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In the Dark Places, a Blue Flower

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It’s 6:15pm on a Thursday in the beginning of June and senior Park Jimin is still in the school’s dance studio, fogging up the mirror as he twirls for the millionth time. He’s been practicing for the past three hours--the first two hours with some other members of the school’s dance club and this last one by himself.

“You’re sure you don’t want to go out with us for dinner? We’re going to Port’s--they have good salads for your diet,” the club’s vice president asked him, just his head poking through the door frame. It had been a brutal two hours of dance practice and everyone was more than ready to hit the road.

Everyone except Jimin. “Yeah, you guys go on. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, smiling brightly despite the beads of sweat that were starting to form and drip from his temples.

“Alright, see you,” the vice-president said with a wave. He vanished from the door frame for a moment, but he came back almost at once, his voice proceeding the reappearance. “Wait, you’re coming to the party tomorrow, right?”

“Absolutely,” Jimin said at once, cracking another smile. He would never miss a party. He couldn’t get away with it even if he wanted to--he was too popular.

“Do you know what time it starts?” the vice-president asked. He was only a sophomore and he hadn’t been to too many school parties yet.

“Uhhhh,” Jimin rubbed a hand back through his hair and, realizing how sweaty he actually was for the first time, he made a little face and dabbed the sweat from his forehead and temples with the back of his hand as he thought. “Maybe ten o’clock?” he offered after a moment. “I don’t know; I usually show up to these things around 10. They can go until 2, maybe?”

“Cool, thanks hyung!” the younger boy said. He tapped the door frame with his fist one time in a gesture of thanks before heading out for real.

Left alone in front of the mirror, Jimin had only taken a moment’s rest to sip some water before getting back into it. Dancing was his one true love--he never felt more at peace or more right in the world than when he was deep in a dance routine--fully engaged in that flow state. He enjoyed being president of the school’s dance club. It was a great opportunity to pass on some of his knowledge to the younger students, it boosted his community service hours, and it gave him a chance to show off a little bit, too, which was a guilty pleasure of his. But most importantly, being in charge of the club gave him free access to a dance studio. He had been given the key to the room after being elected president last year and ever since then he spent every free period and a few hours after club meetings alone in his happy place. It was his personal paradise.

Sure, he was popular--who wouldn’t like the friendly, engaging, soft-spoken dance god among them? At first, he might rub people the wrong way by being too lovely or too talented. Some people could get jealous. But after a few moments with him, most people would soften at the genuine smile of his eyes or the playful curve of his lips.

If he had one flaw other than the propensity to overwork his own body, it was that he was a terrible flirt. He could flirt with anyone on the face of the earth--be it a guy or a girl--and come across as sincerely interested in them. Most everyone in the upper grades had come to the consensus that he was bisexual, but that hadn’t lessened his overall appeal to the school body one bit. In fact, it probably added to his popularity because no one felt completely out of reach when it came to the charming attention of Park Jimin.

And yet, no one had managed to capture his heart thus far. His romantic reputation far exceeded the reality of his encounters. Most of his experiences began with some flirtation and ended with a sexy dance and a make-out session at a school party. He tended to go home alone and wake up early to get back to the dance studio before class began again the next day.

Dah--Ding!

At the noise, Jimin pauses mid-twirl and glances back at his book-bag, lying discarded against the back wall. He had preset that specific text tone for Kim Taehyung--the newest object of his flirtation and perhaps his most serious crush all year. The boy is completely unique and quirky--totally different from everyone else that Jimin talks to and he finds the oddity extremely charming.

I’m pretty much done for today anyway. It’s gotta be almost 7 by now, Jimin thinks. He always has to rationalize with himself in order to stop dancing. He’s hungry and he’s sweaty, his muscles are tired and he’ll be sore tomorrow, but in the end it’s the desire to read Taheyung’s text that pulls Jimin away from his place at the dance mirror. He crosses the room in half a dozen steps and wearily droops into a squat in front of his bag. Reaching inside, Jimin feels around for his phone. He finds it all the way at the bottom and by the time he pulls it out and unlocks the screen, his stomach is audibly rumbling. A salad may not cut it today.

The text reads: “Wanna have dinner? I’m starving but I was waiting to hear from you ;P “

Jimin smirks at the screen. He’s hungry too and he’d love to eat with the other boy, but he texts back, “Can’t. I’m with some people right now, don’t know when I’ll be free. Ugh. See you at Yoongi-hyung’s party tomorrow?”

