in front of him with some of his friends from Chemistry looks bored and blank. He’s tired too, to be honest. It’s such a mystery on how sitting on a chair and listening to teachers talk about nonsense could drain his energy more than a 400 meter sprint.
Jeongguk’s phone buzzes in his pocket and Minyoung shoves him, telling him to listen but he shrugs it off.
How’s your first unity seminar?
“Sounds like shit.”
--- Min Yoongi on Unity Seminar
I know :/
Why do they even need to do this???
Because us exaggerating and telling high school seniors on how awesome our life has become ever since entering this uni is a good strategy for the school to trick young people on going to this uni.
Ugh. I’ve been attending these for 3 years can you believe
How are you still alive?
Short people have long lifespans?
WTF I AM YOUR HYUNG??? YOONGI-HYUNG AND I ARE ALMOST THE SAME HEIGHT??? HOW DARE YOU???
Hyung who? Lolololol. I’m joking jimin-hyung
whaaaaat isn't yoongi-hyung taller???
Go listen to the lecture and suffer, maknae >,<
Jeongguk looks up from his phone and keeps it. Jimin smiles at him and slightly shakes his head, he guesses it’s because the whole idea of the seminar is ridiculous and Jeongguk thinks so too.
Instead of listening, he distracts himself by looking at Taehyung. Seriously, he’s in the perfect seat to see him. The elder doesn’t seem to be listening, he has that blank gaze in his eyes and he’s chewing on the tip of his pen like he doesn’t even realize it. Cute…He thinks.
Minyoung shoves him again and when Jeongguk turns to her, she’s mouthing something that he can’t understand but he catches the “listen” so he nods at her but doesn’t heed her request (why does she think tricking high school seniors is important?) and goes back to looking at Taehyung.
Only that Taehyung isn’t there anymore.
His blood runs cold and he stops himself the second his feet try to stand up in shock. He was there just a second ago, chewing his pen, looking at space, being Taehyung and now there’s just an empty seat staring back at him. He couldn’t have left. If he left then the class would have been disrupted somehow with the lecturer yelling “Kim Taehyung!” for it to echo to the bloody walls and he knows that Taehyung may be whimsical but he isn’t the type to play hooky.
He’s reminded of that alley again, the one burned onto his mind; the shape of the road, the color of the lights and that dark feeling he got when Taehyung just vanished and appeared out of nowhere.
Jeongguk’s eyes doesn’t leave the seat and he realizes that he’s already counting in his head and holding his breath.
There’s tapping entering his ears from different directions, pens on tables, feet on the floor but Taehyung’s still isn’t there.
Minyoung’s annoyed with him, calling his full name.
His heart’s hammering. He hears a slight whisper in Jimin’s voice but he doesn’t make out the words.
The professor’s words are blocked and he’s burning his gaze on Taehyung’s chair and the Taehyung-shaped space above it..
“Jeon Jeongguk!” His head finally snaps to the front. Mr. Choi looks pissed and his lip is pursed to a thin line, he’s shaking his head as if he has seen the biggest disappointment in his life.
“S-Sir?” Jeongguk stutters and buffers for a moment before he realizes that he needs to stand up.
There’s a heavy pause and then Jeongguk suddenly feels the anxiety in his stomach the moment he sees everyone’s eyes on him. He turns to Jimin and he’s just as confused as him.
“Were you listening, Jeon Jeongguk?” Mr. Choi folds his arms. Well shit.
Taehyung. He thinks and remembers so he turns to Taehyung’s seat once again, expecting to see nothing but the elder’s back on the flesh, brown hair with matching brown eyes with his eyebrows knitted.
“Are you okay?” Taehyung mouths at him but Jeongguk doesn’t know how to answer.
How the hell…?
“I’m sorry, Sir. I wasn’t. I’ll pay attention this time.” He apologizes with a bow and Mr. Choi just rolls his eyes before gesturing him to sit back down.
Jeongguk’s eyes doesn’t leave Taehyung. He’s still there but for a moment, Jeongguk swears, for those five seconds, Taehyung wasn’t there. Taehyung was gone. Taehyung vanished into thin air. Taehyung. Just. Disappeared.
Oh my God, I’m going crazy.
He takes a deep breath and buries his face on his palms before glancing at Taehyung one more time. He’s still there. Good.
He’s not crazy. He knows he isn’t but he’s not denying that he saw Taehyung disappear at a snap of a finger.
The seminar continues and he keeps eyeing the elder from time to time much to Minyoung’s annoyance but it ends without Taehyung disappearing from his seat and before he knows it, everyone’s exiting the room and gathering up with their friends while he’s still frozen on his seat.
“What was that, Jeongguk?” Jimin’s in front of his desk, he’s confused as hell and Jeongguk doesn’t blame him. He is too. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost, are you okay?”
Taehyung. His mind calls.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He says hastily before collecting his things and sprinting outside the door, throwing whatever words Jimin shouted before he exits the room.
Taehyung’s already at the end of the hall with his a friend from Chemistry, Sungjae in particular, but that doesn’t stop him from grabbing Taehyung’s wrist.
“Hey,” He pants and the elder stares at him, wondering why he looks so sweaty and tired.
“Hey, Gukkie.” He replies, Sungjae beside him already gesturing to leave and Taehyung allows him.
A pause. How does Jeongguk even say this? Hey, you disappeared for a while and I was panicking to death, care to tell me how you did that because I would love to do that when I’m in Finance class?
“So, lunch?” Jeongguk says instead, hoping that Taehyung will bite on the trap but his hyung only looks at him before chuckling.
“Jeonggukie, you know I have Chem.” He answers. Jeongguk mentally curses, how in the world did he forget? “But we’ll meet up at the diner with the others after so why not then?”
No. There it is again, that feeling of panic and as he sees Taehyung turning back, he just can’t stop his heart from beating in his ears because there’s this weird feeling eating him up, telling him that something’s wrong.
“Taehyung.” Jeongguk stops him, his hand tight on his wrist and his head roaring, aching and spinning all at the same time with his thoughts jumbling up but the elder’s lips curl --- that toothy boxy grin he has seen through the years. “You disappeared. You literally disappeared. You were gone for seconds and then you just --- materialized!”
His face falls blank. Taehyung’s expression is a clean slate and then he paints it with a laugh and Jeongguk can’t tell if it’s forced or not.
“What do you mean? Too much coffee again, bunny?” His voice is the same, the way he talks is normal but there is something wrong. He can’t point it out but there just is.
“Tell me the truth, Tae.” He says. “You vanished into thin air and when I stood up to answer Mr. Choi you were back. What-- What did you do? What happened?”
“I disappeared like magic?” Taehyung’s really laughing now, the kind of laugh he does when someone tells him an incredibly funny joke.
Jeongguk would have laughed with him and would gaze at him while he does but this time, he doesn’t. He can’t.
“Magic or whatever you did, you disappeared. What did you do?” Jeongguk asks again, his grip on Taehyung’s getting tighter.
“I have no magic tricks, Jeonggukie.” He replies and smiles because that’s what Taehyung does. He smiles like nothing’s wrong, he laughs and makes everything brighter and beautiful and worth it.
But now Jeongguk’s confused and part of him thinks it’s because of those cups of coffee last night and another thinks it’s because he’s going insane; insane because for five seconds, he saw Taehyung vanish into thin air.
o o o
He visited Busan the moment classes were over with Jimin for two weeks but he comes home earlier and when he does, he receives an almost incoherent call from Seokjin. He doesn’t understand most of it. His hyung is speaking too fast and he can’t slow down because he’s in a hurry. All he catches is that he needs to go to their place because there’s trouble, something about Taehyung (but nothing serious) and Seokjin needs to go to the cake shop and Namjoon’s apparently not home.
Seokjin hangs up before he could even reply and the whole thing wakes up Yoongi from his supposed eternal sleep.
“What the fuck?” He groans and rolls in his blankets. “Jeongguk, who were you calling? Do you know what time it is?”
“It’s the time when humans like you should be awake.” Jeongguk replies and Yoongi scrunches his nose.
“Jin-hyung?” He questions with a scratch to his dark hair.
“How’d you know?”
“Min Yoongi is a genius how could I not?”
“Of course.” He laughs gently, shakes his head and grabs the spare keys before exiting the room. “Go back to sleep, hyung.”
Jeongguk doesn’t know why Taehyung is in Seokjin’s place. The dorm room he shares with Jimin is in campus and about a five minute walk to where he and Yoongi are staying. Most of the time, Taehyung just barges in the room and they’ll go to Seokjin’s together for some homemade food or a good movie in their flat screen TV.
He was supposed to check his grades --- mostly just his Finance grades --- since Mr. Choi had already messaged them about them being up on their accounts in the school website but Jeongguk decides to check them at Seokjin’s. The wifi’s faster there anyways.
He arrives with Seokjin already leaving the place with much haste that Jeongguk’s sure that the eldest hyung forgot to fix the flying strands of hair at the back of his head.
“Sorry, Jeonggukie.” He says. “Someone broke some ovens at the shop, it’s kind of a mess and Namjoon’s at the studio.”
“It’s okay but what am I supposed to do?”
“Taehyung’s here. Hungry like a wolf.” Seokjin sighs, running his hand through his hair. “Cook something up for him, okay? I’ll make sure to treat you afterwards.”
Jeongguk nods. He doesn’t ask anymore on why did Taehyung have to go to their place for food when he could buy some at 7-Eleven since Seokjin already looks like there are ants in his pants telling him to get out and run.
“Oh and he changed the wifi password. Won’t give it to you until you cook up for him.” Seokjin says after a hurried thanks.
Well shit. There goes checking his Finance grades.
He sees Taehyung on the couch playing something on his phone but he turns up at the sound of Jeongguk shutting the door.
“Bunny Jeongguk is here to cook for me?” Taehyung lowers his phone.
“Why would you go here for food though?” Jeongguk sits on the space beside him.
“Jimin’s in Busan and packed my wallet by mistake. I’m broke for three more days and food supply in the dorm’s nonexistent since it’s break and most of the people went back to their homes.” He answers. “Now feed me?”
His phone vibrates, it’s Minyoung with a group text.
Just when I was paranoid with mr. choi saying a lot of people failed, I passed finance!! (^_^)v
Now he really wants to know.
“Um, Taehyung can you let me use the wifi for a while? I need to check my Finance grades.” Jeongguk nervously asks.
“What? No. I told you to live a little. Why not check your grades when every subject’s up?” Taehyung purses his lips onto a thin line. Jeongguk knows where this conversation is going, he always knew that the elder’s temper towards food is somehow thin. “And if you get wifi, who says there won’t be any delays of you cooking food? You’ll scroll on Instagram posts and tweets.”
That’s kind of true but it wouldn’t stop him from convincing his hyung. The curiosity’s itching now.
“Oh no, don’t use the ‘baby’ card, Jeon Jeongguk.” Taehyung shakes his head and the way his eyes widened a little bit looked a little bit spine-shaking. “You ain’t getting this--” He hovers his hands toward himself. “if you can’t feed him.”
I need to teach Taehyung how to cook.
If words won’t work, he tries the surprise card, bringing his face closer to Taehyung’s to give a peck on his cheeks.
“Oops!” Taehyung stands up, avoiding Jeongguk. “No kisses or cuddles or whatever either. I need food.”
I really really really need to teach Taehyung how to cook.
“Come on, Tae. This is for the greater good of my Finance grades.” Jeongguk pleads.
“I am your boyfriend, I am the greatest good you’ll ever get!”
“Did you just quote The Incredibles at me?” Jeongguk’s standing now and he’s thinking of just carrying Taehyung and throw him like he always does when the bicker but he shoves the thought away. The elder’s taking the wifi password as hostage, he’s not gonna risk it. “Shouldn’t it be wife though? The greater good.”
“It’s bros over eternally committed relationships.” Taehyung says back.
He gives up. He figures he’ll probably go down deeper into an unconnected conversation if he continues and he’s sure that no matter what he says, Taehyung will be the one winning. Jeongguk sighs, shakes his head slightly with a smile and maneuvers himself to Seokjin’s kitchen.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing but ramen in Seokjin’s cupboard so Jeongguk doesn’t really have a choice. He grabs two packs of ramen and a pot to boil some water in while Taehyung hovers behind him just to look at what he’s doing.
“You know how to cook ramen so why didn’t you?” Jeongguk’s boiling the water now with his back in front of Taehyung and he doesn’t need to turn around to see the man pouting. He just knows that he is.
“I like yours better.” Taehyung’s arms snake around his waist and his can feel his hyung bury his face onto his back and he gasps at the contact. “And I wanted to see you. I haven’t seen you at all for two weeks I need to recharge my Jeongguk bunny powers.”
He feels his face heating up and his hand freezes and delays dropping the dry ramen on the water. Taehyung missed him and because he did, he planned all this just to see him the moment he returned.
He didn’t want to admit it but Jeongguk’s feeling like a giddy school girl being given lunch from her crush and it’s just so ironic because he’s the one cooking up food for Taehyung. He buries his face on his palm, he can’t control or undo his smile from the amount of happiness just flooding him that it flushes his face red.
Jeongguk wants to turn around and hug Taehyung so tightly and just… just kiss him.
“Can I hug you back?” He asks then bites his lip before laughing softly on his palm.
“No. I’m the only one allowed to do this. Cook up the ramen. Chop-chop.” Taehyung tightens his embrace. “Plus I’m using the wifi as hostage so…”
He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to focus on the ramen anymore if Taehyung keeps this up.
