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I Spi-Der Love of My Life

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everything about jimin is lovely.

he’s patient. kind. balanced and fine. he doesn’t laugh at jeongguk’s bursts of enthusiasm at a physics project, or the random designs and doodles that he stashes away in sketchbooks. he doesn’t laugh at jeongguk’s geeky tendencies to binge watch on marvel films and comics, his love for overwatch, his secret stash of manga under his bed. sometimes, jimin reads his manga too, and they will sprawl all over someone’s bed, as jimin explains to him the character’s backstory when he's lazy to start from volume one.

sometimes, he pretends not to understand, just so he can lean on jimin's soft tummy for a longer time as the elder excitedly conveys the relationships and current plights of each person, using many hand gestures and pointing at each panel animatedly as jeongguk turns the page. does jimin ever know how he feels?

unlike everyone else, jimin tries to befriend him- an orphan who’s also moving to seoul from their southeastern province busan. he’s always been alone, save for the house his aunt may left behind for him. it’s been lonely, most of the time. but ever since they met at a convention for the students moving to the city to further their education, jimin is his older brother, his best friend, the closest he can get to the term ‘family’.

but what if he wants more than just brothers now?

it's been a thought that he's been struggling with; a shy, anti-social boy that prefers to stick to his comfort zones, hide in his room and avoid seeing mean people if possible. it's already difficult growing up with no parental figures, much less deal with the people that mock him, make lewd remarks at him. jimin tries his best to shield jeongguk from all that, but maybe he wants that to turn around. he wants to protect jimin instead.

jimin is his everything.

it's an internal turmoil, a conflict of interests; is this the bold desires, the forceful suppression of a raging war of hormones that courses through his pubescent veins? or is this just love that he ardently feels for jimin? is it weird that he's so overprotective about jimin, that he feels so strongly to be the one jimin confides in, holds and fanboys to? or is this just a nondescript manifestation of the possession of someone he sticks 24/7 to, someone who makes him feel like heaven even in his darkest, hellish days?

a someone who makes him feel special, like he’s capable of saving the world.

is he afraid to lose his everything because he knows it will leave him with nothing? or is it just a phase, that he's blindly bumbling through with his thick frames and bad eyesight from choosing to always do things in the dark? he's seen those emo breakup posts, warnings of ‘love hurts, it causes anger, jealousy, obsession’, the countless posts on ‘why don't you love me back?’ . the pre-eminent tendencies of fake love, and he's afraid. (he wants it, real love. ) if someone who's so used to light in the darkness, if that light disappears, will they still be able to see?

jimin is his angel, his world. he can’t afford to lose that.


jimin has always been soft hearted for the fresh faced little boy in busan, with the most innocent brown doe eyes. naturally, they've been assigned to share the same residential apartment slightly off campus, due to the similarities in their hometown, and the college hopes that they'll be able to settle down better with someone familiar.

he wouldn't exactly call it attraction per sé, or love at first sight; but he does admit that there was indeed a voice in his head that told him to approach jeongguk, a certain sort of aura that he found himself walking towards. like a child drawn to something shiny and golden, buried in the sand, glinting under the sunlight. like the bifrost bridge that heimdall guards devotedly. perhaps it was a stroke of luck that they hit off so well, shared similar interests, had more in common than not. even if they had more differences, in hindsight, jimin thinks he might have indulged jeongguk either way. there's a certain sort of charm about jeongguk, in his shy smiles and cute teeth, his desire to please, to be acknowledged particularly by his teachers and jimin himself.

there's something about them, but jimin can't quite put his finger on it just yet.


he's watched sailor moon growing up, shugo chara, anpanman, avengers, x-men; the list goes on, but jimin never laughs at him for being girly or childish, and instead supports him and his quirky little imitations of them. his favourite is jeongguk wearing a wig (he looked so pretty) and ridiculously mimicking “for love and justice, the pretty guardian in a sailor suit, sailor kook! in the name of the universe, i'll punish you!” it's so cute and the resemblance to that scene is uncanny. jeongguk feels the countless butterflies whenever he makes jimin laugh. he sounds like sunshine and pink lemonade.

all that aside, he strongly believes that people ought to be free from oppression, that each and every human being should be kind and compassionate, treated on equal ground. he's lucky that jimin and him are aligned not only in the how they complement physically (jimin's hands are made for him to hold, he swears) but also in terms of ideals. beliefs. and for that he's thankful.

after the mild bullying and teasing in his school back in busan (if jimin teases him, it's a nice and good thing. this one’s… not so nice.) ranging from the risqué, obscene gestures aimed at him for being small and having feminine features, the tossing of his glasses around, to the booty calls (again, he just wants to be manly), the sense of impartiality, of justice strongly resonated with him. he started working out, going to the gym so he could fend for himself, basic self defence to stand up to the people that always cornered him and took pleasure in playing pranks on the teacher’s pet.

the way some people feel better after consuming a whole tub of lemon sorbet when sad (jimin), or like to eat chocolates when stressed (jimin), jeongguk likes running, likes doing physical training to gain muscle mass, sweat every ounce of inferiority, insecurities, sweat them all away. by the time he reaches seoul, he's in no way as built as those weightlifters or anything, but he's buff enough to be considered a threat to his bullies. not an adult-child, but a man.

on one of his weekends alone, jimin having a camp with his dance team, it's evening when jeongguk walks by an alley, with three bulky, hunched figures looming over what seems like a girl. it's a secluded area, and jeongguk feels his blood boil. whatever they intend to do, it's never going to be a good thing.

“hey! what do you think you're doing!”

three burly heads turn to face him, and even though jeongguk has gained considerable weight in muscle, his growth spurt makes him look lean, still. he may be on par with one- but three! he only smells trouble, but still, he signals the girl to flee as the three gruff muscular forms stride towards him. he gulps.

“you think you're cute, trying to play saviour, eh? tell you what, kid- you give us your wallet, and withdraw all your money from the atm nearby, and we might consider letting you go,” what seems like the leader of the other two tower over him, breath smelling like cigarettes. jeongguk stands at 178cm, but the people in front on him are definitely way taller.

“never.” jeongguk grits, veins coursing with a searing heat, déjà vu of the past trickling back into the seared indents sunken into his mind- getting slammed into lockers when he said he liked studying, punched when he put in a word for people catcalling jimin.

he puts up a fight, despite being severely outnumbered, an impeccable defeat, but he relentlessly fights back with tenacity, until he gets socked in the jaw, punched in the gut. there's something moist at his mouth, and when he touches it, he winces to realise it's a split lip. he’s definitely get bruises all over, but at least he knocked out that guy’s front tooth when he concentrated that one punch. the repeated kicks to make sure he breaks at least one limb or some ribs (he doesn't- thank you, universe) like it's a stampede weigh down on him, before they flee when they see a policeman on patrol. he may be in an inconvenient physical state now, but hey, he did deliver one or two fatal blows, and he's proud of that. it was a valiant attempt at an intangible victory.

it's exhilarating, to know he's managed to save a girl from any possible detrimental outcome- she definitely did not ‘deserve it’, taking into account that dress code stereotyping (bullshit) aside if the media were to ever cover her probable assault without his intervention. on his knees, he staggers his way to find balance against the brick wall, knuckles bleeding, panting heavily as he slowly slumps into a corner, checking for signal on his phone, check if his body’s still functional; unbeknownst to him, his hair mingles into the magnificent web of a spider.

and then he gets bitten.


he trudges his way back, suddenly drowsy but legs strong, body burning up feverishly; the moment he manages to unlock the door, he rids of his clothes, turns up the fan and ac, and falls onto his bed without thinking twice. the pain is excruciating, and so is the fogginess and sleep spell kicking in.

his body is burning up, fever dream taking over as a repetitive cycle of losing jimin. he gets teleported into so many realms- it's almost like one of those reincarnation au fics he's seen lurking, like some stucky fanfiction or something that jimin secretly reads. he fails to save jimin in that tattoo-soulmate verse, and the surgeon and patient verse, and enemies that remain enemies. unrequited love that never becomes two way, always one sided; the list goes on. jimin is always so far away, and jeongguk is always the wingman but never the groom.

always singularity, and never serendipity. never reaching euphoria, but irrevocably chasing for an answer, an epiphany; it's a slow fever, and he burns, with desire, with dread, with tears. an interlude between dream and reality. an awakening.

he jolts awake.

the clock tells him he's been out for a day- wait. he can see the label of his shirt strewn on the floor- jeongguk gingerly touches his face, gasping when there's nothing, spotting his cracked and broken glasses near his bag. he has perfect vision.

