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Tears to the Tide

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*******

 

The final weeks of winter are inky and dreary, wet grounds soaking the soles of shoes and boots leaving them on a permanent dampness. It is imperceptibly brighter in the west.

Jimin's workshop is in the east, where everything bright is veiled in the looming shadows of the faraway hills. The air is so frigid, crisp and cold; that one would often opt not to speak, as if able to keep the warmth inside with their mouths shut. Not even a blade of dead grass or the topmost of the trees stir in the dead of the winter, frosty leaves keeping them stark upright. 

In the coldness of the hilly sides, within the artificial warmth of the workshop, Jungkook stays later than late. 

He is on his third week on the potter’s wheel, coming here every other day after work. Sometimes he would come after the bi-weekly psychotherapist session to perfect his craft, on easy days that is. Sometimes he goes to Jimin’s, sometimes he would sneak his way into Hoseok’s advanced classes, watching the man teach his students how to sculpt clay into elaborate ceramics.

Jungkook has found himself falling more for the art, loving the feel of wet clay in his hands, finding more peace as he loses himself for hours trying to create something with the hands he used to hate so much.

Right now, only the both of them are left in the workshop as night falls. Hoseok is long gone home, leaving everywhere else darkened and solitary except for Jimin’s classroom. The said man sits patiently on his side, watches as Jungkook bends a cylinder into a nice bowl with his thumb on the potter's wheel.

“Mm, you’re doing good Kookie.”

Jimin’s words are a mere hush as he watches Jungkook handle the cold clay carefully, lips pursing in concentration. Jungkook carefully pulls up his thumb to get the wall to follow the shape and movement of his fingers.

He is almost done with the bowl when he accidentally indents a finger, and gets the wall all sloppy and irregular.

Jungkook loses more control of the wall and begins to giggle when the clay goes out of shape. He tries to fix it, but accidentally gets the wheels to turn faster, making the clay bend and flop, as it waddles left and right. On his side, Jimin is already laughing out loud, his laughter bouncing off the quiet walls of the classroom.

“Baby, stop laughing!”

Jimin is giggling with abandon, his body swaying around even when the potter’s wheel has stopped rotating, and Jungkook has cut the base of the clay with the cut-off wire to remove the slob of an odd-looking teapot, or an elaborate bowl away. He wipes the ghost of a sweat off his forehead, his face a picture of faux frustration.

“This is your fault, hyung! I was distracted! I can’t even do a bowl and it’s been more than two weeks.”

Jimin laughs again at Jungkook’s sulky confession, the younger's lips pursing in a pout. “You can do a bowl well, you’re just a perfectionist. Want me to show you again how to do it?”

Jungkook nods fervently, and scoots over as Jimin takes another stool to sit at the same spot, holding his legs open for the potter’s wheel to fit in between his thighs. Without waiting for much longer, Jungkook takes the opportunity to sit behind him, as if backhugging while watching.

“Baby, we’re not doing Ghost. How can you watch from the back? Sit in front of me.”

Following his instruction like an obedient child, Jungkook resettles in his new spot. Jimin is still smiling like a fool on his side, teeth out and lips wide. 

With a new clay in hand he has been smacking for awhile, Jimin throws the clay in the middle of the potter’s wheel. He continues smacking on the medium-sized lump of clay, strong hands sure and swift. Then he wets his hands a bit, dipping them in a bowl positioned on the small table next to them.

“Okay you’re ready?”

Jungkook nods, keen eyes on Jimin's hands.

As if on cue, Jimin quickly starts the potter’s wheel on medium speed, cupping the clay with both his hands gently.

The lump remains in the same shape for awhile until Jimin squeezes the clay with his left hand’s fingertips and the heel of his right palm, pulling it up. Like this his veiny, strong hands appear Herculean; indestructible, yet delicate in touch.

Jimin does it so easily that even as he speaks, he speaks with a perennial smile, as if he is not doing anything remotely intricate with his hands. “So, why are you making bowls, Kookoo? We have so many bowls?”

Jungkook shrugs from where he sits even when Jimin cannot really see him, eyes focused on the clay forming in his grip. “I like bowls, ramen bowls especially. And it’s the easiest. You make everything look easy, hyung.”

Jimin laughs at his response, cheeks bunching up to squeeze his eyes shut. “I learnt this for years, Jungkook. I teach this. I’m supposed to make it look easy.”

Jungkook watches attentively how Jimin's deft hands handle the cylindrical clay, as he carefully positions his thumb in the middle of the clay and presses down nicely. His right hand is positioned on top of his left thumb as a guide, act as a double manual press. The cylinder starts to taper down in height as his fingers get closer to the bottom of the bowl.

The man's fingers now stay on the side of the bowl, the heel of the hand staying on the same spot over the thumb, as he cleans the outside walls cleanly with his dainty fingers.

“When you want to push down to make the opening, you have to push real slow, like your hands are not really pushing. But they’re there. The clay will mould, it won’t stay the same even if your hands are not moving, so don’t worry.”

Jungkook nods and tries to emulate the form and shape of Jimin’s hands, practicing on air.

Dipping his hands in the water again, Jimin puts his wet fingertips in the middle of the rotating clay bowl, one hand on top of the other, as the bowl slowly curves and forms. He thins out the wall next with his fingers. One hand in, one hand out, Jimin eases off the pressure towards the rim, elongating the wall a bit more to form a larger, taller bowl.

A big ramen bowl.

He puts his fingers in to clean off the curve, expertly compressing the rim with a pinch between two fingers. Jimin is always meticulous with everything he does, and Jungkook knows how many hours, months and years he has spent to perfect his skills, be a master at his art.

Then Jimin takes an old business card and puts it inside the bowl, carefully easing towards the bottom to clean the edges off uneven surfaces. The bowl now appears clean and shiny, wet from the water but not too much.

Jimin takes a scraper next and puts the tip at the bottom of the bowl, the scraping sound distinct as he cleans the bottom off excess clay. Then he takes a cutting wire, pulling it taut before dexterously cutting the bottom up, as the bowl now rotates on slow speed.

He lifts it up for Jungkook to see with both of his hands, putting it on a tray next.

Jungkook watches everything Jimin does in awe, before speaking again with his hands on the tray, holding it close.

“This bowl is mine.”

Jimin laughs again as he wipes his wet hands on a piece of cloth, watching as Jungkook peppily peers into the bowl. It is almost the size of his face. “It’s yours, baby.”

“You’re amazing, Jiminie.”

Jimin smiles softly at the name, and at the sight of Jungkook smiling into the bowl, smiles even gentler.

“I don’t know how you know just how much pressure to put, where to press and stuff.”

“You’ll learn in time, Kookie. Sometimes it’s not about putting pressure or pushing for the clay to change shape, most of the times it’s about where you put your fingers and palms at. The clay will change shape according to that.”

Jungkook turns to look at Jimin who is now trying to scrape the excess clay off the potter’s wheel. The sweater he is wearing is Jungkook's, large in all possible ways, that it is almost like Jimin is walking around in a blanket.

“I've always known how smart you are, but I'd never have pegged you as the philosopher type, hyung.”

Jimin laughs out loud at that, hands still scraping the wet clay away. Jungkook extends his hand out to wipe a smear of clay on his soft cheek. 

“Really? I don't know I can talk philosophy.” Jimin's voice is cottony soft, words spoken beneath a shy smile before he continues. “I guess the wheel is like life, it spins the clay round and round and eventually it will change form, whether we like it or not.”

Jimin raises his eyes then, carefully looking at Jungkook as he speaks next. “What we can do is grow with the change, and accept it as a part of us. If you can’t change with the wheels, it’s going to collapse, or hurt. That’s what I learnt, and will keep on learning. I guess I’m still learning.”

Jimin carefully collects all the remaining clay into a tray, all the spoilt one he needs to process later. Jungkook helps out with a scraper, turning to the man as he speaks.

“Do you think you've changed?”

“I think so,” Jimin smiles at Jungkook as he speaks, a hint of something nostalgic in the corners of his smile. "I think I changed a lot, Jungkook. I don’t look the same, nor do I feel the same about a lot of stuff. I used to refuse to accept that or understand that. I hurt you by not accepting that, and by not accepting the fact that you needed to change too. I guess it hurts because we changed without each other for once. We used to grow together.”

“Like weeds.”

Jimin laughs at Jungkook's response, voice taking on a deeper tone as he stands up and head for the sink close to the teacher's desk.

“Like weeds, from our teenage days. And suddenly you’re gone for three years, and you came back. You had these painful years behind you, and I expected you to be the same, when I’m not. I’m sorry, Jungkook.”

Jungkook follows with his eyes every movement the man makes, finding himself washing his hands after Jimin did, while the man finds his seat on the teacher's desk. Once he has both of his hands clean, Jungkook takes a small stool and sits the opposite of him, like a student to a teacher, who is dangling his legs while inspecting his clean hands.

“You know that saying? The still point of the turning world?" Jimin murmurs as he studies Jungkook's pointy fingers, wiping off stubborn leftover clay with his fingers. "I saw you like that, and it’s wrong. You are my constant because I want you always, not because I want you to stay the same. People can’t stay the same, we’re apart of nature, and we grow like the seasons.”

The fondness is thick and the love is loud within Jungkook’s ears, so he reaches out to hold Jimin’s fingers beneath his, feeling the smaller fingers in between his own bony ones.

“I’m sorry for making you feel like you're not enough, Jungkook. You're always enough.”

Jimin smiles at him apologetically, and Jungkook wants to wipe that guilt off his face. He stands up and wiggles his way in between Jimin’s legs, entrapped by the man's robust thighs. Then Jungkook pecks his cheeks, his lips, and his forehead with his lips, careful about wanting more.

“That’s not your fault, Jimin. I came back and expected you to understand everything without telling. I left a human-sized void for you to fill with your thoughts of me, and of course you would fill it with everything you knew, everything we had before. I was so keen to believe that I’ve not changed at all, and that I’m still the Jungkook you know, because I thought that was the only one you love.”

Jimin shakes his head at that, and Jungkook touches his lips with his thumb, carefully feeling the slope of the soft flesh. In the winter where everything is bleak and pale like Jimin's skin, his thick lips are sunkissed and peach-red, always invigorating, inviting.

“I don’t blame you at all, hyung. I never blamed you. Those years were difficult, and I came back and I projected my hurt on you, because I see you as a constant too. I kept thinking you're better off with others, that I wouldn't be good for you now that I'm no longer who I was. I feel tainted, jaded. So I hurt you. That was wrong. What I did was wrong, I'm sorry.”

