Bruises, when he first gets them, are always the same color.
They're always purple.
Whether they be a deep shade of plum or a light mauve, they never strayed from resembling some sort of violet hue. If he poked them, they'd throb once, disappear into the natural tan that was his skin, and come back looking exactly the same (if a bit darker than before). He hated that they were purple, because purple was such a hard color to cover up. Maybe if the color wove around his neck or littered his collarbones he could explain it away as hickeys. Hell, he could even procure a sensible story if it was on his wrists, or his ankles; the usage of rope in the bedroom was not unheard of these days, thus the excuse would suffice.
But. The bruises weren't on his neck, nor his ankles, nor wrists.
However, it didn't take long for the purple to fade into blue, then to red, and finally to a sallow yellow. Maybe five or six days. For the bigger ones, possibly a week and a half if they were really bad. Those ones, the bad ones, required two layers of concealer to hide. If he gained too many in a week, he went through his tiny container of concealer within twenty uses, and more often than not twenty uses was not enough to cover what needed to be covered. He hated going to the store to buy more. Sometimes the ladies there would give him weird stares. After he'd become somewhat of a regular, the clerk had taken to discounting whatever items he'd bought (even if he had no coupon and even if there was no discount event going on at the moment) and occasionally throwing in extra products to his bag when his attention temporarily diverted. He'd eventually caught the clerk after this happened for the umpteenth time. He found out the clerk's name was Taehyung, and they became fast friends.
He still doesn't like leaving the apartment to buy the concealer, though. He only does it because he has to.
He only does it because the purple marks his skin.
Jungkook ran a hand down the upper part of his side as he looked in the mirror at the violet marring the space. His torso is twisted at an insane angle, one that Hoseok would be proud of him for achieving if he could hit the pose at practice. Telltale reddish-yellow imprints are settled on the area around the darker color. He stretched further, pulling at the skin with his own fingers, and sighed. He knew without looking that similar marks were on his back.
"How am I supposed to reach those?" He asked no one. Jungkook sighed again, quieter this time, reached for the handle of the bathroom cabinet that was his, and rooted around. God, let this be quick. His boyfriend was going to be home any second now. The brunette himself had returned from dance practice not half an hour ago, exhausted out of his mind, and the last damned thing he needed was Yejun banging the door down and demanding to know what he was doing holed up in here. Jungkook just didn't have the energy to deal with that today.
It took a bit longer than he would've liked since he couldn't reach properly, but he managed to make the purple vanish once a thick layer was applied to the space (it was certainly better than the first time he'd attempted to do this a year ago. He'd gotten it all over his clothes and hands and had somehow managed to get some it in his mouth. Don't ask him how). He didn't like doing this before bed, either, but he had to start early tomorrow, which meant he wouldn't have the time to do it in the morning.
Just after he'd finished washing his hands, the sound of keys turning a lock greeted his ears. Jungkook's eyes widened, flitting over the water that drenched the floor from his shower, the concealer that was still out, and his own nakedness. Shit! I haven't cleaned up yet!
"Jungkook, I'm home!" A familiar voice called, light and teasing.
Shit, shit, shit!
He didn't even want to know what would happen to him if he wasn't there to give his boyfriend his welcome home kiss. Ignoring the panic that had started screaming at him the second he'd heard his partner, he scrabbled to clean the bathroom up (as well as get some clothes on). Concealer, away. Puddles of water, sopped up with a towel. Clean underwear, on. Sweats, on. Shirt...shirt...Jungkook blinked hard. Where had he put his damned shirt?
"Jungkook-ah?" Yejun's tone turned confused. "Are you there?"
"Y-Yes!" The brunette answered. He whipped around the small space frantically. Dammit, fucking hell, he couldn't go out there without a shirt on! Then he would see that...he'd see that the purple was gone.
"Where are you?" It sounded like his boyfriend was getting closer. "Babe? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine!" There, there it was! Jungkook snatched the article of clothing from where it had been hiding in the corner (how had it gotten there?) and hurriedly tugged it over his head. "I'm fine, I'll be there in one second!"
He heard Yejun chuckle. "I'm counting."
It was meant to be joking, but he'd heard those words too many times in too many harsh circumstances for him to take them as a joke. He patted at his wild hair and opened the door. He was met with the face of a handsome man a slight bit taller than him, strong blonde eyebrows furrowed, hand raised to knock. When he saw Jungkook, his features lit up. The brunette tried not to let his insides wilt in misery at the happy smile he was currently being sent.
Immediately, Jungkook leaned forward and captured his boyfriend's lips in a brief kiss. Yejun kissed him back, lifting a hand to rest on his shoulder. After he had pulled away the hand on his shoulder remained.
"How was your day today?" The younger of the two asked in the most polite way possible.
His boyfriend smiled. Yejun always looked so free and open whenever he grinned like that. Almost like an angel. No wonder he'd gotten a job as a model. "It was wonderful! The photographer complimented me so often, you'd think it would get annoying, but it was actually really nice." He chuckled. Jungkook felt the hand on his shoulder tighten in grip. Yejun's eyes darkened a bit as he leveled a look at him. "You should compliment me more."
Jungkook thought back to something his friend Jimin had once told him: As people receive compliments, they become kinder, gentler, and more beautiful. He wished that that was true, because if it was, he'd shower Yejun with them and his blonde boyfriend would never...he would never... "I'm sorry-"
Yejun held up a hand. The brunette immediately stopped talking. "And...you weren't there to give me my welcome home kiss."
