Actions

Work Header

very much like the moon

Work Text:

*

there’s still a lot we don’t know about anxiety disorders, but there’s research which suggests it can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. sometimes there’s a trigger. sometimes there just… isn’t.

so these pills are going to fix the imbalance? i’m gonna be better?

medication helps, but it won’t cure you, jungkook. a lot of this recovery process is also about unlearning intrusive patterns in your mentality, in the way you view yourself and the world around you. perhaps, because of your anxiety, you tell yourself that you’re incapable of dealing with those things, so much that you’ve convinced yourself that’s the truth. i want to help you feel in control. to be able to make an informed judgement: how many good things will you miss out on if you’re not prepared to take risks?

even going out for groceries feels like a risk most days. talking to people, going to classes… it’s really hard. i do it, most of the time, but sometimes i can’t. it’s too much.

would you say you actively confront those risks? or do you push through on adrenaline and blind panic?

… the second option.

in your session with your gp, you said you weren’t sleeping properly.

that’s right.

why can’t you sleep?

i’m scared.

what are you scared of, jungkook?

reality is difficult but at least i can control it, or… push through it. but, my dreams…

do you have bad dreams?

no.

no? then what scares you about them?

i’m scared that if i fall asleep and i dream enough, i won’t want to wake up.

 

*

 

there’s a tiny kitchen on the second floor of the music department: it’s set away into the corner furthest from the lift and closest to the stairwell, which means it’s generally the quietest place in the building. jungkook likes to have a moment to himself after his extracurricular, somewhere peaceful he can take his meds, drink a hot cup of tea with honey to help with the sandy feeling in his throat he’s got from singing so early in the morning, and wait for jimin to finish up his own lesson so they can head to the dance studio together.  

neither of them are majoring in singing or dancing or, actually, anything to do with either - jimin spends most nights in the library nowadays, suffering through his masters in what seems to be mostly incomprehensible mathematics, and jungkook spends his own evenings regretting his decision to joint honours japanese and english without sufficiently advanced knowledge of either and also losing his will to live, the latter of which he would literally rather die than disclose to his therapist. all the forums say it gets easier after the first few weeks. he’s on his second month of meds - he just has to wait it out. 

it’s not like he’s sad, or can’t get out of bed like jimin sometimes can’t. it’s just that - well. everything is embarrassing. his skin doesn’t fit right. he feels sick all of the time. 

he’s exhausted before he even gets to dance because he’s not sleeping properly, and when he does sleep it’s for so long and at such random times that he’s had to start setting multiple alarms for his meds and meals and classes. social engagements aren’t even in his current frame of mind, apart from taehyung and jimin frogmarching him back to their apartment to eat and play a few rounds of overwatch. he hasn’t played his turn at words with friends for a fortnight and nayeon keeps sending him nudges to remind him of it. he can’t get through a whole iu song without wanting to cry. it’s not like it wasn’t bad before the meds, and it’s not like it’s worse with them, because it isn’t. it just sucks in a different way. 

it’s currently eight fifteen on a friday morning and he’s sat on the kitchen floor, chin propped on his knees and face partially hidden in the collar of his hoodie. it’s been a long week, but there’s a sense of unfocused-calm-before-the-storm in him today. with his nose pressed into the fresh detergent smell of clean fabric, tucked beneath a windowsill, it feels as though the late october sunlight streaming in through the glass above his head is filtering the bad energy from the room. it feels like he’s suspended in a liminal space where his many obligations aren’t so worrying. 

he’s got half his mind on the prospect of going back to bed after english finishes at one thirty. the other half is kind of absently scrolling down his instagram feed as he waits for the kettle to boil, liking the influx of taehyung ft. yeontan pictures he missed overnight and humming warm up scales because they always get stuck in his head. he’s so out of it he doesn’t even notice the door opening - he’s getting really into his muffled rendition of the harmonic minor scale - so completely phased, in fact, that it takes the ringing clatter of a teaspoon hitting the floor in front of him to snap him back to his body and shatter the moment.

his g sharp cuts off abruptly, in a manner jungkook would raise his hand in class before admitting sounds almost exactly like the air being released from a balloon. he looks up to find a man staring at him. 

jungkook stares right back, owl eyed, heartbeat pulsing. 

after a short pause, the man ducks to retrieve the spoon.

“sorry,” says the man, turning to pour boiled water into his mug, and then runs cold water from the tap into the leftover space, using a clean teaspoon to stir the liquid. his blond fringe is slightly too long - when he blinks down at jungkook again, a small feather of hair sticks to his eyelashes. he has the word ‘dream’ printed across the back of his khaki jacket. he’s awash in buttery sunlight and looks like he’s been awake for a very long time. “i didn’t mean to startle you.”

“that’s okay, i’ve made weirder noises in front of strangers,” is somehow what jungkook’s frazzled brain pushes to the front of the sentence queue. the man leans back against the counter. jungkook looks at the opposite wall for a long moment, and then pulls his hood up, tugging the strings so that only his eyes are visible. “let’s just. ignore the last thirty seconds.”

the man is watching him over the top of his mug. his round face is carefully passive, but his nose is ever so slightly crinkled like he’s trying his best not to smile. “i don’t know if i can do that.”

jungkook loosens the strings so that his face is visible again and squints at him. “any last words?”

the man chokes halfway through a mouthful - some of the liquid escapes the tight line of his lips and jungkook can see it’s black coffee - and he has to spit what he hasn’t swallowed back in the mug. an extensive supply of jokes come to mind immediately, but jungkook digs his fingertips into his own thigh to stop himself from sticking his proverbial foot in his mouth. the man sets the mug down heavily on the counter beside him, laughing as he swipes the cuff of his jacket across his chin. he doesn’t seem mad.

jungkook smiles tentatively. the man mirrors it, wide and gummy. it transforms his face from severe to sweet in a split second.

“i really haven’t slept enough to be part of this conversation.”

“the embarrassment had to cancel itself out somehow,” the man says wryly. 

jungkook snickers; the man throws jungkook’s forgotten tea bag at him with accuracy so remarkable that it bounces off his forehead. “hey, rude.”

“you just threatened to end my life because you squeaked in front of me. i think we’re good.”

“i didn’t squeak!” jungkook argues, higher than he’d like.

“oh, my apologies,” the man replies, tone dry as dust. “you just threatened to end my life because you impersonated a dying animal in front of me -“

“you’re so rude."

“i’m not rude, i’m yoongi.”

jungkook huffs as he clambers up from his position on the floor; finds he’s taller than yoongi by a few inches, and definitely not only because his boots have a thickish sole. finds he suddenly has an excess of floaty energy that even dance might not get rid of. yoongi is watching him again with those dark, tired, pretty eyes; with one of those flashes of insight that sometimes comes with meeting someone you just know you’re going to like a lot, jungkook thinks yoongi has probably been waiting for a chance to use that joke on someone. the idea makes him want to bounce on his heels like a child.

if he was less anxious just, like, as a human person - he might push his hands into the front pocket of his hoodie. he might smirk. he might raise his eyebrows slightly, tip his hip out a little. he might say something smooth like “do you want to find some better coffee?” if he had any confidence in interacting with attractive men with gummy smiles and overlong hair and bad jokes and jeans much too tight for the early hour, or, to be honest, with anyone, he’d think there might be a chance of yoongi saying yes.

as it is, he finds himself suddenly unable to look yoongi in the face. the prospect of conversing any further, of yoongi finding out exactly how uncool he is - it’s scary.

“jungkook. and, uh. i have to. go?”

“oh,” says yoongi. “sure.”

“dance,” jungkook adds, like he isn’t going to hide somewhere else and circle back around for jimin in thirty minutes. “i have to go dance.”

yoongi hums. “okay.” in jungkook’s periphery, he sees yoongi take a sip of his coffee. his eyes are still intent on jungkook.

“okay,” jungkook says, and leaves.

and that, as they say, is that. except it isn’t.

because suddenly yoongi is everywhere - like the fine boned, cat eyed incarnation of hearing a good song for the first time and then hearing it during every grocery run, party, train journey and coffee stop you do in the next week. but rather than jungkook stumbling across yoongi, it’s yoongi starting to crop up in all the places on campus jungkook personally frequents. 

it’s kind of terrible.

on saturday night, he’s leaving taehyung and jimin’s sixth floor apartment after their mandated weekly overwatch tournament and yoongi is entering the apartment directly across the hallway, which is where hoseok from dance lives. he has a key to the front door, so either he and hoseok are just close or, as is more probable, he’s the mysterious new roommate jungkook has not bumped into yet. before the door shuts jungkook hears the skitter of tiny creature feet and a muted, high pitched, happy human sound. jungkook stares for a moment, before he shakes himself bodily and puts his earphones in. coincidental. no scary destiny involved. unfortunate, considering now he’ll have to avoid taehyung’s apartment for the rest of forever, but shit happens.

the rest of the weekend moves slowly, syrupy in its length. jungkook spends most of it lying on clean, cool sheets and marathoning ‘yuri!!! on ice’ for the ninth time in two months. he stares at the medication in his palm for a long time before he takes it. he can’t force himself out to buy groceries without his whole body freezing painfully at the thought of it, so he eats plain rice and apple slices with honey, which are all he has left in his fridge. he switches his phone on to finally play his turn against nayeon, and then switches it off again and sleeps like the dead for eight hours. 

he doesn’t remember what he dreams about.

 

 

*

 

[20:54] hobi
party @ mine!!! byob & dancing shooooooes

[21:37] chim
are you coming to hoseok-hyungs???
we saved you juice!

[22:03] tae
hiiiiii kookie r u coeimgn
we alove uaiuuuuuuuuu

[23:45] chim
hope you’re okay kookie let us know. miss u

[01:34] joon-hyung
hey jk - hobi said his text didn’t go through so you’ve probably switched your phone off. let one of us know you’re okay when you’re ready. x

 

 

*

 

do you stop yourself from connecting with others?

sometimes.

do you stop yourself connecting with others because of your anxiety?

because i’m anxious about it? i guess, but mostly -

because you feel that your anxiety might burden the people around you?

yes. yeah, i don’t really… like i have this - i can’t ask others to cope with my issues. i don’t want to put that on someone else. it’s nice that they want to be my friend, obviously, but they usually don’t realise i’m. like this. because you can’t see it from the outside? i just don’t think it’s fair to ask that of someone, i - um. because i’m difficult to deal with.

why do you think you’re difficult to deal with?

because i have an anxiety disorder.

your anxiety disorder can be difficult to deal with. how do you think you are difficult to deal with? are you cruel? rude? are you a bad person?

no, none of those things. or - at least i try not to be.

your anxiety is not your entire personality. the thing that makes you valuable and necessary is the fact that you’re alive. as simple as that. you’re a human being, with thoughts and fears and dreams.

yeah.

would you like a tissue?

thank you.

