but the real world is different from what’s promised.
i am writing to inform you of the prosperity of your city eadile. it's surpassed all expectation. the city’s impressive accomplishment has provoked me to write a proposal for you. as emperor i would like you to design a utopian city for me. many great architects have failed me in the past, but i have faith in your abilities.
“this is quite the request.” namjoon mutters after reading the emperor’s letter.
“what's the proper definition of a utopia anyway?”
yoongi spins the ring on his middle finger around. “a city built with ideals of perfection.”
“is that possible to achieve?”
"in all honesty," yoongi lets out a breath. “i don’t think so.”
(“it’ll be like our city again. imagine it hyung.”
“are you really ready to go back?”
“it won’t be going back. it’ll be going forward.”
“how could rebuilding a dead city be going forward?”
“but what if it never died.”
“our city died a long time ago.”
“but what if it never died for me.”)
“i was given two months to develop a layout for the city, but i have no idea where to begin. i resigned from my position two years ago, but the emperor wants me to build this one last thing for him.”
“hence why you invited me i assume.” namjoon leans back in his chair across from yoongi.
“you’re the only other architect i’m close with.”
“start with defining your own utopia.” namjoon suggests.
yoongi invited him to his old apartment in the capital to discuss his plans, but now that namjoon’s here yoongi finds it difficult to concentrate.
a utopia is a place where everything's perfect, ideal, beautiful.
yoongi would wonder why he struggles with defining his own utopia, but he already knows the answer.
namjoon mentions something about values and happiness. when namjoon talks yoongi can’t help but convince himself that what the other man’s saying is truthful.
he’s desperate to meet the deadline in time, and so yoongi finds himself revisiting old memories.
yoongi wonders if he’s happy. he wonders if he will be happy.
he begins to wonder if there was a time he ever was. the now lonely fragments inside him protest. scream. cry. beg. suffocate.
(at 23 years old yoongi builds his first city. it isn’t a commission but rather a personal interest.
the idea starts with a song about opened curtains and hands being held in the light of an early morning. it’s a song he doesn’t expect to stick in his head after the first time he hears it on the radio, yet something about the gentle back and forth of piano notes begins to occupy his every thought.
“you’re humming it again hyung.”
building his first city isn’t something yoongi does with the intent of actually building a city.
he can’t help that the humming turns into sketching turns into concrete buildings and sunlit cathedrals.
his first city is a city of sunrises that paint white arches between every rooftop a canvas of orange and yellow.
the cobblestones are well worn from feet dragging as people marvel at the sky. the windows point east so every room in every house has a view of the sun’s ascent in the sky.
he names it talithyia, and the inhabitants there live to worship the sun.
every first of the month the people gather at the top of the highest building where the roof is scattered with sunflowers and marble fish ponds. beneath archways and glass figurines of veins and fingernails they look to the sun which paints them brilliant shades of yellow, gold, and bronze.
“are they happy?”
“talithyia wasn’t built to be happy.”
“but hyung look at how they’re holding hands. look at their smiles. look at their eyes. can’t you hear singing? it may not have been built to be happy but they found happiness anyway.”
yoongi softly smiles at the sight in front of him. “perhaps they did.”)
namjoon reviews pictures from yoongi’s portfolio of the sun city.
“although it’s a lot to ask for, the emperor chose you to build a utopia for a reason. you’re really fucking talented. talithyia was an impressive piece of art for a first city.”
some people consider building cites an art. yoongi thinks it less an art and more a lifeline. he did it to keep the holes out of his roof and the fruit on his dining room table.
once he read that art was meant to heal, but his cities never go beyond supplying silk for his closet and water for his well.
however, he supposes there’s one exception. talithyia. that first city so long ago.
the first time yoongi built a city it was an accident. for that reason it’s the only city he considers art.
(“hyung, the marketplace can be put in the east so the sun doesn’t shine down on it.”
“it won’t be the same.”
“i wouldn’t want it to be.”)
building a utopian city is something yoongi’s never considered. what’s the point of trying to make something perfect when the rest of the world only falls short? why build a perfect city when hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis will only wipe them out. you cannot build something perfect in a place that’s inherently imperfect.
“what’s the first thing you see when you try to imagine a utopia?” namjoon prompts him.
yoongi tries to envision it. he tries to picture his ideal city in the safe confines of his mind.
but as the minutes pass, envisioning becomes too close to remembering.
yoongi can still hear that voice echoing in every corner of his life.
(in his mid 20’s yoongi goes through a phase of watching rain fall. he watches it drizzle down old sidewalks, windows, cold skin.
he’s told he’s just in the phase of dragging himself through every waterside city on earth. apparently all architects go through something similar.
the emperor at the time recognizes yoongi’s frequencies along the ocean and asks him to build a city of water. at this point yoongi's a well established architect, and so he agrees because it’s not everyday the emperor asks for a city from someone.
for inspiration yoongi observes how water is trapped in a never ending downward cycle of streams, waterfalls, waves.
he decides to name the city vellin.
yoongi builds vellin upside down.
with carefully designed aqueducts, water's carried upward to the roots of the city where it hangs off of a mountainside cliff.
from the cliff, skyscrapers dangle and bridges of vine loop themselves around the buildings.
beneath the cliff is a lake. the people of vellin believe the lake is the sky.
holy scriptures of the city describe how the sky in the rest of the world has to give up its water so that the people of earth can live. the sky in the rest of the world has to cry to keep earth’s people alive.
the holy scriptures explain how vellin is a city of the grateful. it is a city where the water's returned to the sky.
the people celebrate rain because rain symbolizes giving back.
the water flows upward in the upside down city.
the people of vellin do not know that the water actually flows downward like it does everywhere else. they do not know that it is them who live in the wrong direction. they do not know that their sky is indeed a lake. they do not know that the real sky continues to weep for them.
“why would you lie to them?”
“what would they gain from the truth?”)
namjoon watches yoongi in front of him. he watches yoongi mindlessly sketch lines on a piece of paper as he concentrates.
he watches yoongi’s brow knit as he struggles.
yoongi’s talented. namjoon knows this. but what namjoon doesn’t know is that yoongi can’t draw the line between seeing and remembering.
he thinks he’s envisioning something new, but what he’s really seeing is memories.
yoongi remembers wide eyes. he remembers wet hair sticking to foreheads. he remembers shoes soaked with rain water and noses running from the cold. he remembers blue lips dragging across his shoulder and arms wrapped tightly around him.
yoongi wants to forget.
(“the carpet in that room was maroon.”
“why did you change the color?”
“i thought you said you didn’t want it to be the same city.”
the boy in front of yoongi breaks eye contact with him.)
“i don’t know how i’m supposed to do this if i’m not convinced utopias are even capable of existing.”
namjoon considers yoongi’s words for a moment.
it’s namjoon’s third visit this past week.
“what do you value the most in life?”
he’s met with silence.
“you could build the utopia out of what’s most important to you.”
“i’m not good with defining those kinds of things”
“you know who’d be able to come up with something for you?”
the slight fall of yoongi’s features at the implication tells namjoon that yoongi knows very well who he’s talking about.
namjoon clears his throat. “that photographer kid didn’t die or something, right?”
there’s a concerned look on his face.
sometimes yoongi regrets not telling anyone. but whenever he tries to the words get stuck somewhere. the words disappear like a fading memory.
“no. he’s not dead.”
who says a dream has to be something grand?
you can become anybody.
we deserve a life.
whatever big or small,
you are you after all.
(yoongi and jungkook live in the same city for most of their youth.
they roam it separately at first, tracing it into their memories alone.
they cross paths when they’re both young enough to still be considered kids. they meet in the summer when the sun beats down on the slums of their city. it’s hot outside but unbearably more so indoors.
yoongi spends his days out in the open air, usually in the market. he sits on the concrete sidewalks opposite of the sun in hopes of the shaded rock cooling him down.
one day jungkook steals two pastries from a street vendor and yoongi, having watched the boy skillfully maneuver himself around the booth, approaches him. usually it takes a natural disaster to get the boy to move into direct sunlight, but for some reason yoongi feels pulled toward the boy.