"I was in the shower, I wasn't dressed yet-"
"Jungkook-ah, you know what that means." His boyfriend scolded softly, eyes a contrast to his tone with their hardness. "Turn around."
Jungkook contemplated not doing it. He thought about pushing past his partner and running like hell throughout the apartment, grabbing his keys, his wallet, his phone, and then getting the fuck out of there. He thought about what it would be like to taste true freedom. Out there, beyond these walls, where Yejun couldn't find him.
He didn't run.
He turned around and bent.
Four rough smacks landed on his ass, another two on his sore legs. Tears of humiliation blurred his vision.
The bruises there stung.
He hated them.
That night Jungkook gritted his teeth as a means of holding in the winces that wanted to escape. Yejun's hands dug into his waist, his breath hot against his abs, where his boyfriend bit down in the next second.
Irritated at the sharpness of the gesture, the brunette hissed. More bruises. More marks.
When they're finished, blood stains the sheets.
It's not Yejun's.
"Eh?" Jimin's response was almost instantaneous. His expression played on innocent as he gazed at the younger man through his pale silver bangs, one hand cradling his water bottle, the other scraping a small white towel along the expanse of his neck. He was sweating like crazy (they all were) and gulping in air. Jungkook's own chest ached from their vigorous session but thankfully Hoseok was allowing them a ten minute break (one desperately needed).
Nerves bounced about the younger man's stomach, making him feel weirdly sick. He glanced down at the floor to collect his thoughts. He had been trying to bring forth this question for weeks now, but every single time the words died on his tongue; not to mention the fact that he did not wish to worry his friend or burden him in any way. But Jungkook needed out. He needed a way. He needed- "Do you...um, do you have a spare bedroom in your house?"
The mochi's eyebrows furrowed. Lowering his water bottle from which he had been preparing to take a sip, he eyed Jungkook's figure with both interest and suspection. "I do."
A lump had decided to make a home in his throat, rendering him unable to continue. The maknae nodded, looked away, and said nothing more. Pretending to become fascinated with his dance bag, he walked over and rummaged through it, cursing himself quietly underneath his breath. Dammit. He had been doing so well. Tomorrow it would be, then, tomorrow he would ask properly. Yes. Tomorrow.
Warmth suddenly covered a small part of his back. Jungkook turned around to see Jimin, his expression less suspicious and more concerned. He offered his hyung a smile, which was returned. Jimin's next words were soft rather than teasing. "Kookie, is everything alright? Do you need to stay with Yoongi hyung and I for a few days?"
All of the blood fled Jungkook's face. Here he was, being offered what he'd been attempting to ask for, and now something like fear was gripping him. He was just now realizing something that he hadn't thought of before, and that was that Yejun would kill him if he left. Even for the smallest span of time. He'd ask why he wasn't good enough, ask if Jungkook didn't trust him, because of course he should, they were together, everything was fine and they were together and oh my god he would wake up in a pool of red the next morning, wouldn't he? "No, hyung, it's fine-"
"I know that it can get to be a bit too much sometimes." Jimin cut him off gently. "Our practices are a lot, and I know that you go to the gym, too, and you're working to help your boyfriend pay the rent. That's really tiring all put together, Kookie. If you need to slow down for a little while, I wouldn't mind having you over."
Jungkook didn't have the heart to tell his hyung that he'd stopped going to the gym once the purple had spread to his arms and legs. Working out in long sleeves or pants made him extra sweaty and uncomfortable, and working out as intensely as he did was enough to sweat profusely anyway. He would sweat off the concealer within thirty minutes if he didn't cover up. And he could not have people seeing that. So no gym (he credited his impressive physique to morning runs, lifting weights in the house, and lots of pull ups and sit ups).
"Yoongi hyung wouldn't like if I was there."
The mochi rolled his eyes, grinning. "I'd convince him, don't worry." He wriggled his eyebrows. "Or threaten no kisses for a week."
They laughed at that, each picturing the sulky look the producer would wear for the seven days he was deprived of affection. Jimin ruffled the brunette's locks, who swatted at him playfully. "It's alright, hyung, I was just asking because Yejun will be out of town for a few days for a shoot. But I think I'll enjoy the peace of being alone in the house. I'll get to pee with the door open and everything."
Lying, lying, why does he lie so much to his friends?
Jimin's eyes transformed into crescent moons as he laughed again, the sound like the tinkling of a wind chime. He felt even worse after hearing it. He can't take his false truths back, though.
"Alright!" Hoseok's voice rang out. The boys looked over to him just as he finished bringing his hands together in a loud clap. His tone was sunny and his expression even more so when he announced, "Time to get back to work, you guys! If we make good progress by the time we have to leave today, we'll have a good third of the song finished." He brought his hands together again. "Let's do this!"
The song was one that began slow, steadily crescendoing until the bass dropped and the tempo became upbeat and quick, almost as though the artist had chosen to combine Zedd and some kind of music from the Baroque era. It was a song that Jimin and Jungkook had originally been a bit opposed to when they first heard it-however, after listening to it several more times coupled with Hoseok's passionate explanation, they agreed that it was good fit for the trio: the beginning was fluid and contemporary like Jimin, the middle full of growing energy and hinting at something more mature yet wild like Jungkook, and the end was crazy, bouncy, and fast, identical to Hoseok. They would dance their respective parts in their respective styles, each being the star of their minute or two with the others acting as background dancers or assistants if a particularly complex move was to be hit.