“what's going on,” he murmurs to himself, in a frenzy, and somehow an old storage box barricades the entrance to their room. strange, he hadn't touched or seen that in a long while. a cotton spandex suit pokes out, and the nostalgic moments come rushing in- jimin and him geeking out and making their own marvel costumes, mixed with this piece, an artistic creation born from him and jimin one friday night after too much alcohol. it's that red and blue spandex suit for jeongguk if he were to ever pursue his dreams as a professional wrestler or boxer, lucha libre style. the colours are as such for a touch of patriotism, a small tribute to the korean flag with it's black web line design and holes for eyes. jeongguk smiles warmly when he remembers how jimin's face lit up when he praised his idea.

he pops off the chrome eye lenses of his homemade iron man mask instinctively, hands moving on his own. they allow the wearer to see outside, but others won't be able to see his own eyes. somehow, they're a perfect fit, and it looks dope.

when he's finishing up with the stitching of garment to accommodate his current build, he feels a tingling sensation and decides to chuck the box and suit under his bed, putting on some sweatpants and heading for the fridge. hell, he can now see the freaking expiry dates on the cereal boxes on the counter, hear the buzz and chirp of the insects outside. this is all so strange. for someone so used to seeing the rim of his wire frame glasses most of the time, he’s not used to it at all.

just as he reaches the fridge for banana milk, he spots something crawl across the kitchen. the random factbook in his head supplies it is an arthropod, of the class arachnid. he vaguely recalls watching an insect documentary with jimin (fascinated with spiders, at one stage, perhaps still is,) and dozing off. he can even see the spider silk coming out from its spinnerets- and he slaps himself to wake up, but he already is. without warning, wearing his glasses now makes everything a whole tonne blurrer, so he leaves it at that. but god, this has to be a joke, was he always this ripped? a bicep curl in the mirror makes him whistle- what can he say, he’s officially pretty damn well endowed. he takes his obligatory not today satan commentary back.

it only dawns upon him when loose leaflets or pamphlets on the floor start sticking to the soles of his feet for no apparent reason.


jimin gets busy with what jeongguk coins as ‘his typical dancer things’, fun boys getting ready for a concert or teaching the kids at an orphanage as part of his extra curricular activities. there’s only twenty-four hours in a day, but jeongguk thinks of him alarmingly more than twenty-four times. but he takes the unnerving silence in the house (along with his terribly keen hearing) in his stride, digging through the cartons in the storage for his little webshooter mechanisms the two of them had devised a long time ago. coupled with the secret stash of laboratory chemicals and apparatus that they had accumulated over time, jeongguk devises his own starter pack: sticky webs for dummies 101.

in five days, he manages to swing to and fro, slowly adjusting and adapting to his newly regulated dna mutations; he knows how the comic goes- with great power comes great responsibility. he gets many, many bruises, but they’re easily hidden with long sleeves and skinny jeans. (he’s sad about the no plain white shirts protocol, but his call of duty comes first!)

in seven days, the friendly neighbourhood spider makes his debut. jimin is squealing and taking videos and exclaiming with such vigour that jeongguk’s sprinkle of laughter overflows into raucous chortle.

“jeonggukie, look! he’s- he’s real. ” jimin’s eyes are literally glowing; and jeongguk feels his gaze soften. “he’s my hero! look at him saving a baby chick and a rabbit crossing the road!” they’re spending the weekend together, slumped in an oddly domestic position, the news in the background as white noise as jimin continues babbling on about his day. jeongguk could honestly listen to jimin speak for hours. maybe even days if jimin’s up for it. the way his lips purse when he forgets where he’s stopped, the way he slips into a soft, sweet drowsy sounding busan satoori lilt, the melodious up and down intonations escaping through the crook of his front tooth. “pretty cool, huh.” he casually replies, surging with a teensy weensy (spider) bit of accomplishment. their idyllic routines always settle in as such a stark contrast to the intellectually stimulating and rigorous regimens of classes and tests, olympiads and decathlons- a home for the body, a refuge for the heart.

a soul for a soul.


jeongguk practices lots. he, in a similar fashion to jimin, has the burning desire to perfect the things he considers himself good at. jimin desires to perfect everything he lays his hands on, in other words, a perfect man. soon, spiderman goes from helping animals to preventing theft, leaving compliments and nice reminders (something jimin instilled in him subconsciously, with every fibre of his 174cm worth of tender loving care). whenever he appears on the news or on social media, he feels a sense of satisfaction, validated and affirmed when ‘spiderman saving kids from reckless drivers’ becomes the highlight of jimin’s day, and not the new copy of the avengers comic, or releases of singles by his favourite singers.


jimin’s good at art, but he’s always shy about his doodles (because ‘gukkie’s are much nicer’ ) and thus he always hides them or stashes them aside. however, if jeongguk silently creeps up on him, completely noiseless now, it’s a different story. he gets berated for scaring jimin- who’s still an adorable baby, afraid of ghosts- busy sketching up a formula. “what if spiderman uses his webs like, you know, instead of white, what if they were like chameleons? changing their colour to camouflage with whatever surface they came into contact with?” towards the end, jeongguk’s supersonic hearing allows him to detect jimin mumbling that he doesn’t want spiderman to get hurt. he blushes, and they both push up their glasses awkwardly. (jeongguk got a pair of non-prescription ones so it wouldn’t be funny walking around without, whereas jimin wears them only when he’s serious, focusing, or studying.)

according to jimin, the webs ought to be more viscous and stretchier for a more accurate trajectory aim. he starts going off on the concepts of elasticity and frequencies, makes jeongguk ponder about it, more so of how to utilise them, while jimin tackles the what and which components with finesse. flash forward into the future- jimin does concoct it one day, (borrowing the chemical lab for a project and a very disarming smile), adding some shimmer to make it look like golden rain in a jar. (to jeongguk, it looks more like golden glittery honey.) he says he might never meet spidey, but he hopes his heightened sense hearing will lead him to their room and take the jar beside his bed one fine day. meanwhile, jeongguk hopes for sweet dreams, on jimin’s behalf, with each and every day.


jeongguk’s spidey senses keep him alert and on call most of the time when danger arises, but when it comes down to jimin, both jeon jeongguk and spiderman are synonymous in their perpetual watch over jimin, keeping tabs on him wherever possible. (just not too obvious to the point where nature calls at the exact same time. that would be pretty epic- yeah, jimin moving out to be exact.)

if one thing’s for sure, that’s jimin’s love for animals. he’s so passionate about them, feeding as many stray cats as he can find or afford, watching cat and dog videos because they’re healing in nature. so passionate to the point he would rescue his favourite campus cat brandley, stuck high up on a tree when it’s raining, the same way he would run to fetch jeongguk in a storm when the latter forgets his own umbrella and is only dressed in a hoodie. and now he’s stuck, and worn out converse highs almost slipping off the wet bark, just millimetres before he plunges to the ground when a warm presence engulfs him, hanging in midair until spiderman finds the (begrudging) will to put him down.

“hey beautiful, be careful next time, alright? nice cat you got,” jeongguk is smiling through his mask, but of course jimin can’t see. “y-you saved me,” he whispers, brandley mewling in his arms, soaked as well. jimin’s awestruck, and as romantic as it seems in the movies (the!! notebook!! jeongguk hates that movie so much, jimin has played it since forever , but now… guess who’s a willing contender to reenact it, upside down?) being drenched in head to toe in denim with a thrashing cat in your arms, soaked to the bone, is most definitely a bad idea.

“thank you,” jimin breathes, and he swears on brandley that spiderman caresses his cheek through his suit. he makes his way home, smiling from ear to ear, cheeks as red as that spandex suit- jeongguk isn't home yet, since he has a tutoring gig scheduled in at the last minute, so jimin towels off himself and brandley, waiting for his best friend to come back.


