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Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (1)

 

Yoongi wakes up at ass-o'clock in the morning to the horrendous sound of his neighbors having copious, disgusting sex on the other side of the wall.

 

To be more precise, it's 2:04 AM, but Yoongi wants to die all the same.

 

“What the fuck,” he says, scrambling for his earbuds because hell no. He likes his neighbors, he really does; they're a nice couple and they brought him rice cakes when he moved in. Regardless, this is the last thing he wants to hear.

 

He turns on his soft classical playlist just loudly enough to block out the noise, curls up underneath his blankets, sticks a pillow over his head, and falls promptly back asleep.

 

At nine o'clock he wakes up again to the obnoxious blare of his alarm, and he almost throws his phone across the room. Why would he get up this early?

 

Oh, right. Today is September 1st. It's the day of the Seoul Film Awards and he has to meet with his agent Taehyung in an hour to brief for the press.

 

Yoongi rolls over, tries to convince himself that he can get ready in five minutes, then remembers that he hasn't showered in two days.

 

Fuck. He really has to get up.

 

He drags himself into the bathroom attached to his room and showers, his eyes still half-closed as he washes his hair. He drops the soap three times, but finally he manages to rub every part of himself with the loofah and rinse most of the shampoo out of his hair and he might even have remembered to use conditioner?

 

Back in his room, he pulls on a pair of boxers and jeans and a passable t-shirt, then returns to the bathroom to shave.

 

When he feels decent enough to be seen in public, he sticks his phone into his pocket, grabs a belt from his drawer, threads it through the loops of his jeans, and heads for his kitchen to scrounge for something acceptable to eat for breakfast. The homey smell of coffee hits him the second he steps out of his room—strange, but not unwelcome.

 

Yoongi reaches the kitchen and nearly drops his belt because what the fuck, there's someone in his apartment.

 

“Oh, you're up?” Jeongguk says, blinking innocently. He's holding a large trash bag in his right hand. “Good morning, hyung. Wait. I mean. Yoongi-ssi?” His smile dissolves into an awkward grimace.

 

Jeon Jeongguk is Yoongi's part-time employee. He's a family friend of Seokjin's, a college student who lives nearby with his parents, and he does chores for Yoongi several mornings a week. It’s partly because Yoongi travels so much, but also partly because Yoongi is a disaster (Seokjin's words, not his). Yoongi rarely sees him, though, because when he’s actually at home, he almost never gets up before noon. Perks of being self-employed and all that.

 

“Hyung is fine,” he mutters, because Jeongguk really isn't that much younger than he is and Yoongi-ssi makes him feel old.

 

This is too much for nine in the morning. He wants to go back to bed.

 

Recovering from his shock, he notices that the coffee machine is on and there's steaming hot liquid dripping down into the pot. He rarely uses it; making coffee in the morning generally loses out to stopping by a local coffee shop on his way to his various commitments.

 

“I know you've been traveling,” Jeongguk says shyly. “I thought maybe you might want coffee when you got up.”

 

That's surprisingly thoughtful. Wow. “Thanks.” Unfortunately, Yoongi's got no time to gawk at Jeongguk. He still has a meeting to leave for in fifteen minutes and he needs coffee fast. He tugs a mug out from the cupboard and taps his fingers against the counter, impatient for it to finish brewing. After a moment he pulls out a box of cereal and a bowl, too.

 

“Hyung?” Jeongguk says, putting the trash bin back underneath the sink.

 

Yoongi doesn't turn around from where he's pouring cereal. If his mother knew he was eating just that for breakfast, she'd have a fit (cereal is a snack food, Yoongi! ). Good thing Yoongi is an adult and can make his own terrible decisions.

 

“Uh… are you busy today?”

 

“Way too fucking busy,” Yoongi snorts. He gives the cereal box an aggressive shake and accidentally spills corn flakes all over the counter. Damn.

 

Jeongguk takes a breath like he's about to say something else but he's cut off by the ding of an incoming text on Yoongi's phone.

 

 

 

From: Taehyung Received: 9:33AM

 

Hey Yoongi, sorry to be so last minute but something important came up and I can't make it. You'll be fine tonight don't worry about it

 

 

 

“Fucking hell,” Yoongi curses, setting the cereal box down with a resounding thump. He got up for nothing? He is showered and dressed at nine-thirty on a Saturday morning for no goddamn reason?

 

He's barely been awake for half an hour and it's already been a horrible day.

 

There's enough coffee in the pot for a whole mug now, and he's far too desperate to worry about milk or sugar, so Yoongi yanks it out of the machine, pours it into his cup, and takes a huge gulp.

 

FUCk it's fucking hot--

 

“Are you okay?” Jeongguk is looking at him again, so Yoongi tries his best to pretend he didn't just choke on boiling coffee.

 

“I'm fine,” he says. He leans back against the counter as casually as he can until Jeongguk goes back to whatever it is he's doing. His tongue aches in his mouth: definitely burnt.

 

What to do now? He's already wearing proper pants, so going back to bed isn't an option. He ignores the corn flakes on the counter and fetches milk from the fridge. He'll finish his cereal and worry about what to do with himself later.

 

Not bothering to sit down and eat, Yoongi takes a bite of cereal and watches Jeongguk roll up his sleeves and start on the pile of dishes in the sink. He winces slightly—it's sort of embarrassing to watch someone else clean up after him, though to be fair, he does pay him  for it.

 

“Sorry for the disaster,” he tells Jeongguk, staring at the back of his black t-shirt. “Been out of town.”

 

“I know,” Jeongguk replies with a tiny smile. Wait. He'd mentioned that earlier; that was why he'd made coffee. Oops.

 

Set unusually on edge by the presence of someone else in the same room, Yoongi finishes eating fast. He'll get some fresh air, he decides. If he's not going to meet with Taehyung, he should at least get some work done.

 

In his bedroom, he brushes his teeth and grabs his bag with his laptop and notebooks of staff paper. When he passes the mirror on the back of his bedroom door he suddenly realizes that he never buckled his belt—shit. He fixes it quickly.

 

Double checking to make sure nothing else is terribly wrong—his fly isn't hanging open, so he's probably okay—he goes the long way around to the front door so he can avoid the kitchen. It’s worth it to spare himself the awkwardness.

 

It’s still more summer than autumn, and the weather is balmy on his walk to the neighborhood coffee shop. He buys an americano before setting up his laptop at a table in the corner. One perk of being up so early: he has his choice of seats.

 

Yoongi plugs in his laptop and lets it turn on, sagging into his chair. He's a weird combination of exhausted and refreshed and tense all at the same time.

 

For a living, Yoongi composes film and TV scores. He's damn good at it. Over the past couple years he's had to write for a lot of shit romcoms, which was less than inspiring, but his latest project was perhaps his best. He'd gotten lucky, really—Kim Namjoon is a talented director and Yoongi enjoys working with him. That had made all the difference.

 

Their film is an artsy indie piece, a simple coming-of-age story that takes place in a city near Busan. Even Yoongi thinks that the acting and cinematography were exceptionally well done; he's pleased but not surprised that it has blown up so much.

 

Of course, he thinks that his score was the icing on the cake. Out of all the projects he's done in his career, this is the one that he feels truly shines.

 

To all of their delight, their fim, Dandelion Wishes, has been nominated in several categories at the prestigious Seoul Film Awards, including Best Soundtrack, which means that Yoongi himself is in the running. Hence, he’s quite nervous.

 

Yoongi's computer finally boots up, so he opens his work email. There's a message that's he's been letting sit for four days; now that he has time, he opens it again and reads it through.

 

It's a job offer for an upcoming drama with a high salary. However, Yoongi's read through the script and it's pretty much trash; not even the jokes are funny.

 

He really does not want to take any more jobs like this one, and if he wins the award tonight, he might not have to.

 

Yoongi leaves the email in his inbox and opens his score-writing program. While he was on the plane yesterday he’d jotted down a couple of phrases in his staff paper notebook and he wants to write them up on his laptop. It doesn't take him as long as he wants it to, though; in less than ten minutes he’s finished and he has to figure out something else to do with himself. His mind is frustratingly blank. He clicks around for a while, contemplates changing a harmony, and tries it. It’s a terrible mistake. he changes it back. Another ten minutes pass without him adding a single new note.

 

His attention drifts. Five more minutes find him with minesweeper open on his screen, attempting to beat his own high score. He closes it, tries to work again. Still no ideas. He refreshes his email, opens Facebook to learn that one of his high school friends is having a third child, and quickly closes it because what the fuck he's only 26 . People from his class should not have that many kids yet. Fuck. He feels old.

 

Tearing himself away from that train of thought, he opens minesweeper again and blows through another twenty minutes. He watches a vine compilation, checks his social media, and plays another game.

 

By now he's been here for an hour and a half and accomplished virtually nothing. It's irritating—he's usually good at concentrating, but today he can hardly sit still.

 

Yoongi decides that he's obviously in no state to work, so he throws out his empty plastic cup and slips his things back into his bag. He'll have to find something else to do with himself for the next—he checks his phone—six hours. It's only 11:15, shit.

 

When he returns to his apartment he’s thankful to find that it's empty. The kitchen is squeaky clean, and the cornflakes he left on the counter are gone.

 

Yoongi makes his way to his living room, plopping down on the couch and switching on the TV. It's in the middle of a drama episode, which Yoongi usually wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, but he's got so little will to look for anything else that he finds himself watching it.

 

He finishes the episode—definitely not the best drama he's ever seen—and is reminded of the email waiting in his inbox. He pulls it up on his phone, opens the script, and re-reads the first scene.

 

He shudders. Nope. He isn't writing for this show in a million years, especially not coming off of Dandelion Wishes .

 

Yoongi moves the email into the trash folder seconds before INCOMING CALL: JIN appears on his screen.

 

He hits Accept . “Hey.”

 

“Just 'hey'? What about wow hyung it's been like two weeks since we've spoken I missed you so much?

 

It has been a while, Seokjin is right. “Yeah, whatever,” he says, because there's nothing he enjoys more than getting under his best friend's skin. “You're as busy as I am, don't you have a class to teach or something?”

 

“It's Saturday, you ungrateful bastard.” Yoongi can practically see the exasperated pinch of his brow. “Anyway, I'm calling to check up on you. Tonight's the big night, isn't it? How are you doing?”

 

His nerves strike again when he thinks about it. “I'm excited, I guess.”

 

“If you're nervous, don't be. Everyone and their mother knows that the only feasible winner is you.”

 

“You can't be too sure. There's Bang Yongguk's score.” It sounds laughable even as he says it. True, Yongguk’s soundtrack for The Gangnam Game is the other largest contender, but that movie was a disaster. As a big-name action film it brought in good money, sure, but the movie itself is disappointing and the music is nothing special.

 

“Oh, please, Yoongi, the public would riot if they chose that over Dandelion Wishes .”

 

Privately he agrees, yet saying it feels like a jinx. “We'll see.”

 

“Seriously, you'll be fine. You've written your speeches, right?”

 

Yoongi grunts an affirmation. He read and re-read them on the plane yesterday so many times that they're practically burned onto the back of his eyelids.

 

“Then you've got nothing to worry about. Imagine! In less than a day I'll be the best friend of an award-winning composer. I know what I'm talking about.”

 

It isn't as though Seokjin's opinion is uneducated; he may not be a musician but he's certainly well-steeped in the business as a former actor and a current lecturer at one of Seoul's top theater conservatories. Yoongi would die before he'd admit it, but hearing the encouragement from Seokjin's mouth is comforting.

 

“Well, thanks.”

 

Seokjin shuffles on the other end of the line. “Okay, I suppose I'll leave you to whatever it is you're doing and wish you luck for tonight. You remember how to tie a tie, right?”

 

“Oh, fuck off,” Yoongi snorts. “Bye, hyung.”

 

When he hangs up, the room feels too large and empty. The blank screen of his television stares back at him, accusing.

 

He should feel excited, really; he's never had an opportunity like this before, but instead he just feels bored and stressed. It is partly fear that he won't win the award that he wants so much, but there's more to it than that. Would it even matter if he won? Sure, he'd get to celebrate with Namjoon and Seokjin might be proud of him and his parents would call to congratulate him. If he wins the award he might get to do more of the kind of work he loves and that's definitely good and yet--

 

Even all of that seems dull to Yoongi at the moment. He's not sure why. What does he even want? To impress someone? To have a person to share that moment with?

 

Ridiculous. He chalks it up to over-thinking and pulls himself off of the couch.

 

The clock next to the TV reads 12:47 PM, meaning that he has about four hours left until he has to leave.

 

So long . He plops back down and turns on the television again. Whatever is on right now has to be better than overthinking everything.

 

 


 

 

Yoongi leaves his apartment at exactly 5:15. He drives to Namjoon's house, where he meets the director and their star actor, Jung Hoseok. They'll depart for the awards ceremony together.

 

Namjoon claps him on the back when he arrives. “How does it feel? We've finally made it!”

 

“Haven't made it yet,” he mutters, his nerves conglomerating into a crotchety mess.

 

Hoseok laughs. He's dressed in a dark green suit with his red hair pushed up off his forehead, somehow he managing to look fashion-forward and not like a Christmas tree. Beautiful humans have that superpower, Yoongi muses.

 

“Relax, hyung,” Hoseok tells Yoongi. “This is our first red-carpet appearance!”

 

Namjoon has gone the whole nine yards and rented a limousine for them, so they at least look the part as they pull up to the venue. Yoongi takes one glance at the red carpet from inside the car window and sort of wants to throw up.

 

The world is blinding as Yoongi steps out of the limo, not because of the light, but because there's so much to see. There are faces everywhere , crowds of press and fans waiting behind the ropes, people walking up the carpet and standing on it and holy shit Yoongi recognizes all of those faces because there are celebrities—

 

“Come on,” Namjoon says, his huge hand patting Yoongi's shoulder. “You'll be fine.”

 

Yoongi wishes vaguely that Taehyung hadn't bailed on him that morning as Namjoon pulls him over to greet a reporter because Yoongi has suddenly forgotten how to speak Korean. He is not cut out for this life. This will be his first and last press appearance.

 

To his relief, though, it's not that bad. Everyone wants to talk to Hoseok with his blinding smile and dashing winks because the media eats that shit up. Any serious questions about the film are directed to Namjoon, and all Yoongi has to do is smile and bow. By the fifth conversation, he finds that this is manageable, and before he knows it, they've finished their press appearances and entered the hall.

 

This part is more familiar to Yoongi; among all the artists and directors and actors he finds himself in well-traveled territory. He greets a few actors and actresses that he's met over the years, catches up with a screenwriter he met back in university, and introduces himself to countless new people.

 

Yoongi isn't an actor, though he knows that he's young for a successful composer, which is why it surprises him that a few of the actresses (and even one of the male directors) chat him up. He's not interested at all, partly because he's very gay and partly because Yoongi is smart enough to know that you shouldn't date within the business. It might be fun and games one minute, but the next your one-night-stand is going to pieces and closing doors in your career left and right. It's not worth it.

 

Time practically flies by; Yoongi is in the middle of talking with a famous producer (one that Yoongi has been dying to work with; he's trying to drop his best Subtle Hints that he should hire Yoongi for his next project) when Hoseok comes to drag him away to their seats. “Get your ass over here, it's starting.”

 

Yoongi's mood is far better now; he's beginning to think that this award ceremony thing isn't so bad up until he catches sight of who's been placed next to them.

 

Of course, it's the cast and production team from The Gangnam Gang, and Yoongi has been seated right next to Bang Yongguk because why wouldn't the composers want to sit together?

 

“Min Yoongi! What a surprise!”

 

Yoongi wants to stick his tie pin in Yongguk's arm. Why would it be a surprise for him to be here if he's been nominated? “I could say the same to you,” he retorts, taking his seat.

 

“Hmm. Well, the best of luck to your indie movie.” Yongguk chuckles his signature low chuckle. “It really grew, eh? I was shocked to see it listed on the nominations.”

 

He's all hot air. Yongguk is trying to talk down the reality they both know: The Gangnam Game sucked ass.

 

There's no point in engaging him, so Yoongi just says, “Thank you,” and lets the conversation drop as the lights turn down.

 

Yoongi watches the first several awards go by, enjoying himself more than he had expected. He's pleased with the choice of best actress—Kim Go Eun is one of his and Seokjin's favorites—and he can make peace with the decision for best TV show, even if he thinks that serious high school drama which explored corruption in the education system was worlds ahead of the sweeping high-budget fantasy that actually won.

 

By the time they reach Best Director, Yoongi is antsy again. Namjoon was nominated, though neither of them particularly expect the award in this category; the competition is tough.

 

He's not surprised when it goes to a different film. “Next year,” he whispers, and Namjoon gives him a bittersweet smile that says he's accepted the outcome.

 

They announce the screenwriting award, and Yoongi knows what's next. He's tapping his fingers on the table as the current recipient gives her speech onstage. She's saying something emotional about her mother but Yoongi isn't quite catching it because his mind is racing.

 

Even in his most objective state of mind, Yoongi believes that his score is the best of the nominees. He might not have said that for all his work, but this soundtrack is his masterpiece. It hits him full force: he really wants to win this award.

 

Finally the screenwriting recipient wraps up her speech and descends from the stage; the hostess returns, makes a joke that has most of the audience laughing—Yoongi would probably find it funny too if he weren't so wound up—and begins to list the nominations for Best Soundtrack.