“Jungkook, it's okay.”

"My mind wasn't in the right place, Jimin. I don't know if it has found the right place, now. I still feel wacky at times." Jungkook laughs a bit as he says, that, but he does not feel bitter about it.

Jimin does not wait long, eyes on Jungkook as he replies. "It's okay baby, you're doing good."

In the midst of the soft smiles, Jungkook remembers Jimin’s tips about throwing a bowl, pushing but not really pushing. He presses the thumb on Jimin’s lips, eyes flittering up to the older man’s sharp eyes.

"You said we must push but not really push isn’t it.”

Jimin hums in answer.

“Well, is this-“ Jungkook kisses Jimin swiftly, nipping the familiar lips like how Jimin's expert fingers ripped excess clay from a thrown bowl previously, before pulling back. “Is this pushing it?”

“No.” Jimin pulls his head close, kissing him as he whispers in a soft smile, “This is how it’s supposed to be.”

Jungkook kisses him passionately after that, cupping Jimin’s face with one hand, and holding his hip with another as Jimin's thighs keep him squeezed between his limbs. Jungkook sucks Jimin's lower lip, slotting his tongue in the man's open mouth, and repeats that again and again with his upper lip. Jimin does not let go, relentless in his pursuit of Jungkook's tongue, only letting go when Jungkook kisses the corner of his mouth, his sharp jaw, his cheekbones.

He doesn’t get to break free when Jimin moans, pushing his face into the slope of his neck, wanting Jungkook to kiss and mark the places where he used to, where Jimin missed him the most.

Jungkook bites on the mating mark, slotting his teeth on the parts where it fits. He is brought back to the memories of their mating, but Jimin's soft voice brings him back to the present again. Jungkook lets go of the embrace to look at Jimin again.

“Will you begin with me again, Jimin?”

Jimin hugs him tightly in answer, chest to shoulders as he whispers into his ears. “We’ve already begun.”

 

******

 

It is one of those difficult days, one of those nights again, where they find themselves with a crowd of people.

Jungkook is seated near one end of the long rectangular table; bowls and plates he helped set up earlier are within his line of sight, as he waits for everybody to get ready for the party. Jimin is standing next to him as he fiddles around with the tongs, putting raw meat on the grill. As always, the omega has one of his hands in Jungkook’s.

Jungkook contemplated a lot on coming when they got the invitation, even when he knew he is doing okay. He was jittery when he discussed this with Jimin, who let him decide what he wants. The crowd will be small, so he eventually said yes, believing that the best place to begin recovery is always with his brothers, his husband by his side.

It is Seokjin and Yoongi’s daughter’s birthday, and they celebrate it at the couple's apartment a little twenty minutes away from Jungkook and Jimin's house. When they first arrived at the apartment an hour earlier, he found himself walking out and about, kitchen to living room, interior to balcony to see if he can calm his nerves with the chill of the winter winds. There are no strangers here, all familiar faces, but Jungkook is still trying hard to shake away the dark ominous thoughts in his mind whenever he is in a place with many people. 

Seokjin came to fetch him earlier when he was out staring at the snowy roads from the balcony, silently holding out an opened beer for him to drink from. Said it could help with the nerves. They spoke a bit about everything and nothing, and Seokjin actually managed to make him laugh with a joke or two.

Jungkook feels more eased now that everyone has settled in their seats and no one else is coming, except for Hoseok and Namjoon soon. It unnerves him a bit when he cannot control the situation, cannot assess any threat in a circumstance.

Jungkook watches from his seat as Seokjin mixes the glass noodles and vegetables in the kitchen when the doorbell rings, not able to leave to open the door with his gloved hands. Yoongi takes charge and flits out from the kitchen to open the door, his baby daughter running along with him excitedly.

“Hello hyung! Hello little Kim baby!” Hoseok barges in, hands already scrambling to take the child standing next to his father's legs at the door, gathering her into his arms. “We brought more rice wine. And chocolate for the good girl!”

Muffled sounds of kisses later, Namjoon and Hoseok slowly emerge from the entrance, shoes off and house slippers on, ready to join the party at the table. Everyone welcomes and bows to the new guests, hugging each other next. 

Taehyung is still fiddling with the setting of his Leica in between taking every shot he can get of the food on the table, the small chocolate cake Jimin baked earlier, and mostly of his little niece waddling about in her sky blue skirt. Jungkook avoids getting in the viewfinder, but oddly enough finds himself in various forced self-photos with both Jimin and Taehyung.

“I cooked this seafood stew, this pancake, that seaweed soup. Your Seokjin hyung is doing only that, and he’s taking so much time!”

Yoongi yells purposely to the kitchen before Seokjin yells back an answer, something along the line of how he is not going to grill meat for Yoongi soon.

Jimin still has his hands full, grilling meat on the small grill in the middle of the table, tongs in one hand and a chopstick in another. He tosses the cooked meat on plates, a double for Jungkook, whose hand is forever attached to the top of his hip.

While Jungkook finds himself out of words sometimes or appearing distant, he knows Jimin knows; knows their friends understand he is still slowly easing into everything.

He went to see Yoongi a few times to check on his injuries, and ended up getting a few short peptalk from the nurse. Taehyung does not force him to talk at all—always the gentlest of them all. On some days when his classes end early, he would come over to visit, and they would talk about the good old days from school. Seokjin would understand the most, himself battling the disease earlier than Jungkook does.

The said man arrives at the dining table soon enough to put the meal on the table, a nice huge platter of colourful vegetables. Ara, who sits comfortably beneath Hoseok’s arms, claps her small hands in excitement at his father's craft, making Seokjin beam so wide. Everybody coos to that, including Jimin who giggles uncontrollably, probably from the amount of alcohol and sweets he had been devouring from the minute they got into the house.

“This pup is going to be the death of me!” Hoseok yells before lifting her up, blowing raspberries on her tummy as she giggles cheerfully. On his side, Namjoon looks over lovingly, only his eyes are brave enough to touch the child, hands awkward on his laps.

While the rest of the table dwellers are busy exchanging food and bowls, Jungkook watches as Hoseok quietly offers Namjoon a chance to hold the girl, which the man accepts awkwardly. His large hands appear stiff as they hover on the child’s body, as if holding an agar. Hoseok fixes their position a few times, a soft laugh loyal on his lips.

There is so much love and understanding shared between those two, and Jungkook understands fully why Namjoon says it is always easy to love Hoseok, why it is easy to love when you want to. Jungkook watches as Hoseok keeps on making funny noises to get Ara to beam her small teeth to him, and ease on Namjoon’s laps.

Jimin, who is still standing, turns to Jungkook as he chats with Yoongi, not breaking conversation as he scoops a spoonful of glass noodles into Jungkook’s bowl. He only speaks to Jungkook once he puts a meat on top of it.

“Eat this please, Mr. Jeon. You didn’t eat much for breakfast, and I’m sure you skipped lunch too.”

Jungkook simply nods obediently, before Jimin pinches his cheek, bowing sideways to kiss the top of his head next.

All around the table everyone is seated and ready to devour the abundance of meat and vegetables, noodles and pastries all around; the prickling sound of the simmering stew and the tangy scent of chilli peppers making everything appear ten times more delicious.

Seokjin who has found his seat next to Jungkook hands him a bowl of side dish, which the man promptly takes. “How’s your treatment going, Kook?”

Jungkook turns to the man to answer, not expecting the question. “Good. Dr. Im is strong.”

Seokjin laughs a bit. “Yeah. He’s tough, the best man-wolf and doctor I know. You think you’re healing well?”

“Thanks to Im Jaebum, your Jin hyung doesn’t crush me in my sleep anymore.” Yoongi retorts and before the said man could reply, Yoongi shoves a half-cooled meat into his mouth. Seokjin simply chews at it as his hand reaches forward to gently tug at a protruding hair on the backside of Yoongi’s hair, in both an act of love and humour.

“You love it when I crush you, babe. Like last night.”

Taehyung screams from the other end of the table, a coke can in one hand. “Hey hey! We have a baby here, hyung!”

“He loves it when I crush him, Tae. What do I do?”

Before Seokjin could laugh like he always does, Yoongi is already shoving a medium-sized meat wrap in his mouth which the man accepts happily. He chews it for half a minute before saying a small thanks to Yoongi who answers in a grunt.

Jungkook watches every exchange in delight, feeling himself at ease more as the night ripens.

“Yes, we’re doing a lot. There’s a lot of progress. It's painful but it's good.”

Jungkook skips the difficult details, the things he thinks would not do anyone good if known. Jimin knows what he is going through and that is enough. And with a single glance at Seokjin's face, Jungkook knows Seokjin knows what they have to do in these therapies.

Seokjin nods knowingly to his replies, pouring out more rice wine into his glass. He looks more drunk now than anyone is. Yoongi, even as he eats and talks to everyone, watches his husband from the side. Seokjin is still healing too, and Jungkook is sure he is trying not to drink too much.

“Take your time Kook. I’ve never had a fear of anything before I left. The first few months I came back, I had a lot. Tae had to go with me everywhere. I couldn’t even drive.”

“Don’t worry, hyung. I got you,” Taehyung says casually, setting the candles on the birthday cake in the shape of number five.

Seokjin swallows a big chunk of meat, pouring some wine into a wine glass next. He hands over the wine glass to Yoongi as he speaks. “You’re the best bro I ever had, Tae.” 

“I’m the only bro you have.” Tae quips in reply. “But I get it. I’ll take it.”

Seokjin continues as he watches Yoongi drink the wine, smiling at the man. “I took it out on him and Yoongi. A lot.”

“I almost clawed his eyes out.” Yoongi replies nonchalantly, thin lips still red from the red wine.

“You didn’t babe.” Seokjin reaches for Yoongi’s head and kisses his temple, the man smiling softly as he looks away. “Thank you.”

Jungkook knows he has missed a lot not being here, but knows from now onwards that he wants to be here for everything. Seokjin and Yoongi have been through a lot together, and the thought of them always trying eases him. 

“I’m trying hard, hyung.”

“We know. It’s okay to take your time Jungkook. This is your home. We’re not going to push you, you’ve been through a lot. You’ve seen a lot. There’s a lot we don’t know. You don’t have to push yourself.”

Yoongi continues Seokjin’s words. “But we’re here.”

"We're here." Seokjin repeats his husband’s words, and adds a bit more. “We’re always here.”