“jeonggukie, you don’t understand- he's sooooo handsome…” jimin's blushing as he softly admits, fingers poking together, and jeongguk snorts convincingly. thank goodness the storm is still raging on, so he has a valid excuse to come home fully drenched.

“oh come on, hyung- spiderman wears a freaking mask! how would you know he's good looking?” the words are all (tree) bark and no (spider) bite; instead, he's trying his best not to break into a goofy grin. jimin is a precious baby that needs to be protected, geeking out like that- tiny hands balled into little fists, an indicator he’s really enthralled.

“i just-! i just know, okay? he's amazing…”

in tandem to the pink dust coating his cheeks, the little spider emblem that ought to be on jeongguk's chest would be puffed out in pride. it's just a pity that he's not exactly in the most convenient of positions to tell jimin his one and only gigantic, tarantulan sized secret (no, it's not his crush on jimin- it's the other one- wait, so he actually has two secrets.) because there will be so many detrimental consequences that could be resulted from an impulsive giveaway.

after they’re done (in a jiffy) with coursework and others, jimin once again goes on rambling about how amazing and marvellous spiderman is; a part of jeongguk is filled to the brim with instant gratification, ego boosted all the way to knowhere- but another part, deep down in the recesses of his heart of hearts, he wishes the praise could be directly attributed with his own humanized name. that jimin thinks jeongguk is amazing. not some alter ego that already has been built up by comic books and an awesome franchise.

“he held me like this, like this!” jeongguk just melts when jimin clings onto him all over again, the smaller pouncing on him once he hits the mattress, and jeongguk just laughs as jimin encases himself in his arms, guiding jeongguk's limbs the way spiderman held him. jeongguk has to resist the strong urge to caress his cheeks and hair again. he's just so fluffy. jimin is so soft and so, so inviting.

“like this?” jeongguk murmurs, jimin leaning in like two perfect pieces of a puzzle, “mmh, he was less warm though- maybe it was the spandex?”

jeongguk just laughs, tossing his head back as his arms sneak its way automatically around jimin’s waist, the small of his back, all of his magnetic presence. he inhales jimin's mesmerising personality, exhales his worries of jimin asking why his heart is beating so fast. “like that, yeah?”

“yeah,” jimin mumbles, “kookoo, close your eyes and count to twenty.”

he cheats and opens his eyes at twelve, but jimin's still snuggled in his hold, out like a lamp. no wonder why he asked jeongguk to close his eyes.


it becomes a daily thing- today is the fourth day of jimin lying on jeongguk's broad chest, raving about his superhero crush (again, ugh) and jeongguk's pretending to text- but to be frank, he’s just taking a video (vertical hi-res 1080p) of jimin pouting and going so, so pink as he describes every moment of meeting spiderman. with every retelling, jimin gets shyer and shyer, like he’s actually in love with said neighbourhood spider, doing this embarrassed blanket kick that's so adorable. jeongguk wishes he could immortalize this whole meaningful moment.

“and then he shot the web, and he held me! and the next thing i knew i was flying in the air, then- have some manners, you brat! can you turn off your phone, please? are you even listening-”

“huh?” jeongguk immediately fumbles, spacing out and quickly locks his phone so jimin can't see he's recording, and jimin sulks. “jeonggukie, you're so mean! getting all distracted while i'm hot at bothered about my, my-” okay, so while jimin’s all flustered getting the word crush out, jeongguk’s internally regretting not risking his phone to record this moment too.

he deftly uses his fingers to brush jimin's bangs behind his ear, “sorry, darling, i got distracted…” his mellow apologetic tone makes jimin let him off the hook. “you still gotta listen! i know i used to be team cap but spiderman is team iron man, so you still have to listen, you know… i'm still your hyung...” jimin doesn't really say anything more when jeongguk kisses his hair. he feels tingles down his spine, his blood rush to his face. it's what bros do, right?


when exam season comes round the corner, both of them are busy cramming (actually, only jimin) in the nooks and crannies or the apartment, heading to the coffeeshop, the library, the labs. as intelligent and physically fit jeongguk may be, saving the neighbourhood one crime at a time ultimately results in him hitting the books (snoozing after two paragraphs, to be honest) or at least, the gym and library is what he tells jimin.

it's the first time he's failed math, the amplified sounds of the clicking of pen caps, the harsh jabs of a calculator, the smooth whoosh the pencil lead makes a straight line for the axes of a graph. jimin finds that hard to believe. they've seen each other considerably less, given the odd timetables and pre arranged activities. it feels weird.

jeongguk gets by more and more irritable to the finely tuned noises, sensitive hearing both a blessing and a curse. the only way he can stop these humming and buzzing and popping sounds (similar to taking off in an airplane) is by daydreaming; thoughts of jimin's endearing smile, his rosy cheeks, his desire to be praised, to be the best, his cute right dimple that shows up occasionally. it makes jeongguk look creepy, randomly smiling to himself at the most awkward of intervals in class, but it helps him get by. jimin is a drug, an addiction, and ironically also a remedy.


jimin is a night owl, and he also studies lots, scours the internet for hours to read up on the most diverse of topics. he shouldn't even be surprised jimin is still up. they don't talk much anymore, jimin hanging out with his dance crew (jeongguk faintly recalls a few names like taeminnie hyung, hoseokie hyung and jonginie hyung, but don't quote him on this) to relax after a paper, dancing his anxiety away, and because bad guys can strike any moment at any place in the vicinity, jeongguk's busy running around the whole town on the flipside. jimin occasionally feels the urge to talk about the news, of spiderman doing his best, but his apartment is empty. what on earth is jeongguk up to nowadays? it's not like he's a social butterfly or a particularly busy person usually, and this is the first time such a thing has happened.

“jeonggukie, where were you the whole night?” there's a little frown etched on his face, full lips puckered as he sets aside his phone, as if waiting precisely for this moment of jeongguk sneaking back into their room. it's 3:30am. thank god he chose the door and not the fucking window- jimin would be scared shitless. he is afraid of ghosts lurking after all.

“o-oh! er, the gym? h-hyung, why aren't you sleeping?” the nervous laughter that jeongguk forces sounds everything but convincing, sweating buckets from jimin's displeased countenance and yeah, well, stopping thieves from breaking into that nice sandwich shop auntie’s cashier. gotta save ma city, hyung. she makes excellent stringy warm cheese toast, and always gives jeongguk extra servings of fries- but that's besides the point. a life is a life. any law abiding citizen deserves to be protected, mean or kind.

“jeon jeongguk.” jimin's tone of voice becomes as cold as the air in the room, effused with confusion and hurt. it feels funny when jimin calls him by his full name- he's always using cute nicknames and he only ever does this when he's extremely mad or disappointed. this moment should be a mix of both. “do you really hate me so much? why aren't you telling me the truth anymore? do you not trust me? did i do someth-”

“no!”

it's way too loud and given whatever odd hour it is now, it definitely echoes in their room. “no- hyung, i like you lots, i just- i, um, i-” c’mon seventh sense, you dumbass, think of something, quickly-

 

“i went on a date with someone.”

 

jeongguk almost facepalms at his sorry ass of an excuse, but figures it would be legitimate enough to buy him some time. maybe a month or so, tops. his faux pas makes jimin's eyes light up in the dark, all bitterness and sorrow eroded, instead transforming into one of surprise and excitement. it makes jeongguk's heart wrench- is jimin so happy because he's finally ‘found someone’? does be not like me that way at all? not even one bit? or should he be worried jimin is too trusting and naïve when it's him? or does this apply to everyone else? never mind- his brain hurts just think about it. it’s like an endless love maze; there’s no magic shop (like in the movies and games) to buy a map to find his way out, to reload on ammo, to buy a free ticket out of this tightening of his throat, sweatiness of his palms. it’s not like he can worm his way out by using credits or diamonds, emeralds and rp to level up.