He sighs inwardly and gets up to leave, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. He might be interested in Taehyung, but he can’t jump into anything right now. What’s most important to Jimin at the moment is practicing his solo audition routine for the Dance department try-outs at the Performing Arts College next month. He can’t let anything get in the way of that. And getting involved with Taehyung could easily get in the way if Jimin allowed it to. For the first time in a long time, Taehyung is someone that he can seriously see himself being with--not just a fun fling.

Bing!

Dah--Ding!

Stepping outside of the studio at last, Jimin locks the door behind him and pockets the key before checking his phone again. There are two text messages and half a dozen other notifications from various social media platforms. The text from Taehyung draws his attention first, of course.

“Obviously. If you’re there, I’m there,” it reads.

A happy little flutter sweeps through Jimin’s insides and he smiles to himself. He’s so enamored with Taehyung’s simple words that he almost forgets to read the other message. It’s from an unknown number, which isn’t unusual considering Jimin’s level of popularity. New people are trying to get in contact with him all the time.

“I’ll see you at the party tomorrow,” it says, just like all of the other messages he’s been receiving all day long. But the end makes Jimin take pause. "Wear the black shirt that you wore last Tuesday. You look good in that.“

What the hell? His brow furrows in some confusion but he simply deletes the message and exits the school building. Must be some girl, he thinks flippantly, tucking his phone back into his pants pocket and heading home at last.


 

In an apartment on the east side of the city, junior Jeon Jungkook is sitting alone on a balcony, watching the sun set. It’s a run down balcony, not the type that you might find in the movies. The metal railing was once coated in a thick layer of white paint that has since chipped away or rusted in most places, leaving a dirty, molted looking appearance behind. The balcony’s floor is nothing more than a cement block--a long, thin crack running along the left side of it. But it’s stable enough to hold, so he sits there most nights and watches the sun slowly sink beneath the cityscape.

He’s tall for his age. His long, thick legs seem to splay across the entire balcony as he slouches low into the porch chair. He is a good looking young man, too. But despite his promising physical qualities, Jungkook has never been able to fit in at school. He’s quiet--mostly--but when he does speak up he tends to come across as insincere, or worse yet: aggressive. He’s terrible at expressing his emotions, so he has always found it difficult to make friends or join new circles.

And the problems didn’t end at school, either. Jungkook’s home life had never been peaceful--mostly because his father hit like a truck and his mother’s only shield was a rigid grip on the Bible.

“You don’t seriously think you’re leaving the house like that, do you?” his father snapped one day a few years back when Jungkook was on his way out the door, heading to school. The boy was wearing a black hoodie and tight black jeans. “Do you want people to think that your parents raised a suicidal fucking pansy!?” A slap on the side of the head and Jungkook was back in his room changing into quote-un-quote normal teenage boy clothes.

It was always like that--harsh words, harsh rules, and harsh punishments--until one day Jungkook decided that enough was enough. He spent his mid-teen years stewing in a dark, sweaty gym at the edge of town, training his body tirelessly with a plethora of gruff, manly men until he was finally too big to get hit by his father anymore. And as soon as he could work out the details, Jungkook moved out. He thought things would get better once he was away from his family, but that wasn’t the case. Even now, a year later, he hasn’t made any new friends and his family rarely reaches out to him. They’d certainly never come to him crying out apologies like he had fantasized about in the past.

And so, alone and darker than ever, Jungkook watches the sun set every day after he finishes his school work. He’s seventeen and a small part of him knows that he should be making friends at school and going out on dates to coffee shops in the cute parts of town, not lurking around in the crappy neighborhoods by himself. He likes working out, though. He likes being tough. He’s even gotten used to being an outsider--as hard as it is sometimes.

But the main problem that gets in the way of Jungkook being able to live the life his parents want for him is that he doesn’t like girls.

Not that he’s gay…per say. Although the thought had crossed his mind. But being a pansy is the last thing that Jungkook wants to be, so--no--he wouldn’t say that he’s gay.

He just doesn’t like anyone.

And he especially doesn’t like Park Jimin.

If anyone was ever a pansy, it was him. The guy had pink hair for god’s sake! He was president of the dance club, he flirted with anything that moved, and he was absolutely shameless about it.

When Jungkook was a freshman, Jimin was a sophomore and he was already popular with the upperclassman. At first, Jungkook had been intrigued by him. How could someone so atypical, so remarkable in every way, possibly fit in? Jungkook himself had been constantly berated by his parents for being even one degree off of the norm. And yet, here was this flamboyant, pink haired, pixie boy smiling at everyone he met and being sought after from all sides like it was nobody’s business.