Jungkook looks at Namjoon next who raises his head and smiles, nervously because in his arms is a small child and wrapped around him is the man he loves. Hoseok is fussing with Ara’s hair bow, making sure it is tied neatly, before turning to Namjoon’s hair which he styles with his fingers.

Seokjin is rearranging the meals around now that he has finished talking, Yoongi laughing at his husband’s clumsy fingers on the side. There is a long horizontal scar on Seokjin’s wrist, which Yoongi's long fingers subconsciously trace, as if reminding him of what he could have lost.

Around Jungkook are the people he loves and has loved, and they are all trying to live well. Jimin is now fussing over the lighter trying to light up the small candles, while Taehyung sets the camera on the tripod, getting it on timer.

Everyone is always trying, always doing something to try to live despite how difficult life is. 

“Okay we’re ready.”

As they sing the birthday song to the little girl in Namjoon’s lap, almost all eyes on her, Jungkook stares at the faces of everyone.

He is convinced he is at the right place, with Jimin’s scent all over him, Seokjin’s small pats on his back, and the voices of everyone chaining him back to earth whenever he feels like jumping to the bottom of the ocean.

 

*****

 

Jungkook leaves his office early after finishing a study of a manual, driving to the workshop with the windows rolled down.

Like this he can fully immerse himself in the scents of his hometown once again, this time with less self-restraint. He has been practicing self-control, with little to remind him of the place where everything smells like ocean salt and burning diesel, sand against water.

Trauma teaches him that even in peacetime, war times call for revisits.

Sometimes Jungkook would find himself getting startled by loud noises, other times a small thud. His mind strays a lot to those times, even when he drives past good neighbourhood with nobody holding a turret of a machine gun aiming at him. Rooftops mean pigeons and crows, not hidden snipers behind dried laundry. There is always a looming threat or something ominous in the clouds, like he is seconds away from disaster. Peace times means he is waiting for something to turn bad, a car to explode at a small pop, a child to get hurt.

He makes a mental note to remind himself everyday that that this is the better place, like his psychotherapist has taught him. He does not need his claws, nor the weight of a rifle on his shoulder, a 9 mm in his pocket. His eyes do not need to squint shut to aim at a running target, and the loudest sounds out here come from fireworks and roaring thunders in storms. When a child screams, it is usually because they are getting chased by their friends.

The workshop, especially, could be one of the safest places in the town. Jungkook has found himself another safe place in that space.

He arrives at the workshop shortly, but leaves the engine on idle. Jimin is still in class, but today Jungkook is not here for Jimin, in a way. He would fetch Jimin later when the older is finished with his classes, but right now he comes for something else.

Once he enters the threshold of the workshop, Jungkook quietly slips into Hoseok’s office after checking the empty hallways. He taps the older man twice on his shoulders, getting him to jump from where he is bending forward, reading an order form.

“Jungkook.”

“Can I look at it again, hyung?”

Hoseok rolls his eyes as he turns around, arms open and facing upwards as if he is holding a sermon. “How many times are you going to look at it, Kook?”

“I just want everything to look perfect. I want the best for him. You know that, hyung.”

Hoseok imitates the sound of vomit as he walks around cleaning stuff in the office. “Whatever you say, Kook. Where and when did you want me to put the damn thing again?”

“Hyung!”

Jungkook almost whines loudly, before realising he is here on a mission, and Jimin could hear his voice if he is not careful.

“Near his tea mug, by the window. His favourite spot. That one place he always sits at. I’ll text you when, but probably the first week of spring?”

“You’re whipped, Kook.” Hoseok imitates a sound of a whip, as he turns to the rack where he puts all his ongoing projects on. There are a lot of weird ceramics on it, some made for custom orders and some are Hoseok's personal creations. Jungkook wonders why Hoseok does not sell or exhibit some of his creations when they could be well displayed in an art gallery in the city. His designs are splendid and gorgeous.

"Oh, did I lose it or something? I can't seem to find it," Hoseok crouches in front of the rack, thinking out loud as he does so. "I think I broke it!"

"Hyung!" Jungkook feels his anxiety rising, quickly heading for the rack to look for it himself. There is no way Hoseok would have broken it, Jungkook had spent weeks doing it with the older man's help. 

Hoseok's laughs is shrilling as he raises his two eyebrows in a repetitive motion, and Jungkook almost wants to jump on him and muffle the voice with his large palms. But the man is quick to get the ceramic thing Jungkook wanted to look at, hidden in his other hand. He hands over the thing in a little stiff cardboard box, and Jungkook immediately feels better again.

Putting the box on the table, Jungkook quickly takes the ceramic out. It is the size of both of his hands combined, and feels heavy in his palms, a white ceramic which shines like the first snow. 

“Looks beautiful, hyung.”

“I’ve fired it twice, it’s glazeware now.”

Jungkook turns to Hoseok questioningly. “Oh I thought once is enough?”

Hoseok sits on his desk as he explains. “Bisqueware are not entirely waterproof. They’re rock hard, permanent but porous. They’re good but you need to fire twice with glaze to get it to shine like this. This one is strong.”

Jungkook nods a bit at the information, taking all the information in. Even after years loitering around the workshop, there is so much he has yet to learn. Hoseok only smiles at him from where he is standing looking at the younger alpha.

“How are you holding up, Kook?”

Jungkook looks up a bit. “Like bisqueware.”

Hoseok raises his eyebrows at that, but Jungkook is being honest. He does feel a bit like bisqueware, porous and non-waterpoof. He cries easily and breaks at times, but is no longer malleable. At least he feels stronger now, dried and fired up for life.

“Then you’re good. Nobody is ever a finished product, Kook. We’re always trying to be better. The more times you’re fired up, the stronger you are. The best thing about being complete is the process that you take to get to it, and nobody is ever complete. Not until death, at least. I guess.”

“I'm doing good?"

"You're doing good, Kook." Hoseok answers with a certainty, always the brother who tells the truth. Jungkook owes him many things, but Hoseok never allowed him to say thanks.

"Thank you for helping me make this, hyung,” Jungkook murmurs as he delicately holds the bowl with his hands. “I couldn’t have done this without you.”

“Anytime, Kook. You could’ve asked Jimin for help, but you just gotta, make everything difficult.” Hoseok clicks his tongue in fake annoyance, but his wide smile and deep dimples betray his look. Hoseok is never not kind, he scolds but never really scolds, the first to extend a help in any situation.

“I couldn’t ask him or else he would know, hyung.” Jungkook hands it over to Hoseok, who puts it inside a box which he keeps afterwards at the top of the rack.

Hoseok nods. “Why won’t you give it to him now? I have the flower ready.”

Jungkook almost panics now. “I’m bad at these things, hyung. I might cry if he doesn’t like it. I’m a soft person.”

“Get out, Kook!”

Hoseok laughs shrillingly as he always does, and Jungkook has the older alpha's neck in some sort of like a chokehold, closing the man's mouth with a palm. Hoseok laughs anyway, he and Jimin are the resident laughers of the group.

“I mean it! Get out before he sees you." Hoseok twists in Jungkook's hold and hands him another bowl, the one Jimin made for him. "Don’t forget your hugeass ramen bowl. You're obsessed, man.”

Jungkook keeps the bowl close to his chest as he prepares to exit the room, turning around to look at the older man again as the man smiles to him. There is something in the way Hoseok looks at him which reminds him of all things kind in the world.

"You're doing good, Kook. You're good."

Outside, the evening winter lights are still bright, the wind favourable. Spring is soon, and Jungkook has his gift ready for his husband. Right now, Hoseok has him in a tight hug which Jungkook finds solace in, and he knows they are all good. He is good.

 

****

 

After months of scheduled psychiatric treatment, Jungkook finds that he has grown rather familiar with the psychotherapist’s office.

He would not say it out loud, but he can feel a growing fondness for the cantaloupe melon and prime white combination in the furniture, the light white curtains billowing in late winter afternoon lights. Distant voices of laughing children and honks from the faraway highways would drift in at times when the doctor has the windows open. There are pots of growing flowers on tables and near doors, and in some corners air plants would dangle from a hanging rack. Something is always growing.

“Jungkook, we’ve been doing this for a few months. How do you feel so far?”

Dr. Im asks from where he is seated on a lone melony chair, an easy, soft smile etched on his handsome face. Jungkook watches the minute dial of the clock, the gears in his moving as the day shifts for hours of the evening. He tries to come up with the correct words for every single one of his emotions, trying to asses himself as he does so.

“I’m not sure. I think I feel better, happier. It’s easier to—” Jungkook stops talking for a moment, mind trying to find the right words. “—easier to feel more like myself.”

The psychotherapist jots down the notes on his board for a brief few seconds, then he looks up at Jungkook, a question ready at the tip of his tongue.

“Are the dreams still painful? You still get the same images?”

Jungkook nods almost instantly, eyes up as he tries to remember the recent dreams he has been having. “They don’t come as often. Most are the same, but recently I also have dreams of an earlier time, happier times. Times before the helicopter was shot down, time before I was sent out.”

"That's good." Dr. Im smiles at that, looking at him again after scribbling down his notes. “Have you gained gravity? The gravity to look at things from another point of view, other than your fixed one?”

Jungkook is unsure, and he shows it with his shifty eyes and fidgety fingers. The doctor is careful not to push him too much, and Jungkook appreciates it. After a few months doing treatment with the psychotherapist, their chemistry is good and balanced, and Jungkook is able to tackle a lot of his biggest fears and deepest sentiments.

“Your trauma will always be there, PTSD is the result of that. It’s our body’s way of handling trauma, something life-threatening. Something intense which we’re not used to. It makes you anxious in peace times, you're always expecting something bad to happen, something to go wrong.”

Dr. Im shifts his sitting position on the chair as he repeats again the same lines Jungkook heard the first time the doctor told him he has PTSD, after several meticulous psychiatric evaluations.

“Your memories are all kept in separate folders, like little bins you keep things of. There are folders for your family, your pet, the love of your life.”

Jungkook remembers one man in particular.

“When it comes to traumatic memories, they’re very intense that they’re not fitting in any folders you’ve constructed previously. So you have these memories popping up because you push them away and they don’t fit in any folders. Small triggers can bring them up again. Your survivor’s guilt. We’ve talked about that.”

“We did.”

Jungkook nods again, vividly remembering a few times the psychotherapist has talked about his inability to recuperate due to his immense guilt, survivor’s guilt. It keeps him chained to past memories, keeps him questioning his actions, destinies, death and life.

