the water is turvy, messy with westerlies, dark. it's salty and it hurts yoongi's throat, making him gag, and he coughs, and coughs, and he dies. it feels cold, and maybe it's just the water, maybe it's death and its lack of warmth. yoongi tries to blink, but water is all there is, and it feels heavy on his eyelids — heavy and oily and plastic and unreal. oxygen fails him, and his lungs fill up with mud, or salt, or sand.
then comes the pull, the hands on the sides of his body, and waves, the sound, the air, until finally, finally, finally, sand under his elbows, under his body, and yoongi coughs, throwing up remains of the pacific. hands still hold him. "— fuck," he finds himself able to say after a couple of minutes, needles down his throat, burning. his voice is broken, hoarse.
the voice that speaks, though, it's full of hallelujahs. "you owe me now."
yoongi pushes himself up on his elbows, hair dripping on his face, clothes sticking to his body, sand, all that sand. the face he stares at is a pretty one, wet and youthful, eyes big and prying. the boy is close, too close, arms to each side of yoongi's body, a leg between yoongi's. "i don't owe you shit," yoongi coughs, feeling his cheeks burn a little, the proximity daunting. his eyes linger, for the slightest of the seconds, and the boy's skin is all visible, all there. "you should get away from me now."
but fingers touch yoongi's face, instead, cold, so cold, cold as the water he just came out from. they trace his eyebrows, and the curve of his nose. yoongi is unable to move, frozen in place, staring at the angles on the boy's face. it's late, too late, and the beach is illuminated only dimly by distant street lights, glimmering softly on the waves and the boy's pupils. the breeze runs shivers down yoongi's spine, or maybe that's just his touch. "your face," the boy says, a bite to his lip, swallowing the words. "— why did you want to die?"
"i didn't—" yoongi scoffs, looking away, finally crawling backwards, away from his strangeness, from his fingertips. the boy sits back, sand on his thighs, on his legs, yoongi tries not to look, don't look, don't look. "i'm leaving."
he stands, weirdly, body still weak from trying to keep afloat, and a wave washes his ankles, as if wanting to claim him all over again. yoongi sniffs, eyes burning as much as his throat. around him, the ocean sings, stormy. a couple of steps, then comes the voice, different, like the unwanted change in a song. "wait."
"— what?" he manages to hiss, turning to look over his shoulder.
"you owe me."
"i didn't ask for help," yoongi gestures around him vaguely, to the beach, to the steps he took, to how empty it was, maybe. the boy stands awkwardly, naked, and yoongi averts his eyes again, face still hot. "i don't know you."
"i saw you in the water," he steps closer, yoongi steps back, involutarily.
"that doesn't mean anything."
"you still owe me."
"fine—," it's awkward when yoongi meets his eyes again. everything on his body hurts, and he breathes sharply. "give me your phone number, i'll call you. i can pay you — just get the fuck away."
"i need a kiss."
there's just a pause before yoongi breaks in nervous laughter, suddenly entirely flustered. the voice the boy uses changes all the time, and it makes him feel things, oddly. "are you kidding me?"
"no," he shakes his head, wet hair dripping. "just one."
"you're naked—" it's not even the point, yoongi knows, but it adds to the ridiculous situation he's seeing himself in. the boy looks down on his body, as if he hadn't realized that before. somehow, yoongi stares at how his hands touch the side of his thighs, carefully, and then how he curls his toes on the sand. the boy looks up, then, at yoongi.
"i'm sorry," he says, weakly. "— i won't bother you again if you kiss me."
"i won't kiss you, you're—"
"no — i mean, yes," yoongi sighs, defeated, turning his back. "i'm leaving. you should do the same."
"please." it's the voice again, the one that has hidden layers, the one that finds its way under yoongi's skin, tugging softly at his soul. he stops walking, feet sinking in the sand, and he smells of salt and seaweed. yoongi fights against it, the voice, but he turns anyway, almost involuntarily, and the boy has walked closer, too close, again. "please."
"what's your name?"
the boy thinks for a moment, blinking. "jungkook."
yoongi raises a hand, until he can press a finger against jungkook's chest, feeling his bones underneath his skin. "fuck off." this time there's no calling when yoongi leaves, no strange voices in his head, no stirring in his soul. there's only the sea and how it hits against the shore, and the faint remains of jungkook's breathing, harsh as if he's still learning how to use his lungs, as if he, too, was drowning.
("why drowning?" yoongi stares at the pen the psychiatrist holds, unamused, aloof. "anything else is too final," he replies, shrugging. "and drowning isn't?" they've been talking about water a lot. yoongi has been dreaming of it, of falling into its depth, he's been wanting it. "— if you're lucky enough, someone will take your body to shore." there's the sound of a pencil scribbling, and yoongi's mind goes blank.)
his apartament is quiet. it's the first thing yoongi realizes when he opens his eyes. the usual rattling of furniture and kitchenware is muted, probably because namjoon isn't there. he blinks, body sore, sticky. his sheets are all wet. "— shit," he coughs, reaching for the glass of water on the bedside table. there's a note, too, sticking from under it, but it falls on the floor and yoongi doesn't care enough to pick it up. the glass gets emptied in matter of seconds, and yoongi exhales deeply, needy for air, filling up his lungs with it.
it does take him a while to move, a while to peel off his clothes, throw them against the door, step weakly into the shower. the hot water is welcoming. yoongi stays too long under it, letting it rinse away the salt engraved in his soul.
at first, walking out to the living room, he doesn't notice jungkook asleep on the couch. he barely registers his soft breathing, or how his hair is lighter than he could see hours earlier on the beach. when he does notice him, curled in blankets and couch throws, he jolts, swallowing a gasp. jungkook doesn't wake up, doesn't move.
"what the fuck, namjoon," yoongi hisses under his breath, already going back to his bedroom, to the note he stepped on, the sticky paper crinckled. he said he was your friend and needed a place to stay. also, he was naked. i gave him some of my clothes. need explanation. see you later.
"he let me in," jungkook's voice makes yoongi jump, heart beating too fast.
words spill out of his mouth too fast, sharp. "— you need to leave."
jungkook is all wrapped in blankets, his hair still damp, and from his smell maybe he took a shower, too. "i'm sorry i followed you," his voice is small, and he steps inside yoongi's room uninvited, looking around. "i don't know the city."
"you have a busan accent," yoongi points out as if saying you're lying, and somehow even his tone is vicious. it makes jungkook cringe the slightest, seemingly scared. "look — i won't call the police if you leave now."
"— why did you want to die?"
his face flares with heat, and yoongi feels overwhelmed by it, overwhelmed by the embarrassment of not dying when he should have. "i'm calling the police," he says, then, grabbing his phone, only to realize it's dead from the water. jungkook watches as he moves, helplessly trying to figure out what to do. finally, yoongi groans, a headache barring his thoughts already. "— i'll give you money. is that what you want?"
"i just want a kiss."
"for god's sake—," yoongi sits on his bed, burying his face on his palms, fingers curling around dripping hair. "i won't kiss you. you can stop trying."
"jungkook," he hisses, flustered, pissed off. "that's your name, isn't it?" they stare at each other, and jungkook nods, softly. yoongi stands only to walk to the clothes he dismissed earlier, his wallet full of foul-smelling, wet bills. he shoves the money against jungkook's chest, pushing him out of the bedroom, forcing him to take step after step back. "that's all my pocket money. get the fuck out."
"i have nowhere to go," jungkook touches yoongi's wrist in an almost delicate way. "i don't know anything—"
"i don't fucking care."
"you don't understand," some sort of informality washes through jungkook's speech, and his accent gets somehow graver as he gets more anxious, stumbling back on the blankets he drops as yoongi shoves him. "i'm not—"
there's more pushing and shoving and jungkook doesn't fight back, except for the hold on yoongi's wrist, so light it's almost like it isn't there. they stumble on furnitures, and yoongi grabs his clothes, pushing him further against the front door. jungkook huffs a little, air being pushed out of his lungs, eyes round and hurt. "i will call the police if i see you again."
jungkook opens his mouth, but then there's a click and there's the door being pushed open, and both yoongi and jungkook startle, feet sort of tangling as they move out of the way, hands grabbing at each other involuntarily for balance. namjoon stops, framed by the door, groceries in one hand, eyebrows raised. "so you are friends, then," he comments, coming in, closing the door behind him.
"i brought lunch," he carries on. yoongi dreads the rest of the sentence. "do you want to eat with us, jungkook?"
"yes," jungkook nods just as yoongi pushes out a firm no. namjoon spares him a confused look before disappearing into the kitchen. "what's lunch?"
"— sushi?" namjoon chuckles, and yoongi follows them both, exasperated. "are you hungry?"
jungkook suddenly looks so much younger, shaking his head in affirmation, strands of hair falling closer to his eyes. yoongi watches him deliberately — glares, even, unsure on what to feel or what to do. jungkook pokes the food, curious, his fingers play with forks and chopsticks, and it is as if he has never really seen them before. when namjoon leaves the kitchen for a moment, yoongi grabs jungkook's wrist, pressing. his fingers go loose, and the spoon falls with a noisy thud. "stop this," he says, annoyed. jungkook blinks. "i don't even know where you came from, why—"
the somewhat youthful shimmer in jungkook's eyes dilutes into blacks deep. it takes him a second to reply, cutting in yoongi's sentence. "the sea."
yoongi doesn't say anything because namjoon comes back, saying something about how the bathroom sink is dripping and you need to fix it, hyung, but yoongi's mind fails to retain any information. he watches, puzzled, scenes unfold. jungkook jolts when the stove is lit to heat water for tea, and he seems particularly interested in the fire, eyes so focused on it they get teary. namjoon looks bluntly ignorant to jungkook's weirdness as he goes on, talking absent-mindedly, getting back short answers from both yoongi and jungkook. it gets to a point where yoongi can't watch anymore, and he grabs jungkook by the arm, as tight as he can, dragging him to his bedroom, muttering a dry we'll be back.
the door gets slammed, jungkook coils.