“young boys shouldn’t be stealing at noon on a tuesday”
“time doesn’t matter if you’re hungry.”
yoongi stops for a moment. he didn’t expect the boy to respond.
jungkook makes a move to walk past yoongi, but yoongi steps to the side to block him.
“i haven’t seen you around.” yoongi says.
“i’m not usually around.”
yoongi looks down. he’s usually well spoken, but he hesitates for a moment.
the boy in front of him tilts his head to the side.
“those pastries aren’t the healthiest.” yoongi continues. he feels his face heat up at the words leaving his mouth.
the boy’s eyebrows shoot up.
“there’s a booth a block down that sells fish cakes.” yoongi remarks quickly. “the vendor’s deaf because his hearing got messed up during the protests a while back.”
“fish cakes?” the boy questions.
there’s a pause before the boy breaks into a quiet laugh.
somehow, between the chaos of the open market, the two bond over empty pockets and homes where the heat makes the walls crack.
by the end of their talk jungkook gives yoongi his second pastry.
that night yoongi climbs the stairs up to his family’s rundown apartment with a smile he can’t shake.)
hoseok picks up the phone after two rings.
"is it too late to decline?" yoongi asks. it's the early hours of the morning, but he can't sleep. his mind's been drifting to memories he hasn't had the courage to revisit in two years.
"it's a once in a lifetime opportunity." hoseok replies. "i'd at least consider drafting a proposal."
"but what if i can't?"
"he picked you for a reason."
(“i didn't think i’d see you in a ration line.” jungkook approaches yoongi this time.
“why not? if this city wants to pretend to care about the poor i’m going to exploit the system as much as possible.”
“i just thought you’d have too much pride or something.”
“what good does pride do for anyone?”
instead of replying, jungkook gestures to the ticket in yoongi’s hand. “split half with me.”
“why should i?”
“i already used my ration.”
“why do you need mine then?” yoongi asks.
“i didn’t use it for myself.”
the implication sends a shiver down yoongi’s spine, that jungkook gave his ration to someone else, that he steals food because he doesn’t save enough for himself.
“come on yoongi. you even have extra stamps from not collecting.”
“what if i was saving them for the feast in a few days? and that’s hyung to you.”
jungkook rolls his eyes. “then take care of me hyung.”)
yoongi clutches the phone tightly, not yet ready to hang up on hoseok.
“i just don’t feel like the right person to be building a utopia.”
yoongi recalls the hardships of his childhood, the slums, the heat, the hunger. he finds the emperor’s request strange. what does he know about utopias and perfection? why would the emperor ask for a rose from a pile of weeds?
yoongi doesn't wait for hoseok's reply before ending the call.
(yoongi and jungkook continue to cross paths at empty street corners, behind restaurant dumpsters, under makeshift lofts city officials put up when it rains.
today they're on their way to the ends of their city for their traditional camp out.
“i wish we could afford something from places like that.” jungkook points toward a street vendor selling skewers of meat. “if i ever have money i’d like to visit the islands. i heard it isn’t as hot.”
yoongi continues walking. “maybe one day.”
it takes them an hour to walk to one of the ends of their city where the outer dumps are.
“it’s almost time for the banquet.” yoongi says.
“we better hurry.”
they reach dump A54, a pile of cardboard and paper. yoongi starts climbing first, his black jacket becoming covered in dust from the thrown away parchment. when he reaches the top he offers a hand to jungkook who’s a foot below him.
the two sit at the top of the trash pile.
“any moment now.” jungkook mumbles.
in their city there’s a tradition of holding extravagant banquets every halfmoon. however, in the past decade the tradition has been corrupted. these days only the wealthy celebrate it, leaving the impoverished to their stale bread and boiled water.
yoongi leans his body against jungkook’s. the best view of a city has always been from the outside.
grey ash begins to float up in intricate designs from smokestacks miles away. yoongi and jungkook’s city is a city built on coal. it's a nasty habit in the modernized era, but it does make for a show.
“the air pollution’s getting worse.” jungkook says.
“the universe just wants to remind us we’re alive.”
when yoongi looks away from the smoke he finds jungkook’s eyes already on him. his skin is tanned from the relentless sun and holes decorate his white shirt. his hair sticks up in a few places from the hike and his lips are chapped from the wind. yet jungkook’s eyes are impossibly bright.
yoongi never thought he’d find someone like jungkook in the slums of their city.
“you could build the utopia out of what’s most important to you.”
the most important thing to him?
the back of his mind whispers buried secrets of hot summers and blisters on feet.
(it’s when they’re a little older that yoongi starts working in architectural recreation. it's important to note that he never intended to be an architect.
there's a rare job opening offering more money than yoongi's ever imagined. it’s jungkook who urges him to take it despite yoongi’s initial protest.
one week after applying he begins his job of regulating the destruction of old cities for new ones.
during this time jungkook begins going to school to become a photographer, something about being able to hold onto the things he loves.
jungkook goes through a phase of taking photos of everything he and yoongi do together. he takes pictures of the skewers of meat they begin being able to afford with yoongi’s new job. he takes a picture of the polluted fountain yoongi accidentally drops his government ID in while reaching for some of the old coins thrown in it. with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, yoongi’s pout as he stares at the piece of plastic floating to the bottom of the fountain is forever cemented into jungkook’s photo album. jungkook takes pictures in every lost corner of their city.
“you never smile in these hyung.”
“why would i? isn’t it obvious that i’m happy?”)
“if i remember something does that mean it’s important?” yoongi asks hoseok after a meeting with urban coordinators.
“it means it meant something to you.” hoseok balances a stack of papers in his arms.
yoongi waves hoseok off with a forced smile.
as he walks down the marble corridors of the capitol building, yoongi thinks he can still hear the sound of a camera and quiet laughter.
(“you can’t do this.”
“i’m sorry, but i’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“i spent my entire life here. you can’t just tear it down.”
“it’s not personal. cities have to be torn down. that’s the way it is.”
“this isn’t right.”
“the emperor ordered this to happen. it’s the law.”
“that doesn’t make it right.”
“a new city will be built here to replace this inadequate one.”
“you can’t just tear down an entire city.”
“cities are torn down every day.”
“where will we go?”
the woman in front of yoongi is met with silence.)
“have you been eating?” namjoon asks when he takes in yoongi’s physical state.
yoongi closes the door behind him ignoring the question. “thanks for coming by. i’ve been having a hard time.”
“a hard time with what exactly?”
“i’ve just been thinking a lot.” yoongi busies his hands by filling a glass of wine. “about the past, you know, past places, past people, past emotions.”
namjoon frowns. “is it hard because it’s painful?”
yoongi offers the wine to namjoon. “no it’s…” he trails off. “it’s unconventionally happy.”
(yoongi can’t pinpoint the exact moment he and jungkook realize they’re in love.
“you remind me of the stars hyung.”
“because i’m far away?”
“because you’re closer than most.”
yoongi and jungkook never directly state their love for one another. it’s said in the smallest of things.
“hyung it’s raining.”
“you shouldn’t have waited outside of my class for so long.”
“beats being in the office all afternoon.”
yoongi can’t distinguish the exact moment he falls in love. perhaps he’s been in love the whole time.
“have you ever thought about leaving this place?”