“oh, jeonggukie, my little busan baby! you're growing!” jimin leaps out of his duvet, nodding in understanding, mumbling to himself about how this was why jeongguk was being secretive and stiff these days. a sweaty jeongguk exhales a huge sigh of relief as jimin buys into his nonsensical farce without any questions- jimin tries to stay mad, but he can't possibly remain angry at jeongguk for too long. that's… just how it is.

jimin immediately grills him on who the person is, is it a him, her or them? have they held hands, and jeongguk almost dies a little inside when jimin gets flustered while asking him if he's done the nasty, if they've kissed- hell, if jimin makes those exaggerated kissing noises and puckers up those pretty glossy lips one more time, jeongguk swears on the six infinity stones that he will kiss jimin senseless to make him shut up. hopefully, he'll feel butterflies too.

also, it's kind of easy to reply when all his answers are, in actual fact, based on jimin himself.

“hyung, you know i would never hate you, right? i like you so much.”

there's something that stirs in jimin's chest, a small flutter, tingling like a spider crawling on his skin, a certain warmth when jeongguk looks at him so passionately and earnestly when he says that; it makes jimin feel funny, like there's a seed planted in his heart a long time ago that's finally sprouting like a baby groot. all he does is nod, before pulling jeongguk into a hug. this isn't 2nd grade, so what is this strange sensation makes him feel so weird? maybe just one day, he might understand.

 

“i like you very much, too.”


homecoming season swings by after their tension has been cut by child-safe scissors instead of a knife. the paper that results is jagged and crumpled at the edges, due to the blunt blades, dull from lack of sharpening; for the lack of a better word, it’s ugly. unbearable. jeongguk thinks he might be going crazy, seeing jimin less and less these days, and even when they bump into each other on campus, the taut smile jimin gives him, curt nods and laconic monosyllabic answers; if only you know what i know.

the song that comes on shuffle further entrenches his mood, like a pathetic fallacy with the sullen clouds above. yesterday, spiderman had saved jimin once more, almost being hit by a high speed segway- when he comes home, jimin only gives him a tight lipped smile. no more overzealous gushing. no more words of encouragement. jeongguk wonders if jimin’s so called good friends know about his little predilection, minor infatuation with his alter ego;

only fools fall for you.

he wonders if there will be a day that jimin will hold him tight, jump on him again when he's scrolling through twitter on the couch, become a blushing mess raving about spiderman, share straws for a cup of bubble tea. he wishes he didn't need to- but he has to, and he senses that jimin also is well aware of his tales that are utter rubbish, the worst lies he has ever told. jimin looks weary whenever he asks for jeongguk's wearabouts, initial concern and worry now morphing into one of drained and tiredness; it's as if he's been waiting to find the exit at the end of the maze although he entered knowing it was a closed box.

it's a numbing and redundant, a mundane routine akin to losing an exquisite earring, but only searching the exact same places as before, absurdly hoping for it to show up one day as if it were god’s plan. it's bizarre and yet realistic all at the same time.

the rift between them may be mended on the surface, but there's something repulsive about the distinctive wedge it has created- an unseen lump hidden under resown pristine sheets, a house of cards they painstakingly built up, knocked down on carefully planned impulse.

 

maybe jimin doesn't want to see him or have any relation with him anymore.


“hyung, you wanna come to homecoming with me?” his voice is meek, and it comes sheepishly as jimin writes out an essay, neat handwriting that could rival print.

“huh? don't you have a date? your miss right?” the answer is noncommittal, and jimin doesn't look up, not even once. jeongguk has to bite his cheek so he doesn't react childishly, like start crying. it feels like they're roommates- nothing more, nothing less. and that's all.

“it didn't go so well,” his lips are his next target, eyes moistening. since when did they reach this point? jimin's eyes meet his, softened as his plump lips part open slightly in surprise. who would have the nerve to play with jeongguk's feelings like that? he's a sensitive boy and a sweetheart, and that jimin can vouch for.

“i'm sorry to hear that,” he mumbles, reaching for jeongguk's hands reflexively. it feels awkward and familiar all at the same time. “and why should i go as your date?” the coy smile playing on his lips eases the tightness of jeongguk's shoulders. because you're my first love, and i like you. i like-like you. is that too much to ask?

instead, jeongguk starts stuttering on his words, brain too frazzled at dawn, and jimin laughs as jeongguk goes bright red, tripping all over his words, trying to guise his invitation as a bro thing, but also make it appealing enough for jimin to accompany him. jimin smells like the coffee he's been drinking, mixed with cinnamon spice and sugar.

and god does he miss that laugh. he's positive it must the eighth wonder of the world, when jimin laughs with his whole being, throwing his body onto the closest surface. he's just so breathtakingly beautiful by simply existing.

“of course i will, let me know when you've picked your outfit, and i'll make sure to match up with you.”

 

maybe their love is not over.


they end up in matching black suits, the ones reserved for attending relative’s weddings and formal ceremonies. jimin has a yellow bow tie, and jeongguk's is blue. it's only evening when they arrive for the cocktail reception, but the hall’s already crowded with people, party coming to life. jeongguk offers his arm for jimin to take, making sure to walk on the outsides and steer clear of crowded areas so jimin doesn't gets bumped into. jimin's continually fussing over his hair parting, making sure his bow is straight. (look here, he's still whipped, so let him have is guilty pleasures of jimin tending to him after that long drought. he's touch starved, suffering from jimin deficiency.)

the seniors give their speeches, they're entertained by specials acts specifically prepared for homecoming. jimin unwittingly puts his hands on jeongguk's thigh, warmth and familiarity slowly seeping back in. it's like nothing ever changed. he's always had this bad habit of calling jimin darling- from this movie he'd seen, and thereafter vowed to call the person he would wed as that. some people settled for sweetheart, for chubs (jimin), for honey, for babe, baby, princess; aunt may once told him that his mother used to cradle him in her arms and call him darling- maybe that's why. he slips up sometimes, but jimin never comments on that, instead doesn't make any visible reaction to it. it's just like jeongguk sulking and calling him minmin, minnie, chimchim- maybe only the dropping of honorifics, the ultimate title of hyung will get a rise out of him. it's sad and comforting all at the same time.

people are watching the performances, interacting, dancing- but all jeongguk can see is jimin. the conversations that he can hear, coming from every single corner in the hall, he could possibly pick out distinctively- but instead he chooses to focus solely on the love of his life.

and then when ed sheeran comes on, jimin beams up at him, tugging at his lapels to dance a slow waltzy little number, and jeongguk perks up, smiling warmly in return.

maybe the worst part of their strained relationship would be over.

'cause we were just kids when we fell in love,  not knowing what it was
i will not give you up this time
but darling, just kiss me slow, your heart is all i own
and in your eyes, you're holding mine
baby, I'm dancing in the dark with you between my arms

 

it's not a maybe. he's definitely wrong.

he feels the tingles run down his spine, goosebumps rising and hairs on his hand stand mid sway, jimin held obliviously in his arms, a blissful, blessed vision to see, a feast for the eyes. but he can't do it, leaving someone or something in danger just because the embodiment of everything his heart yearns for is right before his eyes. no, he's been chosen, to fulfill a destiny, a calling- there's no way he can let an almost lover get in the way; especially if jimin only sees him as a younger brother. that's unfair. jimin would be an ideal lover for him, but that's only his side of the story.

“i'm sorry,” is all jeongguk has to offer, as he painfully tears jimin away from his hold, watches the smaller boy’s eyes widen, mouth going lax, hands frozen in place all in slow motion, calling out his name. what the hell is jeongguk doing?

“i'm really so sorry, jimin, darling- but thanks for everything, honey.” and he sprints off, pressing a chaste kiss to jimin's cheek. if this is the last time i'll ever see you, at least i got to call you darling, at least i got to kiss you when you're alert and sober.

the emotions that start brewing and toiling inside him, the sourness and the acrid feelings all start to resurface, as jeongguk hurriedly pushes his way through the crowds. the masses of students open a tiny crevice for him to escape through before closing back like floodgates; jimin only manages to catch him seemingly shed his blazer and tie, possibly haphazardly dumping them along the way.

the wounds jeongguk inflicted onto his amour-propre by inviting him so nicely (he put so much effort into dressing up to look good as jeongguk's date), and then as a grand finale jeongguk decides to snub him in the most cowardly manner, and kissing him on the cheek like it was some kind of joke before running off; not to mention  by ditching him in front of the biggest possible cohort size he can think of. it it makes his blood boil. it's not like jeongguk can pull out any more of those ‘family issues’ cards when he doesn't even have that set to begin with; to think that jimin hasn't even gotten started with the part where jeongguk's blatantly embarrassed him in front of all his friends, in front of the people that dislike him and often mock him for being a ‘goody-two-shoes’ sitting right before the teacher’s table; he heard their loud sniggers, and that's something jeongguk himself should have tasted before, so why is he doing this?