Fortunately, he does finish the ramen without overheating. Taehyung slurps on his noodles and Jeongguk’s just there looking at him as he does.
“You know staring at me eating is just the same as Edward Cullen watching Bella sleep.” Taehyung cringes at the thought but Jeongguk laughs.
“You missed me?” There’s a pause and there's only the sound of noodles being slurped cutting the silence up.
“Of course I did.” The elder replies and Jeongguk’s smile is up to his eyes when he ruffles Taehyung’s brown hair.
“I missed you too.” He says.
Taehyung’s a person who’s clingy in a good way and Jeongguk likes him the way he is. Perhaps that’s the whole reason as to why he missed him so much after being in Busan for two weeks and Jeongguk figures that if Taehyung were to go to Daegu two weeks before summer ends with Yoongi, he’ll find himself missing him too.
Taehyung continues eating and as Jeongguk looks at him, he remembers that day in the seminar and the alley --- how he just disappeared and reappeared. He shoves the thought at the back of his head since Taehyung either doesn’t know about it or just doesn’t want to talk about it. Jeongguk has just decided to conclude that he was too tired and started seeing stuff. Caffeine can do things too right?
“Okay, so the password?” He asks, burying his earlier thought.
“It’s Jeongguk’s abs without the apostrophe and space.” His hyung places the empty ramen bowl on the table.
Jeongguk’s phone drops to the floor, the sound echoing through the room.
Jeongguk’s abs. Jeongguk’s abs.
He forgets the Finance grades. Instead, he launches himself at Taehyung, his hands tickling the man’s sides and neck.
“What the--- Guk!” He laughs and struggles, trying to escape Jeongguk’s hold on him but fails as his foot missteps and both of them fall on the floor, giving Jeongguk the advantage of tickling Taehyung more. “Stop tickling me!”
“Don’t worry baby, I won’t hurt you.”
“That sounds so kinky!”
“You’re the one who changed the password to Jeongguk’s abs.”
The elder has tears in his eyes now, his laughs and giggles bouncing off the walls but as Taehyung struggles on Jeongguk’s weight, his hands find an opening and slithers to Jeongguk’s sides before doing the same kind of tickling.
“What the hell, Tae!” He says in between laughs.
“Revenge!” Taehyung screams back.
Jeongguk can’t breathe, his sides start to hurt and he kind of knows how Barbie dolls feel when his cheeks ache from laughing. Both their hands fall limp in minutes and they take a minute to breathe. There are stray laughs escaping from Taehyung’s lips and Jeongguk's does the same. They both start wiping out tears from their eyes.
“This tickle fight ends in a truce.” Jeongguk pants.
“You gotta admit, no one’s gonna guess the Jeongguk’s abs password.” Taehyung replies and Jeongguk rolls his eyes at this, extending his hand to help the elder up.
That is when Taehyung does lift his hand up only for Jeongguk to see through it. He could see the green carpet through the elder’s skin in lowered opacity.
“Tae---” He freezes.
Taehyung’s hand is transparent.
“Hmmm?” He hums, tilting his head.
Shakily, Jeongguk holds Taehyung’s hand with whatever transparency its engulfed with tightly until he blinks and sees it back again --- solid with full opacity.
He swallows the lump in his throat. He tries to repeat the statement of ‘Taehyung did not disappear’ in his head but the words won’t connect.
Taehyung’s hand was transparent.
Instead of bringing Taehyung up, he brings his body down and hugs him on the carpeted floor, his hand running through his brown hair and his face buried on his shoulder. He holds him gently, thinking that if he tightens his embrace then Taehyung will break; will disappear. He just needs to feel him, his skin, his hair and his warmth; he wants to conclude that Taehyung is here, alive and existing.
“Jeongguk?” He hears Taehyung call, his arms going around Jeongguk’s body. “Something wrong?”
He doesn’t say it.
“I never got my hug.” He replies and he’s relieved to hear Taehyung’s chuckle on his ear.
o o o
They’re covered in blankets on Seokjin’s carpeted floor while Yoongi and Jimin hog all the space on the couch. Jeongguk looks up, Jimin fell asleep on Yoongi’s shoulder. They both look so harmless when they’re all asleep and squishy.
Hoseok looks so small while he sleeps at the edge of the sofa. He’s got to hand it to him, Hoseok must be too much of an expert dancer if he can fit himself in that small space and sleep.
Taehyung is having trouble keeping his eyes open. His head is limp on his shoulder and his hand is dropping to his lap.
“What movie is it now…?” Taehyung asks drowsily.
“The Breakfast Club.” Jeongguk wraps the blanket around them tighter. “Jimin-hyung has a thing for coming of age movies nowadays but look at him, fast asleep.”
There’s a sleepy laugh from Taehyung. “Hey, remember when we had a bike race back at high school and I won by sabotaging you because you were too competitive? I was the one who chained your bike to the flag pole and---”
“You did!?” The sleep in Jeongguk just got knocked out by some kind of invisible uppercut and his body turns to Taehyung while his elder’s head falls directly to his knee.
“What the hell! Give me your shoulder back.” Taehyung whines, there’s slight pain on his face and Jeongguk massages the place that got hit by his knee. “You knew it was me, don’t be surprised.”
“No, I thought it was Hoseok-hyung!” He says back.
“...Oh…” A single syllable escapes Taehyung’s lips before he purses them. “Then forget what I said. Bike? What bike?”
“Okay, I’ll tell you another secret as an apology of that time I chained your stupid orange bike to the flagpole.” Taehyung pulls away from his shoulder and raises his hands in defeat.
Jeongguk folds his arms. This secret better be worth it, he’s still bitter about his orange bike being tightly chained to the school’s flagpole. He didn’t even get it home and everyone in school had to see it on display the next day like a fucking exhibit.
Taehyung licks his lips and for a moment he just stares at Jeongguk with his face falling and falling to nothingness --- like that blank look he had when Jeongguk thought he disappeared.
“Jeon Jeongguk,” He says and there’s an unexplained twinge in Jeongguk’s heart. “I’m a ghost.”
Jeongguk doesn’t know how to react. He’s reminded of that fucking time when Taehyung fucking disappeared that he knows that he’s turning pale out of fear and he’s holding his breath because of his haywire thoughts that gets broken by Taehyung breaking his blank face and fucking laughs.
“Hey, don’t look so terrified! I’m kidding.” Jeongguk still can’t breathe but Taehyung’s just slapping his back as he chuckles.
“W-Well, stop being dramatic.” Jeongguk tries to joke back but he fails miserably when his voice shakes.
“I’m not dramatic!” Taehyung pouts, buying his tone and the younger thanks him for that.
“Tae, you’re the type of guy who would swing down the chandelier with a rose on your mouth as you sprinkle more petals on some red Chev below you while you play some Goblin OST---”
“I’d play Disney OST though.”
“Well I’m not surprised!”
He feels the heaviness of his chest lift and they find themselves just cracking up at the image of Taehyung actually swinging down the chandelier with both Jimin and Seokjin trying to get him down because Kim Taehyung if you fall and break your neck we ain’t paying for your hospital bills.
“Sure I can be dramatic but I’m not that dramatic.” Taehyung sighs and brings his head back on Jeongguk’s shoulder. “But still though, I have no magic tricks, Jeonggukie.”
There, Jeongguk just thinks as he glances at Taehyung’s sleeping face. His hyung is a good actor and he’s afraid if Taehyung’s telling the truth.
o o o
“You know, Guk? I’ve been working with Namjoon in the studio and I’ve been getting my ass worked up with songs and I need my sleep. You know what’s important? The fucking apocalypse. If you ever think of waking me up, compare your reason to the apocalypse.” Yoongi comes home ranting and keeps shushing Jeongguk due to whatever stress invading his head.
“But hyung this is important!” Jeongguk removes the blankets from Yoongi this makes him sit up.
“More fucking important than the apocalypse?” Yoongi yawns but when Jeongguk doesn’t reply and his hyung just scans his face, Yoongi punches the drowsiness away and gestures Jeongguk to sit. “Hey, hey look at me.” And Jeongguk does and he tries not to act as scared as he is. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s not the apocalypse.” Jeongguk tries to add a comedic tone but fails yet again and Yoongi doesn’t look like he’s taking this kind of shit.
“Jeongguk,” Yoongi’s tone is serious now. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
He feels it again; the panic when Taehyung’s face in his head appears and vanishes. He doesn’t know how he did it but he told Yoongi everything, spilled every detail, every kind of description and every meeting he had with Taehyung when it happened.
Yoongi’s face is indescribable. He’s trying to understand, Jeongguk’s sure of it. The elder licks his lips and sighs.
“Guk, are you okay?” Yoongi asks. “Are you sure Taehyung just… disappeared?”
“Yoongi-hyung, please.” He’s basically begging now, grabbing Yoongi’s hands tightly and just staring at him with eyes pleading him to believe. “I’m not crazy, I’m not drunk, I haven’t been to any parties and I’m not doing fucking drugs and Taehyung did disappear!”
He doesn’t really know what he’s asking from Yoongi and he doesn’t know if telling the issue to the elder would do any better on what’s happening but Yoongi’s not replying and it’s a lot to take in, he’s already betting that his hyung next to him wouldn’t believe him and Jeongguk might be crazy after all but when his grip loosens on the elder’s hands, Yoongi brings him close.
“Sorry, I’m not the best counselor.” Yoongi says, patting Jeongguk’s head. “But I know you’re not crazy and if this thing’s really bugging you then I’m glad you told me but if you’re really worried,” He pauses, then a sigh. His hand moves to Jeongguk’s back and he’s rubbing soothing circles. “why don’t you directly ask Taehyung about it again? Tell him you’re worried and scared for him.”
Jeongguk nods. He doesn’t pull himself away from Yoongi’s chest and he reminds himself how lucky he is to have a hyung like him.
o o o
He dreams again.
He’s at a bar sitting next to another sleep deprived Jeongguk who looks better than him in every way (how do they fucking do that?), wearing rounded specs like the next coming of Harry Potter to build a Korean Hogwarts and another seven book novel series that focuses entirely on how he’s whipped for that blonde saxophonist on stage.
Jeongguk’s not surprised that the sexy blonde saxophonist that Harry Potter Jeongguk --- HP Jeongguk --- is so up for is no other than Kim Taehyung.
He doesn’t blame him. Jeongguk thinks he’s sexy as fuck too.
Hoseok comes up to him, serving him some water and reminds him that his thirst is showing (yeah, Jeongguk’s is too), in which HP Jeongguk denies while Hoseok just raises his brow and encourages him to tell him more lies.
HP Jeongguk tries to deny Hoseok again but when Kim Taehyung starts singing with a fucking deep voice that can send everyone to death and their souls to dance with seraphs above, HP Jeongguk almost chokes on his drink.
Jeongguk would have too.
o o o
When Jimin barges into their room at ten in the evening and drags Jeongguk by the wrist to the nearest convenience store, Yoongi follows them.
He doesn’t know what’s going on and he’s partly scared because when he sees Jimin all stone faced and serious, he’s reminded of five foot Jimin slamming him onto the lockers and on the edge of strangling him so when the smaller man just says “Ramen. Three of us. Now.”, He grabs ramen like his life depends on it and starts making them while he stares at Jimin dragging an also confused Yoongi outside to the kiosks.
He doesn’t know what they’re talking about but Jimin looks so stressed and Yoongi looks confused as fuck and if you don’t know both of them then you’d think they’re fighting (they’re really not).
When he finished the instant ramen, he goes outside to the kiosks and distributes them. He’s contemplating on what he did to make Jimin drag him out late at night and he’s half praying that he doesn’t die especially that Yoongi’s in on the stressed phase too.
Jeongguk sits down and before he even starts to ask what’s wrong, Jimin breaks the tension without even a greeting.
“You said that Taehyung’s disappearing.” Jimin starts and Jeongguk glances at him, finding the desperation in his eyes.
“Jiminie---” Yoongi starts to interfere when Jeongguk doesn’t reply.
“Taehyung’s disappearing, Jeongguk?” Jimin repeats, voice firm and strong, it almost doesn’t seem like him.
And Jeongguk’s scared now. He’s scared because he doesn’t need to play twenty questions in his head just to see how Jimin looks like he’s seeing the world crumbling before his very eyes when Jeongguk nods.
Jimin slumps back on the chair, beaten and looking absolutely tired and Yoongi’s hand is already on his back by reflex.
“Hey,” He whispers to Jimin’s ear. “What’s going on? Are you okay?”
“I saw Taehyung disappear back in high school.” Jimin says and he looks like he’s about to cry. “I thought I was just really tired or sleepy but he did vanish again.”
Jeongguk swallows the lump in his throat. The look on Jimin’s face looks too real to be something he would do for a prank.
“What happens if he does?” It’s Yoongi asking and Jeongguk silently thanks him because he doesn’t know if he can speak now.
Jimin’s quiet, Yoongi repeats the question again and Jeongguk doesn’t know if he’s scared of knowing what’s going on with Taehyung or if he’s scared that he doesn’t know what’s going on.
“People forget him.” Jimin says quietly like he’s afraid that there’s mice and insects inside the seats and the walls that are listening. “I’ve noticed. I just did. Tae never told me but there were people forgetting they’re classmates or people forgetting they’re friends and people forgetting he’s there. People forgetting that Kim Taehyung lives.”
