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Tell Me a Story

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The first time Jungkook walks into the library, it’s because of a class assignment due the next day.

 The topic of the week for his art class was to observe natural movement, and the environment he had randomly drawn from the box was the library. To be perfectly honest, Jungkook didn’t expect much from the place. He enjoyed and felt inspired from active subjects, vibrant and energetic. The challenge was to capture that activity into a single piece of art. But a library? At this point, he was just hoping he could find at least someone to take notes on and sketch that wasn’t an elderly person dozing with a newspaper in their lap.

With a sigh, Jungkook lays his backpack down on an empty table and sets up his workstation, pulling out his sketchbook and his favorite pencil. He relaxes his muscles and allows his eyes to roam over the people situated around the space. One corner of the small library is occupied by children playing with the puppets next to a little makeshift stage, reading picture books leaning against big stuffed animals, and whining to their parents for ice cream afterwards. Another corner houses the teenagers, studying for their upcoming tests or browsing for some leisure reading. He shifts in his seat to watch the librarians at the check-out desk smile kindly at their patrons in the third side of the library, before focusing on the area in which he is seated. Here, adults scan the spines of the various books lining the shelves, hoping to find something to read while knowing they will most likely return it without reading past the second chapter. Some sit just scrolling through their phones while others type away on their laptops and tablets.

Jungkook twirls his pencil, not feeling a spark to focus on any of these people or their quiet actions. Groaning, he lays his head on his arms and closes his eyes, feeling a sense of hopelessness and frustration fill him, when a giggle from across the room perks his interest. His head shoots up to look for the source of it when his gaze comes across a man with jet black hair and the sweetest smile. He sits at the information desk, leaning over to talk to a little kid that has his arms propped on the desk. The man giggles once more while holding out a bowl of candy to the child, watching with adoration as the boy eagerly takes a couple pieces. Jungkook finds himself unable to look away from the interaction, drawn to the way the man’s eyes look like little crescent moons when he laughs or smiles, and how he seems to radiate a certain energy around him. The man waves goodbye to the child as he is lead away by his mom, before leaning back in his chair and stretching his arms up high, body movements reminding Jungkook of a cat.

Entranced, Jungkook starts to measure proportions and distinct characteristics in his head before reaching for his pencil. He starts to sketch the man with the musical laugh and the soft spot for children, trying to capture his sparkling eyes and beautiful smile in his small sketch. Unsatisfied with his every attempt, he spends the next two hours flipping page after page attempting to draw the figure he sees before him but failing. He rubs his face in frustration and flips to the next page once more before he looks up to see that the man is standing up and greeting an older woman. They talk for a bit before he gathers his stuff and, with a final wave, he walks away. Jungkook feels his heart drop as the man leaves the library, unable to move, the image of his laughing face still burned into his mind.

The next morning, Jungkook turns in hastily drawn sketches of a man reading a newspaper and two children playing with puppets, the sketchbook full of failed attempts stuffed in a desk drawer back in his room.

 

~~~

The first time Jimin walked into the library, it was on a rare trip outside with his foster parents.

His foster mother was in a good mood after receiving the check, and let each of the kids check out a book to take back home with them. He walked through the shelves, searching for a book to find comfort in during his rough nights, before picking out Anne of Green Gables. He read the little summary to find that it was a story of a little orphan girl that is mistakenly adopted, only for it to become her real home where she is loved and cherished. He clutched the book tightly to his chest and walked back towards the end of the aisle, only to be shoved back by his foster siblings. One of the older boys snatched the book out of Jimin’s hands, snickering as he read the summary before using it to smack Jimin’s head, mocking his choice and calling it girly and stupid. Jimin felt tears stinging his eyes as he tried to take the book back, when the appearance of one of the librarians had the other boys dropping the book and running away. The librarian had gently picked up the book and placed it back in Jimin’s hands before offering him a lollipop and a soft smile. Sniffling, Jimin took the piece of candy and offered a watery smile back.

Ever since then, the library had been a safe haven for him. Back during his childhood, he would sneak a trip to the library after school every once in a while, risking a beating back home to escape his reality and enter a fictional land for just a couple hours. Until he was moved to another foster home, he would always sit next to the kind librarian and read a book he had recommended to Jimin, before running back home. Even after he had moved, he still found a way to sneak to the local library to read and hide from the pain of his world.

Now, at the age of twenty-two, the library was one of the few places he was still allowed to go to. He had convinced Youngjae that all he did there was sort books and help the elderly and little kids find books, that people around their age rarely came to the library. With careful reasoning about their financial stability and how it was only a couple hours a week, he had kept his job at the library, and for that he was grateful. The library was one of the few places he could work without having prying eyes or questioning glances as to why he was always wearing long sleeves and jeans, or why he was quiet and subdued on some days. Conversations were short and quiet, and people never suspected anything in a place as pure and innocent as a library. The library was still his hiding place and the place he felt happiest, surrounded by the books that were his only friends, and letting him feel as if even someone like him could make a difference in someone else’s day. No matter what he went home to or what he came back from, the library was the home for his heart and the only place he felt safe and loved.

He only had a couple hours left on his shift when a he noticed a student, maybe in college, walk into the library with a somewhat annoyed look on his face. He huffed as he looked for an open table, before pulling out a notebook and pencil. The boy was a mix between handsome and cute with big doe eyes and a chiseled jaw, bunny teeth chewing on his bottom lip as he looked around the library. A little cough in front of him took Jimin’s attention away from the boy with the pretty eyes as a smaller boy leaned up on the information desk, asking if he had any candy today. With a giggle, he pulled out his little stash of candy he saved for the little kids, and paid no more attention to the student, not knowing that the student now had his undivided attention on Jimin.

His shift ended more quickly than he had hoped, and after exchanging goodbyes with the other librarians, he reluctantly left his shelter to face his reality back home.