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better than nothing

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They’re in Japan the first time they talk about it.

It’s not like Jungkook's never thought about it before. He and Jimin have been - well, whatever they are - for over a year now. Sometimes the other members will teasingly call them boyfriends, and Jungkook would say that fits, for lack of a better word.

He’s thought about it plenty of times before. In their most vulnerable moments, in his most frustrated moments, he thinks about what it might be like to forget about everything else in the world and just be truthful.

But, for all the times he’s thought about it, he’s never actually mentioned anything to Jimin. Jimin, who he’s so proud to call his own - who still struggles to admit his sexuality to himself. He’s never mentioned it because he doesn’t want Jimin feeling guilty, for him to feel like he’s taking something away from Jungkook by being so hesitant all the time. Jimin, who still thinks Jungkook deserves better.

But after the fan meetings are all wrapped up, the DVD filmed, they have some free time to spend in Osaka, and so the two of them, who haven’t spent much time alone recently because of the comeback schedule, decide to do some sight seeing.

They get up late and they head to Dōtonburi for lunch. Then, they go to the aquarium because Jimin finds the jellyfish calming and Jungkook likes the sharks, and afterward they walk through Kema Sakuranomiya Park to see the cherry blossoms, which have just reached full bloom.

And it’s a beautiful day. Everything about it is beautiful, from the sakura overhead to the boy beside him. The sharks are as cool as ever and Jimin relaxes as he always does watching the brightly coloured fish swim past them.

It’s a beautiful day, but nevertheless it’s tinged with sadness.

Jungkook’s given up on being angry that he can’t leave the house without a cap low over his head and a facemask pulled up to his nose. He’s eternally grateful to his fans for making him who he is and he’s accepted his lack of privacy as the price he pays for this insanely blessed life he lives. He’s also given up being angry that he can’t hold his boyfriend’s hand in public. Jungkook’s spent years hoping for change - waiting for the day that someone in power at least suggests legalising gay marriage in Korea - but he’s accepted by now that it’s something that’s a long way off. His members accept them, at least, which is better than nothing.

But that doesn’t mean Jungkook doesn’t get sad about it all sometimes. Because it’s a beautiful day, but it would be all the more beautiful if he could kiss Jimin over the table at lunch, under the fishes at the aquarium, in the sakura covered grass they sit down in when their legs start to ache from dancing so much yesterday and walking so much today. Jungkook itches to pull Jimin into his side and wander through the park with his arm around his shoulders, but he resists. And it upsets him that he has to.

When they get back to the hotel, Jimin declares its time for a nap before dinner and Jungkook smiles, nodding in agreement. He connects his phone to his portable speaker, puts some quiet music on and pulls Jimin down onto the bed, spooning him from behind. Jungkook wraps his boyfriend up tight, hooking his chin over his head and nuzzling into his hair.

“Are you feeling okay today?” Jimin asks in his soft voice, almost whispering. “You seemed a little off at the park.”

Jungkook hums. “I’m just tired. Performing for consecutive days is hard when we go for a while without doing it.”

He feels Jimin nod under his chin, feels him take Jungkook’s fingers in his own and play with them. He relaxes a little, lets the residual sadness seep out of him. After all, at least he has a boyfriend. He tells himself that as long as he has Jimin, he’s got everything he needs.

But then that Troye Sivan song - Strawberries and Cigarettes - that he’s been listening to a lot recently plays through the speakers. Suddenly, that’s all Jungkook can think about - how Troye Sivan came out, first on YouTube and then in a bigger way, through his music, so gracefully and so beautifully and so movingly, and how Jungkook wishes he could do the same. He wishes he could be that honest and vulnerable and raw and brave, that inspirational.

And then, just as suddenly, Jungkook’s gripped by fear. What if he never come out? What if the time’s never right, and he dies feeling like he’s lied to the world, like he’s lied to himself? He feels his breathing pick up, and he knows he needs to slow it down but he’s just so overwhelmed, and that song’s still playing only now there are tears squeezing out of his eyes, and he doesn’t even know why he’s crying and-

And Jimin’s voice cuts through it all.

“Hey, hey, Kookie, what’s going on?” Jimin asks, sounding alarmed. He turns in Jungkook’s arms and pulls them both into an upright position, holding Jungkook out in front of him so that he can see him properly.

“Why are you crying, bub? Huh? What’s going on?”

Jungkook’s breathing slows down a tiny bit but now he’s really crying, because what is he supposed to say to Jimin? How is he supposed to share this truth him?

“N-n-nothing’s wrong,” Jungkook sobs. “I’m j-just t-tired.”