Yoongi doesn’t know what to say, he’s opening and closing his mouth like the words are stuck in his throat but Jeongguk connects them and looks at the jigsaw puzzle in his mind; solved in despair.
“They forget that Taehyung exists.” He croaks, his throat feels like sandpaper and he feels lightheaded like the soul inside him has been pushed out of his body and he’s going to faint right at that very moment.
People forget that Taehyung exists so does that mean…?
“What the fuck.” Yoongi curses, bringing his hand to his head like the words just hit him like an incoming train. “Fuck.”
Jimin pushes his noodles away and Jeongguk thinks he might do the same too. They’ve gone cold and he thinks that if he eats ramen now, he might throw it up back on the asphalt.
“I’ve never been --- we’ve never been affected by it.” Jimin continues. “And I hope it stays that way.”
o o o
He doesn’t look at Taehyung the same way again. Jimin told him not to tell Taehyung anything since they could be wrong about what they’ve assumed and it isn’t like Jeongguk’s not trying to act like everything’s normal but it’s just hard to do so.
Whenever Taehyung smiles, he thinks about what he would do if he forgets him. Whenever Taehyung laughs, he thinks about how life would be if he doesn’t remember it.
And it doesn’t help when he sees Taehyung clinging on to him playfully as if he isn’t affected that Minjae basically did not show up to a play they were supposed to be watching.
“Minjae stood up on me, he’s such a bad date.” Taehyung whines, he starts pouting and pretending to cry on Jeongguk’s chest before laughing and brushing it off as a joke. “I can’t blame him. He’s been pretty busy lately.”
Seokjin’s entrance doesn’t help too when he shows up at the back of the sofa and asks: “Who are you with, Jeonggukie?”
He swears he’s having a heart attack when Taehyung turns at him and there’s a slight pause in Seokjin’s face before he smiles and acknowledges the brown haired boy’s presence.
“Oh, Taehyungie. You never said you were coming.” Seokjin says cheerfully and Taehyung has the same amount of happiness he does, giving him some aegyo but Jeongguk just feels like he’s the nimbus cloud in between fluffy and sun accompanied cumulus clouds.
He feels that way because he sees Taehyung and Seokjin shining like they’re having good days while Jeongguk just wants to cry.
o o o
Jeongguk manages to see everyone hold up until the beginning of a new school year. He’s still paranoid and the spring air sends a bite on his skin but he’s not as scared as before when he just sees Taehyung and he can already feel himself tear up.
Jimin’s probably convinced that only a certain group of people are affected by what he observed back in high school and it’s the closest thing to a conclusion they’ve got since Jeongguk and Yoongi spent their free time just researching on whatever thing that’s making Taehyung’s blood into magic but they ended up with zero results.
It was the first time Jeongguk wanted to punch the internet in the face if it had one. How could there even be questions that even the internet can’t answer?
It’s a habit to live on the edge of his memories of the man he loves and still, at times when he sees a part of the elder’s body turn translucent, he feels that certain weight on his chest.
“I have no magic tricks, Jeonggukie.” Has become somewhat of a signature phrase for Taehyung with him using the exact same words when Jeongguk tries to break open the hard walls around the elder’s head.
Taehyung knows that there’s something bothering Jeongguk and he tries to push them away with hugs and kisses and comforting words like how the elder usually does.
Jeongguk doesn’t really realize it but taking Taehyung into his arms when he sees him has become a habit as well. He doesn’t know when exactly he became clingy and needy boyfriend but it just happened.
“How are you and Taehyung?” Yoongi asks him when he’s surprisingly awake with zero apocalypse instances happening outside.
Jeongguk hums and he flips his way onto his textbook. He’s gotten over Finance but there are a few more subjects bugging him as a sophomore --- his new monster opponent: Accounting.
Why did he have to take business?
“Me and Taehyung.” He echoes, there’s nothing entering his head and he’s not balancing any shit. It scares him that he’s going to be doing this for his future job and just then, JBJ Jeongguk and HP Jeongguk from his dreams wave to him good bye, they’re going to the Bahamas where Jeongguk could never reach them just because of Accounting.
Then from numbers, it’s Taehyung.
Of course, if it’s not numbers it’s always Taehyung.
Yoongi’s waiting for an answer. It’s not really him and Taehyung he’s asking about, it’s mostly about him, Taehyung and Taehyung’s denied disappearing magic tricks.
“I still love him.” He continues, not really a right answer but it’s true.
He loves him. He always will and he will never forget that love.
o o o
yoongi-hyung and I both released our mixtapes! there are free samples on this week’s movie night
you make it sound like food, hyung ><
we haven’t slept in weeks, give us a break -,-
congratulations hyung! Both of you did great. Yoongi-hyung’passed out when he tried opening the door. I would have called an ambulance.
you’re with tae, right?
no, I’m not with him. Is taehyung okay?
you talked about how he would help you today looking for jin-hyung’s present for your anniversary ???
you should have met up three hours ago
SHIT. I MESSED UP.
His phone’s turned off…
o o o
He did track in high school but no amount of track prepared him for the amount of running he had in store when he received Namjoon’s text.
There’s fire burning in his lungs spreading to his throat, his legs are all pins and needles while his head keeps sliding in pictures of Taehyung like an infinite collage. He keeps on repeating the memories like a tape; high school, graduation, stars, universes, invisible ink and worn out Rubik’s cubes.
Listen, listen. Taehyung’s laugh is in his ears and his deep smooth voice singing songs, his hum echoing in an empty convenience store and floating on the summer heat.
He overheard Taehyung and Namjoon meeting up at the 7-Eleven he worked in and when Jeongguk arrives all sweaty and out of breath with his chest just heaving both out of tiredness and paranoia, he sees Taehyung on the kiosks, a blue popsicle in his hand as he spends his time just sitting and staring into the distance.
“Tae,” He calls and sits across him. “Hey, baby why you still here?”
Taehyung grins at him before finishing the rest of the Popsicle, ice grinding between his teeth.
“I just got here though.” He says.
Jeongguk sees empty ice cream packs scattered on the table with some looking to moist and well, cold to be there before the elder came.
He waited for Namjoon-hyung…
“Why are you here, then?” Jeongguk asks again and Taehyung looks up with a hum at the question, as if thinking of what he’s going to say.
“I forgot you changed your schedule. You know, your shifts.” He starts and stares at the litter of trashed ice cream packs on the table and fidgets with his fingers; he’s counting. “I wanted to see you. You didn’t go to the theater for rehearsals today so I got a little worried.”
His blood freezes.
He checks his phone with haste. He feels dead with his chest just stopping, like Taehyung just reached out to his heart and started squeezing until it stopped beating. The phone calendar flashes to his face with a note stuck on today’s date.
invited audience for tae’s theater rehearsal
That theater rehearsal Taehyung had been preparing for since junior year --- he missed it.
He missed it.
He fucking missed it.
“O-Oh…” A single syllable from his throat just cracks his voice and he feels like breaking.
I forgot. How could I forget? I forgot Taehyung’s----
Everything’s spinning and Taehyung looks worried and hurt and Jeongguk can’t fucking breathe because how could he be so stupid and useless and just let these things happen to Taehyung? Minjae forgot about him and for a second, Namjoon and Seokjin did, but him?
Jeongguk may not be confident but he’s not lying if he says that part of him expected with enough confidence that even if it’s only him; just at least him, he wouldn’t forget Taehyung.
“It’s okay Jeonggukie,” Taehyung notices the crack in his voice and sings instead like a piece of tape covering up a hole on paper. “Accounting is kind of shit and I know it’s important. You can always make it to the next one, right?”
You’re more important than any accounting shit.
Jeongguk figured yeah, he can always go to the next one but he wanted to at least go to Taehyung’s first rehearsal but because of some damned cursed phenomenon, he forgot.
“Don’t give me that long face, bunny.” Taehyung moves forward and tries to paste Jeongguk’s expression on his as he squeezes the younger’s cheeks tightly. “We’ve all been pretty busy. I mean movie night got canceled for three straight weeks and that hasn’t happened before.”
“And Jiminie will be flipping out if I don’t get back before dark.” He cuts him with a wave and an eye smile before turning back and walking away.
He sees Taehyung’s back in front of him, getting smaller and smaller and he just hates it because he knows it’s just the elder going back home and he’ll see him again tomorrow but there’s just this heavy feeling of dread weighing his feet down like he half sees Taehyung leaving him for good.
“Hyung…” The word escapes his mouth but Taehyung’s not turning back and just like a movie effect, he sees his elder’s body fade out with his blue sweater going pale and translucent.
Jeongguk’s back in the alley, that damned cursed night where everything started, where the feeling of raving panic that he never knew existed just surfaced. It’s dark in his head, he can only see Taehyung’s back fading like his hand did the moment he returned from Busan last summer --- Taehyung is disappearing, Taehyung is disappearing.
Alarm bells ring in his ears and he brings himself up, propelling himself further to catch up to that back while he could see its transparency like plastic. He reaches for Taehyung and takes him into his arms, begging him to stop moving, to stop leaving, to stop disappearing like he’s a magic trick that he denied to be.
“Hyung,” he chokes out and for the first time, he feels Taehyung shaking like a leaf exposed to the wind. “Taehyung…”
He embraces him tightly, trying to feel whatever warmth he can in the transparency. He holds Taehyung like a prayer with his head just repeating all the ‘pleases’ he can as if it’s enough to stop him from fading, enough from leaving.
They stay like that until Taehyung’s solid. The elder doesn’t speak a word and there’s that blank canvas of a face he shows that makes Jeongguk’s heart twinge. He leads him by the hand to his and Yoongi’s place, sending a text to his room mate on the way.
Taehyung still doesn’t speak when they arrive but it’s him who hugs Jeongguk tightly once the door closes; his hands crumpling his shirt, his head on Jeongguk’s chest and his whole body trembling.
All his life he has known Taehyung to be indestructible no matter how many words you throw at him. The elder always finds the bright light in the darkest rooms he’s shoved into and will smile. But with those, he often forgets that Taehyung’s human too.
He has never seen Taehyung look so… small.
o o o
Unlike his first summer vacation filled with movie nights and secret dates, he spends the rest of sophomore year with the fact that Seokjin and Namjoon forgot about Taehyung all in all.
It’s almost unbearable; Seokjin asking who his new friend is and Namjoon introducing music that Taehyung has already been a big fan of. The moment Jimin knew this, it looked like he had wrapped Seokjin and Namjoon’s place with invisible yellow tape as if it was quarantined for Taehyung never to step foot inside while Yoongi walked out of the room with steam escaping from his ears and his hands rolled into fists.
Yoongi’s punch can break a lot of things and he’s preventing himself to break Namjoon’s jaw and send Seokjin’s perfect teeth flying.
Taehyung, however is a tough cookie. He brushes this off as a prank and forcefully rips all the imaginary yellow quarantine tape Jimin set up so he could still hang out in Seokjin’s place.
It hurts Jeongguk to see everyone like this but if removing the yellow quarantine tape is what Taehyung decided, he will gladly do the same with his hand tightly on his. Taehyung knows he’s affected but he would rather bite his tongue off than admit it.
When midterm week just happened to combine with work rushes, they’re all knocked out; Seokjin and Namjoon in their room while Yoongi and Hoseok fell asleep on the kitchen floor surrounded by empty cups of self made coffee that obviously did not help in keeping them awake. Jeongguk walks on the small spaces of tiles in between their bodies while he makes himself that useless coffee and after that, he’s planning on going back to the living room just to burn his brain cells away.
He stares at both Yoongi and Hoseok’s faces before he leaves the kitchen with a half smile. It would have been great if he had some marker, black inked circles would look good on Yoongi’s pale face, but at this time of study hour, he’s too burned out so he leaves without waking them up.
“I hate Chemistry. Why did I take Chemistry?” A tired, deep groan escapes from Taehyung.
With a coffee in hand, he stops at the open living room entrance and hides behind the wall when he sees Jimin lying on Taehyung’s lap on the couch while Taehyung tries to make out with his chemistry book and is half way on throwing it away.
“It’s not even a prerequisite to theater and I’m asking the same question.” Jimin croaks, his voice sleepy.
“Jiminie, I think you already know that I regret more than half of my life choices.” Taehyung says.
There’s some sort of tiredness combined with sentimentality in the air and Jeongguk feels like he’s interrupting something, like he’s not supposed to be hearing these things but when he starts to maneuver his way out of the living room entrance, he realizes that there are two grown men asleep on the extra room and another two passed out surrounded with coffee in the kitchen. He starts choosing to go to the kitchen but he’ll be hearing either way with these thin walls so he stays.
“You know what I regret the most, Tae?” Jimin chuckles drowsily. “Accidentally dying my hair pink.”
“But you purposely dyed your hair pink, dumbass.” Taehyung snorts.
“What? It was accidental!”
“Nu-uh, you specifically said that you would dye your hair pink just because Yoongi-hyung said pink hair would suit you most out of all of us.”
“What happened to our supportive friendship? This is exactly the reason why Jeongguk’s been kissing you.” Jimin says back, fake betrayal in his voice. “Those disrespectful words from his lips just came crawling into your beautiful mouth. I should’ve chased that boy out before you started going against me.”
“And Jeongguk says I’m dramatic.” He could see Taehyung’s eye roll at that sentence.
He hears the sound of fabric hitting skin and Jeongguk figures Jimin threw the couch’s side pillow on Taehyung.
“Yeah but after I dyed my hair pink, I kept on hiding so you dyed your hair in this flashy shade of blonde---”
“Who said I dyed it for you?” Taehyung cuts off and Jeongguk hears another pillow throw.