 

 

*

 

 

on monday he’s unfrozen enough to pick up a textbook. after three pointless hours of information not sticking, he narrowly avoids throwing his grossly expensive textbook out the window by texting namjoon, the only person he is willing to venture outside his apartment for right now. because he is a god amongst humans and basically has his phone surgically attached to his hand, namjoon replies within thirty seconds and doesn’t comment on the fact that jungkook has left him on read for over twenty four hours. 

 

[13:10] jungkook
hyung could u help me w my english pls :((((( <3

[13:11] joon-hyung
we’re on the top floor of the library. come whenever. :) 

 

jungkook does not stop to think about who ‘we’ might be. he subconsciously assumes it’s hoseok, since he and namjoon like to have their study dates in the library so they don’t get distracted, which he truly wishes he didn’t know.

he’s mostly just ready to drape himself over namjoon, who is wise and who was the person to quietly mention maybe you should see a doctor, jk… i’ll come with you if you need me to? and then kept jungkook’s secret even after they’d left the therapist’s office with a prescription and an appointment in two weeks, and if hoseok is there maybe jungkook could try not to ask about yoongi or bring up the unanswered party invitation or how he could have tried interacting with yoongi again if he was anything close to a functioning human being, and instead let namjoon speak the secrets of language into his ears like a magic spell. perhaps magic will finally make jungkook good at his degree. 

but jungkook’s life is not magical in any way, it turns out - just cosmically ironic - when he almost literally stumbles across namjoon’s outstretched legs between the stacks because ‘we’ apparently does not refer to hoseok, but does include yoongi, who is curled up with his head on namjoon’s lap. namjoon is using the comma curve of his shoulder as a makeshift table for the tangerine he’s peeling. 

yoongi fast asleep is heartbreaking. he looks at peace. his face is entirely lax, his dainty mouth is set in a natural pout and he has one hand tucked between the thighs of his light wash jeans - the other is linked with that of the tiny green haired woman next to him, who is in turn resting her head on the shoulder of another woman, who looks like a princess from a fairy tale, if the fairy tale involved the princess wearing a business suit and heels. 

“jungkook, hey, come sit down,” namjoon pats jungkook’s calf, the only part of him within reach.

jungkook does so, spine upright against the shelves opposite the little group and knees tucked beneath his chin. he pulls his gaze away from yoongi to smile shyly at the others: they have the calmest auras he’s ever been witness to collectively, like cherry blossoms and clear honey and a still lake and the full moon in human form, and it sets him instantly more at ease just to exist in the same space as they do. 

“this is suran,” with the hand not holding the tangerine, namjoon gestures to the woman with green hair, who smiles at jungkook sleepily, and then at the professional-looking princess, “and this is joohyun. she just had an interview at s.m. and she’s gonna get the job.”

“stop telling everyone that,” joohyun hisses, but her face is bright with excitement. “what if i don’t get it? what am i going to tell people?”

“not an issue,” namjoon throws a segment of his tangerine at her. “you’re clearly the best option.”

suran sighs into joohyun’s shoulder. “can you guys stop flirting while i’m too sleepy to fight you?” she curses when another segment of the tangerine hits her in the face.

joohyun grins. “welcome to the zoo, jungkook. we’ve heard a lot about you.”

jungkook groans quietly, peeking through his hands at her. “whatever namjoon-hyung has said about me is a lie unless it was ‘jungkook is a perfect human being’, which is definitely true. namjoon-hyung knows nothing. unless he did say that, in which case he’s a genius.”

“no, no, no,” says joohyun, shooting a sideways glance at namjoon, whose shoulders are shaking with silent laughter, his mouth full of fruit. “i meant from yoongi. he was right about the smile. and the w-”

“the radar i have for people doing me dirty is really screaming right now, bae joohyun,” yoongi’s raspy voice startles all of them. jungkook nearly jumps out of his skin - when he looks at yoongi, the man’s eyes are still closed, but he’s half smiling into the corduroy of namjoon’s trousers. as jungkook watches, he cracks an eye open. 

his smiles widens when he spots jungkook. “hello again.”

“hi,” jungkook replies, tucking his chin back atop his knees. “sorry if i woke you up.”

yoongi unfurls his limbs, squeezing suran’s fingers as he lets them go, then stretches his whole body out like a kitten in a patch of sun. he’s little and lithe and lovely, and jungkook deliberately focuses on the duck fluff of his blond hair instead of the apricot softness of his tummy where his sweater rides up. “nah, s’okay. i should be studying anyway. use the library for its actual purpose for once.”

“and it was on a cold, cloudy day in november,” namjoon intones, voice as deep as his dimples, “that we were made aware of yoongi’s unfortunate possession by demonic forces.”

jungkook knows his own laughter normally sounds like cackling, high and loud and helpless, full bodied, and when he holds it in it sounds like someone suffocating a duck - this is exactly what happens in response to namjoon’s words. 

yoongi makes a noise is like he’s being choked and suran buries her face in joohyun’s shoulder. the combination sets namjoon off again. each time they seem to calm down, someone makes a weird muffled noise and trips everyone else up. they’re all giggling in the way that only happens when you know you have to be quiet but your body isn’t letting you do so without a fight, and the people around you are exactly the right amount of sleep deprived and stressed enough for anything to be funny. it’s almost cathartic after the awkwardness of a new situation and although jungkook doesn’t know half of these people, and he thinks he’s possibly the youngest by quite a few years, he has an uncharacteristic moment of feeling very present.

suran tugs at jungkook’s forearm, grinning and breathless. 

“grab your textbook and come sit between us. we’ll test you,” she adds, in perfect english. jungkook raises his eyebrows, impressed. 

“okay, seonbae. thank you.”

“noona is fine, kid.”

joohyun kicks her heels off and shifts over so jungkook can crawl into the gap between them.

yoongi clambers to his feet, patting the pockets of his jeans and then twisting his back enough to the side that it clicks in a way that makes jungkook feel queasy. “i’m going to get coffee -“

“oh, shocker,” namjoon comments, and yoongi smiles innocently as he puts him in a gentle headlock that quickly turns into a loose shoulder-hug.

“i’m a grad student. i’m barely alive. if i have to listen to one word of a foreign language before caffeine i will literally die, so put your orders in now. latte for you two,” he nods at suran and namjoon, then at joohyun: “toxic sludge for you, noona.”

“it’s a frappe, asshole, not poison.”

“uh huh,” yoongi seems unconvinced but slides his gaze to jungkook. “and you?”

“oh,” jungkook can feel his own eyes widen. “oh, are you sure?”

“take advantage of his open generosity, kook, you normally have to pry this side of him out with a crowbar,” namjoon pipes up from between yoongi’s arms, which tighten threateningly. 

“peppermint tea then, please, if that’s alright?”

“cool, back in ten,” yoongi straightens up again and ruffles namjoon’s hair. “come joon-ah. you are my packhorse for today.”

“you cool, jk?” namjoon asks.

“yeah, i’m good.” it’s not a lie. 

the two of them wander off in the direction of the main stairs and jungkook watches. yoongi has the stride namjoon ought to have as the taller of them; namjoon follows yoongi like a gosling to a mother goose. as they disappear through the doors, yoongi looks over his shoulder and catches his eye with a smile that makes jungkook’s heart stutter - and then he’s gone. jungkook breathes out carefully and turns to suran and joohyun, who are both observing him with matching smirks. 

“cute,” suran says. jungkook wrinkles his nose at her.

“please teach your poor sweet hubae some english, noona.”

suran takes his textbook and starts flipping through the pages. joohyun peers across from jungkook’s other side, leaning into him to read better. suran gets halfway through the book before she smooths a page down.

“perfect. repeat after me,” she switches to english, and jungkook may not be fluent in the language yet but he understands exactly what she means when she says, “my name is jungkook and i want to kiss min yoongi on the face.”

jungkook buries his face in his hands to the sound of giggling. 

 

*

 

yoongi @minminyg
chaotic bisexual, godless millennial.
∇. your dreams. 

 

[follows you]

 

 

-



SURAN @shin_su_ran
[overheard in the library]
joon: he doesn’t know english jungkook it’s fine
yoon: bitch don’t i
joon: PARDON?


kim namjoon @kimdaily
@shin_su_ran HE’S A FAKE

yoongi @minminyg
@shin_su_ran @kimdaily bitch am i 

 

 

*

 

jungkook is in a hurry. he needs a different book for his japanese culture essay but he only has twenty minutes before dance starts, so he’s running towards the sliding doors of the library when he spots yoongi. he’s propped against the huge oak tree outside the building with his legs crossed at the ankle. joohyun is saying something he’s obviously interested in, but he locks eyes with jungkook accidentally and his face lights up with his smile. he raises a hand in greeting.

in the middle of returning the wave, jungkook hits the sliding doors before they’re fully open. 

he slams forehead first into the glass - a shockwave of pain vibrates his whole skull and stops him in his tracks for a second before the adrenaline kicks in - someone curses behind him - but he doesn’t look back, just sprints across the foyer and into the toilets as soon as the doors start moving again, through bustling groups of people who all just saw him fuse with the door at speed, fucking hell, and ends up panting over the bathroom sink. his breathing is shot, but the ache above his eye is grounding him enough that he’s not going to panic quite yet - and then the door starts to swing open, and jungkook dashes into the nearest cubicle, slamming the door and sliding the bolt shut. he sags against the wall as footsteps move towards the cubicle, then pause. 

jungkook inhales very, very slowly for a long while, blood pounding in his ears. 

someone sighs.

the noise from the foyer swells, and then the bathroom door clicks shut once more. 

jungkook exhales messily and starts to cry, palm pressed hard to his mouth so that no sound escapes. he’s going to have a nasty bruise on his forehead but at least his fringe is long enough to cover it. he can’t cover a panic attack with a fringe, though, however hard he tries. just when everything had been going so well, so steadily, and he’s embarrassed himself so much he wants to die. he wants to die

he splashes water on his face a while later, still feeling sick and awful and sorry for himself, but slightly less nihilistic.

jungkook is not willing to fall off this panicky precipice for the second time in a day in the middle of a dance studio, so he gives it ten minutes and then escapes out the side door of the library. he texts jimin, who offers to walk him home and when he’s refused, offers to tell hoseok that jungkook had an emergency. he says he’ll check in after his classes but doesn’t ask for more explanation than ‘not coming today’ because jimin is a really excellent friend. 

instead of the text jungkook is expecting, jimin arrives at his front door with his hands full of boba, followed by taehyung, who’s got yeontan tucked in the front of his coat like he’s in a movie, and behind them, momo and nayeon. jungkook answers wrapped in his softest blanket and is immediately dragged into a group cuddle pile on his bed, most of them with hands awkwardly stretched in the air so as not to spill their drinks. none of them force him to talk about what’s wrong; they keep the conversation on light topics like mutual friends and celebrity gossip, and let jungkook suck at his boba quietly in the middle of them all. 

he decides they probably deserve to know why they’re here. why he’s been so weird for the last few months. to be honest, he’s pretty sure they all have their suspicions. they’re not idiots and it’s not like there hasn’t been a marked change in his behaviour, even as introverted as he was before this took over his life. he owes it to them - an explanation as to why the friend they thought they’d made has gone ghost, and why this ghoul has replaced him. 

he tells them about the glass door incident, which is hard, and his anxiety, which is harder, but no one makes him feel bad for either. no one tries to exorcise him from the group. he gets to hold yeontan while he talks, and the boba is strawberry, his favourite flavour. he maps out the last year of his life in stages, a bullet point list of whys and whats and hows. hating the course he’d worked so hard for, the awful volcanic experience of his first panic attack and their increase in frequency, his lethargy and insomnia and shakiness, namjoon’s intervention. medication. his therapy appointments. understanding that this is something he has to live with now. learning to change years of ingrained self-talk.

