In Busan, soulmates are fairly common. “When I was younger,” Jimin’s mother says, as she presses a bandaid against Jihyun’s elbow. It is the first semester of school, yet it is the fifth time Jihyun comes home with bloody fists and a vicious look in his eyes, as he gently tugs a crying Jimin through the doors. “There was a young girl who had a soulmate. She-”
“Why does this matter,” Jihyun interrupts, rubbing Jimin’s back. The smaller boy sobs into his shoulder. “Many people have soulmates, but not many of them have to deal with being bullied for it.”
It is not the soulmate part that causes students to push Jimin around, but the inability he has because he has a soulmate, and their mother knows that Jihyun knows this. She gives them a sad smile before patting her eldest son’s head. “I know, but it’s because some people don’t understand, Jihyun.”
Jimin clutches the hem of Jihyun’s shirt in small fists. The younger boy’s glare softens, as he stares at his brother’s bruises. Wrapping his arms around Jimin’s shaking shoulders, Jihyun leans closer to their mother. “What is there to understand? You don’t make fun of people. That’s it. It isn’t hard to understand.”
With a sigh, their mom starts to clean Jihyun’s hands and knees. “I knew a young girl who had a soulmate,” she continues, as though Jihyun did not cut her off earlier. “She didn’t have the ability to walk without her soulmate, so she used a wheelchair. Even though half of our year had soulmates, they still made fun of her.”
Jihyun flinches when she rubs a towel over his cut. “So what? People were assholes back then, and people are assholes now,” he mutters darkly. “That still doesn’t justify their actions.”
“No, it does not.” Their mom sends her youngest child a disapproving look for his inappropriate language. “But people will always find ways to say or do cruel things, and she learned that fighting them with fists wouldn’t change anything.”
“Now that I beat those students up, they won’t bother Jimin-hyung again,” Jihyun points out stubbornly, and a part of Jimin cannot help but love his brother for his unhesitating protection, despite his use of violence.
Jimin hiccups before glancing up at Jihyun with puffy eyes. Pressing his fingers against his brother’s cheek, Jimin tries to give the taller boy a smile, but his lip is split from when the group of students had pushed him around after class, and it makes Jihyun to frown. Jimin signs a clumsy it’s okay .
“No,” Jihyun protests vehemently. “It is not okay, hyung! They were pushing you around and calling you horrible names. They hurt you, and they aren’t even sorry about it.”
Jihyun hugs his brother tightly. “Hyung,” he whispers, and his voice is so quiet that their mother couldn’t hear. “I will always protect you, and you’ll always take care of me. But I wish you’d love yourself enough to want to be happy, enough to be offended for yourself when others do you wrong.”
Jimin nods. He buries his face into Jihyun’s shirt, and the younger boy can feel his silent apology. “Don’t feel sorry, hyung,” he insists, and his grip on Jimin tightens, “Not for something like this.”
Jimin wipes his tear, then he points to the door and sends their mom a questioning glance. She laughs, and says, “Okay, you can outside as long as you bring Jihyun with you.”
The older brother beams, and he grabs Jihyun’s hand and leads him to the door. “Jihyun,” their mother calls out sternly. “Just know that you are grounded. You shouldn’t get into fights at school.”
“So I can get into fights out of school,” he replies jokingly, before immediately tagging on a ‘just kidding’. Shrugging, he grins at Jimin’s worried stare. “Your safety is more important than devices or playing time,” Jihyun says firmly, as he opens the door. “It’s you and me, and it always will be.”
You and me , Jimin mouths silently before signing it.
Jihyun nods, and repeats, “You and me,” as he squeezes his brother’s hand.
A few weeks after their mother’s funeral, Jimin’s father pulls him aside. Jimin does not allow himself to mourn, and he begins to take up the chores his mother used to do, but Jihyun mourns vociferously and bitterly, and it’s a rage that clouds his mind. His emotions are as intractable as he is, and most days have ended with their father leaving the house, Jihyun slamming his bedroom door, and Jimin sitting at a dinner table full of food he cooked.
Jimin is capable of pretending to be okay, but Jihyun is not.
The night ends like the last few nights, but Jimin’s father comes home an hour after he had left. Jimin is wrapping the uneaten dinners and packing his and Jihyun’s lunches, when his father opens the front door. He stumbles into the kitchen and slams the keys on the table. He observes Jimin cleaning up.
“God, you’re just like your mother,” he tells his eldest son, and Jimin has heard this many times, only it’s never sounded so callous. His father spits the words out like they are acid, and his voice is condescending as he grabs his son’s chin forcefully. “You just walk around with the same smile as her, and you let everyone push you around without even complaining.” His father sneers, and his breath smells like alcohol.
Jihyun and their father may clash constantly, especially after Jimin’s mother died, but Jimin has always known that their father prefers Jihyun despite their constant bickering. He does not like Jimin, who is too kind and too soft. Not when Jihyun is a spitting fire that refuses to take losing as an answer. Jihyun always fights to win, and that is what makes their father partial to him.
As his father continues to yell at him, Jimin thinks of his brother. Jimin thinks of Jihyun’s triumphant grin directed towards his bruised knuckles after every fight, and he cannot help but wonder if victory tastes like blood.
Jimin’s heart beats rapidly, and air catches in his throat, as his father slams his head against the fridge. Fear curls in his stomach and presses against his tongue, and he wants to throw up. His father laughs. Jimin curls into his stomach and drops to the ground. His cheek sticks to the cold, tiled floor. “At least fight back with your fists,” his father hisses, and his words slur when he kicks Jimin’s shin.
“When your kindness tears you apart,” he whispers coldly. “The world will swallow you whole.”
The next day, as the police question them both, Jihyun holds his brother’s hand and doesn’t let it go. “Don’t worry, hyung,” Jihyun says, and his voice is a strength that supports Jimin. “It’ll be okay, we’ll be okay.”
Jimin smiles faintly at his brother, and for the first time in days, his lips do not tremble, and his eyes are not empty. He mouths you and me to Jihyun, and the taller boy rests his head on Jimin’s shoulder. “It has always been you and me,” he says steadfastly, “And it still is.”
The night after Jihyun and Jimin are separated and sent to different families, Jimin dreams of cities burning bright, bright white, and Jihyun is standing in the center as he holds the match with bloody fingers. He learns that even if he hasn’t tasted victory, he has tasted loss, and he has never hated his inability to speak as much as he does now.
It’s not that Yoongi doesn’t believe in soulmates, as roughly half the world has one, with his parents, brother, and himself included. Rather, it’s that he doesn’t believe they are always permanent.
When his mother and brother, Yoonsoo, found out that he was unable to hear due to having a soulmate, they assumed he would learn to lip read and that would be that. When his father found out that he was unable to hear due to having a soulmate, he taught him the Korean manual alphabet and spent every night fingerspelling a picture book to Yoongi.
Now, Yoongi silently curls up next to his dad. His dad had a fight with his mother earlier, and he is now leaning against the front door. Yoongi couldn’t tell that they were fighting, since the slamming doors and harsh words were soundless to him. But he saw his mother’s car leave the driveway, and he put the pieces together when he noticed his father sitting on the floor.
His father hands him a note, as Yoongi nudges him. Your mother is my soulmate , it says. Yoongi scoots closer to him, and glances at his father observantly. I love her.
Yoongi’s mother is strong and independent and loves her work. She loves the early mornings at the office, and the evening parties with her coworkers. And sometimes, she loves it more than her family. In a way, it is not surprising; the Min’s are a family built on their work ethics. Yoongi remembers how his mother tucked him into bed years ago with exhausted, but determined eyes. He remembers the way she kissed his forehead and whispered to him. He could not hear the words, but he lip read them, and they echo in his thoughts, voiceless and haunting.
Be devout to ambition , she mouthed adamantly. Your hunger for success will be your survival.
Through his mother, Yoongi learns that the Min’s are people that have ambition carving out their stomachs until they are starving, and that this hunger never leaves. But, he also learns that his mother’s ambition left her too hungry, and she devoured her husband’s love and spat it out when it didn’t taste like success.
Yoongi glances at his dad from the peripheral of his view, only to see his shoulders shaking as he cries. I still love her , he writes, with trembling hands. She is the only one who makes me hurt enough to cry.
Yoongi realizes that soulmates are those who give and give and give, until they have nothing left to give anymore, and their heart is left empty. Sometimes, soulmates are given soulmates who give and give and give, so that neither of them are losing anything.
And sometimes, Yoongi observes as his mother leaves with Yoonsoo a week after his father had cried against the door, soulmates are given soulmates who do not give as much as they take.
Yoongi’s mother is strong and independent, and her hunger was worth more to her than her soulmate. Min Sohee is once again Ahn Sohee, and she becomes devout to her ambitions.
And one Monday evening, when the papers are signed, and the house of four becomes a house of two, Min Yoongi’s father stops crying.
A year after his parents divorce, Yoongi’s dad takes him to a speech-language pathologist. Kim Jiyeon wears confidence like it’s her favorite lipstick, and her brilliance is the social sort that tugs and tugs until she reads people like Yoongi’s father reads books. There is intelligence and then there is genius, and Dr. Kim is the line that stands between them.
Dr. Kim turns a whiteboard around, and a simple greeting is written on it. Then, she adds: Lip reading is only as accurate as the location is convenient and the language is visually discernible, so let’s stick to writing for now. Why don’t you introduce yourself?
Yoongi nods, and he grabs the whiteboard and expo marker that Dr. Kim places in front of him. I’m Yoongi. I’m deaf.
Dr. Kim raises an eyebrow. You are Yoongi, and you are deaf. But you are also many other things, are you not?
But those two are the most important, and what is relevant to you. Yoongi taps his marker on the edge of the table, as he glances at Dr. Kim pointedly.
Her eyes are sharp as they study him. Yoongi leans forward and meets her eyes with his own, and she grins at his indifferent expression. Well, what do you want from this session, Yoongi? When Yoongi’s expression morphs into slight confusion, Dr. Kim swiftly jots down an explanation on her board. You can learn speech or suhwa, amongst other things.
Speech? Yoongi’s lips thin into a sardonic smile. I’m deaf, Dr. Kim.
She gives him a long look. You are unable to hear, but you are not unable to speak. Unless your father left something out when filling out your papers?
No , he didn’t leave anything out. But how am I supposed to speak if I can’t hear whether it sounds correct or not?
That’s what I’m here for. Dr. Kim smiles.
Yoongi’s eyes widen, and then, he uncaps his marker. So, I can learn to speak?
Yes. Dr. Kim underlines the word three times. If you want to, we can work on speech? Just remember that there are a myriad of other possibilities, if you don’t want to rely on speaking. Many D/deaf and HoH people use a combination of suhwa, lip reading, speaking, cued speech, and fingerspelling.
Yoongi frowns, as he scans the list of possibilities. Lip reading is difficult for me, he admits. I can only pick up a few words usually. Also, it’s tiring.
Dr. Kim nods understandingly, before erasing the whiteboard with her sleeve. That’s because lip reading is tiring. Even good lipreaders can only read up to 25-30% of what’s said. It’s generally easier to lip read from people you’re close to. Also, lighting and commotion can affect the quality of lip reading, since it requires intense concentration. You can always learn suhwa?
Can’t I just write notes? Yoongi’s nose wrinkles, and he glares at the suhwa books aligned neatly on the shelf behind Dr. Kim.
Dr. Kim taps her chin, and stares thoughtfully at the ceiling. Then, she purses her lips. Well, you can. But it might be hard to rely on writing for communication. Sometimes, reading is difficult for a D/deaf person, especially if they are profoundly deaf like you. I’m surprised you read so well. Your dad mentioned that you read above your grade-level, in your forms.
Yoongi narrows his eyes and his jaw clenches, and his expression closes off. I’m deaf, not dumb.
Dr. Kim shakes her head and writes on her white board. I don’t mean it like that, Yoongi. I know you aren’t dumb. It’s just that D/deaf people tend to have a difficult time learning how to read. Reading requires two capabilities: familiarity with a language, and understanding the mapping between that language and the printed word. Profoundly deaf children have a disadvantage with both factors. How were you taught to read?
Yoongi’s shoulders slump. I don’t know complete suhwa, but I do know the Korean manual alphabet. My dad would use fingerspelling after letting me look at books. He always uses closed captions on shows and movies in our house.
Her eyes light up. Leaning back in her seat, she pulls out a black case that holds a pair of tortoise-shell colored glasses. Putting them on, Dr. Kim blinks rapidly for a few seconds. That makes sense , she writes enthusiastically. By using fingerspelling with you, he introduced the concept of letters, and by using closed captioning and translating the books you read with the manual alphabet, you were able to make the connection between fingerspelling and what you read. Though, it’s not surprising you learned by fingerspelling, and not orally.
Yoongi stares at the whiteboard with furrowed brows. Wait, how do you even get taught orally, when you’re deaf?
Dr. Kim pauses, before she explains it. It’s called auditory-oral education. It can be a good approach to teaching D/deaf and HoH people, but it can be tricky to use properly. The D/deaf or HoH person should be in an encouraging, supportive environment. It’s best if they are in a contained classroom, where they are mainstreamed and immersed in spoken language, and the teachers get to spend time to develop their speech.
