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about soulmates and inevitable doom

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jungkook could write a handbook called What to Expect When You’re Sharing an Apartment With Two People Who Are Each Other’s Soulmates (Especially If You Haven’t Found Yours Yet and Are Kind of Bitter About It). but then again, he’s never completely certain which things are generalizable to all soulmates, and which are just unique jimin and taehyung things. 

the two of them turning out to be soulmates was possibly the least surprising thing in the universe. jungkook had already guessed it before moving in with them, before taehyung’s ballpoint pen incident on his twentieth birthday, so he supposes he brought everything on himself in a way. at least he won good money in the betting pool.

(taehyung brought the ballpoint pen to his skin to leave a message for his soulmate, but the thing exploded all over the back of his hand, leaving it coated in dark blue ink. literally no one was surprised when jimin’s hand turned the same shade of blue, the same streaks of ink between his fingers. he had looked at it and said, with a great deal of affection, “there are nicer first messages you could’ve left me, asshat.”)

jimin and taehyung may be the encyclopedic definition of head over heels in love, but a soulmate is not always a love interest. sometimes it’s a friend, a best friend, a sibling. for jimin and taehyung, though, it was so obvious. they belong in the lucky two percent who already know each other by the time they turn twenty, and don’t have to go through the trouble of tracking each other down via the messages on skin.

jungkook was already used to the gooey eyes and the pda and the sexual innuendos. they were already doing all that despite persistently insisting they weren’t a couple up until taehyung’s twentieth birthday, which was when they threw all caution to the wind and embraced their destiny as the number one traumatizing experience provider in jungkook’s life. jungkook learned to knock ages ago, but now he’s also forced to see the things they write on their arms. it’s not always r-rated, but when it is, there are demonstrative doodles.

(Chapter One: Expect Them to Forget Phones Exist)

when they are having one of their trivial yet needlessly dramatic fights, one of them will sink the ship he’s working on just to kill the captain, and draw or write something obscene on a very visible part of his body when the other is out. it is truly an experience to see jimin storm through the front door ready to kill a man with a giant, amazingly detailed dick on his face.

jungkook is fine with all of this. he’s fine with living with two people who are each other’s soulmates. he loves jimin and taehyung, and he knows they love him.

(Chapters Two to Twelve: Prepare to Feel Inevitably and Unreasonably Lonely)

it’s not that he’s lonely. it’s just that he feels lonely. and kind of jealous.

when you grow up with jimin and taehyung, you’re bound to feel that sometimes. while all three of them are close, jimin and taehyung have something else, something that’s just for the two of them. the connection they have is always going to be unrivalled, unearthly because it’s been written in the stars. jungkook’s been here for all of it; he’s witnessing firsthand what the bond between soulmates looks like. and he can’t help but want it too, because. who wouldn’t? jungkook’s soulmate, apparently.

jungkook turned twenty eleven months ago. for almost a year, he’s been trying to reach out to his soulmate. the first message he left, scribbled on his forearm where they would be sure to see it, was, i turned 20 today. after that, are you there? he used to leave messages almost daily. asking his soulmate to reply. telling about himself a little bit, but making sure not to disclose too much, because while the person is your soulmate, stranger danger is still real. doodling, sometimes. he never got a reply, and as months went by, he stopped doing it so frequently.

explanations for lack of response from your soulmate:

  1. they aren’t twenty yet. you can’t receive or send messages before twenty.
  1. they aren’t alive anymore. it’s grim, but it happens.

the thing is, jungkook knows for a fact his soulmate is alive and over twenty. this is because sometimes he gets random ink blotches on his hands despite not having touched ink all day. a couple of times, a grocery list has appeared on the back of his hand. his soulmate must be hearing him loud and clear; they are just blatantly ignoring him. this is endlessly frustrating and pissing him off more than a little.

one time, when he feels especially fed up, he scrawls on his forearm: i got your fucking grocery list. i have eggs and cranberry juice written on my hand but you can’t bother with a HI? he waits; but it’s not like he was really expecting to get a response. he writes, below his last message: you have a shit taste in juice, anyway, and goes to angrily scrub the grocery list off his hand, hoping that his soulmate will forget an item as the list will consequently disappear from their skin, too.

(he stopped being polite a while ago.)

“how can this person even be my soulmate,” jungkook whines to jimin and taehyung, not for the first time, “i don’t even know them and i know we’re different. they don’t even want to acknowledge i exist.”

“maybe there’s, like, a glitch, and they’re not getting your messages,” taehyung suggests, and when jungkook gives him an unimpressed look, he shrugs helplessly. “that could be a thing. i don’t know. i’m not a scientist.”

“i know how to test that theory,” jimin says from where he’s tucked against taehyung’s side on the couch, “just draw your face full of dicks for like a week straight. they have to react to that.”

“i guess the drawback would be i’d have my face full of dicks,” jungkook says dryly.

“that’s just how life is sometimes,” jimin merely says, “sometimes you find yourself at close quarters with more dicks than you’d thought, and you just gotta make the best of it.”

the infinite wisdom of university senior park jimin. jungkook feels like there’s a story here, but he thinks it’s best if he doesn’t know.

he’s almost desperate enough to follow through on the dick idea at this point. almost. some shred of dignity he still has left prevents him from showing up to class with a bunch of dicks on his face, though. however, he’s not above spouting threats, empty as they may be.

my friends told me i should start drawing dicks on my face to get you to reply, he writes on his arm before going to bed. he taps the pen against his arm impatiently, before adding, i know you’re there. aren’t you even a little bit interested?

when he wakes up the next morning, his heart jumps, because the messages he wrote last night have been scrubbed off and replaced with a sentence in black marker and handwriting that is not his own. he sits up, his heart pounding. it’s not a grocery list. it’s meant for him, finally.

his excitement dies as soon as he reads the words. it’s his own fault for getting his hopes up, he supposes. he shouldn’t have expected anything from the person who refused to talk to him for a year.

five words: i’m not interested in meeting.

jungkook turns both of his arms over, looks for additional messages, even though he knows there isn’t going to be any. it’s just the one sentence, which he reads over and over. he shouldn’t have expected anything, but it feels like a punch to the gut.

it’s so fucking anticlimactic it’s almost funny. jungkook pulls a hoodie over his head and covers up the message, as if not having to look at it would make him forget how bitter and sad and angry he feels. it doesn’t.

jimin and taehyung are up. jungkook hears the tv from the living room. his roommates are sat on the couch, jimin slouching against taehyung’s shoulder. they are sharing a bowl of cereal and watching an episode of that reality show where they help people connect with their soulmates, flying them out if their soulmate is from another country, and filming their first meeting. sometimes the people on the show throw a fit when the meeting is sort of awkward with all the cameras and the hype and they don’t immediately click within five seconds of meeting. at least you fucking met your soulmate, jungkook wants to yell at the tv. they all claim to hate the show. jimin and taehyung have seen every episode.

jimin hears him coming, and says, without taking his eyes off the tv,

“hey, kookie. the twenty-four-year-old figure skater who only speaks korean is about to meet the twenty-one-year-old photography student who only speaks polish. it’s about to get emotional.”

taehyung turns to look at him, and jungkook’s not sure if it’s his face or his body language that betrays him; it’s always something. he’s not good at hiding his emotions, and jimin and taehyung know him well enough to be able to read him like an open book.

“what’s wrong?” taehyung asks, and it makes jimin turn to him, too.

jungkook stands next to the couch, fiddling with the sleeve of his hoodie a little bit. he licks his lips.

“they told me they don’t want to meet,” is what he settles on. it comes out more miserable than he meant.

identical frowns settle on jimin and taehyung’s faces. immediately, jimin straightens up and reaches towards jungkook.

“what an asshole,” he says, pulling jungkook closer by his hoodie until he can wrap his arms around his middle and rest his temple against his ribs. “you deserve a better soulmate.”

“we’ll be your new soulmates,” taehyung says, and jungkook lets out a weak laugh. it sounds a little bit too bitter.

“i wish you could,” he says.

but you can’t choose these things. that’s why it’s called soulmates. jungkook just wanted to know what it’s like.

jimin pulls him down to sit in the narrow space between him and taehyung. it must look ridiculous, the three of them packed tightly on one half of the couch, but jungkook stopped caring a long time ago. he’s used to their lack of personal space.

“did you say anything back?” jimin asks.

jungkook shakes his head. he wasn’t sure what to say. the single line seemed so final. how they just blurted it like that, after all the messages jungkook had left.

“who says you need a soulmate, anyway,” taehyung says, full of resolve.

easy for you to say, jungkook wants to say, but that would be unfair. they are just trying to make him feel better.

“tae’s right,” jimin says, “you have us. we’re better than a soulmate.”

jungkook sniffles a little bit, but he smiles, and it’s genuine, this time. jimin and taehyung look happier now that they made him smile. jimin reaches up to roughly ruffle his hair.

“that’s it. fuck them. they are missing out.”

jungkook has no doubt jimin and taehyung wouldn’t hesitate to turn up at his soulmate’s door and fuck them up, if they had any way of knowing who they are. it makes him feel a little bit better. but as much as he’d like, he can’t just say “fuck them”.

“i wanted to at least meet them,” he mumbles, chewing at his lip and staring straight ahead at the television but not really seeing the twenty-four-year-old figure skater sob as she holds hands with her soulmate.

he knows jimin and taehyung are exchanging glances behind his back.

“then you will,” taehyung says, “you don’t need them, but i’ll hunt the fucker down if you want me to.”

 

/

 

jungkook is not sure how taehyung was planning to do that, and it turns out he doesn’t have to.

it’s a series of events that in hindsight looks a lot like fate.

he’s taken an interest in painting recently, and he’s been practicing on his own time on top of his classes, since all the painting classes are full this semester. he got permission to use the studio today, which is why he left later than usually. it’s also why he’s got a stripe of red paint all the way from his cheekbone to his jaw. and because his birthday is coming up, he headed downtown for some shopping instead of home.

in other words, lots of separate decisions land him where he is now. vaguely annoyed, standing in front of a shop window and using it as a mirror as he scratches at the paint on his cheek in an attempt to peel it off. it’s acrylic and it sticks. he gives up after a while, regarding his reflection with a look that says when will my suffering end. it’s a look he’s practiced a lot in his years of living with jimin and taehyung.

at least his soulmate is suffering from the same thing. it’s a small joy. he hasn’t written anything to them since they told him they don’t want to meet. it’s been almost a week.

he texts jimin and taehyung in their group chat, asking them if he should get the booze or the food, and jimin promptly tells him to shut the fuck up:

jimin [6:33]
we GOT IT kook
its ur damn bday how many times do i have to tell u we’ll take care of it
BACK AWAY from the stores
im not kidding i’ll call the cops on u

jungkook snorts.

me [6:35]
fine hyung

he still drops by the liquor store and gets some wine. as a thank you to jimin and taehyung or whatever. it’s a win-win; either they accept it, or there’s more for jungkook to drink.

he’s waiting for the light at the crosswalk to turn green, when it happens. he looks up from his phone; across the street, there’s a handful of people waiting to cross the road; he doesn’t think anything of it at first, but then he sees red.

among the people, there’s a guy, in a mid-thigh-length, army green coat, ripped jeans. silvery gray hair. a smudge of red on his cheek. jungkook stops breathing. he stares.

it’s too much to be a coincidence. the paint is flaking on the guy’s cheek where jungkook scratched at it. the moment their eyes meet, jungkook swears time slows down. he knows that the guy knows. the way his eyes widen; jungkook can see it even from across the road. they both know. jungkook’s heart is beating out of his chest.

the light changes. the guy doesn’t move. jungkook doesn’t move. people flow between them; and for a while, jungkook loses sight of him. no, he thinks. just that one word. no, no no no. he can’t lose him now, not when he finally found him. he cranes his neck; someone bumps into him, almost sending him off-balance; he sees a flash of silver and red, getting further away too quickly.

his feet move, and it has to be on some kind of instinct, because jungkook doesn’t have many coherent thoughts at the moment. he crosses the road, pushes past the people. he thinks he’s chasing after the guy as desperately as the guy is trying to get away from jungkook.

“please, wait,” he calls out, and it comes out a little bit choked, but.

surprisingly, the guy halts. jungkook stops, too, and there’s a good three meters between them now. the guy seems to hesitate before turning around to face jungkook.

he stares at jungkook. he looks like a deer in headlights. jungkook might be mirroring his expression. god. he’s young. maybe a few years older than jungkook. pale skin, silver hair. dark, triangular eyes. his pouty lips are parted. the same fucking paint on his cheek. the same red and white stains on his fingers, too. they stare at each other, and it’s the strangest feeling. jungkook couldn’t look away if he tried.

his mouth is dry. he licks his lips.

“you’re my soulmate,” he says, even though it’s obvious by now. the street is bustling, full of noise, but jungkook knows the guy heard him.

he also knows the guy knows what he means is: you’re my soulmate. why haven’t you answered? why don’t you want to meet? 

the guy looks at him. jungkook doesn’t dare move any closer. he feels frozen. when the guy speaks, his voice is unexpectedly low and a little bit raspy, and unlike any voice jungkook has ever heard.

“i meant what i said. i don’t want to meet. i don’t want to know you. don’t look for me.”

with that, he turns and walks away. just like that. he quickly disappears into the crowd, and jungkook doesn’t chase after him, this time. when he’s gone, jungkook sucks in a breath; violently, as if emerging from underwater, bending down from the waist, hands clutching at his knees.

he needs a moment. he just met his soulmate. met him and lost him. his words were like ice.

 

/

 

yoongi is out of breath and a little bit dizzy by the time he gets to his front door and shoves the key into the lock blindly.

this wasn’t supposed to happen. his soulmate could’ve been anyone from anywhere in the world, yet yoongi had to run into him on a random street in seoul on a fucking grocery run.

he shrugs off his coat and kicks off his shoes, never minding where they happen to land, and barely registers hoseok singing to himself in the living room. yoongi feels like he’s going to get a headache. he screws his eyes shut and pinches at the bridge of his nose, but when he closes his eyes, he sees the boy’s face like it’s been etched onto the backs of his eyelids.

hoseok is calling his name in the living room, having heard noise from the hall. yoongi moves reluctantly.

hoseok is sat on the couch, focused on something on his laptop, and he doesn’t look up as yoongi comes. yoongi detects phrases curling around his arms, decorated with tiny suns and flowers. the suns and flowers are a habit he and his sister have. yoongi supposes it’s endearing, usually.