“that makes so much sense,” says nayeon, wide eyed. “you always play your turn in words with friends.”

momo covers her girlfriend’s mouth. “what she means is we’re glad you’re getting help, even if it sucks pretty hard right now.”

they ask if they can do anything to make things feel less overwhelming for jungkook, at least while his meds are settling, so in jimin’s neatest handwriting they draw up a list of things jungkook wants to achieve before the end of the semester. 

it reads:

  1. sleep more
  2. cry less
  3. see therapist
  4. write down sad things
  5. throw sad things away
  6. spend more time with friends
  7. spend less time worrying what people think
  8. pet a dog

he gets to complete number eight straight away. yeontan licks his cheek and snuffles into his neck, and then falls asleep there. jungkook carefully crosses out ‘pet a dog’ and replaces it with ‘pet every dog’, which seems like it might count as a form of alternative therapy. 

(he doesn’t add 9. have one interaction with yoongi where you don’t embarrass yourself to the physical list, but he does add it mentally.)

when they’re done, they order pizza and watch ‘ponyo’ and nayeon strokes his hair and jungkook cries a lot out of relief, then falls asleep between momo and taehyung. he wakes up with a mouthful of momo’s ponytail, but it’s the best he’s slept in weeks. for the first time in almost twenty one years of life, he looks at his friends tangled together in his bed and thinks maybe i could deserve this.

he takes his meds.

 

 

*

 

@baechu is now following you!

@shin_su_ran is now following you!

 

_

 

suranhas added you to full english!!!!!

[15:24] ❀ suran ❀: no naver translate, we use namjoon like smart ppl
[15:31] jk: pardon?
[15:31] yoongi: pardon?

namjoon has left the group

 

 *

 

on thursday, jungkook feels more adequately prepared for life, and that is when he quite literally bumps into yoongi in the union coffee shop. 

it’s not even like it’s on purpose, jungkook’s realising - in the same way one might tune in psychologically to a newly discovered song, he realises that the people and places he personally frequents are also the people and places yoongi personally frequents. it makes him feel scared. it makes him feel like he’s balancing on the ledge of a bungee jump, in the split second of adrenaline before the drop. the catharsis of his friends knowing now, not treating him differently, asking him what they can do - it sticks with him, and he can’t hide a smile as he catches yoongi by the shoulders to steady him. 

yoongi grins at jungkook around the straw of his iced coffee. he’s pale and kohl eyed beneath his newly silver hair, and he’s wearing what looks to be a hand knitted kumamon sweater. it’s a weirdly lethal combination.

“i’m so sorry, yoongi-ssi,” he rushes to say, but yoongi waves the apology away with a flutter of his long fingers.

“doesn’t matter. are you okay?” with one step forward, yoongi is suddenly close enough to touch and he does so, gently lifting jungkook’s fringe away from his forehead and wincing at the plum and yellow bruise he reveals. his hand is chilly from holding his drink. there’s a tiny freckle on his nose that lines up almost horizontally with one on his cheek, and he smells citrusy and warm. being this close to him doesn’t feel quite as scary as conversation does. it does feel like he’s balancing, but it feels more like he’s walking backwards with his eyes shut, away from the drop. “christ, that looks painful.”

“a little,” replies jungkook, who is still taking over-the-counter painkillers for the ache. “it’ll be fine, though.”

yoongi smoothes jungkook’s fringe back into place, strategically avoiding the bruise, and steps out of his space. 

“so,” yoongi says, sticking his straw back between his teeth. “shall we introduce ourselves properly? since i’ve now heard you say the words ‘hey baby, how are you doing’ to namjoon with a completely straight face, i think this friendship is worth developing.”

jungkook is wholly unable to help the giggle - because it’s not a laugh, it’s really a giggle - that escapes in response. yoongi sucks hard at his straw but his eyes crinkle at the corners. he doesn’t seem to have much of a filter and it makes jungkook more inclined to talk.

“jeon jungkook. first year mod lang, which you already know,” he adds, sticking his hand out formally. “one day i want to watch ‘whisper of the heart’ in japanese without subs.”

“min yoongi,” says yoongi, taking jungkook’s hand in his own cold one. “sociology postgrad and casual musician. my favourite is the obviously superior ‘kiki’s delivery service’ and you can call me hyung given i’ve already distracted you to the extent of injury.”

the reminder makes jungkook squirm, but not in the way he expects. 

“and bought me tea,” he says.

“and bought you tea,” yoongi agrees. his voice is soft, like they’re sharing a secret.

jungkook can feel the twin bright spots on his cheekbones, but he takes yoongi’s hand anyway. the further into this interaction they get without traumatic incident or jungkook embarrassing himself, the further away the ledge feels. it’s not entirely surprising: his quota for embarrassment has to run out sometime.  

“hey, yoongi-hyung?” he squeezes yoongi’s hand, feeling somewhat daring. “exactly how convinced are you of your ghibli opinions?”

 

 

*

 

[16:54] jungkook 
hey hyung it’s jk
thank u for buying me tea again
& for not telling me u were vp of debate club at undergrad 
when i asked u specifically for a debate

[16:56] yoongi
‘jk’
cute
no worries. thanks for admitting kds is the best ghibli movie

[16:56] jungkook
!!! >:|
i did No Such Thing

[16:59] yoongi
wow interesting 
bc all i’m reading is ‘you’re right hyung thanks for showing me the truth’

[17:13] jungkook
it’s been a good if short run but we can’t be friends anymore thx 4 ur time 

[17:15] yoongi
but who else will receive battle scars for me?
battle bruises*

[17:47] jungkook 
p l e a s e

 

 

*

 

“min yoongi is following you on twitter,” jimin says over takeout, the week before christmas. he’s got his phone close to his face and a pair of chopsticks in his other hand, absentmindedly fending off taehyung’s attempts to swoop in for extra noodles. “i didn’t know you knew him.”

“i didn’t know you knew him,” jungkook says around a mouthful of fried chicken, pretending like his heart hasn’t just kicked into quadruple time the same way it did when he’d got the original notification.

he and yoongi got coffee (and tea) that first time and the next day they did it again with joohyun, and then again with momo, who has kept blessedly quiet about it, like yoongi was aware that one on one was difficult for jungkook. and then, once jungkook started speaking louder and gesturing wider in yoongi’s presence, they met alone again, and again, and again

it’s been over a month. he’s never consumed so much tea in his life. he doesn’t think he’s ever talked so much in his life, either, or been simultaneously so comfortable saying absolutely nothing in someone else’s presence. 

yoongi’s nice, in his own brusque way. he’s kind. he wants to know what jungkook thinks about the most mundane of topics, and he listens hard when jungkook trips through fumbling explanations and admissions and even chitchat about the weather. he’s been best friends with hoseok since first year and roommates since august - as it turns out, yoongi and jungkook are introverts who have a lot of mutual, far more gregarious friends - and he’s something adjacent to garrulous depending on the subject. every time he makes this weird thoughtful noise that sounds a bit like he’s slurping ramen through the corner of his mouth, jungkook’s whole body reacts. it’s the most embarrassing turn on. he can’t go into the instant section of convenience stores now due to his own tingly, overheated pavlovian response. 

he should, however, have been conscious of the classic six degrees of separation that tends to occur in a collegiate environment. everyone knows everyone somehow, even if it’s just ‘oh, yeah, i caught them smoking weed in my best friend’s brother’s bathroom at a house party once’. there’s a social web that no one can escape - especially not, and jungkook is just now kicking himself over this, min yoongi, who was not only prevalent in debate and basketball at undergraduate level and best friends with jung hoseok, but is also a semi-famous amateur musician and album reviewer. he has nigh on twenty thousand twitter followers, more on his youtube account, but he only actually follows about thirty people back. one of whom is now jungkook.  

and, apparently, jimin. park jimin, social butterfly and all-round nice guy, who’s also friends with namjoon and hoseok, who are both friends with yoongi. fresh to the uni machine as he is, jungkook definitely should have expected this. 

even worse: “i know yoongi-hyung too!” 

taehyung finally manages to drag some noodles over to his plate, only to offer the largest one to yeontan, who is sitting primly beside him on the only free seat at the table. jungkook can’t see the fluffy little pomeranian over the tabletop but he can hear him chuffing happily every so often, and now the squishy sounds of him chewing filter across. 

“he lives opposite,” taehyung continues, forearm shifting like he’s giving yeontan a fond pat. “he’s friends with kim seokjin, you know, the guy who models for the official uni pamphlets?”

“jin-hyung doesn’t even go here anymore,” jimin rolls his eyes, but his tone is something like affectionate. “he started his own business.”

“perfect rep for the uni, then, isn’t he? a success story with no bad angles,” taehyung wiggles his brows. “actually i think yoongi-hyung is close with joon-hyung too. they did that collab last year, with that other rapper?”

“that was hobi,” jimin nods. “he’s namjoon’s boyfriend. plus, yoongi-hyung’s roommate,” he adds.

taehyung snaps his fingers. “that’s why he seemed familiar. i couldn’t register where i’d seen his face before.”

“oh,” jungkook blinks, as if he didn’t know half of that information already. “well then.”

jimin snorts, twisting a clump of noodles neatly around his chopsticks and gesturing at jungkook with it. “any advance on ‘well then’?”