"why the hell are you doing this?"
"i'm not doing anything."
"stop speaking so informally—"
"if you kissed me, i could—"
the distance between them is already short, and when yoongi grabs the sides of jungkook's face, bringing him closer, their noses clash, and jungkook maybe doesn't close his eyes, but yoongi does. jungkook tastes like salt and sand, lips too soft, tongue warm. it lasts longer than necessary, and it's deeper than it should. yoongi forces himself to take a step back, staring at jungkook's flushed cheeks. "i kissed you," he says, breathless, still feeling jungkook's taste in his mouth. "now get out."
jungkook blinks, looking dazed for a moment, then he looks at himself, his hands, his legs, then up at yoongi again. "it didn't work."
"— you've got to be kidding me," yoongi huffs. "you're insane."
"no," jungkook steps closer, fingers grabbing at the hem of yoongi's shirt, and it's the kind of intimacy that scares yoongi much more than kissing, because it shouldn't be happening at all, not between them, strangers. "i'm —"
"i just need your help," the words come out jungkook's mouth almost all at once, consonants clashing, anxious. his eyes look glassy, teary, even. it almost shakes the things inside yoongi's heart, almost, almost. "i can't breathe underwater."
"you're human," yoongi points out, a bite to his tone. "of course you can't breathe underwater." but the face jungkook's make, the way his expression changes, the way he swallows words unknown. the sea. yoongi tries to remember how long he was underwater before he felt jungkook's hands around his body. a minute, two? and his hands were cold, as much as the darkness that laced around yoongi—
a soft knock on the door reminds him to breathe again. "i'm not sure what's going on in there," namjoon's muffled voice is careful, questioning. "but the tea is getting cold."
"yeah," yoongi forces himself to reply. jungkook is still staring at him, holding his shirt, looking disheveled and lost. "we're coming."
eating turns out to be a hassle. jungkook can't use chopsticks at all, fingers messing up with it, throwing fish and rice everywhere. namjoon laughs it off, asking if he's been living abroad, to which jungkook barely nods, unsure. yoongi registers all the little things, the changes in his features when he eats, the way he chews, the small noises of pleasure he makes, this is good, this is good, i don't like this, it's hot. "you're not eating," jungkook says after a while.
namjoon looks from one to another. "it's funny how you speak informally to each other," he comments, and yoongi feels his cheeks flush. "but i never heard of jungkook before."
"there's nothing to hear about," yoongi is quick to say before jungkook has the chance to swallow and reply. "— there's nothing."
awkward silence follows. namjoon glares at him, and yoongi glares at jungkook, and jungkook just looks flustered, lips pink, probably prickly from the spicy rolls, and he gulps down glass after glass of water. he stays in the kitchen when yoongi volunteers to wash the dishes. "are you going to work today?" namjoon asks, by the door, backpack hanging from his shoulder.
"no," yoongi mumbles. it's his third day without showing up at the store. "they gave me a long weekend," the lie comes out easily. namjoon nods, and jungkook waves when he leaves. silence doesn't last long, and jungkook's voice fits the running water too well.
"i'm sorry i troubled you," he says, sniffing. "i'm not sorry i helped you yesterday."
"i am," yoongi says, a sigh escaping his lips. he turns off the water, hands dripping, embarrassed. "i don't want to talk about it."
"what do you want to talk about?"
"you," he turns, crossing his arms against his chest. jungkook has his big round eyes at him, cheeks pink. he looks down when their eyes meet. "you said you're from the sea."
"yeah," he nods, looking smaller, as if he's shrinking under yoongi's scrutiny. namjoon's t-shirt looks too big on him, the collar too dangly.
"— do you live on a boat?"
at this jungkook smiles, shaking his head. "no, i don't live on a boat," he shrugs. "can i show you?"
"show me what?"
there aren't that many steps jungkook has to take as distance between them isn't that big once again. yoongi watches him with a frown, and jungkook moves closer, then some, and yoongi presses himself against the counter, uncomfortable. he almost closes his eyes, involuntarily, but jungkook just leans to turn on the water behind yoongi, the sound complimenting his voice. "you should look," he says, close enough yoongi can feel the air shifting between them.
yoongi does, and at first he doesn't see anything — but jungkook lets the water run against his skin longer, and it looks different, painted in the lightest blues and greens and aquamarine shades, like a tattoo only visible when wet. yoongi can't help himself, and he touches jungkook's arm, aghast and curious, but the texture of his skin is still human, still smooth. jungkook turns off the water, pulling his arm away. "get in the shower," yoongi mutters, slightly astonished. jungkook blinks.
"get in the shower," he repeats, more urgent.
"i don't want to," jungkook states firmly, and they exchange looks.
"what the fuck are you, then?"
"you curse a lot."
"that's not the point."
"i'm—," words seem to escape jungkook, and he gestures, hands drawing patterns in the air. "i'm just different than you."
laughter comes out of yoongi's throat, ironic and jittery. "you're green and weird, yeah, i can see that," reds and pinks defy yoongi's comment, flushing all over jungkook's skin, and he averts his eyes, looking hurt. yoongi stops laughing, and he tries not to feel ashamed. "— you're a mermaid, then. is that what you're saying?"
"siren," jungkook corrects him softly. "— a siren."
"i thought those were girls," he says instead of i thought those didn't exist. the latter would have made more sense, but yoongi can't think straight anymore. he's aware of how insane the conversation already is, and it makes his head pound at an alarming rate. "you're no — girl." flimsy images of jungkook at the beach flock to his mind, then, unwelcomed and uncalled for, and how his body looked under the dimly lit shore.
"people are bad at storytelling."
genuine laughter seeps through yoongi's body, and jungkook stares, perplexed at the reaction. "— am i going crazy?" he asks, then, still smiling a little, running a hand through his hair, and yoongi finally walks away from jungkook and his blunt proximity, letting himself fall on a chair, tired, face on his hands, eyes closed. "this is fucked up."
when the touch comes, so gentle and so careful, it makes yoongi quiver. jungkook's fingers leave his hair almost immediately. "i'm sorry," yoongi doesn't look at him, face burning. "i'll leave you alone."
"— please do that."
there are steps, feet dragging against the linoleum, then the dull carpet, then the front door opening, closing, and then silence, silence as deep as the water jungkook saved him from. yoongi's own breathing comes out stiffled, and his thoughts wander off, and he glares at nothing in particular. he stays there too long, until lights outside start to shift, until it all becomes yellows, then faded golds, then just gray and dark. he falls asleep with his head against the table, chest rising and falling, full of muddy, muddy water.
("i've met someone," he says, after some time. the psychiatrist nods, willing to listen as always, willing to scribble sentences about him on papers yoongi won't ever read. "he's — i don't know. i think i made him up. i haven't seem him anymore." at this the doctor stirs a bit, raising her eyes to look at him. "made him up?" "i think i made him up because i wasn't brave enough to drown," yoongi can feel the air getting tense as the psychiatrist realizes what he means. "— i needed someone to blame." he leaves, thirty-two minutes later, with drug prescriptions and telephone numbers written hastily on the back of the paper.)
days pass. namjoon asks about jungkook a couple of times, ultimately giving up when yoongi doesn't give him straight answers. yoongi doesn't really take his meds, nor does he call the numbers given to him, the other therapists, the clinic, the help group. he doesn't want to drown, not really — but still he goes to the beach late at night, letting the salty water run him, soaking up his pants, feet sinking into the mushy sand. the turmoil of the water both scares him and calls to him. "— you're in love with it."
jungkook is still wearing namjoon's clothes, and they're slightly dirtier, wrinkled, and his hair looks messy and unkempt, as if sea-salt air has untamed it. "with the water?" yoongi asks, turning his back at him, watching the waves and the white foam and how the horizon disappears into shades too dark, no stars out. "maybe."
"it's singing to you," jungkook's voice has the different ring to it, wilderness all wrapped around it.
"— maybe it's singing to you."
"no," they're closer now, and jungkook stops beside him, sighing. "it's angry at me."
"how do you know?"
"i left it," yoongi turns to look at him, then, to see him shrug. a wave almost touches their feet, and its proximity seems to make jungkook wary. he doesn't look sadstruck, but he looks tired, his eyes sunken in, hollow.
"i thought i made you up." yoongi isn't sure why he says it, but he does anyway. jungkook looks at him, the whites in his eyes barely visible, just like the features on his face. "my psychiatrist probably thinks i made you up."
yoongi scoffs, slightly bothered. "i know that now." somehow his mind remembers how jungkook had tasted like, all those layers of sweetness and salt, and it makes yoongi stir, uncomfortable. he takes a step back, and the water almost reaches them again, forcing jungkook to walk backwards, too. "i'm going home."
"— can i go with you?"
"no," it's too much of a fast reply, but the question has made yoongi's heart rattle weirdly. "go back to the water."
"i can't." jungkook follows him closely, losing his balance every other step as his feet disappear under the sand. "please." it seems like a repeated situation, a throwback to nights previous, just as dark and just as cold, and yoongi wants to say no, but jungkook's voice beckons him not to. "i don't know how to live here."