“why haven’t you?”
namjoon leaves late that night.
yoongi sits alone on his bed staring out the balcony window of his apartment.
his fingers idly play with the white blanket beneath him.
the shared things don’t remind him of jungkook anymore. the blankets, sheets, pillows? jungkook’s long erased from them.
yoongi wants to laugh at the memories. laugh. smile. mourn. cry. it’s all the same sometimes.
laughter may not be the most fitting response, but there’s something undeniably funny, undeniably ironic, about how the exact thing anchoring him in that city is the same thing that inspired him to leave.
the exact thing that brought him happiness all those years ago is the same thing tearing him apart years later.
(the first time yoongi makes jungkook cry it isn’t really yoongi’s fault at all. except it is because the boy who's become yoongi's entire life has his head in his hands before him. the boy yoongi promised to give the world to is folded in on himself.
“i didn’t think they’d react that way.” jungkook says, eyes cast down.
“it’s okay.” yoongi runs his hands soothingly down jungkook’s back. “most people aren’t too fond of my line of work. i’ve gotten worse reactions.”
“but they’re my parents.” jungkook protests.
“i’m sure they’ll come around.”
jungkook looks up, and yoongi can’t help but smile.
he doesn’t know why jungkook sticks around. there’s something about him that’s so blindingly bright, and yoongi… yoongi tears cities down for a living now. yoongi crushes once beautiful artifacts in a blink of an eye.
“you and my parents are the two most important things to me. i just wish they liked you.”
after his parents yelled at yoongi to get out of their house, jungkook followed after him with his heart in his hands. between the two jungkook was more shaken up by their reaction, the pause of confusion, the bitter realization, the slap across yoongi’s face.
jungkook did always care a little too much, did always feel everything with his entire heart.
“if anything i’m sorta glad they reacted that way.”
jungkook’s eyes widen. “why?”
“it shows that they care.”
“if they cared they wouldn’t have thrown you out.”
“i’m not talking about me. if i’m being honest, i don’t think anyone cares about me. i’m talking about the cities. they care about them being preserved rather than torn down.”
jungkook sighs. “it’s not your fault that that’s your job. it’s the only opening they had.”
yoongi hums in response.
“and you’re wrong about nobody caring about you.” jungkook buries his face into the area between yoongi’s neck and shoulder. “i care about you.”
yoongi laughs quietly. “that’s the problem.”)
on his walk home from the capitol building yoongi passes a vendor selling fried chicken and tempura.
he pauses for a moment in front of the vendor surprised by the smell of grease and salt. street vendors almost never frequent the capital. on the rare occasion that they do, yoongi's always avoided them.
this time he stops in front of it.
a young man with orange dyed hair is behind the cart of food.
he smiles at yoongi.
“i’m closing down soon if you want anything for half price.”
it’s a deal. if yoongi was still living in the slums with jungkook he probably would’ve bought out the entire cart.
instead he frowns at the boy. “sales aren’t good on this side of the city.”
the orange haired boy huffs. “tell me about it.”
“why are you selling here?”
the boy glances around quickly before leaning in closer to yoongi. “i’ve been trying to eavesdrop on the new utopia the emperor’s building.”
yoongi’s eyes widen briefly.
“i’ve been waiting to submit relocation papers in hope of them moving me there.”
“you do know they’ll probably brainwash you before you relocate.”
“practically everyone's brainwashed.” the boy replies nonchalantly.
“you won’t even realize you’re in a utopian city.”
“if it’s truly a utopia i won’t have to.” the boy says.
“do you really trust a city that much?” yoongi asks.
“it’s better than staying in a city i already know i’m not happy in.”
(“i’m actually going out to dinner with your parents tonight.”
jungkook stops walking. they’re in the market eating kebabs.
yoongi nods his head.
“i’m gonna win them over.” yoongi says.
“jeon jungkook. do you think i’m incapable of charming your parents?”
“they threw you out.” jungkook laughs. then after a moment he adds, “should i come?”
“you have that photography class.”)
yoongi purposely passes the street corner the vendor was located on previously, but the orange haired boy never shows up again.
“you know that kid who sells street food at 11th and 49th?”
hoseok pauses for a moment. “jimin?”
“do you know him?”
“no but i just reviewed his case.” hoseok pauses again. “i think his family's applying for food rations.”
“i didn’t know there were food rations here in the capital.”
“there are food rations everywhere.”
(“it would be nice to see jungkook out of the city.”
“i’ll be able to afford the paperwork for relocation within the next month.”
“the money you make still isn’t respectable.”
“when has money ever been respectable?”
jungkook’s parents give yoongi a long look.
“i’m leaving within the next month, and jungkook’s coming with me.”
jungkook's mom lets out a shaky breath. “eadile’s next isn’t it.”
yoongi’s own breath hitches for a moment.
jungkook’s parents catch the reaction with worn, tired eyes.
“jungkook and i are leaving in three weeks.”)
the phone rings four times before someone picks up.
“yoongi.” the person greets. “it’s nice to hear from you.”
“you too.” yoongi pauses for a second. “are you working right now?’’
“can i come over?”
(one night the two stumble into one of the expensive clubs only the wealthy flock to.
“i heard the rich drink something that empties their mind and leaves them in a dreamlike trance.”
“i only just earned enough money to get into this place and you already want to drabble in the wealthy’s antics?”
jungkook grins. “nothing wrong with living a little.”
yoongi looks around at the shadows surrounding them. his eyes catch on the blue mirrors that reflect beams of light around the room. yoongi never thought he’d be able to afford being in the presence of luxuries. when he accepted the job offering all those years ago he didn’t know it'd launch him into wealth.
his eyes flicker over the silhouettes of people with their heads thrown back, eyes glazed over. he notices intricate, blue patterns running along their arms, backs, collarbones. they move in dragged out motions and are unresponsive to drinks being pressed into their hands.
“they don’t look like they’re living at all.” he says.
“new here?” a boy with silver hair interrupts. his eyes are surrounded with blue dust. small diamonds decorate his skin. there’s a tray in his hands with crystal glasses filled to the brim with liquid the color of the sea.
yoongi and jungkook stare at him in silence.
the boy laughs. the sound seems too forced to be natural. “have a drink. it’s the finest ambrosia in the city.” he gestures to the drinks on his tray.
“doesn’t ambrosia only exist in myth?” jungkook finally speaks up.
yoongi watches the boy glance over to a dark side of the club before regaining his posture. “the standard procedure is taking the drink.”
when yoongi reaches forward the glass is colder than he expects it to be.
“what would standard procedure be?” yoongi asks.
“you know, the usual, taking a glass, getting fucked up, accidentally staying here for like 10 days.”
“real lively.” he comments.
jungkook points at a couple whose arms glimmer under the blue light. “what’s wrong with them?”
“they’re having a good time.” the boys says.
“what do you mean?”
“take a sip.” before yoongi can stop him the boy holds a glass up to jungkook’s mouth and guides his head back.
after he swallows a sigh leaves jungkook’s mouth.
“it’ll take a moment to go into effect.”
“what does it do?” yoongi asks.
“wait and see.” with that the boy leaves.
“hyung this stuff's really nice.”
yoongi gives jungkook a long look. jungkook’s cheeks are flushed and his pupils dilated.
“my heart isn’t racing anymore.”
“it’s a drug.”
yoongi watches as jungkook sways on his feet.