“well then… cool?” jungkook fronts, as though the thought of jimin and taehyung witnessing him in the presence of yoongi doesn’t set him off kilter.

the fact is that he’s been cultivating his thing for yoongi as quietly and respectfully as he can, folding the glow of it deep at the base of his spine and behind his lungs and tucked into the apples of his cheeks, starting to become more confident as time goes on and as yoongi keeps seeking him out, integrating him into his friendship circle, buying him tea, that it may possibly be mutual. 

by fate’s design he hasn’t been caught out yet, but as soon as his friends see him around yoongi, they’ll know. immediately, they will know. 

if he makes it clear exactly how he feels about yoongi, how he could feel about him, which is terrifying to think about and yet still not as terrifying as his crush being trivialised into public comedy material, tae and jimin will probably let it play out with slightly better humour. probably. at least he won’t be going it alone if he shares. his therapist would be proud of him for asking for help - or, not asking for help but. sharing his feelings. relying on others. not bottling things up and turning them over in his mind until they’re raw and ruined. he doesn’t want that to happen to this ever-brightening torch he’s carrying for yoongi.

and - taehyung and jimin are his closest friends. they’ve only known him for a little over a year, best case scenario products of the riskiest friend-of-a-friend couch surf jungkook ever did before the lease started on his studio, but they know his limits. he might cease to exist before the night is over, but he trusts in that fact, and the concept of admitting to his feelings doesn’t trigger his anxiety like he thought it would. it’ll be excruciatingly awkward and gross but it’s not anxiety inducing. 

it’s just a truth. they didn’t drop him after the last ground shaking truth he shared, and he thinks this one is just slightly left field enough that they’ll give him breathing room.

more importantly, he thinks yoongi is worth it. the potential is that yoongi could be worth almost everything, probably. it’s only been a month and jungkook knows this to be true: yoongi is going to be worth being brave for.

he interrupts their squabbling over the last noodle and goes straight for it. 

“so i really like yoongi, like, a lot, and i think maybe i could -“ 

he starts coughing out of awkwardness, unwilling to finish the sentence, and then actually chokes on his own saliva because jungkook’s life is simply a series of horribly unfortunate moments. yeontan starts yapping and tries to launch himself across the table. it dramatises the whole ordeal more than he’d like, but at least it gets him a reprieve from the twin intensity of taehyung and jimin’s focus as they tell yeontan to get down

they rub his back until he’s breathing again, which is of course the kind of embarrassing he can feel in his gums. taehyung brings him a bottle of sprite from the refrigerator. jungkook sucks half of it down in one go, airway fizzing at the bubbles when he stops to breathe, and scoops yeontan into his lap when the puppy wipes his damp little nostrils on jungkook’s ankle. 

“so,” jimin starts, after a moment of quiet. “you and hyung, huh?”

“yeah.” jungkook scrunches his nose. he breaks off a tiny piece of chicken for yeontan, watching his puppy teeth tear it apart so that he doesn’t have to look at his friends’ faces. “on my side, at least. i think - maybe on his too. i hope so, anyway.”

strangely, his nerves about the whole thing don’t cover the potential of yoongi not being attracted to him. jungkook watches yoongi and yoongi makes no secret of the way he watches jungkook right back, sleepy eyed but fervent.

it’s the emotional aspect that scares him more, the newness and the invasiveness of it. he could handle sex and flirting and touching, possibly. he thinks with yoongi he might not even get that far without spilling his heart out - wanting to be physically intimate with yoongi has overlapped irrevocably with wanting to be emotionally close to him.

taehyung whistles lowly. “wow. little jk falling in big like with min yoongi. who could’ve seen that coming?” he clasps his palms together like christmas has come early, and jungkook kicks him under the table.

“tell me about it,” jimin says, chewing thoughtfully. “are you recording with him? did he hear you sing and ask you to feature on something?”

yoongi had asked, actually, in his roundabout way.

he and jungkook had snuck ice pops into the library on the last sunny day of autumn. spread eagled between the stacks, the ice turning his lips bitten-red and puffy, he’d looked up at jungkook cross-legged beside him and said, apropos of nothing, “so i started writing a song i think would match your voice pretty well.”

jungkook had been confused for a second, wondering which mortifying old recordings yoongi might have stumbled across on social media, until he recalled his aborted scale rendition in the kitchen. “oh. cool.” 

“i mostly rap,” yoongi had continued, licking a pool of chilly juice from between his knuckles. his tongue was faintly wine coloured from the ice and it should have looked funny but the whole picture, yoongi loose-limbed and loose-tongued and loose-collared next to him, was the precise kind of unassumingly, gut-clenchingly sexy that yoongi often tended to be without ever seeming to notice. “i did something a bit r&b with suran on my mixtape last month. that’s about it for vocals, but i’ve been branching out recently.” 

jungkook had changed the subject quickly and not very deftly. the intimacy of recording a song with yoongi, for yoongi, by yoongi - even the thought of it was a lot at the time. he’d listened to the mixtape for the first time that night, cheek pressed to the smooth pile carpeting of his living room floor, and felt the regret settle in his stomach. 

ever since, he hasn’t stopped thinking about the gravelled, lisping turns of phrase; suran’s sugary, soaring vocals; the beautiful cohesive narrative of it; the soul deep experience of yoongi setting the darkest, most vulnerable parts of himself to music and releasing them into the stratosphere. he wants, so much, to be part of it. to be someone yoongi trusts to carry a piece of his own story like that. he hopes yoongi asks again one day, so he can say absolutely. definitely. i want that more than anything. 

jimin hums, drawing jungkook out of his thoughts. he’s squinting thoughtfully at his phone. 

“what do you guys think about lunch?”

“what, now?” taehyung frowns, squinting at the graveyard of takeout cartons next to the sink. 

“no, tomorrow,” jimin replies, three quarters of his attention on whatever he’s now typing. taehyung and jungkook both jump as their own phones chime. jimin’s phone buzzes a few times in quick succession and he beams. “midday, the diner on the edge of campus.”

“wait,” says jungkook, but jimin shakes his head. breathing room

no chance.

“nope. no arguing. knowing what we now know about you, kook - well. i think it’s time to get the whole gang together.”

 

*

 

 

[01:02] yoongi
hey
sorry i didn’t reply earlier, my phone died & i was in the lib
are you going to the thing tomorrow?
i’m guessing you are
i hope so

[01:03] yoongi
sweet dreams kook-ah ☆

 

*

 

 

jimin’s definition of ‘the whole gang’ is not quite something jungkook personally agrees with, but it’s a condensed, interesting combination of people for sure. jungkook currently has more friends than he knows what to do with, so for jimin to take that choice out of his hands for one social engagement removes the agony of wondering who’ll show up. 

he knows who at least one invitee is, though. 

he wakes up so early that it’s still dark outside, stares at his text conversation with yoongi, the star emoji yoongi uses like other people use hugs and kisses, thinks maybe.

he spends a full hour rearranging his anime collection before it’s human-time enough to text someone, then distracts himself for another hour by playing words with friends with nayeon, but then she has to go to work. jungkook loses more time scrolling through tumblr and retweeting memes and then gets sidetracked by hayley kiyoko dropping a new single, subsequently has a small emotional breakdown during his sixth listen, and then glances at the time at the top of his screen only to find he has less than ten minutes until tae and jimin pick him up. 

swearing at the top of his voice, he scrambles off his bed and hops around until he’s sufficiently layered for the chill outside in his thickest cream sweater and a big puffer coat and an ugly, furry hat he’s pretty sure was left by namjoon at some point but is the first one he grabs from the drawer in his rush.

“i love your hat!” is the first thing taehyung says when jungkook opens the door to him and jimin. jungkook laughs, slipping his phone and wallet into his pocket and tugging the door closed with a decisive thunk.

“of course you do.”

the walk to the diner isn’t long - jungkook lives a ten minute walk from campus if he’s going at a steady speed - but it is cold. it’s the twenty-first of december and the snap in the air doesn’t point to an auspicious end to the month. jungkook is even glad for namjoon’s ugly hat, especially since poor jimin has plumped for style over practicality for reasons jungkook suspects are to do with whomever else they’re meeting. although he looks great in his gauzy blouse and leather jacket he’s sporting a lavender tinge to his lips by the time they make it inside again, despite his smaller form being forcefully sandwiched between taehyung and jungkook’s quilted bodies for the majority of the trip. 

they’re the first to arrive, so they go ahead and order hot drinks. jimin excuses himself to the bathroom to stand in front of the hand dryer for a minute or two before everyone else gets there. 

hoseok trails in next with namjoon whilst jimin is still in the bathroom, and then, to jungkook’s dual terror and excitement, yoongi, followed by the very beautiful man from the pamphlets, or ‘seokjin-hyung’, as he amiably tells taehyung and jungkook to address him by. jimin finally comes back just as they’re all shifting around to make room for the last two and he slides in next to seokjin, who turns the diamond brightness of his attention onto jimin immediately to compliment his outfit. his voice drops quieter, something far more intimate in his tone, and a blush starts to creep up the back of jimin’s neck. a few things from the past few months, including jimin’s newfound interest in ‘late night studying’, click into place in jungkook’s mind. he and taehyung share a quick, knowing look. 

“hi, kook-ah.”

yoongi squeezes into the open space beside jungkook, pink cheeked from the cold and swaddled in a jacket that’s about four times his size. he nudges him as he tries to struggle out of the jacket, nearly falling out of the booth, and jungkook reaches back to hold the fabric taut. 

“oh, thank you.”

beneath the jacket, yoongi has a loose, stripy, scoop-necked sweater layered over a black turtleneck. he’s wearing a white cap backwards so that a tuft of silver hair pokes through the ponytail gap, and his dark eyebrows are stark against his rosy skin. he looks a bit like an egg, with his round cheeks and delicate chin. a really pretty egg. jungkook doesn’t have the wherewithal to cope with this attack on his senses, so he folds the jacket as best he can and sets it on the ledge between them and the next booth, behind yoongi’s head. yoongi settles back into it like it’s a pillow, scrunching his face teasingly at jungkook, and then leans forward again to place his drink order. jungkook gets drawn into a conversation with namjoon about the new hayley kiyoko track, but all the nerves down the right side of his body are alight at the places his denim-clad leg is pressed to yoongi’s. 

“jk!” hoseok, who had been exchanging sunny chatter with taehyung, seems to notice jungkook’s distraction, draping his arm around namjoon’s shoulders and leaning in. “hey, buddy! how are you doing?”

hoseok is one of the nicest people jungkook knows. although everyone he knows could hold that title because he’s somehow lucked out immensely, hoseok is particularly bright, even when he’s in scary dance teacher mode. he’s still worried about jungkook skipping out of dance that one time: he won’t stop asking after jungkook’s health every time they meet. but his true speciality, in an inarguable sense, is his ability to pick up on every vibe in the room. he’s incredibly perceptive and he has clearly noticed the tension between yoongi and jungkook - has probably heard something from namjoon or maybe suran or even jimin because jungkook isn’t stupid, he knows they’re all here for a reason - and is about to say something very embarrassing in order to eke it out.

“i know you already know joonie, but have you met yoongi-hyung?” hoseok introduces before he can plan his escape, “we’re roommates.”

“best friends,” yoongi corrects, in a tone that suggests he needs to make this correction a lot nowadays.

“pretty much platonically married,” hoseok agrees. 

“yes, we’ve met,” jungkook sighs, wrinkling his nose at yoongi, who pretends to be struck with heart pain at the sight.