“alcohol. i- i need alcohol.” he makes a beeline for the drinks, inner turmoil of emotion slowly sinking from rage into sadness, disappointment laced with melancholy. it feels like a betrayal, that jeongguk had stabbed him not in the back, but straight to the heart; he can't even feel the proper emotions to will himself to cry. does that make sense? even the bottle of red wine mocks him, it's a replica of the one jeongguk got him to ‘celebrate’ some made up event, when all he wanted was to cheer jimin up. it's an expensive liquor selection, and he knows jeongguk isn't born with a silver spoon or anything like that, and yet he really did go out of his way to get it. just for jimin. just to make him smile.

 

what am i to you, jeongguk?

he only allows one tear to roll down, rubbing at it mercilessly, erasing whatever traces of a seemingly halfhearted kiss jeongguk had pressed there, before he downs the wine like it's water and he's parched.


he pays no heed to the news flash that night of spiderman saving a single mother and her two kids (one still an infant) from an assailant. neither does he realise the missing ‘honey’ jar from his bedside table.

he’s too preoccupied in the midnight rendezvous going on in his bed.


it’s 4 o’clock in the morning when jeongguk makes his way back into their room, dressed back in plain-clothes, having showered in a communal toilet somewhere in the vicinity so he wouldn’t expose his identity- especially after painstakingly hiding it from jimin for so long.

what he expects is jimin missing from their room, angry, refusing to talk to him, giving him the cold shoulder, or even sleeping on the couch or anywhere else in the house to get away from him. it would be a lie to say that he hadn’t thought of all the hypothetically painful consequences on the way home. he’s even been thinking on whether he should buy some lemon flavoured gummies or snacks to appease the older boy; jimin means the world to him, and he’s willing to chase him and win him back after that unprofessional episode in the dancehall. he really should have handled it better- but in retrospect, if he had taken any longer, the assailant in the single mother’s house would plausibly physically assaulted them. it’s difficult, burdensome, to juggle between the things he loves to do and the person he loves to be with. it’s just so hard.

what he does not expect at all, is to find someone else in jimin’s bed, in his room. their room. he was initially worn out despite having freshened up in a dingy shower stall, and yet now he’s wide awake, bloodshot eyes widened in horror. temporarily incapacitated, an incredulous expression, an unblinking stare. it’s not the first time jimin has dated whatsoever (prior to his knowledge based on the recountings of jimin’s days before meeting jeongguk himself) but it is the first time he’s brought someone home. to their home. jeongguk isn’t sure where or when, but a part of him shatters, stomach flipping, gut churning. whoever the boy is, he sure fits so nicely with jimin, as their limbs pile atop one another, snuggled into each other’s embrace. it’s such a peaceful and tranquil, serene sight that it leaves a horrible, nasty taste in jeongguk’s mouth. it’s just… not fair. that’s how close, what they used to be- friendzoned, bro-zoned or not. that could've been him, in another life. there's just something about this scene doesn’t sit well with jeongguk.

“no… no, you didn't-” he’s jittery, disorientated, hurt; he starts taking steps backwards, shaking his head vehemently. he's not even dating jimin, but this whole intimate scene makes him feel sick- they look so… good together. complementary. this isn't right. caught up in his feelings, jeongguk doesn't even realise he's knocked over one of the containers they keep by the dressers. the loud noise causes jimin, a light sleeper, to stir.

“jimin hyung? i'm so sorry, i-”

“jeongguk? what do you think you're doing? you're going to wake my taehyungie up,” jimin shoots him a sleepy death glare, one hand steadying his throbbing head, the other running his fingers through taehyung’s hair. (jeongguk has always found jimin squinting endearing. in this context… maybe not the most opportune of moments, but there’s no discrediting how adorable a fluffy kitten-like jimin is.) if jeongguk hadn't known better, he would've guessed they were married. my taehyungie? waking him up? to hell if i care about that!

“h-hyung, you can't just let a stranger into your bed! this is our house! what if he's dangerous-”

“you said it yourself! this is our house! i can do whatever the fuck i want! don't start acting like you care-” the sleeping figure preciously cuddling jimin in his sleep slowly rises, as if alerted due to the loss of his personal bolster, unable to sleep without hugging something. jeongguk's heart breaks once more when he sees the faint lipstick and gloss kiss marks staining taehyung’s face. it's the exact same shade jimin wore last night. it's the exact same shade jeongguk had purchased as a present to him last month, because he thought jimin would look pretty in it.

“jiminnie?”

“oh, petit prince, go back to sleep, mm? taehyungie, just ignore him-”

“what do you mean just ignore me?” jeongguk shouts, taehyungie? wasn't i the one you called jeonggukie? hold on, but jimin calls everyone he likes by adding an -ie at the back for cuteness- but that's not the main point. hot tears start flowing down without him even realising. petit prince- that was a variation of the one moniker that jeongguk once possessed, unrivalled by anyone else. jimin promised-

“you're my one and only overgrown puppy prince, jeonggukie.”

“hyung, you don't even know him!” jeongguk yells, he doesn't care if the neighbours complain or hear. he needs to get it out. the tears refuse to stop, and he tries his best to reword his statement, talk whatever minute rationality he might have left.  “you- get, get out! what are you doing in my room- jimin hyung, please, it's dangerous to invite random people-” random people? shut up, jeongguk! you brat, don’t make me laugh- what do you even know? what right do you have shouting at me after what you did so ruthlessly yesterday night? i slept with him, but nothing more, nothing less- sure, we did sloppily and drunkenly make out, but he was a great kisser, so shut your virgin mouth- he listened to me pouring my fucking heart out about you! nodding as i told him all the sweetest and shittiest things you ever did; so stop torturing me like that, i can't handle this push and pull, please, i'm so sick and tired...

“what do you even know?” jimin shoots back, voice as icy as daggers, “at least taehyungie here knows what i want. he doesn't take me as a fucking joke! ” jimin is quaking in anger, the boy behind him rubbing his back to soothe the onslaught of wet, fiery tears. he looks so disquieted, caught in the crossfire- but jeongguk can't bring himself to care at this point. is jimin really wearing his calvin klein underwear? the matching pair they got on their first shopping trip together? did he actually have the nerve to give taehyung his? and lend him his fucking clothes-

“don't act like you suddenly care! you invited me to prom as what? a rebound? okay, i see how it is, then!” the boy in jimin's bed, teahung, (where did you come from?) whatever, had murmured something into jimin's ears with a face full of apprehension and worry. jimin actually gives him a goddamn kiss and murmurs back that he'll call him again later. what the fuck. hyung, how could you! do you even know how much i would give just to have one kiss like that?

“that's right, get the fuck out of my house! get out and never come back again!” who cares about where he went anyway- this is about jimin. his beloved jimin, sleeping with some casual hookup? did he get drunk? or taken advantage of? or was he just in love? they seemed to be so in sync, in love-

“get out, right? fine!” jimin runs his hands through his tousled bed head, grabbing his under the bed emergency backpack, stuffing in his laptop and charger, dumping books and sweater amidst other things into his bag. why does jimin seem to be packing for a weekend sleepover or something?