The competition was months away (plenty of time to successfully coordinate this song), but they weren't just to dance a group piece, and were required to prepare separate parts as well. Hoseok had also notified them that they would have to conjure nine pieces total to split into three solo songs each; one for the starting round, one for the second round if they passed, and one for the third if they passed that.
Which, totaled up, basically meant working their asses off.
"I'm thinking that Kookie should do a half turn while he's in a handstand." Hoseok said, squinting as he tried to picture it in his mind. "Then do a popping combination directly after, because that's right when the bass starts to build and become more intense."
"But I twist before that, so I'd have to jump into the handstand and twist again." Jungkook crouched down to slowly go through the motions of the move he was supposed to perform beforehand. The gears in his head turned, trying to see how he would be able to move his hands and arms to the next position swiftly enough. "That's a full 360, hyung."
"I know." The oldest affirmed. "It's a really difficult combination, too...I think you can do it, though. That would make the highlight of your part."
"The highlight has to be as the bass drops." The brunette argued, but got into place anyway.
Music blaring in his ears and two sets of eyes trained on him, Jungkook danced his sequence leading up to the new part without any major hitches (he maybe almost twisted his ankle-nobody had to know that, though). When the time came to try the new combination, he twisted too slowly, noticed his mistake halfway through the handstand, and had to restart. On his second attempt, he was too slow once more, and fell down while trying to correct his error.
"Shit, Jungkookie, are you okay?" Jimin asked, voice full of that same concern as earlier.
The bruises along his legs were throbbing and his hips were screaming at him in pain due to the roughness of last night. "I'm okay. I'll go again."
"Be careful, Kook-ah." Hoseok warned, just as worried as Jimin. "If you really can't do it, we can always think of something else. That's the beauty of prepping months in advance."
"I know." He said with a mixture of irritancy and determination. "One more time, hyung."
This time, Jungkook gets the timing right, going the correct speed. He went to perform the handstand, he knew all at once that his balance was off the moment he was in the air. A twist meant to save his arm from getting snapped had his body slamming into the floor even harder than he had previously at an odder angle. He yelped as fire shot through his side and immediately the others were rushing towards him.
"I'm fine-" He assured them through clenched teeth. Ow ow ow.
Hoseok's fingers latched onto the end of his shirt, near the area his full weight had landed on, preparing to pull it up. Jungkook automatically flinched away. Obviously the eldest noticed this, for he said, "It's alright, I just need to take a look at it, make sure your skin isn't broken or anything." He gently prodded. "Does it feel like you need ice?"
He opened his mouth to decline. Jimin cut him off. "He's going to say no. I'm getting ice."
Carefully, Hoseok lifted up the material. The brunette closed his eyes as he did so, not afraid that he would see the bruises since he had covered them the night before. Everything was going to be fine, he'd press the ice to his side for a few minutes, get up, and continue practicing. No big deal. Everyone always fretted far too much.
The sound of something falling and hitting the ground made Jungkook open his eyes in confusion. Jimin stood over him, gaze stony and...hurt? What?
"Jiminie hyung, what's-"
"Your side." The mochi pointed at where his shirt was lifted up. "Your side."
At first, the maknae didn't know what he was talking about, and looked to Hoseok. The oldest's mouth was downturned uncharacteristically. Jungkook remained puzzled until he glanced at the stinging area.
His heart stopped.
Purple and blue marks in the shape of fingers stood out in stark contrast to his tan skin. Below them, trailing in a path to his pelvic bone (which was partially visible since he was wearing loose sweatpants) were bruises similar in color but circular instead of straight. Ever-present yellow that meant bruises nearly healed fluttered outwards from the spot. It was almost pretty to look at, in a horrible shocking make-your-blood-turn-to-ice kind of way. He'd admire them if he didn't hate them so much.
They should not be visible.
He'd danced around so much that the concealer had come off on his (now stained with makeup) shirt and unveiled his marks.
Nobody in the room moved or uttered a single word for a solid thirty seconds. Jungkook had ceased breathing as his mind slowly pitched into a blank panic and remained still, eyes flitting between his two friends an uncountable amount of times.
"Jungkook." Hoseok's voice had lost it's sunniness, traded it for the cold moon. "A person can't get marks like this just from falling down."
He didn't know what to reply with. He said nothing.
Jimin breathed in shakily. The wounded look surfacing entirely. "You...you have a...and you...you didn't tell me?"
The brunette understood immediately, head snapping up so fast it nearly gave him whiplash. "No, hyung, I-"
"When I first found out about Yoongi I went to you." Jimin continued, eyes shining, pain evident in his voice. Hoseok had fallen silent to listen to the exchange. "You were the first fucking person I trusted to share that information with and you tell me nothing once you find out you have a...that you have a..." He ran a hand through his fringe, turned away, turned back. "What the hell, Jungkook? For how long? How long have you been hiding this for?"
Jungkook was reluctant to answer. "A year."
"A year?" The silver-haired man sputtered back in a mixture of disbelief and anger. "Your life has been irrevocably changed for a year and you never told me? A year, Jungkook, a year!?"
"I can explain-"
"That's great, that's really great that you want to talk about it now instead of three hundred and sixty five days ago-"
"I wanted to tell you-"
"Then why didn't you? I was here, I've been here the whole time you've been keeping it a secret! I didn't leave to another country, I didn't disappear off the face of the earth, I took off work to take care of you for three days while you were sick with that stomach bug! I've been right here!" The shorter of the two fumed. His cheeks were flushed and his pupils burned with fire. It was a very strange sight to behold, because Jimin rarely got so upset, and Jungkook could count on one hand the amount of times the mochi had gotten this upset with him. Jimin paced for a moment, before adding in a hurt tone, "Is it because you don't trust me? Even after all these years...you don't trust me?"