He keeps questioning his worth as the lone survivor of the crash, and feels unworthy of life. Sometimes he would spent hours retracing back his actions, the what ifs. Minjae would not have been shot to death if he had not helped Jungkook, or Yunho would not have died if he held on a bit tighter. The child would not have died if Jungkook had ran to get him. The helicopter would not have been shot down if Jungkook had seen the shooter, and had shot him first.

“What do you think about it now, Jungkook?”

Jungkook contemplates whether or not he should tell the doctor the truth, but then figures to who else can he tell this to. “I still think about the what-ifs. I know we’ve talked about it in details, how there’s little I could do. But, it’s kinda difficult to not think about it.”

“That’s understandable. I’m curious when you tell me about the what-ifs, how do you think you could have prevented that or should have prevented it?”

There is very little to look at when Jungkook has seen everything in the room, so he focuses on the glass of water in front of him, half filled with water. 

“I’m not sure. I think about properly watching the militias on the rooftop when they’re shooting at us. Then Daehyul hyung probably wouldn’t be dead now. We wouldn’t have been shot by an RPG, and nothing which happened would have happened. If the bird was meant to fall, I could’ve saved Minjae if I’d risen up earlier at the crash site. And the boy, I should’ve run to him. I shouldn’t have let Yunho hyung go, I could’ve pulled him up but I was crying. I shouldn’t have cried.”

The psychotherapist remains gentle as he speaks, eyes keen on Jungkook’s face. “Jungkook, you are thinking about the time when everything turned bad, before you turned powerless?"

Jungkook nods, reluctant at first, and more certain now when he sees what the doctor means.

“Right. So if you had seen everything which were coming, the helicopter wouldn’t have fallen down.”

Dr. Im writes everything in, his face stoic and professional as he continues his questions. “You could’ve saved your friends, saved the boy. If given you knew at that time what you could do then with all the information you have now, but not now, not a year after—but right there, a year ago, do you think you could have made a difference? What do you think you could have done to prevent the shooter from shooting at the helicopter?”

Jungkook takes a moment to gather his thoughts, and analyse the situation. “Maybe once I realised we’re orbiting too low, I could’ve focused more on the five and six o’clock, the blind spots. Maybe I could’ve been faster than the shooter.”

Dr. Im smiles next, and Jungkook feels calm so he smiles back.

“Let’s talk about that. You wish you could be faster than the shooter?”

“I do.”

“If you were faster, what could’ve happened?”

“I could’ve shot the shooter from my position even if it was on the other side.”

“But that would put you directly in the line of fire isn’t it? You mentioned multiple shooting positions?”

Jungkook takes a moment to remember. “Yes. I was covering the right side. He was on the left, back side of the bird, the buildings on the other side.”

“So one of the outcomes from the situation is that you could have been the one dead? You could have died.”

Jungkook remains quiet in the slow wake of epiphany, and the doctor does not wait. 

“Given the things you know now, but if you had known that then, you wish you could’ve spotted the shooters faster, even if it leads to a bad outcome. What else is it that you think you could have done?”

Jungkook has to speak the truth, even if it hurts. The epiphanies hurt, but truth is agony, and everytime he suppresses the truth they come back and bite at him.

“There’s nothing else. It was a blind spot.”

“Right, you wish you can prevent it, but not everything is preventable. You don’t know these things then, and even if you knew, most of the times it’s at the expense of your life. You could’ve run to save the boy, but you would be shot dead before you could even reach him. Your friends would be attacked earlier on.”  

Jungkook closes his eyes to this line of thought, feels the wake of tears filling everything in. He feels eased now, but feels guilty for feeling eased.

Dr. Im lets a few seconds to pass before he continues. “Would you feel better if you think about the things you could do to prevent it, a lot? Everyday?”

“I thought I would feel less guilty.”

“It doesn’t make you feel less guilty, does it?”

“No.” Jungkook shakes his head at that.

“A child’s death is very sad in all contexts, and to see one die in this situation is very sad and traumatising. You were a witness to his death and many others. Given the circumstances you were in, it’s very natural to have wishful thinking now. So, Jungkook, do you think you have the power to change the outcome? That you could’ve prevented things?”

“I couldn’t see it before, not as much. But I guess… I don’t have the power. It couldn’t have been different even if I were to go back. It’s sad but I understand.”

The doctor nods in understanding, jots down his notes before looking up again. “Have you thought about the things you could do to live with it over time? Survivor’s guilt, while painful and debilitating can be coped with the things you do. You talked about wanting to reach out to other war veterans?

“Yes. I want to talk to them, not just people from my base.” Jungkook feels more at ease now, that they are talking things they can do and not the things he cannot. “I think we all need help.”

“I think that’s good, Jungkook. You’re doing good for everyone. You’ve found another purpose, another reason to live.”

Jungkook smiles shyly at the doctor, who smiles back at him, his human fangs visible, before he continues.

“The only way to heal, like we’ve talked about, is to not avoid it. You’ve talked about a large chunk of your memories with me, and that’s why the dreams are probably less vivid. And Jungkook?”

“Yes?”

“Sometimes the dreams come because you don’t want to let go. You want to hold on to those memories because they help you remember them. The dreams are the only way you can let them live, live through you.”

Jungkook inhales deeply at that, knowing the truth in those words but never knowing how to put it well.

“Your mind is not able to carry their memories for long. Or else it would take away all the spaces you have for what is happening now, for the people living with you now. The only way for them to stop is to know you can let go. That’s why we’re doing this cognitive processing therapy after your prolonged exposure, but you can stop if you can’t handle it.”

“I want to do it.”

The doctors smiles again, a loyal hand on his writing board. “If time travelling is possible, would you want to go back to that time?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I miss them.” Jungkook breathes in a heavy sniffle, feeling a wetness in his nose.

Dr. Im smiles briefly, and like always, eloquent in his replies. “You could also miss what you’re living now. You’re here now. What you did lead you to here. You didn't do it wrong, you did right. It’s not all that bad, isn't it?”

Jungkook understands what the doctor is implying, and nods his head in appreciation as he repeats the man's words. “It’s not all that bad. It’s very good now.”

“Do you remember what you wanted the most when you were out there, Jungkook?”

Jungkook looks up once again, eyes fixed on the curtain billowing with the wistful gust of wind. The chill is ever-present but he feels warmer now with the shifting seasons. Outside, dwindling noises of his hometown keep everything feeling familiar, the breeze light and scented. Green tea and wild jasmine.

Away in the workshop, Jimin would be teaching a class of beginners again, repeating the things he says a thousand times, but always smiling, always patient. He would be fetching Jungkook in another hour, and Jungkook cannot wait.

He remembers his time at the base, where the sun was scorching hot at times, and the wind biting cold at others. The hangar's cement floor was the only place where the chill could stay at times, but even then where the afternoon lights hit, it was still as hot as desert sand.

Night-times were cold yet clammy, but they always had film nights, or just overall rolling around in their desert fatigues. On windy afternoons when he did not have training or routine surveillance, he would play football or volleyball with his team mates close to the beach, where the only threats were sharks in the deeper waters. He hated the stiff springbeds, the dry food, but his brothers made up for his loss of home. It is a place of the extremes, and back then, he would do all it takes to return home, and touch Jimin’s face once again.

“I wanted to go home. I still want to go home.”

The doctor questions with a smile, a hint of rhetoric at the end of his word. “You're home?”

“I’m home.”

 

 

Jimin waits in the truck in front of the center, eyes off to the horizons to the distant powerlines.

Even from the town center, the cables are still visible to the sight, truly one of the tallest peaks of the place. He loves those lines, the visible lines which line their town and the small city. He watches it all the time from his classroom windows, feeling close to one. Like the powerline, Jimin waits loyally through everything. Everytime he sees it, he gains a new strength, a new kind of appreciation for everything in life he has to wait for. 

Right now, he is waiting for Jungkook, and the said man is quick to find his way into the truck next.

Like after every session, the young alpha remains quiet, tired eyes flittering forward as he lets out a small sigh. It is a hard day, Jimin can tell, but one that Jungkook is braving through well. Jimin knows that from the dry cheeks and the small smile he has on his delicate, dry lips. He reaches out a hand, which Jungkook takes and squeezes in his hand.

“Jimin." 

Jimin answers with a hum, ready to shift the gear for the drive home. Jungkook takes his time, but Jimin waits. 

"Lets go to the beach.”

 

When they arrive at the beach, a short twenty minutes drive from the town center, and another ten from Jimin’s workshop, the last rays of dusk lights are glowing at the boundless horizon. The beach is solitary and lonely in the winter, half of the sky hidden by a lowering dark cloud. Much of the snow whirl about in the dead grass before the stretch of the sandy beach. 

Jungkook reaches out a hand for Jimin to hold when they leave the truck, guiding them both with careful steps on the rocky shores.

Jungkook has not been to the beach in awhile, Jimin knows from how he avoids any mentions of the oceans and the seas. The oceans remind him of another one so far away, the dark seas separating him and Jimin; himself and another part he left behind.

If it would have been summertime, Jimin would have taken off his shoes and toss them to the side. He would have them both walk barefoot, skittering on the edges of the water until it reaches half a shin. But this year's winter has been a dreadful freeze, and as they walk together along the shores, Jimin can feel himself shaking in Jungkook's hold.

His husband remains in a permanent quiet, some kind of solitude taking him away from Jimin at the moment. Probably it is his memories of a distant past, as he stares into the bulbous tangerine of the setting sun. Or thoughts of a distant future.

"Jimin, do you know what would be the best kind of war to ever exist?"

Jimin turns to the younger man, tilting his head in question. "Not sure. What is it?"

"One where no bullets are shot."

Jungkook's eyes are squinting at the faraway sun, making his usually large eyes appear like two crescents. Jimin is curious what is on the younger man's mind so he asks.

"You're thinking about wars?" Jimin's voice is almost swallowed by the loud tides, but Jungkook nods to his question so he continues. "Tell me what you think."

"I think war is futile. Inavoidable, but futile."

Jungkook always speaks with the simplest of words, but his words carry a deeper meaning to all the sentiments he keeps buried in his mind. Jimin lets him take his time speaking what he needs to.

"People die in wars, but I wouldn't say they died for nothing. Their deaths mean something to the people who live and survived."

"Jungkook."

The young alpha remains quiet at that, only turning to smile at Jimin in reassurance before looking back at the horizon. His thick hair is ruffled by the wind, covering his eyes at times.