“have some.” jungkook offers yoongi the glass. “you’ve been working all day.”
yoongi brings the liquid to his lips and almost immediately feels his body respond.
his senses are flooded with a strange warmth. his gaze is drawn to the ceiling, his head suddenly heavy.
the veins under the skin on jungkook’s neck starts to faintly glow into an icy blue.
yoongi looks down. his hands' veins shine with a blue yoongi didn’t think was capable of tracing itself into him.
he starts to laugh, a small sound erupting from his chest.
jungkook smiles at him. before they know it they’re both laughing with their heads tilted upward in bliss.
yoongi doesn’t know how long he spends with his eyes cast up at the ceiling painted with blue light beams, but eventually jungkook pulls on his wrist.
he guides them to the darker shadows of the room. yoongi looks at their intertwined hands infected with shades of blue.
he feels his phone vibrate in the pocket of his jacket. he begins to pull his hand out of jungkook’s to reach for it, but the younger keeps his grasp tight.
somewhere in the back of his mind yoongi remembers something. he was supposed to tell jungkook something. his thoughts are slowed down. sluggish. he feels the vibration again. it was important. yoongi had something important to tell jungkook. he tries to remember. focus.
a tug on his wrist pulls him away from his thoughts.
yoongi's gaze returns to jungkook. jungkook’s beautiful. he really is. yoongi feels his lips spread into a smile again.
he was supposed to remember something though?
jungkook sits down up next to a wall of mirrors. yoongi slides down next to him and rests his head on the younger’s shoulder.
“i think-” yoongi wets his dry lips. “i think i was supposed to tell you something.”
but similar to how the worry arose it quickly disappears.
what was he thinking about?
yoongi traces the soft lines of jungkook’s face.
for some reason the sight of the other fills him with an unexplainable happiness.
the blue in his veins brightens.)
“do you remember the night you met me?”
“how could i not? you and jungkook got wasted one drink in.” taehyung spins the cup in his hand as he pours the coffee.
“do you think we were happy?”
taehyung’s movements stop. “are you thinking about him again?"
“i’m asking for work.”
taehyung pauses for a moment in consideration. “you guys showed up in rags and wandered around sticking out horribly. my manager had told me to kick you out.”
he begins pouring the coffee again.
“i was fully intending to kick you guys out too. but when i approached the two of you, you were looking at each other with this open amazement? enchantment? something like that.”
he pours the design of a rose into the cup.
“i asked if you guys were new instead of telling you to leave.”
“my manager wanted to kick you out because you were dressed like you were from the slums, which you were, but the way the two of you looked at eachother was worth more than anything in that club.”
(when yoongi wakes up it’s 4 days later and jungkook’s head is on his lap.
they’re no longer up against the wall of mirrors but instead settled on a coach the color of pomegranates.
the lights are still dim, blue fractals painting the room, but yoongi’s head isn’t as blurry.
“what day is it?”
yoongi startles at jungkook’s voice. “i didn’t know you were awake.”
“i didn’t think i was.” jungkook turns his head to look at yoongi. “but then i saw the velvet and came to my senses.”
“you could get used to this you know.”
jungkook ponders yoongi’s words for a moment. “the velvet, being heavily drugged, or waking up next to you?”
“all of it.”)
“how did you get out in time?” yoongi asks.
taehyung sips his coffee. “the wealthy always get out in time.”
the cafe they’re in is filled with people in a rush. yoongi never liked these cities, the ones with busy people and their busy lives and busy obligations.
“i think the real question is how you and jungkook got out of there in time.”
(“it’s your duty to carry orders out.”
“and what if i don’t?”
“you’ll be arrested for treason and executed.”
“but it wouldn’t be a federal offense.”
“you work for the emperor not this city."
“you can’t expect me to actually-”
“i wouldn’t expect anyone to do this, but it’s the emperor’s orders.”
“this city is perfectly fine.”
“yoongi.” hoseok’s tone isn’t threatening. in fact hoseok sounds more apologetic than anything. “do you not remember how you grew up?”)
“i have to build a utopia for the emperor.”
taehyung’s eyes widen. “sounds complicated.”
“someone told me to build it out of what’s important to me.”
taehyung seems to read yoongi’s mind. “you can’t build a city out of him.”
(“why didn’t you pack already?”
“i didn’t think you were serious about going.” jungkook says repressing a smile.
“you once said you wanted to visit the islands.”
“i didn’t think you’d remember.”
“of course i remember.” yoongi pauses. “don’t forget your scrapbook.”
jungkook reaches over and tucks the collection of photos into his bag. he runs a hand through his hair. “i never imagined being able to afford vacationing anywhere.”
“things are changing jungkook.”
jungkook goes to hide his smile behind his hands, but yoongi wraps his fingers around his wrist before he can.
yoongi leans in and pecks jungkook on the lips before leaning back to smile at him.
jungkook can’t help but smile back. “i suppose they are.”)
“can i build a city out of how he made me feel?”
taehyung catches onto yoongi’s words.
“i don’t know the technicalities but that could work.”
for the first time in three weeks of searching yoongi comes across an answer.
(“they don’t have street vendors here.”
“why would they? street vendors are too cheap for the wealthy class.”
“i don’t know. i guess i just miss our city.”
yoongi’s grin falters for a moment. “what’s there to miss?”
jungkook pulls on yoongi’s arm as they walk down the boardwalk 100 miles from their home. “not much” he shrugs, “eadile just has a place in my heart.”
“i can’t say the same.”
“eadile was my first love i think.” jungkook says.
“your first love pushed you into poverty.”
“lighten up hyung.”
“why are we talking about this?” yoongi asks.
“being away taught me to appreciate the smokestacks and burning sun.”
“whatever you say.”
“are you jealous hyung?”
“jealous of what?”
“me having a first love.”
yoongi scoffs. “why would i be jealous?”
jungkook turns back to face yoongi with a wide smile on his face. “don’t worry. there are a million eadile’s.” he throws his arms in the air to emphasize his words. “but there’s only one you.”)
when yoongi sketches drafts of cities he submerges himself in his thoughts.
with graphite pressed to parchment he finds his mind helplessly wandering across old emotions meant to be sewn shut.
but thread breaks and sometimes yoongi does too.
yoongi doesn’t know how many drafts are ruined by the tears that run down the bridge of his nose, the protruding bones of his cheek, the tight perse of his lips.
yoongi can’t stop them as they continue to stain the paper with an ink he can’t erase.
if you have moments where you feel happiness for a while it’s alright to stop.
(they’re walking along the coast again when jungkook stops in front of a newsstand.
yoongi almost doesn’t notice, but a quiet “hyung?” stops him in his tracks.
yoongi doesn’t look over jungkook’s shoulder because he already knows what the headline says.
the destruction of a city is never a pleasant experience. yoongi's seen hundreds of cities torn down. not once has he been able to endure the shattered glass and broken concrete without looking away.
he looks at the countless drafts of utopian cities crumpled and scattered across the floor. they’re all destroyed cities in a way. cities that never made it, cities that could’ve been.
there’s something distinctively heavy about wiping away entire cities in a single blink of an eye, nod of a head, wave of a hand.
that’s the only way yoongi can describe it. heavy. like the world being dropped on his shoulders. a city pressing down on his chest. a boy weighing down on his heart.
(“i wouldn’t be angry if you did have a role in it.”
yoongi puts his head in his hands. “don’t lie jungkook.”
jungkook swallows. “i would be upset but i…”
yoongi pushes jungkook’s hand off of his arm and stands up. jungkook stands up too.
“i wouldn’t blame you for it. cities get torn down every day. i’m sure you would’ve done something if you could.”
“listen to yourself jungkook.” yoongi’s bitter tone startles him. “eadile’s gone. our shitty apartments are gone. your family’s gone. everyone we knew… they’re gone.”
“but it’s not your fault. you made me bring my scrapbook because of that right? so we could remember?”
yoongi nods his head.
“it’s not your fault.” jungkook says.
he watches as tears begin to form in yoongi's eyes.
yoongi turns away from him. jungkook reaches over and pulls him into an embrace.
“i wanted to quit.” yoongi’s words are whispered into jungkook’s chest. “hoseok said i couldn’t. not until eadile was gone. he said i was lucky because i’d get out alive. i’m done now though. i’m not… i’m never going to do anything like that again.”
jungkook feels his eyes begin to burn with tears. “it’s okay.”
jungkook isn’t sure though. he isn’t sure if everything really is okay. he isn’t sure if things will be. jungkook doesn’t know if he’s mad at yoongi, doesn’t know if he truly blames the man in front of him.