Erasing the writing, Dr. Kim folds her dirty sleeve up her forearm a couple of times. But, it can be difficult, especially if the D/deaf person does not have any residual hearing and/or cannot use hearing aids and cochlear implants. You’re deaf due to your soulmate inability, so you most likely won’t be able to use hearing aids and cochlear implants. Since you’re profoundly deaf, if could make auditory-oral teaching difficult.
She goes to open the large drawer at the bottom of the left side of her desk, and brings out a cylinder of wipes. As she attempts to tug out a wipe, she accidentally pulls out at the five wipes beneath it too. Sending Yoongi an abashed grin, she offers him half of the wipes. He takes them with a wry expression.
You know how to read, but not how to speak. If you want to speak, then I will teach you how to speak, Yoongi. Whatever form of communication you learn, is up to you. I will try my hardest to make sure that you can do whatever you please.
Yoongi avoids looking at her, but he nods.
Dr. Kim tosses the wipes in the trashcan, and smiles knowingly. Okay, then I’ll teach you how to speak.
Dr. Kim is the line between intelligence and genius, and she shows him a part of the world that Yoongi’s mother and brother had kept sealed and his father had been unable to completely open.
Jimin is 10 and in his third house, when he dreams of a boy with dark hair and even darker eyes. The boy does not say anything at first, but he sits by Jimin and studies the field of purple and pink flowers with him. The sky is cloudless, and the sun is warm against his face. Then, the boy faces him.
“Hi,” the boy says, and he blinks bewilderedly at the sound of his own voice. Slowly, he grazes his fingers across the tips of his ears, and then he stares at Jimin with an awed expression. “Say something,” he adds frantically.
Jimin shakes his head. I’m sorry , he mouths, Can’t speak.
The boy pauses, and asks, “Because of your soulmate?” He aligns their knees together, and Jimin nods shyly while running his palms through the soft grass.
“I’m deaf,” the boy admits, “But I can hear in this dream.”
Jimin tilts his head in confusion, before his eyes widen and his mouth parts. “Hello,” Jimin says softly, and he startles.
Speaking has always been a language that Jimin’s lungs have never learned. Words have always felt like fingers clasping around his lungs, as they climb to plaster against the back of his teeth like plaque. And as he clumsily speaks to the boy sitting in front of him, they stop tasting incomplete, like burning cities and little matchsticks that leave behind smoke and ash.
They taste like stardust, and for now, they only exist in dreams.
But the boy, his soulmate , rubs Jimin’s cheek with his hand and gives him a gentle look. He listens to Jimin’s tumbled sentences and Busan accent, and he takes in every word as though they are gospel. He is the sea, the waters that listen to Jimin. He is the cold waves, sharp and twisting and hard to read, but he is also the placid currents that tenderly brush against harbors beneath the sun.
And Jimin knows, that for now, it is enough.
Seokjin is a year older than Yoongi, but they’re in the same math class. He becomes Yoongi’s seat partner, since their teacher likes to make new seating charts for every term.
He grins at Yoongi once they are seated and class has begun. Yoongi squints as he tries to read the older boy’s lip movements, but he gives up after the third word.
“I’m Yoongi,” he introduces himself. “I’m deaf.”
Seokjin pauses, and then he pulls out a loose-leaf paper. Do you lip read or use suhwa, or use another form of communication?
“I can’t lip read to save my life. I know the manual alphabet, but I’m not fluent in suhwa.” Yoongi scribbles down the lessons written on the chalkboard before adding onto his statement. “Written notes work fine for me, and I can speak.”
The older boy nods absentmindedly, as he writes out the notes and finishes up the equations. Ahh! To be honest, suhwa is really helpful to know. Seokjin bites the top of his pencil. It is considered the official language of Korea, along with Korean, after all.
“Is it really that useful,” he asks skeptically. “I mean, it’s learning a whole new language, which is kinda a pain in the ass.”
Seokjin observes his dongsaeng in amusement. It is , he writes. More people know suhwa than most think.
Smiling wryly, Yoongi carefully folds the one-sidedly written conversation and places it between the pages of his notebook. “I’ll think about it,” he says.
Seokjin sends him a thumbs up. He stops conversing with the younger boy and starts to pay attention to the teacher, while Yoongi just mindlessly rewrites whatever the teacher jots on the chalkboard.
At the end of the week, Seokjin invites Yoongi to sit with him at lunch.
It’ll be fun! Seokjin writes a bubble around the words and adds a semicircle beneath the Ls so it forms a smiley face.
Yoongi snorts, but follows him. “Sure.” He scratches his cheek. “I don’t sit by anyone I particularly give a shit about, so…”
Seokjin’s mouth parts, and he realizes that the older boy must be laughing when his broad shoulders shake. Then, he turns to the table closest to the cafeteria line, and sits near the edge of the elongated seat. The tables stretch a few feet long, and the seats are attached in a single board of wood, and half of it is beneath the table while the other half juts out.
Yoongi sees Seokjin’s mouth moving quickly, and he assumes that other is introducing him to the students sitting at the table. When he faces Yoongi expectantly, Yoongi bows stiffly and immediately sits beside him.
Seokjin pulls out a whiteboard, and Yoongi glares at him incredulously. “Seriously, Jin? Why the fuck do you have a whiteboard randomly in your bag?”
Yoongi ignores the shock on the other students’ faces and continues to give the older boy an unimpressed stare. Seokjin smiles sheepishly, as he pulls out an expo marker. I just bought it last night, so I could use it when conversing with you! It’s a lot more convenient than using pen and paper lol.
Shaking his head, Yoongi pulls out his lunch bag. “Well, good for you, I guess.” He takes a bite of his apple. “Hi, I’m Yoongi. I’m deaf,” he introduces himself casually.
I’m gonna go buy a water bottle from the vending machine , Seokjin announces both on the whiteboard and out loud, as he shakes his small wallet. Gotta keep this flawless skin hydrated!
Yoongi rolls his eyes, and the other students voice their ‘okays’. A few seconds later, the girl in front of him slides a note. So, are you really deaf?
Yoongi contemplates the worth of giving a reply. “Yea,” he says. “I am.”
The girl’s pen is a bright purple, and if the content wasn’t headache-inducing enough, then the pen color would’ve done the trick. You don’t look deaf.
Yoongi stares at her apathetically for a minute, and says, “I’m sorry I don’t have ‘deaf’ written across my forehead.”
She pauses, taken aback by his cold, sharp voice. Geez, I was just trying to start a conversation with you. Stop being so sensitive. She turns to the boy next to her and begins talking to him. Anger is fire that burns his throat, and Yoongi presses his lips into a thin line. His eyes flit to Seokjin, who smoothly slides into his seat with a cheery grin.
Hi Yoongi! Seokjin writes down on his whiteboard, and Yoongi is about to reply, when he sees Seokjin’s expression shift. The older boy’s eyes widen a fraction before they’re narrowing, and his shoulder is tensed, as it presses firmly against Yoongi’s. Then, Jin stands up abruptly and Yoongi sees his lips moving briskly. Seokjin glances over to the paper the girl used to write to Yoongi with, and his face contorts into rage.
Yoongi sees the other students leaving through the door, and he interrupts what seems to be Seokjin ranting. “Jin-hyung, lunch is over.” His voice causes Seokjin to calm down slightly, and when he lifts his bag up, he sees the broad-shouldered boy’s nails digging into his palms.
As they walk out of the cafeteria, Yoongi nods at Seokjin gratefully and goes to his next class.
On Monday, Seokjin and Yoongi sit at a different lunch table. When Yoongi raises his eyebrow at him, Jin spins his whiteboard towards him. I don’t have time for assholes who refuse to educate themselves after they say and/or do something offensive. Then, Jin proceeds to send Yoongi a wide grin.
Yoongi learns that Kim Seokjin doesn’t put up with bullshit, and Yoongi is satisfied because neither does he.
Jimin doesn’t know it, when he first moves in with them, but the Jeon’s will be the only blood-related family he does not leave.
He is used to the soundless conversations between the families that let him stay. He can mouth whatever he wants to say, but it’s only useful, if they try to read the words. He is a ghost of the Park’s, the eldest of a family that fell apart and shattered. He may be their blood, but he is not their family.
The Jeon’s come from Jimin’s mother’s side. Jeon Chaeyoung is his mother’s older sister, and she is a single mom that is the CEO of a small, but successful company. Similar to his mom, she wears her reddish brown hair in a loose bun, but her nose is slightly larger and she wears thick-rimmed glasses.
Jimin looks at her son, Jeon Jungkook, and thinks of how Jihyun is 10 too.
Jungkook is a lanky boy with brown hair that falls evenly right above his eyes, and he has his mother’s nose, but his lips are thinner and his eyes are rounder. He is two years younger than Jimin, but he is nearly three inches taller.
Jimin thinks of clenched fists and strident insults, and he thinks of Jihyun, with his burning eyes and unruly, violent habits. He thinks of his dream of burning cities and a small matchstick grasped by bloody fingers, and flames consuming-
“Hi,” the young boy says impassively. “I’m Jungkook.”
Jimin tries not to flinch at the apathetic voice, and he gives Jungkook a sweet, hesitant smile, as he sips his tea. Aunt Chaeyoung boiled green tea for him, and Jimin had been too nervous to tell her that green tea gives him headaches, so he accepted it with a silent thank you.
Hello , Jimin mouths. Jungkook follows the movement of his lips with ease, and relief flushes through Jimin. Most of the families he stayed with were unable to lip read properly, and, after a few months, they would tell him to just not bother with it. It has been over half a year, since he has mouthed words, and his lips form the soundless words awkwardly. I’m Jimin .
Jungkook nods curtly before pulling out his backpack. The younger boy places his folders and binders on his desk, and as he slips into his chair, he tosses the empty bag by his sock-covered feet. He is sharpening a pencil, when Aunt Chaeyoung opens the door.
“Yo boys,” she greets them casually with a bright grin, and her nose scrunches. She turns to Jimin and asks, “Do you think that Jungkook’s thin blanket will be enough? I can get you a comforter, if you want. Our AC is a bit wacky, so it gets super cold at night.”
Jimin picks at a loose string from his sweater. He is on the bottom bunk of the bed, since Jungkook always sleeps on the top bunk. The blanket is a large, soft quilt that is folded twice of the single bed.
Jimin shakes his head, and Aunt Chaeyoung’s grin widens.
“Okay, if you’re sure, Jimin.” She turns to Jungkook with narrowed eyes. “Are you seriously doing homework on a Friday night, Jungkook,” she asks disapprovingly.
Jungkook flips his packet with a shrug. “Yea,” he replies blandly.
Aunt Chaeyoung groans and dramatically lays over her son’s desk, rustling his homework and stationery. “I didn’t raise you like this, Jeon Jungkook! Stop doing homework and play video games, or something,” she demands, tousling his hair.
Jungkook sighs, and Jimin feels as though this happens a lot. “Mom, I’m gonna have to do my homework sometime this weekend, so I might as well get it done sooner than later,” he explains logically. “Besides, I want to do the extra credit for English, since I’m not doing very good in that class. My English teacher said that if we write a small short story about something that occurred over the weekend, she would add three points to the last quiz.”
Aunt Chaeyoung stares at her child for a solid minute. “You’re like 6 years old, shouldn’t you be dreading doing homework,” she claims incredulously.
Jungkook deadpans, and says, “I’m 10.”
“Whatever.” She waves her hand dismissively, as she lifts herself upright. Swiftly, she gathers all of Jungkook’s crumpled papers into one hand and puts them behind her back.
Glaring childishly at her son, she shakes her hand at his bedroom door. “Go downstairs, and do something that isn’t homework, or you’re grounded!”
“You know, most parents would be glad that their child was doing their homework early,” Jungkook points out dryly, as he stands up.
Aunt Chaeyoung snorts.
As Jungkook leaves, her grin melts into a genial smile. “Why don’t you go downstairs and hang out with Jungkook,” she suggests tenderly.
Jimin blinks once, then twice. None of the families that had been forced to keep him bothered to call him down for dinner or wake him up if he overslept, let alone encourage him to interact with them or their children.
Aunt Chaeyoung kneels in front of him, and she keeps eye contact with him. She studies him for a few seconds, and then her expression becomes more serious, once she notices the confusion and fear in his eyes. “What’s wrong, Jimin?” Her voice isn’t brash or boisterous like before, and instead, is soft and concerned as she continues to stare at him.
Jimin shakes his head. It’s nothing, aunty. He reassures her, and sometimes, he is glad that he does not have a voice, because he knows he would be easier to read if he did. Emotions are more obvious in voices, especially when aided by facial expressions. I’m just really tired.
His aunt doesn’t believe him, and Jimin knows that. But he also knows that if the Jeon’s had truly wanted to take care of him after his mother’s death, then he wouldn’t have suffered five other households that were more than willing to pretend he wasn’t there.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers, and her voice is somber. “I hope you can trust us one day, Jimin. You are my sister’s oldest child, and that makes you family. We take care of family.”
She stands up and stretches her knees. “You don’t have to come downstairs and hang out with Jungkook, if it makes you uncomfortable,” she tells him. And then, in fluent suhwa, she signs: But just know that you will always be welcome in this family.
Jimin’s body paralyzes, and the shock that grasps his chest becomes a warm happiness. And it takes fifteen minutes, but Jimin lifts himself up from the bed to follow after his aunt.