 

The General's Daughter.” Clips from a historical movie flash across the screen; a flash of red hanbok and the glint of swords. Yoongi's seen it; the concept was good but the reality was mediocre. “Raindrop Love.” Surprisingly well directed and acted. Music is trash, though. “Dandelion Wishes.” A cut of his own movie. His shoulders tense. “The Gangnam Game.” Ha. Fat chance.

 

Hoseok grins at him from two-seats over. Yoongi's eyes follow the hostess's fingers as they open the envelope and pull out the slip inside.

 

“The award for Best Soundtrack goes to...”

 

Yoongi holds his breath.

 

The Gangnam Game!

 

The room erupts in polite applause, including Yoongi after a split second, but he can hardly believe his eyes as Yongguk stands up, straightens his collar, and heads up to the stage. He swears he saw him smirk.

 

Yoongi makes eye contact with Hoseok, who mouths, what the fuck? as he claps. Yoongi agrees, but he knows the camera must be on him, so he smiles and looks every bit as if he's overjoyed on Yongguks behalf.

 

“I can hardly believe this honor,” Yongguk says onstage. “The competition was so fierce, really all of them deserve to be standing on this stage with me. I have to thank the fantastic cast and crew for The Gangnam Game, it was such a joy to work with them--”

 

Yoongi drowns out the bullshit. Yongguk's work is just a bunch of timpani and violin swells layered over a couple of expensive action scenes. Everyone—everyone— agreed that the movie, the acting, and the soundtrack were a flop. He can't understand it.

 

Finishing his speech, Yongguk returns to his seat, a glimmering trophy clutched in his hand. “Tough luck,” he says to Yoongi.

 

If Yoongi were a lesser man, he would kick him subtly in the shin.

 

As the night progresses, The Gangnam Game also beats out a score of better films to claim Movie Of The Year . It's messed up, and Yoongi can tell that Namjoon agrees from the look on his face. What is going on? Why is such an awful movie doing so well? The awards drag on, but the anticipation is gone.

 

Namjoon pulls them aside after the ceremony ends, while people begin to mingle and stream out of the hall. “This makes no sense,” he says in a hushed voice. “There's no way that movie deserved either award.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head. “I think it's fucking stupid too, Namjoon, but what's done is done. There's nothing we can do about it.”

 

“No, I think--”

 

“Yoongi's right.” Hoseok's mouth is turned down in a grim frown; it looks foreign on his face. “It isn't like they're going to re-evaluate the awards. We've got to put on a smile and get ourselves home.”

 

So they do just that. One or two people stick a mic in Namjoon's face on the way out and ask him his opinion on the “underdog” film of the evening; like the well-articulated person he is, he gives each one an eloquent and non-committal response. Yoongi is doubly thankful that no one's asking him. He's not sure he could reign in his tongue if provoked.

 

The limousine drops him back off at Namjoon's house. A heavy mood has settled over the three of them; there's no laughter or jokes when they say goodbye to each other.

 

Yoongi gets into his car and sags into the driver's seat for a long minute before he puts the keys into the ignition.

 

What an absolutely shitty day.

 

It's around ten-thirty by now, and the traffic isn't so bad on the way home. He pulls into his parking spot in the building's garage, turns the car off, and rests his forehead on the steering wheel. It really doesn't make sense. Maybe he's acting petty, but that award should have been his. He deserved it.

 

He curses at the world at large, then stuffs his keys into his pocket and heads to the elevator. It's been a long day, and all he wants is to sleep it off.

 

Before he goes to bed, he makes the mistake of scrolling through the entertainment news.

 

BREAKING: THE GANGNAM GAME BRINGS IN THE GOLD AT THE SEOUL FILM AWARDS

 

IS THE GANGNAM GAME THE UNDERRATED FILM OF THE YEAR?

 

ACTION FILM THE GANGNAM GAME BEATS OUT PREDICTED WINNERS

 

Frustration floods over him. He rolls over forcefully, exiting out of the browser on his phone and opening up his work email.

 

Searching through his trash bin, he locates the email with the drama job offer.

 

He hesitates, then moves it back to his main inbox. Then he turns off his phone, shoves his face into his pillow, and falls asleep.

 

 


 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (2)

 

When Yoongi wakes up after only a few hours to the sound of his neighbors going at it again, he considers screaming.

 

After a day like yesterday, this is just his luck.

 

He looks at the time on his phone: 2:04 AM. Isn't that the exact time as yesterday? How can they be like fucking clockwork?  This is ridiculous. He should buy earplugs.

 

For the second time, he grabs his earbuds off of his nightstand and shoves them into his ears, putting on a cello concerto and trying to pass out. It's harder this time—he has to force himself not to think about the events of the night before—but after about half an hour he drifts off.

 

Of course, he somehow managed to forget to switch off the alarm from yesterday, because it cuts through his sleep bright and early at nine. He shuts it off angrily and rolls over; he's not planning to get up for at least another five hours.

 

Except he can't sleep. It's bright outside; he can tell even with the shades drawn. Yoongi twists and turns but he can't get comfortable and he's nowhere close to sleeping. When perhaps twenty minutes have passed he stops fighting and gets up, not bothering to put on anything over his boxers except for wrapping a blanket around his bare shoulders. He blinks, trudging to the kitchen. There are probably some corn flakes left, though he should really go shopping.

 

And then he stops short.

 

Jeongguk. In his kitchen. Wearing the same black shirt and jeans as yesterday (does the kid only own one outfit??). The coffee machine is gurgling on the counter.

 

They stare at one another, and then Jeongguk pointedly looks away. It's probably because he's only wearing boxers, but Yoongi doesn't care. Why is he here?

 

“Oh, you're up? Good morning, hyung. Sorry, I mean Yoongi-ssi.” Jeongguk is obviously flustered.

 

“I told you to call me hyung yesterday,” Yoongi says. “Also, what are you doing here? It's Sunday.”

 

Jeongguk meets his eyes again, confused. “I'm sorry, what?”

 

Yoongi stares him down, drawing the blanket tighter around his shoulders.

 

“It's Saturday,” Jeongguk says slowly. “And I didn't even come yesterday. Weren't you, uh, away?”

 

Yoongi shakes his head. “No, it's Sunday. You were just here! You even cleaned up my cornflakes.”

 

Jeongguk's nose wrinkles. “But… it is Saturday. And what cornflakes?”

 

Yoongi frowns. He looks at his phone and turns on the screen.

 

9:29 AM. Saturday, September 1 st , 2018.

 

He swallows. This is weird. A glance at the sink tells him that sure enough, it's full of the same dirty dishes as yesterday morning, stacked in exactly the same way. Jeongguk has the trash can out from under the sink. Yoongi has not created these dishes or this trash since yesterday.

 

“Okay,” Yoongi says. “This is a good prank. Very funny. You can drop the act now.”

 

“Huh?” Jeongguk looks so genuinely confused. He's a good actor. “What prank?”

 

“This.” Yoongi waves his arm at the sink, his blanket slipping off of one shoulder. Jeongguk looks away quickly. “The dishes. The trash. You being here. The date on my phone, somehow—that one's tricky. Good job, but I caught you. It's time to stop.”

 

“I don't understand, hyung.” They should give this kid an Oscar, honestly.

 

Yoongi sighs. “This is getting less funny by the minute. Come on, just stop.”

 

Jeongguk bites his lip in concentration. “I really don't know what you're talking abou--”

 

Ding .

 

 

 

From: Taehyung Received: 9:33AM

 

Hey Yoongi, sorry to be so last minute but something important came up and I can't make it. You'll be fine tonight don't worry about it

 

 

 

He looks from the text to Jeongguk. “Taehyung's in on this, too?”

 

“Who's Taehyung?” Jeongguk is beginning to look nervous.

 

Yoongi stares. He opens up his phone and looks at the text conversation. There are no other texts since those he sent from New York. Yoongi blanches.

 

“How did you get into my phone?” he asks, but Jeongguk just looks lost and worried. He's clutching so hard at the trash bag roll in his hands that his knuckles have gone white.

 

Shit. Okay.

 

Yoongi looks up the news. It's all from September 1st.

 

5 minutes ago – “A Look At The Seoul Film Awards Nominees for Tonight: Who's Slated To Win?”

 

He pulls a stool away from the counter because he needs to sit down before he stumbles.

 

Either someone managed to hack into Naver to pull a prank on him or something is very, very wrong, and the more he looks at Jeongguk's genuinely bewildered expression, the more he suspects it's the latter.

 

He stands up again suddenly. “I've got to check something,” he mumbles, retreating to his room. He dials Namjoon.

 

“What's up, Yoongi? Is something wrong?”

 

“Uh, nothing, I just want to check. We didn't win the award last night, did we?”

 

“Last night? What do you mean?”

 

“The Best Soundtrack award at the Seoul Film Awards.”

 

“Uh, Yoongi? The awards are tonight. They haven't happened yet.” Namjoon clears his throat. “Did you have a weird dream?”

 

Yoongi feels sort of like he's in a weird dream.

 

“Maybe. I'm not sure. Just checking.”

 

“Are you feeling okay? This is an important event, you know. You should try to be there if you can.”

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi chokes out.

 

“Okay.” Namjoon sounds dubious. “I have to go, but take care of yourself. See you tonight.”

 

After Namjoon hangs up Yoongi just kind of sits on the bed for a while. He doesn't know what to think.

 

Yoongi knows he lived through this day already. It's not a weird, fuzzy, it-sort-of-feels-like-I-experienced-this-before déjà vu sensation. He can remember every detail, from which side of his face he'd shaved first to exactly how it had felt to watch Bang Yongguk walk up and claim that award.

 

But he's becoming more and more certain that this isn't some twisted joke—somehow, he's truly started the exact same day over.

 

He pulls on a pair of sweatpants and a shirt in order to be decent and returns to the kitchen. By now Jeongguk has moved on to the dishes, but he looks up when Yoongi enters the room.

 

Jeongguk honestly isn't a bad kid. Yoongi has talked with him a few times before on the rare occasions when they’ve in his apartment; he's shy but excitable, hard-working and passionate. He has a good sense of humor, too. From what Jeongguk has told him he's studying to be a teacher, and he wants to save up enough money to move out of his parents' house. Yoongi minds him a lot less than he minds most people.

 

Which is why Yoongi feels sort of bad about grilling him so harshly earlier. Now that he's fairly certain this isn't a conspiracy, he feels guilty over the way Jeongguk's shoulders tense nervously at the sight of him.

 

“Hey,” Yoongi says finally, plopping down at the table. “Do you want, uh. Help?”

 

Jeongguk shuts off the water and turns around. His eyes are wide. “But this is what I'm paid for?”

 

“Uh… yeah. But I don't have much to do today.” Yoongi scratches at his head. “Want me to dry?”

 

Jeongguk blinks exactly four times. “Sure.”

 

Yoongi grabs a towel out of one of the drawers and moves next to him, taking a bowl from the drying rack. “So, how's school?”

 

“It's fine.” Jeongguk still hasn't relaxed. “I mean. We just started the semester. It's tricky, but we haven’t done that much yet.”

 

“What year are you again?”

 

“Senior. I'm graduating in the spring if nothing goes horribly wrong.”

 

“Ah.” Yoongi puts the bowl in the cupboard. “Good for you. Are you excited to graduate?”

 

“Kinda? I'm looking forward to student-teaching next semester.” Jeongguk pauses in rinsing a plate. “It looks like I'm going to be in a third grade classroom, which is what I've been hoping.”

 

“You like kids?” Yoongi raises his eyebrows. He can't even imagine wanting to deal with children every single day.

 

“I love them.” Jeongguk smiles, and Yoongi notices that his two front teeth are slightly larger than the rest. It's unusual. “They're so rewarding.”

 

“Really?” Yoongi wrinkles his nose. “You don't get frustrated?”

 

“Of course I do,” Jeongguk says. “But it's okay, it's worth it.” He shrugs. “The one problem is that I'm not that good at teaching math. I have to know a lot to take the teacher's exam and it's so hard.”

 

Yoongi shudders. “I can't help you there. There's a reason I went to music school.”

 

Jeongguk quiets at that. He shoots Yoongi a sidelong glance, suddenly shy, and Yoongi can't quite figure it out.

 

“What are you up to today?” Jeongguk asks finally, rinsing the final cup.

 

“Errands, probably,” Yoongi says, thinking about the state of his fridge. If he doesn't go out to eat again he needs to buy something relatively nutritious before he ends up malnourished. “And there's an event tonight, yknow, for work.”

 

“Is it related to your movie?”

 

Yoongi makes a noise of affirmation. He wonders suddenly how much Jeongguk knows about what he does—it isn't as though they've really discussed it. “Yep. Awards.”

 

Oh, ” Jeongguk breathes. “The Seoul Film Awards! I'd forgotten! You're nominated!” His face lights up. “Hyung, I know you'll get it. I loved Dandelion Wishes!  The music is so beautiful, I bought the OST to listen to while I study--” He cuts himself off, reddening, and clears his throat. “Sorry. I just wanted to say I, uh, admire you. I mean, I know you'll do great.”

 

Yoongi blinks. That was a bit unexpected. “Thank you.” He hopes Jeongguk is right. The more his day goes on, the more he thinks that yesterday was some creepy kind of dream and Yongguk winning the award was just a nightmare.

 

Jeongguk fidgets as Yoongi dries the last dishes and sets them in the cupboard. His fingers sneak into the pocket of his jeans, and Yoongi can see the outline of them curling into a nervous fist. “I'm going to go vacuum,” he says, and disappears toward Yoongi's storage closet.

 

When he leaves, Yoongi leans back against the counter, tired. The kid is obviously intimidated by him. Maybe he should work on coming off a bit more friendly in the future so Jeongguk stops looking like he's going to flinch every time Yoongi opens his mouth.

 

Yoongi sighs, reaching under his shirt to scratch at his stomach, and tries to think about the day at large. Jokes aside, he really needs to go grocery shopping. He considers his sweatpants—does he need to change?

 

Probably.

 

Is he going to? Nah. It's the grocery store and no one cares.

 

The store closest to his apartment is a little bit of an organic granola mom store and kind of expensive, but Yoongi also doesn't feel like driving, so he treks the three blocks there to buy some overpriced free range eggs. He picks up a jar of kimchi, too—not as good as his mom's, but a step up from the convenience store brand.

 

He's standing in the snack aisle, debating how much junk food he can justify buying, when it occurs to him that the award ceremony is still tonight.

 

Fuck , right. He'd been so distracted with the events of the morning and the disconcerting dream-reality of the day before that he'd nearly forgot he has yet to (actually?) attend the film awards. The disappointment over losing to Bang Yongguk lingers in his mind, but he pushes it away. Evidently, that was his own nervous machination. It's highly unlikely that it will really happen.

 

In fact, he may yet win the award. That thought perks him up; he even returns the overly-friendly cashier's smile at the register.

 

As expected, he comes home to an empty apartment. Unlike yesterday—no, in his dream—he's not anxious over the approaching event, and finds that he can work. He pulls up one of his in-progress pieces and messes with some of the harmonies, trying out various instruments. A G-7 chord? No, not quite. He experiments, listens, changes it again.

 

While Yoongi is in the middle of gritting his teeth over a frustrating cadence that just won't work , Seokjin calls.

 

“Hi,” Yoongi says relieved to hear his voice. “God, I'm glad you called.”

 

“Stuck on a piece?”

 

Seokjin knows him so well. “You have no idea.”

 

The conversation goes much as it did in his dream; they talk mostly about the awards.

When that topic dwindles away, Yoongi says, “I had the weirdest dream last night.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“It's like… I predicted all of today in my dream. I don't know how to describe it. It's some creepy-ass shit, let me tell you.”

 

“Sounds like a nightmare to me,” Seokjin agrees. “Don't let it shake you and enjoy yourself out there tonight, you hear?”

 

“I'll try,” Yoongi promises.

 

He works for the rest of the afternoon. It's slow going, but at least he's getting something done. At 4:30 he closes the program and heads back to his room to jump in the shower.

 

He arrives at Namjoon's right on time, his hair cleaned and his suit miraculously unwrinkled.

 

“Hey, man, you okay?” is how Namjoon greets him. “You sounded pretty stressed when you called this morning."

 

“It's fine,” Yoongi says. He doesn't want to dwell on it. It's some kind of anomaly, probably, and they have an award to win.

 

It's surreal to find that the entire experience is exactly like in his dream. The interviewers, the crowds, the details of the decorations as they make it into the doors… it's unsettling.

 

Pushing that to the back of his mind, Yoongi composes himself and goes to work chatting up potential career opportunities. Actors, directors and producers especially, the occasional screenwriter (if you get on a screenwriter's good side they can pull strings, take it from Yoongi). The crowd of people in attendance is a sea of potential connections.

 

The thing that really shakes Yoongi is that when the actual awards begin, they progress exactly as they had in his memory. Best Actress to Kim Go Eun, Best TV Show to the modern fantasy-fusion piece, Best Directing to a historical movie.

 

That makes Yoongi antsy. He's nervous once the hostess walks up to announce Best Soundtrack, because suddenly he's a lot less confident that his dream wasn't reality.

 

The words “The award for Best Soundtrack goes to… The Gangnam Game!” fall on Yoongi's ears as if funneled through water; distorted, muffled. Dazed, he watches Yongguk walk onstage.