“he told me i was lucky to get out alive.” yoongi mutters this a few moments later. “but i would’ve been better off dying with everyone else.”)
yoongi finds one of jungkook’s old scrapbooks from the beginning of his career.
he looks at old pictures of him smiling at ceremonies for his cities. of course none of the inhabitants know he’s the architect. it’s confidential information. most inhabitants don’t even know their cities are built by a singular person.
in a majority of the photos he’s alone, but on a rare occasion there’ll be one of him and jungkook in front of a fountain or temple.
as he flips through the photos he wonders which cities are still alive and which ones are now crushed piles of dust.
(lying separately in a bed, jungkook turns his head to stare at yoongi’s figure in the dark.
“what do we do now?”
yoongi doesn’t expect the question. “i don’t know.”
“i went to the city hall yesterday, and they offered me a job documenting cities with photography. they said they were sorry about what happened in eadile.”
“you shouldn’t mention eadile to people you don’t know.”
“they brought it up to me.”
yoongi narrows his eyes. “how the hell did they know you were from eadile?”
“it’s not every day a lower class citizen escapes the destruction of their city.” jungkook pauses for a moment. “especially without having their memory messed up.”
yoongi doesn’t reply.
“the job offering requires me to travel a lot.” jungkook looks down. “i was-”
yoongi cuts him off. “don’t let me hold you back. take the job. you love photography.”
somewhere beneath the blankets of their bed jungkook reaches out and rests his hand on top of yoongi’s.
yoongi immediately relaxes from the touch.
“i was going to ask if you wanted to go with me.”)
yoongi rolls a piece of paper open in front of taehyung.
“this is just a rough draft, but let me know what you think.”
taehyung examines the sketches skillfully organized across the paper.
it took yoongi two weeks to finish the first draft.
“i know absolutely nothing about architecture, but this is insane.” taehyung leans in closer. “i’ve never seen cities in the process of being made, but this is beautiful. have you shown jungko-”
taehyung closes his mouth.
“i’m sorry i didn-”
“it’s fine.” yoongi interrupts him. “seriously it’s fine.”
taehyung looks like he wants to say more but stops himself.
(“this is nice.”
they’re sitting on a bench at the top of a city built in the sky. sky cities are quick to deteriorate from the wind. most of the cities jungkook's assigned to photograph are the fleeting ones fading in the sky.
“are you cold? do you want my jacket?” yoongi asks as he watches jungkook’s hands shake as he snaps another picture.
“i’m good.” jungkook says. “almost done.”
jungkook’s quiet. he’s been quiet for the past few days. it unsettles yoongi.
yoongi can’t name the city they’re in. he never had an interest in getting to know cities because he had always been preparing them to be destroyed.
it’s easier to kill something you don’t know.
this city’s nice though. it’s high up in the clouds built on overlapping bridges. the oxygen's thin though so it isn’t recommended to be outside for long.
despite the chill of being up so high, looking at jungkook as he captures different angles of the city ignites something warm in him.
“what’s this place called?” yoongi asks.
“does it matter? it’s going to be gone soon.” jungkook’s words leave his mouth like wind.
jungkook must remember yoongi’s philosophy of learning about the dying.
the thought of jungkook actually following it makes yoongi frown.
“but that’s what you’re here for. to take pictures of it. to keep it alive.”
jungkook doesn’t reply as he focuses the lens on his camera.
“the whole point of you doing this is to immortalize it.”
he watches as something deflates inside of jungkook. “nothing’s immortal hyung.”)
after his meeting with taehyung yoongi goes home.
he stumbles into bed. moonlight paints patterns across the walls of his apartment.
a thought in the back of his mind keeps him awake .
what if it doesn’t work? what if it isn’t good enough?
the most important thing to him? is it important enough?
it has to be.
yoongi lets out a breath.
it has to be.
his fingers subconsciously reach for a hand that isn’t there anymore.
(three days later a car painted magenta whirls past them. jungkook dyed his hair red to fit with the city’s disposition.
“neon hurts my eyes.” yoongi complains hoping to get a reaction out of jungkook.
the younger doesn’t reply.
“what’s the point of building a flashy city? the only outcome is cheap food and headaches.”
they’re walking down a decorated side street. lights flash around them painting the city in vibrant blues, reds, greens. there’s loud music playing and kids run around in the streets barely being missed by racing cars. light posts emit gases that smell like mangos. everything about the city is a headache.
“it’s like they want me to die.” yoongi jokes.
the two continue to walk hand in hand. after a few paces the concrete is replaced by a velvet walkway.
yoongi pauses for a moment to look down at it.
“why’d you stop?” jungkook asks from beside him.
yoongi smiles to himself. “remember that morning we woke up on a velvet sofa?”
jungkook brings his eyes down to the ground where soft velvet covers the concrete. after a few breaths jungkook’s lips spread into a small smile too.
“at least that taehyung kid isn’t here.” yoongi says.
jungkook can’t hold back his laugh.)
namjoon sits beside yoongi reviewing furnishment details of his city.
“why does each bathroom have two sinks?” namjoon asks.
“because it makes sense. it is a city for lovers.”
namjoon nods his head.
“carving the glass sinks is going to be expensive.”
“i’ve done worse.” yoongi smiles to himself. “one time jungkook convinced me to construct a bridge of hollowed out emerald and topaz. do you know how it ended up looking?”
“no.” yoongi replies with a lighthearted laugh. “it looked ridiculous.”
(“has anyone contacted you about a job yet?” jungkook asks one afternoon while they’re on a ferry to their next destination.
“nothing i’m interested in.”
with consideration of his first job, yoongi's being careful with choosing his next occupation.
jungkook rests his chin on the side railing of the boat and peers down at the water.
“what about being an architect?” he asks softly.
yoongi knows jungkook's anxious about him getting a job. he can see it in the way the younger always visits the city halls of every city they visit to inquire about job openings.
it’s not because jungkook doesn't like yoongi following him around but because he’s worried. worried about being perhaps, maybe, possibly not enough for him.
“the emperor actually offered me a place in the architecture program.” yoongi says. “i declined though.”
“it’s almost impossible to be offered a job as an architect these days. the emperor must’ve really wanted you in the program.”
“but wouldn’t that be a little ambitious? to go from tearing down cities to building new ones?”
“you’d be good at it hyung.” jungkook says.
yoongi stops himself from replying too quickly. “i’ll think about it.”)
a lot goes into being an architect and building cities.
yoongi stares down at the embargo proposal for his city with tired eyes.
he scans the list of banned goods. one of the first on the list is ambrosia. he hesitantly crosses it out.
yoongi usually doesn’t target specific drugs. he’s an advocate for letting his cities be as free as reasonably possible. of course there are guidelines and regulations he has to follow. it wouldn’t be a city without some sort of order.
but this city is different. this is his city. this is his utopia.
a city of lovers, they called it.
yoongi looks back down at the document in front of him. he adds another cross next to ambrosia.
(four months after his talk with jungkook about being an architect, yoongi accidentally builds the sun city of talithyia.)
a week after yoongi sends in his official proposal, his utopian city is approved.
when it’s construction begins namjoon buys him a bottle of champaign.
“it’s not even finished.” yoongi says.
“i’m just proud you’ve come this far.”
“is drafting a proposal that impressive?”
“for someone who’s been through what you have, yeah.”
“what’s that supposed to mean?” yoongi asks in confusion. he never told namjoon why he stopped building cities two years ago. he never told namjoon about jungkook.
“you went from tearing cities down to building them, and you’ve built a utopia of all things. that’s impressive.”
yoongi relaxes at namjoon’s response.
after a few breaths namjoon adds, “i know something happened to you a while ago with that photographer kid who followed you around.”
yoongi’s eyes are immediately back on namjoon.
“maybe one day you’ll tell me about it.”