"— you should start by talking formally to people you don't know."
he allows jungkook to follow him, and they walk quietly, huffing, steam coming out from their mouths as the night grows deeper. they can still hear the ocean, the waves crashing and rolling, a choir or a lament, yoongi doesn't really know. jungkook isn't wearing shoes, and he trembles by the time they reach the apartment, a couple of blocks away from the beach strip. busan is different at night, yoongi reckons, busan breathes, and its breathing matches jungkook's. "thank you," he says, voice low, when they're stepping in the living room. namjoon is asleep on the couch, the credits to a movie playing.
clothes are piled on jungkook's arms, and yoongi pushes him into his bathroom, and stands with his back against the door for as long as the water runs, breathing and breathing and breathing. there's no point in bringing jungkook home. there's no point in helping him. i don't owe you anything. when the water stops, he quickly makes the way to his bed, sitting at the edge, pretending to be busy with a phone that doesn't work. "your clothes are small," jungkook says, and yoongi looks at him, at his ankles showing, at the shirt too black against his tanned skin. "— they smell good."
"it's called fabric softner," yoongi looks away. "how long since you've last eaten?"
"i ate fish," jungkook shrugs, coming to sit by his side, and yoongi stands, then, quickly.
"so you eat your peers," he doesn't expect jungkook to laugh, and it's soft and small and boyish. it makes him nervous.
"i'm not a fish. i'm—"
"yeah, i know."
yoongi doesn't want to wake up namjoon, because explanations would be due and those scare him as much as jungkook's proximity. so he walks into the kitchen alone, steps light, and takes back to the room every other snack he can find. jungkook bites carefully at first, but it doesn't take long until every wrapping is empty, and he chews fast, and yoongi can't help but stare at him. "i was hungry," jungkook says sheepishly, pinks about him. yoongi notices how he forces his speech to change, giving formal endings to his words, even though they're barely noticeable through his accent.
"i can see that," he huffs. "do you sleep at all?" jungkook nods. "do you want to—"
the words almost don't register, and yoongi doesn't have the time to retort, because jungkook moves fast, letting his body curl around his sheets, damp hair all over his pillows. "you're not sleeping here," yoongi snaps, after a moment, body stirring. "not with me." it takes, once again, a bit of pushing and shoving until jungkook is settled on the floor, all folded up on yoongi's rug, bracing his knees. he breathes softly after a while, neck still bright red. "— do you need a blanket?"
"no," jungkook looks over his shoulder at yoongi, and he looks young, so young. "i'm used to the cold."
when the light is off, yoongi stares at the ceiling, listening as jungkook's breathing gets deeper, matching in similar structure the sounds of the water, same octaves, same mourningful hues. he listens for too long of a time, and then yoongi sits up, throwing one of his blankets over jungkook. he doesn't expect jungkook to wake up, but jungkook stirs, fingers curling around the soft fabric. "— why did you want to kill yourself?" the question hangs around them, heavy.
yoongi sucks his breath in. "why did you want to leave the sea?"
"i wanted to know how it felt like."
"yeah," he almost smiles, turning away from jungkook. "i wanted to know, too."
sunlight bothers his sleep at some point, and yoongi's body feels listless, unwieldy under the tiredness in his bones. still, he blinks, once, twice, the contours of jungkook's face coming into view slowly. he stops breathing all together, jerking back. jungkook looks warm, and human, and somehow the thought that he's pretty crawls under the barriers in yoongi's mind. his hair is dry now, colored like autumn's golden hour. "i'm not going to ask," namjoon's voice makes him jolt, and he scrambles out of the bed, heart beating too fast.
"what the fuck, namjoon—" yoongi hisses, but he does it low, as if scared to wake up jungkook.
"i'm sorry, but they're trying to call you from work," namjoon follows him out, and yoongi goes straight for the coffee, ribcage a mess, hair disheveled. "they said you haven't been around for days."
"holidays," he shrugs, flushing, feeling the coffee burn his tongue.
"you need to stop lying, hyung," namjoon sighs. yoongi feels too embarrassed. "look — call them, let them know you're at least alive." the word itself hurts. "and we don't have to talk about jungkook if you don't want to."
"there's nothing to talk about."
"it doesn't look like it," coffee doesn't seem to allay the slight chaos inside yoongi's mind. "— how old is he, hyung?"
"i — don't know," yoongi shrugs, putting the mug down too harshly, and it shatters, coffee dripping everywhere. "fuck." namjoon moves to help him, but yoongi stops him, waving vaguely. "just go to class. i'll take care of this."
namjoon does as he's told, because he knows staying would only rile yoongi even more, making him angry and sulky and quiet. yoongi stares at the broken porcelain, and at the cut on his finger, blood mixing up with all the black of the coffee. he hears jungkook's breathing, then, and doesn't have to turn to know he's standing there. "i'll help you," jungkook mutters, stepping closer.
"no," yoongi starts cleaning up, tossing the broken china away, a bloodied cloth cleaning up the spilled coffee. "— how old are you?"
it isn't exactly the question he wants to ask, it isn't what he should be saying, it isn't a topic that needs attention. there's nothing there, nothing happening, age shouldn't be spoken of. jungkook touches his wrist carefully, and yoongi flinches. he lets jungkook look at the cut, though, and blood runs through jungkook's fingers, too. "i just turned eighteen," he replies. yoongi pulls his hand away sharply.
"you're too young to be sleeping on my bed." there are band-aids in the bathroom, and jungkook watches as yoongi tries to bandage himself.
"that's how it works here."
"— do you want me to help you?" he says no again, but jungkook ignores him. yoongi watches as fingers dirty with blood touch him kindly, and how jungkook struggles with the workings of the bandages, learning as he goes. sometimes yoongi gives him instructions, press there, wrap there, don't do that, and he follows, nodding. "your skin is so fragile."
it's not a compliment, but it feels like it is, and yoongi feels himself getting flustered. "you can't stay here."
jungkook stares at him with eyes round and questioning and blood smudged on his cheek where his fingers touched. he's a shipwreck, yoongi thinks briefly, his bones probably filled with salt water, his insides all corals and reefs. you're not human. "— you're too young."
"that seems to matter a lot."
it doesn't. "it does." yoongi pushes past him, then, trying not to look at the bed they shared, wanting to know how long jungkook was there, and why. he doesn't dwell on those questions, either, choosing to ignore them. his throat, hoarse and dry, produces words he shouldn't be saying, though. "— why a kiss?"
"that's how people fall in love," jungkook answers right away, flatly. "but you didn't."
"because that's not how people fall in love," he points out, trying not to feel so uncomfortable hearing those words. they shouldn't feel like anything, but they do, prickly like splinters digging under his fingernails. "love is — not just a kiss."
"i need it," jungkook watches him fold blankets, standing idly by the door, fingers holding the seam of the shirt he's wearing, pulling it down. "love."
"i can't — give it to you," yoongi's voice cracks, and his sentence comes out unsure, doubtful of itself. he finishes the bed, walking away, hoping there's still enough coffee left. jungkook follows, awkwardly, steps small. they dance around each other, the topic of the conversation too intimate. "try somewhere else."
"there's nowhere else to go."
"try fucking tinder."
"try — what?"
yoongi snorts at the once again how absurd their conversations tend to go. and then he realizes he's making more coffee, to share. it makes him feel weird all of a sudden, out of his own self. "you want coffee?" he asks, coughing, pretending not to be affected by anything. jungkook steps closer and it gets harder to feign indifference, not when he's leaning in, looking over yoongi's shoulder, seemingly curious about the noise the coffee maker does. their arms touch when yoongi moves. "personal space," he sighs, pushing jungkook away. "you need to give people their space."
"i'm sorry," but the scent on jungkook's skin linger, saline and sweet all at once, twined with coffee. "— can i still stay? here?"
"namjoon has to agree," yoongi says after a pause, and he has a headache again, it doesn't seem to end. he pours the hot liquid into two mugs, offering one to jungkook. "and you call me hyung from now on."
"okay," jungkook nods, fingers curling around the mug and yoongi's own fingers, it lasts barely a second before yoongi lets go. he makes a face as soon as he swallows, coughing. "it's hot—"
"— can't i have it cold?"
it's slightly worrying how easily yoongi turns, grabbing ice from the freezer, dropping cubes into his coffee, and jungkook watches him, seemingly mesmerized by such mundane actions. it's worrying because yoongi doesn't mind — neither the watching nor doing it. "try now," he says, and jungkook blinks, drinking, his tongue touching the corner of his lips. yoongi looks away.
"you only eat cold?"
"heat is a bit foreign."
but when i kissed you your tongue was warm, yoongi wants to say, but doesn't. instead, silence settles between them, tangible like river water. yoongi tries his best to act normal, closing the door of his room in order to change, tossing some clothes at jungkook's main direction when he goes back to the living room, focusing his attention on the patterns of the floor when he strips right there, unabashed. the shirt he gave jungkook, black and poorly ironed, hangs opened when yoongi dares to look, golden skin underneath. "you have to close your shirt."
"how—?" jungkook's fingers press the sides of the shirt together, as if they could stick to each other. yoongi sighs, pushing his hands away briskly, and jungkook takes a step closer when yoongi works the buttons one by one. "it's difficult being a person."
"go back to the sea, then," yoongi thinks he's too sharp, and feels guilty about it, because jungkook has stated he can't. still, spitting viciousness seems to be easier than being nice. "i mean — can't you just swim in? do your mermaid voodoo?"