“There’s so much to look forward to, and so much to forget," Jungkook finally speaks minutes after, the wind carrying his soft voice away with the tides. He finds a spot to sit on, on the elevation of the sandy beach away from the water. Jimin simply follows his trail.

"I think there’s a large chunk of me which I left over there, a part of me that died, and I don’t know whether I should be sad or not.”

“Do you miss that person?”

Jungkook turns a bit to look at Jimin, who crouches next to him, a stick in his hand. Jimin’s pants are folded a quarter up, in case they get wet from the high tides. Nobody ever goes to the beach in winter much, unless they are too sad or too happy. Jungkook and Jimin are neither.

“I do. But I don’t think I can become him again. Do you?”

Jimin tilts his head a bit to the side, eyelashes fluttering as he blinks a few times, the saltiness of air getting to his eyes. He tries to think of the passing months with this Jungkook, and the years he had with a younger version of this one in the past. “I do, but I miss all parts of you just the same. I miss you even when you’re next to me.”

Jungkook smiles at his answer, smiles at Jimin who smiles at him back.

"I think's normal to miss a person, to miss yourself. But I've let go of who I can't become anymore, who you can't be now. You can do that too, Kookie," Jimin is quick to add as Jungkook stares at him through his hooded eyelids.

“I want to. I just, I feel guilty about moving on, letting go. I think about their widows, their babies, their parents a lot.” Jungkook speaks up after a minute of silence, voice wavering in light of the coming tears. “Yunho hyung used to show me the photos of his baby daughter, and he- he loved her so much. And he's out there Jimin, buried somewhere we can't find.”

The water is rising, the waves violent. Jimin thinks about all the lost bodies in the depth of the oceans, and tries to conjure up images of the body being buried well to ease his own conscience.

Jungkook sniffles a sob, nose watering first before a single drop of tears rolls down onto his well-defined cheek, eyelashes heavy with unreleased tears. Within the vivid dusk lights, Jimin thinks Jungkook appears bright and young, like the setting sun is breathing life into him again.

“Minjae hyung wanted to build a new house for his parents once he gets back. There’s so much they wanted to do, Jimin.”

Jimin holds Jungkook’s head in the curves of his neck, careful not to muffle his voice. He is tentative with his touches, careful about suffocating the man even when the man is already chest deep in the water.

“I don’t know if I could live happily, knowing they could’ve lived like I do. They could've had someone they love in their arms too.”

A single tear from Jimin’s eyes fall on Jungkook’s cheeks, mixing together to form a river of tears in front of a massive ocean.

“Jungkook, they lived well. They’ve reached their purpose. You’re still here because you still have your purpose to fulfill. You have a family too, you have me. And our future children, and the people you’re going to help with these hands. You have to live well, so that you can tell your friends that when you meet.”

Jungkook slots his face deeper into Jimin’s neck, not a peep coming out from his lips. Jungkook is no longer crying, but Jimin still holds him tighter in his embrace, keeping him away from the cold ocean breeze and the heat of his burning memories.

“It’s how the universe works, how nature dictates it to be. They’re no longer in pain and worry, I’d like to believe they’re somewhere being wolves again, free from humanly troubles. The world hurts you, but once you’re free from your physical bodies, your souls are free. They’re heroes, free heroes.”

“They’re heroes.” Jungkook repeats the words from where he has his head on Jimin's chest.

“You are too, Jungkook. You have to accept that. There is a part of you which you’d want to forget, but will always be a part of you. It’ll remind you of the things you had to let go to be who you are today.”

Jungkook murmurs a small yes with a broken voice and Jimin’s heart breaks, but he knows the broken parts are needed before they can be fixed.

“They’re good people. You have to remember them in good ways. That would be what they deserve. That’s what you deserve.”

Jungkook remains quiet at that, his eyes looking straight into the breaking tides. Night is falling fast, for the moon and the stars and the nightly creatures to take their place, as the ones in the day find their moments of resurrection. It is another cycle of life Jimin and Jungkook are a part of.

“Let go of them slowly, Jungkook. Let go. Hold on to yourself, hold on to me.”

The sun would set again like every other day, but with this setting sun comes a new beginning. The night would come after, like a rule written in any ancient or future books, and Jungkook and Jimin would return back to their home, to each other’s embrace, limbs intertwining.

However a small part of Jungkook has healed, and ready to begin again, as he gives away his tears to the tide, and returns back to the warm embrace of the earth.

He returns to Jimin, and he is home again.

 

***

“Get your claws out, Kook.”

 

Jungkook wakes from the dream, heaving and breathless.

He can feel the tiny tremors in his arms as he raises his hands. The claws are half out from beneath his healing skin. It hurts.

It has been awhile since they last came out—awhile since he had dreams. Even when they are less vivid now, and all he heard was words, it still hurts.

Next to him Jimin is deep in sleep, two tired hands put on top of one another underneath his puffed up cheeks. Jungkook wants to wake Jimin up; staring at the older man in a silent plea, but cans the plan in mere seconds.

He does not need Jimin to see him like this, claws out and sweating in buckets.

Away in the deeper parts of the town, people are lost in their spring dreams; bundled up in their blankets and warmed by the arms of their loved ones. The clock remains at a standstill on early spring nights like these, fireflies up and about at a nearby swamp. The blossoming flower fields lend fragrance to the dewy night scent, but Jimin’s forest scent keeps Jungkook chained to reality.

Jungkook stares at his extended claws in the dim of the bedroom, trying to even his breath as he remembers faded flashes of Minjae’s face.

He remembers how the man’s eyes were looking up at the sky last, how his voice shook when he told Jungkook to get his claws out.

He remembers Minjae’s dismembered body parts as the militants throw him out and about. Jungkook closes his eyes at that, remembering Minjae’s last words.

Get your claws out, Kook.

“Kookie.”

Jungkook snaps his eyes open, turning to Jimin in an instant at the hushed whisper of his name, spoken in his husband's dulcet voice.

The overwhelming fear and anxiety from the dream are now heightened as he watches his husband stare at him in the dim of the bedroom. Jimin’s eyes look like two beads on a dollface in the dark, his thick dark hair covering every other part of his face.

Jimin raises a hand to reach out, but Jungkook is quick to snap.

“Don’t hyung I—I might hurt you!”

But the older man, stubborn as he always is, inches forward and reaches out to touch Jungkook’s face, wet from sweat. His fingers gently wipe the tears and sweat away from his face, soft skin on a two-day stubble.

“You’re sweating in early spring, Kookie.”

“Hyung.”

“I’m here.” Jimin reaches for his hands next, quick to grab both of his wrists when Jungkook dodges.

“Hyung—they’re sharp—“

“Baby, I have claws too.”

Jimin laughs a bit, mouth spread in a closed-lip smile. He looks so calm, eyes squeezed shut as he laughs, and Jungkook wants to cry.

“I haven’t seen mine in awhile though, I’ve forgotten how they look like. Reminds me of military service. We had to practice for hours to get them out and keep them in. I swear the sergeant was out to get us.”

Jungkook remains still as Jimin fully turns his body around to face him. His hands hover helplessly in Jimin's steel grip. The older man is trying to get him to relax by casual chitchat—Jungkook is well aware of that, but Jungkook does not feel safe if his claws are not inside his skin, especially not when Jimin is around.

“Let me see your claws, Kookie. A veteran’s claws are different.”

Jungkook releases his curling fingers which were pointed inwards, lets Jimin takes his shaky hands in his as the older man delicately observes every vein protruding on the back of his hands—his bony fingers, the sharp edges of his claws.

Compared to a civilian’s, a practiced army officer like Jungkook has his claws longer, wider, and sharper—trained to use maximum strength at all times. Their full claw-length is double to that of a normal civilian’s, even for those who goes through military service like Jimin did.

Some soldiers even choose to sharpen their claws even more, or by making a double tip so that when they slash, they could cut two points of an individual vein.

“They’re really long and big.” Jimin eyes them in concentration and awe, turning Jungkook’s hand around to see everything like it is a toy, not a beast’s hand. For a few seconds, Jungkook thinks Jimin would get his reading glass out to scrutinise every detail.

“Like the rest of you.”

Jimin winks next, and Jungkook huffs, face still pale in fear and exhaustion. The omega only laughs lightly and slowly, fearless and brave. Jimin is always brave.

“You’re not scared?”

Jimin does not let go of Jungkook’s hands at his timid question, instead has one pulled towards his face.

Jungkook almost jerks back in response, but Jimin’s hold is stronger. Jimin is very strong in his grips, hands dexterous and skilled, the hands of a potter. In a second he can feel his claws on Jimin’s face; shaking fingers, hard claws on soft skin.

Jungkook feels more than anxious. His hand shakes so bad that he can feel Jimin tightening his grip even more.

“Why would I? Your claws are a part of you, Jungkook. I love every part of you.”

Jimin kisses his clammy palm next, turning his face towards Jungkook’s trembling hand and closing one side of his face, one eye. Like this, Jungkook's wide and long claws, a good murder weapon, lie on the delicate expense of Jimin’s face close to the man’s eyes.

Everything seems surreal, the motion tipping between dangerous and safe. Jungkook does not know what to think, feels himself getting confused, and half-relies on Jimin to plan his movements.

Jimin kisses another hand, and Jungkook wants to scream at him for doing that. He could hurt him like that, rip apart his beautiful lips like that.

But Jimin takes his time to kiss every trembling finger, and when Jungkook feels his wet tongue out next, he almost jumps.

"Jimin."

“It’s one of those dreams again, baby?”

Jungkook hums, feeling Jimin’s thick lips and his kitten tongue in between his fingers.

“Did you hear those words again?”

Jungkook nods like a child entranced by the sight of candy canes in a candy store, eyes wide as Jimin licks his wrist next. The feel of spit on skin, and the sight of Jimin’s tongue on Jungkook’s wrist send waves of foreign pleasure into his body at such an odd times.

His claws are still out, even when they have retracted a bit, but Jimin does not relent.

“It was shorter but I heard—I heard the words again.”

“It’s okay baby, I’m here. You haven’t had those dreams in awhile. You’re okay. I’m here.” Jimin speaks in mere hushes, coaxing Jungkook with his touch in the form of his wet kisses, and his words spoken in gentle whispers. 

Jungkook’s hands are still hovering on air, gripped by Jimin’s strong hands when the man pulls it towards himself again. He raises his shirt to reveal his lean tummy, and puts Jungkook’s hand on it.