Something inside of Jungkook broke. "Jimin, no, I trust you, stop saying that shit-"
"If you trusted me you would've told me and come to me and I could've helped you. You know that...that I get marked too." Jimin balled his hands into fists. "You promised...three years ago you promised me..." With sudden passion, he shrieked, "Why, why, why didn't you tell me, why!?"
"BECAUSE!" Jungkook yelled, sitting upwards with all of the force his aching side would allow. "I DIDN'T TELL YOU BECAUSE HE'S NOT MY SOULMATE!"
Everyone froze again.
"H-He's...not?" Jimin breathed, clearly shaken and confused.
Looking down, he said in a very quiet voice, "No. He's not."
"Then how..." The mochi trailed off. His eyes were glued to the molted area of Jungkook's side, no doubt trying to think up where on earth such marks could be obtained otherwise.
There's a way, Jiminie. There's another way.
Both Hoseok and Jimin seemed to realize something at the same time. The grip on Jungkook's arm tightened. Jimin sucked in an audible breath.
"Kookie..." Hoseok let out. He shook the younger a little. "Kookie, please tell me it's not-"
"Oh my god." Jimin, who was already emotional due to the argument, sounded as though he was on the verge of tears. Not far behind you. "Jungkook..."
"You weren't supposed to find out like this." Jungkook ground out through his rapidly closing throat. Wetness burned hot at the back of his eyes. He watched through blurry vision as they fell onto the wooden dance floor. "Nobody was supposed to find out."
Something warm and solid collapsed into his front. The smell of sugar and the faint scent of Yoongi's cologne. Jimin. "Kook-ah, sweetheart, oh my god..."
It was funny to him how Jimin would be screaming his ass off, swearing up a storm one second, and the next second he was calling the maknae sweetheart. He gurgled out a broken laugh. That was Park Jimin for ya.
"It's Yejun, isn't it?" Hoseok had come and gone, somehow, had gathered tissues and a bottle of water. Jungkook vaguely registered the older asking Jimin to fetch a cloth. A warm hand ran up and down his spine. "He hits you, Kookie, yeah?" When there came no answer, only pathetic sniffles, he coaxed gently, "Tell hyung what's happening, honey, please. Is Yejun hitting you?"
The brunette hesitated. He was so used to it being a secret that divulging such a truth was odd, the affirmation feeling weird on his tongue. He could shrug them off. He could wipe these tears from his eyes and get up and ask for them to let it go. Jungkook would figure it out on his own. He couldn't drag Jimin and Hoseok, his two closest friends, into the fucking mess that was his relationship. He couldn't do that, they already had so much on their plates, prepping and dancing and working and dealing with their own boyfriends. He couldn't.
He couldn't go back to that prison cell of a house and get fucked so hard he bled.
Jungkook couldn't do that again, not like so many nights before.
"Y-Yes." He forced out. Jungkook couldn't do it again.
Jimin returned with the cloth in hand. He gave it to Hoseok, who wet it with water from the bottle and pressed it to the back of Jungkook's neck. The coolness made him shiver since it contrasted so sharply with the heat building around his head. The mochi's question was asked lowly. "That bastard is hitting Jungkookie?"
Jungkook looked up at him. He nodded.
Jimin held his gaze right up until the very moment he bent over and started to sob.
Two sets of arms enveloped him in an embrace. They rocked him back and forth, whispering reassurances, dabbing his neck with the cloth. Once he'd said the first word, it all wanted to spill out of him and the words rushed and blurred together. "H-He hits me all the time, every day, every d-day of every week, hyung, I have to g-go to the m-m-makeup store so I can cover them up b-but they come back so fast and I never buy en-enough, it h-hurts so bad all the t-t-time and they're everywhere and I hate them-"
"Shh, Jungkookie, it's okay, it's all okay now-" Hoseok murmured, continuing to rub his back while he choked and sputtered.
"I h-hate them, hyung, I hate them-"
"I know, honey, I know."
"He w-was so nice at the start and th-then one day he just..." Jungkook felt a tissue being pushed into his trembling hands. Bringing it to his snot-covered nose, he loudly blew. "I d-don't know what happened. It just all went so bad..."
Jimin leaned to the side and nudged their foreheads together. The maknae cried harder. "Is that why you asked if you could stay with me earlier? Because you want to get away?"
"Yes, h-hyung." Jungkook tried to wipe his eyes with the ruined tissue, but Hoseok took it out of his hands and gave him a new one. "He'll kill me if I l-leave though, he really will kill me. He's that b-bad, because we're so h-happy together, why would I want to l-leave?"
There was quiet while the brunette attempted to calm himself down. He went through five more tissues, three gulps of water, and more than a dozen soft touches accompanied by words just as soft before he was able to take in a breath properly. His head ached, but the weight on his chest was a million times lighter. He wasn't alone in knowing anymore. It felt good.
"Now." Hoseok began when Jungkook could properly pay him attention. "We're going to get into the whole why you kept this to yourself for god knows how long thing later-"
"A year." He quietly supplied.
"-why you kept this to yourself for a year thing later." The oldest remedied, his tone careful yet firm. "But right now we need to think of a plan because I don't want you within one hundred miles of that man."