“Yah, Kim Taehyung, you did it for me and if you didn’t, then let me dream.” Jimin says with a growl. “But yeah, you dyed your hair blonde and stuck beside me so I wouldn’t be alone in embarrassing myself.”
He hears Taehyung’s chemistry book tapping the side table and Jeongguk looks at his coffee. He tries to think on how he could get his books without disturbing them so he steals a peek from the entrance.
“Embarrassing yourself? I heard a lot of 10/10 would bang comments down the halls because of your pink hair!” The third pillow hits Taehyung’s face and he laughs. “Not to mention, Yoongi-hyung fucked a pink haired Jiminie too.”
Even from a distance, Jeongguk could see the red glowing from Jimin’s ears.
“Oh shut up! You talk as if Jeongguk didn’t do the same when you were blonde!”
“I can’t help it, I’m hot when I’m blonde.” A smug grin forms on Taehyung’s face while a shade of pink overlays his face. “I think.”
You are though.
He suddenly misses Taehyung’s blonde hair but as the thought passed, he grabs his hand holding his coffee just to prevent it from shaking so much. He knows he’s beet red too. Seriously, he thinks, who can resist a blonde Kim Taehyung?
“I’ve been with you for so long I often forget that you’re the guy who drank a Coke filled with six Mentos through your nose back then just because of a dare.” Jimin replies, he turns and sits up. He rubs his eyes before looking at Taehyung again.
“Yeah and I almost died by filling my lungs with soda fizz, why aren’t you concerned?”
“Because you’re the type of person who would be visited by death and you’d make friends with him. Death would be so guilty for trying to take you away and he’d extend your lifespan.” Jimin snorts at him. “Honestly, I wouldn’t even be shocked if that were the case. You have so many friends.”
“Who knew you were the guy who was so shy at first? I thought you only spoke to mice.” Taehyung says with a smirk, fixing stray hair sticking up on Jimin’s head.
Jeongguk catches it then, the passing loneliness on Jimin’s face when he looked at Taehyung. With all the stuff happening, he often forgets that he’s not the only one hurting. Jimin’s hurting too; the one whom Taehyung trusts with his life aside from Jeongguk.
“Hey, TaeTae,” He calls and Taehyung hums in response. “You know I’m always here if anything’s wrong, right? You’d tell me if there is?”
Taehyung first looks at him with confusion before he playfully scoffs and replies. “Of course I would. You’re my best friend.”
“Yeah,” Jimin smiles, it reaches his eyes. He lies back on Taehyung’s lap and yawns. “We’re in this together, yeah? You’re the only one I have.”
“Got it, partner.” He laughs back.
And suddenly, there’s a sense of calm in Jeongguk’s chest. There’s a little thought fighting through his terrible ones, telling him that everything’s going to work out because if people keep forgetting Taehyung, he’ll be at least warmed up by the fact that Jimin’s fighting to remember Taehyung just like him.
o o o
Taehyung looks at his text book like he’s plotting to murder it. He writes letters and numbers roughly on the spaces between printed words and flips the pages roughly that Jeongguk wouldn’t even be surprised if he manages to rip them.
“The text book didn’t do anything to you.” Jeongguk points out, closing his notebook. He finally balanced his homework for Accounting but Taehyung still looks annoyed.
“It angers me in more ways than one.” Taehyung huffs, quickly writing another chemical equation on the blank. “Why did I take Chemistry, Gukkie?” He whines, finally, scratching his head in frustration.
“I’m asking that myself. It’s not like Chem is a prerequisite to Theater.” Jeongguk says and it’s true. He doesn’t know why Taehyung decided to take the subject but he does know that Taehyung has been non-stop complaining about it like how Jeongguk complained back when Finance still existed.
Taehyung scoffs at his reply then blows on his messy brown fringe. “You sound like Jimin.”
Because I actually heard him say it.
“You sound like me when I took Finance. Balancing equations that hard?”
“Balancing equations? I’ve done that crap last year, now it’s just confusing real to life situation problems now and it’s driving me crazy! Why do I need to know the amount of Potassium in a specific solution? Why do I need to know the structure of the vitamins? Why do I damn need to know how much Hydrochloric Acid I should put before burning up a metal slate of Iron?” He rants, Jeongguk swears he’s not breathing and if Yoongi happened to hear him, he’d be booking Taehyung for a rap duet rather than exiling him from the Genius Lab.
“Because you took up Chemistry, hyung.” He pushes his coffee towards Taehyung. The man looks like he needs it.
“Ugh. I’m sorry, bunny but being a senior sucks. I should have gotten drunk more when I was a sophomore. Now I feel all the fomo.” Taehyung sighs, he buries his face on his palms and just groans. “Don’t waste your college years, Gukkie. Drink and get drunk while you still can.”
“I’m not drinking and I do not regret pulling on your wrist when you’re about to drink. I’m glad you didn’t get drunk that much in your college years.” Jeongguk stretches on the couch and then slumps. “Nobody’s ready to deal with the shit your drunk ass can pull off.”
Taehyung laughs tiredly, lifting his face off his palms and shifting to lay his head on Jeongguk’s lap.
“Jiminie and Yoongi-hyung always freak when I get drunk. You too.” He says and pokes Jeongguk’s nose. “Well you could say that I don’t really regret not getting drunk. I would like to remember all the times Jeonggukie kissed me, thank you very much.”
He turns red at the sentence. He doesn’t get how Taehyung can switch from adorable Tae to dangerous Tae in 0.5 seconds much like how he can’t comprehend how Yoongi can be all sweet and then spit fire as Agust-D.
“You look so cute when you’re embarrassed, bunny.” Taehyung continues, a smirk painting his face.
“I don’t know why but that sounds so kinky, hyung.”
“Can’t really blame the guy who changed the password into Jeongguk’s abs, right?” With that, he flicks Taehyung’s forehead hard. It may not be as painful as Jimin’s but it’s painful nonetheless. “Ow!”
“You’re graduating and you still bring that up.” Jeongguk says.
Somehow, he’s still not convinced that Taehyung’s graduating; that Taehyung will actually go up the stage in a toga and accept his diploma and probably go on a dabbing spree after he does. He’ll be there below the stage, clapping and taking pictures while Taehyung will just look like the happiest guy on earth because he’s out of college. Soon enough, the elder will become an actor and be seen on TVs and billboards.
Most of all, he’s still not believing that Taehyung wouldn’t be in campus next year.
There’s a whole future ahead of Taehyung and part of Jeongguk is scared that he’ll forget him along the way and it’s something that he can’t afford to make Taehyung see because he knows that the elder is afraid too.
But unlike Jeongguk who worries about tomorrow, Taehyung’s not invested on thinking about graduation, saying that it will come when time will allow it to come so he’s not surprised when Taehyung changes the subject.
“Hey, if I have Hanahaki, won’t you all be so happy?” He asks, an eyebrow flicking up.
“That flower choking prompt of a disease?” Jeongguk raises a brow back.
“Yeah. You’d all be so happy.” He replies.
“Why would we be happy if you’re choking over whatever flower’s blocking your airway?”
“Well you’d sell the flowers that I vomit out, obviously.” Taehyung says like it’s the most obvious thing they would do. “Sell my flowers for some cash. That would be awesome, I’d agree too.”
“No, that’s child labor.”
“I’m not a minor anymore though?”
“It’s still abusive.”
“But cash, Gukkie! Cash!”
Since when, Jeongguk thinks, Since when did Taehyung become so obsessed with cash gained by vomit covered flowers?
“I still wonder how they created that disease as a writing prompt though. I mean, of all things you could choke on, why flowers?” Jeongguk questions.
Jeongguk thinks that Hanahaki is a creative disease and wealthy florists may or may not have it (maybe?) but he always looks at the sickness as something that starts with: ‘we need a new disease that could kill people because they’re not getting their love back’ then continues with: ‘sure, we’ll make them choke on flowers because it’s cool’ then has a dilemma of: ‘where do the flowers come from?’ then answers it with: ‘we don’t know’ and ends with: ‘HOLY SHIT THAT’S GENIUS’.
Seriously, where do the flowers come from? Does love make people inhale pollen and the lungs are considered sticky stigma?
“So you don’t like choking on flowers but you’re okay with choking on my dick?”
He pushes Taehyung off the couch with a big thud.
“Hey!” Taehyung says, now rolling on the floor with laughs bursting from his lips as he struggles standing up, grabbing the edges of the couch before pulling himself up and sitting on the empty space next to him.
“We are not talking about flower choking ever again.” Jeongguk says, covering his face out of embarrassment.
“The bottom line between you and Hanahaki is that you don’t believe in it, right?” Taehyung says, the laughter fading and he tilts his head, waiting for his answer.
“Sorry to disappoint but yeah. Where do the flowers even come from?” Jeongguk replies with a chuckle.
Taehyung pauses and Jeongguk’s laugh dies out. The elder’s eyes are glassy under the light but there’s a small smile tugging on his lips.
“So,” Taehyung breathes out. “You don’t believe in Hanahaki but you believe in Kim Taehyung disappearing?”
His breath is caught up and his mind goes blank. There’s a bitter taste on his tongue the moment he hears Kim Taehyung acknowledging the whole shitty phenomenon and his stomach flips over and over in somersaults just by hearing him say something other than not having any magic tricks.
“I knew.” Taehyung continues. “Of course I knew. Jiminie and Yoongi-hyung and even you, you know about it and then---” He breaks with an almost insulting laugh. “Jin-hyung and Namjoon-hyung don’t even know me. Most likely Hoseok-hyung has forgotten too.”
“T-Then why didn’t you---”
“Why didn’t I tell you if I knew that you knew?” Taehyung cuts him off. “Because you always look so scared when it happens, Jeongguk.”
“Aren’t you?” Jeongguk replies, almost immediately. “Aren’t you scared?”
And Taehyung flashes that toothy grin of his, like him disappearing is just some kind of joke or some kind of game --- like he isn’t the one flickering in and out of existence.
“I’ve been disappearing since I was born. You get used to it, Jeonggukie. People forget me more than they should.” His smile drops a little. “Making friends should be a hobby in my case because if more people forget me then I’ll be alone. Now that’s scary. But now it hurts more than I expected. My hyungs don’t remember me and soon enough… You’ll forget me too.”
There’s a huge thorn stuck in his heart. There’s this hint of sadness in the elder’s eyes and he’s holding back the scream stuck in his throat because here is Taehyung, saying that even Jeongguk will forget about him. It hurts him, the thorn is sinking deeper, his heart bleeding further and his throat just burns.
And a traitorous voice in Jeongguk agrees about this because Jeongguk isn’t an exception. He’s forgotten Taehyung’s rehearsal and it’s a huge slap on his face that even if he knows and loves Taehyung too much, he’s not special enough to remember him.
Golden maknae my ass. If I can’t even remember you, what’s the point?
“It’s a weird feeling, really. I don’t have any idea what’s really happening or why this is happening but the feeling of disappearing is just like being high, I think?” Taehyung continues. “Not that I experienced doing drugs but I think that’s how being high feels like? Like you’re floating except your body’s getting transparent for real.”
“Out of all people,” Jeongguk manages to croak out. “Why you?”
“...Maybe,” Taehyung replies. “The world doesn’t want me me…?”
“That’s bullshit.” He curses, his throat is like sandpaper and Taehyung is blurry in his eyes, covered in sheets of tears. “The world fucking messed up if it doesn’t want you.”
How dare he? How dare Taehyung of all people? Saying that the world doesn’t want him, saying that every single thing doesn’t want him --- now he really wants to scream because that’s not it! It’s not Taehyung not being worthy of the world but it’s the world not being worthy enough for Taehyung.
“Don’t” He continues and he grabs Taehyung’s wrist and plants a gentle kiss on it and he’s praying, God, he’s praying so hard because he doesn’t want to lose him. “Don’t leave me.”
“Hey, Gukkie.” Taehyung lifts his face up and his glassy eyes meets Taehyung’s brown ones. “I’m fine, I won’t leave you.”
Is it okay to believe in a lie?
Back in high school, he asked what could be more painful than seeing Taehyung holding back his tears.
The answer: losing Kim Taehyung for good.
o o o
I THOUGHT I WAS GONNA DIE
AM I DEAD???
IS THIS HEAVEN????
AM I TEXTING YOU FROM HEAVEN???
HEAVEN NEVER LOOKED SO UGLY BEFORE
hyung, texting me in caps lock after your final dance exam does not kill you.
did you just call our university ugly?
WHO CARES IF IT’S UGLY I’M FUCKING GRADUATING!!!
did Yoongi-hyung steal your phone?
you know perfectly well that i can curse if i want to
yeah sure now go continue your date with Yoongi-hyung
what? how’d you know i’m with Yoongi-hyung?
hoseok-hyung’s stalking both of you and is leaking all your activities on the gc
Yoongi-hyung found him and he’s now chasing hoseok-hyung
rip jung hoseok
congrats guk you killed hoseok-hyung indirectly by min yoongi
lolololol hoseok-hyung will live
where are you anyway?
jin-hyung was looking for you after the exam
oh you’re with that new friend of yours right?
the theater kid?
he’s the same age as you, jimin-hyung
he’s graduating too
really? you should let me meet him
people in my gen are lucky y’know
his name is Kim Taehyung, hyung. he’s your best friend.