Once, in that first year when they were in the same school, Jungkook had tried to reach out to Jimin. He had had a particularly bad week at home and he just wanted someone to talk to. As stupid as it was in retrospect, everyone else seemed to have an easy time talking to Park Jimin so Jungkook thought that it was worth a shot. He followed the older boy to the dance studio one day after school and found himself in the midst of ten or so other dancers. None of them were as bubbly or charming as Jimin, but they were all a little much for Jungkook’s taste. His plain clothes and straight face stuck out like a sore thumb and before he could say even one word to club’s president, everyone was staring at him.

“Uhhh,” Jimin had said, sensing the odd vibes in the room before he noticed the source of them. He looked around at the members of his club before finally seeming to notice Jungkook. “Hi,” he said simply, eyeing Jungkook like a fish out of water. “Are you here for dance club?”

The way he had said it--something in the tone of his voice or maybe the way that he looked at him--rubbed Jungkook the wrong way.

“Hell no,” the younger boy shot back, making a face. Dance club was the last thing he would ever join. His father had always made it abundantly clear that dancing was for women and faggots.

Jungkook remembers how Jimin’s puffy lips parted in surprise at his tone, how his eyes widened ever so slightly as he inhaled, how he said so softly, “Oh. Well, then…what can I--”

Jungkook remembers how his pulse started rising too fast and how he felt his own face getting red. He remembers that jolt of anger in his gut. “Forget it!” he huffed, turning away and leaving without another word.

That was the last time he tried to talk to Jimin face-to-face. But as infuriating as this was, Jungkook couldn’t get the older boy out of his head. Even now, almost two years later, he still finds his mind’s eye picturing the dancer’s face when he sits out here alone with the sunset.

And he hates it.

Sometimes, when he gets extremely lonely or down, he’ll shoot Jimin a quick text. The older boy’s number was easy to get considering his popularity. It started out with little things, like, “Hey,” or “What’s up.” Random texts. Jungkook never bothers to include his name--Jimin probably wouldn’t recognize the name anyway. But still, the fact that Jimin almost never answers him pisses Jungkook off.

Once and only once did Jimin actually text back. Three months ago, Jungkook was horny and lonely and completely miserable. The fact that Jimin’s was the only face he could see when he closed his eyes and tried to jerk off made him feel nothing but disgust for himself. And yet, the hormones seemed to win out. Overcome with arousal, Jungkook texted Jimin without thinking:

“I wish you were here right now. I want to see your pretty face.”

As soon as he hit send, Jungkook was consumed with self-hatred. He scowled at the shameful words he had typed and threw his phone across the room, burring his head in a pillow. What the fuck is wrong with you? he scolded himself. You're sick!

Shockingly, the phone didn’t break and less than a minute later Jungkook heard a ping!

As if he heard a ghost, Jungkook sat up straight in bed and dared a glance at the discarded cellphone. It hadn’t been his imagination after all. Jimin actually replied to his message! He could have fainted. He imagined the disgust Jimin must have felt at receiving a text like that. His cheeks burned with embarrassment even though he was all alone in the room. After about five minutes or so, Jungkook finally found the courage to see what it said. He was trembling as he crossed the room to retrieve his phone, certain that he was about to get cussed out via SMS for being a perv.

Instead, he saw a selfie from Jimin staring back at him.

Jungkook’s jaw dropped. The older boy was in a dim setting--perhaps his bedroom or a dimly light restaurant--gazing intently into the camera, his eyes half-lidded in a lusty stare and his perfect lips parted just a hair.

Jungkook couldn’t help it. He shut off his brain and stuck his hand down the front of his pants.

But as soon as his orgasm subsided, the selfie on the screen became repulsive. What a fucking slut, he thought in disbelief, scowling at Jimin’s sexy, unmoving face staring back at him. He texted that without even knowing who it was going to! All at once, Jungkook felt filthy, like he had been led on by the biggest playboy on the planet and was left sticky and alone.

Ever since then, when Jungkook sees Jimin in the hallways at school, he feels sick. He feels wronged by this bubbly little pansy who has everything. He feels angry that Jimin smiles at everyone except him. How many other people are stewing in their own juices, enamored with such a slutty little minx as Park Jimin? It's unfair.

But even now, sitting on his balcony like always, Jungkook still can’t help but wish that things were different. He still sees Jimin’s face when he closes his eyes. He still has that selfie on his phone. And tomorrow, he’s going to see Jimin for real at Yoongi’s party. Jungkook is definitely not the type to attend big social gatherings. He’s never been to a high school party before, but tomorrow will be the perfect opportunity, he thinks. Tomorrow, he’s finally going to act.

Tomorrow, Jimin finally gets what’s coming to him.