"Jungkookie can stay with Yoongi hyung and I tonight." Jimin said immediately. "He can use the spare room today and for the next few days until we can figure out something more permanent."
"Yejun will ask why I'm staying with you for so long. He'll get suspicious."
"We'll tell him...um...fuck." The mochi's eyebrows furrowed. "Hoseok hyung, any ideas?"
The eldest chewed his lip for a moment. Suddenly, his eyes lit up, and he snapped his fingers. If he had the energy, Jungkook would've snorted at the cutesy-ness of the gesture. "I've got it! We'll just tell him we're going through a rough patch in the choreography and that it's easier if Jungkookie just stays with you while we're working through it." When the younger two gave him skeptical looks, he continued emphatically, "It makes sense: Jimin lives closer to the studio, plus, this isn't the first time we've done this. Remember eight months ago, when we were performing in front of one of the best dancers in Puerto Rico? We had to work nonstop then. We're working nonstop now." He grinned slyly. "Even though we're really not. But Yejun doesn't need to know that."
They all contemplated.
"It's not perfect..." Jimin admitted. His next words were grudging. "But it'll work, at least temporarily. Think that you can grab all of your stuff without looking suspicious, sweetheart?"
Jungkook thought to the very few amount of personal items he had (he'd only been a few months out of college when he started dating Yejun; he hadn't owned very many things then, and never really bought anything new for the fear that if he brought it with him somewhere, the memories would follow). "If I can manage to cram it all into two duffle bags...yeah, I think I can do it."
"Great!" Hoseok smiled bright, a spark lighting in his eyes. "Time to get you out of there, Jungkook-ah. Mission Free Jungkook From His Bastard Partner, start!"
Praise whatever deity was looking down on him that Yejun wasn't home. It was only noon, so his boyfriend's absence made sense (he usually got off of work at three on weekdays, eight on weekends), but Jungkook was exceedingly thankful anyway. He didn't want to linger there any longer than required, and if Yejun was home, there was no doubt that he probably wouldn't be leaving the apartment until late into the afternoon. Whether those hours would be full of trying to avoid tricky questions or the rough sex Jungkook had grown accustomed to was a toss up.
yoongi agreed to drive u from ur house to ours :)
he said he'll pick u up in 30 min, is that enough time?
The brunette, whom had been in the middle of debating over if he should take his Iron Man hoodie with him or throw it out because he'd had it since forever and it barely fit any more, glanced over at his buzzing phone. Swiping it open, he read the messages and quickly replied.
yeah thats enough time. if he hasn't left yet plz tell him thank you for me
A second passed (yes, unfortunately, he was going to have to get rid of it. Shame) before his phone dinged again.
ill tell him, no prob
i love you and ur gonna get through this ok? all of us will be here every step of the way 3 3
I love you too
With a small smile, Jungkook jammed his phone in his back pocket and continued packing. He drifted into their shared bathroom and took his concealer, his hairbrush, and his secret collection of colored contacts he had hidden away in the back of a drawer. He didn't take his shampoo or toothbrush or anything of the sort: if he did, that would make his departure more obvious. He was sure Yoongi and Jimin would replace many things, but the rest he'd have to buy on his own.
I guess I need to start taking on extra hours so I can help with the bills and the food. He mused, stashing the items in one of his two bags. His favorite clothes soon joined them (not all, because again, his leaving was to be a secret), along with the few books on music theory he owned, one pair of boots, his headphones, and several other small personal things. Each time he entered a different room, a flood of emotions greeted him, most of them unpleasant. He reminded himself that this was the last time he'd ever have to walk by these walls. No more getting shoved into the edge of the kitchen counter, no more being sent to sleep on the floor if his performance wasn't satisfactory, no more leaning against the wall of the shower and watching the water run red-
Jungkook squeezed his eyes shut. Stop thinking about it. It's over. I'm going to get out of here.
Within moments the final item was shoved inside his baggage, the zipper drug across its track until it found its end. He released a breath he hadn't known he was holding. That was it. That was everything.
He grasped their handles in his hands and hurried out of the room. Jungkook didn't want to stay any longer than he needed to. As he made his way to the door, he quickly surveyed everything, just to make sure he hadn't missed something. He concluded he hadn't. Good.
Okay. Phew. He was leaving now. He was going. Jungkook clasped the handle of the front door. A thrill ran through him. He would never come back here again. Never ever. He was free. Goodbye apartment, goodbye bruises, and most of all, sayonara hope-to-never-cross-paths-again wish-your-next-lover-the-best-because-they'll-need-it goodbye-
The door handle began to turn. The brunette's confusion quickly morphed into panic when he realized that no, it wasn't him turning it out of excitement and he just wasn't paying attention or whatever, it meant someone else was on the other side. Jungkook frantically looked for a place to throw the bags where they wouldn't look suspicious. The couch? The kitchen counter? The floor? Fuck, fuck, he was running out of time!
Shit. So close.
"Yejun!' Jungkook grinned brightly. It set a record for his most fake smile ever. He subtly moved his bags behind his legs, grinning harder. Trying to make it seem as though he wasn't utterly crushed, he continued, "You're home early. Did something happen at work?"
"Yes..." The blonde tossed his keys into the bowl on the side table. Yejun's eyebrows pulled together as he looked his boyfriend up and down. "The other model that was supposed to be there cancelled. Something about his partner having an emergency." He squinted. Jungkook awkwardly shuffled to keep the bags out of his view. "Where are you going?"