"i'd just drown."
"and what's wrong with that?" he knows he has stepped outside carefully built lines, then, because jungkook backs away, looking down. he seems hurt, yoongi thinks, confused, even. "— look, i didn't mean it that way."
"not everyone wants to drown."
they spend the rest of the day in overwrought silence, sitting at opposite ends of the sofa. yoongi doesn't have the strenght to tell jungkook to leave, or heart, or will, and jungkook doesn't seem to want to, either — but the air around them feels cracked like ice on a frozen river. the television fills the voids, a cluttering of voices and sounds and images yoongi hardly pays attention to, eyes out of focus. namjoon doesn't seem surprised when he walks in to find jungkook still there. "you look like you're having a blast," he comments, cheeky, and yoongi pretends not to hear.
"jungkook's staying for a while," he says, fast, hoping for just a tired nod and no questions asked. namjoon stops, though, backpack hanging from his shoulder, a few books in his arms.
"— okay," he says, slowly. jungkook smiles. "hyung — can i talk to you? in private?"
namjoon's room is more cramped, books piling up on every shelf and surface, in a chaos that he seems to belong to. yoongi just feels overwhelmed by it. "i know what you're going to say," he starts, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans, embarrassed. "he's—"
"are you okay?"
the question susprises him. he nods, vaguely. "yeah."
"you disappeared for a day only to come back late at night soaking wet," namjoon sighs. "you're missing work, coming up with shitty excuses. i— i'm worried, hyung."
"i'm fine," he lies, again, and again, and again, and yoongi almost believes that to be the truth at this point. "i just had to clear my head. i'm okay."
"he's—," there's a gap there, missing a substantive. "a friend. he needs help for a few days."
they stare at each other, and yoongi waits for reprimands, namjoon maybe waits for some sort of truth. he sighs after a while. none get what they were hoping for. "okay." outside, a storm has drifted in from the sea, angry and bright. yoongi walks away first, because he's always the one who does it, anyway. namjoon doesn't follow.
jungkook isn't in the living room anymore. yoongi's heart skips a strange beat, as if mistepping a flair of stairs, confused. but then he sees his sillhouette outside, on the small balcony, dripping wet, lit up by lightning. wind blows his hair as soon as he opens the glass door. "what the hell are you doing?"
"nothing," jungkook shrugs, and another lightning criss-crosses the sky, and his skin looks blurry with colors. the sound of the thunder hurts in yoongi's ears when he steps out, too, already shivering under the pouring rain. "i like storms."
"— you're going to get sick," yoongi says, bracing himself. "let's go inside, you'll make a mess."
"you'll make a mess, too," jungkook turns to look at him, hair sticking to his forehead just like the first time they met. at that moment, strangely, yoongi doesn't hear the blaring sound of the rain anymore. he hears chopin, played mournfully, and every word jungkook says reverbs in e-flats. "— you're pale."
"how are you doing this?" the words, once again, stumble out of his mouth, stuttery. jungkook blinks, unsure. "the music."
there's only a bit of surprise hiding in jungkook's stormy eyes. he doesn't answer, as namjoon knocks on the glass, scaring them both, mouthing you're both insane, and yoongi's ears are filled with the weight of the rain again, deafening and wild. towels are handed to both of them once they step inside, and they shiver, shoulders touching. "— i don't even want to know why," namjoon sounds upset, pressing hot packs against their chests. "just get dry and go to bed."
they do as they're told, in omnious silence. there's no sharing of beds that night, as the storm slaughters the sky above them with a wicked, maybe otherwordly kind of rage. "— how did you do it?" yoongi asks again, hours into the night, and he knows jungkook isn't asleep.
"siren, yes," yoongi forces his eyes closed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "i know that."
"what did you hear?" jungkook's voice is laced maybe with tiredness. he adds, after a second of pause: "— hyung."
it takes a moment of indecision before yoongi stands, and the piano keys are cold against his warm fingers. he plays the tune, until the forceful octaves at the end of the piece match the sound of thunder. jungkook hasn't moved from his bed, but he's staring, and yoongi feels it. "how did you do it?" he asks again, once he stops playing.
"i didn't," and maybe jungkook shrugs in the dark. "i can't make music like you do. not that kind. that was the water."
perhaps that's a lie, but yoongi is too tired to discuss it, so he finds his way into his bed, letting exhaustion take over.
("and how would you describe your relationship with this person?" yoongi doesn't like the word relationship. it implies things. he bites a nail, feeling a weird taste in his mouth. "it's not a relationship," he says. "he's just there." "but there's must be a reason why he's there—" "he's lost." their eyes meet. there's nothing in the psychiatrist's eyes. "like you." yoongi swallows, looking away. "like me.")
it's a week later and yoongi comes home to find jungkook in the kitchen, head down against the table, mumbling incoherencies. he stops, unsure. there's a glass of water near him, and a tipped, empty bottle. jungkook stirs into movement, fingers grazing the wood. "i was thirsty," he hiccups, and yoongi raises his eyebrows.
it takes only a sniff to know jungkook has been drinking the vodka yoongi not so cleverly hid in inconspicuous plastic water bottles. "shit," yoongi mutters, dropping his backpack on the nearest chair, grabbing jungkook's shoulders hastily. "come on, i'll take you to bed."
"i feel sick," jungkook whines, drunkenly.
"water," they sort of stumble together, jungkook pulling on yoongi's clothes, clinging to his sides. "i want to be in the water."
yoongi sits jungkook inside their mostly unused bathtub, turning on the cold water, letting it drench the white shirt he's wearing. jungkook almost purs, sliding down against the porcelain, hiccups and broken words leaving his lips, eyes closed. yoongi stays for a while, and then feels entirely purposeless, leaving a minute later, hands still wet against his jeans, heart a mess. he keeps the door ajar, though, and sits against the wall to better listen jungkook's voice. it changes, he notices, dwelling between whispered soft notes to moan-like complaints. every syllable is spell-binding, and yoongi closes his eyes, lungs filling up with salt, and water, water, all that water—
"i think i need help."
"— what?" yoongi groans, blinking awake from restless, painful slumber, knees and back hurting. the room has turned from the deep oranges of a sunset to empty shadows, a few streaks of light from buildings outside the only things keeping him away from total darkness. he stands, dizzy. "how long—"
there's a noise, like a splash of water. jungkook's voice is shaky. "i just — i need help."
he holds his breath before opening the bathroom's door, and yoongi presses so hard against the doorknob his knuckles turn white. the air smells briny inside, there's no steam. he forgets for a little while what it is to breathe. jungkook's lower body curls out of from the tub, all scales, all glistening, the hues changing against the white, bitter lights. he looks flushed, embarrassed. "i didn't meant for this to happen," he says, sheepishly, the skin of his chest all shimmery where the water touched. yoongi asks himself when did he lose his clothes. it's the wrong question to be asking. "i'm sorry."
"it's okay," yoongi finally exhales, lungs burning. he's blushing, too, he knows. jungkook isn't pretty anymore, he's something else entirely, something so enticing that human words can't fathom. "your legs—?"
"i just need to dry," he explains, pointing to the towels left on the sink. yoongi touches them weakly. "you can go, hyung."
"— can i touch you?" it, maybe, he should be saying, but he's never seen it before, jungkook's true body, hell, he didn't even believe it. it takes a moment before jungkook nods, staring at him. his fingers graze the layers of iridescent scales, and they feel just slighty jagged, as if his skin is engraved with glass. jungkook makes a sound when yoongi runs the back of his hand delicately against the side of his fins, until his fingers touch the skin on his hips— a sigh of some sorts, airy and helpless. "i'll help drying you."
"no, you don't have to—"
but yoongi does it anyway, fascinated by the magic that composes jungkook's particles. as the towel runs against the delicate fins, they dry and die, feeling more like petals and less like sharp objects. jungkook's legs are slowly unveiled, as if all that time he'd been wearing a costume. when yoongi gets closer to his thighs, though, jungkook holds his wrist. "i can do it now," he's all red, all of him, every part of his exposed skin. he's all too beautiful. yoongi feels his stomach churn, and his vision gets blurry.
"yeah, i'll be— i'll be just outside." when jungkook finds him again, he's standing, and his cheeks are still slightly flushed, and his hair drips sometimes. yoongi offers him a mug full of milk and two tylenol pills. "for the headache."
"you ask that a lot," jungkook walks away, into the living room, and yoongi follows.
"you said you couldn't go back to the sea," yoongi knows he's being pushy again, but it doesn't matter. "but you have a — tail—!"
"it doesn't work that way, hyung."
"tell me, then," they're still standing, two, maybe three steps apart, a coffee table in between them, and yet — yet yoongi can smell jungkook, the air brackish and peachy at the same time. it's both revolting and alluring. "i need to understand, or else i'll go mad."
"i told you, it won't have me back," jungkook's voice raises an octave, and he frowns, upset, fingers pressing the mug, spilling the milk. "i need—"
"— love." jungkook puts the mug down. yoongi almost reprimends him for not finishing it, but jungkook's already moving away, towards the door, and then out. yoongi sucks in his breath. "where are you going?"
the lack of answer makes yoongi follow, blindly. jungkook walks with a purpose, damp hair messing up as the wind blows it when they reach the shore. yoongi doesn't walk beside him, but a few steps back, staring at his slouched shoulders, at his neck, the possible red of his ears. they walk straight towards the dark, noisy hole that is the ocean at night, and it swallows all the stars from the sky on its horizon. yoongi's shoes fill up with sand. he only notices he's almost running when he reaches jungkook, holding his wrist, breathing heavily, sweating under his sweater. the water gets angrier, white foam trying touch them. jungkook inhales sharply. "once a year," he says. "once a year we can come ashore."
yoongi waits, still holding jungkook's wrist. waves get closer, more turbulent as they do so. jungkook moves a bit, further away. "why can't you go back?"