“did you get the milk?” hoseok asks distractedly.

“no i did not get the fucking milk.” yoongi doesn’t mean to snap, but his stress gets the best of him. hoseok looks up at his tone, surprised.

“are you okay? what’s that on your face? that’s not blood, is it?”

he looks genuinely worried, and yoongi regrets snapping. he sighs and smooths a palm over his face.

“it’s paint,” he says. he pauses, stares vacantly at a couch leg. “i saw him.”

“him?” hoseok asks, puzzled. immediately afterwards, it hits him, and he perks up, pushing the laptop off his lap and onto the cushion next to him. “your soulmate? you saw him?”

when yoongi doesn’t answer, hoseok gets up, but doesn’t come to yoongi, just stands in front of the couch hesitantly.

“what happened?”

yoongi folds his arms tightly. he feels a bit faint.

“nothing happened.”

“what do you mean nothing?”

“i mean nothing. i left.”

he can’t stand to see the look on hoseok’s face, so he turns and ducks into the kitchen. hoseok follows him. yoongi can feel his eyes on the back of his head as he rummages through the cupboard above the sink. mostly just to busy his hands with something.

“yoongi.”

“where are all the goddamn glasses,” he mumbles.

“yoongi,” hoseok says again, more firmly, this time. it sort of breaks his heart all over again to hear hoseok use that tone. it bleeds exasperation, disappointment, and most of all, worry. yoongi drops his hands onto the counter. swallows.

“you know i don’t want a soulmate,” he says, not turning to hoseok, “you know how i feel about the whole thing. how could i, after -“

he feels hoseok’s warm hand where his neck meets his shoulder. he clutches at the edge of the sink, stares at the faucet that slowly drips water even when it’s off.

“i know,” hoseok says, “i know you’re scared.”

yoongi breathes in and out. they’d have to get the faucet fixed.

 

/

 

it has to be about a year now. since words started appearing on his arms, his legs, over his ribs. yoongi remembers reading i turned 20 today on his forearm, and thinking, oh, no.

there was a time he would’ve felt differently; a time where he left messages himself, waiting for an answer. but it feels like that was ages ago. lots of things were different. namjoon was still here and yoongi didn’t hate the month june.

hoseok gives him a look every time he sees yoongi with new words on his skin, before he’s washed them off. a look that means, in a very hoseok way, i understand, but for the love of god, stop. he thinks yoongi is hurting himself more now than he would be if he gave it a chance. yoongi disagrees. he’s witnessed the destruction that can come out of it. hoseok has, too. he was there. but he doesn’t think like yoongi; his soulmate is his sister, and it’s different for him.

yoongi wants nothing to do with his soulmate. doesn’t want to get to know him. it’s better that way, for the both of them.

(in hindsight, he shouldn’t have stayed in seoul. he thought about leaving that summer, maybe going to the countryside, or even somewhere farther away, like europe. leaving hoseok would’ve stung, but he would’ve been fine, he had his sister, after all. hoseok knew what he was planning, having found yoongi’s passport on his desk when it usually was buried in his drawer. hoseok was like a brick wall that night, the most unflinching yoongi had ever seen him, as he very clearly stated that he’d burn yoongi’s passport and put out an apb if yoongi so much as thought about leaving. he was calm, and then he was less calm, and they don’t talk about the utter mutual breakdown they had on yoongi’s bedroom floor.)

now, yoongi has scrubbed the paint off his face and his fingers. he watches the red water spiral down into the drain. it looks a lot like blood, and he feels sick again.

hoseok brings him a cup of black tea and sits down next to him on yoongi’s bed.

“what was he like?” he asks.

yoongi runs a tired hand through his hair. doesn’t really want to talk about it, but it’s not like hoseok’s going to drop it, and he deserves to know, anyway. he’s stuck with yoongi all this time, even when yoongi’s been too unbearable for even himself to handle.

“he was tall,” he says, still seeing the boy way too clearly in his mind, “brown hair. pierced ears. big eyes. looked kind of athletic. his voice was... soft, kind of silky.”

“he sounds cute,” hoseok says.

“he was,” yoongi says without thinking about it. well, it’s the truth. he has eyes and the guy was beautiful. but it’s not going to change his mind.

hoseok, next to him, bites at his lip, eyebrows drawn together.

“are you sure, yoongi,” he asks slowly, “are you going to let this pass you by?”

“leave it, hobi,” yoongi says quietly.

“don’t you think he at least deserves an explanation?” hoseok presses carefully. “he is your soulmate. he’s probably been waiting to meet you.”

as much as he’d love to argue, yoongi knows he’s right. it’s not like he doesn’t feel guilty at all. it’s not like he’s an insensitive asshole, although that might be exactly how he’s coming across.

he doesn’t have a chance to come up with a message that gets his point across, however; his soulmate beats him to it.

listen, asshole, his left forearm says the next evening. it takes up the entire space from his elbow to his wrist. yoongi lets out a quiet groan, and watches as words start filling his inner arm.

i don’t know what your problem is, but i think there’s been some kind of a mistake because i don’t know how an asshole like you could be my soulmate. i don’t even want to meet you anymore.

this guy is writing a novel on his arm. yoongi raises an eyebrow. well, he was right about the guy thinking he’s an asshole. the words are explosive, angry; seems like he’s a bit of a spitfire. yoongi chews at his lip for a while; then he picks up a pen, pushes the sleeve of his t-shirt up, and writes on his upper arm:

the feeling’s mutual.

okay, that was an asshole thing to say, granted. he was going to go for something like it’s not you, it’s me but considerably less cliché and cringe-worthy. he’s not sure what happened. something about this guy makes him want to provoke him a little bit.

something appears below yoongi’s message. your hair looked stupid.

yoongi snorts loudly. he’s picked up the pen again before he registers it.

your face looked stupid, he writes, and it’s not even remotely true, but if this is how they’re going to do it.

the next thing that appears on his arm is, don’t lie. i was more handsome than you thought, wasn’t i? the kid’s got some serious nerve and yoongi thinks it best to drop the conversation here. he doesn’t answer, doesn’t search his skin for new messages until the next morning.

all the way up on his shoulder, because the space on his arm is pretty much used up, it reads, in a slightly smudged handwriting: really, why don’t you want to meet me?

it’s an entirely different tone compared to the angry notes scattered across his arm. yoongi feels a pang of guilt again.

he’s aware this is the closest to a conversation he’s had with his soulmate. his skin prickles uncomfortably. he decides to come up with a suitable variation of it’s not you, it’s me in the shower. he needs to get rid of the scribbles, because there’s hardly any space left, and he’d rather eat his arm than let hoseok see the giant listen, asshole on his forearm. he’d never let yoongi live it down.

 

/

 

i’m really sorry you got me as your soulmate. i’m sure you’re a great kid but i can’t do this. i have my reasons. it’d be better for you to let it go and move on.

that’s what it reads on jungkook’s arm. it appeared there during his art history class. he could feel it, the faint tingle as the words came letter by letter; he can’t always, but he supposes it’s because he wrote a lot, this time.

he’s standing in one of the bathrooms in the art building, his hoodie discarded, and he’s baffled. i have my reasons? let it go and move on? is he seriously expecting jungkook to just let it go with this? this half-assed explanation?

seething, he digs a marker out of his backpack and scribbles, right there on his cheek with the help of a mirror because he doesn’t give a fuck: what are your reasons?

he doesn’t understand how anyone could be so reluctant to just meet their soulmate. it’s not like jungkook’s asking a lot, here. he’s not asking to start a relationship of any kind. he just wants to know, because he feels inevitably, unreasonably lonely.

he pulls his hoodie back on, yanks the hood over his head, and heads home.

at least with his birthday tomorrow, he’d have something else to think about. like the fact that jimin and taehyung will probably invite more people than their small apartment can hold and risk an eviction notice. (he doesn’t make friends easily like jimin and taehyung, and therefore should stop mentioning it every time he has lunch with someone from one of his classes because his roommates will file the name away under the label jungkook’s friends.)

“please,” jungkook pleaded earlier this week upon walking in on jimin and taehyung conspiring at the kitchen table, talking in hushed but not hushed enough voices since jungkook still heard them, and bodily shielding the notebook they had open on the table. jungkook noted with horror that their notes were color-coded. there was a venn diagram. “if you’re going to invite people, don’t invite everyone. yugyeom’s fine. and mingyu. maybe jooheon.”

“don’t worry, kookie,” jimin said with a grin that told jungkook he should, indeed, worry, “we’ve got this.”

they watched jungkook like a pair of hawks until he was out of the kitchen. behind his back, he heard taehyung stage-whisper,

“we’re still going to invite jackson, right?”

“no,” jungkook said, spinning around and pointing a finger at them, “no jackson.”

honestly speaking, jungkook would rather just spend his birthday with jimin and taehyung. maybe go out to eat, have a few drinks. but the two of them love organizing parties, and maybe a loud, out-of-hand party is exactly what he needs to distract himself from this situation with his soulmate.

at home, jungkook gapes at the bathroom mirror. truly in the name of symmetry, his other cheek reads, none of your business. first of all, the nerve. second of all, it so totally is jungkook’s business. the guy is his damn soulmate.

jungkook does what he has not been known to do: he takes a deep breath and counts to ten. he decides not to answer, not even think about it until his birthday’s over.

it works, for a good thirty-three hours. on friday, jimin and taehyung tell him not to come home after classes, so he hangs out at the library for about fifteen minutes until jimin comes to pick him up and takes him to a restaurant downtown, a nice place they’ve been talking about trying out. everyone they invited is already waiting at a table reserved for them; jungkook quickly counts seven people, which is not so bad, considering.

jimin instigates a happy birthday song; jungkook tries his best to shut him up, clamping a palm over his mouth, in vain. his entire face is on fire by the time he takes a seat at the table, and he thinks he might die, but his friends only laugh, and someone’s loudly asking if they can order already because “jimin made us come here half an hour early, like he was expecting us to be late, the sneaky shit.”

“you only got here a minute ago, jackson,” mark says calmly. out of everyone here, mark and jackson are the only soulmate pair, not counting jimin and taehyung. jungkook knows their story by heart, because one of them is always reciting it at get-togethers like this. mark is american, jackson is korean, and they taught each other their respective native languages, taking turns communicating in english and korean. mark moved to korea a year ago. the way jackson puts it: "to do his master's degree and also me". jungkook is sure he will hear this very line before the evening is over.

taehyung's skipping dinner because he’s at home, making the place presentable, as jimin tells him with a wink.

“we want you to have fun today, okay?” jimin says, leaning closer, finding jungkook’s eyes to make sure he knows he’s serious. “because of everything that’s been going on. just forget about all that for a while and have fun.”

jungkook smiles at him to let him know he appreciates it.

he does have fun. the shots start pouring in at some point, and everyone’s a little tipsy by the time they take it to the apartment. taehyung greets them with a proud ta-dah, and lights a shit-ton of sparklers, which jungkook is pretty sure is a fire hazard, but jimin just says, “don’t worry, we took precautions”, and points at a foam extinguisher resting against a wall. jungkook is not sure whether its presence makes him feel safer or more nervous.

jimin and taehyung really outdid themselves with the décor. their usually cramped living room has gone through a total makeover. there’s even a makeshift dance floor in the middle of the room. jungkook is afraid to ask where all the furniture went.

they hold a talent show which everyone’s too drunk for. jungkook is the over-powered judge and heckles jimin and taehyung who go full magic mike in the middle of the floor. jackson breaks the coffee table and two plates doing a backflip. they only have to use the foam extinguisher once, when taehyung attempts a flaming shot and sets his own sleeve on fire. jungkook dance battles a bunch of people on the dance floor, drinks the colorful mixes that keep getting pushed into his hands, and forgets about his shitty week.

someone pisses on the shoe rack that had been moved into the bathroom to make room.

it’s great.

 

/

 

it works for a good thirty-three hours. then it’s one a.m. and he’s sitting under the kitchen table with yugyeom, passing a bottle of wine back and forth and having the kind of heart-to-heart you can only have drunk under a kitchen table at one a.m.

“i don’t know, maybe they’re dead,” yugyeom’s saying, “i’m almost twenty-one and still nothing. i’m sure my soulmate’s dead.”

“that’s rough,” jungkook says and passes him the bottle. “mine didn’t talk to me until recently, too, though. and that was just to say he doesn’t want to meet me.”

“do you think my soulmate doesn’t want to meet me?” yugyeom asks in a worried tone.

“no, of course not. they’re probably just dead,” jungkook assures him. he frowns. “that’s not what i was supposed to say. your soulmate probably isn’t twenty yet.”

they have a clear view into the living room, where mark is trying to detach a clingy jackson from jimin and taehyung. they are all lying in the middle of the dance floor in a messy pile, while total eclipse of the heart plays apathetically in the background. he thinks he sees another pair of arms sticking out from underneath everyone, and hopes the person in there is alive. it’s how he ended up under the kitchen table in the first place: escaping with his life what jackson called a mandatory birthday dog pile.

“he’s an ass,” yugyeom declares more loudly than necessary, and jungkook jumps a little. “your soulmate. you’re fucking great. you’re a catch. give me a pen.”

“no, gyeom,” jungkook says, but yugyeom’s already crawling out from under the table, banging his head on the edge in the process, and jungkook’s laughing too hard to really put up a fight as he reappears with a pen and starts rolling jungkook’s sleeve up. “no, don’t, what are you going to write?”

“the truth,” yugyeom says, holding jungkook’s wrist, the tip of the ballpoint pen hovering over the revealed skin, “that he is a fool for not - what the hell? did you write this?”

jungkook looks down at his arm. the black letters swim a little bit, but jungkook’s not too drunk to read. happy birthday.

“how long has it been there?” he asks faintly.

yugyeom just grumbles and clumsily tumbles over jungkook’s legs, telling him to give him his other arm. jungkook’s only vaguely aware of the other scribbling on his skin. he’s still staring at the short message.

maybe he is too drunk for this. it’s just two words but it sounds like the most nonsensical thing to him.