Remember the plan. "To sleep over at Jimin hyung's house."
"Why?" Yejun moved a bit closer. Everything in the younger man was screaming for him to just run past the older man and get the hell out of there, but he held his ground. "You haven't mentioned this. You know that you need to ask permission before you can go."
"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing." Jungkook noticed that his smile was faltering and rearranged his features to appear less downtrodden. "Hoseok hyung announced today in practice that we're going to need to spend every hour we can in the dance studio prepping for a smaller concert that's at the end of this week. It's easier for me to go over there since-"
"I said no." Yejun's eyes were cold. He crossed his arms in front of his chest, his gorgeous face set in an unpleasant expression. "You know that I don't do spur-of-the-moment things. You're not going to Jimin ssi's house. You'll stay here with me for the rest of the afternoon, and when I'm done with you for the night you can call him and cancel."
Jungkook stood in silence as his partner made a move to pass him to put his jacket and bag away. Usually, the brunette would let that be that, slink from the scene with his tail between his legs. He feared more bruises, feared that with defiance came the blossom of purple on his skin. It almost always did. He numbly began to set his bags on the ground, mind hazy but set on unpacking, calling Jimin, and cancelling this whole silly thing. Of course. He'd forgotten to ask for permission. That was protocol. He'd forgotten to ask for...
His grip on the handles of his bags tightened.
I am twenty three years old.
I don't need to ask permission.
"I'm going anyway."
The words had exited his lips before he could register what he was actually saying. Jungkook stared into Yejun's shocked face, surprised a bit at himself but not wanting to take the words back. They lingered in the air. Innocent things that provoked such danger.
"What did you just say?" The blonde asked. His tone was one that threateningly invited him to change what he'd announced. Hell, if he apologized and was really good in bed tonight he probably wouldn't be hurt that badly-
"I said I'm going anyway." Jungkook uttered instead of the I'm sorry that had meant to come out. "I already told Jimin hyung I'd be there and I don't want to let him down."
A beat passed.
Two beats passed.
Jungkook tensed, bracing his body for the hit that was no doubt about to greet his abdomen. When another two beats of nothing passed by he opened his eyes a bit more (he didn't remember shutting them) and saw that Yejun nodding sagely.
"You're right, Jungkook-ah." Yejun said. "You should go if you've already informed him you'd go. It would be very rude to cancel on him now." He smiled a small smile. "I'm sure it's his doing that brought on this little bit of tantrum-throwing, but that's alright. This can be fixed."
Throughout the entire speech, the brunette had begun to relax. He was off the hook! Holy shit, he was actually being let off the hook for his sass and he was going to make it to Jimin's house unscathed! How exce-
A weird blunt sound rang through the apartment. Jungkook noted that it sounded vaguely familiar, and would've liked to have known where it came from, but he was too busy grabbing his face and stumbling backwards and tripping over his bags to pay too much attention to that particular mystery. He pulled his hand away to see a bit of blood smeared on his palm. Yejun had hit him in the face.
Another blunt sound, though this time it was in an area the younger man was well acquainted with. Jungkook gasped an involuntary breath. Pain bloomed from the left side of his ribs, and another hit to his stomach made him curl up and groan. He could make out the shiny black of Yejun's shoe when his boyfriend bent down to his level.
"You're not going anywhere." He hissed, grabbing a fistful of brown locks and yanking them upwards so that Jungkook had no choice but to look in his face. "Not now, not ever, especially without my permission. I don't know what the hell you thought you were doing, talking back, and but I do know that that's never going to happen again." He twisted his hair, making the brunette grimace. "You're not going to be seeing Jimin ssi for a while. I can't believe he advocated this behavior." He twisted his hair around again. "And I didn't get my welcome home kiss. Pathetic. You can't even follow simple instructions." Yejun sneered once and let go of the dry brown strands. Jungkook's head hit the floor with a dull thud. "Try these, if they're not too hard to understand: get up, clean up, and then meet me in the bedroom. Your performance has been awful lately. Time for you to turn that around before I make this-" He aimed one last kick at the younger man's stomach, causing him to heave. "-even worse. Hurry up."
Nausea was crawling about his body. Blood rushed to his cheeks and to his swelling eye, the feeing hot and dizzying. Jungkook subconsciously lurched from his tight position and swallowed back bit of bile. Tears welled as a result of his gagging. No. No puking. He wasn't going to puke. He had to get up and clean up and go to bed. That's what he'd been told, right? And Jungkook was good, he tried so hard to be good all the time and do what he was told but he was just so damn tired of the purple on his skin, and he was tired of the blue and the red and the yellow there, too. How he had to cover them up. How they stayed for days. He was tired of them.
However...his day of escape was not to be today.
So close... Jungkook sucked in more air when he tried to sit up. His side was smarting something awful. So damn close.
Suddenly, he heard scuffling come from a few feet away. Hmm? Was that Yejun? Oh God, was he not finished yet? Jungkook flinched back. He was hit with nothing save voices.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Your worst fucking nightmare."
Something dropped like a bag of wet sand to the floor.
Turning around as fast as he could while pressing a palm to his eye, Jungkook saw a dark figure coming towards him, with something that looked like a knife in their hand. Weakly he attempted to scramble away. The hand not holding knife reached for him, no doubt prepared to stab him or maul him or maim him or-
Panic shot through Jungkook.
Beginning to scramble faster now, he let out, "Get away from me, get away-!" He aimed a kick at the figure's knee.