"i broke the rules," a sorrowful sigh follows his words. yoongi knows he's staring, but can't help himself. "i should have gone back by sunset, but—" jungkook stirs, coiling from yoongi's touch. "i saw you."
something inside yoongi's chest hurts, and he's scared it's his heart. he tries not to recall that day, how long he sat at the beach, staring into the open sea, thinking through his decision. he stayed and stayed, until tourists and beach-goers and surfers have gone, way after that, deep into the night, when it got so dark people wouldn't be able to see him letting the current take him in. "me?"
"you looked lost."
like you. like me. yoongi swallows, tongue already stained with salt. "— what is going to happen to you now?" no, that's not what he wants to ask, but the right question won't come out, the words scattering around his brain, what happens if you get the love you hope for?
"i'll—," there's a flicker of panic that goes through jungkook's eyes as he turns them back towards yoongi, meeting his. "i don't know." it sounds like a half-truth.
it's quietly and timidly that yoongi touches jungkook's shoulder, after a suspenseful minute or so where they share sadstruck looks, and he tries to convey some sort of reassurance through the way he presses his fingers against the fabric of his hoodie. "let's go home," he finally says. jungkook doesn't move, though. "come on."
but they don't, because jungkook doesn't budge. instead, he sits on the sand, pulling yoongi down with him. "let's stay a bit longer, hyung. i miss it."
"— okay." they stay until they're both shivering, until yoongi is more resolute in his pulls, until jungkook gives in and follows. they lay side by side, on the bed and on the floor, until yoongi whispers, not so wisely, maybe: "we can share the bed today," and when he adds, his voice breaks. "you don't have to sleep on the floor."
"i can sleep on the couch," jungkook offers, already standing up.
yoongi almost says no, almost says stay, almost says i don't mind you sleeping with me, almost says i like the way you smell, almost says i'm sorry i don't know how to love you — but nothing comes out, nothing but a small, broken okay. jungkook leaves the door ajar, and yoongi stares at it for far too long, hoping he'd come back. he doesn't. yoongi doesn't sleep.
"so what you're saying," namjoon gulps down his beer, wipping his lips with the back of his hand. "is that he's a fish."
i need to talk about jungkook, was what he said a couple of hours earlier, but it took him three bottles of the cheapest beer to actual force the words out. yoongi shakes his head vehemently, putting his fourth bottle down. "no, not a fish," he's aware of how insane he's sounding, and maybe how draggy his words are coming out, how slurred. namjoon raises his eyebrows. "he's a siren."
"sirens are female, hyung."
"people are bad at storytelling," he shrugs. namjoon has flushed cheeks from the alcohol, and meat grills in between them, the steam making him look faded. "trust me. he's the real deal."
a pause. "what does your psychiatrist think of that?"
"she doesn't think anything, i never told her."
to be honest, yoongi doesn't go into details with namjoon, either. he doesn't go into the more difficult threads to weave, his almost death, the look of jungkook's body against the light of the moon, how his fins felt like sliced porcelain to the touch. he kept his sentences short and simple, in order to avoid questions. jungkook's a siren. he has fins. i'm not sure what to do. still, namjoon's mind works with facts and logic, not fantasy. yoongi can tell he has a hard time understanding the concept of otherworldly, sea-creature jungkook. "what do you tell her, then?"
it's an unexpected question, and yoongi avoids namjoon's eyes because he knows what he truly means. what do you tell her that you don't tell me, hyung? "isn't that supposed to be confidential?" he sighs. namjoon stares. "i don't tell her anything important, anyway."
"are you okay, hyung?"
"i already told you—"
the silence that fills the void between them is not silent at all, it's ringing with the sleazy 80s tune that plays around them, and the conversations of nearby tables, and the onomatopoeia of clinking plates and metal chopsticks. still, all yoongi hear is white noise, loud and crisp and harsh on his ears. "i just feel empty," he finally says. "all the time."
"why didn't you tell me? you always acted so — normal, hyung."
"you don't have to deal with my shit," yoongi huffs, shoving food inside his mouth to keep from saying more.
"your shit is my shit, too," namjoon pokes his forehead with the tip of his chopsticks, and yoongi scrunches his nose, pulling away. "i'm your friend."
it makes yoongi break into a smile, a crooked one, mouth still full of meat. he shrugs, warmth filling up the spaces under his skin. they change subjects though, back to yoongi's job ("you should find something you like doing, hyung." "i like fixing old pianos."), namjoon's classes ("— it's amazing how similar our generation's grief is to those of german philophers of the nineteenth century." "ah — sure."), and sometimes about jungkook's presence in their household ("he recently discovered forks." "oh, that's why i found one in the bathroom the other day." "he thinks it's a brush." "isn't that just like in—" "he watched that one, yeah." "oh, god."). they talk, until the food is gone and they've had enough beers for a night.
jungkook's fast asleep when they get home, spread all over the couch, blankets on the floor. namjoon ruffles his hair before muttering a i'm calling it a night, hyung, the door for his room closing with a weak thud. yoongi goes into the kitchen, adding water to the kettle, grabbing a mug, and then his hand hovers over a second one.
"isn't it too late for coffee?" jungkook's voice is hoarse, and he has pillow marks on the side his face.
yoongi stares at him, and for some reason he smiles. "not for me."
"you look happy," there's surprise in jungkook's voice. he gets closer, eyes scanning yoongi's features. "your skin is pink." he stops, closer than it's necessary, and yoongi coils the slightest when jungkook touches his cheek with cold fingers. "it's pretty."
"— personal space, jungkook."
"ah, sorry," jungkook bites his bottom lip, looking away, hand hiding behind his back. yoongi's heart beats in a weird pace, fast and confused.
he pours two mugs of coffee instead of one, adding ice to one of them. "next weekend," he says, trying not to sound so nervous, but there's fluttering down his stomach anyway. jungkook takes his mug with a small, happy smile. "we're going out."
"out?" their eyes meet.
"you haven't been to the city, yet, right?"
"so i'm taking you," anxiety spreads all over the colors of his syllables. jungkook blinks, waiting for more. "you need to learn how things work if you're staying here."
yoongi knew it was coming, and yet the murky sadness that stains jungkook's pupils still causes a dull sort of pain in between his ribs. if you're staying here, which truly means if you can't find love, which means i can't love you (not now) (not just yet). "yeah, i guess i do," jungkook nods, grief hanging from every word. "thanks."
"finish your coffee and go to bed," he pats the side of jungkook's arm as he passes by, carrying the mug with him. yoongi swallows the hot liquid before carrying on, voice smaller than it should. "— my bed. you're too tall for the couch, anyway."
("i decided to help him." "jungkook," the psychiatrist says. her voice is mellow, but interested. yoongi told her jungkook's name not too long ago, and she scribbled something on her notepad, the sound of the pen against paper seemingly too loud. "he needs something from me," yoongi nods. "can i ask what?" "i don't feel like sharing that." "okay," they exchange looks. "— he's been the main topic of our past sessions, have you realized that?" she almost smiles, almost. yoongi feels himself blush profusely. "no, i haven't.")
every light of every building reflects onto jungkook's wide eyes. it's somewhat mesmerizing, yoongi thinks, as he tries not to stare. there's a lasting expression of awe engraved on the features of his face, his mouth gapped, cheeks flushed from walking around, eyebrows arched up. "what's that?" he asks, for what it seems to be the eleventh time in the past hour. yoongi sighs, smiling.
"that's the busan tower."
"can we go up?"
yoongi checks his watch. "it's probably closed by now," the slight disappointment in jungkook's face makes him add, too quickly: "we can come back another day."
"we can go to the ferris wheel, if you want to go high," he offers, instead, trying to feed jungkook's smiles with empty promises. yoongi's pretty sure the price for the ferris wheel is beyond what he can spare, considering he had been skipping work days.
"come, let's just go and you'll see."
the money is given away with some grief, but it fades quickly as they step inside the rounded, glassy cab. yoongi almost barely registers he's holding onto jungkook's wrist, but he doesn't let go. jungkook looks frightened as soon as the wheel starts moving, and he grabs onto the fabric of his jeans, anxious. it takes a few minutes, up until they're halfway up, that his expression soothens. the ferris wheel, standing on a boardwalk that follows the shoreline, suddenly gives them the view of a distressed ocean punctuated by street lights, and thousands of stars sparkled against its horizon, away from the city. "— it's higher than your apartment," jungkook stumbles on his words, nervous.
"i live on the second floor," yoongi leans in to say as if it were a secret, thumb pressing against jungkook's skin. the ferris wheel comes to a stop, its metal parts whining a bit. jungkook gasps. "don't worry, we're fine. it'll move again in a few minutes." something of a shiver runs through jungkook's body, and yoongi feels it against his fingers. "you don't like it."
jungkook stirs, and his eyes are apologetic. "i do," he shakes his head. "just — you're holding my hand."
at that, yoongi feels his cheeks heating up involuntarily. "i'm holding your wrist," he clears his throat, embarrassed. "you looked scared."