 

/

 

if you saw something on your arm last night - it wasn’t me, it was my friend.

right. last night, yoongi’s arm had read: i’m a CATCH and you’re a FOOL. yoongi had had no idea what to say to that. it had been written upside-down and on his right arm, so yoongi had sort of had an idea it wasn’t his soulmate.

didn’t see anything, he lies below his soulmate’s message.

oh, good, his next message says. then, you wished me happy birthday.

i’m aware, yoongi writes, although the tip of the pen hovers hesitantly over his skin for a second.

i didn’t think you’d remember.

honestly, yoongi was surprised, too. he’d been feeling antsy from the moment the day changed and august turned to september, and at first he hadn’t known why. it was like an itch he couldn’t scratch. like he’d forgotten something, but couldn’t tell what. he’d gone through his deadlines in his mind. had wondered whether he’d promised hoseok he’d complete a chore by september.

then it hit him, staring at the bare skin of his arm in the glow of the computer screen.

he’d gotten the first message, i turned 20 today, on september first. it was his soulmate’s birthday. the fact that he knew this was kind of jarring.

he wasn’t going to write anything. really, he wasn’t. he’s not sure what came over him. it just kept bothering him, and it was just a happy birthday, anyway. it’s not a big deal.

he watches as the next thing spells out on his skin, letter by letter.

when’s yours?

yoongi narrows his eyes. he could easily ignore it, drop the conversation. he doesn’t.

not telling.

the next thing that appears is an angry smiley face. yoongi snorts. his soulmate keeps going, persistently:

how old are you?

nope.

be nice to me, i’m hungover.

i’m not nice, yoongi writes, wriggling his cold toes and wondering distantly how his soulmate celebrated his birthday.

ooh, are you sharing a fact about yourself?

yoongi snorts quietly. his soulmate’s spitfire, witty personality shows through, sometimes, little hints as to what kind of a person he is, which is exactly why yoongi should stop talking, right now.

shut it, he writes, instead of, you know, doing just that.

if i get a fact about you right, will you agree to meet me? his soulmate asks. yoongi arches an eyebrow.

definitely not.

surprisingly, his soulmate goes quiet after that. yoongi wasn’t expecting him to give up so fast, although he’s not complaining. still, he finds himself unable to concentrate on work for the rest of the evening. he feels uneasy all over, and keeps fidgeting in his seat.

accidentally running into him on the street was a crucial mistake. knowing what he looks like, being able to put a face to the handwriting, the pieces of personal information yoongi has unwillingly been exposed to, makes it harder to distance himself from him and pretend like none of this is happening.

(hoseok talked to him the other night. you can’t run from this forever, he said. watch me, yoongi had said, but it had lacked conviction that used to be there. hoseok had picked up on it, too, like he always does, and watched yoongi with the corners of his mouth curled downwards unhappily. yoongi hates that he keeps putting that look on hoseok’s face, but he’s not sure how to stop.)

it isn’t until the next evening that his soulmate speaks again. his arm was bare when he woke up around noon, which means his soulmate probably took a shower. yoongi is sitting at his desk, being antagonized by an unfinished track he can’t get to sound right, when text appears on his forearm, so small it almost goes unnoticed:

here’s what i know about you.

“don’t,” yoongi groans, as if his soulmate could hear him, and looks around his desk for a pen. by the time he gets his hands on one, there are two full sentences on his arm, and more are forming nonstop.

i know you’re korean. you likely live in seoul.

i’d say 23-26?

male, although that’s assuming gender? tell me if i’m wrong.

you probably write a lot. your handwriting is that of a person who writes fast to keep up with their thoughts. do you write for a living?

i know you work at night. i study until dawn sometimes and get ink stains on my fingers even though i use pencils.

i know you like cranberry juice (why?)

yoongi’s mouth hangs a little bit open. he wasn’t expecting his soulmate to go all sherlock holmes on him.

was i right? 6/6?

he lets out a huff of air through his nose. it could be a scoff or a chuckle. he’s not entirely sure himself at this point. five out of six, he thinks. (the juice is for hoseok.)

the text reaches around almost his entire forearm. his eyes fixate on one word. so he’s a student, he thinks. makes sense, considering his age. he might’ve told yoongi earlier, somewhere along the year, when yoongi was trying not to read any messages, erasing them as soon as he saw them like the ink or the marker was something hazardous. he wonders, briefly, if he ever told yoongi his name.

it’s all because yoongi saw his face. he wonders if it’s a soulmate thing, courtesy of the bond or whatever, if you just can’t forget once you’ve seen their face. or if the guy was simply too beautiful and yoongi is simply too gay to forget him. it could be either one. honestly. in any case, seeing his face fucked everything up.

yoongi knows he shouldn’t, yet he does it, anyway.

what do you study? he writes on his palm, and then proceeds to fling the pen across his desk, angry and confused as to why he did it.

he’s not curious about this guy. he swears he isn’t as he checks his hands, arms, legs for a response. swears he isn’t disappointed when there isn’t one. fine. if he’s ignoring yoongi, yoongi is going to go back to ignoring him, too. talking to him is against every one of his principles, anyway. he isn’t supposed to get to know him. god. what is he thinking.

he steers his gaze back to the computer screen and tries to be productive. he probably would have succeeded, if he hadn’t, half an hour later, noticed the words along the side of his thumb. it says: pull up your shirt.

yoongi blinks at it once, twice. that’s... a weird thing to say.

he only pretends for a couple of minutes that he isn’t going to do exactly what the message says. he curses out loud, and gets up to go click the lights on. he curls his fingers in the hem of his t-shirt, and very cautiously pulls it up, gaze fixed downwards.

he sees colors. red and blue and pink and green. it’s flowers, he realizes, two of them, on the left side of his stomach, growing towards his ribs. their pedicels dip under the waistband of yoongi’s sweats, and he hooks a thumb under the waistband, pulling them down a little bit. it reaches just past his hipbone. even further down - near the juncture of his thigh and crotch, there’s something in black - yoongi tugs his pants and his boxer briefs even lower, only to find it’s a fucking winking smiley face.

“cheeky brat,” yoongi mumbles under his breath, and does not blush, even in the slightest. really.

the flowers, though - it’s done with markers, but it looks like one of those watercolor tattoos, expertly done. it looks beautiful, yoongi thinks, the petals on his ribs detailed and colorful and the leaves reaching out and curling gracefully.

he wonders, hazily, how the drawing looks on his soulmate. imagines him drawing it on himself, drawing the winky face at the juncture of his thigh -

on the side of his index finger, it reads, do you like it?

yoongi’s stomach feels tight, a little bit. he writes, in the empty space on the back of his hand, you’re an art student? it makes sense. he remembers seeing doodles on his arm, and they were clearly done by someone who’s been drawing for a long time. after a moment, he adds, don’t appreciate the winky face. he swears he’s calm. his pulse is normal. he swears.

yup, with a focus on drawing, comes an answer. though i’m interested in painting. anticipate more paint stains on your hands.

great, yoongi thinks faintly.

 

/

 

the next morning, their chat is gone, but the flowers remain. yoongi knows they are going to inevitably fade; but avoids spreading soap directly on the drawing when he showers, anyway. it looks nice. so sue him.

give me a comprehensive list of reasons you can’t meet me. if i decide they’re not good enough, you owe me a date.

 

/

 

not a date. why would i want to go on a date with you. but you owe me a meeting.

 

/

 

i’m still waiting on that list of reasons.

 

/

 

namjoon’s birthday comes and goes. yoongi spends it in the studio, overworking himself and pretending like he isn’t.

“are we going to ilsan today?” hoseok asks him on the phone around what must be noon judging by the amount of sunlight through the cracked blinds and the bitterness of the coffee.

“no,” yoongi says, his voice flat and dead, and doesn’t bother with half-excuses like work, because it’s hoseok. “you can go without me.”

he knows hoseok won’t, but he wants to let him know he can if he wants to.

“we’ll go later,” hoseok says softly, as expected.

hoseok comes over in the afternoon to moderate his caffeine intake and to bring him food. they eat in silence, and hoseok hangs around afterwards, just hanging in the back of the room fucking around on his phone and whatnot, letting yoongi work. it’s because he’s worried, no doubt, but maybe also because he doesn’t want to be alone, either.

“’list of reasons’?” hoseok tilts his head sideways to read the text on yoongi’s arm, having grown bored of just sitting in the back.

“he wants a list of reasons why i can’t meet him,” yoongi says absently, leaning his jaw on his palm heavily and twirling a pen between his fingers.

“you didn’t really give him an explanation at all, did you,” hoseok says like he’s not surprised.

yoongi winces.

“i’m working on it,” he mumbles.

hoseok is quiet. yoongi doesn’t lift his gaze from the computer screen, but he knows he’s being observed.

“hmm,” hoseok says after a while, apparently arriving to some conclusion. “i think you should meet him.”

“hobi -“

“just to explain yourself, if nothing else,” hoseok says, “you know he’s not going to stop asking, right?”

yoongi bites down hard on his lip. hoseok’s fingers brush against the nape of his neck.

“i’m taking the coffeemaker with me,” he says, “you’ve had enough to last you for, like, the next three to four days.”

(he hasn’t told hoseok, but the truth is that he still dreams about it sometimes. the phone call he got from hoseok at the airport, and how he tried to reach namjoon up until he was threatened to be removed from the plane. the way they pulled the body out of the river, and how he lost two friends in just one day.

he thinks he’ll always blame himself for not being in seoul when it happened. wonder if things would've gone differently, had he been there.)

 

/

 

fine, jungkook’s arm reads.

he stares down at it until his grip on his pencil loosens, and it falls to the floor with a quiet clatter. a quick glance around tells him no one noticed; everyone’s too busy sketching the model, and jungkook just picks it up, slightly flustered, before glancing at his arm again.

  1. 30 mins tops
  2. no heart-to-heart. no getting to know each other
  3. you’ll see i’m not a person you’d even want to know.

it kind of sounds like they are setting up a sex date or something. jungkook tugs his sleeve down. it’s not exactly the best possible response; but his soulmate agreed to meet, and it’s a huge step forward. jungkook feels unbelievably nervous, suddenly. his heart is running a marathon and his fingers feel clammy, and it’s hard to get the pencil to move the way he wants on the paper.

jimin and taehyung are home when he gets there, thank god, because he needs the emotional support. he stomps over to the couch where they are curled up and arguing over the plot holes in whatever movie is playing on the tv.

“all i’m saying is, the woman gave birth to a mouse and no one questioned it,” taehyung is saying, and then jungkook is shoving his arm in their faces.

there’s a few seconds of silence, only filled by the background noise from the tv, as his roommates’ eyes flick over the text.

“did you set up a sex date?” jimin asks blankly.

no,” jungkook says, “he’s saying he’ll meet me. for half an hour or whatever, but he’ll meet me.”

“holy shit,” taehyung says, and sits up straighter.

“woah, kookie,” jimin agrees, “how do you feel?”

“nauseous,” jungkook says truthfully.

“no wonder, this is a big deal,” taehyung says, and it only works to intensify jungkook’s anxiety.

“what am i supposed to do,” he asks, and plops down right where he’s standing, tipping backwards until his back hits the carpet, his arms flopping to the sides uselessly. he is able to do this because they don’t have a coffee table anymore. thanks, jackson. “what are we supposed to do? what are we supposed to talk about? ‘no getting to know each other’? are we supposed to stare at each other in silence for thirty minutes?”

“this seems, indeed, like the trickiest date i’ve ever had to plan,” taehyung says thoughtfully, and jungkook raises his head so fast he hears something crack in his neck.

“you’re not planning anything,” he says, “and it’s not a date.”

“how about starting with coffee to create an atmosphere,” jimin says, like jungkook did not just speak, “some place small and comfy. with good but not distracting music. maybe he’ll get in the mood to tell you something about himself.”

“it definitely has to be an open, public space,” taehyung says, “i don’t trust him.”

“agreed,” jimin nods.

“and we’ll have to shadow them to make sure he doesn’t try anything weird.”

“obviously.”

“i’m right here,” jungkook says weakly from the floor.

“and if he behaves like an asshole, don’t hesitate to clock him in the face just because he’s your soulmate,” jimin says, actually directed at jungkook, now, and taehyung nods passionately.

“maybe you should arm yourself,” he suggests, “you can have my baseball bat.”

“what the fuck,” jungkook says at the ceiling.