“have you, now,” the side of hoseok’s mouth tips up into a smile and he crosses his arms over his chest - he looks between the two of them. everyone else is not-so-subtly listening in now. jungkook wishes it was hot enough in this diner to obliterate him into like, ash or maybe individual molecules. if that’s at all how physics works. probably not, but regardless, he does not want to exist for this conversation. “interesting, i wonder why hyung didn’t tell me. actually, scratch that. i absolutely know why.”

yoongi whines, “seok-ah.

“your social range is admirable for a fresher, jungkook. you should give me tips.”

“hoseok,” namjoon sighs. “c’mon.”

“as if you’re about to argue yoongi-hyung’s sociability, joonie,” hoseok’s smile is starting to look increasingly smug, because he is a demon. “so what was it? a real estate forum for cave dwellers? blind date? oh! let me guess - did hyung puke on you at a party?”

yoongi huffs. “you do it one time and they think spousal privilege covers bringing it up for eternity,” he says to jungkook in a low voice, like they’re gossiping over wine at a middle class book club. 

“hyung threw a spoon at me,” jungkook tells hoseok, who cackles. “and then i ran into a glass door.”

“totally separate incidents,” yoongi hastens to add.

“these violent delights have violent ends!” hoseok crows, clapping like a delighted seal. “fantastic! and what form is your revenge taking, kook? please tell me it’s hickies.”

hoseok!” yoongi and namjoon chorus together, in very different tones of voice. jungkook sinks down in his seat. taehyung, who has been conspicuously silent throughout the entire conversation, pats his knee.

hoseok raises his hands in defeat and subsides, still laughing. namjoon looks like he can’t decide whether he wants to kiss or kill him. yoongi’s face is cherry red, but he doesn’t look grossed out.

who is talking about hickies and why was i not invited to the conversation?” seokjin demands very loudly, having clearly listened in on the whole thing. he seems to share hoseok’s talent for being perceptive, but on a very separate end of the spectrum. jimin, just as intuitively, starts talking equally loud about lovebites as a visual concept and everyone gets distracted by putting in their two cents, except for namjoon, who raises his eyebrows at jungkook across the table.

“a spoon, huh?” 

jungkook cracks a smile despite himself and glances at yoongi, who is gesturing widely with his hands as he offers a verbal castigation of, for some reason, rothko’s ‘red on maroon’.

“these violent delights,” namjoon repeats quietly, throwing a thoughtful look at yoongi as well. “which as they kiss, consume. i don’t think hickies were quite where shakespeare was going with that, but. reinterpretation is everything.”

“they die in the end,” jungkook reminds him. “it’s all politics, right?”

namjoon hums. “it’s a love story too, though, isn’t it? but whatever misfortunes occur,” his gaze turns to hoseok like it’s magnetised, seems to forget he’s talking to jungkook for a moment as he continues, voice terribly soft, “they cannot ruin the joy I feel with one look at him.”

they’re both silent for a moment. whatever misfortunes occur.

it’s maybe a little melodramatic - it always is with namjoon - but the words still resonate like fading chords in the air. there’s a reason jungkook loves talking to namjoon, and it’s that he boils down the biggest, most overwhelming ideas - like love, or mortality, or anxiety - to something infinitely more easy to process. hoseok pinpoints the tension and lays it out in the open, and namjoon analyses and resolves it into a neat little package of slightly-more-positive. it’s part of why they work so well together. and if namjoon has to use heavy handed literature references to get his point across, then so be it.

romeo and juliet had warring families. they died. jungkook may have generalised anxiety disorder, insomnia, and an obsession with anime, but he is not a heterosexual. sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.  

“but,” jungkook squirms in his seat, feeling the blush across his cheeks deepen even as he says the words. “there’s no love story.”

namjoon’s gaze returns to him and he smiles in that enigmatic way he has sometimes like he’s lived a thousand lives already and he’s letting you in on that secret. “we’ll see.” 

with a final shrewd look, namjoon turns away to whisper something in hoseok’s ear that earns him a kiss on the cheek, and is drawn into the conversation the others are having, which has now moved on to pokemon go.

jungkook feels cool fingers slip between his own. 

his heart stutters a beat as yoongi squeezes gently; he risks a peek at yoongi, who’s already looking back at him, dark eyes sparkling like stars in a clear night sky. 

yoongi is looking, like he’s tracking a slow chemical reaction or maybe witnessing a five car pile up. it’s sometimes hard to tell with him, but the intensity is all-consuming. it makes jungkook’s nervous system spark in a real variety of ways. presuming yoongi had been witness to at least the last part of that conversation and that’s what had prompted the hand-holding — that suggests. well. it hints more towards the nicer option. it almost certainly rules out the prospect of this being totally one-sided, at least, he thinks. his heart is racing. this has never happened to him before. he’s never had someone maybe like him back, certainly not someone like yoongi. 

he can’t fight the smile that feels like it’s blossoming from deep inside his chest, and with his free hand, picks up a menu to hide behind. 

 

*

[22:12] jungkook
thanks for the gingerbread hyung :)

[00:01] yoongi
merry christmas, jungkook.
☆ ☆ ☆

 

*

 

on christmas eve, jungkook braves the cold and the crowds to buy groceries. 

when he gets back he facetimes his parents for a little while, apologises to them for calling so infrequently. they ask how he’s feeling and he tells them he’s okay, and they ask if he’s met anyone new and he tells them about joohyun’s new job and suran’s beautiful singing voice, how inspiring they are to him, how kind. he tells them about yoongi; feels the blush staining his cheeks from their gentle teasing but soldiers through admirably. he can hear how soft his own voice is as he attempts to condense everything that yoongi is into something his parents will understand.

“well, i hope he comes to visit sometime,” his father says, mildly. his mother simply reaches out to touch the screen of the phone. jungkook reaches back, emulating through digital distance the way they used to say goodnight when he was very little.

for dinner he makes kimchi jjigae from scratch, opening all the windows whilst he cooks even though it’s cold so that the smell doesn’t stick, flicking on the white fairy lights he’d decorated the big bay window with earlier in the month. when he’s done he switches off the overhead lights, curls up on the couch with a bowl of the jjigae and a smaller bowl of rice balanced on the turn of his knee, and then - with his heart full of the kind of seasonal nostalgia that always seems to arrive as soon as night falls on christmas eve - presses play on ‘12월 24일’ in the wintery glow of the room.

 

 

*

 

 

yes, hello everybody. i’m back again. who’s back again? it’s me, min yoongi. your favourite liberal artist and musical genius. ha. i hope you had a merry christmas, or a good holiday, or whatever you celebrate. season’s greetings to all of you. [.] today i’ll be reviewing something a little different since it’s a happy new year, and all that. i actually promised to listen to this album because my - because somebody quite special to me loves her music. he says listening to it makes him feel - well - ‘like i can leave my apartment” was the exact wording he used, but. alive. brave, i think. obviously everyone has an artist or an album or even just a song that makes them feel like that. i love knowing that about people. i think it’s one of the most personal things someone can share with you; music that holds their hopes and dreams, what their soul sounds like. what they want to be. it makes you feel special, you know? close. [.] i watched the video for the title track on this album and it made me think about - it made sense. [.] anyway, uh, the album i’ll be reviewing today is ‘palette’ […]

 

 

*

 

 

it’s january and jungkook is feeling —

— honestly? he’s feeling alright. 

his meds have kicked in properly and his mood swings have plateaued, for starters. he gets a solid six hours per night on average. and he’s really starting to improve in classes now he’s got the english group chat and because namjoon refuses to converse in anything but english or japanese when they see each other. he raised his hand without prompting in class discussion yesterday. 

nayeon, because she’s a pure soul, keeps tagging him in positive memes on twitter. jimin steals his phone during overwatch and sets up random alerts with notes like ‘you’re doing well today!’ and ‘remember you’re loved by so many people!!!’, all with different emojis. jungkook sets up his own (‘buy one thing from a supermarket’, ‘eat something that wasn’t bought for you by a friend’, ‘get out of bed at eight every day or suffer the consequences’) as a practical counter. yoongi adds him to a communal pinterest board used specifically for sharing pictures of min holly, mickey, moni, and various other dogs-of-friends. he listens to iu’s discography in its entirety and only cries twice. 

he still has shitty days sometimes when nothing helps; not his friends, not puppies, not iu, not even his strategy toolbox. nothing. on those days he’s scared to close his eyes, but too terrified to get out of bed. 

but for the most part, he’s coping. he’s alright

he’s learning himself anew.

over the holidays, yoongi and jungkook’s time together has evolved from the union and studying together in the library to walking by the river with holly, lamb skewer saturdays, hanging out in jungkook’s studio flat since it’s closest to campus, yoongi bringing gummies and ramen and all sorts of strange snack food from the international store near his apartment —

kook-ah, look at the little teddy bear, kook-ah, try this one, kook-ah, this one is lavender flavoured, they say lavender is good for sleep, i don’t know if that works orally —

and not much beyond that. 

they hold hands sometimes. when they go out for dinner, one of them will inevitably, gently lock their ankles together under the table. at momo’s new year’s eve party, yoongi pressed a chaste kiss to the dimple on his cheek when midnight struck and they’d both flushed bright from the daring of it. but yoongi seems to know without jungkook saying it out loud that he’s not ready for anything else quite yet, that this is too important to rush into. 

he’s still coming to grips with the changing way he’s learning to look at himself, let alone himself inextricably entwined with someone else. he tries not to think about ‘fixing’ himself anymore, not for himself or for anyone else, like he’d been so set on doing; just reaching a point where he’s ready. 

he’s getting there, though. yoongi doesn’t seem to mind waiting. jungkook has heard enough of yoongi’s lyrics to guess that yoongi empathises more than he sometimes lets on. 

it’s so hard, not to just lean over. not to just press him against a shelf in the library or turn to him on the couch and fit their mouths together, his fingers in yoongi’s fair hair and yoongi’s big hands on his waist, breathing off kilter, velveteen and hot. it’s hard not to cup yoongi’s jaw so, so soft, not to brush the most delicate of butterfly kisses across one flushed cheekbone, across closed lids, honey sweet. he whiles hours away in the charcoal dark of early morning, just tracing the shape of yoongi in his mind. he wants it so much, to be close to yoongi like that, to trust him with that. for yoongi to trust him with the gentleness he tries so constantly to hide from everyone around him. 

even though he’s made this decision for himself and he knows it’s what’s right for him at the moment, it’s hard

it’s so awfully difficult because yoongi is physical, so real, so present that the aura he gives out makes jungkook automatically want to step into his space. he’s polite to the barista in the union, and he only drinks iced coffee if he can help it, even in the unbearable cold of january. he pouts when he speaks, and all of his sweaters are oversized so he can tuck his fingertips into the sleeves and his knees up inside the body. he writes indescribable music and he’s even sort of nice about the albums he hates when he reviews them. he’s obsessed with epik high and critical reasoning and his puppy. he’s cute. he’s pretty. he’s mature, and credible, and talented, and really, really weird, and therein lies jungkook’s hesitation. 

min yoongi is big feelings material. min yoongi is hans zimmer soundtrack, frenching in the rain, quantum heart nut material, and every time jungkook sees him he feels at once too big for his body and like he wants to take a running jump off a diving platform. jungkook has known yoongi for three months and he already can’t imagine his life yoongi-less.

so he can’t kiss him yet. he can’t tell him yet.

but soon. soon.