When he reaches the kitchen, where Aunt Chaeyoung is chattering away, as she wildly flails her arms with a wooden spoon in hand, and Jungkook is silently judging his mother, as he sips his yakult, Jimin feels his stomach shift anxiously. His aunt stops her flailing around for a moment after noticing his presence, and she gives him a proud smile. Then, she’s back to dancing around the kitchen while waiting for the rice to finish cooking on the stove.
“I’m making dinner,” she announces, and she steals a yakult from the large pack on the table. She violently shoves her thumb through the top and pours the small bottle into her mouth in one do.
Jungkook stares at his mother before saying, “You’re supposed to open it by pulling the cap off, mom.” He looks like he is trying hard not to make a run for his bedroom, as his mother falls into a rant.
“I can open a yakult however I want, dammit! I birthed you, and this is the respect I get?” She demands, and then proceeds to swipe a whole row of yakults in revenge. Then, she pulls the pot of rice onto the counter.
“We’re having yukgaejang for dinner, Jimin!” She stirs the rice and sets it aside to cool down a bit. Opening a cabinet, she pulls out three small bowls and three large bowls. “It was my turn to choose meals for this week. Next week is Jungkook’s turn, so get ready to eat ramen every. Single. Goddamn. Day.”
“You shouldn’t curse in front of us,” Jungkook states, as he throws away the empty yakults. “We are kids, after all."
Aunt Chaeyoung shrugs. “It’s not like you’ll curse, anyways. You may be 7 years old, but your soul is decades old.”
Jungkook sends his mother an exasperated expression, and Jimin hides a small smile, as he watches the mother and son banter.
“Jungkook, can you fill the smaller bowls with rice for me, please?” Aunt Chaeyoung hangs her apron on the back of the pantry door. “I’m gonna go clean myself up in my room, and then we can eat!"
Her son nods, and he goes to do as his mother asks. Instead of holding the rubber handle of the pot, he grasps the pot by the side while scooping rice into the bowls. He doesn’t even flinch despite the obvious burns he was getting from holding the still-heated pot, and Jimin gasps.
Running up to the younger boy, Jimin grabs Jungkook’s wrist and tugs it away from the pot and immediately turns the kitchen faucet on. Once the water is slightly cooler than room temperature, he places Jungkook’s hand, palm up, under the running water.
Jungkook inspects his hand, as Jimin goes to the bathroom. Opening the cabinet doors beneath the sink, he makes a noise of approval, as he grabs a tube of ointment for burns. As Jimin walks back to the kitchen, he starts to unscrew the tube.
“It’s okay,” Jungkook says, and his voice is indifferent, as he pokes the burns on his palms and fingerpads. “I don’t have the ability to use my sense of touch, so I can’t feel the burns anyways.” He explains.
Jimin pauses, his forehead creased and lips pursed, as he peers up at Jungkook. “Soulmate,” Jungkook states, and Jimin nods in understanding.
Jimin gingerly holds Jungkook’s wrist and studies the burns on his palm, before he squeezes a pea-sized drop of the ointment onto his fingerpad. Carefully, he rubs it on the areas of Jungkook’s palm and fingers. Jungkook gawks at him, as the smaller boy ignores his statements about his lack of somatosensation.
Finally, Jimin puts the cap back on the tube and washes his hands. “Why did you bother?” Jungkook asks, and his voice is thick with confusion. “It’s not like I felt the pain.”
Jimin meets the taller boy’s eyes sincerely. Even if you can’t feel the pain, you can still get hurt. Your skin will take weeks to heal, Jungkook, he signs, and then freezes. Does Jungkook even know suhwa, let alone understand it? Aunt Chaeyoung may know suhwa, but that doesn’t mean Jungkook does...
Jungkook unknowingly answers Jimin’s internal fear, when he gapes at him with owlish eyes. “I-I,” he stutters, as Jimin places the bowls of rice on the table next to the kimchi and the bowls of yukgaejang.
“Thank you,” Jungkook whispers earnestly, and Jimin jolts at the vulnerability in the boy’s voice. The younger boy’s voice is quiet, and almost shy. “Jimin…-hyung.”
Jimin looks at Jeon Jungkook, and thinks of how Jihyun is 10 too. His brother wore bruises and cuts with the pride of a winner. He had smoke and ash beneath his skin, and a burning fire within him. He thinks of Jihyun, and his heart aches.
But Jungkook is quiet and hard to read. He wears his injuries like they are a second skin. He has his mother’s smile, and his thin lips curl shyly. He is not Jihyun. He is Jeon Jungkook, and when Jimin thinks of him, his heart aches a little less.
Jimin beams, and he tugs the taller boy to the table, as Aunt Chaeyoung bounds into the room. She loudly scolds her son for the burns, and she worries over them, until Jungkook assures her that his hand is okay.
“My son won’t even let me worry over him, when he is injured!” She melodramatically fake sobs into her napkin. “Why is my 4 year old son acting like a grown man? It was only yesterday, when he asked me how to spell magnificent.”
“You’re still 2 years old in my mind, Jeon Jungkook!”
Jungkook rolls his eyes, but sends Jimin a small grin, and it reminds him of a bunny. Jimin watches the two bicker, and he laughs, as they throw childish insults at each other. A part of Jimin wonders if the Jeon’s will one day let him into their own little world they have.
“You brat! At least, I don’t let us starve whenever it’s my week to pick out meals!,” Aunt Chaeyoung screeches, as she throws her napkin at her son’s cheeky smile.
Jungkook throws the napkin back at his mother, and his smile becomes softer around the edges as he turns to Jimin. “Jimin-hyung,” he says, and Aunt Chaeyoung calms down, as her son addresses Jimin. “It’s your turn to choose our meals next week.”
And as both of the Jeon’s grin at him with scrunched noses and crinkled eyes, Park Jimin finds himself making space for two more people in his heart.
I can help , Jimin mouths, as he washes his hands. He smiles brightly before chopping the plate of carrots and bell peppers.
Aunt Chaeyoung grins, her eyes crinkling and nose scrunching, as she pours the minced onions and garlic into the pot. Placing her spatula on the rim of the pot, she brushes off her apron and opens a jar of kimchi.
Jimin hands her the cutting board full of neatly minced carrots and bell peppers, and he goes to open the fridge for the marinaded chicken. He stops to look over the collage of pictures that were on the fridge, and his gaze freezes over the rectangular picture at the top right corner. The faded photo was a picture of a young, grade-school age Chaeyoung leaning over the arm of a wheelchair, as she laughed along with the petite girl in the wheelchair. Jimin presses his lips tightly together, as he observes the girl’s soft eyesmile and nearly unnoticeable dimples.
His aunt notices Jimin’s stiff posture, and she walks over to glance over his shoulder. “Oh! That picture is of me and your mother when we were younger,” she says, and her lips curl into an automatic grin.
(When I was younger, his mother says, there was a girl who had a soulmate)
“Your mother may have been the kindest soul I know,” she says, humming as she recalls her memories of her sister. “But when we were children, she was a true spitfire. Whenever the other students tried to pull shit on her, she fought them with fists.” Jimin’s aunt sighs fondly.
Aunt Chaeyoung’s forehead creases and her eyes narrow in unease. “Jimin.” She says his name warily, when she notices his expression. “Are you okay?”
(She did not have the ability to walk without her soulmate, so she used a wheelchair, she says
Half of our year had soulmates,
But people will always find ways to say or do cruel things-)
Jimin shakes his head and smiles at his aunt, but his eyes are frantic and his hands shake as he signs. Nothing , he replies. I just miss her. Is it okay if I go upstairs for a bit before dinner?
Aunt Chaeyoung doesn’t even let him finish the question before steering him towards the staircase. And the second his knees bump against the bottom bunk bed, he collapses onto it.
Jimin shoves his palms against his eyelids.
(-and she learned that fighting with fists wouldn’t change anything)
It has been a few years since his mothers death, though he is not sure just how long ago she died, and perhaps, that should worry him. He does not remember much of her death, but he distinctly remembers the aftermath. The funeral, the evening fights, the way his father slammed his head against the fridge-
It has been a few years since his mother’s death, and Jimin finally allows himself to mourn.
Yoongi is studying for his exams, when his father comes home, though he doesn’t notice until the man pats his shoulder and pours himself a glass of water. Yoongi waves, before flipping another page of the textbook.
Studying again? His father’s signing is smooth and fluent after two years of conversing with his son. Yoongi nods and lifts up his coffee mug to mockingly press it against the tip of his dad’s glass, and then says, “Cheers.”
Yoongi glances at his father to see him laughing as he sips his water, and he gives his dad a wry smile. “How is Mrs. Kim”, he asks his father, if only to embarrass the man. But his dad simply grins happily, as he sits next to his son.
She is doing well. She told me to say hi to you.
“Tell her I said hi.” Yoongi highlights another passage from his textbook. “You two have gotten pretty close.”
His dad looks at Yoongi apprehensively, before sighing. She asked me out , his father signs, and Yoongi raises an eyebrow. Yoongi stopped going to Dr. Kim once he was able to speak comfortably. The pathologist befriended his father after his last session with her, and they stayed in contact. Ms. Kim became very...clear about wanting to date his father, and Jin and Yoongi have observed their parents with amusement. He personally finds it comical to see his father become flustered by the bold, confident Kim Jiyeon.
“Did you say yes?” Yoongi asks.
Staring into his glass of water, his father nods. Is that okay with you? Yoongi doesn’t know why his father is asking. But then he remembers the night he sat against the front door with him, and he remembers how their house of four became a house of two, and how the empty spaces left room for loneliness to settle in weeks after.
Most would ask his father why he would date someone that isn’t his soulmate, or why he would try to love someone who the universe didn’t pair him up with. Most would ask his father if it was worth defying fate and never getting his ability back.
Instead, Yoongi asks: “Does she make you happy?”
And when his father signs a firm, yes , Yoongi’s lips curl into a small smile.
“Well,” he says calmly. “Your happiness is my happiness, father.”
Yoongi’s father smiles fondly at him, and Yoongi knows that if most had asked, then the man would’ve still said yes.
Yoongi enters their dreamscape beside his soulmate, who is waving his hand in the pond water as he coos over the koi fish. After twenty minutes of helping the younger boy feed the koi fish, Yoongi realizes he has never asked for his soulmate’s name. Just as his soulmate is about to say his name, his voice leaves him.
So, Yoongi and his soulmate have a slight problem.
“I guess we’ll have to give each other nicknames, hyung!” His soulmate says brightly, and Yoongi wonders how his soulmate is such an angel. “It seems as though the universe doesn’t want us to know each other’s names, until we interact in real life.”
Yoongi grunts in irritation, because honestly, in his opinion? The universe could go choke for all he cared. He is a simple boy, who wishes for very few things: figure out how to avoid Jin-hyung’s awful KSL puns and know what his soulmate’s name is. And yet, the universe is unable to grant him either of those, and really, what did Yoongi do to deserve this treatment? Nothing.
“Don’t act so annoyed,” his soulmate chides, and Yoongi snorts.
His soulmate says it’s the universe testing their will to find each other, but Yoongi says that it’s bullshit.
The younger boy scolds him for his bad language.
“Hyung, what should our nicknames be?” His soulmate asks while grasping his ankles. “Can I call you jibangi? Because you kinda look like jibangi-”
“No.” Yoongi interrupts immediately. “You are not calling me jibangi, or I’ll make our dreamscape a desert and abandon you in it.”
The younger boy pouts before puffing his cheeks out. “But hyung,” he whines as he flops into Yoongi’s lap. “What will I call you then?”
“I guess you could call me Suga-hyung,” he suggests after a few minutes of brainstorming.
His soulmate perks up. “What does Suga stand for?” He asks eagerly.
Yoongi pats his soulmate’s head. “It stands for shooting guard, like the position in basketball,” Yoongi explains.
“So you play basketball, hyung?” The younger boy asks, and he leans forward until their noses are touching. He is nearly shaking in excitement, as he stares at Yoongi with wide, sparkling eyes. Yoongi nods, avoiding his soulmate’s eyes because holy shit, why does his soulmate look so cute when he is excited?
“That’s so cool! You’re so cool, hyung!” The younger boy crows, as he hugs Yoongi enthusiastically.
“Whatever,” Yoongi mutters flusteredly. “It’s not that big of a deal. It’s more of a hobby to be honest.”
Yoongi thinks of his odd soulmate, and his lips curl downwards in embarrassment from the younger boy’s previous exclamations. Gently, he pushes the smaller boy away from him and crosses his arms. His soulmate puffs his cheeks out, as he lays on the ground, limbs sprawled and his left cheek pressing against the grass.
“What are you gonna call me, Suga-hyung?” His soulmate asks, and now his voice is soft and shy, as he pokes his fingers together. Yoongi lets out a huff in amusement at the smaller boy’s shift from excited to timid.
Yoongi taps his chin in mock-thought, mostly to frustrate his soulmate and partly to actually think about what nickname to use. “Hyung?” His soulmate asks, eyebrows furrowed after the older boy remains silent for five minutes straight.
“I’ll call you Mini,” Yoongi says. “Because you’re tiny.”
“Suga-hyung!” His soulmate exclaims, his bottom lip jutting out childishly, as he tries to glare at Yoongi.