He dyed his hair blonde when you dyed your hair pink so you wouldn’t be embarrassed alone.
you share a room together in the dorms
that’s funny Guk.
never heard of him
o o o
The way Yoongi looks so happy and glowing is so mesmerizing that Seokjin’s grabbing his own phone to take pictures of him because he looks almost unreal and angelic. Sure, he can look cute and squishy but angelic is a rare word like a rare Pokemon trading card until you realize, oh, he’s just staring at Park Jimin at a distance.
Jimin in a toga and looking unbelievably happy puts a smile on Jeongguk’s face and more obviously, Yoongi’s.
The graduation is mostly picture taking and a lot of joyful crying. He gets to see Jimin’s parents but not really meet them but more surprisingly, Yoongi seems to get along well with them. As expected from him being Jimin’s beloved.
The after party, however, is straight up diabetes.
Yoongi is never really considered a romantic. He’s the kind of type who shows the ‘everyday type’ of love; showing affection by just small acts and Jimin’s the right person for him because he gets to see those small acts and feel like the happiest man ever to walk on earth but when a genius producer named Min Yoongi starts to sit in front of a grand piano up the stage of a highly recognized restaurant, he may as well make it up to the romantic list.
Hoseok’s video taping the whole thing but it’s mostly Jimin’s face just to see how he would react and it didn’t disappoint when Jimin starts laughing and then starts crying the moment Yoongi plays the piano, his fingers dancing on the keys and dedicating the performance to him.
“I’m in shock. I never expected this from Yoongi-hyung.” Namjoon comments while Hoseok shushes them while he continues taping. “He had to wait until Jimin’s graduation.”
“He’s quite the reserved type but today’s a special day for Jiminie.” Seokjin replies. “It has to feel special. Yoongi thought of that too and did something like this.”
When Yoongi finishes playing, Jimin runs up to the stage and literally jumps on him just to give him a hug and Jeongguk’s heart warms up at the sight.
He wonders if he could ever experience something like that.
o o o
hey, you don’t really know me lololol
wow i really think u’ll read this and think i’m creepy hahaha
sorry about this (i’m apologizing in advance so don’t call the police k?) you won’t hear from me after this
you’ll be graduating this year, right? time flies so fast~~~
it was just like yesterday when i graduated. i’m feeling nostalgic!
i don’t even know if this is your number hahaha
but thanks for everything if it’s the right number
… i love you, jeongguk
i love you so much…
o o o
He knows he’s dreaming because he’s not in Korea.
Organized and synced movement of everyday life, jammed trains, glowing neon signs here and there; one doesn’t really need anything more to see just to know that he’s in Japan.
When he was in high school a lot of people would ask why he wanted to go and see Japan while he just creases his brows and question that question itself because excuse me, haven’t you seen how awesome Japan is? Who doesn’t want to go there?
He’s in awe of the buildings, architecture and the overall rush Tokyo brings as he follows the steps of a very nervous Jeon Jeongguk who, thank God finally, looks exactly how he envisioned himself in the future.
Nervous Jeongguk arrives in a coffee shop in Ginza, tapping his fingers to the jazz being played through the speakers and shaking his leg up and down. Jeongguk’s getting nervous by just looking at him.
The bell above the door finally rings, a man in a white button up shirt with black suspenders enters the room with a stoic lady in office clothes. Jeongguk suddenly feels a little bit insecure because damn, that man’s rocking those suspenders.
What Jeongguk doesn’t get is that the man’s face is blurry, like a painter suddenly decided to splash some watercolor on the guy’s face to maintain anonymity and mystery.
It bugs Jeongguk. It bugs him because whoever that man is, it’s making Nervous Jeongguk even more nervous that he’s literally sweating bullets like he just ran from Korea to Tokyo in just three hours.
“I’m Jeon Jeongguk, I’ll be the engineer you’ll be working with.” Nervous Jeongguk says and he whistles at the profession.
“Nice to meet you,” The man shakes Nervous Jeongguk’s hand, his voice sounds unreal and it’s bugging Jeongguk even more because that voice sounds really familiar but the way it’s being drowned in imaginary water and static’s not helping him find matches. “My name is---”
Static. He feels like he’s in a broken television thrown in the middle of the sea. There’s ringing in his ears, there’s water filling them up and the more he tries to listen, the more the words contort into weird sounds until everything’s completely mute.
Nervous Jeongguk’s face is painted in red.
Who are you?
Jeongguk doesn’t know why but there’s an unexplained tightness in his chest and when he sees that unclear and unnoticed love in Nervous Jeongguk’s eyes, the tears just drop from his eyes and the pain wells up more in his heart.
o o o
“Jeon Jeongguk!” He feels the pain on his shoulder the moment he hit the floor because of some miracle strength that Hoseok somehow gained that he could actually carry Jeongguk off the bed now and throw him to the middle of the room.
He groans and twists at the ache but Hoseok keeps screaming his name.
“Ughhh, hyung…?” His voice is raspy but he doesn’t really care anymore. He rubs his eyes until they’re finally open. “What time is it? Why aren’t you at work…?”
This is probably why Yoongi slept a lot when he was in college. Jeongguk now acknowledges this, he now respects Min Yoongi with each and every fiber of his own being because working one’s ass off just for work really is an absolute pain.
“It’s my day off. The time? Jeongguk, you’re late!” Hoseok says, his voice mixed with a pinch of annoyance and a cup of panic. “Hyung Sik is going to kill you!”
Jeongguk blinks and through one eye, he catches a glimpse on the alarm clock and God help him, he really is late. There’s a fire alarm blaring in his ears so he mutters a curse before being burned awake by the clock’s stare.
“W-Why didn’t you wake me up earlier, hyung?” He asks, dashing through the room for clothes and then a tooth brush while Hoseok just stares through his hurried movements.
“Umm, yes? I did? Why is it my fault that I woke you up at the right time when you’re the one who chose to go back to sleep?” Hoseok replies. “I’m offended.”
“Okay, I’m sorry.” Jeongguk says back, packing his things and then heading for the door the second after. “I’ll meet you up again with Jimin-hyung and Yoongi-hyung right? Okay, bye!”
“Jeongguk.” Hoseok stops him and he just really prays that what he’s going to say is important because he can see Hyung Sik with a shovel and a casket, ready to bury him alive and it doesn’t help that his work place is near a cemetery.
“You’re not wearing pants.”
He takes a glance down, mismatched socks, bare calves and blue stripped boxers then he stares back at Hoseok, who’s biting his lip and is attempting to not laugh.
“Pants.” Jeongguk dashes off to the closet. “Pants are important.”
Hoseok fails his attempt and laughs.
o o o
“It’s your fault.” Yoongi states, his hand playing with the fries while he’s using it to mix both ketchup and mayonnaise.
“If I were Hyung Sik, I would vent at you too.” Jimin adds as he drinks what’s left of his Coke.
Jeongguk feels the need to defend himself but the exhaustion is clawing down his feet so much that he actually feels like he’s sinking on his metal diner chair and he sees Yoongi and Jimin being bright and all while stuffing their faces with grease filled fries.
He suddenly remembers college graduation when he felt so happy and accomplished and he was partly excited for the future in front of him but if the future meant working at a game company in a sub group department until late at night with a strict boss that can kill people (Why does he get all the devil bosses when he’s a legit fucking angel? Jeongguk’s not sure.), he’d choose summer movie nights back at college anytime.
“Ugh. I don’t want to talk about my boss now. Do you know how much coffee I had to make today and how many stacks of boxes I had to rearrange just because I was ten minutes late?” Jeongguk groans. He doesn’t really know when he formed a habit of groaning but groaning in these times seems really appropriate.
“I’m sure Hoseok’s having trouble with your shitty ass.” Yoongi chuckles with a slight shake of his head and Jeongguk doesn’t even laugh with him because it’s true, he’s sure that he’s troubling Hoseok with his job adjustment problems even if the elder doesn’t show it to him.
For the first few weeks after college, it was weird rooming with someone other than Yoongi but after he graduated, Jimin found a job in the same entertainment company as a choreographer while Yoongi already works there as a producer so both of them decided to find some place close to the building and they’ll live in together.
He wasn’t against it of course. He’s sure that Yoongi and Jimin need their privacy and he respects their choice but adjusting with a new room mate is hard even if it is someone close to him like Hoseok.
“Don’t worry Jeonggukie, I was exactly like that the moment I started working.” Jimin comments. “I remember Yoongi-hyung carrying me on his back on the way home because he found me collapsed out of exhaustion in the studio.”
“Yeah and don’t fucking do that again.” Yoongi ruffles Jimin’s hair. “You had no idea how much panic could rise to a person when he sees someone fucking lying on the ground.”
Jeongguk slightly laughs at this, even laughing seems to have become an energy consuming activity so he sighs afterwards, letting the tiredness show.
His eyes start to wander, from Yoongi’s black hair to Jimin’s mochi cheeks to the old wallpaper that the diner needs to change since it’s ripping so much but aside from that, not much has changed in their usual diner. They still meet up for lunch when they have time and the place still serves grease infested burgers that Hoseok loves very much.
He finally sees the one taking his shift on the counter. The guy looked young, his handwriting messy on his name tag and Jeongguk’s pretty sure he’s working part time. There’s another guy chatting with him in front of the counter, the way they talk suddenly just made Jeongguk conclude that they’re dating and he doesn’t know why.
There’s this sort of sparkle that even Jeongguk can see in both of their eyes that they belong for each other. He doesn’t believe in the shit William Shakespeare says about love but Jeongguk might believe it if he sees that certain sparkle.
That’s all it took for that conclusion actually. A sparkle in the eyes, a bright summer-like smile and…
And bags of Cheetos raining down his head.
He freezes. His eyes aren’t in the guys anymore but they’re stuck on open space, looking at the imaginary man his brain is trying to conjure up.
“Cheetos…” Jeongguk says out loud and he disregards whatever Jimin and Yoongi has to say to him.
“The Cheetos next door tastes the same as the Cheetos here though.”
“Cheetos tastes better when you’re the one selling them.”
“Jeongguk?” Jimin’s voice cuts through the echoing words in his head and Jeongguk’s head pops toward him. “Hey, are you that tired?”
“You should go back to Hoseok’s, kid.” Yoongi says, the fries nowhere to be seen.
“Is it wrong to buy snacks as an excuse to see you?”
“Why would you think I’m lonely here?”
“Because it’s hot and bunnies die when they’re lonely.”
The voice continues in his head, drowned and unclear, overlapping Jimin’s comments. The ringing joins in, filling his ears with a disturbing noise that makes his heart beat a thousand times faster, thump thump thump thump; it goes.
There are images flashing through his head; broken videos in a broken television lighting up the deepest parts of his head with blurry pictures of brown hair, a boxy smile and random Ghibli movies in the most contorted and disrupted fashion within the static. There are words piling up after like credits on a black screen, invisible inked messages and secret codes with bold love confessions along with----
“Jeongguk” It’s Yoongi’s voice bringing him back this time. “You should go back to Hoseok’s, yeah?” He repeats slowly as if Jeongguk doesn’t have the mental capability to understand whatever he said.
But the codes and pictures just won’t stop. The sounds are sinking and resurfacing the more he tries to bury them.
“Hyung,” He calls, the ringing lifting up from his ears in a split second. “Did I ever date anyone back at uni?”
For a moment, Yoongi and Jimin glance at each other before answering in unison like it’s the most obvious and certain answer there is. “No, you never dated anyone.”
“You were a nerd.” Jimin comments.
“You were too busy crying about your fucking finance test.” Yoongi adds, rolling his eyes.
“Are you sure?” Jeongguk asks back and when there’s a sudden pause, he couldn’t help but think that Yoongi and Jimin were either staring at him like he’s crazy or just judging him so bad right now.
“Where is this coming from, Jeongguk?” Jimin asks with his brows furrowing in confusion.
There are things I remember that didn’t happen.
“Well I’ve been dreaming about the same thing nowadays.” Jeongguk answers and he finally understands how Nervous Jeongguk felt like because now he’s the one tapping and counting his fingers. “I’ve been meeting the same blurry faced person and I kept falling in love with him.”
“Doesn’t that just mean that you’re just really invested in having a love life?” Yoongi deadpans. “Can’t blame me if you missed out too much in college.”
“No!” And Jeongguk may have said it too defensively because Jimin’s looking and judging at him funnily with a face that obviously meant: ‘yeah, I don’t believe you’. “It’s just that… well the one falling in love with him is always a different version of me while that me always falls for is the same person.”
Both of them look at each other again and then to Jeongguk. He’s sure he looks crazy, anyone who would look at his ten kilogram eye bags would either think he’s on drugs or he’s crazy so he doesn’t blame them when Yoongi and Jimin would think he is.
“Parallel universes?” Jimin says, tone rising up an octave in exaggeration. “You know, those conspiracy things when people see themselves and crap like that? One Jeongguk being less stupid than another Jeongguk?”
“I wouldn’t believe any of those shit.” Yoongi chuckles harshly. “I mean, can you imagine a better Min Yoongi in another universe? No shit. This is all the Min Yoongi you can get.”
Well Nervous Jeongguk certainly looked better than me so why not?
“Guk, not all dreams are important.” Jimin says, his tiny hand on his shoulder. “I’m just thinking that you’re not getting enough sleep.”
“...Are you sure I didn’t date anyone?” Jeongguk asks in one final attempt like the universe would suddenly bend and pour over for the words Jimin will utter to change.
“Nope. Not a soul.” Jimin answers. “Believe me, I’m your best friend.”