 

Chills run up Yoongi's arms. He knew all along, but he can't lie to himself now. It wasn't a dream at all.

 

He's living through the same day over again. There's no other explanation for it. He knew ahead of time what the awards would be like. He knew, even that morning, the exact feeling of what it was like to stand in the venue lobby even though he'd never been there before. He’d known the recipients of each award, the look that would cross Namjoon's face when he lost out Best Directing.

 

The Gangnam Game takes Movie of the Year once again, but it doesn't surprise Yoongi, because he knows.

 

“Are you okay, hyung?” Hoseok asks him on the way home.

 

He's not, but he nods anyway. There's nothing to be said.

 

At home, he buries himself underneath his comforter and prays that he won't have to live through this day ever again.

 

 


 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (3)

 

Yoongi wakes up at 2:04 AM. Obnoxious moans drift in from the other side of the wall.

 

He checks his phone: Saturday, September 1st, once again.

 

There's no denying it now: something is terribly wrong, and Yoongi has no idea what to do.

 

His solution is to do nothing.

 

He turns off the alarm that's set once again for 9AM, goes back to sleep, and wakes up around eleven. Taehyung's text had arrived promptly at 9:33; his head spins. Instead of getting up, he refuses to leave his room until he hears Jeongguk exit the apartment. He orders food online and eats bibimbap on the couch while marathoning his childhood favorite sports anime because no one is there to tell him he can't.

 

Seokjin calls at half-past noon. Yoongi dodges his questions, frustration growing the more Seokjin probes.

 

“Are you okay? Is it nerves?”

 

“Yeah. I'm fine,” Yoongi tells him sullenly, because all he wants to do at the moment is watch another 7 hours of TV and pretend that time doesn't exist.

 

“You don't sound okay,” Seokjin says dubiously. “Are you sure--”

 

“I'm fucking fine, did I not just say that?” It's not fair to Seokjin, who's just trying to care about him, but Yoongi is in a foul mood.

 

“Okay, what the fuck, Yoongi. Sorry for attempting to, you know, be your friend.” He's hurt Seokjin's feelings, that's obvious, which only makes him grumpier. “Bye.”

 

Seokjin hangs up first. Yoongi throws his phone onto the carpet five feet away and turns up the volume on the TV.

 

Five o'clock approaches. Yoongi makes up his mind and texts Namjoon that he's got food poisoning and is in the process of continuously emptying his stomach into the toilet. He can't possibly make it to the awards.

 

Shit, man. What bad timing. Feel better soon lights up his lock-screen minutes later.

 

Another hour goes by, and the minute hand on the clock makes its way over the number six. Yoongi orders chicken and ginger soup for dinner, because to be honest, he does feel a little queasy. He switches the TV to the channel covering the awards and turns down the lights.

 

Namjoon and Hoseok don't get much coverage, but they do appear in one quick interview. Namjoon says something witty and Hoseok smiles—an automatic success.

 

The awards proceed exactly as they have for the past two days. They lose out in both categories, and Yoongi has to watch Yongguk walk up onstage to claim an award that should, in all honesty, be his.

 

What kind of sick deity has orchestrated Yoongi's life to make him watch this over and over again?

 

The ceremony finishes up, and then of course there are post-interviews. Yoongi wraps himself tighter in the blanket as the camera cuts to the crew of The Gangnam Game. The interviewer feeds them some compliments, asks the director if he expected to receive Movie of the Year, then sticks a mic in Yongguk's face.

 

“How does it feel? We heard you had some heavy competition from Dandelion Wishes.

 

Yongguk chuckles. “Oh, I don't know if it was all that bad. I'm just surprised that Min Yoongi didn't show up to watch.”

 

That fucking rat. Yoongi grits his teeth, wishing he had gone after all so he could punch that smug grin off of Yongguk's face.

 

That's enough TV for the night, Yoongi thinks, so he turns off the television and heads to his bedroom.

 

From: Kim Namjoon Received: 10:41 PM

 

Are you feeling better? I assume you've seen the outcome. Don't be too disappointed, we all know you wrote the better score.

 

Yoongi knows, too. Still, it's kind of Namjoon to send an encouragement to him; after all, he lost out on an award as well. Yoongi isn't the only one feeling crestfallen tonight.

 

To: Kim Namjoon Sent: 10:46 PM

 

Slightly. Thanks; your work shone too. You should be proud.

 

Determined to see what will happen, Yoongi tries to stay up till midnight. If he doesn't go to sleep, maybe the problem will be solved.

 

He's in the middle of a game of Subway Surfer when the clock changes from 11:59 PM to 12:00 AM, and suddenly his consciousness is involuntarily slipping away--

 

 


 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (4)

 

When Yoongi wakes up yet again to the disturbing noise of his neighbors having sex, he's almost afraid to check the time.

 

As he suspects, it's 2:04—and it says September 1st yet again.

 

He hasn't dreamed up this whole time loop thing. He can't reverse it by hiding or by staying up all night. It's real, it's happening, and he's not sure what to do.

 

Instead of going back to sleep, he gets up, gets a glass of water, and scrolls on his phone for half an hour. It's quiet when he returns to his room, so he goes right back to sleep.

 

His alarm wakes him up at nine. He lies in bed for a long time, contemplating what he should do. Should he just live the day through again? Does the repetition have a time limit—like suddenly everything will stop repeating after five days, and Yoongi will be stuck with whatever the last outcome is?

 

He's not sure, but he guesses his best bet is to try and change it. Instead of sleeping in he gets up; at least he can be productive. He knows what the outcome of the evening will be and he's not nervous anymore.

 

Yoongi doesn't shower, but he does wash his face and shave and dress. He walks into the kitchen where he knows Jeongguk will be changing the trash bag.

 

“Oh, you're up?” Jeongguk says. “Hello, hyung. I mean--”

 

“Call me hyung.” Yoongi waves him off. He moves past Jeongguk to the coffee machine at work on the counter. “Thank you for making coffee. I appreciate it.”

 

“You're welcome.” Jeongguk offers him a shy smile.

 

Upon taking a sip of coffee and then examining the fridge Yoongi remembers that he has very little in the way of food, aside from the cereal he knows is still in the cupboard. Thankfully Jeongguk has thrown out the two suspicious-smelling delivery cartons that have been sitting in the back corner of the refrigerator for weeks.

 

“Hyung?” Jeongguk asks as Yoongi closes the refrigerator door. He scoots out of Yoongi's path. “Sorry, don't mean to be in your way. But, uh… are you busy today?”

 

Yoongi is struck by the fact that Jeongguk asked him that exact same question on the first day. He's curious. “Why?”

 

“Oh, uh,” Jeongguk ducks his head, snapping the trash bag open. “Nothing much. Just… it's my birthday today, and I was thinking of inviting some friends out for a meal tonight. Are you free?”

 

Yoongi's phone beeps with the text from Taehyung, and he mutes the sound, sticking it into his pocket. “I'm sorry, but I'm not available. There's a big awards thing tonight that I need to be at.”

 

“Oh!” Jeongguk's eyes widen. “I totally forgot! My bad. Have fun.”

 

“You too. Just invite some of your friends and enjoy yourself.”

 

“Right.” Jeongguk looks surprisingly disappointed. “I will.”

 

Yoongi retires to his studio room with his coffee, notebook, and computer. He leaves the computer on his desk and seats himself at his keyboard with a notebook and pencil. At times there's something about writing on paper that he can't quite give up. Besides, he's not sure it's worth it to write much down today, anyway. He has no way of keeping any of his work.

 

He leaves the door open because there's an unexpected sense of domestic comfort that comes from the faint sound of Jeongguk washing dishes down the hall. He's not in the mood to write seriously, just to experiment, to take his mind off of the confusion that is his life at the moment, so he improvises. His melody is soft and minimal—perhaps a good texture for a viola, or one of the lower strings.

 

Music is therapeutic, as always. His shoulders relax as he plays, and he stops thinking about awards and time loops and job offers. He forgets, sometimes, that this is why he chose this job—not for the honors, but because he loves it.

 

He's mostly fooling around, playing continuously and not following a cohesive theme; yet after about ten minutes a melody begins to form. He tries it in all directions, adds some syncopation, changes the key, develops it. It's good. He repeats it, plays it over and over in fifteen different ways until he thinks that he can't forget it.

 

He's satisfied. Yoongi stops playing, considering whether he should bother writing it down. He'll lose it, sure, but he might remember it better.

 

“Are you writing?”

 

Shocked, Yoongi turns to find Jeongguk standing in the doorway. He looks fascinated, then shy as he notices Yoongi staring. “Oh—I'm sorry. I just finished and I happened to hear you. Am I bothering you?”

 

Yoongi studies him seriously. “No,” he says after a pause. “You're fine.”

 

Jeongguk fidgets. “May I come in? I know I still have to vacuum, but I could wait so it doesn't disturb you?”

 

“Sure.” Yoongi nods at him, and Jeongguk takes a seat on the mini couch he keeps in his studio (he's had it since Seokjin was in grad school and would drop by to study while he worked). Deciding to play rather than write the melody down—there's no point, especially when Jeongguk is here to listen—so he returns to the keyboard, trying the theme in another key.

 

He notices now that there's one note that sounds wrong; it fights unnaturally with the resolution at the end of the phrase. Yoongi tries inverting the chord, but that's wrong, too. Perhaps—he moves into a minor halfway through the melody, then returns to major with the final note. Ahh. Perfect.

 

He pauses, aware again of Jeongguk watching him.

 

“It's beautiful,” Jeongguk breathes, when he sees that Yoongi has stopped playing. “I love your work, hyung.”

 

Yoongi turns, raising his eyebrows. “I had no idea you liked music so much.”

 

“I love it.” Jeongguk flushes. “It's not what I'm studying, but I love listening to it.”

 

An idea strikes Yoongi. “Ever played the piano before?”

 

Jeongguk blinks. “Yes? Not very well, but I studied it for a while in elementary and middle school because my mom wanted me to.”

 

“Come here.” Yoongi crooks a finger at him, and Jeongguk hesitates before approaching and sitting gingerly on the bench in the space left as Yoongi scoots over. “Show me what you've got.”

 

Jeongguk's eyes widen. “No, it's been years--”

 

“It's fine, I just want to see your level.” Yoongi stares him down until he finally places his fingers on the keys.

 

His posture isn't so good—whomever his teacher was must not have been a stickler for technique—but he plays a two octave scale with only one fingering mistake. Yoongi nods for him to continue, and he plays through a wobbly version of “twinkle twinkle.” He's concentrating hard, which makes his forehead wrinkle. Yoongi is endeared. In a way, the whole situation reminds him of when he used to tutor kids in piano back in high school.

 

Jeongguk finishes with a grimace. “How bad was it?”

 

“Not that bad.” Yoongi jerks his chin toward the keys. “Put your hands back. I'll teach you a little.”

 

The first thing he does is fix Jeongguk's position. “Sit up straight and don't hunch your shoulders. No, relax—it shouldn't be tense, just keep your body open instead of cramped and closed. Now, your hands--” Yoongi reaches for Jeongguk's wrists and lifts them up. “You'll just strain yourself if you play with flat wrists. Imagine that there's a bubble between each of your hands and the keyboard; curve your fingers down around that bubble.”

 

Jeongguk follows directions as best as he can, shooting Yoongi little glances to check if he's doing it right. It's cute. He's cute, Yoongi realizes. Jeon Jeongguk is kind of fucking adorable.

 

“What should I do next?”

 

“Uh...” Yoongi thinks. “You have a song you want to learn?”

 

Jeongguk considers. “Can we play something together? I think I could play a repeating bass line.”

 

That's a good idea, actually. “Yeah.”

 

The next half hour passes quickly; he teaches Jeongguk a chord progression and drills him till he remembers it. Then he adds a melody on top, one that he just makes up, improvising over Jeongguk's steady chords. It works well, and then steadily progresses into something less than serious when Jeongguk plays a wrong chord, and then another, and another, until it becomes obvious that he's doing it on purpose.

 

“Hey,” Yoongi warns, laughing and playing with one hand so he can use the other to whack at Jeongguk's shoulder. “Be careful.”

 

Jeongguk grins and plays a wrong note with both hands. “Oops,” he says without a trace of apology in his voice.

 

The combination of his cheekiness and the way his eyes sparkle makes Yoongi's heart do a spontaneous flip. He messes up.

 

“You made a mistake too!” Jeongguk points out, stopping altogether because he's snickering so hard that he's almost falling off of the bench. “That’s so fun.”

 

It really had been. Yoongi shakes his head. “No wonder you quit piano. I bet your teacher retired because of you.”

 

“Rude.” Jeongguk pulls himself together, regaining some semblance of sobriety. “Oh, I almost forgot, I've got to go vacuum.”

 

“Don't bother,” Yoongi waves him off. “It can wait. You're free to go.”

 

“But it's my job--”

 

“And I'm your boss,” Yoongi cuts in. “Go enjoy yourself. Oh, and happy birthday.”

 

Jeongguk is sincerely touched. “Thank you, hyung.”

 

“Yeah, yeah. Make sure you eat some cake.”

 

 


 

 

Yoongi spends the rest of the day brainstorming what he should do. Maybe he needs to do something out of the ordinary to get time to move forward.

 

He ignores his work in favor of getting out of the city and driving out into the countryside. The weather is nice, and there are cows out grazing in some of the fields. It's peaceful, pastoral.

 

What could be crazy enough to shake time out of balance? And what can Yoongi do to set it right again?

 

In the middle of nowhere, Yoongi pulls over and rolls his windows down, leaning out of his car to take in the autumn breeze. When all this is fixed he should take a vacation—a real vacation to somewhere quiet. Maybe rent a cottage or something, who knows.

 

He heads back to the city in time to join Namjoon and Hoseok on their way to the ceremony. Everything is the same and the awards are as disappointing as ever.

 

“Better luck next time, yeah?” Yongguk tells him with a wink as crowds stream out of the hall. The trophy gleams in his hand.

 

Fuck you , Yoongi thinks bitterly.

 

Not really in the mood to go home to an empty apartment, Yoongi stays at Namjoon's apartment for a while. They avoid the obvious for a bit, but eventually the conversation drifts back to the awards. Talking about it makes Yoongi more upset, so after around an hour he stands and announces that he's going to head back.

 

He drives home angry.

 

It's just past 11:30; he's exhausted and frustrated and he's hardly thinking straight as he makes his way from Namjoon's house to his own apartment. He's experiencing an unfamiliar mix of emotions, rage and hurt and fear all sliding over each other and bubbling hot against the surface of his skin.

 

He slams on the brakes a bit more forcefully than necessary as he pulls up to a red light. What will it take for him to stop repeating this god-forsaken day? A disaster? Magic? Sheer force of will?

 

The light turns green and Yoongi hits the gas, steering into the turning lane. This part of town is pretty quiet late at night; there are few cars on the main road, and even less in the neighborhood Yoongi cuts through to his apartment. He maneuvers through the residential streets and pulls up to the main road on the other side, pausing at the stop sign. It's clear, so he accelerates into the turn. At this point, all he wants is to get home.

The impact is so fast that he can barely react. He slams on the brakes, but it's too late; he can hear the sickening crash a fraction of a second before the airbag explodes from the steering wheel.

 

His breath is knocked away by the incredible force of the accident, but he's uninjured; after several minutes fear sober him up and he makes it out of the car on sore, wobbly legs.

 

Holy shit he's hit a delivery bike. He should have looked more carefully—he was driving distracted and simply didn't see it coming, and now the biker is lying on the pavement and there's so much blood— Yoongi sees spots for a minute, leaning on the wreckage of his car for support. There's another car stopping, someone is heading toward them, probably calling 911, and Yoongi's head is swimming.

 

He grabs at the arm of one of the gathering crowd. “I-is he dead?” Yoongi stammers, terrified. “He's not, is he?”

 

The woman gives him the most disgusted look he's ever witnessed. “He's got no pulse, you fucking murderer .”

 

“No,” Yoongi chokes. “He's got to be alive.” His throat feels like it's closing up, and he can't breathe. The world spins. An ambulance pulls up, sirens blaring, followed by a police car.

 

“Arrived on the site, 11:59 PM,” an officer calls into his walkie-talkie as he stalks over from the car. “What's going--”

 

Yoongi's world fades to black.

 

 

 


 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (5)

 

When he wakes up at 2:04 AM, he's in his bed. He's still wearing the suit from the night before, and his first thought when he looks down at his disheveled outfit is panic. Oh, God, what has he done? And why is he back here?

 

He scrambles for his phone, praying for the first time that the day won't have changed. When September 1st blinks back at him in the darkness, he lets out a long, shaky breath.

 

It's as if he's lived through a vivid nightmare, except that Yoongi knows now that he's not dreaming. Still, he can't stop himself from checking online for recent accidents in the area. He's relieved to hear see that there have been none near him. After pulling off his suit and slipping into a pair of sweatpants, a quick elevator ride down to the parking lot tells him that his car is still pristine.

 

The events of the crash flood back, jarring and painful. His neck is still sore from the force of the impact. How could he? How…?

 

He leans against the hood, his eyes falling closed. That was really fucking stupid of him. What if the day hadn't repeated itself?

 

It’s a terrifying wake-up call, of sorts. He needs to be more aware of what he's doing or he’s going to end up doing far more permanent damage than he expects.

 

Exhausted, he heads back to bed, making sure to switch off his alarm, and falls asleep immediately.