“Yes, Mini,” Yoongi replies teasingly.
Mini puffs his cheeks out again, and crosses his arms. “Stupid hyung,” Yoongi’s soulmate mutters quietly, and Yoongi laughs.
They settle down, and his soulmate leans against Yoongi. “How is your dad, Suga-hyung?” Mini asks in a sweet, lilting voice, and Yoongi can’t help but feel bitter that such a pretty voice was taken away just because the universe is an asshole .
“He’s dating, actually.” Yoongi laughs at the boy’s excited puppy eyes.
“He is?” Mini asks. “Who is he dating?”
“Remember the speech-language pathologist I told you about?”
“Yea,” his soulmate says. Then, his eyes widen and his mouth parts.
“No way,” Mini cries out. “He’s dating the pathologist?”
Yoongi grins. “Mhm, but it isn’t a big deal since I stopped having sessions with her a while ago,” he explains. “They’ve been together for half a year now.”
“Wow,” he whispers in awe. Then, with a rueful expression, he says, “It seems as though soulmate pairs around us don’t work very well, do they.”
Nodding, Yoongi becomes somber. “Yea,” he admits. “It seems like that’s how it is.”
Perking up, Mini smiles angelically. “But it’s okay,” he says, “Because they’re happy.”
“And,” his soulmate adds. “We’ll be the exception.”
Yoongi hums in agreement. “We’ll be the exception,” he repeats fondly.
Jimin finishes writing his notes as the students around him shuffle noisily into groups to eat lunch. Placing his pen back into his pencil case, he brings out his lunch and smiles gently. It’s finally his week to choose the meals for Aunt Chaeyoung, Jungkook, and himself, something he is glad for after a week of Jungkook’s meal choices. Jimin has never seen someone eat six cups of ramen in one go, but he has also never stayed in one house for over four months after his mother’s death, so he guesses that the Jeon’s will always bring new things into his life.
Today, Jimin chose to make a simple lunch with cute designs. He left little notes with Aunt Chaeyoung and Jungkook’s lunch boxes, wishing them a good day and encouraging them to work hard. When it was his first week to plan and make meals, Jimin had nervously taped his notes onto the top of their lunch boxes and had spent the whole day regretting it, until he came home to find that Jungkook had covered the note in clear tape over the corner of his desk so it wouldn’t wear away, and Aunt Chaeyoung kept it on the fridge door.
Jimin is happy and thankful that Aunt Chaeyoung and Jungkook let him join their little world, and after a little over a year of staying with them, he can easily call them his family. Sometimes, he wakes up from dreams of Jihyun burning cities down with tiny matchsticks, but sometimes, he wakes up from dreams of his soulmate, Suga-hyung, and the good nights outweigh the bad nights.
As Jimin pulls out his lunch box, his eyes widen at the sight of two sticky notes attached to the cover. The blue one is written in capital letters and has a caricature of Aunt Chaeyoung giving a thumbs up, while the pink one is written in small, round letters with a smiley face next to Jungkook’s name.
Jimin tucks the notes into his pocket reverently, and is about to eat when someone interrupts him. “Yo,” the boy says as he slides into the desk in front of Jimin’s, sitting so that his chest leans against the back of the chair. He has a lunch bag in one hand and an applesauce pouch in the other hand.
Jimin waves and smiles kindly, but the boy doesn’t react.
“Hello?” The boy calls out with a frown. “You are sitting in front of me, right?”
Jimin nods, only to realize what the problem is when he meets the boy’s cloudy eyes. Oh, Jimin thinks, the boy is blind. Then, Jimin feels his stomach drop. How is he supposed to communicate with the boy if he can’t read his lips or use KSL?
The tall boy turns to his left and says, “There’s a boy in front of me, right? Or did you assholes lie about Park Jimin sitting in the desk in front of me?” The others laugh and tell the boy that Jimin is sitting in front of him.
“He can’t speak,” a student explains, and the boy’s mouth forms an O in understanding.
“Well, shit.” He says. “This is awkward because you can’t use sign language or mouth the words since I can’t see.”
Then, the boy starts laughing. After a minute, Jimin’s shoulders shake in silent laughter too, because it was so awkwardly funny that the first person to bother talking to him in this school is a boy who can’t even read his mouth or follow his KSL.
“Hmm,” the boy hums thoughtfully. “Tap once for disagreement, tap twice for agreement. You’re Park Jimin?”
Jimin taps twice.
“You can’t speak?”
Jimin taps twice.
“Because of your soulmate?”
Jimin taps twice.
The boy nods, and says, “Me too, only I’m blind.” He finished his pouch of applesauce before sighing. “I wish I had gotten enhanced senses in return for my eyesight being taken, because that’d be pretty awesome.” The boy throws away the empty applesauce pouch, and it misses the trashcan by three meters. Jimin wishes he could speak so he could ask why he even had an applesauce pouch instead of an applesauce cup.
Well, Jimin thinks as he studies the empty pouch. It is more travel-safe, and it doesn’t require a spoon which is pretty efficient.
Maybe Jimin should buy some applesauce pouches for the lunch boxes tomorrow.
“Hey, Park Jimin? We should be friends, best friends in fact,” the boy says casually, but Jimin can hear the earnestness in his voice, and his heart swells. He’s never had someone want to befriend him on their own choice, and the feeling fills Jimin’s heart.
Jimin taps twice.
The boy grins, and it looks like a box. “My name is Kim Taehyung,” he says proudly, and he sticks his hand out to shake with Jimin only to aim it incorrectly and shove it out the open window. Jimin giggles and redirects Taehyung’s arm so that their hands connect and shake firmly. “Nice to meet you, best friend.”
And that, is how Park Jimin and Kim Taehyung become best friends.
“Are you leaving, Taehyung?”
A fellow classmate of theirs is helping Taehyung clean the art clubroom. Jimin’s back is parallel to the hallway wall opposite of the clubroom’s open door, and he traces the patterns of the fading sunlight with his eyes. He has been waiting five minutes for Taehyung to finish up cleaning the art club’s materials, but he doesn’t mind. Taehyung has always been okay with waiting for Jimin in the corner tucked between the library doors and the intersection of their school’s main hallway, and Jimin has learned that friendship is about equilibrium. So as Taehyung to rinses his soapy hands and sorts an arrangement of freshly cleaned brushes, Jimin waits patiently.
“Yup,” Taehyung says, and he sets the paint-stained cup full of brushes onto the counter. “ChimChim and I are gonna go try out that restaurant by the grocery store! His aunt said that the food there is super tasty and cheap too.”
“Chimchim?” The classmate makes a noise of recognition. “Oh! Park Jimin, right?”
Taehyung hums, and his voice vibrates deeply as he turns off the faucet. Their classmate finishes stacking the chairs, before sighing. “You know,” he tells Taehyung. “You’re a real saint, Taehyung."
Jimin’s best friend pauses, and when he speaks, Jimin can hear that his voice has lowered slightly. “How so,” he asks nonchalantly.
“Well, it’s just that Park Jimin is kinda...you know.” The classmate shuffles the pile of chairs around so they align by the windows of the room.
“No, I don’t ‘know’,” Taehyung says, and Jimin’s shoulders raise as he senses the change in the air of the clubroom. He can’t see his best friend’s expression since Taehyung’s back is facing him, and a part of him is glad he can’t. Kim Taehyung is considered abstract, but fun by their classmates. But Jimin thinks Taehyung is a free spirit, and perhaps, that is why he is Taehyung’s best friend and their classmates are not. And despite Taehyung’s usual disposition, the boy can be frightening when he is angry.
Jimin can hear their classmate hop to sit on the counter. “Jimin is kinda hard to get along with,” he explains, and he sounds annoyed. “He can come off as arrogant sometimes.”
Then, he bounces his knee and taps the heel of his shoes to the cabinets beneath the counter. “Not to mention, it’s already too much effort to talk to him most of the time. Isn’t it a pain? I know you’re a nice person, Taehyung, but it’s not really worth it” He flicks the drying rack. “How do you even talk to him when you can’t see and he doesn’t speak? Must be irritating.”
Jimin closes his eyes and leans against the wall behind him. Slowly, he slides his back down the wall, so he’s sitting on the floor.
He’s heard this conversation many, many times.
Jimin bites the inside of his cheek. Frustration is trapped beneath his skin, and it clouds his lungs like smoke. He inhales, and he swallows his spit like its fire. Once, the bitterness would’ve consumed him and the rage would have burned his throat, and they would’ve destroyed himself from the inside. But he has heard those words all his life, and his bitterness and rage are only a dull ache that taste like resignation. Now, he just feels tired.
“It is not irritating ,” Taehyung says, and his voice is sharp and biting. “It is not a pain , and it is most definitely not too much effort . He can’t speak, and even if he could, he is not obliged to speak. He is not hard to get along with, and he is most definitely not arrogant . Arrogance is your presumption that someone not speaking is arrogant. Arrogance is your belief that someone is not worth the effort of being treated like another human being just because they can’t speak.”
Jimin’s eyes widen.
“H-hey,” the classmate stutters. “Don’t take it personally, Taehyung. I’m just saying.”
“I will take it personally, because that’s my best friend you are talking about. And even if he wasn’t my friend, he is another person, and he deserves being treated as such,” Taehyung tells him harshly. “Get off your high horse, and start realizing that you don’t have the right to treat others as below you."
Taehyung grabs his bag, and says, “I’m leaving first, so finish up. I’ve kept my best friend waiting for too long.”
Before the other boy could protest, Taehyung is slamming the door behind him. Leaning his forehead against the wall, Taehyung’s expression calms. When he hears Jimin standing up, he blinks. “Chimchim,” he asks gently, and it’s deafening in the silence of the hallway. “Are you here?”
Jimin taps the wall twice, and Taehyung reaches for him. “Come on,” he says cheerfully. “Time to eat! Sorry I kept you waiting, cleaning up the art club’s messes can take a lot of time.”
Jimin just bumps his shoulder against Taehyung’s. Taehyung fumbles to interlock his large fingers with Jimin’s small ones, and he nods gratefully when Jimin presses his walking stick into his other hand. “Let’s walk like this,” Taehyung says, and he smiles knowingly. “I trust you, so don’t lead me into a lamp post.”
With a slight smile, Jimin attempts to tug the boy through the school doors, but Taehyung refuses to move. “Jimin,” he says, and the small boy jolts. “Thank you for being my friend.”
Taehyung’s hand tightens around Jimin’s. “Your friendship is precious to me,” he tells Jimin. “I won’t take it for granted.”
Jimin’s heart thumps heavily, and his chest feels heavy as he inhales shakily. His vision clouds over slightly. He doesn’t cry, but his eyes ache as he blinks rapidly. When he exhales, his chest loosens. His stomach settles, and swallowing doesn’t hurt anymore. Then, his lips curl into a shy smile.
“Even if you cannot say what you feel or think,” Taehyung says. “Your emotions and opinions matter, so don’t listen to what people say, okay?” He tilts his head back and smiles fondly. “I can’t wait to learn more about you, Park Jimin. Let’s be best friends for a long, long time.”
Their fellow classmates look at Taehyung, and they think he is unconventional, but entertaining. But Jimin observes Taehyung, and he thinks he is a brilliant, observant mind that is as freeing as he is free. Taehyung finds the isolation that cages his heart, and he removes it. Because while their classmates look at Jimin and think they are unable to unlock the cage that separates him from them, Taehyung studies it and finds that it wasn’t even locked to begin with. It was simply just there.
And perhaps, this is why he is Taehyung’s best friend and Taehyung is his best friend.
“Hi Aunt Chaeyoung,” Taehyung says when he hears the door open and close. He is hanging out with Jimin in the kitchen as the latter is cooking dinner.
“Taehyung! The only fun one around here,” Aunt Chaeyoung exclaims as she enters the kitchen. She opens the fridge and pulls out a sprite before sitting down at the table with Taehyung.
Taehyung sighs, and says, “Thank goodness it was actually you and not ChimChim’s younger brother, that would have been embarrassing if I greeted someone incorrectly.”
Aunt Chaeyoung chokes, as she sets her soda onto the table. “Taehyung.” She snorts. “Never change, kid.”
Taehyung shrugs and grins. “Wasn’t planning on it!”
“Have you even met Jungkook?” Aunt Chaeyoung asks.
She nods, and then sighs. “Well, you’ll probably meet him tonight if you’re staying for dinner. He’s in the school library at the moment, but he said he would be home for regular dinner time.” Aunt Chaeyoung explains while getting up to lean over Jimin’s shoulder and observe his cooking.
Taehyung blinks. “Did Jungkook get that habit from ChimChim, because ChimChim spends most of his school day afternoons in the library to study excessively or read up on extra information.”
“Did the egg come before the chicken or did the chicken come before the egg,” Aunt Chaeyoung says before laughing. “I honestly don’t understand how both Jungkook and Jimin are so studious. They certainly didn’t pick that up from me .”
“ChimChim didn’t pick that habit up from me, either.” Taehyung says.
Jimin lightly bops them on the head with his spatula and gives them a scolding look. “I may be blind,” Taehyung says. “But I feel like ChimChim is judging me silently.”
“He is,” Aunt Chaeyoung replies in amusement.