(“this ID's fancier than your old one.” jungkook points out while examining the piece of plastic. “min yoongi. official architect of emperor khan.”
“i didn’t have time to smile for the picture.” yoongi laughs while taking the ID back from jungkook.
on instinct jungkook raises his own camera up to yoongi’s face and snaps a picture of him laughing.
he must have hundreds of photos of yoongi smiling by now.
“it’s sorta incredible that the emperor requested for us to work together creating and documenting cities.”
“i think he feels bad about eadile.” yoongi says.
“why would he? isn’t he the one who requested for it to be torn down?”
“apparently there were some false reports and it didn’t meet the criteria to be destroyed.” yoongi recalls the news article he read a few months back. “something like that.”
jungkook doesn’t react for a second, but then he swallows. “i feel like i should be more upset than i am.”
“it’s okay to be upset.”
“i know. but for some reason i’m just...not.” jungkook shifts his camera into his other hand by his side. “i’m happy right now, and that’s what matters to me. being upset again is like choosing between being happy here with you or being unhappy with everything that isn’t here.”
yoongi doesn’t know what to say. “i’m glad you're happy.”
“me too.” jungkook brings his camera back up to his face and takes another picture of yoongi. “sometimes i think about this, about how i would rather be happy than logical. i should be upset about eadile. i really should. it’d make more sense for me to be upset.”
“but being happy here in the moment far away from that wrecked city makes all of that frustration and anger not worth it.” jungkook says quietly.
jungkook always did feel everything a little too wholeheartedly. this yoongi remembers well. he remembers back when jungkook’s parents kicked him out how jungkook kneeled on the pavement next to him with tears in his eyes. he remembers back when eadile was first destroyed how jungkook hugged him instead of reacting to the fact that his city, his childhood, his entire life was gone. jungkook always did feel everything a little too much, always disregarding logic for whatever he felt in his heart.
“can you promise me something hyung?”
“anything.” yoongi replies in a whisper.
“don’t let me stop myself from being happy.”)
even in retrospect it's a loaded promise. it's a heavily loaded promise.
yoongi sits on his bed late one night. the spot next to him is empty.
was keeping that promise worth it? was it worth being this alone?
(“the emperor wants me to build a city of flowers.”
“what’s stopping you?”
“use fake flowers.” jungkook says.
“it’ll be obvious they aren’t real.”
jungkook’s head is in yoongi’s lap. he runs his fingers through the younger's hair.
they’re staying in the capital so yoongi can easily work on the emperor's commissions.
“make them smell really sweet so no one realizes they’re fake.”
yoongi lazily grins down at the boy below him. “do you think they’ll fall for it during inspection?”
“they always fall for things during inspection. most people forget they're supposed to be inspectors anyway.”
yoongi laughs leaning down to press a kiss to jungkook’s forehead.)
the news of the emperor building a utopia becomes a worldwide headline.
the emperor almost never approves of proposed utopias, but he approves of yoongi’s. it’s construction is almost finished too.
acylis. the city of lovers.
taehyung shows him an article about the city when yoongi visits his cafe.
something in yoongi’s heart feels unconventionally warm.
it startles him.
he hasn’t felt something like that in a while.
(“four years ago i conducted the destruction of the city that once stood here.”
yoongi mumbles this to jungkook as he looks at the levelled acres of land in front of him.
“who would’ve thought i’d build a new one in its ruin.”)
with destroyed cities comes destroyed people, but the same goes otherwise.
with new cities comes new people and everything that comes with them.
“did you receive papers from that jimin kid for relocation?”
yoongi hears hoseok move papers around on his desk before replying, “yeah. he dropped them off this morning. why?”
“can you make sure he’s relocated to acylis?”
there’s a pause over the line before hoseok lets out a breath and then, “sure. no problem.”
(jungkook positions his camera to capture the towering cathedral in front of him.
“if everything’s made of glass does that mean everything’s see through?"
“it’s just an illusion.” yoongi says watching the boy in front of him take photos. “nobody wants a truly see through city.”
he names it betnia. a city for the searching. a city for those looking for something.
everything is formatted openly. designing space measurements took a long time. the city is contained within a glass sphere and with every wall, ceiling, floor made of glass it'd seem like everything's out in the open for everyone to see.
“one way glass hides anything confidential.” yoongi explains.
people get lost in betnia. yoongi created it that way. when you yourself are lost you tend to forget you were once looking for something.
it’s a beautiful city. with glass columns and glass windmills it’s quite the sight. the emperor hung jungkook’s pictures of it in the capitol building’s entry hall.
“doesn’t one way glass defeat the purpose of it being a city for the unhidden?” jungkook questions.
yoongi lightly hits jungkook on the arm. “i only had one month to plan it.”)
acylis is built faster than yoongi anticipates, and before he knows it he’s standing at the gate of the city looking up at the flower pots hanging from it.
he can’t help the smile that spreads across his face as his gaze traces the people ambling around the streets.
roses are delicately placed among the people, planted in vases, held by hands, tucked behind ears.
the most important thing to him? it’s here right in front of him.
it’s in each fond look shared between two people, each embrace, each laugh, each stutter of the heart.
the most important thing? it took a while for yoongi to find an answer, but having felt it once before it’s undeniable.
(“i’ve been commissioned to build a city for myself.”
“do you have any ideas?”
“i was going to build it for you.”)
after what happened all those years ago, you’d think yoongi would’ve learned by now the problem with building a city for someone.
(“i drew some sketches as ideas for our city” jungkook says closing the door to their balcony behind him.
yoongi’s feet are propped up on the railing as the sky slowly bleeds into oranges and reds.
the emperor moved them to a sky apartment as a benefit for yoongi’s three past successful cities.
jungkook turns his sketchpad around for yoongi to see.
yoongi leans over to carefully inspect the drawing.
“this marketplace looks a lot like the one from eadile.”
jungkook flips a page of the sketchbook.
taped to it is one of jungkook’s old photographs from when they lived in eadile. in it yoongi's palm is up against his forehead in attempt to block out the sun as he squints at jungkook’s camera. all around him is the marketplace where the two spent most of their youth.
“it’s because it is.”
yoongi blinks up at jungkook to see if the younger’s joking. jungkook’s face is unforgivingly serious.
“it’ll be like our city again. imagine it hyung.”
“are you really ready to go back?”
“it won’t be going back. it’ll be going forward.”
“how could rebuilding a dead city be going forward.”
“but what if it never died.”
“our city died a long time ago.”
“but what if it never died for me.” )
it’s alright to stop.
there’s no need to run without knowing the reason.
in a cafe overlooking the capital’s rose gardens, taehyung and namjoon sit.
“you know, i heard acylis is the happiest city in the world.”
taehyung envisions the people walking hand in hand and their bright faces as rose petals decorate them. “i suppose it is.”
namjoon taps his fingers against the table.
taehyung watches the nervous tick and leans back in his chair. “why’d you call me?”
namjoon’s fingers hesitantly stop.
taehyung raises an eyebrow at him.
“it’s about yoongi.” he says.
“i had a feeling it was.”
“he’s not…” namjoon trails off. “he’s not answering my calls. i haven’t seen him in weeks.”
“maybe he went on vacation.” taehyung remarks.
“i checked his relocation record and he’s still in the city.”
taehyung ponders namjoon’s words for a moment. “isn’t that a violation of his privacy?”
“i’m worried about him.”
“what does that have to do with me?”
namjoon holds his breath and then releases it. “you knew him before he became an architect, right?”
taehyung tilts his head to the side. “i did.”
“i was hoping you’d be able to tell me about him.”
“why would i do that?” taehyung frowns. “isn’t that his own story to tell?”
“i’m worried about him.”
“i’m worried too, but it really isn’t my story to tell.”