 

/

 

they set up a meeting for this saturday. they exchange all of three messages about it: how about at sunspot on saturday? you know where it is? / yes. 4pm ok / ok. jungkook’s been waiting for this over a year, but it still feels like too soon.

it’s pretty fucking far from a date - like jungkook would ever go out with someone so rude - but he still finds himself staring at his wardrobe hours before the agreed time, his fingers drumming a nervous rhythm against the door, feeling like he just might throw up his insides and wondering how he never noticed he doesn’t own a single piece of clothing that doesn’t look like garbage.

it was taehyung who had told him, quote unquote, “the best revenge is to look so fucking bomb he regrets ever being rude to you.”

jungkook regrets listening to him, because now he’s thinking taehyung is right and having a mild crisis and he needs help. it takes him about one point two seconds to decide he can’t turn to jimin and taehyung, because their fashion choices are questionable at best. jimin’s solution is usually to wear as little as is possible without getting arrested for public indecency, and taehyung wears shit like leopard print fur coats and neon. while they somehow manage to pull it off, it doesn’t mean jungkook can. so he texts his third closest friend.

me [1:32]
hey out of everything ive worn what makes me look the best
asking for a friend

yugyeom [1:34]
how does “asking for a friend” even work here
it makes no sense

me [1:34]
yes it does shut up and help me

yugyeom [1:35]
u got a date???

me [1:35]
no
im just
meeting with my soulmate

yugyeom [1:36]
BITC U WHAT?????????
he wanted to finally meet?????

me [1:37]
he wasnt exactly enthusiastic so theres that
guess i wore him down

yugyeom [1:37]
this is huge
so its not a date but u still wanna look good for him?

me [1:37]
NOT.........for him.....just....wanna rub it in his face a bit u know

yugyeom [1:38]
got ya buddy
definitely those dark jeans the tight ones with the holes in them those make ur legs look like ohhhhh boi
and ummm
the loose white button up and that bomber jacket maybe

me [1:39]
u have a thing for me dont u gyeom

yugyeom [1:40]
in ur dreams boi
maybe ur thighs a lil bit
hey good luck with ur non-date
dont hesitate to sock him in the face if hes an ass

me [1:41]
everyone keeps saying that

 

/

 

it’s what he ends up wearing to the meeting that might be a complete disaster. jungkook kind of feels like it already is as he approaches the sunspot café feeling all kinds of nervous. it’s not a date, and somehow that makes him more nervous, because at least a date follows some kind of a script. jungkook has no idea what’s going to happen. he just hopes his soulmate will at least show up. they haven’t exchanged a single word since thursday when they set up the meeting.

jimin insisted on doing something to his hair, and jungkook insisted on just washing and combing it, and it resulted in a melee that lasted all of twenty minutes and ended when they both got hairspray in their eyes.

jimin had his way in the end, and jungkook has to admit it looks kind of good. he thinks he looks casual enough to not look like he’s trying all that hard, but still, maybe, double-take-worthy. if anyone asks, he didn’t spend more than fifteen minutes on this. taehyung tried to offer him the baseball bat again, and jungkook offered to shove it down his throat. he’s pretty sure they weren’t serious about shadowing them. he’s about seventy-five percent sure.

he’s ten minutes early, which could probably be considered embarrassing if jungkook had any capacity left to give a shit. his soulmate, of course, isn’t here yet. he orders a coffee, dumps a kilo of sugar in it, and finds a table by the window. there isn’t a specific reason he chose this place, other than it’s reasonably close to where he lives. he’s been here a few times and it’s nice. he likes the atmosphere. so it might be “small and comfy” or whatever. it’s just a coincidence.

ten minutes later his coffee is half done and getting colder and his soulmate is nowhere to be seen. he’s standing me up, the voice in the back of his mind is going, i knew it, it’s not like he wanted to meet in the first place -

but then there’s a tinkle as the door opens and a familiar figure with silvery hair steps into view. (jungkook wonders what it is with the fact that the other seems so familiar, like jungkook’s had months to memorize his face, despite only having seen him once.)

jungkook swallows as his soulmate’s eyes settle on him. jungkook can’t read his face, but he imagines him having some sort of an internal struggle before walking over. jungkook’s heart is thudding, and he’s trying to will it to calm the fuck down. he’s also trying not to check him out as he moves languidly, hovers by the table for a moment, and finally sits down across from jungkook. it’s just... sort of more obvious now that he’s hot. he’s wearing plaid under a leather jacket and it looks good on him. his skin looks like porcelain and his hair doesn’t really look stupid at all. jungkook is kind of mad because he’s supposed to be the one who looks hot here.

the seconds that tick by feel like years and neither of them has said anything yet. jungkook is not sure what to do. should they shake hands? introduce themselves? they do neither, as his soulmate’s eyes drop to the cup of coffee between jungkook’s hands.

“i already ordered,” jungkook says, his fingers tightening around the cup. “you should, too.”

his eyes flick back to jungkook’s face.

“i’m good,” he says. his voice hits jungkook in a weird way, like he’d forgotten about how low it is and the unique lilt he has to it.

“no, we agreed to have coffee,” jungkook says, tilting his chin up, because he’s putting his damn foot down, “so you should order.”

his soulmate quirks an eyebrow. he just looks at jungkook, for a while, and when he gets up, jungkook half expects him to walk straight out the door; but he heads for the counter, to jungkook’s relief.

jungkook lets out a long breath. he steals a glance at the silvery-haired man at the counter, and finds him looking back at him. they both look away at the same time. jungkook slumps a little bit in his seat. he kind of wishes there was alcohol in his coffee. maybe they should’ve met at a bar?

two cups are set on the table. jungkook looks up at his soulmate, puzzled.

“brought you a fresh one,” he mumbles.

“oh.” jungkook blinks at the extra coffee. it’s the last thing he expected. “thanks.”

but it’s like his soulmate feels the need to cancel out the nice gesture with a shitty one because he states, as soon as he sits down,

“what i said still stands. i’m not here to get to know you. just to explain why i can’t.”

jungkook sucks in a breath and narrows his eyes. they eye each other for a moment, steam from the coffee floating between them.

“fine,” he huffs. “are you going to tell me your name, at least?”

his soulmate looks conflicted, for a while. finally, the tip of a tongue wets his bottom lip, and he says,

“yoongi.”

yoongi.

“jungkook,” jungkook says. “nice to meet you, soulmate, i guess.”

it’s kind of strange, finally being able to call the other something else than “soulmate”. yoongi, jungkook thinks, and can’t stop repeating the name in his mind for the longest time. he wonders if yoongi feels the same way. his face isn’t showing anything, he just looks kind of stiff and slightly pained.

“so are you going to tell me if the things i guessed about you were correct?” jungkook asks, because yoongi doesn’t seem like he’s going to initiate conversation.

yoongi looks up from his coffee, eyebrow arched slightly.

“i thought i said no getting to know each other,” he says, and the nervousness prickling under jungkook’s skin is quickly getting replaced by annoyance, maybe even anger.

“what’s your deal?” he all but snaps. “why did you even come here?”

he thought his straightforwardness would piss yoongi off, but to his surprise, he barely reacts. his eyes flick down again, landing somewhere around jungkook’s fingers clutching at the cup of coffee.

“i thought you’d probably deserve an explanation,” yoongi says, kind of uneasily, “you wanted a soulmate. i get it. i just can’t be one for you.”

jungkook chews on his lip. he has no idea what yoongi is saying, to be frank.

“why are you so against it?” he asks. yoongi blinks at him blankly.

“some shit happened,” he says elusively.

when he doesn’t elaborate, jungkook scoffs incredulously.

“some shit happened and it made you, what, stop believing in love? in friendship? in getting to know people?”

something in yoongi’s eyes shift. the next second he’s leaning closer, forearms against the table to support himself, and his eyes are so intense jungkook freezes, for a moment.

“the soulmate system is poisonous. it’s unhealthy. i’ve seen it, okay? what it can do to people. it can destroy them. i want nothing to do with it. it would be better for you, too, to forget about the system, stop reaching out to me, and move on with your life.”

yoongi doesn’t raise his voice, but there’s a different kind of heat behind his words. when he’s done, he leans back again, shoulders slumping a little bit. jungkook finds himself just staring, unable to find words. he wants to ask what yoongi means when he says it can destroy people. he’s never once thought of the soulmate system that way; he grew up watching jimin and taehyung, and never thought the soulmate bond could be a bad thing.

“my roommates are soulmates,” he says finally. it comes out quieter than he meant, and he clears his throat. “i don’t know what you mean by poisonous and unhealthy, i really don’t, because they are very near perfect. they are happy.”

“they always are,” yoongi says and sighs. he doesn’t tell jungkook what he means by that, either. the heat is gone, and when he looks at jungkook, he just seems tired. “listen, i’m sure you’re a great kid, but i’m not going to change my mind about this whole thing. when i say i can’t get to know you, i mean it. let’s leave it at that, okay?”

it feels like the conversation is over. it really feels like it’s over when yoongi gets up, hovers for a bit, not quite looking at jungkook, like he’s trying to decide whether to say something more. he taps his fingers against the surface of the table shortly.

“sorry, kid,” he says, and it sounds like he might actually mean it. jungkook watches his retreating back. his heart is beating hard, it has the entire time. he presses his fingers flat against the table like he’s trying to phase them through it. this doesn’t feel right.

he makes a decision. the second yoongi is out of the door, jungkook springs up and strides after him.

“hey!” he calls, and watches as yoongi visibly falters, and then continues walking. he doesn’t pick up his pace, however, and jungkook catches up to him after a short half-jog.

“you’re persistent, aren’t you,” yoongi mumbles, not sparing a glance at jungkook, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket.

“glad you noticed,” jungkook says dryly. “you said i deserved an explanation, but that had to be the shittiest explanation i’ve ever heard.”

yoongi still won’t look at him, but he narrows his eyes and catches his bottom lip between his teeth.

“i told you shit happened and i can’t do the soulmates thing for that reason,” he says, “isn’t that enough?”

“you didn’t really tell me anything,” jungkook says, “you were being, like, super vague. what exactly happened?”

yoongi stops, abruptly, and turns to jungkook. the look he gives jungkook makes him think he’s treading on thin ice. he doesn’t back down, however, standing firmly and returning yoongi’s gaze. maybe the fact that he’s got a couple of inches on yoongi helps.

he’s expecting yoongi to snap, but he doesn’t. he merely stares at jungkook with dark eyes for a moment longer, and breathes in through his nose. when he releases the breath, some of the tension seems to subside with it.

“stop following me,” he bites out, and starts walking again. jungkook catches up again.

“i’m not following you,” he says with an equal amount of bite, “i’m going the same way. am i supposed to wait until it’s my turn?”

he wonders if anyone’s ever thrown hands with their soulmate when meeting them for the very first time. if yoongi was any less patient, it might already have happened. there aren’t many people who are this patient with jungkook. when jungkook glances at him, yoongi has kind of a weird expression on his face. his eyebrows are pulled together in a frown, but he doesn’t look angry, per se. if jungkook had to compare, he’d say it’s closer to the face he himself pulls when he’s trying to solve a math equation.

he considers for a moment.

“my friends told me i should clock you in the face if you were an ass,” he says.

he watches yoongi from the corner of his eye. there’s the slightest shift in his expression; a twitch around his jaw, almost like he’s biting back a smile.

“mine told me i should let you,” he says neutrally. jungkook breathes out in a semblance of a laugh, kind of surprised, kind of relieved, in a way.

because yoongi doesn’t look angry and doesn’t tell him to fuck off, jungkook pulls his sleeves over his hands, fiddling with them - a nervous tick - and says,

“can i ask you to be completely honest?”

seconds tick by, and jungkook doesn’t think the other is going to answer; but then yoongi grunts,

“about what?”

jungkook fiddles. he sucks in a breath, releases it in a huff. feels frustrated, because he doesn’t want to ask; but it’s eating him up, it’s been gnawing at him since the beginning, and he has to know.

“is it me?” he asks, and keeps his eyes steadily on the road in front of him. “you said you have your reasons, but is one of them, maybe, me? something about me? is it because i’m a guy? or i’m not what you expected? or -“

a hand on his arm stops him. it’s so unexpected that jungkook’s breath hitches and he almost stumbles over nothing. he blinks at yoongi’s pale hand on his clothed arm. his hands are big, jungkook realizes hazily. it’s the first time they’ve touched. it’s not skin on skin, but he swears he can feel the warmth through the layers.

yoongi is staring at his hand, too, like he can’t believe he grabbed jungkook. jungkook waits, still as a statue - he’s not entirely sure he’s even breathing - until yoongi’s fingers unlatch and slide out of jungkook’s sleeve.

“it’s not you,” yoongi says, voice low. jungkook’s eyes slide up very slowly to meet yoongi’s. “shit, it’s... it’s none of those things you said. trust me, you’re... it’s not you. at all.”

jungkook swallows. yoongi’s face looks softer than before. he wonders if yoongi can hear his heartbeat. he just might, the way it’s pounding; it could be some sort of a soulmate thing.

jungkook thinks he might spontaneously combust if he looks into yoongi’s eyes a second longer. he looks away, over yoongi’s shoulder, lets his eyes slide over the shop windows behind him. they blink into focus on one sign. jungkook stares, for a moment. laser tag, it says. an opportunity, jungkook’s incomprehensible brain says.

“how confident are you in your laser tag skills?” jungkook asks, his eyes returning to yoongi, and licks his lips.

yoongi raises both of his eyebrows in response.

“fairly,” he says, “why?”

“how about a bet,” jungkook jerks his head towards the laser tag place. the corner of his mouth is starting to curl upwards in a half-smirk. “we play a round. if you win, i’ll leave you alone and never message you again. if i win, i get to ask you something, and you have to answer.”

yoongi looks at him, lips parting slightly. it is a bold suggestion, one yoongi could easily walk away from.

“what makes you think i’d play?” yoongi asks, but the fact that he’s still standing here makes jungkook think, hope, maybe, that he will.

“my endless charm,” jungkook deadpans. “but i understand if your old, tired ass just wants to go home.”

he gives yoongi his best challenging look, accompanied by the ghost of a smirk on his lips. yoongi lets out a huff of breath and considers, tongue sliding over his bottom lip.

“for that last comment only,” he says, “game on.”

 

/

 

this was a mistake.

yoongi had a hunch this was a mistake as soon as they walked through the doors and payed for a round, and that hunch turned into a stone-cold realization when they were in the vesting room getting their equipment, and jungkook stripped off his bomber jacket and rolled up his sleeves and yoongi had to physically stop himself from staring.

“may the best man win,” jungkook had said before taking off as the countdown started. everything about him had oozed confidence, from the way he held himself to the cocky smirk on his lips, but yoongi wasn’t about to let that shake him. it had been a while since he’d been to one of these, but his aim was generally good and he was fast on his feet, so he shouldn’t be too shitty.

the thing is that jungkook is ridiculous. they are halfway into the thirty-minute round, and yoongi’s been shot more times than he can count. half the time he doesn’t even have time to see where the shots are coming from.

jungkook is wearing a white shirt, which should be a disadvantage to him as it stands out in the dark like a flashlight, but it’s not. those ridiculously tight pants should be a disadvantage to him, but if anything, they are a disadvantage to yoongi, who really can’t take another stand-off with jungkook because his fucking legs are too distracting.

there was an objective, here. a bet. right now, yoongi is just trying to stay alive as he hunches behind a wall and shoots at the sight of red lights and tries to keep jungkook from getting too close. he’s grateful it’s as dark as it is, but even then he’s already caught too many glimpses of his fucking thighs straining against those jeans, and his slim hips and toned stomach where the hem of his shirt keeps flying up. yoongi thinks he actually might die.

he can’t believe he’s being subjected to this. he can’t believe he willingly subjected himself to this. he should’ve known better. he saw those legs when they were walking. he saw that chest and that thing his hair did on his forehead and he should’ve known jungkook was going to be aggravatingly, frustratingly attractive playing this game.

yoongi is drowning in his own sweat, sitting on the floor with his back against a wall, knees bent, holding loosely onto his gun that rests between his legs. battling jungkook is taking everything out of him. he hasn’t pushed himself this hard since his last basketball match in high school.

there are seconds left and yoongi was just going to wait it out, but then jungkook appears from behind one of the walls with a flashy and completely unnecessary somersault. yoongi scrambles to lift his gun, but jungkook is faster. he shoots yoongi clean in the chest, and it’s game over. the blue lights on yoongi’s vest blink out, the lights in the arena blink on, and the voice in the speakers tells them to return to the vesting room.

yoongi lets his gun clatter to the floor and knocks his head back against the wall with a groan. he hears jungkook chuckle.