That sentence seems so wrong in Jeongguk’s ears.
o o o
>> a hypothetical self-contained reality co-existing with one’s own. A specific group of parallel universes are called a “multiverse”, although this term can also be used to describe…
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o o o
Jeongguk needs aspirin, paracetamol or whatever drug that could just remove his headache that won’t result in him going to the emergency room. Hell, he’d even take Calpol if Hyung Sik has one in his office.
He spends the rest of work hours angry, irritated and with a hurting ache that’s driving him insane. The blurry faced man is always in his head, taunting him and mocking him, trying to play detective with Jeongguk that it’s getting on his nerves.
He ends work with a grumpy face and thankfully, he hasn’t resulted in punching anyone because of the lethargy and the pain.
He’s angry at the universe and he doesn’t know why. It feels like he just realized that the world has suddenly done something unforgivable to him; like there’s someone just picking on his cracked pieced self until they end up taking that certain piece of him.
There’s something missing, something not right but what what what?
Jeongguk finds himself wandering in a mall. He’s not sure why but he continues window shopping anyway with a list of resurfaced flaws that cracked up his life.
1.Reality is shit.
2.Hyung Sik is his terror boss that’s obviously whipped for his bodyguard.
3.He must be driving Hoseok insane
4.Reality is shit
5.Even his dreams are shit
6.Blurry faced man
7.Blurry faced man
8.Blurry faced man
9.Blurry faced man
10.Blurry faced man
He’s outside now, his feet just dragging him to wherever it pleases. Jeongguk tries to hear every sound he could possibly catch, the traffic lights, the horns, the cars, the chatter of people, laughs of girls, tap tap tap tap and the clicks of phones; he just needs a distraction from his thoughts.
“Sorry,” Mutters a drunk man reeking of soju bumping on his shoulder and Jeongguk bites his lip, moves to the left and drags his feet.
Everything is heavy; his body feels so much like lead that it’s even tiring to get angry now.
He gets to the pedestrian, a huge screen displayed on the building in front of him with a news report on with a sparkly transition to the showbiz section.
The light turns green and he steps on the white painted stripes on the asphalt and then---
“This is your debut as an actor, how does it feel to work with other professionals known in this kind of field, Kim Taehyung-ssi?”
“At first it was quite difficult. I was used to acting in plays and it’s very different when you act on camera. Fortunately, my hyungs were really supportive and Minah-ssi, my co-star, really helped me with my acting. I’m very thankful for them as well.”
Jeongguk does not walk. He stares at the colossal screen above him. Brown threads of hair, deep brown eyes, a rectangular boxy smile --- Kim Taehyung.
He’s drowning again, thrown in the middle of a deep ocean with all the sounds he caught just fluttering away from his ears because it clicks; the jigsaw puzzle of the blurry faced man had Kim Taehyung as the last piece and he doesn’t know why those features and that laugh --- oh God, that laugh --- are so familiar that they’re eating him whole.
He doesn’t realize that he’s holding his breath, he focuses on the pounding of his head with the appearance of over exposed pictures --- cheetos, Rubik’s cubes, stars, ramen and changed passwords --- that’s just nothing but painful.
“Even if you aren’t golden or silver or bronze or any metallic shade in the table of elements, I’d still fall for you, bunny.”
The words echo and then he wakes up to a drop of water on his nose. He suddenly feels his clothes wet and sticking on his skin as the sounds come back to his ears. The light is red and people are running through puddles on the asphalt in panicked curses.
The rain gets heavier, a new blender with edge cutting blades is exchanged with Taehyung’s face on the screen and Jeongguk doesn’t move. There’s a scream stuck in his throat and his skin just burns at the contact of water.
He realizes that he’s a dead ant in the middle of a panicked colony.
He disregards the red light and runs to the road, stopping all cars and trucks with loud honks that are falling deaf into his ears. There’s a twisted song accompanied with a horrible ache spreading onto his heart with the same twisted lyrics on repeat.
Kim Taehyung Kim Taehyung Kim Taehyung
He’s frantic, cold and soaked in the rain when he gets into his apartment complex and he’s pressing his floor each second the elevator dings when it goes up like it’s going to get any faster. He doesn’t check if Hoseok’s on the other side of the door, no knocks and calls, he just swings the door open in a snap like a bat and throws himself inside the room. The water from his clothes keep dripping, he’s soaking the floor and the carpets that when he missteps on his self made puddle, he slips and lands on the wooden planks with a painful thud, painting his joints in a burning sensation that he hisses at.
Jeongguk brings himself up and forces himself to walk to his drawers and tables. He rummages them, throwing out drawer doors and hung up clothes and past projects. A mug filled with forgotten tea drops to the floor from his movement and it breaks, its contents mixing in with rain water but Jeongguk doesn’t care because he just needs something, anything that can prove that his memories are real, that the universe isn’t playing on him --- that he’s not fucking crazy!
He finds a shoe box at the bottom drawer of his study table along with Yoongi’s forgotten things and with haste, he rips the cover open to see colorful empty sticky notes that do not even stick at all.
Useless. His mind thinks.
Suddenly, he feels the cold overcoming his adrenaline and his body is contaminated with shivers that his teeth actually chatter. He drops the box full of sticky notes, decorating the gray carpet with color and it’s so flashy that it makes Jeongguk sick for some reason.
He’s forgetting something. He just is. Who is Kim Taehyung? Why does he need to know Kim Taehyung? Blurryfacedmanblurryfacedmanblurryfacedman.
The scream pours out of his mouth, reverberating across the room and making his throat raw and sore. He stares at at the table in front of him with missing drawers, a desk lamp, given figurines and an old Rubik’s cube Jimin had given him before, he suddenly feels like the scream is not enough, his body is hot and cold and prickling that he just needs to move around the room with his twisted thoughts; that he needs to break something.
So he does.
His arms swipe through the table like a wiper and the mess on the surface comes crashing down on the ground, figurines breaking, paper works messing up and solid containers crying loudly upon contact with the floor.
His neighbor knocks on the door. He ignores it.
Jeongguk’s busy eyeing the mess he made but he doesn’t regret breaking them. The questions are still in his mind but now he’s worn out like in one second he’s a burning flame eating up houses one by one to a small candle fire being put out by the wind.
He’s sad, angry, confused and just tired.
He falls on his bottom and for a while he’s just stays there, heaving and catching his breath with the fire just spreading through his lungs. Tears are welling up his eyes because he feels as if he’s broken --- incomplete.
Kim Taehyung Kim Taehyung Kim Taehyung
“Who are you..?” Jeongguk pants and shivers in the cold.
Minutes pass and the flame of emotions burn out. He forces to lift his already lolling head to stare at the room. Hoseok’s going to kill him of course but he doesn’t seem bothered by it anymore. He ripped some curtains and he threw some clothes. The bed sheets are undone and there are about ten fragile objects that he ended up breaking.
His eyes take a glimpse at the fallen desk lamp that’s surprisingly not broken and its light is turned on by the impact of the fall. A ray of light illuminates the color of the sticky notes on the carpet, brightening them into an almost neon color.
Jeongguk squints his eyes and his heart stops.
He brings himself to where the sticky notes are and bright shiny letters are staring at him under the lamp’s light --- invisible ink.
Jeongguk lifts up the lamp above his head, distributing the light evenly to the fallen papers and reads what’s written on each.
“Meet me in the campus rooftop at 10PM, we’re going stargazing.” Jeongguk whispers and he almost drops the lamp in shock. His free hand covers his mouth like he said some prohibited curse. “…what the fuck?”
His shaky hand scurries through the papers and brings another note to the light.
“Campus rooftop at 3AM with Jimin.”
“I’m sick, take care of me.”
“I have a test in chemistry, can’t hang out.”
“Meet me in the diner at 12 noon.”
He stops himself from getting more papers and his attention wanders on the Rubik’s cube on the floor. Jimin gave it to him one night but there’s something about it that’s just pulling on his nerves so he swallows the lump in his throat and tries to solve it, spinning the 3D puzzle and matching the colors. He’s not good at it and it takes him a whole ten minutes to finally solve it.
He finds a small ‘T’ on the very corner of a worn out yellow sticker.
“Taehyung” He says out of impulse and there’s light finally finding that sunken TV filled with distorted memories. “Taehyung gave this to me, not Jimin.” He reminds himself.
There’s suddenly hope in his veins and as he observes the puzzle more, he brings up the desk lap above him again.
There are letters on the cube, a phrase in each color in messy handwriting.
He drops everything in his hands once he reads them, the desk lamp breaking, finally.
You finally read it!
It’s Kim Taehyung
please just know
I’ll still love you if you forget
The pictures are clear and the puzzle is solved. The static’s gone and Jeongguk has found himself above the water, breathing and alive.
Kim Taehyung, the guy with the sunny smile and most beautiful laugh.
Kim Taehyung, the guy who’s dangerous, witty and goofy all at once.
Kim Taehyung, the summer he always wanted.
Kim Taehyung, the one he loves.
Kim Taehyung, the one who disappears
Kim Taehyung, the one he forgot.
There’s a picture smudged by rainwater on the floor and it’s the summer of his freshman year. There’s popcorn on Seokjin’s hair and Yoongi and Jimin look sleepy. Hoseok looks energetic as always while Namjoon just smiles. At the right side of the picture, he sees himself curled up under the blankets on the sofa with a boy with a smile too big that it reaches his eyes, all smudged up and blurry like how the man in his dream was.
This is Kim Taehyung.
He finally knows the reason of the pain in his chest. All this time, his heart has been cracking for someone his mind has thoroughly erased.
This time, Jeongguk’s heart does not crack.
It shatters instead.
o o o
You missed a call from Hoseok-hyung
You missed a call from Hoseok-hyung
17 voice mails from Jimin-hyung
You missed a call from Jimin-hyung
You missed a call from Jimin-hyung
Jeongguk? Is everything okay? Hoseok’s been frantic for a few days.
Jimin’s trying to call you, why aren’t you answering?
Why aren’t you going to work???
You missed a call from Seokjin-hyung
You missed a call from Namjoon-hyung
10 voice mails from Seokjin-hyung
o o o
Why aren’t you answering your calls???
Guk, this is fucking serious
Even Jimin can’t contact you what the fuck
Hoseok’s living with us for the past fucking week
Just because you wouldn’t let him in
You missed a call from Yoongi-hyung
You missed a call from Yoongi-hyung
You missed a call from Yoongi-hyung
Answer your damn phone Jeon Jeongguk
I fell asleep, hyung. sorry
You fell asleep for a fucking week straight?
Even I can’t do that
Where are you??? why aren’t you going to work???
Jimin and I are in the diner
Let’s eat for a while
Hoseok said you never eat what he leaves at your doorstep
Jin-hyung and Namjoon are getting worried too kid. All of us are.
I’m fine hyung
…jeongguk, what’s wrong?
It’s not the apocalypse
What??? Jimin and I are on our way we’re coming over
Don’t go anywhere or I fucking swear
Just… stay there.
We’re coming, it’s going to be okay.
o o o
No one needs to tell Jeongguk that he looks worse than all the world’s human feces combined together and as if to confirm his speculation, Yoongi and Jimin barge into the apartment (they broke the hinges and Jeongguk’s a centimeter close to calling the police and a possible restraining order) with the older man cursing upon eyeing his face.
“You look---” Jimin states, his eyes going up and down Jeongguk’s body. “Guk, are you---”
“I know I look like crap, hyung.” Jeongguk sighs.
Jimin’s surely taken aback from his tone that Jeongguk almost feels sorry but truthfully, he’s not. How could he feel sorry? Who even invented something that could cure and mend broken relationships with a five letter word? Sorry doesn’t bring Taehyung back, the one who created the word should’ve died a painful death because sorry ended up being more bringing more heartbreaks.
“Jeongguk,” Jimin calls and reaches out for his shoulder but Jeongguk shakes it off before Jimin could even touch him so his hyung simply retracts his hand in shock like he’s been burned.
“Hyung, I said I was fine.” He sighs again, half expecting them to just turn around and leave.
“Jeongguk, people who are fine do not shut themselves in their room and just cut off contact with work, friends and everything else.” Yoongi says.
This is hilarious!
Jeongguk laughs. He laughs and laughs and laughs until his voice hitches up, until the walls throw his voice to the ground.
“J-Jeongguk---” Jimin starts and just by the mention of his name, he feels something inside of him snap.
“Cutting off contact? Oh my God, hyung why are you so fucking funny?” Another laugh pours out of his lips bitterly. “Haven’t we been doing that? We’re perfectly fine aren’t we? We haven’t had a decent hang out since we all got out of that shitty uni. I mean, why don’t we all go to Seokjin-hyung’s place and cuddle with a good horror movie hmm? No. We can’t fucking do that because we’re absolutely fine with cutting people off, we’re absolutely fine that we forgot a person who has done literally nothing but make everything brighter and worth it and full of meaning but look what that brought him?”
Jeongguk’s pacing in every direction his feet brings him, his throat sore and his voice changing its pitch with each emphasized word. Jimin is terrified, his small hands shaking on his sides while Yoongi’s beside him desperately trying to calm himself down.
“Nobody fucking remembers a beautiful, beautiful person!” Jeongguk screams, his lungs burning in protest but he continues. He brings himself towards the box of sticky notes and old group college pictures, he couldn’t stand looking at them. “Nobody remembers, hell, no one tries to remember but fuck fuck fuck why!?”