 

He wakes again at noon. There's still coffee waiting in the coffee machine, and it's not fresh—it tastes kind of burnt, to be honest—but it's better than nothing. He orders lunch and eats it at the counter, notebook in hand.This time, he's going to make a plan.

 

Theories, he writes. First: it could be a set number of repeats—say, seven loops and then time continues on like usual. Second: it could be infinite, and he's stuck in this loop forever. Third: there's a solution of some kind, some puzzle he needs to solve or detail he needs to change in order for the time loop to end.

 

If the first or second are true, there's nothing Yoongi can do about it. However, if the third is true, he might as well try to find that solution. It's most productive to assume that it's true.

 

But what could that solution be? Is there something he's missed? Is it connected to déjà vu?

 

All the possibilities make Yoongi's head hurt. Abstract questions like this are more up Namjoon's alley.

 

Considering that, it might be a good idea to talk to him. Yoongi texts him, asking if he's free for lunch.

 

Namjoon replies surprisingly quickly. 1PM work for you?

 

It does.

 

They meet at a noodle bar, and Yoongi asks Namjoon his opinion on déjà vu over a giant bowl of jjamppong.

 

Déjà vu?” Namjoon asks with his mouth full, his eyebrows shooting up. “Wouldn't have expected a question like that from you, I have to say.”

 

Yoongi frowns into his noodles, offended. “What do you mean by that?”

 

Namjoon swallows and shakes his head quickly. “It's not an insult. You just tend to be more practical than philosophical.”

 

I think as much as any other person,” Yoongi insists, only slightly pissed. “Anyway, answer the goddamn question.”

 

“Well.” Namjoon gets that earnest look on his face the way he always does when he's going to say something profound. “Some people think that it happens when you live through something similar to one of your dreams; others think it's an anomaly related to your memory.”

 

“And what do you think?”

 

“I don't know.” Namjoon purses his lips. “I don't experience it often. I'd have to gather more information.”

 

This is one of those times when Yoongi wonders if Namjoon missed his calling as an academic. “What if,” he begins tentatively, “a person experiences a situation where they vividly recall details from experiencing it before? Even before those things actually happen?”

 

Namjoon leans back in his chair. “Do you know someone like that?”

 

“No. Just curious.” Yoongi stares very intently at his food.

 

“I'm not sure that's possible. Or if it is, it's not really déjà vu; perhaps that person actually did live through the situation before and the memory has been altered somehow to feel like it didn't happen?” Namjoon scratches at the back of his neck. “I'm not sure. That would be a crazy experience.”

 

Yeah,” Yoongi agrees. “Crazy.”

 

They part ways after lunch to head home and get ready for the evening. Yoongi takes a fast shower and spends the rest of the time before he needs to leave searching the internet to see if anyone has ever had an experience like this. He can't find anything especially credible, but every account, fictional or not, seems to suggest that there should be some linking aspect.

 

As he drives to Namjoon's home, Yoongi wonders what pattern he's missing. Is the explanation that there's something he needs to change, something he needs to discover?

 

Nothing about the evening changes. It's becoming second nature for Yoongi—at the very least, if he ever makes it out of this time loop, he'll have a plethora of practice with networking. As usual, The Gangnam Game pulls two (undeserved) awards and his party heads back with dampened spirits.

 

Living through this again and again really fucking sucks.

 

Then it hits Yoongi—that’s it. This is what he needs to change in order to fix this mess. He needs to figure out what's going on with these awards and why they're so strangely distributed.

 

Namjoon,” Yoongi blurts out, “how are the Seoul Film Awards determined?”

 

Everything is decided by a panel of experts in the field,” Namjoon says, shrugging. Yoongi detects a slight sag in his shoulders. “There's no use in worrying about it. We may get another chance in the future.”

 

Perhaps, but Yoongi isn't going to sit around and wait for the future to take its sweet time anymore. He's onto something now, he can feel it.

 

Back at home, he changes out of his suit and drags out some staff paper. Thinking about time and puzzles and award manipulation is exhausting; he needs a break.

 

The melody from the previous day runs through his mind suddenly, so he begins to write it down, examining the chord structures. A violin part, perhaps? It's low, though; maybe cello.

 

More ideas pop into his head, and he scrawls notes to himself in the margins, trying to remember each one.

 

Caught up in his work, Yoongi barely notices the clock ticking from 11PM to 11:59 and then finally midnight.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (6)

 

To Yoongi's utter surprise, he blinks his eyes open at 2:04 to find the score still crumpled in his left hand. All his notes are there, even the ugly black blotch that he must have left when he fell asleep.

 

He's not too hopeful, seeing as he can distinctly hear his neighbors having sex in the next apartment, but he checks his phone anyway.

 

It's still the first of September.

 

Well, that's something. He thinks back to the day before, when he had found himself still in his suit. It seems like he can keep things with him from day to day as long as they're actually on his person.

 

That makes this all the more worthwhile. Retiring to his kitchen counter to avoid the noise, he locates a pen and goes to work on the score. It's haunting, romantic; not the dizzying, breathless rush of first love, but poignant and mature. It might work for that drama he's been offered, but the more he writes, the more Yoongi feels that this is too good for such a trash show.

 

He's absorbed. It's been a while since he's had a writing mood, and he's thankful for both the inspiration and the way it takes his mind off of whatever the fuck is going on. He ignores the time and works for hours, fetching his portable keyboard from the corner of his studio and transcribing it feverishly.

 

Hours later, he falls asleep over his work for the second time that night, his cheek pressing into the corner of the keyboard.

 

 

 


 

 

 

CRASH.

 

Yoongi nearly falls off his stool at the cacophony of noise; his arm swings out to steady himself, brushing sheets of music off of the counter in a fluttering cascade.

 

“God fucking damnit--”

 

“I'm so sorry!” Jeongguk squeaks from behind—and below?--him. Yoongi swivels around, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

 

Jeongguk is sprawled on the ground, his ankle hooked awkwardly around the leg of Yoongi's dining table and Yoongi's bucket of cleaning supplies tipped over beside him. He's bright red.

 

“I'm sorry, Yoongi-ssi,” Jeongguk repeats, shrinking under his gaze. “I-I saw you were sleeping and I was tiptoeing because I didn't want to disturb you, but I, uh, tripped.” He's sitting up, scrambling to grab a runaway bottle of glass cleaner and a stray rubber glove. “I can pick up your music for you, God, I feel terrible--”

 

Yoongi rubs at his forehead. Oddly, he can't find it in him to be angry. “It's fine, Jeongguk, don't worry.” He clamors off of the stool, rubbing at the sore spot on his cheek where it was pressed up against the keyboard. There's stubble there too, rough and itchy. “Call me hyung.”

 

“Are yo--”

 

“Yes,” Yoongi yawns. “It's weird otherwise.” He checks the time. It's 8:30 AM, earlier than he's met Jeongguk yet on any of these repeating days.

 

Finished picking up the items he dropped, Jeongguk pulls himself to his feet. “Sorry again. I wanted to let you sleep.”

 

“Like I said, it's fine.”

 

Jeongguk nods slowly. “Would you like some coffee?”

 

Yoongi is about to say God, yes, but then he considers the fact that Jeongguk has made him coffee every morning for the past five days, whether he knows it or not. An urge strikes him suddenly.

 

“I’ll make it. Would you like some?”

 

Jeongguk shakes his head. “I'm not a coffee person. But hyung, I don't mind making it, really. I'm here so I can help you.”

 

Yoongi points at the counter. “Sit. What do you like? Hot cocoa?”

 

Jeongguk pauses, then sets the bucket aside and climbs onto one of the stools. “If it's not too much trouble?”

 

“It's not.” Yoongi dumps water into the coffee machine's reservoir, then drops in a filter and grounds. While that runs, he rummages in the cupboard for the hot cocoa packets he keeps for when his kid cousin visits.

 

“Hyung?” Jeongguk asks, leaning his chin on his hand. “I don't mean to pry, but… are you okay?”

 

Yoongi pours milk into a saucepan and turns on the stove. “Why do you ask?”

 

“You must have been working late after your trip if you fell asleep.” Yoongi glances over his shoulder to catch Jeongguk fiddling with the collar of his shirt. “I thought maybe you're too stressed.”

 

Yoongi stirs the milk, preventing a skin from forming on top. “I'm managing.” He hesitates. “Thanks, though.”

 

“Okay. Good to hear.” Jeongguk slips off the stool and moves around the counter, heading to the cupboard where Yoongi keeps mugs. “I'll—I'll just get cups.”

 

Yoongi watches him from the corner of his eye as he stirs. Jeongguk obviously works out. He's got strong arms and thick thighs that fill out his jeans. In contrast his waist is smaller; it curves in slightly from his hips in the space that appears between the top of his jeans and the hem of his shirt as he reaches up for a mug.

 

Wow, Yoongi was not anticipating such a blatant reminder of his homosexuality before nine in the morning, and he was definitely not expecting that reminder to be Jeon Jeongguk. He forces himself to tear his eyes away. Jeongguk deserves better than having his employer ogle him.

 

The milk is hot, so Yoongi stirs in the cocoa mix, then ladles it into the mug Jeongguk supplies. He hands it back. “Here.”

 

Yoongi adds the pan to the atrocious pile of dishes that has reappeared in his sink, pours himself a cup of coffee and leans back against the counter. “So, happy birthday,” he says lightly.

 

Jeongguk sets down the hot cocoa mug. There's cocoa foam on his upper lip, which is so motherfucking cute-- “How did you know?”

 

Oh, right. Fuck. He hasn't told Yoongi that yet today. “Seokjin mentioned it,” he says, thinking fast.

 

“Really?” Jeongguk frowns. “I didn't think he knew. Maybe my mom brought it up recently or something.”

 

He seems to buy it, so Yoongi relaxes. “What are you doing to celebrate?”

 

Jeongguk's fingers close around the mug handle once again, his suspicion abated. “Probably… just time with friends and family.” It sounds like there's something else on the tip of his tongue, and Yoongi wonders if he's going to ask him to tag along once again, but he doesn't.

 

Yoongi's eyes settle on Jeongguk's face. He's almost too pretty, his face framed by a sharp jaw and a dainty chin. His eyes are large, round, and dark—expressive, Yoongi thinks. He's really attractive. Yoongi's noticed this in passing before, of course, but in more of an aesthetic way. He's not sure what's so different about today, or why all of a sudden he can't tear his eyes away from the chocolate stain on Jeongguk's lip.

 

For the second time, Yoongi forces himself to look away. One thing is for certain: he won't be getting anything accomplished as long as Jeongguk is here.

 

“You should go home,” he tells Jeongguk as the younger boy rinses his now-empty cup under the faucet.

 

Jeongguk is incredulous. “What do you mean? I haven't started my work.”

 

“Don't worry about it. I'm giving you a paid vacation for your birthday.” Jeongguk tries to say something else about dishes and laundry and trash, but Yoongi is having none of it and shoos him out the door. He needs Jeongguk out of here ASAP so he can think.

 

When he finally gets Jeongguk into his shoes and out the door with about six more reassurances that he's not being fired, Yoongi breathes a sigh of relief. For whatever reason, Jeongguk has transformed into an immense distraction, and that's the last thing he needs if he's going to make any progress.

 

Yoongi orders lunch, sets up his laptop on the living room coffee table, and goes to work.

 

Promptly at 9:33 Taehyung's text arrives. Yoongi wonders—perhaps belatedly—what the issue is that's causing him to keep canceling their appointment, but he's got no time to worry about that now.

 

He figures that his best bet is to start with the information he'd received from Namjoon, so he starts with the Seoul Film Awards website to see if he can learn anything about the judging panel. Unsurprisingly, the web page is vague and unhelpful, volunteering a short paragraph about “esteemed film experts” that tells Yoongi nothing new. There are no names anywhere.

 

He searches elsewhere, hoping to compile a list of people. There's nothing clear cut and reliable anywhere, leading Yoongi in fruitless, frustrating circles. He's beginning to feel foolish for doing this much over just an award. Something about it feels shallow and petty. He has to remind himself that this is less about the award and more about solving the time loop. He's finding a solution to right whatever has been thrown out of balance. This is important.

 

Yoongi takes a break, throws the delivery containers out, pours another coffee, and returns to the computer. His phone buzzes on the table beside him—Seokjin—but he lets it go to voicemail, too preoccupied to answer.

 

Eventually, he starts to pull some names from various corners of the internet—forums, news articles, comment sections. It's as likely as not to be speculation, but it's all he has to work from. He collects around twenty names and arranges them into alphabetical order on a word document. He gives each one a number, then starts from the top.

 

Yoongi takes notes on all the information he can find on each person: their bodies of work, their qualifications, hometowns, celebrity relatives, personal connections. Anything and everything relative to the person's career he adds to his document, scanning it all for clues.

 

It's exhausting work. Yoongi doesn't particularly like research—he prefers to work with his hands rather than his mind alone. He's reminded of why he chose to go to music school rather than university; the whole thing is giving him war flashbacks to high school.

 

He's on the eleventh name by 4:30 and he briefly considers skipping the ceremony today in order to research, but ultimately he realizes it's more useful to attend and see if he can find any clues at the actual event. Besides, he’s not sure how much more of this he can takes before his head explodes. He saves the document, shuts his laptop, and runs to his bathroom to shower.

 

The award ceremony progresses much as it has every other day, except that Yoongi locates Bang Yongguk the minute he makes it inside the hall and adjusts his conversations so that he can keep him constantly within his line of sight. Yoongi has no evidence that this necessarily relates back to him, but he has a hunch, and he's learned from experience that his instincts are often correct.

 

He notes each person that Yongguk talks with: the director of that historical movie, two actresses, another composer, a few people whom Yoongi fails to recognize but whose faces he makes sure to remember. At one point he sees Yongguk heading across the hall, but Yoongi is in the middle of a heated conversation with a producer that he hopes to make a good impression on. The producer asks Yoongi a question, which he answers, albeit distractedly. By the time he glances over again, Yongguk has disappeared.

 

Damnit.

 

Yoongi bows and politely excuses himself, heading in the direction he last saw Yongguk. Where had he gone? He hadn't left, had he?

 

Yoongi spots him again chatting with an actor from The Gangnam Game. Edging around a cluster of chatting people, he peers at the two, curious. Yongguk is frowning, towering over the shorter actor, his hand reaching over to grip the man's shoulder a bit harder than can be construed as friendly, unless Yoongi is just imagining things.

 

“Min Yoongi?”

 

Sandara Park has terrible timing, Yoongi thinks with a grimace. He forces himself to greet her with a smile.

 

“I haven't seen you in ages, not since our last project together! Remember Bakery of Love?  What a cute show, I miss it so much...”

 

Yoongi wishes he could forget that drama. It was, in reality, a total disaster and definitely not the high point of his career. He shoots a rapid look in Yongguk's direction. He's still talking with the same actor.

 

“My, you've cleaned up tonight!” Sandara adds, reaching over to give his tie a minute tug. Yoongi steps out of her range of motion. “It's rare to see you so dressed up. I've always said you could be an actor if you wanted to, you know; you've certainly got the face for it.”

 

“There's more to acting than looks,” Yoongi replies, frowning and adjusting his clothing. “Thank you, Dara, but I'm perfectly happy as is.”

 

“Are you though?” She purses her lips. “You're still not dating anyone, are you? Have you changed your mind about the whole gay thing yet?”

 

“Absolutely not.” Yoongi fixes her with his best stiff, polite smile. “And before you ask, I'm still 100% uninterested in a one night stand.”

 

She shrugs, laughing. “Well, when you do, you've always got my number.” She snickers, patting his shoulder and walking away.

 

God, Sandara Park is one hell of a woman. Yoongi doesn't like her, per se, but he respects her in a certain way. She lives her life exactly as she wants to and doesn't give a fuck about the rest.

 

Yoongi turns, searching out Yongguk, but he's practically evaporated in the minute he spent talking to Sandara. He curses aloud, reeling about to scan the room. He can't have gone far, can he? It's times like these that Yoongi would appreciate an extra several centimeters.

 

He moves around the room, trying to locate Yongguk while attracting as little attention as possible, but there's no sign of him. Ten minutes pass, then twenty, thirty, and then the crowd is streaming into the hall for the ceremony.

 

Yoongi finds his seat, where Yongguk is waiting. Where had he been for the last half hour? Hiding his suspicion, he meets Yongguk's smile with a grin of his own. He won't give that fucker the pleasure of seeing him disgruntled.

 

Despite his careful attention, Yoongi doesn't notice anything else fishy the entire evening. Events progress as usual—awards, disappointment, riding home to Namjoon's house, and driving home.

 

He continues his research before bed, adding six more names to his list to search up the next day. As the time approaches midnight, he remembers his work from that morning that he'd left sitting on the kitchen counter. It's 11:58, so he springs up and dashes toward the sheets, clutching at the stack and frantically diving for a stray page that falls from his hands. His fingers just barely close around it as the clock strikes twelve and his consciousness dulls, his vision blurring and darkening around the edges until nothing is there at all.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (7)

 

Yoongi lives through the next day mechanically. He wakes two hours later, as usual, switches off his alarm, and goes back to sleep. When he rises for the second time, Jeongguk has come and gone.