“i’d say i win,” he says, “but we can check the scoreboard if you want.”

yoongi has half a mind to flip him off. he wrenches himself off the wall, and peers up at jungkook through his damp bangs.

“double or nothing,” he says.

jungkook tilts his head, and yoongi tries not to fixate on the way his hair sticks to his forehead, or the way a drop of sweat travels down the side of his face, or the way his shirt under the vest has gotten a little bit see-through.

“that means i get two questions,” he says airily.

yoongi gets up with some effort, grimaces at the strain in his legs. he chucks off the vest and slides the plaid off his shoulders, tying it around his waist. the blue t-shirt is pretty much drenched in sweat, but it’s better. jungkook watches him silently. yoongi actually feels like he might pass out, but tries to appear composed, pushing his sweaty bangs back and quirking an eyebrow at jungkook.

“if you win,” he says.

 

/

 

jungkook wins both rounds.

it’s a fact he has to accept despite doing a lot better during the second round. yoongi spends good ten minutes in the bathroom, five of them with his head under the faucet, and tries to remember why he agreed to this.

when he’s feeling slightly more alive, he straightens his back, giving himself a once-over in the mirror. he rakes a hand through his hair and shakes the water out of it. he’s looked better, but he could also look worse.

jungkook will be waiting for him outside the bathroom, ready to wield his two-question right. jungkook. yoongi now has a handwriting and a face and a name. they were supposed to meet for thirty minutes and it’s been almost two hours. it was never supposed to get this far.

when he had asked is it me? yoongi had felt guilty in a way he never had before. he barely knows jungkook; but he knew, in that moment, that he didn’t want the younger to feel like he’s less than enough, like there’s something wrong with him. because jungkook is -

he stares himself in the eye, takes a deep breath, releases it. he wonders, hazily, if it’s already started. his heart beats like it’s trying to tell him something. yoongi feels like he’s losing at more than just laser tag.

he picks up his jacket from the counter and leaves the bathroom feeling a little bit resigned. jungkook is leaning on a wall in the lobby, two bottles of water hanging from between his fingers. he hands yoongi one; yoongi stares at it for a moment, thinks about refusing just because of how casually friendly the gesture seems; but then again, he bought jungkook coffee earlier, and the younger is holding out the bottle with an expectant look in his big eyes. yoongi takes it, murmurs a thanks and thinks that maybe he shouldn’t overthink things like water bottles.

but he catches a smile on jungkook’s lips, and his chest tingles in a way that makes him think even water bottles are dangerous.

“you took forever in there,” jungkook comments offhandedly. he has his jacket thrown over his wide shoulders and the first two buttons of his shirt are open. his hair is decidedly  messier than it was before this, but somehow it still looks good.

“you didn’t tell me you were a fucking assassin in a past life,” yoongi says as they exit the facility, jungkook bowing politely at the staff manning the front desk, yoongi opting for something between a bow and a nod.

the sun was still up when they left the café, but now it’s setting. yoongi puts his jacket on, the plaid still tied around his hips.

“i could be an assassin in this life,” jungkook says, “you wouldn’t know.”

“i know you’re an art student,” yoongi says, “but i guess you gotta pay for tuition somehow.”

jungkook’s laugh rings in the air, short and unexpected. it’s a melodic, breathy sound. yoongi heard it when they were playing laser tag, too, but it was mostly triumphant cackling when he managed to beat yoongi in a stand-off that mostly served to piss him off. this is different. this is worryingly, dangerously different.

yoongi didn’t even realize, but talking, being together is easier now. the tension from earlier, when they very nearly threw hands in the middle of the street, is all but gone. jungkook, yoongi thinks, jungkook. jungkook doesn’t feel like a complete stranger anymore. they’ve spent less than three hours together in person, and yoongi’s unconsciously picked up on all these little things characteristic to him: the way his anger comes in short but fiery bursts, the way he fiddles with his fingers when he’s nervous. the way he tips his head back when he laughs, and how, under the bratty exterior, he’s a person who bows at the staff and buys an extra water bottle for yoongi. how he moved in the dark of the laser tag arena almost like a dancer.

this is the opposite of how things were supposed to go, and yoongi should be terrified. he’s going to be, later when hoseok bugs him about it until it all comes spilling out of him, probably, but right now, he’s too exhausted. exhausted and hungry.

“let’s get food,” jungkook says next to him, like he read yoongi’s thoughts. yoongi hopes he didn’t, actually, that it isn’t a freaky skill that manifests in soulmates. when jungkook sees him hesitating, he shrugs and adds, “you owe me some answers. you’re going to be stuck with me for a while longer, might as well do it over food.”

so they end up at a fast food joint; jungkook leads, and yoongi tags along.

“do you like fried chicken?” jungkook turns to ask as he pushes the door open.

“that’s one of the two questions you have,” yoongi deadpans, “you have one left.”

jungkook glares at him with a pout that yoongi should not be considering adorable.

“that was just me being considerate,” he huffs, “don’t use my good manners against me.”

yoongi huffs out a laugh.

“fine. and sure. who doesn’t like fried chicken?”

they end up ordering a huge serving of fried chicken that’s probably meant for a party of six, but both of them are really, really hungry. too familiar, too friendly, even too boyfriendly - is what yoongi should be thinking as they eat off the same platter, hunched in the small cubicle across from each other. there isn’t a whole lot of space between them, their heads constantly almost brushing as they lean over the table, and jungkook’s legs are too long and bump against yoongi’s a couple of times. too much, too much. but yoongi can’t bring himself to do something about it.

jungkook took his jacket off again. yoongi kind of wants to ask him to button his shirt all the way up, because the way his chest is exposed when he leans over is not entirely appropriate. but mentioning that would probably be creepy. the fact that yoongi looked long enough to notice is probably creepy in itself. he decides not to look in jungkook’s direction at all, and dips his chicken in sweet and sour sauce with more force than necessary.

“so i’ve been thinking about what to ask you,” jungkook says, “you know, with my right as the undefeated laser tag champion.”

yoongi rolls his eyes.

“yeah, yeah. you’re the best. get it over with.”

jungkook sets down his chopsticks and puts his hands on his lap. he worries his lip as he looks at yoongi, and it’s actually more nerve-wrecking than yoongi’s letting on. he prays jungkook won’t ask about the specifics behind yoongi’s detestation of the soulmate system. it’s not something he wants to discuss, especially at a fast food joint over a plate of fried chicken.

“when’s your birthday,” jungkook asks finally, his shoulders tight with anticipation as he leans slightly forward. “day, month, year.”

yoongi narrows his eyes. the kid could’ve asked how old he is, in which case he would’ve only gotten his age, whereas from his birthday he can draw all kinds of information. smart move.

“march ninth, 1993,” he says with some reluctance.

“you’re twenty-five,” jungkook says after calculating it in his mind, the stages of the process having been very evident on his face. it made a small, involuntary smile tug at the corner of yoongi’s mouth. jungkook is beaming. “i was right.”

“congrats,” yoongi says wryly, “so it’s hyung to you.”

hyung,” jungkook emphasizes in a way that yoongi is not sure he appreciates, “what do you do for a living?”

yoongi taps a random rhythm against the table.

“that’s what you want to use your questions for? my birthday and occupation?”

jungkook nods, his eyes wide and expectant, and yoongi sighs.

“i’m a producer slash songwriter. i used to, uh, perform.”

“not anymore?” jungkook’s leaning closer, probably unconsciously, the kind of sincere interest on his face that makes yoongi’s chest hurt a little bit. he flicks him on the forehead with a chopstick.

“that’s three questions,” he says as jungkook leans back, rubbing at his forehead with a frown on his face.

“i know,” he says defensively, and then, more quietly, “just thought i’d try to, you know. have a conversation.”

yoongi has to look away.

“no, not anymore,” he says, and is thankful when jungkook doesn’t pry.

for the rest of the time they eat, jungkook talks, mostly, and yoongi doesn’t even bother with his no getting to know each other rule anymore. this is bad, he thinks, and jungkook tells him that he likes to dance and sing but he’s not very confident in his voice. this is really bad, he thinks, but it’s drowned out by the sound of jungkook telling him he likes painting because it’s freeing.

“those flowers you drew were really good,” yoongi says, and can’t hear anything, can’t hear the alarms going off in his mind over the sound of jungkook smiling, and it doesn’t even make a sound.

 

/

 

they have no reason to stick together after dinner. it’s nearing eight o’clock; they’ve been out for four hours. it’s dim and the air’s grown cold. they are at a crossroads, and yoongi is going to cross the street and jungkook is going to go the other way.

“hyung,” jungkook says, wrapping the jacket around him tighter, “it wasn’t all bad, was it?”

yoongi looks at the boy shivering from the cold. his edges are soft, blurred in the dark. he’s looking at yoongi like he’s searching for something, a tentative smile on his lips. yoongi is very aware of his own heartbeat.

“no,” he says.

it feels like this is the end of a date and they are about to kiss. or maybe it’s just yoongi. he’s terrified, finally.

“it seems like every one of your terms was broken,” jungkook muses, hugging himself tightly, “even the third one.”

  1. you’ll see i’m not a person you’d even want to know.

“i’m not -“ yoongi starts.

“you are.” the words leave jungkook’s lips so fast yoongi is not sure he even said them. fuck, fuck. were his eyes always like that? did he always look like that?

jungkook’s expecting yoongi to say something, do something, and yoongi can’t tell him what he wants to hear. yoongi needs to leave.

he shifts around uncomfortably. avoids jungkook’s eyes as he says,

“you’ll get home safely?”

yoongi thinks he sees jungkook’s face fall. just a little bit, and just for a fraction of a second, but yoongi feels an uncomfortable twinge in his chest. jungkook just nods, doesn’t even say anything, before turning and walking away, arms wrapped tightly around himself. yoongi catches his smile dying, and knows he wasn’t supposed to see it.

this is better, this is good, yoongi tries to tell himself. his heart beats like it’s breaking a little bit on every step. it’s because of namjoon, and it’s because of jungkook.

“that was a long ass coffee, hyung,” hoseok comments about point two seconds after yoongi’s closed the front door behind him. “i was trying to guess what happened to you. i was thinking either murder or you hit it off. which one was it?”

yoongi rolls his eyes, although hoseok can’t see it because he’s stuffing his coat into the closet. he probably smells terrible. like sweat and fried chicken. his legs are sore and possibly full of bruises from diving behind walls.

“well, i obviously wasn’t murdered.”

“so you hit it off?” hoseok is grinning at him from the kitchen doorway, a gigantic cup of tea in his hands. yoongi can tell he wants to say i told you so so badly.

they didn’t hit it off. it’s not the wording yoongi would use. the beginning of it was a mess; yoongi was an asshole and jungkook was a brat, and yoongi was determined to stick to the plan which was, in two seemingly easy steps, explain and get out of there. the middle of it was a disaster, but for very different reasons. the end of it was... yoongi reverting back to being an asshole, jungkook at the crossroads looking like he didn’t really want to go home yet. and yoongi, god help him, didn’t really want to go home either.

something happened, inconspicuously, somewhere in between yoongi trying to put up walls and jungkook trying to take them down. that much yoongi knows. (maybe they did hit it off, but god, what does it even matter.)

yoongi doesn’t grace hoseok with an answer, just attempts to duck past him feeling positively like a mess.

“uh, don’t even think about not telling me everything.” hoseok stops him with a hand on his arm. “sit your ass on the couch and i’ll make you tea.”

“i’m going to shower, hoseok. i’m disgusting.” yoongi squirms a little bit.

“nuh-uh, you’re going to sit -“ hoseok scrunches his nose, suddenly, and subsequently lets go of his arm. “actually, yeah. you should shower first.”

yoongi halfheartedly flips him off, before stripping off his clothes coated in dried sweat in the bathroom. he glances at himself in the mirror. yeah, he does look like a mess. his heartbeat is still a little restless.

his skin everywhere is bare. he wonders, vaguely, if he should say something. ask jungkook if he got home safely. just say something. but whatever he might say, there’s the inevitable but.

i had a nice time, but we can’t do this again.

you’re not that bad, you’re not that bad at all, but i’m too fucking terrified of where this might go.

it isn’t until almost a full hour later that he switches off the water that had begun turning cold ages ago, throws on pajamas - not before chancing a glance at his reflection again; no new messages - and emerges from the bathroom, knowing full well hoseok’s going to be on him the minute he does so.

he’s right, because a mug of black tea is pushed into his hands, and a hand on his lower back is ushering him towards the couch before he even sees hoseok.

“tell your best friend, yoongi. how was it? how was he? why were you gone so long?”

“don’t you have more important things to do on a saturday night,” yoongi says tonelessly, and plops down on the couch limply. hoseok makes a pfft sound.

“i can’t think of anything more important,” he says sincerely next to yoongi, and yoongi heaves a sigh. his tea rests untouched against his thigh. hoseok keeps trying to impose his healthy dancer lifestyle on yoongi, and convince him tea is a substitute for coffee, when it’s not, full offence, the same thing at all.

“what do you want me to say? that i had a good time? that he was alright?”

“did you? was he?” hoseok raises his eyebrows.

yoongi bites at his tongue. his silence is an answer enough.

“yoongi -“

“stop.”

hoseok looks at him with his brows pulled together in dissatisfaction.