He throws the box like simply touching it burned him. The notes fly in the air and blurry pictures are scattered on the floor, revealing buried memories no one dared to remember.
No one remembered Kim Taehyung in two years. No one did, not even Jeongguk.
Jeongguk doesn’t know why he’s so angry to the point where there’s tears just waiting to drop from his eyes and prickling under his eyelids. Was he angry at Taehyung for disappearing? At himself for not remembering? At Jimin? Yoongi?
He’s angry at all of them! At the universe!
He’s desperate to blame someone, he needs to scream at someone and at the world for doing something so merciless and cruel to Taehyung just by putting up some shitty phenomenon to mess things up and entertain whoever was watching them.
“Get out.” He scowls. He doesn’t want to see them or all those crumpled up memories again. But Yoongi and Jimin don’t make a move. “Fine, if you won’t leave then I will!”
He makes his way to the door, his heartbeat erratic and his blood rushing to his head but Yoongi swiftly blocks him and grabs his shoulder tightly and brings all force to his hand to shove Jeongguk back harshly onto the bed.
“Get a grip, Jeongguk!” Yoongi never yells but this time he does with a hiss. “Calm down.”
“Guk, hey, Jeongguk,” Jimin calls gently, slowly making his way to his shivering and panting figure. “Tell us what’s wrong, take a deep breath and tell us what’s wrong. I know it’s hard but---”
“Hard? You think this is hard, hyung? It’s fucking impossible! Taehyung… we--he, oh my God, why.” He buries his face in his palms, the words are finally stuck in his throat and the tears won’t stop stinging his eyes. “Two years, what could have happened in two years? Taehyung, what could have happened to---”
“Jeongguk,” Yoongi cuts him off and this time, Jeongguk takes a deep breath.
Calm down, calm down, calm down.
“Kim Taehyung,” He sobs and it’s painful to say. “We forgot about Taehyung for two years.”
Jeongguk lifts his head up.
Jimin’s in front of him and kneeling on the carpeted floor when he picks up a fallen picture that’s smudged with rain water. The elder runs a hand on the blurry face and his shoulders tremble. There’s a glassy sheen covering his eyes and when he turns to Jeongguk, his face is painted in pure horror.
“TaeTae,” Jimin whispers to the photo but his voice still cracks.
o o o
Jimin remembers Taehyung, not all of his memories of Taehyung but he remembers. It doesn’t surprise Jeongguk that much, what should he expect Jimin to remember with a tiny blurry picture? However, Yoongi remembering bits from it may be a good start.
They both spend the night and Jeongguk wakes up to both of his hyungs trying to fix something up in the kitchen with a bunch of murmurs creeping their way onto his ears.
“You don’t have to do this.” It’s Yoongi, his voice low and comforting. “You know I can take care of Guk here if it’s too hard for you.”
“I’m fine, hyung.” Jimin replies with a sniff.
“You’re not. Don’t give me that kind of answer when it’s a lie and when---” There’s a pause. “Hey, Jiminie, don’t cry.”
He hears Yoongi shifting and Jeongguk’s imagining his hyung wiping away Jimin’s tears.
“Yoongi-hyung, am I bad friend?” Jimin croaks, there’s a drop of a metal spatula on the counter. “Taehyung…what did he feel for two years knowing that everyone forgot about him? Did he predict all of this from the start that’s why he looked like wasn’t afraid? Did he predict that even I would forget him? Was I that distracted, hyung? Was I?”
Jeongguk peels himself off of the bed and slowly makes his way to the kitchen. Yoongi’s taking Jimin into his arms, shushing him and rubbing soothing circles on his back.
“We all made the same mistake.” He whispers. “But you are not a bad friend, Jimin.”
“I want to believe that it’s not impossible. Jeongguk knows it’s not impossible.” Jimin replies, his hands gripping on Yoongi’s clothes like a lifeline. “He’s just confused, we all are. It’s a huge shock and even I don’t know what to feel but if someone could bring Taehyung back then it’s Jeongguk.”
Jimin’s head suddenly lifts up and he spots him on the kitchen entrance. He pulls away from Yoongi and wipes the remnants of his tears.
“Hey, Jeongguk.” He smiles. “We were just fixing something up. Let’s eat together, okay?”
Jimin’s eyes look red and puffy and there are dark circles under Yoongi’s that Jeongguk suddenly feels bad after creating such an outburst last night.
“...I’m sorry, hyung.” He says sheepishly, fidgeting with the hem of his shirt as his head goes down. He feels his eyes stinging again but he forces himself to hold the tears back. “I really am. I was so angry even when you didn’t do anything wrong. I was out of my line and I’m just so so sorry.”
He doesn’t realize that he’s already bowing but Jimin makes his way towards him otherwise and embraces him.
“Did you hear what we were talking about?” He asks and Jeongguk nods with another apology. “…it’s too much to ask but can you bring my best friend back…?”
“What kind of person would I be if I couldn’t bring my boyfriend back? I’d go even if you didn’t ask. ” He replies. “But hyung, you can stop hugging me now. You’re too small and bowing while you’re hugging me makes my back ache.
“Yah!” Jimin pushes Jeongguk away with a chuckle. “That’s the last time you diss me in front of my face Jeon Jeongguk!”
“Well it’s true, you are small.” Yoongi comments and Jimin lunges back at him.
“You’re literally only a centimeter taller than me! Oh wait, that ain't it because we hadn't had a check up.” Jimin complains. "I'm clearly taller than you!"
“Aw, you're cute when you're in denial. A centimeter makes a difference, baby.” Yoongi replies, all smug. “Can’t ride on a strict 150cm and above only roller coaster if you’re 149.”
“149!? I’m offended!”
For the first time in weeks, Jeongguk genuinely laughs.
o o o
At eight in the morning, Jeongguk finds himself on a bus to Daegu. He hasn’t been to Daegu before, he could remember Taehyung telling him that he’d bring Jeongguk there after he graduates but of course, that never got a shot in happening.
He imagined going to Daegu with Taehyung, listening to music that Taehyung’s suddenly in to while riding the bus, seeing Taehyung’s home and meeting Taehyung’s family. The image is different from now in which Jeongguk just rides in a small bus after he waged war in Taehyung’s entertainment company just to have information as to where the elder is.
Yes, he did fight people. Specifically twelve security guards trying to escort him out. He should have a PhD in the Imitating Hulk course since he was one step close to being featured on the news as: “Crazed proclaimed boyfriend demanding for rising star Kim Taehyung with a stick”.
He sighs at the memory. It was less embarrassing in his head when he thought of it but now he realizes that searching for a lost lover while waging and bringing war with you only works in dramas where security guards don’t come in packs and the police always comes in late.
The only good thing his rash actions brought him is information. Taehyung’s apparently on break after finishing his drama and if he remembers Taehyung well enough, he would know that the first thing Taehyung would do is to go home.
Oh God, Taehyung.
Jeongguk sighs for the umpteenth time of the day. It’s becoming irritating and Yoongi complained about it before he got into the bus but what is he supposed to do? What could have happened in two years? Jeongguk graduated, got a job, is under a weird boss, changed room mates and addresses, he feels like so much already happened and the more he thinks about it, the more he starts to feel the inky black haze swallowing him up again.
If many things happened to him, then what about Taehyung? He’s a rising actor, there are pages dedicated to him and people made almost a thousand fan accounts for him on Twitter. Would Taehyung have someone else by his side now that Jeongguk’s gone?
The thought makes his head spin and it makes him feel sick. For a second he saw the world shift and spin. Does Taehyung have new people to spend moments with right now?
If that’s the case, then what should he do?
He shakes his head at the thought and refuses to throw up his breakfast from the nausea.
If Taehyung’s happy, then I’ll let him go.
And it will be the hardest decision he’ll ever make.
o o o
He pretty much accepted the fact that Yoongi and Jimin had their reasons for staying behind in Seoul (they had to make the others remember one way or another) but when he strolls around Daegu being nothing but lost, he misses Yoongi’s navigating skills.
Jeongguk doesn’t know where to start and of all places in Daegu he could have looked in, he ends up in an empty 7-Eleven near the park with a cashier that basically looks like he was stood up by his date and is now looking at Jeongguk like a murderer.
The cashier’s probably wondering why he isn’t picking any snacks and going to the counter so Jeongguk grabs his phone and pretends to text someone but opens up the internet in the process.
Before going to Daegu, he began searching again --- that shitty thing that’s been happening to Taehyung --- only to find limited results but he’s relieved to at least have results than none.
Specifically, he finds it on a site where ‘fictional’ (yes fictional with a quote) diseases are mainly the topic. He scrolls the forums within the site and finds out that fucking Hanahaki really exists and people really are coughing up and choking on flowers (Where the fuck do they come from? What the hell) and apparently, there were three more people who experienced Taehyung’s case.
Cause: Unknown but can be observed a few months after birth and can develop in early childhood
Cure: It fades away in a specific age
>> Person afflicted is believed to disappear for a few moments, ranging from three seconds to fifteen minutes. Thus called “flickering syndrome”
>> Person afflicted tends to look transparent or translucent
>> Person afflicted has their presence affected
>> The more the person disappears, the more his presence is depleted in people’s memory. The closer the person to the one afflicted is, the harder the presence is to deplete but in extreme cases, lovers, friends and even siblings tend to forget the existence of the person afflicted.
>> Parents of the person afflicted have been noted to remember them despite the number of disappearances. The theory involves parents having their own genes and cells given to their children, thus having a genetic and concrete connection to the person afflicted.
>> People who have their memories tampered by the Flickering Syndrome by the lack of the victim’s presence have a 50% chance of remembering their tampered memories.
ghostghostghost: i have a friend whos disappearing how can i….
Jeongguk stops scanning the article. He’s read it too many times that he actually memorized everything written on it word for word. There are a lot of war sections in the comments, mostly by medical analysts who believe that the sickness is mainly caused by mass hysteria and some other bullshit medical theory. If Taehyung didn’t even look transparent during college, Jeongguk would have sided on the scientific side those medical students are int.
But unfortunately, that’s not the case. Hanahaki may exist and others are choking up on flowers the more seconds pass and Taehyung did disappear, Taehyung did “flicker” away, Jeongguk did forget him.
He sighs at his phone. Where is he supposed to look for Taehyung?
The cashier’s moving on his direction (Seriously does 7-Eleven have a loitering policy now? What if he’s really just confused on what kind of cereal to eat for breakfast?) so Jeongguk moves away from the cereal aisle and maneuvers himself to the refrigerators to pretend looking at the sodas and iced coffees but along the way, someone bumps him on the shoulder.
“Excuse me,” The man says and Jeongguk stops on his tracks.
He turns back to the man’s direction; brown hair, tan skin, a black mask covering half of his face and brown eyes --- Kim Taehyung.
For a while, his feet are glued to the ground and he hears his heartbeat in his ears. Taehyung in his line of sight moves like he’s been under a slow motion filter and as he moves away, Jeongguk forces himself to just move but the anxiety is just welling up inside him that he just can’t.
Taehyung opens the soda can and lowers his mask before taking a gulp of soda fizz.
Shit. It really is Taehyung.
Jeongguk feels as if he’s back in university on the arts building rooftop. He sees Taehyung like he’s under the blanket of stars and all the bluish-black colors with an angelic smile and he feels like he’s going to cry because Taehyung.is.in.front.of.him.
Move move move move move
The blood rushes to his head, he doesn’t have time to think so when the electronic bell of the door rings to call out Taehyung’s exit, Jeongguk rushes not far behind. His hand meets Taehyung’s wrist and Jeongguk pulls at it, letting the elder turn his body to him.
“Umm, s-sir.” Jeongguk stutters. What the hell should I do? What the hell should I say?
With a light bulb hastily dinging above his head giving a last second idea, he grabs his wallet and presents it to Taehyung.
“Did you drop this?” He asks. It’s his wallet but he doesn’t know how to start.
Taehyung stares at it for a while before meeting Jeongguk’s eyes and just at that moment, Jeongguk forgot how to breathe. Those eyes, those are the eyes he loves so much.
“No, I’m sorry it’s not---” Taehyung freezes once he scans Jeongguk’s face and his eyes widen in shock with a tint of horror. “No, it’s not mine.” He continues, swallowing the lump in his throat with his voice going lower than a whisper.
Taehyung’s silent and then bows before turning his back again and walking away. Jeongguk’s out of ideas but there’s a voice screaming inside Jeongguk’s mind, telling him to not let Taehyung go so he grabs the elder’s wrist again with a little more force, forcing the man to face him once again.
The can of soda drops with the clink and Taehyung complains and tries to struggle but Jeongguk’s hand is tight on Taehyung’s wrist.
“What are you doing? What do you want? You know I can call the---”
“Kim Taehyung” Jeongguk cuts Taehyung off and the elder tenses. “Do you know me?”
Taehyung refuses to look at him, his gaze burned on Jeongguk’s hand on his wrist.
“No, I don’t.” He replies and he’s struggling again, shaking his hand off Jeongguk’s grip. “Let go!”
Jeongguk does the exact opposite and holds on tighter but it results to Taehyung thrashing his hand and body just to break free.
“Let go!” He says again and Jeongguk refuses to so Taehyung brings Jeongguk’s hand near his mouth and digs his teeth onto Jeongguk’s skin, giving him a hard painful bite that he almost screams.
Did he just bite me!?
The pain makes Jeongguk loosen his grip, giving the elder enough time to free himself and literally run away.
“W-Wait!” Jeongguk says after a curse before running after him. His years of running track in high school prepared him for this exact moment.