“what about that photographer kid he used to hang out with?”
taehyung crosses his arms defensively. “what about him?”
“did you know him?”
taehyung opens his mouth to snap at the man in front of him, but he stops when he sees the genuine concern in namjoon’s eyes.
taehyung thinks about the young boy he met back in eadile. the boy with jet black hair and big eyes, the one that fell asleep in his club high off ambrosia, the boy who’d take pictures of everything he loved because he was scared of forgetting.
"yeah." taehyung sighs. “i knew jungkook.”
the people of acylis roam the streets together, dance together, laugh together, live together.
they’re in love.
yoongi turns in his bed.
he’s in love.
or at least he had been.
nevertheless he was in love and that’s what matters.
that’s what should matter.
it’s okay that he’s alone now.
alone to roam the streets, dance, laugh, live, love.
“i’ll tell you about jungkook but only things that don’t involve yoongi.”
namjoon nods his head.
“what do you want to know?”
taehyung hums while looking down at his hands. “jungkook grew up in eadile below the poverty line. from what i heard he was a happy kid who loved his family, usual happy kid stuff.”
“yoongi grew up in eadile.”
taehyung swallows. “he did.” he pauses before continuing. “after yoongi visited me the other day i did some research to figure out how jungkook managed to avoid eadile's destruction. jungkook was the only undocumented, lower class inhabitant that survived its collapse. since the city was wrongfully torn down he was offered immunity instead of having his brain wiped. he got a job as a photographer and has been working in the field ever since.”
“but i haven’t seen work from him for years, where’s he now?” namjoon asks.
taehyung looks away, uncertainty painted across his face. “it’s a complicated situation.”
“i have time.”
“yoongi never explained it to me. after eadile was rebuilt he just told me jungkook was gone. safe and happy but gone.”
“is he alive?”
“it’d be on his record if he wasn’t.” taehyung says.
“why doesn’t yoongi talk about it?”
taehyung rests his chin on the palm of his hand. “jungkook’s important to yoongi.”
“that’s why i’m worried.”
they say the city of lovers is the happiest city in the world.
perhaps it is for those living in it.
but for the architect, the creator, the man who built it out of a love he lost, acylis is the saddest city he ever builds.
to live like this,
to survive like this is a small dream to me.
to have a dream,
to grasp a dream,
to breathe is sometimes too much to handle.
blue lips on blue veins.
“yoongi. this isn’t healthy. you should come out.” namjoon knocks on the door again.
“it’s been 30 minutes. he might be asleep. we can come back tomorrow.”
blue veins turning bluer.
i was told to do this."
“if you don’t get enough vitamin d you’ll die.” namjoon’s forehead is pressed against yoongi’s door.
“well what would you say?”
taehyung turns away from namjoon and toward the door. “yoongi, people are worried. just let us know you’re okay.”
“but he’s...he’s coming back.”
“stop yelling, it’s making it worse.”
“but i can’t just let him fade away in there.”
“he’ll come around.” taehyung puts his hand on namjoon’s shoulder.
“but what if he doesn’t.”
taehyung rests his back against yoongi’s door late one night.
“you don’t have to do it for namjoon or me.” he says softly. “you could do it for jungkook.”
he didn’t tell namjoon he was going to yoongi’s. he didn’t truly think he’d find himself at the other’s door.
“i know you care about him. he wouldn’t want you tearing yourself apart in there. he probably needs you right now just as much as you need him.”
taehyung bites his lip.
“if you don’t do it for him, do it for what the two of you had.”
namjoon rushes into taehyung’s cafe the next morning with a paper in his hand.
“he left a note this morning saying he left.”
taehyung looks up from where he’s pouring drinks. “where to?”
“but he said…”
“he said he’d come back for me.”
eadile’s smaller than yoongi remembers.
something about building extravagant cities in his recent years dullens the appearance of the city he once called home.
of course eadile had its painted boardwalks and sunset window sills. like every city it was initially built to flourish.
but yoongi grew up in shadowed parts of the city where boardwalks and painted glass were a luxurious myth.
eadile was an elegant city as long as you weren’t living in poverty.
the city was beautiful. it really was. yoongi’s part in it just happened to not be.
when yoongi rebuilt it he replaced the slums with yellow brick apartment buildings.
it isn’t that he wanted to erase the memories. he tells himself this everyday. he got rid of the slums because every awful memory he has was caused by the fact that he grew up with little in the part of a city that could’ve had so much more.
the hungry are going to get food one way or another, so why not feed them yourself instead of forcing them to turn to theft?
when yoongi scans his papers the city gates open for him.
as requested, seokjin is waiting for him on the other side.
“how was the ride over?”
“when’s the next train downtown?” yoongi asks.
seokjin looks down at his watch. “four minutes.”
it’s when they’re standing on the train platform that yoongi gathers the courage to ask about jungkook.
he’s not sure he wants to hear seokjin’s response, but his lungs burn to know.
“how is he?” yoongi asks under his breath.
seokjin looks down.
it’s enough of an answer for yoongi.
fingernails on a velvet sofa.
fingernails on collarbones.
fingernails on cheekbones.
fingernails on fingernails.
it all feels the same.
seokjin’s hand wraps around yoongi’s wrist.
“are you sure you want to go in there right now?” he asks.
yoongi swallows. “is there something you aren’t telling me?”
there’s a sadness in seokjin’s eyes yoongi can’t explain.
“i can’t play these games with you seokjin. if something happened-” yoongi’s words get caught in his throat. “if something happened, he killed himself or the ambrosia killed him, just tell me.”
“he’s not dead.” seokjin bites his lip. “he’s just not the same.”
yoongi’s breath catches. “is he happy?”
seokjin looks above their heads at the club’s fluorescent sign. “i don’t know.”
time passes slowly.
the hands are still there.
weighing on my arms, chest, back.
when a person drinks ambrosia their veins are infected with a hormone scientists invented in 2089.
when taken it sustains a person’s health and slows down bodily functions. it’s a common drug among the youth but is extremely expensive on the market.
if taken enough, a person’s veins will fade into a blue color.
his veins are the first thing yoongi notices when he sees him from across the dimly lit room.
jungkook’s body is covered in intricate maps of blue.
he’s sitting on a velvet sofa with two boys and a girl draped over him. his silver shirt’s half unbuttoned and hands trail across his collarbones.
jungkook doesn’t seem affected by it though. his fingers mindlessly tap on the velvet beneath him, and his head is tilted up toward the ceiling.
“people think he’s a regular so they treat him like a regular.” seokjin tries to explain.
the sight causes something horrific to erupt in yoongi’s stomach.
he can’t tear his eyes away though.
yoongi watches as jungkook’s head falls to the side. his palms then flatten against the sofa. when yoongi focuses on the blue veins decorating jungkook’s hands he notices the slight tremble in them.
yoongi’s eyes trace the golden skin of the boy he calls his whole world.
movement causes him to focus back on jungkook’s hands. his fingers ball the velvet fabric in his fists. yoongi watches as jungkook’s chest begins to rise and fall rapidly.
“i have to inject him with another dose of ambrosia.” seokjin replies. “it must be wearing off.”
“how much are you giving him? this isn’t normal. he shouldn’t be shaking.” yoongi’s vision begins to blur at the sight in front of him.
“it’s the same dose you had me give him the first night.”
yoongi watches as jungkook head falls back against the couch again.
jungkook’s lips let out a breathy noise as his face scrunches up in pain.