"— why did you take me out, hyung?"
there's enough vocabulary in yoongi's mind to come up with some sort of hazed lie, but words seem to escape him, and lies are too fickle anyway. "i decided to help you," he finally admits, closing his eyes, head against the glass of the cab. jungkook moves a little, seemingly closer, maybe. "going back to the water."
"i'm not promising you anything," yoongi adds, trying to force his mind to believe in whatever's coming out of his mouth. "but i want to try. if i can't give you what you need, then— maybe someone else."
when silence is all that follows, yoongi turns his head to look at jungkook. he's frowning, as if in thought, canine digging into the soft skin of his bottom lip. "my heart is beating really fast," he mutters, hand raising to touch his chest awkwardly. his eyes meet yoongi's after a while. "is it love already?"
"no," yoongi blushes. "just — infatuation, maybe."
"hyung," jungkook inhales, looking down. "love is going to hurt you, won't it?"
the thought had crossed his mind, yes — but somehow the idea of pain didn't scare yoongi as much as the possibility of allowing himself to love, and be loved in return, maybe, hopefully. the fact that it'd be over all too soon was almost allaying somehow. anything else would be too final, anyway. "love is two ways, jungkook," he shrugs. "if it hurts me, it'll hurt you, too."
they don't talk anymore, then. yoongi still holds jungkook's wrist, long after they've left the ferris wheel, feeling his pulse beat slow then fast, then slow again. the apartment is eerily quiet as the ocean seems too peaceful, and the lack of wind makes everything still and odd. namjoon isn't home. yoongi finally lets go, walking towards the kitchen, feet against the cold linoleum. he stops by the sink, staring at nothing in particular. jungkook is there, his breathing permeating the silence.
"it's difficult being human," he says. "i feel a lot of things i don't understand."
"— like what?"
"warmth," yoongi turns to look at him, and jungkook's just irrevocably pretty, and it stains yoongi's vision the darkest reds. "when i look at you, i feel warm."
the blush on jungkook's cheeks spreads down his neck. "only you." he takes a step closer, fingers grabbing onto his shirt, unsettled. "is it love?"
"infatuation," yoongi repeats, feeling his own body grow warmer.
in a way, saying it out loud helps him understand his own feelings, yoongi guesses. denying he isn't just slightly smitten with the way jungkook looks, or how he breathes, or how he follows so eagerly — that'd be a lie. it isn't love, because love doesn't come that easily and quickly, but it's something that exists and makes yoongi get closer, stepping into jungkook's personal space, watching him swallow, nervously, but daringly staring back at yoongi still, unmoving. "i don't know what that means," jungkook's voice has the different hues he tries not to use so often. the kind that makes yoongi's mind blurry and willing.
"it means you like the way i look," he explains, mouth dry. "it isn't love."
"hyung," the word is suddenly too enticing, and yoongi's knees feel weak. "i don't want your heart to break."
it's broken already, yoongi thinks briefly before grabbing the sides of jungkook's neck, pulling him down and closer, kissing him with the same fleetness he did the first time (it isn't love). goosebumps go down his back when he feels jungkook touch him back, hands careful on his waist, fingers curling on his clothes (it isn't love). maybe it is jungkook's spellbinding voice, how lyrical it sounds and how amenable it makes yoongi feel, but maybe it isnt, maybe it is all yoongi and a dying need to drown — and jungkook, salt in his bones, tastes just like the ocean, and smells just like the waves, and grabs onto him just like the current (it isn't love). the kiss lasts longer this time, and it is slightly more needy, and they stumble backwards until jungkook is pressed against the nearest wall.
"— how does it feel?" yoongi asks after a while, breathing in the scent of jungkook's skin.
"like i'm underwater and can't breathe," jungkook replies weakly. "i'm dizzy. is it—"
"no," yoongi steps back finally, and jungkook clings to his sweater. he raises a hand, trying to fix jungkook's messy strands of golden hair, eyes trying not to stare at how red his lips are.
"my body is hot," jungkook sounds every bit of embarrassed he is. he shifts on his feet, looking away. "it's uncomfortable. i don't like how infatuation feels like."
yoongi steps back again, and jungkook's hands finally leave him. "go take a shower, it's getting late," jungkook nods. "i'll make you something to eat."
the otherwise pained expression on jungkook's face seems to soothen. "— frozen pizza?" he smiles, hopeful. yoongi can't help but smile as well, and maybe he, too, feels all warm inside.
"yeah, frozen pizza."
he takes a shower in namjoon's bathroom, leaving it smelling like his coconut shampoo ten minutes later. jungkook's still under the running water, door always left ajar, as if hopeful. twenty minutes later and they're munching on cold, soggy hawaiian pizza, a blatant space between them on the couch, some weird 1960s movie rolling on the television. namjoon joins them at some point, complaining he hasn't eaten anything hot in days, and he settles himself right between them, sometimes patting jungkook's hair absent-mindedly. something knots inside yoongi's chest, something ugly colored like jealousy. "— i think i'm going to bed," he says, then, standing up, disappointed in himself for feeling that way. it's past one, anyway, i should sleep. jungkook looks at him, questioning. "well, are you coming?"
namjoon arches his eyebrows, but says nothing. jungkook stands, too, awkwardly stumbling on namjoon's feet. "yeah."
"— don't sleep too late, you have class tomorrow," yoongi adds, towards namjoon.
"i'll be fine, hyung," is the reply, monotone. "sleep well."
"yeah, you too."
jungkook falls asleep almost immediately, lips slighty parted, breathing slow and steady. yoongi watches him for too long of a time, trying to print every contour of his face onto his mind, drawing him there in colors too bleak. his feelings, the ones that he's unsure even exist, fill him up, a wave of unwanted heat spreading all over his body again. it's not love, not yet, not right then and there — because it can't be, it doesn't feel like it. still, against his better judgement, yoongi leans in, kissing jungkook just one last time, and somehow, somehow, that kiss hurts more than any other (it isn't love).
the notebook, casablanca, love actually, a walk to remember, ghost, atonement, west side story, jungkook devours love stories, intrigued by the inner workings of human love. and while he does that, over the course of days, and then a month, and then two, that's when yoongi realizes it's easier to fall in love than it should be. he notices it in the way his heart races whenever jungkook calls him, or in the way his voice sounds in the morning after he just woke up, or in the way jungkook sometimes stares at him, eyes wide, waiting for answers only yoongi can give him. it happens naturally, but also not, because yoongi knows he must fall in love, and that knowledge often confuses him.
"how was the movie?" he asks, when jungkook walks in, a borrowed backpack on his shoulder, blushing from the walk.
"good, i had fun," jungkook smiles. he's been going out by himself, after mastering the public transportation system rather quickly. yoongi knows there's nothing in his backpack aside from random money tossed in it, but jungkook wanted one, because humans like to carry things around with them. yoongi gave him one of his, then. "how was work?"
"just fine," he shrugs, getting up to get more coffee. yoongi feels jungkook getting closer, but he doesn't expect his arms curling around his waist, or his body pressing against yoongi's back. jungkook rests his head on yoongi's shoulder, inhaling deeply. "— okay."
"i think i missed you," jungkook sighs, and yoongi can't see his face, but somehow he can feel him getting warmer. "is it love, hyung?"
"no," yoongi shakes his head, but he's not sure anymore. "it's — longing."
"can we kiss?"
they haven't kissed in a while, and it's usually yoongi who starts them in reckless moments, when he's overflown with things he doesn't have names for (that's how people fall in love). somehow, jungkook asking for a kiss, like he did all those months before, it makes yoongi suddenly shy. he coughs. "which movie did you watch, again?"
"baby driver," jungkook smiles through his syllables. they're pretty sounding, as usual. his arms tighten around yoongi's body, and they sort of stumble together towards the counter. "— hyung." his voice shifts, lowering, getting dangerously smooth. he asks again: "can we kiss?"
the voice that sings to him like the ocean is full of strange magic, and it is too alluring to deny. yoongi's tired, and he knows it's wrong to give in so easily, and he knows his willingness is slightly affected by the way jungkook sounds and feels and smells like. he grabs jungkook's hand anyway, leaving his mug abandoned on the kitchen counter, and he closes the bedroom door just to press jungkook against it. the air they share between their lungs is sweet and full of things left unsaid, and their lips hover, tentatively — but then they hear the front door open and close, and yoongi pulls back quickly, chest fluttering. "namjoon's home," he says, seeing himself reflected on jungkook's eyes. it doesn't mean anything, namjoon's presence there. but still. "let's go help him make dinner."
jungkook doesn't complain, even though there's frustration written all over his features. namjoon's already in the kitchen, spreading groceries on the table. he raises his eyes towards them. "— chicken or beef?" he asks, smiling. jungkook makes a face.
"beef for me," yoongi replies, sorting through the packages already. "i'll make you something cold, jungkook."
it's amisdt the cooking and the sharing of anecdotes that yoongi realizes the void inside his chest isn't bothering him that much, that it is filled with things, feelings, sea water, even, and it leaks out of the holes and cracks of his heart. he stops, staring at namjoon and jungkook, chopsticks loosely holding onto a slice of meat, the reality of it all overwhelming. he doesn't want to drown, all of a sudden.
"you okay?" namjoon's voice stirs his thoughts. yoongi blinks, cheeks heating up.
"yeah, just—" he shakes his head, unsure of what to say. "the food turned out really good."
namjoon snorts. "you're getting emotional over food, hyung."