At the touch of Jimin’s smooth skin Jungkook feels both terrified and excited, more violent tremors running down every inch of his skin as he sees his claws threatening to break Jimin's soft tummy.

“One day, when we’re both ready, and the universe allow it, we’ll have someone in here. Someone very special, someone who will have the best of you and me. Do you want that, Kookie?”

His whispers, dulcet voice in timbre does something to Jungkook.

The question which conjure up images in his mind, does something to Jungkook. He either feels elated or calmed, or feels extremely excited. Jungkook merely answers in hums, unable to speak. His throat feels parched, he feels thirsty.

Jungkook can feel a deep rumbling in his own chest, a growl threatening to come out in his aroused state. He wonders how he can jump from one intense emotion to another, and then is reminded his husband is Jimin.

"You want to have children, with me, Jimin?"

Jimin does not wait to answer, eyes the smiling crescent moons of the spring. "Of course, Kookie. Our baby."

At a calmer release of Jungkook's breath, Jimin raises the alpha's hand to his nipple next, letting his shirt fall to cover it. Jungkook can feel the omega's nipples pebbling underneath the touch of his trembling fingers, can sense the rise of goosebumps on Jimin’s skin from his fingertips and sharp claws. 

“Touch me. You don’t have to see them. Touch me.”

Like the wet and damp clay he has learnt to mould and knead with his hands, Jungkook slowly closes his eye as he caresses Jimin’s skin, careful with his claws.

Nothing else comes close to the feel of Jimin's baby-soft skin, toned body carved to perfection. The gods took their time to create him in fur and in flesh, body a blossoming flower of the forest. His peaks and curves speak of a man in full maturity, the Adonis of Jungkook's dreams. Everytime his hand retraces Jimin's toned yet soft abs, thumb tracing his belly button, he feels the man's quickened breath.

Jimin does not look the least scared even as he stares at Jungkook’s face in the dark. He can hear Jimin’s breath hitching everytime he so much touches his nipples, too sensitive now.

Jungkook feels the convulsions running through the man’s body first before he moans, then feels his own cock getting hard at the sight and feel of Jimin’s body awakening before him. It feels so wrong and yet so erotic.

The older man takes his hand out of his shirt and Jungkook is scared for a moment, thinks he did something wrong.

But Jimin simply rises to his knees, takes off his shirt and pulls his boxers off next, unceremoniously kicking everything away. Jungkook does not get to enjoy the view, dark silhouette against the moonlight when Jimin lies back quickly on his bed, lithe body naked in its glory, except for the necklace which carries a single ring, his wedding band. He pulls Jungkook’s hand toward his mouth once again, kissing in between the digits, bringing back the dampness to the skin and spurring the precum on Jungkook’s crotch.

Jimin’s thick cock is semi-hard, pretty as it twitches awake and glistens with precum. Jungkook has a hard time looking away until the man brings his hand to his body once again. He walks Jungkook’s hand travelling the slope of his jaw and to his neck.

On the way down it cut a bit on his jaw, a nick of sharp tip which makes Jimin wince. Jungkook almost jumps on his back, ready to apologise. He can smell a tinge of blood on the small cut, something similar to a razor cut.

But Jimin is calm as he whispers, voice still thick with sleep. “Lick it clean, Jungkookie.”

Jungkook does not wait before lurching forward, lips sucking the part as if he is trying to suck all of Jimin’s blood dry. He feels hungry now that he gets to suck on Jimin’s skin in more than an act of apology, doing more than licking it clean. He leaves a mark close to that spot, nipping Jimin’s neck and jaw and making bruises he knows Jimin likes.

The man mewls as he feels Jungkook’s teeth on his soft skin, but does not stop letting Jungkook’s hand roam around his body, like a traveler on a hot desert. Jungkook’s hungry lips slowly inch forward to Jimin’s puffy fat lips, sucking all the way to the trail which leads to the wobbling bottom lip.

"Fuck. Jungkook."

Jimin moans when Jungkook finally sucks his bottom lip, and mewls when Jungkook inserts his tongue in, finally getting what he wants.

His arousal is so intense that Jungkook almost feels his fear being pushed aside in the wake of pheromones and sex, but not after he feels his hand on Jimin’s tummy again. A shot of anxiety begins to curl around his neck as he quickly glances down, before Jimin pulls him up again by the back of his hair, kissing his lips and speaking into his mouth breathily.

“Jungkook, don’t look. Feel. My body is awake for you.”

He kisses harder at that, feeling Jimin pulling his head close with a hand, another still busy guiding Jungkook’s hand everywhere. Jungkook's sweatpants feels tight on his hard cock, and Jungkook cannot wait to release it.

And then Jimin breaks free from their long kiss with a peck. He smiles mischievously, letting go of Jungkook’s face and hand as he turns around on the pillow to show his slender back to Jungkook.

Jungkook almost growls at the sight, which comes out as a groan instead, deep rumbles of cat-like purr inside his chest.

Jimin’s body is pure magic, like an open flower field to a lost butterfly, springtime in the equator. Skin smooth and fair, his back is lean and toned, cinched at the waist. There are many valleys and slopes Jungkook has yet to discover, but nothing beats the ascending slopes from Jimin’s back to his ass, the perky apex of his smooth globes. His Venusian dimples which dip just a bit below his hips, lining the topmost of his ass are deep and alluring, as if welcoming the two full bulbs of his heavenly behind.

Jimin arches his body up, scent of honeysuckle and pine curling around Jungkook's neck, easing off his anxiety. Jungkook remembers many lonely nights dreaming about this scent, this skin as he rubbed himself off to orgasm, far in a wretched place a thousand miles away. Those nights are no longer, Jungkook is here now. 

“Close your eyes, Jungkook. Touch me. It’s okay.”

Jungkook does as told, tentative but keen. His fingers roam the expense of Jimin’s back, tracing the curve of his spine, reaching the swell of his hips with his eyes fluttering close.

Everything feels gossamer light, warm and tender. He wonders how Jimin keeps his skin baby-soft like this as he ages, taut and tight in all the right ways.

Jungkook growls a bit as he reaches the bulbs of Jimin’s ass cheeks, holding himself back from squeezing them together.

“Jimin. Fuck.”

“More, Kookie.”

His hand reaches Jimin’s thighs, and Jungkook can feel the wetness of his liquidy slick. He groans at that, feeling the mixture of Jimin's raw scents particularly heady and scintillating. It takes all his might to not put his wet fingers into his mouth and rip it apart to suck everything in.

Jimin’s slick smells like the man, pine forest in the morning. Wild flowers, jasmine and honeysuckle. Dews on fresh buds. Jungkook feels thirsty to taste.

Opening his eyes a bit, Jungkook inches forward to kiss Jimin’s spine, feeling the man’s skin with his dry lips and the arch of his body against his mouth. His hand travels back to Jimin’s tummy as the man turns around, fingers swirling around the area as he imagines a whole new universe being created inside the man’s body.

Jungkook does not realise he has his claws fully in, not until Jimin pulls his hands up and sucks two of his fingers inside his warm mouth. He opens his eyes in a jolt, trying to pull back from ripping open the man's mouth, and quickly notices his claws missing.

Jimin releases his fingers with a pop, speaks with a whisper he usually does to rile Jungkook up. “Does it feel good, Kookie?”

“Feels— feels really good.”

Smiling as he raises Jungkook’s hand to his face, Jimin replies casually. “We just gave your claws new memories.”

Jungkook does not wait for more chatter, dives again to cover Jimin’s lips with his own hungrily, swallowing the man’s lips and tongue like the half-beast he is. Like a man starved, Jungkook kisses Jimin like he wants Jimin to live within him, as he sucks in the soul of the man. Here is a man who loves him despite it all, monster or human, beast or man, and Jungkook loves him so much.

Even when Jimin sounds like he is either writhing in pain or moaning in ecstasy as Jungkook sucks his tongue fervently, Jungkook knows he loves it. His hands are simultaneously pulling Jungkook by the hair and pushing his face close.

Without the restriction of his claws, Jungkook once again feels Jimin’s body with his fingers, like a potter to his creation—feeling Jimin arching and writhing with the touch of his hands. He pinches a nipple, and Jimin nips his bottom lip in reply.

Jimin’s arms wrap tightly around his back and neck, raising the shirt to feel his sweaty skin. He begins massaging it with his skillful fingers as he massages Jungkook’s tongue with his expert tongue.

“Make love to me, Jungkookie. I waited so long.” Jimin whispers into his mouth next, as he arches his body to grind his cock against Jungkook’s clothed cock. Jungkook’s hand has long reached his pretty cock, twisting it up and down as Jimin moans in pleasure.

“I want to feel you inside of me.”

"Fuck, baby." Jungkook groans at that, feels Jimin’s hands roaming inside his pants and squeezing his ass. He turns his head to suck a mark onto Jimin’s neck, feeling the man’s stuttered breath as he tries to get Jungkook’s shirt out of his neck.

Jungkook undresses quickly, diving in to suck a mark after an article each. His cock is fully hard now, hard for Jimin and Jimin alone. For Jimin’s words, Jimin’s skin, Jimin’s body, and Jimin’s love.

The said man smiles, and pulls him down for a long kiss, limbs tangling as he holds Jungkook close to his body. The wet kisses continue down to his body, to reach a nipple which Jungkook ardently sucks, eyes closed as his hands roam downwards from Jimin’s wet lips to reach his tummy and his cock.

He keeps Jimin’s arms up as he licks the man’s crevices; his neck, his nipple, sucking everything he gets his tongue on. By tomorrow, Jimin’s chest will be littered in bite marks and his spit. He even tickles Jimin’s armpits with his tongue as he licks a strip up, and the man’s giggles spur him on.

“Tickles, Kookie,” Jimin whines, and Jungkook kisses his lips once before he moves downwards, feeling too aroused for everything coming out of Jimin’s mouth.

“Kookie.”

Jimin moans again at the feel of Jungkook’s hand wrapping around his cock, wet from his own spit. Jungkook sucks a new hickey or two on his tummy, kisses his cock, before going downwards to reach his ass.

“Jimin. You're so beautiful.”

He licks Jimin’s cock once, licking the bulbous head inside his mouth, before mouthing his balls and going straight for his hole next. Jimin shudders at that, at the feel of Jungkook’s lips on his rim, leaving kisses on his most sacred point.

“Kookie..”

Jimin’s lisp is out in the clear when Jungkook pulls his cheeks apart and begins to plunge his tongue in, the man mewling with every flick and touch of his walls. He clenches so hard it makes Jungkook’s fully-hard cock twitch as he grinds it on the sheet.