 

Sick of his apartment, he dresses presentably and heads to his favorite coffee shop to work. He buys an americano—no surprises there—and prepares to investigate further. Working through another three prospective panel members, he finds little to help him. He's managed to forget his charger in the disarray of the morning, so he's only halfway through his second americano when his laptop runs out of battery. Discouraged, he packs up and returns home.

 

By now he's sick of researching and sick of awards in general. He turns on the TV, finds that same drama episode on, and immediately turns it off. Is this what he'll be reduced to--pandering to the hearts of discontented middle aged women for the rest of his career?

 

Alone on his couch in his too-quiet, too-empty living room, Yoongi's stomach clenches. Repeating this same day over and over again is taking its toll on him. He hates to admit this to himself, but he's lost, lonely, and hopeless. What if he never solves this puzzle—or what if there isn't a solution? What is there to do if he has to repeat the same 24 hours over and over for the rest of his life? Kill himself? The thought terrifies him; his stomach takes a sickening turn.

 

Yoongi recognizes this path of thinking, and he knows exactly what dark place it leads. He has to force himself to stop before he can get too far.

 

This won’t help. There's nothing for him to do besides try. He's got to at least try.

 

Settling on the floor in front of his laptop on his stomach and propping his chest up on a pillow, he goes back to work. There's got to be something behind all this. He has to believe that there is, or he's going to go insane.

 

When Seokjin calls he picks up, keeping the conversation light and pretending he's more excited than he really is. It's more for his own benefit than Seokjin's; even just talking with a friend helps, somehow. For the first time, he considers telling someone else what's going on. Would Seokjin believe him? Yoongi isn't sure. In the end, he keeps his mouth shut.

 

He reaches the end of his list just before he has to go. He's done his absolute best, gone through all 27 names he's been able to locate, but not one appears to have the slightest connection to The Gangnam Game. Either Yoongi is missing a name, hasn't researched thoroughly enough, or he's completely wrong and the award was decided fairly.

 

That last option bothers him. He's nearly certain that something has gone amiss, but the complete absence of any evidence has him wondering if he's just overreacted.

 

Keep going, Yoongi tells himself. He squares his shoulders, ties his tie, and leaves for the ceremony, picking up another coffee on the way.

 

Nothing stands out to Yoongi, no matter how carefully he observes. Celebrities chat and mingle and smile for the camera. Yongguk talks to the same people he always does. No matter where Yoongi looks, he draws a blank.

 

The start of the awards is drawing near, and Yoongi finds that he's had a little too much coffee, so he slips away from the crowds and into the bathroom.

 

Yoongi has never seen such a ridiculously fancy bathroom in his life. It's deserted, surprisingly, and it has its own lobby and hallway leading into the main area. Everything is sleek and shining and it's even carpeted.

 

He pees unceremoniously into the urinal; he’s in the process of shaking himself off and tucking back into his pants when he hears the sound of someone in the hallway. It takes him a second to register the voice, but when he recognizes it as Yongguk's unmistakably deep timbre, he tucks himself into one of the stalls as fast as he can, climbing onto the toilet seat.

 

“Is there anyone in here?” Yoongi doesn't know that voice. There's a shuffling noise outside, and Yoongi can make out the sound of one of them crouching. They're checking for feet, he realizes. He holds his breath.

 

“It's clear.” Yongguk chuckles, low and amused. “You worry too much, uncle.”

 

Uncle? Yoongi nearly bites his tongue. Yongguk is using the word for a maternal uncle. Are his relatives here to see him?

 

“It pays to be careful,” the voice bites back. “Don't talk back to me after all I did for you. I busted my ass to get the panel to agree on your shitty movie, don't forget.”

 

“What's a favor between relatives?” Yongguk laughs. “Besides, this is paying well for the both of us, don't act like it's not.”

 

The unknown voice grunts. “Don't say that too loudly; you never know who's listening.”

 

“There's no one here. Regardless, no one would guess that Lee Sanghwa is related to a measly composer like me.” They both laugh.

 

Lee Sanghwa… where had Yoongi heard that name before? He racks his brain, and then he knows in an instant.

 

It's on his list. Lee Sanghwa is a world-renowned director, recipient of dozens of prestigious awards, the top of his field--

 

And he's fixed the awards in favor of his secret nephew, Bang Yongguk.

 

Yoongi is livid.

 

He hops down from the toilet and slams open the stall door, basking in both of their shocked expressions.

 

“Your uncle is right,” Yoongi drawls, leaning against the stall divider. “It pays to be careful. Guess what happens when you're not careful?”

 

There's a long, tense moment. Yoongi can see the panic on both their faces, relishes it. This is the moment he’s been waiting for.

 

It’s short-lived, though, because suddenly Yongguk relaxes, clicking his tongue.

 

“And who's going to believe you?” he says, shaking his head slightly. “You can't prove a thing, can you? Go ahead and tell anyone you like; I'll make sure they see you as a jealous finger-pointer. Who are they more likely to believe, the established winner or the disgraced loser?”

 

Unfortunately, Yongguk is right. Yoongi curses internally. He rarely acts so quickly without thinking—if he had considered the situation for a minute or two longer, he would have realized this himself—but his elation over finding the solution and desire to see Yongguk brought down had made him uncharacteristically rash. He regrets it now that he can see the victory written all over Yongguk's face.

 

“Nice try, Min Yoongi, but put in a bit more effort next time.” Yongguk pats his uncle on the back. “See you at the awards. You might want to pick up a box of tissues first.” They walk out of the bathroom.

 

Yoongi is furious and humiliated, but Yongguk missed something important that only Yoongi knows: there will be a next time, 24 hours from now.

 

That time, Yoongi will be ready.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (8)

 

As usual, Yoongi is dragged out of sleep by the sound of moaning. His score is clutched in his hands; thank God he'd remembered to pick it up.

 

He has zero patience for his neighbors anymore. In fact, he's really fucking pissed. He pounds on the wall separating them and yells, “WILL YOU TWO KEEP IT THE FUCK DOWN?”

 

He doesn't care if they're angry. He might have heard an expletive or two in return, but the noise stops. Yoongi turns over and goes back to sleep.

 

He forgot to turn off the alarm, so he wakes up bright and early at nine, curses, and doesn't move from his bed. It's hard to sleep then, so he naps on and off. The frustration of being unable to get a proper rest and the irritation of the evening before mix into a sour, toxic sensation.

 

Around ten, Yoongi gets up to use the bathroom. He's moving carelessly, not watching where he's going, and as he shoves himself off the bed, his arm swings over and knocks his lamp off of his nightstand. It hits the ground with a deafening crash.

 

“Fucking hell,” Yoongi groans at the same moment as Jeongguk barrels through the doorway of his room.

 

“Are you okay?” he demands, eyes blown and mouth parted in concern. Then his eyes follow Yoongi's gaze to the floor. “O-oh.”

 

Yoongi rubs at his forehead with one hand.

 

“I apologize for barging in, I thought maybe you'd fallen.” Jeongguk's arms wrap around himself in embarrassment. “Sorry.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head. “Just… it's fine. Can you help me clean this up?”

 

“S-sure.” Jeongguk isn't looking directly at him. “Do you want to get dressed first?”

 

Oh, right. He's only wearing boxers. Yoongi grabs a pair of dirty sweatpants from the foot of his bed and shrugs them on. “Nah, it's good. Can you get a broom and dustpan?”

 

Jeongguk helps him sweep up and then vacuum in relative silence. Yoongi watches him occasionally; tries and fails not too stare when he bends over to use the dustpan.

 

“Did your trip go well, Yoongi-ssi?”

 

“My trip?” Yoongi's forgotten for a few minutes that they're back to square one—that Jeongguk doesn't remember their piano duet or making hot cocoa together or anything that Yoongi has told him over the past seven days. “Uh, yes. It was fine.” Yoongi feels odd as he tells Jeongguk to call him hyung for the umpteenth time. He's become very familiar with this boy very fast.

 

It's apparent to him that their relationship is getting increasingly stranger; while Yoongi remembers every word they exchange, Jeongguk doesn't remember a single one.

 

They clean the last bits up—thankfully, Yoongi won't have to bother fixing it—before he finally heads to the bathroom. Too many images swirl through his mind as he washes up: Yongguk and his uncle, the awards, his studio, Namjoon's disappointed expression, Jeongguk.

 

All of a sudden, Yoongi has an idea.

 

“Hey, Jeongguk,” he calls, sticking his head out of his room. “Are you busy today?”

 

Jeongguk rounds the corner. “Uh. No, I'm not, I guess?”

 

“How do you feel about being my plus-one tonight?”

 

“Your what?” Jeongguk asks, his mouth falling open.

 

Yoongi taps his foot impatiently. “My plus-one. A date for tonight's event, you could say. What do you think?”

 

“I-I,” Jeongguk stammers. “I can't… for what? For… oh my God, are you talking about the awards?"

 

“What else would I be talking about?” Yoongi runs his fingers through his hair. “You in or not?”

 

Jeongguk blinks. “Is that allowed?” he asks, tentative. His eyebrows are raised so high they’re hidden beneath his dark bangs.

 

“It's allowed if I say it's allowed,” Yoongi snorts. “Should I take that as a yes?”

 

“Yeah,” Jeongguk replies softly. He's blushing, which is really cute. Fuck. Maybe bringing him tonight is a bad idea—but Yoongi needs his help.

 

“Great,” Yoongi says, shrugging on a sweatshirt. “I'll take you to brunch. We've got no time to lose.”

 

 

 


 

 

 

“The award decision is rigged?” Jeongguk's jaw drops in surprise. “No way. That's awful! The Gangnam Game over your score, too?”

 

Yoongi's ego appreciates Jeongguk's indignation. “It's a fucking mess,” he agrees. “But most importantly, it's unethical.”

 

“How did you find out about this, hyung?” Jeongguk asks, taking a big bite of rice. A few grains spew out of his mouth as he speaks, which is disgusting and yet also innocently enthusiastic. That really should not be as cute as it is. Dark magic? Yoongi thinks so.

 

“That's not important. What is important is that I need your help to solve this. I trust you, Jeongguk.”

 

Jeongguk looks up with a mouth full of food. “Me?”

 

“Swallow your food before you talk,” Yoongi chides, handing him a napkin. “That's gross.”

 

Jeongguk does as he’s told. “Sorry.” He wipes his mouth with the offered napkin. “How can I do anything about it though?”

 

“I'm about to explain.” Yoongi grins. “You're the key to fixing everything.”

 

The strategy simple. Jeongguk will come with him that evening—he'd already called ahead and warned them that he's bringing a guest (the event organizer sounded a bit pissed, probably because the RSVP deadline was ages ago, but Yoongi doesn't really care). He knows now that Yongguk and his uncle will be in the men's restroom right before the ceremony starts. What Yoongi needs is proof of their conversation; that’s where Jeongguk comes in. He could technically do it himself, but everything will be smoother with an accomplice. Another perk is that Yongguk won't recognize Jeongguk in the case that he's seen.

 

The plan: Jeongguk will hide in the stall before Yongguk and his uncle come into the bathroom. He'll record the conversation; audio at the very least, video if he can manage it without being caught. Being taller than Yoongi, Jeongguk has a good chance of getting his phone camera up the to gap between the stall divider and the ceiling. Then they’ll upload the video and use it to topple The Gangnam Game.

 

It's practically foolproof.

 

Jeongguk is less sure. “What if I get caught?” he says. “I don't want to cause any trouble.”

 

“You won't,” Yoongi assures him. “Even if you do, no one knows who you are. You can just say you're using the bathroom.”

 

With some hesitation, Jeongguk agrees to the plan. Yoongi couldn't be more excited—he's so close. They're going to solve this, the time loop will end, and the awards will go to those who deserve them. Namely, him.

 

On the way home, they stop by Jeongguk's house so he can run inside and grab a dress suit. Seokjin calls while Yoongi is in the car waiting.

 

“You're bringing Jeongguk to the awards tonight?” is the first thing Seokjin says when he answers.

 

“Yeah, I am. Who told you?”

 

“Jeongguk. Why, Yoongi?”

 

“Why not?” Yoongi tilts his seat back, stretching. “He's a nice kid.”

 

“You don't just ask your employees on dates. You know that sends an odd message, right?”

 

“It's not like that,” Yoongi argues. “It's not a date. He's just going to hang out with me for the night. We're friends.”

 

Seokjin sighs. “Yoongi, this isn't a good idea.”

 

“It's not really your business,” Yoongi says. “Why are you so concerned about me, anyway?”

 

“I'm not concerned about you,” Seokjin bites back. “I'm worried about Jeongguk.”

 

“This doesn’t any fucking sense, hyung,” Yoongi says, frustrated. “It's going to be fine.” He spots Jeongguk coming out of his house, and pulls his seat back up. “Look, I have to go. Talk to you later.”

 

Yoongi can practically hear Seokjin's frown. “Take good care of him,” he says. “Be careful--”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I will. Bye.”

 

Jeongguk gets into the car just as he hangs up.

 

“You ready, kid?”

 

“Yes.” Jeongguk smiles brightly. “Let's go.”

 

 


 

 

“Who's this?” Namjoon asks when Yoongi walks into his house. Hoseok emerges from the kitchen, curious.

 

“This is Jeongguk,” Yoongi says, tugging him further forward. “He's my plus-one for tonight.”

 

Hoseok blinks. “You're bringing someone?” He bows politely, holding out a hand to shake. “Nice to meet you. Are you two dating?”

 

Shit—Yoongi forgot about explaining the situation to Namjoon and Hoseok. He'll have to wing it. “We are,” he says, slinging an arm around Jeongguk's waist. “Just since a few weeks ago.” He leans in, whispering “just go with it” in his ear.

 

“I'm surprised you haven't mentioned him before.” Namjoon shakes Jeongguk's hand, too. "How did you meet Yoongi?”

 

“Uh,” Jeongguk says, shooting Yoongi a nervous look. “We… um.”

 

“Mutual friends,” Yoongi sweeps in, tightening the arm that's around Jeongguk. God, he really does have a tiny waist. “It sort of grew from there.”

 

“He's a cute one, Yoongi,” Hoseok says, winking at Jeongguk. “Glad you're coming with us tonight.”

 

“I'm glad to be here,” Jeongguk breathes. “I loved Dandelion Wishes. Your performance was stunning.”

 

“Thanks,” Hoseok responds, his smile stretching wide. “I'm glad you liked it! Though I guess you have to, if your boyfriend wrote the score.”

 

Yoongi hears Jeongguk choke a little. “Sorry,” he whispers, soft enough that only Jeongguk can hear. He lets him go.

 

“I watched it before we, uh, dated,” Jeongguk says, glancing from Hoseok to Namjoon to Yoongi and back again. “So it was unbiased.”

 

That makes Namjoon laugh, deep and joyful. “I like this one, Yoongi. You should keep him.”

 

The unexpected effect of bringing Jeongguk is that he diffuses much of their nervousness; Hoseok quickly brings out his playful side and the two of them have the party laughing the entire drive there.

 

Jeongguk looks nice in that suit, Yoongi thinks as they walk up the red carpet. Too nice. It shows off every curve of his thighs and shoulders and he's got on a little bit of eyeliner to highlight his huge, round eyes and wow is Yoongi feeling gay at the moment.

 

Yoongi's not the only one to notice Jeongguk—suddenly the interviewers have questions for Yoongi, wanting to know who his mysterious date is. Yoongi gives vague answers to protect Jeongguk's privacy, and the cameras take a thousand pictures of Jeongguk's sweet smile. He's getting almost as much attention as Hoseok.

 

Once they get inside, Yoongi appreciates Jeongguk all over again. People approach him differently with Jeongguk by his side. No actresses flirt with him when he rests his hand on Jeongguk's waist and leans in. It's pleasant to have company, too; Yoongi never has to stand awkwardly alone in between conversations because Jeongguk is right there.

 

Jeongguk appears to be enjoying himself; he takes in every view with an excited, childlike innocence that makes Yoongi see the world with fresh eyes; the same splendor that had felt tired the night before is new and enthralling next to Jeongguk.

 

“Yoongi, where did you pick up this cutie?” Sandara Park says when she catches them in passing. “He's such a sweetheart!” She pats Jeongguk's shoulder; he looks ready to dash at any moment. “You're too good for Yoongi, darling, he's just a crotchety old man.”

 

The humor of the exchange is striking. Though she doesn't remember, just yesterday Sandara was propositioning him.

 

“Do you want to exchange numbers? I could give you a fun time, if you like.”

 

“I… what?” Jeongguk's eyebrows shoot up. “No, thank you, I don't really… uh. Do that.”

 

Yoongi decides that Jeongguk has had enough. He takes the younger's hand, winding their fingers together. “He's with me,” he says firmly, surprised at the shudder that runs through Jeongguk's arm. “The only person giving him a 'fun time' will be me, his boyfriend.” And okay, he might have said that last part to tease Jeongguk a little, but it's totally worth it.

 

Jeongguk's mouth falls open in a little choked gasp, which he turns into a cough. Yoongi smirks and pats his back. “Are you okay, sweetheart?” He gives Sandara an apologetic look. “I think I should get him some water. Please excuse us.”

 

He ushers Jeongguk a safe distance away before doubling over in laughter.

 

“It's not funny,” Jeongguk insists, red-faced. “We're not even actually dating!”

 

“It was fucking hilarious,” Yoongi counters, holding his stomach. “You should have seen your face. You're too easily flustered, Jeongguk.”

 

“I wouldn't be flustered if you didn't say things like that in public!” Jeongguk hits his arm, frowning. “Please don't do that.”