“I knew it,” Taehyung mutters.
Aunt Chaeyoung laughs, and says, “Not that I don’t love you being here, Taehyung, but what’re you here for?” She finishes off her sprite and starts to set the table with napkins and utensils.
Taehyung brightens up immediately, turning to the older lady with the excitement of a puppy. “I’m making a language, want to help?”
Aunt Chaeyoung pauses. “You’re making a language?”
“And why,” she starts, voice full of confusion. “Are you making a language?”
Taehyung taps his pencil. “Well, since I’m blind and therefore cannot see ChimChim’s suhwa, I have decided to make a language that he can use in order to talk to me or reply. Probably something related to tapping,” he explains, as he absentmindedly scribbled on his notebook paper. “We tried tapping out morse code, but that was boring and difficult.”
Aunt Chaeyoung deadpans, and Jimin’s shoulders shake in silent laughter at how similar she looks to Jungkook when she does that. “And you thought that making a whole new language would be less difficult?” She asks incredulously, only to burst into chortles when the tall boy nods zealously.
“Besides,” Taehyung says, and his expression becomes mellow and serious. “Jimin is worth it.”
Aunt Chaeyoung smiles when Jimin pauses in his cooking. “Well, why don’t you just let Jimin type whatever he wants to say and have Siri say it,” Aunt Chaeyoung proposes.
Aunt Chaeyoung winks at Jimin before turning her attention back to Taehyung and failing to stop herself from laughing at the crestfallen expression on his face.
“But,” Taehyung says sullenly. “I wanted to make a language.”
Jimin slides his phone open and types before allowing Siri’s robotic voice to fill the kitchen room. “You can still make a language, Taehyung. We’ll just use both interchangeably, based on when their use is more efficient over the other.”
Taehyung looks hopeful, and asks, “Really?”
Jimin types on his phone and taps the screen: “Yes.”
“Can I call it the Taechim Code?”
Jimin sighs fondly. “Yes.”
“Can it be just for you and me? Like a super best friend code?”
Jimin taps the kitchen table twice, and Taehyung squishes Jimin’s cheeks in excitement.
Taehyung is sprawled on Jimin’s bed, as the older boy works on his homework, when Jungkook comes in. Jungkook is balancing a tray of hot teas and a row of unopened yakults while closing the bedroom door behind him. Jimin and Jungkook still share a room despite Aunt Chaeyoung cleaning out the guest room for Jimin, since both of the boys enjoy spending time and studying together.
Jimin and Jungkook call it efficient, but Aunt Chaeyoung calls it being ungrateful of her hard work to clear out the guest room.
“Hi, Jimin-hyung,” Jungkook greets him with a wide grin that scrunches his nose and shows off his bunny-like teeth. His wide eyes blink, as he sees Taehyung, and he manages to trip over Jimin’s backpack, spilling the hot tea all over his hands and feet.
Jungkook drops the tray and shakes his hands, as he makes a pained groan. “Oh my god, it hurts so badly,” he wheezes. Jimin’s head whips around to see Jungkook grasping red, burnt hands, and when he sees the pain across Jungkook’s face, his expression is one of realization.
Jimin immediately takes his cold cup and wraps the younger boy’s hands around it, and then rapidly smacks his best friend. “Ow, ChimChim,” Taehyung whines as he sits up. “Stop hitting m-”
Taehyung’s cloudy eyes flit over to Jungkook, and they clear up into a dark brown. “Holy shit,” he breathes out, as he stumbles to Jungkook. “Nochu?” He asks uncertainly.
Jungkook looks up and drops Jimin’s cup of ice water. “Wait, Noot Noot?”
Taehyung beams before launching himself at Jungkook. “Oh my god!” He screeches as he shakes Jungkook’s shoulders. “My best friend’s adopted brother is my soulmate, oh my god!”
Aunt Chaeyoung suddenly flings open the door, and Jimin flinches as the door handle makes a hole in the wall. “Taehyung is Jungkook’s soulmate,” she asks loudly.
“I’M NOCHU’S SOULMATE!” Taehyung screams, as Jungkook plugs his ears with his fingers.
“TAEHYUNG IS MY SON’S SOULMATE!” Aunt Chaeyoung roars, as she hugs the two boys. Jungkook looks as though he wants to bolt, and Jimin is staring at the hole in the bedroom wall mournfully. It’ll be so expensive to fix, he thinks sadly.
“Can I call you Jungkookie,” Taehyung asks excitedly. Jungkook shrugs, but his ears are pink as he stands by his soulmate.
“Sure, do I call you Taehyung-hyung?” Jungkook questions teasingly, and Taehyung snorts in amusement.
“Nah,” Taehyung dismisses. “Tae-hyung, or TaeTae-hyung is fine.”
“Okay...Tae-hyung.” Jungkook nods.
“Hey ChimChim, your brother is my soulmate,” Taehyung exclaims. He bounces around the room. “Can you believe that?”
Jimin smiles, as he taps his desk twice.
Yoongi traces the engraved words on his desk as the teacher went over a lesson. Math is boring, and he understands it enough to zone out during a few of the lessons without his grades suffering from it. Not to mention, he couldn’t hear the lessons, even if he wanted to. Which he didn’t. Because math was probably the most boring subject Yoongi has ever had the displeasure of experiencing. As he moves on to tracing the doodle of a bowl with the word ‘ramyun’ above it, a neatly folded square is slid into his peripheral.
Blinking, he peers at the boy who gave him the paper. The boy grins, and his mouth forms the shape of a heart as he gives Yoongi a thumbs up for encouragement. Sighing, Yoongi unfolds the paper and reads the note.
I’m Hoseok! Call me Hobi!! I’m bored, wanna pass notes w/ me? :o -H
Yoongi snorts quietly before replying with: Sure. -Y
Hoseok beams, when he reads over the reply, and he goes to scribbling on the paper. After a minute, he stealthily leans to rest his chin on his forearm, and his fingers place the paper between the two students.
Nice to meet you, Yoongi-hyung (can I call you that?) Let’s write three facts about ourselves and a question for each other to get to know each other better <:
- I don’t have a soulmate lol
- I hate snakes ) : <
- I have a sister, and she’s super awesome!!!
Why do you never pay attention to class, and why do the teachers never care???
Yoongi reads the note, and he starts to write out his reply.
- I have a soulmate
- My parents are divorced, so I live with my dad
- I like basketball
Since I have a soulmate, my ability to hear is gone unless I meet them. I get taught by someone who can use suhwa, but I also read to make up for the lack of being able to hear the lessons.
What’s it like not having a soulmate?
Hoseok grin broadens, when he finishes reading the note.
Well I guess it’s a good thing I started interacting with you by notes instead of trying to talk to you lol
Since I don’t know what having a soulmate is like, I can’t really tell you what not having one is like? But, my sister once told me something:
Soulmates are not two halves of one whole, they are two wholes, who happen to match up really well. I don’t need to be given a soulmate in order to know how to be happy or how to live life, and I get the freedom to choose whoever I want to be with, if I choose anyone at all. But then again, soulmates don’t always mean you have to be with that person. You can love someone else who isn’t your soulmate.
What is your favorite animal?
Jimin nudges Jungkook, and the younger boy blinks owlishly before asking, “Hyung?”
The two have been studying for the past few hours, as they have a routine of spending the weekends studying in the mornings and going off with other friends or to do other activities during the afternoon.
Carefully, Jimin signs to Jungkook. I was wondering if you and TaeTae aged in your dreams you shared? Jimin asks, and he observes Jungkook’s facial expression change from confusion to more confusion to realization, and then more confusion.
“Well, yea,” Jungkook says, as though it was unquestionable. “That’s why we were able to notice each other so easily despite not knowing each other's’ names. Why, do you and your soulmate not age in the dreams you share?”
Jimin tries not to silently laugh when he remembers that Jungkook and Taehyung used the nicknames Nochu and Noot Noot in their dreamscapes before meeting each other in real life. Honestly, his brother and best friend were such a mess.
Well , Jimin starts. I don’t ever age, but sometimes my soulmate does? It’s weird, like most of the time, he stays the same. But sometimes, there’s he changes?
Jungkook pauses as he traces the outline of his textbook while thinking. “Huh, that’s odd,” he admits. “How can you tell that he’s different?”
That’s the reason I’m asking you , Jimin explains. Last dream, the change was really obvious, because my soulmate’s hair was blond instead of it’s usual black hair.
Jungkook stares at Jimin disbelievingly. “Wow,” he breathes out. “Is the hair color relevant still?”
Jimin gives him a confused expression, and Jungkook elaborates, “Like, is his hair color, when he is awake, the same as his hair color, when he is sharing a dream with you?”
Jimin nods. Yea, he told me that he actually dyed it a month ago. We’ve shared dreams since then, so we’re confused as to why it only showed up. Especially when I’m not aging at all, for some reason.
Jungkook scratches his cheek before jotting down the information on a sticky note. “I don’t know what’s going on, hyung, but I’ll ask mom about it.” Jungkook gives his hyung a bunny smile, and the older boy beams at him before signing a thank you.
Yoongi runs his fingers through his soulmate’s hair as the boy rambles. They tend to share dreams a few times a week, but it has been occurring less frequently, as Yoongi had finals in college coming up, so they spend their shared dreams relaxing.
“Suga-hyung?” Mini glances up at Yoongi. “You’ve been in college for a couple of years, right?”
Yoongi nods lethargically. “I’m finishing up my second year, now,” he tells his soulmate. When he notices Mini biting his lip, he asks, “Why?”
His soulmate fidgets. “Well,” he says slowly. “I’m going to college soon with Taehyung. We’re rooming together.
Yoongi’s expression clears up, and he smiles. “You’re nervous about going to college,” he states.
“Yea,” his soulmate says.
“College is difficult,” Yoongi admits. “But, you get a lot more freedom in comparison to high school. Not to mention, it’ll be easier since Taehyung will be with you.”
Mini presses his cheek against Yoongi’s knee. “Oh okay,” his soulmate says languidly. “Is it easier to make friends in college?”
Yoongi licks his lips, and thinks for a second. “I mean, you meet more people and get more chances to find people will similar interests,” he explains. “But, it was a lot easier for me because Jin-hyung is very, very popular in college and so is Hoseok.”
Nodding thoughtfully, Mini plays with Yoongi’s left hand. “I’m scared,” he whispers. “Taehyung is gonna make so many friends in college, and I don’t want to be left behind.”
Then, he curls his knees to his chest and tightly grasps Yoongi’s hand. “I don’t want Taehyung to forget about me.”
Yoongi feels his heart break. “He won’t forget about you,” he murmurs. “Taehyung cares a lot about you, and he won’t ever do something like that to you, Mini.”
“Yea,” he says softly. “He won’t.”
“I met Namjoon in one of my classes. He is the clumsiest person I have ever met. Even clumsier than you, Mini. Later, we found out that he was actually Jin-hyung’s soulmate. We became friends after bonding over our mutual hatred for our class’s TA.” Yoongi pats his soulmate’s hair. “If I can make friends by myself, then you most certainly can, Mini.”
Mini smiles, and says, “Your friends sound nice.”
“They’re assholes,” he says wryly. “For my birthday, they gave me noise-cancelling headphones, knowing that they weren’t useful because I’m deaf. But they’re my friends.”
Mini giggles. “That’s an expensive joke,” he says, and Yoongi snorts.
“I wear them everywhere,” Yoongi admits sheepishly. “People don’t try to talk to me when I wear them, it’s great. Also, if they do talk to me, I can ignore them with an excuse other than ‘I’m deaf’.”
His soulmate clicks his tongue in disapprovement, while Yoongi grins. “Suga-hyung, that’s mean,” he scolds gently, and the older boy tugs him into a hug.
“Not mean, just useful,” he corrects.
His soulmate laughs, and it echoes through the dreamscape.
Taehyung grips Jimin’s hand in encouragement, and Jimin smiles anxiously.
“Ready?” Taehyung asks excitedly, and he starts to drag the shorter boy through their new place-the dorm where they would be rooming together for college.
Jimin taps the door twice.
Jimin adjusts his headphones, as he stretches, eyes wandering away from his textbook and pencil pouch of stationery. He has been studying for the past four hours; his eyes hurt and he pats his empty stomach while observing the library. He has been sitting alone during studying, so he jumps when he notices a boy sitting across from him.
Jimin studies the boy’s sharp jaw and mint hair that is somewhat hidden by headphones. The student is typing away on his laptop with long, slim hands. He looks up at Jimin and nods before pushing up his black glasses and continuing to work on the laptop.
Flushing pink, Jimin immediately diverts his eyes after the guy catches him staring and goes back to reading his textbook and writing down notes. As he throws himself back into studying, he misses the amused smirk the guy sends him.
A few hours later, Jimin takes another break and can’t help the disappointment welling up in his stomach when he sees that his table is, once again, empty apart from him. Jimin shuffles his papers before knocking something next to his wrist. His lips stretch into a gentle smile as he picks up the wrapped blueberry muffin and neatly scrawled note.
You looked like you were hungry.
Jimin takes a bite of the muffin, and decides to leave the library. He studied for nearly seven hours, and he promised Taehyung that he would bring back ramen. With a large stretch, he stands up and places his stuff in his backpack, and then, he hesitantly put the note in his pocket.