When he puts two fingers in, Jimin is calmer now, watching as Jungkook’s eyebrows furrow in concentration.

“Baby.” Jimin lets out a small laughter next, his fluffy hair a crown on Jungkook’s pillow. “Look at you, always doing things seriously. My handsome baby.”

Jungkook cannot help but beam at the sight of his husband smiling so sweetly at him, even with his legs open wide obscenely, as if they are not doing anything remotely intimate right now. Even when Jimin is heaving, cock twitching at intervals. When Jungkook probes in a third finger, Jimin is still smiling, mouth open.

“I missed you so much, Jungkook.”

"I missed you too."

Jungkook is leaving a mark on his bent thighs, biting the soft flesh when he hears the whisper.

“I dream about this moment a lot. You inside me, in every way. You kissing me silly, kissing me hard. Your cock on my tongue, beneath my walls.”

Jungkook climbs up at that, and kisses Jimin long and hard, feeling the words in his tongue. His fingers run smooth, wet by Jimin’s slick, but he does not push hard, excited about edging this longer. 

“Jimin. I love you.”

Jimin’s breath stutters at that, and Jungkook knows the man is holding himself back. His hand travels down Jungkook's chest to his abs, tracing his lean Apollo's belt before he holds Jungkook's heavy cock in his grip. Jungkook inhales deeply at that, eyes shut tight as Jimin spreads his precum all over the shaft.

“Jungkook, let me take care of you. Please.”

As if they have learnt each other like a new world knowledge, like they know what every word mean, Jimin settles his body on top of Jungkook as the man lifts him on his body. Like this Jimin is sitting on him, grinding his cock on Jungkook’s toned tummy.

Jungkook can feel Jimin’s hand around his cock, extra wet now from the slick from Jimin’s behind, as he pumps it up while kissing Jungkook. Then he lifts his face up, and sits on Jungkook’s cock without putting it in, grinding back and forward on Jungkook's tummy to wet it.

Jungkook groans at the sensation, of his cock snagging Jimin’s rim every time the man moves his ass forward and back, further pushing his cock onto his tummy. His husband is so good at this, is so good at everything.

“Baby. You’re so wet.”

“For you.” Jimin answers in a second before he pushes his face forward on Jungkook’s neck, sucking a new mark on his neck, next to the mating mark. Jimin repeats the things Jungkook did to him but in softer motions, his warm tongue gentle as he licks the broad of Jungkook’s chest. When he laves on Jungkook’s sensitive nipples, the man can only answer in moans.

His ass does not stop moving, soft flesh on hard shaft, and Jungkook is a second away from coming when he feels Jimin swiftly taking the whole hardness into his hand.

“Let’s see if it can still fit.”

Jimin laughs breathlessly, as he slowly sits himself on it, turning his face a bit to watch his tight hole swallow Jungkook’s cock, slowly. They both groan loudly at the breach, feeling the pulsating thick organ inside tight walls, the head venturing into the depth of Jimin's inside.

Jungkook lets Jimin take control, lets him decide the pace, careful not to buck up into the comfortable wet of Jimin’s walls.

Jimin raises his ass a few times, inching down into the tightness every time he does so, a hand easing his ass cheeks open. Jungkook's hands loyally massage his hips, as he kisses the man's cheeks in attempt to soothe him, careful not to hurt the omega.

“You’re so long, and big. I almost forgot. God, baby.”

Jimin finally bottoms, ass on Jungkook's thighs, face on Jungkook’s neck as he eases from the pain from the intrusion. He has his eyes closed, lips nipping Jungkook’s neck softly. Jungkook wraps his arms around Jimin tightly, murmuring words of love into his ear in between kisses.

“Take your time, Jiminie. My Jiminie. You're so good.”

Jimin only breathes louder at that, nosing further into Jungkook’s neck, and Jungkook almost wants to flip them on Jimin’s back to ease the man, but Jimin suddenly grinds. He grinds his ass slowly, climbing up on Jungkook’s body as he does so.

His lips are half opened, but his eyes are keen as he gazes back and forth at Jungkook's cock getting swallowed by his ass and the younger's face. The sound of slicked ass meeting hips is obscene and erotic, and Jungkook tries so hard to not lift his legs up. Jimin's ass clenches on his cock so good that Jungkook feels his toes curling, hands gripping Jimin's hips tighter.

The omega raises his ass a few times to bounce on Jungkook’s cock, and the younger quickly raises his hip to meet him halfway. After awhile, Jungkook rises to a full sitting position so he could kiss his husband while they fuck, both fulfilling each other as Jimin bounces on Jungkook’s cock and grinds it next. He rearranges Jimin's limbs so they wrap around his body.

“Kookie, baby.” Jimin kisses his lips so clumsily he is actually eating Jungkook’s cheek. “Feels so good, baby.”

Jungkook cannot help but buck up at that, thrusting his cock deeper into Jimin’s clenching hole. Jimin keens, arms and legs curling around him tighter.

“Jungkook!”

He holds Jimin’s body tightly as he thrusts up, legs holding them both close and up as they bounce on the bed.

“Baby you’re so tight—fuck!“

For the first few minutes, it happens so quick, their starvation getting to them, but then Jimin begins slowing down his movements, looking into Jungkook’s eyes as he grinds and clenches slowly. They are edging with a reason, to have it as long as they can.

“Jungkook.” Jimin whispers with his eyes closed, a hand caressing down Jungkook's shoulders where a long scar lines his left clavicle. His fingers travel down to Jungkook's abs next, to cross over to his back, where more scars are protruding from his skin. “You’re so beautiful.”

Jimin moans as he clenches, and Jungkook holds his breath at that, hands wrapped around Jimin’s body, roaming downwards only to squeeze Jimin’s bouncy ass together.

“Kookie.”

Jungkook thrusts up again, hitting Jimin’s prostate and the man’s body shudders in his hold.

“Kookie, listen.” Jimin holds Jungkook’s face in his hands, trying to still his breath. “You’re so beautiful—Jungkook. I love you, I love your face.”

Jungkook almost giggles at Jimin’s random confession, if he is not trying to hold himself from bucking up into Jimin’s warmth.

“You’re so beautiful, it hurts. I love you so much, it hurts.”

Nothing holds himself back at that, as Jungkook kisses Jimin so hard the man almost falls back if not for Jungkook’s arms holding him tight and his cock inside him anchoring Jimin to himself. He thrusts up as Jimin bounces in his hold, feeling each other’s walls enveloping around them.

Like wet earth after a rainstorm, Jimin’s warm and wet walls clench around Jungkook’s cock each time they move, his slick wetting Jungkook’s thighs.

“Jungkook—ah! So good, Jungkook!”

“Jiminie,” Jungkook murmurs into Jimin’s ear as the man bites into his mating mark, holding himself from the feel of Jungkook’s cock grinding up. His knot is forming, and Jungkook can see Jimin’s eyes bulging from the enlarging size of the already full-sized penis.

“Baby, my knot.”

“It’s okay Kookie, slowly.”

Jungkook can feel Jimin’s hand holding the base of his cock as he eases slowly into the bulbous base, eyebrows frowning in both pleasure and pain. The younger can only rub his hips and help spread his asscheeks, to ease the penetration.

“So big, Kookie.” Jimin is mumbling incoherently now, and Jungkook kisses his open mouth, licking the stray of spit from Jimin’s bottom lip. “Feel so full.”

“Does it feel good, baby?” Jungkook stops moving as Jimin settles into the size, blinking his eyes open a few times to kiss Jungkook’s lips as he winces everytime he grinds. Jungkook groans everytime he does, feeling Jimin’s anal wall sucking him in good.

“Good. Your knot. It feels so good. Give me a moment.” Jimin smiles again, eyes still shut as he grinds slowly, an arm anchoring his body to Jungkook’s.

As Jimin’s grinding gets more violent in the coming minutes, Jungkook begins to thrust up again in the tight space, feeling the need to please both himself and the older man. Jimin can only whimper, now seems weakened by pleasure, legs bouncing with his body as he lets Jungkook handles him.

“I- are you coming?”

Jimin simply nods, biting harder into Jungkook’s neck before he moves a bit to the back to see Jungkook’s face.

“Let me see you, baby.”

Jungkook watches as Jimin closes his eyes at a sudden thrust, and Jungkook’s own hand wrapping around his cock. He bends forward, forehead to forehead, lips mushed on Jungkook’ nose as he mewls.

“Jungkook. I can’t-”

“I love you, Jiminie.”

Jungkook would not have missed it for the world, how Jimin’s body shakes and shudders around him, eyes staring right into Jungkook’s eyes as he cums, ass bouncing on Jungkook’s cock as they clench around it. He looks so beautiful, all sweaty and glistening in the moonlight, lips half-opened in Jungkook’s space.

Jimin's cum is warm on both their bodies, staining his ring, trapped cock softening between the tight hug of their moving torsos.

Not far from coming himself, Jungkook plants his two legs up, and thrusts up to Jimin’s warm hole as the man mewls in surprise, whispering to Jungkook’s mouth to cum.

“Kookie, come for me baby. I want your cum, baby please.”

Jimin's words are loud in his ears, as he finally cums so hard that his body twitches. Jungkook groans so loud, almost a half-yell, as Jimin holds his body up, cupping the man’s face with one hand and his body with another from falling on the bed.

He knows Jimin’s body is shuddering from the heavy load of cum he keeps shooting into the man’s hole, but Jungkook has no control over his knot this time. Jimin’s ass is milking it, and Jungkook can only keep giving it.

“Whoa.”

“You’re so good, baby. Always so good,” Jimin murmurs into his mouth, smiling as he nips Jungkook’s bottom lip. Jungkook can only smile sleepily, sated and exhausted, and a little bit proud he could make his husband come like that.

The omega resettles their spot, so that Jungkook could scoot back near the bed's headboard, knot still pouring cum into the omega’s stretched hole. Some of it leaks into both of their thighs, but neither of them pay any mind to their sticky bodies. Jimin stays on top of his torso, sprawled tired and tight around his body.

“You okay, hyung? Did I hurt you?”

Jungkook brushes away Jimin’s fringe as the man puts his cheeks on his chest, looking up at him sleepily.

“It hurts a bit, but a good hurt. We haven’t done it in awhile.”

“Then we must do it a lot.”

Jimin giggles as he nips his nipple playfully, Jungkook jolts, jostling with the knot and making Jimin wince.