 

Yoongi sobers up, finally sensing that Jeongguk hadn't found it as funny as he had. “Sorry, kid. I was just making a joke.”

 

Jeongguk frowns, still red-faced. “Jokes can be harmful, too,” he murmurs. “I forgive you, but don't say something like that again tonight, okay?”

 

Oh. He hadn't meant to humiliate Jeongguk—hadn't realized that would be the effect, but somehow he had managed it regardless. Guilt barrels into Yoongi's chest like a freight truck. “I won't. Really, I’m sorry, Jeongguk.”

 

Jeongguk swallows, his eyes lingering on Yoongi's face for a little too long. “Let's move on.”

 

Yoongi feels like a grade A piece of shit for upsetting him, but his plus-one is right. They have a mission to accomplish.

 

Checking his watch, Yoongi finds that it's about time for Jeongguk to go hide in the bathroom. He shows him the way and sends him in with a pat on his back. “Good luck. You'll be fine.”

 

“I'll do my best,” Jeongguk promises.

 

Everything goes as planned. Yoongi positions himself so he can see the entrance to the bathroom and sure enough, he can see Yongguk and Lee Sanghwa walking in several minutes later.

 

Yoongi feels half-giddy. He's cracked it. He's going to solve the time loop, find the key to the next day. He'll never have to live through this same sorry-ass day ever again.

 

Five minutes inch by at an agonizing pace. Yoongi checks his watch too often, eyes glued to the bathroom door. After six and a half minutes, Lee Sanghwa strolls out. His nephew follows him a minute or two later.

 

Yoongi waits. Waits some more. Where is Jeongguk?

 

After what feels like ages, Jeongguk emerges and makes his way over to Yoongi.

 

Yoongi grabs his shoulders. “What happened? Did you get it?”

 

“I got it,” Jeongguk says. Yoongi realizes that he's shaking in his grip. “It's not good quality—I kept wobbling because I was nervous—but you can hear it. I hope it's right. I really tried, Yoongi, I did.”

 

Yoongi can't help himself. He hugs Jeongguk. “You're wonderful. Can you send that to me?”

 

“Y-yeah,” Jeongguk says, pulling away fast. “I'll do it now.”

 

Yoongi sits through the ceremony on an elated high that not even the snarkiest comment from Yongguk can ruin.

 

Jeongguk can't seem to believe that he's seeing each celebrity in person. It's fun just to watch him. He'll tug on Yoongi's sleeve, point and ask, “Is that really Yoon Eun Hye? For real?"  Yoongi enjoys it ten times more than he had any other evening.

 

When they call up Bang Yongguk to the podium to accept an award, Jeongguk stiffens beside him. “You weren't kidding,” he whispers.

 

Yoongi pats his thigh gently. “It'll be okay.” Bang Yongguk is going to rue this day for the rest of his life.

 

In the limo back to Namjoon's place, Yoongi posts the video on an anonymous forum, with a detailed post describing what actually happened, and prays for the internet to work its magic.

 

“Are you happy now, hyung?” Jeongguk asks in his ear, low and soft. “Is everything fixed now?”

 

“We'll see,” Yoongi says distractedly, staring at the post on his phone. “It's all a gamble from here on out.”

 

They reach Namjoon's, pile out of the limo, and wish everyone a good night. Yoongi checks the post again. This time, there are replies. He searches the topic, finds it on twitter, and locates someone who reposted the video. Good. Progress.

 

“Hyung,” Jeongguk says. Yoongi looks up to see that Hoseok and Namjoon have headed inside. It's just the two of them, alone in the warm autumn night. Part of Jeongguk's hair is sticking up from where he'd leaned his head on the window to sleep on the way back.

 

Yoongi makes a noise to let Jeongguk know he's been heard and tries not to think about how beautiful he looks in the moonlight.

 

“Do you want to go out for ice cream?”

 

Yoongi looks at his watch. It's about half past ten, and to be honest, he's pretty tired. It's been a long day, and he'd rather reward himself for solving the puzzle with a good night's sleep than go out at the moment.

 

“Maybe some other time, Jeongguk,” Yoongi says. He opens the door of his car. “Get in. I'll take you home.”

 

Jeongguk's face falls, then rearranges itself into something unreadable. Silently, he slips into the passenger seat.

 

They don't say much on the way to Jeongguk's house. Yoongi is busy paying attention to the road and itching to get home so he can monitor the progress of the video. He pulls up in front of Jeongguk's driveway to let him off. “Night, Jeongguk. Thanks for coming.”

 

“Good night.” Jeongguk pulls the door open and swings one leg out. Then he stops. Gets back in and closes the door. “Actually, hyung. There's something I need to say.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Turn the car off. It might take a minute, and I don't want to waste your gas.”

 

Curiously, Yoongi does as he's told. He turns in his seat, waiting.

 

Jeongguk's features flutter between nervousness and resolution. It takes him a minute, but he finally opens his mouth. “It's my birthday.”

 

It is? Oh. It is. Yoongi knew that. Shit.

 

“And… I thought it would be fun to spend it with you. I even canceled my plans to celebrate with some classmates so I could go with you tonight.” Jeongguk pauses. His eyes are shiny in the dim light. “Do you know why, hyung? Do you know why I did that?”

 

Yoongi doesn't know, but he has a guess that he has a terrible feeling is going to be exactly what falls from Jeongguk's lips.

 

“I… I like you. A lot.” Jeongguk sniffs. There's a tear welling in the corner of his left eye. “And I thought maybe this really was you asking me on a date, because you wanted to get to know me, because you like me, maybe because you were interested in me too.” He pauses, swallows, and continues. “Obviously I was wrong. You've made it clear that you have no sincere interest in me. But… I have to say this.” The tear grows too heavy and falls, streaming down Jeongguk's left cheek and clinging to the edge of his chin. He wipes at it with the sleeve of his suit. “Whether you like me or not, you shouldn't have used me. And that's exactly what you did. You knew I would do anything you asked, and you took advantage of that.” Another tear runs down his face. “You shouldn't have done that to me. It hurt.”

 

Yoongi is absolutely speechless. He doesn't know what to do; defend himself? Apologize? He kind of wants to reach over and wipe away Jeongguk's tears with his thumb, but that would obviously be inappropriate.

 

Jeongguk exhales shakily. “I'm glad you're going to be able to solve your conflict. From now on, I think we should be careful not to interact as anything except employer and employee. I hope you'll understand.” He opens the door again. “Good night, Yoongi-ssi.”

 

Yoongi watches Jeongguk go with the acute knowledge that he has really, really fucked up.

 

At home, Yoongi looks through the news. The video has indeed gone viral; articles are already starting to pop up about the award controversy.

 

It doesn't make him happy they way he expected it to. Instead, he's burdened by Jeongguk's words.

 

Yoongi goes early to bed that night. As he pulls up the covers, he realizes that he doesn't want this solution to have worked. He actually hopes that the next day will be another repeat, another chance to redo everything.

 

He wants to try again. This isn't the ending he wants.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (9)

 

At the discovery that nothing has changed at 2:04 the next day, Yoongi finds himself far more thankful than disappointed. The previous day has disappeared.

 

Whatever force it is controlling all this, Yoongi sends them a silent prayer of thanks for allowing him to start anew.

 

He rolls over, sticks in a pair of earbuds, and falls asleep again.

 

Around ten, he hauls himself out of bed and peeks into the kitchen.

 

There's Jeongguk, totally unaware of what happened the night before. It strikes him properly for the first time that Jeongguk likes him.

 

Him! Min Yoongi! It sounds like a joke even as he thinks it.

 

Jeongguk spots him. He's the first to speak. “Oh, you're up? Good morning, hyung. I mean, Yoongi-ssi.”

 

Yoongi can't keep his eyes off of Jeongguk. He feels disoriented; a little sick to his stomach. “Hyung,” he croaks. “Don't call me Yoongi-ssi.”

 

Jeongguk gives him a shy, genuine smile, and Yoongi’s stomach twists. He must be the shittiest person alive.

 

He turns around and heads back to his bedroom to wash up. It's too weird to look at Jeongguk right now—the sight of his face triggers a mixture of awe, attraction, and gut-wrenching guilt.

 

He skirts around the kitchen after he's dressed and settles in the living room. Looking at the previous day, he doesn't know how he was so oblivious. He was riding a high, perhaps, so sure that he was on his way to success. Yet even so, how could he not have noticed what he was doing? How could he have so little regard for the people around him?

 

The uncomfortable knowledge that he is well and truly lost drapes over him like a smothering blanket.

 

Yoongi knows exactly whose advice he needs, though the admission thereof is a bitter pill to swallow. Still, he's desperate, so he dials Seokjin and asks if he's free to meet up.

 

They go for coffee together. Once they both have drinks and sit down across from each other, Yoongi's fingers curl around his cup, unsure where to begin. Finally, he says, “Do you see any patterns in my life?”

 

“Patterns?” Seokjin wrinkles his nose thoughtfully. “Like… coffee addiction? Failure to maintain contact with friends and family for days on end? Catastrophic disorganization?”

 

“I'm not that bad,” Yoongi says, rolling his eyes. “That's not what I mean.”

 

“Then what do you mean?”

 

Yoongi takes a sip of his coffee. “Say the universe is punishing me for something. What is it for? How do I redeem myself?”

 

Seokjin sets down his cup and looks him straight in the eye. “Min Yoongi, are you okay?”

 

Not particularly, he thinks, but instead of saying so he shrugs. “I'm about as average as I always am. Just answer the question.”

 

Seokjin takes his time answering. It's one of the many things that Yoongi appreciates about him, the fact that he won't give hasty answers when it's not what Yoongi's asking for. “If you're doing some soul-searching,” Seokjin responds at last, “My best guess is that you're lonely.”

 

“Lonely?” Yoongi says incredulously. “I'm not lonely.” It's kind of a lie—he often is lonely—but it's not what he expected Seokjin to say. That isn't something he wants Seokjin or anyone else to know about him. “How could I be? I've got friends and family. I've got you, too.”

 

“It's not enough,” Seokjin says dismissively. “We can't see each other all the time. You should go out more and meet new people.”

 

Yoongi narrows his eyes. “What are you getting at?”

 

A pained expression flicks across Seokjin's face, as though he doesn't know the best way to put his next thought. He leans forward, blinks, and then says bluntly, “I think you should try dating. A boyfriend could be good for you, if you found someone you like.”

 

“You think the universe wants me to get a boyfriend?” Yoongi sputters. Jeon Jeongguk's face flashes behind his eyelids which is, wow, really uncalled for.

 

“I didn't say that.” Seokjin takes a sip of his drink, calm and collected. “All I said was that a relationship might do you good. Also,” he added, setting down his cup, “I think you're stressed over tonight.”

 

“That's bullshit,” Yoongi mumbles. He thinks of Jeongguk once again, then tries very hard not to think about him, which only leads to thinking about him more.

 

It continues all the way home. Yoongi is still saturated with the shame of what he did to Jeongguk. He wants to apologize a hundred times for something that the other boy doesn't even remember.

 

It's as if his thoughts are an endless cycle of Jeongguk, Jeongguk, Jeongguk. Jeongguk asking if he's okay, agreeing to help him with a random project, sitting in his passenger seat and tearing into Yoongi's self-absorbed comfort zone.

 

He doesn't particularly feel like going to the awards, but it seems better to go than to stay home, so he attends. Nothing is any different than usual except that he's jittery and his conversation with Seokjin plagues him the whole time.

 

It's less fun attending without Jeongguk, he discovers. He misses the younger's company.

 

“Do you have plans for the rest of the night?” Namjoon asks him afterwards, unwinding his tie from around his neck. “Hoseok and I are thinking of going drinking.”

 

Any of the other nights, Yoongi thinks he might have taken Namjoon up on the offer to get smashed. Tonight, though, he has a different plan.

 

Getting into his car and leaning back into the driver's seat, Yoongi finds Jeongguk's number in his contacts. He has it for work reasons, of course, and he knows that Jeongguk told him that they should treat each other only as employer and employee (though he doesn’t remember), but Yoongi can't stop himself. He can't sit back and do nothing.

 

“Hyung?”

 

“Hey, Jeongguk. Are you home right now?”

 

“I just got back from dinner, so yes?”

 

“Great. How do you feel about dessert?”

 

Yoongi can hear Jeongguk's breath hitch. “You mean… with you?”

 

“No, with the muffin man. Of course with me. You in?”

 

“Yeah,” Jeongguk breathes.

 

“Okay, be there in fifteen or less. See you.”

 

Yoongi takes them out for cake at a high-end bakery. He orders tiramisu, and Jeongguk orders chocolate. He subtly asks the waitress to put a candle in Jeongguk's slice but not to make a fuss, and when she brings their cake out, Yoongi smiles at Jeongguk's shocked expression.

 

“Happy birthday.”

 

“How di--”

 

“Seokjin told me.” Yoongi nudges Jeongguk's plate toward him. “Eat up.”

 

The cafe lighting flatters Jeongguk's face; warm, yellow lights drawing out the golden tint of his complexion and the dark sparkle of his eyes. He's beautiful. It's not the first time Yoongi has thought this, yet he finds Jeongguk especially ethereal eating cake and sending Yoongi shy little glances under the warm lights.

 

“Did you have a nice time with your friends?”

 

Jeongguk nods. There's chocolate frosting smudged on the corner of his mouth.

 

“Who did you go with?”

 

“Some friends from school.” Jeongguk still hasn't wiped away the chocolate. “We're in choir together.”

 

“You sing?” Yoongi tilts his head curiously. “I didn't know that.”

 

“I do.” Jeongguk offers a tentative smile. “I used to want to be an idol, but I changed my mind after my friend became a trainee. It was really hard for her.”

 

Yoongi can't help but think that Jeongguk would have made a fantastic idol. “I'd love to hear you sing sometime.”

 

“Oh, no,” Jeongguk insists hurriedly. “I don't sing by myself, really. Just in a choir.”

 

“I still want to hear you.” Yoongi winks at him, grinning. “Invite me to your concert sometime. I'll even bring a poster.”

 

“Don't you dare,” Jeongguk gasps, laughing at the thought. He has a cute laugh. Yoongi wants to hear it again and again.

 

When he can't justify keeping Jeongguk out any longer he drives him home and returns to his apartment.

 

He’s had lots of time for soul-searching that day, and he’s found something so obvious that he can’t think how he’d missed it. He has feelings for Jeongguk--small, but insistent and very much real. Bit by bit, the boy has wormed his way into Yoongi’s heart.

 

He might have thought at the time that he invited Jeongguk with him to the ceremony to help him, but once he considers it, he realizes that his “strategy” was an excuse to spend time with him.

 

Yoongi is a dumb bastard sometimes. Why does he have to realize that he likes Jeongguk only after coming the the understanding that he doesn’t deserve him?

 

Inspiration takes him over at the kitchen counter when he reaches home. His mind spins with Jeongguk's sweet laugh and dark eyelashes and the way he blinks when he's tired, so Yoongi writes that into dips and swells and breathless, suspenseful fermatas till the clock strikes midnight.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (10)

 

At 2:10 AM, Yoongi finds himself searching “how do you know you're in love with someone?” and clicking the first result.

 

He gets a list:

 

  1. Thinking about them all the time. Check.

 

  1. Noticing all their quirks. Check.

 

  1. Not caring about the gross things. Yoongi thinks about the way Jeongguk talks with his mouth full and laughs to himself.

 

  1. Staring at them. Well, yes.

 

  1. Wanting them to be happy. This one gives him pause. He does want Jeongguk to be happy—otherwise why would he have felt so awful over the way he had treated him? Yet Yoongi isn't confident that he can be the one to make Jeongguk happy.

 

Yoongi doesn't entirely believe that a list from the internet can accurately diagnose his life, and he doesn't think he's all the way there yet, but this confirms that the potential is there. The feelings and signs are there.

 

List or not, Yoongi can see himself in weeks or months wanting to care for Jeongguk and giving him his coat when he's cold in the December wind and learning to do his own dishes so that Jeongguk doesn't have to do all his chores.

 

The issue is that Yoongi knows from experience that this is a dark, dark hole to jump down. He's dated plenty of people before; a few girls before he came out of the closest, a few secret boyfriends, a few public boyfriends. None of them worked out well—not disastrously, but not peacefully, either. It was usually his own fault. Yoongi hates to feel dependent, and yet the fact remains that he isn't emotionally self-sufficient. For him, the balance of providing and being provided for, learning how much affection he should give or take is a tricky path to walk. So far, he's failed each and every time.

 

Jeongguk makes him really, really want to not fail. Unfortunately, Yoongi already has.

 

He knows that the younger boy already likes him, though he doesn't know the extent. Yoongi isn't sure how much he can promise him. Is it taking advantage of him to enjoy that love?

 

Perhaps he's just attracted to Jeongguk, plagued by a shallow appreciation of his appearance. After all, he's a very handsome young man.

 

It only takes about 0.3 seconds for Yoongi's mind to point out that that is a big fat lie. He knows lots of handsome men. For example, Jung Hoseok is a very handsome man. Yoongi has no issue recognizing that, but he doesn't randomly have the urge to kiss Hoseok's nose when he smiles. Not that he feels that way about Jeongguk, of course. Definitely not.

 

Yoongi goes back to bed, conflicted. He thinks about this endless day and everything that's in it. He had thought before that the central element was the award, but when he looks back, he realizes he may have been wrong.