 

*

 

you said last time you were here that some of your friends deal with mental health issues, too.

i - uh. i did, yes. they do.

do you think they’re less worth your time, effort, empathy - because of those mental health issues?

no, of course not. why would i drop them for something they can’t control? they’re my friends, i — oh.

‘oh’, indeed. we’ll return to that next time. after you leave today, i’d like you to write a list of things you feel you don’t deserve, or that you feel you can’t do until you’re “fixed”, as you referred to it earlier. next to the items on that list, i want you to write responses - as though one of your friends was giving you those reasons. are you happy to do that for me?

sure.

our time is nearly over for today, but something i want to discuss in these last few minutes is whether you think you would feel better if you had a - hmm. a toolbox, of sorts, to help you feel more in control. strategies you can use to fight the physiological symptoms of your anxiety when a situation becomes too much to handle. 

i think so, yes.

great. it sounds like some of the biggest strategies suggested for anxiety, you already have. a positive support network. a creative outlet in your dancing and vocal lessons. you’ve asked for help with your course, which was something that triggered your feelings of panic, and made you feel out of control. you’ve done really well to cultivate those things.

then why do i still feel so bad? why don’t i feel like i’ve made any progress?

do you think that, perhaps, you haven’t let yourself?

‘let’ myself?

sometimes facing your fears is the easy part. being proud of yourself for doing so can be much harder.

 

 

*

 

“do you ever think about how lucid dreaming is exactly like being awake, only you’re asleep?”

yoongi stills, one hand gripping the kettle at forty-five degrees and the other on the handle of his mug. he stares over his shoulder at jungkook.

“okay, first of all,” he says after a long moment, setting the kettle back into its dock so he can cross his arms over his chest and lean back against the counter. “what the fuck?”

they’re in the little kitchen on the second floor of the music department again. it’s not the only time they’ve been in there together since october, but the light is illuminating yoongi’s form in a similar way to how it did that first day, turning his hair and skin faded gold and buttery, except now it’s brightening towards spring instead of paling towards winter.

jungkook flattens his hands against the wheat grain of the table and takes a breath. “okay so, like. i was talking to namjoon—“

“christ god,” yoongi mutters, rolling his eyes to the ceiling. his jaw twitches like he’s trying not to smile. 

i was talking to namjoon,” jungkook repeats, shooting yoongi a look. “and he told me for it to be a lucid dream you have to be aware you’re dreaming, be in control of it, have some kind of power over what it is you’re dreaming about but not entirely, because you’re still dreaming.”

yoongi hums thoughtfully. “i read about this one guy who theorised lucid dreaming was like. micro-awakening? so you’re not completely awake and you’re not completely asleep.”

jungkook loves this about yoongi: how he’ll be lighthearted and teasing and casually engaged so the conversation doesn’t seem so big, yet still take jungkook utterly seriously when he gets to his actual point. he’s easy to talk to. conversations with him are always satisfying and safe in a way jungkook rarely feels with anyone else apart from maybe his parents, and it inspires daring in him. 

“yeah, exactly that. but i was thinking about how lucid dreaming is about having a certain amount of control over a reality that you’re aware is a dream, and how it feels real in a physical way even though you’re having the experience in your mind, right?”

 “right.”

“so how do we know we’re awake when we’re awake?” jungkook emphasises, slumping back in his chair. “we think we know when we’re awake and when we’re asleep but if you can control your own dreams like that, control that environment—“

“similar to how we do when we’re awake,” yoongi allows. he’s still looking at the ceiling, bathed in light. “okay, yeah.”

“—right, so if we can do all that in a dream then how is that different from being awake? we make decisions and control the environment to an extent and it feels like you’re moving around—“

“not everyone dreams like that, though.”

“but what if the people who do are like. glitching? or something like that, i don’t know. i saw this thing online about people who were like, losing time? and —“ he cuts himself off, fluffing a hand through his hair and wrinkling his nose at himself. “i don’t really know what i’m trying to say here. namjoon told me about lucid dreaming and now i think reality is a sham.”

“i understand where you’re coming from, i think. but i also think that if you focus on possibilities like that - possibilities like this world not being real - then you lose the value in reality. you’d start to think it’s pointless to wake up. to live.”

jungkook frowns. “that’s sad.”

they both go quiet, lost in thought.

“can i ask you a personal question?” yoongi says, when the silence stretches a little too long. he’s looking now, his dark, serious eyes scanning over jungkook’s face intently, and when jungkook shrugs he pushes away from the counter, moves to take the seat opposite jungkook at the table.

“so —“ he pauses, then holds his hand out, palm up. when jungkook sets his own hand flat atop it, yoongi laces their fingers together.

“what is it?” 

“i wanted to ask - to talk to you about, uh. about mental health stuff. sorry,” his voice is deliberately low, soothing, a clear reaction the way jungkook feels his own body stiffen. “i know this is really sudden.”

“i —“ jungkook can’t speak. 

he isn’t prepared for this.

of all the conversations he thought they might have this morning, this one was not on the list. the suddenness knocks him sideways a little, and he can feel a tightness in his chest that wasn’t there before. he had a couple of notes written down about it, how he might explain; it’s not that he doesn’t want to discuss this with yoongi because he kind of does. but it’s moved past the point where he can bite the bullet and bring it up out of the blue. there’s no proof of it, he’s been fine with yoongi. normal. he’s okay at the moment. he’s been doing really well.

“it’s okay, it’s fine,” yoongi says. 

he sounds totally calm, and it helps jungkook relax the tiniest bit.

“it’s — um.”

“take your time.” it’s gentle, no hint of condescension - just genuine earnestness. kindness. “squeeze my hand if it’s okay for me to continue.”

and then it strikes jungkook that he’s thinking — once again — about his anxiety like medication has fixed it. like he doesn’t know he has off days where he can’t move because everything feels overwhelming, can’t even pick up his phone to reply to yoongi’s sweet “good morning!” texts. like yoongi isn’t the most observant person he knows.

he hasn’t had a panic attack in front of yoongi but there’s the possibility he might at some point. because he’s still recovering. he’s in the midst of a process. yoongi deserves to know of that possibility so that if it happens he’s not in the dark. 

yoongi is quietly efficient when the need arises, great at comfort and physical affection, practically unshakable in most situations, but jungkook knows how scary a panic attack can be - can’t begin to comprehend what it might be like to witness it, completely helpless. can’t imagine what he’d do if it was yoongi having an attack. 

which reminds him, abruptly, of yoongi’s music. he recalls how he’d thought yoongi could sympathise more than he let on. thinks about the short, bass heavy snippet he’d found deep in the recesses of yoongi’s soundcloud, and the bitterness of the final lines: 

min yoongi is dead already. i killed him. 

he’s fallen so far into his own head, his own issues, that he’s forgotten he doesn’t know every facet of yoongi yet. he thinks there might be a lot neither of them have been ready to share before now. a lot they want to share: both of them. 

because this isn’t just about him anymore.

if he can be daring enough to spew bullshit about lucid dreaming and glitches in reality and his fears about sleep, to tell his parents about his big feelings, to go to therapy - surely he can be daring enough to let yoongi see the parts of himself he has tried so hard to compartmentalise. he can dare to believe yoongi will listen to them all and still want to hold his hand afterwards. 

he’s tired of propping up these final, flimsy walls. he wants to be someone yoongi can be vulnerable with. 

so he squeezes yoongi’s hand.

okay,” the calm in yoongi’s tone turns to something like relief, and jungkook knows he’s made the right choice. knows he was right about the mutuality. “okay. thank you.”

jungkook bites his lip as he regards yoongi - his lovely open face, his solemn eyes.

he takes a breath.

“what do you want to know?”

 

*

 

 

[21:24] yoongi
dropbox.com/hj01g0s9/jk-sofara[…]

[21:25] yoongi
it’s for you. ☆

 

 *

 

 

the whole kissing part seems easy after that.

“i spent such a long time being sad.” 

they’re sat cross-legged by the coffee table in jungkook’s living room, knees touching. yoongi turns a page of his notebook and smooths it down against his thigh, flat palmed and firm. he should look juxtaposed against the vase of orange gerberas on the surface beside him, honeyed and silver haired and wrapped in his chunkiest navy sweater, but he doesn’t. he looks like the focal point of a monet sunrise. 

“until i realised that probably, chemically, i’ll always be sad. but that doesn’t mean i can’t put the small reserve of energy i do have into things that make me happy. like holly, or the way spring feels, or bubble tea. namjoon calls it mindfulness. i just figure something’s gotta give from time to time, and if cuddling my puppy or getting high or stargazing or some shit is going to ground me in a moment like that, it makes everything at least a little bit worth it, you know?”

jungkook watches him for a moment. just takes him in: the way his neck is curved as he watches his own fingers curl around his biro, the way his hands look so golden against the white page and stark black ink. the way he just is. beautiful and patient and everything jungkook wants, all the time and forever.

jungkook he sets his textbook down, feeling his tummy twist bubbly and warm.

“hyung, is it okay if i kiss you?”

the smile that grows on yoongi’s face as he looks over at jungkook is stunning - he’s not the focal point of the sunrise anymore. he is the sunrise.

“always,” yoongi breathes. he sets the notebook aside, and when jungkook rises up to his knees he moves his big, warm hands to jungkook’s waist. he’s brighter than anything else in the room. “kook-ah. that is always, always okay.”

 

 

*

 

 

hobi has changed the group name to YOONGO’S SUPER GAY EXTRAVAGANZA!!!!!!
hobi has added you to the group

[21:21] chim: PLEASE we’re still recovering from YOUR big bday blowout
[21:21] hobi: HOO HOO
[21:23] yoongi : why are you like this

yoongi has changed the group name to party


[21:24] yoongi : march 9. it’s my bday or whatever
[21:24] hobi: ur all invited 2 casa del sope
[21:25] hobi: holly-themed gifts or sex toys only pls n ty

yoongi has removed hobi from the group

[21:27] yoongi : if any of you bring presents you will be banned. 