"i guess," yoongi's hands hover over things he doesn't need to hold, fixing plates and awkwardly spilling his drink. as he taps the water with paper napkins, and jungkook moves to help, he says, pushing jungkook's fingers softly away: "no need. you should get to bed. it's getting late."
namjoon is the one to help, then, and they move around each other with the kind of care that isn't usually there. it takes a moment or two, as they pile dishes into the dishwasher, before namjoon finally speaks. "so," he starts, and yoongi bites the inner side of his cheek, nervous. "you two."
"there's no such thing," yoongi's quick to say, turning his back, hiding his face with the door of the fridge as he tries to pile up their leftovers inside. "it's not like that, he's just some kid."
"you're still lying," he hears namjoon sigh. "thought we were past that, hyung."
"i'm not lying," the refridgerator door is closed with a bit more force than it's needed, and yoongi pretends not to notice. his voice wavers. "he'll be gone soon, anyway."
"— what do you mean?"
"hopefully i'll be over with him soon, and we can move on from this mess."
he didn't mean it like that, not in that sharp of a tone, not in such aggressive syllables — but they come out like that anyway, and they echo within the kitchen, and they stale the air, making everything heavy. namjoon feels it, and he looks mildly upset, grimacing, and then there's a noise, a strangled, muffled thing, and yoongi's heart just sinks. he turns just in time to see jungkook drop the things he was holding (a towel, yoongi's clothes he sleeps in), already on his way to the door, and yoongi's feet don't work, his mind blank, and then dark, and then blank again, lips parted to say words, but nothing, nothing—
the front door is slammed. the silence that follows is horrifying.
"go after him," namjoon finally beckons, shoving yoongi. "go fix it."
"hyung, get your shit together and go."
jungkook's only a block away when yoongi finally leaves the apartament, stepping firmly towards the water, where broken hearts often go to die. yoongi runs, choking on jungkook's name. "— wait, jungkook—" he finally reaches him, breathing heavily, tugging at the sleeve of his shirt, and jungkook only stops when their shoes are full of sand and their hair is blown by salty air. "wait."
"what?" and it's blunt like an old knife.
"i didn't mean it like that," yoongi's heart clenches when he sees jungkook's eyes, how they're glistening as if full of supernovas, or diamonds, or shards of colored glass. they're only tears, though, human and somber and unwanted, because jungkook holds them in, sniffing. "i never—"
"it's okay, hyung."
"i lie," jungkook takes another step towards the water. yoongi holds his arm, suddenly scared. "i lie, that's what i do—"
"you don't owe me anything else, hyung," the sadness that stains jungkook's small voice is heartbreaking. yoongi swallows, and it hurts his throat. "thank you for taking care of me for a while."
"what are you talking about?" but jungkook pulls his arm free, and yoongi watches, mesmerized and terrified, as the waves lick at his ankles, as if calling for him. he hears the music, the chords of piano, faintly, in between the agitated running of water, and jungkook hums alongside, but it's wrong. they're out of tune. "jungkook, you're going to drown—"
he fights against the current as he follows jungkook into the sea, feet dragging, clothes soaking through. the waves get bigger, pushing him further away from jungkook, towards the shore. yoongi finds himself growing desperate. he thrashes against the hold of the water, hands trying to swim through, and jungkook disappears into the darkness, until yoongi's left screaming his name in panic, until passerbys come to find him, pulling him out from under, saving him from drowning, too. you can't swim, you can't swim, you can't breathe underwater, you're human—
yoongi opens his eyes, mouth full of salt, tongue raspy. he's wet, still wet, and maybe not a long time has passed. namjoon's face changes color, red and blue, red and blue, red and blue. he's in an ambulance. "jungkook—"
"they didn't find him," namjoon's voice is weird, or maybe yoongi's hearing is impaired. "somebody called for help when they saw you drowning. i'm glad i was coming to find you—"
"he's," he lowers his voice, looking around. something stings on yoongi's arm, maybe an iv needle. "he can swim, he'll be fine—"
but then there are suddenly paramedics and a hospital and yoongi's taken far from the ocean, away from any bodies of water, and into rooms where people stare at him and ask him questions. suicidal, the word he's so afraid to say out loud, is repeated continuously, and it is written on sheets of paper, the sound of the pen scratching paper much like a song gone awry. jungkook doesn't show up, nor his body, washing up ashore.
yoongi feels empty.
("you got color back in your cheeks," the comment is a weird one, regarding his outer appearance, and not his mind. yoongi raises his eyes. "are you spending time on the beach?" "yeah," he replies, after a moment. a clock ticks too loud, and yoongi can't hear the sea from that high. "i like the beach." "do you want to talk about—" "no," his voice comes out airy. "i don't want to talk about it." it, him, them. the psychiatrist's lips press together in a thin, red line. "okay, then.")
("it's been three weeks—" "i still don't want to talk about it." a sigh follows.)
the front door opens at some point in the afternoon, as yoongi watches the blood orange shades spread over the walls, staining everything ugly, violent colors. it's been left unlocked, with the leftovers of wishful thinking that are still buried in yoongi's ribcage. it's hot, the apartment is all closed. a breeze comes through the door as it swings open, cold from the corridor, smelling of the sea. yoongi inhales, drunkenly from soaking in the sun, almost asleep.
"you're early today," he mumbles, hearing the slow footsteps approach. namjoon stops, then, but it's not namjoon, it can't be, as the ocean water scent spreads even further into the apartment — and yoongi sits up too fast, blood rushing all over, making him dizzy. he blinks, blind against the sunlight. "— you're back."
"yeah," jungkook doesn't look much different. if anything, his hair's got highlights from the sun, and his skin is more splattered with galaxies made out of freckles than before, and maybe his lips are chapped and his clothes fit him oddly, but he's still the same. jungkook's eyes take in yoongi's disheveled appearance, maybe recognizing the shirt he used to sleep in, the one yoongi sometimes wears just because it smells saline, like jungkook's skin.
"you were right," he shrugs, getting a bit closer, enough that yoongi can reach his hand and touch him. he doesn't do that, though. "i can't swim."
"you ask that a lot, hyung."
yoongi finally stands, fingers trembling, lungs overflowing with dark, dark river water. "your things are still in my bedroom," and they're yoongi's things, but they're not, after all. they're jungkook's.
"you're wearing my pyjamas," jungkook looks down at his feet, blush on his face, tiny smile adorning the pretty shape of his mouth.
"jungkook," the words suddenly need to be out, and yoongi steps closer, then some more. jungkook coils the slightest, and he's colored just like the sunset from a minute ago. blood orange, pretty pinks. a masterpiece, of the kind people stop and stare and photograph and keep in their memories forever. "i'm sorry i hurt you."
(i'm sorry i hurt you
i'm sorry i almost made you cry
i'm sorry i couldn't save you from the water
i'm sorry i'm falling in love
i'm sorry it'll hurt
"i hurt you, too," jungkook shrugs, embarrassed. "it's both ways, isn't it? you told me so."
"— can i kiss you?"
it's not what he truly wants to ask, it's not what should be asked, or what should happen, but yoongi thinks he's given up on shoulds and woulds. his body missed jungkook's body, even though they never touched, even though there were always spaces between them. jungkook bites down his lip, fiercely, to the point it turns wine red. just like that, the room is made of indigo darkness, the sun finally sinking into the foreboding horizon. jungkook only nods, hair falling over his eyes.
it shouldn't be that easy to grab jungkook's hand, or to make him sit on the bed, looking up with wide, expectant eyes, mouth gapped, waiting. yoongi doesn't let him wait too long. their kiss is a river finding comfort in the arms of its pacific lover, and sometimes it gets angry and desperate, and sometimes it's calm and slow and steady. but like river water longs for the sea, so does yoongi's body for jungkook's, and his mind, and his heart — all of his heart, every cell and every fickle beating and every pump of human blood. he feels jungkook press his legs together, sighing against his mouth.
not much is said between their hitched breathing. jungkook doesn't know the workings of his body, and when yoongi shows him — clumsily and somewhat awkwardly — he gasps loudly, shivering, grabbing onto yoongi's sweaty clothes for support. from it's embarrassing, jungkook's speech changes to a stream of good, good, good, so good, punctuated by breathy, otherworldly sounds, a choir of throaty moans and things that have no names in human languages.
they don't go far — because jungkook is young and naive and still unstained, and yoongi is scared and confused and messy, but they make each other feel good, good enough they get sleepy, good enough they don't mind the darkness clinging to the corners of the room, good enough they forget what it is to drown. jungkook curls around him, and yoongi feels sticky and hot and all too comfortable in his arms. "— why did it take you this long?" he asks, finally, voice small. "to come back?"
"i was scared you were losing your heart to the sea."
"— what if i was?"
jungkook stirs. "hyung," jungkook starts, and yoongi can tell there were a lot of beginnings trying to come out of his mouth, a lot of words that almost made it, just to be forcefully swallowed again. yoongi waits. "— it isn't love." the affirmation is dry, and it sounds like a thousand lies, all colorful like ribbons.
"— no," yoongi agrees after a while. "it's—"
"let's just sleep."
(what if it is?)
the sea is alive, that's what yoongi learns.
alive, not souless — a sentient being. jungkook doesn't explain, but yoongi doesn't need be told so. the sea sings to him, and he listens. that's enough. he listens as it plays chopin for him, a nocturne when it's angry, a fast scherzo when its mood is bright, a foreboding ballade when nights are colored bleak. i was scared you were losing your heart to the sea, jungkook had said, nights back, days back, weeks, maybe, and yoongi, thoughts a blur, thinks drowning in all those chords and keys isn't a bad way to go.
he blinks, eyes averting the waves, mouth salty. jungkook stares at him. it's daylight, and the beach is full, the twelve o'clock sun hot and steady above them. "hey," he clears his throat.