Seokjin is a skyscraper, and he easily matches Taehyung in height with his large shoulders and blond hair. He is wearing a pink shirt when Jimin meets him, and he greets Jimin with a pun about the boy’s soft pink hair and gives a windshield wiper laugh. Taehyung and Jungkook stare at him incredulously when he cannot help but silently giggle at the pun, and proceeds to groan when Seokjin lights up.
“Finally,” Seokjin says. “Someone with a good sense of humor!”
Taehyung shakes his head furiously and makes an X shape with his arms while Jungkook snorts. “No offense, hyung, but your puns aren’t that funny.” Taehyung grabs Jungkook’s hand as he insults the oldest man’s sense of humor.
Jimin is about to sign something, when he pauses.
“Don’t worry, Chim! Seokjin-hyung knows suhwa so you can sign if you want,” Taehyung explains, as he pats Jimin’s head. The shorter boy pouts and smacks Taehyung’s hand away before looking at Seokjin with wide eyes.
“Yea, I can understand and use suhwa.” Seokjin grins, as he signs his previous greeting. “My mother is a speech-language pathologist, so she taught me when I expressed interest in it.
Jimin’s eyes curl, as he beams at the older student. Hi, hyung! I’m Jimin, it’s nice to meet you!
Seokjin coos, and then he squishes Jimin’s cheeks together. “You’re so cute!” Seokjin exclaims while tugging at the smaller boy’s cheeks.
Jimin frowns and puffs his cheeks. I’m not cute!
Seokjin grins and says, “You’re adorable! Look at how small your hands are!” He presses his hand against Jimin’s to compare their hand sizes and laughs brightly when Jimin flushes in embarrassment.
Taehyung flashes a box-shaped grin as he swings an arm around Jimin’s shoulder, and says, “Yea, Chimchim is mini-sized.”
Jimin hits Taehyung’s shoulder. I am not mini-sized! You aren’t even that much taller than me , he signs in frustration. Jungkook rolls his eyes and mutters a quiet, “Okay, sure hyung”, and bumps shoulders with his boyfriend.
Before Jimin could attack Jungkook, Seokjin leans forward. “Jimin, you should come to my party tonight! It won’t be big or crazy, it’s just a group of friends chilling out.”
The shorter boy tilts his head. Are you sure it’s okay for me to come? He asks hesitantly.
Seokjin nods enthusiastically as he rolls his shoulders back. “It’s nothing big,” he assures Jimin softly. “Taehyung and Jungkook will be there, too. It is more like a get-together, to be honest. Don’t feel pressured, but we would love you to come!”
Okay, I’d like to come. Jimin smiles shyly and Seokjin melts, poking Jimin’s cheek as he continues to fluster him.
“The party is around 8PM!” The blond says, and when Jimin asks if he needs to bring anything, he shakes his head. “I already have all the food and drinks provided, so don’t worry.”
Jimin nods, and thanks his hyung as he walks to his dorm. He has to drop off his backpack and take a shower before the party, so he hurries to open the door and get ready. As he pulls his materials out of his bag, he remembers the note that mint-haired boy gave him and takes it out of his pocket. Placing it on his bedside table, he slips his shoes off. Jimin pulls on a comfy sweater after his shower.
With a gentle smile, Jimin thinks of how easily Kim Seokjin included him in their conversation and his sweater feels warm and fuzzy.
Yoongi wasn’t sure what he expected when he went to his stepbrother’s get-together, but he certainly did not expect to see the boy he gave a muffin to in the library.
The boy is sitting on the couch as he nervously tugs his sleeves over his hands, and he watches the others with curious, shy eyes. Yoongi inhales sharply when he sees the boy, because god , nobody should be allowed to look so cute. He thinks of the way the boy’s hair matched his cheeks when he blushed in the library, and, without thinking, goes to sit by him.
Then, he sees a guy from his class talk to the cute boy. Slowly, his curious expression contorts into an uncomfortable one. Yoongi wonders what his classmate is saying, but decides that it doesn’t matter when he tightly grabs the small boy’s wrist, causing him to flinch.
“Hey,” Yoongi calls, and he watches the guy pause. “He doesn’t look very comfortable, so maybe you should fuck off.”
The guy snarls, and Yoongi doesn’t bother to try and read his lip movements. “I don’t care what you think,” he points out boredly. “Can you fuck off? I was gonna sit here, and I don’t wanna have to deal with your bullshit.”
As Yoongi sits down, his classmate stalks off.
The cute boy sitting next to Yoongi turns to face him, and bows his head slightly. “By the way,” Yoongi says. “He was bothering you, right?”
Yoongi almost wheezes when the boy tilts his head in confusion, because he’s so fucking adorable, what the actual hell? Then, Yoongi clears his throat awkwardly. “Uh well, I’m actually deaf and my lip reading is absolute shit, so I couldn’t really tell what he was saying.
The boy’s eyes widen in realization. “I just saw how uncomfortable you were, and figured he was saying shit,” Yoongi explains, feeling uncomfortable.
The boy with sweater paws nods.
“Well, that’s...good.” Inwardly, Yoongi is cursing his lack of social skills. He’s friends with Jung Hoseok, an actual social butterfly! So why is talking to others so hard?
They both sit there in silence for a few minutes, before the boy next to Yoongi pulls out a whiteboard and an expo marker. I’m mute , he writes and Yoongi chokes on his water.
Thank you for helping me just now , he continues. Also, don’t worry. It’s way too dark and busy to lip read comfortably.
Yoongi blinks, and runs his fingers through his bangs. “Do you use suhwa,” he asks casually.
The boy perks up, and he leans close to Yoongi. Yoongi tries not to react to the feeling of the boy’s sweater paw hand on his knee, and his pretty face right in fucking front of his, holy shit he’s so beautiful.
Yes , he sighs enthusiastically. Do you know suhwa?
“Yea,” Yoongi says, his eyes trained on the boy’s hands. His hands are so tiny. “My step brother made me learn it,” he explains.
I’m Jimin! I’m so happy that you know suhwa . Jimin is beaming. I’m turning 21 soon!
“I’m Yoongi,” he replies. “I’m 23, so call me hyung.”
Yoongi smirks at Jimin, and says, “Next time a guy decides to give you shit, give them the middle finger. That should say enough, no?”
Jimin covers his mouth, and his shoulders shake as he leans his face towards Yoongi’s wide shoulders. That’s rude, hyung , he scolds.
Then, the boy gives him a smile that causes his eyes to become crescents and his lips to pull over his crooked front tooth, and Jimin’s cheeks flush a soft pink. The smile is somehow familiar, and it makes Yoongi’s stomach twist wistfully.
This is a bad idea, Jimin acknowledges. A very, very bad idea.
Blowing hot air into his numb fingers, Jimin contemplates if he should knock on the door or just go back to his cozy dorm and cuddle with Taehyung while watching Ghibli movies. But he promised Namjoon and Jin that he would talk to Yoongi.
“He’s being annoying,” Jin-hyung had said, huffing childishly.
Namjoon-hyung had given him a dimpled smile. “We would be grateful if you could talk to him,” he had told Jimin gently. “He’s overworking himself, and he won’t listen to us.
Jimin doesn’t know how he is supposed to convince Yoongi to take a break when Namjoon, Hoseok, and Jin are unable to, and he doesn’t know why all three of them think that he can.
With a heavy sigh, Jimin knocks on the door. Hoseok opens the door and he sends Jimin a look of relief. He is wearing mittens and winter boats, and his bag is already halfway on his back. “Chim,” he cries out. “Come in, come in!”
Then, he shoves Jimin through the dorm and takes off.
“Hoseok, why the fuck did you just text me ‘have fun’, you fucker.” Yoongi walks in with sweatpants and a black tank top. Jimin stares at the older boy’s shoulders, because since when did his hyung have such broad shoulders?
Yoongi drops his phone. “Oh,” he says. “Uh, hi Jiminie.”
Jimin waves. Hi, hyung!
“Sorry,” Yoongi apologizes. “I would be a better host, but I’m working on a project.”
Then, Jimin notices just how tired Yoongi is. Exhaustion is heavy on his shoulders, and his skin is nearly translucent underneath the artificial lighting of the dorm room. You should rest, hyung.
Yoongi shakes his head. “I’ll rest once I finish,” he tells Jimin.
Jimin pulls on the hem of Yoongi’s tank top, and they sit on the couch together. When I was in high school , he signs to Yoongi. I used to practice dancing a lot, especially when my aunt and Jungkook encouraged me to pursue my hobbies.
Jimin studies his snow boots, and unties the laces. Then, he slips his feet out of them and crosses his ankles after tugging his socks off. I would practice so much that my ballet shoes would wear after a month. Slowly, a month turned into a week. And I found myself replacing my shoes every Saturday.
He guides Yoongi’s large, slim hands to his ankles. Pointing at the soles of his feet, Yoongi studies them and his eyes widen. One day, I left my tattered ballet shoes by the door and Aunt Chaeyoung saw them. The inside of the shoes were bloody, and she freaked out. Jimin frowns. She forced me to see a podiatrist, and we found out that I wore off the bottom layer of my feet. This was a bit over half a year ago.
They both observe his feet, which were a fragile pink. When Yoongi lifts his legs so they surround Jimin’s, he sees how much more delicate the soles of Jimin’s feet looked compared to his own.
I used to cut my blisters so they wouldn’t hinder my dancing , Jimin signs. They forced me to stop that, and they also forced me to stop dancing for two months. My aunt told me something the night after the podiatric appointment.
Jimin smiles sadly. She told me: Your hard work is beautiful, Jimin. But this trait can sometimes be unforgiving, and if you don’t learn to balance your hard work with self care, then it’ll devour you.
With a sigh, Jimin runs his small fingers through his hair. I respect your ambitiousness, hyung. But even good traits need to come in moderation. Your happiness and healthiness are more important than the amount of money you make working multiple part-time jobs or the number of classes you manage in a single term. You are more important than your ambitions, Yoongi-hyung, and it hurts to see you tear yourself apart to feed your ambitions.
(Be devout to ambition, his mother mouthed,
Your hunger for success will be your survival.)
“Jiminie,” he whispers.
When I leave, Jimin signs. You should call in sick for tomorrow, and go to sleep. Going to class tomorrow as exhausted as you are now won’t be helpful, it’ll only hinder you because you won’t be able to concentrate properly. So, sleep and take care of yourself. I’ll come by with Jin-hyung tomorrow with homemade food, okay?
Yoongi nods numbly, and Jimin’s smile becomes less somber and more bright.
Jimin stands up, and Yoongi walks him out of his dorm. “Jiminie,” he repeats, and the boy turns to him questioningly. Yoongi lowers Jimin’s scarf to brush the back of his fingers over his cheek, before dropping his hand. “Have a safe walk back home. Text hyung when you reach your dorm, yea?” And then, he shuts the door gently.
Leaning against the door, Yoongi stares down at his hand. Slowly, he curls and uncurls his fingers.
And for the first time since he started college, Yoongi emails his professors to inform them that he will be absent from tomorrow’s classes.
Ahn Sohee became devout to her ambitions, but Min Yoongi won’t let his hunger for success carve him hollow.
Yoongi glares at the steering wheel, as he drives. Jimin avoids staring at the older boy-mostly from guiltiness, partly from familiarity of the situation. While his hyung continues to drive through the empty streets in rage-filled silence, Jimin tries not to think of bloody fists and intrusive voices.
It has been over a decade since he last saw Jihyun, but the boy remains a consistently vivid memory for Jimin. Even as Jimin started to forget how his mother’s laugh had sounded and how her smile had curled up, he never forgets Jihyun’s wide, fierce eyes and the way the boy had scratched tally marks over the pantry door every time he came home after protecting Jimin from schoolmates that knew the best way to twist words into knives.
Yoongi parks the car in front of the apartment, where Taehyung and Jimin share a room together; he had driven the both of them home multiple times, after Seokjin’s parties had reached far past soberness. Then, he pats the side of his headphones roughly, as he turns to face the younger boy.
“Jimin”, he says harshly. “Why didn’t you fight back?”
Jimin bites the inside of his cheek and looks away from his hyung, frustration burning tears into his eyes. That has always been the question, hasn’t it? And it never fails to grip his stomach and hunch his shoulders; it never fails to make him feel less than he usually does.
Yoongi’s eyes soften, and he gently places his hand on Jimin’s shoulder. “Jimin,” he whispers, voice heavy with his Daegu accent and slurring slightly at the edges. “If they hit you, then you have to defend yourself.”
(At least fight back with fists,” his father hisses)
Hyung , Jimin signs after minutes of refusing to reply. Does victory taste like blood?
Gradually, Yoongi’s confusion blooms into understanding.
“Sometimes, victory tastes like blood,” he whispers, and Jimin barely hears his hyung over the humming of the car’s engine and the soft music flowing from the radio. Yoongi may not be able to hear the way he speaks, but Jimin can, and within the clumsy words, he hears experience.
Jimin observes the older boy’s bloody fists and adrenaline-filled eyes, and he wonders if Min Yoongi is a person who has spent his life fighting the world. Then, Jimin watches his fists unclench and his eyes slowly faded into their usual lethargic, but observant gleam, and he wonders if Yoongi is a person who got tired of fighting the world and learned to get along with it. “It tastes like winning, and it burns in your veins like adrenaline.”