 

 

*

 

 

yoongi sends a variation on the ‘no presents’ theme every day during the week leading up to his birthday, most of them containing sentiments jungkook would not be comfortable showing to his grandmother. 

jungkook, of course, disregards them all. he’s never given presents to someone he’s in love with before and he intends to grab this new and exciting opportunity with both hands. also, he had to scour the internet for the rude kumamon stickers and the entire book of ghibli sheet music and the pricey hand cream he knows yoongi likes, and most importantly, the sparkliest, most embarrassing poodle-shaped keyring he could possibly find. he is not letting his successes go to waste. 

he spreads them all out on his bedcovers when they arrive. there’s about ten minutes of free time until yoongi swings by to pick him up after his last class, so with his hands on his hips he surveys the array with a firm nod, and then goes to retrieve the silver paper he bought mostly because it reminds him of yoongi’s hair. 

the hand cream and the keyring he wraps separately, then ties a pale grey ribbon around each little package. the other stuff he’ll probably hide in yoongi’s apartment tonight so he wraps the a4 neatly, folding the crisp edges and sticking them down with a satisfying tap. he thinks he might put them around yoongi’s piano somewhere, since they both have a full schedule of classes tomorrow and yoongi will hopefully be distracted enough by jungkook sleeping over and classes that he won’t be anywhere near the instrument to find them. jungkook will have to hope for the best about the three hour gap between classes and the party - he has study group and then he’s going home to get changed - but he gets the vibe that hoseok’s prep for this party will keep yoongi very much preoccupied.

jungkook has that floaty feeling in his blood again, like the floatiness he so vividly remembers feeling when he and yoongi had first met. at the time he’d thought it was an anxiety symptom; butterflies or panic or nausea. the potential of it had sent him running in the opposite direction. months later - and so much more sure of himself - he recognises it as pure and simple excitement.  

this time, he’s not running away. he’s going to try his very best to meet yoongi right in the middle. 

he stashes the gifts just in time for yoongi’s distinctive five beat knock to resound through the apartment, and opens the door to his boyfriend’s impish grin.

 

 

*

 

[00:00] jungkook
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

[00:01] yoongi
my bf texting me?? when he’s right next to me & could just kiss me????
more likely than you’d thiopgwmoifnrreiug 

 

 

*

 

 

pink,” is the first thing jungkook says when the door swings open.

“indeed.” yoongi runs a hand through his fringe, tugs the longest part at the front and goes cross eyed trying to look at it. “what do you think?”

jungkook actually feels like his entire brain has glitched, but he is not willing to admit to that. he stares at the dusty rose of yoongi’s hair - so much for the matching paper - trails his gaze slowly down to the silky cream of yoongi’s blouse, the silver hoops in his ears and the rings on his long fingers, the skintight black jeans. he’s the best kind of sensory overload. jungkook wants to push him against a wall, or maybe just hold his hand. 

“wow,” is what he says. “just. wow.”

yoongi wrinkles his nose but he’s quite clearly trying to tamp down on a smile. “thanks, kook-ah.”

“i mean - no, i mean. was this part of hobi-hyung’s party prep? i mean, you look really amazing,” jungkook says, finally regaining control of his wider mental capacity and slipping his arms around yoongi’s waist, drawing him into a hug. he presses his cold nose into the curve of his neck near his hairline, right against the new buzzed softness of his undercut, and breathes in citrus and salt and the acid tang of dye and a faint base note of the red wine yoongi has obviously already started drinking as he adds, “happy birthday, hyung.”

yoongi grins as he twines his arms around jungkook’s neck, crossing them at the wrist and moving right into jungkook’s space. he drops a kiss to just below jungkook’s jaw. 

thanks, kook-ah. my last class got cancelled so i went to the store with seok. we got a little crazy in the beauty aisle.”

“crazy beautiful.”

stop.”

they gravitate closer, jungkook still in his outer wear and the front door wide, yoongi in his thin blouse and wine-warm. it feels like a moment. yoongi’s heartbeat is exactly in sync with his own, and he keeps brushing velvet, dragging kisses against the flat of jungkook’s temple, the line of his cheekbone, his jaw.

“so,” jungkook whispers, after a while, “how does it feel to be twenty six?”

yoongi’s mouth pauses beneath jungkook’s ear. 

“do you feel old now, hyung? is the hair your midlife crisis?” he pauses. “am i your midlife crisis?”

he feels yoongi’s laughter all through his body. his tone is teasing, a low growl right against jungkook’s skin. “mm, only if you want to be, baby.”

the words send a surprising thrill through jungkook that yoongi definitely notices - despite the fact that he knows he’s just blushed in a way that does not make any secret of his reaction jungkook tries to play it off, digging through his jacket for the little parcel he’d stowed in there. he pulls back slightly but stays close, runs a palm down the length of yoongi’s arm and links their fingers together.

“okay, so. you know how you said no presents -“

jungkook.”

“just take it, hyung. it’s not much.” yoongi squints at him suspiciously. “it really isn’t. just some stuff that made me think of you. i hid the other part under your piano before i left this morning,” he sighs, turning the parcel over in his hand and squeezing yoongi’s hand. “i didn’t want to get you nothing even though you were pretty adamant about the whole banning thing. plus i’d already got it all by that point. i figured you like me too much to ban me.” 

there’s an overloud groan from the living room.

gross. are you guys finished flirting? you’re letting the heat out.”

yoongi huffs and flattens his free hand over jungkook’s closest ear, yells back in the hilarious whiny tone he and hoseok seem to save specifically to communicate with each other, “it’s my birthday, seok, i can do what i like in this apartment until midnight at least.” 

“how much do you want to bet he and namjoon were sucking face so hard he didn’t notice you’d left the room until they came up for air?”

“i don’t need to bet on that possibility because i already know you’re correct,” yoongi says dryly, “unfortunately, from first hand experience. i’ve seen more of the inside of namjoon’s mouth tonight than i’ve ever wished to.”

jungkook makes a face. “why are they so gross?”

“the same reason we’re so gross,” yoongi replies airily, shrugging. “because we have big scary feelings for each other.”

it’s the closest either of them have come to saying the words - behind yoongi’s nonchalant facade there’s hesitance, jungkook can see it in the set of his jawline, like he thinks jungkook will disagree or brush it off. he has no intention of doing so.

“we do,” he says, leaning in to tug the swell of yoongi’s bottom lip between his teeth, a gentle pull and release, and then kisses him full on the mouth once, twice, four times. gets lost in the feel of it a little, then draws back to continue, watching yoongi watch his lips as he speaks. “lots of them. but i don’t want namjoon to see the inside of either of our mouths.”

it’s not the right time to say it properly, not here in the hallway before yoongi’s birthday party, but he’s going to tell him soon. really, really soon.

 

 

*

 

 

hoseok drops bodily to the floor, to the backing of yells and delighted clapping from everyone else in the room. 

jungkook has heard this song a hundred times already during dance warm ups and any steps he didn’t glean from that he picked up from the video later. it’s really going to amuse the girls and taehyung, who have all individually messaged him about this group at some point in the last four months only to be left on read as though he doesn’t have ‘kiss later’ set as his morning meds alarm. 

this song, though. this song is sexy. it’s seductive. hoseok is gesturing at him wildly and jungkook has had a glass of wine and all of his friends are here and yoongi is smiling at him from across the room with holly cradled against his chest and yoongi loves it when jungkook dances and he’s so fucking in love. he’s so in love. when yoongi had opened his eyes to find jungkook next to him this morning, he’d hidden his face in the pillows to cover the sheer delight that had streamed across his features. jungkook had seen it, though. he’d felt the words yoongi had traced into his back as they’d kissed, deep and slow. 

he is ready to embarrass himself in the name of that. and he really likes this song. 

jungkook tugs a giggling momo over by the wrist and into formation just as the bass kicks in. taehyung shrieks.

the wine has loosened his muscles enough to sink straight into the first hip thrust, the pretty, twisting hand movements turning the power in his thighs nearly delicate - he’s watched himself do this in the mirror a lot. he locks eyes with yoongi, then shoots him a glance over his own shoulder that he hopes carries the mischievous heat he’s feeling. over the pulsing beat he can hear his friends wolf whistling, although he’s not sure whether that’s for him or for hoseok, who jungkook knows is currently on his knees and sticking his backside in the air. yoongi hasn’t looked away from jungkook for a second.

the beat is languidly sexy and so are the moves, but there’s something about the idea of yoongi’s entire, quicksilver intensity focused so absolutely on him that gets his pulse racing. 

it’s mind-blowing, that yoongi wants him like this. wants him like jungkook wants yoongi

jungkook slides his hand, flat palmed, down his thigh and watches yoongi’s lips part. his hold on his wine glass is precarious and his cheeks are steadily flushing the same colour pink as his hair. as jungkook extends his arm and flutters his fingers in a come hither motion, leaning forward in slow motion only to snap backwards again, yoongi cups the base of the glass and moves it to his lips like he doesn’t quite know what else to do with his hands.

jungkook feels molten. 

powerful

“jungkook-ah, go!”  he hears suran yell, and all the air seems to rush back into the room at the same time. 

he really did just do that. he did that in front of all of his friends, oh god. he’s never going to live it down and every moment of teasing will be fully worth the way yoongi had forgotten to breathe.

he starts giggling at the sudden ridiculousness of it all, slipping deliberate aegyo into his movements, over-extending his little marching steps and drawing a huge dramatic box in the air with a flourish that sets everyone laughing again. he sees a blur of pink and white slip into the kitchen, and his cheeks hurt from the force of his smile.  

when the song finishes the three of them receive a mostly tipsy standing ovation - they take their bows all in a row, and jungkook slips away in pursuit of his boyfriend. 

 

 

*

 

 

he wakes up gradually, without any recollection of even having fallen asleep, with limbs heavy and slow like pouring molasses. his eyelids blink open and flicker against the sunlight streaming in through the window where they'd forgotten to close the curtains the night before, and then widen, before his lips curve into a soft, slightly overwhelmed grin.

during the course of the night, they've stayed tangled together- it's a little stickywarm where skin touches skin- but their faces are so close that he can feel yoongi’s breath on his lips; can feel the steadily emanating heat from where his flushed, lightly freckled cheeks have caught the sun.

yoongi suddenly draws in a breath, holds it and his eyelashes flutter. his pupils are huge when his eyes open and by degrees, black turns to deep brown as sleep recedes and he focuses on jungkook’s face.

"good morning," he murmurs, voice low and rusty from disuse. the skin around his eyes crinkles as he smiles and jungkook’s stomach clenches; he raises his fingers to yoongi’s cheekbone, tracing a line of freckles on the divide between heated pink and cooler peach. yoongi hums, tipping their foreheads together and closing his eyes again. 

"you forgot to close the curtains last night."

"i forgot?" an eye opens - even with just the one, yoongi still manages to look scathing.

jungkook presses an affectionate kiss to his temple, unable to hide his bright grin. "i was barely conscious. it was totally your responsibility.”

“i was drunk.”

“you’re a lightweight. don’t you have a hangover?”

“geniuses don’t get hangovers -“

hyung.”

yoongi just looks at him, something hidden but joyful in his expression and jungkook thinks i’m going to tell him right now, body charged like static electricity is running through his veins instead of blood —

— but then his phone trills from yoongi’s desk and the moment is broken. all of that potential energy retreats, utterly and completely, leaving only a feeling like fizzy jelly in his limbs from sleep and wine and thoughts of bravery and proximity to yoongi. heaving a deep sigh, jungkook rolls over and very nearly just falls out of bed with the looseness of his limbs. when he gets to the desk he runs a hand over the music book with a smile, smooths out one of the ribbons as he picks up his phone.

he scowls when he sees the caller id. 