"Ow, shit! Jungkook, it's alright!" What? How did the figure know his name? Confused, the young man glanced into the face of his supposed attacker. "It's me, you brat! It's Yoongi!"
The haze of adrenaline and pain subsided a bit. With his good pupil, he squinted up into a face that slowly became more familiar. All at once, he stopped fighting.
"Hyung." He breathed, relieved beyond measure. "Why...how are you here?"
Min Yoongi stood above him, face as pale as the moon, hair as dark as the night. His normally coldly attractive face was pulled back into a irritated grimace, probably due to the ache in his knee he was currently massaging. He was dressed in his usual lazy attire of all black, and gripped within his right hand was a small pan that Jungkook realized was usually kept in the kitchen. His next words dripped sarcasm. "Well, I was just driving around the neighborhood because I happen to like the way the daisies smell on this side of town, and I thought to myself, gee, I wonder if Jungkook wants to smell flowers too, so I hiked my ass up the five flights of stairs-"
"Not my fault the elevator is broken." The brunette mumbled.
"-and happened to witness your piece of shit boyfriend beating the fucking shit out of you." The older man finished, his annoyed look persisting. His tone softened a bit once he'd gazed at the younger man for a moment. "Are you okay, kid?"
No. "Yeah." Jungkook took Yoongi's offered hand and yanked himself up, stumbling only a little bit. "How did you get in the apartment?"
"Snuck in when I noticed the door was left open." Now that he was standing upright, the height difference between the two of them was amusingly obvious; the glint in the older man's pupils was threatening enough to more than make up for his short stature. "Made my way to the kitchen and nabbed this thing to use." He twirled the pan and gave a smirk. "Cracked that motherfucker across the side of his head."
Jungkook groaned, leaning around Yoongi to see Yejun down the hall, motionless. "Tell me he's not dead."
"Probably not." The black-haired man threw the pan over his shoulder carelessly. It made a clang noise when it hit the floor. He picked up one of the duffle bags from where the younger man had dropped them a few minutes ago. Jungkook reached down to take the other one. "Come on, I parked the car right outside and left it running. Let's get out of here."
It wasn't until he was seated in the passenger seat of Yoongi's middle-aged chevy with his face throbbing and his life's possessions piled on his feet and listening to the hip hop that played from the radio that Jeon Jungkook realized that he most likely wouldn't see Yejun ever again.
The fact made a feeling rise in him that he couldn't put a name to. It warmed him from his head to his toes and caused his heart to skip a beat as he watched the sharp lines of the apartment fade into the distance.
He had the inkling that it was something like joy.
"-right there against your eye, thanks, sweetheart." Jimin instructed, handing him a frozen bag of peas. Jungkook obligingly took it and held it to the throbbing side of his face. Across the room from him, Yoongi was casually leaning against the counter, trying to make it seem like he wasn't sneaking glances at Jimin. "I have some mild pain meds for your stomach. You want to take them with coffee or water?"
"Hyung, really, I can barely feel it-"
"Shut up, Jungkook. Coffee or water?"
"Yoongi, can you please go get them?" The mochi adjusted the maknae's hand so that it was holding the peas better. He glanced behind him; from Jungkook's limited vision, he could only half see the no doubt pleading look he was sending his soulmate.
If anybody else had asked him to do it, Yoongi would've told them to fuck off, but since it was Jimin asking he grudgingly peeled himself from his spot and traipsed to the hall. The man with platinum hair fretted about him some more, jostling the pillows surrounding him, adjusting the blanket that was spread out on top of him. When he ran out of things to do, Jimin resorted to tracing the frayed hole in the side of the fabric. Looking down at it, he remarked, "We're probably going to have to buy a new one soon. This thing's falling apart."
Jimin and Yoongi weren't exactly poor: the latter had a job as a producer at the studio he ran a few miles away, and the former took up any dancing job he possibly could (when he wasn't competing with Jungkook and Hoseok, of course). Still, Jungkook knew that with the amount of money his presence begged added to his own low wage job at the coffee shop, the three of them weren't exactly going to be swimming in money. He held his tongue, instead humming noncommittally in response to the comment.
Yoongi came back a minute later with the pills in hand. He gave them to Jungkook, whom took them with the cheesiest smile he could muster. After Jimin had gotten up to get the water, he coaxed his voice into a higher pitch and asked teasingly, "Oh, hyung, couldn't you go make me a sandwich? Fluff my pillow? Tickle my toes-"
"Yah!" The shorter of the two made a shoving motion at him. Jungkook neatly dodged, laughing into the bag of peas.
"C'mon, wouldn't you do anything for me if I asked?" He made kissing noises.
"You brat." Yoongi hissed menacingly. The tips of his ears were bright red.
Jungkook just laughed harder. His stomach ached like all of hell in response.
Somewhere in the midst of their tussling, Jimin came back into the room. "I swear to God, you two, if blood or vomit gets on the carpet I am not going to be the one cleaning it up."
They stopped. The brunette gulped down the medicine (which tasted gross, just saying) and settled back against the pillows.
Jimin went to go sit by Yoongi. The two stayed a reasonable distance away from each other. "I would tell you to get some rest-" Jimin started. Jungkook raised an eyebrow. "-but Yoongi wants to know what's going on. I couldn't really explain much to him before he left to pick you up. And..." His small shoulders lifted and fell. "I want to know why you hid this for so long, sweetheart."
Nothing happened for a moment. Jungkook looked down at the floor, breathed in, breathed out. They can know. It's okay. He's not going to hurt me anymore. "Yejun's not...you guys won't tell anyone what I tell you?"