“you know i just want what’s best for you,” he says carefully, “you’re not happy, yoongi, and it kills me to see you like this.”

“i know,” yoongi says automatically.

“and i’ll always be here, you know. every step of the way.”

“you don’t have to say this sappy stuff out loud,” yoongi mumbles, and hoseok grins, nudging at his shoulder.

“okay, no sappy stuff. i’m done.”

there’s a momentary silence. it started raining, at some point; yoongi listens to its pitter-patter against windowpanes and wonders, distantly, if jungkook got home before it started. jungkook at the crossroads. jungkook still, persistently, unfathomably, wanting to know him. jungkook’s smile fading as he turned his back. he throws his head back against the backrest.

“we went fucking... laser tagging,” he sighs. “god. i haven’t been laser tagging since...”

“yeah,” hoseok says softly. since hoseok’s birthday three years ago, all of them, yoongi and hoseok and namjoon and seokjin.

“i might like him, hobi,” yoongi says so quietly he’s not sure hoseok can hear him, “i know i’m going to. more than like him. and i can’t do that.”

“maybe you could,” hoseok says, in a tone that’s a little bit desperate, “if you let yourself. if you let it be a good thing.”

yoongi is quiet. he watches the tea swirl in the mug.

“his name is jungkook,” he says.

 

/

 

jungkook is ambushed as soon as he steps in the door. one of them has him in a headlock - jimin, because taehyung is in front of him, waving a phone in his face.

“not a single text,” he says accusingly, managing to sound exactly like a disappointed parent, “four hours, jungkook, four hours. you couldn’t send out a quick hey, i’m not getting murdered, or hey, i’m sucking face with my soulmate so i’m gonna be late, also i’m not getting murdered?”

jungkook struggles under jimin’s chokehold - damn, he’s tiny, but his muscles are nothing short of impressive - and finally manages to free himself by attacking the ticklish part of jimin’s abdomen.

“fine, i’m sorry,” he says with a slight roll of his eyes, “i wasn’t doing either of those things. getting murdered or sucking face.”

“uh-huh,” taehyung says, and at the same moment, jimin gives him a shove towards the living room.

“speak.”

“can you just give me a second,” jungkook whines. his head is still pretty much all over the place. his heartbeat is still persistently fast.

jimin and taehyung crowd him onto the couch. they are like hyenas gathering around a wounded antelope. they look like a pair of oversized children on christmas eve. it’s only slightly unsettling having them pressed up against his sides and feeling both of them stare at the side of his head unblinkingly.

“he wasn’t what i expected,” he starts slowly.

“how,” taehyung prompts. “less of an asshole?”

“well - yeah,” jungkook says. there’s that. yoongi has his moments, but after today, jungkook doesn’t think he’s an asshole. it’s kind of jarring, really. it’s more a feeling than knowledge; that yoongi does not do things the way that he does because he’s an asshole, but because something really happened to him, something that altered his worldview.

there were parts where yoongi was closed off, taciturn, and preferred to pretend like jungkook wasn’t right there; but there were parts, especially after the laser tag, where jungkook caught him stealing glances, where yoongi forgot himself long enough to smile, where jungkook thought that maybe he was even enjoying himself.

during those parts, he liked yoongi. that yoongi was funny, considerate in small ways, and unexpectedly soft. he liked it when he smiled. it made him feel sort of fluttery. plus, yoongi at the laser tag arena nearly killed him. he couldn’t even be mad about him looking unreasonably hot.

“he’s daydreaming,” he registers jimin say to taehyung, who makes an affirmative comment in response.

“i’m not,” jungkook says defensively and sinks down a little bit. just to silence them, he quickly rattles off, “we had coffee, went laser tagging, had food. that’s it.”

“why does that sound like a textbook date,” jimin says, and at the same time taehyung goes, “you went laser tagging without us?”

jungkook ignores them both.

the truth is that he was lowkey hoping yoongi would be horrible so that maybe he could move on. but he wasn’t, and now jungkook is bothered by all these damn feelings he has no business to be feeling, because at the crossroads, yoongi had asked if he’ll get home safely like he cared, but also like this was the last time.

“what’s his name?” either jimin or taehyung asks; jungkook’s not sure which one. his head is swimming.

“yoongi,” he says, out loud for the first time, and has to get up.

“where are you going,” one of them whines again. jungkook’s pretty sure it’s taehyung. “this is your soulmate we’re talking about, we need to know everything.”

“later, just... later.” jungkook manages to flash them what he hopes is a reassuring smile - it probably isn’t - before hightailing it out of the room.

he can’t sleep that night.

will i see you again, he writes on his arm in the a.m. hours, his handwriting almost illegible, hasty scrawling across his skin.

there’s no reply the next morning, nor the following days, and the message fades slowly until the only reminder that saturday even happened is gone.

 

/

 

i asked because i want to see you again.

i liked spending time with you. i don’t know if it’s a soulmate thing or whatever. but it felt good

that was embarrassing, nevermind

actually, screw it, i meant it.

i guess i thought you’d change your mind about not wanting anything to do with me. but i might’ve been wrong.

did i do something wrong?

you’re not going to answer, are you

 

/

 

yoongi drowns himself in work. he barely notices the days change, and when he looks at the time, he has to peer out of the window to deduce whether it’s a.m. or p.m. he sleeps at the studio, until hoseok basically breaks down the door and physically drags him home. yoongi really hates it when he uses his dancer’s muscles against him.

hoseok tells him to get in the shower and later forces a can of spaghetti o’s down his throat.

“i think this counts as abuse,” yoongi grumbles, and hoseok glowers at him from across the table.

“this counts as keeping your ass alive,” he says. “the amount of take-out coffee cups in your trash at the studio, yoongi. is that the only thing you’ve been consuming for the past few days?”

“why did you go through my trash,” yoongi avoids the question, and hoseok lets out a pained, “yoongi.”

he studies yoongi quietly from across the table, drumming at the surface lightly.

“have you slept?” he asks quietly.

“some,” yoongi says stiffly.

hoseok looks uncertain for a moment. then he tells yoongi he knows about the dreams. yoongi stills; thinks about denying it for a moment, but there isn’t really a point. when he asks how, hoseok looks at him with soft, tired eyes, and says,

“i have them, too.”

yoongi blinks at him, breathes a soft “oh”. of course he does. the situation diffuses, just like that.

(“i’m usually at the hospital,” hoseok tells him, “there’s a body under a red sheet and there’s more blood than there was in reality. i try to call different people, but no one answers. sometimes namjoon is there, walking away from me in the hospital corridor. i try to call out to him, but he just keeps walking.”

“i’m on the plane,” yoongi says, “and someone calls me. it’s always either you or namjoon. you tell me to get off the plane, but i can’t. i try and try, and the line is dead silent, until namjoon’s voice says, ‘too late’, and everything stops. sometimes i’m on the shore, watching them pull the same body out of the river over and over again.”

“what happened to namjoon and jin was not your fault,” hoseok says.)

 

/

 

jungkook writes daily, and then he doesn’t. yoongi felt his heart sinking when he was writing, and he feels it sinking when he doesn’t. there’s the look on hoseok’s face again, and it’s almost enough to make yoongi pick up the pen. but.

(“what do you think it feels like,” yoongi says quietly, “when your soulmate dies? what do you think namjoon felt?”

hoseok’s face softens. the answer is obvious, and it hangs unsaid in the air between them. bad enough to make him swallow all those pills and fall off that bridge. or maybe, like it wasn’t just your soulmate who died; you did, too. hoseok doesn’t say anything, which is better. it’s harder to breathe, and hoseok’s hands are on his shoulders, on his neck, and yoongi is tipping forwards until his face is pressed into the nook of his neck.

“let’s go to ilsan,” hoseok says.)

 

/

 

ilsan always feels like a slightly altered reality.

“flowers, flowers,” hoseok is mumbling under his breath, looking around the small flower shop, seemingly distressed by the abundance of plants around them, “what was the flower namjoon liked? i can’t tell them apart.”

“hyacinth,” yoongi responds automatically. “pink stargazers for jin.”

it’s a damp, foggy morning. the cemetery is vacant, save for an older couple making their way down one of the pathways in the distance. hoseok’s sister is tagging along, and she walks in step with her brother with her arm looped through his. the walk is silent, only their shoes rustling on the gravel. it’s not a strained silence; mostly they’re all just preoccupied with their individual thoughts. coming here is always the same.

soulmates are often buried together, and namjoon and seokjin are no exception. it was a close call, though; namjoon’s parents, who were unaccepting of the nature of their relationship from the beginning to the end, wanted namjoon buried in the family plot, and almost had their way. but seokjin’s parents fought for it; yoongi fought for it, too, because namjoon never would’ve wanted that; and they were buried next to each other, in the end.

the graves are well-kept. standing here doesn’t hurt the way it used to; it aches in a different way, now. dull, bittersweet, maybe a little bit more bearable.

they lower the hyacinths and the stargazers among the lilies and roses that are already there. hoseok’s sister shifts the flower arrangements around on seokjin’s grave, sets upright a vase that’s been knocked over. hoseok crouches next to her, and they talk in quiet voices.

yoongi stands in front of namjoon, arms wrapped around himself. he listens to the jung siblings with half an ear, and grunts a response when hoseok tells him they are going to go get water for the flowers, his hand squeezing at yoongi’s leather-clad shoulder in passing.

yoongi rarely speaks when he visits here. he’s not the type to converse with headstones; doesn’t really believe there’s much of a point. now, though, he finds himself shifting on his feet, the urge to say something overwhelming him.

“hey, joon,” he starts, quietly, even though it’s unlikely anyone will overhear, the cemetery being as empty as it is. “it’s been a while, i guess. sorry about that.”

he rocks on his heels a little bit.

“i’m doing - pretty shitty, actually. i feel sorry for hobi, sometimes. dunno how he puts up with me.” he licks his lips, pauses. “but i’ve been writing again. for myself. i don’t know if i’ll perform again, but... i’m writing. i think it might be because... yeah, i met him. my soulmate.”

he squats down on the grass, arms folded on top of his knees, and eyes the two headstones.

“is this how you guys felt? a foreboding sense of doom? were you scared? ...i am.

“i have no idea what to do, to be honest. i think i need one of your monologues, joonie. need you to tell me it’s worth it. because i can make pretty compelling arguments against it.”

the jungs will probably come back soon. yoongi has an inkling they are taking their time on purpose. he drums his fingers against his leather-clad arms.

“miss you,” he says, voice dropping even lower. he doesn’t trust it not to crack. “miss you every second of every day.”

he hears the siblings in the distance. he swallows down the thickness in his throat and straightens up.

“wherever you guys are,” he mumbles, “keep him in check, jin.”

not long after, a hand lands between his shoulder blades.

“are you ready?” hoseok inquires gently at his side.

yoongi nods shortly. he feels heat on his cheeks, courtesy of his rather embarrassing heart-to-heart with his dead best friend. if hoseok heard any of it, he doesn’t comment.

they ride the subway back to gangnam. hoseok and his sister fall asleep on the seat across from yoongi, her head on his shoulder and his cheek on top of her head. yoongi thinks about soulmates and inevitable doom. thinks about the fact that namjoon and seokjin were buried with the same i love you on their wrists. namjoon’s handwriting.

“hyung.” the voice in the quiet train car startles him. hoseok hasn’t moved, but his eyes are open, and he’s looking at yoongi. “i’ve been thinking.”

“congratulations on reaching that milestone,” yoongi says, but his sarcasm lacks its usual bite, and hoseok only blinks at him sleepily.

“maybe there’s a reason you met him when you did,” hoseok says, “at this exact point in your life.”

 

/

 

later that week, hoseok does a double-take when yoongi passes him in the kitchen doorway, and informs him that on his right cheek, in blue marker, it says, this is roommate #1.

yoongi stares at him blankly, before promptly spinning around and rushing into the bathroom, yanking the door shut behind him. the mirror above the sink proves that there is, indeed, this is roommate #1 scribbled across his cheek. he watches in horror as letters appear on his left cheek, too, in green, this time. this is roommate #2.

while the green writing was forming, sentences in blue were already appearing along his neck. yoongi struggles to read them in the mirror.

it has come to our attention that your treatment of jungkook has been less than satisfactory

we are extremely disappointed

green writing tips under his collarbone; lines in blue and green are now just appearing one after the other, all over the place, his arms, calves, even his stomach.

jungkook is down and we are expecting you to do sth about it (“down” is crossed out multiple times and replaced with “heartbroken”.)

stop acting cold and distant!!!!!! we get it you’re all cool and mysterious!!!

you’re ignoring his messages - don’t ignore his messages!!!!

he is sad!!!!!!! :(

it’s a mess. some of the words are downright illegible, and sometimes they misspell a word and cross it out violently. there are lots of exclamation marks and some obscure doodles. yoongi stands there, looking like a human doodle. he is kind of shocked and a lot concerned.

he steps out of the bathroom, into his bedroom, and ignores hoseok laughing and consequently choking on his tea. serves him right. he grabs a pen, and writes in an empty spot on the back of his hand: is he ok? did you kill him?

an answer comes in obnoxious green letters on his chest below his collarbones.

he drunk & passed out so we took the mittens into our own hands

yoongi frowns. a second later, in blue: he means matters.

“good god,” yoongi mumbles.

make it better or we’ll beat your ass idc if you’re his soulmate

you hurt him you gonna catch these hands

he guesses he maybe, kind of deserved this.

 

/

 

? why did you write “got it”?

so jungkook has no idea his roommates used him as a notepad last night. the marker came off easily in the shower, thank god.

it means i want to meet again, yoongi writes, choosing not to explain the whole ordeal, and explain properly, this time.

 

/

 

“he wants to meet again,” jungkook tells jimin and taehyung, still staring at yoongi’s messages on his arm with a puzzled look on his face.

“really? wow, that is so great and totally surprising,” taehyung says in sort of a stilted, unnatural voice. jimin elbows him hard in the ribs. jungkook blinks at them. they look back at him, angelic smiles painting their faces. taehyung’s looks a little bit pained.