“Sometimes.” Yoongi swallows, as he presses the palm of his hand against Jimin’s left cheek delicately, trying to avoid irritating the forming bruise. Yoongi’s hand is cold, but his eyes are warm, and Jimin finds himself unable to avoid the older boy’s stare. “It tastes like happiness.”
“But, the sweetest victory,” Yoongi murmurs, “is the one that tastes like love.”
His heart thrums heavily against his chest, and Jimin feels tears roll down his cheeks, but Yoongi just smiles empathetically. He rubs his thumb on the violets blooming beneath Jimin’s left eye.
Pressing his forehead against Jimin’s, Yoongi closes his eyes. “Because sometimes, people are kind to others without being kind to themselves, and the world is cruel enough to swallow them whole.”
“So when that happens to you, Park Jimin, and you feel like you are suffocating from the weight of your kindness.” Jimin’s tears turn into sobs. “Just remember that there is nothing more victorious than learning to love yourself, just as you love others.”
(“Hyung,” his brother whispers,
“I wish you’d love yourself enough to want to be happy.”)
Jimin nods, as he buries his face into Yoongi’s leather jacket; this time, he does not apologize.
Yoongi yawns; he’s been sitting alone in the library for the past hour. He’s watching a show on his laptop, that Jimin recommended a few days ago. The younger boy had been studying at Yoongi’s table, but he left an hour ago to go buy groceries for his dorm.
His eyes narrow, when he sees a textbook laying on the table across from him. With a grunt, he reaches for it and drags it in front of him. On the back of the cover, Park Jimin is written in small, loopy letters.
Jimin must’ve forgotten it.
As he lifts it up to put in his bag, a loose-leaf paper falls onto the keyboard of Yoongi’s laptop. Yoongi sits up, and turns the paper over in curiosity. He raises an eyebrow when he sees his name.
Hey Jimin, wanna hang out with a few of us to study for the upcoming test? An upperclassman told me that this unit’s test is really hard. -K
Thank you for offering, but I’m actually gonna ask a hyung of mine for some help since he took this course in his first year! He offered to help me ( :!! -J
Oh, is it that hearing impaired hyung you hang out with? I see you on campus with him a lot. -K
Yes. His name is not ‘hearing impaired hyung’, but Min Yoongi. -J
Woah, don’t be so offended, Jimin! I had Min in my photography class last year. I didn’t mean it badly, or anything. Don’t be sensitive. -K
If you knew his name, you should’ve referred to him by his name. Please don’t use the term ‘hearing impaired’ as Yoongi-hyung doesn’t like it. You should respect that. -J
Sorry, don’t be angry. I was just stating what he was, Jimin. -K
Yoongi-hyung is deaf, but he is also ambitious, smart, kind, and witty. You don’t define other people by what they are, but who they are. So please respect hyung, and refer to him properly. -J
And Yoongi knows that humans are not skies or stars. That their bodies can not hold the clouds of a sky nor the energy of a star. But as he rereads Jimin’s words, he can’t help but think that Park Jimin is a galaxy.
When Yoongi gives Jimin his textbook the next day, he doesn’t tell him that the paper he found was neatly folded and tucked in the back of Yoongi’s pocket.
Yoongi meets Jungkook, and he vaguely remembers Jimin mentioning that despite being cousins, they were also adopted brothers. Jimin had decided to keep his original surname, even after the Jeon’s had officially adopted him. Jungkook sees him and calls him ‘the hyung that Jimin really admires’, and grins at his adopted brother teasingly.
“Yea, I am.” Yoongi smirks, as Jimin avoids his gaze. Pouting, the pink-haired boy kicks Jungkook’s shin and squeezes his palms against his red cheeks. As Yoongi introduces himself, the paper he took from Jimin’s textbook is a reminder that weighs heavily in his pocket. “I’m Yoongi.”
He is deaf, but he doesn’t introduce himself as so, because that may be what he is, but it’s not who he is. After all, people do not refer to themselves and others by what they are, but who they are. He is deaf, but he is also Min Yoongi. And he gradually learns to be proud of both what he is and who he is.
Yoongi looks up, as Jimin taps his shoulder. Hi, hyung! Jimin signs brightly, and Yoongi double-takes at the boy’s wide smile.
Jimin is so soft that Yoongi’s chest hurts, and he tries not to pinch the boy’s cheek.
Yoongi waves, and gives Jimin a warm look. Hyung, I’ll go buy us some coffee! Jimin signs while taking his wallet out. Do you want the regular?
Nodding, Yoongi grabs Jimin’s wallet and hands the younger boy a twenty dollar bill. Jimin blinks rapidly, and then tries to swipe his wallet from Yoongi. Huffing, Jimin pouts and Yoongi tries not to coo over the younger boy.
Why was he so weak to cuteness? Why couldn’t he be a rock, instead? Yoongi shakes his head firmly. “I’ll pay,” he tells the smaller boy.
Jimin tries to give the older boy a pointed look, but ends up pouting even harder, causing Yoongi to grin. “Let hyung pay for you.” Yoongi pushes the boy towards the counter.
But I was supposed to make it up to you for saving me a few weeks ago . Jimin protests, as he tries to shove the money Yoongi gave him into the older boy’s pocket.
“Are you rejecting me?” Yoongi smirks, when he sees Jimin turn pinker than his hair color.
How is someone capable of being so cute, Yoongi thinks as Jimin stomps off to the counter with a flustered face.
Sitting back down, Yoongi places his headphones on the table so he can remove his beanie off his head. He smiles dryly when he realizes that it’s been awhile since he’s not worn the noise-cancelling headphones that Namjoon had jokingly got him.
After shoving his beanie into the front pocket of his bag, Yoongi ruffles his bangs and exhales as he tries to give himself a pep talk.
Don’t worry, Yoongi. It’s just Jimin, the oblivious, fluffy dongsaeng that you happen to like despite the fact that you literally have a soulmate you share dreams with at least once a week-
Wow, Namjoon was right, he does suck at pep talks.
Jimin sets down his coffee in front of him while beaming, and Yoongi almost wants to squint as he stares at the boy, but with the small amount of self control he managed to grasp onto, he doesn’t. Jimin is happily shuffling his papers and textbooks around as he sips his coffee while Yoongi continues to watch the younger boy.
And when it happens, Yoongi almost misses it.
Jimin is holding a large textbook in his hand left hand, when his elbow slips off the edge of the table, causing it to escape Jimin’s grasp and land on the ground.
It’s quiet, nearly inaudible, but it’s there and it echoes in Yoongi’s ears: the soft thud of the textbook landing onto the wooden floors of the cafe. Jimin doesn’t notice Yoongi’s wide eyes and frozen posture, as he picks up the textbook sheepishly. And as Jimin places the textbook onto the table before patting it, sound floods his ears and washes over him in waves, and he feels like he’s drowning.
He can hear the barista’s tapping pen and the other customers’ soft chatters, and Jimin shuffling his papers around. Behind him, he can hear the sound of a chair scraping the floor after a person leaves, and he hears the soft chimes of the bell as the doors of the cafe open and close.
Hyung , are you okay? Jimin signs at him with wide eyes, and Yoongi feels his blood pounding in his ears as he hears Jimin’s hum of worry that follows the boy’s signing. He feels dizzy as he abruptly stands up.
Grabbing his headphones and bag, he turns to Jimin and tries to give the boy a smile, but it ends up as a strained grimace. “I’m sorry, Jimin.” He says, and oh god, he can hear his own voice. Panic wells in his throat as he chokes out a quick goodbye. “I just...I forgot that I needed to do something, so I need to go. Let’s talk another time.”
He shoves his headphones on as he runs out of the cafe, and feels himself calm down as silence plugs his ears. His head is pounding and his ears ache, and he feels adrenaline curl at the tips of his fingers and rush down his throat.
Min Yoongi has spent all his life without hearing anything, and he has gotten used to the still silence. The sounds that had flooded him in the cafe had felt like he swallowed a cup of pure espresso shots, and his heart is beating so loudly he can feel it on the back of his tongue.
Min Yoongi has spent a large portion of his life wondering who his soulmate would be, how he would look after growing up, as the boy in his dreams never grew past the age they had first dreamt together. He thinks of his soulmate, the angel with galaxies in his eyes and flowers blooming within his lungs, and then he thinks of Park Jimin, the soft dongsaeng with a blush like his fairy pink hair, and a smile that tugged at Yoongi’s heart like nothing else. He thinks of them both, and he wonders how he hadn’t seen it from the moment he saw Park Jimin with his pretty eyes and even prettier smile.
He wonders how he somehow never realized that Park Jimin was his soulmate.
Yoongi gazes at the young boy facing opposite from him and looking at the sun setting. The boy is laughing, eyes crinkling at the corners and lips curling into a bright smile, as he twirls around to face Yoongi. Pausing, the child tilts his head, and his eyes widen at the sight of the young adult.
The heat is indefatigable as it presses against the back of Yoongi’s hands and neck; it’s summer in the dream, despite the cold of the end of winter that follows his mornings and appears in the visible breaths that leave his mouth when he is awake.
Whenever his soulmate is lonely, the landscape of their dreams stretch into fields of flowers, streams of freshwater, and clouds of summer.
Back when Yoongi first saw his soulmate in the landscape of his dream, he had thought that the boy breathed in winter and exhaled summer, and smiled like the soft skies of spring. He thought that the boy must have been born with lungs full of flowers that bloomed into kindness within his heart. Years later, and he still thinks that.
Only, Yoongi is older and wiser than he once was, and he knows.
Those flowers that press against Jimin’s lungs and burst from his lips as a smile are breathtaking, and many adore him for it. But they overwhelm Park Jimin, and they suffocate him until breathing is more of a pain than a chore. Yoongi knows there are no pain receptors in the lungs, but he can see how the petals catch in the bones of Jimin’s ribcages and how the stems clog his arteries. And from this, he learns: pain doesn’t always look like bruises or blood or broken bones.
Sometimes, it looks like a smile that does not reach the eyes.
“Hello,” the boy says, his mouth forming the words in clear movements. Yoongi cannot hear him over the rushing waters of the stream between them, but he has spent a lifetime reading mouths and facial expressions, and the child’s greeting is easy to understand. “I am Park Jimin.”
Taking off his headphones, Yoongi steps closer to the bank of the stream where the grass fades into soil like the purples of the sky fading into the oranges of the sun. “I know,” he whispers, but Jimin’s eyes study the way his mouth twists and closes around the words, and he nods.
Then, Jimin stares into Yoongi’s eyes and gives him the smile , the one that bunches his puffy cheeks and folds beneath the curl of his eyes, and Yoongi is enamored.
Yoongi is so in love that it hurts; it’s a love that presses down like gravity and swallows like a pill. Sometimes, Jimin unknowingly reminds Yoongi that he can feel like this.
Sometimes, he reminds him of bursting stars and falling suns and small, pained smiles that come from a delicate boy with an even more delicate heart.
Yoongi looks to the fields of flowers spanning out from the stream. The flowers are astilbe and they form rows and rows of shades of purples. Quickly, he grabs at the flowers and presses them into his left hand. Jimin will leave with the sun, and he must hurry if he wants to finish making the bundle of flowers in time.
The sky is filled with beautiful oranges and pinks as the boy twirls and twirls and twirls, and Yoongi finishes twisting the wire of his headphones around the bundle of flowers. Scrambling from where he is seated on the grass, he presses his knees into the stream and yells for the boy.
Jimin glances back at Yoongi with curious, sad eyes. “The flowers,” yells Yoongi as he wades further into the stream and stretches his arm out as far as he can while holding the bouquet. “They’re for you!”
Jimin takes the flowers from him and mouths a thank you before leaving.
One dream, instead of dreaming with his soulmate, he dreams of his soulmate, and as his soulmate leaves with the stars, Min Yoongi’s world comes to a stop.
It’s been a month.
Jimin hasn’t shared a dream with his soulmate for a month, and worry is a kingdom that he builds with every passing night. They only share a couple dreams each week, but they have never went a week without sharing a dream, and this does nothing to settle the anxiety that chips at the corner of his heart and remains glued to the back of his mind.
For the past two weeks, Jimin has been constantly sleeping at different times of the night, hoping to find the balance where he and Suga-hyung could meet, but it always ends up with Jimin waking up from nightmares that haven’t plagued him since he started dreaming with his soulmate.
It feels like the world is on rewind, and Jimin is the scratch in the DVD that must watch as the world tears itself down and rebuilds itself up before him, over and over again.
Their spring break has started, and Jimin hasn’t left his bed in two days. It isn’t the first time that he has refused to leave his bed, but it does not make it any easier. He can hear Taehyung shuffle in front of his door every four hours, and sometimes, he thinks he can hear the worried voice of Jungkook as he quietly converses with Jimin’s roommate.
After the first week, Jimin had started to wonder if his soulmate was tired of him and decided to either sleep at a different schedule to avoid him or to break their connection. It wasn’t unheard of: soulmates becoming tired of their soulmates, and by feeling that way, the connection that allows soulmates to share dreams and use their abilities together is broken, like a bone snapping or a pencil breaking.