The thing is, Taehyung knows he ran track and does anything to keep his distance like making stacks of boxes collapse on the road and running on two second green lighted pedestrians that it’s actually hard to chase him.
There’s a layer of sweat covering his body, his hair is sticking on his forehead and his lungs are just absolute fire but he still commands his numb legs to run and until he reaches Taehyung, he’ll run after him even if his soles start to bleed, just try him.
“Taehyung!” He calls breathlessly that he doubts Taehyung would hear it. “Hyung!” He repeats, changing the name upon seeing young women grabbing their phones and bringing out their cameras.
Stupid, Taehyung’s an actor!
His mind curses at him, pounding in the fact that he might have actually caused a crowd of crazed fans chase after Taehyung and he might have started a stampede.
He follows Taehyung to an alleyway and the elder suddenly stops when a criss-crossed wired fence stands on his way.
“Hyung!” Jeongguk calls again and the elder looks back with the most panicked look and starts to climb the fence but his foot slips in the process and he falls hard on the asphalt with a groan.
Taehyung stays on the ground for a few seconds, his face marred in pain but when his eyes meet Jeongguk’s he quickly erases the expression and stands up to run again but a few seconds of the elder not running gave Jeongguk a leeway on catching up and finally, with the adrenaline still on his veins, he grabs Taehyung’s wrist again and his free hand pushes Taehyung’s shoulder to the wall to keep him from escaping.
“Hey!” Taehyung yells.
“Taehyung? Taehyung who? My name is Hayama Kazuo, I don’t speak Korean!” He replies in freaking Japanese.
“Then why were you speaking Korean earlier!?”
“Let go of me!” Taehyung says in Korean, finally.
The sudden change of tone makes Taehyung’s body flinch and the struggles stop with messed up pants and he slumps onto Jeongguk’s body like he’s given up.
“What do you want?” It’s a hiss or a plead, Jeongguk couldn’t make it out but it sends a shiver down his spine.
“Do you know me…?” Jeongguk asks again.
“...No, I don’t…”
“Don’t lie, hyung.” He retorts immediately. “Look at me, please. Please, Taehyung.”
Taehyung bites his lip and he does look at him, his eyes glassy and filled with tears begging Jeongguk to not talk anymore.
It hurts him, it hurts him so much to see that kind of pain in Taehyung’s eyes.
“T-Tae…” He whispers.
“I couldn’t forget you even if I wanted to, Jeon Jeongguk.” He says back in the most painful and rasped up voice that it sends a stab to Jeongguk. “But unfortunately, you did.”
“But I remember now, hyung. Jimin-hyung and Yoongi-hyung remember too and everyone else will so--”
“I’m not going back there, Jeongguk.” Taehyung hisses and he doesn’t mean Seoul in that sentence, Jeongguk is aware.
What Taehyung means is everything they left behind back in university.
“Hyung… I know I remembered late and I shouldn’t have forgot and I’m so so sorry that I--”
“It’s not your fault, I don’t blame you. You haven’t done anything wrong, Guk.” His grip on Taehyung loosens but the elder doesn’t make a move to escape.
“Then why…? Why won’t you come back? Why? Am I, am I not enough…?” Jeongguk is fighting in the borderline of holding back his tears and crying. There’s a whirlwind of emotions riling him up along with the black haze of anxiety gnawing at his chest.
He hurt Taehyung and the elder has a reason on not giving forgiveness to him.
“No!” Taehyung protests. “It’s just… just---” His breath shakes and each word that pours out of his mouth is just covered up in hurt.
“Then why, hyung?!”
“Because it hurts, okay?!” Taehyung’s voice cracks and Jeongguk’s is stuck in his throat. “Do you know how it feels, Jeongguk? Do you know how it feels when you’re standing on a stage for your own graduation and your boyfriend doesn’t even look at you? Do you know how it feels to have your best friend reply to your messages as if both of you haven’t met before? I knew it would happen of course but fuck, Jeongguk it fucking hurts.” Taehyung lets the tears fall and the last word comes out in a sob.
“You don’t know, okay? You don’t know how it feels to have someone you love so much to not even remember your face. You don’t know how it feels to be woken up by nightmares thinking that he’d be with someone else, that you would hold someone else like you once did to me, like you would kiss someone like how you did to me, like you’d say someone’s name like it means the whole damn world like how you once did with mine and it’s unbearable, Jeongguk!” Taehyung continues, sobbing in between words. “And I couldn't help but just think that my life would have been so much better if I didn’t love you, if I didn’t tell you I did. I knew this would happen, I knew you would forget but what was I supposed to do!? I love you too much that I can’t stand it!”
“And I love you, Taehyung!” Jeongguk says back and the elder’s face is clear in his eyes the moment he lets the tears drop. “No, I don’t understand the feeling but I know that I hurt you and I know that you probably never want to see me again but hyung, please, please give this selfish bastard a chance.”
Jeongguk suddenly feels the unfairness of such a disease. It’s nothing but unfair. Taehyung, who had done nothing wrong, had to experience this ever since he was born and the universe gets to decide what it wants to do with the memories they both made over the years and it just chose to flush them down the drain like they’re meaningless.
If his dreams are gateways to parallel universes and each Jeongguk falls in love with Taehyung then why? Why must Taehyung be taken away from him? Because he’s not worthy? Because he’s the less successful Jeongguk in the line?
If he could, he would have punched the universe in the face but he can’t. He can’t blame anyone and he can’t blame Taehyung nor himself for being affected too. The only things he has left are his feelings and his will.
And he knows it’s enough to bring Taehyung back to him.
He tries to open his bag pocket with shaking fingers and he manages to bring out the worn out Rubik’s cube and place it on Taehyung’s hands.
“There are so many things we have yet to do. I want to hold you again, I want to kiss you again.” He says, bringing his own hands over Taehyung. “I want to lie down beneath the stars with you again, I want to watch Ghibli movies all night long with you and visit your home and God, Taehyung I just want you back with me.”
o o o
Taehyung hasn’t spoken a word ever since his outburst.
He manages to lead Taehyung by the hand to the buses and now they’re on their way back to Seoul. Jeongguk doesn’t blame Taehyung for being hesitant, doesn’t blame him for his slow steps to the bus and sudden pauses that include staring it to space but in the end, Taehyung follows him.
They don’t speak for the duration of the trip. It’s just both of them and the sound of the moving bus and a horrible movie played on the front row of the vehicle.
He catches a tear fall down on Taehyung’s face and he shifts to wipe it away with the pad of his thumb and Taehyung lets him.
There’s silence, both of them aren’t speaking and that’s okay.
Jeongguk brings Taehyung’s head to his shoulder and he places a chaste kiss on the elder’s head before letting his hand find his. He gives Taehyung’s hand a reassuring squeeze.
Taehyung doesn’t protest. He just squeezes back.
o o o
Jeongguk knows something’s up because he sees Taehyung dragging his foot when they get out of the bus.
He waits for the man to reach him and he eyes his foot.
“Hey, is your foot okay?” Jeongguk asks and Taehyung looks like he doesn’t know what to reply.
“Oh, I think I hurt it when I fell down the fence, it’s no big deal.” He replies sheepishly. “I think it’s just a sprain.”
Jeongguk kneels down and tries to observe it. He’s no medical expert but he knows it doesn’t mean good if Taehyung winces at the slightest touch on his foot. He sighs at this and crouches in front of the elder.
“Come on. I’ll carry you on my back.” Jeongguk says.
“I’ll carry you.”
“Just get on my back, hyung.” Jeongguk insists and with that, Taehyung does get on his back, his arms snaking around loosely on Jeongguk’s neck.
They don’t say anything but Jeongguk could see through glimpses that Taehyung’s looking around the familiar neighborhood that Jeongguk chose. Their university’s in sight and Jeongguk remembers that it’s the same alley he saw Taehyung disappear but other than that, the street holds happier memories. Taehyung first got drunk at that small bar at their side and Yoongi and Jimin had to help Jeongguk carry him and stop him from stripping in all drunk glory.
“I used to carry you like this after we go stargazing just because you’d jump on me.” Jeongguk comments. “You’d take your phone out and it’s either a live or a selca.”
“Yeah, we used to brag about how in love we are to people.” Taehyung chuckles and Jeongguk cannot stop the smile creeping onto his face.
“There would be so many comments on the live chat and then---” Jeongguk’s sentence is interrupted by a distant bark.
Jeongguk tries to shove it at the back of his head. Surely, it’s just a dog playing with its owner not far behind them but he tries to rethink that thought the moment the barks started to grow louder and louder.
“Uhh… Jeongguk…?” Taehyung says, his voice unsure. “Can you like, I don’t know, run?”
“Huh? Why?” Jeongguk looks back and yes, it is a dog but it’s not playing with its owner. It’s a large dog that’s probably bigger than Jimin chasing them with its teeth bared at them accompanied by strong loud barks that sound so satanic that Jeongguk partly sees a devil in it. “What the actual fuck!?”
“Run, Jeongguk, run!” Taehyung screams and Jeongguk does run but he regrets the decision because the fucking dog started running on the speed of light after them like it’s the fucking Terminator. “Shit, Jeongguk, run faster, it’s catching up!”
Taehyung panics and the more he does, the more that demon dog picks up the pace. He swears that the dog took fucking track back in high school too because it can run faster than a bus and it’s catching up.
“I can’t run that fast with you on my back, Tae do you want me to drop you!?” Jeongguk feels the death coming closer with each dog bark.
“What? No! I thought you love me?! Don’t let me die in the hands of a dog!” Taehyung complains, slightly hitting his back.
Jeongguk turns back again and he never ever in his life expected that death would come in the form of a big black dog thirsty for blood that has the devil’s initials painted on it.
“Jeongguk run faster or it’s gonna partake on my butt!” Taehyung yells.
“Everyone wants to partake on your butt!”
“This is no time for your sexual jokes, Jeon Jeongguk! I have future dramas to film!” Taehyung’s hitting him harshly on his back and it doesn’t help their speed. Jeongguk looks back at the dog and it’s still behind them. “Uh, Jeongguk? The tree. Watch out, the tree, the tree, the tree!”
Jeongguk looks up front and there’s a large oak tree blocking their way and it’s too late to stop so when Jeongguk just switched off the running power in his legs, Taehyung gets thrown off his back and his forehead hits the tree with a loud thud.
Groans fill the air and the orange leaves of autumn shower upon them.
“Ugh. Are we dead?” He hears Taehyung groan in pain.
Before replying, Jeongguk catches a glimpse of the black dog passing them, chasing a white cat.
Shit so there was just a cat in front of us?
“No, no we’re not.” Jeongguk groans back.
“Ugh. This is worse than any action scene I filmed.” Taehyung replies. “That’s saying something since I die in a bomb explosion.”
“Oh God, did I just spoil next week’s finale on you? Don’t tell anyone.”
“Why is the ending so tragic? Aren’t you the lead man?” Jeongguk asks, trying to bring himself up but his body screams and stings in protest.
“Yeah, but people like sad endings.” Taehyung says back. “You know, dramas are harder to forget when they’re sad. The more tears is equal to more profit. That’s how it works.”
“Script writers are the real murderers.” Jeongguk mutters.
Taehyung turns his head and faces him. He blinks once, then twice and all of a sudden, he throws his head back and laughs, laughs like he has never laughed in over two years, laughs like he’s back in college.
Jeongguk has never realized how much he missed that laugh until now.
Within seconds, Jeongguk follows too and the autumn air is filled with laughs as the red orange leaves fall upon them.
“I missed you so much.” Jeongguk says and Taehyung’s laugh fades but the hurt does not come back to his eyes. “I really missed you, hyung.”
Jeongguk rolls to his side and he runs his fingers to Taehyung’s face and Taehyung’s brown locks with so much longing.
“I’m still scared, Guk.” Taehyung whispers. “What if I disappear again…? What if everyone forgets me again?”
“I won’t.” Jeongguk replies, finding Taehyung’s hand and holding it tightly. “This time, I won’t forget and I’ll make anyone remember.”
“How can you be so sure…?”
“Because I remembered you.”
Jeongguk knows this time that he’ll remember. He knows that Taehyung will always be part of him, that the longing he has for the elder will always come back and set his heart ablaze like how it always does.
“Run away all you can, Taehyung.” Jeongguk cuts him off. “Run away all you can. Run far away from me and to anywhere you want. I’ll always be there to bring you back.”
Taehyung smiles at him.
He misses him. He misses everything about him. That boxy smile, the way his hair feels so soft, the way he clings onto him like a koala, he just misses Taehyung for being Taehyung.
“I’ll take you up on that.” Taehyung says and Jeongguk squeezes his hand in reassurance.
From his hair, Jeongguk’s fingers ghost over Taehyung’s eyebrows and Taehyung’s cheeks until it reaches Taehyung’s lips.
He doesn’t think, he only brings himself closer to Taehyung and lets their lips meet in a soft chaste kiss. Jeongguk closes his eyes and he brings his hand back to Taehyung’s hair, bringing him closer to him. He feels Taehyung’s fingers on his neck, he leaves them there and just kisses and kisses Taehyung even more.
“I love you, Gukkie.” Taehyung says breathlessly the moment they part.
“Why do I love you so much, baby?” He asks. “What spell are you casting?”
Taehyung offers the widest grin Jeongguk has ever seen after two years.
“I have no magic tricks, Jeonggukie.” He sings.
This time, Jeongguk believes it.