“right,” jungkook says uncertainly, not really understanding the interaction, but letting it go because he would lose years of his life if he tried to get to the bottom of every little thing jimin and taehyung do, and also because he’s got more pressing matters at hand. “he wants to meet again.”

he stares blankly. “what do i do?”

“you meet him again,” jimin frowns.

“you make him explain himself, he realizes what an absolute walnut he’s been, you fall madly in love, have a huge wedding but not spring wedding because i have allergies,” taehyung says, “or you clock him in the face. see which way it goes.”

“right. right. thanks,” jungkook says, and nearly walks into the bookshelf walking back to his room.

it’s been weeks. he should be pissed at yoongi, probably; but he’s not, weirdly. he’s just intrigued, he can’t help it; he wants to know about yoongi, wants to know what happened to him. he hopes yoongi will tell him more this time around. hopes this won’t be the last time they see each other.

 

/

 

yoongi chooses the place, this time. just throws out something at random, the first café that comes to mind. it’s a friday. it’s late afternoon and yoongi is drumming his fingers against the surface of the table nonstop, chin resting on his palm.

jungkook walks in two minutes to five, looking every inch as beautiful as yoongi remembered. yoongi’s heart thuds, and it sounds like doom doom doom.

jungkook sits down across from him. he licks his lips, and eyes yoongi a bit uncertainly.

“no getting to know each other?”

yoongi smiles wryly.

“a bit too late for that.” he grimaces. “actually, do you mind if we get the coffee to go? i kind of want to go somewhere else.”

yoongi just wants to be moving, to be honest. if they are walking, he has an excuse to not look at jungkook. the longer he looks at him, the more he feels like he’s being pulled towards him. and if he was completely honest with himself, he’d acknowledge it’s not completely just a soulmate thing, either.

they walk the way yoongi came, through a park that has several people playing with their dogs but is otherwise quiet. the ground is strewn with leaves turning brown, and everything looks kind of dead already. but jungkook, next to him, almost looks like he’s glowing in the five p.m. sunlight, somehow standing out against the dead scenery as the only beautiful thing. he’s clutching the hot chocolate in his hands - he prefers hot chocolate to coffee, another small detail yoongi learns, and it’s not helping - and he’s wearing a red scarf, and yoongi’s not sure how it’s even possible because they’re not touching, but he’s radiating warmth.

“i want you to know i meant it when i said it’s not you,” yoongi says, and feels fucking awkward, but powers through, “you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“so you were reading my messages,” jungkook says catching his lower lip between his teeth. his ears are a light shade of pink. it’s kind of adorable.

“yeah,” yoongi says, wincing a little bit, “sorry. for not answering.”

“it’s not like i’m not used to it,” jungkook shrugs, seemingly nonchalant, but there’s a stiffness to his shoulders.

“i’m sorry for how shittily i’ve been handling this,” yoongi blurts.

jungkook stills. yoongi stops a few steps ahead of him. when he turns, jungkook is watching him with a strange look in his eyes.

“you’re different today,” he says, “you’re kind of...”

“what?” yoongi quirks an eyebrow.

“nevermind,” jungkook says, ducking his face into his scarf quickly and picking up his pace, walking past yoongi without looking at him.

interesting, yoongi thinks faintly, and wills his heartbeat to slow down.

“i meant it, too, you know,” jungkook says after yoongi’s caught up to him. he had to do a stupid little half-jog. jungkook’s legs are really long. “when i said i want to know you.”

yoongi takes a breath.

“let’s sit down,” he says, nodding towards a bench on the side of the road.

the bench overlooks the park, where a middle-aged man is attempting to play fetch with his disinterested dog. yoongi miscalculates and sits a little bit too close; their thighs brush, and yoongi tries to play it cool, busying himself with his coffee. he hears jungkook chuckle softly  as the dog flops down at the man’s feet and refuses to move.

today feels so different compared to the last time they met. the last time was flammable, electronic, it was yoongi getting his ass beaten at laser tag. this is softer, more mellow.

“why did you decide you wanted to meet again?” jungkook asks. “i honestly wasn’t really expecting to hear from you again.”

yoongi chews on his bottom lip.

“i didn’t feel good about how we left things. really,” he says, glancing at jungkook in case the younger doesn’t believe him. he considers his next words, putting them together carefully. “i’ve been working through some stuff for the past weeks. overworking, which didn’t help. went to ilsan, which kind of helped, a little bit.”

“what’s in ilsan?” jungkook probes. yoongi’s not looking at him, but he feels jungkook’s eyes on him. he hums.

“two of my friends are buried there,” he says.

“oh,” jungkook says quietly at his side. yoongi feels him shift around, their legs brushing. he’s not sure why, wouldn’t have thought so, but the proximity is kind of reassuring. “were they soulmates?”

 “yeah.”

it’s another few moments of silence, before jungkook asks:

“what happened?”

yoongi tells him. in the end, it’s easier than he had thought it would be.

“my best friend killed himself,” he says, “last year, in june.”

jungkook is silent beside him. yoongi looks down at their shoes. the ground strewn with ugly, brown leaves. he focuses on the warmth jungkook radiates.

“his soulmate died in a hit and run. he was dead before they got him to the hospital. i was... i wasn’t here. i was in hong kong, for work. got the phone call from my friend. the most excruciating plane ride of my life. knowing one of my friends was gone, my best friend was about to do something horrible, and i couldn’t do anything about it, being trapped in a damn metal tube. by the time i got back, he had already swallowed a bunch of sleeping pills. they pulled his body out of the han river.”

jungkook’s feet shift. yoongi realizes he’s angling himself towards yoongi.

“i’m so sorry,” he whispers, and yoongi can’t bring himself to look at him right now. there’s a steady burn in his throat, but it’s fine if he just breathes.

“being soulmates did nothing good for them. they both ended up dead. that’s why i...”

“that’s why you hate the idea of soulmates,” jungkook finishes. yoongi chances a look at him. he’s watching yoongi with intense, slightly wide eyes. they look bottomless. it’s transfixing. it kind of helps him to breathe, actually.

“feeling so strongly towards one person,” yoongi murmurs, “feeling like you can’t live without them. it’s deadly at worst and scary as hell at best. and people dedicate their lives to finding their soulmate, everything revolves around it, and then it ends like that. they die, and take your heart with them. it doesn’t make sense.”

(yoongi remembers repeating that to hoseok the first night, it doesn’t make sense, because it didn’t; it was the only thing he said that night, screamed it until his throat was raw; then he was completely silent the following days until the funeral, only exploding at namjoon’s parents at the funeral home when they tried to prevent them from being buried together. hoseok had to physically restrain him.)

he feels jungkook’s hand on his thigh. his fingers curl in the fabric of his jeans a little bit, and it’s probably an unconscious gesture. he looks at yoongi and bites at his lip.

“that love, that devotion, they are not side effects of being soulmates,” he says quietly. “those feelings come on their own. you fall in love, and either you’re soulmates, or you’re not.”

yoongi sucks in a breath. he manages a weak chuckle.

“why do you sound so wise,” he says, “you’re like twelve.”

jungkook scrunches his nose.

“you know full well i’m twenty-one,” he says. he withdraws his hand. he’s quiet for a moment, before continuing. “my roommates were already in love before they found out they were soulmates. they already would’ve given up the world for each other. it’s just... how love is, i guess. it doesn’t make sense.”

“aren’t you scared?” yoongi asks before he can stop himself. it sounds stupid and embarrassing in his ears, but jungkook only smiles. it’s sort of breathtaking.

“of course. but sometimes you just have to jump.”

(“we used to make music together,” yoongi tells him, “perform, now and then. small shows, underground.”

“will you perform again?” jungkook asks.

“i don’t know,” yoongi says, “maybe. in the distant future.”)

 

/

 

jungkook is braver than he is. yoongi thinks he should mind getting life lessons from a twenty-one-year-old, but he just finds himself watching jungkook in awe of a sort as the younger one seamlessly goes from sounding like the most profound person on earth to wrestling with the dog that magically regained all of its energy the moment they rose up from the bench, and propelled itself to jungkook.

the man finally calls the dog away, and jungkook, on the ground, laughs breathlessly. there are leaves stuck in his hair. yoongi has never seen anything more beautiful, and he wishes he could push the thought away, but it’s impossible when jungkook’s right there.

he extends his hand and raises his eyebrow.

“you seem to be popular with dogs,” he says. jungkook looks up at him, a healthy red on his cheeks, and bites at his lips through a sheepish smile. he takes yoongi’s hand; yoongi almost falters, but manages to pull him up.

skin on skin. jungkook’s hand is warm. fits into yoongi’s nicely. yoongi stares at their joined hands until he realizes he should probably let go.

“what can i say, it’s my endless charm,” jungkook says. he sounds breathless.

they walk again. they are going to be at another crossroads, either literally or figuratively, and yoongi doesn’t want a repeat of jungkook’s smile dying as he walks away, but he’s not completely sure what he can promise, either.

“i’m still not sure if i can do this,” he admits.

“it’s okay,” jungkook says immediately, “i’m not, like, forcing you into anything. but it would be nice if we could, you know. get to know each other. at our own pace. i don’t really want to... not know you.”

his ears are pink. he keeps glancing at yoongi out of the corner of his eye for his reaction. god. yoongi swallows.

“yeah, that sounds okay,” he says, and he’s actually still pretty fucking terrified, but somehow it doesn’t matter that much because jungkook smiles a relieved, unguarded smile at him.

“you could, uh. come to this showcase at my university next friday?” his pitch rises steadily towards the end of the question. yoongi blinks at him.

“showcase?”

“art,” jungkook explains, twisting his fingers, “some of my works will be there. it’s not a big deal, just... i thought, you said you liked the flowers, so if you want... or we can just, get coffee or something -“

“i’d like to come.” yoongi’s voice rings robotic in his ears. jungkook’s ears are burning, and yoongi’s pretty sure his are, too.

“really?” jungkook beams.

“sure.” yoongi lifts a hand to rub at his neck. there’s a crossroads up ahead, and he makes a quick decision. “and i could go for some fried chicken right now, if you’re game.”

jungkook grins so wide it almost splits his cheeks, and yoongi can only hold on for his dear life.

 

/

 

what do i wear to an art showcase

jungkook snorts from where he’s lying on his stomach on his bed. he abandons his art history reading he wasn’t really concentrating on, anyway, and grabs a sharpie from his pencil case.

it’s a uni showcase, hyung, not the moma

he adds, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth, i have a phone too, you know.

not a minute later his phone dings on the bedside table.

soulmate [7:25]
what do i wear to an art showcase

jungkook grins and rolls onto his back to type, crushing the edge of his textbook with his shoulder.

me [7:26]
just wear whatever u want
as long as its considered clothes its fine

soulmate [7:26]
damn then i have to forget about the lampshade i was gonna wear

“aww, just look at him,” comes an adoring voice not all that quietly.

“he’s so smitten,” another voice agrees, also not nearly quiet enough.

“we haven’t even met him yet. i told you we should’ve shadowed.”

“i hope they really won’t go for spring wedding,” the second voice sounds worried, “my nose runs nonstop and my eyes go all red and gooey.”

jungkook finally snaps and flings a pillow in the direction of his cracked door. there’s a high-pitched yelp and the sound of a body tumbling to the floor, followed by, “goddammit, tae, get your knee out of my groin.”

jungkook rolls his eyes.

“quit spying on me,” he calls. then, for good measure, “i’m not smitten.”

“sure.” jimin swings the door open, and they barge in just like that, not bothering to even pretend to be sheepish. “you just happened to invite him to the showcase before you even invited us.”

“you guys already knew about it,” jungkook suppresses the urge to roll his eyes again, “of course you’re invited.”

“so how come we haven’t met him yet?” taehyung throws himself down on top of jungkook’s feet.

“it’s not like we’re together,” jungkook says, “and you’ll meet him at the...”

he trails off, the realization settling in. “oh, god, you’ll meet him at the showcase. he’ll meet you at the showcase.”

“what’s with the horrified tone,” jimin folds his arms, offended. “we are delightful.”

“i’m going to wear my best fur,” taehyung says, and reaches up to high-five jimin.

“please get those things off your arms before it,” jungkook pleads, pained, “can’t you make those plans via texts? god.”

“tae’s phone died earlier,” jimin says defensively, “and look, it moves when i flex.”

“get out of my room,” jungkook says.

 

/

 

“shut up.”

“i didn’t even say anything.”

“stop looking at me so loudly.”

yoongi closes his closet door, the mirror hanging on it allowing him a clear view of hoseok smirking at him from the doorway.

“i just think it’s really nice to see you, you know. making an effort to look nice,” he says.

“whatever,” yoongi grumbles, focusing on fitting the buttons of his black button-up through the right slots. “this isn’t a date, hoseok. this is just a...”

hoseok raises his eyebrows expectantly. yoongi scoffs.

“it’s not a date. it’s just hanging out.”

“even that first time with the chicken and the laser tag sounded like a date,” hoseok muses.

“did not.”

“you’ve been flirting,” hoseok continues, “i’ve seen the messages on your arms.”

“it’s not flirting,” yoongi bites, “we’re just talking.”

“you don’t talk to me like that,” hoseok says, sounding amused.

“fuck off, hoseok.” yoongi flings the nearest piece of clothing - which unfortunately happens to be a pair of boxer shorts - at hoseok, who lets out a comically high-pitched scream and shies away from the doorway.

yoongi sighs and turns back to the mirror. all done with his shirt, he tugs the hem into his black, ripped jeans, and channels his mild anxiety into messing with his hair.

it’s not a date. jungkook invited him to a thing and he’s going because he’s trying. he’s making an effort not to associate soulmates with inevitable doom and he’s trying.

they’ve been talking - not flirting, talking - and yoongi’s found himself getting carried away with the conversation and light banter more and more easily. they even exchanged phone numbers. that felt like a milestone of some kind.

it’s kind of scary how easy it is, how fast they’ve progressed to friends, how fast it’s still progressing. kind of scary how fucking attracted to jungkook he actually is. he tries not to think inevitable doom, and think about jungkook’s words, instead - it’s just how love is, i guess - and hoseok’s words - maybe there’s a reason you met him when you did. tries to think that this could, maybe, be a good thing.