“no! hyung- please!”

i'm so sorry, i didn't mean it that way, hyung, please come back, i love you, i'm sorry, don't leave me- i'm sorry, i can't tell you why, and yet i don't want to let you go either; please come back, i need you- please, you don’t understand, i, i want to be close to you, close to your heart; please don’t walk out on me, i’m begging you-

“you told me to leave, asshole, so i am!”

beg me to stay- tell me what all this is about; tell me it’s no more a dream, it’s just a nightmare, this isn’t reality; tell me you love me, tell me i mean something to you- tell me you love me, tell me i am more precious than jewels and gold; you're usually not like that, jeongguk, won't you tell me what's wrong? you used to tell me everything- your secrets, your hopes, your dreams, your fears; what's stopping you? don't you love me, at least just a little to confide in me? why, why, why?

my most beloved jeonggukie, i gave you so many chances, but you refused to open up to me. did i say or do something wrong to make you shut me out like that? i'm so confused, i’m hurt too- i don't know what to think, i'm all messed up and i can't focus because i keep thinking of you, and i don't know what to do; i’ve lost my way and i don't know what these funny feelings are, please make them go away, please...

it's too late. jimin's done slamming the door in his deplorable excuse of a broken boy. jeongguk slumps against the wooden frame of the bed (jimin’s) in resignation, head in his hands, a quivering mess. “i- i'm so sorry, jimin.” he can't possibly bring himself to tell jimin some story that is the gospel truth but sounds like complete and utter bullshit. jimin would leave for good if he did. sorry i lied hyung, i'm actually spiderman trying to save the neighbourhood and struggling to keep up with my goodfornothing alter ego, jeon jeongguk! i'm also in love with you, haha! i'm totally making this up because i wanna get together with you and love spiderman! i totally would've said i were the incredible hulk if you were into him, ha.

it's no use.

he's a complete mess, a sobbing wreck, curled into a broken ball and reprogrammed to chant the mantra of “i'm so sorry” over and over again. and with jimin walking out on him, he feels like such a monster. it's almost as if he's broken the form of an unspoken ultimatum. a complete failure, an absolute trainwreck. the quietness as dawn breaks makes him feel like he’s going crazy. no more dreams, and back to the unnerving reality that they both refuse to face.

 

he should never have fallen in love with his roommate. his name is park jimin, after all; this isn't a comic book- jimin is no gwen stacy or mary jane.

and he's jeon jeongguk. not peter parker.


after scrubbing his eyes raw, jeongguk sucks it up, goes undercover in spandex to keep track of jimin's whereabouts. it's not to be an obsessive stalker or an overly jealous lover, but even if they weren't ever destined for each other, at least he knows jimin is in safe hands. he reaches someone’s (namjoon’s, jeongguk thinks) house and barges in teary eyed, to which the taller boy immediately ushers him in, makes him a hot cup of soothing tea. jimin hugs the namjoon boy, crying even more, and jeongguk feels whatever smithereens left of his heart burst yet again, even as he hangs upside down from a tree near the exterior of namjoon’s living room window.

 

nothing makes jeongguk happier and sadder, all in one, other than park jimin.

 

the weather today is sunny and cool, the way jimin likes it. a breezy spring day, a bad start to a good day. jeongguk hovers, jumping around with his new webshooters, deftly swinging around incognito, landing on the top of street lamps like a non-challenging obstacle course.

he keeps on guard as jimin enters the public library, and along the way he helps a pregnant lady cross the road safely, fights off two bullies cornering a little kid in the back alley. he even helps a overly excited shih tzu untangle itself from her leash on the park fence. not to mention, the old man that always sits at that one bench by the fountain, reminiscing his late wife- he suffers from alzheimer's, but at least he's living in the happiest era he lived through. jeongguk always talks to him whenever he can, and the old man probably thinks he's a grandson. he helps keep crime at bay, multitasking as he ensures jimin's safety.

jimin enters the library with a heavy heart, picking an elusive seat that won't get him distracted from fidgety people and noisy students. as he takes out his earphones and pencil case, he finds out that the hoodie he packed in happens to be jeongguk's. he'd be lying to himself if he said he didn't feel like breaking down there and then once again. it just hurt. so bad. in a way he couldn't comprehend, and he's not sure if he wants to comprehend. the secret jeongguk is hiding could be as small as a dust mite or as large as the 10 storey library he's in; he doesn’t know, and jimin is scared out of his wits. but god does he know for sure that he dearly misses his busan boy, his little jeonggukie. his overgrown puppy prince. the intimate sobriquet nearly rolled off his tongue (when he tried to be affectionate to taehyung to get back at him, get a rise out of jeongguk) so effortlessly it hurt. so much. why would jeongguk forsake him like this, when he had been trying so, so hard to help, to understand? the hoodie smells exactly like jeongguk, and jimin has to bite down, hard, on his lower lip to stop himself from crying as the memories of them smiling, cuddling, joking or even eating together infiltrates his mind. it hurts, jeonggukie- come make it better, like you always do. hug me, hold me tight;

 

nothing makes jimin sadder and happier, all at once, than jeon jeongguk.


jeongguk is doing his usual overhead bird’s eye view patrol when this wicked orange light catches his eye through his peripheral vision- and he's never seen something burn as bright as this.

the library's on fire. the library the love of his life, park jimin is in, is on fire. nobody cares at his point how it broke out, or when it started, but the pandemonium and hullabaloo that has broken out is massive and jeongguk needs to rectify that. immediately.

he swings his way through the building, careful not to make his sticky webs pull down further debris, and je rescues as many people as possible with his amateur web shooting skills, zapping the falling infrastructure to the fixed pillars, carrying as many of the children (trapped under the heavy books) as he can out. it's his first ‘large scale disaster’, unlike all the other one on one combat style crimes that would pan out in a dramatic fifteen minute imax scene. he has absolutely no time to waste for this unfortunate occasion.

the cries of help and screaming reverberates and bounces off the fanned flames of dread and fear, sobs and wailing in every possible pitch coming from every corner resounding in jeongguk's ear. tying down more shelves to the walls with his webs for damage control, the firefighters slowly make their way upon urgent calls to engulf the flames in water. he helps as many people as he can to escape the inferno, children and adults alike, the elderly and the injured;

 

but none of them are jimin.

he leaps back in, in spite of all the shouts at the amazing spiderman to stay put- for the chances of him coming back out is slim; he doesn't care. spiderman may not be immortal, or a god, or bulletproof- but even as jeon jeongguk, he has a mind of iron and steel to go back into the catalytic hazard of flames licking up every single page. because he doesn't see jimin safely outside and he's a million percent sure he didn't come out beforehand.

it does take a copious amount of time (this is an emergency, he needs to make haste) to locate jimin, who has a knack in hiding of all the quiet places to avoid crowds and noise. and in that moment, he vaguely thinks back to the moment he coined his timorous besottment and ardent adoration, a love maze. running around in circles. ringwanderung. a wry smile creeps up his face, as he fans away the smoke to maintain visibility, wandering in the wreckage. a semi-burning structure falls two feet away from him as his mind drifts, nimble on his feet but reflex a nanosecond too late; it results in a cut in the side of his mask. he can smell the smoke, even as the firefighters try to gallantly put it out. he’s no longer infallible, to a certain extent.

this is bad.

he scours through the labyrinth of debris, breathing more laboured, smoke infiltrating his vision and lungs, but he trudges on. jimin, where are you? jimin, i love you.

after a turn, stepping carefully past sizzling papers, he finds jimin in the small convergence of two fallen bookshelves, collapsed to form a singed tent-like structure. there's a small hole that jimin's trapped in, desperately worming his way out, close to unscathed save for some gashes from raining books. it's hard to breathe, trapped and surrounded by rubble, but jimin is fighting hard to crawl out, weak pleas of help, struggling to speak with the smoke clouding their vision.

“oh god,” jeongguk breathes, dashing over at once, using all his might to push away the crumbling constructions, gritting his teeth as he feels the sweat trickle down his skin, hands shaking with every push. a huge object almost falls on them as the water extinguishes the flames, but jeongguk uses his hand and the rest of his body as a himan shield to shelter jimin. it hits hard and hurts bad, but spiderman needs to do what he needs to do.

jimin's still coughing as he gets hoisted out, and jeongguk didn't quite notice he was donning his sweater until he sneaked them out, using the last of his sticky webs to whisk them away to a deserted alley. he's close to collapsing, the smoke having penetrated through the crack in his mask. but he needs jimin to wake up before he can sleep. one last time. please jimin-

“spiderman?” jimin chokes, jeongguk handing him a bottle of water he had glued onto the wall beforehand. “y-you saved me, again-” third time’s the charm. even in his pain, jimin manages to smile. it's a beautiful sight to behold.

as jeongguk rips off the red spandex covering his face, he winces, realising that there's been a cut on his face where a signboard had fallen on him. ouch. now that jimin is straightening up, injuries not major enough to hinder his basic movements other than scrapes and minor burns, the two bookshelves actually protecting and trapping him at the same time. jeongguk ruefully smiles, gradually giving in to the lullaby in his head- his job is done. everybody is saved. jimin is safe. his eyelids are fighting to open, head spinning, jimin becoming a blurring image of colour.

jimin almost has a cardiac arrest, eyes widening through coughs and rapid heart palpitations, positions exchanged as he feeds jeongguk the water, cradling his weak body in his arms. jeongguk only takes a tiny sip. “jeongguk, your cheek is bleeding-”

“it's alright, hyung. you're safe now.” his words are slurred, body heating up as he frowns in exhaustion, smile never leaving his lips. “y-you're safe.”