“he shouldn’t be in pain from the ambrosia wearing off.”
seokjin places a steady hand on yoongi’s shoulder. “most people drink ambrosia for a night. you’ve had him on it here for 2 years.”
yoongi feels his heartbeat pick up.
he leaves after that. he tells seokjin to take care of jungkook and to stop anyone who tries to touch the younger. he tells him he’ll come back. he just needs a moment to rethink his decisions, contemplations, mistakes.
i’m supposed to be waiting...
it takes two days for yoongi to return to the club.
seokjin began decreasing the dosages in small amounts, but jungkook’s still experiencing withdrawals from the drug.
his head’s tilted back on the velvet sofa and his hands shake as they gently tap on the fabric.
yoongi sits down next to him.
jungkook’s dilated pupils remain fixed on the ceiling. he doesn’t reply.
yoongi eyes begin to burn.
he reaches down and intertwines his fingers with jungkook’s.
jungkook’s hand doesn’t stop shaking.
i was supposed to remember something.
i was supposed to remember someone.
the next time yoongi visits, jungkook’s eyes are closed as he dozes on the sofa.
yoongi sits down next to the boy and observes the rise and fall of the younger’s chest. the blue in jungkook’s veins is slowly fading and with the dulling color yoongi tries to find hope.
red dots are scattered across his arms from the injections seokjin gave him. jungkook stopped drinking ambrosia, something about not being able to swallow two months following his first sip of it.
his body is noticeably smaller, his collarbones sticking out further than before. his hair is pushed back off of his face.
jungkook's breathing is slow and shallow. yoongi presses his ear to jungkook's chest.
he hears a faint beat.
yoongi pulls jungkook into a hug.
he doesn’t know how long he stays like that, arms wrapped tightly around the boy he’d build an entire universe for.
tear stains on a shirt.
i’m not crying.
these aren’t my tears.
“i built another city for you.” yoongi whispers to jungkook one day.
jungkook is still unresponsive.
“it’s a city of lovers. you’d like it.”
even when yoongi presses kisses to them, jungkook’s hands never stop trembling.
“sometimes i wonder if i should’ve just stayed in eadile when it was destroyed.”
jungkook doesn’t reply. he doesn’t have to.
“maybe that was the first mistake i made.”
hands touching arms.
hands touching cheeks.
hands touching hands.
but they all feel the same.
“he’s getting worse. his breaths are shallow. he doesn’t open his eyes.”
“he’s in pain yoongi.”
“i know. why isn’t he getting better?”
“i don’t know.”
“why not?” yoongi asks in frustration.
seokjin runs a hand through his hair. “i don’t know anyone who’s withdrawn from taking ambrosia for as long as he did.”
“is there anything we can do?”
seokjin presses his lips together. “we can put him back on it. he’ll be in less pain, more responsive.”
yoongi bites his lip.
“we can do that while i research other ways.”
yoongi nods his head. after a few moments he asks, “why didn’t you tell me he was getting this bad?”
seokjin frowns. “i’m not even supposed to know who you are. how would i contact you without it seeming suspicious? i’ve been waiting for your call for two years.”
when yoongi goes to see jungkook again, jungkook’s back on his original dosage of ambrosia.
his head’s tilted back and his breathing’s steady.
“i’m sorry.” yoongi says after minutes of silence.
jungkook hums softly, eyes closed.
it’s the first response yoongi’s witnessed from him.
yoongi leans closer, wrapping his hand around jungkook’s.
“i’m sorry this happened to you.”
jungkook’s lips pull into a slight smile.
yoongi patiently watches as jungkook’s head tilts to the side. his hair falls over his forehead.
“keep talking.” jungkook mumbles.
yoongi’s heart stops for a moment. he squeezes jungkook’s hand.
“you were…” jungkook speaks airily. “city of lovers…” his eyelids move, but his eyes don’t open. “your voice. you were here earlier.”
“i was.” yoongi says shakily.
jungkook’s muscles strain as he tries to sit up, but his body falls back against the sofa.
“do you remember anything else?” yoongi asks quietly.
jungkook taps his fingers against yoongi’s hand. “you have a nice voice.”
fingernails on palms.
voice like a lullaby.
“i went back to lasira a while back for work. the carving you did in that loft we stayed in is still there.” yoongi whispers into jungkook’s hair.
jungkook’s head rests on yoongi’s shoulder.
“the people there came up with a myth about how the gods left it there for them to figure out. i still can’t believe you carved the sun into a city that’s underground.”
when yoongi visits him next, jungkook’s eyes are open.
jungkook doesn’t seem to recognize him until yoongi pulls jungkook’s hand into his.
“you’re the person who keeps telling me stories.” jungkook smiles.
yoongi smiles back. “you’re the person who keeps listening.” he jokes.
“i’m always listening.” jungkook says. “how do you come up with your stories?”
something cold climbs up yoongi’s spine. “i don’t come up with them.” he replies. “they’re all real.”
jungkook’s smile fades away. “i wish i had stories like yours.”
yoongi’s grip on his hand loosens. “but you do.”
“i don’t remember any.”
hands holding hands.
warm and cold.
i’m supposed to remember something.
the sun beating down.
dirt beneath fingernails.
not getting enough food.
i’m supposed to remember someone.
someone who said...
“where are you from?” jungkook asks.
it hurts. jungkook not remembering him.
“eadile.” jungkook repeats to himself.
i’m waiting for someone.
that’s what it is.
jungkook doesn’t remember him, but that’s okay. it’s okay. it really is.
he doesn’t know why he keeps coming back. he doesn’t know why he keeps hurting himself more.
yoongi finds jungkook easily in the dark room.
“do you want to go someplace with me?” he asks.
jungkook’s fingers stop their usual tapping.
“we could go for a walk?”
jungkook blinks a few times. “i’d love to, but i can’t leave this place.”
yoongi lets out a breath. “why not?”
“i’m waiting for someone.” jungkook replies simply.
“i can’t remember.”
“how can you wait for someone you can’t remember?”
“they told me to.” jungkook mumbles defensively. “they said...they said they’d come back for me.”
yoongi knows jungkook’s telling the truth.
jungkook just doesn’t know it’s yoongi who told him that.
“why are you crying?”
“i did something bad.”
“it couldn’t be that bad.”
“you can’t be the judge of that.”
“well what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”
yoongi thinks carefully before answering.
“there once was a boy who photographed the things he loved.
he easily fell in love with the city he grew up in, the buildings, the bridges, the sidewalks, but the city didn’t love him back. it drove him into a life of sunburns and empty stomachs. the city refused to love him, but that never stopped him from loving it.
he was happy too.
i met him when i was young, too young to understand how love worked.
the boy poured his heart into everything.
i didn’t understand.
one day i tricked him into leaving his city behind. i tore it down thinking it was for his own good.
but i was wrong.
i didn’t understand how love worked. he unknowingly cried in his sleep months after the collapse of his city.
later he got a job photographing things he was told to love, other cities, other buildings, other bridges, other sidewalks.
he wasn’t as happy as he used to be, and it was my fault too.
he told me he was happy, but he wasn’t. people who are happy don’t dream of rebuilding memories from their past.
i rebuilt his city for him. that’s how i thought love worked.
i rebuilt his city and left him there thinking he would be happy.
earlier on i promised him to not let himself prevent his own happiness, and i thought that was love.
we spent one night in a club high off ambrosia, and he told me he was the happiest he’s been in awhile.
i connected dots i shouldn’t have.
i left him alone that night.
i thought he’d be happier without me. that’s what i told myself.
i wanted to come back, but i never had the guts to. i wanted to come back for him but weeks became months became years.
i told myself he was okay, that it was okay.
i thought that’s what love was. letting go.”
“is it?” jungkook asks. his eyes are closed.
yoongi looks down at him with tears in his eyes. “it's not. at this point i'm not sure what it is.”
jungkook hums. “where’s the boy now?”
yoongi holds back a sob. “i don’t know.”
why is he crying?
yoongi watches as jungkook reaches forward and wraps his fingers around a glass of ambrosia.
he holds it up to yoongi.
“drink this. it’ll make you feel better. you should stay here and wait with me…wait for that person i’m supposed to remember. they’re coming back for me. they are. maybe they’ll save you too.”