"— what are you doing here?"
there's fear in jungkook's voice, and his eyes travel to the water a few meters ahead of them, waves getting bigger as he does so. "thinking," yoongi replies. he offers jungkook a hand, and jungkook takes it, pulling him up, sand gripping to yoongi's jeans. "i'm sorry i left you at home."
yoongi had woken up with music, the kind that drags him out of bed, and lures him foot after foot to the shore. jungkook was still asleep, all those hours before, hair messy, lips parted, pretty, so pretty, tinged all yellow as the sun rose. still, yoongi left him for the calling water.
they walk together now, on the boardwalk full of people and tourists, not holding hands because they can't, but fingers touching briefly with every other step, searching for each other. they hear the waves crash, suddenly disturbed. jungkook doesn't speak. his cheeks are flushed, and his lips pursed. "what did you mean," yoongi starts, then, voice wavering. "by losing my heart to the sea?"
"— nothing," jungkook shakes his head. "i didn't mean anything."
"jungkook," a pause, in which yoongi grabs jungkook's wrist, pressing against his skin, fingers searching for contact. all that coldness, the slow beating of his pulse, it's much like the feel he gets from the ocean, and jungkook smells the same, and yoongi is irrevocably, inexpicably in love with — it, him, pronouns are messy, his heart is messy. "what happens when you're loved?"
jungkook stops walking altogether. someone brushes past him, and he stumbles, looking down, eyes glassy. he shakes his head, biting his lips, face all red and pinks. "hyung, i can't—"
"because i think—"
"no," the word is forceful, in the hues that sing like old music, and yoongi feels his body fickle, willing. he doesn't say anything else, staring. "let's go home."
fighting against jungkook's honey-like voice is painful, and yoongi feels almost nauseous. "just tell me, kook. please."
at that moment, as if knowing it'll get the heart it claims for, the ocean comes to a quietness almost unreal, flat and calm and smooth, blues deep and emeralds green in the horizon. jungkook has sadness of the same color in his eyes. a soft, briny breeze blows wisps of his hair away from his eyes. yoongi can't stop looking at him, a painting come to life, a part of the sea in the shape of a boy. "you die," the reply is small and shaky. "— i'll take your heart to the water."
yoongi exhales slowly. "my heart?"
a short nod. the silence coming from the water is overwhelming. people come out of it, unsettled by the quietness. yoongi feels it in his ribcage, the dull sort of strangeness of that silence. "i'll carve it out," jungkook continues. "i'll — i'll hurt you."
"and if you don't?"
"i'll just — become seafoam, eventually."
"so it is both ways," yoongi mutters. "it'll hurt you, too."
they stand awkwardly, the weight of yoongi's unspoken feelings on their shoulders, the unpleasantness of it all — and here's where the water, the sentient being who selfishly fell in love with a human, wins. yoongi isn't afraid to die, never been, always longing for the sensation of having his lungs filled with sand and salt and darkness. from afar, water flows and ebbs, singing to him.
"— it isn't love," jungkook says, though, and it's almost a plead.
don't say it, hyung.
don't say it.
he stirs into movement, pulling jungkook with him. the song dies as they walk away from it, turning angry, revolting. yoongi doesn't look back, fingers etched onto jungkook's wrists, almost painfully. the apartment is sunlit, the bed they share is warm, warm, unlike the skin under jungkook's clothes. he searches for it, the flesh and bones he's made of, the human parts, the siren soul. jungkook lets him do it, eagerness growing in his pupils. yoongi crawls over him, hovering, taking in jungkook's curves and edges, sinking in the scent of skin. "can you say it?" he asks, breathing heavily. "do you love me?"
"i can," jungkook's breath is hot, close. they stare at each other. "— i can say it."
"it'll get jealous," the water. yoongi can barely hear it now, his senses taken over by everything that makes jungkook, instead. his heart aches, and it blooms and it stains, like blood on sheets. it's love, dripping out of him, it's all love, and if he can't say it, he wants to know how it is to hear.
their bodies are close and yearning and needing, and yoongi moves, and jungkook shudders, eyes pressing closed, a thing of a gasp leaving his mouth. it's musical, it's a calling. yoongi does it again, and again, feeling hazed and elated, jungkook's song getting louder. "please say it," he mutters against jungkook's ear, and jungkook's nails are digging onto the skin of yoongi's ribs, his legs heavy around yoongi's hipbones. "— i need to know how it feels like."
nothing is said for a while, air clammy with their raspy breathing, the smell of salt overwhelming, filling up their lungs. they move slow, so slow it hurts, so slow it's cruel. "hyung," jungkook's head is thrown back against the pillows, hair spread like a halo, neck blemished with red and purple. the word is repeated, as they move together, a plead of its own, a prayer, maybe, a siren's song. yoongi touches jungkook gently, fingers careful, feeling jungkook squirm. "— hyung—"
"please, jungkook," yoongi holds himself back, dragging and dragging both of them through it, lungs already failing. "tell me how you feel."
"i love you," i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you— and like every song ever sang by creatures made out of water, it leads to a bad conclusion, it leads to shipwreck and disdain, it leads to death and deep water and sinking.
and still yoongi gives up his heart right there, as he's hit with euphoric waves of sheer clemency, if it only means jungkook gets to sing forever.
("— i'm in love." the doctor raises her face too quickly. "you finally said it," she smiles this time. "how does it feels like?" "like my pockets are full of stones," yoongi smiles, too. "and i'm ready to drown." sadness stains the otherwise happy features on the doctor's face.)
"you can have my heart," his voice cracks, and yoongi feels himself shiver. "and jungkook gets to be alive."
water latches at his feet, a whirlpool of darkness, cold, an answer. it's deep within the night; there's no wind, as if the world is holding its breath. yoongi walks in, further until his pants are soaked through, until the current starts to drag him in like a lover onto bed, until there's no more sand under his feet. then he drowns. it's salty and it hurts yoongi's throat, making him gag, and he coughs, and coughs, and he dies. the song in his head is loud and overwhelming, a funeral march, a waltz, and all that water, and all that nothingness in it.
his chest hurts— but the water, the water, the it who fell in love with a human, is suddenly full of remorse. yoongi tastes it in his tongue, and he throws up all that seasalt when he gets pushed out of it, waves tossing him against the sand, giving him back to the earth and oxygen he belongs to.
yoongi heaves, seeing red in the corner of his vision, dizzy, misplaced. "why—" he can't breathe, dripping, knees sinking into the sand. if the ocean won't have him, or his heart, then jungkook is bound to misery, to the death yoongi so desperately searches for. "please take me—"
hands touch the sides of his body, gentle and caring and cold. "hyung," the word is a choir in itself. water rolls by, gentle, too, caring, too, cold, too. it doesn't make sense. "breathe, hyung."
jungkook is wet, because he's been in the water, too, and he dragged yoongi out from under, just like he did all those months ago. "you can't die," yoongi mumbles, skittish, hand curling onto jungkook's wet t-shirt. "i won't let you." but soon yoongi is being held up, arms all around his body, the ocean being left behind, and he's shivering, and he's numb, and he's alive, and—
"are you awake?"
yoongi blinks, staring at a copper-colored ceiling. the sun is setting, or rising, he wouldn't know. it feels warm, too warm, burning on his skin through the window. jungkook is curled around him. they're still wet, smelling of ocean water, hair damp, clothes sticky. his sheets are soaked, and his mattress is, too. yoongi tries to move, tries to stand, but jungkook doesn't let him. "yeah."
"just stay here," jungkook asks, breathing against yoongi's neck. "don't leave."
"— okay." they breathe together, lungs inhaling and exhaling, as if air could flow from one body to another through the touch of their skin. after a while, though, he can't bear but ask: "is it going to hurt?"
"when you carve out my heart," yoongi sighs, heavy-hearted. "— it's yours, jungkook." it's all yours, all yours, all yours, every violent thread and red muscle, it's all yours. "take it to the water."
a pause, heavy and sad. jungkook's fingers curl over yoongi's chest, holding onto the fabric of his shirt. yoongi feels fear crawling down his spine, vile and horrifying and unwelcomed. "is it still singing to you?" yoongi trembles, but there's nothing in his ears, nothing of the water, no calling or prayer, no piano chords luring him to the abbyss. he shakes his head.
"i only hear you."
jungkook kisses his neck briefly, hugging his body tight. "i'll keep your heart, hyung," he whispers, lips against yoongi's skin. "i'll keep it safe."
"it gave it to me," it's a simple sentence, but yoongi fails to understand it. jungkook runs a hand under yoongi's damp shirt, cold fingers over his beating human heart. "and if you want —," a tinge of shyness in his voice, and yoongi's heart beats faster. "if you still want it, mine is yours, too."
"i love you," yoongi blurts out, rolling his body as quickly as he can, meeting jungkook's lips, kiss hasty, saline. "i love you." nothing happens. no glorious hallellujahs, no visceral deaths, no bloodspills or waves or water or songs. love, when it dawns upon them, said in words and actions, it's human and fleshy and mortal. and the water, the water who fell in love with a human, where all heartbroken people go to die, doesn't call to them anymore, doesn't call to yoongi, doesn't feel like a lover, but like water, like the sea, beautiful, but foreign and aloof. jungkook feels warm to the touch all too suddenly. "— won't you miss it?"
"we can learn how to swim," jungkook smiles, face flushed.
"yeah," their foreheads touch. "i guess we can."