“no, no- please, ” jimin cries, the tears in his eyes falling onto jeongguk's face as he breathes shallowly. “why didn't you tell me, i shouted at you, i left you, i cursed you-” why did you still save me, i was the absolute worst to you, i walked out on you this morning, i-

“it's okay,” jeongguk whispers, lifting a shaky hand to touch jimin's cheek. jimin grasps it and leans into jeongguk's grimy palm, wet from tears, still trembling in shock. jeongguk is spiderman. he saved me. and now, now he's going to leave-

“do you remember when you promised me i would never walk alone? you said you would be there for me! you promised! do you hear me? jeongguk, answer me!” jimin’s crying out whatever that comes to his mind, fervent, aching, desirous; please, please, don’t go- jeongguk seems to be nodding along, as if inebriated, mind hazy, world crashing in slow motion.

jeongguk feels the apologies and reassurances lying on the tip of his tongue, but he can’t find the strength to get them out to jimin; the truths that could not be told, sincerity that couldn't be delivered at this point. i’m so sorry- but even if i die, it’s gotta be you, hyung.

“ji-jimin hyung-” jeongguk rasps, holding his hands tighter, “i'm not, not feeling too well-” the hairs on his hand are standing, and the cold sweat matted to his hair. his body is hypersensitive, and jeongguk can feel the tingling of his nerves, the blood flowing slowly through his veins, the wind blowing at his cuts through the rips of his spandex suit. he needs to cool down, attempting to pull off some of the spandex. he vaguely motions towards the dumpster, where his spare set of clothes and essentials are hidden in a knapsack. “i don't- i’on wanna go,” jeongguk slurs, as jimin cradles him tightly, telling him to stay close, that he's going to be alright. jeongguk weakly tries to reach for jimin's face once more, and jimin encases his hands over his bloodied fingers, bringing it up to his own cheek.

 

you’re the best of me. the best i ever had.

 

“stay with me, you- you're going to be okay, gukkie-” the regret, guilt, surprise, self-reproachment, sin, condemnation; it pours down on him, like the rain that’s slowly trickling from the skies as a drizzle, about to pelt down as a storm soon. he needs to get jeongguk to the hospital.

 

i love you, jimin. forgive me.

 

“i, i'm so sorry, hyung- i love, i love-” jeongguk goes limp, a figure of laboured breathing in jimin's arms. “no, please- you're not leaving me like this, you idiot, you can't just go!” jimin cries, lips quivering as he debates his next course of action, hot tears down his face juxtaposed with the cold of the rain pitter pattering against his back, soaking into his hair. carefully peeling off the red and blue suit in his frenzy and jamming it into his bag, he takes out a fresh change of clothes to fit jeongguk into. jeongguk probably wouldn’t want his identity being exposed, given the fact that he hadn’t confided in a single soul, not even jimin.

it must’ve been the inhaling of too much smoke, and the gruelling, daunting task of saving too many people; it must have taken a toll on his body- too taxing and an insurmountable accumulation of fatigue.

making sure the spandex is tucked away safely in his bag, jimin lifts jeongguk onto his shoulders, before running to the nearest hospital. he thanks the heavens for the facility being only a stone’s throw away, and as if the sky sympathised with him, a pathetic fallacy, it started to pour. the sky was crying along with him. but jimin kept running. his sneakers get muddy, clothes get damp, and jeongguk feels heavier by the minute- he feels the blood, sweat and tears of both of them mingle together, a weight that pulls him down, puddles that almost make him trip, but he runs as fast as he can anyway.

many of the injured victims of the fire that were evacuated earlier had already been transported there, and jimin pants in relief when jeongguk gets taken away on a stretcher, oxygen mask strapped on and medical attention given to him immediately. his stomach knots, looking at jeongguk's pained, lifeless form being wheeled away. it doesn't help that the televisions in the background are softly broadcasting the reports of the live telecast concerning this afternoon’s fire. apparently police have arrested a suspect for the alleged arsonist behind, and spiderman once again gets lauded for his bravery and valorous deeds. unbeknownst to him, a tear falls as jimin thinks back to jeongguk in his arms, filling up the paperwork in the emergency department of the hospital. nobody questions him about that.

he himself gets his minor cuts and bruises patched up as well, listlessly pacing the cramped hallway, full of patients falling prey to the fire, along with family and kin rushing down to get firsthand information on their loved one’s condition and healing processes. when the nurse calls for whoever’s waiting for jeon jeongguk, jimin bolts up in the plastic chair, hastily throwing away a thoroughly bitten paper cup.

“relation to the patient?” the nurse asks kindly, typing away at the computerised system, adding jimin's name and phone number.

“um, i'm his boyfriend.” jimin mumbles, cheeks turning ruddy, and she nods knowingly with a soft smile of condolence. “walk straight down, then turn right- ward 58.”

one of the staff on duty gives him a brief rundown, telling him that for now jeongguk's condition has stabilised, but it has been fluctuating quite a bit, erratic heartbeat here and there. the doctor will make a more comprehensive and in-depth diagnosis when the test results have come out. “he seems to have sprained his wrist, we might need to take an x-ray,” jimin nods sullenly, blanking out as soon as she had ended the part with jeongguk being perfectly fine. alive and breathing. he's been holding jeongguk's hand since he ran over.

“and one more thing, sir?” the staff says, “the tests we ran had quite a number of unclear and abnormal levels in biochemical analysis of the patient’s blood- but we hope that nothing is major and there has not been any tampering or contamination; so one of the hospital staff may come to draw another sample of his blood later on, to provide a more punctilious understanding so as to ensure we provide him the most accurate and precise treatment. will that be alright, sir?” jimin nods, in a daze, mind reeling back to the comic books as the staff nurse bows, dismissed. jeongguk now has radioactive blood. of course it would show as a haywire test result. his blood isn't normal anymore.


jimin forces himself to vigilantly keep watch, in case jeongguk were to wake up, and he could speak to him again immediately, instead of the nurses having the first word in about how severe his condition is whatsoever.

the more he looks at the injuries sustained by jeongguk in blocking him from that boulder-like object, the more he feels like crying; it's like he's calling out to jeongguk to come back, but he's operating at 52 hertz, a frequency that no other whale can hear. he feels like an isolated planet, and the one and only astronomer who was ever interested in the ostracised dwarf planet pluto had departed. for good. he feels so alone and yet he's together, sitting side by side with jeongguk.

listening to jeongguk's soft breathing makes him feel calmer, and slowly he succumbs, wishing on a star for jeongguk to wake up. his hand never left jeongguk's, even for a second, after a nurse came back to collect the vacutainer tube of blood.


jeongguk didn't know where to begin- was it the stigma? or the lies that spun out of control afterwards? the moment he's awake he’s met with his own gaunt reflection, and his first love; his papa and mama up in heaven would be proud of him. he saved many lives today.

the first thing he sees when he wakes up is jimin sleeping beside him, and he groggily checks out his vitals, still hooked to the respirator. he’d been wheeled to occupy a room instead, due to the doctor's advice on his perplexing condition. for now, he's doing fine, and oh, jimin's holding his hand. it brings a smile to his face, as he slowly shifts, careful not to wake jimin and of his evident casts and injuries. but his roommate (what a bad context) rouses, a light sleeper, rubs his eyes cutely as he stands up in confusion to stretch. poor darling, his eyes are all puffy and red, eye bags purple. jeongguk's so happy to be alive, and he feels terrible that jimin probably stayed up all night crying. the blinds are drawn for privacy.