After the second week, Jimin had started to accept the situation as it was and threw himself into finals, in order to take his mind off of it. Once finals week finished, Jimin was left to soak in his thoughts. Jimin had felt as though he wasn’t breathing, that he wasn’t living, because if his soulmate can’t love him, then how could anyone else ever love him? The rejection thrums in his bones, and stitches his fingers into tiny fists that clench his sheets. He sleeps as though dreams are battlefields, and waking up is the victory of winning the wars within his mind.
He feels as though the world is swallowing him whole.
It took every single hour of the third week of Jimin to repeat the words Yoongi had told him for him to start believing that the words are true. And it takes a conversation with Taehyung on the last day of the third week for Jimin to know they're true.
Taehyung opens the door, and sits on the edge of Jimin’s bed, and Jimin feels his best friend’s sorrow at seeing him curled into his bed. Taehyung has seen the worst of Jimin, and he has dealt with the days when his past haunted him. This is just another one of those days, but Taehyung is nothing less than the best of friends, and he lays in bed with him as soon as Jimin lifts the covers.
“Hey, ChimChim.” Taehyung gives the boy a soft box-shaped smile, as Jimin turns to face his best friend. Handing the smaller boy his phone, Taehyung curls around Jimin and studies him. Jimin can see Taehyung wince when he notices his tired eyes. His limbs are pliant from exhaustion, and his bangs are pulled back from his forehead with a stretchy headband.
Jimin opens notes, and Siri’s voice echoes in the dark room. “Hi TaeTae.”
Jimin trembles as his best friend presses his sock-covered feet against his cold toes. “You must’ve been lonely,” Taehyung says quietly. “You’ve always refused to tells others about what you feel, even if it’s tearing you apart. Even after you realized that you didn’t need to talk to express yourself.”
Jimin’s forehead is against the collar of Taehyung’s shirt. “ChimChim.” Taehyung rubs Jimin’s hair. “You’ve always been good at taking care of others in replacement for taking care of yourself, but that isn’t a good trait, ChimChim. It breaks you down, and sometimes, you aren’t able to build yourself back up.”
Taehyung’s hand pauses, and he continues. “Everyone wants to be there for you, you know? Jungkookie slept outside of your room last night, and Seokjin-hyung raided our fridge and filled it with all of your favorite foods. He even made yukgaejang for you. Namjoon-hyung and Hoseok-hyung have both stopped by twice to see if you were doing well.”
Jimin’s hands shake, as he tries to keep a grasp on his phone. Taehyung smiles somberly, when he feels his shirt get wet with tears. “Yoongi-hyung is super worried, even if he doesn’t show it as much as the others. He hasn’t left his apartment in five days, and he leaves at least ten calls every day.” Taehyung adds quietly, and he sighs when Jimin stiffens.
“Is Yoongi-hyung part of the problem?” Taehyung asks, and his face turns serious. “If he hurt you, then Jungkookie and I will talk to him.”
Jimin taps the screen of his phone unsteadily, his fingers numb from being curled for so long. “I think my soulmate rejected me. I feel empty.”
Taehyung’s eyes narrow. “How long has it been since you’ve last shared a dream with him?”
“Over three weeks.”
Taehyung hugs Jimin, and shoves his face into Jimin’s hair. He exhales shakily. “ Oh, Jimin ,” he whispers, and the sound of Taehyung saying his name properly causes the smaller boy to sob heavily.
After ten minutes, Jimin starts to type again. “I don’t know how to feel, TaeTae. I’ve really liked Yoongi-hyung for a while. Maybe I deserve my soulmate’s rejection, when I like someone that isn’t my soulmate.”
“No,” Taehyung snarls. “Listen to me, Park Jimin. Your soulmate is your soulmate, and that’s it. Just because you have a soulmate does not mean you are obliged to love that person. You have the freedom to love anyone or no one , if that makes you happy.”
Taehyung shifts back. He locks eyes with his best friend. “Jimin, I know that it might not seem like it, but you don’t need your soulmate. Your worth is not defined by your soulmate’s opinion of you, or anyone’s opinion of you. You are worthy of being loved just as much as you love, and you are worthy of happiness, whether that means with your soulmate or without them.”
“A soulmate is a person who the world believes can encourage you to be the best version of yourself, but they are not vital to your happiness or your life, at all. You don’t need your soulmate. You deserve happiness and love, regardless of your soulmate being part of your life or not. Do you hear me, Park Jimin? You. Are. Worthy.” Taehyung emphasizes in a gentle, yet firm tone.
Jimin taps on his phone for a few seconds. “My soulmate is not the key to my happiness, nor my worth.”
Taehyung nods, and says, “Your soulmate is the one the world believes to be the most compatible with. You don’t need your soulmate to be happy, and you don’t need your voice, to be worthy of anything, Jimin. You may think that your voice is something you need, but it isn’t. You are loved by people, you are cared for by people, and you have the right to be happy, even if you never speak a whole word in your entire life. Your voice may make life easier, but it won’t guarantee you happiness nor will it guarantee you that you’ll become the best and happiest version of yourself.”
Jimin drops his phone, and nods shakily. Taehyung tightens his grasp on his best friend, and closes his eyes. “Jimin, it’s okay if you love Yoongi-hyung. It’s okay if you don’t. I’ll always be here for you, and so will the others.”
Jimin’s eyes start to close. His exhaustion starts to show its effects, and Taehyung tells him, “You are worthy, and there’s no ‘but’ or ‘apart from’ or some form of exception. You are worthy.”
Jimin taps Taehyung’s shoulder twice, before falling asleep after days without sleep.
(Just remember, Yoongi whispered,
that there is nothing more victorious than learning to love yourself)
That night, Jimin dreams of the sun setting and the stars that bloom in the sky like flowers in a field start to fall from the sky and into the sea. Through the reflection of the ocean, Jimin can see a large, slim hand gently place a crown of astilbe on his pink hair, and when he turns around, he cannot see anything but the infinite ocean of fallen stars.
(“Astilbe are a beautiful, but sad flower,” his mother once told him.
“They symbolize dedication to a loved one, and they mean ‘I’ll be waiting for you’”)
Jimin shoves a handful of popcorn into his mouth, as he concentrates on the movie. He is watching Ghibli movies with Jungkook and Taehyung, and they’ve made it halfway through their collection of DVDs.
“Hey, Jimin-hyung,” Jungkook says. He nudges the smaller boy, and rolls his eyes when Jimin shoots him a pout for interrupting the movie. “You’d look good with silver hair,” he elaborates, and he points at Sophie’s short, silver hair on the screen.
Jimin blinks. “You would,” Taehyung agrees absentmindedly. His eyes are still glued to the screen, but he grins.
Eyes flitting up to the ceiling, Jimin thoughtfully touches his pink hair. Yea, I would, he signs. But I think I look pretty with pink hair.
Taehyung and Jungkook pause, and as Jimin goes back to watching Sophie and Howl hug, he misses the smiles the soulmates share.
“Yea, you do” Taehyung says softly. Jungkook nods, and both him and Taehyung press their shoulders against Jimin’s.
And victory, Jimin learns, tastes like love, and it’s the sort of love that lets you be kind to yourself.
Jimin breathes heavily as he slams his fist against Yoongi’s door. The day after finishing his Ghibli marathon with his best friend and adopted brother, he showered and ran across campus to reach the older boy’s dorm. As he had left, he saw Taehyung and Jungkook rewatching Spirited Away, and both of them gave him a thumbs up.
The door opens, but Jimin is preoccupied with trying to breathe , and holy shit he is literally a dancer why is running such a struggle. His hands are leaning his body over his knees, as he huffs. Jimin looks up, only to yelp when he sees Yoongi standing at the door, dressed in a black shirt and jeans with a towel wrapped around his broad shoulders.
Briefly, Jimin thinks about how life is unfair and how his hyung is unnervingly attractive, before he turns bright red. He squeaks. Then, he proceeds to grab the handle of the door and slam it in Yoongi’s face.
Stepping back, Jimin stares at the door with a horrified expression.
I just closed the door on hyung , Jimin thinks in panic, and he backs away from the door. Screw confessing and feelings and shit, I’m leaving before my dignity does.
Just as Jimin starts to step away from the door, it slams open to show Yoongi pointing a hair dryer at Jimin threateningly.
“What do you think you are doing,” Yoongi starts, his voice lower than usual. He stares at the boy, unsatisfied. “Running outside with wet hair. It may be spring, but winter only ended a month or so ago, and it’s still fucking freezing.”
Jimin gapes at him.
“If you don’t get in here right this moment, I’m gonna use this hair dryer right here, right now, Park Jimin.” Yoongi steps closer to Jimin as he presses the hair dryer against Jimin’s bangs, and the younger boy continues to gape while he is tugged into the apartment.
Yoongi curses before setting the hair dryer down, and turning to stare at his dongsaeng. “Where have you been,” he says accusingly, and if Jimin wasn’t good at reading his hyung, then he would’ve taken offense to the words. But he knows that the older boy is just expressing concern, so he smiles hesitantly.
Hyung, I came here to tell you something. Jimin bites his lip as he watches Yoongi settle down.
Yoongi hums, and nods encouragingly. Jimin avoids looking at his hyung as he continues to sign. Well, I kinda like you even though you aren’t my soulmate and I just wanted to tell you-
Jimin’s rapid signing is cut off by the sound of Yoongi choking. Turning to the older boy, Jimin presses a hand to Yoongi’s chest and stares at him with concerned eyes. He matches Jimin’s stare, and the tips of Yoongi’s ears turn red.
“You like me,” Yoongi says, and he sounds like he doesn’t belief Jimin.
Jimin deflates, and nods shyly. I know that you don’t like me romantically, so it’s okay, but I just wanted to tell you-
“I’m sorry,” Yoongi interrupts, and his face is contorted, as though he is in physical pain. “But uh, where did you get that notion?”
Jimin’s lip trembles, and he signs back. Well, you seem to only like me as a friend.
“I think I just read your signing wrong.” Yoongi is now grasping his stomach. He leans over Jimin with a pained groan. “I just read that you think that I like you as a friend. ”
Jimin nods, head tilting in confusion when Yoongi wheezes.
After a few minutes, Yoongi stands back up properly and backs Jimin to the door, placing a hand next to the smaller boy’s face. “I met my soulmate,” he says, and Jimin coils into himself as he smiles heartbrokenly.
Ahh, I see. I’m sorry that I bothered you like this, hyung. Jimin signs back, and his eyes are tearing up. He avoids meeting Yoongi’s gaze.
“Wait, don’t fucking cry! Oh my god, why the fuck am I always fucking up, holy shit. Well, shit-uh, don’t cry, Jiminie.” Yoongi panics, and his other hand tries to touch Jimin’s shoulder, but the smaller boy flinches away and sobs softly.
“Oh no, oh my god I’m the worst soulmate. Who makes their soulmate cry after first meeting them as a soulmate, oh my fuck. I’m going to Hell, it’s confirmed, this is my one way ticket. I’m so sorry, angel, please stop crying.” Yoongi exclaims, while he frantically shoves a box of unopened tissues into Jimin’s sweaterpaws.
Jimin freezes, and his mouths forms an O shape as he looks up at Yoongi, who is still awkwardly leaning over the younger boy. Yoongi calms down, and he clasps his free hand against Jimin’s neck. “I met my soulmate,” he repeats, and gives Jimin a gummy smile. “He has the prettiest and kindest soul out of everyone who I have ever met. I met him in my dreams as a boy who was like a thousand suns, and I fell in love with him as my soft dongsaeng who wears fluffy sweaters.”
“His name is Park Jimin, and I love him so, so much.”
Jimin drops the box of tissues.
“Suga-hyung,” he whispers, and his voice is hoarse from a lifetime of silence, but it is lilting and sweet, and Yoongi falls in love all over again.
“My Jiminie,” Yoongi replies, with a warm smile and an even warmer heart.
“Yoongi-hyung, Yoongi-hyung, Yoongi-hyung, Yoongi-hyung.” Jimin repeats his soulmate’s name like a mantra, and he clutches Yoongi’s shirt.
In dreams, words taste like stardust; in reality, words have no taste.
But as Yoongi kisses his forehead, Jimin knows this: words are not supposed to taste like anything, because they are only that-words.
One dream, the stars fall into the sea as Jimin stares back at him with a flower crown of astilbe. And Yoongi is so in love it’s gentle; it’s a love that pushes delicately against his ribcage, warmth blooming in his chest. Sometimes, Jimin unknowingly reminds Yoongi that he can feel like this, like he can do anything and everything.
Sometimes, he reminds him that people cannot be skies or stars or suns, not even Park Jimin with his sunshine smile and starry eyes.
Most of all, Park Jimin reminds him that love can feel so soft and sweet, that it’s kind.
Jimin is finally grown up, and his hair now matches the soft cotton candy pink he wears in college, but his eyes still curl into the crescents Yoongi adored when they were children stuck in their dreams. The tips of his fingers poke out from the sleeves of his sweater as he waves at Yoongi. Jimin is standing in the middle of the ocean, and the crown of astilbe spills through his fingers.
Jimin loves winter, but Yoongi adores spring; the dreamscape compromises.
Yoongi and Jimin run, and the stars beneath the water glow bright as Yoongi cups Jimin’s face between his hands and leans forward.
And in the distance between Min Yoongi and Park Jimin, the universe begins.