"no," he says before jimin can even speak. he catches a brief glimpse of himself in the mirror above the bedside vanity, puffy cheeked and fluffy haired in the pale sunlight, and begins finger combing his fringe into some semblance of tidiness as he wanders back over to the bed.

"very much yes," jimin replies, unperturbed. “it’s nearly eight and we need caffeine. if you’ve finished ‘giving hyung his birthday present’ - which i’m frankly still suspicious about the innocence of after your performance last night by the way - can you tell yoongi he’s a shitty dog owner and that holly misses him? we’ve adopted him now. he’s moving across the hall forever."

jungkook nearly chokes on his tongue, ignoring the smug tone in jimin’s voice and pausing with one knee on the mattress. 

"are you kidding me?”

“what?”

“we saw you five hours ago! are you still drunk?" 

“holly woke us up. as i said, we’re trying to avoid hyung’s room in case you were doing it.” 

“jimin, oh my god,” he looks at yoongi, who's watching him with his cheek pillowed on his forearms, still blinking sleepily. jungkook’s heart does some olympic level acrobatic gymnastics with its component parts. "it's eight in the morning, hyung. they're calling us at eight in the morning for coffee.”

yoongi turns his face against the sheets, presumably to bury a laugh, and jungkook grins, clambering over to plaster himself around yoongi’s body as taehyung yells loud enough for jungkook to move the phone away from his ear, "porridge!

tangerines! bacon! egg toast!” momo calls from somewhere in the background, then there’s a muffled thump they can both hear in real life rather than through the phone, and three different voices shrieking from the direction of the kitchen.

“egg egg egg,” chants yoongi, nonsensically, before he huffs and wriggles to face jungkook again. jungkook can feel the timbre of his voice through his own ribcage. they watch each other quietly. "actually, egg toast does sound really good right now." 

hyung.”

yoongi yelps when jungkook pokes his fingers into yoongi’s waist. the phone drops from jungkook’s hand to the rumpled sheets as yoongi reciprocates the attack, falling into a messy pretzel of laughter and flailing, until jungkook’s heart is going triple time for a different but not unrelated reason. 

"if you're having sex right now, I hate you!" jimin calls cheerfully, voice tinny and distant, and ignored. jungkook somehow manages to hang up the call and flip yoongi beneath him in the same move, bracing himself on his elbows and pinning yoongi’s slim wrists to the pillow either side of his head. 

yoongi stops shifting immediately, staring up at him with his bottom lip caught between his teeth. his hair is a staticky mess, a huge chunk of his fringe swooping upwards so that most of his forehead and the darker strawberry of his undercut are visible. a crayola bright flush deepens across his cheekbones. the silence stretches on, and jungkook thinks, oh.  

he tightens the loop of his fingers very, very slightly, just enough for yoongi’s breath to hitch, for his mouth to fall open, and leans in to bite gently at yoongi’s lower lip where there’s a pale dent from yoongi’s own teeth. he licks across it, soothing, and then presses their mouths together. 

yoongi surges up into it - jungkook releases his wrists, files yoongi’s reaction to that as something to revisit for later, in an adjacent category to his own reaction to last night’s low, rasping baby - and yoongi tangles the fingers of his right hand in the soft hair at the crown of jungkook’s head, guiding gently for a better angle as their mouths open. 

he still tastes like sweet wine, a bit stale, and it should be disgusting but it’s not. his left hand moves flat against the small of jungkook’s back, under his tshirt. when jungkook traces yoongi’s soft palate with the tip of his tongue the hand at his back clutches and releases with the feeling of it, a shiver running through yoongi’s body like a sound wave. 

“we’re on t-minus fifteen until they collectively break the door down,” yoongi detaches himself to say, what must be minutes later. he grins breathlessly up at jungkook, gummy and pink and beautiful. 

and this is it. this is the moment, settled and intimate. the day is just beginning, and he’s in bed with a beautiful man who looks at him like in spite of however many weird things he does, whatever dumb shit he says, however embarrassing and difficult and painful some days might be, jungkook is worth investing in. maybe because of all that. 

he has tenderly, patiently slipped into the deepest recesses of jungkook’s heart, utterly and irreversibly, and jungkook adores him. 

“i love you.”

there’s a pause while time seems to recalibrate itself, and then - “oh.” yoongi’s eyes are so wide, new moons in his lovely, heart-like face.

“yoongi, i love you,” the floodgates have opened, but he doesn’t even care. he’s never been more confident about babbling before in his life. he wants yoongi to know. he wants him to understand. “everything about you. every single thing. i never thought i could feel this much at all, let alone feel it for another person. it’s like - each time i see you i just feel more, like i’m going to need to file for an extension of myself or something-“

sounding choked, yoongi interrupts, “like you’ve run out of updates and you need a model with more storage.”

“you’re such a nerd.” jungkook is giggling helplessly so it’s a slightly hypocritical accusation. “god. god.” he has to press his face into yoongi’s neck because eye contact is too intense right now, so overwhelming, and he doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. his whole body is on the edge of liftoff. “i’m so in love with you.”  

the relief of saying the words out loud is ridiculous - he hadn’t expected the confession to feel as good as it does - and yoongi. yoongi is dropping a kiss into jungkook’s hair and wrapping his entire body around jungkook, arms around his neck and shoulders, legs around his waist, gripping tight like a koala as though jungkook might, god forbid, leave this bed ever again in his life.  

“i love you too,” yoongi says, and jungkook exhales sharply. his entire body goes slack like a puppet with its strings cut, folding right into yoongi, wholly and completely. “love you so much. you’re so brave, kook-ah, thank you.” 

“you make me want to be.” he can feel the shift of yoongi’s smile against his own hair. “i always want to be brave with you.”

jungkook kisses beneath his ear. the bolt of his jaw, the flushed rise of his cheek, the wing-translucent membrane under his eye. yoongi’s eyes are closed when jungkook pulls back a little, but they flutter open when he feels the weight of jungkook’s gaze on his face. when jungkook starts to laugh, his dark eyebrows raise in question.

“what?” 

jungkook keeps giggling, but presses his lips back to yoongi’s. he can feel yoongi’s lips curve upwards in response, and quells his own laughter in order to kiss yoongi hard enough that they both end up grinning against each other’s lips like idiots. yoongi pecks him oncetwice in quick succession and unwinds his tight koala grip, relaxing back into the mattress with a satisfied sigh. jungkook rolls onto his back beside him. yoongi twines their fingers together, kisses jungkook’s knuckles like he can’t stop touching now he’s allowed to. he leaves their hands there, breath gentle against the back of jungkook’s hand. jungkook knows he’s beaming at the ceiling but it’d be fruitless to hide it. he feels - incandescent

brave. he feels brave.

“i’m really happy,” says yoongi, after a moment. jungkook shifts his head to look at him. yoongi hides his smile behind their joined hands, but his eyes are like crescent moons.

“same.”

“i’m also really hungry. i’m still waiting on that egg toast.”

jungkook groans and yoongi laughs, that weird choking, swooping noise that knocks him for six. in perfect time, there’s a hammering on the bedroom door. holly and tannie start yapping in tandem, and as the door starts to open, suran and taehyung and namjoon’s voices filter through from the kitchen, arguing over the diet of the tangerine lobster. 

“post-birthday sex is over, time for breakfast!” seokjin calls, swinging the door wide in a move jungkook thinks is, frankly, pretty risky given the assumptions the others had made about the nature of their bed sharing. yoongi punches the air with his free hand, cheering “egg toast!” in the highest note he can reach. it’s very cute.

“weird orgasm noise, but i can’t judge,” hoseok strolls in behind seokjin, flopping down between yoongi and jungkook, right on top of jungkook’s outstretched arm. “ah, fully dressed. disappointing.” seokjin starfishes straight on top of him and hoseok makes a sound like all the air has been let out of him at once. even as he complains, he wiggles down the bed so there’s enough room as holly launches himself at the mass of them. 

the intimacy of confession is broken but the lightness remains as the others converge. jungkook thinks probably this is what yoongi must have meant by mindfulness. finding bright spots in linear sadness that make things feel at least a little bit worth putting up with the rest of it. 

with the beginning of spring right around the corner, surrounded by all of his favourite people in the entire world, holding the hand of his very favourite person, sunlight streaming through the window, holly curling into a silky, warm croissant shape on his chest: jungkook feels brave. 

he thinks about october, about how awful he felt all the time. about the summer before it, when he’d worked two jobs to save for a course he would have come close to quitting if not for the combined, tireless efforts of suran and namjoon, joohyun’s patience, and nayeon’s infinite kindness. the way jimin and hoseok had set things in motion so easily when they knew jungkook couldn’t do it alone. pictures how many times taehyung and momo had let him cry silently onto their shoulders. the space he was given to love himself. recalls yoongi baring his own vulnerabilities in order to let jungkook know that it was safe for them to do that with each other. 

and equally as important, he now understands, is how much he’s done for himself. strategies and toolboxes don’t do much good unless you keep taking them out, keep learning, keep wielding, keep practicing. he could wake up tomorrow feeling the worst he’s ever felt in his life, but for today, he feels proud. he feels proud, and brave, and soft, and loved.

he feels awake.

like he’s in tune with jungkook’s thoughts - which wouldn’t be a total surprise at this point - yoongi peeks over namjoon’s head and gives his hand a squeeze. 

love you, he mouths. jungkook’s smile scrunches his entire face.

they’re so cute!” someone wails —

— and then nayeon kicks seokjin by accident, and seokjin starts dramatising at the top of his voice. 

still smiling, jungkook threads his fingers through holly’s fur and closes his eyes to listen as the air fills with laughter.

 

 

*

 


it’s been a while since we last saw each other. you look well.

thank you, so do you.

ah, thank you very much. so… how have you been, jungkook?

good.

good?

i think so, yeah. i feel good. not always, not all the time. not everyday. but mostly… pretty good. 

is it fair to say you feel in control of your life for the most part?  

yes. absolutely.

that’s fantastic. 

it is. someone - my boyfriend. we talked about lucid dreaming one time, a while ago. 

you did?

yes. i told him i was worried about… well, the overlap between dreams and reality. how to know if we’re really awake when we’re awake. 

that’s deep stuff. what did he say?

he said that when you start thinking about that too much, you start to believe it. you don’t find worth in your everyday life anymore. you forget to live.

interesting answer.

i thought so. 

what do you think about that? do you agree?

i think i don’t mind so much whether i’m awake or asleep, as long as i’m happy. as long as i’m living each day actively. dreams aren’t necessarily a bad thing. 

they aren’t. 

i think.. i think even if i am dreaming, i’m not scared to be. not anymore.

 

*