 

The more he considers it, the more Yoongi suspects that the main theme is Jeon Jeongguk.

 

 


 

 

“I made coffee,” Jeongguk tells him when he comes into the kitchen in the late morning.

 

Yoongi thanks him and pours himself a cup. It's awkward knowing that Jeongguk doesn't remember anything from their date (if he can call it that?) the night before. How should he treat him now? Instead of speaking he finds himself simply staring, so much so that Jeongguk can't help but notice.

 

“Choir,” Yoongi says finally. “Uh.” He coughs. “Seokjin says you sing in a choir. How is that? And how is school? And your other hobbies?”

 

Yoongi has never made such miserable small talk in his life.

 

Jeongguk is obviously surprised to be asked, but he obliges, telling Yoongi all about his Literature for Elementary Ed class and his men's chorale and the campus's drop-in dance nights that he attends when he has time.

 

Yoongi didn't know that Jeongguk danced. For the second time, he thinks that Jeongguk would have been a good idol. (He's glad he's not, though.)

 

Talking with Jeongguk is like a breath of fresh air. He’s an unusual combination of childishness and maturity that has Yoongi pleasantly amused but not irritated. Yoongi treasures this conversation, appreciates the chance to start over again.

 

It is hard for him, though, knowing that Jeongguk is going to forget every word he says.

 

Seokjin calls him about an hour after Jeongguk leaves. It's the same conversation as it is every other day, but Yoongi is soothed by it nonetheless. He's reminded of what Seokjin had said the day before.

 

Perhaps Seokjin has a point—maybe whatever force or deity is behind all this can see all the way into the darkest parts of Yoongi's heart and is trying to answer a need that Yoongi hasn't even been willing to acknowledge. Maybe the universe is trying to save him. Maybe--and this is becoming a stronger and stronger maybe--the answer to this endless day is Jeon Jeongguk.

 

Trying to fix an award set-up to bring himself glory was nothing but stress and disappointment. In contrast, the idea that his solution lies in the heart of another person is nothing but freeing.

 

Yoongi isn't in the mood to attend the awards. He dreads going for a solid hour before it occurs to him that the ceremony is superfluous. There's no real need for him to go.

 

No, there's something much more important that he has to do.

 

“Happy birthday,” Yoongi says when Jeongguk picks up the phone. “When are you celebrating?”

 

“You know about that, hyung?”

 

“Of course I do. Answer the question.”

 

“I'm going to dinner with some friends, I think? We're going for barbeque?”

 

“Give me the address. I'll be there.”

 

Jeongguk inhales sharply. “You want to come?”

 

“Yes.” Yoongi pops into his bathroom, examining his hair. Does he need a shower? Yeah, probably. “When and where?”

 

Jeongguk gives him the information he needs, so Yoongi hops through the shower, takes longer than he'd admit picking an outfit to wear, and heads out. He still has about an hour to kill before he needs to meet Jeongguk and his friends, but it is a birthday outing, after all. Jeongguk deserves a birthday gift.

 

He's been debating all day as to what he should get. At one point he even considered calling Seokjin to ask what he should do, but that was too embarrassing for him. Then he remembered that Jeongguk has pierced ears—Yoongi hasn't seen him wearing earrings before, but he's seen the holes.

 

He's had no better ideas since, so here he is, browsing the case at a jewelry store. It's hard to know exactly what Jeongguk's taste is, but Yoongi knows what his own taste is, and well, call him selfish, but he's the one who's going to get to look at Jeongguk in these earrings, so.

 

He picks out two pairs; simple black studs and a delicate ring-shaped pair. Not too flashy, slightly edgy. They'll look good.

 

Yoongi has them gift wrapped and drives to the restaurant.

 

“You came!”

 

“Of course I did,” Yoongi mumbles, plopping down in the free seat that Jeongguk left open on his right. “I said I would.”

 

“I didn't mean anything bad,” Jeongguk says quickly. “I'm just glad you're here.”

 

Really glad,” the tall boy on Jeongguk's left says, chuckling when Jeongguk swats at his arm. It takes Yoongi a minute to realize that at least some of these friends must know that Jeongguk likes him. They're teasing him because Yoongi's here. It's a little bit cute, if Yoongi's honest.

 

“Let me introduce you,” Jeongguk says. “Guys, this is Yoongi, my… uh, employer. And friend.” He meets eyes with Yoongi hesitantly on the last word.

 

“Friends, absolutely,” Yoongi agrees, clapping him on the back. Jeongguk shouldn't have to worry about where he stands.

 

“Yoongi, this is Yugyeom--” Jeongguk gestures to the boy on the other side of him. “That's Taemin over there, and Jongin next to him. We're in choir together.”

 

“So this is your music crowd?” Yoongi reaches for a piece of jeon . “When's your next concert? I'd like to come.”

 

“It's in October,” the one Jeongguk introduced as Taemin responds. “You're the composer friend, right?”

 

“That's me,” Yoongi agrees. “I write movie scores.”

 

The conversation stays relatively light, probably because they aren't drinking—Yoongi, Yugyeom, and Jongin all have to drive home, and it's early for soju, anyway. He gets along well with Jeongguk's friends, even if he is older, and dinner flies by.

 

He still has yet to give Jeongguk his gift.

 

“You want me to take you home?” Yoongi asks once they pay.

 

“Is it too much trouble?”

 

“You only live a couple blocks away,” Yoongi shrugs—not that he would mind taking Jeongguk home anyway.

 

He holds the door open for Jeongguk in the parking lot.

 

“Thanks for the ride, hyung.”

 

“No need to thank me.”

 

They're quiet at first. Yoongi likes that about Jeongguk—he's not painfully reserved, but he's not loud, either. He talks the exact right amount, and he knows when to speak.

 

“Yoongi?”

 

“Mhmm.”

 

“This isn't the way to my house.”

 

“I know.”

 

Jeongguk clears his throat awkwardly. “You're not, like… kidnapping me or anything?”

 

“No promises,” Yoongi chuckles.

 

He takes them to a park along the Han river. He loves the view here—city lights sparkling over the water—and he hopes that Jeongguk will too.

 

They cross the lawn over to the platform that looks out over the river. Yoongi watches Jeongguk taking in the sights and thinks that he wants to spend many more evenings like this.

 

“Hey.” Yoongi tugs his gift out of his pocket, takes Jeongguk's hand, and pressed the wrapped box into his palm. “Happy birthday.”

 

“You got me a gift?” Jeongguk's chin wobbles. “That's… wow.”

 

“Open it.”

 

Jeongguk is neat gift-opener. He doesn't just rip the paper off, but painstakingly peels back the tape so that he can slide the box out with the wrapping fully intact. It drives Yoongi slightly crazy, waiting for him, but he forces himself to be patient.

 

Oh. I love them, hyung.”

 

Yoongi lets out a silent sigh of relief. Thank God. “You should try them.”

 

Jeongguk picks the hoops, unhooking them from the box and pushing them into his piercings. “How do they look?”

 

“Stunning.” Yoongi pauses, then adds. “You're stunning.”

 

“W-what?” Jeongguk blinks back, flustered.

 

“You're stunning. Don't make me say it again.” Yoongi rolls his eyes. It's time, now. He's feeling jittery, but he's got to say it sometime if he ever wants this time loop to end. “I like you, Jeongguk.”

 

Jeongguk's hand grasps at the railing on the edge of the platform. “I'm sorry, I-I… what? I think I might have misheard.”

 

“You didn't mishear me. I like you. As in, I want to take you out on a date tomorrow. Be your boyfriend, if you're okay with that.”

 

Jeongguk stares. Then, very slowly, he pinches himself hard. He winces. “I'm not dreaming,” he says hesitantly. “God. Um. I don't know what to say.”

 

“Hopefully, you're going to say yes,” Yoongi supplies, shifting from one foot to another. Had he misunderstood Jeongguk's feelings?

 

A smile blooms on Jeongguk's face, morphing from disbelief into joy. “If you're not teasing me, then yes. Yes, yes, I'd love to!”

 

“Oh, thank fuck,” Yoongi rushes out, rubbing at his forehead. “You had me worried I was barking up the wrong tree for a minute there.”

 

“No,” Jeongguk bursts out, still smiling. “I like you too! A lot. Too much? But I didn't want to get ahead of myself. I was afraid I was interpreting things wrong because of how I feel.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head, then holds out his hand. “You're not.” Jeongguk takes it. “Anywhere you want to go for that date?”

 

“Surprise me,” Jeongguk says, cheeks flushed.

 

Yoongi drops Jeongguk off at his home and drives back to his apartment. He finally checks his phone to find about ten messages from Namjoon—all various forms of where the fuck have you been?

 

Yoongi doesn't care in the slightest. He gets in bed, giddy, with his music drafts in his hands just in case, but he's hoping for a new tomorrow.

 

He has a date to go on, after all.

 

 


 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (11)

 

Yoongi is more crushed than ever to wake up to another rendition of September 1st. He switches from the bedroom to the couch to escape the noise his neighbors are making. He doesn't turn off his alarm. Admittedly, it's because he wants to see Jeongguk.

 

It's weird to see him after the night before and know that he doesn't remember any of it—not his confession, not his gift, nothing. The knowledge hurts, sort of.

 

“Hi,” Yoongi greets him, leaning against the counter. He can smell the coffee brewing on the other side of the sink.

 

“Hello, Yoongi-ssi.”

 

Yoongi's face folds into a frown, bothered by the formality. “No need for honorifics,” he says. “It's hyung. Call me Yoongi-hyung.”

 

“Okay, Yoongi-hyung,” Jeongguk agrees, flicking a trash bag open.

 

That's wrong, too. Jeongguk shouldn't be cleaning up after him. Without thinking Yoongi stalks over and grabs it out of his hands. “You don't need to do that,” he grits out, aggressively stuffing it into the can and folding over the edges.

 

Jeongguk watches him, mouth slightly open. “Uh… it's my job?” He blinks. “Is there something else you want me to do instead?”

 

Yoongi freezes for a split second. He'd momentarily forgotten that Jeongguk is here because he's his employee.

 

“Uh,” Yoongi says. “No. You're fine.” He picks up the full trash bag to be discarded. “I just want to get some fresh air! That's all. Too much time cooped up inside, you know.” He makes a dramatic gesture with one of his hands, nearly flinging the trash bag across the kitchen. “I'll just take this to the dumpster.”

 

“Okay, hyung,” Jeongguk says dubiously, but he lets Yoongi go without further complaint.

 

Yoongi takes the bag down all the flights of stairs and winds around to the dumpsters at the back of the building. It's not easy to lift it all the way over the high edge, but with some huffing and puffing, he gets it inside.

 

“Damn,” he gasps, squatting to recover for a minute. Jeongguk does a lot on a daily basis. He’s the true MVP.

 

He takes the elevator back up to his apartment.

 

Jeongguk is doing dishes when he walks back inside. Yoongi knows he should let him do his job—he's probably already confused him to no end—but standing around while Jeongguk does his chores just makes him so angry .

 

Striding over, he takes the sponge out of Jeongguk's hands. “I'll wash. You dry.”

 

“But--”

 

“No buts.”

 

They work in silence for a time, Yoongi trying to release his stress by aggressively scrubbing a stubborn pan (why had he let this congeal in the sink for six days?).

 

Jeongguk laughs suddenly. “You know what this feels like? Back when we both lived at home, my brother and I would do the dinner dishes together and sing A Whole New World together as we worked.”

 

That's unexpected. Yoongi chortles. “Who was Aladdin and who was Jasmine?”

 

“My range is higher. I usually did Jasmine.” Jeongguk grins and shakes his head. “We watched a lot of Disney in my house growing up. My mom bought the English versions because she thought it would improve our English.”

 

“Did it?”

 

“Nah.” Jeongguk chuckles. “I didn't understand much of the dialogue. I just liked following the fairy tales and singing along in gibberish.”

 

The knowledge that Jeongguk enjoys fairy tales is grossly endearing. “Nice.”

 

“Would you write a sing-along soundtrack?”

 

Yoongi whips his head around, offended. What kind of composer does Jeongguk think he is--

 

Jeongguk is snickering, both his hands gripped around the edge of a plate as he doubles over in laughter. “Your face!

 

“I'm classically trained,” Yoongi sniffs, trying not to give Jeongguk the satisfaction of seeing him smile. “I don't do sing-alongs.

 

“Lame.”

 

Yoongi grabs the other towel sitting on the counter and smacks Jeongguk's butt with it. “You need a better appreciation for real soundtracks.”

 

Jeongguk opens his mouth, as if there's a mirthful comeback on the tip of his tongue, then quickly shuts it like he's just remembered the position he's in. “Yes. Well. Maybe you're right.”

 

Yoongi doesn't like that at all. He doesn't want Jeongguk to feel awkward with him. He shuts off the water and dries his hands even though they're only halfway through. “You should go home,” he says. This is too weird, starting over from square one when Yoongi remembers every second of their conversation the day before.

 

Jeongguk protests, but Yoongi ignores him and all but shoves him out the door. He really can't deal with this right now.

 

It's a relief when Jeongguk finally leaves.

 

The image of him doing dishes and singing a joyful, slapdash duet with his brother is plastered in Yoongi's mind. He wants that, too; he wants pleasant evenings and simple chores brightened simply by the gift of Jeongguk's presence.

 

There's something else that's sticking out to him, too.

 

Fairytales. The topic is bothering him, pulling at the edges of his consciousness. It's funny, really; from a bird's eye view it's like he's living through a bad one himself. Min Yoongi, stuck in a time loop until he finds true love's kiss.

 

True love's kiss??

 

Oh, fucking him, of course that's the answer. The universe hates him with a passion so it only makes sense that the way out of this mess is for him to kiss Jeongguk.

 

But how could he do that without making it weird? He only has 24 hours—at least from Jeongguk's perspective—to develop their relationship from acquaintances to lovers. Surely there's no way he can get Jeongguk to kiss him in that time.

 

There's no way that's right. He's being ridiculous.

 

Yet the more he thinks about it, the less ridiculous it seems. Why wouldn't the solution be dramatic and difficult? It's a challenge, of sorts, and Yoongi'll be damned before he steps down from that.

 

He makes up his mind. Mission: kiss Jeon Jeongguk (consensually!) (without making it creepy!).

 

Yoongi seats himself on the couch with a notepad to brainstorm.

 

Option 1: Invite Jeongguk to play the Pocky game and “accidentally” slip up.

 

That's not too obvious, is it?

 

No, it's disgustingly obvious. Yoongi cringes and crosses that one off.

 

Option 2: Trip down the stairs, knock Jeongguk over, and fall on top of him, kissing him in the process.

 

Option 3: Feed him something with whipped cream, wait for him to inevitably get it all over his lips, then clean it off. With your mouth.

 

Option 4: Pretend to be drunk and clingy.

 

Option 5: Save Jeongguk from drowning and execute mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

 

Somehow, Yoongi is getting the feeling that these are all pretty shitty ideas. He crumples the page and throws it away, frustrated. This is not going very smoothly.

 

What if it doesn't have to be a full kiss? Perhaps he can get away with a cheek kiss.

 

It's worth a try, anyway.

 

Yoongi checks his phone to find Taehyung's text from that morning waiting for him.

 

He stares at it for a minute. It's been eleven days, and he's only realizing now that he's never so much as taken the time to wonder if Taehyung is okay.

 

He hits Call.

 

“Yoongi? What's going on?”

 

“You canceled our appointment this morning. Is everything okay?” Taehyung is his agent, but also Yoongi's friend. He regrets that he hasn't had the sense to treat him as such.

 

“Uh,” Taehyung says. “It… actually, no. My boyfriend Jimin took a bad fall the other day and broke his collarbone. I've been in the hospital all day.”

 

Jimin. It sounds sort of familiar; he didn't remember that Taehyung was in a relationship, but he thinks he's heard the name before. Probably that's something that Yoongi should have known. “Can I do anything for you? I'm free right now.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Can you maybe pick up some food for me? Jimin's in a lot of pain and he's sick of hospital food, and I'd rather stay with him if I can.”

 

“Absolutely. What would you like?”

 

Taehyung tells him he'll reimburse him, but Yoongi has no intention of letting him pay him back for the noodles he buys. Parking at the hospital, he takes the food straight up.

 

“Thank you,” Taehyung gushes, taking the bag from his hands. He looks exhausted. Yoongi wonders how much he's been sleeping. “I'm sorry about this morning.”

 

“It's fine.” Yoongi wants to apologize for not asking after him sooner, but that wouldn't make any sense to Taehyung.

 

“Would you like to meet Jimin? He's awake right now.”

 

Taehyung's boyfriend is a pretty man with his arm in a sling. His eyes light up at the sight of the food. “How--”

 

“Yoongi brought it. He's my client.”

 

“Oh, Min Yoongi?” Jimin smiles. “Nice to meet you. I'd offer to shake your hand, but...”

 

“No worries.” Yoongi glances at the gigantic cast. “How did you break it?”

 

Jimin grimaces. “During dance. One of our stunts went horribly wrong.”

 

Jesus. He glances at Taehyung, whose face looks tight. “Jimin's a professional dancer,” he tells Yoongi.

 

Yoongi thinks about the months of rehab and physical therapy that are in store for Jimin and feels a rush of sympathy. “Let me know if there's anything else I can do for either of you, okay?”