He tries to cover his face with his hands but Jimin pulls them down gently, lips quirking up into a sad smile.

“Kookie, if you’re crying like this then you’re a little more than tired.” Jimin wipes the tears off Jungkook’s cheeks with the sleeve of his sweater. “Tell me what’s happening in that head of yours.”

And Jungkook looks at Jimin through the tears in his eyes, looks at this boy with damp sweater paws and messy hair and a heart bigger than anyone Jungkook’s ever met. He looks so earnest and a little worried and Jungkook feels his resolve splintering.

“It’s t-that song,” he manages to spit out. “I-it just made me think, w-what if we never come o-ut? What i-if I d-die and even my p-parents don’t know I’m-m, I’m”-

“That you’re gay?” Jimin finishes softly, and Jungkook just nods.

Jimin sighs. He wipes some more tears off Jungkook’s face and then tucks Jungkook’s fringe behind his ears.

“I don’t know, Kookie. I really don’t know.” He pauses for a second. “How do you think they’d react?”

“I dunno,” Jungkook says shakily. “Its-its not something we ever discussed, you know? Like, ever.”

“Well,” Jimin starts, slowly, “how do you think your brother would react?”

“I-I think he would be okay with it,” Jungkook answers, wiping his own tears away now. “I think he loves me enough to be okay with it. If I gave him some time to process, maybe.”

“If you want to tell him about us,” Jimin says, “if that’s what’s holding you back then you shouldn’t let it. You can tell him about us, if you want to.”

Jungkook’s dumbfounded for a minute. “Seriously?”

“Seriously,” Jimin replies. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot, recently. I mean - we’ve been with Bantang for a long time now, and although I wouldn’t trade all those years for anything else in the world, I worry about me and my own little brother becoming strangers. I love him so much, and I want him to feel like he knows me, you know.”

Jungkook just blinks, taken aback. “T-that’s amazing, Jimin. You should tell him. You should text him or call him or something.”

Jimin smiles softly. “I was thinking once this lot of promotions are over we could go to Busan for a few days. I’d like to tell him in person. But Kookie, before you start worrying about your whole life being a lie and all that, maybe you should start small as well. Tell your brother and maybe your parents. At the end of the day, your family are the only ones who matter. Your sexuality can be private if you want it to be. You deserve that much, at least.”

The words echo in Jungkook’s ears. You deserve that much, at least. And his boyfriend’s not wrong. Jungkook knows he can get caught up in believing he owes his fans his truth. He gets stressed about not posting enough selfies and he works himself to the bone to get covers out to make up for it and he never once protested when they told him about Burn the Stage, about showing the world one of his most vulnerable moments.

But, he thinks in this moment, he is also a human. He can have privacy and not have secrets. His sexuality doesn’t have to be a secret. He can tell his parents and maybe some close friends and it won’t be a secret, won’t be something he’s trying to hide, just something he's chosen to keep private. And Jungkook likes the sound of that

He lets out a deep breath, one he hadn’t realised he’d been holding. He looks at Jimin again and realises he’s underestimated him once more - underestimated his bravery and loyalty and how much importance he places on family, biological or other wise.

“Feeling a little calmer?” Jimin asks. “We’re supposed to be meeting the others for dinner soon, but we can say no, if you want. We can order room service and watch a movie and cuddle, if that's what you need.”

“No,” Jungkook says, voice sounding stronger already. “Let’s go and eat with them. We’ve spent all day alone. They probably miss us.”

Jimin leans forward and wraps Jungkook up in a hug. “Is this what was bugging you earlier?”

Jungkook nods against Jimin’s shoulder.

“You know, you could have said something to me. I know I’m not the easiest to talk to about this particular subject, but if you’re hurting like that, I’ll always help you work through it.”

And after today, Jungkook doesn’t doubt him.

He still worries about it occasionally when they get back to Korea. He worries about his brother reacting badly, or Jimin’s brother reacting badly, or it getting out somehow if he lets it leave the space Jungkook and Jimin make between themselves in hotel rooms and under bed covers. He worries that he’s lying to his fans, that he’s disrespecting them by not showing them all of him. And he still gets a little angry sometimes when he thinks about none of this is anyone’s fault, but it’s also everyone’s fault.

But at least now, when he does get angry or sad or anxious, he knows he can talk to Jimin about it. He thinks maybe he should have talked to Jimin about it a long, long time ago. Maybe that would have helped them both out.

But the fact is, they’re talking about it now. And once more, Jungkook has to admit that’s better than nothing at all.