“Ow. And yes.”

Jungkook’s hand strays to Jimin’s inflated tummy, feeling the rise and fall of the man’s breath as Jimin stares up at him.

“What do I do to deserve you, Jiminie?”

Jimin only smiles up at him sleepily, eyes roaming the expense of Jungkook’s face as he replies. “I ask myself that about you everyday.”

He holds Jimin closer then, as if there is any space left, as his seeds spill into Jimin’s body in intervals. He can feel Jimin falling asleep quick as the exhaustion from the intense love-making swallow them hole. Jungkook waits, caressing the man's hair and back, covering both their body with a comforter.

He watches as Jimin falls deeper into his sleep, breaths slowly losing out to the rise and fall of his chest. When he feels his knot flattens and deflates, Jungkook carefully lifts the man's body as he eases out, kissing Jimin's lips as he does so. The omega grimaces in his sleep, and Jungkook coaxes him with kisses and rubs to his hips as he positions his body on the bed in a comfortable position. Jimin is so tired he does not stir, face sated and flushed.

Jungkook rises next, naked as day, carefully making his way into the bathroom. He pees first, washing his lower torso and soiled cock with water before turning around to the mirror.

Like the first day he came back, Jungkook observes the man once again in the mirror.

In the bright lights of the bathroom, the man looks almost comparably similar to a few months back; skinny in some areas, muscular in some, gaunt cheeks. His hair is longer now but always thick, and around his neck where he usually wore his military dog tags are littered only by kisses and bitemarks from his husband. 

There is a long scar on his clavicle which Jimin traced with his tongue, one where he was slashed open by a claw in combat. It is on the same side as his dislocated shoulder, where a bullet pierced through his kevlar vest. A small three inch scar marks the beginning of his right hip, a scar from a knife. Near his temple, hidden by his thick hair is a scar from the back of rifle. Jungkook does not have to turn around to inspect the medium-sized scars of claws settling into his skin. 

His hand reaches up to his face as he washes it, eyes spotting the scars from Yunho' claws, running a small length of his arm. There are many others, but Jungkook has lost count. He does not want to count.

His eyes are wide, but they do not bulge in fear anymore. They widen in surprise, in euphoria, in curiosity, but Jungkook does not get scared often. Tonight's dream was an exception, and there will be many exceptions, but his eyes do not scare him anymore.

After some time, Jungkook recognises the man in the mirror as himself. When the man smiles, thin lips edged out in a soft smile, Jungkook feels genuine happiness for him, nothing secondhand. His feelings are authentic, not borrowed. 

The man looks like one Jungkook has grown into—an older, wiser, stronger Jungkook. He has more wrinkles now, more thoughts and more fears—and would probably appear jaded to some, but he knows pain and loneliness like a true friend. He understands pain, he understands the world better. 

Jungkook likes this man so he smiles at him.

When he returns to the bedroom next, Jungkook holds a wet cloth in his hand which he uses to wipe Jimin's tummy and chest with. He is careful with the sore back and reddened rims. After wiping the man clean, Jungkook covers them again with the blanket, turning around to sleep facing Jimin, who has long found his way to his dreamscapes.

Jungkook has many things to tell him about tomorrow, about the man in the mirror, the scars he has yet to discover, and the child they want to raise. He falls asleep slowly with that thought, the chill of the spring finally catching up to him. 

They would fall asleep like that for hours, until their bodies rise again, ready for another love making. Jimin may be on his back now as Jungkook thrusts up into him, laughing at times; but everytime they do, their eyes never leave each other for too long, arms holding each other close.

And Jungkook is saved again, breathed to life by Jimin’s skin on his body and his heart beating on his chest.

 

**

 

“Let go." The man smiled briefly in his grimace, showing a hint of bloodied teeth and fangs. "Live.”

 

“Teacher Park, there’s something weird next to your mug.”

With a hand still holding a clump of clay shaped like a bird, Jimin turns his body towards the direction of the boy standing next to the sink two steps away from the window sill where his mug is usually is. A girl is looking up at him still from where she is sat on a stool, watching Jimin’s fingers expertly repair the shape of the small mockingbird, looking more bird-like than duck now.

“What is it, Hyunnie?”

“I’m not sure, Teacher. Looks like a bowl. Mm, there’s a flower in it.”

The day is sultry and breezy, clouds are packing in careful cotton bunches; a distant thunderstorm has been brewing since morning. But the workshop is far from the reach of the distant thunderstorms earlier to rain down in the next city, and Jimin expects tonight their town will be blessed with hefty spring rain.

With the bright lights still flitting through the windows, Jimin tries to see from where he stands what the child is pointing at before the boy loses interest in the thing, running back to his seat to continue his chatter with his peers.

He rushes off to where Jihyun was stood standing mere seconds ago, careful about bugs or animals that could crawl in these shifty weathers. In springtime bugs find home in the hidden crevices of the workshops, finding earth in sheltered places. Jimin has spent hours cleaning cobwebs in all the rooms.

What he spots next is not what he initially imagined it would be.

By the window sill, on the extended ledge where he puts displays of works, specifically next to the designated place of his mug which everyone would know by the stain of water on wood—lies a bowl.

A white bowl. A distorted pot.

It would have looked generic enough, could pass as a medium-sized glazeware which could fit in inside both of his hands or carry two packs of ramen, if not for the walls of the bowl itself.

Jimin would not call this a bowl, but a sculpture. Of a human face. It is a skull.

As Jimin picks the ceramic up, he is careful with the tiny lotus bud floating with the small amount of water filled inside the bowl. Chatters of the children in the background drown out the quickened beats of his heart, the sound of static in his brain. He missed his cup of tea this morning, rushing for work for an early morning class after sleeping in with Jungkook, an extension of the long weekend. Mondays mean he misses Jungkook’s body by an extra ounce, or a tonne. Hence why he had missed this earlier.

The sculpture is the shape of a half human head, like a face with an open brain. A small human bosom which extends from mid-chest until half of his forehead protrudes from the wall of the bowl. The lips are open—boundless, pouty lips which seem like they are mid-speak.

Like a sleeping child, the eyes of the sculpture are carved to show mere eyelids, tiny details of eyelashes keeping them tightly shut. The neck is taut, as the face is bent a bit, showing a clean neck of some sort, except indentations of dentures on one side. With its neck bared, Jimin takes note of the mating mark.

Jimin swallows a shudder which attempts to come out of his lips, an epiphany of some sort in the middle of spring. This sculpture is him.  

That is his face.

The bowl is heavy, all thick rims and thick wall, and as he turns it around, Jimin almost drops the bowl in a pleasant surprise; a serendipity in the place he has called home all his life.

On the other side is another face, a different bolder one with small delicate lips. Like the first one, it is showing half a bosom and a face. But this one has his eyes opened, as if on guard, as if he is unafraid. His strong nose protrudes further out, and from the side might have looked funny. There is a mating mark too on his neck.

It is beautiful, so beautiful that Jimin remains speechless for minutes after, throat clogged up in unshed tears and swelling gratitude.

Inside the small sculpture, the tiny lotus bud wobbles on the water surface, a flower so small Jimin wonders where he could find one. It is the same colour as the one he had in a bigger bowl in front of the workshop lobby, vivid magenta with a white base. Its petals are half-opened to reveal a yellow pistil surrounded by white and magenta, green petals lining the bottom stalk of the flower. The roots, the rhizomes are submerged in the soiled bottom, made of heavy organic soil.

Like this it almost looks like the lotus is growing from the two faces, roots reaching the pit of the bowl. It will have to find a new home soon as it grows, but the image is etched in Jimin’s mind, like old photos which do not decay with the passing seasons.

Nothing else tells the story of rebirth like a lotus flower would, the flower of resurrection.

At nighttime the tiny lotus will sleep through the dark of the nature up to a spot the stars would find light again—reminiscent of the bad times, dark times. As dawn breaks and day rises for a new one, it will emerge and live again, blooming in search of the sun. Lotuses only bloom in muddy water, finding strength in the dirt and decay of life as it grows to its purest form.

Like the tiny lotus trying to stay afloat in the bowl, his Jungkook went away to a difficult war, died, and found his way back into his arms once again. Jungkook waded through the murky water, braved against the tides, discovered pain in all its forms, and is now growing again from his strong roots—blooming and radiant in the backdrop of the dreary earth.

Just like his Jungkook, who stands outside in the gentle sun as he waits for Jimin to return to his arms when the day ends, curling roots keeping his lover close.

The man stands looking at the distant powerlines, unafraid of the rumbling thunderstorm as his strong legs chain him down to earth, and a strong heart breathing him back to life everytime the darkness gets to him a tad bit too much. 

His thick hair is ruffled by the wind, but he neither closes his eyes nor turns away. From where Jimin stands watching him with his glassy eyes; vision clouded by happy tears, he could see the lines that make up the man’s arms from beneath his folded sleeves, scars and veins which extended to where he has both his hands in his pants’ pocket.

He does not turn around nor realise Jimin is watching him, but Jimin knows Jungkook has his face scrunched up in a soft smile, eyes steady as he watches the dust of the field settle in between the foliage of trees. Jungkook has aged so much in a few years, wrinkles lining his beautiful face in strong bold lines, as if his strong jaws and sharp features need more emphasis.

In the distance, the thunderclouds look violent, and the leaves which were blown past Jimin’s windows earlier are now half a mile across where the rain has fallen down in the next city, flying aloft to where the wind guides them. The incoming deep rumbles of thunderstorms and dark ominous clouds are nothing more than a nature's call to seek shelter, and no longer a dark premonition or a battle cry.

The lotus still wobble around in the bowl when Jimin sets it down, the only vivid colour in this side of the town where clay meets water, earth meets the sun. Just like Jungkook, Jimin will bring it home and puts it next to where he sleeps, or the kitchen, or the living room; anywhere he can have it close. He will bear witness to its resurrection, a phoenix rising from the ashes, dusk turning to dawn, a man returning from war.

Just like Jungkook, the man who carries all the vivid colours of everything beautiful to the grey earth and sandy brown of Jimin’s workshop. He is the brightest and the darkest, the faded and the opaque, the full spectrum of hues in Jimin’s life. Like lotuses, his petals open one by one, as he discovers wisdom and transcendence in his sufferings.

Jimin might have been Jungkook’s earth; the cold clay, the sculpture that wraps around him and carry him all his life, but Jungkook will remain—rebirth after rebirth, his ever-beautiful lotus flower.

 

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