 

“Thanks, Yoongi. You're a real friend.”

 

He's not sure if he deserves Taehyung's smile, but he returns it.

 

Yoongi attends the awards that night as is proper, but he thinks of Jeongguk the whole time. He hopes that he's enjoying his dinner with his friends and savoring every bit of his birthday.

 

He's anxious to go when the ceremony ends, rushing Namjoon and Hoseok out to the limo. “What's got you in such a hurry?” Hoseok teases, but Yoongi just shakes his head.

 

He calls Jeongguk the minute they reach Namjoon's house. “Hey. Are you at dinner?”

 

“Hi, hyung.” Yoongi can hear the clatter of the restaurant in the background and breathes a sigh of relief. “I am. How did you know?”

 

Yoongi brushes off the question. “Want a ride home? I can take you.”

 

“Are you sure--”

 

“Yes. Wait for me.” Yoongi hangs up and heads to his car.

Minutes later, it occurs to him that he should ask Jeongguk for the address, just so he doesn't seem like a creep. He's already on his way, so he sends a quick text. The sound of his phone buzzing soon after tells him that he's got a reply.

 

Jeongguk is waiting outside when he arrives. Yoongi rolls down the window. “Get in.”

 

“Did you have fun?” Yoongi asks as he pulls into the street.

 

“Yeah,” Jeongguk says. “Were you in the neighborhood?”

 

Not quite, but it's a white lie. “Yeah.”

 

“How did you know I was at dinner?”

 

Uh. “Lucky guess,” Yoongi replies. He keeps his eyes glued to the road and hopes that Jeongguk won't comment.

 

He doesn't. It's a quiet drive back to Jeongguk's house; when they arrive, Yoongi turns off the car. It's now or never.

 

“Hear me out for a minute,” Yoongi says. The universe is probably laughing at him for having to confess over and over again. “I really like you, Jeongguk. That's why I called tonight. Will you give me a chance?”

 

“Like me? As in… as a boyfriend?” Jeongguk looks at him, wide-eyed.

 

“Yes, as a boyfriend.” Yoongi scratches at his head, uncomfortable. “To go on dates, etc. Hold hands. That kind of thing.”

 

Jeongguk's face lights up. “Yes! Yes! Of course I will!” He smiles so hard his face looks like it might split in half.

 

“Can I pick you up for a date tomorrow, then?”

 

Jeongguk's eyes sparkle. “You may.”

 

“Okay.” Yoongi clears his throat. He can't help but smile, too. “Good night, then. See you tomorrow.”

 

“Good night.” Jeongguk lingers for a moment, then begins to get out of the car.

 

“Wait!” Yoongi's almost forgotten the most important part. “Just--” He leans over, quick as a flash, grasps at Jeongguk's face, and pecks his cheek. “Sweet dreams.”

 

Jeongguk's mouth opens and closes for several seconds without a single word coming out. Yoongi suddenly finds the heating and cooling controls extremely interesting.

 

“Night,” Jeongguk breathes, and then he's gone.

 

Yoongi goes straight to bed when he gets back, holding his score in his hand and praying that he'll wake up on a Sunday. He's done enough, hasn't he?

 

He can't quite sleep. Instead of drifting off, he tosses and turns for nearly an hour, only managing to fall asleep at the stroke of midnight.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Saturday, September 1 st , 2018 (12)

 

It's still the same day when he wakes up. Yoongi is less torn up and more resigned.

 

He knows what it means: a cheek kiss isn't good enough. It has to be a full-on lip lock.

 

Well, so be it then. If he has to do it, he's going to make it good.

 

He sets an alarm early enough that he can be showered and dressed by the time Jeongguk arrives, so that when the younger walks into Yoongi's apartment at 8:30 AM sharp, Yoongi is clean, shaved and waiting on the sofa with his legs crossed.

 

“Come on,” he tells Jeongguk, shooing him away from the cleaning supplies. “I'm taking you out.”

 

“You are?” Jeongguk cranes his neck around him, trying to grab the trash bags. “But my job--”

 

“I'm your employer,” Yoongi says, smirking. “It's up to me to tell you what you're doing to earn your salary.”

 

Yoongi takes Jeongguk to breakfast at a cozy family restaurant in the neighborhood. “This one is my mom's favorite,” he tells Yoongi shyly. Yoongi responds that his mom has good taste.

 

He calls Taehyung, and Jeongguk helps him bring lunch for Taehyung and Jimin. Jeongguk is appropriately sympathetic to Jimin. They chat about dancing together and eventually exchange numbers.

 

Next he takes Jeongguk to a movie, because he's not good at date ideas that don't involve food (not that Jeongguk necessarily knows this is a date). He lets Jeongguk pick the film, and he seems to like it, so it's good enough for Yoongi.

 

“This music is trash,” he whispers in Jeongguk's ear halfway through.

 

Jeongguk laughs. “Shut up,” he whispers back.

 

They go for lunch, and then to the mall, because Yoongi is getting desperate for excuses to keep doing things and he insists that he needs socks. They get distracted at the department store, because Jeongguk lights up and exclaims that there's a secret frozen yogurt cafe on the third floor that no one knows about and is way better than the one at the food court.

 

By the time they actually get around to buying socks, it's time for dinner.

 

Jeongguk invites Yoongi to come with him and his friends, and he accepts, of course. It's as fun as it was previously. Yoongi is beginning to suspect that he simply likes spending time with Jeongguk.

 

On the way home, Yoongi wishes that he'd come up with a better game plan for the day.

 

It's evening now and though they've spent the whole day together, he's not any closer to kissing Jeongguk than he was that morning.

 

He's got no good ideas. There's no way he's going to just walk up to him and kiss him—besides, would that constitute 'true love's kiss' anyway? Probably not.

 

“Hey, hyung,” Jeongguk says as they pull up to a red light. “Thank you for taking me out. I hope we can do this again sometime?” Yoongi risks a look at Jeongguk's face; he's earnest, sweet. “I like spending time with you.”

 

The light turns green, but Yoongi barely figures out how to hit the gas pedal and cross the intersection, because suddenly he realizes. He's the dumbest man alive.

 

He pulls into a parking lot, makes a U-Turn, and heads back in the opposite direction.

 

“Where are we going?”

 

“Home,” Yoongi says. His home. They're going to sit down and talk this out, because Jeon Jeongguk deserves the fucking world and the least Yoongi can give him is the truth. “There's something I need to tell you.”

 

They sit down at Yoongi's tiny dining table across from each other. Jeongguk looks expectant, slightly concerned. Nervousness tingles in Yoongi's veins. He has no idea how Jeongguk is going to react. “I'm not sure exactly where to start,” he admits, fingers tapping anxiously on the tabletop.

 

Jeongguk reaches across the surface of the table to rest his hand on Yoongi's arm in an unexpected gesture of comfort. “How about the beginning?”

 

Yoongi can do that.

 

He starts with the first day, relating the events, his feelings, his surprise as he moved in the second only to find that he'd begun all over again. He tells Jeongguk about his confusion, his belief that he was dreaming, his struggle to find a way out. He tells him about their own interactions—playing the piano together, Jeongguk making him coffee, inviting him to his birthday. He tells him with a shaking voice about hitting and killing a motorcyclist. About thinking he should take revenge on Yongguk and enlisting Jeongguk as his accomplice without so much as a thought for his feelings. Yoongi fears to find anger or disappointment in Jeongguk's expression at that, but one look across the table shows him none. He continues.

 

Yoongi has half a mind to leave out his slow fall for Jeongguk, but he's committed himself to honesty, so he relates that too in humiliating detail. Now that he's telling the whole story, he sees that the threads of it that trace back to the beginning. He himself doesn't know where his feelings begin and end.

 

Finally, Yoongi tells Jeongguk that he's certain that he is the key to all this—and to solve everything, they need to kiss.

 

“Would you do that for me?” he says quietly. “You don't have to make any commitment to me. I can't blame you if you don't want to. You don't even have to believe me.”

 

Jeongguk's expression is mostly unreadable, only hints of concern and wonder lurking in the crease of his eyes. “You're right,” he says. “I'm not sure that I believe you.”

 

Yoongi can't blame him, but he feels the disappointment all the same.

 

“It's tricky to be confronted with something magical or supernatural all at once and subscribe to that with no way to prove it,” Jeongguk continues. “So it's hard to believe your story. What I can tell you, though, is that I trust you. Whether it's true or not, it's obvious that you've experienced something large and that you mean what you say.” Jeongguk purses his lips. “I think… I think it doesn't matter whether it's true or not. I'll help you.”

 

“Thank you,” Yoongi says. He wants to be endlessly grateful, but the joy is inhibited by the fact that he's alienated Jeongguk. It was the right thing to do to tell him, but he fears that by doing so he might have lost Jeongguk forever. All he's going to get is one kiss.

 

It's going to have to be good enough.

 

Awkwardly, Jeongguk scoots his chair around the table so that he's next to Yoongi. They stare at each other in the silence of the kitchen.

 

“You don't have to,” Yoongi whispers. “Not if you feel obligated to. Not—not if you feel pressure.”

 

“No, hyung,” Jeongguk murmurs. “I'm selfish. I'm doing it because I want you.” He clamors off of his seat and onto Yoongi's lap, letting their breath mingle for a few long, painful seconds before he leans in.

 

It's an innocent caress at first, which is all it has to be, all Yoongi is going to let it be, but Jeongguk winds his legs around him, brings his hands up to rest on Yoongi's jaw and nudges Yoongi's lips apart.

 

The dam breaks.

 

Yoongi tugs them up in a flash, dragging Jeongguk over to the nearest wall and pressing him back into it. He tilts his head, licking deeper into Jeongguk's mouth, rougher now. His hands find Jeongguk's, moving them away from his face and winding their fingers together tightly. Jeongguk groans, which has Yoongi going sloppy, tugging at his upper lip, his thumbs stroking over the back of Jeongguk's hands.

 

It's enough, but Jeongguk isn't pulling away, so Yoongi doesn't either. The kiss transforms from rough to languid, their movements slowing down. Yoongi savors every second, tries to memorize what Jeongguk's hands feel like grasped in his own and the way their lips mesh against one another. He never wants to forget it.

 

They can't kiss forever, so all too soon, Jeongguk pulls away, red cheeked and wide-eyed. He rests his forehead against Yoongi's.

 

“Sorry,” Yoongi whispers.

 

“For what?”

 

“For—for doing more than I had to. For taking advantage of you. For loving you.” He chokes up for a second. “I'm a horrible person and a terrible friend. I don't look out for others around me the way I should. I mess up all the time.”

 

“Don't say that,” Jeongguk pleads.

 

“It’s true.” Yoongi’s voice cracks. “I use people. I forget to ask people what’s going on. I say things I regret. I get so distracted that I can do something as horrid as hit someone with my car.”

 

“Don’t talk like that,” Jeongguk repeats. “Please.” To Yoongi's utter surprise, he grips Yoong's chin and connects their lips again briefly. “When I said I want you, I meant it.”

 

“What did you mean?” Yoongi asks, half-afraid to hear the answer.

 

“That I want to do this again. Go on more dates. Spend more time with you. Have permission to kiss you any day of the week.” He's crying, Yoongi notices suddenly. There's a teardrop dangling from the edge of his nose. “You're not perfect, but neither am I, and most importantly, you care about growing better. I love that. I want you and all your baggage, Yoongi. I want to know it all.”

 

“You don't know what you're saying. I’m telling you, I’m not a good person.” Yoongi wants nothing more than to accept what Jeongguk is telling him but cares too much about him to let him get too close.

 

“I do know.” Jeongguk manages a watery smile. “I liked you the first time we met. I like how you take care of people in ways you hope they won't notice. I like the way your devotion is absolute. I like the way that you learn from your mistakes. I fell in love with you a little more every time I pressed Seokjin for more information, when he told me about your love for your work and your family and your commitment to speaking your mind. And the more I know about you, the more I love you.” His hand rests on Yoongi’s temple. “You’re not a bad person, hyung. Trust me. You’re not .”

 

Yoongi's face crumples, and he has to fight back tears of his own. “I can't understand.”

 

“Neither can I. But I think you're right, Yoongi. The universe wants us to be together.”

 

Yoongi brings him a tissue box and a glass of water. He has no idea if it's worked, but he prays that it has. He wants so much to save this moment.

 

“Can I stay over?” Jeongguk asks suddenly. “I want to wait till midnight with you.”

 

“Please,” Yoongi says. “Please do.”

 

They watch Dandelion Wishes together on Yoongi's sofa, Jeongguk's head resting in his lap. Yoongi strokes Jeongguk's hair, only half paying attention to the movie. It ends at 11:54, and the room goes black when Yoongi shuts the TV off.

 

Jeongguk takes his hand. “Don't be nervous.”

 

“How can I not be?” Yoongi squeezes his fingers. “What if I was wrong? What if you forget?”

 

“So what?” Jeongguk says. “It doesn't matter. I'll love you again whether the next day is today or tomorrow.”

 

Yoongi kisses his forehead. “I still don't want to lose today.”

 

“Neither do I,” Jeongguk admits, soft as a breath.

 

They watch the clock tick from 11:57 to 11:58.

 

“Will you teach me to play the piano again tomorrow, so I can remember this time?”

 

“Any day you want.”

 

“Will you make me hot cocoa?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Will you kiss me again?”

 

“I'll do it right now.” Yoongi bends down and pecks his lips. Jeongguk's lips tremble underneath his. “Will you sing for me?”

 

“Someday.” Jeongguk smiles.

 

11:59.

 

This is it.

 

The second hand passes the 9, steadily approaching midnight.

 

“I think I love you, Jeon Jeongguk,” Yoongi says, and then closes his eyes and braces himself.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Sunday, September 2 nd , 2018 (1)

 

“It's past midnight,” Jeongguk whispers.

 

Yoongi dares to open his eyes. He scrambles for his phone, desperate to know.

 

“Jeongguk,” he says, his voice choked. “It's September 2nd.”

 

He weeps into his hands, and Jeongguk holds him tight.

 

“It’s okay, hyung. You made it.”

 

When he stops crying and is able to look Jeongguk in the eye, he shakes his head. “I can’t believe it took me living the same day twelve times to realize I loved you.”

 

“Me either,” Jeongguk says. “But it seems to me that it only took you one.”

 

 


 

 

Late on Sunday afternoon, a new story hits the news: the Seoul Film Awards were subject to tampering. It turns out that one of the panel members confessed the truth of what had happened, explaining that the awards were originally supposed to go to Dandelion Wishes and a well-directed spy movie (Yoongi agrees; that was certainly one of the year’s top films).

 

The awards that went to The Gangnam Game are revoked and all those involved are discredited. They aren't re-distributed, but at least it's something.

 

Regardless, Yoongi is suddenly getting press.

 

He and Jeongguk went grocery shopping together in the afternoon and Jeongguk is about to teach him how to make proper jjigae; he gets a call while Jeongguk is in the bathroom.

 

It's the producer he's been dying to work with. He wants Yoongi for his next production—a quiet romance movie set in the countryside. Yoongi accepts immediately.

 

“You'll never believe who just called,” he says when Jeongguk returns.

 

“Try me.”

 

After dinner, Yoongi takes Jeongguk out to pick a birthday present. “I already bought you one, but you lost it in the time loop. This time you can choose.”

 

Jeongguk picks a portable keyboard. “I want to learn to sing and play the piano,” he says shyly. “You'll throw lessons into the deal, right?”

 

“Sure, but there'll be a charge,” Yoongi deadpans. “At least two kisses an hour. I don't work for less.”

 

Jeongguk smacks his arm in the middle of the music store.

 

 

 


 

 

 

“Is this what you've been working on?” Jeongguk asks, picking up one of the sheets on his nightstand.

 

“It's my latest project,” Yoongi confirms.

 

“What's it for? Your next movie.”

 

“No.” Yoongi hesitates. “I think… I think it's for you.”

 

“You wrote a piece of music for me?"

 

“You inspired me.” Yoongi shrugs.

 

Jeongguk licks his lips, staring. “I cannot believe you're my boyfriend.”

 

Yoongi loves that sound of that. “I'll remind you, then.” He removes the score from Jeongguk's hand, pushes him to the bed, and kisses him.

 

“Play it for me sometime,” Jeongguk requests against his lips.

 

“As soon as I finish,” Yoongi promises.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Sunday, September 1 st , 2019 (1)

 

Yoongi wakes up at 10:17 AM with Jeongguk in his arms. He shakes Jeongguk awake, ignoring his irritated protests.

 

“Happy birthday, sweetheart.”

 

“Ugh.” Jeongguk jabs at his stomach. “Some kind of birthday present this is. Let me sleep.” He rolls over, burying his face in his pillow.

 

After a long moment, he turns back over. “Happy anniversary.”

 

“Technically, we first got together on the tenth day.”

 

Jeongguk raises a sleepy eyebrow. “I’m still not totally convinced you didn’t make the whole thing up as a ploy to date me.”

 

“And if I did?”

 

Jeongguk pokes him in the shoulder. “You’re lucky that I like you.”

 

“Agreed.” Yoongi pulls him close until his head rests against his chest. “I’m the luckiest man in the world. And the blindest. But mostly the happiest.”

 

“Actually, you’re the sappiest.”

 

“Maybe I am.”

 

This is a morning, Yoongi thinks, that he wouldn’t mind having to repeat a thousand times.