“jeongguk- you, you're awake-!” jimin pinches himself, jolts fully awake when jeongguk sits upright, sending him a little wave of his fingers. it still stings at the places needing some stitches, sore spots from having shelves fall on him.

“hey,”

“hey yourself,” jimin whispers loudly, relief and gratitude and solace and happiness seeping into his voice, diving in for a bone crushing hug, but still careful and gentle in his every move. he always handles jeongguk with care, even after all the shit he's pulled. (be it out of his ass, or off with the mask.) he's having the brightest smile jeongguk's seen in a while, and he's sniffing to hold back his tears.

“why didn't you let me know-” he exasperatedly asks after the eternity of a hug, “i mean, it's not like my impression you would change, jeongguk-”

“hyung,” jeongguk murmurs, bandaged fingers brushing jimin's tousled bangs, “i missed you.”

“you dummy,” jimin says, but there's no malice behind it anymore. he closes his eyes, allows himself to sink into jeongguk's touch, inching closer from the side of the hospital bed until his head rests on jeongguk's shoulder, it feels like honey mixed with warm milk. jeongguk's hand never leaves his face. “it's only been less than a day since you last saw me… i'm sorry for not-”

“don't be.”

“you should get some more rest,” jimin mumbles, getting his wallet and pouring a glass of water for jeongguk. the clock on the table says it a quarter past one. “i'll go buy you some food, okay?”

“how long was i out for?”

“uh, about 11 hours? i almost thought you were going to leave me…”

with all the fatigue his body has incurred, still adapting to his new undercover skills, jeongguk falls back into a deep slumber easily. he does feel jimin kiss his temple before shutting the door, though.


he rises with the sun, and there jimin is, peacefully sleeping by his side, slouched over from the chair situated next to his bed. there's a new duffel bag next to him. thank goodness there's no school, or jimin would be missing out on all his classes- jeongguk would feel awful. jimin's one of the best examples of a nerd who loves art (yes, art is the best), pe (sorry art, phys ed is actually the best), mathematics (yuck!) and chemistry (except that now jimin can have chem classes even when he's with jeongguk, if you know what he means).

there's a thermos filled with porridge to keep warm, and some soft fruit. “i was packing some clothes for you in case you didn't like the hospital pajamas, and i found these.”

it's two clay figurines, a calico cat and a puppy. they were jimin and jeongguk's first homemade decor at a pottery class to welcome them into their new home. jimin remembers throwing into the trash can after a month of staring it the cat’s imperfections, haunting the perfectionist whenever he passed by the dining table. who knew jeongguk had kept them.

“i like it,” jeongguk flushes, “i thought it looked like you, somehow.”

“do you really?” jimin mumbles back fondly, hands around jeongguk's hands holding the figurines. the wistful smiles come back. “couldn't put it somewhere you would find, so i made them guard my 24 white shirts,”

"look," jimin says with nostalgia, laced with sadness, "the puppy has a cut on his left cheek, just like you," he tenderly whispers apologies as he traces the line, now a scab, the smoothness on jeongguk's cheek marred with a permanent scar. "i'm sorry-"

"i did it to protect you, nothing to be sorry about."

they're both sentimental beings, and they spend the rest if the day recollecting their fond memories, in between bites of fruit and jimin feeding jeongguk porridge.


“by the way hyung, i saw the first report- they found radioactive and metallic traces in my blood! how dis you evade the next one-”

“i'm sorry, gukkie,” jimin pouts, “i flirted with one of the nurses… and when she wasn't looking, i swiped the tube an switched it with my own blood sample. we're both A type blood so i figured they wouldn't know.”


jeongguk gets discharged after the tests say he's all clear from weird traces of contamination and tainted blood. he just needs ample rest and to take some of the pills they're prescribing to ensure maximum recouperation.

“so, you wanna talk? about this whole fake dating scandal but you were undercover as spidey?”

“hyung… you know how we always thought the comics were fiction, but if it's true that spiderman- spiderman, hyung!- exists, then! then what if people like iron man, the hulk, black widow- what if they all exist, and that means thanos hyung will come and-”

“thanos hyung.” jimin repeats, squinting and raising his brows, fully exasperated. he even puts down his half eaten apple to emphasise his displeasure. “did you just call him thanos hyung nim-

“y-yoongi hyung said it was polite-”

“yoongi hyung! excuse me?! to think i'm your roommate and your full time caretaker now and you drop the honorifics for me? why, you brat, what is this flippancy-”

ah, jeongguk's missed jimin's petty bickering.

“that's just because i’ve never wanted you to be just a hyung!”

jimin goes silent.

“i'm sorry, i didn't mean to shout at you, i was semi joking, i didn't expect you to take it so seriously, i'm sorry. i really do, um. appreciate you-” i love you, jeongguk. i really do.

“i- i mean, um,” oh shit. if thanos can read my mind or something he will know i like jimin- what if he attacks jimin when i am in danger, he'll crush jimin like a dead leaf-

“guk? jeongguk?” when jeongguk snaps out of his trance, jimin's seated y his side, tenderly holding his head in his tiny hands. “jeongguk, please, listen to me, sweetheart-”

“i am, i- i'm listening,” his voice goes dry as so many negative outcomes flashed into his mind, overthinking and a result of fatigue, overexertion. “i need you, okay? and i would never leave you, hyung or not. and i won't ever let go. i'm not scared to die, but- i just don't want you to. i still have many things i wanna say, so you better stay alive for me. i… ugh, i guess i love you.”

their foreheads knock against each other, and jimin vaguely smells like lemon and peppermint, and a little of those hand sanitizers all over the hospital. “i love you, so don't leave me just yet, yeah? we may not be young forever, but if forever is another two years or something, so be it. as long as i have you. ” the happy tears stream down like collective waterfalls, both of them making promises as they hold hands tightly.

“i promis not to steal your underwear and charger, hyung, i promise to be kinder-”

“i'll watch civil war with you again, and every single iron man movie five times with you so hurry get well again and come back home to me.”

“hyung, you must promise to watch avengers 4 with me twice before you're allowed to go with your friends-”

“you owed me so much ice cream when you were gone-”

“hey! i was saving the neighbourhood!”

kissing jeongguk feels like the tranquil waters of busan, the bursts of sunshine, the laughter of children, the glow of neon lights. it's electric, exhilarating, enchanting. kissing jimin feels like the popping of a bottle of champagne, a rainbow after the storm, fresh dew rolling off the petals of flowers and their waxen leaves. it's mesmerising, magnetic, maddening.


“do you wanna move to a more convenient place? or um, should i leave the windows open? i'm worried… jeonggukie, are you gonna keep sleeping upside down now? also, do i-”

“nah, i'll use the door, okay? it's really fine, i'm a great spiderman, okay! have some faith in me.” jeongguk finds it so freaking adorable that jimin still worries about him, even after a year of his fully fledged transition, finds it endearing and so sweet of him to stay up and give him encouragement kisses even when it's 4 o'clock in the morning. he always stays up to make sure jeongguk comes home safe, fusses over his disheveled looks, helps him develop his spandex suit further (he actually has a test trial coolant gel spray like iron man now, courtesy of the love of his life) and tends to always makes him sweet drinks if he's drowsy before saving people. jimin makes excellent hot chocolate and creamy lattes.

sometimes, when jeongguk has difficulty falling asleep, insomnia kicking in, too much adrenaline pumping in his veins, he'll practice and hang upside down, watching jimin sleep. he likes counting jimin's eyelashes, trace the freckles on his rosy cheeks. this is usually the time he gets back at jimin, for having at least three hundred selfies of his cute face and jeongguk's dorky mouth wide open sleeping posture.

if jimin rolls over and accidentally graze past his face, he'll groggily crack an eye open, sleepily scold him before coaxing him to come and snuggle in his bed. surprisingly, jeongguk falls asleep, somehow. jimin isn't just jimin. jimin is his portable home.

 

jeon jeongguk has always known he loved park jimin, pre and post bite.

park jimin has come to realise that he's always loved jeon jeongguk, not spiderman.