Dual reassurances met his question, one a bit more enthusiastic than the other.
So he told them.
He told them about when he first met Yejun, how he was so handsome, and so nice. He visited the coffee shop Jungkook worked at and slipped him his number on a note that read, you're cute. call me? ;). He told them how Yejun came over one night to watch a movie, how they ended up having sex on the couch. He told them how when they touched, he didn't mark Yejun and Yejun didn't mark him, so he knew that they weren't soulmates, but Jungkook didn't care. He told them how Yejun convinced him to move in with him at his much nicer apartment on the high class side of town. He told them about the first time Yejun hit him. He told them how Yejun kept hitting him. He told them how he didn't cover up the bruises at the start, not until people saw them and started assuming that he had a soulmate, that Yejun was his soulmate. He told them how the hitting got worse. He told them how he suddenly didn't want everyone to think Yejun was his soulmate, how he ended up at the makeup store, testing out concealers to see which one matched his skin tone. He told them how his hips and thighs ached on days he was too good. He told them how the water ran red on days he wasn't good enough. He told them how Yejun threatened to hurt him if he told anyone. He told them that he hid it because he was scared, scared of Yejun and scared nobody would believe him. He told them why he stopped going out, why he only went to work or dance practice and no where else. He told them he got tired of the purple and he didn't want to see it on his skin any more. He told them he didn't know how to escape.
He told them how sometimes, at night, when everything hurt too much, he cried and cried and wondered if he would ever find his real soulmate.
He told them how he wondered if his soulmate would love him, even if he was the one who gave them bruises.
And at the end of his story, Jungkook shook while the peas remained pressed to his swelling eye, and he was pulled into a hug given by Jimin. Once Jimin finished squeezing him and moved away, Yoongi held him tight for a while. And they got up and told Jungkook that he was welcome to stay there as long as he liked, and that it was no problem at all, and even though Jungkook didn't believe that it wasn't a problem he nodded is head and laid down when his hyungs told him to get some rest.
He was awake a quarter of an hour later when Jimin stopped Yoongi in the hall.
Jimin stepped closer, shortening the amount of space they purposefully kept between them. Yoongi seemed to automatically step back. It continued until the older man was backed against the wall, fingers trying to get a grip on the plaster.
"I love you." Jimin whispered. Jungkook heard Yoongi's breath hitch.
The mochi reached for his soulmate's wrist, which was covered by the long sleeved jacket he wore. Bringing his uncovered hand to his cheek, he added, "Even if you mark me."
Jimin nuzzled into Yoongi's palm, appeared to breathe him in, and pressed a kiss into his skin. Yoongi's whole body was trembling as he hesitantly stroked his soulmate's temple, looking as though it was something he'd done a thousand times yet never done before.
When they pulled away, the entire right side of Jimin's face was purple.
Jungkook closed his eyes.
In the morning, around six if he had to guess, Jungkook woke. Out of habit, he glanced to his left to see whether or not Yejun was awake too, remembering at the last second that he wasn't still in the apartment. Yejun may or may not be awake; it didn't matter anymore. He wouldn't be hit if he stayed in bed (or at least, on the couch) for a little while longer.
The smell of something savory was coming from the kitchen.
Food or sleep?
His stomach growled.
Rising, he wrapped the blanket around his shoulders and followed the smell. He found Jimin bent over the stove, back to him, cooking what seemed to be doenjang soup. His hyung was quietly singing a song as he stirred the pot, bopping his head to the beat Jungkook couldn't hear. He turned around in the middle of a verse, face lighting up once he noticed the brunette standing there.
Jungkook pretended he didn't notice the handprint-shaped, maroon-colored bruise that stretched from the mochi's temple to the upper part of his jaw.
"Morning, Kookie." Jimin smiled. "Do you have time to eat before you leave for work?"
"Yes, hyung. My shift doesn't start until eight." He replied, ambling over to the small circular dining table and plopping in a seat. "Want me to sneak a few donuts for you?"
"I like glazed." The platinum-haired man turned back to the food. Jungkook chuckled.
Since they'd been friends for ages, making conversation wasn't difficult. Divulging your deepest secret? No problem. Chatting about meaningless shit that sounded like nonsensical babble to every other human being on the planet? Easier than easy. During while Jimin was describing the awful haircut of the person standing in front of him at a store he'd visited a week ago, Yoongi entered the kitchen, looking closer to a disheveled cat than Jungkook had even known was possible.
Yoongi paused, staring at Jimin's face.
"Good morning, hyung." The mochi greeted softly with a smile that could only be described as caring.
The older man stared a bit longer, before bowing his head and shuffling towards the coffee maker. His "Good morning, gorgeous." was barely audible.
They all sat down to eat five minutes later. Jungkook noticed that Yoongi didn't look at Jimin the entire meal.
Due to another habit (because around this time at the apartment he'd usually have to excuse himself from the table to go apply concealer to his neck), the brunette ate the steaming food quickly. He thanked his friend for cooking, and went to do the dishes. The sound of the water against the bowls and silverware almost drowned out the whispers that rose up in his absence.
"Is it because you feel bad?"
"Yes. I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry, Yoongi. It doesn't hurt. I'm alright."
Jungkook knew Jimin was lying (he of all people would know just how painful fresh bruises were), and Yoongi must've known he was lying too; however, every word of that lie was said out of love.
And that, he thought, made the sting of the horrible purple bruises hurt just a little bit less.