“right,” yoongi says blankly, giving himself a dead-eyed stare in the mirror.

when he emerges from the bedroom, hoseok’s head pops out from behind the backrest of the couch like a whack-a-mole. he gives a whistle, and yoongi suppresses the weirdly instinctive urge to whack him on the head with his shoe.

“i’ll be back in a few,” he says, shrugging on a leather jacket.

“hey,” hoseok says, manifesting at his side, leaning against the wall, “i mess with you, but you know i’m really proud of you, right? i’m so, so glad you’re giving this a chance. i can’t wait to meet him.”

“are you about to cry,” yoongi asks warily.

“no,” hoseok says, teeth digging into his lower lip.

yoongi shakes his head, but gives a quiet laugh. he hesitates, his hand on the doorknob, and angles his body slightly towards his roommate.

“i look okay, right?”

“dude, you look amazing,” hoseok says. as yoongi’s sliding out of the door, he gives his ass a gentle pat, and mumbles, “go get him, tiger.”

he’s pushed the door shut behind yoongi before yoongi can retaliate.

the university’s not far, and yoongi gets there in under thirty minutes, even with the leisurely pace he’s walking. he only needs to follow the stream of people to locate the art gallery. he steps into the well-lit hall, and swerves a woman trying to push a brochure into his hand.

yoongi hasn’t been to art galleries much. or university showcases, not since his first year as a production major, probably. he feels kind of lost, surrounded by people and art. he finds himself staring at a sculpture that bears some resemblance to a human head and also a bunch of rats at the same time.

“yoongi-hyung!” he rips his eyes away from the vaguely disturbing sculpture at the sound of his name. it’s jungkook, to the left of the entrance, waving his arm as if yoongi wouldn’t have noticed him otherwise. he would’ve.

jungkook looks - well, jungkook looks great. his hair looks unbelievably fluffy. he’s wearing a soft-looking white turtleneck and form-fitting, tattered light blue jeans. yoongi’s eyes flick quickly back to his face after the inevitable, involuntarily once-over as he walks over to jungkook.

a thousand unwelcome art-related pickup lines spring to his mind. it’s really hoseok’s fault for making yoongi witness his flirting attempts too many times. he banishes them all to the ninth circle of hell.

“you came,” jungkook says when yoongi is a few feet away, a slight flush on his cheeks, “i’m so glad.”

“i said i would, didn’t i?”

jungkook smiles, and it’s making yoongi smile; jungkook licks his lips and opens his mouth like he’s about to say something.

someone behind jungkook clears their throat very loudly. jungkook rolls his eyes almost imperceptibly, before taking a step to the left to reveal two guys, one with strawberry red hair, and the other rather short in comparison, with wavy black hair.

“these are my roommates, jimin and taehyung,” jungkook gestures respectively, and sounds rather pained, “this is yoongi.”

the two are looking yoongi shamelessly up and down with scrutinizing expressions on their faces, arms crossed over their chests. the one called taehyung purses his lips and breathes out a quiet, “wow.”

yoongi feels weirdly like he’s one of the pieces on display here. jimin gives him a wide grin that’s a little bit unsettling.

“i’m roommate #1,” he says, earning a quizzical look from jungkook. yoongi makes a sound that’s somewhere between a hum and a groan.

he’s not sure what he expected based on his previous interaction with jungkook’s roommates. he just knows that jimin is wearing possibly every color perceptible with the human eye and taehyung is wearing a turquoise leopard print fur coat. huh. he’s not sure how he managed to miss them at first.

“are you really kookie’s soulmate?” taehyung asks, tilting his head, looking thoughtful with a hand on his chin, index finger brushing at his bottom lip like he’s evaluating a painting.

“uh,” yoongi says. “yeah?”

“hmm. nice work with,” taehyung gestures vaguely at yoongi’s general being with both hands, “this.”

jungkook is biting down hard on his lip. he looks like he’s either suppressing a laugh or restraining himself from committing a public assault.

“we would love to stay and chat, but there’s a buffet that requires our attention,” jimin says, tugging taehyung along with him. to yoongi, he gives a grin and says, “we’ll be seeing each other.”

it sounds oddly threatening.

“don’t do anything i wouldn’t do,” taehyung calls over his shoulder, needlessly loudly.

yoongi leans closer to jungkook and cranes his neck to bring his mouth closer to jungkook’s ear.

“you told me anything’s fine as long as it’s clothes,” he says, “but they are allowed to wear that?”

the back of jimin’s offensively colorful sweater is completely open. the thing is only held together by thin pieces of thread. yoongi watches someone walk into a table as the two of them pass by, and then scramble to save the sculpture that wobbles dangerously.

jungkook merely shrugs, unbothered.

“they say it’s couture,” he says, “they have a weird way of setting unlikely trends.”

he turns to yoongi, and there’s the pink hue on his cheeks again.

“they are a bit nosy, but they are great, really.”

“i believe you,” yoongi says, quirking an eyebrow. he knows for a fact, at least, that they care about jungkook enough to threaten yoongi with physical violence. “show me some art.”

jungkook gives a breathy laugh. the sound of it makes yoongi feel worryingly tingly.

“i’ll show you around.”

jungkook takes him around the gallery. there are sections for sculpture, photography, painting and drawing, and jungkook takes him through each room, throwing out small comments here and there, and explaining the artist’s vision when yoongi tilts his head at a painting and wonders which way he’s supposed to be looking at it.

“what’s with the human-rat sculpture near the entrance?” yoongi asks as they zigzag among the tables and screens.

“ah, that one’s supposed to depict the influence of commercialism on a societal level in a contemporary capitalist society,” jungkook says. after seeing the look yoongi gives him, he adds, “yeah, i know.” 

mostly he thinks the artwork is really good. he’s pretty sure. he doesn’t know anything about art, and to be completely honest, it’s sort of hard to concentrate sometimes with jungkook walking so close. jungkook looks like he fits here. he’s passionate and knows his stuff. it’s more attractive to yoongi than it should be and he tries to pretend like he isn’t crushing hopelessly. it’s not going so well.

as they get closer to the drawing section, jungkook’s step wavers a little bit, and he seems hesitant.

“there’s something you should know,” he starts, and doesn’t continue. yoongi raises an eyebrow. jungkook opens his mouth, and closes it again. “ah, you’ll see soon enough. just, promise me you won’t freak out?”

“why would i freak out,” yoongi asks, not following, but jungkook only makes a noncommittal sound and steps into the room ahead of him.

lined up on one of the walls, there’s a series of drawings; when yoongi’s close enough to read the tags below them, he sees they all read jeon jungkook. at first he thinks, wow, because he had no idea jungkook did portraits. then he thinks, wow, again, because they are incredibly good. most of them are in pencil, and amazingly detailed and realistic. he knows nothing about art, but he can recognize a nicely done portrait when he sees one. he thinks jungkook has a way of capturing and conveying the emotion behind each expression.

there’s one of two boys, of their backs as one of them leans his head on the other’s shoulder, their faces angled towards each other in a sweet, intimate way, and it exudes warmth in a way that it can only be jimin and taehyung. it makes a smile tug at yoongi’s lips.

he thinks he should probably say some of this out loud to jungkook, who’s just sort of standing at the side nervously; but then his eyes reach the last piece of the series, and he forgets everything he was going to say.

it’s the only one with color to it; it’s also sort of abstract and reminds yoongi a little bit more of the flowers on his ribs. yoongi recognizes his own likeness in the profile drawn in shades of red and green and grey.

yoongi is still staring, when jungkook offers, uncertainly from somewhere behind his shoulder,

“in my defense, i didn’t know it was going to end up in here.”

yoongi turns to look at him. jungkook is fiddling with his oversized sleeves, not looking at yoongi but the drawing behind him. his ears are burning and his lips are red from biting at them.

“it’s weird, isn’t it?” he grimaces. “it’s weird.”

yoongi swallows. fucking hell. his chest is about to explode.

“when did you...?”

“it was after i first saw you on the street,” jungkook explains, twisting his hands, “i couldn’t get you out of my mind, sort of? and then this just sort of happened.” he gestures vaguely at the portrait.

“it’s not weird,” yoongi manages.

“no?”

yoongi shakes his head. “i like it. you’re really good.”

the same thing happened to yoongi, too, after all. the thing where he couldn’t forget jungkook’s face once he’d seen him. and whereas yoongi found inspiration to write again; it seems like jungkook was inspired by yoongi, too.

jungkook ducks his head. he’s biting back a smile, and yoongi’s heart is beating so fucking fast.

“this is way more embarrassing than i thought it would be,” jungkook says, rubbing at the back of his neck.

yoongi breathes out shakily. possessed by something - the devil, maybe, or maybe his brain just short circuits then and there - he grabs jungkook’s sweater-covered wrist, and turns, tugging him along. he hears a breath escape the younger’s lips as he follows. yoongi doesn’t actually know where he’s going, just leads him blindly around the next corner. it’s an empty, dim hallway, windows lining one side of it, and that’s about as far as yoongi’s perception goes right now. jungkook is right next to him, breathing a bit unevenly, and yoongi’s hand has slipped lower, jungkook’s fingers pressing against his.

he turns to jungkook; he’s so close, looking at yoongi with slightly wide eyes, red lips parted. yoongi led him here, but now that they are standing here, he’s not sure what he’s doing. his heart is beating out of his chest, his skin feels like it’s on fire.

“jungkook,” he says, like it’s somehow the answer to everything; it comes as a low sound from the back of his throat.

jungkook makes a strangled noise, something flickering across his face. then his hands are on yoongi’s face, warm fingertips against his jaw, and he tips his head forwards, and forwards, and then his lips are on yoongi’s.

it’s only for a few seconds, and then he draws back like he’s afraid he went too far; but yoongi follows after him easily, tilting his face upwards. jungkook’s breath is hot against his lips for that short moment where they both hover as if waiting for something. then yoongi eliminates the last of the distance between them, and they are kissing.

it’s unlike anything. jungkook’s lips are soft and pliant, and they part against yoongi’s as he tilts his head for a better angle. his hands are on yoongi’s neck, their touch hot, and then in his hair as his tongue swipes along yoongi’s bottom lip. yoongi might make a sound, then, he’s not sure and he doesn’t really care. his hands find jungkook’s narrow waist, fitting there like puzzle pieces. jungkook’s tongue is pressing against his teeth, and then it’s sliding against yoongi’s as yoongi opens his mouth further, and someone’s definitely making sounds, now.

yoongi’s kissed people before. he’s slept with people before. but none of it felt like this. it’s like everything before this was dull, lackluster, and so, so irrelevant.

jungkook kisses like the world is ending. yoongi stumbles against him, and vaguely registers jungkook’s back hitting the wall with a muffled thump. jungkook groans into his mouth, and it goes straight to his spine, makes a heat pool in the pit of his stomach. jungkook’s fingers tighten in his hair, his other hand sneaking around yoongi’s shoulders to grasp at the back of his jacket and pull him closer. yoongi sucks on his bottom lip and draws tiny sounds from his throat.

their hips rub together, and jungkook arches off the wall, hips grinding up against yoongi’s involuntarily. yoongi groans quietly, brokenly, dropping his forehead onto jungkook’s shoulder. he grabs jungkook’s hips hard to still them, because, fuck. he somehow manages to be aware that this hallway is not all that secluded and he is very much getting hard with a bunch of people just a few meters from them.

“fuck,” he mumbles against jungkook’s shoulder. jungkook is panting close to his ear, fingers curled loosely in his jacket.

“ah,” jungkook whispers, “does kissing your soulmate always feel like this?”

“i have no idea,” yoongi says, and it sounds a bit wrecked. he tries to prepare himself before lifting his head, but no preparation is enough, of course, because he’s greeted with the sight of jungkook’s flushed face, slightly glazed eyes, bruised, swollen lips.

“fuck,” he says again, for good measure.

jungkook lets out a short, breathless laugh, and lets his head fall back against the wall.

 

 /

 

the crisp night air is definitely a welcomed change. yoongi pushes back the hair on his forehead and closes his eyes momentarily against the slight breeze. he hears a door clang shut behind his back, and the sound of what has to be timberlands on stone, because it’s jungkook who flops down next to him at the top of the stairs. he’s wearing a jacket with a fur lined hood on top of his sweater, hands stuffed in the pockets.

“how do you feel?” he asks.

“about?” yoongi asks, not in an insensitive way, but because it’s a broad question. yoongi’s feeling lots of things.

“about this,” jungkook says, “about what happened.”

“you have to ask me how i felt about that?” yoongi teases, looking at jungkook through his eyelashes. they both needed a moment. a few moments. they sat with their backs against the wall in the hallway, a safe half a meter between them, and jungkook talked to him about purposely unsexy things, like the time jimin got stuck in a washing machine and it took the repairman half a day to get him out.

(“he wanted to prove he wasn’t small enough to fit in there,” jungkook said, “turns out, he was. just not small enough to get out.”)

jungkook bites at his lip to hide a smile and looks at his feet.

“you know what i mean.” he kicks at the stair. “we said we’d take it slow. and i mean, i know this doesn’t mean we’re in a relationship, i just. well, i think you might like me, too?”

jungkook is fidgeting. yoongi feels a pang of affection, and he should be horrified. maybe he will be, later. right now he just feels like he’s where he’s supposed to be, sort of. at the top of this staircase with jungkook next to him.

jungkook isn’t looking at him, so yoongi knocks his shoe against jungkook’s.

“yeah, i like you,” he says with a gentleness in his voice he didn’t know he possessed. jungkook relaxes visibly.

“do you still think all soulmates are predetermined to suffer a tragic end?” he asks. yoongi is quiet for a moment, and just watches their feet on the stair, still pressed together, jungkook’s nudging at yoongi’s softly.

“i don’t know,” he says truthfully.

(most definitely, he thinks. it’s just a matter of whether you think it’s all worth it.

is it really tragic, jungkook will ask him in the near future on a night very similar to this one, if you’ve loved each other more than anything?

but right now: -)

there’s a light touch on the back of his hand. yoongi angles his hand to hook their index fingers together.

“slowly?” jungkook asks.

“slowly,” yoongi agrees.

 

/

 

don’t disappear on me.

i won’t, yoongi writes.

this, at least, he can promise.